Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin - All Romance Ebooks

The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin - All Romance Ebooks

Self-Publishing: Another Well Known Romance Author Going Rogue

I just read an interesting blog post where another fairly well known romance author is going to start self-publishing her own books. She walked away from a nice book deal, with a well known romance publisher, to do her own thing.

Of course I'm a little cynical when it comes to these blog posts. There are too many little things not mentioned in the post and I start thinking twice. On the surface it seems like an explanation as to why the author is going rogue. But I'm one of those who read between the lines all the time, and I have a funny feeling the post was more about promoting the new self-published book than it was about letting readers know the true reasons why the author decided to self-publish. I could be wrong. Maybe the author I'm talking about is branching out on her own because of the reasons she posted. But I'd be willing to bet there's more to the story.

And even if there isn't, I do have to admit I admire published authors who decide to self-publish. Especially authors with good book deals from large publishers who have already established a fan base...even if they are full of shit most of the time (smile). There have been times I've thought about doing it myself. But I have just as many reasons for not going the self-published route as some authors have for going the self-published route. One reason is quality of life. I love my publishers and depend on the collaboration. If I had to do it alone, I'd never stop working and I'm already working six and seven days a week writing. I need to know Holly at ravenous romance likes the title, or hates the title. I need to know Claudia at Loveyoudivine thinks something will work...or won't work. I don't do crit groups and I need the publisher's input all the time.

There are so many things changing in publishing these days no one can predict the future and no one can say who is right and who is wrong. But it should be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. I do know one thing for certain...and this is because I've been around long enough to see how things repeat themselves over and over again...not everyone will be Barry Eisler or Amanda Hocking. It doesn't work that way, in life or in publishing, and I'd hate to see a lot of good authors leave viable publishers with dreams of becoming Barry Eisler or Amanda Hocking.

When Buying E-books, Triple Check All Product Information...

I saw a comment last night on a social network where a reader was disappointed because she'd purchased an e-book and thought it was longer than it actually was. The first six pages were empty, then came more filler pages, and then finally eleven more pages of information about other books in the series. In other words, by the time she got to the actual book she realized the book itself was only seventy-five percent of the entire digital product she bought.

Even though I post all product details here on the blog for each book of mine, some readers have left nasty amazon reviews for my books because they bought an e-book that was actually a short story thinking they were getting a full length novel.

I've even purchased e-books myself and I've been disappointed in the product details...the details either weren't good enough or I was led to believe I was getting something else.

And you can't tell anymore just by looking at the prices. I have full length digital novels out that are priced at .99, and I have short stories priced at 2.00. I have no control over book pricing. The publisher does this and I have no say in the matter. No author who is published with any publisher has a say in how his or her books are priced. That's just a fact of life.

I've learned that in order to avoid any disappointment when I'm buying an e-book is to triple check product details on other web sites where they sell e-books. Some are better than others...the bigger sites seem to be the worst. But I usually wind up with all the product information I need. It's out there; you just have to look for it.

I know publishers don't do this on purpose. One of the problems in e-publishing is that most publishers don't have a clue about merchandising and retail. When I owned my two businesses, I learned the public needs as much information as possible...and never assume anything when dealing with the general public. But from what I've seen most publishers fall short in this department. They know how to put out some great books, but don't know how to deal with the buying public. They also take a lot for granted, with regard to the way people shop online. I not a tech geek and never have been. I couldn't care less about DRM or file sizes or KB. When I see "146 KB" I think WTF? And then I wonder who the geeks are who are putting this information out there.
I don't want to know about technical crap either. I just want to know how many words to book contains, what it's about, and how much it is. Period.

So the only alternative for readers is to check out all the options before making a purchase. I can't actually say there's one site that does every thing perfect. But each individual site seems to cover something another site missed.

I'm also going to be adding my own product details, in the form of a list, from now on when a book is released. The product details I think would be important if I were buying an e-book for pleasure. And if anyone has any questions about anything, I always encourage them to e-mail me. You can also e-mail the publisher, too. I doubt you'll get any responses from large publishers, but small e-publishers will respond to almost everything.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why I Won't Do Ads On This Blog Right Now...

I've been approached by a few people about placing ads here on the blog. I've thought about it seriously. It's not that I'm against ads on blogs. But I rarely ever pay attention to them. For that matter, I don't pay attention to ads on facebook either. I find them intrusive and I automatically drift in the opposite direction of ads like this. And instead of leaving me with a subconscious desire to purchase the product being advertised, I wind up with a conscious desire to avoid places where there are too many ads. Most are extremely cheesy looking.

I'm also unsure about the money these ads generate. It looks like nickle and diming to me. I could be wrong. I haven't done it. Maybe they do make money. But speaking as someone who has owned an operated two good businesses and bought and sold my fair share of high end real estate I don't like wasting my time...or taking the risk of annoying my regular blog readers for nickles and dimes. Since I started the blog...not for profit at all...I've also started generating thousands of hits a week to my own surprise. And I take each and every blog reader as seriously as I take the readers who buy my books.

Being that I don't often review books here on the blog, it wouldn't be a conflict of interest if I started doing ads. I will comment on books I love once in a while, but my taste is so eclectic I rarely zoom in on any one particular genre. And, this will never be a review blog.

A lot of the ads I've been approached about have been geared toward the adult entertainment industry. I have no problem with this. I write a lot of erotica and I don't judge anyone. But this blog is, and always has been, pg rated. And even that's stretching it...it's more like g-rated as far as blog posts go. If I were to have ads here promoting something in the adult entertainment industry I'd have to do that Google Content Warning Page. And they annoy the hell out of me.

So I don't see myself agreeing to doing any ads here on this blog, at least for the time being. I may change my mind in the future. But right now things are going to stay the same. And if anyone does want to comment about their experiences when it comes to ads on blogs, I'd love to hear all thoughts. I don't have any experience with these ads and I'm basing my decision not to have ads on pure instinct, with regard to what I like or don't like when I'm reading other blogs.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Unpublished Excerpt: The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin


Earlier this week, I pubbed and excerpt from The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin from an excerpt that's already been released. And now here's one that hasn't been released anywhere else but here.

Chapter Five

When the phone rang, Luis thought it was Jase calling from Alaska. He was just getting out of the bathtub and there were still suds on his body from the bubble bath he’d used. He rarely took bubble baths because he never had enough time to indulge himself. But with Jase and Hunter in Alaska visiting Jase’s family, Luis had decided to pamper himself a little that night. He’d been hoping a nice hot bath would calm his nerves a little, too. His stomach had been turning since his twin brother, Eddie, who now referred to himself as Gage Weston, stormed out of the house earlier that afternoon, leaving them with unfinished business once again.

Luis reached for the phone he’d placed on the marble vanity in the bathroom in case Jase called and said hello. He grabbed a thick white towel with his other hand and started patting a mound of bubbles between his smooth, wet legs. He was hoping it would be Jase and they could have phone sex. He felt sexy standing there naked with bubbles dripping down his body.

But it was a bad connection and Luis had to ask twice, “Who is this?”

“I said, it’s your brother, asshole.”

“Eddie,” Luis said. “Is that you? Where are you? We have a bad connection and I can hardly hear you.” He wiped a few bubbles on his ass and set the towel on the marble vanity. The minute he knew it was his twin brother, he’d stopped feeling sexy.

“I need to see you tonight,” Gage said. Though the connection was terrible, Luis picked up a hint of panic in his brother’s voice.

“I just stepped out of the bath tub,” Luis said. “I’m dripping in bubbles and I was just going to go to bed. Can’t this wait until tomorrow?” The last thing Luis wanted that night was another bad scene with his brother.

“It can’t wait,” Gage said. “I need you to come to my apartment. Be there by midnight.”

“Are you in some kind of trouble?” Luis asked.

“I don’t want to get into it on the phone,” Gage said. “Just be at my door by midnight.” Then Gage rattled off his Brooklyn address and said he’d be waiting for him inside the grocery store.

“I can’t come to Brooklyn at this hour,” Luis said. “I never go to neighborhoods like that at this hour.” He knew he was being vicious with that comment. If it had been anyone else calling, Luis wouldn’t have thought twice about going to Brooklyn. He had good friends in Brooklyn; he loved Brooklyn. But he wanted to hurt Gage’s feelings and he wasn’t even sure why. They’d been this way with each other all their lives, constantly competing, always trying to hurt each other. Now that Luis knew his twin brother couldn’t even begin to compete with him financially, Luis took advantage of the opportunity to make him feel like a failure.

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Virgin Billionaire?” Gage asked. “Are you too good to come to Brooklyn? Are you too important to socialize with peasants like me?”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Indie" Author...or Self-Published Author?

