Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pope Francis on Gays; Riley Cooper Racism; Kickstarter Zombies

Pope Francis on Gays

In an interesting piece, here, Michelangelo Signorile writes about whether or not Pope Francis might be secretly pro gay. He also gets into a lot of church politics where sometimes priests who have ambitions tend to support...or not to support...issues that may or may not advance their careers. For those who don't know, the inner workings of the Catholic Church are complicated, highly competitive, and extremely political. And those who play by the rules usually reap the most rewards. I know this personally on a smaller scale just from being Catholic and spending twelve years in private Catholic schools. I think it's important for me to disclose that up front so people don't think I'm talking about something with which I'm not familiar.

As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Pope's former name, he seemed to support gay civil unions in Argentina, but did not support gay marriage or gay adoption. His recent comments about gay priests seem to suggest that he might be thinking differently now...or that his past thoughts were geared toward his career?

Why, then, did Bergoglio rail against gays in such a bigoted way after he was unsuccessful in getting support for civil unions? Because one doesn't become pope by doing otherwise. The country was about to pass the marriage equality bill, and Bergoglio was publicly showing the Vatican and the world that he'd go to the mat, organizing marches and railing against gays.

It's a very interesting article, and for those who don't know much about this it covers a lot of ground. And recent moves the Pope has made seem to suggest he's very different from previous Popes. Time will tell.

Riley Cooper Racism

A well-paid professional football player, Riley Cooper, made one of the worst racist comments I've heard in a long time last June at a Kenny Chesney concert. You can watch the video here, and what Cooper says is very clear and articulate.

As the video went viral today, Wednesday, long after the incident occurred, well-paid Riley Cooper tweeted this:

I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, Jeffrey Lurie, and

Howie roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did

Was wrong and I will accept the consequences.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I smell PR firm damage control lurking in the background behind those tweets. Other athletes, the most well-paid, have made racist and anti-gay remarks and nothing has happened to them. Paula Deen says something racist years ago, admits it in a deposition, and loses her career. From what I've seen and read, there doesn't seem to be anything Deen can do to make it better right now.

So far, Cooper has been fined for using the N-word in one of the most offensive ways it can be used. If nothing else, I think he qualifies as a naughty guy with a strong story.

Kickstarter Zombies

It seems as though everyone's jumping on to the Kickstarter bandwagon, including zombies. Not actual zombies, just a small start up publisher named "Zombies Need No Brains."

Backers of this project will be creating a new force in the SF&F field, a publishing house that will fill a gap in the genre that we feel is growing by creating a market for original anthology projects open to outstanding authors, regardless of their publishing house affiliations. While some publishers still offer anthologies featuring their house writers, the market for open anthologies has been shrinking. With your help, we’d like Zombies Need Brains LLC to fill this gap.

That's true. The market for open anthologies has been shrinking, but that's due to changes in publishing and less writers submitting from what I hear. In the past, I never turned down the opportunity to be in an anthology pubbed by one of the LGBT presses. Recently, I've turned down ten because I've been too busy working on other projects that pay more money. It's a pragmatic thing with me, because I truly do love anthologies and the short story.

But it's hard for me to comment on this because I've never been a zombie fan. I love almost anything paranormal, from vamps to fairies, but zombies just never did it for me. However, I personally thought the zombie trend had already reached its peak around 2010 and it has been starting to taper off. But I could be wrong about that. I don't follow anything zombie related.

For those who know nothing about Kickstarter:

Welcome to our Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week, a feature exploring how authors and publishers are using the fundraising site to raise money for book projects. If you want to start your own project, check out How To Use Kickstarter to Fund Your Publishing Project.












Self-Publish Tech Issue; Something for St. Jude; Weiner's Snarky Director

Self-Publish Tech Issue; Something for St. Jude

The following tech issue that recently happened to me might not apply to new authors who are self-publishing, however, I think it's important to mention for published authors who might be self-publishing back listed books. And, for those self-publishing more than one book at a time. There are some things you just can't portend no matter how hard you try. And what happened to me late last night with Something for St. Jude is a good example of this. You may have heard me screaming at Amazon.

I've posted about how we've been re-releasing all my back listed stories and books from now defunct small e-press, Loveyoudivine.com. So it's not really self-publishing in the sense that these books have already been through the publishing process from developmental editing, to covers, to copy editing. And in most cases, these stories have even been through more than that because many were trad published in anthologies that were released years ago by respected LGBT publishers like Cleis Press. They've gone through more than a few edits by excellent professional editors. I even left the original book covers, which I wanted to change, so readers would not get confused. So I thought I had nothing about which to worry.

Think again. Even though I've always been completely open and honest about all my product information...to the point of being a pain in the ass with blog posts like this, late last night I went to Amazon to check out Something for St. Jude and I noticed a review (a good review) that read, "False Advertising." And since I don't even advertise my books anywhere...or much of anything I write...I read the review a few times, bought the book myself, and figured out the issue.

Evidently, there was a tech issue during the upload where several short stories were added to the short e-book, Something for St. Jude. In other words, instead of getting the one short story for .99 as it had been described in the book blurb, the reader wound up getting Something for St. Jude, plus a few additional short stories for free. Of course when I get something for free by mistake, I say thank you and smile. But two readers were so upset they'd received all these short stories for free when they purchased the .99 e-book they left reviews about it. And I can't thank them enough for leaving these reviews. This is truly the kind of feedback the world needs to see. If it hadn't been for these reviewers mentioning this tech issue, I would never have known all these short e-books were being given away for free with a .99 short story.

Don't get me wrong. I honestly don't mind that people read the extra books for free and I hope that a few people enjoyed them. I've never been one to complain about these things, and my publishers often get frustrated with me because of this. But that's because I do believe that when issues like this happen and someone benefits from it, good for them. To me it's like going into the store, finding a mismarked item, and making the store honor the mistake. In fact, with all the e-book pirates out there pilfering my books, I'm kind of glad this mistake happened so readers who do pay and do things the honest way got a little surprise when they purchased SfSJ for .99 and found more than they'd expected. Good for them!

But, in the same respect, I felt awful about those poor readers who had received free e-books and didn't want them. You can read the reviews here. I've left comments apologizing and thanking them for pointing this problem out to me. I still can't thank them enough. And the problem has been fixed now, thanks to these dedicated Amazon reviewers, and Something for St. Jude is now one short story instead of five short stories for .99. As I said, had it not been for them I never would have known. And shame on me for not triple checking that. But as I said, there are some things you can't predict no matter how hard you try. And when it comes to re-releasing back listed book issues, this might be one of them other authors should pay attention to. I'm still not completely certain how this happened. I checked all of the other books that were released around the same time and they seem to be fine.

I'd also like to add that if things like this ever come up and you need to contact me, my e-mail is public and I welcome all comments in private. I will respect your privacy and discretion is extremely important to me. rfieldj@aol.com

Weiner's Snarky Director

It's been established that Anthony Weiner is naughty. It's been established he has a strong story. It's been well established that other politicians can lie about anything and get away with it, from their book bio to their college records, but don't do anything sexual in your personal life or your done.

And now it seems Weiner's communications directer went batshit crazy about an article in NY Daily News where one of Weiner's nasty little interns allegedly wrote a tell-all. According to this article, the intern claims Weiner had problems getting people to work on his staff. The only reason people were on Weiner's staff were there to get closer to his wife and Hillary Clinton (Weiner's wife works for Hillary). Basically, it sounds like the intern bashed all of them in a breach of confidence, including the communications director. And the communications directer, Barbara Morgan, went after the mouthy little intern without holding anything back. And it was very entertaining.

“It’s all bullshit,” Morgan tells TPM. “I mean, it’s such bullsh*t. She could f**king — f**king tw*t.” Oh.

