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Burn, Baby, Burn is available for preorder!

Bailey and Quinn are back!

Bailey Ember Gardener Quinn should’ve read the manual on caring for an incubus before marrying hers. The marriage license hadn’t mentioned anything about their sexy, insatiable ways. If she doesn’t get a single night of undisturbed rest soon, she’ll snap—or go on a napalm bender.

Either would work.

Recruiting Tiffany “Perkette” Perkins to be her partner-in-crime isn’t the best idea, but nothing says fun quite like a road trip, and Perkette the Misdemeanor Collecting Queen could teach the devil a thing or two about having a good time.

Add in a string of rabies cases, more puppies than she can count (or readily adopt,) a job promotion, and her very own incubus in disguise on the hunt for her, and Bailey’s in for one hell of a ride.

Warning: this novel contains excessive humor, a unicorn on a napalm bender, Quinn on the hunt, and more shenanigans than you can shake a stick at. Proceed with caution.

Preorder now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple!

Dear humans,

You asked what you could do to get the Mag Rom Coms to be more frequent than the once-per-year currently scheduled after multiple books of lowered interest in the series.

Instead of Grave Humor, the novel the human was initially was going to release in May, she’s doing Bailey’s second novel–and it includes Quinn’s POV as well.

There are shenanigans afoot. So. How do you help make sure there’s a Mag Rom Com every May and December? It’s simple. Click on your vendor of choice and preorder. (Or order in the first few weeks of the book going on sale.)

Should the book hit USA Today, the human will revamp the release schedule for the series and consider that a sign from all things feline that the series should get a little extra attention.

We won’t lie to you, humans. It would take the equivalent of a miracle. While the human has been on the list twice, it was a part of a major group effort–and the one time she hit for like twelve whole hours before they reissued the list, the book had been on sale for $0.99.

Burn, Baby, Burn is $5.99. (It’s a longer book because Quinn has his POV, and it’s a great deal more work because of that.)

It takes approximately 5,000 sales on Amazon to hit the list plus enough sales on one other wide vendor for them to report. (Nobody really knows what those numbers are, but the human figures 250 at Barnes & Noble should suffice. People like to state 500, but there’s no proof of that. The female had 300 at Barnes & Noble the one time she squeaked onto it only to fall off in the reissued list.)

It’s not easy.

To help the effort along, the female will be running ads until May and keeping Playing with Fire at $0.99 to help make sure the book gets into as many hands as possible.

If the book doesn’t hit, it’s business as usual. If it does, Grave Humor will come out in December, and the female will shuffle her schedule somewhat to make it happen. There may or may not be a novella tossed in. (View the novellas as bonuses.)

How can you help?

  • Preorder the book at either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple. Lure them into loving Bailey and Quinn using the $0.99 copy of Playing with Fire, too!
  • When the giveaway post goes live on facebook, join in the fun for a collection of books and share the post with your friends. (The giveaway will be for one of the fancy cards featuring Bailey and a reader package including one of the Fantasy Worlds of RJ Blain mugs and the thermos/journal set. Possibly some books, too, if they fit in the box.)
  • Share the book with people early and often. (Be ambitious. Find 10 people who’d like unicorns and shenanigans. 10 people is a lot of people, but you can do it, humans!)
  • Get people hooked on Playing with Fire so they join in on the shenanigans, too!

This isn’t going to be easy, humans. The human female knows this. The closest she ever got on a full-release novel hitting anything was shy 1,500 copies, and she didn’t come anywhere near close to the 250 required at one of the non-Amazon vendors.

But, you asked what it would take, and the female has answered. This is something fair and quantifiable. (Hey, in other news, technically, there’s a chance for it to hit at as few as 3,000 sales on Amazon, but it’s not very likely. It depends on how many books sold that week, and that’s variable!)

And now, we’re off to set up the giveaway on the book of faces!

Meet Fippy.

Fippy Darkpaw (of the Everquests) will be accompanying the male and female human to England for photo opportunities and general human observations.

Please give Fippy your condolences.

It’s going to be a long trip for him. He’s obviously not too pleased to have been selected for this ‘opportunity’ to ‘see the world’ in the company of two humans.

Stay tuned for more information of Fippy Darkpaw (of the Everquests) adventures in England, where he will attempt to lay siege to castles, which shall ultimately lead to failure.

(But don’t feel too bad for him. Fippy is used to this sort of failure.)

How a Book Comes to Life (from the perspective of a cat.)

Dear humans,

There have been questions about what is involved with writing a book, and I, your resident Beguiling Tyrant, am here to help you through this journey! Well, as an observer. Or something. Really, we’re just here to make fun of the female as she works and I do whatever I want, which is make fun of her. Or help.

Yes, yes. I’m helping.

In reality, the female wandered away from the glowy rectangle box to give her brain a rest from working, and she told me I could do whatever I wanted.

Foolish human.

She should know better by now.

I’m going to do what I do best and expose all of her dirty secrets. Bwhaahahahaa!

Books are complicated beasts. Everyone writes one differently. The female can’t even maintain consistency when working on a book, either. I wish I was kidding about that. I’m not. She’d probably make life easier on herself if she did things consistently. Apparently, that’s not how books work for her.

Each one is different.

What isn’t different is some core parts of the writing process. At the top of the list is time investment. Books take time to write. If she’s having a super easy, fantastic time, she can write a 55,000 word book in ten days. That’s working approximately eight hours a day.

This is basically if everything is perfect. So, ten days times eight hours a day is eighty hours.

That’s 687 words an hour.

Honestly, to write Claustrophobic (the 55,000 word book under discussion here,) she worked ten to twelve hours a day for ten days. So, that’s about 100 to 120 hours. We’ll call it 110 hours to be in the middle.

What? Did you think she just sat around eating gummy bears all day? I mean, she totally does, but she works her butt off as a general rule.

That’s 500 words an hour, approximately. That’s about right. She likes hitting 1,000 words an hour when she’s ‘in the zone.’ (AKA she can work without interruption, doesn’t have a headache, etc.) She can write up to 2,000 words in an hour, but that doesn’t happen often. 500 words in an hour is pretty average for her. Or 5 hours of 1,000 words an hour sandwiched between research and other tasks necessary to write the book. Whatever. I hope you get it because the female is muttering about how the words are never consistent.

She doesn’t write fast often, but when she does, she can really rack up the word counts. What realistically happens is that she’s writing slowly over a lot of hours.

Here’s the thing with the estimated word counts an hour. Sometimes, the female will work for 4 hours typing a storm, sometimes averaging 1,500 words an hour. She’ll then spend 6 hours trying to figure out how to make what’s going on tick, editing what’s already written, and researching. That time counts, because it is a critical part of her process.

But for the sake of determining how long it takes her to finish a draft of a book to get it to an editor, 500 words an hour is reasonable.

But only if she is typing straight to the computer.

