Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Very Busy Sunday


Wow, and I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest?

On this last Sunday in August, I have three exciting things happening. My first solo release from Phaze in over a year was made available late last night, although the official release date is tomorrow. En Garde is the story about a man who thinks he is past being surprised by life and the woman that proves him wrong. It isn't my longest work, but the price reflects that and I have to say that Kelly is one of my favorite characters ever.

Its an intriguing and erotic adventure on many levels and I am very proud that this story is kicking off the Phaze Scores line of sports-related erotica. En Garde is available now at Phaze.com for the low price of two dollars. I promise you'll will it far more than a couple of dirty, crinkled bucks in your pocket.

Today is also the day we are proud to announce the next step in the evolution of Coming Together and erotic altruism with the launch of Coming Together: Neat. This single story line will shocase works between 10K and 50K, give authors who aren't comfortable writing short stories a way to contribute and also is CT's first venture into Micro-lending, a type of program that I personally believe will help maximize the impact of Coming Together. Let's face it, $50 doesn't mean much to the Red Cross. But in Afghanistan, it is an annual income for some people. Follow the link to the Coming Together blog for more details!

And last but certainly not least, Alessia and I are headed to the car to drive a few hours so that I can watch Park View Little League, where I coached and my son plays, take on Chinese Taipei for the championship of the world. There are a lot of endeavors in this country where we call it a world title and yet all the participants are from the US. This is NOT one of them. These kids, some of whom I've known since they were five or six years old, have a chance to accomplish something truly special. I have to go, I just have to. Once in a lifetime opportunity and all that, even though most of them won't know me unless I tell them whose Dad I am. And Alessia is coming along because she thinks its cute how excited I am about this. I love that she is willing to skip an entire day of productivity so that I can scream "P-V-L-L!" for a couple hours.

So that's my day of rest. How about all y'all?


GO PARK VIEW!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Honor Him In A Manner He Would Appreciate

Ted Kennedy has passed, brain cancer taking from us the last of a set of brothers whose impact on the history of this great nation is unarguably massive.

Senator Kennedy was a man of passion, an impressive legislator and a great American. He saw two of his beloved brothers pay the ultimate price for public service and yet never shied from that spotlight. Many lesser men would have removed themselves from public life after assassins stole the lives of their brothers. Ted never considered it. He even ran for the very office that had brought tragedy to his family.

He was a man I admired, both for his greatness and for his humanity. It is no great dishonor for me to call him the least of that triad of siblings. I might as well call Michaelangelo's Pieta a lesser work. It is, compared to the Sistine Chapel. So it was with Ted, always trying to live up to the legacy bequeathed to him in the most bloody of manners.

He was not entirely comfortable with the burden, as some of his history shows. Yet he overcame that to become a voice of leadership and change, a powerful force in the nation that murdered his kin.

He is gone, and I will miss hearing him. Miss that distinctive Kennedy accent, the tinge of voice that carried unmistakable reminders of Jack and Bobby, that made me believe in his belief in the ideas and concepts that he espoused.

Ted Kennedy should be honored in the manner most fitting, by the fulfillment of his life's work. In 1969, Ted Kennedy introduced into the national discussion the idea that a nation this powerful should care for all its children, not only those most fortunate.

Pass a national health care package. Those who have held up this process for mere money and political gamesmanship should be ashamed. They have succeeded only in delaying long enough to rob a great man of an opportunity to see his work finished before he passed. They are but a shadow of this man we have lost today.

Enough. Honor Ted in a way he would have wanted. Pass national health care.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reviews and What They Mean

When I first became published, I hung on the possibility of reviews like a pet waiting to be fed. Not quite reaching out, but with that eagerness in the eyes and that not so patient wait.

Now, I don't even see them unless someone points them out, to the point where old reviews can be new to me. Part of this is gaining perspective, part of it is the realization that a good review is not going to mean that many sales in most cases.

I also think that a good portion of it has to do with the extreme disappointment I felt when our first "major" review was badly mishandled, as Romantic Times assigned an erotica piece with a "villain" (she is more of a foil, never villified) who is a crusading member of the Christian Right to a reviewer whose profile indicated that her favorites were Christian Inspirationals. You know, kinda like asking Ann Coulter to review The Audacity of Hope. You can imagine the response that character got from her. We were labeled "anti-morality."

But even with the results of the process having jaded me to things, I still feel a little anticipation when a new one is found by Phaze or a friend and brought to my attention.

After all, feedback was one of my favorite things about writing from the very beginning. In my time honing my chops at Literotica I was an unabashed feedback slut, checking my scores and my comments constantly. So it seems to be obvious that the opinions I receive on my professional work would also give me that anticipatory twinge.

Counterbalancing this is the idea that it can be a dangerous trap. There have been numerous instances of authors getting "caught" bitching and anguishing and even looking to retaliate over poor reviews. I almost fell into that trap over the RT review, so I understand. Now, I am glad I didn't, since the internet is forever and I just don't want to be seen that way.

So, do reviews mean something? Absolutely. Do I tear my hair out over a bad one? No. Besides, the best revenge for a bad review is a good one. That way I know it's not me protecting my "children," it is an unbiased opinion. So in that spirit, I present to you what the Romance Studio thought of Artifactual, with a reviewer that was not grinding an axe....

I found this a thoroughly delightful erotic romp, complete with adventure, plenty of sex, and a few mysteries. The unusual items for sexual pleasure were especially intriguing. Amanda and Bruce are well suited to each other, playing off each other’s strengths. They complement each other well. I found a touch of comedy in one chapter that really had me going. I laughed so hard tears streamed from eyes and it took me a few minutes to start reading again. I loved it!