Morgan goes on to say that Nuzzi is a “slutbag” and says “she sucked.” Also: “You know what? F**k you, you little c*nt. I’m not joking, I am going to sue her.”

In a statement this morning that was sent to reporters and available on The Washington Post, Morgan says, “In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off-the-record conversation. It was wrong and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and emailed Olivia to apologize.”

My fifty cents: Sometimes you just have to get it all off your chest and let them have it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Tampa" Preys on School Boys for Sex; Lesbian on Two and a Half Men; Women Who Love Gay Romance

"Tampa" Preys on School Boys for Sex

There is a new book out this summer, Tampa, that is creating a category six shitstorm everywhere because it deals with a female school teacher who preys on teenage boys for sex. I haven't read it, so this is not a comment or a review. According to the author, Alissa Nutting, this is her way of making a statement, using shock value in fiction to make that statement, and addressing a serious issue with satire (yes, satire and child abuse). So far, it's been banned in bookstores in Australia and the author won't even let her own Catholic parents read it.

She said, "I wanted to satirise the way these cases are received in society. Always looking to excuse the woman rather than looks at it as a criminal case, the way we do with men."

She continues to talk about how she was inspired by a Florida case that involved a female teacher seducing a teenage boy, and how she wants to change the way society looks at these things. Isn't she just the ultimate concerned citizen.

She said through the sexual content in her book and the extreme character of Celeste...who won't even have children because she's scared she'd want to have sex with her son when he's a teen...she wants to change people's way of thinking when the seducer of a pupil is a woman and not a man.

All I can add to this right now is that I don't know what planet she's been living on, because in the society where I live I haven't seen much of a difference between the way men and women are treated in these cases. It's a crime; you're a fucking creep; man or woman. If anything, I think the female teacher who goes after the teenage boy tends to get more heat from society than the male teacher. In fact, when older women go after younger men...and the men don't even have to be minors...there's always a double standard and the woman is treated worse. So from what I've read so far the defense about what motivated Nutting to write a book like this isn't very strong. It's sounds contrived and she's reaching too far.

As a sidenote, this is another HarperCollins gem, which makes me wonder just how bad things are in trad publishing right now. I did read a few of the reviews, which are interesting. But I'm not linking to this one. And that's because I can't help feeling this is nothing more than a grandstand by an author and a publisher who isn't as concerned about kids as she (they) is about making money. I write erotic romance and I have to watch every single step I take to the point where I can't even use the word "boy" to refer to a grown man in a book. And when I see something like this I want to spit nails.

Here's what one reviewer wrote:

Brave and beautifully written; a provocative look at a taboo subject. -- Irvine Welsh Tampa is a wild ride - sexy, fast, funny, and frightening, the counterpoint to Lolita. Humbert Humbert is tame by comparison. You won't want anyone to know how much you enjoyed reading this book. -- David Vann Tampa is an instant classic. A dirty, funny, shocking, provocative, Nabokovian scandal-in-waiting that will be read and mis-read and fiercely debated. -- Matt Haig Tampa charms and seduces you into the mind of its remorseless female protagonist then twists the knife by skating uncomfortably close to your own inner darkness. Lock up your sons. -- Viv Albertine

Brave? I will be buying this and reviewing it.

Alissa Nutting's literary agent is Jim Rutman of Sterling Lord Literistic. If you've written a book with underage characters and sex, this is the man to query.


Lesbian on Two and a Half Men

I recently read they will be introducing a new character on the TV series, Two and a Half Men. And she's going to be a lesbian. I can still remember what a huge deal it was when "Ellen" wanted to come out on national TV.

"Two and a Half Men" is introducing a new female voice to shakeup Season 11. That voice will come in the form of Charlie Harper's (Charlie Sheen) illegitimate daughter, Jenny, a 21-year-old lesbian from New York.

"I think it would be great have that voice on the show from a different perspective," "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre told reporters at TCA. "The show has had enough testosterone to last a lifetime."

I've watched the show on and off over the years, and it's actually one of the few I've liked. It should be interesting to see how a lesbian character is handled...portrayed. Because most TV sitcoms still don't seem to get it right with gay male characters in the sense that they never show the diversity within the gay male community. Just like straight men, we're all different. Same goes for lesbians.

Women Who Love Gay Romance

The title of this anthology poses an issue with my blog posts because it's so long...The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance. I think in terms of search engines when I'm blogging and I try to keep the titles short and simple. However, this title needs to stay because that really is a summation of all the stories in this book.

I still don't have an exact release date yet, however, it will be next week. I'm still having cover issues and it's hard to set an exact release date at this point. But it will be sometime next week, and I'll be posting about it periodically from now until then.

Here's the introduction as it will be pubbed in the book:

When I first imagined the notion of an anthology of short stories about The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance, I wondered about how many responses I would receive in the calls for submission. The next aspect that made me stop and wonder was whether or not I would receive the kind of stories I wanted to include in a book like this. In other words, I wasn't looking for M/M Romance written by women in the classic sense. And I didn't want drawn out academic diatribes about gay men in M/M Romance. I was hoping to receive stories about women who not only love gay romance, but were willing to include strong female characters in gay romance as active participants in the actual romantic storylines. But more than that, these stories also had to be plausible…or at least reasonable…as well. In the same respect, I didn't want to place any restrictions on the authors, and I wanted them to run with their fictional fantasies, so to speak.
 
An unusual thing happened. The moment I opened the first story submitted for the book and I started reading I couldn't put it down. It left me in tears and yet it had a happy ending. In fact, I hesitated to open the next story because I was worried it wouldn't be as good as the first. But the same thing happened the second time: I couldn't stop reading. And that's literally what happened with each story that followed. What is even more interesting is that none of the stories are similar, and yet they come together in this book and complement each other in a way I could not have predicted. Some of the authors have been published before, and some are brand new voices. And when I was finished reading all the stories, I found that's it's not only possible to include female characters in gay romance, but there's a deeper emotional meaning that taught me a few things I didn't know about why so many women love to love gay romance.



 
 




Monday, July 29, 2013

Iowa Decides Complaint Against NOM: Gay Marriage; Fred Karger



 
Iowa Decides Complaint Against NOM: Gay Marriage

I'm on the Rights Equal Rights mailing list, and this came earlier today. This is being spearheaded by Fred Karger (above right), former Presidential candidate, first openly gay man to run for President of the US in US history, and gay rights activist Republican. I've posted about him many times. You can do a search above. Although gay marriage is legal in Iowa, NOM worked hard to block this. And, more important, there are still millions of gay couples in the US (me) who are not legally allowed to marry, and NOM would like to block that, too, if possible.

From my inbox:

DES MOINES, IOWA -- Our request for an investigation by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is moving forward. On Thursday, August 8th at 12:00 noon, the full Board will be voting on whether it will act on my complaint that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has once again broken the law by refusing to report its donor's names in two Iowa statewide elections. The Des Moines Register had a big story on Friday by Jennifer Jacobs (full story below, or CLICK HERE).

NOM funded and ran both Iowa Supreme Court Judicial Confirmation Elections in 2010 and 2012. In 2010 NOM spent $635,000 and in 2012 NOM spent upwards of $100,000. NOM never reported its donor’s names as required by state election law. We are working with the prestigious Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, and are optimistic that the August 8th hearing will open the door to a third state ethics investigation of NOM. I will be going to Des Moines to testify before the Commission.

The complaints that I filed in Maine and California against NOM have led to long and fruitful ongoing investigations by both state ethics’ offices.
 

For more, here's a full article on what Karger has been doing. Karger has been fighting to expose NOM by asking for investigations. He goes about this by filing complaints against NOM based on alleged state violations with respect to full disclosure of who contributed money toward the fight against gay marriage. I know all this gets complicated, but it really is important from a legal (and ethical) standpoint, and Karger has been relentless in going after NOM in what seems to be one of their weakest links, so to speak.

