Who is Jacquie Renairre?

No, the title of this post isn’t some weird Atlas Shrugged reference. Instead it’s a jumping off point to looking at the main character of my Tethys Chronicles steampunk series. You’ve seen the covers of The Exile’s Violin and the upcoming Terraviathan, right? I’ll post ’em here. Take a gander; don’t worry, I’ll wait.

The Exile's Violin (Tethys Chronicles #1) by R.S. Hunter

And now for Terraviathan!Terraviathan (Rara Avis cover)

(A big thank you to Enggar Adirasa for the art and the fine folks at Rara Avis for the cover design. If these two books don’t scream steampunk to you, then just take my word for it. There’s steam and punk in them, even if they don’t take place in Victorian England or even our world)

So Jacquie Renairre is the woman on the front of both books (shocking, right? Having the main character on the cover?) But who is she?

Simply put: Jacquie Renairre is a survivor. Jacquie Renairre is somebody who doesn’t give up. Jacquie Renairre is a woman.

I’m not going to lie when I first started writing The Exile’s Violin, I didn’t have any particular reason as to why I wanted the main character to be a young woman in her 20s. I just thought it would be cool. And to be quite honest, that’s what drove a lot of the initial planning for the book.

But then things went deeper than that.

As I wrote and outlined, I knew I needed more to my main character than “it’d be cool to have a steampunk book with a woman private eye main character.” So what did I do next? I made character sheets. (Maybe someday I’ll share them with the world, but not on this day!)

I examined situations and beliefs that a character in this fantasy world might encounter and thought, how would Jacquie react to this? What would she do? What would she believe in? What would she fight for? I looked to other people I know, most importantly my wife. I asked, how would her sarcasm and–not going to lie–her vengeful streak come out, sometimes even at inopportune times? And the answers to those questions became the basis for Jacquie.

By the end of the book, after numerous drafts (and that’s a blog post for another time–how many drafts it took to get the book into the shape it’s in now) Jacquie Renairre emerged as a character who it’s really easy for me as a writer to get into.

Jacquie Renairre is more than just a “cool action hero.” She’s a character who’s been wronged in the past and carries those scars with her wherever she goes, who won’t let those scars hold her back, and she’s someone who will stop at nothing to fight for what she believes is right. She’s a character who has a multitude of stories within her.

But don’t just take my word for it. Read Jacquie’s story and draw your own conclusions. The Exile’s Violin out now from Rara Avis, and then come back when the sequel is released. I want to know what you all think!

Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key?

That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport at her side, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.

Available Now:

Direct from the Publisher


Barnes & Noble

The Exile’s Violin Review Copy Requests

The Exile's Violin (Tethys Chronicles #1) by R.S. HunterOh, hello there. I didn’t see you come in. Stay awhile and listen. Oh, don’t worry. I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.

My first novel, The Exile’s Violin, was just re-released by Rara Avis, an imprint of PDMI, with a new cover layout, editing, and formatting! I want to make sure if you’re interested in reviewing it that you can get a copy in your hands as quickly as possible. To do that, I direct your attention here! *tada* This is PDMI’s review copy request form. Fill it out and get yourself a copy!

I appreciate any and all reviews, so make sure to request a copy from my publisher if you like any of the following**: me, steampunk, sci-fi, airships, gunfights, airship fights, adventure, reading, books, kittens, puppies, go-karts, slip-n-slides with the little pools at the end, extension ladders, extension cords, grading extensions, hair extensions, Land Before Time (1 & 2; none of the others), physics, metaphysics, metafiction, Metatron, and just plain Tron.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy the novel!

**Some of the above may not be featured in The Exile’s Violin

Flowers of the Sky: The Collection cover

A Reward and Thank You for My Readers

Flowers of the Sky: The Collection coverEarlier this week The Exile’s Violin was free on Amazon. It ended up hitting #3 in the Epic Fantasy subcategory under Free Science Fiction & Fantasy. That’s certainly a result that will give an author the warm and fuzzies.

So as a thank you and reward to all my readers, I have a special gift for all of you who downloaded The Exile’s Violin or purchased it in the past. You send me your Amazon confirmation email or a screen shot of your receipt, and I’ll send you an electronic copy of my mini-anthology Flowers of the Sky: The Collection. (ePub or Kindle format only for now)

That’s all you have to do! “Easy as eating pancakes” as my 8th grade math teacher used to say. And if you want to help me out, feel free to write reviews of any my works. Post ’em to Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, wherever you want. Any little bit helps and I appreciate it a ton.

