Friday, December 31, 2010


I found a great web site with all kinds of quotations to start the new year off. Below is an anonymous quote, and the link to the site is here.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

To Start A New Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous
"A new year is unfolding—like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.
Lord, let this year be filled with the things that are truly good—with the comfort of warmth in our relationships, with the strength to help those who need our help and the humility and openness to accept help from others.
As we make our resolutions for the year ahead, let us go forward with great hope that all things can be possible—with Your help and guidance."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Will Indie and LGBT Bookstores Survive?

I often post about how things used to be for the lgbt community. Just yesterday, in the post below this, I talked about how I personally craved reading m/m romance when I was younger and wished there was more of a selection. But I've never discussed my own thoughts on indie bookstores and lgbt bookstores, or the way things have changed in the last ten years or so.

I'm lucky to have grown up in an area where I had access to both New York City and Philadelphia. As soon as I was old enough, I headed directly to small indie bookstores in both cities to fill my need for both entertainment and knowledge. And though I rarely ever found novels that satisfied my taste for m/m romance, at least I had exposure to lgbt books in a general sense.

After college, I worked for Conde Nast for a few years as an associate editor. But I wanted to write fiction and knew I never would if I spent most of my days editing the work of other writers. So I moved to touristy New Hope, PA, where I still reside, and opened an art gallery, which gave me the freedom to write fiction part time. At the time, which wasn't that long ago, there were at least three different small indie bookstores in town that catered to the lgbt community. Now there is one, and it's not even lgbt oriented. (There were also three gay bars/restaurants in town; now there is one, barely hanging on.)The shop next to my gallery was a lesbian bookstore, owned by a wonderful woman who passed away about seven years ago. But even back in the l990's indie bookstores were having problems surviving. The owner of the lesbian bookstore next door to me was always complaining about how bad business was. The large chain stores had started popping up by then and the small stores simply couldn't compete with them.

After the large chain stores started giving indie lgbt bookstores huge competition, the Internet came along and created even more havoc. And now, with e-books becoming more popular every day, I've heard about all indie bookstores (and not just lgbt stores) closing up left and right. In Philadelphia, the gay bookstore, Giovanni's Room, just announced it will be selling e-books, which I think it a very smart move.

These days, thankfully, as a gay man I don't feel the need to be separate from the mainstream anymore. It's nice to have lgbt oriented businesses, and I always support them, but I don't think the same way I did ten or fifteen years ago. When it comes to my own reading list, I don't have time to drive to New York or Philadelphia anymore just to go book shopping. I read only e-books now, on an e-reader, and I buy them at places like amazon, allromanceebooks, and fictionwise. And I love oneromanceebooks. This doesn't just pretain to books; it spills over into other areas of my life as well. Due to lack to time, and some serious deadlines this holiday season, I did a great deal of Christmas shopping on amazon. And I was happy with the results. Everything arrived on time, I didn't have to drive around and waste precious energy with gasoline, and I didn't have to stress out with Christmas shopping crowds. Though I've learned not to pay attention to amazon product reviews (I'll post about this soon; most product reviews are just plain dumb), I've been happy with amazon in general.

So if there's a plausible way for indie and lgbt bookstores to survive, I hope they find it. If selling e-books in retail bookstores does the trick, I couldn't be happier. I'll be in Philadelphia next month and, as usual, I'll make a point of stopping by Giovanni's Room to buy something. I still love small bookstores and I truly hope they stick around.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


BIG BAD AND ON TOP is a book about two gay men in the military who find each other, fall in love, and have to deal with their furtive situation. The live in fear they will be discovered, and sneak around so no one will find out about their relationship. It's loosely based on the old movie, Top Gun, with Tom Cruise. And, once again, I didn't write it as fan fiction. Personally, I didn't even like the film when I first saw it. If anything, my book is more like anti-fan fiction. And because the main characters are two gay men in the military during DADT, the characters in this book, not to mention the ending of the book, don't follow the original storyline of the film.

Growing up when movies and books like Top Gun were released in the mainstream, I would have killed to have had something I could identify with. And there was nothing but the same old arty, over-written, gay fiction that satisfied a small sub-culture of the lgbt culture. The books I read about gays were elitist and far too political, with creepy titles and long drawn out narrative, and I couldn't identify with any of the characters. The books I read in the mainstream never went near the topic of gay men, so I couldn't identify there either. (This is one of the reasons I love Toni Morrison's books so much...though I couldn't identify with characters of African descent, I could identify with oppressed characters.) But if there had been a book like BIG BAD TOP GUY I would have read it for sheer pleasure. To feel good and to be entertained without having to think too hard. And sometimes that's what reading is supposed to be all about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still Reading Toni Morrison...

Actually, I just re-read Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE. I read it back in the late 80's, and wanted to go back and revisit the characters this winter. It's probably the book that has had the most impact on me both personally and professionally.

Right now I'm in the middle of BELOVED, and then I'm moving forward with JAZZ. But I wanted to post something a lot of people may or may not know about. It was something that I didn't know about until I read BELOVED. Morrison describes the use of an iron bit as a torture device used for slaves. Though it's painful to read, not to mention comprehend that human beings would ever do something like this, I think it's important to know.

Below is an excerpt from a web site that goes into far more detail.

