Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: 50 Gays Who Came Out This Year



It seems that 2012 was a big year for gays coming out, at least for the following 50 people. Some didn't surprise me too much. I'd either already figured or heard through the proverbial grapevine. Others did make me stop and think.

As a rule, I'm not fond of this huge pressure we tend to put on gay people to come out. I think that's a personal thing, and no one should be forced or intimidated to come out. Privacy is also a huge concern nowadays with social media, even if you're not a celeb. I never actually had the big "coming out" speech. I always knew who I was, I never lied about who I was, and I minded my own business.

"The fact is, I'm gay." Anderson Cooper's long-awaited announcement sums what it meant to come out in 2012. Again and again we heard the same sentiment — from pop singer Mika's equally anticipated confirmation, "If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah," to actor Andrew Rannells casually remarking about relating to a gay character, "I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it." — proving that coming out today is in many cases a non-event, and certainly secondary to other achievements.

This one didn't surprise me. In the same respect it never mattered to me one way or the other what his sexual preference was. It still doesn't; I think he's the best at what he does. And it's nice to see that this is actually a "non-event" in many cases.

Although sometimes it is surprising when you had no idea someone was gay. I didn't know this until I read the article.

Sherman Hemsley, the actor famous for his role as George Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons, never came out in life.

Hemsley didn't actually come out, so this article is a little misleading. If you want to get technical, he was "outed" posthumously against his wishes. All I know is I feel a little guilty. I never thought of him as a good actor. In light of this information I now have a new level of respect for his acting abilities and what he did with his life...cuz it can't be easy playing straight. It couldn't have been easy keeping his sexuality a secret either. I can't even imagine.

This one just leaves me speechless and makes me wonder how dumb they think we are.

"I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it," actor Andrew Rannells said about his newly out character Elisha on HBO's Girls.

It was the first time Rannells, who was nominated for a Tony for his Broadway turn in The Book of Mormon and also plays gay on NBC's The New Normal.

It doesn't always work this way. And I'm glad it doesn't. But in this case was there ever any doubt?

Now this one below surprised me as much as George Jefferson. I'm actually a fan of Honey-boo-boo, and I wouldn't have guessed Uncle Poodle was gay if I'd seen him on the street. At least not until we made eye contact anyway. The eyes are always the dead give-away for me. As a side note, I would never be attracted to Andrew Rannells if I met him on the street or in a club. I'm sure he's a great guy, but not my type by any means. But if I met Uncle Poodle I'd be so attracted I might be rendered speechless, which doesn't happen often.

 Alana's Uncle Lee, affectionately called "Uncle Poodle," became a breakout star after appearing, open, out and proud, alongside his supportive family. And like Rosie Pierri, Thompson keeps his sexual philosophy real: "I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get. If you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are. If you do, you earn people’s respect."

For those who don't know, I have another blog on Word Press that's basically everything I import from this blog. I keep it for specific reasons, and I might move there one day permanently. I recently had a comment from a young gay man who seemed slightly upset that I'd criticized "The New Normal" and other network TV shows for always portraying the stereotypical gays...men and women...for the sake of ratings and entertainment. And I tried to explain to him I'm not knocking the stereotypes at all. I'm not knocking effeminate gay men. I'd just like to see more gay men of all kinds represented in the mainstream. Because yes, there are "redneck" gay men. And all kinds of other gay men. Just as all groups or minorities have different types, so to speak. But if you watch reruns of "Sex In The City," all you're going to see is a very small segment of the gay community. And it's not a segment with which I can identify as a man just as I'm sure someone like Bill Cosby couldn't identify with the African-American stereotypes we used to see all the time in the mainstream. Thankfully, that's ended for African Americans (for the most part). I think we'll see the end of gay stereotypes as well. I just hope it's in my lifetime.

Someone told me "The New Normal" was not renewed, and if this is true I'm not surprised. I tried to watch and I tried to give it a chance. But it just didn't work for me.

A huge bravo for JoCasta Zamarripa for coming out as bisexual. The B in LGBT is probably the most unrecognized group in the world, and also the most underestimated. They tend to take a lot more unfair criticism as well, from both the straight and gay communities.

Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa also helped elevate the B in LGBT this year when she came out as bisexual. And it was all in the name of full transparency, said the Democrat "It has always been my goal in office to be transparent and honest with my constituents. But before the primary in 2010, I didn’t have the valor and courage to come out. I feel remiss that I didn’t come out then."

It's also interesting to see someone in politics come out. As I stated earlier, I don't think we should pressure anyone into coming out. But if you are living a public life this is one of the prices you pay sometimes. And Washington is probably the second most closeted town outside Hollywood when it comes to people guarding their public images.

In any event, it's an interesting article and there were a few more surprises for me. You can get there from the link I provided above and read them all in detail at Towerload.






  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Ten LGBT Stories of 2012; Don't Call Me Queer



Here's a list of some top ten LGBT news worthy items from 2012.

You can read the article here.

I posted about a few myself, like the Frank Ocean story, which focused on gay rappers breaking stereotypes. As a huge fan of rap music, I follow this sort of thing with interest all the time.

R&B artist Frank Ocean, best known as part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, made waves in the music world when he used a Tumblr post to reveal that his first love was another man. While the critically acclaimed Channel Orange artist hasn’t elaborated on his specific orientation, the revelation rocked the hip-hop world, drawing largely supportive responses from fans and insiders (including Jay-Z and 50 Cent). 

I think I posted about this one with Kirk Cameron, too, but I could be wrong. All I know is I used to like him when I was a kid; not so much anymore.

Kirk Cameron’s “Unnatural” Bigotry Lest he fade into obscurity, former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron reaffirmed his antigay opinions, calling homosexuality “unnatural” in a CNN interview. While Stephen Baldwin thought Cameron was on point, other celebrities, including Debra Messing and Cameron’s Growing Pains costars Tracey Gold and Alan Thicke, heartily disagreed. At an October speech at conservative Liberty University, Cameron played the victim card, saying that he seemed “to have blasphemed the god of political correctness, and [my critics] tried to drag me out into the public square and crucify me.”

In any event, it's an interesting article that covers some of the most publicized LGBT news items this year. Not all, but it's worth checking out.

Don't Call Me Queer

One of the things I spoke about this year that I didn't like was how I started seeing LGBTQ turn up everywhere instead of LGBT. At first I didn't even know what the "Q" stood for. This happened a lot in publishing, especially in blog posts. It also happened a lot on the fringe. And I never considered myself on the fringe in a social sense. In publishing, yes. My fiction is on the fringe. But not in my daily life. And I don't intend to start doing that now.

And while I never said I was against it and I believe anyone who wants to be referred to as "Queer" has every right to be referred to as "Queer," if you call me a "Queer" you'd better start running. As a writer I believe in the power of words. And I do get why people believe that if we all start using the word "Queer" it will remove the stigma. (They say the same things about the "N" word, but I didn't embrace that either.) However, words are powerful and can affect us in ways we don't even know...subconsciously. And for anyone who has ever been called a "Queer" in a negative way...most of us...it conjures up all kinds of fresh hells they don't like to revisit.

So if you want to be called "Queer," I think that's great. More power to you. But don't expect me to embrace it. And, so far I haven't seen it catching on all that much. In fact, I haven't seen it used in a while. 


Nicest Blogger I Met This Year: Anthony Romero



I met a lot of nice bloggers this year, both gay and straight, male and female. But one guy really stands out as being the nicest, the sweetest, and the most genuine...and that's because I didn't expect him to be so nice.

His name is Anthony Romero. And he also writes great stories, too.

A lot of bloggers, especially gay bloggers, can have attitude that goes on for days. Oh yes, I know of what I speak. Nasty little queens with too much attitude and not enough money or talent.

That sweet little Davey Wavey wasn't so sweet when I found a malware virus from a link to his blog and it took me all morning to get rid of it. And when I was nice enough to e-mail good old Davey Wavey about the malware virus to warn him, I never even received so much as a thank you. I get that. I'm used to that with the Davey Wavey types. They know how to work a crowd but deep down they aren't the sweetest people on earth.

