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Do you KU?

If you do, whether as a reader or a writer, then I bet you've heard of the best thing since dark roast coffee - KENP.  It stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count and it's the way Amazon now measures page reads by Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. Beginning July 1st, writers with books enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program will not be paid per borrow, they'll be paid per page read, meaning, per page as pages are counted by Amazon. It's created a whole new obsession for writers.

Beginning in the wee hours of July 1st, KU authors were huddled over their keyboards with their screen locked on the Amazon KDP reports page, clicking one key, just one key.  Y'all know what that was, right?  Refresh... refresh... refresh.

Yes, my creditors and I are most interested in seeing those page reads rack up.  We don't know what the Zon will pay per page. It will be a rolling target like the old pay per borrow system.  But what we do know is that our payout will be based on pages read. So, like I said, the goons... err, bill collectors... and I have a very vested interest in seeing those KENP numbers rise.  But I've got a secret that I keep from the goons. I'm gonna share it with you, but you've got to promise not to tell them, okay?

I'm really most excited by the new KENP system because now I can see that readers are READING my books.  It's why I write, after all.  I can tell my stories to myself in my head where I see them play out on my inner movie screen.  And after I get to the happy ending of one tale, I can begin to tell myself another. I think we all do that, to some extent, don't we?  Perhaps not, and it's uniquely a "writer's thing." I wouldn't know for sure, having only ever lived in my head. But I choose to believe that many people create stories for their own inner consumption.  What makes a writer is that some of the inner tale tellers aren't satisfied unless they share their stories with other people.

I'm one of those people driven by a rather terrifying need to share my stories. And it is terrifying.  Although the wee, small sane part of me knows that not everyone shares my devotion to over-the-top love stories that are bigger than life, the bad reviews (all writers get them) used to hurt a lot.  The only way to survive the process, for me, has been to stop reading reviews altogether. Oh, I'm not perfect, so once in a while I'll take a quick, quick glance at the top two or three reviews on my "Mary Anne Graham" and "Olivia Outlaw" author central pages at Amazon, but by and large, I've learned not to do that.

KENP gives me the carrot without the stick. I can check and see the pages read adding up and feel a bright, shiny, inner glow.  And I can do it without dreading the people too sane to enjoy a crazy duck lady's stories.  It's all the good with none of the bad and there are very, very few things in life like that.  The only problem with KENP is that it's addictive - surely getting that wild rush from seeing that readers are reading my stories beats any drug ever manufactured legally or illegally. So yes, I admit it --  I'm Kookoo for KENP.

As addictions go, it's not a bad one to have.  This one makes me some money and gives me some happiness.  There's only one thing that would make KENP even better and that's seeing the numbers rise higher, and higher and higher.  It would let me know that more and more and more people are reading my work.

If you're a Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscriber - and really, everyone should be - then here's your new mission --- READ.  Yes, read more.  Read a lot.  Read every page ever written by Mary Anne Graham and Olivia Outlaw.  And once you have, then you Tweet and Facebook and blog about how everyone else should do the same.

It's time for KU subscribers to realize what VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE they are and to understand that they need to cease doing all the things limiting their reading.  I mean, if you're a Big Enough VIP to be a KU Subscriber then you have more important things to do than go to work, go to school, study, cook meals, clean your house or do laundry.

If you're a KU Subscriber then you're a READER and readers should be READING.  Just print off a copy of this blog post and give it to your boss, your spouse, your kids, your boyfriend or girlfriend or your professor.  They'll understand that you're a reader who has found his or her destiny.

And I only have one thing left to say to you.  Why are you still here?  Go - read, read... and then, read some more.

This week, at last, at long - long last, Amazon announced a change in the pay structure to authors with work enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.  The change won't just reward writers, it will also reward readers who will now have access to longer books and bundles that writers previously kept out of the program. We'll have to see how it works out because the devil is always in the details, but it looks like Amazon's about face will benefit everyone who plays fair.

Beginning July 1st, KU authors will be paid per page read rather than per borrow. Pay per borrow is the current system.  It resulted in scammers getting rich and working authors being penalized.  Because there was no minimum length for books, the scammers would throw together and upload very short and poorly written pamphlets full of a hodgepodge of useless information culled from the internet.  The pamphlets often feature provocative titles, prompting readers to pick them up and open them.  Because they are so short, when opened to or past the title page, the reader has read 10% and the writer --- err, scammer - gets paid.