Morrison writes candidly of "the iron bit" (70) in describing Paul D’s slave experience, and carefully details the horrific nature of its use as a torture device. Marilyn Sanders Mobley writes of Paul’s "personal stories of enduring a "bit" (69) in his mouth – the barbaric symbol of silence and oppression," (196) outlining the item’s cold, constraining capabilities. Morrison uses the symbol of the bit, carefully woven into the novel’s interchange between Sethe and Paul D, to represent Paul D’s slave experience, and, taken on an allegorical level, to represent also the slave experience in general. Her introduction of the bit into Paul’s "rememories" ushers in comment on the iron’s structural qualities, i.e. "how offended the tongue is, held down by iron," (71) indicating the metal’s constraining, unyielding nature. The author’s inclusion of rich imagery in explaining the bit to the reader aids in delineating the iron’s less obvious characteristics aforementioned. She writes of "The wildness that shot up into the eye the moment the lips were yanked back," (71) a reminder of the metal’s unyielding, thoroughly rigid conformation and related effects. Immediately following, Morrison affirms "Days after it was taken out, goose fat was rubbed on the corners of the mouth but nothing to soothe the tongue or take the wildness out of the eye," (71) thus reinforcing the concept of metal’s hard, unyielding nature. Essentially, the metal symbol of the bit becomes the slave experience through the shared characteristics of metal. Rigidity of the slave experience, represented by the metal in the bit, with Paul’s "own mouth jammed full of iron" (96) earns its own symbolic explication, as does slavery’s physical and mental constraint, itself discussed by Trudier Harris as "confining them in bits" (330). Even more importantly, the context of Paul’s "licking iron" (72) generates the symbol’s analogous context with slavery, as Paul literally cannot speak to Halle, whom he discovers freshly delusional as a result of witnessing Sethe’s rape. The animalistic nature of slavery reveals itself in the metal bit’s confining nature, with Paul kept from communication with his friend and forced into inhuman silence by the rigidity of the cold metal. The bit renders Paul incapable of sharing his friend’s grief, itself brought about by the nephews of schoolteacher, themselves representative of slavery.


Monday, December 27, 2010

New Release: BIG, BAD, and on TOP

Here's a sneak peak at the new cover for BIG, BAD, and on TOP. I'll post more about it this week when it's released, but I wanted to share the cover right now. It's a little more risque than my other RR book covers. But to be perfectly honest, I like readers to know what they are getting. This is, in fact, an erotic romance and I don't want readers thinking otherwise. The romance is there, with a happy ending, but it's not pg rated. And, again, if anyone has any questions about the book, please feel free to e-mail me and I'll answer any questions you have. We now have all this communication and it's nice to take advantage of it.

Christmas Amaryllis

For years, I tried getting Amaryllis bulbs to bloom at Christmastime. Sometimes they bloomed earlier, sometimes later, and sometimes they never bloomed at all. But this year I finally got a bloom on Christmas Day.
How to care for and grow an amaryllis:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How Real Should Gay Fiction Be?

A friend of mine who is just starting out in the gay fiction genre e-mailed me last week about a review he'd received on This is his first book, and probably his first bad review. (Seriously, it wasn't pretty at all.) And let's face it, all authors who have been around for a while know and expect at least several scathing reader reviews on web sites like This falls under the category of you just can't please everyone no matter how hard you try. And sometimes it also falls under the category of what can I learn from the comments in this review as an author.

I tried to explain this to my friend, to help him understand there's nothing an author can do to avoid receiving scathing reviews. I told him one thing that always helps is to check out the reviews for well sold mainstream fiction authors, like John Irving and Anne Tyler, and read how a few readers have trashed their books. Because if someone has a problem with books that the majority of the public loves...especially Pulitzer Prize winning books...there's usually a problem with that particular reader, not the book or the author.

But when my friend explained to me that he was mostly upset about how this particular reader reacted to his portrayal of gay men in relationships, and the dynamics and the way gay men relate to each other, I wasn't sure what to tell him. He said the review questioned his personal experience as a gay man, and he said the reader who gave him the review was a woman who reads gay fiction as a hobby. And rather than read with an open mind about what it's really like to be gay, she trashed his book because she wanted some type of fantasy about what she thinks being gay is supposed to be like. Again, I was at a loss for words.

My friend was also insulted, on a social and a political level. He said no one would ever dare to question the experiences of any other author writing about the experiences of a specific minority. And I told him he wasn't totally correct. Though readers seem more comfortable attacking the lgbt experience, other minority authors experience the same thing from time to time. I have, indeed, seen a prolific author who writes about the Asian experience, from his own personal background, and readers actually had the audacity to question his personal experiences. I've read mean reviews that said his book wasn't authentic, and these reviews were written by people who probably know very little about Asian culture.

Ultimately, my friend wanted to know how real gay fiction should be. And there's only one way to answer that: you do what you think is best, based on your own personal experiences and from observing the experiences of other gay people you know. In fiction, there's a certain amount of fantasy and poetic license you can get away with, but the basics have to be authentic. Nine out of ten readers will get it and thank you for it. And that one lone reader who writes a snarky review won't be taken seriously. If anything, from what I've observed by reading countless numbers of reviews for books in varying genres, that one lone reviewer usually winds up looking like an amateur.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ode to a Blog Titled: "Eirik's Mind"

When I first started my own blog, after years of interviewing personal bloggers for, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd like blogging. Though I'd always loved reading blogs and getting to know other bloggers, I wasn't sure about doing it myself. Writing fiction isn't like blogging. In many ways, they are complete opposites. But I had to decide on whether or not I wanted a formal web site, or an informal blog, and I chose blogging.

At first, I wasn't sure what to post about. Old blogging buddies, like Ryan Stratton, helped me a lot. I watched how easily they posted, and it gave me more confidence. It wasn't long before I started to meet other bloggers and build online friendships.

The one thing I learned while I was interviewing bloggers was that blogs come and go. Some stay around for a long time, but many just die off and disappear for various reasons. But there's one blog in particular, "Eirik's Mind," that touched my heart and kept me captive. Eirik blogged about his personal life in a way many bloggers don't (I know I don't). At this exact time last year, he was dealing with cancer, going through different therapies, and fighting for his life. But I loved everything about his blog. His voice was strong, his posts were artistic in a natural way, and he seemed to be so articulate about his feelings and his emotions.

I'm talking about Eirik's blog in the past tense because he stopped posting in January this year. In the past eleven months, I've left comments there, asking him how he was doing. But he hasn't answered them. The blog is still up and I'm still linked to him. I go there several times a week, hoping I'll see a new post. But each time I go, as each month passes, I start to worry I might not see another post.

