Category: hugh howey

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

Dr. Oz and FTC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diets don’t work.

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

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

Hugh Howey and Zonalert

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

From the most recent post over at Zonalert:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama Executive Order and ENDA

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

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

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

You can read the rest here.

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

Something for St. Jude by Ryan Field

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

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

One Amazon review:

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

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

Hugh Howey at DearAuthor; Miss Kentucky Was Queer; God Punishes Gays

Hugh Howey at DearAuthor

When I was in college, I took a chemistry requirement in the summer. On the first day of class, the professor walked into the room, dropped her briefcase, and said, “I’d like to inform you that if you have part time jobs you’re going to have to quit in order to keep up with this class because I’m the most demanding professor in this department. If that’s an issue with anyone, feel free to leave right now.” I looked around the lecture room at all the terrified faces, grabbed my books, and stood up. As I turned to leave I smiled at the professor and just kept walking toward the door. I dropped that summer course, picked it up the following September with another professor I knew I wouldn’t have an issue with, and I received an A. I learned early that some people, like that condescending professor in the summer course, tend to make life more difficult than it has to be.

As I was reading a blog post at the DearAuthor web site, it reminded me of that story and that professor. The post is titled, Is Genre Fiction Creating a Market for Lemons? It’s a highly subjective (opinionated) piece written with an elitist academic voice that discusses self-published books, book reviews, and book prices. And while I agree with many of the points made, I found it a little insulting in a “sui generis” way and I doubt most of the people reading genre fiction today would even bother to finish it, which is unfortunate. In other words, I could have just said I found it insulting in a “unique” way, but used “sui generis” to either impress you or make you feel stupid. Because, you know, I went to college and I have them big time degrees hanging on my wall.

In any event, I think you get my point. But the post does get interesting when the author brings up Hugh Howey’s books. It doesn’t get easier to read; just interesting. It’s a clever passive aggressive approach that at one point questions Amazon reviews and the quality of reviews. Again, it’s subjective and in a way it points out some of the issues I’ve posted about previously with regard to all reviews in a general sense. Just look at the reviews I’ve posted about for the TV show, Looking, and the various ways so many gay men have received the show. When I reviewed a review of Looking I wanted to point this out clearly. I also find that the reviews for Looking are honest and balanced…even though I don’t agree with them all. That honesty and balance I find with Looking reviews doesn’t always happen for me with Amazon reviews.

If you can manage to get through the entire DA post, you’ll find a very interesting comment thread where author, Hugh Howey, replies to the author of the post in that humble, down-home, honest way he has that could melt proverbial butter. One comment he made in particular made me read twice:

I remember thinking, when my reviews hit 3,000+ and the book still had a 5-star average, that this was getting ridiculous, and could it please stop. It was a great relief to see the average fall to 4.5 stars, which was less obnoxious.

Talk about sui generis. I can only say that I have worked in publishing for over twenty years. I have best friends who have worked in publishing for over forty years. And I have never once, not in all that time, heard anyone say they wish they had less good reviews. And that’s because I have never seen anyone get only good reviews. Never. Most reviews for most books are always balanced…or at least somewhat balanced. If you don’t believe me hop over to goodreads and check out the reviews for Pulitzer Prize winning authors like Anne Tyler.

There are also a few comments on the thread left by the always graceful romance author, Courtney Milan, who has a gift for balancing the most subjective topics in the most elegant, civil ways.

You can read the entire piece here. I think it’s worth the time and effort just to read the comment thread alone. And, for the record, in spite of my own snark, I don’t disagree with the post by any means. I just wish it had been written with less condescension and more to the point. Because the topic is something we’re all dealing with now: authors, self-published authors, publishers, and readers. Most of us are not happy about it.

God Punishes Gays

Lately, there seems to be something more outrageous in the news as each day passes. This time it’s about a pastor in Tennessee who thinks God punishes gays and lesbians by making them effeminate or mannish. Ugh!

‘God turning people over to their own desires, men lusting after men, women after women, and they receive in their own bodies the penalties for their sin,’ he says, as Right Wing Watch first reported.

 ‘I have watched people go into a lifestyle, and all of a sudden they become…a man starts to become very effeminate – mannerisms, speech.

