Month: August 2012

Are We Ending the Age of Internet Anonymity?



If we are ending the age of Internet anonymity a lot of things will probably change. But some things will remain the same. From what I gather in the links below, the purpose of ending Internet anonymity is more about creating laws to protect people on the web just like there are laws to protect people in all aspects of society. Think about it. I know we complain about motor vehicles, but would you really want to live in a society where no one had to have a driver’s license, insurance, and registration? Though most of us would continue to be safe responsible drivers, there’s still that devious segment of the population that would take advantage and put the rest of us in danger.

I don’t think most people abuse Internet anonymity. But for that small devious segment of anons who do abuse Internet anonymity lawmakers are now fighting for protection. I don’t know how this will work with authors who have pen names. But I would assume that authors who have pen names and are not abusing them on the Internet, nothing much will change for them. The reason these laws are going to pop up eventually is to protect people from Internet crime, most of which seems to stem from Internet anonymity.

I could list blogs in the publishing community where devious Internet anonymity runs rampant. Some of these anonymous people have multiple anonymous identities and they spend a good part of their lives terrorizing innocent people who have no other recourse than to just sit back and take it. And it’s not just in publishing. I’ve heard politicians claim they’ve been abused by Internet anonymity and I’m sure that’s why the new laws are being pushed. I’ve also posted about many businesses that have suffered bad reviews left by their competitors thanks to the lawless Internet and anonymity. And these things affect businesses and livelihoods.

Sometimes it’s so bad that some of us get paranoid about Internet anonymity. I recently blocked someone for this reason just based on simple facts. I saw multiple identities, I saw classic Internet bully tactics, and I saw all past information about this person disappear from the Internet for unexplained reasons. For me it’s an automatic red flag. I lose patience and I don’t want that filtering into my life.

In any event, I do think we’re entering into a new age of the Internet. I’m not sure I like every aspect of it, but I don’t see how else things can change unless laws are put into place to protect innocent people from Internet criminals. So far the honor system we’ve been seeing on the Internet isn’t working.

Internet Protection Act Would Eliminate Anonymous Online Comments In New York

A new bill in Albany has its sights set on anonymous Internet trolls. The Internet Protection Act would require sites to have online commenters identify themselves.

The Act, sponsored by Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) and Senator Thomas O’Mara (R-Big Flats), would require New York-based websites to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

It’s happening in the UK, too.

The unmasking of Internet trolls: New laws will make websites responsible for vile messages unless they reveal identities of bullies

Cowardly Internet ‘trolls’ who post vile abuse on Facebook and Twitter will be identified to their victims under laws unveiled today.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to strip away the cloak of anonymity which shields website users who peddle lies and vicious smears.

Internet companies will be expected to agree to rules over how to deal with libellous comments posted on their sites.

Defamation – new law may put an end to online anonymity

It is often said that the Internet is a ‘law-free zone’ where users can say or do as they please. This may be about to change. New legislation is being put forward by the government that may bring the era of online anonymity to an end.

The changes are contained in clause five of the defamation bill, which was published several weeks ago and is currently on its way through the House of Commons.

The issue has gained prominence in the wake of several cases of online harassment, most notably a case where a Brighton woman, Nicola Brookes, obtained a judgment against Facebook, forcing it to reveal the identities of ‘vicious Internet trolls’ who posted abuse about her online.

So it’s clear things are changing and I’ll be watching to see if these laws are implemented. If you notice, I don’t post any photos anymore unless I know it’s legal to do it. Although I’ve always encouraged anonymous comments on this blog because I know people tend to be discreet with regard to erotic romance, I’ve also had to police more than a few comments I considered too vicious to post in public. If these laws don’t happen soon, I’m sure they will happen eventually. Like I said earlier, I’m not sure I’m thrilled about them yet. But I have experienced several defamatory cases personally because of Internet anonymity and I haven’t been thrilled about it. At this point, there’s nothing I can do about it. If there are laws, I will pursue the real identities of the people who tried to defame me in public, openly and with my own name and identity.

