It's been a bit since I've blogged because I'm presently writing TWO books.  Yes, I know, lots of authors juggle books frequently, but I generally do them one at a time.  This period right here - this is an exception.  There is a single reason for this:  my muse is in hyperdrive but my bank account is not.  That's why I'm presently writing Vlad's Story (A Forbidden Forever) and part 2 of Adam and Evan's Story (Scandalizing Duty from my "Seducing The Guardian" series).

My bank account is also the reason I've backtracked from a prior position.  I've re-enrolled all my books in Kindle Unlimited, making them presently exclusive to Amazon.  While this drives Mr. Duck mad to some extent - he puts up with me.  (Maybe I should name him Saint Duck?)  The fact is, like almost (I'd say "all" but nearly nothing is always true) so, like ALMOST all self-published authors, most of my income is from Amazon. Despite that, I don't like the exclusivity and therefore bailed after one term in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.  I've backtracked because in reviewing the books, I see that I made MUCH more money in KU than out of it.  I think a lot of that is because KU offers the opportunity for promotion - like giving away "leading" books in a series free for a certain number of days a month.  If I do that, then readers are more likely to buy the other books in that series. It adds a lot to the bank account.  Because we're presently bailing out of credit card debt and the baby duck will start college in the fall - the bank account matters.  I apologize if you read books on another device and - I hate to sound like a shill for Amazon but - I suggest you download the Kindle App for whatever device you use and buy your books at Amazon.  There's not another place on the planet that equals Amazon's selection.

Above, I mentioned how my unpredictable and often insane ways torment Mr. Duck.  I know they do, but he puts up with me because he's probably AFRAID of what I'd do if he tried to leave.  (Parts of him might make it.) Seriously, I ADORE my hubby and although there are a billion and one reasons why - you only have to look around this website to get a good look at one of them.  Mr. Duck has put in a LOT of work to revamp the site. Not only have his efforts made QA a thing of great beauty, Google now thinks so too because it's mobile friendly.  With everyone reading so much on phones, tablets, etc., QA needs to be easy on all those eyes, and Mr. Duck's efforts have made that happen.  It's why he's my favorite digital delight and the best technical wizard on the planet - IMHO, anyway.

As I also said a bit ago, my baby duck is getting ready to do the most unbaby-type thing:   yes, QA readers, the SAM duck is about to graduate from high school.  On June 4th, he'll be wearing that black robe and the funny hat and walking across the stage.  Watching the baby duck change his tassel from one side to the other will be his proud parents, his elder brother (the Zack duck), his proud grandparents, and possibly his proud Aunt Jen.  It's a workday, so Aunt Jen may not be able to make it, but she'll be with us in spirit.  We might've had a bigger crew but we only get 8 tickets.  Although his insane-duck-Mother will be prouder than proud, I do expect to shed more than a few tears.  It's not that I don't want him to grow up and become the BEST HISTORY TEACHER ON THE PLANET but - he's doing it too fast!!  He needs to go back, start Kindergarten and do it one more time.  After 12 more years, I might, MIGHT be ready for him to graduate -- or so senile that I wouldn't notice.

It's a busy time at the duck pond, but hopefully, there will soon be a new Mary Anne Graham book and a new Olivia Outlaw book.  Before that, we'll have a graduated duck named Sam and Mr. Duck will have earned several new Sainthood badges.  After all, post-graduation, the Sam duck is flying to NY State to spend a month or so with elder duck Zack.  During that time, Mr. Duck will get ALL my attention and all my worry.  Come to think of it, maybe Mr. Duck should earn more than Sainthood badges. Hmm.....I'll have to see what kind of special reward I can come up with for the King of Duckland.

In the meantime - read a lot, love a lot and DEMAND happy endings!!

Hello my little chitlin's, it's your big daddy Angry Old Fat Man here.

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all of y'all with rugrats, or former rugrats like ours. Remember, if Mama ain't happy, NOOOOObody's happy.

And now the business at hand.

