Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Release from Cleis Press: Hot Jocks

Hot Jocks is one of those anthologies I love being in. Richard Labonte, the editor, always puts together a great book, and I'm never disappointed. And I've always been a fan of the Cleis Press list, from fiction to non-fiction.

Here's the amazon link, and you can also find it at the Cleis Press web site.

Believing What You Read On the Web...

It's a long standing joke in political circles that you can't believe anything you read on the web. And I'm starting to think it's trickling over into the publishing industry.

So far this week I've read that a book reviewer is now going to be consulting with a large publisher as far as acquisitions go. Frankly, I find this hard to believe...or take seriously. Sounds more like a the publisher made an off-handed comment like this,"We might want to know your thoughts sometime in the future," in order to get rid of a pushy know-it-all at a conference instead of an actual deal.

On another blog post, I read all about how a large publishing house is offering a certain percentage of e-book royalties to authors...without even letting authors or agents know about it. I checked this one out with a good friend who knows better. He'd never heard of it, he said all the information was innacurate, and then got mad at me for reading trash like that. I trust his knowledge.

I read this weird post about agents offering different services, without being clear about WTF they were doing.

And, to top all this off, I read the dumbest post I've ever read about a list of scenes authors should never write in the beginning of a book (this, by the way, was from the same blogger who once said never begin a sentence with the word, "that"). It made no sense. It was absolutely stupid. And yet people were commenting, praising, and applauding the post. ...You have to wonder what this one is putting in the Kool Aide!!

You also have to wonder whether or not it's even worth the time and energy to read these blogs. If the information isn't going to be accurate, what's the point?

Do All Authors Need Literary Agents Nowadays?

I honestly don't know the answer to this question. Other than for a brief period in my career, I've never had an agent. And the short time I had one it didn't work out well (but that's another post), especially when I was making the deals, contacting the publishers, signing the contracts, and sending her checks .

Part of the reason I've never had an agent is that I'm not fond of the query system and never have been. It's a set up for failure and the basic concept frustrates me. A lot has to do with luck, too, and I believe we make our own luck.

Another reason why I never queried agents often is that most literary agents don't rep LGBT least not until recently. In the past, a few agents repped what they referred to (and are still referring to, sadly)as "gay/lesbian." And the handful that did rep gay/lesbian, usually either despised erotica or laughed at it.

It's not that I didn't want an agent. I've made more than a few business mistakes and I've had to learn everything the hard way over the years. An agent would have been extremely handy. But it didn't work out that way and I don't have any regrets so far.

I'm reading Julia Child's bio right now, and I learned she never had an agent either. She had excellent attorney's represent her. But for the most part, up until she got older, she and her husband controlled the money, the book deals, and everything that had to do with her career as an author.

I have one last non-fiction editorial client left. I only keep him on because I love what he writes and I'm the only one who can read his manuscripts...he writes everything in long hand. His books are spiritual/self-help and his name is Curtis von Dornheim. He already has published books on amazon...he was publishing his own books long before it became popular. He's recently begun a new venture of his own to self-publish Kindle e-books, and he's not even thinking about querying agents.

I've also written several pg rated hetero romances for publishers under a pen name that have sold well. I didn't need an agent to get those deals either. I shopped the books myself, and took advantage of every opportunity there was.

In the past, the publishing system worked this way: You wrote a book, you started querying agents, and you waited to hear back from the agents. Most publishers didn't take unagented material...or queries. So the literary agents were, in fact, the gatekeepers, and they've been coveting this title for many, many years.

The only problem is that the books chosen by the gatekeepers were subjected to their own personal taste. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times, "We have to love a book in order to sell it," is what most agents will say. And this subjectivity may have worked before people became enlightened and knew they had choices, thanks to technology. We don't have to read what literary agents "love." As readers we can spend hours on our own now shopping for e-books by many unagented authors who are working with e-publishers...or self-publishing their own books.

Like I said, having a good agent can't hurt an author's career. It can be one of the best relationships in an author or agent's life. In a way, it's almost like a marriage-friendship-partnership. But I'm not so sure authors need agents in the same way they needed them before. They need the expertise, the ability to negotiate, and the good common sense to remain objective when it comes to important business matters. And I'm not sure exactly how things will work in the future as far as author agent relationships go. They may remain the same, and agents might continue as the gatekeepers. But these new authors I'm seeing out there who are self-publishing and making their own deals are talented, full of energy, and extremely aggressive. And they aren't sitting around writing queries and waiting for rejection.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cover Preview: The Buckhampton Country Club...and the Rogue Prince

Here's the new cover for what might become a new series. It's titled THE BUCKHAMPTON COUNTRY CLUB, and it's set in a fictional town on the eastern tip of Long Island where everything revolves around a private country club. One of the main characters is a prince from a small country in Europe, and the other is the heir to a chocolate factory and the worlds most unusual traveling circus.

Before Jumping to Conclusions...

I'd like to make this post short and sweet. Yesterday I posted about a literary agency that announced they were going to offer new services on their blog. They did it nicely and honestly; they did it with good intentions. And they were hit with more than a few negative comments.

But this post isn't about literary agencies doing different things. It's about jumping to conclusions in a general sense.

As a blogger and author, I have seen and experienced this passion to jump to conclusions so many times I can almost predict when I read a blog post whether or not it's going to cause a cyber-storm. Sometimes I cringe thinking about how surprised the blogger is going to be when they start slamming him/her. People will read a blog post or an announcement about something different in publishing and they will jump to conclusions and start blasting the project before they even know any details about it.

I've seen this happen with publishers (mainly new publishers); I've seen this happen with authors. And nine times out of ten the problems arise when people who make the announcements don't communicate clearly.

Unfortunately for them, nine times out of ten they are making their announcements with good intentions and they aren't trying to hurt anyone. It's usually something new, and people seem to have a hard time handling change...especially if it's not communicated well.

But before you jump to any conclusions the next time you read about a new publisher hitting the market or something new a literary agent or author is doing, sit back and think first. Get more information and learn the details from different sources. Some publishing blogs promote negativity so they can garner a larger readership, and they do this so well you'd never know they were doing it (there are a few crafty legal types who apply courtroom logic to each blog post and know how to manipulate and start firestorms). Don't let them manipulate you this way. When you post something negative on the web it's there for a long time. Keep it positive until you know the facts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Literary Agencies Offering Other "Services" Now...

This particular post on the Dystel & Goderich blog explains what their agency is doing by offering new services. In this post, and the one below it, they explain it far better than I can explain it.

The publishing industry is changing, no doubt about that. And digital publishing seems to be the catalyst. I'm glad I saw the signs a few years back and made the switch when I did. At first I was apprehensive about signing on with e-publishers because I didn't understand what e-publishing was all about. I'll never forget my first phone call with Claudia Regenos at love you divine, where I pretended I knew what she was talking about and didn't have a clue...she'll get a laugh out of that one. But I have no regrets at all. And knowing what I know now, the only thing I would change if I could go back in time is that I'd have made the switch a few years earlier than I did.

But with all these changes, I do think authors need to be aware of certain "things" nowadays that aren't explained very well on some publishing blogs. I don't think the bloggers are doing this on purpose. I just don't think they know any better...yet. And one of those things is the difference between self-publishing and e-publishing.

Self-publishing, which I support all the time here on this blog, is not the same thing as e-publishing. When you go the route of self-publishing, you are taking on all the responsibility, making all the decisions, and paying out of your own pocket. It's business venture that takes courage and conviction.

Now, e-publishing isn't that much different from "traditional" publishing, except that the books are all released as either e-books or print on demand...and they are usually priced far lower than with "traditional" publishers. If you decide to pursue a career in e-publishing (not self-publishing) you still have to query, submit a manuscript, and wait to hear a response from the e-publisher. But if you are accepted, you won't have to pay to have your work published. Some even offer advances.

I've often thought about self-publishing a few things myself. Like I said, I love the concept and applaud those who take the plunge. But I don't want the responsibility of making all the decisions, and I don't want to have to manage everything from initial concept to final product. I've done that twice before in my life with other businesses and right now all I want to do is write and communicate with my readers.

So there are new opportunities popping up everywhere for new authors. And looking into these literary agencies who are offering new services might not be a bad idea. I've heard good and bad. But I hear good and bad about everything these days and only time will tell. Five years ago everyone was laughing at e-publishers and e-books, and look what happened there.

Digital Drama!!