Send your proofs of purchase to rshunter (at) rshunter-author (dot) com. Remember to tell me if you want an ePub copy or a Kindle copy of Flowers of the Sky.

Hydra Publications Summer Bash July 16-17

Hydra Summer Bash Gives You 30 eBooks for Free

Hydra Publications Summer Bash July 16-17

Hydra Publications has a special treat for you today and tomorrow. Every now and then a publisher will offer maybe one or two eBooks for free. It’s unheard of for them to give you thirty. Until now!

Hydra Publications is throwing a Summer Bash where you can download thirty of their titles for the low low price of nothing. Today July 16 and tomorrow July 17 only! It’s a great chance to get some amazing books for your Kindle.

I highly recommend picking up the two books in the Artifacts of Empire series, The Universal Mirror and The Jealousy Glass, by Gwen Perkins.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. The Exile’s Violin will also be part of this Summer Bash. Considering the fact that the sequel, Terraviathan, is coming out in December, you might as well read the first one now.  If you wouldn’t mind moseying on over to Amazon and pickin’ it up, why, I’d be just thrilled. Thanks ever so much. Go here for a complete list of Hydra’s titles at Amazon.

Statistics for The Exile's Violin

The Free Book Experiment

Statistics for The Exile's Violin

Statistics! Everyone loves statistics! Or maybe it’s just the RPG and baseball fan in me. Let’s move on to the actual numbers.

Back on May 10th, I chose 3 free promo days for my novel with my publisher. I decided I wanted to make The Exile’s Violin free starting on the 20th because it was my birthday. Knowing that I couldn’t just make the book free and expect the downloads to pour in, I scoured the web and read several great posts that talked about how to capitalize your Kindle free days. Many of these posts also had lists of places for authors to promote their books. Their advice seemed easy enough to follow, so I did what I could and submitted my book to places that promote free Kindle books.


Total number of places submitted: 16

Average lead time required: 4.7 days

Number of sites that took free submissions: 14 out of 16

Number of sites I paid for submission: 2 ($5 for one and $10 for the other)

BookBub: BookBub didn’t accept my book (no idea why), but it would have cost me $90 to be part of their Fantasy Listing. From what I’ve heard, BookBub is worth the price. This is all anecdotal of course.

Alright, those are all the places I submitted my book to. Next up is social media. I love Twitter and am on it all the time, so I knew I’d use that. I also decided to share my book on Facebook once during this period. I’m not on Facebook that often, and my Author Page has limited reach.

Buuut, being stupid, I decided not to make a bit.ly account to keep track of how many clicks my links got. I just did their thing for free. I could see during that same day how many people followed my link to my book, but that was it. Let’s just say that I tweeted about my book at least 2 times a day during the promo period, with different messages each time, to my approximately 870 followers.

Your mileage with Twitter and other social media platforms may vary. The important thing is to not spam people and to make it look like you’re trying to have a conversation. Post a link with no accompanying text or context won’t entice people to follow it. The same goes for tweets that look like this: “Download my free ebook! *link to said ebook*. Those will get you nowhere.

All the above setup before the promo took me maybe a couple of hours spread out over the course of two/three days. In the big scheme of things it was relatively painless and only slightly repetitive to submit my book to various sites. Most of the time spent came from reading their guidelines and figuring out which ones required a “donation” before they’d even look at your listing.

However it was all worth it when you look at the results.


Total number of downloads: 4,311

Highest Position on the Free Kindle Books Chart: 84

Highest Position on the Free Science Fiction & Fantasy Chart: 5 (I think)

Highest Position on the Free Epic Fantasy Chart: 2

Highest Amazon Author Rank: 70,851 (May 21, 2013)

Biggest Jump in Author Rank: 111,286

Side note: I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take screenshots of my book’s rank at its highest. Amazon’s Author Central doesn’t track those kinds of stats. (If it does I haven’t figured out how to access them yet)

I don’t have any other free promo periods to compare my numbers with. I especially don’t have any data from a similar promo period with no publicity and sharing done in advance, so take these results with a grain of salt. However, I like to think that based on the chart positions and the number of downloads, when compared to how little time it took me, doing the legwork in advance paid off.

I’d also like to add that the Author Rank on May 21st is not the highest I’ve been in the past month. On May 24th, I hit 19,183. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what Author Rank is or what it means, but it feels good to see a chart with an upward trend.

