Friday, August 31, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime Finally on

Chase of a Lifetime is finally up on Don't ask me why, but it took weeks to get this approved and up for sale on Kobo. I would ask Tony every evening at dinner, "What's going on with Kobo and Chase," and he would say, "It's under review." As a side note, this has nothing to do with the fact that its erotic romance. It's their policy for all books...from what I can tell so far anyway.

With each web site where e-books are sold, we've found it's a different process. Amazon and Allromanceebooks, so far, have been the easiest to deal with. The fact that I love allromanceebooks for my own personal reading, makes me happy about this.

I thought it was important to get COAL up on Kobo with the rest of my published books. In my case, the sales aren't as good as other places, but I like knowing that people can buy it on Kobo because I'm also a huge Kobo fan and I have three Kobo e-readers now. I also have Kobo apps on my iPhone and tablet. I enjoy it just as much as Kindle.

Here's the link to Chase of a Lifetime on Kobo. I'm working on getting Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street up there, too. Chase of a Dream is still locked into the contract with the Amazon lender program and will be for a while. I love the idea of book lending and I wish they would allow us to do this on Amazon and still release the book in other places. I think readers would appreciate this.

Are We Ending the Age of Internet Anonymity?

If we are ending the age of Internet anonymity a lot of things will probably change. But some things will remain the same. From what I gather in the links below, the purpose of ending Internet anonymity is more about creating laws to protect people on the web just like there are laws to protect people in all aspects of society. Think about it. I know we complain about motor vehicles, but would you really want to live in a society where no one had to have a driver's license, insurance, and registration? Though most of us would continue to be safe responsible drivers, there's still that devious segment of the population that would take advantage and put the rest of us in danger.

I don't think most people abuse Internet anonymity. But for that small devious segment of anons who do abuse Internet anonymity lawmakers are now fighting for protection. I don't know how this will work with authors who have pen names. But I would assume that authors who have pen names and are not abusing them on the Internet, nothing much will change for them. The reason these laws are going to pop up eventually is to protect people from Internet crime, most of which seems to stem from Internet anonymity.

I could list blogs in the publishing community where devious Internet anonymity runs rampant. Some of these anonymous people have multiple anonymous identities and they spend a good part of their lives terrorizing innocent people who have no other recourse than to just sit back and take it. And it's not just in publishing. I've heard politicians claim they've been abused by Internet anonymity and I'm sure that's why the new laws are being pushed. I've also posted about many businesses that have suffered bad reviews left by their competitors thanks to the lawless Internet and anonymity. And these things affect businesses and livelihoods.

Sometimes it's so bad that some of us get paranoid about Internet anonymity. I recently blocked someone for this reason just based on simple facts. I saw multiple identities, I saw classic Internet bully tactics, and I saw all past information about this person disappear from the Internet for unexplained reasons. For me it's an automatic red flag. I lose patience and I don't want that filtering into my life.

In any event, I do think we're entering into a new age of the Internet. I'm not sure I like every aspect of it, but I don't see how else things can change unless laws are put into place to protect innocent people from Internet criminals. So far the honor system we've been seeing on the Internet isn't working.

Internet Protection Act Would Eliminate Anonymous Online Comments In New York

A new bill in Albany has its sights set on anonymous Internet trolls. The Internet Protection Act would require sites to have online commenters identify themselves.

The Act, sponsored by Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) and Senator Thomas O'Mara (R-Big Flats), would require New York-based websites to "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post."

It's happening in the UK, too.

The unmasking of Internet trolls: New laws will make websites responsible for vile messages unless they reveal identities of bullies

Cowardly Internet ‘trolls’ who post vile abuse on Facebook and Twitter will be identified to their victims under laws unveiled today.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to strip away the cloak of anonymity which shields website users who peddle lies and vicious smears.

Internet companies will be expected to agree to rules over how to deal with libellous comments posted on their sites.

Defamation - new law may put an end to online anonymity

It is often said that the Internet is a ‘law-free zone’ where users can say or do as they please. This may be about to change. New legislation is being put forward by the government that may bring the era of online anonymity to an end.

The changes are contained in clause five of the defamation bill, which was published several weeks ago and is currently on its way through the House of Commons.

The issue has gained prominence in the wake of several cases of online harassment, most notably a case where a Brighton woman, Nicola Brookes, obtained a judgment against Facebook, forcing it to reveal the identities of ‘vicious Internet trolls’ who posted abuse about her online.

So it's clear things are changing and I'll be watching to see if these laws are implemented. If you notice, I don't post any photos anymore unless I know it's legal to do it. Although I've always encouraged anonymous comments on this blog because I know people tend to be discreet with regard to erotic romance, I've also had to police more than a few comments I considered too vicious to post in public. If these laws don't happen soon, I'm sure they will happen eventually. Like I said earlier, I'm not sure I'm thrilled about them yet. But I have experienced several defamatory cases personally because of Internet anonymity and I haven't been thrilled about it. At this point, there's nothing I can do about it. If there are laws, I will pursue the real identities of the people who tried to defame me in public, openly and with my own name and identity.

Photo from

A NOTE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER (Kenn W. Kiser/aka click): The photos on this Web site (including mine) are not part of the Public Domain. Each photographer maintains full copyrights to their individual photos and grants usage so long as you obied by the Terms posted on this Web site. If you use my photo(s) and have a moment, I'd love to hear which ones and how they were used. Just curious. - Thanks! ;-)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

50 Shades of Gay: Beekman Boys on Amazing Race; Drag Queen Barbie...

I often talk about the stereotypes and how the mainsream media seems to always focus on certain aspects of the gay community and misses other aspects completely.

But the fact remains that the gay community is filled with diversity on all levels. And some of the stereotypes that are put out in the mainstream are true and they shouldn't be diminished either. So while I do wish that we saw more shades of gay, so to speak, in the mainstream, I also think it's important to celebrate some of the stereotypes as well.

Beekman Boys On Amazing Race This Fall:


The Fabulous Beekman Boys will be competing on this fall's season of The Amazing Race on CBS.

This information came from an e-mail announcement and there's no link. But I think that's about as bad as it gets with regard to stereotypes. Fabumazing? In any event, I enjoy what the Josh and Brent do. And we all know, "Farmin Ain't Easy."

Drag Queen Barbie:

Styled with glamorous Marilyn makeup in a barely-there, platinum mini-dress—the showstopper part of which is a bejeweled, corseted bodice—and draped with a floor-length white fur, the Blond Diamond Barbie is designed by New York City fashion duo the Blonds., which sells the doll, calls it “pretty, provocative, and magical.” A slew of major media outlets—among them TIME, ABC News, Entertainment Weekly—and countless smaller blogs call it “Drag Queen Barbie.” That title is not exactly accurate, but the doll is progressive—albeit controversial.

You can read more about drag queen Barbie here. Again, another stereotype that is a big part of the gay community and always has been.

Mary Cheney, Vice-President Dick Cheney's Daughter:

When you think of a gay marriage, you probably imagine a lot of things. However, one thing we‘re almost certain you don’t expect is for Dick Cheney to be in attendance as the father of the bride. Or, in this case, one of two brides. Yet just recently, he has been just that.

You can read more here. And, this is about as far from the stereotype as it gets. Republican Veep, Dick Cheney, has a gay daughter? And she got married? What on earth could possibly happen next?

This Is a Huge Part of Gay America:

Notice how I left it blank. That's because there are still millions of gay men and women who still aren't "out" because they can't come out. They fear losing their jobs, they fear losing their families, and they fear being shunned from their religions. In fact, I would go as far as saying they make up the majority of the gay community and don't even know it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Erotic Romance Takes a Hit Again: So Let's Spin it Around This Time

I came across an interesting blog post written by a web site called "The Bookpushers," where they seem to find excerpts from erotic romances hysterical in that internet-y snarky way that's filled with cute-isms like "WTF-ery" and referring to a penis as a "peen."

Ah well, funny-funny...ha-ha. I'm slapping my knee and twirling my finger.

Just to make it clear: I don't think they've ever reviewed any of my books, so I'm not directing anything in this post to anything they've said about me. What I'm talking about here in this post is how we all look at erotic romance in different ways. And how bloggers can put a spin on something. Personally, referring to a penis as a "peen" makes me want to fucking gag. But more than that, a cute-ism like "WTF-ery" is one of those things that should be done once, and only once. Otherwise it looses its snark and turns into bad Internet jargon.