Early this morning before I started working on a new series, I checked out a few bloggers I like to follow on a daily basis and found an interesting post. The title of the post suggested I was going to be reading about "Indie" authors. I've been published by small presses myself many times. I love "Indie" publishers and "Indie" authors and look forward to reading anything about them.

The blog post I'm talking about was a guest post on a publishing blog I frequent often. The regular author of the blog wrote a short introduction paragraph and I decided to skip it and move right into the guest blogger's post to save time.

But I'd say about a quarter of the way into the guest post I stopped reading because things weren't making sense. The author was talking about editing costs, cover artist costs, and a list of other expenses I didn't expect to find in a blog post about "Indie" authors.

Then I started to wonder if I'd missed a few changes...whether or not it's become common practice for "Indie" publishers to now charge authors fees. I've always been a little fanatical about this. The way publishing has always worked is that the publisher pays the author, with either an advance, a flat fee, or royalties. I've never paid a publisher a single cent to have any of my work published. I've never paid a literary agent a reading fee. For me, paying a publisher or paying a literary agent is an automatic red flag. And I stay far away from those types because I don't think they are ethical.

I've been around for almost twenty years and I've seen a lot. I know for a fact there's one small press out there that charges authors editing fees, and there have been literary agents charging reading fees since the beginning of time.

But as I continued to read this blog post something wasn't right. The author of the post continued referring to herself as an "Indie" author, only it sounded more like she was talking about her experience as a self-published author.

So I went back and checked the blog owner's introduction, which I should have done in the first place. And sure enough, the blog owner introduced the guest blogger as a self-published author, not an "Indie" author. And the post was about self-publishing, not small presses.

I've always been a staunch supporter of self-published authors. I admire them and I've supported a few right here on my blog. But as far as I've always known...and like I said I've been around for a long time..."Indie" publishers are considered small presses. And the distinction has always been crystal clear.

At first I thought maybe the guest blogger was so new she was using a term she shouldn't have been using. But then I read the comment thread and found that I wasn't the only one confused, especially with the title of the post. Others thought it was misleading, too. I found this on wiki. But the biggest surprise of all was that for every comment that said the guest blogger was misleading the readers, there was another comment defending the use of "Indie" when referring to a self-published author.

So I learned something knew today. Evidently, "Indie" is now being used to refer to self-published authors as well as small presses.

I'm not commenting with my opinion at all. I don't think it makes a huge difference in the grand scheme for anyone. It might even catch on and become common practice. But I will say this. If I ever decide to self-publish anything (and I've thought about self-publishing very seriously in the past year), I'm going to proudly call myself a self-published author, not an "Indie" author. If I'm going to spend my hard earned money publishing my own book, I want full credit as a proud self-published author and I don't want anyone thinking I was published by a small press. I also don't want to mislead anyone either.

Excerpt: THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE and the EVIL TWIN


THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE AND THE EVIL TWIN wasn't an easy book to write. Most of the book is from the evil twin's POV, which means he's seeing Luis and Jase in a completely different light. I even went back and changed a few parts during edits so he wouldn't come off looking too critical. But there is a happy ending, and a few unexpected emotional scenes between the twin brothers.

I based a lot of this book on personal experience. I don't have an evil twin. But I do have a gay brother close in age and I understand the dynamics in the relationship. The relationships between siblings can be complicated at best. In other words, I'm not standing on the outside looking in this time, which is usually the way the process works when writing fiction.

Chapter One
Gage Weston never wore hats, especially not baseball caps. He had
thick, wavy hair that he kept longer than most gay men in their late twenties did; he worked hard not to look like everyone else. He parted it in the center and bleached it himself with a drugstore frosting kit because he couldn’t afford to waste money on foil wraps in an expensive New York hair salon. He even cut it himself, with three mirrors and a cheap pair of scissors he’d purchased at a beauty supply on Broadway.

His wardrobe revolved around six white dress shirts, three pairs of
jeans, and two black blazers. He owned three neckties, a pair of good black leather quarter boots, and a pair of running shoes. The black belt he owned was ten years old and his beige jeans and black dress slacks were almost twelve. Everything else in his small closet was either a castoff he’d found in a secondhand shop for less than five dollars or something he’d owned since he was a teenager.

On the morning he went to the opening of the new building for the
Angel Association in the West Village, he wore a black baseball cap on purpose. He also wore a white shirt, his darkest jeans, his black quarter boots, and the newest of his black sport jackets. He wanted to look nice, because this was one of those almost-formal affairs. But he didn’t want to be recognized.

As he entered the Angel Association building, he lowered his head
and pulled the brim of the cap down as low as he could, practically covering his eyes. He shoved his hands into his pockets and hunched over a little. Gage had the kind of natural walk that could turn heads even when he wasn’t trying for attention, and he wasn’t trying now. His body seemed to swagger and his hips swayed a little. An older woman in a Chinese red dress standing beside the entrance door smiled and stepped aside. He noticed the way she glanced up and down at his legs and he sent her a smile so fast his
head didn’t move and the corner of his lips hardly turned up. A group of pudgy gay men in their forties standing near a refreshment table sent him quick, individual glances and gaped at his crotch as if they hadn’t seen a decent crotch in years. Gage kept walking as if he didn’t notice them. He crossed through the main lobby, lowering his head even more, and stopped behind a group of people who were listening to Luis Fortune give a speech.

Gage knew more about Luis Fortune than anyone else in the room.
Luis was “married” to Jase Nicholas, who had been dubbed the Virgin
Billionaire by the press because he had made his billions with his Virgin Alaskan Spring Water company. Gage had been following Luis Fortune’s life in New York for some time, ever since Luis had accidentally become mixed up in a sordid drug ring that involved Luis’s used underwear and a few older gay real-estate agents in Manhattan who had fallen on hard times.

Gage had read Luis’s sappy blog posts on that ridiculous gay romance blog called Elena’s Romantic Treasures and Tidbits. He’d seen Luis’s photos in magazines for which Luis had modeled professionally more times than he cared to recall. Gage even knew Luis and Jase had a weekend house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, called Cider Mill Farm; they traveled to Alaska as much as they could to spend time with Jase’s family; and they had a preschool-aged son named Hunter who was really Jase’s biological child.

It wasn’t difficult to follow Luis Fortune’s life now that he was
married to the Virgin Billionaire, especially since Luis had recently made headlines for getting involved with a shifty character named Dariussomething who had been harboring a grudge against Luis Fortune for exposing an underage pornographer in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The M/M Romance Community Deserves a Round of Applause!!

In the past four or five years I've watched many changes happen within the publishing industry. All good changes, at least I think they are.

But I think the most wonderful change I've seen is how the M/M romance community has pulled together and formed such a solid, positive bond. Every day when I open my in-box there's a nice e-mail from a M/M romance author talking about a new book. These e-mails are always filled with positive energy, which is the best way to start off even the rainiest, cloudiest day of the week. I look forward to seeing who is doing what, and how they are doing it. Everyone seems to be doing something different, but just as interesting.

I used to dread opening my in-box in the morning. I never knew what to expect. If it wasn't spam, it was a political e-mail from a disgruntled friend with too much time to waste. And now when I open my mail I can't wait to see what's new and what's happening within the M/M romance community. There are so many wonderful books from which to choose my TBR list becomes longer each month. I have two Kobo e-readers, the Look Book and the regular Kobo, and my libraries are filled with more books than I ever dreamed I'd read.

I've also seen M/M authors bond together in ways I never could have predicted four or five years ago. We used to be set apart from each other and didn't have opportunities to communicate. But I've seen contests like The Rainbow Awards grow into positive representations of what all M/M authors are striving toward with their hard work. This includes cover artists and models as well. And no matter how busy anyone is, there's always time to help out a fellow author. Sometimes it comes in the form of offering advice, other times it comes in the form of providing support. The energy has become explosive; you can almost feel it everywhere you go these days on the Internet.

From social networks to personal blogs, almost all M/M authors are selflessly dedicated to creating changes and making positive moves that promote a better quality of life to the entire lgbt community. Some have become involved in wonderful organizations that provide support for people living with HIV and AIDS. Others have offered support to PETA and other animal rights organizations. I can't list all the organizations; it would take too long. Readers benefit, too. They get chances to win free digital readers and free e-books and communicate one on one with their favorite authors. And publishers are working with their authors in order to please their readers.

And the wonderful reviews sites that have popped up in the past four or five years that support the M/M community have become positive places where authors and readers can browse and learn information they wouldn't normally be able to find in bookshops and newspapers. In fact, there's so much information out there I set time aside to read these sites for pleasure most of the time. What used to be hard work is now something we look forward to doing.

