Month: February 2013

Bloomberg Article on Self-Publishing: Pure Manure; 15 Percent of All E-Book Reviews Will Be Fake

Well, the Bloomberg article on self-publishing isn’t pure manure. It’s just misleading to most writers who might be thinking about self-publishing. And If I had read something like this a year ago I might never have self-pubbed anything on my own. So I decided to add a few things I’ve learned.

When I posted that I was getting into self-publishing last year around this time I made a point of saying it was going to be a humble venture. One year later, four self-published books later, it still is a humble venture. At least it is compared to self-pubbed books released by some others. But, in the same respect, I managed to hit several best seller lists with all of the books, and all did better than I expected them to do. So, if nothing else, at least that should qualify me to speak on the topic of self-publishing to a certain extent. I’m not claiming to be an expert. I’m only sharing the things I’ve learned first hand…and I’m still learning now. And, I didn’t use a literary agent’s self-publishing service. I did it alone…I’m not holding back the complete truth like some who claim they self-publish.  

Just because I came from a twenty year background of getting published with both traditional publishers and e-publishers it didn’t make self-publishing any less intimidating for me than an unpublished author. It’s new territory and you’re on your own. In fact, I think that was the scariest part for me. There was no one to lean on.

The Bloomberg aritlce is long, so I’m going to go over each section and commenting on what I think it misleading…or sound advice. Again, this is just my opinion and the only reason I’m offering it is because I don’t like to see writers spend more money than necessary. I also don’t like to see them get discouraged by articles that often don’t make sense…or are written by people who really don’t know what they are talking about.

Beyond Vanity

The really explosive growth has come in e-books, which went from 7,000 to 87,000. “Not long ago if you said you self-published you weren’t taken as seriously as other authors,” says Beat Barblan, a director at Bowker. “That’s no longer the case.”

It starts out okay, not argument here. But there’s more to come.

Dotting the I’s

$1,460: Price paid by Pandl for editing, proofreading and structure suggestions; self-published author Sander Flaum, who wrote “Big Shoes: How Successful Leaders Grow into New Roles,” paid $500.

This section basically gets into the cost of editing. But the ambiguity of this section boggles my mind. Yes, you can pay $1,460 to have your self-pubbed book edited. You can pay $4,000 for that matter. There’s no set rule to what editors charge and I’m not even going there.

However, you can also find editors willing to work for less. You can also partner with some other writer you know and edit for each other. And frankly I would recommend a copy editor or a proofreader more than I’d recommend an editor. That’s how I did it. One of the reasons why I love self-publishing so much is because I don’t have to listen to an editor. I get to call the shots, not the publisher or editor. And I get the control.

But more than that, a lot of the mistakes in self-pubbed books come more from bad formatting than bad editing. And, if you don’t want to pay an editor or a copy editor, you can do it yourself and save tons of money. I’m not of the school that thinks all authors need editors. Some do; some don’t. It all depends on how hard you’re willing to work, and if you can take the stress of editing your own work. It’s not easy, but not impossible.

Covers That Pop

$200: Price Freethy paid for a book cover design (that was not used)

$1,600: Price Julia Pandl paid for an early book cover design ($200) and interior design ($1,400).

I really smiled at this part, and not just because they used the word “pop.” Of course covers are important. However, if you don’t want to pay a cover artist you can get free software to create your own covers. Again, this is all about how hard you’re willing to work at it. I’ve tried my own and I’m by no means a tech genius. I’m actually a tech dummy and I learn as I go, gaining knowledge about what I need to know at the time. Google is your friend.

There are also excellent cover artists out there willing to create good covers for less than $200. I know this because I’ve used them myself. Frankly, I don’t think $200 is over the top to charge for a cover. But I think that would be my top end limit. And look at it this way, do you really think e-publishers are paying their cover artists $1,600 per cover? I doubt that highly. And if they are, I’m in the wrong business.

The Printed Book

$8,800: Cost to print 1,300 copies (240-page book) with shipping – Julia Pandl

Though probably true, it’s still pure manure for today’s serious self-pubbed author. First, unless you’re only interested in publishing print books for your friends or family (I understand this), you would be better served catering to the digital market instead of the print market. The article goes on to mention getting your print book into bookstores and distribution. But with the state of affairs brick and mortar bookstores are in right now, why spend almost nine thousand dollars on producing print books?

And I self-pubbed all my digital books for free. So did this excellent author. It wasn’t simple. It took weeks of learning how to read HTML and convert. But it’s doable if you don’t want to pay anyone else to do it. If you aren’t comfortable with that, there are e-publishing services out there you can hire. Prices vary and nothing is set in stone right now. But most I checked out were affordable.

And, writers like me are always willing to offer advice in private. I’ve done that with more than a few authors who got confused while they were self-publishing. There are also blogs and posts written all over the Internet by other authors who’ve self-published and didn’t pay a dime to do it. Most don’t mind sharing their experiences. Tony is doing it right now for an older friend of mine who is self-publishing spiritual new age books on Amazon. Don’t be shy about asking for help.

The Readers

Part of the decision on whether to go the e-book route may have to do with your choice of topic.