The KU payment "pot" is a set fund, and money was paid per borrow.  That meant that the money going to line the scammers pockets wasn't going to authors who took a lot of time and a lot of effort to produce a product that would genuinely entertain or inform readers. It cheated hard working writers, but it also cheated readers who plunked down their hard-earned cash for Kindle Unlimited membership.

How are KU users cheated by the current system -- and how will they benefit from the new one?  They're cheated because writers keep their longer books and bundles out of KU currently and they'll benefit because beginning July 1st, many more of those longer works will be available.  Still, the change isn't universally popular with writers because many of them adapted their work, or structured it, to benefit from the current system.  And now, the authors who built up a huge volume of short stories and very short work will have to change their strategy again.

Personally, I'm ECSTATIC about the change. I try to write books that will hook readers and keep them reading from beginning to end.  I hope that the new system will prove that I'm meeting that goal.  And, I'll be putting into KU the bundles that have been kept out up till now - The Forever Series Bundle, The Dangerous Relations Bundle and The Sultan's Toy Bundle. Mr. Duck has even been hard at work on our newest one - The Carnal Collateral Bundle.  It's up and available for purchase now at Amazon.  On July 1st, the devilishly delightful series will join the other bundles in being available to KU readers.  We hadn't even created the bundle before because we'd never have put it into KU under the current pay structure.

Thank you, Amazon.  I've given you a hard time about the unfairness of the pay per borrow system.  So I want to take a minute to express my appreciation for your considering the problems and making the change.  I do not share the fear and paranoia running rampant in parts of the writing community.  I'm anxious for the new system.  It'll let me know if I'm doing my job right as a writer and, if I am, it will reward me accordingly.

To me, the new system sounds like a HEA - Amazon style.

Dear readers and authors everywhere - Shall we break out the champagne? The royals have thrown open the castle gates to admit within the sacred walls the indie authors who dared to take their work directly to the people. Post Indie Revolution the eyes of at least some of the royals are opening to realize that in depriving writers of a chance, the gatekeepers also deprived the royals of a choice. It's a new day, and in the dawn of the light of freedom and possibility, the crown lies where it has always belonged -- upon the head of the reader whose finger hovers over the buy button.

Yes, publishers are blinking and as their eyes adjust to the blinding light of the new dawn, they are seizing some of the control they formerly ceded to literary agents.  Check this out:

Publishers are playing literary agents at their own game, seeking out new talent for themselves and cutting out the industry’s powerful middlemen.

Executives within HarperCollins, Jonathan Cape, Little, Brown, and Tinder Press are inviting “un-agented submissions”, marking a dramatic cultural shift for an industry having to readjust to developments such as self-publishing, as well as the often huge advances demanded by agents for coveted titles.

"Publishers Bypass Literary Agents To Discover New Talent", The Guardian, Dalya Alberge.

I'm not a'tall surprised to find that one of the leaders of the new movement in publishing shares the name of a certain duck lady.  Mary Anne Harrington of Tinder Press, Headline publishing's literary imprint noted that in relying upon gatekeeping literary agents, perhaps publishers have been "drowning out other, fresher voices."   You think?  It figures that one of the first publishers to get a clue would be blessed with a duckly moniker.  Quack back at'cha Mary Anne Harrington.

Another 'got a clue' lady has a different name - but hey, we can't ALL be named Mary Anne, can we?  Katie Espiner, a publisher at HarperCollins imprint, Borough Press, awoke in the bright sunlight to an epiphany - she was allowing other people to make her decisions. She promptly held an open submission that discovered a promising new author because:  she wouldn't allow other people to make her choices for her in any other area of her life.

The gate-opening trend among publishers has prompted some literary agencies to cast a wider net - but at least one is doing it with a Jekyll and Hyde mentality.  Agency Curtis Brown is holding a writing course that has discovered 15 debut novelists over the last 2.5 years.  Yet the chairman of that very same agency, Jonathan Lloyd, retains enough of the royal mentality he acquired working at HarperCollins during the Castle era to remain skeptical of publishers actually making their own choices.  Lloyd said, publishers “don’t have the resources, time and energy to deal with the flood of manuscripts that they’re going to get. And they won’t be filtered.”

I'm happy that publishers are finally descending from their ivory towers to seize their companies' destinies in their own hands. And I'm delighted that literary agencies are awakening to discover that they have to get out and find the talent because writers no longer crawl to their doors in such great numbers.  But I'm still one of those writers who left the beggars' line at the dawn of the indie revolution.  I don't even own a hat and groveling on bended knees gives me leg cramps.