If the changes that have happened recently are any indication of the changes yet to come, there's a lot to look forward to in the future. And I think that's what's going to happen. I get e-mails at least three or four times a week from new M/M authors asking questions about publishers, social media, and how to get started writing M/M fiction. And from what I've seen, there are a lot of great writers yet to come. They have fresh voices, creative concepts, and new approaches that haven't been done yet.

It's probably one of the best times to be part of a publishing community in the history of publishing. I don't know what it's like with other genres, but I hope they are experiencing the same exciting energy we're all experiencing in the M/M romance community.

Summer Vacation Schedules...

I just posted something on facebook and figured I post about it here, too. Usually it's the other way around. I post here and link to FB.

Summer's here and a lot of people go away. And even though things move faster in publishing nowadays, people still take vacations. They plan ahead all year, looking forward to down time.

Editors go on vacation. They work hard and they deserve a break. Last year I started asking around, finding out when my editors would be away during the summer so I didn't bother them with e-mails and submissions. I'm doing the same thing this year, too.

The last thing I'd want if I were on vacation is an e-mail about a manuscript. And I think it's important for writers to extend this courtesy to all their editors. And when the editor gets back, he/she is all the more relaxed and ready to get back to work.

Excerpt From Final Draft: Babycakes

I just finished looking over the final draft of Babycakes. It's a story about a young man who's been caring for his elderly mother for many years and finally gets a chance to travel to Australia and enjoy himself. There's a photo of the cover in the post below this.

Release Date is June 10th. Here's an excerpt...the first couple of paragraphs.


He was a man who had missed out on a lot of
fun in life is how Nate would have described
himself. After college, he went straight to law
school; after that, he went back to his dreary
hometown to open a small law office and take care
of his aging mother. He lived in Martha Falls, MD,
a small, square hamlet about fifty miles outside
of Baltimore and a million miles away from any
hint of a gay lifestyle. He’d settled there into the
banal, uninspired existence of caregiver and didn’t
bother to leave again until a week after his
mother’s funeral.
He was thirty-five years old by then but looked
more like twenty-five. An only child who had been
BABYCAKES
2
left with the responsibility of dealing with
Alzheimer’s. He could have put her in a nursing
home. But he didn’t.


Though many of his nights were spent rubbing
the clenched fists of his mother’s boney,
translucent hands and softly explaining to her
there was no need to rant about being lost and
afraid, there had also been plenty of free time to
work out with weights in the basement and run
endless miles on the treadmill in his childhood
bedroom. While saving his sanity with exercise,
Nate developed strong, solid legs that led upward
to a lean, tight waist.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More About Babycakes: Upcoming Release


I have a new short story being released sometime this month by loveyoudivine.com. I've been writing for lyd for about five years, ever since I found out I could publish short story e-books as stand alones. Up until then, for years, I'd always submitted my work to larger lgbt publishers like Cleis Press and Alyson Books. Before that, I was pubbed in periodicals and journals dating back to my college days.

Babycakes is a perfect example of what's been being published for many, many years within the gay fiction genre. It's the kind of story I would have submitted to an editor ten years ago for a gay anthology, not something I wrote because it's a hot trend right now. I've been right here doing this for a long time, loving every single minute of it.

But I'd also like to make it clear this is erotica, not romance. I always try to distinguish between the two here on the blog because I'm always reading about how readers can't tell the difference and wind up buying something they didn't expect. I also try to keep it simple...as simple as possible without being boxed-in. The short stories I write are usually more erotica than romance. The full length novels are usually erotic romance. And I always post something on the blog about this when there's a new release. It can get complicated, and booksellers don't always categorize properly. Strawberries and Cream at the Plaza is a short story, but there's nothing erotic about it...it's pure romance.

So if anyone has questions, feel free to e-mail me and I'll be more than happy to go into more detail. Readers do this all the time...some even ask for spoilers and I'm more than happy to oblige.

"Farmin Ain't Easy" - The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin


As they say on The Beekman Boys, "Farmin ain't easy....and neither was writing this sequel, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE AND THE EVIL TWIN, in the Virgin Billionaire series. This time most of the story is told from the POV of the evil twin. And he has an unusual slant on things, especially when it comes to his identical twin brother's life.


The Virgin Billionaire and the Evil Twin — Synopsis

When Luis Fortune's identical twin brother pays him a surprise visit after being estranged for more than ten years, Luis isn't prepared for the shock. Luis slips right back into the dangerous, competitive pattern that's always defined their relationship and laughs at his twin brother's bleached hair, his shabby clothes, and his new name, Gage Weston. Luis rolls his eyes when he finds out Gage has been living in Brooklyn for the last five years and working as a male stripper in The Village. In fact, Luis is so bitter he never even bothered to tell his husband, Jase, he had an identical twin brother.

And Gage is still angry about something that Luis did to him more than a decade ago that involved a man named Snake, and he isn't shy about letting Luis know he hasn't forgiven him. And Gage has never forgiven Luis for leaving him alone in Tennessee to take care of their aging, overly religious parents. This, Gage believes, set the course for his life, causing him to wind up a male stripper living in a low-rent studio apartment over a grocery store in Brooklyn, struggling to survive and dating a closeted New York City cop with whom Gage knows he will never be able to have a real relationship.

After a heated exchange, Gage walks out on Luis, vowing never to see him again. And then Gage experiences a series of life altering events that leave him devastated. So he comes up with a plan to get even with his spoiled twin brother and pay him back for all the heartache he's caused in the past. A plan that involves kidnapping Luis and locking him up in a room that was once a soundproof sex chamber, so Gage can assume Luis's identity and find out what it's like to be married to The Virgin Billionaire and have anything he wants.

But it's not as easy as Gage thinks it will be to take over his twin brother's life. Along the way, Gage meets someone very special he never intended to meet and winds up falling in love for the first time. And when Gage sees how his twin brother's life has really turned out with The Virgin Billionaire, it's not at all as he'd expected it would be.

Does Gage really hate his identical twin brother, Luis, enough to ruin Luis's happiness and assume his identity forever? Will Luis be able to survive being locked up all alone in a sex chamber with nothing but fattening foods, discount store clothing, and bad music? And will Gage ever be able to put the past aside and come to terms with Luis as an adult so Gage can pull his life together and focus on the man he truly loves?

Monday, May 23, 2011

About This "DNF" Business...

I've received a few e-mails from people regarding the "DNF" post I wrote a couple of days ago. Some of the e-mails are funny, all in good fun, moving along with the light-hearted spirit in which the post was written.

But some people were vehemently against DNF reviews and they weren't shy about stating their opinions. And others violently support DNF reviews, as if it were a cult or religion...to the point of using pejoratives and ranting about the Internet.

Frankly, I had no idea I would be poking the caged tiger. In fact, at the end of the post I praised DNF reviews because I'd found another great book thanks to a DNF review. I was simply sharing something I'd recently learned, and from the replies I received, a lot of people didn't know what a "DNF" review was. I'm sure a lot still don't. I'm even more certain most people don't care and never will. If you don't believe me, hop over to your local supermarket and take a random poll. "Excuse me," You can ask, "Do you know what a DNF is?" I'll bet you'll be surprised by both the expressions and the replies you'll garner.

But the point is I'm not for or against DNF reviews. This isn't a political or religious topic. And it's not even a topic on which I feel the need to form an opinion. It is what it is. I was just pointing out that I have my own personal rules and goals in life. I'm strict about finishing what I start. In other words, you're not going to come to my house and see half-painted walls, half finished projects, and half read books. When I start something, whether it's a book or a home improvement project, I finish it. And even if I don't like the results, I'm always satisfied, on an emotional level, with the fact that I stuck it out. I never thought I'd learn to drive a manual transmission. I almost Did Not Finish. But I did, and I'm glad I suffered through it.

So those who wrote hate letters in support of DNF reviews: calm yourselves. Seriously. I can understand and respect those who don't feel the need to finish things. I "get" what DNF means now. No one should have to finish a book...or any other project...if they don't feel like finishing. Not everyone subscribes to the same set of standards. I know a guy who started remodeling his bathroom ten years ago and he's still not finished. I have another friend who starts a new craft project every six months and never finishes a thing. And there's nothing wrong with this.

But I do think that some of the more aggressive types out there should take it all a little lighter. It's a DNF. It's a rating for a book review, not the results of an MRI. It has no huge emotional or phsyical impact on the quality of anyone's life one way or the other. And life's really too damn short to get all worked up for nothing.

Google Blogger Eating Posts and Comments

Just a quick post. Google blogger has been screwy lately. It's been up and down, I've lost posts, and comments are going to spam that should not be going to spam.

