NoH8

Last Tuesday, I took an impromptu vacation day and went to Los Angeles with Z.A. Maxfield. We went to a high school that was having a GLBT Fair. Yes, I heard a couple of whispers of “grannies” as I walked around so I know my gray hair didn’t go unnoticed. However, the kids weren’t exactly the reason I was there. I went to get my picture taken by celebrity fashion photographer Adam Bouska. Adam, who shares my birthday today, is the co-founder of the NoH8 Campaign. The photos he took were for NoH8.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos. Silver duct tape on the mouth. White shirts. The NoH8 tattoo on the cheek. Like this one of Adam himself.

The campaign began as a silent protest by Adam and his partner Jeff Parshley. The duct tape symbolizes voices being silenced by California’s Proposition 8 which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The photos took off like a rocket with ordinary people being photographed as well as celebrities and people like Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach and  Lt. Dan Choi who were activists calling for the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

As authors of gay romance, as well as people who believe in equality in all things for all people, ZAM and I had a deep seated need to do this, to have our photos taken by Adam for this campaign. And yes, both of us will be displaying these photos prominently on our websites.

This campaign resonated with me on personal and professional levels. On the personal side, my high school sweetheart is gay. I love the man dearly and the idea that I can marry Rott, but David can’t marry Vince – when they clearly even have a better relationship than Rott and I have – just pisses me the eff off. My parents raised me to ahbor injustice and my heart breaks for couples who would love to get married but can’t. Now, I’m one of those people who also feels that it’s a piece of paper and in my heart, I know who I belong with regardless of the legalities of this country. I know David is one of those people too. We feel things deeply in our hearts and that is where our commitment comes from. We could show that commitment to another without a marriage license. But the very fact that politics don’t allow David to have that license should he choose to go that route with his relationship makes me very angry.

On the professional side, as an author with a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell novella where my heroes have to go to Massachusetts to be married, supporting this campaign is a no brainer. In Afterburner, my heroes get married in Massachusetts, a state that allows same-sex marriage, and California accepts that marriage as legal despite not allowing gays to be married in the Golden State. In the sequel to Afterburner, which is a Christmas story I’ve just finished, my heroes are retired from the Air Force and happy that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone. I don’t say it in the story, but I know my guys and they aren’t happy that same-sex marriage in California is still not legal. Breath of Heaven, an Afterburner Christmas sequel, will be available at MLR Press on December 15.

So ZAM and I did this and we had a great time. Adam and I wished each other an early Happy Birthday and the happiness in the man just radiated out to everyone who was there. He’s a good soul doing a good thing for mankind. And ZAM and I feel really good to be part of it. The only thing that would have made our day better was if fellow author James Buchanan had been able to join us.

 Now, it’s time for someone a lot more beautiful than me! It’s still Monday, although it’s Halloween, so it’s time for a Marcus!

Marcus does a lot of stuff for charities like Peta so he’s not a celeb who doesn’t give back to the world. It’s one of the things I like about him.

Now, before I go, if you’re thinking of reading and not leaving a comment, I’m going to give you a reason to comment today. One lucky commenter will win their choice of a book from my backlist. Can’t beat that now can you? Say Hello or Happy Birthday or Cool Marcus, whatever, and you could be reading one of my books by tomorrow night!

Happy Halloween to you all! Don’t eat too much candy! I’m off to have birthday cake with my coffee so have a good one!

Shiny Stuff

I’ll admit to being distracted this weekend by shiny stuff. To be honest, they were photos. I was looking for one kind of photo to do a cover and found something else that would work on a different cover. And so on, and so on. Every time I’d look for something, I’d end up with something for a different project. They all had to be done, but they didn’t have to be done in the order in which I did them.

Probably one good reason I got distracted so easily is this darn cold. It’s on the way out, but the lingering cough makes me feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with the heavyweight champion of the world and taken every blow to the ribs and gut. The problem is the way women’s muscles work when they cough. What tightens and spasms are the ones over the ribs and lower abdomen, the ones on the sides of the waist and the groin muscles. Apparently, or so my doc says, men use different muscles when they cough, muscles they use a lot anyway so they don’t get the same muscle aches as women when they have a bad cough. Anyway, every time I cough, it leaves me gasping for air and with muscles spasms sort of like the heaves. I lose track of what I’ve been doing and end up off on tangents. If the work I did this weekend wasn’t so darned pretty, I’d be growling “Eff you, Cold!” for more reasons that the obvious ones of discomfort.

So here’s what I ended up with at the end of the weekend. A total count of three banners, a Twitter background page, an avatar, and four covers. None of which were for me. The stuff that hasn’t been approved yet, I won’t post, but the stuff that’s already been finalized is below.

So pretty! So sexy! Which leads me to something – or rather someone – who is also pretty and oh, so sexy! It’s time for a Marcus!

I want to pillow fight with him! Of course, I don’t look that good in my underwear…Leastways, not any more! *Winces at the thought of my upcoming birthday* That does remind me of something though. This year my birthday is on a Monday so I think I’ll give away some books. Make sure you come back on Halloween for a chance to win.

