Saturday, June 30, 2012

Joni Mitchell Live At The Carnegie Hall 1972 the circle game

Fourth of July Week: Provincetown...

I have a few friends in Provincetown, MA, and I promised I'd post something about the Fourth of July. I can't imagine that anyone doesn't know P'town is a gay mecca on Cape Cod, but I hate to assume anything.

Though Tony and I used to spend every Labor Day Week and New Year's Eve in P'town, we haven't been there in a few years because we've just been too busy...and one of the dogs is older and driving seven hours through New England is hard on him. And I don't board or trust pet sitters because I've heard too many horror stories. So we've altered our lives according to his challenges and that's without complaint.

In any event, July 4th in P'town is one of those things every gay person should experience at least once in a lifetime. It truly is a different experience you won't find in many other place, anywhere. This year my brother and nephew are driving up from New York and it's my nephew's first time there since he came out of the closet. He's starting med school in Iowa in August and it's sort of his last summer of fun. I just hope my brother keeps an eye on him. Tony and I once brought up a single friend who had never been there and we lost him in the dunes for a week.

Here's a link to the Provincetown Business Guild. That's the one thing I love most about P'town: the shopping. And I'm not a shopper to begin with. But I've never returned from a trip up there without something I love, and I know I'll have for the rest of my life.

There's also something in P'town called the "Dick Dock," but I'll leave that for another post. I'm sure you can guess what happens THERE. I wrote about the "Dick Dock" in "He's Bewitched," and some of my contemporaries...the proper literary types who begin sentences with, "One never knows, does one"...didn't like that at all.  One even challenged me and said the "Dick Dock" didn't exist, and I'd been there myself, personally. But I digress.

Check out the link above...P'town is great all year long, not just in the summer. We've spent many memorable New Year's Eves there in the dead of winter. And we're thinking of going up for Halloween. The last time we did that we both considered it one of the best times of year there.

The PBG helps maintain the #1 Gay Community in America by promoting Provincetown to the GLBT market worldwide, producing such events as the much loved Carnival - the height of Ptown’s summer celebration, Holly Folly – the world’s only GLBT holiday festival and Cabaret Fest – a weekend of music and merriment.

The PBG membership is made up of all types of businesses who are directly and indirectly affected by tourism to Provincetown and who are committed to the economic and cultural development of GLBT tourism in this one of a kind destination. The PBG also welcomes and is fortunate to have associate members who simply want to support the organization and the work that we do.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime on Smashwords, Kobo, and More...

When I first published "Chase of a Lifetime" on Amazon, I opted for the lender program and with that program I wasn't allowed to distribute the book anywhere else for three months.

It's been three months and COAL is now available on most major retail web sites where e-books are sold. I'm still working on getting it up on and a few more sites.

But here are a list of places where it is for sale:



Barnes & Noble




And still on Amazon.

I know it's up with my other published books on Smashwords as I publish this post, but it might take a while for it to be added to the other sites. I'll keep checking over the weekend.

When it's for sale on ARe, I'll post about it with links. This is the hard part about self-publishing...learning how to upload and distribute to all these different places without messing up. Thankfully, Tony's been doing most of this for me.

Fred Karger Ends Campaign

I just received an e-mail from the Fred Karger staff informing me that he's ended his campaign for President. It's been interesting to watch. I've enjoyed posting about it for significant historical reasons. Here's the e-mail below as I received it.

Statement by Fred Karger LAGUNA BEACH, CA - “After 2 ½ years of campaigning as a candidate for President of the United States I am officially ending my historic campaign today June 29, 2012. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I want to thank the thousands of people across this country who volunteered, contributed, opened their homes, came to our events and cheered me on. Special thanks to the thousands more who shared their stories with me in person, via email, facebook, twitter, etc. Every one of you kept me going. It’s been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve made many new friends and undoubtedly picked up a few more detractors. I hope and trust that my discussion of the key issues helped to open dialog on fixing the economy, balancing the federal budget, creating jobs, education reform, the environment, immigration reform, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and fighting for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We must move forward on these issues and many more. A big thank you goes out to our incredible campaign team, most of whom have been around for nearly the entire 2 ½ years. Your dedication, spirit and great ideas made all the difference. I plan to rest up for awhile and then I will be back at it to help in the fight for LGBT equality. We will let you know as soon as our exact course is determined. We closed our Utah Primary campaign with a big bang by airing the hard-hitting commercial “STOP THE HATE!!!” aimed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). It was produced and directed by Melanie Marden of MM Films, LLC. CLICK HERE to Watch.

Writing About a Medical Marijuana Dispensary for Next Book in Chase of a Lifetime Series

Writing about a medical marijuana dispensary sounded like fun when I first started. I'm finishing up the next book in the Chase of a Lifetime series, "Chase of a Dream," and I needed something interesting for one of the characters. For those who have read the first book, the character I'm talking about is Cain Mayfield. He's Len Mayfield's grown son from his first marriage to a woman.

In short, Cain shows up in Los Angeles in the beginning of the book and he moves in with Len, Jim, and their three-year old, Culum. And Cain's connection to the family isn't just because Len is Cain's father. Cain is also Jim's best friend from childhood and Cain's the biological father of Culum.

The problem with Cain is that since he graduated from Standford he's been floundering around. He flunked out of grad school and moved to Hawaii to live with his mother and screwed up there. So now he's in LA, trying to find his own dream at the expense of Len and Jim's regular routine. But he's also Culum's biological father and they want Culum to grow up knowing his dad.

Cain is an interesting character in the sense that he's still not fond of the fact that his dad is gay...but he doesn't hold this against old friend Jim, who happens to be his dad's husband. It gets complicated sometimes, but the point is that Cain is always doing something unexpected. And one day he decides he wants to open up a legal medical marijuana dispensary in the LA area and his dad, Len, hits the roof. Len is conservative and he doesn't get the concept of legal weed. So Len tells Cain that if he wants to open his own marijuana dispensary he has to get a job at an estabilished dispensary first to see if that's what he really wants to do with his life.

And that's exactly what Cain does. He applies for a job at a legal medical marijuana dispensary on Sunset that's not only very high-end and caters to the best clients in Beverly Hills, but is also owned and operated by a transgender with whom Cain winds up having an affair. Without giving out any spoilers, this creates an interesting conflict...with regard to both the transgender relationship and Cain's career goals.

My problem in writing this is that I discovered that owning a medical marijuana dispensary anywhere is not as simple as they make it look on TV or the movies. It's one of the most complicated businesses to run in the universe and there are legal details that never seem to end. And even if all those details are covered, there are still many risks and costs can run very high. And I'm not expert in the field of running a legal medical marijuana dispensary. The information available is sketchy at best. So I ultimately decided to handle this subject with great care. I can't go into any details about it because that would spoil a few surprises. But I did take the topic very seriously and I think I made the right decision with regard to how I did it.

Aside from all this, the basic plot of this next book in the COAL series revolves around Len and Jim building their family, their lives, and their careers. Though they love their completely renovated home in the Hollywood Hills, Len starts to miss Texas, his horses, and his old ranch. So they wind up moving to a ranch outside of Los Angeles that's still close enough to their jobs and Culum's pre-school in West Hollywood. And dealing with Cain and the medical marijuana dispensary is just one of the challenges they face while doing this.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do Authors Need Outlines?

I spotted an interesting post about writing outlines, written by a young blogger I've been following who I think is very talented.

I commented about being on the fence with regard to outlines. I've written outlines with some projects and I haven't with others. For me it all depends on how fast the story is coming, and whether or not I have it outlined in my head...if that makes sense.

And for me it's only with novels. I never use an outline for a short story. Something (or someone) inspires me and I get the idea and run with it, so to speak.

You can get there from here to read the post in full.

Teens Raise Money Through Kickstarter

I've posted about kickstarter before. It's a web site where struggling artists can ask for financial support for projects they are working on. If people believe these projects are worthy of support, they can patronize the artist through kickstarter. I published a guest post about what author/publisher Cecilia Tan is trying to do here.

In this case it's a group of teens.