I haven't seen much mentioned about digital drama in the publishing world, especially in romance and other sub-genres. This might be because so many of the publishing web sites and blogs seem to promote digital drama instead of trying to stop it. I don't know if this is fact or's just a basic personal observation on my end; an opinion.

I do know that when I see a publishing oriented web site where there are tons of publisher advertisements and the publishing blog or web site can be purchased as a Kindle download for "the incredible price" of .99, this tells me the blog or web site is more commercially oriented than public service oriented. Of course these blogs and web sites never say this; they lead everyone to believe they are consumer oriented. But commercial is commercial. And when anything is commercially oriented, the owners are usually ambitious enough to promote anything or anyone that will promote readership and their own agenda. Unfortunately, it makes it hard for online readers to know whether or not they are, in fact, being manipulated.

I've been seeing a lot mentioned about digital drama everywhere else. There's a campaign going on this summer I can't praise enough. Launching this summer, Seventeen will feature a multi-page story in the August issue of the magazine, which will include stories from readers and ABC Family talent about their own experiences with bullying.

This new digital drama campaign is based around young adults, as you can see from this article: DDD is an initiative of Seventeen magazine and ABC Family network to erase digital abuse and bullying, which is something every parent wants. But I do think there's digital drama on the web for everyone, and it's not just something young adults are dealing with these days. I watched one group on one particular thread this past year where they literally ripped someone to shreds without an ounce of remorse. And it bothered me. The best I could do was offer support and advice, and it eventually died down and everyone forgot about it.

I've been the butt of digital drama more than once in the past five years. Each time, an attack was launched from nowhere and I've always handled it the same way. I believe that when you're being pushed, you should pull rather than push back. I also believe all drama, digital or not, is something that's one-sided if you look the other way. There is, however, one m/m author I would step over if I found her lying on the side of the road begging for help. Even if you look the other way, after you've experienced any form of digital drama you never forget it.

I've seen other authors, editors, and publishers have to deal with digital drama. There was one instance about three summers ago where it started to affect the quality of one editor's life. And this digtal drama was the same way with them as it was for most people. They never saw it coming and didn't understand why they were being attacked. The people who fought back learned the hard way there was no way they could win. All the fighting just perpetuated the digital drama, and it garnered even more attention for the person who started the attack. And those who turned and looked in the opposite direction, and didn't fight back, won out in the end. The drama died down when the attacker realized she wasn't going to get anywhere.

Of course the people who instigate digital drama always move on to something or someone else. I've seen patterns over the years that always remain true to form. But sooner or later everyone catches on and they start to loose credibility. Even those who think they have huge supporters, always wind up looking ridiculous in the end.

In my own small way, I'd like to dedicate this blog post to anyone in the publishing world who has ever experienced a personal or professional drama...for no reason. Especially romance authors. Feel free to comment on the thread to get it out and share your experience. I encourage anonymous comments and all will be treated with absolute privacy. I've done this before with blog posts about book pirates and I'm still getting comments almost one year later. In other words, this post will always be here to vent. It's not just for today.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cover Preview: Field of Dreams

When I say it's been a busy month, I'm not joking. While keeping to my regular daily writing schedule, I was choosing short stories for this new ravenous romance collection and getting together another stand alone short story for another publisher.

And the stories in Field of Dreams are exclusively for ravenous romance. They won't be published anywhere else, in anthologies or as stand alone shorts. I'll post more when it's released.


As I stated in an earlier post, HOT ITALIAN LOVER was supposed to be titled HIS TUSCAN EMBRACE. The publisher suggested HOT ITALIAN LOVER and I couldn't decide so I let them choose in the end.

Choosing one title that works is never easy. Trying to decide between two is torture...for me. And sometimes I'd rather step back and let someone more objective offer advice.

The book can be purchased on all major web sites where e-books are sold, including amazon and the publisher's web site.

Here's a link to I truly do love them and the way they set up their site, and I always encourage readers to check them out. The product information is superior to most web sites. And they always send me a reminder about when one of my books is released (I love that). The readers over there tend to be a little more critical than other sites, but you take the good with the bad (smile).

(Note: From now on, if I publish the first paragraph of any post on the comment thread, it's because when I link to facebook the first comment is always revealed on the status update. I don't know how this works, but I don't want anyone's comment here on the blog being plastered all over the world, so I've decided to just post the first paragraph on the thread.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review for Virgin Billionaire's Secret Baby

Joyfully reviewed wrote a nice review for THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE'S SECRET BABY I wanted to share. I like how they mentioned certain things I wasn't sure would be mentioned in reviews, especially the part about "all the foibles of heterosexual living."

I don't do these things by accident. Though I want to show love, romance, and erotica, I also want to show how gay couples aren't that different from straight couples... other than the fact that gay couples can't leaglly marry on a federal level (sorry, had to sneak that point across one more time this weekend).

Huge thanks to Lisa over at Joyfully Reviewed.

Here's the link, and here's the review:

The Virgin Billionaire’s Secret Baby by Ryan Field
The Virgin Billionaire series, Book 3
Ravenous Romance
Contemporary M/M
ISBN: 978-1-60777-384-9
Reviewed by Lisa

Lovers Jase Nicholas and Luis Fortune are settling into their ‘non legal’ married lives in New York. Jase continues to run his billion dollar empire while still working on new inventions. Luis is slowly building a name for himself modeling in print ads. He may not earn much compared to Jase’s money, but it’s enough for Luis to have spending money and not sponge off his partner. Every holiday they fly to Alaska and visit the Nicholas family, every time it’s harder for Luis to leave.

They have good friends in the city and there’s a couple living in Bucks County who are friends of Jase. Luis isn’t crazy about Josh and Roland, but he does love the countryside there. In fact, Luis discovered property he’s fallen in love with. Cider Mill Farm has a dilapidated house, a decrepit barn, and beautiful acres of land. Luis plans to surprise Jase with the property on his birthday. However, there’s a much bigger surprise waiting for Jase on his birthday. A lawyer and a little boy named Hunter…Nicholas. This is one special day the lovers will never forget.

The Virgin Billionaire’s Secret Baby adds another enjoyable storyline to a rich and sexy series. All the foibles of heterosexual living are brought to bear on Jase and Luis with entertaining results. From extremely embarrassing sexual situations to hot one on one fun between Luis and Jase, sensual variety is explored. Fans of this series will love this latest chapter as we watch Jase and Luis’ emotional growth as a couple. This can be read as a standalone story, but new readers are sure to fall in love with them and want to read the previous books too. The Virgin Billionaire’s Secret Baby has all the drama and laughter of any couple’s lives with twice the inventive sex. A feel good story with an erotic twist.

Two Good Books I Read This Week: Soul Catcher & Ad-Dick-tion

I'm usually up until one or two in the morning reading. I've always been the type who only needs four or five hours of sleep each night and I like to take advantage of the peace and quiet, not to mention the extra time, to read for enjoyment.

And I read two good books this week that I'd been saving for a while. I've been reading this long Julia Child bio and I needed a break from non-fiction.

Soul Catcher, by Vivi Dumas and Ad-Dick-tion, which is an anthology with a few authors I didn't know, and one I did, Rebecca Leigh.

I left a few ratings and short reviews on for both books. I don't like giving out full reviews here on the blog because I don't want this to become a review site. But when I do read something I like, I'll pass it on.

And both of these books were well written, and nicely executed.

Now it's back to my HUGE Julia Child biography I've been trucking through. To be honest, Julia's early life wasn't exactly a roller coaster ride. But this book, once again, is worth reading if you're a Julia Child fan.

NY Marriage Part II: The Emotional and Romantic Aspects

I wanted to update my post about legalizing gay marriage in NY. Since then, I've had a variety of e-mails from friends all over the country with interesting opinions. An old friend in Palm Springs posted this photo from his days in New York. I love it because I was only 8 at the time and I missed all these things.

Here's the caption: This picture was taken of me in NYC for the Pride March in June 1978. We marched up 6th Avenue then. (We were not allowed to march up 5th Av. thanks to the Catholic Church). The placards we were holding were for the city of New York to pass an anti-discrimination bill for housing and jobs for gays and lesbians. We have come a long way since 1978. We still have far to go, but tomorrow will be an incredible day in New York.

The one thing everyone agrees on is this is a good thing. It's a step forward toward equality on a federal level, and a lot of people worked hard to get it passed.