When I read the post titled The Strange and Wonderful World of Eroticacock I didn't find anything that would make me shudder and cross my legs in the excerpts they were laughing at. Used in the wrong context, as these excerpts are being used in that post, they are funny. But I could take any phrase or excerpt from any non-erotic romance novel that has a cover with a woman in a long flowing gown and do exactly the same thing they are doing over there with erotic romance.

And just to show you it can be done, I'm going to do it right here. I'll give you a few examples of how bloggers can spin things around to suit their own needs. I won't mention names or titles because this isn't about any specific author or book. I'm going to show direct quotes from non-erotic romances on Amazon from books with covers that have women in long flowing gowns. As they would say over at The Bookpushers blog..."ICK!"

Here's a real treasure:

She musn't look up at him in betraying consternation.

What in the world is that supposed to mean? Talk about shudder and cross my legs. When I read a sentence like that I'm not only ready to gag, I'm ready to heave what I've eaten for the last three days. Seriously! That's a sentence? Who the fuck uses words like "musn't?" And don't even ask me about "betraying consternation." Sounds like this chick needs a little prune juice to help out with all that consternation.

And here's a real gem, taken from the same romance novel:

Just looking at the man gave her gooseflesh. She'd appeared before him once. Even thinking of the questions he'd asked, the way his eyes had pierced her, made the skin on the back of her neck prickle.

Timid little bird, isn't she. If all it takes is just one look at the dude to give her gooseflesh then she's got more problems than we are being lead to believe. Sounds a little like social anxiety disorder to me. I can't remember the last time I looked at a man and I got gooseflesh. Such drama! You'd think she'd seen a burping penis.

And, just for the record, I have yet to meet anyone that pierced me with his eyes and made the skin on the back of my neck "prickle." In fact, I would go as far as saying that I've never actually felt my skin "prickle." I don't even think I've used the word "prickle" more than once in my life. On occassion my skin has become overly sensitive...especially that time I was stung by a bee and broke out in hives. I've felt rushes and sensations from time to time when I've had bouts with consternation. But I don't remember actually ever experiencing a PRICKLE.

Just for fun, we'll do one more:

A woman in the crowd let out a harsh bark of laughter at that, and the mayor hid a smile behind his sleeve.

Let's begin with this barking woman, ruff ruff. It's evident she's being entertained in some way. But it must be pretty damn funny if she's reached the point of barking. I don't know many people who bark when they laugh. I'm sure there are some, but it's not something I'd ever put in a novel. As far as I know, people don't bark...unless they are severely consternated...oh, sorry...they don't bark then, they grunt.

I'm guessing that the mayor didn't actually have a smile behind his sleeve. But it would be interesting if he did. Imagine the possibilities. It could be a tattoo of a great big grin on his forearm. Or better yet, maybe he's bored and he's drawing smiley faces on his arm. I'm sure the romance author meant the mayor lifted his arm to his lips and smiled. But even that doesn't make sense. I'm doing it right now. I'm lifting my arm to my face and I'm smiling. It's an awkward gesture at best, and personally I wouldn't allow any small children to sit on a man's lap who does something like THIS.

I'm finished for now. But I could go on. My point in this post is not to make fun of the romances that have covers with women in long flowing gowns. People enjoy reading them and that's all that matters. My issue in this post is to show that anyone can take anything and spin it around to suit their needs. I just did it. In the case of The Bookpushers they decided to take excerpts from erotic romances and spin them around to suit their needs. And they did it in a very clever way, too.

But I never see anyone spin things around in the opposite direction. And it can be done and it can be just as funny with non-erotic romance. I've just proven that I can take any passage from any non-erotic romance and make fun of it in the same snarky, internet-y way they can do it with sex scenes in erotic romance. And I didn't use the word "peen" once.

I also truly hope I didn't offend anyone with this post any more than people who read and write erotic romance are offended by posts like the one I read on The Bookpushers. But if I did, you "musn't" worry, and please don't get "consternated" over it. We all have different taste and what makes one shudder and cross her legs makes another smile behind his sleeve.

ETA: The above excerpts were *literally* taken, verbatim, from a book written by a bestselling romance author who never seems to get bad reviews from any of the web sites that seem to love bashing erotic romance authors (smile).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Republican Platform: Gay Marriage

I rarely get political here. I vote as an independent and never strictly down party lines.

But when the Republican party makes this kind of an announcement, they don't really leave me much of a choice this November.


The platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

According to the article, this is a key part of the Republican platform. I found it on Fox, so it's not left wing spin. It's interesting to be gay, in a relationship with someone for twenty years, and read something like this in black and white.

And speaking of black and white, I think I know how mixed raced couples felt not more than fifty years ago when marriage was defined in some places as a union between one white man and one white woman.

It's even more interesting because Tony and I have nieces and nephews who are products of marriages between one man and one other man and one other woman...and in some cases one more man and one more woman. In other words, we lasted all these years and we can't legally get married. Our family members have been married and divorced several times. I have one set of nieces and nephews with more grandparents than they know what to do with.

So maybe they should change the platform to read marriage is the union between one man and one woman until the one man or one woman decide it's time for marriage to be between one man and another woman, or one woman and another man. As things stand now with so many younger straight couples terrified to get married because they came from broken homes, and so many middle aged straight couples getting divorced, that would make far more sense to me.

But I do take pride in knowing that my nieces and nephews from broken homes, who have suffered the damages and trauma of divorce, have seen at least one solid relationship last that might help set an example for them in the future...even if the Republican platform refuses to recognize Tony and me legally.

This blog is not a democracy. Comments that don't agree with me will not be published.

Not All Self-Published Authors Pay For Their Book Reviews...

I've been seeing a lot of articles by some rather loud mouthed bloggers about self-published authors paying for book reviews. Most of these articles have been sparked by this NYT article, where it states that self-published authors are paying huge sums of money for book reviews.

Before I get into this, I'll state up front the majority of my fiction has been published through traditional publishers. In the last five years, a lot of my fiction has been published by e-presses like Ravenous Romance, who also own Hollan Publishing. Up until last spring, I'd always worked with a publisher. But this past year I self-published three novels through the Amazon's KDP program. I did this alone, without the help of a literary agent's e-publishing service. And I have never once paid for a book review, and won't start now. In fact I rarely solicit book reviewers for reviews. Ask them if you don't believe me. I like getting book reviews the old fashioned way: from my readers.

I have heard cases where more than a few authors are now paying for book reviews. I'm not disputing this fact in this post. But I'm wondering if they are all self-published authors. Couldn't there be a few trad published authors doing the same thing? Heaven forbid! Doesn't Kirkus charge something like $575.00 for book reviews? I know for a fact traditionally published authors are paying for reviews and no one seems to think there's anything wrong with this.

In this post from The Digital Reader it sounds like ALL self-published authors are paying to get reviews.

If you’re a self-published author who is still struggling to get noticed, now might be the time to swallow the rest of your pride, jettison your code of ethics, and start buying reviews. (Hey, everyone is doing it.)

The gist of this post on The Digital Reader isn't bad. I agree with it. But the part about "swallow the rest of your pride," pisses me off royally. Though I've never paid for a review...or even solicited a review for my self-pubbed books...I've taken great pride in my self-published works on Amazon and I resent the fact some blogger is insinuating I should have less pride because I self-published. Maybe I'm misreading this comment, but I'm not swallowing anything other than the self-satisfaction I received from writing three full length novels and publishing them on my own, without a literary agent's e-publishing service, from concept to final product. And if I am misreading this comment it was either worded this way on purpose to be misread, or it's just poorly written to begin with. Either way, I don't appreciate it.

Self-published authors are getting a bad rap these days, and for good reasons. In this article the entire Amazon self-publishing program is questioned:

If you were trying to discredit Amazon's new self-publishing model aimed at eliminating conventional publishers as obsolete "gatekeepers," relying instead on crowdsourced reviews, what would you do?

I'm not disagreeing with anything in this article. But once again the attack is on self-published authors and I don't find this to be completely true. I've seen authors with publishers and agents who are desperate to get their names out there do similar things more than once. So this concept that ALL self-published authors are doing things like paying for great reviews is not only a misconception, it's insulting to those self-published authors like me who are NOT doing these things to get attention.

