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
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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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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Authors Still Behaving Badly #writing

You've all heard the story of the author bragging about stalking a reviewer online, right? Most of you have also heard the one about the reviewer being physically attacked by another equally unstable author. If you haven't heard that story from the victim's point of view, you can read it here:

Click here for story

I only have two comments.

For the reviewers -  please don't let the actions of two obviously disturbed nutcases keep you from being honest in your posts. You should be able to say what you think. It's a free some places...occasionally. Just remember, it's easy to stalk people online and it costs very little to purchase a background check if you're able to accumulate enough random information. I've seen people do it. $20 and a stranger you've never met will know every address and employer you've ever had. A blog under an alias is a great idea. You don't have to be silent, just be smart.

For the authors -  I don't think I need to tell you that if you're serious about this career, you'd better learn to handle yourself better than these nitwits. You will get slammed. Criticism is as much a part of publishing as signing autographs. The higher you rise in the rankings, the bigger audience those negative reviews will have and the more of them you will get. There is no such thing as an author who only gets positive reviews. It simply doesn't happen. If you can't take negative (and sometimes brutal) comments about your writing, you're in the wrong business because you will never reach a point in your career where those cease to happen. Never. 

I'd love to hear from you guys. What's your advice for dealing with bad reviews, crazy authors, or troll bloggers?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Publishing: Why do we do this, again? #writing

Do you ever have those days when you wonder what possessed you to think publishing was a good idea? 

"Write a book," they said. 
“It'll be great!" they said. 
"You'll be rich and famous," they said.

They lied.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Like every struggling author, I ask myself that question...a lot. Every new release digs it out of its shallow grave and drops it back on my desk, worn and filthy. I know why I write, but that's not the question. Many writers never publish and for a long time I was one of them. I wrote for my own enjoyment and that of the few people who read my stories.

Publishing is a completely different creature that coats a pleasurable hobby in a fetid, viscous slime of drama, frustration, and crushing criticism. It takes the triumph of accomplishment in each finished book and grinds it under grubby feet, gouging it with wicked claws. 

Courtesy of Pixabay

It's shrouded in a mist of fantasy and romantic notions about being left alone in your tower to write, a check floating through the window on a gentle breeze to reward you. Well, princess, there is no tower and the breeze floating through the window carries nothing but the stench of a nearby wallow. 

If the days of being a successful and isolated recluse of an author ever really existed, they are long gone now. Like it or not, being an author demands regular interaction with people you might prefer to banish to the dungeon. At least, it does if you want your book to sell. It's not publish or perish anymore. It's market or perish...though that doesn't quite have the same ring. Like it or not, you have to face the masses and some in that crowd consider it their job to be harsh.

Many authors cling to hope that the next book will be the "breakout" novel and that dream keeps them chasing the dangling carrot, but what happens when that promise falls flat? What do you do when the "guaranteed" marketing techniques fail? What happens when you wake up already in the dumps to an email about a new review detailing how much the blogger loathed the story, berating you for your 'obvious' lack of talent? What happens when you reach that moment of staring at your computer, wondering why you ever thought you wanted to be published in the first place? The pay stinks. The hours are long. The stress is crushing. The reviews are depressing.

We've all been there. I land in that dungeon on a regular basis, when reality breaks another chunk off the lifelong dream of what I thought it would be like sitting in this chair, creating these stories. Reality is nothing like the dream because if I'd dreamed this, I never would have picked up that pen the first time I decided to mimic the illustrated books in the library. I would have skipped the craft courses and stopped challenging myself. I would have stuck with reading, in awe of the people willing to put up with this insanity.

Hitting the low spots, with your dreams under the grimy foot of the beast, is as much a part of publishing as the royalty checks. I don't know about you, but that understanding is part of what keeps me going. It's not just me feeling like I'm wasting time and money on a delusion. It's not just you feeling alone and doubting your talent. We all end up in this place regardless of the genre, when the dream flickers, throwing shadows around your tower, turning it to a dungeon, and tracking the icy feet of a cold wind along your skin. 

You could let the feeling push you into giving up. It has others. People drop out of publishing all the time. There's no shame in admitting you're not getting what you want out of a situation that pays far more in bragging rights than royalties. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is get up from the chair and walk away. If you're at that point, it's okay to admit it, own it, act on it. 

What if you're not? What if you're just frustrated, tired, and discouraged? Maybe what you need is a warm mocha or a hot cup of tea, a little time away from the publishing beast, and a different perspective. That's why having critique partners and a friend or two in the business is so valuable. They know how it feels and maybe they can see the potential you're blind to because the beast stomped on your rose-colored glasses. 

