Saturday, May 30, 2009



San Francisco, CA – GuyWriters, the community network for gay writers in the Bay Area, will celebrate its fifth anniversary by presenting “Quilts, Comforters & Bedsheets: Gay Men Write About Love, Relationships and Community” at the National Queer Arts Festival on June 12th.
This literary reading will spotlight poetry, prose and plays by a diverse mix of local favorites and new voices, including M.S. Allen, Alan Chin, M.L. Heath, Rik Isensee, Enzo Lombard-Quintero, Robert McLaughlin, Jim Provenzano, Eric Rose, Steven Salzman, and Anthony Williams. Special guest Brian Freeman of the Pomo Afro Homos will also read work. The event will also showcase an original community quilt by award-winning quilter Mac MacNamara.
For event details press here

Thursday, May 28, 2009 Tracking promotional results is looking to start building a repository of information on the effectiveness of various marketing, advertising, and review services. They do this by tracking the hourly sales rank of a book or books before, during, and after a promotion (blog review, press release, etc.).

They are looking for published authors who are planning some form of bookpromotion. They will provide complimentary subscriptions for a month or so to anyone who wants to see the effect of a given initiative.

If you are interested in this free test, email
For more information (they also have Amazon tracking widgets), check out: <>

(Per John Kremer)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview with renowned author Victor Banis

Victor Banis has been writing GLBT themed novels and short stories for almost half a century. His published works range from soft-core erotica, to romance, to futuristic novels, to mysteries. He was at the forefront of the early gay-rights moment in the 60’s, and has become an icon in gay culture today. Victor was kind enough to chat with me earlier this year, and the following interview chronicles what this remarkable man had to say:

Q: You published several terrific novels back in the ’60 when gay literature was just taking off. But then you didn’t publish anything for a number of years. If it’s not too personal, can you tell us why you stopped publishing work for so long a time, and what brought you back to publishing your work.

Complicated answer: I'd moved from the west coast paperback publishers to the big NYC houses, and it was a different ballgame; too cutthroat for me. I had major quarrels with a couple of the publishers and I was very angry, and realized one day while I was writing that I hated it. I had started writing just for the joy of it, and I had lost the joy. So, I took a break.

Simple answer: I was probably burned out.

What brought me back: Fabio Cleto tracked me down and asked if he could try to get the C.A.M.P. books reissued, and he did. Now, bear in mind, I hadn't altogether stopped writing, but I hadn't worked on any novels and hadn't written anything for publication; but, then, this young man showed up in my bed one night, he told me his name was Harvey, and he started talking to me about the problems he was having way in the future and, well, I'm a sucker for a young man in my bed, so…

Q: Who are the authors who most influence you, both in your early career and now?

Hmm – been many of them. Different writers for different reasons. Mary Stewart for her sense of place, and those wonderful heroines, feisty but virtuous. And Graham Greene, because he always made/makes me think. Maugham – I come back to him a lot, he was such a wicked old thing; he always insisted he couldn't write humor, and I think he wrote some of the funniest stuff I ever read.

To read more of this interview, click here

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Untreed Reads is collecting Pride Month Activities

Untreed Reads is collecting Pride Month activities to add to its event calendar, as well as a special Pride Month section of the website.

Do you have a signing coming up during June? A new release? Special discounts during Pride Month? Free titles to give away? A free title you'd like to give away as an exclusive to Untreed Reads readers for the month of June? Maybe an exclusive coupon code to Untreed Read readers? I need to hear from you!

Please send any ebook or audiobook related activities for Pride Month to . I'd like to make this one of the biggest celebrations of LGBT ebook and audiobook writing that's ever taken place...until next year, of course!

Thirty days of free can you pass that up? If you'd like to be a financial sponsor for the special Pride Section, please contact me at for advertising and rate info.

Jay Hartman

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Fall 2009 Written Art Awards

I thought many of my writer friends would be interested in the following: is proud to introduce The Written Art Awards, a biannual literary awards program that will take place in the spring and fall of every year. It has been founded to pay tribute to authors who are self-published or have had their books published by a subsidy publisher, small press, university press, or independent book publisher.

The Written Art Awards are open to all authors regardless of residency, however, books must be published in the English language and intended for the North American market. Works published by any major book publishers, their subsidiaries, or their imprints are not permitted. Books must have a 2008 or 2009 copyright date. At this time, boooks may NOT be submitted for more than one category. Authors may submit more than one title. Books of a racist theme will be not be tolerated under any circumstances.

All initial judging will be done by reviewers. Criteria for judging is content/originality, presentation/design, innovation, social relevance, production quality, enjoyment/impact, plot/story line, and resourcefulness (depending on category). Five semi-finalists in each category will be determined by a point system. Final judging will be determined by a jury of judges.
In the first level of judging, a review will be written and forwarded to you. The review will also be posted on, as well as our weblog and Though we cannot guarantee the turnaround time for the review, we do attempt to review/judge books as soon as they are submitted. The sooner a book is submitted, the sooner a review will be returned. The review will be available for marketing purposes. If a review has already been received from, another review will not be done, and the book will automatically go to the second level of the judging process. Please, do not wait until the deadline to submit a book.

