Cover reveal and news

So, I might have mentioned that I was going to release a book in February and that I'd show you the cover.

Today is cover reveal day for the February book.

But first the news:

This is not Blindsided. 
I might not get to Blindsided this spring after all. I'm going to try to get to it in March. After the March book is finished.
I'm not talking about the March book until February.
I might just write twincest before Blindsided. 
I am playing this all by ear right now.
My ear is telling me to write kinky shit that can't be published on Amazon.
And 'outtake' scenes... I don't have cutting room floor scenes. I very rarely ever delete whole scenes from books. I will delete whole paragraphs but I don't save them for later... usually if I delete it, it wasn't working and it is reworded and not worth saving. However, I do have internal 'conversations' with myself about scenes that I REALLY want to write, vs, scenes that should not be written at all, or won't work in the given story for various reasons.
I always wanted to write what happened in the limo after Jude and Slayer were dropped off, in Offside Chance. I thought about including that scene in the now cancelled Sunday Schooled... just for the what the hell let's see what happens fun of it. I imagine it would not be well received by most people. Because... well... it wouldn't be nice what I think they did...trapped in traffic... for an hour... or more... with tensions running high... and Livy all dressed up and... being Livy.

Did you ever just wonder what it would be like to pair up different couples? I mean, the idea of Levi and Dylan appeals to me in so many ways. And not romantically. But in this Dylan hates his guts and Levi is terrified of him... but... what if... 

Anyway... so, about the February book and what is it and why don't we know anything about it... and why do you tease and shit... 

Because I just made the decision earlier this month to release that book.... by that book I mean THAT book.

Book 3 may never be written. Just so we know. Depends on where this year leads me. And what Rabbit Hole I fall down in the second half of the year.

Writing takes a long damn time, people.

So THAT book is the follow up to In from the Cold.

Yes, I know I said I'd never publish it. But it's mostly written and just sitting there making me hate it every time I scroll past the file. I mean, unlike Sunday Schooled, which is barely even started and should not be finished... because cheating limo scenes will happen... Cold Shadow is mostly finished and has been for six years.

Is it good? I doubt it. It's early work. I might not have the right voice for the last four chapters. It's cheating... yes... It's Agent Drew Walker's story and it's a MMM... not an MF. Never has been an MF.
It will not have a HEA ending. It might have a HFN ending. It might not end well at all. It will not have a cliff hanger ending. There was supposed to be one final book to end this series. I might never write that one final book. You are being forewarned... because... well, the reasons I pulled the story in the first place are still very much in place. Read at own risk...

How's that for selling a book?
I suck at promo. That's more of an anti-promo thing.
I don't really think of the Cold books as romance. And I don't like rules. 
Looking for a sweet peek into Nathan and Quinn's happily ever after.... don't look here.
The title pretty much says as much.
Original title... Cold Shadow of Doubt... Current title:

Cold Shadow
by Mercy Celeste
cover art by Jay Aheer
Around Valentine's Day
maybe... I hope... as close as I can get it.



New Year...New Goals

I  personally don't believe that the date on the calendar makes much difference in anything. It's a mind set thing. Seasons change... more often outside of the deep south than inside it. We go from green and oppressively hot and humid to not so green and sometimes it's oppressively hot and humid and sometimes it's freezing. We tend to have parka days and flip flop days...sometimes in the same week...in winter. In summer...yeah, summers are gorgeous here, but miserable. That is not a mind set thing. Walk from the house to the car, sweat buckets.It's what we're used to. When the AC breaks it's a disaster of epic proportions.

I do believe that the mind does contribute to the overall outlook of life. 20016 was a bad year. Personally. And with each set back... yeah, it messed me up.

That was last year. 

Fiscally, I turned the page.

I'm hoping to turn the page mentally.

I'm trying people. I'm trying.

I don't make resolutions. 
I resolve to lose weight or this that or the other...ooh fried chicken...yeah, not so much.

I'm not making a resolution.

I'm not going to let last year continue to kick my ass. 

So... new year... new goals. 

Blindsided will come this year. I'm going to do a cover reveal later this month and a pre-order on Amazon for June 1st.

I plan to release two books before that. And I'm not ready to discuss them yet. One will release in February the other in March. Pending editing.

I'll reveal all three covers on my birthday.

I wouldn't talk about them if they weren't at least 75% finished. I have no clue what I'm doing in the second half of the year.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year filled with everything good.