For now, I'm hoping Eirik grew bored with blogging and just decided not to continue. I'm picturing him happy and healthy, with too much going on in his life to blog. But whatever the case may be, and wherever he may be right now, I'd like to thank him for opening up his life to all his readers and showing them what it's really like to appreciate life.

If you don't have time to follow the link I added, here's an excerpt from Eirik's last post.

Ode to Cancer
Don’t be afraid.
I’m going to hurt you good.
Up against the wall;Nails across my back.
Pleasure and Pain,There is no escape.
It’s all the same.
It ain’t no game.
So turn up the heat;Get a grip –
It’s going to get rough.
It’s no dream,No waking up.
It’s okay to scream.
Let it all out.
No escape.
It’s down and dirty.
So, get on your knees and pray.
I’m your victim;You’ll be mine.
You torment me,
Give me your best shot,
Is that your best you got?
That weak ass shit ain’t gonna cut it.
Torture me.
I’ll torture you,You won’t see it coming.
I know your games,I know your ways.
You won’t win.
I’m going to hurt you good.
So give me your best.
I’ll pass every test.
I’m gonna kill you slow.
So, don’t be afraid.
There is no escape.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Well Hung By The Chimney

Below is an excerpt from my novella, The Christmas Gift, in WELL HUNG BY THE CHIMNEY. I don't think this excerpt has been published before, and I like to give readers a larger sample of what they might be thinking of buying. I gave the publisher's link this time, but you can also find it on amazon, allromaneebooks, and fictionwise. I recommend these because this is where I usually by my own books and don't have any problems.

This excerpt is from a scene in the book where the two main characters are about to travel to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with the one main character's ex-wife and daughter.

They weren’t going to Southern Florida. Verna lived near her mother and father’s retirement community, in small town near the Georgia border called Calhoun, and they would have had plenty of time to relax if they’d spent the night at a hotel. But Lance had an almost military attitude about travel and organization and sticking to schedules, thanks to his training with the state police. The only problem was Nathan wasn’t used to punching a clock and following a schedule of any kind. As far as he was concerned, normal people were supposed to be coming home at two in the morning, not waking up.

So he slogged out of bed and rubbed his eyes. When he switched on the bathroom lights, Lance shouted from the kitchen. “Good, you’re awake. I made coffee and I’m going down to start loading the car.”

Nathan scratched his balls and yawned. “Okay,” he said, trying to lift his voice and sound pleasant. “I’m just going to take a quick shower and get dressed.” He’d packed his bags the night before, on Lance’s recommendation. Lance said it would be easier than packing in the morning. He’d been right, too. Nathan was so groggy he had trouble pointing his dick toward the toilet bowl. If he’d waited to pack in this condition, he wouldn’t have known what he was shoving into the suitcase.

And hour later, they were on the road and heading south in Lance’s Ford Explorer. At first, Nathan sipped his coffee from a stainless steel container and tried to make conversation. It was too dark to watch the scenery pass by and the only music they could find on the radio was either country western or rap. So Nathan gave up on the radio and told Lance he’d been thinking about opening a doughnut shop instead of a cookie shop. He said he was worried cookies might not sell as well as doughnuts, and he didn’t want this to be one of those bored housewife businesses where they didn’t care whether they made money or not. Nathan needed this business to create an income, and there were no doughnut shops at all in Martha Falls. It was a quirky little down in some respects. But in a good way. Unlike so many other flatly landscaped towns along strips of road in the south, Martha Falls frowned upon letting corporate chain stores into the area. If Nathan had heard it once, he’d heard it a million times from people who either lived in or visited Martha Falls: “Boy I wish there was a Dunkin Doughnut or a Krispy Kreme around here.”

Lance just nodded and listened, focusing on the road. He was one of those relaxed drivers who sat all the way back, with his legs spread and only one hand on the wheel. But he rarely took his eyes off the road for a second.

“I could even do a line of specialty coffees to go along with the doughnuts,” Nathan said, as they passed a long truck with a yellow and blue sign that read, “Mountain Sunshine,” wondering what exactly Mountain Sunshine was.

“I thought you loved to bake cookies,” Lance said.

“I do,” Nathan said. “But I want to make money, too. And as far as I can see it, Martha Falls could use a doughnut shop more than a gourmet cookie shop. It’s a simple town, with simple people. I want something that’s community oriented and something people need, not something I personally love.”

Speaking of Edits...

I swear this all happened last night because the previous post I wrote discussed the relationship between editors and authors.

I'm talking about a new stand alone short story that's coming out soon titled, BILLABONG BANG, with a Jan. 14 release date. It's sort of a coming of age story and the character has two fears: one is sexual and the other is a phobia of water. But I also just had a short story released in a SEX AND TOYS anthology this week with (I usually post a cover photo, but this one, although I totally love it, might be too steamy for a pg rated blog), and that story also has a character who is dealing with a sexual phobia and a fear of heights. The differences are vast, especially when it comes to the sexual phobia's themselves. But I didn't want the new stand alone to even remotely resemble the short story in the anthology, so I've been going back and forth with my editor at all week making sure it doesn't.

And last night she sent me a preliminary pdf file of the book and I almost said, "great, let's go with this." But I stopped and thought for a moment. There was still something bothering me about this book and I had to get it right. First, I thought there was too much back story in the beginning. Second, the main character is of African descent and I thought I'd gone into too much of a description about this. Personally, I believe the only way to get rid of racism altogether is to start thinking and seeing with colorblind eyes. And while it's important to put something in that describes the character's race sometimes, there's no need to be too obvious about it. At least that's how I view it. Someone else might disagree.

Ultimately, this fix was simple. I just cut the first 1,000 words from the story, made two line changes, and sent the revise back to my editor...with a few huge apologies, and many thanks. Could the story have gone to publication as it was? Certainly. But would the readers have been bored to death with the first few pages? Absolutely.

