Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gay Rutgers Student Commits Suicide After Being Harassed

Update: I'm leaving this post up for the weekend because it's been such a devastating week for so many people and because these events have touched so many people. And here's a link to my friend Ryan's blog that goes into more detail and offers links and phone numbers where gay people in crisis can find help:

I've been watching this story all week and wanted to post something about it. My blogging buddy, Ryan, posted about it on facebook. And because Rutgers University isn't far from where I live it caught my eye. According to aol news, "The Rutgers University student who committed suicide after two students allegedly streamed a video of his gay sexual encounter over the Internet may have reached out for help before killing himself." It's worth the time to check out the link and read the rest of the article.

Years ago, in small towns, it wasn't unheard of to learn that young men, especially effeminate young men, killed themselves for no apparent reason. It was always kept quiet by the family and always swept aside. Everyone in town knew the reason, and no one ever discussed it openly. And it's obviously still happening today, in spite of what some people choose to believe.

I've ranted about how characters in my own books have been reviewed poorly by readers who are living in social dream worlds when it comes to knowing and understanding what it's really like to be gay. In this post I tried to explain to an online book reviewer that it's not at all what you see on TV or read in magazines. Gay men, in most parts of the country and around the world, are still facing harassment and all kinds of abuse and shame. They don't all have options and choices, and some even choose taking their own lives as a way out.

Unfortunately, this Rutgers student took his own life for reasons directly related to the fact that he was gay. He didn't think he had any options or choices. He probably had no self-esteem and he couldn't accept who he was. And I know there are many others who either comtemplate or do commit suicide for reasons directly related to them being gay. Even though we've come a long way, and there are people living in liberal west coast cities who think young gay men have all the choices in the world, young gay men are still being bullied and harassed.

But there are people working hard to change this. They want to help and offer guidance to young gay people who don't think they have any choices. We just have to be louder and push a little harder, until all gay people have the same choices and options as everyone else.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Release by Michael Russell: FIRST FLOOR ON FIRE

Elisa Rolle has been doing an author survey for a while now, discussing what authors read and how these books inspire them. I still haven't submitted anything to her because my tastes are so eclectic as a reader I'm not sure what to submit.

However, I'm reading FIRST FLOOR ON FIRE right now and I'm enjoying it. It's not a m/m romance and it's nothing I'd write myself, which is probably why I'm enjoying it so much. Books like this keep me grounded and connected to the real world. I'm from the Philadelphia area and I know the setting in this book well. And though I love reading m/m romances as much as I love writing them, once in a while I need a good dose of reality, too.

So check this out on amazon. If you're a fan of the TV show, "The Wire," or the movie, "Precious," you'll enjoy this book by Michael Russell. And remember, you saw it here first.

Here's the blurb and the link:

First Floor on Fire is a conflicted love letter to dangerous outcasts and misfits.Imagine a Greek tragedy in the North Philly inner city. First Floor on Fire has a passionate anger and emotional complexity that could appeal to audiences who loved Sapphire’s Push (the book Precious is based on) or season four of The Wire. The story centers around Nevaya Briggs, a strong, fragile, complex African-American teenager who must fight a predatory principal who thinks he’s saving her, an abusive mother, a collapsing school system and a violent classmate. Her ally is her openly gay brother Donyair, who must also battle a bigoted world while hiding his affair with his older brother. A seasoned teacher, Ms. Dee, tries to protect Nevaya, but Nevaya has learned to never trust adults. When she rejects her principal's advances, he manipulates Nevaya's enemies to exact revenge, and the consequences are disastrous. Every adult in Nevaya's life has let her down, and she will fight anyone to save herself from getting hurt even more deeply.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RIP: Jill Johnston

Jill Johnston passed away on September 18th and I didn't learn about it until last night while I was reading "milestones" in Time Magazine. I watch the six o'clock news every night and didn't hear this mentioned once. But I'm not surprised. The local news seems geared more toward sports fanatics than cultural fanatics these days. Don't get me wrong. I love sports. But I like a balance, too. And it would be nice to actually get some news while I'm watching the news.

Who is Jill Johnston?

For those who don't know, Jill Johnston was the feminist author of LESBIAN NATION and a writer for The Village Voice. She started writing a dance column for TVV back in 1959 when it was just a little paper in The Village no one ever thought would last. From there she went on to write several controversial pieces that kept her often at odds with the feminist movement throughout the l960's. TVV even refered to her as, "the country's first shamelss public lesbian."

During a debate in New York in l971, Johnston had a three-way kissing session, in public, with two of her friends, which casued more than a few raised eyebrows then. And I think it would still raise a few eybrows now.

But for me, Jill Johnston was the beginning of an era for gay liberation and equal rights. Jill and other gay people like her started a movement that not only liberated gay people in general, but also opened up doors for books and other cultural mediums that might not exist today if it hadn't been for their courage.

If you're l, g, b, or t, I urge you to read her work. If you're not and you're interested in the lgbt community, you'll find her work just as fascinating.

RIP, Jill.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waiting to Hear From Dalia...

I'm waiting to hear from Dalia!!

Who is Dalia?

Dalia is the talented editor and artist who just finished editing my new short story, SIR, YES SIR, and creating the cover art for the book.

I'll post more about the book as it gets closer to release. But I wanted to thank Dalia right now for working so hard and being so damn talented. When I get links to her blog and her info, I'll also post them here so if anyone's interested they can check her out, too.

I write fast. If I had to I could probably write a novel in a week. My personal best is three weeks and that was tiring. However, when it comes to cover art I don't know which way to look for help.

And when someone like Dalia comes along and I see how excellent she is in both areas of e-publishing, I think it's time to applaud!

Friday, September 24, 2010

What is the Problem with Parenthesis?

I don't totally get this. There seems to be some kind of ban on using ( ) I haven't heard about (smile).

I have a degree in English from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham-Madison Campus, I've been reading novels all my life, and I've seen ( ) used time and again. In Anne Tyler books, I think her funniest, wittiest moments were done with the use of ( ). In stream of consciousness literature it's essential to use ( ).

So why is it that I can't seem to get one single story or novel past a copyeditor without being slammed for using ( )? I don't do it often (bigger smile). I swear I don't. I only do it when I want to insert something into the text that's not related but what I think is important to the reader.

There seems to be this ban against ( ), because it slows the reader down. At least this is what I've been told by copyeditors in their twenties. I never object either. I'm nice that way. Unless it's something that's going to change my story completely I let them have at it with a huge smile on my face. After years of writing, this falls under the category of life is just too damn short.

