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Her Substitute – paperback is being published

Just pushed the button on the print-on-demand paperback for Her Substitute

Her Substitute - publishing the paperback
Her Substitute – publishing the paperback

Should – fingers crossed – be live tomorrow along with the ebook, or if not, a day or so later. Let’s hope!

If you pick up the paperback, please send me a pic – would love to see it in the wild. (Come to think of it, I’d be happy to see pictures of your Kindle or your phone or whatever with the book on it!) In theory it should look something like this render…

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly Writer

Other stuff: I removed the password protection from the second extract, so if you aren’t a newsletter reader (or even if you are) it’s open to you now. So go peek, unless you want to read the book un-spoiled.

The non-Amazon version of the book will go online sometime tomorrow, probably. It might slip to Thursday. I have some big stuff going on tomorrow, but I’m going to try really hard to get it done. Fingers crossed.

Update just in case you turned up here later: the paperback version is on sale here.

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Book extract

Her Substitute extract: Darien transforms

UPDATE: Opening this up to everyone! Enjoy!

Thanks for being here. Let’s get straight to this extract!

This is from much later in the book. Darien is preparing himself for an evening with Jimmy’s phys ed coach, a lecherous douche called Timmerman. Why? Well, you’ll have to read the book and find out. Suffice to say, he’s got an ulterior motive.

From Her Substitute, by Ghostly Writer – Chapter Five

Sitting down in front of Ellen’s illuminated bathroom mirror, he smiled at his boyish reflection and picked up the first item he needed; a black wig cap, which he pulled down hard over his head, enjoying the snug feel. Carefully he tucked every strand of rogue hair up and underneath the material, ensuring no trace of Darien was going to snag anywhere.

The mask of Ellen’s face was lying on the counter, discarded like a used towel. He picked it up carefully, examining it as always for rips, tears, defects. Satisfied, he placed it down gently and caught his own gaze once more. “Are you ready for me to become you again, Ellen?” he asked.

He stared at the mask as he spoke in her voice. “I’m not only ready, I’m eager,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying your performance this week.”

“Thank you,” he replied. He picked up his adhesive material and began to coat his face with it, fanning away excess fumes. He concentrated on areas where he knew the mask would move most – around his mouth and cheeks, across his forehead and around his eyes. He had to be perfect, precise. There would be no second takes, no extra performance. With the adhesive in place he picked up the mask, deftly flipping it inside out and spreading the latex wide to engulf his face.

Leaning forward, he pressed down on the neck portion first, letting the adhesive on his skin grip the rubber. His fingers spread wide, flattening the mask over his Adam’s apple, concealing it. He took his time, making sure he made a solid connection. This was the base for the rest of the disguise. He glanced at himself in the mirror as his fingers crept upwards, smoothing the mask over the bottom of his chin, edging over the bone. Already he was starting to see the difference. The lack of Adam’s apple, the fine lines in Ellen’s neck. His hands moved outwards, fingertips running along the lines of his jaw as he pressed down hard, then moved upwards, adhering the bottom of the cheeks. With the mask fully in place below his mouth, he turned his attention to Ellen’s luscious lips.

Delicately shaped, lightly padded, Ellen’s latex lips were a frequent fantasy for Darien. He loved seeing them, loved wearing them and most of all, he loved using them. He opened his mouth slightly to accept them, pushing them over his own lips, feeling them adhere and embrace him. He knew without his specially fashioned dentures Ellen’s mouth would not be perfectly recreated, but now his lips were hers. Anything he said would go through her. It was a wonderful sensation.

He ducked his nose inside the latex next, while also ensuring the higher parts of his new cheekbones were adhering correctly. He paused for a second so he could apply a little more adhesive. The mask fell forward, exposing half of his face as a middle-aged woman and half as a teenage boy. After a small adjustment, his hands went to work again, rolling and smoothing upwards as the latex formed the edges of Ellen’s eyes, clinging around his eye sockets, covering his own eyebrows. The mask itself had a pair of false, elegant eyebrows within it. Ellen hadn’t yet decided to shave them completely, but instead relied on makeup to enhance them, just as Darien would.

