Category: anne r allen

Weather Hurts Book Sales; Catherine Ryan Hyde Now Hybrid

Weather Hurts Book Sales

This is a interesting article for me because we lost power last week for five days and I read a lot. Although we have a generator, it can only be used at certain times for the most important things. So even though I was able to work for about four hours each day with the generator I still had a lot of down time next to the fireplace without full power and I caught up on a lot of reading. I purchased six books online that week, in digital format…e-books. I read them on my iPhone. (It took a better charge with the generator than the iPad.) I know others in the same powerless situation who did that same thing. So I can’t help wondering what the numbers are for e-book sales last week, too, because this article only talks about how brick and mortar bookshops lost money with print books due to the weather.

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Ashville, N.C., tried to keep its regular hours, but closed at 2p.m. on Wednesday ahead of the snow storm. Thursday it opened two hours late and closed at dark. The cold was also a problem, and the store canceled its Mystery Book Club meeting on Monday night because of it. Weather forced it to cancel its Sci Fi YA panel yesterday as well, which was to have included Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman, authors of These Broken Stars; Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate series; and Lissa Price, author of Enders. Bookseller/book buyer Caroline Christopoulos described yesterday as “reflectively quiet” and said that business was “quite slow.”

You can read more here.

One more reason why I doubt I could ever go back to reading print books again.

Catherine Ryan Hyde Now Hybrid

I’ve posted about Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel, Pay It Forward, (and many others I’ve loved)several times here on the blog. Even though we write in completely different genres I’ve always been a huge fan of her fiction, and she inspired me to branch out on my own to indie publish a few books. That wasn’t an easy decision for me because I’m the kind of author who craves the input from publishers…and from the whole publishing process. I’d rather just write and let them worry about everything else. I truly do let them get away with anything just so I don’t have to deal with it. I’ve always been that easy to work with.

But times are changing and I had to see what indie publishing was like for myself. One reason is that I have four completed novels ready for release at this time and I have NO idea when they will be released. I submitted them as far back as August and the ONLY book I’ve had released since September has been Cowboy Christmas Miracle. One romance novel is over 100,000 words long. Why the books haven’t been released I don’t know. But I’ve learned in my years in publishing not to ask. Publishers…all publishers…do what they want and authors have very little control in that respect…especially unagented authors like me. I indie published because I wanted control, for my readers and for me. It wasn’t because I’m unhappy with publishers. I have no regrets and I’ve always had good relationships with my publishers. So I did a little research and saw that authors like Catherine Ryan Hyde were now experimenting in the indie world of publishing themselves and that made me feel more comfortable about it.

For those who don’t know, the term hybrid is an author who is published by trad publishers and also indie publishes his/her own books. Why this article makes it sound so surprising is a little interesting to me, because Ryan Hyde has been open about her indie publishing and she even wrote a book with author/blogger Anne R. Allen titled, How to Be a Writer in the E-Age and Keep Your Sanity. I posted about that here back in 2012. I’ve also posted about Anne R. Allen many times. I read their book and loved every word of it. In fact, I still revisit sometimes to check things out.

The article in PW about Ryan Hyde discusses what motived her to get into indie publishing.

Agent Laura Rennert, at Andrea Brown Literary, who represents Hyde, said the idea to self-publish her client came out of both curiosity and necessity. Although Rennert said that “99.9%” of her clients are traditionally published, she and her fellow Andrea Brown agents wanted to know how to self-publish, so they could “optimally help [their] authors… if this was something they wanted.” The trial with Hyde, who Rennert noted is very prolific, was with a book called Second Hand Heart, which is published by Transworld in the U.K. Although it was a test—Rennert approached Hyde with the idea of self-publishing wanting authors with “a sense of adventure, a willingness to experiment, and [who] are active on social media”—it wound up laying the groundwork for a turning point in Hyde’s career.

You can read more here. If you are an established or new author thinking of indie publishing it’s a worthwhile read.

Bethenny Frankel’s Ass; Anne R. Allen on Writing; Gambian President Gay Hate

Bon Jovi/ Versace

For some reason, this older photo of Jon Bon Jovi started floating around social media over the holidays and it reminded me of a post I wrote last year about photoshopping, body images, and the difference between how celebrity photos are often altered in direct contrast to how fashion designers create what has always been considered artistic images that often border on the abstract. But even fashion designers photoshop celebrities sometimes, and this one photo in particular of Jon Bon Jovi is classic photoshopping at its best.