This part honestly didn’t even make sense to me. I asked Tony if he downloaded any software to pub my books and he said he didn’t. The trick is learning how to convert Word docs into HTML. I’m not going into detail here because that would be another post, but it doesn’t cost that much…if anything…to do this. And, as I said, you can always look for an e-publishing service who is willing to do this. Tony and I have played with the idea of starting one ourselves. We’d like it to be affordable and something that would debunk all the rumors going around about self-publishing.

You Book’s ID

If you want to sell a printed book, you need an ISBN.
$125: Cost for one ISBN — Bowker

If you self-pub a digital book on Amazon you get what’s called an ASIN: B007R6POYM . Or, you can go to Smashwords and the ISBN will cost you ten dollars…or free. This one is my number for Chase of a Lifetime on Amazon. It did NOT cost $125.

So this one only matters if you’re self-pubbing print books. And I honestly don’t see why any new author would go that route nowadays.

Kudos Search

This one is very entertaining.

There are reviewers out there who, for a fee, will read your book and write a review. Some authors create fake accounts and give themselves high ratings while assigning lower ones to rival books. Jenny Sussin, a research analyst at Gartner Inc., says by 2014 as many as 15 percent of all e-book reviews will be fake, as authors and marketers pay for positive reviews.

I read this part a few times. I’m sure they’re not suggesting self-pubbed authors pay for reviews and start sockpuppet accounts to push their books…or review their own books with five stars. I’m sure they wouldn’t suggest self-published authors rate other authors lower either. At least I’m hoping this isn’t true.

Because if you do that you’re an idiot. Plain and simple. It always catches up to you and then you’re really screwed.

$550: Price to get a review — Kirkus Indie Reviews

Waste of time…and this comes from a friend who has been a NY literary agent for over thirty years.

Let the World Know

$2,300: Website for a book, including PayPal link — amount paid by Rick Spier, author of “The Legend of Shane the Piper: A Novel Memoir”
$45: 250 color bookmark business cards — Staples
$100: Press release printing — Staples
$300: Facebook advertisement — Facebook
$1,000: Direct mail — Julia Pandl’s cost

Of course you have to let the world know, but social media, last I looked, is free. From facebook to twitter to blogging, it won’t cost you a dime to promote. And then there are yahoo groups and other forums as well. If you really want to promote online aggressively there’s no limit as to what you can do. And it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. I’ve watched one romance author in particular over the years build a platform and readership just through blogging. I’ve seen other do it in different ways.

But also tread with care, because there’s a fine line between aggressive marketing and obnoxious marketing. You don’t want to turn people off with spam that says, “Read My New Book.”

Get the Book Out

If you publish an e-book, distribution is as simple as uploading your manuscript to, say, the online bookstores of or Barnes & Noble.

So far, this is the only part that makes sense to me. You do need to distribute your e-book in as many places as you can. But being that Amazon rules right now and most e-books are sold on Amazon, you can take your chances and just sell from them. There’s the Amazon lending program, that will lock you into Amazon for three months. I’ve done it and I’m not totally against it. For new self-pubbed authors sticking with Amazon in the beginning might be the best way to go as you’re learning the ins and outs of e-book distribution.

But that’s a key factor: learning the ins and outs. When you self-publish you’re not just an author anymore. You’re also a businessperson taking on all kinds of other responsibilities. And if something sounds too good to be true, or too expensive, it probably it. Don’t get suckered.

The One-Stop Shop

$5,000 – $6,000: Includes designing hard-copy book (printing costs an additional $5.40 per book) and creating e-book versions. Discounts depending on volume — IndieReader

For those who don’t want to get into all the small details of self-publishing, there’s nothing wrong with this. But you don’t have to do it to self-publish successfully. Not by any means. That’s a lot of money for most people, and the odds are you’ll never get it back. So, thinking like a businessperson, as you should be, you want to know that what you invest will at least come back, with at least a small profit.

I would like to state that most of the facts in this article are things that can’t be disputed. You can pay anything you want…or anything someone charges you…to self-publish a book. You can spend thousands on covers, editors, and marketing services that you may or may not ever see again. But if you self-publish like I did, and take the time to really learn how it works and how e-books are formatted and designed, it won’t cost you much at all. And my overall point in this post is to show you how much it all varies so no one takes advantage of you and sells you a bill of goods you might not need.


A Unique Wedding Registry from Freedom to Marry…

In the latest news from equality organization, Freedom to Marry, there’s a wedding registry for those who are planning to marry or those who are going to weddings this season. But it’s not like the typical straight wedding registry, where you ask people to give you loot just for getting married. I like the concept, I’m going to do it with the next wedding I get invited to, and I’m hoping it catches on.

I have spent more money than I care to count in the past twenty years between friends’ weddings and family weddings. I’ve been in them, I’ve been to them. I’ve been in them the second time around and I’ve paid through the nose the second time around. And none of these weddings I’ve been to have ever so much as offered a dish towel to Tony and me. I know that’s a small material thing, and it might not be the best attitude. But it does get tired.

In fact, the next time I get invited to a straight wedding, I’m going to make a donation to Freedom to Marry in the happy straight couple’s name instead of buying a gift.

