Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sneak Preview: THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE


Here's a sneak preview of my new release, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE. I'm not sure when the exact release date is yet, but I wanted to share the image.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Under The Tuscan Gun: My Favorite New Web Site and TV Show


I recently had verizon fios installed after years of dealing with comcast cable. I don't have any huge complaints about comcast, like so many people I know. I only changed because verizon was doing great offers and I like saving money.

It wasn't easy...getting used to verizon. The channels are different, the menu is different, and everything else is completely different from comcast. The first few days I felt as if I'd lost a best friend. And I don't even watch that much TV...about two hours at night...and it's usually The Golden Girls reruns.

However, the one thing that got me through the transition was an On Demand segment titled, UNDER THE TUSCAN GUN. One night I was searching through the On Demand section and saw the title. As it happens, I'm working on a new novel right now where there's a Tuscan themed restaurant in the sub-plot, and I tend to get carried away while I'm writing and I become involved in everything that my characters are experiencing. If I see anything associated with Tuscany and food, I'm there.

UNDER THE TUSCAN GUN got me through the transition. Basically, it's a cooking show, On Demand, with real endearing people, wonderful hearty recipes, and natural charm that never stops. Gabriele Corcos seems to do most of the show, but his adorable wife (couldn't find her name on the web site, but she's in the photo above.)I can't recommend this show more. And there's also a web site, too. I'm even thinking of trying out some of the recipes myself. Though I'm not much of a cook, there are a few I think I can handle. So stay tuned for more posts...with possibly a few cooking pics to go along with them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Torn From Normal


It just occurred to me that I didn't blog about a great new book I read over the weekend. It's titled TORN FROM NORMAL, and it's by Martin Bartloff. I don't have the links, but I know that if you google it you can find it very easily. I think this might be the third time I've ever recommended a book on this blog. But this one is worth checking out, trust me.

An Annoying Thing About Facebook

It takes a lot to get me annoyed...it really does. But this is something I've been dying to write about for a while and haven't had time. And the reason for this is because I work every single day, sometimes on weekends. I write a new novel every six to eight weeks, depending. And I'm usually editing and writing short story stand alones in my spare time so I can release a new one every month. This takes time and concentration. And because I love what I do I often put everything else aside to concentrate on my work.

But I have e-mails to read, bills to pay, and everything else that everyone deals with on a daily basis. It's called life; it's a good thing. Right now, while in the middle of a new novel, I'm going back and forth with an editor about a new stand alone. On top of that, I'm renting a small guest apartment I have on my property to a brand new tenant and I'm e-mailing him and pulling the lease together so he can get in there a few days before July 1st.

Facebook is fun. It's a place where I like to relax and meet new people and connect with old friends. I love reading my blogging buddy Ryan's posts. I can't wait to see what Lori Perkins and other authors and editors I know are having for dinner or what they did over the weekend. But the one thing that truly bothers me is when authors I don't know and have never been introduced to start hawking me with their books, and their events. It clogs up my e-mail and takes time out of my day. Sometimes they do it in groups, and I get an e-mail that sounds like this: "Hughy, Dooey, and Yahooy have invited you to the event..." And I normally just click delete and ignore them. If I see this happening several times of day for a period of weeks, I then go to their profile and de-friend them. It's nothing personal. I have nothing against them. But I'm too busy with my own life to deal with e-mails that aren't important. And I'd rather spend that time communicating with the wonderful readers who are always sending me e-mails about my own books.

I have this feeling many of these authors think they are doing the right thing. They believe that if they go after fans and readers aggressively on social networks like facebook it will help sell their books. Only it doesn't work with me, and I have a feeling most people feel the same way I do. I'd rather they send me a nice simple e-mail and tell me about their books. I'd even be okay with a private message on facebook. Author Matt Bartloff recently sent me a private message about his book, TORN FROM NORMAL, and I was more than happy to get to know him this way.

But these cold, aggressive, annoying facebook events and unsolicited sales pitches run along that thin line of desperation, and writers run the risk of turning more people off than on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lori Perkins Literary Agent Wins Golden Apple Award


I just heard Lori Perkins, literary agent, has won this year's Golden Apple Award. The New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America just made the announcement this week, and I couldn't be more thrilled for Lori. Though I've never worked with her in a client/agent relationship, I have worked with her as an editor and a guide. I've even seen it mentioned that Lori is referred to as a "Fairy Godmother" because she's always helping writers achieve their dreams. And I know first hand how true this is.


