Don’t you worry, we know exactly why m/m romance don’t listen to us.

 

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So, I guess riptide – who got its chops busted for some pretty racist shit including having a website dedicated to a series of books where slaves are bought and sold – is nominated for the bisexual book awards.
Furthermore, another nominee wrote a blog about why Cisgendered men aren’t listened to by those who write m/m.

Look, you can talk all the shit you want. You can get mad when gay people voice their opinions about the books you write. You can run gay men through the mud and talk mad shit about us on a blog that you later on delete but here’s the thing.

You ready for it?

If you have to defend yourself that hard for the stuff that you write – if you have to come out swinging on blog posts and come at gay people (or people at all like that) then you know your shit is busted.

You’re not getting mad because gay men are trying to correct you – you’re painting a picture of gay men being bad because their complaints could potentially affect your bottom line.

You found a cash cow and you’re making money off of it.

It isn’t about you loving romance and finding sex hot – we know Y’all are some freakneaks. Welcome to Club ‘Mo. We don’t have a beef with that. Do your thing.

((And this isn’t really addressed to most writers. It’s addressed to the few and they know who they are.))

It’s about potentially losing some money because the shit you are writing isn’t really reflective of the lives gay men lead or the sex that they have. Sometimes, like Riptide, you get really offensive and downright derogatory but it sells. It sells well. And the worse it is, the better off you are.

You’re being oppressed.

That’s true.

But in this position, you’re sort of like the bakers who were sued by the lesbian couple and raised a bunch of money from your friends because a judge ordered you to pay restitution for discrimination.

That judge oppressed them, in a manner of speaking, by refusing to let them off the hook for being a bigot.

And that’s what you are – a bigot.

But the worst kind of bigot. A bigot that doesn’t like other bigots.

You released something sketchy, a gay person said something negative about it. You write a blog about how evil they are and that’s a marketing strategy. Sales go up. You win. The gay person is shut down.

If they’re a fellow writer – then they’re ostracized.

But that’s a hollow win, isn’t it? Don’t you feel empty at the end of the day knowing that you’ve done damage to someone?

If cisgendered gay men were all that bad – you wouldn’t be writing about them.

But there is money in them thar hills!

Gay men are oppressed to the extreme – but because they have a penis, and are male, they’re caught up in a negative feedback loop.

There really isn’t any remedy for them. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. One part of society doesn’t want them because of their sexuality and the other side dismisses them because they’re men.

There’s zero maneuvering room but to remain quiet and submissive less they received backlash for speaking up…ohmygod does that sound familiar or what?

We can’t sue you for being a shitty writer. We can’t sue you for ranty blogs, racist ass bullshit about people of color, bi-erasure,  or posts about how gay men should shut up (good luck with that). But we can say without reproach that the books you write aren’t gay at all.

And you are no ally.

You’re essentially exploiting a diamond mine with forced labor from the locals who weren’t strong enough to resist you taking their resources.

Congrats.

You’re the oppressor and this is exploitation.

And instead of stealing resources you’ve stolen someone’s dignity.

Human nature and capitalism for the win.

P.S. This doesn’t mean you win.  It doesn’t matter who began this book genre. Gay lives don’t belong solely to you. Period. That would be called slavery.

