There’s a free Valentine’s Day giveaway over at Queertown Abbey today, and an interview with author, TM Smith. I participated and I’m giving away a free copy of my latest tear-jerker in the Glendora Hill series, Cowboy Christmas Miracle. And I’m posting a never before posted free excerpt from that book below in this post.
You can read more here and see a full list of who participated, and to enter the free giveaway.
Gay Kisses for Putin
In a show of support for LGBT people in Russia and around the world, there’s a campaign today with protests, and anti-gay Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is being sent kisses from LGBTI people from all over the world. The point is to show how love…Valentine’s Day…can conquer hatred and fear.
From midday in London near the Russian Embassy, there will be a LGBT carnival with samba music and drag artists.
Some will also be wearing mocking the Russian president by wearing Putin masks.
To promote the event, they sent out an image of Putin kissing Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
They (we) want Putin to know that the protests are NOT over because the Olympics are underway and Johnny Weir is still making news (ugh), nor will they ever be over as long as Putin promotes fear and hatred and Weir promotes apathy and idiocy.
You can read more here. The fact that this is such a widespread global effort makes it unique I think. I don’t remember seeing anything like this in the past and I hope it continues.
Advertorials/TV Show Girls
I’m a fan of the TV show, Girls, and I’ve posted about it several times on the blog. I like it for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it talks about books and publishing a lot. Last night I watched a recent episode where they discussed advertorials…and writers balancing a writing career and a full time job…not an easy thing to do.
For those who aren’t familiar with advertorials, here’s a good basic definition.
An advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content. The term “advertorial” is a blend of the words “advertisement” and “editorial.”
Merriam-Webster dates the origin of the word to 1946.
In printed publications, the advertisement is usually written in the form of an objective article and designed to look like a legitimate and independent news story. In television, the advertisement is similar to a short infomercial presentation of products or services. These can either be in the form of a television commercial or as a segment on a talk show or variety show. In radio, these can take the form of a radio commercial or a discussion between the announcer and representative.
If you do a search about advertorials you’ll find a few interesting discussions, one of which had to do with a Scientology Advertorial in Atlantic Magazine, which many called unethical.
But the point of this post is about writers trying to balance writing careers with full time jobs. First, I don’t think it’s possible for any writer outside of a small handful of highly commercial writers like E.L. James or J.K. Rowling to not have some kind of supplemental income. I think the episode on Girls I watched last night handled the topic well. Not perfect, but well. Hannah, the main character, got a full time job at GQ Magazine writing advertorials. She’s thrilled about the money, the free food, and she even proves she’s going to be good at the job. But she’s also haunted by the fact that she might be giving up a career as a serious writer in order to take this job. The people in her department were all just like her and they all have a few reputable publishing credits. But after they took the job they stopped writing. Life happens. Dreams fizzle out. It’s not all that unusual to anyone over thirty years old.
As I said, they handled this well in the storyline, but didn’t go all the way. It’s a given that all writers need to work to make money. It’s also a given that the odds of making a decent living as a full time writer are slim…even today with so much happening in digital publishing. I faced this about twenty years ago and with me it wasn’t about working full time and writing as much as it was about what I did full time while I wrote part time. In other words, I worked for a short time as an associate editor for Playgirl Magazine, and for a publication called Astrology Your Daily Horoscope. I loved the perks and the money. I even loved working in the print magazine business. However, I just couldn’t figure out a way to focus on editing all day long and then going home and writing my own fiction part time at night and on weekends. So I ultimately decided that if I ever wanted to get published with fiction I would have to make a choice. The choice wasn’t about whether or not I wanted to work full time. I had to do something. My choice was more about what I did full time so I could write part time and not get burned out.
So I quit the editing jobs in publishing, and that wasn’t easy to do. I liked the concept of working in print publishing, but knew deep down that if I continued I would never write anything of my own. I just couldn’t separate myself from the editing to focus enough on my own fiction. So instead of working as an editor, I decided to open my own small business. I opened an art gallery in New Hope and focused on selling a wide variety of art that would attract the high end art buyer to the average home owner looking for a nice generic landscape. This gave me the opportunity to make money and at the same time write fiction part time during my off hours. I kept the gallery open seven days a week for ten years and wrote fiction when there weren’t any clients looking for art. It wasn’t always easy. We never took vacations. But it was worth it because I found that in doing something totally unrelated to books and publishing full time I couldn’t wait to get back to my own fiction and start writing part time. I also enjoyed the gallery. I wasn’t miserable.
This may or may not help anyone else out there facing this dilemma right now. But I do think it’s possible to have a writing career and still work full time doing something else you like to support yourself. You just have to do something full time that’s not going to burn you out mentally when it’s time to write. Some writers work in sales, some are real estate agents, and some even work full time in construction. It can be done. It’s just the way you do it that matters.
Free Excerpt from Cowboy Christmas Miracle
Keith asked him a few more questions about stress in his life, how hard he was working, and what kind of diet he had. He didn’t want to worry him, but he also wanted to be honest with him. “You said earlier today you wanted to make an appointment to see me next week. Was it about these symptoms?”