I don't know about you but I would really love some fried chicken right about now.

Mercy

Picking up the pieces.

I feel like all I've done since June of this year is pick up pieces. In June, my husband was involved in a head on collision that was not his fault. He survived. Our car did not. The other driver didn't have insurance. We'd, stupidly, just dropped our insurance to liability only because we'd just paid it off. The state of Alabama does not protect people from uninsured drivers even though we have a law against driving with no insurance. The car is still sitting in my backyard with the front end crushed because we, stupidly, waited for a lawsuit to help us reclaim something. Anything. It never happened. The driver didn't appear in court. The case was dropped... because Alabama sucks.

My mother died in October with no will and no life insurance. I'm the next of kin. I paid for her funeral with the last of my savings. I may never recover what I will spend to settle her estate. I will never have any peace from the volatile relationship I had with her. I discovered she was a hoarder of garbage. Her house is filled with garbage. Literally, a landfill in my mother's home. I have a mound of bills with her name on it. One of which is her mortgage. I haven't paid it since she passed. I can't legally speak with anyone on behalf of her estate until I have power of attorney from the state of Florida. Probate is running slow because I have been waiting for her bills to start coming to me. She had nothing in her house. I can't go searching through it one more time...because mountains of trash bags open and spilling out years and years of food waste that are taller than me. I can't do it again.

I watched as Amazon's KU collapsed around me. I begged to have my books out of KU because half of them were being hit hard with the one page reads for entire books issue they had in late summer and early fall and possibly still have.

I watched as two books came out to near failure level sales. Two books in a popular series. Still to this day they have not sold together what the third book in the series sold in it's first month.

In six months.

Six months of trying to deal with life that got WAY too real.

I was on the phone with my husband when the woman hit him. Have you ever heard a car accident in progress? Do you know what absolute terror it is to hear your husband scream and then nothing but the sound of cars colliding and then car horns blaring? I do. He walked away. He lost his job but he walked away with nothing more than bruised ribs.

It's like the second half of this year has been one holy fucking shit storm after the next for me. Yes, this is personal. This is very personal.

I spent three months trying to drive sales to All Romance to make up for what I lost at Amazon. To try to keep going. I promoted and pitched and begged and pleaded for sales there.

Barnes and Noble isn't even in the game. Kobo is trying. I went to ibooks through ARe because I TRUSTED THEM. I lost all three months of sales at both places in one fell swoop. At least five hundred dollars.

I don't know how to pick up the pieces anymore. Or if it's even worth picking up the pieces anymore. I know it's not a lot of money. And it's not. Not really. Not in the grand scheme of things. But it was three months of sales that this person decided she needed more than I do because... it's hard having to downgrade from a million dollar mansion to a million dollar condo. It's so so hard.

So hard.

I've been reading the new reports as this unfolds. I'd cry but I'm afraid I'd never stop. I got off easy this time. I lost thousands when the owner of Silver did the same thing. I survived that. I survived it and I overcame. I survive Ellora's Cave.

I came the realization today that those two were amateurs. Complete amateurs compared to this woman. They just robbed from their relatively small stable of writers as compared to bilking the ENTIRE ROMANCE COMMUNITY for what will probably be millions of dollars when it's all said and done... because life is hard.

I'm not angry. I'm not. I don't have the energy to be angry anymore. I don't have the energy to give a shit. My give a shit button got broke somewhere along the way. I could laugh but it would come out this maniacal, insane sound... I'm not laughing. I'll cry. It's just five hundred dollars. But it was my goddamned five hundred dollars that was going to help pay my mortgage and feed my family and keep me from going into bankruptcy one more month. Because I have had more than my fucking fair share of people like that bitch steal from me.

I'm sitting here wondering if I want to put on the smile and go into next year with a positive attitude...no, wait, that was Monday night. Monday night I was teetering on the edge of...a cliff. I guess Tuesday was the cliff telling me it was time to make a damned decision. Write or walk. Trust. I DON'T TRUST ANYONE! Never again. My trust is gone. My ability to trust has been squashed like a roach. I can't do it anymore. Just smile and write and say that's okay...here, did you steal enough, would you like a little more...how about some blood... you can sell it.

This has been my publishing career. Silver Publishing. Cobblestone Press. Ellora's Cave. All of them fucked me over. Amazon isn't finished yet. And now All Romance.

