Month: April 2012

Artistic Photos With Gay Bathhouse Images Shut Down

I often link the The Bathhouse blog because whoever is writing this blog seems to pick up interesting news and information all the time. A lot of this info is related to bathhouses, but not always. Sometimes it’s political, sometimes social, and sometimes it deals with the arts. I can say this: I’m never bored with anything I read there, and whatever I do read there is smart, well executed, and teaches me something I didn’t already know.

Recently, an art exhibit was censored in India because it allegedly had images of men in bathhouses. You can read more about it here. There are other links on the post where you can see the actual images that were censored. I don’t think there is one with full frontal nudity. But I could be wrong about that.

And, for fun, you might want to check out this post about Bathhouse Bait. I’ve posted about gay bathhouses before more than once. I’ve written scenes with gay bathhouses in a few of my novels. It’s a large part of gay culture and always has been. To ignore it, even in romance, would be selling gay men short, if not insulting to them.

Can the "Sticky Sweet Deal" Damage an Author’s Career?

We hear all the time about how important it is for authors not to rant and rave on social media. And I agree. If you are labeled as trouble all the time it’s hard to shake the image. Life is hard enough as it is without having to listen to an author rant and complain. But I’m kind of curious about something else…which I guess would the direct opposite of being a snarky, ranting blowhard online.

I tend to keep it real here on the blog and on social media. I’ve never been a confrontational person and I have a very long fuse, so to speak. Although, if you push me hard enough, or if you throw the first punch, you’d better be prepared for a response. But that rarely ever happens to me, and it has to be extreme when it does. Most of the time I find that keeping it real and treating people with respect works best. And I’ve learned over the years never to underestimate readers…and to give them the respect and honesty they deserve.

What I’m talking about right now with the “sticky sweet deal” is when I see an author lay on the sugar and spice routine to the point of nausea. When it gets so cute, and the pretty pink unicorns are so adorable, you want to gag. It can happen on blogs or on any social media where authors are interacting with readers and other authors. It can be men or women; there doesn’t seem to be a pattern in this respect. I don’t see this often, thank God, but when I do I cringe sometimes.

The false tone and the painfully wretched way I’ve seen this happen makes me wonder how readers feel about this, and do they actually believe it? I could do it. I could post something like this: “A dear sweet loving reader just told me she loves me more than a basket of puppies, a bushel of fluffy kittens, and marsh mellow clouds in a bright blue sky. She is willing to leave her husband for me, everything she’s worked for all her life, and run off into the sunset with me to live happily-ever-after in a world of over-the-rainbow love.” But would readers really buy into the sticky sweet deal or would they think I’m a blithering idiot who will stop at nothing to sell a book?

I honestly don’t know what to make of this. Maybe most of the bright, hard-working authors I know who don’t do things like this are missing something important? Maybe I’m missing something important? But, like I said, I don’t see it happen very often. I really am curious about how readers feel when they see an author say or do things on social media that could be taken as insincere…or too cute. I will say this: I think it might work in the beginning. It might be a way to attract a readership and build a following. Politicians do it all the time. We’ve seen them all kissing babies at one time or another. But eventually even politicians have to tone it down. Because once the “sticky sweet deal” wears off there had better be a back up plan with something substantial. If not, and you’re labeled an idiot, you’ll always be one. I know there are one or two I’ll never forget. And I don’t know many people who are willing to take that chance in any walk of life.

Free Apps to Read Kindle E-Books on Any Device

Understanding how to read e-books can be frustrating at best in the beginning. I know it was for me. So when I see things like this I pass them on hoping they might help someone. The biggest misconception I see all the time is that people think they need an e-reader or e-reading device to read e-books. All you need is a computer.

Last week a friend who also has an indie pubbed novel on Amazon through the KDP program posted a link on facebook and twitter about free apps for all e-reading devices. In other words, you don’t need a Kindle to buy a Kindle book. In fact, you don’t even need an e-reader. You can read e-books right on your laptop or computer. It comes in handy with cookbooks in the kitchen. No need for print cookbooks anymore. You just follow the recipes from your laptop or iPad. I don’t cook often, and it’s helps me a lot when I do.