You can view the photo here. The guy looks great for 50 years old. But a photo can hide certain things that you can’t in real life. And 50 year old skin is not the same as 25 year old skin no matter how hard you try. That’s life. Plain and simple. And to take this to a writer’s POV, you can’t write about a 50 year old the same way you can about a 25 year old unless you’re writing paranormal or science fiction.

And this article goes deeper, with a few excellent examples of how celebrities really look before they’re photoshopped. I love the photos of Bachelor Clooney. And frankly, most of the photos “before” don’t look all that bad anyway and I don’t see a reason to photoshop them. This link also comes with a warning. You’ll have to look at before and after shots of Bethenny Frankel’s ass…something I’m sure we can all live without seeing either before or after.

Anne R. Allen on Writing

Unfortunately, I’m a little late with this link, too, due to family things Tony and I have been dealing with in the past few days. But I wanted to post it anyway because I think it’s an excellent example of many short posts I’ve written on the topic of writing rules. In fact, many of the comments in this post made me smile because I used to follow some of the rules when I first started out. And, as a writer who is constantly trying to evolve, I’ve also changed a few of my own opinions at times. And I think that’s why I like Allen’s post so much.

I like this one rule about show and tell because I’ve posted about it more than once.

Authors who follow this rule closely can write such murky stuff you never know what’s going on.

Is this really the best way to present a character? “He wore a helmet with a wide brim, longer in the back to protect the neck, big black boots, a protective coat, and overalls held up with red suspenders. He smelled of ashes and soot.”

Why not just tell us he’s a fire fighter? After three pages of these guessing games, the building has burned down and WE DO NOT CARE.

You can read the rest here. And I highly suggest reading them all. And this goes for those who might be considered critical book reviewers who often comment on writing rules and styles in book reviews. In other words, if you’re going to mention in a book review that the author shows and tells (or anything writing related) you should know the full meaning of how this works and that writers often balance show and tell on purpose, otherwise you’re going to look a little dumb and you won’t even know it…but other people will know.  
Gambian President Gay Hate

My first thought when I read this was that I’m glad I’ll never have to set foot in Gambia. But then I thought how awful it must be for LGBT people in Gambia to have a President who would actually give a Christmas speech and compare being gay to having a social cancer.

The president said homosexuality will ‘never be condoned’ and warned parents to steer children away from ‘alien cultures that could corrupt their minds at this stage of their moral and psychological development’.

Naturally, there are plenty of gay people in Gambia and they’re fighting for their rights. Homosexuality is a felony there and LGBT people can get up to 14 years in prison for being gay.

But it gets worse. This President, this sick idiot, wants to pass laws where it would be legal to behead gays.

You can read more here.

Full Frontal Nude Craig Parker; Anne R. Allen Collectives; Noah Lukeman The First Five Pages

Full Frontal Nude Craig Parker

Someone who knows I find the lack of male full frontal nudity in films interesting sent me a link to a full frontal nude of actor, Craig Parker. He’s from New Zealand and he’s been in films like The Fellowship of the Ring and Spartacus.

From the way it looks, Parker is taking a selfie in a shower, with full frontal that doesn’t get much more detailed than this. And it’s times like this I wonder why we rarely see much full frontal in films. The photo is actually something I would consider more artistic than erotic. I guess that’s subjective, though.

You can check that out here.   I can’t post it for copyright reasons. The photo above of Parker is from wiki commons, link on photo itself.

Anne R. Allen Collectives

There’s a post over at Anne R. Allen’s blog that discusses an interesting concept: author collectives. From what I gather what this means in a general sense is that several authors form their own indie publishing collaborative and they all work together instead of working alone. It’s not actually like working with a small press, and it’s not the same as going totally indie because the authors have the collaborative experience. The books and authors don’t necessarily have to be in the same genre either.

The author collective offers a way to have the best of both worlds. If you’re a “team player” who wants the control indie publishing offers, but you don’t want to go it alone, the collective may be for you. But you do need to choose your team carefully, and dedication is a must, as you will see from Liza’s story.