Photo from Morguefile.com.

A NOTE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER (Kenn W. Kiser/aka click): The photos on this Web site (including mine) are not part of the Public Domain. Each photographer maintains full copyrights to their individual photos and grants usage so long as you obied by the Terms posted on this Web site. If you use my photo(s) and have a moment, I’d love to hear which ones and how they were used. Just curious. kennkiser@yahoo.com – Thanks! 😉

50 Shades of Gay: Beekman Boys on Amazing Race; Drag Queen Barbie…

I often talk about the stereotypes and how the mainsream media seems to always focus on certain aspects of the gay community and misses other aspects completely.

But the fact remains that the gay community is filled with diversity on all levels. And some of the stereotypes that are put out in the mainstream are true and they shouldn’t be diminished either. So while I do wish that we saw more shades of gay, so to speak, in the mainstream, I also think it’s important to celebrate some of the stereotypes as well.

Beekman Boys On Amazing Race This Fall:

FABULOUS + AMAZING = FABUMAZING!

The Fabulous Beekman Boys will be competing on this fall’s season of The Amazing Race on CBS.

This information came from an e-mail announcement and there’s no link. But I think that’s about as bad as it gets with regard to stereotypes. Fabumazing? In any event, I enjoy what the Josh and Brent do. And we all know, “Farmin Ain’t Easy.”

Drag Queen Barbie:

Styled with glamorous Marilyn makeup in a barely-there, platinum mini-dress—the showstopper part of which is a bejeweled, corseted bodice—and draped with a floor-length white fur, the Blond Diamond Barbie is designed by New York City fashion duo the Blonds. BarbieCollector.com, which sells the doll, calls it “pretty, provocative, and magical.” A slew of major media outlets—among them TIME, ABC News, Entertainment Weekly—and countless smaller blogs call it “Drag Queen Barbie.” That title is not exactly accurate, but the doll is progressive—albeit controversial.

You can read more about drag queen Barbie here. Again, another stereotype that is a big part of the gay community and always has been.

Mary Cheney, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Daughter:

When you think of a gay marriage, you probably imagine a lot of things. However, one thing we‘re almost certain you don’t expect is for Dick Cheney to be in attendance as the father of the bride. Or, in this case, one of two brides. Yet just recently, he has been just that.

You can read more here. And, this is about as far from the stereotype as it gets. Republican Veep, Dick Cheney, has a gay daughter? And she got married? What on earth could possibly happen next?

This Is a Huge Part of Gay America:

Notice how I left it blank. That’s because there are still millions of gay men and women who still aren’t “out” because they can’t come out. They fear losing their jobs, they fear losing their families, and they fear being shunned from their religions. In fact, I would go as far as saying they make up the majority of the gay community and don’t even know it.

Erotic Romance Takes a Hit Again: So Let’s Spin it Around This Time

I came across an interesting blog post written by a web site called “The Bookpushers,” where they seem to find excerpts from erotic romances hysterical in that internet-y snarky way that’s filled with cute-isms like “WTF-ery” and referring to a penis as a “peen.”

Ah well, funny-funny…ha-ha. I’m slapping my knee and twirling my finger.

Just to make it clear: I don’t think they’ve ever reviewed any of my books, so I’m not directing anything in this post to anything they’ve said about me. What I’m talking about here in this post is how we all look at erotic romance in different ways. And how bloggers can put a spin on something. Personally, referring to a penis as a “peen” makes me want to fucking gag. But more than that, a cute-ism like “WTF-ery” is one of those things that should be done once, and only once. Otherwise it looses its snark and turns into bad Internet jargon.

When I read the post titled The Strange and Wonderful World of Eroticacock I didn’t find anything that would make me shudder and cross my legs in the excerpts they were laughing at. Used in the wrong context, as these excerpts are being used in that post, they are funny. But I could take any phrase or excerpt from any non-erotic romance novel that has a cover with a woman in a long flowing gown and do exactly the same thing they are doing over there with erotic romance.

