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Peculiar Author Predictions for 2014; Amazon Pulls Anti Gay Book?

Peculiar Author Predictions for 2014

Although they are not the grand publishing predictions of author Joe Konrath for 2014, there’s something unsettling about how American scientist and sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov, nailed more than a few predictions over fifty years ago that have actually been realized today.

One of which is…

“By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use.”

You may not realize what electroluminescent panels are, but these thin, bright panels are used in retail displays, signs, lighting and flat panel TVs.

There’s a list of several others, along with a few things he mentioned that didn’t come true.

You can read more here.

My predictions:

I predict more and more LGBTI celebrities will come out this year, George Clooney will remain a bachelor, we’ll see even more nude male calendars for the holiday season of 2014, the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey will suck but will garner millions at the box office, and there will still be people writing about how e-books are only a passing trend.

Amazon Pulls Anti-Gay Book?

Actually, not. According to this article it wasn’t Amazon that pulled an allegedly anti-gay book it was the publisher.

But after contacting Amazon, GSN was told it was in fact the publishers that chose to no longer stock the book on the website. 

Author and anti-gay radio host, Linda Harvey, wrote a book that suggests parents should ignore gay kids in what sounds like an attempt to pretend it’s not there. It really doesn’t make sense to me, but there’s something about parents telling kids to realize their bright futures and not to pay attention to the fact that they might be gay. I could be wrong, but it’s really not all that clear.

On coming out, Harvey says many young people think it is a ‘new civil right’ to be ‘who you are’. ‘But there’s a problem. Are we sure this is the truth?’ she says. ‘Does this identity bring the promised liberation and the key to a whole new life?

I don’t get it. You’re either gay or you’re not. If you’re a young adult male and you’re attracted to women nothing is going to change that. The same thing goes if you’re a young adult male and you’re attracted to men. At least that’s how I remember it when I was a young adult male. I know for some there are gay areas, but for most there aren’t.

In any event, Harvey has made claims there is no proof there ever was a gay young adult or kid. Well, I’m living proof, Harvey, and that’s all you need to know. I knew it at three years old, but I went to proms with women, pretended to like women, and didn’t come out until my early twenties. All that didn’t scar me for life and I actually do have fond memories of my prom night and my high school years, but I would rather have gone to the prom with a football player than one of the cheerleaders if I had had the choice back then.

You can read more of this here.  

Judith Regan CEO; Independent Booksellers Lose; App For Kids

Judith Regan CEO

I haven’t seen much about Regan in the news since that debacle with the O.J. Simpson book she tried to get pubbed a few years ago, a book for which she was eventually fired. But she’s back in the headlines and she’s just been named CEO of a new division at Phaidon called “Regan Arts.”

Regan, who has a reputation as a publisher of highly commercial work, was infamously fired in 2006 from her job overseeing an eponymous imprint at HarperCollins, Regan Books, over conflicts with Rupert Murdoch and then HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman after Regan acquired the O.J. Simpson book, If I Did It. Regan’s past hits run the gamut from lauded literary fiction by authors like Wally Lamb to books by celebrities and pop culture fixtures, such as the burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese, and the talk show host, Howard Stern.

I’ve always found her drive refreshing and I think we need more like her in publishing. You can read more here.

Independent Booksellers Lose

A federal judge, Jed Rakoff, recently dismissed a case with a lawsuit filed by independent booksellers targeting Amazon and the biggest publishers. Judge Rakoff saw no supporting evidence or viable motive to continue. So he tossed it.

“The evasiveness of this allegation is remarkable,” Rakoff wrote in dismissing the booksellers’ claim. “Plaintiffs do not allege an unlawful agreement, only vague ‘oral discussions or agreements regarding the use of restrictive DRM.’ Plaintiffs do not even allege that any such discussions or agreements actually occurred, only that they may have occurred. And plaintiffs do not specify who participated in these hypothetical discussions or agreements, only that they may have involved ‘one or more’ of the Publishers and Amazon.”

You can read more here. The allegation is interesting.

App For Kids

Oxford University has a new App for kids that’s supposed to help them with spelling. It’s interesting because in a way it shows how even the youngest children are going digital instead of print…in spite of all the reports we often hear.

