Category Archives for News from the Sneaky Kitty Critic

When Promotions Go Wrong: an Apology from the Sneaky Kitty Critic

Dear humans,

My human is sorry. Something happened that shouldn’t have happened under any circumstances. My human considers herself very ethical. When she joins a promotion to meet new readers, she vets the groups she’s in to make sure the prizes are delivered as promised. Even when she screws up and a prize costs her more than she anticipated, she keeps her word.

A promotion she joined has gone wrong in the worst way. While the prize was awarded, it was done so in a way that cheated readers.

My human is not okay with this.

When my human joins a promotion and shares the prize with you, her fans and readers, she is putting trust in the coordinators to deliver the prize as promised. All of her other promotions have gone through without an issue. This time, this is not the case.

My human feels her readers and fans–you–have been cheated, and while she could sweep this under the rug and no one would be the wiser for it, that doesn’t settle well with her.

Here’s what happened.

In December, my human joined a group promotion. It was for a $350 gift card. A lot of people need money this time of year, so she thought this was a great idea. It cost her $6. The only way to enter was to subscribe to author newsletters. This is fairly common. The promotion group was recommended to her by a friend, and my human vetted with her friend (and did some other checks) that the group had, in recent past, done ethical promotions.

The giveaway was supposed to run from January 1, 2018 to January 15, 2018. The promotion material we had claimed this, and when we checked the raffle software used, it reflected this date.

Today, the organizer awarded the prize to a winner prior to notifying the participants the promotion was being closed early. It was a mistake, but it’s a mistake that the organizer is not correcting. In fact, instead of coming out and making good on this mistake, the organizer attempted to hide what went wrong from the participants and entrants.

The form to collect email addresses is still open, and people are entering this contest without knowing they have been robbed of their chance to win the prize.

This is unacceptable.

My human made a promise to her readers and fans that they would be given a fair chance to win the gift card.

This was not what happened. My human didn’t organize the prize, but at the end of the day, she is still responsible for what has happened. She paid her $6, she promoted the giveaway to her readers and fans, and she had faith that it would be run fairly.

It wasn’t.

There is no excuse for this.

My human doesn’t even trust that the winner received her prize. She really hopes that’s the case, because otherwise, this turns a bad situation into an even worse one. My human has spoke to other humans about this situation, and it’s the first time this particular promoter has melted down.

It could be a one-off. Mistakes happen. But my human is unable to accept how the mistake is being handled. This isn’t fair to every reader who participated in the giveaway hoping to win the gift card.

My human can’t afford a $350 gift card as a make good, but she is going to offer a $100 gift card to make up for the one that was mismanaged. Edit Note: Thanks to the contribution of other humans, this gift card is now valued at $140. This is all she can do at current. In my next missive, I will explain the situation again. This is the only thing she can do to make this up to her fans and readers, who have put their faith in her to run and promote fair giveaways through reliable, trustworthy authors and vendors.

No one likes a cheater.

No one wants to be scammed.

My human feels she was scammed. My human feels her readers and fans were scammed. There is nothing she can do to fix this, but she hopes this gift card will help–and possibly help her reach new readers and fans who believe that the publishing community should be a fair, ethical place.

My human loves helping authors, and my human tries to see the best in people. But sometimes, things go wrong, mistakes are made, and steps need to be taken to rectify the situation. My human is not comfortable with sharing the name of the organizer or the promotional group this happened with. It goes against her nature. However, there are 59 authors who contributed to this unethical horror show, most of whom are just like my human–distressed, regretful, and angry this has happened.

No one in this group wanted anything more than to do a fun giveaway with a large prize to make someone’s New Year a little better.

My human wants to believe this was just an unfortunate mistake, but the way this was handled is not fair to our readers. It’s really not. Every entrant should have had a fair and equal chance to enter the giveaway. I have no idea what will happen to the subscribers who entered after the prize was given away. My human was given a list of subscribers early, and she confirmed the form was still taking entrants after the prize was awarded.

This isn’t fair. This isn’t right.

And while uncomfortable, there comes a point where names have to be named. Readers cheated need to know they were cheated, so in the future, they can know they might be gamed by a system that shouldn’t be gamed. Giveaways should be fair. Many organizers go as far as to scrub the lists to remove cheaters. (Yes, it’s possible to tell. Yes, authors and organizers keep lists of cheaters when confirmed, and yes, we remove them to keep things fair for real people who want to enter our giveaways.)

