Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SCOTUS Gay Marriage Day 2; Free Excerpt; Online Newspapers Charge for Content

In the 1990's the US Government defined marriage as between one man and one woman and called it Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. This came as a result of many things I won't get into now. But today, many years later, SCOTUS is hearing arguments against DOMA, and they will rule in June.

One of the reasons this is so important to gay couples is this:

The DOMA challenge was brought by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old woman from New York who married Thea Clara Spyer in 2007. After Spyer's death in 2009, Windsor was denied an exemption of federal estate taxes.

What this means is simple on the surface, and yet it's fundamental to gay couples who have been together for a length of time, have owned property together, and have lived their lives as responsibly as any other straight married couple.

Because gay couples are not allowed to marry legally on a federal level, when one partner passes away the surviving partner is left with huge inheritance taxes. It hurts the most with real estate, which is usually the biggest investment most people have these days. When straight couples lose their husbands or wives, they are not responsible for these exorbitant inheritance taxes.

I have seen this many times. Gay couples work their entire lives and then one passes and the other is wiped out financially.

You can read more here.

Online Newspapers Charge for Content

This past weekend The San Francisco Chronicle announced that it would begin charging readers for online content. Evidently, they do this sort of thing by putting up what's called a "Paywall."

In short, you now have to subscribe to read the good stuff:

"Subscribers to the new website will find the newspaper's unrivaled content with brilliant photos, an uncluttered format and the familiar design of the Chronicle," wrote Chronicle President Marc Adkins in an article explaining the change. "Premium stories and columns will update and change with the news throughout the day. Subscribers also will have full access to the Chronicle's most enduring legacy--its columnists."

I've also heard the SFC is not the only online newspaper who will be doing this. Others have done it before, and a lot of small local papers will follow, too.

I'm curious to see how this works out. Frankly, I wouldn't pay for a subscription to any online newspaper at this point. And being that they seem to need to charge subscriptions now, it begs the question about whether or not online advertising actually works. In other words, large social media corporations like facebook don't charge users anything, and they are supposedly based on advertising. So if the advertising isn't working online for newspapers, is it working online for social media like facebook? Just a thought.

I think that if this happens with all online newspapers, we'll see a shift in things as we've always known them...or at least since the beginning of the Internet. When people have to start paying for what they've always had for free, they're going to become highly selective in what they read, and where they read it.

Free Excerpt from Bad Boy Billionaire Series: The Texas Oil Tycoon

This is an excerpt from the next book in the BBB series, and the title is still tentative. But I like posting these things for readers, and I also like seeing how it looks in blog form. I often find out whether or not something works by doing this. And it's also one of the few free things I think we're going to be seeing on the Internet in years to come. It's also set in Texas, and it's a western themed erotic romance this time.

I normally don't like to mention these things, and I never actually mention them in my books...I try to show them without being too obvious. But this time, since I've been reading a lot about how minorities are not often in romances, I thought I would mention that the main character's adopted daughter, Kendra, is of African American descent. Once again, this is never mentioned in the book because I don't like to make a huge focus on these things. I believe in complete integration, not segregation.

After Bailey showered and washed the smell of Nino off his body, he changed into jeans, cowboy boots, and a blue and gray checked shirt he’d had since high school. On his way down the back staircase that would lead him to the kitchen, he grabbed his old rust suede cowboy hat and put it on in the hall. Since he’d stripped out of the clothes he’d been wearing on the plane, he’d been trying not to notice all the familiar things around the house that reminded him of Christopher. And that wasn’t simple, because everything in that house had something to do with him. Christopher had always been so focused on the little details, like the simple white French quilt on their bed and the Regency chairs on either side of the fireplace in the bedroom that he’d had upholstered in the exact same white quilted fabric. Or the way he’d been so particular about all the draperies in the house being lined in white so it wouldn’t look offensive from the outside looking in. Even the second floor hall in that wing of the house had Christopher’s imprint. He’d chosen four different shades of pale taupe for the walls, rugs, paintings, and drapes that reminded Bailey so much of him he felt a pain in his stomach and walked even faster, trying hard to remember the house before he’d known Christopher.

            He found Kendra in the kitchen with one of her friends. He had to think fast to remember the kid’s first name was Brian. Kendra and Brian had gone to a private school in Dallas before she’d entered The George School. Brian was a year older than Kendra and he went to Lawrenceville, which wasn’t far from The George School. Brian also lived about three miles away the ranch in one of those massive new mansions that looked as if it had sprung up from the prairie the same way a wart grows on the end of a nose. Brian’s dad had come into a great deal of money with computer stocks in the 1990’s, and he’d been smart enough to get out before the market crashed. Although Kendra and Brian had been best friends since grade school and saw each other often on the east coast, Bailey hadn’t actually seen the kid in over a year and a half. And when Bailey reached out to shake his hand, he couldn’t get over how much he’d grown up since he’d last seen him.