And on a romantic, emotional level, there aren't words to express how gay couples in NY feel about being able to validate their relationships. Many of the gay characters in my books get married, in spite of whether it's legal or not. I've been to tons of gay marriages myself in the past twenty years, and although all these couples would have liked to have had their unions validated in a legal sense, they still wanted to get married anyway. And each celebration was filled with love and joy. And, more than that, all of the gay couples I know who got married are still married.

So there's still a long way to go from a legal standpoint. My very legalese friends tell me there's still a way to challenge this new law in has something to do with the way they bargained for it. Nothing would surprise me anymore. One day I thought marriage was legal in California, and the next it wasn't. But for now, it's a step closer to not only legal equality, but emotional and romantic equality, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Publishers, Editing E-books, and Those Annoying Little Mistakes that Happen

I've seen a lot of blog posts around lately with complaints about mistakes in e-books...all e-books. Of course most of these mistakes are small and they don't change the content within the book. I'm reading a bio about Julia Child right now that was pubbed a while ago and I've counted at least five errors...very little errors that don't bother me in the least. I read two novels before this book that were published by well known authors about ten years ago. These novels have recently been made into digital books and I've found small errors in them, too.

I've had errors in my own books. One in particular was in AMERICAN STAR, where a name is spelled differently in parts of the book. (I still get flop sweat over this one.) When this book was submitted, the name was correctly spelled as, "Terrence," and I quadruple checked to make sure it was correct before I submitted. What happened between the time the manuscript was submitted and the time it went into digital format is beyond me. But I was told it was a problem with conversion. And I've heard other authors say the same thing has happened to them.

Before I submit a manuscript to any publisher, I do at least four rounds of edits. And then the manuscript goes to another editor, and then on to a copy editor. After that, I usually go back and forth with the copy editor for at least a week working out different sections of the book. And, I rarely ever argue with the copy editor about any suggestions or changes because I've learned that the collaboration always makes a better book in the end. With my love you divine short story e-books, I have two editors, one is a managing editor and the other a copy editor. Believe it or not, it takes sometimes over a month to get the edits right just for a short story.

The point of this post is that little mistakes happen. Like I said, I've seen them with older books and newer books, in print and digital. And publishers do edit. And edit, and edit, and edit...e-publishers and print publishers. It's not something they take lightly. Has the increased need to produce books faster created more little mistakes in books? I don't know the answer to that. I'm never in a rush to get anything out, and neither are any of my publishers. I write fast; I edit slowly. Right now I'm working on a new book in the Virgin Billionaire series and I have two ravenous romance books with the publisher, going through strenuous rounds of edits.

Publishers and authors try hard to get it right. But once in a while something slips by.

Poodles Really Do Dance Like This

I have two poodles, one red and one white, and they really do dance this way, especially if there's food invovled.

NY Gay Marriage: Bittersweet Victory

Of course what happened in NY is something to celebrate. It's a step toward something positive, and it's a step closer toward equality. But I don't think everyone gets the complete picture. In a way, this is like tossing the LGBT community a bone. And it won't affect me in Pennsylvania; it won't affect my friends in NJ. So there are a lot of gays who aren't exactly celebrating right now.

From a legal standpoint, there's still a long way to go. And the only way to achieve true equality is on a federal level, not on a state level, Mr. President.

Here's one example of inequality you won't see mentioned much in the mainstream media. You'll see documentaries about homeless gay people and stories they can sensationalize. You'll see stories about bullying and stories about the most flamboyant. But you won't see stories about the millions of hard working gay people living their lives just like everyone else. I've written about the inheritance taxes gay couples are required to pay in my novels, especially in Gay Pride and Prejudice. If a gay couple has been together for thirty years (the number of years doesn't really matter) and have shared home ownership and one passes away, the survivor is required to pay steep inheritance taxes on his or her own property. I know gay couples who've actually taken out life insurance policies just to pay these taxes. I know other gay couples who've found other ways to get around this, including legally adopting each other. I also know gay people who've been financially wiped out by these taxes. As a homeowner, it scares the hell out of me.

A lesbian friend of mine from NY sent me an interesting e-mail this morning...she writes in all caps because she's older and it's easier, not because she's shouting. She's been with her partner for many years, and they've been married in several states where it's legal for gays to marry, so she knows first hand what she's talking about.




As you can see, what happened in NY is a step forward, but until something's done on a federal level, it's just not enough.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Bathhouse Scene in HOT ITALIAN LOVER

For those who don't know the significance of gay bathhouses, here is a link that will explain it in detail.

And, shock of shocks, bathhouses still exist. There's even a blog (I think I once interviewed this blogger for best gay blogs years ago). Though I've only been to one bathhouse in my entire life, I have good friends, from all walks of life, who frequent them often. I even know a couple who have been together for over twenty-five years who met at a bathhouse in Philadelphia. For them, this is romance. For them, this is part of what being gay is all about.

The bathhouse experience never did much for me. I found it too impersonal and too furtive. You're just as likely to meet the love of your life there as you are to meet you're next door neighbor's husband sneaking around on the down low.

And I've never written a bathhouse scene until now. I did it in HOT ITALIAN LOVER in order to push the impending romance forward. Without getting into any spoilers, I wanted the bathhouse scene to be accurate, but also a little satirical. The main character, Joey, normally wouldn't be the type to go to a bathhouse.

Here's an unedited, unpublished excerpt, where Joey first walks into the bathhouse.

Joey had to admit this was easier than he’d anticipated, and now that he was inside the bathhouse he wasn’t as nervous as he’d been outside: filled with dread and anticipation. Though this was Joey’s first time in a bathhouse, he knew how they worked. In many ways, for gay men, bathhouses just like this had always been a comfort zone, a home away from home, and a place where gay men could be themselves without anyone judging them or bothering them. Joey thought it was ironic that even in this day and age, when so many people seem to be so open to accept gay men and so willing to invite them into mainstream society, that he would still find such quiet, simple comfort being here with his own kind. He felt as if he’d just walked into a playground, or a secret club that only allowed certain people to belong. Joey almost felt a little guilty about it, because he’d always been so interested in equal rights and frowned upon gay men who strictly confined themselves to nothing but gay circles.

He passed a middle aged man who wore nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. He had salt and pepper hair, a well-trimmed goatee, and a slight paunch. The guy looked Joey up and down and Joey nodded at him without stopping. Although Joey wasn’t sure what he was going to do there, or whether or not he’d actually have sex with anyone, he wanted to take his time and adjust to the surroundings before he sent anyone an inviting glance.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amazon and an Indie Bookstore Owner at Odds

I read about this on another publishing blog and wanted to share for those who haven't seen it. It's an interesting post about how one Indie bookstore owner feels about Amazon...especially when it comes to hosting Amazon authors in their stores to sign.

Frankly, I don't know much about Amazon authors. I wasn't even aware that the Amazon mystery imprint had been released yet. But I do know that a good deal of all author e-book royalties come from Amazon. And I have been treated the same way by some indie bookstore owners and I've been published by both "traditional" print publishers and e-publishers. In other words, if I went to an lgbt indie bookstore, they could still pull out the many anthologies I've been in over the years and sell them.

I wish there were a way to work this out. I truly do. I love and support my local indie bookstores and want to see them hang around forever.

June 22, 2011
Can't Shake the Devil's Hand and Say You're Only Kidding

This week, we received a copy of a new book from an author who was interested in coming in to sign. The problem is that the book is from the new Amazon mystery imprint. They're making an aggressive move into publishing and have lined up a list of new and known authors. The authors are understandably eager and excited and they have a hard time understanding when they run into our brick wall of NO. We start with my original message of explaination, then his reply and my return message. In the interest of everyone getting a better understanding of the issues and our point, here is the exchange ~ JB

Tuesday, June 21, 10:30 AM To: The Author

Sorry to say that we cannot offer you a signing. We cannot do anything to support, help or benefit Amazon. They're the enemy of independent bookshops and aiding them in any way - mainly ordering their books and selling them and promoting them - would be suicide. Things are tough enough without cutting our own throats. - JB Dickey, owner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 5:49 PM To:

Dear JB, I understand your concerns. But please know that the opposite is happening nationwide. Amazon is reaching out to independents everywhere and offering to send hundreds of thousands of Amazon emails promoting an individual bookstore. Happily sending Amazon customers to independents. The results have been spectacular. Hundreds have been showing up at these events. It is a tremendous show of support for the independents.