I completely agree with this, in the same article I linked to above:

Policing reviews could take time and alienate some customers, both self-published authors and reviewers, but to let reviews continue unregulated might alienate far more of them. Mr. Rutherford may unintentionally turn out to be a more powerful advocate of the despised gatekeepers and their authors than even Senator Schumer.

But once again, where are they getting this information that it's all self-published authors? There are just as many struggling new authors with traditional publishers and agents out there who are willing to do anything humanly possible to sell their books. These people are ruthless in their quest. I know for a fact that one traditionally pubbed author's agent told him not to bother paying for a Kirkus review because it wouldn't help sell his book and the author went ahead and did it anyway.

In this post by The Indie Reader someone else is saying the same thing I'm saying right now:

The other point that gets lost in “The Best Book Reviews” piece is that paying for book reviews is not just the pervue of indie authors. Professional reviews for all published books—whether trad or indie—are, directly or indirectly, paid for.

In other words, it's not just self-pubbed authors...a lot of THEM are doing it and all self-pubbed authors are taking the hits even if they never paid for a review in their lives. Hell, most self-pubbed authors don't have the money to pay for a fucking review in the first place. And yet their books are still selling better than a lot of trad pubbed books nowadays. So go figure!

This comment on The Indie Reader's blog post from Sue Grafton blew me away:

As bestselling trad pubbed author Sue Grafton recently said, “Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work” and “…it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research.”

Assuming this quote is accurate, Sue Grafton doesn't know what she's talking about. I'm trad pubbed and self-pubbed and I can tell you all one thing for certain: harder than self-pubbing a book on your own. It's the reason why I just signed to do ten more novels with ravenous romance this month. I found that self-pubbing was so intense it was taking time away from writing. And this Sue Grafton really needs to get out more before she makes comments like that, seriously. But more important, I would LOVE to see Sue Grafton figure out the language of HTML and try formatting a book on her own. It would make me smile.

The point of this post is to show readers and consumers that not all self-published authors are paying for reviews and clawing their way through the Amazon ranks by doing anything they can to get attention. For most of us self-publishing is a humble experience. In my case, I am ten times more connected to my self-published books than I am to my trad pubbed books. And that's because I put more time, energy, and work into the self-pubbed books. And I don't know one single self-pubbed author who would not agree with me on this.

I've posted about many authors who have been trad pubbed and self-pubbed on this blog. I'll continue to do so. But I've also made it clear that readers have to vet their books and compare reviews nowadays before making a purchase. Because it's not just self-pubbed authors out to scam you with paid reviews.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey"

Before I get into Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey I'm linking to an article that talks about future film plans for FSoG, here.

Best selling author E L James has finally broke her silence on whether "Fifty Shades of Grey" will remain a trilogy on the big screen. The film rights were purchased in March by Universal Pictures yet there was no discussion on how many films would be made. Although there has been no official announcement, E L James has taken to her favorite social media outlet, Twitter, to answer the question. On August 25 a fan asked James, "is the film going to be a combination of all books wrapped up?" Within minutes the author responded by stating, "three films hopefully :)." This is exciting news to fans who have been wondering for months how the novels would be depicted on film.

The article goes on to talk about who might be cast in the lead roles...none of which are Matt Bomer, unfortunately.

There's also a non-fiction book coming out this fall titled Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. You can check it out here on Amazon. I participated in the book with an essay about my thoughts and feelings about FSoG, and went into detail about my reading experience, how I found FSoG on a review site, and how it actually inspired me to write my own BDSM novel, Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. I'd like to emphasize that Jonah Sweet is not a parody of FSoG and does not even come near the storyline. In fact, in my book, after reading what so many loved and hated about FSoG in reviews, and then weighing them and examining the reasons why some either love it or hated it, I decided to write a BDSM novel that was NOT like FSoG.

But when asked if I was interested in contributing to Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, I couldn't wait to get started. It wasn't easy to keep it short. I could have written a chapter if there'd been room. What I found most interesting about FSoG was that the people who seemed to dislike it were very into the BDSM lifestyle and almost felt insulted at the way BDSM was handled in FSoG. I'll admit that I didn't get that at first. Now I do get it.

On the other hand, the mainstream...people who know nothing about BDSM but are curious about it, including me...embraced the book in ways no one ever expected. And these mainstream readers gave FSoG great reviews. I NEVER talk about my own reviews here. But I think I can say this without offending anyone. I had one review for Chase of a Lifetime a few months ago where the author of the review talked about what she hated in my book and what she loved in Fifty Shades of Grey. Being that Chase of a Lifetime and Fifty Shades of Grey are nowhere even close to being identical books...not in any way, shape or form...I found that interesting. There isn't even BDSM in COAL. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that Fifty Shades of Grey and Chase of a Lifetime are completely different books all the way around.

And yet a reader went out of his/her way to compare my book to FSoG. I'm sorry the reader didn't like my book. And there's nothing I can do about that. It's happened before and it will happen again and I'll live. But that was one negative review that I did learn from. It gave some good solid information that helped inspire my essay in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. I also think the reader may have been tempted to read one of my books because of Fifty Shades of Grey. I can't be sure about that. But I've heard other authors of erotic Romance say this is true.

I think this is important to add. I wrote my essay for Fifty Writers from the POV of being a mainstream reader who knows nothing about BDSM. And even though FSoG inspired me to write a BDSM novel, it did not inspire me to the point where I wanted to write FSoG fanfic. I didn't like it that much. I've also read that most people who bought FSoG and helped make it the blockbuster hit its been, allegedly did not bother to finish it. They have ways of tracking these things now with e-readers, and from what I hear this is based on clinical data. Evidently, only one in ten readers actually finish the book.

I will post more about Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades as we get closer to a release date. I'm curious about what the other forty-nine writers thought about FSoG. From what I've been told the essays include opinions and thoughts from writers who did not all share the same opinions.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breaking Gay Stereotypes...

While I was reading a blog authored by a straight guy I know, I saw him dealing with a lot of the same stereotypes gay guys have to deal with all the time. In his case, he's getting it in reverse because he's neat, has a well decorated home, and is extremely articulate in everything he does.

And that's the kind of thing we all need to work on a little more...breaking those stereotypes. I found an interesting blog, here, that says this in the title:

A group of LGBTS bloggers share their ideas, opinions, and stories to help increase understanding about Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Straight people and issues.

I haven't had time to check it all out, but I will admit this is the first time I've ever seen LGBTS. I've mentioned more than once how I feel about LGBTQ, and how I'm not embracing the "Q" part because I find the "Q" word highly offensive. But the "S" part...for straight...I find very interesting.

It seems like a lot of people get hung up on stereotypes.
For instance, gays are known for being crazy sex fiends who get std's out the wazoo. Gay people even seem to think this is how things are or how they are perceived. And then as if to prove something some gays feel like they have to act like the most pious Christians out there. Gay Mormons feel like they have to show they're being celibate and following all the rules in order to prove that gays aren't bad. Others feel they have to prove that gays can have families and build lasting relationships just to show that gays aren't bad. In some ways this sickens me, but at the same time I'm going to give you my proof.

From what I can tell, it looks like a well written blog and there are some interesting concepts that seem to be geared around breaking the stereotypes and bringing the gay community closer to the straight community. I will post more about it when I find out more.

Philadelphia Bathhouse Caught Fire...

Of course every large city on the scale of Philadelphia has at least one bathhouse that gay men frequent.

I only live 45 minutes away from Center City Philadelphia and I've heard about Club Body Center many times. Though I've never been there personally, I know people who do go.

You can read more about the fire at the bathhouse blog...which I find to be extremely well written.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gay Icon: Peter Berlin

As for gay icons, few compare to Peter Berlin. He was one of those men who attracted attention without even trying. Just one image of him can define an era for gay men, an era that I was too young to be part of. But his photos inspired me to write gay erotica, as I'm sure they inspired many others.

