Friday, January 19, 2018

Book cover mugs

As you may or may not know, I opened a new merchandise store through Zazzle. I did this because my wonderful cover artist Jay Aheer started including mug wraps in my promo packages. And, there is that t-shirt design that I tried to peddle through that site that does sales campaigns. I always ended up buying more than I sold to make sure the other buyers got theirs. Plus it put the squeeze on people... so, not ever doing that again.

If you're interested I have more than mugs. Check the other products. I have two shirt designs, and will be adding others if there's interest. But here's the wraps Jay did so you can see the full image and the link for the mug collection is






This one is coming soon:



Talking About Literary Categories

I've seen a few posts on social media the past few days that drags back to the fore that old discussion about genres and categorizing books.

I see 'discussions' about erotica books listed in the non-romance categories all the time. The people who don't want sex in their books on one side and those who do want sex in their books on the other
and both complaining about the same thing. Categorization of genres.

And you know what? They're both right. I mean, take the ick eww cooties part of it out, it's a valid complaint, especially in gay fiction and gay romance.

So let's start somewhere at the beginning as I try to ramble my way through this... and yes, I am aware that I ramble and I do take tangents and sometimes I forget to come back to my original point. I have a lot of crap in my head, it's a maze in there. I don't always leave a trail to follow back to the point. Bear with me.

So... first, let's talk about genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres and so on and on.

There's two main categories for books. Fiction and Non-fiction. Obviously. Non-fiction is the truthy stuff. Supposedly. Fiction is the made up stuff. Right? We all understand that. In this ramble, non-fiction doesn't exist or matter. It's not what we do. So it's over there doing it's thing taking up all of the bookstore and shoving us all in the fiction department into the six rows set aside for us... so... let's break down genres.

You've been in a bookstore right? Like a Barnes and Noble? I use B&N because it's one of only two bookstores left in my area. And I'm very familiar with a B&N.

In all of the B&N stores in my area they follow the same pattern, roughly. Little kid's books, all everything kid, non-fiction, all fiction, art, toys, the train table... have it's own little closed in section. Right outside that is teen and YA fiction. Then an aisle leading back to the AV section with tables of stuff to buy. Then starts FICTION. Just FICTION. Like FICTION is some kind of king of the back aisles. FICTION takes up three rows usually front and back. And then there's mystery/suspense. Our stores have one row, front and back. Then romance. Front, maybe if romance is lucky, it shares half of the back shelf with Sci-Fi Fantasy. Sci-Fi Fantasy gets one row, front and back, and sometimes half of the romance back row. Then there's a fuck ton of Mangas and comics. So many that the stores around here put them on the wall beside the bathroom and those things take up a wall and a half, halfway to the ceiling. It's a high ceiling.

All genres of everything that is fiction is right there. Mystery/suspense. Romance. Sci-fi/Fantasy. Manga doesn't count in this... it's not an issue in what I'm going to talk about.

Now, we get to sub-genres. Which pertains to all of those genres.

You see, Fiction isn't a genre. It's the books that have no categorization. The books about nothing really, life... stuff. It might have a little romance. Or a little mystery. Maybe a little paranormal.... wait, paranormal isn't listed up there... because it's not a genre, it's a sub-genre.

Wait... WAIT JUST A DAMN MINUTE! Paranormal is too a genre. It's a huge genre. It sells more books than any genre....

There is no PARANORMAL genre at Barnes and Noble. Or any bookstore I've ever been in. New books. Not indie. Big commercial dominated by New York published books, book store.

Paranormal is a sub-genre... of every single one of those genres. You'll find paranormal in mystery/suspense, in romance, and in sci-fi/fantasy. It should be clumped in with the SF/F section... but they don't like vampires in their space operas... or on their hobbit adventures. Because those aren't real... I am not getting into that discussion.

Anyway, I write romance. I write suspense. I write paranormal. I write contemporary. I even write historical, though, I don't have any published at the moment.

Romance is every genre and sub-genre in all of fiction. EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY SUB-GENRE EXISTS IN ROMANCE.