Trigger Warnings: Munchausen by Proxy

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I kinda overreacted earlier about a post concerning trigger warnings. The overreaction wasn’t because I was triggered by the subject matter – but I was made angry at the conversation happening surrounding this new age concept and the added weight placed on authors/ publishers to incorporate these things in our work.
While I think trigger warnings come from a genuinely good place in people – the effects do the exact opposite of what they are intended to do.
They are meant to help.
They do not.
They hurt.
The evidence against trigger warnings is mounting and not from mom’s blog or writers corner blurbs – but from medical and psychological professionals.
The first thing we need to address is the easiest. Regardless of our professional lives as writers – we are not licensed medical or psychological professionals.
Nor are our publishing houses.
It is way out of our lane to diagnose or attempt to treat individuals with long-standing mental illnesses. Nor are we capable of identifying them.
Those that say the require a trigger warning still do not require one.
What they need is a C.B.T Therapist. Someone that can help them get over their fear or phobia and break their maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Again – that’s not our lane.
The second bit concerns censorship.
Trauma does happen often, however, Post Traumatic Stress is a rather rare diagnosis according to one article I read today.
And while triggers can send someone into a tailspin – can even cause a panic attack – no one has ever died of one. Ever. Panic attacks or panic disorder is not fatal.
It sucks – trust me. You think you’re dying. However, you are not.
For a trigger warning to be effective, the warning party would have to list all of the things that could possibly set someone off. In short – you’re rehashing the story all over again so that sort of negates the reason for the trigger warnings to begin with.
Furthermore, it stifles the author’s ability to sell. The book becomes a dirty secret and something that is whispered about instead of openly discussed and debated on the merits – according to another article.
In this political climate – that’s chilling as it’s not only affecting the literary world but college campuses as well.
A good professor doesn’t teach a student what to think, they teach them how to think, and the university is designed specifically to challenge deeply rooted beliefs.
There’s virtue in being made uncomfortable otherwise you’ll never experience another way of seeing things. GEtting mad or upset by reading something or a lecture is good for you.
Then there is the abuse of this new thing. People who don’t like certain subject matter, such as a cheating spouse or an interracial couple – have thrown up trigger warnings in book reviews.
I’ve also seen examples where authors issue one of these warnings because of the subject matter such as PTSD and not actually write about PTSD – their character is just a dickwad who treats people like crap.
Then there are the great false equivalences. Saying things like, “Well if you were just compassionate you would do this.”
That’s terribly unfair and backs a person into a corner of ‘Well, I don’t want to be seen that way so I’ll relent or I’ll defend myself.”
That’s psychological manipulation and it’s really interesting coming from people advocating for people’s mental health.
And today, it worked on me.
I blew up. I vented. I declared that I am an artist and HOW DARE YOU…yada yada yada and I come off sounding like a grouchy asshole.
There’s no defending yourself from things like that. It’s already a broken idea.
Art is an act of compassion not only for the artist but for those who view the art. The idea is to connect people on an emotional and often times visceral way.
There’s a reaction.
A laugh.
A tear.
An outburst.
That’s art’s job.
Art is meant to trigger.
Stifling that, or causing the artist to censor himself or herself is cruel and unimaginable in a free society.
The advocates for trigger warnings either don’t fully understand the power of mental illness or they’ve allowed their worldview to be so romanticized in the idea of professional brokenness – the idea of someone healing and getting better through non-holistic methods is a threat to their bottom line as authors.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy? I can’t help but wonder after that because trigger warnings keep people sick.
I don’t think their work really requires a trigger warning. To be honest, a “No diving/ Shallow water” warning might be more appropriate.

My adventure in self publishing

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Patrick Fore

I just come off of publishing a full length novel, When Heaven Strikes, and there’s so much that goes into self publication I feel like I need to take a moment and address it for those who are considering writing their first book or who may want to break away from traditional publishing.

First, and probably the most expensive part of the whole process is editing. I have run into costs that range from .004 cents per word to .05 cents per word.
If you take a base novel (which is 60,000 words) it looks like this.

.004 * 60,000 = 240 and that’s the lowest I’ve ever seen
.05 * 60,000 = 3,000 and that’s the highest I’ve seen

and that’s per sweep

The more reputable or the more well known the editor is, the higher the cost but the trade off is, the least well known they are they may be cheaper but they may not be as good and that requires additional sweeps.

Factor in cover art which can range from 50 bucks up to 300

Then you have to pay for someone to format the book for you for both the ebook and paperback

Once all of that is complete – then you have promotional stuff like creating a book trailer which can run you 100 bucks or more and a tour service which can run anywhere from 25 bucks to 100 dollars depending on what package or service you use.

You could end up, to produce one book, spending a great deal of your own cash.

And all of this takes time to do. So while you may have down time between purchases, you’re burning hours going through everything.

Now, if you go with a traditional publisher – they absorb that initial cost and all you’re responsible for is working through what the editors send you.

However, especially if you take an advance, you may not see royalties on your book for awhile. When you do, depending on the contract you signed, your royalties will usually be less than half (usually around 35 to 40 percent) of the money earned.

And none of it says that mistakes still won’t be present. You try to minimize that, of course, but shit happens. Stuff slips through and if that’s the case you can have someone go back through it at cost.

The best advice I can give is to establish a budget and while I know its difficult to do that – especially for people who are just starting out or people who don’t have a lot of money – if you have to make a change jar to throw your quarters, nickels, and dimes in – do it. You’re now in business for yourself and if you’re in the self publishing world – you are responsible for everything.

