Category: amazon

Dr. Oz and FTC; Hugh Howey and Zonalert; Obama Executive Order and ENDA; Something For St. Jude by Ryan Field

Dr. Oz and FTC

Oprah talk show spinoff child, Dr. Mehmet Oz, recently came under fire with Congress for hocking diet concepts to consumers. One even went after him for allegedly praising products on his TV show designed to help people lose weight. I guess the difference between praise and endorsement is a gray area.

Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, acknowledged that his language about green coffee and other supplements has been “flowery” and promised to publish a list of specific products he thinks can help America shed pounds and get healthy – beyond eating less and moving more. On his show, he never endorsed specific companies or brands but more generally praised some supplements as fat busters.

McCaskill took Oz to task for a 2012 show in which he proclaimed that green coffee extract was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”

“I get that you do a lot of good on your show,” McCaskill told Oz, “but I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.”

Dr. Oz claims he’s never endorsed anything specific and if his name is attached to a product it’s been done against his wishes. There’s more here.

The FTC seems to be cracking down on a huge industry….magic weight loss. Of course we all know the only way to really lose weight and keep it off is absolutely free. Eat less.

Diets don’t work.

Side note: When it was announced a few years ago that Dr. Oz’s TV show would be airing in the Philadelphia area and they were moving Judge Judy out of that time slot for Dr. Oz, I stopped watching that channel for a long time. If they thought good old Oz would keep me there they had another thing coming. A few years later, Dr. Oz’s show has been buried somewhere else no one cares about and Judge Judy is right back in the best time slot where she belongs.

We like Judge Judy. We know where we stand with her.

Hugh Howey and Zonalert

I post on these topics as an exercise in objectivity. I like to think I can be objective as a blogger. Indie author, Hugh C. Howey, came under fire again with the anonymous watch dog web site, Zonalert, and this time it’s because Zonalert alleges thousands of reviews for Howey’s book were allegedly taken DOWN on Amazon. I’ve posted about Howey and Zonalert previously, here.

From the most recent post over at Zonalert:

As our reporting of Howey’s fraud grew traction, we noticed many of these early fake accounts began to quietly disappear. 387 disappeared over a two-month period in fact, largely we suspect due to Hugh Howey himself deleting the fake accounts to cover his tracks. To date, nearly a thousand such accounts have quietly disappeared in all. The more recent purges seem to be due to sites like Amazon identifying the fraud we’ve pointed out and taking action. Google Hugh Howey Fraud Zon Alert to see others who have joined our efforts to expose this fraudster.

In full disclosure, I was curious about Hugh Howey’s work so I read his book and reviewed it here. I gave it five stars and what I thought was one of my more positive reviews. I don’t know Howey, I’ve never met him in the past, and the odds of us ever meeting in the future either online or in person are slim to nothing. I would have no issue swearing to that on a stack of bibles on my death bed, and would go after anyone who suggested otherwise so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them. So I hope my review is still up there.

You can read more here. And you can read more about Hugh Howey here at his author page on The Nelson Agency web site. Excerpt from his bio page at the Nelson Agency:

That novel was WOOL. Kristin read it that night on her Kindle, and in a fit of shaking excitement, she emailed Hugh around one in the morning.

The Howey novel I reviewed was Wool, too (link above). I liked it but didn’t get a shaking fit, or any other kind of fit.

Off topic: the last time I had a fit of “shaking excitement” I was in my twenties and in the backseat of an old Mercury Cougar with an ex-marine who was engaged to be married. God help Nelson if SHE ever meets that marine.

Obama Executive Order and ENDA

In a more uplifting article with something positive about the government, it talks about how President Obama will be signing an executive order designed to protect LGBTI rights.

President Barack Obama is planning to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This came about as a result of Congress stalling on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. According to this piece, the executive order isn’t as thorough as ENDA but will provide needed protection that LGBTI people need now more than ever.

You can read the rest here.

I have to admit that this President seems to be doing more for LGBTI people than anyone in the history of this country.

Something for St. Jude by Ryan Field

This story was originally pubbed in an anthology by Alyson Publications. I released it as a .99 e-book and re-worked a few things in the process. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the conservative man or woman being seduced by the more aggressive sexual younger lover.

