Ch-ch-changes are Coming! It’s like Winter is Coming but possibly worse.

Dear humans,

I’m only here for a moment before the human takes over. She has an important announcement to make. So, the Furred & Finned Management would like to apologize in advance for the lacking humor in this missive.

Some things are too important to make fun of. This is one of them.

Tia Majestic on behalf of the Furred & Finned Management.


Hey, Readers and Fans of the Furred & Finned Management.

The first part of this letter isn’t really a happy one. I’m sorry.

As many of you are aware, Tia the Majestic is old. She’s somewhere around seventeen, and we’re at the point in her life where we’re doing our best to make sure she’s happy and comfortable. She’s sleeping a lot now, and she has issues that make her care… expensive. Right now, she’s on medication, but she views it as a treat, and it’s helping resolve a potential bladder infection. After she’s off that round of medication, we’re going to be starting her on a medication that might help with her senility.

Growing old isn’t a disease, and there’s no cure for it. However much I wish I could turn back time, I can’t. No one can. We’re doing our best for her, but us humans of the Blain household are slowly coming to the conclusion that Tia’s time with us will be coming to an end sooner than later. We’re going to hold on for as long as she wants, but as her arthritis worsens and she loses her love of life, we’re going to have to do what’s best for her. After a lot of thought, I thought it was best to give you folks some warning. I know many of you love going on adventures with Tia the Majestic and her plump sister. I do, too. She’s been a part of our lives for around ten to eleven years now. She could surprise us and share her life with us for a few more years. The new medicine could work miracles. We don’t know.

All I can tell you is that she’s old, and she deserves to cross the rainbow bridge in comfort when the time comes.

As she’s losing weight and growing, well, old, there won’t be as many pictures of her moving forward. I want everyone to remember her as the vibrant, happy kitty she’s been portrayed for you. That’s why some of the pictures lately have been older ones. The Furred & Finned Management will keep you updated on her, but right now, she’s having more bad days than good ones. (But seriously, we’re hoping the new medication will help.) I take pictures of her whenever she’s more like her old self.

The change that warned us something’s up is a sad one: she’s stopped asking to go on walks as often, which used to be every time she’d be awake. Now, she just wants to be near us and get attention. We still take her on walks, but we’re the ones who get the harness and leash out and get her attention and remind her that there’s life outside of the apartment.

Once Tia the Majestic crosses the rainbow bridge, my husband will be picking a new kitty to keep Princess the Understudy company. Tia has, and always will be, his cat, as she was from the day he fell in love with her at the shelter. It’s probable the new kitty will take over the mantle of the Majestic Overfeline of the Furred & Finned Management. (Let’s face it, Princess is happiest being silly and playing the role of the Understudy.)

To make things more comfortable for Tia, pictures won’t be taken as often, as she’s less inclined to enjoy having the phone pointed at her. She’s forgotten what the magic glowy rectangle box does, and it takes some coaxing to make her okay with it pointed in her general direction. Right now, she had some of her fur shaved because she was unable to properly groom her back (arthritis sucks, y’all.) Once her fur grows back some, I’ll work with her some more and see if she’ll tolerate the camera.

And yes, for those wondering, Tia the Majestic is given supplements to help with the arthritis. Some days are better than others, but we can generally tell if she’s having a bad day based on whether or not she’s game for a longer walk, which involves stairs. On the good days, she zooms right down them like nothing. On bad ones, well, she makes it down two before she’s carried the rest of the way.)

I wanted to thank you all for sharing some of the fun we’ve had with our kitty over the past year. You, and her, have made the writing gig a much happier place for me.

The Furred and Finned Management will still be sending newsletters, they’ll still be up to their same old shenanigans, but Princess the Understudy will be taking up most of the responsibility along with Landen and Desmond the fish. On the fish front, Landen is fully recovered, his fins have completely grown back, and he is loving life. Of course, the little bastard has been flaring at his new brother so much his fins are ragged, but he’s as happy as can be and whatever. If the jerk wants to blow his fins out playing with his brother, whatever. I have a fortune of fish-care supplies handy, and they’re happy doing their fishy thing.

The next newsletter will have pictures of the two sharing their prison and keeping each other energetic company. (Seriously, these two assholes just DO NOT STOP.)

I named Desmond well. The little shit is just small enough he can reach through the divider and nip the fringe of Landen’s tail, which sends Landen zooming across his section of the tank all offended the little shit actually nipped him. It’s an absolute riot to watch. I’m pretty sure Desmond is a boy, as he wants nothing more in life than the beat the shit out of his big brother.

This fish has spunk.

The format of the newsletter will be changing. The sneaky kitty critic website will become the hub of all things Furred & Finned Management, and the newsletters will be posted there first. (You can subscribe to the website itself by leaving a comment and checking the box that authorizes the Furred & Finned Management and wordpress to notify you when new posts are done!) At least… that’s how I think it’s done?

I need to really figure that out.

The content of the main newsletters will still be going out to the mailing list, but it’ll be a copy-paste of what’s found on the website, and generally, the newsletter will just point you to the site and have a text-only version and maybe one or two pictures as the Furred & Finned Management decide. The humor, moving forward, will still be present. It’s just a matter of how it’s delivered. So, please bookmark thesneakykittycritic.com in your browser of choice, subscribe to the site by leaving a comment if you wish, and otherwise be ready for more shenanigans.

Book News:

Yeah, I’ll keep this short, as honestly, I just don’t have the heart to act like a salesperson of any sort today, and as soon as I’m done with this, I need to haul tail on Cheetahs Never Win so it gets to my editor on time. I have 13 days to write 100,000 words. Go ahead and laugh now. I’m laughing. It’s a strained laughter. But I’m definitely laughing. Ignore those tears in my eyes. Nooooo problem.

That leads me to ch-ch-change number whatever the fuck it is: After No Kitten Around, Blending In, and Cheetahs Never Win release, the next preorder I do will be Grave Humor on May 16, my birthday book for 2019. The art of staggering preorders, frankly, annoys the hell out of me, so you’re going to be getting books as they’re finished. I will be staggering releases by 3-5 weeks as a general rule, so if I happen to finish a bunch of slider projects at one time, I will hold back a title for a short period of time to give you lovely peeps a chance to read the latest new release first.

The only time I’ll violate this is if I feel like it, which could be at any time without notification. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m really not.

Most of the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books are now available on Google Play, for those of you who like that vendor. I’m adding one a day as time allows.

Playing with Fire and Whatever for Hire have new covers. Hoofin’ It and Serial Killer Princess will have new covers soon. Null and Void will have a new cover soon. The entire Dae Portals series will have new covers soon.

Why?

I’m moving into audiobooks and the original cover artist for these titles is no longer in the business. It was cheaper to get new covers than it was to attempt to get rights to the art files, so these covers will be retired. As a result, the Witch & Wolf series will also be rebranded. Inquisitor and Silver Bullet will have their new covers later this week. As the new Witch & Wolf covers are prepared, I’ll be releasing these titles to Google Play as well.

In good news, there will be audiobooks in the future. I’ve already signed a contract for the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series, and these will be releasing between now and July 2019.

Huntress will also be coming to audiobook soonish.

I’m not sure if I’ll do audiobooks for the Witch & Wolf series yet. The series doesn’t sell all that well, but I am having the audiobook covers made in case I decide there’s enough interest to warrant having the audiobooks made. I’ll see how the books sell after the cover rebranding.

Current book order for sending to the editor is Cheetahs Never Win (Due the 22nd,) Blood Bound, Storm Called, and Steel Heart. Storm Called is written but needs to be typed. Blood Bound is like a quarterish done. Don’t ask about Cheetahs Never Win. Something about it due in 13ish days to the artist. 12. Crap. 12. AHHHHH. If I count today, 13. Fuck.

Fuckfuckfuck.

Just don’t ask about the magnet disaster with the accidental phallic symbol drawn onto Playing with Fire’s new cover.

I’d cry, but honestly, I’m too busy laughing over it.

 

Fowl Play has Released! (Why yes, this is a Sneaky Kitty Critic Newsletter… on the blog!)

Dear humans,

Thanks to yahoo sending an unfortunate number of spam reports to the server, the Furred & Finned Management has made the decision to publish ‘newsletters’ to their website instead. (Those of you subscribed will still get a copy to your emails, too.) Honestly, we think this will be great for everyone. It’ll save the Sneaky Kitty Critic time (and effort) while also making sure as many people possible get a chance to enjoy our shenanigans!