Breaking the top 100 for Free Kindle Books was a really big milestone for me. The same goes for getting into the top ten on the more focused SF and Epic Fantasy lists. I don’t know if I’d categorize The Exile’s Violin as epic fantasy, but I’m not complaining. Considering I’m a no-name author with only one novel out there, this feels like a big deal.

What’s Next?

I’m not quite sure what comes next. I’m going to go back to ignoring my books position on the Paid Kindle Store chart (83,783 when I wrote this post). I’m also going to ignore my Author Rank again too. I will watch Amazon and see if my number of reviews goes up based on this promo. Let’s say 1% of those 4,300 people who downloaded my book actually read it. And then pulling numbers out of my ass, let’s say 10% of that 1% write an Amazon review. That’s four new reviews! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it would go a long way toward The Exile’s Violin breaking twenty reviews. (Another personal milestone I want to reach)

I’m also going to pay extra attention to my sales this quarter. I want to see if I experience any residual bump from the free promo. I’ve heard other authors (all anecdotal evidence) say that they saw an increase in sales after they ran a promo.

I’ll also keep writing, and I hope to have Terraviathan out before the end of the year. Again from anecdotal evidence, I’ve also heard that running a free promo for the second book in a series can lead to an increase in sales of the first book. Or was it the other way around? Either way, having more books out there is better.

The next time I do a free promo I’m going to try and submit my book to even more sites. I plan on utilizing Facebook more too. Also I hope BookBub picks up my book next time. They passed on it this time. Even though they can get pricey, I’ve heard that using them is money well spent.

I hope this helps any of you who are planning to run your own free days on Amazon!

The Exile's Violin

The Exile’s Violin Giveaway on Goodreads

Since I have some extra copies of The Exile’s Violin at home taking up space on my kitchen table, I decided to autograph them and give them away on Goodreads! The contest will run from now until May 20th, which happens to be my birthday. If you win it’ll be like I’m giving you a birthday present!

All you have to do is head over to the The Exile’s Violin‘s page on Goodreads and click the enter to win button under the “Win a Copy of This Book” section. You fill out your address and you’re done! It’s that simple. If you win, you’ll be notified when the contest ends, and I’ll mail your new book to you.

The Exile's Violin 200x300

The Exile’s Violin now available from Amazon.com

I used to think the writing was the hardest part of making a book. Well, as Hydra Publications releases The Exile’s Violin into the world today, I’ve found out that this is much more difficult.The Exile's Violin by R.S. Hunter

Before I got to spend time in a world I created with characters I knew and loved. The only people who read my book were my first readers and my editors, people I knew and trusted. Now that the book’s out there, my family’s going to read it, friends are going to read it, and hopefully, people I’ve never met before are going to read it.

Now I’m sitting here, trying to write this post on my lunch break, nervously waiting for the first bits of feedback to come in. It’s incredibly nerve-wracking. Releasing a book, especially as a first-time novelist, is like having a baby and then inviting the world to judge whether or not your baby’s any good. Still, if I had to choose between the nerves of waiting for reviews and not having a book out at all, I’d choose this every single time. It’s probably one of the scariest and most joyous feelings in the world.

I made* The Exile’s Violin, and if you head over to Amazon, I’d love to share it with you.

*This is a slight oversimplification as many other people helped make the book what it is today.

Official Cover Art for Steampunk Novel “The Exile’s Violin”

I teased it and hinted at it over the past couple of days, but now it’s finally here. Here is the official final cover art for my debut steampunk fantasy novel, The Exile’s Violin. I’m incredibly happy with the cover. What do you guys think? Does it capture that steampunk feel?

I love how the cover art features a very steampunk airship/battleship. It’s actually based on one of my very, very rough sketches. I also love how Enggar was able to capture the “look” of main character, Jacquie Renairre. And now for a quick blurb about the novel itself:

Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.

Look for The Exile’s Violin on Amazon in ebook and trade paperback later next month. For now, check back here for more details and be sure to stop by Hydra Publications and check out all their great titles.

The Exile's Violin

The Exile’s Violin Cover Art

As part of Steampunk Sundays (a thing I just invented), I’m sharing the cover art for my debut novel, The Exile’s Violin. The font for the title and stuff hasn’t been decided, but the artwork is done. I think it looks great! It really captures the steampunk nature of the book, and I think Enggar did a great job with the two main characters.

What do you guys think? Is it steamy and punky enough? Expect more info about The Exile’s Violin soon. The book will be released in September from Hydra Publications.

The Exile's Violin