Jude Franklin lives a quiet conservative life in a small town in Wyoming. He’s head librarian, lives at home with his aging mother, and is terrified he’ll wind up like his spinster aunt…”Poor Patty Ann.” Though it’s too late for Jude to be considered a virgin, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life alone. The trouble is the one guy in town he’s attracted to is a handsome young library patron who also happens to work on a ranch on the edge of town. Only Jude knows he can’t have him, so he makes a drastic move and books a summer vacation on one of those gay cruise ships he’s read about millions of times. Little did he know love was waiting for him in the most unusual place, and he had to travel halfway around the world to figure it out.

One Amazon review:

Simple romance with great sex and a happily ever after. Jude leads a lonely life but finds happiness with a young cowboy.

The reviews for this book were mixed, which is the way book reviews should be for ALL books. There’s also one review that’s interesting because it came about as the result of a technical glitch in e-publishing beyond our control at the time. When Something For St. Jude was released it was lumped in with several other stories that weren’t supposed to be there. The reviewer actually helped me to see this with the review and I’ll always be grateful for that. I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Gay Marriage Continues; BEA 2014

Gay Marriage Continues

I think this is one of the best articles I’ve read that talks about how gay marriage is gaining strength everywhere thanks to last June’s SCOTUS ruling.

“With each one, it becomes harder for states to argue that these bans should be upheld, and it becomes harder for courts to uphold them,” says Camilla Taylor, marriage project director at Lambda Legal, one of several gay rights groups juggling multiple court cases. “No court wants to be the one court that got it wrong and upheld the discrimination.”

It becomes a legal issue, not a religious or moral issue, which is exactly what it should be.

You can read more here.

This comment is interesting:

“The test of success is not whether you win every single ruling in every single court,” says Evan Wolfson, who launched the advocacy group Freedom to Marry in 2003. “The test is whether you have the right answers, whether you have a critical mass of victories and whether you are conveying to the judges and justices that the country is ready.”

BEA 2014

Here are a few links for what’s happening at this year’s BEA (Book Expo America) in New York. This one is about debuts and breakouts. It also talks about advances, which many authors have been wondering about for the past few years.

One title where the advance became an early story is Matthew Thomas’s We Are Not Ourselves. Simon & Schuster’s Marysue Rucci plugged the debut novel, which she had acquired for a rumored seven figures at the 2013 London Book Fair, on the panel. While Rucci did discuss the author’s appealing rags-to-riches backstory—he worked on the novel for a decade and was living in a one bedroom apartment with his wife and twins when he sold the book in a splashy deal—she focused on the work itself. Calling the novel, about three generations of an Irish American family, “transcendent” and “one of the most beautiful and moving” books she has “ever read.”

It’s hard to comment on that without reading the book. But seven figures? And frankly, most writers have rags-to-riches stories, at least most of the writers I know do. I wish I could get more excited about this.

This next article is a little odd, too. There’s this guy who comes from old money who decided to live like the common folk live. I guess because he was tired of money and he wanted to struggle like everyone else…like those who don’t have the choice?

He tells Show Daily: “I wanted to write a comedy about money. I think it’s one of the few taboos left, and it’s an important subject. The decisions people make about money are really philosophical choices that affect lots of things.”

He traveled the world, went from terrible job to job, and returned to write a book about private clubs. He took a sabbatical from old money…I guess.  He allegedly writes about the private clubs of the most elite where they don’t even talk about money openly. I guess he’s trying to market this to those who don’t have mortgages, and those who don’t have to deal with finding affordable health insurance?

In any event, this is what he plans to do at BEA:

“As for Book Expo, I intend to eat up the whole place.”

No comment. It might be the best book ever written, or that ever will be written. I just hope he’s figured out a way to “eat up” the vipers on Amazon and Goodreads.

Now this article talks about something interesting for a change. I’ve mentioned my brother (the gay one) who lives in New York and in this building, which is only blocks from the Javits Center where BEA is held. The article talks about the High Line, which isn’t far from the Javits Center. I was there a few times recently with Tony and my brother and loved it. The photo above was taken by me and the high line is not far from there.

