Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jon Fleming: Violence of the Mind


I received a notification the other day that looked interesting. This surprised me because most notifications don't interest me much. But this one was from Jon Fleming. The notification directed me to this link on facebook.

You can also find out more about Jon Fleming at this FB link.

You can follow him on twitter here.

If this isn't enough, check him out here, too.

The reason why I'm posting about Jon right now is because he sent me a film clip with info about "Violence of the Mind," and it blew me away. It was so good I watched it three more times.

Here's the most basic info I can post about right now:

When Sebastian Youngstrum (Ryan Kibby) meets the older, handsome Max Taymer, (Jon Fleming) a forbidden world awakens in the mind of the young man. The line between fantasy and reality is blurred when experimentations in taboo sex go too far. Sebastian wants more and Max is more than willing to lead him down the path of torture, pain and even murder.

Here's a link that will take you to the film clip I'm talking about. Trust me on this, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Fred Karger: Openly Gay Presidential Candidate Still Running


As I write post this, Fred Karger, an openly gay man, is still running for President of the United States.

According to this e-mail I received earlier today:

I have known Fred for 20 years and have watched him closely the last two years as he has crisscrossed this country dozens and dozens of times as a candidate for President. He is constantly fighting the good fight for so many of us.

Today Fred is celebrating his 62nd birthday in Detroit – 2,200 miles away from home. In fact, he has been campaigning all over Michigan this past week for the February 28th Michigan Primary. Fred is one of only 6 candidates still running who will be on the Michigan ballot.

I asked him this morning what he would like for his birthday, and he replied, “I could sure use a contribution to our campaign. We need to make our Michigan commercials and buy TV time here right away.”

I thought I would surprise Fred with a $62.00 contribution to “Fred Karger for President.” I hope that you will contribute too and celebrate all that he has done.

Let’s surprise Fred by raising $10,000 today! Please send in $62.00, or whatever you can afford to make this a very happy birthday for our friend.

Thank you for your support.


Here's the link if you are so inclined to contribute. This is Fred Karger's web site and you can also read more about him there.

Another Agent Going Digital: Nelson Literary Agency

Last July I wrote a post titled, Are Literary Agents Going Country? Basically, it was about how literary agents are not only embracing digital books now, but how they are actively getting involved in digital publishing themselves.

And now the Nelson Literary Agency just made this announcement. They call it evolving. Sounds to me more like another one went country.

I have no strong comments to offer. It's an honest post.

I don't even have a huge opinion to offer. I believe authors need to take responsibility for themselves and make their own decisions. But I do know this: if you are an author and you want to get a back listed book out in digital format, or you are an author and you want to self-publish a digital book, you don't need an agent to do this for you. You can skip the fees and do it yourself.

In fact, I have a very good friend who has been self-publishing his own books on Amazon. He used to be an editorial client and I had to stop editing his books because I didn't have time. But I may start a series of blog posts about his experience in self-publishing through Amazon, and I won't charge a dime for it...and I won't ask you to sign anything so I can get a commission. I may even make this a top priority for this coming year. Evidently, a lot of authors don't know much about self-publishing, including me.

Jonathan Franzen Claims E-Books "May" Be Bad for Society


First, the article to which I'm linking sounds as though it almost wants Mr. Franzen to hate e-books. But after reading his comments in full I didn't walk away with that impression. His comments and opinions read more like what I hear from many people about e-books: they just aren't sure about them yet.

This is understandable. I felt the same way about e-books five years ago. Because I couldn't hold a tangible item in my hands...a physical print book...it didn't seem as relevant to me. From what I hear, this is allegedly a huge problem with book pirates in Russia. They can't hold and feel the digital books so they think nothing of pirating them to see if they want to buy the print books.

Oddly enough, Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM was, indeed, one of the last print books I read, and might possibly ever read. I'm not joking when I say this either. The thought of going back and reading a print book, especially a huge print book like FREEDOM, makes my stomach tighten.

Here's a small excerpt from the article with Franzen:

“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change."

Once again, I thought along these same line, too...at one time. But the moment I bought my first digital reader, a Kobo basic e-reader in e-ink, I was absolutely amazed at how much it felt like a book. In fact, for me it was almost an old fashioned experience. And, for the record, Kobo does not pay me to endorse them.

I now read everywhere and take my entire library with me. After having published over 84 works of fiction, I've experienced eye strain and can't see a thing without reading glasses. I'm forty and I worry about the future of my eyes. My e-reader made a world of difference. I can adjust the print to suit my needs. I don't have to strain anymore. Since I switched to digital books I've read in medical offices, hospitals, car dealerships, on public transportation, and on the beach. Before digital books, I had to set time aside to read, which always bothered me because I don't have that much time to spare.

Here's another comment by Franzen those who are unfamiliar with e-books often make:

“Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing - that’s reassuring."

People will always care about printed books. I still do. They are just going to care in a different way. I fully understand the feeling of holding a printed book in a specific time and place. However, when I started reading my first e-book on my first basic e-reader, it shocked me at how this feeling remained the same. I didn't feel cheated. I didn't feel as if what I was reading was anything less than if it had been printed in hard copy. And the fact that I didn't have to take it off a shelf reassured me even more, especially when I grasped the magnitude of the fact that I can, without hassles or sitting in traffic, buy any book I want with just one simple click. I like this power as a reader. I like knowing I have this power. I also like knowing I don't have to suffer through the screams and yells of kids running around large brick and mortar bookstores that sell toys and stuffed animals.

Franzen added this:

“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”

Once again, I "get" it. This is something I would have said, with both pride and attitude, five years ago. And at that time, I was actually writing digital books. You can imagine my own personal dilemma. Here I was writing them and getting them published and I didn't know the first thing about how people were reading them. After reading the quotes in this article by Franzen, I have to admit that I do take a small amount of satisfaction in knowing I once felt the same way he feels now. In other words, I can't blame the guy. (But this could also be due to the fact that I love his work so much he can do no wrong.)

I've read both FREEDOM and THE CORRECTIONS by Franzen. I posted about FREEDOM, here, last February...almost a year to the date I'm writing this post. I loved both books. I love the way Franzen writes. I'm not going to get into anything else because this isn't a review. But the one thing I regret is that I didn't read FREEDOM in digital. I would have enjoyed it more because I wouldn't have had to deal with a huge bulky book in my hands. I did, however, buy the digital version for my digital library at a later date. I might not read it again for a long time, but I know it's there and I can whenever I want. I now have three digital reading devices that range from e-ink to a tablet. They are all hooked up together and I now have three digital copies of FREEDOM. I can't take them down from a shelf; all I have to do is press a button.

I have no regrets about joining the digital age of publishing, as a reader or a published author who's been around for a long time. It's only improved the quality of my life. But I would have argued that point to the bitter end five years ago.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cheaterville: A Web Site for Adultery


Someone told me about this web site called "Cheaterville," and I figured I'd post a link. I don't know much about it, so I'm not commenting one way or the other.

Except for this: Last week I linked to a post written by this guy who not only knocks the romance genre, but also feels as though he's somehow above it. I'm not mentioning his name in this post. I don't want to give him that kind of attention again. But check out the post, and below is a quote from his post.

After my last post about, not only the dreadful writing associated with romance novels, but the often deadly message they bring glorifying everything from adultery to incest,

Once again, I find it interesting to read something like this, especially when most romance novelists and readers stay away from books with adultery.

In any event, check out "Cheaterville." And if you know someone who is cheating on his or her spouse/partner, you might want to examine it even further.

Someone once asked me if gay couples consider it cheating if they've been together for a long time and they aren't legally married. I had to laugh, as if being legally married is where the line is drawn for cheating. I replied with the question: Do straight couples who aren't married and consider themselves in a monogamous relationship consider it cheating when one of them has an affair? What about engaged straight couples?

