Friday, September 30, 2011

Valiant One, by Jay E. Hughes

I wrote a blurb for another one of Jay's books a while back. One of the reasons why I liked that particular book was because it really reminded me of people I know in real life. That doesn't happen very often. And the way Jay hit each character spot on, without even knowing there are actually gay men like this, surprised me.

And Jay has another book out now. I haven't read it yet, but I will. It's titled, VALIANT ONE, and you can find it here, at Ellora's Cave. And I'm sure it will be available on other large retail sites where e-books are sold.

Fred Karger: Openly Gay and Running for President

Until I received an e-mail from Fred Karger's campaign, I didn't know there was an openly gay man running for President. And he's a Republican, too, shock of shocks.

Here's a story from e-mail I received from him:

"I'm living in KY and I'm 20 years old. When I go to work each day, I fear 
that my employer may find out that I am gay and will fire me. In this state, 
it would be completely within his "legal right."

Growing up knowing I was gay and living in such a socially narrow-minded 
society, I fell into deep depression and attempted suicide many times.

Since coming out in 2010, it has been a struggle to find my "place" in this 
world, but I am so blessed to have good people in my life who support me and 
build me up. I stumbled upon your page while researching candidates for the 
2011 presidential election, and I am over joyed for your running.

As Harvey Milk said, we have to elect gay people. For all the teens out there who will 
be watching the news, wondering if this world will ever except them or not...

Thanks for giving me a little more hope today!


- "Jonathan"

I've posted about the fact that there are, indeed, many gay people who aren't liberal Democrats. I've just never given any solid examples...until right now.

I'm basically an independent, and truly bipartisan. When I write blog posts like this, I remain objective. And I'm curious to find out what Fred Krager has to say. I do know that all the hope and change we were promised in the last election...and I'm speaking collectively when I say we, not just about gays...didn't work out very well so far for most Americans.

I also think it's important to spread this information around the Interwebs about gay Presidential condidates like Fred Karger.

Here's the link to Fred Karger's web site.

I borrowed the article below, from here.

Welcome to the 2012 election where on the GOP side alone, we have an openly gay man, a woman and a Mormon running for President. Of course, a candidate's sexuality, gender or religion shouldn't matter. But it does, even in this day and age. However, I think because all these different types of people are running, it proves the country is making some progress. Win or lose, at least they ran and they're shaking up the field.

We interviewed Fred Karger, who is the first openly gay candidate looking to take over the Oval Office. He doesn't take himself too seriously, with a campaign that jokes, "Fred Who?!". But he says he is serious about fixing the country and making President Obama a one-term leader. Karger knows he's not a household name and he believes in this concept that many thought was dead and gone in Washington: bipartisanship.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Sad Bullying Story...

This is almost too painful to read. But being that I've been posting about bullying so often these days, I had to post this, too. Here's the link.

Mitchell Wilson Suicide: Disabled Boy's Death Raises Bullying Concerns
The Huffington Post Canada Ron Nurwisah First Posted: 9/29/11 12:47 PM ET Updated: 9/29/11 07:18 PM ET

The death of an 11-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy months after his assault by a bully has shined a spotlight on bullying in Canada's schools.

Muscular dystrophy left Mitchell Wilson struggling to do simple things like walking around the block or climbing stairs. He also had to use a walker at school. Doctors had urged him to exercise regularly to stave off the disease's effects, something that was growing increasingly difficult for the boy.

Wilson was mugged last November by a 12-year-old boy from his school. The assailant was after the iPhone Wilson borrowed from his dad. The bully was arrested and removed from the Pickering, Ont. school they both attended.

"He was never the same," said Craig Wilson to the Toronto Star, the boy's father and the one who found the boy's body in his room with a plastic bag tied around his head earlier this month.

Things didn't get any better for the young Mitchell as the court date loomed. And the bullying didn't stop.

"Subsequent to the beating that he took, he just lost that spark you see in a kid's eye. He had huge anxiety attacks about going outside and going for his walks and going to school by himself," Craig Wilson told CTV's Canada AM.

“At the cottage in July, he said, ‘If I have to go back to that school, I’ll kill myself,’” the boy's grandmother, Pam Wilson, told the National Post.

"He was very afraid, very fearful that he was going to run into this kid again," Mitchell's father told the CBC.

Wilson's death has raised fears that justice will not be served. The Crown initially feared that their case would have to be dropped because Wilson was unable to testify against his accused. But now the Crown has sought to delay a case while they prepare a written affidavit of a statement the boy made before his death. The case is now set for Nov. 21.

The alleged assailant cannot be identified due to his age but the Wilson family hopes that the alleged bully can atone for his crimes.

“He’s a lost kid. He hasn’t been loved, hasn’t been cared for. We don’t want to be a lynch squad. We want him to do community work with disabled people. All we are trying to do is help this kid understand that his life is going to be zip if he keeps on the road he is on,” Mitchell's grandmother told the National Post.

Wilson's father hopes that his son's death can save some lives in the long run. "I can’t do anything for my child anymore,” he said to the Toronto Sun. “So let’s hopefully save some other people’s children so they don’t have to go through this mess.”

Are you in crisis? Need help? Find links and numbers to 24-hour suicide crisis lines in your province here.

In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Something Scary About Facebook...

At least I think this is scary, especially the part about who I've "friended" and "unfriended." Although, come to think of it, I don't think I have anything to be ashamed of. I'd probably "unfriend" the same people in person, and politely explain why I did it. It's almost always been because they posted too much about either politics or religion. In one case, and one case alone, it's because another author dissed me on a comment thread. (I'd be happy to tell her to her face, too :)

I've seen a lot of people getting excited about facebook changes. And don't get me wrong, because I do enjoy social media, I can't complain too much. I'm usually right there in the middle of it. But I also think social media leaves a lot to be desired. You. Can't. Be. Too. Careful.

And it's why I'm always telling people to watch out what they put on facebook...and all social media...because once it's out there on the interwebs it's there forever!! When you read the part below about private messages and chats, you'll see what I mean. Once again, I've always been careful in this regard. I turned off private chats years ago, and I'd be happy to show my personal messages to the Pope. I know the power of the written word and I know the meaning of the word privacy.

I just wonder if everyone understands the magnitude of this. I've seen a few things on social networks I wouldn't have put out there in public.

A List of Creepy Things Facebook Will Remember Forever

Delete all you want, but Facebook never forgets. At least when it comes to your defriendings, pokes, and RSVPS, it doesn't. And it also has a keen memory for what computers you've used, and who you were sharing those computers with. Your Facebook dossier can easily run to hundreds of pages, as some European citizens have learned.
Across the pond, where regulators have teeth and where corporations don't get to rewrite the legal definition of "privacy," citizens can force Facebook to send them a dossier of everything it knows about them. Two anonymous Europeans have shared their database dumps publicly, Forbes reports. One of them ran to 880 pages.

For a user who joined the site in 2007, dubbed "LB" by Forbes, Facebook's data included the following:

Records of all friend requests LB rejected.
Records of the 12+ friends LB has unfriended over the years.
A list of devices from which LB logged in to Facebook, plus a list of other users on those machines. Meaning Facebook knows who spent the night at your place last night.
Records of more than 50 incoming "pokes" since 2008, including most often by a friend named "T.V."
Some 75 event invites, along with 38 RSVPs.
A history of messages and chats.
Facebook really does have us all by the nuts. Which is why it's comforting that the company routinely acts in the best interest of its users and their privacy, even when it means sacrificing revenue. Yay Facebook!

This Sure Takes Me Back!

AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania

While we're still waiting to see what Lady Gaga is going to do about bullying and talking to the President, I figured I'd post about the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania again. I've posted about them before, here. And I've worked closely with them first hand while helping a good friend with HIV/AIDS fight to have his long term disability reinstated.

I've learned that in order to get something done you have to be aggressive and proactive. And organizations like this are very helpful when it comes to getting things done. I honestly can't praise them enough.

Below is what I've taken from their homepage. Here's the link for more information.

About the AIDS Law Project
of Pennsylvania
People with HIV and AIDS may need a lawyer as much as a doctor. In fact, they sometimes need a lawyer just to get a doctor. More than three decades after the onset of the HIV epidemic, stigma, bureaucracy and ignorance still cause serious legal problems for people with HIV/AIDS. But most people with HIV/AIDS can’t afford a lawyer.