With the eyes and brows completed, he could see the beginning of Ellen. She was looking at him from the mirror, staring intently as Darien pressed down the forehead of the mask, smoothing it down carefully. Within seconds he was finished. He turned his head left and right, pressing down on the odd unintended wrinkle, smoothing the mask, ensuring the fit was tight and flexible. He smiled, and Ellen smiled. He frowned, and Ellen frowned. He laughed, licked his lips, blew a kiss, winked and opened his mouth in shock. Ellen did it all, willingly. Very little of Darien remained. Instead he saw a mature, older woman with a sexy attitude before him.

There were faults, of course. The most obvious, without any clothing to hide it, was the long seam across his breastbone, where the edge of the mask ended. With a blouse, shirt or high-necked dress, it wouldn’t be a problem, and would actually make removing the mask a little easier. Not tonight. Ted Timmerman could see no trace of anything unusual. Darien picked up his liquid latex bottle, unscrewed it and began to paint it carefully over the mask’s edge. After several coats, the difference between mask and skin was barely perceptible – but he wasn’t finished yet. He switched to makeup, ensuring that the latex was carefully blended with the color of his own skin, not too far from Ellen’s own.

Now he was getting somewhere. Ellen Spiller looked at him from the mirror. She was free of makeup, her eyes were the wrong color, and there was something about the set of her jaw that was off. Not to mention her hair was under a wig cap. Nonetheless, she was here. Her presence was in the room. He smiled at her, and she returned the favor.

The sight of her smile sent a jolt through him that made him shudder, involuntarily. Despite his release in the bath earlier, he felt himself growing beneath his female undergarments. He tried to concentrate on other things, beginning his mantra of facts about Ellen’s life.

A cigarette would probably help to calm his nerves. Ellen retrieved one from a nearby pack, which Darien had to reluctantly admit, he’d missed. He lit one of the menthols and slowly dragged on it, savoring the smoke. He blew out gently, enveloping the mirror for a moment. Ellen’s face appeared through the smoke, a vision.

“It’s time I came out of the shadows,” she whispered to herself. “Time for makeup.”

Darien loved putting on Ellen’s makeup almost as much as he loved putting on her mask. It was a socially acceptable mask, in a way. A layer of artifice that women were free to apply whenever they wished. For some it was the only way they could function; it was the mask they wore to be free. For Ellen, Darien knew makeup was a necessary evil. Some days she wouldn’t want to wear any at all, but most days she would apply it carefully. Her immaculate makeup, so painstaking, was one of the main reasons Darien was attracted to her – and had wanted to become her. Now, getting to apply her personal makeup supply to a recreation of her face, he could barely believe his luck.

Again he told himself, tonight was special. Tonight he needed Ellen to look especially alluring, especially seductive. “I think we can do something about that,” she said with a little laugh. He started with eye shadow, choosing a smoky grey that would highlight and draw attention to her eyes. The lighter shade went on first across Darien’s eyelids, and then a darker shade in the crease. Complimented with black eyeliner, his eyes soon looked, well, eye-catching.

A mascara wand was used next, lengthening and thickening Darien’s own lashes to an excellent approximation of Ellen’s. With them complete, he blinked at her face a few times. She smiled in return. Her sexy, come-hither look was working already.

Foundation was next, which Darien carefully smoothed over his false face in an even, beige layer. As well as covering the telltale signs of his mask, it was an excellent excuse to touch and feel the mask itself, and Darien reveled in it, moaning quietly, narrowing Ellen’s eyes as he watched her pleasure herself in the mirror. After a few moments enjoying himself, he switched to blusher, applying a light rose color to his cheeks and setting it with powder. The mask looked more natural than ever, now. Clearly Ellen was a woman who enjoyed wearing makeup, but there was little to no trace of the latex face he wore in the mirror.

His next task was always enjoyable. Lipstick. He’d planned this earlier in the week, having seen the shade in Ellen’s collection. It was a deep, bold red which complimented his sultry eyes and already-painted toes. The liner went on first, outlining his lips. Then he watched Ellen smile as she slowly raised the lipstick’s tip, applying it firmly against her lips and beginning to coat.