From my inbox…

 Before you know it, wedding season will be upon us.

Whether you’re getting married or attending a friend’s wedding this year, registries will be the go-to spot to find the perfect gift. But we already know a great gift to give or receive this wedding season, Ryan: the gift of marriage.

There’s no better way to celebrate your marriage, or a friend’s, than by helping make sure others have the opportunity to share in the life-long commitment of marriage by setting up a wedding registry supporting Freedom to Marry.
If you’re getting married this year, start a Freedom to Marry registry now.

Not tying the knot this year? You can still help — make a donation in someone’s honor!

If you’re tying the knot, you have the chance to set up your own Freedom to Marry wedding registry. You can customize your page and set a fundraising goal asking your friends to make a gift to Freedom to Marry in lieu of, or in addition to, those towels you want.

If you’re not getting married this season, you can give the gift of marriage to other committed couples by donating to Freedom to Marry on behalf of your friends who are getting married.

Photo attribution here.

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think I could add anything too different from what’s already been said about The Casual Vacancy in over three thousand Amazon reviews. I’ve noticed that the reviews are mixed, and about half either loved the book or half didn’t. I’d like to add up front that I did not read anything in the Harry Potter series because I’m not a fan of that genre. I saw a few of the movies and I yawned through them. Once again, because I’m not a fan of that particular genre.

But I am a fan of J.K. Rowling now and it’s all because of The Casual Vacancy. I’ve read where a lot of people didn’t like the fact that there are so many characters. I found this aspect not only refreshing, but also something most writers aren’t capable of doing. As a writer I know how difficult it is to weave multiple characters into a plot and I don’t do it often because it’s so difficult to keep the story flowing and at the same time keep reminding the reader who the characters are. And I didn’t have any issues following all the characters in The Casual Vacancy. In fact, what kept me reading and thinking about the book was what was going to happen to these characters. And there’s really nothing extraordinary about them, and yet you wind up caring about them.

I will admit that I started this book a while ago, and then I put it aside because I got busy with other things. But that’s something else I loved about it. I do that with authors like John Irving sometimes. I’ll start the book, get to a certain point, and then stop reading for a few weeks…even months sometimes…and then come back to it right where I left off. And after all that time, if the book is good enough, those characters and the plot are with me to a certain extent. I can’t say that about many other books I’ve read in my lifetime. And that’s because a book like The Casual Vacancy only comes along once in a while.

I noticed a lot of people compared TCV to Peyton Place. I would go so far as to say that it did remind me of Peyton Place, but I don’t think Grace Metalious was anywhere near the author J.K. Rowling is. If I had to compare Petyon Place to anything nowadays I would probably compare it to Fifty Shades of Grey instead of The Casual Vacancy because I think Metalious and E.L. James are probably on the same level as far as author skills go. And that’s by no means a slur to either of them. They both wrote great books and people loved them.

But there’s a literary quality to The Casual Vacancy that crosses that painfully thin line into mainstream commercial that truly interested me. From page one, I found myself caring about the people of Pagford and wondering what was going to happen to them. I also found reading about lifestyles in the UK just as interesting. In many ways, it’s not all that different from the US, and Pagford could have been my little town, New Hope, in Bucks County, PA….from the politics to the class warfare to the little secrets going on behind the scenes.

What some readers have commented on is that there’s a dark side to this book, and I just didn’t see that. There’s a realistic side. I saw that very plainly. But I didn’t see all the darkness and gloom. Like I said, it’s real and sometimes it’s intense. And sometimes there’s some wit and humor worked into the book when you don’t expect it. It’s also gossipy in the way many small towns are. But I just didn’t see all that darkness and gloom others talked about.

Rowling could have held back in some instances, especially with regard to the male teenage characters. And yet she didn’t, and I found this aspect of the book more like a character study. It surprised me, too. As someone who never had read Harry Potter, I honestly didn’t think she had it in her. This is why I didn’t want to get into an overall plot description with this review. So many others have done that well in other reviews, and I wanted to add a few different thoughts…if that’s possible…for readers who might be thinking of reading The Casual Vacancy but aren’t sure if it’s the book for them.

All I can say if that if you like things glossed over and hidden, and you’re not a fan of really reading about some of the more intense things in life, this might not be the book for you. If you tend to take the more difficult aspects of life seriously and you carry images around in your head for a long time, this book might not be for you either. But if you are interested in reading something that gets into the realities and complications of what life is like today, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprsed at how J.K. Rowling managed to pull this off. And I hope there are more books like this one in her future.

Interview with TV Star/LGBT Author Jeffery Self

As I posted last week, TV star, Jeffery Self, has a new LGBT book out and he was kind enough to grant me an interview. I wanted the interview questions to put him at ease, and at the same time get to know more about him as a writer, an actor, and man.

He not only sent the answers to the questions back in record time, I think he did a great job providing more insight into who he is and what he’s all about. As a side note, it was a lot of fun for me because I have been a fan of his for a long time, especially his TV show on Logo, Jeffery & Cole Casserole. When I used to watch it I never thought I’d be interviewing him about a book.