But I can't help wondering who started this rumor about ( ), and that we have to race through novels and if there's a set of ( ) in the way it's going to slow us down and ruin the entire book. I agree they shouldn't be used too often, like adverbs and overusing the word that. But I have a feeling it's the same person who thinks dialogue tags shouldn't be used anymore and the reader should have to suffer through figuring out who is speaking from page one (huge smile).

How Can President Obama Help Us With Bad Book Reviews?

This post was prompted by a facebook post I read late last night. A young author received a bad review and he was absolutely devastated. I felt bad for him. My heart broke. But there was really nothing I could do other than offer support. Every author has to learn how to deal with bad reviews in his or her own way.

I've been lurking around the Internets long enough to have experienced all kinds of book reviews. For the most part, I've been thankful. But I've had a few bad reviews, too. One in particular was for AMERICAN STAR. It was ripped to shreds in a quasi satirical review that left my jaw hanging. Not because of the bad review or for the fact that there was a technical glitch beyond my control as an author that left a character's name mispelled throughout the book. And not because the reviewer didn't spell my name right (smile: you have to love Irony in this case). But because the book is a satire. This is clearly written in the blurb. And I didn't understand the logic behind roasting a book about pop culture that is already a roast about pop culture. I'm almost tempted to add the link here just so anyone reading this can get a good laugh. (Ah, what the hell. Here it is.)

If you're going to put yourself out there on the Internet, in any capacity, from business person to author, you're setting yourself up for criticism of all kinds. And you'd better be ready to take it. Everyone has an opinion and almost everyone feels the need to share it in public. I've been sexually harassed by one very popular gay book reviewer to the point where I had to block him from all my social networks. I've even had my books slammed on amazon because reviewers didn't like the prices, which are completely out my control. All I can say is it comes with the territory. And, most book reviewers are excellent, they truly love what they are doing, and they care about their readers. So there is a bright side as well.

When I read the young author's facebook post about his bad review, I couldn't help thinking about President Obama. These days it seems no matter what he does or says he's getting slammed from all sides. How he takes all this criticism is anyone's guess. And no matter how bad it is he still manages to get up every morning, face the day, and continue running the country with a big smile for his critics. It can't be easy. And when you think about his criticism compared to a silly little book review, it just can't compete.

So if you're a new author and you receive a bad review. Take it in your stride. If you plan to continue writing, the odds are you're going to get more bad reviews in the future. And they will always be written by someone who knows it all, knows how to manipulate an audience, and feels compelled to express his or her exhaulted opinion for the sake of literature around the world and throughout the universe. And when you think about how the President deals with criticism like this on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, it's comforting to know it could always be worse.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do Gay Men Like Being Called Boys?

I've seen it and heard it all my life. Straight people, without meaning harm, referring to a gay couple as The Boys. I know a successful attorney who has been openly gay all his life and straight people refer to him as one of the boys. It doesn't matter that he can buy and sell them ten times over. It doesn't matter that he has more education and more life experience. In their eyes, he's a boy, not a man.

In my lifetime, I've been called a boy many times. At parties, the wife will shout, "The Boys are here." It's always been used as a term of endearment, and no one meant any harm. But it always made me cringe. When I was younger it wasn't so bad. But as I get older and gain more life experience, I find it more insulting than anything else. I'm not a boy. I'm a man.

And I can't help wondering how other gay guys feel about this. It's so unconscious it's never actually discussed. There's a popular TV show called The Fabulous Beekman Boys. These guys don't seem to mind. They make their goat cheese; one has a bestselling book out. The could have called the show The Beekman Guys or The Beekman Men. They could have omitted the word fabulous altogether. But they chose the word Boys. Did it even occur to them they didn't have to be called boys? I'm not even going near the word fabulous. I don't use it often enough to care.

Maybe I'm reading too much into all this. I never corrected anyone for calling me a boy. But lately I've been thinking about doing it just to see what kind of reaction I get. You tend to get that way as you get older. But try calling Donald Trump a boy and see how he reacts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Buyer Beware? Huh?

KEVIN LOVES COWBOYS hit number one in the erotica category this week. This little short story stand alone surprised me even more than A REGULAR BUD did.

But I'd like to make it clear that this is gay erotica, not gay romance. And it's a short story stand alone and not a full length romance novel. I noticed an Amazon a reviewer from a place called Broomall, Pennsylvania slammed KEVIN LOVES COWBOYS with a one star rating and a nasty review because he was under the impression it was a novel, not a short story. He even wrote something like "Buyer Beware," as if we were trying to fool him on purpose.

How this guy didn't see this is a short story is beyond me. It's listed all over the web as a stand alone and no one's trying to fool anyone into thinking it's a full length novel. I've even posted about it here, on this blog, as a short story back when it was released. I can only assume this reader didn't do his homework and doesn't understand digital books yet. The price alone, $2.00, should have led him to believe it's not a full length novel.

But you can't win them all (smile).

Don't Ask Don't Tell: Interesting How Some Democrats Want to Continue the Ban

Even a nice day in Carmel, CA can dampen. And yesterday's vote to continue DADT did worse than that to millions of lgbt people around the globe.

But what I find interesting is how the mainstream media is saying the GOP blocked the repeal. And I'm not even very political. I know the GOP didn't help us, but seriously, the Democrats are supposed to be on our side and some still voted to continue the ban.

I did a little checking to see who voted for continuing DADT and who voted for stopping it. It's interesting to read. I've posted it below for anyone else who is interested in seeing exactly what happened. And, even sadder for me, some of the Democrats who voted against the repeal are in my own state, Pennsylvania (cringe).

After reading the way some Democrats voted, I'm starting to think my gay republican friends from the Log Cabin Club haven't been completely wrong. Because if a Democratic elected official is not on my side, I'm not voting for them. We've supported too many Democratic candidates in the past who have ignored us and turned their backs on us when we need them the most, especially when it comes to marriage.

by Ken Rudin
In the wake of yesterday's House vote — 234 to 194 — to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars gays and bisexuals from serving openly in the military* — one thing stood out the most:

Rep. Mark Critz, the Pennsylvania Democrat who won last week's special election to succeed the late John Murtha (D), a victory heralded by Democrats everywhere, voted to continue the ban.

Rep. Charles Djou, the Hawaii Republican who won Saturday's special election to succeed gov candidate Neil Abercrombie (D), a victory heralded by Republicans everywhere, voted to repeal the ban.

Five Republicans, along with 229 Democrats, voted in favor of repealing the ban. The five Republicans: Judy Biggert (Ill.), Joseph Cao (La.), Charles Djou (Haw.), Ron Paul (Tex.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.).