Darien pulse was raising rapidly as he watched, feeling Ellen’s lips press against the stick, smelling its sweet scent. He let her tease him, let her take her time and show him how much she enjoyed this. He almost wished he’d invited Jimmy to watch him transform; it might have been his last opportunity. But there’d be other chances, he thought. Other nights.

Shuddering in excitement, he blotted Ellen’s lips and placed the lipstick to the side. His nails were painted next, the same shade as his toes. He added several layers of polish to ensure it was even, then smoked another cigarette as he waited for them to dry. He watched Ellen in the mirror all the while, trying out facial expressions, whispering lines. All trace of Darien had just about vanished now. If Jimmy walked in the room right then, he wasn’t sure how he would answer.

Her hair was still missing, however. With the nails completely dry, he pulled Ellen’s ‘going out’ wig from its stand, flipped it out and placed it carefully on his head, ensuring the lace front was woven into his own hairline. With some bobby pins, a quick brush and some hairspray, his new hair was complete. He tossed it from side to side, laughing. Ellen had rarely looked this good, he thought.

Two more facial alterations remained. The first was his eyes; with great care he replaced his colored contact lenses, changing the color from brown to sparkling green. Finally he picked up the set of dentures he was so proud of and gently fitted them inside his mouth.

He smiled once more, and – there she was. Ellen was complete. Darien was her exact double. Her straight but not perfectly white teeth flashed back at him. They were the teeth of a real person, not an imitation. They were the finishing touch.

“Well, hi there Darien,” she said to him. “Thank you so much for helping me with my makeup tonight. I really wanted to look my best, and I think you’ve helped that happen.”

He said nothing in reply, so neither did she. He sat silently, watching her smoke, appreciating what he saw. It could have been a video, surreptitiously filmed with a hidden camera. Every move, every gesture, every aspect of what he could see was a perfect imitation of Ellen. And it was all coming naturally to him now. He barely even though about what he was doing; with the mask in place, the undergarments that shaped his body and a cigarette in his hand… he became Ellen.

“I could take your place, you know,” he said, glancing at the ceiling.

“You already did,” Ellen replied. “Do you want more?”

“Of course I do,” he said. He lowered his gaze, looking her in the eyes. When she spoke, it was with Darien’s voice. “I want everything. I want your life, Ellen. I want your car. Your house. Your wardrobe. Your jewelry… and your nephew. I want it all… and I could take it, too.”

She nodded, but said nothing.

“If you just stayed in the Caribbean… no-one would ever know,” Darien said. “I could go on living your life. Jimmy doesn’t seem to mind. Nor does Gina, or Tony. I could go on teaching English, and Darien would just drop out of school. It would be perfect.” She dragged deeply on another cigarette, regarding him coolly. “Would you like that, Ellen? A one-way ticket out of your life. A chance to start again with Carl. He’s rich, he could make it happen. And I’m game.”

She smiled then, her eyes lowering. “Sorry,” she said quietly. “You know that’s not possible. You have one more night as me, Darien. I hope you… take full advantage of it.”

“You know I will,” he whispered back.

It was time to get dressed, and complete the illusion.

Ready for more? Buy Her Substitute now!

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Book extract

Her Substitute extract: the bathroom

Hey everyone. Here’s your first extract from Her Substitute, on sale February 1st on Amazon worldwide as a Kindle ebook, and shortly thereafter for a limited time as a PDF/epub format book on Gumroad. (Links available when I have them.)

For those of you who remember Vic’s original story, this was one of my favorite scenes. Our young master of disguise, Darien, is experiencing his first day at school while dressed as Ellen Spiller… and nature calls. What could have been an ordinary (even pedestrian) scene in the teacher’s bathroom was made erotic and exciting in Vic’s original, and I did my best to embellish and elaborate while keeping the original feel intact.

Of course, SPOILERS if you haven’t read Vic’s original story… and if you want to experience the book for the first time on Wednesday.

The second extract will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers, and it’ll go out tonight about midnight Pacific (my time). If you’re not a subscriber, you still have a few hours to sign up.