The app features a parrot named Pip who does somersaults when the player correctly places a letter. When the word is misspelled, he squawks and loses a feather. Pip serves as a kind of guide through a jungle of letters and spelling games. The app has more than 3,000 words, all of which were taken from the Oxford’s First Dictionary. The app is Oxford University Press’ first children’s dictionary app.

My prediction is this is the first of many to come, and we’ll see kids reading and learning even more digitally. You can read more here.

Self-Published Authors Big Sales; Baker Scorns Gay Cakes

Self-Published Authors Big Sales

I’ve been saving this to post because I wanted to read it over first. It’s interesting because it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this, and I never actually thought I would (in my lifetime). Things are changing, and fast. If it’s accurate, and I have no reason to believe it’s not, one quarter of Amazon the top 100 kindle books are self-published.

Orna Ross, director of the Alliance of UK Independent Authors, said this:

“We are in the middle of a major change. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we reached a situation where the majority of the top books are author-published. I don’t see what would stop that,” Ross said.

That’s a strong comment I don’t think I would have made at this point. But she could be right. Who knows?

The article goes deeper into why this is, and explains a few things with examples. I would recommend reading it if you are interested in self-publishing, if you have already self-published, or if you are still a snob about self-publishing and think that your small start up e-press is going to make you look better. I’m not being snarky about that. I’ve seen small writers with small presses turn their noses up at self-published writers more than once and I don’t think they are getting the full impact of why we’re starting to self-publish. I’m going to write a longer post on this and give a few more reasons why I was forced to self-publish very soon. And I’m not saying that lightly. I would prefer to work with a publisher at all times. However, things came up that left me no alternative but to self-publish, and a good deal of that was because of my readers. Different authors work in different ways. I’m more of a reader oriented author, and my readers come first. The publisher doesn’t. And I expect certain things from publishers, big or small, that I don’t often see.

In any event, you can read more here.

Baker Scorns Gay Cakes

A Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay ceremony was ordered by a judge they have to serve the gay couples. Judge Robert N. Spencer ruled the baker will face fines if he doesn’t follow the law.

 An attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Shop owner Jack Phillips had argued that making cakes for gay wedding ceremonies violates his Christian beliefs.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.

Tony recently had a cake made for our anniversary and to celebrate our upcoming marriage. The baker was so excited he made it his top priority. Why we live here instead of there. And if a bakery in New Hope were to pull something like this, they’d be out of business within six months.

You can read more here.

American Horror Story: Bestiality, Incest, Pedophilia…Huh?

American Horror Story: Bestiality, Incest, Pedophilia…Huh?


For the past couple of weeks I’ve been posting about my own experiences with censorship at retail web sites where e-books are sold like Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords. These web sites started censoring self-published e-books thanks to an article in a questionable UK publication called The Kernel. The self-published e-books targeted allegedly contained topics like rape, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, and other topics most romance publishers will not publish. As a result, several web sites removed all self-pubbed titles to suss out the e-books with “taboo” topics. One web site even shut down. Amazon started clearing out their “taboo” topics through search engines, and e-books without the said “taboo” topics were removed for no reason, and without a viable explanation. And guess what I saw last night on American Horror Story: bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.

This article I’m linking to now discusses American Horror Story in an almost light-hearted way. If an author of erotic romance were to do this he/she would be slammed from one end of the Internet to the other.

Death, incest, bestiality, the gang’s all here!

We’re sure this is going to be a weekly occurence, but American Horror Story: Coven had its most insane outing yet on Oct. 23 with “The Replacements,” which found Supreme witch Fiona (Jessica Lange) making her first big kill of the season in an attempt to protect her witchy throne. Plus, the recently-resurrected Kyle (Evan Peters) finally spoke and one of the girls got a little too close to the Minotaur monster for our comfort. Seriously, does anyone have brain soap?!

I did see the show last night and I just sat there watching it wondering how the fuck they can get away with all this on TV and authors like me who don’t even go near “taboo” topics like that have been dealing with the worst brand of censorship since PayPal in 2012. I’m not judging American Horror Story and I’m not judging authors, publishers, or e-books that contain these “taboo” topics. However, I am questioning the actions of the large retail web sites where e-books are sold who made these recent mass sweeps of all books without taking into consideration that many of the books in question never violated one single guideline. I had a book removed from Amazon titled, “Internal Desires,” and the reason why it was removed was because of words like “young” in the book description. And the characters in that book were all well over the legal age limit and it contained nothing that’s considered “taboo.” This week I had a book titled, “Young Doughy Joey,” taken down at another web site for the same reason. It contained nothing “taboo.”