My human believes in transparency.

The $350 gift card giveaway was run under the Prisca’s Promo umbrella. I will not name the organizer’s name, as my human is not comfortable with that, but Prisca’s Promos is the group responsible for this unfortunate mistake that cheated readers out of a fair chance at a good prize–a prize the authors were eager to give in the New Year. So, it is with a heavy heart I say authors and readers, beware.

Cover reveal for the Captive King (and a message from my human.)

It’s here! After some bumps and bruises, the Captive King has a cover! Daqri from Covers by Combs did the art, and my human is super happy with it.

This story touches on so many things she likes about fiction. She’s been able to play in a sandbox, blending fact and fiction to make an alternative history, one filled with magic, curses, and the brutality of the ancient world.

She also got to learn a bunch of new things about modern and ancient cultures, and she’s tried really hard to mix and match reality with her desire for the story.

And no, this is not a King Midas story. You will find a lot of references to the Nahua, Mayan, and Ch’olti’, however.

Note: Ch’olti is technically a dialect of Mayan; in the Captive King, Mayan refers to as the predominant branch of Mayan. Ch’olti is an extinct version of Mayan, where the Mayan referenced is still spoken today. This is a fun fact that isn’t delved into the book at length, so I’m happy to tell you this! My human is so fascinated with the Nahau, the Mayan, and the various other lost Mesoamerican cultures. Some of you might be giving me the stinkeye for using Mesoamerican instead of Meso-American or MesoAmerican, but my human went with Mesoamerican because that’s what her favorite encyclopedia (hint: not wikipedia) uses.

Too much fun facting? Okay. We’re done with the fun facting.

Let’s move on to the other part of this post, the one where I discuss some of my human’s plans for the future.

She has been challenged to set some goals–and step outside of her comfort zone and ask for direct support from other humans.

Predictably, while my human was able to do this in a small scale, it falls to me to do the public asking, as she’s a furless chicken. I’m waiting for her to start squawking. I mean, really, human. What’s the worst that can happen?

Other humans can say no and perhaps mock you a bit?

… and that describes my human’s worst nightmare in a single question. But, I stray.

My human had several issues trying to step outside of her comfort zone for this challenge. First, she didn’t have a goal she could ask direct support from other humans for. She was going to try for a bestseller list run for Huntress, but I’m being realistic here: it’s not happening.

It’s not that my human is afraid of work. It’s not that. It’s not that my human is afraid of failure. She expects that. I think it’s more that my human has made as many plans as possible around not bothering people.

Bothering people requires a certain amount of extroverting behaviors on her part, and she is so not good at this.

My human has decided that her goal for this year is to have one of her titles reach 100 full-priced sales on release day without help of a preorder. For purpose of this, it is the day I send a missive for my human announcing a novel’s release!

On February 12, the Captive King releases. It goes to the editor very soon, much to my human’s dismay, as she still has a lot of work left to do on the book. The holidays screwed up her schedule. She’s also sick, which isn’t helping anything. Poor human.

Can my human find 100 other humans who are willing to gamble on her writing skills and all buy the book on February 12? It would make my human’s heart happy–and meet the requirement for her to step outside of her comfort zone on this challenge.

It would probably help if my human wrote a description for the Captive King.

We’ll just call it a novel surprise, and I’ll leave you with this small snippet of the book for your enjoyment…

“The last time a woman attended an auction looking like she’d just come in from the fields, she charmed herself a king,” a man murmured behind me.

The last thing I needed was to be compared to the talk of the entire auction, the future wife of Montana’s king. I scowled, clutching the polished wooden box containing the jade necklace to my chest. “I was at a temple, not a field.”

A field would’ve been a lot nicer; in some ways, I appreciated the respite from the smothering jungle humidity and the incessant attention of loving mosquitos.

“A temple? Were they having a mud-wrestling competition?”

I bit the bullet and turned to face him. Like every other man present at the auction, he wore a suit, although his was navy rather than the standard black. Unlike everyone else, he wore a plain black mask, just enough to cover his face so he couldn’t be readily identified. I found his lack of feathers, gemstones, and trappings reassuring.