The authors and editors behind Canteen Magazine work with under-served Harlem 7th-graders to promote a love of reading, writing and photography. At the end of each academic year, the volunteers produced a printed book compilation called canTeens. This year, they lack the funds to create the 2012 edition of “canTeens” which is why they have turned to Kickstarter in the hopes of raising $5,000. Above, we’ve embedded a video about the project–what do you think?

I think it's a wonderful idea and a good example of how the web has enhanced our lives. This couldn't have been done twenty years ago. No bake sale or car wash ever raised THAT much money for any school function.

You can read more here, at galleycat.

Amazon, Dorchester, Vacuous Nasty Bloggers, and Thoughts From Nora Ephron...

This seems to have been a particularly evil week on the Interwebs for nasty bloggers. I read where one extremely decent elderly gay author (who happens to have great books and great sales with a great publisher) was ripped to shreds on one particularly vicious blog. As a result, he announced he no longer wants to write. I've seen so-called gay fiction authors attack other authors in public, which is something I rarely see people in other professions ever do (try to get a doctor to trash, or even testify against, another doctor). And I've read blog posts where many authors seem both disillusioned and frustrated about all of this. I don't blame them. I feel the same way.

On top of all this, Nora Ephron passed away. I wasn't always a huge fan of everything she did.I would have rather seen more Julia than Julie in the film "Julie and Julia". (Many don't know this but Julia Child was often attacked by vicious jealous people in the world of cookery during her time, so it's not something new.) But I loved how Ephron did it, and I respected everything she did. I think Ephron will go down as one of the greats of our time.

This photo I found on social media is a great example of what I'm talking about. And when you think about how short life is, those vicious, vacuous blogs that go for the kill really don't mean much in the grand scheme of things. I'm not a huge fan of authors behaving badly in public. But what is considered bad behavior covers far more ground than authors attacking reviews/reviewers. It also covers authors who attack other authors with reviews and opinion pieces for no other reason than to spread hate.

I also saw this good news this morning. It looks as if Amazon is trying to acquire Dorchester's assets, which would mean all authors/agents who haven't been paid will finally see their money.

Amazon Publishing would buy Dorchester’s entire backlist and customer list and would pay Dorchester authors any outstanding royalties they are owed.

I remember following the Dorchester debacle while it was happening and I felt bad for the authors. And what happened to Dorchester is something that could happen to any publisher. Once again, you can't fault Amazon for doing something no one esle seemed willing to do. You can also read more here at a blog I frequent often, written by Richard Curtis.

And a little further down is the good news that authors and agents who had despaired of recovering royalties from the sinking publisher will be made whole by Amazon: “All publication contacts regarding certain literary works (collectively, the “Works”) and related outbound license agreements of DP (collectively, the “Contracts”), subject to the purchaser negotiating certain amendments with the authors of the Works in exchange for payment by Amazon Publishing of the full amount of back royalties that DP indicates is owed to those authors as of May 31, 2012…”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Way for Libraries to Evolve That Involves Self-Publishing

I've been watching how libraries will change in the coming years because I've always been a library supporter. I've seen doom and gloom posts that say libraries are dead, and I've also seen posts that say libraries will evolve into something different...more like community learning centers.

I tend to agree with the latter. I don't think libraries will ever disappear. And the article to which I'm linking might be an indication as to how they will evolve in the near future. Also take into account the mention of self-publishing, which seems to be making headlines everywhere I go these days.

Digital publishing company Smashwords and Califa, a consortium of 220 California libraries, have formed a partnership to distribute Smashwords eBooks in libraries and to give member libraries the ability to let patrons publish eBooks through Smashwords.

Library Journal explained the self-publishing process: “A patron will be able to use the Califa interface, being built with VuFind, to upload their manuscripts to Smashwords, which then will make the books available to its retail partners (such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony). But Smashwords will also notify Califa that a patron has uploaded a title and see if Califa wishes to purchase the title for its collection.”

Less than four years ago publishing professionals were not only laughing at e-publishing, but also self-publishing. You can read more by clicking the link below.

What in the world will happen next?

Fred Karger, Latter Day Saints, Stop Hate

Fred Karger has been in Utah recently, and the ads he's running seem to be targeting the Latter Day Saints more so than his oponent, Mitt Romney (who happens to be a Mormon). Karger made a video to which I'll link below. But here are a few things I thought were interesting.

Karger has been waging his crusade against the church’s electioneering since he helped co-found Californians Against Hate in 2008 to battle efforts to repeal California’s amendment allowing same-sex marriage. Keeping an eye on campaign money coming from out of state, Karger first drew attention to large donations coming from the LDS Church and helped a Wall Street Journal reporter break the story of the church’s involvement in the election.

Who could forget that year? I know I can't. We all took one step forward and two back. And though I've posted about Karger running for office many times here on this blog I didn't know he was this passionate about this topic.

In April 2011, Karger largely self-funded a campaign for the presidency that he acknowledged from the beginning was more about sending a message than winning—or even coming close to winning.

The message Karger sent was twofold: that a gay, Republican candidate could start a dialogue about how the party views gay members, and that the LDS Church and, by proxy, LDS presidential candidate Romney, should be held accountable for campaigning against same-sex marriage.

And that's what I was waiting to see somewhere in this article. For those who have not been following this, you can read more here. It's a long article and I believe worth the time.

National HIV Testing Day: June 27th

You can read more here.

Should I Change My Blog Title to "Raucous Manx?"

I've been thinking about changing my blog title to "Raucous Manx." That's right, you heard it here first: "Raucous Manx." A friend of mine on social media recently commented that there's a great deal of vitriol on the Internet these days, but no one really does it well...not like Truman Capote would have done it if he were still alive today. (I'm also working without spellcheck today, thanks to google blogger, and I'm seriously thinking of moving this blog to wordpress sooner than I thought I would.)

And that one comment resonated with me. The reason I'm considering a name change for the blog is because I'm thinking of starting a new feature, a regular column where I review blogs and web sites, not books. And I need something cute and catchy...with that homespun flavor, if you will, that says I'm a tough guy with a big mouth, I am. I'm a killer snark, and don't you forget it. You know, something that will make me stand out as a defender of all that is good and evil in the world of blogging to make me look good all the time at the expense of others. I'm sure you've seen what I'm talking about more than once.

For those who don't know, I used to be a staff member of and I wrote reviews and did interviews with all kinds of gay bloggers. At the time the site was owned by a nice gay couple from NY and they truly had a passion for personal blogging. When they sold the blog to a larger company, I moved on because I didn't want to work with anyone else. If you go to now you'll find a few of my older posts, but for some reason most have disappeared.

I learned a lot about blogging and bloggers while I was reviewing/interviewing for BGB. Most of the reviews I wrote were positive, because I didn't think it was my job to judge an amateur blogger's personal content. But not all the reviews were positive. Sometimes I had to post the occassional negative review because something bothered me that I couldn't ignore. It was usually something involving ethics or scamming...something the blogger was doing for monetary gain. Thankfully, that didn't happen often.

A lot of those original bloggers I wrote about are now gone. One thing I learned about blogging is that it's not forever in most cases. Bloggers get tired and they move on with their lives.

A great deal has changed in the world of blogging since 2004 when I started working with BGB as a blog reviewer. And that's the reason I'm thinking about starting my own feature here on this blog as a blog reviewer. If I do this I'm going to do it differently than I did it before. I think the world of blogging has changed drastically since 2004 in some cases and I'm not going to be as nice as I used to be. I'll be fair, but that doesn't always mean nice.

Back in the day, when television industry first started out, sitcoms were shot live, with an audience, and there were tons of mistakes. Television commercials were amateur and corny compared to the high tech commercials of today. Who could ever forget the episode of "I Love Lucy," where Lucy and Ethel go on TV to hock "Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing?" It's classic early TV, it's about as amateur as TV got back then, and it's absolutely wonderful.

And I've always looked at the Internet the same way, including blogging. In the beginning a good deal of what happened on the Internet mimicked what happened in the television industry's early days. Only at the time, just like in the 1950's, we on the Internet didn't realize it was all so amateur. And that was just as wonderful as the TV commercial for "Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing."