And my wonderful editor, Dalia, didn't say a word. She made the changes, sent me the pdf early this morning, and it looks ready to move now. This, to me, is the perfect example of a positive working relationship between author and editor. It's back and forth, give and take. And even though most books and stories don't have as many complications as BILLABONG BANG did, it always nice to know that if there are they can be worked out well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Something I learned This Year...Thanks to Toni Morrison

I know everyone is busy writing end of the year posts, and this might not be the kind of post that falls under that category. But I'm always interested in anything that has to do with books and publishing. And for me, personally, I learned something interesting that I'd like to share with other authors and readers.

In almost twenty years of publishing I am proud to admit that I've only had one incident where I didn't agree with an editor and pulled the story from publication. It happened about five years ago, with a short story I'd submitted to a print publisher for possible inclusion. The odd thing was I'd worked with this editor before on other books and I thought I knew him. However, when the story came back and I had to review his edits, I was amazed at how much he'd cut, how many words he'd changed, and how he'd slanted the entire story in an entirely different direction. Ultimately, we couldn't reach a compromise and I politely asked him to pull the story from the anthology. Three days later, I sold the same story to another print publisher and they didn't edit a single word. They copy edited a few things, removed a couple of commas and removed a few superfluous words. But the story remained in tact. And, I eventually went on to work on something else with the first editor, and all was fine.

Since then, I haven't had any other problems and don't anticipate any. I love all the editors and copy editors I work with. I've always viewed their changes and suggestions as assets to my books or stories. And I've always agreed with them when they suggested minor changes. In many ways, working with an editor and copy editor is a collaboration between author and editor. It's fun, we joke around a lot, and the e-mails keep flying back and forth. And if both remain open to all suggestions, the final edit of the book or story only gets better.

Then one morning this year I opened an e-mail with copy edits for a book I'd submitted a month earlier. In this case, I wasn't worried. I'd always worked with a specific copy editor for this particular publisher and I'd always looked forward to reading her edits. In fact, I've learned a lot more from her, I'm sure, than she's learned from me. But when I started reading the edits this time, I knew from page one something was different. And I knew this wasn't my beloved copy editor, whom I'd always loved working with. This was someone new, with a snarky voice, who didn't seem familiar with any of my books...or books in my genre. There were remarks and questions in the margins I normally don't receive from my usual editor. One particular word that was integral to the book that I thought should have been capitalized throughout the book had been changed to lower case.

I always try to research as much as I can and I try never to assume anything, and I'd already researched this particular word the new copy editor had changed and found that readers, magazines, and most other publishers believe, very strongly in most cases, this particular word should be capitalized. So I went through all the edits with an eagle eye this time, addressed each comment and question. I made a few of the suggested changes and refused to alter a few other suggested changes. I was polite when I refused to take the suggestions. I used little smile faces. I've always believed it's important to be a professional as possible, and still get the point across.

When I submitted my review of the edits (actually, she'd missed a few important copy edits I'd had to go back and fix myself), I was told the word would not be capitalized and given a good, solid reason. This was the only area where the publisher wouldn't back down, and I didn't mind at all. This particular word can be capped or not capped, depending on the style a particular publisher uses. And, though I personally would have preferred the word to be capitalized for the sake of the readers, I didn't have a problem agreeing with the publisher this time. And, the publisher agreed with all my other replies to the copy edits. So I was fine; the publisher was fine; a compromise had been reached.

But, I couldn't stop thinking about one particular phrase the new copy editor had questioned and I'd refused to change. I'd used this phrase in a steamy romantic scene in the book and the copy editor didn't think it was real enough. She even went as far to say, "I don't think there is such a thing." I'd used this phrase before in other books. It's about as minor a phrase as "The back of his neck." But I disagreed, politely, with the new copy editor and refused to make the change on principle. But then started to question my own instincts the next day. Did the snarky new copy editor know better? Should I have agreed to make that particular change? At that point, though, I didn't want to confuse anyone and decided to leave it alone.

The other night I sat down to read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I'm a huge fan (she's one of the few authors I'd bow of her work and I hadn't read this particular book in years (if you haven't read this classic, run out and get it). By that time, the edits from my own book were way in the back of my mind and I was only interested in reading about the sad life of Pecola Breedlove in The Bluest Eye. And then I came across a very touching scene that involved sex, where Toni Morrison used the exact same phrase to describe a particular body part that the new copy editor had questioned in my book. I put The Bluest Eye down and stared for a few minutes. I'd come across this phrase before in other books, but never by an author with Toni Morrison's excellent reputation. And then I took a deep breath and smiled. I realized that if Toni Morrison can get away with using this phrase in a book like The Bluest Eye, so can I.

And I learned something new this year: trust your own instincts when it comes to edits and revises. No writer does anything by accident, especially when it comes to certain words and phrases. Although some copy editors think they know it all, they don't. I know I'm only talking about a phrase that was a simple as, "The back of his neck." And it could have been changed without altering the intent of my book. But I didn't think a copy editor, who probably has about eighteen years less experience than I have, should have even questioned it in the first place, at least not in such a bold way. Of course I didn't do it...but I felt like sending her a copy of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye just to prove a point.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little Holiday Cheer...

Actually, I think there's a lot to cheer about in this photo. And if you don't think so, this isn't the blog for you. I was just over at Paul Richmond's blog and shamelessly pilfered it. In case you don't know, Paul is a talented artist and he's designed some of the best book covers in m/m fiction since Peter Max hit the pop culture scene tons of years ago. Check out the blog here, and the cheerful photo to the left is just one of many in his latest blog post. If you're a m/m reader or writer and this guy doesn't muse you (hope muse works in this sentence; could be replaced with amuse just as well) it might be time to start reading children's books.

