Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Mary Sue: What It Is, And How To Avoid It

A quick announcement before we begin; the new anthology Shadows of a Fading World from Long Count Press went live today. This collection contains tales of dying worlds, and among them is my story "Paths of Iron and Blood". If you're interested, check it out here on Amazon.

Now then, where was I? Oh yes...

The Mary Sue

Mary Sues; even if you don't know the name, you know these characters. They're the youngest, the smartest, the prettiest, and they just have the cutest eyes and the most tragic back stories. Everyone loves them, and those who don't hate them only out of jealousy and spite.

These characters are, no exaggeration intended, the things editors see in their nightmares.

And this. Editors have nightmares about this.
Some authors strain with every fiber of their being to avoid creating these types of characters. Some of us are in denial about the problems with our own, imaginary children and won't see them until beta readers set our manuscripts on fire on our front lawns in protest. To avoid this, there are some easy ways to make sure all your characters, not just your leads, avoid becoming one of these shallow gateways to wish fulfillment.

Step One: Take the Test

There are dozens of tests out on the Internet which can give you feedback on how much of a Mary Sue your character is or isn't. One of the most reliable tests I've come across is the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test, which can be found here. Running your character through this test should always be your first step, even if you're positive he or she is clean.

Step Two: Scrub Off Some of The Special

Your characters are not beautiful, unique snowflakes; they're people. Every person, and every character, has a list of abilities, skills, and a history that's led them to become who they are in this moment. Even the waiter whose name we never learn on page 75. However, if your character is a little too remarkable for the world you've created, a lot of readers are going to get turned off right quick.

Guess which section is responsible for this?
Here's a little history lesson for you. The Mary Sue, according to the eminently reliable source of a Wikipedia article, is the direct result of Star Trek fan fiction. The actual character by the name of Mary Sue was created and published in the fanzine Menagerie #2 in a 1973 story titled "A Trekkie's Tale". This story set out to deliberately show how ridiculous a fifteen-and-a-half-year-old lieutenant, the youngest and brightest ever to graduate from the academy and to be given a field commission, was. This story was in response to a huge number of tales with similar self-insert characters who, despite their youth, were precocious enough to save the day in addition to getting in bed with canonical, adult-aged characters.

Firstly, I'm sure there's a regulation somewhere against that kind of thing in any navy. Second, no.

So, if your character scored too high on the Mary Sue Litmus Test (again, you can and should take it here), then you need to look at what makes him or her too special. Is the character too young to be established in a certain field? Does the character have impossible-colored hair, eyes, or other features which mark him or her out as obviously special and different? Has the character mastered some skill or discipline uncommon to the world, such as being a disciple of an ancient martial art known to a chosen few or being one of the most naturally talented spellcasters in existence?

Whatever it is, ask yourself if it's necessary to the character. For instance, does your lead have to be an ex-special forces soldier, or would simply being someone who served in the military do? Must this character have pink, blue, or fuchsia hair, or is it a minor, cosmetic thing that can be done away with without altering the story?

Step Three: Make Your Character Work For It

When you watch a lead guitarist shred on stage, an expert marksman put two rounds right next to each other at a half a mile in a high wind, or hear about someone who climbs buildings like a human fly, you see something amazing. What you don't see is the countless hours of practice, training, study, blood, sweat, and shouted swear words that went into that final product. You need to make the reader aware of how your character became what he or she is.

All right wuss, if you make good time I'll take the razor blades out of the grips.
That said, do not, I repeat, do not just list a character's bona fides up front; instead, show them gradually to the reader. I did a post about this here too, but examples always work best. So, say you have a character who is the most talented sorceress the realm has ever seen. Magic comes naturally to her, and she's able to weave spells that should be years beyond her with nary a thought.

That's boring. Even if a character is born with talent, that talent has to be beaten, hammered, and refined into real world skill. Anything worth having takes work.

Take the same character and the same power set, but this time show how hard she worked to be where she is. Have her use jargon unique to magic, and show how intimately she understands the process of manipulating the power. If she does it naturally, treat her more like an athlete than an academic. Point is, she's had to refine what she does to be that good. More importantly though, you need to show us how attaining that level of mastery has marked her worldview and her skill set. Perhaps she can weave fire with a single breath, but does she know how to dance? Maybe she can call lightning from a cloudless sky, but does she understand how to relate to other people? Especially people who don't see the world in terms of elements and power, but rather in terms of growing seasons and harvests?