Opposing the repeal were 26 Democrats, along with 168 Republicans. The 26 Dems: Marion Berry (Ark.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Rick Boucher (Va.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Chet Edwards (Tex.), Bob Etheridge (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Solomon Ortiz (Tex.), Colin Peterson (Minn.), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Ike Skelton (Mo.), John Spratt (S.C.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.).

*Officially, the House vote enabled a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" 60 days after the military, in a report due by Dec. 1, decided it would not be disruptive.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: And if you want to see how all the representatives voted,
here's a link to the official roll call.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carmel-by-the-Sea this Week

Other than taking a few weekend getaways this summer, I didn't go anywhere. Actually, I haven't been away for a while. This is partly because of work and deadlines, and partly because I have two dogs and I take them with me everywhere I go. I don't like leaving them at a kennel, I don't like leaving anyone alone in my home, and I just don't feel comfortable leaving them in someone else's home. Last summer I picked up a puppy from the side of the road, took her to the SPCA where they contacted her owners, and was shocked to find out the owners were away on vacation and they'd left the puppy with a dog-sitter. This freaked me out, so I take my dogs everywhere.

Right now I'm in gorgeous Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, and my dogs are with me. Carmel is the most pet-friendly place in the world. I can take my dogs anywhere and no one even looks twice. I've been here before because it's so pet friendly, and I've even set one of my books here. It's a short story stand alone, titled, BILLABONG BANG, that will be released soon. I'll be here until Friday. I'm visiting old friends I haven't seen in ages from Monday until Thursday, and then I'm driving up to San Francisco to visit a few more good friends. Then it's back home again on Saturday.

But I'll still be working and checking e-mails at least three hours every morning from Carmel, and I'll be posting regularly. That's the great thing about working from home in the digital age. You can work anywhere, at any time, and you don't have to feel guilty about going away.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Making Money on Facebook

About six months ago I "friended" a young guy on facebook who seemed like a nice person. For all I know, he still is. He lives in New York, he's a struggling young performer, and his brother happens to be a well known local personality in the Philadelphia area. I live in New Hope, PA, which is on the border of New Jersey and directly in between New York and Philadelphia. So I know of all the local news and TV personalities in both New York and Philly.

This young guy also happens to be gay, and so is his semi-famous brother in Philadelphia. And I think it's important to support other gay people all the time. In the beginning, I didn't think much about this young guy's facebook posts. At best they were cute; at worst they were trite. They were mostly about how hard he's working to build his career in the music industry. Good for him and good luck.

But a couple of weeks ago I noticed something interesting. This same young guy started posting about raising money to make a brand new CD. Evidently, it costs around twenty thousand dollars to do this and this guy decided to hold his own personal fundraiser on facebook to raise the money. Facebook users can contribute anywhere from five dollars to 1500 dollars, and there's even a facebook page where this guy lists all the things he's going to do for people who contribute large sums of money. I'm not sure exactly what these things are, but for fifteen hundred dollars someone gets to have lunch in New York at this guy's favorite restaurant (not specified in detail) and they get to enjoy his company all afternoon. Remember, this is an unkown twenty-something singer, not an actual recording artist.

When I first saw this a huge red flag went up and I just started ignoring his facebook posts. And then I started getting private messages from other people on facebook who had seen the same posts this guy was making and some of these people were absolutely livid that he'd have the audacity to beg for money on facebook. So I checked again and saw that he did, indeed, get thirty-five people to contribute so far and he's made about four thousand. Not bad for just posting a few photos on facebook and adding quips and comments about how talented he is.

I'm not weighing in with my own opinion on this one. If an unknown entertainer can hawk people on facebook for money and get away with it, it's none of my business. I wouldn't do it now and I wouldn't have done it when I was in my early twenties. And I certaily won't donate a dime to THIS cause. And if my younger brother were doing this, I have a nice long talk with him. But I have read and heard more negative comments about this guy than I've read or heard positive comments. Which takes me back to my former posts about facebook. Be careful what you post. It's going to be around for a long time. When people contribute money to a cause, especially during hard economic times like these, they like to know it's going toward a charity that's going to help someone in need. And from what I've seen so far, a cute little gay guy trying to make a new CD, who may or may not even have talent, isn't the kind of need they care about.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lori Perkins Wins Golden Apple Award for Agent of the Year

Last night, Lori Perkins was the recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Agent of the Year. I can't even begin to say how happy I am to see Lori win this. She's nurtured more authors, started more careers, and sold more books than I can count. And she did this all as a single mother who now has a son in his first year of college. I know first hand how hard Lori has worked and still works. It's often said that talent and hard work usually win out in the end. And in this case, they certainly did. Below is a post I just pilfered from Lori's blog with the speech she gave to accept the award. I'm just sorry I couldn't be there last night when she won.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Golden Apple Awards
This evening, I was given the Golden Apple Award from the New York Chapter of the Romance Writers of America as Agent of the Year. It is quite an honor.
Below is the speech I made:
"I am so honored to be given this award tonight. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
As many of you know, I have been a literary agent for two decades, where I really started as an agent of horror fiction. I am responsible for the sale of more than 250 vampire novels, and many of them have been romances, although we didn’t call them that years ago.
About 10 years ago, we started calling love with the proper vampire 'paranormal romance'. The romance community truly embraced me, and my writers and junior agents, and made us all feel loved.
I was also an agent of erotic fiction written primarily by women,. They too were taken in by the romance community and you will find many of my authors writing erotic romance happily ever after because they now have a much larger readership.
I am thrilled to be part of this amazing community that continues to grow and support each other, as well as other writers. And this RWA chapter is a dynamic force in this incredible universe.
Thank you so much for this award."
The Golden Apple Award, which fits perfectly in the open palm, is truly one of the most stunning awards out there. Mine has already found its place at the center of my living room table!

Check Out Nate Berkus

Okay, if you love m/m romances with happy endings, you have to check out the Nate Berkus show. Or, as they say, "The Nate Show." I've been DVR-ing it all week and watching it before I go to bed at night. I can't tell you the exact channel. But if you have verizon fios all you have to do is a search and then program it into your DVR.

One night he had Dolly Parton on the show. She sang in all her glory, the lights went down, and Nate actually started crying right there on the set. I'm not sure why he was crying, but it certainly did get the audience into quite a kerfuffle. By the time Dolly was finished singing, and Nate was still wiping his eyes with the sides of his hands, there wasn't a dry eye in the studio.