My thanks to Patricia at The Romance Studio (www.theromancestudio.com)who gave me this wonderfully validating moment by writing a Five Heart review that I somehow didn't see for two and a half years.

And to all of you out there who take the time to read my books and share your opinions, good or bad ... thank you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baracknophobia!

First things first. I didn't coin that, Jon Stewart did. If you aren't watching him...well, then this column will probably piss you off.

See, I remain utterly amazed at the ability of certain individuals and *cough* "news" networks to complete ignore the facts in order to pursue the spreading of misinformation. The saddest thing? The reason they are able to continue doing it is because, compared to some of their target audience, these programs sound intelligent.

We are now almost a year removed from the point where the Republicans lost the election, when they named Sarah Palin their candidate for Vice-President. And in that year, what has happened is that the same people who trumpeted her selection have gone out of their way to make the craziest and most shockingly ill-informed of her comments look....well, moderate.

We've had the Tea-baggers, a movement so absolutely ridiculous and out-of-touch with the current state of the country that even after they became aware that the name of their movement had certain...other....meanings, they stuck with it. I mean, these are people who are so wacky that they are equating 4% bumps in tax rates to people who own the companies that pay them minimum wage with a time when a foreign power with an honest-to-god King was the ruler of 13 colonies. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the Stamp Act of 1765, which was basically a way to make Americans pay for the expenses of British Troops stationed here. 4% tax hike on your boss vs. being made to pay the expenses of the troops occupying your soil to keep you under control. Yes, I see how that equates. *shakes head in disbelief*

We have the people that say Obama is stupid (um, Magna Cum Laude at Havard?) We have the ones that still think he is a muslim (like it should make any difference anyway.) We have the ones that say he is weak and unwilling to stand up to the foes of America (you know, like Somali pirates.)

We have the ones that actually think a forgery of a Kenyan Birth certificate from a time when the city named wasn't in Kenya somehow trumps the one from Hawaii and even try to explain how birth announcements were "planted" in Hawaii papers... because after all, everybody back in 1961 just knew we would have a black President from Hawaii. I mean, of all the crackpot conspiracy theories I have ever heard... even the Holocaust deniers are in awe of the ability of Birthers to ignore facts.

And now we have that Palin woman again, throwing out words about "death boards" that are rabidly echoed by the Glenn Becks of the world.

People, please! Back away from the kkkool aid and have some Kenyan coffee. The man isn't a socialist (please READ the definition before using that word!) He is not the anti-christ. He isn't even that much of a liberal! He is a politician. An intelligent one for once, who is actually pissing off some of us on the far left (yes, by their definition I am a member)because he is making too many compromises on health care, prosecuting those who tortured and the repeal of DOMA.

So quit with the panic already. Get a dictionary and read the definitions of socialism and tyranny. And while you are at it, look up xenophobia. Then look in the mirror and slap yourself in the face. I hope you are better than this. I really do.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Where Did This Idea Start?

I've noticed a small trend in the publishing world. A rather dismaying one and one that I feel may be linked to the plethora of new places where you can publish, including but not limited to websites, CafePress, Lulu and of course the growing industry of e-book publishing.

For better or worse, there is a small subset of authors who are redefining (in their minds, anyway) the role of editor. Basically, the change that they are assuming can be summed up in one sentence.

The editor is there to catch and fix my mistakes.

On the surface, this does not sound bad. It actually sounds exactly correct. The problem is that the emphasis has changed. Most authors, whether born in 1950 or 1980 or at any other time, do feel that an editor's job is to catch mistakes. They are not wrong. The problem is this... a small subset of authors out there feel that it is the editors job to catch all the mistakes.

In other words, they don't don't worry about self-editing first. They just throw it out there and trust that someone else will check and double check. Some of this I blame on a lack of education, not in traditional schooling but in the craft of writing. Some of it I blame on the pressures of a growth market; where companies who are struggling to stay on the crest of a wave that will eventually break on the beach of maturity buy things to keep other companies from buying them first. And some of it I blame on the authors themselves, who have fallen prey to a cultural expectation that anything wrong must be able to be blamed on someone else.

It's sad really. And completely beyond my understanding. I can not personally conceive of turning in a work that was as rife with problems as some of things not only out there being edited, but even already published.

It has to stop somewhere. So, a word of warning. If I am your editor and you write about King George receiving a telegram of anger concerning the Boston Tea Party? Or if your African-American hero from the south side of Chicago constantly proclaims things to be "bloody annoying" and no one finds it strange? Or if your baseball player hits eighty home runs in 2004 and never has to deal with a steroid accusation and never gets interrupted at dinner for an autograph request and can easily hide that he is actually an alien from Arcturus Prime complete with a tail that somehow never got noticed by teammates or the ESPN reporters in the locker room?

Expect me to call you on it.

You can use Google as easily as I. You can look up when the telegraph was invented, or the year Germany invaded Poland. And you know that a kid from Chicago will use the F word and a thinly disguised Mr. Darby clone in Victorian England will not.

As your editor, I am there to help you change there into their or point out that the brown sweater was red three pages ago. I have no problem with things like that. We all lose track of things over the course of months writing a book. I'm not perfect. I screw up,too. All the time actually. Both as an author and as an editor. But even so...

As an editor,it is not my job to do your homework. It is not my job to do your basics. It is my job to tweak and prod and try to help you be the best you can possibly be. I am not supposed to build the engine. Just tune it up. That's why I get one-tenth the royalty percentage you do. Because you are supposed to have already done the big job. I'm supposed to help with the details... and maybe keep you off Twitter's #romfail.