Herc’s Mercs: Where Angels Fear to Tread

Proudly presenting the cover and blurb for Herc’s Mercs: Where Angels Fear to Tread, coming in January to Amazon and ARe!

Mercs rush in where angels fear to tread…

Lee Albright is a photojournalist who loves traveling and the challenge of his job, but when he’s asked to shoot a calendar for charity, he can’t resist — especially since the models are the men of Hercules Security, some of the sexiest hunks he’s ever seen. Things get even better when he meets Mr. July, Geo Kensei, and the instant spark of attraction between them quickly bursts into an all-consuming flame. 

Geo is exactly the kind of intense, dominating top Lee needs to fulfill all his fantasies, while Lee’s sensitivity and artistic soul tempt Geo to bind the gorgeous man to him with more than just ropes.

Unfortunately their careers force them to part ways, though they’re both anxious for a quick reunion. But in the midst of a war-torn city they meet again, and now Geo, the merc everyone calls “Saint”, must use every tool and skill he possesses to get both Lee and his client out of danger, while Lee has a hard time finding the comfort he needs in Geo’s cold, hard pragmatism in the face of danger. Geo’s intense focus on the mission is all that’s keeping the three of them alive, but will it also end up costing him any chance to be with Lee?

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Self-pub update!

We’ve been working steadily to make as much of our back catalogue available again as soon as possible, and we now have most of the books that aren’t being republished by Dreamspinner Press up at Amazon.

All five of the Herc’s Mercs books are now available! Book 1 was revised extensively; books 2-5 were not. We’re working on preparing book 6 with a goal of releasing it in January 2017. Next month, we’ll have a cover reveal and a give-away for this brand new addition to the Herc’s Mercs series, so stay tuned!

Also available on Amazon: Holiday Hootenanny, Ghost of a Chance, and Call of the Night Singers.

In other good news, we’ve started making our republished works available on All Romance eBooks as well! Herc’s Mercs: The Bigger They Come is now available at ARE, and we intend to add our other works there as well, including the rest of the Herc’s Mercs series.

I’ve reorganized our website a bit. New releases now have their own page. Our stand alone works are now on one page as well instead of being separated into short stories, novels, and novellas and mixed in with the works from a series. I’ve had separate series pages, so that hasn’t changed; I just updated to reflect new information about each series and its status if it’s no longer available.

Herc’s Mercs: Line in the Sand

Amazon processed book 2 in the Herc’s Mercs series a little quicker than we thought, so… Herc’s Mercs: Line in the Sand is now available at Amazon!

Unlike book 1, we haven’t done any revision or updating to book 2 except for the cover. Books 2-5 in the series will be republished as they were originally without any changes or updates. Once we’ve rereleased all the previously published Herc’s Mercs books, we’ll release Herc’s Mercs: Where Angels Fear to Tread, which is a new, unpublished book!

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In order to keep his skill in the field up to date, Alec “Red” Davis, Hercules Security’s chief of operations, takes a job protecting Jon Baldwin, an actor thrown into the spotlight by sudden fame. Although he’s attracted to Jon, who is modest about his success and genuinely appreciative of his fans, Alec knows he has to keep his distance. Even when Jon makes it obvious he returns Alec’s interest, there is a professional line Alec knows he must never cross – no matter how great the temptation.

While Alec accompanies Jon on a vacation to Central America, the two are caught in a devastating flash flood that pushes Alec’s abilities to their limits. Determined to get Jon to safety, Alec has to battle both nature and his own feelings. But when Jon falls ill, Alec realizes that professional integrity won’t mean a thing if he loses the man he loves.

Why Being Responsible Matters

This past week or so has had a lot of negatives, and as McKay pointed out in her post, it’s made writing more difficult. We’re pushing through it, because we have a deadline, but I admit it’s sapped a lot of joy and energy out of our  process. But what I want to talk about isn’t the election, although in a way there is some resonance with what’s on my mind. Specifically, I want to talk about Torquere Press, LLC, how their failure to own up to their responsibility to pay has affected us beyond a loss of money — and why it matters to us.

To be a publisher is to be in a position of trust. Authors bring the fruits of their labors to a publisher, and trust that, in exchange for a percentage of the profits, the publisher will market their work, collect the revenues, then reimburse the author in a timely fashion. This is, in many ways, no different than how it’s managed in my day job. I work for a company that pays me by the hour for my efforts. In exchange for a percentage of my billable rate to the prime contractor, my company collects the revenue from the prime, and passes my percentage on to me. I trust my company to properly bill the prime and give me my cut, just as McKay and I trusted Torquere to collect from the distributors and pass our money on to us.

It was Torquere’s responsibility to pay for certain things out of their half of the revenue, just as it was our responsibility to deliver things according to their schedule, and help promote our own work. Just as we wouldn’t expect Torquere (or any publisher) to assume responsibility for the expenses we incur in writing (for instance, the cost of internet access, computers, or the food we eat while writing), it’s not our responsibility to assume their expenses for running their business. They’re supposed to know what their expenses are and plan accordingly. If things go badly for them, in no way does that give them the right to dip into the profits that belong to the writers and use them for anything else. Period. That is the only honest way to run a business. Using the author’s share of revenues for anything else is irresponsible and dishonest.