Why is it such a horrible thing what All Romance did? I know you're wondering...if you're not, then bless you.

Because All Romance was the second best, for me, first some, after Amazon to sell our books. They were for romance. They were very pro indie and MM and they paid every quarter on time. They were the only place outside of Amazon that made it easier to not be completely owned by Amazon.

Why is Amazon so bad? Or why do you hate Amazon so much? It's not bad. Not really. They made self publishing a viable alternative to, well, never being published at all. They helped me break free from publishers who stole from me. They helped me become independent. I don't hate them. I have never hated them. As the market has changed and they seek to destroy all other forms of publication...yes...I said it. Amazon has made no secret that they wish to control, dominate, and eventually own publishing. They've driven the market since 2010. They're forcing similar sites like Kobo and Barnes & Noble out. Those sites aren't fighting back. They're surviving. For now. As Amazon pushes Kindle Unlimited and features books on Kindle Unlimited ahead of non KU books they are pushing small publishers out of business. Small publishers we need. They are forcing hold outs into compliance. And then, things like the glitch in their new page flip feature happens and they refuse to admit that there is a problem and they make money but the authors don't....it's another form of theft. You must not have your book anywhere else to be in this program...you will not be paid a full royalty, but the EXPOSURE, will more than make up for it...oh wait our new feature is only reading books as one page read...here's your half cent for that page...thanks for playing. I literally was paid two whole pennies for four page reads in Italy last month. The conversion rate didn't even bring it up a cent. That would have been four whole books. Probably more like four dollars depending on which book it was.

I don't trust Amazon anymore. I tried to get out. I was hoping to rebuild. One more damned time. Go wide. Drive more readers to ARe and Kobo and ibooks...B&N is useless. I was hoping. I lost more than half of my off Amazon income for the past three months on Tuesday. I didn't make enough on Amazon to absorb the loss this month. Because I'm not in KU. And KU is how you make money at Amazon now.

Are you following me? I am not just whining to hear myself whine. There is a purpose behind all this. I swear.

On Tuesday when the email came and social media blew up... No one saw that coming. NO ONE! There was no warning that something that vile was going to happen with a ten year old TRUSTED romance community ally. None.

So what does it all mean? The entire romance community took a massive hit. Not just a handful of authors at some ragtag publishing house. Not just some missing pages read in certain books. This is bigger. This affects everyone from reader to publisher with the authors being trapped in the middle.

I'm sure when New York returns to work on Monday or Tuesday, they will survive. I'm sure she covered her ass with the only people that mattered...meaning who could afford to go after her ass for fraud and embezzlement and any other little detail she could think of. I am sure she covered that base because those people matter and they have big lawyers and lots of cash. I'm sure they'll absorb it. I can only hope they absorb it and pay their authors. Because New York is notorious for not paying their authors. Which is why more and more authors are self publishing who once were with New York publishers.

The small presses are going to cover their authors. At least most of the ones I've seen today say they are. The ones worth a damn. They're going to make sure their authors get paid for those sales. Those small presses will take a massive financial hit because of this. MASSIVE. Three months of sales on the second largest romance distributor...for several hundred books... yeah, the small presses are going to feel this one in the bottom line. Best hope is that they can survive until summer. Some will not. I'll be willing to say that many will not survive this.

Self published authors...well, we're used to it. We get screwed, we pick up the pieces and carry on. It's why most of us are self published in the first place. We'll figure it out. Five hundred dollars isn't much after all. Just two weeks of food for my family of four and four pets. That I worked for three months to earn so that we could eat in February. I'll sell some blood or something.

Readers... unfortunately this falls on you to help fix.

Even if you didn't lose any of your library. Or were stuck with their credit vouchers.

This is going to be on you to help the romance community survive. Beyond New York.

Who are your favorite authors? What publishers do you wish to never see go under?

One clicking isn't going to save some of these publishers.

You're going to have to break the one click habit...and yes I am very guilty of this as well.

You're going to have to go back to the way it was before when you went to the actual publisher and bought books directly from the source.

Why?

Because Amazon takes 30% off the top, before the publisher takes their cut, and then the author gets what's left. If you shop at the publisher the publisher gets 100% of your money, and the author gets a higher percentage. No middle man. If more people did that, publishers won't go under.

