Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Thanks, No Wanks

Just felt like rhyming today!

The good folks over at Liquid Silver were, thank goodness, keeping track of things while I was lost in the auction black hole last week and have been lost in back-pain hell and WIP catch-up this week. Specifically, they've been keeping track of developments on the Bastards and Pretty Boys front. So without further ado . . .

Big thanks to Jenre (over at Well Read and Reviews by Jessewave) for the time she took with this novella. Jen is truly one of the best reviewers in the business, even though it isn't a
business for her -- which makes her investment of time even more impressive. And thanks to Lilyraines at NOR for the "Reviewer Top Pick" rating. I rather liked her summation of the book, which was:

"Bastards and Pretty Boys is a novella about good and bad relationships and the timing it takes to know when to get rid of the ballast and when to unfurl the sails and go forward. It is about trust and sharing and also knowing that, as bad as things can seem, they aren't that bad when there is the right person to share them with."

I'm even more grateful to dear Tam and Leah for offering their unsolicited feedback on this blog (in the comments section of previous posts), 'cause they were speaking only as appreciative readers. I can tell you from my heart, spontaneous kind words are better than a hottie dipped in gold!

I recently got an email from Elisa Rolle (not personal, but one of those mass mailings) re. the GLBTQ books published over a one-month period. She somehow finds the patience to track them all. And how many titles were on her list? I stopped counting at 100. In fact, there were probably close to 150. One hundred fifty! In one month! In one genre!

So it's understandable, or should be, why we authors who aren't on everybody-and-their-mother's perennial Top Ten list keep asking ourselves, "Whom do you have to fuck to get a review around here?" And thus my gratitude for the two reviews and whatever reader feedback each of my books usually garners. I may not get fifteen raves in a row accompanied by a chorus of reader-squee, but at least somebody's paying attention. Writers do write to be read, after all.

Love you guys.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hey, Phelps, you mofo!

So after dosing myself with analgesics and finding the right pillow to put behind me on my desk chair, I finally got into a nice writing groove. In fact, I think physical pain helps deepen a story, as long as the author can keep it from interfering with her/his keyboarding skills.

After a fairly productive day, off I went in search of a brief diversion, because my life's been sorely lacking in amusement over the past week. What led to my chuckles, in a roundabout way, was a message delivered via the wonderful members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas and their eloquently perspicacious pastor, Fred Phelps. See it there, on the right? I swear, these warm-hearted folks put the "Christ" back in "Christian."

After catching up with news on the equal-opportunity-haters front (because WBC also foments loathing of Jews, Blacks, and the entire United States of America, for being the melting pot it is), I followed some links and came upon an even more inspiring website.

Look what it let me do!

Click on the post title to do some sign-making of your own. It's very therapeutic.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Great and Powerful Consignment Auction

As the last Sunday of each April and September approaches, I ask myself the same question: Why the fuck am I doing this to myself?

There's a certain local supper club (with high prices by most rural standards) that hosts a mammoth outdoor consignment auction on these two days. Every year. It's a local tradition. The place is surrounded on all sides by fields, one of which is usually full of drying, rattling corn . . . and kind of creepy, since it butts right up against the auction site and is a little too reminiscent of a Stephen King story that happened to be on TV last night.

The auction is held in the grassy, weedy meadow behind the supper club. If the weather promises to be nice, people from all around haul in crap by the trailer- and truckload. Literally. There are rows upon rows of things people are hoping to unload -- from Chinese-made merde to farm implements, antiques and collectibles to common household items and large appliances. And hunting rifles. Of course, hunting rifles. Three auctioneers drive their yodel-wagons up and down the rows, trying to peddle the various wares . . . with varying degrees of success.

I take my "unwanteds" there whenever I can. If the weather promises to be nice (which it didn't last April, so I had a bumper crop of castoffs this weekend). Preparing for this event eats up the better portion of a week for me, and I pretty much get nowhere near my computer. Why? Because I try to sensibly group things into boxes and flats. I try to make sure it's all reasonably clean. I don't take folding tables to the auction, since they can be and have been boosted, so I scrounge up banana boxes from a local bent-and-dent grocery and set my items on top of these. (Why I have so much junk to get rid of is a story in and of itself. I'm not a hoarder, though, in case you're wondering.)

