Thursday, July 31, 2014

There Are Only Two Kinds of Writers (Chances Are You're One Of Them)

For those who missed last week's update (How to Make Money On Your Blog By Selling Swag), the Literary Mercenary now has its own online store! Just check out this link to see my first design, and if you're the sort of person who wants to be vocal about your opinions on whether or not corporations are people just tell your friends to stop by and take a look. It's my avowed goal to get one new design up per month, but depending on how crazy my other professional demands get that might slip to one every two months or so.

You know you want one.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, how there's really only two kinds of writers in the world.

Well, What Are They?

That's italics for you; no-bullshit and to-the-point. The most common names I've heard for the two types of writers in the world are plotters and pantsers; meaning authors who carefully plot out their stories and those who fly by the seat of their pants. Because I dislike these terms (to me they feel like someone who's teaching a class of third graders how to be writers), I will instead use the ones provided by an author whose career I'd emulate more if I could figure out how; architects and gardeners. People who draw a careful blueprint of the whole structure, and people who bury an idea in fertile soil and see what kind of insanity takes root.

The source of these terms, for the curious.

But Neither One of Those Fits My Style

Yes they do. There are only two kinds of writers, just as there are only seven kinds of conflicts, and twenty kinds of dramatic situations. Whether we like it or not the truth of the writing profession is that mechanically there are only so many colors on our palettes, and there are only so many kinds of brush strokes we can use.

The real miracle is that, with such limited tools, we can still create such a plethora of fiction!

Seriously though, you can still check this out if you want to.
As for myself I'm an architect who likes a little free-flow in my stories. I have a beginning, an end, and a few plot points figured out through the story. How I connect those points I don't know until I get to that particular page. It provides a certain structure, but at the same time allows my story and characters enough free flow that I don't feel like I'm trying to micromanage my own creativity. That's what works for me, but I've spoken to authors who are much more extreme than I am on both sides of the line. I've also spoken to one or two who have very similar methods.

It all depends on how your mind works. Whether you choose to draw an entire blueprint of your short story, novel, or series, or you choose to just bury the idea in a hole and water it with coffee and blood to see what grows is your decision as a writer. If you want to just put up a loose frame for the story to grow around, that's perfectly acceptable too. Maybe you like to write completely blitzed on tequila, or you find you do your best work at 3 a.m. when the world is asleep and the quiet settles in. Maybe you like writing horror, or sci fi, or fantasy, or serious books about serious people who do serious shit.

The point here is that every artist is completely unique, but we're all using the same tools and techniques to create very different masterpieces. What you as an author need to do is find the method that works best for you and to use it to turn out your own masterpiece.

Seriously, don't let other people tell you how to write. But if there's only two methods at either end of a sliding scale, chances are good you fit somewhere on there.

Again, thanks for dropping by The Literary Mercenary. If you've got any thoughts on what you'd like to see then please send a message. If you'd like to keep up on all my updates then toss your email in the box on the top right, or follow me on Facebook and Tumblr. If you want to help keep me going then buy a book, buy a tee shirt, toss a tip into my jar by clicking the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" button on the upper right, or drop by my Patreon page to become a patron today!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How To Make Money With Your Blog By Selling Swag

The unfortunate truth of being a writer is that the amount of money you make is directly connected to what you sell. Whether it's ad clicks on your blog, subscriptions to you through kindle, garden variety book sales, or something else entirely the formula is pretty simple; more sales = a bigger check.

This will be on the test. Show all your work.
Unfortunately for a lot of writers out there it's impossible to make a living wage from words alone. We don't have a big company setting up a book tour, nor do we have reporters dogging us to know when the next book is coming out. If we're truly fortunate we have at least a few fans that will show up to shake our hands at conventions, and maybe buy a book off of us.


So how do you rake in the cash to pay your rent, put food on your kids and a table in your mouth (or however it's supposed to go)? Corporations call it expansion into a new and engaging product line. The rest of us call it selling swag.

