Thursday, May 31, 2012

Question From a Reader...

I'm lucky in the sense that I have a regular correspondence with a lot of my readers, especially because I write in a genre known for its discretion.

The fact that most readers don't leave reviews or comments in public because they read erotica or erotic romance discreetly doesn't always mean they don't sometimes contact authors. I have a huge file set up just for e-mails readers have sent me over the years. And sometimes they ask the most interesting questions.

This one came earlier today. I would never disclose the name or identity of the reader because that would be about as unethical as it gets. But I asked if I could print the question in a blog post and the reader said it was fine.

What is the most unusual review you've ever had?

The most unusual review I've ever had was about my book prices. I once had a review on Amazon where a reader left one star, without buying or reading the book, and then left a comment in the review section complaining about the price of the book. If I recall correctly, the publisher was running a sale that week and the book was cheaper there than on Amazon. I know that sucks. But authors don't have any control over how their books are priced...anywhere. It's not like I can dictate to a publisher how my books should be priced. So I thought it was unusual that someone would leave a comment like that, either assuming I did have control over pricing, or not caring about the fact that I had no control over pricing. Either way, it had nothing to do with the book, the story, or the quality of the book.

There's nothing wrong with an unusual review. I'm sure that one unusual review that's going to really floor me has yet to even happen. And I'm sure there will be another after that as well. So I don't mind unusual reviews in the least. While I don't learn much from them because most don't make sense, I'm not surprised when I see them. And because I plan to be around writing the same books I've been writing for the past twenty years for the next twenty years, I'm sure there are more unusual reviews on the way.

A good friend of mine once said this: career writers aren't like hobby writers. Career writers don't retire, they expire.

A Word of Advice for Authors...

Of course I can't tell anyone what to do. And I'm not trying to do this in this post. I'm just stating what I do, and how I deal with my own personal accounts.

I've seen more than a few blog posts and articles about disgruntled authors going off the deep end and ranting about bad reviews. It seems to be happening more and more these days in all genres. And the only thing these rants really do is provide fodder for snarky, ambitious bloggers who will do anything to get more hits and comments.

But sometimes, as Lucy and Ethel as these bloggers are, they do have a point. Ranting diminishes all authors, it provides perverse entertainment, and it takes the fun out of reading and reviewing for readers. And I hate to see that happen to readers. I also do believe that most reviews are authentic, good or bad.

I know there is a certain amount of subterfuge in reviewing these days in all directions. It's the way things are set up now. But that's not what this post is about. There's no viable way to stop the subterfuge, especially by ranting.

Authors need to be aware of ethics, like all professionals in every walk of life. The way I do it is to NOT have multiple accounts on goodreads or amazon, or anywhere else. I have one Amazon account I use for everything, with "Ryan Field." I have one Goodreads account I use for everything, with "Ryan Field."

This way when I leave a review or a rating it can be traced back to me and I have nothing to worry about. No one can accuse me of sockpuppeting or faking reviews, and it gives me peace of mind to know that I can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. My goal as an author is to write, not play games. I hope people will like what I write, but I also know I'm not going to be loved by everyone. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So think ethics, not emotion. Don't sockpuppet or maintain multiple accounts anywhere. The next time you feel the urge to rant write an e-mail, send it to yourself, and read it the next day before you do anything in public. I can promise you that what you wrote in the e-mail the day before will be something you'll be glad you kept to yourself.

This Hurts My Heart: TV Show "Girls"...Gay Guy Smacking the Woman Upside Her Head

I'm going to start a regular feature on the blog titled, "This Hurts My Heart." Sometimes it will be parody, other times it will be real. In this post, I guess it's a combination of both.

First, I'd like to state that I'm against any form of violence across the board. I find all violence deplorable.

With that said, there's a new TV show out called, "Girls." It's an HBO original series and I would consider it a current version of "Sex in the City," with new adult characters. There were a lot of things about SITC I didn't like, especially the way gay men were treated like pet poodles. I can't say this about "Girls." I like most of what I see...but they still can't seem to get it right with the gay guys.

The show airs on Sunday night. I DVR and watch during the week. So I finally found time late last night to catch the most recent episode. The plot of this particular episode revolved around the three girlfriends going to a party in Brooklyn (I'm not invested enough yet to know their names). At one point, one of the girls runs into a guy she knows and they wind up outside on some kind of a bridge or crosswalk between two buildings. At the end of their conversation, the girl picks up an empty bottle and tosses it over the rail.

Of course the girl thinks they are alone. But the bottle lands on a group of rough guys from Brooklyn who are standing below the crosswalk. This is the interesting part. The nice straight guy who is up on the crosswalk with the girl who dropped the bottle apologizes and tries to be nice about it. But the girl offers no apology whatsoever. In fact, she's insulting, she's obnoxious, and she basically laughs in their faces. Which only pisses the rough guys from Brooklyn off even more.

A few scenes later, the rough guys from Brooklyn catch up with the nice straight guy and snarky girl who were up on the crosswalk, at the party. This is even more interesting. Instead of doing or saying anything to the girl who caused all the trouble, the rough guys from Brooklyn go after the straight guy she was with...the same guy who apologized to them. He gets the shit kicked out of him, while she stands there watching and she caused all the trouble.

I'll leave it at that, without comment.

Moving on to another scene that happens later, I see another one of the "girls" having a conversation with a gay guy she went to college with. She runs into him at the party and starts to unload a pile of emotional garbage on him and he's not interested in listening to her. When he tells her this, she attacks him with some very offensive comments. One comment the girl makes is so offensive the gay guy looses control. He lifts his arm, smacks her upside the head, and does it without a hint of remorse. I haven't seen anything like THIS since "Dynasty."

Aside from the fact that I'm against violence, I found it interesting that the straight rough guys from Brooklyn would never hit a woman...not even if she deserved at least a good kick in the ass for dropping a bottle on their heads and laughing at them. And yet somehow it's okay for the gay guy to smack a woman in the face for making a nasty comment about the way he speaks. There's something wrong with this picture on more than one level.

In one respect, I do think the writers of the show broke the double standard when it comes to violence in a general sense, and I think that's what they were trying to do. I'm thinking they were making a social comment in general. It's okay to hit a straight man, nothing wrong with that, even if he didn't do anything. But don't dare let a straight man hit a woman, even if she's wrong. Of course all violence is wrong, but you get the picture.

In another respect, they got it all wrong with the gay guy by using him as an example. They diminished gay men in a very clever way that most people might not notice. By allowing him to smack the woman in the face they made him less masculine than the rough guys from Brooklyn and promoted the age old stereotype that the gay man is one of the girls. But more than that, they turned the gay guy into a bad stereotype of a woman, which made it twice as offensive to both women and gay men.

Oh, it's entertaining. Let that prissy gay guy smack the dumb bitch. People will love it and we'll get higher ratings. But this sort of thing diminishes women, gay men, and makes straight men look like cave men. I do know...and understand...that on certain levels things like this can and do happen in real life. There are gay men who would smack women and it wouldn't be considered abusive in the same way it would if a straight man smacked a woman. But that doesn't really make it any less offensive (or abusive) to the gay men who wouldn't do something like anyone.

The basic moral of this post is that all violence is wrong. But the gist of the post is that it's just as wrong to turn gay men into bad stereotypes in order to make a point, and I'm getting tired of it. That scene where the gay guy smacked the woman in the face could have been written differently and they still could have made their point without insulting both gay men and women. Or for that matter, the previous scene with the straight rough guys from Brooklyn could have been handled much better. Instead of kicking the shit out of the straight guy who did nothing to deserve it, they could have poured a couple of bottles of beer over the straight girl's head and it would have been even funnier, and without physical violence. And all the straight guys watching the show would have enjoyed that scene a lot more than what actually did happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No "Hunger Games" Knock Off for Lev Raphael

When I received an e-mail notification for the article to which I'm linking below, I found it coincidental because I'd just written a post like it early this morning, here, titled "There's Only One "Fifty Shades of Grey," One "Peyton Place," and One "Brokeback Mountain."

This excerpt is only part of what Lev Raphael has to say on the topic of authors trying to repeat the success of books like "Hunger Games" and "Fifty Shades of Grey":

I also don't agree with people like blogger Jeff Goins who encourage young writers to imitate The Hunger Games -- which I enjoyed as an airplane read -- because it's "the future of writing." How can anyone be sure what people will be reading even next year? And why should people attempt work in a genre if that's not where their natural talent lies?

