Monday, April 30, 2012

Allmaleromance.com


I know I've posted about AMR before on the blog. But I'm doing this quick post for two reasons: one, I just signed up for an ad with them for "Chase of a Lifetime" and I am shamelssly mentioning it now, and two, because I do think they really are one of the best places to find a list of most m/m romance authors.

It's one of those web sites, a lot like Elisa Rolle's review site, where you can tell the people who run it really do love what they do. They love what they read as well. It's all about books and covers and what's the latest thing happening.

If you haven't been there and you are a fan of m/m romance or gay fiction, please take the time to check it out here. It's simple to navigate and you might wind up there for longer than you'd planned.

Artistic Photos With Gay Bathhouse Images Shut Down

I often link the The Bathhouse blog because whoever is writing this blog seems to pick up interesting news and information all the time. A lot of this info is related to bathhouses, but not always. Sometimes it's political, sometimes social, and sometimes it deals with the arts. I can say this: I'm never bored with anything I read there, and whatever I do read there is smart, well executed, and teaches me something I didn't already know.

Recently, an art exhibit was censored in India because it allegedly had images of men in bathhouses. You can read more about it here. There are other links on the post where you can see the actual images that were censored. I don't think there is one with full frontal nudity. But I could be wrong about that.

And, for fun, you might want to check out this post about Bathhouse Bait. I've posted about gay bathhouses before more than once. I've written scenes with gay bathhouses in a few of my novels. It's a large part of gay culture and always has been. To ignore it, even in romance, would be selling gay men short, if not insulting to them.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Can the "Sticky Sweet Deal" Damage an Author's Career?

We hear all the time about how important it is for authors not to rant and rave on social media. And I agree. If you are labeled as trouble all the time it's hard to shake the image. Life is hard enough as it is without having to listen to an author rant and complain. But I'm kind of curious about something else...which I guess would the direct opposite of being a snarky, ranting blowhard online.

I tend to keep it real here on the blog and on social media. I've never been a confrontational person and I have a very long fuse, so to speak. Although, if you push me hard enough, or if you throw the first punch, you'd better be prepared for a response. But that rarely ever happens to me, and it has to be extreme when it does. Most of the time I find that keeping it real and treating people with respect works best. And I've learned over the years never to underestimate readers...and to give them the respect and honesty they deserve.

What I'm talking about right now with the "sticky sweet deal" is when I see an author lay on the sugar and spice routine to the point of nausea. When it gets so cute, and the pretty pink unicorns are so adorable, you want to gag. It can happen on blogs or on any social media where authors are interacting with readers and other authors. It can be men or women; there doesn't seem to be a pattern in this respect. I don't see this often, thank God, but when I do I cringe sometimes.


The false tone and the painfully wretched way I've seen this happen makes me wonder how readers feel about this, and do they actually believe it? I could do it. I could post something like this: "A dear sweet loving reader just told me she loves me more than a basket of puppies, a bushel of fluffy kittens, and marsh mellow clouds in a bright blue sky. She is willing to leave her husband for me, everything she's worked for all her life, and run off into the sunset with me to live happily-ever-after in a world of over-the-rainbow love." But would readers really buy into the sticky sweet deal or would they think I'm a blithering idiot who will stop at nothing to sell a book?

I honestly don't know what to make of this. Maybe most of the bright, hard-working authors I know who don't do things like this are missing something important? Maybe I'm missing something important? But, like I said, I don't see it happen very often. I really am curious about how readers feel when they see an author say or do things on social media that could be taken as insincere...or too cute. I will say this: I think it might work in the beginning. It might be a way to attract a readership and build a following. Politicians do it all the time. We've seen them all kissing babies at one time or another. But eventually even politicians have to tone it down. Because once the "sticky sweet deal" wears off there had better be a back up plan with something substantial. If not, and you're labeled an idiot, you'll always be one. I know there are one or two I'll never forget. And I don't know many people who are willing to take that chance in any walk of life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Free Apps to Read Kindle E-Books on Any Device



Understanding how to read e-books can be frustrating at best in the beginning. I know it was for me. So when I see things like this I pass them on hoping they might help someone. The biggest misconception I see all the time is that people think they need an e-reader or e-reading device to read e-books. All you need is a computer.

Last week a friend who also has an indie pubbed novel on Amazon through the KDP program posted a link on facebook and twitter about free apps for all e-reading devices. In other words, you don't need a Kindle to buy a Kindle book. In fact, you don't even need an e-reader. You can read e-books right on your laptop or computer. It comes in handy with cookbooks in the kitchen. No need for print cookbooks anymore. You just follow the recipes from your laptop or iPad. I don't cook often, and it's helps me a lot when I do.

Here's part of the information below, taken directly from Amazon. And here's a link to read more and get the apps. Here's one just for your PC. I've done this myself. I have the Kindle app for my iPhone, my iPad, my NextBook tablet, my PCs and both my Kobo e-readers. It's not just kindle who is doing this either. You can download the Kobo apps to anything as well. I've started to enjoy my Kobo library even more on my iPhone lately.

Buy Once, Read Everywhere: You don't need to own a Kindle device to enjoy Kindle books. Download one of our free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on all your devices. The Kindle app is available for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer. That means with our free Kindle Reading apps, you can buy a Kindle book once, and read it on any device with the Kindle app installed. And of course, you can also read that same Kindle book on a Kindle, Kindle Touch, or Kindle Fire if you own one.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What's Coming Up Soon...Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street

I haven't posted much about my own work on the blog recently because I wrote so much about "Chase of a Lifetime" for a while I didn't want people to get bored. That's why I tried to keep the posts about COAL mainly limited to technical things, like editing the book for publication and working on the actual Kindle publishing process. I know a lot of authors are curious about this and I wanted to explain my experience step by step.

Writing and publishing COAL has been a great experience for me. I've learned a lot along the way, and I'm still learning. If you think submitting a manuscript to a publisher is hard work, you haven't lived until you've published a book on your own. In the past, I always knew there would be an editor and a copy editor to cover my back if it needed covering. With COAL, it was only me.

But it was a good challenge, and I'm doing it again. I haven't stopped writing for the publishers I've been working with for a long time. I have a new release coming out with Loveyoudivine.com titled, "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy," and I just signed a contract with Ravenous Romance to write a new novel under a pen name. Unfortunately, I'm with the school of thought that believes you don't ever reveal a pen name. So I won't be posting much about the new Ravenous project here on the blog. But it's the first time I've ever used a pen name in m/m fiction, and I'm actually having fun with it. The main reason for the pen name is because I'm now writing in a sub-genre I've never written in before. It's more for readers, so they don't get confused, than it is for me.

The new indie book for Amazon Kindle I just finished is titled, "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street." It will be released sometime this summer, probably June. It will be a .99 Kindle e-book, just like COAL. This one is a little different than anything else I've ever written because there's BDSM in the storyline...a lot of BDSM. But I would consider it light BDSM. Though I've written BDSM erotica before, I never tackled a BDSM m/m romance. I was always cautious about doing this because it's so important...to me...to combine the BDSM and the love in such a way that it moves the story forward. It wasn't easy to do. And it's one reason why I've never been fond of reading BDSM m/m romance. But I have always been curious about it. In this case, we'll find out when the reviews start coming in.

I will be posting more about "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" as soon as I get closer to a publication date. Right now I'm working on information to send to the cover artist, and I honestly have no idea what to tell her.

Here's the raw version of the blurb for "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street."

