moving forward

Blogger Fail: The Worst Food Photo of All Time

One of the reasons why food stylists work so hard at making food look good is because it’s not an easy thing to do. I never tackle food here on this blog for that reason. I know I’m not equipped to create a professional, enticing photo with food…or even a tempting photo with food.

And when you’re not equipped to publish food photos, and you know nothing about food styling, you run the risk of nauseating your blog readers. I see it sometimes, though not often, on social media and I often have to turn away and take a deep breath because these photos are so unappealing. Food and love go hand in hand and if the love’s not there, it’s not going to work.

I’m not trying to be a hardass here. I do think amateur bloggers who post harmless photos of food that aren’t professionally done deserve credit for at least trying. And most do try hard. They don’t claim to be professionals and we shouldn’t expect them to be professionals. So those who do this with good intentions, please don’t take this post the wrong way. I’m not talking about you.

I am talking about seasoned opinionated bloggers who have been around long enough to know better. I’m talking about bloggers who are aggressive and don’t think twice about criticizing other people on a whim. There’s nothing wrong with being an aggressive blogger. I love them, I really do. But shouldn’t there come a time when experienced bloggers have to take a look at what they are doing themselves and step up the game a little…as bloggers? Or, at the very least, have the good sense God gave a goose to know what NOT to post so they don’t make people physically ill with hideous food photos?

I’ve always looked at blogging in a variety of ways. Some people blog for fun, other’s blog to inform, and some blog to entertain. For others, blogging is cathartic…these are my favorites. I think that blogging about food and posting food photos falls into all of these categories at one point or another. And I have seen some great professional looking blogs written by amateur bloggers that discuss food and post food photos and they are always looking for ways to improve. I’ve always admired them for this. It keeps getting better…moving forward…not getting worse.

I also think that to a certain extent, after they’ve been blogging for a reasonable amount of time, experienced bloggers should be held accountable for what they publish. In other words, we’re all working toward the goal of professionalism in one way or another, and this includes bloggers as writers and designers.

I used to review blogs for bestgayblogs.com and I once wrote a negative review for a gay blogger whom I thought was self-indulgent, inaccurate at times, and an amateur trying too hard. It wasn’t what I would call a scathing review. But I did get a little nasty, admittedly. I hated the way the blog was executed, written, and designed. I didn’t like anything about it and I was honest about the fact that I couldn’t recommend it to anyone. And I was attacked not only by the author of the blog, but by the people who followed his blog. I’m talking about a blogger behaving as badly as it gets after a bad review. I didn’t change my review. And I’m sure he’s never forgiven me for it.

I’m also sure that some could argue that there is a line between reviewing bloggers and published authors because reading a blog is free and people have to buy books. But that’s not always the case with books and reviews. I’ve seen reviews for free books. I could link to a bad review I suffered once and the reviewer admitted openly in the review that she got the book for free during a publisher promotion. I didn’t attack her. I didn’t behave badly. I didn’t ask my friends and family to attack her. I took it with a smile and I sucked it up like a big boy. And this reviewer had every right to review my book whether she’d paid for it or not. I put it out there and I own my words.I know for a fact that book pirates review and discuss the books they get for free all the time. If you’re putting it out there in writing it’s fair game for anyone to review or discuss.

I guess the best example of what I’m talking about right now would be to link to a food photo…if you can call it that…I recently saw that turned my stomach ten different ways. Here’s the link. Now tell me, does that look like something you’d want to eat? I’m not joking. There should be laws against things like this. If this were airing on the six o’clock news a warning would be announced ahead of time that those with weak stomachs should turn away. 

That’s not only the most hideous food photo of all time floating in cyberspace, but it also does a huge injustice to the actual dish itself, Kedgeree. I’ve had that particular dish prepared in a variety of ways and it’s really very good. It’s actually one of my favorite dishes. But I didn’t have it served up as slop in a frying pan. It was presented on a nice platter, with a simple garnish, and not heaped into a pile of mush that resembles a combination of worms, three kinds of dirt, and a variety of dingleberries. If you look at this photo for too long, you’ll wind up finding a few fingers and toes. I could swear I saw a testicle and a few teeth. And, try looking at THIS food photo the next time you have a stomach flu! You’d better be holding a bucket.

I know some will think I’m being too hard on this photo. But the blogger has been around long enough to know better and I think I’m being honest with my review of this photo. Seriously, I’m actually being kind. You’re posting a photo of something you want people to eat and you didn’t take the time to arrange it on a platter, garnish it, and work a little on the lighting? How shabby is that? Why not just call it: “Filling for Dingleberry Pie.”

Now, in order to finalize this point, here’s a link to the perfect photo of this dish, when prepared with love and styled correctly. In case you don’t trust me, here’s another, and yet another. I wish I could post the photos here, but I’m not sure about the copyrights and it’s safer to link. It’s also nicer to link to the people who took the time to make this dish look as spectacular as it really is. Trust me, if you try it you’ll love it, you really will.

On Moving Forward with Ravenous Romance…

Earlier this week I posted about Lori Perkins leaving Ravenous Romance. Although this was sad news to hear, for me this is something I’ve seen many times in publishing.

