Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I recently read and reviewed a novel by Matt Rauscher with the quirky title, The Unborn Spouse Situation. I was so intrigued by the novel that I tracked Matt down and asked if he would be willing to do an interview. And, of course, what author doesn’t like to talk about his work?
He agreed and you can read his interview at: http://tinyurl.com/n9bjyc
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Title: The Unborn Spouse Situation by Matt Rauscher
Augie Schoenburg is twenty-two, gay, a senior at college, an aspiring filmmaker, and desperately lonely. When he moves into The Harley Hut, the wildest party house on campus, life gets very complicated because he is constantly surrounded by a bevy of hot, supposedly straight, party boys – or so he believes. Augie’s five new housemates all know he is gay, and, on the surface, are fine with it. But after several weeks of living together, sexual tensions rise as all six men struggle with their inner demons. When Augie falls hard for one housemate, Victor Radhakrishna, his world begins to crumble. The other housemates turn against him, as does several of his friends, pushing him onto a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs. The funny thing is, Victor seems to enjoy the gay sexual attention. He even gives back as much as he takes. Yes, for a horny, gay boy living with a rowdy straight crowd, life can get very complicated indeed.
When I first saw that this book was published by Lulu, which means it was self-published, I cringed, thinking this would be another poorly written, boring story that wasn’t good enough for conventional publishers. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book is beautifully written in a compelling first-person narrative. In fact, there were a few scenes that touched brilliance. The story is a glimpse into a darkly funny, sometimes sexy, sometimes sad life of a college senior who desperately needs to find his place in the world.
I had a bit of trouble liking the narrator. He often seemed arrogant, egotistical, and self-absorbed, which means Rauscher did an excellent job of creating a believable male college student. It was the wacky situations that Augie continually stumbled into that kept me turning the pages. I found it to be a witty glimpse into one person’s search for love and acceptance while dealing within a turbulent college scene.
I did have a few minor complaints. I felt the narrator spent far too much time describing male body parts. I understand that Aggie was obsessed with showering with his hot roommates, but the body part descriptions grew old after the first thirty pages. Also, in several scenes he describes other people having sex, which in my view was overly crude and not in character. Throughout the story, the narrator did several unsavory things, like taking a great deal of money from a sugar daddy after dumping the guy, which made it difficult to like this protagonist.
Readers under the age of 30 will no doubt relish the fast paced prose, simplistic story line, snappy dialogue, college scene settings, carefree lifestyles, emotional ups and downs, and the sexy exchanges between the main characters. It is a young person’s novel. The bull’s eye target audience for this story is twenty-something and gay. The further you drift from that target center, I suspect, the less likely you are to enjoy this tumultuous coming of age story. But regardless of your age or sexual preference, Matt Rauscher will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This week I'm spotlighting an author of lesbian erotic I've not read yet, but her new anthology Where The Girls Are, is working it's way to the top of my to-be-reviewed stack. D. L. King is currently on a whirlwind cross-country book tour called "The Lust, Dust and Leather Tour" and she recently took time to let me interview her. She gives a great interview, so please check it out by clicking here.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The contest is open to authors at all stages of their careers and to stories in all genres. The entry fee is $10 per story with a 3 story limit per author.
One grand prize of $250 and two second place prizes of $50 will be awarded. In addition, the top stories will be published in an anthology from QueerMojo, an imprint of Rebel Satori Press. There will also be a book release party held during the 8th annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans May 13-16, 2010. The deadline for the receipt of manuscripts is January 2, 2010.
Contest details at a glance:
Theme: Saints and Sinners
Entry Fee: $10 US per story. Limit three stories per author.
Deadline: January 2, 2010
Word Count: 5,000 to 7,000
Send 2 copies of each story with a completed entry form. Submissions should be in standard manuscript format. Your name and contact information should
NOT appear on the manuscript.
Entry forms available at: http://www.sasfest.com
Friday, August 14, 2009
Publisher: City Lights Books
Smash the Church, Smash the State is an impressive collection of essays, memoirs, poems and pictures celebrating the explosive period in the Gay Liberation Movement from pre-Stonewall, to deep into the AIDS crisis, to today – forty years of battling oppression. There are fifty works submitted by the people who were there on the front lines while the bottles and purses and wigs were flying. From the first high heel thrown at Stonewall, to the birth of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, to performances by Sylvester and the Cockettes, to the political rise and fall of Harvey Milk – it’s all there in beautifully written prose by some of the most influential people in the Gay Liberation Movement.