I know it seems counter-intuitive. Amazon is easy to demonize. But I've seen the result of their work with independents. And it is impressive. They wouldn't be putting in this kind of effort if they were out to cut your throat. My little book tour is not about to make or break Amazon. I truly believe that Amazon wants both the independents and the online stores to thrive. If I didn't believe that I would not have signed with them.

And as an author with a bestselling book from a conventional NY publisher, I can attest to the new life Amazon is breathing into books. Whereas an event might bring in the same ten or twelve people, now we are seeing many times that amount. New customers who then tell others about the event and about the bookstores. It has been great for everyone, especially the bookstores.

I know your mind is set, and I do not expect my email to change it. But I do want you to know that my experience with Amazon as an author has been second to none. They are incredibly supportive and responsive and beyond author-friendly. They flew me to NY for a book signing at BEA, something unheard of for a first-time author in my genre. And the list goes on.

If I can do anything to help your bookstore please let me know. And if you want to talk more about this or anything else book-related please call me at 555-555-1212. The author I am touring with is an English professor at University State X, and I know he feels as strongly as I do about the survival of the independents.

Sincerely, The Author

6/22/11, 10:56 AM To: The Author

What you say is all well and good but you're looking at it from your perspective.

From my perspective, this is a huge corporation that has not only taken massive amounts of sales away from me over the years but also sales reps (which means the attention of publishers) and has waged a price war with the NYC publishers over their e-books. Remember when they removed ALL St. Martin's titles from their site in retaliation for St. Martin's insisting that they no longer undercut the price structure for e-books that the others were observing? Remember, too, that Amazon is the company that reached into the private devices of individuals and deleted e-books (one of our very good/long time customers is a computer worker and had downloaded a technical book from Amazon and make copious notes in her reader - Amazon deleted the 'book' and she lost all of her notes/ and then they also deleted - what was it, 1984? - from people's e-readers). And let's not forget that they appeared to buckle to outside pressure to remove gay and lesbian fiction and, when caught, blamed technical problems, not mendacity. I cannot tolerate censorship of any kind or by anyone. If these people are not intentionally evil, they come damn close to it by their actions and policies.

You want me to buy books from them? Pay them money to continue their efforts and to have books in my joint that clearly say "Amazon", to give them free advertisement as well?

If they're like NYC publishers, they'd demand that I open an account with them. That means giving them my personal info (this shop is a sole-proprietorship), tax numbers and bank accounts and, probably, the account information from three other businesses (either publishers and/or wholesalers) as references. Sorry - not a chance in hell I'd give all of that to Amazon. I do not trust them.

Even if I were to consider it, I haven't heard enough about their policies: what is the discount structure? are returns allowed and in what time frame? are they selling the same book at a discount that I can't/won't match or are they selling the books at the same price as I would?

I don't doubt that they're doing good things for you authors. It is fully within their interest to do so. First of all, they're launching a mystery/crime imprint and want to do all they can to promote it and its authors. Secondly, they want you to promote it and talk about it and to have more authors want to sign with them and to make more and more sales. I would bet that the intent is to take more and more business away from the major publishers who are very good at letting sales slip through their fingers.

Neither of us will change our minds. I'm the owner of the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan. You are working for Mr. Potter. And Mr. Potter is always buying.

No one else may share my views. We're all doggedly independent. It might be that I'm extra-sensitive about Amazon since they started here. If it works for others and you, great. But it is not for me. ~ JB

Donald Trump's at it Again...

It seems Mr. Trump has been allegedly exaggerating a little about his deal with NBC. What I don't get is why...seriously.

Frankly, I think Trump's show is tired anyway. And this has nothing to do with Trump's blast on gay marriage. It's time to move on and bring in something fresh.

Here's a statement from NBC...

"The financial information reported today in regards to 'The Celebrity Apprentice' is grossly inaccurate and has been significantly overstated. While it is our policy to keep financial information strictly confidential, neither the production costs of the show nor what Mr. Trump makes personally is in the realm of reality. Donald Trump and 'The Apprentice' franchise remain a key part of the NBC primetime lineup and we are looking forward to another compelling cycle next season."

New Hope, PA...A Quick Local Rant

For those who don't know, I live in New Hope, PA. And although it's known for art, theater, and literature, we've also been fighting greedy developers for ages.

I saw this on facebook and wanted to share. Allegedly, one of our dear money-hungry developers in these trying times of real estate decided to change the name of Mechanic Street to "Canal" Street in an advertisement for condos, without asking for permission.

I need to vent! I haven't said much lately about this subject but I just saw an ad in the Herald on Page B-10...take your time...check it out. It's a full page ad for "New Hope's Best Kept Secret - CANAL STREET". For those of you who don't live here or only visit occasionally there is no Canal Street in New Hope. This is the name unnamed local developer gave to his 20 condo project here on MECHANIC STREET...a nice enough street here in town with what could only be called a quirky reputation. This AD, however, at no time mentions the fact that his project is on our street and in fact says, "...step into the quaint, but vibrant surroundings of village living. The scent of wood burning fireplaces in the air (must mean from the empty canal); the chatter from al fresco diners (anyone know who this Al Fresco is?), shopkeepers watering their gardens (I'd like the name of ANY shopkeeper on Mechanic Street with a garden)...(here's the best part though)...relax with a cappuccino from (can you guess...wait for it) STARBUCKS!!!..." It goes on but I can now guess why this place is still a secret and the "Best KEPT Secret" at that...because they just don't want to be a part of any of this Mechanic Street Madness. The MUG ManSee More

Free E-books At Ravenous Romance

I copied and pasted the info below from an e-mail. But I'm adding the facebook link at the bottom.

This sure beats .99 e-books, and you dear pirates might get a real thrill downloading a free e-book this time that's legit (smile).

Like our Facebook page and get a FREE book!

To celebrate the summer reading season, we're giving all of our Facebook fans a FREE book of their choice on July 5th!

Like the Ravenous Romance Facebook page today to receive your FREE book code on July 5th!

Click here to like our Facebook page!

Gay Characters, Authenticity, and Writing What You Know

I've been reading a lot of blog posts and a few interviews dealing with gay characters, authenticity, and stereo-types. And like all blog posts where authors are being interviewed, I found most to be safe and lacking fundamental information. I get this and I don't blame them. Most either don't know what they are talking about and they are winging it, or they don't want to say anything that might offend anyone and hurt book sales. These days, it seems like everyone is campaigning for something.

The one thing I never see...anywhere in any form of the that the LGBT community is probably one of the most diversified communities in the universe. Just look at LGBT: there are four different categories lumped into one group, and everyone in those four different categories is unique.

As an openly gay man, I base all my characters on my own personal experience. If you read about a grouchy gay man, with effeminate qualities and plucked eyebrows in one of my books, it's not a stereo-type. It's more likely a conglomeration of four or five different gay men I've known over the years. If you read about a gay republican attorney, with conservative values, who is well-educated, drives a European car, and lives for designer clothes, I based him on my own personal experiences through the many gay men I've know who are like this.

I rarely write about lesbians because I don't know that many. But the lesbians I do know are either butch or lipstick. When I owned my gallery in New Hope, I remember a ninety year old lesbian who used to live in a grand old colonial house at the end of the alley where my gallery was located. We used to call her "Denny." She and her partner owned an antique shop in Philadelphia for many years. Her partner was soft and feminine, but Denny was rough, level-headed, and masculine. Denny was an old guard Smith girl, who graduated from Smith during the depression. She wound up working at an all girls school in Connecticut, and then retired in New Hope and opened a lesbian book shop. She wore camel hair sport jackets, mens hush puppies, long sleeve shirts with button down collars, and corduroy slacks with cuffs. She had her hair cut at the barbershop and carried a pocket watch. Once, while she was talking to me and had her back to the gallery entrance, a man passing by asked her directions and mistakenly called her, "Sir."

And I loved her. I used to listen to her talk about her Smith days, and how she gave up a career in advertising to work as a teacher in order to support her family. They'd lost everything during the 1929 crash, and wound up depending on her for the rest of their lives. And when her partner of forty years died, she lived alone in that big old house at the end of the alley until she was one hundred years old.

I didn't see anyone like my old friend Denny mentioned in the interviews I read about authentic gay characters. All I saw was a bunch of garbage about love and being real and complexities. Blah, blah, blah. One blogger in particular thinks she knows it all, but doesn't know jack shit. I guess if you talk about anything long enough, and do it with a slant, you actually start to believe it yourself...and you'll get a ton of other people to drink the Kool Aide and believe it with you.