From Wiki:

Armin Hagen Freiherr von Hoyningen-Huene (born in 1942) is a photographer, artist, filmmaker, clothing designer/sewer, model and gay sex symbol best known by his stage name Peter Berlin. In the early to mid-1970s, Berlin created some of the most recognizable gay male erotic imagery of his time. Serving as his own photographer, model, and fashion designer, Berlin redefined self-portraiture and became an international sensation.[1]

This makes today's amateur photos from iPhones look slightly silly.

Check out his web site here.

His two films, Nights in Black Leather (1972) and That Boy (1974), played to packed houses for years and, along with other pioneering erotic filmmakers such as Wakefield Poole and Jack Deveau, helped bring gay male erotic films artistic legitimacy.

And who says erotic films are not artistic? I personally think boning and art can be combined very well, indeed.

John Waters made a great video I found on Youtube.

There are tons of images here and I'm not sure what's legal to use or not so I'm linking to them instead. It's worth checking out the web site I linked to above to read and see more about him.

Though he retired, I've read he's still in San Francisco and he's recognized often on the street.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple Awarded 1.051 Billion by Jury

It seems Apple is involved in a legal battle almost everywhere I look these days. I've only been following this one from a distance, but I have to admit I'm a little surprised...knowing how Apple tends to do business from reading about their past records. Steve Jobs himself made comments about stealing ideas and concepts and laughed them off with a quote from someone I can't name now. I read that in his bio and it was one of the things that stuck with me...along with how peculiar he was when it come to food, how poorly he treated people, and how he regarded his own daughter.

The jury in the landmark Apple-Samsung trial ruled mostly in favor of Apple, including awarding Apple $1,051,855,000 in damages. Samsung, on the other hand, was granted a total of $0 in damages.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the jury came down on both of the companies. Remember, there are plenty of devices at play here — on Samsung’s side alone, there’s the Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Fascinate, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S, Exhibit, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize, Nexus S 4G, Gem, Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Replenish, Vibrant, plus every carrier’s version of the Galaxy S II.

■The jury found no infringement by Apple on any of Samsung’s utility patents.
■The jury found that Samsung infringed on patents for ’381 “bounce back” scrolling functionality on all devices.

You can read more here.

Frankly, when I read things like this it worries me about how jury members think and process information. I was stunned recently by more than a few high profile murder cases, and I can't help wondering if jury members are different now than they were twenty or thirty years ago.

This part scares me the most, especially the part about them not coming from technical backgrounds:

The verdict came in shockingly quickly, as the jury was only in deliberation for three days. The jury worked one hour late yesterday and reached a decision at 2:35 PT today. Over 700 individual decisions had to be made by members of the jury, which does not come from particularly technical backgrounds, on their complex worksheets.

Chase of a Dream: Which Sells Better, Erotic or Censored Non-Erotic Version

For those who don't know, when I released Chase of a Dream I published two versions of the same book. One was the unabridged erotic romance with all the original erotic scenes and one was the abridged version with all the explicit erotic scenes edited out of the book.

I did this for several reasons. One, because I wanted to see if it could be done without hurting the storyline. I discovered I only had to cut 7,000 words from the original 60,000 word novel and nothing at all changed in the story. It's still a romance, it's still as emotional, and it still has a happy ending.

The second reason I did this was to see if I could do it. I've been writing erotica for so long I truly wasn't sure if I could write something that wasn't erotic. What I discovered was interesting. While I do write explicit sex scenes in my books, I don't write that many. Again, interesting. After editing the erotic scenes out of Chase of a Dream I went back to other books I'd written and had published through publishers and I found the same pattern in almost each book. Of course some did have slightly more than others, but it all averaged out to not as much as I thought I'd had. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I do try to give my readers what I think they want because that's what matters the most to me.

The third reason I released two versions of COAD was to see which version would sell better...or if there would be any difference at all. I didn't know what to expect. I'd never seen this done before with an erotic romance where an author self-censors the sex scenes and releases both versions at the same time. One of the drawbacks of writing erotic romance is that readers are discreet and they don't like to leave reviews as much as readers who read non-erotic romance. So my only indication is how the book sells.

I also have had several reviews over the years where a handful of select readers have left reviews of my books that said there was too much sex. Or that something bothered them about the sex scenes. This always confused me because I'm a gay man and I know how gay men have sex, I know how they think about sex, and I know how they react to sex. They aren't that much different than straight men. Because this isn't a lecture on how gay men think about sex, you'll just have to take my word for this. I also don't feel like handing out free advice today from my own personal experiences. You can read about them in my books if you're interested. Almost every sex scene I've ever written was based on some kind of a personal experience I've had in the past.

Ultimately, my goal in releasing two versions of COAD was to give readers a choice. This way those who think I write too much sex, and have said this openly, would now have a choice. That choice is important to me. I want readers to have choices like this...but without compromising what I know is real. In other words, I'm not going to pander to a small group who doesn't want to read about what gay sex is really like. It is what it is, and what you saw on Oprah and Sex in the City about gay men is about as accurate as those women's magazines where the perfect working mom keeps a perfect house and never has a moment of stress. But I don't mind removing the sex so I don't offend that group who prefers not to read about what's real.

In any event, it turns out the unabridged erotic version of COAD is selling much better than the non-erotic abridged version. And that's not concentrated on any one web site in particular. It's across the board, from Amazon to Smashwords to ARe. Which means this will most likely be the last time I ever release two versions of one book at the same time. The next installment in the Chase of a Lifetime series will not be self-published on Amazon. And it will be the full uncensored erotic romance. I pitched the series to Ravenous Romance and they bought it. I'll post more about it in the future. I'm about halfway through it right now and I'm not sure which direction it's going. I can give you this small hint: Len Mayfield is forced to contact his family in Connecticut after many years of not wanting to deal with them at all. And Jim Darling finally finds out what his in-laws are like.

I will be taking a short break from self-publishing for a while to concentrate on books I've been contracted to do with ravenous romance. But this is by no means the end of the line for me. As difficult as self-publishing can be, I've enjoyed my experiences so far and I will do more in the future. I prefer working with a publisher. I like the collaboration and I love working with Holly and my editors at ravenous romance. It gives me more time to concentrate on the book, and not the technical or business issues that involve publishing a book. Tony and I have been planning a trip to Maine for a long time and something keeps happening to stop us. But I do plan on going soon, and I'm making a point to stop in at the ravenous romance offices in MA to see Holly. I'll post photos when I do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing News: KDP Now in India

I'll post what I think is the most important from the KDP newsletter for those who are interested in self-publishing, those might try it someday, and for those who have really self-published without their literary agent's e-publishing services backing them.

KDP is Now Available in the Kindle Store for India!

We’re excited to announce Kindle Direct Publishing has launched in India!

If you have distribution rights in India for books you've published through Kindle Direct Publishing, they are now available in the Kindle store for India (sold to customers in India on New features for authors and publishers in India include the ability to set prices specific for India, as well as receive royalty payments in INR. For the full press release on India click here.

Marketing Tidbit of the Month

If you are about to use your free promotion days, offered as part of KDP Select, make sure you actively announce these days in advance so you can make the most out of this valuable promotional benefit. You can announce this to your readers through your social media presence, like Facebook, Twitter, blog, email list, etc.

KDP will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The biggest book and media fair in the world is just around the corner. We’re referring to the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct 10-14) of course. Every year this event attracts about 7,500 exhibitors from over 110 countries. KDP will have a joint booth there with CreateSpace and will give a session on ‘Indie Publishing with Amazon’. See here for a full list of events planned during the fair. As always, we love to meet our KDP authors and publishers in person so make sure to come by our booth at Hall 8, F914.

As we had mentioned before, we’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and around the world, so stay tuned for more announcements.

New KDP Author Story Featured on the Amazon Homepage

Another one of our KDP authors, Theresa Ragan, has been featured on the homepage as of 8/21. In the story, Theresa shares her struggles trying to publish her work over a period of 19 years, and how she finally reached readers by deciding to publish using KDP. In case Theresa’s story is no longer live on the Amazon homepage, you can also read it below.

Overnight Success, 20 Years in the Making

As a mom who worked full-time while raising four kids, romance author Theresa Ragan knows about struggle. But when it came time to publish her first novel, Theresa didn’t expect a battle that would threaten her commitment to writing. Return of the Rose took Theresa five years to complete, and though she received good feedback from the publishing community, no one wanted to publish the book. With her next two books, it was the same story. One prominent editor even asked her to add 20,000 words to one of her manuscripts and resubmit it. Theresa did. Then she never heard from him again.