These stories are written by, and are about, the lesbians, gay men, and transgender people who battled oppression on many fronts. These writers share their unique perspectives, ideological ideas, personal memories, and their own celebration of revolutionary spirit that shaped the movement.
Reading these different perspectives, it became clear that the Gay Rights Movement was a slow, often painful progression that started with properly dressed “homophiles” marching around Independence Hall, and grew in anger and volume to a rowdy bunch of militant drag queens, long-haired hippie militants and lesbian feminists.
The times were ripe for revolt in the late 1960s, when Stonewall erupted. People were protesting the Viet Nam war, groups like the Black Panthers were leading the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Movement was underway. From this fertile ground sprung the Gay Liberation Front, who’s statement of purpose read:
“We are a revolutionary group of men and women formed with the realization that complete sexual liberation for all people can not come about unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society’s attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature.”
Interesting that today gay rights organizations fight for acceptance in the military and sex-sex marriage, which moves gay men and women a step closer to living like heterosexual couples, where as in the sixties, seventies and eighties, they were militant and wanted to destroy anything that stood in their way of being flamboyantly themselves and expressing their sexual identity.
This book is a proud testament to the radical activists who stood their ground, took their knocks, and showed love and bravery and solidarity in the face of hatred and violence. Their spirit and struggle inspired me, educated me about a little-known part of my own history, and made me even more proud to be a gay man. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Q: John, I’ve lived in and around San Francisco for over forty years, and I can’t remember a time when A Different Light Bookstore wasn’t in the heart of the Castro. How long has A Different Light been open, and how long have you, personally, been managing the store?
JG: A Different light has been around since the late 70’s. The First A Different Light Bookstore opened in 1979 to be exact, in Silver lake California, we actually turned 30 this year!
I have been managing the store in S.F. since October 2007.
Q: With the advent of Amazon, it seems the whole publishing world is changing. From a retail perspective, what are the most significant changes that you have seen in the last 10 to 15 years?
JG: In the past 15 years there has been a significant change in the retail customer base. The younger generation in our GLBT community does not have the same history with our store as the generation of 30 years ago. Although we have a terrifically loyal audience, the assimilation of GLBT’s into the world social order has removed the “Buy GLBT” mantra from the past. As such, because we remain a GLBT product oriented store and other mainstream stores sell GLBT literature; we have seen a drop off in our core audience.
Q: What does a brick & mortar bookstore need to do to attract buys in an age when online giants like Amazon and B&N are so dominant?
JG: We see the real question as what has been the impact of the Internet on socialization in general. I, for one, enjoy being out and embracing the opportunity to be with people and absorbing the energy that an active community provides. The Internet may make shopping easier, but it cannot provide that human contact and energy you get when you are out. We are not sure we know the answer to your question. We are putting more effort into bringing authors into the store for readings and signings and trying to inventory stock that is more consistently in demand.
Q: Other than helping support local, gay owned and operated businesses, what advantages are there for readers to buy from ADL rather the Amazon or B&N?
JG: This is a great discussion point. Since 1979 ADL has been solely focused on GLBT writers and their books. Our effort is about preserving an uncensored avenue for all GLBT writers and publishers. Amazon and B&N carry many of the same products as we do, but you can rest assured that they review and choose carefully what they will actually sell.
Q: Being in the heart of the Castro, you always seem to get lots of foot traffic into the store, but I know you also have a handy website. Can you tell us where the greatest source of book sales comes from, store or web, and what do the percentages look like?
JG: Our website (www.ADLBooks.Com) has been a transitional business since 2002. Our store is the still foundation of our business. A majority of our sales still come through our store, and the website business has been building and constant since it’s inception. We consider our site as a value added feature for our customers. There is a misconception that the Internet business must be cheaper to run and fewer overheads. The hidden expense is the technical expertise required to keep it updated and trouble free. We are fortunate to have a benefactor in that area that has made it possible to keep this part of our business going; when under different circumstances we might have had to reconsider it’s financial viability.
Q: Do you feel that the growing popularity of ebooks are hurting the independent bookstores?
JG: Our customers are bibliophiles. I say this with the sincerest level of respect. For many of our customers, the gift of books is the ability to create their own libraries and actually hold a book and sense it’s value physically. If ebooks are impacting our business, we have not had anyway to really measure that.