Can You Self-Publish Your Own Swag?

For those of you who haven't read up on self publishing and how it changed writing as a profession (bear with me this is relevant), here's a quick explanation of how it works. An author writes a book, formats it, designs a cover and goes through all of the steps that would normally be done by a publisher. The manuscript is then submitted to a service like Amazon's Create Space, and it creates ebooks, and print-on-demand books. Ebooks as we all know are electronic books that can be read on an ereader, laptop, smartphone, etc., whereas print-on-demand books are physical, traditional books that are not printed up and bound until someone orders them. For every copy that's sold, authors get a royalty cut.

The reason this works is because authors don't have to pay to print huge amounts of books and store them somewhere to be sold, only making a profit once the stock has been emptied. If no one buys copies then there's no demand, and therefore no printing, which means that the author incurs no loss of funds. If the book sells well then the author rakes in the cash, and if the book doesn't move the author's out nothing but time and effort (along with any marketing budget).

So what's your point?
The point is that you can do this with more than books.

Whether you want to create key chains or bumper stickers, messenger bags, tee shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs or any of a dozen other products you can get them made with the same print-on-demand system you would a book.

Here's How

Step one is to find a website that offers this kind of setup, like Cafe Press or Zazzle. Once you've become a member and poked around at the tools the next step is to come up with a product design. For instance, say I wanted a black tee shirt with a white silhouette of a man in a beret holding a red garotte wire between his hands with the phrase Kill Your Darlings under it and spattered across the back in red letters The Literary Mercenary. All I would need to do is design that image and upload it.

Seriously though, do you guys want me to do that?
Once an image is uploaded all that's left to do is to create a product page. Once the product is saved it will appear on your store. For every product that you sell you get a cut, and if you create something popular then it's quite likely word will get out fast about that clever sticker or brutal tee shirt. Hell, enough people start wearing and carrying your swag they might even decide to buy a book or two while they're at it.

Some Tips For Running a Store

It's important to remember that even if your store is there to help support your writing and book sales that you've got to put a lot of time and work into making it float. You've got to keep putting out new designs, you've got to publicize your products, and you need to do your absolute best to give the people what they want.

In short you're now running a whole creative industry, rather than just writing books.
As if this shit isn't hard enough already.
Can it work? Sure it can! It's very possible for you to hit the right turn of phrase, the right image, or the right product to shoot you up harder than a test-your-strength weight on body builder night. As with everything else though, there's no guarantee. Your store might start netting you hundreds of sales a month, giving you a nice, cushy pad to your bank account. It could also sit vacant and empty as Jerusalem's Lot.

It all depends on you.

Other Ways to Make Money From Your Blog

In the interest of simplicity I've gone through The Literary Mercenary and collected all of my other entries about how to make money off your blog in one, easy-to-find spot. Just click right here, and you'll get access to the whole list.

That said, do you guys want to see me open a store for The Literary Mercenary and Improved Initiative? Because I will, if you do.

Once again, thanks for stopping by! If you want to get all of my updates just plug your email into the box on the upper right, or follow me on Facebook and Tumblr. If you'd like to keep the Literary Mercenary going then tell your family, tell your friends, drop a tip in the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" box on the top right, or check out my Patreon page and become a patron today!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tips and Tricks For Writing Realistic Romance Novels

Relationships aren't easy; ask anyone who's had a few, and I guarantee you that there are going to be one or two horror stories in their repertoires. So why do we keep going back time and time again? Is it because we as human beings are social creatures, and thus we need to feel the strong bonds of community, friendship, and love? Is it because of the huge dopamine rush that makes seemingly reasonable people turn into giggling fools with how happy they are? Is it because no matter how hard and cynical we are it's impossible to deny the appeal of a couple who makes it through all the dark things in the world and remains in love?