However, the Internet is changing and blogging has evolved since the early days. And I think it's time that so-called serious...ambitious...bloggers were held accountable for what they do and what they post. In other words, if a blogger is trying to pass as a serious, informed source of information, it's time to step up his or her game. I'm not talking about personal blogs here. People who maintain a personal blog without showing aggressive intentions for monetary gain or blogging "fame" should just keep doing what they've always done. I'm not talking about authors who blog and promote their books. I'm not talking about my blog because I have no intention of blogging for monetary gain ever. What I'm talking about deals with bloggers who show ambitious intentions of being journalists, without a background in journalism. Because those who do show aggressive behavior, and who do seem to be trying to attract an audience for monetary or personal gain in the sense of web presence need to be held accountable for what they publish on a blog. The days of "Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing" are coming to an end.

Look at it this way, if you're writing a book review blog and that blog is filled with ads and promos, you'd better know how to spell and you're blog better be damn near perfect. Or, if you're attacking other people on your blog and you're doing it with the intention of gaining a readership in a way that I think runs the thin line of sensationalism, you'd better not be posting corn recipes from your childhood between attacks, because that looks stupid and amateur and you're not going to be taken seriously. I also think that if you want to be a serious blogger it's time to cut the crap with the fake identities and stupid names and fake photos. I want to see real names and identities that are willing to stand behind the words they publish on a blog. And I want to see a photo so I can place the words with a face. Barbara Walters didn't get to where she is today by doing the news with a name like "Tenacious Baby," and a fake photo that shows nothing more than a wide brimmed straw hat.

Of course I'm still undecided about all this. And I doubt I'll retitle this blog to "Raucous Manx." If I did change the name to "Raucous Manx," it would be exactly what I'm trying to show is wrong with certain blogs. In other words, the days of cute homespun snark are over and it's time for the serious bloggers who want to be real players to drop the painfully cheesy fake names like "Raucous Manx" if they want to be taken seriously. And this time around, when and if I do decide to review a blog/blogger, I'm still going to be as objective as I can be. But I won't hold back with the bad reviews anymore. And trust me, if you think you've seen bad reviews before what I'm going to write will make those bad reviews look like a romp through Disney World.

And I'm in an interesting position as far as blogging goes. I'm not using a fake identity, I don't sockpuppet, and I have nothing to hide. Therefore, I have nothing to fear. Which is also why you'll see me reviewing more books and authors I don't like in the near future.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

RIP, Nora Ephron...

According to moviefone, Nora Ephron has passed away.

Ephron began her career as a reporter for the New York Post, and later went on to pen essays for Esquire and New York magazines. She would get her first taste at screenwriting in the mid-1970s, when she ended up rewriting William Goldman's script for "All the President's Men" (Ephron's husband at the time was Carl Bernstein, whose Nixon Watergate scoop was the film's inspiration). The screenplay never ended up being used, but, as Ephron later told the Guardian, "It was a great way to learn, because Goldman was such a great screenwriter that just typing his stage directions taught me a huge amount."

I actually studied "All the President's Men" in a film course in college and I never knew this.

And I loved "Julie and Julia."

Here's what Liz Smith said,

"[Nora] seemed never to want or expect anything, while always demanding the best from the rest of us. She was -- always -- right and somehow left the smartest, most ambitious and silliest of us in the dust at her feet."

You can read more here.

Trying to Expose "Malicious" Amazon Reviews

There is an excellent comment thread going on over at Amazon right now. I stumbled across it by accident and I couldn't stop reading the comments.

All I can say is, WOW!

The thread begins this way, with someone asking an interesting question:

A few authors have brought an issue to my attention that, despite having nothing to do with me, caught my interest.

Many indie books, once they start selling at a steady pace and garner enough reviews, become targets for sabotage reviews. That is, reviewers who's only apparent goal is to one star a book every time someone else gives it a favorable review.

We've had several threads outing authors who behave badly. Anyone want to do the detective work on exposing bad (malicious) reviewers?

You can get there from here to check it out yourselves. But once you start be prepared to let everything else go for at least an hour.

I don't usually follow these things because I don't have the time. But in all the years I've been in publishing, this is one of the most fascinating discussions I've ever read, hands down.

Sometimes Spam is a Good Thing: Twenty-Five Years in Jail

While going through comments that needed to be pubbed this evening I came across something interesting.

I'd been spammed by someone, and it was one of those times when I was glad he or she did spam me.

It's a comment that was left on this post I wrote earlier this week. The link on the thread says: "25 Years in Jail."

That link will lead you here, to a web page that is selling audio books. This particular audio book is titled, "Long Walk to Freedom." It was written by Nelson Mandela. It's an autobiography, and the comment was left, appropriately, on my post about Adele's new bio.

Not only am I thrilled to get spam I loved, but also thrilled that whoever left this comment showed an example of great non-fiction in comparison to my post about the questionable biography written about Adele.

Read by Danny Glover, with an introduction by Kofi Annan. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life--an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.

July 13th Release: Something For St. Jude

For upcoming release, "Something for Saint Jude," I wanted to post something ahead of time in case I forget. It seems that something new comes up all the time and I often wind up posting more about other things than I do my own fiction.

"Something for Saint Jude" is a short story...8,000 words..., it's set in both Wyoming and on a cruise ship (one of those gay cruise ships), and it's about two people from the same small town who wind up falling in love on vacation. It's being published by, as are most of my other short stories. And the release date is set for July 13, 2012.

It's a gay erotic romance with an adorable geek and a big strong cowboy. The story is there, the love is there, and so is the sex. There is one scene where the two main characters explore voyeurism that I found fascinating to write.

The cover art was created by Dawne Dominique, who has been doing most of my covers for the past five years at least. She's also done the covers for my two self-published novels on Amazon this past year.

Here's a blurb:

Jude Franklin lives a quiet conservative life in a small town in Wyoming. He’s head librarian, lives at home with his aging mother, and is terrified he’ll wind up like his spinster aunt…"Poor Patty Ann." Though it’s too late for Jude to be considered a virgin, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life alone. The trouble is the one guy in town he’s attracted to is a handsome young library patron who also happens to work on a ranch on the edge of town. Only Jude knows he can’t have him, so he makes a drastic move and books a summer vacation on one of those gay cruise ships he’s read about millions of times. Little did he know love was waiting for him in the most unusual place, and he had to travel halfway around the world to figure it out.

Here's an excerpt:

Jude Franklin went to church services on Sunday mornings and played the violin in a small chamber group every Thursday evening. He met with his fellow birdwatchers on the third Wednesday of every month at the community college, where he parked his Dodge beneath the same oak tree in visitor parking.

Though he was on the wrong side of thirty years old, he still lived at home with his aging mother, a frail slip of a woman who spent most of her time in a Bentwood rocker knitting things no one would ever use. His dark pine bed was the same twin sleeper he’d slept in since his tenth birthday, with the same dreary beige coverlet and doomed white sheets. Every now and then he’d replace a dog-eared copy of a gay porn magazine with the newer release. He kept them hidden between old childhood comic books in a hope chest that rested at the foot of the narrow bed. He knew he needed to learn how to navigate the Internet better so he wouldn’t have to deal with magazines. It was getting harder to find them.

He worked as a librarian in a small town in Wyoming. His shirts were white button downs and his bow-ties dark solids. His slacks were either brown or gray or navy, usually a heavy wool or tweedy material, and always pressed and creased to perfection with a sharp line down the front and back. He wore either black or brown oxfords with round toes and chunky heels; at the end of his small nose fell black eyeglass frames that were thick and dated. To say he stood out in a town filled with men wearing cowboy hats and boots would have been an understatement.

But more than all this, Jude was a soaring, handsome man, with a lean swimmer’s body and a head of golden hair. And even though his slacks were as dreary as pond waters, his firm round buttocks turned more than a few heads when he walked down the street. He had the kind of perfect ass that made even straight cowboys stop and glance when no one was looking.

All this furtive attention usually passed Jude by. He knew men and women were attracted to him, but he wasn’t attracted to them. The only guy in town that made his heart beat faster didn’t even know he existed. This young guy had no idea that Jude came unhinged just standing next to him.

