Sunday, June 28, 2009

One of my titles is in the Washington Post!

Actually, it's Treva Harte of Loose Id, one of my publishers, who's in the WP. She gave a great interview! (Click on this post title to see it.) But, yes, one of my LI titles got a mention -- Exploring Savage Places, Book 3 of the Utopia-X series. Just a mention, mind you, but what a monster shock to see it. I mean, the effing Washington Post!

Many thanks to TeddyPig for his attentiveness to all things e-publishing. I caught wind of this on his blog, The Naughty Bits.

Friday, June 26, 2009

They come bearing gifts.

Doesn't it always start that way? You think they're making nice, so you open the gates. And . . . BLAMMY! Before you know it, an army of sweat-glazed, muscular Greeks with ravishment on their minds are clambering out of --

Uh, wait. Hmm. (Kris, might my gift have a trapdoor somewhere? Should I, like, keep it near the bed just in case?)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pickled Photoshop

The demented darlings at Pickled Cupid (click on post title) have done it again. If you can look at this without having nightmares, you're a stronger person than I.

(Sorry... I can't even extend this post, because too many of my synapses have already sizzled into extinction.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Stunning Review from Book Utopia

Acts of the Saints, my near-dead Samhain black sheep, was generously resurrected by Book Utopia, one of the most impressive review sites for (often, but not exclusively) GLBT fiction. B.U. told me this was one of the longest reviews she'd ever written. Click on the post title to see it.

Honestly, I can't begin to say how much I respect a critique of this nature. The depth and detail of it--hell, the sheer intelligence behind it--leave me nearly awestruck. This is "textbook" reviewing. I'm enormously grateful for the time spent on a novel that's pretty much languished in oblivion for three years.

(Yes, this is the same book reviewed by Mrs. Giggles and mentioned in the June 2 post below.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Publishers' Bestseller Lists

I'm talking about e-pubs, since they're the ones I'm most familiar with. (Yeah, okay, I dangled a preposition to avoid an awkward construction. Just so you know I know.)

Samhain has always posted its bestsellers at My Bookstore and More. It even ran a popularity contest last year in which readers were invited to vote for their favorite books. More and more e-pubs are coming forward with weekly or monthly sales rankings for their titles. Some make this information available only to authors; others, to the general public. Some still don't release the information at all.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about the sales-posting trend. On the one hand, I fully believe a forthright approach is to be applauded. Vigorously. Too many e-publishers have embraced secrecy, often for its own sake, and/or engaged in slinky and self-serving behind-the-scenes machinations. Authors and readers alike have a right to feel confident they're dealing with an upstanding business entity that has nothing to hide.

On the other hand . . .

I have serious reservations about this practice.

  • Regarding public postings: Should readers be encouraged to buy books that are already selling well? This makes no sense to me. People being what they are (and I'll likely insult you here, so bite down), the herd mentality prevails. If book shoppers see that Eat My Shorts by Benny Bushwacker is Number One this week, they'll likely stop looking and buy Eat My Shorts instead of another book that could very well prove a more satisfying read. Shouldn't overlooked titles be brought to readers' attention instead of those that are doing well on their own?

  • Regarding both public and inhouse postings: How does it affect a publisher's non-bestselling authors to see that their efforts aren't being "rewarded"? Will they succumb to a defeatist attitude? Or will they start playing copycat? Neither consequence is desirable. The former could cripple truly good writers who have much to offer, and the latter will result in a slew of derivative submissions as lowlist authors try to ride the high-flying coattails of their more successful peers.

  • Finally, there are those doofuses who will go around proclaiming they're bestselling authors or such-and-such a title is a bestseller, even though these distinctions only exist at Peapod Publishing. (I confess, I just threw this one in because it annoys the snot out of me!)

A couple of my publishers share sales rankings with their authors and only with their authors. They're damned good publishers, too. I sure as hell don't fault them for doing what they're doing. Openness invariably garners my respect.

That said, I never look at the figures. I don't want to see them. I don't want to feel discouraged, or pressured into writing stuff for which I have no real affinity just because I think it will increase my sales. I don't want to become a mope and I sure as shit don't want to fall prey, however subconsciously, to the copycat syndrome.

I'm wondering how readers and other writers feel about this trend. Are you influenced by bestseller lists? If so, how?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Metaphors and Similes Run Amok!

Sometimes, we do get a little exuberant with them, don't we?

Weeel . . . not as exuberant as some of them there writers on Literotica!

I howled like a wolf with him on my back. I was the Roman warship and he was the slave rower, accelerating to Ramming Speed until we crashed into the enemy ship in a blaze of orgasmic ecstasy, spreading the Greek Fire of our boiling sperm all over the universe!