Yeah. That puts a kink in things, because she also handwrites. In bad news, handwriting doesn’t make the 500 words an hour change much. It just adds another draft of a book–unless she got it perfectly right in the handwritten draft. (Doesn’t happen. Ever.)

It takes 1 hour per page to handwrite a book.

Burn, Baby, Burn is up to 44 hours of work on it and she hasn’t even started typing yet. She’s expecting to handwrite 80-120 pages of the story before she begins typing. In good news, she can write longer hours without being as strained following what she’s already handwritten–for the most part. But she still is doing extensive editing work while writing.

So, let’s cut Burn, Baby, Burn to 100 handwritten pages and 125,000 words. That’s a guess. Book could end up being 90,000. It could end up being 150,000. We’re assuming it’ll be longer because it’s really two stories being woven together into one as it features Quinn and Bailey as POV characters.

So, that’s 100 hours of handwriting and 250 hours of typing work, approximately, to bring Burn, Baby, Burn to the editor. Then it’ll take another 10-20 or so hours after she gets it back from the editor to be happy with it. It depends on how many times she re-reads the book on route to publication. It’s 5 hours per read, roughly, for a book of that length. The first read will probably take 7 hours as she reads slower trying to catch as much as possible on the first pass.

We’ll say 15 hours because like the number in the middle.

That’s ultimately 365 hours of work on a single book that she’ll sell to readers for $5.99. (We’re… actually expecting more hours than this, truth be told. Burn, Baby, Burn has been very complicated to write, and some pages have taken her 2 hours, but there have been some that took her 45 minutes, and she’s the kind to try to play down just how much work she puts into something.

Hypnos is in a similar position, but it’s required tens upon tens of hours of research before she could even begin writing it. Those hours hurt, but they were mandatory.

There’s a lot more than goes into a book than just sitting there and typing at the computer.

Then there’s the outlining process if she’s outlining. For Hypnos / Seeking the Zodiacs, the female spent an entire week between books hashing out what she wanted to accomplish in the series. That’s approximately 40 hours of just sitting down and writing ideas without really researching them to see if they were feasible ideas.

We’re not even sure how long Hypnos will be, but the female had already invested some 100+ hours into the book, and that was before she started handwriting anything.

When the female calculates how much a book costs, she doesn’t usually account for the number of hours she invests in writing it. (If she gave herself minimum wage, which is $15.00, she’d be $5,475 in the hole for Burn, Baby, Burn on its release day just from labor alone. She just covers the cost of cover art, editorial, copyright and ISBN registration, advertising, and so on for the cost of a book.)

Now that’s all out of the way, here’s the basics of how the female works. Please feel free to include squiggle lines to randomly connect these pieces, as everything up until “Sends to her editor” can happen at different times, simultaneously, etc.

Conceptualization: This is coming up with the idea.

Outlining: If done, this is refining the idea. Not always done. Maybe only done at the end of the book. Sometimes done only in the middle of the book if there’s a spot the female is stuck on. Uhm, yeah. Silly female.

  • Handwriting: If done.
  • Typing: Definitely done.
  • Research: Almost always definitely done. Usually in exhaustive quantity.
  • Editing while typing: Always done.
  • Sends to Editor: Definitely always done.
  • Sends to Proofreader(s): Doooone~
  • Proofreads herself: Doooonnne~
  • Formats: Definitely always done. It’s how she makes it pretty for sale.
  • Uploads for Sale: Yeeeeah.
  • Cover Art: Definitely always done. Whee, moneeey~ but art in exchange for money~~~~
  • Publication: Wooo!
  • Marketing: Fuck.

That’s the ‘simple’ version of it, humans.

I must now give the glowy rectangle box back to the human so she can get back to ‘work’ doing that whole writing thing.

Wish her luck. She’s going to need it today. I licked all her gummy bears without telling her about it.

Libraries (and their librarians) are A M A Z I N G. We love you.

Dear humans,

The Wenchasaurus Rex is so excited she can’t even right now, so I have to even for her. I’m not even sure what evening is, but I’m doing it… I guess? Just like I’m not really sure why she makes these purple things bleed onto paper beyond understanding the basic desire to hunt and conquer.

I’m a cat. I’m good at that.

Anyway, the female was doing a search and found herself… at a LIBRARY.

She loves libraries, human.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area… look what is at your library!! I mean, even if you’re not in the Las Vegas area, look anyway.

This is so cool. The female is still can’t evening right now, and I’m still not sure what it means, but it involves squealing and raising her pale fleshy finger bits in the air and waving them around.

People who use the Las Vegas public library can get a bunch of the female’s books there, although there’s a wait list for some of the titles.

This! This! You can check out digital books right online and get to read them through this system.

Do this, do this, do this! For every last one of your favorite authors. If you love a book, talk to your library about getting copies in for you to read. This is perfect for those on fixed income. (We care for you. We really do. There is a whole world of free books at your disposal through Overdrive and the public library systems.)

You’ll need a library card, but a lot of the library systems allow you to apply for one online now, so you don’t even need to go to the library. It’s all digital.

(Yeeeeees.)

The female is a little sad that her books aren’t available in the Santa Clara district library system, but that’s okay. She buys the books she wants to read since she doesn’t have a huge amount of free time. But for those who have a lot of free time?

Talk to your librarian. You help authors, you help support the library, and you help get your favorite books into the hands of other readers.

Do eeeeet, humans! You’ll regret nothing!

Annnnnd the female human seems to be indulging in an excitement-induced seizure.

I thought about helping her for a second, but that odd and unsettling urge passed quickly. I hope she’ll be able to feed me tonight.

Closing Time: The End of the Sneaky Kitty Critic’s Newsletter. (We’re moved to the blog now!)

All things come to an end, and the Sneaky Kitty Critic newsletter has driven the Wenchasaurus Rex to the end of her rope. So rather than strangling herself with it, she’s turned it into a whip, doused it in napalm, lit it on fire, and has turned it onto the server.

Buh-bye, mail server. Well. Almost. It has to finish sending out this final missive first.

We want to start this with a thank you to those who understand there is a real human behind the Furred & Finned Management. You’re appreciated. All journeys come to an end, and it’s time for the newsletter to ride quietly into the night.

There are a lot of people angry over the piracy newsletter we sent, too. (That’s okay. Go ahead and be angry at us for venting. If you’re not a pirate… it’s not targeted at you… and losing that much money over and over every book release is very frustrating for everyone involved.)

But there’s more to this than just that, though.

Ever since the death of Tia the Majestic, the human has, frankly, kinda loathed anything to do with the mail server she’d operate to help us send missives to you. Newsletters are an odd beast. They’re also expensive odd beasts.

But they were several hours of work a piece, and every time she goes to it, she gets a little bit angry, a lot sad… and using the software (and handling all the coding stuff) no longer held any joy.

There’s something to be said for getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. (And cost a lot of money without sparking any joy.)

We love talking to you humans, especially the ones among you who live and breathe books. That’s what we’re here for.