Unless there is some kind of an open relationship with an agreement where everyone is happy, it works just the same way for gays as it does straights. The sad fact is that people who cheat were wired that way from birth. Most go to their graves this way. I have no problem with open relationships and anything you want as long as both parties in the relationship agree to it. But I have very little tolerance for cheaters and sneaks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things Authors Should Know About Social Media


I ran across an interesting blog post titled, 25 Things You Should Know About Social Media. You can get there from here.

I agree with most of the things in this post, especially this one:

Writers are content creators, and so it behooves us to share what we love. You’re generally better off showing positivity rather than sowing the seeds of negativity. For the most part, the Internet is a monster that thrives the rage of countless disaffected white people, so I don’t know that it does a writer good to be a part of that noise. Your audience cares more about what you’re into rather than what you’re not. After all, I don’t particularly care for a lot of things. Most things, really. If I spent all my time talking about them, I’d be little more than a septic social fountain spewing my bitter froth into the world.

I'm going to add my own comment here. In some cases, I have seen writers get immediate attention with social media by being extremely aggressive, insulting, and negative. I've seen them get into flame wars and bitter confrontation...in public for all to witness. And yes, they do get attention for a while. But I've also seen that after people listen to them rant long enough, they grow tired and forget all about them eventually. I have never once seen anyone who does things simply for shock value survive. One of the things authors need to know is that you're in this for the duration, at least you're supposed to be. And if you attract a huge following in the beginning based on shock value and negativity, you might wind up regretting it in the end.

And for me, one of the biggest turn offs is when I see authors discussing politics too much...unless of course you have a viable political platform. But if you don't have a political background or platform, I don't care which end of the political spectrum you're on. Niether does anyone else.

This is a good one, too. It's well put, in plain English:

Show the World You're Not a Raging Bonerhead
The Internet is like hot dogs: it’s made of lips and assholes. A writer does well to set himself aside from all that and use social media to reveal that he is, indeed, not a giant bucket of non-contributing human syphilis.

Here's another link, titled The 18 Most Annoying People on Facebook. This one is a little more difficult because we've all probably been guilty of one or two of these things in the past. But that doesn't mean we have to continue to make the same mistake time and again.

Cover Preview: Unmentionable: The Men Who Loved on the Titanic


I just received the cover art for my new historical with Loveyoudivine.com, Unmentionable: The Men Who Love on the Titanic.

Here's a a blurb, below. And here's a link to read a preview excerpt. I'll post more about the release date soon.

One hundred years ago on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on its way to New York. Though it had been considered unsinkable by all standards, it went down in the cold waters of the Atlantic, taking with it stories of love and romance that weren’t discussed openly in those days. This was especially true with stories of love between two men. One of those hidden stories of the Titanic dealt with the unyielding love and strong romance between a young man named Liam and his older lover, Oliver. Because Oliver was a wealthy business man in America with a great deal of notoriety, the only safe way to bring Liam aboard the Titanic was to dress him in fine women’s clothing and claim he was Oliver’s shy, distant cousin returning to America for the first time in many years. They finally begin to relax when they realize that everyone on the ship believes Liam is a woman, until that fateful night on April 14th when destiny intervened and changed their lives forever.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

NYT Article on the Conditions Under Which Apple Employees Work

I posted about how I'm not the biggest fan of Apple for various reasons, earlier this week, here.

Here's a link a friend told me about. It's an article in the NYT about how Apple employees are treated in China and the conditions under which they work.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms.

Interesting how a company with such huge earnings could treat human beings this way.

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

You can get there from here.

Interesting Article on How Gay Men and Straight Women Write M/M Erotica


I pilfered this from Lori Perkins' facebook wall earlier today. I wanted to "share" but sometimes they won't let you do that on FB. Before you click to the link and read the article, take into consideration this is a clinical piece and it's written from a clinical POV. I agree with some of it, in the sense that newer writers tend to do these things...both men and women.

But what the author of this article is leaving out is that writers, both men and women, grow with time. I have never seen an author who writes now the same way he did ten years earlier. They expand and get better with practice and they don't like to repeat themselves. This is especially true for prolific authors. I've been in publishing a lot longer than this guy has been doing clinical studies and I've seen the way writers grow. So it's hard to pinpoint any of these concepts as fact unless you know and understand the genre of m/m erotica fully from an author's POV.

It's an interesting article anyway. You can get there from here. And I'll post an excerpt below.

For many years, psychologists presumed that gay male sexuality was similar to female sexuality. Both gay men and heterosexual women like men, of course. But are there other similarities? One way we might approach this question is by comparing erotic stories written by women and gay men.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Virgin Billionaire's Reversal of Fortune - All Romance Ebooks

I have no idea how the star system works on allromanceebooks.com. But they gave me one for this ninth book in The Virgin Billionaire series and it's nice to see the series still resonates. I'm finishing up the tenth book in the series right now and I have a feeling this might be the final installment. It's going to be difficult for me to let go of Jase and Luis. I've grown so used to having them in my life for the past few years I get emotional thinking about it. But everything comes to an end sooner or later. And considering I never even planned on doing a series I consider myself lucky to have gone through the experience.

And I'd like to thank all the readers who made it possible.



The Virgin Billionaire's Reversal of Fortune - All Romance Ebooks

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apple's Massive Earnings...

Apple reported huge earnings. Although I have an iPhone, I've never been a huge Apple fan. Mainly because I don't like the conrol, nor do I like the basic mindset on which Apple was built.

I do, however, have the utmost respect for what they do and how they do it. My mom is an Apple fan and she now goes to the Apple store to drive the Apple people crazy instead of me when she has a problem. The associates at the Apple store are always more than willing to help.

I've always found that Apple was best at marketing, which is why their earnings are so good. This alone is priceless:

A Goldman Sachs analyst questioned whether Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet--and other low-cost iPad alternatives like it--might actually be turning people on to Apple's iPad or making an impact on Apple's sales.

"In terms of our competitiveness, the ecosystem for iPads is in a class by itself," Cook said. "I think people really want to do multiple things with their tablet, and therefore, we don't really see these limited-function tablets and e-readers [as] being in the same category."


First, I own two e-readers and I prefer dedicated e-reading devices when I'm reading. I don't want distractions.

Second, I own a Nextbook Premium 8 tablet and it does everything and more than some basic iPads do. I paid far less for my Nextbook and I have no complaints whatsoever. So I'm not exactly sure what Apple is talking about with "ecosystms" and "classes." This sounds more like marketing hype than actual fact. The only thing missing from that answer was "research says," and "studies prove."

But they know what they are doing at Apple, especially when it comes to people who don't understand technology and they want things to be simple. They also know all about status and class peer pressure, and how seriously some people cling to those things.

I might even think about buying an iPad someday. But only if the prices came down. I can think of far better ways I can spend my money...like making an extra mortgage payment to pay down my home, or just putting that money in the bank for a rainy day...than buying something that costs three times the price of what something else can do just as well.

There's an old saying about money I try to live by:

"It's as important to learn how to make money as it is to learn how to hold on to it."

Review: "Fairytale Interrupted" by Rosemarie Terenzio


When I read excerpts of "Fairytale Interrupted," in People Magazine last week I made a note to check it out. But when I went to Amazon earlier this week and read the only six reviews left so far I wasn't too thrilled with what I saw. Almost half were one star reviews, with reasons why the readers didn't like the book. The rest were rave reviews that sounded way to trite for my taste in memoir.

So I almost went against all the advice I give to readers about vetting reviews and books and passed on "Fairytale Interrupted." I usually check out the information on amazon, but then go to Kobo to order the digital version because I have two Kobo reading devices and a Nextbook tablet. Part of the reason I almost passed was because of the questionable reviews, and part was because of the price...$11.99...which crossed my line when it comes to digital books.

