Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stop Talking About How Your Writing Sucks!

As writers, we all have moments of doubt. Those times where we look at our work, and just shake our heads at what we've done. Those times when we think about wiping the screen, and starting over from scratch. For a lot of us, though, these are private struggles. Moments we have when we're home alone, or that we'll sometimes share with a friend who understands our creative process, and who can sympathize with our frustration. Generally speaking, though, we keep these moments of doubt to ourselves.

There are some of us, though, who don't. There are some writers who proclaim loudly, and almost proudly, that their work flat-out sucks.

Yes, we're just as sick of them as you are.
If you are one of those writers, I am here to tell you on behalf of the rest of the community that it's time to shut up. Because if you really felt your work was that bad, you would have quit by now.

Honey, Tell Me I'm Not Fat


Proclaiming your work to be awful, and yourself to be a no-talent fake, is the literary equivalent of the sort of compliment fishing we often see in romantic relationships. If you've never been in a relationship, here's how it works. It starts with one partner will say something loud and derogatory about themselves. Maybe a wife says she's fat, or a husband says he's stupid. Most of the time they don't really believe these things. What they want is for their significant other to pat their hand, kiss their forehead, and say no, that's not true. Your waistline is just fine. You're smarter than people give you credit for.

Really, your story is very good.

Seriously, no one has time for your bullshit, guys.
If you really believed your work was bad, would you go on social media to tell all your friends and family about it? Would you spend hours on writing forums telling people that you just didn't have it? And if you really believed these things, would you provide samples of your work to prove to people how bad your writing was?

Or doth the writer protest too much?

Get Back To Work


The only time it's acceptable for you to go out in a public forum and say, "hey, my work is terrible!" is when you're actually trying to find help to get better. Typically cries for help are phrased with what's wrong, followed by a request for other writers to help you improve your habits, or your work.

If you're not asking for help getting better, the only other option is that you're fishing for praise you don't deserve. If your ego is too fragile to get to work without constant reassurances that no, really, your book will be very good and lots of people will love it, then stop writing and step aside. There are folks ready to knuckle-down to do the job, and you're blocking the aisle.

That's all for this week's Craft of Writing post. Hopefully you found it useful, or at least you know someone you can throw it at because you're tired of their long-winded sessions on Facebook. Speaking of which, if you want to stay up-to-date on my latest content and releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help fund my work, and this blog in particular, then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All it takes is $1 a month to buy my everlasting gratitude, and to get some sweet swag of your own.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

5 Questions You Should Ask Every Freelance Client

Being a freelancer isn't easy. You've got to get the word out about yourself, you need to build a client base, and you have to make sure you've got enough work to stay busy while keeping the lights on. And even if you manage to do all that, you still have to slog through endless waves of frustrating bullshit from the people who hold your purse strings.

Because while you might be the artist, a lot of clients appear to forget you're not also psychic.

This looks great, Jim. But can you change the font, the location, the color scheme, and get it to me yesterday?
If you've worked with a client before, and you can navigate their tics, then sail on you mad bastards. But if you want to make sure your future clients are not a strain on your patience and sanity, try asking them these questions before you agree to their job.

Question #1: What Is The Project?


This is probably the most basic question, but too often we let clients make vague, hand-wavey gestures about something they want us to work on. So, before you get roped into an ever-blossoming bloodstain, make sure your client gives you a specific description of what you're expected to do. Is it a short story, is it a re-write, is it a chapter in a textbook, etc.? Get every detail you can, from the genre and tone to the word count. The more specifics you nail down, the easier it will be on you in the future.

Question #2: When Do You Need It?


Due dates are important, and if your client tries to hedge by saying, "well, whenever it's convenient for you to get to it," don't let them weasel out of picking a date. Set a time for when the project is due. Also, it's a good idea to set times for reviews and check-ins to be sure the project is turning out to be what your client wants. Having a due date makes sure you know when it needs to be done, but it also ensures your client can have your money in hand when you turn in the piece.

Question #3: What Am I Being Paid?