But this guy, Anthony Romero, truly is just as nice as a blogger can get. And as good looking as he is smart!!

Worst Food Photo of 2012

The worst food photo of 2012...if not of all time...can be found at this link.

I posted about it here.

Can't post the actual photo now because I don't take chances with things I'm not sure are public domain.

But it looks a lot like this,



If you eat it I would imagine you'll need a lot of this stuff,


And the best thing to do would be to put it here,



So you don't wind up here,







2012 Favorite KDP Self-Published Book: "No More Harvard Debt"



I didn't have to think too hard to figure out my favorite Kindle Direct Publishing self-published book of 2012. Hands down, it was "No More Harvard Debt," by Joe Mihalic.

I then read another book he'd written, and loved it just as much.

If all self-published authors were this articulate, this bright, and this *humble* the big six would shut down for good, agents would be querying authors, and we'd all be reading self-published books.

He's also a consummate blogger.

I actually hesitated before I wrote this post because the author is so humble...and he doesn't take nearly enough credit for his talent.

In fact, I have seen cheese-dick authors with small start-up e-publishers brag and boast about dreadful books that should have been in the slush pile and they could not even compare to Joe just in writing style alone.

And it was all done by one writer. It didn't cost him much to do. And all it took was time, talent, and dedication.

Knowing Joe, he's going to hate this post because he is that humble. And I swear I won't do it again. But I couldn't help writing this follow up and letting people know there's help out there for dealing with student debt, and it's done very well.

2012 Favorite Book Review for "Fifty Shades of Grey"



When I say this is my favorite book review of 2012 for "Fifty Shades of Grey," I should probably add it might be my favorite book review of all time. I joke not about this. I've mentioned this review before but never actually linked to it until now. If you do a blog search above, you'll find a few posts.

Brief back story: At first I didn't like the review. I posted about all that here.

But all that changed fast.

I now I love this book review because it is such a cutting, scathing, head-bashing book review...not to mention looooonnnngggg...it helped me find FSoG before it actually went mainstream, before millions of people started reading FS and talking about it, and before FS turned into one of the biggest books of 2012...if not this decade.

This review not only turned me on to FSoG, it helped me fall in love with it.

It's also extremely entertaining, as far as reviews go in a general sense.

And that deserves a huge round of applause, a big old gold dart trophy, and all the recognition we can give it.

So let's hear it for:

REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Photo of dart trophy from morguefile.com





2012 Fav Christmas Card From Elisa Rolle...

I'm posting this because it really was my favorite Christmas card this year, and because I sent Elisa a card the week before Christmas and I'm not sure it arrived on time. I'm bad that way. I can get books to publishers weeks before deadlines. If you ask me to do an interview or blog post, I'll deliver early. I even pay bills ten days in advance.

But ask me to write a Christmas card...or any kind of card...and I become completely kerfuffled.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

First Gay Weddings in Maine...



In a history making event, the first same sex couples gathered in Maine to exchange vows this weekend. It's significant in the sense that all these couples were finally allowed to have their relationships validated legally in Maine, and also because it's one step closer to same sex marriage on a federal level.

There's also an emotional factor here as well. And unless you've been in a long term same sex relationship and you've gone the proverbial distance, you can't even begin to imagine how something like this works psychologically. You might think you can, but you really can't know unless you've experienced not being allowed to legally marry. Being able to legally marry for gay couples is like they've finally stopped punishing you for that crime you never committed in the first place.

Arriving in a limo, Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney had all the trappings of a traditional wedding: Rings, flowers, wedding vows, an entourage and a friend to officiate.

With tears in their eyes, they were among the first gay couples to exchange wedding vows early Saturday morning after Maine's same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight.

"We're paving the way for people to go after us. I think it's just amazing. It's freeing. It's what's right," an emotionally drained Gorney said after their ceremony in front of City Hall.

Of course here in Pennsylvania same sex couples aren't allowed to get married, and the couples who were allowed to marry in Maine are still facing obstacles like inheritance taxes, benefits, and other legal issues because same sex marriage is not legal on a federal level. In an ironic twist, same sex couples who aren't legally allowed to marry face injustices when it comes to divorce, too. (More to follow on the divorce issue soon.) In other words, to make this clear, if the couples who were married in Maine...or any other state where gay marriage is legal...come to visit Tony and me in Pennsylvania they would not be considered legally married. And that's what "state by state" means in a general sense.

But at least it seems we're moving forward. After the most recent elections in this country, I've stopped hoping that a President or one particular leader (and I use the term leader loosely) is going to do anything about recognizing same sex marriage federally. When it does happen (and it will) it's going to have to be a collective effort that involves many people. And what happened in Maine this weekend is one more step in that direction.

You can read more here.

Photo: Falln-Stock Deviantart.com    (Huge thanks to photographer for taking such cool pics!)  



Friday, December 28, 2012

Steve Jobs' Yacht Is Like Good Tight Fiction



When I saw this article I wanted to post about it because I think it's the most wonderful ship I've ever seen as far as design goes. I've seen a lot of negative comments from those who don't know any better and never will, but no matter how many times I look at photos and see the intricate, yet simple, design of this boat I'm amazed at how elegant it really is.

You either get it or you don't. Plain and simple.

It's the most perfect example of minimalist modern design I've seen in years, and I think it's going to become a classic. I like to think of fiction writing that way: tight, clean, sleek, and without the messy said bookisms and adverbs (He mumbled longingly; She grumbled lovingly; He barked loudly...ick, ick, ick). Unfortunately, this kind of tight fiction is not popular in the romance genre, and frills and ruffles that aren't needed are often inserted and people think that's good writing. I'm talking about word economy without frills: first page; Great Gatsby. That's what writing fiction is all about for me. And it takes years to develop. I'm still working on that kind of perfection and probably always will be.  

For those who don't know, Steve Jobs was so obsessed with minimalist design he only wore black mock turtlenecks. And he didn't own any furniture for years because he couldn't find anything he liked...or what he thought would work from a design POV. As the true perfectionist, he wouldn't settle for almost as good. It had to be just right, and perfect. This followed through in every aspect of his life, which is why the iPad you're using now looks and feels the way it does. The technology was important to him, and so was the design. I have an iPhone 3, and I don't know if I will get the iPhone 4 or 5. Whenever I see someone use one of the newer versions I can't help noticing how the design has suffered since the beginning. They don't even feel the same to me, and I can't help wondering if we've seen the last of that kind of exceptional minimalist design for a long time.

In any event, here's part of the article about the yacht that was just launched.

The Venus is a sort of iPhone of yachts -- minimalist in design, aluminum hulled, not cheap at a reported cost of about $138 million to build, and equipped with the latest in Apple technology.

Jobs' influence is all over that yacht. If you've studied anything at all about him, and you've read about how hard he worked toward that kind of perfection, you'll see the artist in him surpassed the businessman more than once in his life. And it's a shame we don't know more about this, because it's not usually what we see focused on when he's talked about now.



Gay Couples Getting Legal Issues In Order, Including Divorce



This post about gay couples getting wills in order wasn't planned today. But I recently witnessed a situation that made me think about this more than usual and I figured I'd post something for those gay couples who have not taken the time to deal with wills and estates. Without legalized marriage on a federal level...I repeat: a FEDERAL level...this is extremely important.

And I'm not talking specifically about covering each other if one person in the relationship passes away or gets sick. I've gone there before with things like power of attorney and I'll do it again at some point. That's just as important as what I'm going to mention now, because if you don't deal with these things while you're alive and healthy you're going to wind up screwed over big time....and so is your partner.

