Month: May 2012

Question From a Reader…

I’m lucky in the sense that I have a regular correspondence with a lot of my readers, especially because I write in a genre known for its discretion.

The fact that most readers don’t leave reviews or comments in public because they read erotica or erotic romance discreetly doesn’t always mean they don’t sometimes contact authors. I have a huge file set up just for e-mails readers have sent me over the years. And sometimes they ask the most interesting questions.

This one came earlier today. I would never disclose the name or identity of the reader because that would be about as unethical as it gets. But I asked if I could print the question in a blog post and the reader said it was fine.

What is the most unusual review you’ve ever had?

The most unusual review I’ve ever had was about my book prices. I once had a review on Amazon where a reader left one star, without buying or reading the book, and then left a comment in the review section complaining about the price of the book. If I recall correctly, the publisher was running a sale that week and the book was cheaper there than on Amazon. I know that sucks. But authors don’t have any control over how their books are priced…anywhere. It’s not like I can dictate to a publisher how my books should be priced. So I thought it was unusual that someone would leave a comment like that, either assuming I did have control over pricing, or not caring about the fact that I had no control over pricing. Either way, it had nothing to do with the book, the story, or the quality of the book.

There’s nothing wrong with an unusual review. I’m sure that one unusual review that’s going to really floor me has yet to even happen. And I’m sure there will be another after that as well. So I don’t mind unusual reviews in the least. While I don’t learn much from them because most don’t make sense, I’m not surprised when I see them. And because I plan to be around writing the same books I’ve been writing for the past twenty years for the next twenty years, I’m sure there are more unusual reviews on the way.

A good friend of mine once said this: career writers aren’t like hobby writers. Career writers don’t retire, they expire.

A Word of Advice for Authors…

Of course I can’t tell anyone what to do. And I’m not trying to do this in this post. I’m just stating what I do, and how I deal with my own personal accounts.

I’ve seen more than a few blog posts and articles about disgruntled authors going off the deep end and ranting about bad reviews. It seems to be happening more and more these days in all genres. And the only thing these rants really do is provide fodder for snarky, ambitious bloggers who will do anything to get more hits and comments.

But sometimes, as Lucy and Ethel as these bloggers are, they do have a point. Ranting diminishes all authors, it provides perverse entertainment, and it takes the fun out of reading and reviewing for readers. And I hate to see that happen to readers. I also do believe that most reviews are authentic, good or bad.

I know there is a certain amount of subterfuge in reviewing these days in all directions. It’s the way things are set up now. But that’s not what this post is about. There’s no viable way to stop the subterfuge, especially by ranting.

Authors need to be aware of ethics, like all professionals in every walk of life. The way I do it is to NOT have multiple accounts on goodreads or amazon, or anywhere else. I have one Amazon account I use for everything, with “Ryan Field.” I have one Goodreads account I use for everything, with “Ryan Field.”

This way when I leave a review or a rating it can be traced back to me and I have nothing to worry about. No one can accuse me of sockpuppeting or faking reviews, and it gives me peace of mind to know that I can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. My goal as an author is to write, not play games. I hope people will like what I write, but I also know I’m not going to be loved by everyone. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So think ethics, not emotion. Don’t sockpuppet or maintain multiple accounts anywhere. The next time you feel the urge to rant write an e-mail, send it to yourself, and read it the next day before you do anything in public. I can promise you that what you wrote in the e-mail the day before will be something you’ll be glad you kept to yourself.

This Hurts My Heart: TV Show "Girls"…Gay Guy Smacking the Woman Upside Her Head

I’m going to start a regular feature on the blog titled, “This Hurts My Heart.” Sometimes it will be parody, other times it will be real. In this post, I guess it’s a combination of both.

First, I’d like to state that I’m against any form of violence across the board. I find all violence deplorable.

With that said, there’s a new TV show out called, “Girls.” It’s an HBO original series and I would consider it a current version of “Sex in the City,” with new adult characters. There were a lot of things about SITC I didn’t like, especially the way gay men were treated like pet poodles. I can’t say this about “Girls.” I like most of what I see…but they still can’t seem to get it right with the gay guys.

The show airs on Sunday night. I DVR and watch during the week. So I finally found time late last night to catch the most recent episode. The plot of this particular episode revolved around the three girlfriends going to a party in Brooklyn (I’m not invested enough yet to know their names). At one point, one of the girls runs into a guy she knows and they wind up outside on some kind of a bridge or crosswalk between two buildings. At the end of their conversation, the girl picks up an empty bottle and tosses it over the rail.