Maybe you need more than a day. Maybe you need to take the winter off and remember what it was like to tell stories for the pure joy of telling stories. Go out and live your life for a while. Take up tai chi. Go to a shooting range and take your frustrations out on a paper target (and count it as weapons research). Do something empowering and fulfilling, and when you’re finished, the horrid fetid beast might have shrunk back to a grubby little gargoyle, sitting quietly in the corner once again minding its own business.

Courtesy of Pixabay

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NAKED TRUTH is here! #GayFiction #Romance #SavingLiamSeries

Introducing book three of the Saving Liam Series!

Naked Truth is here!

Buried lies never die.

Liam has a new career, a new condo, a newfound sense of control and none of it is quite right. Shadows drift behind the bright sparkle of his life; things he's determined to ignore until a shocking revelation makes it impossible. With the help of Justin and a new friend, Liam must face the life he's buried. 


Liam plodded up the stairs at the club. He trudged into the combined locker room and employee lounge to eat his lunch in a space that smelled of sweat, feet, and five kinds of body spray. Like everyone else, he spent at least half his break downstairs where the customers could paw him, tip him, and maybe ask him for a private dance. It paid better than sitting on his ass.

He opened his locker, grabbed his sandwich and a clean pair of socks, and collapsed into one of the folding metal chairs. He sat for a moment enjoying the feel of the cold frame against his skin. Alex was in a chair at the other side of the room playing on his phone. He’d almost forgotten about the promise to discuss his mystery topic yesterday. Their lunch breaks hadn’t lined up right and he’d only seen Alex long enough to pass him on the stairs.

“How’s it going tonight?” Alex got up and moved to a closer chair.

“About average.” Liam took off his shoe and peeled off the sweaty sock. Several folded bills plopped to the floor and he picked them up. "How about you?" He asked as he carried them to his locker to stuff them in his gym bag.

“Same. You think they’ll be safe in there?” Alex jerked his chin toward the locker.

“As long as I remember to lock it. Why? Where do you keep yours?”

“In my jock.” 

“All night?”

“Yeah. Before we start each set I wrap a new layer around my dick.”

Liam clunked back to his chair with one shoe off and one shoe on. “Why the hell do you do that?”

“Because I like my Johnson to smell like cash.” Alex shrugged, followed by a grin. “I’m kidding. I wrap them around my dick because nobody’s going to steal it that way and it gives me a little something extra to shake at the ladies if you get my drift.”

“Until you end up with a paper cut.”

“Hasn’t happened yet.”

An unidentified pickpocket had taught them all a lesson a few months ago about not keeping bills in their pockets.

Alex sat back in the chair. “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Okay.” Liam tugged on a clean sock. 

“Some of the guys say you have a brother in porn.”

It was funny how fast a person could go from perfectly calm to freaking out. Actually, it wasn't funny at all. He tried to hold onto his calm facade as his heart sprinted a fifty-yard dash in his chest and his stomach squeezed into a knot. That topic had emerged months ago and he’d silenced it with a lie. A lie that Angel's life was someone else's nightmare, someone who looked remarkably like him, someone he admitted he knew, but that was close as he could come to telling the truth.

Get your copy at Amazon or All Romance Ebooks.

New to the series? Then you're in luck! Book one is on sale for $0.99 all month. 

Get your copy now!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Guest Blog - FACING DEMONS by @LynleyWayne

Book three of the Scars Series by the amazing Lynley Wayne is here!


At the age of fifteen, Seth Dempsey gave his heart to Cameron Reyes. Three years later, Cam shattered it when he walked away. When Cam blows back into Seth’s life years later, Seth knows he will do whatever it takes to ensure Cam doesn’t slip away again. Even if it means going up against a corrupt DEA agent and a drug cartel. 

Cameron Reyes was born on the wrong side of the tracks. He fell in love with Seth, but knew the only way to keep him safe was to leave, no matter how much it hurt. Eleven years later, when his life implodes, he knows the only person he can trust is the boy whose heart he broke all those years ago. 

While they fight to stay one step ahead of everyone and clear Cam’s name, can they learn to work together in order to face down the demons of the past and find the happily ever after they have dreamed of?