‘I’ve seen the reverse, I’ve seen the same thing with women [who] start becoming mannish.

‘What’s going on? They’re taking in their bodies a penalty for deviating from God’s loving design and plan.’

You can read more here. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I just feel sorry for the people who believe this guy.

Miss Kentucky Was Queer

In a piece that directly negates the above post with regard to effeminate and mannish gays, a former Miss Kentucky recently came out and said she’s queer.

Her passion has been really ‘fueled’ by a federal judge, who ordered the state of Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages on Thursday (27 February). ]

As a child, Trent describes how she couldn’t understand why God made her ‘wrong’.

She said she was scared her family members were going to walk out of her life if she were to admit she is queer.

She’s absolutely beautiful, on the inside and out.

You can read more here.



A Hugh Howey Post; Blogger Confronts Fox News on Nudity



A Hugh Howey Post

When it comes to things like this I’m often caught in a rough spot being a published author and a self-published author who also blogs regularly. In other words, this blog isn’t just here for me to concentrate on my published books and to try to persuade you to buy them. I do post information about my books here often, and I hope people buy them, but I also blog about a variety of topics, from pop culture to LGBT issues, to publishing. 

So in cases like this, with regard to the paid book review issue that’s been going on with Hugh Howey and a few other well known self-published authors, the best I can do is remain completely objective and link to information out there without forming an opinion. You can read more about this in a previous post I wrote last week, here.

Since then, there’s been another post by ZonAlert naming Howey and another self-pubbed author I never heard of. And I’ve also read several blog posts by people who are supporting Hugh Howey in particular. This one I’m linking to now is interesting because there’s a huge photo of Hugh Howey sitting with a group of what appear to be happy, friendly Amish people (the author of the post writes Amish Sci-Fi Books). I’ll have to ask my good Amish buddy I posted about once here, if they are Amish. As a side note, since my Amish friend wrote that guest post, I have kept up my correspondence with him almost daily and we’ve become very good cyberfriends. He’s a fascinating man, and he’s helped break my stereotypical images of the Amish. Unfortunately, you won’t see me posing in photos with him any time soon…or anyone Amish. I have too much respect for him to exploit him that way.

In any event, this is the post about Hugh Howey, with the photo of Howey socializing with the Amish.

He (Howey) is paying me off because he is changing the publishing industry, challenging the status quo, creating a wake for other authors to follow, and completely revolutionizing the relationship between author and reader.
 
Now I know that there are people who are on a witch hunt for so-called “fake” reviews. I hate to even use the term “witch hunt”, because as bad as the Salem Witch Trials were, at least you knew the names of the accusers, you knew what they believed,and what criteria they used to declare someone a “witch.” No one was hiding in the shadows in Salem… at least the principle accusers and judges were not. The accusers were up on the stand too, and they’ve been judged by posterity and found wanting.
 
Blogger Confronts Fox News on Nudity
 
Speaking of blogging, this is the kind of story all bloggers love to hear. There is a week long series of events at Brown University called “Nudity in the Upspace.” The entire event focuses on body image. It’s not smutty or dirty. It’s designed to help people feel better about their bodies, and to show that nudity is natural. I’ve posted about that, too, and how I’ve been to many nude beaches over the years and after the first five minutes of being nude you don’t even realize it anymore because it feels so normal. But when a blogger at Brown University found out Fox News was coming to report on “Nudity in the Upspace,” she decided to turn the tables on the reporter and film him instead to make sure he wouldn’t turn his report into anything sensational or tasteless…because that’s been done before. 
 
The Brown U blogger, Cara Newlon, made this statement on BlogDailyHerald:
 
Full disclosure: I’m not an expert on Nudity in the Upspace or nude events. I’ve never been to SexPowerGod, and I’m probably going to pass on Nudity in the Upspace this year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with its mission statement, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t defend my home, my school, when it comes under attack for the third time by Bill O’Reilly and his team of “Fair and Balanced” reporters.
 
The Fox News reporter, Jesse Watters, said this:
 
“If there’s a naked event on a college campus,” Watters said, “I want to investigate it.”
 