Sebastian nodded. “I figured I would get an examination just to be sure there’s nothing seriously wrong. I really do feel fine most of the time.”
Keith wrote a few more things on the clipboard and then he set it aside on a counter. He looked Sebastian in the eye and said, “I’d like you to see a neurologist. I can refer you to a colleague of mine in Austin. I went to medical school with him, he’s gay, and he’s the best I know around here.”
Sebastian sat up straighter. “A neurologist? Why can’t you just treat me here? Are you telling me there’s something seriously wrong?”
Keith had learned how to counsel his patients, not frighten them. “I’m not saying anything definitive. I’m a primary care physician and it’s my job to refer you to a specialist who is qualified in his or her field when I think there’s cause for concern. There’s probably nothing wrong and you’re fine. But after what happened today, and after you mentioned what’s been happening recently, I think you need to see a specialist, have a few tests, and rule out everything to be on the safe side. I can set up the appointment for you next week. I’d like you to see him as soon as possible and his waiting list is three months long.”
“If you think it’s necessary,” Sebastian said.
Keith patted him on the shoulder and smiled. “Look at it this way. If your son or your husband told you what you just told me, would you want them to ignore the symptoms and wait, or would you want them to get more tests to be on the safe side?”
Sebastian sent him a look and frowned. “Of course I’d want them to see a specialist. But please don’t say anything right now. I’ll tell Avery later. I just don’t want Kick to know about this. He would really freak out. Since he lost his dad he thinks his main objective in life is to take care of me and keep me from all harm and it’s just not natural. If he found out about this, he wouldn’t leave my side.”
Keith had learned to remain impersonal in situations like this. He patted Sebastian’s shoulder again and said, “How you deal with telling your family is up to you. But I do think you should talk to your husband about it. I don’t normally tell patients what to do, but in your case I feel as if I should say something.” He’d seen the concern on Avery’s face. He’s seen the love in Avery’s eyes.
Sebastian jumped off the examining table and said, “I will tell him tonight. I don’t want to go to Austin alone. I’d rather have Avery there with me.”
“Good,” Keith said. “I think that kind of support from family is necessary. And I also agree with you about Kick. There’s probably nothing to worry about, so why freak the poor guy out.”
Sebastian glanced down at his torn shirt and said, “I wish I hadn’t worn this shirt today. It’s ruined.”
Keith laughed and said, “At least you’re okay.” Then he put his arm around him and said, “C’mon, I’ll walk you out. I’m sure they’re all pacing the floors out there. And if you need anything let me know. You know where to find me.”
As they crossed through the doorway, Sebastian said, “Thanks, Keith. I really appreciate you coming here today on such short notice, and I appreciate you getting me the appointment in Austin.”
Keith patted his back and said, “That’s my job, landlord. And this was actually my first time here and I think I’m going to like it a lot. It’s the first time I’ve had such a good feeling in a long time.”
“That’s so interesting,” Sebastian said. “I felt the same way when we first moved to Glendora Hill. Remind me to tell you the story someday. It’s very interesting, about how my uncle left me the building and a few little secrets.”
By the time they reached the middle of the hallway, Kick noticed them and he started running to his dad. Keith stepped back and let Kick put his arm around Sebastian, and then Avery walked over and he started asking questions. When Keith assured Avery that Sebastian hadn’t hurt himself in the fall, Avery thanked him and he put his arm around Sebastian. As they headed outside, where the crowd was still waiting to hear what had happened, Sebastian glanced back and Keith and winked.
Keith lifted his hand and made a telephone gesture, then he mouthed the words, “I’ll call you next week.”
Although Avery had cleared all the people from the waiting room, there was still one person left behind. As Avery, Sebastian, and Kick headed out, Ben Sanders appeared in the hallway with his hands in his pockets and a great big smile.
“You’re still here?” Keith said. He wasn’t sure what had happened to him. “You’ve been waiting for me all this time.”
Ben shrugged and said, “I thought we were going to the Glendora Hill Diner tonight for dinner. It’s a little early, but I’m starved.”
It was early for dinner, at least for Sebastian. He glanced at his watch and saw it was a little after six o’clock. In Chicago he’d never gone out to dinner a minute before eight pm. And if he did he never would have admitted that aloud to any of his gay friends. The gay men in his circles had dinner after eight, brunch after one on Sunday, and never showed up at a nightclub before midnight. But he was hungry, too, and he didn’t feel like waiting around until eight o’clock to eat. Ben looked so cute standing there rocking back and forth in his cowboy boots, he didn’t want to let him down.
“Just let me go back and get my chart,” he said. He wasn’t even certain about who had opened the clinic or whether he was responsible for closing it up now. He figured the person he’d noticed at the front desk in the waiting room would know. “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be here,” Ben said. “I can’t go anywhere anyway. You’re my ride. I left my car at the ranch.”
There had been so much happening Keith hadn’t thought about how Ben would get home. He didn’t mind driving him back to the ranch after dinner. Only he hoped he wouldn’t run into Judd again. So far he’d been in Glendora Hill for less than twenty-four hours and he’d had the best sex of his life with Judd and the most embarrassing emotional experiences. The last thing he wanted to do at that point was go for round three.