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December, 2013

Last year I popped off with a bunch of predictions for 2013. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I wasn’t far off base. Because of overwhelming popular demand (and a lack of anything else to blog about) I’ve decided to do another prediction list. This time next year we can take a look and see how well I did.

Without further ado, here are my crystal ball WAGs:

1) The field will be more crowded than ever, and the big indie money will be in NA/Romance for the second year running. This one’s easy. If you look at last year’s hits, they were almost all in the NA/Romance genre. H.M. Ward sold 3 million books in 2013 after coming out of nowhere. Colleen Hoover had the #1 indie title on Amazon for sales. Bella Andre is so hot she wears asbestos underwear (when she wears anything at all). Melissa Foster is climbing the charts and doing incredibly well (she’ll be next year’s big hit, I believe, because she works the same insane rate I do). I can’t even keep up with all the authors making serious bank in that genre, and I expect it to continue.

2) Trad publishers will continue to fight price wars in an attempt to gut the indie biz, or at least compete for the growing readership that won’t pay more than $5 for an ebook. As they reprice big name backlists, expect to see it get ugly out there on pricing.

3) Select will be all but dead for anyone selling reasonable volume. While there will be exceptions, the Countdown feature appears to be a bomb, free’s been gutted, so there’s very little reason to be exclusive anymore and a lot of reasons not to be. It’s possible that the Zon will revamp Select and make it relevant again, but for now, it isn’t. I expect to see an exodus of smart indies from the program, leaving only the dim and the desperate in it. Sorry, Amazon, I love you like a Victoria’s Secret model, but something’s come between us on Select, so you either need to step up, or go home with that shit.

4) Perma-free will decline in impact. People will increasingly value their time more than the value of a free book, and will prefer to pay for something quality rather than sort through five hundred crap titles in the hopes of finding a nugget. That was back when it was all shiny and new. Now, and moving forward? Not so much. Perma-free will still work, but as with so many of the past’s effective strategies, the kryptonite’s power will fade fast as 2014 progresses.

5) Major pubs that are kingmakers and gatekeepers for indies will lose much of their efficacy over the next year. Which sucks, as they’re about the only thing that works anymore.

6) Quality will matter more than ever as the market matures and readers demand more professional work. The days of slapping your unedited screed up on Amazon with a cover you did while learning the basics of GIMP are over. Which couldn’t make me happier.

7) It will become way harder to sell books for indie authors. You can just leave this one pinned for the foreseeable future. Deal with it.

8) B&N won’t go out of business in 2014. But I call dibs on an 18 month demise. I just think it will take longer for them to fall over dead than many think.

9) 2014 will be the year Google starts making big noise in ebooks. And Apple will continue to take market share. The future will shape up, at least in the U.S., to be a battle between Amazon, Google and Apple. Kobo will be nipping at everyone’s heels, and Sony might as well turn off the lights.

10) Trad pub should do better deals with promising indies that have a good following, but probably won’t. And we’ll see more and more midlist trad pub authors move into the indie pond, making it even tougher for newbies to get a break. You won’t see many, or any, ‘paper only’ deals in 2014. And it will no longer be enough to shift 100K copies at .99 to get anyone’s attention. Those days are gone, never to return.

11) Every quarter will bring us breathless excitement about the possibly new big thing that will make the future brighter, but for the most part those will be false idols and, after a lot of hype, they’ll fall flat. Everyone will be trying to squeeze cash out of the indie pie, but few will truly add any value, so expect a lot of new ideas to crater after liftoff.

12) Trad publishers will continue to make plenty of money, and the smart ones will be streamlining their operations in preparation for a brutal 24-48 months of shakeup. Those that adapt will do well. Those that don’t will be roadkill.

In all of these scenarios the reader will be the winner. That’s the good news. The bad news is that competition will increase from all sides, so it will be increasingly hard for indies to make a decent living. Especially new ones. Having said that, there will be hundreds of indie authors that make six figures or more, and likely many more that make low-to-mid five figures, which will make it the best time to be an author in the history of the business. Except for 2013. And 2012. And 2011… If you see a trend there, it’s mostly a function of Amazon’s modifying their algos so it’s harder for indies to get visibility. 2012 marked an unprecedented time in the business, when careers were made, and any rube could put a title free through Select and then sell hundreds or thousands of copies on the bounce. That’s over. O-V-E-R. Sorry, but it is. It was great while it lasted, though, so can’t complain.

