Picture: Some sort of Miner, taken at Uluru.
To open this show, I am still jet lagged, and I have had a week from absolute living hell. Look for sentences in bold text for important news. In good news, my test with the Royal States audiobooks has been going well. As a result, there are a bunch of audiobooks queued up for release on Audible.
Give it 1-3 months, because audible moves… much like turtle with one working leg. Sorry about that.
In bad news on the audiobook front, it is entirely possible that seven audiobooks will not be able to be released to audible due to technical difficulties. (My account at ACX is literally FUBAR, and while the ACX team has been trying to fix it, these seven titles may end up in limbo for a while. I’m doing my best to resolve it, but we’ll see. Right now, I am not confident of a resolution at this point in time.
The seven titles are all earlier books in the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series. All modern books will be queued into ACX at the same time it is queued into other vendors.
And no, I do not know when audiobooks will be releasing at this point in time. I have a massive list of audiobooks in queue for production, and they will release when they release.
Please be aware that while my books will be available on Audible (sans those seven possible outliers), it is much cheaper to buy them elsewhere. (And I’m paid more.) I’ve made them available on Audible for those who simply will not use other platforms.
No, I can’t make Audible go faster, sorry. They’re notorious about QA checks taking a very long time, and I have a lot of books in their queue. And any little mistake on my part resets the queue from the very beginning.
Assuming I receive my editorial file for Dead Weight from the editor today, Dead Weight should be releasing on time. I might not be sleeping any time between now and then, but I should at least have it releasing on time. Print and audiobook to come later.
This is where the pen name discussion comes into play.
Pen Names serve an important purpose. I’ve had a lot of questions about pen names lately, so I’m going to take a moment to answer some of them. I know there are those among you who are upset that I have not ‘made it easy’ by having everything under the same pen name.
That just won’t work. I would lose a lot of readers. And being honest, I probably would have retained more readership under the R.J. Blain name if I had kept type with type.
Let me demonstrate:
If you go through reviews of my series (particularly of lower starred reviews, but they are in higher starred reviews), you will find a sprinkling of commentary where “this isn’t like the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series” is the ‘star’ of the review. This illustrates the problem perfectly.
Readers like to type-cast authors.
To escape this, I have to create pen names.
Susan Copperfield is more about relationships and royalty and shenanigans than other series. The series is not really action-centric, and it’s not funny like others, although there is humor.
This world would not fit well under the R.J. Blain umbrella. But because it is more about the relationships, there are royalty, and the shenanigans are different… people hesitate to jump to trying Susan Copperfield.
They like R.J. Blain and they like what they like and why would they try this new thing? It isn’t the comfort read they are accustomed to.
I see this often within the R.J. Blain umbrella, too.
People don’t tend to jump worlds. Period. The core awesome badass fans who love everything do–and those people tend to go to Patreon so they don’t miss anything. (And I love you for this. You are your own demographic, and you live on Patreon, and you’re awesome.)
Side note: this is also why Patreon is treated separately from traditional retailer preorders. It is a different style of reader. These readers want to buy everything. The other readers are buying only what they want to read.
So, this lets me more accurately judge if a series is going to do okay and can be prioritized over others.
People often tell me “I haven’t tried this series because (reason here)” and at the end of the day, those reasons usually boil down to “It’s not what I’m used to or comfortable with and I don’t know if I can cope with something new.”
That’s okay. I get it. I do the same thing. I have a few authors I buy EVERYTHING they write, but I don’t read everything they write because I don’t know if I’ll be okay with something new.
I’m usually shooting myself in the foot, unless it is an RH series by an author who used to do MF. (I do not read RH, I don’t like it, I keep trying it, and I never like it. After fifty “I didn’t like this” reads from fifty different authors, I simply do not like RH, and I’m knocking it because I HAVE tried it. Like fifty times. And no, don’t recommend an RH book you think I will like. It is not to my taste. This does not mean it cannot be to your taste. I also dislike harem books. It is not to my taste. Yes, I have tried harem books.)
But, the easiest way to highlight why I pen name is simple.
I lot of you go “Ew, contemporary romance!” when discussing books.
Bernadette Franklin is what you would get if you took a Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count), plopped the characters into the ‘real’ world, and stripped out all of the magic.
The books were written to be contemporary romantic comedy romps, with a love of pets and shenanigans and deliberate shark jumping. It’s meant to leave readers mostly feeling good and happy about life when they’re done.