I stopped short and decided to read the free digital excerpt on Amazon. The reviews kept bothering me; they didn't sound right compared to the great excerpts I'd read in People Magazine. I also figured that I'd never pay that price for an erotic anthology edited by someone who isn't an editor and written by people who are new authors. But I would pay full digital price for memoirs that revolved around names like John Kennedy Jr., depending on what I find while vetting the book.

So I opened the Amazon excerpt and started reading the prologue. I should also admit that I'm not a huge fan of prologues...anywhere...and usually skip right over them. This time, however, the minute I started reading I couldn't stop. After the prologue, I read part of the first chapter. And after that, I went over to Kobo and bought the book. I wound up reading it in almost one sitting.

One reason the book resonated with me is because I felt close to the author in more than one way. I'm a writer who worked in publishing in the 1990's as an associate editor, I lived in a small studio, and I remember the feeling of excitement within the publishing industry regarding the Internet. This was also pre-911 and Manhattan...and the world...was a different place.

Another reason the book resonated with me is because of John Kennedy. While I was still in college, I went into New York to visit my brother for the weekend. At the time, he lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side, which was very trendy at the time. I'm not sure if Kennedy still lived there then, but a lot of celebs did and it was an exciting place to be for a few years. This is one of the reasons why I set my own book, The Virgin Billionaire, on the Upper West Side. We went to a small out of the way restaurant that weekend and I actually met John Kennedy for a split second. It wasn't even an actual "meeting." I was talking to someone about whether or not it was faster to go through the park to get downtown and he bumped into me and said he was sorry. I didn't even know it was him, until my brother told me a minute later.

The book is not one of those tell-all, gossipy works that talks about things most people consider far too personal to discuss. But there are a great deal of intimate scenes between the author and John Kennedy that sound real enough to be absolute truth. The author is honest and you know she didn't make anything up to sell a book. The integrity is there, and you can almost feel the loyalty and respect Rosemarie Terenzio felt for John.

It's also very well written. As a writer it often bothers me when I see too many common mistakes...even in non-fiction. This book doesn't do that. It flows with an even pace, it's not too wordy or over-written, and I didn't find as many mistakes in the digital version as I often find in other digital books. This alone is refreshing.

The title of the book is bittersweet. John's life, and the author's life, were fairytales interrupted. I could feel how devastated Ms. Terenzio was when everything changed so fast. And, even before I read this book, I always felt it was such a shame John didn't get a chance to fulfill his goal with his Magazine, George. I used to read it from cover to cover. And if John hadn't died so suddenly I believe George would have been what The Huffington Post is today on the Internet. Unfortunately, this never happened.

If you are looking for something dishy and trashy and gossipy, this is not the non-fiction book for you. If you are looking for something well-written and smart, you won't be disappointed. The one thing that still bothers me about the one star reviews I read is that this book, even if you don't like it, deserves nothing less than two stars just for the quality of the writing alone. I'm giving it five.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cale McCaskey Talks About the Problem with Romance

So I'm on twitter one day this week and I see a RT that looks interesting. I click over and find this post titled: THE PROBLEM WITH ROMANCE NOVELS.

First, I've been around far too long to be surprised by anything anyone says on the web anymore. Second, being that I've heard almost every slur against the romance genre there is I've become numb to much of it. Third, most of these opinions don't matter much anyway.

But I'm linking to it now because I want newer authors to see the kind of thing romance authors have been dealing with forever. I can even remember a teacher in high school trashing the romance genre while I was sitting there in class thinking, WTF?, this dude, this bald fat fuck, is wearing mismatched socks, a pilled sweater vest, gum-soled shoes, and he drives a goddamn Rambler...which at the time was twenty years old.

Before I link to the post, I thought I share this from the post, verbatim:

Because romance novels do sell so abundantly in our day, I've noticed more and more articles about, and interviews with, romance writers where they are as often as not put on a pedestal—as though they somehow belong in the same class as authors of much higher standing.

All I can say is I've been writing romance for many years. I've had more books published than I can count. Some have sold more than others and I'm never quite certain what will resonate with readers. I just write with the intention of pleasing my readers, not with the intention of being put on a pedestal or being classified anywhere by anyone. And, not everything I've had published has been a romance. A good deal of my gay fiction is considered "gay lit," especially my older works. Some books and stories were in different genres and I've used pen names more than once. I've even been in "gay lit" anthologies that have won literary awards. So does this mean my pen names are in different classes than my real name, Ryan Field, that I use to write romance? And does this mean that my pen names should be in a "much higher standing" than my real name? As a writer, not an author, I'm not even certain those questions make sense.

Of course this is a personal opinion and Mr. McCaskey has a right to voice his opinion in any way he sees fit. I didn't comment on his blog because I do respect his opinion and I didn't want to intrude. The odds are I'll never go back to his blog again after this post.

He also says this:

I think it's safe to say that no Ivy League school will ever teach out of romance novels as part of the curriculum.

This may or may not be true. I do remember I took a course on contemporary fiction in college, here, that covered romance novels. It's not an ivy league school but it is a well respected university with a campus in Wroxton, England. And now, as a graduate of this school, I'm writing in the romance genre. All this aside, my first thought was how Mr. McCaskey knows so much about Ivy League schools. I can't help but wonder which Ivy League school he attended. I tried to find it in his profile but didn't see anything other than this:

I'm a sexy, single, white male with a really big, uh, wallet. (It's where I keep all my I.O.U.s). I also write a bit.

It's an interesting description.

Here's the link.

And if you have time, check this out. It's a real gem. I don't know where Mr. McCaskey is getting his information about romance novels, but I've always been told the one place where romance authors tend not to go is adultery and infidelity. In fact, I've seen comment threads explode on the issue and I rarely go there myself because I'm not a huge fan of adultery or infidelity. If I want to read about adultery and infidelity I'll read Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," where there's plenty of it going on.

Are Some Reviews an Abuse of Power?


Imagine you're driving down the road on a warm spring morning without a care in the world. The top is down, you're thinking about that bag of Dove you're going to dig into at noon, and you're going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Then you hear that ominous sound and you look into the rear view mirror. There's a cop with flashing lights signaling you to pull over. When you glance down and see that you are going 50 mph, you hit the signal and pull over. You know you're screwed, you should have been paying attention to this, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Imagine this now. The cop who pulled you over just found out his son is gay, the son is working part time doing drag shows on Sunday afternoons, and he's going to the prom with the captain of the football team. The cop knows now that all the money he spent on baseball camp, little league, and tickets to football games that he hoped would make his son a man was a complete waste of time. To top this off, the cop's ex-wife just broke off her engagement and he will have to continue paying alimony for the next five years.

You lower the window, without saying a word. You expect a small lecture about speeding, you know you're going to get this ticket, and you're even ready to apologize to the cop for not paying attention. You know you should have been paying attention to the rules of the road and there's no way out of it but to remain silent and suck it up.

But instead of giving you a lecture and a ticket, the cop yanks you out of the car, grabs you by the throat, and shoves you up against the hood. He screams and curses, belittles and demeans you, and continues to shove you around. He even kicks you a few times and twists your arm. There are no witnesses, and this time nothing is on camera. What he does to you is an abuse of power and there's nothing you can do about it. You know you can't fight back because he will only make it worse for you. In this case, it will always be his word against yours because he has the power and you did, indeed, break the law.

The best you can do is hope this cop calms down and leaves you alone. You know this kind of abuse of power happens all the time and you don't want to get into more trouble than you already are. This guy has the ability to ruin your life and he knows it. No matter what happens, it will always be his word against yours. You can't even tell another cop because you know that all cops stick together and one will never question the motives or actions of another. What the cop does to you is traumatic and will leave scars for the rest of your life. But he didn't actually cause any major physical harm and you know you can learn how to live with the psychological harm.