Fiction Nonfiction
1 General Fiction Including novels and short story collections
2 Mystery/Thriller
3 Humor/Satire
4 Science Fiction/Fantasy
5 General Nonfiction Including history, science, nature and animals, and travel
6 Creative Nonfiction Including biographies, autobiographies, memoirs
7 Self-help
8 Spirituality and Religion Poetry
9 Poetry

Three semi-finalists will be chosen in each fiction and non-fiction category. First and second place winners will be awarded in each category. Third place will receive an honorable mention.Two finalists, picked from the top scorer in each category, will be selected as the overall winner of Best Fiction and Best Non-Fiction, respectively. Each will receive a certificate. All certificates and awards stickers will be dated for year 2009.
Semi-finalists will be announced in our monthly e-mail newsletter on September 1st, 2009 and the finalists on October 1st, 2009. If we can possibly speed it up, we certainly will.

Entry Fee
The entry fee is $40.00 per title. A title can only be entered in one category. Entry fee must be in USD via U.S. check or international money order payable to: Rebecca's Reads Contestants may also submit payment via PayPal. Need more information on payment arrangements? Contact us. All books entered will become the property of and will be donated to local charities after the awards program is completed. Submissions received without the entry fee will not even be considered. Entry fee is non-refundable.

Registration Deadline
Authors who would like their book sumbitted for the Fall 2009 Awards are encouraged to submit their entries as soon as possible but postmarked no later than June 15th, 2009. Any submission postmarked after this date will not be accepted. (Help us prevent judge burn-out and submit your book early. Our judges read the book in its entirety; please give them plenty of time to read the book.) We will confirm your entry via e-mail so print your email address clearly.

The Registration form may be downloaded here. Be sure one form is included with each title submitted. One Registration form must accompany each title and sent to:
The Written Art Awardsc/o
7101 W. Highway 71,Suite 250
Austin, TX 78735

Rights will not retain any rights to submitted books. Nor will they reproduce or publish any submission. All contact information will not be disclosed to a third party other than the sponsor of the above noted reserves the right to disqualify any entry, without prior notice, if guidelines and criteria are not met. Entry fee is non-refundable to disqualified entries.

Important Notice
Please make sure that you enclose two books for each submission. Do not deface your book by stamping it as "review copy" or "promo copy," as we will donate the books to a local library and SafePlace Austin - a center for abused women and children. We also sell some of the books and all the proceeds we receive go to Higher Power Foundation Scholarship Fund. This fund supports people in need of recovery, to attend life-changing workshops.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MLR Press Opens Their Bookstore

MLR Press has recently opened an online bookstore so that buyers can go straight to the source for some high quality GLBT fiction. They have started by listing only ebooks, but they have plans to add printed titles as soon as they have their inventory and shipping plan in place.

You can browse and buy these books at:
Shop & Enjoy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Amanda Young Interviews Alan Chin

If anyone is interested in discovering all the dirt on Alan Chin, check out Amanda Young's blog today. She was gracious enough to do an interview with me earlier in the year when I was traveling in Southeast Asia, and she posted the interview today at:


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Big Birthday Sale at Fictonwise

Fictionwise is nine years old and they're having a birthday celebration, across-the-board sale. All ebook titles are reduced 30% to 50%. My books, Island Song, for example, is discounted down to only $3.50. Pretty darned cheap. Time to stock up on reading material at:


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Zumaya Publications joins the Espresso challenge

The following press release is from Elisabeth Burton, Executive Director, Zumaya Publications:

Late in April, Zumaya Publications, parent company of the GLBT publishing imprint Zumaya Boundless, completed the paperwork that places all their titles currently being printed at Lightning Source into a pilot program with On-Demand Books, makers of the Espresso Book Machine. Other participating publishers are John Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, Clements Publishing, Cosimo, E-Reads, Bibliolife, Information Age Publishing, Macmillan, University of California Press and W.W. Norton.

Through this program, Zumaya books will be available for printing at all facilities that have an Espresso. There are currently 12 EBMs operational worldwide, and it is my understanding that this pilot program is the first phase of a marketing plan to place more of them in the next few years. The ones already in operation are located at:

World Bank InfoShop, Washington D.C.
New York Public Library, New York, NY
New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans, LA
Internet Archive, San Francisco, CA
University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, MI
Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
University of Alberta Bookstore, Edmonton, AB, Canada
McMaster University Bookstore, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Newsstand UK, London, England
Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
Angus & Robertson Bookstore, Melbourne, Australia
University of Waterloo Bookstore, ON, Canada
Blackwell’s Bookstore, London, United Kingdom

Just about a decade ago, the first on-demand book printer came into being. The quality of the product, compared to the traditional printing methods, left a good deal to be desired; and the cost to print each copy was much too high for most book publishing uses. However, where only a limited number of copies—or a single one—was wanted, those early machines were both economical and sensible.

It was then that Random House editor Jason Epstein wrote Book Business, in which he stated that on-demand printing was the future of the industry. Epstein was one of the founders of On-Demand Books.

Since those early days, the quality of on-demand printing has grown exponentially, and today a digitally printed book is indistinguishable from its offset-printed counterpart with one exception: it will always have a glossy cover for technical reasons. By utilizing the improvements in digital printing technology, On-Demand was able to complete development of a compact machine that could revolutionize the way books are printed and sold.