Founded in 1988, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic. We also educate the public about AIDS-related legal issues, train case management professionals to become better advocates for their HIV-positive clients, and work at local, state and national levels to achieve fair laws & policies.

We serve the entire Commonwealth from our home base in Philadelphia and are committed to breaking the physical and linguistic barriers that often impede access to legal services. We make home and hospital visits to clients too ill to travel to our offices. Our bilingual staff serves our clients in the language they feel most comfortable speaking.

For almost 23 years, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania has been fighting for the rights of Pennsylvanians living with HIV/AIDS. Please contact us if you would like more information or are in need of our services.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What About Gay Divorce in New York?

I'm finishing up a new m/m romance where there are several gay weddings and they all take place in New York.

There's also a gay divorce in the book and I wanted to read up about how that's being handled in New York. And being that straight divorce is handled differently from state to state...I know this because my younger brother went through a nasty divorce a year ago from his evil ex where he had to fight for 50% custody of his kids...I figured it can't be any different for gay couples.

I found out gay couples have been getting "divorced" in NY since 2008, which is long before they were allowed to legally marry.

I also found out it gets complicated when kids are involved. And, as far as I can tell, unless there's something I've missed, the courts are handling this case by case because there's no actual law in place at this time.

So far, this is one thing I found:

(Reuters) - As New York's same-sex couples head to the altar to celebrate their newly won right to marry, they can take comfort in the fact that, if it doesn't work out, their right to get divorced in the state just got a lot easier as well.

State senators on Friday voted 33-29 to approve marriage equality legislation introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat in his first year of office. New York will become the sixth and most populous U.S. state to allow gay marriage.

"One of the so-called benefits to marriage is actually divorce," said Ruthann Robson, professor of law at the City University of New York. "If same-sex marriage is recognized, same-sex divorce would be recognized too."

In fact, same-sex divorce was first recognized in New York in 2008, when an appeals court found that a same-sex marriage performed in Canada could be legally recognized in New York for the purposes of dissolving the union.

But without a formal law on the books, same-sex divorce in the state has proceeded on a case-by-case basis, creating some degree of uncertainty for same-sex couples looking to undo their unions, said Bettina Hindin, an attorney at Raoul Felder and Partners, who has represented same-sex couples in New York divorce proceedings.

Since same-sex marriages are now legally equivalent to heterosexual unions, same-sex couples' right to divorce will be rooted in New York's Domestic Relations Law, rather than cobbled together out of court rulings and individual judges' decisions, according to Hindin.

"A lot of things are going to be easier" with legalized same-sex marriage, Hindin said. "It's still somewhat out of the ordinary; this will make things far more ordinary."


If same-sex couples married in New York leave the state, however, they may run into trouble getting a divorce, especially if they end up in one of the 30 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, said Susan Sommer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, which advocates for gay rights.

In some states, such as Wyoming, courts have found a right to divorce even absent the right to marry. In other jurisdictions that don't recognize same-sex marriages, such as Texas, attempts at same-sex divorce have yielded mixed results.

In 2010, two trial courts in Austin and Dallas granted two separate gay couples' petitions for divorce. The Austin appeals court upheld the ruling on appeal, while the Dallas appeals court did not, ruling that the courts lacked authority to issue divorces for same-sex couples. Both cases are currently pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

"It can be a real bind for people, trapped in this legal limbo," Sommer said.

Still, same-sex relationships are no more susceptible to divorce than their heterosexual counterparts, Sommer added. According to a 2008 report from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, annual same-sex marriage divorce rates were about 2 percent, nearly identical to the rate for opposite-sex marriage.

"People go into their marriages expecting everything to work out, and for the majority of people that's the case," Sommer said. "But stuff happens."

One issue that remains unresolved by the same-sex marriage vote is child custody, where one partner is a biological parent but the other has failed to adopt the child.

"Money is easy," Hindin said. "It's the children, the truly emotional piece of the relationship, that will be coming to the forefront and have to be dealt with by statute."

Follow Up: Lady Gaga and Jamey Rodemeyer

This is one of those things where I can be a pit bull. When I see something that needs changing, it's hard for me not to sink my teeth into it. It's even harder to let go.

So I'm following up on Lady Gaga's recent attempts to speak with the President about bullying. One of the few things I could find on the interwebs was this article below.

Pop star Lady Gaga attended a political fundraiser for President Barack Obama in Silicon Valley Sunday evening.

The $35,800-a-person event for about 70 people was hosted under a tent in the yard of Cheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Gaga tweeted to her millions of followers last week that she planned to meet with the president to discuss "how to stop bullying" after a teen took his life. It wasn't clear if they they talked at the fundraiser.

You can read more here.

I'm curious to see where all this goes. Did she meet with the President? If not, will she meet with him? What's next?

Monday, September 26, 2011

What is a CSR Book Review?

I've talked about DNF book reviews. Although I don't like them, I actually did write one a couple of months ago. And I hope it's the last one I ever have to write. I'll post about that one day.

But not today. I'd like to write about CSR reviews. Yesterday I started a new book, A Redbird Christmas: A Novel, by Fannie Flagg, and I couldn't stop reading.

This doesn't happen to me often, especially when I start a new book. I need to get past the first thirty pages before I really get into it. But this time it was like magic, and I couldn't stop reading.

Book reviews can be tricky little things at best. I'm sure there are people who've read this same book and would have considered it a DNF...there are always one or two wing nuts. But those people obviously weren't moved by the way one character saved the little bird. They weren't moved by the way this character watched this bird fight so hard to live.

And I'm not even a huge bird fan. I couldn't tell you one bird from another. But I know this feeling well. I once watched a human being fight just as hard to live. I've never seen anything like it before and I doubt there's much to come in the future that will top the experience.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Catching Up: Goodreads

I just noticed I have over 200 messages on Goodreads.

I wish I could say that I go to goodreads all the time. But I just don't have time I wish I had to do this. I went over there tonight to leave a rating for a book I just finished and when I signed in I saw the notifications.

So if I don't get back for a while, and you sent something important, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. My e-mail is listed here on the blog, and checking e-mail is an ongoing process for me.

Speaking Of Labels...

I saw this on facebook and wanted to post it here for a reason.

Now that DADT has been repealed I'd like to think that we're going to see a completely new section of interesting people emerging, without fear.

Google +, I'm Here

I just started google+ and I'm liking it a lot. We'll see how it goes. I'm already part of too much social media as it is. But I couldn't resist giving it a shot.

If you're there, too, here's a link to where I am:

Pen America: A Global Literary Community

This is one of those interweb communities I think is important for all fiction writers to check out.

Not only does it take you a step beyond amateur publishing bloggers who often hand out misguided advice (personal opinion that means very little)...or advice that never quite manages to go beyond their limited knowledge...there's also a sense of professionalism associated with this community that will change the way you think about fiction.

You can look over the web site here.

Even if you don't write mainstream/literary fiction, it will help in a broad sense.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Interesting: Pope Comments on Gay Marriage

I don't usually comment on these things. I just post them.

But considering that I know for a fact that there are more than one, two, or even three gay priests, I do find this interesting.

I would like to think that The Pope would be more focused on straightening out the problems within his own church instead of bashing the world. Especially with all the Catholic churches closing down in the US and so many good people leaving the church to practice their faith elsewhere. If you read the article, you'll see there are more people leaving the church in Germany, too. I didn't know this.

Things like this just fall under the category of "I don't get this and I'm tired of trying."

Catholics cannot accept gay marriage, pope says
24 Sep 2011 19:05

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Pope visits mostly Catholic Freiburg on last leg of tour

* Says dictatorships were "acid rain" for faith

* Incident as man shoots air gun to protest tight security (Updates with youth rally, meeting with Orthodox)

By Philip Pullella and Sarah Marsh

FREIBURG, Germany, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Saturday the Catholic Church could not accept gay marriage and urged young people to root out evil in society and shun a "lukewarm" faith that damages their Church.

The 84-year-old pope ended the third day in his homeland with a rally for more about 30,000 young people at a fairground outside the southern city of Freiburg, a Catholic area where he received the warmest welcome of his trip so far.