But, when we’re honest–a lot of people come to our site and read our missives for the laughs, the games, and the cat pictures. That’s fine. Really. We enjoy making you laugh.

That’s part of why our female writes books.

Laughter is good medicine.

But, there’s also a point in time where the Wenchasaurus Rex must figure out what makes her happy while also making you happy.

There’s some economics here, but it boils down to this: servers are expensive. Hosting the mail server? Also expensive. Hosting the mail server that sends images… even more expensive. (The female pays for each email sent, and then she pays even more for the load on the server as those emails are sent with images.)

With the website, wordpress helps carries the burden of expense; it comes part of the fancy thingies she uses/pays for to make this website happen. This means we can keep bringing you pictures at a much lower cost.

This may look impulsive, but as some of you are aware from being a subscriber, we’ve mentioned it before. We’re just moving the timeline up and cutting our loses now rather than carrying the burden of server costs for half a year to a year longer.

It adds up fast, humans.

So, this is a new start on the author’s adventure in writing and authoring.

Newsletter operators look at numbers. Subscribers are numbers. (When we send a newsletter, we just see a number.) It’s lifeless to the Wenchasaurus Rex. She does try to make it fun for everyone through us. (She helps us a lot with these things, you know. We just try to pretend she doesn’t.)

She’s tired of seeing people as numbers, so she’s getting rid of the numbers. Boom! It’s done. Fans are not numbers. People are not demographics. (And no, for the nth time, not everyone on the list is a pirate and if it doesn’t apply to you, please take it as intended, something to educate you.

While littered with curses, because nothing sucks quite as much as losing tens of thousands of dollars to thieves. (You’d be upset, too. Right? Well, the female is upset. With reason.)

She’s not sorry she’s upset, either. She may be a little sorry for offending some people, but… if it’s not about you, don’t worry about it.

Ending the newsletter has been a long time in the making, but after spending most of the day responding to as many messages as she can (many of them angry, including the typical I don’t even know who you are, how dare you sound like you’re accusing me of piracy!) she’s tired.

Everyone in the Blain household is tired.

P.S.: If you’re not pirating books, the letter wasn’t to you, but it was put there to educate you. While our intention was not to upset you, we of the Furred & Finned Management ask you consider why you became upset.

If you’re not a pirate, it’s not about you. You’re good. It’s that simple. If something is not directed to you, it makes zero sense (at least to us) for you to be offended by it. If you’re upset by it because you’ve done something in the letter… well, that’s something to think about.

Those who are pirates probably aren’t going to be shamed by their behavior or care. But maybe they’ll get angry and leave. (Which works for us.) This site is operated one part labor of love and enjoyment of entertaining and helping other authors, one part as a business investment. That’s reality.

At the heart of her rant is a simple truth: the female can’t do jack shit about the pirates no matter how hard she fights them, and they cost her, directly, tens of thousands of dollars. Some pirates take her books and sell them on sites (not the big vendors) because they can. That just makes the loss of the sales even worse.

She’s not sorry she’s angry to the point of tears. At all. We hope you understand that.

This site, while operated by cats, is for the human’s book ventures. It is her passion, her love, and her dream. It means more to her than just a pay check, but she needs that check to survive.

(Just like people who go to their 9-5 job expect to be paid for their work.)

We enjoy being cats and entertaining you, but we’re here for the books. I know a lot of people who have been subscribed (and stayed subscribed) have followed because of us kitties. That’s great. Please continue to follow our adventures. (Although when the female and co leave for England, they will be accompanied by a plushy friend.)

She’s still trying to figure out how to sneak Ebola the Virus into her purse without TSA giving her stink eye. (Note: it’s a plushy, not an actual disease.)

If Ebola can’t be sneaked into England, Fippy Darkpaw will travel to castles instead–or Potion the Cat. We’re still a bit hazy on who will actually travel to England for photo ops and trip adventures.

We are going to a kitty palace for a vacation of our own. We’re totally not sure about this, but we’ve been told we will be fed at the appropriate intervals.

Posts will be more frequent without the newsletter stressing out the Furred & Finned Management. Some will be ranty. (We’re cats, after all. Passionate cats who love books. We’re also passionate cats who love food, and money is required for food. Things like piracy take food off our table, and we don’t like that.)

It’s okay to get upset sometimes. Everyone gets upset sometimes, even passionate cats who love books and food.

Some readers are really upset with the piracy message. It is what it is. We’ve lost fans because of it, too. (That’s fine. We’re abrasive, and we aren’t safe for some audiences.)

We’re honest, and we’re imperfect beings. The human? Particularly imperfect. We can’t be positive and happy all the time.

We expected to lose readers today when we posted our message. We posted it understanding we will lose readers. Closing the newsletter? Will lose us fans and readers and buyers. We know this.

We understand it.

For those of you sticking around, thank you. We hope to see you around on the blog, and we hope to talk to you in the comments.

You can subscribe to get email notifications of new posts on the right side menu on desktop browsers or at the very bottom of this page on mobile devices.

While this blog is operated by two cats, and people love cats, it’s about a writer working her ass off to make a living entertaining people.

Her name is RJ Blain.

To those of you offended by our recent post? We’re sorry you feel that way, and may you find great books and authors you enjoy elsewhere. We’re not for you–and that’s okay.

For those of you sticking around, we hope you’re sticking around for more than just cute pictures of us cats.

And with that, this part of our journey comes to a close. We’re turning off the lights and putting the server to bed. Once the emails are sent, things like the unsubscribe links will no longer function as there will be no server for them to go to.

For those of you who aren’t staying around or visiting our website (thesneakykittycritic.com), we truly wish you well in everything you do, and may you find your next new favorite book with the drawing of your next breath, because nobody should have to struggle to find a book to fall in love with.

So long and thanks for all the fish, newsletter subscribers. It was great while it lasted. We’ll be up to our same old in new forms, and we hope you come join us on our new adventures.

Let’s talk about piracy and how it seriously hurts authors.

Princess here. Zazzle wasn’t around when this happened, so I’m taking the reins today.

Piracy is the act of someone stealing something from someone else and puts it online for others to pay for or freely get. (The human has been hit with both.)

Once upon a time, the human released two books at one time: Shadowed Flame and Karma. Karma doesn’t have a book two because of this incident. Shadowed Flame doesn’t, either–and won’t. And yes, the female had been considering continuing Matia’s story if the book had done well.

Neither did well, and it had nothing to do with them releasing on the same day.

It had everything to do with pirates.

You see, some mean spirited human stole both books, put them online before their release day, and spread the books around. Why buy something you can get for free?

That’s exactly what happened. Neither book had decent sales. At all. Their sales were, flat-out, terrible.

And it was traced to a single act of piracy.

When you steal a book, you aren’t stealing from some big, bodiless entity. You’re stealing from the author you claim you enjoy reading.

You’re a big fat liar if you claim you like the author or enjoy their books and steal from them.