“I was crushed by that. I truly thought my time had come, but then… nothing. I knew rejection was part of the deal of becoming a published author, but I had no idea it would be that hard. All I wanted was to get my work in front of readers. After over 100 rejections, there were days I thought about quitting altogether.

“It felt unfair, somehow. It was like my success wasn’t being based on my writing abilities but was instead decided by two dozen people in New York. I knew I deserved better, and that readers deserved to read my books!”

That’s when Theresa discovered a way to take success into her own hands. She learned that any author could publish their books on Kindle by using Amazon’s independent self-service publishing platform. “In 2011, my youngest child was going off to college, and it was time for me to get back to work, so I decided to give it a shot. With nothing to lose, I published two of my romantic time travel novels electronically and print-on-demand through Amazon. I hoped to sell maybe ten books. I was stunned when I sold thousands. For the first time, my stories were being read, and after nearly two decades of working hard to get published, I felt like an overnight success!

“In a little over a year, I have sold nearly 250,000 books for the Kindle. Four of my books even made the Top 100 Kindle Best Sellers List. I have been approached by agents, foreign sales people, and two movie producers, and have received mentions in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and PC Magazine, and was recently interviewed by USA Today.

“I am so excited that writers have the opportunity to get their work in front of readers without jumping through insurmountable hoops. The publishing world is changing fast, and I plan to enjoy every minute of the ride.”

If Your Literary Agent E-Publishes Your Book Through Their E-Publishing Service Are You Still Considered Self-Published?

If your literary agent e-publishes your book through their e-publishing service are you still considered self-published is an interesting question. But before I get into this I'd like to get one thing out of the way. Literary agents have been quietly introducing e-publishing services to their clients. They don't call it self-publishing services, they call it e-publishing services. There has been a great deal written and discussed about this with regard to conflict of interest. I'm not getting into that here. Frankly, I'm on the fence about it.

What I'm talking about has more to do with what is actually considered self-publishing. When I started my own self-publishing venture with Ryan Field Press last spring and self-published "Chase of a Lifetime," "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street," and "Chase of a Dream," I wrote about it openly and told my readers exactly what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what my motivations were for doing it. You can read these posts here. And if anyone has any questions I'm more than willing to answer them because I'm not hiding anything from you.

What I didn't do with my self-publishing venture was contact a literary agent and ask her if I could use her e-publishing services. My motivation with this was that I wanted complete control and I didn't see the need to pay a fee...or to have an agent take 15% off the back end of my self-published books. It would have been much easier for me to submit my books to a literary agent with e-publishing services. I wouldn't have had to deal with all the business issues, I wouldn't have had to worry about formatting, and I wouldn't have had to hire a copy editor or cover artist. In other words, from what I've gathered, literary agents who offer e-publishing services do all these things for their clients/authors.

But the tricky thing is that not all work the same way. One fairly young literary agent offers e-publishing services in two packages. One package includes everything, from editorial to distribution and the other package just offers distribution. I can't single anyone out because it seems they are all doing it differently (and very quietly for some reason)...but my point here again is are these authors actually self-publishing if they are going through an experienced literary agent who is offering e-publishing services that do basically everything an e-publisher would do?

There are few interesting situations that confuse me about all this a little. Last night I was checking out a few books by published authors who recently claim they self-published .99 e-books. I went to Kobo to see who they listed as the publisher, and then I went to Amazon to see who they listed as the publisher. On Kobo they listed a literary agent who offers e-publishing services and on Amazon the author listed her own name as the publisher. So who is actually the publisher...or self-publisher? You see where I'm going with this.

Interesting. And it's a detail I wouldn't have overlooked when putting up the product description. In this case, it's a huge mistake (and dumb) to overlook that kind of continuity. I want to know who the publisher is, and if I see two different publishers for the same book on different web sites I'm going to question this.

In my case, you can go from Amazon to iTunes to Smashwords and you'll see Ryan Field Press listed as the publisher with my self-published books. I did it the hard way and I have the proverbial scars to prove it. I'm still dealing with issues regarding Kobo and a few other web sites. But with the three novels I released this past spring I consider myself a self-published author. I wrote the book, hired a copy editor, hired a cover artist, and then I pushed the buttons to self-publish those books. My partner, Tony, did a lot of the technical work, but we worked as a team and he's just as much Ryan Field Press as I am.

There are, indeed, e-publishing sevices out there that self-published authors can hire to do a lot of the technical work for them. For those who are not tech oriented but are interested in self-publishing I recommend looking into those services. From what I've seen the author pays a flat fee and that's it. These e-publishing services are not literary agents. You don't have to be their client or query them to use their e-publishing services. All you have to do is hire them as a service. In this case, you're still a self-published author and from what I gather your name/press will be listed as the publisher.

But I'm not sure about about an author who uses her agent as an e-publishing service and then lists the e-publishing service as the publisher. I guess I'm on the fence about that as well. And that's because I self-published my books with Ryan Field Press alone and you can check that out wherever you see my books for sale. But when I see an author claim she's self-published her books and then I see the name of her literary agent's e-publishing service listed on Kobo as the publisher, I have to wonder if that's really considered self-publishing...and is the agent a literary service for e-publishing or is the agent an e-publisher?

And how fair is this to all those hard-working authors out there who have been self-publishing that hard way like I've been doing it? I have twenty years of experience in getting my fiction published with traditional publishers. This gave me a slight edge over an author with less experience. But even with my experience I found self-publishing ALONE to be difficult.

All interesting questions I can't answer in this blog post without more information. The problem is finding this information because so many are so silent about it. One literary agency who started a venture like this actually shut down her blog and moved to Alaska. I'm only joking about Alaska, but the blog went dead fast when readers started asking questions.

In any event, Ryan Field Press might venture into this happy little arena next year and join all the fun. Why not? I'm not a literary agent and there would be no conflict of interest. I'm not hiding anything, I've never been anything but honest about what I do, and I have no reason to be quiet about it. I would offer e-publishing services to a select group of authors who are interested in using my e-publishing services. But no tricks and gimmicks, I promise. If I do it, I'll post about it openly and answer any and all questions. I'm just not sure if I would be considered an e-publishing service or an e-publisher if the books were distrubuted under Ryan Field Press on Kobo.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prince Harry in the Nude; Doctors with iPads; Stop the Goodreads Bullies, and Stop the STGRB Bullies

As I've posted many times before, I'm a royalist at heart. I find everything all royals do fascinating. Some are more interesting than others. And Prince Harry seems to be one of the most interesting.

Evidently he was playing strip pool in Vegas and wound up losing his shirt, and his pants, and everything he was wearing. No photos here. But you can go to this link to see what I'm talking about.

Some of the partiers snapped photos of the madness. In one photo, a fully nude Harry cups his genitals while a seemingly topless woman stands behind him.

In this older article, see what Prince Harry says about writing sexy novels:

Prince Harry has been a huge fan of Collins for years. He told his friend he is bored of the military and would love to write “sexy bestsellers”

I would love nothing more than to collaborate on a sexy novel with him, any day, any time, and for free!

Doctors Using iPads Now More Than Ever...

I posted this week about how things have changed since 2007 in publishing. And now I'm posting about how things have changed since 2007 in the world of medicine. In 2007 I remember dealing with several family hospital issues and each time I went to the hospital I was amazed at how backward they seemed to be when it came to technology. They had computers, but it seemed to me they were caught between hard copy and digital charts and couldn't seem to find a happy medium. I also remember waiting in a doctor's office in 2007 while a tech guy installed a new one knew how to use. It slowed the office down so much I wound up sitting there for four hours instead of the normal one hour wait. And I wound up helping the doctor find my file that day.

Interesting how so much has changed since then:

The iPad’s design offers a lot of promise and problem solving in point of care use. It offers the benefits of electronic medical records in a form that’s similar to a paper chart and that doesn’t create a barrier between doctor and patient – a common complaint about laptops used for similar purposes. It also offers doctors the ability quickly (and somewhat more accurately) illustrate injuries, conditions, and treatment options to patients. Outside point of care use, the iPad (and the iPhone) offer instant access to all kinds of medical references.