You can read more in BlogDailyHerald. There’s a video where Jesse Watters talks about nudity. But he doesn’t take off his pants.
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Matt Damon Emmy; Unethical Authors Zone Alert; Gay Russian Sex



Matt Damon Emmy

No, Matt Damon didn’t win an Emmy Award for Behind the Candelabra this year, but Michael Douglas, his co-star, did win one for his portrayal of Liberace.

“This is a two hander,” Douglas said, in reference to his co-star Matt Damon. “And Matt, you’re only as good as your other hand. You’re magnificent, and the only reason I’m standing here is because of you. You really deserve half of this. So … you want the bottom or the top?”

I thought that was both generous and honest. Damon was equally as good, and he had to play the part of someone twenty years younger, which was amazing to watch. I’m still not thrilled that straight white men who rule the world get all the important parts in Hollywood, including the parts where they portray gay men. Especially since Matt Bomer was overlooked for the part of Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. But the fact is both Douglas and Damon were good in the film. It just would have been even nicer if they’d managed to leave out the funny-ha-ha gay jokes and innuendos during promotion and after the film.

They kissed.

They aren’t gay.

We get it.

And we don’t care.

Unethical Authors Zone Alert

Update: In an unrelated article to book publishing, the NY Attorney General is fed up with fake reviews.

New York’s attorney general revealed the results of a yearlong investigation into the business of fake reviews. Eric T. Schneiderman announced Monday that 19 companies that engaged in the practice will stop and pay fines between $2,500 and $100,000, for a total of more than $350,000 in penalties.

Yesterday when I posted about Kirkus and authors paying for book reviews, I had no idea this web site even existed until later in the day. The blog is called Amazon Alert, and the web address is Zonealert. From what I gather in a general sense, they are investigating book reviews on Amazon.

Anything written in this blog is the opinion of the blog creators. Our posts are not meant to defame, harass or personally attack any individual or company. However, as journalists, we intend to report what we’ve encountered while investigating fake reviews since 2010. Our promise to readers is that we won’t post anything without careful research and double-checking the facts.

I have little to say on this topic, because I know very little about it. I don’t pay for reviews, never did pay for reviews, and never will pay for reviews. I get them the old fashioned way: I wait for people to buy my books, read my books, and leave reviews. However, according to a recent post on this zone alert, several authors with fairly high profiles have allegedly engaged in the practice of paying for reviews, and on quite a grand scale. I’m not talking about one Kirkus review now.

According to zone alert:

In a rather odd turn, Hugh Howey, who was merely listed here as a review buyer in the official September 12 Fiverr Report on Melissa Foster but made no other mention of, has gone on a weeks’ long tirade professing his innocence. Bizarre behavior for someone who is supposedly innocent, especially as he’s using his ongoing tirade as a promotional vehicle to get family, friends, and other supporters to flood Amazon with favorable reviews.

I once posted about Howey here, and a rant post he wrote about his experiences with a young woman at one of those book events we hear about all the time. Howey is a self-published author who is represented by the Nelson Literary Agency, a literary agency based out west somewhere that runs an e-publishing service for its self-published clients.

Zone alert, according to the same post I’ve linked to above, is working on a book deal right now that will get more deeply involved in the investigations they’ve made about paid solicited book reviews and “the dark side of publishing.”

The acquisition editor writes in the acceptance letter: “I’m as appalled by this behavior as you are and I congratulate you on your dedication to revealing truth. Your photocopies of emails between authors and [the company you worked at], particularly the brazen nature of M. Foster’s emails, leaves no doubt they knew what they were doing was wrong.”

As journalist Linda Ellerbee used to say, “And so it goes”

And as I’ve predicted before, I think this is the beginning of the end of the lawless old wild west of the Internet.

Gay Russian Sex

In this article, the practices of gay sex in Russia are examined.

“In the toilet a young lad came up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Let’s get acquainted,'” Klimov later recalled. The man’s name was Volodya. He invited Klimov to the Lenin Museum.

“He bought the tickets with his money, and we went straight to the men’s toilet.”

I know that sounds highly irregular and superficial on the surface. However the article goes into far more detail about cruising in Europe and even offers explanations as to why this happens. And, as in most cases with articles of this nature, the comment thread is just as interesting.