Step outdoors and you’ll see a massive construction project unfolding in the new district known as Hudson Yards. It embraces 360 acres, stretching north to 43rd Street and extending from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River, but its beating heart is the rail yards that wrap around the northern end of the High Line. Michael Bloomberg called this patch of real estate, which is twice as big as Rockefeller Center, Manhattan’s “last frontier.”

 And, of course, here’s a BEA related article about those big old meanies, Amazon. It mentions the recent issues between Hachette and Amazon, and questions whether or not anyone will ever be able to compete with Amazon.

Research conducted in March by the Codex Group found that in the month Amazon’s share of new book unit purchases was 41%, dominating 65% of all online new book units, print and digital. The company achieved that percentage by not only being the largest channel for e-books, where it had a 67% market share in March, but also by having a commanding slice of the sale of print books online, where its share in March was estimated at 64%.

It’s hard to comment on it because Amazon must be doing something right. I truly wish big publishers would get their acts together and stop looking so backward and antiquated.

This last piece I’m linking to about BEA talks about two panels that discuss YA and Middle Grade books.

Ehrenhaft will share his enthusiasm for a debut novel by an author who has often been in a different spotlight. A member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a multi-Grammy winner, Cynthia Weil has written (along with Barry Mann, her writing partner and husband) such classic songs as “On Broadway,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” Set in 1963 Manhattan, her novel, I’m Glad I Did, tells of a young songwriter who must untangle a sinister web of hidden identities and dark secrets surrounding a legendary former nightclub singer.

Some of the titles look very interesting. I’m actually a huge fan of reading YA and Middle Grade crossovers. YA author Michael Northrope is one of my favorite authors. I’ve also read Nathan Bransford’s first Middle Grade book and loved it because of the writing. The problem now is that there’s so much competition out there with indie authors who are absolutely relentless in their quest to sell books. It’s become a vicious nightmare for the honest author who is only trying to get his or her book our there to readers. I’ve seen some of these indie vipers and what they are capable of, and this also includes many authors with some of these sleazy start up digital presses who have a cult-like appeal. I’ve seen them tell their readers they have cancer and two days later claim is was all a huge mistake. Praise the Lord I’ve Had a Miracle! And the readers believe them…they do, indeed actually buy all of it. I’ve seen them flock together and work their readers to the point where I often wonder if what they do is legal.

At first I used to think that these bottom feeder indie authors would just disappear eventually. And actually most of them do vanish in time. But the problem is that when the old vipers disappear a whole new breed of aggressive snakes take their place it the cycle starts all over again.

I really feel for the new honest author out there…indie or trad pubbed…who has to learn how to deal with the ethical decisions that come up almost daily with book promotion. But even more important, I worry that we’re losing a lot of good authors because they just don’t want to deal with the subterfuge anymore.


Porn’s Chris Harder; Death of LGBT Publishing?

Porn’s Chris Harder

Here’s a link to an article, below, that’s written by a gay porn star, Chris Harder, about the typical day of a porn star. He eats nothing but chicken all week long, goes to Duane Reade for fleet enemas (yup), and shops seventh avenue for jock strap fabric. It’s actually very well written, and far more humble (and humorous) than anything I’ve read in a long time. I don’t even know who he is and I like him already.

7:30 a.m. :
I’m up. That’s right, I’m not going to bed, I’m up and staggering into the kitchen, starting my morning ritual which almost always begins with a cup of coffee. If I’m lucky, I’ll beat my roommate into the bathroom (he works a 9-5 for a publicity agency) and if not, I’ll hop around in my Mr. Peanut’s pyjama pants trying not to focus on the dribbling sound of the percolator in the background. Today is a busy day. I have “city errands” and a training session plus a double booking in the evening. I’m also trying to wrap up a party I’m throwing next week and finalize my own bookings for the following month.

I really like pieces like this because we often get conflicting impressions about those who work in any area of the adult entertainment industry. We also get a lot of attitude and judgment from those who don’t particularly care for the adult entertainment industry and I think well written pieces like this disabuse so many of the critics by showing instead of telling. In a way I understand a lot of the things people like Harder go through because I write erotic gay romance. I have to admit that Harder sounds a lot more patient than I am.

You can read more here, and check out Chris Harder’s web site here.