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News

All the details on Her Substitute

Hello folks! Sorry I went a bit quiet. Been fighting off a cold this week, which is terrible timing. With less than a week to go before Her Substitute arrives, I wanted to answer a few questions and give you a few details. Let’s go!

Her Substitute is launching at a reduced price

Short version: Her Substitute, in eBook form, is going to launch at $4.99. On March 1st or thereabouts, that’ll go up to $6.99. Get it first and get it cheaper by pre-ordering today.

Longer version including a lot of thoughts on pricing and how much you mean to me, dear reader, over here.

Her Substitute is launching in Kindle, paperback and PDF/epub formats

Her Substitute - female mask fiction novel by Ghostly WriterThis is really good news if you hate Amazon, you hate DRM or you hate electronic doohickeys. While you can’t pre-order, on or around Feb 1st (it depends on a few things), Her Substitute will have a paperback version available through Amazon for $14.99, and a bundled PDF and epub version for $4.99 through Gumroad (link will be available Feb 1st).

The PDF/epub version is perfect if you can’t use Amazon, don’t want to use Amazon, or want to read on an alternative e-reader to the Kindle. The paperback version is perfect if you don’t want to rely on batteries or screens, or just want to touch – ahem – something with your hands that feels… good.

However…

The PDF/epub format will be available for a limited time

The reason A Lie Within A Lie isn’t in PDF/epub is because it’s enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which is Amazon’s quite frankly sneaky way of getting self-pubbed authors like me to keep our stuff in their ecosystem. The way it works is, while a book is in Kindle Unlimited, members of that service can read the book for free. I get paid based on how many pages are read. Over time, that amount adds up pretty nicely, while over time generally the ‘real’ sales for books go down.

So, after probably a month or two – I’m not going to set a date on this yet, I’ll see how sales are – I’ll be removing the epub/PDF versions from Gumroad, and putting the book into Kindle Unlimited. I will give everyone a heads-up on this, don’t worry, but it makes sense to me. Am I wrong? Let me know, or more obviously, buy from Gumroad. If the sales are high I’ll reconsider.

Now, what else. Oh yeah.

I’ll have extracts from Her Substitute available here this weekend

… and they won’t be the extracts that end up on the Amazon page (which is the first 10% of the book) or from parts of the story you might know, if you originally read Vic’s wonderful original. Nope. New stuff. Aaaaannd

… there will be an additional extract for newsletter subscribers

I know. Ain’t I a stinker? Look, it’s not like I’m bombarding you with email (er, let’s not dwell on that too much) but if you want to read an additional extract before the book’s out, then hey. Subscribe to get it, is all I’m saying.

The newsletter with the additional extract will go out sometime late Sunday. So, you know, get on that.

 

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News

On pricing Her Substitute

Big topic, this. I’ve thought long and hard about pricing over the years (Yep, it’s been years – Practice to Deceive came out in 2013) and in the end, I’ve decided that a combination of my speed, my genre/niche and my sales all point to one thing: I’m pricing a little too low. Let me explain a bit.

The perceived wisdom on self-pubbed Kindle sales is to price at $2.99 and churn out fiction fast. That might work if you’re writing ‘vanilla’ erotica – and even, honestly, niche stuff, to a degree – but when you have an even smaller audience, it doesn’t work so great. At some point I’ll do a real sales post, but for now, let’s use made-up numbers. Say I sell 10 books a month at $1 each (this is purely for ease of math!). I’d make $7 off those sales, Amazon takes $3. In an ideal world I continue to sell 10 books a month continuously, and I have an income stream. I write more, expand catalogue, and $7 a month becomes $70 a month (10 books) becomes $700 (100 books!) and then somehow, I’m rich.

Except, it doesn’t work that way.

In three years of sales on Practice to Deceive, I’ve probably made a few hundred bucks. Now, I can always reach more people, for sure, and I work to do that through marketing, etc. But, given the subject matter (specifically using masks vs the more ‘traditional’ transgender approach), I’ve got inherent limitations on my audience size. You wonderful folk.