It seems the website for Quacking Alone Romances needs to be brought properly into the 21st Century. I got word the other day that Google is going to start ranking pages according to their ease of use on mobile platforms, like smartphones and tablets. Of course I ran the website through its paces in the Mobile Friendly Test Tool that Google provides and it came back with abysmal results. Not surprising, since smartphones were barely a thing when we first started this romance-writing-and-selling business.

But now, with everybody and his brother, aunt, uncle, and teapot Chihuahua using iPhones and Samsungs, AND with Google busting our virtual balls, we're forced to update the site. Luckily, I decided to give the heavy lifting of the website coding to WordPress early on in our business start-up. That decision will allow one dude, moi, to update the entire site in a matter of days if I simply find the right theme to institute and tweak.

So that's the big announcement. Look for huge changes soon in the website you're looking at right now. And in the meantime, buy Olivia Outlaw's latest same-sex romance Seducing The Guardian, Book One - Tempting Duty.

Over and out, kiddies.

This is a brief post because my Muse is yelling in my ear.  Not whispering or conversing, mind you - she's yelling.  Muse has been waking me up at night to send me stumbling to my laptop at 3 a.m.  Why? Because it's time for Vlad's story.

Those familiar with my Forever Series will know Vlad very well.  The Russian gypsy first appeared in "A Golden Forever" and he's been in every book since.  But it was never time for his story -- until now.  I've had many readers email, asking whether there would be more "Forever" stories.  I gave them the assurance that there would be - someday.  Well, someday is now.

I'm also working on my third set of "Olivia Outlaw" stories.  There's another "Isle of Bliss" tale half written on my hard drive.  I may be juggling Vlad and Mala with Adam and Evan for awhile, but both sets of stories are on their way.  They'd be here a lot sooner, if I didn't have that pesky day job practicing law and trust me, I'd much rather write full time.  But the best any of us can do is make the most of what we have, right?

I've been concentrating on the "Bliss" stories of late, and it's been quite a long while since I wrote the last "Forever" book, so I just thought I'd let fans of that series know that a new one is on the way!!  Vlad has to get his happily ever after now, doesn't he?

I was never a country music fan -- until recently.  I discovered an affection for country music after I switched my reality-music-TV watching from "American Idol" to "The Voice." I wasn't very far along into watching "The Voice" before Blake Shelton's easy-going, strong as satin-wrapped steel demeanor struck enough of a chord for me to go into my Amazon Prime account and check out his music. And Blake connected me to country.

Why I had no appreciation for the genre before, I can't say.  A whole lot of country music speaks of life with a "Southern Voice" (Love that one by Tim McGraw, BTW). My Southern eyes see life just that way.  I've always adored Beach Music, the tunes to which Carolina Girls (Love that one by General Norman Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board) shag.  The shag is the official state dance of South Carolina because its a step that was, like me, born and bred in the Palmetto State.  Music connected to the South has always held an appeal for me, but for some reason, that didn't hold true for country.

Growing up, my neighbors and family liked country music and laughed at my love of rock and roll. It was scorned as "the devil's music." During my college years, most of us went out to clubs that played rock and roll, disco, and beach music.  The clubs that played country were the haystick places where you didn't go unless you were armed and appreciated watching a good bar fight.  My musical tastes matured as I grew, but somehow that never, ever included country music until "The Voice" introduced me to that "Playboy of the Southwestern World", Blake Shelton.

Blake's evangelism for the genre made me wonder how I'd never appreciated it before. Mr. Shelton speaks fervently of how country must be felt before its sung and of how it can only be sung well if it comes from the heart. Most great country songs revolve around the same core as my books - love, in all its good, bad, ugly and life-affirming variations.  It might be first love, back seat "love for tonight," brokenhearted love lost, love never returned or forever love found - but if its love, there's a country song with lyrics that tell the tale. (Blake's amazing wife, Miranda Lambert, has one about a "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" that delights an insane duck lady.  Any song that celebrates crazy is a good thing. I think Loretta Lynn said that first. )

There are country songs that celebrate having fun, loving family, appreciating friends and having a drink or ten while you're doing it.  But I've come to realize that other than a love for pick-up trucks,  the rebellious, raucous, loyal-beyond-a-fault country attitude describes my approach to life and writing. And it was something I was closed to - an automatic shut-off valve in my brain activated whenever a country song came on the radio.  That was 'change the station' time.  Now, I listen, enjoy and appreciate.