Jonah Sweet has a secret need to be dominated and punished, with whips and chains and leather cuffs. He also has a graduate degree in puppetry from a good university, but can’t find a job and is still with his mom and dad in Queens. So he signs up for cooking school, hoping to learn a trade. But it’s nothing like he thought it would be and he winds up flunking everything from cutlery to hard-boiled eggs. The only other skill Jonah has is the ability to read other peoples’ thoughts, which he knows isn’t going to get him very far.

On the day of an important cooking exam, Jonah meets David Abernathy, the owner of the cooking school and a billionaire who owns restaurant chains, casinos, and real estate. The harder Jonah tries to impress David the worse it gets. But handsome David Abernathy sees something in Jonah. With no explanation at all, David sets Jonah up in an office, buys him a brand new wardrobe, and brings him into his unusual home on Delancey Street.

Though Jonah is stunned by all this, he’s even more stunned by the fact that he can’t read David Abernathy’s thoughts. But Jonah is in no position to turn any offers down. He takes the job in spite of David’s rude, nasty disposition and his erratic rants. From there they enter into an unusual relationship filled with bondage and discipline and more love than either one of them could ever have imagined.

When David introduces Jonah to a little boy in a wheel chair and explains his past, Jonah only falls deeper in love with David. He discovers a gentle side of David no one knows about. But will intense love and exotic sex be enough to compensate for David’s complicated personality and his vicious need to control everything? And will Jonah ever be able to put up with David’s public outbursts and his violent moods?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Thing Called Fiverr Where You Can Pay For Book Reviews


I read about Fiverr in a few places and decided to check it out. It's a web site where people advertise services, and are willing to do anything from take off their shirts and do video messages, to write book reviews for authors. And they are willing to do this for five bucks. Hence the name Fiverr. It's even mentioned now at Urban Dictionary.

This guy will review your web site and offer his design opinions for five bucks. This young woman will dance around in a hula hoop and tell you whatever you want to hear for five bucks. And this guy will record a message video for you shirtless for a fiverr. Frankly, I'd be willing to find out what he'd do for a Ben Franklin, but I won't go there in this post.

There are categories on Fiverr that range from Social Marketing to Writing to Travel. In the Social Marketing section, SHE'S willing to "create a video positively reviewing your site or business for $5." She's even willing to admit, in writing, "Reviews are all fabricated."

In the Writing section, I saw a lot of ads where services are offered for editing and proofreading. One will translate from Dutch to English, another will translate from English to Bulgarian, and one will even make any football argument you want him to make...all for five bucks each. Some will write resumes and some will write articles on any topic you want. In the writing section, most of what I saw at a glance were harmless. I honestly didn't see many willing to write fake book reviews, but I'm sure I would find them if I dug deeper. I would imagine if the young woman above is willing to fake a review for a business she'd be willing to do it for a book. And I'd bet the hula hoop girl would do the same...with her hula hoop.

Overall, it looks like a quirky web site, along the lines of a trimmed down Craigslist with a circus/sideshow appeal. Most of what I saw looked like fun and it wasn't something I would take seriously. And I certainly wouldn't hire anyone to write a review for anything I wrote or published, not on Fiverr or anywhere. Web sites like these, taken in the right context, can be wonderful. I love the flying trapeze. But used in the wrong way, they can be just as harmful.

I am curious about one thing. Though I'd never pay anyone to write a fake review for me, nor would I trust someone who would be willing to do this for me for any amount of money, I am thinking about contacting the cute little guy who is willing to say anything shirtless. I'm wondering if he'd be willing to read the first few pages of a book I recently had released without his shirt.

In any event, check out Fiverr and see what I'm talking about. Some of the ads are so interesting you can get lost there for hours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marine Pays Steep Price for Criticizing Obama on Facebook


In an incident that seems to have created an interesting controversy about freedom of speech on social media, in a time when so many feel so passionate about politics, Sgt. Gary Stein will not only lose all his military benefits, but will also receive an "other-than-honorary-discharge" from the service for posting something negative about the President on social media.

According to Huff Post politics, this is what Sgt. Stein posted on facebook:

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, "Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him." Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Stein also made this statement:

"I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn't have gone this way. I'm having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career," he told The Associated Press.

You can read more about it here.



Fred Karger's LGBT Presidential Ad Pulled From Youtube



Late last night I read that Fred Karger's promotional video on youtube had been taken down. You can read more about it here. For those who don't know, Mr. Karger is the first openly gay man running for President of the United States. I've posted about him here many times. I don't know the reasons why the video was removed. In this post, I'm only writing the facts posted from Mr. Karger's facebook page.

This is interesting. The Karger video is posted here, with this statement: "Parental Advisory Explicit Content." Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I viewed this more than once and I don't see where this "Explicit Content" is. Evidently, two men kissing, just as two straight people kiss in public all the time, is considered "explicit?"

I'm wondering if the Karger ad was taken down because people aren't allowed to do a "commercial" on youtube...in the sense that it's considered advertising? But if that is the case, then I have to wonder why book trailers and other promotional things that run the along the thin line of advertising aren't taken down, too. I don't know anything for certain.

I do know that on most social media anything lgbt is targeted. And I'm not talking about anything sexually oriented. I'm talking about G-rated lgbt material: it could be as simple as two men holding hands. All it takes is a report or a complaint and anything can be taken down from social media without an explanation. It's happened to me more than once, on my own social media profiles and on those I use with pen names. In each case, it wasn't about the social media site discriminating against me, because everything was restored after I sent an appeal. It was more about a social media site not evaluating a situation before it takes something down...which also makes me wonder about who is actually in charge of these things on social media. Right now, I'm picturing the guy from the freecreditreport.com TV commercials, drinking beer, sitting in his sweat pants in a dowdy apartment somewhere in Silicon Valley.



I've seen the Fred Karger youtube video and I didn't find anything offensive about it. Here's a statement released by Mr. Karger last night:

Statement by Fred Karger on Removal of his “Sexy Frisbee” Commercial by YouTube:I was completely shocked tonight to find out that YouTube had taken down our new California commercial from its web site having deemed it "inappropriate.”..."Sexy Frisbee" had gone viral in less than a day with over 15,000 views since our press release went out late this morning. We had an incredible day of excitement, media coverage and comments.What is "inappropriate" about our 65 second commercial? It was shot at Venice Beach in Southern California with a dozen men and women having fun at the beach. It ended with friends Andrew and Michael (a couple who have been together 7 years) exchanging a quick kiss. Is that kiss what YouTube considers inappropriate? There are gay kisses on television every day and certainly lots on YouTube and other popular video sharing web sites. Today we will be taking the following steps to get our commercial back up on YouTube:We will launch an online petition to gather support to get “Sexy Frisbee” back up on YouTube.We will be writing to Google Co-founders (YouTube is owned by Google) Larry Page and Sergey Brin and ask them for an explanation and full investigation as to why YouTube decided to censor my free speech as a candidate for President of the United States.I will be trying to meet with Google’s lead lobbyist in Sacramento, Jonathan Ross with K P Public Affairs I will be in Sacramento on Wednesday to kick off my California campaign at a 2:00 pm Press Conference (on South steps of the State Capitol Building).

This morning it seems as if the video was added again. At least I think this is the video, but I'm not completely sure. You can view it here on youtube...I THINK.

Like I said, all it takes is one person to "report" something lgbt oriented to any social media site, and it's taken down without an explanation. Most of the time it is restored, but that's never an easy process. By the time you get the freecreditreport.com guy to read an appeal for something that's been removed sometimes it's not even worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Calls for Submission: Gay Erotica

I'm posting this because it's a public call for submissions over at Erotica Writers and Readers Association. I just submitted a short story and I've always liked working this this particular editor at Cleis Press, Shane Allison. I've been in his anthologies before and I've always been thrilled with the end results. One in particular was titled, "Backdraft."

