Friday, November 30, 2012

Random House Announces "Digital Only" Publishing Venture



And they all told me e-books would never go anywhere four years ago. Not Random House exactly, but someone who worked closely with editors at Random House and other large publishers.

And am I glad I didn't listen to THEM. For those who don't know, e-publishing was basically being laughed at four years ago on almost all publishing blogs. The mainstream media didn't even mention it. Digital only was a huge joke. And most of those in trad publishing who didn't see the trend toward e-books coming must be shocked to see something like this announcement from Random House.

I got this directly from my inbox, from a publishing insider who knows what he's talking about. I've seen it announced in a few other places, so I'm not telling tales out of proverbial school. Basically, it's nothing new even though they make is sound as if they've just invented Hostess Twinkies. They make it sound as if publishing digital only "shorts" is something new, and we all know e-publishers have been doing this for years now.

I'm happy to see that trad publishers like Random House are noticing the shift toward digital books, but I'm also a little annoyed that they will all be moving in on territory smaller e-publishers have pioneered for them. And when I say pioneered I'm not joking around. It's not easy to stick to something you believe in while all the so-called "professionals" are laughing at you.

So before you jump into buying something from Random House, or any other large publisher, don't forget all about the smaller e-publishers and authors who've been working hard to give you digital only books for the past decade. They knew what you wanted and they gave it to you.

  THE RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING GROUP
ANNOUNCES NEW DIGITAL-ONLY IMPRINTS
NEW YORK, NY – November 29, 2012: Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of The Random House Publishing Group (RHPG), announced today the launch of three new genre-fiction digital-exclusive imprints: Alibi (mystery/thriller); Hydra (science fiction); Flirt (YA/New Adult) and an expanded list under the recently re-launched Loveswept (romance). A fully-dedicated editorial, marketing, and publicity team will support each publishing program.
The Loveswept publishing program—an imprint comprised of new digital-original and classic romance titles—was re-launched in 2011. Since then, new authors have been acquired and launched under the imprint, and new digital-original titles have been published each month. Building on this success, the digital-only program will be expanded to include the popular mystery/thriller, new adult, and science fiction/fantasy genres.
“There are many readers out there looking for exactly what Loveswept offers—compelling characters and great stories published frequently at an affordable price,” said Centrello. “We are thrilled to expand this program.”

The new imprint program will be overseen by Allison Dobson, Vice President, Digital Publishing Director, working with Scott Shannon, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Digital Content and Matt Schwartz, Vice President, Director of Digital Strategy.

Gina Wachtel, Vice President, Associate Publisher will oversee the editorial team, including Sue Grimshaw, Editor-at-Large, Romance, Randall Klein, Associate Editor, Mystery and Thriller, and Sarah Peed, Associate Editor, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

“As publishing continues to evolve, with more authors finding their first home in digital, our challenge is to create new ways for readers to discover books,” said Dobson. “This dedicated team understands both the content and medium, and can effectively break out authors in the digital space.” For a closer look at this exciting new program, visit http://www.atrandom.com/eoriginals.
RHPG continues to innovate digital publishing with a variety of groundbreaking and successful projects, including the POLITICO Playbook Election eBook series and the enormously successful e-shorts program, featuring bestselling digital e-shorts by Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Karin Slaughter, and many more.


Was Richard Burton Gay?



If Richard Burton was gay we'll probably never really know for certain. And that's because anything homosexual in Hollywood has always been kept quiet. To a certain extent it's still going on right now. After reading and reviewing a biography about Merv Griffin and writing several blog posts about the book, I came to the conclusion that everything in the book either could have been exaggerated or it very well could have been absolute truth. No one screws gays over more than Hollywood or Washington, D.C.

Two things happened earlier this week that prompted this post. One, Tony and I were watching the made for TV movie about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's complicated love affair and Tony said Richard Burton was gay. I've read a lot of celeb bios over the years and I just didn't remember reading anything about Richard Burton being gay so I argued the point and we agreed to disagree. Then later that night I looked Burton up in the most basic of searches and read that there were, indeed, rumors of homosexuality linked to him. He even talked about it himself in an interview.

In a February 1975 interview with his friend David Lewin he said he "tried" homosexuality. He also suggested that perhaps all actors were latent homosexuals, and "we cover it up with drink".[24] In 2000, Ellis Amburn's biography of Elizabeth Taylor suggested that Burton had an affair with Laurence Olivier and tried to seduce Eddie Fisher[page needed], although this was strongly denied by Burton's younger brother Graham Jenkins.[25]

The second thing that prompted this post was when one of my readers with whom I correspond on a regular basis talked about his situation. He's married with children, living completely in the closet, he's always known he was gay, and he thinks a lot of that has to do with the fact that he comes from an extremely concentrated, strict religious background and lives in an isolated area. I can't go into details about that because it would violate his privacy. However, I did try to explain to him that his situation isn't that much different from thousands of other gay men just like him who don't come from his strict background. Some are Catholic and live in New York City. Some are Jewish and live in big cities like Chicago and LA. The point I tried to make to him was that his situation might be unique in many ways because his lifestyle is so strict and he is so isolated, but he's not the only one who is in the closet for some very valid reasons.

Men like Richard Burton were victims of their times and their circumstances. This article backs up the basic search I did.

Munn disappears unconvincingly down the trail of trivial titivation. Was Richard Burton gay? You'd have thought you might as well ask if the Pope's a Muslim. It turns out that John Gielgud assured Munn that Philip Burton, the teacher whose name the actor adopted, was a bit of a screamer on the quiet. "His mentor," moans Munn, "had more on his mind than mentoring."

It's no secret that Liz Taylor had more than a few gay fans, or that she had more than a few gay friends...and possibly husbands. A lot of this info is backed up in other bios I've read, like the one about Merv Griffin.