Here’s part of the information below, taken directly from Amazon. And here’s a link to read more and get the apps. Here’s one just for your PC. I’ve done this myself. I have the Kindle app for my iPhone, my iPad, my NextBook tablet, my PCs and both my Kobo e-readers. It’s not just kindle who is doing this either. You can download the Kobo apps to anything as well. I’ve started to enjoy my Kobo library even more on my iPhone lately.

Buy Once, Read Everywhere: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to enjoy Kindle books. Download one of our free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on all your devices. The Kindle app is available for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer. That means with our free Kindle Reading apps, you can buy a Kindle book once, and read it on any device with the Kindle app installed. And of course, you can also read that same Kindle book on a Kindle, Kindle Touch, or Kindle Fire if you own one.

What’s Coming Up Soon…Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street

I haven’t posted much about my own work on the blog recently because I wrote so much about “Chase of a Lifetime” for a while I didn’t want people to get bored. That’s why I tried to keep the posts about COAL mainly limited to technical things, like editing the book for publication and working on the actual Kindle publishing process. I know a lot of authors are curious about this and I wanted to explain my experience step by step.

Writing and publishing COAL has been a great experience for me. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m still learning. If you think submitting a manuscript to a publisher is hard work, you haven’t lived until you’ve published a book on your own. In the past, I always knew there would be an editor and a copy editor to cover my back if it needed covering. With COAL, it was only me.

But it was a good challenge, and I’m doing it again. I haven’t stopped writing for the publishers I’ve been working with for a long time. I have a new release coming out with titled, “Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy,” and I just signed a contract with Ravenous Romance to write a new novel under a pen name. Unfortunately, I’m with the school of thought that believes you don’t ever reveal a pen name. So I won’t be posting much about the new Ravenous project here on the blog. But it’s the first time I’ve ever used a pen name in m/m fiction, and I’m actually having fun with it. The main reason for the pen name is because I’m now writing in a sub-genre I’ve never written in before. It’s more for readers, so they don’t get confused, than it is for me.

The new indie book for Amazon Kindle I just finished is titled, “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street.” It will be released sometime this summer, probably June. It will be a .99 Kindle e-book, just like COAL. This one is a little different than anything else I’ve ever written because there’s BDSM in the storyline…a lot of BDSM. But I would consider it light BDSM. Though I’ve written BDSM erotica before, I never tackled a BDSM m/m romance. I was always cautious about doing this because it’s so important…to me…to combine the BDSM and the love in such a way that it moves the story forward. It wasn’t easy to do. And it’s one reason why I’ve never been fond of reading BDSM m/m romance. But I have always been curious about it. In this case, we’ll find out when the reviews start coming in.

I will be posting more about “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” as soon as I get closer to a publication date. Right now I’m working on information to send to the cover artist, and I honestly have no idea what to tell her.

Here’s the raw version of the blurb for “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street.”

Jonah Sweet has a secret need to be dominated and punished, with whips and chains and leather cuffs. He also has a graduate degree in puppetry from a good university, but can’t find a job and is still with his mom and dad in Queens. So he signs up for cooking school, hoping to learn a trade. But it’s nothing like he thought it would be and he winds up flunking everything from cutlery to hard-boiled eggs. The only other skill Jonah has is the ability to read other peoples’ thoughts, which he knows isn’t going to get him very far.

On the day of an important cooking exam, Jonah meets David Abernathy, the owner of the cooking school and a billionaire who owns restaurant chains, casinos, and real estate. The harder Jonah tries to impress David the worse it gets. But handsome David Abernathy sees something in Jonah. With no explanation at all, David sets Jonah up in an office, buys him a brand new wardrobe, and brings him into his unusual home on Delancey Street.