You’re not just a big fat liar, you’re a thief.

When a book is priced $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon, the author is paid 70% of the royalty (with a small cut for transfer fees paid out to amazon.)

For the sale of discussion, let’s assume a $2.99 novella has been stolen.

Here’s the math: $2.99 – $0.08= $2.91. The $0.08 is an estimated transfer fee, which is pretty average for my human’s books.

Of the $2.91 left, 70% royalty is then paid out to the author. That’s $2.037. For simplicity, we’ll say $2.03.

For every pirated copy downloaded, that’s $2.03 stolen directly from the author.

But, I can hear you now, crying in the background, you claim you wouldn’t have bought that book anyway!

Newsflash: That doesn’t make stealing work right. If you wouldn’t have bought it, don’t read it. Stick to books authors choose to willingly give you.

Don’t steal. Stealing is wrong. If you think you’re owed anything from an author, let me phrase it this way for you:

Do you deserve to be paid when you go to work? Or should your boss just take your hourly wage away from you because ‘he wouldn’t have paid it anyway if given a choice.’

Entertainment is not a right.

My human worked hard on her books.

You can’t afford a book? All right. Here’s what you can do.

Go to the library with a list of books you would have stolen, hand your list to your librarian, and say, “Can you please order these books by these authors?”

When purchasing books, librarians take into consideration what their patrons ask for.

Most books nowadays are available in the digital library. It’s a free service to you.

Authors get paid. (Because libraries have money, and they handle paying for the book for you.) Also, sometimes authors donate books to the library.

So, please do as all a favor.

Value authors.

Value artists.

Value musicians.

Value the people who make you happy.

Pirating their books just tells the world two things: you’re a thief with zero care of the consequences of your actions.

Because of the people who pirated the book and the people who continued the chain of thefts, a series remains unfinished (and won’t be done for a while, as the human female is still exceptionally bitter over how a bunch of thieves ruined a part of her career.)

See this number? As of today, this is how many piracy reports (DCMA complaints) my human has successfully processed through a program called Blasty, which makes it harder for thieves to find copies of her books.

All of these are verified thefts of her books.

Let’s play with the $2.99 sales price for a minute. (News flash, 90% of the books listed here sell for $4.99.) That’s $19,845.28 in lost money… assuming only one person per link downloaded.

My human checked once. Playing with Fire alone had 2,000 downloads from one popular pirate site.

That’s almost $7,000 stolen from one link.

There are almost 10,000 links up there. I’m sure you can handle that math on your own.

Stop stealing books.

You’re not hurting a big publisher.

You’re not hurting some marketing genius.

You’re hurting my human. You’re hurting other hard-working authors. (I don’t care if they’re traditional or independent. They get hurt, too. And they deserve to be paid.)

That’s money she should have rightfully earned from putting in thousands of thousands of hours learning how to write and writing books for your enjoyment.

Stop pirating shit you don’t own, please.

You’re hurting the people who make you happy.

You’re stealing. It’s no different than if I walked into your home and stole books off your shelf. Those books have a value.

So does my human’s books.

And don’t feed us the line about how art should be free.

No. Art is not free. Art should not be free.

Artists need to eat. Artists deserve to eat. Artists deserve to be able to go on a vacation after busting their ass to make you happy and entertain you.

No, piracy isn’t a digital library. It’s theft.

Stop stealing from people. First, it’s wrong. You wouldn’t want me to go in and put my paws into your bank account and take your money without your permission, would you?

So why do that to me, my sister, and my humans?

That’s exactly what you’re doing when you steal books online.

It’s theft.

To the thieves out there: If you want to read a book you can’t afford, go to the library. That’s what they’re there for.

Or, you know, go to Amazon and sort by price and download every free book you can get your hands on. Sure, it’s not the exact book you may want, but the author willingly gave that book to you. That’s not theft.

Stop stealing books. You are not entitled to them for free, and all it makes you is a thief.

If you want free stuff, follow authors. Many do things like free giveaways. (Here’s one for a prize pack of Alice in Wonderland themed stuff.) Get subscribed to bookbub. That site will send you discounted and free books every day. (Mostly discounted… because free books end to be a loss for the author. But at least those are legitimate sales and you’re not hurting the author.)

You can follow my human on bookbub for updates on sales, releases, and so on using these links:

RJ Blain

Susan Copperfield

Bernadette Franklin

Following the blog (inserting your email to the right-side menu box on desktops and down at the bottom of this page on mobile devices) is a pretty good way of following what the human does and know of the latest sales.

But here’s a brief update on the human and what she’s been up to:

Playing with Fire and Requiem for the Rift King (Box Set of 3 books) are both $0.99. Both will remain at $0.99 until further notice.

(Don’t ask what the Furred & Finned Management thinks of people who steal a $0.99 book.)

Hypnos is up for preorder for $5.99. (This is a 12 book series with 1 prequel series. There will be one other series in this world but it will follow a different character sometime after the completed events of Seeking the Zodiacs.)

Storm Called (Royal States Novel by Susan Copperfield.) This is Pat and Jessica’s fun little how they met, and it’s up for preorder for $4.99

Shammed (Bernadette Franklin) is a humorous love story of a prankster getting pranked available for preorder at $4.99. Alice was first introduced in Claustrophobic, and this story contains the entire Carter family.

Oh, and just because I can… these are just some of the latest batch of pirates doing their thefts.

Fuck you, pirates. You’re scum.

(What? Did you think we’d be thinking NICE things about worthless thieves who don’t value someone else’s hard work and effort? Please.)

Go to the fucking library so the authors get paid.

Here’s an example of just two thieves stealing our human’s books again. As quickly as we get them taken down, thieves put them back up.

To the nice people who are not thieves: thank you for your support. We very much appreciate it. Because of you, we can keep writing.

If you’re waiting for Karma or hoping for another Matia story… go get mad at the thieves who stole the books and pissed in the pond for everyone.

And yes, this is why my human no longer offers any ARCs to readers.

Please do not ask the human about ARCs. They are not offered to anyone.

(We like to eat.)

Author-to-Author: A Year in Review, Tax Talk, and Moar! Rawr!

High paw, humans! We made it!

Dear Reader People,

This post may bore you. We’re sorry. The female likes to help other authors, and it’s that time of year. So, if you’re not interested in the inner workings of Author Land, run away! Ruuuuuun~ Otherwise, stick around, we’ll try not to scare you too much.

Dear Authors,

Taxes suck, so we’re going to simplify the suckage of taxes for the self-employed author types as much as we can. Money when you get it is when it is counted. Money when you spend it is when it is counted. Money you spend, for business purposes, is something you can probably deduct. There are different categories, including contract labor, advertising, hardware/software, and so on. Track what you spend and its category. You’ll thank yourself later.

We’re paid royalties, and we receive the royalties we earn several months after we earn them. (For example, the money my human earned in January won’t reach her bank account until the end of March. (So my female uses the money earned in January as her April budget.)

