Men Versus Gay Men

When you write gay rom you run risks. Actually, let me backtrack just a smidgeon. When you write any book, you run risks. You run the risk of readers not believing your characters or the premise of your story. Now, the risks are not quite as great when you write in a genre that guarantees everything is completely made up like sci fi, fantasy and paranormal as opposed to writing a contemporary. When you write a contemporary, every reader will come at your book as if they are an expert because uh duh, they live in this world.  Does that make them an expert? Not really. There’s plenty of stuff in this world that I don’t have any experience with and the same holds true for you and you and you and you…

Now, let me shift over to my opening statement about writing gay rom. At the risk of being tarred and feathered by a gazillion women who read gay rom, I’m going to say that there’s faction of women who read gay rom who expect the male characters to be a certain way and if they aren’t, they don’t like your work.  I don’t exactly like people to bring a set of expectations to a book I write. I don’t want to be Carol Lynne. I don’t want to be Z.A. Maxfield. I don’t want to be Heidi Cullinan or Mary Calmes or Jan Irving. I want to be Lex Valentine. Notice I did not mention gay male authors who write in this genre. For the moment, I’m sticking with women writers who write gay rom and are read by women readers. Male writers and readers are in a different group altogether when it comes to this particular subject. Or least, that is my observation.

When I write a gay rom, I almost always have a gay man read it. Ethan Day and Jason Edding read Fire Season for me. Ethan made a really simple comment to me that made a big impact on the motivations for some of the scenes. It is a comment I have never forgotten and if I write something where a character is inexperienced or in a gay for you situation, I keep his words in my head to keep me on track. Tim McGivney read my free story Entangled that wrote for the Goodreads M/M group. He made a comment that had me expanding some descriptions.

I listen to the men who read my gay rom, both the men who beta read and the ones who send me email after the book is out. Why do I listen the men who read my gay rom? Because they are MEN. They know what’s like to have a penis. I don’t. I can only imagine and while I have a great imagination, I also like to base my characters somewhat in reality. It’s one reason I don’t write one of those gay worlds where female characters are cardboard, less than three dimensional or are always the bad guy and where all the men are gay or bi-sexual.

Anyway, going back to the expectations of female readers and gay men in books. I’ve had gay men write me and thank me saying they liked that my gay men were still men. They’ve said they liked how my gay men weren’t female characters with the pronouns changed out. (And we’re not talking about my freebie Finding Your Heart which was something I did because of author Patric Michael.) A gay man wrote me after reading one of my books and said, “Gay men are still men. We don’t like to talk about our emotions. We prefer to act on them. We don’t need a bunch of dates or a lot of words spoken between us in order to hook up. I like that you get that.”

Well, I could argue his words because honestly, I don’t think all men gay or not are that way. I know that the world is made up of pretty much every type of person imaginable. But I get that he’s probably right in the general sense. So when my male characters hookup pretty quickly and my female readers raise a loud hue and cry that my characters aren’t believable because of it…I wonder what planet they are from. Do they not know that men DO that? (Hell, in my world I’ve seen a heck of a lot of women do that.)

So, I pretty much write my characters with the understanding that men are men. My characters act like the men I know both gay and straight. If they don’t fit into a reader’s expectation of how a gay man acts then they need to go read one of those other authors who write gay rom. I can’t stop myself from being tweaked when female readers tell me a gay male character in my story doesn’t act real because I know that gay male character has already been vetted by a gay male reader and/or gay male author. If the real gay man didn’t find fault, why did the straight woman?

Expectations is the only answer I can come up with. And if a reader expects me to be like another author, they will be disappointed time and again because I am who I am. And so are my characters.

Here’s a happy Monday photo to start off the week on the right note.

How pretty is that? Bet you all wish yo could be there! Have a great Monday!

Disintegration?