Now, sticking with the brick and mortar big box commercial bookstore thingy I've used so far... B&N clumps all sub-genres of romance together on that row and a half that they allow the genre. It's mostly paranormal, and historical, with contemporary and other thrown in there willie-nillie.

They do not shelve gay romance at all in my stores. I've looked. I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast. I have three B&Ns near me. One in Alabama, one in Florida, and one in Mississippi. And I've looked in all three. When B&N was located in Mobile, where I live, there was a Gay content section. That store closed more than a decade ago. The other Alabama location across Mobile Bay does not have a Gay content section that I have ever found. No gay non-fiction, fiction, or romance.

Romance is the biggest selling genre of all fiction... not fiction genres. ALL FICTION. In fact, romance is the biggest selling genre of ALL BOOKS, Fiction and non-fiction combined. And the bookstores give them one side of one shelf and sometimes, a half of another side... because... ick... naked bits... written by womensfolks..... ICK!

But... that's not the complaint at the heart of the matter. I wanted to draw your attention to what and how and where... of this industry on the mainstream commercial level so I can get to ebooks.

The complaint is mostly about gay fiction and gay romance... and gay erotic/a. As well as gay YA. And how ebook retailers categorize gay literature.

So let's go back to the bookstore shelves for a moment. And in this instance let's focus on romance specifically before we go to the gay issue.

What Amazon does right as compared to brick and mortar stores is that they gave Romance a section of it's own. Every sub-genre of romance is listed under the romance header. Including Gay.

Kudos. Bravo. Yay. They did that right. What they don't do is sub-sub-genres. Like sports romance or military romance... or if they do it's new, so forgive the misinformation there.... but that's where the keyword boxes come in. You list your football book as Romance, contemporary, gay. And Romance, Gay, if it's gay. Mine is gay so I'll use those.

Amazon gives you two categories. Just two. To categorize your book. Under the romance tab you have all of the main options including paranormal and mystery, and historical, and contemporary. Pick the correct main genre. You have a second choice for a secondary sub-genre. You can click contemporary and mystery. or contemporary and gay. or contemporary and whatever clicks that last box. Erotica. Erotica gets you all kinds of trouble. I'd advise never clicking erotica, even if your book is erotica. You won't ever get searched, as in they suppress books listed as erotica.

Yay.... two whole Romance categories, and six keyword boxes to get your book in the correct categories once the rankings start.

Romance, Contemporary, Gay, Sports, Football, Military... because I had one that was both.

Your book will come up as Gay Romance. It might come up in the contemporary romance lists. It might come up in the contemporary sports romance lists. It might come up in the contemporary military lists... but all of those straight books will come up first, and dominate those categories.

Because... that gay romance category is ALL gay romance. Every single sub-genre of romance in gay romance is lumped into that one sub-category. If you click gay romance, nothing else matters. There is no gay historical sub-genre. There is no gay sports sub-genre. There is no gay paranormal sub-genre. All GAY means just that ALL LGBTQ including YA and erotic/a share one list.

You have only one other option for gay fiction. And that's back out in the main FICTION list. You can click Gay. If it's not a romance, or if it is a romance. You can click Gay fiction. Then find your main sub-genre and click for the drop list. So you wrote a Gay non-romance regular coming of age story. It's like all those FICTION books with no real sub-genre... you click Gay and pray. If it's non-romance gay mystery, you click Gay under FICTION then go down to the MYSTERY tab. Click that. or suspense. Or YA.

And your book will be listed first and foremost in the Gay Fiction section. No matter what sub-genre you also clicked. And you will take your chances in the overcrowded non-gay main sections of your sub-genre. Some books do really well in those, but... books with gay content will always do much better in a gay dominated category. Hands down.

So... that's the pickle we're in. There's two GAY lists. Gay Fiction and Gay Romance. And both of those charts are dominated by the same books. People who don't like sex books have to go past all of those sex books. People who love sex books end up with domination BDSM or something that 'triggers' them... and now if you even hint at something dark in your warnings... oh and you can't put the word WARNING in your blurb anymore either... or you will find your book in Unsearchable Hell. Or even removed and blocked.

So, yes, this is a huge issue. And both sides are completely right and justified in their complaints.