When I first launched Practice to Deceive I’m pretty sure I priced it at $7.99. After a while, seeing all of these people insist that you had to price at $2.99, I dropped to that number. Here’s the thing: sales didn’t change. So, eventually, I settled on $4.99. It’s been that way since.

When I was finishing up A Lie Within A Lie, which is about 30,000 words longer than Practice to Deceive (so, about 150K) I was worried about the price. I was also kind of worried about the subject matter (see this post). It had been a while since I’d launched a book, so I was feeling nervous. In the end I decided to split the book in two, with the first part priced at the ‘must-price’ $2.99 level, and the second at $6.99. Total, $9.98. If I’d launched at that number for one book, I feel confident I’d have gotten complaints, or sales would have suffered. As it was, the pricing seems to work. Sales are pretty equal on both parts, which means pleasingly, people generally seem to want to read the second part after they read the first.

Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that yep, I can price higher than $2.99 for sure, and make more from less books. (This doesn’t mean I intend to write less, but my output isn’t going to go from one, two books a year to 10 overnight.)

Her Smile, by Ghostly WriterI tell you all this because frankly, I’m price sensitive on your behalf. I am personally always looking at my word and page counts, wondering to myself if the price seems ‘worth it’. But, I’ve sat by for way too long seeing many, many transgender ‘novels’ debut on Kindle with a sub-50 page count, for $2.99. (By contrast my only sub-50 page piece, Her Smile, is only 99c – the cheapest you can sell on Amazon.)

By any measure, compared to that, $4.99 for 262 pages for Her Substitute is really a bargain. (Let’s not start comparing with the real world either. Kindle books are regularly priced above that from ‘real’ publishers and of course, what does $5 get you these days? Not much, and I would certainly argue, it’s damn good dollar-to-hour entertainment value.)

As you can tell, this is something I’ve thought about a lot. I’m completely, utterly aware that if I ever want to make ‘serious’ money writing, I’ve got to up my output considerably. As I work on that however, I’ve got to remain sensitive to pricing, and to what the market – ie you – is willing to pay for.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. As always, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me directly via the contact page.

We now return you to our scheduled smut, already in progress.

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News

Quick update for January

Happy New Year. At last. Clearly, I am not dead. Yet.

The New Job (and the newsletter) aren’t dead either. I’ll get it out soon. For those who haven’t, feel free to sign up from any of the spots around the site and get both the newsletter to ignore and access to a piece of fiction that’s been (very) slowly growing.

Writing has been painful as of late. Various reasons, all personal. Trying to grind out the words, but it’s been hard. Hoping to address this soon.

However, I’ve managed to get my shit together long enough that soon – like, within a few days soon – Her Substitute (nee The Substitute) will be hitting pre-order on Amazon. I’ll also have it available away from Amazon, at least for a limited period. Much more to come as the date of release approaches. I think I can say with some certainty you’re going to like it.

For now, leaving you with that, and a generally warm fuzzy feeling, as I’m a nice chap. More soon.

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News

Practice to Deceive: now in paperback (honest)

Hello all! Long time no see. Not that I can see you. You get the idea…

Practice to Deceive - mask fiction novel - 3D coverAt long last, the paperback version of Practice to Deceive is finally available. It’s a real book! Since I first got my proof copy last summer I made a few minor changes – improving the book’s layout, and tweaking the cover a little bit. I’ve updated all of the imagery you can see around the site, and of course the new cover is on Amazon, both in Kindle and paperback formats, and over at Gumroad as a PDF.

As I think I mentioned before, by necessity the paperback costs more than the Kindle version – $14.99 for US customers. That’s because the cost of print-on-demand printing is obviously higher than the cost assigned to a Kindle book. Hope you can understand. As it is, it feels pretty competitively priced; it’s an almost 400 page book, after all. Having seen the proof myself, I can vouch for it being a high quality finished product.

So, if for whatever reason you’ve been waiting to buy Practice to Deceive in physical form… now’s the time to pick it up. If you do, please send me a picture of the book. (You don’t have to be in the picture!) I’d love to see my words in physical form out there in the world.

More news soon. Just wanted to get this out in the world!