Death of LGBT Publishing?

When I read pieces like this I often just shake my head and wonder WTF? Are they serious? They’re talking about the death of the LGBT publishing industry and never before has there been a better time for LGBT writers? Not longer than ten years ago the only LGBT writers who succeeded in getting a single author title published were those with the right connections and the biggest mouths…the pushiest annoying ones who knew how to work it the best. The rest of the LGBT writers were lucky if they submitted a short story to a small press anthology and got paid a $50.00 flat fee…months after the book was actually released and making money for the publisher. Oh, isn’t THAT a great system?

And what about reader choices? Well, we were limited to what “they” wanted us to read, which was usually nothing but dark, depressing quirky content that catered to those on the fringes.    

Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia is the oldest and possibly largest LGBT bookstore in the nation. And now, after four decades, it’s closing. This news should make everyone involved in the business of LGBT literature — publishers, editors, authors, reviewers, and, of course, readers — pause and consider what this means for the future of their industry.

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, because I have personally never seen such a boom in LGBT publishing in the twenty plus years I’ve worked as an author and editor. The competition is astounding. The connection to readers is even more spectacular. I’ve met closeted Amish men reading LGBT fiction on tablets they keep hidden, straight women from the UK and other countries, and so many others I could fill this page with examples. There are LGBT presses with stables of authors writing LGBT content, all getting a chance at their dream. There are readers who are buying ten or more books each week and devouring LGBT content. I’ve even seen kickstarter campaigns raise large sums of money for LGBT indie authors working on some extremely serious social material. The only thing that’s dying is the old gatekeeper system that was designed to keep most LGBT writers out and only a select handful in…not to mention the fact that most (not all) literary agents wouldn’t even touch most LGBT writers ten years ago.

The author of the piece blames Amazon for all this, of course. But doesn’t mention how many books LGBT writers sell at allromanceebooks.com…or Smashwords…or right from the publisher’s web site. But the most shocking thing to me is this about LGBT writers in the Philadelphia area:

Local authors will be hurt. Many of these write series, such as mysteries — and readers, many of whom do not depend on the Internet for their book news, would learn of a new title in the series only by seeing it on the shelf. Ed gave local authors prominence: window displays and stacking by the register. Amazon will give them nothing, perhaps not even mention of Philadelphia. These authors will see their royalties dip significantly.

I’m a local author. I live in the Philadelphia suburb of New Hope, PA. I’ve been working so hard on novels with gay content for the past seven years Tony and I haven’t taken a vacation other than 3 days in Vermont to get married in seven years. I work with e-publishers, European publishers, and I also indie publish a lot of my own work. I’m part of an indiegogo campaign with a Hollywood studio that’s producing a documentary about same sex marriage in Vermont and I’ll be offering a novel in support. As for royalties, I recently saw a gay author on social media claim that because his last royalty check was so good he can now afford that new Mac he’s been wanting for so long. I see similar things from many other gay authors. But more important, there’s never before been a better time for straight women authors writing gay content, especially m/m romance. I know one who was able to quit her day job and write full time.

So while I am sorry to see Giovanni’s room shutter this month, I’m sorrier for nostalgic reasons because this is the end of an era we won’t see return. I do feel bad about that. But in a way it was this very same system that kept places like Givoanni’s room open for so long that also kept many LGBT writers hidden from view and silenced because they were not chosen as the select few to be published. In many cases it was a matter of luck. And now that technology has changed that, and the way people read and shop for their books has changed (in all genres), I think we’re only beginning to see a new era in LGBT publishing, with more writers and voices than we’ve ever seen before.

The death of Giovanni’s Room isn’t merely a stab at the heart of a community in Philadelphia; it’s one more victim of an ailment that sickens us all.

It’s also a good example of how times change, we all move forward, and nothing remains the same.

You can read the entire piece here. My comments were not designed as a rant, not by any means. He does make a few interesting points in some places. I only wanted to point out that in a general sense most of the changes I’ve seen in LGBT publishing have been for the best, not the worst. I actually never thought I would live long enough to see so many LGBT writers get a voice, publish their books, and sell their books. I also never thought I’d live long enough to see so many straight people reading LGBT content. And I don’t take that lightly, not for one single moment.