The EBM, which costs $95,000 in its current incarnation, prints and binds a trade paperback book while you wait. Literally. In Blackwell’s bookstore, they’ve replaced the metal frame with glass so the buyer can watch as their book goes from digital file to finished product. You can view the process yourself at

The capability to print a book on-site in a bookstore or library means that shipping costs, both financial and environmental, are eliminated. Although no one has, as far as I know, calculated the environmental impact of the machine itself, it has to be borne in mind that the book would still need to be printed, yet that the now-standard print runs wouldn’t be necessary. Given 25-50% of those runs are returned and discarded, logic would suggest the EBM is a much more environmentally sound way of producing print books than any of the alternatives.

The benefits to independent booksellers in particular are clear. One of the biggest obstacles they currently experience trying to compete with superchain and online booksellers is their inability to offer a large range of titles. With an EBM, this would no longer be the case. They will be able to store the files for thousands of books and print off a copy when it’s wanted—and without paying fees to wholesalers and distributors.

In addition, they could, if provided with the proper files, print books for local people who may, for example, only want five or ten copies of a family history for personal use, thus providing an additional revenue stream.

The advantage for authors is that overseas sales will no longer be plagued by expensive shipping costs. This opens the whole world to the exchange of ideas through printed books in the way it has so far only been managed via ebooks.

We’re very excited about being part of this project, for all of these reasons. There’s something particularly exciting about being part of the future of an entire industry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking Risks

Today I attended the first meeting of a new screenwriter's group in San Francisco. There were nine writers in all, including myself, and at least three who have optioned movie scripts to independent studios. I am not the only published author of the group, but perhaps the only novelist. Some are journalist, others have produced other works.

I found it thrilling to be exchanging ideas about scriptwriting with these knowledgeable people. My script has been sitting on the shelf for the past six months…waiting…because I had taken it as far as I could on my own, and didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or to offer constructive criticism. But that has now changed in, hopefully, a big way.

Best of all, my husband, Herman, has joined the group, as well. He’s spent the last few days feverishly working on the script he started last year. This will be something we do together, and I couldn’t be happier. Last summer he joined me in a scriptwriting class at the local community college. The class was not all we had hoped for but it did give us the basics and it made us collaborate, which turned out to be tremendously satisfying. For two people who have lived closely for fifteen years, we often have long periods of silence (sometimes several days), but during that class last summer, we were constantly chatting, exchanging ideas, supporting each other. It brought us together in a most creative way. I’m hoping we can recapture that closeness working in this new group.

So my task for his week is to pull my script off the shelf, dust it off with a careful reading to become reacquainted, then send out the first two opening scenes to the group for next week’s discussions. I can’t wait. I feel so energized.

I must confess, I’m a little frightened that, by being so jazzed about this new workgroup, I’m setting myself up for a let-down. There is always that risk that it will fail to meet my high expectations and I’ll eventually drown in disappointment, but then isn’t everything in life like that? I think it pays to get excited by life’s possibilities, take risks and to set high expectations for the things we care about. Don’t you?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Favorite Interview Questions

Today I'm compiling a list of interview questions that I intend to submit to Rick Reed, the author of the book I reviewed yesterday (see post below this). I have a standard set of questions that I have used on other interviews, but I thought it would be fun to get suggestions from other writers and readers as to what they look for in an author interview.

What are your favorite questions?
What do you like to know about authors?
And for writers, what kind of fun, off the wall questions have you answered?

If you’ve got a second, please leave a comment to give me your suggestions.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Review - Bashed by Rick R. Reed

Reviewed by Alan Chin

(PUBLISHER: MLR Press, 2009, $13.49)

Donald and his younger lover, Mark, strolled from the Brig (the leather bar where they had spent most of their evening) back to the alley where they had parked their car. It was late, the streets were deserted. They were playfully drunk and very much in love. The night’s chill made them anxious to be home where they could complete their joyous evening with more intimate activities.
Justin, a sixteen-year-old with an edge, was joyriding with his two buddies Ronny and Luis, both of whom were in their twenties. The night had been exciting for Justin. He’d had enough weed and beer to send him over the moon, and being with older thug types that he looked up to, gave him a quiet satisfaction that he, too, was a tough and dangerous man, not to be trifled with.
Everything was going great for Justin, and for Donald and Mark for that matter, that is, until their paths collided.
Justin went along for the ride when Ronny pulled the car to the curb and said they should give those two fags a good ass-stomping – something to keep them out of the neighborhood. But Justin didn’t notice the baseball bat in Ronny’s hands until it was too late the stop the deed. How could something as innocent as name-calling and a little slap-slap turn into something so brutal, so deadly? And what was Justin supposed to do now that he was an accomplice to murder? Suddenly, he didn’t feel so tough and dangerous.

Rick Reed has created two touching love stories deeply embedded within a tale of hate, fear and coping – the love of Donald for his lost lover, and the love of Uncle Walter for his troubled nephew, Justin. It is tense, riveting, honest, sometimes brutal, and definitely not for the squeamish.
After that first fateful night, the author takes us on a journey that follows two paths simultaneously. The first path is Donald trying to pull his life back into some kind of order after he survives the vicious attack that kills his lover and leaves him injured. The second path follows Justin as he tries to extricate himself from his thug buddies and return to a more wholesome life by hanging out with the only person in his life that seems to have it together, his gay uncle, Walter.
It is a touching web of regrets and coping, until Donald and Justin’s paths collide a second deadly time.