"The world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better," he told the young people. "There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression."

He urged them to root out all forms of evil in society and not to be "lukewarm Christians," saying that lack of commitment to faith did more damage to their Church than its sworn enemies.

Young people in the crowd cheered as he spoke.

"The Church is shown very negatively in the media these days so it is important for us young people to see we can also be proud of the Church, and the Church itself is not bad even if some people have let it down," said Kathrin Doerr, 26, who attended the youth rally.

Earlier, at a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders, Benedict spoke out against abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.

"We as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation," he said.


On the penultimate day of his trip, the pope straddled his homeland's religious and geographical divisions, praising the faithful for enduring communism's "acid rain" effect in former East Germany and then addressing cheering Catholic crowds in the west.

At a mass in the medieval main square during a subdued visit to the city of Erfurt, where only about seven percent of the people are Catholic, he praised eastern Germans who stayed loyal to the Church during oppressive years under Nazism and communism.

"You have had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain," he told the crowd from the altar, set against a hill dominated by Erfurt's cathedral and another Catholic church.

About two hours before the morning mass in Erfurt, a man fired an air gun at security staff at an Erfurt checkpoint in an apparent protest against the strict crowd-control measures, police said. The Vatican said the pope was never in any danger.

Benedict held a surprise meeting on Friday evening in Erfurt with victims of sexual abuse by priests. Church officials said on Saturday there were three men and two women present, chosen from many victims around Germany who had asked to meet the pope.

"The atmosphere of the meeting was rather relaxed," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told a news conference. "It was very important that the Pope expressed he shares in the pain the victims suffered and that the Church will do everything to prevent that happening again in the future."

About 700 Germans have filed for compensation for abuse by priests and other Church personnel. A record 181,000 Germans left the Church last year, many in protest at the abuse scandal. (Writing by Philip Pullella and Tom Heneghan; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Friday, September 23, 2011


I've been on facebook since it first began. I think that's like six or seven years now. I heard about this thing called facebook from a friend in CA, and figured I'd try it out.

I thought it was simple. I liked it. I started connecting with old friends and started making knew ones. I was always careful to manage the privacy settings. And I'm not much of a photographer so I rarely posted anything other than book covers.

But this new change in facebook is astounding. I'm getting e-mail notifications from status updates I never commented on or clicked "like." And I'm not getting notifications from those on which I did comment and click "like."

I'm not getting notifications about private messages, and I depend on these notifications because I connect with a lot of readers through private messages. I actually always preferred this to e-mails. For some reason it's easier.

So until I figure out what's going on over at facebook, don't take it personally if it takes me a little longer to get back with private messages. I'm now just checking the messages twice daily, where I used to just see the e-mail, click on the thread, and answer right away.

I'm also over at google+ now, too. But, frankly, it's just as complicated as facebook and I don't really have the time to sit and figure it out. I don't even know how to connect with people over there yet. I did figure out a way to "drag" names and add them to friend circles. But that's about it.

Online Resources To Help Gay Teens In Crisis...

One of the wonderful things about the Internet can be put into one word: INFORMATION.

Another word is ANONYMITY.

So I'm linking to several resources for gay teens in crisis. I don't know how helpful these things are, but at least it's something with which to begin.

When we all say things like, "It gets better," we aren't just blowing smoke up your asses. But it doesn't always happen fast. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton from the last election, "The skies aren't going to open and celestial choirs aren't going to sing."

In order for it to get better you have to work through a lot of shit first. I don't know any gay adult who hasn't had to do this. Unfortunately, that's just life.

Suicide & Crisis Hotlines

Life-Saving Resources
Too many young people have taken their lives because of anti-gay bullying.

The Trevor Project: Help for Suicidal Gay Teens

Point Foundation provides financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Resources for LGBTQ Youth

These are just a handful. There are others.

And reading helps, too. Even if you start with some of the older gay classics, like THE FRONT RUNNER, or GIOVANNI'S ROOM, you'll gain more of an insight about what it really is to be gay. I know those of you living in small towns all over America right now only know what you've seen and heard in the mainstream. And that's not much information to go on. In fact, most of the gay men and women I know are nothing like the images portrayed by the mainstream. And this crisis with gay teens isn't something new. And the LGBT community has been working on it for a long time, especially with fiction. And sometimes all it takes is just one book to change your entire life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lady Gaga Speaks Out Against Hate...And Why Did Billie Joe Jump Off the Tallahatchie Bridge?

I posted about Jamey Rodemeyer here earlier this week.

And I heard today that Lady Gaga is now speaking out against hate and she sounds like she means business.

Here's a link to the article.

Just so you know, folks. This isn't something new, this thing where gay people commit suicide because they're being bullied or they can't accept who they are, or they feel trapped and alone. It's not a trend and it's not the issue of the day trending on twitter and facebook. I grew up in a small town and I remember a very effeminate gay teenager who wound up shooting himself for reasons that were never disclosed. I can remember other incidents like this, too. I was one of the luckier ones. No one knew I was gay until I decided to come out on my own terms. But it's not like that for all gay people.

And now we're finally seeing it for what it is. Being a gay YA shouldn't have anything to do with luck. And we're not willing to sit back and take the abuse anymore. I believe changing this begins with one person and grows in magnitude. And if we can get to one person, like Jamey Rodemeyer, and show him that it does, indeed, get better, we're on our way to conquering a great deal.

Why did Billie Joe jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge?

Questions arose among the listeners: what did Billie Joe and his girlfriend throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and why did Billie Joe commit suicide? Speculation ran rampant after the song hit the airwaves, and Gentry said in a November 1967 interview that it was the question most asked of her by everyone she met. She named flowers, a ring, a draft card, a bottle of LSD pills, and an aborted baby as the most often guessed items. Although she knew definitely what the item was, she wouldn't reveal it, saying only "Suppose it was a wedding ring." "It's in there for two reasons," she said. "First, it locks up a definite relationship between Billie Joe and the girl telling the story, the girl at the table. Second, the fact that Billie Joe was seen throwing something off the bridge -- no matter what it was -- provides a possible motivation as to why he jumped off the bridge the next day."[3]

And I found this, here:

One night at a party, however, McAllister gets drunk. In his inebriated state, he makes love to another man dressed in drag, though later he reveals he knew what he was doing.

This is all speculation about Billie Joe. We'll probably never know the real answer as to why Billie Joe committed suicide. But I do know that a lot of young gay people have been committing suicide for many years and it's always been covered up because of fear and hate. And it's time that stopped.

All those "things" you hear in your small town, and the anxiety you have about being gay right now will change in time. Your minister, priest, rabbi, or whatever might think they know better, but they really don't. They only think they do. Talk to someone who knows about being gay. It really does get just have to believe this.

Make A Poem With MM Romance...

There's been a contest going on over at Janet Reid's blog. It looks like fun and if I had the time I'd be doing it myself. But with three deadlines looming and a new historical novella coming out soon, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE, I'm lucky if I have time to read a book let alone stack them into a pile and create a poem.

But I do think it would be interesting to see what would happen if someone else decided to create a poem with a stack of MM romance novels. I posted the link to Janet's blog above to show exactly what this is all about. And I'd love to see someone do this. There's no time frame at all and you can work on it for the next year for all I care. You can do it anonymously, too. If you want to use your own books and use this as a promotional tool, please feel free. I love to see a creative author take advantage of every opportunity out there. And I'm always more than willing to help.

I only ask that you keep it pg rated. I keep this blog pg rated and we all know I'm no prude. I'd just rather censor myself than have someone else do it.

And, if you want to do this on your own blogs, please feel free to send me any links. Considering some of the interesting titles in MM Romance these days, I think there are a million possibilities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Pen Name?

I was recently asked by three different people if I use a pen name for m/m fiction.

I was a little surprised. Evidently, some people have been under the impression I do use one or two pen names for m/m fiction.

This is absolutely false. I have never used a pen name for m/m fiction and I don't see that happening anywhere in the near future. So if you think you're buying something I wrote and you think it's something I published under a pen name, you're mistaken.

I have used pen names when I've hopped genres. I've used the pen name R. Field for a short story I wrote for that has a m/f storyline. I've used several other pen names that are less obvious for other sub-genres I've written in. I used to use pen names and I can't even remember some of them. That goes back so many years we're talking about print books that are probably out of print by now anyway.