This post is more about your intentions, and how you'd like things to be carried out when you're gone. About thirteen years ago Tony and I lost two very good old friends who had been together for forty years. They literally died within a year of each other, in spite of a fifteen year age difference, and I always thought the last one died from a broken heart. I've seen this often in long term gay relationships, especially when there are no children involved. Thankfully, these two men had their affairs in order, so to speak. When the first one passed, the survivor was protected and covered from money grubbing nieces and nephews...or those distant cousins you never hear from unless there's money involved. Tony and I watched carefully, and we followed what they did with our own wills. Without this legal protection gay couples have nothing. And even with legal protection things can get confusing if family members decide to contest. At least it's not easy for them.

But what about if something happens to both people in a gay relationship at the same time? Suppose the gay couple is killed in a car accident, or something just as bad happens. This is one of those issues that isn't always addressed, and it's just as important for straight couples who don't have children and haven't planned ahead (I'm assuming those with kids do this without thinking about it). Most of the gay couples I know who have been together for a long time have accumulated assets and I think it's important to be prepared for anything. I would hate to think all Tony and I have worked for all our lives would wind up going to people we weren't close to at all. So you need someone you can trust completely to handle these things and make sure your wishes and intentions are carried out. And that doesn't always have to be a family member. It just has to be someone you care about and trust.

It's just as important for single gay men, too. I know a gay man who isn't in a relationship at this point and he decided to bypass his brothers and sisters in case anything happens to him and leave his entire estate to nieces and nephews. That's his choice; there's nothing wrong with that. And at least it sounds as if he's prepared. In our case, Tony and I have one person appointed as executor, and then whatever we have would be divided between brothers and sisters. I personally don't feel an obligation to nieces and nephews at this point in my life. I love them all, but I believe the next in line should be the people I grew up with: brothers and sisters. But everyone feels differently. We know one couple who can't stand anyone in their family and they've left everything they have to charity in case something happens to both of them at the same time. We know another couple who left everything to friends. I see nothing wrong with that either.

You just have to be sure you're prepared. So don't put it off, and don't forget about your pets. If something happens to both people in a gay relationship and they have pets they want them to be placed in good homes with people they trust. Your intentions are important, and when you're gay and you don't have children no one ever seems to consider this.

I'm not even going to get into gay divorce right now. That's for a future post. But here's a hint of what that will be about. I know a straight couple who got divorced recently and everything was divided 50/50 right down the line. It was the law; they didn't have a choice. I also know a gay couple who got "divorced," but because their marriage wasn't recognized on a FEDERAL level everything they had was divided 80/20, including what was left after the sale of their home. And the one who wanted the divorce...the one who left his partner in mid-life crisis for someone twenty years younger...wound up getting 80% of everything they'd accumulated in twelve years. And the one who got dumped wound up with 20%. Not fair at all. If they'd been legally married it would have been 50/50. But that's how it works because gay marriage is NOT legal.

Here's a link to Rainbow Law in case you don't have an attorney, where you can read about all this in more depth.

Don't put it off.


Rainbow Law's legal documents provide you with the right to:
  • Advance Directives let you authorize your partner (or some other person who is not your legal relative) to make medical and financial decisions for you when you are not able to speak for yourself;
  • A Medical Power of Attorney will authorize your partner to have primary rights to visit you in the hospital;
  • A Disposition of Remains will let your partner to make arrangements for your burial, cremation, funeral or memorial services;
  • A Will or Trust allows you to leave your house and/or other property to your partner or someone else;
  • A Will or Trust lets you disinherit someone who would otherwise have legal rights to inherit your property;
  • A Nomination of Guardian lets you choose your partner or someone else you trust to raise your minor children, and/or to make medical, educational and financial decisions for them until they are old enough to take care of themselves;
  • A Will or Trust lets you make arrangements for the care of your pets;
  • And more...

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Amazon Reviews Being Pulled and Deleted...



I almost hesitate to post anything about Amazon reviews being pulled and deleted because I don't know that much about it. I feel like the guy in the photo above looking into the distance for answers. I've searched for articles hoping to find out more and all I've come up with is what looks like facts based on hearsay...but without any reasons whatsoever. I have to admit that I'm a little stunned that more people haven't blogged or written about what's been happening to Amazon reviews. Frankly, I can't understand why they aren't.

So far, I've checked some of the reviews I've written for books and products I've read and used and they are still in place. I'm glad because I often spend a lot of time writing reviews and I'd hate to see them disappear. I've never written a review I wouldn't stand behind with my own name, and I only have one Amazon account...period...with which I write reviews. The same goes for Goodreads. It's not because I'm holier than thou, or because I'm judging people who review with fake names. I know there are reasons why some need to keep their identities hidden, especially when reviewing erotica, and I respect that. But I decided to keep that part of my life...any my career as an author...simple a long time ago by only using my own name to review at all times, without exception. And I have no regrets about doing it. Sometimes plain and simple is the best way to go. It's also why I stopped all google alerts in 2009. And, it's why I feel completely comfortable talking about this subject now.  

According to this article, a lot of the deleted Amazon reviews were not quite kosher, so to speak. However, it seems a lot of honest reviews were deleted in the process, which is a shame if that is the case.

Mr. Robertson suggested that Amazon applied a broad brush. “I believe they caught a lot of shady reviews, but a lot of innocent ones were erased, too,” he said. He figures the deleted reviews number in the thousands, or perhaps even 10,000.
 

Power reviewers like Harriet Klausner, meanwhile, raise suspicion by writing thousands of reviews — though Klausner tells the Times that her over 28,000 reviews are the result of quick reading, a lot of spare time, and a lot of quick Harlequin romance novels. "To watch her in action is unbelievable," her husband says. "You see the pages turning."

Although I know very little about her, I have to admit that I've always found Ms. Klausner's tenacity fascinating from a distance. I know how long it takes me to write a coherent review and I marvel at how fast she's been able to do it. She's a regular powerhouse when it comes to reviews. I would lose my mind...or die of sheer boredom.

Here's a link to a blog post by someone who writes crime fiction. I don't know him and haven't read his books. But it was one of the few decent blog posts I could find on this topic and that's why I'm linking to it. As I said above, no one seems to be saying much of anything. And this one seems honest enough to share.

For some reason, Amazon does not want me reviewing this book. I still don't know why. Of course, this is Amazon's site and if they want to delete a review I wrote, that's up to them. I don't have any control over what Amazon does with their own website any more than they have control of what I do with mine. At least, I don't think they can control any of my sites. I guess we'll find out.
What I do find interesting about this article is that he posts written exchanges he's had with Amazon. In the past, I've had a few of those myself as a consumer when questioning orders I've placed. I've had basically the same experience.

This Amazon review business is even being discussed in the UK.

Amazon has started to crack down on thousands of fake book reviews that have popped up on the site in recent years.

The e-commerce giant will not say how many reviews it has erased so far and has declined to offer any public explanation, the New York Times reports.

Writers who rely on both fake and real reviews to sell copies of their books are crying foul as they take aim at Amazon.

This article is basically a more sensationalized version of the others to which I've linked. I don't find Amazon's silence unusual in this matter, because Amazon is silent about everything it does. But the article also says all these writers "who reply" about fake and real reviews are crying foul. And I can't seem to find any of them anywhere. I've done searches. I've cross-searched. If I'd found them I'd be linking to them righ tnow. But the best I can come up with are a few articles that don't make enough sense to even link to.

The only comment I have is that I truly hope Amazon takes the time to vet all the reviews they consider deleting so they are sure they aren't deleting honest reviews written by people who really do take their time to write them. As a reader and consumer, I've learned to vet reviews before I make a purchase. I can write a chapter for a book in one day, but sometimes it takes me a week to pull a decent review together. And I'd hate to think I'd wasted all that time.







 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Matt Bomer; Casting Christian Grey



The article about casting Matt Bomer as Christian Grey to which I'm linking is fairly recent. I'm going to keep following this for many reasons. I've been enjoying watching this grow slowly, and seeing how many people are getting excited about just who is going to play Christian Grey, partly because I love pop culture, and partly because I want to see how the movie turns out.