Looking back, the first thing that struck me was how well the plot was crafted. Rick Reed knows how to put you on the edge of your chair and keep you there. As the story unfolds, the writer in me felt a little taste of awe at the author’s skillful hand. The depth of the characters was also notable. The reader understands their frustrations, their motivations, and their pain with exceptional clarity. The prose, like the story, is gritty and hard driving. In my view, Mr. Reed has created a winner.

I did have a few issues that slightly detracted from my enjoying the story. In several areas I felt that the author did too much telling and not enough showing. I wanted him to trust me, the reader, more to understand the emotions without telling me.
I also had an issue with the number of improbable coincidences that cropped up, like Donald and Walter living in the same building, to mention only one. Each time the story presented an improbable coincidence, it pulled me out of the story and reminded me that I was reading a fictional story, not living though something tragic, and a story that needed something slightly unbelievable to make the plot work.
The last minor point I’ll mention, without giving too much plot way, is that the ghost of Mark makes several appearances in the story, seemingly to protect Donald. It works well in this story because it reveals the depth of their love for each other. My issue was merely that I’ve seen that done in many novels and movies, and am feeling that it’s a bit over-done.

Those small issues aside, I found it a thoroughly well-written story. It is not an easy read, due to the dark content and complex emotional interactions, though it is well worth the effort. If you like a well crafted suspense story and have nerves of steel, then by all means, this will keep you up nights until you’ve finished it, and perhaps even after.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baseball Has A New Fan

I experienced a pleasant surprise last night, one of those little curve balls that life seems to throw at me from time to time. A friend called in mid-afternoon, saying that a coworker had given him four tickets to that night’s Giants vs. Mets baseball game, and did my husband, Herman, and I want to join them.

I hadn’t seen a baseball game in fifteen years. When I managed a group of software engineers in San Francisco, once a year I would treat them to an A’s ballgame. We would all jump on Bart about lunchtime, whoosh across the bay and catch an afternoon game. I never enjoyed the game. Baseball for me is a bore, as is most team sports. But it was always fun to have a beer and hotdog with my employees and they seemed to have a grand time, like schoolboys cutting class.

So yesterday I was going hell-bent on Facebook and Twitter, and didn’t want to be pulled away, but I could tell Herman wanted to go, just to get us out of the house for a change. Well, as it turned out, I not only tagged along, I had a wonderful time. Of course the two beers I had before the bottom of the 3rd helped to get me in the spirit of the game, but regardless, the fans, being out with my husband and friends, the ballpark food, the game, all fused into a fantastic experience. By the end of the 8th inning, the score was tied at 6 all, so it turned out to be a nail biter. The crowd was somewhat drunk and rowdy, but in a good way. And me? I was glowing. It was simply a wholesome, fun thing to do on a Friday night.

I must admit, I was a bit taken aback by the prices, both for tickets and food, but I guess nothing is cheap these days.

So baseball has a new fan. No, I don’t expect to be dropping a wad on season ticket anytime soon, but I will gladly return to the ballpark for a night of food, friends, and a great crowd. Sometimes, it pays to take a risk, do something new.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Awards

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2008 Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Awards.

The following email was written by Jo Fothergill:

We are very pleased to announce the results of the 2008 Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Awards.

In alphabetical order, the Readers' Favorites are:

2008 Favorite Writer:
L-J Baker
Gerri Hill
KG MacGregor
Ali Vali

2008 Favorite Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy Book:
Adijan and Her Genie - L-J Baker
On Azrael's Wings - D. Jordan Redhawk
Shadow of the Knife - Jane Fletcher
Storm - Kim Pritekel
Truth Behind the Mask - Leslie Davis

2008 Favorite Romance Book:
Blessed Twice - Lynn Galli
Deal with the Devil - Ali Vali
Fast Break - Mickey Minner
Night Call - Radclyffe
The Kiss That Counted - Karin Kallmaker
The Lonely Hearts Club - Radclyffe

2008 Favorite Humor/Comedy Book:
Dresses and Other Catastrophes - Dani O'Connor
Made For You - Geneva St James
Once - L.T. Smith

2008 Favorite Erotica Book:
Blood and Mint Chocolates - Adrienne Brennan
In Deep Waters 2: Cruising the Strip - Radclyffe/Karin Kallmaker
Lipstick on Her Collar - Sacchi Green/Rakelle Valencia
Periphery: Erotic Lesbian Futures - Lynne Jamneck (editor)
Thirteen Hours - Meghan O'Brien

2008 Favorite Anthology:
A Little Book of Big Christmas Tales - Anne Azel
Best Lesbian Love Stories 2009 - Simone Thorne (editor)
Chilling Tales of Terror and the Supernatural - Patty G. Henderson (editor)
Island Girls - Simone Thorne (editor)
Toe to Toe: Standing Tall and Proud - C Tierney (editor)
Wetter - Nicole Foster (editor)

2008 Favorite Mystery Book:
Calling the Dead - Ali Vali
Hotel Liaison - JLee Meyer
Land of Entrapment - Andi Marquette
Partners - Gerri Hill
Secrets So Deep - KG MacGregor

2008 Favorite Adventure Book:
A Pirate's Heart - Catherine Friend
Branded Ann - Merry Shannon
Lethal Affairs - Kim Baldwin/Xenia Alexiou
Fast Break - Mickey Minner
The Sea Captain and The Lady - Vada Foster
To Hold Forever - Carrie Carr

Thank you to all who voted. And special thanks to the writers on the list. Without you we readers would have nothing to read, nominate or vote for.
Jo Fothergill
LFRCA Administrator

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Ever feel, like me, that your book is outstanding, the reviews have been great, people seem to love it, but sales are disappointing? I believe that many small press authors share that same sinking feeling. Well now Amazon has launched a new program to increase visibility for those hidden gems.