Here’s to an exciting and prosperous 2014, everyone. My December big news (formerly the news known as November’s) has pushed into January, but my hunch is by the middle of the month, all hell will break loose. So get some popcorn and prepare for the fun to begin. As always, no wagering.

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That’s right, JET VI – Justice, the eagerly anticipated sequel in the bestselling JET series is now out – a day and a half earlier than planned!

I know, I know, you’re thinking about how the little ones’ eyes will light up when another graphically violent thriller romp hits their kindles. Better than a puppy, and way more gun battles! And now, just in time for last minute Xmas shopping!!! And if you couldn’t give a damn about the children, isn’t it about time you rewarded yourself for all the BS you’ve put up with this year? Go on. Buy it. You know it will make you richer and thinner, and add at least five years to your life.

I have to say I’m pleased with how this installment turned out. I was shooting for a more compressed timeline than my usual JET novels, and squeezed the entire thing into 36 hours of non-stop action. The result worked nicely, I think, and makes the story move along like a runaway train, which was the effect I was after.

Special thanks to my editing team for superhuman effort to get it done over the holidays: Stef, Dorothy, David, Pauline, and my beta readers. Without your tireless and unflagging support I’d be broke, living in a discarded refrigerator carton under an overpass, drinking rubbing alcohol and cough syrup. Or worse yet, be halfway through my Mr. Mittens trilogy.

The world is thankful for your efforts, as am I.

Hope everyone has a happy holiday. Stay away from clowns, no matter what the occasion, and buy loads of my crap for everyone you know. The planet will be a better place for it – all my novels are now green, as well as being perfect for the celiacs, lactose intolerant, peanut allergic, or whatever else might ail you among us. Making them the perfect thoughtful gift for everyone from Grandma to your newborn.

Here’s the cover reveal. Have a safe one.

jet 6-final

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In: Jet | Tags:

arnold lee drawingThe legendary Lawrence Block (who heretofore shall be referred to as simply, “The Legendary”) agreed to further sully his reputation by doing an interview with yours truly, having forgotten the furor, riots and lawsuits stemming from his last outing here. This glimpse into a literary icon’s process is fascinating, all the more so because, after more years as an author than I’ve been alive, he’s releasing his first self-published offering (hopefully not his last). Without further ado, let’s get to The Legendary and his latest triumph, The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons.

 

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NEWS: BLACK Is The New Black just went live! Get it while it’s hot!

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Russell Blake: Well, here you are again. You may not remember, but you were the subject of my very first Author Spotlight, just about two years ago.

Lawrence Block: How could I forget? That’s when my career took off. I figure I owe it all to you.

RB: And you’ve returned to express your gratitude. Very decent of you.

LB: To express my gratitude, and to let the Spotlight shine on The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons. It’s the eleventh book about Bernie Rhodenbarr, burglar and bookseller, and the first in almost a decade. The on-sale date is December 25th

RB: —which should be easy to remember.

LB: You’d think so, but why rely too heavily on memory? The canny reader can play it safe and pre-order the book now from Amazon.

RB: I’d ask you to tell us something about the book, but you’ve already done so. Still, a couple of points cry out for further attention. I understand you wrote the book on a cruise ship.

LB: Holland America’s MS Veendam, on a five-week cruise this summer. Round trip from Boston, sailing the North Atlantic and visiting ports in Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, and, well, you get the idea. I’ve always tended to go away to work, sometimes to writers’ colonies, sometimes to a hotel room, and I like ocean travel, so I gave it a try.

RB: As an alternative to the retirement you’ve been nattering about in recent years.

LB: Well, I did honestly think I might be done writing novels. And the efforts I’d made seemed to confirm my suspicions, dying five or ten thousand words in. I didn’t intend to take up shuffleboard, I knew I’d be busy tending to my backlist and writing the occasional short story, but I feared I might not be up to the heavy lifting that a novel demands.

But I really wanted to do at least one more book, you know? So I decided to give myself optimal conditions—a cruise, all by myself (plus 1200 strangers, but let’s not count them). Food when I wanted it, ease, comfort. And internet access in the ship library—but not in my cabin, to spare me that particular diversion during my working hours.

RB: And you just sat there and wrote?