Amazon did right by romance. They did. Better than brick and mortar stores have done. But Gay literature is still stuck over in the corner. All gay, lesbian, trans... YA... erotic/a... doesn't matter... you are all in these two lump categories... good luck. And readers, they've made it more difficult for you to find your Gay erotica content because that shit gets blocked real fast because... I have no idea. I still have one book on the permanently blocked list while Flowers in the Attic and Game of Thrones are still sold.

So while I have you here, and while I have your attention and we're talking about genres and stuff, let's talk about Erotica and what it is and what it isn't.

You know what chaps my ass... I mean... Pisses me off...? When people call any book with even a little bit of sex in it, EROTICA. Sex in a book does not mean it's erotica. Erotica, as defined by Romance Writer's of America, is a work that the subject and plot of the story is predominantly sex and sex related. It's not romance, specifically, and there is no 'Happy Ever After'. I mean, the getting married and settling down for ever after... it's romance or not romance sex, full, graphic, sex, with a different kind of happy ending. It's not about love. It's about pleasure. Just that. And there's nothing wrong with that.

While EROTIC ROMANCE is something completely different. Erotic romance is not erotica. It's romance, with romantic, but with full, graphic sex as part of the plot. It's about love and sex, lots of sex, with a HEA or a HFN ending. Distinct from erotica in that an HEA is not expected. Most of my books are erotic romance. I've never written anything that can be labeled Erotica.

And then there's SENSUAL ROMANCE. Which is romance with some sex. It's not graphic. It can be erotic in nature but it's... vanilla, for lack of a better explanation. The wording is tamer. There are no cocks thrusting into anything. But there is sex. Maybe one or two short scenes.

Finally, there is SWEET ROMANCE. Meaning there is no sex shown on page. Doesn't mean that the characters aren't having sex, it means that it's not shown on the page. You might get a closed door at most... and from there you head into inspirational and other sub-sub-genres of sweet romance.

You see, it's not a problem with the authors, or even the publishers. It is a problem with the book sites. It's a problem with Amazon, and iBooks, and Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook. As readers, you can write your favorite book selling site and raise the issue with them. Gay literature, romance and non-romance, needs a better categorizing system. Point blank.

So.... well, that's all I got on the subject.

I hope this helps someone out there understand the reason behind the categorization issues. Or I could be completely wrong. Talk amongst yourselves.


Mercy

Friday, January 12, 2018

Exploring New Worlds

I opened a Patreon account about six months ago. I managed to get about halfway through the set up before I freaked out and quit. I'm not tech savvy. I'm not. Up until this past summer I had a flip phone. Not because I couldn't have a smart phone. But because I didn't want a smart phone. I just wanted a phone. That's it. Just a phone. I don't like to text message. I didn't want to have Facebook available to me when I left the house. I didn't want a screen. I wanted something that would fit in my pocket and wouldn't bother me all that much.

I was forced to get a smart-ish phone when we changed providers. It would cost more to have the flip phone over the smart phone plan. I don't want the internet in my pocket. I still don't want the internet in my pocket. I grudgingly put FB on my new phone because I can share pictures easily. I tried instagram. I have no idea what to do with Instagram. Or how to look at Instragam. Or use Instagram. So I took it off my phone. And I can't get it on my computers or my Kindle Fire tablet. If you see me on Instagram, just know I've never used it, but there's an account open and I can't see anything... so... yeah, I'm not tech savvy and the older I get the more 'get off my lawn' I get about it. I'm not even 50... yet.

So, I kept seeing all these people talk about their Patreon like it was awesome. I read several blog posts about it and decided, okay, I have no idea what I could do with one, but hey, let's go open this thing up and jump in and see what happens.

