Rainbow eBooks Shutting Down
I’d heard about this last week, but didn’t want to post anything until I knew for certain and had a link. Rainbow eBooks, which has been selling digital books with LGBT content, is shutting its web site down at the end of this month.
Rainbow eBooks has announced today that they are shutting down their online bookstore. The web store will remain active for purchases through September 30, 2013 and will remain active for customer downloads through December 31, 2013. After December 31, 2013 Rainbow eBooks will provide direct links to publishers.
The rest of the article goes on to mention how important it is to back up your e-books just in case something like this happens. And it has happened before (1placeforromance.com, and fictionwise.com) and it WILL happen again. It’s also why established authors with small start up presses should be seriously thinking about learning indie publishing if they want to survive. If the online retail stores aren’t lasting, the small online presses won’t either. It’s especially important for those with multiple titles at small presses. If that small press shutters you’ll want to release your backlisted books. My prediction is that most authors of the future will be selling their own books directly from their own web sites…kind like what J.K. Rowling did.
The bookstore feature of J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website went live Tuesday, enabling English-language readers to buy the digital editions of all seven Harry Potter novels—and the audiobook editions—from anywhere in the world. Editions in French, Italian, German and Spanish will be the next wave.
The author who is also the businessperson will flourish in the coming decades.
I don’t think Rainbow eBooks shutting down is any reflection on e-books in a general sense. E-books aren’t going to disappear because a small business shuts down. Brick and mortar bookstores have been going out of business for years and there could be multiple reasons why that vary from business to business.
I think it’s more of a reflection on small businesses, and how hard it is to get any small business off the ground to the point where it’s at least breaking even. It’s also a reflection on how hard it is to get any LGBT oriented business to make a profit, especially in publishing. I see more gay men reading mainstream books than LGBT oriented books all the time. It’s a tight niche market and only a small percentage of the population is going to read LGBT content, and that includes gay people. In the same respect, it was a brave venture for the people who started Rainbow eBooks and I’m sorry to see them go.
Free Excerpt The Arrangement
This is an excerpt from a novella I wrote about a year and a half ago titled, The Arrangement. It was released through ravenous romance as a collaboration with author Andrew Grey who also wrote a novella of his own. The book is titled In Bed with the Boss. My novella is about a young guy during the early l960’s who winds up working in an office building in New York and falling in love with his married boss during a time when anything considered even remotely homosexual was taboo.
Once again, this is the raw version, and you can read the full excerpt with all of the erotic scenes here at my Word Press Blog. I don’t like to add anything with adult content to this blog. And the word press excerpt is much longer than this one.
In l962, if a man was attracted to another man, he was considered a homosexual in clinical terms. In more realistic everyday terms, men like this were considered queers, fags, pansies, deviants, and perverts. Among other crude references, which ranged from pillow-biter to corn-holer, depending on how graphic someone wanted to be, men who were even remotely attracted to other men were, in essence, sick freaks of nature and societal outcasts. And if a man and fell in love with another man, he was one step beyond royally screwed. In other words, there wasn’t much hope.
Toby McFarlane didn’t think of himself as a freak or a pervert, at least not deep down inside where it really mattered. Though he wasn’t sure two men could fall in love with each other, he didn’t discard the concept either.
It wasn’t until he graduated from college and realized his attraction to men wasn’t a stage when he finally decided to stop fighting his feelings and learn to live with them. And even that wasn’t easy. He never went a day without feeling anxious or worried that someone would figure him out. He was always looking over his shoulder, making sure he didn’t make the wrong gestures or give anyone the wrong look. So he did the best he could to blend in with everyone else, which seemed to be the safest way to live his life.
In the summer of l962, right after he graduated from the ultra conservative Drew Universityin New Jersey, Toby moved to New York City. It seemed like the best thing to do. He took a small apartment in midtown Manhattan on the fourth floor of a building that had once been a large single family home. He figured moving to New Yorkwould be safe and there would be more men like him in an urban environment. He knew there were more men like him; he’d read about them and heard about them. But he just wasn’t sure how…or where…to meet them. There had to be a way to search them out, and he was determined to do it.