Here’s a link to his new book, “50 Shades of Gay,” on Amazon. And here’s one for the publisher’s web site. The book is out in both digital format and in paperback. The Amazon link will lead you to both.  This is a link to his facebook page where you can follow his updates.

1. I love your online bios because they make you sound like so much fun, but what can you tell me about yourself that’s not listed in any bio out there?

Well, first of all I am NOT all that  much fun. I’m actually a handful. However, I guess the main thing my bio leaves out is that I am OBSESSED with wigs and made for TV movies.

2. You’ve accomplished a lot of things so far for someone so young, how did you get into writing fiction?

I had the idea for “Fifty Shades Of Gay” and decided to just try and write it. I don’t come from the world of fiction writing so I just decided to write the book in my own weird voice and see if I could actually finish it. Turns out- I DID!

3. If you had to tell me what your book is about in one or two sentences, what would you say?

The sexy and secretive world of Hollywood.

4. The writing process is different for every writer. Some work fast. Others take their time. Some work late at night. Others work in the early morning. What’s it like for you? Or do you even have a schedule?

I try to have a schedule but I never seem to stick to that. I usually get most of my writing done in the daytime because my boyfriend has a normal person schedule and I like being done with my work at night so we can watch “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” or “Nashville” together and binge eat.

I usually write a few pages, stop and look at Facebook, write a few more, Facebook again, rinse and repeat until I exhaust myself or get hungry.

5. What inspired you to write a novel like this?

I had been hearing so much about the original “Fifty Shades Of Grey” from so many different people… and I thought… if a book appeals to both MY MOM and drag queens on the Internet then this must be something I’d enjoy.

While reading it, I realized it’s basically just a campy, contemporary version of what Jaqueline Susann did so brilliantly in the seventies. Which is a trashy but glamorous and exciting story that takes readers just enough out of their comfort zones but with characters they can
identify with. So with my book I wanted to capture that campy, celebrity obsessed Jaqueline Susann tone and mix it in with the original tone of “Fifty Shades Of Grey”.

6. I noticed in a few things I read about you online you’re kind of/sort of a pop culture junky with respect to TV shows like “Designing Women.” I’m a huge fan of that show and I agree that Carlene just never could compare to Charlene 🙂 And no one could ever replace Suzanne. If you could identify
with one character on that show, which would it be?

I reckon Delta Burke (Suzanne) just because she’s on the surface a little showy but underneath a neurotic and slightly annoying mess.

7. What other pop culture has influenced or inspired you as an actor or a writer?

I love sitcoms like Roseanne. I also love the writing of playwright and screenwriter Paul Rudnick. He is one of the first writers who’s writing really made me go… “Oh. I want to do that.” I also have a lot of super talented friends who influence and inspire what I do…folks like Cole Escola, Drew Droege, Erin Markey, Bryan Safi, Max Steele, Ben Rimalower, Jim Hansen, Julie Klausner, Rachel Shukert, and Billy Eichner.

8. Could you list a few of the TV shows you’ve appeared in?

Hot in Cleveland, 90210, Shameless, Torchwood, 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives.

9. As a writer, I’m always curious about how other artists in other fields work. You’ve done both writing and acting. How does one differ from the other…or do they differ?

They’re totally different. Writing is obviously a lot harder than acting, while I think acting is stupidly easy. Mind you, I’m not a “real actor” in that I’ve never really done anything but play myself or version of myself in the character of a sassy gay sidekick but I think that acting is without a doubt the easiest job on earth.

I think the big difference is that writing requires every single facet of your brain to show up, while acting you really only need like fifty percent. That said, I am more referring to what is it I DO as opposed to someone who’s a real actor like Meryl Streep or the little girl on “Modern Family”.

10. There’s a lot of talk these days about how publishing is changing and how authors have to work harder to promote their books. I always find it difficult to talk about myself, and yet if I don’t promote the book suffers. How are you going about the promotion of this book?

I am trying to do my part to get the book directly to people that I know will enjoy it. For me, that’s been getting friends in subcultures like gay porn and erotic fiction and Hollywood gossip to say to their fanbases: hey, this book is something you might enjoy.

I don’t know the publishing world BEFORE it’s change to what it is now so for me, it feels moderately natural to have to pound the digital pavement.

11. Is this recently released book going to be a series? Can we expect more to follow?

Maybe so! I have an idea for a sequel I’ve been playing around with.

12. I was actually a huge fan of Jeffery & Cole Casserole, especially because it was filmed on webcam. I used to look for it all the time on Logo. What plans, if any, do you have in the making for future shows…or TV appearances?

Cole and I wrote a movie a while back that is sort of a “Jeffery and Cole Casserole” type adventure. In a dream scenario, we’d be able to make that sometime in the near future. As far as tv stuff goes… I’ve written some pilots this year that I’m proud of, so we’ll see if anything ever happens with those and I’m in a made for tv movie on MTV coming up in April called “Made: Ladies Man”. I play neither the lady nor man.

13. I hate to ask anything too personal, but you are interesting, extremely good-looking, and people do like to hear more personal things sometimes. Is there anything you’d like to share in that respect?