I have to admit I’m intrigued by this, and not just because I’m a fan of Allen. I’ve worked with many small presses over the years and I’ve always preferred working with them over indie publishing because I get that collective experience. All of my books published by presses have been a collaborative effort from a developmental POV in every single case. In other words, when I did the Virgin Billionaire series, the concept was born through the publisher, we brainstormed about it more than once, and we continued to collaborate right down to the cover. The only thing I actually did alone was write the books.

I love indie publishing, too. But with all my indie books everything from developmental editing to cover choices I did on my own without any collaboration at all. I hired people to execute my ideas for the cover. I had a copy editor. But the entire concept was mine and frankly I’m not always that comfortable going it alone that way. It’s hard to be objective about anything creative. And I actually crave the creative input.

In any event, you can read more here about author collectives on Allen’s blog. I think I’ve actually been doing some of these things without even knowing it with other authors all along. Behind the scenes we talk about covers, look for input, and just this week I helped another author decide something more developmental.

Noah Lukeman The First Five Pages

I think I’ve posted about this before, but I wanted to mention it again because I see so many new writers all the time searching for how to do the right thing. And there’s so much information on the Internet it’s often hard to choose what’s right and what’s wrong. Those who read this blog often know I’m not anti anything and I hate to give advice. I support trad publishing as much as I support indie publishing and everything that comes in between those two extremes. I also think it’s important to work with a great literary agent if you’re lucky enough to land one because it will usually help your career move forward. I never actually signed a contract with one agent in particular. But I have worked with an agent in the past, we have always had an off-the-record agreement, and I wouldn’t do anything significant with my career unless I contacted her first and got her on board. Although most of my e-books have been sold by me without an agent, the times I’ve garnered work through this agent have been very productive (a publishing deal with Alyson Books for An Officer and His Gentleman). And one of my dearest friends in the world whom I’ve known for almost twenty years has been a NY literary agent for almost forty years. Our friendship happened through coincidence and the fact that he has a weekend home in New Hope. We’ve never actually worked together and we never will because you don’t mix friendship with business, but I sometimes ask him advice off the record, too. So I don’t think it’s even possible to explain how much respect I have for good literary agents.

There’s also another agent who changed my entire concept/outlook on publishing. I’ve never met him or even contacted him, but I read his book, The First Five Pages, and that book changed the way I thought about publishing and querying agents. His name is Noah Lukeman and he blogs here (regularly for the most part). The blog is great, but it was the book, The First Five Pages, that helped me most. Though it was written about a decade ago and many things in publishing have changed since then, it was his advice on how editors and agents look for material that helped me the most. It’s hard for me to explain in one short post, but the book taught me what not to do when querying or pitching by showing me what most editors and agents look for at a glance. The key phrase here is “at a glance.” They get so many queries they learn how to look at them fast and it’s the writers that do things right that get attention. It’s the little things like whether or not the narrative is balanced with the dialogue. If there’s nothing but dialogue (or nothing but narrative) at a glance it could hurt an author’s chances. I know all this sounds very technical, and it has little to do with actual storyline. I also know every writer has a different voice and style. But when you’re querying an agent or editor the goal is to hook them fast, at a glance, and draw them into the book with what often turns out to be just the first five pages. Think audition: if the first few lines of the song you’re singing on stage suck, they’ll call you, don’t call them.

After I read Lukeman’s book several times I had that proverbial “Ah-Ha” moment and it all seemed to click for me. I’d already been published in many books with LGBT publishers by then and I’d been working as an editor for small publications as well. But for some reason I just didn’t understand I wasn’t getting replies from agents. Once I read Lukeman’s book and I reworked the first five pages of the books I was querying I started to see immediate results. It’s not an art, but it is a science and there is something to how a novel is crafted in a traditional sense. Editors and agents know what they are looking for, in this technical sense. So if you’re having problems querying and you’re not getting replies at all, you’re doing something wrong and The First Five Pages might help. As I said, the book is a little dated in some respects, but everything writing related in the book can be applied to e-querying agents and editors today. As an editor of several anthologies I can state that I’ve turned down more than a few short stories because I didn’t like the way they looked at a glance. I had so many submissions for The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance I had to look at the stories this way otherwise it would have taken over a year to get that book out. I didn’t have the time to go through each story that was submitted to me in detail at the first sitting. And the stories that made all the mistakes from a technical POV were the ones I rejected first. Those that looked the best at a glance were accepted. And I wasn’t disappointed when I read them in detail. The authors knew what they were doing. I also knew I wouldn’t have any creative issues with the authors because they knew what they were doing.