I know this is a dramatic example. But I also know it happens. It happened to me once when I was speeding and there was nothing I could do about it at the time. I paid the ticket and kept my mouth shut.

And while it might be considered too strong to compare a book reviewer who abuses her power to a cop who abuses his power, the psychological damage...the damage that can't be seen...hurts just as much in some cases.

Imagine this: You're a self-published author who is learning more about writing and publishing every day. You feel confident enough to self-publish a novel and to your surprise it actually hits a few bestseller lists on Amazon. You now know you made a few mistakes and you're going to fix all this in your next book. You've read reviews that are both good and bad and you've tried to learn from both the good and bad. In fact, some of the bad reviews on Amazon helped you learn more than the good reviews. Most authors will agree that this happens more often than not with bad reviews.

You're feeling good about being a published author and thinking about the next book you're going to self-publish on Amazon. And then one morning you wake up and find you have a google alert that says one of the most prominent online book reviewers decided to read and review your book. This lady has power, big time. People take her word as gold. At first, you're excited. You know how important a book review can be from this particular reviewer and you can't wait to read it. But when you click to the web site, you find that your book wasn't just given a bad review, it was ripped apart from page to page, line by line. You wonder why this happened and what would motivate someone with this kind of power to go after a small self-published author in such a way. You can live with a bad review, just like you could have lived with getting a ticket for speeding.

You know you should expect both good and bad reviews. This is part of being a published author; it's inevitable. But a review that rips out your soul and leaves you stripped of your dignity is almost more than you can handle. This review was so venomous, not to mention catty, that the book reviewer actually listed, in public, examples of what she thought you did wrong each time. Most of this is debatable. A lot of it was twisted and turned around. And in the end you know there is nothing you can do. You can't rant about how unfair the review was because you'll be labelled a disgruntled author, and we all know how everyone hates that. Some even love to see when it happens. They can't wait to see an author melt down and rant.

What I've discussed above doesn't happen often. Most book reviewers are reliable sources where readers can gain excellent information. But I have seen it happen a few times. To be clear, I'm not talking about bad reviews. Unfortunately, I have seen authors melt down over a bad review without good reason. But good book reviewers are important. They have a right to post an opinion and comment about a book, good or bad. Readers need this now more than ever. But whenever I see an overly detailed bad review that not only has the potential to harm an author's career but also cause serious psychological damage, I have to wonder about the reviewer's motivation. And then I have to wonder whether or not this was an abuse of power that was intended to garner attention and help build the reviewers online platform.

As a reader, I rely on the ethics and moral character of a book reviewer. I respect them for having the courage to stand behind their negative and positive reviews. However, there are no limits to which a book reviewer can go on the Internet as long as she follows the law and doesn't actually come out and defame the author. And if the book reviewer knows the law well enough, this kind of knowledge might even be considered more abuse of power.

And it begs the question: Are some reviews an abuse of power? I honestly don't know the answer to this question because I don't see it happen very often. And while it is an important question, I don't believe it's important enough to pursue. The only thing that is important is for readers to learn how to vet book reviewers. In other words, if you see a book reviewer who might be abusing her power and attacking authors because of a personal agenda, most likely the rest of her reviews will be questionable at best. This is why vetting book reviewers nowadays is so important. And it's not that hard to do. You just have to go back and read previous reviews to see how good and bad reviews were handled. If something strikes you as odd and it doesn't make sense, it's most likely not reliable information and you should look elsewhere to find out about the book you're planning to buy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preview: "Unmentionable: The Men Who Loved on the Titanic"


This is the post Edwardian story I've been working on and posting about for the past six months: UNMENTIONABLE: THE MEN WHO LOVED ON THE TITANIC. With the 100 year anniversary approaching of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, I wanted to write a love story about what might have happened between two men who were in love in those days.

Because the word "gay" didn't exist until later in the century (in this context), and because the love between two men wasn't discussed at all, ever, I wanted to write a story about what might have happened if there were two men in love aboard the Titanic. I'll never know this for sure. In those days homosexuality was considered a flaw or a mental illness, but I would bet there was at least one homosexual couple in love, living in silence, sneaking around to protect themselves.

Here's the unedited blurb and excerpt. I'll post more when the cover comes in and the edits are finished. We're shooting for a March first launch right now, but that could change. I can promise it will be launched before April 14th, which is the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

Blurb:

One hundred years ago on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on its way to New York. Though it had been considered unsinkable by all standards, it went down in the cold waters of the Atlantic, taking with it stories of love and romance that weren’t discussed openly in those days. This was especially true with stories of love between two men. One of those hidden stories of the Titanic dealt with the unyielding love and strong romance between a young man named Liam and his older lover, Oliver. Because Oliver was a wealthy business man in America with a great deal of notoriety, the only safe way to bring Liam aboard the Titanic was to dress him in fine women’s clothing and claim he was Oliver’s shy, distant cousin returning to America for the first time in many years. They finally begin to relax when they realize that everyone on the ship believes Liam is a woman, until that fateful night on April 14th when destiny intervened and changed their lives forever.

Excerpt:

“I absolutely refuse to wear dainty, frilly undergarments and a corset on the Titanic,” Liam said. To emphasize his feelings, he punched a wall next to a tall bookcase. A brass candlestick tipped and landed on the floor. “And I’m not wearing women’s shoes. This is absurd, Oliver. I’m a man, not a woman.” Then he kicked the baseboard.
Oliver Prendergast crossed to where Liam was standing and picked up the candlestick. He placed it back on the shelf and then set both palms gently on Liam’s bare bottom. They were both naked in Oliver’s bedroom, in the tiny hidden flat Oliver had been renting in London for the past six months so his staff wouldn’t find out about his young male lover, Liam Singleton. Oliver moved his palms up and down Liam’s buttocks and said, “There’s no other way, my love. Discretion is extremely important right now if you’re going to return to America with me.”
Liam turned so fast his penis slapped against his thigh. He sent Oliver a glare and said, “Why can’t I just go as part of your staff? I don’t mind acting as your valet, or whatever way you want to describe me. I just want to be a man, not a woman.”
Oliver turned and walked to the window. He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair and took a deep breath. “Because that would be too conspicuous, my love. We don’t have enough time to set up a new plan. Everyone knows I never travel with more than three staff members. And what would I tell my staff? They’d suspect something immediately if I brought in a handsome young man now, and I can’t take any chances in my position. I’ve already booked a first class suite on the Titanic and I’ve told everyone I’m escorting my shy female third cousin back to America. People would ask too many questions if I changed plans now. They’d wonder what happened to my cousin.”
“This is insane,” Liam said. “No one is going to believe it. And I’ll be the one who winds up getting in trouble.”
“Trust me, it will work,” said Oliver. “I wish there were another way.”
When Liam heard the low disappointed tone in Oliver’s voice, he slowly walked to the window and leaned into his back. Although there was about a twenty year age difference, Liam had never met a man who could satisfy his needs and emotions the way Oliver did. At forty-one, Oliver was just as good as any man in his twenties or thirties; if not better…he didn’t have any inhibitions or insecurities. But more than that, no one had ever been so devoted to Liam in his entire life. So he put his arms around Oliver and kissed the back of his neck. “I’ll do this for you. But I’m not going to like it. And I’m not wearing anything dainty or frilly. I’ll wear one of those long corsets to cover my groin, but that’s it. The thought of dressing up as a woman is bad enough at any time. But to have to spend that entire time crossing the Atlantic on a ship dressed as a woman kills me.”

ANDROIDBLIP and Gay Books: American Star


There's now a web site dedicated to android applications, where you can find many of my books. The one I'm linking to is AMERICAN STAR, and there's a list of others.

A few things have been changed slightly. They've altered the title of AMERICAN STAR and most of the other books. But the content is still exactly the same.