By dedicating a character so fully to achieving mastery of one area, she has had to sacrifice learning in other areas. She may find it hard to understand the viewpoints of those who are not as learned as she is, or who can't perform even simple magic. You see this in everyday professions as well; what people do shapes their perceptions of the world. Police officers, even when they're off duty, pay attention to faces and movements just in case something goes wrong in their presence. Medical professionals may find it impossible not to see people as collections of tissues and bones, or symptoms and issues, even when they're at home or at a party. By showing us where a character lacks, we find it easier to accept where he or she succeeds.

Step Four: Take the Test Again

I already gave you the link twice. You're not getting it again.

At The End of The Day...

It's important to remember that not every character who looks like a Mary Sue really is one. Run characters like Batman, Morpheus, Doctor Who, and a dozen others through the test, and they'll be rated as irredeemable Mary Sue characters. People love them despite that rating, and they're all million-dollar institutions.

Why, you might ask? Is it because deep down people really love over-powered escapist fantasy? No. The reason any characters with ridiculous powers and trope-laden backgrounds are popular is because they're compelling. They have depth, emotion, and they suck the readers in. It's also very clear that these characters are their own people; they aren't just super-powered stand-ins for the author, the reader, or anyone else.

As always, thanks for dropping by the Literary Mercenary. Your patronage is appreciated, and if you want to help a little more feel free to drop by my Patreon page, or by clicking the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" button in the upper right hand corner. As always, feel free to follow my latest doings on Facebook or Tumblr.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How To Make Money Publishing Your Blog on the Kindle

Making a living as a blogger isn't easy. You need hundreds if not thousands of regular subscribers, and daily hits in the six-digit range. If you're depending on advertising money, then you need people to actually click ads on your page in order to get paid. If you're selling products as an affiliate marketer, then you need to persuade your readers to purchase through your site. If you have merchandise of your own, you need to make a solid case as to why readers should hand over their hard-earned cash.

Wouldn't it just be easier to get paid for writing good articles that provide useful, actionable information?

You want to get paid for doing what now?
Experienced bloggers are currently wiping tears of mirth from their eyes. The reason is because no one pays writers just to put words on a page; writers get paid for selling something. Since blogs are free to read, they need to be used as a vehicle in order to sell something else. No matter how brilliant your writing, or how entertaining your jokes are, they're worthless all by themselves. Unless, that is, you can come up with a way to sell something that doesn't cost anything.

Amazon to the Rescue

As the reigning king of selling people things they don't need, Amazon has begun a service allowing you to publish your blog to the Kindle. This means you get increased exposure, since there are hundreds of thousands of Kindle ereaders on the market, and at least some of those users will be searching for blogs through their machines. Amazon also charges a fee to anyone who subscribes to your blog through an ereader. It doesn't charge much, maybe .99 a month, with the first two weeks coming free of charge. As the author, you're entitled to some of that cash. It's why the Literary Mercenary is now available here, and its sister blog Improved Initiative is available here.

How Do I Publish My Blog With Amazon?

And can I get paid in bananas?
If you already have a blog that's up and running, getting it put up on Amazon takes very little time. Just go to this link and create a new Amazon account. I'm sure you already have a personal one, but that won't fly for this little endeavor. Once you have your new account set up, log in. You'll see a blank window, with an "Add Blog" button on the right hand side. Simply click that button, and then fill in all the details for your blog. This includes a sales description, cover photo, and all of the marketing text you can fit. Once you've filled out all the details, click submit and wait roughly 24 hours for your blog to be available for subscription through Amazon. It's that simple!

How Much Money Can I Make?

Because that's not a loaded question at all.
You can make thousands of dollars a month doing this. You won't. Blog subscriptions are just like anything else in the writing world; the more you sell, the more you make. Just like your blog.

If you get a half a million hits, and every visitor clicks an advertisement on your blog, then you're going to find yourself in a new tax bracket pretty damn fast. The same is true if your novel suddenly starts selling like hot cakes, or if your blog becomes the new "in" thing to subscribe to. You can potentially make a fortune, if you can persuade everyone with a Kindle to subscribe to you. That isn't likely to happen, though. What's more likely is that your blog will pick up a few subscribers, yielding perhaps an extra few bucks a month.