Next New Release: BILLABONG BANG

This short stand alone should be released about the first of the year. But here's a sneak preview of the cover. I'm looking forward to it because it's been in the making since last May. One of my editors went through a personal family crisis and we put this book aside for a while. I thought it was better to just set it aside and let her get to it when she was ready to work again. And I'm glad I did. It was worth the wait.
Good editors aren't always easy to find, which is something I'll post about very soon (smile).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Repeal of DADT: End of an Era

Today, in a 65-31 vote, the Senate ended the ban of gays and lesbians in the military. In my latest book, which hasn't even been released yet, I focused on a theme that revolved around DADT and gays in the military, and kept thinking all the way through the book whether or not I'd see a repeal in my lifetime. It didn't look good for a long time. It's still almost too good to be true and I'm almost waiting for some kind of a what happened with Proposition 8 in California.

But for now DADT has been repealed, and it looks like it's going to stick, ending one of the most discriminatory laws this country has ever seen.

For more information, Andrea Stone has written a full piece, here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Three Christmas Novellas in One Book

Here's the second release I was talking about in an earlier post this week. It's a Christmas book, with three novellas. Mine is titled THE CHRISTMAS GIFT, and it's a continuation of characters I wrote about last year in a short Christmas Story. Here's the link, and below is a product description from the publisher web site.

Most of the time anthologies contain a collection of many short stories. But this one is unusual in the sense that it's three novellas, which to me, speaking as a reader, is like getting three short novels for the price of one. And I don't see that very often.

Three delicious tales of male/male romance for the holidays!

Meet Aaron and Brant, who escape to a tropical island for the holidays, under the pretense of doing a big business deal, but end up doing each other, in EM Lynley's CHRISTMAS BONUS.

Best-selling author Ryan Field brings back Lance and Nathan, two high school lovers who reunited on Christmas Eve, as they now explore their new relationship a year later and find the true meaning of Christmas in THE CHRISTMAS GIFT.

And finally join Alec and John, the military pilot and doctor from Chloe Stowe's FOREVER BOUND, as they dance through another holiday of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in FOREVER BOUND WITH TINSEL.

Don't miss this twinkling collection of holiday lust!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Xerox is Doing Something Cool to Support the Military...

I wanted to post this because I think it's important to let the people serving in the military know we care. It's not hard to do. So take the time out of your busy schedules to send a message.

If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if we could g et everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them.
This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's.
Thanks for taking to time to support our military!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Call for Submissions: Ravenous Romance Football Anthology

Below is a call for submissions from the ravenous romance blog. I'm not sure I'll be in this book, but I was in last year's football book and it sold well. Here's the link, and below is the post. Lori Perkins is the editor, and I think she's great to work with.

Call for M/M Football Stories
Last year's Super Bowl anthology, TIGHTENDS, sold really well, and got great reviews, so we're doing it again. We need stories for DOUBLE TEAM: M/M Football Erotica.You'll never look at football the same way again! Our readers like multiple partners, so the more the merrier. Brings a new meaning to huddle!So think of high school football hunks (everyone has to be over 18), college trading, coaches, pro football, love amongst teammates and love between teammates. And I want to see a really hot story about half time!!! We could even do one about men who write those great Superbowl commercials! Be creative, please!As in all RR anthologies, we pay a $10 advance and a pro rata share of all royalties. We're looking for stories of 2500-5000 words. Pass the call around! Send stories attached as word doc, with up to date bio (even if you think I have it) to Lori@ravenousromance.comDeadline is Jan. 10, 2011.

Dean Martin - Baby It's Cold Outside

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Five New Book Releases This Month

Pardon the cliche, but when it rains it really does sometimes pour. I have five new releases coming out this month. One is a full length novel, two short story stand alones, one novella that's part of a Christmas collection, and one Christmas short story that's part of an anthology.

It's been a busy fall, and I'll post about each one as they come up. But the one I'm posting about today is one of the short story stand alones for The title is DIRTY LITTLE VIRGIN, and it's just as smutty as it sounds. And although there is a little bit of modern romance in the story, it's not what I would consider an absolute romance.

And...once again...just so it's clear: this is not a full length novel. It's a short story stand alone that will be priced accordingly (cheaper than a full length novel) and all the info will be written up in the product details on most web sites. If you shop at amazon, though, you might want to check out or allromanceebooks to read the product details. I love amazon, but I think they fall short when it comes to product details.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Don't Need an E-Reader to Read E-books

I just read something interesting on another blog thread I'd like to address. It's for people who are curious about e-books, but don't have an expensive e-reader. For long time, I didn't have an expensive e-reader myself.

Someone commented that she didn't know she could download an e-book to her computer. She was under the impression you needed an e-reader in order to read an e-book. And this is not the case

So if you're curious about e-books, but don't have an e-reader and you've been afraid about making the purchase, there are web sites like where you can buy e-books and download them right to your computer. I've done it many times. Actually, I do prefer to read a lot of my e-books on my computer. And, all the e-books I read for The Rainbow Awards I read on my computer, not on my e-reader. don't need an e-reader to read an e-book. All you need is a computer.

Indie Bookstores Closing Because Of E-books

When I first saw the changes coming in publishing about five years ago, I started rethinking my own career as a writer. And, trust me, I'm not one who embraces change. If I could, I'd still be writing on my old IBM typewriter and sending manuscripts through the post office.

But times have changed. And I think this quote from states it better than anything I've read so far:

Booksellers are calling the shift a "Gutenberg moment" for the entire publishing industry, likening it to Johannes Gutenberg's game-changing invention of movable type almost 600 years ago.

The Characters in Pretty Man

Though PRETTY MAN is by no means the first piece of fiction I've ever written, it was one of the first books I wrote for As with almost all of my books, I take little pieces of real people that I've known personally, put them altogether, and create fictional characters. It's almost like sewing a quilt, or putting a puzzle together.

I'm sure all writers have a difference process. But this is how I do it. Let's face it, even the most interesting person I know wouldn't be interesting in fiction. Fictional characters have to be, and are supposed to be, larger than life...even when those characters are simple and unassuming and don't seem all that exciting.

But I saw a few reviews and comments about the characters in PRETTY MAN that surprised me. And frankly, they still surprise me two years later. Some readers didn't like the way the two main characters had an open relationship and thought nothing of inviting other men into their relationship. They didn't think it was realistic enough, which left me shaking my head.

In the real world, and I know this for a fact, there are many gay couples in long term relationships that engage in three-way sex or with multiple partners, without thinking twice about it. I have many good friends who have been together for many years and having an open relationship, for them, is what actually keeps their relationship exciting. I also have many gay friends who don't do this. They just aren't into it. But we only seem to hear about the gay men who don't do this, not the gay men who do this. And that's just not real.

The characters in PRETTY MAN do have an open relationship. And I wrote this as a conglomerate of knowledge I've gained in my forty years of living on this earth as a gay man. I didn't just dream it up; it exists whether we like it or not. And I tried to portray the two characters in PRETTY MAN as having a solid, dependable relationship in spite of their penchant for inviting multiple partners into their relationship. And I gave them a happy ending I thought was appropriate to their situation.

In order to keep these characters alive, and to show readers they did actually live happily-ever-after, I've included them in the new sequel I'm writing, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE'S SECRET BABY. And the contrast is interesting, because the two main characters in THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE'S SECRET BABY are completely monogamous and they don't invite anyone into their relationship.

Once again, gay men are as complicated as they are simple. And in gay relationships it's not uncommon to find couples who have been together for many years engaging in sex with multiple partners. I don't just make this stuff up. I wish I did, but I didn't. And I think it's important for readers to know that the gay couples they see on TV and in movies, are pretty much nothing like gay couples in real life. And before anyone comments, I'm sure there are couples like the two gay guys on Modern Family. Only I don't know any, and I know more gay couples than straight couples.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do You Capitalize "Navy?"

I'm not talking about the color, navy blue. I'm talking about the U.S. Navy, as in military.

The reason I'm asking is because this came up in edits for a new book I have coming out that deals with the gays in the military and the unfairness of DADT. And I wanted to be sure to get certain facts right.

When I submitted the book, I had the word capitalized. I did my research at libraryonline and here's what they said:

Army, Navy and Air Force – Capitalize when referring to these organizations by name or with other widely accepted references to them. Examples:· the Army · U.S. Army · French Army · Organized Reserves · 1st Regiment · the Navy · U.S. Navy · British Navy · Marine Corps · the Marines · the Air Force · U.S. Air Force · Royal Air Force · Edwards Air Force Base

However, there seem to be different schools of thought on this topic, because when I received the book from the copyeditor this morning the Navy was now the navy.

Evidently, some publishers go with The Chicago Manual of Style, which doesn't capitalize navy, as in the Navy. So I figured they knew better than I did and let it go.

But, to all the reviewers and persnickety types out there who do believe the Navy should be capitalized. Don't come after me on this one. Authors do not, in spite of what everyone thinks, get the chance to veto all editorial decisions. So I learned something new today about the Chicago Manual. And if it's good enough for The Chicago Manual, I suppose I can learn to live with it.

But if anyone feels like commenting, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Check This Out: The Rainbow Award Winners

Just saw the list of Rainbow Award winners over at Elisa Rolle's blog, here.

Congrats to all the winners, and to a few of my own favorite authors (AJ Llewellyn) for making it this year.

And a huge thanks to Elisa Rolle, for being so tenacious and so dedicated to doing this award for the second time. As a judge I know I had my work cut out reading all the books. I can't even imagine how hard Elisa worked organizing everything!!

RIP, Ginger

I've been posting about my publishing friend who is in Key West right now for a couple of weeks. He's been through hell this past year trying to get his twelve year old little scottie, Ginger, well again.

But I guess this time it was all just too much. She passed away last night, in his arms, after trying to rally back from kidney failure.

This, I swear, is the only hard part about owning a pet. They just don't live long enough!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Gay Couples Celebrate Anniversaries...

The other night at a Christmas party I was listening to a conversation about how gay couples spend their anniversaries. The guy I went to the party with is single and straight (most of the time) and he was just as interested as I was.

There must have been at least four gay couples talking about this, and all have been together for at least twenty-five years. Or course I've heard about this before, but my straight friend seemed a little shocked. It never occurred to him there were so many different ways to celebrate the anniversary of a long term relationship. In his world, it's usually the day a couple is married. I know there are exceptions in straight relationships, too. But for the most part, it's the legal wedding date.

Here were a few examples:

Celebrate on the day they met for the first time.

Celebrate on the day they had sex for the first time.

Celebrate on the day they made an official commitment to each other for the first time.

Celebrate on the day they moved in with each other for the first time.

Celebrate on the day they shared their first date.

And, one couple decided to celebrate on the date they bought their first house together.

And each couple at this party did something different. They also said they didn't need an actual wedding date to celebrate, but they said they wished they'd been given the choice like everyone else.

Sarah Palin Post

This morning I tried writing a quick post about the Sarah Palin reality show. This post was centered on the recent show where Palin killed the Caribou.

After trying to write a viable post about the show, I decided to shelve it altogether. No matter what I wrote it just didn't sound right. On the one hand, it sounded as if I were knocking Sarah Palin. And I wasn't knocking her. On the other hand, I was worried readers might think I'm a Palin fan, which I'm not.

Actually, I'm not a fan of any politician. I despise politics in general and never comment about it.

But I do watch Palin's show. I'm a writer, not an elitist. I look at these things with an objective eye, not a subjective eye. I'm interested in all pop culture, and that's exactly what Palin's show is. And I keep my personal comments to myself so I don't offend anyone else.

A Great In-Depth Piece on Elizabeth Edwards

I read this earlier this morning and wanted to share. It's one of the best in-depth articles I've seen so far on the web about Elizabeth Edwards.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

RIP Elizabeth Edwards

I first became a fan of Elizabeth Edwards through following her husband's political career. And although I wasn't a staunch supporter of his...or any other politcal figure for that matter...I did agree with him on most issues.

Then I read Elizabeth's book and did become a staunch supporter of hers, both as a human being and a mother. And when I heard she passed today, I felt bad...for Elizabeth and her children. She was bright, couragous, and never stopped fighting for her family. She was a woman who deserved all the respect we can give her, considering how hard she battled cancer and for things I won't mention in this post.

