Month: August 2010

Working as an Author Advocate

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve built an editorial client base with a few select authors I love. One of these authors is Curtis H. von Dornheim, an author who works predominantly in non-fiction and can be found here.

I like editing and reading his work. If I didn’t, I would not be doing it. And when he told me he’d written a m/m romance novella, THE WINGS OF FATE, and wanted me to edit it, I jumped at the chance.

I fell in love with the story, and I just submitted it to one of my favorite e-publishers. I’m working as his author advocate, but I’m just as excited about getting this story published as I am about getting my own fiction published. Though the concept of author advocate is new, it’s slightly different from acting as a literary agent. I don’t take queries and I don’t read unsolicited work. I go after my clients and ask them for permission to act as their advocate because I love their work. I’ve been doing this quietly for a while. But I wanted to go public with this one because I love the story so much.

So here’s hoping my instincts and my contacts prove me well. I’d love to see Curt break into fiction. And I think m/m romance readers will love THE WINGS OF FATE.

Guest Blogging, E-publishing, and Facebook Manners

I’ve been amazed by the lack of understanding when it comes to e-publishing. So I’m guest blogging today over at Rebecca Leigh’s with a follow up to a post I wrote last week. The link is here, and check out Rebecca’s list while you’re there. She’s been in a few excellent anthologies and she’s an upcoming author with a lot of promise.

The second part of this post is about facebook manners. I have two facebook accounts: one for work related publishing posts, and another for personal family oriented posts. I try not to combine the two because I don’t think readers are interested in my Aunt Bessie’s pot roast, and I know for a fact Aunt Bessie isn’t interested in steamy m/m romances (smile).

Though my experiences on facebook and all the social networks have been positive, there’s always that one “friend” who doesn’t know where to draw the line. I have a lot of patience; I’ll go the extra mile and give the benefit of the doubt. But when it becomes abusive comments, I won’t think twice about blocking a facebook friend from my account.

It happened this week. A book reviewer who has been kind to me with reviews started posting unusual comments on all of my posts. At first, I thought this facebook friend was just being campy and sarcastic. But it started getting obnoxious, to the point where I was embarrassed for him (Where is this coming from?). But I didn’t say anything. I tried to be polite. And then last night I “shared” a post with an author I know fairly well. It was one of those harmless facebook posts that authors do to promote their books to readers all the time. It wasn’t one of my books, but I’d read this one and wanted to help the author promote it. Within ten minutes this book reviewer/facebook friend started posting obnoxious comments on the thread and I was forced to delete them, and then block this person from my facebook page.

I hated doing it, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed…even when it comes to camp and sarcasm. If I get backlash from this and I start seeing bad book reviews from this reviewer, I’ll live. Because submitting to this kind of obnoxious behavior on facebook or anywhere else just isn’t worth it.

About E-books…

Though I probably shouldn’t admit this, being that everyone has such strong opinions about e-books and print books these days, I actually do prefer reading e-books over print books. I honestly don’t have that passion some people feel when they hold a print book. And I couldn’t care less how they smell. My passions is, and always has been, for the words, the sentences, and the paragraphs that make up the story. And I don’t care if they are written on stone or printed in digital format.

The one thing I’ve noticed about e-books is that they don’t seem to go away. Once they are released, they are around forever. Now that all my favorite authors are being released in digital format, I can get whatever I want whenever I want it. There are certain books, written by certain authors, I’ll only read once. But there are other books I’ll read over and over again, depending on my mood. John Irving is one. I’ve read most of his novels at least ten times. Anne Tyler is another. I’ve read Back when We were Grownups so many times in print I recently ordered the e-book because the print book is falling apart. It’s one of those books, for me, I can take anywhere. And I’ll open it anywhere and start reading because I already know what’s going to happen.

And for new authors who are working with e-publishers, I think it’s a great advantage to be released in digital format first. I was trying to explain this to someone the other day who was upset because his book wasn’t selling as well as he wanted it to sell. With e-books, the book is always around, the authors don’t have to depend on re-prints or a set amount of time, and they can continue to promote their books forever if they want. And as more people discover e-books, and it becomes a passion, new authors will be able to build fan bases much longer than previous authors were able to do with their print books.

