Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Blog: Why Some Authors Fail

Today, book marketing whiz Penny Sansevieri, president of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., shares with all authors valuable information on what works and what doesn't work in getting your book noticed, bought, and read.

Why (Some) Authors Fail
by Penny C. Sansevieri

Sorry for the buzz kill title of this article, but instead of spreading pixie dust as many marketing articles do, I thought I'd take a hard look at the realities of self-defeating behavior and some of the things authors might buy into that will sabotage their careers. Over the years I've written a lot of articles on how to be successful, but to be successful you must first learn how to fail up, meaning that you learn from what you did wrong, take full responsibility for it and move on. Lessons in publishing are often costly, both in time and dollars. I don't presume to tell you that you should avoid making any mistakes, but many of them are avoidable. Here are a few for you to consider.

Not Learning Enough About the Industry

The first piece of this is simple: get to know the market you are in. This is a bit of a dual message because I'm not just speaking of the market you are promoting to: your area of expertise, but also to the publishing industry at large. Who else is publishing in this area? What are they publishing? Is your area of writing hot or a fading trend? These are all good things to know before you jump headlong into your area. Getting to know your market can help you not only avoid expensive errors but also possibly incorporate trends into your book that could help to leverage its success. How to learn about the industry? Read up on it at sites like, subscribe to the free or paid newsletter the site offers. This will give you a good sense of what's selling, who's buying, what's being published. Publishers Weekly is another good resource. If you can't afford a subscription try their online site at, or check out your local library to see if they carry any copies. This is a great industry resource.

Not Accepting Feedback

A couple of weeks ago an author who has sat in on a number of my classes, both online and off, asked me numerous times how she could get onto Huffington Post as a blogger. I told her I would try to pursue a HuffPo blogger for her to get feedback on her work. I did this as a favor because, well, she was relentless in her pursuit of this and I had to admire that. So, I finally got a blogger to review her work and the critique came back not so good. In fact it was terrible. I sat on it for a day, wondering if I should share it with her. I finally decided that if she was so relentless about her career, she would be equally relentless about crafting a perfect message, right? Not so much, actually. When I forwarded her the feedback she shot me off an email saying that many other people loved it and that astrologically this was a terrible time to accept feedback so she would dismiss it. Some moon phase or something. I honestly can't recall. No, I'm not making this up. OK, listen, full confession time here. I have a friend who calls me whenever Mercury is retrograde, "don't buy anything electronic" she says, and I listen. Well, sometimes. Anyway, point being that I get that we're all driven by a different drummer, but if someone takes the time to critique your work why would you not try to learn from that? Look, I know not everyone is going to be spot-on with their feedback, but take from it what you can and move on - better yourself, better your writing.

Feedback is a crucial part to any writer's career. If someone who is more knowledgeable than you about the industry you are in is willing to give you feedback you should listen. Really. In a room of one hundred authors I can pick out the successful ones. You know who they are? They are the ones who aren't so wrapped up in their egos that they aren't willing to listen and learn.

Not Surrounding Yourself with Enough Professionals

Let's face it, your mother and immediate family will love anything you write. These are not the people who will offer you the kind of guidance that will further your career. Yes, they will (and should) love and support you through this work, but you need professionals you trust by your side giving you advice, wisdom, and direction. You don't need to keep a group of experts on retainer, but you need to know who they are so you can call on them when you need help.

Not Doing Their Research

What would you think of a store owner who opened a yogurt shop in downtown San Diego only to find that five other stores were opening within months of his, one of them a very successful franchise with a huge following? Wouldn't this make you sort of wonder why on earth this store owner would do that, I mean open a store without doing the proper research? Then why on earth would you launch head first into publishing without knowing your market - I mean the publishing market? So many authors learn the ropes after their book is out, and by then it's too late. Well, not too late really because you still have a book, but late in the sense that you can't really do anything about mistakes made and the money it's gonna cost you. There are a ton of online resources out there. Get to know them, I've listed a number of them in this article and there are more, many more. The Internet is abundant with free content. Use it.

Measuring Their Success in Book Sales

Many of you might be shaking your head wondering how I could possibly say this, but it's true. Book sales, even in the best of economic climates, are sketchy and planning your success or failure around them is a very bad way to market your book. Here's the reality: exposure = awareness = sales. The more exposure you get, the more awareness there is for the book, the more sales you may get. But this equation takes time and in the midst of this marketing many other really great non-book-sale-related things may happen. An example of this is an author who didn't really sell a lot of her books as she was marketing, but found that her speaking gigs started to pick up. Each speaking gig netted her about fifty book sales, and because of the market she was in, many of those book sales turned into individual consulting gigs that brought in much more revenue than a single book sale ever could have. Get the picture?

The other reason I say this is because book sales can be tough to calculate, many reporting agencies don't report sales for three to six months. I know this sounds crazy but it's part of the reason why publishing is such a tricky business. So, if you're doing a huge push in December and you look at your statement in January and find that you've only sold 3 books, it might be because you're looking at sales figures from September or October when you weren't doing any marketing at all.

Still not convinced? Then let me share my own story with you. As of today, Red Hot Internet Publicity has been out since July of 2009. I suspect to date it's sold 5,000 or fewer copies. Not impressive, is it? Does that number bother me? Not at all. Want to know why? Because out of the copies sold I have probably brought twenty to thirty new authors on board who will likely be authors for life. Also, I got a teaching gig at NYU because someone handed someone at NYU this book and all of a sudden - there you have it. So if I measured my success by book sales, you bet I'd be depressed. Thank God I don't. Book sales aren't what drive my success. The same should be true for you. Start measuring your success in other ways and book sales will come. I promise.

Seth Godin, aka brilliant marketer, addressed this in a recent blog post too.

Not Understanding How New York Publishing Works

We may not like how the corporate publishing model works, we may find fault with it, but to understand it is to understand how the industry works. For example, knowing the publishing seasons and why Fall is the biggest time for New York publishers to launch a book and perhaps the worst time for you to send your book to market if you've self-published.

Also, know that corporate publishers don't publish to niches, or rarely do, so if you're publishing to a niche, you may have a real leg up.

As for bookstores, the big six in New York pretty much own most of the shelf space in your local Barnes & Noble, so if you're vying to get in there, you are going to have to do more than show up with a book in hand and a winning smile. You're going to have to promote yourself to that local market and gain enough interest for your book that people start asking for it in bookstores.