My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years now and we just got a puppy named Bodhi who is the cutest thing on planet earth.

14. I’ve always been fascinated by closeted gay actors in Hollywood, which is what I saw mentioned in your book description that caught my eye so to speak. Is there anything in your new book that’s based on real life?

I’ve been around a lot of closeted actors in LA and in New York. It’s such a weird thing for me to witness because I’m SO disconnected from any sort of mindset that says you can’t be out. I honestly don’t know what that would feel like. However, there IS something very sexy about
the idea that this public persona who advertises himself as straight is secretly doing guys. I’ve witnessed some of this first hand and while I am not naming names, we all know Hollywood is FULL of them.

15. You and other actors like Matt Bomer are putting yourselves out there, as openly gay, and you’re creating role models for younger gay men who need these role models. Do you have an opinion on closeted gay actors? And, does being openly gay create obstacles?

Its tricky because people should be allowed their private lives, however I think if you’re putting yourself out there as a public figure then you should put yourself out there entirely. Not just some version of yourself that your agents at CAA think will make them more money.

I think that openly gay actors in Hollywood DO have a harder time. I happen to play quirky gay characters so it’s somewhat easier for me but I do have friends who are going after leading man roles that are perfect for the industry except that studios and networks are too scared to take the risk on someone who happens to be gay.

The same goes for writers to some degree… Hollywood still has a lot of hyper masculine people at the helm and while I think that’s rapidly changing… it’s an annoying and old fashioned road block for so many talented people.

16. Was there anything interesting or unusual about writing this book that you’d like to share?

It was my first time writing anything sexy so it was all sorts of bizarre to sit in my local coffee shop and describe the feeling of a dick in your ass.

17. Do you have any book signings planned? Feel free to share.

Not at this time!


18. I know this might sound like a dumb question to ask a writer, but I have to ask anyway. I’ve seen a lot of photos of you online and almost each one seems markedly different from the others. You always look great, but you  always look different, too. Is this something you plan, or does it just work out that way by accident?

Sort of by accident and sort of by choice. I am constantly getting tired of the way I look or dress and deciding to do a “appearance overhaul.”

19. What would Suzanne Sugarbaker say if she read your new book?

I think Suzanne would be pretty turned on by my book. She’d read it with her blinds shut and door locked but she’d definitely read the whole thing.

20. Now, what would Bernice Clifton say?

Could Bernice read?

What is Quiltbag-Centric? Plus, Gay Desinations and Gay Conventions

When I wrote the post below this about Rainbow Con 2014 I noticed something called “Quiltbag-Centric.” I wrote that post fast, but made a mental note to come back to it later to find out more about it. Then a blog reader asked me something about it on Facebook and I could only find one link. I couldn’t even find it at my mainstay for all things new and different…Urban Dictionary.

A few hours after that, the same blog reader posted this definition for Quiltbag-Centric:

Queer/Questioning, Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay.

But it’s more complicated than this. So here’s a web site for a small publisher, Storm Moon Press, that seems to focus on Quiltbag-Centric fiction.

 We are a small press, defined as a Limited Liability Company, dedicated to a specific niché market. There is no intention on our part to become a medium or large press in the future. Our goal is to publish quality fiction, and no more than 24-48 titles a year. Any more than that and we believe we will compromise our original intent for this press, which was to offer erotic romances (with an emphasis on GLBT and alternative lifestyle characters and themes) in print formats while offering our authors the best royalties we could.

I actually had a little fun with this with my agent friend who tends to know all and EVERYTHING…smile. He admitted he didn’t know what it was, but I could just imagine him scrambling through google the minute after he fired off his reply to me.

This is from a blog that did a post about Quiltbag-Centric and mentioned Storm Moon Press. And after I read this, it started coming together better for me.

One of the things that we’re always looking for more of at Storm Moon Press is genre fiction. There is a distinct lack of QUILTBAG-centric mysteries, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Instead, the market is flooded with contemporary romances. And while there’s nothing wrong with romance, it’s a source of frustration that in order to read something more, you have to look to the mainstream. So, the obvious question is “why?” Why is it so hard to find good QUILTBAG genre fiction? I believe there are a few reasons.

I think it’s an interesting post and I suggest reading it in full. And here’s yet another that goes into more detail.

If anyone knows where I can find something more concrete for a set definition, please feel free to comment and I’ll update the post.

Gay Destinations and Gay Conventions

I’ve posted about two gay conventions recently, one of which was Gay Rom Lit Retreat 2013 where there was a bit of a kerfuffle over policy changes implemented this year. A lot has been written about this and I’m not going to add a single thing. One, because I’m not affiliated with them on an active level and I would never be that presumptuous. And two, because I have seen too many people who are not affiliated with them jump onto the proverbial bandwagon offering suggestions. In other words, this one’s none of my business.

But what has always interested me with all of these conventions…in a broad and general sense…is that whenever I see one of these conventions pop up they are never held in a place where gay people would go willingly. I honestly don’t want to sound like the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey, but Albuquerque is not a place I would go under any normal circumstances for fun and pleasure. It’s not a place where any of my gay friends, or lesbian friends, would go for pleasure either. I’m sure it’s a nice place. But there are only certain places you can go in one lifetime and if you’re gay Albuquerque is not at the top of the list. When I think of Albuquerque I think Ethel May Potter, not gay fun.