I've also lost comments that I can't seem to retrieve. So if anyone does leave a comment and it doesn't show up, blame it on goggle blogger. I always post all comments, whether I agree with them or not, especially anonymous comments. I encourage anons and I respect their right to privacy, especially when it comes to learning more about book priates.

But sometimes google eats comments and blog posts and there's nothing I can do about it (frown).

Young, Hung, and Hitched...Or Gone With A Wink


Getting a book out isn't an easy process. After you've done it enough times the mechanical process isn't that hard, but the emotional process...and the creative decisions you make as an author...is always difficult.

It was that way with my new release, YOUNG, HUNG, AND HITCHED. The original title was GONE WITH A WINK. I posted about it here. I wrote the book with this title, GONE WITH A WINK, in mind and it wasn't easy when I decided to change it at the last minute.

In short, this is a book about a young gay couple who are getting married in spite of the fact they aren't legally allowed to marry, taking a trip halfway across country to begin new lives in New Orleans with a huge silver trailer, and fighting demons from the past because one of the characters was a refugee during the Katrina floods. The last place this character wants to be is New Orleans. He's knows what it's like when his entire life is "Gone With A Wink." The reason they are hauling the huge trailer is because he wants that security in case he has to leave New Orleans again. But he's moving there anyway because his partner is offered a wonderful job. It's a sacrifice he's willing to make for the love of his life, which to me is what it's all about.

The title YOUNG, HUNG AND HITCHED, is campy, sexy, and it suggests erotica. It's as fun as it is trite. I still like it for these reasons...and this book isn't pg rated and there is plenty of erotica. But the erotica in this particular book is far less important than the emotion these two characters share. And I think if I could do it again, the title would have been as planned: GONE WITH A WINK.

Check Out ALL Amazon Reviewers' Reviews Just to Be Sure

I'm always buying books, and my purchases have doubled since I started reading digital books. I hear about the books I buy all over the place, from social networks to literary agent blogs. But I'm also a shopper and I've learned to check out all product details, prices, and reviews so I know what I'm buying and there are no surprises.

When it comes to books, I think most authors and publishers get it right with regard to product details. The book descriptions are usually helpful, and for me, besides the cover, that's the most important part of the shopping experience.

After I check out the publisher/author information, I usually go right to the amazon reviews. In most cases I think readers leave honest, informative reviews on amazon. However, there are times when I'm not sure what to think. I'll see a negative review that's only one line, which is a huge red flag for me. I know how people react when they don't love a book. These reactions are usually far more emotional than when they do love a book and readers are not shy about letting other people know they didn't enjoy the experience.

But a one line, one star review makes me wonder. Something like this happened to me this weekend. I saw a book being promoted on a social network and decided to check it out to see if I wanted to purchase it. There were two great reviews for the book, and one lone negative review. The negative review consisted of one sentence and the reviewer's name was one of those way out fake names you come across every now and then on Amazon.

So I decided to check out the reviewer's other amazon reviews. And sure enough, there were plenty of other reviews. And each of those reviews was a negative one star review, only one or two sentences long, and they were all for erotic romances. This didn't make sense either. Most people who read erotic romances are usually extremely discreet and don't leave any reviews at all. Or they are extremely passionate and leave reviews all over the place. For some, it's a passionate hobby. They love romance and erotic romance so much they can't wait to talk about it in a review. And their reviews are usually balanced. And there are always far more positive reviews than negative reviews. This makes sense; no one loves every book and no one ever will.

But what about those who only leave negative reviews? Of course it's possible that there are readers who only leave negative reviews on amazon for personal reasons. I guess anything is possible. However, as a shopper, when I'm looking for information about a book, I find it hard to take someone like this seriously.

After I checked out the amazon reviews for this particular book I was thinking about buying, I went to goodreads.com and checked out their reviews for the book. There were over 100 wonderful reviews and a few so-so reviews. But nothing that would have turned me away from buying the book.

This has happened to me before while I've been shopping for books. I've come across amazon reviewers...always with way out contrived names...who leave negative reviews for erotic romances and never leave one single positive review. Again, this makes no sense, and if it doesn't make sense I find it hard to take the reviewer seriously. Common sense dictates that if someone only reads erotic romance, there will be more books they love than hate. And the more critical reviews will usually be far longer than the negative reviews.

But if a reviewer only leaves negative reviews all the time, without taking the time to ever leave a positive review, I'm still going to have trouble taking them seriously. I start to wonder if there isn't a hidden agenda; maybe the reviewer isn't very stable. I like to keep it positive all the time. Life's much nicer that way, and I think most people would agree with me.

So never take one amazon review to heart when you're shopping for a book. Always check out the reviewer's other reviews and compare them. And then check out the goodreads reviews. As a shopper, I find there's more consistency over at goodreads, which I depend on when I'm spending my hard earned money making a purchase.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If You're a Writer and Haven't Heard of Gerard Jones or Everyonewhosanyone.com...

If you're a writer and you haven't heard of Gerard Jones and his web site, everyonewhosanyone.com, please take the time to check it out. I've been following the things Mr. Jones has been doing for a while now. He's listed the most comprehensive guide to agents and publishers in the universe. He does what he wants to do and doesn't give a damn what anyone says or thinks.

EVERYONE WHO'S ANYONE
IN ADULT TRADE PUBLISHING,
NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, BROADCASTING
AND TINSELTOWN, TOO:

A Writer's Guide to The All-Pervasive Propaganda Network


I started following him by accident, after I found his web site through a google search maybe five or six years ago. At first I didn't get it. But when I figured out what Mr. Jones was doing, I've started going back more often. What I like most is there's no bullshit. What I like next is he's created a vauable list of resources for writers. And whether you like him or not, Mr. Jones doesn't screw around.

It's an interesting web site for all writers. Although literary agents and big publishers would rather no one knew about Mr. Jones, it's worth checking out. Here's a quote from the home page:

"...they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt
have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am
whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be
thee, nuncle..."


And here's another:

Nobody's gonna listen to it, of course. People only pay attention to the trivial drivel that keeps them stupid but so what? I did what I wanted to do. Here's the real book of Ginny Good (ISBN: 0972635750) in its entirety. You can buy it new for $16.95 (plus shipping) or you can read it online for free—yet another thing nobody's gonna do due to being brainwashed beyond belief by the uber-fascist media and entertainment monopoly. It includes the index to The Audio Book of GINNY GOOD, which is free, too—everything I do is free. Listen to a little and if you want the whole fifteen hour extravaganza on .mp3 CDs (including shipping), give me a mailing address and I'll send you a copy.

Patricia Heaton's Politics in Left Wing Hollywood...

This bothers me. It's not publishing related, but I'm posting about it anyway. Mainly because I'm starting to wonder what's happened to objectivity in America when decent people like Patricia Heaton are being discriminated against. I have liberal democrat friends, and believe it or not, many gay conservative friends who are republicans. I'm openly gay and don't judge anyone because of his/her politics, and I don't like it when anyone else does. It's just another form of discrimination and lack of tolerance.

If you read the article about Patricia Heaton carefully, you'll notice that Patricia is in favor of gay marriage, and yet she's still a conservative. Most of my conservative friends are for gay marriage, so I'm not shocked. And this is more than I've heard from the liberal democrats who are running the country right now. As a matter of fact, all I ever hear from Washington is, "Ahem, ah, ah, ah, I'm thinking it (gay marriage) over." In Hollywood, George Clooney goes on a public rant and then goes back to his Villa in Italy and we don't hear from him again until his next film needs to be promoted.

Here's the article, and here's the link...

Known around left-leaning Hollywood for her conservative stances on weighty issues like abortion and stem cells, 'Everybody Loves Raymond' star Patricia Heaton is happy to explain how important her Christian faith is to her and how it shapes her views and career choices.

"My feeling is all these things come from God and as long as I know I'm staying in line with Him, I don't have to worry if there is backlash," she told me during a visit to AOL's New York offices. "God will open any doors he wants to open and if he closes doors that's fine to."

Telling me that she has many gay friends and doesn't oppose gay marriage, Patricia gets frustrated being automatically lumped together with other conservatives, a characterization she says has cost her possible work.

"We know for a fact there are some people who have said they wouldn't want to work with us because of our politics," she said, with her husband David Hunt adding, "We get lumped in with lunatics."

So instead, Patricia has teamed up with her director-husband to produce and distribute their own show, 'Versailles,' a new 8-part comedy web series airing on My Damn Channel. Patricia plays a deceased B-movie actress whose presence looms large over her two children (one played by David) as they produce a public access talk show. Watch the first episode below.

"Around the house if he ties to tell me how to do something I say don't tell me, don't control me. But when we did this he was terrific as a director. I was nervous about having him direct me," Patricia tells me.