Yeah. That’s confusing. And kinda terrifying, especially if you’re just starting out and need the money you earned to reinvest, as you have to wait. Yicky yucky.

Now, for the meat of this thing. It’s basically impossible to get a straight answer out of anyone for anything regarding actual income numbers. Well, here are my human’s numbers for the 2018 tax season.

Note: this is ALL income sources for the female, including the kickstarter she did, whenever she works for another author as an assistant, editor, or what-have-you, and anything else she earns on the side to float the boat.

She does stuff on the side as much as she can, even when it means she works 15 hours a day to do it. She’s really hoping she can relax her schedule soon, though. It’d be nice if, when she comes back from vacation, she’s not working 12-15 hours a day.

It’s tiring on the human, and it makes her sick. But she doesn’t want to go get ‘a real job’ so she does what she must.

These numbers may help illustrate things.

January 2018: She received $5,598 and spent $4,096 for $1,502 in profit. $1,312 was spent in advertising. She earned $5,944 in January. (She was supposed to pay $2,293 in taxes. Didn’t happen. It went to bills. Oops.)

February 2018: She received $8,020 and spent $4,545 for $3,475 in profit. $1,151 was spent in advertising. She earned $7,271 in February. $3,208 was supposed to go to taxes. Didn’t happen. It went to bills. Oops. Again.) (There’s a trend going on here…)

March 2018: She received $5,944 and spent $1,242 for $4,702 in profit. $1,151 was spent in advertising. She earned $11,275 in March. ($2,377 was supposed to go to taxes…)

April 2018: She received $7,271 and spent $3,615 for $3,656 in profit. $1,088 was spent in advertising. She earned $11,640 in April. ($2,908 was supposed to go to taxes…)

May 2018: She received $11,275 and spent $6,615 for $4,660 in profit. $6,019 was spent in advertising. She earned $14,915 in May. (HEEEEYYY… the human put like $2,000 into taxes and opened her tax account because she could! Of course, she was supposed to put in $4,510…)

June 2018: She received $11,640 and spent $10,635 for $1,005 in profit. $0 was spent in advertising. She earned $11,001 in June. All the profit went to bills, and everything was sadness.

The female is curled in the fetal position sobbing.

July 2018: She received $14,915 and spent $7,020 for $7,896 in profit. $1,625 was spent in advertising. She earned $10,027 in July. Everything but the absolute minimum went to the tax account.

August 2018: She received $11,001 and spent $2,847 for $8,154 in profit. $1,589 was spent in advertising. She earned $10,027 in August. Everything but the absolute minimum went to the tax account.

September 2018: She received $10,027 and spent $13,310 for $-3,282 in losses. $8,587 was spent in advertising. She earned $27,700 in September. The humans did terrible things to the savings account this month. (It’s okay. The female was told to spend over this month! The male wasn’t upset at her because she did good on the earnings thing. Don’t panic.)

October 2018: She received $11,911 and spent $6,577 for $5,334 in profit. $1,109 was spent in advertising. She earned $24,736 in October. Everything but the bare minimum went to taxes.

November 2018: She received $27,700 and spent $9,267 for $18,433 in profit. $226 was spent in advertising. She earned ~$17,000 in November. More everything but the bare minimum went to taxes.

Just for the record, every penny of profit from November was eaten by the tax account. The same applied for December, August, and July.

December 2018: She received $24,736 and spent $15,671 for $9,065 in profit. $12,943 was spent in advertising. She earned $13,600 in December. Same old story about the taxes. I was adopted this month, so this was a good month, but no one else in the household agrees with me.

The Tax Account Ate $44,000. (Less than it was supposed to.)

Please note that the ‘in profit’ number must pay rent, food, bills, and the taxes. And the female did not do very good at helping to pay the rent, food, bills, etc until January 2019.

Then her moment of glory cameeeeeeee. (She paid off/saved money for the trip to England.)

January 2019 and moving forward is the set 40% to household, 40% to taxes, and 20% to investments rule, and it works like this:

In January 2019, the female received $24,664.71. $9,865.88 immediately went to the tax account. OMNOMNOMNOM. Then $9,865.88 was devoured by her trip to England, paying the rent, paying the bills, more bills, paying off Christmas presents, and then everyone wondered where all the money went because it’s all gone? (Hint: she was catching up because of the tax account needing a LOT of love because of earning a lot more money than expected in the later half of the year.)

Stupid bills. Stupid taxes. (We don’t discuss the vet bills from December. The humans still cry.)

But England will be totally amazing, and the female hasn’t been on an actual vacation in like seven years. She went away for a weekend in January, but… she worked the entire time expect for the show and when she was glued to the window staring at the ocean.

P.S.: The female now owns a ski jacket because she had no coat at all and there is snow in England in the winter.

$4,932.94 went to investments in January. She actually spent $4,942.76 but the husband looked the other way because ‘it was close enough.’

The female made $25,211.00 in January. Hooray! The earnings, sadly, didn’t come where she was hoping it would considering the $10,000 investment in the last weekend of December, but she made back her money… mostly. She didn’t really make profit on that money spent, because the investment dollars went one very specific place and that series did not fly like she’d been hoping… but other books grew some wings and did unexpected things, and that’s all right. (She wasn’t able to spend too much on advertising in January because she had other expenses (editorial bills especially) she had to pay for first. And there wasn’t much left over.

Books. They’re expensive.

But the unexpected books that did well pulled the weight when the Mag Rom Coms flopped, so that’s a good thing.

February’s earnings aren’t looking good, as there won’t be a new release until the end of the month, which will hurt down the road when she wants to invest in things and can’t. This is expected. March will hurt, too… but she should be able to pay her share of the bills. Or so we hope.

The humans live in a really expensive area, and that’s scary sometimes.

But she’s hanging in there, and she’s now able to contribute to the household, the tax account isn’t rearing its evil head and devouring her soul, and 2019 is looking to be a bright year with a lot of new adventures to go on despite having some bumps and hiccups along the way.

And that’s the story of one author’s struggle to be able to help pay the bills, the rent, and go on a real week+ vacation for the third time in her adult life. (Weekend outings don’t count.)

P.S.: Please forgive the Furred & Finned Management if there are any mathematical mistakes. We tried, but math is hard for us kitties.

Playing with Fire Audiobook is Now Available!

After a rather long wait, the audiobook version of Playing with Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) is finally ready for purchase! Hip, hip, hooray!

If audio is your thing, this is for you! The rest of the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series will be coming to audio soon but Hearth, Home, and Havoc is already available if you are ready to make the dive in. Last but not Leashed should be the next to release.

We hope you love the audiobooks!

P.S.: This update is tiny. The Wenchasaurus Rex has bacon to vanquish before she returns to the writing cave.

Fun, Games, a Snippet, & Fish Who Like Playing Dead

Dear humans,

I present to you a finned asshole. Landen is getting quite old, and he constantly has fin problems. In fact, the female constantly battles his old age and fin problems trying to make sure he has a nice little fishy life.