LB: I woke up every morning around five and went straight to work. A steward brought my breakfast around seven, and I paused long enough to eat it, then went back to work. I kept going until I made my daily quota, which was a minimum  of  2000 words. I rarely did much more than that—until the last two days, when everything was coming together and it was easier to keep going than to stop.

RB: Did you ever leave the ship?

LB: If we were still in port when my day’s work was done, I generally went and had a look around. But the work always had priority, and I kept at it seven days a week. I may have been afraid that if I stopped I’d never get started again.

And, by God, it worked. I boarded the ship July 13, started writing the following morning, finished up August 15, and disembarked in Boston two days later.

RB: And you’re publishing it Christmas Day. Self-publishing it, to be specific, which is a murky pond you’ve been sticking a toe in for a couple of years now.

LB: I’ve been republishing backlist titles ever since Kindle made that possible. And two years ago I published an original, a collection of Matthew Scudder stories called The Night and the Music, which has done very well for me as an eBook and a HandsomeTradePaperback.

RB: That’s all one word? HandsomeTradePaperback?

LB: I think it ought to be, don’t you? But I’m taking a big step with The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons. It’s one that any of several traditional publishers would have been eager to publish. I could have pocketed a substantial advance, and instead I chose to be out of pocket and do it all myself.

RB: A fair number of folks might question your sanity.

LB: Well, it’s always been questionable at best. I sat down with my agent, who had read the book and loved it. He told me the advance he thought he could get for it, and asked me if I thought I could sell enough $9.99 eBooks and $14.99 HandsomeTradePaperbacks to match that number.

RB: And you said—

LB: I said, “How the hell do I know?” Because even an educated guess is still a guess. But I didn’t think it was unrealistic. And what he especially appreciated was that if I published the book myself it would be mine forever. I wouldn’t have some guys in suits hanging on to the eRights like grim death, long after they’ve stopped selling printed books.

RB: Of course if you self-publish, he doesn’t get a commission.

LB: Yes, he does. He’s selling the book overseas, he’s making the audiobook deal—and he gets his commission on the book’s earnings irrespective of who publishes it. That’s been true ever since The Night and the Music, and it works for both of us.

But it was still a hard decision. Publishing it myself meant giving up store sales, for the most part. It meant a smaller sale to libraries. It meant some media wouldn’t review it. It meant there wouldn’t be a hardcover trade edition.

RB: You’re doing a deluxe hardcover limited edition, however (cover reveal below – second one).

LB: I am, and it should be quite beautiful, signed and numbered and limited to 1000 copies. It’s selling nicely, and we’ll wind up making money with it, in addition to supplying collectors with a really handsome volume.

Will I do as well overall publishing the book myself? Things look very good at this point, but the question’s still unanswerable. But, you know,  that’s almost beside the point. Another consideration led to my decision.

RB: I bet you’re about to tell us what it was.

LB: How well you know me. It’s pretty simple: the desire to publish the book myself was largely responsible for my getting the book written in the first place. Once it was finished, and once it had turned out to be a better book than I’d dared to hope, how could I turn my back on the very impulse that had propelled me through it?

Look, if this venture falls short financially, I’ll regret the dollars I’ve lost. But I won’t lose sleep over them, and the regret won’t burrow very deep or last very long. But if I didn’t give it a shot, I’d regret that failure of nerve for the rest of my life.

I’ve come to believe that, when I face that kind of fork in the road, I’ll regret whatever choice I make. So it’s a question of which regret will be easier to live with. Once I looked at it that way, it was clear that self-publication was really the only way to go.

RB: And you’re not regretting it yet?

LB: Not for a second. I’ve been a professional writer for something like 55 years, and in all that time I’ve never been as busy as I am right now. And I’ve never had anywhere near as much fun.

And I don’t have to wait a year and a half for the damn thing to be out there! In my first Author Spotlight interview, I was whining about the fact that I’d finished Hit Me in November and it wouldn’t be coming out for fifteen months. I’m of an age whereat a prudent man doesn’t buy green bananas. You think I want to wait fifteen months for a book.

RB: So you evidently like it here on the dark side. Plan to dig in and stay awhile? Or is a return to retirement the next item on your agenda?

LB: I don’t seem to be very good at retirement. I’ve got a couple of books coming next year from a pair of very classy publishers—Subterranean Press will bring out Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf, and Borderline, a pseudonymous work from 1962, is being resuscitated by Hard Case Crime. (A good thing, too, as it was barely suscitated in the first place.)