But I have never used a pen name for m/m fiction. Honest!

I probably should be using a pen name for my new historical romance release, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE. But I decided I'd wing it with my own name and see what happens.

Planning Ahead For Virgin Billionaire: Amnesia In Germany

I have a new release coming out soon titled, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE'S HOT AMISH ESCAPADE.

But the original title was The Virgin Billionaire: Amnesia. We changed it because we thought it was boring.

In this next book in the VB series, Jase, the virgin billionaire, gets amnesia and they wind up trapped in the woods in Amish a town with a dark secret, surrounded by very strange people.

Part of the reason I wrote the book this way is because I'm tired of watching horror flicks where the cute guys always wind up dying first and the dizzy women survive. I wanted one story along these lines where the cute guys live and the women die. If that sounds petty, I'm guilty.

But more than that, I was a little worried about the amnesia part. I did research it and I do know it happens.

And this link and the article below fascinates me now.

Unidentified teenage boy emerges from forest
Posted by David Pescovitz on Monday, Sep 19th at 9:32am
A mysterious young fellow named Ray, around 17-years-old, walked out of a German forest last week and told authorities he and his dad, who had just died, had been living in the wild for about five years. But that's all Ray remembers about his life. He told youth workers that his father, whom he called Ryan, had died two weeks ago and he had buried him in a shallow grave covered with stones. The boy then walked north, following instructions his father had given him should anything happen to him.
The pair's odyssey started after his mother, who he said was named Doreen, died. He says that he and his father never set up home but kept moving, staying in tents and huts in the woods.

It is not clear what they ate or how they survived the often harsh German winters. "He doesn't show any signs of abuse and he is in good shape physically and psychologically," (Berlin police spokesperson Michael) MaaƟ said.

Review: The Bachelor

I almost always hesitate to post my own reviews here on the blog. It's one of those things a lot of authors hate to do, but know they have to do it.

So I'm going to concentrate on thanking the reviewer, Michele Montgomery, instead of on the actual review. I think this particular review site is one of the most helpful tools for all readers of mm fiction. I've been watching it and following it for along time and it's constantly evolving. When I have a question about a book a want to buy, I check out web sites like this for more information.

I know how hard it is to keep a blog going and work on my own writing deadlines, and I can't even imagine the kind of work that goes into maintaining a book review site.

Here's the link...please check out the entire site. You'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It Gets Better, I promise! by Jamey Rodemeyer

For those who don't know, Jamey Rodemeyer died at his own hand on Sunday after many years of being bullied because of who he is and what he believed was his own personal truth.

Here's a piece at the Huffington Post to read the full story in detail.

RIP, Jamey. We're trying to make it better. We really are.

Please Don't Call Me Queer!!

Last week there was a slight kerfuffle between LGBT YA authors and a literary agent. I'm not going to link to that because it has nothing to do with this post.

But that misunderstanding brought something to my attention that I hadn't seen before. Evidently, it's becoming popular to add a "Q" to the end of LGBT...making it LGBTQ.

I'm gay. I write gay fiction and have been for twenty years. No one told me about the "Q."

The "Q" means "queer," or "questioning." At least that's what I've been told. I'm fine with the "questioning" part. But I'm not so sure about the "queer" part.

Of course I know there are gay people who want to refer to themselves as "queer." And they want to be referred to as "queer" by other people. And that's fine for them. Have fun. I just want to make it clear that I'd prefer not to be called "queer" by anyone at any time.

The "Q" word to me is what the "N" word is to some African Americans. It's degrading, denigrating, and insulting. It's hateful at best and hurtful at its worst. It causes pain no matter how you look at it. It makes young gay people living in small towns cringe and recoil. And being a writer, I know how strong words can be.

What prompted me to write this post is that I saw a status update on facebook written by someone of African descent who was stuck in traffic and someone viciously shouted the "N" word to him/her. I'm posting this anonymously, verbatim. But it was posted in a public forum, on facebook, so the person in question must have wanted it known.

This was the status update: "Small town life: Someone just called me a nig!?$ in traffic. I feel racism is a form of mental degeneration. Breath, and onward! #Life"

It killed me to see this. I'm a huge fan of this person and I wanted to scream and punch something. But more than that, I felt this person's pain because I know how it feels to be called "fag" or "queer."

So if they want to add a "Q" to the end of LGBT, have a blast. Personally, I'd rather think of the "Q" as "questioning." There's nothing wrong with the word "questioning."

But for those who want to be called "queer," don't call me a "queer." That's already been done before and I'd rather not revisit my reactions.

Don't Ask Don't Tell...

Last night the l993 law, Don't Ask Don't Tell, that's existed since the Clinton administration, was repealed. In short, this law meant that gays could only be in the military if they were in the closet. News organizations tend to lighten the description of this. But I'd rather call it what it is: forcing gays to remain closeted and in a self-loathing state of mind designed to induce fear.

You can read the full article here. And below I've taken out a few important parts and commented so people fully understand what this means and how there are still a few unresolved issues. I'm thrilled about the appeal. But there is still a long way to go.

There also will be no immediate changes to eligibility standards for military benefits. All service members already are entitled to certain benefits and entitlements, such as designating a partner as one's life insurance beneficiary or as designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program.

Gay marriage is one of the thornier issues. An initial move by the Navy earlier this year to train chaplains about same-sex civil unions in states where they are legal was halted after more than five dozen lawmakers objected. The Pentagon is reviewing the issue.

As you can see, this repeal still doesn't grant complete equal rights to gays in the military. If you're a gay couple in the military benefits are just as important to you as they are to straight couples. And, although legalizing same sex marriage in certain states has helped a great deal, gays in the military are still considered second class citizens and the military clearly won't recognize them.

A leading advocate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Monday the repeal is overdue.

"Our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians, and indeed affirm equality for all Americans," the California Democrat said.

The key word in this statement is "a." Because the door was only closed on one fundamental unfairness, not all...especially on a federal level. And while this repeal is certainly something to celebrate. It's by no means time to stop fighting for complete equal rights. And the only way to do this is to let the politicians know it. In the next election our vote will count, so will our contributions. And I've changed the way I vote and contribute in the last four years.

Below is an e-mail I received from a gay friend. I asked his permission to post it here, verbatim, and he granted me that permission. I'm doing it to show how strongly gay people feel about this issue, and also because I doubt the mainstream media will print anything like this. There's also a sense of cynicism here that worries me. And this isn't the only friend I have who feels this way.

Time for celebration? I don't think so, maybe a little, maybe. Here we go again, this will be played up as a victory for gays, especially a political one, but let us NOT forget that we are NOT equal, not even with the repeal of DADT:

"There also will be no immediate changes to eligibility standards for military benefits. All service members already are entitled to certain benefits and entitlements, such as designating a partner as one's life insurance beneficiary or as designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program."

In simple terms, if you want your "partner" to live on a military base...NOPE

If you want your partner to have health benefits.....NOPE

If you want your partner to have counseling ........NOPE

If you want your partner to get education benefits......NOPE

If you want to kiss your partner in public.......NOPE

All we got is being able to say "I'm gay" and assurance you will not get kicked out of the closet.

So, if you are straight in the military, you get everything. Being gay, you only get being a beneficiary to a life insurance policy.

Is it me or is this a "shut-up and go-away"? Gays to the back of the tank.

Go figure.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cover Preview: A Young Widow's Promise

This is the preliminary cover draft for the new historical I've been working on, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE.

I'd like to thank Dawne Dominique, once again, for coming up with something perfect. I sent suggestions that I think drove her a little crazy. Then Dawne added her own special touches and came up with this cover.

And I love it. She nailed it this time, like all the others. If you're an Indie and you're looking for a good cover artist, please check her out here. I can't recommend her enough.

Interview With MM Good Book Reviews...

I did an interview with MM Good Book Reviews last week about hopping genres. It was a topic I've been thinking about for a long time, and when they asked, I figured I'd take advantage of the opportunity. It's especially important to me with a new release I have coming out titled, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE. Although there is a mm sub-plot, the main characters are m/f...and it's a historical. And it's also very rated and has a very low heat level.

