Sunday, February 28, 2010


These aren't really heavy or depressing ones, just some that have popped into my mind in the past week or so.

  • Do Chinese men get English words tattooed on their bodies?

  • Why do so many erotic romance authors have stripper names?

  • How many times can the word cock be used in a sex scene before you begin to think the author maybe gets a little gooey around the gonads every time s/he types it?

  • How come Google can't figure out which alerts actually pertain to me?

  • Do a lot of people have incomprehensibly shitty taste, in all kinds of things, or is it just me?

  • Why do I watch "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" considering I nearly flunked home ec and can't stand either sewing or cooking?

  • Why did JLA tell me I have "worms" just because I ate hot fudge straight out of the jar? What kind of worms do I have? (Yes, this exchange actually took place. Of course, the accusation came from a man who thinks there's a state in the Union called "Massatooshits" and Holland is an island.)

  • How come the psychic mediums who aid in police investigations can never actually solve crimes? (Medium: "It happened in this room. I can feel her fear as his hands close around her neck." Cop: "Don't tell us shit we already know! Tell us whose fucking hands!")

  • Why don't skunks smell bad to themselves?

  • Why can't I suppress a grimace when I see certain people, like Pat Sajak, Hugh Hefner, Bill Murray, Quentin Tarantino, Kathy Griffin, David Letterman, Rod Stewart, Conan O'Brien, and dozens of others? Why do their looks make me shiver in a bad way? I have no reason to dislike them--I never met them--and it isn't that they're all uglier than a bag of unwashed scrotums. But my face just goes into lemon-suck mode when I see them. This doesn't happen when I look at, say, Keith Richards, who is uglier than a bag of unwashed scrotums . . . with all the tolerable ones picked out. Really, it's a peculiar phenomenon.

I could go on and on, because I wonder about a lot of things, but I'll stop now. What do you wonder about?

Here's to the pudgy, balding guys!

It's been easy to swoon over all the hot young men participating in the Vancouver Olympics. Hell, there've been so many, I've lost track.

But last night, my heart was won over by a chubby, hair-deprived, blue-collarish guy named Steve Holcomb (far left in the photo above) who captained a four-man bobsled team and led them to the USA's first gold medal in that event since 1948. What's more astonishing, Mr. Holcomb nearly lost his vision, completely, to a rare eye disorder until it was corrected through experimental surgery.

So here's to the unpretty and unbuff men who took the sleigh called the Night Train past the finish line in record time. How sweet is a victory that's been 62 years in coming?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Pile-On

I've been noticing a peculiar phenomenon on review sites: the lower a book's rating, the more people flock to read and comment on the review.

For example, I was at Dear Author yesterday. The review of a novel rated "DNF" had already garnered quite a few comments. Recent and more benign posts received roughly from five to ten comments each. I've seen this at Reviews by Jessewave, too, sometimes to a startling degree.

"Authors Behaving Badly" articles invariably draw crowds -- usually with torches held high, like incensed villagers in the old Frankenstein movies. I've seen countless such episodes on the Internet.

What's up with this? What does it say about human nature? I often get the sense that a lot of people derive some perverse joy from the missteps or failures of others. I can't deny I've peeked in on such discussions -- and probably, when I was still a newbie, participated in some -- but I always depart feeling a little skeeved.

Voicing one's outrage over truly reprehensible attitudes or behavior, as Teddypig sometimes does or Kris did so eloquently in this post, is completely comprehensible to me. You know the saying: If you don't stand up for something, you'll fall for anything. There are countless injustices against which we should speak out. Hell, there are even individuals whose conduct is so odious they deserve to get the collective raspberry. But these aren't the sorts of things I'm referring to.

So . . . what's it all about, Alfie? Granted, we're all capable of morbid curiosity as well as petty resentments and self-righteous snits. But public pile-ons disturb me. Do our own insecurities combined with a herd mentality demand we take satisfaction in the crash-and-burn moments of others? En masse? Just wondering.