R.J. Blain fans hate Bernadette Franklin for the most part because of the knee-jerk “ew, contemporary romance!” thing.
It’s knocked before it’s tried because it is not what they are comfortable with. It lacks familiarity.
And thus the pen name.
R.J. Blain fans also dislike Susan Copperfield for the same reason, mostly… except it’s “ew, royalty” instead of “ew, contemporary romance.” Or that people have read the foreword and expect horrific child abuses throughout the book. (Spoiler alert: not the case.)
People create expectations for themselves and create “I’m not reading this” lists before giving things a try. It’s common, expected, and normal. And yes, I’m okay with this.
But that is why I pen name.
I’m not looking for people who go “Ew, royalty” or “ew, contemporary romance.” I’m looking for people for those pen names who want to read what I am writing.
If people who go “ew, contemporary romance” see a contemporary romance title under R.J. Blain… they will stop looking at R.J. Blain because expectations have been set.
So, let’s talk about the specifics of the active pen names. (Trillian Anderson was merged with R.J. Blain, and while the ‘writing as’ part is still intact, that’s only so those who know the name can find those specific books. She “doesn’t count” for the purposes of this exercise, because R.J. Blain is also on the cover.)
And no, I don’t like the look of “R.J. Blain writing as $Pen_Name” on the covers, which is why I will not be adopting this anywhere else. It also confuses the matter, and defeats the purpose of separation in the first place.
As I don’t want to be accused of trying to make money off this post, the only links I’m dropping are for the upcoming Lilith Daniels post. There is a menu at the top of the website that lists all my pen names and links to my stuff if you want to pursue any of the pen names.
The reality is… readers don’t like leaving their comfort zone, and more often than not, the first of my pen names they find is their comfort zone, and they are very hesitant to jump over to something new. This is fine.
Do you, boo. Do you.
The pen name doesn’t change the fact the books are written by the same person.
This pen name is a disaster, no lie. It’s an “Almost anything goes” clusterfuck of disorganization. I have numerous fan bases that go ew ew cooties, noooo at the various series within the pen name. Nothing goes as expected, and boy do people complain when I write something outside of the series they want.
For the most part, a lot of people Did Not Like Vigilante Magical Librarians. (We’ve been there, we’ve done that… yes, I know XD) The Witch & Wolf world stuff gets similar “eeewww” vibes, mostly from people who haven’t even tried the sample. (How dare me for writing something other than Mag Rom Coms.)
Which leads me to this… then we have the Mag Rom Com crowd who really wants everything else to be Mag Rom Coms. No, NONE of the other series are at all related to the Mag Rom Com series with the exception of the Dae Portals one, which is the birth series of the Royal States series AND the Mag Rom Com series. (It failed so hard at its initial release that I pillaged the elements for both of these series from that one. Then I decided to rework it a bit and try again.)
So, you will see similarities to that one and only that one.
Please stop asking me if the Vigilante Magical Librarians world is the same as the Mag Rom Com world, or if the Royal States world is the same as the Mag Rom Com world. NO. Unless you see the very specific cover branding and “something something COMEDY” (usually with a body count) on the cover, it is N-O-T related.
Stop trying to make it be related. It is NOT related.
The Otterly Magical series, the Client series, and the Mag Rom Com series are the ONLY related ones in this mess. (Otterly hasn’t been started yet because it’s designed to be a side story written AFTER the main series finishes, although the first book will start BEFORE the final book in the series. It’s complicated.)
As an aside… if everyone could quit leaving comments in reviews complaining that every other series is not “this is not a mag rom com, but…” I would be so hugely appreciative. Yes, they’re not mag rom coms. I’m not a one trick pony out to only write Mag Rom Coms. (Please, please, please let me enjoy writing other stuff. Complaining I didn’t write another Mag Rom Com (or your favorite series of the hour) is not going to get me to change my writing schedule.
I mean, nowadays, I don’t even read the reviews unless my PA shows me them, and she strips out any identifying information / only shows me the uplifting stuff.
Reviews really are for other readers, not for communicating with me. (But the happy notes of your appreciation often do get sent to me through my PA.)
The stuff you didn’t like? Well… you’ve told other readers and not me.
Because reviews aren’t for me, they’re for warning away other readers from the series or telling them why the series is worth giving a chance.
