Month: June 2009

Ravenous Romance writer on the same best-seller list with Nora Roberts…HUH?

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I hate talking about what I do. I usually tell strangers that I work in publishing and leave it at that. I rarely tell anyone I’m a writer, and I never hock my books unless it’s the right time or place to do so. I’ve been a published writer since I was in college, for over fifteen years. I’ve been published by all the best gay presses, and some mainstream, so I don’t lack credentials. But I’m a little shy about what I do, and I’d rather not talk about it in person.

When I mention on this blog that a book I’m in, SURFER BOYS, edited by Neil Plakcy, was listed on the bestseller list in Canada last week, here, in the gay fiction category, it’s not because I’m bragging. It’s because someone else on that same list, in another category, is Nora Roberts, the famous romance writer.

It’s not bragging. So I hope it doesn’t sound like bragging. It’s humility. I’m humbled and honored to be in a book that was not only edited by one of the best gay writers on earth, Neil Plakcy, but also on the same bestseller list as the great lady, Nora Roberts. She’s an articulate, seasoned writer and I’ve always enjoyed her work.

I’m also humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be published by ravenousromance.com. The editors are the best, the other writers are some of the most professional I’ve ever met, and it has opened up a world of possibilities for this gay writer he never would have imagined.

Release Day…TAKE ME ALWAYS…

Today’s the release day for my novel TAKE ME ALWAYS. It’s a love story with a happy ending, about two gay men. But the interesting thing I found while I was writing it was that things were so different not too long ago. It’s not a paranormal or a time travel book. It’s a simple romance. But the book does travel back and forth, between the l950’s and the present, showing what life was like for gay men then as compared to now. The love was still there in the 50’s, but the quality of life was very different for two men who wanted to share their lives.

Kadin Mahoney is ten years older than his lifelong partner, Gregory. But when Gregory is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and winds up in a nursing home, Kadin decides to move there with him in spite of the fact that Gregory doesn’t even recognize him. His three children aren’t happy about this and his friends think he’s crazy. But Gregory is the love of Kadin’s life, and he’s not going to let him slip away without a struggle.

So he conceives a plan to help him remember their passionate, sexy past. With the help of a notebook computer and a personal blog, he begins telling him the story of two good-looking young men who fell in love with each other during the l950’s in Savannah. One is a recent college graduate, and the other is a thirty-year-old lawyer and divorced father of three. They meet by accident at the movies the day Kadin’s divorce is finalized, and wind up spending a full summer together engaged in every act of true love that is humanly possible.

But it all comes to an abrupt halt in mid-August, when Gregory’s family begins to suspect his forbidden feelings for Kadin. They drag him back to Atlanta early, where he enlists in the army to get even. Five years later, Kadin has moved on with his life and Gregory is engaged to be married. But Gregory sees Kadin on TV, and he goes back to Savannah one more time before the wedding. He only wants to find out what happened to Kadin, but the moment he arrives his clothes come off and their lives are never the same again.

This is a story with a happy ending. It’s about true love between two strong, passionate men that survives all the odds society and family have placed upon them. They do it with restrained dignity in public, but in private they share unbelievable, monogamous sex that leaves them both satisfied for the rest of their lives.

"Capping the Season" Release…

Capping the season was released this weekend here. I was surprised to see that I’m the featured author for the next two weeks on the publisher’s home page. I didn’t expect it, and I’d like to thank Claudia, the publisher, and everyone else for doing it. Claudia just underwent some serious surgery, and she’s back working already. So check out all the titles over there. And if my books don’t pique your interest, then something else might. It’s a great group of authors and it’s always been a very good experience for me to be part of their truly (and I’m not kidding about this) positive, encouraging group.

"Capping the Season" is launching soon…

Just in time for baseball season. It will be out very soon, and I’ll keep the blog posted for the launch date. The reason I keep posting about this book is because I don’t think I’ve ever had a book cover I liked so much. The people on the cover are so close to the characters in the book it’s almost creepy. The story is a celebration of love between two very unlikely people.

