Friday, December 26, 2014

Bare Threads is on Amazon! #mm #SavingLiamSeries

Bare Threads is available for pre-order on Amazon!

Liam is not a family man. He’s learned to avoid the entanglement and its mire of expectations. Expectations he is destined to crush. Unfortunately, Justin is pushing him into the arms of a new family and he’s fighting every step...until a person he never expected to see again reappears. The confrontation brings a new perspective and the inspiration to make a few concessions for the sake of the only man he is willing to call family.

Part of the Saving Liam Series.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Successful Blogging - Where is your focus? #writing

I read an interesting article the other day about successful blogging. You can read the complete post here, but I wanted to focus on one of the author's points. He advised that unless you are a celebrity, it is a mistake to write a blog post about yourself.

"...readers don’t care about you. Not really. They care about themselves."
Michael Hyatt

Personally, I've seen plenty of author blogs talking about what that person is doing with their day, stories they're working on, legal spats with publishers, etc. Assuming author blog posts are aimed mainly at readers, do you think this rule applies to us?

As writers, we market ourselves as much as we do our books and I know plenty of best-selling authors who talk about their pets, their daily schedule, issues with chronic illness, and family milestones. I also know plenty who don't, preferring to keep their posts focused on their books. I'm a private person so, over sharing is not my issue. However, I've always assumed readers appreciate the candor of those who invite people to tour the rooms of their life through blog posts and Facebook updates. What do you think?

Do you prefer to read posts about reviews, new releases, progress on books, and the occasional puppy picture or do you prefer glimpses of the person behind the pseudonym?

Book 4 in the Saving Liam Series
Available for pre-order December 26th

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bare Threads Cover Reveal Contest Winner

The winner of the Bare Threads cover reveal contest is:
 Reed M. 

Congratulations, Reed and thank you to everyone who entered.

Available for pre-order December 26th

Friday, December 12, 2014

Perception, Reality and Misguided Depression #writing

I want to tell you a story about reality and perception.

I went to school with a guy who is now a self-made millionaire. A few years after high school he got into Amway and from there created a lucrative career as a life coach, traveling the country as a motivational speaker. His website features a glowing resume of success that began with an early venture into the restaurant industry. His pod casts, recorded on the deck of his seaside home, offer hints about how his plan can transform your life. Just for fun he wrote a book offering a few of his secrets and sold thousands of copies...because who wouldn't buy a book about how to succeed from a guy who appears to have done it? 

Conversations with him always involve a monologue detailing his wealth and influence. Our latest lunch together included all the stereotypical trappings: a rented limo, a posh restaurant in a city painted with pretension, expensive wine, names dropped all over the floor. You get the idea. Many people hover between envy and depression during those conversations...except those of us who know the details behind the numbers. 

Photo by Peter Lee

Yes, he ran his own fast food place the summer he graduated from high school, a shack the size of a carnival booth. He was out of business by the following summer. Yes, he earned a million or so from Amway and what he didn't lose in the stock market, he spent on travel and the fancy house and expensive car required to maintain the appearance of success. He's brushed up against bankruptcy several times and sold a handful of start-up businesses mere months before they died of financial starvation. He's hustled 70 hours a week for decades with rarely a break. He's failed and started over and over and over...but nobody hears those stories. They hear of his triumphs and pay hundreds for his advice about building the carefree existence of the financially secure. An existence he's never had because it's all an illusion.

The truth is in the losses and delinquent loans, mortgages and leases, sleepless nights and ulcers. It's something he will never admit because keeping the perception of affluence alive is about more than his ego. That dream is his business and selling it to others is what keeps him afloat.

Photo by Gianluigi Calcaterra 

I've found several parallels between his career and mine. It seems authors and life coaches have similar problems. Everybody has had a book perform far below expectations. Few admit it at the time because perceived success is as important to an author's image as actual success. Readers don't want to take a chance on a book the author admits only sold 20 copies. 

"I wasn't lying. I was writing fiction with my mouth."
~ Homer Simpson

That's the biggest reason I avoid comparing myself to other writers. How do I know I'm not comparing myself to an illusion? I have met authors who really are making millions each year, supporting their spouses and sending their kids to private school on royalties alone. I haven't met very many. Most people I know are struggling to reimburse themselves for covers, conferences, and marketing expenses. They live for the annual tax refund that temporarily fattens a starving bank account. They fret over how and where to spend money on promotion and lament the time it takes away from writing the next book.