There’s a writing book of mine, Write For Your Life, that’s long out of print, although it’s been eVailable for a while now. But I found 25 copies of the original edition in a storage bin and put them on eBay last week, one to a customer, and they were all gone three hours after my newsletter went out. God knows how many I could have sold. So that suggests I really ought to do a print-on-demand edition, and I’ll get on that sometime after the first of the year.

RB: A HandsomeTradePaperback, I suppose?

LB: You bet. So there are all these things to bring out, including a new collection of reviews and essays and such, and that should be enough to keep me out of mischief. But I can’t get away from the fact that I’d like to write another novel, and I even have the sense of what it might be. It’s early days, it’ll be months before I’m ready to sit down and get to it, but sometime in the spring or summer I think I’ll find a way to do it.

RB: And will you publish it yourself?

LB: It does look that way, doesn’t it?

Spoons_CoverKindle Cover

 

 

Limited Cover1030

Limited Edition Hardcover

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In: Interview | Tags:

It’s here, just in time for the holidays! The third installment in the Black series, featuring our reluctant hero Artemus Black, PI of questionable skills and sobriety, immersed in the world of modeling, is now live. Inspired as much by Zoolander as by Vogue, BLACK Is The New Black is a fun romp that pokes fun at many of the treasured icons of the fashion world while Black stumbles through it in search of clues.

As with all the BLACK books, this one is vicious, funny, and fast-paced, with Black forced out of his comfortable routine in Los Angeles and compelled to travel to Mexico, Las Vegas, and Northern California in order to stop disaster from striking on the set of photo shoots he’s assigned with protecting.

The books are fast reads, and offer a tip of the hat and a wink at classics by authors like Dashiel Hammett and Elmore Leonard.

I’m happy with the way this one turned out, and have turned to plotting BLACK 4, which should be out in February, assuming my editors are still answering the phone after I loaded them up with BLACK 3 and JET VI, all before the holidays.

On other fronts, I’m only a week or two away from being able to break my exciting November news, which is now my exciting December news. There’s a method to my madness, which everyone will understand shortly, but in the mean time, in a day or two I’ll be running an Author Spotlight with living legend Lawrence Block, who is releasing his first self-published novel, The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons, on Christmas day. I’ve read it and it’s masterfully written, humorous, erudite, brilliantly plotted, and generally a must read for anyone who enjoys a good mystery or incredible character development. Santa could do worse than to deliver you a copy of the novel, of course, only after he’s delivered BLACK Is The New Black to your stocking, even if you haven’t been particularly good this year, which I’m not here to judge.

Here’s the cover again, for those keeping score at home.

black3-final

 

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Prices have never been lower. Even big name new releases are being deeply discounted for the holidays, creating an environment for many authors where it’s a choice between the new Grisham, or their novel – not a tough one for readers, really.

Every day there are more blogs and articles decrying the sorry state of affairs that was unleashed when the DOJ mandated an end to price fixing. The good news being that it’s never been a better time to be a reader, as content, and I mean quality content, is being blown out like bargain basement discards.

That’s not so good for publishers, whose margins will be hit, and is especially bad news for indie authors, for whom pricing was the preferred weapon in their limited arsenal.

And I think it’s awesome.

All of it. Why? Because any mook can sell on price. It’s the first thing beginning sales people learn: selling on price is the easiest thing in the world, presuming there’s any market at all for the product, and the discount’s meaningful.

When I first started eying self-publishing, it was 2010, and selling based on price was the rage. Amanda Hocking and John Locke were seeing 200, 300, 400K units shifted in a relatively short time, largely based on their .99 price.

But a funny thing happened by the time I decided to jump in mid-2011. Already, selling books at .99 wasn’t working as it had the prior year. There was an increasing perception that .99 equated to junk. And if you put your work in that pricing tier, you were basically declaring it to be sub-par crap to an increasingly skeptical audience. There were exceptions to this rule, but frankly, readers caught on pretty quick, and as the novelty of being able to buy a book for .99 wore off, so did the tactic as an effective marketing practice. By the end of 2011, .99 was deader than Elvis.

Then along came free. Amazon’s Select program enabled authors to give away their books for free for 5 days, in exchange for exclusivity. The floodgates of downloads opened as shoppers raced to get theirs. Imagine…being able to get as many books as you wanted, at NO COST!