His name was Ricky Lorne and he came into the library on a regular basis. This handsome voracious reader of mystery novels stopped by two or three times a week, usually when Jude was working out front. He always removed his cowboy hat when he came inside. He wiped his cowboy boots on a mat at the entrance to make sure he wouldn’t track any mud inside. Though Jude always became too flustered to speak at length in Ricky’s presence, he assumed that Ricky either stopped by on his way to work, or on his way home to return or check out his books. Jude had overheard one of the young female library volunteers once mention to a girlfriend that Ricky worked as a cowboy on a ranch on the outskirts of town, and then they whispered something and giggled. Jude glared at them, glanced down at their muffin tops, and sent them to the non-fiction shelves to sort by author.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 2013 Trial Date Set for DOJ vs Apple and E-book Publishers

Here's the latest on the E-book pricing debacle:

NEW YORK — The Justice Department’s price-fixing lawsuit against e-book publishers and Apple will go to trial in June 2013, setting up a long legal struggle sure to reverberate across the nascent digital publishing market.

Apple has maintained that it did no wrong and argued to a federal judge last Friday that it wants a speedy trial to defend itself. The Silicon Valley giant is joined by McMillan and Penguin Group in fighting Justice’s suit. HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group settled with Justice last April.

For those not following, this is part of the story:

Some consumer groups have defended Justice, saying Apple and publishers wrongly colluded to fix prices — which is illegal and sure to hurt consumers in the end, even if it created an alternative option to Amazon’s Kindle e-reader store.

You can read more at the Washington Post web site.

Looks like THIS is never going to end. But that's how it works. I have a friend who lost her eyesight who is in the middle of a malpractice suit. She has been waiting for a "speedy" trial for the past two years.

The Adele Biography Syndrome in Publishing

I'm a huge fan of Adele, so when I read somewhere recently there was a new bio out about the relatively short life she's lived so far, I was curious. I have eclectic taste in music, as I've posted before, and my favorite genre is rap music. But I do like that fact that Adele is bringing music with a melody back into style. She seems to be able to reach all generations and that's something that doesn't happen very often. There's another young singer just coming up that I think will be very big someday, and he happens to share my name. Trust me, he's good!

I'm also a huge fan of good non-fiction books...from memoir, to roman a clef, to bios. If they are well done, there's nothing more entertaining. Books like this take me away from fiction, which I'm always writing. I posted about a memoir written by RoseMarie Terenzio, a young woman who worked as JFK Jr.'s personal assistant while he was getting his magazine "George" off the ground, that I still consider one of my favorite books this year. It was honest, it was sad, it was exciting, and it wasn't trashy or dishy. And, JFK Jr was pushing forty years old at the time of his death, he was the son of two of the most celebrated people in world history, and he'd lived a fascinating life. As a professional, Ms. Terenzio has an excellent reputation. I didn't have to vet much to know that I wanted to read that book.

But it's different with a bio by Adele. She's only 24 and she's relatively new. She's also gone on record stating she's a very private person. My first thought is how much information could there be about her? So I started to search around for comments about the new bio that was released last week. For one thing I was interested in how Adele felt about the book. The best I could come up with was this:

New Book Promises To Tell All About Adele:

A new book promises to delve into the private life of none other than the ultra-private Adele. We don’t think she’s going to like this too much!

The Daily Mail reports that Marc Shapiro wrote an unauthorized biography on the starlet, due out next month. The book details Adele’s life from growing up with a single mom (or, as she would say, “mum”) in North London to her meteoric rise to superstardom. The bio will also cover her vocal cord issues as well as the ups and downs of her love life, the latter of which has been the subject of massive speculation ever since ’21′ first hit shelves.

Adele reportedly turned down numerous requests to be interviewed for the book, but Shapiro insists it’s not a gossipy piece … sort of. “Adele has still remained largely that salt-of-the-earth girl from Tottenham,” Shapiro said. “I tend to tell my stories without overt sensationalism.” Note the key word here, PopCrushers: “overt!” That means there may still be some subtle embellishments here and there.

The ‘Someone Like You’ singer hasn’t commented on the biography directly, but she has made it clear that while she appreciates her success and her fans, fame isn’t necessarily her thing. “I don’t want to be a celebrity,” she told Matt Lauer. “I don’t want to be in people’s faces, you know, constantly on covers of magazines that I haven’t even known I’m on.” She added, “I just wanna make music. I don’t want anyone chatting about me, really. I still hope I have a little bit of clout in 10 years. All I’ve ever wanted to do is sing.”

While I was searching for information about this book, I discovered it's not the first bio written about Adele. I honestly had no idea. It surprised me because, as I said, she's so young. So far, I've come up with at least five different bios by five different authors. I don't know who published them and I know nothing about the authors because I ultimately decided I'm not reading any of them at this point. From the reviews I've seen on a few (there aren't many), I'm not all that impressed. And I'm not linking to any of them in this post because I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.

As I said, I'm a huge fan of non-fiction when done well. But I'm not the biggest fan of trends that seem to pop up every now and then in the publishing world. It's that brainstorming mentality that irritates me the most. I've seen that in publishing, too. I have this feeling someone, somewhere sat down in a cheesy mess of an office in one of New York's outer boroughs and said, "Okay, let's brainstorm. What's hot? What's trending? What can make us a fast buck? Huzzah! Let's write a bio about Adele."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Tony and I Spent June as Pride Month...

First weekend: we put on lipstick, earrings, and high heels. Then skirts and camisoles. After that, we both grabbed a picnic basket, a rainbow flag, and skipped over to our local m/m romance learning center for a lecture on what is and what isn't considered "Gay Literature," given by a fascinating woman who swears she knows it all when it comes to "Gay Literature." Oh, by golly gosh, it was an exciting weekend to be sure. On Sunday afternoon, we wound up braiding K.Z. Snow's hair and painted Cat Johnson's toenails tipsy pink. (I love them both to death; I'm sure they know I'm only writing in jest.)

But seriously, this is what we really did all month. And take into consideration that we have our own gay pride in our own community that lasts a week in May. So it's not as if we don't support gay pride or the historic significance of gay pride as an event. We do have respect for it. We just don't like to turn it into a promotional event so we keep a low profile. In fact, as an author I make a point of not turning gay pride month...or week or day...into a promotional event for my books. That would be declasse.

The first weekend of June we drove down to Washington to visit a gay couple we've known for fifteen years. They've been together for twenty years just like we have and we don't get to see them often. On Saturday evening the four of us went to a fundraiser somewhere in a Washington suburb. After that, we returned to DC and went to clubs on Dupont Circle. For those who have never been to a club there, let's just say it's a very revealing experience in a literal sense. In one club, we ran into our high profile politician friend who has a weekend home in New Hope...a gay Democrat, not Republican, who is very much in the closet for personal reasons I respect.

The second weekend in June we drove out to Fire Island to visit my brother, who also happens to be gay. We don't see each other often unless it's a family event and we usually plan these things way in advance. I'm not a huge Fire Island fan because I get bored on beaches and I prefer to drive up to restaurants instead of walking to them. But we had fun in spite of my complaints. And trust me, we saw plenty of gay pride on Fire Island. If you haven't been there, it would be hard to describe on a pg rated blog.

The weekend after that I spent the entire day on Saturday dealing with my home. For the first time in two weeks I had a chance to mow and manicure...which is something I normally do every weekend in the summer unless we're away. We have three acres of very difficult property. The previous owners wanted a modern home with a limited plant palate and I've continued their original landscape design. On Sunday of that weekend we drove to Tony's dad's house and spent father's day with him. I took the day off on Monday that week and we drove to my dad's and spent a belated father's day with him.

Yesterday...Saturday...we drove over to Tony's other sister's home in Doylestown, PA, for a farewell party the family was throwing for Tony's younger brother. He and his family are moving out to Utah permanently and we knew it was the last time we would see them for a long time. Very emotional. But I did order (I don't bake, thank you) a cake with gay pride colors.

And today I worked on my property again.

Next weekend, the last weekend in pride month, June, we're driving to my other brother's home in New Jersey to celebrate my nephew's eighth grade graduation. On Sunday, if we're lucky, we might just figure out a way to go to tea dance at our local gay bar and spend a little time with gay people.