These anthologies are good places to build publishing credits for those who are starting out. And unless you're going the self-publishing route, we all have to start out somewhere. I have over 90 published works out and I'm not too grand to submit to something like this. I still enjoy doing it now as much as I did fifteen years ago.

Here's a link to the "Hot Pledges" call. And here's another for an anthology about "Steam Baths."

The Story Siren's Second Apology

I've been following the conundrum of Kristi Diehm who publishes a small YA publishing blog called The Story Siren. In the midst of strong allegations with regard to plagiarism, Ms. Diehm issued an apology/explanation on her blog, here. And I just read what appears to be a clarification of that apology, here.

No comment from me. The "clarification"...or second apology...sounds sincere. If you notice, when I write blog posts I try not to begin a sentence with "I think," or "I feel." I try to stay away from hearsay as well.

I don't know Kristi, but I wish her well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Author Interview with Long and Short Reviews



Not long ago, I did an interview with Long and Short Reviews. You can find it here, at this link. And please check out the rest of their web site. It's easy to navigate and I've learned a lot from reading other interviews and reviews.

What's interesting is at the time we talked about my ninth book in the Virgin Billionaire series, The Virgin Billionaire Reversal of Fortune. Looking back, which wasn't that long ago, I think this was my favorite book to write in the series. I loved writing the retro 1980's scenes, and the descriptions of cars and technology and music.

And the Word "That"



The word "that" is an interesting word for writers. According to this thread on Yahoo Answers, you'll see what I mean. There's more here at Dr. Grammar. And this web site is interesting as well. Here's an example below.

In the following, does the word "that" belong?

"He said that we should go fishing."
Answer:


This usage of "that" is correct and belongs.

"That" sets off a dependent clause but could be left off without ambiguity:

He said we should go fishing.
So there you are. I could link to a dozen more sites that discuss this. I've read blog posts about it before and I've seen authors talk about it on social networks. Personally, I've always believed in word economy and I try to leave out any extra words I don't need while I'm writing fiction. One of the last things I do during my own editing process is to do a search for words like "that" and remove them from sentences where they are not needed. I'm not saying I'm correct. It's just my opinion.

But I've also had editors who replaced the word "that" after I'd removed it. Does it bother me? Not at all. And I don't think it would bother most readers.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

ALBERT NOBBS


We finally had a chance to rent "Albert Nobbs" On Demand last night and I wanted to post something about it before I forget. I loved it. Tony had mixed reactions. He loved the acting and the characters; he didn't love the storyline and thought the pace was too slow.




I disagreed with him completely, which often happens when we watch films or read books. I fell in love with each character and it was the fastest two hours I've spent in a long time. I loved the storyline, the period in which it was set, and they way the subject matter was treated. I attribute our extreme differences in opinion to the fact that I love romance and can't get enough of it, especially a romance where there is unrequited love where the characters are facing complications over which they have no control. In this case, it was times in which these characters lived that affected them the most. In fact, I loved everything about the movie so much I downloaded the theme song in iTunes late last night.



The basic storyline was adapted from a short story by noted literary author, George Moore. It revolves around two women in the early 1900's (it could have been late 1800's) who figure out a way to survive by living as men. Glenn Close did a spectacular job and passed so well only a few in the film slightly suspected something more than his/her unusual behavior...a small child (kids are uncanny about these things...they can spot something "off" a mile away) and an older woman during a carriage ride. You can read more here, at imdb.



There were other noteworthy performances by supporting actors, which you can read more about here. There wasn't one single bad performance. Jonathan Rhys Meyers had a small part, with a brief moment of what could have been considered homoerotic (nothing huge). Aaron Johnson played a good part, too, as the typical anti-hero. And Pauline Collins, whom I've loved since "Upstairs Downstairs" played a fairly large part that was one of her best performances.



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy 86th Birthday!

Gay News Blog

I came across a web site and thought I'd share. It's a gay news blog that seems to cover a lot of information that's hard to find. So many come and go it's hard to keep track.

Here's the link. And here's a post from today about the top headlines for gay news.

Today’s Top Headlines
Presented by special Lavender Media guests Andy Lien, Joy Summers, Suzanne Farrell, Stephen Rocheford, and Barry Leavitt

Majority of Russians Oppose “Gay Propaganda”
Gay Marriage Not A Top Concern For U.S. Voters
The Only Gay U.S. PTA Aims to Confront Bullying
Out Magazine Staff Gets Out-Sourced
California Lieutenant Governor Newsom Gets TV Show
Get even MORE breaking news from any of our live, constantly updated news feeds, now available in 12 languages:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime the Series and Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Evidently, google blogger decided to change things and I'm not sure how this post is going to look. Please excuse any errors. It's going to take a while to get used to this. But in a way, it's more than appropriate to write a post like this on a completely new blogging format.

What prompted this post was a blog post I read late last night by a talented young blogger I started following a short time ago. His name is T.D. McFrost and he's been doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Yesterday's post was "P" and he talked about publishing. Here's a link. I thought this comment was especially interesting.

It's been remarkable watching publishing evolve into what it is now. Five years ago self publishing was like a curse to writers; a doomed choice to those unlucky or talentless few to kill their dreams; now it's a thriving segment of publishing that has the potential to overcome the traditional route.

He's also been posting about "Fifty Shades of Grey," a book that seems to fascinate us all for various reasons. T.D. is excited about FSoG and looks at it as an opportunity. Some posts I've read despise the book so much one blogger was snarky enough to compare it to "The Bridges of Madison County." Personally, though I wouldn't consider FSoG great literature I did like it and I do think it has earned its place on the bestseller list. For me, it's all about the reader and what the reader wants, not what the elitist in publishing wants to force the reader to read. It's nice when there's a balance of great literature and mainstream pop culture. But it doesn't happen often. And there will always be those on one side or the other.

The post written by T.D. McFrost resonated with me because I just self-published my first book after years of getting published with small presses who I guess would be considered "traditional" publishers. I never had any major complaints. But I also never knew what it was like to have complete control over my work. In this sense I've always been pragmatic: the publisher gets the last word and I accept that. I don't like to create tension, I work well with other people, and I tend to trust their judgement more than my own sometimes. But a series of events in the last year frustrated me so much, and I found myself conceding to someone else's vision of what my work should be so often, self-publishing seemed to be my only option.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not jumping ship and I'm still a huge fan of most publishers. I have books out with publishers I will continue to support. My decision to self-publish wasn't brought on by bitterness or negativity. I have repeatedly stated how much I love working with Loveyoudivine.com and how much I love all their titles. I have nothing but absolute respect for them. Although I've never worked with Silver Press or Dreamspinner Press, I love what they do and I've read more than a few of their titles and I've been pleased. I also think Seventh Window Press is a publisher to watch out for in the future. They are releasing some very interesting titles I've marked for my own TBR list.

I'm not the only published writer who has checked out self-publishing. There are writers who are far more important than me who have decided to do it, too. I can't speak for them and I don't know what motivated them. But they are doing it and the concept of self-publishing is becoming more and more popular. I know there are a lot of bad self-published books out there. Unfortunately, the reader is the one going through the proverbial slush pile now in some cases. I've run across a few that turned my stomach. And this is why it's so important for self-published authors to focus on things like quality and product information...even if it reaches the point of being repetitive. And it's just as important for readers to know how to vet the books they are planning to buy. If they don't see any product information or any mention of quality control about a self-published book they should be wary.