And these conventions are expensive. Plus, Tony and I don’t travel as often as we would like because we have two dogs and we don’t board them or hire pet sitters. We’ve heard too many horror stories and we won’t take that chance. So what we do is take the dogs with us everywhere we go. Unfortunately, that often limits us to dog friendly towns. And gay friendly towns. I would love to go to a convention as a reader, not even as an author. But it should be at least a little enticing as far as location goes. I mean they wouldn’t hold the Republican or Democratic Conventions in Paris. That wouldn’t make sense.

My point here is that I honestly don’t get why gay oriented conventions would be held in places where gay people don’t usually go for pleasure. We go to Provincetown (photo above) and don’t think twice about it. In fact, P’town has many events for gay people all year long now, from Women’s Week to Family Week. When we go to Florida, it’s not Tampa. We go to Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach, or Key West. And then there’s Palm Springs and Russian River. There are also a few places lesser known, like right here in New Hope, PA, where we even have our own gay pride event every single May. So having a gay convention in a location where gay people don’t want to go kind of defeats the purpose. At least I would think so anyway. But then what do I know.

New LGBT Convention: Rainbow Con 2014

I don’t know much about this, but I wanted to post something because it looks interesting and I think my blog readers like to know these things.

There’s a new convention called Rainbow Con, and it’s taking place next March in Tampa, FL.

RainbowCon is a four day QUILTBAG-centric conference held in Tampa, Florida geared toward readers, writers, artists, and small publishers. Throughout the four days of the conference, attendees can enjoy panels, workshops, activities, and even a field trip into the heart of Ybor’s club district! RainbowCon is also a deliberately small conference, limiting the number of general attendees to 175, with authors and special guests making up the remaining 75 slots in its 250 attendance cap.

2014 may be its first year, but we have plenty in store for those attending. The panel descriptions, special guests, and venue are already up, and while registration information is available, formal registration and hotel booking will not open until March 1st, 2013.

We hope you enjoy the content to be found in RainbowCon. Our schedule features both an reader track as well as a writer track, catering to those on both sides of the proverbial pen. Workshops are available for aspiring and established writers alike. We also offer roundtable discussions of sub-genres of QUILTBAG literature and activities, so there are plenty of opportunities to participate and socialize. RainbowCon is all about the personal approach, and it’s our goal to ensure each attendee has a fantastic time!

Here’s a link to the web site where you can read more about it.

Bradley Cooper Nude Scenes; Erin Andrews Puts Rapper 50 Cents in His Place

We’ve been hearing so much about actor, Bradley Cooper, and the Oscars lately, I was curious about whether or not he’d ever done any nude scenes in films. In all honesty, I don’t know much about him or his films and I’ve never been a huge fan. He’s from the Philadelphia area and grew up in a Philly suburb not far from New Hope…Jenkintown…but I just never was drawn to any of his films.

But I’m always curious about the double standard in Hollywood with respect to women and men in nude scenes, especially with full frontal nudity. And male full frontal nudity is always the last place “they” will go.

I couldn’t find anything about full frontal nudity for Bradley Cooper, but I did find this link to a nude scene he did once.

He also did a gay sex scene in the 2001 film, Wet Hot American Summer. Check out the link for photos.

“I remember saying,” says Cooper, “‘What if we wear tube socks, and I’ll go up on the wall, and you’ll come from behind me.’ And I said in the scene, ‘Say my name,’ and Michael says, ‘Ben!’ And I say, ‘No! Say my Christian name,’ and he whispers, ‘Benjamin,’ and that’s when I came.”
But aside from nude scenes, there’s been speculation about whether or not Cooper is gay in real life. Here’s one link, here’s another, and yet another.

This gay “rumor” bothers me on several different levels. One, if Bradley Cooper is gay and he’s not ready to come out that’s his business. Period. Two, whenever the press starts a rumor about whether or not an actor or actress is gay there’s always a hidden meaning…as if there’s something wrong with being gay. And that’s what bothers me the most.

Erin Andrews Puts Rapper 50 in His Place

At the Daytona 500 this weekend, reporter Erin Andrews wound up in an odd situation with rapper, 50 Cents.

50 decided to show his appreciation for Andrews’ work, and, well, Andrews didn’t much dig it.

Not quite. It’s more than just that. 50 Cents went to hug and kiss Andrews and she put an end to THAT fast. From the way it looked, I think he was ready to tongue kiss her. You can watch it on the video here. And you can see how aggressive and insulting 50 Cents was to this young woman.

This is the sort of thing we see all the time and no one ever complains about it. A woman is doing her job, and someone like 50 Cents comes along and sexually harrasses her. Would he have attempted to kiss Ryan Seacrest that way? Would he have attempted to kiss any male reporter that way? I highly doubt it.

Frankly, I wouldn’t have been unhappy if Erin Andrews had hauled off and smacked him right in the face. Or, kicked him in the nuts. I’m so tired of seeing women treated this way. I’m also tired of the press making light of things like this.