"I don't think I could have afforded her if we weren't married," David jokes. "I was a bigger star then she was when I met her. She owes me. I took a decade off my career to raise the kids. Plus, a big bonus is she gets to sleep with the director."

It wasn't until she hit 35 that Patricia's career really took and she spent years struggling and sleeping on friends' futons before 'Raymond' made her rich and famous.

She also isn't at all surprised that the Britneys and Lindsays of the world crash and burn being so success so young.

"Too much money and too many 'yes' people around you at early age. Fame didn't come to me until I got married and had kids. When we got married neither of us had anything," Patricia tells me. "I've let go of needing to be an to an actor so if that pipeline shuts down I wouldn't be upset. I'm perfectly happy."

Friday, May 20, 2011

DNF? ...WTF?

I had another Epiphany this week, one of those ah-ha moments Oprah and Gayle are always talking about. And it didn't involve a good looking guy in his twenties. This time it involved a negative book review I read...and...this thing called DNF.

First, I must have missed this one completely. I had no idea there were people reviewing books with a DNF rating. I saw DNF; I said WTF? Then I googled DNF and found out it means Did Not Finish.

So I said WTF again, and then finished reading the DNF book review (I DF-ed it :). I'm not mentioning names or links. One, because I don't want to offer the guilty any free publicity. Two, because I don't want to embarrass the author.

What I read wasn't a book review at all. It was either a book roast garnered to attract attention on a blog, or it was just some big mouth with an aggressive, annoying voice, bloviating. ( Bloviating = a long winded pompous discourse from someone trying to make a point...in my own defense, I knew this one; just not DNF)

After I finished reading the review, I did what I did the last time I read a review like this. I clicked over to amazon and bought the book. It never fails. Every single thing that made this particular reviewer knock the book, turned out to be the same thing that made me want to buy the book. This time the reviewer didn't shudder and cross her legs. But the gist of the review was the same.

This DNF thing passes me by completely. I'm thinking it's some sort of cutsie internet thing...like WTF and BFF...that catches on big time with those who don't lead very interesting lives. Maybe it's a way to validate underachievers? When I start a book, I persevere until I'm finished with the book, like I do with everything else in my life. I'm not a quitter. And if I don't finish a book I don't comment in public and review the book, nor would I be dumb enough to admit it in public. Besides, Authors are known to do interesting things as novels progress. I hated the beginning of "Freedom" by Joanthan Franzen. I felt like DNF-ing it in the third chapter, and kicking myself in the ASS for buying the book. But I continued and I'm glad I did. I wound up loving "Freedom." I don't believe it's possible to get the entire book until it's been fully read. I felt the same way about John Irving's, "Last Night in Twisted River." But I did finish, and wound up loving it.

I could go deeper with this post. The DNF review I read seemed to revolve around the reviewer's transparent problems with sexuality (or lack of knowledge when it comes to sex). I've seen that one before when it comes to erotic romance and erotica, and it's never pretty. The people who normally buy and read erotic romance and erotica, and love erotic romance and erotica, are a discreet crowd and they don't leave public book reviews anywhere. They don't even show their book covers. But they keep reading and enjoying. So there's very little to go by when it comes to book reviews for erotic romance and erotica, and unfortunately authors wind up with one or two DNF reviews...written by sexual invalids...that last on the Internet forever.

So those who do love erotica, trust me on this. The main point here is that I found a great book thanks to a DNF book review, and all's well that ends well. Check it out sometime if you don't believe me, especially if you like reading erotica and erotic romance. Nine times out of ten you'll find one of the best books you've ever read thanks to the sexual hang-ups and inadequacies of a book reviewer.

And, best of all, I learned what DNF meant. Cute.

Online Relationships, KT Grant's Wonderful Post, and Dealing with Online Rejection

This was only supposed to be a one post day, but I just finished reading a blog post by author KT Grant and wanted to share.

First, I'm a fan of KT's work, especially the book titled, SLEEPING WITH THE FRENEMY. If you're into well-written, steamy erotic romance, with a lot of description and detail, I think you'll like this. As I've stated many times before on this blog, I have eclectic taste and I don't only read (or write) m/m fiction. I didn't see any reviews on Amazon yet for KT's book...I could be wrong and they could be up now...and the only review I did see was written by someone I'd never take seriously. But I liked the book enough to recommend it. And as far as I'm concerned, that's all that really matters.

But back to KT's post today. Here's the link. Check it out if you've ever been involved in an online relationship that's gone sour for no apparent reason.

I've personally experienced both good and bad with online relationships. I began a wonderful online relationship with book reviewer Elisa Rolle about five or six years ago when I sent her a quick e-mail of thanks for a nice review she'd written about a story I had in an anthology published by either Cleis Press or Alyson Books (can't remember now). She replied to me, and since then we've both developed a nice friendship. And our friendship expanded from online to in-person one day when she was traveling through the states summer before last. We met, had lunch, and I have to admit it was nice meeting an online friend in person for a change. I hope to be meeting her for dinner again when she's in New York in a few months.

But I've also had online relationships go sour, too. I friended someone on facebook once and we developed a nice exchange. But then something happened...I won't go into details for obvious reasons...and this person starting stalking me with threats and hate letters. Creepy.

I even had a great online relationship once with someone that eventually went sour because we mutually disagreed over something. I felt bad about that one because I really liked and respected this person. But I put it aside and moved on. And then, about six months later, one thing led to another and we made up. Now we're best buddies again. So you never know.

But if you've experienced any serious rejection from online friends, especially for no apparent reason, check out KT's post. I think you'll gain a great deal of insight.

CDC Issues Warning


With all this talk about the end of the world coming on May 21st, I figured I'd better post this just in case. You never know.

Centers for Disease Control issue official guidelines to prepare for the world being taken over by... zombiesLast updated at 5:42 AM, 20 May 2011
The next time a decaying corpse approaches you in the street, you'll know what to do.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted guidance telling people what to do in a ‘zombie apocalypse’ - and they don’t advise shooting the walking dead.
A light-hearted blog post by the organisation said U.S. citizens should prepare an emergency kit and then look for a zombie-free refugee camp.
But the Zombie Apocalypse campaign has a serious side as it intends to familiarise Americans with disaster preparedness techniques for the hurricane season.
‘There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for,’ wrote infectious disease specialist Dr Ali Khan. ‘Take a zombie apocalypse for example.
‘You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.’
^topThe blog post drove so much traffic that it crashed the website on Thursday, and it came just days before an evangelist’s prediction of the May 21 ‘Judgment Day’.
‘If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you'll be prepared for all hazards,’ a CDC spokesman said.
The CDC said disaster preparedness involves putting together an emergency kit, coming up with an emergency plan and having two meet-up spots.
It recommends an emergency kit should include water, food, medication, battery-powered radio, a utility knife and vital documents.
‘Numerous studies have shown that uptake of preparedness messages has been minimal,’ Columbia University disaster preparedness expert Dr Irwin Redlener said.
‘We haven't gotten much above 10 of 15 per cent of the public being aware of the need for preparedness,’ he told ABC.
The word 'zombie' comes from the voodoo practice of spirit possession where zombies are stripped of consciousness.
Zombies became popular culture references after the 1968 horror film ‘Night of the Living Dead’, where flesh-eating zombies roam after radioactive contamination.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

E-Book Pirates, NellaBlue, and Something Called Demonoid

I've written a few posts about pirating e-books in the past. And I've personally come to the conclusion that the people who do it have their reasons, they believe in those reasons, and some are willing to justify those reasons. I've tried to remain objective with each post, hoping to understand the mindset behind pirating e-books...or pirating anything else for that matter.

And I'm going to remain objective in this post, too. I'm not going to make any personal comments or draw any personal conclusions. But I do know for a fact that many authors do have strong opinions about this, especially new authors. These are authors who are working full time jobs, juggling families, and writing books and stories in their spare time. They work long into the night. Editors work long into the night as well. It's not uncommon for me to get a revise for a new book at midnight. And these hard working people don't like to think they are working for nothing.

There are also a lot of readers who get annoyed at e-book pirates, too. I receive letters from them once in a while as well. These readers feel that if they can pay for the books they read, so should everyone else. And in many cases, the e-mails I receive about e-book pirating from readers who do pay for all their books are far more aggressive than the letters I get from authors. Readers are consumers, not just book fans, which is why I'm constantly mentioning product details about my own books here.

I often receive e-mails and private massages from other authors and readers informing me that my work is being downloaded for free at places like Demonoid. Here's one I recently received I thought I'd share:

Subject: Pirated e-books
Hi Ryan, I just wanted to give you a heads up. I don't know if you saw my recent post but someone named NellaBlue on Demonoid is offering four of your works for free download. I ranted about it on my wall but since the majority of the works listed are yours, I wanted to let you know ASAP.


