Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Penis Mightier Than the Sword

Who said that?

I'll tell you later.

Now, who said the following?

1. Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.

2. In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.

3. (This one is from the "Duh, ya think so?" files.) Psychopaths have faulty brain connections, scientists find

4. I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with a lot of pleasure.

5. Good things come to those who find 'em and shove 'em in their mouth.

6. The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.

7. The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

8. Most editors are failed writers -- but so are most writers.

9. The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.

10. When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.

11. Sex is interesting, but it's not totally important. I mean it's not even as important, physically, as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.

12. Remember, if you smoke after sex, you're doing it too fast.

Have a beer while you don't give these too much thought. Because "beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" (according to Benjamin Franklin, and I tend to agree).


1. Oscar Wilde
2. Mark Twain
3. Reuters news service, 08-07-09
4. Clarence Darrow
5. Templeton the Rat, Charlotte's Web
6. Humphrey Bogart
7. Harlan Ellison (classic sci fi author)
8. T. S. Eliot (no shit!)
9. Robert Bloch (author of Psycho, among many other works)
10. Henny Youngman (American comedian)
11. Charles Bukowski (American poet)
12. Woody Allen

The post title came from none other than Mark Twain, the source of some of my favorite lines EVER, and a far more salacious gent than most people realize.

Share some of your favorites!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Bright Spots

Not in front of my eyes, thank goodness (I've been plagued by optical migraines since my early twenties -- a weird condition).

So anyway, Mobry's Dick has apparently been accepted by my beloved Loose Id -- a good thing, because I'm about five chapters into the sequel. Now it's a matter of getting the sequel accepted. This duology is primarily a contemporary m/m romance with ambiguous hints of the paranormal. If you've ever watched "Ghost Hunters," you know that hints of the paranormal in life on earth are almost always ambiguous.

On to Bastards and Pretty Boys. I can't say too much about this development just yet, but it has to do with a rather surprising email I got from Tina Burns (Liquid Silver's publisher) and something in the works at All Romance eBooks for December. It kind of floored me, actually, in a good way.

And speaking of ARe, many warm thanks to Val Kovalin of Obsidian Bookshelf for the kind of review that's a help to the author as well as to readers. (Val does an excellent m/m review column for ARe's "Wildfire" newsletter. See? There was a connection there!) You can find her B&PB review HERE.

Wish I had good news to report about Jude in Chains, but holy hot damn, the publisher to which I sent it is slower than a snail with a boner. (You must use your imagination to determine how slow that is.) I hate like hell pestering editors, but this wait is already three months old. That's what I get for venturing beyond the tried and true . . . and quicker.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Free at last!

Do I give a crap about what's going on at Harlequin and their new ebook imprint and their new vanity publishing venture? No. Okay, that's out of the way.

I'm free of Norton AntiVirus. FREE! I toughed it out until I got my money's worth out of those thieves at Symantec and then uninstalled the sack of creeping, crawling turdlings that seemed to have invaded every function of my computer. God, what a difference it made in performance!

You can't begin to imagine (or maybe you can, if you've had to deal with Norton AV) how miserable this software made my every waking hour. Each morning when I turned on my desktop, it took at least an hour, a freaking hour, to start running smoothly. Sometimes, it even took an hour and a half.

But wait, there's more! Norton drained my virtual memory on a daily basis, forcing a stall-out as Windows came up with more. Around midday, and then again late in the evening, my PC would start to choke up again -- hung apps, frozen screen, the works. Three or four times a day, I couldn't get anywhere or do anything. And not just for a minute or two, but for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Norton kept disrupting my Internet browsing; it kept disrupting other installed programs; it even fucked with the simple process of shutting down. It was everywhere, like aliens intent on abduction, doing God-knows-what to the innards of my poor Dell.

How can this be? I still don't know. How can an antivirus program that costs $60 a year be more destructive than the bugs it's supposed to fend off or neutralize? Where does Symantec get its techies from? The lowest 1% of Whatsamattah U's graduating class?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wings of Flippin' FIRE!

"I fell into those burning wings of fire. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And they burn, burn, burn, those wings of fire . . ." (No, that is not the title I preferred, but who am I?)

