Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Berenstain Bear Family Addresses Chick-Fil-A

I have posted about the Berenstain Bears here before, only I can't find the link. If someone else can, please let me know.

The reason why I posted about them previously was because the Berenstain family is local, in Solebury, PA, which surrounds New Hope where I live. In my next release, Chase of a Dream, I even mention the Berenstain Bears in my book because it's Culum Mayfield's favorite bedtime ritual...I had no idea they were associated with Chick-fil-a.

But in light of what's been happening with the Chick-fil-a corporation, The Berenstain Bear family has issued this statement regarding their association with Chick-fil-a.

I read this in Towerload:

Following the Jim Henson Company's abrupt decision to end its relationship with Chick-fil-a over the company's anti-gay donations, the restaurant chain began offering a series of books from the Berenstain Bears series instead, which has apparently horrified The Berenstain Family.

I know the Berenstain family has always been supportive of the LGBT community in this area, and I'm glad they made a statement regarding this. Though I rarely get into anything political, I would have distanced myself from it, too. And I would have been just as horrified to be associated with Chick-fil-a. Of course I agree that Chick-fil-a has a right to their opinions. But we all have a right NOT to support those opinions.

The Secrets Gay Men Keep From Straights..Really, Bud?.

There are, indeed, little secrets gay men keep from straights. And when I read the article to which I'm linking now I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write a blog post about these secrets. I wish I could agree more with the secrets mentioned in the blog post. But it's a great example of what I'm always trying to get across about gay people from my personal experience as a gay man who doesn't have a political agenda.

As gay men and lesbians get closer and closer to the mainstream they've often traded in their image as the queer radicals who started the Stonewall Riots for the milquetoast assimilationists who want to get married and have kids and put HRC bumper stickers on their cars.

In some cases I'm sure this is true. But what the author of the article fails to mention is that all these gay men and lesbians who seem so conservative were always that conservative and they were always there lurking in the shadows. It's just that they are now more visible than ever before as they mainstream. They are not, and they have never been radicals who have "traded in" anything, and not all would put an HRC bumper sticker on their car. In all fairness, the author also plays it very safe and states that not all gays are like this. But the overall impression the article gives is that most gays are like this. And I find that is simply just not true. At least it's not true in my circles. Maybe in places like New York or San Francisco, but not in what I consider most of real America...you know, those of us unimportant gays living in flyover states.

This quote is interesting:

There, I said it. Bottoming is fucking great. Yes, it hurts every time. Yes it is sometimes messy (Santorum is just not a candidate in Iowa). But it is always fucking worth it.

Frankly, I'd like to focus more on the political comment this guy made than the vulgar reference to anal sex. Here's a shock you won't see on gawker: not all gays hate Rick Santorum. They might not get him all the time. They might not like everything he says and what he stands for all the time. But they don't all hate him as much as the loudest radical gays do. I'm not political, and I don't discuss politics anywhere any time. I probably wouldn't vote for Santorum. But there are gay people who are conservative and have been pushed into corners and have been taught to believe that if they are conservative there is something fundamentally wrong with them. That's beginning to change. Trust me, I know quite a few gay conservatives who are not feeling this way anymore and they are becoming more vocal about it. So this reference that all gays agree on the same politics always amazes me, and makes me wonder about how presumptuous some people can be, because in reality one of the biggest secrets gays hide are there political opinions these days.

This little gem made me smile:

For those who don't know, poppers are an inhalant that is rather easy to come by in most adult book stores or gay leather shops. It's amyl nitrite and it's sold as "room deodorizer" or "video head cleaner" or some other preposterous bullshit like that. Homosexuals love this stuff.

So I'm supposed to love this stuff? Well let me tell you that this is NOT something I love, nor is it something I do ever. I did try it once, back when I was single and going to clubs all the time, and I thought I was going to die. It was the worst feeling I've ever had and I still, to this day, do not see what some gay men find appealing about poppers. I think I would rather look at nude photos of Joy Behar than ever do a popper again. I'd rather see muscial comedy or read a romance with a woman in a long red gown on the cover than inhale a popper. And I know plenty of other gay men who will back me up on this.

This isn't a topic I'd bring up in public anywhere, but since the author of the article wrote it I'm giving an example:

See the discussion about "power bottom" above, except the difference is, 99.9% of gay men love to suck dick. Therefore, if you call us a cocksucker, it says something more about you than it does about us.

No arguments here about the love of oral sex. However, if you call me a cocksucker in the wrong context, I'm going to kick the shit out of you. Now THAT'S a gay secret you don't hear often, the gay guy sticking up for himself. And I'll do it, trust me.

About gay celebs:

Straight people think, "Oh, the gays love Madonna and Lady Gaga and Kathy Griffin." Yes, it's true, but there is a class of gay superstars you don't even know about. You think gay people love Gaga?

Another myth all the way around. Kathy Griffin makes me gag...and I mean heave big time. Madonna I'm on the fence about. Lady Gaga is okay, but she'd do anything to get attention. No harm there; she's extremely bright. But she's also full of shit. Personally, this gay man would rather listen to rap music. And I know I'm in the minority there because I love rap music so much. But I also like some country, and some hard rock. This one is tricky because there are a lot of gay men who do like Madonna (I'm not so sure about Kathy Griffin) and Lady Gaga, but my point is that just as many don't like them. You just don't hear about those gays very often.

This one about having sex with straight guys made me laugh:

When homophobes always have a gay panic and say gay men "all want to have sex with me," someone will always tell them, "That's stupid. We don't want to have sex with you." That's true—because that guy is ugly. If he was hot, gay guys will want to have sex with him.

Not always true. The fact is that gay men are attracted to men but that doesn't always mean that because a guy, straight or gay, is hot a gay man is going to be attracted to him. Tony and I laugh about this all the time. He'll see a guy and say isn't he hot, and I'll just roll my eyes. I'll do the same thing at another time and he'll look at me as if I'd lost my mind. There are no rules for attraction, gay or straight. You're either attracted to someone or you're not. Frankly, I find Joel Stein to be one of the most attractive men on the planet and he is straight. But I don't find other good looking straight guys all that attractive. Gay men can also be attracted to women sometimes, too, and that's never discussed. The only reason I watch HLN News in the morning is because Robin Meade is so hot.

This one kind of shocked me a little:

What HRC and other gay rights groups would like to sell the straight public is that gay couples are just like straight married couples.

The author is talking about monogamy here, and multiple partners. I'm not even going to comment on gay couples this time. I'm zooming right in on the straight couples I know. Has this guy seen the divorce statistics with straight couples? He clearly never my met my ex-sister-in-law...emphasis on the EX part. There are just as many straight couples out there screwing around as there are gay couples. Tony and I have lived in our home for ten years. In that ten year time span we have one neighbor who has been through three husbands. We don't ask. We mind our own business. But you can't help notice these things, and I do have an inquiring mind. The sad fact is that half the people I know in relationships, gay or straight, are screwing around now. The good thing is that the other half isn't, so things aren't all that bad.

How about this one?

Straight guys always say, "It must be great to be gay because you can get laid any time." Yes, it's true. We can get it anywhere, anytime.

Oh yeah, sure you can...if you are into trolls lurking around at rest areas and state parks. The fact is, and I learned this personally from my single days when I used to cruise, I usually went home alone and frustrated every single time. The people who go to those so-called cruise spots are NOT people anyone wants to have sex with. At least I never did. So getting laid is NOT any easier for a gay guy than it is for a straight guy unless you are willing to lower your standards considerably. Gay guys can also get laid anytime they want if they are willing to pay for it...just like straight guys. But I've never paid for sex once in my life, and I don't see that ever happening in the future either. I have nothing against the concept of it, but I never liked the attitude of those who get paid for sex and think they have the upper hand. It never worked for me. And if I were going to pay for sex, my attitude would be I have the money and I have the upper hand, not you, cutie.

This is probably the only one I completely agree with. The author is talking about how gay men feel about drag queens and drag shows.

Drag queens are great! Some of my best friends are drag queens, and some of them put on great shows. But we see drag queens all the damn time.

I've never been a huge fan of bad drag. I like good female impersonators like the ones I've seen in Vegas. I like campy drag if the intention is funny. But as for low-end drag shows and lip syncing, I'll pass. And don't give me that double-snapping drag queen attitude if you know what's good for you. I have never seen it to fail. You take a nice quiet guy and put a wig and earrings on him and he turns into an obnoxious, loud mouth who thinks he can get away with anything. I've had more run-ins in night clubs with obnoxious drag queens than I care to remember, and I stay as far away from them as I can. That kind of attitude doesn't work with me, and if you think I'm bad you should see Tony go after them. It can be very entertaining sometimes.