Who should snag the coveted role of Christian Grey in the highly anticipated film adaptation of E.L. James' erotica novel "Fifty Shades of Grey?" In a recent Mstarz casting poll, fans narrowed their top three picks down to Ian Somerhalder, Matt Bomer, and Canadian hottie Stephen Amell (among a slew of other fan favorites, these three Hollywood heartthrobs snagged the most votes). Rumors have it that James and producers are still nowhere near casting the official roles of Grey and his kinky sidekick Anastasia Steele... but take a closer look at the three actors fans wish they could see getting down and dirty on the big screen when the time finally does come!

Of course I'm leaning toward Bomer. I think he'd be perfect and I think he might add a spark where it's necessary. I'd be disappointed if he didn't get the part.

 Bomer won 23% in Mstarz's recent "Fifty Shades" poll, snagging 411 out of a total 1,787 votes. Among several other contestants, he ranks the overall no 2 top fan favorite. (FYI: in several past Mstarz polls, Bomer actually pulled ahead of Somerhalder).
You can read the article in full, here.

Facebook for Android; Blog Hop for Authors; FREE E.L James Bio Event on Goodreads



For those who have android tablets and have trouble with facebook, you might be interested in this. For a long time I went to facebook with one of my android tablets and constantly had issues with it. The page would jump around, I couldn't click "like" on anything, and leaving comments was almost impossible on some nights. It was impossible to read private messages, and most recently I found my news feed would stop after two or three updates and it wouldn't continue.

More often than not these days the only time I have to keep up with facebook is later at night when I'm not in the office and I'm using a tablet or iPhone. And even though I love the way iPhone works with facebook, I'd rather use an android tablet because it's bigger. I'm sure facebook works well with the iPad, but I'm not about to shell out that many hundreds of dollars to Apple to buy an iPad just for facebook. I'm still considering the mini-iPad, but for a multitude of reasons: not just facebook.

So I ultimately solved my issue with android and facebook by finding m.facebook.com. It's one of my best finds this year. Not only can I use facebook now with m.facebook.com, but it's even better than with the iPhone. As with most things technical, sometimes you really do have to look around and figure out issues on your own (there's almost always a solution). These are not things most people are going to tell you. So if you do have an android and you are experiencing some  of the issues I talked about above, check out m.facebook.com and see if it works for you. All you have to do is just put m.facebook.com into your android browser and you'll see what I mean. I even tried it with my PC and it works well, too.

On to author events.

This is usually a busy time of year for authors promoting and marketing books and blogs. I always enjoy them and I like the events. And all of the authors I'm linking to below usually keep it really simple, they do their promoting in good taste, and never spam or torture people with things they don't want to deal with. So I have no problem linking to them or mentioning what they are doing.

The first thing I'd like to mention is a blog hop that author Jon Michaelsen is doing. You can read more about it here, in a recent blog post he published. From what I gather, all authors in all genres can be part of this, but I think there will be a lot of m/m authors and gay fiction writers as well. It's a series of questions that are designed to help readers get to know authors better. It's short and sweet, too. My favorite kind of online event.

Many, many writers are participating. I have tagged, Ryan Field, Kase J Reed Blog – Under Dragon’s Wing and David Sullivan at Jon Michaelsen. Just clink on their hyperlink and see what they are currently writing next Wednesday, January 2, 2013!

I'll be doing this one, and I think mine will be up here, on this blog, on Jan. 2.

Second, if you have read the Poe inspired Gothic horror, "Finding Poe," by author Lisa Lane and you liked it, here's a link where you can go vote for it at critters.org.

From my inbox:

There's no registration required. All you have to do is click on the link, check the box beside "Finding Poe," fill out the info below (for verification purposes) and click on the verification link in your e-mail (which P&E will send you to just to ensure you're not a spammer).

So, if you have read "Finding Poe," here's your chance to show the author you enjoyed it. I didn't read this one yet, so I'm not able to vote this time. But I can tell you that I have been a fan of Lisa's for a long time, I respect her as an author and I think she's brilliant, and I will make this part of my TBR list for 2013.

Third, there's a FREE goodreads give-away event I thought was interesting, too. There's new bio out about author E.L. James by an author named Marc Shapiro and they are giving away two free copies between December 25 and Jan. 15.

You can get there from here to enter. I've read this one, but didn't leave a review for lack of time. But I did rate it and I did like it. I will eventually get to the review when I have more time and I'll go into more detail about it.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa Baby

2012 New Year's Resolutions...and Debacles



Although I don't post about it, I usually try to set a few New Year's resolutions every year, and it's interesting to look back and think about the accomplishments, the debacles...and what wasn't accomplished sometimes. The main reason why I don't post New Year's resolutions at the end of the year is because I'm never really sure if I'll follow through. And I hate feeling obligated that way, especially to myself.

But last year around this time I made a resolution to do one thing: self-publish. For me, especially coming from old publishing, you have to understand that self-publishing anything was almost terrifying. I've always loved and depended on publishers, editors, and the entire process of publishing. And to make that kind of a change was daunting at best.

And yet as much as I love working with publishers, I needed to see what it was like to feel complete control over what I was putting out there. That might sound silly to some people, but I've always been easy to work with and I've never made waves, so to speak. And there have been times when I've said yes to things, and done things, I didn't really want to do just to keep other people happy. There's nothing wrong with that. And I don't have any huge regrets.

But I have agreed to things that weren't always great for me, and I did them anyway, knowing how the end result would turn out: debacle. I did it to be polite and to keep other people happy. Last year I agreed with a publisher to collaborate with another author with a two novella anthology book type of thing. It wasn't a bad experience, so don't get me wrong. The publisher meant no harm at all. I loved the other author and I loved working with him. However, this other author writes markedly different fiction than I write, and it was a huge mistake from the start. And I knew this. He has a different style and readership than I have and each novella would have done well on its own. But the combination was volatile, and so unlikely even I had trouble believing I'd agreed to do it.  

I've also learned it's just plain stupid for an author like me, who has over 100 works published in basically the same genre, to write in that genre with a pen name. This was another publisher suggestion I won't go into detail about. But I blame myself for that one, too. I knew better and yet I still did it. The end result produced two books I loved writing that sold basically nothing because I didn't feel comfortable with the pen names and did nothing at all to promote the books.

Self-publishing gave me confidence again after those two dumb mistakes that happened simultaneously last year. And I needed to know if I could do it alone. And I mean alone...without a self-publishing service, or a literary agent's e-publishing services, or anything else that might take some of the control away from me. The one thing I've learned is that authors are, and should always be, in control of their own careers. I'm working on saying no a lot more these days.

I wish I could say that I was inspired by Joe Konrath, or some other self-publishing blogger, but that just wasn't the case for me. For me it was all about personal empowerment as an author...and to give my readership more of what they wanted at a reasonable price. This is why all my self-pubbed books are still .99.

So I jumped into self-publishing early last year, fulfilled all my contractual obligations while doing it, and wound up self-publishing more than I thought I would. (I also had those two full length m/m romance novels released with pen names I've never even mentioned on this blog, so it's been a busy year.)

But it was worth it.

"Chase of Lifetime" was the first release.

"Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" was second.

"Chase of a Dream" came after that.

"A Sign From Heaven Above" was the most recent.

And it's been a fabulous, stressful, sometimes frustrating experience, and that's to say the least. By the time I was ready to release "Chase of a Dream" I even decided to design, execute, and create my own cover. It's not that there was anything wrong with the cover artist I hired for "Chase of a Lifetime." In fact, CoaL is my all time favorite book cover to date. I just wanted to see if I could do it. And though it wasn't easy, that also turned out to be a great experience as well.

For anyone else interested in self-publishing, I found the biggest challenge...and still is the biggest challenge...is that I'm dealing with all the business aspects on my own now. In other words, if there's a problem on ARe, they contact me, not my publisher. And then I have to figure out how to fix an issue like dealing with .lit (Microsoft e-reader). But I've found that self-publishing is a lot like driving in New York. If you're standing on the street watching the traffic, it looks impossible...and terrifying. But once you're actually driving in New York, it's not all that bad and you get used to it.