So why publish your blog on the Kindle? Well, on the one hand, it costs you nothing. Even if no one ever hears about you, and you never see a single cent from the endeavor, at worst you've wasted fifteen minutes. Sheer chance says there are at least a few readers out there who will discover you, and decide to subscribe for at least a little while. There's also the outside shot that, for whatever reason, your blog becomes a rolling stone raking in enough cash for you to pay your rent, save up for a vacation, and quit your day job just on the number of subscriptions you get. It isn't likely, but then again a Twilight fan-fiction became a million-dollar industry. The impossible is very, very possible when it comes to writing, for good or ill.

As always, thanks for stopping by the Literary Mercenary. If you'd like to keep this blog going please share your favorite pages with your friends, and feel free to click the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid" button in the upper right hand corner. Also, if you're interested in donating on the regular, I currently have a Patreon giveaway going on for the month of January. Simply drop in here and make a donation to receive links to 2 free stories, as well as to receive a free ebook. Lastly, if you want to stay up-to-the-moment with what I'm doing as an author then follow me on Facebook or Tumblr.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to Avoid the Dreaded Exposition Dump

Every story needs exposition; there's no way around it. Whether you're writing a gritty, modern thriller in the heart of New York City, or your tale takes place in a fanciful kingdom several worlds away, you need to explain to your audience just what the hell is going on. Without at least a minimally set scene it doesn't matter how great or lovingly you rendered the world; your story won't make sense.

Which way did it go George, which way did it go?
The necessity of exposition has, unfortunately, led to what most people refer to as the exposition dump. This is when writers decide to break all of their action around page five or so (earlier in short stories) in order to shoe horn in a bunch of facts that the reader probably needs to know in order to translate the world, but which have the effect of an anvil dropped from a great height. Some readers might slog through the dump in order to get to the rest of the story, but a lot of them won't.

Fortunately, if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and fire up the backhoe, we can turn this dump into a cleverly camouflaged piece of scenery that's just as effective.

Tip #1: If They Don't Need to Know, Don't Tell Them

Because examples work best, I'll use one to illustrate this point. About a year ago I was invited to participate in an anthology called "Sidekicks" (great book, check it out here), and I wrote a short story titled "Relic of the Red Planet". The simple plot is that in a futuristic, space opera sort of world a collector of rare, alien artifacts has been murdered. His granddaughter enlists the help of an old friend, adventurer and antiquarian Galatea Jones. For backup Galatea calls in a favor from her friend, Martian gun-for-hire Doomsday Blues. Using a public auction as bait to lure out the murderers, whom Galatea suspects were trying to steal a secret part of the dead man's collection, mayhem ensues. When the dust settles, our heroes are victorious.

Now, the story itself is a simple little mystery told in about 5,000 words or so. I could very easily have confused the story, and completely hammered my readers, by including a bunch of extraneous details that, while they would have made the world clearer, simply didn't matter to this particular telling. For instance, did the reader need to know that all of the "aliens" were genetically modified humans designed for life on the more hostile planets of the solar system many thousands of years ago? No, not really. Did I need to make a big deal about what year in the future it was, or how planets like Venus had been altered to support life? Nope. Did I have to explain how interplanetary travel was so advanced? Not in the slightest. All I needed to do was focus on the essentials, which is what I did.

It was just like this. Except with ray guns and aliens.
When writing a story, any story, look at what is essential to understanding the world. You, as the creator, need to know all of it. But if you're loading down a story with a bunch of extraneous material that really doesn't matter, consider cutting it out in favor of keeping the story going.

Tip #2: Show, Don't Tell

I've said it before (right here in this post, in fact), writers should show readers a scene whenever possible. Not only does it keep the story flowing, but it will camouflage the fact that readers have been given critical information. It's kind of like dicing up vegetables and putting them in something tasty so that kids will eat them without even knowing they were there.

Here's a quick example for you. Say you're writing a high fantasy series, and in this series there's an order of knights known as the Foresworn. Now, the important back story might be that these knights are all noble warriors who have fallen from the kingdom's grace, and they are considered persona non grata by the populace at large. They're given suicide missions, and those who survive may once more attain their former rank and earn forgiveness for whatever sins they've committed. Take it a step further, and say that the order is made up of men and women, with ranks and symbols that include death's heads, weighted scales, and black wings.