Excerpt: He drove directly to the new town house after settlement and saw the moving crew had arrived on time. Three overweight guys in Dodger baseball caps with yellow teeth and man breasts. In the back of his mind he’d been hoping for fierce and rugged moving men, with shaved heads and pierced nipples.

Young Gay Men, Choices, and Self-Esteem…

As I’ve already stated on this blog, AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN was sold to Alyson Publications this past month. It’s official. And I’m proud, humble, and very honored. As a gay reader, I’ve been a fan of their books for a long time. It also leaves me to believe that they saw something in the book they liked. And for that I’m thankful.

But this post isn’t about the book or the sale. It’s about interpretation and social responsibility. I recently read a review of AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN by a book reviewer who refers to herself as “Book Utopia Mom.” Here’s the link to the review http://bookutopia.blogspot.com/2009/06/officer-and-his-gentleman-by-ryan-field.html. I’ve passed the review on to a number of my gay friends who’ve read this book, and they were both shocked and confused. Not because it wasn’t a great review, but because she’s so far off with respect to certain facts that still exist within the GLBT community.

Here’s a quote from the review that makes no sense: “Never really believable for him to be in the situation he is, it’s hard to feel sorry for him when he doesn’t look at options.”

First, you have to wonder how much explanation she needs in order to get the point. He doesn’t think he has options, and that’s pointed out clearly in the book. He’s certainly not living this way because he likes it. At least this is what I’ve heard from all the gay readers who have read the book. Just the idea of “options” leaves me wondering what she’s thinking. Some people don’t know they have options. He doesn’t have support from anyone.

The plot revolves around a good looking young gay man who is tossed out of his home when his family discovers that he’s gay. He has little education, no money, and he’s all alone in the world. All he has are his looks. So he finds employment and a place to live with an older gay man (who is in the closet and couldn’t care less about gay rights) who takes advantage of his vulnerable situation by forcing him to walk around naked after work. There’s no sex between them. I could have done that. It happens all the time with older gay men and younger gay men who need some kind of support. I’ve witnessed it happen, and I’ve always stepped in to help the younger gay man out of the situation. I actually had a friend who was brought to this country by a wealthy, older attorney. The attorney “kept” him as his lover and he became an emotional hostage. The guy didn’t know he had choices. So I helped him get into school and out of his self-destructive situation, and he became a nurse in Atlanta with a thriving career. In the book, I did the same thing with the main character. Someone comes along, offers him a choice, and his life changes.

My point in the book, and in this post, is that there are young gay men who don’t think they have choices. They allow themselves to be taken advantage of all the time. This is why so many of them wind up on the streets. Part of this is low self-esteem, because they still haven’t learned to love themselves as gay men. And part of this is fear of living on the street. Because there’s not much opportunity out there nowadays without some kind of support. And in case any of these book reviewers haven’t noticed, we’re not all equal yet. The GLBT community is still fighting, daily, for the same equal rights everyone else takes for granted.

I’ve learned to take all reviews quietly and move on. AN OFFICER… has had some great reviews and I’m thankful for them. I’m eternally thankful to my agent and publisher for helping get a book like this out. But when a book reviewer questions a fact (not to mention my experience as a gay man as compared to her experience as a straight woman), and doesn’t understand that there are young gay men out there suffering from abuse who don’t know they have choices, I have to say something. Because now it’s not about reviewing books. It becomes a social issue that goes way beyond that. And as a gay man I simply can’t sit back and allow it to happen. I want to be able to sleep at night.

I’m sure this book reviewer didn’t mean anything personal (I hope anyway), and I truly do believe she wrote the review because she’s not aware of certain situations that still occur in the gay community. But ignorance is not an excuse when you decide to make public statements about what I consider a sensitive topic.

If anyone is interested, especially the gay readers of this blog, you can click onto the reviewer’s link above and place a comment on the reviewer’s blog if you agree with me. I want all my books to be sexy, romantic love stories with a happy ending, but I also want them to be socially responsible and real. I’ve been writing GLBT fiction for a long time, I’ve been published by all the gay presses, and I’ve worked for free for many publications to help get the message out. I take it very seriously when someone makes light of a serious GLBT issue that’s happening all the time.