I do think the article in gawker hit some points that aren't completely wrong. Unfortunately, it's just more of the same old thing we see far too often in the mainstream written about gay people. I know lesbians and bi-sexuals who feel the same way I do. I find that transgenders are the most misrepresented group of all time, and that's a shame. Because we in the lgbt community get tired of always being misrepresented and expected to be a certain way. The worse part is that this often happens from other people in the lgbt community who aren't as informed as they should be...or have a strong poltiical agenda they are trying to push. I've said it before and I'll say it again until my last breath: gay people are all different; just like straight people are all different. We aren't all attracted to the same things, we don't all agree on the same politics and religion, and we are not all the way we've been portrayed by the media. And that's probably the biggest secret we've been keeping all along.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cover Preview: That Cowboy in the Window...Gender-Bending Themes

Here's the cover for my new Loveyoudivine.com release, THAT COWBOY IN THE WINDOW.

If you're looking for romance with a woman in a long red gown on the cover, this might not be the book for you. This is more about the personal journey of an individual who has always known what he wanted but wasn't quite sure how to get it. It's funny at times; it stings at other times. It's LGBT fiction, not m/m romance and I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong impression about it.

There is a cowboy and there is a dark side to him. But I think there's a happy ending, in spite of the fact that it's not the traditional happily-ever-after. In fact, we should all be this lucky in our lives to come to this conclusion.

I'll post more when it's released.

As for the cover, I think Dawne Dominique nailed this one!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Almost All Gay Students Hear Homophobic Language in School and Why I Still Have Trouble with the "Q" Word

The reason I'm posting about this is because I do know that things have changed a lot since I was in school in the 70's and 80's. And, I also remember when I was in school there was a teacher who stopped someone in the middle of gay name-calling. I think I was like in the 3rd grade, and a few kids were bickering about something I don't recall. All I remember is one calling another "fag." And the teacher heard it, stepped in, and she "handled" it in a way I've always respected.

She didn't just tell the kid not to use the word. She went into an hour long explanation for the entire class, explaining why it was wrong to use words like "fag" or "queer." Maybe this is why I have such a hard time embracing the Q on the end of LGBT Q. To me that word has always represented something negative...or odd that doesn't quite fit in. And even though I know where they are going by wanting to force the Q on us, I'm still not fond of it. And if you call me a Queer and I'm not paying attention, you'd better start running.

But this article is interesting because it shows that homophobic language still does exist in schools. I do know that it is markedly different now that it was thirty years ago because I hear this from nephews and nieces all the time. In fact, they don't even seem to think gay is an issue.

But it sounds like the study is authentic:

The University of Cambridge research for Stonewall’s School Report 2012, launched at its Education for All conference, included a national survey of 1,614 young people.

This is interesting, too:

In schools where teaching staff never challenge homophobic remarks, the rate of homophobic bullying is far higher than in schools where such language is always challenged at 71 per cent compared to 43 per cent.

You can read more here. I honestly don't think it makes a difference that the study was done in the UK. And I do think that if a study like this were done in the US the results would be the same. Because now the language isn't as blunt and crude as it used to be. Many times when straight people call something "gay" in a derogatory way it's just as insulting. They might not mean to do it. But it stings just the same.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Facebook At a Loss...Authors Be Wary of Trends

I've been following this saga with Facebook with great interest because I've always been an extremely conservative investor (real estate, and only in resort areas...never flipping), and because I'm curious about whether or not online businesses like Facebook actually generate money through advertising.

From cnet.com:

More specifically, since the close of trading on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg has lost almost $3 billion, at least on paper. (His total stake is still worth about $11.8 billion, a far cry from the $19 billion he held at the IPO price).

Of course this is just all hype now, and speculation to long term investors who invest wisely and are in for the long haul. No one really knows how FB will do in the future. I'm personally on the fence about it. It's still a gamble any way you look at it, and I'm not convinced anything solely based on advertising revenue is a solid investment. I would be thinking very differently if they charged people to use FB. But then again, I wouldn't BE on FB if anyone charged me to use it. So it's going to be interesting to see how all this plays out. I was right about QVC stock, and wrong about EBay stock in the past. I knew home shopping would take off, but I thought EBay was a joke.

This article is also a little frightening:

If Facebook had a “dislike” button, the social media giant would have the most clicks. A new report shows that the company may be nearing the end of its timeline, setting a record low among social media sites.

After a year of radical changes to the world’s largest social media website, Facebook’s reputation is dwindling, with user satisfaction falling below Twitter, LinkedIN and Google Plus.

With users deactivating their accounts out of privacy concerns and frustration with interface changes and advertisements, Facebook’s endless transformations may do itself more harm than good.

Facebook scored 61 out of 100 in customer satisfaction among active users, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. While Twitter and LinkedIN scored only slightly higher, Pinterest received a score of 69 and YouTube received 73.

The winners? Google+ and Wikipedia, tying at 78 points.

You can read more here at rt.com.

The article goes on to explain a few reasons why FB is experiencing this problem, and some of them are good reasons. A lot of this has to do with privacy. But I've always felt that FB is more of a trend and that people jump aboard with rigor in the beginning and slowly get tired of toward the end. If there were a shelf life for social media I would venture to guess that FB's lifespan would be about six months. I've been on FB since the very beginning when everyone had only a handful of friends. I now have almost 4,000 and I don't even know how I got there. But I do know one thing I've seen that never changes: over the years I've seen people come and go countless numbers of times. And it's usually sudden, too. One day the status updates I've been seeing from so-and-so will completely disappear and I'll never hear from that FB friend again. I've come to expect it. And I've also become very good at predicting who will hang on and who won't. Oddly, the guy who got me into FB in the beginning is still my friend...a writer named Jonathan Stephens. We met through blogging a few years before that.

And don't forget about the snark/mean factor. I'm sure people have unfriended me for various reasons over the years. And I'm guilty of it. I've unfriended people myself for reasons that aren't always very solid. I dropped a woman author last night because she commented on the blog post of a blogger I'm not fond of. In that sense, I've always managed my friend list. And I prefer not to be associated with people that are associated with people I don't like or trust. This particular blogger where the author left the comment has a long history of *VACUOUS* posts that promote vitriol within the writing community. She also seems to have a lot to say about gay fiction and yet she doesn't write it, she's not gay, and she's in no way associated with gay fiction. So it was an easy decision to make. One click; unfriend. No drama.

But ultimately I've always believed that anything based on trends never lasts for very long. In the 80's there was a huge boom in self-help books...everyone was reading one, writing one, or publishing one (not me). And we all know what happened there. A few got lucky; a few became popular and got rich; most crashed and burned and moved on to the next trend...I think it was chick lit.

This is why it's also important for writers to be on guard with trendy genres as well. They don't usually last. And that's because there's usually some kind of fundamental flaw that comes from so many people jumping onto the proverbial bandwagon to get rich quick. The market floods. The authenticity isn't there. It becomes an insult and a joke at the same time. I've seen THAT happen before, too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

About Friend Requests on Goodreads...

I've been meaning to post this for a while and something keeps coming up to distract me. But it has been on my mind and I don't want anyone to think I'm snubbing them.

I just left a review for Joe Mihalic's book on goodreads yesterday and saw that I had a ton of friend requests. I approved them all after I posted the review, and then told myself I'd write this post before the weekend started.

I don't get to goodreads often, and usually only go there when I'm posting a review for a book I've read. I just don't have the time to spend there that I would like to have right now and that's no reflection on anyone.

So if I don't approve a friend request right away, please know that I will do it eventually. It's just me being absent-minded and not having enough time to do everything all at once.

Melissa Jenna's Good Christian View on Fifty Shades of Grey...

When I saw this post by blogger, Melissa Jenna, I thought I'd link to it. Given that I've been writing an essay for a book about 50 Shades to be released this fall, and given the fact that I'm about to do something interesting with my next release that hasn't been done before with erotic romance, I found Melissa's POV more than interesting. I tend to look at things from a publishing POV and I forget that others don't sometimes.

What I find interesting is that I can find it simple to respect and honor opinions like this with regard to the good Christian bloggers, and yet I rarely find that same respect in return from the good Christian bloggers who rant about books like 50 Shades and movies like Magic Mike.