What it won’t do is grant cats (or fish) the ability to spell. We’d be a lot more sorry about this then we are if we could actually spell in the first place. But we’re cats. (Or fish.)

Spelling is obviously beneath us. We’ll leave that to the human.

Who, for some reason we can’t fathom, is snarling curses at us for making her life more difficult. We’re cats, and frankly, she needs to stop asking for miracles. Miracles are what lead silly humans like her straight to disappointment.

So much disappointment.

She really does only have herself to blame.

So! Those familiar with the Furred & Finned Management know that we only send missives for special announcements and new releases. There is a new release today! But… we’re going to be jerkface cats and get back to the whole new release thing later. We have a special announcement to make first.

Blending In will be a $2.99 preorder special. Due to the length of the book, shortly following release, the book’s price will be increased to $3.99. The human had a brain fart when setting up the preorder, and honestly, she should have started the book’s life at the $3.99 price point. But, after careful consideration, she decided whatever. It’s a holiday book. It can stay at $2.99 until release.

So, if you want to save a buck, preorder now or make sure you’re up really early in the morning on November 20 so you can grab your copy before the price is changed. (Don’t use Amazon? You can order Blending In from iBooks, Barnes & Noble/Nook, or Kobo as well.)

Since we’re on the subject of preorders, we have an announcement some folks aren’t going to like. We’re sorry. After the preorder cycles for No Kitten Around, Blending In, and Cheetahs Never Win come to a close, the human will only do one or two preorders a year. This will let her focus more on writing books and less on the business behind writing books. It’ll also make her life a little less hectic. There won’t even be any short preorders.

We’ll still send newsletters when books release, but for the sake of her sanity (and for writing better books with less heartache,) preorders are mostly going the way of the dodo.

Grave Humor, which will release on May 16, 2019, will have a preorder cycle.

Everything else will release as the human finishes with it. Ultimately, this means you’ll get books into your paws a smidgeon faster.

Here are the books the human is currently working on, in no particular order:

Burn, Baby, Burn: Quinn & Bailey’s second book. (This will differ from standard Magical Romantic Comedies (with a body count) because Quinn and Bailey will both sit in the driver’s seat throughout the novel. So far, they’re alternating shorter scenes, but we’ll see how it goes as it goes. In any case, the scenes will be clearly marked with the name of the character in the driver’s seat.

Storm Called: Pat & Jessica’s novel in the Royal States world. This is a prequel novel. Yes, Pat’s glorious fainting event is in the book. (As if our human would write their book without including when the main character faints. Really. Don’t be silly, humans. Of COURSE it’s in there.)

Super Sekrit Contemporary Romantic Comedy Novel: Our human is desperately trying to be sneaky about this book, although ultimately, she’ll probably cave and reveal who she’s writing as this time. She, so far, has a handful of these little buggers planned, and she’s going to write a few of them next year when she needs a break from the regular writing.

Cold Flame: Rachel of New York’s novel, and it’ll involve some scamp of a prince from California. This is quite possibly the most dysfunctional couple of the Royal States world, but neither has any fucks left to give about being functional, so perhaps it’s for the best. Also, Rachel probably needs to check herself into a mental institution for a vacation. She’s a little fucking crazy, y’all. But no wonder. She’s fun, though. Even though she’s totally not what the Furred and Finned Management would consider mentally sound or stable.

The Royal States should probably be concerned when the pyromaniac psychopath is the best candidate to rule New York…

Cheetahs Never Win: The Furred & Finned Management would like to state it’s pretty obvious the human is working on this one as it’s due to the editor no later than October 22, 2018.

Blending In/No Kitten Around: See the note about Cheetahs Never Win.

Blood Bound: Vampires, RJ Blain style. Need we say more?

See the Picture for a visual hint of what she’s also working on.

And now… for a SUPER special announcement:

The Magical Romantic Comedy books will be coming to an audiobook player near you soon…ish. The Furred & Finned Management is pleased to announce the human has found a super badass group of people to handle the production and voicing of the series. She’s still in the negotiation phase, but she can’t wait to be able to announce when she can share the details with you.

You asked… you have received.

Just be patient with us, as this will be a time-consuming endeavor.

While we know you love us, humans, our human needs her magical glowy rectangle box back because she needs to do this thing called ‘work’ and we don’t get fed if she doesn’t get the ‘work’ done. We’re sorry this is short and not as funny as usual.

Blame the human, she’s a slacker mcslackass.

Now… last but not least… Fowl Play has released! You can get your copy now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble/Nook, and Kobo!

About the Book:

Warning: This novella contains humor, romance, magic, puns, bodies, and a short detour from reality. No plots were harmed in the making of this story.

Instead of a quiet dance retreat where she could escape the insanity of being the daughter of an angel, a succubus, and a lycanthrope, Emma Sansaul plummets into the middle of murder, mayhem, and mischief. As becoming the next victim of a crazed serial killer is not on her itinerary, she’s left with no choice but to join forces with Agent Kenneth Bernard to find the murderer, the one man on Earth capable of making her hissing mad one second and in need of a cold shower the next.

From Chapter One:

Normal people worried about delays at the airport, dealing with security, and other travel snarls when heading off on an adventure. Me?

One of my mothers was a succubus, and she’d brought home an incubus for me to enjoy. Like all his demonic kin, he was a dark beauty oozing sin with a dash of temptation, offering everything a girl could want and more. If I didn’t get the hell out of Dodge, I’d miss my flight, lose my virginity, and discover the joys of having an on-call incubus.

Heaven help me.

“No, Mom.” I pointed at the incubus, whose grin promised the immediate disintegration of my panties if I let him get anywhere near me. “What have I told you about bringing random incubi home?”

“You keep telling me not to do it like you actually get a say in the matter. This is my house, young lady. And in my house, I’ll bring home company whenever I want.”

Why, why, why did I have an angel for a mother, a succubus for a mother, and a bloody, feather-brained lycanthrope for a father? I thought a little screaming was warranted, so I started with my father. “Dad!? Mom brought home an incubus again.”

“Talk to your other mother, Emma,” my father yelled back from across the house. “I’m busy with the chicks right now.”

Damned feather-brained, chicken-obsessed idiot of a swan!

“Language!” Ma ordered from up the stairs, proving I had an unwanted snoop poking around in my thoughts again.

“Ma, Mom’s going to make me late for the airport. Can you please deal with this situation?”

“You’re still dressed, he’s not influencing you, and despite your current belief, he won’t actually disintegrate your panties. Stop being such a baby. Maybe if you wouldn’t run every time your mom brought home a guest, she wouldn’t find it so amusing to bring guests home with her.”

“You’re a fallen angel, aren’t you? There’s no other explanation.” I bowed my head, wondered how I’d make the thirty feet to my car without being ambushed, further delayed, or otherwise blocked from going to Boulder, Colorado to practice dancing and escape from the monotony of set performances at the theater.

“No, I’m just fair, and for once in her life, your mom hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Yet! She hasn’t done anything wrong yet.”

“Louisa, perhaps you should take your pet incubus home. You know how cranky George gets when you bring home an incubus for Emma. Can we go one day without having an incident in this house, please?”

Mom scowled, lashing her tail and clamping her wings close to her back. “Damn it! I went through a lot of effort to catch this one.”

Once my mothers started going at it, nothing short of divine intervention would stop them. Mouthing an apology to the bemused incubus, I snatched my luggage and retreated out the front door.

Some days, living with telepaths and empaths annoyed the hell out of me, but once they started duking it out in the privacy of their thoughts, the world could end without either one noticing.

“Have a safe flight, Miss Emma.” The incubus held the front door open for me. “The combination for the lock on your steering wheel is 4-2-7-1.”

“I don’t have a clue who you are, but you’re now my friend.”

“Call me Rafil.”

“Like Israfil?” Having met the archangel, if he ever found out there was a cheeky incubus edging in on his turf, it’d get ugly. With my luck, it’d happen in my house, as my mothers had no shame and enjoyed their power plays as much as my father enjoyed watching them.

I’d been born into a family of raving lunatics.

The incubus’s grin confirmed my fears. “I live to yank his chain. It keeps him on his toes. If you change your mind and want to play with me, give me a call. I’d be glad to introduce you to the true pleasures of life.”