Though The Nate Show will never feature m/m romances on daytime TV because that's just much to risque, I still think it's worth watching if you're a fan of m/m romance novels. Nate Berkus is the type of gay man I often base my characters on. He's irresistible to women who love gay men, and has a natural ability to connect with these women on an emotional level. And he does it without coming off as a stereo-type. But more than that, he seems like a genuinely decent guy all the way around.

So do a search and check Nate out. Like I said, if you love reading m/m romance, you'll love The Nate Show. And, he's very easy on the eyes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MY FAIR LADDIE: Thanks for all the E-mails and Comments

When a book is released you never know how it's going to be received. At first, you just hope and pray your regular readers will like it and maybe a few more will try it out. But you can't predict anything. And each book seems to have a life of its own. I spend a lot of time promoting books, but I'm not one of those in-your-face authors who is hocking his books on every single social network in the universe. I don't want to come off looking insincere, and I don't want people feeling awkward, and I honestly don't have time. Besides, I've been around long enough to know that over-promotion really irritates people in the long run.

But with MY FAIR LADDIE, I've been inundated with e-mails from readers commenting on how much they enjoyed the book. This sort of thing happens once in a while with certain books and it's always a nice surprise when it comes so unexpectedly. I usually receive e-mails from readers all over the world, especially with THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE. But this time, with MY FAIR LADDIE, I've been swamped with nice comments and positive remarks.

And I'd like to thank everyone up front for taking the time to comment. I will get back to each and every reader individually. It may take a week or so. But I will get back. And for those who requested signed book plates, I'll get them out as fast as I can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Six Things You Shouldn't Do on Facebook

I read an interesting piece on yahoo I wanted to share. Since so many authors and readers are on facebook, these six things you shouldn't do make a lot of sense. And I have seen all of these rules broken at least once. Link is here.

Your Birth Date and Place
Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you've just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.

Vacation Plans
There may be a better way to say "Rob me, please" than posting something along the lines of: "Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!" on Twitter. But it's hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don't invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you'll be gone.

Home Address
Do I have to elaborate? A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing. Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn't even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren't confident that their "friends" were really just people they know.

You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. Need proof? In just the past few weeks, an emergency dispatcher was fired in Wisconsin for revealing drug use; a waitress got canned for complaining about customers and the Pittsburgh Pirate's mascot was dumped for bashing the team on Facebook. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for "misuse" of social media.

Password Clues
If you've got online accounts, you've probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom's maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song. Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You're giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Risky Behaviors
You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney? Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to So far, there's no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare. But the technology is fast evolving.

Stop Ebay Sellers Who Rip Off Artists

This post isn't about me or book pirates. This one is about a topic I've been following for a while now. One of my favorite artists, Paul Richmond, whom I'm linked to on this blog, found out there's a creep stealing his work, passing it off as his own, and selling it on ebay. This isn't just about Paul's work being stolen either. As an art collector, I think it's serious because it's also consumer fraud. Nice people are buying this art, thinking it's something that it's not, and they are being royally screwed over by this scam artist. Below I'm posting all the info Paul Richmond has been posting about this. He's even offering a prize for people who are willing to help him. It's a facebook message and links to where people can support him. So if you're tired of seeing people get ripped off in the internet, artists and consumers, please take the time to read it.

Paul RichmondSeptember 14, 2010 at 7:56pm

Subject: Prize for helping promote the group

Hi everyone,Thank you for joining my Facebook group "Ebay, stop sellers who blatantly rip off artists!" Our group is off to a great start, but in order to send a loud and clear message to eBay, we need reinforcements. So I'd like to ask you to do a little grassroots recruiting by sharing a link to the group on your profile, blog, Twitter, Digg, and/or any other sites you frequent.Here's the link to share:

And to sweeten the deal, if you do so before Friday, September 17 at midnight, message me with a link to your post(s) and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a free limited-edition giclee print of my painting "On Display, Starring Michael Breyette." Are you an especially prolific social networker? If so, post it EVERYWHERE you see fit and include all the links in your e-mail to me.

Each post will count as a separate entry in the drawing, so if you post it 50 places, your chances of winning will skyrocket! Sending a good old fashioned e-mail to your friends counts too, or notifying popular blogs/news sites that you think might be interested in our project. ANYTHING you do to help promote the group counts, and it's all greatly appreciated! Good luck!

We are having great fun on the blog with our on-going dialogue with the eBay rip-off artist Cai Jiang Xun. For those of you who haven't checked it out in a while, it's definitely worth a read (the visuals alone are hysterical):;

I'm so grateful to my friends, the fabulous "staff" of Pinup Fantasy©, Inc., for helping transform a frustrating situation into a fun project. I do, however, want our Facebook group to be more than just a place to recount the wacky adventures we're having with Cai Jian Xun. This problem is much larger than just one eBay seller. I'm going to start posting links to suspicious art listings that I come across in the hopes that you can help identify the artists' work being ripped off. Likewise, if you come across anything, please post it to the group's wall. If we can help other artists becomes aware of the issue so that they can report the violations to eBay, then we can really start to make a difference. I'm also going to begin a running list of eBay sellers to watch. In the meantime, a good starting point is MJART Gallery, home of our prolific friend, Cai Jiang:; With his 1,500+ listings, chances are many of you will recognize something.

And if you have any other suggestions about the group, let me know! We have some big plans and opportunities coming up for national exposure. I'm excited to have all of you on board. If you haven't seen it yet, we were already featured on Out in America:;

Thanks again! Good luck with all of the blogging and tweeting! I'll post the name of the contest winner on Saturday morning!

All the best,Paul

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facebook Posting Should be Taken Seriously

I'm probably going to get a little heat from this post, but I figured I'd write it because I've been on facebook and other social networks since most of them began and I've learned a few things by watching and reading posts written by other authors. And, this post really is just for authors, not for people who use social networks like facebook and twitter for personal enjoyment.

Most author posts are enjoyable and interesting. They help you find out about their books and tell you where you can purchase them. Other author posts are about personal things, where authors discuss the things they love, from pets to food. One male author is always talking about his love of the point where I've had to go out and get a cupcake after reading his posts. The one thing all these authors have in common is they always post something readers and fans will enjoy. Some talk about the charities they are involved with, which always interests readers.

And then there are other authors who mistake facebook for personal pages. They rant about their family problems, their dysfunctional relationships with their mothers, and how depressed and lonely they are because they don't have dates. And this always puts me off, especially when they are so blunt about it. I've read author posts on facebook that made me blush, and it takes a lot to make me do that.