And just to show you it can be done, I’m going to do it right here. I’ll give you a few examples of how bloggers can spin things around to suit their own needs. I won’t mention names or titles because this isn’t about any specific author or book. I’m going to show direct quotes from non-erotic romances on Amazon from books with covers that have women in long flowing gowns. As they would say over at The Bookpushers blog…”ICK!”

Here’s a real treasure:

She musn’t look up at him in betraying consternation.

What in the world is that supposed to mean? Talk about shudder and cross my legs. When I read a sentence like that I’m not only ready to gag, I’m ready to heave what I’ve eaten for the last three days. Seriously! That’s a sentence? Who the fuck uses words like “musn’t?” And don’t even ask me about “betraying consternation.” Sounds like this chick needs a little prune juice to help out with all that consternation.

And here’s a real gem, taken from the same romance novel:

Just looking at the man gave her gooseflesh. She’d appeared before him once. Even thinking of the questions he’d asked, the way his eyes had pierced her, made the skin on the back of her neck prickle.

Timid little bird, isn’t she. If all it takes is just one look at the dude to give her gooseflesh then she’s got more problems than we are being lead to believe. Sounds a little like social anxiety disorder to me. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a man and I got gooseflesh. Such drama! You’d think she’d seen a burping penis.

And, just for the record, I have yet to meet anyone that pierced me with his eyes and made the skin on the back of my neck “prickle.” In fact, I would go as far as saying that I’ve never actually felt my skin “prickle.” I don’t even think I’ve used the word “prickle” more than once in my life. On occassion my skin has become overly sensitive…especially that time I was stung by a bee and broke out in hives. I’ve felt rushes and sensations from time to time when I’ve had bouts with consternation. But I don’t remember actually ever experiencing a PRICKLE.

Just for fun, we’ll do one more:

A woman in the crowd let out a harsh bark of laughter at that, and the mayor hid a smile behind his sleeve.

Let’s begin with this barking woman, ruff ruff. It’s evident she’s being entertained in some way. But it must be pretty damn funny if she’s reached the point of barking. I don’t know many people who bark when they laugh. I’m sure there are some, but it’s not something I’d ever put in a novel. As far as I know, people don’t bark…unless they are severely consternated…oh, sorry…they don’t bark then, they grunt.

I’m guessing that the mayor didn’t actually have a smile behind his sleeve. But it would be interesting if he did. Imagine the possibilities. It could be a tattoo of a great big grin on his forearm. Or better yet, maybe he’s bored and he’s drawing smiley faces on his arm. I’m sure the romance author meant the mayor lifted his arm to his lips and smiled. But even that doesn’t make sense. I’m doing it right now. I’m lifting my arm to my face and I’m smiling. It’s an awkward gesture at best, and personally I wouldn’t allow any small children to sit on a man’s lap who does something like THIS.

I’m finished for now. But I could go on. My point in this post is not to make fun of the romances that have covers with women in long flowing gowns. People enjoy reading them and that’s all that matters. My issue in this post is to show that anyone can take anything and spin it around to suit their needs. I just did it. In the case of The Bookpushers they decided to take excerpts from erotic romances and spin them around to suit their needs. And they did it in a very clever way, too.

But I never see anyone spin things around in the opposite direction. And it can be done and it can be just as funny with non-erotic romance. I’ve just proven that I can take any passage from any non-erotic romance and make fun of it in the same snarky, internet-y way they can do it with sex scenes in erotic romance. And I didn’t use the word “peen” once.

I also truly hope I didn’t offend anyone with this post any more than people who read and write erotic romance are offended by posts like the one I read on The Bookpushers. But if I did, you “musn’t” worry, and please don’t get “consternated” over it. We all have different taste and what makes one shudder and cross her legs makes another smile behind his sleeve.