I know I took the long road to get to the theme of this post. But "Chase of a Lifetime" will be a series and I'll start working on the next "Chase" book as soon as I release my next book. Right now I'm finishing up another full length novel I will be self-publishing on Amazon as soon as its ready. Because the editing and formatting process takes so long, I won't be able to give an exact release date for at least the next three weeks. This book is different in some ways than anything I've done before. It's m/m romance with a slight twist. I get into some light BDSM, which I've never done before. Getting this right isn't easy either. I had to do some interesting research. One of the main characters is also one of the most complicated I've ever done.

I also have a new release coming out with loveyoudivine.com titled, "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy." On top of that, I'm submitting a short story to an editor at Cleis Press early next week titled, "Frat Boys and Sloppy Joe." The back story with this one is interesting. It's actually one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish on Amazon. An editor decided to cut 10,000 words out of a novel I wrote, I agreed reluctantly, and then re-worked the cut scene into a short story for this Cleis Press book. I'll post more about that in the future; like I said, it's interesting (smile). In this case I don't think the Cleis Press book will be out until at least September or October of 2012.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review: The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler


Unless you've actually experienced a horrific event in your life that is so shocking it not only defines your past but also your future, it might be difficult to grasp the magnitude of The Beginner's Goodbye. In other words, that one day in your life...or maybe even minute...that defines everything about you and tests you, where there was your life before the event and then your life after the event. People who have experienced these sudden losses, so strange by nature they never could have been predicted, will know what I'm talking about. You're never the same again.

In this book it's the sudden loss of a spouse, in a relationship that was far from perfect and yet it worked for both husband and wife. And this sudden, unpredictable loss leaves Aaron not only in shock, but also going through all the stages of grief, from blame to acceptance. One minute he's living his normal ordinary life and the next he's living someone else's life and he's not sure how to start over. But more than that, he's not ready to let go of his wife either. There's so much left unsaid and so many things he wished he'd done he begins to run into his dead wife in the most unlikely places...or at least he thinks he does.

The intricate relationship between Aaron and his wife before her death is examined closely, and those who know and understand what being married for the long haul is all about...the compromises and frustrations and the little things taken for granted...will laugh and cry at various stages of this book. Even the reaction Aaron has to his own home is depicted in such detail, and it's so real, people who have lost their spouses will be amazed something like this could have been written so well. One day he's enjoying the less than perfect aspects of his home and the next he can't even stand to look at it from the curb.

As the story progresses, Aaron slowly moves forward toward his new life, by stumbling and tripping (literally and figuratively) with each step he takes. This is the new life he never imaged he would have. He does this in his own quiet way, by remembering little details about his dead wife's flaws and attributes. He examines his marriage all the way back to the moment he met his dead wife. And by doing this he not only learns more about his dead wife and his marriage, but he also learns a few things about himself he didn't see while he was married. At times it's funny; at times it's painful. For those who have experienced trauma like Aaron's experienced, at times it's even difficult to read.

I'm not going to give out any spoilers in this review because that would ruin it for all the people who will understand where Ms. Tyler was going with this book, and who will relate to Aaron. The writing is solid and tight, without overwritten sentences or poor dialogue tags. There's no unnecessary dialogue to slow down the pace. What's there moves the story and the characters forward with each sentence. And the only down side to reading a book like this by Anne Tyler is that now I'll have to wait at least another two years for her next novel.

My one suggestion would be to advise readers not to read the book description by the publisher. It does contain a spoiler I thought was intricate to the story, and had I read it before I started the book I would have missed out on one huge surprise in the book. I don't know who wrote this book description, but he/she clearly doesn't know how to write book descriptions very well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Personal Experiences: "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy"


Although I don't always base my fiction on past experiences...at least not the storylines...I do sometimes re-examine things I have experienced in a broad sense. I'm talking more about emotions and situations, not actual events and settings.

The western town in "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy" is fictional. I didn't even name it because I didn't see a need to do this in a short story. For all intents and purposes, this is a town that could be found anywhere in the US. And what the two main characters experience could be something any two men might experience anywhere in the world.

The basic plot revolves around Mike and Noah. Mike is a big strong cowboy who never admits to being gay or straight. Noah is gay. There's no doubt about this in his mind. But Mike doesn't like labels and refuses to classify himself in any category.

Mike is married to a woman and stuck in a loveless marriage. This has nothing to do with Noah. Mike's marriage was over long before he met Noah. Mike and Noah only meet in a dark rest area along the interstate on the outskirts of town and make love in the backseat of Mike's car because there's no place else for them to go. In small towns two men don't just walk up to a desk clerk at a hotel or motel and get a room together.

This part of the story I based on personal experience. Before I met Tony, I thought I was in love with a married ex-marine. He didn't like labels and he refused to call himself gay. That wasn't a problem for me. I understood his feelings and respected them. The problem for me was that I knew he would never leave his wife or his bad marriage, and I eventually broke off the relationship. It wasn't easy either. It was hard on both of us. But in the end we both knew it was the right thing to do. I only wish we'd done this before the wife found out about us. Trust me, it's not fun being chased around a rest area in your boxer briefs by a large woman in track shoes carrying a baseball bat.

I swore after that experience I'd never get involved with a "straight" married guy again. No matter how good we were together, I wouldn't let it happen twice. However, six months later I met Tony. We were both in college, both instantly attracted to each other, and wound up in the backseat of my car the first night we met. You can imagine the expression on my face when Tony told me on our second date that he was "straight" and he was engaged to a stewardess (this was that transition time when we still called flight attendants stewardesses). I'm putting the word "straight" in quotes because like the married ex-marine I had a fling with, Tony didn't like labels either. He's still not fond of them.

Lucky for me it was different with Tony. Twenty years later, we're still together and going through life the best way we know how. But it wasn't easy at first. I not only had to get Tony to commit to a relationship with me, I also had to deal with a vicious bleach blond stewardess who wasn't above playing every dirty trick in the book. Unfortunately for her, to make a long story short, she underestimated my skills and eventually found it impossible to compete.

Of course the storyline in "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy" isn't based on my experiences. And the ending is a little different than what happened between the ex-marine and me. But I wanted to write about "straight" men who are attracted to, and fall in love with, gay men...even though they don't like to be labelled gay themselves. It happens, and more often than most will acknowledge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing at London Book Fair This Week


Had I planned earlier, I think I would have gone to the London Book Fair this year. I've always wanted to go, and I would have been able to meet a few people from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). But I didn't even officially decide to publish with KDP until December. For those who read this blog you know I've been talking about indie authors for a long time and I've always been curious about it. It just took a while for me to make the decision...which had to do with many contributing factors in my career I'll eventually discuss at a later date. It should also be interesting because this year Hong Kong is taking part for the first time.

In the most recent KDP newsletter, here's what it says for those of you who are going to the London Book Fair:

As we’d previously announced, KDP will be at the London Book Fair April 16-18, 2012. If you find yourself in London in the next few days make sure to stop by our booth (EC2-W905) to meet us and best-selling KDP UK author Rachel Abbott. We will be hosting several sessions focusing on KDP and Rachel will also be signing copies of her UK Kindle best-seller, Only the Innocent, on Tues 4/17 1-2 pm at our booth. Check out our sessions:

Digital Zone session at Digital Theatre 2
A “how-to” discussion of reaching the growing Amazon Kindle audience and a demo on how to publish your book using KDP.


Tues, 4/17 11-11:20 am

Meet Rachel Abbott at the KDP booth:


Tues, 4/17 3-5 pm


In more KDP news, one of the most recently featured books on KDP was written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of "Pay it Forward," and "Jumpstart the World," also an author I've written about here on the blog several times long before I even knew Hyde was self-publishing with KDP.