I use the collective ratings to determine how to prioritize series, if something won’t be expanded, etc. 4.2* and below is the death blow for a series. (See: Vigilante Magical Librarians.) While it has since been lifted up to 4.3*ish, it was at 4.2* long enough the damage was done and sales were tanked. I couldn’t get the investments back on advertising the series, and so the world dies at the conclusion of book 5. (Sorry, I will not be writing off a spin off series for a world / series that isn’t able to earn its keep. I will be writing the final three books at a probable loss.)
I understand a lot of you aren’t comfortable with leaving reviews, but if you want your “vote” counted, leave a rating at the various vendors. (I do check ALL the vendors for ratings when I’m determining if something is viable. Amazon just tends to have the highest number so has the most sway.)
Contemporary romantic comedy. Written for my fun and enjoyment. These don’t make me jack shit, because I rarely invest in advertising, I don’t write sex on the page, and my humor is twisted and doesn’t fall in line with what romantic comedy readers want.
It is what it is what it is, and that’s fine.
Royal Paranormal Romance themed world series with two primary series threads: the royalty, and the RPS agents. The first of the Agents books is a Royal and an Agent, and that’s fine.
This does not fit the branding for R.J. Blain in the slightest, but it has my trademark voice.style… just not a similar presentation.
Fluffy Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Science Fantasy. This is meant to, while having some challenging subject matter, be the equivalent of a book hug with a cuppa hot cocoa on a cold day near a fireplace.
Definitely not the same jam as R.J. Blain, and very few R.J. Blain hardliners are going to appreciate this.
There are a lot of shapeshifters, quirky characters, and so on, but the purpose of the books is to cultivate warm, fluffy feelings.
The science fiction on the R.J. Blain pen name is much more “R.J. Blain” style compared to Audrey Greene.
No, these worlds are NOT connected. Audrey Greene has space travel in the background, but the characters are typically planet bound, where in the R.J. Blain books, space travel is the norm and it’s more Space Opera than fluff.
I really like paranormal cop and robbers types of stories (which is why you see so many cops in the Mag Rom Com world.) This pen name focuses that interest with a series dedicated to cops solving long-term and short term mysteries. The first book in the series sets up the long-term criminal arc and mystery. No, the mystery is not solved in the first book. It will be a minimum of five to six books for the first long-term arc to be finished.
As the critters are different, the style is different enough, and the series will hopefully be long enough to justify it, it got a new pen name. Could I have crammed it under the R.J. Blain umbrella? Eh, maybe.
But I didn’t want to. I want to be able to freely spin off new locations and cities and their cops if I want. So, if Precinct #153 doesn’t work out… there are other cities in this world that might.
But I love Cauldron City, and I hope it does well, because I have far more ideas than planned books in the series.
Some of you have noticed that the “vibe” of the covers is very similar to the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series. I wanted it that way. I want it to evoke “Hey, that’s somewhat recognizable…”
G.P. Robbins is gleefully me, and I WANT people who like the Magical Romantic Comedy series to check it out and see if they like it. Ideally, they do, because it means I can mix them in at a higher frequency and still feed the mouths who enjoy that type of book.
But yes, it IS really better off as a pen name. I can do more with it as a pen name–a lot more. Like spinoff series, side novels, etc.
I simply cannot cohesively do that as an R.J. Blain series.
R.J. Blain is the pen name where fledgling non-Mag Rom Com series go to die.
(And however much I wish that wasn’t the case… it really is.)
People are far more likely to try a new pen name than to go off from their chosen series within an author’s brand. I wish this were not so, but it REALLY is.
And no, I know some of you will buy anything I write. You are a beloved exception. (And exceptional!) But you are the exception rather than the rule.
This is a passion project of mine. I have only two covers for this series, and at current preorder counts, I really can’t justify more than two. (Once again, Patreon users are accounted for when I plan / evaluate upcoming books.)
Something about the cover or description simply doesn’t appeal to people, and that’s fine. This is not a series I will be redoing on either, and it can ride off in the sunset before book one is even finished, and I will continue writing them strictly because I want to.
Why doesn’t this series fit with the R.J. Blain umbrella, where book series tend to die if it’s not the mag rom com world, you ask? Simple. I want the freedom to be able to do spinoffs, standalones, other series, etc… without bogging down an already bogged pen name. This pen name will succeed (or fail) as it does, and that’s that.