Being this guy is enough to warrant a life sentence.
Now, assume for a moment that the reader needs to understand some of that in order to grasp why these characters are important. You could go and give an account of how the Foresworn were formed, and list out what each mark of rank means. But why do that when you can just show us a member, and let us draw our own conclusions? Maybe the representative you give us is a big man with a stubbled jaw and greasy hair. Despite his brusque manner and brutish appearance though, his weapons are immaculate and he fights in a way only someone born and trained to war can do. That single action sequence would show us what members are capable of, without the writer having to talk the knights up.

If a single glance isn't enough, then drop a few more hints. Have someone ask him what act he committed to be stripped of rank and title, perhaps. This would let the reader know that despite the armor, and even his birth, the warrior is not considered nobility any longer. Maybe have a member of this organization mention in conversation with her fellows that she's only got two more missions until redemption. These three things give the reader a solid grasp of who the Foresworn are, especially when combined with their name. No matter how cool the history of the order is, or how epic the first knights who began it were, if the readers don't need to know it, see Tip #1.

Tip #3: It's a Bird, It's a Plane... It's Exposition Man!

If you must tell the reader something, then it's best for the statements to come out of your characters' mouths. Cue Exposition Man! By day a humble pathologist, psychologist, neighborhood baker, or dope peddler, but as soon as he comes into contact with protagonists he simply cannot resist the urge to spew forth plot-related details just as quickly as they can ask questions!

You know, it's funny you should ask...
Exposition Man is something of a trope, but he/she/it can often be a very useful plot device. What he does is deliver key information to the reader in such a way that it looks like two characters having a conversation. When done properly Exposition Man has every right to know the things he/she knows about the world and plot, so when the talking trope decides to open up about the goings on of the local crime boss, or expound on the different oaths the Monks of the Eternal Silence supposedly take, the reader doesn't balk and demand to know why they're being made to read pages of text.

Tip #4: Spread it Out

Exposition is hard work. You have to know what you want the reader to know, and you have to dress it up in a way that's pleasing to the eye and easy for the mind to take in. Doing all of that at once is not easy, and in fact it can give you a mental hernia.

Pictured: A wild metaphor in its natural environment.
Don't try to tell your reader absolutely everything up front. For one thing, it creates an information overload that can read like an essay rather than a novel. Secondly, if you actually expect readers to remember content that took place on page 5-7, then said content needs to be short and snappy in order to claim brain space. If you put a guide to your world there, no matter how necessary it might be, readers aren't going to remember it. They sure as hell aren't going to flip back and look things up, either.

In the end, too much spice will spoil your story. Spread your exposition out, and ask yourself how much of it is necessary at this very moment. If you can cut down on exposition in a scene without losing anything, do so. If something is necessary, find a way to include it. If it's something you just think is cool but would need an entire flashback, side conversation, or out-of-nowhere discussion to even bring up, chances are you don't need it.

As always, thanks for dropping by the Literary Mercenary. Feel free to show your love by clicking our donation button in the upper right hand corner, or by stopping by our Patreon page to become one of our regular backers. Also, during the month of January all new backers will receive links to 2 free stories, as well as a free ebook! Lastly, for those who'd like to keep up on what's going on with me, feel free to drop by my Facebook and Tumblr pages to jack in.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pen Names: Do You Need One?

Before we get started, I want to remind readers that if you give me a pledge during this January on my Patreon page here that you'll be given 3 free stories. Two will come as links in the thank you (everyone gets those), but I will also send you one of my ebooks (which is a limited time offer). All it will cost you is $1 a month.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog post.

One of the most common, non-story publishing questions I see in writers groups (aside from "does anyone know where I can find an agent who will make me rich?") is whether or not someone should use a pen name. There's a lot of encouragement, and more than a little outright vitriol from both sides on the subject. Some people insist that you can't really own your work and be true to yourself if you won't use your real name. Others insist the audience doesn't care about who you really are, and that choosing the right name is the mystical key to best-seller success. The issue is that no one is right in this debate. That said, there are several reasons someone might want to use a nom de plume when it comes time to put a book on the market.

Reason #1: How Do You Spell That?