The reader doesn’t get to see any of that. They get the finished product and it’s really strange when I see comments about how they won’t spend more than x amount of money for a book. And especially the whole KU thing where people associate that with Netflix or Prime.

It’s not the same. Actors don’t get paid from that, they get all their money up front before the film is made. So should a movie flop, or should it break box office records, their pay is the same. The set people, the director, the producer, etc. all their money is taken care of by the unions. It’s the studios that make royalties off ticket sales, residuals, netflix, prime, dvd sales, yada yada.

So when I see authors selling their book for less than five bucks on the market it really upsets me. Not just because they’re making it harder to compete with them, but because they’re short changing themselves and everyone else around them.

It becomes that much harder and that much more competitive to produce a book – and the idea of making a living off of being a writer or becoming popular as a writer is becoming more and more difficult. You have to hustle your work every single day and that’s just as difficult. Most of all because it pulls you away from your next project.

All of that sucks. I think the average person would be astounded if they were to actually sit down and do it themselves.

But I think there is a flip side to it, a silver lining, despite genre fiction, ‘the rules’, the lack of a publisher pushing you in one direction, the market forces, goodreads, the critics, all of that liberates the author to write what they want. All of that gets muted. They can cultivate an audience from the very bottom and slowly over time build a readership that is loyal despite what the author writes and is more open to what they have to say. They’re more open to the way the author’s style comes across and becomes familiar with that voice. It allows the author to move around and not get bogged down in having to appeal or wanting to appeal to a certain kind of reader.

And it allows the author, I think, to say things that need to be said in their work, it allows for authenticity, without their work being diluted by the aforementioned.

I think literature right now is going through a golden age and Amazon is on it. They publish something like 3,000 books per day and KU is taking a huge chunk out of author’s profits. And while technology is king, and not content, it won’t stay this way forever. I think if authors sort of banded together, and I think they will eventually, the pendulum will swing back in the other direction. Meanwhile, I think those who love the craft, who absolutely must write, who have a passion for it, will stay and get better at what they do slowly but surely.

 

Author’s Triumph (poem)

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 Joshua Earle

 

 

 

I feel worn out
the words have run dry
disappearing into the air
the finish line behind me
on this mountain I built myself
that once rose out before me

On shaky burning legs
gasping for breath, stitch in my side
I lean over and take in
the ice cold air
somewhere above the clouds
with the sun on my face

The thunder rolls
somewhere beneath me
the rain I’d run through
mixed with my sweat
clinging to my heaving chests
but its silent here

Sixty thousand four hundred
steps I’ve taken
lost my place and slid
on broken pieces of other’s
shattered dreams
I cut my hands
when I skinned my knees
and packed my mouth
with snow

But now, here
atop my mountain
made by me
the sun shines bright
casting my shadow long
behind me
I bask sinking to
my knees
refusing to feel the sting

I’ll float down
it’s always the same
I’ll sink and slide
laughing
down is always easier
than going up
grace, my help, in
the rear-view mirror
and i’ll sleep

then one day
my fingers will itch
and my mind will grow
restless as wanderlust
sets in again
and like some forgotten diety
I’ll summon the rock
from the earth’s deep core
and thrust it twice as high
once again

but for now I’ll stay
in the sunlight above me
surrounded by friends, my husband
my God
casting long shadows back
on the mountain face
clutching the finish line ribbon
as it flutters, broken, in my hand

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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(Photo by Jacob Owens)

I love to write. I love to create. Most of my writing as of lately has ended up here on this blog in the form of poetry.  Sometimes – like today – I’ll write the occasional ‘think piece’ so forgive me for interrupting your evening.

But I wanted to talk about my other writing. Books.  I am a five time published author.

I recently read a thread (I can’t stop rhyming apparently) where a wonderful young woman I know asked about the expenses of writing a novel. And people began to list them. Editors, formatting, proofreading, cover art, website, word processor programs, fees for organizations, travel expenses, and so forth and that was all self published folks.

Those who had gone the traditional route, while not having the cost of editors etc. brought up contractual pay. A certain percentage for physical books and a certain percentage of ebooks is given to the author in the form of royalties and so on.

And then both mentioned piracy. The theft of e books and the sharing of them on Facebook pages and websites as well as on those Piratebay download thingy.

There is one thing that keeps me writing – and it sure isn’t the money.