Frankly, I don’t see how much of it differs from the US. Cruising is, and always has been, part of gay culture everywhere. I think that will change, though. 

Self-pubbed Star Hugh Howey’s Epic Rant

I hadn’t planned on posting about this incident with author Hugh Howey and his public rant, but since all authors are under scrutiny now more than ever, I decided to put it up just for my own sake, and record it on this blog. I often think of this blog as my own personal journal, and I reference it all the time. And this is news; this is interesting; this is current. I might want to go back and reference it once again.

For those who don’t know, Hugh Howey is a self-published author who has done well…very well. He has a deal with a big publisher, and from what I’ve read a nice movie deal. I haven’t read him; I know nothing else about him. He is what all self-pubbed authors dream of becoming. Well, most anyway. Not everyone wants that kind of fame and some writers just want to be career writers and continue working until they die. But I digress. Our culture promotes this kind of thing, and most people want it…but not all of us.

In any event, Howey met up with an aggressive young woman at WorldCon last year who wasn’t fond of self-publishing, made her views known openly, and went on her own little public rant. According to everything I’ve read she was quite obnoxious about it. Howey didn’t like this, and he went after her on his blog and on goodreads at a later date. (Interesting how goodreads always pops up during shitstorms.) I don’t know who this young woman is, but if anyone does know, I’d be interested in learning a little more about her background in publishing. Just curious.

It all started while Howey was standing in line with a group of people from Canada, listening to this aggressive young woman talk about how she was going to get one of these people from Canada an agent and help him/her with his/her writing career. That alone sounds suspicious to me. Again, who is this young woman? How is she going to do this? When Howey politely interjected, the young woman allegedly became belligerent and started to bash self-publishing without even knowing about Howey’s success in self-publishing. She actually asked him what awards he’d won. From what I gather, Howey remained calm and polite during this confrontation with the aggressive young woman and he did not respond to her attacks. But don’t quote me on that: getting *objective* information these days isn’t easy.

What happened after that is where it gets interesting. Again, from what I can gather, Howey didn’t actually do anything or say anything offensive to this pushy young woman that day. He went about his business and then wrote about this incident later. He talked about what he wanted to say to her as if daydreaming aloud, and what he imagined doing…in a blog post, after the fact. Not what he actually did do. And because he wrote about what he thought about doing on his blog and on goodreads, the Interwebs went berserk.

Interestingly enough, Howey received no attention for this for almost a week or more, and then someone saw it, and it has since erupted into what some are calling an Epic Rant about “vast and deep offensiveness.”

Get my smelling salts.

You can read more here, where they’ve reposted Howey’s original post that he’s since deleted. How they get to do that without his permission I’m not certain, but they did it anyway and I’m really not sure how those things work.

Romance author Courtney Milan made this statement in the article two which I’ve linked, and that’s exactly how I would have handled a situation like that, too. I’ve always believed that words have power, and a writer more than anyone should understand the magnitude of that power and never, ever, abuse it. It’s why I refuse to embrace the word “queer,” and find it just as insulting as the word “bitch” used toward women. You can quote me on that one!

“‘Crazy bitch who needs to be slapped’ are words that carry very different connotations than ‘rude, ignorant person who is wrong,’” noted romance author Courtney Milan.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this aloud (and I don’t support what Howey did). But I also have hundreds of unpublished blog posts for a reason. I’ve been insulted, attacked, and denigrated many times, and I often write blog posts/rants for my own personal therapeutic reasons (Dear Abbey once said it was okay to do this with letters). After I write them, and I calm down a little, I realize that these are posts I wrote off the top of my head, during a bad mood, and they are not things I would normally write when I’m in a normal frame of mind. As I said, I don’t like words like “bitch” and “queer,” and I do think they are offensive. However, we all make mistakes and Howey has issued an apology here.

I apologized for the post and decided to leave it up. I didn’t want to run or hide from the mistake I made. Then I called my wife, who is currently on the other side of the globe from me, had a good cry, and listened to her advice.

I also strongly believe in forgiveness. It’s right up there with gratitude. And to ignore High Howey’s sincere apology would not make me a better person. One of the things I like most about our culture is that it is built around this type of forgiveness.