How much of life do we miss if we have automatic shut-off switches?  Whether it's different ideas, different values, different views of life or love - why not let it in enough to consider, to ponder,  to evaluate?  There is much absolutely abhorrent out there, and I'm not advocating that we accept or endorse every idea floating around the universe.  I'm just saying that what we should "shut off" are those switches that deprive us of the opportunity to grow and learn and to become and to keep becoming as long as we've life left to live.

Lots of folks who love country music may have their automatic shut-offs programmed to screen out over-the-top, avidly erotic tales of love between a man and a woman (Mary Anne Graham titles) or between two men (Olivia Outlaw titles - to date, but Olivia will expand too).  Well, a whole bunch of those folks are missing some stories that will read a lot like a country song sounds.  In my author's voice they'll recognize familiar notes sung in a different tone. If they give it a chance, their worlds might grow a little too, just like mine did when NBC's "The Voice" and country charmer Blake Shelton convinced me to override my shut off valve and re-consider country music.

I see it now -- my books read a lot like a Blake Shelton song sounds - and that's a very good thing.

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.

It's the husband of the Crazy Duck Lady, with the simple announcement that all of her Carnal Collateral books have been published and are online, waiting for you guys to download them and salivate over them (or whatever it is you do).

You can see the last one, Devil's Delight, in the sidebar and the Olivia Outlaw books page. Or you can click the links I just graciously provided for you out of the (diminishing) goodness of my (cold, black) heart.

Sorry I haven't been updating. Not motivated enough to be creative. Been too angry at situation, work, life in general, and the attempts to maintain my much coveted status as one of the rich. You know, the rich. The ones near the age of 50 working two part-time jobs to keep the luxuries of such extravagant lifestyles, like living indoors in small houses with electricity, plumbing, and food. And no retirement money or plans at all, and no medical coverage. The Affordable Care Act apparently has, in one of its several thousand pages, a provision that says "health insurance shall be affordable to all - except ANGRY OLD FAT MAN, who is too rich to enjoy all benefits listed in this document without paying out his ass".

I hope everybody who came up with and approved of such a travesty burn in Hell while being raped by the barbed penis of Satan.

For the last 3 months or so, my books have been enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, and have only been available on Amazon. That changes this week, starting tomorrow. My books will "roll out" of KU this month, and by the end of January all of my books will be available on other forums again, this time through Draft2Digital.

I get the concept of Kindle Unlimited. I get the benefits for readers and the benefits for the forum offering the subscription. Under the model, readers can budget X dollars per month, read all they want, and never risk going over budget. Having the readers subscribe keeps them on Amazon, which benefits to some degree from the subscription, but benefits to a larger degree on Kindle Fire purchases and on everything else readers buy from the Zon, which wants to be everyone's one-stop shop. But none of the services can survive unless the benefits flow to the author and that is the fatal flaw with the program.

KU requires that authors offer their books exclusively on Amazon. There is a large "pool" of money from the subscription fees, and authors earn a borrow/sale each time a reader. Amazon pays each author the same percentage of that money, regardless of the sales price of their book. In exchange for participation, authors also receive a bump in ranking because borrows are rated as sales, and the right to run a limited number of promos every 90 days per book by either discounting the price for a few days (a countdown deal) or by giving the book away for a few days.

