• AJ Vanderhorst

Casey #2 Update and a Big Award

It’s almost fall, ya’ll. I just got back from an extended-family vacation in Colorado. We hiked, climbed waterfalls and scrambled up boulders, and no one got seriously hurt. Recommended.


As always, stuff is happening in the Casey Grimes world. First off, The Mostly Invisible Boy won its first major award!

Casey earned bronze in the Readers’ Favorite International Awards Contest, a competition that attracts thousands of entries annually. Is it a big deal? Yeah, kind of. Major publishers enter their books as well as small press authors like me. Knowing that Casey beat out heavy hitters is pretty cool. Will the award lead to bigger and better things? Only time will tell.


In the meantime, The Mostly Invisible Boy continues to review well. For those of you who like stats, here are a few quick ones. If you hate math, don’t worry. We get to the good stuff in a sec.

On Amazon, 21 out of 24 CASEY reviews (85%) are five-star. The other 3 (15%) are four-star.
On Goodreads, 26 out of 32 reviews (81%) are five-star. Five (15%) are four-star, and 1 (3%) is two-star.**

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive, which makes me happy, but the sample size is still super small. So if you haven’t yet, go leave a one. If you have a spouse or friend who read the book but probably hasn’t reviewed it, give her a nudge. Books need over 100 reviews on Amazon before they start to gain traction, so I’ll keep beating this drum awhile.

While we’re on the topic, here are a few recent blurbs:

"A true adventure, where the stakes are high, the danger real, and [the] goal is almost impossible to reach." - Bookworm for Kids
"Brimming with intrigue, danger and humor." - Book Craic
"Enchanting and unusual...the story entertains from the first page to the last." - Story Sanctuary

Not bad, huh? But the book needs your review too.


In other news, opening sales figures for The Mostly Invisible Boy are in. CASEY sold a little over 200 copies in its opening months, mostly paperback. It’s hard to know what that figure represents, given that it happened during a pandemic. Since we were all locked down and wondering if we’d be wiped off the face of the earth, things could’ve gone much worse. So I’ll take it—while hoping the ripple effect continues.


In case you’re wondering, the royalties from these sales were enough to take my wife out to a nice dinner, but we had to go easy on appetizers and cocktails. The life of a debut author isn’t all unicorns and sunshine, my friends.


A few more quick hitters:

  • The gracious and well-read Library Laura recently invited me onto her show for my very first author podcast. Talking Casey and recent reads was a lot of fun.


  • Casey #2, TRICKERY SCHOOL, is scheduled for a November 13 release. I’m finishing up edits now. (Wish me luck on the cover design.) TRICKERY features new monsters, harrowing classes and a plot against Magic, in addition to charming Christmas ambience—in case you’re wondering whether it’s a good cold-weather read.


  • My Dragons-in-Kansas-City story is being considered by several agents, so say a prayer for me. If you’re not aware, getting an agent allows an itty bitty author like me to submit stories to the big publishers and get tons more exposure. In other words, have a writing career instead of a hobby.


  • Finally, my newest manuscript is searching for a title. It’s a twisty, kinda dark middle grade fantasy with a surprise ending, and I need your help! Here are the current finalists:

CROOKED CASTLE

CASTLE ISLAND

CASTLE DARK

CASTLE GAME


As you’ve probably guessed, the story takes place on a mysterious, deadly island WITH A CASTLE. The setting is present-day. Please send me your vote(s) if you’re inclined, and poll the kids too.


I’ll wrap it up there, folks. Thanks for your investment in the Casey world. The leaves are turning in Sylvan Woods, and in case I’m not in touch before Halloween, might I suggest a Butcher Beast costume?


All best,

**Two star!? Are you kidding me? Most likely, the reviewer is someone I accidentally embarrassed in college 20 years ago (yes, I’m afraid this occasionally happened), whom I recently bumped into in public but failed to recognize.

"The way to love anything is to realize

that it might be lost."

G.K. Chesterton

©2020 by AJ Vanderhorst.