From Amazon: "Even great books can be overlooked. Amazon customers raved over “Legacy,” a self-published novel by 16-year-old Cayla Kluver, with customer review titles such as “loved it, loved it,” “rich lyrical tapestry and story” and “breathtaking in scope and execution!” Despite winning several prizes from literary groups and accolades like this from readers, Kluver’s debut novel achieved only modest sales., Inc. today announced a new program, AmazonEncore,” to help readers discover exceptional books from emerging authors, such as the program’s first book, “Legacy.”"

Read more information here:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thanks For Your Support and Advice

I’m using today’s post to say a grateful thank you to all the wonderful people who commented on, and sent me emails, about my blog article posted yesterday about performing a reading at the National Queer Arts Festival.

This really goes back to what I said in my recent series about why I love writing, that is, the writers I’ve meet through this process of publishing and marketing my book have been the most supportive people I’ve ever known. It is such a brilliant feeling to know that so many people, really talented people, are pulling for me. There is no competitiveness among writers. When one wins, we all win, and I love that attitude. I received more than a dozen comments and emails with very helpful advice, and I’m planning on using much of it.

For those of you who have a fear of speaking in public, as I do, I’ll share some of the helpful comments:

1. Many people mentioned practicing reading the passage every day, and while reading to ignore everything else and become absorbed in the story. And if possible, read into a digital recorder so I can view my progress.

2. Several people mentioned gathering a group of friends, even some very critical friends, and read the chosen passage to them at least once, perhaps multiple times to different groups. (wish I had that many friends living close by)

3. Two different people offered to listen as I read the passage and to critique my ‘showmanship’. One is quite a distance away but still offered to pick up the phone charges. (Bryl, you are so, so sweet.)

4. Another, who has read Island Song, told me to simply stay focused on what a wonderful story it is. Focus on the story, not me, not the audience, but the story. It is a great story and I should feel proud to present it to people, like introducing your child to guests.

5. Enid mentioned putting a contest together to select the best scene to read. Nice idea, but the committee has already determined which scene they want me to read. It apparently is very structured.

6. I think the advice that rang truest for me was to stay in the moment and read from the heart, letting the passion of the story come through.

There were several more comments, and everyone who contacted me was both gracious and kind. Thank you all for your advice and support.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alan Chin will read at the National Queer Arts Festival

I’d like to share some, hopefully, good news. Starting May 31, San Francisco will host the month-long, 12th annual National Queer Arts Festival (see below), and as part of the venue, a group called GuyWriters will be presenting literary readings at the LGBT Community Center. They have asked me to attend and perform a reading from my novel, Island Song, on Friday, June 12th, starting at 7:30. I say “hopefully good news” because the first time I performed a book reading I became so nervous that I flubbed it up, big time.

So mark your calendars for June 12th if you’re planning to be in the foggy city, and drop in and see if I go 0-for-2 or managed to salvage my self-respect. Vegas is giving three-to-one odds on the former. The great news is that this gay writers group as also invited me to become an active member of their club. Guess someone there must have read Island Song and liked it.

The Queer Cultural Center Presents
The 12th Annual National Queer Arts Festival
May 31 – July 11, 2009 — San Francisco

San Francisco, CA… The National Queer Arts Festival (NQAF), now celebrating its 12th year, is a month-long festival of music, dance, visual art, spoken word, poetry, comedy, theater, and film featuring over 400 artists in 70 events and over 100 performances in 18 venues throughout San Francisco.

And for lovers of GLBT literature, GuyWriters returns to the National Queer Arts Festival on June 12th with a fabulous evening of poetry, prose and plays about love, relationships and community. Celebrating their fifth anniversary, this literary reading will be held at the LGBT Community Center in San Francisco and will feature a special guest writer to be announced.

More information on the National Queer Arts Festival is found here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Definition of Political Correctness

My good friend Victor Banis sent me this and it's too great not to share.

Sometimes you are encouraged about our country's future when you see something like this.

Specifically, there is an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term: This year's term was “Political Correctness.”

The winner wrote: "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
R. J. Wiedemann LtCol. USMC Ret

This guy has nailed it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part VI

For the final chapter in my series on why I love writing, I will focus on the reader. After all, they are the reason we writers slave so diligently to get every word perfect, hone the rhythm of the prose and give our characters so much grief.

There are few things that give me more satisfaction than getting an email from a reader or reviewer who has read my work and taken the time to contact me to let me know how much they enjoyed it. Sharing with others is a blessing, and when they appreciate that gift, it fills me with a satisfaction that warms me to my marrow.

And the remarkable thing that happens when someone new reads my novel is that they filter what I have written through their own life experiences, and in so doing the story takes on different dimensions, unintended meanings, and changes to conform to their way of understanding the world. I love that the story is slightly different for each person that reads it, and that so many people have found meaning or beauty where I had never intended it.