Follow Up: Women Writing M/M Fiction

First, I’d like to thank all the people who commented on the post about women writing m/m fiction. I noticed some familiar names, and met a few new authors.

While reading the comments, I started to think about my past experience in publishing and how the lbgt genre, as a whole, has grown so fast in the past ten years I barely recognize it. If I’d died in l999 and come back to life in 2010, I’d be so shocked I’d probably drop dead all over again. When I first started submitting work to publishers, I was still in college. The Internet was not taken seriously and the only way to find submission guidelines was to buy those thick publishing books like Writer’s Marketplace. We used typewriters and word processors; there were ink stains on our fingers. Back then, I kept a regular subscription to Writer’s Digest Magazine to keep up with the latest happenings in publishing. But it wasn’t easy. And I rarely ever saw anything mentioned about lgbt fiction.

As a matter of fact, there was no lgbt genre. Back then it was just called “gay/lesbian.” And it wasn’t even considered a genre. It was more like something on the fringes of the fringes publishing, and you had to go into a major city bookstore to find it. I bought my first copy of The Front Runner in a little book shop near 7th Avenue South and Christopher Street in The Village because you couldn’t find it anywhere in New Jersey. There were only a handful of literary agents who publicly stated they repped “gay/lesbian” fiction. And I know for a fact there are still a few literary agents out there who are gay in their personal lives, but still refuse to admit they are gay within the publishing community. Their associates don’t even know they are gay or they have a life parnter. In many ways, being gay is still a well-kept, unspoken secret in some circles.

But I have seen some wonderful changes in the past ten years. “Gay/Lesian” has evolved in so many ways I’m hearing it’s hard for bookstores to classify the sub-genres. And a good deal of these changes, all very positive, have come about because so many women have been discovering the m/m genre. They’ve been reading it, writing it, and supporting it in ways I never imagined I’d see in my lifetime. And as a gay man who still sees a great deal of discrimination around, from marriage to lgbt people who are still terrified to come out and admit who they are openly, I’m thankful for all the support I’ve received from these women authors. And I hope the support continues over the next ten years, so that the genre evolves in ways new authors today never could have imagined right now.

In Support of all the Women Writing M/M Fiction

I heard there’s been a slight uproar in the blogsphere about women who write m/m fiction. I’m not going into detail about that, but I do want to offer my support and my own thoughts. I like to keep it simple and to the point, without too many fifty cent words and pedantic analogies.

First, I’m all for anyone who wants to write m/m fiction. I don’t care what their gender is, with whom they sleep, or what their sexual preference is. This is partly because I’m not a fan of putting labels on people, and partly because I think good writers should be able to write on any topic, in any genre, and about anything if they work hard enough at it, regardless of their gender or sexual preference. I’m not a historical fan; it’s just not my genre. But I have written a few historicals and I know I can do it.

I also don’t like putting authors into boxes. As an openly gay male, I’ve been known to cross genres myself. I use pen names so I don’t confuse readers, but not because of my sexual preference. And this ludicrous thought process that just because I’m gay I have to only write m/m fiction passes me by completely. Hell, a good number of gay men and women wrote mainstream literary fiction long before there was even a genre called m/m fiction and they marketed their books and writings to the straight community and no one ever said a word. Hello: Tennessee Williams; Gertrude Stein.

And now, all of a sudden, I’m hearing that women authors who write m/m fiction are getting slammed and bashed all over the internet. And I don’t think that’s fair.

To be honest, when I first heard that so many straight women were writing (and reading) m/m romances, I was a little surprised. I’ve been writing lgbt fiction for almost twenty years and it just never occurred to me that straight women would be interested in writing gay romances. But then I read a few of their books and I liked what I was reading. G. A. Hauser dives right into her books with the kind of energy I look for in fiction. And the sweetest love story I read all year was written by a new author, Michele Montgomery.