It's all of that, and a few other things besides. That's why romance exists as a genre, and it's why it consistently has high sales. People as a species are compelled toward these stories, and it's why authors will not stop writing them.

It's also why fan fiction writers are never going to stop doing... all those things they do.

This week's entry is not here to tell you to stop. All I'm hoping to do is guide other writers past the bigger pit traps in the red road, and to help you all improve your stories so they can be the best they can be.

Savvy? Savvy.

Tip #1: There Is A Fine Line Between Fiction And Wish-Fulfillment

One of the most common critiques I've read (and keep in mind that my reading in this particular genre isn't as extensive as my reading in, say, horror or sci-fi) regarding either romance books or books with heavy romantic themes is the trend toward wish-fulfillment. You could argue that all fiction is just wish-fulfillment, but according to this entry at TV Tropes this term specifically refers to instances where the author sacrificed good plotting, deep characterization, solid pacing, etc. in favor of making a story work out the way he or she wanted it to.

This was clearly written for spatulas who want to believe they can get with knives. Juvenile.
Let me be clear; you're the captain of this ship. If you want to drive it into an ice berg or slam it into a coral reef, then that is your prerogative. However, it is your job as the storyteller to craft a tale that is satisfying, well-written, and which doesn't have any obvious flaws in it.

Let's provide an example of wish-fulfillment, shall we? Let's say that a man decides to write a romance novel. He himself is a hopeless romantic who's had a very spotty record with women, so he decides to write what he knows. Throughout this novel our lead bumbles his way through encounters with beautiful women who are quickly won over by his awkwardness, and develop strong feelings for him. He's trying to choose one of them, but the ladies all get together and decide they love him enough that they will share him with no strings attached.

Sounds a bit gag-worthy doesn't it? It does... but it's also very ham-handed. Most wish-fulfillment is a bit more subtle. For instance, isn't it weird how the motorcycle-riding werewolf millionaire just happens to fall madly in love with the frumpy, middle-aged recent divorcee? Or how the clueless guy who just broke up with by an admittedly manipulative girlfriend just happens to fall right into the lap of a new, beautiful woman who's secretly been admiring his horrible poetry on the Internet for years?

I don't usually say this, especially not on this blog, but some prices are too high to pay for your integrity. That said, there's nothing wrong with writing character with attributes you understand (or that you embody... some might argue Stephen King has made a career out of this). It is sometimes helpful to take a step back and ask yourself just who it is you're really writing this story for/about though.

Tip #2: Don't Skimp on Details

You have no idea how long it took to get to this point.
A common misunderstanding about romance is that it's easy to write. Guy meets girl, guy screws up and loses girl, guy comes up with crackpot plan to get girl back, they kiss, bam! Run spell check, pour a drink, and wait for the royalties to start pouring in.

Trust me, if it was that easy I would be writing this blog on the wi-fi hookup to my personal satellite from the rear deck of my yacht.

Romance is, no joke, the third-hardest thing to pull off in a story (the first is making your readers cry, and the second is scaring them hard enough that they have trouble falling asleep). With romance we're getting out into deep water, where you have to figure out emotional and psychological intimacy, personal bonds, lifelong dreams, and personal preferences. You need to know your characters' fears and desires, what relationships they've been in before this, and what it takes to really make them fall hard for another person.

That's deep stuff, and it isn't easy to realize in your story. It might be tempting to take short cuts. Short cuts like:

- Physical Desire He's handsome, she's gorgeous, what's not to love? Feelings, schmeelings, get to the good part!

- Hand-Waving Backstory No, really, they're totally in love! All that getting to know each other and courtship happened at some point in the indeterminate past. Oh, and they maybe broke up before, but knew they shouldn't have, because they're still in love!

- They Were Meant For Each Other Sure he's a vicious, blood-drinking creature of the night and she's an avowed monster hunter who's been fed hatred since she was born, but it doesn't matter because they were fated to fall in love!