If a literary agent, publisher or big shot movie producer is insane enough to take a flier on romance or erotic romance by a crazy duck lady who publishes as Mary Anne Graham and Olivia Outlaw -- I'm easy enough to contact. This blog has a "contact me" link in the upper right corner and I bet Amazon or D2D would be glad to steer any legitimate inquiries my way. Otherwise, I'll continue to write my stories where lovers get the happy ending that reality too often denies.

Y'all keep reading and I'll keep writing.

A fun new MTV article talks about Fifty Shades of Grey fans who want to pay PERMANENT homage to the books.  Yes,  there are people who have various Fifty-related images and sayings tattooed on their persons -- in various and sundry locations.

Don't get me wrong, I like "Laters, Baby" as much as the next Christian Grey fan, but I don't want it emblazoned on my chest, neck, fingers or toes. And I really don't want Christian's tie tattooed on my ankle.  (Why would you have a tie tattooed on your ankle?)

IMHO, the most devoted of the tattooed fans in the MTV piece is the one with quotes from the book inked on her body.  Yes, that's right.  Check it out for yourself.  By all the ducks in the pond, I don't even want quotes from my books tattooed on my skin.

Someday these ladies are going to have children and they will have to explain that key to the "red room of pain tattoo" not to mention all the sex toys.  Good luck with that.....



I just read a very interesting piece on Yahoo Finance (of all places) about successful indie romance authors. It's titled:  "These romance writers ditched their publishers for ebooks and made millions."  The piece focuses on a number of now indie authors who were first published traditionally: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy and Courtney Milan.  They are the indie answer to publishing's "Big 5" - Andre, Freethy and Milan are the indie "Big 3."

I wonder if they'd mind adding a member?

The piece points out the speed at which all three ladies turn out new books, which is something I truly, truly envy.  They're able to do it, of course, because writing is their life and their livelihood.  I'd devote myself to writing full time, gladly, and I've been hoping to do that for some time.  But until my writing income outpaces my legal loot, I'll keep trudging to my office where I'm thankful my boss can tolerate having an insane duck lady churning out pleadings, memoranda, briefs, opinion letters and all sorts of other legal scribbling.

The income numbers for all three ladies are very impressive.  You go, lady love-scribes.  I hope to join you soon.

...continue reading "Indie Romance Authors Flourish"

Unfortunately, this week I had a close encounter with a dentist. I say unfortunately, not because this dentist and his team aren't amazing (He's even smart enough to have an office manager named Mary Anne) - I say it because I have a deep and profound terror of dentists.  I have the same feeling about ophthalmologists.  I know I fail in both areas so I feel like I'm taking a test I know in advance I will fail.  But some encounters can't be avoided, and thanks to a riled and rowdy tooth, this was one of them.

It turned out that the tooth and I had to part ways, so I saw the dentist twice this week.  At one point, we discussed my romance writing and the dentist mentioned how much his Grandmother loved reading Harlequins. I enjoy reading those too, but they're not my first love.  My first love is reading historical romance. My dentist's comment made me think back to the beginning, the first time I encountered the genre.  I picked up a book at the public library and started a love affair that still burns strong today. Yes, the book I found was the one that started it all.  It created a genre and blazed a trail for future authors to follow, including a certain crazy duck lady.

The late Kathleen Woodiwiss had a 600 page MS titled "The Flame and the Flower" and she believed in the book.  It was rejected across the board by agents and publishers of hardcovers, so she submitted it to paperback publishers directly.  The first on her list was Avon, and it snapped the book right up.   From an initial 500,000 run for its first publication in 1972, the book sold over 2.3 million copies in its first 4 years -- and it created an industry.

Woodiwiss wrote historical romance.  I suppose the term was invented to describe her work.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips - a NY Times Bestseller and absolute genius at her craft -  says that "We all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into."  Another of my favorite authors, Julia Quinn, says "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

You know what Woodiwiss brought to the literary world?  Passion.  She created heroines readers adored from the first page and paired them with deeply flawed heroes. Her work, like most of the early historicals, have been criticized by the PC Police as "glamorizing" or "advocating" rape. Today people call her books and the early historicals "bodice rippers."  I find all of that to be hogwash.  I'd agree with a review on the "Amazon" site by "A customer" who says that perhaps the heroes in Ms. Woodiwisses' work should have been redeemed earlier.  Or, if not redeemed, that readers should be given more reason to like and understand them a bit earlier.