This is a fun and special place filled with dragons, necromancers, and other delightful things, with the shenanigans of the Mag Rom Com world but also with a darkness I don’t normally allow myself. Like my other books, Happily For Now and Happily Ever After reign supreme, but I am allowing myself to do those dark and necessary things in a guilt free fashion.
But, here’s a sample from chapter one in case you missed it the other times I’ve posted about this book. (This is unedited drivel. You have been warned. Please do not report any typos and foopahs; I am still drafting this book, and everything is subject to change.)
Grave Affairs: Chapter One
- Friday, April 17, 2167
- The Gray Ward
- Dragon Heights, Wyoming
It took a rain of lemurs to finally convince me that moving to Dragon Heights, Wyoming had been a mistake. Last week, it had been toads, some of which could inconvenience those who didn’t take them seriously. I hadn’t minded the toads.
A pair of gloves and a little care had bagged me ten dollars per dead head, fifteen dollars per living croaker, and twenty for the endangered ones, living or dead. The head honchos preferred them alive, but the dead ones would make themselves useful in a lab for study.
I’d gotten fifty for one of my toads, a rather nasty little shit determined to eat the world. At six inches long, it hadn’t accomplished all that much, but it had tried to take my hand off at the wrist.
It had taken a rather amused titanium dragon to pry the blighter off, and I’d been observed for two hours to make certain I wouldn’t fall over dead on them.
My gloves, which went up to my elbows, had saved the day.
Gloves wouldn’t save me from the wretchedly adorable lemurs. Without fail, they’d dig their tiny claws into my soul and refuse to let go. Their oversized, imploring eyes would do me in.
Endangered species, like the lemurs, all went to the dragons for care, enrollment into their various conservatories and menageries, or were released back into the wild, depending on their origin. With the ongoing weekly trials to unlock draconic powers in the petitioners, it could go any which way.
Some lemurs might be real, translocated as a result of the power surge associated with draconic petitioners working their rituals. Some of the lemurs would be conjured, with the majority of them dissolving away to ash, goo, or smoke. The final few would be true creations, a new species brought to life through the determination of a petitioner wishing to rise through the ranks of the dragon-kin.
When a dragon-kin came calling as a petitioner, the dragons took care. Sometimes, they bit off more than they could chew.
For a rain of lemurs to fall on the Gray Ward, the dragons had either forgotten to contain the dragon-kin’s power or they’d gotten an unpleasant surprise. Or both.
For the most part, the dragons did try to avoid the unwanted surprises.
It cost them a fortune in weekly bounties.
Resigned to paying the remainder of my rent through bounty collection, I rummaged through my backpack for the canvas bag I kept just in case opportunity knocked. At the size of a large garbage bag, I’d be able to bag a bunch of the obviously dead lemurs for a decent check. I’d have to handle one injured animal at a time, a task destined to take up the rest of the day.
As I liked getting paid, I always made certain to keep Fridays free.
Just in case.
I put on my gloves and went to work, wondering what other insanity the rulers of Dragon Heights would inflict upon us in their quest to wake more of their kind.
Grave Affairs has dragons and other magic types, but dragons are the primary shapeshifter species. As I don’t write a lot of dragons, that alone justified the pen name–my R.J. Blain readers are not “hard core we want dragons” users and they’re also NOT “hard core wooo necromancy” types of readers.
In short, I need to build a new audience for this. And no, there are no dragons on the cover for a reason. Her plot arc deals a lot with the issue of necromancy, and that’s the theme I’m pursuing for many reasons.
But thar be dragons here in plenty. And a feline companion.
If you are on Patreon… you are why this series exists. I polled you all with choices of covers, and you all voted on this one. So your vote has been heard, I promise. This is for mainstream purposes, which is much different from the Patreon audience. (You’re appreciated, and you’re counted.)
When I watch vendor performance, it’s how the rest of the world views a book. (And it’s okay that Grave Affairs isn’t gaining traction. It’s disappointing, but I’ll do at least two books. If it fails at that point, it fails. Failure happens in this business, and it’s okay for failure to happen.)
I’ll enjoy writing the books, and if it doesn’t pick up sufficient steam to keep on doing, I may write something every five or more years just for the joy of it.
That’s life. Don’t sweat over it. I’m not.