Month: March 2011

Speaking of Events, Check Out What Book Cover Artist Paul Richmond Is Doing Right Now

Paul Richmond is having an event over at his blog. You can get there and vote by checking out Elisa Rolle’s blog first, here. I’m a huge fan of all his work, including all his book covers. And though I’ve never been fortunate enough to have Paul do any of my book covers, I did win one of Paul’s signed prints last year and it’s one of the most cherished works of art I own.

And I owned an operated my own art gallery in New Hope, PA for ten years. It was a successful gallery and the only reason I stopped was because I wanted to write full time instead of part time. And if Paul had been around when I owned my gallery, I would have begged to represent him. And I have a feeling I would have sold tons of his work.

So check out Elisa’s blog and enter Paul’s contest. I’m not going to say which cover I voted for, because it wasn’t easy to choose.

The Event Is Moving Forward…

The event I posted about earlier this week is, in fact, moving forward.

I’ll post more in the next few days, with details about how readers can participate and have a chance to win not only a great prize, but also a free e-book.

Glad this is moving forward. I’ve started a new book and I’m still getting into the characters myself. The book I submitted to the publisher last week, tentatively titled, Gone With a Wink, was something I really felt close to. And I’m not even sure why. But I’m having empty book-nest syndrome for the first time in twenty years.

If You Write LGBT Fiction, Please Don’t Do This

I’m reading a book right now I thought was almost perfect. It’s a YA novel, written by a fairly well known author who has been on the NYT bestseller list, published by a large publisher. And it’s about a troubled teenage girl who starts a friendship with a sensitive Female To Male transgender, but doesn’t know this in the beginning and has to learn how to cope with it. All good stuff!!

The book is well-written. It deals with a difficult subject that isn’t often written about. But last night while I was reading and getting close to the end, one line ruined the entire book for me. And this one line was spoken by a throw-away character who means nothing to the storyline and the entire thing could have been avoided if the author had known what he/she was doing. I’m not mentioning names or titles with this post. I may in the future. But not now. Mainly because I see this happen so often.

In one scene, the teenage girl is hiding out in a hospital room because her transgender friend is in serious condition and she wants to make sure nothing bad happens to him in the hospital because he’s a transgender. I had a small problem with this part because hospitals are professional places and I find it hard to believe anyone working in a hospital would do anything to harm a patient on purpose. But it could happen. Anything could happen. And this isn’t what ruined the book for me.

What ruined the book was when a male nurse disovered the teenage girl hiding behind a chair and the male nurse said something to the effect of, “Hey, girlfriend. What are you doing there?” Of course I’ve paraphrased this. But he did refer to the teenage girl as girlfriend, as if he were about to double snap his fingers. Evidently, the author was trying to show us the male nurse is gay in a way that is far too obvious, often insulting, and way off base when it comes to what most gay men are like in real life. Especially professionals, like male nurses. And I can promise you without a doubt, you’ll never hear me refer to anyone as girlfriend, babydoll, sweetie, or hon.

Now, I know there are gay men who double snap their fingers and refer to everyone as girlfriend, babydoll, and sweetie with a strong lisp and a limp wrist. We all know them. Carson Kressley does it all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with this. I have good friends who are effeminate. But what I don’t know are any gay male nurses who refer to people as girlfriend and double snap their fingers. I don’t know any professional gay men who speak this way, not in the public or private sector. If anything, most of the gay male nurses I know work hard to fight against this stereotype every day of their lives.

In other words, writing about effeminate gay men works if it’s relevent to the storyline. The effeminate male nurse in this book would have worked if the author had explained he was one of those atypical effeminate gay nurses. And it could have been done well, too. But if it comes out of nowhere, just for the sake of showing that a character is gay with an effeminate stereotype, I have a problem with this in LGBT fiction. It tells me the author is faking it, it tells me the author doesn’t have much personal experience with professional gay men, and it tells me the stereotypes are still there and well known authors and large publishers don’t give a damn what the LGBT community thinks.

So whatever you do, if you are a new author writing LGBT fiction, please don’t make all your professional gay male characters effeminate unless they are supposed to be that way and it’s within the context of the storyline. We (gay men) aren’t all this way, especially male nurses, male teachers, and gay men working in corporate America. The fact that the gay dollar is so strong is proof that most gay men are, in fact, dignified professionals who are nothing like what we see on TV sitcoms or read about in novels like the one I’m talking about right now. And authors have a responsibility to get this right, especially when they’ve had a NYT bestseller and have a large publisher backing them.

