Tag Archives: promotion

Odd Word Metrics

I spent my morning trying to write promotional materials for the eventual release of Good Liniment.

It’s not the same as new fiction, but I got five posts roughed out. It probably doesn’t reach 2500 new words, but it’s fairly close. To finish them, I would need a blurb and some links. Those details will come later.

I ordered three new Lisa Burton posters for this release, and they came out wonderful. Sean Harrington really outdid himself on them, and they reflect items from the story. That made posts where she visits someone fairly easy to write.

I should have about that many more before I’m ready, then I need to figure out where I want to take this tour. I’ve done so many of these over the years they can be kind of tiring. I’m excited about the story, but not about promo. Probably a flaw in my personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the comments and responding, it just doesn’t work as well during the work week. I’m even considering some vacation time so I can be present in the moment, but work is too crazy right now.

I might even get a couple more written tonight, but I’m not committed to the idea.

This is the spot where I would usually insert a musical teaser for one of The Hat books. I try to hold back the posters for my hosts, but can’t resist sharing one today. They came out so good this time.

Lisa is taking Noodles for a walk in this picture. If you’d like to learn more about Noodles, you’ll have to come along when the tour starts, or even read the book. It’s coming soon, I promise.

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International Day of Awesomeness

Hi, gang. A little something special for you today. Sally Cronin has been a huge supporter of mine, both here, and at the Story Empire blog. She’s always there to share my new releases, and to review my books.

I’ve sold books on days when Sally posts a review or shares my newest news. She’s a very active blogger, and someone every author should get to know.

She also bundles up her promotions and posts a Weeky Roundup which gives authors a second bite at the apple. She does all of this without being asked, and never asks for anything in return.

She also covers such diverse topics as cooking, health, music, and more. She’s traveled the world, and lived in an interesting few sections of it. She’s also hosted her own radio show. Through it all, she’s managed to publish over a dozen books of her own. I don’t know how she keeps up with it all, but she does.

What I’m getting at here, is that Sally is a very interesting person.

Someone smarter than I am thought it would be wonderful to do a surprise blog blast on her behalf. I couldn’t agree more.

She’s benefitted my career, and helped us grow the Story Empire blog.

It’s the least we could do to try driving some of our traffic back her direction. I think Sally is someone you should get to know. Won’t you visit her site today, leave her a comment, and check out all she offers?

Just click this link, to visit her site.

This link will take you to her Amazon Page.

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My 2021 Assessment

This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.

2021 can…

Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.

Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.

Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.

Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.

Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.

This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.

This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.

I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.

One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)

One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.

With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.

This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?

I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.

To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.

I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.

I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.

Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.

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Assessing my promo

I’ve done an Amazon free day many times over the years. They used to work pretty well, then stopped being productive.

Back in the day, when Panama was a fairly new publication, I managed to hand out over 400 copies. After that, they seemed to taper off. Future attempts even had me paying for a bit of advertising and boosting posts on Facebook to help things along. Those netted me numbers around 40 – not 400.

I gave up on free days because of this. Any I held after that were more in support of something else I had going on. Meaning if I had a Halloween tour happening, I might have a free-day for The Playground, something along those lines.

I’ve been pretty “In your face” about my interview on Blog Talk Radio this week. I decided to set up my free days based upon my historic experience. Something to reward those who tuned in, maybe give away a dozen books. I never did a lick of promo other than a mention on this site.

I was kind of blown away by the result this time. I chose to have free days for Grinders, because I think it’s one of my best and deserved a bit more love. I also went with Serang. It’s a good story, and it’s also a stepping stone into The Lanternfish Trilogy. This idea stemmed from the idea that the final Lanternfish book will come out this year.

Now that it’s all over, I want to share the results with you. Maybe this is an anomaly, and maybe things have changed on the promo front. If you have deeper knowledge of this, I’d like to hear from you. Any readers might be interested in your comments, too.

The promo ran for three days. This was to take advantage of Fresh Ink Group’s advance promotion of the show, and to gather those who might have tuned-in the day after.

I managed to give away 1,646 books. Now that’s two titles combined, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. If I had sold that many it would cover the mortgage and Old What’s Her Face’s car payment this month.