It's an interesting concept. The author of erotic romance and erotic fiction doesn't mind when a good Christian bashes erotica, but the good Christian thinks nothing of bashing the erotica and the erotica author...and reader. In the quote below she talks about 50 Shades and Magic Mike.

Christian women need to reject both of these works, and instead, use our voices in support of what is good, right and true. It is our responsibility, as daughters of the Heavenly King, to remain set-apart from the poisons of our culture, to rebuke temptation, and to celebrate and honor righteousness.

One of the 1800 people who commented on the post said this about 50 Shades:

I understand what you are saying here, but the books could have gotten the same point across without going into such graphic detail.

I don't have a problem with that. I agree books can be written in different ways to get different points across. I'm not going to bash Melissa Jenna for expressing her beliefs and views. I don't agree with them, but I respect them. And what I'm going to do with my next release, which I will talk about in detail next week, should be something that calms her down a little and keeps her free from the "poisons of our culture," like erotic romance, Magic Mike, and all that other sinful stuff. It does have a lot to do with getting "the same point across without going into such graphic detail."

That Cowboy in the Window...New Announcement Coming Soon

Before I get into a new short I've been working on for Loveyoudivine.com, I'd like to drop a hint that there's going to be something new over at loveyoudivine.com very soon. I can't talk about it now. But I will on August 3rd. With all the drama slithering around the Internet this month, it's nice to see something positive for a change.

I don't have an image yet for my upcoming release, THAT COWBOY IN THE WINDOW, but I do have a blurb and here's a short excerpt. It's something I don't normally write about...gender-bending...but I've been reading John Iriving's newest novel, which not only gets into gender-bending but also bi-sexuality and I've been taking it all in, so to speak. It's interesting to see a well known mainstream novelist like Irving get into a theme like this. This story of mine, however, wasn't influenced by Irving.

I wrote my story story a long time ago and never did anything with it. The original title was "Bananas Foster," which I decided to change with this release because it sounded too contrived.


This is the unusual gender-bending story of Paige living as a woman by night and a harmless effeminate man named Paul by day. Though her best friend knows the truth about her, no one else does, especially not the handsome young straight guy in the cowboy hat who lives in the apartment across the alley and likes to watch her undress every night. She’s always been able to pass without working too hard, but never felt complete as a woman. But when she finally decides to get the exaggerated breast augmentation she’s always dreamed about, her life changes in ways she never expected. Although it’s not the kind of happily-ever-after ending found in most romance stories, it is the kind of emotional happy ending in modern romance that begins on the inside where it counts the most.


Before Paige found a really good set of fake boobs, people assumed she was just another flat-chested lanky woman with a nice smile. There were no obvious telltale signs. Even her hands had a small, delicate appeal most real women would have killed for.

She kept her hair long and blonde and parted dead center. It fell perfectly straight and stopped at the middle of her back. Her small frame never gave her away. Although average in height…some would have considered slightly tall for a girl…she practically lived on lettuce and carrots to maintain a small waist. But she compensated for this one minor drawback in height with small features, large blue eyes with long natural lashes, and a perfect button nose. She’d never needed hormones or surgical procedures to cross-dress and pass as a real woman; just lipstick and earrings and a cute short dress did wonders.

As a child, strangers would say isn’t she a pretty little girl...such long, silky eyelashes and glorious high cheekbones, and the sweetest smile they’d ever seen. When corrected by her frowning father, they would gasp and assume apologetic expressions with their palms pressed to their open mouths. You couldn’t blame them, they would say. It wasn’t their fault she was such a pretty little boy.

If nothing else, she deserved credit for one thing: she knew she looked like a little girl and she liked it when they thought she was a pretty one. Most little boys would have cringed and either slipped into a shell of embarrassment or a defensive rage. But not Paige…or Paul as she was called back then. Sometimes, if her father wasn’t around when they thought she was a girl, she’d even dip, curtsy, and thank them herself.

Once, when her father caught her smiling too much at a handsome young waiter in a restaurant he took her to a barber shop the next day and had all her blond baby curls cut off. It wasn’t the waiter’s fault. He just smiled back and said, “What a cute little girl. She’s gonna break a lot of hearts someday.” It wasn’t really her fault either. The waiter was cute and she would have loved to sit on his lap and stare at his beautiful lips. She was only about five years old and too young to realize there was something wrong with this.

Her hair finally grew back and she refused to ever go to that barber shop again. She even told her father she’d stab him in his sleep if he ever shaved her head again. She was lucky enough to have had a mother who stood by her side, which eventually left her father turning his back in a hapless daze, as if he realized he may as well finally face facts. Deep down, he must have known that his little Paul would never play baseball, football, or basketball. How could he not know this when on her seventh birthday her grandmother asked her, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” and she replied, “A pretty girl with lots of boyfriends.”

Her grandmother gasped and looked up at the ceiling. Her father dropped his spoon on the floor and blinked. He mother changed the subject and cut the birthday cake. Though her mother didn’t encourage her, she didn’t discourage her either.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Clip From CBS Show "3" with Non-fiction Author Joe Mihalic

I posted about non-fiction author, Joe Mihalic, being on a new TV reality show earlier this week and someone sent me a clip. You have to look fast; Joe's the one in the grey shirt. And you have to get through one of those insufferable, annoying political ads these candidates are spending/wasting millions on first, but the show sounds interesting and it's being promoted as something different than the usual reality TV we normally see.

You can view the clip here at the CBS web site.

What should be even more interesting is that Joe plans to talk about his experiences on the show, on his blog, when he's finished and he's able to talk about them. Now that sounds like it should be fun.

I was approached to do a reality show about romance authors last fall through a contact of my old editor's at ravenous romance, Lori Perkins, who also happens to be a Literary Agent in NY. I haven't heard anything about the show since I was approached, but I turned it down for one main reason, which is an important reason. I don't consider myself to be a romance author. I write *gay* fiction, and sometimes it's romantic. But not all the time. I don't think it would have worked, and it wouldn't have been very authentic. If I ever do start writing books with women in long flowing gowns on the covers, then I might consider it.

The hardest part about turning that down was that I am a shamelss fan of some reality TV, and I'll be watching "3" right after "Big Brother," tonight.

What Will Be the Next Viral Hit in the Book World?

I came across an interesting article with a title about 50 Shades of grey while I was looking for information about the 50 Shades movie. I just submitted an essay for a book that will be out this fall titled, "Fifty Authors on Fifty Shades of Grey," and I wanted to double check a few facts. I'll post more about the essay and the 50 Shades book in the future.

What I found interesting was that the article I'm talking about now is titled, "50 Shades of Grey: Books That Will Be the Next Viral Hit." Of course the article is more about popular book themes and how they seem to resonate with people with regard to predicting the next viral hit in publishing. It gets into "Hunger Games" which is why I posted a pic of Liam Hemsworth. But I suspect the author of the article knows the web well enough to know that anything with a title even remotely connected to 50 Shades will generate more hits than one that isn't. You learn these little tricks the more you blog.

This just proves how much of an impact 50 Shades has had on everyone. I even saw a football related article in my search that was titled something like "50 Shade of the Future," and it had absolutely nothing to do with 50 Shade of Grey or publishing books.

In any event, the article to which I'm referring is actually very good, and it gets into some of the more popular themes that seem to be tried and true with the mainstream reading audience. I'm a firm believer in following formula for the most part, and then twisting it and turning it around to make it different. In many ways, that's why I love parody so much.

Well, there are lots of themes and they tend to change slightly from series to series depending on the plot, but my personal favorite and one that is fairly consistent is Good versus Evil. Ah yes, nothing better than the timeless tale of the little man who stands for all things right in the world, rising up to defeat his antagonist who happens to be the very face of evil itself. There are probably a thousand, deep rooted, anthropological reasons why we love these tales but the best reason I can come up with is that we love these fictional stories because we want to know it’s possible for good to defeat evil in reality.

As I said, I'm a fan of reworking old formulas with new elements, which could be anything from New Adult concepts to a suburban mom who gets into BDSM. You can read more of the article I'm talking about here, where there are a few more examples I thought were thought provoking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cast of "Modern Family" Suing 20th Century Fox

When I read that the cast of "Modern Family" was suing 20th Century Fox for what allegedly boils down to more money which you can read about here, I had to wonder how smart that actually is in a time when TV has been considered a dying industry by some. Back in the day when the cast of "Friends" could command a million plus an episode, things were different...life was different...hell, cell phones were as big as regular phones. And all eyes were glued to the TV on Thursday nights.