So in their quest to censor the “taboo” topics all authors are now targets of retail web sites where e-books are sold, innocent words like young have become “taboo,” and we’ve basically entered a police state where freedom of speech means nothing anymore.

And the most ironic thing of all is bestiality, incest, pedophilia, and other “taboo” topics are now being treated lightly on television and no one seems to find any fault in that at all. As I said, I’m not judging American Horror Story. They have every right to do what they want. But when I saw one scene where one character lifted her dress, crudely shoved her fingers between her legs, and invited some kind of half man half beast to have sex with her I cringed for several reasons. One, I cringed for the actress. She’s not very good, and that scene seemed to diminish her even more. Two, I cringed because the producer of the show took advantage of a young woman’s need for love and turned it into something disgusting with an animal. Three, because it took the character completely out of context. And four, because television shows like American Horror Story make millions of dollars and small self-published authors who don’t write about bestiality, incest, and pedophilia, and who struggle to make ends meet just to pay for copy editors, can’t even use words like young anymore without fearing their books will be censored by Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords.

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out with e-books. And even more interesting to see what “taboo” topic Ryan Murphy will sensationalize and diminish next.

Photo of Mr. Murphy, here.

Mixed Reviews for "The Butler" Book on Amazon

Mixed Reviews for The Butler Book on Amazon

There are 120 reader reviews for The Butler on Amazon as of right now. There are 37 5 star reviews, 10 4 star, 21 3 star, 19 2 star, and 33 1 star reviews. The main reason why I’m curious about the reviews is that I’ve been thinking about buying the book because I love things like this, and reading about topics that deal with civil rights and the entire movement.

However, two family members recently bought The Butler and both said the same thing at two different times. They were disappointed because it was so short, they were disappointed with the content and wanted to read more about Eugene Allen, and they both felt as if they had paid too much money to read a digital book that felt more like the advertisement for a film.

And from what I’ve read in the lower ratings a lot of Amazon readers seem to agree with the two people I know.

 A complete waste of money. Nothing more than a promo news release for the movie. This is the worst excuse for a book I’ve ever read. Read the movie reviews, you’ll get more out if it for nothing.

And this one is similar to the one above, and many others:

Very disappointing waste of money. I hoped to read the book before seeing the movie. The book was essentially how the movie was made and not the story itself.

On the other hand, there are matched 5 star reviews to the 1 star reviews. Some are long and politically charged, and I passed them over because I was more interested in reading about the book, not someone’s personal political opinions. But not all of them are political. This 5 star review is excellent as far as reviews go. Frankly, I think it’s better than the book’s product description.

Contrary to some readers’ expectations, this is not a novelization of the film. It’s the author’s firsthand account of finding and befriending the real-life butler and his family, paired with an illuminating essay on black representation in Hollywood. Haygood’s words are chosen with economy and care. He distills emotion masterfully, never belaboring the story’s significance or reducing the butler himself to a symbol. He emerges, like the book itself, as courtly but containing multitudes. A short read that lingers long in the heart.

Now, take into consideration I know nothing about the book and I depend on the book product description to know what it’s about.

Description:

From Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow Wil Haygood comes a mesmerizing inquiry into the life of Eugene Allen, the butler who ignited a nation’s imagination and inspired a major motion picture: Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the highly anticipated film that stars six Oscar winners, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey (honorary and nominee), Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Redgrave, and Robin Williams; as well as Oscar nominee Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Alan Rickman, and Liev Schreiber. With a foreword by the Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels, The Butler not only explores Allen’s life and service to eight American Presidents, from Truman to Reagan, but also includes an essay, in the vein of James Baldwin’s jewel The Devil Finds Work, that explores the history of black images on celluloid and in Hollywood, and fifty-seven pictures of Eugene Allen, his family, the presidents he served, and the remarkable cast of the movie.

Now, this is where I find it interesting. That book description really sucks. They mention all the names of the film stars in the movie, which is not relevant to the book at all. Whoever the PR genius was who wrote it, should be fired.

And this is why I’m always talking about vetting books, especially the more expensive digital books released by large publishers, because you never know what you’re going to get unless to check around in more than a few places first. The two people I know who read this book felt cheated, and they will be watching out the next time a book like this comes along.