And please check out the rest of this web site, MM Good Book Reviews, not just my interview. If you like, you can even skip my interview and check out the rest of the site and I'll be okay with it. I think these people are doing an excellent job with the entire site. And you can see there's a strong passion behind their hard work.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Historical Research: Writer's Digest

I read this at Writer's Digest...a place all writers should check out...and since I've been talking about my new release, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE, which is a historical, I figured I'd share.

As I've stated many times, I don't do historicals often. I prefer pop culture and usually stick with that sub-genre across the board. But this particular historical kept hounding me and I knew I wouldn't rest until I got it out of my head.

But it wasn't easy. A lot of the research I did was from personal knowledge. I grew up not far from where the novella is set and most of the facts were things I'd known all my life. But I did have to fact check many things I didn't know.

There were several scenes where the young widow served cold iced tea. But that was a small-huge mistake on my part. I discovered iced tea wasn't served, at least not officially, until much later. So she started serving cold well water instead. I also had to do a lot of research on old fashioned health remedies. This was more open; every family had their own remedies. But it wasn't easy to research a lot of the ingredients used.

But the most difficult part about writing a historical, as far as I'm concerned, is that history isn't always repeated with complete accuracy. And you find yourself fact checking until you can't see straight. And even then, you're not completely certain it's right.

The article below helps. I wish I'd read it before I submitted my book because it would have made things a little easier for me. But, at least from what I can see, I got it right so far. It came from this web page.

Man, I flat love good historical fiction. When it’s done right, it’s like taking a magical vacation to a different time, another land. Whether it’s Victorian London, the Australian Outback, or the American West, quality historical fiction has the ability to bring a story to life in ways nonfiction never will. But no doubt about it, if you want to write good historical fiction, you’re going to have to research.

Michael is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before.

Guest column by Michael Zimmer, author of THE LONG HITCH,
a Five Star Western (August 2011), as well as seven other Western
and historical fiction novels. Publishers Weekly called THE LONG HITCH,
“…a clever story that packs some nice twists. Best, however, is Zimmer’s
carefully drawn, historically accurate portrayal of the characters…”
Visit Michael’s author website here.


That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re already fascinated with a certain era, and it can be a lot of fun, but good research requires vigilance. No matter how knowledgeable you may be on a certain subject, in all likelihood your story is going to include a large cast of young and old, male and female, saint and sinner – individuals who will stray regularly outside your field of expertise. Which means, whether your character is a blacksmith, a shopkeeper, a detective, or a college professor, it’s going to be up to you to gain at least a working knowledge of their respective fields so that they can be accurately portrayed. That rings doubly true if your readers are also familiar with the subject. It’s an unfortunate fact of fiction that nothing distracts from a story quite so glaringly as a plot filled with simple mistakes.


At the same time, nothing nudges a story above the norm like those tiny little gems of details that add vividness to the scene. Most readers can probably already guess that a general store in 1910 Alabama might have a pickle barrel, or an old hound or two dozing in the shade under the front porch. But describe a just-beginning-to-rust stamped tin ceiling, or the clattery sound of a crank-handled cash register closing a sale, and you’ve added a spot of unexpected color to what might otherwise have been an old, familiar black and white portrait in a reader’s mind.


Sometimes, even what seems obvious can be incorrect. Want to give a wagon train scout an 1873 Colt Peacemaker on his journey to the Montana gold fields? The odds are that if you date your story any earlier than 1875 or ’76, you’re going to be perpetuating a myth already heavily solidified by decades of Hollywood films that would have you believe the only firearms that existed at any time in the Old West were .45 Colts and Winchester rifles. In case you’re curious, the 1873 Colt was first produced for military contract, and wasn’t offered to the civilian market until nearly two years after its 1873 debut. Similar discrepancies exist for a wide variety of other patented applications in which the familiar date and the actually year of production can differ greatly.

Other fallacies that have crept into the collective conscious? A stagecoach pulled by horses is certainly possible, especially in the East, but west of the Mississippi, a hitch of sturdy Missouri mules would more likely be correct — although there are maddening exceptions to to just about every rule. How about having your hero or heroine exit an 1850s hotel, race down the steps, and enter a car? Actually, you’d probably be okay. The term car, a shortened version of carriage, has showed up at least as early as the 1840s. On the flip side of that, hailing a “cab” can be dated even earlier. A cab is a shortened form of the word cabriolet, a type of horse-drawn carriage popular in 19th century Europe. But be careful. The word “taxi,” from the French taximetre, doesn’t seem to have come into vogue until late in the 19th century.


These tidbits of information and insight into the past, if interwoven carefully into the plot so as to not distract from the flow of the narrative, can set a novel apart from its competitors – always a good thing when you’re looking for an agent. But finding this information can be painfully difficult. Nonfiction sources are always your safest bet. No matter how highly regarded a fiction writer is for his or her attention to detail, it’s never a good idea to count on him or her for total historical accuracy. The very nature of the game – fiction — dictates that we all have to nudge the facts occasionally. The one possible exception I can think of might be Margaret Mitchell, who is credited with having one of the most historically accurate novels ever written in Gone With the Wind. But GWTW took years to research and write, and not many of us have that kind of time to devote to a single story.

Even first-person reminiscences and journals should be viewed with suspicion. Recollections written too long after the fact are prone to memory lapses, and journals can reflect a person’s prejudices as much as the subject matter. On the other hand, some things can’t be found anywhere else. The price of a peck of corn in Cincinnati in 1890 will have more than one source … somewhere. What a person thinks about the cost of that corn probably won’t.

Analytical reviews on just about any subject (including the price of corn in Cincinnati) aren’t difficult to find, even if they can be a little mind-numbing to get through. University Presses are great sources for this kind of information, although it’s important that an author who wants to portray a historically correct perspective be aware that the biases that can slant a period journal can also exist in academic writing. There’s a reason they call it Revisionist History, and it doesn’t have anything to do with fresh information coming to light. Is there anything wrong with that? Maybe, maybe not, but it would be inaccurate, not to mention a discredit to both the past and your story, to base a historical character’s views solely upon modern-day revisionist theories.

As much as possible, facts should be checked, then double-checked. I wince every time I find a mistake in one of my earlier novels, then I wince again when I think of the mistakes I’ve yet to discover — not to mention all those waiting to be made. But it happens, and I guess about all any of us can do is to keep on trying our best, and hope that our efforts are recognized, and appreciated, by our readers

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck to all of us!

Michael is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within one week; you MUST leave your e-mail in the comment somewhere or else we will not be able to contact you; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Young Widow's Promise: Book Description

I just finished the book description for the new civil war romance, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE.

This is raw; the unedited version. But I wanted to see how it looked in print before we made any changes.

Felecia Roundtree is thirty-seven years old, she's already lost her husband in battle, and prays each morning her two young sons live to see another day. With her own two hands, she's turned the front of her property at remote Locust Point, NJ, into a burial ground for unknown Confederate prisoners of war, hoping someone will return a kind gesture to her own loved ones. Then one morning in August, just after she has a vision of her dead husband, three Confederate prisoners of war turn up at her doorstep begging for mercy. One is near death; the other two aren’t much better. Though she's reluctant at first to help the enemy, she offers them food and shelter, and then eventually begins the romance of her lifetime with a young Confederate named Calvin. When she learns a deep dark secret about the other two Confederates, she’s not sure what to think. Felecia has no idea she's even falling in love. Nor does she realize she’s preserving an important part of American History. But she’s true to her promise every step of the way.

Finns Point National Cemetery: A Young Widow's Promise

I've heard it said around the interwebs authors aren't supposed to talk about their the sense they aren't supposed to explain themselves, or their books, and readers are supposed to get what they are trying to do through the reading experience.

I get that. I tend to agree with it. But sometimes authors have to explain certain things about the book so readers will get the full concept of what they are buying. Especially if the author is known for writing in one sub-genre and the author is crossing over into another.

I'm not talking about content and storyline. That should be up to the reader to judge. What I'm talking about are things like sub-genre and heat level. I try to get all this into the book description when I submit to a publisher. But it doesn't always work out quite the way I wanted it to work and I try to add more information here on my blog so there are no misconceptions.