Of course the girl thinks they are alone. But the bottle lands on a group of rough guys from Brooklyn who are standing below the crosswalk. This is the interesting part. The nice straight guy who is up on the crosswalk with the girl who dropped the bottle apologizes and tries to be nice about it. But the girl offers no apology whatsoever. In fact, she’s insulting, she’s obnoxious, and she basically laughs in their faces. Which only pisses the rough guys from Brooklyn off even more.

A few scenes later, the rough guys from Brooklyn catch up with the nice straight guy and snarky girl who were up on the crosswalk, at the party. This is even more interesting. Instead of doing or saying anything to the girl who caused all the trouble, the rough guys from Brooklyn go after the straight guy she was with…the same guy who apologized to them. He gets the shit kicked out of him, while she stands there watching and she caused all the trouble.

I’ll leave it at that, without comment.

Moving on to another scene that happens later, I see another one of the “girls” having a conversation with a gay guy she went to college with. She runs into him at the party and starts to unload a pile of emotional garbage on him and he’s not interested in listening to her. When he tells her this, she attacks him with some very offensive comments. One comment the girl makes is so offensive the gay guy looses control. He lifts his arm, smacks her upside the head, and does it without a hint of remorse. I haven’t seen anything like THIS since “Dynasty.”

Aside from the fact that I’m against violence, I found it interesting that the straight rough guys from Brooklyn would never hit a woman…not even if she deserved at least a good kick in the ass for dropping a bottle on their heads and laughing at them. And yet somehow it’s okay for the gay guy to smack a woman in the face for making a nasty comment about the way he speaks. There’s something wrong with this picture on more than one level.

In one respect, I do think the writers of the show broke the double standard when it comes to violence in a general sense, and I think that’s what they were trying to do. I’m thinking they were making a social comment in general. It’s okay to hit a straight man, nothing wrong with that, even if he didn’t do anything. But don’t dare let a straight man hit a woman, even if she’s wrong. Of course all violence is wrong, but you get the picture.

In another respect, they got it all wrong with the gay guy by using him as an example. They diminished gay men in a very clever way that most people might not notice. By allowing him to smack the woman in the face they made him less masculine than the rough guys from Brooklyn and promoted the age old stereotype that the gay man is one of the girls. But more than that, they turned the gay guy into a bad stereotype of a woman, which made it twice as offensive to both women and gay men.

Oh, it’s entertaining. Let that prissy gay guy smack the dumb bitch. People will love it and we’ll get higher ratings. But this sort of thing diminishes women, gay men, and makes straight men look like cave men. I do know…and understand…that on certain levels things like this can and do happen in real life. There are gay men who would smack women and it wouldn’t be considered abusive in the same way it would if a straight man smacked a woman. But that doesn’t really make it any less offensive (or abusive) to the gay men who wouldn’t do something like this…to anyone.

The basic moral of this post is that all violence is wrong. But the gist of the post is that it’s just as wrong to turn gay men into bad stereotypes in order to make a point, and I’m getting tired of it. That scene where the gay guy smacked the woman in the face could have been written differently and they still could have made their point without insulting both gay men and women. Or for that matter, the previous scene with the straight rough guys from Brooklyn could have been handled much better. Instead of kicking the shit out of the straight guy who did nothing to deserve it, they could have poured a couple of bottles of beer over the straight girl’s head and it would have been even funnier, and without physical violence. And all the straight guys watching the show would have enjoyed that scene a lot more than what actually did happen.

No "Hunger Games" Knock Off for Lev Raphael

When I received an e-mail notification for the article to which I’m linking below, I found it coincidental because I’d just written a post like it early this morning, here, titled “There’s Only One “Fifty Shades of Grey,” One “Peyton Place,” and One “Brokeback Mountain.”

This excerpt is only part of what Lev Raphael has to say on the topic of authors trying to repeat the success of books like “Hunger Games” and “Fifty Shades of Grey”:

I also don’t agree with people like blogger Jeff Goins who encourage young writers to imitate The Hunger Games — which I enjoyed as an airplane read — because it’s “the future of writing.” How can anyone be sure what people will be reading even next year? And why should people attempt work in a genre if that’s not where their natural talent lies?