The National Organization for Marriage opposes same-sex marriage and worked to persuade Iowans not to retain justices who authored a 2009 ruling that made gay marriage legal here. Karger, who is openly gay, supports same-sex marriage. He intends to be in Iowa for the ethics board meeting.

The board will decide whether Karger’s complaint is “legally sufficient,” said Megan Tooker, the board’s executive director. If the answer is yes, it will order an investigation. If the answer is no, the board will dismiss the complaint.

How this turns out is anyone's guess, however, it's nice to see someone...anyone...going after NOM this way just to let them know we're not going to take it. This isn't something you will hear in the LGBT community, or on Fox News. It's a new brand of politics I think might just catch on with younger people who have been so highly disappointed in the past decade with all politicians.

Ann Rule Sues Biased Book Reviewer; African to Behead Gays

Ann Rule Sues Biased Book Reviewer

Authors are not particularly litigious about anything. I've seen three cases of blatant theft where unknown authors have stolen romance books just this summer alone and put them up on Amazon for sale, and so far I have not heard one single case where the authors who were allegedly plagiarized have brought suit against one single thief. Authors don't usually think that way.

And the last thing we ever see is an author file suit against a book reviewer, especially a well known author like Ann Rule. But Rule seems to feel strongly about this, and for highly valid reasons.

In this article, it states the review was written by a freelance writer named Rick Swart for Seattle Weekly.

Titled “Ann Rule’s Sloppy Storytelling,” the Weekly’s cover story also contained “other inflammatory comments, including ‘evil,’ ‘sociopath,’ ‘bunch of lies’ and ‘straight out slander,’ ” Rule’s July 18 complaint alleges.

But, the interesting part is that the book Swart reviewed so poorly, "Heart Full of Lies," was closely connected to him personally and he failed to disclose this to his readers and his publisher. Swart, the book reviewer, was engaged to a woman named Lyisa Northon who was on trial for killing her husband in 2000. This woman who killed her husband, Northon, claims she was abused by him. Ann Rule's book, "Heart of Lies," was based on this murder case, and the book claimed Northon was a sociopath interested in getting insurance money from the husband she murdered.

Northon later sued Rule for defamation, but a federal judge tossed out the case in 2007 and ordered Northon to pay more than $60,000 for Rule’s legal fees after an unsuccessful appeal.

Clearly, Northon is far more litigious than Rule, which always tends to be the case.

The publication, Seattle Weekly, was owned by different people at the time, and also at the time, the editor of the publication wrote a public letter two weeks after the book review was published stating that the Seattle Weekly did NOT know the book reviewer, Swart, and Northon, were engaged to be married. So the paper did try to disclose everything...although after the fact. And I think this next quote is extremely important to understand...for authors and all those who call themselves book reviewers.

Bremner said Tuesday the newspaper’s actions haven’t gone far enough.

“It’s appreciated, but it doesn’t suffice,” she said. “That headline’s still out there — it’s all over the Web. You can still find this article on (the Weekly’s) site. It just doesn’t go so far as to say it was false.”

Twenty years ago the magnitude of something like this wouldn't have sparked a lawsuit by any author. It would have been buried in the archives of Seattle Weekly and only a handful of people would have seen it. But nowadays, when dubious book reviewers write defamatory reviews they are out on the Internet for all the world to see thanks to search engines and they never disappear. Never. They will always be there. Even if the book reviewer is eaten in a shark attack, they will always be there.

First, I think this brings up the topic of full book reviewer disclosure, which I mentioned in a post about BEA 2013. From my comments:

It's a good piece about objectivity and disclosure...in part. I take the above paragraph to mean that if the reviewer is reviewing an erotic romance novel and he or she doesn't like erotic romance as a rule, he or she should disclose this up front...or at least somewhere within the review. I've read more than a few bad book reviews for erotic romances and I've always appreciated when the reviewer makes this disclosure up front. This way I know where the reviewer is coming from, so to speak.

The good thing about all this is that I think we're reaching a point where Wilbur and Orville Wright are going to be turning things over to the aviation professionals, so to speak. In other words, all book reviewers (including me) are going to be more professional than ever as more authors become more litigious and online readership begins to lose the Wild West appeal.  
Writing serious book reviews is no longer a hobby. And it's becoming more important than ever to disclose certain information that might make a book reviewer bias. And I think book reviewers everywhere (including me) are going to be held more accountable, as cases like this lawsuit with Ann Rule continue to happen. In other words, if I decide to review Courtney Milan's newest release, I'm going to tell you up front that I think romance novels that have book covers with women in long flowing gowns are typically the worst forms of literature ever written. I might love Milan's novel and review it well. You never know. But I'm still going to disclose that I'm biased anyway...whether I like the book or not. That's called being an honest, responsible book reviewer.

I've set up google alerts for this case, and I'm going to follow it and see how it unfolds. Many times cases like this really do depend on the judge. And if this comes before a judge who is in any way familiar with some of the sleazy practices that have been happening in book reviewing all over the universe in the past ten years, I have a feeling Rule might have a case. In any event, I'm glad she's decided to sue. I'm not particularly litigious myself. I once gave a tenant back his entire security deposit in spite of the way he left an apartment, just to keep from going to court. However, sometimes you just can't take the easy way out and forget about it. And if Rule were to win a case like this, it would set higher standards for book reviewers everywhere (including me).


African to Behead Gays

In a chilling duo of articles I read over the weekend, it seems the African President, Robert Mugabe, thinks that gays are worse than pigs and he wants them beheaded. The idiot also thinks homosexuality is something that is a "practice," and it's not an equal right. But it gets even better: he's waiting for two men to procreate.

“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” Mugabe said emphasising that he would ruthlessly deal with homosexuality.

On top of all this, he thinks that he's going to uplift the status of women, get this, by encouraging them to have more babies.

In this article, he claims that countries like the US are threatening to stop AID if he doesn't accept "the practice of homosexuality." First, someone should inform him we don't "practice" homosexuality. We are born that way.

“This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father, (US President Barrack) Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that.”

According to the article to which I've linked above, Mugabe gave this speech about gays being worse than pigs before thousands of supporters who cheered him on. I don't know what the overall feeling is about gays in Zimbabwe, but I do know that he's been referred to as a dictator, not a president.

I think someone should tell President Mugabe the story of Marie Antoinette.

On the same day, her hair was cut off and she was driven through Paris in an open cart, wearing a plain white dress. At 12:15 p.m., two and a half weeks before her thirty-eighth birthday, she was beheaded at the Place de la Révolution (present-day Place de la Concorde).[131][132] Her last words were "Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it", to Henri Sanson the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on after climbing the scaffold. Her body was thrown into an unmarked grave in the Madeleine cemetery, rue d'Anjou, (which was closed the following year).




 
 






Saturday, July 27, 2013

Johnny Weir Willing to Ignore Russia's Stance on Gays

Johnny Weir Willing to Ignore Russia's Stance on Gays

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed anti gay legislation and most of the global LGBT community is livid about it, including me. Playwright, Harvey Fierstein, wrote a piece in the NYT and mentioned a boycott on the 2014 Olympics in Russia. This is why:

“Just six months before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Games, Mr. Putin signed a law allowing police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or ‘pro-gay’ and detain them for up to 14 days,” he wrote. “Contrary to what the International Olympic Committee says, the law could mean that any Olympic athlete, trainer, reporter, family member or fan who is gay -- or suspected of being gay, or just accused of being gay -- can go to jail.”

If in fact they are going to enforce these arrests in Russia, why any gay person in his or her right mind would even go there passes me by.

As a side note, up until 2009, the US would not allow anyone with HIV to enter the country. President Obama put an end to that ridiculous law in 2009 and I think it was one of his first official acts. Russia still places travel restrictions on people with HIV.