Anne Rice on Bullies-Free Speech; Cover Preview; Log Cabin Gays

Anne Rice on Bullies-Free Speech

It’s no secret Anne Rice has been outspoken about bullies, especially those she considers bully book reviewers on Amazon. According to this article below, she recently signed a petition at Change.org titled, Take a Stand Against Cyber Bullies. The petition seems to have been started by someone named Todd Barselow. So far, there are close to 3,000 signatures at the time of this post.

From what I gather, they are petitioning Amazon and Jeff Bezos to remove anonymity and to require identification with regard to reviews and Amazon forums.

I believe, as do countless others—many who will have signed this petition—that the reason this bullying and harassment is able to take place is because of the allowance of anonymity on Amazon. People have found ways to exploit this flaw in the system and are using it to bully, harass, and generally make life miserable for certain authors on Amazon.

In this article, the bully issues Anne Rice has had to handle are discussed in detail. And why she feels so strongly about this.

“My experience with the gangster bullies in the forum has been very bleak and ugly,” Rice writes on the petition to Amazon. “I post there under my own name. They blatantly violate your guidelines with personal insults and harassing posts. If you would only apply your own guidelines this would greatly help. I feel a lot of these people are obsessive abusers who have found some sort of dark home on Amazon tormenting writers. I urge you to take action.”

I’ve posted on the bully topic several times. This link will lead you to multiple posts I’ve written. With regard to book reviews and bullies I’ve always remained objective as a blogger. But I’ve also personally experienced similar situations with bullies that Rice and many other authors have experienced and I’ve always remained quiet about it. The first time it happened to me was about five or six years ago and it wasn’t on Amazon. It was at a vicious book review web site that used authors as bait to get attention and garner hits in a sensationalized way. Since that time that particular blogger has been kicked out of organizations and exposed as a bully, and as a result I doubt the blogger’s reputation will ever be the same again. She’s trying to rebound. But to most she’ll always be that same bully.

The second time I experienced bullying I contacted the police and they handled it. At that point, I decided it was out of my hands and I would let a professional do the work. It was handled quietly and the bullying stopped. What most people don’t realize today is that most local police stations have a cyber crime division and they are more than willing to help people involved in bully situations. If I ever feel as if I’m being bullied again, I’ll contact the police again. Plain and simple.

However, as much as I despise bullying in any form, from book reviews to those who like to bully on political topics, I didn’t sign the petition Rice seems to be promoting. I once posted that I thought the bully issue could be solved by removing anonymity and requiring identification just as the petition I linked to above reads. At the time, I thought it would work. But I received so many e-mails from my readers on that topic I eventually changed my mind. People who read gay fiction, erotic romance, m/m romance, or anything else that might be considered a *discreet* genre feel more comfortable leaving reviews with pen names or anonymously. Most authors in discreet genres use pen names. It’s hard enough to get reviews as it is, and I don’t want to discourage readers by taking away the right to review with discretion. I have always encouraged anonymous comments here on this blog because I respect that discretion and I don’t want to silence anyone’s right to free speech. I do moderate to keep things civil, but I’ve never had to censor more than a handful of comments I didn’t think were appropriate. In other words, if you disagree with me I’ll post your comment anyway as long as you’re civil about it.

This bully issue is a complicated matter and I don’t think there’s quick fix. I do think that places like Amazon should moderate all reviews with more care, even those reviews that are fake and were paid for by authors to gain higher ratings and ranks. The corruption with book reviews isn’t just limited to bullying, and it’s NOT just limited to Amazon. It covers a much wider territory, and it all needs to be addressed. If I were Jeff Bezos I would be obsessed about it to the point where I used it to my advantage as a business professional, making Amazon a safe place to read or leave reviews either anonymously or with real names. I would look for the sharpest young tech pros I could get fresh out of college and put them to work. And my goal wouldn’t be to censor free speech, but to moderate civil discussion.

So it’s easy for Anne Rice to sign a petition that calls for the removal of anonymity and requires identification, without taking free speech into consideration or how important anonymity is for many readers who aren’t bullies and who prefer to remain discreet. But it’s not that simple for me. As much as I despise anything even remotely connected to bullying, I don’t want to take that right away from my readers.

