Help! I’m Broken

As you can see, this is clearly a new blog. I broke the old one. Now I’m missing stuff. Story of my fricken life, I swear!

This is a short post today because I’m tired and I’ve been working on this thing for hours. Here’s the deal: I’ve lost all my blog roll links! So if I linked to you please leave a comment with your blog link so I can rebuild my blog roll.

To be honest, I can’t even remember all the crap I had in the sidebar of this site so maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I need to start with a clean slate. I don’t want to. It’s annoying and a lot of frustrating work rebuilding but I don’t seem to have much of a choice.

My bats are still here. They’re purple now to match my author website. This is still the more fun place though. I don’t spew on my author website. Only here do I allow myself that freedom.

Tomorrow Scrambling comes out and on the 27th I’ll be at Jessica Freely’s blog. Trust me, you’ll want to come see what I have to say. The guest blog post is titled “Fear and Denial in Professional Sports.” Wanna guess exactly what I’m talking about? You got it, gays in the NFL, MLB, NBA and the NHL. Those who leave a comment on my post at Jessica’s will be entered to win a copy of Scrambling.

I’m going to bed now. I’m tired. Please send me your blog links so I can rebuild. Happy Monday!

I’d Rather Freeze

You know those people who retire to Florida and Southern California because of the weather? They’re nuts.  It was so hot here all last week that we checked Weather.com religiously looking for a break in the heat. It said we’d get that after Saturday and that the following week would be cooler. Damned liars! The forecast  now is for another week of this extreme heat. It’s so bad that we were watching Harry Potter last night, looking at the snow and white out conditions and wished we were there. Rott was so hot he wished he was there bare chest and all. I told him he’d give the word “chesticles” a whole new meaning. He didn’t care. He’s just tired of being too hot.

The truth of the matter is that I probably wouldn’t have chosen to come to Southern California to live had it just been my choice. My brother wanted to come here when Nikki was a baby and he sort of overrode me. That was back in 1992. I’ve been here ever since and I’ve never been a fan of the weather as beautiful as it can be sometimes. I’m from the central coast of California where the average temperature is 68 degrees. I miss that weather. And if it came down to what weather I’d prefer 90 degree heat or 30 degrees and snow…I’d take the snow. I’d much rather freeze than sweat. So pray for me this week. I’ll be melting…

One good thing about this week is that I have a new release! The new longer version of Mating is releasing this week at Ellora’s Cave. Since fellow EC author Kathy Kulig also has a release on the 15th, she invited me to be interviewed on her Passion Sense blog. So look for me there on the 16th. Mating can be purchased at Ellora’s Cave. Here’s the BUY LINK.

Mating is the companion story to Runaways which came out in April. The two books are stand alone but together they tell the story of twin werewolf brothers finding their mates. There’s love, lust, duty, passion, guilt, fear and a whole lot of sex going on in these two books. They’re non-stop action and in my biased opinion, totally worth checking out! 😉

If you want to know what I’ve been up on the graphics front at Winterheart Design, I’ve done covers recently for Ally Blue, Barry Brennessel, Janet Quinn, Rowan Malloy, Cari Z., Karenna Colcroft, Heather Kuehl, AKM Miles and Rick Reed. In fact, I just made a cool Facebook cover for Rick Reed for the release of his book Rent, the one I did the cover for. So keep and eye out for that. I’ve also pretty much completed work on a new website look for Raine Delight which also includes a matching Facebook cover.

That being said, I think today’s Monday image will be Rick’s Facebook cover. I think it looks hot! (Although not hot like the weather here. Ugh.)

Well that’s it for me today. I need to get to the office where I hope they’ve cranked up the AC just a little. I had to use my desktop fan all last week because of the heat. I’m miserable can’t you tell? 😉  Hope you all have a wonderfully cool Monday!

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 😉