In a recent piece, Olympic athlete, and openly gay man, Johnny Weir, wrote about how hard athletes work to reach the point where they can participate in the Olympics and how much it means to them. He's not in favor of a boycott, but I'm not sure exactly what his point is. He'd calling for gay athletes to participate, he's saying what Russia is doing is wrong, and yet he's not giving a valid argument as to why we should support him...other than that he deserves it and he's entitled to our support. While I respect all the hard work he and every other athlete has done to reach that point, it's hard to put anything else before the issues that are going on right now in Russia with LGBT people. Seriously. We're not talking about money and winning awards. We're not talking about ice skating and competition. We're talking about the quality of life with maybe millions of human beings. And humans beings will always trump anything else for me.

Weir says this:

To have a boycott would not only negate the career of some athletes who have only one chance at competing at the Games, but also the over-time shifts an exhausted father takes to make ends meet, or the social acclimatization of a brother who can’t go on spring break because his brother needed another costume, or the mother who works part-time at a job far beneath her, just so she can afford to watch her first born perform for the world. The Olympics are not a political statement, they are a place to let the world shine in peace and let them marvel at their youthful talents.

Once again, this is bigger than someone's dad's sacrifice, or someone's brother missing ridiculous spring break, dude. And how Weir can actually say these things without considering the bigger picture surprises me. He clearly comes from a place of both entitlement and privilege

There isn’t a police officer or a government that, should I qualify, could keep me from competing at the Olympics. I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof. I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world.

I had to re-read that paragraph a few times just be certain I wasn't missing something. I hope his ass doesn't wind up in prison. Way to go, Johnny boy. It's always best to put yourself first, be self-serving, and forget about the majority of innocent LGBT people suffering through the physical and mental injustices of Russia's stance on LGBT rights...or lack thereof.

I don't think I've read anything that self-serving before. And I read the entire piece, not just what I posted here.

You can read more here. And the comment thread is even more interesting.

One person said this, and at least I don't feel as if I'm in the minority this time.

Wow. So having the privilege to dedicate one's life to sports (and it IS a privilege) trumps torture and imprisonment.

I'm not saying that Olympians aren't amazing people. But what about the average person? What about the average LGBT kid who can't compete in the Olympics and is wondering whether or not he or she will survive the day?

Weir and other athletes desperately need some perspective.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Forbes Promotes Gay Shame; Mean Girls Racism Big Brother; American Idol Racism Lawsuit

Forbes Promotes Gay Shame

I often talk about how shame plays such a huge part in the lives of gay people. And even though we've come so far in the past few years that same brand of shame still continues with publishers like Forbes. And the kind of shame I'm talking about now isn't something that always registers as quickly as it should...I would bet most of the people who read what happened this week with Forbes and the President of Ireland didn't even pick up on it.

According to this article in Huff Po, Forbes published an article about the President of Ireland and they said he was gay in the article. They were wrong. The President of Ireland isn't gay. But instead of just posting a simple retraction, Forbes posted a fucking *apology* to readers, not the President. They will allegedly contact the President of Ireland in private and apologize to him for calling him gay. Obviously, they feel the need to go out of their way because he's not gay.

 The article, posted Tuesday by Ireland-based blogger David Monagan, called Higgins an "acknowledged homosexual."

Higgins, a poet and intellectual who supports gay rights, was elected as Ireland's ceremonial head of state in 2011. One candidate he defeated, Sen. David Norris, is Ireland's foremost campaigner for gay rights and famously open about his homosexuality.

It's important to pay attention to the way this is worded. Forbes called him an "acknowledged homosexual." That phrase itself is an insult, like "practicing homosexual." But they didn't call him a car thief, a murderer, a bank robber, or a rapist. They didn't call him anything that should have warranted an apology. They said he was gay. All they had to do was retract what they'd done and move forward. No apology needed, because gay isn't something negative and it isn't a crime.  

But the fact that they felt the need to issue an apology, as if there is something inherently wrong with being gay in a general sense, shows how Forbes and other media outlets are constantly promoting gay shame and most of the general public doesn't even know it, including gay people who are still struggling with issues and not out of the closet. I know that's the kind of article I wouldn't have even noticed ten years ago. But now that I'm more aware of how the LGBT community is portrayed in the media, it's like that proverbial slap in the face. And I think it's time to start slapping back.

Mean Girls on Big Brother

One of the reasons why I've been watching the reality TV show Big Brother since it first aired about eleven or twelve years ago is because it's interesting to watch how real people interact, and react, in a stressful situation where they are kept hidden from the world and they are competing to win a half a million dollars. Since I started watching BB, I've seen everything from people stabbing each other in the back to falling in love. It's part of the game, it can be highly entertaining and amusing, and the gender politics is fascinating.

But I have never, not in all the years I've been watching, seen anything like what's been happening this season. There is a group of mean girls that rivals anything that's ever been produced in a film or a book. It's worse than what I've seen in publishing with mean girl book review sites. And these women on BB aren't just mean girls, they are racist and filled with hate. In most cases they don't even know it. Here's just a tip of what's been happening with these mean girls. If you do a simple search for "Big Brother 15 Mean Girls" you will come up with tons of other articles and forums with people who agree with me. In fact, America got a chance to vote someone off this week, and they chose the meanest, racist girl in the house. Unfortunately, she figured a way out and she's still there.

The plastics are up for eviction. And by plastics I hope you have watched the movie Mean Girls. Aaryn is Regina Goerge, Kaitlin as Gretchen Weiners and GinaMarie as the dumb Karen. Will the Queen Bee get stunned by getting voted out? Perhaps, this week has been fetch.

The most interesting thing this season about the mean girls and the racist remarks is that they've made hideous slurs against Asian Americans, and the host of Big Brother, Julie Chen, is Asian American. You have to wonder, first, how dumb can these mean girls be? So far, Chen has addressed the issue on her own TV show, but she's been playing it cool every Thursday night during the live eviction show she hosts. And frankly, while I admire Chen for being professional and taking the high road, it's getting a little frustrating. Even last night, Chen had a guest on the show who was a previous contestant, Jeff Schroeder. I've posted about Jeff Schroeder's anti-gay remarks in previous seasons. And yet there he was last night, sitting opposite Julie Chen, laughing and joking around about some of the meanest, racist people I think I've ever seen on TV, and not a word was mentioned. His anti-gay remarks were never addressed aloud, and since then CBS has continued to promote him.

We're living in interesting times now. And racism is a huge topic this summer, especially in the African American community thanks to Paula Deen's racist remarks and thanks to the Zimmerman verdict. And for CBS to ignore what's been happening on Big Brother with regard to the racism, and to welcome Jeff Schroeder on the show as a guest, is about as insulting to all minorities as what Forbes recently did to the LGBT community. I wonder if the mean girls will be invited back a few years from now if BB is still on TV.

I know Big Brother is only a game. I get that. I know people are expected to do and say things in order to win that they normally wouldn't do or say in real life. But how far does it go? And how long will it continue before CBS mentions it openly instead of just skirting around the issue. This past week there was an interesting discussion between Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg on The View. Walter's was promoting her 20/20 special about the new royal baby, and Goldberg said she wasn't interested in the royal baby. Walters smiled and continued to promote the 20/20 special. The next day I checked the ratings for the 20/20 special and they weren't very good, so maybe Goldberg had a point? And if TV networks and producers think they can get away with the same thing they did twenty years ago, they're in for a surprise. Most of us don't care about the royal baby enough to watch a one hour special. But we do care about racism. And if nothing is mentioned about the racism on Big Brother at all this season, I have a feeling a lot of people like me won't be watching Big Brother next summer.

American Idol Racism Lawsuit

Whether you agree with this or not, I thought that since racism is a huge topic of discussion right now I should post about it.