- Because That's How The Story Goes Just look at all the things he's done for her! She's got to love him at this point... what else could she do?

- That's Just Fucking Adorable! Meet cute. So... much... meet cute...

There are other tropes, but these are the ones I'm the most experienced with. What I am not suggesting is doing away with any of these (okay, the fourth one can be thrown in a boiling lake to die screaming). What I am suggesting is that you take a step back and look at what you're asking the audience to believe. Is asking the audience to believe that an FBI investigator can find a career hitman charming and ruggedly handsome unbelievable? No, of course it isn't. Is asking your audience to believe that said agent would throw away any sense of propriety and procedure to have sex with said hitman while he's in interrogation unbelievable?

Yes. Yes it is.

I'll give you a fix, and I'll do it by using a few the tropes above just to prove they do have their places. Let's say the agent and our hitter grew up in the same neighborhood, and they were close friends as kids. They fought the same bullies, had the same classes, and read comic books on the weekends. At graduation our hitter kissed our agent, who was so shocked that he never spoke to his friend again (Yes they're both men in this scenario. That's diversity, deal with it). Our agent went on to college, but his friend was heart-broken by rejection and got mixed up with entirely the wrong crowd. A tough guy who wasn't afraid to to rough work, he helped a small gang grow bigger by drilling the boss's enemies. The boss is growing too vicious, and our hitter wants out. He contacts his old friend, and for a while things are a bit cool. Our agent is struck by his old friend's appearance, from his sleek physique to the sharp way he dresses. Just as the agent is about to open up about all the things he wished he'd said back then, our hitter tells him that he's in trouble and really needs his help. Yearning, danger, desire, and the knowledge that one wrong move could get both of them killed.

That's fucking romance!

Romance is more than the sum of its parts. Physical desire is important, but so is trust, friendship, and sacrifice. If it doesn't cost you anything to love someone (fear of rejection, personal safety, the looming shadow of monogamous commitment, knowing that you're painting a big target on your lover because you have merciless enemies) then there's nothing to give that romance any real flavor.

Tip #3: Romance is About People

Yes, even this guy.
It goes without saying, but it needs to be said anyway; romance is only as compelling as the people involved in it. You know why I decided to put the two lovers on opposite sides of the law in my previous example? Because Americans love their heroes, and they take most of their heroes from the criminal classes (famously said by someone who may have been Oscar Wilde). The rest of our heroes we tend to take from other dangerous professions like law enforcement, bounty hunting, fire fighting, and cow punching.

Seriously though, would the above story of estranged friends overcoming their differences and becoming lovers still work if one was an accountant and the other was a bar tender? Sure it would, because the elements that make the romance work (desire, budding trust, friendship, etc.) are still present in the story. Would your readers still be interested in the relatively boring romantic exploits of people with work-a-day jobs realizing that some things really do come back after you've let them go?

Maybe. But I'm pretty sure more folks want to hear about the shoot-outs, car chases, and undercover stings.

This is one reason in my view that villains and anti-heroes get so much play; they're compelling, and typically more so than the heroes they're placed opposite of. Raoul Chagny is handsome, dedicated man, a decorated soldier (in some versions of Phantom of the Opera), and he's willing to risk death, dismemberment, and worse to save Christine from the Phantom. Erik, the Opera Ghost, is more than twice (sometimes triple) Christine's age, and is a psychologically unbalanced murderer who attempts to blackmail Christine into staying with him in a dungeon that looks like something out of a 19th century production of Saw. To the surprise of no one Christine leaves with Raoul.

Ask fans of the stage production, the novel, or the pulps, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any fans who don't wish, deep down, that Christine had stayed with the Phantom. Why? Because he's interesting! Mr. Fantastic is a genius who accidentally gave his wife Sue Storm, her brother, and his best friend superpowers. That's cool, but Victor Von Doom is king of his own country, posses a similar level of intellect, has old world manners, a sweet suit of armor, and actually seems to notice Sue instead of constantly being wrapped up in his next big experiment. Romeo and Juliet weren't just two teenagers with authority issues; they were the prized children of warring gang lords who with every kiss were leading the city closer to violence and bloodshed.