There's also a good book description and a sample of what the digital format will look like.

If you like watching "American Idol," you'll love Ryan Field's M/M erotic novel American Star!
The lead in this kinky novel is Terrence. Ryan Field’s Terrence loves two things in life: hot male/male sex with good looking men and singing on stage. So when he auditions for a new TV reality show that's a singing competition, it's no surprise when he starts to attract tons of fans and horny gay guys who are interested in getting into his tight pants.
When he develops feelings that are deeper than just sex for one of the other contestants in Hollywood, he does his best to seduce him in every way possible. But the other contestant is more worried about singing than sex, so Terrence winds up having a lot of kinky gay sex to deal with the rejection.
In this erotic romance Terrence has to deal with a deranged fan who sends him death threats, the overbearing mother of his newest love interest and the brutal death of a close friend. But none of this stops him from growing as a performer, and with a little help from a well-hung chauffeur, a few sexy top guys who work in a hotel, and his ex-lover the gay football player, he learns how to please all the men in his life with a huge smile on his face and legs that are always ready to open wide.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Uplifting Quotes for Writers...


Here's a link to a site with quotes by famous authors for writers. You can get there from here.

This is one I really love:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
Mark Twain


I like this one, too:

"If you would be a writer, first be a reader. Only through the assimilation of ideas, thoughts and philosophies can one begin to focus his own ideas, thoughts and philosophies."
Allan W. Eckert

First Interracial Marriage in Virginia...


This is an interesting article about the first interracial marriage in Virginia. I'm not a huge fan of the "Huff Post," because I don't think they would know the meaning of objective journalism if their lives depended on it. But I try to keep this blog as objective as possible at all times, without getting into political or religious rants. And right now I'm linking to a story that has an emotional impact more than anything else.

This was the opinion of the judge:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

This all happened before I was born, and before most of my readers were born. So it's hard to fully grasp what it must have been like back then. It's hard for me to grasp what it must have been like for gay men before AIDS. All my life I've been aware there's this disease out there that can change my life drastically, if not take it, if I'm not careful.

More than that, all my life I've seen interracial couples at least have the right to be together. Not everyone liked this. But they were legally allowed to love each other. I've dated men of all races and never thought twice about it. I was always more interested in what the guy was like than his race or his religion. But, intellectually, I know it wasn't always like this, and it's interesting to go back and see how interracial marriage was treated in some places.

I do remember this personal experience. My younger brother took a young African American woman to his senior prom. The next day the garage doors were spray painted with racial slurs. We never found out who did this, but it was my first real experience with racism on that level. This was in 1989, and it happened in New Jersey, not the deep south.

Here's the rest of the article, with a link to read more.

Before June of 1967, sixteen states still prohibited interracial marriage, including Virginia, the home of Richard Perry Loving, a white man, and his wife, Mildred Loving, a woman of African-American and Native-American descent.

Nine years prior, in June 1958, the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. -- where interracial marriage was legal -- to get married. When they returned home, however, they were arrested and sentenced to one year in jail for violating the state's Racial Integrity Act.


Read more...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rescuing Books On Goodreads

I found this link, which helped me a lot. It's a kindleboard forum titled: "Rescue Your Book on Goodreads."

Other than that, just keep checking your books to see if a banner comes up across the top of the page where the book is explained/listed on goodreads. If the banner comes up and tells you that you need to rescue it, click "Learn More" and you'll be directed to a form.

It's an easy form to fill out. But it's time consuming and dull as nuts. I found the best product info, once again (I'm always harping on this), came from Allromanceebooks.com and Fictionwise.com. At least with respect to publication dates.

A lot of my books didn't need rescuing, which I'm assuming means goodreads has other datasources or readers/reviewers have already recused them. But don't quote me on this. As I said, much of this is explained well in the link above. And I'll probably be double checking my goodreads content all week.

About Goodreads Parting from Amazon...

Here's the statement I found at this link.

On January 30, Goodreads will no longer display book information that comes from Amazon.

Basically it means that because Goodreads thinks Amazon is too "restrictive," they will be moving to other datasources that will allegedly enhance everyone's goodreads experience.

Amazon data that we will stop using includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates.

For many authors, publishers, and readers this is a big thing. I would imagine it's even bigger for book reviewers.

They've posted this link, where you can click "rescue me" and save information. However, each time I've clicked "rescue me" this is what I've received.

You do not have presmissions for this operation.

Unfortunately, there is no link that provides "permissions." Why does this not surprise me about goodreads? That's for another post altogether. Goodreads can be extremely helpful, but I've also found the reviews questionable at best. I wish I were more trusting, but I'm afraid I'm just not an idiot.

However, if you're on goodreads and you're interested in learning more about this, please check out the link I've provided above. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more about this in the future. To be honest, I'm not completely clear what this is all about and I plan to read more wherever I can. And if anyone has anything they'd like to add, feel free to comment.

If you're interested, here's another post by another blogger.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Great Link: Fit Hot Guys

Just trust me on this one. Click the link below to see what I mean.

Fithotguys

Not Too Long Ago...


Whenever you think you're having a bad day, just take a look at the photo here and remember how much worse it could get.

This is what writers used to use. Editing was done with red pens and authors rewrote so many times their fingers turned black. Nowadays I rarely ever rewrite anything. I edit extensively. But I never rewrite like I used to do when I submitted hardcopy. And that's because if I wanted to change a sentence or a paragraph I couldn't cut and paste. I had to rewrite the entire page and then hope it would fit.

Of course I didn't use a typewriter like this one, but I did use an IBM Electric and a Word Processor right up until 1999. I still have boxes filled with hardcopy manuscripts I haven't bothered to turn into electronic files.

The only reason I switched to a computer in 1999 was because my editors were starting to tell me I didn't have a choice anymore. Basically, they told me if I didn't go electronic I wouldn't be able to keep up. And I was still in my twenties, which made me unique in the sense that I wasn't online at all. Although I'm glad everything is now electronic, from submissions to contracts, and I wouldn't want to go back to a typewriter for any amount of money, there was something very comforting about the sound, feel, and touch of a typewriter that can't be explained unless you've done it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Good Take on How Writers Can Deal with Rejection


When I saw the blog post I'm linking to below I had to share. We've all been through rejection and we all know how it can sting. If it's not rejection, it's criticism.

And I love when other writers share tips and ways to help soften the sting of rejection and criticism. Rejection is something you have to face if you're going to be a writer, but there are also ways you can learn to deal with it, too.

Author Jurgen Wolff wrote a wonderful post. You can check it out here.

I think I like this part the most.

The third is to hope for acceptance but not expect it, to remind ourselves that all of life is a mixed bag.

If you're dealing with rejection right now, please take the time to check out the rest of the post. It's worth it.

ABC Ditches TV Sitcom "Work It" for Offensive LGBT Content?


Once upon a time, a TV show that mocked transgendered people was pitched to high powered executives in Hollywood and they loved it. They loved it the same way people loved watching offensive racist "Mammy" characters in old 1940's films like Gone with the Wind.

The TV show I'm talking about was called "Work It," and it was about two straight men, living in Suburban, USA, who couldn't get jobs because of a down economy. So what did these straight men do? It was classic. They put on lipstick, earrings, and high heels and went out to get jobs in full drag.

They not only got the jobs, they thrived in the jobs.

Oh, it was funny. It was lol, hahaha, and huzzah. The canned laughter could not be contained. And the more these two straight guys camped it up the more offensive it became. And it wasn't just offensive to transgenders. They did a good job at offending women in the work force, too.

The amazing thing out of all of this is that the show actually got to the point where they gave it a time slot and let it air on TV. No one gave it a second thought. In Hollywood, where they are clearly not short of a gay population, I find this astounding at best and horrifying at the worst.