The point I'm trying to make is that whatever goes down in print usually remains there, whether it's an e-mail or a facebook post. And sometimes a negative questionable facebook post might be the only thing a potential reader remembers about an author. So if you want to rant about how Aunt Nancy treated you on Thanksgiving, or how much you hate your mother or your significant other, get a different facebook page that's just for family and friends. You can monitor it and post whatever you like to the people who love you. But on your professional page you should be more careful, because no one really does love you there. They want to love you, but if you make it too difficult they are going to turn their heads and completely ignore you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Excerpt: My Fair Laddie

Below is an excerpt from MY FAIR LADDIE that hasn't been published anywhere. You can find a full description and in depth excerpts here. But I like to publish a little of something that hasn't been published anywhere in case people are still wondering. And if there are any questions about any books, feel free to e-mail me. I can't promise I'll get back immediately, but I will get back.

As Harlan walked to his desk, Larvin followed him. “I’m not so sure I want Wilbur back,” Larvin said. “And if you want to keep him around for a while, it might be the best thing for everyone. You get your young boy, and I get some peace of mind. But I can’t let you have him for nothing, you see. I’m interested in talkin about an arrangement. I’m just takin advantage of my rights as Harlan’s father, and you surly don’t think I’d just let a good lookin young boy go like that for nothin.” He looked Harlan up and down and smiled. “You look like one of the good ones, Dr. Henderson.”

“Good ones?” Harlan said, holding his chin in his palm.

“Yeah,” Larvin said. “You know, real classy, like a real man. You’re not one of them lady-boy poufs, with a limp wrist and a swishy walk. You don’t pluck your eyebrows, talk with no lisp, or wear no make-up. Why you could pass for a straight guy any time, you could. And I can’t fault you none if you have a likin for innocent young guys like me Wilbur.”

Fritz cleared his throat. He’d remained silent until then. “You should be aware, Larvin, there’s nothing wrong going on here. Everything Dr. Henderson is doing with Wilbur is completely legitimate and strictly professional. Dr. Henderson is an excellent linguist and teacher, with the best reputation.”

Larvin laughed and covered his lips. “I’ll bet he’s very good at what he does. If he wasn’t, I’d ask for two thousand.”

“Are you saying that you’d sell your own son for two thousand dollars?” Harlan asked. Harlan had been around and back, but he’d never met anyone like this man before.

“Do you have any morals?” Fritz asked.

Larvin shrugged and looked at Darvin. Darvin was biting the nail on his thumb now. His face was turned sideways and he was chewing with his back teeth. “When you’re as poor as me,” Larvin said, “you can’t afford to have morals.” Then he sat in the chair across from Fritz and sighed. “Look at me, I got a homosexual son, a wife who won’t leave the house, and a half-witted homosexual nephew over there standing against the wall suckin on his fingers. I ain’t seen England since the day I left and I’m stuck in that rat hole where I live until the day I die. I’m only askin for one thousand dollars. Just for all it took to raise me Wilbur and get him ready for the likes of men like Dr. Henderson.”

Harlan rolled his eyes and laughed. He patted Fritz on the shoulder and said, “Since he put it this way, maybe I should give him two thousand instead of one. Just because he’s such a good Christian.” Then he walked behind his desk and reached for his check book.

Larvin stood up. “Oh no,” he said. “I only want one thousand, is all. I wouldn’t feel right takin a penny more than that. I have me own limits.”

Fritz stood up and took a deep breath. While Harlan wrote the check, he rubbed his jaw and said, “Too bad gay marriage isn’t legal, Harlan. If it were, you could just marry Wilbur and it would be much cheaper.”

Harlan ignored Fritz. He knew Fritz was joking, and he didn’t want to start a new conversation about marrying Wilbur. His only interest in Wilbur was academic. And now that he knew what Wilbur’s background was really like, he was even more determined to make something out of the boy to keep him away from these wretched people.

“I just don’t understand why you people are always goin on about gettin married,” Larvin said. “I never married Wilbur’s mother. Didn’t see a reason for it.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Are There Truly Only Seven Basic Storylines in the World?

Many of my books are gay versions loosely based on traditional romances. If you take the time to read the books you'll see that although the storylines are similar, the way I tell my stories is extremely different from the way the other stories were either written or produced in film. For example, in GAY PRIDE AND PREJUDICE the two main characters live in modern times, the setting is South Beach, FL, and there are many original steamy, sexy scenes I've added that have never been done before. And not the way I've done them. I started doing this mainly because growing up as a gay person I never had the opportunity to read about gay characters in romantic, emotional, sexy situations. There were a few serious literary gay novels out, of course, but they were always so glum and serious I longed for something light with a happy ending.

So I decided to re-write a few of the stories I always wished had been written for gay people. As a culture, until recently we, the lgbt community, basically took what we could get and never complained. I do, in fact, write about gay culture as I know it from my own experience as a gay man. And though the titles of some of my books are similar to other straight romances, not to mention satirical in many cases, the contents of the books are very different. And I seem to be hitting a nerve because I've been getting many, many positive responses from readers who always wanted to see these stories done as gay versions. If I'd been wrong, trust me I would have stopped writing them and moved on to other things. I've been in publishing for a long time. I know when something works and something doesn't work. For me: It's. All. About. The. Reader. And so far they seem to be enjoying these books.

I don't do this with my short stories. But even though these short stories are not loosely based on any well known straight romances, there's only so much you can do with storylines to make them different. At least this is what I've always been taught, and what I've learned in my twenty years of writing. The thing that sets each storyline apart, even if it's loosely based on something else, is how the storyline is written. In other words, what makes this different from something else? How is it unique from another version of the same storyline?

TV sitcoms do this all the time. I've seen the same storylines repeated over and over for years. The big differences are in the way the storylines are rewritten, and how they are executed by the actors in the sitcom.

I read an interesting piece the other day I wanted to share, about how there are only really seven basic storylines in the entire world. I do think there are more, however, storylines are not infinite and I also think most books are all rewrites of other storylines that have been done before. You can check out the piece I read here. And I've copied and pasted the introduction to the piece below.

According to the British journalist and author Christopher Booker, there are only seven ‘storylines’ in the world. In his book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, a work that took over forty years to write, Booker surveys world literature, outlining commonalities and showing that, although there are a multitude of tales and endless variety in the telling, all narratives are really variations of the basic seven.

Booker’s work is detailed, interesting, and very long—over 700 pages—but his message is simple. Whether they represent the deep psychological structures of human experience or whether they are merely constructs of tradition, no matter what the story, you’ll find one or more of these basic plotlines:Read more at Suite101: The Seven Basic Plots: Christopher Booker Examines Common Narratives in Storytelling

Friday, September 10, 2010

Will the Internet Kill Magazines?