The other reason I’m bringing up The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is because I saw another literary agent slam the book this week, and she did it in a way that suggested she didn’t actually read the book. Unfortunately, this particular literary agent blogs, too, and I’ve seen some questionable advice on her blog. I don’t want to get into that in detail because it’s not exactly bad advice. It’s just questionable and it rarely ever changes. But more important, Noah Lukeman has a few big books to his credit. The agent who slammed Lukeman doesn’t. I’d rather take financial advice from Donald Trump than Joe at the barber shop. I feel the same way about the advice I get in publishing, too. Which is also the number one reason why I don’t give advice here. I just offer suggestions from my experiences I think might help. You might read The First Five Pages and nothing will happen for you. But it might also change the way you think about querying and making pitches. Most of the Amazon reviews seem to agree with me.

To show you I’m not full of crap, there are 220 reviews for The First Five Pages.  131 are five star reviews. 12 are one star reviews. (The link to Amazon is above)

Here’s one quote from Amazon. There are 64 more reviews similar to this. And take into consideration that most people who’ve read the book didn’t even leave a review. I didn’t leave one.

“I highly recommend this book for any writer who aspires to be published.

Anne R. Allen: Does Sex Sell? Censored Gay Sex Scene From Here to Eternity

Anne R. Allen Post: Does Sex Sell?

Update: Anne R. Allen was gracious enough to leave a comment here and I think it’s important for anyone reading this post to check it out in the comment section.

According to a weak blog post over at Passive Guy whether or not sex sells is up for debate over at Anne R. Allen’s blog. I’ve been a fan of Allen’s for a long time and I love her work and I love her blog, too. And I actually agree with a good deal of what she posted, but I also think it was highly clever of her to actually write post about sex selling because posts about sex garner more hits than posts about Christmas cookies and kittens, which in a way suggests in itself that sex sells. Passive Guy is even cleverer: he just linked to a post about sex and snagged hits. I know this as a blogger and I understand search engines.  In other words, Passive Guy and Anne R. Allen did NOT post about Christmas cookies and kittens to get blog readers to actually read their posts. They posted about sex and a sex related topic. They got hits. This makes me smile.

Allen begins her post talking about how her publisher asked her to remove a sex scene and she was worried about doing this. Not because the publisher might have been censoring her. But because she was worried the book wouldn’t sell as well. Then she mentions how so many have copied Fifty Shades of Grey and how publishing is on overload with fakes trying to duplicate the E.L James success. She’s right about that. I’ve seen it myself and I’ve been writing erotic romance for almost twenty-one years and I’ve never seen so many jump onto the proverbial bandwagon of the Fifty Shades success. However, there hasn’t been one single mega hit since FS, and I actually did post about this a while back when FS first hit the market. In my post I compared the success of FS to the old novel, Peyton Place.

After reading so many opinions about FSoG, I can’t help thinking about books from the past that have jumped unexpectedly into the mainstream, with all the hype and promise that FSoG has had so far. If you go way back, way before my time, “Peyton Place,” was one of those books. For its time period, PP had all the elements that FSoG has today. And yet as far as I know there was only one book like PP ever published with that kind of phenomenal success. I’m sure there were other books published like PP after it became so popular, but none ever reached the pinnacle of PP. Even the author of PP, Grace Metalious, never reached that level of success again.

Allen moves on in her post to discuss a great deal of what’s been happening in the past months with web sites where e-books are sold and how they’ve been censoring books. She doesn’t use the word censoring, but it is what it is and I see no reason to not use it. Toni Morrison has been censored, and so have other high profile authors. But Allen’s point seems to be that all books are judged by robots and even though erotic romance authors like me don’t break the rules with regard to taboo content, some authors do and the rest of us get lumped in with them and now we all have to watch out for words that might affect us without cause. And yet TV shows like American Horror Story: Coven can get away with taboos like bestiality, rape, incest, pedophilia, and more. They win awards for it. I posted about that here. And I’ve written many posts on censoring books.