The dream with freebies is that people will read them. I’ve found that comes to about 10% or even less. Even so, 165 readers can do nothing but help me. Of those I might net a dozen reviews. The other dream is that people enjoyed the stories and take a chance on additional titles.

Keep in mind that Amazon has a bestseller list for free titles. It probably doesn’t mean as much as the paid lists, but it always feels good to see your name on there. Serang peaked at #2 on two different lists.

Grinders actually hit number one for a while yesterday. Here’s the proof.

Okay, Urban Fiction is an odd place to put it. It hit #2 in cyberpunk. Still, we authors tend to work alone and haunt these sites looking for good news. Some days, even I get lucky.

You can still read them for free with Amazon Prime.

Rumor is, this kind of thing will spill over into sales. That remains to be seen. The giveaway ended a few hours ago, but I’ve already sold three copies of Grinders. (One of which immediately returned it for a refund.) I have no idea how to take that one.

Still, I’m happy. I failed to do anything productive yesterday and just allowed myself to enjoy it. I’m also motivated to keep going, and maybe one day I’ll see one of my titles take the top slot on the paid lists.

I’m a firm believer that the indie author group should share. I’ve shared results from almost everything I’ve done on the promo front. That includes some less successful pushes. Maybe someone out there can strike while the iron is hot. Maybe one of you holds some great secret you can share in the comments. We’d all like to know, and maybe we can all benefit.

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A busy day today

I just finished my interview on Voice of Indie. I had a great time, got to talk about my process and published work. We even talked about the two I recently finished that are coming soon. The show is over, but will be available in the archives at this link https://www.blogtalkradio.com/voiceofindie1/2021/07/22/voice-of-indie-episode-051

I set up two freebies to announce on the show. They promoted this in their newsletter, and the results were phenomenal. Check out these images.

Grinders peaked at #3 in its category. It’s still free for another 24 hours, so if you would like a copy take advantage of this promo. http://mybook.to/Grinders

Serang peaked at #2. Same rules apply. Free for one more day. http://mybook.to/Serang

Old What’s Her Face and I went to Zoo Boise this morning. I wanted to do this as soon as they announced their new Stellar’s Sea Eagles. This is because I designed the Omcrom from HMS Lanternfish from them. Covid took care of that for me, but today I visited them after the fact.

Sea Eagle

These guys are huge. They were a bit snotty and stayed where I couldn’t really see them until their misters turned on. This guy hopped right down to enjoy his shower and gave me this image. They are bigger than our bald eagles or even the golden eagles around here. Very impressive.

Lisa with the Omcrom

I also saw several varieties of hornbill. Their cages aren’t the best for photography, but I took some anyway. I used these guys to design the anvil bird from Lanternfish. I added the ability to speak and a bit more color, but this is the root creature.

Lisa with the anvil bird

We saw all kinds of things, but they were as hit by the heat as we were. Most were shaded up and sleeping. The red pandas were out, but we mostly saw a bushy tail hanging from their nest.

I got to see the gibbons which also excited me.

The blond one hung out on the ground and took advantage of the shade. This one was accommodating. I have something in mind for a gibbon in a future story.

It involves a comic book character called Special Agent Golden Gibbon. In my story, a couple of my characters are impressed with this fictional character in their world. One will be inspired to take some risky actions based upon what Golden Gibbon would have done.

This is me being weird again. My fictional story has a fictional creation inside it. I might even write some outtakes from the comic into the story once I start drafting it. How many layers of fiction is that???

We had a great time, and even picked up gyros on the way home. After all that heat, I took a short nap, then it was time for the radio show. It wound up being a great day.

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Wrapping up my long weekend

I already posted about all the family things and the Kentucky Derby. I didn’t get a mountain of stuff accomplished, but there is some.

I decided to put Lunar Boogie through Amazon’s machine. I like the way I can save a draft, review things, but not actually publish it. Stories in the hat series always have some last minute formatting issues. This is due to all the little graphics that go along with the stories. I even tried to use emojis at one point, but they didn’t translate.

I sent a message off to my formatter, and we’ll see what she can do about it. A few of the standard graphics moved around, too. That’s normal, and it’s nice to have a week or two to address everything.