My heart goes out to Elizabeth's family and good friends.

Jonathan Franzen Discussing Tennessee Williams and Living in St. Louis

Although I probably shouldn't be, I am, in fact, a fan of Jonathan Franzen's work. In this youtube clip, at the bottom of the post, he explains why I probably shouldn't be a fan. When they discuss Tennessee Williams, and the fact that Williams was also from St. Louis, it shows a distinction between the mind-set of the gay male author and the straight male author. Franzen writes about St. Louis and speaks of it with mostly fond memories, where Williams never wrote about St. Louis and actually they even be buried there. And even though no one can be sure, it's suggested that Williams didn't have the same fond memories of St. Louis as Franzen because he was gay. I mention both Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote in this previous post and what Franzen says in this interview helps back me up.

In this respect, I couldn't agree more with Franzen on Tennessee Williams. Nowadays St. Louis is just as gay friendly as most places in America. I have a gay nephew who lives and works at Washington University and he loves St. Louis. But I can't even imagine what it must have been like for a gay man living there forty or fifty years ago. From what I hear, it wasn't even that great in New York. But at least in New York there was a strong underground gay community to help gay men like Williams survive.

But I am, however, still a huge fan of both Franzen and Williams. Because for me...and this might be generational...I find good fiction fascinating enough to love all fiction writers as long as they write well. I've been holding off sending book reviewer, Elisa Rolle, a list of my favorite authors because I don't make distinctions about whether authors are gay or straight. And my list, without apology, doesn't just consist of gay authors and m/m fiction. In this case, Franzen writes so well I couldn't care less who he sleeps with (though, he is kind of cute in that book-ish way). I also like the fact that Franzen made the distinction between his work and Williams' work so openly. A lot of authors, gay or straight, would have just brushed over it without making any important statements at all for fear of saying anything...heaven forbid...politically incorrect. As far as his being an elitist goes, I just don't buy it.

The only area where I disagree with Franzen is this quote I read on wiki:
Never use the word "then" as a ­conjunction – we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page. ...But this is just a stylistic preference and one of those writing ticks all authors have been aruging about since the beginning of time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Fran Lebowitz Documentary on HBO

I went to a holiday party last night and three of the guests were discussing a recent HBO documentary with Fran Lebowitz. Being a fan, I went home and watched the entire documentary On Demand late last night.

She's known for sardonic wit and she's been compared to Dorothy Parker by many critics. She doesn't own a cell phone or blackberry, but she drives around Manhattan in an old checkered cab. I've always found her to be a rough, honest way you don't see very often. Especially nowadays, when everyone is so worried about being politically correct and not offending anyone.

I also loved part of the documentary where Toni Morrison asked a few questions. Both women are icons and both represent a period in American Literature that I've always loved. And it just so happened I'm re-reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye right now (Read. This. Book.), which made the show even more interesting.

I also laughed at a few of the comments Ms. Lebowitz made about the state of publishing these days. She did it with both wit and humor (I think there's a huge difference). Her comments on smoking had me snorting at two in the morning. And when she started discussing New York thirty years ago compared to New York today, I just shook my head and smiled. Though I'm not old enough to remember New York thirty years ago, I do remember the city when it wasn't quite such a tourist attraction.

So if you have a cable package and you get HBO, check this one out. It's worth watching just to see how Fran Lebowitz works the room.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Readers As Consumers: Research Before You Purchase

The other day an author friend told me one of my books was mentioned at the bottom of a review for another book. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great review for me or the other author, however, there was one part of the review that really bothered me from a practical business POV. Both as a reader and an author. And no, this isn't a rant about a poor review. This is more consumer oriented and I'm looking at this from an objective reader's POV, not as a disgruntled author.

Evidently, the person who reviewed this book, and then mentioned my book, makes all his e-book purchases on one large retail web site. I'm not going to mention names of web sites, because I've seen this happen in several places and it wouldn't be fair to single anyone out. And it's not important who the reviewer was in this case because his review actually turned out to be a very enlightening. One of the comments the reviewer made about my book was that it was only a 30 minute read, but no reader could actually know it was this short unless they bought the book.

I'm not going to mention the book because I'm not here to promote anything right now. But it was one of those short stand alone e-books that has become a very popular format with a lot of authors, publishers, and readers these days. In other words, this was a short story, with a length of just over 5,000 words and a reading time of 15-21 minutes, and it was priced accordingly.

But it seems this reviewer was under the impression the book was longer, in spite of the price. And although I do believe that when someone reviews a book on a professional review site they should know all the information about the book, I can understand why he'd think this. On this particular retail web site where he bought the book, I didn't notice a word count or an actual reading time. Under the product details, all I saw was a file size. And if a reader is anything like me, a file size means absolutely nothing. Speaking as a reader (and a computer idiot), I know reading time, I know word count, and I know page numbers. But when you get into file sizes and things like KB's, I go blank. And because I buy most of my e-books on publisher web sites, I never noticed the ambiguity on this particular retail web site.

So I did a little research to see how other web sites display the product details with the e-books they sell. And I found a huge difference. For example, lists a word count very clearly, which for me is the best indicator. And mentions actual reading time, and then goes on to categorize books as S (short), M (medium), and L (long). No problem there; a huge round of applause for ARe and Fictionwise. There are several others that give these details as well, and most publisher web sites make product details just as clear.

I wrote a short blog post about this earlier in the week, and since then I've had several authors contact me and tell me they've been experiencing similar situations regarding product details and book lengths (we do take this seriously). Readers have left disgruntled comments in customer reviews of e-books because they felt as though they've been cheated. They thought they were buying a full-length book and they wound up with a short story stand alone instead. And from what I've seen, I can't blame the reader if they only shop for e-books on a web site that doesn't make the details clear. For many readers, remaining with one web site makes them feel safe and comfortable. And they tend to trust larger retail web sites more than smaller sites.