I've been posting a lot about e-publishing lately, from what it's like to work with an e-publisher to an in-depth interview with a new breed of literary agent that is focusing specifically on authors who publish with e-publishers. And last night while I was reading through my latest Architectural Digest I came across an interesting full page ad.

Evidently, the people who work in the magazine industry are fighting back. Magazine Publishers Unite & Unveil Industry-Wide Ad Campaign Promoting Strength of—and Consumer Commitment to—Magazines and you can read more about what they are doing by following this link. There are all kinds of ads out now promoting magazines. But the one I saw in Architectural Digest really caught my eye because of the title.

In bold print, it says: Will the Internet kill Magazines? Followed by this: Did instant coffee kill coffee?

If you think about it logically, they make a good point. I still subscribe to several magazines: Time, Architectural Digest, and People. I also have both regular coffee and instant coffee in my pantry. But the problem here isn't about instant coffee killing regular coffee. It's more about the automatic coffee machine killing the old fashioned coffee pot. I don't own a coffee pot. I own three different coffee machines, though. None of my friends own coffee pots anymore and I doubt most would even know how to use them if they were asked to make coffee in an old fashioned coffee pot.

So the argument presented by the magazine industry is lame at best. And I'm speaking objectively here. I love magazines. I look forward to them. My fiction has been in many magazines, and one is being released in a German magazine this month. Magazines get me away from the Internet and all the noise on the Internet. And I'll subscribe to Architectural Digest until I can't anymore. But I don't think I'm speaking for most people. This is why magazine ads have dropped off and magazines are folding. Even in my local area, where there used to be some nice little magazines promoting tourism, I've seen each edition grow thinner and thinner as they are released.

And this all ties in with the book publishing industry. With the advent of e-readers like the Kindle, publishers started losing readers because they weren't keeping up with what people wanted and needed. And with the advent of the ipad, it doesn't look as though anything is going to change. And it's affecting all ages, not just younger people. My seventy-five year old mother only reads books on her ipad now. She took courses on how to use it, and she won't go back to print books. For younger people in their twenties it doesn't even occur to them to subscribe to a magazine.

Everything changes sooner or later. And I hope the magazine industry figures out a way to pull through. But I don't think it's going to work with the ads they are using right now. And I'm very sorry they weren't thinking about all this five or six years ago when they should have been watching the Internet instead of laughing at it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm in the middle of editing the sequel to THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE, which will be titled, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE'S WEDDING, so I'm posting about this brand new release early. It will be available in digital format at tomorrow, and in digital bookshops.

MY FAIR LADDIE is a tale set in Savannah, GA, in present times, with a Pygmalion storyline. But instead of a wretched young girl and a dignified older professor, I used a wretched young guy and a dignified older professor. It's interesting how the dynamics change with two gay men. These differences astounded me while I was writing this book. And I've even incorporated a few interesting surprises that have never been done before.
Young Wilbur Munroe doesn’t know a soup spoon from a salad fork. He speaks with a quirky combination accent of British cockney and southern redneck. And although he makes his living working as a manual laborer for wealthy people in Savannah, he dreams about a much better life than what he’s known.

Dr. Harlan Henderson is a world-famous teacher of applied linguistics. He’s spent most of his life studying and writing about the differences between regional and social class dialects. And in his spare time he enjoys the company of rough, working class bi-sexual men who never put emotional demands on him. At thirty-nine years old, the last thing he’s looking for is a life partner.

But when young Wilbur trips over an urn filled with pomegranates at one of Harlan’s infamous Savannah parties and spills pomegranate martini on a Georgia senator, Harlan’s life changes forever. Though his first instinct is to fire Wilbur, he’s mesmerized by Wilbur’s wretched accent and his bold spirit.

When Wilbur returns the next day to ask Harlan to teach him to speak well and turn him into a perfect gentleman, Harlan is willing to take on the challenge. Though Harlan’s best friend bets Harlan can’t do this, Harlan forges ahead anyway. He moves Wilbur into his home, works with him night and day, and refuses to stop until he sees results. Only he doesn’t notice Wilbur is falling in love with him. And by the time he does, it just might be too late.

Do these two completely different gay men from opposite backgrounds have what it takes to make a life together? And will Harlan ever be able to put his huge ego aside long enough to listen to what Wilbur is trying to tell him?

Reviewing M/M Romances and Being Called Boy

I am now, and always have been, a huge supporter of women writing m/m romances and other m/m fiction. I even support straight male authors who do this. As a writer, I don't like being put into a box and told I can only write in one genre, and I think this applies to all writers. I'm also a fan of many straight women writing m/m fiction. Michele Montgomery is one, and G.A. Hauser is another.

But I do get slightly confused when I see reviews and comments about m/m romances that attack social issues, especially when they are written by people who don't know what they are talking about. I'm an openly gay man and when I write about the interactions between gay men and the dynamics of their relationships, I'm not googling this information. I'm writing directly from my own personal experience. And it annoys me when someone who isn't a gay man decides to question my own personal experience as a gay man.

I'm not going into detail. But this has happened many times. One reviewer in San Francisco decided to question my character, Chance, in AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN a while back. She didn't like the way I'd written him into the storyline as being trapped and without options. Well, that irritated me to no end and I contacted her (she was very gracious and we ended on a good note). Not every gay man has the option of coming out of the closet and waving a rainbow flag. There are still places in this country, and the world, where being gay isn't accepted and there are many gay men, young and old, who don't have the option of telling the entire world they are gay. And though I wrote a happy ending with this book, if it hadn't been a romance the ending would have been far more realistic.

I could go on with examples. But my basic point here is to keep this post short and to let people know, without any questions, that gay men write everything based on experience. And when someone who is not gay questions their personal experience, it's confusing. I often feel like going after them with a huge smile and a long list of classic gay books they need to read before they start making comments about things they simply do not understand.

There's this other thing, too, that confuses me. I don't lose sleep over it, and I usually smile when it happens to me (often). But do all straight people think it's endearing to refer to gay men as boys? Seriously. Try doing this at the White House and see what happens to you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Reliable Are Online Reviews for Anything?

First, I'm not talking about book reviews written by serious online book reviewers. So don't get all worked up into a huge snit until you read the entire post. Joyfullyreviewed, dearauthor, and others like them are not the people I'm posting about today. Like them or not; agree with them or not; they work hard at what they do and they provide a viable place for readers to find out what books are like before they make purchases.