"American Idol" is being sued by 10 black former contestants, claiming they were kicked off the show in their respective seasons because of their race, TMZ was the first to report.

I used to watch American Idol faithfully, but then I noticed subtle forms of racism, especially with gay contestants and gay remarks. Simon Cowell used to find it amusing to refer to Ryan Seacrest with snide comments filled with gay innuendo, as if there was something comical...or shameful...about being gay. Cowell thought that was okay to do, and no one ever questioned him. Cowell is a straight man and like most straight men he has the power and the upper hand at all times. Seacrest who is also a straight man laughed it off and ignored the comments. That kind of gay pejorative was the reason we stopped watching. It just wasn't funny to us, and that spoiled the entire show.

But this issue with American Idol is more complicated than other racial issues I've seen. There have been African American contestants who have won American Idol. And there was even a gay contestant who won. So it should be interesting to see how it plays out in court. Frankly, I hope they all at least win a settlement this time, just for the anti-gay comments Cowell used to make to Seacrest. Am I being too politically correct? Probably. But it has to start somewhere.







Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ryan Field New Backlist Releases

Ryan Field New Backlist Releases



I hate writing blog post titles like the one above, but if you know blogging it's important to title and tag a post a certain way for search engines. I would rather have just titled this post "New Releases" and left it at that.

And here they are, as I'm getting the notifications from Amazon daily:

A Young Widow's Promise link

This is a pg rated erotic romance with a straight female main character and a gay sub-plot. It's a novella and I think it's about 30,000 words. It's also a civil war historical and the setting of the novel is something I researched in detail. It all takes place on the New Jersey/Delaware border, where at one time there was a prison that held confederate prisoners of war. Felecia, the main character, falls in love with a confederate solider after losing her husband and sons in the war. She's also taken it upon herself to dig graves on the front lawn of her home for as many dead confederate prisoners of war as possible. I'm adding the blurb to this one because it's very different from anything I've done before.

Blurb

Felecia Roundtree is thirty-seven years old, she's already lost her husband in battle, and prays each morning her two young sons live to see another day. With her own two hands, she's turned the front of her property at remote Locust Point, NJ, into a burial ground for unknown Confederate prisoners of war, hoping someone will return a kind gesture to her own loved ones. Then one morning in August, just after she has a vision of her dead husband, three Confederate prisoners of war turn up at her doorstep begging for mercy. One is near death; the other two aren’t much better. Though she's reluctant at first to help the enemy, she offers them food and shelter, and then eventually begins the romance of her lifetime with a young old Confederate named Calvin. When she learns a deep dark secret about the other two Confederates, she’s not sure what to think. Felecia has no idea she's even falling in love. Nor does she realize she’s preserving an important part of American History. But she’s true to her promise every step of the way.

Billabong Bang link A short erotic romance with a multi-race character.



Another Regular Bud link A short erotic romance sequel to A Regular Bud.

Babycakes link A short erotic romance set in Australia in the Daintree Forest that was once published by Alyson Books.

Bury It, Officer link A short erotic romance with a hint of light BDSM and shoe fetish. Also in a previously pubbed anthology edited by Cleis Press and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

Strawberries and Cream at the Plaza link This is a pg rated gay romance without a lot of sex. It was originally pubbed in a different version about ten years ago in an Alyson Books anthology. It is in no way associated with a m/m romance titled Strawberries and Cream. As you can see, this story was released a while ago, long before Strawberries and Cream was even a thought.

That Cowboy in the Window link  A short erotic romance with a gender bending twist, about a transgender who can actually pass as a woman without a single issue. The ending is happy, but not in the way most might expect.

That's it for now. All of the above titles are on Amazon for .99, and will be for at least the next three months.










Spike Lee Kickstarter Fail; Oxford Dictionary Adds Gay Marriage; UK Same Sex Relationships


Spike Lee Kickstarter Fail

They are saying that this summer has been the worst in years for feature films, and box office sales are down record levels in some cases. It's not completely dismal, and some things are working, but that seems to be thanks to the biggest stars that always seem to draw people into the theaters, not the content of the films. I know that when I see Greg Kinear's name on a film, I'm going to like it.

This is telling, and a sign of the times. It's been happening in publishing for the last five years:

But the movies are undergoing yet another period of transformation. With the increasing appeal of cable and digital entertainment, and the bottoming-out of the home video market, Hollywood has tried to lure moviegoers with bigger (and more expensive) 3-D extravaganzas.

As usual, there's rebellion in the works from filmmakers who feel marginalized by the studios' shrinking purview. Spike Lee on Monday announced that he would seek financing for his next feature film through the online crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter.

People are spending thousands of dollars to design custom home theaters and they either stream or buy/rent on demand now. Tony and I haven't watched a DVD or a video in ages. We either stream or rent on demand. Most of the people I know do the same thing.

But that line about Spike Lee and kickstarter bothers me. I've been a supporter of kickstarter before, in many cases. I think that it's a great way for "starving" artists to get a jumpstart and prove to the world they have talent and that talent always wins out in the end. I've even contributed to a few projects. But when I see people like Spike Lee taking hard earned money from people who haven't got a fraction of what he's worth, it really irritates me. In other words, mortgage the mansion, spend and invest your own money, and back your own projects, Spike. That's what I do with my indie books, because it wouldn't feel right taking money from people that way to me. In other words, Spike, put your OWN money where big your mouth is.

These Hollywood people who have started hocking people on kickstarter really bothers me to no end. It's as if they have this sense of entitlement, and it's changing my opinion of kickstarter. There's an old saying that goes something like this, and it reminds me of Spike Lee begging for money: He cried poor mouth with two loaves of bread under each arm.

Oxford Dictionary Adds Gay Marriage

I'd heard that the Oxford English Dictionary was thinking about revising and adding gay marriage, but now it seems official.

Evidently, they are constantly watching words all the time to see how they change and how they reflect what we are trying to communicate. Communication is constantly evolving, and many times the changes are indicative of common usage.

As it stands, OxfordDictionaries.com defines marriage as being a ‘formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife.’
In a reference, it says marriage could also be ‘(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex’.


UK Same Sex Relationships

In this article, they dive into same sex relationships and the issues that can, and often do, arise. The problem is that those in same sex relationships aren't always prepared for what's coming along, and they tend to jump into relationships without knowing anything. This is one reason I've been so worried about younger gay couples running out to get married right away. And I've posted many times about how older gay couples were excellent role models for Tony and me when we first started out.

They are asking people for advice in what looks like an interesting survey. I would have taken it myself, but it says the survey is nationwide in the UK, and I assume that doesn't include US residents. In any event, I found some of the definitions about how they define same sex relationships to be excellent.

Researchers at Sunderland and Leicester Universities invite you to take part in a UK-wide survey, to understand what you do when things go wrong in your same-sex, bisexual and/or trans relationships. Recent Equality legislation requires that services respond appropriately to those in same-sex, bi and/or trans relationships who might need help or advice. We believe that the best way to ensure this is to ask you about your experiences and what you need, so that we can feed that back to them.




Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Montgomery County, PA Issues Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Montgomery County, PA Issues Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Even though same sex marriage is still not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County in PA issued marriage licenses to same sex couples today in defiance of the ban on same sex marriage. Tony and I live in Bucks County, PA, which is only a few miles from where the marriage licenses were issued, and it's s significant move for those who issued the licenses and those who obtained them.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions. In other states that ban same-sex marriage, licenses issued by defiant local officials have later been overturned by courts and the unions voided.

The Pennsylvania ban is being challenged by an ACLU lawsuit filed this month in federal court.

The chairman of the Montgomery County Commission predicted that marriage equality will come to Pennsylvania. "It's a question of how long it will take, and what will be the legal process to achieve it. But we know we will be a part of that," Josh Shapiro said.