But soon Hunter dumped the gorgeous actress in favor of Tony Perkins. Wilding and Taylor tied the knot and had two sons. But Wilding continued an affair with bisexual actor Stewart Granger. As her marriage to Wilding fell apart, Liz found consolation in the arms of yet another homo- sexual, according to the bio. Elizabeth and Rock Hudson became intimate, the book asserts, but the affair wasn't a memorable one. "After several more between-marriage affairs, Elizabeth, then 24, landed in the arms of WIFE-BATTERING Hollywood producer Michael Todd, 47, who became her third husband," said the insider.

This article is about as insulting to gay people as it gets.

But Burton's brother Graham Jenkins described the claims as ridiculous.

He said that nobody who knew Richard would give it any credence because his brother was "the most heterosexual man most people had ever encountered".

Whether or not Richard Burton was gay isn't even the point. When a biography came out a few years ago suggesting that Burton might have been gay and that he had an affair with Sir Laurence Olivier, Burton's family came out in protest and tried to dispute it as if being gay were an outright crime. They were vicious about it. In other words, no one ever comes out in protest about a man having too much sex with women. But God forbid a man should be linked to gays in any way at all and they all come out with their claws. And ironically, if Burton was gay he never would have told his family, so his family are not reliable sources. In fact they would have been the last people who would know for certain. In those days homosexual men remained in the closet mostly BECAUSE of family. But more than that, his family's reaction to the possibility that he might have been gay is a perfect example of why he wouldn't have come out of the closet if he had been gay. As a side note, imagine if Richard Burton had been keeping it a secret that he was half African American. He wasn't doing that. I'm just showing an example. Would his family have come out in protest so viciously in that case? I don't think so.

The facts are sketchy and no one will ever really know for certain if Burton was gay or not. For that matter, no one will ever know if any of these alleged gay film stars and celebs were gay either. I've always been against things like National Coming Out Day and events that put pressure on gay people who are in the closet. I don't think it's fair and I believe that coming out is a personal choice only the individual should make when he or she is ready. In the same respect, I also think it's a little sad that if there were (or still are...lol) gay men like Richard Burton who have the power to change the world and give other gay men hope, they didn't/don't come out. I do think that's going to change in the future, thanks to men like Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris. But what a shame it is to think that someone as talented and powerful as Richard Burton might have been gay and never admitted it. Burton was a heavy drinker...some say alcohol ruled his life. They say that most heavy drinkers drown their problems in alcohol for a reason. And I can't think of a reason better to drink than not being able to admit who you really are.





Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chase of a Lifetime, Allromanceebooks Holiday Promotion, Free E-books



I'm going to be posting reminders next month about the holiday promotion/event allromanceebooks.com is having partly because "Chase of a Lifetime" was selected to be in it and partly because I'm a fan of smaller boutique retail web sites where e-books are sold.

I've said it before; I'll say it again. Amazon is great for many things, and they are important players in the publishing industry. I'm a huge fan of the KDP program. But there's just something so discount store and shabby about Amazon in a general sense. You don't get that personal feeling you get with smaller retail web sites, and frankly, you can't trust any Amazon reviews for anything, from toasters to condoms. I once bought a pasta machine there and it turned out to be one of the best pasta machines Tony's ever had. I don't cook, so I don't know much about those things. And it's a good thing I didn't pay attention to one of the reviews for that pasta machine left by some wing nut who probably never made fresh pasta in her life. We've had it for about four years and never one single complaint.

But I digress. I think most people would agree that Amazon reviews suck and they offer very little personal assistance when you need consumer help. The product descriptions are even worse. So that's why I'm always trying to steer readers to smaller more personal web sites like Allromanceebooks.com.

And aside from getting great customer service, you get excellent product descriptions and the reviews can usually be trusted on smaller sites. Just like it's important to support your small retail business where you live, it's as important to remember to support small retail web sites. They are working hard to compete with monsters like Amazon and I often wonder if most shoppers realize this before they make purchases. As a small business owner, I know how important this is.

One of the things I've found I love the most about self-publishing the four books I wrote this past year was that I get more control over what I can do with marketing and promotion. And when I submitted "Chase of a Lifetime" to be in allromanceebooks's holiday promotion, I was hoping it would be selected so I could give something back to readers who've given so much to me. I'm not sure if any of my other books with publishers will be part of the promotion, but I wanted to make sure at least one book from Ryan Field Press was there.

There will also be other books by other authors in this holiday promotion and I'll post more details about it as we get into December. But check out the allromanceebooks web site this month for their announcements and you'll be able to get a few free e-books for your own enjoyment. This time of year is busy and can be stressful, and there's nothing that relaxes me more than shutting "it" all out and burying myself in a book.

From my inbox:

We are so excited about the upcoming promotion of your book, Chase of a Lifetime in our annual Christmas promotion, the 12 Days of Christmas.


 Your book will be the 4th free read and available for download to readers on December 16th and December 17th.
 
 
Photo from my own personal collection 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gay Marriage: Not Just About Love and Romance

When I saw the photo below on social media I decided to post it here because I sometimes think that people think LGBT men and women are fighting to legalize same sex marriage for romantic and emotional reasons only. That's only part of the fight. A big part, yes. But not the whole story. It's about all kinds of human rights most people have and take for granted that we'd like to have as well.

Author Copies; Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey; When Bad Reviews Help




I just got my author copies of "Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey," and getting author copies of a print book is still as exciting now as it was twenty years ago when I saw my first story in a print book...even in a world where e-books are starting to take over completely.

I'll be honest about e-books. That's all I read now. For the most part, that's all I write now, too. And I can't even imagine going back to print books...reading or writing them. But that doesn't make it any less exciting to get an author copy of a print book in the mail. Especially a book like FWoFSoG, where forty-nine other authors I admire wrote about their thoughts on what has become one of the biggest books of the year, "Fifty Shades of Grey." And, more than that, FWoFSoG is also available as an e-book for those who don't want print anymore. I offered my own mom a copy of the print book and she declined because she only reads on her iPad now. Never thought I'd see that day.