So here it is, a mere four months late -- Wings of Fire from Ellora's Cave, 398 dead-tree pages of delectable otherworld fantasy. HORNY men (sometimes together), FEISTY women, REALLY HOT dragons. And more! Like a supercool old witch named Bronwil, who has a talking goat on the sod roof of her cottage and is able to read smoke and steam.

This softcover incorporates my three Galdeshian fantasies, published originally as separate e-books: Wing and Tongue, Cauldron of Keridwen, and Prince of Glacier Glas. They share many of the same settings and characters -- hence, the logic of bundling them together.

Click on the post title if you're nosy. The book is currently on sale. I imagine it will be available sooner or later on Amazon, but it's definitely available now at the EC site. (Guess I'll have to break down and buy at least one copy for myself. Wonder how I should inscribe it?)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Should there be a site that reviews reviewers?


It was a fascinating go-round at Katiebabs' blog (click post title) that tickled my brain with this notion. I'm afraid I don't visit KB's very often, primarily because I've been on extended sabbatical from m/f fiction. That means I don't read reviews of m/f books. But it's a jolly good blog, and I'm glad I came upon it.

Since I'm over a week behind the times, I assume the discussion there is old news to many of you. In a nutshell: an EC author was perturbed because Ms. Babs did not give her book the grade she, the author, thought it deserved -- which, I gathered, was a solid "A" dangling from the ass-end of a rave. Why did she think this? Probably for the same reason I think InDescent has been the most under-appreciated book I've ever written and deserves considerably more accolades than it's received. (There, I've said it.) The woman obviously felt her work was beyond reproach, an attitude that had been bolstered by a certain amount of OH WOW feedback from other sources.

Well, dicked if I know what rating the book deserved; I've never read it and don't intend to, since it's a Puss 'n' Four Boots tale. I did, however, read the review, which had quite a few good things to say about the story (aside from that stretched-out hoohah). Grade: B.

I wouldn't have done an energetic Happy Dance if I were the author, but neither would I have blogged about the review with righteous, pouty indignation. Still, I kind of understand where the author was coming from -- especially if she's newly published and hasn't grown enough calluses yet. Hell, even those of us who are plated like armadillos still get our armor pierced now and then.

I haven't exactly gotten buckets of recognition for my writing. I've never made it to a DIK shelf or an auto-buy list (not that I'm aware of, anyway). I haven't made the finals in any kind of contest since Cemetery Dancer did that in the EPPIEs. My name rarely turns up in "best of" or "favorites" discussions. Invitation-only publishers apparently think I'm a nebbish, if they even know I exist. I'm just sort of . . . there, part of the padding in the m/m genre. A Salieri.

Does it bother me? Sure it does. And when a caustic review comes along, it bothers me even more. Why? Because readers pay attention to these things! Doesn't matter how off-the-wall any given review is or how questionable a reviewer's competence. A lot of people base their book-buying decisions on other people's opinions, plain and simple.

So as I'm reading the comments to KB's post and pondering my mix of exasperation with and empathy for this author, I see another writer enter the fray.

Mr. Lanyon rode in but did not, thank all that is Johnny Cash, switch his black hat for a white one and cry out to authors, "Rise above it! Go back to your work!" Instead, he tried to explain why authors are sensitive to reviews, which rather surprised me. (JL, as we know, hasn't had too terribly much experience in the gutter of criticism.) Still, everything he said made perfect sense. Although we may know, rationally, that we shouldn't take these slings and arrows to heart, they wound us nonetheless. Anybody who believes we should just "rise above it" is pretty mofo-ing ignorant about the fundamentals of human nature.

This is not to say reviewers should modify their opinions based on our feelings. Of course they shouldn't. And it's not to say we don't appreciate the time and effort that goes into their assessments. Of course we do. But this is to say, don't be surprised if we come back at you with our opinions, because we have 'em, too. Who exactly decided we're forever to smile and sit on our hands and play gracious? Did I miss a chapter in Emily Post?

And that's what made me wonder if there should be a blog that reviews reviewers, and how they would react to nitpicking or all-out evisceration.

Hmmm. ;-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Inching Closer

Not quite the final version, but damned good enough to show off.

And so we come full circle, back to thoroughly human Pablo Creed
and the Utopian Metroplex of Regenerie.
The first time around, Win saved him.
Now Pablo returns the favor . . .
and extends it to countless others.
(The final book of the Utopia-X series,
coming January 5, 2010 from Loose Id.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dicking with Publishers

Sometimes publishers are such a joy to work with, they make me thank my lucky stars (at least I would if I had lucky stars -- but I doubt it). Sometimes they make me wonder, WTF are you people thinking? And then there are those other times . . .