Tony and I have good friends from New Hope, PA, who are in Provincetown, MA, right now getting married this week as a result of the recent SCOTUS ruling, but we've been waiting to see how this unfolds in Pennsylvania. This is where we live, this is where we pay taxes, and this is where we choose to live in the future. And neither of us wants to go to another state with which we aren't familiar to get married by complete strangers. And we're not the type to get married on a beach. The odds are we wouldn't plan a huge wedding at this stage in our lives. However, I'd like to at least wear a suit and tie, have an after eight wedding, and make it a little formal...with professional photos.

In any event, it's still far from simple.

Hanes, a Cheltenham resident elected in 2007, said that last week - for the first time - a lesbian couple had requested a marriage license from him.

After consulting with solicitors, Hanes said he "was prepared to issue a license to the couple."
The couple were to receive the license at a news conference Tuesday but canceled.

The couple's attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, said in a statement that they "chose not to go forward because they were extremely concerned that the issuance of the marriage license would be challenged on procedural grounds without the courts ever addressing the actual issue of marriage equality."

In other words, the tricky legal system could screw them over and make it a complete waste of time.

But it is significant in the sense that same sex couples are fighting back now and they're are getting support from the straight community in PA, especially since PA is the only state in the northeast that doesn't allow same sex marriage or civil unions. I actually didn't know that until now. I thought there were others, but NJ does have civil unions. This is a good article with a lot more information, and a nice photo of the couple who got married.

Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood, of Pottstown, were the only couple to marry right away, exchanging vows in a park before a minister and their two young sons.

“We’re not setting out to be pioneers. We don’t think our family is any different than anybody else,” said Terrizzi, a 45-year-old teacher. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Montgomery County is the third largest population in PA, and Tony and I actually have a lot of family there. I wouldn't be surprised of Bucks and Philadelphia counties didn't follow soon.

I have to paraphrase this next part, because I saw it on the local news earlier this evening. One gay man who was in Montgomery County said something to this effect, "I've been gay for over forty years and most of them were spent in the closet. I'm tired; just plain tired."

I know just how he feels.








Anthony Weiner Sexts; Channing Tatum on Broadway; J.K. Rowling Number One

Anthony Weiner Sexts

When I post things here on this blog, I actually do make a conscious effort to keep with the theme of Naughty Guys with Strong Stories. Mostly that's about my fiction, however, I don't think there's been a naughtier guy with a stronger story than Anthony Weiner since the Bill Clinton era. And now that's he's running for mayor of New York City more information about his penchant for sexting has surfaced and every crooked politician in NY seems to have jumped onto the band wagon to seize Weinder's weak spot, and they are calling for him to drop out of the race.

Three of his rivals for mayor — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese, both Democrats, and billionaire John Catsimatidis, a Republican — also called on Weiner to quit the race.

"Enough is enough," de Blasio said. "The sideshows of this election have gotten in the way of the debate we should be having about the future of this city."

So far, Weiner has the support of his wife and he's not making any moves to drop out. And frankly, I hope he doesn't.

While I do think that Weiner's lack of discretion has created most of his problems because we live in a society that likes to cover these issues up all the time, I don't think his issues should be a deciding factor on whether or not he can run the city of New York. At least in his case we know he's an exhibitionist, he takes care of his body, and he happens to enjoy sex. Compare this to past politicians like John F. Kennedy or even the late mayor of NY, Ed Koch, and the only thing Weiner is guilty of doing is showing a little too much too often. The hidden sex lies about Kennedy were never actually addressed in public, and openly acknowledged. To this day, there are still people who think Jack and Jackie Kennedy were the perfect married couple. And Mayor Koch lived his entire life as a closeted gay man who didn't even acknowledge the AIDS virus...and he was mayor during a time when thousands of gay men were dying from it. On another note, it took over two hundred years to acknowledge that Thomas Jefferson not only had slaves, but that he made his living...a very good living...on breeding slaves and selling human beings for profit. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I think sexting falls into an entirely different category than selling human beings to make a buck.

Weiner's wife has openly supported him so far. Anyone who has ever been married knows that what happens between spouses, gay or straight, is unique and not all circumstances are handled the same way. And unless you can stand up and say you have the ultimate perfect marriage, I don't think anyone should be pointing fingers at anyone else. And, anyone who has been married knows that there is no such thing as the perfect marriage and that marriage is more about learning to compromise, mostly in ways you never could have portended when you were single. The levels or degrees on which we're willing to compromise differ from person to person, however, no one has it perfect. And sex is a big part of everyone's life and no one is willing to admit that openly. I personally know a few closeted gay politicians, Democrat and Republican, who come to New Hope because it's a safe gay community, to visit their kept male lovers. These men are married with children and they live double lives. I wrote about this in the upcoming book, The Palm Beach Stud, with a minor character.

Anthony Weiner is obviously not perfect, but no one is perfect. At least he's been open about his mistakes. Or at least I hope he's been open about them. And that's far more than we can say about any politician, including those who cruise men's rooms and lie about that all the time. Most of the time we get nothing more than a spin and what they want us to know, thanks to crafty PR people and those who stand to gain a great deal of money from the system. At least we know Weiner's not perfect.

Channing Tatum on Broadway

As with most things these days, this came from a tweet. Channing Tatum posted on twitter that the stage version of his recent film, Magic Mike, is headed for Broadway.

 "Magic Mike, The Musical" will be written by Aguirre-Sacasa, who co-wrote the book for "Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark." Tony winning songwriters, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, creators of “Next To Normal," are set to write the songs for the musical.

Anyone who follows me regularly knows that I have never been a fan of torch songs, Broadway show tunes, or anything even remotely related to musical comedy. In fact, I dislike them so much I love to parody them...I'm still thinking about writing an erotic romance titled, Banging in the Rain based on Singing in the Rain. However, I passed on seeing Magic Mike in the theaters, and I even passed on renting it on demand because I didn't think I would like it. From everything I had read about it at the time I imagined a bunch of straight guys involved in a typical hetero romance plot. So when I finally did see in on one of the premium channels I was a little amazed at how good it was, and how much I liked the storyline. I hope they do justice to the film with the play.

J.K. Rowling Number One

Who didn't actually think this would happen? Seriously. I posted about Rowling's pen name being disclosed last week, and about her new mystery suspense, Cuckoo's Calling, and I didn't have a doubt in my mind she'd hit the number one on more than a few bestseller lists.

J. K. Rowling will land at No. 1 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list on Thursday – but this time as Robert Galbraith.

As most of the world now knows, Galbraith is the pseudonym Rowling used when she released a detective novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, in April. Despite good reviews, it sold fewer than 1,000 copies.

Even though I loved her adult book, The Casual Vacancy, I'm not planning to read the new book right away because mystery suspense is just not my thing, and lack of time. But I do find it interesting that a book with a pen name written by Rowling lingers around without doing much for a while, plus good reviews, and then it hits all the bestseller lists the instant her real name is revealed.

I do believe Rowling had nothing to do with revealing her name in public. But I can't help thinking there's also a problem with the book system as we know it and that we're not getting all the information...or we're not bothering to look for all the information...we need in order to find good books. So when I post about new web sites like Lazy Beagle Entertainment I'm hoping people will really start to take this seriously and that they will check it out and give a few new authors a try. Because the only difference between J.K. Rowling and an unknown author is that Rowling has a little more luck and a little more publicity on her side. And if that weren't the case, her pen name, Robert Galbraith, would have hit all the bestseller lists, too, just based on the reviews alone. And that God awful title, Cuckoo's Call, didn't put her on the bestseller list. I'm not even sure WTF a Cuckoo is.