I do have a few new career plans for the coming year, but I'd rather wait until I'm absolutely certain before I announce anything. But like self-publishing, one is something I've always wanted to do, I think readers are going to embrace it, and I hope it provides an opportunity for authors as well.  The other is to indie pub something I've always wanted to do without being afraid to do it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Are British "Steamies?"



When I came across this article that mentions British "Steamies" I saved the link for a future post.

So what are "steamies?"

The London publishers Piccadilly Press describe steamies as “escapist romances, featuring young women, the same age as the readers, exploring their first sexual desires and their first sexual experiences.”

Then the author writes this:

In other words, porn.

Interesting. And I say this because most authors who write erotica and erotic romance will tell you how careful they are to stay away from any YA material. Their publishers feel the same way. That's why I make a point of keeping this blog G rated at all times. You never know.

While Britain may have the dubious title of being mainstream erotic fiction’s spiritual home, much of the groundwork for this new genre has been undertaken in these United States. The “steamies” movement draws inspiration from the much-loved work of New Jersey native Judy Blume, whose 1975 novel “Forever” is seen as the first young adult novel to discuss sexuality in a frank manner. It was, inevitably, subject to widespread bans from schools. Racy American teen titles such as Abbi Glines' “The Vincent Boys” have also recently been picked up by Simon & Schuster UK.

I love my British readers. I've been amazed how how supportive they are. And it doesn't surprise me that the term "steamies" originated in Britain.

Plus, this is the third time this week I've heard about Judy Blume's book, and now I'm dying to read it. I want to know what's considered porn by some of these people.

But notice one thing in particular. None of the smaller e-presses that focus on erotica and erotic romance are marketing toward a YA market (as far as I know anyway). It's Simon & Schuster, going in for the kill once again...one of the big six. Years ago this was the kind of thing that could slip by, and to a certain extent it still is. The mainstream media is so out of touch with what's been happening in publishing it is really a little sad. (What do they get paid to do?) But not completely, because people like me are reading these things and blogging about them now, for free.

In any event, it's an interesting article and it talks even more about "steamies." And I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about that word, and these books, in the coming year.  

Fifty Shades of Grey: The Book That Shocked Us All



Like it or not, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year 2012. I know feelings run deeply with this book. I don't think I've ever met anyone who just said, "Meh." They've either loved FSoG or hated it. Or, as it's been suggested in more than one place, they didn't actually finish it. In my own small circle, most of the people I know didn't get through the first half. They only bought it because they'd heard so much about it. And the reactions were mixed depending on who you spoke to. Some thought it was too erotic. Others didn't think it was erotic enough. Most didn't think it was well-written at all.  

I've posted more about that book than I planned to post, and I'm not getting into that anymore. (I liked it.) In this post I'm linking to another article that talks about how FSoG actually did take publishing by surprise...and how publishing is still evolving as a result of books like FSoG.

EL James' erotic trilogy was easily the year's biggest hit, selling more than 35 million copies in the U.S. alone and topping best-seller lists for months. Rival publishers hurried to sign up similar books, and debates started over who should star in the planned film version. Through James' books and how she wrote them, the general public was educated in the worlds of romance/erotica, start-up publishing and "fan fiction."


I would be remiss not to mention that I know very little about fanfic...or "fandom." I remember hearing about it on the old Miss Snark blog about five or six years ago and didn't bother to really check it out in depth. Evidently, I underestimated fanfic. There's obviously a huge readership and it's not just with romance. I've heard in more than a few places there are fanfic LGBT books being written about "Queer as Folk," and they have a lot of followers. But then again, most of the people who bought FSoG had no idea they were actually buying a book that was fanfic based on "Twilight." It would have been nice if the publisher had mentioned this on the cover somewhere, or in the blurb. But that didn't happen, and I'm still meeting people who are shocked to find out about this.

This is also a little frustrating for me: I would have loved to have seen James' book hit it big with a smaller e-publisher instead of one of the big six. While smaller e-publishers have been pioneering the way for erotic romance books like FSoG the big six have had their thumbs up their proverbial butts, still taking their summer Fridays off and still shutting down for the month of August. I always figured it would be a matter of time before the big six started to benefit from the hard work of others, and in this case it was the small e-presses that have been paving the way for e-books. In fact, I don't think I would be wrong in saying that FSoG would NOT have been published if James had queried an agent and gone through the old publishing channels. More than a few blogging agents have mentioned their disdain for the book, including a very good friend of mine. It would have wound up in the slush pile.

In a year when print was labeled as endangered and established publishers referred to as "legacy" companies, defined and beholden to the past, the allure remained for buying and reading bound books.


That's a little hooded if you ask me. Although I was one of those who loved FSoG, I'm not sure I agree with this statement as a generalization. Yes, people did run out and buy FSoG in print. But does that mean e-books are going to vanish and print books will be resurrected and reborn again because of FSoG? I doubt that. A lot of the "buzz" and "hype" created by FSoG will die down and we'll have to wait for the next new trend. We're also still at the crossroads of one generation fighting the other with regard to print books and e-books. The article I'm linking to alone is proof because the person who wrote it doesn't even get the terminology correct in most cases when she mentions e-books.  

And if publishers suffer from their reputation - often earned - of being slow to adapt to technology, they benefit from a reputation - often earned - for being nice to their writers.

"There certainly is the comfort factor, and part of that comfort factor is the culture of old publishing, which is very collegial and warm and friendly," says Richard Curtis, a literary agent who represents several writers publishing with Amazon. "Authors contemplating Amazon are concerned about a loss of that warmth."


This is where the article gets interesting. The person who wrote it gradually shifts from talking about FSoG and gets into more details about Amazon, Legacy Publishers, and, frankly, a lot of nonsense. She's making legacy publishers sound like such dear sweet souls, when in fact I have read and linked to articles in the past about authors who've left legacy publishing just based on how unfairly they've been treated by their publishers with regard to e-book sales. So much for that sense of warmth. This is why a lot of established authors have gone to Amazon. And who could forget the DOJ issues this year with legacy publishing?

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers for alleged price fixing of electronic books, a lawsuit originating from Apple's 2010 launch of the iPad and iBookstore, which publishers hoped would weaken Amazon's ability to discount works so deeply that no other seller could compete.

It's been an interesting year, to say the least, just with regard to this entire DOJ mess. Being that most of these publishers have reached a settlement with the DOJ, I'm not sure the word alleged is needed (I always thought of settlement as an admission of guilt), but I'll use it anyway. These big publishers allegedly colluded to keep e-book prices at 9.99, hoping to set a standard for e-book prices within the industry, slow down the rise of e-book sales, hold Amazon back, make consumers pay more for books that cost practically nothing to publish in digital format, and to keep print books flowing for as long as they can. At least that's been my take...allegedly. You have to remember that a lot of what's been happening in publishing has terrified a lot of the gatekeepers and they don't know where to turn. I'm sure that's one reason why FSoG found and agent and a big publisher. If you can't beat them, join them.

It's going to be interesting to see what's next, and I have a feeling 2013 will be filled with more changes. In June 2013 Macmillan is slated to go to trial because they refused to settle with the DOJ. I also have a feeling that the e-book/print book argument will actually slow down for a while. It stands to reason. I think the people who have switched to e-books like me will never go back to reading print books again. I think younger people being introduced to books, will all go digital. I find people are still reading my books in .lit, which is an old fashioned way of reading e-books on microsoft. But there are still a lot of people around who would never think of reading anything other than a print book, and they aren't going away anytime soon. So this means there's going to be a balance, because I can't imagine any publisher going completely digital in the next five years at least and risking losing all those who read print books. As long as there is a demand, I think the supply will keep coming.

Or I could be completely wrong here. I absolutely hate the fact that video stores have all but disappeared. I miss them and I still haven't embraced On Demand, streaming, or Netflix. But I didn't have a choice, and now I'm renting movies On Demand. There are no video stores near me anymore. They simply couldn't survive. It's not easy to cover the cost of a physical store and all that it includes. Be interesting to see if that's what eventually happens with books.





Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dirk Bogarde, Gay Film Stars, The Virgin Billionaire



It's never actually been fully established that actor/author, Dirk Bogarde, was gay. But when you read the links below all evidence points toward that direction. The reason why I became curious had more to do with reading a bio of Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich, by Michael Menzies, and reviewing it earlier this week. Coward was also supposedly gay, and Dietrich was allegedly bisexual. And this made me think about a bio I read a while ago about Merv Griffin and how I tended to wonder about whether or not the information was all true. According to the Griffin bio, all of Hollywood was gay. And the more I read the more I'm starting to wonder about whether or not that bio is actually telling the complete truth.

Of course some of what's linked to now about Bogarde is hearsay. But many of the facts are just too solid not to be true. The one solid fact that remains to be true is that men in those days did not admit to being attracted to other men. It wasn't done, and for some serious reasons I get into below.

Dirk Bogarde's Art of Decadence:

By the ’60s, Bogarde had had enough of being screamed at by adoring girls, and he began exercising a strong discrimination about the roles he took — at his point, Bogarde seems to have selected films on the basis that they actually said something. He flouted taboos by making “Victim” in 1961, in which he played a public figure being blackmailed for homosexuality.

(Bogarde himself was gay but denied it during most of his career; though he wrote of his early sexual relationships with women and his passionate love for Judy Garland, he never wrote about the love of his life, his manager and partner Anthony Forwood, whom he was with for more than 50 years.)

This is fascinating; I'm going to make a point of seeing this film. If he played a public figure being blackmailed for homosexuality, I have to wonder how much of this was the real Dirk Bogarde flipping the bird to the world for all the years he had to remain in the closet. I would imagine he'd reached his own personal saturation point by then. And he was tired of pretending.

Sexy Self-Image that Revved Up Dirk Bogarde:

Bogarde, says Fraser, indicated to him that the physical side of his homosexual affair with his long-term companion, Tony Forwood, had ceased but that he dared not take casual lovers for fear of publicity. Then the top British romantic screen star of the post-war era gave the younger actor a demonstration of the substitute he had found to turn him on: high-revving a static Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his loft while gazing at a poster of himself clad in crotch-hugging leather trousers as a Spanish bandit in the 1961 film The Singer Not the Song. "It looked like a Narcissus fantasy come to life," Fraser said yesterday.

How much of this is true I don't know. It's not something I would have repeated in a biography had I been writing one on Bogarde. And I'm sure it's not something Bogarde would have approved even if he'd been out of the closet. There are some places you just don't go. This is one of them. What he did to get turned on was his own business. It's interesting how these things always come out after the person is dead.

Dirk Bogarde Web Site:
 
DirkBogarde.co.uk is the official website of the Dirk Bogarde Estate. The site is a tribute to the actor, writer and artist, and is a non-profit-making endeavour.

It is widely known that Dirk destroyed a large part of his archive, but during his life he carefully deposited his annotated film scripts with the BFI and his literary manuscripts with Boston University. This website aims to gather together what remained and to point the way to the relevant collections, to give the uninitiated a reasonable understanding of Dirk’s important role in the Arts and to offer a glimpse of his world on and off camera.

This web site is not going to get into anything about Bogarde being gay, or anything deeper than what he would have told the press fifty years ago himself. But there are some fascinating photos and some interesting things to read.

Dirk Bogarde Wiki:

Bogarde was a lifelong bachelor and, during his life, was assumed to be homosexual.[11] Bogarde's most serious friendship with a woman was with the French actress Capucine. For many years he shared his homes, first in Amersham and then in France, with his manager Anthony Forwood (a former husband of actress Glynis Johns and the father of their only child, actor Gareth Forwood (dec.)), but repeatedly denied that their relationship was anything but platonic. Such denials were understandable, mainly given that homosexual acts were illegal during most of his career, subject to imprisonment and against the conditions for termination specified in Rank Studio contracts with its actors,[citation needed] thus potentially putting his career as a major actor at jeopardy, which few actors of the time would risk.
 
As usual, wiki seems to be on top of it. Just by reading the beginning of the paragraph above you'll see how this mimics the lives of so many other male Hollywood stars of the 20th Century. And, more important, the fact that "homosexual acts" were illegal sheds a new light on why so many remained deeply closeted. There's also the career risk. In those days no one watched films with fags or homos unless they were laughing at them. To a certain extent, this still rings true today.
 
So whether or not Dirk Bogarde was actually gay remains to be seen, and it's always going to be a mystery. Just like with so many other well known actors of his time...and actresses. I would also guess there was a certain amount of bitterness with which he both lived and died.
 
Although I took a beating from a few book reviewers with "TheVirgin Billionaire," when I decided to parody Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's," as a gay erotic romance, I don't have any regrets about doing it. I never kept it a secret; I told the truth from day one. What I did with that hetero story, by turning it into a gay story as parody with a sense of humor, isn't anything different than other writers have been doing for years with storylines like Pygmalion. And, Capote was also gay, but never actually came out with it openly. All you had to do was meet him once and it was obvious, so they say. And I'm sure that when he was writing "Breakfast at Tiffany's" he didn't have any choices. He couldn't write gay fiction back then. He wouldn't have had a career if he had.
 
And I could never stop wondering about how wonderful "Breakfast at Tiffany's" might have been if there had been two gay characters falling in love instead of a straight couple. And that's because I'm gay, and that's what resonates with me. And sometimes we all like to flip the bird a little, with a smile.





Friday, December 21, 2012

Giving E-Books for Christmas; Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades; B & N Free Book Promo




I hadn't planned on posting anything else today, but after dealing with a minor technical issue with one of my self-pubbed books this afternoon I decided to not take anything for granted and post something about giving e-books away as Christmas gifts. I'm not promoting now, I'm talking about e-books in general. Let's face it, there are still a lot of people who don't fully understand e-books and I get that. I really do, because I'm dealing with these tech issues almost on a daily basis now.

The one thing I'd like to state is don't be shy about contacting an author with technical questions. They don't mind explaining things.

Now for Barnes & Noble. I can't find the e-mail from B&N that I received earlier this week about this promotion. I thought I'd saved it, but I think AOL ate it up. So here's a link to a free book Promo that B&N is doing this season in their physical bookstores.

We know that Barnes & Noble has the technology to process ebook transactions in its stores, and with a new holiday promotion the company announced Thursday, we’re seeing more ways that technology can work. Between December 20 and 24, customers who go to a Barnes & Noble physical store and buy an ebook from a list of 20 qualifying ebooks — including The Hobbit, Life of Pi and the entire Hunger Games trilogy – can “instant-gift” another ebook on that list for free.

I know that at this point, I would prefer an e-book as a gift more than a print book. I don't need to hold that tangible item in my hand anymore. I'm past that and the digital version is more important to me.

I also wanted to add this, and it's not part of the B&N promotion. But it could be a great gift idea for someone. I can't promote my own e-books as gift ideas in too many places. My books are usually for the discreet reader, due to the adult content, and I know that. But I don't have any problem mentioning a book I'm in titled, "Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey." The "Fifty Shades" novel has sold millions of copies. And the non-fiction book, "Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey" might be an interesting gift for someone you know who has read the novel.

Basically, the "Fifty Writers" book is a non-fiction collection of essays that talks about the novel, and goes into detail about why people either loved it or hated it. And I'm well aware of how many people didn't like the novel. I even get into that in my own essay in the book.

I actually bought a print version of the FS non-fic book for my sister-in-law to read. I'm also thinking of holding a contest after Christmas to give one of my copies away to a reader. I'll post more about that in the future. I haven't had a contest in a long time, and those I've had have always been with e-books.

Quick Post About Microsoft Reader...or, (dot)lit

I was informed today that one or two readers are having trouble with "Chase of a Lifetime" and Microsoft Reader (.lit). We've been in contact with the people at allromanceebooks and we're working on it right now.