Understanding the corporate publishing model means knowing and researching your industry and again, not just the industry you are writing for, but the market of publishing in general. Knowing what's selling, what's not - who's buying, who's closing their doors. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with it and you'll have a much more successful campaign.

Playing the Blame Game

If something goes wrong, own it. Unless it's really not your fault, unless you were taken for a ride somehow, swindled or whatever. Own it. Take responsibility. Here's an example. Recently an author came up to me after a class I taught and said she'd pitched 200 bloggers and only 5 of them wanted her book. What was wrong with them? Well, maybe it wasn't the bloggers at all. Bloggers are busy, busier than they've ever been so your pitch has to be strong and your book exactly right for the blogger you are pitching. If you're not getting a lot of pick up on your pitch you might need a new pitch and/or you might need a new set of bloggers. Don't assume it's someone else's fault. Investigate what happened and take a critical look at the results. If you don't feel you can be objective, hire someone to sift through the data. Assuming success eluded you because of someone else's lack of interest or follow through might be undermining your campaign and you could be missing out on important data that could really help turn your campaign around.

Believing in the Unbelievable

There are no guarantees. No one can promise book sales, fame, or Oprah. Period. End of story. If someone is promising you these things, run, or if the offer seems too good to be true it likely is. If all else fails ask someone you trust. I get folks asking me all the time about campaigns, programs, and marketing opportunities. Feel free to do the same. Whether you are working with us or not, now or in the future, I will always give you a fair and honest answer. If you'd rather go to someone else, great - but find someone whose opinion you trust and ask before signing on the dotted line.

Success is not about hard work alone, it's also about making smart, savvy choices and not being blinded by your own ambition, creativity, or ego such that it undermines your work. To be successful you need to be relentless, believe in your work and your mission but you also need to be objective, realistic, and humble. That is a successful mix for any author and in the end, isn't it really about getting the book out there? Focus on what matters. Good luck!

Helpful Resources:

Some great and helpful books:

* Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (ParaPublishing, 2009) - Dan Poynter

* The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book (Writer's Digest, 2009 or 2010) - Marilyn Ross & Sue Collier

* Doing Business by the Book: How to Craft a Crowd-Pleasing Book and Attract More Clients and Speaking Engagements Than You Ever Thought Possible - Sophfronia Scott (Advantage Media Group, 2008)

* 1001 Ways to Market Your Book - John Kremer (Open Horizons, 2009)

* Red Hot Internet Publicity - Penny Sansevieri (Cosimo, 2009)

* Get Published Today - Penny Sansevieri (Lulu Publishing, 2010)

Great Publishing Blogs

* The Self Publishing Review

* POD People

* Nathan Bransford

* Moby Lives

* Holt Uncensored

* The Book Deal

* Galleycat 

For more valuable tips and insider info, check out Penny's website or drop her a line to subscribe to her newsletter.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Makes Carlene Rae Dater Write (& Win a FREE Book!)

Romance/paranormal author Carlene Rae Dater is not only gracing us with her presence today and giving us her thoughts on why she writes, she's giving away a FREE PDF copy of her latest book, Mysterious Gift. Mysterious Gift has an intriguing premise:
When Brian Wakefield wakes in the ER of a hospital he realizes he’s lost his memory but gained the ability to know people. With one touch, he identifies their most intimate secrets. Nurse Robin Guyer believes he’s the only man who can help her achieve sexual satisfaction but is he willing to help?

Brian not only brings Robin to new heights of ecstasy, he wants to include her in his life of wealth and privilege but first she has to help him control his Mysterious Gift. Together they travel to a shadowy New England Institute and make a startling discovery.

To win your copy of Mysterious Gift, simply leave a comment for Carlene below, along with a way to reach you should you be the lucky winner.

Now, let's get to why Carlene writes...

Why Do I Write?
By Carlene Rae Dater

Because if I didn’t my head would explode! Seriously, I love telling stories and always have. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. As a child, if I didn’t have my nose in a book, I would have my dolls and Teddy Bears all lined up and I’d be telling them a story. I just never thought I could tell stories for fun and profit!

I came late to the writing game. I never wrote a word for publications until I was 38 years old. Geez, just think how rich and famous I would be if I’d started earlier. Well, water under the bridge. I finally started and that’s all that matters. I began my writing career as a journalist, doing hard news, features and humorous essays. One of the great things about writing for newspapers is there are NO writer’s blocks in the newsroom. If you have a deadline, you write.

I branched out from there and started freelancing. No, it didn’t pay much but it was great fun! I kept telling stories and published them in the horror, mystery, and romance, religious and….yup, I’ll admit it – the confession market. I wrote for all the TRUE’s, TRUE LOVE, TRUE ROMANCE, TRUE EXPERIENCE….That, too, was great training for telling stories. When you write a confession story, you have to have a beginning, middle and an end, develop characters and, with confession magazines, your protagonist has to learn a life lesson. Best of all, there’s no byline! After all, they were “true.” 

Hey, I made money to feed my dogs so it was well worth it.

Sadly, I had to give up writing for 10 years while I helped my husband start a business. No, my head didn’t blow up, but I had a lot of dreams and made a lot of notes. When I could, finally, resume writing, I thought it might be fun to write a book. How hard could that be? We all know the answer – a lot harder than we think. But, as I said, I love telling stories so I started writing books. To date, I’ve written 12 books, published eight novels, one non-fiction book, have two novels still looking for homes and one, the first, languishing under my bed where it will do doubt be forever.

Because it takes me about a year to write a book, I’ve branched out and have started writing novellas, erotic novellas. Hey, I told you have a good imagination! I just published my first erotic paranormal romantic suspense novella, Mysterious Gift at Cobblestone Press.

Right now I have ideas for two more novellas and another book, but the day is early. That could change. You see, I HAVE to keep writing – or my head will blow up!

Carlene currently lives in San Diego with her husband and two huge yellow labs, Tara and Duke. She conducts a monthly free writing workshop at a local library. In her spare time, she loves reading, movies, playing with her dogs, and painting with watercolors. Visit her online here.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: The Girl in the Woods by David Jack Bell

As both a writer and reader, I always am confounded by genre definitions. Do I write horror, suspense, mystery, paranormal, dark fantasy, thriller, or speculative fiction? All of the above? A, B, or C?
I suspect, on the basis of The Girl in the Woods, David Jack Bell might be confounded by the same difficulty. Is The Girl in the Woods a smart thriller, a paranormal tale about a strange clearing and its compelling effects, a police procedural, a dark fantasy about psychic visions? My answer to all of the questions above is: does it matter? As long as it’s a good story, I leave the pigeonholing to the literary critics, and the readers and reviewers who concern themselves with such things.
The Girl in the Woods is a good novel, period...