Passion is a key ingredient for any book. Now, you may be passionate about copying a current success so that you can be translated into two dozen languages and sell millions of books. But is that hunger as deep as writing what you really want to, writing from your heart, writing a story you feel nobody else in the world can tell but you? If it is, good luck!

Take the time to read more here. I couldn't agree more, and I'm glad I read it because it supports what I said this morning, which doesn't happen often. Evidently, I'm not the only one who is annoyed at all the bad advice going around these days.

Another Amazon Critic...Joe Wikert

I'm linking to this article because it discusses advertising, e-books, Amazon, and book prices.

But that isn't all it does.

It also insults self-published authors and small presses.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I believe we'll see ebooks on Amazon at fire-sale prices. I'm not just talking about self-published titles or books nobody wants. I'll bet this happens with some bestsellers and midlist titles.

I don't want to sound like Joe Konrath in this post, but I can see why he gets so pissed off. Seriously, this is major condescension. And it's getting tired now.

And, I'd like to know what's so bad about e-books being sold at lower prices, in volume, and creating more competition to get better books out for readers who have budgets and love to read e-books.

Evidently, the all so knowledgeable Joe Wikert never read a paperback novel back in the day. Publishers advertised in these paperbacks all the time and no one ever said anything about it. This isn't something new. They may still do this, but I haven't read a print book of any kind in so long I'm not sure.

A publisher that I work with advertises other authors and books on their list on my Amazon pages right below the product information for many of my books. I don't mind. Have a blast. Most of the time no one pays attention to those ads anyway. And frankly, I never read or purchased a book I'd seen advertised in the back of a paperback for that matter. I don't really think that kind of advertising works at all, in e-books or print books. But that's another post.

Joe even bashes the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, without explaining anything about it. He offhandedly makes it sound as if people are getting free e-books.

What Joe doesn't mention is that people like me have coupons for e-books on Kobo, and yet all the e-books I'd like to buy with those coupons don't count with big publishers. You know, the big publishers who are charging the outrageous prices of 12.99 and more for e-books. Yet they refuse to let readers take advantage of deals. But Joe never mentions this anywhere in the article. At one point, I almost started to cry for the big publishers.

I can't help thinking that Joe isn't getting the full concept of what's been happening in publishing, and how e-books have changed the entire landscape of reading in a general sense. In any event, it's an interesting piece for the sake of argument, especially the part about the DOJ. And Joe could be right for all I know. But so far, like them or not, Amazon has been on top of their game and they have been geared toward the reader and the author, not the publisher. And there are people out there who don't like that.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There's Only One "Fifty Shades of Grey," One "Peyton Place," And One "Brokeback Mountain," Folks

First, this isn't about my personal feelings for FSoG...or any of the books mentioned in the title. It isn't even really about FSoG in a general sense. I've already posted that I liked the book...and I read it before it went mainstream. You can do a search if you don't trust me because I'm too lazy right now to link to those posts.

What I'm talking about in this post is oriented more toward facts about big books than my own personal feelings. I have seen more than a few articles and posts within the publishing community about FSoG. I've seen blog posts, I've seen calls for authors asking them to write books like FSoG, I've seen workshops for FSoG advertised on social media, and I've seen a slew of comments about how much FSoG is going to do for the erotic BDSM market. It's been a while since I've seen so many jump onto that proverbial bandwagon, all hoping they have the next FSoG.

What I haven't seen is a look back at other big books like FSoG. First, FSoG was tame by my standards, so it makes perfect sense to me that a book like this would crossover to the mainstream. The fact that they called it "Mommy Porn," speaks loudly enough. It's not what I would consider strong erotica, or any kind of porn. So the "Mommy Porn" angle is merely a tongue-in-cheek play on words not meant to be taken seriously. The one thing I could be wrong about is the level of erotic heat necessary to be considered the mainstream. Maybe my standards of erotica are too strong? As I've stated, I haven't read many BDSM books like FSoG, and the only reason I did read it was because I saw a review for it that sparked my interest weeks before it went mainstream.

After reading so many opinions about FSoG, I can't help thinking about books from the past that have jumped unexpectedly into the mainstream, with all the hype and promise that FSoG has had so far. If you go way back, way before my time, "Peyton Place," was one of those books. For its time period, PP had all the elements that FSoG has today. And yet as far as I know there was only one book like PP ever published with that kind of phenomenal success. I'm sure there were other books published like PP after it became so popular, but none ever reached the pinnacle of PP. Even the author of PP, Grace Metalious, never reached that level of success again.

A more recent example could be "Brokeback Mountain." When BM became a huge mainstream hit, everyone and his/her brother/sister started writing books/stories that would compete with it, hoping they would become just as big. Don't quote me on this, but I've heard that BM, through fanfic, led into the m/m romance genre. And BM didn't even have a happy ending, which is interesting in itself with respect to m/m romance. I wasn't paying much attention to BM at the time. I didn't even know there was such a thing as fanfic. I was writing gay fiction as I had been doing for years, while interviewing gay bloggers as a staff member for, never even realizing that BM would inspire so many.

But since then there has been only one BM, even though millions have tried to duplicate its success with other original books...just like PP. The good thing is that indirectly BM did open up avenues for authors of m/m romance. I was thrilled to see it did that. It opened up avenues for all writers of gay fiction. I do think that FSoG will also open up doors for authors who write light BDSM books as well. But I'm not banking on another FSoG breaking into the mainstream any time soon, at least not with the same kind of success FSoG has seen. And when I see things that imply there will be more big books like FSoG, I hesitate to take them seriously.

If there is another big book like FSoG I'll be shocked. I could list other books that have become popular like FSoG, PP, and BM (Twilight?), but the main point is that some things just can't be duplicated no matter how hard we try. Sometimes there is no explanation no matter how deeply we analyze it. History does repeat itself. And there will be another big book that has the success of FSoG, just like there was PP and BM. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict what type of book that big book will be. Everyone seemed to think it might be zombies for a while. I haven't seen that happen yet.

Facebook Shares Drop...

The main reason I'm following all the attention facebook is getting is because I'm fascinated at what will be the outcome of social media. I think the final outcome of facebook will set a precedent. So far there are too many predictions and there's not enough evidence. I have my own opinions, but I'm not going to share.

Let's just say I'm not investing any of my own money in facebook stock right now (well, maybe just a little, because I couldn't resist).

What worries me is I remember the late 90's - early 2000's, when all the Internet stocks that were supposed to bust wide open all tanked. I know too many people who lost too much money back then. It changed their lives to the point where some were never able to recover. Trust me, I knew more than a few who were going to become instant millionaires with their "dot coms." The problem was they didn't know what the hell they were doing.

What bothers me is that I have this feeling a lot of people don't know...or understand...the magnitude of facebook and social media. All they know is what they read, hear, and see from the mainstream media...which is lame at best. I didn't put up that old man in the photo above by accident. And I didn't mean it as a slur to facebook.

Here's an article from CNET about the latest happenings with facebook.

Facebook's shareholders can't catch a break.

The company's stock today is trading down to $29.44, shedding $2.46, or about 8 percent, of its market-opening price. The decline comes the same day trading on Facebook was opened to the options market. According to Dow Jones, about 162,000 Facebook options were traded by 9 a.m. PT this morning.

Facebook's continuing decline has struck fear among investors, who wonder how low the company's shares might fall. Facebook went off earlier this month at $38, only to watch its stock plummet in subsequent days. At its current price, Facebook shares are down more than 23 percent since the IPO.

It's worth reading the entire article, in full. There are some very interesting links.

Update on Post about Reviewing a Book Without Reading It...

Journalist Linda Ellerbee used to end her segments with, "And so it goes..."

That's often how I feel when I see things happening that are more than questionable these conflict of interest with reviewers? Trust me on this, if you dig deep enough you're always going to find a skeleton. Typcially, it's the loudest voices with the most to hide.

But sometimes I see things that stun me. Last week I posted about someone who left a review for a book he/she hadn't read.

And this week six people have replied to that review.

At least there's still sanity left in the world. Kudos to those who did take the time to leave their comments.

Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street, Light BDSM, and a Mom and Dad Dealing with Grief

Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street isn't like anything I've written in the past. First, because the erotic subplot gets into light BDSM. I've talked about how I've never written BDSM before on this blog, and I've also talked about the fact that I'm curious about how it's written. For a long time, I always thought of BDSM books as having highly erotic covers, with dark images clad in leather and chains. I also thought of the storylines as being more intense, in the sense that everything revolved about the sexual nature of the story.

In this case, that's not what JSoDS is about. The BDSM is erotic, but I get into more about role-playing than any of the hardcore BDSM. According to wiki, this is how BDSM is defined. Jonah is a virgin when he meets David, so I didn't want to get into anything that might be too deep for him. I also talked to a few people I know who are into BDSM in order to get first hand interpretations of what they consider BDSM. Two guys I know have a secret "playroom" in their basement that was designed and fitted by a well known construction company in my area who does these things, on the downlow, for people who are willing to pay enough to have them installed. In any event, I discovered a whole new world that left stunned more than once.

So while there is light BDSM in this book, and the main plot revolves around the love and the often complicated relationship between the two main characters, Jonah Sweet and David Abernathy, I wanted to add something more emotional. Something that most readers could relate to...a subplot that would humanize David and make people like him. He's not an easy man. He's a self-made billionaire who tends to treat people like dirt. He's not only a master in his world of BDSM, but also in the business world and every other aspect of his life. In fact he welcomes confrontation so much he looks forward to firing people. There's a reason for his behavior, which I can't mention because it would spoil the book.

There's also a secret about David's past that not many people know about. It's something that happened to him a few years before we meet him in the book. It takes a while for Jonah Sweet to actually find out what this is. But when he discovers this secret involves a little boy in a wheel chair and a mom and dad who can't stop grieving, he sees David Abernathy in a different light. And this moves their relationship forward in a way Jonah never expected.

Here's a version of the blurb, below. I wanted the book to have the BDSM elements, but I also wanted it to be a lighter book that isn't the run of the mill BDSM story. And I wanted the two main characters who get into BDSM to be equals when they aren't having sex, where no one is dominant or submissive. In other words, Jonah may be willing to get tied up and spanked in David's state of the art "playroom" on Delancey Street in New York City. But he's not willing to be tied up, so to speak, when he's out in the real world with David. And it takes David a long time to realize that if he wants Jonah to stick around, he has to learn how to stop controlling everyone and everything.

The book will be available through the Amazon KDP program sometime in June. As soon as I know the release date, I'll post about it. It's a full length novel, and will be offered for .99, as I did with "Chase of a Lifetime." And it's still a very humble venture and I'm still learning more about self-publishing as I go. I'd also like to add, just for the record, I had many reasons for self-publishing my fiction this past year. The least of which had to do with being bitter about traditional publishing. I still love working with publishers and I have nothing negative to say about them. I think agents are invaluable, if you can find the right one. I just like having the control sometimes, and that's as simple as I can explain it.

The photo above is just a stock photo I found and will not be the cover for the book. But the one thing I'm telling the cover artist is that I don't want the typical BDSM book cover with dark images and people in leather and chains. And the LAST thing I want is a cover with a naked male torso.

Jonah Sweet has a secret need to be dominated and punished, with whips and chains and leather cuffs. He also has a graduate degree in puppetry from a good university, but can’t find a job and is still with his mom and dad in Queens. So he signs up for cooking school, hoping to learn a trade. But it’s nothing like he thought it would be and he winds up flunking everything from cutlery to hard-boiled eggs. The only other skill Jonah has is the ability to read other people's thoughts, which he knows isn’t going to get him very far.

On the day of an important cooking exam, Jonah meets David Abernathy, the owner of the cooking school and a billionaire who owns restaurant chains, casinos, and real estate. The harder Jonah tries to impress David the worse it gets. But handsome David Abernathy sees something in Jonah. With no explanation at all, David sets Jonah up in an office, buys him a brand new wardrobe, and brings him into his unusual home on Delancey Street.

Though Jonah is stunned by all this, he’s even more stunned by the fact that he can’t read David Abernathy’s thoughts. But Jonah is in no position to turn any offers down. He takes the job in spite of David’s rude, nasty disposition and his erratic rants. From there they enter into an unusual relationship filled with light bondage and discipline and more love than either one of them could ever have imagined.

When David introduces Jonah to a little boy in a wheel chair and explains his past, Jonah only falls deeper in love with David. He discovers a gentle side of David no one knows about. But will intense love and exotic sex be enough to compensate for David’s complicated personality and his vicious need to control everything? And will Jonah ever be able to put up with David’s public outbursts and his violent moods?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Things All Guys Find Sexy...Gay or Straight

When I read the article to which I'm linking right now, my first thought was that this kind of thing could set feminism back three decades.

But, after I'd finished reading it occurred to me that each one of the 9 things listed that straight guys find attractive could be used for gay men as well. When I thought back to when I was single and dating, these are a lot of the things I was looking for in a partner.

Voice, walk, and sharp wit are big on my list of attractive features in a guy. And dancing is important, too, because there's nothing that turns me off more than someone who thinks he can dance and can't. That ridiculous bouncing around to music without any rhythm or skill will lose me all the time. If I'd seen Tony do that in the night club where I met him twenty years ago, I'd still be single today.

I love an adventurous spirit, but I also like a little shyness as well. Nothing ever turned me off more than a guy who was too pushy too soon. Aggressive is good. Strong is good. But don't push me unless you know what's good for you, especially in the beginning. Though I'm not sure about smell (that's the one thing on the list that is a little me), laugh is important to me. In fact, the sound of someone's voice can either be a huge turn on or turn off. I have an ex-sister-in-law with a voice like a broken chain saw. How my poor brother lived with THAT for sixteen years will always pass me by.

And, communication is probably the most important factor. If you're in a relationship with someone you'd better be able to communicate with them well. Because when the newness of the sex wears off, and it always does, you're going to need something more to keep you from losing your mind.

I'm so glad I don't have to do this anymore. Being in a twenty year relationship that's like a marriage in every sense of the word makes me realize how lucky I am to have found not only my own HEA, but also the perfect life partner. But for those of you who are still single, I think these things listed in the article can be important when you first meet someone. And in this case, gay men aren't that much different from straight men.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Facts and History About Memorial Day...

Through twelve years of private school, four years of college, and another year of working toward a graduate degree, I never really learned the facts and history about Memorial Day.

I knew the basics just like everyone else. But never really heard any details about it.

Until I read this post.

Memorial day is a great way to remember our patriotic heroes who sacrificed their lives to help us breathe the air of freedom. This day is observed with families and friends visiting cemeteries and memorials to pay homage to their loved ones. Want to know more about this historic holiday? Read on to learn about the history of Memorial day and even pick up some fun facts to share with your friends and loved ones.

“Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Memorial Day History:

When was Memorial Day first celebrated? Memorial day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

Read more here...

Another Interesting Web Site: "Yaoi Research"

I found this web site last night. It's titled "Yaoi Research" and it gets into all kinds of interesting things, from Amazon and sex to defining M/M/ Romance.

The comment thread is just as interesting.

You can get there from here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Levi Johnston and THOSE So-Called Reliable "Sources"

I follow a great deal that happens in pop culture, not politics. It's always been something that fascinates me, where politics turns my stomach. I've posted before about Levi Johnston, after reading his book: "Deer in the Headlights."

So when I spotted this new article on Huff Post about Levi Johnston, I figured I'd share. And this time I'm commenting.

Of course the reliability of articles like this are questionable at best. Whenever I read "A source told the magazine," or, "the source said," without actually finding out who the said source is, I'm less inclined to take the article seriously. It happens more and more these days. Evidently, someone found out Levi Johnston attracts readers and attention and they ran with it.

Aside from the obvious, there's always a great deal left out of these articles people don't take into consideration. Just because someone makes a million dollars doesn't mean they actually get a million dollars. To assume that would be ridiculous. After taxes, and those inevitable attorney fees, not to mention agent and manager fees, that million dwindles down fast.

Besides all this, it's really no one's business what Levi Johnston is worth. He seems to be living a decent life, he seems happy with his new life, and his private affairs are his own business now. All I know is he wrote a damn good book that didn't get half the attention it should have.

Interesting Way to Recycle...

Found a great blog today, where it's all about recycling...everything.

You can check it out here. Bet you'll never guess what these things are.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Gallery on Ney Alley...