I have a new release coming out soon. It's a novella that's titled, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE, and it's a historical romance. I don't write historicals often. I don't read them often. When I do, they are usually civil war historicals. And this time, A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE, is not (I repeat, not) highly erotic. There are a few steamy love scenes. But they are extremely tame and the story revolves more around love and the main character's emotions than her sex drive. And though I will try hard to get this into the book description, I might be explaining it here for a while. The book just went to edits and we'll be going through many rounds before it's ready to be published. And I've already edited it about 100 times myself, checking for historical accuracy and believability. Yes, it's fiction, but it has to be believable, too. And I think this story could have happened.

I could have used a pen name with this novella. The main characters in A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE are straight. And I'm known for writing highly erotic m/m books. But there is a m/m sub-plot, with an interesting twist because the book is set during the civil war. And the main reason I didn't use a pen name is because I just don't like doing it. I realize I may be shooting myself in the foot. But I'm willing to take that chance in order to keep it real. I always write because I love the story I'm writing, not because I'm thinking about how much money the book will make or many books I'll sell. (I think I just heard a publisher scream.)

A YOUNG WIDOW'S PROMISE is a story that's set in a quirky place called Locust Point, NJ. This is fictional. But it's not far from real places that have been noted in history with regards to the civil war, like Finns Point, NJ, and Fort Delaware. I know these places well, Ft. Delaware and Finns Point and Fort Mott, because I grew up not far from them in Salem County, NJ. And this story has been in the back of my mind for a long time...since I started jogging at Finns Point almost 20 years ago...and I finally decided to get it out there.

I will post more, in detail, especially about Fort Delaware and Finns Point. The most interesting thing about Finns Point is that there's a small cemetery there where they buried confederate prisoners of war in unmarked graves. They came from Fort Delaware. I've seen these graves many times in person. And the history behind them fascinates me, and always makes me a little sad. And, frankly, I'm also explaining all this in such detail because I want the historical police to know this isn't just a whim and I didn't make it all up. Especially those who shall remain nameless, and don't even live in the US or know a thing about real US history.

If you live in the surrounding area and haven't been to Fort Delaware, Finn's Point, or Fort Mott, it's an interesting day trip. And only about 100 miles from New York. All of quiet Salem County is rich with history and there are plenty of things to see.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sit Back and Enjoy Something Nice

And it has nothing to do with erotica or happy endings. I came across a nice author blog the other day.

Here's the link.

Check out all the posts on this blog. And, as far as blogs go, it's very well done. Simple to navigate and the posts are never too long...which I'm working on getting right sooner or later.

People prefer short blogs posts. And I've heard that if you take up more than half the page, you lose them fast.

New E-Book Web Site: E-Book Eros

I don't know much about this site because it's so new. But it sounds and looks interesting from what I've seen so far.

It's called E-book Eros: Burlesque for the Brain. I know a lot of the romance crowd isn't going to like this. But I think there's room for everyone. And it's all a matter of perception anyway.

So check out this new e-book site. You have to admit "Burlesque for the Brain," is extremely clever.

Some of My Favorite M/M Authors...

I don't like to review other books on this blog. But once in a while I like to mention a few M/M authors I like to read.

One of them is GA Hauser. Here's a link to Amazon. I think she nails it in every respect. And though her style and content is very different from what I do, I love the fact that she takes me away from my own world. Isn't that what fiction is all about anyway?

I also like Michele Montgomery. Here's her link. Michele has a unique voice and a unique approach when it comes to m/m fiction-romance, and I find her characters to be extremely emotional and deep. I also think she takes chances a lot of authors might not take. And I've never been disappointed when I'm finished reading one of her stories.

Another is Jeff Erno. I think he writes from the heart. And that should be enough for anyone to like his books. Here's his link.

There are a lot of others I'll mention in the future. But last and certainly not least is Rebecca Leigh. She writes everything, from m/m to f/f. I think she has a bold style and she knows how to draw the reader into the story. I've been in a couple of anothologies with her and I've enjoyed her work so much I've checked out other things she's written. Here's her link.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So They Added a "Q" to the End of LGBT?

At least that's what I just read in three different places today.

The "Q" means "queer/questioning," which I'm not so sure I like. For me, the word "queer," like the word "fag," is a lot like the "N" word is to people of African Descent.

And no one told me about this new "Q", and I'm the "G" in LGBTQ.

From what I gather after I tweeted and did a status update on FB, no one told a lot of LGBT people.

We should know these things first. So if there are anymore letters added to LGBTQ, we want to know about it first.

Frankly, I'm not certain I'm going to use the "Q." I can live with "questioning," but I'm not sold on the "queer" part yet.

Gay Weddings on Long Island...

I've begun a new novel that deals with gay weddings in a different way than I've written about them before. This novel takes place in NY, after gay marriage was legalized. This, to me, even though same sex marriage is not federally recognized, makes all the difference in the world. And I don't even live in NY.

I've been invited to more than a few gay weddings in NY myself so far. I've heard there are many more coming up, too. It's fun, even though it can be expensive. So I decided to write about some of these weddings...strictly fiction...and I've been doing a little research while I'm at it.

This looks like fun:

Lessing's Long Island Gay Wedding

Do Literary Agents Tamper With Gay Characters?

(Update: I read a blog post by literary agent, Kristen Nelson, who also read this same article. I think her post is enlightening. Check it out here.)

I honestly don't know the answer to this. I've never worked with an agent myself. But I do know, and this is first hand not hearsay, gay agents who will not live openly gay lives in New York. I don't know why. I've never asked because I never thought it was any of my business. But it's there and I know this for a fact.

The article below is interesting. I find it especially interesting because I've been thinking of querying agents with a mainstream novel that has gay characters. This isn't erotica or erotic romance. And I've been hesitating because I don't want to waste my time querying if agents aren't interested in mainstream gay material. I can self-publish it and probably promote it better that way.

Here's part of the article, and here's a link to the rest. It's worth reading if you're interested in gay fiction of any kind.

Authors Say Agents Try to “Straighten” Gay Characters in YA
Rose Fox -- September 12th, 2011
Editor’s note: The text of this post was written by Rachel Manija Brown, author of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, and Sherwood Smith, author of Crown Duel and a great many other novels for adults and young adults. I am posting it in order to provide a pseudonymity-friendly space for comments from authors who have had similar experiences to the ones that Rachel and Sherwood describe. I strongly encourage all authors, agents, editors, publishers, and readers to contribute to a serious and honest conversation on the value and drawbacks of gatekeeping with regard to minority characters, authors, and readers, and to continue that conversation in all areas of the industry. –Rose

Say Yes To Gay YA

By Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

We are published authors who co-wrote a post-apocalyptic young adult novel. When we set out to find an agent for it, we expected to get some rejections. But we never expected to be offered representation… on the condition that we make a gay character straight, or cut him out altogether.

Our novel, Stranger, has five viewpoint characters; one, Yuki Nakamura, is gay and has a boyfriend. Yuki’s romance, like the heterosexual ones in the novel, involves nothing more explicit than kissing.

An agent from a major agency, one which represents a bestselling YA novel in the same genre as ours, called us.

The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.

Published Author Self-Publishes...An Experiment?

This is interesting on many different levels. But the main focus for me was how I think this author isn't totally getting the concept of digital books...and the people who read them. I get the feeling he's using self-publishing as a vehicle to promote his hardcover/print release. It's more like an experiment than an author taking digital publishing seriously.

I could be wrong. But if I'm not, the author is underestimating people who read digital books. People like me. I don't even consider buying hardcover books anymore. I only buy and read digital. I prefer the digital reading experience. And so far, I've never met anyone who has switched to digital books and said they can't wait to go back to reading print books, especially not after they've spent so much on e-readers. They ain't cheap!! Once you get used to your e-reader and find out how it improves the reading experience, it's almost impossible to go back to print.

And the day I spend a buck per chapter for any e-book is going to be the day I stop reading altogether...or the day a book has no more than ten long chapters.

I applaud what the author is doing. But I can't help wondering how it's going to turn out.

Despite having publishing deals with four major houses, bestselling African-American novelist Omar Tyree is experimenting with technology, self-publishing his latest novel, Corrupted, a feverish portrayal of power and ambition in the book industry, as a serialized Kindle edition e-book, releasing a chapter every week. Since July 15 and each Friday thereafter, Tyree has posted a chapter for readers to download for $1 each on, on his website, or at other e-book retail sites.