ETA: The above excerpts were *literally* taken, verbatim, from a book written by a bestselling romance author who never seems to get bad reviews from any of the web sites that seem to love bashing erotic romance authors (smile).

Republican Platform: Gay Marriage

I rarely get political here. I vote as an independent and never strictly down party lines.

But when the Republican party makes this kind of an announcement, they don’t really leave me much of a choice this November.

MARRIAGE:

The platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

According to the article, this is a key part of the Republican platform. I found it on Fox, so it’s not left wing spin. It’s interesting to be gay, in a relationship with someone for twenty years, and read something like this in black and white.

And speaking of black and white, I think I know how mixed raced couples felt not more than fifty years ago when marriage was defined in some places as a union between one white man and one white woman.

It’s even more interesting because Tony and I have nieces and nephews who are products of marriages between one man and one woman…one other man and one other woman…and in some cases one more man and one more woman. In other words, we lasted all these years and we can’t legally get married. Our family members have been married and divorced several times. I have one set of nieces and nephews with more grandparents than they know what to do with.

So maybe they should change the platform to read marriage is the union between one man and one woman until the one man or one woman decide it’s time for marriage to be between one man and another woman, or one woman and another man. As things stand now with so many younger straight couples terrified to get married because they came from broken homes, and so many middle aged straight couples getting divorced, that would make far more sense to me.

But I do take pride in knowing that my nieces and nephews from broken homes, who have suffered the damages and trauma of divorce, have seen at least one solid relationship last that might help set an example for them in the future…even if the Republican platform refuses to recognize Tony and me legally.

This blog is not a democracy. Comments that don’t agree with me will not be published.

Not All Self-Published Authors Pay For Their Book Reviews…

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles by some rather loud mouthed bloggers about self-published authors paying for book reviews. Most of these articles have been sparked by this NYT article, where it states that self-published authors are paying huge sums of money for book reviews.

Before I get into this, I’ll state up front the majority of my fiction has been published through traditional publishers. In the last five years, a lot of my fiction has been published by e-presses like Ravenous Romance, who also own Hollan Publishing. Up until last spring, I’d always worked with a publisher. But this past year I self-published three novels through the Amazon’s KDP program. I did this alone, without the help of a literary agent’s e-publishing service. And I have never once paid for a book review, and won’t start now. In fact I rarely solicit book reviewers for reviews. Ask them if you don’t believe me. I like getting book reviews the old fashioned way: from my readers.

I have heard cases where more than a few authors are now paying for book reviews. I’m not disputing this fact in this post. But I’m wondering if they are all self-published authors. Couldn’t there be a few trad published authors doing the same thing? Heaven forbid! Doesn’t Kirkus charge something like $575.00 for book reviews? I know for a fact traditionally published authors are paying for reviews and no one seems to think there’s anything wrong with this.

In this post from The Digital Reader it sounds like ALL self-published authors are paying to get reviews.

If you’re a self-published author who is still struggling to get noticed, now might be the time to swallow the rest of your pride, jettison your code of ethics, and start buying reviews. (Hey, everyone is doing it.)

The gist of this post on The Digital Reader isn’t bad. I agree with it. But the part about “swallow the rest of your pride,” pisses me off royally. Though I’ve never paid for a review…or even solicited a review for my self-pubbed books…I’ve taken great pride in my self-published works on Amazon and I resent the fact some blogger is insinuating I should have less pride because I self-published. Maybe I’m misreading this comment, but I’m not swallowing anything other than the self-satisfaction I received from writing three full length novels and publishing them on my own, without a literary agent’s e-publishing service, from concept to final product. And if I am misreading this comment it was either worded this way on purpose to be misread, or it’s just poorly written to begin with. Either way, I don’t appreciate it.

Self-published authors are getting a bad rap these days, and for good reasons. In this article the entire Amazon self-publishing program is questioned:

If you were trying to discredit Amazon’s new self-publishing model aimed at eliminating conventional publishers as obsolete “gatekeepers,” relying instead on crowdsourced reviews, what would you do?