For self published authors... most of us find ourselves with limited options right now. We can't reach all of the distributors that a publisher can. Not many places are open to self pubbed books. We have the options of Kobo and Barnes and Noble left without going through a site like Smashwords or D2D who take an additional percentage off the percentage before we get our cut three months later.

Some of us have set up direct publishing on our pages. If you see a direct pub link from an indie, please use it before you oneclick. I'm using Payhip. It's owned by Paypal. It goes directly to my paypal account. I get 90% of the cover price as opposed to 70% and I get it now. Not in two months.

I know you're all hurting for money. Money is tight. I know this very well. Some of us do have books back in KU. If you need the KU, just make sure you read it in the full page mode and not that flip page thing.

And please understand that none of this is the author's or publisher's faults. None of it. So many of them and us are trying to make it all right as best we can.

Thank you for your time,

Mercy

What I think on the matter.

I shut down early last night and sent the DH to Steak n Shake on his way home from work for a late night triple cheese burger (what? those patties are skinny as fuck, it's like one thick burger patty) and a strawberry shake no whip... I don't like whip cream. I think I might be the only person on the planet who doesn't like whip cream. We watched a couple hours of recorded television. And went to bed super early. I don't know... it's like that's what I needed: just get me a damned cheese burger and a milk shake and let me sleep.... I slept 9 hours straight. Had weird fucking dreams that aren't a damned think like I usually have. Now I'm up way too early and none of that from yesterday was a dream....

Okay... so... I did not know that once the books were removed from ARe that they would no longer be accessible to buyers. That's insane. I can't put them back up. Some of them are no longer available to return to that site. My apologies.

I have no clue what to do next. I mean my god, I've been in Kindle Unlimited most of the past two years with nearly every book. I'd just decided to go wide again and stay wide...conveniently in October. I had like ten bucks or something in sales in September on that site.

The problem is, Amazon's page read issue hit me very hard and it is still a problem. That has not cleared up and gone away. I pulled the books that had no issues with the single page reads more than a week ago and returned them to KU. None of those books, with the exception of Lagniappe, had sold a single copy in wide release for two months.

I left the books that were heavily affected by the single page reads and the ones that are selling well on Kobo... Kobo was my only factor for leaving a book wide, strangely enough.

Lagniappe never sold a single copy on Kobo or Barnes and Noble, but it did sell 20 copies on ARe this month, which is most of my sales there this month.

I've been waiting for ARe to update their sales page with the ibooks sales data from November...they haven't as of last night. I've been wondering what was happening there. I didn't have a good feeling about that...and yet I didn't suspect anything close to what really was about to happen.

Sooo.... here I am waking up to find it wasn't a dream and that I'm once again dealing with fraud and theft and bullshit.

I was published with Ellora's Cave for eleven years. That nonsense only came to an end early last year. Not that they owed me money. The books there didn't sell well (at least to my knowledge) and the republished books haven't sold at all under my Mercy pen name.

I was with Silver Publishing. I had a massive best seller with them. Massive. 90 plus days on the Amazon top 100 every gay chart in existence. It stayed in the top 10 for 90 plus days. And I was paid...pennies on the dollar...I had two more books with them that I never saw a single penny for before the owner skipped the country (supposedly).

I've been with five publishers. I really liked my experience with one of those publishers. Just one. Liquid Silver Books. They're small but they treated me right.

I've self published since 11-11-11. Five years. I've done well. This year I have not done well. This year everything changed. And I can't place my finger on what exactly changed and how. The page reads? I don't know. Maybe. It was off before that.

I went wide because I feel that Amazon has turned it's back on the beast it created. I fear for the future as an indie.

I see you shaking your head. I see you thinking this chick is paranoid as fuck.

Five years of data. FIVE! I'm fairly sure I am qualified to say...hey, shit ain't working right and something is up. 
Something is up.

I don't sell well at Barnes and Noble and I never have. Never. They could close tomorrow and I wouldn't miss the twenty or thirty bucks a month... okay, this year I would.

Ibooks is still an unknown entity to me. I've only had self pubbed books with them since June. I can't speak as to their abilities. I don't own a Mac computer of any kind, you can't directly publish with ibooks without a Mac computer of some kind, I assume an ipad would work, I don't have one of those either. I chose ARe to aggregate my books them...aggregate is the word ibooks uses. It means to play middle man. I know that for the past few months I've outsold ARe three to one on ibooks. Most of the money I've earned from ARe came from ibooks since June...and that's for limited books. November and December had most all of my books there.....and no data whatsoever will ever be forthcoming.