If this author had been checking out online retail web sites where e-books are sold, he'd know that most offer entire chapters for free. People who read e-books read more often and shop more often, therefore they want to (expect to) spend less. And I see nothing wrong with publishers and authors making money in volume.

Corrupted examines what Tyree calls “the dark side of the publishing industry,” through the actions of his protagonist Vincent Biddle, a power-drunk African-American editor at a fictitious major New York City publishing house. The novel, he said, was inspired by the way both the current economy and new technology are affecting the publishing world.

This sounds interesting to me. I'd love to read it. I'm dying to read it. But not for a buck a chapter. I'll pass until he lowers the price to at least 9.99 for the entire e-book. For e-books, that's where I personally draw the line. And I think I'm being generous. I know people who draw the line far lower and complain about 9.99.

Hyping the novel as “raw and unedited”—the book has been proofread by Tyree but not yet professionally edited—he invites his readers to post critiques and comments to either his website or his Twitter account @OmarTyree. He said he is open to revising the work if he considers the critiques worthy. He told PW that he expects the book to contain between 23 and 27 chapters.

This worries me. As I've posted before, there are already too many unedited digital books out there filled with poor quality. Do we really need another, and for a buck a chapter?

“Authors with the old traditional contracts can’t make the numbers,” Tyree said referring to sales. “In one day, an editor can be fired and if you were signed by that editor, you get a new editor who does not necessarily understand your work. Here we have a black editor trying to keep his job and move up to become a senior editor, when African American [sales] numbers are not doing well,” he said. “So [the editor’s] African American authors are getting dropped. How is he going to navigate? Editors are in positions of power, but they are scared to death too because if they pick a book that doesn’t fly, they are out the door.”

Again, this sounds fascinating. I'd love to read it. But not at a buck a chapter. I can't help wondering if it's mentioned in the book that so many publishers still don't "get" digital books...or how to price them.

Tyree has published more than 16 books and has book deals with four publishers. But he didn’t believe that Corrupted would have been an easy sell to any of them. “Most of my books are with Simon & Schuster,” Tyree said. “I have a business book with Wiley, two with Urban Books–a subsidiary of Kensington–and Scholastic is printing and distributing 12 Brown Boys,” a short story collection aimed at black pre-teen boys originally published by Just Us Books.

“I didn’t bring [Corrupted] to a publisher because it’s brand new and experimental—it’s my own individual project to connect with my readers,” he said, pointing out also that, “this book does not fit a genre.” Tyree explained that, “If I’m locked into a genre like African-American, or street, or crime, then I have to put certain things in it. A traditional publisher would [look at Corrupted and] warn, ‘Omar, you are getting away from your base!’ But this way, I can connect with a new set of readers.”

This sounds interesting, too. I'd buy it. But lower the price.

Tyree mentioned that another reason he’s self-publishing is that he didn’t come up with the idea until May, but still wanted to get the book out in the summer to catch the summer reading season. The project also works to fill in the gap until his next hardcover release, scheduled for 2012. “But I wouldn’t have been able to rush it, even as an e-book,” Tyree said, “So I thought, anyone who’s going to download it is someone who probably downloads all the time. So that’s an advantage to me–just give them a chapter a week.”

He's on the right track. Anyone who's going to download it is probably someone who reads digital books all the time. But not at that price. People who read e-books do, in fact, read a lot more these days, which is even more important to consider how a book is priced. People have reading budgets. They draw lines.

Tyree said Kindle Edition has a 90-day royalty period and he will not have sales figures for the book project until mid-October. Even then, he added, he isn’t planning to be affected by them. “Back in 2001 I was so focused on sales numbers–-but I learned the hard way that the numbers game can drive you crazy,” Tyree said. “So [for Corrupted] I decided I’m not even going to break down the numbers when the royalty statement comes. I’ve already learned: don’t think about the numbers; just think about the book.”

I could be wrong here. But I can't help wondering how many books he would have sold if he'd priced the book like other e-books instead of at a dollar a chapter. I know that sounds cheap to some. But if the book has 27 chapters, or more, that's going to add up.

Tyree promised lots of drama and intrigue in upcoming chapters, “You will see the behind-the-scenes action: the meetings at the publishing house, the bidding wars, the decisions about which authors the editors have to cut loose. It’s going to get vicious!”

Once again, for the last time, absolutely fascinating content. I'd love to read this book. But as my grandmother used to say, "He'll die with his secret as far as I'm concerned." I want a quality e-book at a fair price, not an experiment in publishing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Follow Up Post: Self-Published Authors and QED

As a follow up post to this one, I contacted Matt at QED about self-published books and authors and whether or not they could participate. I wanted to know, first hand. And this is how he replied:

Yes, self-published books are absolutely allowed to participate. We have a special category of the PIAs that are specifically devoted to self-published titles, if you decide you would prefer to compete in that section. A self-published author is also allowed to compete in the general categories as well; the self-published category is only optional. Hope that answers your question!

So if you are self-published, I think it might be wise to keep this in mind. I know it's an added expense. But in this case, I think the added expense will pay off in the end.

For Self-Published Authors? QED Seal of Approval

I've been running an ongoing series of blog posts, with guest bloggers, who have self-published. It's no secret I'm a huge fan of self-publishing...for many reasons I've already stated. This is also a seal of approval for publishers, too. But I'm focusing this post on self-published authors because I'm not sure whether or not any publishers will actually participate in something like this. Publishers...all of what they want to do. And there's a fee, check it out here.

I don't know much about this seal of approval, but I will find out more. Mainly because I'm thinking about self-publishing a few things myself. Fiction that's not erotica or erotic romance.

But if I had a self-published book out there right now, I'd be looking into this and finding out how I can get this seal of approval. Let's face it, there are a few really bad self-pubbed e-books (not to mention e-books with publishers), which makes it even more difficult for those of you who have taken the time to produce a quality product. And readers only have to buy one bad book to feel slighted and cheated, self-pubbed or professionally pubbed. With something like this QED seal, it will give them a little more security. I know I'll be looking for it when I'm shopping for books.

Again, I'll post more when I find out more. The one thing that slightly bothers me is that is sounds a little gimmicky, in a promotional way, and I'm not sure if it's a contest or an actual seal of approval you pay to get. But I'm really hoping this will be something self-published authors can do to prove they have quality products.

If anyone has anymore info, please feel free to share. I did e-mail them and I'm waiting to hear more about self-pubbed authors and books.

“A well-crafted ebook is essential both from the reader’s perspective, as well as the publishers’—a reader will respond to a well-crafted, beautifully designed ebook. They will feel like they got their money’s worth when they interact with a professional-quality product. A quality ebook is going to be increasingly crucial as a component of a publisher’s brand going forward.”

—Pablo Defendini, Interactive Producer, Open Road Integrated Media

New to the Publishing Innovation Awards this year is the QED Seal, which stands for Quality, Excellence, Design. The QED is the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval™” for ebooks – it signals to an ebook reader that the title will render well in whatever their preferred reading format and that they can buy with confidence. It is an emblem that publishers, authors, and content creators can affix to their ebook cover and metadata that assures readers they can read that title where they want, how they want.

Ebook titles entered into the Publishing Innovation Awards will go through a thorough, professional 13-point design review with an eye towards readability across multiple devices and in multiple formats. The QED is judged on the criteria established on the recommendation of the Publishing Innovation Awards advisory council, who are respected leaders in the digital production and design space.

QED consideration is included in the entry fee for all entries in the Ebook and Enhanced Ebook categories.

QED Inspection Check-List
1. Front matter: the title does not open on a blank page.
2. Information hierarchy: content is arranged in such a way that the relative importance of the content (heads, text, sidebars, etc) are visually presented clearly.
3. Order of content: check of the content to be sure that none of it is missing or rearranged.
4. Consistency of font treatment: consistent application of styles and white space.
5. Links: hyperlinks to the web, cross references to other sections in the book, and the table of contents all work and point to the right areas. If the title has an index, it should be linked.
6. Cover: The cover does not refer to any print edition only related content.
7. Consumable Content: The title does not contain any fill-in content, such as workbooks and puzzle books, unless the content has been re-crafted to direct the reader on how to approach using the fill-in content.
8. Print References: Content does not contain cross references to un-hyperlinked, static print page numbers (unless the ebook is intentionally mimicking its print counterpart for reference).
9. Breaks: New sections break and/or start at logical places.
10. Images: Art is appropriately sized, is in color where appropriate, loads relatively quickly, and if it contains text is legible. If images are removed for rights reasons, that portion is disclaimed or all references to that image are removed.
11. Tables: Table text fits the screen comfortably, and if rendered as art is legible.
12. Symbols: Text does not contain odd characters.
13. Metadata: Basic metadata for the title (author, title, etc.) is in place and accurate.