There’s a wee storm in the publishing world. It started last week when Jill Noble left Noble Romance. She sent out a letter to authors (I didn’t get one, but wouldn’t have expected to as I have only a single title there from February 2009) that can be found on Absolute Write if you want to see it. I’m not gonna post any links to stuff. There’s no need since this post is just my comment on what I read and observe and what facts I do know. And just so you know, my observations aren’t actual fact either because they are subjective. The bare facts are these:

  • Jill said she was the owner of the company.
  • She left the company and in the letter she sent out basically said she was an employee of the company not the owner.
  • She left the company without notice which, according to other Noble staff, left the processing of royalties in limbo since she was the one who did the reports.
  • She hasn’t removed the title of owner from all Noble Romance related social media or her own social media yet. It’s been changed on some but not all.
  • She said authors could contact specific Noble staff members for more information but at least one of those email addresses is now bouncing.
  • Editors were locked out of their email accounts. (This may have been because she left and passwords needed to be changed, not because the editors were being let go as some surmised.)
  • The author loop was shut down. (Purportedly because the authors were upset and panicked and expressed those emotions and a staff member took exception to the posts.)
  • A Noble staff member emailed at least one author and said there was already new management in place and Jim Noble, Jill’s brother and the man whom we are told by staff is the actual owner,  would make a statement by today.
  • Several authors opened a Yahoo loop for authors and staff after the other one was shut down. They also started a Facebook page for info posting.
  • Several authors have blogged about this. Also, Karen Knows Best, EREC, Teddy Pig and Dear Author have all mentioned it or devoted posts to it. (Comments on some of these have been…interesting.)
  • Jill and her daughter Natasha commented on author C.H. Scarlett’s blog about all of this.
  • Jill also commented on Facebook about it with a comment about cleaning out the trash which seemed to be directed toward Noble authors. That comment has since been deleted or made private but one author has a screenshot of it. (The comment is fact as the screenshot bears out, but the intent is subject to interpretation. I know what I think, but your mileage may vary.)

So what does this all mean? Well, for those of us who have been around long enough and have witnessed the demise of several publishing houses…it clearly appears to be disintegration of Noble Romance Publishing. A major person in the company either leaves abruptly, isn’t reachable, and isn’t conducting business as usual. Author panic ensues. Some staff defends the company. Other staff panics. A reorganization of some kind is attempted. Business as usual doesn’t quite come to pass. The house folds.

Noble seems to be following that pattern currently. Maybe I and everyone else who thinks the writing on the wall is wrong. Maybe Jim Noble can make this fly without his sister. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, there’s some nasty comments happening all over and someone on the author loop started feeding the posts there to Jill and/or her daughter Natasha which in turn has disintegrated into name calling and the public soothing of Natasha’s rumpled feathers by her mother on C.H. Scarlett’s blog. The only reason I mention this last thing is because it just seemed weird to me. Why do that in public? Can’t you just phone your kid? I mean, it leads me to believe that the comments were there for the authors who were panicked and ranting and not for Jill and her kid. Meh. What and ever.

I don’t have much vested here. I have a single title at Noble. I have never received a 1099 from them and will be requesting that they fix that. There’s a clause in my contract that they did not fulfill and I have already emailed the owner about that material breach and will be following it up with a certified letter. Basically, I want my rights back. They could just fix my problems with them and hold me to my 7 years. I don’t think they will last as long as it takes to make me wait until February 2016 for my rights. But we’ll see.

And now, here’s my photo for this week!

Yes! I finally finished the cover for Quintessence. I had been searching and searching for the right background and over the weekend I found it. This is the cover for Aiden and Cadence’s story.

And with that, I’m outta here. Have a great Monday!

 

UPDATE: One of the authors heard from Noble staff…the announcement from Jim Noble re the company reorg etc is now said to be coming middle of the week, not today. Hmmmn.