Authors Spending Money on Promotion and Marketing

I’ve always been in business for myself. I owned an art gallery for ten years and another small business I sold in 2006. I learned a lot about running a business from the art gallery because it was in the tourist town of New Hope, PA and surrounded by other small businesses that catered to tourists, too. I also learned what not to do when running a small business.

Unfortunately, in the ten years I owned my gallery I saw dozens of small businesses come and go, and usually within the first year. People thought it would be fun to open their own business without taking into consideration you have to be there seven days a week, hold on to your money as if you’re holding on to you life, and carry merchandise that people want to buy not just merchandise they love. Yet people with no business experience would invest their nest eggs (or their mid-life crisis divorce settlements) into a small business that was their dream. Unfortunately, again, this dream wasn’t shared by their customers and they wound up going out of business in less than a year’s time.

It reached a point where I stopped getting too friendly with new business owners I knew weren’t going to make it (you can always tell). Especially when they started asking me to spend money on group efforts to advertise and market, sometimes a lot of money for TV commercials and magazine ads I knew were a complete waste of time. I always refused. I knew it would be a waste of money for everyone concerned. I was in a tourist town, filled with thousands of people from Monday to Monday, and I didn’t see the need to advertise anything other than my gallery, the merchandise I sold in my gallery, and how I presented my gallery to the public and treated my clients.

And I feel the same way about my work as a writer. I’m not against all marketing and promotion. I think on a grand scale, if you have thousands of dollars to invest in an ad in People Magazine it certainly can’t hurt. But if you don’t have that kind of money to invest on a grand scale, the good thing is there are plenty of ways to promote books on the Internet without investing any money at all.

In other words, if someone starts up a m/m romance blog, for reviews or just to promote m/m romances and authors, I will support them completely. I’ll contribute my time, I’ll write blog posts, and I’ll shout about them all over the web. But I won’t invest any money unless I’m absolutely certain I’m going to see excellent results. And most of the time I don’t think I’ll see excellent results. Most of the time I see a nice effort by nice people with good intentions who don’t know what they are doing. But that’s not what business is all about. And, in many ways, authors are business people whether they like it or not.

I will get involved in author events and donate time and money, where there’s a give-a-way to readers, like an e-reader or free books. I donate free pdf files all the time to these things. I believe in these types of promotions strongly. And I think it’s a nice gesture to offer free give-a-ways to readers as a show of appreciation. I don’t even care about the promotional aspects. I like doing this because it’s fun.

But when it comes to joining a group effort where I have to pay monthly or yearly fees (no matter how small they are), I usually pass. I know these things are done with good intentions and I know the people doing them are working hard. But I also believe I can market and promote in other ways that aren’t going to cost anything. Authors can pull together and come up with tons of ideas that don’t cost a cent. The Rainbow Awards is a wonderful example of this. Authors promote together all the time. And whether the promotional effort works or not, at least they had fun doing it. And, most of all, they didn’t have to take any money out of their pockets.

Stay Tuned For An Interesting Event

One very ambitious author I know has been organizing an event for romance readers. I can’t post any details right now because it’s not official yet. But if all things go as planned (fingers crossed), there’s going to be an event that’s sort of like a treasure hunt happening in the near future.

And, there will be a winner who receives a very nice prize…a very nice prize. We’re waiting to see if everyone who said they wanted to participate is still going to participate. People are busy juggling writing careers and full time jobs these days, and we aren’t 100% sure yet. But when I know for certain, I’ll post all the details right here very soon.

Don’t Fence Me In

With all the talk this past week about authors like Amanda Hocking who have had great success recently with self-publishing, I couldn’t get this song out of my head. And after writing this post about another author who is being slightly pressured by her publisher to do public readings, I really couldn’t get this song out of my head.

Yes, My Books Are Also Sold in Print

I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails and personal messages from people on social networks asking if any of my books are sold in print. Some even tell me they’d love to read my books and they are sorry they can’t read them in print.