You see where I'm going here? Anyone can fall in love; it happens every day. If the people romancing each other aren't very interesting though, then your readers are going to set your book aside and stop reading.

This was where this section previously ended, but I felt compelled to put something else here.

The couple that plays together, stays together. While some of you might be snickering thinking that this is where we discuss how much sex you should have your book, that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm using this phrase for is to explain that no matter how cool, interesting, or awesome your characters are, they have to have some believable connection for their romance to feel real.

Let's go back to that millionaire werewolf biker and the recently divorced housewife. Why? Sure it's a nice fantasy; a beyond-amazing man sweeps an average woman off her feet and makes her the center of his mystical, dangerous world. But why does he feel that way about her? What do they do when they aren't making love in the woods or riding down the highway? Does she have a lifelong passion for Harleys, but she had to give up riding when she got married? Is she a nature freak who knows every inch of the woods and valleys around town? Is she an amateur folklorist, as curious about his world as he is about hers?

My point is that while the dopamine rush is all well and good, it does not a romance make. Your job as the author is to convince your readers that no matter how outlandish the couple you've created is, that their love is real. Why does the centuries old vampire fall in love with a 26-year-old girl? Because she's bold and unafraid of him and what he represents? Does she make him remember what life was like when he was young, virile and alive? Is she really good at chess, giving him a genuine challenge for the first time in 150 years? Why does the gently-born princess love the scarred barbarian? Is it because he treats her as a woman, and not as the idea of nobility? Is it because he shows her a world she's never known before? Or is it knowing that she's lived more with him, and he with her, than either of them have done before they began their adventures together?

These are the building blocks you should be thinking about. Big or small, romances are built on lasting traits and shared desires. Whether your couple likes the same video games, is passionate about the same causes, or works in the same profession, that brings them closer together. Opposites may attract, but new rubs off pretty goddamn fast a lot of the time.

So, to Sum All This Up

Here's the short version; if you're going to write a romance novel make sure that you present the relationship in a believable light, that both of the participants are interesting, and that the audience gets invested in their love. Don't rely on cheap tricks and titillation to keep your audience turning pages, and don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get into the nitty gritty parts of this budding relationship.

If you can do that, you too will have readers say things like, "I thought it was great! I didn't feel like I was reading a romance story at all."

Yes people will say this to you. Yes they think it's a great compliment. Thank them, sign their books, and be glad that you have fans.

As always, thanks for stopping in at The Literary Mercenary. If you'd like to support me, my work, and this blog please stop by my Amazon author page (located on the right hand side of the page), leave a small donation in the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" tip jar on the upper right hand side, or drop by my Patreon page and become a patron today! If you'd like to stay up to date on my latest posts and projects then just put your email in the followers box (again on the top right), or follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, or both!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yes I'm Judging You For What You Read. No I'm Not Going to Stop

One of the earliest lessons my parents taught me was that it's wrong to judge people for things they can't control. Sex and ethnicity were what they meant, but as I've grown I've added gender, age, accent (seriously, some people can't help it), and a slew of other factors to the list. I try instead to judge people based on the views they espouse, and the actions they take.

Oh, and the books they read.

So You're Just Like Those People at Slate?

We don't take kindly to that type around here.
For those of you who somehow missed the incident I'm referencing, let me bring you up to speed. About a month ago Ruth Graham wrote an editorial on Slate which you can read right here that calls out adults for reading young adult fiction. The editorial has pretty much everything you'd expect in it, and it's mostly a diatribe with all the ear marks of genre shaming without actually picking a genre to shame (since as i09 pointed out in a rebuttal right here, young adult fiction doesn't have a genre). The short version is "you can read whatever you want, but you should be embarrassed that what you're reading is a book meant for children."