Go here to read the rest of the review at Dark Scribe Magazine.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Top 10 Gay-Themed Books

Elisa Rolle (check out her blog here) is an Italian book reviewer who focuses on GLBT books and does a lot for both writers and readers to promote the cause of literary. Recently, Elisa asked me to share my top ten favorite books and I thought I'd share part of that article with you here. See the whole article here.

The Inside Reader: Rick R. Reed

I like Rick R. Reed since his stories feel real, even when they are paranormal bordering in horror. It's all in the characters, where probably I find little pieces of the author himself. And then sometime, Rick R. Reed leaves at home the horror and gifts us with some romantic but never silly contemporary romances about being a over-30 gay modern man.

Rick R. Reed´s Inside Reader List

When Elisa asked me to pick a top ten of books, I freaked out. When I move, the worst part of it is packing up and moving all the books. I am buried under books. I have read more books than I can count. I am a true book slut, moving restlessly from one to the other, finding satisfaction here, disappointment there...and sometimes magic (the same has held true for me with men, but that's another story).

So, I used the following criteria for this list. First, since this is a site devoted primarily to gay fiction, I wanted my choices to at least reflect that, if only in a tangential way. Second, I wanted to just give you the very first books that came to mind when I thought of my very favorite "gay" books. I´m a great believer in going with one´s gut. So here they are (in no particular order):

1) Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Highsmith has long been one of my literary icons. When it comes to probing the darkest sides of human nature, no one does it better than she. Strangers on a Train is a much better novel than the Hitchcock movie of the same name (although that was not without its charm, among them the very lovely Farley Granger) and has a much darker resolution. Its homoeroticism, too, is much more explicit than in the sanitized Hollywood film that bears the same name.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 2001)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 0393321983
ISBN-13: 978-0393321982
Amazon: Strangers on a Train

A major new reissue of the work of a classic noir novelist. With the acclaim for The Talented Mr. Ripley, more film projects in production, and two biographies forthcoming, expatriate legend Patricia Highsmith would be shocked to see that she has finally arrived in her homeland. Throughout her career, Highsmith brought a keen literary eye and a genius for plumbing the psychopathic mind to more than thirty works of fiction, unparalleled in their placid deviousness and sardonic humor. With deadpan accuracy, she delighted in creating true sociopaths in the guise of the everyday man or woman. Now, one of her finest works is again in print: Strangers on a Train, Highsmith's first novel and the source for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1953 film. With this novel, Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

2) The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren. How many other gay men have had the same experience as I did? I discovered this book on a trip to the mall when I was in high school, surreptitiously bought it when my friend wasn´t looking, and took it to home, hid it between my mattress, and box springs...and absolutely treasured it. It opened my eyes to so much (yes, two men can really love each other-it´s not a sickness or an abnormality) and made me realize I was not alone.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Wildcat Press; 20 Anv edition (June 1, 1996)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 0964109964
ISBN-13: 978-0964109964
Amazon: The Front Runner

First published in 1974, The Front Runner raced to international acclaim — the first novel about gay love to become popular with mainstream. In 1975, coach Harlan Brown is hiding from his past at an obscure New York college, after he was fired from Penn State University on suspicion of being gay. A tough, lonely ex-Marine of 39, Harlan has never allowed himself to love another man. Then Billy Sive, a brilliant young runner, shows up on his doorstep. He and his two comrades, Vince Matti and Jacques LaFont, were just thrown off a major team for admitting they are gay. Harlan knows that, with proper training, Billy could go to the '76 Olympics in Montreal. He agrees to coach the three boys under strict conditions that thwart Billy's growing attraction for his mature but compelling mentor. The lean, graceful front runner with gold-rim glasses sees directly into Harlan's heart. Billy's gentle and open acceptance of his sexuality makes Harlan afraid to confront either the pain of his past, or the challenges which lay in wait if their intimacy is exposed. But when Coach Brown finds himself falling in love with his most gifted athlete, he must combat his true feelings for Billy or risk the outrage of the entire sports world — and their only chance at Olympic gold. Author Patricia Nell Warren has created a gay literary monument with the searing reality of her own years in the sport, as a runner, sports activist, AAU official and reporter for Runner's World.

3) No Night is Too Long by Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine). No contemporary mystery/psychological thriller writer does it better than Ruth Rendell. She plays with gay themes in several of her novels, but in this tale of psychological suspense, she most successfully blends homosexual themes and characters with heart-pounding suspense and shines a light into our darkest fears and compulsions.

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Onyx (January 1, 1996)
ISBN-10: 0451406346
ISBN-13: 978-0451406347
Amazon: No Night is Too Long

The author of Anna's Book -- who was hailed as "one of the finest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world" by the New York Times Book Review -- has written a relentlessly compelling tale of sexual obsession, mistaken identity, and murder. Tim thought he'd gotten away with it. For months after the murder off the Alaskan coast he'd heard not a word. No policeman at his door asking questions. Nothing. And then the letters began. At first they seemed almost innocuous accounts of historical events. But a common theme emerged quickly. It was particularly germane to Tim, and it related directly to murder. In No Night Is Too Long, Barbara Vine has written a tour de force, rich in characters and setting, a remarkable novel by an internationally celebrated master of her craft. To research the book, the author and her husband embarked on a boat trip from Seattle up the Alaskan coast. The stark beauty of that experience provides No Night Is Too Long with an extraordinarily vivid sense of place. The novel's exploration of sexual identity and guilt represents a departure for Vine. Its resolution -- as always -- is a stunning surprise.

4) Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim. This was Heim´s debut novel and it´s weird, wonderful, and disturbing, combining alien abduction, memory loss, and child sexual abuse in a compelling, lyrical, and thought-provoking narrative. I´m sad to say that none of his subsequent work had the sheer power of this one.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 10, 2005)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 0060841699
ISBN-13: 978-0060841690
Amazon: Mysterious Skin

At the age of eight Brian Lackey is found bleeding under the crawl space of his house, having endured something so traumatic that he cannot remember an entire five–hour period of time. During the following years he slowly recalls details from that night, but these fragments are not enough to explain what happened to him, and he begins to believe that he may have been the victim of an alien encounter. Neil McCormick is fully aware of the events from that summer of 1981. Wise beyond his years, curious about his developing sexuality, Neil found what he perceived to be love and guidance from his baseball coach. Now, ten years later, he is a teenage hustler, a terrorist of sorts, unaware of the dangerous path his life is taking. His recklessness is governed by idealized memories of his coach, memories that unexpectedly change when Brian comes to Neil for help and, ultimately, the truth.

5) In a Shallow Grave by James Purdy. Purdy is one of the most underrated American writers. I believe he is one of the masters of 20th century literature and this gem, about a disaffected and disfigured war veteran and his love for a hired male caretaker and the fugitive who comes into both their lives is spiritual, carnal, and profound. And Purdy´s command of the language and his use of American colloquial speech is nothing short of poetry.

Paperback: 140 pages
Publisher: City Lights Publishers (January 1, 2001)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 0872862348
ISBN-13: 978-0872862340
Amazon: In a Shallow Grave

Beautiful, moving novel of a love triangle.

6) The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. A perfectly rendered portrait of England in the 1980s and the rise of the new right, this story about young gay Nick Guest and his social and sexual awakening is harrowing stuff, since we know that tragedy lurks just around the corner for not only our naïve young-and often selfish-protagonist, but for a whole segment of society.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 2nd edition (September 15, 2005)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 1582346100
ISBN-13: 978-1582346106
Amazon: The Line of Beauty

Winner of 2004’s Man Booker Prize for fiction and one of the most talked about books of the year, The Line of Beauty is a sweeping novel about class, sex, and money that brings Thatcher’s London alive.

7) Was by Geoff Ryman. This revisionist take on my favorite movie of all time, The Wizard of Oz, is simply brilliant literature. In its parallel stories of a "real" Dorothy Gale, a "scarecrow" dying of AIDS, and the plight of a child star named Frances Gumm combine to form a narrative that is nothing short of literary brilliance.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); later printing edition (May 1, 1993)
ISBN-10: 0140178724
ISBN-13: 978-0140178722
Amazon: Was

This haunting, wildly original novel explores the lives of several characters entwined by The Wizard of Oz--both the novel written by L. Frank Baum and the strangely resonant 1939 film. Was traverses the American landscape to reveal how the human imagination transcends the bleakest circumstance.

8) Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin. The Tales of the City books, like The Front Runner, were eye-openers and touchstones for me as a young gay man coming to grips with his own identity. Reading this last entry in the series really resonated with me and touched me, since I am not far behind Michael himself and have experienced many, if not most, of his same joys and sorrows.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (June 12, 2007)
Publisher Link:
ISBN-10: 0060761350
ISBN-13: 978-0060761356
Amazon: Michael Tolliver Lives

Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin's classic Tales of the City series, is arguably one of the most widely loved characters in contem-porary fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his ground-breaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the fifty-five-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice. Having survived the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers, Michael has learned to embrace the random pleasures of life, the tender alliances that sustain him in the hardest of times. Michael Tolliver Lives follows its protagonist as he finds love with a younger man, attends to his dying fundamentalist mother in Florida, and finally reaffirms his allegiance to a wise octogenarian who was once his landlady. Though this is a stand-alone novel—accessible to fans of Tales of the City and new readers alike—a reassuring number of familiar faces appear along the way. As usual, the author's mordant wit and ear for pitch-perfect dialogue serve every aspect of the story—from the bawdy to the bittersweet. Michael Tolliver Lives is a novel about the act of growing older joyfully and the everyday miracles that somehow make that possible.

9) The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt. This was Leavitt´s first novel and, while I wouldn´t say it´s his best, I would say it´s his sweetest and most satisfying. So much of the story resonates with me personally (the closeted father with a gay son) that it simply touches my heart more than his other work.

Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (November 14, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0395877334
ISBN-13: 978-0395877333
Amazon: The Lost Language of Cranes

When Philip falls in love with Eliot, he realizes it's time to come out of the closet to his parents, Owen and Rose. But they are experiencing life changes of their own. Owen spends Sunday afternoons in gay porn theaters, and when he and Rose are forced out of their long-time apartment, they must confront his latent homosexuality and their son's stunning admission.

10) IM by Rick R. Reed. You didn´t think I´d compile this list without putting myself on it? But people always ask which of my books is my favorite and this one is clamoring for a mention. I love this tale of a serial killer finding his victims on gay online hookup sites because it combines a little romance, with a lot of suspense, some horror, and commentary on gay life and culture.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Quest (May 10, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1932300791
ISBN-13: 978-1932300796
Amazon: IM

The Internet Is the New Meat Market for Gay Men Now a Killer Is Turning the Meat Market into a Meat Wagon. One by one, he's killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of, he lures, seduces, charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. He's just another guy. They invite him over. He's just another trick. Harmless. They're dead wrong. When the first bloody body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. Sickened by the butchered mess of one of his brothers left on display in a bathtub, he seeks relief outside where the young man who discovered the body waits to tell him the story of how he found his friend. But who is this witness...and did he play a bigger part in the murder than he's letting on? For Comparetto, this encounter with a witness is the beginning of a nightmare. Because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene. And maybe, he's more than just a killer...maybe he's dead himself. Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth, a truth that he needs to discover before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity...his life. Because in this killer's world, IM doesn't stand for instant stands for instant murder.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Does Not Compute: Homosexuality=Pedophilia

If you travel back a little bit in my family tree, you’ll find that the white bread last name Reed can be pushed aside rather quickly by my mother’s maiden name: Comparetto. Yes, on the maternal side, I am Sicilian and being a Sicilian, there is no other church I was going to be raised in other than what my family called the Church. I was baptized, confirmed, went to catechism, and was raised in a strict Catholic household.

And now I feel the church is a place I am not welcome, where I am shunned because I am a gay man. I have a spiritual side but it cannot be nurtured in the religion and tradition that formed me as a child and young adult.

And lately, the Church has been flapping its jaws and getting a lot of press because they are attempting to hide their too-numerous-to-mention scandals involving priests molesting young boys by saying things like what the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said recently at a news conference in Chile, “Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia but many others have demonstrated, I was told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. I have the documents of the psychologists. That is the problem.”