Talented writers come from all strata of the world, from every ethnicity and every country. Some of us, maybe even a lot of us, have names that really aren't that cool. Worse than being uncool though, is having a name that's hard to remember or difficult to spell.

I'm just saying.
One way we sell books is by having a name that's easy for readers to remember. That way they'll be able to go online and type it in without struggling to remember if there's a "czy" at the end, or if the three Q's are silent. If you've had to live most of your life carefully spelling your name for people, it might be a good idea to use a pseudonym.

Reason #2: Oh, So You're Steven With a "V"

Another unfortunate reality of names is that a lot of people have the same, or similar, names. So if your name happens to be Steven King, and you also writer modern horror stories (but they're set in Utah, so you're totally different), then it might be a good idea to pick a slightly different pen name. While you might be able to catch a few fans from the infamous master of horror who spells his name with a "ph", it's a much better idea to build your own fan base and your own following. It's certainly more reliable than depending on mistaken identity for your monthly bread.

Reason #3: You Want to Rub Jackets With The Greats

While it's not a good idea to be confused for someone that's an established author in the field, it is a great idea to hover nearby writers you want to be compared to and associated with.

You know the kind.
Let's go back to our previous example of a horror writer. If he wanted to be on the same shelf as Stephen King (and technically as Dean Koontz... fame is fame, after all), then he might choose a pen name like Simon Kain. That name is different enough not to be confused, and if someone's eyes are already running down the shelves there's a much better chance they're going to notice that book while looking for something new from a more established author. This is marketing at its finest, and it's one of the most common reasons I've heard of for professionals using pen names.

Reason #4: You Want To Avoid All The "-isms"

One of the ugly, unspoken truths of publishing is that readers are judgmental. I don't mean that they'll rake you over the coals for bad grammar or they'll leave terrible reviews because they disagree with your choice of ending; I mean they're prejudiced, and they make prejudicial decisions.

Yes, you too.
What would you say if I told you people are less likely to buy a novel written by a woman, assuming that novel wasn't a romance or a children's book? What if I told you that a great deal of readers avoid writers of color? These things happen, and they happen with enough regularity that it forces many writers to change their names if they want their stories to be taken seriously. This is particularly true in genres considered male-dominated, like science fiction, horror, and fantasy. David Farlane waxes more on this here, giving some numbers on how many men simply won't read books they perceive to be written by women.

Reason #5: You Want Some Distance From Your Work

Celebrity is an odd work requirement, but authors need it the same as any other artist. As soon as people stop reviewing our books, stop talking about our characters, and stop caring about our new releases, that's when the royalty checks stop coming in. On the other hand, not all writers want to be in the center of the maelstrom. Sometimes it's because they just want to keep their work lives separate from their private lives. Sometimes it's because the author is starting two different projects in different genres, and doesn't want to confuse readers. And, of course, sometimes the work itself is... ummm...

Yeah... that.
For those of you who aren't regular readers of my fiction (most of you here, I'm guessing), The Unusual Transformation of Abraham Carver is a dark steampunk erotica novella released about a year ago. Its readership has been fairly small (you can check it out here if you're interested, complete with sample), but those who've read it generally had positive feedback. Including my mother.

That is the sort of thing a pen name lets you avoid. Whether you wrote a gore-splattered creature feature, or a gasp-filled bodice ripper, a pseudonym lets you keep your personal life separate from your professional work. For some writers that is a limelight they will happily duck right out of.

In The End

Do you need a pen name to sell books? No. Can a pen name help you sell books? It can, but it's no guarantee. Every writer has to decide whether or not a pen name is the right choice for his or her career, and for the impression that writer wants the audience to get. Sometimes the decision is easy, and other times the ego might get in the way and demand recognition. When all is said and done though, a pen name won't make you a better writer. It might get you noticed, but it won't change anything other than your byline.

As always, thanks for stopping by the Literary Mercenary. If you want to help keep up going donate by clicking the button in the upper-right corner, or just pass our articles around to your friends and family, as well as their friends and their families. If you'd like to keep up to date with the latest, then drop by Facebook and Tumblr to become a follower.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Sexy" and Other Words Writers Need to Stop Using

As an author who doesn't have his own marketing department, I tend to use a lot of social media. This means I belong to a lot of promotional groups on Facebook, I follow a lot of writer-themed blogs on Tumblr, and in general I try to stay plugged into what my fellows in the field are doing. The advantage is that sometimes I find really intriguing books, such as the Gonji trilogy by Ted Rypel, or Ghosts in the Yew by Blake Hausladen.