In any event, I wanted to post a few afterthoughts about FWoFSoG. This book is more than interesting to me because I didn't plan to be part of it. When the editor of the book, Lori Perkins, mentioned it to me, I jumped at the chance to be in it. I also respect and admire Lori as an editor and I like working with her. She has ways of challenging writers that don't happen often. I also I had a few mixed, unresolved emotions about E.L. James's novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey." I've posted a little about this before. But I'd like to get into more detail now. I read FSoG the novel before it went mainstream...about a month before it really turned into a big book. And the reason I read it had more to do with a vicious, scathing, nail-spitting book review I'd read on a web site that's now being accused of bullying in some circles.

I stay out of bully issues and all the drama that's going on right now with various authors, readers, and web sites. I really am neutral and I'm going to remain that way. I've had my fair share of bad reviews I've thought were questionable and I've never addressed them, not once. I've also had bad reviews that helped me learn and grow as an author. I've never "behaved badly" and I never get involved in reader discussions about my books on goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere else. I've been around long enough to know that I can't please everyone and bad reviews are part of the game. I've also been around long enough to know that there are, indeed, fake reviews written by sockpuppets that are designed to hurt authors, publishers, and books. I think most people know this, readers and authors. We know how to spot the fakes and we know there's no point in addressing them.

What prompted me to read "Fifty Shades of Grey," was a scathing review on this web site that has been accused of bullying. I posted about it here, without mentioning the title way back in February before the firestorm happened this summer. That review of FSoG was so bad, and so carefully designed to hurt the author, I had to go over and buy the book just to see what it was all about. Sometimes the worst reviews help sell books, too. In my case I wouldn't have bought FSoG at the time because it's not a book I would typically be drawn to. But when I read the bad review, knowing the awful taste this particular web site has in books, I figured I'd give FSoG a chance. I'm not joking around about this either. This particular web site has such bad taste in books, films, and all content, I'm amazed they actually have a readership. But then their readership could be based on freak show entertainment...everyone loves a good sideshow at the circus. In the same respect, I also have to thank them for pointing me toward FSoG. If it hadn't been for their vitriol, I wouldn't have been able to say I read FSoG right before it went mainstream.

And I liked FSoG. I could see how the elite in publishing wouldn't. It took a while, but I could see how those who are into BDSM wouldn't. But I'm not an elitist and I'm not into BDSM, and I read FSoG from the POV of a reader who just wanted to be entertained with a nice story. And that's exactly what I got. No complaints then, and none now. And I'm thrilled to see that an author like E. L. James found that kind of success with a book that's considered erotic romance, and also a book that took so many hits from vicious bloggers in the beginning. I think this proves a few things to both readers and authors. One, there is a market for erotic romance with mainstream readers. Two, these vicious snarky web sites where "mean girls" hang out and books and authors are ripped to shreds are not as relevant as they once were. In fact, they are starting to look a little lame now...dull, bland, and lifeless as a pencil skirt.

So I wound up buying the novel, FSoG, out of curiosity, and I will admit out of pity for the author. As I said, the scathing review was so vicious and so hurtful, I actually felt compelled to buy it and read it in support of the author. This isn't the first time that's happened. Thanks to bad reviews from that one particular web site, I've found some of the best books I've read in years. And they were books I normally wouldn't have purchased...like FSoG. I also know I'd never like a book they reviewed well, so they help me decide which books I don't want to purchase. I know that sounds a little convoluted, but try it sometime. It's a great way to vet books when you're reading for entertainment.

I think those who've read FSoG, whether they liked it or not, might find this book FWoFSoG interesting because it's not filled with glowing reviews. It's not filled with short erotic stories either. I figured I'd mention this, too, because I saw one bad review on Amazon left by someone who thought he/she was getting a short story anthology. This is a book of essays and opinions. Not a book of short fiction. It seems clear enough from the book description, but I've learned never to assume anything and I figured I'd mention that again in detail. Product description is so important.

I know there are a lot of people out there who didn't like FSoG. And I respect their opinions. I also think that this book written about FSoG helps readers and writers understand why the book resonated with people in so many different ways. But there's no ignoring one huge fact about FSoG. It's a book that came from fanfic, was never expected to do anything special, and now millions of copies have been sold and there are non-fiction books being written about it. So love it or hate it, the author must have done something right to spark that kind of controversy. And the most entertaining thing E. L. James did was to prove that one particular web site where books are reviewed really sucks big time. You don't see THAT happen very often. But when you do you enjoy it for all it's worth. Don't screw around with karma. It'll always come back and bite you in the pencil skirt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Angus T. Jones of Two and a Half Men Should Just Give All That Dirty Money Away

 
 
 
 
 
Because of the nature of what I write, and because I write for *adults only*, I find what Angus T. Jones recently said about his TV show, Two and a Half Men, interesting.

"I'm on 'Two and a Half Men' and I don't want to be on it,” Jones said in one of the YouTube videos. "If you watch 'Two and a Half Men,' please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television — especially with what you watch."

And then someone from the PTC responded this way:

Recently, the Parents Television Council lambasted the pervasive lewdness of “Two and a Half Men”: “The content on ‘Two and a Half Men’ is not appropriate for children of any age. … Far worse than the frequent use of foul language is the constant barrage of sexual scenes and jokes.”

I don't actually watch Two and a Half Men anymore. I think the show's had its day and it's time to move on to sitcom eternity. But I do think that if Angus T. Jones feels this strongly about the TV show on which he's made so much money and gained so much fame, in an industry where less than average looking actors without specific acting skills are rarely offered the opportunities he's had, he should take the matter even further.

After all, he's a good Christian, and that's what good Christians do when they truly believe in something. He should take all the money he's made from that show (roughly $300,000.00 per espisode) and give it to his church, or to his favorite charity. All of it, every last cent. He's been very vocal about how he feels about the show but says nothing about all the money he's made on that show. This way, if he gives the money away, he'll be cleansed of all his sins and he can go work with the rest of the people his age struggling to get by in a society that is becoming less upwardly mobile by the day. I'm sure they could teach him how to make a killer latte at Starbucks.

I really do hope his producers let him out of the show for this one. Give him exactly what he wants. If I were in charge of that show I'd find an interesting way to kill off his character that would make what Linda Bloodworth Thomason did to Delta Burke's character on Designing Women look tame.