While the promo opportunities and the rankings boost are of some benefit, borrows tend to "eat" sales, so even those benefits are blades on a double-edged sword. Plus, there appears to be reader backlash, meaning that readers feel that if they have to pay for a book and others are getting it "free", that is unfair or they feel that the book must not be worth their money if it is enrolled in KU. It doesn't matter how high a book is rated if real sales dollars are not flowing into the author's pocket.

The largest problems with KU are the exclusivity requirement and the payment structure. Without exclusivity, many authors might enroll series leaders in the program, use the promo opportunity, and gain sales at full value for the rest of the books in each series. With exclusivity, authors will not even do that, because it means that the series leaders couldn't be sold on other forums, and if a whole series isn't available, readers will often buy none of it. The payment structure means that authors who should earn $2.05 on a $2.99 book are making as little as $1.33 - and lack a guarantee of making even that. It also means that authors with a .99 cent book are making way more in KU than they make in sales. The unfairness of that structure has led to a bunch of scammers who post very short pamphlets on KU - some of them are only 10 pages in length. That means that if a reader opens the pamphlet, the author earns a sale because the reader has read a tenth of the book. And that author makes as much as a real, hardworking writer who has his or her work enrolled in the program.

I don't see how Kindle Unlimited can continue to exist under the current arrangements. If Amazon wants the program to survive, it will need to make some real changes. Particularly, it must do away with the exclusivity requirement but it must also pay out in percentages, based on a book's standard royalty rate. For example, Amazon might pay 80% of a standard royalty rate to books enrolled in the program. That would guarantee an author of a $2.99 book a royalty of 80% of $2.05 ($1.64) and an author of a .99 cent book with a royalty of .35 cents would make 80% of that (.28 cents).

Additionally, rolling out of the program makes my books available to all readers again, and that is a good thing. Authors far and wide are leaving KU, including many who are much less insane than a crazy duck lady - writers like HM Ward and JA Konrath.

So, starting tomorrow, my books will begin appearing on other venues via Draft2Digital's distribution service. I'm choosing to experiment with D2D because there are less technical challenges in uploading books, so they get out faster, the service shows near real-time sales numbers, and it pays out monthly. Smashwords still has challenges in some of those areas. Additionally, D2D offers some nifty features I'll be able to take full advantage of when all my books are out of the program - like an "Also by" page and a "teaser" for a different book of my choosing.

Kindle Unlimited and other subscription programs can not exist without content - a lot of books, offering a wide and growing variety in every genre. Without content, the service isn't worth the subscription fee. Through the current structure of the program, Amazon is guilty of some of the same sins as were traditional publishers before the indie revolution. And traditional publishers nearly went under because of their unfair treatment of authors - those who survived learned the virtue of flexibility and made significant changes. Now, if Amazon wants Kindle Unlimited to survive, it must do the same.

I'm looking forward to welcoming a legion of new readers who enjoy highly sensual novels which will have a happy ending. The third part of my "Devil" series written as Olivia Outlaw - "Devil's Delight" - is already available through D2D because I didn't enroll it in KU and you can pick it up today at many of your favorite retailers. By tomorrow, my "Dangerous Relations" series will be available everywhere - By this Friday, 1/9/15, my "Sultan's Toy" and "Carnal Collateral" series and boxed sets or bundles will be out and about as will Part 1 of my Devil's series "Devil's Deal"- By this Saturday, 1/10/15, my "Mary Anne Graham" books will be out and about - the "Forever" series, "Romancing the Rose," "The Duke of Eden," and "Brotherly Love" will be available, and on January 25th, the middle book in the Devil series, "Devi's Demand" rolls out, meaning the whole Devil's series will be available.

So, by the end of January, the entirety of my insanely romantic and delightfully sensual books written as Mary Anne Graham and as Olivia Outlaw will be available for your reading pleasure at retailers all over the web. Do the crazy duck lady a favor and pick up one or two and find out why love is better over the top!!

Sales at other sites were dismal, so decided to try Kindle Unlimited aka KOLL for the required 90 days to see how it would go. Payouts had been at $1.53 per book. Amazon dropped it to $1.33 for the month just reported - October. The result? I unchecked my auto renew boxes but I'm in until early January. Most other indie authors are doing the same and some have books due for renewal in the next few weeks.