Footnote: The final paragraph in this post by Mrs. Giggles appears to be a recent example of what I've been babbling about.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A WIP Snip

Since I'm at a loss for what to post, I figured I'd toss out a section from Fugly, the contemporary on which I'm currently working . . . when I have a chance to work on it, that is. (Never before have I had three books coming out in the space of four months. Not that I'm complaining, but edits seriously throw me off my writing pace.)

Fugly is basically about three gay friends -- a performance coach, an embalmer, and a literary agent -- who have appallingly superficial standards for judging other men's worth. Their self-images are deflated when they all hit on the wrong guy in a club one night. Call it karma or magick, retribution or a lesson hard learned, their lives will never be the same.

* * * * *

Another day, another dreamer.

Fallon strolled around Runway Room Two. He checked the audio and video equipment and the positions of the lights—everything was good to go—then sat on a folding chair before a table that supported a control panel. He crossed his arms over his chest and his legs over each other and impatiently began bobbing the uppermost.

"Tyler?" he called out, then checked the wall clock.

Although Tyler Burke was paying for ninety minutes’ worth of coaching, he was again pissing away at least thirty of those minutes in the dressing room. Fallon had yet to see him in street clothes. He always arrived at Stage Right before Fallon got there, and he always departed after Fallon had left the room.

Fallon rose, walked the length of the runway, and went to one of the two doors flanking the stage. "Ty, you don’t have to practice in costume, you know."

"Yes I…fuck…yes I do."

Fallon leaned an ear toward the door. "What happened? Are you all right?"

Another "fuck," this one clipped and muted. "Yeah, I’ll be okay. I just speared my goddamned cornea with one of my eyelashes." He obviously meant the fake ones.

"I’m telling you, you don’t have to be in full—"

"Just go away and let me get ready. Christ knows I’m paying enough."

Sighing and shaking his head, Fallon went back to the console table. Many of the hopefuls who paid for Stage Right’s services were lost causes—Tyler Burke was a perfect example—but the coaches and instructors weren’t allowed to tell them that.

Five more minutes went by. For the umpteenth time in the past few weeks, Fallon touched his face. The rash, or whatever the hell it was, had put a heavy damper on his sex life. Going out in this condition didn’t net him anything but negative attention. He’d found that out at Bent this past weekend and at Lady Dah’s the weekend before. Humiliating, being treated like a leper. One tantalizing techie he’d asked to dance had even said to him, "Sorry, man, I don’t know if you’ve got scabies or herpes or what, but I sure as hell don’t want it." After that, Fallon had gone on the Internet to look for a less threatening skin condition he could call his own. Now he blamed the blotches on eczema. Todd fell back on the latex allergy and Jake claimed to have a form of dermatitis.

None of the excuses helped much. He and his friends were still generally shunned.

"David thinks we’re cursed."

A chill crawled across Fallon’s back. What a bizarre thing to say. David Ocho didn’t seem like a nutjob. Then again, Fallon didn’t know any writers other than him. Maybe they were all a bubble off plumb.

Occasional thumps and mutters came from the dressing room and redirected Fallon’s thoughts. He checked the tune Tyler had picked for this session.

"Oh no," he groaned under his breath.

Etta James, "Tell Mama."

The dressing room door opened, and the World’s Ugliest Drag Queen rocked and teetered up the steps to the stage.

"Well?" Tyler said. "Hit the lights."

His vocal register was closer to Paul Robeson’s than Etta James’s. Good thing he’d be lip-syncing. Fallon hit the lights.

A blinding sparkle and gleam surrounded Ty’s beefy form. Fallon squinted against it. Tiny stars born of sequins, glitter, and bugle beads went nova every time he moved.

Fallon lifted a hand to shield his eyes. "Don’t you think that gown is a little . . . Vegas showgirl with relatives in a Chinese bead factory?"

"The boss likes glamour." Ty smoothed his square hands over his platinum wig, highlighting the stitchery of fine black hair on the backs of his fingers. "Besides, I got this for a steal from a guy who’s retiring from the business. I can’t afford new costumes."