Who is Harvey Milk?



I was dumbfounded recently when legendary Harvey Milk's name came up in conversation and two gay people didn't know who he was.There's something so sad about this it's hard to put it into words. I could understand them not knowing who Fred Karger is because he doesn't have the backing or the resources to sway minds like other politicians. But Harvey Milk is so fundamental to LGBT history you really have to wonder what's going on these days.

So if you are LGBT, or you write about LGBT people, and you don't know who Harvey Milk is, and you don't know that he died a violent death on November 27, 1978 in San Fransisco, at least take the time to check this link and find out something basic about him.

New Release: The Ivy League Rake...Bad Boys of Harvard Yard


Update #3: I feel like Barry Eisler with all these updates, but here's one for Amazon now where The Ivy League Rake can be found in digital or in print.

Update #2: Here's the link I promised. This is to the ravenous romance web site where the book is priced at 4.99. I think that's discounted from other retail web sites. But I will post Amazon links, too.

Update: Still don't have a link because of web site issues. I will post something as soon as I get it.

"The Ivy League Rake" is the first book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series I've been working on for Ravenous Romance. As a series, the concept is focused on full length stand alone books with different characters. The book after this is "The Wall Street Shark," and I'm working on "The Vegas Shark" right now. It's been a challenge to take the traditional romantic concept of "rakehell" and apply it to a modern gay romance. Those who have known or dated these bad boy rakes will know what I'm talking about.

The part of the "rakehell" concept I find most interesting is how we always want to change them and turn them into the perfect men. In reality most of us know that's never going to happen, and yet we still try time and again. But in fiction, where anything can happen, sometimes there are happy endings.

Here's the plot description:

Elroy Donahue, the spoiled heir to a billion dollar ice cream fortune, must get a degree from Harvard in order to gain control of the family fortune. Thankfully, what he lacks in academic skills he makes up for in looks, personality, and a deep seated desire to get what he wants no matter how he has to do it.
Then humble Kyle Sparrow comes along and changes everything. Kyle’s an excellent student, he’s grateful to be at Harvard on an academic scholarship, and he’s never been promiscuous. When Elroy discovers Kyle is his new roommate, he immediately begins to figure out ways to seduce him.

But Kyle isn’t like the other guys Elroy has known in the past. He wants love; he craves emotion. For the first time in his life, Elroy is not only rejected, he’s forced to examine his careless lifestyle and take responsibility for his actions. The harder he tries to do the right thing the more he fails.

Will Elroy’s thoughtless attitude discourage Kyle? Or will Kyle turn out to be the only man on the planet who can transform this billionaire bad boy into the man he knew he could always be?

The book will be released today sometime, but I'm not sure exactly when. And when I get links I'll update this post. But "The Ivy League Rake" will be on Amazon and all other retail web sites where e-books are sold as soon as possible. As a sidenote, after publishing four e-books on my own, I now understand why it's sometimes difficult to get a set time for an e-book launch. Some web sites take longer than others, and you're never really sure.

Here's a short excerpt that won't be published anywhere for free other than here. It shows how they develop a mutual sense of humor as they build their sometimes tumultuous relationship.


Kyle agreed to go shopping as long as they went to discount department stores where clothes didn’t cost a fortune. This passed Elroy by. If someone had offered to buy him new clothes he would have gone to the most expensive designer boutiques in Boston. When they walked into the discount store Kyle had chosen, Elroy looked around and rubbed his jaw. He’d never even been to a place like this. The people all seemed so downtrodden and dreary it depressed him. The lights were harsh, the floors scuffed, and the people who worked there wore name tags. For Elroy, these were stores people passed on their way to the good stores.
It turned out to be an education for Elroy. When he saw that most of the clothing wasn’t all that different from what he usually shopped for in more trendy shops, he went to work selecting simple classic things for Kyle. And when he glanced at the price tag for a pair of beige chinos and saw they were only twenty-five dollars, he scratched his head and said, “I just paid two hundred bucks for a pair of pants just like this in Boston.”
He wound up getting Kyle a few basic outfits he could wear anyplace without looking unusual, including a warm black pea coat and a few mock turtleneck sweaters. He would have bought him a few suits and ties and some formal wear but Kyle refused. He said he had no intention of going anywhere formal in the immediate future and when he did need something formal he would buy it himself. “I’m here to study and learn, not to run around trying to keep up with the most important social circles in Harvard,” was how he’d put it. So Elroy found solid colored polo shirts, faded jeans, and chinos without pleats. He didn’t mention this to Kyle, but he liked the way the chinos hugged his ass. They made Elroy want to bang him even more. Along with the outfits he bought for Kyle, he wound up buying six pairs of pants for himself because he couldn’t resist the prices.
While they were in the fitting room trying pants on, he offered to share a fitting booth with Kyle and help him change his pants. Kyle smiled and declined. But Elroy did have a little fun to Kyle’s chagrin. He couldn’t resist the temptation. Kyle had finished trying on pants and he was waiting for Elroy outside the fitting room. While he waited, in a store filled with other people browsing through racks, Elroy walked out of the dressing room wearing nothing but a pair of tight red boxer briefs in front of everyone. The underpants were so tight his junk resembled a sack of walnuts. Kyle’s back faced the fitting room entrance. Elroy walked up behind him in nothing but the red underwear, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked, “How do these look? Are they too tight?”
A woman pushing a baby stroller took one look at Elroy’s junk, turned around fast, and walked in the other direction.
Two young guys in hoodies stopped and gaped for a moment.
One woman in her sixties giggled.  
An older man with gray hair took one look at Elroy in the red underwear and licked his lips.
Another older guy carrying a man-purse tripped over his own feet and knocked over a necktie display.
Kyle turned and stared at him for a moment. With a deadpan expression, he looked Elroy up and down and said, “They make your penis look small.”
Elroy sent him a smile and said, “I knew there was hope for you.”