If you are an author who writes in a discreet genre, I urge you to consider all the options before you sign the petition. You might be silencing the free speech of the very readers who would leave you good, honest reviews, too.

Update: The signatures for this petition just keep increasing in number and I’m starting to see this all over social media. Evidently, this issue is very important to people and I’m now starting to wonder if Amazon will actually address it. In spite of my own misgivings, I’m leaning toward signing it more each day just because so many people feel so passionate about it. And I’ve always believed in doing what’s best for the majority, as a rule.

Cover Preview

This is an unusual cover preview for me because it’s not finalized yet, but I wanted to share because readers tell me they like being involved in the process. I often drive cover artists up the wall with these things, and this is just one example of how I torture those wonderful people to the point of frustration. These are two examples, out of ten others I won’t post now 🙂

When I say I’m having a blast with indie publishing I’m never joking about that. A publisher would never allow me to drive them this crazy.

Log Cabin Gays

For those who may not know this, the Log Cabin organization is a group of all gay Republicans. I don’t know why I find this so fascinating, but I do. I don’t get political here on the blog, but I have stated I’m a registered Democrat who usually votes independently. I find that on a local level I can’t always stick to one party because some local Republicans are often more open-minded about issues I find important. I think if you live in a larger city it’s different. But in small towns like New Hope, PA, there really are about 50 shades of gray.

Log Cabin Republicans executive director Gregory T Angelo made the announcement in a column for the Daily Caller in which he decried CPAC organizers the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) failure to allow gay conservatives to participate openly in the conference’s program of events.

You can read more here. If you’re open-minded to all things political like I try to be, I think you might find this interesting. There’s also a brief history about the Log Cabin Republicans and Abe Lincoln’s alleged gay relationship.


Disney Dumps Boy Scouts; Dancing with Cats; Audible Lowers Royalties



Disney Dumps Boy Scouts

Due to the ban the Boy Scouts of America have with regard to not allowing openly gay leaders and employees, Walt Disney World in Florida has discontinued contributions to local Boy Scout chapters. (You can be an openly gay Boy Scout…until you’re eighteen, and then it stops.)

Disney World, located in Orlando, did not make an announcement regarding its dumping of BSA. Reuters reports that the news came via an email to local members from Scouts’ Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey.

Utsey wrote: ‘We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial  support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go.

Once again, the right to freedom of speech is a wonderful thing that often comes with consequences. Especially when that freedom of speech is geared toward anything discriminatory or defamatory. And Disney can choose to donate its money wherever it wants. Just as the Boy Scouts can continue to discriminate against gays.

You can read more here.

Dancing with Cats

I’m not always a huge fan of book trailers because I’ve seen authors spend way too much money and they’ll never see a return on that investment. I rarely buy a book because of a book trailer. But I also think that sometimes some book trailers work and this is one of them.

Chronicle Books is releasing a  15th anniversary edition of Dancing With Cats.

The book, which was originally published in 1999, is dedicated to photos of humans dancing with cats. The book sold more than 100,000 copies, in an era when Internet was less widely adopted and before Keyboard Cat hit the scene.

To celebrate the anniversary of the book and the latest edition, the publisher has created a playful book trailer. We’ve embedded the video above for your entertainment.

This not only proves that sometimes book trailers work, but also that some books are timeless.

You can read more here. You can watch the trailer, too.

Audible Lowers Royalties

Audible is a web site where publishers and self-published authors can launch the audio versions of their books. I don’t know much about it personally because I only have one on audible, An Officer and His Gentleman and it was launched through a publisher. It’s one area of self-publishing I haven’t ventured into yet because I’m not certain there’s a huge market for it. But I’m really not sure and I haven’t discounted doing more on Audible by any means. Most of all, I think it could be fun. In the past, several readers have told me they’ve listened to my book on audio and enjoyed it.

Amazon owns Audible. They purchased it not too long ago and launched the ACX Platform. Amazon has recently lowered royalties.

Up until now, Amazon was offering an escalating rate of 50%–90% on ACX titles sold exclusively; now it is dropping the rate to a non-escalating 40%.