Of course...aside from braiding K.Z. Snow's hair...everything I listed above was about as derring-do as a hemorrhoid. But this is what two gay men do when they've been together for twenty years. They have professional, social, and family obligations that can't be ignored. Tony and I both have a great deal of respect for the concept of gay pride as an event, but at this point we are living gay pride every single moment of our lives and we don't necessarily need an event to remind us.

Gay pride isn't just a month, a week, or a day for us. Gay pride is a way of life. We don't use it to promote anything other than pride itself through our actions, and we've always been there to offer support both financially and physically to those who need it. The odds are you won't find us marching in a parade or wearing feathers and rhinestones, but we are...just like the majority of other gay men like us...trying to do it in our own way.

A Different Kind of Hetero...

I'm not talking about heterosexuals.

I'm talking about heteronyms.

And heteronyms are not to be mistaken with homonyms. Homonyms are those little mistakes we all make once in a while that seem to drive SOME people up the wall. I did it once and you would have thought I'd robbed a bank or something. But any idiot (and I include myself here) knows the difference between vile and vial (that was my mistake that an editor missed), vein and vane, or toad and towed. But I wouldn't consider it a huge mistake. Sometimes we're not thinking and we're moving too fast (which is why we need good editors...or why our own editing skills need to be developed). The only thing wrong with making a mistake like this is when some pedantic asshole is rude enough to call attention to that mistake in public. Now that's far worse, and far more low-end, than actually making the mistake.

But I digress once again (it's so easy to do nowadays with so many bee-atches around). I'm not talking about homonyms here. I'm talking about another kind of nym. According to The Heteronym Page, A Heteronym is a word that has the same spelling as another word but with a different pronunciation and meaning. These words are sometimes also called homographs.

If you're interested in words, it's a fascinating web site. Here are a few examples:

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his post in the desert.

Santa is ready to present the present.

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

And here's a link to The Heteronym Page, with more examples and links to more articles about heteronyms.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some Advice from Marie Lambda Author/Agent

I've mentioned before that I often become frustrated with several lit agent blogs because they don't seem to be discussing...or embracing...a lot of the changes happening in publishing. I rarely see anything mentioned at all about the many authors and small presses who have been working in digital publishing.

I see doom and gloom. I see sarcastic blog posts about books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Or I see absolutely nothing at all.

But I recently found one blog that's written by an author who is also an agent that does talk about all the changes happening right now. For the record I know nothing about her and I'm only going by what I've read on her blog. This post in particular was especially encouraging.

One of the reasons I am always interested in this kind of advice is because I don't know for certain which way my career will go. I know I'll always be writing something lgbt related, but I am not certain gay romance or mm romance will be as popular two or three years from now. I do think the romance genre in a mainstream sense will always thrive. But I'm not so sure about mm romance. And that's because I've seen too many trends come and go in the last twenty years. Of course there will always be a gay/lesbian genre. But the market is already saturated with mm romance, and anything that saturated usually winds down sooner or later. Just look at what happened to all the self-help books that trended in the 1980's if you don't believe me.

In any event, check out Marie Lambda's post. It's very positive and it offers insight about what is happening right now.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Remember Horn & Hardart?

A friend sent me an e-mail today that had those reminisce things listed and one of the items on the list was about Horn & Hardart. I hadn't seen anything like that in years. And I'm from a generation who missed the heyday.

But I still remember going Horn & Hardart in NY when I was a kid in the late 1970's.

Horn & Hardart was a food services company of the USA noted for operating the first food service automats in Philadelphia and New York City.

Philadelphia's Joseph Horn (1861–1941) and German-born, New Orleans-raised, Frank Hardart opened their first restaurant together in Philadelphia on December 22, 1888. The small (11 x 17 feet) lunchroom at 39 South Thirteenth Street had no tables, only a counter with 15 stools.

By introducing Philadelphia to New Orleans-style French-drip coffee, which Hardart promoted as their "gilt-edge" brew, they made their tiny luncheonette a local attraction. News of the coffee spread, and the business flourished. They incorporated as the Horn & Hardart Baking Company in 1898.[1]

Frankly, I wish they were still around today. I remember the food always being different. It wasn't always great. But it was different. Unfortunately, they are no longer around.

The last New York Horn & Hardart Automat (on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Third Avenue) closed in April 1991.

You can read more here in detail. Here's an interesting site with even more information.

We're Not All Like the Gays Who Went to the White House and Flipped Off Reagan's Portrait

When I saw this on Huff Post, I wanted to post something about it while it was still fresh.

I'm old enough to basically remember what it was like during the 1980's. I remember the criticism about how President Reagan wasn't doing anything. From what I recall he didn't do anything, and allegedly that's even been mentioned by his wife, Nancy, who was surrounded by gay men in her own personal circles all her life. If I had been old enough to vote at the time, I most likely wouldn't have voted for Reagan.

But if I were invited to the White House today I wouldn't do this:

If several raised fingers are any indication, some LGBT activists who visited the White House last week are fully evolved on what they think of President Ronald Reagan.

In a photo, removed from her Facebook page Friday afternoon (but posted here by the Philly Post), Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss is pictured waving two middle fingers at Reagan's presidential portrait. She did, at least, have the courtesy to tag Reagan in the photo.

I would have respect for the White House, respect for the sitting President, and respect for the fact that Reagan was President whether I agree with his politics or not (most of the time I didn't). I wouldn't be there as a "queer" American. I would be there as an American hoping to change things.

If I heard something like this,

President Barack Obama told attendees that he would be their "fellow advocate," saying he and first lady Michele Obama "have made up our minds" on marriage equality.

I might be so inclined to politely ask the current President and First Lady what took them so long to come to this decision, and if they have to power to make positive changes why they aren't doing it immediately. And then I would thank the President and his wife for their support, because we need all the support we can get.

But I wouldn't be flipping the bird to a dead President. I would be trying hard to let the rest of America know I'm not that much different than they are and I only want the same things they want.

And there are more like me. We're not all like the gays who went to the White House and flipped off Ronald Reagan's portrait. Unfortunately, that's all we see in the mainstream.

Can You Control What People Say About You Online?

Last night I found an interesting link through a web site I'd been reading that talked about author reputations and how all people in general are viewed online. The article I was reading was written by an amateur blogger who writes about publishing and has this grand image of herself as an online publishing authority. This blogger is not an author or in any way affiliated with the publishing industry. For the most part this blogger's posts are nothing more than links to other blogs...recycled information we can all find ourselves. But she's smart. She knows how to package bologna just the right way so people will buy it.

There was a blogger a few years ago called "Miss Snark." Allegedly she/he was a literary agent who blogged about publishing advice and all things related to publishing. I used to read it and I was very entertained by it. But that seems like a hundred years ago now. A good deal of the advice is now obsolete because publishing has changed in so many ways. At this point, if there were a blog like that now I wouldn't be reading it. And the reason would be the anonymity of the blogger. Miss Snark's true identity has never been revealed (there are rumors but nothing concrete) and although that didn't bother me back in the days when I wasn't taking online information very seriously (we were still writing queries via snail mail in 2007), it would creep me out today.

The most interesting thing about the Internet is that once something is written or posted about you online it is there forever. Nasty, loud self-promoting bloggers who know the Internet well know this, and that's partly why they do this. They also do it because it gives them hits and recognition they wouldn't have been able to generate otherwise. They know everyone loves a sideshow at the circus.

Bottom line: there are people on the Internet with an agenda and that agenda is to promote themselves in any possible way. And they don't care about anyone or anything.

But there's an interesting web site out there that claims they can control and fix what people say about you online. Here's something from their homepage:

Negative content hurts
The longer a bad link appears in your search results, the more people see it and the more damage it does to your career, finances, and your relationships.

In some cases this is very true. In others I'm not so sure it matters. I think most people still don't trust anything they read on the Internet, especially the negative things.

But sometimes all you need is one absolutely scathing item written about you by just one person and that can effect the outcome of everything you do. Whenever someone does a search for your name this scathing item will appear along with anything else you've ever done. And there's no recourse. Your only choice is to live with it and try to build your reputation in other ways.