In the past twenty years I’ve seen editors switch jobs from one house to another, I’ve seen editors become literary agents, I’ve seen literary agents start their own agencies and then join other agencies. I’ve also seen the reverse, where agents leave literary agencies to start their own. Publishing can be a transient business and it’s not uncommon to see a publishing professional make an announcement about a new position or venture after working three or four years in another position.

I remember losing one of my favorite editors a while back at Alyson Books and I was devastated for a while. I loved the way he edited, I loved the anthologies he created, and I loved working with him. Since then, our paths have crossed and we’ve collaborated on other projects in e-publishing.

I’m going into detail like this because I don’t want people to think that Ravenous Romance itself is changing in any way. I’ve contacted Holly and it’s business as usual. Although I don’t have any titles out with them at the present time with my own name, I do have a book coming out with a pen name. I’ve had other books published with ravenous with pen names I would never reveal because that would contradict the entire concept of having a pen name. I do it because it’s more about switching genres than hiding a deep dark secret.

So whenever you see that an editor or other publishing professional is making a life change, that doesn’t mean anything other than that. They are making a life change they think is the best professional decision for them and it has nothing to do with the publisher. As I said, publishing is a small industry and we run into each other all the time when we least expect it. It’s also part of the fun. I’m working with an editor at Cleis right now that I worked with at Alyson almost a decade ago. And I’m not in the least surprised at this point.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I ran into Lori Perkins one day in the future and wound up working with her again. That’s the way it goes.

Lambda Literary Changes the Rules For Lambda Awards

I just saw this and wanted to post about it. I’m thrilled to see that things are changing for once in a positive direction. Of course it would also be nice to see the LLF add e-books, too. But I have a feeling that’s going to take a long time. Like most of publishing, there are still a lot of people who have yet to embrace e-books and many who don’t even understand them. I even know one or two people who think e-books are a passing trend and will die out. Who knows? All I do know is once I switched to an e-reader I never went back to print…for a variety of reasons, most having to do with the higher quality of my reading experience with an e-reader.

This is what the LLF says about e-books: Books available in eBook format alone are not eligible. Interesting mind set, especially with amazon’s .99 e-books doing so well. You have to wonder if some of these nice folks are living under rocks. I’ll post more about that in the future.

For now, I’m thrilled to see that Lambda has added the changes, especially this one: These awards will be open to all authors regardless of their sexual identity. Even though I don’t enter award contests, ever, (It’s a personal thing for me…I’m not writing to win awards and I never did write to win awards…I don’t even enter the Rainbow Awards and I’m one of the jurors. And anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love Elisa Rolle, the person who started the Rainbow Awards.) I’m thrilled to see the LLF do this.

Here’s the link, and below is the article.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 29, 2011

CONTACT: Dr. Judith Markowitz, LLF Co-Chair

(773) 769-9243, jmarkowitz@pobox.com

Lambda Literary Foundation Announces

New Guidelines for Lambda Literary Awards Submissions

For its first 20 years, the Lambda Literary Foundation accepted submissions for the Lambda Literary Awards based solely on a book’s LGBT subject matter. That policy changed in 2009 to restrict the awards to self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer authors. After two years of implementing the LGBT-only policy, the queer book community remains sharply divided about limiting Lammy nominations to LGBT authors only.

In its review of the LGBT-only policy, the LLF Board of Trustees took into consideration LLF’s mission statement

The Lambda Literary Foundation nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers.

and core provisions in its Bylaws. The Board also noted that the large majority of finalists and winners of the Lambda Literary Awards have been LGBT authors, but not all of them. There have also been a small number of outstanding books about LGBT lives written by our heterosexual allies.

In addition, the LLF Board solicited opinions from individuals in the LGBT book community, including publishers, authors, important donors, readers, and casual supporters. Those opinions represented both sides of the issue and were, in many cases, intensely held.

After careful consideration of all these factors, the Board crafted a new policy designed to honor excellence in writing about LGBT lives. The new policy has three components:

LGBT authors will be recognized with three awards marking stages of a writer’s career: the Betty Berzon Debut Fiction Award (to one gay man and one lesbian), the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize (to one male-identified and one female-identified author), and the Pioneer Award (to one male-identified and one female-identified individual or group)

Awards for the remaining Lambda Literary Award categories will be based on literary merit and significant content relevant to LGBT lives. These awards will be open to all authors regardless of their sexual identity

All book award judges will be self-identified LGBT

“We fully understand the importance of this issue and the extent to which it has divided our community,” said LLF Board Co-Chair, Dr. Judith Markowitz. “Resolving these strongly-held differences was not easy. We worked carefully keeping in mind the best interests of LGBT people, writing, and writers.”

She continued, “The policy we’ve crafted recognizes that those opposing viewpoints are actually contained in LLF’s mission. We hope that the result of our deliberations promotes healing and strengthens LGBT writers and literature.”

The revised guidelines appear on the LLF website. They are effective immediately in preparation for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards to be held in New York City in early June 2012.

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The Lambda Literary Foundation nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers. LLF’s programs include: the Lambda Literary Awards, the Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, and our comprehensive website, http://www.LambdaLiterary.org. For more information call (213) 568-3570.