Fallon wanted to say, Ty, for godssake, you look like a man piƱata at a birthday party for Cher. You are not cut out for this line of work.

"I’ll show you what I’ve come up with so far," said Ty. "Then you can help me finesse it."

"But we haven’t finished ‘finessing’ the Nina Simone song yet."

"I worked on that at home. Now I need to get his one down." Ty glanced at his palm.

"What’s on your hand?" Fallon asked suspiciously.

"The lyrics."

Fallon sagged. Why on God’s green earth, he wondered, had this man decided to become an entertainer?

Ty was getting antsy. "Let’s just kick this off, okay? I’m starting to itch under here."

There wasn’t much Fallon could do except honor Ty’s wishes. The client was king—or, in this case, some bizarre king-queen hybrid. After adjusting the level of light, Fallon checked the angle of the stationary camcorder and turned on the music.

With a series of body-wide jerks, Tyler "Bubbles" Burke began his assault on Etta James.

Fallon paced around the runway, studying his student. He mounted the stage and regarded Ty from the rear. He had a damned nice ass, but it was hardly a girly ass. His shoulders were too wide to convey lithe grace. And his movements . . .

"Stop!" Fallon clicked off the music with the remote he carried.

Startled, Ty turned. His feet wobbled, ankles nearly buckling.

"Okay," Fallon said, walking up beside him. "For starters, you need lower heels. You’re either gonna cripple yourself or somebody in the audience when you fall off the damned stage. For another thing, you’re too focused on remembering the lyrics to ‘act’ the lyrics. We’ve discussed this before. Let the rhythm of the song and the story it’s telling determine your movements."

He looked up at Ty. Damn, the dude was tall. Within the tar pits of his eye makeup, his gray irises were astonishingly pretty. Fallon suddenly wished he could see this man in his natural state, stripped of all the goo and bling.

"Are you sure you’re gay?" he asked without thinking.

Ty put his hands on his narrow hips and compressed his glossy lips. "Actually, no. Even though I haven’t been near pussy in the thirty-one years since I emerged from the womb, I’m still not sure." His sarcasm morphed into suspicion. "What are you getting at?"

What he was getting at hit Fallon in a most abrupt and jarring way. I’d love to see you come out of that dressing room looking like a boxer instead of a bitch. "Nothing. Never mind. Just stand at the end of the runway and watch me. I’ll show you what I mean and talk you through it."

His reaction to Ty rattled him. Fallon had been attracted to a man in drag just once before, and that was six years ago in New Orleans. But that man was physically flawless, moved liked a gazelle, and was done up only for Mardi Gras night. It was all in fun, and he worked that fun to perfection. Tyler Burke, however, was trying to make this a second career, and he looked and moved like an alien inhabiting a human body.

When Fallon wondered if Ty could see his "eczema," his surge of self-consciousness rattled him even more. Why should he care how he looked to this guy?

He reran the song to the beginning. Ty took up his viewing position at the end of the runway.

Just do it, Fallon told himself. Just ignore him and do it and don’t think.

It wasn’t hard for Fallon to let the song carry him away. As long as he could remember, his body had responded to music as naturally as a planet responded to gravitational force. So, as Etta James sang, his arms made a fluid flourish here, his hips swayed there, his hands and feet rose and fell in pantomime, and his upper body shimmied seductively. It felt great. Better than a swim in a cool, clean lake on a hot, muggy day. Better than any drug- or alcohol-induced buzz. People who said they didn’t like to dance always left Fallon incredulous.

"Repeat please," Ty murmured after the song ended. He stood with his arms crossed beneath his false bosom.

Fallon went through the song a second time, explaining why certain motions and gestures fit certain parts of the lyric. He tried to keep his improvisations similar to the first run-through so his student wouldn’t get too confused.

Tell mama, he cajoled his audience-of-one, what you want, what you need.

