Friday, January 30, 2009

A Free Sample from PRETTY MAN...


There's already sell copy and a sample from the book out there. But I thought I'd add another from a section that was particularly difficult to write. The Hillary character had to be just right. I kept picturing Holly Golightly, but with a certain type of bold independence that comes from years of disappointment.

Hillary had just placed the “open” sandwich board sign on the sidewalk. Her cotton dress was plain white, with a black belt and a full skirt that fell loosely to her knees. Her shoes were flat, black ballerina slippers. When she looked up from the sidewalk and saw Josh walking toward the store, she flipped a long shock of straight brown hair off her chest and smiled…her face was pinched and her lips were pressed tightly together…although she placed her hands on her hips and started tapping her right foot.
“Hey gorgeous!” he said, shouting across the sidewalk like an old married man who was late for dinner. Then he lifted the box of cupcakes as a peace offering.

She stared at the box and said, “You know I don’t eat cake.” She wore a hint of lip gloss and a thick line of mascara that extended across her upper eye lid. There were wide, dramatic chunks of blond in her long, brown hair.

Josh turned to Roland and said, “Hillary believes that cake is behind all the problems in the world. She never touches the stuff.” While he joked, Hillary pressed her index finger to her lips and stared up and down at his new clothes.

“Ah well, “Roland said. But what he really thought was, the girl could use a cupcake or two, maybe even a piece of her own chocolate. Her arms and legs were toothpicks; her body sideways was an ironing board.

Wonderland...Happy Launch...


I don't usually plug other books on this blog. But this one looked too good to pass. I've already bought one myself, and I'm looking forward to reading it over the weekend.

Welcome to Wonderland, a quiet, picturesque village located on the Pacific Coast, just south of San Francisco. Prodigal son Rich North and his partner, Marc Anderson, have just relocated to Wonderland after leaving behind their lives-and a secret scandal-back in New York City. They buy a house on exclusive Eldon Court, where five Victorian homes stand. Three other gay couples lives in the other houses, while Number Two Eldon Court remains mysteriously empty. There they meet Edgar and Jack, the longest-tenured residents of Eldon Court; Aaron and Juan, a couple with their own relationship issues; and Sawyer and Dane, a young, gorgeous couple with too much money and time of their hands.

Something is afoot on Eldon Court. A peeping Tom, a possible murder attempt, a case of arson. The clues lead back to Bayside Hotel and the mysterious new owner, Danvers Converse. He is a man with perverse appetites and unstoppable ambition. He will resort to blackmail-or worse-to gain possession of Eldon Court. But why, and at what cost? The only thing the neighbors have is their solidarity. But with a spy in their midst, Eldon Court is being threatened from all sides, and Rich and Marc realize that, as they newcomers to the block, they must stop what's happening. Until newer neighbors move into Number Two-and all hell breaks loose on Eldon Court.

Passionate, sexy, steamy, Adam's Carpenter's Wonderland delves into the lives of men and the men they love, into a community put at risk by progress, and of the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and love. A modern day drama, complete with victims, enemies, conspiracies, and loads of sex, Wonderland is a rare piece-conceived by one writer, written by three different authors-it is fiction at its most compelling.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sex and John Updike

There's a great post here about John Updike and other contemporary fiction writers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sell Copy for Bert and Betty...

Here's a sneak peak at the sell copy (or back cover copy) that's going to be released with the short story, BERT AND BETTY. The weird thing about this is that I can write two to three thousand words a day without a problem. But writing this took almost two hours.

Bert and Betty, happily married and looking to add some romantic spice to their lives, conceive a harmless little game of passion – a bold and exciting improvisation that requires an airplane, some acting talent and a great deal of imagination. And Betty is always able to conjure up something creative.

But there are rules to the game that must be followed: they have to pretend they are total strangers the minute they enter the airport, they have to invent completely different lives, and they both have to be open and willing to the element of danger their little game invokes. And on this particular flight to Nebraska, the danger involves two good looking young men in the next aisle who want to play the game, too.

Betty is always willing to try anything naughty, but she’s not so sure about Bert. He tends to be more conservative about some things and he’s not fond of surprises. So she decides to capture the moment, crossing the line and plunging into an erotic adventure she never expected, without bothering to tell him. But it turns out that she is actually the one who is left with her mouth hanging open in the end.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RIP...John Updike

When I first read Updike in college, I was hooked. I loved the Rabbit books and I loved everything else he wrote. I even liked the blurbs he wrote for other writers, and if I saw one on a back cover, I always bought the book.