But for me, it's more about basing characters on personal experience, through real people I've known, that makes them authentic LGBT characters. This is one of the reasons why I'm always open to any challenges regarding my characters. You can't go wrong if you stick with the truth. And I don't think you have to be gay to do this. I've read many excellent books by straight women who've nailed it. I just wish they'd start speaking up more. We need to hear their voices, because there are too many loud voices handing out some very bad advice.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Freedom to Marry

If you're interested in lgbt equal rights, especially the right to marry, please take the time to check out the web site below. There's always something positive going on over there, and it's always something important.

The more people who get on board the better it is for all of us. And nowadays it's the online word that spreads the fastest.


Is It Fair For Adults to Rate and Review Kids Books?

I honestly don't have an opinion here. I don't have kids and I didn't read kids books when I was a kid. So even if I had an opinion, it wouldn't count for much.

But I was over at goodreads a few minutes ago checking out reviews for a kids book I'd heard about, in this case it's middle grade.

I understand the concept that parents want to know what their kids are reading. I don't have a problem with that at all. If I had kids, I'd want to know what they were reading, too. But what I don't understand is when adults leave ratings and reviews for kids books.

Not everyone did this. A few of the reviews were nicely written by adults, but based on the reactions that kids had after reading the book. A few parents reviewed the way their kids reacted to the book. And I would imagine that if I'd written a kids book, the reactions from kids would be the most important thing to me as an author.

A few of the reviews and ratings I saw weren't from a kid's POV. They were written by pedantic adults, and filled with criticism and insults. Maybe this is something that's acceptable with kids books. I honestly don't know. I just thought it was interesting.

Anderson Cooper's Thoughts About President Obama on Gay Marriage

I received two e-mails back to back. One was from the Freedom to Marry organization asking people to tweet the President about gay marriage. The other was from a lesbian friend who wanted to share Anderson Cooper's call to the President regarding his weak stand on gay marriage.

And frankly I agree with Anderson. It's time to start talking instead of smiling and campaigning.

You know, Paul, Democrats attack conservatives for being hypocritical on issues that they're hypocritical about," Cooper said to Begala. "But I don't hear a lot of Democrats attacking their own president for hypocrisy.

Interesting. Here's a link to the entire piece.

Books Stores Charging Admission...

I came across this piece in the NYT this morning and thought it was interesting.

I have to admit that since I've been working in e-publishing for the past four years almost exclusively, I've lost track of a lot of things that are connected to print books and print publishing. I don't even go to book stores anymore. I buy everything online and read on my Kobo, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

I have to admit that I often miss the old days (I'd still be working on a typewriter if I hadn't been forced to change), but I'm not sorry I made the plunge into e-publishing at all. And as a reader, my e-readers have only enhanced my reading experience.

As for charging admission to author book signings, I'm not sure about that. It's not like they are going to make big bucks at five and ten dollars a person, and they might lose the clients they already have. I owned an art gallery in New Hope for ten years, and I know how the book store owners feel. I used to wish I could charge admission to tourists, especially on holiday weekends. I often felt more like a free museum than a gallery. But I didn't want to insult potential clients, and I'm glad I never did it.

Come Meet the Author, but Open Your Wallet

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
To see authors at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, Calif., customers can buy a gift card or the book.

Published: June 21, 2011

Independent bookstores, squeezed by competition from Internet retailers like Amazon, have long done something their online brethren cannot emulate: author events. And now many bookstores say they have no choice but to capitalize on this grand tradition.

Bookstores, including some of the most prominent around the country, have begun selling tickets or requiring a book purchase of customers who attend author readings and signings, a practice once considered unthinkable.

“There’s no one right now who’s not considering it,” said Sarah McNally, the owner of McNally Jackson Books in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. “The entire independent bookstore model is based on selling books, but that model is changing because so many book sales are going online.”

The Boulder Book Store in Colorado caused a stir in April when it announced it would charge $5 a person to attend store events. In April, Kepler’s Books, an independent in Menlo Park, Calif., began charging customers a $10 gift card, which admits two people to each author appearance. (They also have the option of buying the book in exchange for admission.)

Ms. McNally is overseeing the construction of an event space in the lower level of her store, a warmly lighted shop on Prince Street. As soon as the space is ready, she said, the store will start charging admission to its events.

Bookstore owners say they are doing so because too many people regularly come to events having already bought a book online or planning to do so later. Consumers now see the bookstore merely as another library — a place to browse, do informal research and pick up staff recommendations.

“They type titles into their iPhones and go home,” said Nancy Salmon, the floor manager at Kepler’s. “We know what they’re doing, and it has tested my patience.”

The novelist Ann Patchett, who is currently on a three-week book tour for her new book, “State of Wonder,” appeared at a ticketed event at Kepler’s last week. While she said she was sympathetic to bookstores, she is concerned that people who do not have enough money to buy a hardcover book — especially students or the elderly — might be left out.

“I wouldn’t want the people who have no idea who I am and have nothing else to do on a Wednesday night shut out,” she said. “Those are your readers.”

While e-book sales have exploded in the last year, sales of print books have suffered, hitting brick-and-mortar stores especially hard. But the independent bookstores that have survived the growth of Amazon and the big bookstore chains have tried to retool over the years to become tougher, more agile and more creative in finding new sources of revenue beyond print books.

Anne Holman, the general manager of The King’s English Bookshop, an independent store in Salt Lake City, said an industrywide discussion began a few years ago about whether to charge for events.

“We don’t like to have events where people can’t come for free,” Ms. Holman said. “But we also can’t host big free events that cost us a lot money and everyone is buying books everywhere else.”

The bookshop now requires book purchases or sells tickets for around half of its 150 annual events, up from 10 percent five years ago.

Heather Gain, the marketing manager of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., said that in recent years the store had begun doing more events that required the customer to buy a book, constantly reminding them that “if they aren’t purchasing the books from the establishments that are running these events, the bookstores are going to go away.”

“We’re a business,” Ms. Gain said. “We’re not just an Amazon showroom.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Cover Preview: HOT ITALIAN LOVER

Just got the new cover for HOT ITALIAN LOVER. This was the book I posted about earlier last week that was titled, HIS TUSCAN EMBRACE. The publisher and I were going back and forth with both titles and I ultimately asked them to decide. I'm happy with it and I love the cover. Looks like they've been shooting with new models over at ravenous romance.

Solicit Reviews Through Your Blog? Another WTF Post...

I saw something interesting this morning and I'm wondering how other authors...and readers and reviewers...feel about this. You see, there's this new author out there soliciting reviews for his new release on his own blog. But more than that, he's doing this as a contest, and the person who writes the best review gets a signed copy of the book and a monetary bonus. He claims he's selecting the winner at random...but somehow I doubt "This S*^t Sux," is going to win first prize.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but aren't book reviews designed to help readers make purchases? This is why all reviews aren't wonderful. When I shop around for books, I'm looking for the good reviews and the bad reviews. And if an author starts having review contests, where the best reviewer wins a prize, it stands to reasons that I'm going to question the validity of all the reviews he solicited in this contest.

I'm tempted to add links here. I really am. But I'm not going to do that because it might spark a flame war. And I'm not certain the author knows whether or not he's making a mistake. This one should know better, but I'm still not sure. And while it's questionable in an ethical and moral sense, I guess it's legal to solicit good book reviews and hold contests for good book reviews.

And what about book reviewers? If I were an online book reviewer and I saw an author do something like this, I'd be f**king livid. Like them or not, most of the book reviewers I read seem to take pride in their blogs and they don't screw around. I also followed an amazon comment thread for a long time and learned that most amazon reviewers take pride in what they do.

Feel free to disagree with me, but soliciting good book reviews by having a contest on your blog is downright tacky. And I can only promise my readers one thing. I'd never do this. I'll take the good with the bad, from professional reviewers and reader reviews, and hope I learn something from all the reviews.

Who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a bad review will win the contest and it will be randomly selected. But I still have to wonder about any author who is willing to solicit reviews, through a contest, on his blog. Forget about authors, I don't even want to think about what would happen if a romance publisher started soliciting reviews and offering prizes through contests. The blogsphere would explode.

Update to this post: Evidently, the author I mentioned above has changed the rules. No more monetary prize in the contest. But I still can't help wondering about the basic concept.

How Do You Give Publishing Advice These Days?