Not so much anymore. I'm one of the few people I know with a complete cable package that has all the premium channels. And I'm not sure how long that will last because I'm tired of paying that much money each month to tune in and watch a reality show about the Hutterites. I'm not joking about this either.

I'm also not a huge fan of "Modern Family" because I'm not fond of the way they portray gay men. The gay couple in that show aren't like any of the gay couples I know. I'm sure there are two effeminate gay men in a relationship somewhere, and I'm not bashing that or complaining about that just to be clear. I would just like to see Modern family balance the act a little and maybe have another gay couple join the cast that isn't quite as stereo typical as the couple they have now.

We're not all like that. I've written about this before and I'm speaking from my own experience as a gay man who has been in a relationship for twenty years. Yes, as I said there are gay couples like the couple in "Modern Family" and I would like to emphasize once again there's nothing wrong with that. But it seems to be the way TV portrays gay men all the time...or for the most part. A few do get it right. "The United States of Tara" was one of those shows, and that was cancelled. "Shameless" seems to be spot on, too. In fact, "Shameless" is breaking the stereotypes. I guess what I'm trying to say is that just like all people of African descent don't look alike (one of the most insulting stereotypes of all time in history), not all gay men speak with lisps and have limp wrists. Plain and simple.

We stopped watching "Modern Family" about a year ago, and not just because of the gay factor TVfail. We thought the storyline was getting tired and we found that half hour getting longer and longer each week. We wound up setting the DVR and trying to watch it later in the week. That wound up in "delete."

3...A New CBS Reality Show Starring Self-Pubbed Non-Fic Author, Joe Mihalic

While I was writing a review for Joe Mihalic's book, "No More Harvard Debt," this morning I went to his blog for a link and discovered something interesting.

He's been selected to star in a new reality show on CBS, called, "3."

Here's the blurb:

“3 is a relationship show that won’t perpetuate a fairy tale myth about dating. Without any typical game play, it intimately documents the search for love and the reality of dating — the anticipation, the excitement, the rejection. Along the way, we’ll see personalities who are real, and flawed, and simply human.”

I became a fan of Joe as a blogger and posted about him here a couple of times. And not only because he did a great thing in general by paying off his loans so fast, but also because he's the consummate blogger as blogging was intended originally and he's now a self-pubbed author in non-fiction.

He's also a decent guy, with no pretense or attitude. He reminds me of the male version of Zora Andrich who starred in the reality show "Joe Millionaire" a few years ago and won half the million dollar prize. I knew Zora personally when she lived in Lambertville, NJ, which is only a few miles from New Hope where I live. At the time Tony and I owned a few tanning salons and she was one of our clients. She was one of the nicest, and most gorgeous women I've met in a long time. And she worked just as hard as Joe.

It shows that good things to happen to nice people every now and then. And this time I hope Joe winds up meeting the woman of his dreams.

3 premieres this Thursday on CBS at 10/9C and all following episodes will be on Sunday at 9/8C.

You can read more about it here.

Kindle Direct Publishing...Review: "No More Harvard Debt" by Joe Mihalic

When I first stumbled across Joe Mihalic's blog, No More Harvard Debt, I was curious about his posts because I know so many people who are now paying off college loans. I was lucky enough not to have college loans, but I (we) know what it's like to carry a half a million dollar mortgage, so anything money management interests me. As a blogger I know how to navigate blogs well and I went to one of his earliest posts to see what he had to say...and to see if what he had to say would be of any interest to me.The first line I read made me want to read more.

I graduated from Harvard Business School with my MBA and $95k of student loans ($101k including accumulated interest) in 2009 at the age of 26.

I liked the blog so much I posted about it on my own blog, hoping to spread the word for other people who might be interested in ways to pay down college loans...or any other debt...the good old fashioned American way. Because that's what Joe did. He didn't sit around and groan. He didn't sit around waiting for a handout from the government. He used common sense and forged ahead by working as hard as he could.

And when I saw that he'd put the blog into book form using the Kindle Direct Publishing program I couldn't have been more thrilled. By doing this I knew he would be reaching even more people who could use advice. And by using the KDP program it didn't cost him anything but, as is his style, a lot of hard work. And, it's well formatted and simple to read on any e-reading device. I read mine on an iPhone for the most part.

What I think I like most is that he's not loud and obnoxious about offering his own personal advice like so many others who get paid millions of dollars to do basically the same things he's doing. There are some funny sections and some sections that scream reality check. But the most important part was the sincerity...without the gimmicks. I would recommend this book to anyone with debt, or anyone interested in reading a human interest story about a normal guy with a great deal of tenacity and talent.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The New Adult Fiction Line at St. Martin's Press...And My New Adult Fiction

A few years ago St. Martin's Press had a New Adult fiction contest and I lost track of what happened. But I didn't lose track of the New Adult genre.Here's what New Adult Fiction is, for those who don't know. And no, it's not unrated adult oriented material.

According to St Martin’s Press, they fit in a new, previously-unidentified genre called ‘New Adult’. JJ from St Martin’s Press explains that, ‘New Adult [fiction] is about young adulthood, when you are an adult but have not established your life as one (career, family, what-have-you)’.

I heard about New Adult even before this announcement from SMP and started working on short erotic stories with new adult characters. Although I didn't classify them all up front this way because I wasn't sure readers would get it, I have more than a few out there hiding in disguise. There's always a plan.

I became fond of this new genre because all new adults are sexually active...if not at their peaks sexually...and I write erotica and erotic romance. And new adults are of legal age to do anything they want. I think the first time I came out and stated I was working on a New Adult story was last Christmas with the release of THE COMPUTER TUTOR. I've written others after that with New Adult characters, but I didn't go into detail because the genre is so new I didn't want to go into overkill.

Agent Kristin Nelson talks about New Adult here with regard to how much sex will be in New Adult fiction.

But back to the original Arizona question that started this entry. How much sex is going to be allowed in the romance?

Well, this new line at SMP is not a romance imprint per se—which is what I think that participant thought it might be. They are more a line for publishing smart, upmarket fiction for this target audience where sex and relationships are simply part of the question. In other words, it’s not so much about the happily-ever-after, which is the focus for a romance, nor is it about the sex—explicit or otherwise. It’s more about the story that will speak to older teens and twenty-somethings. Think Emily Giffin’s SOMETHING BORROWED, Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP, Nick Hornby’s SLAM, and even GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING in some respects.

That post was written in 2009. Since then New Adult TV shows like "Girls," which I posted about here before, too, (somewhere...I can't find the link) have come into the picture and changed the scenery a little. This show has been described as the better, updated version of "Sex in the City," because it has New Adult characters. These characters aren't bopping around Manhattan in designer shoes. These people are living in Brooklyn trying to figure out how to pay the rent. The realism is so much better it makes SATC look stupid. And there's plenty of sex...far more than the trite tidbits allowed in SATC. In fact, Hannah can be a very naughty little girl at times and people seem to love it. I nearly fell off my sofa when her boyfriend peed on her in the shower...ON TV. I CAN'T GET AWAY WITH THAT IN EROTIC ROMANCE! There are a few things about "Girls" I wasn't in love with, especially their treatment of gay characters. But overall I think it's an excellent example on TV as to what New Adult authors are going to try in New Adult fiction in the future.

I've not only been doing New Adult for a while, I'm going to continue to focus on the genre as much as I can. The lines drawn between gay and straight aren't as vivid with this age group. And I might not always write these things in the form of erotica. I'm finding this new generation of New Adults to be a very interesting crowd and the material to write is endless. I even went there with Jim Darling, the main character in "Chase of a Lifetime," with regard to him just graduating from Princeton and not knowing what to do with his life...and making tons of mistakes along the way. And Jim's best friend Cain Mayfield, who I bring back in the upcoming sequel, is the perfect New Adult character fresh out of college and trying to get his life together.

The only area where I find it difficult to focus is the erotica part. So many in publishing frown...actually they sneer...at erotica in any form it's hard to be taken seriously. If you write erotica you are classified in erotica forever and nothing else matters. But with my next release on Amazon I'm going to rectify this for everyone. It's an experiment I've been working on that I hope will recitfy some of the things erotic authors have been dealing with forever. Because I'm self-publishing this I have the freedom and control to do this...a publisher would never go fot it. But I trust readers now more than ever and I think they'll understand. And I will post about this experiment I'm doing very soon. I have no idea how it will be received, but so far it's working out well in the editorial stage. My only big decision is how to release it.

