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How do we support the writers we love to read?

January 15, 2017

I’m blogging today on Love Bytes Reviews. The question is, how can we pull together and help our genre’s authors weather the storms of 2016’s closures and changes?

http://lovebytesreviews.com/2017/01/15/how-do-we-support-the-writers-we-love-to-read/

Thanks to readers, in the wake of All Romance Ebooks closing

January 5, 2017

rainbowthankyou I want to say a thank you to my readers. I’ve had several reach out to me, in the week since All Romance Ebooks closed, to tell me that they bought one of my books during October-Dec, when we authors are likely to see between 6% and 0% royalties from those sales. They’re sad that I don’t get their money, and want to help make it up to me somehow. ❤ ❤ ❤

THANK YOU for buying the books. Please do not feel worried or responsible for the loss someone else caused. And for everyone who bought “Rejoice, Dammit” there – it was in the top 5 M/M when things crashed – that’s great. It helped people see my cover; it helped put my name up there. I left my books live on ARe on purpose – in those last 3 days with no royalties – so readers with ebucks could find some active purchases and get value for their already-spent money. I MEANT for you to buy them, in that time and place, if you had credits to spend.

Some people have said they’re going to review more. And I love that – yes – you can reward authors who won’t see the money by reviewing or discussing the books you enjoyed. “Rejoice, Dammit” has more Amazon reviews than some of my previous full novels, showing how people are chipping in that way. ❤

But also don’t feel obligated. And don’t hesitate to post honest bad reviews, just because the money you paid in good faith won’t reach the author. We are all in this for the long haul, readers and writers. This loss hurts (some more than me) but the integrity of the community, the love of books, the mechanisms by which it all works, will go on, and adapt.

I am advising J. Scott Coatsworth on his for-profit project to set up a site for readers to find LGBTQ books with buy-links posted by the authors. To steer readers to the sites that pay more or safer royalties (like an author’s own Payhip) or to epub and pfd versions. I hope we will create a site useful to readers in their searches (because I used ARe for things like checking flame level on possible YA books, or checking word counts; Scott hopes to add features like that). And other sites are out there for finding free books, etc. Don’t forget that all the freebies from the Goodreads M/M Romance group that were for sale on ARe are on the M/M group’s own free download site in multiple formats, for instance.

(I would of course urge caution with new sites, particularly any taking money or offering to publish or sell-through to readers directly – I’m seeing a lot of opportunistic offers coming in to shell-shocked authors, with no security behind them. Don’t give money or the handling of money to anyone you don’t know well, without due research.)

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks also to the readers supporting authors who are going to Patreon, or readers still buying when authors have to take books off a sale price, or readers not complaining about us making any other move to get livable income from the job we love. You guys are the best, and the great stories will continue to come out, and we'll write and read all the books.

2016, the good and the bad, and my favorite books

December 31, 2016

newyearguyseditscaled 2016 was an interesting year for me – new friends, new challenges; family drama good and bad; the launching of my Tracefinder series and further travels into self-pub. (And I am determined that the recent ARe debacle will not derail that. BTW, if you lost one of my books in the collapse of your ARe shelves, contact me.)

Gay Rom Lit in Kansas City was a highlight – my favorite GRL yet and the first shared with my friend and editor, Jonathan Penn. I continue to be amazed by the warmth and camaraderie of our genre. Many, many thanks to the all-volunteer crew of generous people who run the event. I hope to see everyone in Denver next October.

The US election… was a rough blow, a loss of some of my faith in the essential goodwill of Americans, and a new fear for the future. I don’t post about politics much here, but that may change a bit in the next 4 years. As the parent of two LGBTQ kids, the moderator of a growing YA group, and as someone who is concerned for the survival of our planet and everyone on it, I may have to step further into that arena. For now, I will have hope for 2017, that we as a community, and as compassionate, rational, and capable people, can come together to stand up for those who need it, and to advocate for empathy and equality.

I have several books planned for 2017. I hope to have the next Tracefinder book out in the first quarter of the year. The third Finding Family is also in the works. I’m planning a new YA free anthology. I look forward to writing and publishing and sharing the good stuff with friends.

~*~*~

Books I loved Books I loved 2016

One of the joys, consolations, and pleasures of my year was reading more great books. So I want to list some of my favorites, of those I read in 2016, in no particular order, choosing particularly books whose audience wasn’t as big as I feel the stories deserved.

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Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox – This was a fun ride with a couple of great characters, and an exploration of a relationship with one Ace character, and one for whom sex is important. I really appreciated seeing a non-traditional HEA that works for those two men who will live it.