In the past few years, she's helped me with a great many projects, from beginning to end. I've never met anyone who can come up with a great book title in seconds, edit three books at the same time, handle the demanding job of being a literary agent, and raise a great kid as a single mother. And this is only the tip of Lori's talents. There are far too many to mention. She's a delight to work with, she's always an inspiration, and she one of the most creative people I've ever met. And I'm not surprised she won this year's Golden Apple. She deserves it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Romeo Save Me

While writing SHAKESPEARE'S LOVER, this song kept coming up all the time. And like the characters in the book, the romance continues with the passing of time no matter how much things change. http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeares-Lover-ebook/dp/B003QCINHG/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1276871957&sr=1-6

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Nice Amazon Review for the GHOST AND MR. MOORE


I don't usually post reviews from amazon because people can read them there and it always seems like a waste of time. Readers know how and where to find reviews without my help.


But this review captured exactly what I was going for with the book and that doesn't happen often. A while back, there was a post on a well known review site about whether or not readers want to know what the author was thinking when he or she wrote the book. Some readers wanted to know what the author's intentions were, others didn't seem to care...they believed it was the author's job to show their intentions in the book, without having to explain them ahead of time. I'm on the fence about this.


But when a reader gets what an author was trying to do, without having any information before reading the book, it's always nice.


By
M. H. SMITH "mykelsf" (SACRAMENTO, CA USA) - See all my reviews(REAL NAME)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Ghost and Mr. Moore (Kindle Edition) A re-telling of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with a gay lead. This was a fun read with an almost identical story to the original Mrs. Muir movie. A lonely parent of one child, a housekeeper, a dog, a New England sea cottage and a damn fine looking, however dead, sea captain haunting the home. Updated to modern times and told with a lively cast of extra characters, it still stuck true to the formula. Mr. Moore 'ghost-writes' a book narrated by the Captain in order to save his home and never gives up on the love between them. The ending, although known to anyone who saw the movie, was sweet and tender nonetheless. An old story, to be sure, but re-told with wit and a deft hand with the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Palette Fund: Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and More


Those who read this blog know how hard I worked helping a friend of mine who has HIV/AIDS get his disability insurance reinstated this past year with The Law Project in Philadelphia. And now I'd like to mention another foundation that is very important. I particularly like and support this charity because instead of dealing with one specific issue, it deals with several issues that have touched my life in one way or another. It's not just about HIV/AIDS. My mother is a two time cancer survivor, and The Palette Fund works to support people with cancer. They even get into health and nutrition.


Another reason this is important to me is because The Palette Fund was set up to honor the philanthropic legacy of Rand Skolnick. I knew Rand personally. His New Hope residence was about two miles up the road from my home. Though he was a busy man running a multimillion dollar company, he worked tirelessly for issues he cared about, including lgbt issues involving equal rights. In addition, he never stopped working and raising money for charities he cared about. I've never met anyone like him before, and I doubt I ever will again.
So if you get a chance to check out the link I've provided, I think you'll be interested in learning more about Rand, and more about The Palette Fund. It covers a multitude of issues that have touched most of us in one way or another.


Mission
The Palette Fund honors the legacy of
Rand Harlan Skolnick through collaborative grantmaking and programs that value human rights and education. Specifically, the foundation is focused on four health and/or social issues: the role of nutrition in healthcare and cancer, LGBT youth, HIV/AIDS and patient navigation. Rand committed his heart and soul to his philanthropic work throughout his life, and The Palette Fund seeks to continue and grow his pioneering vision.
Vision
Together with our partners, The Palette Fund hopes to create a groundswell of consciousness and change across all of our program areas and continue to find new ways to bring Rand Skolnick’s philanthropic legacy and aid to as many people and causes as possible, as well as to inspire people to join a grassroots movement to help others in need. In the end, we hope that one man’s death will better the lives of thousands of others.


Monday, June 14, 2010

You Can Never Predict Anything in Publishing


If it sounds like I'm blowing my own horn in this post, I'm not. I'm seriously surprised and I'm writing this post to let other authors know that even though you think you can predict what will happen to your book, you can never really be sure.

A REGULAR BUD was originally a short story published in a small anthology by STARbooks Press. This was a nice little anthology, but I made very little money and the story received limited exposure. And I was fine with this. As a writer, I thought I knew the drill. I'd have my short story published in an anthology, I'd enjoy the fact that someone wanted to publish it in the first place, and then I'd move on to the next project.

So when I decided to re-write A REGULAR BUD and have it published by loveyoudivine.com as a stand alone e-book, I didn't expect the book to do much. When I submitted it, I told myself I'd be happy if it sold a few copies and paid for its costs with the publisher (I tend to take this aspect of publishing seriously: I like to know the publisher didn't waste their time with me and with a book that didn't sell anything.)