I'm not agreeing with what Graham has to say regarding the shame readers should feel. I am not saying that there's only one type of book that's acceptable to read. What I am saying is that you can get a pretty good impression about who someone is on the inside by seeing what books they read, or which books they refuse to read.

A Literary Personality Test

Do you see a romantic tryst? Or a murder waiting to happen?
It's stupid to judge people on factors that don't actually tell you anything about them as individuals. Using someone's racial background, birthplace, age, etc. as a yardstick to judge who they are internally is a really inaccurate method of passing judgment. Books may not a perfect measuring tool either, but they're a much better place to start.


Because what you read says a lot about who you are as a person. It's a testament to the kinds of stories that enthrall you, and the places you escape to when you have a few spare moments of time. Your books tell me what sorts of escapism you like, and they give me an insight into the kinds of things that give you pleasure. The things you like say a lot about you, and they can be big indicators of whether or not we will get along as friends. They can also be indicators of whether or not I should politely nod and just keep on walking.

You're Still Being Judgmental, Though

Yes I am.

The court of personal opinion is now adjourned.
Since the Slate article is about the whole faux-issue of adults who read YA novels, I'll use that as an example. I don't like YA books. I didn't like them when I was in the age they were being marketed to, and I don't like them now. I feel that most of the books are simply coming-of-age stories wrapped in different packaging, and that bores me. The ability for many of the stories I've read, with Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld as a stand out example, to deliver a solid, visceral punch simply isn't there because authors can't say or do certain things while still remaining YA appropriate. Lastly, while there are quality YA books out there I also feel that many times the standards are lowered and sub-par work is allowed in because marketers have decided that young readers are stupid and will read anything.

Those are my feelings on the subject, but I'm not going to hold someone else to those standards. Why? Because expecting everyone I meet to agree with me is stupid. We're not talking about facts here; we're talking about opinions. There is no way someone can make definitive statements because we're not discussing the laws of reality; we're discussing whether someone likes to drink Coke or Pepsi. People are going to have different feelings on the subject, and those feelings will come with varying degrees of intensity. Some people will feel strongly one way, some another, and some simply won't care as long as they get something to drink.

That said if I am talking with someone who is an adult who reads nothing but YA books then that's a warning sign we might not get along. The same is true if I meet someone who thinks that all horror is torture-porn, or that gay people should be put in concentration camps; these are red flags that tell me I might want to go elsewhere for my socialization.

A Preliminary Exam

Because this is an awkward place to go for a first date.
I'm not saying I go down someone's Goodreads list with a fine-toothed comb and put red marks down for every reading choice I disapprove of. That's childish. What I do instead is listen to what a person reads, but just as importantly I listen to why they read. If someone reads horror purely for the titillation of gore, or because rape scenes give them a chubby, then even though we like the same genre we're there for entirely different reasons. On the other hand someone who prefers YA titles because they like books with female leads and diverse casts understands what they like, and they know where to get it. I might not agree with them, but that kind of self-awareness is a positive characteristic.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. People, even those who look shallow and simple at the outset, can always surprise you if you're willing to pick up a few stones and see what's going on underneath. Books can act as a mainline that will take you straight into an individual's mind, and give you some glimpses of places even they didn't know they had. You can never be certain, but if you had to do a cold read off someone there are few better places to go than his or her bookshelf.

Unless they don't read. Fuck those people.

As always, thanks for stopping by. If you'd like to get regular updates from The Literary Mercenary then put your email address in the box on the top right, or follow me on Tumblr or Facebook. If you'd like to help support me, and ensure you keep getting great content, then leave a donation in my tip cup by clicking the "Shakespare Gotta Get Paid, Son" button on the upper right, or stop by my Patreon page and become a patron today!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Literary Mercenary Needs Your Help!