Perhaps the most important question in the whole negotiation is what your client is offering you to do the job in question. Are you getting a by-word rate, are you getting a single payment for the whole project, or are you going to get a cut of the royalties? Or is it some combination of all these things? Also, will you be paid on acceptance, or on publication? Make sure you know what you're getting out of this project, and when you should expect it before you put a single word on the page.

Question #4: Where is My Contract?


Not every project requires getting a legal team to draft a huge agreement. With that said, you should get something on paper that draws out the broad strokes of the project. Especially if you want to make sure the client is going to uphold their part of the agreement, and you want something more than a hearty handshake, and their word that they're good for it.

Question #5: What Rights Am I Signing Away?


This is one a lot of us don't think about, but it's worth considering. If you're doing a work-for-hire project, you often give up all rights to the work you produced once you've cashed the check. Is that what your client wants, or do they want your name on the piece to draw an audience? Can you republish the piece later, or do they have exclusive rights? Can you tell other people you wrote it, or are you sworn to secrecy? These are things you need to know before you get started.


That's all for this week's Business of Writing. Hopefully it's helped some of my fellow freelancers out there, or that it prevents pitfalls from those who are just thinking about getting into the life. If you like what you see, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on my posts. Lastly, if you want to throw some support my way, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. As little as $1 a month helps a lot, and it gets you some sweet swag in the process.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

No One Is Going To "Steal" Your Book Idea

We are all protective of our books. We've spent a lot of time cultivating our ideas, fleshing out our characters, and nailing down the finer points of our worlds, and we don't want all of that going to waste. We think our stories are special, and even if we're riffing on a tale as old as time we still think that we have something unique to offer. A cover of an original song in a style you've never heard before, and which you might like even more than the original.

Seriously, though, we all need to get over ourselves. No one is out here to steal your book.

Back... back damn you! This is MY book!

Original Characters DO NOT STEAL!


I don't read a lot of fan fiction, but the above quote seems to be legion on a lot of the arenas where it's enjoyed. These writers feel the need, while playing in someone else's sandbox, to put up big, bright signs declaring who their original characters are, and demanding that no one else steal them. While that's really presumptuous for someone writing stories with characters and a world typically created by someone else, it also shows an extreme arrogance. It is a big neon sign that says you think so highly of the thing you made that you are convinced people will take it, and claim it as their own if given half a chance.

You would have to pay me real money to fix the mistakes in your character, and grammar.
While most of us are not a stereotypical teen who is just discovering the joy and freedom of the creative process, this suspicion still thrives in a shocking number of places. Go to any Facebook group, any subreddit, or any forum dedicated to writing, and I guarantee you'll find authors on there who are looking for help straightening out a story conflict, or fixing a character flaw, but who are terrified of vultures just waiting to swoop down to steal their ideas.

Let me be perfectly clear on this point. We're talking absolute crystal, here. Repeat after me; no one is going to steal your ideas.

It's Not Stealing if They Write Their Own Book


Before you get yourself all in a twist about someone else stealing your firstborn fiction like some no-talent Rumpelstiltskin, answer this question. If you're discussing your idea with someone, or with a community, and your idea inspires them to write their own book, does that stop you from going forward on your own project?

I'll answer for you; it doesn't.

Besides, books being "too similar" never seems to stop them from selling.
You're not doing yourself any favors by treating your book like some kind of secret recipe. Because the people out there who would be capable of seeing a protagonist and a plot line they could turn into a book are already pretty busy doing that with their own books. And the people who would steal someone else's book, claiming it as their own to cash-in? Well, you're not giving them a book. You've presented a general scene, a main character, and a plot complication. Maybe a few hundred words at most, if you're generous.

Ain't no one out there going to try to spin that straw into gold. Because it's too much damn work.

Thieves Steal Books, Not Ideas


There are book thieves out there, don't get me wrong. But more often than not these are the vanity publishers, the shady "agents", and people who are looking for a quick score. If someone writes their own book, even a book that is similar to yours in some way, it won't be the same book you write. Two authors, even working from the same writing prompt, will create two different finished products.

Actual book thieves are only interested in a complete manuscript. Something they can take, then turn around to sell.