This is what finally happened:

The network said today that the sitcom about two men who dress as women to look for work is off the schedule after only two episodes aired. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation had protested the series, saying it mocked the transgender community.

The formal statement was poor ratings. But I can't help wondering why it reached that point. And now I wonder what's next and how much more defamation there is in store. It seems these days I'm offended as a gay man at least once or twice a day on social media by people who don't even know they are doing it. I just received a private facebook message from a straight woman author and her husband, whom I assume is straight, who are producing and hawking a new film with gay content, about gay weddings. You can't blame people for zooming in on a market they think is going to make them money. And you can't blame them for working hard and taking advantage of a good thing while it lasts. But you can't fault gay people for being offended when they don't do it right.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So She "Hates Writing Sex Scenes"



Last night while reading a few pieces about the debacle in the YA community where authors are attacking reviewers (it's dismal at best), I decided to check out social media and I saw something that made my jaw drop. An author who writes m/m erotic romance posted she didn't like writing sex scenes. I kid you not. I would never joke about something like this. And I'm trying hard to write this post without being snarky. I would never mention names, but here is the exact quote, verbatim.

I hate writing sex scenes. Why can't I just say, "They had sex," and move on to the rest of the book. :)

One reason I find this interesting is because as an author of erotica and erotic romance for over twenty years, I've never felt this way a day in my life. I look forward to writing the sex scenes, and work hard to make them move the story forward without being too obvious. The only thing I've ever blasted in erotic romances I didn't write was that there weren't enough sex scenes. I can't help find it fascinating that m/m erotic romances will be constantly chopped apart for too much sex, and yet the erotic romances with too little sex are praised to the heavens. Evidently, there's a reason that passed me by.

Readers who buy and read erotica of any kind, from romance to hardcore BDSM, are buying this partly for the sex and partly for the storyline. It's a combination that goes hand in hand and if an author cheats or skimps on one or the other it's going to show. When I see this all I can think about is how screwed over the reader is.

Another reason why this statement was interesting to me, to the point of disturbing, is that if an author doesn't like writing sex scenes, and she would rather just write, "they had sex," and move on, why on earth would this author be writing erotic romance or erotica in the first place? Jonathan Franzen obviously doesn't like writing sex scenes (I've read "Freedom") and no one can fault him for this. So he writes what he loves and deals more in strong characterization and emotional conflict than sex. And I've never felt cheated by anything Jonathan Franzen wrote in spite of the questionable sex scenes.

Sometimes I wonder how many erotic romance authors are writing erotica because they think there are more publishing opportunities in the genre than in other genres. And then I start to feel sorry for the reader again. Because if this is the case, these authors are shortchanging themselves and the reader.

Maybe the comment I saw was posted in jest. There is a smiley face at the end. But would a dentist post "I hate pulling teeth, I wish they would just fall out on their own," on social media? If he did, I might take him seriously and I wouldn't be paying his office a visit anytime soon.

At the very least, if you're an erotic romance author and you don't like writing sex scenes, be smart enough to keep this information to yourself. It's not something I would joke about, especially when intentions can be misinterpreted so easily these days on social media.

My Next Destination Point...

Dealing With a Bad Review: Thoughts From Erika Dreifus


I've been wanting to post about this for a while and time kept slipping away. If you're a published author, you've most likely already felt the sting of a bad review. If you're a published author and you haven't experienced this yet, you will.

The post to which I'm linking is guest post on the David Abrams blog, The Quivering Pen. Erika Dreifus wrote the guest post in a positive voice, in order to help other authors learn how to deal with their first bad review...or bad reviews in general.

This line made me smile:

In this age of Google alerts, that might seem impressive indeed.

I smiled because I stopped all google alerts after my own first bad review...a scathing review where the reviewer roasted the book, in public, spelled my name wrong, and misled readers to believe scenes I'd written that were intended to be satirical were serious. In fact, the review was written to laugh at the book, laugh at me, and laugh at my publisher. But more than that, the reviewer, an angry woman, didn't "get" gay humor and never will. I figured I didn't need google alerts to point me in the direction of reviews like this, so I stopped them short and never used them again. And the book I'm talking about turned out to be a bestseller and is still getting good reviews from readers.

Then Erika said this in the guest post about the bad review she suffered. I smiled again after I read it twice:

Some of the review seemed eccentric as well as harsh.

There's never been a better word in the history of humanity than "eccentric" when it comes to some of the bad reviews authors deal with. Don't get me wrong, not all negative reviews are necessarily bad things. Some even help sell books. But in some negative reviews it's important to look for that "eccentric" quality, both as a reader and an author. Because if the review is, indeed, "eccentric"...over the top, too snarky...meant as a roast...it's not going to be a viable, trustworthy review.

Erika's guest post goes on to explain and list ways to deal with your first bad review that I can't recommend enough to all authors. Please take the time to read this. If for no other reason than this line alone:

Google the offending reviewer.

I find it both helpful and important to research book reviewers nowadays. Being that the process of reviewing a book is subjective, it's important to know how the reviewer has reviewed other books, what her reputation is like, and how readers receive her reviews. If you find that you're not the only one who has received a snarky review, you'll feel a lot better. And if you find an inordinate amount of bitchy, snarky reviews on her site, and these reviews are laced with truncated excerpts that seem to take things out of context, you may even wonder whether or not her reviews are written more to garner her online presence than help readers choose which books to read. Trust me on this, no one does anything for free online. There's always a hidden agenda and it's usually about self-promotion/platform (they want a good deal). Or, even worse, narcissism.

Once again, please take the time to read Erika's guest post the on David Abrams blog. It's one of the smartest posts about dealing with bad reviews I've read in a very long time. And it's done in very good taste, which is something I don't see often.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Going Dark Today

I'm going dark today, in theory, to protest Internet censorship and the people who don't understand the Internet. I've read about SOPA and what it could mean. If this becomes law, web sites could be taken down instantly, without question, for posting something as simple as a photo. In other words, we won't be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Let me also put it this way:

I've experienced this on facebook already. My account was taken down because someone didn't like what I posted and "reported" me. And it was nothing lewd or adult oriented. I keep my facebook updates G rated like I keep this blog. The reason was lgbt general content. Of course I appealed and facebook restored my account. I don't think facebook is anti-gay. I just think they like control. But it's not a great feeling to know that they have this much control. And it will feel even worse if the entire Internet is controlled in this manner.

So I'm going dark until 8 tonight.

Learn more about SOPA

Apple's Big Announcement...


Of course this is all still conjecture, but from the truncated versions I've read about the announcement Apple will soon make, it looks as though Apple is heading into the textbook market.

While I'm not surprised by this announcement, what I find most interesting is that it was mentioned in the Steve Jobs biography. In fact, making textbooks digital was one of Steve's biggest goals with Apple.

I have no idea how publishers are going to react. Many still haven't accepted digital books; some still think they are a passing trend.

In this NYT article, Apple Aims to Take On the Textbook Market, you can read more about the big announcement and what it involves. As always, Apple is grandstanding. But I don't look for any new devices coming out soon. This time it appears to be all about going after the textbook market.

The event will showcase a new push by Apple into the digital textbook business, but will not feature any new devices, according to a person close to the company who did not want to be identified talking about it before it occurred.

What does surprise me is that Steve Jobs is still actually working posthumously. This concept, according to his bio, was something he cared about passionately. And thinking back to when I was a college student, schlepping huge heavy textbooks from one end of a huge campus to the other, I think it's about time textbooks went digital. I just hope they can keep the costs down, unlike what they've done with digital books priced at 9.99 or higher.

Safe Sex, Condoms, and M/M Romance


While I was reading a blog post late last night where the blogger was discussing condoms in m/m romance, I realized I'd never posted anything here on my own blog. I once wrote a guest post with AJ Llewellyn and DJ Manly, here, at Jessewaves review site. In that post, we covered a lot of ground, and between the three of us offered varying opinions. The comment thread is interesting.