QED Judging Process
The QED supports a reader’s ability to access their ebooks how they want, when they want, and on the screen they want. To ensure that a title meets the demands of the ebook reader, each title will go through the above check-list on multiple devices and in multiple formats.

To ensure that an ebook title submitted for a QED will render well on the device a reader chooses, be reviewed on three devices: a small, mobile-sized screen, an eInk reader-sized screen, and a tablet-sized screen.

To confirm that the title looks good in the most widely adopted formats, each ebook will be reviewed in ePub in a Webkit-based ereader application (like Apple’s iBooks), in ePub in an Adobe SDK-based ereader (like Bluefire or Adobe Digital Editions), and in Mobi in Kindle Previewer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Interesting Thing About Social Media...

I've talked about social media a few times on this blog, especially Facebook. I've been kicked off Facebook for no apparent reason and then put back on...without an explanation. (They do this to gay people sometimes, whenever someone complains about gay content of any kind, even if it's a simple status update about gay marriage. Facebook isn't a democracy.)

And, frankly, I'm not even on Facebook that much. I usually post something fast once in the morning and then once again later at night. Then I take a few minutes to check out what friends are posting; just to keep up and to see how everyone is doing. I honestly do look forward to most status updates. I like the people I met on all the social networks I've joined.

I've had gay friends kicked off facebook for no apparent reason, too. Some are authors who write gay fiction, others are gay people who just post information about gay events and trivia. I rarely ever see anything harmful.

But there is a good side to all this in spite of this drawback. At least Facebook allows us to pick and choose with whom we want to be friendly. You can manage your account so that you don't have to read anything you'd rather not read. Which makes me wonder how deeply the hate goes for gay people when it's so simple to just "unfriend" someone and never read their status updates again.

And let's face it, we're never all going to love what everyone is posting on facebook. With me there are two negatives: one is when people post political rants and the other is when people post religious rants. I personally go to facebook to socialize, not to read about politics. I go other places for that. And I certainly don't go to facebook to read about religion...or disdain for religion. I have my own personal faith, thank you, and I don't need to read about anyone else's faith...or their lack of faith.

Sometimes I just "hide" people. I usually do this when they do annoying things. For example, one or two friends might be watching a football game on TV and they might be posting information about the game on Facebook every ten seconds. I'm thrilled they are so excited. I really am. But I couldn't care less and I hide them so I don't have to read a whole page of status updates about the game they are watching. You have to have good manners on social media, too, just like in real life.

And I have "unfriended" people, just like I'm sure people have done the same to me. I don't know when it's happened to me, because I don't really care (it's Facebook, seriously) and I'm certainly not going to take the time to go through my entire friend list. I used to feel guilty about "unfriending" people. And then I stopped feeling guilty when I realized it doesn't really matter. You can rant and post about how proud you are to be an athiest all you want. But I don't have to read it. You can rant about how much you hate Sarah Palin or Barrack Obama all you want. But, again, I don't have to read it. I guess there are people who do care what your relgious or political beliefs are, but I'm not one of them. I just want to have fun on social networks. And I think that's the main reason why they were designed.

I do think authors should beware of posting political or religious rants or opinions. You're shooting yoursleves in the foot if you think people are going to buy your books if you piss them off on social media. And they have every right to feel that way, because we do, indeed, have choices.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 Ten Years Later

I've already written a 9/11 post, here. I even posted a photo of mail I didn't receive until months later from the Princeton, NJ post office. This was one of the post offices that went through the anthrax scare. If you click the link, and then click on the photo, you can actually read the print on the plastic packaging. It's interesting. And I never thought I'd see the day that would happen.

This anthrax scare was just one of the side effects here in the east coast that happened in the days that followed the terrorist attacks on the United States. I remember terrorist threats on bridges between Wilmington, DE, all the way up to New England. And driving into NY, at the end of the tunnels and bridges, was like driving into a war zone. And the funerals and memorials seemed never ending.

I can't believe it's been ten years already. It seems like just yesterday. I have family and friends in Manhattan and I don't think I've ever felt that kind of panic before. Everything changed after that day, from the way we travel to the way we view certain things. I know I changed. But we came back even stronger and better than before. And it's proof that no matter how hard they try to knock us, we're still the greatest country in the world.

More Rain Today?

This is what's left of my driveway after Lee. And the rain is still coming down hard.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tyler Clementi and Roommate: The Advocate

In case you haven't been following this story like I have, here are a few more details about Tyler Clementi and the events that led to his death. Evidently, there's a lot that remains to be seen about this case.

Here's the link:

Tensions Documented Between Clementi and Roommate
By Julie Bolcer

Court documents released in recent weeks show a tense relationship between Tyler Clementi and Rutgers roommate Dharun Ravi marked by wariness about each other’s sexual orientation and race.

The Associated Press reports on the documents ahead of a Friday court hearing for Ravi, who stands accused of charges including a hate crime and invasion of privacy for using a webcam to spy on Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man. Clementi, a freshman, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge last year and became a symbol of the tragedy of antigay bullying.

According to the AP, “The court papers show modern intrigue spelled out in texts and tweets, many jokey, some confessional. Along with computer records are interview transcripts that could become the heart of the evidence if the case goes to trial. The tension between the roommates began before the campus move in date of Aug. 28, 2010.”

The communications show that Clementi found Ravi to be "soo Indian/first gen Americanish," and thought it “awkward” that his roommate changed his pants in the closet. He also noticed that his roommate pointed a webcam at his bed.

Ravi frequently discussed and joked about his roommate’s sexual orientation with friends including Molly Wei, who lived across the hall. The two and others viewed Clementi’s encounter with the unidentified man from her room, and Ravi discussed what they saw on Twitter, which prompted Clementi to complain to a resident assistant shortly before he took his own life.

Ravi sent a long text message to Clementi after he posted his suicide threat on Facebook, but it remains unclear whether Clementi ever read the note in which Ravi said he had “no problem” with him being gay.

Lawyers for Ravi on Friday will seek to have the indictment dismissed and compel prosecutors to reveal the identity of the man in the intimate encounter with Clementi. Prosecutors argue that he is the victim of a sex crime and can remain unknown.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Big Jeff Schroeder - A Graceful Exit?

If you don't follow the game, Big Brother, you won't care about this post. But I've been following the game since the first season and the one thing I've always admired is the way all the contestants lose with grace and dignity. They work hard to stay in the house. They fight for the grand prize, a half million dollars. And when they get evicted you can almost feel their pain. But they all know it's only a game. And when it's time to leave, they leave with smiles.

But this time, when Big Jeff Schroeder was evicted, grace under pressure clearly wasn't something that concerned him. And for those who don't know, if you watch this video, his eviction was more than valid. It had reached a point where Big Jeff thought he was king of the house (maybe the world), and a few smart players who'd been considered underdogs in the house weren't going to let him get away with it. They were tired of being intimidated by him. And they were not going to hand him a half million dollar check for being a bully. So they outsmarted him, which didn't take much, and got him out just in time.

In case you didn't hear Big-Jeff-the-football-player's homophobic rants about how wrong it would be to have positive gay characters in kid's books, here's a link to a previous post I wrote, where he's trashing this very topic. And it wasn't the first time he did this either. The only thing I can't understand is why any network in Hollywood would have him back a second time. If he'd ranted about race this way, he'd have gone into oblivion. But it doesn't seem to matter when he rants about gays.

Interesting. But none of that matters, because Karma got good old Big Jeffie this time in spite of the network's bad decision. Karma, and a few smart women players did him in.

Irene Was Nothing Compared to Tropical Storm Lee

This is what's left of my driveway and front walkway, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee.