Friday, March 30, 2012

So a Dude Wrote a Few Nancy Drew Books...

Last weekend, by accident, I turned on the TV around five on a Saturday afternoon to take a short nap. I love cooking shows for this reason. Nothing puts me to sleep faster. Instead of finding a cooking show, I wound up at PBS watching a half hour interview with the late Mildred Wirt Benson. She was one of the authors who wrote the Nancy Drew books that left such strong impressions on more than one famous woman. These Nancy Drew books were all written by ghostwriters and published with one grand pen name, Carolyn Keene, and no one ever knew it. In fact, this pen name was so well guarded the truth didn't come out until many years later.

A good deal of the PBS show focused on Edward Stratemeyer, who founded the Stratemeyer Syndicate. He was a prolific author himself who figured out a way to get all his ideas into print, making money at the same time. The SS was responsible for other books like The Hardy Boys series. Mr. Stratemeyer would solicit authors with a short synopsis or plot outline and then contract them to write these books for a flat fee. The SS never paid them a dime over that flat fee and kept all royalties. This isn't all that unusual, unfortunately. The ghost writers were paid a $125.00 flat fee, and during the depression the fee was reduced to $100.00. Small presses are still doing this today, so don't be too stunned by this. I've been in more anthologies than I can count that paid a flat fee of $50.00, without mention of e-book royalties, and two free copies. At one point, about eight years ago, one small press actually sent out a mass e-mail informing the contributing authors they were reducing the flat fee from $50.00 to $25.00 due to economic hardship. I continued to submit work to them without complaining. As an author who only cares about writing I didn't have much of a choice and the publisher was slick enough to know this. The authors who contributed to the Nancy Drew books had even less choices and they were happy to get their flat fee.

These authors who wrote books for the SS were all very prolific and they wanted to be career writers. I'm emphasizing this on purpose, because I see a lot of talk on the Internets these days that slam authors who have the ability to write fast. The speed with which it takes an author to write a novel...or any fiction...has nothing to do with the quality of the fiction. And in genre and sub-genre fiction the authors who can write faster usually get more work. The key word here is genre. Not every author is as lucky as Jonathan Franzen and can spend ten years writing a literary mainstream novel and make millions of dollars. Most career authors in genre fiction produce at least four new novels a year, which is a conservative number. It's not because they are pressured or forced. It's because they CAN do it and that's what they LOVE doing.

I could spend days writing about the Stratemeyer Syndicate and all the good and bad it did for both authors and readers. But what I found most interesting was that a man, Walter Karig, wrote at least three volumes of the Nancy Drew series. Once again, Mr. Karig was considered very prolific and he wrote everything from military history to TV scripts. I doubt anyone who read the Nancy Drew books he wrote at the time would have guessed a man had written them. Good writers have little tricks they build with experience. And we're talking about fiction, not non-fiction based on fact and real life. The Nancy Drew books, regardless of who wrote them, all did one thing: they provided entertainment to young women who couldn't get enough of them.

The youtube video below is interesting because it gets into a lot of what I just mentioned with a little more clarity. I do find it interesting how surprised the guy is when he talks about how poorly authors were treated back then. Things haven't changed all that much for career writers. Although I have to admit indie publishing and Amazon have given us more choices than ever before, authors do what they have to do in order to write. This is the main focus and the goal. Those of us who have been there, and are still there in many cases, fully understand why people like Walter Karig and Mildred Wirt Benson did what they did. And these authors prove, more than any other example I can find, that a good career writer can author any book, in any genre, he or she is contracted to do.

Chase of a Lifetime on Kobo, and Amazon Indie Publishing from Catherine Ryan Hyde & Barry Eisler

While I don't want to bore everyone to death with details about the technical process involved in self-publishing a book on Amazon, I did want to show that one of the things I thought was important was to edit/proof my book downloaded to an actual e-reader. I wanted to see how the e-book would look on one of my own e-readers. I have five and I started with the basic Kobo e-reader with e-ink. I don't want to assume anything, so I'll also be testing the book out on every type of e-reader to be sure it looks the same on the most basic to the most recent tablet. And, this is editing that's more like triple checking because the book's already been extensively edited and copy edited down to the last line...both before and after conversion. And, "Chase of a Lifetime" is a 60,000 word full length novel, not a short story or novella.

The one problem I found while I was checking things out last night on my Kobo was that the copy editor I hired made changes, got them wrong, and I had to go back and line edit each small thing. They weren't large. It was more of a matter of style than anything. But since I'm in charge this time and I get the final say, the copy editor isn't going to do anything to my book I don't like. Another problem I'm finding is that things like indentations and page numbers tend to get screwed up during the conversion process. But it's being figured out as I write this post.

Overall, I'm happy with the way the book looks on Kobo. I wanted to be sure people who own Kobo products could download the book on Amazon, too. I won't get into mobi files or epub files because I doubt people want to know about this. Until I started this Amazon project I didn't want to know those details. But if I can download a .99 Kindle e-book to my Kobo, iPhone, or Nook, I would imagine anyone else can.

I also want to link to a great post I read yesterday. I was having one of those "what the fuck did I do now" moments with regard to Amazon publishing. So I did a few searches to see how other authors view the process and found a great interview/post between author Catherine Ryan Hide and Barry Eisler. For those who don't know, Mr. Eisler walked away from a slick deal with St. Martin's to pursue self-publishing, and CRH is the bestselling author who wrote "Pay it Forward." The post helped calm me down and took away all my second thoughts (well, not all, but I'm working on them). That may sound dramatic, but I've always depended on the collaboration with a publisher and doing it alone for the first time ever after doing it with a publisher for twenty years can be scary. I'm also glad I found this post by CRH by accident. I've been a fan and I've read her book "Jumpstart The World." It's one of the best YA books I've ever read with LGBT content. It made me feel much better to know that someone I respect and admire is speaking about the Amazon indie self-publishing process, too.

I'll keep posting more about the process of getting "Chase of a Lifetime" out next week. I'm shooting for a release of early next week. But I'm not committing to anything yet until I know the book is up and ready. But it will be up for sale sometime next week. It will be on Amazon for the first ninety days, and then I'll decide whether or not I need to start distributing it anywhere else. I know there's this mindset that all books should be distributed in as many places as authors can get them. (I'm a huge fan of sites like ARe and 1place for my purchases.) But I also know that most e-book sales do come from Amazon. At least that's been my own personal experience, not hearsay. At the very least, I will probably try to get it up on the most popular romance sites where e-books are sold.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Can Gay News Networks Survive?

There's an interesting article here, about whether or not gay news networks can survive the competition. It gets into niche markets, and whether there's a large enough audience to turn a profit. I read between the lines and wondered about how many in the LGBT community are interested in reading gay news. And I'm also wondering about how many in the LGBT community are being turned off by gay news as well.

Whether corporate-run or one-man shops, the outlook for gay news blogs is that most of them are not turning a satisfying profit.

What's going on over at Logo, with them focusing on more mainstream programming seems to be an indication that it's not possible to turn a profit anymore with exclusive gay content. And I'm not sure that's such a terrible thing. Haven't we been working towards equality with the mainstream? I'm seeing more and more gay characters in mainstream programming all the time.

Again, there’s the question of how niche is too niche. Among the potential business-side problems for gay news sites:

One of those problems, which is explained in more detail in the article, is that it's hard to get advertisers in these tight niche markets. Especially since a lot of these gay news oriented web sites are so focused on politics and news. I can tell you from my own experience as a blogger that this particular post won't get that many hits no matter how much I promote it. But if I write a post about a gay porn star, or even a post about Levi Johnston posing nude in Playgirl, I'll get thousands of hits in just one day. People want a balance between entertainment and news. It's always been like that and this is not new to gay news markets.

Gay news sites may have a unique set of problems because of advertising hesitation. Still, their uncertain future may indicate that, even with a clearly defined niche market and a reliable audience, niche isn’t always the answer to capturing online revenue.

I would like to think that the LGBT community is interested in gay news. I know I am. I know all the gay people I come into contact with are. But I do think that gay news organizations need to stop being so focused on the typical gay agenda and start focusing on the many diverse sides of gay life. For example, not all gay men and women are liberal Democrats. That's a fact, but the most liberal (and loudest voices) in the gay community fail to recognize this. So maybe it's time to stop the focus on bashing conservatives and start listening to EVERYONE in the gay community. There's an openly gay Republican, Fred Karger, running for President and making history and I've seen little about it anywhere in gay news. If we change the focus a little and include everyone, it might make a difference in profits when it comes to these niche markets...the niches might just grow a little.

Do We Care About How Literary Agents Feel?

There's an interesting post over at Dystel & Goderich titled, "An Agent's Responsibility." It's about Dara Lynn-Reiss, her book deal, and her article in Vogue. She's the mom who allegedly used some pretty controversial methods while getting her seven year old to lose weight. I still don't think there's enough information out yet in order to form a strong opinion on this, at least not for me. I'd rather wait until the entire book is published and I've read it. I'm also a firm believer in not interfering with anyone else's parenting skills. I'm not fond of hearsay either.

From the GalleyCat article:

The new book has the tentative title, The Heavy. David Kuhn from Kuhn Projects negotiated the deal with Marnie Cochran. The publisher described the book as “an experience that epitomizes the modern parenting ‘damned if you do/damned if you don’t’ predicament.”

I think the publisher's description is something that would resonate with all parents nowadays. I see my own family dealing with issues like this on a daily basis. I have a nephew who is eleven and he has the potential to be overweight. My brother and his ex-wife work together to make him aware of this. It's not always easy.

In these trying times of publishing, where self-published fanfic BDSM books are crossing into the mainstream and being dubbed as "Mommy Porn," Jezebel is referring to the Vogue article as The Worst Vogue Article Ever." I think Vogue's worst article was when Hillary Clinton was running neck to neck with Barrack Obama and Vogue put up a piece about Bill Clinton having a new affair in order to sway the public against Hillary. We all know THAT wasn't done by accident. So there's very little about Vogue that would shock me anymore. They are in the business of selling magazines in a time when magazines are failing.

And then Mary Elizabeth Williams decided to chime in with her opinions. She raises some interesting points. I can just see the reviews and ratings popping up on goodreads when this book is published. I hope Ms. Lynn-Reiss is prepared for what is ahead of her. If she's not, she's in for an interesting learning experience.

Getting back to the original point. The Dystel & Goderich blog post questions whether or not agents have moral and ethical obligations with regard to various issues, and how they decide which projects to take on. I'm torn on this one. We're living in trying times and the publishing industry is notoriously left wing liberal. They make no secret of this and never have. But not everyone in America is left wing liberal. And if agents are picking and choosing clients based on their own personal morals, ethics, and opinions, how fair is this to the reading public at large? And does this mean the public isn't getting all the information and reading material they should be getting because the industry is swayed by personal opinions and people who don't know how to be objective?

I don't know the answers to these questions. Evidently, an agent decided to take on Dara Lynn-Weiss as a client and he/she didn't let the controversial subject matter get in the way of a good business deal with an eager publisher. I'm not saying this is right or wrong. But it does make me wonder if there might be a little room for more objectivity in the publishing industry all the way around. I wouldn't hold it against an agent for repping a client or a book like this. At least not in this situation. But I might think twice about the business ethics of an agent who turned down a book deal because he/she felt uncomfortable repping something that was controversial. Not everything is about sweet happy endings and celestial choir angels singing up above while the heavens open wide, especially in non-fiction. There are many interesting and controversial topics out there I might not agree with, but I also hate to think about what I might be missing because a literary agent decided he/she didn't personally agree with the subject matter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Something Indie: Creative Consciousness and More...

The Amazon page to which I'm linking contains the self-published work of a writer I know personally, Curt von Dornheim. I used to edit for him when I was still taking on clients on a selected basis. We became good friends after that and his work has been very inspirational for me, both in private and professionally as a writer.

I'm linking because I know his work...both fiction and non-fiction...and I always enjoyed editing it. The non-fiction is sort of spiritual new age without getting too deep or too complicated in technical jargon. It's more feel good reading about self-esteem than it is fact based on research. He's more than qualified to do this. He's a retired minister and he ran a "Creative Consciousness" workshop in Key West for many years. I met him when he moved back up north and settled in New Hope because he wanted to be closer to doctors in Philadelphia and New York.

His fiction is m/m with a POV from an older gay man. It's not erotic and it's more focused on the love and emotion than the sex. "The Wings of Fate" is my favorite, which you can find on Amazon, I think, as a free download if you belong to that Amazon Kindle club thing. But all of his indie e-books are priced very fairly and I know the content is good because I've read them all.

He's also very well read, in both non-fiction and fiction. I saw someone on a social network the other night make a blank statement that you don't have to be a good reader to be a good writer. I disagree completely. If you don't read good fiction you're not going to know how to write good fiction. I'm not talking about content and subjective subject matter now. I'm talking about the techniques of crafting fiction and the more physical aspects. To say you don't need to be a good reader to write good fiction is like trying to open up a high end retail store without ever having been inside Gucci. It just won't work, and only time and experience teaches people things like this...the things that can't be learned in a classroom.

The only thing I can't promise with Curt's books is the quality. And that's because I didn't do the copy editing nor did I help him get the books out on Amazon. He started doing this about a year after I told him I just didn't have time anymore for freelance clients. So in this respect, with regard to quality and editing, I can't make any promises. I haven't read the self-published e-books up on Amazon. I've only read the raw manuscripts. And I know from my own experience with Amazon Kindle publishing sometimes words and "things" get mixed up during the conversion. But I do look at it this way: in Curt's case, even if there are a few mistakes in editing they aren't going to be huge, and the content is well worth the effort. You're going to take away a lot more than if you read a bad book without any mistakes.

Joan Rivers and Bethenny Frankel: Gay Men Aren't Pet Poodles

(Update to post: You can see how much reality TV I watch. I was informed I spelled Ms. Frankel's name wrong. I will make that change. If I missed one, please forgive my grave error.)

Poodles and gay men are two of the most misrepresented groups in the world. When most people think about poodles, they think about prissy, high-strung dogs who yap all the time and prance around in silly haircuts and rhinestone collars. When most people think about gay men they think about what they've seen on TV shows and films like "Sex in the City," where every strong woman has at least one effeminate gay friend to hang out with. Trust me on this, poodles are nothing like that and neither are gay men. I have two poodles and the reason why I have them is because they are one of the smartest, strongest breeds out there. I used to show Irish Setters in obedience. I got tired of losing and got myself a poodle. Whenever I stepped into a ring and I saw either a poodle or a German Shepperd I knew I was screwed. Poodles can also be as vicious as Pit Bulls, and they prefer to be outside catching snakes instead of inside on fluffy pillows. And, like gay men, if you cross a poodle not only will he snap back fast but he'll never forget you crossed him.

But this isn't about dogs. A few things prompted this post. The first was a comment I read a few weeks ago by an older gay author and book reviewer whom I admire a great deal. He read an article where someone asked Joan Collins how she feels about gay men and she allegedly replied by saying something about how much she loves gay men and never likes to go anywhere without one. The gay male author I admire posted something like this in reply: "Why do I now feel like a pet poodle."

Another reason why I'm posting about this is because I was asked to participate in a TV reality show a few weeks ago. A producer in Hollywood contacted one of my publishers and asked if she could recommend someone. My publisher recommended me and the producer contacted me right away. From what I gather, it's a reality show about romance authors...romance authors in general, not just m/m romance authors. I answered a few questions, replied nicely, and spent a lot of time thinking about this reality show over that weekend. Ultimately, after I answered the basic questions, before it went any further, I declined and thanked the producer for considering me. I did this partly because I'm a writer, not a TV personality and I love what I do as a writer. I also declined because I've seen the way these reality shows represent gay men...very poorly...and I didn't want to wind up as someone's pet poodle. I think you feminists out there can relate to this with regard to beauty pageants, and the way women have always been represented (or misrepresented) in beauty pageants. I was never a fan of beauty pageants for this reason. It's basically the same reason why I declined on the reality show.

The main reason why I'm writing about this now is because Tony and I accidentally watched two reality shows on TV this week I rarely ever have time to watch. One was a show by someone I'd never even heard of until I watched the show and googled her name: Bethenny Frankel. The show is about Bethenny Frankel's life (a reality TV diva from what I gather), in general, with the same quasi reality theme all these shows have...even though it all looks completely staged and there isn't an ounce of reality to it.

But there was nothing else on, so we didn't switch the channel. In one scene, Bethenny and an older woman with a very negative attitude go shopping. And guess where they go? That's right. To the gay guys who own a posh high end furniture gallery in New York. I think Ms. Frankel even commented about how much she loves to visit her "boys," (meaning her gay male friends) on her way into the gallery. This scene mirrored every single offensive "Sex in the City" scene with gay men being treated like women...just one of the girls...I'd ever witnessed. Tony and I watched for a few minutes, rolled our eyes, and promptly changed the channel. You have to understand where we are coming from. Tony was a corporate executive who traveled the world for twenty years until he started his own company. He worked with strong women in corporate and they always treated each other with mutual respect. No one, trust me on this, ever treated Tony the way Ms. Frankel treated the gay guys who owned that store in New York. If they had, they wouldn't have been able to speak for a month (smile).

And Ms. Frankel's show wasn't even that bad, at least not considering other shows I've seen. I wouldn't even be writing this post if I hadn't watched the Joan Rivers, "Joan and Melissa" show last night. Again, Tony flipped to the channel by accident and we wound up watching something we normally wouldn't watch. I'm a fan of Joan Rivers. She's been around for a long time and I respect her survival instincts. Of course I believe her show is as much about reality as I believe the candidates running for President right now. But it's not a bad show either; I like bologna. Some of the lines are hysterical. I was enjoying it...and then the classic gay guy pet poodle came on and Tony and I wound up rolling our eyes again. In Joan's show, the gay guy is a middle aged comic who opens for Joan before she goes on and does her act. I'm sure he's paid well for what he does. He's just one of the girls, which is classic in regard to how reality TV shows and Hollywood have been treating gay men for years. In last night's show, this guy put on his make up and went to a bachelorette party with all the women, and Joan actually referred to him as the "sister" she always wanted to have. Evidently, he doesn't mind this at all.

Now I do know this is a combination of generation gap and money. Joan comes from a time when the only openly gay men were the most effeminate and enjoyed being treated like pet poodles...for a buck. Again, I'm not knocking these guys because they did what they had to do to survive in a world where there weren't LGBT rights. No one talked about diversity and tolerance back then. In some ways, it's still like that to this day and we, as gay men, have a long way to go in the self-esteem department. Joan also knows how to get a laugh and what people will laugh at. And gay men behaving like prissy women are right up there at the top of the funny ha-ha list in stand up comedy. They all do this; it's not exclusive to Joan Rivers. And we all know there is no limit to how far anyone will go when it comes to making money.

The most interesting thing about all this is that some of the most powerful gay men in Hollywood were not openly gay and they were not treated like pet poodles. Joan Rivers and Bethenny Frankel wouldn't have treated Rock Hudson or Merv Griffin that way. I do know that there are, indeed, gay men who like to be treated like one of the girls. I'm not slamming them in this post and I really don't care how they choose to live their lives. I want to make it clear that I'm not discriminating against them. It's just that I often wonder where the Al Sharpton hero is for the gay male community when someone does or says something offensive with regard to gay men. I've always been the first one to laugh at myself. I wrote about a burping dick once and I've been writing parodies for years. I think I have a sense of humor. But I also think it's time that we stop laughing at gay men the same way we have stopped laughing at people of African descent, or Asian descent, or any descent for that matter. I don't like it when things get PC and people have to stand on guard constantly. But there should be some lines drawn so all gay men aren't misrepresented and exploited to the mainstream public in such obvious ways. We're fighting for some serious rights and we need to be taken seriously in order to get them. I feel strongly about this with regard to the way women are treated, too. I just don't comment about it often because I'm not a woman and I don't feel I have the right to do this.

I'm also no one's pet poodle. Neither is my partner, Tony. I would rather go to a funeral than suffer through a bride's bachelorette party...even if Joan Rivers was paying me to do it. Just the thought of going to a bachelorette party makes me want to scratch my nuts and spit on the sidewalk in retaliation. I'm not one of Bethenny Frankel's "boys." I don't like to shop, arrange flowers, or pick out fabrics. I like fast cars, straight vodka, and a good cigar every once in a while. I like sex with men, but that doesn't make me a woman. I don't like to gossip, shop for anything, or listen to Broadway show tunes. I know more than a handful of gay men who are just like me and feel the same way I do. And for every single gay man who doesn't mind being treated like a pet poodle...or who is willing to be treated like one for money...there are at least ten more who wouldn't allow it to happen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AnthonyLAND: Blogger Anthony Romero

A reader passed me a link to this blogger and I wanted to mention him in a quick post. Before I get into his blog, I'd like to state that this is not for the faint of heart (smile.) The blog contains explicit adult content, so if you're only interested in schmaltzy m/m romance (which I do love at times), this might not be the web site for you. Or, if you feel superior and you like to turn gay men into toy poodles and call the "boys," as I know some do, stick with the fake gay stuff that's out there.

But if you are interested in all things gay male oriented, from literary novels published by fine companies like Cleis Press to the wonderful m/m romances you might find at or, and you are open to all aspects of gay male culture without passing judgment or feeling superior and quasi literary (had to get that shot in, and only because I see so much bullshit about these quasi "literary" types who don't even have clue :) then by all means check out AnthonyLAND. You will not be disappointed.

This blog, as I remember it in the beginning, is what blogging is really supposed to be about. It was created by Anthony Romero, and this is what his profile says:

"Model, performer, lovable jackass. Anything I say can and will be used against you."

His posts range from his own erotic videos to a few great personal posts about his life. He writes about his diet and his work outs. One post in particular I read recently was about how disappointed he was with a recent dog boarding experience. I have two dogs, and his post resonated with me because it is the exact reason why I NEVER board my dogs or trust anyone with them.

I'd also like to add that the reader who sent me his link also sent me an attachment of a short erotic story Anthony wrote. It was absolutely excellent. His fiction is what gay fiction is, and should be, all about. Not only is the natural writing talent there, with room to be nurtured, the voice and tone of his material surpassed anything erotic I've read in a long time. I hope he continues to write and pursue getting his fiction published. I think we need more guys like him writing gay fiction to keep the genre both alive and authentic, and I'd be willing to bet most of my serious readers would agree with me.

Here's an excerpt from one post about his diet and workout routine, and the photo above is the example he's talking about.

Some of the things I say come from my own experience and research, but by no means are the only right way. I take no responsibility for anyone hurting him or herself. Take everything you read here and anywhere with a grain of salt; however, while I may not be a professional, I do have a bit of knowledge (here’s proof ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Line Edits for "Chase of a Lifetime"

This week I'm down to doing the line edits for my new indie release, "Chase of a Lifetime." I didn't hear back from anyone at QED regarding the procedure of getting an e-book stamp of approval, so I'm literally going line by line through the book this week to make sure there aren't any editoral mistakes. I recieved the final draft from the copyeditor I hired and I've already put it up, with the cover, on Amazon in PDF so I can see how the final book will look as readers will see it.

And I guess I'm doing it the hard way. But it works for me and keeps me organized. I'm going line by line, just as I would do for a publisher with a galley, just as I've been doing for the last twenty years with all fiction I've had published. I'm keeping track of the changes, and then I'm going back to the word document and making the changes. The only difference is this time I get the final say (smile). So far, I'm halfway through the book and I've only come up with about ten small issues. They are things like "haircut" being spelled as "hair cut." Or I left the "t" off the word "thought" and it looks like "though." I know as a reader how annoying those things can be to me and I don't want to see them in my book.

The line editing is probably the most intense part of the indie process for me. I want this book to be up to standard, as if it were published by any publisher with whom I've worked before. I'm shooting for a release date next Monday. But until I know for certain that I'll have the line edits finished and I'll have a last chance to read through the final draft, that's still tentative. So the release date may be the following Monday.

TBCC and the Rogue Prince

I had fun writing this book, and I haven't talked about it much. It's not exactly a classic Cinderella story because both main characters come from well off backgrounds. But it's close enough because it deals with royalty. And I did model one character loosely after adorable Prince Harry. I'm a die hard royalist and always have been. And I've always found the complicated lives of royals absolutely fascinating. While I'm not to thrilled with William and his new wife, I think Prince Harry would be a lot of fun if he really did what he wanted to do. You just know he knows how to have a good time by looking at him, and I'm not talking about anything sexual here.

When I wrote the story for this book, I tried to imagine what would happen if someone like Prince Harry decided to take a short break from being a royal so he could find out what the real world is up to. I also used parody in several scenes from the old movie Roman Holiday. If you read the book you won't find that many scenes from the film match scenes in the book. But one parody in particular I did was from the scene in the film where the princess is at a reception and her feet start to hurt. She takes off her shoes and no one can see this beneath her gown. And then she can't get them back on again. Of course I couldn't do that with a male character. It wouldn't be possible. I rewrote the scene so that the prince in my story would be in pain because he's wearing a penis ring beneath his formal royal military uniform. He's so uncomfortable and the penis ring is pinching his groin so hard he puts his hand in his pocket when no one is looking and pops the penis ring. It winds up falling down his pants, and then landing on the floor. He quickly kicks it over to the man standing next to him and pretends he knows nothing about it. When the wife of the man standing next to him sees the penis ring on the floor, she punches her husband. It's a slapstick parody of an old scene and I thought it helped break up a rather serious situation.

The only thing I wish I had done with this book was to use parody for the title as I've done with other books. Though the storyline is quite different from Roman Holiday, I do think that if I'd come up with a title more like "Hamptons Holiday," or "Holiday in the Hamptons," it would have worked better for the book. There's a lot more background about this book I'll write about in the future with regard to why I wasn't thrilled with the title. Interesting stories that usually don't happen that I'd like to share someday.

RWA, Tolerance and Diversity, Revision to Rules?

For those who recall, in February there was an issue over banning LGBT material in a contest that was being run by RWI, which is a chapter of RWA. I posted about it here, with links. Ultimately, the contest was cancelled abruptly and the passion expressed with regard to the "issue" died down fast. Internet issues like this often have short life spans. There's an incident, everyone jumps on board with an opinion, and then it's over three days later never to be discussed again.

Well I've been waiting until the end of March to see if anything would happen and if RWA would at least address the issue. I had to search around because I didn't see it mentioned anywhere, at least it wasn't mentioned as loudly as it was when the contest banned the LGBT material. I did find something interesting. RRW, Rainbow Romance Writers, did post on March 21st, here.

And in this link, you'll find even more details that explain the situation in depth. I do know this was a huge move for RWA and I'm not going to express any personal opinions yet. At least it's progress.

I didn't see much else out there written or posted anywhere, and I'd like to thank Heidi Cullinan for taking the time to do this. And for taking the time to follow up on something I'm sure most have forgotten about by now. She really did nail it and anything I would write here in addition would only take away from her post...which I totally agree with.

Please check out both links and read about the issue yourselves. It's nice to see someone so passionate and working so hard with good intentions.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Amazon Indie Publishing Venture: Cover Preview for "Chase of a Lifetime"

I had a completely different post planned for today. But the cover artist I've been working with for the new cover for my Amazon indie romance, "Chase of a Lifetime," sent me the first draft this morning.

This isn't just the first draft. It's exactly what I pictured and it's going to now be the final draft. I wanted a simple cover, with just the title and my name. And also a great image of a guy in a cowboy hat since that's a big part of the storyline.

I will be posting more soon. I don't have an exact release date set because I'm going to be getting the copy edits back soon and then I'm giving the book a few final reads to make sure the quality is there. At least my readers know one thing: I've been around for a long time and I know how to edit and get a book out. I've also learned from past mistakes, some of which weren't even my fault but I took the heat anyway. And when you go through experiences like that, you don't forget them...ever. So the quality of this book is top priority. From cover to copy I don't want something that looks as if it was slapped together and uploaded to Amazon. They tell me I can change things even when the book is up. But I'd rather get it right the first time.

Huge thanks to Dawne Dominique for doing this cover. Check out her work and see what I mean.

When Jim Darling graduates from Princeton and goes back home to Texas, he dreads everything ahead of him. He’s almost twenty-one years old, still in the closet, and has never been with a man. Though his father wants him to go to law school so he can join him in his law firm, it’s the last thing Jim wants to do.

On Jim’s first night home, during his college graduation party at his mom and dad’s ranch, he runs into his best friend’s dad, Len Mayfield, a rugged, handsome investment banker in his late thirties who rides horses and wears a cowboy hat when he’s not working as an investment banker. Len’s life isn’t much different from Jim’s. He’s been in the closet forever, he’s trapped in a marriage of convenience with a wife who cheats, and he’s resigned to his circumstances.

That is until Len runs into the grown up version of Jim Darling at the graduation party. What happens after that blossoms into something neither of them ever expected. A long seduction leads to fantastic love-making. There’s enough passion, heartache, and frustration to challenge their fragile relationship in more ways than one after Jim makes a huge mistake.

Will Jim Darling find a way to come clean with his mom and dad so he can find the happiness he’s always wanted? And will Len Mayfield find the courage to finally come out of the closet and walk away from a life that has never made him happy?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Barnes & Noble List

This afternoon someone e-mailed me a promotion about Barnes & Noble and I clicked the link and was surprised to find a lot of my books there. I knew my loveyoudivine books were there. But I didn't know I was there with other publishers. Although I've had a B&N account for years, I don't own a Nook and rarely go there since I bought my Kobos.

I have to say it's a great site to navigate and all the product information seems to be spot on. In fact, the one thing that really *amazed* me was how the reviews differ from places like Amazon and Goodreads. And I'm not talking about slightly. I'm talking about big time differences. What this is all about I haven't a clue. That's all I'm going to say on that topic...just that it's different.

Here's the link to my page. And a huge thanks to those who've purchased my books on B&N and have taken the time to leave reviews. I really do appreciate it.

Will "Fifty Shades of Grey" Change the Internet in Some Ways?

I've already explained how I discovered "Fifty Shades of Grey," here in this post. I've discovered many books I love by doing this...reading a bad review on what's considered a professional online review site and checking the book out for myself. With this particular web site where books are reviewed, nine times out of ten I wind up loving the book and wondering why the reviewer hated it. If it happened once I'd think it was me. But when it happens dozens and dozens of times I start to think that maybe the review site I'm checking out is catering to a smaller more elite crowd of readers. Or, maybe I DO have horseshit taste (smile).

I think it's important to state first that I do respect ALL reviewers, and I believe everyone has the right to an opinion, especially when it comes to books. I've also found some of the most wonderful books I've ever read by going to review sites and reading the good reviews. The theme of this post is not to bash ANY reviewers or even question them. It's to examine the disconnect I've been seeing lately between what's discussed online and what's discussed in the mainstream. For example, when "Bridges of Madison County," was released it was a huge mainstream success, and yet there are still people bashing the book online to this day. The same thing happened with "Twilight." We all know how some so-called online "experts" feel about Amanda Hocking. And now I'm seeing the same with with "Fifty Shades of Grey."

I read FSoG and loved it (thanks to that scathing review on that one particular web site where books are reviewed). I also read BoMC and "Twilight" and loved them, too. I haven't read Amanda Hocking yet, but the odds are I'll like her work at the very least. I don't think anyone would have guessed that FSoG would every become as big a book as it is right now. When I bought it I would never have guessed this. But now I read something about it everywhere I go. And here's the interesting thing. If you go to any mall in any suburban town in the USA and you ask people at random if they've ever heard of the review site where I read the review that slammed FSoG before it went mainstream, I'd bet money no one in the mall would know who you were talking about. But go to the same mall and ask them if they've heard of FSoG. I'll bet at least half would know the book you are talking about. This proves one thing: the Internet has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. Most people, in the real world, don't know half of what's going on in online publishing communities. And they don't care either.

The most interesting thing is that FSoG started out as an online book and did the impossible by crossing into the mainstream. I've read allegations about it being fanfic and I don't think that's even significant at this point. FSoG has sparked interest and people are reading it and liking it. If you don't believe me, check out Amazon reviews where 580 people have reviewed and rated the first book and it has a four star average. If a fanfic author managed to get a big book and cross into the mainstream, I couldn't be more thrilled for her. That's all I care about. And though I can't say the book's worst online critics have been proven wrong because reviewing books is subjective (no one can be wrong when they review a book and that's important to state), I can say that the book's most serious critics have proven that their personal taste in books can now be questioned in a very big way. At the very least their taste can be questioned with regard to what the mainstream public wants to read.

As more people in the mainstream discover more about the Interwebs, through iPads and tablets and devices that connect them to online information, I can't help but wonder whether or not the credibility of web sites like the one where I read the scathing review of FSoG will diminish in time. In the past they've attracted an elite set of readers that tend to think the same way they do (or they are terrified to disagree with them). In their small online world they've been very popular. But will the mainstream find web sites like this too elite, and will the content they've been putting out in the last decade begin to look less trustworthy because their taste is so off with regard to the mainstream. I don't mean to say they aren't telling the truth. I believe they are passionate and they believe in what they are doing. I'm only wondering about whether or not their own personal truth is something the mainstream public will take seriously...or even care about. And will they remain relevant? Evidently, FSoG is a good example of how strongly the mainstream disagrees with what's considered credible online.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Baseball Time: "Capping the Season"

I'm going to spend some time in the coming weeks, in between posts about my indie publishing venture, revisiting previously published short stories I've written for For those who don't know, LYD is an all inclusive e-publisher of erotica and erotic romance, and there are even a few "sugar and spice" romances for readers. I've been with them longer than I've been with any other e-publisher and I'm working on a short story submission right now titled: "Mike the Married Man."

The original version of "Capping the Season" was pubbed in an anthology a long time ago by Alyson Books. I think this is when Alyson was in LA, but I could be wrong about that. Either way, I maintained the copyrights and decided to re-release it as a short e-book about two years ago. I revised many parts of the story and added a few things the original didn't have that I thought were important to the storyline. I also wanted to give readers a choice between buying an entire anthology and one short story. I've stated before that I love anthologies. I really do. But I also like to have choices. And sometimes I don't want to spend the money on the whole anthology. I only want to read a couple of stories...which for me has become one of the huge benefits of digital reading.

Anyway, "Capping the Season" is a story about a baseball player and a young professional who meet under unusual circumstances. I'm posting the blurb below and an excerpt and product details. It can be purchased here at the publisher's web site, or here on Amazon.

When handsome young Hunter finally sells his mansion and decides to downsize to a luxury condominium, his biggest fear about moving is that he’s going to miss taking care of all the handsome young landscapers he’s grown so fond of in the old neighborhood. But when he winds up in the backseat of his car with his real estate agent on the day of settlement, he believes this is a good omen, and moves into the new place with red, puffy lips, sore knees, and a huge smile on his face. This is when he discovers he’s now living next door to a famous baseball jock who is drunk most of the time and thinks nothing of walking around in a pair of boxer shorts and a white T-shirt. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Hunter visits him on his deck one afternoon, wearing nothing but a skimpy towel and a huge smile.

Ebook ISBN:978-1-60054-326-5
Length: 5000 words
Genre: Gay Lit / Contemporary
loveyoudivine Category: His and His Kisses
Rating: Shooting Star
Hunter’s sex appeal came in that innocent way dark, rough men always seem to notice. About five eleven, with blond hair and large blue eyes; a slim body frame enhanced by working out in the basement with free weights and push ups. Though his arms weren’t particularly large, his chest muscles responded to bench presses and push ups to the point where they rounded and popped like unbreakable ostrich egg shells sliced directly in half. But most men noticed one thing first: his round ass, a protruding cushion begging to be pounded and slapped and plugged.

The landscaping guys, always on the down low, would furtively watch while he pruned and trimmed hedges, parading his naked torso, sometimes pulling the sheer shorts so far below his waist half the crack of his smooth ass could be seen. Though it didn’t happen often (most of the time this was just a show), when Hunter noticed one of the guys seriously watching, he’d gradually arch his back, stretch his arms and then nod toward the garden shed. The guy would follow him to a private place behind the shed, where Hunter would slip off his shorts and lay face down on a pile of mulch. He’d then spread his legs wide, arch his back so his engaging ass would be in the air, and the guy would pull down his zipper for a quick afternoon fuck. In a white enamel pail with chips around the rim, Hunter kept lube and a full supply of condoms. Once, on a rare, unforgettable afternoon, when four Spanish speaking studs had been drinking too much beer on the job, Hunter spread his legs and arched his back while all four took turns nailing him into the mulch pile. It took a week for the reddish hand prints, where they’d squeezed his supple ass so hard, to disappear.

Though he’d miss the summertime romps and capping off the baseball season with the landscaping boys, living a mortgage-free life was far more exciting. The new town house, in an exclusive community of only thirty large units, had year round landscapers included in the monthly community fees. Hunter would never have to push a lawn mower, dig with a shovel or rake a leaf again. He wouldn’t have to work out at home in the basement anymore either; he could now afford to join a gym like all his friends, where he’d prance around naked in the locker room for men who were just as horny (and dirty) as the landscaping guys. He also portended he’d be able to distract at least a few of the guys who landscaped in the new town house community, too, by walking around on his rear deck in nothing but a short towel.

He drove directly to the new town house after settlement and saw the moving crew had arrived on time. Three overweight guys in Dodger baseball caps with yellow teeth and man breasts. In the back of his mind he’d been hoping for fierce and rugged moving men, with shaved heads and pierced nipples who would only be too happy to pull down their zippers while he sucked them all off in the back of the truck consecutively: an unfulfilled moving van fantasy that caused his hole to twitch.

A Nice Book to Be In: "Cruising"

I feel like I'm going to extremes with every post I write this week. Yesterday I posted about my small self-publishing venture on Amazon, and today I'm posting about a short story I wrote for a book that's been published by a "traditional" print publisher, Ceis Press. The title of the book is "Cruising." You can find it here on Amazon, and I'll post a publisher link below.

The reason why it's so nice to be in this book is because I started writing for small LGBT presses (I can't embrace the "Q" yet, maybe in time) a long time ago and I've always been a fan of LGBT anthologies. Before there was a sub-genre called M/M Romance, it was small presses like Cleis that published some of the best LGBT material ever written. It gave me experience and the opportunity to grow as a gay male author when no one else would. And there's nothing like the feeling of getting that fresh print book in the mail and seeing the cover.

And I'd like to continue to submit work to Cleis and other small presses as much as I can. Unfortunately, there isn't much money involved. But for me it goes deeper than that. I read a blog post last night that was written by one of these loud, pushy "people" who write what "they" consider "LGBTQ Literary," and I was amazed at what this author considers "LGBTQ Literary." It's schmaltz at best. Let's just say she used the word "nookie" in an excerpt where a young gay man is thinking about having sex for money. No young gay man uses the word "nookie," unless it's in dialogue and he's making fun of someone else. It's as simple as that. And if this is what is going to be considered "LGBTQ Literary," I think it's important for gay authors to continue to keep LGBT presses like Cleis flowing with submissions so the distinctions are made and lines are drawn. There's nothing wrong with schmaltzy M/M Romance. I've done it myself and I love reading it. But let's be honest about it, too.

I also think it's important for everyone who loves reading LGBT fiction to support small presses like Cleis and buy their books. If you don't want the e-book, you can also go to the publisher's web site and buy the book as a print book. You might not find the schmaltzy "LGBTQ Literary" fiction the author I spoke about above thinks is great writing, but you will find some interesting stories written by gay people who know what they are talking about. In other words, you're not being scammed into believing the book is something that it's not by someone who doesn't know what she's talking about. I don't think you'll be disappointed either. It's a lot like the difference between real chocolate and "flavored" chocolate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quality Control in Self-Published E-books

Being that I'm releasing a self-published .99 novel on Amazon very soon, "Chase of a Lifetime," I've been concerned about the quality issues of e-books in a general sense. Concerned because I've experienced one e-book of my own that had a few mistakes over which I had no control because it wasn't self-published. And concerned because now that I am self-publishing my own e-book I want to be absolutely certain the quality is there.

I'm not talking about content or subjective issues. I'm talking about mistakes in grammar, spelling, and other things that could go wrong. I've contacted QED, an organization that gives what could best be described as the e-book seal of approval with regard to quality. But I'm not certain erotic m/m romance is something they would consider. So my goal is to continue to make sure this book I'm releasing soon, "Chase of a Lifetime," is up to standards as far as quality goes.

I can tell you this. I have twenty years experience in publishing. I've worked as an editor many times, both with anthologies and with freelance clients. But more than that, when I get my manuscripts back from copy editors that work for my publishers there aren't many mistakes. Usually the revises are more about the subjective content, where the editor didn't agree with something in the content. And I usually change it to please the publisher, without complaints. But now that I'm doing this on my own my only goal is to please the reader, not the publisher. And the quality of the e-book is extremely important to me.

I'll post more about QED when I hear from them. I'm hoping they will allow me to submit the e-book, for the required fee, so I can be considered for the stamp of approval. If not, I'll continue to post about my own quality concerns and issues so readers know and understand that this self-published e-book is going through some intense editing before it's released.

A Very Humble Venture: "Chase of a Lifetime," a M/M Western Romance

When Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader, it seems as if that was the day publishing changed forever. History was made that day and nothing has been the same since then. A lot of us were in digital publishing before that, but we weren't being taken very seriously. I think I recall e-book sales were less than 1% of the overall market. I could go back and link to old publishing blog posts that laughed at e-publishers.

In l999, I went to a dinner party where one of the guests worked in the art department for Random House. I'll never forget the conversation we had during cocktails. He started talking about these "devices" that were being developed, where people could store their entire libraries and manage as many books as they want. He also said the publishing industry knew about the technology in l999 and no one was doing anything about it.

I started submitting my fiction to e-publishers around 2005. I remembered the conversation I had with that art director and I saw a future in digital publishing. And though it's still not clear where anything in publishing will go, I don't see digital publishing disappearing. Especially not when you look at the way younger generations have embraced technology.

I've enjoyed working with all the e-publishers that have published my novels and short stories. A few I started with in 2005 (Tassels and Tales) aren't around anymore. They had the right concept; just not the right business plan. But I hope to continue submitting my fiction to the same digital publishers I've been working with. My experiences have been positive and I've been thankful for the opportunities they've given me as an author.

But I've also been curious about self-publishing with Amazon for a long time. I've posted about it enough that I'm not even going to link to the posts right now. You can do a search if you're interested. The main appeal for me, as an author who has always worked with publishers, is finding out what it's like to have complete control over what I'm publishing. My background, aside from twenty years of publishing fiction, is in business. Other than a few jobs in publishing where I worked as an editor, I've never actually worked for anyone. I opened my small businesses because they allowed me the freedom to write part time. They were both successful and I loved every minute of running a business. I'm still in business to a certain extent because I'm a landlord. And trust me, that's not easy.

As an author I'm also a business person. And my latest little venture is going to be publishing a full length, 60,000 word novel, on Amazon. The title is "Chase of a Lifetime," and it's m/m erotic romance. It's also a very humble venture. I'm not expecting to be the next Joe Konrath and I'm not expecting to blow anyone out of the water, so to speak. I'll be thankful for however many copies of this book I sell and I'll be here to answer any questions readers have. One thing I learned after years of owning my own businesses was how to relate to the consumers. In all those years of owning a gallery I only had one client return a statue. She thought it was bronze; it was resin. I gave her the money back and sold the statue to someone who really fell in love with it a few weeks later.

I don't want this post to wind up too long. And I will continue to post about the self-publishing process, for me, and what I've been doing. As I said, the main reason why I'm doing this is to get the control I've wanted all my life. Publishers are all different. Some let authors have a lot of freedom, and then others control every single aspect, from concept right down to the title and cover of the book. That collaboration is nice sometimes, but I've also learned that publishers who like to control the most aren't always right and it's the author who suffers in the end. The genre also suffers to a certain extent. I love the m/m romance genre and I've loved watching it grow and evolve. I even love the controversy that m/m romance sparks sometimes. It's the kind of passion I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. Sereiously! People are arguing over a book with gay male characters? I never started writing lgbt because it was a trend. It's because I'm gay and it's what I know best. But in order for the m/m genre to continue to grow, authors have to be trusted and some publishers need to step back and let them do what they do best.

The second reason I'm doing this is because I want to price the book on my own this time. "Chase of a Lifetime" will be released as a .99 e-book. It is an original and has never been published anywhere before. I won't be handing out free copies. As a business person giving away anything for free is counterproductive to the overall goal of being in business. But I do think .99 for a full length novel is a fair price.

Right now, I'm in the final stages of launching "Chase of a Lifetime." I hired a cover artist and copy editor. I suck at cover art and I wanted a copy editor to back up my own extensive edits. And I've always believed that copy editors are the most important people in publishing. There's this concept out there that a lot of self-published books aren't up to certain standards and they lack quality. All I can say is that I've never worked so hard and edited so much in my life. This is a small, humble venture for me, but I also want it to be as perfect as I can get it. Just ask Tony, my partner, what life had been like since I started this. I have driven the poor man crazy.(smile)

I'll post more soon. I'm hoping to have the cover art ready either this week or next. And if anyone has any questions about publishing on Amazon, feel free to ask.

Here's the blurb for COAL (still subject to change):

When Jim Darling graduates from Princeton and goes back home to Texas, he dreads everything ahead of him. He’s almost twenty-one years old, still in the closet, and has never been with a man. Though his father wants him to go to law school so he can join him in his law firm, it’s the last thing Jim wants to do.

On Jim’s first night home, during his college graduation party at his mom and dad’s ranch, he runs into his best friend’s dad, Len Mayfield, a rugged, handsome investment banker in his late thirties who rides horses and wears a cowboy hat when he’s not working as an investment banker. Len’s life isn’t much different from Jim’s. He’s been in the closet forever, he’s trapped in a marriage of convenience with a wife who cheats, and he’s resigned to his circumstances.

That is until Len runs into the grown up version of Jim Darling at the graduation party. What happens after that blossoms into something neither of them ever expected. A long seduction leads to fantastic love-making. There’s enough passion, heartache, and frustration to challenge their fragile relationship in more ways than one.

Will Jim Darling find a way to come clean with his mom and dad so he can find the happiness he’s always wanted? And will Len Mayfield find the courage to finally come out of the closet and walk away from a life that has never made him happy?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunshine Award!!

A short time ago I found the most refreshing young blogger, TD McFrost, I've seen in ages. He's a writer with a distinct voice who is always doing something different. It's always something nice, too.

Yesterday I found out I'd been given the "Sunshine Award," by TD McFrost and I couldn't have been more thrilled and can't thank him enough. I've always said the main reason I blog is to have fun, and something like this makes blogging fun.

Now I'm supposed to pass the award on, so here are the rules:

* Thank the person who gave you the award and provide a link.

* Write a post about it

* Answer the questions below.

* Pass it on to 10 bloggers who you think really deserve it and let them know

* Answer 10 Questions:

Favourite colour: blue

Favourite animal: dog

Favourite number: 13

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Diet Pepsi

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook (Twitter takes too much time)

My passion: Writing and Reading

Getting or giving presents: Both.

Favourite pattern: Florentine

Favourite day of the week: Sunday

Favourite flower: Impatiens

Now I'm passing the award on to these people:

A Guy in Love (Ryan)

Matthew Darringer

Rebecca Leigh

Michele Montgomery

And to this blogger, Eirik, whom I don't think is with us any longer. I followed his posts about cancer for a while and then one day he stopped blogging completely. I can't bring myself to delete his blog, and I'm hoping he's still with us in spirit.

Is It "Mommy Porn?"

I've posted about the popular book Fifty Shades of Grey a few times. My interest in the book is mostly geared toward the fact that an erotic romance became popular in the mainstream. It's not something I would normally read. But I have to say I've enjoyed reading it in spite of this.

Over the weekend I read a few posts about FSoG with regard to romance, erotic romance, porn, and women. One by Lori Perkins, and another by Sarah Wendel. The mainstream, as usual, came up with the ridiculous term "Mommy Porn," and people are commenting about this everywhere. These aren't the only things I've read. They just happen to be the two I found most interesting.

There's also an interesting post here, on the Dystel & Goderich blog, which discusses books like FSoG going mainstream and whether or not the publishing industry has overlooked the fact that digital books offer readers a certain amount of discretion that print books never did. In other words, no one knows what someone is reading on an e-reader, which makes it safe to read erotic romance anywhere. I've posted about this more than once. Erotic romance is, and always has been, a secret pleasure for most people, and this includes men, and it's always been about discretion.

But I'm on record about never commenting about women's issues because I'm a man. I like reading about them and learning about them because many of my own readers are women. But for me to comment on how a woman feels about an issue would be as bad as a woman commenting on how I should feel about issues as a gay man. I don't like it, and I don't think women would like it very much if I started talking about women's issues.

But I do think the posts that I've linked to are interesting in the sense that they give insight into something that seems to have everyone talking. The buzz about FSoG covers a lot of territory, from fanfic (where this book allegedly originated) to women reading erotic romance. And I walked away from each post learning something I didn't know before.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Posed As A Woman, Stole Identity, For Medical Care

A homeless man in California is accused of stealing a woman's identity for 13 years and racking up more than $100,000 in medical care expenses.

Police in San Clemente say they found Perla Serrano -- who appeared to be a woman -- sleeping Sunday in a public area. But a deputy noted a hospital wristband with a different name than the one the person gave.

Read More Here...

I can't even imagine what kind of medical care this person could receive without having a healthcare professional figure out he wasn't really a woman.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Release Day: Cowboy Howdy

Cowboy Howdy is the newest release from It's a short story, and can be purchased on most web sites where e-books are sold. Here's a link to ARe and to Loveyoudivine. I'm a little surprised, because it already got a silver star on ARe and that doesn't usually happen often. Huge thanks to those who've bought it already!!

Here's the blurb, and I'll post more over the weekend with excerpts. If anyone has any questions about the product description, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment.

Payne is a typical gay guy from New York City, with the right haircut, clothes, and attitude. He spends a great deal of time keeping his slim body smooth and well-toned for strong, dominant men. Although he’s not looking forward to his new roommate at first, he soon discovers things could have been much worse. The minute Payne meets Howdy he can’t take his eyes off his huge shoulders, long legs, and the bulge in his jeans. Howdy’s thick Texas accent and his authentic cowboy hat make Payne cover his crotch with a sweatshirt. When he finds out Howdy is there to play football, Payne wants to bury his face in Howdy’s jock strap. In fact, Howdy is the full grown man of Payne’s dreams and he considers seducing him the first day they meet. This leads to an interesting experience that may wind up changing the rest of their lives. Will these two full grown consenting adults fall in love and will Howdy accept Payne’s romantic, subtle advances? Or will he find them repulsive and move out that night?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Joe Konrath's Blog, Amazon, and My Quiet Venture

Although Joe Konrath isn't the reason why I've become so interested in self-publishing on Amazon, I've been a fan of his blog and his opinions/reactions on the subject. Especially his most recent blog post, here. Coming from a background in "traditional" publishing, I tend to focus more on my readers than I do other authors. The main perk for me with self-publishing on Amazon would be I could offer my books and stories at a much lower price, and have control over all the content...for my readers. I have one wonderful reader who has been corresponding with me for a while now. This reader suffered medical problems a few years back and was left with disabilities. I want people like this to have affordable e-books, and with regard to amazon publishing I like knowing the author can control his prices. Even though my e-books with digital first publishers are nowhere near as high as e-books are with "traditional" publishers, I often wonder how many pass by my books and choose another because they have e-book budgets they have to follow. I know I do this with books I want. And I've passed on quite a few that I thought would push me over the lines I set for buying e-books. I wouldn't, however, pass on a .99 e-book.

I haven't done it (not even with a pen name), but self-publishing with Amazon is something I've been looking into for a while. I haven't made any set decisions yet, but I will make one small announcement in the coming weeks on the topic. It's not going to rock the world and I'm not going to start slamming all my friends on social media with announcements and spam. It's just a small, quiet venture I've been thinking about for a while. I love all the publishers I work with and my interest in self-publishing on Amazon has nothing to do with whether or not I'm satisfied with the results I see from my publishers. I am satisfied and I hope to continue to work with them for as long as they want me. I love them all. But the thought of having complete control is just too interesting to ignore. And the thought of being able to offer a brand new release...not a backlisted book...for .99 to my readers is even more appealing.

If you're like me, and you've been interested in learning more about Amazon, please take the time to check out the blog post I linked to above by Joe Konrath. I can promise you one thing, it's not the kind of material you're going to read on literary agent blogs or "traditional" publishing blogs. I do think it's still too soon to make huge predictions about the future of publishing (although I did make the same predictions Konrath made a few years ago, while a good friend in publishing sat at my dinner table and laughed at me when I said e-books would only continue to grow, and that's why I got into digital first publishing about seven years ago in spite of being laughed at). Konrath's POV is just different than what you've been seeing for so long, based on his own personal experience. And I can tell you this for certain, and this has nothing to do with the future of publishing, based on my own personal experience with digital publishing, Konrath has been telling the truth about what has been happening in the past ten years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

PayPal's Newest Policy on Erotica

From Techcrunch: PayPal has decided to update its policy regarding erotica. Here's the link. And here's another link to PayPal's statement.

This part of PayPal's statement interests me:

“Instead of demanding that e-book publishers remove all books in a category, we will provide notice to the seller of the specific e-books, if any, that we believe violate our policy,” he notes. “We are working with e-book publishers on a process that will provide any affected site operator or author the opportunity to respond to and challenge a notice that an e-book violates the policy.” It says it has not shut down any accounts of e-book publishers as a result of this situation.

A few weeks ago one of my books was removed/banned because of harmless words in tag line, not actual "banned" content. I wrote several posts about it here. I wonder how many others had to deal with this. I have a feeling I wasn't the only one.

Mark Coker from smashwords said this:

“This is a big, bold move by PayPal. It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction. It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.”

I agree with Mr. Coker. This is a huge move by PayPal. And it not only protects the rights of both writers and readers, it protects the rights of innocent people who get caught in the middle for no justifiable reason.

Please take the time to read the article I linked to in full. It's short and it's worth knowing all the facts. It's also interesting to see how PayPal updated their policy after Visa and MasterCard made public statments saying they had nothing to do with PayPal's original decision to censor.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Deer In The Headlights by Levi Johnston

In January I posted about reading Levi Johnston's "Deer in the Headlights," and I wanted to follow up with a short post about the book.

I'm giving it five stars and there's a reason for this. It's an easy read, it sounds honest enough, and I'm glad I got to read Levi's side of the story. He seems like a simple, uncomplicated guy, and for him to take on the task of actually getting a book of his own out I think is commendable in itself. I don't mean that in a snarky way either. I know how hard it is to write a book, and I've never even tackled a memoir. Most young guy Levi's age don't even read books let alone write them. For that alone he would have received at least four stars from me. And even if he had help with the book, he did it.

If Levi wanted to get his story out and show what he's really like with this book, as opposed to what's been written about him in the mainstream media and said by the Palin family, he succeeded. This post is not a knock against the Palin family. I'm not a political person (I don't trust any politician.)But as I've said before, you don't get to the position of becoming Governor of a state the size of Alaska...or any size for that being a simple girl with a simple dream. The Palin family, good old simple Todd included, are hardcore players and all that simple working man nonsense never passed with me. I could say the same thing about our current President, or anyone out there in a position of political power. It simply stands to reason. We aren't talking about simple down home folk when it comes to winning in politics.

But I did find a certain amount of innocence in Levi's book, where he was thrown, pardon the cliche, in with the wolves and they ate him up alive...or at least they tried. I believe his descriptions about certain family members. I like that I didn't get a sense of bitterness either. After all he's been through, he sounds as if he's still basically a nice person who is willing to maintain a balance and give credit where it is due, which is more than most in his position would have done. In fact, I didn't come away from the book thinking how terrible the Palin family is. I came away with the same thought I had before I started the book: these are complicated, powerful, ambitious people who know how to get what they want through determination and manipulation. I'm not being snarky about that either. Without ambitious people like Sarah and Todd Palin we wouldn't get anything done.

I didn't get the impression Levi was on the defensive, which is more than I can say about other books like this. Though I'm sure he could have sounded that way, it sounded more to me as if he came to terms with his situation and put an end to it with this book. Or, at the very least, he came to terms and showed us who he is. I could be wrong. I could be reading far more into this than I'm supposed to be reading. But I like to think that people write books like this to tell their stories, share their personal feelings, and let the world know who they are. I believe he did this in DITH and he did it well, too. I would recommend the book to anyone as well written, fast paced, and nicely executed. And I'm going to give it five stars because it deserves all that and more.

Parody, Pygmalion, and Retelling Classic Storylines

Although most people know what parody is, I find that there are some who don't. So I wanted to write a short post about it, keeping it as simple as possible. (Even though writing parody isn't simple to do.)

According to Wiki, this is parody:

A parody ( /ˈpærədi/; also called pastiche, spoof, send-up or lampoon), in current use, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation. You can read more about it here.

A good example of parody would be the logo above, of MTM Enterprises. This was a parody of the old MGM logo, and clearly done very well.

Parody is something that has been done for a long time, and will continue to be used over and over again.

Pygmalion comes from Greece. The story has been retold many, many times by authors like George Bernard Shaw.

In George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, a modern variant of the myth with a subtle hint of feminism, the underclass flower-girl Eliza Doolittle is metaphorically "brought to life" by a phonetics professor, Henry Higgins, who teaches her to refine her accent and conversation in social situations.

Retelling this story isn't something new. I did it, with a cast of all gay characters, in my book "My Fair Laddie." The title of my book was a parody of the play, "My Fair Lady," and I retold the story just like Shaw did, with gay characters, plenty of erotica, and distinct differences in the storyline so that it would work for gay men. You can read more about Pygmalion here.

The film, "Pretty Woman," is a classic retelling of the Cinderella story.

A modern-day retelling of the Cinderella story, PRETTY WOMAN catapulted its star, the then 23-year-old Julia Roberts, into the film stratosphere. Her portrayal of Vivian, the call girl whose low self-esteem disallows her from thinking she can live any other way, was popular not only with men but also women, seeing in her their own insecurities and vulnerabilities.

You can read more about it here.

When I wrote "Pretty Man," I did the same thing, with all gay characters, a bulter, and plenty of erotica that no one's done before. I changed the characters completely, changed the setting, reworked the entire storyline. But I did use parody with the title. I thought my gay readers would enjoy reading the Cinderella story about gay men for a change. We rarely get an opportunity like that. All those deep, emotional, dark books about gay men are great. We love m/m romances with cupackes, cute kiddies, and ribbons and bows and picnic baskets filled with puppies and kittens. We really love them. But we like to have a little fun every now and then, too...with plenty of sex!!

These are just basic concepts of parody and retelling. For those who already know this, I hope I added something in the links that said something new so I didn't bore you to death. For those who don't know anything about parody, or how classic stories have been retold in very different ways, I hope I taught you something.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Visa (And MasterCard Now) Responds to Letter About PayPal Regarding Book Banning

(Update: Here's something from this comment thread, left by Banned Writers, I wanted to add to this post: "We have now received a letter from MasterCard saying pretty much the same thing: they aren't behind PayPal's policy." You can get there from here to read the entire post and the letter from MC. For those who don't know, this was PayPal's comment.)

Banned Writers sent a letter to Visa and they received a response. The book banning issue gets better each time I read something new. For a while there I almost believed it was the credit card companies pressuring PayPal.

Thank you for your email regarding PayPal’s recent decision to limit the sale of certain erotica content. First and foremost, we want to clarify that Visa had no involvement with PayPal’s conclusion on this issue. Nor have we seen the material in question. This fact is made clear by PayPal’s recent blog post where it states that its own policies drove the decision.

To read more, click here.

Talk about passing the buck. Now I'm not sure whom to believe.

All I can say is authors and publishers make sure your tags, titles, and blurbs don't contain anything that would cause a search engine to put you on the banned list. I'd hate to think that a children's book titled "Dad's Favorite Little Girl," that was written for children was banned because a book retailer trusted a search engine to decide which books are banned and which aren't.

Joanna Trollope: Guess She's Not Too Fond of E-books

According to Ms. Trollope, "you cannot love a library of e-books." I read about it in The Telegraph.

The article says this:

"She (Trollope) also claimed the rise of e-books was “homogenising” literature by putting the works of Leo Tolstoy and Katie Price, the glamour model, on the same screen."

I don't really understand that statement. I really don't. I've read Tolstoy and Snookie on my e-readers and never even thought of comparing the two. In fact, had it not been for the e-reader I probably wouldn't have read half the classics I have read in the past few years. Then the article goes on to quote Ms. Trollope about the weight of books and something about how authors visualize books while they are writing them. Maybe it's generational, but I don't get anything about the these preferences between print and digital. The only thing I didn't see in the article...I may have missed this because to be honest I skimmed a good deal...was that she didn't get into the smell of print books. This is a smell that has passed me by. And I don't think I'll ever understand why so many people crave this smell.

Of course Ms. Trollope has a right to her opinion and I do respect it. The great thing is now we can all choose between print and digital and get the best of both worlds. The problem is that's not going to last. If you don't believe me, take a look at little kids these days and see what they are doing. Right now the discussion about e-book and print book is relevant. But fifty years from now, when all kids will be reading digital, and will be reared by parents and grandparents who started on digital books, I doubt this will even be a discussion. It might even be a joke.

But what really surprised me were the comments left on this article. It's been a long time since I've seen such strong opinions about e-books.

Absolute balderdash! EBook sales are already way ahead of hardback sales, and before long eBooks will dominate the publishing market. So no matter what she thinks, the iPad and the Kindle will pretty much replace paper, and soon.... And the idea that the heft of a book is an indication of quality.... good grief! Obviously a woman who thinks that size matters :-)

Stupid woman. "You cannot love a library of e-books". Yes, I can. I do. Welcome to the future, Ms. Canute! I suspect that the real reason why she is against e-books is financial - something to do with the royalties.

There are more comments and most seem to be in favor of digital over print. I think it's worth checking out. Just for the sake of the fact that there seems to be one thing in common among published print authors who've been around for a while: they don't like e-books, and they will give you tons of emotional excuses as to why they don't like them, but I've never seen a practical reason. And I have to wonder if one reason they don't like them is because of all the competition they've been getting in recent years.

In the article, Trollope also said this:

I don’t think we should worry. There is a great excitement at the moment [about e-books] but I’m not sure we’ll be so excited in three years’ time. And children like books. They like looking at a line of Anthony Horowitzes and saying, 'I’ve read every one of those’.”

I've wondered about this, too. I'll admit that I wasn't sold on e-books in the beginning either. But, like I said earlier, if you have any doubts take a look at what kids are doing these days. I doubt Ms. Trollope, or anyone else, is going to make them stop reading e-books, working/playing on computers, and finding ways to learn in a world that is constantly moving forward. And when you see what these kids can do young as two years's fascinating to watch.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Simpson, "Condor and the Crown," and Dreamspinner Press

My partner Tony has been asking me to write this post for a while and I finally decided to set the time aside and just do it. Tony is a huge fan of John Simpson's work and I've known John through social media for a few years.

The last book of John's that Tony read was "Condor and the Crown," and he raved about it so much I've put it on my own endless TBR list. So while I haven't read the book, and I'm not going to review anything right now, I am posting this little piece about John to let readers know how Tony feels about him...and his work. And, trust me, Tony has strong opinions about what he reads. I rarely hear him say he actually loved something. For that matter, I rarely see him talk about books he's read often. With John's work he never stops talking. I've even heard him recommend John's work to friends at dinner parties.

From what I know about John, a good deal of his work is published with Dreamspinner Press. I have never published anything with Dreamspinner, nor do I have any plans in the near future to publishing anything with them. But I've only had positive experiences reading Dreamspinner books. In fact, last year I collaborated with an author who writes a great deal with Dreasmspinner, Andrew Grey. I'm a huge fan of Andrew and his fiction. The other books I've read published by Dreamspinner were just as excellent.

But this post is about John Simpson, who I find both charming and intelligent on a personal level. And I want to focus on that right now. When I first met him on facebook, I remember how polite and cautious he was. He didn't slam me with promos about his books, he tried to get to know me instead. He's also active in his community and gives back all the time. He's also very honest and you always know where you stand with him. We have similar backgrounds in the sense that we've both been published by Alyson Books...and he's been with his partner for 36 years and I've been with mine for twenty. Even though there's an age difference, I'm sure that when we do finally meet in person...which we will...we'll find we have even more in common. He recently asked me about a cruise this spring he's going on with his partner. Tony and I spend time in Miami Beach off and on during the winter and the times didn't work out. But I have a feeling it would have been a great trip.

Here's a short bio:

John Simpson is a Vietnam Era Veteran, former Police Officer of the Year, a Federal Agent, a Federal Magistrate, an armed bodyguard to Saudi Royalty, a senior Federal Government executive, and recipient of awards from the Vice President of the United States and the Secretary of Treasury.

John feels that for too long fiction writers neglected gay men. John writes entertaining, enjoyable, and enthralling fiction centered on the lives and lifestyles of gay men. John allows his readers to see life through gay mens' eyes. And just like real life, John's characters have active and exciting sex lives. John calls on his broad personal and professional experience in writing gay erotica. John is author of numerous full length novels available through Dreamspinner Press, TeB and Naughty Nights Press and several short stories in Alyson Books anthologies. Additionally, John has just signed on with Silver Publishing who will be putting out short stories and novellas. John has written magazine articles for gay and straight audiences alike.

John lives with his partner of 36 years who he legally married in 2008, and their three Scottish Terriers. John is highly involved with the Church, specifically seeking to repair rifts between Christendom and the gay community.

John wishes to extend a very special thanks to his many female readers. He appreciates and loves the fact women enjoy male/male erotica, and he thanks you for your past and continued support. He hopes to never disappoint you, and always leave you wanting more!

John now has a total of 16 full length novels in print!

Some of the short stories previously published by Alyson Books include:

"The Virgin Marine," "The Acropolis of Love," "The Tower," "The Serpent," "Locker Room Heat," "Campus Steam," "Lust in the Sand," and now "Love on the Rocks," for the "Island Boys," edition. Additionally, he has written numerous articles for various gay and straight magazines.

John has five short stories available through Dreamspinner Press: "The Smell of Leather,", "The Sheriff", "Fairy Tale", and the very popular "Officers in Need," and "That's the Ticket." Check them out today! A sixth short story, "Uniform Hardness," which continues the story started in "Officers in Need," is now available through Dreamspinner Press. If these stories don't rock your boat, you're in dry dock!

Having signed with an additional publisher, Silver Publishing, John's first short story for Silver, "Piece of the Universe," has just been released, along with "The Duke of Orleans," a novella, now out, and "Spanking for Love," and "Home Sweet Home," also out now. John has also just signed with TeB publishing which will publish the jointly written novel with A.J. Llewellyn, "My Yakuza," and written by himself, "Undefeated Love." Look for numerous new titles coming soon!

Here's a link to John's website, and another where you can check out his books at Dreamspinner Press. If you're looking for gay fiction written by someone with experience, take the time to check him out. According to Tony, you won't be disappointed.

And I believe that John not only deserves my praise, but also my respect.