You can check out the link above, but that’s about it for now. There are, however, several other news briefs with that link that are interesting. I like Publisher’s Weekly, but it is paid content and I know most of my blog readers don’t have memberships.

As I said, I have no idea how this will affect authors. But I do predict that Amazon will continue to lower royalty rates as time passes. I have no comment on that one way or the other. It is what it is.


Penis Politics; 1-800-Flowers, Rush Limbaugh; Huge Tech Firms Ruling Us

Penis Politics

This article to which I’m linking talks about the way some gay men tend to exaggerate when it comes to penis size. And, how studies have shown penis size has a direct correlation to capitalism and money. It also discusses Grindr and how it’s hard to depend on anything at a glance, so to speak. But most of all, it talks about the unrealistic expectations most gay men have when it comes to penis politics.

Instead of holding out for an unrealistic fantasy, Justin Huang believes gay men should start embracing each other for exactly who they are. “Gay men need to stop expecting each other to be porn stars,” Huang said. “If you dump a guy just because of his penis size, you are an asshole. So if you love your man, tell him that you like his penis. After all, when you’re dating a guy, you’re dating two people: You’re dating him and you’re dating his penis. We need to start valuing and appreciating both of them.”

What Huang says makes perfect sense, and for the most part I think this is something gay men learn as they grow and mature. In other words, after you’ve gone through enough bad partners because of your unrealistic expectations (and judgments) there comes a time in life when you start to realize you have to stop thinking that way. It happens to most of us under the age of thirty. My grandmother, in her blunt way, used to have an old saying about this: if you want to live happily ever after you’d better lower your God damn standards or you’re going to wind up old and alone.

You can read more about penis politics here.

1-800-Flowers, Rush Limbaugh

I guess you can’t be too careful about anything these days. Last week I ordered a flower arrangement for Valentine’s Day from 1-800-Flowers.com to be delivered to my mom from Tony and me. I’ve used them before, most recently in December for two gay friends…a couple who’ve been together for over thirty years…who got married in New Jersey. When my mom got the arrangement she sent me an e-photo and I posted that on Facebook with a comment about 1-800-Flower.com. One of my FB friends saw it an commented that 1-800-Flowers is a major advertiser for none other than anti-gay Rush Limbaugh.

I did a simple search and found this:

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, this is to remind consumers, that after spotlighting these three Limbaugh sponsors last week, they have all chosen to ignore the thousands of requests to move their ads from just one show. They have opted to support his racism, sexism, bigotry, gay-hating and smut for the chance to make a few more dollars. In the end, they lose.

One of the three sponsors is 1-800-Flowers.

Then I found this:

Many of you may be contemplating ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to remind you that when you place an order with 1800Flowers you are helping to support Rush Limbaugh.
Help spread the word and buy your flowers elsewhere.

I only wish I’d known before I placed the order. There are plenty of  supportive florists right here in Bucks County, PA I would have used had I known 1-800-Flowers supports anti-gay pundits. And while I have no issue with Limbaugh or 1-800-Flowers exercising their right to free speech, I personally will never support 1-800-Flowers again in response to their free speech. I think I have a right to free speech, too, last I heard.

I’m not a huge fan of boycotts. I’m not sure they work and they aren’t always productive. However, in this case, knowing how Rush Limbaugh takes advantage of his platform to sensationalize and spread hate for money (because he knows he can), it would be counter-productive to support any business affiliated with the likes of Rush Limbaugh. And for the record, I’m not a huge fan of any pundits or circus clowns. I’m not even fond of Rachel Maddow. They will do anything for money, and unlike prostitution what they do is legal.

Stay away from 1-800-Flowers and pundits making millions of dollars at our expense.

 Huge Tech Firms Ruling Us

This next article talks about how large tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google are continuously branching out into new fields and slowly taking control of everything in sight. It’s reaching a point where it’s getting harder for smaller companies to compete.

Increasingly, American technology is dominated by a handful of companies allied to a small but powerful group of investors and serial entrepreneurs. These firms and individuals certainly compete but largely only with other members of their elite club. And while top executives and investors move from one firm to another, the big companies have constrained competition for those below the executive tier with gentleman’s agreements not to recruit each other’s top employees.