A week after he moved to New Yorkhe went on an interview. They offered him the job that day and he accepted it with a huge smile and his strongest, manliest handshake. The next Monday he went to work as an assistant art director for Johnson, Frederick, and Lindsay Advertising, Inc, where he fell into a comfortable routine. It was the golden age of advertising and Toby couldn’t have asked for a better position. He wore dark suits and white shirts to work, with skinny solid ties, boxer shorts in pastel colors, and always white undershirts. On his feet he wore black Thom MaCan’s he had shined once a week by an old man named Otis in the lobby of his office building on Madison Avenue. He ate lunch at Horn and Hardart and ordered cheap Chinese take out three times a week. On weekends, he took long walks in central park and took the bus to Newark, NJ, so he could shop in Bamberger’sbecause he thought it was cheaper than Macy’s. On the third Saturday of every month he rode the subway downtown to little Italy to maintain his short dark hair. The barber on Mulberry Street, between Defazio’s Bakery and Orritelli’s shoe repair, only charged three dollars. In those days, Toby’s ninety dollar a week salary wasn’t considered terrible, but he’d learned how to stretch a dollar and make it last.
When Toby walked to work in the morning, he looked just like all the other men on the street. He even wore a dark felt hat and a baggy beige raincoat during inclement weather. The only thing that ever really set him apart from the other men was that he often carried a large portfolio to the office instead of a briefcase. Sometimes he took work home, especially when he was working on an advertising campaign that needed extra attention. When he was inside the office among his peers, no one would ever have guessed he was more interested in the cute young guy who brought the mail up at eleven every morning than he was in the shapely blond receptionist in the front waiting area. That is no one except for Brad Lindsay, one of Toby’s bosses and the third and youngest partner in the advertising agency.
Brad and Toby were both in their twenties, both thin and attractive; both had similar hair cuts and wore similar suits. If Toby’s hair hadn’t been a few shades darker than Brad’s, they could have passed as brothers. The only real difference between them was that Brad was married to Carl Frederick’s daughter, Misty, and Brad had been made a junior partner the day after his wedding. And Toby was single and considered a bachelor.
They weren’t men who should have been close friends, and wouldn’t have been if something hadn’t happened one Friday evening the first autumn Toby worked there. Toby had stayed late to work on a project that had been bothering him. He was the new guy in the office and he wanted to impress his bosses. He’d been trying to come up with a new slogan for a baby food company and he’d been working so hard that day his head was pounding. He’d forgotten to eat lunch and lost track of time. When he finally took a break to go to the men’s room, he ran into Brad Lindsay at the urinals. Brad was standing there leaning back, with his legs spread wide and one hand on his penis. He glanced at Toby and sent him a cocky smile, and then started to whistle a tuneless song that made the short hairs on the back of Toby’s neck stand up.
Toby returned the smile and took a quick breath. He regained his composure and tried to act casual. He usually avoided the men’s room at all cost because it made him feel awkward and out of place. He’d never been a man’s man in the sense that he didn’t know how to talk about sports and dreaded it when other men started talking dirty about women. But he didn’t have a choice now. If he left without doing anything he would have looked peculiar. So he walked up to a urinal at the opposite end of where Brad Lindsay was peeing and pulled down his zipper. Toby’s hands felt a little shaky and his heart started to race. Brad continued to whistle; he took his time and remained in front of the urinal far longer than he should have.
Toby pulled his penis out of his pants and glanced down. He didn’t look sideways and he concentrated on what he was doing. But he felt his ears getting red and his heart had begun to race. If he’d known Brad was in there he would have waited another fifteen minutes.
Then Brad caught him off guard. He smiled and glanced in Toby’s direction again. “Working late tonight?”