The only solution I see is to try to get the information out there as much as possible so readers know exactly what they are purchasing when they buy an e-book. Frankly, I may even start writing book lengths into the cover copy of my short story stand alones from now on. If web sites don't want to give out all the product details to idiots like me who don't know file sizes, I'll do it myself in my cover copy. This way there isn't any confusion and no one can say they didn't know all the facts before they made a purchase. And I also think it's important to get the word out to readers and let them know that if they have any questions about buying a book, there are places like ARe and Fictionwise where they can get all the information they need. And it only takes minutes to do this. But they have to know, especially the readers who are just getting into e-books and e-readers.

As an author, it really does bother me when a reader spends their hard earned money on a book and winds up disappointed in the length of the book. Or if they feel cheated because they feel they didn't get enough information before they made the purchase. I've owned two small businesses and my first goal with each business was always catering to the consumer. I always felt an obligation to treat the consumer well and give them the best service possible, and as an author I feel this same obligation now.

So please take the time to let your readers know what they are buying. And don't assume they know anything. And readers, please take the time to research what you are buying. I personally think it's a great idea to have an accessable e-mail address so readers can actually contact the author with any questions they might have about a book. I post my e-mail on my blog, and you'd be amazed at how many readers will, in fact, ask me questions about a particular book before they make a purchase. One even wanted to know the ending of a book, and I told her. She thanked me, and said she wasn't interested. Which was fine with me. Though sometimes you might even lose the sale of a book because the reader winds up not interested after you've answered their questions, I do think the reader will appreciate it and consider buying your next book or story instead.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Reason Why I Love Joel Stein's "The Awesome Column"...

First, I'm feeling guilty this morning. I almost broke a few of the rules I preach about here on this blog after I read a nasty comment about one of my books. The comment was made, get this, in a nasty review for another book, and the reviewer made several uncalled for insinuations about the length of my book. And I almost had one of those author melt-downs you read about all the time. I won't mention any names in this post. Mainly because I don't want these creeps of the publishing world to get any free publicity. But if anyone has a passion for gossip, please e-mail me and I'll be happy to tell you who it was.

But I didn't rant or melt-down last night. And I'm glad. Instead, I sat down and read my latest issue of Time Magazine to take my mind off this amateur book reviewer (and review site) who knows very little about publishing. And when I started reading Joel Stein's, "The Awesome Column," I couldn't believe was I was seeing. You couldn't get better timing than this. The title of this column was "You Can't spell TIME Without 'I' and 'Me'! How My Self-Obsessed Writing Changed Journalism." And it went on to explain how people criticized Joel's first person writing style and how they attacked him personally when he first started out. Here's a link to part of the column. Time didn't post it in full online because they want you to buy the magazine (smile). So, though I don't promote any magazines here, I do think buying this particular issue just for Joel's column would be a wise investment.

I particularly liked this paragraph: "Thirteen years later and 13 years wiser, I reflect on that criticism and think, I won! All bloggers write in first person, spending hours each day chronicling their anger at their kids for taking away their free time. Every Facebook update and tweet is sophomoric, solipsistic, snarky and other words I've learned by Googling myself."

Franky, I never imagined that anyone would trash Joel's writing style. In fact, his first person style is something I've always admired. Mainly because I've only been courageous enough to write in the first person once or twice. And, I've written over fifty novels with my own name and a few with pen names. All with good sales records, and all with viable publishers. I don't count this blog. Blogging, for me, is informal and I just write as I feel, without caring about the writing police. But writing in the first person isn't easy. It's a craft only the bravest writers tackle, and it's also just one of the main reasons why I love Joel Stein's work.

But now I love him for writing this honest column and sharing his personal experiences with unfounded, snarky, criticism. I know it sounds like schadenfreude, but Joel's column saved me from writing a scathing post about an amateur author who seems to take pleasure in trashing other authors online (a concept I simply don't understand). And though I may not always agree with Joel's politics, I always walk away from his column with something I didn't have before, and I always get a laugh or two.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Something Important for All Americans

I saw this posted on facebook tonight by one of my old friends, Norma Jean. And I thought it was important enough the share here on the blog.

We are asking everyone to say a prayer for "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE the message spread if more could past it on.

In these troubled times, it's important to remember the people who are fighting for our freedom.

OPG's Favorite Outdoor Patio Lunch (Scene From the Miramax Movie 'Chocol...

I was looking for the scene in Chocolat where the wind begins to blow and she decides it's time to move on. But instead I found this one. If you haven't seen this film, take the time to rent it or download it. It's a perfect example of a romance that doesn't follow tradition.

Being Professional and those Nasty Little Comments on Blog Posts

I know I should probably be posting something today about AIDS. But I do work year round helping people with AIDS, and I take this work very seriously. So for me there isn't a set day for AIDS awareness. It's an ongoing process.

So I decided to post about the way authors sometimes handle themselves online. Most are excellent and professional. But every now and then I come across a comment thread on someone's blog where I see authors making snide, vicious comments about other authors and it makes me cringe. I've posted about this in the past. But I recently saw it happen all over again and it wasn't pretty.

First, whether your aware of this or not, the most popular bloggers know how to manipulate their readers and draw negative comments (just as they know how to draw positive comments as well). For some, the more negative comments they get the happier they are. It's a passive aggressive, subtle form of manipulation that some people fall for...without reading between the lines. And it only makes the blogger more popular and gives them more attention.

But at what expense? And how does this affect authors who leave nasty comments about publishers or other authors? Some could argue that it all depends on the topic of discussion. But I tend to disagree. And I have a long standing rule that I never leave a negative comment about anyone or anything, especially not online. It's not always easy either. But as an author I know and understand that whatever is posted online is usually there forever. And people tend to forget the good things you do or say and concentrate on the negative things instead. Ask anyone who has ever gone through a divorce.

This isn't preaching; it's just a little friendly advice. Beware of manipulative blog posts and always think twice before you leave a negative comment anywhere on the Internet. Because when the blog post is long forgotten, the negative comment won't be.