“Physicians are evolving in ways we expected – only faster,” noted Monique Levy, vice president of research for Manhattan Research.

It's about time. My nephew (gay nephew) just entered med school and had his white coat ceremony in Iowa this past week and he's never without his iPad. You can read more here.

Stop the GR Bullies and Stop the STGRB Bullies...

With regard to this topic I state no opinions at all. I haven't posted about this topic before because I was waiting for some kind of a rebuttal so I could balance my post fairly and post the information without bias. And, as I predicted, the rebuttal came in the form of another blog. And now I can link to both sides of the issue at the same time.

A lot of authors have commented in public about this alleged bully issue. I don't feel the need. From what I can gather it's between readers, not authors. And the only time that I find it possible to separate myself from being an author and a reader is when I write a book review for something I've read, and even then it's not easy. In almost any other case I'm considered an author and I don't believe authors should get involved in things like this. The main reason being is that it ruins the reading/review experience for the reader. Feel free to disagree with me, but not here because this blog is mine, with my own name, and it's not a democracy.

According to the "Who We Are" page on their web site, Stop the GR Bullies says this:

We are readers, bloggers, and Goodreads members who, inspired by those who have already taken a stand, have come together in an effort to stop the bullying we have seen on the GR fora. In light of recent events, we feel there is a growing need to help the victims of the outrageous behaviour exhibited by those Goodreads members known as the GR bullies.

You can read more here.

According to Stop the STGRB Bullies "Who I Am" page, this is what he/she says:

I am the Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Truth who seeks to destroy evil and thwart those who engage in evil practices. Be on your guard, scoundrels!

LOLJKS, I can’t take myself that seriously. Really I just want to expose the STGRB trolls as the hypocrites they are. Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair.

You can read more about them by following this link.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rufus Wainwright Tells Guests He Wants Cash, Not Gifts at Same Sex Wedding

I've seen many congratulations on social media for the impending same sex marriage for Rufus Wainwright and his partner. Although I'm a huge supporter of gay marriage because I've been with my partner, Tony, for twenty years, I'm not a huge fan of same sex marriage unless it's on a federal level...ahem, Mr. President. I know same sex marriage on a state level has its benefits and it is good for morale. But I live in Pennsylvania where same sex marriage still isn't legal, and may never be legal in my lifetime. We need it on a federal level. Anything else is nothing more than throwing us a proverbial bone.

I've been to many commitment ceremonies over the years that weren't considered legal marriages for same sex couples. Tony and I have two good women friends who have been together for twenty-five years and they've been married in several states. They live in New York and being married there legally has afforded them certain benefits that straight married couples receive. Like I said, it's all good. Just not enough.

And now I see that Rufus Wainwright is getting married and this is what he's asking his guests to do:

According to an insider, instead of traditional wedding gifts, Wainwright and his beau have asked for money in lieu of physical presents in order to pay off the 25-foot Airstream, a sleek aluminum travel trailer the couple has recently ordered but has not yet had delivered.

At that length, a new Airstream can run anywhere from $55,000 to well over $75,000, depending on how much customization is required.

It's their wedding and they are free to do whatever they want to do. But for all those out there who aren't familiar with same sex marriages and same sex couples, it is NOT typical for us to ask our wedding guests to bring checks instead of gifts so we can pay off our trailers! In fact, most of the commitment ceremonies Tony and I have attended were small, tasteful, and the couples specifically stated they didn't want gifts. My two lesbian friends who have been married in several states where gay marriage is legal didn't even have huge ceremonies. They did it quietly, with good taste, and didn't hock their friends for gifts. I'm pointing this out because I never hear about the real same sex couples that I know in real life. I only hear about the freak shows where same sex couples who are celebrities do things that I would imagine make the rest of America wonder what same sex marriage is all about in the first place.

Trust me, if Tony and I are ever allowed to get legally married, we aren't going to tell our guests what to bring...if there is a huge wedding. I doubt there will be because we've already been together for twenty years. It would be a quiet celebration with family and friends, and most likely we'd state clearly we don't want gifts.

And this is something you won't see us do either:

Guests attending the nuptials better hope for warm weather and calm seas: The couple is encouraging guests to join them in getting wet afterward.

Those attending the wedding who don’t plan on vacationing in Montauk for the week will be “bused in from Manhattan” and have been told it’s “very casual” and that “they can wear whatever they want.”

If Tony and I are ever allowed to marry, I can guarantee we won't be encouraging our guests to jump in the water and we won't be busing people in from anywhere. Again, I'm not knocking Wainwright or his partner for encouraging people to jump in the water at their wedding or for asking their guests to bring cash instead of gifts to pay off their trailer. It's a free country. I'm just stating that not all same sex couples would do things like this. In fact, most...if not all...of the same sex couples I know wouldn't do anything even remotely like this.

The reason I'm posting about this is because no one ever does. It's become evident to me that publications like Time Magazine and most newspapers pay people six figures to promote stupidity. Whenever a same sex marriage is announced that's considered "high profile," it's usually something the most people cannot relate to. I'm hoping this harmless little post might balance things out with regard to the images that most of America has about same sex couples on a broader scale.

Here's a link to the source where you can read more. Below is a comment left by someone that seems to be the way most people think.

What a narcissistic, selfish couple these men are. Mr. Wainwright is a successful singer/song writer who has made millions, I have no idea what his fiancé does. They are not young kids just starting out with no money, yet they ask their guests for money to pay off their latest toy, an Airstream Mobile trailer, the hubris and greed of this couple is beyond belief!! Why don't they ask their guests that in lieu of gifts to the couple, they can make donations to certain charities? I guess with all of his millions he has made and inherited, he still has the need to put himself above those less fortunate in need than his privileged self. Shame on you Rufus, you won't see me or many others buying your albums or songs.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Older Article About Why Straight People Don't Read Gay Books

Sometimes I find it interesting to go back a few years and read articles and blog posts to see how things have changed in publishing. In this case, I think a great deal has changed.

The article to which I'm linking dates back to May, 2007. I've always thought of the year 2007 as being a pivotal point in publishing in general. Little things began to happen that triggered a string of events that would change publishing forever. And we didn't know it at the time.

I remember well because I was there. In 2007 established publishing professionals laughed at e-publishing, and self-publishing was still considered vanity publishing and no one would even admit to doing it. In 2007 there were blogs written by literary agents and editors for large publishing houses that were considered the best places to get information about publishing, if not the only places. That's the year anonymous blogger Miss Snark reached her peak and then vanished into cyberspace and left her dedicated readership shocked and saddened. That's also the same year a publishing professional told me e-books would never be more than a half a per cent of the book market. I even remember that iUniverse was the place to self-publish if that's what you wanted to do and take the chance of being laughed at. And the only means of hope for an author was the never ending query process...a flawed process in my opinion where some agents in 2007 still refused to entertain digital queries and insisted on snail mail queries.

And now a handful of literary agent blogs remain, Miss Snark is a distant memory, and self-published books are making some authors very rich...some are also making a decent living on self-published books. I know people are still querying agents, but not as much as they used to. But more than that, literary agents are starting their own digital services, the very thing many (not all) scorned five years earlier.

So some things have changed. In fact, with more and more people calling for less anonymity, I think if anonymous Miss Snark were still around she/he would have been outed and exposed. I think that's because the Internet is becoming more professional and people are taking it seriously now more than ever. Amateur anonymity like Miss Snark's can be entertaining and enjoyable (it was very entertaining at the time), but a lot of people who are tired of sockpuppets and Internet fakes are not willing to put up with the same things they did five years ago. And the goal seems to be make it more professional. I've been wanting to do youtube readings for my books and putting it off because I know it's going to cost me to hire a professional. I won't do it with an iPhone and a dream. I want it to be professionally done. Something like this might not help sell books, but it will be on the Internet forever and I don't want to come off looking like Lucy and Ethel selling Aunt Martha's homemade salad dressing in the 1950's. (I plan to write a post about this soon.) There's nothing wrong with amateur videos. Some are very clever. I just don't want one of me turning up in the future where I'm wearing bad clothes and sitting slumped over.

When I found this article, "Why Don't Straight People Read Gay Books?" I had to smile while I read it. This is the way many people thought five years ago:

As a gay man, I actually read very little "gay literature". There isn't that much gay lit published these days, especially since the demise of Gay Men's Press, and anyway I consider myself a citizen of the world, not a member of some exclusive fragment of society called the gay community.

