Category: cover preview

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.


Cover Preview: His Only Choice; Romance Boom; Duck Dynasty Ratings Tank

Cover Preview: His Only Choice

Here’s the cover preview for the third installment in the Second Chance series: His Only Choice. It will be released this week, and I’ll post more when it is. Blurb and excerpt can be found in the post previous to this one if you just scroll down.

Romance Boom

This next article is about the recent eight figure deal for Sylvia Day’s Blacklist series, which is a follow up to the Crossfire series. But it also gets into romance and how publishers expect more of a romance boom as a result of the Fifty Shades film release…ya know, thanks to the “Fifty Shades Effect.”

Some publishing executives speculated that another boom in romance books could occur when the film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is released early next year. The movie is currently being filmed in Vancouver, with Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as its stars.

There are a few comments about romance in general in the article that might twist a few feathers, so be prepared. They seem to attribute Day’s success with the “Fifty Shades Effect.” It’s not my area of expertise, however, I just have to wonder about that. Most of the people I know…not all the most serious readers…bought Fifty Shades and didn’t finish it. I saw it at a yard sale for FIFTY cents last summer and the woman running the yard sale said I could have it for free just to get it out of her house. So could it be that romance as a genre is already a huge market, and that Day’s books made it on their own merit…or would have made it on their own without Fifty Shades and this so-called Fifty Shades effect they are trying to sell us?

And the other thing that bothers me is that “some publishing executives” have been so far off the mark with any predictions or decisions they’ve made in the past few years I would hate to see a decline in romance as a result of this so-called Fifty Shades Effect.

In any event, I don’t think any of this will make a difference to serious romance readers. I’m personally not all that excited about the Fifty Shades film and I’ll wait for it to come on cable. I wanted Matt Bomer to star in it. And it’s not that I’m this huge elitist making judgments. Far from it. I’m actually a pop culture junkie who prefers common usage to perfect grammar and I feel as if the Fifty Shades Effect has come and gone. We’ll see.

You can read more here.


Duck Dynasty Ratings Tank

Here’s where I’ve posted about TV reality show, Duck Dynasty, and the anti-gay comments made by a leading character on the show. I say leading character because I would bet the only thing real about the show is that it’s scripted and produced like any other TV show in the history of television. And according to this article, ratings have tanked. It could be a result of the gay and racial comments. Or, it could be the show just sucks. 

You can read more here.

There was no scandal bump for Duck Dynasty, which experienced across-the-board ratings declines in its return Wednesday.


 

Cover: The Littlest Christmas Tree; James Franco BDSM Gay Film

Cover: The Littlest Christmas Tree

Here’s the cover preview for my Christmas novella, The Littlest Christmas Tree. It’s 21,000 words, it will be available in digital only, and I’ll be putting it up for FREE early next week for the holiday season. Blurb is below. It’s the second book in the Second Chance series. I’m keeping this as a running series for a while, too.

In this bonus novella from the “Second Chance” series titled, The Littlest Christmas Tree, an unhappy man trapped in a relationship so bad he isn’t even allowed a small Christmas tree is granted a second chance to go back in time and rethink the most pivotal choice he ever made. In doing this, he becomes one of the lucky few who can alter the outcome of his entire life.

But there’s a catch. Although he’s offered the chance to return to his college days and make a different choice, when he actually does go back he’s not consciously aware of this and there are no guarantees he won’t make the same bad choice twice. Will he choose a stable life with a handsome, aggressive young law student? Or will he choose the scruffy young theater student who drives a motorcycle and works in an auto body shop?

   

James Franco BDSM Gay Film

James Franco and Travis Mathews have a short feature out called, Interior. Leather Bar. But I’d like to set this up first. In 1980 there was a film titled, Cruising, with Al Pacino portraying a NY cop doing what I think was under cover work in gay leather bars. I have seen the film and read the book, which had the same title. I read the book around the same time I read Dancer from the Dance and The Front Runner. At the time, there weren’t that many reading choices for gay men. And these three books stand out more than any others for me. What’s interesting about what Franco did is that he tried to recapture (not recreate) scenes that had been cut from the original version of Cruising (so that they could avoid an X rating at the time) and he re-imagined those scenes in his short feature, Interior. Leather Bar.