The web site I'm linking to today seems legitimate.

We believe in our products so strongly we offer a Money Back Guarantee.

The only problem is that this isn't inexpensive. There's a list of prices you can check out on the homepage I linked to above.

Is this something I think is valuable? Yes. I do believe online reputation is important and I do believe that too many people don't understand how important it is and how important it will be in the future. I also believe that we'll be seeing more lawsuits generated from online attacks, where people have been defamed by quasi-journalists and bloggers looking to promote themselves...or who don't know how to mind their own business. But until this becomes more prominent, we'll either pay for services that will help, or we'll just live with it and constantly try to rebuild what someone else tried to ruin with just a few words.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On Moving Forward with Ravenous Romance...

Earlier this week I posted about Lori Perkins leaving Ravenous Romance. Although this was sad news to hear, for me this is something I've seen many times in publishing.

In the past twenty years I've seen editors switch jobs from one house to another, I've seen editors become literary agents, I've seen literary agents start their own agencies and then join other agencies. I've also seen the reverse, where agents leave literary agencies to start their own. Publishing can be a transient business and it's not uncommon to see a publishing professional make an announcement about a new position or venture after working three or four years in another position.

I remember losing one of my favorite editors a while back at Alyson Books and I was devastated for a while. I loved the way he edited, I loved the anthologies he created, and I loved working with him. Since then, our paths have crossed and we've collaborated on other projects in e-publishing.

I'm going into detail like this because I don't want people to think that Ravenous Romance itself is changing in any way. I've contacted Holly and it's business as usual. Although I don't have any titles out with them at the present time with my own name, I do have a book coming out with a pen name. I've had other books published with ravenous with pen names I would never reveal because that would contradict the entire concept of having a pen name. I do it because it's more about switching genres than hiding a deep dark secret.

So whenever you see that an editor or other publishing professional is making a life change, that doesn't mean anything other than that. They are making a life change they think is the best professional decision for them and it has nothing to do with the publisher. As I said, publishing is a small industry and we run into each other all the time when we least expect it. It's also part of the fun. I'm working with an editor at Cleis right now that I worked with at Alyson almost a decade ago. And I'm not in the least surprised at this point.

I wouldn't be surprised if I ran into Lori Perkins one day in the future and wound up working with her again. That's the way it goes.

Follow Up on Reviews at Kobo and B&N; Is it First or Firstly...or Seventeenthly?

I said yesterday that I'd write a short post where I think reviews tend to be different from retail web sites like Amazon and goodreads.

First, I don't know why this is.

Second, I could be wrong. Mabye the reviews aren't any different.

Third, I own two Kobo e-readers and I do a great deal of shopping on Kobo. What I have seen are good honest reviews...and I'm not talking about good reviews in the sense of stellar raves for books. I've seen my share of negative reviews there, too. The voices of those reviews sound honest to me. And, I tend to see less of this on Kobo and B&N: ten five star reviews and ten one star reviews for each book.

Again, I don't know why this is and I could be wrong. There might not be anything to it and maybe it's just my personal preference.

I've heard some claim this might be true because Amazon is the equivalent of a low-end retail flea market compared to other retail web sites. In the real world retail shops are set apart by the prices, the kind of environment they create, and the kind of merchandise they sell. I owned a gallery for ten years where I had some items priced at twenty-five dollars. But for the most part my price point average was $200.00 and up. And that's because I was representing artists and it was my job to sell their work. In a small boutique you can't depend on low end volume sales, you can only depend on high end item sales if you're going to stay in business for longer than six months.

So are B&N and Kobo considered higher end retail web sites? I can't answer that question either.

But I can say this. I didn't begin above sentences by using the words "Firstly and Secondly." I was trained to avoid those words. I know there is a mild debate over this, but I stick with the way I was taught by competent English professors who spent their lives studying and teaching English.

Last, (not lastly) here's a link to Random House that explains this debate about first and firstly in more detail.

Granted that neither first nor firstly is a hanging offense, even professional lexicographers may have a personal preference. I happen to think your repeated deletions of -ly represent time well spent. Partly this is a matter of consistency: I can't imagine anyone saying "eleventhly" or "seventeenthly"--and even those who do use "firstly" in enumerations would never use it in any other adverbial context ("The Smyths arrived at the party firstly and left lastly?"). But perhaps another reason to avoid firstly and secondly is that they resemble hypercorrections--inappropriate forms substituted for perfectly good ones, out of a desire to sound especially correct.

Free Excerpt from .99 E-book, "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"

I often like to post free excerpts of books I've released that go beyond the excerpts published on retail web sites where e-books are sold. The following is one from "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street."

The scene takes place during a transitional period in the novel where Jonah and David are getting to know each other better. The last sentence of the excerpt is important because the story is told through Jonah's POV, and his profession is making and designing puppets.

After the night they made love in David’s playroom, Jonah stopped going back to his mom and dad’s house in Queens to sleep. He did return later that week to pick up a few of his things, like his favorite clothes, a few personal items, and his suitcases filled with puppets. He told his parents he was renting a room at David’s house on Delancey Street and thinking about getting a studio apartment of his own. He didn’t tell them he was in a relationship with David or that they were living together because he still wasn’t certain where he and David were headed in that respect. He loved David with all his heart by then. But some days David made him want to kick everything he came into contact with.

David often sent him mixed signals he couldn’t figure out. And the way David treated other people made Jonah’s stomach tighten and pull. One minute they would be touring one of the restaurants in one of the casinos David owned in Atlantic City and everything would be perfect. The restaurant employees would kill themselves to please David; they bowed and treated him as if he were a king. David would smile and make light comments in approval and everyone took a deep breath of relief. And then David would spot something small, like a smudge of dirt on the floor or a stray crumb of bread on a counter in the kitchen, and he would go berserk. His arms would fly up, his face would turn red, and he would rant about how he wanted perfection at all times. Jonah watched him single people out and bring them to their knees. Someone always paid a price, and it was usually the person closest to him at the time.

On a warm night in June, Jonah watched David fire an assistant chef over a chipped coffee cup without missing a breath. And the chip was so small Jonah could hardly see it. By the time David finished screaming at her she ran for the exit with tears streaming down her face.

On the way home from the Casino that night, Jonah refused to even look at David. When David asked him what was wrong, Jonah lifted his chin and said, “I’ve never seen anyone treat another human being in such a shabby way in my life. I wanted to hit you over the head with a frying pan in that kitchen.”

David punched the door panel, which was usually the way he reacted when he was frustrated with Jonah. “The mug had a chip. My customers spend a lot of money in that casino and I expect perfection. That idiot knew better.”

“Nothing’s perfect, David, least of all you."

“Neither are you,” David said. “In fact you’re so imperfect I wonder why I have you around.”

David had a way of cutting into Jonah’s heart when Jonah least expected it. But Jonah knew how to fight back. “I never said I was perfect. And if you don’t like it you can just fire me like all the others. I’ll live, trust me. And I won’t run away screaming and crying like that poor woman did today. You can count on that. I’ll look you in the eye, turn around, and I won’t look back once.”

David punched the dashboard. “Maybe I will fire you. You’re the most difficult man I’ve ever met.”

Jonah lowered his tone to what almost resembled a deep growl. “Go head. Do it now. I’ll pull over and just get out of the car right here on the Garden State Parkway. You don’t own me, David. And you’d better get that straight once and for all. I’m not with you for money, cars, or a job. You might own all the other people who work for you, but not me. And don’t you ever forget that.” Although it went against Jonah’s basic nature to react this way, he knew he had to be strong with David. If he let down his guard for a second, he feared David would devour him the same way he devoured everyone else in his life.

“If you’re so unhappy with me and you think I’m such an ogre, why don’t you just leave?”

Jonah softened his voice. He knew when to lighten up with David. “Because I won’t make it that simple for you. I think there’s hope for you, David. I don’t think you’re an ogre. I think you’re a wonderful man and I think you can change. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t be here.”

“I’m not one of your puppets,” David said. “You can’t mold me and design me into something I’ll never be.”

CBS Parodies Dancing with the Stars: "Dancing ON the Stars"

I found this amusing, and I'm not talking about the photo of Bristol Palin doing the Wasilla hoochie-coochie.