I don't even know what "Demonoid" is. I stopped doing google alerts a long time ago because they crammed up my in-box. There's not much I can say in a reply to the person who sent me this message, other than thank you for letting me know. Evidently, the people who are reading my books on pirate sites are fans. If they aren't, I'd hate to think they are downloading my books illegally for any other reason.

To be perfectly honest, I can't say that I'm not flattered that some people are taking this chance to pirate my books. It's an interesting position for any author to be placed. But the fact remains...aside from my ego or anyone's opinion...that pirating anything on the Internet is illegal. At least it is as far as I know. I'm not talking about whether or not e-book pirating is right or wrong, or whether or not e-book pirating can be justified or not. That's an argument that will continue until the end of time. I'm just talking about the objective legal aspects here, not the emotional aspects.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cover Preview: THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE AND THE EVIL TWIN


I just received the cover for the newest book in THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE series. A few things have to be tweaked (the title is wrong). But I'm more than thrilled with the way it turned out. I never know exactly, and that's because I suck when it comes to cover art. But I do give detailed examples of what I'd like to see and the cover artist always seems to come through. I'll post more when I get a release date. This book in the series is told mostly from the POV of Luis Fortune's identical twin brother. But no one knows Luis has an identical twin brother, because he's kept most of his past a secret from everyone. But it all comes out in this book, including the reason why Luis and his twin don't get along well.

About This End of the World Thing on May 21st...

I saw this link on a social network and figured I'd share. Evidently, there's a guy on craigslist willing to help out those who believe the end of the world is near.

Rapture on May 21st? I would like your stuff (Suffolk County)


Are you attending the rapture on May 21st, 2011? I expect to be left behind when it happens, so if you aren't going to need your worldly possessions; be they money, cars, canned food, durable goods, etc; I would gladly take them off of your hands. Serious responses only, please. And remember, time is short! You can contact me by replying to this ad. I live in Ronkonkoma, But I'm willing to travel for said goods.

How Fast Authors Write and the Quality of Their Books

In almost twenty years, I have never come across two writers who have the same writing patterns. Some take months to write one sentence, others take seconds. Some take years to write one novel, others take weeks. I even know one author with several published novels at Alyson Books who writes a full length novel over the course of a weekend. And he's an excellent author!

Of course how fast you write also depends on life circumstances. Most writers carry full time jobs and have families. This makes it hard to write fast. Until the past four years, I owned two businesses and wrote part time. And I wasn't submitting nearly as many manuscripts as I am these days. But I always wrote fast. Even with the two businesses, I always set goals to make sure I was in at least ten anthologies a year. Editors appreciated this and they knew they could trust me.

Another factor that comes into play is how publishing has changed so much. Ten years ago the options were limited for all writers, especially for lgbt writers. Basically, the only option was to submit short stories for anthologies. The calls were posted early with six month deadlines...or longer. I can write a short story in a week, or less, which left writers like me very frustrated. And then once the short stories were submitted it took another year to get the anthologies published.

In "old" publishing, the process has always been long. The old joke has always been that publishing is the slowest industry in the world. In some cases it still is. I've been watching one young author who recently released a middle grade fiction book and it took well over a year to get that baby out on the book shelves. In the summers, "old" publishing basically shut down and went to Maine. This affected everyone, including writers like me who couldn't understand whether it was about a lack of work ethic or just plain inefficiency within the publishing industry. It was the same way when it came to holidays. "Old" publishing did not, and in some cases still does not, know the definition of a fast turnover. (Which is probably why many are scrambling right now.)

Since 2006, my summers have never been busier. The same goes for holidays. I marvel at friends who are still stuck in the "old" publishing mode and claim they have nothing to do in August. At this point, it's unfathomable to me. I'd have to open another business just to stay sane. I like work. I thrive on fast deadlines. And I've never been one to sit by the side of a pool and lounge doing nothing.

The reason I'm posting all this is because I ran across another dumb blog post yesterday, where the blogger suggested that authors who produce novels too fast may or may not be producing quality fiction. This is debatable, of course, and it would be hard to challenge a comment like this. There will always be some know-it-all who says something stupid like this and I've come to accept certain realities when it comes to bloggers.

But I also know this mind-set comes from a lack of experience and the blogger knows very little about the actual publishing experience. Unfortunately, her readers think she/he knows it all. But when you have the background, it's not hard to spot a fake. The ironic part here is that I've always questioned this blogger's ability to review and blog about the tons of books they discuss in the course of a week. We're talking four and five book reviews and blog posts a day, and supposedly the blogger has a demanding full time career. If anything, I find this questionable. And you'd think the blogger would know it's possible to produce quality work in a short amount of time just based on their own blogging and reading experience.

But smart bloggers like her/him also know how to spark debate and gain attention, which I have a feeling is the reason why this blogger makes these dumb comments. The bottom line here is this: all writers work at a different pace. And this has nothing to do with the quality of their work. If you really want to see the definition of ugly, force a slow writer to work at a faster pace. It won't be pretty. And the same goes for faster writers. If they had to contemplate the same sentence for more than a few minutes, they'd lose their minds.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

LGBT Fiction: Do Readers Have Standards?

In my blog travels, I came across an interesting blog post where an author seemed to be questioning reader standards with regard to LGBT Fiction. It wasn't the lightest blog post I've ever read. In fact, it was downright depressing.

Aside from the dark tone, I couldn't help get the impression the blogger was taking a quick snipe at books that are selling well, and also knocking the people who are writing, buying and reading them. There's an insinuation that reader standards have slipped and trash is selling better than so-called art. I've said it before; I've read it before by people who are far more important in the publishing industry than I'll ever be. There is no way to judge good writing objectively. If you think you can, you're either an idiot or a pompous ass. You can judge bad writing to a certain extent. But good writing is subjective and it depends on who is making the judgement call.

I also thought the blogger in this dark post somehow considered his/her own work superior to other authors. At least that seems to be the underlying tone. This is something I don't get either. Every single author I've ever read...in my life...is a unique individual, with a different style and voice. And for one author to believe he or she is superior to another author crosses the line of petty and competitive and plunges into the universe of childish and mean. Not everyone is going to love every book and that's a fact of life. This is where subjectivity comes in. Some readers will give a one star rating for certain books and a five star rating for others. This is called personal taste and it keeps things interesting. I've even had readers rate some of my books with one star and others with five stars, which, oddly enough, I truly appreciate. It tells me the readers and their ratings are real.

I've been writing m/m fiction for almost twenty years and I've seen a lot of changes happen in the last five years. I've seen obscure book review sites condemn authors they know nothing about, and I've seen more than a few nasty online flame wars between certain authors. The genre has opened up and there are more lgbt books, which means more authors are getting a chance to be published. But I haven't seen any changes in the quality of the books or the authors who are writing them. Cleis Press, with whom I've worked more than a few times on anthologies, is still publishing quality lgbt fiction and non-fiction. The newer e-publishers I've read are publishing as much quality fiction as the traditional publishers did. There are also quite a few self-published authors putting out some great fiction, too. How can this be a bad thing?

Maybe I'm looking at it as an openly gay man, who writes with his real name, isn't ashamed to admit what he does in public, and learned a long time ago he can't please everyone. I've also learned that the secret to enjoying what I do is to keep it authentic. Although everything I write is pure fiction, I draw from personal experience as a gay man all the time. And I never looked at the lgbt genre as a "thing" or an "entity" that has the ability to make me or break me as an author. It's what I am.

I don't get why any author would get upset over reader standards, with regard to books that are selling well. Unless that author considers his/her work so far above everything else they feel a sense of bitter entitlement. For me that takes too much negative energy out of the day. I'd rather keep writing stories I love, hoping other people will love them too. Pardon the cliche, but it's so much nicer to think of the glass as half full than half empty.

Cover Preview: "Babycakes"


Here's a cover preview for the newest upcoming release. As I stated in a recent post, this is a short story e-book and will be priced around 2.00. It's set in the Daintree Forest in Australia, and the main character is from the fictional town I created years ago called, Martha Falls. And it's more along the lines of erotica than romance. But there's a strong storyline with a lot of back story woven into the plot.

Big thanks to Dawne Dominique, cover artist!!You can google her. She does covers and all kinds of great things.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Releases and Upcoming Publications...And Product Details


The past month has been extremely busy here. I'll have two new novels being released, and one short story e-book that I'll post about as it happens. I'm posting this information now because I've had a lot of people on FB ask when the next book in the Virgin Billionaire series is coming out. And don't ask if the photo to the left is really me or not. I get questions like that a lot, and I'll never admit to it (smile). I did pose once as an underwear model, but that's for another post. The photo in the blog profile is me, however, for all those who keep asking. I don't change it often because I think keeping things the same causes far less confusion.