No Cardinal, the problem is you being vague about your “documents,” when even Rev. Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said, “To the best of my knowledge, there is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to child sexual abuse….In the sexual abuse of children, the issue is the sexual fixation of the abusers and not their sexual orientation.”

This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart because I suffered personally because of this mindset. I have a son and while I was going through my divorce with his mother I was given only very limited visitation (supervised—at my parent’s home) simply because I was gay. There was no other evidence to support this rigid and unreasonable ruling. Even though I had an adult male partner and had never exhibited the least interest in children as sex objects, I was subject to having my time with my son severely limited. The good news is that, after the trauma of the divorce died down and my son’s mother and I were once again on speaking terms, we tossed out the court ruling and allowed my son to visit me unsupervised every weekend. But it will always sting me that the unspoken assertion in the courtroom the day the ruling was made was that I could not be trusted with my child.

This issue formed the basis of a novel I would later write, Mute Witness (MLR Press, October 2009), where a young boy is abducted and sexually assaulted. Many of the people in the small town where the book is set immediately suspect the very loving and upright father of the boy, a gay man. Here’s a small excerpt to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

    “Are you leaving him alone with Jason?”
    Shelley shrugged. “Sure, when he comes over, I give him some time with Jason. Is there something wrong with that?”
    “Don’t you think there is?”
    Although she knew very well what her mother was getting at, she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
    Her mother snapped. “I think you do.” Then softened her tone. “Well, you know, Sean’s a, um, homosexual. You know.”
    Shelley could practically hear her mother squirming on the other end. She knew how hard it must have been for the woman to pronounce the word homosexual. Throughout her divorce, Shelley had listened to the woman’s railings against Sean, the quoting of biblical scripture against men laying with men and most hurtfully, the urgings her mother made to her to deny Sean any kind of visitation based on the fact that he was, um, homosexual. Used in Estelle’s arguments were the fears that such men could not be trusted around little boys, and how Sean had deliberately duped her when he married her. After all, Estelle had asked her, hadn’t there been men in his life before he came along? Shelley herself had told her mother that. He was just using her when he married her.
    “I just think, with his...desires...he might not be so safe around the boy.”
    “I think I can judge that.”
    “No, Shelley, I don’t think you can. You’re in a fragile state of mind. And God only knows why, but you’ve always given that man the benefit of the doubt.”
    “Sean loves Jason. He’s his father.”
    “I know that! But doesn’t it ever cross your mind that it might have been him? After all, Jason was, oh, I can’t bring myself to say it. But that’s what men like Sean like.”
    Shelley sighed, groping on the counter for her cigarettes. She lit one and sucked in hard on the smoke. She felt a perverse desire to shock her mother. “Sean likes to fuck other men, Mother. Not little boys.”
    The statement got the gasp Shelley was after. “Oh, Shelley. I hardly think we need to use such language.”
    “And I hardly think we need to be having this discussion. Sean would never do anything to hurt Jason.”
    “Leaving him wasn’t hurting him?”
    “No, I mean...” Shelley stopped herself, flustered.
    “And even if it wasn’t Sean, how do you know you can trust his...friend? What’s his name?”
    “Austin.” Shelley conjured up an image of the blond young man, handsome, broad shouldered, with the kind of blue eyes that once would have made Shelley stop and stare. Her competition. The one who had stolen him away. Except that wasn’t true. When she and Sean split up, there was no one in the picture. Austin had come along after the final divorce papers had been signed, after, in fact, she had started seeing Paul.
    “How do you know it wasn’t him?”
    “I just do.” Shelley wanted to slam the phone down, but she could never do that. Estelle was, after all, her mother.
    “I think your certainty is blinding you to the danger of those two men. I think they, or one of them, probably are responsible. And you should at least consider that. Even if they’re not responsible, I think you should at least consider it. Think about your child, honey.”
    Shelley suddenly felt trapped, as if the weight of this whole tragedy had suddenly come down on her shoulders. She knew Sean would never do such a thing to his son and Austin...well, that just wasn’t what homosexuals were about, was it? Wasn’t there a word for men who liked children? Pedophiles. Homosexuals were not pedophiles.”

I just hope the day comes when it will seem absurd that a gay father has to fear allegations of pedophilia simply because he is homosexual. I hope the day comes when reasonable, right-thinking people will see that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia about as much as heterosexuality is.

Buy a copy of Mute Witness here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Author Anne Brooke on Why She Writes

Anne Brooke is a favorite of mine. She is a born storyteller and her books always engage. Below, she tells us what inspires her...

Why do I Write?
by Anne Brooke
I write because it helps me make sense of the worlds in my head. All my life I've made up stories and writing them is the only way to release them. It's also the only way to find out what happens at the end, as I never know when I begin.

I also write to give a voice to the very strong gay male voice in my head. He's always been there - in a variety of guises and characters. And writing him down helps me get in touch with that side of myself more. And it's probably cheaper than therapy - as I have no real idea why a middle-aged straight woman has a young gay male voice in her head, but life is full of variety indeed! And, these days, I wouldn't be without him ... Though sometimes I do talk to him and find he answers back. Perhaps I should book that appointment after all?
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition. Her latest novel is The Hit List, an m/m romantic comedy about family, work and the unexpected chance for love. She has a secret passion for birdwatching. More information can be found at her website. Purchase her latest novel, The Hit List, here.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A New Amazon Review of Tales from the Sexual Underground

Sometimes, an Amazon review can make me this one. Five stars and the important thing is that the reviewer, Lesli Richardson, really "got" the book.

Review of Tales from the Sexual Underground
Rick R. Reed does it again. I admit I'm biased toward his work, but still, for me, this collection was satisfying on a number of levels.

Reader be warned, this is not a collection entirely of fiction. It is a mix of short stories and essays, and some of the subject matter isn't for the faint of heart. It isn't for someone looking for a m/m "romance" story. It is, however, well-worth the time and money spent reading it, and I imagine I'll be revisiting it again in the future.

Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud, beverage-snorting funny. Some were so creepy and disturbing I still get the willies when I think about them. He bounces around the spectrum from horror to hysterical and back again, and the truth is some of the stories are all the more disturbing because they could be true, even if fiction. That fragment of reality that pulls you in and suspends your disbelief and tells you yes, this could happen.