And I was never disappointed.

RIP

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Best Ones Always Reply...

I've been receiving so many wonderful submissions for the "Lasting Love" anthology I thought I'd post something about replies from editors. First, we all know there are no hard and fast rules and that every editor has his or her own style and opinion. But I can tell you from experience, the best always reply. And they do it fast, too.

When I first started submitting work to editors, everything was done through snail mail, so things were a little different than they are today. Along with the submission, I'd write up a brief cover letter with a three or four sentence plot description, and then I'd enclose a SASE so the editor could let me know the submission had arrived in tact. If I wanted confirmation, it was my job (and at my expense) to include the SASE. No problem; I never minded doing this. But the big problem then was that you never knew whether or not a story was actually accepted. It took months to hear a reply if the editor wanted it, and if they didn't want it they rarely ever bothered to tell you. So I'd usually give each submitted story a six month time frame, and if I hadn't heard anything by then I'd resubmit to someone else. Building good relationships over time with editors was extremely important to me. They usually responded one way or the other if they knew you...even with snail mail...because they wanted you to continue submitting to them in the future.

Then the world changed and we entered the electronic age. The transition didn't happen overnight, but I think it's safe to say that very few things nowadays are submitted through snail mail. (In 2001, I was actually told by an editor at a fairly large publishing house that either I started submitting electronically, or I'd be wasting my time.) It was a good thing, too. Editors and writers were now communicating with little effort. We didn't become pen pals; the e-mails were short and to the point. But it was finally nice to hear, a few days after submitting something, that short note that said: "Got it. I'll get back to you one way or the other."

Now, since we started submitting and communicating electronically, I've found that different editors have different approaches. Some will reply that they've received the submission without being asked to do so, others ask you to mention that you'd like a confirmation, and some won't reply one way or the other. (I have a habit of always stating, "If you could let me know that you've received this, I'd appreciate it.") But once again, and I can say this from experience, the best editors will always reply. And for me this has never been about etiquette; for me it's about business. When I write something and submit it to one editor, I do not submit to anyone else until I hear from that editor. But I also know that if the piece is not accepted for publication with the first editor, I'm going to re-submit it to someone else as quickly as I get the rejection. Writing is a business, and I've learned there's little time to sit and worry about rejection. And in all the years I've been writing, I can say with confidence that when something has been rejected by one editor, I've always found another one who is ready to buy it.

But when you don't hear from the editor, it ties up the submission and it can get confusing. Because if I don't hear anything in six months (or whatever the deadline date was for submission), that piece is out to another editor before my computer can say "file's done." I can't even list the amount of times I've submitted something to editor #one, and then after I've submitted it to editor #two and sold it, editor #one wants it. Sometimes it's a matter of days (you hear nothing for six months, and in two days time everyone wants it), and all editor #one had to do was keep me updated and I'd never have re-submitted it to anyone else. I hate to turn them down, especially if they were the first choice. But life is about moving on and moving forward and I learned a long time ago that if you don't think this way as a writer you're usually sorry later.

Of course, even with e-mail now, I've also had the experience of never hearing anything at all from the editor. I'll submit something and they never reply one way or the other. That's fine, too, but I tend to remember this and shy away from working with this editor again in the future. I don't think it's that difficult nowadays to send a simple reply and keep the writer updated; I do this myself when I'm editing an anthology, because I know how it feels to be kept waiting. It takes one minute from my life to let the writer know that I've received the submission and that I'll be in touch one way or the other. And this is something that I've learned from working with some really excellent editors over the years; the best. I've also learned that when I don't get a reply from an editor, it's usually because they are either amateurs or they just don't care. But one thing is certain, the best ones always reply that they've received the submission and that they will let the writers know one way or the other.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BERT AND BETTY: The evolution of a short story...

I had a nice surprise yesterday. A short story titled, BERT AND BETTY, came in as a runner up for Ravenous Rendezvous. This was one of those stories I'd had floating around in my head for a long time but didn't have time to actually write. And when I received the call about the short story contest, I decided to take the weekend and finally do it. I'd been working on deadlines since last June and I didn't want the story to suffer because I wasn't focused on the plot. But it was snowing outside, there wasn't much to do that weekend, and the story started to flow in a way that doesn't always happen. I already had a few goals and I felt as though I knew the characters well. I wanted them to be ordinary people taking a routine flight, but I also wanted something extraordinary to happen to them while they were on that flight.