I'm sure you can see the point of my tale. Don't be depressed because your success as an author doesn't match the stories you hear drifting around the internet. Things aren't necessarily what they seem. Sometimes a story of great success is just that...a story.

The Saving Liam Series
Get it today from your favorite ebook retailer!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bare Threads Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Here it is! Book 4 of the Saving Liam series:

Available for pre-order December 26th


Liam is not a family man. He’s learned to avoid the entanglement and its mire of expectations. Expectations he is destined to crush. Unfortunately, Justin is pushing him into the arms of a new family and he’s fighting every step until a person he never expected to see again reappears. The confrontation brings a new perspective and the inspiration to make a few concessions for the sake of the only man he is willing to call family.

While this book will be the last one to focus on Liam and Justin's relationship, it doesn't mean the end of the series. There will be a spin-off book...maybe two...maybe three. celebrate the official cover reveal over on All Romance Cafe, I'm doing a giveaway! What's a cover reveal without presents, right? Enter below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Catch up with the Saving Liam Series today!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Strip Tease Cover Reveal - Bare Threads

Five days to the Bare Threads cover reveal and giveaway!


Liam is not a family man. He’s learned to avoid the entanglement and its mire of expectations. Expectations he is destined to crush. Unfortunately, Justin is pushing him into the arms of a new family and he’s fighting every step until a person he never expected to see again reappears. The confrontation brings a new perspective and the inspiration to make a few concessions for the sake of the only man he is willing to call family.

Book four of the Saving Liam Series

The Saving Liam Series
Get your copies today!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Guest Post: Fallen Angels of Karnataka by Hans M. Hirschi

I'm thrilled to have author Hans M. Hirschi's latest book Fallen Angels of Karnataka on the blog today. Read all about this amazing store and get it while it's still on sale!

Oh...did I forget to mention there's a giveaway? Of course, there's a giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win.

Enjoy Happy Geek Media’s debut virtual tour of The Fallen Angels of Karnataka

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by:
Hans M. Hirschi
Published by:
Yaree AB
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, LGBT, Social Awareness, Literary, Travel
264 pages
Release Date: September 15, 2014


In an isolated mountain town in Norway, Haakon dreams of traveling the world, pursuing adventure, seeing great cities, finding love. His very first trip to London with friends from university offers much promise, yet soon after tragedy strikes. Still young, and mourning the loss of his lover, Haakon is not ready to give up on his dream, so when a rich Englishman offers him the chance to join him on a tour of the world, Haakon takes it, daring to believe that his dream is finally coming true...but at what price?

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is a novel filled with adventure, life's hard-learned lessons, loss, despicable evil, and finally, love and redemption. See what others are saying about The Fallen Angels of Karnataka on the author's media page here.




“As the flight was approaching Ellinikon International Airport, the captain announced that they would be passing over the city center, providing those sitting on the right-hand side of the plane with a stunning view of the Acropolis. Always sitting by the window, Haakon woke from his reveries and looked out. There it was, right below him. One of the most revered ancient building sites, sitting atop a hill overlooking downtown Athens. The city itself was amazing to look at with endless gray and whitewashed buildings, tightly packed and filling up almost all empty space on the ground in between the many hills surrounding Athens. And right in the middle was the temple complex of the Acropolis. It was a beautiful sight. Haakon could barely wait to climb the hill and look at the site up close. 

Ten minutes later, the plane landed safely with the Aegean Sea to the left and the city outskirts to the right. Haakon was to meet Charles at the hotel in Athens later in the afternoon, because he was still on his way in from Paris. After picking up his luggage, Haakon took a taxi to the Hilton, where they were going to stay while in Athens. The journey took about half an hour in the dense city traffic. It was an unusually clear day in a city often plagued by heavy smog, due to being tucked in between the surrounding hills. Haakon presumed that it must’ve just rained, because the air had a fresh, clear and humid smell to it. Or maybe it was because it was winter. He wasn’t sure. One thing he knew for certain: he did love his room. From the balcony, he enjoyed an unobstructed view of the Acropolis. He was about two miles away, and it was stunning. Haakon decided to take the opportunity to walk there right away, not knowing if Charles would want to climb the hill. If he did, he’d get to see it again. If not, at least he’d been there. 