Ty didn’t look confused. He looked mesmerized. And Fallon was starting to feel just a little aroused. He didn’t know if dancing was doing it, or the fact he had such an attentive audience, or, God forbid, the thought of a butch man in a lounge-singer dress suffering the unique agony of a growing erection. A hideaway gaff, designed to keep one’s dick tucked neatly between one’s legs, was not a boner-friendly piece of apparel.

* * * * *

~ from Fugly, copyright (c) 2010 K. Z. Snow

Monday, February 22, 2010

See what a good whine can net you?

Tam's astonishingly talented daughter, whom many of us hope will soon start doing book covers, produced this pic of my favorite Olympian, Apolo Anton Ohno. Now she needs to capture the magic that is Johnny Weir.

HINT. ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Joke from Jerry

One of my friends in low places is my BMF, Jerry. (My entire, impressive collection of vinyl LPs has been stored in his basement for about ten years -- an indication of how good a friend he is; I sure as hell wouldn't let just anybody babysit my records.) Jerry routinely sends me really, really stupid jokes. That might be because we've drunk a good deal of beer together.

So, below is some Jerr Joy. You must read every line, pausing a bit between them.

01. This is this cat.

02. This is is cat.

03. This is how cat.

04. This is to cat.

05. This is keep cat.

06. This is a cat.

07. This is dumb cat.

08. This is ass cat.

09. This is busy cat.

10. This is for cat.

11. This is forty cat.

12. This is seconds cat.

Now go back and read the third word in every sentence.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The 2010 Festival of Sublime Ass

Aka, men's Olympic figure skating.

And then there's the incomparable, ambisexual Johnny Weir. A bit on the willowy side, but hey, he's got ass. Impossible to be a serious figure skater without having ass, just like it's impossible to be serious speed skater without having thighs that could crack boulders.
Oh, how I've been sighing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Miscellany & the "Rut" Challenge

  • I'm just starting to get established at Goodreads via an author account. I think this is the URL I'm supposed to give out -- -- or maybe not. Beats me. If you have any tips about how to maximize the Goodreads experience, please let me know. Because, honestly, I'm clueless.
  • A story that will not, I assure you, advance the art of lesbian fiction (but it's good for a laugh!):

  • Anybody know of a quick and foolproof way of transferring a blog to a three-column template? Blogger offers no templates in this format. I have way too much crap in my left sidebar and need desperately to break it up. Mind you, I am a techno-idiot. I can't emphasize this enough.

  • Mobry's Dick, my next (and stand-alone) novel (yes, novel) for Loose Id will be out in June. Side note, brought on by one of Tam's comments on her blog: Originally, Mobry's Dick was a novella with a sequel. When the sequel was completed, my editor and I agreed the stories it would work better published together as a two-part novel. (So, Tam, if you read it, you won't have to wait to find out if Cameron Waters "craves the butt secks.")

Finally, that pesky M/M reading challenge Kris tossed out just to fuck with us nudge us out of our comfort zones . . .

I'm afraid I won't be participating, at least not by posting anything. I did read a book outside my comfort zone and even wrote up a fairly long review. The story's two elements I assumed would tax my patience didn't tax it much at all. However, nearly everything else about the novella did get on my nerves, and since it wouldn't be seemly (or wise) to criticize the work of another m/m author on a public blog, I'm not going to post the review.

Besides, I know how I feel when one of my books is savaged, so it would be grossly insensitive and hypocritical of me to make unflattering comments about somebody else's work. I just can't bring myself to use the phrase, "It didn't work for me but might for other readers," because everybody knows that's Reviewer Speak for "I think this book sucked sewer water through a felching straw, and I can't imagine how anybody with a full brain could not see its countless, shrieking flaws."

I'm just going to have to wait and post about something I genuinely like. That way, I won't have to worry about my ass ending up in another sling.

The Hound of the Snowkervilles

The weirdest thing happened last night. I went to bed at a reasonable hour (for a change). JLA was already sound asleep, as was Cody the mutt, who has his own long pillow on the floor.