I was his oil derrick, balanced on my head and hands while he fucked down into me, drilling into the hot oil of my guts. I was a prisoner of war tortured with his magnificent stake up my hole, forced to sit on him until I revealed the secret: "I surrender! You're too much for me! The secret is--"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why do blurbs ask me questions?

I assume they ask you questions, too.

Blurb: Will Roger and Gil be able to outrun the snowballing horror that threatens to crush their love?

Me: Uh . . . how many guesses do I get? Hmm. Now this is going to keep me up all night. Will their love be crushed or not? Damn. Could you at least give me a hint?

What is with that?

I must confess, some of my very own books have had blurbs that ask questions to which even a lone and partially disabled brain cell would know the answer. I've conscientiously been trying to keep questions out of my blurbs. Thus far, at least recently, I've been successful.

Maybe blurbs should come with multiple-choice answers. That would engage potential readers a lot more, don't you think?

Blurb: What will happen to Roger and Gil as they try to outrun the snowballing horror that threatens to crush their love?

1.) The snowball will melt from the heat of their blazing passion.

2.) Gil will get flattened like Gumby. Following a period of complete immersion in self-pity, Roger will take up with a woman who has a meaningful tattoo and is as sexually confused as he.

3.) The snowballing horror will clip Roger, leaving him battered and broken, and Gil will hightail it like the yellow-bellied, faithless, self-serving pussy he is.

4.) Roger and Gil will part ways with their love and let it get crushed to save their own asses, because they're more into sex than romance anyway.

5.) There is no snowballing horror; Roger and Gil are drama queens.

6.) This blurb is actually for another book. The publisher just likes messing with people's minds.

My feeling about blurbs is this. They should give a reader some idea of what the story and central relationship are about without dishing up any spoilers, without being cutesy or coy, and without overemphasizing a particular plot element (like sex -- sheesh -- or mystery or danger). Better yet if they give me some feel for the book's overall tone.

Over at the Liquid Silver forums, my upcoming release there was just given its own thread about a week ago. The blurb for Bastards and Pretty Boys is right near the top (there's also an excerpt further down the thread). I rather like this blurb. Click on the post title to see what you think. Does it need to say more? Or not?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

InDescent sequel will appear at LSB.

It's official. To Be Where You Are, the sequel to InDescent, will also be published by Liquid Silver Books. This novella answers a looming question. Some of you know what it is. ;-)

I almost titled the story An Empathy of Burns, which I still kind of like. "Empathy" in this context is used as a collective noun -- you know, like "flock." Then I realized I couldn't realistically expect anybody to get it, because it's just plain weird . . . and, yeah, I coined the phrase. I am kind of a fan of collective nouns, though, many of which are a lot weirder.

(Why am I rambling? Since I have no idea, I'll just go go bed.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

InDescent and Miscellaneous Aversions

Jenre, an honest and insightful reviewer, tackled my m/m urban fantasy InDescent on her Well Read review blog (, devoted primarily to m/m fiction. The review was also put up at Reviews by Jessewave, which you can get to by clicking on the title of this post.

At Jessewave's, the review generated an interesting discussion. It highlights how different readers perceive characters and their motives, and also demonstrates how plot elements that people find distasteful can make or break a book for them. I've already posted a (lengthy) list of things that grind the gears of m/m fiction readers. But they're certainly not alone in their pickiness.

This fascinates me. Aside from the usual gag-inducing/taboo themes (cannibalism, bestiality, "romanticized" or gratuitous rape, torture, incest, sex involving minors, fetishes involving really icky stuff), I'm willing to accept most anything an author puts in his/her work, as long as I'm reading a good story well told. I'm not, for example, a big fan of yaoi. And I'm not a fan of certain character types. But, hey, let Katrina Strauss spin out some yaoi or Frank Tuttle throw a detective (rather, a "Finder") at me, and I am so there. The Age of Sail? Couldn't have cared less . . . until Alex Beecroft came along. I have some issues with BDSM, too, but so many authors handle it so well (and, sometimes, in such original ways) that it no longer automatically hits my recoil button.

Have you ever found one of your reading prejudies vanish in the space of a just-plain damned good book?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Exploring Savage Places Available Today

Oh please, do not let the LI home-page blurb confound you! Click the title of this post to go directly to the book's sales page. Exploring Savage Places, Book 3 of my Utopia-X series, is now available.

The Pleasureplex of Xanandru, a city governed by a drug-dazed libertine, panders to the basest human instincts. But before its excesses can be reined in, Xanandru will make or break the promising relationships of four honorable men.