Self-Pubbed Romance Author on Bestsellers List...

Self-published author, Bella Andre, has been making a name and building a readership on one bestseller list in particular. As a result, Andre is helping self-publishing gain more credibility.

After a $1.99 Gold Box of the Day sale at Amazon, romance novelist Bella Andre took five spots on our Self-Published Bestsellers list with her series, The Sullivans. The Washington Post profiled her writing career last year.

I still find it amazing that even though it's been coming for a while, self-published authors are gaining momentum and readers are taking them seriously now. And galleycat is making it even easier for readers to find these self-published books.

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we have compiled lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

You can check out the lists here.

I've posted often about how readers now have to be more aware of what's being published and that they have to vet and search in more places than they did in the past. I think links like this help. And I'm glad to see galleycat doing it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: How to be a Writer in the E-Age, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anne R. Allen, Introduction by Saffina Desforges

I finally had a chance to finish "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" this weekend and wanted to post a short review first thing this morning while it's still fresh. Although a good deal of what I read in this e-book tended to be things I've already experienced as a published author in the e-age, there were a few things I didn't know and will retain for future reference. I started writing for e-publishers about seven years ago when everyone was still laughing at the possibility of e-books going mainstream.

I so wish there had been a book like this back when I first started to consider writing for e-publishers. Until that point, all of my publishing experience had been with small traditional LGBT print presses. And because the LGBT market wasn't strong back then I made a point of trying to get my short stories into as many anthologies as I could each year. It wasn't mainstream publishing and the money was terrible, but I loved what I was doing and it was considered legitimate.

When I started to look into e-publishing I read more than one questionable thing about it...or I couldn't find any information at all. To be honest, I wasn't so sure about it myself. So I played it very safe in the beginning and submitted short stories to several e-publishers just to see what it was like. These manuscripts were released as e-books and I found that I loved working with e-publishers. They were just as professional as all the print publishers I'd ever worked with in the past and in some cases even more thorough. And, best of all, it didn't take a year or more to get a book released. That in itself was a novelty to me. The world's slowest industry in the world was now starting to pick up speed.

The moment I started to read "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" I knew it was a winner in every sense. The information is not only valuable to new authors, it's relevant to published authors who might be thinking about making the switch to e-publishing, too. Or for established authors who are interested in self-publishing and have been on the fence about doing it. I found nothing in this book that can be disputed either (not always the case with writer's manuals). From the introductions to the last page it's filled with realistic information that shows writers what the writing experience is like now.

One thing I'd like to point out that I liked in particular was that there are no preachy comments, and this book isn't pushing any one particular way to be a writer...or whether or not traditional publishing is better than e-publishing. There are many aspects of publishing talked about in this book and that's something I don't see often (the authors even read the same publishing blogs I've been following for years). In other words, it's not about hating literary agents and hating those big bad mean publishers and it's not about how spectacular self-publishing is and how it's going to change life as we all know it as writers and readers. The book talks about self-publishing in an objective way, which is something I don't see often these days either.

A while ago I read a writer's manual written by one of my all time favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown who was one of those authors that changed publishing in the 1970's, and I thought that was the best writer's manual I'd ever read. But this book on writing and publishing took what Brown had to say to another level and brought it all up to date so new writers will know what to expect and how to deal with all the changes that are happening in publishing now. But more than that, because it's an e-book and we can now do things like this with e-books, there's a feature I've never seen before. When you buy this e-book you get updates every six months that will allegedly deal with more changes in publishing as they happen. And the changes seem to be happening on a daily basis now.

As a side note, the book is affordable and worth every penny invested. Trust me, I paid far more for books and manuals on publishing fifteen years ago and got far less information.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gawker Covers Dark Knight Shooting; A Comment from Cartoonist Chan Lowe on Guns

I haven't posted anything about the Dark Knight shooting in Aurora, CO until now, because so many others have been doing it I wasn't sure I could do it any justice. And I also think that people come to blogs like this to get away from things like that sometimes. I know I do.

But I read a few interesting things on the shooting and decided to share.

Here's one from gawker, where they've summed up everything that's happened since the shooting, with tons of links.

And here's a link to a piece by cartoonist Chan Lowe that makes more of a political statement. It's well done (and he explains the cartoon in a blog post) and offers an interesting discussion about how Americans feel about guns.

I’ve been drawing cartoons for decades about America’s peculiar quirkiness on this issue, and faithfully came up with compelling graphic arguments for gun control after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, and other incidents now shrouded in the mists of time. They never made any difference, because there is a disconnect in our national self-identity between the lone-wolf killer and the pioneer who crept through the forest with his Kentucky long rifle in search of food for his family.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

QMO Magazine and Community...

I just saw that QMO Magazine and Community is up and wanted to link to it. I have a piece up there right now, and I'll be contributing more as time goes on.

What I like most about this site is that it's international, and I like reading everything I can about the international LGBT community. You can check it out here. There's a lot to see and a lot of information about the LGBT community. And it's simple to navigate and very simple to comment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Judging a Book By Its Cover...

Since I've been posting about my experiences with self-publishing, I've kept it real and posted about almost everything I can think of.

So I decided to mention this about Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street before it goes live to avoid any possible confusion...which I really don't think will happen. It's not the first time an author or a publisher made a change like this and it won't be the last.

It was a publisher who once told me that people do, indeed, judge books by their covers. And I've learned from experience how true that is. Over the years I've been happy for the most part with almost every book cover I've had. My all time favorite cover to date is Chase of a Lifetime...but that could be because that was my first self-published book and I'm very partial to it. With my other published books I never had the final say or the control. Frankly, I didn't want it either. I trusted their judgment and moved on to my next work in progress. I didn't want to worry about covers.

Then I found myself interested in self-publishing and things changed. There were two ways I could have gone with the cover for JSoDS. One was to go more erotic and show a bare-chested guy. The book does have an element of light BDSM and I made that clear in the blurb. The other way I could have gone was to play up the more emotional side of the book, where there's a kid in a wheel chair struggling to walk again with the help of the two main characters.

So when I sent the cover information to the cover artist I used for John Sweet, I asked her to focus more on the emotional parts in the book than the erotic parts simply because I thought they were more important to the book. And I was happy with the end result and loved the cover she created. I still love that cover.

But since the release of Jonah Sweet I've had people e-mail me asking for more details about whether or not there are erotic scenes in this particular book. I don't mind answering them and I've always encouraged this kind of communication. However, I ultimately decided to change the cover of Jonah Sweet to the one you see in this post above. It will go live sometime over the weekend and that's going to be the final cover for a while. NONE of the CONTENT of this book will be changed at all, not now or ever. When I released that book, like all the other books I've released, I was prepared to own my words and stand behind it regardless of what anyone else thinks.

This time I designed and created the cover myself. Though I'd never done anything like this before, I knew what I wanted, I didn't think anyone would be able to deliver it the same way I could, and I decided to learn how to design book covers myself. I'm not certain how long I'll be self-publishing or how many covers I'll design in the future. But it made perfect sense that since I'm doing this commando now, so to speak, it would only make sense to learn how to design e-book covers.

For those thinking about designing their own covers, all the information you need is out there on the web. You just have to google,"How to design an e-book cover," and tons of web sites and youtube videos will pop up. I wanted something simple this time for Jonah Sweet, with simple print, and with masculine energy.

An Erotic Addition to Jane Austen Novels by Clandestine Classics...

It was recently announced there will be a new line of novels released by Clandestine Classics where erotic scenes will be added to classic novels.

I'm not talking about parody here, not the way I've parodied with gay storylines from straight films or classics. In fact, I dare anyone to read my gay version of "Gay Pride and Prejudice" and find one single line or passage in my book that's even remotely identical to the original "Pride and Prejudice." You won't find it. I parodied the basic storyline, with regard to prejudice as it applies to gay men and marriage, and title, not the original book.

But from what I gather in this article on gawker this project from Clandestine Classics will be taking the original books verbatim and adding highly erotic sex scenes. And to think I wasted all that time making sure I didn't take anything verbatim from the original scripts or books!

Many nerds have reacted poorly to the news that their favorite novels are being reimagined as glorified fan fiction, labeling the works "glorified fan fiction," and arguing that "any intelligent reader can pick up on [the original texts'] sexual tension without [it] being spelled out."