I've been waiting for the release of a print collection from you-know-who. Or you should know if you visit this blog with any regularity. First the book was supposed to come out in July. Then late September/early October. Two months ago, my editor was "working on the galleys" (which I, of course, will never get to lay eyes on, since I'm only the author). Now I must try to find out what the hell is going on. I'm actually not too concerned about what's going on, except in principle. Print editions usually result in returns, and returns are deducted from e-book royalties, and that sucks. But I am concerned whenever it appears one of my publishers isn't trustworthy and excels more at making excuses than getting things done.

Then there's this cluster-screw: I'm trying to get an old book back. Its contract will be up next year, and the publisher has disappointed me pretty much from the get-go. The book isn't making either of us any money. However, I didn't know whom to contact. This company has no on-site contact information, just a rather stagnant authors' loop on Yahoo to which I don't belong. So I had to google my original editor -- yes, google the woman! And thank goodness I found her.

"Oh," said she, "I haven't done much there for the past year, but I'll forward your message. When I get back onboard, although not even Jesus Christ knows when that will be, we have all these plans for blah-blah-blah, which will make things ever so much better, and blah-blah-blah." (Dig this. She RUNS the imprint through which my book was published . . . and she hasn't done squat with it in a freakin' year. Huh?) Mm-hm, yup. You've really bolstered my confidence. Just answer my questions, lady. I'm totally fed up with this outfit.

These people haven't sent me a royalty statement in two years. How professional, eh? (Doesn't matter if a statement only contains a big, fat zero, it nevertheless should be sent.) They haven't coughed up any royalties, either, because they have a policy of not paying out unless and until the amount exceeds X-number of dollars. Worse yet, the publisher thinks I'm not owed any royalties, because he obviously hasn't done his homework and looked up all the old statements. And, finally, he doesn't believe a letter granting reversion of rights is necessary.

This is no tiny e-pub, mind you. An e-pub, yes, but a large one that's been around for years and also, I believe, puts out print editions. Their lack of professionalism just makes my brain implode.

I really want to retrieve this novel and rework it. There's a good reason for that. But before I resubmit it, I first need to make a clean and legal break from the first publisher and get my damned money, no matter how small the amount.

Gawd. How do some of these operations get and stay in business?
Oh for the fuck's sake, you wouldn't believe it . . .

Monday, November 09, 2009

When a Fellow Author Is Supportive

Much to my surprise, a fellow author at Liquid Silver -- and one who also happens to write for Samhain -- blogged about "discovering" me via Bastards and Pretty Boys. You can read Hailey Edwards' comments by clicking on the post title. (She does have a nifty blog!) She now plans on reading To Be Where You Are (yup, coming out later today), even though she's wholly unfamiliar with Jackson and Adin and the rather complex history of their relationship.

I haven't published with LSB very long, so I'm still getting to know the writers there. This makes it all the more startling and gratifying to get a wholly unexpected recommendation from one of them. Hailey's not a reviewer, so she was under no obligation to mention one of my books.

Maybe other authors are used to this kind of thing and take it for granted. I'm not, and I don't. Honestly, this kind of generosity bowls me over.

Thank you, thank you, Hailey.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


. . . is a complex belief system brought to the western hemisphere from Africa and given both an old Catholic and a New World spin. In fact, there are a dozen or so similar religions (Cuban Santeria is probably the best known) -- that more or less share the pantheon and tenets of voodoo/vodou.

The symbol above is called a "veve." Each god/dess has his or her own. This one happens to be for a spirit called Erzulie Freda, and you can see a portion of it on Adin Swift's torso on my new book's cover. Erzulie Freda, quite a lovely and vivacious creature, figures heavily in the storyline.

However, voodoo can be turned to dark purposes. Jackson Spey must confront these in To Be Where You Are.

If you'd like to get a sense of the mystery and magic of New Orleans-based voodoo, click on the post title. It will take you to the MySpace page for Dr. John "the Night Tripper." Look on his playlist in the upper right corner, and click on the song "I Walk on Gilded Splinters." (Don't worry if you can't make out some of the lyrics; I believe they're in Creole.)