Monday, November 26, 2012

Tighter Writing and What I Didn't Learn in College

I wish I could say that I learned how to edit and write tighter fiction in college, but it didn't happen that way. I'm not complaining. I went to a great college and had some excellent professors who taught me many valuable things about writing. But I learned more about real editing from good editors in publishing houses than I ever learned from unpublished English professors. I've also learned a lot from reading authors like Anne Tyler.

The most important thing I learned is this is all highly subjective, so when you read this post keep that in mind. The debate between what is considered good writing and bad writing has been going on since the history of the novel and I don't see that ending any time soon. So when I talk about tighter writing, I'm not necessarily talking about good writing or bad writing, because that would be dumb. Whenever I see someone willing to define good writing I step back and hold up a wooden cross. I'm only talking about a few tricks I've learned from some excellent editors. And these tricks are usually more technical and they are geared more toward keeping a story moving and keeping readers involved.

Here's an example of fiction that could be made tighter, and more relevant. I'm sure some would say it's fine the way it is, and most readers probably wouldn't even notice. But readers might be distracted and not even know it when they read things like this. And while I'm editing that's something I always keep in mind because I don't want to take that risk. In fact, I often ask for specific editors with the publishers I work with because I trust their judgement and I know they understand what good editing is. I didn't say good writing. I said good editing. And a good editor who knows what she's doing is hard to find.

This would be an example of how I might change something during edits:

Betty Jane, Kevin's nineteen year old sister and only sibling, was stretched out on the floor with her book centered over her face.

At a glance, there's nothing wrong with this. But I would change it to this:

Kevin's nineteen year old only sibling, Betty Jane, was on the floor with a book over her face.

If Betty Jane is Kevin's sibling, we know she's his sister. That's a given...unless his mom and dad got creative with names. There's no need for the word sister. And if she's on the floor with a book on her face, I would assume she's stretched out and the book is centered. It doesn't take much to picture it. If she were face down, her face would be buried in the book, not over her face.

He threw his backpack on the kitchen table with obvious vexation and more carefully set his pork roast on top of it. “I thought you were going to a movie or something with whatshisname, the guy who owns the gas station.” After pulling off his jacket, he went into the family room.

Here's what I'd change:
 
He threw his backpack on the kitchen table, set is pork roast on top of it, and sent her a glare. "I thought you were going to a movie with that dude, the owner of the gas station." He yanked off his jacket and joined her the family room.

First, who uses words like vexation nowadays, especially when writing about young people? So I don't find that word relevant at all. Second, if he threw the backpack he's obviously pissed off and there's no need to use big words that take the reader out of the scene. As for the dialogue, I think dude works better than "whatshisname." That sounds like something an older person who is out of touch would say. 

 Grudgingly, as if it were an imposition, Betty Jane sat up. “No. His name is Michael.” She  squinted at Kevin. “What the hell are you wearing?”

One last time, this is how I would change it during edits:

Betty Jane sat up and frowned. "No. His name is Michael." She leaned forward; her eyebrows arched. "What the fuck are you wearing, dude?"

I'm not a big fan of adverbs, especially "ingly" adverbs, so I try to stay away from them at all cost. And if two teenagers are alone in a house, I think they would use the word "fuck" instead of "hell." At least the ones I know would. But that's debatable, I know. Also, I switched "squinted" to "frowned" because I would hate readers to think she's having issues with her eyes unless it's relevant to the story.

None of the examples above are actually incorrect, and I'm not saying that the way I changed them makes them better or worse. I'm only saying that there are ways to edit and ways to condense. If you are an older author, taking the age of the characters into consideration is important, too. You don't want teenagers (or new adults) sounding like middle aged women, so it's important to listen to the way real teenagers speak. They usually think the same way.  

And remember, there is no right way or wrong way. Sometimes it just comes down to a matter of style. But I do think looking into word economy and tighter fiction is at least something to consider. The only need to impress your readers with big flowery words like "vexation" is when you're writing about a character who actually speaks with big flowery words like "vexation."  I know these things are small, but it could be the difference between keeping readers interested and losing them along the way.   






 

 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Robert Pattinson Wants to Write His Own 50 Shades Erotica



Either Robert Pattinson has a great sense of humor and he's sending E.L. James a message in code, or he's about to embark on a new career as erotic author. And while I would definitely buy one of his books if he did write an erotic romance, I have a feeling he's more interested in letting E.L. James know how he feels about "Fifty Shades of Grey" as a fanfic novel based on "Twilight."

While the talented inner goddess author EL James has made it clear that while the bestselling erotic novel trilogy of “50 Shades” was initially based off “Twilight,” the writer is not considering to have Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart star in key roles Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. However, Pattinson is not after a starring part in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film, but rather writing his own erotic novel for fans around the world.

Don't ask me WTF a "talented inner goddess author" is, because I couldn't tell you if my life depended on it. How these hack writers get paid to put things like that in print passes me by. But I have to wonder if the reason why "inner goddess author" James doesn't want Pattinson to play Christian Grey is because FSoG is based on "Twilight" and she'd rather not be that closely associated to "Twilight" anymore. Let's face it, I liked FSoG, but most people don't even know it's based on "Twilight." Not a clue. And when you think of "Twilight" Pattinson is one of the first people who come to mind.

In a recent interview, Robert Pattinson was asked if he had any interest in eventually writing a book, and if so, what books he might want to author with his experience. The Edward Cullen actor quickly replied:

“Surely something along the lines of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ I would really like to do that and put a spin on it by inverting the casting roles: making the woman the one who is punishing the man. It would be so much fun. Something like ‘Misery’ … but really he loves to be in that situation, you know?”

Now that sounds interesting to me. He's going to parody FSoG. I've always been open about the parodies I've written, and I've always written them with an intention I may or may not have talked about much. It's not always because I'm a fan of the movie or the story...most of the time just the opposite. But there's always been that underlying reason behind what I've done. And I have a feeling Pattinson has his own reasons for wanting to parody FSoG. And wouldn't that be fun to see.