I made a friend about four years ago, a fairly well known psychic who has a decent platform. She's not nationally known...yet. But she's been on radio shows with famous celebs, and TV talk shows with the comcast network. She's worked hard, she's damn good at what she does, and she's been trying to get a book published for a long time.

Four years ago when I met her, she asked me advice about getting a non-fiction book published. I gave her links, I showed her how to write a decent query/proposal for non-fiction, and I even recommended her to my friend who is a literary agent. And in all the years we've been friends, I've only recommended two people to my agent friend.

My agent friend rejected her. He focuses more on fiction and already had enough good non-fiction authors at the time. My non-fiction writer friend understood and continued to query. And since then, she's been building her platform, traveling all over the country doing radio shows and TV talk shows, and helping people through her psychic abilities with their problems.

I think it's important to mention that I believe in her talents and her abilities as a pychic, and I'm the biggest skeptic there is. I met her at a time when a family member was going through a life and death crisis and she helped me with some great advice. And she was absolutely correct in everything she told me, and she made me a believer.

I truly thought that by now this wonderful, talented psychic would have found an agent and publisher. But that's not the case. She contacted me this weekend asking for advice about querying again. And this time, four years later, I wasn't sure how to respond.

To be perfectly honest, I don't have much faith in the query system. It only works for a few lucky authors, and it's designed for failure. Though I never queried my best selling book, The Virgin Billionaire, to any agents, I can guarantee it would have been rejected by all of them if I had queried. The same goes for my other books and short stories.

So I gave my non-fiction author friend the best advice I possibly could based on my own personal information. Things have changed so much in publishing it's hard to give good advice. I told her to continue never know...but not to get her hopes up too high. Even if you do get an agent, trying to get a "traditional" publisher interested nowadays is a long shot. They only seem to be interested in Snookie and Bristol Palin books.

Then I told my non-fiction author friend to run over to amazon and check out self-publishing a kindle e-book. With her platform, her large following, and her excellent promotional skills, I doubt she'll have any problems selling e-books and gaining a readership. She's been managing her own career for years, why not take the next step by publishing her own .99 e-books.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are You Switching From Borders 2 Kobo?

If you're switching your Borders E-book account to Kobo (if you're not you'd better start thinking about it because Borders is going down fast). This is the best link I've found and the easiest way to do it.

I'm still trying to figure out whether or not I can sync two kobo e-readers to the same account, or if I have to have two different accounts. (The don't make this f*&king simple for readers.) But at least I've managed to save all my Borders Books on the Kobo Look Book.

Titles...To Collaborate or Not...

I think choosing book or story titles for all authors is a different process. And, some authors are far more clever than others.

When it comes to titles, I'm either hit or miss, clever or lost. And I'm never actually certain when it's going to be hit or miss either. With A REGULAR BUD, I guess I hit it right on the nose. And this surprised me. I thought the title was mundane (if not a little trite) and never expected the sales of the story to be very good. I was wrong. It's been on a few bestseller lists for over a year now. And sales have been great. Why? I couldn't even begin to explain it.

With STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM AT THE PLAZA, I thought I'd nailed the title. But I was wrong again. I missed that one by a long shot. Even though this story had been published years ago in a small book by a large LGBT publisher, someone else released an e-book with a title similar right around the same time I released my story, and my story disappeared into cyberspace. Bad timing; wrong title. Had I known ahead of time, I would have changed my title immediately. Oddly, this story has received probably the best reviews of anything I've ever written. But it never sold as well as I'd hoped it would. And I think a lot had to do with the title.

And this is why I've come to really depend on a collaboration with my publishers and editors when it comes to titles. With every single Ravenous Romance book that's been released, each title has been a collaboration. Most of the RR titles originated with Lori Perkins, one of the publishers at RR. She's unreal when it comes to titles. She gets them in seconds, where they take me weeks. And a few came from Holly, the other publisher. And right now, this very week, we're deciding whether or not to title a new release as His Tuscan Embrace, or, Hot Italian Lover. Personally, I like them both. But I'm just too close to make the final decision and I'm letting Holly make it for me. I know that sounds indecisive, but I've learned the collaboration between author, editor, and publisher usually works out best in the long run.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Very Happy Ending...of Sorts

Last December I posted about good friends of mine in publishing who had an eleven year old Scottish Terrier named Ginger and she wasn't doing well. After tons of treatments, and more set-backs than anyone ever imagined, she finally passed away and my friends were devastated. Needless to say, it was a long, long winter.

But I just came back from their Carversville home, where I met the newest addition to their family. He's a four month old, extremely frisky, Welsh Terrier named Whiskey. And they couldn't be more thrilled. Of course nothing can ever replace Ginger, but life does continue to move forward, and we all have to move right along with it, creating our own happy endings wherever we can get them.

Intro to Field of Dreams...

Here's the intro I wrote to the new anthology I have coming out soon that contains a collection of my short stories. The title will be FIELD OF DREAMS, and I've included two short stories that are lost chapters from The Virgin Billionaire series and American Star.

One of the most challenging and fulfilling ways to write fiction is through the short story. For an author, it’s a way to learn control and balance, a way to practice word economy, and a way to focus on character study no other medium can provide. For the reader, the short story is a way to escape into the relaxing realm of fiction without investing too much time in this extremely busy world. But with just as much intensity.

In this particular collection of Ravenous Romance stories, the balance is between love, relationships, and erotica. Though some are more emotional than others, there’s an underlying theme of deep seated passion in all. And though some are more sexually daring and explorative than others, there’s always a happy ending and always hope and promise for the future. In Rudy’s New Kazoo, a handsome, gentle young man recently graduated from college takes on a job as a ranch hand, with a strong, alpha cowboy who is used to having things his own way. In Back in the Day, Paul and Blair celebrate their love-filled twenty year relationship by revisiting the old stomping grounds where they first met and fell in love. Milo, in His First Kiss, discovers the romantic thrill of kissing a man for the first time in his life, and Joe, in Dirty Little Boxer Boy, learns the true meaning of customer service when a handsome young doctor walks into the tanning salon where he works. There’s also a story with two minor characters from The Virgin Billionaire series, Cory and Jasper, finding love on a cold snowy night. And there’s a quirky story about the unexpected love between a transsexual and the handsome male star of a soap opera in, I Love Lou Ces’Lablanc.

As these characters embrace their individual circumstances, finding love in places they didn’t expect and growing in ways they never could have imagined, the world becomes a much better place for all of them. And even though the journey isn’t always easy, they learn how to become better people through the process.

Part Two: Paying to Read Blogs...

When I finished the previous post about paying to read blogs, I looked around and found this interesting post by Jonathan Fields (No relation). Here's what he has to say, and if you read the comment thread you'll find some interesting opinions.

All I know is I wouldn't pay to read a blog, on the internet or on a Kindle...not even for .99. And I wouldn't advise a beginner with a Kindle e-reader either. We often take for granted that everyone knows the Internet. But that's not the case. A lot of people are just getting into reading e-books, and I'd hate to think how many of these beginners see a blog for sale on Kindle for .99 and don't know they can read the very same blog on the internet for free.

This one comment/question sums it all up for me: Could the FT paywall model ever work for a blog other than a mass news source?

And this is pretty much what I said in yesterday's post before I'd ever read Jonathan Fields's post: And, I wonder, too, what does that tell us about the state of the blogosphere?

Whose Blog Would You Pay to Read?

ShareAround the same time I shared my thoughts on the New York Times’ decision to put up a paywall last week, Fred Wilson shared his thoughts:

I like the subscription model the FT (Financial Times) has been using for some time now. I may get the exact details wrong but its the idea that’s important anyway. You can visit the domain something like nine times per month for free. They cookie you and when you stop by the tenth time in a month, they ask you to pay. And many do.

This model recognizes a few fundamental facts about the internet. First, you need to make your content available for search engines and social media linking. That drives as much as half or more of the visits these days. And if you have an ad model at all, and most newspapers do, then you need those visits and that audience.

Its also true that the ‘drive by’ visits will bring new audiences, some of whom will become loyal and ultimately paid audience members.

The other thing I like about the FT’s model is that its an elegant implementation of freemium. The best freemium models allow anyone to use the service for free and then convert the most serious/frequent/power users to paying customers.

It’s an interesting model, too, because it sidesteps the near impossible task of allocating which content is good enough to be paid for and which should be given away free, basing payment not on content, but on usage.

But, it also made me wonder…

Could the FT paywall model ever work for a blog other than a mass news source?