Then begins the packing of my car and the driving -- a three-day ordeal. On the first day, I stake my spot and set out my "table" boxes, which must be tarped lest they get wet or blown away. On the second day, I haul whatever I can cram into my Ford Escort wagon, untarp the boxes, set out my sale items, and retarp. On the third day, the day of the auction, I get up very early to get to the site before the auction begins, so I can untarp my spot and neaten it. If I have money to spend, I'll hang out and bid on a few things, chat with acquaintances, and maybe venture into the bar to catch the Packers game on TV.

Today, no. I just left. I'd had it. I was broke, my back ached, my knees ached, and I was in a generally pissy mood.

My ultimate goal? To divest my life of the ball-and-chain called clutter, move somewhere else, and live simply and happily. One of the many lessons I've learned over the years is that STUFF can really weigh you down. So take heed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How's this for a promo gimmick?

So I'm taking a break, cruising the 'Net. And what do I come upon today? No, not my name in a happy place. I find a peculiar way for an author to pimp his or her latest book:


For a chance to win a signed Advance Review Copy, all you need do is spend time at some "social networking" site or your blog or any-damned-body's blog talking about why and how much you want this book. Posting the cover and an excerpt, or links to the cover and excerpt, will ingratiate you even further with the author (to whom, of course, you must report back with the url of your place of pimpage).

Seriously? Like, people are being asked to promote a book they haven't yet read, because it hasn't yet been released? On the chance they might win a copy? And might not even like it after telling everybody in the blogosphere exactly why and how much they planned on liking it?

I had to read this announcement a couple of times to make sure I was reading it right. Yup. Get on the stump, girls, and hawk this book . . . even though you didn't write it, didn't read it, probably won't win it, and have absofreakinglutely no reason to piss away your time in an effort to fatten this publisher's bank account!


Do you think readers will actually take this bait? Would you? (If you answered yes to the second question, get back to me, 'cause I'm sure we can cut a deal. Heh.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Shittiest Book Ever?

How shitty does a book have to be to sell roughly 105 copies a year? (Hell, a lot of ebooks score much higher numbers in one month!)

Well, shitty enough for one reviewer to say only the author is to blame if readers fling the book aside "like so much trash," because said author is obviously "disdainful of learning the craft of an artist." Shitty enough for another reviewer to judge the book infinitely worse than two of its predecessors, one of which was characterized as "a stupid failure" and the other as "hopelessly dull."

Ouch. Now that's shitty.

That's also Moby-Dick, not only the greatest American novel, bar none, but the greatest novel written in English in the entire nineteenth century. (This is not open for debate.) In its first 36 years in print, Moby-Dick sold 3,797 copies. Thirty-six effing years! And when Herman Melville died in 1891, his masterpiece wasn't even mentioned in his New York City obituary.

Today, as I type, the first first edition (expurgated, published in England in three volumes, and titled The Whale) is being offered for sale by one dealer at $95,000. And to think one critic complained that its original U.S price of $1.50 was too much!

Why did I post this? Beats me. Maybe because I'm writing a story called Mobry's Dick. Maybe it made me think about this classic I used to read once a year for about ten years straight, because there was/is so much wealth to mine in the book. Same is true for Melville's shorter novel The Confidence Man and his short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener."

Herman Melville was a freakin' genius, and it saddens me every time I realize he died in relative obscurity, without his genius having been recognized by his contemporaries. What's really galling, and appalling, is the likelihood that other truly shitty scribblers received considerably more recognition (and money)-- even though their mediocrity made them quickly fade from the annals of American literature.

Yikes, I wonder how many twenty-first-century Melvilles are laboring away, turning out brilliant fiction, while Stephenie Meyer rakes in the dough and secures herself of a big, splashy obit in the New York Times. (I'm grimacing with ya, Herm!)

There's no lesson here, I'm afraid. Just a kind of depressing bit of cultural trivia.

(P. S. Sheesh, hashmark romfail is again rolling through Twitter. I don't know what book they're eviscerating this time, but those broads really need to get a life.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Better With Age

So, Ellora's Cave has put together two anthologies of stories and novellas from its "Oh Yum!" series featuring older women with younger men. My contribution, Liberation, is in the volume you see here (a 314-page trade paperback). I must admit, EC did a surprisingly good job on the cover. It's actually tasteful! And pretty! And has no chesty displays!

Click on the post title to satisfy your curiosity. You can, of course, still buy the stories individually in electronic format. Mine culminates in creative public sex. On a stage. In front of an audience. Yes, EC likes its kink. They don't, however, like commas or certain words, and I still cringe when I see the results of those preferences in my final copy. So have pity. ("Channel." WTF? How'd that word get there? I never put it there!)