I’m not disagreeing with anything in this article. But once again the attack is on self-published authors and I don’t find this to be completely true. I’ve seen authors with publishers and agents who are desperate to get their names out there do similar things more than once. So this concept that ALL self-published authors are doing things like paying for great reviews is not only a misconception, it’s insulting to those self-published authors like me who are NOT doing these things to get attention.

I completely agree with this, in the same article I linked to above:

Policing reviews could take time and alienate some customers, both self-published authors and reviewers, but to let reviews continue unregulated might alienate far more of them. Mr. Rutherford may unintentionally turn out to be a more powerful advocate of the despised gatekeepers and their authors than even Senator Schumer.

But once again, where are they getting this information that it’s all self-published authors? There are just as many struggling new authors with traditional publishers and agents out there who are willing to do anything humanly possible to sell their books. These people are ruthless in their quest. I know for a fact that one traditionally pubbed author’s agent told him not to bother paying for a Kirkus review because it wouldn’t help sell his book and the author went ahead and did it anyway.

In this post by The Indie Reader someone else is saying the same thing I’m saying right now:

The other point that gets lost in “The Best Book Reviews” piece is that paying for book reviews is not just the pervue of indie authors. Professional reviews for all published books—whether trad or indie—are, directly or indirectly, paid for.

In other words, it’s not just self-pubbed authors…a lot of THEM are doing it and all self-pubbed authors are taking the hits even if they never paid for a review in their lives. Hell, most self-pubbed authors don’t have the money to pay for a fucking review in the first place. And yet their books are still selling better than a lot of trad pubbed books nowadays. So go figure!

This comment on The Indie Reader’s blog post from Sue Grafton blew me away:

As bestselling trad pubbed author Sue Grafton recently said, “Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work” and “…it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research.”

Assuming this quote is accurate, Sue Grafton doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m trad pubbed and self-pubbed and I can tell you all one thing for certain: nothing…NOTHING…is harder than self-pubbing a book on your own. It’s the reason why I just signed to do ten more novels with ravenous romance this month. I found that self-pubbing was so intense it was taking time away from writing. And this Sue Grafton really needs to get out more before she makes comments like that, seriously. But more important, I would LOVE to see Sue Grafton figure out the language of HTML and try formatting a book on her own. It would make me smile.

The point of this post is to show readers and consumers that not all self-published authors are paying for reviews and clawing their way through the Amazon ranks by doing anything they can to get attention. For most of us self-publishing is a humble experience. In my case, I am ten times more connected to my self-published books than I am to my trad pubbed books. And that’s because I put more time, energy, and work into the self-pubbed books. And I don’t know one single self-pubbed author who would not agree with me on this.

I’ve posted about many authors who have been trad pubbed and self-pubbed on this blog. I’ll continue to do so. But I’ve also made it clear that readers have to vet their books and compare reviews nowadays before making a purchase. Because it’s not just self-pubbed authors out to scam you with paid reviews.

"Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey"


Before I get into Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey I’m linking to an article that talks about future film plans for FSoG, here.

Best selling author E L James has finally broke her silence on whether “Fifty Shades of Grey” will remain a trilogy on the big screen. The film rights were purchased in March by Universal Pictures yet there was no discussion on how many films would be made. Although there has been no official announcement, E L James has taken to her favorite social media outlet, Twitter, to answer the question. On August 25 a fan asked James, “is the film going to be a combination of all books wrapped up?” Within minutes the author responded by stating, “three films hopefully :).” This is exciting news to fans who have been wondering for months how the novels would be depicted on film.

The article goes on to talk about who might be cast in the lead roles…none of which are Matt Bomer, unfortunately.