I couldn't even get through the set up. I had to open a youtube account. I like to watch music videos and movie trailers on youtube. That's pretty much it. My youngest daughter is singlehandedly responsible for keeping so many youtubers rolling in the dough... and her aspiration in life is to be a youtuber. She's 11. I'm like no. She does not understand why I won't allow her to have a youtube career. My son, who is 23, tries to explain it to her, but, he's just another grown-up who doesn't understand her and why won't people just understand that she's 11 and hasn't had her book published or her art featured in galleries, or gotten famous on youtube before she gets old and there's no time left... We had this conversation last night. She writes My Little Pony fanfiction. She draws My Little Pony Manga style OCs... she speaks this language that she picked up from watching hours of youtube every night. We have to remind her that calling someone a douche is not polite. But the kids on youtube call each other douchebags all the time... what the hell are you watching? She's graduated from the 'unboxing' videos... in which kids and adults sit around opening toys for a living. Usually those blind bag/box toys. She watches a lot of 'gamer' videos. I mean, she watches other people play video games... instead of playing video games herself. She owns an X-box. She has a 50 inch TV in her room with her own blu-ray player. She never watches TV. She never plays her X-box. She watches youtube videos.

I don't allow her to have a computer in her room. She uses the 'family' computer. I say family because it's old and has been in the main part of the house for years. She watches at night where I can see her and anything she watches. But my god, she has to wear headphones because those voices make me want to throat punch people.

Anyway, I have a youtube channel now. In case I want to create video content for my Patreon. I don't even like seeing pictures of myself. How in the hell does anyone expect me to sit in front of a camera and talk about anything? And what would I talk about? What if I picked my nose at the end of a great segment? What do grown people like to see romance writers talk about? I'm not unboxing 'toys' for y'all. That would be interesting. Nope...not happening. I would have to put on real clothes and maybe brush my hair. Too much work.

But really... so I have this Patreon thing. I have no idea what to do with it. I've looked at other people's Patreons. I still have no idea. It's very eclectic. So, whatever fits the individual, would be best, I guess.

I went through all of my WIP files. I looked at everything I have partially finished. Or half ideas that could work. Anything. Stuff. Looking for inspiration. I thought it would be a great idea to combine Six Ways from Sunday with Any Given Sunday and offer that as a reward. I don't mean as a bundle. I wrote Any Given Sunday around Six Ways from Sunday. I cut and pasted Six Ways chapters into AGS for a seamless (almost) story. I say almost, because there are a couple of places that don't merge well, where I overlapped what was written in Six Ways in AGS so there's like this instant replay in a couple of chapters. But except for that, which I won't change to fit, it's seamless, like one long story. I have no plans to commission a cover for it. I have no plans to publish it in this form. It's 91,000 words. You've most likely already read it. But now you're reading it as it should have been written from the beginning. The director's cut, I guess.

I also have files of MMF beginnings. Most of them borderline taboo. I have one step siblings story, MF. I thought I'd share the beginning of the MMF stories and let the subscribers vote on one for me to write in installments for them. I also thought that maybe I could finally write the second twin book and have a place to share it.

So, my Patreon is turning out to be the place where I share the shit that can't be published anywhere else and possibly against their terms of service... well, okey dokey then what else is new?

But anyway, whatever I plan to do, I'm going to try to get it up and running by Monday. I'll post the link. If you're interested you can subscribe.

Or not.

I also have a Zazzle merchandise store now open. I only have two t-shirt designs, currently. I'm planning to commission more designs. Which books would you like to see a design for? Leave a comment. The store link is HERE!

Thanks for hanging around for my ramblings.

Peace,

Mercy

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thoughts on Going Wide



Okay, let's talk about "going wide" if you're an indie author. Are you 'wide'? I mean are you out of KU with books on at least one of the main four book seller sites? Or are you in KU with the idea that you can't sell out of KU? I'm going to talk about Kobo. This isn't about Amazon. Amazon is Amazon and behaves the way Amazon behaves. This is about Kobo, then ibooks, then Barnes and Noble. I do not have any experience with Google Play. I've not heard good things... but that could all just be hearsay.... so. I pulled all of my books from KU early last summer after a dismal year trying to compete there. The one page read thing continued to haunt many of my books. I don't write short stories, or fast enough to compete in KU now. So I went wide. You can put your self published books directly onto Kobo and Barnes and Noble with no problem. iBooks, you must have an Apple Mac computer to use their book upload system. You can manage your books without one, but you can't
place them for sale without one. Or you can go through a middleman site like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. I don't like Smashwords, their 'meat grinder' and rules for releasing a book through them are insane. And I don't want to include Smashwords on my copyright page, because they have no rights to my copy, they're just a distributor. D2D allows you to upload straight from Word. And they will convert to Epub and Mobi for you and you can use those conversions anywhere. You can use D2D to distribute your books to all of the major 4 publishers now. Especially iBooks. Or you can pick and choose. If you go directly through Nook, Zon, and Kobo you make more money. D2D and Smashwords do take a percent as distributors... so there is that. I use D2D strictly for iBooks.