I regret to interrupt your regularly-scheduled serving of snark and biting wit, but unfortunately there's a rather serious issue I need to let you know about.

The Literary Mercenary is in Some Serious Shit!

I do hope that got your attention.

What's Going On?

I'm glad you asked. Let me break it down for you.

Chapter One: How I Got Fucked
Many of you have heard of Yahoo! Voices, but if you haven't it's a user-content creation website where people write articles and Yahoo! pays them a fee based on how popular those articles are. Yahoo! paid authors between $1.50 and $2 for every 1k page views their content received, and for those of you who don't work on the Internet let me testify that getting 1k page views isn't easy. That said, after half a dozen years of working on this platform off and on I had finally managed to earn a triple-digit royalty check. I was ecstatic, because my views seemed to have nowhere to go but up.

Until a week after this event, where I got an email from Yahoo! informing me that they are shutting the Yahoo! Voices network down completely at the end of July.

What This Means For Me

This puts me in a bit of a tight spot. I've gotten used to having a $40 or $50 royalty check from Yahoo! over the past year and change, and as I mentioned it seemed that I'd finally managed to get into the $100 range. In addition to royalties though, the website also offered up front payments to authors whose work was likely to earn lots of page views. So all told I'm not only out an employer, but the roughly $200 a month that employer represented.

Not enough to kill me, but much like my left leg I'm going to notice when it's cut off.

The rights to my content revert to me, and I'll be finding new homes for a lot of it. However there are no websites that pay for just getting traffic with the closing of Yahoo! Voices; they only pay on ad clicks. That means that no matter how useful, intriguing, entertaining, or helpful my articles are I don't get paid if viewers don't click ads.

How many ads have you clicked during your web browsing today? That's about what I thought.

How You Can Help

No, I am not asking you for money. That said if you have it and are offering it I'll gladly carry that burden for you.

Seriously, I am that kind of friend.
For those of you who do want to help me, and of course my blog, there are a couple of different ways you can do so.

#1: Tell Your Family, Tell Your Friends

This sounds obvious, but I'm going to say it again; if you want to help out then please tell everyone you know about the blog entries you like best. Like and share them on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and whatever other social media you've got. Bring up my blog in conversation, tell that cousin of yours who wants to be a novelist to check me out. If you have a blog, a website, a Live Journal (people still have those, right?), use it as a platform and give me a second or two in the spotlight. Put your email address in the box on the upper right, and make sure that you get my updates as soon as they happen.

The more people who come and read what I've written, the more popular my blog will get. That will make it a popular destination, increase my ad revenue, and generally keep my bills paid while I keep providing all of my readers with more content.

#2: Make a One-Time Donation

If you were walking down the street and saw a street performer you liked you'd toss a buck in his cap. If you want to do the same for me click the "Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, Son" button on the right hand side of the screen just below the email-followers box. This will let you toss some cash right into my PayPal account as a one-time "hope this gets you through the change over" sort of donation.

It's not tax deductible, sadly. I work cheap, but I'm not a charity.

#3: Become a Patron

Patronage has been around since the first artists wanted to quit hunting in order to put murals on the cave walls. For those of you who don't know, I have a Patreon page you can visit by clicking right here. If you choose to become a patron what that means is that for every blog entry I put up you are willing to give me a certain amount of money. This is a reward for me doing good work, and an incentive for me to keep it up. Generally all I ask is $1 per entry, but if a single Washington is all you're comfortable parting with then that's fine too. Just put your monthly cap at $1, and no matter how many times I post you're only spending a buck to keep me going.

Patronage is a big step, and I know that. All my patrons have my most sincere thanks, but since those aren't worth the dregs in a pot of government-employee coffee, I'm giving all my patrons their choice of ebook for free once they sign up.

The cost of the ebook is worth at least three months of support. I'm just saying.

Thanks for stopping by! I should return you to your regularly scheduled blog post as of this coming week.