I don't often talk about marketing and publicity here, especially PR firms like this one that represents Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts, and is affliated with a few people who might suprise you because they keep it very toned down. But I think readers should know some of the things that happen behind the scenes, and I'm going to get into that more in the future. I may wind up in the river with a cinder block tied to my leg, but the information we are getting on a grand scale is not by accident. And those who often speak of full disclosure don't always practice it. It wasn't sheer talent that landed Debbie Macomber a movie deal with Hallmark. So there's nothing more important nowadays than publicty and marketing, and the least of that deals with reviews.










Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Newest Amazon Releases



Here are a few more books I just released on Amazon. As I've stated, this is for readers and for my own records. I've found that blogging in general has been a great asset to me while putting these books back up on Amazon. Instead of searching through files for blurbs and book descriptions, I've basically only had to do a simple blog search to get the past information.

So if you are an author, start documenting what you're doing on your blog for your own records, too. You never know when that information might be needed, and blogging is a very simple way to retrieve it. Small e-presses go out of business all the time no matter what they promise you in the beginning, and you might just wind up pubbing your own books someday.

Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy link

Something for Saint Jude link

Kevin Loves Cowboys link

These are all now .99 e-books for at least the next three months. And they are only on Amazon for the time being. We will distribute them elsewhere in the future. If anyone has any questions, feel free to e-mail me at rfieldj@aol.com







Fake Bloggers; Authors Guild Fights Digital

Fake Bloggers

There used to be a publishing blog where a fictitious literary agent posted facts and information about querying agents, getting published, and pretty much all things publishing related. And it was useful information because at the time the only way to get published, build a readership, and sell your books was to have a literary agent...a gatekeeper. But the catch to this blog was that the fake blogger often grew out of control and went on vituperative rants where he/she trashed people, in writing, on that public blog, and there were times when even I sat back and wondered. In one case, I happened to catch a post he/she had written about a routine trip to the "bodega" where things didn't go well and the fake blogger made some interesting racial comments. He/she must have had second thoughts because the post was taken down within a half hour. This was about eight or nine years ago and we didn't even think to take screen shots back then. In any event, this fake blogger ultimately shuttered the blog and from what I've read online in the dark corners of the Internet wound up in litigation.

I got into blogging about nine years ago, completely by accident. I was surfing the web, noticed a blog called bestgayblogs, and answered an ad to review and interview personal gay bloggers. There were no rules or standards. I kept my reviews civil because there were no rules. Like the fake blogging literary agent I mentioned above, everyone did whatever they wanted to do and no one was held accountable to anything. During the time I spent interviewing and reviewing all these bloggers, I met some wonderful people with whom I'm still in touch, and I also saw a few really interesting characters who would create fake lives and fake situations, and blog about them daily as if they were really happening.

At first I believed them all. What did I know? These bloggers are telling me they are real and I figured they were. I would follow them and study the comment threads, where other readers like me would not only believe all the fictitious stories, they would become emotionally involved in the lives of these fake bloggers. In a way, it was like being invited into someone's living room, sharing all their personal secrets, and building a bond and a trust that made a lot of people feel very special. And it wasn't just gay bloggers doing this. This was happening all over the Internet, and good, trusting people were falling into emotional traps of deception and they never knew it was happening.

It was a sign of the times, and the Internet and personal blogging was so new many people were able to get away with a lot of things they wouldn't be able to do today. I actually started a publishing blog with a pen name for about fifteen minutes, where the pen name took on one of those snarky online persona's and that didn't last long for me. My pen name ultimately got into a nasty little flame war with a literary agent I thought was full of crap, and we wound up arguing back and forth for a while. That's when I shuttered the blog. I'd only had it up for about a month or so, and I decided that if I was going to get involved in online confrontations I would use my own name and not a fake name and identity. But more important, the literary agent WAS full of crap (handing out very bad advice to writers), she's not even a literary agent anymore, and I didn't think arguing with her...or continuing the flame war...was worth my time. It's also very easy to get into situations like this when you're not using your own name. I haven't done anything like that since, and I do not plan to do anything like it in the future. When I started this blog about five years ago, I decided to use my own name and identity and everything I write here is something I'm willing to stand behind with my name.

But not every blogger agrees with me, and in spite of how many things have changed about the Internet and blogging, there are still bloggers out there who think they can get away with the same things bloggers got away with five or ten years ago. An author I know recently brought this topic up on social media, and she made a few excellent points. It bothers her to see people become emotionally attached to fake blogs, where bloggers actually create fake lives that nice people believe are real...but without disclosing the fact that these blogs are fake up front. It's one thing to start a blog about fiction and gain followers who actually know they are reading about fictitious people, but it's another to create a blog and lead people to believe it's real when it's not. I've learned how to spot them at a glance. There are a few who claim to be gay and claim to be written by gay men and I can usually tell by reading a few posts they aren't. There are a few things you can fake, but not everything. And there will always be telltale signs. In some cases they are harmless, but in the same respect the people who are following them, and the people who do think they are real, are being mislead completely.

The thing that really surprises me is that some bloggers think they can still do this. It's not that hard anymore to do searches and find out who is authoring a blog. In fact, there is one web site that actually takes a great amount of pride in exposing as many fake bloggers as possible. And there's always someone watching now. Even though I've disclosed as much about myself here on this blog as possible, I still get questioned about my identity, too. And I honestly don't mind that most of the time, because it's understandable. We've lived through enough fakes by now to find it's hard to trust anyone these days. My own personal issue with fake bloggers has to do with book review blogs. I believe that if you are going review anything professionally...not just books...you should be willing to own your words and stand behind your name, not something like the name of the brightest star in the sky, or even better, a tacky pseudonym like Joan Book. Don't play games with me and make an idiot out of me as a reader. And I don't want to hear the excuse that you can't use your own name because of the genre you're reviewing. If that is the case, and you could get into trouble for reviewing gay erotic romance, then don't do it at all. Let someone else who is willing to own their words do it instead. There are plenty of excellent book reviewers out there who are willing to stand behind their own names.

And I actually think things are changing with respect to fake bloggers. I never would have posted what I did above about book review bloggers with fake names five years ago. I would have been too afraid to do that. The fakes with names like the brightest star in the sky had too much power. But now when I see a book reviewer on a web site who uses the name of the brightest star in the sky, I find it amusing. And even if that reviewer is the best there is, they lose credibility with me and I dismiss them and their opinions. Because that old time Internet way is coming to an end fast. As the mainstream public becomes more involved in the Internet, I think we'll be seeing a new set of ethics and standards being set for bloggers...the same rules by which we are all expected to adhere in real life. In fact, I haven't seen as many new fake blogs pop up in the last year, which is interesting in itself. Most of the fakes are the ones who have been hanging around for a while and who haven't been able to move forward and join the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, there still isn't a code of ethics for bloggers, and there isn't a way to enforce a code even if there was one.

Authors Guild Fights Digital

I don't think I'll ever fully understand why so many have been fighting the concept of digital books/material without taking into consideration that there is an entire generation of young people out there who don't know how to write in cursive anymore, who don't read print newspapers or magazine, and who get almost all of their information online now. Many don't even watch TV anymore. I've posted before how Tony and I have a rental cottage on our property and we usually rent it out to a new adults between the ages of twenty and thirty. In the past five years, not one has bothered to hook up cable TV. They don't have landlines either. They hook up Internet service only, and use cell phones. When they read, they read digital books on their phones, computers, or tablets.

But the Authors Guild is still on the warpath:

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer in New York ruled against the Authors Guild. He called the HathiTrust an "invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts,” and said it was protected by fair use principles. Baer noted that digital copies are searchable in a way that print copies are not, and that they "facilitate access for print-disabled persons."

The article I linked to above is interesting because it shows how much the Authors Guild wants to fight digitalization. They even mention the late Aaron Swartz, in a lame attempt, which a lot of people are not happy about, including me.