I may try D2D in January. Smashwords has never gotten its act together with payments and D2D pays monthly. People already complained that KU lacked books and it's about to lack a lot more books - - likely, reducing available reads to the point that the program can't survive.

The solution? Amazon needs to stop the "contest" where they pay millions to a few authors as a reward for the best sales & put all $$ in the KU payout pot. It needs to guarantee authors between $1.50 and $1.80 per book - OR pay a monthly per book fee ($25 or so per month). If Amazon wants to keep KU going and GROW it, then it should do both - at least for some books. The bottom line is that there is no "one size fits all" solution. Amazon needs to set criteria - if your book is a 99 cent title then your max borrow rate is 75 cents. If your book is fewer than 50 pages, then you will get 99 cents per month and if you "stuff" a book with material that is not real, genuine, writing in order to meet the page requirement, then you are banned from Amazon. If your book is a $2.99 title or more with over 50 pages of original, author-generated writing, then you get the higher payout and/or monthly bonus.

If Amazon wants to grow Kindle Unlimited, then it needs to give authors incentives to put their books in. If Amazon wants Kindle Unlimited to survive, then it at least needs to be fair with authors - below the $1.50 mark is a virtual no-writer's land.

Readers - if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited- you should email or call Amazon and find out why Amazon is not putting the money into the program to give you a reading experience that earns your $9.99 per month. Authors, please let me know your thoughts about the future of Kindle Unlimited and whether you'll keep your books in the program after this month's $1.33 payout.

And Amazon - I'd love you to comment on this post and to explain why you're not being fair to your authors which would in turn provide Amazon KU subscribers with the most reading choices possible. Right now, it looks like Amazon is pushing a dwindling supply of "all you can read" books on unsuspecting customers with one hand, and working covertly to kill Kindle Unlimited with the other.

Hey babies, it's the Angry Old Fat Man again, touching base with all of Mary Anne's/Olivia Outlaw's readers.

always_angry

News item #1: Olivia Outlaw has completed Book Two of the Carnal Collateral series: Devil's Demand. It's currently out on the Amazon Kindle. Which leads me to...

News item #2: The buttons that allow you to buy Mary Anne's/Olivia's books from other vendors besides Amazon may be dead for awhile. You see, Amazon has some new ways of distributing e-books, especially if you're a voracious reader (like many of you aficionados of romance novels), and we are now participating in these new methods of distribution.

One is called Kindle Unlimited, and it's a lot like Netflix for e-books, except better. You pay a monthly fee to enjoy access to over half-a-million titles on your Kindle or any other device that can use the Kindle store.

The other one is only for Kindle owners with Amazon Prime, and it's called Kindle Owner's Lending Library. You can "borrow" books FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST other than your Amazon Prime account, and that's in addition to all of the other benefits you get from that service.

There's only one bit of bad news. For authors to participate in these Amazon programs, they must publish exclusively via Amazon for at least a few months. No Barnes and Noble, no Smashwords, no other vendors for those months - just Amazon.

News item #3: I fixed the links to Olivia's book covers that were not correct. They look OK now, but if you find one that isn't, please contact me or Mary Anne and I'll get it working right.

Thanks, sweeties, and remember, don't get angry. THAT'S MY JOB!

Me, myself, and I - the "Olivia Outlaw" version of me, that is - have made the lead book in the "Sultan's Toy" series free.  You can grab it free almost everywhere except Amazon.  It's available free NOW at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Diesel and a host of other online sites and it is or is about to be free at Apple.

It's only 99 cents at Amazon.  If you'd like it free there, I suggest you scroll to the bottom of the product page and report a lower price.  If readers complain, Amazon might match the freebie.  If not, go to Smashwords or Barnes & Noble and pick it up there.

Who wouldn't want to get captured by a handsome sultan?