Month: June 2010

Under The Tuscan Gun: My Favorite New Web Site and TV Show

I recently had verizon fios installed after years of dealing with comcast cable. I don’t have any huge complaints about comcast, like so many people I know. I only changed because verizon was doing great offers and I like saving money.

It wasn’t easy…getting used to verizon. The channels are different, the menu is different, and everything else is completely different from comcast. The first few days I felt as if I’d lost a best friend. And I don’t even watch that much TV…about two hours at night…and it’s usually The Golden Girls reruns.

However, the one thing that got me through the transition was an On Demand segment titled, UNDER THE TUSCAN GUN. One night I was searching through the On Demand section and saw the title. As it happens, I’m working on a new novel right now where there’s a Tuscan themed restaurant in the sub-plot, and I tend to get carried away while I’m writing and I become involved in everything that my characters are experiencing. If I see anything associated with Tuscany and food, I’m there.

UNDER THE TUSCAN GUN got me through the transition. Basically, it’s a cooking show, On Demand, with real endearing people, wonderful hearty recipes, and natural charm that never stops. Gabriele Corcos seems to do most of the show, but his adorable wife (couldn’t find her name on the web site, but she’s in the photo above.)I can’t recommend this show more. And there’s also a web site, too. I’m even thinking of trying out some of the recipes myself. Though I’m not much of a cook, there are a few I think I can handle. So stay tuned for more posts…with possibly a few cooking pics to go along with them.

An Annoying Thing About Facebook

It takes a lot to get me annoyed…it really does. But this is something I’ve been dying to write about for a while and haven’t had time. And the reason for this is because I work every single day, sometimes on weekends. I write a new novel every six to eight weeks, depending. And I’m usually editing and writing short story stand alones in my spare time so I can release a new one every month. This takes time and concentration. And because I love what I do I often put everything else aside to concentrate on my work.

But I have e-mails to read, bills to pay, and everything else that everyone deals with on a daily basis. It’s called life; it’s a good thing. Right now, while in the middle of a new novel, I’m going back and forth with an editor about a new stand alone. On top of that, I’m renting a small guest apartment I have on my property to a brand new tenant and I’m e-mailing him and pulling the lease together so he can get in there a few days before July 1st.

Facebook is fun. It’s a place where I like to relax and meet new people and connect with old friends. I love reading my blogging buddy Ryan’s posts. I can’t wait to see what Lori Perkins and other authors and editors I know are having for dinner or what they did over the weekend. But the one thing that truly bothers me is when authors I don’t know and have never been introduced to start hawking me with their books, and their events. It clogs up my e-mail and takes time out of my day. Sometimes they do it in groups, and I get an e-mail that sounds like this: “Hughy, Dooey, and Yahooy have invited you to the event…” And I normally just click delete and ignore them. If I see this happening several times of day for a period of weeks, I then go to their profile and de-friend them. It’s nothing personal. I have nothing against them. But I’m too busy with my own life to deal with e-mails that aren’t important. And I’d rather spend that time communicating with the wonderful readers who are always sending me e-mails about my own books.

I have this feeling many of these authors think they are doing the right thing. They believe that if they go after fans and readers aggressively on social networks like facebook it will help sell their books. Only it doesn’t work with me, and I have a feeling most people feel the same way I do. I’d rather they send me a nice simple e-mail and tell me about their books. I’d even be okay with a private message on facebook. Author Matt Bartloff recently sent me a private message about his book, TORN FROM NORMAL, and I was more than happy to get to know him this way.

But these cold, aggressive, annoying facebook events and unsolicited sales pitches run along that thin line of desperation, and writers run the risk of turning more people off than on.

Lori Perkins Literary Agent Wins Golden Apple Award

I just heard Lori Perkins, literary agent, has won this year’s Golden Apple Award. The New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America just made the announcement this week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for Lori. Though I’ve never worked with her in a client/agent relationship, I have worked with her as an editor and a guide. I’ve even seen it mentioned that Lori is referred to as a “Fairy Godmother” because she’s always helping writers achieve their dreams. And I know first hand how true this is.

In the past few years, she’s helped me with a great many projects, from beginning to end. I’ve never met anyone who can come up with a great book title in seconds, edit three books at the same time, handle the demanding job of being a literary agent, and raise a great kid as a single mother. And this is only the tip of Lori’s talents. There are far too many to mention. She’s a delight to work with, she’s always an inspiration, and she one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. And I’m not surprised she won this year’s Golden Apple. She deserves it!

A Nice Amazon Review for the GHOST AND MR. MOORE

I don’t usually post reviews from amazon because people can read them there and it always seems like a waste of time. Readers know how and where to find reviews without my help.

But this review captured exactly what I was going for with the book and that doesn’t happen often. A while back, there was a post on a well known review site about whether or not readers want to know what the author was thinking when he or she wrote the book. Some readers wanted to know what the author’s intentions were, others didn’t seem to care…they believed it was the author’s job to show their intentions in the book, without having to explain them ahead of time. I’m on the fence about this.