Which also started waning within six months, as Amazon began neutering the algorithms and free runs no longer had the post-sales bounce they had in December, 2011. I should know. I used the Select freebies as well as anyone ever did – I was running a new promo about every 10 days or so, and with my growing backlist, I could do it without repeating myself and saturating a title’s market. I went from literally dismal sales to stellar in one year. Woohoo! I was a contendah!

And then a funny thing happened. The novelty of free started fading, and it yielded lower and lower results as readers figured out they’d downloaded enough books to last ten lifetimes – most of which they would never get around to reading. I know. I’ve got probably 150 titles on my kindle, aside from the maybe 40 I still have to read from authors who sent me work I committed to looking at – and which I’m about a year behind on, now, because I suck. Point being I’m not an outlier – everyone I talk to has the same kindle cloggage.

And so free stopped being very viable. Enter perma-free, wherein you put the first book in a series free, hoping to gain visibility, give the reader a taste of your work, and lure them into purchasing the rest of the series. Which worked brilliantly. Especially when coupled with an ad in Bookbub.

Only that’s so 2013. Just as 2012 was the year of free, and 2011 was the year of .99, and 2010 was the year of, “holy crap, books don’t cost $15 any more!”

Now we’re seeing the perma-free strategy being adopted by most prolific authors, thousands of titles to choose from, and so…it’s losing effectiveness.

Why?

Because as the market matures, readers are becoming more selective. They’ve grown to understand that their most valuable commodity isn’t a few bucks, or a few MB of memory space – it’s their time.

And when you finally realize that time’s precious, and that books aren’t fungible – some are much better than others – you don’t waste your time with anything that doesn’t resonate with you, and doesn’t have the traits you demand out of a book. For me, that means a distinctive voice, quality editing, a compelling story, and an overall professional package.

I’ve long resisted the notion that I should reduce prices in an attempt to gain visibility (aside from the occasional sale). At <$5 for my backlist, prices are already reasonable. I’ve heard arguments that I could attract more readers if I lowered my backlist to $3.99, or $2.99, or .99, but guess what? Been there, done that, and I don’t. Apparently those interested in reading my work don’t really care whether it’s .99 or $4.99, and frankly, they seem much more willing to read it sooner if they spend a few more bucks on it. For a reason: their time is far more valuable than a measly buck here or there. As is mine.

Don’t get me wrong. When I see a James Lee Burke drop in price, I buy it. I just picked up a James Rollins title (I’ve never read him, but have heard good things) for $3. I resisted doing the same with Grisham because, frankly, last couple of books weren’t my cuppa, even though the man can write. So I’m as price-sensitive as the next. But if I’m looking for something to read, I also don’t mind paying $10 for something good. It’s just not that big a deal. Just as I’m willing to pay $15 for a great burger if that’s what I’ve been craving. There’s an exchange of value, and I’m okay with it. My needs are met, and the money we’re talking ain’t going to change lives. Nobody’s going to go without heat this winter or starve because of an extra $5 spent on an ebook, at least not in my neck of the woods.

I believe that trying to gain visibility using price, except in a very narrow, time-limited promotional sense, is a fool’s errand moving into 2014. That’s over. Indies no longer have an advantage. Not when you can get Grisham for $2.99 if you’re nimble.

So now indies must compete, as I’ve been counseling everyone who will listen for the last two years, on quality. We must find our audience the old fashioned way: by writing compelling books that resonate with readers and are noteworthy enough so they want to tell their friends.

We’re in a maturing market, and with a mature market, comes hardship as well as opportunity. Every year, new authors hit big. Every year names we’ve never heard of are on the bestseller’s lists. Lately, I’ve been noticing that those who are doing well are those who work extremely hard, and put out a high volume of quality content. Not content that literature professors will be comparing to Golding 30 years from now, but rather, content that’s connecting with their target readers, and that’s good enough to make the grade. Authors like Bella Andre, Holly Ward, Elle Casey, Melissa Foster are hitting the lists, not due to some freak lottery win, but rather because they put in long hours writing and marketing, and put out books at very regular intervals – some, literally monthly. That’s heartening, because it tells me that work and talent can converge and improve the odds of success in a business that’s harder than hell to make it in.

