Saturday, December 17, 2011

Aspen Mountain Press Breach of Contract and Suspension of Operations

Sandra Hicks
Aspen Mountain Press
18121-C East Hampden Ave., Ste. 221
Aurora, CO 80013

Dear Sandra:

My initial letter to you dated August 8, 2011, requesting my copy of the
signature page of my contract was signed for by an agent at the above address,
sent via certified US mail, article number 7011 1150 0001 7181 1739, was never
answered. My email sent to your account on August 17, 2011, requesting copies
of royalty statements was never answered. Finally, my second request for the
signature page and royalty statements sent to you via certified US mail, article
number 7011 1150 0001 7181 9339, in a letter dated September 20, 2011, signed
for by an agent at the above address, was never answered.

Therefore, I consider Aspen Mountain Press in breach of contract according to
Section XVI.A of my contract: “If either party breaches this Agreement,
the non-breaching party shall provide written notice by certified mail to the
breaching party of the alleged breach. Upon receipt of such notice, the
breaching party shall have ninety (90) days to cure. At the expiration of such
ninety (90) day period, upon failure to cure this Agreement shall terminate,
except as otherwise provided herein or otherwise agreed in writing by both
parties hereto.” I am exercising my right to early termination according
to Section XVI.E: “Author is granted the right of early termination if
the Publisher had breached this agreement”, and Section XVIII:
“Author and Publisher agree to use best efforts to fulfill their
respective obligations under this Agreement. In the event that situation arises
not covered by this Agreement or in the event of an alleged breach by either
party, Author and Publisher agree to use a common-sense construction of this
Agreement and negotiate in good faith to resolve such issues prior to resorting
to legal action.”

Also, as stated by Section XIX of my contract, "If Publisher suspends operations
for more than sixty (60) continuous days, other than for technical difficulties
such as a loss of Web Server, all rights hereunder shall immediately revert to
Author". As of today, December 17, 2011, Aspen Mountain Press has not been
operating for sixty days.

Since I have on several occasions made efforts in good faith to resolve the
situation, but because my requests for the materials have been ignored and
unanswered, I find that all attempts to negotiate have broken down. As such,
all rights to the work originally contracted to Aspen Mountain Press to publish,
promote, and distribute, "But I Never Said I Didn’t Love You", have
reverted back to me per Sections XVI.A and XIX of my contract. I am currently
under no legal obligation and give public notice that I am reclaiming these
rights immediately.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I shaved my legs for THIS?!

As with many writing projects, my 2007 NaNoWriMo effort The Gay Man's Guide to Love, Cats, and Other Mysteries of Life (shortened to The Gay Man's Guide to Love, Cats, and Other Mysteries for the CreateSpace offer of a free copy of the finished product) evolved into Fault Applications of Earth Logic, based on one of the characters trying to apply logic to his current situation. Well, all that was well and good but something about the story wasn't quite right. I couldn't quite get my head around one of the character's motivations for doing what he did; none of the explanations I came up with sounded...logical.

For some crazy reason, I got the idea to mash up Faulty Applications of Earth Logic with a trunked novel I hadn't touched in years but never really forgot. It was an urban fantasy about magic users and something about a coming unpleasantness or another and blah blah the blah. Lots of great characters and situations but, jeez, the actual story sucked. This is one of the shining examples I always look back upon when I'm talking about how I learned how to write conflict correctly. Because there really wasn't any conflict, I quickly ran out of story and interest.

The main elements I carried over were the urban fantasy and magic users. Most of the story from Faulty Applications of Earth Logic remained, however; oddly enough, the magic element gave me a clearer picture on the motivation of the character that had vexed me so.

Oh, yeah, it's still a m/m romance. I don't think I can give that up.

Now. I thought I'd given myself enough time to work on this mash-up/rewrite so that it would be finished in time for NaNo, but i really hadn't. I was working on Kitchen Witch, the new title, during the first half of November. I was in a bit of a crunch because Musa Publishing was closing to new submissions for the holiday season on November 15. I finally holed up in a Barnes & Noble cafe on the 13th and forced myself to finish the query. Oh, God, that query. Two hours to write it, and I agonized for over 45 MINUTES on one word. But I got it out and settled back for The Wait.

Around Thanksgiving, my 90-day wait for Aspen Mountain expired. I had sent a final letter asking for the contract breaches to be rectified, which gave the publisher 90 days to fix according to my contract. Nothing had changed in that time, so I sent a letter invoking my contract and letting the publisher know my rights had reverted back to me. When I got the return receipt card in the mail, I felt incredibly relieved that it was finally over. I mentioned this a couple days later in a forum post to the editorial director at Musa, who was the editor of my first novel But I Never Said I Didn't Love You, and her response was "Well, we'd better get this puppy fired up".