On his way to the Acropolis, Haakon walked by the site of the first Olympic Games in modern time, the Panathenaic Stadium, built completely from white marble. He could almost imagine how it must have looked, which isn’t very surprising, since it had been built on the remains of an ancient site.”




The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is discounted to $5.99 right now, so grab a copy. The novel will not disappoint!


Author Hans M. Hirschi

Hans M Hirschi (b. 1967) has been writing stories ever since he was a child. Adulthood and the demands of corporate life efficiently put an end to his fictional writing for over twenty years.
A global executive in training and channel development, Hans has traveled the world and had previously published non-fictional titles.
The birth of his son and the subsequent parental leave provided him with the opportunity to unleash his creative writing once again. With little influence over his brain’s creative workings, he indulges it, going with the flow.
A deeply rooted passion for, faith in a better world, in love, tolerance and diversity are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. His novels might best be described as “literary romance, engaging characters and relevant stories that won’t leave you untouched, but hopeful.”
Hans is a proud member of the Swedish Writers’ Union, the Writers’ Center in Sweden and serves as chair of the Swedish Federation of Self- & Independent Publishers.



Good luck and happy reading and winning!

Tour Hosted by...


Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day: Then and Now

Today marks a dark period in our fight for equality. It also commemorates the point when a new generation of activists emerged in the US, born of sorrow and indignation. 

The 1980s was the first time I'd witnessed firsthand such a coldhearted response to people in obvious trouble. Government and health officials refused to acknowledge a terrifying and deadly disease simply because most sufferers were gay. Within the first year over 100 men had died and they claimed the mystery disease wasn't a problem. Years later, religious conservatives clung to the same attitude. Death of thousands was the will of a vengeful deity who was purging the country of gays. There was nothing to be concerned about. If you were sick it was because you deserved to die.

I called bullshit on the concept, as did most with a conscience. Christianity speaks of helping the poor and ministering to the sick. Who is more in need of help than a guy living on public assistance because he's too ill to work? Who needs comfort more than someone lying alone in a hospital full of other sick men because all of his friends are already dead and his family doesn't care whether he survives? It was just a convenient excuse for hatred. Where that is concerned, not much has changed.

Photo by Victoria Pickering
AIDS quilt on display in Washington, DC. When shown in its entirety, it covers 16 acres and displays panels in honor of over 43,000 people - less than 20% of the lives lost. 

Watching sons come out to their parents from their hospital bed and schools expelling kids because they were HIV+ was heartbreaking. Fear was the overriding emotion even in those who weren't ignorant boneheads. No one knew what caused AIDS. No one understood how it spread. Could you get it from a kiss? From a sneeze? From a hug? There was no effective treatment and people were in a panic that went far beyond the mayhem of the recent avian flu. Even a whisper that someone was sick meant instant isolation by people they considered friends, immediate termination from their job, expulsion from school, and banning from the local grocery store. Existing organizations designed to help invalids, refused to go anywhere near people with AIDS. They were isolated to certain clinics, certain hospital wings, certain transportation companies. 

It was also an inspiring demonstration of the strength of the human spirit and a community taking care of its own. New organizations sprang up to deal specifically with those shunned by the rest of society. The sick helped the sicker, families and friends who had already lost loved ones adopted those who had no one, strangers became treasured companions. 

While the White House ignored pleas for help and pharmaceutical companies refused to pool resources to find a cure (they didn't want to have to share the patent), those in the trenches created their own social services and passed along information to help ease some of the symptoms. It's true that it had been a long time since the human race had seen a disease that spread that fast and killed that quickly, but I don't consider that a valid excuse. 

Graphic by AJC1

The name given to the virus in the early days said it immune deficiency. It established the attitude that still clings to AIDS and HIV today. It's a gay disease, a gay problem, a gay issue. AIDS showed us that inequality can be deadly, not in someone else's neighborhood with a random gay bashing but in our own community in a wave of death that turns bustling apartment complexes to empty slums.