And to my ultimate shock, A REGULAR BUD has been on the fictionwise.com bestseller list as either number one, two , or three, in the fetish/erotica category since it's publication as a stand alone e-book with loveyoudivine.com. I didn't even consider the book a fetish story. Though there is a small fetish in the book, it wasn't the way I've been promoting it. To me, this was a nice little romance between a guy in his thirties and a guy in his early twenties who happened to run into each other at a very awkward time. And the fact that it even sold copies, forget about being on a bestseller list, has blown me away. I will say that I loved the new cover for the loveyoudivine.com stand alone version and I was hoping A REGULAR BUD would at the very least be received well enough to get a couple of nice reviews. But I never thought it would be on any bestseller lists.

So if any other authors are reading this, you just can't predict where a book is going to go and how readers are going to receive it. You might think you know what you're doing, but there are always surprises out there and you just can't imagine the outcome.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What do SHAKESPEARE'S LOVER and the TV Show Glee have in Common: Excerpt


SHAKESPEARE'S LOVER is a story within a story. It's set in l969, and the plot contains a love story that revolves around two rival colleges located outside New Orleans. One of the mc characters is a senior at St. Dymphna College for Men, and he's writing a play for the annual school production titled "Shakespeare's Lover." The other mc is a twenty-one year old freshmen at Southern Memorial College for Men who belongs to the glee club. He loves the theater but isn't allowed to act because his father thinks the theater is beneath him. So he decides to dress up as a woman and audition for the St. Dymphna play, and when the other mc discovers he's really a man the love story begins. It sounds more complicated than it is. And though this isn't a novel about cross dressing or transsexuals (he's only doing drag so he can act, a "Tootsie" thing), it does get into a few examples about how poorly women are treated by men sometimes.


Below is an excerpt that hasn't been published anywhere. Above are links to the publisher's web site, but it will be on all the popular e-book sites, including Amazon.com, soon. And, the paperback will be released in a week or so.


Declan Lucas was the only child of the President of Southern Memorial College. He lived in the president’s grand residence, a white columned antebellum plantation house at the edge of the Southern Memorial campus with his mother and father. And though he was a student at Southern Memorial (a freshman), he wasn’t allowed to act in the school play or participate in any activities that were connected to the theater.

He’d been begging his father since high school to allow him to study acting. From the time he saw his first play at six years old, the only thing he’d ever wanted to do was act on the stage. But his father was an academic; the theater was beneath him and his family. Declan’s father had different plans for his only son, which did not include grease paint, outrageous costumes, and applause. Declan was being groomed to take over his father’s position as president of the college one day, and in order to do this he had to follow all of his father’s rules.

The one activity remotely related to the theater Declan’s father had permitted was glee club. Though he wasn’t fond of his son singing with all the other students, Declan had managed to persuade his father to see this was good for his image on campus. And it was good for his father’s image, too. He told his father that when the other students saw the President’s son getting involved with something as ordinary as glee club, they would develop a certain respect for him for being just like everyone else. Declan’s father agreed, reluctantly, and it turned out to be the best thing in the world for Declan’s self-esteem. Singing in glee club helped build Declan’s self-confidence and it helped him partially satisfy his hunger for the stage.

But it still wasn’t enough to satisfy Declan. Singing in glee club was not the same as acting in plays. No matter how hard he tried to fight the feelings he couldn’t stop thinking about the theater. There were times when he’d lay in bed at night planning his escape from his controlling father. He’d run away from Southern Memorial and everything that had ever been familiar to him. He’d run to New York, change his name, get a menial job somewhere to support himself, and then audition for every play he could until someone gave him a part. But more than that, Declan would have the freedom to love whomever he wanted to love. He’d known he was attracted to men for as long as he’d been attracted to the theater. And he knew his father would despise the fact that he was homosexual even more than he despised the fact that Declan wanted to act on stage.

Then one afternoon he overheard a few Southern Memorial students talking on the promenade. A group of guys had been laughing at rumor going around about St. Dymphna’s spring production. Evidently, St. Dymphna had decided to do a play written by one of their own students, a young writer named Jude Carmichael no one had ever heard of. The Southern Memorial students were laughing because Southern Memorial was doing a famous Tennessee Williams play that year and they thought it was hysterical that poor, pathetic St. Dymphna had to resort to doing an amateur play written by one of their own students. And, even funnier than that, one of the guys laughed and said the amateur play was some kind of makeshift Shakespearean romance titled, Shakespeare’s Lover, and he couldn’t wait to see how an all male school would try to pull that off. Southern Memorial had the money to hire professional actresses to play their female parts. But St. Dymphna didn’t have the money to pay for anything extra so they’d have to use a male student to play the female lead.

Declan didn’t laugh; he didn’t even smile. He sat there eavesdropping on their vicious conversation, with a sense of intrigue building from the deepest part of his body that he’d never experienced before.