So let's talk about the past eight months and how I've done outside Amazon.

Hahahaha... ahahahaha.

Okay, no, kidding. Mostly.
It's been rough going. I will admit that. Most of my sales do still come from Amazon. Not even going to lie to you on that. And eight months later I do still have KU page reads to deal with from books that are lingering in KU libraries. I have so many one page reads per day per book that it's not even funny.

Eight months later and I'm now seeing more sales each month on certain books on Kobo than I'm selling on Amazon. I have about ten books that sell more single copies on Kobo every month than Amazon. I want to stress that. I have never had a book sell more than 40 copies a month on Kobo. I've never had a new release do more than a few copies in release month on Kobo.

So why am I wanting to talk about Kobo and why is it so important to know that sales there are nothing special?

Because with the exception of five books, Kobo is now, consistently, outselling Amazon in straight sales every month. Those five books are my top sellers usually the newer books.

I should qualify that I have five books that I can't even give away on KU. Five books that I never have more than single digit sales, if any, per month, on all platforms combined. Three of those books never sell more than single digits in a year.

It's those middle 14 books that are doing very well on Kobo. The books that no longer sell well on Amazon due to age. Or never sold all that well, due to whatever reason. I have 14 books that are consistently selling 15 to 35 copies a month. On Kobo.

It didn't start out that way. The first three months were very bad. I think I sold 9 books the first month. All books. Each month there were a few more and a few more and a few more. While sales of those books died on Amazon. It's taken time to get a small stream of sales going there.

And it's nothing like I saw at Amazon before KU. But it's there. It's a small check each month that hits in the middle of the month when the Amazon money is running out. While the Amazon checks are getting smaller and smaller at a rapidly alarming rate, the Kobo checks are rising steadily. They're still not as much as Amazon, but they're making it easier to swallow the loss.

If you're on the fence about going wide. I'd recommend Kobo. But you're going to have to focus some promotional energy there and be willing to ride it out a few months. I am not making any guarantees. There are no guarantees in publishing. Not one.

But there are no slick packaged KU books clogging up the works either.

About iBooks... sighs... okay, it's ebb and flow. I might sell 30 books a month there one month, and 5 the following month. I have no idea how to market to them. I tell my social media followers the books is there. That's about it. But, it's 5 to 30 books I didn't sell on Amazon lately.

And Barnes & Noble... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... yeah. Well, two months combined can buy my family a lunch at McDonalds.
I'm writing this to share my experience. I'm hoping that it will help someone make a decision to cut the KU cord. If you're selling really well on KU, then more power to you, carry on. If you're not and you worry that you will fail going Wide... you have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself and decide how much work you want to put into building up a readership on another site. It's not going to be hundreds of books each month. But, it's something. And it takes time and patience. 
So, just something to mull over.
Mercy

Monday, January 8, 2018

Just ranting about the movie industry. Nothing to see here.

I'm not a fan of movie and television award shows.
 
I mean, my son tries to force me to watch better movies. He does. It's his thing. He wants to be a script writer. He wants to make movies. I get that. He loves film.

I don't.

I know that is shocking to so many people. I do not particularly care to watch stories be told. If I do watch it has to grab my attention, hard and fast and never let it go. Benjamin Button did that. I had no intention of ever watching that movie. I walked through the room where Aidan was watching it and it reached out and sucked me in and I stayed until the end.

I walked out of Avatar the moment they said they were after something called Unobtainium. I snorted. I snorted loudly. If they were too damned lazy to give this ore a non snort worthy name then they were wasting my time.

I hate movies, and shows that I can spot the 'bad guy' the moment he steps into frame. Hell, Lethal Weapon, the show, does that all the time. Like this past episode. The very moment the 'bad guy' appeared I was like... well, you damn well better make this worth my time. It was passing fair. Not their best effort. Not their worst.