     “So, it’s Mr. Dempsey, now.”
     Seth jumped at the voice next to him. His eyes shot open and he turned in his seat, ready to defend himself.
     And froze.
     “It can’t be.” He didn’t realize he had spoken the words out loud until that same voice responded.
     “It is.” There was a pause. “How you been, Seth?”
     His initial reaction was to grab him and hug him and never let him go. Then the pain, the anger, the betrayal, pushed through the shock and he did what he should have done all those years ago. He pulled back his fist and punched Cameron Reyes right in the mouth.
     Then he stood, looming over him. “You son of a bitch.”
     Cam shook his head and worked his jaw side to side. “I deserved that,” he said in his matter of fact way.
     “You’re damn right you did.” Seth moved away, only to come back two steps later. “You deserve a hell of a lot more than that.”
     “You gonna hit me again?” It pissed Seth off even more because Cam didn’t seem to care about his answer one way or another.
     “I might,” Seth growled, before taking a seat on the couch opposite of where Cam sat.
     The years had been good to Cam and Seth hated himself for noticing. The roundness his face had had at eighteen was gone. In its place were all hard lines and sharp angles. The black T-shirt he was wearing stretched tight over his arms and chest, showing more definition than he used to have.
     “What are you doing here, Cam? And how in the hell did you get on my plane?”
     The sight of the little half smirk, half smile of Cam’s caused a pain he hadn’t expected. It was as if someone had ripped open a wound that had never fully healed.
     “It’s good to see you, Seth.” He glanced around the plane. “You’ve done well for yourself. I always knew you would.”
     Gritting his teeth, Seth narrowed his eyes. “Answer the question, Cameron.”
     Cam’s brow quirked at the use of his full name. “Which one?”
     “What are you doing here?”
     Turning away, Cam stared out the window. “I had nowhere else to go.”
     “So you… what? Decide after eleven years, hey, I know, why don’t I go track down my high school boyfriend, the guy whose heart I ripped out and then stomped on? I bet he would love to help me.”
     “Not exactly.”
     Seth ran his hand over his shaved head, doing his best not to lose his temper. “Then what, exactly?”
     When Cam turned and zeroed in on him with those chocolate brown eyes of his, Seth felt his next cheap shot stick in his throat. Never, in all the years he had known Cam, had Seth ever seen him look so…lost.
     “I know you have a million questions and I know you’re angry and I’m probably the absolute last person you ever wanted to see again, but I need you to do something first.”
     Resigned, Seth leaned back with a sigh. “What?”
     “Tell your pilot to change course. We can’t go to Indiana.”
     He sat up. “How the hell do you know that’s where I’m headed?”
     “I’ll add it to the list of things I need to explain. Right now, I need you to do this. It’s a matter of life or death.” He paused. “My life or death.”

Get your copy today!
MLR Press

Author Bio:

Lynley Wayne is the pen name of a thirty-something female living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When not writing, she can usually be found reading and thinking up creative ways to avoid housework. She is married to a very understanding man who doesn’t complain when she spends hours in front of the computer, or talks for hours about whatever story she’s working on, or asks random off the wall questions. He also keeps her fed on those occasions when her muse has taken over and she loses days at a time. Yeah, basically he’s vying for sainthood.

Lynley strongly believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness, no matter how it may differ from the norm. She writes characters she wants to read and hopes others like reading about them as much as she enjoyed writing them.

It is her hope that one day society will be able to look past the labels and see the person behind them. That they will realize we are all the same. Until that time comes, she will continue telling stories of a love others may believe is wrong, but she thinks is nothing short of beautiful.

Catch up with Lynley here:

Twitter: @LynleyWayne

Catch up with the Facing Demons tour here:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Saving Liam Sale and Street Team #SavingLiamSeries #GayRomance

I have two big announcements this week.

The first is that I'm forming a street team and you can be a part of it! It's a chance to do what you're probably doing about books! Specifically, my books. Tell your friends. Tell your Yahoo group. Chat it up on your blogs, on Facebook, Twitter, wherever your favorite social network lives.

Why should you sign up to do what you're already doing? So I can thank you properly! You guys are the reason the Saving Liam series has done so well and you're the reason my monthly donations to Trevor Project keep climbing. Every book sold helps save a life...and that's not being overly dramatic. Trevor isn't an LGBTQIA support group for teens. It's a suicide incredibly busy one and every one of those calls are answered because Trevor has the funding to keep the lines and private chat rooms open. We're helping them do that and I can't thank you enough.

As a street team member you officially agree to keep doing what you're doing and chat up the books to everyone, as well as leave reviews on bookseller or reader websites. In exchange, you get things like free books, gift cards, and an occasional bit of swag! It's that simple. International readers are welcome to join.

Sign up here and join the street team!

The second announcement will help you street teamers get started. To celebrate the upcoming release of the third book - NAKED TRUTH - I'm putting book one of the series on sale for the entire month of October! Starting today, Saving Liam is available for only $0.99. Tell your friends to get their copies before the sale ends!