He was either like me, a goose stuck among swans, or he was an elite with no fucks left to give about what anyone thought of him. Either way, it worked in my favor.

He was just different enough I might be able to get an intelligible conversation out of him.

Then I noticed his pin, which declared him as Bachelor #103, placing him firmly in the category of the type of man my boss wanted me to sell the precious jade necklace to.

Ugh.

My human has plans! A State of the Blain Address.

This may come as a shock to you, but my human sometimes plans things out. With 2018 right around the corner, it’s time for my human to announce some of her goals. Some of the dates may change, although she will be working hard to keep on schedule. I’m even planning on getting her a cute little tea kettle (electric) for her workspace so she doesn’t have to leave her chair to do her work and keep hydrated. Aren’t I considerate?

I’m considering this one for her, in case you were curious. I bet you were! Since other humans seem so curious about what my human does and likes, I built this tea list for your browsing enjoyment.

Next time I write on my fancy website my human bought for me, I’ll show you the cool writing tools she uses! It drives the male human insane, which is half the fun.

First up, February 12, 2018, she will be releasing The Captive King (A Royal States novel.) We don’t have a cover for the book yet, but she’s finishing the main draft of the story either today or tomorrow. It goes to the editor in January, which gives her plenty of time to do the whole editing thing she so enjoys.

When she isn’t being rushed, she really enjoys editing. Don’t tell anyone I told you that, though.

After The Captive King, she’ll be working on A Guiding Light, another novel set in the Royal States world. While there are some reoccurring characters in both The Captive King and A Guiding Light, they both focus on new kingdoms and new couples. After my human is finished A Guiding Light, she’ll be working on Huntress, the turkey shifter story.

What? My human might have made a new world, but her colors haven’t changed all that much. Really.

While she’s working on these primary projects, there are a few other projects she’s working on. One is a spin-off of Null & Void, dealing with one of the sisters of a certain haughty princess nobody likes. It’s called Cold Flame, and my human has no idea when it’ll be done. It’s currently a play project. She’s also working on a trilogy of stories dealing with the fall of the United States and the rise of the royals. Like with Null & Void, Montana plays a large role in the trilogy. The trilogy has no name–nor will my human name it. They’ll be marked as Royal States novels, but it’ll be made clear the stories are a set in the description.

On the Witch & Wolf front, it’s quiet; my human has booked an editorial slot for Wolf Hunt for in August, and she’s been working on Dustin-centric stories. She’s also reworking elements of Balancing the Scales (Karma and Jake’s story) so she can get to work writing that. License to Kill will conclude their story. Originally, she was going to do three books, but as she’s on a tighter budget and doesn’t want to buy another cover for the set, she’s going to work them into one longer novel.

The same applies to Sean and Andrea’s story (Nature of the Beast.)

My human is hoping to work on No Kitten Around (A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count)) for the end of 2018 along with the solo releases of Serial Killer Princess and Whatever for Hire.

Beyond that, my human is going to write what she enjoys–and try not to kill herself adding to much to her plate.

2019 will mostly be dedicated to the Witch & Wolf world, writing as many of the stories to conclude the series as possible.

She’s also going to try to fit in Steel Heart, the next Jesse Alexander novel. (We’re thinking right after Huntress.)

While my human has a tentative schedule, it is up for change, and to keep her stress levels limited, she won’t be doing preorders. Huntress is the only novel in 2018 that will have a $0.99 release point, keeping a promise she originally made to people. Due to pronoun’s closure, she won’t be doing a bestseller run. It’s too much stress, and honestly, not enough of a reward for trying.

There comes a point where ego must fall to the wayside for keeping the career moving forward. $0.99 releases are loss leads for authors hoping for listing–or good rankings.

My human wants to keep writing, so this just isn’t a realistic choice for her at this point.

And for the final tid-bit for 2018… when Huntress releases, she’ll also be releasing a coloring book for your enjoyment as a thank you for putting up with her shenanigans.

Next week, I’ll begin featuring covers of my human’s upcoming works, sneak peeks at the stories she’s started, and other goodies!

Thanks for reading.

P.S.: For those of you who like print-edition things, Null & Void is now available for your dead-tree collection enjoyment.

Yep, my human is still cursed.