But when a reader gets what an author was trying to do, without having any information before reading the book, it’s always nice.

M. H. SMITH “mykelsf” (SACRAMENTO, CA USA) – See all my reviews(REAL NAME)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Ghost and Mr. Moore (Kindle Edition) A re-telling of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” with a gay lead. This was a fun read with an almost identical story to the original Mrs. Muir movie. A lonely parent of one child, a housekeeper, a dog, a New England sea cottage and a damn fine looking, however dead, sea captain haunting the home. Updated to modern times and told with a lively cast of extra characters, it still stuck true to the formula. Mr. Moore ‘ghost-writes’ a book narrated by the Captain in order to save his home and never gives up on the love between them. The ending, although known to anyone who saw the movie, was sweet and tender nonetheless. An old story, to be sure, but re-told with wit and a deft hand with the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

The Palette Fund: Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and More

Those who read this blog know how hard I worked helping a friend of mine who has HIV/AIDS get his disability insurance reinstated this past year with The Law Project in Philadelphia. And now I’d like to mention another foundation that is very important. I particularly like and support this charity because instead of dealing with one specific issue, it deals with several issues that have touched my life in one way or another. It’s not just about HIV/AIDS. My mother is a two time cancer survivor, and The Palette Fund works to support people with cancer. They even get into health and nutrition.

Another reason this is important to me is because The Palette Fund was set up to honor the philanthropic legacy of Rand Skolnick. I knew Rand personally. His New Hope residence was about two miles up the road from my home. Though he was a busy man running a multimillion dollar company, he worked tirelessly for issues he cared about, including lgbt issues involving equal rights. In addition, he never stopped working and raising money for charities he cared about. I’ve never met anyone like him before, and I doubt I ever will again.
So if you get a chance to check out the link I’ve provided, I think you’ll be interested in learning more about Rand, and more about The Palette Fund. It covers a multitude of issues that have touched most of us in one way or another.

The Palette Fund honors the legacy of
Rand Harlan Skolnick through collaborative grantmaking and programs that value human rights and education. Specifically, the foundation is focused on four health and/or social issues: the role of nutrition in healthcare and cancer, LGBT youth, HIV/AIDS and patient navigation. Rand committed his heart and soul to his philanthropic work throughout his life, and The Palette Fund seeks to continue and grow his pioneering vision.
Together with our partners, The Palette Fund hopes to create a groundswell of consciousness and change across all of our program areas and continue to find new ways to bring Rand Skolnick’s philanthropic legacy and aid to as many people and causes as possible, as well as to inspire people to join a grassroots movement to help others in need. In the end, we hope that one man’s death will better the lives of thousands of others.

You Can Never Predict Anything in Publishing

If it sounds like I’m blowing my own horn in this post, I’m not. I’m seriously surprised and I’m writing this post to let other authors know that even though you think you can predict what will happen to your book, you can never really be sure.

A REGULAR BUD was originally a short story published in a small anthology by STARbooks Press. This was a nice little anthology, but I made very little money and the story received limited exposure. And I was fine with this. As a writer, I thought I knew the drill. I’d have my short story published in an anthology, I’d enjoy the fact that someone wanted to publish it in the first place, and then I’d move on to the next project.

So when I decided to re-write A REGULAR BUD and have it published by as a stand alone e-book, I didn’t expect the book to do much. When I submitted it, I told myself I’d be happy if it sold a few copies and paid for its costs with the publisher (I tend to take this aspect of publishing seriously: I like to know the publisher didn’t waste their time with me and with a book that didn’t sell anything.)

And to my ultimate shock, A REGULAR BUD has been on the bestseller list as either number one, two , or three, in the fetish/erotica category since it’s publication as a stand alone e-book with I didn’t even consider the book a fetish story. Though there is a small fetish in the book, it wasn’t the way I’ve been promoting it. To me, this was a nice little romance between a guy in his thirties and a guy in his early twenties who happened to run into each other at a very awkward time. And the fact that it even sold copies, forget about being on a bestseller list, has blown me away. I will say that I loved the new cover for the stand alone version and I was hoping A REGULAR BUD would at the very least be received well enough to get a couple of nice reviews. But I never thought it would be on any bestseller lists.

So if any other authors are reading this, you just can’t predict where a book is going to go and how readers are going to receive it. You might think you know what you’re doing, but there are always surprises out there and you just can’t imagine the outcome.

CONTEST: 2010 Rainbow Romance Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction

For anyone out there writing M/M romance, you might want to check this out. The Rainbow Romance Award is taking entries from now until the end of August. Rainbow Romance Writers is Chapter #217 of the Romance Writers of America, and this contest is open to everyone who writes m/m romance.

Personally, as an author who has been writing m/m fiction for almost twenty years now, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see this happen. I entered one of my own books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the winners whether I win or not.

It’s a simple procedure and it’s not costly like other awards. You follow this link and there’s a $15.00 entry fee. If I can do it, anyone can.