As of today, The Butler is number one in three different categories on Amazon in spite of the one star warnings. And even after all this, I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll buy the book and read it. And that’s because of this review in the Washington Post.

The book also describes how African Americans are woefully underrepresented in the motion picture industry. “Filmmakers are, after all, ultimate gamblers,” Haygood writes. “Throw race into the gamble, and the predictions get a lot trickier.” He notes that while many African American-themed films feature a white savior, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (as it’s being called because of a copyright dispute) will break that mold.

From that description is sounds like something I’d enjoy, especially the part about how Hollywood is always screwing over all minorities. If I do read it, I’ll post my review here. As for those who say the book is too expensive, it’s listed for $5.50 in the Kindle version right now. I know people who spend more on one drink on a Saturday night and don’t even think twice about it.

Russia Defends Gay Hate Law; Free Excerpt Doughy Joey

Russia Defends Gay Hate Law

In the latest development from Russia with regard to the anti-gay law that has sparked outcries from many parts of the world, a letter was sent from Russia stating that there would be no discrimination, according to the rules of the Olympic Charter. However, a good deal is still unclear, and Russia stands by its anti-gay law.

The letter still leaves open the question of what would happen to Olympic athletes or fans if they made statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.

Couldn’t a simple rainbow pin be considered propaganda?

The law has provoked harsh international criticism ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. Some activists have called for a boycott of the games, though President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have ruled that out.

As I’ve said before, if this were any other minority in the world I have a feeling we would be boycotting and most would be agreeing with the boycott. But because it’s LGBT oriented and the shame and stigma associated with being LGBT is still there, we don’t receive that kind of treatment or respect. Not even from our leaders who claim to support us.

You can read the piece in full, here.

Free Excerpt Doughy Joey

Most of the back listed books I’ve been re-releasing this summer have been fairly simple from an editorial POV. All were professionally edited at the time of the original release. But with Doughy Joey I’d never received an arc from the publisher and all I had was the original file in raw form. So I’ve been editing all day, and I figured I would put up an excerpt here for the weekend. It’s not available yet, but will be next week as a .99 e-book. I did have to self-censor a little for blogging reasons, however, the uncensored version will be be released in full.

Joel Roman did not eat carbohydrates. On the day of his thirty-fifth birthday he announced to all his friends he was starting one of those all protein diets so he could become ripped, as he’d read in the fitness magazines. This was five years earlier and he hadn’t touched a single starch or sugar since then (well, you couldn’t really count the occasional piece of chocolate).

So was it any wonder one of his oldest friends in town, Gerry, was shocked to see him enter the new soft pretzel shop on a Saturday afternoon in mid-January. “Soft Philly Pretzels”, said the shiny green and gold sign on the small, two lane highway, “We Bake’m Better”. Though this wasn’t actually in the city of Philadelphia; more like the far northern suburbs where city people took day trips to visit expensive candle shops and admire the leaves in autumn.

“I knew this would happen one day,” Gerry said. His cheeks bulged, vigorously chewing a soft pretzel on his way back to the car. “You’d finally go off that protein diet and eat ten pounds of mashed potatoes and four dozen soft pretzels in one sitting.” His round face still flared red from the cold wind and there were feathery wisps of salt and pepper hair sticking out beneath a navy knitted cap. His weighty body was zipped and snapped right up to the bottom of his double chin in a puffy red ski jacket with a faint white goose feather sticking out from the shoulder.

Joel smiled and slipped his hands into the side pockets of his smooth black leather (always a short jacket so other guys could check out his butt in tight jeans; it had never happened, but Joel liked to imagine a guy would one day walk up from behind and slither a firm hand down his pants). Though Gerry sounded as though he were joking around, he’d always been slightly jealous that Joel looked more like thirty than forty. “I’m here for the hot sausage,” Joel said. “Someone told me they have these hot sausages wrapped in pretzel dough that are fantastic. I figured it would be simple enough to pull the wrapping off and just eat the sausage.”

“Ah, well, I don’t think the dough of one small sausage wrap…”

Gerry was about to say he didn’t think a little soft pretzel wrapping would cause Joel to gain any weight because he was so trim and fit already, but he didn’t get a chance to finish because of a loud crash toward the back of the store. This was one of those completely open bakeries, where the ovens and freezers and wooden work stations are exposed. You couldn’t miss that the young guy who was working had just dropped a full tray of frozen pretzel dough onto the red tiled floor.