There’s also a non-fiction book coming out this fall titled Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. You can check it out here on Amazon. I participated in the book with an essay about my thoughts and feelings about FSoG, and went into detail about my reading experience, how I found FSoG on a review site, and how it actually inspired me to write my own BDSM novel, Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. I’d like to emphasize that Jonah Sweet is not a parody of FSoG and does not even come near the storyline. In fact, in my book, after reading what so many loved and hated about FSoG in reviews, and then weighing them and examining the reasons why some either love it or hated it, I decided to write a BDSM novel that was NOT like FSoG.

But when asked if I was interested in contributing to Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, I couldn’t wait to get started. It wasn’t easy to keep it short. I could have written a chapter if there’d been room. What I found most interesting about FSoG was that the people who seemed to dislike it were very into the BDSM lifestyle and almost felt insulted at the way BDSM was handled in FSoG. I’ll admit that I didn’t get that at first. Now I do get it.

On the other hand, the mainstream…people who know nothing about BDSM but are curious about it, including me…embraced the book in ways no one ever expected. And these mainstream readers gave FSoG great reviews. I NEVER talk about my own reviews here. But I think I can say this without offending anyone. I had one review for Chase of a Lifetime a few months ago where the author of the review talked about what she hated in my book and what she loved in Fifty Shades of Grey. Being that Chase of a Lifetime and Fifty Shades of Grey are nowhere even close to being identical books…not in any way, shape or form…I found that interesting. There isn’t even BDSM in COAL. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that Fifty Shades of Grey and Chase of a Lifetime are completely different books all the way around.

And yet a reader went out of his/her way to compare my book to FSoG. I’m sorry the reader didn’t like my book. And there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s happened before and it will happen again and I’ll live. But that was one negative review that I did learn from. It gave some good solid information that helped inspire my essay in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. I also think the reader may have been tempted to read one of my books because of Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t be sure about that. But I’ve heard other authors of erotic Romance say this is true.

I think this is important to add. I wrote my essay for Fifty Writers from the POV of being a mainstream reader who knows nothing about BDSM. And even though FSoG inspired me to write a BDSM novel, it did not inspire me to the point where I wanted to write FSoG fanfic. I didn’t like it that much. I’ve also read that most people who bought FSoG and helped make it the blockbuster hit its been, allegedly did not bother to finish it. They have ways of tracking these things now with e-readers, and from what I hear this is based on clinical data. Evidently, only one in ten readers actually finish the book.

I will post more about Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades as we get closer to a release date. I’m curious about what the other forty-nine writers thought about FSoG. From what I’ve been told the essays include opinions and thoughts from writers who did not all share the same opinions.

Breaking Gay Stereotypes…

While I was reading a blog authored by a straight guy I know, I saw him dealing with a lot of the same stereotypes gay guys have to deal with all the time. In his case, he’s getting it in reverse because he’s neat, has a well decorated home, and is extremely articulate in everything he does.

And that’s the kind of thing we all need to work on a little more…breaking those stereotypes. I found an interesting blog, here, that says this in the title:

A group of LGBTS bloggers share their ideas, opinions, and stories to help increase understanding about Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Straight people and issues.

I haven’t had time to check it all out, but I will admit this is the first time I’ve ever seen LGBTS. I’ve mentioned more than once how I feel about LGBTQ, and how I’m not embracing the “Q” part because I find the “Q” word highly offensive. But the “S” part…for straight…I find very interesting.

It seems like a lot of people get hung up on stereotypes.
For instance, gays are known for being crazy sex fiends who get std’s out the wazoo. Gay people even seem to think this is how things are or how they are perceived. And then as if to prove something some gays feel like they have to act like the most pious Christians out there. Gay Mormons feel like they have to show they’re being celibate and following all the rules in order to prove that gays aren’t bad. Others feel they have to prove that gays can have families and build lasting relationships just to show that gays aren’t bad. In some ways this sickens me, but at the same time I’m going to give you my proof.

From what I can tell, it looks like a well written blog and there are some interesting concepts that seem to be geared around breaking the stereotypes and bringing the gay community closer to the straight community. I will post more about it when I find out more.