What is .lit?

Have you got a file with .lit extension? Do you want to know how to open it? Basically .lit file is a file format for Microsoft Reader, which is an ebook reader which is available for both desktops and mobiles.

There aren't many people reading .lit books anymore and Microsoft, from what I've been told, has discontinued Microsoft reader because not enough people are using it. So the link I provided about may solve your issues.

But as I said, we're looking into it right now to see it we can fix the problem. So far, everything looks fine, and yet one reader can't get the book to open. I've had issues like this myself with some books in the past and I've always found it easier to open the books in pdf instead of .lit.

In any event, we're aware of the issue, it's not affecting a lot of people, but we're working on it. And if anyone wants to contact me about it, you can reach me here: rfieldj@aol.com.

For those interested in self-publishing, this is one more thing you'll have to deal with if you decide to do it alone. It's not all that difficult, but if you care about your readers you'll want to cover all the bases.

Release Day: A Life Filled with Awesome Love; The Importance of Cars in Fiction


Today is the release of "A Life Filled with Awesome Love." You can find it here at the publisher, or here on allromanceebooks.com. It's going to be in most places where e-books are sold, but I know it's already up on these two already. The other photo below of the 1959 Lincoln is here for a reason. I wanted to show how I think it's important sometimes to get into descriptions of cars in more detail in fiction.

In the early 90's there was a novel published by author Mona Simpson...half sister of Steve Jobs whom he didn't meet until later in his life...titled, "Anywhere But Here." They also made the book into a popular film. I loved both book and film. But the thing that drew me to the novel at the time was that there was a photo of a big Lincoln Continental on the book cover. That might sound silly to some, but this was a new novel by a debut author and that cover caught my eye and I bought the book for that reason. At the time, I knew nothing about the author. Since then, they've redesigned the cover and the Lincoln is gone....a shame and pure cover fail. In the film they used an older Mercedes instead of a Lincoln and that spoiled the story a little for me.

In a recent book I read by Debbie Macomber, there was a long cross country road trip. And even though I liked the book, in spite of the fact that I wanted to push one character off a cliff, I was disappointed that Macomber didn't get into any detail at all about the car they would be driving across country. Basically, it was described as a rental car. But no actual details, and I have a feeling I know the reason why. With the exception of Mona Simpson, because the Lincoln was so important to the storyline, I find most women authors (and maybe readers) don't care all that much about cars. A car is a car. It's something that provides transportation. And unless there's something vital about that car to the storyline (Anne Tyler does this well) most never mention much about cars at all. There's nothing wrong with that on the surface.

But the thing is, men love cars, especially gay men. I know one gay publisher who blogs and writes about his vintage car collection all the time. I have so many gay friends in antique car clubs I can't even count them. And every year around September there's a huge parade of gay men driving their vintage cars up and down Commercial Street in Provincetown. And Tony and I are no exception. In the past twenty years we've had two Jeeps, four Mercedes, Two Jags, and we're thinking about a Mini Cooper right now. I'm always on the hunt for the prefect vintage Lincoln. I've never had a BMW, and I want one. I could go on, but you get my point. Men love cars.  In fact, because a lot of gay men don't have kids and all the expenses that go along with kids they can afford to indulge in things like cars. And they do.



And I'm always left so disappointed when I'm reading a novel that doesn't at least give out the smallest details about a car. Men do think of cars as more than just transportation. In some ways cars define us to a certain degree. Not completely. I'm not that shallow. But there is something to it. The personality of someone who drives a Prius is most likely going to be very different from the personality of someone who drives a big Cadillac Escalade. And I think that's important in fiction, too.

I'm not saying a car in a novel has to be described down to the last fiber. But at least name the make, year, and model. As I stated earlier, Anne Tyler did this well in one of her books where she gave the MC a vintage Stingray (with the divided rear windshield), and that small detail made the character, and it helped move him forward in the plot of the story, too, at the end of the book.

I'm not saying only women authors ignore cars in fiction (obviously Tyler and Simpson didn't, so don't get the wrong idea). I've seen male authors do it, too. But in most cases, like with Macomber's book, it would have added another layer to the story for men...and women...who happen to think little details about cars are important. As a side note, I love the cover for "A Life Filled with Awesome Love." But if I had self-published this one, and I had been designing the cover on my own with full control, I would have focused more on the 1959 Lincoln that's mentioned in the story. I don't know if readers notice this, but the covers I've designed for my self-published books are vastly different from the ones designed by the publishers. "A Sign From Heaven Above"is a good example. I designed that, without a cover artist. And I made that pick up truck stand out for a reason. I made that guy look like he was praying for a reason.

In this story, "A Life Filled with Awesome Love," a 1959 Lincoln is featured. I don't get into much about the car. But I did think it was important enough to the storyline to add that small detail and to ask the cover artist to work the Lincoln into the cover. I'm sure she did her best, and if you look closely you'll see the word "Continental" there (under his arm :). You might have to strain a little, though. The one MC is meeting the guy he's going to live with for the first time and he's not sure about him. But when he sees the guy drive up in a l959 Lincoln, it eases a lot of his fears. As it turns out, the car does not completely represent this character, but it does give the other character something to hold on to in the beginning of the story.

In any event, I don't think it was life or death for Macomber to go into more detail about the car in her book. I liked the book anyway...even though that one thing disappointed me. But I do think that when writing about men, and gay men, it is important to take cars into consideration. And if the gay male character is one of those earthy vegan simple boy types who doesn't care about cars, that's important to mention, too. It explains something important about the character's personality. And it's a detail I often find left out of most novels. Think Jonathan Franzen. He usually mentions a car or two and with that one little detail we get a better image of the character.

Here's the blurb for ALFWAL. It is a vintage story and it is a cowboy/western. I'll post more excerpts in the future. This one is longer than most of my short stories. It runs about 12,000 words, which I think is a little too long for a short story. But this time it called for it.

It’s 1959 and young Travis Swanson discovers that living in the same small Montana town where he grew up is suffocating. So he devises a long term plan to get out of his situation and change his circumstances, but there aren’t that many options for men like him and he has to settle for the best thing that comes along. In his case, this comes in the form of an advertisement at the back of a rodeo magazine. He answers an unusual ad for a ranch hand job in Western Montana and finds himself communicating with a cowboy named O’Dell Johnston. After a series of letters pass between them Travis decides to take the job and move into O’Dell’s house. But he soon learns that although some things are better than he expected and O’Dell is an articulate lover, some things just don’t make sense. And Travis is not sure he can live with a man who has so many secrets, won’t install central heat, and rarely ever discusses his past…a past that includes the mysterious deaths of the two young ranch hands before Travis.





Thursday, December 20, 2012

John Sargent from Macmillan on DOJ Settlement, E-books, and Piracy



In a year end letter to authors, illustrators, and agents, John Sargent from Macmillan wrote candidly about where Macmillan stands with regard to the DOJ and other current topics that seem to be twisting around in the air these days and no one's sure where they'll land and settle.

So far, I've seen nothing but negative comments about this letter. I personally wouldn't comment on this if my life depended on it. At least not most of it anyway.

Here's why. I don't think anyone has any answers right now.

 I do know that we are not in discussions, with anyone. This will leave us where we have always been, the smallest of the big publishers.

This is a good thing; no mergers. I would imagine agents are happy to hear this. Now for the DOJ business:

There are two reasons we decided not to settle. First, it is hard to settle when you have done nothing wrong. Much as the lawyers explain to me that settling is completely standard business procedure, it still seems fundamentally flawed to me somehow. Call me old-fashioned. The second reason is the more important one. Since the very beginning, the government’s demands have never wavered in all our discussions. They still insist on the two year discounting regime that forms the heart of the agreement signed by the three settling publishers. It was our belief that Amazon would use that entire discount for the two years. That would mean that retailers who felt they needed to match prices with Amazon would have no revenue from e-books from five of the big publishers (and possibly the sixth) for two years. Not no profit, no revenue. For two years.