So what does he do?

He plays dead whenever possible. He’s pretty good at this game. He nails the Wenchasaurus Rex at least once a day flopping over onto his gravel and pretending like he is no longer among the living.

He also likes standing on his nose at the bottom while investigating the gravel. He finds it fascinating. (Don’t ask me. Fish are weird.)

Speaking of finned assholes, Dylan blew his fins out yesterday, and he’s looking quite proud of himself over the situation. It turns out the bastion of sanity in the fishy foursome is Shane, who might be the dumbest one of the entire bunch.

(He couldn’t figure out food was food for several days when he was first adopted.)

So, for the fun and games portion of the day. The human’s readers’ group on Facebook has already seen this, but it’s time everyone else got a chance to see a sneak peek of Solaria Sanctum, a science fictiony novel the human is working on. It’s a play project, it will not release any time soon, and she doesn’t have a cover for it yet. That’ll be coming.

We hope you enjoy!

From Chapter One

Day 25, Month 1, Year 2,351 A.E.

Exodus Prime, Exodus

We lived in the past, but everyone around me believed we forged a new and better future. From my perch on the top floor of the Spire, the stunted city of Exodus Prime kept to its hill as though afraid spreading its wings might bring its downfall. As far as I knew, nowhere else in the known universe built its villages, towns, and cities to mimic those of the molten planet that’d once been Earth.

Exodus Prime mimicked an Earthen city in its final days, a sterile place built of steel, glass, and stone. Given my way, I would’ve escaped to the wood and stone towns skirting the city’s borders, taken Achrainn with me, and ridden until I couldn’t stay in the saddle for another instant.

I would’ve even coped with the bulky fur cowls and chainmail the historians enjoyed foisting on me so they, too, could catch a glimpse of the past I lived. I blamed the black evolvulite hanging from my throat for my gift, if I could call the dark stone a gift. Some days, I wondered. Thanks to the black stone’s influence, I safeguarded the truths of the past. My ‘gift’ whispered the truth of the worlds on the page until I alone understood the nuances of the events that had become history.

Nothing was ever as it seemed.

“Caite?” my father asked, approaching me from behind. Lifting my chin, I turned to face him, marveling he could fit so many emotions into my name. I’d grown used to the resignation; I’d smeared his reputation as a man capable of fathering many sons, the only daughter of the Exor line born in three generations. I suspected he’d forgotten to take the little while pills meant to encourage the development of the prized Y chromosome. The rest, a mix of exasperation and annoyance, also came as no surprise. Had I been a good daughter, I would’ve been downstairs waiting for him. “It’s time.”

For one man or woman of every settlement on Exodus, life would change irrevocably by nightfall. Some left of their own free will, choosing to pursue sciences beyond those Earth had developed on their own. Had I been anyone else, I might’ve chosen that fate. I already meddled in sciences beyond what had been available on Earth. Achrainn benefitted from my work. I hadn’t been the one responsible for the stallion bonding with an evolvulite stone the match of mine, but I’d helped with the surgeries used to strengthen his body and grant him long life and strength.

His big, bulky body had been too much for his legs, too thin and weak to support him. Without me, he wouldn’t have survived long beyond his foaling.

“Is Achrainn downstairs?”

“I rue the day I’d promised you could keep that wretched horse,” he muttered.

I’d named Achrainn well, for he brought strife to my family without needing to do anything other than exist. “Rue it as you wish, Father. If I’m a candidate this year, I would rather fling myself from the top of this lifeless spire than leave Exodus without him. You gave your word.”

With him, it took ultimatums and threat of smearing the family name to bring him into line. Most days, it worked.

Today was one of those days, and my father sighed. “He’s downstairs waiting for you, tacked as requested. I even brought your ceremonial staff as I won’t have you spearing anyone today, but I drew the line at the furs. No. You’ll dress as a modern woman today. Consider yourself lucky I’m allowing the staff. It’s technically a weapon.”

“I take it my request for a sword has been denied?”

“You’re exceptionally lucky I’m allowing the staff. I’m well aware what you can do with that thing, young lady. You should have left the warfare to your brothers instead of humiliating them at every chance. You hurt their pride. You were supposed to be a scholar. A scholar. A bookworm. Bookworms do not beat the snot out of their older, bigger brothers.”

“Then they should work harder to beat me, their little bookworm scholar of a sister. Their prides can remain stung.”

“You’re merciless.”

“And if your behavior is to be believed, my merciless assaults on their prides won’t continue to be a problem. I’m getting the boot this year, aren’t I?”

My father had the decency to flinch. “I wouldn’t call it giving you the boot. You and that brute of a horse have been requested. Specifically requested. We can’t deny this request.”

The ‘we’ implied the planetary council had weighed in on my selection to leave Exodus and join the other men and women meant to reintroduce purer human genes back into populations of other planets. I found the efforts ridiculous.

Compatible species wed and had children, and they became new species destined to travel the stars. Some had once been human. Most hadn’t.

“Do you have anything else to tell me that I won’t like, Father?”

“Why had I taught you to be your mother’s daughter?” my father complained. “No, worse. I’ve taught you to be my daughter, all full of fire and with a mouth to match. I’ve plenty of things to tell you that you won’t like, and you’ve no choice in the matter. Be grateful I could negotiate at all. I’ve safeguarded that demon you call a horse. Had I known what you’d create, I would’ve let nature take its course.”

“You’re just upset Achrainn is smarter than my brothers.”

“However true, I beg you not to rub that in your brothers’ faces today. Please. They’re annoyed enough you’re being sent off planet as it is.”

“They are? Why? I live to annoy them.”

“That’s what little sisters are supposed to do. Despite appearances, they do love you.”

I planted my hands on my hips and stared at my father, narrowing my eyes. “I’ve seen you butter my mother up enough times to recognize when you’re trying to do the same to me. What have you done now?”

My father threw his head back and laughed. “I should’ve told them they could pay me to keep you. You’ve the pride of an empress, Caite. Of that, I’m proud. But try to curtail your wild spirit some.”

“Has my destination planet been chosen?”

“Yes, it has been.”

I waited, arching a brow until he decided to tell me where I’d be going on the next ship off planet.

“You’re to go to Solaria Sanctum.”

My brows shot up. With strict immigration rules determined by genetics, only those with somewhat pure human genetics could claim citizenship on the planet. I qualified; everyone on Exodus qualified.

Never before had the planet requested someone from our world to go to theirs.

“Well, that’s different. Why?”

“Politics. There are few eligible women for the heirs of ruling families on the planet, so they decided to solve the issue with an import from Exodus. As we’re considered the ruling family, you were chosen.”

Right. I was the only woman of the direct line available. “Well, that’s just a shit lot in life. What, exactly, are they expecting of me?”

“Whomever weds you will become the undisputed ruler of Solaria Sanctum. Try not to mess this up too much, Caite.”