If writers are motivated by their own personal experiences, which most are, I've remained true to form with my stand on condoms and safe sex in the m/m fiction I write. Right now, I'm finishing up a m/m historical romance set in the Edwardian era, and obviously condoms are not going to be mentioned at all. I'd be an idiot to mention condoms and safe sex in a novella set during this period. And I may be many things, but idiot is not one of them.

I've written many raw scenes (sex without condoms), with characters in monogamous relationships, characters with an "agreement" not to use condoms, and characters who lived pre-HIV/AIDS era many times. But I always did it for a specific reason and that reason was always explained quickly in the book. I don't always believe my characters need to use condoms, based on the situations with which they are faced. My publishers never told me I couldn't do this. My publishers are all women. I find it more than interesting that there's this myth going around that women...publishers and authors...are pushing writers to use condoms in m/m romance. Trust me, it's a myth. And I'm speaking from first hand knowledge, not hearsay.

I've also written many scenes in books and short stories with condoms because I felt this is what the scenes called for. In my own personal life, I wouldn't have sex without a condom, not in the heat of passion, not for the best looking man, and not for the sake of love...I never have and I don't expect less from my characters. In other words, if I'm writing about reasonably educated, intelligent, fairly well-balanced gay male characters in a novel, and they are single and actively having sex, I'm also going to make them responsible enough to use condoms because this is what I would do. This is what most of the gay men I know would do. There's no hidden agenda. Once again, not hearsay.


I know first hand what HIV-AIDS can do through watching friends both live and die with it. Most of my friends who are HIV negative know, too. I'm legal POA for one good friend and I work with his ID doc in Philadelphia...Dr. Jay Kostman...who is a leading HIV specialist. I know ARV drugs cost thousands of dollars a month, which most people living with HIV cannot afford. I know these drugs keep people alive and also cause side effects that diminish bone mass and create many other complications down the road. I've seen people with full blown AIDS trached, intubated,and put in induced comas on Diprivan while they wasted away to nothing. I've witnessed the effects of IRIS...and Bactrim failure for those with PCP. I've seen cases with CMV where people were blinded. And when you see these things first hand it changes you forever. I am no saint, trust me. But when I'm with a guy I call the shots with condoms. I wouldn't expect less from certain characters I've created in a book or story.

I am the first to shrug off PC nonsense. And I "get" the fantasy concept of m/m fiction without condoms. In certain cases, with regard to hardcore erotica, I don't see anything wrong with it because it is fantasy. But, as a writer, I personally choose to use condoms in a book or story when I think the storyline calls for it. I honestly don't care what other authors do at this point in my life. I'm just pointing out that authors are motivated by different experiences in their own lives. In my case I know far too much, first hand, about what HIV/AIDS can do...and I just gave you the abbreviated version of what I know.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Writing Historicals and Learning about Corsetry


Here's another reason why I both love and hate writing historicals: corsets.

I don't actually need to know a thing about corsets. But I'm writing this new historical set during the Edwardian era and I have to give a fairly accurate description about the kinds of corsets that were worn back then...specifically around the year 1912.

According to wiki, "a corset is a garment worn to hold and shape the torso." According to Edwardian Corsetry Fashion History, "the corset started just above the waist and fitted well down the thighs." In other words, corsets were longer and more streamlined after 1907. In some cases, by 1912, corsets reached the knees and it was difficult for women to sit down. Had I not done the research, I would have described the corset as what we see to today in those erotic boutiques. And I would have been dead wrong.

This longer, streamlined corset was designed to enhance the figure of a woman and to compliment the fashions of this time period. And it didn't last long. From what I gather, the corset started going out of style around World War I and dropped out almost completely in the l920's when the girdle took its place.

But the research had to be done, even though it wasn't a large part of the story I'm working on right now. I could have lived a long full life without this information, but once I started reading about it I have to admit that I did find it interesting from a trending pov. Evidently fashion has always been trending, and it always will trend. And corsets played a huge part in the history of women's fashion, which couldn't be overlooked in the story I'm working on right now.

I'm also sure a lot of women today are thrilled they don't have to wear the corsets of 1912.

Breaking One Myth about Writers


I spent most of Sunday afternoon answering questions for an interview with Long and Short Reviews. The questions were great...excellent, in fact.

I saved one question in particular for last in the interview. And this is because I think it breaks a popular myth about all writers, across the board. We're often perceived as being absent-minded and unusual, messy and disorganized. They say we drink too much and don't focus enough on practical matters because we're always too busy focusing on our "art." I even read one blog post right after Christmas where a m/m romance author joked around in a guest post on a review site about how we're all in therapy and we're all these insecure, terrified creative types who are never understood. I once even read somewhere that writers who are extremely messy and disorganized are always great in bed. (I swear I did.)

Well.

Interesting.

I'm smiling as I write this. But I have say blah, blah, blah, to all of the above. I'm sure there are some writers like this. I'm sure there are many people in all professions like this. If there weren't, my parents, who happen to be therapists, wouldn't have done so well.

But as a writer, I prefer not to be lumped into any categories as far as my basic personality goes and how I choose to live my life. This thing about writers being needy, insecure, messy, and prone to all kinds of quirks is about as wrong as it gets. This thing about writers being in therapy is wrong, too. The one about being messy and great in bed is just too ridiculous to even touch. A slob is a slob; this has nothing to do with writers or being great in bed. And when I answered the questions for Long and Short Reviews, I decided to try and bust this myth that's been going around for so long.

Here's the question about which I'm talking, and I'll post more about the interview when it's published.

21. What would we find under your bed?

Absolutely nothing, seriously. You could eat off the floor under my bed. I saved this question for last on purpose. Writers are often referred to as disorganized, messy, and, in a general sense, not quite stable. My home is immaculate. I spend long hours working on my property. There's nothing beneath my bed. My checkbook is always balanced, my bills are paid on time, and I've never been in therapy (and my parents are therapists). I don't drink too much (often) or take drugs of any kind (ever). So the myth of writers being these weird unbalanced wacko creatures makes me smile all the time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Must Read: A VERY Different Approach to Bullying I'm Not Sure I Like...

(Update: While I may or may not agree completely with the post to which I linked, I do respect the blogger's opinion and her right to do as she sees fit.)

To be perfectly honest, I'm not certain I fully agree with the blog post to which I'm linking below. It's about bullying, and how this blogger thinks it's time to react differently. The reason I'm talking about this now is because I've done a lot of posts on bullying and I've been in touch with a lot of younger LGBT people who have been bullied.

"In our town we had a recent tragedy in which a young life was lost. Due to the child’s age, details have not been released but there are rumors that bullying may have played a part."

The first reason I'm not sure about this approach is that the entire post to which I'm linking is based on hearsay, admittedly, by the author of the post. When it comes to something as important as this, I need solid facts, not misinformed allegations.

All that aside, I do agree, in theory, that we should teach our kids to speak up and never allow anyone to bully them. I was never bullied because I did, in fact, speak up...as a kid and an adult. But I'm also sensitive enough to know that not all kids have the capacity to speak up this way. Not to mention that some might also argue the approach to which I'm linking sends kids mixed signals about the difference between right and wrong. In other words, if you're an adult driving down the highway and another adult starts to bully you with road rage (we've all been there), do you shout "Fuck you, you miscreant," or do you get his/her license plate number and report him/her to the police. As a responsible adult you would take down his/her tag and a description of his/her car and report him/her to the police. As an irresponsible adult you'd pull over, scream right back in his/her face, call him/her a fucking miscreant, and then you'd become an integral part of an already explosive situation that's doomed...not the smartest thing to do.