I've talked about my art gallery here before. But I never was much for taking photos. And now thanks to social media, I found a photo where I opened my first gallery in the age of twenty-two, fresh out of college, while commuting to New York to work for Conde Nast.

At the time, it was only a weekend business. But I moved to a location with more traffic a block away two years later to open the gallery full time. But I'll never forget the days I spent on New Alley. Oddly enough, for a place off the beaten path, business was very good. I once sold a pair of rock crystal sconces for five thousand dollars...during a hurricane!

Here's some history: Ney Alley was named after well known artist, Bill Ney. Back in the days of the Beat Generation, I've heard it was a place for artists of all kinds to hang out, including Allen Ginsberg. In the 1970's, these buildings were erected by the well known furniture designer, Jeffery Greene. Jeff and his wife, Valerie, were my landlords back in 1992. Although Valerie had a reputation, and people often called her "Dragon Lady" behind the scenes, I got a long with them both very well. She was a tough business woman I respected. And I still see them around town every now and then. Please keep in mind the photo below is recent. When I was there EVERYTHING was landscaped and perfect.

Just One More...

This could actually be a photo of the character in my upcoming story, "Something For Saint Jude," which I'll post more about next week.

Have a save weekend!

Photo removed due to possible infringement.

Dream Scene with Pregnant Guy in Virgin Billionaire's Little Angel

I've been busy and haven't talked much about this book at all. A reader and friend, Mary G., messaged me this morning about it and I decided to write a post that's long overdue.

I don't write dream scenes often, mainly because it's difficult to get into the sub-conscious mind of a character. I've always believed that the sub-conscious has no mind of its own, and that it picks up things along the way through the conscious mind when we don't even know it's happening. Hence, why I also believe there are no accidents in life.

So when I wrote the dream scene in The Virgin Billionaire's Little Angel I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to execute it. The problems were that Luis and Jase were trying for another child. Jase wanted a surrogate, and he wanted that surrogate to be Luis's best friend, Hillary. But Luis wasn't sure that's what he wanted. For those who have read other books in the series Luis and Hillary, though good friends, have always had a complicated relationship. And Luis has always resented the fact that Hillary can be pushy and take control of his good nature. The last thing he wanted was to have Hillary be the surrogate for their child, and then have Hillary force herself into their lives forever. She was always telling them how to raise their son, Hunter, and he wasn't even related to her.

This conflict in the storyline, among other things going on in Luis's life at the time, drives him to distraction. And one night, about the same time he starts to worry about his twin brother's health, he has a nightmare that shakes his entire life. All the things that have been happening to him for months finally come to the surface in this dream. But like all dreams, these things come out in a twisted, convoluted way. In the dream, Luis discovers that Jase, who made his billions inventing things, has invented a way for men to get pregnant. And Luis winds up being the surrogate for their unborn child. It's not something to be taken seriously at all. I wanted it to parody all the things happening in Luis's life at the time, and went more for humor than anything else. I also needed this lighter scene in the book because there's a very serious life and death incident coming in the following chapters.

Here's an excerpt from the dream scene in the book. This isn't the pregnant scene. It's the scene where Luis realizes he's going to be the surrogate. And this is the raw version, before edits. Nothing has been changed. It's just easier to copy and paste a Word doc to HTML than PDF.

In the dream, Luis woke in a cold room that was lit with harsh white lights, bright white walls, and a long row of windows that looked out to a pale gray sky. It smelled of rubbing alcohol and mild disinfectant. He heard people mumbling in low, deep voices somewhere behind him. He glanced down and saw he was wearing a white cotton hospital gown, the kind with the open back. He was lying on one of those examination chairs that reminded him of the dentist’s office. But he knew he wasn’t at the dentist. When he looked at his legs, he blinked. They were up in stirrups and spread so wide he felt a cool breeze on his bare ass. But even worse, he was wearing the same white high-heeled boots he’d worn in the photo shoot on Martha’s Vineyard.

He tried to sit up and lift his legs over the side of the chair, but his ankles were strapped to the stirrups and they wouldn’t budge. He moaned and tried to turn to see who was talking behind him but he wasn’t able to move. “What’s going on? Where am I?” His voice sounded hollow, as if on the verge of an echo in the large, empty white room.

The moment he spoke, Jase rushed to his side and reached for his hand. “You’re at the clinic in Philadelphia,” he said. “Don’t you remember? We came today so the doctor could implant the egg.”

Luis furrowed his eyebrows. “What egg? What doctor? Implant the egg where?” He didn’t like the sound of this at all.

The same doctor with the fuzzy hair he’d met with Jase at the surrogacy clinic in Philadelphia walked over to him and smiled. He patted Jase’s shoulder and said, “It’s normal. Sometimes they react this way while they are coming out of anesthesia. No need to be alarmed.” Then he crossed to the end of the chair, sat on a stool at the bottom of the table where Luis’s legs were in stirrups, and proceeded to put on beige rubber gloves.

Luis felt light-headed; everything around him was blurred and slightly distorted. He held Jase’s hand tighter and said, “Why was I under anesthesia? What’s going on here?”

Jase smiled and caressed his forehead with his other hand. “There’s nothing to worry about. You’re here for The Procedure, so you can carry our child. You had robotic surgery, and then the doctor implanted the egg. There’s only one step left and we’re all finished.”

“The Procedure?”

“Yes, don’t you remember it was my latest invention? I was going to work on a new and improved cheese maker, but decided that since we were interested in building a family I might as well invent a procedure where men can get pregnant and carry babies instead. It’s all the rage now. Gay men all over the world are getting it done. I hope we have triplets.”


“I wouldn’t mind quadruplets.”

Luis had always been proud of all Jase’s inventions. The man was a genius and his mind never stopped working on ways to change the world. But Luis didn’t remember this invention. “And I agreed to get pregnant?”

“Isn’t it wonderful,” Jase said. “You’re going to be the surrogate now, not Hillary or a stranger we don’t know. You’re going to be my sweet little pregnant husband.”

The doctor’s hands went between Luis’s legs and he started to probe Luis’s anus with something cold that felt like it was made out of metal. He smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Jase. This is a perfectly normal reaction. He’ll remember everything in an hour or so.”

“What the hell is he doing down there between my legs?” Luis asked.

Jase said, “Try to relax and settled down, Luis. There’s only one step left to get you knocked you up, and then we can go back to the farm and rest for the rest of the weekend. And just think, in a couple of months you’ll be pregnant and starting to show with our second child…or children if it is multiple births. Hunter is so excited he can’t stop talking about his new brother or sister, or both. You’re going to look so cute with a big fat belly.”

Luis trusted Jase completely. He knew Jase would never do anything to harm him. Though he didn’t remember anything about The Procedure, he knew that if Jase said he’d agreed to do this creepy thing he must have. The doctor’s head went down and he started probing Luis’s anus deeper with the cold metal instrument. It didn’t hurt; it just felt intrusive and peculiar. The most any doctor had ever done to his anus was check his prostate during a routine exam with his middle finger. For Luis, this was nothing.

While the doctor probed, he started to whistle, La donna e mobile. Luis glanced up at Jase and said, “I don’t feel any different. I just feel confused and out of it. You said they gave me The Procedure and implanted an egg?” He couldn’t seem to grasp the entire surrogacy concept.

Jase caressed his forehead again. “Yes, Hillary provided the egg. And the next step is to get the sperm. We’re doing that the old fashioned way because that’s what you wanted.”

“Hillary’s egg?” He almost moaned out loud. He wasn’t sure he’d want a child with Hillary’s pushy genes. And if his kid turned out anything like her high-strung Justin, he’d lose his mind for sure. Besides, he wanted to gag at the thought of Hillary’s egg inside his body.

“Wasn’t that nice of her? We’re going to do it the old fashioned way now.”

“The old fashioned way?”

Jase leaned forward so he could whisper. The doctor was still whistling La donna e mobile, probing Luis. “In a minute the doctor is going to allow a group of young interns to come in and I’m going to give you the sperm the old fashioned way.”

Luis’s temples began to pulse. The doctor’s whistling grew louder to the point where he pulled his hand away from Jase and covered his ears. He knew, intellectually, none of this made sense and yet it all seemed so real. As the doctor went deeper with the metal instrument, everything in the room distorted. The white walls tipped sideways; the ceiling began to rotate. Luis held his hands to his ears and closed his eyes as tightly as he could to drown out the whistling and stop the room from moving.