When the first draft was finished, I felt that something was missing. The characters were okay, but they lacked something I couldn't pigeonhole. You know when something just isn't right. So I decided to take a break and think about it for a day or so. Bert and Betty were originally written as two strangers. He's the good looking, innocent divorced guy and she's the well seasoned business woman who always takes what she wants. And when she sees Bert in the airport, she goes after him without thinking twice. There's also another twist to the plot that takes the story to another level, and that part was fine. It's just that Bert and Betty were flat and I wanted them to be true romantics.

I was almost ready to give up on the story and not enter the contest, and then I had one of those waves of inspiration that tend hit while I'm either driving or jogging and there's no paper around to write it down. Why did Bert And Betty have to be strangers? Why couldn't they be a married couple pretending to be strangers? I had to re-write the story several times in order to get the facts right; I didn't have much time because there was a short deadline and I was working on another novel at the same time. But after several re-writes and a lot of black coffee, I finally felt satisfied with the changes. And Bert and Betty went from being single strangers to a happily married couple with their own secret game of romance and intrigue.

The point of this story is that I've learned to wait before submitting when I have a feeling something isn't working. The story might be neat and clean and ready to go, but if there's a nagging feeling that it could be changed in some way I hold off and think about it for a while. I've had things published that editors thought were fine, but I wasn't happy with the final product. And that can haunt you for a long time. So I've learned to wait before submitting, because the solution to the problem usually comes sooner or later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thanks to some really nice people...

This won't be a long post. But I wanted to thank a few of my old blogging friends from back when I did interviews with bestgayblogs.com. It was a great gig and I loved and looked forward to the personal, in-depth interviews I did with bloggers from Maine to Africa. I met writers and actors and everyday people who were blogging for all kinds of reasons. I did interviews with celebrities I'm still in touch with to this day. And I liked getting in touch on a personal level, and I miss that feeling of really getting to know someone. But time moves on, and things change.

Since I started this blog and the ravenousromance blog I've had e-mails and some comments offering so much support I'm amazed. When I was first interviewing the bloggers back then, I never realized what a tight community this really is. And then I got to know some of them well, from reading their blogs and from listening to them speak about their blogging journey in a very up close and personal way. The interviews were always professional and smart; always on time and ready for the deadlines. I enjoyed that job, and when bestgayblogs was sold to the new company I was sorry to see my journey with them end.

And now I'm feeling as if I'm getting in touch with old friends once again. And that's a great feeling.

A special thanks to Ryan from here. He's my all time favorite blogger. I've learned a great deal about blogging from watching him.

I promise my next post will be about books and publishing books and writing books. But every now and then you have to take time out to say thank you. And while I will focus on writing with this blog, I'm also going to add a few different things as well.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Call for Submissions...LASTING LOVE

Lasting Love

Editor: Ryan Field

Publisher RavenousRomance.com

Deadline: February 14, 2009

Romance author Ryan Field is editing an anthology titled, "Lasting Love," for ravenousromance.com that deals with couples who have been together a long time. Looking for short stories, or essays, that range from 2,000 - 5,000 words, about couples who have lasted. This could include married couples, or unmarried couples; just as long as they have been together for more than five years. Ages could range from couples who were high school sweethearts, now in their mid-twenties, to couples in their early fifties. This is mainly hetero, but a few same sex couple stories will be considered. The hotter the better, but the storyline and quality of writing has to be strong, and the characters have to be well developed and believable.
The romantic aspects of this are unlimited, and it's a chance to write about a topic that offers many creative possibilities.

Submission deadline is February 14, 2009. E-mail your completed stories to rjf1462@yahoo.com in MS Word format. Include all contact info on the first page of the ms, including pen name and real name. Payment: A pro rata share of a 38% e-book, 15% audiobook, and 50% subsidiary rights royalty. And an advance of 10.00.

About the Editor: Ryan Field is a 35 year old freelance writer who lives and works in both New Hope, PA and Los Angeles, CA. His work has appeared in many books and anthologies over the past fifteen years, published by Cleis Press, STARbooks Press, Alyson Books, and others including well known print magazines and e-books.

Book Release: PRETTY MAN

When you write a book, sometimes it's simple to envision the cover and sometimes it's hard. With PRETTY MAN, it wasn't that easy...for me. I had images of the main characters; images that would have worked with the plot; images that involved the setting. But when I clicked onto ravenous a few minutes ago to see the cover for the first time, my initial reaction was complete satisfaction. It's simple, erotic and the model looks exactly as I'd envisioned one of the main characters. Even the window he's standing near looks like it popped to life from the book.