I bolted for my car like the devil himself was hot on my heels. I contemplated murdering Mom when I saw the chain wrapped around my steering wheel, which ran out the window to loop through my rim, ensuring I wouldn’t be going anywhere without the combination. The number worked. I dumped the mess on the lawn for my mom to clean up, shoved my bags into the backseat, and bailed before my parents could stop me.

Like what you read? We certainly hope so. As we like being fed, we encourage you to buy your copy now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble/Nook, and Kobo!

We also hope you enjoyed the random pictures of us scattered throughout this text.

What can I say? We’re cats.

Oh, an update on the pesky Finned portion of our management team…

Desmond and Landen are now sharing the divided tank, and they love having company. The baby fish trolls the old fish, and the old fish adores having someone to display for. We’d show you a picture, but the website is so jealous over their awesome it won’t upload the images today. We’re sorry. We’ll try again next newsletter to show how cute they are.

Have a great day, humans!

We’re sorry, Humans Who Use Yahoo.

Today, our human had to make a painful decision. Due to Yahoo automatically filing spam reports on behalf of users, which in terms penalizes the human’s mail server, she had to make the decision to remove all yahoo accounts from her newsletter mailing list.

To make up for this, our human will be posting the newsletter to her facebook, to our website, and to everywhere we’re active so you can still see the newsletter despite it not appearing in your email box.

Seriously. We’re sorry. We really are. We didn’t want to have to make this choice. We made it because we had to. Our human doesn’t want to lose the ability to send emails to all other humans, and despite spending hours trying to find a solution around yahoo automarking and filing complaints about spam, nothing has worked.

As such, we’re doing a complete ban of yahoo addresses from the mailing list.

If you use facebook, please follow her page. She will post a copy of all newsletters there, complete with pictures.

Once again, we’re really sorry, and at this time, we can’t make any exceptions due to yahoo’s current mailing practices.

If you have a gmail account, you can set up an auto forward. That way, if yahoo assigns a spam report, it’s pinging gmail’s servers and not our human’s. And it will. Often.

P.S.: Our human is really mad at Yahoo right now for forcing her to do this, but automated spam requests have been on the rise from Yahoo, people have been complaining about emails not coming through, and it’s been flagging in as spam. There are not these problems with other providers.

~Tia the Majestic on behalf of the Furred & Finned Management.

A State of the Blain Address, as Told by Cats

Dear Humans,

Selling a female cheap. She has a lot of bad habits, including a tendency to over work, inability to consistently do her chores, and withholding treats at her whim. Interested parties should inquire with the Furred & Finned Management.

Okay, we’re joking. Mostly. Mostly. The female has been using the zoomy sucky noisy box on the carpet lately, and we don’t like it. We’ve tried to conquer the foul beast, but it continues to thwart our efforts. We find this utterly unacceptable.

Okay, to business. Due to the human’s inability to resist two trilogies of covers, she’s been forced to adjust her upcoming publication schedule somewhat. She’s also in talk with her editor to find the best way to keep from going insane while still producing books for your enjoyment. So, please bear with me while we try to delve into the frightening depths of the human’s new schedule. It’s a bit of a doozy.

First, my human has adopted a ‘main project and play project’ system. In short, she sets daily goals for the projects she must finish by a certain date. Once she’s done her work for the day, she has the freedom to work on whatever project she wants or take time to just veg out online doing whatever it is humans do when they’re not working. This means a few things. First, it means she still has editorial bookings and deadlines, but she also will have a stable of books that’ll go to the editor when ready waiting for the editor’s next opening. As such, her system is weird, weird, weird.

We’ll do our best to show you what the human is working on, though.

Let’s start with the projects in the editorial phase of things. (There will be a list at the end of this post with an updated order she’s working on things, so please bear with me, humans!)

First up is Wolf Hunt, the first book of the Wolf Hunt trilogy. This book is technically Witch & Wolf #5. The human thinks people can just dive in willy-nilly, as it features a new main character without any connections to the Yellowknife pack, Seattle’s special brand of insanity, or the Inquisition.

The human is going to be working at implementing the edits for this book next week, and it should release by the end of August if everything goes well. It’ll be priced at $4.99, and my human hasn’t written the description doohickey yet. In a nut shell, it’s about a former military operative who dropped off the radar and works for hire finding things people don’t want found–or stealing things. Declan’s a hoot.

There’s basically no romance in this one at all, although eventually there will be some. This is more action-adventure oriented with my human’s special brand of odd humor. (But while there’s humor, it’s not like the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series. (Sorry!)

My human has already started writing Wild Wolf, which is the second book of the trilogy, although it’s very much a side project. She works on a few pages every few months around other things. Next year, in the later half of the year, it’ll be moved up to a more serious side project and handed over to the editor for the next available slot.

Expect the human to release one new Witch & Wolf novel a year until she’s finished the main series and side stories. There’s one exception to this: Dustin Walker’s stories will be worked on alongside the other Witch & Wolf series. There will be one large anthology of short stories and novellas and a novel with additional short stories and novellas. (The first book is called Water Witch. The second one hasn’t been titled yet, but it’ll include an ‘and other Dustin Walker stories’ to keep Amazon happy with the bonus content issue.)

Next up is Fowl Play. My human has gotten the editorial notes, and she has quite a bit of work to do on the story before it’s ready for publication. It will release as scheduled on September 25, 2018. You can preorder on Amazon and other retailers.

About the book:

Warning: This novella contains humor, romance, magic, puns, bodies, and a short detour from reality. No plots were harmed in the making of this story.

Instead of a quiet dance retreat where she could escape the insanity of being the daughter of an angel, a succubus, and a lycanthrope, Emma Sansaul plummets into the middle of murder, mayhem, and mischief. As becoming the next victim of a crazed serial killer is not on her itinerary, she’s left with no choice but to join forces with Agent Kenneth Bernard to find the murderer, the one man on Earth capable of making her hissing mad one second and in need of a cold shower the next.

This novella is approximately 41,000 words. (This word count will slightly change after editing is finished. Durned editors!)

Like the other novellas in the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) line up, it’s meant for more fun than anything else. (There’s a reason no plots were harmed in the making of the story.)

If you haven’t gotten your fill of Magical Romantic Comedies yet, No Kitten Around releases on October 30, 2018. You can preorder from Amazon and other retailers.

About the Book:

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

The last thing Reed Matthews needs in his life is a kitten, but when an orphaned tabby suckers him into becoming her caretaker, he’s in for the ride of his life. Add in an angel determined to meddle in his affairs, a devil with an agenda, and a bucketful of bad omens, and he’ll count himself fortunate if he survives the clash between heaven, hell, and his ex.

In this anything goes romp, there’s no kitten around: if Reed wants to survive and regain control of his life, his only hope lies in the hands of an elf and his ex, a woman he’s sworn to never see again.

This one probably falls into the ‘more serious’ of the Magical Romantic Comedy stories. There’s still humor, but it’s not page to page die of laughter humor. The human claims she’s sorry about this, but honestly, she writes the stories as they need to be told, and as often as not, the humor is accidental. All that said, there are some lethal puns in this one, for which the human is most definitely not sorry or even apologetic.

Still not tired of Magical Romantic Comedies yet? That’s probably a good thing, as on December 25, 2018, Cheetahs Never Win will release. The preorder will go live in late September. My human is currently handwriting the book as her beloved play project, but it will become the main project as soon as she’s finished Owl Be Yours and get it off to the editor. (Oh, yeah. More on Owl Be Yours after we’re done talking about Cheeeeetaaaahhss.)

This story is about a pair of private investigators who get embroiled in a serial killer case. There’s humor, but this is definitely for the murder mystery fans out there. It’s going to be a hoot, but it’s going to be the kinda hoot where you’ll suspect the human was dipping into the catnip again.

Warning: thar be puns here.

There’s also a cheetah. I mean, cheetahs. My human loves cheetahs, and she finally gets to do a Magical Romantic Comedy featuring a cheetah. Pack Justice fans are probably well aware of my human’s adoration for cheeetttaaahhhs.

Chirp, chirp!

But seriously. My human is planning a huge bash for this book. She’s joining forces with a jeweler to make a custom piece of jewelry to giveaway to help promote the book. There’ll also be a chance to get a complete collection of my human’s books in paperback.

It’ll be a blast.