Passion is a key ingredient for any book. Now, you may be passionate about copying a current success so that you can be translated into two dozen languages and sell millions of books. But is that hunger as deep as writing what you really want to, writing from your heart, writing a story you feel nobody else in the world can tell but you? If it is, good luck!

Take the time to read more here. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m glad I read it because it supports what I said this morning, which doesn’t happen often. Evidently, I’m not the only one who is annoyed at all the bad advice going around these days.

Another Amazon Critic…Joe Wikert

I’m linking to this article because it discusses advertising, e-books, Amazon, and book prices.

But that isn’t all it does.

It also insults self-published authors and small presses.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I believe we’ll see ebooks on Amazon at fire-sale prices. I’m not just talking about self-published titles or books nobody wants. I’ll bet this happens with some bestsellers and midlist titles.

I don’t want to sound like Joe Konrath in this post, but I can see why he gets so pissed off. Seriously, this is major condescension. And it’s getting tired now.

And, I’d like to know what’s so bad about e-books being sold at lower prices, in volume, and creating more competition to get better books out for readers who have budgets and love to read e-books.

Evidently, the all so knowledgeable Joe Wikert never read a paperback novel back in the day. Publishers advertised in these paperbacks all the time and no one ever said anything about it. This isn’t something new. They may still do this, but I haven’t read a print book of any kind in so long I’m not sure.

A publisher that I work with advertises other authors and books on their list on my Amazon pages right below the product information for many of my books. I don’t mind. Have a blast. Most of the time no one pays attention to those ads anyway. And frankly, I never read or purchased a book I’d seen advertised in the back of a paperback for that matter. I don’t really think that kind of advertising works at all, in e-books or print books. But that’s another post.

Joe even bashes the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, without explaining anything about it. He offhandedly makes it sound as if people are getting free e-books.

What Joe doesn’t mention is that people like me have coupons for e-books on Kobo, and yet all the e-books I’d like to buy with those coupons don’t count with big publishers. You know, the big publishers who are charging the outrageous prices of 12.99 and more for e-books. Yet they refuse to let readers take advantage of deals. But Joe never mentions this anywhere in the article. At one point, I almost started to cry for the big publishers.

I can’t help thinking that Joe isn’t getting the full concept of what’s been happening in publishing, and how e-books have changed the entire landscape of reading in a general sense. In any event, it’s an interesting piece for the sake of argument, especially the part about the DOJ. And Joe could be right for all I know. But so far, like them or not, Amazon has been on top of their game and they have been geared toward the reader and the author, not the publisher. And there are people out there who don’t like that.

There’s Only One "Fifty Shades of Grey," One "Peyton Place," And One "Brokeback Mountain," Folks

First, this isn’t about my personal feelings for FSoG…or any of the books mentioned in the title. It isn’t even really about FSoG in a general sense. I’ve already posted that I liked the book…and I read it before it went mainstream. You can do a search if you don’t trust me because I’m too lazy right now to link to those posts.

What I’m talking about in this post is oriented more toward facts about big books than my own personal feelings. I have seen more than a few articles and posts within the publishing community about FSoG. I’ve seen blog posts, I’ve seen calls for authors asking them to write books like FSoG, I’ve seen workshops for FSoG advertised on social media, and I’ve seen a slew of comments about how much FSoG is going to do for the erotic BDSM market. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many jump onto that proverbial bandwagon, all hoping they have the next FSoG.

What I haven’t seen is a look back at other big books like FSoG. First, FSoG was tame by my standards, so it makes perfect sense to me that a book like this would crossover to the mainstream. The fact that they called it “Mommy Porn,” speaks loudly enough. It’s not what I would consider strong erotica, or any kind of porn. So the “Mommy Porn” angle is merely a tongue-in-cheek play on words not meant to be taken seriously. The one thing I could be wrong about is the level of erotic heat necessary to be considered porn…in the mainstream. Maybe my standards of erotica are too strong? As I’ve stated, I haven’t read many BDSM books like FSoG, and the only reason I did read it was because I saw a review for it that sparked my interest weeks before it went mainstream.

After reading so many opinions about FSoG, I can’t help thinking about books from the past that have jumped unexpectedly into the mainstream, with all the hype and promise that FSoG has had so far. If you go way back, way before my time, “Peyton Place,” was one of those books. For its time period, PP had all the elements that FSoG has today. And yet as far as I know there was only one book like PP ever published with that kind of phenomenal success. I’m sure there were other books published like PP after it became so popular, but none ever reached the pinnacle of PP. Even the author of PP, Grace Metalious, never reached that level of success again.