It’s love.

I love connecting with my readers whether on here or through a book review for my work.

But an author needs to be paid for their time and effort.

There are those out there who insist that work should be free. I have been posting images off a website called Unsplash.com that offers them for free as long as you cite the photographer who took the photo. Their work is stunning and when I finish a poem I go to that site to hunt for a picture that seems to fit or comes close to fitting what I just finished working on. – and then I share that poem for free.

Even this blog costs me money. Now, I’m not saying I want you to start paying me for this – that’s silly. I chose to share my poetry with the world. Mostly, because I want to grow to be a better poet but also because I feel like someone should try and spark or reignite the love for the written word.

However, a friend of mine and fellow author who read the same thread commented with this:

“I’ve spent three years, off and on, working on a sci-fi novel. Of course, most of my novels don’t take that long, but they do take two or three months. Even if I made a few thousand on one of them (which is pretty good in this genre), I shudder to think what that would work out to as an hourly wage. When I worked in Tech Support, I earned that in a month. Authors don’t get paid enough. Certainly, we don’t get paid enough to keep doing it, if they only reason we were writing is for the money. I can’t really fault readers for grabbing whatever is cheapest on Amazon, but don’t blame the authors if we can’t give all of that work away for next to nothing.”

I agree with that. And I don’t see why other people don’t or won’t.

Art has value. Even in this day an age where technology is king and the market is saturated- content SHOULD always be king. Always.

With Huffpost and online publishers offering ‘exposure’ to writers – that’s the same as piracy and it’s in the same vein of those who complain about the cost of a book.

Another commenter and author stated the reasoning for all of this, perfectly:

I’ve often thought the balking over book pricing stems from the fact that, not only are the arts in general devalued as a matter of course, but people tend to think writing is easy. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “Yeah, maybe someday when I have time I’ll write a book,” and I want to say, “Okay, you have fun with that, let me know how far you get.” Because it isn’t easy. People just think it is. Right up until they try it. Just because a labor doesn’t require a lot of *physical* labor does not mean it isn’t difficult and doesn’t take a ton of skill.

A good author will have decades of writing and learning and honing and reading behind every word that makes it onto the page, and people seem to think that just… I dunno, materializes in the writer’s brain or something. That they didn’t have to *work* at it.

The general atmosphere of today doesn’t help much. Bloggers are expected to hand a piece over to a major website for free because they’ll get exposure. Book pirates think their thefts are justified because they think every author makes Stephen King-King-level royalties. A work of art posted on the Internet is up for grabs.

Historically, we (authors) were the bards and the poets who were offered a seat beside the fire, sometimes right next to the king, and a hot meal and some gold coins in exchange for a story, because those stories were valued, and so were the ways in which they were told. I think that skill is taken for granted today, and so the value of a good yarn told by a talented storyteller is just… not quite where it should be anymore.

Love is a powerful emotion. But should things get bad – love does fade. And I am afraid that until we’ve learned to start appreciating art again we’re going to lose artists to the necessity of having to put food on their table.

You don’t work for free. Neither should we.

 

The election (Now what m/m?)

Words fail me to disribe the way I’m feeling right now.

I, like many of you, am completely stunned by this outcome.

So many of us were looking to break another glass ceiling in this country by electing the first woman into the office of President.

But that isn’t going to happen, this time.

America – for better or worse – has spoken.

And while I know many of us are sore, right now. And are going to be sore for the foreseeable future, I believe it is imparative that we recover quickly.

We knew this was a possiblity.

So, now what?

We have a STRONG country and a STRONG system of government.

We have a strong media – which is the fourth estate.

But to all my poets, singers, writers, authors, publishers, movie makers out there. To all those who walk the way of the bard, we have a job too.

The sun will come up tomorrow. The issues we face as LGBT or those in minority classes aren’t going away any time soon.

And now is our time to do what we do best.

Write.

The world has been changed often times with books. With media. With stories of the everyman. Now isn’t the time to retreat.

We’re in the same boat together, now. Our fates are intertwined. We can no longer afford division in our little corner of the literary world.

With that sunrise – for a lot of people – hope is going to be a bit hard to come by. But we can do our damnedest to try and deliver as much hope as possible.

We have a job. A big one.

Just like in any other time of crisis, people are going to be looking for a way out.

We can deliver on that.

Just some thoughts. Authors, lets get to work.

yes