Where do we go from here? Or maybe, more importantly, how should newbie authors, or authors who aren’t quite there yet, proceed? My counsel is the same as it was 30 months ago, when I began publishing: read quality authors, work your ass off, publish with regularity, develop your own voice and style that nobody can replicate, make yourself essential to your readership, and put quality ahead of all other concerns when creating your product – your books.

I believe that quality and hard work will be increasingly important differentiators as the market matures. Which is good for everyone, because in a meritocracy where the reader is the ultimate arbiter, authors must raise the bar and deliver real value, and so, ideally, the best will prosper. Those who can continually up their game will have a much better shot at a career than those hoping for a miraculous hit.

If you look at my strategy, now with 25 novels out by year end, it’s never been dependent upon scoring a home run. If it happens, cool. But my approach has always been one of base hits or doubles. No home runs required. And I eat my own cooking. I publish regularly, ensure the work’s as good as I can make it, invest in covers, pro editing, proofing and formatting, and hold my readership in high regard. They’re smart, discerning, and deserve a top flight outing every time.

I think that’s going to be the new paradigm. Gimmicks won’t carry the day anymore. It will come down to the writing, even in genre fiction.

Which is as it should be.

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After spending some time looking at the Top 100 on Amazon with jaw agape, I’ve come to a decision.

I’m going to stop writing thrillers, and instead, focus on my New Adult erotic romance featuring a cat, namely 50 Shades of Yarn for Mr. Mittens. The cover will feature a strapping tattooed alpha male with abs of steel, sans shirt. And a cat. Or better yet, holding a basket of kittens.

The cover will be either B&W or sepia, depending upon what’s selling best next week. I figure if I start writing tomorrow, assuming I don’t drink too much again tonight and have to nap a lot to recover, I can have it knocked out by Monday. Tues on the outside.

Here’s the plot setup: The female protag with self-confidence issues and a weird-but-somewhat-hip first name (maybe Kylee) meets the alpha gazillionaire head of a specialty textile manufacturing conglomerate with a dark secret (who also has a similarly quirky name) and is immediately smitten, if initially slightly standoffish. Of course he’s smoking hot, brooding, and has a dark secret – and she kind of dislikes him at first, but quickly learns he’s not what he seems, mainly due to his traipsing around with his basket of kittens, sans shirt – a habit which she quickly warms up to. His favorite cat, Mr. Mittens, provides comedic relief with his madcat hijinks, and basically we’ll have about 75K words of marginally hardcore pseudo-kink after a flabby setup a slow preschooler could craft by pulling plot ideas out of a hat. No sentence will be over 7 words, and vocabulary will be limited to a max of two syllables – the more puerile the prose, the better, I say, because who’s got time for all those fancy-shmancy words they throw around in fifth grade to impress and intimidate people?

I’m thinking it should be good for seven figures, easy. My people are already talking to Ridley, and everyone’s excited.

I do this not to cash in on current fads, but because I’ve always felt a calling to write feline erotic romance featuring coming-of-age female protags lusting after hot rich hunks with borderline personality disorder…and a cat. I’ve repressed that part of my emotional spectrum long enough, and I think we’ll all be better for my setting it free to pen an epic series of kitty erotica that will leave readers breathless, while straining them little more than sounding-out TV Guide does whilst considering which rerun of Toddlers and Tiaras to watch.

Some might condemn me for my choice. Who are you to cast that stone, I ask? Who made you the final arbiter of merit, that you can mock my feline saga of forbidden love amongst the yarn balls? Perhaps your arrogant cynicism demands that you condemn me for my predilections, and you think I’m being less than sincere in creating a sweeping saga that will redefine how you view knitting, BDSM, quilting, and catnip. What of it, I say? Can’t we just live and let live, enjoying our literary popcorn without having to defend it? Ka-Ching may be a dirty word to some artistic snowflakes, but I’m not so haughty as to dismiss this celebratory exploration of tender sentiments and shameless smut with hasty judgmental declarations.

So without further ado, I’m hanging up my suspense hat and donning my leather mask with the zipper thing on the front and the red rubber ball for the mouth, which looks kind of uncomfortable and may be hot, but which I’m sure I’ll get used to with time, even if it does seem a little Lectery right now. I will do this for my readers, who are probably tiring of conspiracy theories and complicated, conflicted protags for whom this time it’s personal, and instead want some bondage and cat luvin’, maybe even with a gratuitous pony mention thrown in, just for one of my editors.