This is why Pride celebrations matter, with the loud music and naked guys dancing on parade floats. We're not fighting for their right to be nude. We're fighting for their right to be.

Get your copy of the Saving Liam Series today!
Available at all major ebook retailers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Planning Ahead - LGBT Blog Hop!

I'd like to interrupt your holiday shopping chaos for a brief moment to present an easy marketing opportunity for those on a tight budget. It's still a couple of months away, but it never hurts to plan ahead. 

I'm organizing an LGBT Valentine's Day blog hop and this is your chance to sign up! All you need to do at this point is mark your calendar and subscribe to the email list. I'll contact everyone with a reminder in January.

Design by Lynley Wayne

Here's the plan. If you are LGBTQIA, write about characters that are, or just consider yourself an ally you're welcome to participate. Blog posts can promote an already released book, discuss a relevant LGBT topic, or announce an upcoming release. The only rule is it needs to involve LGBT characters and be something appropriate for the Valentine's Day theme...happy ending or not.

We're also doing a giveaway because you can't have a blog hop without presents. We'll be offering a free Kindle loaded with ebooks. You can sign up to help purchase the Kindle (basic model, $79 plus shipping), offer a free ebook, or do both. I'll be able to give you an estimate on the amount each person will need to chip in for the Kindle as the date gets closer, but I don't imagine it will be more than about $5 (USD). 

The blog hop will last a full week (Monday to Monday) so there is plenty of room for everyone and ample time for readers to hit each site. Sign up and feel free to spread the word! I now return you to your Black Friday recovery.

Design by Lynley Wayne

Catch up with the Saving Liam Series!
On sale at all major ebook retailers

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cover Reveal - Bare Threads, Saving Liam Book 4

Yes, Justin has a face! 

Those of you familiar with the Saving Liam series have probably noticed Liam is a bit of a cover hog. Well, that ends with book four. 

What? You didn't think a tease like Liam would let you see it all at once, did you? Stay tuned!

Check Out the Black Friday Sale!
Every book in the Saving Liam series is 25% off at All Romance
November 24 - 29

Friday, November 21, 2014

Work Smarter - It's 4:00. Do you know where your Twitter followers are?

Most of you already know how vital Twitter is to a good author platform. Some people post a few tweets a day when they have time. Some five or six times an hour. Some once an hour. How often you post doesn't matter as much as how many of your followers read those posts. 

Because it's an international site, figuring out when your followers are around is often a guessing game. Do you know where a majority of your followers live? Do you know which days and what time of day they are paying attention? With information pouring through Twitter like water through a fire hose it's easy for your tweets to get buried in the deluge. You can't tweet something and expect it to be visible to people an hour later, let alone twelve hours. If your followers follow hundreds or even thousands of other people they'll never see you unless they purposely look for you and if you guess incorrectly, you're wasting a lot of time tweeting things nobody sees.

Photo courtesy of Ian Sane

In order to be effective you need to stop guessing when your followers are online so you can focus your energy in the right direction at the right time. To do that, I use a website for Twitter business called SocialBro. It can do an array of things, most of which I don't use yet. The free account is pretty basic, but it works well enough to track all of my followers and tell me quite a bit about them, including what days of the week and hours of the day most of them are actually on Twitter. On the slow days and off hours I can focus my energy on other websites rather than tweeting to an empty room. Why waste the energy...or the tweets.

By working smarter, I save a couple of hours a week in marketing time without negatively impacting my presence on the site because I can tweet less yet reach more followers. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. 

Available at all major ebook retailers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LGBT Activists, ISIS Radicals, and an Angry Televangelist #LGBT

I saw an article yesterday about a statement Donnie Swaggart made comparing LGBT rights activists to ISIS radicals. Those of you alive in the 1980s probably recognize that name from the role his father played in the meltdown that nearly destroyed televangelism in the U.S. Such a comparison is why the evangelical community is so well known for melodrama! Because they also understand the blow back caused by unnecessarily inflammatory statements, the ministry that owns the video has since taken it down. 