I still don't know when my fantasy trilogy is coming out in print, and that's the one I've really been looking forward to since 1. the work is all mine, and 2. I won't have to split the damned royalties with five other people and end up with 18-cent checks--no exaggeration. *sigh*

UPDATE: My recently assigned "new" editor at EC, a very nice and very smart woman, said my Galdeshian fantasy collection is indeed scheduled for print, in time, she hopes, for EC's "Romanticon" in October. The book will be 107,000 words of dragon deliciousness served up via bold and randy women and sexually flexible men. (In fact, a couple of the stories in the trilogy contain some of my earliest forays into m/m eroticism.) So if you like otherworld fantasy and don't mind the "taint" of strong-willed yet willing females, you may very well like this collection. It will contain the complete editions of Wing and Tongue, Cauldron of Keridwen, and Prince of Glacier Glas. Oh, how I love the magic in these stories and in this world!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Me-Me

Okay, my memory hasn't gone entirely to hell. Jen tagged me a while back to post something having to do with my workspace. Now here's the part where my memory has gone to hell. Aren't I supposed to list five of this and five of that? Like, five places where I stash the drugs, booze, and condoms? Or is it the inspy romances and foods that resemble saints? I can't remember.

Anyway, that desk above used to be my work desk. It isn't anymore, because the only space in which it fits affords no privacy whatsoever. Not in this shack, anyway. But it's a lovely old walnut office desk, and I've had it far longer than I've had any husband or boyfriend. Got it eons ago when I was in graduate school -- $25 at a garage sale -- and I've used the everlovin' snot out of it. It's my most beloved possession and has moved with me to about twelve different residences all over the upper Midwest.

Why can't my most beloved possession be a freakin' watch?

The monks? Yeah, this space also serves as my monk nook. I like monks. In fact, I have many totems. The corner where that rocking chair sits is now occupied by an empty fish tank. The rocking chair isn't mine, and I've always despised it, so I'm glad it's now rotting away in the garage. I like the fish tank a great deal, although I'd like it much more if it weren't cursed. Fish have very short life expectancies when they're in that tank. The bookcase used to belong to my mother. It's one of several I have.

Now, the foot under the door. That's the entrance to my current workroom, and the foot belongs to Buddy, the dog I eulogized in another post. You'll be happy to learn he was still alive when I took the picture. 'Cause, honestly, I'm nowhere near pervy enough to stick the paw of a dead dog under my office door -- no matter how much I might miss him.

The bookcase on which my hooker phone sits is what you see upon entering my sanctum santorum. The phone does work, but only for special incoming calls -- if you catch my drift.

Then you'd see a bulletin board loaded with crap I rarely look at, but it makes me feel secure. Then there's my shitty ancient computer and my equally shitty printer (the immeasurable shittiness of which you're well aware of by now), and a rather nicely placed window that lets me gaze out at the pines and the big ol' dog pen that used to house chickens until raccoons picked 'em all off.

Other features lay within, like a nice big bay window to the right and more bookcases and such, but I didn't feel like taking additional pictures.

See if you can spot the hedgehog!

See if you can spot Nathan! (Actually, I know you can't, because I positioned my desk chair to keep him hidden. He's shy about his role as my under-desk man. I guess most guys would be.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Day, Good Day

A lakeside summer idyll,
a budding romance . . .
and jealousy gone horribly awry.
(Available NOW at Liquid Silver Books. Click on post title to get there.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The results are in . . .UPDATE

BREAKTHROUGH: Publisher takes pity on author with shitty printer and offers to mail contract copies! Behold the power of the Whine! (Seriously, though, this pointless ordeal pretty much ruined my weekend. And I feel like a total loser for being the only writer whose printer chokes on the company's watermark.)

Well, guys, in spite of all your efforts to help, I can't seem to get that mangy Dell monkey to behave. After a full day of seeking help at my authors' loop and elsewhere on the 'Net, nobody seems to realize what a sack of shit the All-in-One printer is. You see, it can perform three tasks -- scanning, copying, and printing -- but can't do any of them with any degree of finesse. Normally, the AiO's borderline performance is acceptable -- I don't need to do a lot of scanning, copying, or printing and, when I do, the unit's output suffices. It's only this publisher's watermark that gives me major headaches.

What a total freakin' waste of time, effort, and ink.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hair Pulling and Head Knocking

Why can't I have a good day? An unadulterated GOOD day?