I like to keep doing corny things in this series, because it’s part of the charm. Readers expect it, and it’s nice to change it up from time to time. I have plans to photograph a text thread eventually, then include it in a future book. Adding a photo should be just like adding a drawing.

I turned my attention to blog tour posts. Whenever I take a book on tour, I like to make every post unique. That way, I never feel bad about reblogging them all. They are more than a cover and blurb type post, and eventually I might snag a reader along the way. I have six written so far, but need a few more.

This morning, I turned my attention back to Lanternfish. It was moderately successful and involved Diego Palumbo doing some advance scouting and spying for Serang’s army. I created an unplanned situation that I like, but now I have to figure out what to do with it.

Diego tried to sell information to the Crier’s Guild about the new Royal Governor of Prelonia. He didn’t know whether the story was true or not, but hoped their reaction would either confirm or deny the rumor for him. He wound up being offered a position as a town crier in Hollish territory.

Diego accepted just to get the free gold. Of course he was always going to return to Serang. However, he now has the trappings of a town crier. Since Diego and Camila are cons, he could use these to spread false news that could wind up benefiting the Prelonian war effort.

Honestly, this happened on the fly, and I need some time to think about it. It could add a fun aspect to the story. Oh, and I actually used the word “miasma” in a sentence. It’s a good old-fashioned word that seems to fit the era of a Lanternfish tale. I like it.

All told, it only amounted to about half a chapter. No word count to post, because it wasn’t that big. I think it was a good section, and now I have to put the results of his spying into action. That’s a project for a different weekend.

Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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Business Plan 2021

It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.

I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.

Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.

A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.

Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.

It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.

For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.

This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.

The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.

Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.

I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.

Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.

By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.

I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.

The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.

Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.

I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.

I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.

Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.

This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.

Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.

Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.

Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.

My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.

Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?

They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.

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I owe you a post

During my downtime, there hasn’t been a lot to blog about. I’ve worked on promo and shared that here. The one time we got to go out I shared that with you. Sometimes life is just boring.

I paid the bills this morning and we’re already broke. That isn’t anything new around here. The skies have been so smokey it even affects my voice. Even the dogs are snotty right now.

We were promised rain, but only got around three drops. There was lightning, but it didn’t cause any problems in my locale.

I’m still trotting out the Friday teasers. Only one Friday left in September, then it’s time to publish. I’m hoping my last new Lisa Burton poster arrives in time, but if it doesn’t I’ll trot out an older Lisa poster along with a fun song.

I have a few blog things I need to finalize, or start, for appearances elsewhere. The first one involves getting a link to my new book. Timing is going to be important on this one.

Ultimately, I’ll start asking people to host me along the promotion trail, but not yet. I’ve fallen into the habit of writing tour posts as needed. Back when I pre-wrote a bunch of tour posts I also tended to get even more aggressive with my tours. This is both good and bad. It runs me ragged, but I may accomplish more, too. This time, it’s going to be the more leisurely couple of posts per week, and I can write them as needed. Some hosts have specific interested on their blogs and I can address those this way.

I failed on my reading goals this weekend. I feel bad about it, but our daughter came for a visit. Family comes first, now and always.

Old What’s Her Face is going to Nevada next weekend. That leaves me to watch the dogs, and there should be plenty of reading opportunities. I added an index card to one of my storyboards. That one is years down the road, but the board is coming along nicely.

Honestly, not a lot of interesting stuff happening right now. I’m okay with it, and kind of enjoying it if I’m being honest. Promo will start up soon, then I’ll start drafting a new book and things will pick up around here once more.

I hope you’re all being safe out there. Every corner of the country seems to have some kind of crap to deal with right now, and that’s beyond the universal crap of C-19.

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Back to writing

Today was my flex day, and I intended to make the pixels fly. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I’ll take it.

I decided to bounce back to Lanternfish. I’m right on the cusp of starting the end game of this book, which is the second of a trilogy. There were just a few bits of scene setting that I needed to address.

Don’t laugh, but I found a picture on Pinterest that relates to one of my characters. This will make a good Lisa Burton promotional poster, so I decided to write it into the tale. I even found some particular shoes this character needed. You never can tell what will inspire me.