I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda getting tired of my human’s fixation of the Magical Romantic Comedy stories… but tough luck for us. Owl Be Yours goes to the editor on August 15, 2018. This is a novella about a woman named Emily who was infected with the lycanthropy virus against her will. In a cruel twist of fate, she’s lost everything, struggling to pretend she’s human when she’s forced to survive as an owl because the whole human gig just isn’t working out well for her.

When the past comes blasting back into her life, she’ll have a chance to take back the shattered ruins of her life. Better yet, she’ll get a hefty dose of revenge and find love along the way.

This novella was a hoot to write, and the heroine is more of an anti-heroine, as her solution to life’s problems involves murder and mayhem.

(Her name is Emily, and my human loves her to pieces.)

Owl Be Yours will be available soon. The human is undecided if she’ll live launch this book or set up a preorder.

This line up makes me think the human really has nothing better to do than work on Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) stories.

You need some new tricks, human.

Yeah, in case you didn’t guess already, there are no new tricks yet. May 16, 2019 will usher in Grave Humor.

She’s about 10% done the draft of the story, and it’s insanity. That’s all I can say. It’s insane. My human has finally lost it. We may need to stage an intervention.

We may also need to convince the human to take a brief leave from having animal-themed stories in this series.

This one starts in a funeral home, and it only goes downhill from there. Thanks to the events of Whatever for Hire, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, the dead aren’t quite staying dead when they should, and it falls to one poor funeral home attendant to figure out what’s going wrong and why. Add in a recently revived vampire, an awoken sleeper from a different emergence era, and magic gone rogue, and this novel is bound to be a roller coaster ride of hilarity, action, and excitement.

When the going gets tough, the tough join forces with the dead to keep things lively.

Yeah. There’s going to be puns. Guess what? The damned human is never sorry. Ever.

And now that I’ve finished tormenting you with the upcoming Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) stories, it’s time to talk about Steel Heart.

I even used the magical rectangle type box make that all bold for you.

Jesse Alexander is back, and she’s about to land neck deep in trouble again. Surprise! Okay, I’m pretty sure no one who has read Water Viper is actually surprised. I mean, this is Jesse we’re talking about. Where she goes, trouble follows.

Steel Heart is due to the editor on November 26, 2018. It’s going to be a long book, so the human is anticipating a March 2019 release, roughly. She was going to try to have the draft done by October, but she considered it and decided to give herself extra time to work on it. This is a good thing. Sure, it makes it a little later for you, but it’ll make for a better story.

My human has already begun writing the book, and it will be her main project as soon as Cheetahs Never Win is out the door to the editor.

Glorious day!

To answer a few brief questions my human has received often…

Will we find out what happened to those poor horses? Yes. (And you’ll find out a lot about other things similar to this question, including Jesse’s parents and clan.)

Will Anatoly and Jesse get together? Read and find out. (No, we’re not going to spoil that for you, silly humans.)

Will there be more books after Steel Heart? Yes. The human is hoping for a quartet of monster-lengthened books plus a short story and novel anthology.)

Will there be a chance for more books after the quartet? That depends on how the quartet works out and if there’s realistically more stories for Jesse and friends. The world is big, Jesse is prone to trouble, and she’s great fun to write. Honestly, the human doubts Jesse will have more than four books in her due to how long they are. (Water Viper was 194,000ish words long. That’s essentially two novels in one. The human expects Steel Heart to be of similar length.)

When will the third Jesse Alexander novel release? The human doesn’t know, but expect 2-3 years. It’s exhausting writing the big, bad, thick books. That could change, though. It depends on the human, her mood, and how much Jesse sings after she’s finished Steel Heart.

That was a lot to digest, so here’s the immediate future in terms of book publication:

  • Wolf Hunt (Expected August 2018)
  • Fowl Play (September 25, 2018)
  • Owl Be Yours (Unknown but soon.)
  • No Kitten Around (October 30, 2018)
  • Cheetahs Never Win (December 25, 2018)
  • Blood Bound (February 2019) (Wait, what? Yeah. Vampires. Coming soon.)
  • Steel Heart (March 2019)
  • Grave Humor (May 16. 2019)

Here are the side projects my human is actively working on:

  • Storm Called: A Royal States Novel (Due to editor January 7, 2019.)
  • Cold Flame: A Royal States Novel (Due to editor February 11, 2019.)
  • Burn, Baby, Burn: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) (Quinn & Bailey #2.)
  • Sekrit Contemporary Romance Project (No estimated date of arrival)
  • Hidden Talents: Book 1 of a Royal States Trilogy
  • Hypnos: Seeking the Zodiacs Book One (No estimated date of arrival)
  • Saddle Up: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) (No estimated date of arrival)
  • Sunshine’s Gambit: A Sunshine Cassidy Novel Book One (No estimated date of arrival, book is currently being plotted.)
  • Sekrit Project: No title for you! It’s an urban fantasy, though.

That’s it. My human will update you when things change. Assume everything not on this list will be cycled in as she finishes other projects and clears them off her plate.

Happy reading, humans!

 

A Cat’s Guide to Bad Businesses with Good Authors

Dear humans,

If you’re a reader, this may not interest you. Sorry. Every now and then, the Furred & Finned Management goes out on a limb to help another struggling author try to turn their bad business into success. My human? She loves helping people. She can’t help a lot of people, but she’ll try to take another author under her wing to give them a better chance of turning their dreams into reality.

But sometimes, sometimes we come across something so boggling we need to tell a cautionary tale of how not to run a business. Honestly, this applies to most businesses.

The Furred & Finned Management would like to state we have the author’s permission to discuss this venture.

It began with a single word: taxes.

You might want to grab a drink for this one, possibly some headache medicine, because meeeooooooooow, with an emphasis on the ow.

I’m convinced no one actually likes doing taxes. My human finds some form of glee in certain elements of the venture, such as turning a chaotic pile of receipts into something that actually makes sense. But in reality? Come tax season, the Furred & Finned Management works overtime keeping the human from brutally disemboweling herself with a rusty spoon before committing an act of self-defenestration. After making use of some gasoline and a match.

Fun stuff.

Well, one of her closer friends is an author, too, and the tax issue came up. Since my human was working with new software, she volunteered to help her friend make sense of the taxes and get her set up for better business practices. practices that would let her friend actually make sense of the expenditures and things like that.

For those of you who want to follow along or poke at the software being used, we’re using QuickBooks Self-Employed. (Why yes, I did just slip in an affiliate link on my human’s behalf. Because it’s a good business practice to try to earn as much legitimate funds/savings as possible. More on that later.)

We’re mostly using this software to make a sensible list of our receipts, our transactions, and our income to hand over to our various accountants at tax time and track how much our quarterly payments should be. It’s very useful for that. So very useful. My human loves it, because as long as she takes the 20 extra seconds when paying for something, she no longer has to worry about it later. Building good habits is a critical part of running a successful business.

My human’s friend? She’s a good author with a bad business.

Boy, is it ever a bad business. Ouch.

(And yes, we really did get her permission to post this shit. She’s currently in her box of shame while wearing her cone of shame, and she’s okay with this… because the Furred & Finned Management is going to call out the human for having done similar shit earlier in her career.)

But this is how and why my human recognizes the mistakes her friend has made. For the sake of this post, her friend’s name is Meowy McMeowyson.

Meowy McMeowyson loves bright, shiny things.

Meowy McMeowyson has many stories she wishes to tell.

Meowy McMeowyson wants to succeed and thinks of the future.

Meowy McMeowyson works hard.

Meowy McMeowyson does a lot of the right things.

Meowy McMeowyson does them all in the wrong way. And yes, there is a wrong way, humans. No one likes admitting that, but it’s the truth.

There are right and wrong ways to operate a business, and it’s very easy to do things the wrong way. This isn’t a post to teach you the intricacies of running a profitable business. The Furred & Finned Management would have to write an entire book on it. In the writing business, it’s really hard. Really hard. For every author who succeeds, there are at least a hundred more who never break even on their stories. I think the actual statistic is even less in an author’s favor. In reality, most authors spend their hard-earned money from other work to pay for expenses. And it’s hard justifying putting cheaper food on the table to write a book.

My human started that way, too. She did a lot of extra freelance work. She scraped the barrel for pennies and may have robbed a few couches of their loose change to get started. She begged for help getting started through a crowd funding campaign. Luck factored in her being able to continue writing. The male human played an even bigger roll, letting her muddle through on the extra earnings the household brought in trying to transform her hobby into a career.

My human made many of the same mistakes Meowy McMeowyson has made.