So, you're not wrong to be afraid of thieves. But know that no one is interested in the basic structure of your plot, or in your kickass protagonist. It's also not very likely that someone is going to think your story "changing up" the formula for magic, or space travel, is so unique that they have to copy it. Your book is pretty safe, until it's complete. When it is complete, make sure you keep a tight hold on it. Send it to publishers and agents, by all means, but do your research, and see who you're comfortable with. Because your book is a lot more likely to be stolen and abused by some fly-by-night "publisher" than it will ever be by a fellow author.

Also, if any of this was a revelation, you might also want to check out Questions Beginning Writers Ask (That Experienced Writers Are Tired of Hearing).

That's all for this week's Craft of Writing post. Hopefully it helps some folks out there who've been dealing with this issue. If you'd like to keep up-to-date on all my latest releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you want to support me and my work, head on over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. For $1 a month you can easily buy my eternal gratitude, and get some free books while you're at it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Ignoring The Haters" or "The Zen of Not Giving A Damn"

I've been running this blog, along with my gaming blog Improved Initiative, for a few years now. I've published a dozen short stories, been part of at least as many RPG books, and I've got an archive of articles I've set up on the side of the information superhighway over the years. Sometimes, when I'm lucky, people will like and share that content on their social media. A few kind folks will leave comments telling me they like my stuff, and they hope I keep up the good work. But they are in the minority to the negative feedback I tend to get.

Now, of the negative feedback, some of it is valid. People who mention that I missed an errata in the rules, or who point out there's a typo in a subheading, are informing me of genuine errors in my work. Even when that kind of feedback feels snide or aggressive, it still has value because it points out a problem that needs to be fixed. There is another kind of negative feedback I get, though, and anyone who's ever put themselves and their work out there has likely experienced it too.

It looks something like this...

STOP MAKING THINGS!
While cute, this cat represents the massing army of the haters that is constantly recruiting from all corners of the Internet. Some of them hate you, specifically, and they dislike anything you do. Others dislike the idea of what you do, and disagree with your take on a subject, your treatment of material, or just your general stance on things. Then there are haters who just hate, and because you're not on the list of things they like, they hate you on principle. It's not even personal. It's just that in the coin-toss of like/hate, you came up tails.

That can get discouraging, after a while. Especially when it seems like no matter what you write, there's this chorus of naysayers getting ready to shout you down. Fortunately, there's a simple way for you to keep doing what you're doing, and to shed all those haters like a duck sheds water.

Stop giving a damn.

It's Almost That Simple, Actually


You've probably heard this same advice ever since you were little, and someone said something mean to you. Upset, you went to find some comfort. That was when your parent, older sibling, or someone you trusted put their hands on your shoulders, looked you in the eyes, and gave you the key to living a life of zen.

"It doesn't matter if he called you an idiot. He's a dick, just ignore him."

Who cares what he said about your coat. It's warm and comfy, isn't it?
Before you take anyone's words to heart, give those words a simple test. Is there any legitimate criticism within this opinion? Did you misquote a source, incorrectly label the creator of an image, engage in a caricature of a particular group, or present a theory that had been disproven? Or is the person shouting at you simply dressing up, "I don't like what you did!" in different clothes.

Because if they don't like what you're doing, that's fine. They don't have to like it. They also don't have to engage with you, or your work. The door is right behind them. They're free to keep on scrolling, and ignore your happy ass if they so choose.

Listen to Your Numbers


You can have a hundred good reviews, but the five negative ones you got are the ones that will stick with you. You might have an entire comment section full of flame wars and hate, but when you check your traffic and follower count you see that both have gone up substantially. You might get a bunch of shares where people tag your book, or article, as the biggest piece of crap they've ever seen... but despite that, your sales figures are surging.

Numbers don't lie... or have opinions.
While you shouldn't ignore criticism entirely, especially if it does point out genuine flaws in your work that should be fixed, it's important not to get so sidetracked by other people's feelings, or their personal dislike of your style, tone, subject matter, etc. that you lose sight of the metrics that can actually tell you if you're making progress. Because it is not your job to win over the haters, whatever their beef with your work is. Your job is to find your audience, and to give them more of what they want.