What I'm talking about are book reviews on amazon and other web sites that sell books. And I'm going to start the post with something I experienced recently. I saw an ad for granite counter tops in a local magazine. I've wanted them for a long time and the price was right. So I called and made an appointment to see one of their sales reps. I liked him, ordered the granite without even looking at it, and in less than a week it was installed without any problems whatsoever. And when it was finished the sales rep called and asked me to leave a review about their company. He told me he'd appreciate it because his competitor is so jealous he's getting sales because of his special offer the competitor is leaving false nasty reviews about the company. And I checked it out when I left my own good review, and I was amazed at how many negative comments there were. Mostly because I had such a great experience. I liked them so much I recommended them to friends, and my friends had a great experience. And all the nasty reviews had two things in common: they were all posted anonymously, and all gave nothing but superficial negative comments without any actual descriptions.

I couldn't help comparing this experience with some of the experiences I've seen with regards to book reviews on places like amazon. The bad ones are always short and snarky, and always written anonymously or with ridiculous, contrived names. And the good ones are often just as bad, which leaves me wondering whether or not the author's family and friends left the reviews to help the author promote the book. The problem is most authors can spot a fake book review a mile away, but most consumers can't, which is unfortunate. They trust these reviews and base their purchases on them, which is even more unfortunate.

Personally, I'd like to see an end to all anonymous online reviews...for any product. They are often false, misleading, and can't be depended on. And if anyone wants to leave a valid review, there should be forms to fill out and these people shouldn't be afraid to leave their real names, in bold print, and stand behind their words.

The point I'm trying to make is that consumers simply cannot trust every single review they read on amazon and other sites like amazon. If I'd read the reviews about the granite company I used and taken them seriously, I would have missed out on a great deal on new granite counters.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Michael Nava for Judge, San Francisco Superior Court

I know, I'm not from the San Francisco area. But I've been following Michael Nava for a long time and it takes a lot for any political candidate to impress me. He's openly gay, has a long time life partner, and he's working hard to go up against tradition so he can make positive changes. If I lived in the San Francisco area I'd be going door to door helping get him votes. But the best I can do is post a few of his e-mails here for readers. If you're in the SF area, please take the time to read these. And please pass this on to anyone you might know in SF.


Greetings from the campaign trail

---It was a year ago this month – just before my 55th birthday on September 16 – that I decided to run for the San Francisco Superior Court. It was not an easy decision. I’ve been a lawyer for almost 30 years. I realized that in a couple of years I could retire and begin another career, maybe as a teacher, or return to writing fiction, or pursue any one of my many interests outside the law.

But in the last few years it has become clear to me that the lack of diversity among California’s judges is a serious issue on many levels. It means that for young people from disenfranchised communities who want to enter the profession – young people of color, women, LGBT people – there are few role models and mentors to look to for encouragement, inspiration and assistance. It means that the people most likely to be ensnared in the legal system on both the criminal and civil side –poor people of color –are confronted by a system in which no one looks like them or has had their life experience. When I was a young prosecutor in the early 80’s, often the only other Latino in the courtroom was the defendant. I fear that that has not much changed.

I entered the race to change the status quo and help create a judiciary in San Francisco that looks like the community it serves.

We are now in the last stretch of this race. It has been hard-fought campaign and my opponent has tried everything from frontal assaults to backroom political maneuvers but the people gave me the highest number of votes in June and, if I can continue to get my message out to them, will give us victory on November 2nd.

I cannot begin to express the gratitude I feel for those of you who have supported me in this long and exhausting effort; I can only hope to repay that debt by becoming the best judge and public servant I can be.

In these final few weeks, I need your help more than ever. If you have considered making a contribution to my campaign, in whatever amount, now is the time. My budget requires me to raise $60,000 between now and mid-October. That money will go to sending out mailers, paying for slots on slate cards, and other forms of advertisement. Help me across the finish line by making an on-line contribution at or downloading the contributor form on my website and sending a check to: Michael Nava for Judge 2010, PO Box 78403, SF, CA. 94107.

Thank you, Michael

What is it about Free Books on that Brings Out the Haters?

Ravenous romance offered a group of books on for free about a month ago. They did this as a special gift to loyal readers to give back for so much the readers have given them. And I love when they do this. I love that my readers get a chance to get a free book. It's like the old book-of-the-month clubs I used to belong to, where after you buy so many books, they send you a free book of your choice.

I also love giving the free books away because it's my choice; it's the publisher's choice. And with all the book pirates out there just stealing everyone's books it's nice to have this control over them. Without going into pirates in this post, I actually had one tell me he pirates the e-books to know whether or not he's going to buy the print books. He doesn't think e-books are important, and doesn't think they deserve to be treated like print books. I know; he's an idiot who must believing under a rock. What else can I say?

But, the interesting thing about publishers giving away free books is that while it is a nice gesture for readers, and all authors love doing this, it does tend to bring out all the haters. Oh, they crawl out from beneath their rocks and slither toward the light. You know, those Internet loons who can't wait to spread all their negativity. By haters I mean those people who don't leave good constructive book reviews. They just leave one or two lines about how much they hated the book...blah, blah, blah...

My book, AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN, is one of the free books on ARe right now. It's been there for free for about a month. This book was released almost two years ago, it's had wonderful reviews, and it was bought by Alyson Publications in collaboration with Ravenous Romance for the Alyson line of erotic fiction. This was an honor for me. I have the highest regards for Alyson Publications and everything they print. And to be part of their list was a nice quiet accomplishment for me as well. There's even been talk about doing a m/m movie based on this book, but I can't go into details about that right now. Generally speaking, this book has made me happy.

Now, I have always stood firmly that I believe everyone has the right to review and offer their personal criticism about what they read. I may not always agree with them, but I agree it's a good thing to have this type of freedom of speech. Personally though, I have a problem leaving bad reviews for books I didn't pay for. It's a freebie; I'm thankful someone gave it to me and if I don't like it I just smile, nod, and move on politely. But I do find it interesting (and almost a little funny) that the haters just can't wait to get a free book and trash it. You just know, instinctively, these are not the type of people you'd ever want to socialize with in public. Tacky is as tacky does, and it's just as simple as that.

Thankfully, for the most part, I have received so many wonderful thank you e-mails from nice, decent readers who were thrilled to get the free books it all balances out. I even sent a few of them free e-books on my own, without the publisher knowing I did this (I don't think they'd get upset; they're cool about these things). And just so the haters know this for sure, I'll be giving away as many free books as I can and the haters don't have any control over me (smile).