The night was still as snow continued to fall. I fell into a half-doze. Suddenly, a prolonged, blood-curdling howl echoed through the room. When I glanced at the clock, I got a goosebumpy chill.

It was exactly midnight.

Cody never howls. Never. In fact, he rarely barks. Stranger yet, he didn't even stir. I told myself he must've been dreaming, since he does twitch and whimper when he dreams. Still . . . a mournful howl? There wasn't even a full moon to blame.

This morning, I found out there'd been a 4.3 earthquake overnight, centered 45 miles west of Chicago. That would place the epicenter about a two- or three-hour drive due south of us. Now granted, the quake took place a few hours after Cody's howl, but I still wonder if the two were related. I've heard about animals being able to sense impending natural phenomena, like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. And Cody does have incredible senses. Is it possible a dog can "feel" movement below the earth's crust? Or some disruption in normal electro-magnetic fields?

So now I don't know whether to be creeped out by the timing of his howl or be fascinated by the earthquake connection. Can anybody shed any light, either supernatural or scientific?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Damning with Diluted Praise

Or, Lessons in Humility, Part XXIII

As part of my recent procrastination binge, I decided to put up some promo posts at a large Yahoo group. I don't know if you realize how these "theme days" go, but they mainly consist of authors slinging excerpts left and right, with nary a reader in sight. I don't mind; I figure if I throw enough out there, one of 'em will stick. Besides, I like perusing other people's offerings.

So anyway, I put up one of the scenes I'm most proud of from InDescent. BOOM . . . it got a hit. "I loved this book!" gushed a reader, who seemed to be the only nonwriter there. I was insanely flattered, as I always am when somebody says s/he likes something I've written, and I sincerely thanked her.

A few entries down, the same reader said of To Be Where You Are: "Also an excellent read!" Well, hot damn, I was just all aglow!

I periodically returned to the loop, read other people's excerpts, and wondered if I should bother posting more. The place wasn't very active. Then I noticed a strange pattern. My "fan" had responded with exuberant hyperbole to every excerpt every author had put up.

"I must have this!"

"You know I love this book!"

"Simply awesome!"

"I can't wait for this to come out!"

"Awesome book!"


By the end of the day, I realized I wasn't quite the star I'd thought. The exclamatory poster was either damned easy to please or doing some stroking in hopes of a contest win.

Ah, human nature. I got a good chuckle out of it. :-)

A Serious but Touchy Issue

I was reading the posts at one of my publishers' loops this morning. The discussion began to turn on why fewer and fewer authors are giving away free e-book downloads via contests. The reason, of course, is rampant piracy.

Most writers know there are "contest whores" out there who haunt Yahoo groups and blogs. Although I find their mindset a little annoying, I've never taken too much issue with them. Hell, who wouldn't like to score a free read now and then? But are their numbers growing, and could their motives be more nefarious now than in the past?

While I was checking out Wave's site today, I noticed her stats. At the time of my visit, she'd had 78,647 visitors from 136 countries -- an incredible achievement for a relatively "young" review site, but one with a potential downside. Just how many of those visitors, I wondered, are e-book pirates, hoping to nab one of the free Amber Allure or Dreamspinner titles or the books routinely offered by individual authors? You know such people are lurking in the shadows. Frankly, that realization creeped me out.

So what's the solution? One writer at the aforementioned loop said she only offers print books and bundles of promo items (bookmarks, pens, that kind of stuff) as prizes. Many writers who have only e-books available either don't offer them at all or offer only backlist titles that have been out for, say, six months or longer. Should publishers follow the same route? Should they stop doing highly visible promotions that have the potential for attracting dozens of pirates? Should they only put up older titles in these promotions?

I hate like hell that the world of e-publishing has come to this, but look what's happened in the music industry. One executive said their sales are down 50% since the advent of Internet thievery.

I, for one, don't mind freebies going to people I know and trust. But I don't know that many people in cyberspace, and I trust even fewer. So how would you feel if the well of e-book giveaways ran dry or only backlist titles were offered? I just know something has to be done, because the industry has been farting around way too long on this issue.