You can read more of the article here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not Affiliated With "The Secret Tool"

I noticed I've been getting hits from a blog called The Secret Tool, and I'm not sure why. From what I can tell, TST is one of those ads that promise to teach people how to make money from a concept called auto-blogging. I'm not sure why they linked to me or what this is about, but For the record it was not something I solicited. This blog has never been for profit and although I sometimes talk about books, products, or films I like I endorse no one. And certainly not a business that claims to make bloggers money. I believe that defeats the purpose of free and fair blogging, especially publishing blogs. And I would NEVER endorse something without knowing anything about it. I will check into this further to see what it's about. And if you were referred here from The Secret Tool, I apologize that they have wasted you time.

Jeremy C. Shipp's Monster Party...



I've posted about this guy, Jeremy C. Shipp, before. He's a prolific author of books that deal with the unusual...like horror fiction that involves attic clowns and other creepy cool things. I love his work, I've left a review for him, and I plan to read more soon. I think he was also a finalist for the Bram Stoker award.

And he's having a monster party over at tumblr right now.

You can get there from here to see all kinds of things that will make you think, smile, and wonder!

Here's his Amazon bio:

Jeremy C. Shipp is a weird author of Bizarro, horror, dark fantasy, and magic realism. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Harlan County Horrors, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, and The Bizarro Starter Kit (blue). While preparing for the forthcoming collapse of civilization, Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse with his wife, Lisa, and their legion of yard gnomes. He's currently working on many stories and novels and is losing his hair, though not because of the ghosts. His books include Vacation, Sheep and Wolves, and Cursed. And thankfully, only one mime was killed during the making of his first short film, Egg.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What You Never See About "Adult" Bookstores in Films

 

What you never see about "adult" bookstores in films (or books) could fill a volume of books...either fiction or non-fiction. And that's because there's one important aspect I always see left out (for some reason) and it might be the one of the most important ignored aspects. I'm sure some of you already know where I'm going with this right now.

Even I've been reluctant to write about adult bookstores in erotic fiction for reasons I'm not always sure about. One reason is that it examines a seedier aspect of society that often leaves me feeling uncomfortable for many reasons. In a way, it is like crossing over to the dark side for a while. And the topic doesn't come up often in romances with characters that are more centered on love and emotion.

I've written more than a few sex scenes over the years. And one thing I've recently promised myself is that I'm going to write more blog posts about sex in fiction...partly because I write about sex and I think my discreet readers want to read more about it and partly because sex seems to be one of the least discussed topics in publishing. In fact, it's almost taboo. If you just take literary agent blogs and examine them alone, you'll see that almost none of them ever discuss sex, not even in the most basic pg rated ways. I often wonder why they don't post "No Sex in Publishing" on their sidebars.

This has always confused me as a writer, and it's one reason why I wrote an abridged and unbridged version of "Chase of a Dream." When I'm writing sex scenes, I'm taking the reader to a deeper place...a private, personal place where we all go sometimes. But that often seems to be ignored in publishing, and yet I hear all the time that sex sells. I think I would fall sideways if sexless blogging literary agents like Janet Reid or Kristin Nelson ever wrote a serious post about sex in fiction and what editors want. Maybe editors don't want any sex in fiction? I honestly don't know the answer to this. But if sex is one of the things we all think about for a better part of the day in real life (more than a few studies have proven this in both men and women), wouldn't (shouldn't) sex be a topic of discussion at least once in a while on a publishing blog in a basic sense? Stands to reason. I can't be the only one who has wondered about this. But I don't see THAT changing any time soon. Some of these publishing blogs are so self-censored and calculated toward controlling new writers I often wonder how they continue to do it without getting sick of themselves.

And Hollywood's not that much different from publishing. What prompted this post was a film I caught last night by accident. It's called "Peep World," starring Michael C. Hall. It wasn't a bad film, and this isn't a film review. But I did want to post something about the way they handled adult bookstores and peep shows in the film. In one scene, a young pregnant woman follows her handsome young husband (adorable Michael C. Hall) to an adult bookstore called "Peep World," and finds out that he's been going there to watch adult films in those dark private booths almost all adult bookstores have in the back.

When she followed him inside, distressed and in a panic, passing displays for sex toys and BDSM gear of the most explicit kind, I thought, "Oh shit, this is going to get good." And the reason I thought this way is because the private booths in these adult bookstores are almost always places where men have sex with other men. I'm not going into details about this. I don't think I have to do that for you to get where I'm going here. The point of this post is more about the fact that this is never discussed, not in books or films.

As the woman passed through the main showroom of the adult bookstore, the manager tried to stop her. The private booth sections in these places are almost like sacred ground and you don't go in there screaming your husband's name and banging on the doors of the private booths. It's just not done. But that's what she did, and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. But while I'm thinking she's going to find her husband in a booth with another guy, the only thing that happens is all the men start running out of the booths and out the front door in their one state of panic. The implication in this scene was that men ONLY go to these places to sit in small dark booths, watch porn, and masturbate.

By the time this woman had finally cleaned out the entire back room of the bookstore, she found her husband...obviously alone in a booth in the back. I would like to clarify that some men do go to places like this just to sit alone and watch porn. But a large number go there for other reasons. And sitting alone watching porn is the least of those reasons. In most parts of this country adult bookstores with private booths are the only places men can go to meet other men. The Internet has changed a lot of this for the better now that men can meet men online. But there was a time not too long ago when the only place for some men to "meet" other men was in adult bookstores because the gay bars were too far away and the rest stops and public bathrooms were too dangerous.

I'm no expert in this matter. I've haven't been to one of these adult bookstores in many, many years. But I did go when I was single, it didn't take long to figure out what was going on behind the scenes, why most of the men in these dark back rooms were there standing in the hallways lurking, and what was expected. As I said, I don't think I have to go into details in this post for people to know what I'm talking about, at least not at this point. Though I'm not fond of things like this, I also don't judge them. But it is a reality that's almost never portrayed the right way.

I almost didn't even write this post because it's such a sensitive topic. There are also people who don't know what really goes on in a lot of these adult bookstores because they've never been to one. For one thing, it's not a place where you see many women...at least not in the back rooms at the private booths. I also didn't want to talk about this because it's something so discreet. But since it never is talked about anywhere, and films like "Peep World" do get into the topic without really getting into what happens in adult bookstores, I thought I would finally post something about it for those who don't know.