Though Jonah is stunned by all this, he’s even more stunned by the fact that he can’t read David Abernathy’s thoughts. But Jonah is in no position to turn any offers down. He takes the job in spite of David’s rude, nasty disposition and his erratic rants. From there they enter into an unusual relationship filled with bondage and discipline and more love than either one of them could ever have imagined.

When David introduces Jonah to a little boy in a wheel chair and explains his past, Jonah only falls deeper in love with David. He discovers a gentle side of David no one knows about. But will intense love and exotic sex be enough to compensate for David’s complicated personality and his vicious need to control everything? And will Jonah ever be able to put up with David’s public outbursts and his violent moods?

This Thing Called Fiverr Where You Can Pay For Book Reviews

I read about Fiverr in a few places and decided to check it out. It’s a web site where people advertise services, and are willing to do anything from take off their shirts and do video messages, to write book reviews for authors. And they are willing to do this for five bucks. Hence the name Fiverr. It’s even mentioned now at Urban Dictionary.

This guy will review your web site and offer his design opinions for five bucks. This young woman will dance around in a hula hoop and tell you whatever you want to hear for five bucks. And this guy will record a message video for you shirtless for a fiverr. Frankly, I’d be willing to find out what he’d do for a Ben Franklin, but I won’t go there in this post.

There are categories on Fiverr that range from Social Marketing to Writing to Travel. In the Social Marketing section, SHE’S willing to “create a video positively reviewing your site or business for $5.” She’s even willing to admit, in writing, “Reviews are all fabricated.”

In the Writing section, I saw a lot of ads where services are offered for editing and proofreading. One will translate from Dutch to English, another will translate from English to Bulgarian, and one will even make any football argument you want him to make…all for five bucks each. Some will write resumes and some will write articles on any topic you want. In the writing section, most of what I saw at a glance were harmless. I honestly didn’t see many willing to write fake book reviews, but I’m sure I would find them if I dug deeper. I would imagine if the young woman above is willing to fake a review for a business she’d be willing to do it for a book. And I’d bet the hula hoop girl would do the same…with her hula hoop.

Overall, it looks like a quirky web site, along the lines of a trimmed down Craigslist with a circus/sideshow appeal. Most of what I saw looked like fun and it wasn’t something I would take seriously. And I certainly wouldn’t hire anyone to write a review for anything I wrote or published, not on Fiverr or anywhere. Web sites like these, taken in the right context, can be wonderful. I love the flying trapeze. But used in the wrong way, they can be just as harmful.

I am curious about one thing. Though I’d never pay anyone to write a fake review for me, nor would I trust someone who would be willing to do this for me for any amount of money, I am thinking about contacting the cute little guy who is willing to say anything shirtless. I’m wondering if he’d be willing to read the first few pages of a book I recently had released without his shirt.

In any event, check out Fiverr and see what I’m talking about. Some of the ads are so interesting you can get lost there for hours.

Marine Pays Steep Price for Criticizing Obama on Facebook

In an incident that seems to have created an interesting controversy about freedom of speech on social media, in a time when so many feel so passionate about politics, Sgt. Gary Stein will not only lose all his military benefits, but will also receive an “other-than-honorary-discharge” from the service for posting something negative about the President on social media.

According to Huff Post politics, this is what Sgt. Stein posted on facebook:

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.” Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Stein also made this statement:

“I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn’t have gone this way. I’m having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career,” he told The Associated Press.

You can read more about it

Fred Karger’s LGBT Presidential Ad Pulled From Youtube

Late last night I read that Fred Karger’s promotional video on youtube had been taken down. You can read more about it here. For those who don’t know, Mr. Karger is the first openly gay man running for President of the United States. I’ve posted about him here many times. I don’t know the reasons why the video was removed. In this post, I’m only writing the facts posted from Mr. Karger’s facebook page.

This is interesting. The Karger video is posted here, with this statement: “Parental Advisory Explicit Content.” Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I viewed this more than once and I don’t see where this “Explicit Content” is. Evidently, two men kissing, just as two straight people kiss in public all the time, is considered “explicit?”