Here’s what the mistakes were and why they’re mistakes.

1: Money Matters

Publishing is hard. Advertising a book is hard. You need a strong cover, a better book description, and even better writing to make a sale. Here’s a tough pill to swallow: money matters. Cover art is the easiest element of the sales triad. You pay someone good money to make something beautiful designed to sell your book. Writing the book description requires a deep knowledge of the market. If you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t know how to write descriptions meant to cater to them. The hardest part is writing, editing, and formatting the actual book. No one likes being told their book needs work. No one likes being told the reason a book isn’t selling is because the book itself lacks that spark that makes a reader want to turn the page.

My human is constantly working at writing a better book. It’s hard on her because she just wants to write. But she wants to entertain. But she also needs to make money.

Money matters.

This is her only source of income. It’s how she puts food on the table. She works far more than 40 hours a week putting words on the page and bringing them to market. There are a lot of people out there who say money shouldn’t matter to authors and that they should love (and publish) for the love of writing.

No. Money matters. For authors who rely on their books to feed them, writing is a business, not a charity. My sister and I, as well as the finned menaces, rely on the money our humans bring in to take care of us. And we only get to see any of the money for food, rent, and bills if all our staff has been paid and the government has gotten their share of the pie.

Only then do we see any of the money.

Money matters. Money matters. Money matters. For hobbyists or those who are wealthy enough to spend a lot of money on a single book, by all means. Write for passion alone. But please, please, please remember that many of your favorite authors are treating their books as full-time jobs and rely on their income to feed themselves and their family.

Money fucking matters.

Please don’t feed the mentality that your favorite authors don’t deserve a paycheck. Take a moment to imagine a world without entertainment.

Turn on the tv. Imagine what it is like to flip through the channels to find only dour, serious news reports paid for by the government. You have the weather channel. You have some government-funded documentaries.

There are no movies. They require writers.

There are no television shows. They require writers.

There are no children’s shows. They require writers.

They require actors. They require artists. They require makeup artists. They require graphic designers. They require musicians.

Imagine a world without music.

You turn on the television, and there’s not even a jingle to separate the segments of the news. There are no theme songs. There are no background melodies anymore.

There’s silence.

Artists, writers, musicians… they all deserve to be paid.

Money really matters, and the mentality that authors shouldn’t be paid because they’re frivolous hurts everybody. Free, free, free only takes you so far.

Imagine a world without art. Without music. Without movies, television, or books. It’s a dark, dreary place without life and spark.

Whether you realize it or not, art is an everyday part of your live. Even the clothes you wear today is the result of an artist’s hard work.

Forgetting that money matters is a huge mistake for everyone involved, and the failure to pay attention and focus one’s efforts (financially) is a recipe for disaster.

2: Only Buy what you NEED

My human is the crowned champion of failing at this so hard core. Nowadays, she plans differently. She can get away with that because she’s investing profits back into her business. When you’re not making profit, the Furred & Finned Management would like to take a moment to remind you to avoid buying that thing you don’t need.

You want to keep writing (and selling) books. We get that. We definitely get that. And nothing is stopping you from doing that. Do it, but do it wisely.

Meowy McMeowyson is very, very bad at this. Meowy McMeowyson is so bad at this she’s spent over 10,000 on things she simply doesn’t need. She won’t use the things she’s purchased for at least five or six years. Maybe longer. There are some things that were purchased that will never be used.

The Furred & Finned Management, along with the helpful human with a calculator, sat down with Meowy McMeowyson and explained why this was a really bad idea.

Investing for the future is a good idea… but only if you have the excess profits to do so. The math works a little like this. (This is only for purpose of example. Please don’t use this math as your actual business practice. It’s an individual choice.)

Let’s assume it takes $1,500 to fully produce a brand new novel. This assumption includes the following: $750 for editorial. $250 for cover art. $500 for copyright fees, basic advertising, general misc expenses for the novel. My human spends between roughly $750 to $1,500 per book depending on length, cover artist, and advertising options.

That’s a lot of money.

It’s instinct to want to hunt bargains when you’re looking at a $1,500 gamble to produce a novel. (Oh, boy. Let me tell you about my human and her anxiety attacks investing that much into every book. We have to pay everything up front. Because that’s how the business works.) There are ways to lower fees, but here’s the problem.

A lot of authors buy shiny covers because they’re beautiful. My human? My human is majorly guilty of this.

So is Meowy McMeowyson.

There’s one critical difference between my human and Meowy McMeowyson. My human is taking her hard-earned profits and reinvesting them into the business. She’s hedging for rainy days. If the money runs out, she only has to worry about her editing fees. Authors who aren’t making profits should not be hedging for rainy days. Focus on the here and now. Buy only what you need.

To buy new covers, my human has to sacrifice out of her advertising budget to do so.

Here is a glorious gallery of my human’s guilt.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My human’s friends and fans may recognize some of these covers. Fowl Play is currently available for preorder. Cheetahs Never Win will release December 25, 2018. Blood Bound will release in February 2019. Storm Called has been drafted, and my human has begun typing the story into her glowy magical rectangle box. Hidden Talents has been started, as has Sword Maiden, Cold Flame, Pirate Magic, Lost & Found, and Sink or Swim. Amber was purchased because it fit so well with The Captive King and the human had already written an opening for a novella. It was an impulse buy, however. A luxury. One she’s itching to work on but would need to take a week of time off work strictly to research to make happen.

When the end game is making money, this is a glorious gallery of unpublished mistakes.

But there are ways to transform mistakes into success. But it involves strict rationing (AKA cover bans aahahaha oops) and understanding that hedging bets is not the same as putting food on the table.

Let’s break down what this glorious gallery of mistakes cost my human.

Some facts before I start tossing numbers, may have some variation as my human can’t quite remember if two of the covers were custom or premade. (Don’t ask.):

  • Number of Custom Covers: 8
  • Number of Premade Covers: 25
  • Number of Covers beginning new series, thus leading to extra purchases: 2
  • Number of Customs purchased due to new series: 13

The covers cost my human between $140 to $200 a piece. We’ll roll with $160 as an average. The customs purchased due to new series cost $299 each.

Total Cost of this Gallery, including customs purchased due to new series: $8,889.

Meowy McMeowyson has far outspent my human in the cover department, both premade and custom.

Yeah, those numbers hurt. They hurt a lot. My human spent almost $9,000 in luxury money on cover art.

It’s also worth noting this isn’t a complete gallery of all these little mistakes made over the years. My human has many covers stashed for series completions. My human prefers to use the same artist for an entire series, so she hires according to that preference. She books the entire series with the same artist after getting the initial premade. It lowers her stress levels substantially. This is also part of hedging her bets with luxury money.

If the readers stop buying, she can keep writing because she has pretty covers.

But this is a mistake, especially if you’re not making profit to begin with. The Furred & Finned Management would also like to take a moment to remind readers mistakes can turn into success. That’s what hedge betting is all about. Some of these covers will go on books that never make a profit. That’s an unfortunate reality. Others will fly off the shelves and startle my human most gloriously.

It’s okay. If you’ve done this, it’s not going to ruin you. You’re just going to have to rein that horse in and change how you think.

For the record, my human just bought Rise, Crash, Soar, Sunshine’s Gambit, Sunshine’s Trial, and Sunshine’s Triumph because she has no restraint and when everyone says those three covers are so perfect for your brand… it’s worth making that expensive mistake.

So, here’s the compromise that you can use to keep getting those shinies while making the type of mistake you can be proud of later.

First, understand your financial situation.

Seriously. Meowy McMeowyson had no idea what her financial situation was. Literally. My human offered to help because my human has no common sense. (In this case, my human offered to be hired in a PA-type role to handle organizing and registering Meowy McMeowyson’s expenses into tax software. It is Meowy McMeowyson’s responsibility to double-check my human’s work and make sure everything matches up. What Meowy McMeowyson is doing is illustrating the problems in Meowy McMeowyson’s financial situation so they can be fixed.

Then, after you’ve acquired base understanding of your financial situation, understand where you’re going wrong.

Here are some facts of life that may trigger screaming and crying fits.

  1. A cover without a book can’t sell the book.
  2. A book without a cover can’t be sold.
  3. There’s no point in having a gorgeous cover if your readers have no way of finding you.

Let’s talk about these in closer detail.

A cover without a book can’t sell the book.