Featured KDP BooksWhen I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When Nathan McCann finds, and saves, a newborn baby abandoned in the woods, he asks the baby's grandmother to someday bring the boy around to meet him. She agrees, but by the time she brings young Nat around, the boy is an angry 15-year-old with a police record and dreams of becoming a professional boxer. And she doesn't just introduce Nat to his namesake, "the man who found him in the woods." She washes her hands of Nat and leaves him with Nathan. Now Nathan must learn how to be both a father and a friend to a troubled kid who doesn't want his help, doesn't trust anyone, and doesn't understand his own heart or the possibilities of his young life.


For those who are interested in looking into more about KDP, here's an interesting piece from the newsletter about the Owner's Lending Program. I opted to do this with "Chase of a Lifetime," and so far I'm happy with the results I'm seeing.

In the month of March, KDP Select-enrolled authors earned an impressive $2.18 per book borrowed. From our recent press release: “Every time a customer borrowed an independently-published book in March, the author earned $2.18. That’s more than many authors earn when their books are sold," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

Early sales data indicates that inclusion in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library not only generates additional revenue from loans for authors, but actually increases customer purchases of authors’ work as well.


KDP will also be at BEA this year (Book Expo America), which I'll post when I hear more about it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

So They Brainstormed Without Her!

This past weekend an author friend of mine e-mailed asking advice regarding something that recently happened to her. In short, her publisher decided to brainstorm new book ideas for her, one of which included a pen name which is something she's never done before. She's also a new author and isn't familiar with the way things work all the time in publishing.

Brainstorming is a good thing when done with the right intentions. It is done all the time. I brainstorm with myself, silly as it sounds, every morning when I go for a six mile run along the Delaware River near Washington Crossing. I come up with some of my best ideas with these brainstorming sessions. I've brainstormed with my editors at Loveyoudivine.com with e-books like "A Young Widow's Promise." In that case I wasn't sure whether or not I should use my own name or a pen name because AYP isn't m/m romance. It's a m/f historical romance set in the Civial War, which is something I don't write often. Those brainstorming sessions with my editors at LYD, and others like them, have always been productive and I've valued the time the editors and the publisher have spent with me.

But there are some brainstorming sessions some (not all) publishers do that leave a great deal to be desired. One of which is the one my author friend told me about this past weekend. Her publishers decided to brainstorm...without HER. From the way it sounded to me they were treating her more like an employee of their publishing company than an author. The pushy editor didn't say, "This is what we think you might like doing." The pushy editor said, "This is what we want you to do." It wasn't a choice. It was an order.

There is a clear distinction between authors and publishers in most cases. Authors and publishers work together. The author doesn't work for the publisher. Of course it does happen, with certain publishers, where they will brainstorm without the author and then expect the author to do whatever they want without asking any questions, but this is when the author needs to seriously take all this into consideration. Authors who have good literary agents are lucky in this sense, because when this happens with a publisher, a good literary agent will go to bat for the author and help them decide whether or not what the publisher wants them to do is good for his/her career. You would think that anything a publisher would ask an author to do would be good for his/her career. But that's not always the case.

And this is why it's important for all authors, even those working with e-publishers, to learn how to represent their own best interests when it comes to dealing with what publishers want from them. And it shouldn't be assumed by any publisher that an author will agree with anything they want. Again, this is why authors have needed good literary agents in the past, and it's why they will need good literary agents in the future. Publishers have one concern: their own best interests. And what they consider good for them isn't always what's best for the author.

In the case of my author friend, I told her to weigh all her options before she signs anything or agrees to anything, especially if she isn't comfortable with what they want her to do. I also told her to make it clear to her publisher that the next time they decide to brainstorm about her career, or about something they want her to write in the future, to please include her in the brainstorming sessions. Like I said, most publishers do, indeed, take this into consideration. But there's always one pushy aggressive type out there who thinks they know what's best for the author and they aren't always right. Trust me, I've seen it more than once, where an author will agree to something he/she knows is questionable. It never works out in the end for the author. And this is when the author who doesn't have an agent has to start thinking like a businessperson. No one else knows your career better than you do and please don't ever underestimate this. If you have to turn something down now that you're not comfortable doing, you won't regret this in the future. Because if you're not comfortable with it now, you're never going to be comfortable with it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Link for "Unmentionable: The Men Who Loved on the Titanic"

Here's a link to Top 2 Bottom Reviews, for a nice blog post that was written about my short story, "Unmentionable: The Men Who Love on the Titanic." This is a quiet story and I don't usually write historical erotic romances. So I'm thrilled to see this.

Here's another link where I talk about writing the story.

Stem Cells Kill HIV in Mice


According to an article in The Advocate, researchers have been working with genetically engineered stem cells and mice, and apparently they've come up with a way to attack HIV positive cells.

Three years ago, UCLA researchers said they believed stem cells could be engineered to kill HIV. Now, their findings are working on living creatures — mice.

They are hoping this will ultimately remove HIV from the human body.

After implanting engineered stem cells into virus-affected mice, the researchers found the cells developed into a large population of "mature, multi-functional HIV-specific CD8 cells that could specifically target cells containing HIV proteins."

This is big. If this research proves effective it could mean we are closer to a cure. You can read more about it here, at the UCLA Newsroom.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

DOJ Lawsuit with Apple: The Simple Version


I wanted to post something simple about the DOJ's lawsuit with Apple. I've read so much, and so many complicated articles, I thought this one seemed to nail it in a basic sense. There's also a poll I thought was interesting, especially because I'm with the majority of other people who took the poll. The law is the law and no one is above it, not even Apple, regardless of personal opinions.

This is important because it can change things down the line. The link I found is from the LA Times. As far as explanations go, this is one of the best I've seen so far. You can get there from here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Titanic: 100 Years Ago


Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and I wanted to post something. In the past few months I think everything that could be written about it has been and I'm going to add a few photos.

The one thing I haven't seen is any mention of gay people, which is partly because "gay" didn't exist then, partly because same sex love/sex was considered a mental illness, and partly because some things transcend social issues. In other words, the magnitude of what happened on the Titanic rises above social issues, political issues, and religious issues. When the ship went down, it didn't matter what sex you preferred, what religion you believed in, or what political party you belonged to. In a way, there's something comforting about that.









The Astors




Harold Bride, a wireless operator on the Titanic, arrived in New York after his rescue.




Survivors





Dorothy Gibson, the infamous "Gibson Girl," famous subject for Harrison Fisher





Thursday, April 12, 2012

Amazon United Kingdom: Chase of a Lifetime


I've been receiving a lot of e-mails from readers in the United Kingdom about "Chase of a Lifetime" and I wanted to say thank you with this post. It's been on sale here at Amazon.co.uk since the release.

For a writer like me who has always depended on publishers, I can't thank you guys enough for making COAL a bestseller in the UK, too.

The entire self-publishing on Amazon process has been intense, humbling, and a huge learning experience for me. I promised I wouldn't spam anyone or do any outrageous promotions and I haven't. I didn't expect to blow anyone out of the water and I didn't expect to win a Pulizter. I just wanted to find out if I could do it alone. There were nights I didn't sleep at all because I couldn't stop thinking about edits for the book and other things like formatting that I never had to worry about before. Tony was ready to hit me over the head with a two by four more than once.