I'm not going to argue how far out of line Mr. Swaggart's statement is. It's based on his personal experience and I haven't been in his shoes so, I can't say whether he's being a drama queen or reacting with understandable anger to some harsh bit of vitriol thrown in his face. From what I've heard, the fight is a little intense in Texas right now on both sides.

Photo courtesy of Rob Chandanais

What I can say is his statement proves my point about those screaming the loudest representing the fewest. I know a couple of people in the LGBTQIA community who have become militant and harsh. They attack like constipated weasels over the slightest thing and, in my opinion, serve little purpose in the fight. They spend as much time arguing with fellow activists as they do those on the other side of the battle, alienating everyone they meet. 

Thankfully, they are the minority just as Mr. Swaggart's comparison probably resonates with very few on his side. Most of us are reasonable a good deal of the time. We haven't seen these tremendous strides in rights and recognition over the last several years because of threats and violence. We got this far by working within the system to change the law...or in many cases, create a law. Stonewall served its purpose back in the day, but we don't have to work nearly that hard to make our voices heard anymore. A rumored report of a gay bashing makes international news before the story is confirmed anywhere other than Facebook. (To the transgender community: don't worry. We'll get you there!)

Most activists don't fit Swaggart's description just like most Christians don't fit the description offered by the lunatic LGBT militants who email death threats to conservatives. A majority of us are average people working on both sides to undo hundreds of years of ignorance and figure out where dearly held religious beliefs fit in the new puzzle. Those who choose to slap each other around using increasingly vicious and slanderous statements are welcome to duke it out in the corner while the rest of us keep working.

Get your copy today!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Work Smarter - Where Are You? #writing #marketing

If you're like me, you have accounts on a gaggle of social sites. Most authors accumulate friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and circles on Google +. We spend hours setting up profiles to make those pages look professional, right? So why are you keeping them a secret?

Picture by Beatnik Photos

I share a lot of stories and blog posts from other people's sites and I can't tell you how much time I waste trying to find their Twitter or Facebook links so I can share them along with the story. If you have a blog (and you should) look at your last post. How hard do readers have to search to find a link to your profile on other sites? If they found your post by accident could they find you in other places on purpose? If not, you're missing chances to connect to readers.

Don't play hide and seek with sales opportunities. Make the buttons to your social sites obvious enough that a reader scanning the page two minutes before bed can find it despite the kids screaming and dogs barking in the background. One click is the difference between them connecting with you again later and them closing the browser window and forgetting they ever saw your name.

If there is no place on your blog to add such a thing, make it a habit to manually include the links at the bottom of each post. 

Catch up with the Saving Liam series today!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Dreaded "S" Word. #LGBTKids

It's November. If you live in the northern hemisphere that means winter and where there is winter, there's frosty cold white stuff. Snow has already coated parts of the east coast. The snowboarders are happy. The rest of us...not so much.

Photo by chuddlesworth 

Consider this a gentle reminder. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are rushing toward us like Olympians hurtling down a luge track. While you're picking out presents and burrowing through sale racks, keep in mind that thousands of unwanted kids will spend every snow-filled night from now until spring on the street on the wrong side of the double-pane window. 

We've been over this before. Most shelters are about as LGBT friendly as the parents who tossed them out on the street in the first place. There is no guarantee these kids will find a warm bed. Pick up an extra pair of gloves, a ski cap, some hand warmers, thermal underwear, even a package of lip balm will help. Find the organization that caters to homeless kids in your city and send them a care package. If you shudder at the thought of braving the post office, look the charity up online and see if they have an Amazon wish list. Most do these days and Amazon will do the packing and shipping for you.

These are our kids freezing this winter, the latest generation of our rainbow community. Let them know somebody cares.

Catch up with the Saving Liam series today!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Work Smarter - Amazon Author Pages #marketing #tips #writing

In my last post I talked about the growing competition for visibility on the bookshelves. The perfect example of a publishing tidal wave is due to hit in less than two months. Nearly every author is poised for a release on December 26th to take advantage of all the ereaders and gift cards given as presents. 

The statistics say that on average, a new book is published on Amazon every five minutes. Imagine how big that number will get when publishers and authors alike are all targeting the same day. It will be the online equivalent of Black Friday at the malls in the States: all chaos and sensory overload. 