I like to add that since I wrote this post I’ve spoken to this reviewer. She was very kind and very gracious in mentioning that her intentions were not meant to offend anyone. I believe her and don’t think she meant any harm. And I think we both learned a few things.

Erotic Romance is Sometimes Larger than Life

I remember seeing an old movie once where the female main character seduced the male main character with a large bowl of ice. It was a film based on a bestseller by a well known romance author. I’m not going into detail because this blog is not rated X, but I never forgot that scene. This all happened during a tender love scene, with partial nudity, and the film was rated R. I’m sure the intent was both romantic and erotic, but I couldn’t help wondering how uncomfortable it would be if it happened to someone in real life. Personally, I wouldn’t want my expensive dry clean only bedding soaked with ice, and it’s not something I’d enjoy in real life with cheap sheets either. We even laughed about this ice scene on the way home from the theater.

But in spite of our laughter, the scene worked. It fit within the context of the storyline, which is what they wanted to achieve. And without the ice, as outrageous and weird as it was, this would have been just another dull, cliched sex scene like all the others. It was, truly, unforgettable.

In AMERICAN STAR, which is a satirical erotic romance based loosely on the TV show American Idol, I refer to a certain body part of one character as a roll of paper towels. This character is extremely well endowed and the other is shocked to find out how well endowed he is. I set the scene up carefully so the reader will understand this is supposed to be funny and shocking instead of serious. I’m not the talented John Waters, but when I was writing it I wanted the scene and the body part to be larger than life. And, most important, I wanted the reader to laugh. And if a reader doesn’t laugh when he or she reads this scene, there’s something wrong.

I’m going to post an excerpt below from AMERICAN STAR, to show how I set the “roll of paper towels” scene up. I’ve censored a few words for this blog, but the point is still there. It’s the first time poor Terrence is intimate with Jude, and he’s about to get the shock of his life. They are just beginning to explore the possibilites of falling in love, and Jude is terrifed that he’ll scare Terrence away with his well kept secret.

Jude smiled, and then he squeezed Terrence’s thigh a few times. He whispered softly, “I have a problem I should warn you about first, man. I mean, I really want to do this…you’re hot…but there’s something you should know first.”

“A problem?”

Jude took a deep breath and said, “I have a mutant penis.”

Huh?”

“A mutant penis,” Jude said, still whispering, “It’s not deformed or anything. I’m not carrying a freak flag. It’s just over-sized; really big. Most guys run out the door when they see it. My last boyfriend just couldn’t handle it and that’s one of the reasons why we broke up.”

Terrence looked down at the bulge between Jude’s legs and pressed his lips together. He was used to Kevin’s size, and that certainly wasn’t small. And he had a good eight inches himself. How bad could it be? So he said, “Just relax and pull down your zipper, Jude. I promise I won’t run out the door screaming.”

Publishing News…

I received an intersting e-mail from a friend who follows the publishing industry very closely. I thought it was very good news, so I’m posting it anonymously below.

Today’s post brought a very exciting offer from Barnes and Noble. As many of you knowFictionwise was recently purchased by B&N for something on the order of 15M. Lovely number for being one of the first ebook distributors on the block. Barnes and Noble has decided to catch up, and is launching their own ebookstore THIS year. All content available at FW will also be available at B&N when they’re new site launches.

As many of you know, B&N is also testing the new $50K bookbinding machines in their brick and mortar stores. To have manufacturing capabilities in the actual stores is revolutionary, we know – and a step ahead of what Amazon can ever do, considering the customer can pick up the actual book, leaf through it, and order a copy to be printed, bound and chopped in the next five minutes. Lets hope our ebook distribution agreement makes us first to upload our POD content when they start accepting it.Very exciting times in the publishing industry, folks. Ebooks just went MAINSTREAM!! !OXOX