No comment from me. I still get hell for writing parodies of pop culture films with gay characters and a lot of gay sex, even though every single word is different from the original. In most cases I shifted away from the original plots and characters so much only the titles have been parodies. And I've always twisted and turned these plots into social or political statements about gay men. If you check out "A Christmas Carl," you'll see that one of the ghosts is actually the infamous Quentin Crisp. And, there's a mention of a Christmas in the future in that same book where Hillary Clinton is ninety years old and she actually becomes president. I think THAT'S an example of parody. But what do I know?

I don't think it's just going to be Jane Austen books.

Other works scheduled to be released in porn-e-book form include: Dracula, Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers and the Phantom of the Opera. Excerpts from several of the releases are available on the Clandestine Classics website.

Sorry, no links. You'll have to look that one up on your own.

In any event, I have a feeling these books from Clandestine are going to become very popular. And I'm still going to write my version of "Singing in the Rain," and I'm titling it "Banging in the Rain," this time (smile). The Debbie Reynolds character will look a lot like Justin Beiber.

What I can't wait to see is the rush of Internet sockpuppts who will be running over to goodreads and Amazon who haven't read any of these redesigned books, but will think nothing of rating and reviewing them poorly just for sport. It should be very entertaining.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strokes and People with HIV...Realities of HIV Today...And a Home HIV Test for 25 Years the FDA's Been Blocking?

In Time Magazine this week I read something that surprised me. No links; it came from the print mag. There's a home test for HIV that can be purchased over the counter, and it's been around since 1987.

The idea for such a DYI test has been around since 1987, but the FDA hadn't approved one because of concerns raised by experts over how users would handle a positive result.


This is the kind of government involvement I can live without. It also raises questions about whether or not there's an underlying issue here with regard to why these tests weren't available to the public years ago. Because I don't buy the excuse given above, and I'd like to know just who these so-called experts are.

I know more than a few people who would have had different lives had they been able to take a home test for HIV. A lot of people who are HIV live in denial and tend to wait too long to get tested, which can lead to serious results you NEVER hear discussed anywhere. Why is that, you ask? Because there are too many people skimming the surface and don't know enough about HIV/AIDS. Here's one example I'll bet most people don't know: if you are HIV positive and you wait too long to get a diagnosis you run the risk of going into IRIS if you start taking HIV meds. I've seen people with IRIS...you don't want to experience it. And there's no guarantee you'll get through it.

Here's an interesting article in Huff Post, by Al Sharpton, about the realities of HIV today.

More than half of all new HIV cases in the United States are in the South, and Blacks (who represent only 14% of the population) accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections, according to the latest figures. For the first time since 1990, the International AIDS Conference will be held in the U.S. next week in our nation's capital.

I didn't know that either. But I do suspect there are a lot of people with HIV today that still don't know it. We've only touched the surface, mainly because so many are in denial and won't get tested because it's so complicated to get tested. There's also that dreaded stigma that's still attached to being HIV positive. So the good old FDA better get moving and get those home tests out to the public so people can deal with it in privacy. Let's get cracking, FDA, and step it up.

Home pregnancy tests helped changed the world. I think home HIV tests will do the same thing.

And here's an article from AIDS.org about the risk of strokes being higher for those with HIV.

Stroke rates have increased among people with HIV in recent years while declining in the U.S. population at large, new research shows, raising the possibility that treatments for the AIDS-causing virus may put these patients at higher risk for cardiovascular trouble.

There’s no direct proof linking the medications to the higher stroke rate, but previous research has suggested that HIV drugs can boost cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which contribute to stroke risk.

There's no direct proof because it's too soon and most of the information they go by comes from individual case studies. In other words, HIV drugs are still so knew it's hard to pinpoint any long term side effects.

So while HIV is now a chronic disease, there are many other factors associated with HIV drugs we're not sure about yet. I've seen the exact results above with friends I know who are HIV. They have all developed cardiovascular issues and all have higher triglyceride levels. So if you have HIV and are taking ARVs, make sure you have a good ID doc. I know people in the burbs who travel to NY or Philly because the ID docs in the burbs aren't as familiar with, or as aggressive, in treating HIV. And a good ID doc is crucial in managing HIV.

And if you aren't HIV positive, try to keep it that way.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Interesting Discussion about E-book Piracy...

There's an interesting discussion about e-book piracy over at the Dystel & Goderich blog, in a post written by Abby.

Those of you who follow me know that I've been posting and talking about this for a long time. I have not come to any conclusions about it and I'm not sure at this stage I ever will. I don't advocate piracy because it's against the law and I follow the law in every aspect of my life. But I have heard strong arguments from people who do pirate and in some cases I can understand their feelings.

I think this is going to be an ongoing topic for a while, especially as e-books begin to increase in popularity in the mainstream.

There is one thing I'm not so sure about, and that's how e-book pirates feel about .99 e-books. Do they bother to pirate them or do they just ignore them? I really don't have a clue. And if they do I'm not passing any judgments here and I encourage anonymous comments from now until forever on this comment thread.

In any event, Abby asks a few interesting questions.

The comment thread isn't jammed, but has a few interesting POVs.

You can get there from here.

Beware of Bad Editorial Advice on the Web!

When I say beware of bad editorial advice on the web I'm not talking about all advice. There are more than a few places where writers can go to get excellent advice. There are also excellent editing/writing web sites where writers can go to get varying opinions. And that's what you want: varying opinions so you can decide what's right for you.

What I'm talking about when I say beware of bad editorial advice usually pertains to loud unpublished amateurs who think they know it all. And they don't. They will trick you into thinking they know it all. But I've never seen one who got it right. In some cases they remind me of used car salesmen from the old days.

They set bad detailed rules about what's considered good editing/writing and what's considered wrong editing/writing. They never list publishing credits, they never talk about their own publishing experiences, and yet they lead you to believe they know more than anyone else in publishing.

Here's an example of the difference between good and bad advice. There's been an age old debate about whether or not prologues work...or for that matter whether or not they should even be written. The best advice would be there's no set answer to this. Prologues work well for some books and some authors, they don't for others. Most readers don't seem to care one way or the other. Now, bad advice about prologues is when you see someone slam them and tell you never to do them. Frankly, I'm not a prologue fan and I hardly ever write them. But I've read books with prologues that worked and I would never tell anyone not to write a prologue. I might tell them to be cautious about prologues because I don't like them. But I'd never say never.

Another age old debate has to do with showing verses telling. A literary agent recently posted some great examples of how "telling" can actually work out well sometimes. I not only agree with her, I trust her advice because she has good credits that back her up, and authors who have been on all the bestseller lists. In other words, she knows what she's doing, at least in this respect. And in her post she gave good solid examples of how "telling" works sometimes. Once again, bad advice is when someone without any publishing credentials states "telling" is always bad and you should never, ever do it.

I always find it interesting when beta reader advice is given to writers. I've been working in publishing and getting published for twenty years and I've never had a beta reader. My publishers are my beta readers. The editors and copy editors who work for my publishers are my beta readers. The two times I've self-published the copy editors I've hired are my beta readers. But when I'm writing I work alone and I don't want anyone else's influence in my work. And yet once again, this works for me and I would never tell anyone else they shouldn't have a beta reader. It's all about what works for you and what makes you comfortable. I'd rather eat dirt that have a beta reader. I know other authors who depend on their beta readers and crit groups. And there's nothing wrong with either way.

Aside from all this, I think the biggest piece of bad advice I've seen of all time from amateur unpublished editors on the web is that you need to have a fully professionally edited manuscript before you submit it to a publisher or an agent. I've never found this to be true. You do need a neat, clean manuscript that's grammatically correct and easy to read. You do need a good story and a great hook if you're unpublished and you're trying to get an agent or an editor to notice you. You need to know how to write a great query letter with a perfect book/plot description to get the agent or editor's attention. And you need to know the basics of crafting a novel. But you don't need to pay a high priced freelance editor out of pocket if you're in the query stages.

This is what publishers do if they decide to buy your book. They edit the book, not you or the freelance editor you hired before you started to query. Some agents even edit before they start shopping books to publishers. I've seen this more often than not. But you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on a freelance editor if you're querying and shopping a book. For some, this is where beta readers can come in handy. They can help you get the manuscript to the point of being neat, tight and ready to submit.

Over the years I've worked with more editors and publishers than I can count offhand. The editors I've least enjoyed working with have teaching experience, especially on a college level. In fact, I usually don't submit to them more than once because it's too frustrating to deal with them. They. Know. It. All.