There was a lot of white noise; fans and ovens and freezer motors all running at the same time. “Are you okay?” Joel shouted to the guy.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I’ll be with you in a minute; I’m the owner…I can’t get fired.” He bent down, giving his gray sweat pants a jerk at each knee, to pick up the doughy mess as though this was a perfectly normal occurrence, but his bright red cheeks suggested chagrin. At a glance he couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen years old.

“I’ve gotta run,” Gerry said. There was a small white piece of wet pretzel stuck to the bottom of his bulbous chin. “Now don’t you go crazy and eat too many pretzels. Haha.”

“I promise,” Joel said, as awkward Gerry guffawed and loped toward the exit door. It occurred to Joel that although they both were the same age, Gerry looked more like fifty than forty (too many soft pretzels, no doubt).

But the baking pretzels did smell so good on a brisk winter day: doughy and floury and fresh. The ones already arranged on the warming counter were covered with specks of white salt; next to them rows of small plastic containers filled with melted cheddar, soft butter, and several cream cheese mixtures were dwarfed by a quart sized yellow mustard dispenser filled to the rim (in Philadelphia yellow mustard was the topping of choice). All of a sudden Joel was starved. If he could have made a quick exit out the door he would have driven down the road to the Gourmet Just Food and bought a small salad instead. But the guy behind the counter had already seen him; he had to buy something.

You could tell this guy was new at running a business. He should have just left the mess and taken care of Joel. It would have served him a good lesson if Joel had actually walked out. But when he took a closer look, while the young guy swept loose flour into a dust bin, it occurred to Joel there was something quite attractive about this young man. He wasn’t tall, no more than five eight in running shoes. Though his body was thin, and you could see from the outline of the white t-shirt he wore he wasn’t a body builder, he had that natural, messy type of sex appeal. His dark brown hair was longish and wavy…parted in the middle; all one length and cropped bluntly at the middle of his neck. Dark shocks kept falling in front of his face when he bent over. When he spread his legs and squatted to pick up the aluminum tray the fabric of loose gray sweat pants stretched.

He rinsed his hands and then jogged back to the counter to wait on Joel. “Sorry you had to wait. What can I get you?”

His eyes appeared hazel: small and dreary without much light. And his features were thin with that turned down look of a turtle face. But there was something about the entire package that caused Joel’s heart to beat a little faster.

“Ah, I think I’ll try one of those hot sausage wraps, and maybe a dozen pretzels,” Joel said. Oh well, he couldn’t just order one tiny little sausage wrap like that. How would it have looked? The poor young thing didn’t have tons of people knocking down the front door for hot pretzels, after all.

“Coming right up,” said the pretzel guy. His voice flowed forth like the hum and buzz from an old transistor radio; deep and low, yet soft and pleasant, too. He wore no underwear. The outline of his junk kept protruding through the gray sweat pants.

While he awkwardly shoved a dozen salted pretzels into a brown paper bag his expression remained blank, as though he wasn’t quite sure whether or not he liked running this new business of his. The poor guy worked fast; his arms flailing bags and pretzels and napkins, as though there were fifty people standing behind Joel, when in fact no one had entered the shop the entire time Joel had been there. There was a thick glass warming shelf next to the cash register. When he reached inside for a hot sausage wrap, Joel noticed his thick, strong fingers. They were meaty and firm just like the hot sausage he placed into a foil wrapper.

My Newest Amazon Releases

Here are a few more books I just released on Amazon. As I’ve stated, this is for readers and for my own records. I’ve found that blogging in general has been a great asset to me while putting these books back up on Amazon. Instead of searching through files for blurbs and book descriptions, I’ve basically only had to do a simple blog search to get the past information.

So if you are an author, start documenting what you’re doing on your blog for your own records, too. You never know when that information might be needed, and blogging is a very simple way to retrieve it. Small e-presses go out of business all the time no matter what they promise you in the beginning, and you might just wind up pubbing your own books someday.

Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy link

Something for Saint Jude link

Kevin Loves Cowboys link

These are all now .99 e-books for at least the next three months. And they are only on Amazon for the time being. We will distribute them elsewhere in the future. If anyone has any questions, feel free to e-mail me at rfieldj@aol.com