Photo by Alexander Kesselaar

How do you direct readers to your book in that kind of traffic? By setting the right platform now. I'm not talking about adding yet another task to your daily checklist. I know there are only so many hours an author can devote to marketing without choking off the reason they're marketing in the first place. That's why you have to work smarter. 

For example, how many of you have an Amazon author page on Author Central? If you have a book on Amazon you'd better have your hand up. An author page makes you look like you know what you're doing even if you don't. Perception is reality, right? As long as you appear to have your act together the readers will never know the difference. So, if you don't already have an Author Central page, get one!

For those who already have one, how many of you know that an author page on is only visible to US readers? There are four separate Author Central websites and they are blind to one another. Ideally, you should have four pages: Author Central UK, Author Central DE (Germany), Author Central FR (France), and Author Central US. 

Once you get the first one done the rest are easy. Just copy and paste what you have on Author Central US to the other pages and then re-link your books. A few minutes of your time and you suddenly have a greater professional presence than you had when you woke up this morning.

Stay tuned for more Work Smarter tips!

Available now at all major ebook retailers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

There is no excuse. #writing #marketing

I know you've heard the book marketing promises about "fool proof" plans and "guaranteed" techniques for selling thousands of copies. The ones where you publish on Friday and are rolling in cash by Sunday night. It's a nice idea, but let's be real. Writing isn't a 'get rich quick' scheme. For most of us it's a constantly shifting system that generates a decent return only after years of effort. Of course, it's much harder to sell a marketing book with that for a title.  

I've tried a few of the guaranteed methods and talked to authors who have tried others. After more than a year of discussions and presentations and pod casts I've reached a conclusion. There is indeed a guaranteed method for marketing success and it's very simple. 

You have to put in the time. 

I don't know many authors who enjoy it, but I do know that no excuse will change the rules. Complaints about limited time and limited funds won't miraculously produce shortcuts. You either do it, pay someone to do it for you, or your sales will suffer. It really is that simple. 

I read an article recently that said 78% of books fail to sell more than 100 copies during the life of the book. I can believe that. There are a lot of authors out there and the competition gets more intense every year. Traditional publishing houses used to be the gatekeepers. Books didn't hit the market without someone's stamp of approval thus limiting the number of titles. As indie publishing gains popularity, the number of books pouring onto Amazon increases and we all face the daunting task of making our offering visible in the deluge. That will take more than a snappy title and a professional cover. It takes an organized business plan and at least a rudimentary knowledge of marketing techniques.

It's a depressing truth that we have to sacrifice writing time to market what we've written, but it's a fact authors can't afford to ignore. Writing the book isn't enough. We also have to sell it. I guess that's the downside of the Indie Era. It's easier to get your book on the shelf and harder to get people to realize it's there. As the competition increases, success will go to authors who really do see their writing career as a business and their book as a product.

You have your writing life nailed down but what about your business plan? Have you plotted your two-, five-, and ten-year goals or are you leaving your success to chance and hoping for the best?

Catch up with the Saving Liam series! Available now.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Who else has an out of control TBR pile? #reading #writing

I just added the 39th book to my TBR pile. Thankfully, most of the pile is ebooks otherwise I'd need an entire bookshelf to hold all the stuff I haven't read yet! The great part is I finished reading one yesterday so, I get to dig into the pile and pick a new adventure. The bad part is I can only choose one.

Photo by See-ming Lee

How about you guys? Do you have an out of control TBR pile, too? Do you read them in the same order you purchased them or do you pick the one that appeals to you most at the moment?

$0.99 sale ends today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why the new Matthew Shepard story doesn't change a thing. #lgbt #book

Last year I heard the first irate hisses and scathing rants about The Book of Matt and its attempt to re-frame the picture of one of the gay community's most beloved and enduring icons. Stephen Jimenez picked an ambitious project when he decided to trample over sacred ground to publish a less angelic image of Matthew Shepard. The release of the paperback version has reignited the torches of the angry mob that rejects every page of the manuscript, starting with the book jacket.