But it's hard to criticize Woodiwiss too much because the passion in her stories is as contagious today as it was back, lo, many years ago when I first found "The Flame and The Flower" in the library as a young teen.  The characters carry her story and they carry the readers right along for the journey.  I think readers today wince too quickly and put stories down too fast. If they read a little further, they would experience more than a bodice being ripped. Maybe, they'd ignore the opinions of others and realize for themselves that in a Woodiwiss book, the hero dominates physically, but the heroine dominates emotionally.  In the end, it is the heroine's love that saves the hero.

Ms. Woodiwiss is no longer with us, but her work lives on and today, it is available at Amazon for your Kindle.  If you're an independent free thinker who doesn't follow the herd (like a certain duck lady), then I suggest you boogle on over to Amazon and pick up the book that started it all.  Give "The Flame and The Flower" a read for yourself and see if you can find in the book the seeds of brilliance that started a genre.

The lesson I take from it all is that if a writer creates strong characters, puts them in an interesting situation and listens very hard - they will tell her their story. And if it's done right, the passion in the tale will continue to burn bright enough to illuminate readers for generations to come.  That's my hope, every time I sit down at a keyboard.

Oh, and BTW, if you pick up "The Flame and The Flower" and read it for the first time, you might boogle back by and leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  I'd love to discuss!


I've been working on Olivia Outlaw's new m/m erotic romance - an "Isle of Bliss" novel. I've gotten more writing done this weekend than in the last few put together.  You know who I have to thank for that?  Amazon.

Yes, that's right, the source of  most of my writing income has now put out an excellent tool to help me increase it. It's the new streaming music service for Amazon's prime customers. I thought the free book borrows, free movie and TV streaming and the two-day shipping were already great reasons to pay for Prime. The streaming music service absolutely earns its keep and, in my house, more than pays for itself.

The single greatest enemy to my writing is distraction.  The story must flow in my head.  I have to be with the characters, in their skins, to know what they are going to say and do.  Television is a wonderful thing but if my head is in a program then it's not in my writing.  Sometimes, I can have a news channel or a reality program in the background and that works until something catches my attention - which is what the programs are designed to do, after all - and bingo - I'm distracted.

Music is great to write to and I love my oldies. To me, the best years of music are between the 60's and the 80's.  Not too much great stuff has been written or recorded since then, save for a few things in the 90's. We have a local station in Myrtle Beach, Sunny 103.1, and it play's some great stuff. I Heart Radio has a Great Classic Oldies station that also spins some fine stuff.  And I often listened to Q105 out of Tampa Bay, Florida to get the beat of my writing.

The problem with all of the great online radio is that sooner or later something would play that I didn't like or an annoying ad would play and it would be a lot louder than the music.  Either distracts me into changing the channel, looking for a new one, or leaving my writing and boogling over the the internet. Then the flow is gone and writing is all about the flow.

Amazon's streaming music for Prime changed all that.  I download my favorite music. It's a mix too eclectic for any radio station.  Seriously, on my streaming Prime I have pop, disco, rap, country, gospel, metal, and patriotic music. I have Corey Smith's "Carolina" - one of the great tunes of all time.  I have Susan Boyle's "Hallelujah." And, on Father's Day as this is written, I'm very glad that I have Judy Collins' "Amazing Grace."  It's the best version of the hymn ever done or that can ever be done.  My late Father ran an upholstery shop and when that song played, he would stop whatever he was doing, his face would glow and he would be happy. It's how I remember him.

I presently have 234 songs from 16 different genres streaming.  And the service has a music player that shuffles so no matter how I uploaded the songs - grabbing all the Charley Daniels in a row or two versions of "Hallelujah" - it plays randomly. If I'm not in the mood for one then I hit skip, knowing the next tune is one I'll also love. And while the music plays, if one spins I really like, then I look in the sidebar.  Just like the "readers also bought" feature, Amazon will tell you about the songs people who got this one also bought.  And there's another one to snag for my collection.

So, I'm tossing a big "THANK YOU" to Amazon for the streaming music service. It keeps me primed for writing which makes me happy, keeps me out of my family's hair, and makes my creditors feel like dancing. And if you're not already a Prime customer, then the streaming music service is the best reason going to join today. If you're a creative type then you can't afford not to have streaming prime music because it'll keep you in the same place it keeps me - flowing towards a happy ending.