Personally, I’ve been extremely annoyed with some of the things I’ve seen and read about straight women (or anyone who isn’t gay) writing m/m fiction, and I wanted to make it clear that I have always supported them, and will continue to support them. After all, as a gay man I’ve been fighting for equal rights all my life, and I’m certainly not going to discriminate against anyone else.

All About E-publishing!!

Today I did a guest blogging stint over at Rebecca Leigh, here. I wrote a post that I hope answered a few questions about e-publishers. (Huge thanks to Rebecca Leigh!)

But after reading two agent blog posts this evening, I’d like to follow up on my guest blogger post right now.

These agents went into detail describing the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. But they failed to mention one important factor that all authors and potential authors should know about. And that’s e-publishers. They made it sound as though the only alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing and they totally left out e-publishers.

But there is an alternative to traditional publishing and self-publishing. And that’s submitting your work to an e-publisher. I come from a background of working with traditional publishers, and when I decided to make the switch to e-publishing I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was not all that different from traditional publishers. It’s just as professional, if not more because authors are treated very, very well.

I’m contracted to do a certain amount of books, just like with a traditional publisher. When I submit the finished books, they then go to an editor, and then to a copy editor, and I don’t pay for these services either. When the books are released, my e-publishers work hard to distribute and market, always helping me along the way, all over the world. I get letters from readers in places I’ve never even heard of.

So e-publishing isn’t all that different from traditional publishing. And self-publishing is not the only alternative to getting your book published when traditional publishers turn you away based on purely subjective reasons.

I thought it was important to post about this, especially while the publishing industry is going through so many changes and no one knows what to expect next. And trust me, those who are hanging on to traditional ways, aren’t going to tell you what I just did. For some reason, whenever they talk about e-publishers the words seem to stick in their throats and they start choking (huge smile).

New Release, Cowtown, New Jersey, and KEVIN LOVES COWBOYS

In my new short story stand alone, KEVIN LOVES COWBOYS, which will be released today, here, I mention a place in the storyline called Cowtown, New Jersey. I know it sounds fictional. When most people think of New Jersey they think of factories, congested suburbs, and The Sopranos. But in this story the setting is actually based on a real place.

There is, in fact, a Cowtown, New Jersey. I grew up five miles away from there, in a small southern New Jersey town on the Delaware River called, Penns Grove. This is not the New Jersey most people think they know. Penns Grove is located near the Delaware Memorial Bridge and it’s been nicknamed “The Gateway to the South.” Actor John Forsythe was born there, Bruce Willis grew up there. And last time I heard (my mom knows all the local gossip), Bruce’s family still lives there.

And there’s a large rodeo/farmers market/livestock auction/country western place not far from Penns Grove called Cowtown. And though I now live in Bucks County, PA, I still go back all the time to visit and I still make trips to Cowtown. Like I said, it’s not like the New Jersey people think they know. It’s more like being in New Orleans, or Texas, with a strong southern atmosphere. Even the roads are named after southern states. The main road running through Penns Grove is Virginia Avenue.

I’m posting this as background story because I’ve already had a few e-mails about Cowtown and the book hasn’t even been released a full day yet. People are questioning whether or not there is a Cowtown. They seem worried it’s not going to sound real enough because most people haven’t heard of a rodeo in New Jersey (smile). Well, take it from me, because I grew up there, went to school there, and spent many a Saturday night at the Cowtown Rodeo. And if you don’t believe me, just follow the links I’ve provided and you can see for yourself.

Astatalk and Other Pirate Sites Where People Download Free Books Illegally

I’ve posted about astatalk, which is an illegally operated pirate site that allows people to download free books and infringes on copyrights without thinking twice about it. I’ve mentioned how these entitled people steal books from authors who work long hard hours and rarely make enough money to pay their rent. I’ve even gone so far as to post the fake profiles of some of the people who join these pirate sites and interact as though they’d paid for the books they’ve read.