So Bastards and Pretty Boys is coming out on Monday. That's cool. It's my first first-person m/m contemporary, and I loved writing it. The story flowed, the characters formed and chose their voices, and romance seeped in and ultimately made for a HFN packed with optimism.

However, LSB has a peculiar way of spotlighting its "coming soon" books. They're all thrown together on the LSB forum, so a book coming out the next day is on the same footing with a book coming out six months down the pike. Imminent releases are not bumped to the head of the page, as one might reasonably expect, but must fight their way to the head of the page via comments. Since I haven't had any recent comments, my Monday release is slipping down the page, because visitors are commenting on coming-NOT-so-soon books. Go figure that shit out!

Then I get an email from another publisher. The contract I just sent in for a book is "invalid." Two copies made the trek across half the continent, and now they're fucking "invalid." Why are they invalid? Because the fucking watermark doesn't appear! Why doesn't it appear? I have no fucking idea! I filled out the contract and hit "print." The pages were perfectly legible. They were signed and dated. But my cheapshit made-in-China Dell printer didn't "acknowledge" the publisher's fucking watermark. Why? Gee, maybe I should ask one of the Indians or Pakistanis who work for Dell and then waste a day in utter confusion, because I can't understand a word they're saying!

Bottom line: I have no clue how to get the damned watermark to appear, and if it doesn't appear, my contract is SHIT in the publisher's eyes, and as long as it's shit, the book doesn't get fed into the production pipeline. WTF do I do?

Not even the most paranoid of my publishers--need I name names?--has had a "watermarked" contract. None. NONE. This bloody thing has caused me more grief than I can stand contemplating. Why? Because in addtion to my new release slipping off the page at the LSB forums, my next [unnamed] book is going to be held up due to some fucking gray smear on the contract pages!

So that's the story of my sucko Saturday. What will Sunday bring? *sigh*

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Eternal "Why?"

Specifically, in relation to the Readers' Corner of the Webmaze.

"Gazing at 'the books of others' is a less transgressive but often no less transformative method of cultural eavesdropping."

I came upon the above sentence on one of my less and less frequent visits to SBTB, where pimpage, Harlequin, and ever more intellectual analysis/defense of romance fiction now seem to reign. (YAWN.) Anyway, I read the above declaration and thought, What the hell is this person babbling about? "A less transgressive but no less transformative method of cultural eavesdropping"? WTF? Then I read on, in spite of my immediate recoil, and discovered all she's talking about is being nosy. That's it. She's talking about eyeing up somebody else's collection of books.

Why do some people feel a need to obfuscate rather than communicate? And double why do they do it when discussing anything relating to popular fiction? Kids, in case you haven't noticed, James Joyce did not write this stuff. (He only wishes he did. Ha.)

Why can't I make lists that come out at the right blog-acceptable number? Thursday Thirteen. Ten Things I Hate/Love. I always end up with four or seven or thirty-six. Or one.

Why can't I seem to integrate the words trope and meme into my vocabulary? Everybody else who talks about books has done it. I've come to despise these words, and I don't even know why. They've never done anything to me!

are so many people on a lecture jag? Everywhere I turn, somebody's ascending some mount to deliver a lecture. How authors should/shouldn't behave online, react to reviews, react to their contracts, react to each other, set up their websites, run their blogs, write their books, promote their books, and pick their peas. (I just threw in the last one because I needed a final example, that's all--no cryptic meaning.) And then there are the lectures centering on epublishers . . . but I'm already tired.

have some people had their sense of humor surgically removed? A sense of humor, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste. Thou shalt not excise thy sense of humor, even though it's one letter away from "tumor."

do I instinctively like or dislike certain people I've never met? I can go to one blog and instantly be turned off by that person's persona, go to another and instantly dig her/his persona. This makes no sense, yet I can't seem to control my reactions.

do people who consider themselves denizens of Romanceland (ugh, I'm really starting to hate that word, too, as well as its variations) never tire of Wankfests? There's a big hairball rolling around the 'Net right now that has to do with Quartet Press closing before it opened. Weird, yes, but hardly worthy of 86,376 posts at 59 different blogs. So why did QP fold up their tents? Beats me. I just chalked it up to "shit happens" and went back to my WIP.

Feel free to add your own Eternal Whys while I dream up some more.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We got us a WEENER!

WHOOPS! Sorry, wrong pic. That's one of our Lickable Laborers, relaxing after yesterday's hectic blog tour.

Now there, that's more like it!