Okay, that about wraps it up for me and my sore ribs. Have yourselves a great Monday!

Bushed

I’m bushed. My body aches. I walked forever yesterday in West Hollywood with authors Z.A. Maxfield and James Buchanan. We went to the West Hollywood Book Fair to look around, attend a panel and meet fellow MLR Press author Haley Walsh who also writes as Jeri Westerson. The panel was on the second floor of the West Hollywood Library and the plate glass windows behind Jeri offered a view of the Pacific Design Center and the gorgeous LA day. (See photo below.) We saw Meredith Baxter Birney, Florence Henderson, Kevin Sorbo, Julie Newmar and some actors whose names we couldn’t remember. I recognized D.P. Lyle, a local physician who is a writer and a consultant on many TV shows. He’d been to a meeting of the OC Romance Writers of America and talked to us about plotting the perfect murder. I bought a copy of his book Forensics for Writers.

The most interesting person we met was Christopher Rice. I spent my late teens and early twenties devouring his mother’s books. My sister gave me a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire on my 17th birthday and I was hooked. Christopher is a New York Times best-selling author in his own right, in a genre different than his mother’s. He was charming, funny, intelligent and not ego bound at all. In fact, he didn’t even talk about his books until someone asked. He moderated a panel on marketing GLBT mystery books and he let the authors on the panel talk about their books and answer the questions about marketing. He let them shine and only got into his own work when asked. He’s a very good looking man who is extremely charismatic. It pretty much made my day to meet him.

But, to be honest, it was a lot for me, my arthritis and my asthma to deal with. I had a couple of moments where I thought I’d never be able to take another breath or another step. James and ZAM looked after me though and let me stop for a breather and plied me with water and Coke so I could re-hydrate and pop meds. It’s great to have good friends. They rode elevators UP with me and made sure I was okay to walk DOWN stairs. It was a great day. Only now, I’m a tad sunburnt and sore and utterly bushed.

The sunburn’s just a smidge of red on my chest below my collarbone. Early on I found a parasol with skulls on it and bought to keep the sun off. It’s a very cool wooden parasol. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I could have taken my Ellora’s Cave “Bad Girls of Romance” umbrella with me and garnered a little attention for myself. LOL

I did do an unusually not me thing though. I brought attention to myself by speaking up. Man, I have a tough time doing that in public but I did it. When Christopher Rice asked if anyone in the audience did book trailers, my hand shot right up and I said I wrote as Lex Valentine for MLR Press and I did videos from my design site winterheart.com. That was bold of me. I’m not sure what came over me. It’s more my style to just sit there dumbly and not say anything.

One other noteworthy thing: I left my car at home and let Rott drop me off to meet ZAM who drove to James’s house. (James drove into WeHo.) That means ZAM is now the only one of my author and online friends to have met the elusive Rott. At least she can attest that I really do have a handsome man in my life and that he’s not just something I made up so it doesn’t look like I’m an old spinster lady. LOL

All in all, a great day for me that I’ll be paying for today with fistfuls of Tylenols. But it was worth it.

Now, some yummeh Marcus for a Monday and I’m off to work!

Oh, baby! Sexy stuff! That’s a gorgeous photo of Marcus. Have yourselves a great Monday!

Go Shopping

I spent Sunday redoing my Cafepress store. I haven’t done anything about the template, but I have added products including a whole Lex Valentine section. This was one of the main thrusts of the store for me. I have people ask me about my cover art all the time. Now, they can go buy themselves a poster of my latest covers. Well, the covers I created anyway. Eventually, I think it would be cool to sell posters of all the covers I’ve done even the ones for other authors. I like the idea of cross promotion in this manner.

The store still has the Socially Dead stuff and a couple of the original Sunlight Sucks shirts and best of all the Sex Toy and Queen of Snark shirts are back!  I love the Queen of Snark graphic. One of my all time favorite creations. And just so you know, I don’t mark up my items like other people do. The biggest markup is a whopping $1.01. Others are fifty one cents and some don’t even have a mark up! *gasp*

I’m not out to make a bunch of money. Just want to keep the shop up and running so that my dream of cross promotion can come to fruition. Like Amazon, I need to spend time slapping tags on things, but as usual, time is my enemy. It’s elusive. I never have enough of it. Eventually, I’ll get it done though because I do want this store to swim not sink. So do me a favor…go shopping! The new store is called Winterheart Design.

The other thing I did this weekend besides spend time with Nikki on Saturday, is finalize the cover for my next print book, Tales of the Darkworld Volume Two. The last two Tales books were just a little short of the word count needed to go to print. So my publisher will combine the two novellas into one print book just as she did with the first two Tales books.

Volume Two features Sunstroked and Breathe Me In. Trying to create a cover for it at first was tough. I wanted a lodge to represent Gargoyle Lodge but every image I found of a lodge that looked like it could be Gargoyle had snow in it. Since Gargoyle Lodge is in California, in the spring, summer and fall there’s no snow. So the photos didn’t work. I ended up with part of the Breathe Me In cover including a very hot photo of cover model Brooks Johnson. The photo is similar to the one in Breathe Me In but not the same. Then I used the Eiffel Tower image. To represent Sunstroked, I found a different image of the man on that cover, but instead of using the tribal wolf I used a wolf photo with piercing eyes. I think the cover is really striking while still representing the original covers of those two books.