As a side note, to give you more insight into 50 Cents, this is what 50 Cents tweeted when he arrived at the Daytona 500.

Earlier, 50 had surely raised the blood pressure of NASCAR officials when he arrived at Daytona and tweeted, “Damn I don’t see no black people lol.”

Now, that’s the kind of racist remark I absolutely despise, too. As an author I know how powerful words like that can be and I don’t take them for granted. We’re all trying to put an end to that brand of racism. It’s just not funny anymore.


Erotic E-books Inspire Lending Across the Pond


I’ve had this article in my in-box all week but didn’t have time to post it. It’s about how erotic e-books have affected the overall digital market in the UK, and how people are lending/borrowing e-books. I have to admit I’m a little surprised because I didn’t think lending erotica was all that popular. In other words, I’ve always thought of it as a discreet genre where people would hesitate to borrow either e-books or print books. I always thought of them as purchases. But I guess this is becoming more popular now, and no complaints from me.

A rare bit of good news for the nation’s beleaguered local libraries: erotic fiction is being credited with a boom in e-book loans.

Surrey County Council has experienced a rise in loans from 16,231 in 2011 to 19,847 in 2012 with this January seeing the busiest month in the authority’s e-book history with 2,469 loans.

The most popular e-book in 2012 was romance novel ‘At the Argentinean Billionaire’s Bidding’ by India Grey, followed by ‘Bedded By The Greek Billionaire’ by Kate Walker in second, and ‘Beauty And The Billionaire’ by Barbara Dunlop in third.

You can read more here.

The article is from Huff Po UK, and I’m not surprised at all to see how many readers in the UK enjoy erotic romance. I’ve found a good deal of my own sales come from the UK, and so do a lot of my personal e-mails from readers. It’s an interesting article, with book covers, and I think it’s worth reading in full. It gets into how erotic romance is a guilty pleasure, and how digital books are changing the rules now. These are things a lot of us already know. Hell, I write it because it’s a guilty pleasure for me. But I also think a lot of other people are just beginning to get turned on to it.

Gay Rom Lit Retreat 2013 New Policy; Obama Gets Involved In Gay Marriage Issue

President Obama is now weighing in on Gay Marriage. I didn’t hear much about it in the mainstream yesterday, but I could have missed it because I’ve been focused on so many work related projects lately. In any event, here’s something from CNN.

In a preview of a major constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, the Obama administration said on Friday that a federal law denying financial benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.

The Justice Department filed the first of a series of briefs in a pair of cases dealing with the multilayered issue, outlining the executive branch’s positions.
The high court will hear oral arguments next month on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 congressional law that says for federal purposes, marriage is defined as only between one man and one woman.
This is significant for many reasons, one of which is that I’ve been hoping the President would weigh in on the issue. I wasn’t sure. With this, he has a chance to make history once again, because the fact remains that the issue of gay marriage runs far deeper than love and romance. For many older gay couples who are facing hefty inheritance taxes it’s far more pragmatic than emotional. And that’s just part of it. I recommend reading the article in full to get a grasp on what this means to gay couples.
And, this article from Politico explains it in simpler terms.
A legal brief the Justice Department filed with the Supreme Court Friday asking the justices to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act is raising hopes among gay rights advocates that President Barack Obama is on the verge of embracing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Read more:

Gay Rom Lit Retreat 2013 Announces New Policy:
For GayRomLit 2013, the organizers have revised the way author registration occurs in order to cut down on retreat stress and improve the reader-to-author ratio. In the interests of serving our readers and not pulling them in too many directions, registration will be strictly limited to 100 author registrations: 70 Featured Authors with established careers and 30 Supporting Authors who are building their fanbase. These authors need only prove publication of a minimum of titles. (3 for Featured / 1 for Supporting)
For those who don’t know, Gay Rom Lit Retreat is an event where authors, readers, and fans of all things m/m romance gather each year. The event is taking place this year in Atlanta, from October 17 – 20. You can read more about that here. And here. And, here’s a full explanation of the new policy. The official web site is not up and running yet, but I’m sure it will be soon.  
I should also mention there’s been somewhat of a firestorm on the Interwebs since the new policy was announced last week. I don’t follow these things closely for lack of time, but you can read more about it here, where people (readers and authors) responded on facebook and people from GRL replied. There’s one facebook status update with over 100 comments. Others have written blog posts about it. But I’d rather not link to individual blog posts right now because I can’t find any that balance out. In other words, I like to remain objective about things like this and if I can’t find two sides of the story I don’t link to anything. This one link above to facebok seems to explain why some are upset, and how GRL addressed those concerns.
Although I’ve always been curious about GRL, I hadn’t planned on attending this year. I’ll be in the Hamptons with two other gay couples we’ve known forever. From October 16 – 22, we’re going out for a birthday party and I’m looking forward to being out there that time of year. And, Tony’s birthday is also October 17th, too. I actually like East Hampton better in the fall than in the summer, and the traffic isn’t usually as bad either.  