Because holy damn, that's why.
The disadvantage is that my feed gets crammed with promotion for a lot of books I'd really rather not see. Books that, when I pause to read the description, give me barking fits. After destroying a dozen chew toys and getting a calming belly rub though, I finally figured out what all these bad book summaries I keep seeing have in common. It isn't genre, it isn't plot, and it isn't even the target audience. It's the shallowness of the language used to describe the story.


That's what I thought you were going to say. Since examples tend to work best, and I don't want to name names and earn the enmity of fellow authors, I will give you a paraphrased version that I keep seeing over and over again. It goes something like this.

Sexy female lead, getting involved in a dangerous or personally distressing situation, must seek help and join forces with sexy, alpha male lead. Will the two of them find the answer, and will their raging libidos get the best of them?

If you don't feel this is an epidemic then I urge you to go to your local bookstore and read some dust jackets. Romance, erotica, mystery, thriller, suspense, modern fantasy, classic fantasy, science fiction, it's showing up everywhere. The pacing might be slightly different, the plots might vary, but there are certain buzzwords that are showing up repeatedly. This is a plea to my fellow authors, and a warning to future ones; stop it. You're making us look stupid.

What's Wrong With Sexy?

As a concept, not a damn thing. Some genres are predicated entirely upon telling sexy stories about sexy people. The problem is the word itself. What is sexy? I guarantee you that whatever you're thinking, the next person to pick up the book and read the same sentence will not be thinking the same thing. It's lazy writing, pure and simple.
What is it that makes someone an alpha male?
Don't get ahead of me, stock photo philosopher. The term alpha (it's just assumed that the character is male, which goes to show we need more alpha females in our fiction) has the same problem from a completely different angle. What is an alpha? Is it a man involved in the leather and BDSM scene? Is it a wolves-of-Wall-Street type in a ten thousand dollar suit with a watch that cost more than most people's cars? Or is he a muscle-bound noble savage, free from the constraints of your society who makes his own rules? Those are just three images that came to mind off the top of my head, and there are likely a dozen more where they came from.

So What Do You Suggest?

I'm glad you asked that, bolded, italic type face. My suggestion for all my fellow authors out there is when you're coming up with your dust jacket hook that you cut the fluff. Language that tells us nothing about the characters, or is misleading, sensational, or flat out lazy needs to go. Period. It's the modern day equivalent of saying "and she meets a tall, dark stranger." Even if she does (or he, let's be inclusive here), could we perhaps come up with a better reason for us to care? Do a little more showing, a lot less telling?

What more do you want?
I want character descriptions that tell us who we're actually dealing with. I want robust language that draws me in and makes me want more. Honestly I'd prefer if writers stopped trying to be edgy and let their stories speak for themselves, but I'm not asking for miracles. Mostly I'd like a carefully crafted hook that makes me sit on an uncomfortable floor in a bookstore for hours just to find out what happens. What I want to see less of is writers using empty shorthand to convince me that these characters are different from every other pair in the genre. I'm also tired of my fellow writers showing off their leads' toned abs and curvy hips just to persuade me to buy their books. I have the Internet, I can see all the sexy I want any time on demand. What the Internet isn't providing me with are deep characters that inspire me, and whose stories I genuinely care about.

Next time you're describing your plot or your characters, sit down and ask yourself how you'd feel describing real people this way. Is the most noticeable feature of a dedicated, hard-nosed police detective that she's sexy? Or is it that she takes dangerous assignments and never quits until the job is done? Is the most dominant personality trait of a business tycoon that he's mysterious? If so, you might need to dig a bit deeper because you've only scratched the surface. If there is more to them, then show us. Give us an elevator pitch that makes us skip our floor.

As always, thanks for dropping by the Literary Mercenary. If you'd like to help us keep going then remember to like, share, discuss, and follow us on Facebook and Tumblr. If you'd like to take a more direct hand in helping us out there's now a Patreon page for you to pledge a certain amount each month, or you can click the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" button in your upper right hand corner. Now go forth, and write well!