This should be obvious. No matter how pretty your new cover is, if you don’t have a book to go with it, you just flushed money down the drain. If you just bought a cover you didn’t need, there are a few ways you can handle this situation.

You can ask your cover artist if you can sell the cover at original price to someone else. Most cover artists require their permission to transfer the license to another person. (Read your contracts carefully.) And typically, the cover artist has final say in if they’ll allow that license to be transferred. (Yes… that cover doesn’t actually belong to you. You’re licensing it, typically exclusively. Many designers have unlimited licenses for digital use because that is what the stock sites have. If you have print covers, you probably have a limitation on number of print copies you can sell before you have to renew your license. Pay attention to things like this. It’s important.

Let’s talk about Huntress, my human’s newest release.

Huntress was a mistake. Actually, Huntress was a real mistake leading to a loss. My human somewhat regrets the mistakes leading up to, well, the book itself being a bit of a financial mistake. Let me set some records straight: this sounds bad. For her wallet, it is. The book failed every expectation my human set out for it. She’s proud of the book. She’ll always be proud of the book. But she does not expect that book to do that brand any favors.

Here’s the anatomy of this specific mistake.

The book cover was sold as a FCFS sale in a premade cover group. My human pounced on this cover the instant it was posted and snatched that baby up. Why? It is everything my human loves about UF/F covers. It sang to her. That part will never be a mistake. She would have to check the invoices, but the Furred & Finned Management believes the human paid $200 for the cover. The book cost ~$500 to edit. Ish. My human spent about $300 on various advertising failures trying to get the book traction. Huntress released on July 31 after a 90 day preorder cycle at $0.99. The book was increased in price to $4.99 on release day.

Huntress has made $578.27 at time of posting. This isn’t a request to buy copies. It isn’t a plea of any sort. it’s just fact. This is why the Furred & Finned Management has chosen against leaving a link to the book. This isn’t about boosting sales.

This is about the anatomy of a book launch failure.

Huntress accomplished one thing my human secretly squeals over when no one is listening: it’s her first book to ever crest 1,000 preorders. So, to the thousand of you who grabbed a copy, thank you. The Furred & Finned Management and the humans (both of them) really appreciate your support.

But if we were to look at this book from a pure business perspective, it’s a failure from top to bottom. It’s current performance will eventually lead the book to paying for itself, but it’s riding off the coattails of the successful titles. That happens. It’s okay.

but it was born as a mistake, it grew as a mistake, it published as a mistake, and it still is a mistake.

But failures can be turned to successes in time. Growing a brand, becoming profitable… it’s a journey, not a destination. There will be mistakes and failures on the way. But it’s always important to acknowledge your mistakes and failures. Success isn’t someone getting lucky. Success is taking all those mistakes and failures, piling them on top of each other, learning from them, and climbing on top so you can make another mistake or failure and climb over that one, too.

If you’ve made this mistake, it’s really okay. We all make mistakes. We all fail. We all waste money we wish we hadn’t. What matters is if you take a solid look at your business practices and decide how to turn the car around.

But every time you see that beautiful cover you think you can write the perfect book for, stop and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can you realistically afford this right now? (IE, will you have to stop eating to pay for it?)
  2. Will you end up in debt for longer than it takes for the next royalty payment to come in?
  3. Will you use the cover within the next six months? (If a trilogy set, will you publish the first book within six months?)
  4. Have you partially written the book you will use with that cover?
  5. Will this purchase put my business in debt?
  6. Do you have a bunch of other mistakes waiting for their turn to be written?

Just stop and think about it. Wait 24 hours. If the cover is still there, think about it harder. (This is what happened to my human with the Sunshine books. So many people thought it was a perfect fit and knew my human wanted to write stories like that. She ultimately caved to peer pressure. The peer pressure cost her (and her business) $600. She regrets nothing.

Here’s the critical element of consideration: she regrets nothing.

To make it work, she’s found a way to get Sunshine’s Gambit to publish in roughly 6-8 months. (Rise, which was a minimum bid on a premade auction, will be in the 8-12 month window. Longer than my human would like, but… that’s the way it is.)

My human spent that money out of her profits after discussion with the male human as it would come out of the savings account and the household budget.

Nowadays, my human mostly relies on #4.

She also looks at her list of unfinished books with covers made and booked, which helps a lot to stop her from wanting new covers. The covers must sing to her soul and be spectacular for her to consider buying them.

Every last one of these mistakes is burning a huge hole in my human’s pocket.

Don’t be like my human. Collecting beautiful covers is a mistake if you can’t write the books fast enough.

My human should be covered for the next ten years of her career. Roughly.

(Also, it’s worth noting that both of the human’s cover artists will spray her with their water bottles of author repellent when she considers misbehaving and won’t let her spend her money unless she can justify it like what the actual fuck. The two past set acquisitions slipped under the ban due to perfection for brand and after a great deal of thought and schedule shuffling to make room for them.)

In short, my human essentially signed up for an extra 5 hours of work a week to make those six covers viable. She’s currently working 50+ hour weeks.

Everything comes at a price, and that price isn’t always money.

A Book Without a Cover Can’t be Sold.

This is the flip side of the previous point. Not having a cover is as much shooting yourself in the foot as having one without a book. Having a good cover is critical if you want that book to succeed. There’s a reason the best sellers all have professional covers. There’s also a reason all the covers in the same genre in the top rankings all look the same.

Here’s an example:

One of these is not like the others. This screenshot was taken on July 27 when Hoofin’ It had a US Bookbub. (The book did very well. On behalf of the human, the Furred & Finned Management thanks you all!)

The colors are all toned down. Hoofin’ It sticks out like a sore thumb. A very blue and yellow sore thumb. Naomi Novik’s book uses blue and yellow, too… but it’s not as bright. (It’s a gorgeous cover and us kitties love it.) But these are the types of covers that are currently selling books. Let’s just say my human takes risks in every element of her business, from marketing to covers to content. Her entire brand is founded on being different. And that leads to failure and more mountain climbing.

It’s a mistake to bank too many covers, but it’s also a mistake to not have covers when you need them. The advice, such as it is, is pretty simple: toe the line carefully.

There’s no point in having a gorgeous cover if your readers have no way of finding you.

Here’s where Meowy McMeowyson went really wrong. She spent more than five digits on covers she won’t use for at least five years and less than a thousand on advertising.

Yeah. That’s a problem.

Advertising is hard. No one really likes marketing. The newsletter droppers, outside of Bookbub, tend to be more misses than hits. My human only uses them when she’s doing a huge push during a sale. She usually loses money on those venues, but they do pay in terms of branding. (The more often someone sees a product by a person, the more comfortable they become with that product. It’s a major foundation point in marketing. You build familiarity, familiarity leads to interest, interest leads to sales.)

You want readers to go, “Oh! I saw that book before. It’s good?”

And then you want readers to also go, “Oh, yes! I read that book. It is good!”

That’s how the real magic happens. You want the sales. You want the returns on your investment… but you want your branding. You want to build a name. You want to get people used to seeing you around.

Advertising is a critical way of accomplishing that.

How you advertise will take experimentation and a lot of work. It’s hard. For some, facebook ads work marvelously well. For others, it’s a horror show. Apply this to every single marketing type ever. The Furred & Finned Management wishes every viable venue of advertising could be discussed here, but it’s just not possible. So, we’ll keep this one short and sweet.

If you have covers for the books you’re working on right now, say no to the cover and say yes to learning how to advertise your book. You’re going to lose money. You’re going to have to experiment. You might have to budget to replace that cheap cover you purchased because that’s what you could afford. You might have to rewrite you book description to make it do a better job of selling your book.

But if your book isn’t selling, there is a reason for that.

That reason is one of the following:

  1. Your cover needs to be replaced because it doesn’t look professional, doesn’t represent the genre you’re writing, or otherwise doesn’t fit your target audience.
  2. Your description needs to be rewritten.
  3. You need to work on your writing skills and focus on writing a better book.
  4. No one currently wants to read what you’re writing. (While writing to market will fix this issue in many ways, it is TOTALLY possible to sell an out-of-market title with a spectacular cover, description, and book backing both.)