In a way, to see that COAL did well in the UK is a quiet, personal accomplishment for me. When I was in college I turned down an opportunity to study at the Fairleigh Dickinson University Campus in Wroxton, England because I didn't want to miss an internship I'd landed with a small text book publisher in Morristown, New Jersey. I don't have many regrets in life, but I will always regret that decision. I was an English major. I should have dropped everything and gone to Wroxton. But I was young, dumb, and didn't grasp the magnitude of what I was missing at the time. Seeing COAL on a bestseller list in the UK makes me feel a little better about missing that opportunity. And one of my future goals is to travel to the UK and spend time in Wroxton checking out the campus. If I had a bucket list, it would be in the top ten.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy" Cover Preview



This is my newest release from loveyoudivine.com. A release date has yet to be set but I will post when it is.

It's a short story, and below are the tag line and blurb. It's one of the few times I get into a subject like this. It happens in real life and without a happy ending in most cases. But I do know of a few cases where the ending was happy and I wanted to focus on that.


Tag:

When a guy falls in love with a married cowboy, he'd better know how to run like hell.

Blurb:

When Noah realizes he’s fallen in love with the wrong person, he decides to change his life and his circumstances. He vows he’ll never get involved with a cowboy or a married man again. But when Noah’s married cowboy, Mike, begs him not to leave, Mike explains that his marriage was over a long time ago and then he promises to do the right thing. Unfortunately, Mike’s wife finds out about Mike and Noah before Mike has a chance to tell her he wants a divorce. And, this all happens on Halloween night, when Noah meets Mike on his way home from a costume party. It’s the first time Noah’s ever done drag in his life and it’s only a joke. But Mike’s wife doesn’t find it funny when she catches Mike with his hand up Noah’s tight dress in the backseat of a car.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just Because I Like it...




swag/swag/

Noun:

An ornamental festoon of flowers, fruit, and greenery: "ribbon-tied swags of flowers".

Why Amazon Has "Like" Buttons...

I've been hearing a great deal about Amazon "Like" buttons and thought I'd do a little research and find out exactly what they are and what they do. We all know the basic idea, but I've seen a few interesting interpretations recently. I've heard of publishers asking (in some cases telling) authors to not only click the Amazon "Like" buttons on their own books, but also to ask other authors and readers to click it as well.

According to one web site, where it's explained in very simple terms, the "like" button is a shopping tool, something that helps Amazon make recommendations to you as a shopper, and something that can be helpful to you if you actually bother to look at the books (or products) Amazon recommends for you. I never do, and I have a feeling most would agree with me. You can read more here, where this is all discussed in more detail.

At this page, on Amazon Kindle Boards, some tend to think that the "Like" buttons are hurting authors more than helping them. Allegedly, readers use the "Like" buttons as a way to rate a book they enjoyed instead of leaving a rating or a review. This, allegedly, leaves nothing but negative reviews. I'm not sure I agree with this. But I could be wrong.

On the same thread, Amazon replies to a letter and says this:

The "Like" feature lets you tell everyone the items you like on our site and will help us in improving your personalized product recommendations. We're adding the "Like" button to item detail pages gradually, and it might be a while before it's visible on all pages.

This web site claims that Amazon's goal with the "Like" button is to create a more social place, like facebook. It's a way to personalize your shopping experience and to interact with other people...so they claim. This seems to sum it up very well:

Three things will happen when “liking” an item on Amazon:

1. You will receive recommendations of items based on what you have “liked”.

2. You will be able to view the amount of other Amazon customers that have “liked” the same product as you have.

3. The item that you have “liked” will be added to a list of your “liked” products.


I recently purchased a feather duster on Amazon (We don't have a WalMart within twenty miles because I live in a trendy tourist town that caters to high end clients with antiques and boutiques).I also don't have time to go out looking for feather dusters. So I spent and hour checking them out on Amazon late one night, ordered one, and loved it so much when it arrived I clicked "Like." After that, I was inundated with ads on Amazon for more feather dusters, so I know from experience that Amazon is tracking my purchases and making recommendations based on them. I have also clicked "Like" for books I've enjoyed, but I haven't paid attention to the suggestions Amazon is giving me for other books. Basically, the suggestions are invisible.

But regardless of what the "Like" button is supposed to do, even if it does help book sales, which has not been proven by anyone yet, I would think common sense dictates that in order to click the "Like" button as I did with my feather duster customers should also have made the purchase and actually liked the item. Because if you're clicking a "Like" button for something you know nothing about it defeats the purpose of the "Like" button and it's misleading other consumers. At least that's my take on the "Like" button. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to comment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I GET KNOCKED DOWN!!!! (but I get up again)

For writers who know what it's like to suffer rejection and get screwed over more than once in publishing. We've all been there, and if we haven't we will be eventually.

"Dammit" by Michele L. Montgomery: Published by Seventh Windows Publications


Before I get into anything else, I'd like to state up front this is a hard review to write because I don't want to give out any spoilers. But with "Dammit," Michele Montgomery had me surprised by her characters and the plot almost every time I seemed to think I had them all nailed down. In fact, the title of the book is perfect in more ways than one. Every time something took me by surprise I kept thinking, "dammit she did it again. I didn't see that one coming."

The book opens with an airport scene. This always resonates with me because I absolutely despise air travel because of the horrible complications that go along with it these days. But after reading the scenes in this airport, and some of the things that happen to Michael before he boards the plane, I might rethink how I feel about air travel and take a short trip somewhere. This is where Michele really is a master at fantasy, in my opinion. I read this book late at night this past weekend. And from Friday night until Sunday night, Michele took me away into a world of "what if combined with intrigue" and I loved every minute of it. I've had an intense month. I needed that and loved every minute of the escape. In fact, I've posted many times about how much I love Anne Tyler books. Well, I bought the most recent Tyler book and put that on hold so I could read "Dammit" first. I'm glad I did. It put me in a better mood and helped changed my perspective about a few things that have been irritating me recently. And books that can to that don't come along often.

The story revolves around Michael's adventure, and his good-natured way of being there for others. It talks about his past and how hard he's had to come back from some serious trauma most of us can only imagine in our worst nightmares. I liked him from the first page, and as I read more about him I started to like him even more. Without getting into spoilers (this is where it gets tricky and I don't want to ruin anyone's experience) he's had a rough past with regard to his love life, and he's still not completely over it nor is he ready to trust again. He's also very sexy and not obnoxious about this either. There are more than a few airport scenes that leave the reader on the edge, with teases and erotic references that made me smile more than once.

In the airport, Michael meets another interesting character, Carly. She's a little outrageous, she's funny, and she's not shy about anything. In fact, she's fascinated by the fact that Michael is so shy. When Carly goes to the gift shop, another character is introduced: Cash. He's strong, sexy, and just what Michael needs. But there's more to his story, too. And the connection between Michael and Cash is much stronger than Michael thinks it is in the beginning.

As it turns out, Michael is on his way to Pittsburgh to help out his cousin who has been committed by his step-mother because he's gay. There's another storyline here that's as emotional as Michael's own back story (and another big surprise later), and Cash seems more than interested in listening to everything Michael has to say. When they arrive in Pittsburgh, the sex scenes are as intense and emotional as the story and they add a layer of reality to the book that's done very well. The way each character and sex scene is handled in the book gives an authenticity that's hard to describe. The best way I could describe it is that I've been in situations like that, as a gay man, more than once and everything I read regarding the sex scenes could have happened to any gay man in real life. In other words, I didn't have that "Oh no, she didn't do that," moment during the sex scenes. I had that "Yes, she got that right" moment instead.

And the emotion was there, too. I've written about other books by Michele Montgomery and I've mentioned this before. It's one reason why I look forward to reading her work. The sex isn't just there for the sake of sex and yet the voice is strong. There's always some kind of a bond between her characters. And it's all executed in a way that keeps the story moving forward and the reader waiting to see what's going to happen next.