Sinking Into Relative Obscurity

Times change. Normally, I don’t blog here in the middle of the week. Normally, I don’t blog anywhere in the middle of the week. But today, I’m feeling the weight of something pressing on me and I want to get it off my chest if only for the length of time it takes me to write this post.

It’s been my observation, based on my own work and efforts this year, that authors who do not promo the fuck out of themselves and their books begin to sink into relative obscurity. Back in 2008, when I got my first contract, it seemed like a little Tweeting, a little Facebook, an up to date website, a weekly blog post occasionally augmented by a guest blog post or interview, a chat maybe once a month with a giveaway, high placement in a few contests plus some loop promo 2-3 times a week got you enough attention to sell books. No so any longer.

A case in point seems to be my M/M stuff. Fire Season continues to sell. However, there’s huge numbers of readers on the Goodreads M/M group who aren’t familiar with it despite it being on Jessewave’s Top Ten of 2009 and a Rainbow Awards Finalist. Those readers almost seem to be all about the authors who posted freebies during the group’s free read/write events. So this year, I did one, but I don’t think I’m seeing more name recognition for it. I got involved in the free serial story Lords of Aether. Not seeing more name recognition for that either. And all the books I’ve put out this year? Well, I guess you could say they’re not Fire Season.

The only thing I can see that I do differently than all the young up and coming authors in this genre whom everyone seems to know is that they are constantly on Twitter, Facebook, Facebook groups, blog tours and hops, Goodreads groups and all over a gazillion new review sites. And by constantly, I mean I see posts from them time-stamped all day long.

Looking at all that, I hear a death knell. I don’t have all day to promo. I don’t have any time to promo really, although I eke out some time here and there. Also, these authors are all over the conventions and conferences and all about tagging and reviewing each others books on Amazon and B&N and ARe. Whew. Just writing all of that has me exhausted. And discouraged. Because I can’t do all that stuff all the time. I have a full-time, demanding job. I have a family and a graphics business and things I’m supposed to write for my editors. And I live in an expensive part of the world and am the sole provider for 3 adults and a bunch of cats.

The upshot is that I can’t afford to promo like the authors whose names trip off readers lips, especially M/M readers. I don’t have the time or the money. And thus, I find myself sinking into relative obscurity. I can see the writing on the wall. One day, my editors are going to start giving me rejection slips because no matter how good my work is, if it doesn’t sell, they won’t want me.

So I guess I’m seeing the beginning of the end. This is what today’s trending is showing me. Even if I reinvent myself, I don’t have the time and wherewithal to do what’s necessary to sell books. I rather think that the era of “Lex who?” is upon me no matter how many times Wave profiles me, how many times I’m in the Rainbow Romance Writers ads in RWR  or how many freebies I write at the Goodreads M/M group.

All of this begs the question, do I stop? Or do I just wait out the natural attrition I mentioned above where eventually my editors don’t want my work anymore because no matter how good it is, no one knows me and my books don’t sell anymore?

No time to actually answer this question because lunch is almost over and I need to try to drop a few hundred words into my WIP. However, comments and observations are welcome…if anyone’s actually reading this. LOL 😉

Pondering

I skipped posting last week because I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff lately. Sometimes it’s hard not to when you work somewhere that makes you face your mortality daily. Anyway, I decided to make a few changes after 4 years of blogging here. For one, I’m retiring Marcus. Instead, I’ll have some sort of photo whether it’s a hot guy or a hot couple or just something really beautiful. I still need a pick me up of the visual sort on a Monday so that won’t go away. More likely than not it’ll be a hottie but it won’t always be.

Next, I will be posting a snippet every Monday of whatever I’ve currently got cooking. There are weeks when I have nothing new because I’ve been busy doing other things so I’m determined to make myself write something each week so I have a snippet to share.

I will still be ranting and yakking about my family as I always have. Some things never change and this is my venue so I have to be me and that means the occasional post about my kid or my old man or one of my cats.