Lastly, remember this. Anyone can complain. It takes exactly zero effort to talk about how bad this novel was, or how boring and played-out that series of articles is. It takes work to make something that's better. So, if the criticism is coming from someone who is a creator, and whose work and results you know and respect, that might be worth listening to. If it's coming from Joe-schmo, sitting in his boxers and ranting on Facebook about how unimpressed he is by your work, let him rant. It isn't worth the amount of time it would take you to fire a synapse and raise your middle finger.

Also, because it should be comforting, hate can also make you a lot of money. More on that in How To Make Money As A Writer (By Embracing Your Inner Troll), if you're curious.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing topic. Hopefully some folks out there have found it interesting, and possibly useful. If you want to keep up-to-date on all my releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you'd like to help support me and my work, then head on over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All I ask is $1 a month as a donation, and for that you get both my undying gratitude, as well as some free books!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The K.I.S.S. Method (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Books can be complicated. Take a long-running fantasy series like Lord of The Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire. The former has a massive history, a complicated world, and a cascade of actions from the dawn of the world leading to the present adventure. The latter is a political thriller with magic, where dozens of major noble houses, and hundreds of minor ones, all jockey for position in a story line filled with betrayal, murder, and more secondary characters than you could shake a stick at.

But while those books are complicated in the details, the thrust of their stories are fairly simple. In the first story, a magical Weapon of Mass Destruction has to be thrown into a volcano in order to destroy it. In the second, the fight for who sits on the throne of a kingdom is steadily eclipsed by a fight for the entire world, with a massing army of monsters just over the horizon as petty factions fight for scraps rather than uniting against the looming threat.

One sentence. Easy to follow. K.I.S.S.
The problem is that many of us will miss the forest for the trees when we look at the masters, and try to emulate their complexity in our own work without understanding the bedrock simplicity that supports it. So instead of a clock, which runs crisp and clean, we end up with a Rube Goldberg device that technically does the job, but by the time we reach the end we've totally forgotten what we set out to do in the first place.

The K.I.S.S. Method


K.I.S.S., in case you didn't intuit it from the title, stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. In short, if you're writing a story, make sure you can draw clear lines from where you are, to where you're going. Even if you're putting together a convoluted spy thriller, or a sleight of hand mystery, you need to be sure that everything makes sense once the reader reaches the end.

The easiest way to do that is by keeping things as simple as you can.

Don't make us find the lady for your plot.
As an example, let's take The Maltese Falcon. Private detective Sam Spade takes a case from a woman he's pretty sure is lying to him, and he quickly finds people trying to bribe him, follow him, and shake him down for information. His partner is gunned down in the streets, he finds gunsels and thugs around every corner, and it just keeps getting worse. He has little to no clue what's going on, and every time a new figure steps on the scene things get even murkier. It's not until the end when the deus ex machina is revealed that we finally get all the answers to all our questions.

However, the plot is simple in terms of structure and story. Sam gets embroiled in a conspiracy between four thieves, each of whom are trying to get their hands on a valuable artifact they stole as a group. Despite all the back-and-forth, the changes of allegiance, and even the gun play, the story is simply a gang of criminals where each individual is trying to get their hands on the loot before the others do.

The Importance of Simplicity


Simplicity should be thought of as the foundation of your story. It is the tale you're trying to tell, free from any bells, whistles, or plot twists. Everything, from your hero's needs to your villain's motivations, is something you should be able to explain simply, even if the story attempts to make those things more convoluted.

As an example, take the film Die Hard. It's a classic movie full of twists, turns, fakes, and convoluted decisions, but it can be summed up by Holly's reaction to Hans Gruber's plan. "After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common thief."

With uncommonly good dialogue
For all the other complications of the plot, from Gruber's fake-out at being a terrorist, to the manipulation of getting the feds to cut the building's power, to John picking off the invaders one by one, that's the plot in a nutshell; a heist movie with a cover story.

Simplicity gives you firm footing to stand on when you start building your story, and hanging window dressing. It is the bedrock that keeps your story anchored, no matter how strange or colorful it gets. As long as there is a clear through-line, and your readers can see it, then you'll never lose anyone. Even better, you won't get lost in a plot morass because you ended up making a swamp when you were trying to grow a forest.