I've been in many books over the years where I've been slightly disappointed by book covers (never really completely disappointed; just slightly), and had to wonder what the publisher was thinking when they chose these covers. But with PRETTY MAN, I was blown away instantly. And that doesn't happen often. It's perfect. It captures the erotic elements, and the expression the model's face portrays the romantic elements I worked hard to incorporate.

I'll be posting more about PRETTY MAN, and more about AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN in the future, because there are a few interesting stories about setting and plot and character development I think readers might enjoy. But I wanted to get a post up about the cover tonight to thank the people who were involved in creating it. They did a great job!!

PRETTY MAN Cover...

Yesterday afternoon, while I was working on the "American Star" series that's loosely based on the reality TV show "American Idol", I received an e-mail letting me know that PRETTY MAN is being released on ravenous. I'm told we're shooting for the 17th, and I'm thinking all this bitter cold weather in the east is perfect timing for this book. One of my goals with PRETTY MAN was to incorporate a good old fashioned romance with some steamy, passionate scenes.

I'll write more about PRETTY MAN next week. But I thought it would be interesting to mention that if the title hadn't been PRETTY MAN, it would have been "You have Chocolate on your Tooth." And that's because part of the novel is set on wonderful, old Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, where there's a fictional book shop that sells fine French chocolates. It's not far from the real-life bakery, Magnolia, where I've personally waited in line many times for their out-of-this- world cupcakes. On a warm summer night, it's hard to find another place where there's a street as romantic and endearing as Bleecker Street in New York. People can smell the aroma of rich, creamy chocolates all the way up to the avenue, and this little book shop is where the main characters meet and fall in love. An antique sign hanging above the chocolate counter reads, in French, "“Vous avez de la chocolat sur votre dent.”

I haven't seen the cover for PRETTY MAN yet, but from what I've been told I'm going to like it a lot.

My candle burns at both ends...

In one of my favorite works by Edna St. Vincent Millay, there's a classic quote that reads:

"My candle burns at both endsIt will not last the night;But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -It gives a lovely light."

And this quote is a lot like the journey I've experienced so far with ravenousromance.com. Until recently, I always worked in traditional publishing and journalism. I wrote erotic romances and non-erotic romances for many editors and publishers. I wrote short stories and pieces for magazines and other publications. Over the course of fifteen years, since I graduated from college with a BA in English Lit, I literally lost track of the list of books and publications I was in. It was always about supplying the editor with what he or she needed. But more than that, creating something that the reader would enjoy. I'll get into more of how I did this in future posts (there are stories about where I worked as an assistant editor and how I wrote that might surprise people), because when you're starting out as a writer money isn't something that comes easily.

Right now, in this first post, I'd rather discuss the whirwind of ravenousromance.com. When I was first approached about it, I wasn't sure I could do it. Even though I'd always been in at least ten books a year, I'd always had time to think and prepare and contemplate. Traditional print publishing moves along at a slow, even pace: you submit a short story for a romance anthology in March and it usually takes a year, if not more, for the book to be released. (Magazines work a little faster, but if you submit something for a Christmas issue it's usually done in late summer.) But I was used to things being done the old way; I knew the drill and had my comfort zones.
And then came ravenousromance.com. I'd done a few things for other e-publishers by then. One, because I think e-publishing is the future in all genres. And two, because I was curious about it. And to be honest, even though I'd heard a few negative things from other writers, I soon found that e-publishing in general was a wonderful, professional place to work. Every aspect was positive, from editorial to cover design to final product. So when ravenous approached me with ideas and concepts for a book, I basically jumped into it without thinking twice. I'd heard good things about the owners, and I really believed in what they were trying to accomplish. This all started late last spring, which is typically a dead time in traditional publishing. But that summer was the most exciting and intense I can ever remember as a writer. We started by brainstorming about the book, AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN, then I wrote a detailed outline and we brainstormed again through phone calls and e-mails. I was shocked at how much I liked and appreciated the comments from the editors; we clicked on all levels and when they suggested changes, I liked the suggestions. When I came back with changes of my own, they liked my suggestions. It was almost too good to be true.

In the next post I'll get into the process of writing AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN. It wasn't always easy, and I burned the candle at both ends because I had other publishing obligations that summer, but it turned out to be a great deal of intense fun in the end. My goal, always, has been to reach readers who like to escape to places they normally wouldn't go. But I also like to add quirks you don't normally see in erotic romance. A huge part of that goal is to please the reader, entertain the reader and hope and pray they enjoy what I've written. Without the wonderful readers, there would be no point to writing.