This was the first time Toby had actually encountered Brad Lindsay up close. He’d nodded hello and smiled at him in the elevator. But he’d never actually been face to face with him alone. Toby froze; he gulped and said, “Ah well, I’m working on the baby food campaign.”
Brad laughed. “Oh, you poor sucker. I heard all about that son of a bitch. He’s one of the worst clients we’ve ever had. It’s impossible to please him.”
Although they were about the same age, Brad was Toby’s boss and Toby knew he had to treat him like a boss, not a buddy. He’d watched the way other people treated Brad: with great care. “I’ll figure out something that will make him happy, Mr. Lindsay. You can count on that.” Toby was ambitious. So far, he liked working there. And he knew he could only depend on his work ethics and his talents to get ahead because there was no way he’d ever marry the boss’s daughter. Toby had overheard the office gossip. They laughed and said Brad would have been working in the mail room if he hadn’t married old man Frederick’s daughter.
“I’m sure you will,” Brad said, with a deep, smooth voice. “I’ve heard excellent things about you.” Then he stepped away from the urinal without zipping up his pants. He turned toward Toby and took a few steps in his direction.
Toby finished what he’d started and he zipped up his pants. But when he turned and saw that Brad’s dick was still hanging out of his dark gray suit pants, he gulped and swallowed hard.
Brad crossed over to where Toby was standing and said, “I’ve been watching you for a while, Toby.” His dick was still hanging out of his pants: semi-erect now. He reached out and placed his palm on the small of Toby’s back without warning.
“Ah well, Mr. Lindsay,” Toby said. He continued to stare down at the urinal. His fists were clenched so Brad wouldn’t see them shake and it felt as if all the blood in his body had rushed to the top of his head.
Brad rubbed the small of Toby’s back and said, “Please call me Brad. We’re almost the same age. Like I just said, I’ve been watching you and I think we might have a lot in common if you know what I mean.”
Though he’d been confused at first, Toby definitely knew what Brad meant now. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to Toby in a men’s room. Once, during a road trip to the Finger Lakes to visit his Aunt Nan, Toby had stopped at a truck stop to relieve himself and a trucker had made the same advances. Another time, in the men’s room at DrewUniversity, a theology student had followed him into a stall. And then there’d been the time in the bowling alley in Queens, with a young guy who looked like Joe DiMaggio. But Toby never expected this from Brad Lindsay…his boss. And in the men’s room right there in the office. So he took a deep breath and said, “You’re married.”
Brad shrugged. “That’s doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun with a nice guy.” He moved forward and started to rub his crotch up and down Toby’s right leg. “And you are a very nice guy from what I can see.” Toby didn’t have to look down to know that Brad was fully erect by then. He could feel the hardness pressing into his thigh. “Besides, we’re the only two in the office now. I locked the doors in such a way that no one else can get inside. Trust me, I have a lot more to lose than you do.”
“Are you sure we’re all alone?” He wondered how he could have locked the doors so no one else could get inside. But he didn’t ask.
Brad rubbed harder. “I’m positively certain, trust me.”
Toby took a deep breath and turned to face him. Brad was grinning now; his hand had gone down and he was squeezing Toby’s ass. This encounter with Brad wasn’t something Toby would have gone looking for, and he’d certainly never expected it to happen. But he hadn’t been with a man this way for six months. And Brad was an exceptionally good looking guy. So Toby reached down, grabbed Brad’s erection, and said, “I’m very discreet.”
Brad leaned over and kissed his neck. He squeezed his ass harder and said, “I’m just as discreet as you are. You don’t have to worry. As you pointed out, I’m a happily married and I’d like to remain that way. But I don’t see why we can’t become better friends, especially since we have so much in common.”
Toby blinked. “Friends?”
“Very discreet friends who can trust one another completely. You do me a favor; I’ll do you a favor.”
“I hope so. I don’t really have anyone I can trust.”
Brad licked Toby’s earlobe and whispered into his ear. “Can I trust you? I promise you can trust me.”