A more recent example could be “Brokeback Mountain.” When BM became a huge mainstream hit, everyone and his/her brother/sister started writing books/stories that would compete with it, hoping they would become just as big. Don’t quote me on this, but I’ve heard that BM, through fanfic, led into the m/m romance genre. And BM didn’t even have a happy ending, which is interesting in itself with respect to m/m romance. I wasn’t paying much attention to BM at the time. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as fanfic. I was writing gay fiction as I had been doing for years, while interviewing gay bloggers as a staff member for, never even realizing that BM would inspire so many.

But since then there has been only one BM, even though millions have tried to duplicate its success with other original books…just like PP. The good thing is that indirectly BM did open up avenues for authors of m/m romance. I was thrilled to see it did that. It opened up avenues for all writers of gay fiction. I do think that FSoG will also open up doors for authors who write light BDSM books as well. But I’m not banking on another FSoG breaking into the mainstream any time soon, at least not with the same kind of success FSoG has seen. And when I see things that imply there will be more big books like FSoG, I hesitate to take them seriously.

If there is another big book like FSoG I’ll be shocked. I could list other books that have become popular like FSoG, PP, and BM (Twilight?), but the main point is that some things just can’t be duplicated no matter how hard we try. Sometimes there is no explanation no matter how deeply we analyze it. History does repeat itself. And there will be another big book that has the success of FSoG, just like there was PP and BM. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict what type of book that big book will be. Everyone seemed to think it might be zombies for a while. I haven’t seen that happen yet.

Facebook Shares Drop…

The main reason I’m following all the attention facebook is getting is because I’m fascinated at what will be the outcome of social media. I think the final outcome of facebook will set a precedent. So far there are too many predictions and there’s not enough evidence. I have my own opinions, but I’m not going to share.

Let’s just say I’m not investing any of my own money in facebook stock right now (well, maybe just a little, because I couldn’t resist).

What worries me is I remember the late 90’s – early 2000’s, when all the Internet stocks that were supposed to bust wide open all tanked. I know too many people who lost too much money back then. It changed their lives to the point where some were never able to recover. Trust me, I knew more than a few who were going to become instant millionaires with their “dot coms.” The problem was they didn’t know what the hell they were doing.

What bothers me is that I have this feeling a lot of people don’t know…or understand…the magnitude of facebook and social media. All they know is what they read, hear, and see from the mainstream media…which is lame at best. I didn’t put up that old man in the photo above by accident. And I didn’t mean it as a slur to facebook.

Here’s an article from CNET about the latest happenings with facebook.

Facebook’s shareholders can’t catch a break.

The company’s stock today is trading down to $29.44, shedding $2.46, or about 8 percent, of its market-opening price. The decline comes the same day trading on Facebook was opened to the options market. According to Dow Jones, about 162,000 Facebook options were traded by 9 a.m. PT this morning.

Facebook’s continuing decline has struck fear among investors, who wonder how low the company’s shares might fall. Facebook went off earlier this month at $38, only to watch its stock plummet in subsequent days. At its current price, Facebook shares are down more than 23 percent since the IPO.

It’s worth reading the entire article, in full. There are some very interesting links.

Update on Post about Reviewing a Book Without Reading It…

Journalist Linda Ellerbee used to end her segments with, “And so it goes…”

That’s often how I feel when I see things happening that are more than questionable these days…like conflict of interest with reviewers? Trust me on this, if you dig deep enough you’re always going to find a skeleton. Typcially, it’s the loudest voices with the most to hide.

But sometimes I see things that stun me. Last week I posted about someone who left a review for a book he/she hadn’t read.

And this week six people have replied to that review.

At least there’s still sanity left in the world. Kudos to those who did take the time to leave their comments.

Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street, Light BDSM, and a Mom and Dad Dealing with Grief

Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street isn’t like anything I’ve written in the past. First, because the erotic subplot gets into light BDSM. I’ve talked about how I’ve never written BDSM before on this blog, and I’ve also talked about the fact that I’m curious about how it’s written. For a long time, I always thought of BDSM books as having highly erotic covers, with dark images clad in leather and chains. I also thought of the storylines as being more intense, in the sense that everything revolved about the sexual nature of the story.