Their new short feature, Interior. Leather Bar doesn’t recreate Cruising but is a mix between their take on that lost footage and a documentary-style, partly scripted, partly real, behind-the-scenes look at how they made it.

Here Mathews shares the joys of difficulties of getting actors to have ‘real’ gay sex on screen and his reasons for taking on a subject many would rather he left alone.

Make no mistake, this isn’t M/M romance or anything M/M related. This brand of gay fiction brings me back to my roots as a gay author and it’s about as real as things got back then. When Cruising was written (and filmed) times were very different and gay culture was an underground sub-culture, in raw form. The only way to meet other gay men, and to interact with other gay men on any social level, was to go to bars and clubs that featured everything from country-western to BDSM. Or, in state parks and public rest areas. Or course there were ads in the Village Voice, but you had to be very brave to answer them.

There’s an interesting interview about how Franco and Mathews handled the gay sex scenes. You can read more here. You can view a clip of ILB here. IMDb mentions it here. In the UK you can check out where to order it here. The only place I could find that’s selling it now in the US on DVD is here. I sent a few e-mails out asking for more info on that. We’ll see what comes back. I’m dying to see it. Update: According to facebook update it will be available in the US in March. FB link.

Here’s the basic plot from the book, Cruising.

The novel is about an undercover cop looking for a homosexual killer in the world of sadomasochism leather gay bars in Greenwich Village, New York. While undercover, he begins to gain feelings for his gay neighbor at the same time he is in a relationship. He ends up cheating on his girlfriend.

This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey BDSM either. This is the real thing, not “Mommy Porn.” I highly recommend reading this book, as well as Dancer from the Dance.


Cover Preview Second Chance; Nude Gay Rugby Players

Cover Preview Second Chance

I’ve been going back and forth with the cover artist I use for indie books and this is what we came up with as a tentative cover for a new series I’m working on titled Second Chance. It still hasn’t been finalized, but I’m fairly certain this will be as close to the final as it gets. Although I have several full length books (four, I think, including a Christmas novel) with publishers coming out soon, I’ve been working on this series in my spare time because I haven’t had a self-pubbed release in a couple of months. And I wanted to do a series this time that focuses on the fantasy of second chances and getting the opportunity to do things over again…if that’s what someone wants to do. The choice is always there. But whether or not the characters will change the course of their lives and take the second chance remains to be seen.

Here’s the blurb for the first book in the series. It’s a 20,000 word novella that will be priced at .99 and released in digital only format. I’m hoping for a release date in early December, which I’ll post about very soon.

In this first novella of the Second Chance series, an older gay man who has lived a closeted life for ninety-two years is presented with choices one last time. Who hasn’t wondered how things might have turned out if only they’d made one or two different choices in their lives? Who hasn’t contemplated what it would be like for the chance to do things all over again a different way, if only that were possible?