This sharing that goes on between writer and reader, we offer them our creativity and they give back their appreciation, is one of the key things that helps me trudge on through those periods of doubt and those times when I wonder why the hell I’m working so hard to please a handful of people I’ve never met. All it takes is one fan letter and my doubts crumble. Readers are a rejuvenating balm. If I could bottle that feeling, I would be a very rich man indeed.

So to complete this series I’d like to share a sampling of letters I’ve received from readers. I believe you’ll see why I’m so enthusiastic about getting them.

I finished Island Song and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed it. I felt that I had read something that didn't underestimate me as a reader. The use of language not only in descriptions but as a descriptive of the beauty of the language. (I know what I mean but of course I'm having trouble explaining!). The writing is beautiful.

I was afraid that as I generally read mysteries and sci fi, that I would be disappointed in the story. But in some ways Island Song is sci fi - you create an entire world, a mystical world. I'm glad I found your writing through the GWR list.Eric


Hi Alan,
Well, I found and purchased 'Island Song' on fictionwise and I've just finished reading it. WOW!!!!....what a brilliant, brilliant novel! I'm totally in awe of your writing and creativity. I haven't even fully processed the novel (or the many emotions it drew out of me), but even though I've just finished it, I'm very eager to go back and read it again.
I truly hope you will be writing more and look forward to reading anything, and everything you come up with.

Congratulations on a true masterpiece,


All I can say is...WOW! I want more!!WOOHOO!! I'm proud of you and excited too because I truly LOVED your book!

I have to tell you, I am honest in my reviews, and if something is not 'good', I'll figure out a way to say it, believe me. Your book, Island Song is one of the most Inspirational stories I have ever read. I don't know for the life of me why you shelved it under Paranormal Erotic Romance. I found it not erotic at all, which is NOT a bad thing...I can encourage many more of my friends to read it now, and I am so impressed with your style and the way you're able to be highly descriptive without being boring (I don't often find that, let me tell you.)! I'm not even sure I would have labeled it Paranormal. I loved the way you approached sensitive issues and pertinent life lessons without preaching. To me, your book was THE INSPIRATIONAL ADVENTURE of a lifetime.

I wish you much success in your future endeavors, and for god's sake, get me another freaking book ASAP!!! Beautiful, beautiful story!

Sincerely, and from one that is Not easily impressed,Bryl

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part V

Today I’d like to continue my week-long discussion of why I love writing by focusing on the end product. All the long hours and months and sometimes years of work all lead to a competed book that you can hold in your hands, feel the texture, see the print, smell the ink and read the prose. It is such a brilliant feeling of accomplishment, like no other. Although I would hardly consider it a pinnacle in my life, holding my novel for the first time gave me a feeling of such intense delight that I’m sure I had never experienced that feeling before that moment. Other authors tell me that you feel those intense emotions with each new book, and I can’t wait to find out if that is true.

Earlier this year I stopped off for a few weeks in Japan on my way back from a four-month trek through Southeast Asia. While in Japan, I exhausted my reading material. The only book I had left that I hadn’t read on the trip was a copy of my own novel, Island Song. So I took it to a park in Tokyo and, snuggled amid the blooming cherry trees, I read my novel. It was the first time I had ever read it without trying to edit the prose or change the story. I read it for the simple pleasure of reading a story that I love. I’ve heard from several writers that they never read their work once they have finished with it, but I found a quiet elation in rereading my novel. It had been a year since I had last proofread it, so I had forgotten much of the details. Some of it surprised me that it was written so well, and I often had a tinge of fear that my next novel, due out in September, will not measure up to Island Song. But the marvelous thing is, the book is there on the shelf and I can revisit the story and get reacquainted with the characters any time I wish. I love that.

When I look at that book now, what I see is something that will survive me. Perhaps it’s simply a trick of my ego, but I envision, long after my death, people picking up my work for the first time and finding a small joy in what I’ve left for them. I like to think my work will survive, and that means that in a minute way I will survive also, because so much of me has spilled onto those pages.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part IV

Unlike yesterday, I had a very productive morning. I started by catching up on all my email, moved right into contacting my security software provider to fix a problem with my system’s firewall, which they repaired in under thirty minutes, and by 9 a.m. I was editing the novel I’ve been nurturing for the past several months. The novel effectively managed to pull me into the story while still paying close attention to editing the prose, which brings me to today’s topic of why I love writing novels.

In addition to spending time with my husband, there are two pastimes that I very much love – traveling to foreign countries and writing stories. I love those two activities for the same reason, they allow me to immerse myself in an alien culture and allow me to interact with diverse and sometimes strange people. The advantage writing has over traveling is that it’s way cheaper and it allows me to control every aspect of the journey. I control who lives and who dies, what they do, every word they speak and how the world reacts to them. And if I don’t like the tangent that my characters have gone off on or the new twist in the plot or a million other details, I can rewind and do it over. In fact, what normally happens is that I keep doing everything over and over until I think I can no longer improve it (which is a trick of the ego because stories can always be improved). In my stories I’m God, and it’s fun playing God.

But one of the interesting things about long fiction is, once I set all the parameters, define the main characters, the story’s direction and established the pacing, a funny thing happens: even though I’m God and have the final say, my characters begin to make decisions on their own, regardless of my original intentions, like Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. Once the characters and storyline establish themselves, they take on a life of their own, and I’m there going along for the ride. That’s another joy of writing (like traveling), that feeling of discovery. I, of course, can overrule my characters and keep them on the straight and narrow, but I’ve learned to listen to my characters, to let them tell their stories, err … I mean my story … or is it their story?