When he opened his eyes again, he was standing in the kitchen at Cider Mill Farm in his bare feet in front of the sink. He was wearing something he would normally never wear, not even to work outside in the garden: a loose baggy T-shirt with a character from Sesame Street on the front and over-sized cut off jeans that had long frayed strings hanging down to his knees. The T-shirt had stains and the jeans hung low on his waist. He glanced through the window and saw Isabelle and Mary sitting on the patio in white dresses, fanning themselves. Hunter was running around on the back lawn with a puppy Luis had never seen before. But it wasn’t a cute puppy. This one had green-gray patchy fur, bugged, lopsided eyes, ears that came down to his paws, and saliva dripping from his mouth. He pressed his palm to his torso and felt something peculiar. When he glanced down at his waist, he saw a huge mound that had to be at least forty-four inches round.

Jase came up from behind, looking sexier and better than he’d ever looked before. He reminded Luis of the young version of Jase he’d once met after he’d dreamed he went back in time to when Jase was eighteen years old. Jase gave Luis a playful pat on the behind and said, “How’s my chubby little husband doing today? Did I tell you today how much I love all the cellulite on the backs of your legs?”

Luis’s jaw dropped. He pressed his palm to the huge mound that used to be his perfectly thin, flat waist, and said, “I’m not sure how I’m doing.” He remembered being in the clinic and having The Procedure, but nothing in between then and now.

An Amazon Book Review That Takes the FU#%ing Cake!!

Before I get into anything else, the photo above is from If you haven't been there and checked out the great photos of cakes gone wild, you need to do this soon. Be prepared: you'll need plenty of time to browse.

About the Amazon book review. Sorry, it's not a bad review for one of my books and I'm not going to meltdown and rant with overused Internet-isms like WTF-ery, and Headdesk.

The Amazon book review I'm talking about was written for a book I've been planning to buy. I do not know the author, nor will I ever meet the author. And though I don't like to link to things like this because no one is paying me to advertise for them, in this case it's important to provide a link so readers can see what I'm talking about.

As I said, I'm planning to buy this book and I wanted to check out the reviews late last night. It's a fairly new release and I wasn't expecting to see a lot of reviews yet. And, I'm buying the book regardless of reviews because I've read the author's work in magazines and I like his style.

Of course I expected to see reviews that varied. But I never expected to see a gem like THIS:

No, I haven't read the book. I don't need to. The premise of the book is completely absurd. A grown man is assuming that there is something wrong with him just because he doesn't fit into the conventional idea of a father, and that he needs to change. Just because we have a conventional view of what a father should be doesn't mean you should change yourself to fit into that. Also, you have NO idea whether or not the baby will pop out wanting to do conventional male things. Nothing about being manly makes you a good father. Being a good father is about providing guidance, and listening to what your child wants and needs. I personally feel very strongly about this because I had a father who constantly tried to shove conventional gender roles down my throat, and it made my life much worse. It's sad to see someone going out of their way to write a book about it.

This reviewer also left a one star rating.

Admittedly, the author of this review didn't read the book. If he had read the book I wouldn't be writing this post and I would understand his/her feelings. I would respect them, too. But it's impossible to respect a review when the "premise" of the review is based on either assumption or hearsay. I've read DNF reviews before. I'm not fond of doing it, but I even once left a DNF review for one of the most poorly written m/m romances of all time...with solid examples of why I thought it was poorly written, and with my own name. I hope I won't have to do this again, but I will if I read something that awful again.

But I can tell you this for certain. One thing I will never do is leave a review for a book that I haven't read. That's like reviewing the performance of a car I've never driven, or reviewing a film I've never seen. Where is the credibility in a review like this? But more than that, how are reviews like this allowed to be published?

According to Amazon, this is their policy about reviews, verbatim:

As a retailer we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion on our products. Part of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts on items they have received.

I get this. It makes sense. But in this case the item in question...the book...was never received/purchased by the reviewer, by his/her own admission in writing. It's pure conjecture.

At first I found the review amusing. I buy popcorn at the circus just like everyone else. But after I thought about it for a while it just left me with a doomed feeling that's hard to describe. Because if authors are now supposed to deal with book reviews like this, written by people who haven't even read the book and have deep-seated emotional issues that stem from their troubled childhoods, we're all screwed.

And this brings me back to something I've said many times before on this blog. As readers we not only have to vet the books we are thinking of buying, but also vet the *reviews* for the books we are thinking about buying. The lack of ethics and standards with reviews just seems to be slipping downward on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

History in the Making: Fred Karger Still in the Race

When the president announced that he personally supported same sex marriage, history was made the moment he started speaking. Though I haven't heard anything since then from the Obama administration on same sex marriage, no one can deny that history was made that day. No other sitting president has ever gone that far.

I've stated before that I vote independently and never along party lines, so when I write posts like this I remain bipartisan and only offer facts, not opinions.

I see all kinds of nice things out there people are doing to support the LGBT community, which include events and posts and comments of support. A lot of it seems to have an underlying message: to sell books and author brands. But as long as the support is there, I can't complain. Any support is better than no support at all...even support that sometimes seems to defy the basics of public service.

But I don't see anything mentioned about Fred Karger, the first openly gay man in the history of this country who is running for president, and this still baffles me. So here are a few things I recently found out about him for those who might be inclined to acknowledge the fact that there is a gay man running for president, all found on his facebook page.


It's OFFICIAL I am on the Utah June 26th GOP Primary ballot. It's Mitt Romney v. Fred Karger - the last two running!


Fred goes after Exxon Mobil and high oil prices in California commercial on the air in LA, SF and SD counties for 5 days:

Link to Youtube.


LOS ANGELES, CA – GOP Presidential candidate Fred Karger will unveil his newest commercial tomorrow, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 11:00 am on the front steps of the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Romney as Pee-Wee to Karger web site.

Karger, who was part of President Reagan’s senior political team for seven years, compares a strong and decisive Ronald Reagan with Romney in the spot. The :30 second commercial begins running tomorrow for five days in the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco markets.

Karger is one of the only two remaining Republicans on the June 5th GOP Presidential Primary ballot. He is a resident of Laguna Beach, CA, making him the only California running for President. Karger calls Romney “weak and indecisive” in referring to Mitt Romney’s refusal recently to stand up to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. Fischer and other right-wing critics pressured Romney to let his newly appointed openly gay foreign policy spokesman Ric Grenell go.


The California Express parked with all the TV trucks when we were downtown to release our new commercial, "Pee Wee Romney"


HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Fred Karger, the first openly gay Republican presidential candidate in American politics, is making history again by releasing the first-ever campaign ad containing a gay kiss.

Karger, who has been shut out of all the presidential debates, has been running a humorous “Fred Who?” presidential campaign as he tours the nation to spread his message of fiscal conservatism and progressive social policies. Karger is pro-choice and in favor of marriage equality, which distinguishes him from GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

The 30-second commercial called “Sexy Frisbee” will air in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. A slightly longer version, posted on Karger’s YouTube page, can be viewed below.

Karger is the only Californian running for President, and is hoping that the anti-Romney crowd and the more moderate Golden State voters will support him on California’s primary ballot on June 5. The turnout should be high in San Diego, where a very competitive mayoral race among four top contenders includes two gay Republicans (Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis).

“This is our biggest and most exciting commercial to date,” Karger said. “It ends with a gay kiss, a first for a Presidential campaign commercial. My friends Andrew Reynolds and Michael Aguirre have been together for 7 years and I really appreciate their history making smooch.

Link to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

6 hours ago:

A stop by L A Chinatown post press conference downtown.

Seamen Swinging on Deck

Shut Your Hole

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Interesting Concept for Reviews in General

I've always maintained one single account for the web sites where I review or rate...anything. On Amazon I have one single account, under my own name, Ryan Field, that I'm sure could be traced if it had to be. On Goodreads, it's the same scenario. Just one GR account, with my real name and identity, not a fake. I do sometimes comment on threads as anon in blog discussions, or with a fake name. But not often, and only when I don't think it's important for my identity to be revealed. Sometimes there are reasons to do these things. For example, (I know you're waiting for a reason) I follow and love one blogger who writes middle grade fiction. I don't think it's appropriate for me, due to the subject matter of what I write, to comment on his middle grade thread. I love his work, and yet he doesn't even know who I am.