What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger – A wonderful, realistic, well-written story about two guys figuring out their relationship, with several strikes against them, and gender and BDSM components to their relationship. This book has solidly cemented Matthew Metzger as an auto-buy author for me. I love his guys – their edge of attitude and snark, their realistic conversations, the warmth down under the person they show the world. His main characters are complex, imperfect, and highly relatable.

Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean – an impressive debut, that reads a bit like a PD James, with a murder mystery that was nicely twisty and filled with red herrings. The detective hero is a very appealing main character, and a little overabundance of coincidence at the end was a minor issue in a solid M/M mystery story.

Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe – from a past in the sixties of the South, to a near-future old age, two man make a very slow and round-about journey to a love that was destined from the start. The 1960s-70s-historical content feels well researched, and the issues of orientation and race are poignant but not melodramatic.

Come Back To Me by Edmond Manning – 5th book in “The Lost and Founds” series, and Vin finally gets a man who is strong enough to live with his broken edges, and gentle enough for him to feel safe revealing them. Manning writes like no one else in the genre, with a playful and perfect skill that can make me cry and laugh on the same page. A unique series to be read in order, starting with King Perry.

Chaos Station series by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen – amazing, angsty, adventurous, gripping SciFi romance, with two very broken men. I devoured the series in order, as fast as I could read them. Each is an emotional, wrenching, and rewarding installment. The endings are solid, but with lots of room for more to come through to the HEA.

Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory – historical spy adventure, with a cross-dressing, genderqueer hero and a lot of fun. It’s also a sweet romance, slow to start, as each man feels out the other, in an era when being found out to be gay was punishable by prison and hard labor. Briers is protective, Miles is prickly and unsure. They strike both sparks and mistakes from each other. I can’t wait for the sequel to this one.

Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! by Claire Davis and Al Stewart – This YA/NA story is one of the better coming of age romances written in the POV of a main character who is clearly somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Coping with life and family, and recognizing love, make this a plausible story, and respectful of people and relationships. There were moments of humor, moments of pain, moments of ordinary life, moments of grace.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – I really liked that this YA book gave us a realistic, sympathetic, imperfect picture of a genderqueer teen. The secondary characters have a plausible range of reactions. The parents are nicely in the gray zone of loving but not understanding their child, and having comments and little moments that make Riley afraid of how they will react to the full truth. (note a trigger warning)

The Road to Silver Plume by Tamara Allen – no one writes better historical romances with flawed, sympathetic characters and a great period feel, than Tamara Allen. This was a very slow burn enemies-to-lovers adventure-romance, set in a period of American history I had not known well. I’ll be rereading this.

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I read other great books from many authors – including Marshall Thornton, K.J. Charles, Alex Gabriel, Avon Gale, Harper Fox, J.L. Merrow, Alexis Hall, and many more. My overflowing To-Be-Read shelf continues to climb out of control, with books I can’t wait to try.

To everyone who reads this, I wish you all the best for 2017. May the year be one of peace and prosperity, of fellowship and personal growth, and one of love – in life, with our darling pets, within the pages of the books we read. May you reach for dreams, and receive bounty. Happy New Year.

All Romance Ebooks/OmniLit closing

December 29, 2016

There has been an announcement that All Romance Ebooks and their non-romance division OmniLit will be closing their doors on Dec 31, 2016.

If you have a library of books on their bookshelves that you have not yet downloaded, or credits you have not used, you have 2 days to do so.

Be aware that the site is vastly overloaded right now, and it may take patience to download your books. Also be aware that any books you now buy with credits/omnibucks will not pay the actual authors anything, although you are entitled to spend them. Do NOT spend any actual new money there. I recommend immediate screenshots of your library, to remind you of what is on there and as proof of purchase. Keeping your old email receipts is also wise.

Some books may become unavailable as I write this, including books you have bought, if the author removes the linked files. Because ARe is telling authors they will receive no more that 10% of the royalties they are owed, and none for sales after yesterday, many authors are pulling their books. If you have a receipt and the book is no longer available there, contact the author or publisher. Many of them have said they will send out new copies to ARe buyers.

If you pre-ordered a not-yet-released book through ARe or OmniLit, you have to request a refund. There is no information on whether anyone is actually receiving refunds. Some publishers are also going to honor those pre-orders if you send them a screenshot.