The funny thing is, that’s when I know the story is good, when it comes to life. So I keep adding my two cents, but I also try to keep my ego in check, so that my characters can find their own way.

No matter what I’m doing, there is always a little back and forth tussle going on in my head between me and my characters. They whisper to me, I argue back. They insist, I stamp my foot. They plead, I give in. It’s that dance I was talking about in an earlier post, the dance with Creativity. It doesn’t only happen when I’m sitting in front of the computer composing prose. It goes on all the time, and I love it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part III

Today was the day from hell as far as writing goes. Had an argument with my spouse this morning, which left me walking the dog after making my own breakfast. Then, as I was getting into planning the day’s work and pulling myself into that creative space, two friends unexpectedly showed up at my door to play tennis. I say unexpectedly because I had forgotten we had scheduled today for a tennis day and social lunch. My bad. The short story is, my work plans were blown to bits, which brings me to today’s topic of why I love writing – freedom to work at my own pace.

There are two great aspects to this freedom I speak of. The first is to schedule my own time based on motivation and time available. After twenty years of working in a office and doing the daily grind in order to meet project deadlines, I love being able to say “I don’t have time for work today” or “I’ll push that off until tomorrow because I’m simply not in the mood.” I work for myself, so if I want to take a day or even a week off there is nobody to flog me but myself. That said, I can honestly say that I now work harder than I ever have in my life. I’ve migrated into a funny situation where the work drives me rather than the other way around. Still, when things come up, I can push the work aside and deal with life.

The second aspect of freedom I’d like to mention is the freedom of location. With my writing, I’m not bound to an office. I can work anywhere I can plug in my laptop, and I can market my books anywhere I can gain access to the internet. That is a tremendous freedom. I love to travel, and I spend four to six months of the year trekking the world. I’ve just returned from a five month trip through Southeast Asia, where I worked nearly every day. Although I’m not nearly as productive when I’m on the road, I do have a daily routine where I writer at least two hours each day.

Working for myself allows me the freedom to work as I choose, and also deal with all the other wonderful things in life as they come up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part II

I would first like to thank the people who left thoughtful and supportive comments on yesterday’s article about what I love about writing. Many of you writers shared similar feelings, which brings me to today’s topic of why I love writing:

For the last year I have been networking with dozens of writers in an effort to promote my gay-romance novel, Island Song. And in doing so, I’ve learned much about writing and publishing, but more importantly, I’ve learned that we all share many common experiences. I’m not simply talking about that wonderful dance we do with our imaginations when we touch Creativity. I’m also thinking of the insecurity of selling ourselves to total strangers, about the bruised egos after receiving a less that stunning review or the joy of a great review, about realizing that many close friends and family couldn’t be bothered with reading your work, about the frustration of throwing open the internet window and shouting that you’ve produced a magnificent book – and nobody listens. I could go on and on. But what this common-experience realization has done for me is to create a bond with these other writers.

I have grown to love this bond with other highly-creative people. It’s an interesting bond, like strangers suddenly finding themselves in a life raft on the high seas with no land in sight. We pull together, support each other. There are no feelings of competitiveness. One writer’s success means we all succeed, it’s a celebration for each of us.

Writers, I’ve found, have fragile souls. We reach deep inside and pour ourselves on the page like no other art form does. And I think it takes another writer to understand that frailty, and to support it. It’s become a huge comfort that I’m hooked up with colleagues who understand my fragility.

I also find that these marvelously supportive people make me stretch to become a better writer, to improve my craft. Not that I feel the need to impress them. It’s more a feeling that I don’t want to let them down by publishing something substandard. They make me stretch, they help me grow as a writer and a person. And in a strange kind of way, I’ve come to love them for their understanding and support, and for the bond we have sculpted together.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why I Love Writing - Part I

For the next few days, perhaps even several, I will be writing a series of posts exploring why I love writing. I say exploring because I don’t currently know the reasons, but I will attempt to investigate the part of me that finds joy through the process I call creativity. This will be a journey of discovery for me as well as for readers out there.

I would first like to touch on a phenomenon I have experienced many times, and I am always awed and very grateful when it occurs. I call it, touching Creativity.

I look at creativity as something much larger than what goes on in my head when I write. I see it as weaving through this wondrous universe, something that infiltrates all life and binds us life forms together. Some people call it God, others call it Life. I call it Creativity. When I write I feel myself open up to this force. I sometimes feel it in the room with me as I struggle over some bit of prose, as if it were something substantial hovering above me, like a muse.

When I let go of my own ego-driven thoughts and just let the words flow, this force seems to take over, to replace me and spill onto the page. At other time, it seems to draw what I need to me.

For example, last week I found that a line from a Yeat’s poem I had used in my upcoming release of Changi, I had also used the same line in my first published novel, Island Song. So, red faced, I pulled out my volume of Yeat’s works to search for different poem. Before even scanning the table of contents, I randomly opened the volume to a middle page and read the first poem – it was perfect, exactly what I was hoping for. I flipped to a different page and read another poem only to find that it was perfect as well. Coincidence? I don’t believe in chance. I believe that Creativity guided me, and the reason I have come to believe this is because it has not happened in only a few isolated circumstances. It happens often.