The most important thing to take into consideration here is that Anne R. Allen is talking about sex in mainstream novels, not sex in genre fiction…at least I think so.

With so much explicit “mommy porn” available to peruse discretely on our e-readers, maybe the time has come when we no longer need to sprinkle our mainstream books with those titillating scenes that became de rigueur in the heyday of “steamy” novels by authors like Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins. (As Spock called them in Star Trek IV…”the giants.”)

At the moment, I think writers need to treat sex scenes like adverbs. We should always ask ourselves, “is this necessary to the story?”

However, if you are an established author you have to know who you are and who your audience is. I actually did something I never thought I would do by self-censoring my book, Chase of a Dream. When I released the book on my own terms in two different versions, one with sex and one without, I had no idea what to expect. Though I only removed 7,000 words from the original book, the one without sex just sat there and did nothing while the book with the sex scenes did better than I ever thought it would. And I’m still getting e-mails from readers who made the mistake of buying the self-censored version instead of the original version with sex, and I’m still giving them returns from my own files. So my readership told me in plain and simple terms they want sex in books. But my readership is geared toward men and women who want to read gay erotic romance, with sex scenes. And if I did any less than that I would be letting them down and I have no intention of doing this to my readers. In fact, Allen’s post only makes me want to write more sex.

So while I do agree with Allen’s post in a general sense, I also think this might be one of those times you really have to know who you are and where you’re going with your writing. There’s nothing wrong with sex in books, there’s nothing wrong with the people who like to read books with sex in them, or the authors who like to write sexy books. I really don’t care about whether or not sex sells. I honestly don’t, and never really did. The only reason I’m posting about this right now is because erotic romance authors have been taking slams from holier than thous since the beginning of time as we know it and I think it’s high time someone started saying it’s okay to have sex in books, too.

It’s also time for erotic romance writers to stop being treated like second class citizens in publishing as well. If it hadn’t been for E. L. James and Fifty shades of Grey, a lot of people in publishing wouldn’t have had bonus checks this year.

Censored Gay Sex Scene From Here to Eternity

Speaking of sex and censorship, I think this next article is interesting compared to what I wrote above. Evidently, there were scenes taken out of From Here to Eternity right from the start by none other than the publisher. And, gay sex, too. Someone get my smelling salts.

The original manuscript of From Here to Eternity went into “great detail” about the kinds of sexual favours soldiers like Private Angelo Maggio, played in the film by Frank Sinatra, would provide to rich gay men for money, Kaylie Jones revealed in an article written for US news website the Daily Beast.

“‘I don’t like to be blowed [by a man]’,” the novel’s hero Private Robert E Lee Prewitt tells Maggio in a section cut from the novel. “Angelo shrugged,” writes James Jones. “‘Oh, all right. I admit it’s nothing like a woman. But it’s something. Besides, old Hal treats me swell. He’s always good for a touch when I’m broke. Five bucks. Ten bucks. Comes in handy the middle of the month … Only reason I let Hal blow me is because I got a good thing there. If I turned him down I’d blow it sky high. And I want to hang onto that income, buddy.'”

James Jones, author of the book, originally fought being censored. His daughter now thinks the original book was better. But at the time there was a Catholic group pressuring publishers to censor books.

You can read more here. I highly recommend it, especially in these trying days of everyone telling us how they feel about sex in books, and what’s too much, what’s too little, and what sells.

Photo above with link is in the Public Domain.

Anne R. Allen on Blogging; Beekman Mortage Lifter; The Bluest Eye Called Porn

Anne R. Allen on Blogging

There were so many things I wanted to post about last week and didn’t get a chance, and this is one of them. Anne R. Allen is a blogger and author I’ve posted about before. And now she’s giving advice about blogging that I thought was interesting. She is, from what I’ve seen, the consummate blogger.