Besides, I don't think anyone really takes any anonymous reviews about anything seriously anymore. I wouldn't trust a review for a toaster on Amazon if the reviewer didn't leave a valid name. It's becoming the biggest joke of the Internets. I had granite counters installed in my kitchen last spring, and I have an interesting blog post coming up about how the granite company has to deal with their competition leaving negative reviews. And it's not much different from books, movies, or anything else in the internet.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interview with Saritza Hernández, ePub Agent

These days I've been posting a lot about the differences between self-publishing and e-publishing, so I decided to contact Saritza Hernández, an ePub Agent with the Lori Perkins Agency in New York. I was curious about what an epub agent does, and she was gracious enough to answer few questions. And I can't thank her enough. I've learned a lot just from reading through the answers.

Could you explain to people who don't know what an e-pub agent does what your job entails?

Sure! My job is not any different from the other Literary Agents out there, to be honest. Most of the time I'm reviewing query letters, reviewing contracts, preparing pitches, creating submission lists for my clients and networking with editors. I suppose what is most different is the communication medium. While NY agents are talking with editors on the phone and face to face, most of my contact with editors and publishers is done via email. We meet in person at conferences and do spend some time on the phone together going over discussions better suited for the phone than novel-length emails but a good portion of my communication is via e-mail. My Blackberry is my constant companion. I'm also the marketing department, editor, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on (or punch) for my clients. I spend as much time some nights working on ways to improve a book's exposure as I do "talking down" an author whose works are out to submission and begins the self-doubt train of thought.

How does an e-pub agent differ from traditional agent, or is there any difference at all?

The job, I believe is really the same. But having an agent familiar with electronic rights and one passionate about the evolution of publishing in the digital marketplace is crucial to the success of those authors who venture into this new frontier. We (traditional agents and epub agents) both work for the author and serve to obtain the best possible contract for the author. One aspect of my job that I've found to be most important (and perhaps a little different from traditional agents) is the need to be the liaison between the author and the publisher in all aspects including marketing, publicity and editing. Because self-pub'd and e-pub'd authors have to do most, if not all, of their own marketing and publicity, having someone who can help guide that path is crucial to the author's success.

Do authors query you with traditional query letters, or do you go after them when you see something you like?

A little of both, actually. Most of my clients came to me through traditional query letters but a few of my clients are authors whose works I've followed for a while and who, quite honestly, I've fangirled for some time. We joke about not being sure which one of us squeed more when the offer of representation was accepted, them or me. I've even had authors approach me after receiving their first offer for publication from an ePublisher and upon reading the contract realizing they have no idea what to do. Yes, having an offer of publication from a publisher will get my attention quickly. That and the promise of strong cuban coffee being delivered daily by hot cabana boys, but I digress.

How did you become an e-pub agent?

Funny you should ask that. I blame my family and friends for anything I do that pushes my boundaries beyond what I think is possible. One of my friends, Kele Moon, writes amazing stories. I've known her for several years and every story she would send me would make me wish it were a book I could buy or send to a huge publisher that would one day make her famous. Well, I opened my big mouth and told her that one day to which she quickly countered with "You should totally be my agent!" I had no idea how to be an agent. I knew what they did. Have known that side of the publishing business in periphery after working in the production side of publishing for nearly a decade but actually sitting down and taking on clients and helping them with their submissions! I thought she was crazy! Well, others started saying the same thing to me and after helping several of them put together their submission packets and get their work out to publishers, I realized I really love this side of the business! Shortly after helping a few friends get contracts from ePubs, I approached Lori Perkins. After reading her blog "Agent in the Middle" and following her tweet feed, I sent her a private message asking for guidance or an opportunity for mentorship in how to become an agent. She called me that day and asked me if I wanted to join her agency as their sole ePub Agent. She took me under her wing and has been helping me traverse through the waters with far greater ease than I could have, had I been alone. Having her as a mentor means my clients also have the backing of the L. Perkins Agency for any project that could fit the scope of the NY pubs that the other agents in the office represent. Together, we can help our clients secure both print and digital rights at the onset of the contract negotiations and thereby increase the potential revenue stream for everyone involved.

I read publishing blogs all the time and I rarely ever see e-publishers mentioned, which makes me wonder if all authors are getting the information they should be getting on traditional publishing blogs. Do you find there are still authors who don't know about e-publishing?

It baffles me how little about ePublishing anyone knows. It's a poor sentence, I know but it really is astounding. I get emails every day from authors who ask me what ePublishing is and "why would anyone need an agent when self-publishing" as if the two were one and the same. They are not. Even among my colleagues in the publishing industry, very little is known about this new frontier and, of course, where there is little information, panic and chaos reign. I hear more negativity out of the print publishers than I do the digital ones and I think a lot of it is due to fear of the unknown.

Though it's difficult to portend anything these days in publishing, where do you see e-publishers, in a general sense, ten years from now?

The future of publishing does not yet exist and I think we're in a great renaissance where the best ideas are being formulated and the needs of the new generation are being assessed and used as inspiration for innovation. I've heard everything from "print is dying" to "publishing is the new music record label" and while I can't foretell what the next decade will bring for publishing, I'm extremely excited about seeing its transformation. I truly believe that ePublishers and traditional publishers will not exist one day. It will just be publishing where you will be able to carry your library in your pocket just as easily as you'll be able to fill your bookshelves but I do see the great opportunity for ePublishers to pave the way toward that future.

I've posted my thoughts in this blog about the differences between e-publishers and self-publishers often, from my own experiences. In your own words, could you explain the differences?

I think the biggest misconception today is the belief that self-publishing and ePublishing are the same. They are as different as traditional publishing and self-publishing are. Self-published works are those the author takes the time and cost to publish on their own and for some, this venue has been a very profitable one. They cut out the publisher's fees, the warehouse fees, the bookshop fees, the agent fees right out of the picture and deal directly with the manufacturer. These brave people take upon themselves the roles and responsibilities of the business of writing and still manage to crank out some pretty amazing reads.

ePublishers, like the traditional publishers, produce the book the author has written and incur the costs associated with its production. These costs are usually less than those of the traditional publishers but they are not any less important or "short-cut" in any way. Manuscripts go through rounds of editing proof, galleys are created, cover art is requested, designed and paid for, digital converters (the equivalent of the press run) are hired and third-party affiliates (the equivalent of the bookstores) are contracted to maximize exposure. The ePublisher does this while the author continues working on their next book. Is one any better than the other? It completely depends on the author and their business-savvy. Some authors don't want to deal with the book production. They just want to write. Others want to be involved in every aspect of the business and can likely recite contract lingo better than the most well-versed literary attorney.

What is the most common question people ask you?

Do you ever sleep? To which I usually answer, who needs sleep when there are so many great books to sell and read? I'll catch up on all my sleeping when I'm dead.

Here's Saritza's blog, where you can read more about what an e-pub agents does.