There are those who would argue with me, but I also believe any settlement is an admission of guilt. And if you don't think you're guilty, it's tough to settle. Plain and simple. It may be standard, but it's still an admission of guilt to some. So Macmillan has decided to go to trial, June 2013. It should be fascinating to see how this turns out.

The second reason why they decided not to settle is something I'd never even attempt to comment on. Amazon is very secretive and no one really knows what they are up to. In many ways, they've changed the world for writers and I would be a fool at this point to comment. Publishers like Macmillan who have always been the ultimate gatekeepers haven't done even half as much.

Which leaves me with the final and more jolly topic of this missive-matters digital now and in the future. At this writing 26% of our total sales this year have been digital. It is good to remember that means 74% of Macmillan’s total sales are ink on paper books. Just as in 2011, the percentage of e-book sales has remained consistent week by week through the year for the most part (the big uplift in the last two years has occurred the week after Christmas). Our e-book business has been softer of late, particularly for the last few weeks, even as the number of reading devices continues to grow. Interesting.

This is the part where it really gets interesting. Sargent seems to be suggesting, by his own comments, that he's not sure e-books will continued to rise in popularity. And he could be right. Who knows at this point? I do know this. I'm not handing back my e-reader for a print book. You'd have to wrestle me to the ground first, and it wouldn't be pretty. And the younger people I know between the ages of say seven and eighteen years of age are only interested in all things technology, which includes e-books and digital readers (they aren't even taught how to write cursive anymore; images of sugar plums don't dance in their heads; images of mini iPads dance in their heads now). I might consider going back to vinyl records if iTunes disappeared tomorrow. I might consider driving a car with roll up windows. But not print books. No. Way.

I do think Sargent writes honestly and he believes in what he's saying. Like I said, he could be right. There's a lot at stake right now and publishers like Macmillan don't seem to be sure about anything. No one is.

The best news as we enter this holiday season is that independent booksellers have had a good year, booksellers in general have had the time to adjust their product mix and store counts, and consumers continue to value and buy real books. Piracy continues to be an issue, but it has not exploded. More people are reading more books. The playing field in e-book retailing, while not even, has not yet tilted too far. There is a bright future out there.
Now, that sounds good on the surface. But take a closer look at this: "consumers continue to value and buy real books." So does this mean e-books are not real books? So the digital version of J.K. Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy" I'm still slogging through (and loving; review to come) isn't considered a real book because I'm reading it on a tablet? And is the digital version of any book less important because it's not considered a tangible item?

Interesting.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Write About Sex...



When I see things that get into how to write about sex, I often sit back and smile sometimes. Writing about sex can be subjective, and I've never found a set definition...or road map...when it comes to writing about it. But the articles I'm linking to now aren't all that bad.

Before I get into these articles, I'd like to warn anyone out there who is thinking about writing sexy, smutty erotic romance books. Whether you do them with a tongue-in-cheek style with parodies, or you do them with a serious tone and tackle serious issues, you're going to get slammed sometimes. There will always be those, even within your own genre, who will make snide "perv" comments and you'd better be prepared. I once had a m/m romance author who thinks she knows what "gay literature" is insinuate that I was a frat boy using a fake name. Clearly, she knows nothing about gay men or gay culture. But I digress.

You should also be prepared to understand that if you ever want to break away from writing sexy, smutty, erotic romance books you'll have to use a pen name and start from scratch. But that's pretty much the case with all genre authors who've built a fan base. People like to put you into little boxes and keep you there. It's just the nature of it all. Think J.K Rowling and The Casual Vacancy. Even though I'm always thinking about writing mainstream books, if I only was recognized for writing gay erotic fiction in my lifetime I would be very content. I like what I do, and I could care less about who doesn't like it. But not everyone can feel that way. So just be sure you know what you're getting into.

You will also see more bad reviews than good reviews. And that's because your readership is discreet and they tend to shy away from leaving public reviews for obvious reasons. A priest or a gay Amish guy is not going to take a chance leaving a review about a hot sexy gay romance. He might e-mail you with nice comments about your book, but you'll never see a public review. It stands to reason and I fully understand this and respect it. I even expect it. But you will always get some pinched prissy who either doesn't get much sex or has had nothing but bad sex, leaving the worst possible reviews you can ever imagine. It's something you get used to, and don't ever respond to it. If you're lucky enough to reach the real market and the real discreet readers you need, those bad reviews won't matter much at all. In this one case, with regard sexy erotic romance books, reviews have little to do with sales.

In this article, the writer talks about some of the more intricate details when it comes to writing about sex. I think the writer nails it with this comment:

Although resistance is crumbling, it is still a problem -- especially for e-books, which fight reviewer prejudice against the format. But there are reviewers who will review erotica, and websites devoted to the genre. Just don't expect your book to be reviewed by, say, Kirkus Reviews, or for all reviewers to treat your novel fairly. The genre is misunderstood even within the industry.

Even though everyone thinks about sex all the time, everyone wonders about sex all the time, and everyone gets a little confused about sex sometimes, sex is still the most avoided topic of all time with regard to public discussions. I think it always will be. They say there are two things people lie about most: how much sex they get and how much money they have. That's probably because most don't have much of either.

I'm not going to get into anything else from that particular article, but I do think that if you're interested in writing erotica, it's a great place to start. I didn't find anything with which I could disagree.

I also tended to agree with most of this article. The parts with which I disagreed are so small and subjective they aren't worth mentioning.

I just wanted to get this out of the way early. I think that there are only a handful of ways to refer to our body parts, and it is my opinion that you should probably just stick to the ones I’m listing. If you write bizarro fiction and want to use some sort of strange name or go for a laugh, that’s different.

For men, keep it simple. I think I’ve only ever used the words penis, dick and cock. Anything else just seems strange, and to be honest, makes me laugh. So no throbbing manhood or spear of salvation—or whatever flowery or weird phrase you’re trying to incorporate into your writing. It just doesn’t work.

I would like to add one more thing here. If you're writing a sex scene between two people having sex and those two people are joking around, it's okay to use the "flowery" funny names for body parts. I did this in one of The Virgin Billionaire books, where Jase and Luis are having what they call "literary sex." I wanted to show the reader that they love each other so much, and are so comfortable with each other in bed, they can actually laugh about sex, too. In other words, they don't take themselves too seriously and it's supposed to be campy and funny.

But more than that, if you're writing parody and you want to add something funny to a sex scene, there's no better way to do it than by borrowing from trashy porn. A word of warning, though, not everyone will get your sense of humor and you'd better make it clear you're trying to be funny. I'm still getting slammed for once referring to a burping dick by the romance police. Of course it was all taken out of context, and what I wrote was never intended to be taken seriously, but there are those lacking a sense of humor and you'll have to be very careful.

Can you draw from your own personal sex life and put it into a book?

 Tap into that hot model you dated back in college and then embellish in the areas that never happened. Do whatever you can to make it realistic, use whatever memories you still have. Does the idea of this embarrass you? Can I tell you a secret? People are going to think you did all of this stuff anyway. If you write a sex scene with anal sex and hot candle wax, people are going to think you did it. So, get over it, and just make it work.

I love this guy; he's so right about this. I can't help wondering how much sex he's had and I'm only reading his article. If you are interested in writing sexy, smutty books, I recommend reading his article in full, too. The good thing is I think all authors who write about sex tend to vary in distinct ways...which is why readers have so many things to choose nowadays. I haven't read any of his books, but I tend to think I get into more detailed sex scenes than he does. And there's nothing wrong with that.

The only other thing I'd like to add is try to keep the sex scenes fresh. There are millions of ways to write about sex and you don't want to run the risk of repeating yourself. And don't forget about the "tease." Sometimes I find the sexiest scenes in books or movies aren't always with people having sex. I just finished a book where there are a lot of sexy scenes in a locker room, and yet no one is actually having sex. That takes a little practice. But once you get the hang of it you'll have just as much fun writing it as I hope your readers will have reading it.