JAN, please write to me at or and let me know which of my books you'd like and in what electronic format. Take your time to browse the offerings; just click on any of the book covers or titles in the left sidebar, and you'll get to read a blurb and excerpt.

Thanks, everybody, for participating!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Liquid Silver Labor Day Blog Tour

Well, you made it this far! Are you following the trail I put up in my previous post? Then you should know that when you leave here, you'll be visiting Tina Holland at

Okay, I'm going to take a more serious approach to our Labor Day blog hop, because Labor Day does exist for a reason other than giving people a three-day vacation.

As lovely as hardworking men can be -- and as much as we find our own hardworking men the loveliest -- there was a time in this country when the labor movement was much more about courage and sacrifice than ogle-worthy construction workers.

My parents owned three different blue-collar taverns in Milwaukee at three different times. I grew up in the second and third. These were neighborhood joints that never pretended to be anything other than what they were: local gathering places, where factory and road workers could score a free lunch, courtesy of my mother, or listen to the jukebox and gab over cold, cheap beer after they'd punched out for the day.

This was a time when American workers were dedicated and proud, a time when strong unions kept corporate greed from running rampant and sending jobs to sweatshops overseas. There was no out-sourcing. Shoppers found U.S.-made cars on the highways and goods in the stores. Wal-Mart hadn't yet become an economic satellite of China. Products were well built -- not just some of the guys who made those products.

But the strength of our workforce came at a price. A steep one. In their attempts to battle deplorable working environments, long hours, low wages, and other unbearable conditions of their employment, people lost their meager livelihoods . . . and their lives. Women who toiled in textile mills and shirt factories, men who slaved away in mines and on railroads and elsewhere finally shouted, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore!"

They banded together and rebelled. Changes came. But, sad to say, much of the ground that was gained has been lost.

So, when Labor Day rolls around, I invariably think of the pioneers of the labor movement. And the patrons of my parents' taverns. And the people who are still fighting to receive or retain their rights.

That doesn't mean, though, I can't eye up a great-looking lifeguard or stable hand. Nuh-uh.

Keep in mind the winner is free to replace my LSB novel InDescent with another from my backlist. I realize stories about men loving men aren't everybody's cup of tea.

You only have to leave a comment at this post, by the way. Not the one that precedes it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

For the Love of Buddy

One of our dogs recently passed away. It's taken me a while to be able to write about it.

Buddy was a Husky mix, but mixed with what, we've never had a clue. It didn't matter that he was a mutt. He was the sweetest and prettiest creature ever to walk this earth, at least in my eyes, and had an abundance of personality. He lived a long, happy life.

Buddy's favorite words were "squirrel" (which also happened to be his least favorite animal), "outside," "chow," "treat," and "bean" (he loved eating green beans right out of the garden). His least favorite words were "naughty" and "cage." He didn't actually have a cage, mind you, but that's what we called the bedroom, to which he was temporarily banished whenever he first came in from outside.

The questions that made him happiest were "Are you hungry?", "Where's the squirrel?", "Is dad home?", and finally "Would Buddy like to go O-U-T?" He invariably answered the last two questions by singing, for he could also sing. And, yes, spell. (Well, only the one word I taught him, but he caught on very quickly.)

He didn't like to swim, but he wasn't averse to trying to climb trees -- because, you know, that was where the S animals fled to escape his jaws. And he loved to run, just fly through the woods and fields in search of his neighborhood girlfriends. Sally, a golden retriever, was the true apple of his eye.

Buddy had three equally mutty housemates over the course of his life: Missy, Black Dog, and Cody. The first two preceded him to the little cemetery beneath the pines, where small graves are marked in fanciful, loving ways. Cody, aka the Nutless Wonder (yeah, the one with the stink eye), isn't even three years old yet, so he's still around . . . and endlessly entertaining. But, as is the case with significant people in our lives, one dog can never replace another. If you don't understand that, you've never had the unique blessing of a four-legged or feathered family member.

Every time I pass a dead animal on or near the road, I murmur or think, depending on whether I'm alone or not, "May you be at play in the fields of the Lord," for I hate the thought of their lives and deaths going unnoticed, without the slightest stitch of anybody's heart. I'd like to believe when I pass over, all these creatures will be waiting together -- the whole motley throng of them -- to greet me. In the front of the crowd will be every dog, cat, bird, horse, goat, sheep, chicken, and hamster with whom I've had the honor of sharing my life.

See ya, Bud. Cut those squirrels some slack.