To make this point even clearer, right now I'm using a pen name for a book that's been difficult to write. The publisher asked me to use the pen name; it wasn't my choice. I'm not fond of doing this, I don't like doing this, and I've basically done nothing to promote that book. I've tried to get into it. I've tried to promote the book and the pen name. But it's not working. At this point in my career, I don't think it's worth risking my own real identity for the sake of a pen name that means nothing to me. And once the next book is finished, that's the last book the series will ever see with me attached to it. And if this doesn't prove how strongly I feel about my identity, nothing ever will.

To reiterate: I only have one account on each review site with my own name. If necessary, these accounts could be traced back to me. This way I know what I wrote, when I wrote it, and I can be held accountable for everything I've put into writing. I do this for various personal reasons and I feel very strongly about these reasons. I learned years ago I have nothing to hide, and if I'm going to put something in writing I don't mind being held accountable for it. I'm also well past the days of meltdown when it comes to getting bad reviews, so THAT can be scratched off the list. My meltdown days ended about four years ago. I don't really care if my name comes up in comment threads either. If you don't think so, ask me and watch me smile.

One account and identity is what most people do, I believe. I know this is what my mom does with her Amazon account, and it's what my good friends do. The one thing I've always had a problem with is leaving bad reviews. I prefer to leave good reviews for books I like instead of focusing on bad reviews with books I didn't like. And I don't like to attack other authors, just like doctors don't like to attack other doctors and teachers don't like to attack other teachers. For me it's more about solidarity and collaboration. And just because I don't like something doesn't mean it's not good. So I will admit that's my review flaw. But that's not going to change. Some things are just too subjective to be objective.

I actually stopped all google alerts in April of 2009 and rarely ever read my own reviews because I don't think it's a place where I should go. When people review my books they should have the ability to go there without me looking over their shoulders or getting involved in their discussions about my books. I don't belong there. In fact, I don't even like it when I see publishers leave ratings and reviews for books. I respect all opinions, good or bad. I've also learned...and posted about here before...that not all bad reviews hurt authors and books. Sometimes they help. I've also posted many times before that I've found some of the books I've loved the most from reading bad reviews. That's how I found "Fifty Shades of Grey," through a bad review, long before it went mainstream.

I think it's important (for me) to stand behind my name and my identity and to enforce how strongly I feel about using my own name and identity in case anything questionable ever does crop up. Others may disagree with me and that's fine.

But there is one thing I'd love to see added to review sites with everyone's profile, including mine. I understand that some people have to use pen names for various reasons and I don't see anything wrong with that. But I'd like to know just how many pen names and accounts they actually have from the same IP address. Now that would be interesting, if not entertaining. Because if the number of accounts started to appear on everyone's profile and it turned out that some had multiple identities, I'm not sure what I would think. I might not think twice if I saw someone had two or three fake names and identities. That's plausible, I guess. But what about if they had five, six, seven, or more fake names. Like I said, I understand the need for pen names. But I'm not so sure I understand the need for multiple identities, with an extended number.

Unfortunately, this will never least not in my lifetime. But it is very entertaining to think about it. I'm also sure that some who read this post will still question who I am and if this really is my real name and identity. It seems no matter how hard I try to get the point across there are always some who are so jaded by Internet deception they won't believe me. That's unfortunate. Because I might just show up, in the flesh, in person, someplace high profile when I'm least expected. Maybe I can get my buddy Ryan to come with me because he's experienced similar things and he's not even an author. RWA might be a great place to start.

"Facebook Debacle" Will This Continue?

In this article, facebook's being attacked on many levels.


According to Reuters, Facebook shareholders filed suit against the social network and banks including Morgan Stanley on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging the defendants concealed a weakened growth forecast prior to the high-profile IPO.

And then here:

The lawsuit comes a day after a separate civil lawsuit was filed against Facebook, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and underwriters alleging violations of securities laws. Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ: 21.61, -0.71, -3.18%) was also sued on Tuesday over trading glitches that impacted the Facebook IPO, which raised $16 billion on Friday.

It's going to be intersting to see how all this plays out.

Frankly, I'm not worried about facebook. I do have this feeling a lot of people want to see them fail. But I don't think that's going to happen.

9 Qualities of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs That Can Be Applied to Authors

When my friend Jordan, a cute straight guy I know, sent me a link in an e-mail yesterday, I decided to share. I've owned two small businesses, one of which I sold for profit. And as a writer, I've always considered myself in business.

Publishing is a business, as well as many other things. And each of the 9 qualities listed below are things authors have to keep in mind just like any other businessperson. I'm going to list the qualities verbatim as they were listed in the article, below, and then comment after each one. Here's a link to the entire article, from Time Magazine, where you can read it in full.

1. They find happiness in the success of others.

For me, this is helping other authors in various ways, through promotions, through beta reading, and through support when things aren't going well.

2. They relentlessly seek new experiences.

If you're a writer and you aren't thinking about your future, you should change that right now. Don't let anyone box you in, especially in one genre. The m/m romance genre is still strong. But no one knows how long that will last. And history always repeats itself. Keep moving forward and trying new things. I've changed many times in the past twenty years and I'm going to keep doing it.

3. They don’t think work/life balance; they just think life.

This is interesting, because that's how I do think. When I owned my gallery, I didn't think in terms of balancing my social life. The gallery was my social life. Though writing isn't as demanding as owning a physical business where you have be there at all times, writing is "life," too.

4. They’re incredibly empathetic.

This can be hard for some people. To be honest, I'm still working on it, especially when it comes to people who simply do not get parody and burping dicks (smile).

5. They have something to prove – to themselves.

I think this has always been my biggest motivation, from owning an art gallery to publishing a novel. Can I do it? Do I even dare try this?

6. They ignore the 40-hour workweek hype.

I've never worked a 40-hour week in my life. Usually it's been seven days a week. But I've never actually kept track. I also don't think in terms of retirement and senior housing down the line like some do. Writers don't retire, they expire.

7. They see money as a responsibility, not a reward.

No matter what product you're selling, make it the best you can. It's your responsibility to do this, whether you're selling art or books. And, you can't sell from an empty cart, so make sure you have plenty of merchandise to go around.

8. They don’t think they’re remarkable.

Unfortunately, I know a few who think they ARE remarkable. But most authors I know are just doing what they love and they don't think this way. I never did.

9. They know that success is fleeting, but dignity and respect last forever.

Nothing lasts forever. That's life. In terms of publishing, be prepared for anything, from fake/bad reviews that are attacks from other authors who don't like you, to bestsellers you never expected. And always make sure that what you put out there in terms of how you will be perceived is something you're proud of. Because that's going to last for a long time, especially on the Internet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blue with Selena Gomez from Selena Gomez

If you've read "Fifty Shades of Grey," you might want to check this out. If you haven't read it and you've only heard about it, you'll still probably want to see it. I don't think I love anything more than a good parody.

The Awesomeness of Sgt. Swan, Dirk Yates, and Rick Ford!!

After I wrote the post about Joey Stefano, I started thinking about another series of male videos that were produced around the same time Joey Stefano reached his peak. Just a little bit of gay culture/history, because so much seems to be disappearing these days.

I remember these films well because they stood out from all the rest. I'm still not exactly sure to this day why they stood out, but I'm clearly not the only one who noticed them. I think it had everything to do with the reality factor, which was long before reality anything became popular.

One in particular was titled "Sgt. Swan's Private Files." You have to remember that the Internet was nothing in the 80's and early 90's and to get these videos you usually had to go to an adult video store. And the Sgt. Swan video covers stood out from all the rest. I didn't go to adult video stores often back then (I was very young: underage), but what kind of a gay man would I be NOW if I'd never set foot in an adult bookstore? That doesn't even make sense, not even in today's world, where there's now a "Q" at the end of LGBT, and I'm trying very hard to embrace a word that represents nothing but hate to me.

But I digress, with a smile. When I started to wonder about what had happened to Sgt. Swan, I did a little reseach. There's actually not much out there, which surprised me. But I did find this web site, Below the Belt, which is a web site for adult entertainment news in South Florida.

I also discovered that Dirk Yates is actually a stage name for Rick Ford. Never knew this either.

Well after 20 years I felt that it was time that people know that Dirk Yates and Rick Ford are married, so to speak. It also came to my attention that there were a couple people out there that were telling models that they were Dirk Yates and luring them into making videos under false pretense. One guy, I heard about, was doing this in Hawaii.