No need to thank me.

In the meantime, I’d suggest that you go buy my crap, so I can support myself while I work tirelessly to craft the best cat romance (w/between 5 and 8 hardcore sex scenes, and timely references to pop culture icons so I can show how with it and current I am) that I can. If you don’t do it for me, then do it for the children. Better they read the Mr. Mittens trilogy than experiment with bath salts or cutting or Satan worship, which is where it’s headed if I don’t get this book out sooner than later.

Now you can do your part and help keep our kids, cats, country, grandmas and puppies safe from those who hate us because of our freedom (and also our spying on everyone, but hey, don’t get me started, you hatahs). Purchasing a Russell Blake book, or better yet, a whole passel of em, is a vote for right thinking and the American way, and if you don’t buy any, the terrorists have already won.

All my work is vegan, celiac and gluten free, organic and macrobiotic and green and sustainable, even if manufactured by seven year olds with repetitive motion injuries in countries nobody cares about. So push that trough of freedom fries to the side and click “Buy” if you don’t want your neighborhood overrun with undesirables. And clowns, who will lie in wait to boogarize you and your family. Don’t give your enemies the chance to hi-step on your cold, lonely grave near a drainage ditch. It’s not worth it.

You’ve been warned.

And happy holidays, of course.

 

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6 Dec 2013, by

Odds and Ends

I’m finally done with my last two releases for 2013. BLACK Is The New Black and JET VI – Justice are in the can and at the editors and proofreaders.

Which has left me sitting around, staring blankly into space, wondering what the hell I’m going to do next. As an example of what I can get up to when not fully engaged, I have spent far too much time reading the reviews for this masterpiece: How To Avoid Huge Ships. Talk about hours of time suck. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I then got drawn into the masterful, 2009-2014 Outlook For Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China, starting with George Takei of Star Trek fame’s hysterical review for that tome. Which then took me to The Big Book Of Lesbian Horse Stories (which was a rip-off – there were no lesbian horses in any of the stories, and the book hardly could be called big – meh), which naturally then led to A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, and finished up with Uranium Ore.

When I came to, two days had passed.

Actually, I know what I’m going to do next – a final draft of the MS I will be shopping to trad publishers next year, which is a blockbuster, I think. As in a real, live, holy S kind of novel.

But once I’m done with that draft, I have a dizzy week or two before I start on BLACK 4, which will plunge our beleaguered hero into a reality TV show. My plan is to take some time off and smell the flowers (code for binge drinking), reconnect with loved ones (strip clubs), and do good deeds (you really don’t want to know). That should take me to about the 15th, when I start BLACK 4, followed by another JET, while it’s fresh in my mind.

One kind of cool thing that’s been happening is the bundle I assembled – 9 Killer Thrillers – with a bunch of my friends, has hit #7 in the UK store, and typically sits in the #60s-70s in the US store, which is shifting a lot of units between the two. Tens of thousands. Many tens. As in closing in on forty or so. Which makes it a resounding success, because the goal was to reach readers we otherwise wouldn’t have, and cross-pollinate. Which sounds dirty to me. But never mind.

Another cool thing is that, because I’m going to be shopping my new MS to trad publishers, I’ve taken a lot more time with it than my usual fare, partially because it’s longer (about 110K words) and partially because it was research and plotting intensive. But the end result was worth it, I think, and is probably my best work to date – assuming it doesn’t get laughed out of the building when presented. One never knows with trad publishers, but hey, nothing ventured, and all that… It’s a treasure hunt adventure novel that will be the first in an ongoing series that’s got a lot of heft to it. I’ve already got the rough idea for the next in the series, and all I’ll say is that it involves the Chinese, Myanmar, ancient treasure in a lost location, riddles, puzzles, conflicted good guys and unambiguously bad guys. Can’t wait to write it. But that’s next year’s task.

That’s about all I have. BLACK Is The New Black should be out before Xmas, and JET VI – Justice should hit about Christmas day, give or take. Maybe the 26. It’s all up to the editors now. Slackers. They seem to want to do stuff like eat and sleep rather than working on my important screeds. But it’s the holidays, so I’m filled with good cheer (we all know what that means) and nothing can sour my mood.

Except clowns, obviously. Bastards.

 

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