Q: Are the customers of today looking for the same sorts of things they did, say, ten years ago?
JG: I would say yes. However, we have expanded our product line to include movies, apparel along with our books and magazines. With the advent of the cellular phone and the Internet, we have seen a reduction in the purchase of cards and calendars.
Q: How has gay literature changed over the years, and who are the most popular gay writers, based on ADL sales?
JG: I am not sure it has changed that much. GLBT fiction, non-fiction and humor has been focused on the trials and tribulations of our GLBT lives. In a sense it has documented our history and represented us in ways that has uplifted our self awareness, self esteem and our normalization during a very tumultuous history.
Many authors have now reached beyond those dynamics and the genre has become more generalized.
Q: When my novel, Island Song, was released, A Different Light was by far the most helpful bookstore in the Bay Area in terms of stocking my book, placing it in highly visible areas, and arranging books signings. Do you always go out of your way for local authors or are you truly that helpful with all gay authors?
JG: We do our best to help out as many of our local authors as we can, though we are equally helpful with all gay/lesbian authors in general. I will have to say though we have encountered some authors local and otherwise who feel they are some what demanding or feel entitled just because they are local or gay/lesbian. Granted they are few and far between but I have to say, yes we go out of our way to help as many authors as we can but , authors also need to approach bookstores in a positive manner as well.
Q: How often do you host events like book readings/signings by authors? And do you ever host events where two or more authors share the spotlight?
JG: Well our goal is to have as many as we can, which of course helps our foot traffic. It also depends on what’s new or up and coming, and who we are able to schedule, as you can imagine it is sometimes difficult for smaller independent bookstores to schedule big name authors because we don’t have the buying power like some of the bigger chains. And of course its not just books we have events for, when also do events such as calendar signings, magazine release events and so on.
We have on occasion have had events with multiple authors, it sometimes is the best way for newer up and coming authors they may not have a big following yet, to get their names out there or if we are doing an event with a certain genre, for instance we have an event coming up in October with a few mystery/suspense authors.
Q: Can you tell us the names of some of the local authors who regularly do events at ADL?
JG: Of course Alan Chin, Armistead Maupin, Kemble Scott, who BTW has a new book coming out in Sept, Michael Thomas Ford, Michel Tea just to name a few.
Q: If an author wants to schedule a book reading/signing at your store, who should they contact to arrange that?
JG: They can call us or come on in and talk to anyone of our booksellers, myself or Oscar our Events Guy or send us an email at email@example.com.
Q: Where can readers go to find out what upcoming events are scheduled?
JG: We have them posted in the store on our community board as well as online at adlbooks.com, click on events tab.
Q: Is there any information, John, that you would like to add?
JG: Well, if you have never been into our corner of the Castro take some time to come on by, you’ll never know what you will find. If you are one of out Loyal Customers, we always appreciate your continued business and hope to see you soon.
Thank you, John, for taking the time to answer my questions.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I would like to switch to a high-end Mac laptop. I’m impressed with how well designed they are, and the idea that I don’t need to fool with McAfee or Norton, let alone a buggy Microsoft operating system, seems a HUGE plus. I’m also impressed that Mac users are all so very loyal to Apple. That doesn’t happen by accident. And the fact that PC users seldom have kind words for Microsoft, speaks volumes, at least to me.
The problem is, it seems I can get a perfectly adequate Dell, HP, or Sony laptop for half the price of the Mac, and I’m finding it hard to justify the extra $500 to $800 to get the system I want.
On the other hand, between writing my novels and screenplays, and marketing my books, I spend four to eight hours per day, every day, working on my laptop. Although the skinflint in me is yelling, "Go for the HP!", the writer in me is whispering, "You work long and hard, and deserve a system that will make your life easier."
Besides, what’s an extra $800 when it’s spread over four to six years, or more. Okay, say no more. I’m convinced. ;-)
Friday, August 7, 2009
Q: When did you start writing and how many novels have you published?
AB: Both of those are trickier questions than they look! I started writing down stories when I was 11, and I wrote my first finished novel when I was 22 but I didn't start writing with the aim of being published until I was about 35. I'm now 44 and had my first novel published in 2007.