What Reed does best in the fictional stories is lays out (sometimes literally, haha) characters you can absolutely visualize. No cardboard stereotypes, no fake dialog. You can picture these as friends and family and co-workers. People you think you know but truly don't, anymore than they really know you. The short stories are tight (like some of the body parts mentioned...) and sometimes drag you kicking and screaming to the ending you wish wasn't going to happen, but still enjoy all the same. I prefer writers who are selectively sparse with their prose, who know when to paint with delicate brush strokes with loving details, and when to break out the Sharpie Marker to sketch the way, and Reed invariably delivers that, to this reader, with perfection.

The essays are great, snapshots into a lifestyle some may think they know from "Will and Grace" but showing you gritty realities even as he has you snorting coffee through your nose...again. (I'll send you the bill for my keyboard, Rick. *LOL*)

No, this collection won't be everyone's cuppa. But if you enjoy m/m fiction, especially of the hot and squishy variety, you will want to give "Tales From the Sexual Underground" a chance. It's a delectable buffet of debauchery, and there is a little something for everyone.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Living In the Real World

One of the other hats I wear these days (and quite fashionably too, if I may say so myself) in addition to writer is editor.

I am an editor for MLR Press. As part of my duties as a substantive editor is making decisions on submitted manuscripts as to whether or not they are right for MLR to publish. The senior editor forwards stories to me that are in the consideration hopper and I give a thumbs up (or regrattably) down. Recently, she sent me a book that was very historical with some fantasy elements.

While the book in question was well-written and seemed to be very well thought out,  I hated it. Not because it was a bad book or not the right genre, but simply because it was not my cup of tea. Now, I didn't think it was fair for me to give a negative assessment of the book just because it was not the sort of thing I'd choose to read on my personal time. So I sent it back to the senior editor, telling her of my quandry and asking that someone else assess if it was right for the house.

Fortunately, she was understanding and did not give me hell for not performing a task that editors all over the place perform every day. She was very understanding, which lead me to a small, but significant, revelation about my own tastes. To avoid further confusion, I sent her the following e-mail, outlining which books would be good for me to consider or not:

"And just to be clear on what I like and don't like, I submit the list below. I'm not trying to be difficult or a prima donna, but I also don't want to be put in the position of evaluating something that's in a genre I really don't like--that's not fair to me or the submitting author.

Contemporary Romance

Fantasy (dragons, wizards, etc)
Science Fiction"

And when I wrote the e-mail it dawned on me that I really don't like most books that fall into the "dislike" categories above. Of course, there are exceptions, and good books are good books, regardless of their genre. But the point I'm trying to make here is that when it comes to my reading tastes (as well as my taste in theater, movies, and TV), I'm a realist.

It's simply hard for me to get involved in a story that's not set in the "real" world with characters whom I feel I have known or could come to know. No offense against any of you who like swords and sorcerers, spaceships, or historical dramas set in Edwardian England, but those types of books simply do not engage me. The only exception is, of course, when it comes to horror. I love most things paranormal: zombies, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, but even then I like the people experiencing those things to be real folks, which may be the reason I have always like Stephen King so much. He sets real people down in bizarre or supernatural situations and I get caught up in their tales.

I mention this only because my life has become, like many of yours, I suspect, increasingly scattered as more and more demands are made on my time.

It's good to know what you like and what you don't like...and not wasting time on the things that don't do it for you.

My senior editor was completely understanding. And I hope you are too.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Writing is Like Being Queer: C.M. Harris

This time around, we have Lambda Literary Award-nominated author C.M. Harris sharing with us her unique reasons for putting words to paper...

Being a writer is like being queer
It’s not a choice, but a foregone conclusion

As a young girl, I wrote to escape my closeted life in a religious sect. And then, after I left the safety of that home to make my way in the outside world, I wrote to keep myself sane. Once I fully came out of the closet and met my girlfriend, I wrote for fun.

Then something changed. I began writing to be heard, to join in this story we’re all telling each other. It’s no surprise that with this evolution my writing became publishable. And I think it’s true for many of us—whether we’re genre or literary writers—that when we verge from the easy routes, that’s when the real story begins. In fact, these new, truer stories can impact us in ways that border on supernatural.

I’ll explain.

The second novel I wrote (the first is collecting dust under the bed) was a response to that cry from my teachers, my writing partners, my girlfriend: write what you know! After two decades of closing my ears and collecting rejections, I decided to listen. What came next was an amazing channeling of four characters that I would have never dreamed of writing about as a seventeen-year-old. It felt very dangerous. And, as it would turn out, it was dangerous. It would cost me plenty. Because when you write what you know, eventually you will be read by those who have inspired you.

But this particular story was dangerous in another way. You see, my novel involves a bit of speculative fiction—a toxic event that affects the inhabitants of a small religious community. Many of them grow sick with various forms of cancer. The month after I handed over the final manuscript to my editor, Katherine V. Forrest, I too was diagnosed with two kinds of breast cancer. The dogmatic mind of my upbringing insisted this was retribution for what I had written. Ironic justice from of a vengeful god. But the rational part of me knew that what had happened was simply proof of how true my novel was. It is a fiction. It is a lie. But it is Truth. And now that’s what drives my writing. And that is how I read now too, whether it is science fiction or non-fiction—what is really true about the human experience in these words? That’s what feeds my soul and connects me to others.

So I write—and read—to live. To survive. It no longer feels like a choice. Each of us has a volume within us. Some are wry and slim, while others are ponderous epics. I want to take in as many of them as I can in this lifetime.

That’s why I write. Why do you? 

C.M. Harris is the author of The Children of Mother Glory and the cancer-war-story blog LADIECTOMY.COM. Her short stories have been featured in Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, SALiT Magazine and Pseudopod horror podcast magazine. Find out more here.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let Him In! Sluggo Snares a Vampire

So my latest release from Amber Allure is now out, with the usual terrific cover from Trace Edward Zaber. Sluggo Snares a Vampire is an ebook short about one very frightening night in the life of a mousy gay man who spends far too much time online...and far too much time enmeshed in the traditions of horror cinema.

Yet, when he runs across a sexy, enigmatic, and deadly vampire in a chat room, he forgets about one of the main cardinal rules of vampires: they can't come in unless you invite them.

Such a simple rule! And such consequences if one forgets!

Buy Sluggo Snares a Vampire.

 When Sluggo cruised online chat rooms, he wasn’t looking for a hook-up; he was looking for love. But love has a way of being elusive, especially when you’re not being honest. Presenting himself as “Sir Raven,” Sluggo promises his chat room cohorts he is the “master of the night.”