Just remember, if you start running into a problem, what is the simple solution?

That's all for this installment of the Craft of Writing. If you liked it, and you want more, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you'd like to help support me and my work, why not head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page? All I ask is $1 a month, and for that you buy both my everlasting gratitude, as well as some sweet swag of your own.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Don't Need A Degree To Be A Writer

I remember when I was a teenager, and I made the decision to be a writer. I was already a voracious reader, and thanks to extra credit assignments I was passingly familiar with writing short stories for my English classes. So I took the next step, and started writing out of school, putting together stories and universes in the clumsy, excitable way most writers do when they take their first steps. Several year passed where I made progress, and my enthusiasm for the written word remained undimmed. Then I realized I was approaching that mystical age of 18 where I was going to be expected to go to college and choose a career.

I knew what I wanted to do. Problem was, I didn't have the first clue about how to do it.

Problem is, no one else seemed to know, either.
The problem with being a writer is that it's one of those jobs people know exist, but they have no idea what the hiring process entails. It's like being a fashion consultant, or a bounty hunter... there are people who get paid to do these things, but the general population scratches their heads regarding how you get that job. Most folks assume that writing is one of those things you train for at college. After all, that's where journalists and media people get their skills, so why wouldn't it be the place you go to get your degree in creative writing?

You can do that, if you are one of those fortunate people who have a lot of money laying around, and you need to spend it in a hurry. If you actually want to work as a professional writer, though, then that degree isn't going to be worth the paper it's printed on, much less the checks you wrote to the bursar's office.

There's No Universal Way To Be The "Right" Writer


Most careers you go to college for have some kind of universal standard you're being trained to. If you're a doctor, then you're learning how to diagnose illnesses, how to perform surgery, etc. If you're a lawyer then you're learning how the law functions, how to argue within the bounds of the legal system, and what the rules governing our actions really are. Whether your major is research or telecommunications, teaching or psychology, you are learning the skills and rules required to do a given job. A job that is going to be performed within a certain set of boundaries you need to be trained into.

The problem is there are only three rules to being a good writer... and no one knows what the hell they are.

They were lost in the great ruin of Answeria, where dwelt the winning lottery numbers, and the key to successful marriage.
Taking creative writing courses can be helpful, don't get me wrong. You can learn about the elements of story, get feedback on your work, and most importantly, get practice writing (and completing) stories. You can talk to people who have more experience than you, who have been on the inside of the industry, and whose creativity plays well with yours.

With that said, you can achieve all of those things on your own without paying the costs of college classes. You can sign up for writing symposiums, get a writer's group together, go to conventions, read blogs and books by authors telling you about their experience, and submit your work to forums and other places to get feedback. You can learn just as much, and make just as many publishing connections, that way.

Lastly, though, a creative writing degree is useless for a specific reason; publishers aren't buying your degree. They're buying your book.

Will People Buy Your Book?


A degree is a statement that you have been trained by a university in a given field. Even if it's just a welding certificate, your school is stating that you have the skills to do a particular job. Which is great... but a college's assurances isn't what publishers are buying.

This is more what they're interested in.
Publishing is an old-school trade, in the sense that your employers are buying your work. They don't care where you learned to produce it, who taught you, or who you studied under. What they care about is if you can do the job. So if you can write stellar magazine copy that gets readers to actually subscribe and take an interest in a publication, the editor isn't going to care if you got your degree at Princeton, or Cornfield U. Most of the time the publisher doesn't even care if you went to college at all. They only care about one thing.

Can you do the job?

No one can teach you how to write a compelling novel, or short story. You can't get a red stamp that makes you an ace reporter, or which guarantees you can write great product descriptions. Nothing can make you a great script writer... except one thing.

Practice.

Once you go through the process enough times, you'll find something unique happens; people start coming to you. Whether it's readers who want more of your stories, or publishers who have seen your other work and want to hire you, nothing guarantees your tomorrow like the work you put out today.