Technically I suppose I've only had two novels published. Captain's Surrender came out in January 2007 from Linden Bay Romance, but it has now been taken over by Samhain and is currently unavailable while we edit the new edition (due in October). False Colors came out in April 2009 from Running Press, and is doing fine. I also self-published a fantasy called The Witch's Boy which is now unavailable because it's newly under contract to Lethe Press. A new edition of that will be out at some point.
Q: What was the first story you ever wrote about?
AB: I know one early one was a romance between Khan (from the film 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan') and his loyal lieutenant Joachim. I also wrote terrible space opera type stories in which Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the prog rock group, saved the universe with the power of music. All very embarrassing!
Q: Do most of your stories have gay or lesbian main characters. If so, why do you write about GLBT character, considering that it limits your audience.
AB: My protagonists are gay male characters pretty exclusively. I may have straight male and female characters in sub-plots or as sidekicks and friends, but so far all my heroes have been gay. It's hard to say why. These are just the characters and stories that come into my head. I would have to make a special effort to change them, if I wanted to write them as straight, and I don't see why I should have to do that.
It seems to me that in an era when Torchwood is pulling in millions of viewers with a gay main romantic couple, that the audience is there for a fun story no matter the orientation of the heroes. If there are people who won't publish those stories, and people who won't read them, then that's their problem, not mine. I think that stories about GLBT characters will be mainstream one day, as long as we all keep on writing them.
Q: Who are the authors who most influence you?
AB: Patrick O'Brian would be the most obvious. He's the one who inspired me to write in the Age of Sail. But I also owe enormous debts to Tolkien, who taught me my morality, and a love of ancient things. And the writer I would most like to grow up to be is Ursula LeGuin, whose writing is deeply thoughtful and contemplative while reading like poetry. (I'll never make it, but it doesn't hurt to aim high.)
Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow?
AB: I need solitude. I can't write if there's anyone else around me, even in a different room of the house.
To read the entire interview, press here.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
There are concerns in some quarters that the settlement as written gives Google too great of scope over disposition of electronic books. This is one of the things the FTC is studying. However, in general, the settlement provides a one-time payment for copyright owners whose books have already been scanned into Google Library plus the option for later payment by allowing them to maintain the file and sell digital copies.
Updated Summary Notice: New Opt-Out/Objection Deadline is September 4, 2009
If You Are a Book Author, Book Publisher or Other Person Who Owns a Copyright in a Book or Other Writing, Your rights may be affected by a class action settlement regarding Google's scanning and use of Books and other writings.
Persons Outside the United States: This settlement may affect you because it covers U.S. copyright interests in books published outside the United States. If you hold such an interest in a book or other material in a book, this settlement will bind you unless you timely opt out.
Authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit, claiming Google violated the copyrights of authors, publishers and other copyright holders ("Rightsholders") by scanning in-copyright Books and Inserts, and displaying excerpts, without permission. Google denies the claims. The parties have agreed to a settlement. This summary provides basic information about the settlement. "Books" and "Inserts" are described below.
What Does the Settlement Provide?
The settlement, if Court-approved, will authorize Google to scan in-copyright Books and Inserts in the United States, and maintain an electronic database of Books. For out-of-print Books and, if permitted by Rightsholders of in-print Books, Google will be able to sell access to individual Books and institutional subscriptions to the database, place advertisements on any page dedicated to a Book, and make other commercial uses of Books. At any time, Rightsholders can change instructions to Google regarding any of those uses. Through a Book Rights Registry ("Registry") established by the settlement, Google will pay Rightsholders 63% of all revenues from these uses.
Google also will pay $34.5 million to establish and fund the initial operations of the Registry and for notice and settlement administration costs, and at least $45 million for cash payments to Rightsholders of Books and Inserts that Google scans on or before May 5, 2009.
Who Is Included?
The settlement class includes all persons worldwide who own a U.S. copyright interest in any Book or Insert. The meaning of "U.S. copyright interest" is broad. Wherever you are located, please read the full Notice to determine whether you are included in the settlement.
There are two Sub-Classes:
* The "Author Sub-Class" (authors of Books and other writings, and their heirs, successors and assigns), and
* The "Publisher Sub-Class" (publishers of Books and periodicals, and their successors and assigns).
What Material Is Covered?
"Books" include in-copyright written works, such as novels, textbooks, dissertations, and other writings, that were published or distributed in hard copy format on or before January 5, 2009. U.S. works must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be included in the settlement. "Books" do not include periodicals, personal papers, sheet music, and public domain or government works.