Of late I've been following some of Konrath's advice - well, I didn't know it was Konrath's advice, actually, until I read a great writing blog in my Twitter stream.  Konrath says more writing and less of everything else.  Unfortunately, that has led to......  less blogging as well.  However, the recent piece by William Giraldi for New Republic has been stewing around in my unstable brain recently, demanding a response.  I've dusted off my soapbox for the occasion.

Have you read Giraldi's piece?  It is absolute proof that judgmental ignorance still flourishes amongst those who consider themselves 'better than the masses.'  What masses?  Well, their readers, their fellow writers, pretty much everyone with any other opinion.  Yes, those people.  I'd bet Giraldi is a card-carrying member of the P.C. Police and anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of those specimens.

Giraldi's piece is part book-review (read book hatred) for a book by a woman, Eva Illouz, discussing and analyzing the "Fifty Shade of Grey" affect on culture and society.  From the perspective of the New Republic article, I expect that one of the biggest of Illouz's problems is biology - she's a WOMAN. And Giraldi doesn't think much of women, especially women like Illouz and the amazing author of "Fifty Shades", Erika Leonard a/k/a "E.L. James.  Illouz, Leonard and even, yours truly, the insane Duck Lady, have a big problem - we don't know our place.  Rather, we don't know that our place isn't at a keyboard.

How does Giraldi feel about "Fifty Shades," its author and its fans?

A great many women indeed have been living it up while dumbing it down, titillated by a charlatan amorist who goes by the nom de plume of E.L. James. I'm made distinctly queasy by uttering that sacral American surname when referring to this empress of inanity, so let’s use her real name, Erika Leonard. She who has done so much to help debase our culture should stand revealed.

To be able to pontificate so profoundly, Giraldi must have made a close study, a dissection even, of the Fifty Shades trilogy, right?  Well - not so much.

This is probably the spot to say that for the sake of this assignment I made a good faith effort to read these books at my city library, but I wasn't self-punishing enough actually to finish them and had to stop the agony halfway into the second volume.

If you haven't read it, from cover to cover, you are NOT in the least qualified to discuss it. The same goes for romance novels.  What is Giraldi's opinion of the genre?

The trilogy’s assembly-line asininity is really a fomentation of the worst that can be believed about both sexes. Romance novelsparochial by definition, ecumenical in ambitionteach a scurvy lesson: enslavement to the passions is a ticket to happiness.

Sorry, no - actually, that's the BEST thing Giraldi says about the romance genre. IMHO, the worst is this:

Dreck of this stupendous caliber has a particular advantage over literature in that one doesn't have to read all of it to surmise, accurately and eternally, that it is all uniformly awful and awfully uniformromance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn. It's pointless to spend much time impugning these books as writing because they really aren't meant to be considered as actual writing, the same way a Twinkie wasn't meant to be considered as actual food. Books ejaculated this easily have the inverse effect of being extremely difficult to read. Leonard’s creations are the cartoonishly erotic suppurations of a hamstrung, not terribly bright adult trying to navigate a midlife crisis, and you get the feeling that the sentences arrived on the page as if by osmosis, unaided by even a sub-literate serf.

So, Giraldi thinks that romance novels aren't literature and they aren't writing any more than a Twinkie is food. The New Republic writer finds that romance novels are cartoonishly written and are to the literate world what racists are to society.  You know what I find?  I find that Mr. Giraldi's opinions of the romance genre are every bit as well-informed as his opinions of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.  It is so much easier to spout generalities meant to sound superior when you are not troubled by having any knowledge of your subject.

Giraldi says that just as Twinkies aren't meant to be "actual food", romances aren't meant to be actual writing. I agree that Twinkies aren't meant to appease physical hunger.  A hungry person is more apt to reach for a hamburger than a Twinkie. A Twinkie is meant to appease a craving for something else, something more than physical hunger.  A person might eat a Twinkie when she needs her mood lifted or wants to reward herself. In the same way, romance novels - like "Fifty Shades of Grey", like my/ Mary Anne Graham "Forever Series"/ like my Olivia Outlaw "Sultan's Toy Series" - romance novels feed the soul and elevate the spirit.  Like a Twinkie, a romance novel sometimes just helps you go on believing, hoping, existing.

If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a bowl of prunes, wearing a monacle and sneering at the world,  then perhaps you should pick up something by Mr. Giraldi.  If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a Twinkie, wearing a smile and cheering for the human experience,  then perhaps you should pick up a romance novel.

Most women - and some very special men - are smart enough to know that sometimes you have to feed your heart, your soul and your spirit.  If we don't do that often enough we risk becoming a prune-eating, monacle-wearing nation.  A romance novel, anyone?