But the fact of the matter is that right now the only thing authors and publishers can do is keep on top of their books and make sure they continue to file abuse forms to have their books removed from the sites. I know first hand how daunting this can be. Sometimes it only takes minutes for a book to be taken down and then added again by someone else. And if you’re like me, and you have over forty books out there, it becomes a part time job to keep filing abuse forms.

I’m writing this post in part because I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails from new authors asking about book pirates. Most are shocked They have just had their first book published and they’ve never even heard of book pirates, illegal downloads, and filing abuse forms. But more than that, they are even more shocked when I tell them there’s nothing they can do except keep filing the abuse forms. And though it’s a vicious circle that never ends, at least they are doing something to protect their copyrights.

I also receive e-mails and messages from readers who actually download free books on these pirate sites. They are a bold crowd, indeed. One just sent me a long message stating that the only reason he goes to these sites for free illegal downloads is because he likes checking out the e-book first to know whether or not he’ll want to buy the print book. In other words, this reader doesn’t think e-books are important enough to take seriously as valid stand alone books…at least not compared to print books. He views e-books as samples, with a lesser value. Evidently, this person hasn’t been keeping up with what’s going on in publishing. I doubt he’s invested money in an e-reader either. And though he seems like a nice guy, aside from the fact that he’s not getting the point behind e-books in general, he’s way off base from a legal standpoint. Even if his argument were true, which it isn’t, he’s still stealing books. If he went into a restaurant and ordered an entire meal just to see how the food was there, and then refused to pay until the next time he returned, the owner would call the police and he’d be arrested. In New Jersey, where I come from, the owner would probably take him out back and break both his legs, too.

So while the issue continues to frustrate authors and publishers, the only thing we can do is keep up with our books and file abuse forms. We need to take a few hours each week to learn as much as we can about these pirate sites and continue to fight back. And though it seems futile right now, I do think we’ll eventually find one or two book pirates and punish them as an example. I know there are now many authors working with the law, undercover, and they are getting to know the people who download books illegally and they are going to scoop them up eventually. A free ride can only last just so long. And then you have to pay for your actions.


I just received the ARC for my new stand alone, MISSING JACKSON’S HOLE. For those of you who prefer m/m romances, this might not be the book for you. But if you prefer an erotic story about the old west, with a cast of young, sexy cowboys, you might enjoy this.

I can’t thank Dawne Dominque enough for coming up with this wonderful cover. And I can’t thank Dalia at loveyoudivine enough for doing such a wonderful job on the edits. The release date is set for September 3rd, and the sell copy is below.

Poor young Jackson isn’t thrilled about his new job, working the night shift in the town’s telegraph office. He’s not only terrified of being alone, but panic stricken about being alone in the dark. He misses his old job, where he took care of a ranch full of big strong cowboys, including setting up their baths each week and catering to all their needs. He only took the new job at the telegraph office because the money was good. But when he starts to dread going to work at night, he decides to write a letter of resignation and beg for his old job back.

Then a few of the cowboys who’ve been missing Jackson just as much as he’s been missing them stop by to see how he’s doing. They miss their baths; they miss the way he used to dry them off with gentle strokes. And Jackson is more than willing to take good care of them in the back room of his new office, where he discovers he’s not as lonely as he thought he was and his new job isn’t all that bad after all.

Impatiens and Rosemary

Enough with the book pirate posts, especially for the weekend. There’s very little writers and publishers can do about them, other than to continue filing abuse forms. And that’s a cold hard fact. There’s a different mindset in our global society these days, and you simply can’t turn this around and go backward no matter how hard you try. Book pirates aren’t going away. I took down the post I wrote earlier, where a notorious book pirate left a comment on an earlier post. And I’m not sure when I’ll post about this again…if ever.

So here’s a photo of a combination I did this summer. It’s impatiens and rosemary. I’ve never combined the two before. And I only did it this time to keep the squirrels out of the flower pots. But I was happy with the results and this one’s going into the notebook I’ve been keeping for the past ten years on gardening.