It's a very good article. The author goes on to explain why he writes gay fiction and how his gay experiences motivate and inspire him. Then he talks about how frustrating it is when his books are received this way:

I first started to realise that heterosexuals were less interested, less open to, or perhaps even embarrassed by my world when a close friend declined to read my book. "Well," he said simply, "I'm not gay."

In this respect I think a lot has changed since 2007. Some things are still the same, I can back that up through my own personal experiences in publishing. Large publishers, most literary agents, and most mainstream editors are still not interested in LGBT material. But e-publishers and indie authors who have created sub-genres that include m/m romance and gay fiction have been slowly gaining a new readership with straight people since 2007. And the sales prove that those who don't think straight people are interested in reading gay books are wrong. There is a huge market for straight women and gay fiction. I'm not sure about straight men. But from what I hear they don't read much anyway, and those who do focus more on non-fiction. On the other hand, I actually know a few straight men writing gay fiction who are doing very well.

The author of the article talked about how he was treated by the press back then:

Emails and letters aren't answered. Review copies go missing or appear directly for sale on Amazon marketplace. Replacement review copies again go missing. Finally, when the newspapers do acknowledge receipt of the book and maybe even concede that it's "on the potential review shelf" that's the end of the story.

With regard to the mainstream media, I think this is still true. But in the last five years web sites that review and discuss gay fiction have popped up all over the place. There are so many I can't list them here. Some of these web sites are owned by straight women who read gay fiction. And authors who write gay fiction have found a fan base they never knew existed. I can back that up, too. When I was told that straight women were reading gay romance and gay erotica back in 2007 I was stunned and didn't really believe it at first. It wasn't long after that when I started to see it was true when straight women started e-mailing me about my fiction.

At the end of the article the author asks a few very interesting questions about why straight people don't read gay fiction:

Now there must be an explanation of this, and that explanation interests me. Are my books so popular that people steal them for home? Are straight book reviewers embarrassed to admit that they enjoyed a book containing gay characters? I really don't know.

I could be wrong, but my take on all this is that publishing has evolved in a way that authors and smaller presses are now able to reach more people with digital books and the Internet. The gatekeepers who would never have entertained gay authors or gay books because they didn't think they could sell them are not determining what the public reads anymore. The print publications that used to review books are disappearing one by one because no one is reading print media anymore. My last copy of Time Magazine felt like it was ten pages thick. It felt more like a newsletter than a magazine. I look at books recommended in magazines now and think,"ick." And as publishing continues to evolve into a more reader oriented industry where a handful of select gatekeepers don't call all the shots anymore, who knows what might happen.

In any event, please take the time to check out the link I've provided and read the article in full. I know what the author is saying is true because I was there and I felt the same way he did at the time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Are Gay Male Authors Afraid to Comment/Review Books by Women Writing Gay Fiction?

I saw a comment on social media this past week that suggested gay male authors are afraid to comment on or review gay fiction that is written by female authors. So I thought about it for a while and decided to post something about it.

I can only speak for myself. I am a gay male author writing gay fiction and I don't like being grouped into anything because as an author I work alone. It's the same reason why I don't have beta readers. I make the choices, for better or worse. No one influences me in any way. It will never happen.

First (note: not firstly...this is not up for debate either), my reading tastes are not limited to gay fiction. If you check out the books I've reviewed on goodreads (which isn't even up to date) you'll see that I read a great deal, and it can be anything from Rita Mae Brown to a spiritual books by Shirley MacClaine. I re-read authors like Toni Morrison often. I have read every single book Anne Tyler has written three times at least because of her tight writing style. I may be many things, but amateur isn't one of them.

Second, I try to buy and read books I know I'm going to like. I vet before I purchase. I read reviews, I read author blogs, and I read blurbs. I do judge books by their covers sometimes. I know I'm not going to like a book with a woman in the long flowing red dress on the cover, so I don't buy it. It's that simple for me sometimes.

Third, on the occasion I do read gay fiction (or m/m romance) I review the book according to how I feel about it. Most of the time the gay fiction I've read written by women is good and I can leave a positive review or rating (I don't always have time to leave in-depth reviews).

But I don't review a book differently because a man wrote it or a woman wrote it. I don't care what sex the author is. (I've written more than a few hetero novels with pen names and I'm gay.) You can check out my reviews on goodreads for this as well. I have left both good and bad reviews. The reason why I don't leave more bad reviews is simple. Like I said above, I try to read what I know I'm going to like. And when I do leave a bad review, which I once did for a book written by a woman who writes gay fiction, it was because of the writing, not the sex of the author. In this case the writing was so poor I gave examples about why I left that bad review.

I actually didn't like leaving that bad review. But it was honest and I wasn't AFRAID to do it...with my own name. The key word here is afraid.

So this gay male author isn't afraid to review or comment on books written by women who write gay fiction. I'm not afraid to review or comment about gay fiction written by gay men either. I've had my fair share of both good and bad reviews and I've never complained about them. And when I'm leaving a review as a reader I don't expect anyone else to complain about my reviews. And, I'm never afraid to do it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brett Ellis Easton Changes His Mind About Matt Bomer?

Well, not exactly. You'll see what I mean in a moment.

Okay. I've been following the saga of Brett Ellis Easton on twitter with regard to openly gay actor Matt Bomer playing the lead role in "Fifty Shades of Grey."

You can read what I posted here.

In an entertaining twist, BEE tweeted this on August 10th.

"You know what? I changed my mind: I now think a gay actor HAS GOT to play Christian Grey. It's IMPERATIVE that someone gay plays him. Let's destroy the bullsh*t stereotypes of Hollywood studio moviemaking and cast a gay actor as Christian Grey in '50 Shades of Grey.' A win. But I still don't think Matt Bomer should play the role."

Matt Bomer has yet to respond.

Thousands of fans have bombarded his facebook page offering their support to Bomer.

For me, Brett Ellis Easton saved his ass with that last tweet. I think I get what he's saying now. I didn't say I agree with it. But I get it. To be honest, I picture someone more along the lines of Hugh Jackman playing Christain.

Frankly, I'm curious to hear Bomer's thoughts on this. But I wouldn't blame him if he remained blank forever on the topic. That's what I would do. In spite of everything, maybe it's time to put an end to the labels altogether.

"That Cowboy in the Window," And Letter From a Transgender

My newest release, "That Cowboy in the Window," was inspired by a note I received from a reader who happens to be a transgender. I don't talk about these things often because I know how important discretion is to my readers and I want them to know they can trust me. And I do have permission to reprint part of the note I received from this reader. I'm stating that up front because if I didn't have permission I wouldn't be printing it here.

Hi Ryan,

I've been passing as a transgender in secret all of my life. I never had enough money to have any surgery or get any counseling but I've always been okay with myself and never had to work hard to pass. As I write this I'm finishing your book American Star II and I wanted to thank you for writing about a transgender character the way you did. It has always been my goal to live my life full time as a woman instead of as a man so I won't have to sneak around anymore. That's not as easy as it sounds and I'm still working on it. Reading books like this gives me hope that I can do it in time.

The note goes on to explain more about her interests in having surgery and how she plans to live her life full time as a woman. She's in her early thirties and passes as a woman at night. She's basically living two lives and she's getting tired of it. When I opened that e-mail it surprised me because I wasn't trying to make any strong political or social statements with American Star II I always saw that book more as a satire than something serious. And yet ASII inspired someone enough to write me about it.

And this reader's note inspired me to write about a transgender character caught between two lives. In my next release with, "That Cowboy in the Window," I get into the "T" part of LGBT in ways I don't do often. It's not a love story between two people and I'd like to thank for giving me the chance to write stories like this that aren't ordinary. It's a love story about someone learning to love herself with all her flaws and quirks. It's about having the courage to stand up and be who you are. And it's about taking the time to listen to that little voice deep down inside you while you're in the middle of your own life story.

I get notes like this all the time from people. I can't say these people are part of the LGBT community because in many cases they are still on the outside looking in, so to speak. But I value these e-mails and I never take them for granted. I've never been a fan of beta readers, and the only people I trust enough to read my work before it gets published are my editors. I can't even imagine a beta reading inspiring me with comments or opinions about my work. But I am a huge fan of readers who contact me with their own personal stories. That's the only inspiration I'll ever need.