But each time I've submitted a book or story to a publisher the editing process was a different experience. For one recent book that I released with a pen name, I submitted the book thinking there were very few things that needed to be changed. That's usually how it works out. However, the editor returned the manuscript and asked me to cut 8,000 words and turn the first chapter into the prologue. And guess what? That editor was right. I did what she asked me to do and it made the book better. And I'm the one who hates prologues. Go figure. As a sidenote, I also turned the 8,000 words I'd cut into a short story and sold it to another publisher. Like a chef who doesn't believe in wasting food, I don't believe in wasting words.

Before I submit a manuscript I do all kinds of checks. One of those checks is to look for words I sometimes write too often without realizing it. One of those words is "that." I do a search, find, and delete. My copy editor usually thanks me for this. But it doesn't always work out this way. I once submitted a manuscript to a publisher and the managing editor sent it back with revisions. And huzzah, she'd added the word "that" in all the places where I'd removed it. But better than this, when it came back for the final read through from the copy editor, she'd removed the word "that" in each place where the managing editor had inserted it.

I've always found that my copy editors are the most important people with regard to getting a book out. I depend on them more than anyone in publishing, because they are the people that can make or break a book. I've worked with many and they all have different styles and different opinions, too. The best know the meaning of the word diplomacy. Which leads me back to where I began in this post: there are not set rules and anyone who tries to tell you there are isn't someone you want to take seriously. So beware of that kind of advice. It's only going to leave you wondering why you bothered to listen in the first place after you've had a book published and found out what it was really like to go through the editorial process. Believe me, it's nothing like what they say. And that's because it's always different, with each book, each professional editor, and each publisher.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More on Fake Internet IDs, Smear Campaigns, and Bullying...

When I read this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer I knew I had to post something about it because it's a good example of what so many are dealing with these days. In short, it's about a disgruntled man who allegedly stalked and bullied people online with anonymous e-mails and fake accounts.

Udinski sent anonymous emails to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, first claiming Algeo sexually solicited a player, and then accusing the new lacrosse coach, Nick Pison, of sexually assaulting students, officials said.

What happened in this case supports my point about the Internet being a breeding ground for stalkers and bullies who like to hide behind fake accounts and identities. But it's not going to continue. I predict we'll be seeing more of this:

Tim Udinski was arrested on stalking and harassment charges, stemming from what prosecutors say were false accusations he made against against officials associated with Lansdale Catholic High School. Between October 19, 2011 and May 31, 2012.

This is important, too.

"The current publicity, it raises awareness and that is a wonderful thing," said Ferman. "But the downside is that when accusations like this are made, they do so much damage. How do you undo that? How do you unring that bell?"

It is a wonderful thing to raise awareness that there are, indeed, online stalkers and bullies who are only out to ruin the reputations of others. In fact, I plan to help raise this awareness as much as possible in the future. It's also very sad that reputations are ruined as a result.

But what a lot of these online stalkers and bullies don't realize is that there are legal ways to find out who they are and where they come from. You can't hide behind that library computer anymore.

No identity is completely anonymous on the Internet these days. It would be foolish to think otherwise. And I'm hearing a lot more people talk about taking action against them. I also believe this sort of legal action is going to increase in time as more and more people start to use the Internet.

So those doing the online stalking and bullying right now should take heed to what happened to the man in the article to which I just linked. You might be taking a chance and getting results you didn't expect.

Cool Stuff from Kindle Direct Publishing: Joe Mihalic Self-pubs "No More Harvard Debt"

I run across a lot of bloggers and writers on the Internet and once in a while I spot something different.

It happened when I saw Joe Mihalic's blog, "No More Harvard Debt." I liked what I saw so much I wrote a short post, here, last May.

For those who don't know, Joe is a young professional who has been blogging about how he paid off almost six figures in student loans by using good old fashioned American common sense. Instead of complaining about his situation and looking for a handout, he cleared his own debts by making sacrifices and working hard.

A lot of people...including me...suggested he turn the blog into a non-fiction book and self-publish it on Amazon.

And that's exactly what he did. He didn't hire a copy editor or a cover artist. And in this case he didn't need either one. He's been blogging this information for a long time. He's also a Harvard grad and knows how to spell and how to begin and end a paragraph.

I'm glad he left this comment on my blog post yesterday, otherwise it might have taken me longer to find out he'd pubbed the book himself.

Ryan, thank you for the props! Your blog was one of the voices of encouragement that prompted me to do it--no cover artist or editor hired, so $0 investment on my part, other than a TON of my time...

The coolest thing about what Joe did by pubbing this book on Amazon is how many other people he's going to help. Tony and I were both lucky enough not to have student loans from college, but we do have nieces and nephews with student loans right now. I don't know one person without someone close to them without student debt right now.

But more than that, Joe did it the old fashioned way, right down to the way he published his book and the way he's been talking about his experiences. He even says this in his latest blog post:

I’ve made the book available as part of Kindle Direct Publishing Select program which makes it free to Amazon Prime members. Alternatively, if the $3 cost represents a hardship for you, then please email me at nomoreharvarddebt@gmail.com and we can work something out. I extend the same offer to dedicated followers/commentors/encouragers–you know who you are!

The book is 2.99 and you can purchase it here. Last time I checked, it's on three Amazon bestseller lists in the top 100. Even though I've read a lot of his posts I'm going to download a copy just to see what the book is like. I've always found the blogging to book concept fascinating. Especially when there's substance to the book and the blog that no one else has done before.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime Now on Allromanceebooks.com

"Chase of a Lifetime" is now up on Allromanceebooks.com.

You can get there from here.

As of now, COAL is on most major web sites where e-books are sold, from Amazon to Kobo. I'm working on getting it up on TLA Gay, too, where a lot of my other short story e-books are being sold.

"Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street," will remain only on Amazon until the three month period is over. For now, the .99 prices for both books will remain the same.

I think all the important information for "Chase of a Lifetime" is up on ARe, so I won't repeat it here. They do an excellent job of product description.

Authors Behaving Like Professionals...Show Don't Tell

I really am going to keep this post short and sweet. I don't want to lose anyone with a long post.

When I first thought about writing a post that deals with authors behaving like professionals, I did a search and came up with links to articles that talked about "authors behaving badly," for the most part. This surprised me more than I thought it would.

Are there really that many authors behaving badly?

I thought that was a shame to see this blasted all over the Internet. Most of the authors I know behave like professionals. If and when they see an author behaving badly...and behaving badly covers a lot of ground...they are just as upset as everyone else.

There are many reasons why authors should behave like professionals at all times. If I listed them all here this wouldn't be short post. So I won't do that...even though I reserve the right to do that in the future.

But I did find two posts that are good examples of authors behaving like professionals. I think they're both so good I'm not going to do anything but link to them to show you what I'm talking about instead of telling you.

Here's one from the Lily - Neon Vagabond - Fantasy Thriller blog. The title of the post, "How to be a Professional," says it all. With all the things I saw happen last week regarding a new web site I refuse to link to, it was refreshing to read it.

And here's one from author Jeremy C. Shipp's blog that shows he's a professional, without even saying a word about it.

Why is this so important? There are many reasons, one of which I believe has to do with publishers and the future. Right now we're going through a lot of changes in publishing. But I don't see large publishers disappearing any time soon. And that's where the big book deals are right now, and in the near future. Agents aren't disappearing either. They are the ones who are still making the big book deals right now. And they are looking for professionals, not ranters.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Writing BDSM in "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"...

When I decided to write "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" and add BDSM as an erotic element to the romance between the two main characters, it wasn't something I took lightly. In the past four or five years I've posted more than once about BDSM novels and that I'd never really done it. One short story, "Bury it Officer," which was published in an anthology by Cleis Press a few years ago, and then released as a stand alone short story by Loveyoudivine.com, was the closest I ever got to the subject. It is about a dominant and a submissive, yet very tame.

But Jonah Sweet was completely new territory for me because it was a full length novel. And I was doing it alone, without a publisher to back me up. I did as much research online as I could, and then I asked a friend more about the interaction between people with regard to BDSM. He has a "playroom" and he's been into all kinds of BDSM for a long time. He helped a great deal. It wasn't that he told me what to do to get it right; it was more about what he told me NOT to do to get it right. His most important piece of advice was that BDSM is more about emotion and psychological factors than anything. At least that's how he experiences it.