When ninety-two year old Andy Walker shuffles out to his beloved vegetable garden one morning in June, he gets the surprise of his life. He winds up in the last place he could ever imagine, with the man of his dreams telling him there’s still time for a second chance and there’s still time for him to choose a different path than the one he’s already followed…but only if he’s willing to take the risk and revisit one of the most pivotal and painful moments of his life. There are no guarantees or promises of happily-ever-after, and no one can make Andy’s choices for him. But if he agrees to return to the year 1950 when he was still young and strong and handsome, only he will know whether or not it’s possible to alter the course of his entire life thanks to one unusual encounter with a stranger named Chip.
Nude Gay Rugby Players
Gay Rugby Club, The Nashville Grizzlies, have released their annual calendar. What I like most about things like this is that the men are real, not exaggerated models like so many of the irritating photos I see on social media all the time. I think there’s a balance between a lot of these over-produced photos of nude or shirtless muscle gods and genuinely good looking real men, with good bodies, and real faces. Maybe I’m jaded and I’ve seen too many naked men in my lifetime, but the way people drool over some of these social media photos makes me really wonder. I even tried to find a more normal looking model for the cover above, after rejecting a long list of photos with men who had bodies I thought looked way over the top.
But these rugby guys in the calendar are adorable:  
The annual calendar is always a fun event for our team,” Mark Pilkington, Vice President of the Nashville Grizzlies, told The Huffington Post. “This year’s calendar allows many of our guys to incorporate the sport of rugby into some very artistic photos. The proceeds from the calendar will help us toward our goal of sending as many guys as possible to Sydney for the Bingham Cup. The Bingham Cup is an experience like no other and to be able to play rugby and fellowship with teams from around the world is something we are all looking forward to.”
You can read more here, where you can view the players and there’s a link to where you can purchase the calendar. And it’s a good charity. I didn’t know about the Bingham Cup or about the event honoring Mark Bingham, a gay man who was one of the heroes on flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
   

New Release: The Silicon Valley Sex Scandal



New Release: The Silicon Valley Sex Scandal

Here’s the cover for my new release with Ravenous Romance in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, Silicon Valley Sex Scandal. I like what they did this time. I see several key elements from the book in the cover, including the ultra modern home the main character owns in Cupertino, CA.

I get into a few interesting things in this book, like cyber-dating, online fakery, catfishing, and stalking. I took the liberty of using poetic license at times in a positive sense, because this is how I wish the Internet would be. But I think in time it will be more secure…after enough important people suffer the things others have been suffering online. In other words, when it happens to someone like Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, we’ll see changes come fast. And that’s exactly what I wanted to point out in this book with the main character…as a sideline to the romantic plot.

Here’s the blurb…free excerpts to come when it’s released:

Shannon Winn is known as the world’s most capricious gay billionaire and the owner of the world’s safest, coolest social media web site, lovemetender.com. When Shannon meets a guy named Terry on his own web site, he considers it fun and games, not looking for a relationship.

And that’s because Shannon already has an open relationship with his personal assistant, Justin. Although they aren’t committed to each other, Shannon’s not looking to meet anyone else for love. This bad boy just wants to fool around with Terry and forget all about him the next day.

It’s unfortunate for Shannon that Terry doesn’t realize this, because after their first and only time together Terry not only falls in love with Shannon, he begins to stalk him and imagine them as a couple. In the course of one week, Terry follows Shannon’s every move, showing up unexpectedly and seducing Shannon with great success.

When bad boy Shannon finally realizes the fatal mistakes he’s made with Terry, and he knows for certain he’s really in love with Justin, it just might be too late for them. Will Terry’s crazed infatuation with Shannon ruin Shannon’s chances of true love with Justin? And will delusional Terry finally snap and kill them all?

Cover Preview: Cowboy In Love Bad Boy Billionaire Series

Here’s a cover preview for an upcoming book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, Cowboy in Love.

The entire book is set in Texas, and it gets very emotional in more than one part. The main character is still grieving for his deceased husband, and doesn’t know how to move on with his life. I’ll post a release date soon.

Here’s a link to a free excerpt and a book description, and some info that explains more of the book in detail.

 

Cover Preview: The Vegas Shark

Just got the new cover for the next book in the bad boy billionaire series, The Vegas Shark. I did more than a few different things in this book that I will post about more in the future…soon. I’d never really written about a sweet, but clueless, little guy who only wanted one thing in life…to be happy and live happily ever after. I think most of my characters have always had ambitions in life that included some lofty goals. This time I just wanted him to be sweet, sincere, and always getting dumped on. And, at the same time, strong as hell. And who can’t identify with that?

As you can see, there have been a few changes at Ravenous, and new models added to the collection of covers. I know for a fact these models are paid professionals. And the publishers themselves go to New York, to a modeling agency, and shoot on a set or on location sometimes.