Although some of the men could be in there just watching porn, sitting all alone like the guy in "Peep World," the odds suggest they aren't. And I think if you're going to write about a topic like this you should at least give a small hint indicating what really happens instead of misleading people into making false assumptions. If you follow this link, go with caution.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving...

I doubt I'll be posting anything tomorrow, so have a great Thanksgiving and a safe one, too. There are a lot of things going on this weekend, both online and off, so I know people will be very busy. And I just wanted to thank my readers and those who send me so many e-mails and share their personal experiences. I find each one interesting, and I've made a few good friends that way. Especially one from Amish Country in the Mid-west.

The "New Normal Thanksgivingfail;" A Real Gay Thanksgiving



Last summer I wrote a review for a non-fiction book written by indie author and well known blog author of "No More Harvard Debt," Joe Mihalic, titled "Destroy Student Debt." In that book Joe talks about how Hollywood distorts our concept of finances...and money in general...in a chapter I found more than interesting because it related so much to how I see Hollywood distorting the LGBT community all the time.

I've posted about the TV show "The New Normal" as few times here. At first, I had a good feeling about it. I really liked it. I now think that's because I really wanted to like it so much because there's so little to watch on TV that gay people can actually relate to. Logo turned out to be a huge bust; Glee is so sticky sweet it makes my teeth hurt. Modern Family is marginal, but not all that accurate. So there wasn't much for gays. I thought we'd finally found a decent TV show. But boy was I wrong. "The New Normal" just took gay characters right back to the 1940's in their Thanksgiving episode last night, to a time where Hollywood used objectify people of African descent as maids, porters, and handymen.

"The New Normal" was created by Ryan Murphy, who also created "Glee." As I said, I had high hopes for this show because the characters seemed likable in the beginning. I also remember feeling that way about Glee, too. But I stopped watching Glee after the first season because the storyline with the gay characters just left me wondering how far anyone in Hollywood will actually go to make a buck. And we are talking about people who are making millions of dollars creating and writing gay content, so I don't feel a hint of guilt expressing my own personal opinions now.

The biggest problem with "The New Normal" Thanksgiving for me was I just couldn't relate to it as a gay man who has been in a twenty year relationship with his partner/husband and has hosted more than a few huge Thanksgivings with family and friends. I'm not sure if the "gay" outfits they wore on that show were more offensive than the political commentary, but I can tell you this: that's not how it works in all gay households. In fact, far from it. First, we don't talk about politics on Thanksgiving. And the main reason why we don't is because there are as many gay Republicans in my circle of gay friends and family as there are Democrats. If there is a "new normal" I think this is a big part of it. Not all gay people are Democrats. Some are liberal Republicans who care about the same issues Democrats care about, but they are fiscal conservatives. And that's just a small part of how it works. But you don't see that on TNN. I don't want this to become a political post about gay people. I'm just giving an example from my own personal experience that I know as many gay Republicans as I do Democrats. And politics is not discussed in our home on Thanksgiving Day. Period.

But to watch "The New Normal" you'd think we're all wearing polka dot shirts, we all have an alter set up for President Obama, and we can't do a simple basic task like picking out a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. That was the scene where I stopped watching "The New Normal" last night. (Actually, Tony said if I didn't change the channel he would throw the TV out the window, and then kick it down the street.) I go to a turkey farm every year, and I usually bring along a nephew or a niece and we pick out a turkey. It's a live turkey just like the one on TNN last night. They chop off it's head, prepare it, and we take it home and eat it on Thanksgiving Day. We don't take a half a dozen live turkeys back home and keep them as pets...not unless I name them Lunch and Dinner. My nieces and nephews never have a problem with this. And that's because I don't make it an issue.

I understand that TV, like fiction, should be larger than life, and exaggerations are necessary in any storyline. But there are so many excellent Thanksgiving storylines out there that range from turkey disasters to family arguments, I have to wonder what the writers at TNN are thinking when they portray gay men as helpless donkeys who can't even pick out a turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. And WTF ever happened to objectivity? Archie Bunker was a racist, a Republican, and basically ignorant, but he wasn't a beast, and the creator of that show always wrote his lines to show that he was more a victim of his upbringing than an actual racist.

Tomorrow we're having about twenty guests for Thanksgiving. They are all family and we've been hosting Thanksgiving for the past ten years. I have one brother who is recently married for the second time after going through a bitter divorce and it's the first time his new wife is spending Thanksgiving with us. Unfortunately, I won't get to see his kids because they'll be with my ex-sister-in-law for the day. My brother has 50% custody and they alternate holidays. I have a gay brother in New York who will be here, and he couldn't care less about politics. I have a gay nephew in med school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who is flying in today. He can get political, but he won't be wearing it on his sleeve. Tony's sister and brother-in-law are Republicans who believe in gay marriage, women's rights, and all kinds of liberal things. Shock of shocks! How could that be? I'm a liar, you say! I've lost my mind, you say! Well, I wouldn't be writing about it if it weren't true. Tony has a family of seven, and we all get along well, but they all can't be here for various reasons and we understand that. They have in-laws, too, so we'll see them at Tony's sister's house on Christmas. Basically, we'll be spending Thanksgiving just like millions of other Americans. The only one who won't be here is Tony's dad. Tony's mom passed away ten years ago with pancreatic cancer and his dad remarried. The new wife is interesting (smile).

But the ultimate point of this post is that there is no "gay" Thanksgiving. We all spend the day in different ways just like everyone else. I have two lesbian friends in Brooklyn who will get together with two other lesbians and they have a Thanksgiving most people dream about. They put on their most casual comfortable clothes, roast turkey legs and thighs because they hate the dry white meat, and sit around watching old movies all day eating pumpkin pie. Before Tony and I started hosting Thanksgiving, we would go to family early and then meet a group of good friends at a more formal Thanksgiving dinner that started at nine o'clock Thanksgiving night. Those friends, Stephen and Charles, were older and together for forty years at that time. They are both gone now, but they never did anything casual. Lunch was a black tie affair with them. And Thanksgiving dinner was a well planned event that lasted into the early morning hours of the following day.