I'm currently at work on Utopia-X, Book 4 (as yet untitled). Pablo and Win, whose story kicked off the series, return to center stage. As planned -- by me, anyway -- Utopia-X will not go beyond four or five books.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Magic Jack, the Flower

Because our cool, wet weather has made for some dreary days, and maybe you've experienced some dreary moments too, here's a spring wonder from my native species flowerbed.

Meet Jack-in-the-pulpit. He's quite magisterial and likely belongs in a wizard's garden. The plants that surround him -- demure wood violets and fancy ferns, elegant irises and flirty phlox -- act as if they don't know he's there. But they know. Just like Transylvanian peasants know who's in the mountaintop castle that throws its shadow over their village.

Jack stands toward the rear of the bed, partially concealed by his own broad leaves. He watches and listens and keeps his own counsel. At night, when the whippoorwill calls, summoning toads and mice and beetles to hold congress at his feet . . . that is when the magic happens.

And I stay away.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Author Marriages

I've always found this an interesting aspect of publishing -- authors who get together, or are thrown together, between two covers.
These are obviously symbiotic relationships. (Symbiosis is a kind of mutual parasitism, which isn't a had thing in terms of species survival. Or writer advancement. In fact, it's a very good thing, since benefits flow both ways.) But what kind of symbiosis is going on in Authorland? Is it crass, creative, or convivial? Or all three? Or something else entirely?

A crass motive -- or maybe I should call it "pragmatic," which is less perjorative -- would involve an author seeking to enlarge his own footprint via another author's established fame, growing fame, industry connections, marketing savvy, fanbase segment -- you know, the aspects of the business that put a shine on reputations and money in the bank. Creative motivation is fairly self-explanatory. The parties are driven by a desire to stretch their wings, take some imaginative chances, and perhaps learn from each other. Conviviality as a basis for partnership simply means two writers genuinely like each other and think they'd have fun working together, maybe to alleviate the essential loneliness of this profession.

Just an aside: I wonder what brought Stephen King and Peter Straub under the same covers? Does anyone else have the feeling they probably did better as singles than as a couple?

So here are my questions. Why do you think writers hook up? And unhook? Have you ever seen evidence of unhappy or even disastrous pairings? Do you prefer to read collaborations or anthologies? Have you ever been able to untangle the authors' voices if the book is a collaboration (say, the voice of Vivien Dean from the voice of Pepper Espinoza in a Jamie Craig story)?

Feel free to throw in any other observations. I am, as usual, curious.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

An 87 Review by Mrs. Giggles I Never Knew I Had

The book on the left was published shortly after Samhain opened its virtual doors for business. Acts of the Saints tanked pretty badly -- very badly, actually -- because the authors who helped kickstart the then-new epub were primarily from Ellora's Cave. Ergo, the readers who flocked to SP were fans of EC-style fiction.

Believe me, this book is not EC-style fiction.

(That's an Anne Cain cover, by the way. I've been her fangirl since I first laid eyes on it. Not original art, granted, but gorgeous composition. She was a real joy to work with, too!)

At the time of this novel's acceptance, Samhain's vision was to be a broad-spectrum publisher that focused on quality fiction in a variety of genres. It wasn't their intent to be just an erotic romance publisher, although one could hardly tell from their initial crop of offerings. I saw the writing on the wall fairly quickly (how could I not?) and gritted my teeth for the nosedive my book was bound to take.

And dive it did.

Now fast forward. Two days ago I was cruising Mrs. Giggles' archives, looking for Scott & Scott books, when -- lo and behold! -- I came upon my old author name. Knock me over with a limp dick. But the biggest surprise was yet to come.

Although Acts of the Saints is light years away from being a standard romance, Mrs. G. gave it an 87 and said the prose was "alternately beautiful and blasphemous" and the story had hooked her completely. My first reaction was profound embarrassment over the fact I had no idea this review existed -- I believe in thanking reviewers, just because it's the courteous thing to do -- and still don't know when it first appeared. So I can only shamefully extend my sincerest apologies.

Anyway, regardless of the age of the review, I'm deeply grateful to Mrs. Giggles for taking a chance on this book. As she points out, it definitely isn't for everyone's taste. The lady has balls.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Exploring Savage Places out on June 9.

Exploring Savage Places, Book 3 of my Utopia-X series for Loose Id, will be released on June 9. I've already received gratifying feedback on this novel from some of the unsung heroines on LI's editorial staff. Always a good feeling when unsolicited positive reactions drift my way!