So sit down at that keyboard, and bleed. Then just keep doing that, day after day, until you get where you want to be.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing post. Hopefully it helps the writers out there who are wondering how the rest of us do the job, and it stops you from making a foolish decision. If you want to make sure you don't miss any of my updates, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. If you want to help support me and my blog, then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. All I ask is $1 a month, and I'll give you both my everlasting gratitude along with some sweet swag to call your own!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Want To Be A Better Writer? Stop Second-Guessing Yourself

As I've alluded to before, I've been an author for some years now. And before I was an author, I was a young writer trying to figure out how to become an author. I read every genre book I could get my hands on, I picked up the usual how-to guides, I took creative writing classes, and I shared my thoughts and ideas with other writers that I knew.

Some of the other writers I knew when I was younger made the jump from writers to authors (which is to say, from those who wrote as amateurs to those who write as professionals), but not all of them. Not even most of them, if I'm honest. Now, part of that was because not everyone wanted to make that leap. They were perfectly content writing as a hobby, or as a group activity, and they didn't really have an interest in making a career out of it. A lot of folks did, though. However, there was a major problem that stopped many writers who wanted to go pro from doing so. It wasn't their vocabulary, their plots, their subject matter, or even their voice or quirks. It was, simply put, a lack of confidence in their stride. They would take a step, maybe two, and then they'd hit that backspace key until they were right back where they started.

No, wait, I've got a BETTER idea!
There's nothing wrong with deleting text that genuinely doesn't work, and going in a different direction with it. However, if you find yourself constantly asking if you should start over, or start another project entirely, then you might find yourself in need of a firmer stride.

A Bad First Draft is Better Than NO First Draft


You've probably heard that phrase before, but a lot of writers don't really appreciate it. Mainly because, for many of them, the fun is in all the build-up to the project. That's when your synapses are firing, you're creating a world, and you're drunk off the first shot of your new idea. When you're fleshing out your characters, making up your plot, and naming everything, you can feel like the most brilliant son of a bitch who ever put words to paper.

Then the writing starts. For a lot of folks, that's where the fun ends.

Well... what if this isn't the right project? Could I go and PLAN a different one?
Second guessing can take a lot of forms. Maybe you re-write your opening chapter ten times because it never sounds just right. And then, when you finally do get it right, you want to throw it away because it sounds too much like Tolkien, or Martin, or another author you've read a lot recently. It's even possible that you get halfway, or most of the way, to the end, and then decide to scrap it and start over. Or put it in mothballs, and start something else instead. Because it isn't right, or it feels boring, or you don't have the same energy you had before.

Imagine, for a moment, that you had a friend who really wanted to get in shape. They did all their research, and figured out the ideal diet, and the best exercise routine based on their body type, their interests, and their goals. The first session is hard, but they feel it's going well. They struggle a bit with the second, and the third. Then they skip a day, and claim they're trying to reset. Then they show up, and try again, but taking all their weights and reps back to start. The same thing happens. Then they decide to try a different program entirely, thinking that maybe they weren't getting the results they wanted because they were using the wrong method. But they keep bouncing around, switching, and stopping.

Are they still getting a workout? Sure. But that isn't the point of the exercise. The point is to mold yourself into a finished product. If you're constantly backtracking, changing, and not going forward with your book, you have the same problem. You're burning a lot of calories, but adding no page count.

Finish First, Polish Later


Writing, much like exercise, is all about building a habit. It's about programming your mind and body to do the heavy lifting. It takes a while to set a habit, and it takes even longer to unlearn one.

That's why finishing a project is so important.

Don't even think about it.
How many times have you read a bad book, and said, "I could do better than this!" Probably a lot. But it takes just as much effort to write a bad book as it does to write a good book. It takes even more effort to edit that book, get a contract for it, get it edited, and release it to the reading public.

Finishing anything is hard. But once you start doing it, and refusing to stop until you have at least a rough draft, it becomes habit forming. Once you're used to finishing, then you can build your other skills. But being able to write perfect prose does you no good if you never finish what you start.

That's all for this week's Craft of Writing post. Told you I'd get around to it. If you want to make sure you stay up-to-date on all my releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you want to support the work I do, why not head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today? All it takes is $1 a month to get my everlasting gratitude, and some sweet swag, so stop on in today!