Next Book: THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE AND THE EVIL TWIN ...I'm not sure when, but it should be out within the next couple of weeks. I'm waiting for the edits right now.

After that: Full length novel, HIS TUSCAN EMBRACE


And then the short story is titled, BABYCAKES.

The next VB book and HIS TUSCAN EMBRACE are both m/m erotic romance. One is about the complicated relationships between identical twin brothers and the other is about finding out there's still hope for love after your perfect life comes crashing down around you.

The short story, BABYCAKES, isn't romance. This is erotica and it's not trying to be anything other than erotica. I like to make this clear at all times, so readers aren't mistaken when they buy my books. I know other authors who do the same thing with their books, because they don't like to see readers disappointed. And it's why we all...all the authors I know...go out of our way to explain these little things on our web sites and blogs.

I once saw a romance reviewer state that she never looks at author blogs before she reads and reviews a book because she doesn't want to be influenced. She wants the reading experience to be spontaneous. And that's all well and good, but it's also a little presumptuous. I talk about product details here on this blog and I'm not interested in influencing anyone. Mainly because the product details on most e-book web sites are sketchy at best and I like to explain things more for the reader.

Querying and Literary Agency Guidelines...

Here's a facebook status I saw a minute ago and wanted to post something about it. I see these things all the time and they frustrate me up the wall.

No matter how close attention I pay to all the different agency submission guidelines, I inevitably botch one of them.

I get frustrated because I have a very good, longtime friend, who has been a successful literary agent for well over thirty years, and when I tell him the things I see and hear authors talking about, and how they stress out over writing queries, he's absolutely stunned. I also get frustrated because so many won't believe me and they'll believe other things they read on the web and continue to stress out even more.

I know there are blogs and web sites that focus on writing query letters until the freaking cows come home. I don't know why they do this to the point of overkill, but they do. Sometimes I think it's just part of their shtick, other times I think they do it to gain web presence and followers.

But all I can say is that most literary agents care about one thing: what the book is about. Again, it's all about the book you're trying to sell. At least that's what I hear from my best friend, and he's been around for a long time. He doesn't have much of a web presence, he doesn't go to conferences and give query seminars, and he doesn't care how you spell his name. Other than his agency web site, where he posts a few very short paragraphs about submission guidelines, he basically asks authors to keep it short and to the point and to tell him what their books are about.

If you get the short description of the book right, you can't "botch" the query up. And if you query an agent who is more worried about what font you used instead of the good, concise book description you wrote, you might want to re-think whether or not you want to work with a person like that in the first place.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Roger McDowell: "I Would Like To Apologize" (I Think To the LGBT Community, But I'm Not Sure)


I've posted before about professional athletes hurling anti-gay slurs in a piece about Kobe Bryant, here. But this article about Roger McDowell is rich. It's the good 'ole boys at their finest. It seems Mr. McDowell allegedly used anti-gay slurs against San Francisco Giants fans and he's been going to "sensitivity training." And now he's apologizing.

I think he's apologizing to the lgbt community, but I'm not certain. According to the quotes below, he apologized to the fans he insulted, not the entire lgbt community.

WTF? He's going to sensitivity training? No one sent Helen Thomas to sensitivity training. No one sent Imus to sensitivity training after what he said. In fact, if a public figure were to fling a slur at any other minority in this country they'd lose their jobs and there would be zero tolerance. But when someone...and it could be anyone...trashes gays he/she gets off with a pat on the wrist and they go to sensitivity training. And the lgbt community is supposed to accept the apology as if nothing ever happened?

I'm posting the article below, along with a link. And frankly I couldn't care less whether Roger McDowell apologizes, goes to sensitivity training, or joins the priesthood searching for absolution for what he allegedly said. How he feels and what he thinks is totally insignificant to me. What I'd like to see is a change in the double standards, especially when it comes to public figures. I would be willing to bet that if Mr. McDowell had made these alleged slurs against any other minority, it wouldn't have turned out like this. Just take a look at what happened to Mel Gibson.

I'll be the first to admit that we've become a little too PC these days. I'm afraid to wish someone a Merry Christmas for fear of offending them. But outright slurs against any minority should not go unpunished. There should be zero tolerance and the people who do it should be put on display as an example. Because when I hear an apology like the one Mr. McDowell made for his alleged slurs, it's nothing more than blah, blah, blah. Roger McDowell goes back to collecting a huge paycheck and it means nothing at all. And it's yet another kick in the face to the entire lgbt community, to families of the lgbt community, and to the friends of the lgbt community.

Instead of apologizing, Mr. McDowell should show how sensitivity training has changed him instead of telling us about it with a half-assed public apology. Start supporting the lgbt community in one small way, Mr. McDowell. Show that you're sorry. Don't just blow smoke up our asses and expect us to sit back and take it with a smile. And frankly, I'd like to know a few more details about this so-called sensitivity training McDowell went to. Once again, we're given vague details by a failing mainstream media and we're supposed to believe it.

Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell apologies for anti-gay remarks.

Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell addressed a small group of reporters today at Turner Field on his first day back to the club after a two-week suspension handed down by Major League Baseball after McDowell allegedly using anti-gay slurs against San Francisco Giants fans last month.

McDowell was also accused of threatening Justin Quinn, a father of twin daughters, who asked him to watch his language in front of children at the April 23 game at San Francisco AT&T Park. Quinn made the allegations against McDowell in a press conference with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.

McDowell did not use the word “gay” at any time during the press conference nor did he admit or deny the allegations. He did, however, apologize again for his actions and said that kind of behavior would not happen again.

“Needless to say I’m glad back to be with the Braves and I would like to thank the organization for the support over the last couple weeks,” McDowell read from a prepared statement before taking questions.

“These past two weeks … have been very humbling, emotional and a reflective time for me and my family to better understand about what has happened,” McDowell said, appearing to be tearful and pausing while he read.

“I have and will continue to learn from this and am committed to being a productive member of the Atlanta Braves organization and this coaching staff,” he added.

“In addition I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions. I am not proud of the way I acted and know that will not happen again,” he said. “I understand the responsibility that we all have in this game.”

When asked what he would like to say to gay Braves fans, McDowell said, “Well, I would like to apologize — if anyone was offended by my actions that occurred in San Francisco. My intent was not to hurt anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. I apologize for that.”

McDowell also acknowledged he has undergone sensitivity training and that it is an ongoing process. He declined to say what specifics were being discussed as part of the training, saying the issues were “private.”

McDowell said he spoke on the telephone with Quinn sometime during the past two weeks to personally apologize. He also said that conversation was private.

When asked if McDowell felt his side of the story was fairly represented, he said there was no reason to rehash what may or may not have been said because it would not be productive.

Braves President John Schuerholz appeared at the press conference with McDowell, saying he was glad to have the coach back

Friday, May 13, 2011

How Much Can you Get Away With In Romance?

I'm reading a new novel right now and loving every single page. I'm not going to mention the title because I'm not finished and I'm not going to review it anyway. But this isn't a romance novel and there are no sex scenes at all. It's more contemporary fiction leaning toward literary, with a strong character study. At least that's how some would classify it in a bookstore.

What I really find amazing is that the two main characters...a married couple...are first cousins. It's not a sexy book, but they have a child so they've obvious had sex. Like so much in literary fiction, when it comes to sex, the sex between these two characters is assumed with caution and never mentioned aloud.

I've never done this in any of my books. But I've seen m/m romance novels where brothers fell in love with each other. I've seen m/m romance novels where first cousins fell in love. I've even read reviews and blog posts about whether or not it's taboo for a widow to marry her dead husband's brother, and they aren't even related. If it's treated with care, it can be extremely emotional. But I've also seen mixed reviews for these books. They seem to leave some readers absolutely frustrated beyond belief. And these readers (and reviewers) aren't shy regarding their disgust for incest in their reviews.

In this post, I'm not commenting on brothers falling in love with brothers, or first cousins falling in love with first cousins. I'm not even commenting about the reviewers who are appalled at incest in romance novels. Everyone has a right to an opinion and I'm remaining objective. But I am wondering why the focus, for some readers, would be on incest in a romance novel, and in the literary fiction I'm reading right now I haven't read one single review or comment about the incest. This is an older book and there are tons of reviews for it. The fact that these characters are first cousins is completely ignored. The focus is on the storyline and nothing else. If anything, first cousins sleeping with each other is treated more like a peculiar quirk than a taboo.