The 15th’s gremlins have struck again. This was after reconfiguring the server, giving the system more memory and goodies to help it out, and crippling the send rate to lower the server load.

Did it help?

Nope, not one bit.

Even better, my human can’t figure out how to restart the damned server application that’s responsible for nothing working.

She’s pretty unhappy over this issue, in case you weren’t aware.

So, once gain, we’re working on fixing it.

Maybe this time we can figure out how to make it not suck so much, but it may just involve manually sending mailers to smaller groups of people to make sure the server doesn’t go tits up–or find out what’s going on.

We emailed support. We’ll see what happens.

My human is feeling very discouraged right now, because this should not be happening. Same place as last time, too.

So very frustrating. So very frustrating.

:insert incoherent screams here.:

My human is cursed.

My human has no luck.

Today, her primary computer stopped working. She is very sad, and thanks to holiday timing, it may take some time to be fixed. Fortunately, the machine has a good warranty, so it’ll be repaired without charge. It’s just a matter of taking it into the store.

The male human is going to take care of it, and in the meantime, she will be working on her precious little laptop.

I’m kinda thinking the laptop did it in a fit of jealousy.

In good news, my human had literally backed up everything mere hours before the fatal fall of her imac.

My human is taking this as a hint she should be handwriting everything until the holidays are over.

In other good news, my human’s curse doesn’t extend to my ability to do things like send you amazing missives. The next one will still be on schedule. Even better, I’ll be posting my letters for your enjoyment on my website! (So if you don’t subscribe, you can still check them out!)

Of course, some things won’t be posted to my website. I have to reward my loyal servants somehow!

I am hoping that this is her paying in advance for good luck.

She could use some of that, poor human.

I broke my human’s website! Bwahahahaaaaa!

My human thought she could appease me with her offering of my very own website.

She was wrong.

Well, not really. My human is just a little bit cursed, and when she switched hosting to a virtual server so I could have my very own website palace, her website was unfortunately hosed. By hosed, I mean, someone got a fire hydrant, pointed it at her domain, and let rip.

It’s gone and screwed the pooch and got rabies for its troubles.

So, I’m not all that sad to announce that my human’s domain, RJBlain.com, now redirects to my website. I was generous and put the redirect to point at her novels. Gotta let her earn the moolah to feed me! (Seriously. If you enjoy my letters and reviews, toss a few pennies in my human’s jar. Buy some of those books she slaves on. I’ve been promised that I receive a percentage of all sales in the form of food and delicious treats.)

My human has lost quite a bit of content from her old site, although she was able to salvage the contestant list for her set of Hearth, Home, and Havoc novellas. She will be picking prizes for those people this week and contacting the winners. She’s very sorry.

(If she had gotten me my own website from the start, there wouldn’t have been any problems in the first place. I’m certain of this!)

In the meantime, here is what you can expect.

First, my human will be rewriting some of her more popular articles, including an updated version of how to hold a pen or pencil without inflicting pain and suffering on yourself. We find this is important.

Second, my human will be creating several pages dedicated to the writing process, how she creates a story bible, and methods of outlining novels. These were really popular on her old domain.

Third, I won’t let her procrastinate much. Promise. I’m going to give her today off to write on the Captive King (Susan Copperfield, second Royal States novel) so she doesn’t cry much over her bad luck.

I get hissy when my human cries (from frustration) over tech that simply refuses to work.

Until next time, folks!

Please excuse the clutter

Greetings, humans. I am Tia the Majesty, the feline supervisor of Pen & Page Publishing, the ‘publisher’ of my human, who has a serious case of split personality syndrome. She writes as RJ Blain, Susan Copperfield, and Trillian Anderson.

Since I scoff at the idea a mere human can order me around… this is my site, and I’ll do what I want, thank you very much.

Here, you’ll find news about my human and her books. You’ll also find reviews I’ve written discussing the virtues… and failures… of books my human has read to me.

You’ll also hear some news from my sister, Princess the Understudy, and the new Finned Financial Manager, Landen the Fish.

Watch out for that fish. He’s an asshole.

Over the next few weeks, I will be making this site not suck (quite as much.) It’ll still suck. I’m a cat, not a designer.

Maybe one day, I will be able to convince my human to hire a proper designer to give me the perfect site I deserve.

I won’t hold my breath, though. I like living.