Gay Marriage: We've Been "Married" All This Time and You Never Knew

This morning I received copy edits from ravenous romance for the next book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, The Actor Learning to Love. In this book I don’t actually get into anything too detailed about gay “marriage,” but I do mention it often because the main character is a gay man who has been “married” more than once. His last relationship, one in which he considered himself “engaged,” has just ended and he’s moving into a new apartment with his 10 year old son. And after so many failed “marriages” the only thing he’s looking forward to is jump-starting his career and making sure his kid gets into good schools.

If you notice, I’m putting the word “marriage” and “engaged” and anything related to this in quotes for a reason. So stick with me.

Whenever I get copy edits back from any publisher I usually tread with care. Most of the time it’s basic because I always try to submit manuscripts that are neat, clean, and don’t require much copy editing. Most of the time I’m lucky. But every so often I get one back with a few notes on the side and that can take up a lot of time. Also, most of the time the copy editor is right and she/he has caught something that needs to be fixed. It’s a mixed feeling. On the one hand I’d rather not have to deal with them, and on the other I’m always thrilled that a good copy editor found an issue I need to address. So, I want everyone to know I’m not talking about copy editors here. I think copy editors are the most unrecognized group in publishing, and also the most important in the end.

Back in the early 1990’s when I first starting going out to gay clubs and meeting other gay people, everything was fairly new to me. I used to pull up to a gay club and wonder about them, in a general sense, when I saw them all going into the club in groups. How did they all get to know each other? When did they do this? Why don’t I know any so I don’t have to go in alone? At the time, it really did mystify my that there were gay people out there socializing and getting together everywhere, not just in gay night clubs and gay cruise spots.

In time, I met a few people and I became part of a circle of friends, too. I stopped wondering and started living. But I do remember certain things that used to come up in the beginning that would stun me. And one of those things was gays being “married.” For example, a friend would introduce me to someone and I would express interest. Then my friend would tell me that person was “married,” and I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant. Did he have a wife and kids? Wasn’t gay “marriage” illegal? I never actually asked because I didn’t want to look stupid, so I listened carefully and figured it all out on my own.

What I didn’t realize back then, and what so many straight people don’t realize now, is that when gay men (or women) refer to themselves as “married,” it’s often in an off-handed way that carries a certain amount of both truth and snark. Sometimes it can be sweet and endearing, and sometimes bittersweet. In other words, they are in committed relationships, and some have been in these relationship for years, but since they aren’t allowed to legally “marry” they use the word “married” anyway in an almost sarcastic…or campy…way. They refer to their partners as “husbands,” or “wives,” too, in the same way. Some even say they’re “engaged.” It took me a while to get the hang of that. I tend to be a very literal person. At first I thought they were really “married,” like with women and kids. But that wasn’t the case then and it’s still not the case now.

So when I looked at the copy edits this morning and I saw how confused the copy editor was each time I used the word “married,” or anything related to that, I knew I had to explain somewhere in the book that this is how a lot of gay people talk when they refer to their relationships or their partners, or their situations. The copy editor, and rightly so, was getting into when gay marriage had become legal in NY where the story takes place, and I had to explain that it doesn’t really matter when gay marriage became legal in NY because the character considered himself “married,” with or without it being legal in NY. The book is about gay relationships and love, not about politics or legal things that don’t matter in this case. I meant to be off-handed and it wasn’t a mistake.

I live in PA where gay marriage is not legal and I still refer to my relationship as a “marriage” and to Tony as my “husband” at certain times. I may not do this in public all the time with straight people I don’t know well, but I do it with good friends and that’s how I think of it. I literally think “married,” and I’m not the only one. I have been hearing gay couples talk this way for twenty years, and they talked that way twenty years prior to that. And it doesn’t end with “marriage.” Gay people who are not allowed to legally “marry” sometimes split up and they consider that a “divorce.” So I saw no need to rectify this in the manuscript. It is what it is.

You see, one of the things I don’t think about seriously is gay “marriage” on a state to state level. I know I probably should sometimes, but I live in PA, only about an hour from NY, and legalized gay “marriage” in NY  or any other state means absolutely nothing whatsoever to me. The moment a gay couple from New York crosses the state line, they are no longer “married” legally. I have friends who joke about it when they fly across country. They take notes during the trip to see which states consider them legally “married.” So, once again, this legalizing gay “marriage” from state to state means nothing to me. And until gay “marriage” is legalized on a federal level, the same way interracial “marriages” were legalized at one time, I’m not going to take the exact dates and times gay marriage became legal in any other states seriously, especially not in one of my own books. 

The irony in all this is that here we’ve been “married” all this time and no one ever knew it. And it had nothing to do with laws or religious groups protesting us, or votes and rallies. It has nothing to do with Presidents or legislators who promise the world and throw us a bone. That’s because we defined it ourselves a long time ago and no one can take that away from us. And if you see me talk about gay “marriage” in a book, or anywhere else, don’t get too hung up on the exact dates of when it was legalized in a particular state, because it means nothing to gay people who don’t live in that particular state. It has to be done across the board. And even when that happens, if I write about gay people who were “married” ten or twenty years ago, I’m still going to refer to them as “married.” And that’s because they thought they were, and that’s good enough for me.