“Has anyone told the idiots from Solaria Sanctum that’s an idiotic way to pick a ruler?”

My father sighed and bowed his head. “Believe me, I tried. I told them they really, really didn’t want you picking their future ruler, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They’re on the brink of civil war because of these idiot sons of equally idiot rulers vying for control over the planet.”

“Are any of them not idiots?”

“I think they’re expecting you to figure that out.”

“I’m not being paid sufficiently for this, Father.”

“You’ll become the undisputed empress of an entire planet, Caite. I think it’s safe to say you’ll be able to pick a sufficient pay for yourself when the dust settles.”

I closed the distance between us and jabbed my father in the chest. “I. Am. Not. Being. Sufficiently. Paid. For. This.”

“What part of the deal do you dislike?”

“The entirety of it. Do you know what happened on Earth when they had issues like this resolved with marriage deals? War, Dad. Even more wars. History repeats itself, except back then, humans resolved their disputes with swords instead of guns, bombs, and all assortment of lethal weapons. I’m not versed on all the modern weaponry,” I admitted.

“There’s a reason for that. If I gave you modern weaponry, you’d be ruling Exodus within a week.”

“I think you vastly overestimate my general desire to rule Exodus.”

“Please just try to leave their planet intact when you’re done with it, please. And should any of those idiot heirs convince you they’re worth your while, do bring him for a visit. I’m sure your brothers would love a chance to get to know him.”

“Using their fists?”

“That thought had crossed my mind.”

I shook my head and did my best to maintain a regal demeanor. “You know what they’re going to call us shortly after my arrival?”

“I’ll bite. What are they going to call us?”

“Barbarians.”

My father smiled. “While I’m banning the fur, the chainmail, the axes, swords, and spears from the ceremony, I’ll make sure they find their way onto the ship for your enjoyment later.”

“You’re just trying to make sure I get on the ship without a fight.”

“That was a factor in my decision.”

“Why is the premier planet of humanity so desperate they’d import someone from our world to fix their mess?”

“That’s the best question I’ve heard all day. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. At least you’ll have an edge.”

“I do?”

“You speak every humanoid language currently spoken, a few dead human languages, and several alien tongues. You may not have been born a son, but I couldn’t have asked for a more accomplished daughter. Just try not to humiliate them too much.”

“If they wanted to avoid humiliation, they would’ve picked any other woman,” I muttered.

“While true, do your best.”

In case you missed it, Hypnos, Storm Called, and Shammed are up for preorder at the major retailers. Burn, Baby, Burn will be available for preorder in mid February. That covers all the books releasing between now and May. After that, we’ll see how life works out!

And for those of you who like the freebies, there’s an Alice in Wonderland giveaway in case you missed it.

No pictures of my cute self today because the dumbass fish who likes to play dead deserves some glory for taunting the Wenchasaurus Rex.

Well played, buddy.

Shammed, Pho, and Shenanigans!

We meet again, humans.

I come bearing some news and things of that nature. The female has been a bit under the weather today, so I’ve had time to rampage through her computer and things.

First, my human female has listened to those who wanted Burn, Baby, Burn. You can join in some kickstarter shenanigans to get autographed paperback OR hardback copies of Hypnos & Burn, Baby, Burn. She also has an option for a complete collection of all her paperbacks in print and some other tiers. (If a tier you want isn’t shipping to your country, please comment with your country and which tier you want. The female will add shipping to the tier so you can order.) It’s just a lot of work to figure out how much the shipping will be, and it’s very expensive.

It has just occurred to us we did not include Shammed as an option on the Kickstarter. Oops. Well, rats. Maybe a stretch goal? I shall discuss this with the female. I will use my claws during this discussion.

Second, I come bearing snippets for your enjoyment. Well, snippet. I’ll give you one today. If you’re good, I’ll come back and give you another one tomorrow.

I’m being really nice and giving you an entire scene worth of snippet. I could have been cruel and started giving you the first scene of a book in one to two paragraph chunks. That would’ve taught you a thing or two!

Shammed is the second Bernadette Franklin book, and it follows the story of Alice Relin. Those of you who have had Claustrophobic might remember her as one of Chloe’s co-workers. She’s back, and she’s getting her Happily Ever After! (I’d say she deserves one! The Wenchasaurus Rex is mean.)

~About the Book~

At R.K. Legal & Associates, office hours are between ten to six, pranks happen after hours, and evidence of all shenanigans are removed before doors open to clients.

When Alice’s boss, Mr. Kenton, starts a prank war with Lance McCarthy, an up-and-coming attorney from a rival firm, she thinks it’s just business as usual.

She’s never been so wrong in her life.

Chosen to be Mr. Kenton’s accomplice, Alice must face off against Lance in what quickly becomes a winner-takes-all game of hearts.

This snippet has been stolen from the female’s computer and has not had any editorial love yet. If you find a mistake, pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself, but keep it to yourself, please. (These are supposed to be fun sneak peeks at a book prepublication.)

~From Chapter One~

Stuffed spiders hung from the ceiling of my boss’s office, brushing against the heads of the unwary entering the room. Mr. Kenton’s shriek had brought everyone in the office running. As his newest secretary, I’d had the dubious honor of arriving first.

I’d only been working for him for a month, and I ran a high risk of losing my job from laughing so hard at the childish prank. Tears pricked my eyes, and wiping them away did no good. They kept coming back.

I was probably the only person in the office who actually liked spiders and kept several as pets.

“It’s not that funny, Alice,” the attorney complained.

Yes, it was. “I’m sorry, sir.”

Despite my best effort, I couldn’t stop from laughing.

Several other attorneys crowded into the doorway behind me along with their secretaries and the paralegals working on the floor. Like me, they laughed at the partner’s expense.

Unlike every other legal firm I’d worked for, Mr. Kenton handled the situation with grace—and a few laughs of his own. “To whomever helped with this one, well played. As soon as I figure out which one of you rascals did this, I will have my revenge.”

At R.K. Legal & Associates, office hours were between ten to six, pranks could only be performed after hours and needed to be cleaned up before ten every business day, and all legal representatives were to show up by nine to ensure all shenanigans were removed or cleverly hidden.

As Mr. Kenton’s internal secretary, I needed to make the spiders disappear before ten, but I’d enjoy the work compared to the general monotony of filing paperwork, doing research, making certain Mr. Kenton made it to his appointments on time, and otherwise serving as a well-paid office gopher.

Fighting to regain my composure, I straightened, cleared my throat, and dabbed my eyes, careful to avoid the tender skin of my healing cheek. I’d been promised the injury would stop hurting one day, but the latest surgery to fix my face had left me with a new like of stitches which would result in a second thin scar near my eye.

In eight weeks, I’d be free from all my stitches and be able to get on with my life—and wear makeup without inflicting pain on myself to hide my scars and bruises.

I couldn’t wait.

Once I could speak without giggling, I asked, “What would you like me to do with the spiders, Mr. Kenton?”