When I write posts like this it's because I like to balance some of the douchebaggery I see on TV shows like "The New Normal." I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Joe Mihalic, a Harvard grad and the straighest guy I know, feels the same way, too. Hollywood screws around with people all the time. They did it to African Americans for too many years to count. They did to Asian Americans as well. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight for gay characters, but if "The New Normal" doesn't last all that long, it's not because the characters were gay. It's because the show didn't resonate with the people they were supposed to be targeting. Oh, I'm sure it will be up for Emmys and Goofeys and whatever other obsolete Hollywood awards are still left, but I don't think that's going to get me to watch it again.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing Now in Japan...



I usually post something about the Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter, and this time I'm excited because KDP is now in Japan. I have a nice readership there and I hear from these readers all the time. Though I've never been there, it's in the top ten of my places to visit list. And I've been collecting vintage Satsuma for many years (photo above). To the point of obsession. There's just something about it that relaxes me.

In any event, this is from my inbox:

Announcing KDP in Japan


We are very excited to announce Kindle Direct Publishing is now available in Japan! Your KDP published books are now available in the Japanese Kindle store, provided you had indicated rights to distribute in Japan when publishing your book. To review your preferences for a title sold in Japan, simply visit your KDP bookshelf. Visit kdp.amazon.co.jp to publish your books in Japanese, or any KDP supported language, and you can experience chats in the Community Forum or interactions with customer service in Japanese.






NaNoWriMo 2012: The CreateSpace & KDP Chronicles, Part 1


http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/fbbcf49e93/7a9dfa5b8b/1a44d88bb7Around the world, hundreds of thousands of authors are beginning National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It's a month of furious writing to reach a 50,000-word goal in 30 days, and authors at CreateSpace and KDP are getting in on the action. Even some of our colleagues from both sides are taking the challenge and will be using their free time to write those novels alongside you. Click here to read more.





Marketing Tidbit of the Month
How to Connect with Your Readers


What is best-selling author Karen McQuestion’s secret to connecting with her fans? Establish a personal connection with readers by holding drawings on your blogs and social media where you give away copies of your books. When you send out the book to the winner, include a personal note and encourage them to write a review on Amazon. Don’t take your readers for granted and respond to your reader’s comments on social media and on your blog. For more tips on connecting with your readers from our CreateSpace friends, please click here.





Your Voice: KDP Author Aaron Patterson


Aaron Patterson, author of Sweet Dreams, shares his experiences with KDP.

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/fbbcf49e93/7a9dfa5b8b/674c9ef0e9/qid=1352158298&sr=1-2-entI worked construction for 11 years when I decided to write my first novel Sweet Dreams in 2008. I never imagined I would even finish, let alone have 'real' people read it! When I was done with the first draft, I began looking into how to publish. I soon realized that it was one-big-mess. I was one of the lucky ones, as I never have written a query letter or submitted to a publisher. I decided to start my own publishing house (StoneHouse Ink) instead. Most writers will look for an agent and try to get a big publisher but I did not want to spend years looking when I could do so much on my own.


Starting my own publishing house was not a hard decision, and I knew that my worth as a writer, was not in gaining the approval of a publisher. As I researched Amazon and how to go about publishing a book I found the KDP program. It was really easy to use and I figured, "What the heck!." I did not even know what an eBook was but did not want to miss out on another way to sell my book.
Three years later, I now have 40 authors and over 60 titles, and I get to work with international bestsellers like Vincent Zandri, Les Edgerton, Melody Carlson, and many others. My own books, because of KDP and the services Amazon has to offer, have allowed me to go from, out of work and living on food stamps, to a full time income. Now that I am a full time writer, I must admit, I am a little spoiled. I don't think I could ever work a 'real' job ever again.
After publishing that first novel at the end of 2008, that first year I did not have much in sales. I found out about eBooks and began to market online through social media. My sales went from 12 downloads a month to 2,000-4,000 downloads a month in just one year! Today, with four titles to my name and a few short stories, this month I will move multiples of that number. This is HUGE, amazing and should I say it? EPIC! I know... and to top it off, the KDP Select program has helped to make our titles with StoneHouse Ink go crazy. We moved over 60,000 copies just a few months ago on one of our titles, The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone.


I get asked all the time, "What is your secret?" Work. I look at my writing as a job. By educating myself I learned how to use social media and the other platforms Amazon has to offer, such as Search Inside The Book, CreateSpace, Author Central, and KDP Select. All these tools helped to get me where I am today.

I am excited for the future and can't wait to see what Amazon rolls out next.
- Aaron Patterson





Featured KDP Books


77 Days in September by Ray Gorham
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/fbbcf49e93/7a9dfa5b8b/e9bcf02af9On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his flight home to Montana when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. 77 Days in September follows Kyle and his wife, Jennifer, as they are stretched past their breaking point, but find in their devotion to each other the strength to persevere.


Deity (Covenant) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/fbbcf49e93/7a9dfa5b8b/dd206a45a7 Alexandria isn’t sure she’s going to make it to her eighteenth birthday--to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she’s a goner... and so is Aiden. But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she’s caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed… and destroyed.


Confessions of an Alli Cat (The Cougar Chronicles, #1) by Courtney Cole

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Amazon.com/fbbcf49e93/7a9dfa5b8b/9cd2a58aa6Thirty-five year-old Allison "Alli" Lancaster has it all--a fabulous job, a beautiful 15 year-old daughter, a hilarious BFF and a gorgeous house with a pool and Jacuzzi in an exclusive Las Vegas neighborhood. What she doesn't have is a husband, because she kicked her lousy, cheating ex to the curb nine months ago. She also never thought she'd meet someone else who had the very real potential to change her life forever. Enter the new guy. He's gorgeous, refined and mature. He's also marriage material. But that poses a problem for Alli, who renounced the institution of marriage when she renounced her ex. What's a girl to do?