Now it’s Monday and it’s back to work. I love my job but man, it’s been demanding lately. Actually, it’s demands seem to have been growing. My phone never stops ringing. When it does, there’s someone at my desk or important email. There’s deadlines every week, meetings, and stuff that comes up out of the blue. I juggle a lot of oranges there. Actually, I juggle apples and oranges and so much of it requires immediate attention. I multi-task well but now everyone knows that so they keep throwing things at me all day long and expect me to just deal. There are days I’m just spread too thin to deal unfortunately even when I work OT.  It’s a good thing I’ve learned to apologize.

So before I head off to the office, here’s my Marcus for this Monday. I need this bit of beauty and sexiness to keep my motor revved when I’m so tired from work. 😉

Geez, he’s gorgeous. On that note, don’t forget to check out the Winterheart Design Cafepress store and don’t forget that I’m at Castles and Guns this coming Sunday. I’ll also have another Six Sentence Sunday on the Lex Valentine blog on Sunday. I’m giving readers another bite of Breath of Heaven one of my Christmas stories for this year.

Have a fantastic Monday!

 

The Power of the Tweet

I’ve been on Twitter a long time. You wouldn’t know it to look at either of my usernames and how many tweets there are attached to them or by checking my Tweet-Karma, but I really have been on Twitter since early 2008.  In the last couple of years, I’d gotten away from it because writing really consumed me and I just didn’t have time for Twitter and Yahoo IM. I rarely turned on either of those things. They were a distraction most of the time. So the number of tweets I have is rather low for someone who’s been on it as long as me.

However, one of the things I re-discovered while at RT was the joy of a tweet or two or ten. I found myself constantly turning on the Seesmic app on my Android phone. If I was waiting for someone, I turned it on and checked it. If I couldn’t sleep, I checked it. Standing in the elevator, I checked it. The RT tweets were a hoot which helped reestablish the whole thing for me. Some very funny stuff happened at that convention.

Used in conjunction with Facebook (my tweets post to my FB account) I managed to gently tease author Desiree Holt. I posted that I was sitting behind her in the lobby court of the hotel, buying her 100th book. And I was. Grinning with every click of the touch pad on my netbook as I made my purchase.  When Desiree saw what I’d posted, she got up and turned around and came over to hug me. The look on her face was priceless. I got such a kick out of using social media in such a way.

The power of the tweet came into play again when I got home from the convention on Sunday. I was sitting in my recliner, glad to be home, and I decided to look at Seesmic. What I found was a tweet from Jane of Dear Author about losing her Kindle and color Nook at RT. By coincidence, the “gang” (aka Z.A. Maxfield, Lynn Lorenz, Belinda McBride, Tara Lain, Stephani Hecht and Cherise Sinclair) and I found a Kindle in a green cover and a color Nook in a gray cover at the table where we sat down in the lobby court. When we turned on the Kindle it said the owner’s name was Jane.  A name like Jane could be anybody and neither ereader gave up any other information to us. Plus, I think we felt kind of bad poking around in them for information on the owner(s). So we called the lobby court manager over and turned in the Kindle and Nook to her.

Seeing Jane’s lamenting tweets about her lost ereaders reminded me that we’d found two and that one had said it belonged to Jane. Seemed like way too much of a coincidence to me, so I tweeted to Jane about our find and where we’d turned in the two ereaders. I was happy to see them find their way back to their owner. Especially since I now know what it’s like to be ereaderless. (I gave Nikki my Nook 3G to use with etextbooks and bought a color Nook, but when we had the chance to buy a mobile home a week later, I returned the color one in order to put the money to better use. Now, I’m without an ereader and I’m so lost!)

So I’ve renewed my acquaintance with Twitter a little and I’m glad that my doing so led to a good deed.  Hopefully, I won’t go back to being a stranger because I’ve got a bunch of new followers and even *gasp* Yasmine Galenorn is following me! (Hi, Yazza!) And I do miss the tweets of my friends Marty, Dave, Karl and Hilly. I need to turn on my original Twitter account and not just the Lex Valentine one.

Not to change the subject, although I am, the house situation is nearing a close literally. The house is being inspected on Tuesday and we expect to close escrow possibly the following day.  So very soon I’ll be changing my address and will no longer have a landlord. Rott and I are both looking forward to that despite how much money (and a Nook!) it has cost us.

Now, it’s time for my Monday Marcus. I can’t believe I’ve been posting this beautiful man for years now. Ah, well. It’s a good thing he’s so good looking or I’d tire of him, wouldn’t I? LOL

Before I go, if you don’t follow me on Twitter, I invite you to in the hopes that you’ll all encourage me to use it more than I have in the past two years. My author Twitter name is lexvalentine and my original account is winterheart. See you there!

Have a great Monday!