In this case, that’s not what JSoDS is about. The BDSM is erotic, but I get into more about role-playing than any of the hardcore BDSM. According to wiki, this is how BDSM is defined. Jonah is a virgin when he meets David, so I didn’t want to get into anything that might be too deep for him. I also talked to a few people I know who are into BDSM in order to get first hand interpretations of what they consider BDSM. Two guys I know have a secret “playroom” in their basement that was designed and fitted by a well known construction company in my area who does these things, on the downlow, for people who are willing to pay enough to have them installed. In any event, I discovered a whole new world that left stunned more than once.

So while there is light BDSM in this book, and the main plot revolves around the love and the often complicated relationship between the two main characters, Jonah Sweet and David Abernathy, I wanted to add something more emotional. Something that most readers could relate to…a subplot that would humanize David and make people like him. He’s not an easy man. He’s a self-made billionaire who tends to treat people like dirt. He’s not only a master in his world of BDSM, but also in the business world and every other aspect of his life. In fact he welcomes confrontation so much he looks forward to firing people. There’s a reason for his behavior, which I can’t mention because it would spoil the book.

There’s also a secret about David’s past that not many people know about. It’s something that happened to him a few years before we meet him in the book. It takes a while for Jonah Sweet to actually find out what this is. But when he discovers this secret involves a little boy in a wheel chair and a mom and dad who can’t stop grieving, he sees David Abernathy in a different light. And this moves their relationship forward in a way Jonah never expected.

Here’s a version of the blurb, below. I wanted the book to have the BDSM elements, but I also wanted it to be a lighter book that isn’t the run of the mill BDSM story. And I wanted the two main characters who get into BDSM to be equals when they aren’t having sex, where no one is dominant or submissive. In other words, Jonah may be willing to get tied up and spanked in David’s state of the art “playroom” on Delancey Street in New York City. But he’s not willing to be tied up, so to speak, when he’s out in the real world with David. And it takes David a long time to realize that if he wants Jonah to stick around, he has to learn how to stop controlling everyone and everything.

The book will be available through the Amazon KDP program sometime in June. As soon as I know the release date, I’ll post about it. It’s a full length novel, and will be offered for .99, as I did with “Chase of a Lifetime.” And it’s still a very humble venture and I’m still learning more about self-publishing as I go. I’d also like to add, just for the record, I had many reasons for self-publishing my fiction this past year. The least of which had to do with being bitter about traditional publishing. I still love working with publishers and I have nothing negative to say about them. I think agents are invaluable, if you can find the right one. I just like having the control sometimes, and that’s as simple as I can explain it.

The photo above is just a stock photo I found and will not be the cover for the book. But the one thing I’m telling the cover artist is that I don’t want the typical BDSM book cover with dark images and people in leather and chains. And the LAST thing I want is a cover with a naked male torso.

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 people’s 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 light 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?

Things All Guys Find Sexy…Gay or Straight

When I read the article to which I’m linking right now, my first thought was that this kind of thing could set feminism back three decades.

But, after I’d finished reading it occurred to me that each one of the 9 things listed that straight guys find attractive could be used for gay men as well. When I thought back to when I was single and dating, these are a lot of the things I was looking for in a partner.

Voice, walk, and sharp wit are big on my list of attractive features in a guy. And dancing is important, too, because there’s nothing that turns me off more than someone who thinks he can dance and can’t. That ridiculous bouncing around to music without any rhythm or skill will lose me all the time. If I’d seen Tony do that in the night club where I met him twenty years ago, I’d still be single today.

I love an adventurous spirit, but I also like a little shyness as well. Nothing ever turned me off more than a guy who was too pushy too soon. Aggressive is good. Strong is good. But don’t push me unless you know what’s good for you, especially in the beginning. Though I’m not sure about smell (that’s the one thing on the list that is a little dumb…to me), laugh is important to me. In fact, the sound of someone’s voice can either be a huge turn on or turn off. I have an ex-sister-in-law with a voice like a broken chain saw. How my poor brother lived with THAT for sixteen years will always pass me by.

And, communication is probably the most important factor. If you’re in a relationship with someone you’d better be able to communicate with them well. Because when the newness of the sex wears off, and it always does, you’re going to need something more to keep you from losing your mind.

I’m so glad I don’t have to do this anymore. Being in a twenty year relationship that’s like a marriage in every sense of the word makes me realize how lucky I am to have found not only my own HEA, but also the perfect life partner. But for those of you who are still single, I think these things listed in the article can be important when you first meet someone. And in this case, gay men aren’t that much different from straight men.