            “You look so different,” Bailey said, noticing Brian had grown at least four more inches and his body had filled out. His unruly dark brown hair was now cut short, with a cute little wave turned up above his forehead. The low-rise jeans that hugged his slim hips looked a size too small and the tight black T-shirt he wore left an inch of his flat abdomen showing. He’d transformed from boy to man since the last time Bailey had seen him. And from the way it looked, things were only going to get better in the future.

            Brian shook Baily’s hand a moment longer than he should have and smiled. “You still look just as hot as you did when I was a little kid, Bailey.” He rubbed Bailey’s sleeve and said, “I love guys in checks and plaid.”

            Kendra’s head went up. She elbowed Brain in the ribs and said, “Hey, that’s my dad you’re flirting with, dude.”

            Bailey smiled and looked down at the floor. They’d always known Brian was gay; he’d never kept it hidden like most kids do.

            Brian shrugged and said, “What did I do?” He reached out and rubbed Bailey’s sleeve again. “He doesn’t mind if I call him Bailey now. I just turned eighteen and I’m going college in the fall.” He’d been accepted in Princeton, which was where Kendra wanted to go after she graduated. He looked deeper into Bailey’s eyes and said, “And he is hot.”

            Bailey’s face felt warm. He didn’t know how to react. The last thing he’d expected that day was to have one of Kendra’s young friends hit on him. And in such an obvious way, too. The only thing left was for Brian to start catcalling.

            Kendra rolled her eyes and grabbed Brian by the arm. As she led him toward the back door, he sent Bailey another smile and said, “Have a good ride, Bailey. I hope I see more of you this summer. Maybe we can go riding when you have the time.”

            Bailey waved and smiled, without encouraging the horny eighteen year old with a reply. He heard Kendra scolding Brian through the kitchen window and he waited until they pulled out of the back driveway to go outside. There was no way on earth Bailey would ever pursue anything with one of Kendra’s friends, even if he was over eighteen years old and looked like a dark-haired version of Brad Pitt in his youth. Though Kendra probably hadn’t noticed anything more than just flirting…straight people never notice…Bailey had picked up on something more than significant in those few brief moments. Not only did his instincts as a gay man kick in when Brian had flirted with him, Bailey could also tell Brian was the aggressive type who preferred to top instead of bottom. It was the way Brian had looked at him, and the way he’d grabbed his hand with such force. And Bailey was certain Brian knew that he was all bottom, too. That sort of thing didn’t always happen, but when it did the impact would hit Bailey so hard his heart would begin to race.

            When he knew they were gone, he glanced down at the old dog and asked, “Do you want to go out before I leave. I have no idea when Harvey will be back.”

            The dog had been resting on a gray doggie cushion next to the eight burner stainless steel stove Christopher had taken months to choose during the kitchen renovation. The dog took one look at Bailey, snarled, showed what teeth he had left, and turned his head in the opposite direction, dismissing Bailey without a backward glance.

            “Well fuck you, too,” Bailey said. Then he turned his back on the dog and went outside.

            On his way to the barn, Bailey stopped and glanced at the property. He noticed a few shrubs needed pruning, and a section of fence needed white-washing. If Christopher had been around, none of these things would have been neglected. Where he’d found the time to do all he’d done, between his job at the counseling center and all the volunteer work, Bailey would never know. Bailey made a mental note to have a talk with Harvey about keeping everything as perfect as possible. If he’d been completely honest with himself, Bailey would have realized he didn’t really care all that much about fences of shrubs. He cared more about running the company and the next board meeting. But he felt guilty when he saw things looking unkempt because he knew how much it would have bothered Christopher. Bailey knew he’d never be normal again, but the least he could do was try to keep things normal on the ranch…the way Christopher would have liked it.

            When he reached the barn, he found a tall young man carrying two bags of grain. Bailey was about five eleven, and this guy had to be over six feet three inches tall. He wore mud-stained jeans, brown cowboy boots with worn heels and scuffed toes, and no shirt at all. It was only about eighty degrees and not hot enough yet to be uncomfortable. But the guy must have been moving and lifting bags of grain for a while because his bare torso glistened with perspiration and Bailey could see beads of sweat trickling down the sides of his face from under his cowboy hat.

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