And then he meets someone who challenges him—someone who claims the title, “master of the night” as his own. TepesAllure’s enigmatic and flirtatious messages to Sluggo start out as fun banter, but quickly turn to eerie disquiet.

How does TepesAllure know so much about Sluggo life? How can he know—without even a picture to go on—what Sluggo looks like? And what’s all this about an age numbering in the centuries and a curious taste for blood?

Has Sluggo snared a vampire? Or has the vampire snared him? As the night unfolds, so do the advances of TepesAllure…and even when Sluggo tries to escape, he finds that getting out is not nearly as easy as getting in.

But to make their online connection real, TepesAllure needs Sluggo to invite him in. Will Sluggo succumb to Tepes’ allure? And will the man of his dreams turn out to be a nightmare?

…Sluggo’s realized suddenly how easy it had been to sucker in these online men who found themselves one hand between their legs while the other caressed the keyboard, as Sluggo played up to their fantasies, becoming God’s gift to homos and the devil’s Tantalus to straight women. He wanted to believe it was some strange and evilly alluring Brad Pitt at the other end of their electronic connection. But what was this strange business about being centuries old?
He typed: “Methinks you’re a little too enraptured with horror cinema.”
“Horror cinema has got nothing on me, my little bespectacled piglet. Horror cinema has managed to get so few of my traditions right as to be truly laughable. But there has been one tradition, rule if you will, they’ve always succeeded in getting correct.”
Sluggo rubbed his arms. There seemed to be a sudden, odd chill in the room. He glanced at the window and saw the black night pressing against it, almost as if it was something solid and alive. He shook his head, realizing he was being silly, and made a note to check the thermostat. He returned to the keyboard, wondering about the “horror movie tradition” Tepes had mentioned. “And what would that be?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
Sluggo rolled his eyes. Of course, you can’t. That’s because there is no such tradition. “You’re quite the mystery man, aren’t you?”
“You couldn’t even begin to guess.”
Suddenly, Sluggo’s spine stiffened as another shiver washed over him…

Buy Sluggo Snares a Vampire.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Evolution of a Cover A DEMON INSIDE

A Demon Inside is my gay horror/romance about a possessed house in the wilds of Wisconsin, coming out next summer from MLR Press.

I recently had the privilege to work with the great--and very receptive--cover artist Alex Beecroft on the cover for the book and wanted to share with you the process we went through in order to get to the final product, which you see at left.

I stared off by giving Alex the following suggestions, along with the synopsis that had already been developed for the back cover.

"Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’d never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s will, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man his salvation…or is he the source of Hunter’s terror?

I am also attaching three other covers that convey the mood and style of what I hope for (one of them is yours). While I don't care for the type at all, THE CHOSEN is probably closest what I'm looking for: a creepy old house and two male figures facing one another, all shadowy and moody.

The house in the story, by the way, is a big old American field stone mansion. It doesn't have to be exactly like that, but I wouldn't want to see anything like a castle or an English manor, if you go that route. But I encourage you to play with ideas and let your imagination roam free."

These are the covers I sent Alex to use as inspiration:

Right off the bat, Alex came up with a the cover we would eventually go with, proving that there's something to be said for trusting one's first instincts. Of course, I couldn't just go with the first attempt and I asked her for more options, saying: "I really, really love it and am tempted to say we're done. My only hesitation is that there's just one male on the cover and the idea that this is also a gay love story as well may not come across. Would it be too much to ask if you could do something that would incorporate two males, like the cover I sent you for THE CHOSEN?

I am not ruling this one out by any means, though. It's terrific. But just wondered if you could do an alternate with the above in mind..
." Here are a few of the choices Alex came up with:

Obviously, the "couples" idea just didn't work as well as the solitary guy (if you look closely at the second one, you can see where she even tried adding a cracked photo in a frame to add the dimension of my main character fleeing a broken relationship); too corny for me. The cover using the guy appearing out of smoke was cool, but too horror-ish and also not easy to immediately discern just what the hell it was.

So I had just about decided to go with option #1, when I ran across the cover for the book above. Oh damn! I thought, we can't use that; it's almost the same. Yes, the image was a stock photo and could be used by anyone, but still... Alex went back to work, photoshopping the existing #1 choice to swap out colors to make it look different. It looked different, all right...and not as good. We tried some other options, including the one at left, which I loved, but not as much as the first.

You know how the story ends of course. After long thought and talk with Alex, we decided the best option was the one that was the most intriguing and arresting, which was the very first one she came up with. We both agreed no one was likely to even run across both covers (until now) and that they were different and that the books they fronted were very different as well. Besides, as Alex showed me, images for cover art have a history of being used and reused on several different books. Just go to Reusable Cover Art for a whole bevy of examples of how many books use the same images for different covers.

So, I'm satisfied and looking forward the summer publication of A Demon Inside.

But I really want to know: what do you think of the cover? Please let me (and Alex) a comment below.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Christiane France on Why She Writes

Christiane France is a writing peer of mine at Amber Quill Press. The highly successful romance author tells us, below, what makes her tick.

By Christiane France

Because I can? Because it’s the safest way of doing things I’d never have the guts to do otherwise? Because I want to show off my writing skills? Because I need to do something with my hands other than umm…err…well, you know, doing whatever there is to relieve the boredom of endless TV?  Or is it because I’m hoping for fame, fortune, instant recognition, and maybe having my books made into movies?

Actually, it’s none of the above. I write because I have a continuing and compulsive need to create something, anything, be it a new recipe, a new story idea, a new knitting pattern, or crochet design. So long as it starts off with a tiny grain of inspiration and ends up as a full blown successful whatever, I’m happy.

I also love to write (and that’s a crazy, mad, love it to death emotion not just a lukewarm like) because I’ve discovered being a pantser rather than a plotter is way more fun. I take a couple of characters, give them names and occupations, set them down somewhere in the world, and then I wind them up and watch them go. Like all infants, they need momma’s guiding hand for the first few steps, but once they realize they can walk, talk and do just about anything up to and including the ever so slightly illegal, they turn the tables and start telling me what to do. And that’s probably the part I like the best—when a character digs in his/her heels and says, no way, no how am I doing that, so there! Which, of course, is my cue to say, “Okay, sweet pea, and how would you like to do it?”