Doing this gave me the opportunity for a root monster adventure, and I’m pretty happy with how that turned out, too. The downside is I didn’t crack 2000 words. I had a whole day, but it seemed to take forever to get all this down.

I’m happy with what I produced, and that’s what counts. I had the chance to write more, but quality matters and I feel this is good stuff.

I also ordered a cover and three Lisa Burton Posters from Sean Harrington. Both Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at about the same stage of completion. I had to pick one, so I went with Lanternfish. I sent Sean the ideas I have for the cover, and think it will look pretty cool. Now I need to wait patiently. I also have some great ideas for Lisa’s art, but those will have to happen after the cover comes.

In other news, I haven’t been on Twitter for two weeks now. I was a daily user, but it takes so much time. I’ve been tweeting out everyone’s blog posts and will continue to do so. I had some support over there and failed to reciprocate. I also had some new followers, and need to do something about all of them.

I checked in today and did what I could. I promise to try harder in the future. Twitter has been mildly productive for me, so I need to keep up on it.

I also sent off a promotional post for Grinders. It should go live by the end of the week, and I’ll share it here. I think it’s a good post and hope it draws some attention.

Tomorrow is another work from home day for me, so that’s about all I can manage. I got permission to take some time off at the end of the week, and may use some leave. I have hundreds of hours of leave available, and should use a little of it. It caps eventually. In that case, maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. That short story needs some attention and I should focus there.

Should focus doesn’t absolutely mean I will, but it kind of sounds like a plan. Sort of???

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Vacation day

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us at work. With everything pretty much settled now, I decided to take today off.

I didn’t have any specific goals other than not having to get up and commute. This week began with a return to Daylight Savings Time, included a full moon, and ends with Friday the 13th. None of those are particularly troubling. In fact, I published Viral Blues the last time Friday the 13th rolled around.

The news is depressing with all the viral scares going around. I was looking forward to baseball season, so that’s kind of disappointing. I understand why they’re making all these changes, but I don’t have to like it.

Fortunately for me, there is the writing thing. I need to address some critiques I have back, but I don’t have them all. With that in mind, I decided to add more words. It wasn’t a banner day, but 1600 new words are more than I had when I got up this morning. I kind of like them, but always reassess when my next writing day begins.

The tour for Grinders is ongoing, and I needed to deliver some materials for that. I think it’s time well spent. No sense publishing these things if I don’t try to make people aware of them. This tour hasn’t been any more productive than any of the others, but there is one noticeable difference. I’m enjoying it more. By only having two posts per week, I don’t feel rushed and harried to cover all the comments and such. Comments have been great, too. There seem to be more of them this time.

This could actually be a good thing in the long run. I buy books by earmarking them in my head, then getting to them when I have some time. I don’t always remember all the things I was interested in, and sometimes a reminder will send me running to Amazon. Perhaps, by spreading the posts out, I can have those little reminders online for those who are more like me.

Two years ago, I decided that writing my next book was my best source of promotion. It seems to be working to a degree. My backlist is getting more action than it ever has. It isn’t a lot, but it’s noticeable. More publications means I’m out there more frequently than ever before. Phase two of this idea will be some “specials” when my series books are ready to come out. It’s possible I might weave in a free day for one of the older titles, too. That’s all speculation. My main goal is to get the next Lanternfish book ready to set sail.

Those 1600 word might be all I accomplish this weekend. There could be a few more, but the story has moved to a point where I’m not stressing about it. If I can’t get it finished before Summer, I may just release it in the middle of Summer. I never have great luck with Summer releases, but I’ve been told the middle of a trilogy is a tough sell anyway. They usually don’t move until the series concludes.

I’m open to suggestions on that point. Let me hear from you in the comments. I’d like to learn your release day and promo secrets.

Oh, Public Service Announcement: Hiding in the closet with a copy of Grinders is a great way to spend the weekend and will not expose you to Corona Virus. It’s an E-book, so you can’t substitute it for toilet paper, but you won’t want to after you get into it.

On one of my last posts I tossed a photo of Otto out there to draw interest. Frankie demanded equal time, so here she is on one of the rare times when she pauses in her playing.

Being good, temporarily.

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