If you are interested in trad publishing, this quote below is good advice. In full disclosure, I have not followed most of these blogs in a while. However, I still do follow one of them (Bransford’s) and I usually find something worthwhile. The only reason I don’t follow the others is because I don’t need to know anything more about querying. But if you don’t know anything about querying, I suggest you find blogs like these to learn about it. It’s a skill that will follow you throughout your publishing career, especially when it comes to writing your own book descriptions for your published works. It’s important to “hook” an agent with a good query. It’s 1000 times more important to “hook” readers with your book description. And that book description not only has to hook the reader, but also be accurate. If not, you will pay a price with reviewers.

If you hope for a traditional publishing career, you should also be regularly visiting agents’ blogs like Janet Reid’s and Kristen Nelson’s and former agent Nathan Bransford’s to find out how the traditional publishing process works. You can also interact with other writers who comment on the blog.

This is important, too.

Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you put it in your own honest, unique voice and you’re not too whiny or preachy. (Although experts generally advise against fictional yarns. More on that below.)

In other words, keep it real and don’t screw around. I’ve seen what has happened to some authors who created fake blogs and it wasn’t pretty. I actually once made the mistake of starting an author blog with a pen name and I started such a category five shitstorm without even realizing it I shuttered the blog after two weeks and never returned to it. It freaked me out, and that’s not easy to do.

The Internet can be a nice place, but also a mean place, and if something doesn’t add up on your blog, there will always be someone who can’t wait to expose you, even if you are harmless. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I can stand behind everything I publish here on this blog, and I’ve never had any regrets. It also gives you leverage and freedom, not to mention the ability to sleep well at night.

The only thing I can add to this is that you want to stick with it. You don’t have to blog every day. But you want to keep some kind of consistency going. As a blog reader, nothing bothers me more than going to a blog and seeing the blogger hasn’t posted anything for over a month. What happens is people lose interest and they don’t come back.

Beekman Mortgage Lifter

I’ve posted about “The Beekman Boys” before a few times. I’m on their mailing list and I’ve been following their mortgage lifter plan. (I think Tony and I need one of those mortgage lifter plans, too. Maybe we could raise pachysandra; we have two acres of it here.) In any event, this is what they are doing now.

From my inbox:

The woman who helps us with our book-keeping (math is not our strong suit,) recently got an email from the company who makes accounting software, Intuit. Apparently Intuit is hosting a contest in which they will pay for a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl for one lucky small business.

We immediately thought of our “Mortgage Lifter” sauces. As you know, 25% of the profits from all “Mortgage Lifter” products go towards helping struggling small farms. Our goal is to get “Mortgage Lifter” products into every major supermarket.

How cool would it be to have a commercial all about helping small farms in the freakin’ Super Bowl?! And think of the money that would be raised for farmers!

So, to get through this first phase of the contest, we need your vote. Please go to this link to our entry, scroll a bit down, and hit the “Vote” Button.
There are also a few other things of interest going on at Beekman.

The one hour video special about our wedding will be available for downloading on Amazon on September 21st! Until then, our friends at the production company are releasing one teaser video each week- with PolkaSpot herself as narrator!

You can check that out here. And here.

The Bluest Eye Called Porn

You know how I’m always talking about how there’s no set definition of porn, even though some people decide to define porn on their own terms all the time. Well, I think this is the perfect example of that. They are now calling Toni Morrison’s classic novel, The Bluest Eye, porn. And, the entire post to which I’m linking has put a spin on something serious and made it sound frivolous and wrong. I’ve read The Bluest Eye multiple times, at various points in my life, and I have never once considered this book to be porn or obscene. In fact, it’s one of the most important books I think I’ve ever read in my life. It changed me, and when  a book can change you there’s something more to it than just words and sentences on a page.

The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, who prays every day for beauty: for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to fit in. As her life begins to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife, such as being raped by her father and beaten by her mother, she finally appeals to Soaphead Church, a pedophile, to help her attain blue eyes. After being impregnated by her father, she loses her baby and ultimately loses her mind.


The reason this all came about is because The Bluest Eye is on a list for 11th graders. That’s a junior in high school.

When the blogger says this I cringe when I read it.

I understand that after reading those excerpts a lot of you may be angry that this is approved for reading in any school. I could probably end the article here.

Either she hasn’t read the book in full, has no empathy or understanding of the cultural aspects handled in the novel, or she just wanted to put a spin on something controversial to get attention.