“Two months before the filing of this lawsuit an activist was indicted for hacking into a proprietary database of journal articles by sneaking into a network interface closet in the MIT library, hooking his laptop directly into the network and downloading over 4.8 million articles, with the intent to disseminate the archive throughout the Internet.”

I posted about Swartz, here, in January:

For those who might not have been following this, Aaron Swartz was a talented Internet pioneer and activist. He founded Infogami which later merged with Reddit. He was also part of Harvard University and specialized in socially oriented areas that included activism. On January 11, 2013, he took his own life. There's been speculation about why he did this, and he allegedly suffered from bouts of depression at times. But the fact that the DOJ has been going after him for the past two years for something they claim was an Internet crime seems to be a huge focus.

There is now a web site called
JSTOR that allows students and researchers to download articles for free. As an activist, at the time the alleged crime was committed, Swartz did not like JSTOR. According to wiki, this is why: "it charged large fees for access to these articles but did not compensate the authors and it ensured that huge numbers of people are denied access to the scholarship produced by America's colleges and universities." As a result, Swartz allegedly found a way to download millions of articles from JSTOR with his JSTOR account within a time frame of a few weeks. This resulted in shutting down JSTOR's servers and it blocked MIT's library from getting into JSTOR, which is where Swartz allegedly did all this.

The comment thread to the link above is even more interesting, and I have a feeling this war is going to continue for a long time. And while they are all in battle, the rest of us will be moving more toward digitalization in every aspect of our lives.









Monday, July 22, 2013

Lazy Beagle Entertainment for Readers and Books

Lazy Beagle Entertainment for Readers and Books

When I first heard about Lazy Beagle Entertainment for Readers and Books, I was more than pleasantly surprised. This weekend the owners of the site sent out e-mails asking for feedback and this is what I wrote.

For a long time I've been wishing someone would put together an online community where books, readers, publishers, and authors can come together. And when I first learned about Lazy Beagle Entertainment and saw what they were doing I was more than thrilled. One of the biggest things for me is that it's easy to navigate and everything is up front and clear. When you do a search (and I tried several times) what you're looking for comes up without any issues. And the information that is there is far more detailed than anything on goodreads or Amazon. One of the issues I find with most web sites nowadays is that there isn't enough information, and I think readers are vetting books and authors now more than ever before. But the creators of Lazy Beagle seem to be working very hard to make this one of the fastest growing web sites online to date for books and readers. And the main focus is about books and authors in all genres, not just one. It really is a web site bringing all authors and readers together in a positive way.
 
You can get to Lazy Beagle by clicking this link. As I said in the feedback, it is open to ALL genres, not just one.
 
This is from the "About" page:
 
 Welcome to Lazy Beagle Entertainment founded by author Patrick Wendling-Markwell and husband, and sometimes co-author, Rondal D. Markwell. Ever find it hard to find self-published books and other books not promoted with a million dollar advertising budget. Looking for that hidden gem? Well here at LBE we will link you with your favorite published and self-published authors, and give authors a prominent place to link their work and promote themselves, so they are no longer hidden gems but displayed diamonds! We will provide links to all locations the book is available for purchase, and all available sites where you can follow the author. This page was started originally to be for self-published authors, but we have opened it up to any and all authors, self-published or not.
 
I didn't want to get into a long explanation in the feedback, but one reason why I've been wishing someone would put together a web site like lazybeagle is because a lot of authors don't get a fair chance these days. What I mean by that is there are a lot of great books that are up against a lot of competition and it's hard for new authors to get recognition in a fair sense. Nowhere is this more evident than in the romance genre. One m/m author recently posted about how she's never been rejected and she's always been welcomed with open arms by all romance review sites...even though she writes m/m romance. Well, I can't speak for her, but I know about one hundred more who write just as well as she does who are not welcomed with open arms, nor are they even acknowledged. So I think web sites like Lazy Beagle, and anything else that follows, where new authors can get a chance to showcase their books is about the nicest thing I've seen all year.
 
 

Sex Makes Us 10 Years Younger; Paying for Facebook



Sex Makes You 10 Years Younger

When I spotted this article last night, I found a few things about it interesting. The basic premise revolves around a ten year study conducted by a psychologist in the UK about how regular sex can help stop the aging process and help make us live longer. But you have to do it (sex) at least three times a week to gain the benefits, according to this study. And more important, you have to actually like doing it. You can't fake it.

Weeks says pleasure from the act is a "crucial factor" in preserving youth.

It's good for the heart, too.

"[T]he quality of sexual expression maintained in older adults is a predictor of good general health and well-being," he said. "In a Welsh heart disease study from 1997, the mortality risk was 50 per cent lower in the group of men with high orgasmic frequency (twice a week or more) than in the group with low frequency."

But, like with all good things in life, there is a catch. According to the study, regular sex with a consistent partner is really where you'll get most of the benefits. So regular tricking doesn't count (if you don't know what tricking is you can look it up on Urban Dictionary). On the other hand those who get into kink have a mental health advantage over those who stick to the basics. 

Practitioners of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) have been shown to have better mental health than those less kinky.

I'm sure many are wondering about whether or not self-pleasure falls into any of the categories of the study. The article didn't get into that, at least not from what I read. But I don't see how it could hurt a person either.

Paying for Facebook

This was an interesting piece from the unofficial facebook blog by Twitter Co-founder, Biz Stone. I've seen Stone in interviews, and he's actually very articulate and seems to know what he's talking about...without the BS we normally see from social media types who always seem to sound so desperate.

Despite the fact that Facebook has repeatedly stressed that it will never charge for its service, suggestions to that effect emerge constantly, and the latest came from Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, who wrote in a post on his blog that if the social network launched a Facebook Premium service for $10 per month, and 10 percent of its user base signed up, $1 billion in monthly revenue would be generated.

I think the word "if" here is the most important. And not "if" facebook did this, but more along the lines of "if" anyone would be willing to pay anything per month to be in facebook. Frankly, after working with high end clients in the art world for many years, I think that in order for this to work FB would have to charge something more like $100.00 per month to get that extremely wealthy crowd to pay up so they can tell everyone they pay for an ad-free facebook. In other words, it would be more like a status thing, like the way some of the wealthier pay $400.00 an hour fees to consultants to organize their children's play dates.

But the basic concept of a premium ad-free facebook is interesting, and it might help offset some of the issues facebook has been dealing with lately. What's even more interesting is that businesses based on the ad concept don't seem to be working out as well as everyone thought they would. I've read where many online newspapers and magazines are thinking of charging subscriptions. If anything, I think most people resist clicking ads on facebook or any other social media on purpose. I know I go out of my way to avoid any web sites where pop up ads appear the moment you get there, especially those that start speaking to me. And trust me, if you ever click on an ad on facebook, that thing you were so curious about is going to follow you around the Internet for the next six months.

But I think the majority of people right now like (and expect) everything online to be free. Once the customer is trained it's hard to break the old habits. I learned that from owning a small art gallery for years. The majority of people who came through my store were under the impression that I was like WalMart or Target, and that was far from the case. My average price point was about $1,000.00 and my personal restroom in the gallery was not for the public unless they were buying customers. But you'd be amazed at how many would sneak into the rest room behind my back. And when I confronted them about it they would reply with entitlement, as if I owed them the use of my restroom because retail outlets like Target have public restrooms. That's only a small example of what I had to deal with when it came to what the public expects from all retail outlets, large or small. And I think the same sense of entitlement applies to online web sites as well.

I almost posted about a very interesting article today, but when I saw it was from Publisher's Weekly I declined. You have to subscribe to PW to get the content, and the article...or anything else in PW...isn't important enough for me to pay at this particular time in my life. All I have to do is cross reference a little and I can come up with the same basic info somewhere else for free. In the same respect, I think we'll all eventually be paying subscriptions for online content whether we like it or not.



Photo attribution, wiki commons.