Toby stroked Brad’s cock gently and smiled. It felt so smooth and warm in his palm he almost gasped. Toby didn’t know any men like himself in New York. He didn’t have anyone he could trust either. And the only time he ever was with men like himself was when he ventured downtown to a little private basement bar in The Village he’d read about in an underground newspaper. And even then they weren’t really like him: they wore loud colors and talked like women. They leered at him and made him feel awkward when they whispered behind his back. He usually wound up leaving before he’d finished his first drink. So he released Brad’s dick and unbuckled his own pants without saying a word. While his heart pumped, he pulled down his zipper and then yanked his pants and his boxer shorts down to his knees at the same time. Then he set his palms on Brad’s chest and sighed.
When he did this, Brad moved forward and rested both hands on his bare ass. Toby closed his eyes and took a breath. He’d forgotten how much he liked to be touched this way by a man. While Brad squeezed and fondled him, he felt a rush and he fell into Brad’s strong arms. Toby squeezed the muscles in Brad’s upper arms and rubbed his cheek against the fabric of Brad’s silky gray suit jacket. He squeezed Brad’s shoulders and ran his palms up and down Brad’s back. Being with a man this way sent shivers through his entire body, especially a real man like Brad. And he did this mainly because it happened so infrequently he had trouble containing his natural instincts.
But Toby also knew this wasn’t going to be a love affair or an emotional experience that he’d recall for the rest of his life. This experience with Brad Lindsay would be the same as his encounter with the rough trucker at the truck stop and the hairy guy at the bowling alley. So after Toby squeezed and inhaled as much of Brad as he could, he decided to move things along without wasting time. He slowly went down on his knees, arched his back, and sucked Brad’s dick into his mouth. He knew this is what Brad wanted by the way Brad was playing with his ass.
Brad’s body jerked. His head went back and he moaned out loud in a way that would have sounded painful if someone had been listening from a distance. He grabbed the sides of Toby’s head gently and spread his legs wider. When Toby took him all the way to the back of his throat and Toby’s lips were buried in his crotch, Toby closed his eyes and inhaled his masculine scent as deeply as he could. He’d almost forgotten how wonderful it was. He remained this way for a long time without moving, taking in as much of Brad as he could. While he did this, Brad applied more pressure to the sides of Toby’s head. At one point, he shoved Toby’s face into his crotch so hard his pubic hair tickled Toby’s nose.
The entire act took less than fifteen minutes, with Toby on his knees the entire time. When Toby started sucking and moving his head back and forth, he grabbed his own dick and started stroking it. One of the things he’d learned about men like Brad Lindsay was that the lines were almost always drawn with respect to who would be on his knees and who would be looking down. And Toby didn’t mind this at all. In fact, he’d always preferred to be the one on his knees looking up.
A second before Brad came, he grabbed Toby’s head and looked down. “Is it okay?”
Toby knew what Brad meant. And it was nice of him to ask. Not all men bothered to ask, not in Toby’s experience. They just grunted and came, and then pulled up their zippers and left. Toby’s eyes went up and they met Brad’s eyes. Toby nodded yes twice, with Brad’s dick almost all the way inside his mouth. Then he started sucking harder and moving his head faster. He applied more pressure with his tongue and his lips until he felt Brad swell and explode. A second after that, while Toby swallowed, Toby stroked out his own load on the white tiled floor between Brad’s legs. By that time Toby’s eyes were still closed and he was still sucking as hard as he had been when Brad had climaxed. It had been so long since the last time Toby had done this he didn’t want to let go of him; he wanted to savor every single minute of this experience for as long as he could for those long lonely night when there would be no one around. At one point, Brad had to literally hold Toby’s face and pry Toby’s lips off his dick.
Brad laughed and took a step back. “Hold on, buddy,” he said. “You’re killing me here. There’s nothing left to give.”
Toby took a quick breath and exhaled. “I’m sorry. I guess I just lost control. It’s been a while.” He sent him an upward glance and smiled. “Thanks.”