At least I had it easy in one respect. With Jonah Sweet I couldn't get into anything too serious as far as the BDSM went. Jonah is very inexperienced and he's just learning the basics of BDSM, from the physical details to the psychological elements. All he knows is that he feels the need to be dominated...and to be very submissive. In his case, it's a natural, instinctive feeling. And David, the dominant character, knows exactly what he's doing.

The other thing I wanted to do was to separate the BDSM fun and games from what happens in their real lives. In other words, although Jonah wants to be dominated and controlled in sexual situations by David, he does NOT want to be dominated and controlled in real life situations by anyone. And that wasn't easy to do. David is a control freak beyond all measure. He wants to control Jonah at ALL times. And I didn't let that happen. I also had to show a vulnerable side to David, so he wouldn't come off looking like a monster to the readers.

I don't think there will be a sequel to this book. And one reason is that I would have to do a great deal of intense research to move the BDSM to another level...from an introduction level to Jonah learning more and gaining more experience. And I'm not sure I'm ready to go there, so to speak. The one thing I did learn about BDSM is that there's nothing simple about it, and yet at the same time it's the simplest thing to those who are into it.

Here's a link to a post I found where I think the author made a few excellent points. I didn't read this post while I was writing JSODS because I didn't want to be influenced by anyone else (the one thing I read is that BDSM varies with people). I've also heard that different authors approach it in different ways. I wanted my approach to come from a POV of inexperience...because I am so inexperienced with BDSM...and I didn't want to do or say anything in the book that would sound contrived. It's also a perfect example of an erotic romance where the sex could be toned down, or even removed, and the story would stand on its own.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Count Them: 10 Gay Myths and Then Some...

When I came across "Purple Gloves," and saw this post I knew I was going to link to it today. It's a list of ten things that so many think are true, but in reality are only myths about the LGBT community.

Starting with #1, you can't go wrong:

1. Most gay men are effeminate – Though I have many gay friends who consider the compact mirror the biggest thing since sliced bread, most gay men I have met are actually not feminine at all. However, being fem (and obvious) has its perks since these guys do tend to get hit on a lot (especially by married men); this has led to “straight-acting” guys dropping their wrists and being extra perky in bars and clubs to catch the eye of someone who isn’t sure whether his advances would be entertained (or rewarded with a bottle over the head). I’m don’t think this even needs to be said but not all effeminate men are gay.

There are nine more myths listed in the post that range from "Gay Men are Possessed by the Devil," to "All Gay Men Really Want to be Women." And each one knocks down another myth with an excellent example.

"Purple Gloves" is a blog written by this person:

Random musings and mutterings of an West African gay man

Some people choose painting or gossip.

Some would rather balance their books or watch their plants grow.

Others plot how to take over the world!

We all have different activities which we involve ourselves in as a form of expression, or to clear our minds.

This is mine.

He reminds me of a blogger I interviewed once a long time ago when I was a staff member at bestgayblogs.com. The post to which I'm linking isn't the only one there of significance. I read a few others I liked just as much. It looks to be a current blog, too. This post, "Glimmer of LGBT Hope in Kenya's anti-AIDS Fight," was written on July 6.

So treat yourselves to a change and read something different. This week has been particularly vicious on the Interwebs. I promise this blogger will be a nice break, and you'll realize how insignificant a lot of the things that happened this past week really are.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Release Day: Something for Saint Jude

Almost forgot I have a new release out today. It's a short story titled, "Something for Saint Jude," and it's been published by Loveyoudivine.com. I already posted about it here.

And here's a purchase link at the publisher's web site, on Amazon, and at ARe.

Parody of a Parody: The Burping D*&k, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Men in White Coats

There has been a lot going on all week on the Interwebs about topics that seem to make normally rational, intelligent people go berserk. In some ways it's been sad; in others it's been entertaining in a very dark way. All in all, I think it's something we could all live without and I try to stay far away from it. I refuse to link to any of it, one side or the other.

But it made me wonder about how a typical conversation might go if an author met one of his or her goodreads "buds" in person, by accident. Of course this is fiction, and a parody as well. And it's not a reflection of anyone in particular...even if Author 2 does resemble me slightly.

Set up: Two authors who have never met before wind up sitting next to each other while on vacation in New York, in a quiet little bodega where other authors are reading their reviews and ratings on goodreads. The two authors already met and the conversation has already begun.

Author 1: I say, you there. You're a plagiarist. It's the worst form of fanfic.

Author 2: Huh? (blinks)

Author 1: You heard me, you sook. You're a plagiarist. And you wrote about a burping d*&k, and once referred to a penicular appendage as a roll of paper towels. It's blasphemy, I tell you, blasphemy.

Author 2: What's a sook?

Author 1: You're worse than that awful sook who wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Author 2: I liked "Fifty Shades of Grey." (makes mental note to google the word sook)

Author 1: It's fanfic, I tell you. FANFIC at it's worst.(bangs fist on table)

Author 2: Millions of people read it and loved it. Now I wish I did write fanfic. It's becoming very popular these days. A lot of my readers have pointed me toward some very good fanfic I'd never heard of.

Author 1: You plagiarized "My Fair Lady," after you wrote about the burping dick and the roll of paper towels.

Author 2: No. Not at all. I do write parodies sometimes. I've never lied about that. Even the titles are clearly parodies. With "My Fair Laddie," I wrote a parody of an old storyline that's been rewritten more than once by people far more famous and talented than me: Pygmalion. Think about it. I take pg rated stories about straight people and turn them into highly exaggerated erotic stories with gay men. If that's not parody, I'm not sure what is. And the satirical burping dick and paper towel scene was supposed to be funny, not taken seriously. Dicks don't burp. Everyone knows THAT. Sometimes I've been known to parody erotic sex scenes, too.

Author 1: You write smut. Pure filth, I say. Gay men don't do those things. Gay men don't like arm pits, crotches, or sweat socks and jock straps. Gay men only want to decorate, go shopping with their women friends, and talk about how many times they've been bullied and abused. And when they aren't doing those things, they are planning their next pride week and decorating their floats as they whistle show tunes.

Author 2: Interesting. I'm sorry. I've never heard of you. What do you write?

Author 1: I write gay literature, I do, I say. I'm the gay literary type, I am.

Author 2: I see. So you know more about gay men than I do, even though I've been a gay man all my life.

Author 1: Are you saying a woman shouldn't be writing gay fiction? Are you saying women can't write gay fiction? Are you bashing m/m romance?

Author 2: Not at all. I love m/m romance. I love the entire genre. Please don't put words in my mouth. I'm just saying I don't know any songs from "My Fair Lady." I've never been abused or bullied either. And I do know a lot of great women authors who write great gay fiction. I love their works. I've always supported them and encouraged them. In fact, I'm not saying anything at all. I rarely do say anything. You're the one doing all the screaming. I'm basically just listening.

Author 1: I DON'T SCREAM. You're a hater, I say. You're a fucking sook. You're a vacuous author behaving badly.(everyone in bodega is now staring at red-faced woman with foaming mouth...except for one...he just read a bad review for one of his suspense novels on goodreads and he's banging his head on the table)

Author 2: But I didn't say anything. How am I behaving badly? I have never said anything bad about a review, a book reviewer, or another author in my life. I don't have google alerts. I don't spam other authors. I don't force my books on anyone through social networks. And I rarely solicit book reviews from anyone. Once in a while I have been known to leave a bad review for a book I didn't like. But it's my opinion, and I do it with my own name. I only have one account each, on goodreads and Amazon. I didn't even know who you were until you started screaming at me.

Author 1: You're a fucking dipshit, a fucking hater and it won't end well, I say.

Author 2: Let's calm down and take a few deep breaths. (winks at manager of bodega)

Author 1: Don't patronize me, you fuckwit. I won't have it, I tell you. I write literary gay fiction, I do.

Author 2: I'm sure you do. I'm sure you're the best. (hears sirens out front and takes a deep breath)

Author 1: What's the meaning of this? (sees men in white coats entering bodega)

Man in white coat 1: Is this the one? (nods at author 2)

Author 2: Yes, be gentle with her. She writes literary gay fiction.

Man in white coat 1: You get her right arm, I'll take the left. (nods to man in white coat 2)

Author 1: I say, what the fuck are you fucking sook, fuckwits doing? Put me down, I say. Put me down this instant or you'll regret it.

Author 2: (shrugs and frowns at manager of bodega) I've never heard of that woman before in my life. Thanks for calling Bellevue, man.