This is a hard pill to swallow. No one likes being told there’s a problem with any one of these things. Fix it. Go ahead and whine in private, but seriously. There’s only one way to resolve those problems, and that’s to put your ass in the chair and work hard at fixing those problems. The cover art costs money or selling your soul to the devil or bartering to fix. (Most authors simply do not have the necessary skills to create a professional piece of cover art.) Rewriting the description takes skill, but it’s typically the easiest to fix. Politely ask your friends, who are having good success at selling their books, for help and advice. Just be aware you will have to do 95% of the work. They won’t be writing the damned thing for you… unless you offer to pay them good money for their time. Maybe then. My human doesn’t know. My human learned the hard way and have never paid anyone to write their descriptions. There are freelancers who will write descriptions for you, however. Prices vary.

As for writing a better book, keep working at it. Keep writing. Read often. Reading helps you learn to write. (Really. It does.) Learn what makes a book tick. If you’re having problems figuring it out, hire a developmental editor, one who will teach you everything. (You want someone who coaches, not just someone who will look at your plot structure and make suggestions on how you can fix it and general input. Ask before you hire. You need a comprehensive developmental editor who will give you lessons as necessary.)

These editors are the most expensive type of all. Expect to pay a lot of money with a slower turnaround. It takes time to write up those editorial letters.

And here’s the kicker: when your editor tells you you’re doing something wrong, take a good, close look at it and figure out why it’s wrong. If you don’t know, ask.

If your editor replies, “That’s how it’s done in the English language, and you can verify it in the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Style guide…” Well, fix it. Those two books are excellent guides on how to use the English language in fiction and non-fiction.

My human’s editor finds this problem very often, so the Furred & Finned Management is going to take a moment to give you a brief lesson.

Dialogue tags. They work in a very specific fashion in the English language.

This is correct: “I love cats,” Bob said.

This is correct: “I love cats.” Bob bounced up and down in his excitement. “I really love cats!”

This is correct: “I love cats,” Bob said, bouncing up and down.

This is also correct: “The real difference between cats and dogs,” Bob said, “is where they go to take a shit.”

This also correct.” “The real difference between cats and dogs?” Bob bounced up and down. “It’s all about where they go to take a shit.”

This is NOT correct: “I love cats,” Bob bounced up and down, “I really love cats.”

Explanation why this is not correct: Bob bouncing up and down is an action, not a dialogue tag. And while you can link to segments of speech with a comma following a dialogue tag, you can’t use an action in this way.

Let’s break it down: “This is a sentence,” Bob says, which is a dialogue tag.

Says, said, tells, shouts, screams, whispers… these words are dialogue tags. Bob is speaking in some fashion.

Bob bouncing is an action. Actions are not methods of speaking.

Use a comma only when you’re following with a dialogue tag. If in doubt, simplify.

Are you using a speech form? (Said, says, screams, yells, whispers.) If yes, use a comma. “I love cats,” I whispered.

Are you using an action without a speech form? If yes, use a period. “I love cats.” I ran into the wall in my excitement.

Are you using a speech form and an action? If yes, you use a comma! “I love cats,” I whispered, rising to my feet. “I want to own every cat in the world.”

That’s dialogue tags in a nutshell. (There are some other rules, but these rules will typically help you dodge complaints from your editor.)

Ahem. Please excuse that derailing of the subject.

Back on track. In closing, running a publishing business is hard. It’s heartbreaking. It tests the limits of authors around the world. My human sees writers lose hope every day. They’ve worked for years without any success. They have piled their failures upon one another, climbed up on top, only to discover there are more failures looming on the horizon. They see success around them, and they question themselves. Why do they do this to themselves? They’ve spent so much for so little.

It hurts. Every day you’re in the hole, it cuts deeper until the only thing left is questions.

Why, why, why?

You have to decide what you want out of writing for yourself. If you want it to be luxury art, something you do for the pure joy of writing, without ever wanting to make a profit off your work… this post isn’t the place for you. (But thanks for reading it anyway.) But for those who do want to rise over that pile of failures to find success…?

It took my human over twenty books to get traction, and that was only after tens of thousands of dollars of poor choices littering the path.

Here are some of the mistakes she’s made outside of the cover work world:

  1. Spending money on services that didn’t serve her actual needs. (Knowing what you need vs what you want is tough. There’s no easy guide for that one, but… if you’re not sure it’s a good move, it probably isn’t a good move. Get recommendations for the company you’re hiring. If you find a lot of people with bad experiences and an equal number with good experiences, think about that carefully. Everyone will have a bad experience with a service provider, but if there’s a lot of negativity about a business outside of ‘oh my god so expensive’ then there’s possibly a problem. A good way to validate someone’s experience is to ask how much they spent on the services, total. (If someone has spent more than $10,000 on a company and has a list of reasons why not… that’s definitely worth a little more than someone who spent $100 on a company and had a bad experience. Ask for details, listen, and judge for yourself. Do this for every provider.))
  2. Not listening to gut instincts on red flags better. (If you feel something is wrong, it probably is.)
  3. Hanging out with the wrong crowd. (Wait, what? Okay, here’s the deal. Authors are great support if you’re hanging with the right tribe. Singular people? Often fantastic. But once people mob into groups? It’s bad news. Make your own tribe of people who will support you, but avoid the mobs. If you see people involved with mobs over and over… you may want to avoid. You’re going to lose time to drama, time you could have spent writing instead.)
  4. Avoid the drama. It’s not worth your time. You don’t need to know or care about who said what in the latest author vs author dispute. You could be writing instead.
  5. Too many groups. Seriously. Drop them unless mandatory. You could be writing instead.
  6. Not ditching all those damned little time-consuming things that prevent writing. You guessed it! You could be writing instead.

This ramble has consumed 5,700 words. It’s a good thing it’s my human’s day off today.

But, if you come away with any lesson here… don’t be like Meowy McMeowyson or my human. If you’re not making profit, don’t add to your debt buying things you don’t need. My human would’ve started making profit a hella lot sooner if she’d just stuck with buying what she needed and letting the shinies go. Well, most of them.

Bad human!

Thanks for reading, and the Furred & Finned Management hopes you’ve found something useful here.

No Kitten Around is now available for Preorder!

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

The last thing Reed Matthews needs in his life is a kitten, but when an orphaned tabby suckers him into becoming her caretaker, he’s in for the ride of his life. Add in an angel determined to meddle in his affairs, a devil with an agenda, and a bucketful of bad omens, and he’ll count himself fortunate if he survives the clash between heaven, hell, and his ex.

In this anything goes romp, there’s no kitten around: if Reed wants to survive and regain control of his life, his only hope lies in the hands of an elf and his ex, a woman he’s sworn to never see again.

No Kitten Around is now available for preorder at Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo. Barnes & Noble is coming soon! The novel will release on October 30, 2018.

The Furred & Finned Management wishes to inform all humans they will steal all profits from this title and use it to fund their plans to take over the world.

What Happens Next?

Dear humans,

I come as the bearer of interesting and fun news. My human has settled on a rough publication order for infinity and beyond. This is the definitive list of books my human will be working on–in the order she will be dedicating to each book.

This doesn’t mean books won’t release faster than on this list. She’s constantly working on play projects, which ultimately results in a book being finished early. As my human finishes a novel, it goes to her editor in preparation for publication.

Moving forward, my human will set up a 90 day preorder once a novel is being worked on by the editor. This will allow her to work at a pleasant pace, producing books without throwing herself onto sharp pointy bits of impalement. (We wouldn’t want that. There’d be no more books if she did that!)

So, here is the current list of books my human is working on and the order she’ll be dedicating to each one. This doesn’t mean the books will release in this order, as she does play projects and is actually writing multiple books at a time. This list DOES mean that when she’s working on the next in line, it gets the vast majority of her attention during the weekdays. Weekends are for play projects, and unless there is an impending preorder deadline, she won’t be rushing to finish anything as a general rule. My human works hard because that’s how she is, but she’s going to be taking a more leisurely approach in the future for the sake of her mental health.

Without further ado, here is the list.