Now, I fully realize that there are expenses incurred before a book makes a dime of profit. Editors, artists, ISBNs, etc, all cost money, as does marketing. These are up front costs similar to those in any business, and tend to be an issue more for a company that is starting up, not one that has been in business for years. But my major complaint against Torquere in using that argument to justify not paying us is that in our case, is that it’s pure bullshit. All of our titles except the most recent one were well past the point of recouping the up front expenses, and at any rate, the vast majority of our works were published under Torquere Press, Inc, not Torquere Press, LLC. Which means that the previous owners of the company paid the up front costs for twenty two of our twenty five titles, and Torquere Press, LLC, was just collecting profits off of us. Any expenses they incurred, or losses they suffered, were not and are not our responsibility. If they took risks on authors whose work didn’t pay off, that was not our fault, and we shouldn’t have to pay for it from the money our work earned. If they had medical expenses, or took vacations, or spent too much money on something they shouldn’t have bought, or owed legal fees… again, that is not our responsibility. As professionals, we fulfilled every obligation to Torquere Press, LLC, that we contracted for. They, however, failed us by not paying us.

Which brings me to the subject of our profits. They owe McKay and I each almost $1400 just for 2Q2016 (which includes 1Q2016 from most of the distributors), and I know from tracking our sales ranks that what we’re owed from Amazon sales for 3Q2016 (earned in 2Q2016) is just as much, if not more.

In the grand scheme of things, what is owed to McKay and I might not seem very much. But there is more involved here than just the financial aspects. When Torquere failed to fulfill their responsibility to us, it meant that time we would normally have spent writing was suddenly taken up with other things. Like getting our rights back. Well over 75% of our totally back catalog was with Torquere, which means that we have taken a very large financial hit over and above just the money we’re owed outright. And while we’ve managed to place some of our stories with another publisher, and will be self-publishing others, it’s taking up time and effort that we’d prefer to put into  writing new stories. It’s robbed us of momentum, we resent that almost as much as the loss of revenue. Multiply our feelings and experiences by the dozens of authors Torquere has failed, and it’s a horrible breech of trust.

We do understand that as writers, the failure of a publisher is a risk we take. It makes sense for authors to spread their stories around to different publishers, just to lessen the impact if any one of them fails to live up to their contractual responsibilities. But it’s galling for a publisher to blame the writers for the company’s problems, and even more than that, it’s immature and irresponsible. If a company has problems, it is only professional to own up to them, not place blame everywhere except where it belongs. Not to lie and try to pretend things are fine. It’s irresponsible to ignore problems and hope they’ll go away. It’s immature and unprofessional to ignore emails and other attempts at communication. It’s wrong to make others pay for your own mistakes. It’s appalling that they seem to believe they can walk away unscathed, having misappropriated money that wasn’t theirs. It’s extremely troubling the lesson they are teaching their children by their actions.  They have violated their position of trust — if McKay or I were to do the same thing, we’d lose our jobs. And rightfully so.

We hope Torquere Press, LLC, will step up and take responsibility for their actions and their debts. It’s the right and responsible thing to do, and the only way they can salvage their reputation. But if they don’t, no doubt Karma will catch up with them eventually. It has a way of doing that.

 

First Steps

Ari and I don’t usually talk about our personal lives much here, especially not about politics, but I want to talk about it now.

A week ago, I cast my vote proudly and blithely assumed I would wake up Wednesday morning to confirmation of America’s first female president. Instead, my old friends Anxiety and Depression came to visit as I watched state after state go red, and they’ve been camped out on my couch ever since.

It’s been a rough week for me, as it has been for many people. I’ve never cried over an election before. It’s affected my job performance and my ability to write.

But I’ve reached the point of wanting something concrete to do, so I’ve decided to make a donation each month to a different organization that helps those who are endangered by Trump’s presidency. It won’t be a large donation because a) I’m an adjunct, b) I’m carrying a significant load of debt, and c) Torquere Press hasn’t paid me the royalties I was counting on to help me get through the rest of the year. But I figure every little bit helps.

I started this month by donating to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Next month, I’m going to donate to Planned Parenthood, possibly in Mike Pence’s name. I’m doing research and compiling a list of other credible organizations to donate to down the road.

It’s not much, but it’s my first step toward doing more to make sure there’s a shake-up in 2018 and 2020.

Herc’s Mercs: The Bigger They Come re-release

Ari and I are pleased to announce that we’ve republished the first book in the Herc’s Mercs series, The Bigger They Come, on Amazon!

We did some significant revision because we thought we might release a second edition with a different publisher, but we decided to go the self-publishing route instead. The main changes are that Jude has a better relationship with his grandmother and isn’t quite as caustic, we beefed up the antagonist’s role and personality, and we added some new material.

We’re happy to start making our back catalogue available again, and we’re working on releasing the remaining books in the series over the next few weeks. We’re planning to make them available through Amazon and hopefully through All Romance eBooks as well.

Herc’s Mercs: The Bigger They Come is available here and we’ve got a giveaway on Amazon available here!

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Four free LGBTQ books from Riptide Publishing

From Riptide Publishing: “So many people are devastated by last night’s election. We are too. Today, we thought some people might need a Happily Ever After. Even a fictional one.

So, we are offering four LGBTQ books for free this week, so that anyone, no matter their financial means, can read these stories of love and hope.”

ROLLER GIRL by Vanessa North (f/f contemporary with a trans lead), LEAD ME NOT by Ann Gallagher (inspirational m/m), PICKUP MEN by LC Chase (m/m cowboys), and WHEN TO HOLD THEM by GB Gordon (contemporary m/m).

These books are free through November 16.

I figure a lot of us could use something to comfort and distract us right about now.