It was really tempting to expand and even focus on this element of TBWYA, but I had to rein in the impulse lest Jackson's and Adin's story got lost. This is their book, after all.

However . . . I don't think I'm done with voodoo yet.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Looming Questions in Gaylitland

It's that time again. My brain is stuffed with questions, and I must regurgitate them to avoid mental indigestion.

1. Are there gay men in law enforcement anywhere outside of Los Angeles? Anywhere? Or is it a rule at every police academy on the face of the earth that if you're a man who loves men, you can only work in LA?

2. Where did all the BDSM experts suddenly come from? There seems to be a bumper crop on the 'Net these days. Did the first class at BDSMU just graduate? I'll listen to most anything James Buchanan or TeddyPig has to say, because they didn't just pop out of the underbrush and start pontificating, but I swear there's a diploma mill somewhere that recently put specious degrees in a whole lot of people's hands.

3. Are vampires dead (as a character type, I mean) or aren't they? I've been getting distinctly mixed messages on this issue for at least a year or two, and it's giving me a serious case of WTFitis.

4. Is it necessary to surgically remove gay characters' tear ducts? I doubt any health-care plan would cover this procedure, but I figure there's a reviewer somewhere who'd be happy to do it in a back alley.

5. Does Japan have the only gay fiction worth filching? Isn't it time we started scouting other countries' and cultures' popular lit for some new (to us) fads to steal? The French probably keep theirs securely under wraps -- gods forbid they should undermine their hard-earned reputations as womanizers -- and the Germans . . . well, I doubt they have any erotic material worth boosting. I think we should start investigating South America, Southeast Asia, and Melanesia/Micronesia.

6. What words are okay? What words aren't? "Queer" seems to be okay. So does "homo." But "fag" and "cocksucker" seem to be verboten. Are there others? Who decides in which column they go? What's especially bewildering about the line between acceptable and unacceptable is that derogatory usage has little to do with where that line is drawn. I've heard a lot of 'phobes use "queer" and "homo." But those words are not considered offensive.

7. What's the role of women in gay fiction? It seems they can't be ex-wives or ex-girlfriends; no matter how they're portrayed, they get kicked in the ass. (I'm interested to see how readers react to Celia Quill in To Be Where You Are. She'll no doubt end up with a shoeprint or two on her rear.) And it seems women can't be the best buddies of gay guys; ditto the previous comment. That pretty much leaves faceless employers and "colorful" relatives. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm as fond of the eccentric-female-relative trope as I am of the word trope. Better yet, meme.

So, wise and wise-ass readers, please come to my rescue with answers!

Thank you, JERR & NOR

Marcy Arbitman at Just Erotic Romance Reviews or JERR liked Bastards and Pretty Boys enough to give it 5 stars. (Yes, actual stars; you don't see that very often. Usually it's roses or kisses or fairies or fingers. Fingers, believe it or not. And I've gotten one -- the finger, actually -- but only from one source and fairly consistently, so someone's mind is made up that my writing sucks sewer water through a straw full of boogers. Not much I can do about that.)

The book also got one of these from Lilyraines at Night Owl Romance:

Many thanks, JERR and NOR. I'm very honored.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Channeling Testimonials

To Be Where You Are -- you know, the sequel to InDescent -- is coming out next Monday (clicking the post title will take you to a blurb and two excerpts). In preparation for its release, I considered sending out ARCs to some of my favorite authors and certain industry outlets. The good folks at Liquid Silver Books don't have time to fool with that kind of stuff, so I thought I'd take it upon myself to politely solicit some high-profile opinions. First, though, I asked Castanet what she thought of this plan. Her response: "Are you out of your fucking mind? Like they're gonna piss away their time on one of your books? You got exactly ZERO connections, hotshot."

Okay, I huffed a little. But I finally, grudginglyly admitted she had a point. Then I started pondering that word "connections." Hey, I thought, I was an English major! I do have connections!

So I decided to offer the ARCs to a different group of favorite authors. Problem is, they're all dead. I had to channel their responses to the book. (Now don't disparage my efforts; I have a very reliable Ouija board.)

EDITED TO ADD: The post just below this one was done as a favor to a fellow author. Hey, I may have quite the racket going here!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A little addendum to the above post.

Well, Jeanne, I managed to pull it off. What a nice man! He was very cooperative.