If you have not read The Bluest Eye, I highly recommend you go out and find a copy. It is not porn.

Delaware Passes Gay Marriage; Anne R. Allen on Internet Gang Culture

Now that Delaware has passed a same sex marriage bill it will become the 11th state in the US to legalize same sex marriage, and gay couples in Delaware can start getting married July 1 as soon as the law takes effect. The interesting thing about this is that Delaware already had legal civil unions.

Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democratic-controlled legislature barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote.

While it doesn’t give same-sex couples any more rights or benefits under Delaware law than they have in civil unions, supporters argued that same-sex couples deserve the dignity and respect of married couples. They also noted that if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, civil unions would not provide protections or tax benefits under federal law to same-sex couples in Delaware.

Read more:

The opposition in Delaware said this:

“We’re about to change the entire definition of marriage in order to make people feel good about themselves,” said the Rev. Chuck Betters, pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear. Betters recounted how he became the subject of scathing attacks in social media recently after posting a sign outside his church suggesting that Christianity was more powerful than the movement for gay marriage.

Just for the good Rev’s information: you are not about the change anything to make me feel good. I already feel good, thank you. You are about the change the definition of marriage in order to give everyone the equal rights they deserve. And you won’t even notice the change because we’ve been around forever and we’ve been in long term relationships forever. So calm yourself. In fact, you should be more worried about straight people in their twenties and thirties who aren’t getting married these days. I have a few close to me and I’m always worried about them. In other words, there’s a serious disconnect somewhere within the straight community, Rev., and you’re not going to fix it by bashing gay people who are looking for nothing more than equal rights.

In any event, Wilmington, DE, is only an hour away from here, and Tony and I go there often to see friends, to spend time in Rehoboth Beach, and even to check in on people in hospitals. They have some of the best hospitals in the country. And if you’re ever traveling the 95 corridor and you pass through Delaware, check out the little old town of Old New Castle. It’s only a few miles off track from I95 near the Delaware Memorial Twin Bridges, it sits on the banks of the Delaware River where the river opens up to the bay, and you’ll think you stepped back into the 18th century. I’ve done done some very serious antique shopping there, too. It’s very gay friendly. And in the l990’s I actually won a “Best Buns” contest at a nightclub in Wilmington…but I digress.

Photo of Delaware Memorial Twin Bridges attribution.

Anne R. Allen on Internet Gang Culture

In this brave and eloquent blog post, author Anne R. Allen talks about “Gangs of the New Media” and something we’ve all either had to deal with, or will have to deal with, which is basically bully/gang culture. No one is exempt. It can happen to authors, readers, consumers, reviewers…or anyone involved in any Internet activity. I’ve heard about it happening in online poker forums, and I’ve heard about it happening in book forums. I’ve seen it on Yelp, and I don’t even go near Huff Po comments anymore. I’ve posted before that I had to enforce comment moderation here on this blog for reasons that included a death threat. And I’m not the only one who has experienced this, as you can see below from Allen’s post:

 I’ve seen dozens of good people attacked by gangs on social media in the past year or so. Usually for unverified infractions of murky rules. I’m not sure the people who sent me death threats even knew what I was supposed to have done. (I’m still not clear on that myself.) They only knew somebody told them the hive was under attack, and I was the designated villain.

Plus they were getting a rush from their own smug, self-righteous rage.

I also like the fact that Allen mentions the cyber attacks on Barry Eisler that were recently mentioned on Joe Konrath’s blog. These attacks didn’t come from the usual sources. This quote below is from Konrath’s blog where Barry Eisler wrote a guest post about what happened on Twitter when he began a speech at a recent publishing event:

Agent Janet Reid of Janet Reid Literary advised that it’s a mistake to even attend a conference where I’m speaking (apparently it’s not sufficiently protective to boycott just me; you have to boycott the entire conference). Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Larson Pomada tweeted that she wanted to walk out, though she didn’t. Agent Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary tweeted, “I had to be restrained in my seat. What a douche!” (Goldblatt subsequently retracted the name-calling aspect).