I also know, from first hand experience with one particular nephew in middle school, that many schools nowadays have a zero tolerance policy with regard to anything that's considered offensive. This goes for the bully and for the kid being bullied. And I'm not sure shouting "Fuck you, you miscreant," would work well at his school. My nephew would not only wind up being bullied even more later, but he'd also become "classified" as a trouble maker in his school..."that kid with the bad mouth who shouts Fuck you, you miscreant"...and once a kid is classified that way, officially or unofficially, he or she will always be regarded this way. Schools these days, at least here in the east coast where I live, are dealing with major issues now. They don't need more problems.

So while an aggressive approach to bullying is sometimes the best approach, being smarter than the bully, and knowing that you are smarter than the bully, and reporting the incident and the bully to the right people is the smarter way to go. Knowing the meaning of big words like "miscreant" doesn't make you smart. It just makes you knowledgeable. Because all it takes is just one nutty bully, and in this world there are plenty of them out there, to hear "Fuck you, you miscreant," and that bully might not back down the first time.

Here's a link to the blog post, titled, "Fuck You, You Miscreant," where you can form your own opinion.

And, for those of us who don't know, which I would imagine is most of us, including most school teachers, (I have over 80 published works out and I've never used this word in the sentence before), here's the meaning of miscreant:

mis·cre·ant/ˈmiskrēənt/

Noun: A person who behaves badly or in a way that breaks the law.

Adjective:(of a person) Behaving badly or breaking a law.

Synonyms: noun. villain - scoundrel - blackguard - rascal - rogue - knave

adjective. mean - vile - base

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Advice and Tips for Aspiring Writers...

When I came across the blog post I'm linking to below I had to share. I couldn't agree more with everything in the post. And if you're an aspiring writer you'll want to check it out.

Number one is especially important. I hear a lot of new writers talk about not having the time to write. I understand this, trust me I do. I owned two businesses for a long time and worked seven days a week dividing my time between the two businesses.

I still found time to write. Sometimes it was only a page a day. But I made a point to make the time.

Here are eight great tips I think are very important.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Found a Great Blog: "Frost Lord" by TD McFrost


Those who follow me know how I get when I find a new blog I like. It happened late last night while I was web surfing with my tablet. The minute I read one post, and then checked out the blog links, I knew I'd wind up linking to this guy just by checking out the smart tasteful blogs he reads. (You can tell a lot about a person by the blogs he/she reads :)

I also like to cover a lot of territory here on this blog. I shy away from things too political and try to keep my posts objective. One of the areas I like to cover is all things publishing related. His blog is, indeed, publishing related. And scoping out fresh, young talented authors like this guy is probably one of the most important publishing related topics I can think of.

T.D. McFrost's blog, Frost Lord, is not only well written, it's done with a nice sense of humor. The "voice" is excellent. You can get there from here and check it out yourselves to see what I mean. I'm linking on my sidebar right now. I don't see that many blogs that make me want to read more all that often, and when I do I zoom in on them as fast as I can.

Here's his profile, "Secret Identity," taken verbatim from the blog, so you can see what I'm talking about regarding his sense of humor.

Hi, my name is Tyson Devon McFrost but you may call me Frost Lord. ^_^


I'm 22 years old, I live under the sink and I'm a superhero. Now I know some of you are wondering "Hey, what's this superhero doing blogging when he should be saving the world?" Well, the thing is: I'm lazy. And it's not my mom's fault ('cause the lord knows she sure tried), it's just that there's so much "human" stuff to do.


I mean, my goodness, where do I begin?


I love surfing huge, gnarly waves; I love taking my bike up on mountain trails; I love archery (I'm quite good); I love fried chicken, gravy and mashed potatoes; I love girls with a sense of humor, glasses, intelligence and six toes; I love animals, especially dogs, lions, tigers snakes, kinkajous, ferrets and mice; I love my mom, my sisters and my abs; but above all else I lurveeeee VIDEO GAMES!


I'm a nerd, really--a supernerd!--and that's just how I like it.


There are a lot of things about me that will surprise you. One of the more thrilling details is the fact that I knew Rihanna. Yes, I'm talking about the superstar singer with red hair. We were friends once, but I was foolish enough to mess that up when I pushed her into a river and caused her to bruise her elbows. She taddled, my mom whopped me and we never spoke again.


Ah yes, fond memories they were...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working on Another Historical...


I wish there were someone around to kick me when I start projects like this. I always say I don't like writing historicals. But the truth is that I just don't like the concept of writing them. It takes too long to do the research and I like things to move fast. When you're writing a historical you have to stop and triple check facts, and sometimes you even have to cross reference to find out if there are discrepancies. The problem is that once I'm really into the story I can't help but love it.

A Young Widow's Promise, which is a civil war romance, took me years to write. One reason I didn't release it was because I loved it so much I didn't want to let go of it. Only those who have suffered public reviews can understand this. And with this book I was checking facts right down to the wire until the day it was released. Another reason why I'm not fond of doing this research is that I can't help but question how they know the information is true or not. No one nowadays was around in the year 1860, so how can anyone really be certain something did or didn't happen. I know there are strong arguments against what I just said. But I still can't help wondering. And there have been times when I've taken historical facts and written about them even though I questioned them silently. The best you can do is trust someone with more knowledge about history. The least you can do is try to get it right given the information available to you at the time.

I swore when I finished A Young Widow's Promise I wouldn't do another historical for at least two more years. But like A Young Widow's Promise, the story I've been working on for the past two weeks is something I've always wanted to write and the timing right now is perfect. I'm between Virgin Billionaire books. I just submitted a book that will be published under one of my pen names. And this particular topic I'm writing about is something I've always wanted to write about. But more than that, it's a m/m historical and extremely sexy. This time, unlike with A Young Widow's Promise, I'm targeting my usual audience.

But I do swear this is my last historical for the next two years. I'd like to focus my short stories more on westerns for the next year. I enjoy writing them and reading them. I see a lot out there, but the ones I've read just don't seem very sexy to me. And if I get the urge to write another historical anytime soon, I'm coming back to this post and reading my own words.

I wish I could post more about the subject of the historical I'm working on. It's just too soon to talk about it right now. I will post more in the coming weeks. I'm hoping to have it submitted to the publisher by early next week. And then we'll probably take another few weeks of editing. It should be out by late February, which if I'm counting the days right, will be perfect timing.

List of Cities with Large Percentage of Gay Households


I recently read something on social media where they listed a few cities with large percentages of gays. Some of the cities struck me as unlikely, so I did a little research and found this web site I'm linking to right now.

I'm not knocking the other list. For all I know, it could be accurate. But the one I'm linking to now seems more accurate to me, based on my own personal experience and what I know about the gay community.

Needless to say, Wilton Manors, FL is first on the list to which I'm linking. The photo above is from a real estate listing in Wilton. I can't tell you how many gay couple I know who have winter places in Wilton Manors or have moved to Wilton Manors permanently. I've thought about getting something small down there myself just because there is such a large gay community.

It didn't surprise me to see Palm Springs as number three. I've thought about going there, too. Mostly because so many of my gay friends from New Hope have already moved out there. And those who haven't moved, do spend a great deal of time there during the winter months.

Here's the link. When reading this, I didn't find any surprises. And that's because the gay people I know tend to talk about these things often. And they tend to live in places where there are larger percentages of other gay people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Gay Gourmet: Michael Munoz

Although I love where I live in New Hope, Bucks County, PA, this is yet another reason why I'd seriously think about relocating to Manhattan again. I always feel like I'm missing all the fun. Even though I'm only an hour and a half away from NY, it's still a schlep to get there, and traffic is never, never good.

Michael Munoz, The Gay Gourmet, is having a celebration. I've blogged about him before. The information is below. This is definitely something I'd attend if I lived in the city, and it wouldn't be to promote books. It would be strictly for fun. And to see how cute Michael is in person, too.