The answer is yes, they are sold in print. Not all, though. The short stories with are only e-books. You can’t get them in print. But all my books with are also sold as print books. This Amazon link will direct you to print editions. I probably should have mentioned this on the blog a while ago. But I tend to take for granted that most of the people who read my books read them as e-books. And I often forget there are still many people out there reading print books and probably will be reading print books all the time.

I love my kobo e-reader. I take it everywhere I go and I’m usually reading three or four books at the same time. But I also still read print books. And I’ll never stop reading print books. So I fully understand the need to embrace print books even more so in these changing times.

Reading on the Down-Low: Erotic Romance and Discretion Go Hand in Hand

I’ve been writing erotic romance for almost twenty years, and one of the things I’ve learned is that this sub-genre and discretion are extremely important. It’s one of the reasons why I keep this blog rated pg and never post explicit excerpts, so I can discuss topics like this openly and no one will be offended. It’s also why I allow anonymous comments here on the blog. I know most people who read erotic romance don’t advertise it to their friends and don’t like to use their real names when they are commenting. And most comments from readers, if they dare to comment, are anonymous or fake names. In other words, they are reading on the down-low.

And there’s nothing wrong with this. This is why most authors who write erotic romance use pen names. They don’t want their bosses to know, their families to know, and sometimes even their friends to know what they are reading. I’ve had authors tell me this over the years and I don’t think I’m being presumptuous. I decided a long time ago I’d use my real name because I felt more comfortable with my real name. But I fully understand it when an author uses a pen name.

The reason I’m writing this post is because an author contacted me last week with a problem. Her publisher wants her to do a live book reading event and she’s apprehensive about it. First, she writes e-books, caters to people who read e-books, and doesn’t think doing a live event in some out of the way place she’d never normally go to for personal entertainment is going to help sell her books (she writes e-books and it’s all about online promotion, in her opinion). Second, it’s going to take her a long time to get there and she’s going to have to spend a lot of money on gas, parking, and tolls. Third, and probably the most important, she’s apprehensive about reading excerpts from her books, even if it is a small audience, because she’s not comfortable reading erotica, hers or anyone else’s, in public.

I hate to give anyone advice. I really do. But this time I broke the rule and opened my big mouth. And that’s because I’m not fond of reading erotic romance in public. It isn’t the same as Jonathan Franzen reading excerpts from Freedom. There’s something about reading an erotic romance in public that leaves me feeling awkward and out of place. And I’m no prude. I love the genre, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t still be doing it after twenty years if I didn’t. But I think erotic romance is a more discreet form of entertainment and it’s not something I feel comfortable reading in a public forum. I know other authors will disagree and I know they do public readings without thinking twice. But, frankly, I don’t care what they think in this particular case. If you take a good erotic romance, even one that has sold well and had great reviews, out of context, even slightly, it turns into a carny sideshow or a skit for Saturday Night Live…at the author’s expense, not the publisher’s. There’s actually a live journal web site that laughs at erotic romance, with excerpts and examples. I’m aware of this all too well. It’s happened to me when I least expected it with one snarky book reviewer, and I learned the true meaning of how an erotic romance can be twisted and turned into a sideshow with the wrong interpretation and a bad editor who misspelled one character’s name.

But I do believe that readers appreciate author discretion when it comes to erotic romance. Since the advent of e-readers, people can now buy erotic romances and read them very discreetly and no one will ever know. I think most of my readers do this, at least from what I gather through the fan mail they send me. And I respect their discretion, and hopefully they respect mine.

Then there’s the problem of what erotic romance is. Some believe it should have more emotion than erotica, others believe the opposite. I’m not getting into that because I’m still not sure what the true definition of an erotic romance is and I’ve been writing it almost all my life. But I do know there’s always a certain amount of discretion, which actually makes reading or writing erotic romance even more fun. And if an author who writes erotic romance doesn’t feel comfortable doing a public reading, I see nothing wrong here. I think the readers will understand…probably more than anyone…and forgive her. And the author I’m talking about in this case won’t take the risk of turning her work into a sideshow at her own expense.

E-books On Sale Over At

I don’t know the exact details, but I do know that all my books with ravenous romance are on sale for a short time at It looks like the RR books have been marked down from 6.99 to 5.24.

Here’s a link that will take you to my books. And I’m not totally certain, but I do think all other ravenous romance e-books are on sale there, too. I’m just not sure how long it will last, but I would imagine at least through the weekend.