  1. Last but not Leashed (print proof arriving soon for finalization of the novella.) (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  2. Huntress (in progress.) (Royal States, Susan Copperfield.)
  3. Owl be Yours (partially drafted.) (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  4. No Kitten Around (approximately half completed.) (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  5. Steel Heart (Jesse Alexander, RJ Blain)
  6. Wolf Hunt (Expect Dec 2018.) (Witch & Wolf 5, RJ Blain)
  7. Tides of War (Requiem for the Rift King, RJ Blain)
  8. Rider of the Sun Horse (80,000 written, so much left to go. So much left to go.) (From the world of Requiem for the Rift King, RJ Blain)
  9. Storm Called (30ish pages handwritten.) (Royal States, Susan Copperfield.)
  10. Saddle Up (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  11. Dragon Her Heels (to be ready for May 2019 preorder) (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  12. Grave Humor (May 2019 release.) (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  13. Cold Flame (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  14. Hidden Talents (Royal States, Susan Copperfield.)
  15. Pirate Magic (AL Easton)
  16. Wild Wolf (Witch & Wolf 6, RJ Blain)
  17. Hypnos (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  18. Achlys (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  19. Magic’s Rise (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  20. Chameleon and the Hound (Trillian Anderson)
  21. Summit (Trillian Anderson)
  22. World at War (Trillian Anderson)
  23. Feather’s Angel (Trillian Anderson)
  24. Broken Trusts (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  25. Final Stand (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  26. Lost at Sea (AL Easton)
  27. Sword Maiden (Lilith Daniels)
  28. Maiden’s Flight (Lilith Daniels)
  29. Magic Fading (Lilith Daniels)
  30. Burn, Baby, Burn (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  31. Sink or Swim (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  32. Lost and Found (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  33. Runaway (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  34. Amber (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  35. Flight of the Desert Rose (AL Easton)
  36. Requiem for the Rift King (Requiem for the Rift King, RJ Blain)
  37. Call of the Wind (From the world of Requiem for the Rift King, RJ Blain)
  38. Magic’s Flow (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  39. Pretty Little Thief (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  40. Drought (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  41. Order (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  42. Labyrinth (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  43. Fearless (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  44. Windswept (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  45. Justice (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  46. Shiva (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  47. Plaguebearer (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  48. Collapse (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  49. Strife (Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  50. Erosion (RJ Blain, Something dealing with something, it’s a sekrit)
  51. Dead City Revival (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  52. Rebel (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  53. Grave Danger (Royal States, Susan Copperfield)
  54. Scapegoat (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  55. The Edge of Midnight (Witch & Wolf 7, RJ Blain)
  56. License to Kill (Balancing the Scales, RJ Blain)
  57. Dual Nature (Nature of the Beast, RJ Blain)
  58. Karma Johnson Case Files 1/2 (Side stories, Balancing the Scales, RJ Blain)
  59. Memento Mori (Connected to Seeking the Zodiacs, RJ Blain)
  60. Jesse Alexander 3 (RJ Blain)
  61. Jesse Alexander 4 (RJ Blain)
  62. Jesse Alexander Short Story / Novella Anthology (RJ Blain)
  63. Dustin Novel (Witch & Wolf, RJ Blain)
  64. Serial Killer Princess 2 (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  65. Serial Killer Princess 3 (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)
  66. Last but not Leashed 2 (Mag Rom Com, RJ Blain)

This is an incomplete list. There are some projects my human is gleefully working on in some capacity but isn’t ready to announce and/or is being worked on strictly as a play project until it one day magically appears. She’s also forgetful, so some things may be missing.

Happy Reading, Humans.

 

An Afterword for Null & Void

This was added to Null & Void on February 27, 2018:

Dear reader,
 
Underaged marriage is a serious problem within the United States (and other parts of the world,) and Null and Void touches on this current practice. Yes, it’s a current practice in the United States.
 
When I wrote the book, my intention was to bring this practice to light, taking what is (questionably) the best-case scenario and using it to showcase the issue, which at its base level, is horrific.
 
In Texas, current laws allow estranged (IE, runaway) children to marry anyone they choose as long as they are 16 years of age or older. In Null and Void, I changed this law to 15 with parental consent, which is a current law in the following states: Hawaii, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Washington.*
 
Washington requires a superior court judge waiver.
 
Many other states allow 16 with parental consent. There are states with younger than 15. Tennessee has a history of marrying ten year old girls to adult men.
 
In the case of pregnancy, the following states have no limitations on the age a girl can be married: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Massachusetts.
 
Georgia, Maryland, and a handful of other states have rulings on pregnant girls being married at 14 or 15+ years of age (with or without parental consent.) The rules vary by state.
 
This arc was not a mistake. It was not a glorification of the issue, either.
 
It is a social commentary about how current laws can dramatically harm our society. The Royal States world is a post-dystopian society that embraced elements of extremism.
 
Before change can happen in the Royal States world, it must be faced.
 
In the Captive King, this issue is revisited, and some of the more astute readers will be able to identify the shift against child marriage in the society.
 
In A Guiding Light, this issue is faced in blunt clarity, beginning the end of the practice.
 
Including this arc was not a decision made lightly.
 
For more information on the problem of child marriage in the United States, American Child Bride is a book you may wish to check out of the library or order from your favorite bookstore. It touches on the history of this issue.
 
However, you can simply verify the truth on google or with your local government law offices. While I don’t typically recommend wikipedia, due to the easy nature of age verifications for marriage, it’s a good starting point for those interested in understanding the issues and current laws.
 
Thirty-six states permit minors to be married if they meet certain requirements. These requirements vary but may include pregnancy (consensual or otherwise,) parental consent, and common law circumstances.
 
Thank you for reading.
 
Disclaimer: Laws change on a yearly basis, so these rulings were valid at the time this afterword was written.

When you read fiction, what you’re reading isn’t real.

Dear humans,

It puzzles me I need to write this letter to you, but it seems that I must. My human is too busy rolling on the floor laughing to be able to write it herself. Seriously, human. Where did you misplace your dignity? Go find it, please.

That means stop laughing. Really.

Sigh. My human is such a strange being.

My human adores that you, kind readers, get so invested in her books. She writes to entertain. She writes to challenge. She writes to remind other humans of history. She writes to explore societies and the changes that would happen to them if something strange happened–like magic determining one’s value and worth.

What my human writes is not real.

What my human writes is not a reflection of who she is as a person.

My human is a completely separate entity from everything written on the page.  She will write things that are completely counter to her personal beliefs. Sometimes, she includes things that match her personal beliefs.

But the fact is this: she writes fiction. It’s not real.

When you read her books, when you read any book, please take a few moments to remind yourself that the book is not the author. The book is not necessarily representative of the author.

In my human’s case, she is exploring situations that cannot even exist in the real world.

She uses fact to create her fiction. Many of the offshoots she uses are based on current laws. This bothers people. This makes people believe that she has really weird beliefs.

Uh, no, humans. Sorry. That’s just not true.

She’s just using the structure of society, adding a splash of lime, and asking weird questions. “What would happen to this government system if it was completely overthrown following the introduction of magic?”

She started with Texas. Most of the changes she made to Texas were done using current Texas laws as loose guidelines. One change upsets people far more than the others: my human changed the laws in Texas to be 15 with parental permission for marriage. Texas is currently 16 if you’re estranged from your parent. (In short, if you run away from home at the age of 16, you may marry whomever you wish, no matter their age.)

Here’s what you humans will really hate: 25 states in the United States of America have no legal minimums for marriage. That means a ten year old child may be legally married to an adult in these states. Tennessee is an excellent example of a state that has recently done just this.

Please do not blame my human for the laws of the locations she writes about. They have no bearing on her personal beliefs. She’s just writing to the culture and the laws of that region and evaluating how she thinks the society might change under certain conditions.

This is not at all representative of her personal beliefs.

My human has one personal belief above all others: what she believes doesn’t belong in her fiction.

Sometimes things slip in, but she doesn’t write fiction to spread her moral beliefs. She writes fiction to entertain and explore what people might do when pushed into a corner. She writes every character to be a different person, someone who doesn’t share her personal experiences or beliefs.

My human is not her characters. Frankly, my human doesn’t want to be her characters.

Her characters live through hell, and hell isn’t a fun experience.

Hint: my human would write herself as that introverted person in a comfy chair with an unlimited supply of tea, coffee, and books, which she would read with her husband nearby.

Sincerely,

The Furred and Finned Management.

Enter for a chance to win one of five Amazon gift cards!

To celebrate the super awesome release of the Captive King by Susan Copperfield (AKA my human,) I’m giving away a handful of Amazon gift cards ($5 each) to my loyal fans and readers! Yippee! After you enter, there are also another handful of Amazon giveaways (of books) for your enjoyment, some written by my human’s friends. (You’ll need to follow her friends on Amazon for a chance to win their books.)

My human wuvs her friends. <3

In other news, please enjoy this picture of my majesty.

I love my shark, but I’m super nice and let my sister use it almost whenever she wants. I’m a nice kitty like that.

 

1 2 3 4