The next day he drove to the St. Dymphna student center to see if there was anything posted about auditions for this new play by this amateur playwright. And he found exactly what he needed to know. He wrote down all the information he could find about the play and the auditions, especially the information about the female lead. He stood there in the middle of the student center with his hand over his mouth. It said that on the second day of auditions, St. Dymphna was auditioning young women to play the female lead. And Declan knew in his heart this was his chance to get a part in a school play.

He went back to Southern Memorial that night and persuaded his best friend from glee club to help him dress up as a young woman. His best friend, Conner, was slightly effeminate and Declan knew Conner had always been fascinated with drag shows. Though he kept it quiet, Conner’s dream was to one day sing in drag revues, and Conner had a secret foot locker full of women’s clothes in his dorm to prove it.

For two weeks, Declan told his mother and father he was going to Conner’s dorm to study at night. But he was really going there to prepare for his role as a young woman. If he was going to pass in the audition, he had to practice being a woman and he needed all the help he could get from Conner. Though Declan and Conner were the same size, Declan wasn’t effeminate and he wasn’t sure if he could actually pull this off.


Friday, June 4, 2010

New Release Today: SHAKESPEARE'S LOVER


Just so there aren't any mistakes, SHAKESPEARE'S LOVER is a modern/retro romance set in l969, and it is not a historical. I want to make that clear to all the historical fans out there so they aren't confused before they make a purchase. Below is a good description that explains the book, and next week I'll post a few unpublished excerpts.


Have a great weekend.


When an athletic college senior, Jude Carmichael, is asked to write a play for St. Dymphna College for Men, he takes on the job with enthusiasm. It's l969 and the world is changing, so Jude decides to write a play about William Shakespeare's fictional love life and how it might have affected Shakespeare while he was writing Romeo and Juliet. However, as the months pass and his deadline approaches, Jude is stuck and can't figure out a suitable ending...until he meets the best muse he's ever known, an adorable little guy with big brown eyes named Declan Lucas.


Declan is an innocent young freshman at Southern Memorial College for Men, St. Dymphna's arch rival. Declan's abusive father is the president of Southern Memorial and he expects Declan to follow in his footsteps. But the only thing Declan has ever wanted to do in life is act on the stage. And when his father refuses to allow him to be in his own school play that year because acting is socially inferior, Declan decides to secretly audition for a part in St. Dymphna's play instead. This is against the rules; Southern Memorial students aren't allowed to be in St. Dymphna plays. But he does it anyway. With the help of a good friend, Declan dresses up as an attractive young woman and winds up getting the female lead in St. Dymphna's play, Shakespeare's Lover.


Though everyone at St. Dymphna is fooled by Declan's disguise, and they are thrilled to have found the perfect young woman for the part, it doesn't take long for Jude Carmichael to figure out Declan is really the most wonderful young man he's ever met. And when he does, he's not shy about letting Declan know how he feels.


While they put together one of the most romantic plays ever produced by St. Dymphna College, and everyone thinks Declan is really a woman named Gill, Jude and Declan fall more deeply in love. Though they can't be seen together in public unless Declan is dressed as a woman, they find creative ways to meet in private so Declan can be a man.


If all the world's a stage, Declan and Jude prove that there is steamy action in the wings...but will they be able to find a future together?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why I Give Details About a Book

I read the other day on one well known romance review blog that one reviewer in particular doesn't like to read author blogs because she doesn't want to be influenced by what authors have to say about their books. She wants to decide for herself, and interpret the book for herself. Well, I say with a huge smile....blah, blah, blah :) Get over yourself. Authors don't write about their books on their blogs to influence people. Authors write about their books to help people decide whether or not they are interested in buying their books. It's a tight economy for most people, and if I didn't give details of what my books were about, I'd feel as though I'm letting people down. To take it one more step, I receive e-mails from readers asking for more information about my books all the time. A few people even ask me to spoil the ending. If this is what they want, I'm more than happy to help them out. One nice woman even decided not to buy one book after I told her the ending. She didn't like the ending and said she wouldn't be interested in reading the book. This didn't bother me in the least, and I'm glad she e-mailed and asked so she wasn't disappointed.

Part of my job as an author is to explain my books in as much detail as possible, without giving spoilers (I will if someone requests one, though) Personally, I love to read other author blogs and I love to get an in-depth look at what motivated the author, what to expect before I buy a book, and how the author would like to see the book interpreted. And frankly this never influences the way I interpret a book. But I guess to each his (her) own.

I've written a lot about STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM AT THE PLAZA. And I'm not trying to influence anyone. I'm just trying to give readers as many details as I can. This book is a romance. There are a few minor erotic sections. But not many. And I want people who read only erotica to know and understand this. I don't, however, want them to think I'm trying to tell them how to interpret the book. I believe people are smart enough to do this on their own, in spite of anything I write on this blog.