So... what do I do this morning? I'm down to Kobo and Barnes and Noble for sales outside Amazon. I have two books that can't be put into KU. One that can't go on Amazon at all.

Kobo is a decent sort of site. It sells to international countries where Barnes and Noble doesn't. I make more there than I did on ARe and ibooks combined.
What about Smashwords? Truth be told, I simply don't like Smashwords. I don't like anything about them. They paid on time. I guess that's about it.
I have never tried D2D, they're simply an aggregator as for as I know. I prefer to go directly to the source. Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Amazon... you can publish directly to them without an ISBN. Ibooks is the only one I can't get to directly without an aggregator of some kind.

I don't trust Amazon. I've lost my faith in them...limited as that was.

I'm very worried about the future of indie publishing. Very worried. If you're shaking your head... let me ask you about yesterday and how you felt when you got that email? I did not see that coming. The data does, however, support that it was coming. Two years ago I made several thousand dollars each quarter with ARe. Before KU. After KU, I was lucky to make more than a couple hundred straight from them a quarter. I keep excellent records. I'm anal like that.

I'm scared.

Shake your head all you like. Five years of data... and all I can tell you is that next year is not going to be good for indies. Or anyone else. Of course, my data is my data and I don't have access to any other data so... I could be wrong. It could be just me.

Mercy

Urgent Request

All Romance ebooks announced today that they are closing, effective December 31. Three nights from now. 

This came as a complete shock to everyone.

Along with this news came the horrible announcement that they would not be paying fourth quarter royalties unless the publisher/author agreed to accept a 10 cent on the dollar settlement and sign a waiver agreeing not to sue them.

I have chosen not to sign that waiver. I will not be paid for any of the books I had for sale through them.

Unfortunately, this doesn't affect just my ARe books, it also includes ibooks as well. I should make this very clear... this is not an iBooks issue. This is for books that ARe hosted to iBooks on my behalf. iBooks is the only site I can not get to directly and needed an approved aggregator. I chose to go with ARe because I trusted them. Stupidly, I guess. And because listing through them was easy and they paid me...sighs.

So, as of right now all of my books are no longer available on the ARe site, but it takes longer for iBooks to de-list the books on a normal basis. I don't know if this will be a normal de-listing. 

I do know that any purchases made from either site for any book hosted through ARe will not be paid to the publisher/author.

I would like to ask you, kindly, not to purchase any of my books through iBooks for the foreseeable future. I may never publish with them again but if I do I'll let you know.

Thank  you for your time,

Mercy Celeste

One Day of Christmas: Christmas Eve

Or Happy Anniversary to me. Whatever you wish to call today.

28 years ago on a Saturday much like today at two in the afternoon on the shore of Lake Seminole in the town of Sneads...I got married. I was 19.

Not going to say it's been all sunshine and rainbows. Marriage is work. It hasn't been all gloom and doom either.

I'd say emphatically don't get married on Christmas Eve. Especially if you plan to have children. It's not a bad date to get married. It's a horrible date to celebrate an anniversary if you have a mind to doing anything after five o'clock and without everyone in town vying for a spot at where ever you wish to celebrate. As in going out to dinner is a nightmare. We've done anniversary lunch more often than dinner. And spent the evening wrapping gifts.

There was that one year in which the husband was robbed and pistol whipped the night before and we spent it in the ER.

Mostly it's been fine. He's worked a few of them. Like today. Not many. He traded off today for Monday. We've learned the hard way. It is what it is.

I didn't get around to wrapping gifts the other night. I'll have to do that tonight.
It is what it is.

I think that's life.
I think if you can get through life with it's ups and downs and survive it, then that's something.
It is what it is.

It's not a motto I wanted. It's the motto I have.
It is what it is.
We'll get through this. We'll carry on. It didn't kill us. We're good.
It is what it is.

2016 has not been a kind year for the most part. We've lost family. We're still alive. Money is very tight. We're still alive.
One more year that we didn't call it quits.
It is what it is.

Move forward. Keep moving. Keep going.
I think that's all anyone can ever expect out of life and marriage is no different. If it is meant to be...or should be...then move forward and get through it all.

Anyway...

Wishing everyone a Happy Weekend and a merry joyous holiday of your choice.

See you in the New Year.

Peace!

Mercy