Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lambda Lit Love

I'm so happy! Finalists for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced, and 'Every Time I Think of You' is a finalist in the Gay Romance category!

Back in 1999, when I published my first novel, PINS, self-published books were not eligible. Things have changed since then. Book publishing has changed, of course. Economic hardships have forced a new independence in publishing, particularly for LGBT authors. It's great that Lambda Lit has expanded their categories to accommodate the growing diversity of titles.

With such literary powerhouses as Colm Tóibín, Paul Russell and Alan Hollinghurst in the Gay Fiction category, I doubt my small fourth novel would have made it. Of course, were I a betting man, I'd say that Jay Bell's Something Like Summer is the front-runner for Gay Romance. With more than 100 online reviews and a film deal in the works, it's definitely won an audience, and like mine, is apparently self-published as well. I look forward to reading it and my other "competition."

But the great thing is simply to be nominated. That may sound insincere when coming from some actor on a red carpet. But for me it's true. A nomination means lots of attention for all the finalists, and hopefully, an expanded readership. Even Entertainment Weekly posted about the Lammies.

Homocentric's Hank Henderson mentioned my book's nomination, among others. Thanks!

For Bay Area residents, a reading of Northern California Lambda Lit finalists will be held at the San Francisco Public Library, Tuesday, April 24. More on that later.

I'll be doing a live web radio interview with Nate Klarfled on Stonewall Live, April 12. 9pm EST, 6pm PST.

Here's Lambda Lit's mention. Here's the link to listen in, live, or later on as an archived version.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Early on in my fourth novel, Every Time I Think of You, a few 1970s references give the book a sense of place. I didn't overdo it or get lost in campy nostalgia. But there were certain cultural signposts that helped shape the book. The following reference implies a parallel between the Collins family and the dysfunctional Forresters, whom the narrator, Reid, meets as his romance with Everett begins:

Chapter 2 (excerpt)

“You live here?” I asked as we approached the largest mansion on the block, an imposing red brick Tudor house with a huge porch, a three-car garage, and a coned tower at one corner of the roof. I remembered being daunted by it on my childhood Halloween visits.
“Usually,” he replied.
“What’s up top?” I asked.
“Just part of the attic,” he said. “Why?”
“I dunno. I think that pointy roof–”
“The turret?”
 “Yeah. It’s what made the older kids think…”
I hesitated. In the few post-virginal minutes I’d spent with this handsome guy, he appeared to me a vision of lustful perfection, but might as quickly disappear from my life if I insulted his home.
But out it came. “They used to call your house Collinwood.”
“Oh, jeez,” he snorted. “From Dark Shadows?”
“You townies. You’re a hoot. Come on.”


And today, the trailer for Tim Burton's obviously campy film version of the TV show Dark Shadows, which stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, Helena Bonham Carter and a host of other talented actors, was released. It show that it's going to be a comedy campfest.
I, and no doubt many other fans, had hoped for more. But it seems inevitable that Burton and crew would indulge in the retro wackiness of the premise. It'll surely be enjoyable, but just not the film it could have been.
Here's the trailer:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Leap 'Frog'

This has very little to do with my new book.
But I attended the opening of the Asian American Film Festival and made a short video of the post-screening Q&A of Quentin Lee's new film, White Frog.

The film stars Booboo Stewart (the Twilight Saga), Harry Shum, Jr. (Glee), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf), B.D. Wong (M.Butterfly, Oz), and Joan Chen (The Last Emperor)!

It's a very sweet film with some handsome young actors and veterans of stage and screen. Gay and disability themes are an important part of the script.

Here's my clip:

Here's the trailer.

I hope White Frog gets a distribution deal. It's very sweet, with an uplifting message, and a cute cast.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Like any occasionally self-absorbed writer, I ego-surf. Okay, I do it daily.
I'm fascinated by the ins and outs of web searches, meta-tags, rankings and, most important, sales. It all comes down to popularity.

Even though I've only received one 5-star review so far, the paperback edition of Every Time I Think of You is now listed at #18 in Gay Fiction.

This is in spite of the fact that I deliberately chose not to make the smarter move of including people - let alone hunky shirtless male people - on the cover. Perhaps that was a bad marketing move. Perhaps not. For me, the cover says what the book is about in many ways. As a book, it looks good. But another minor mistake I think I made was using white on part of the cover, which makes it a bit distorted and washed out on any white-backgrounded web page, like Amazon.com.

I've tried several different marketing techniques on a small scale. Facebook ads worked, but were expensive; fifty cents a click-through, basically. Good Reads internal ads are doing okay. I may consider the new trend of placing regionally focused ads on major blogs. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus is doing this now for their upcoming concert, Enchantingly Wicked, a variety songs by Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz. I had the privilege of attending a preview mini-concert last week, and the repertory, along with a new song by Schwartz in response to the 'It Gets Better' anti-bullying campaigns, is guaranteed to be a show-stopper.

What's great about the SFGMC's ad campaign is that while you're surfing a nationally recognized blog like Towleroad, you get a localized ad for their concert. This is a case where the feared Internet privacy concerns are, in part, actually a good thing. Targeting an audience helps everyone. Why would you want to get ads for something you don't want?

For example, when I go to Google while logged in with my iGoogle account, I get a self-reflection of my own interests. My book and blog came up at the top of my searches for my new book's title alone. A regular search while not logged in brought similar results, but other "non-me" results were shown in their relatively truthful popularity; ranked lower, but more truthfully.

So, the book is gaining momentum. The Write Agenda posts a list of non-traditionally published books ranked by sales or popularity on Amazon.com. It seems my new book is worth listing.

But the best form of gaining "popularity" is word of mouth, or, in Internet-ese, link-ularity. If only a few of the hundreds of people who've bought it in Kindle and paperback editions would post a simple review, the book's rank would stay in the top listings in various categories, thus becoming visible to other potential buyers.

It's simple; popularity builds popularity. Even Amazon.com doesn't use the term "bestselling" anymore, but the term "popular."

Published reviews have been slow in coming, and that may be my fault. I sent review copies to several regional LGBT publications, most of which unfortunately publish very few book reviews. The few books that do get published reviews there are more major works, like the new books by authors Christopher Bram and Edmund White.

My new book is by no means groundbreaking. It's romantic, corny, a bit sentimental, yet it straddles some interesting genres; romance, gay fiction, and the sub-genre of disability, which is surprisingly diverse. But these don't add up to mainstream popularity, and I'm fine with that. If I wanted to be really "popular," I'd have penned a porny mystery thriller about vampire-hunting hunks. There's nothing wrong with such a book. It's just not my thing.

So, if it does come down to popularity, is my new book sort of the Ephelba in the Ozian world of publishing? Hardly, although the color green does come into play. But if it does get a little help from you Glinda-types out there - you know you're prettier - then great! Post a review, click a link, share and reshare. Help this little green nerd defy the gravity of indie marketing limitations.

UPDATE: I just got a wonderful review on Elisa Rolle's blog, one of the more popular and prolific of book blogs. This is invaluable! Thanks to Elisa.