This is a long and in-depth article that covers a lot of ground, from the way Amazon is getting into space travel, to the way our geographical power centers like NY and LA have shifted to places like Silicon Valley, to how journalism and news is changing almost daily.

While there is no way to stop this kind of progress, I don’t always understand why consumers are so faithful to some of these companies. It’s just as easy to order from a smaller online business as it is from a mega tech firm. Maybe it’s time for a consumer watch for all purchases online, where there are guides and examples to show consumers they are NOT at the mercy of these big companies and the more they fuel them the harder it’s going to be for smaller online retailers.

You can rad more here.

Amazon Alternate Universe; The Fosters; LGBTI Arrests in Russia

Amazon Alternate Universe

I’m not clear on this, so I’m just posting facts. The article to which I’m linking talks about how Amazon is having success with alternate universe fiction…which is like fan fiction, but not absolute fan fiction. (I think)

Here’s an explanation that might put all this into perspective. I’m not going to attempt to define it in a short post.

Also, the article to which I’m linking mentions author, Hugh C. Howey. I’ve posted about him before, here, with regard to alleged (keep in mind alleged is the key word and nothing has been proven by any means) paid book reviews and aggressive author promotion that includes influencers. He’s one of the alleged amazon .99 millionaires and works with literary agent, Kristin Nelson, in Denver. The Nelson Agency was one of the first to start an e-publishing service for its clients/authors, working with clients in partnership to self-pub digital books. NLA’s Digital Liaison Platform was mentioned in a post here, by Nelson, that discusses how literary agents are changing with the times.

And then Amazon.com opened a creative door for him (Howey). The book-publishing unit at the online retail giant created an imprint devoted to fan fiction, Kindle Worlds, last May. Fan fiction is often dismissed as mediocre writing by wannabe authors.

If there is a bottom line to all this, I think it has to do with the fact that readers want these books and they don’t always care as much about originality as they do about storyline. Readers want to be entertained. I know a lot of writers who have a problem with it. I don’t. If readers want this I see no reason why they shouldn’t get it.

Amazon is betting its alternative universe will succeed because its business model is different. The company doesn’t need blockbusters to offset the duds in its library. That’s because the lion’s share of the books it publishes are read digitally. Amazon doesn’t have to worry about printing costs, distributing books to stores and buying back unsold books from those stores.

You can read more here. It will be interesting to see if this really does take off. I have a few alternate universe stories I’d like to execute but I’ve been fearful of the review police who might try to shoot me down. And they do that, especially if you aren’t a promotion aggressive author like me who is willing to do anything to get reviews. I also have to make a point of actually reading one of Hugh Howey’s books to see what everyone’s talking about. When I do, I’ll post a full review here on the blog.

The Fosters

Friends of mine turned me on to a new TV show called, The Fosters. It’s about a same-gender couple fostering kids and it’s breaking many gender boundaries, educating people, and getting into topics we normally don’t see anywhere.

There are two people in the picture above. Callie is on the left. She is a young, straight woman who was born female and identifies as such (also known as ‘cisgender’). She’s bounced from foster home to foster home with her little brother, always with a protective watch over him. She is currently living with the Fosters, a same-gender couple, and is “in love” with one of her foster brothers. Unless you watch the show, how could you know such personal details? Is it visible? Can you just “sense” it, whatever that means? No? Ok.

You can read more here, and check The Fosters out on the ABC Family Channel. It airs Monday nights, 9/8c.

LGBTI Arrests in Russia

Unless you read publications that are LGBTI oriented you are not going to get all the news about what’s happening in Russia during the Olympics. On Friday, more than a dozen LGBTI activists were arrested in Red Square and why they were arrested is sketchy at best.

Police arrested 10 activists near Moscow’s Red Square who held rainbow flags as they sung the Russian national anthem just before the games opened. Authorities have released the advocates, but reports indicate police beat and threatened to sexually assault them while they were in custody.

I’ve read various comments about them being arrested because they didn’t have permission to protest. But even if that is the case an arrest is something completely different from sexual assault and beatings.

Unfortunately, it might take months to find out what really happened. And that will be long after everyone has forgotten about how “exciting” and “heartwarming” the Olympic games actually are.

You can read more here.