In the early days I discovered that bringing real sailors to my home and videotaping them provided a fetish type military fantasy for viewers. I kept myself off the camera in order to help promote the fantasy that anyone could pick up a military guy. All the guys I shoot, as Dirk Yates, are real military men, not like some other videos out there that claim they are using real military guys.

This came from an interview with Rick Ford. You can read more at the link above for "Below the Belt." And there are plenty of photos, both now and then, of Rick Ford...aka Dirk Yates.

And here's a web site for Dirk Yates that seems quite up to date...for a different kind of awesomeness than you're used to seeing.

The "about" page is fascinating:

Dirk Yates has been entertaining gay men with his famous military guy sex videos for nearly three decades. But it wasn't until 1993 that he became a household name when CNN discovered that Camp Pendleton Marines had been appearing in his "Private Collection" video series.

Who would have guessed THAT! You can read more at the link I've included above as well for Dirk Yates.

The only thing I couldn't find much about was the guy who actually was Sgt. Swan...Glenn Swann. But here's a link to more about the movie, with this blurb:

The movie that started it all for acclaimed Director Dirk Yates in 1985 available on DVD with special bonus content. A Seabag Production starring Glenn Swann with a special appearance by Rick Donovan. Working as a Drill Instructor (DI), SGT Glenn Swann has many experiences with marines and while off duty has more than his share of contact with sailors. In his Private Files, Swann relates a few of his fantasies including: - Individual instruction for his hot aide and attendant, Scott O'Hara. - R&R with his personal friend Rick Donovan and his partner Ed Jerome. - A thorough workout with his buddy Troy. - A climatic scene with a barracks full of hot marines. More...

Puff the magic dragon - Pink Martini&Saori Yuki

Kindle Direct Publishing News...BEA

For those who don't know, Kindle Direct Publishing is the self-publishing/indie program with Amazon, where you can publish your own e-book and price it yourself. I'm still learning about all this, and I post as I go along. So far, my experiences with "Chase of a Lifetime" have been positive. I know many authors worry about promotion and marketing when it comes to the KDP program...or any kind of self-publishing program. I will post about this eventually, with thoughts based on my own personal experiences. In short, right now, what I can tell you is this: unless you've sold your book to a large publisher who is willing to invest a great deal of money in a book tour and promotion/marketing, no one, and no small publisher with a limited budget, is going to promote your book better than you. In fact the few times I've had books promoted by one small publisher in particular, I wasn't happy with the results and I had to wonder if the public relations people they hired knew what they were doing. It looked good. It sounded okay. But it was so painfully amateur I wanted to cringe.

KDP Select News:

KDP Select-enrolled authors continue to benefit from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. During the month of April they earned $2.48 each time their books were borrowed.

“We are very happy to see independent authors expanding their reach while making more money in the process through KDP Select. Established authors as well as debut writers continue to earn significant royalties from their participation in the lending library,” said Atif Rafiq, General Manager of Kindle Direct Publishing.

I'm part of this program with "Chase of a Lifetime." I've had good results. I also like that fact that there is a lending program. I know many readers who read e-books nowadays like getting e-book bargains. I like it myself as a reader.

KDP at BEA and other upcoming events:

For those of you who will be in the NYC area, KDP will be at Book Expo America June 4-7, 2012 at booth number 4170. Just as we did at the London Book Fair, we will be hosting several sessions on KDP, CreateSpace, and, focusing on a full array of Amazon’s independent publishing options. Session details to follow on our Help page’s announcement section before the expo.

We’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and internationally, so stay tuned for more announcements. If you’d rather connect with us in Europe, keep in mind that we will also be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

I won't be at BEA this year, but for those in the NY area within driving distance it can be an interesting event. Last time I did go I met a lot of people I'd come to know through online experiences. But please remember, these days none of these events are mandatory for authors. Especially authors who are focused on digital publishing. This stands to reason: if you're focused on digital publishing you should be working to promote your books online in as many places as you can. Those little readings in back door clubs with cute names in New York City are fun things to do, but they aren't going to sell many books. These are things a lot of people in publishing do for their social lives. And I happen to believe it's important to keep my social life very different from my professional life. And I've never suffered from burn out because of this. In other words, I know when to take a break and do something else.

And here's something from another author in the KDP program. It's an interesting piece, especially the part about the agent and the query process.

During my decades of writing nonfiction, I earned a living and won awards for investigative articles, magazine editing, and true-crime books. While I had always dreamed of writing fiction, getting traditionally published was becoming increasingly difficult. Previously, I had wasted many months with a New York agent developing a “sure thing” book proposal for a traditional publisher, only to be rejected at the last minute. I was unwilling to waste more years of my life riding the “query-go-round.”

But in 2010, financial circumstances for my wife and me took an ominous turn. Now past age sixty and in the midst of the recession, we found our income options severely limited. “Write a Novel” was still at the top of my Bucket List when I read about self-publishing via KDP ebooks. I knew at that point I had nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain. It was my one shot at a lifelong dream—and perhaps our only chance at financial salvation.

I finished writing my debut novel, HUNTER: A Thriller, at 11 p.m. on June 4, 2011—just one hour before my 62nd birthday. By June 21, it was edited, proofread, formatted, wrapped in an eye-catching cover, and available on Kindle. It began to sell immediately. I recovered my initial expenses within the first month. By November 26, it had sold 4,000 copies and had accumulated scores of “5-star” reviews from Amazon readers.

But that was just the beginning. The next day, the Kindle editors spotlighted it as an “Editors’ Pick” for the following week. Overnight, HUNTER—a genre-bending blend of spy mystery, vigilante crime thriller, and romantic suspense—skyrocketed up the bestseller lists, selling thousands of copies per day. By December 3, it reached #4 on the Kindle Bestseller List, zooming past the latest blockbusters by Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Suzanne Collins.

For my wife and me, this has been an incredible ride. Our financial requirements are met for this entire year, allowing me to write sequels in the Dylan Hunter thriller series. There’s even been Hollywood interest. In short, within months KDP has completely changed our lives, enabling this aging nonfiction writer to launch a brand-new career as a best-selling novelist. I can’t say enough on behalf of Amazon and the many tools that they make available to independent authors. Without reservation, I urge fellow writers to investigate and seize the opportunities that KDP offers. As I’ve happily discovered, there is zero downside risk—and the potential is virtually unlimited.

- Robert Bidinotto

The reason I'm posting these things now here on the blog is that I've seen a lot of changes in publishing in the past five years. And I'm not seeing a lot of information being passed on to authors from so-called publishing professionals. What I am seeing is either dead silence, or what appears to be a hidden agenda to keep authors from knowing these things. My goal here is not to comment on which direction is better or worse. It's to show authors that there are other options. And to let them know that when they read publishing blogs nowadays they aren't getting ALL the information they should be getting. They all seem to have an agenda nowadays. I don't.

And you want to know what the biggest red flag of all is when it comes to publishing blogs? If the web site or blog focuses more in query letters than it does anything else. Yes, queries are still important. Yes, you should learn how to write them for a multitude of reasons. But that's not the way publishing blogs should be completely focused now. They should be focused on all the opportunities out there for authors, not just the dead end query route that leaves you both mentally and physically exhausted in the end.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tyler Clementi: Dharun Ravi Gets 30 Days in Jail

I posted about what happened to Tyler Clementi here.

And this is what transpired today:

Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail as part of a probationary sentence today for spying on his college roommate with a webcam and writing about what he saw on Twitter.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman could have given the ex-Rutgers University student up to 10 years for the most serious charges related to the cyber-bullying of his gay roommate Tyler Clementi in September 2010. He was ordered to report to Middlesex County Jail on May 31.

What surprises me about Judge Berman's sentence is the significance of this case in setting a precedent for future cases, especially with respect to online bullying. In other words, will the bullying continue now that the bullies know they won't get a stiff sentence?

I can't help thinking that Martha Stewart got a tougher sentence for doing far less.

And this surprises me the most:

"I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity," Berman said.

There are plenty of other insensitive people out there. I hate to think about the message this sentence sends to them.

Do I believe he should have received the full 10 years? No.

But I do think the sentence should have been strong enough to deter others from doing what he did.

And, for the record, this isn't just a gay issue. This kind of bullying is across the board on a much broader scale. I have seen people online bully others to the point of psychological melt downs, on twitter and other social media.