This is nothing new to me. I wish I could say I’m shocked, but I’m not. What I find highly amusing is that one person mentioned in the above paragraph was allegedly involved in a shitstorm of their own not longer than six years ago. It involved online bully/gang tactics, a lawsuit that’s been one of the most toned down events in the blogsphere, a rather high profile online fake identity and blog, and the quick disappearance of one high profile publishing blog. Oh, that was entertaining. One day here, gone the next, and no one really ever knew what happened.  

And what a shame to see a group of literary agents, publishing professionals who’ve been preaching about being professional for years, behave this way on social media like Twitter where everything is exposed. It bothers me to see professionals act this way, and also validates a lot of the things I’ve suspected for a long time.

In any event, Allen offers a list of solutions for anyone who is engaged in an online gang attack that covers a good deal of territory. I’ve reached the point where I wouldn’t hesitate to contact the authorities and my attorney. I used to think it wasn’t all that important and shrug it off as the Internet. My skin is thick in that sense, and I honestly don’t give a damn most of the time. But I’ve been looking at things differently lately for reasons that include all of the above and more. I’ve said this before: I have a feeling this old wild west attitude on the Internet isn’t going to last much longer. And people are going to have to pay prices for their actions on the Internet. I know two people in law school right now who are planning to specialize in Internet law, which would cover things like bully/gang attacks, defamation, and harmful threats.

Review: How to be a Writer in the E-Age, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anne R. Allen, Introduction by Saffina Desforges

I finally had a chance to finish “How to be a Writer in the E-Age” this weekend and wanted to post a short review first thing this morning while it’s still fresh. Although a good deal of what I read in this e-book tended to be things I’ve already experienced as a published author in the e-age, there were a few things I didn’t know and will retain for future reference. I started writing for e-publishers about seven years ago when everyone was still laughing at the possibility of e-books going mainstream.

I so wish there had been a book like this back when I first started to consider writing for e-publishers. Until that point, all of my publishing experience had been with small traditional LGBT print presses. And because the LGBT market wasn’t strong back then I made a point of trying to get my short stories into as many anthologies as I could each year. It wasn’t mainstream publishing and the money was terrible, but I loved what I was doing and it was considered legitimate.

When I started to look into e-publishing I read more than one questionable thing about it…or I couldn’t find any information at all. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about it myself. So I played it very safe in the beginning and submitted short stories to several e-publishers just to see what it was like. These manuscripts were released as e-books and I found that I loved working with e-publishers. They were just as professional as all the print publishers I’d ever worked with in the past and in some cases even more thorough. And, best of all, it didn’t take a year or more to get a book released. That in itself was a novelty to me. The world’s slowest industry in the world was now starting to pick up speed.

The moment I started to read “How to be a Writer in the E-Age” I knew it was a winner in every sense. The information is not only valuable to new authors, it’s relevant to published authors who might be thinking about making the switch to e-publishing, too. Or for established authors who are interested in self-publishing and have been on the fence about doing it. I found nothing in this book that can be disputed either (not always the case with writer’s manuals). From the introductions to the last page it’s filled with realistic information that shows writers what the writing experience is like now.

One thing I’d like to point out that I liked in particular was that there are no preachy comments, and this book isn’t pushing any one particular way to be a writer…or whether or not traditional publishing is better than e-publishing. There are many aspects of publishing talked about in this book and that’s something I don’t see often (the authors even read the same publishing blogs I’ve been following for years). In other words, it’s not about hating literary agents and hating those big bad mean publishers and it’s not about how spectacular self-publishing is and how it’s going to change life as we all know it as writers and readers. The book talks about self-publishing in an objective way, which is something I don’t see often these days either.

A while ago I read a writer’s manual written by one of my all time favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown who was one of those authors that changed publishing in the 1970’s, and I thought that was the best writer’s manual I’d ever read. But this book on writing and publishing took what Brown had to say to another level and brought it all up to date so new writers will know what to expect and how to deal with all the changes that are happening in publishing now. But more than that, because it’s an e-book and we can now do things like this with e-books, there’s a feature I’ve never seen before. When you buy this e-book you get updates every six months that will allegedly deal with more changes in publishing as they happen. And the changes seem to be happening on a daily basis now.

As a side note, the book is affordable and worth every penny invested. Trust me, I paid far more for books and manuals on publishing fifteen years ago and got far less information.