Now that I have that out of the way, I have two things for you this morning. One is a photo Nikki took of Noisy. I have it on my desktop at work and it’s just so funny it keeps me cheered. The other thing is a snippet of something I started last night.

My publisher at Pink Petal Books needs an 8-10K short story with BDSM in it. She thought maybe I’d like to write an Emily and Vahid short. I thought about and decided not to. Because instead, I’m going to write a Colin and Eden short. Here’s a little bit of what you can look forward to from Colin Cuffed:

“Are you sure we have permission to be here?” Colin muttered as Eden unlocked the door to her cousin Emily’s house.

“Would I have a key if I didn’t?” his mate growled back at him.

Colin raised his brows at her. Eden had a habit of doing things she shouldn’t and making it seem as if it was perfectly okay. He’d had his hands full literally from the night he’d first met her.  Of course, they were perfectly suited as mates because Colin had an easy going temperament and an insatiable yen for fun. Once they’d dealt with the unhappiness Eden suffered from thinking her family didn’t want her, she’d become just as playful as Colin. They had a blissful marriage, or so Colin had thought until this night.

“I don’t understand what we could be so lacking in that you think we need to spice up our marriage by breaking into your cousin’s house while she’s gone.”

Eden growled at him again, ushering him into the foyer of the house. “We’re not breaking in, not lacking anything and we don’t need to spice up our marriage. We have plenty of spice. I just thought I’d bring a new flavor into play.”

Colin bit back a grin. “Whatever you say, love.”

Grabbing him by the hand, she pulled him up the stairs. He admired her ass as they climbed. He’d never seen such a fine ass in his life. Heart shaped and taut enough to bounce coins off of.  His wife’s ass never failed to make him drool and tonight was no exception.

“So what’s Vahid and Emily have that we don’t have?” he asked as she led him down the upstairs corridor.

“A playroom.”

Eden stopped in front of an ordinary bedroom door and inserted a key. The door swung open and Colin’s mouth fell open with it.

“That’s not a playroom. That’s a fucking dungeon!” he exclaimed stepping inside.

And now, here’s my Monday photo (I really need a name for this feature!):

That’s Noisy (the big one not the little one) cooling off with a Coke. It makes me grin every time I look at it!

Happy Monday everyone!

 

Me All New Again

When an author gets a new publisher, no matter how long they’ve been doing this, you feel all squeaky and new again. You pretty much start out at the beginning doing forms and getting added to loops and meeting new people. It’s like you’re a brand new author. The feeling of that first contract comes back to you. And yeah, you might grumble a little at all the hoops you have to jump through, but you don’t really mind it because that new contract feeling is pretty  much priceless and fills you with excitement.

So, um, yeah. Loose Id took my NFL novel. 😀

I’m really excited about it in a quiet kind of way. I wanted to jump up and down and squee and stuff, but that’s not exactly me. I’m more the Cheshire cat grin kind of person. The I’ve-got-a-cool-secret kind of person. But I am totally excited to be with this publisher. I have a lot of friends with them. And I’m hoping to expand my readership by being with this house.

I’ve got some revisions to do and I’m willing to compromise. All my editors know this about me. If I don’t like their suggested change I will make a case for a change of my own or for leaving it as it is. I’m no diva. I’m always reasonable, but I don’t let anyone bulldoze me either. I’m a good writer with a good reputation and while it’s okay to treat me like a brand new author in some ways (the paperwork, etc.) it’s not okay to treat me that way when it comes to my manuscripts. Not that they are. They’re really respectful of my creative process.

So all the nail biting is done. And the hardest work is about to begin. The book is slated for release September 18. And there’s lots to do before then. I’ll admit to being a tad nervous about my cover but not about the editing process. I think my book will be better for the hard work my editor will demand of me. I asked for this. I wanted this book there. And I’m so glad it is!

And now, a Marcus for this overcast (at least out here in the canyon) Monday morning!

Man, he walk my runway any day! 😉 Happy Monday!