As I said earlier, there's a lot of intrigue in this book I didn't expect to see. It happens in a way that hits hard at times and to get into detail about this would ruin the book for other people. Let's just say that nothing is as it appears to be when it's first introduced. And as the characters arc and grow in different ways throughout the book the reader is in for more than a few shocks he/she didn't see coming. For this alone, I would recommend this book to anyone.

As a side note, "Dammit" is well written, in Michele's own style that I love. And as far as quality goes, I saw nothing to complain about. This e-book is just as well produced as any e-book from any large publisher I've read in the past year...in some cases it's even better. The book was published by Seventh Window Publications and I don't know much about them. But you can get there from here to check out their web site. And I will be checking out more books by them in the future. This prices look good, the covers look good, and it seems to be a simple site to navigate. I'm also hoping they publish more with Michele. She's an author who loves what she does and it shines through in her work.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Look Inside: Chase of a Lifetime, And Future Projects


I just saw that Amazon posted a preview of "Chase of a Lifetime." For those who don't know, if you click on the link here, and then click on the cover image on Amazon for COAL, a new window will pop up and there's a sample of the book.

It's a decent sized sample, too. I don't know how this part of the publishing process is done on Amazon. I didn't choose what the preview would be and I didn't choose the length of the preview. I've read some previews that are just a few pages. I've read some where you get the prologue and nothing else. With COAL, you get the entire first chapter and part of the second.

I'm happy with that. If I had been able to choose I would have done the same thing. There's enough there to set the story up and to show the basic quality of the book. We've worked on formatting all week and did our best to correct all the problems with those few indentations that weren't working. I didn't see any last time I went through the book. I hope my e-readers are showing the same thing other e-readers are showing.

In any event, the preview is up for those who would like to check it out. Like I posted the first day I announced I was doing this book on Amazon, it's a quiet humble little venture I hope will allow me the freedom to do a few things I normally wouldn't be able to do with publishers. Right now I'm working on something interesting...a novel that gets into doms and subs. I've never done that before (at least not in fiction :) and I wanted to give it a try. The main theme revolves around a sub who can't get enough dom, but is always torn between what he thinks is "normal" and "too much." In other words, like so many, he's plagued with guilt for a good deal of the book. And I'm not sure he'll ever get over it.

And please look for my new release with Loveyoudivine.com, which I'll post more about soon. It's tentatively titled, "Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy." But that might be changed because of the word "boy." I don't want anyone's search engine getting the wrong idea in these ever changing times of publishing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dammit! by Michele L. Montgomery


I've been waiting to write this post for a while. It's about Michele L. Montgomery, an author I admire.

She has a new book out and that's really all you need to know. Though I haven't read this book yet, I will. I have read other books by Michele and I've rated them on goodreads and loved them.

When I say I admire Michele, this covers a lot of ground. Most of all it's her work I love. And then there are the little things. When I run into her on social media, she's always doing something nice and it's always positive. I always get the feeling the Michele I see online is the same Michele I'd meet in person if I ever get out to Denver. This, I might add, comes through in her work, too.

If you like reading gay fiction, please take the time to check out her work, especially the new release.

Here's a link to Amazon. A link to another post about her. And below is the blurb to "Dammit."

Escaping the past isn’t easy, especially when the scars left behind are a constant reminder that trust and love can hurt.

Michael McKnight knows what it means to be on the run from memories. Years ago, after fleeing an abusive relationship, he was brutally stabbed and left for dead. His only savior had been a compassionate stranger he’d only gotten a glimpse of before slipping into the blackness that claimed him.

For Michael, recovery was an arduous and hard fought return to some semblance of normalcy. He rebuilds his life, spending his waking hours buried in work and fighting to forget the past. And his life seems to be going well until he finds out that his cousin Wayne is being held captive in a mental asylum for being gay. So he buys a plane ticket and flies out to rescue his cousin.

But the weather is against Michael, keeping him grounded and talking to a man who claims that he’d once saved his life and is willing to help him rescue his cousin. Can this man be for real or is something more sinister in the works?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

HTML, Formatting on Kindle, and Links for Help

So far, I'm happy with the basic formatting results with "Chase of a Lifetime," but I wasn't 100% thrilled, which is why we're still working on one issue. In several places, I've found that one line paragraphs, usually with dialogue, didn't indent properly. This isn't an editing issue and it's not that I don't know any better. It's a formatting issue that happens all the time when Word is converted to HTML and they aren't always compatible. There are tricks and secrets Tony knows that I honestly can't explain in detail. I will provide a few links below, though. (I'm going to try to get Tony to write a guest post, in more technical detail, about this.)

I'm not going to get into all the technical issues in this post. I barely know how to pronounce them let alone write about them. But since I've been talking about the self-publishing process since I started the project, strictly from the writer's POV, I want to mention everything I've experienced along the way. And, for the record, this isn't something I've read about on any of the more popular blogs about self-publishing on Amazon. I've read about how important it is to edit, to get a cover that works, and how to promote. In fact, what I've read about self-publishing has always been more about promotion and self-promotion than anything else. All those things are very important. But getting the right formatting is just as important, and for people thinking about self-publishing they need to know all the issues that can arise.

I've read where people who are self-publishing poetry books on Amazon go absolutely crazy. I've read so much by now I feel lucky that I've only experienced issues with indentations in only certain sections of the book. And now I know why I've seen these indentation issues in other e-books I've read...even from large publishers where I've paid 14.99 instead of .99. It's not a simple process and for anyone thinking about doing this I would advise getting help from a professional if you're not all that great with formatting and converting Word to HTML. It's almost like trying to translate one language to another, and sometimes things get lost in the translation. Tony is doing it for me. I'm very lucky to have a smart and good looking partner (who is great in bed).As I write this post he's still trying to figure out how to get those indentations right so a revised version will be up today. Considering some of the mistakes I've seen in all e-books, not just those that are self-published, this might not be the biggest issue in the world. But I'd still like to get it right. And not only for "Chase of a Lifetime," but for future Kindle books.

There are also issues with regard to e-reading devices I won't get into right now. Sometimes the formatting is perfect on Kindle devices and not so perfect on iPads or iPhones. I read about this late last night while I was checking out issues other authors have had. Getting digital books up and running is a science, and it's not easy. But authors are working on these issues all the time and trying to get them right. At least I hope they are.

Here's a link to one web site that I think explains some of the formatting issues very well (they also provide the QED E-book Seal of Approval, which I've blogged about before). Here's a link to another, written by an author who makes it easier to understand. Like I said above, if you're not the best at formatting and converting and you don't understand anything about HTML, you probably should hire someone to do it for you. It's worth the money.

In any event, a version of "Chase of a Lifetime" with the corrected indentations will be up today. It's not that different from what's already there, other than the fact that several sections where the indentations didn't format correctly should now be fixed. I've already purchased the book myself and I have it on three different devices, so what I'm going to do is take it off my e-readers and then have Amazon resend me the updated versions. So I'll be checking it out, on an actual e-reader, to make sure the issues were corrected.

This is just a small suggestion, but in a perfect e-book world Amazon would hire some of these college kids who have student loans to pay off to help out with these formatting issues. It would not only give Amazon a great boost as a seller of quality e-books, it would be a great way for Amazon to say they are helping the economy, too. Last I heard, we need more jobs in the US.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Release Day: .99 Kindle Self-Published "Chase of a Lifetime"


"Chase of a Lifetime" was actually put up on Amazon late yesterday, but it takes a while for it to show up...and you don't really know when it's going to show up. So I didn't want to announce anything until I knew it was up for sale and I could download it to my android first. Evidently, someone found out because I noticed a few sales already.