"Inserts" include any text and other material, such as forewords, essays, poems, quotations, letters, song lyrics, children's Book illustrations, sheet music, charts, and graphs, if independently protected by U.S. copyright, contained in a Book, a government work or a public domain book published on or before January 5, 2009 and, if U.S. works, registered (alone or as part of another work) with the U.S. Copyright Office. Inserts do not include pictorial content (except for children's Book illustrations), or any public domain or government works.
The Notice contains a more detailed description of these terms and other essential information about the settlement.
What Should I do?
Please read the full Notice, which is available at http://www.googlebooksettlement.com.
Decide whether you should:
* Remain in the settlement. If you do so, you will be bound by the Court's rulings, including a release of your claims against Google.
* Object to or comment on the settlement. You must object/comment in writing by September 4, 2009.
* Opt out of the settlement and keep your right to sue Google individually. You must opt out in writing by September 4, 2009.
* File a claim for a cash payment (if you are eligible to do so). You must file your claim by January 5, 2010.
The Court has appointed Class Counsel to represent the two Sub-Classes. If the settlement is approved, Class Counsel for the Author Sub-Class will request attorneys' fees and expenses that Google has agreed to pay. You can also hire your own attorney at your own cost.
The Court will determine whether to approve the settlement at a Fairness Hearing on October 7, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.
Get Complete Information, Including the Full Notice:
Visit: http://www.googlebooksettlement.com Call: +1.612.359.8600
Write: Google Book Search Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting
P.O. Box 9364, Minneapolis, MN 55440-9364 United States of America
Sunday, August 2, 2009
But before they reach the safety of port Gibraltar, Cavendish is wounded during another sea battle, and it’s Lt. Donwell’s turn to play nursemaid. During Cavendish’s recuperation, he and Donwell slowly become close friends – born from each other’s brush with death – so close that Donwell misinterpret the captain’s familiarity and makes an improper advance, professing his love for Cavendish. The captain immediately rejects him, and fearing recrimination which could lead to hanging, he takes a berth on another ship, HMS Britannia where he comes under the protection of Captain Farrant, a gay man whom Donwell has a history. They quickly become lovers, and Farrant tells Donwell, "Stop chasing love. Love is not for men like us. We share a deviancy we must pay for with lives of exemplary duty...You will get yourself hanged if you think otherwise.” Although that seems to be a theme in the story, it’s impossible for the hot blooded Lieutenant to follow such advice.
By the time Cavendish recovers and goes back to sea – not as captain, but as second in command – he has realized why his insides feel like a black hole after Donwell abandoned him. He had unwittingly fallen in love with the handsome Lieutenant. And as horrible as that thought is for this morally prudish man, the only thing worse is not having his love near him. The two men have a series of adventures before destiny brings them together again. And when they come together, with the full knowledge that they love each other, will duty and the threat of hanging keep them from becoming lovers? I won’t give it away, but suffice to say, their woeful adventures are far from over.
Narrated in the manner of a 19th century novel – primarily told, not shown – the characters are kept at a slight distance from the reader. There was not only this slight detachment, but I never really warmed up to either main character. I didn’t dislike them, they simply failed to win my sympathy, so I was not fully invested in their story. These protagonists are complex, flawed and for the most part believable. There were one or two scenes when Cavendish did something so completely out of character that he was not credible. There were several secondary characters that I would have like to have seen expanded, and even with the two lovers there were episodes that could have benefited by drilling to a deeper understanding.
Beecroft is superb at providing believable detail of 18th century life, especially nautical detail. This is where the author truly shines brightest. She puts you on deck of a tall ship and on the smelly wharfs. You feel the wind in your face, the fear of battle, the agony of wounds. At times I felt the story line sagging from the weight of too much description, but those times were infrequent. Although I am, admittedly, not a huge fan of historical fiction, I found myself fascinated by the world Beecroft creates. What I do love are good sea yarns, and False Colors is exactly that.
Beyond the normal romance plot twists, is the convincing story of two men in turmoil, and their only chance for survival is to cling to each other, which of course is seldom the case. The many varied plot twists kept me turning pages. There were times when I felt the storyline was too predictable, and there were certain elements about the ending that were disturbing, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this story. I have no reservation in recommending this book to anyone.
Find out more about False Colors and other Alex Beecroft novels here.