I'm talking about the rift between ABC and CBS. I don't know how many others will find it amusing. But even if you don't find it amusing it is a great example of parody in a snarky way. And like most parody, there is a certain amount of truth to it that hits home.

Evidently, CBS and ABC are at war right now over issues about reality shows, "Big Brother," and "Glass House." CBS (Big Brother) is suing ABC (Glass House) because they say ABC allegedly stole their concept. So in order to really piss ABC off, CBS released this fake press release, dissing ABC's "Dancing WITH the Stars."

Los Angeles, June 21, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, ground-breaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.

The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.

The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.

“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air. “Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”

“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter...

Since I've been getting the Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter I've been sharing a few interesting things from it here on the blog. Now that I have two titles out with KDP, I'm interested in learning more in all regards. From what I hear, so are a lot of other authors.

I'm sure this letter from Jeff Bezos will hit home for many aspiring writers. As a sidenote, I didn't read the book that is discussed below and I'm not endorsing it or promoting it. I'm just passing on facts from the newsletter itself.

In case you didn’t see the letter from Jeff Bezos we featured on the homepage this week, it was dedicated to KDP and highlighted a great blog post from KDP author Jessica Park (Flat-Out Love). Below is the text version. Enjoy!

Dear Customers,

"Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with? You bet."

That's Jessica Park, who hit road block after road block trying to get her book Flat-Out Love in front of readers. You can read her incredible blog post on IndieReader (also picked up by HuffPost) detailing her perseverance and how she finally succeeded by doing it herself with Kindle Direct Publishing. It's heartwarming and tells a powerful story about what KDP makes possible.

Kindle Direct Publishing empowers serious authors to reach readers, build a following, make a living, and to do it on their own terms. Readers get lower prices, authors get higher royalties, and we all get a more diverse book culture (no expert gatekeepers saying "sorry but that will never work"). KDP is already meaningful--22 of our top 100 best-selling Kindle books so far this year are KDP books--and more great stories are being published every day. You can find Flat-Out Love here. Thanks for being a customer.

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

News from BEA about KDP:

We had a jam-packed week of events at Book Expo America (BEA). This year’s attendance allowed us to connect with current KDP authors and many authors who were considering using KDP to publish their books.

Our presence began with a booth at the uPublishuU event on June 5th, prior to the start of the main show, which included a session featuring KDP authors and Amazon Author & Publisher Relations Director, Jon Fine. During BEA, which ran from June 5th – June 8th, we had the opportunity to meet and answer the questions of many authors and publishers. Additionally we hosted several sessions at our booth focusing on KDP and Amazon’s other independent publishing entities: CreateSpace for print and ACX for audiobooks. The sessions drew large crowds of interested people who were able to ask us questions and engage in Q&A with KDP authors Barbara Freethy, Theresa Ragan, and Tina Folsom. Barbara, Theresa, and Tina shared their stories of why they decided to publish independently through KDP and what success they’ve experienced since. In addition, two of our authors, James Altucher (I Was Blind But Now I See) and Theresa Ragan (Abducted and Return of the Rose) signed copies of their CreateSpace books for their fans and visitors. We heartily enjoyed meeting all the wonderful KDP authors who were in attendance at BEA and look forward to sharing more of your stories with our author community

We’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and around the world, 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.

For Five Bucks She'll Comment on your Blog Up to Twenty Times...

I've posted about before. It's that web site where people will do basically anything for five bucks.I have read that you can hire them to write book reviews for you on Amazon (some actually do read the books from what I've heard) in order to boost your sales. While I've never done anything like this, and never will do anything like this, I do think it's an interesting thing to know...that all reviews might not be reliable. Anyone could argue that the person who left the review actually read the book. The problem is how do we know the person really liked the book, and for that matter how to we know the person really did read the book. You can blame that on living all my life in either the NY area or the Philadelphia area. We aren't the most trusting people. And the Internet is a breeding ground for all things questionable.

And now I see bloggers can actually hire people to comment on their blogs:

I will comment on your blog posts in any way that you want as long as the limit will be 200 words. You could have 10 comments in 20 words or whatsoever. The comments that you will get won't appear spammy and they will certainly be related to the topic of your blog post. I will also cater to those who are looking to boost their forum's posts.

So what this seems to be saying is the person offering this blog comment service will not only be leaving questionable comments, but they will also be sockpuppeting on your comment thread. It's not the first time I've seen sockpuppeting, but it's the first time I've ever seen anyone admit to it without a hint of shame. It's not something I've ever thought of doing, not in the seven years I've been blogging. And now I'm starting to wonder if people actually do things like this on blogs.

Unfortunately, this all leads back to one basic rule of the Internet: never trust anything you read unless there is a reliable source willing to back it up because the chances are it's false. I allow anonymous comments here on this blog because I do think there are times when people need to comment anonymously for various reasons. Some of my past posts on book pirating are good examples. The reasons for anonymity in some cases are valid. But I also have comment moderation on at all times, if you notice, and there's a reason for that. I've had everything from nasty comments to death threats. And while I can take those things fairly well (I'm a very strong person) I would rather not subject my readers to things like that.

So if you're interested in taking sockpuppeting to new levels you can check out fiver. I'm not linking for two reasons: one, I'm not going to help promote anyone who does this. Two, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read a comment thread again without wondering whether or not the blogger did something like this. And that's sad.

But until there are rules for things like this on the Internet, and I'm including Amazon and all web sites with all products where people leave personal opinions that can't be backed up, it's hard to take anything seriously anymore. Just imagine how nice life would be if we knew, for certain, that every single review/comment we ever saw on Amazon or any web site could be backed by a name and an identity. Or if every single comment we saw on a blog comment thread was legit and could be backed up with a name and identity. But then I also wonder how many comments and reviews would magically disappear from the Internet never to be seen again. I could be wrong. But it would be interesting to find out.

Tomorrow I'll post something about web sites where I do think reviews and comments can be least trusted more in the sense that they look real.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Edith Wharton by Lev Raphael Huff Post

I somehow became linked to posts written by Lev Raphael. In this case it's a good thing because I tend to enjoy Lev's articles.

This one is particularly excellent. It's about Edith Wharton, one of my favorite authors.

(questions)I kept hearing over drinks and dinners was this: when is it Wharton's turn? Yes, there've been some movies of her work, but barely a trickle compared to the Austen flood.

Nobody's expecting Wharton to ever be as popular as Jane Austen, with all the attendant websites and tchotchkes. After all, Wharton had a much more jaundiced view of life than Austen did, and she's unlikely to be hijacked as a writer of romances, the way Austen has been.

I'm a huge Edith Wharton fan. I've read her work more than once, and I still go back and read it when nothing else looks particularly interesting. If anything, I'm not too big on Jane Austen, and I think Edith Whatron has always been highly under-recognized when compared to Austen.

I'm especially fond of Ethan Frome.

From the wiki link above:

Ethan Frome is set in a fictional New England town named Starkfield, where an unnamed narrator tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man with dreams and desires that end in an ironic turn of events. The narrator tells the story based on an account from observations at Frome's house when he had to stay there during a winter storm.[2]

The novel is framed by the literary device of an extended flashback. The first chapter opens with an unnamed narrator who, while spending a winter in Starkfield, sets out to learn about the life of a mysterious local figure named Ethan Frome, a man who had been injured in a horrific “smash-up” twenty-four years before. Frome is described as “the most striking figure in Starkfield”, “the ruin of a man” with a “careless powerful look…in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain”.

If you haven't read Wharton, you might want to check her out. The writing style is absolute magic, and you'll see it's so different from the way fiction is written today.

The photo above is Edith Wharton and her home in Lenox, MA. Here's a link to Galleycat to read more.

Are There Gay Christians?

I know a lot of people wonder if there are gay Christians. So this should be interesting. I read that Fred Karger, gay presidential candidate, will be on Bryan Fischer's conservative Christian radio show.

From Buzzfeed:

Karger reached out first to Fischer, who responded with a voicemail to Karger's assistant Kevin Miniter saying he would "love to have Mr. Karger on."

The interview is set to air on Thursday.