Obviously, from the photo above I did download it to my android, sometime around one in the morning. (I really needed to do this to see how it would look if I were to download it as a reader on a tablet.) And, I had to figure out how to get the kindle app for my NextBook Premium 8 before I could do it, which took me a while to figure out. I've been meaning to do this for a long time so I can read other kindle books from other authors on Amazon on my NextBook so I was long overdue. Up until now, I've only downloaded books from small web sites where e-books are sold and from the Kobo store. I have purchased other e-books from Amazon, but not on the android.

When you self-publish with Amazon, from what Tony has been telling me, you get choices. I decided to go with the lender program and that locks me into ninety days exclusively with Amazon. I don't have a problem with that. I comfortable with it in more ways than one, mainly because this is my first venture in self-publishing. It's a humbling experience and I'm still not sure what to expect. Amazon is my safety zone right now. But I do eventually want to distribute to other places where e-books are sold, especially on Kobo. I've heard that up in Canada, which isn't that far away from here, a lot of people read Kobo. I don't know if this is fact, but I've posted before about how much I love all Kobo products. I doubt Amazon will mind.

If any readers have any questions about COAL, please feel free to comment or e-mail me. I find one of the biggest issues is book size. People still don't know whether or not a book is a short story, novella, or a full length novel. COAL is a 60,000 word full length novel. I know I'm repeating this but I also know from working with the public in my own retail business for many years it's important to get these things out as much as possible.

Here's the link to Amazon, and below is the short blurb. Once again, I'd like to thank Dawne Dominique for doing the cover...and reading my mind.

When Jim Darling graduates from Princeton and goes back home to Texas, he dreads everything ahead of him. He’s almost twenty-one years old, still in the closet, and has never been with a man. Though his father wants him to go to law school so he can join him in his law firm, it’s the last thing Jim wants to do.

On Jim’s first night home, during his college graduation party at his mom and dad’s ranch, he runs into his best friend’s dad, Len Mayfield, a rugged, handsome investment banker in his late thirties who rides horses and wears a cowboy hat when he’s not working as an investment banker. Len’s life isn’t much different from Jim’s. He’s been in the closet forever, he’s trapped in a marriage of convenience with a wife who cheats, and he’s resigned to his circumstances.

That is until Len runs into the grown up version of Jim Darling at the graduation party. What happens after that blossoms into something neither of them ever expected. A long seduction leads to fantastic love-making. There’s enough passion, heartache, and frustration to challenge their fragile relationship in more ways than one.

Will Jim Darling find a way to come clean with his mom and dad so he can find the happiness he’s always wanted? And will Len Mayfield find the courage to finally come out of the closet and walk away from a life that has never made him happy?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime: Preview

Being that "Chase of a Lifetime" will be released this week, fingers crossed because we're still working on Amazon formatting to make sure it's right, I figured I'd post a quick preview of the contents. This is from Chapter One. I'll post more samples after the book is pubbed.

And, in case I didn't mention any of this, COAL is:

A full length 60,000 word gay erotic romance novel, not a short story or novella.

It's a .99 e-book that will only be released in digital format at this point.

I did sign up for the Amazon lender program.

Here's the preview. This is from a pdf and formatting with google blogger often gets mixed up, but I think I adjusted all the formatting errors:

When the pilot announced the plane would be landing in Dallas soon, the man
sitting to the right of Jim Darling leaned over and grabbed Jim's knee. He did this in a friendly way, with a smile and a joke about how he hated landings and take offs.

The poor guy didn't have a chance to leave his hand on Jim's leg for longer than a
second or two, because Jim's entire body jerked and slanted the instant the man touched him. Jim turned fast, flung the guy a startled glance, and clamped his knees together.Then Jim pressed his palm to his throat and tried not to gasp out loud. He'd been listening to the theme from The Titanic on his phone and hadn't expected to be touched by the man next to him.

Jim and the guy exchanged confused glances. The guy shrugged and moved so far
away from Jim his left shoulder wound up pressed to the window. Then he buckled his
seatbelt, faced the window, and didn't look at Jim again.

Jim sat back, buckled his seatbelt, and sighed without making a sound. He rested
his head against the seat and clenched the arm rests until his knuckles turned white. He pretended to look up at the ceiling, but stole a few sideways glances at the guy. He looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties, he wore a dark expensive business suit, and he had thick brown hair that had been styled in an expensive salon. Jim wanted to say something; he didn't want the guy to think he'd been offended by this gesture. He'd been cruising Jim since they'd boarded the plane in New Jersey. And Jim hadn't reacted to a single friendly gesture or comment he'd made. At the very least, he should apologize so the guy wouldn't get the wrong idea and think Jim had rejected him. But the guy looked as if he were so far out of Jim's league it wouldn't have mattered one way or the other.

When they'd first sat down next to each other, the guy looked Jim over and said
Jim reminded him of the musician who was the front man for the popular rock group
Maroon 5, Adam Levine, only with lighter hair. Then he started making small talk about how much he hated flying so often. He said he worked in sales for a large pharmaceutical corporation and he didn't have a choice. He joked about living out of a suitcase and eating too much fast food. He even made small self-deprecating jokes about one night stands and gay bars, casually informing Jim that he preferred men. He kept the conversation light and open so that Jim could jump in at any time and share his own story. But Jim just smiled and sat there staring at the back of the seat in front of him nodding and saying, “Ah well, isn't that nice.”

It wasn't that Jim didn't want to talk to him. Jim took it as a compliment when the
guy said he reminded him of Adam Levine with lighter hair. Other people had said that
recently, too. Jim just didn't know how to talk to good looking men, especially good
looking men who seemed to be flirting with him. Although people told Jim he looked
good all his life, he'd never believed it completely. He'd recently started getting his hair cut at a better salon, working on his body, and wearing better clothes. The transformation he'd made his last year in college seemed to stun most of the people who knew him. And he hesitated to react to the attention.

Jim had always wanted to be six feet tall and he'd never grown the extra two inches. He'd always wanted thick dark hair; the only way for him to get that would be to dye his sandy brown hair. He often dreamed about having bulging muscles and washboard abs like guys in magazines. He could eat anything he wanted and always maintain a thirty inch waist. He'd never been embarrassed about the size of his penis. But his nose went slightly crooked at the bridge, his brown eyes were a little too small, and his ears stuck out a little just like Adam Levine's. And when he sat next to guys like this salesman who looked like he'd always wanted to look…perfect…he tended to lose his voice.

He was also an almost twenty-one year old virgin, which didn't help his self confidence. He'd had plenty of chances to have sex with other men. He'd said no to more guys than he could count. For some reason he couldn't explain men were always making advances toward him, especially since his recent transformation. He often wondered what they saw that he'd missed. But sex with other men seemed so complicated and dangerous; he needed more time. He worried about sexually transmitted diseases, he wanted to get to know a man before he hopped into bed with him, and everyone else always seemed so much more experienced than he did. A good deal of the time he imagined himself having sex and not knowing what to do once it started. This anxiety alone made him break out in sweat. So he wound up not having sex at all, waiting for the right man to come along that would sweep him off his feet and teach him how to do it right.

When the plane landed in Dallas, Jim and the guy who had been sitting beside
him parted in the airport and Jim knew he'd never see him again. Jim went to baggage
claim, gathered his luggage, and loped out of the airport to meet his father out front. He spotted his father's long black Mercedes sedan behind a silver mini-van filled with screaming kids, but his father wasn't driving. A middle aged woman honked the horn and climbed out from behind the steering wheel.