The attorney counted stuffed spiders. “It seems there’s enough cute, fluffy spiders for everyone, so do deliver one to every attorney first, and then distribute them as you see fit. Keep the one you like best for yourself. I think I’ll see about getting them little hats with shamrocks on them. We’ll call them holiday decorations for St. Patrick’s Day.”

I lifted my hand and bit my knuckle so I wouldn’t burst into laughter at the thought of stuffed spiders wearing shamrock-themed bowlers. Unable to speak without giggling like a fool, I nodded.

Those behind me didn’t even bother to hide their mirth over the situation—or Mr. Kenton’s reaction to the prank. Fetching a chair, one without troublesome wheels, I went to work retrieving stuffed spiders from the ceiling. They came in bright colors, and upon closer inspection, I discovered some of them came with power switches. Puzzled, I turned one on and set it on the floor.

Mr. Kenton dodged hanging spiders, circled his desk, and yelped and something he found on his chair, likely more spiders.

The bright blue and pink spider took off across the floor right towards the attorney.

His yelp grew into a full-fledged screech.

The toy sped up, spun in a circle, and darted off in another direction.

“What the hell is that?” Mr. Kenton pointed at the spider, which reacted to his voice, spun in another circle, and ran into the wall.

“It seems to be sound activated.” I caught the rogue toy, flipped it over, and turned it off. “Do you know who would leave a bunch of spiders in your office, sir?”

“Yes.”

When Mr. Kenton didn’t elaborate, I assumed he was doing what he always did when someone got the jump on him: he plotted revenge. I got a storage box from the hallway closet and began packing away the toys so I could get back onto the chair and remove the monofilament lines and remove the evidence my boss had been pranked before the first of his clients for the day came.

“Tell me, Alice. You’re Irish, aren’t you?”

Before my former boss had smashed my face, I’d dyed my red hair blond to avoid extra scrutiny and the jokes. A careful application of makeup had hid most of my freckles, and I’d considered colored contacts to hide that my eyes were green. Since my operations to reconstruct my eye socket and minimize scarring, I’d gone without a lot of the little things I’d done to draw attention away from my heritage. “Only part, sir. I’ve never been to Ireland in my life. My father’s Irish, and he returned to Ireland after he divorced my mother. My mother’s part Irish; a quarter, I think? Why, sir?”

“St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon, and the instigator of today’s prank deserves a healthy dose of shenanigans.”

A healthy dose of what? “Shenanigans, sir?”

“You know, trickery, mayhem, fun at his expense? Shenanigans. Of course, he’ll expect it coming from me. But from you? My quiet, reserved secretary he’s only caught a few glimpses of? He’ll never expect it coming from you. You’re perfect. Our firms are dealing with a divorce case, so we’re sharing an unfortunate amount of space lately. His client requested the divorce. My client would like to try to resolve the issues in their marriage. His client is considering it. As such, the case is being drawn out much longer than anticipated.”

“Ah. The Randel case, sir?” With millions in assets to be divided, I could understand why our client, Mrs. Randel, would want to preserve her marriage. She’d earned a decent hunk of the assets to be split and was in a good position to enjoy a comfortable life without her husband, but everything I’d seen of the file indicated she wasn’t in the relationship for the money.

Mr. Kenton liked the cases where a divorce might be dodged, and it often cost him hours because he opted to not charge extra when the case became complicated as a result of his mediation efforts. His ten to six often became ten to ten because of his desire to do more than the minimum, something I respected about the man.

I needed to pay Chloe a visit and thank her for putting me in touch with her head hunter. Between her and her future in-laws, I’d been able to press charges against our former employer and come away with a fortune. A lot would go into hiding my new scars and medical bills, but there’d be enough left over I could live in comfort. Add in my higher pay with R.K. Legal & Associates, and my ex-boss’s assault had become a rather painful blessing in disguise.

I never wanted to have my face bashed in again, but I’d make the most of my new circumstances.

Mr. Kenton sighed. “Yes, the Randel case. Mr. Randel wants to hear a proposal for mediation with the condition of having all paperwork drawn up and awaiting signature in case it doesn’t work out. So, we’re still doing the complete asset split, which will need judge approval, but they’re going to attempt to resolve their differences. Should it not resolve, they’ll move forward with the divorce.”

“That seems like a reasonable compromise,” I said, wondering what the catch was—if there was a catch. Who was I kidding? There was always a catch.

“It’s reasonable until you have a good look at the assets they need to split, work I have to bill them for. I was hoping to save them the investment, but it’s going to be a lot of hours. You’ll be fielding a lot of paperwork in this case and preparing it for my review.”

I wasn’t a paralegal and couldn’t prepare any legal documentation, but the work I did would become the foundation for what everyone else did. Best of all, I didn’t need to deal with the clients often.

It was enough to make me want to sing and dance in my boss’s office.

“And it’ll be a lot of consulting with Mr. Randel’s attorney.” My boss rubbed his hands together. “Lance’ll never see it coming. If you play your cool professional as usual, he won’t even notice you’re setting him up.”

“What am I setting him up for, exactly?”

“That’s a very good question. I don’t suppose you’re interested in pulling some pranks on a rival firm? Costs will be on me, and I’ll have a budget for you to work with. For the record, their firm is the reason why our firm has rules on appropriate pranking.”

Some stories needed to be told, and if I couldn’t get Mr. Kenton to tell me, I’d ask around the office until I learned the truth. “What happened, sir?”

“One of the partners of the firm decided to send us a rather large shipment of toilet paper during office hours, much to the confusion of our clients, who wondered what we could possibly need with thousands of rolls of toilet paper.”

Well, that was different. “What did you need with thousands of rolls of toilet paper, sir?”

“To this day, I don’t really know, but I think we still have some in the supply closets. We donated the excess to the local shelters and schools. Are you game, Alice?”

Was my boss kidding? When else was I going to get to toy with someone on his dime? “I’m going to need a full list of rules, a budget, and a timeline, sir.”

“Save the best prank for last, and do it on St. Patrick’s Day. Start small and work your way up. When you’re done with him, I want our firms to be talking about it for years.”

I’d learned I had a new favorite word, and it was shenanigans. “I’ll get to work on this immediately, sir.”

“Good. And Alice?”

“Sir?”

“The only good prank is the one where everyone has fun. I’ll send you everything I have on Lance so you can cater your pranks to him and his staff. And do feel free to involve the entirety of his firm. They’ve had it coming.”

I had no idea what sort of budget he was going to give me, but I had the feeling my professional life was about to become a great deal more interesting.

Shammed is available for preorder ($4.99) at most major retailers, including Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple. The human will probably make me do something about Google Play soon… maybe.

For my last order of business, the female wasn’t feeling well, so the male brought her an offering.

Here is a picture.

We’re thinking the bone belonged to an alien cow, perfect for feeding a hungry and ill Wenchasaurus Rex.

Have a good day, humans!