So, my question FOR YOU is -

Is there any blog, whether run by an individual or team of contributors, that you believe offers such astonishingly good and unique content you’d actually be willing to pay to be able to visit it more than 9 times a month?

I love many of the blogs I read, but, sad to say, I don’t know if I’d pay to read any (attention brown-nosers, no need to name mine, I don’t even think I’d pay to read it, lol!). Not that they don’t add value, just not enough for me to pay for the privilege of opening my wallet after the ninth visit.

And, I wonder, too, what does that tell us about the state of the blogosphere?

What about you? Is there any blog you’d pay to be able to read every day?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why Pay to Read a Blog on Kindle When You Can Read it For Free on the Internet?

There's no denying we're living in hard times now. Last night on the evening news I saw people line up for miles just to get a full tank of gas at ten cents a gallon. It was a promotional thing offered by a large company. And as the people were filling their tanks, I watched their grateful faces closely. I've never seen so many genuine, thrilled smiles on the evening news. For once, the regular people were getting a break...their own mini stimulus...instead of big banks and large corporations.

One of the things I've always loved about blogs are they are free. Agree with them or not, wonderful literary agents have been blogging publishing advice for years...advice that's helped millions of authors learn how to query, how to write a decent book description, and how to be a publishing professional. Janet Reid is one of these bloggers: she doesn't charge a dime. Lori Perkins is another agent who blogs for free, offering her many years of advice.

I wouldn't think of charging anyone to read my blog. I'd rather stop blogging altogether than charge people to read mine. I've even made a note of this on my sidebar!! Advertising is another story. I don't do it here on my blog, but I don't care one way or the other about what other bloggers do when it comes to ads. If you're a small personal blogger and you want to do ads, have a blast. I don't think they work, and we're only talking about making pennies, but they don't hurt anyone.

But I recently saw a small personal blogger charging people .99 on amazon to read their blog on Kindle. And I mean a small blogger, not a large news service or someone famous. I'm assuming the only way to read a blog on kindle is by charging for least I hope that's the case. But this is an assumption and I could be wrong. And if I were going to charge people to read my blog on Kindle, I'd charge one cent instead of .99. And I'd give them a huge, huge break in the spirit of personal blogging. And if someone asked me to charge .99 to read my blog on Kindle, I'd tell them, "You can read my blog on the internet for free. Give that .99 to your favorite charity instead."

For me, and millions of other personal bloggers, blogging isn't about making money on readers. I know .99 isn't a huge amount. But it's cheesy, and it reminds me of agents who charge reading fees. Personal blogging is about informing readers, entertaining readers, and tracking the daily changes in all of our lives. Especially with small blogs, where amateur bloggers like me share everything from our opinions on books, our own new book releases, and our thoughts on how goddamn tacky it is to charge people to read blogs.

And why anyone would pay .99 to read a personal blog on a Kindle passes me by. Small, personal blogs are free all over the Internet; you don't need to pay a dime for them. And the bloggers like me who write them are more than happy to entertain you without charging you as much as a dime. And if you do have to pay, there'd better be something extremely professional and spectacular about them. And I'm thinking along the lines of a famous bestselling author sharing their personal thoughts, not someone like me who's just writing what comes to him first thing in the morning.

I honestly hope this isn't going to be a new trend in blogging. I hope it's just a few opportunistic personal bloggers...with illusions of granduer...trying to cash in on the ever so popular .99 Kindle thing that's been making the headlines everywhere these past few months. Because if paying for small, personal blogs...on Kindle or anywhere going to catch on, personal blogging will never be the same again.

If I'm missing something here, please feel free to enlighten me on the comment thread. Because I honestly don't get why anyone would pay anything to read something they can get for free.


I was pleasantly surprised tonight when I opened an e-mail from coffee time romance regarding another review for STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM AT THE PLAZA.

This was one of those short stories I didn't expect to get much attention. There's no sex in it, it focuses more on love and romance than anything I've ever written before, and the characters are simple, ordinary people who fall in love for the first time. I like to know that I can write anything in any genre, with or without sex, gay or straight. And though this book didn't sell nearly as many copies as my other books, It's been an extremely rewarding experience for me. And one day, if I ever decide to write anything mainstream under a pen name, I'm going to use this book as my muse.

It seems to be hitting a spot with some reviewers, and I'm extremely thankful to them for these reviews. Especially thankful to Lototy at Coffee Time Romance. And the interesting thing is there was another m/m romance released with a similar name around the same time I released this story. It's interesting because my story was originally published in an anthology many years ago by, I think, Alyson Books under a different title.

Here's the link to the review, and here's the review below.
ISBN: 978-1-60054-486-6
May 2010
loveyoudivine Alterotica
20 Pages
M/M Romance
Rating: 4 Cups

The life of a freelance writer can get pretty lonely, and Kellan is realizing just how much he has let the world pass him by.

He just writes about life on his blog, and Jason Patriot settles for nothing less than total honesty.

Making the decision to get back into the dating game is not as easy as it would seem, but Kellan knows the only way to have a real relationship is to get out there. He comes across Jason’s blog during research for his latest article, and feels like this is someone he would really like to meet. Their impromptu date segues into hours of talking, sharing, and totally enjoying each other’s company, but Kellan fears if things go too fast too soon, they could damage what looks to be a wonderful beginning.

Much like the blog Jason writes, this story is creative, honest, and entirely realistic. This just feels exactly what it is like to meet someone new, have that tingle of attraction, and hope those feelings are reciprocated. There is nothing complicated or convoluted about Jason and Kellan, and it only makes you want to know more. I love the simplicity and straightforward approach this story takes, and am as always overjoyed to read anything by Mr. Field.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Friday, June 17, 2011

Field of Dreams...

It's been a busier week than normal. I was pulling together an anthology of short stories, and getting a novella/novelette...there are so many varying definitions on this...together for ravenous romance. On top of this, I've been working on my next short story for love you divine, and starting a new book in the Virgin Billionaire series about the Virgin Billionaire's dream house.

The anthology is going to be titled, FIELD OF DREAMS. Here's the back cover copy. And I'll post more about the release date soon. I've been in hundreds of anthologies in the past twenty years, with my own name and pen names. So many I don't even remember them all. But this is the first time I've ever had one of my own.

In Ryan Field’s Field of Dreams, the central theme revolves around the celebration of love, passion, and romance, where the main characters are either already deeply in love with each other, or on the verge of falling in love. From the story about a handsome young man who falls in love with a rugged cowboy, to the story about two young men who were best friends in high school and wind up falling in love with each other several years later, the focus is on relationships and moving forward. And though these relationships aren’t always conventional, they are always emotional. The characters are all either searching for something better or thankful they’ve already found it. For some, love has been there all along and they only needed to look around to see it clearly. For others, the love is new and fresh, with nothing but promise and hope for the future. There’s even a love story about a vampire who has been searching for love for many years, and winds up finding it in one of the most unlikely places.

And like with most things in life that involve love and relationships, the journey toward a happy ending isn’t always easy. Sometimes there are obstacles to overcome, and other times there are fears that need to be faced. But the love is always worth the sacrifice in the end.

This Could Be One Reason Why So Many Love Romance Novels

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling Stumped, Need Advice, Check Out This Live Stream For Instant Solutions

Here's the link. I pilfered this from another blog, but I figured I'd share in case people haven't seen it yet.

(Hint: if you type in dirty words, it's a lot more fun.)

Two of My Favorite Poems...

I've never been very poetic. For the most part, poetry puts me to sleep faster than a broadway musical (or an author who takes things way too seriously). But I do have two favorites I'd like to share:

"There was an old fellow named Sidney,
Who drank til he ruined a kidney.
It shriveled and shrank,
He drank and he drank.
but he had his fun doing it, didn't he?"

"What'll you have, said the waiter,
As he stood there picking his nose,
A hard boiled egg, you sonofabitch,
You can't put your finger on those."

Words of Encouragement...

I have a good friend who is dealing with cancer, chemo, and radiation right now. While I was looking for something inspirational to send her, I found this and decided to share.

Sometimes we all need a reminder...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Julia Child's Local Ties to New Hope, Bucks County, PA

I'm still working on the pond. It needs hydroponic plants. But I'm in the middle of reading Julia Child's bio this month. I posted something last week here. If you're a fan, I can't recommend this book more...especially if you're a fan who was left cold by the film, Julie and Julia. (I'm reading the e-book on my Kobo look book, and the photos on the back lit screen are excellent.)