When it does happen, when I feel something larger than myself take over, guiding my thoughts, my fingers, a joy washes though me. I am not a religious person, don’t believe in a God, but I must say that at times these feelings seem spiritual.

There is something out there binding life together, and tapping into that force never fails to amaze and delight me. It is probably my most passionate motivation for writing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Review of The Academician – Southern Swallow – Book I

The Academician – Southern Swallow – Book I
By Edward C. Patterson
(PUBLISHER: CreateSpace, March 4, 2009, $11.99)

Reviewed by Alan Chin

Edward Patterson takes the reader deep into ancient China, during the Sung dynasty, when the Emperor was considered the “Son of Heaven” and vast armies trembled at his every whim. Out of this rich history comes the riveting journey of one man, Li K’ai-men, that begins at his graduation from an academy where he studied under a venerable master, to his rein over a province ruined by the previous corrupt administrators, to his appointment as Grand Tutor to the ninth son of the Emperor in the capital city of K’ai-feng. When warring hoards from the north threaten the safety of the realm, Li K’ai-men must use his sharp intelligence and a bit of magic to take extraordinary measures to save his life, his family, and liege lord. Li K’ai-men’s journey, which includes a rather touching relationship with his male lover, Fu Lin-t’o, is told through the eyes of K’u Ko-ling, Li K’ai-men’s rather clownish manservant who was the son of a cowcumber farmer.

Edward Patterson stretches his considerable talents in this daring novel that mixes history with fantasy. This story is a vivid, imaginative, and often humorous romp through a pivotal point in Chinese history. It has surprising power, with images that grab hold of you and don’t let go. In the midst of this fanciful tale, Patterson creates a heartwarming gay love story. The love interest is not the main plot, however, but rather a tantalizing spice spread over the plot.
The author uses a technique that I have seen only once before. The narrator starts and finishes each chapter with his 1st person point of view, but the bulk of the story is told in 3rd person. I found these POV switches to be seamless, and greatly added to developing the depths of the main characters. This is a character driven story, and Patterson skillfully allows us see these characters to their core.
I had only two problems with this story. The first problem was that because there were a host of minor characters, and the Chinese names were somewhat confusing, I had some trouble telling them apart. The second issue was that this is the first novel in a series, which means that it sets the stage for much more story to come. I was left with a feeling of incompleteness, and somewhat miffed that I must wait for another installment or two to finish the story. The plot is complex, which combines with his consummate skill at crafting prose and his well-researched details to keep the reader fully engaged until the last page. I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys multifaceted characters, humor, and a well-crafted story.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Early Mother's Day

Because of chaotic family commitments over the next few weeks, my family is gathering today for an early Mother's Day celebration -- a quiet dinner at my sister's house. So to help get me in the party mood, I'd like to share a few thoughts on Mama and her day, which, by the way, should come around more than once per year, don't you think? Perhaps once per month should be adopted.

I came across the following quote this morning, and it made me think of my mother:
I will make love my greatest weapon and none on who I call can defend against its force....My love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest day.- Og Mandino

My mother is a tough woman who lived through harsh times. Although she doesn’t admit it, life dealt her meager hand -- deaf, little education, married to an alcoholic -- she raised four kids by the force of her love. Yes, she is tough.

In my more than half century of living I have never once questioned her love and steadfast commitment to making me a better person by the shear force of her love. That mother/child bond is such a powerful force that sweeps so deeply that my eyes are tearing as I type.

Yet, I must admit that I’d forgotten the family plans today. I had a full day of work planned, and when my husband came into my office to remind me we were leaving at noon, I momentarily became miffed that family commitments were once again interrupting my writing schedule. It is times like this when I realize that I've become a workaholic and should seek help... Left brain asks: Is it really a bad thing to indulge in what you love doing, as long as it's not destructive? Right brain responds: Yes, when others are hurt from your neglect.

The angry feelings only lasted a minute and now I'm looking forward to a long drive and yummy dinner with the family, many of whom I haven't seen in several months. The writing will easily wait another day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Going back to school, Blogging School

In these days of internet access which reaches a global audience, the days of authors traveling from city to city and bookstore to bookstore to promote their work before a captive audience is going the way of the dinosaurs, horse-drawn buggies and Hula Hoops.

Today authors who wish to promote their books do so from the comfort of their own office. And instead of visiting different cities, they spend a great deal of time visiting blogs and social networking sites.

With the goal of improving my book promotion skills, I’ve signed up to participate in a class that teaches newbie authors (like me) how get the most visibility from their own blogs, and also to organize a whirlwind book tour, which these days means a blog tour.

The classes are all online, there are dozens of other students who offer support and encouragement, and best of all, it’s FREE!!

Well, actually it’s not free; it just doesn’t cost money. The price for admission is a willingness to show up every day, pay attention, support other students, and write a blog entry EVERY DAY. So there is actually quite a bit of work involved.

The new three-month session started May 1 with an agenda that follows this format:
Month 1 - improving your blogs
Month 2 - social networking and marketing
Month 3 - finding hosts and planning your tour stops
Month 4 - supporting each other's blog book tours

They offer a guide to get everyone started at:

For anyone interested in joining the Fall classes, all the info you need is at:

Happy Blogging.