Of course there are times when none of us are sure whether to turn left, right or continue straight on. That’s when I have to start digging around for even more ideas. I just finished a story where I was having the worst problem trying to figure out the ending. I wanted something that said forever in a very special way. The two guys couldn’t come up with anything and neither could I, so I took the evening off and went to the movies. And, of course, you guessed it, something happened toward the end of the show that gave me a shot of pure inspiration.

I can hear you saying, what was it? What happened? Well, first you have to watch the movie Valentine’s Day, and then read my book The Cop and the Drifter when it comes out later this year (I’ve just heard it will be the weekend of May 30, 2010), I hope you get the connection because it was such a perfect moment in the movie and, I hope, the perfect one for my story. 

Christiane France truly believes that love makes the world go round, so she likes stories with both happy and bittersweet endings. Christiane has been writing romance for the past twenty years and lives near Niagara Falls with her husband and The Boys—two black and white Persian cats. Visit her online and check out her latest release, French Twist here.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Well, my gay erotic collection, Tales from the Sexual Underground, has its first review. The review was on "Well Read" which reviews mostly romance books, so I'm not surprised at some of the less than positive comments. One the one hand, the reviewer said:

"the quality of the writing was superb..." and "One poignant story, It Still Happens, told of the last hours of a man dying of AIDS and...had me in tears by the end."

But then the reviewer, well, I can't say "took me to task" but pointed out that the collection as a whole, was too dark and too realistic (in part because I think I deal frankly in it with the realities of things like HIV and drug abuse in the gay community) for her.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the review, but, like the reviewer, I had a mixed reaction to it. Even though she was not pleased with some of the content, she made it clear that it was not so much that the content was bad, but just not for her. And that's okay.

Read the whole review here.

And, if you dare, pick up TALES here.

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Monday, April 5, 2010


My latest e-book short, the funny, eerie, creepy, and slightly romantic Sluggo Snares a Vampire has just hit the shelves! This week only, my publisher is offering it at 35% here's your chance to have a small taste of my work for only $1.95.

Buy Sluggo Snares a Vampire here.

When Sluggo cruises online chat rooms, he isn’t looking for a hook-up, he’s looking for love. But love has a way of being elusive, especially when you’re not being honest. Presenting himself as “Sir Raven,” Sluggo promises his chat room cohorts he is the “master of the night.”

And then he meets someone who challenges him—someone who claims the title, “master of the night” as his own. TepesAllure’s enigmatic and flirtatious messages to Sluggo start out as fun banter, but quickly turn to eerie disquiet.

How does TepesAllure know so much about Sluggo life? How can he know—without even a picture to go on—what Sluggo looks like? And what’s all this about an age numbering in the centuries and a curious taste for blood?

Has Sluggo snared a vampire? Or has the vampire snared him? As the night unfolds, so do the advances of TepesAllure...and even when Sluggo tries to escape, he finds that getting out is not nearly as easy as getting in.

But to make their online connection real, TepesAllure needs Sluggo to invite him in. Will Sluggo succumb to Tepes’ allure? And will the man of his dreams turn out to be a nightmare?

...“Honesty is my strong suit, my little lamb. I think you’d agree I look pretty good for my age, which happens to number in the centuries. Think Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire. Think elegance and grace. And don’t worry about gym-toned bodies and steroid-enhanced pecs, thank you very much.”

Sluggo’s hungry mind conjured up the image: this fabulous creature at his keyboard, alone in some city apartment (a high rise, where the lights of Chicago’s skyscrapers were interrupted only by the dark void that was Lake Michigan). He realized suddenly how easy it had been to sucker in these online men who found themselves one hand between their legs while the other caressed the keyboard, as Sluggo played up to their fantasies, becoming God’s gift to homos and the devil’s Tantalus to straight women. He wanted to believe it was some strange and evilly alluring Brad Pitt at the other end of their electronic connection. But what was this strange business about being centuries old?

He typed: “Methinks you’re a little too enraptured with horror cinema.”

“Horror cinema has got nothing on me, my little bespectacled piglet. Horror cinema has managed to get so few of my traditions right as to be truly laughable. But there has been one tradition, rule if you will, they’ve always succeeded in getting correct.”

Sluggo rubbed his arms. There seemed to be a sudden, odd chill in the room. He glanced at the window and saw the black night pressing against it, almost as if it was something solid and alive. He shook his head, realizing he was being silly, and made a note to check the thermostat. He returned to the keyboard, wondering about the “horror movie tradition” Tepes had mentioned. “And what would that be?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

Sluggo rolled his eyes. Of course, you can’t. That’s because there is no such tradition. “You’re quite the mystery man, aren’t you?”

“You couldn’t even begin to guess.”

Suddenly, Sluggo’s spine stiffened as another shiver washed over him. But this was no chill as the result of the temperature in the apartment lowering because of a thermostat. No, this one—Sluggo could swear—had the feel of icy fingers caressing, just barely grazing the raised bumps of his spine, like long fingernails moving down his back...

Buy Sluggo Snares a Vampire here.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'm Coming Straight

It's true. I can't hide it any longer: I am a straight man pretending to be gay. That's me and the wife, above,  at Pike Place Market. Isn't she hot?

Why? Why would you do that? You wonder. Well, I'll tell you why. One, because as a gay man I could write gay books and everyone knows that books with gay protagonists, no matter what the genre, are hot sellers, the darling of the NY publishing scene, and adored by top shelf critics like those at the New York Times Review of Books. By pretending to be gay, I could become the rich and famous author I'd always dreamed of.

Now that I'm here, I figure I can let you see the real me. Not the me I chose to be, but who I really am. After all, who in their right mind would ever choose to be straight, with all its problems, its social ridicule, its complete and utter uncool factor? So I will no longer hide my power tools, my beer bottles, and my subscription to Maxim. And I certainly will not hide that I like to get together with a buddy on the weekends and do a little welding.

Second, I pretended to be gay because it got me sympathy, not only with the ladies (who thought they could trust me--which had its benefits if you know what I'm sayin'...okay?), but with the general public. All the cool people, the smart people, the people who know what's what, were pulling for me to be able to get married, to serve in the military, to have all this equality...and...and shit. It's kind of fun being the underdog, the cause celebre, if you will. Damn, I'll miss that.

And last, I hid my heterosexuality because I'm just a malicious bastard who gets a kick out of pulling the wool over your eyes.

Happy April Fool's Day.

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