Julia led a fairly mundane life up until World War II. After that, she flew in dangerous planes, crossing dangerous territory. She lived in open huts and washed her undies out in rationed water. Ironically, food wasn't a huge part of her early years, other than the fact that she had a ravenous appetite.

I'm at the part where she marries Paul Cushing Child. And though I've lived in New Hope, Bucks County, PA for almost twenty years...ten in town, nine here in my home three miles outside of town...I never knew Julia had such strong local ties to this area. Her brother-in-law, Charlie Child, who also worked in Washington with his twin brother Paul, had a home in Lumberville, which is a few miles north of New Hope. It's still a quaint little enclave overlooking the Delaware River, where tourists from all over the world pass through. There's even a general store.

Julia and Paul were actually married in Stockton, NJ, just over the bridge from Lumberville on September 1, 1946. But the reception was held at Charlie's house in Lumberville. And they would return to visit Charlie and his family many times after the wedding.

When I owned my art gallery in town, I met tons of celebs passing through. Soap star Eileen Fulton bought a silver tray from me. Lanie Kazan bought a rug. Mick Jagger stopped in, Streisand passed through the door, and the artists from the New Hope school were everyday fixtures. I've heard stories about how Jackie Kennedy dined at The Canal House, and how Jessica Savage drowned in the Canal. But I'd never heard a thing about Julia Child. And, surprisingly, there isn't much information about it on the web.

I'm in a New Release From Cleis Press: HOT JOCKS

Just got word the new anthology I'm part of from Cleis Press, HOT JOCKS, is being released. You can find it here, and here.

Interesting how this book is being released while I'm posting so much this week about sex in m/m books. This book, for a few of you know-it-all newbie authors in the m/m digital world, is the type of book I've been submitting stories to for many, many years. It's also the type of book Cleis Press has been publishing for many, many years, long before you all arrived on the scene and started preaching what m/m should or shouldn't be.

This isn't something new. We've been doing this for a long time. We're proud of our work. And I've always been proud to be a part of anything Cleis Press publishes. They are highly respected within the lgbt community.

And It's Tasty, too!!

While I'm on this kick about sex in m/m fiction, I figured I may as well post this photo. I pilfered it from my buddy Ryan on facebook. I've never actually had it (the soup), but I'm thinking of ordering a few cans and sending them to a few people who I think need it.

Why Don't I Ever Hear There's Not Enough Sex in Books?

After I finished my post about too much sex in m/m fiction these days, I started wondering why I've never read anything about books that don't have enough sex in them.

I can't tell you how many times I've purchased a romance, m/m or hetero, and I've been disappointed in the sex scenes because I thought the author was holding back. Or, more important, lack of sex scenes altogether. I never went on Amazon or goodreads and left a nasty review saying the book didn't have enough sex...but that it sure could have used more sex. I've read novels where I've waited for at least an r-rated sex scene, hoping it would come along, only to be completely disappointed. But I didn't rant and leave a one star rating. And, so far, I don't think I've ever actually seen a review...customer or "professional"...that slammed a book for not having enough sex in it.

I'm not getting into my own opinions about this. God knows, if you read most literary agent blogs and read what they are looking for, you'd swear they were all anointed vestal virgins.

I'm not slamming anyone for not writing enough sex scenes either. I'm just curious as to why books with a lot of sex scenes are always getting slammed. Evidently, there are people out there who agree with me, otherwise sexy erotic romances wouldn't be selling as well as they are. The numbers do speak loudly, and I think readers have good taste and they know what they want. I also understand that the people who read erotic romance are a discreet, honest crowd and they usually don't like leaving comments, ratings, or reviews in public. It's one of the drawbacks of writing erotic romance: sometimes your biggest defenders are the most discreet people.

I'm also not slamming readers who don't like explicit sex scenes. You have every right to dislike explicit sex scenes, and I wouldn't take that away from any of you. I know, you want more emotion...I know, you want to feel more emotion. I've actually heard your screams and cries. We all get the picture and there's nothing wrong with that. You're a very loud group. Only I don't understand the problem, when there are so many books out there lacking good explicit sex scenes.

I think it would be interesting to see a few comments and reviews about books that don't have enough sex in them for a change. Now that, in all fairness, would be the epitome of balance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pretending to Be a Lesbian..."A Hoax That Got Way Out of Hand"

Blogging and pretending to be lesbian? I just heard about this and figured I'd share. Below are actual articles. Here's a link. It's an interesting read for anyone who follows me...and who has ever doubted the online identities of certain bloggers.

With a vast source...the Internet...that promotes anonymity so easily, I honestly don't see how this sort of thing can be avoided. And, I'm not all that shocked. I wouldn't be suprised if at least a third of the bloggers I've read aren't the real thing.

On Sunday, a writer named Tom MacMaster confessed that he had fabricated the online persona of openly gay Syrian blogger Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari.

Last week, his blog captured international attention (including our blog), claiming that the fictional blogger had been abducted. According to SkyNews, MacMaster lives in the UK but wrote his apology from Istanbul, Turkey.

MacMaster wrote this “Apology to Readers” yesterday: “I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about. I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience. This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.”

Here is the original story: “while her companion was still close by, Amina was seized by three men in their early 20’s. According to the witness (who does not want her identity known), the men were armed. Amina hit one of them and told the friend to go find her father. One of the men then put his hand over Amina’s mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad … The men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina’s present location is unknown and it is unclear if she is in a jail or being held elsewhere in Damascus.” (Link via, image via)

In case you don't feel like clicking links, here's the apology from the blog...

Apology to readers
I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone -- I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.

Tom MacMaster,
Istanbul, Turkey
June 12, 2011..

The sole author of all posts on this blog..

Ravenous Romance .99 E-Books on Amazon...

I posted earlier I have two e-books from ravenous romance that are .99 e-books.

I'm reposting again right now because of this article, and because I had a lot of comments on social media this afternoon from people who didn't know there are RR books on amazon for .99.

I don't know what other RR books are .99. You'll have to search that one out yourselves. But also remember that you can buy RR books directly from the RR website for 4.99, which is still cheaper than the amazon price. In fact, as far as I know, books sold on all publisher web sites are usually cheaper than anywhere else.

Is There Too Much Sex In M/M?

Wiki says this: Freud established sexual drives as the primary motivational forces of human life...

And I think it depends on who you are. That's why there are heat levels, so people who don't want to read explicit sex scenes on paper don't have to read them. I just finished reading Debbie Macomber and loved every word of it. There wasn't any sex, and I didn't mind at all.

But I also think those interesting souls in the m/m community who are always complaining there's too much explicit sex in m/m aren't getting any. And most likely never did.

Check Out A Few of My .99 E-books

I feel a little like Second Hand Rose...but as a reader, I'm a huge fan of .99 e-books. I'm always checking out the "Cheap Reads" section on Kobo, and I usually buy two or three books while I'm there.

And a few of my e-books are now on sale over at Amazon for .99. These two aren't even that old as far as releases go. They were published less than three years ago. I don't have any control over the way my publishers price e-books. But when I see a good deal, I'll pass it on to readers.

Here are the links:

Pretty Man (As a side note...the two main characters in this book are also ongoing characters in the Virgin Billionaire series.)

And Officer and his Gentleman

The Reality of Being Gay...

I write positive, formula love stories about gay men who live happily-ever-after. But not all of the books are fluff and sex. I often lead up to the happily-ever-after ending by going into detail about how some young gay men don't have many options or choices. I often get criticized for this, too, from those who think they know more about being gay than I do.

Yes. That's right. But it's not hard to believe when the only information most people get about the lgbt community comes from TV sitcoms and movies like Sex in the City.

I stumbled across this article below:

Gay and homeless: In plain sight, a largely hidden population
Every year, hundreds of gay youths end up on the streets of L.A. County, where they make up a disproportionate share of the people under 25 who are homeless. 'They haven't been on the streets for years and years,' an advocate says, 'so they don't look bad.'

AJ, left, 23, and his boyfriend, Alex, 21, live on the streets. "If… (Christina House / For The Times)December 12, 2010|By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
The city hipsters sipping expensive coffee and chatting on cellphones did not give a second look at the two young men cutting across a Hollywood courtyard on their way to bed down in a nearby park.

AJ, 23, and his boyfriend, Alex, 21, hide their blankets and duffel bags in bushes. They shower every morning at a drop-in center and pick out outfits from a closet full of used yet youthful attire.