I've heard a bunch of scuttlebutt from writers who claim that the best sales strategy at the Zon is to select keywords that are in Amazon subcategory list for romance.  As writers know, for certain categories - Romance and Erotica among them - Amazon has a list of words that describe certain subcategories of romance; i.e. - for books about Kings, and Princes if you use those terms as keywords they'll appear in a "royalty" subcategory.

I've been putting up keywords that are most specific to my books.  If someone is over the top enough to hunt for something the crazy duck lady has written as Mary Anne Graham or Olivia Outlaw, then by the quack - I wanted them to find my stuff.  But given the scuttlebutt, I went in and changed all the keywords for several books - including my entire Sultan's Toy series - to fit in the generic mold that should have gotten them listed in several subcategories of romance and erotica.

Did I get listed in those subcategories?  I don't know, but if I did, it surely didn't help sales, which have been down in April.  So you know what I did today?  Can you guess?

Yep.  I went back to my me-words - my crazy duck lady terms that describe my stories.  I've just changed them, but sales have already started trending back up.

That can only mean one thing ---  there are more crazy duck lads and ladies out there than I ever suspected. Maybe one day we crazy duck people will take over and turn the world into a much more interesting place.

In the meantime, the results of my little experiment make me feel a little bit warm and cozy and a lot less lonely.  I'm hoping that all my fellow quackers keep on finding my books. We'll let the rest of the world worry about where we're holding our secret meetings.......


This is a quick post - and I'm stealing time from my muse to blog.  Snatching it from her greedy, absorbed, self-involved genius.  Because muse is absorbing me so, what else could I write about but her? (Are you happy now, Ms. Muse? Will you give me a sec to do this?)

As my "nom de plume" Olivia Outlaw, Ms. Muse has been working my imagination like a Sports Reporter on Super Bowl Sunday.  We're still working on the story of Ring and Ali - my Sultan's Toy series. As you can tell, it's going like gangbusters. Musey really adores the 20-30k format of erotic romance and she's having a mighty fine time with her first male/male romance. I'll definitely have to do another sometime soon.......

But for now, we're busy with Ring and Ali who are still in Turkey, in the Sultan's Palace.  (For now....)

And sometimes, my dearest darling Hubby will summon me, or the kids will pop up, wide-eyed by my monitor, or life, generally will require me to stop writing to sleep, eat, clean, work or get kids ready for school.  Lately, I've often looked up with that lost, strained expression at whoever or whatever is calling me away.

My Darlin' Mr. Duck could describe the expression for you - because it has annoyed him often enough - but you've probably never seen it unless you're the poor unfortunate family member of a writer.

And remember, sometimes we're writing when we're NOT at the keyboard. Muse may be whispering in my ear while we're driving somewhere or right in the middle of dinner.  When that happens, Mr. Duck will often break off in the middle of what he's saying to grouch something like:  "Are you listening to me?  Are you paying attention?"

I'll respond, "Yes. Of course," or something like that because - I'm really, really trying to listen and pay attention. It's just that muse is really tough to ignore. It's like trying to ignore a neon sign 5-feet in front of your face flashing thoughts in red and purple to the beat of the best song of all time. (Bob Seegar's Night Moves). It's really, really HARD.

It may be difficult to convince most non-writers that the world of a Grand Sultan's Palace in long-ago, far-away Turkey is more real than the world outside the window or inside your house -- but it's true. It's really, really true.

That is, it's true when I'm very lucky and my Muse is sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. With my Olivia Outlaw cap on, and my fingers typing away at Part 3 of "The Sultan's Toy", Muse has been doing that a lot lately. Just now, Muse is occasionally distracting me from Part 3 with thoughts of -- what should I title this one?

I'm doing the "C" thing for all the stories - and I'm considering:  Captivated, Coupled and Consumed. What to do, what to do.....

I can't even be distracted from my distraction for long because Muse is back, whispering in my ear and tapping her high-heeled shoes on my chest.  After a while, that really hurts, you know?

So, send some good wishes to Mr. Duck and the Duck Clan as they try NOT to kill me for being even MORE distracted than usual - which is really saying something.  But all this distraction means something I'm hoping that Olivia Outlaw's readers will find mighty interesting........

Whatever it ends up being titled - Part 3 of "The Sultan's Toy" will be winding its way to your favorite online retailer very, very soon.

And - thank you Muse! I'm living for the day when I have no day job to distract me from my shoulder sessions with my very own, beloved, well-Mused one.......