In more ways than one, a found journal kept by a pioneer woman is proving to be “a treasure trove of possibilities,” says author Cindy Rinamon Marsch. Her mother found the journal, written by Rosette Cordelia Ramsdell Churchill, in a thrift store. So far the treasure trove has yielded one literary historical novel, Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan, and a short story, “Blizzard: A Story of Dakota Territory,” & Cindy is working on a second full-length novel, Solomon: A Novel of the Civil War Era. And, while the writings are stand-alone works, their compelling characters & situations are linked, & Cindy’s marketing strategy takes advantage of that synergy.
The theme of Cindy’s debut novel is intriguing: “Why did she edit her wedding day journal?” The answer comes from the journal entries—the wedding day in 1856 & the edit in 1888–& Cindy applying her rich imagination to the events and emotions penned in the journal.
The short story came about as a result of Cindy thinking about how to make money with her writing. “The idea of offering the first book free is a good one, but I didn’t want to do that. I’m kind of a high-brow, literary person. I can’t put out a book a month. I decided to experiment with a short story.”
It was known that Rosette left her husband & family around 1886 or before & spent her later years in Dakota Territory. Cindy imagined her leaving & going to live on the farm of her eldest son, DeWitt, & his family there, in which case she’d have experienced the 1888 Children’s Blizzard, a catastrophic storm that caught people unawares on a mild, sunny day. So after publishing Rosette, a 74,000-word novel, in January 2016, Cindy followed up with Blizzard, a 10,000-word short story, in June. (Both are available on Kindle & the novel in an illustrated paperback version.)
As she was writing her first novel, Cindy was drawn to Rosette’s brother, a Civil War bugler who was captured & imprisoned at Andersonville. Solomon, the subject of her work-in-progress, was the favorite character of many readers of Rosette.
After querying agents for a time, Cindy decided to go indie with Rosette & established Moraine’s Edge Books, an imprint not only for her own work, but also for other authors to whom she’ll offer editorial assistance & the talents of her daughter, Betsy, who created covers for Rosette & Blizzard & sketches for the paperback version of Rosette.
Like many indie authors, she chose to publish her eBook exclusively with Amazon. She began studying Amazon’s Kindle programs, getting guidance primarily from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). She entered Rosette in the Kindle Scout competition in December. Kindle Scout is a contest in which readers vote for books to be published by Kindle Press, and Amazon editors take it from there. The prize for winning authors is a $1,500 advance, five-year renewable contract, & 50 percent royalty on eBooks. Cindy’s book came close to winning. “I made some good connections, & got some great reviews out of it.”
Within weeks after the contest closed, she published Rosette on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, & a month later published the paperback book. Launching “Blizzard” at 99 cents for the Kindle version boosted sales of Rosette in July when she ran a Countdown Deal promotion. “I had run a Countdown in April that didn’t do as well.”
In August, she ran a free promotion of “Blizzard” which resulted in 2,500 downloads for the month, generated numerous reviews, and catapulted her ranking to #1 in the Historical Fiction Short Story category.
As for future plans, Cindy is considering entering Solomon in the Kindle Scout competition. Eventually she may bundle the three writings into a boxed set, another strategy to satisfy readers’ appetites and keep the synergy going.