I’m wondering if the Karger ad was taken down because people aren’t allowed to do a “commercial” on youtube…in the sense that it’s considered advertising? But if that is the case, then I have to wonder why book trailers and other promotional things that run the along the thin line of advertising aren’t taken down, too. I don’t know anything for certain.

I do know that on most social media anything lgbt is targeted. And I’m not talking about anything sexually oriented. I’m talking about G-rated lgbt material: it could be as simple as two men holding hands. All it takes is a report or a complaint and anything can be taken down from social media without an explanation. It’s happened to me more than once, on my own social media profiles and on those I use with pen names. In each case, it wasn’t about the social media site discriminating against me, because everything was restored after I sent an appeal. It was more about a social media site not evaluating a situation before it takes something down…which also makes me wonder about who is actually in charge of these things on social media. Right now, I’m picturing the guy from the TV commercials, drinking beer, sitting in his sweat pants in a dowdy apartment somewhere in Silicon Valley.

I’ve seen the Fred Karger youtube video and I didn’t find anything offensive about it. Here’s a statement released by Mr. Karger last night:

Statement by Fred Karger on Removal of his “Sexy Frisbee” Commercial by YouTube:I was completely shocked tonight to find out that YouTube had taken down our new California commercial from its web site having deemed it “inappropriate.”…”Sexy Frisbee” had gone viral in less than a day with over 15,000 views since our press release went out late this morning. We had an incredible day of excitement, media coverage and comments.What is “inappropriate” about our 65 second commercial? It was shot at Venice Beach in Southern California with a dozen men and women having fun at the beach. It ended with friends Andrew and Michael (a couple who have been together 7 years) exchanging a quick kiss. Is that kiss what YouTube considers inappropriate? There are gay kisses on television every day and certainly lots on YouTube and other popular video sharing web sites. Today we will be taking the following steps to get our commercial back up on YouTube:We will launch an online petition to gather support to get “Sexy Frisbee” back up on YouTube.We will be writing to Google Co-founders (YouTube is owned by Google) Larry Page and Sergey Brin and ask them for an explanation and full investigation as to why YouTube decided to censor my free speech as a candidate for President of the United States.I will be trying to meet with Google’s lead lobbyist in Sacramento, Jonathan Ross with K P Public Affairs I will be in Sacramento on Wednesday to kick off my California campaign at a 2:00 pm Press Conference (on South steps of the State Capitol Building).

This morning it seems as if the video was added again. At least I think this is the video, but I’m not completely sure. You can view it here on youtube…I THINK.

Like I said, all it takes is one person to “report” something lgbt oriented to any social media site, and it’s taken down without an explanation. Most of the time it is restored, but that’s never an easy process. By the time you get the guy to read an appeal for something that’s been removed sometimes it’s not even worth the effort.

Calls for Submission: Gay Erotica

I’m posting this because it’s a public call for submissions over at Erotica Writers and Readers Association. I just submitted a short story and I’ve always liked working this this particular editor at Cleis Press, Shane Allison. I’ve been in his anthologies before and I’ve always been thrilled with the end results. One in particular was titled, “Backdraft.”

These anthologies are good places to build publishing credits for those who are starting out. And unless you’re going the self-publishing route, we all have to start out somewhere. I have over 90 published works out and I’m not too grand to submit to something like this. I still enjoy doing it now as much as I did fifteen years ago.

Here’s a link to the “Hot Pledges” call. And here’s another for an anthology about “Steam Baths.”

The Story Siren’s Second Apology

I’ve been following the conundrum of Kristi Diehm who publishes a small YA publishing blog called The Story Siren. In the midst of strong allegations with regard to plagiarism, Ms. Diehm issued an apology/explanation on her blog, here. And I just read what appears to be a clarification of that apology, here.

No comment from me. The “clarification”…or second apology…sounds sincere. If you notice, when I write blog posts I try not to begin a sentence with “I think,” or “I feel.” I try to stay away from hearsay as well.

I don’t know Kristi, but I wish her well.