Here's the blurb for "That Cowboy in the Window." And here's a link for ARe. You can get it at all retail web sites where e-books are sold, including the publisher's web site,

A quirky queer ritual that leads to an amazing self-discovery.

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Address an Invitation to a Gay Couple Who Have Been Together 20 Years

How to address an invitation to a gay couple who have been together for twenty years sounds simple at first.

However, I discovered this afternoon on my way back from the mailbox it's a lot harder than I thought it was.

Whenever someone in Tony's family sends us an invitation it's always addressed this way:

Mr. Tony Smith and Mr. Ryan Field (Tony doesn't want his last name online, so Smith is not his real name.)

That's the right way to do it. No problems there. And that's why I love Tony's family so much. We aren't actually a Mr. and Mr. because gay marriage is not federally recognized. So they acknowledge us both by name and keep it simple.

Most of the people in my family get it right most of the time. But every now and then there's one who just doesn't get it.

I received a wedding invitation today and it was addressed this way:

Mr. Ryan Field and Guest

I stared at it and thought, "and fucking GUEST?" This is someone who has met us and been to our home, not a DISTANT relative. This is someone well over thirty who should know better and either didn't bother to find out how to do it or didn't give a damn. And either way, that's an insult.

Not to mention the fact that I'm not sure whether this family member is inviting Tony and I as a couple, or just me and whoever the hell I want to a wedding...something we aren't legally allowed to do.

Tony and I really don't think about the political issues with things like this. It's a wedding and we're thrilled to be invited, especially for a family member. But at least have the decency not to refer to my partner of 20 years as my guest.

Mr. Ryan Field and Mr. Tony Smith would have worked. I wouldn't feel the need to purposely RSVP three weeks late now.

And that's how you address an invitation to a gay couple who have been together for 20 years.

Publishing Legend Julia Child Would Have Been 100

When I think of Julia Child, I don't think about the cooking as much as I do about the writing and the publishing angle. She started writing her first cookbook later in life and dealt with her share of rejection. It wasn't until one smart editor at Knopf, Judith Jones, decided to take a chance on her that got her career in the art of cooking moving.

I wrote about Julia Child's local ties to my area, Bucks County, PA. Her brother-in-law, Charlie, twin to her husband, Paul, lived in Lumberville, PA, which is less than five miles from New Hope.

One of the things that always amazed me about Julia Child with regard to publishing was the way she worked. From what I've read it was non-stop, and in those days there were no computers and everything was done in hard copy. When I started getting published in the 90's publishing was still in a transitional stage and I submitted all my manuscripts in hard copy so I know what that was like. We used to write and then re-write until each hard copy page was perfect. There was no room for mistakes and you had to type just as well as you wrote...or hire a typist to do it for you. I often wonder how many people would be writing now if this were still the case. I could slip right back into my old habits without a problem. But I doubt a large number of those who never worked that way would be able to.

Here's a web site with twelve interesting facts about Julia Child.

Knopf has organized a celebration for her 100th birthday, which you can read about here.

I like this article because it gets into the publishing aspects of her life.

And, aside from all her accomplishments in publishing, she really did change the way people cook and eat. And at a time when fast food was becoming popular. When I speak to friends who are in the food industry they claim she paved the way for a lot of the things we now see in pop culture with regard to food. She was the original foodie.

I had a glimpse of that in 2004 when reporting an article about how elderly people find living arrangements to fit their changing physical needs. A longtime admirer of Child, I had grown up watching her popular television series, “The French Chef.” And though I never thoroughly mastered her technique for trussing a chicken or making a pastry dough, I still chuckle at her reassuring words about culinary mishaps: “Remember, you’re alone in the kitchen.”

And her marriage to Paul Child is one of the great love affairs of all time. They met later in life and the marriage lasted 48 years. Paul was a huge influence in the background throughout Julia's long career in cooking, in publishing, and in television. There are many good books out there that get into far more detail than I could ever get into in a blog post. I'm not a huge fan of the book and movie "Julie and Julia," partly because Julia didn't endorse it and partly because it's more about Julie Powell than it is about Julia Child and I don't care about Julie Powell. I didn't hate it, but didn't love it either. But even that book is a great example of the influence Julia Child had on so many people during her lifetime...even though Julia Child dismissed Julie Powell in public...which we rarely hear about.

Eventually, Powell's blog is featured in a story published in The New York Times, after which her project begins to receive the attention of journalists, literary agents, publishers, and a dismissive response from Child herself.

I've read more than a few biographies about Julia Child and she was a strong supporter of public television and she didn't believe in commercial endorsement. In other words, she could have made a lot more money than she did in her lifetime if she'd cashed in like so many others. Though she never said why she dismissed Powell, I often wonder if it had something to do with her own strong standards and ethics.

In any event, Julia Child was a publishing legend and a pop culture icon who paved the way for others like her. Unfortunately, there hasn't been anyone just like her and I wonder if there ever will be.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips on How to Publish on Amazon with KDP...

When you publish on Amazon through KDP, getting the formatting down can be tricky. So I asked Tony to give me a few notes about his experiences while he was publishing my last three books.

I'm publishing them here just in case they might help someone who is experiencing any problems. And please take into consideration the information below is not something that is supported by Amazon. It's just a basic overview that comes from personal experience through trial and error. And we make no claims that this is the only way to do it.

And, for those who think indie publishing is easy, or for those who frown on indie publishing and feel superior to it, this is just the tip of how complicated it can be. The information below only comes after I've written the book, after I've edited the book six thousand times, after I've paid a copyeditor and cover artist, and after I've pulled most of my hair out. With the last book I did, Chase of a Dream, it was twice the work because I pubbed two versions at the same time, abridged and unabridged.

He doesn't get into anything about putting the book on, but said that was one of the less difficult places to do it. In fact, he praised ARe for the way things are set up there.

In my dealings with Amazon, it took a long time for me to get the "format" exactly correct to look perfect for a Kindle Reader. Although Amazon will accept a Microsoft .doc to upload, I found this to be the worse type of file format.

Anyone who will be publishing through Amazon should really read the help sections/guides that Amazon has to help guide you through this process, a long read but worth it.

But the short of it is, use a HTM/HTML as the format to upload to Amazon, this is the best type and easiest way for a conversion to a .MOBI. I also found many errors using a .DOCX file format to convert to HTML, and after many frustrating days of researching, I found that you have to first save your document as .DOCX, then save that .DOCX file and save as a ,DOC file. Once u saved as a .DOC, review the formatting and make sure all chapter headers, section breaks, and page breaks are correct, if not make the changes. Once satisfied with the .DOC, then save as a HTM/HTML document. Again, a review must be done after saving as an HTM, if everything looks good, use that to upload to AMAZON. After uploading the HTM file to Amazon, there is a very important key, especially if you uploaded prior versions of the book, you have to find the folder on your C:\ drive named "My Kindle Content", and delete the files of the book you uploaded prior. Obliviously this step can be skipped if this is your first upload. So, once that is taken care of, you now can review the newly uploaded book from Amazon's Kindle reviewer to ensure formatting is correct, 9 times out of 10 it will be with an HTM/HTML file upload.

There are so many more things to consider regarding the proper formatting, one has to keep in mind the elements that impact a proper conversion; table of contents, font colors other than black, headers/footers, section break vs page breaks, hyperlinks, font size (that is a biggy) and so on, these will have a direct impact on the conversion.

Now Smashwords, I find that site to be a real PIA. They take a file and convert it up to 6 different formats (if you want all of them available for purchase). I discovered that Smashword uses the most extreme formatting constraints for all its conversions, I believe it is based on PALM READER, that is in order for your document to be converted to a palm device; this is used as the basis or parameters for the other file formats. If you can get past all their reviews without pulling your hair out, then you are doing well.

If it was a .DOC file, again, formatting to MOBI will be good, not the best, and maybe not so good on EPUB. I would also, as I mentioned above, before reviewing a "newly" uploaded MOBI (either Amazon/Smashwords), if there are prior uploads, to delete them from your Kindle content before reviewing a new upload.