From Fred Karger's Timeline:

I'll be a guest on Bryan Fischer's radio show this Thursday (June 21) at 2:15pm CT.

I honestly don't even know if I get this show where I live. But I will check it out and try to listen.

What always surprises me is that the LGBT community is sometimes portrayed as being anti-Christian when I know for a fact that many in the LGBT community do consider themselves Christian. Though I'm not very religious, I have very good friends who go to a very liberal Episcopal church right here in New Hope where there is a huge LGBT congregation. I know others from my area who go to weekly services at a Unitarian Church near Princeton, NJ. Most of whom are all former Catholics.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Changes At Ravenous Romance...

I literally just found out that Lori Perkins, editorial director at Ravenous Romance, resigned last Friday. You can read more in an announcement she made on her blog, here.

It was a very busy Monday. I've had deadlines with one publisher and I've been multi-tasking with issues at Amazon. I didn't have time to read my e-mails until about an hour ago, which is something I rarely put off all day.

I have had a lot of titles published with Ravenous in the past four years and I've enjoyed working with Lori. She's not only a professional in every sense of the word, she's also a very nice, decent human being. I met Lori through blogging. I started to follow her blog about six years ago and I enjoyed her posts about publishing. To say I was stunned to hear this news would be an understatement. And I'll miss her. Lori challenged me in ways no one else ever did.

And I'd like to wish Lori the very best. I'll miss working with her. If you go back to some of my posts from four years ago you'll see where I described how hard everyone involved with RR worked in the very beginning: authors, editors, copyeditors, and all staff at RR. It was a very intense...and challenging...time for me. I don't think I ever posted about this before. I had slowed down a year before that to having only about four or five things published that year because Tony had been hospitalized, near death, in a coma for three months, in the summer of 2007. There is a doctor in Doylestown Hospital that calls Tony his, "Miracle." Tony came home from the hospital weighing 99 pounds. He was still recuperating when I was approached about writing for Ravenous Romance. The timing was perfect; I was ready to jump back in full time after so many intense months of dealing with doctors and hospitals. I plunged into the work and didn't stop for a break for almost a year.

I also received an e-mail from Ravenous Romance today letting me know that they are moving forward with a few exciting plans for the future. Part of being in publishing is the ability to constantly change and move forward. As an author I've had to do this many times and I will continue to do it. I don't know any details about what Ravenous has planned for the future, but I'm very excited to hear what they will be. I have a soft spot in my heart for Ravenous Romance and I always will for many reasons. I'm very fond of Holly Schmidt and Allan Penn, who are still in charge at Ravenous. And they know they have my full support.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Literary Authors Switching to Genre

I posted about genre authors switching genres the other day, and now I would like to follow up with a link about how some literary authors seem to be switching to genre fiction.

I find this more than interesting. And if this is a trend what does it say about where literary fiction stands today?

It's a very insightful article, and one that makes me wonder how many more changes we can expect. I would guess that the same people who weren't taking e-publishing and e-books very seriously two or three years ago are now beginning to see things differently. I also have a feeling their agents might be quietly urging them on.

You can read the article in full right here.

25% of Amazon Book Sales Come from Fifty Shades of Grey

I'm always looking for interesting posts about books and e-books. I was going to post something about Jeff Rivera, but then I read about a slight kerfuffle he had last spring and decided not to go there. I don't know Jeff, but I once wrote a piece about his web site and he personally thanked me in a very nice way. He seems like a nice guy and I hear he's a good author. And I tend not to follow online flame wars too closely.

To ignore Fifty Shades of Grey nowadays is practically impossible. My 75 year old mom...who reads e-books on an iPad...asked me just yesterday what I thought of FSoG. Her Red Hat Lady friends were talking about it. I laughed and told her I liked it, but it's something that she might not like. She's more Jodi Piccoult than E.L. James. Whether or not she buys FSoG and reads it is anyone's guess. But I sure would like to hear what the Red Hat Ladies she hangs with these days are talking about at THEIR high teas if they are reading FSoG.

The article I'm linking to below about FSoG is interesting because it claims that FSoG is responsible for 25% of book sales on Amazon. That's a HUGE percentage. And when you factor in what other bestselling established mainstream authors are selling, that doesn't leave much room for genre authors and small start up e-presses selling e-books.

I know very little about Amazon sales ranks. One of my publishers recently gave a good explanation about them in a yahoo group but I hesitate to publish anyone's comments without permission. All I do know is that these sales rankings are like roller coasters that change every hour...and they leave a lot to be desired because they are so hard to figure out.

Which now leads me to the subject of amazon bestseller lists, more specifically bestselling genre lists. I truly have no idea what constitutes being on an Amazon bestseller list in a specific category/genre like gay/lesbian. I'm learning all this as I go and probably won't know more for at least the next six months. Because I opted into the Amazon Lending Program and my two indie books are .99 e-books, I'm not taking advantage of the 70% author cut Amazon offers for books priced higher than 2.99 (I think that's the number, don't quote me).

As I said, I'm still learning. I have no complaints. After twenty years of being published I wanted to find out what self-publishing was all about and I wanted to do it slowly and quietly. I've done that so far I'm not unhappy with the results. I'm thrilled with all I've been learning these past six months. I'm also still an advocate of finding an agent and/or a publisher to work with, too. In other words, I don't believe agents or good publishers are going to disappear. I don't believe self-publishing is going to disappear either. I just think many things are going to evolve in the next five to ten years.

Because if Fifty Shades of Grey is making 25% of all Amazon book sales as this article claims, this tells me something about e-books in general. It's still uncharted territory and a lot of us are pioneers. The post I'm linking to below is short and sweet. I found it very interesting...if not slightly disappointing as well. But then again the key word here could be "claims."

One thing I can say for certain that has nothing to do with Amazon or self-publishing. I've been on other bestseller lists in the past with books I haven't self-published and it's been nice. It's been an honor. But I still have a mortgage.

Report claims 25% of all Amazon book sales in June are Fifty Shades of Grey

But 25% of book sales at Amazon? That would perhaps indicate that the ebook market is still not very mature, and that as readers struggle with ‘discoverability’ in the massive flood of ebooks on the market, are still prone to flocking towards a single hit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Authors Switching Genres...

Authors switching genres is a topic that has fascinated me for a while. Mainly because I've written in other genres and I like writing in other genres. As a career writer I like to think...though I may be the only one who agrees...that I can write anything in any genre I want. In fact, it's more of a challenge to write in another genre after a writer has been working in one genre for a long time.

Now, whether or not readers will follow an author to another genre is a completely different matter...especially when the author is known for writing specific genre fiction.

I've had hetero romances published under pen names. I've even had a few m/m novels published under a pen name in a different sub-genre than where I usually write. And though I know this isn't exactly the same as an author switching genres with the name he or she has used for one particular genre (a name with a strong fan base with which readers are familiar), I've also written in different genres with my own name and I know what to expect there as well.

Each time it was like I was twenty years old and starting from scratch. No complaints. I understand this and I expected this each time. I would probably react the same way as a reader. But more than that, according to the post I'm linking to below, most readers seem to feel the same way.

Though difficult, this is isn't necessarily bad for an author. Sometimes, if the author is willing to make the switch, building a new fan base and readership can be not only challenging but fun. In this case, I believe the author has to go with his or her heart. But he or she also has to be prepared to accept the reality they may be starting all over again.

Below is an interesting blog post, especially with regard to what the readers say in the comment thread.

Reader RANT (names are not used to protect the innocent, however, heed and take note, as we’ve all at one time thought this, heard this, and reacted . . . )

Dear Author: Why are you doing this to ME. I so LOVE what you write,used to write; your historical romances uplifted me, they let me escape from my boring world and take me to another land where I can dream . . . so why in heaven’s name did you decide to write contemporary romances??? Do you really think I want to read about everyday life — I’ve got enough of that please & thank you! I count on you to fulfill my dreams and mind with fun stories to remember as the day goes by, until I can read them once again — if you wrote more than two books a year I wouldn’t be so irate — but we all know that is not the case . . oh, woe is me . . what am I to do!

To read the answer and the comment thread, you can follow this link.