I'm picky as fuck about how I spent my time staring at a screen that doesn't have these little black specs of story moving across them. I can build movies in my head from scratch. I don't trust some half-assed attempt to entertain me for one to three hours. I have other shit to be doing.

I watch maybe five tv shows per year. And they aren't award winners. I've watched maybe three episodes of Game of Thrones. It's the bastard son Ned Stark was hiding or the blonde chick Aquaman raped that's going to end up with the whole thing. I haven't missed a thing. The author of the books is one of those predictable genre writers who is laughing his ass off right now. And his incest books aren't banned on Amazon... so...

I have no idea why most movies are award winners. I don't even care. I like shit that blows up movies. I loathe singing movies, unless Gene Kelly is in it, then we might talk. Or it's animated with a Disney logo on it... not Frozen. Please not Frozen. For the love of god I will gut you.

And while I'm at it, I hate movies made from books. hate them. I don't even want to know if one of my favorite books is about to be butchered on film. I forgive Harry Potter only to a point. The books were so much better.

Where are the award shows for books! GOD DAMMIT! Where! We celebrate everything else but books. They forget to thank the author of the book they just won an award for.

I build better more complex worlds in my head than most film makers do on film. It's not about the exploding shit. It's about the human factor.

I had to walk out of Black Hawk Down six times but I got through it. I threw up after watching Memphis Belle because my gut didn't relax the entire damned movie. I walked out of The Aviator and never went back because his mental illness was all too real and painful to watch.

I don't care if a story line is stupid. If it is a fun sort of stupid then let's go. If I love the characters and their stupid is engaging let's go. I bet I love more horrible movies than award winners because the horribleness of those movies wasn't horrible at all, just not understood by the masses. Embrace the camp and have fun with it. I'm there for you. Make me laugh for real. Don't make me want to throat punch you for explaining a gag, or forcing one that is never going to work.

Remember your plot. For fucksake remember your plot. Don't unobtainium me. That's bullshit storytelling. Oh let's go get this shit on this planet.. what's it called? Unobtainium. For real? Why is it called unobtainium? Dunno, because nobody has obtained it yet? Wonder if there's a reason for that? Nah man, what could go wrong.... translates to y'all all gonna die trying to rape this planet for greedy corporations and I AIN'T GOT TIME FOR THAT. Oh and the crippled guy gets virtual reality legs and doesn't want to give that up... yeah, five minutes. I knew that in five minutes.

You want me to sit to the end... don't tell me the entire plot in the first five minutes.

And for fucksake stop remaking every movie you've ever made  since Lethal Weapon. Shane Black I'm looking at you. Unless I got your name wrong again. You know who you are. I already watched that movie.

I won't read Oprah books and god help me I won't watch those kinds of movies either. I have enough trauma in my life to watch other people's trauma for three hours.

And one more thing... stop casting the same five actors in every damned thing. Tom Cruise is nearly sixty years old. He's not twenty something. He's not a hot young action star. Please stop pretending I can suspend belief below 50 for him. And Matt Damon was milquetoast twenty years ago. I won't go near a movie with an Affleck attached to it.

No I'm not watching an award show for movies and television that I never watched in the first place and I don't care who designed those dresses. Ask the women real questions... and stop pretending people don't age. Age goddammit, like you're supposed to. Dennis Quaid what did you do to your face? You were perfectly imperfectly craggy for 900 years and now you're unrecognizable.

Stop destroying your faces because some ugly motherfucker producer says you're too old or fat or not fuckable.

Neither are they.

And somebody remind Bruce Willis he used to be a great comedic actor. I'd pay big bucks to see him smile again. Smile Bruce, smile.

The best character of 2017 was a goddamned baby tree. Act accordingly Hollywood. And the supporting actor was the raccoon who loved the baby tree. There's your Oprah movie.

Mercy

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's a new year. I'm the same old me.

I'm not looking to break any habits or change my life. I'd like to be in better health. There's nothing that I can do that will achieve that goal any time soon. I'd like to be more outgoing. I'd like to be happier. I'd like to not have depression and anxiety. I'd like to win both of the huge lotteries this week.  All of the above is not in my personal grasp. I don't live in a state that has lottery.