I can't help but wonder if Judge Berman "gets" the magnitude of what happens online nowadays, and how social media like twitter can affect people.

"Chase of a Lifetime" #1 on Amazon UK in Gay Lesbian

I know nothing about Amazon sales ranking.

I'm so profoundly dumb in this respect that when Tony sent me this link today I had to ask what it meant.

Evidently, my self-published .99 Amazon e-book, "Chase of a Lifetime," hit #1 over at Amazon UK, in both the gay/lesbian romance and erotica categories.

Again, I'm not really sure what this means, and I know Amazon sales ranks change every single hour. But considering the fact that I wrote and self-published this book because I was told "You have too much exposure," and I wanted to prove this person wrong, it's a good feeling to know that listening to my own instincts for once proved to be the right thing to do.

Trust me, this is still a humble venture for me. I'm doing it again in a month with "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" and I have no idea what to expect. But I do know that I love doing it. And I also love being able to offer a new release to readers @ .99.

Huge thank you to all the people in the UK that purchased COAL!!

And for those of you who have been given unsolicited BAD advice from a publisher or an editor, listen to your own gut instincts in the end. And always make your own choices.

Abe Lincoln on the Downlow?

In an article titled, "Where Abraham Lincoln Went to Cry," by someone named Harold Holzer, published in the June 2012 edition of "American History" magazine, I read this interesting piece of information. And of course I couldn't stop thinking about it:

On one occasion, when Mary took Tad to Vermont, a messenger knocked on the president's door and entered the bedroom to find Lincoln and the commander of the Bucktail Brigade sleeping in the same bed. Though not an uncommon arrangement for the time among single men, the incident has elicited attention from several psycho-historians who believe Lincoln might have been gay. One telltale fact amid the speculation: The commander, Captain David Derickson, was twice married and the father of 10 children.

The article is about Lincoln's summer home in Washington, DC, not about his sexuality. So why this information about Lincoln being in bed with Derickson even had to be added I don't know. It did nothing to help or hurt an otherwise dull piece that contains nothing that hasn't already been said millions of times before.

First, I know men did sleep together during this time, especially in the winter to keep from freezing to death, or because of financial circumstances. But the point I'm making isn't about whether or not men slept together during this time. The point is that the article seems to allege there's something wrong if Lincoln and his captain were having sex, and that it needs defense. The defense taken with regard to this topic is rampant, and it's no secret that "they" don't want anyone to think Lincoln might have been gay or bi-sexual.

Second, that one "telltale fact" about Derickson being twice married and having 10 children means nothing. It is so dumb I had to read it more than once to be sure I hadn't made a mistake. Evidently, the article seems to be suggesting that because a man has been married and has procreated, he can't be attracted to other men? This doesn't take into account the dozens of gay men I know who have been married and have procreated.

If you read some of those silly fringe web sites, where radical conservatives attack President Obama all the time, one of the things they use against him is that he could possibly be gay...or that he had gay experiences. When they do this, it's automatically a negative thing, to the point of looking at him in a different, substandard way.

And I'm tired of it. When I see it, I'm going to challenge it from now on. I don't know, or care about, what Lincoln's sex life was like. The famous men and women who have been tied in with gay experiences had to hide it because of their circumstances during the times in which they lived. But that needs to change.

I love all the wonderful things I see on the Internet about support for the LGBT community, from stopping homophobia to bullying. I think they do a lot of good. But I also think it's time to take it one step further. It's time to stop the negative comments and implications that have always been associated with being gay or bi-sexual. And I mean ALL of them. Because if Lincoln had been gay or bi-sexual, and he had been caught in an intimate situation with his captain, it wouldn't have made him any less of a man or a president than he was. If anything, it might have made him BETTER.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

With Guys, It's All About the Legs...

I don't share photos on this blog often. But when I see one that I think "shows" one of the things that I think makes a man attractive I don't mind sharing.

And guys with great legs always get my attention. I've written about it, and I actually have to focus hard when I'm writing fiction not to say it too often.

I'm not talking about smooth manscaped legs, or soft silky legs. I'm talking about the legs of a man, with a little hair, a few muscles, and good symetry. George Clooney has great legs. Leonardo DiCaprio...meh.

And there's something about a guy with slightly bowed legs. The guy in the photo above is a perfect example.

I also prefer photos that aren't nudes most of the time. If done well, I love nudes just as much as the next person. But I really do prefer photos like the one above. It leaves something to the imgagination, which we don't get to use too often these days.

Facebook Etiquette Rules...

I thought I'd link to this article about facebook etiquette because something annoying recently happened to me.

I'm a very easy-going person. But if you come after me first, on facebook or anywhere else, I'm not going to sit back and take it.

I "shared" something very harmless on facebook last night, about pet adoption of all things. And someone I don't know, nor do I care to know now, ranted on the update that I was wrong and then started to preach to me about pet adoption.

Huge mistake: don't preach to people you don't know. They aren't children.

Don't assume: I happen to have rescue dogs, and my niece runs a rescue site where she lives. I also donate and I'm no stranger to pet rescue.

And no one likes to be attacked by complete strangers...that's just common sense.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Equal Rights for Gay Americans Are Inevitable"

Here's a link to an article that sums up what I think many of us believe will be the future.

What I like most about this article is there are various pieces of information I didn't know. Like this:

Thursday is big day that celebrates the eternal American quest for equality. On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, declaring that racial segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Today is also the anniversary of the day in 2004 when the first gay couple in the United States was legally married due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council's ruling that the state could not discriminate against gay residents.

I do remember friends of mine in Provincetown getting married in 2004. These same friends, a lesbian couple who have been together for over twenty years, have been married in other states as well, including California. They tell me they always find it interesting when they fly to LA, because there are still so many states where they aren't considered leagally married.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Joey Stefano 1968 - 1994

The other night I was talking with friends about someone I once knew, Joey Stefano. He was a very high profile gay porn star in the 1990's who never expected to be as famous as he was. We were only two years apart in age and we both frequented a lot of the same clubs in the early 1990's in the Philadelphia area. Because I was two years younger, he always seemed protective, which I thought was nice. Joey was from Chester, PA, which is a rough city only about twenty minutes south of Center City Philadelphia. At the time there seemed to be more clubs around, but I could be wrong about that.

I met him at an old gay nightclub in New Jersey called Gatsby's while he was dancing on a Saturday night around 1990. I also met Tony at Gatsby's in 1992, and by 1992 Joey was spending more time in LA than in Philly. He was even in Madonna's book, "Sex." This was around the same time everyone seemed to be flocking to South Beach, FL, with Madonna and Versace. That time always reminded me of a kind of rebirth after the dark days of the 1980's when there seemed to be a funeral for someone who died from AIDS at least once a month.

Though Joey and I never dated, and no one ever knew when he would be around, I grew to like him a lot when I did see him. He was basically a nice guy and a smart guy. But also extremely addicted to drugs and didn't really care. He had a very carefree attitude toward life. I remember one night in Gatsby's when he was doing a strip show. In that club, the dancers only stripped down to their underwear, which was tame even in those days. A loud pushy woman with a group of even more annoying gay men asked him if it was true that he was really studying to be an attorney. He moved close to her, looked her in the eye, hesitated for a moment, and said, "Do you have a life?" in such a deadpan tone my drink went up my nose.

One thing I remember most about him was that he was all man, which at the time to me was an inspiration. I only knew what I'd seen and heard on TV and in the movies, and most of it had to do with effeminate gay men. If you didn't know Joey was gay you never would have thought he was. I think that's why we got along so well. We "got" each other without having to work too hard at it.

I remember hearing about his death on the radio in 1994. I was already together with Tony for two years by then and it had been about three years since I'd last seen Joey anywhere in the Philadelphia area. But the news hit me hard. I'd always hoped he would figure things out. After his death it was disclosed that he was HIV+. I never knew this for fact when I knew him because in those days it wasn't discussed openly. And we were never lovers. But knowing Joey, and knowing there were no serious HIV drug regimens in those days for people with AIDS, I'm sure that contributed to his drug use. I knew a few gay men back then who took on a very carefree attitude because they didn't think there would ever be a way to stop AIDS. And they lived very fast lives. If Joey had lived, he would have been forty-four now.

I like the photo of him above because that's really what he looked like in person. A lot of the photos on the web make him look different than he was.