Which leads me to wonder how much a romance novelist can get away with compared to an author who writes contemporary/literary fiction. Evidently, as long as you don't have any sexy scenes between relatives in fiction it's okay to write about it? Is there a double standard?

$199.00, Used? For THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE, My Book?

Okay. I'm not understanding this at all. I clicked over to amazon to see if the digital version of THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE was still selling for the same price. Two of my books are .99 e-books, and I wanted to see if VB had been reduced. And when I got there I found out someone is selling the used paperback version of VB for $199.00.

Seriously!

I have to be missing something. The book, sold "new" in print, is something like $12.99. And why anyone would try to sell...or why anyone would purchase the used book...for almost two hundred bucks leaves me shaking my head.

If you don't believe me, here's the link. And below is what I copied and pasted from amazon.

And, just so it's clear, I have nothing to do with this. I make no money on used books sold on amazon and if someone sells one of my books for two hundred bucks, I don't get a cut. Frankly, the idea of used books, to me, has always been to get them cheaper, not to pay more. I buy used books all the time myself, especially when I'm re-reading something I've already purchased new before.

I'm assuming this price for VB is a mistake?

The Virgin Billionaire (Paperback)
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Excerpt From "His Tuscan Embrace" Soon to be Published

I'm working on a new book, HIS TUSCAN EMBRACE, and I'm having a little trouble getting chapter four right. So I decided to post an excerpt here before I submit the book to the publisher, hoping to gain a different perspective by seeing it in published form.

Chapter Four

When Joey King first moved to New York, he arrived a virgin. He’d grown up in a small town in Southern New Jersey, a place called Cowtown that was actually part of the rodeo circuit. And when a gay person grows up in a place called Cowtown, surrounded by farms, tobacco chewing cowboys, and little white country churches, where the most impressive home in the entire town is the funeral parlor and the most scandalous topic of conversation is the occasional divorce, there aren’t many opportunities to meet other young gay men.

Joey learned how to survive by keeping a low profile and following those unspoken small town rules. When he heard the guys in school laughing about fags, he either pretended to laugh along with them or he turned his head and pretended he wasn’t paying attention. In high school, when he changed in the boys’ locker room, he moved fast and kept his eyes focused on his own locker. He couldn’t say he had a terrible experience growing up like other gay men he knew. In other words, he fit in so well he was never personally bullied nor was he ever abused by anyone. In fact, most of the guys liked him and the small town girls were constantly flirting with him. This was partly because of his easy going personality, and partly because he was terrified of what might happen if anyone discovered he liked men more than he liked women. He never forgot what happened to that one effeminate young guy who went to the small Catholic Church in town. This guy was always running around with the priests, sashaying through town in his long black alter boy dress, smiling and waving at everyone he passed. And then one day he shot himself and no one ever knew why. Joey King had his own suspicions. And that’s why he left that town and never looked back the day after he graduated from high school.

It wasn’t easy getting started in New York, with nothing but a suitcase filled with clothes, a few small personal items and a wallet that contained three thousand dollars he’d managed to save by working as a sales clerk part time for a country western boot shop in Cowtown. He stayed at the Chelsea Hotel for a few nights, and then he answered a roommate ad in The Village Voice to share a small studio in The East Village near Chinatown, on Broome Street. Within the same week, he found a job working as a bar tender in a gay bar so he could pay his rent and meager living expenses. He got into female impersonating by sheer accident. Six months after he answered the ad for the studio apartment, his roommate moved out in the middle of the night and left him with nothing but a stack of dirty underwear and a trunk filled with drag costumes.

Facebook's Rules About Promoting

I saw this on FB and figured I'd share on the blog. Most of what I see on FB is promotion, so I don't totally get it. When I post almost anything on facebook, I'm usually linking directly from this blog. And since this blog isn't for profit, I assume it's not considered promotional. But there are gray areas I'm not sure I understand. I've never held a contest or asked for money. And if I'm not supposed to do what I've been doing for so long, why is there a link on google blogger to FB. I'm assuming this has more to do with contests and marketing promotions, not bloggers. But if I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

Frankly, all I see on FB are promotions for one contest or another. I get e-mail updates and notifications constantly from people I don't know and never will know. I don't mind. It takes a second to click "delete," and sometimes there's a promotion I am interested in reading about. And if everyone stopped promoting on FB the only thing FB would have left would be status updates about someone's Aunt Nancy, what Betty Jane made for dinner, and how grampa just passed his kidney stone.

I'm not certain whether or not this falls under the stipulations stated below, but last year I did see something questionable on FB that left me wondering. A guy from New York, who happens to have a well known brother in local TV news in the Philadelphia area, was promoting himself as a musician and hocking people for donations. It was like this weird fundraiser...for HIMSELF. I didn't like that. And I promptly clicked "unfriend," but last I saw he made a nice little bag of loot from facebook, through virtual strangers, that added up to thousands of dollars.

Promotions Guidelines

Date of Last Revision: May 11, 2011

These Promotion Guidelines, along with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the Ad Guidelines, the Platform Policies and all other applicable Facebook policies, govern your communication about or administration of any contest, competition, sweepstakes or other similar offering (each, a "promotion") using Facebook.

If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion, you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these Guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.

Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.

Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a. A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b. Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c. Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.

You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.

You may not use Facebook’s name, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, or any other intellectual property in connection with a promotion or mention Facebook in the rules or materials relating to the promotion, except as needed to fulfill your obligations under Section 2.

Definitions:
a. By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
b. By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.
c. By “contest” or “competition” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner determined on the basis of skill (i.e., through judging based on specific criteria).
d. By “sweepstakes” we mean a promotion that includes a prize of monetary value and a winner selected on the basis of chance.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What To Do When You Get a Snippy E-Mail From Someone's Assistant...

I had to share this today. I had an "experience" with a celebrity's assistant this morning that was priceless. I'm not sharing because I care much about it, but I think it's interesting the way people can be so absolutely rude these days.

I may or may not have stated on this blog that I used to do editorial work for a few writers. Three years ago I stopped to focus completely on my own fiction, but I kept one client with me because I love his work and I enjoy editing for him. He writes spiritual/new age (not religious) books, and all of his work is channeled through what he calls "spirit guides." (Take that for what it's worth: I've learned not to question anything that can't be proven right or wrong.) He doesn't have a platform, he isn't interested in becoming rich and famous through his writings, and he writes because the guides are constantly giving him information. I enjoy editing and reading his work...even though my own time is limited these days...and charge him one dollar a page. If he didn't insist, I'd do it for free. He's older, he doesn't have e-mail, and the Internet is completely foreign to him.

And when I see something on the Internet where I think his work might be a good fit, so to speak, I usually submit something on his behalf. I don't do this for profit, promotion, or any kind of recognition. I remain in the background at all times. It's simply a way to pay it forward and to share information for free, so other people can benefit from his work the same way I have. And my writer friend is all for this. He's 76 years old and loves knowing that he might be helping other people with his spiritual work.

So last week I saw a celebrity web site (Shirley Maclaine's) where they asked for submissions from writers on various topics, including spiritual. This is a well known celebrity who has been around the film industry for a long time, and also the publishing industry. I thought this web site would be a great place to submit my friend's work; just to see if they were interested in sharing it. And they were asking for submissions, so I contacted them about guidelines. I thought I made it clear that this wasn't about promoting or marketing books...especially my own books. First, it would be stupid for me to promote erotic m/m romance on a spiritual web site, and I'm not an idiot. Second, my 76 year old writer friend is more interested in sharing his work than he is in selling or promoting his work.

Evidently, the snippy assistant didn't understand. She replied with a snippy e-mail informing me they didn't promote books. And I wondered WTF she was talking about. I never mentioned anything about promotion or marketing. So I replied, with an explanation in no uncertain terms, that this was not about promoting books...or anything else...and if I did submit my friend's work..for him, not me...it would only be to share his work. Period.

I could have been nasty. I could have been just as snippy as she was. If I had an assistant like this, I'd sit her down and show her how to send a civil response...especially if I were a celebrity who is always complaining about how rude the world is in her latest book. I'm not interested in gaining anything by submitting my friend's work, and neither is my friend. So I decided to remain polite, repeat my intentions in detail, and leave it at that. Whether or not she gets it, is up to her. And, I'm no amateur when it comes to submitting to publishers or agents. I've been doing it all my life and I know exactly how to do it.

After thinking about it, I may not even bother to submit his work to this celebrity web site. I had bad vibes and didn't like the energy. And if you have to work with a snippy assistant for nothing, it's probably not worth it. I might just start posting my friend's work here on my own blog once in a while. I know the two genres don't go together...they are night and day. But I think my readers are open-minded enough to appreciate some nice, quiet spiritual, non-religious, writings that may or may not help them out with some things in their lives.