W/ @allromance closure, if you preordered Dreamspinner title, forward receipt and we’ll honor via our store contactATdreamspinnerpressDOTcom

— Dreamspinner Press (@dreamspinners) December 28, 2016

If you have preordered any IP titles from @allromance, send us confirmation (screenshot or receipt) and we’ll honor at the IP Web Store

— Interlude Press (@InterludePress) December 28, 2016

It seems ARe is not refunding preorders. Send the confirmation email to Raevyn@ninestarpress.com. I will make sure you receive the book(s).

— NineStar Press (@ninestarpress) December 28, 2016

we’re going to make this easy for ppl: if you pre-ordered an LT3 title on ARe, forward the receipt to service@lessthanthreepress.com.

— Samantha M Derr (@rykaine) December 28, 2016

This is a messy and unprofessional closing. My goal here is to keep people with collections of books there from losing access to material they have already paid for. I have no specific knowledge of details, beyond their notice to authors.

I am sad to see ARe go. The marketplace is smaller, and the monopoly looms larger, and more authors are going to have to give up writing for not being paid. But the stories still matter, and there will be books, and we will still love the characters of our imaginations.

Happy Holidays

December 24, 2016

christmastree2016 To me, holidays are about connections – connections to family, to the past, to community. My Christmas is all about those links that bind us together. We put up our tree on Christmas Eve, together with whatever family members have managed to ingather for the holiday.

cabbageornament Our tree is eclectic – heavy on icicles, sheep and birds, for some reason, but also with fifty different unmatched pieces. The ornaments bring back memories – a glass bell of my father’s from my childhood tree; a painted bird from the year we were in California; skates for my skater-kid; the sparkly cabbage for my vegan husband. As we unwrap and hang them, we laugh at the spiky hedgehog, or the wooden snake shaped like a candycane that was a gift from my sister-in-law…

We stop afterward to eat cookies. These are my mother’s Swiss holiday recipes, full of almonds, honey, oranges, chocolate, butter… and more almonds. Some of the cookie cutters we use for the butter cookies have been in service for 90 years. chrcookies2016

And we play the music of the season. Music to remind us that once upon a time, a little dark-skinned, poor, immigrant Jewish boy grew up to change a billion lives. To remind us that the small, and humble, and rejected may hold the keys to the kingdom. And because, in the familiar songs, I hear my mother’s hands on the piano, that now are stiff and silent with arthritis, and my father’s voice, strong and sure on “Oh, Come, Emmanuel” as I have not heard it in ten years.

For some this is a very hard time. If the memories of holidays past have jagged edges, they are painful to get close to. Or if loss has broken those connections, it can be a lonely time. If that’s you, I send you hugs and thoughts and hope for building better new memories.

tateoncouch2016 In my house, the season is about remembering the good things. About still playing Santa at midnight for my adult kids, about letting the dog on the couch, about a chain of traditions that alter and shift, but do not break, going back through generations.

Very best wishes to all of you – may whatever holidays you celebrate warm your heart, and bring you peace and joy.

“Rejoice, Dammit” released

December 20, 2016

I’m pleased to let you know that Rejoice, Dammit is now available 🙂

Can real love happen twice in a lifetime?

“Rejoice, dammit!” — I could hear my husband Thom’s voice as clearly as when he was alive, telling me that four years were enough. That this year, I needed to stop avoiding the joys of the season, and get my solitary, colorless life out of its rut. But it took seeing Colin standing in an ice storm, waiting for a bus that wasn’t coming, to convince me to take a chance on opening my life, and maybe my heart, a second time around.

Buy links: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1U96RB/

Coming soon on Smashwords and their distribution to B&N, Apple, Kobo

I hope readers will have fun watching Derrick find his way forward, in the season of comfort and joy.

Holiday cover reveal – “Rejoice, Dammit”

December 16, 2016

Earlier this month, I wrote a little flash fiction for Boy Meets Boy Reviews called “You Were.” It was supposed to be a one-off story. But the main characters in it didn’t want me to leave Derrick there, at the end, still waiting for the rest of his life. So it grew into a 30,000 word holiday story.

Blurb:

“Rejoice, dammit!” — I could hear my husband Thom’s voice as clearly as when he was alive, telling me that four years were enough. That this year, I needed to stop avoiding the joys of the season, and get my solitary, colorless life out of its rut. But it took seeing Colin standing in an ice storm, waiting for a bus that wasn’t coming, to convince me to take a chance on opening my life, and maybe my heart, a second time around.

~~~

I’m hoping to release it next week. Fingers crossed all the bits come together. 🙂