The book is toward the bottom of my TBR pile, not because I'm leery of reading it but because when I get to the last page I don't expect it to change my perspective. Matthew died in a cruel and sadistic manner at the hands of monsters posing as human beings. Whether because of his sexuality or drugs, no explanation can defend what they did. They beat him unconscious and left him to die, hanging on a fence like an errant piece of trash blown there by the wind. Regardless of the motivation, they belong in their cages.

Courtesy of Pixabay

It's easy to see how that single scene painted Matthew as an innocent boy. Friends and family, who may not have known the college version of him as well as they thought, eagerly supported the image, as did Matthew's face. He looks sweet and innocent. Early claims that his sexuality motivated the crime (later retracted) only added to the scene's devastation.

The book tells a very different tale of a drug-dealing reckless kid whose perfect life was circling the toilet bowl.  Meth, HIV, and prostitution don't fit the angelic portrait of the boy who has been a rallying cry for almost twenty years. It's also not a new concept. People have hotly debated the motivation for the crime since the day it happened. Matthew's involvement with drugs is not new information. He wasn't an angel and he wasn't naive and innocent. That doesn't make him any less a victim. The violence of the crime deserved a harsher sentence than what Wyoming law could provide and that's the whole point of his parents' continuing fight. Had his sexual orientation been a major factor, the result would have been the same. LGBT people, notorious targets for such abuse, had no minority hate-crime protection under the law. His parents set out to change that and they have...though not in Wyoming. 

Does this renewed image of an out of control college student provide a more accurate view of Matthew Shepard? Perhaps, but it doesn't make him a less fitting representation of a problem that needs a solution. If anything, it makes him more of one. How many kids in our rainbow community are involved with drugs and reckless sexual behavior? How many do we lose each year to that existence? If nothing else, he remains a cautionary tale. If it can happen to the Shepard family, it can happen to someone else's. 

Regardless of what is printed in that book, I don't expect the LGBT community's image of Matthew as an innocent young kid to change. That's the thing about icons. Reality isn't relevant. Only perception matters. He's become a magnet, a rallying point for those who have a limited tolerance for the gay community. Rough and gritty is a far more fitting image, but an abused angel is easier for many to accept and has been instrumental in successfully lobbying for change when it comes to LGBT hate crime legislation, whether that was the central motive in his attack or not. Stories of addiction and random hookups couldn't have done what the original story of Matthew has. For that reason alone, the current version of his biography has merit whether wholly accurate or not. I don't expect Stephen Jimenez's rehashing of a sixteen-year-old debate to have much impact.

October sale!
$0.99 through 10/31
Get your copy today!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lessons from Emerald City Writers Conference #writing

Another conference in the bag! 

I have a different focus for each writers conference and this year's ECWC was dedicated to learning as much as I could about marketing and author platforms. I have a notebook of things to turn into an actionable plan. It should keep me busy for weeks!

As usual, one of the biggest payoffs came from a random conversation in the hall with a stranger. Those moments are why I pay to attend a weekend of workshops I could find online for much less. Sometimes, networking is worth the hundreds (thousands?) of dollars spent to participate in an event that doesn't always pay off in book sales.

I also learned a couple of things that weren't on my list. That's nothing new, either. 

1. A knowledgeable author isn't necessarily an expert. Yes, they sound convincing, their presentation is well thought out, and it all seems like a great idea because the method obviously works for them. That doesn't mean it's the only way to do things. Consider their suggestions, but take the time to get other opinions before rearranging your writing life or author platform. Some of what they're telling you may be personal preference rather than necessary steps for success and it's likely you'll run into contradictory advice. 

For example, one presenter told me to drop my blog host and move everything to another one because Blogger will work against me when trying to increase my exposure. A day later, a different presenter told me the opposite. Blogger is Google and Google rules online searches so, if you're not on Blogger you need to be. See what I mean?

2. Attitude is everything. It might not be the best idea to spend the day in craft workshops if you're already in the dumps about your writing. Listening to successful authors tell you everything you did wrong in your last book isn't going to be a morale boost. If your head isn't in the right place it could do you more harm than good.

3. Homophobia happens. Yes, even in Seattle there are writers groups that determinedly, consistently, and unashamedly discriminate against LGBT genres and the authors who write them. It happens. 

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from (or about) conferences this year?

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