Brad went over to the sink and said, “I guess it has been a while. I thought I was going to need a crowbar to pry you away. To be honest, it’s been a while for me, too, and I was going nuts. I should be thanking you.” Then he rinsed his dick with warm water, tapped it on the edge of the sink, shook it off, and shoved it back into his pants damp.
When Toby stood to pull up his pants, Brad reached around and grabbed his ass again. He squeezed it a few times and said, “Thanks, buddy. You’re the best. I really mean that.” And then he left Toby standing beside the urinals with swollen lips and sore knees.
Although this encounter between them was the first and the last they’d ever share, they did become friendlier as the months passed. It wasn’t the type of friendship that Brad had with other guys in the office. Toby didn’t go to baseball games with Brad and he didn’t play poker or golf with him. But they did go out to lunch once in a while and Brad always made sure he stopped in to say hello at least once or twice a day to see how Toby was doing.
This left Toby stunned in more ways than one. After Toby blew Brad in the men’s room, he was certain his job was on the line. He didn’t sleep the entire night or the rest of the weekend. His boss was “happily” married and Toby knew how those things went. And even worse, Brad was married to a senior partner’s daughter. At the very worst, Brad would want him out of the way, if not out of sight completely. At the very least, he feared Brad would avoid him and ignore him as much as possible. And there would always be that unspoken shame between them.
But when Brad popped his head into Toby’s small office the next Monday morning and said, “Good morning, hot lips,” Toby glanced over at him and pressed his palm to his throat. Brad was smiling and leaning halfway into the doorway. He said he was on his way to a meeting but wanted to say hello on the way.
“Ah well, good morning,” Toby said with a dumbfounded expression. Evidently, he’d underestimated Brad.
Brad looked back over his shoulder to make sure no one was listening. He turned back to Toby and asked, “You okay about what happened last Friday night?” Then he laughed, brought his fist to his face, and made fake blow job gestures.
Toby shrugged and smiled. He could still taste Brad’s dick. “I’m good,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about me. I told you I’m discreet.”
Brad exhaled and laughed again. “I’m glad. I had a feeling I could trust you completely. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to our new friendship.”
“You are?” Toby asked. He had no idea what Brad was talking about.
“Buddy, I’ve been looking for a friend like you for years,” Brad said. He glanced at his watch. “I’m late for the meeting. I just wanted to be sure we’re okay. I don’t want you getting the wrong idea about love or anything. That happened to me once before in college and it was nightmare. I never thought I’d get that guy off my back.”
Toby furrowed his eyebrows. “The wrong idea?”
“You know, about what happened last Friday night,” Brad said. He refrained from making the obscene gesture a second time. “I just want it to be clear it was a one time deal and that it’s not going to happen again. But I’d still like to think we can be friends and help each other out every now and then, if you know what I mean.”
Toby didn’t have a clue. But this was his boss and he didn’t want to lose the best job he’d ever had. He knew there was room for advancement in this agency and he wasn’t going to let a simple blow job ruin his career. Besides, there was something about Brad he liked and he didn’t have any friends like himself. So he shrugged and said, “I know exactly what you mean. And don’t worry. I’m fine about what happened last night. I mean that. And I don’t expect it to happen again.” This was the absolute truth, too. The last thing Toby wanted to do was get involved with a married man. He’d had plenty of chances to get involved with women and get married himself. But he’d never felt right about it.
“I knew I could count on you,” Brad said. He looked at his watch again. “I’ve got to run now. But we’ll make plans; I’ll see you later.”
“Sounds good,” Toby said.
“And I promise,” Brad said. “I’ll take good care of you if you take good care of me.”
Toby smiled and watched him leave. He knew Brad wasn’t talking about anything sexual now. He’d made it clear they would never be lovers again. If Toby had been more experienced he might have understood what Brad’s plans were. But he was still so innocent when it came to these things he couldn’t seem to grasp the reason why Brad would even want to pursue a friendship with him.