What can I change? My outlook. My work ethic. My underwear. My blog? I have no idea. I don't know what's broken to fix it. I bought new underwear so I guess the rest of it will fall in line.

Stuff, y'all. It's all just stuff.

I managed to not finish writing the last book on my 2017 schedule. Epiphany is still unfinished, four days before Epiphany. By the time I finish it it'll be close to Saint Patrick's Day, when the second book was supposed to end. Ah well. I had personal business to finish. I finished it. Or at least my part in it. And I had to take the little kid shopping for new school uniforms because she grew too much this past semester. She went from girl sizes to a size 6 misses. Her shoes are now 8.5s. I can't complain, I wore a size 10 shoe at her age.

School starts back on Thursday. Six weeks until the Mardi Gras break. Yes we get a whole week the week of Mardi Gras, because no one would go to school the first three days anyway, so they finally did the smart thing and just gave us the week. Then there's seven weeks until Spring Break. Then seven more weeks after that until the last day of school. Not that I'm counting. I am. But... shhh. I mean I like when she's gone, it's quiet around here. She has other people to talk to. I don't have to entertain her. But... I like when she's home too. I don't have to deal with an alarm clock, and we can do more. Mostly I don't like the alarm clock. She's getting more self-sufficient. I don't have to do her hair anymore unless it's for something special. She's learning to take care of herself. She's almost twelve. High time.

My oldest child will be twenty-seven in a few months. I can't believe that. I can't. It's not even possible that I'm old enough... oh, yeah, I'll be forty-nine this month... never mind. I can math. I was twenty-two when she was born. I feel so old.

People I went to high school with have grandchildren. Thank god I'm not as old as them.

I know age is just a number. I see a fuck ton of grey hair on my head I lost count. I'd like to pretend those are laugh lines around my eyes. I don't laugh that much. Sighs.

I'm avoiding writing. I am. I know I am. I really don't want to finish this story now. I had plans for three more but I lost the desire to live in this world. I don't want to write football either. I had an idea for a pirate story this morning. A straight romance pirate story. 99.99% of my fan base would scream bloody girl cooties if I bothered with that one. Sometimes I find that interesting. Other times I find that upsetting. Sometimes I think about developing a new pen name and starting over. Sometimes I remember that I have no idea how I even got this far and that I have no idea what I did to get this far  and that's terrifying.

I have to cook dinner. Then I might watch Lethal Weapon. Then I'll get started on what I'm supposed to be doing.

I wish I knew what I'm supposed to be doing.

I have some half-baked plans for the short term. I'm going to post links to pre-order all of my print books in the next couple of days. I say pre-order, because I don't have the books in stock and in the past when I took promissory orders the books went unclaimed. So, if you'd like to buy a signed print book from me I'm doing a huge order soon, and you need to pre-purchase yours. I'll have Long Way listed plus everything that is currently in print. Cold Shadow and Beyond Complicated are not in print. I have no current plans to release them in print.

I'm also playing with Patreon. I have no idea what I'm doing with that yet. I have a couple of very, very, unpublishable short stories that could go through that. I wrote a very taboo side story to Bootleg Diva from the Cop's POV. VERY taboo. No one has ever read it. I have a version of Six Ways from Sunday woven into Any Given Sunday for one long 'Writer's Cut' of that story. If I posted that, it would be without cover art. I could finally write the second twin book.

I'm not critically acclaimed. Hell, I'm not even well reviewed by the review sites. I'm rarely ever mentioned in the year ending favorites posts, yet, sometimes I feel too many restrictions on what I can publish. Not complaining. I'd have at least one M-Preg out by now. Hell, I have that story already set up for an M-Pred story arch, which is one of the reasons I haven't written it. That and a knotting scene. I write some raunchy shit that no one ever reads. Mostly straight raunchy shit.

I like straight raunchy shit.

Anyway... I spent the last two years in some sort of downward spiral. I'm trying to figure out how to right this sinking ship with a broken compass. Forgive me if it goes astray... or aground.

Mercy