A few hours later, I saw her recent post in the same forum thread, which was the first thing I saw when I logged on: "Oh, by the way. We're contracting Kitchen Witch, as well. Congratulations!"

I made some noises that were a cross between a gasp, a gag, a laugh, and a choke, scaring the cat and making Peter what the hell was wrong with me. I'd gotten TWO OFFERS for publication in one evening.

The e-contracts arrived a few hours later, and I got them signed and sent off. No sense waiting around for it to happen by itself. So begins the next round of The Wait: release dates.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And I thought 2007 was a PITA...

2007 I had to deal with doing National Novel Writing Month in temporary digs because our apartment was being remodeled after a flood two months before.

This year was a bit more emotional for me because of the entire Aspen Mountain Press debacle and because of upheaval at the Dreaded Day Job. The middle of November to the second week of January has always been insane, but because of program and department changes, it's been worse. I don't even remember this sort of insanity when I'd first started back in 1994.

We've been on mandatory two hours overtime a day, almost since before Halloween, and it's been wearing me down. Vacations and absences have caused us to double up and re-double up on our daily tasks, and leaving me precious little time after work for anything. I've been getting out around 6:00 and if I do something like go to the grocery store afterwards, I'm lucky if I get home around 8:30 (if I get really crazy and plan ahead to buy at least four meals' worth of food, I'll be home around 9:00). Max always vocalizes his displeasure with this arrangement because he's used to getting his kitty treats around 8:00, but when have you ever known a cat to "chill"?

And who knew you could teach a cat how to tell time?!

But I digress.

I went into NaNo this year with the specter of a rewrite of 2007's entry (no. Srsly.) so I could get it out for possible publication. Add to that misery the delight of writing a query, laboring over ONE SINGLE WORD and hating every thesaurus in my sight (they were all broken, even the print editions, because they all had the wrong words in them) for nearly two hours and getting it out near the beginning of November really took its toll on me. I thought I could do both and get the submission out of the way first, but that added pressure almost killed NaNo for me this year. I got the submission out about a couple days later, I had a serious crisis of faith. I seriously doubted my ability to finish NaNo but was convinced to continue since I usually build up some decent word overage so I don't have to worry about falling too far behind.

Well, guess who's eight for eight.

Of course, it doesn't help the story would take an entirely new direction just about every single day. What I've dubbed "The Flashback From Hell" since I began the scene on November 19 and is what I've been writing since, is now probably going to be the opening chapter(s). I'm touching on a few things I may not keep since the subjects are still pretty much taboo, even for adult fiction, and it's so far removed from the opening lines, I have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing any longer.

But, um, yeah, here I am, at win #8. I'm probably going to try and follow this to its (il)logical conclusion since it actually is ripe with possibility. Just continues the trend, not counting last year where I just got sick of the story and quit three days early.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's that time of year again!

Once again, I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month, the 50,000-word novel challenge. It got me my first finished novel manuscript, which led to my first novel being published.

This year, I'm starting to flip back and forth between two ideas. One is a sequel to 2009's, which is even more interesting because I never finished it. Either way, both are ideas I've been kicking around for a while (2009's was a prequel for an unproduced screenplay I'd written on a whim. I learned two things from that experience: how a screenplay is formatted and I should stick to writing novels) so we'll see what happens.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seen this evening

The Aspen Mountain Press web site is temporarily suspending operations.

Over the past five years we've demanded high standards in all areas of the company from authors to editors to administrators. Due to the current health of the owner these standards have not been met.

We'd like to thank you for your support and patronage over this past half decade and apologize for any inconveniences this decision causes.

We'll see what comes of this, if anything.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Awgone! Bye-bye!

If you happen across All Romance eBooks's site with a hankering for some rommanical ebooks, chances are you'll notice something's missing.

Anything published by Aspen Mountain Press.

Through the diligence of a group of srsly pissed-off people, the entire catalog has been removed. I'm currently at work getting my listing removed from Amazon, so we'll see what comes of that.

It's depressing it's come to this, but I have no other choice. I have to protect my work and exercise my rights. It was actually rather cool to see my book on two prominent sites in the business, but I have to be prepared for what may or may not happen next. I can only wait and anybody who knows me knows patience is a virtue I lack.

Friday, October 7, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I've been an Apple whore since high school. We got to use Apple ]['s during an intro to data processing class I took, and I guess it's sort of like your first Bond is your favorite (not really. My first one was Roger Moore's turn in Live & Let Die, and I thought he was probably the most dorktastic one of the bunch). It was the first computer I got to use on any level, and the IBM PC's I encountered later were just too clunky for me to deal with.

I was working at a library when the Macintosh was released, and we received three for public consumption as part of an outreach program Apple sponsored. They were coin-operated, and it was $1 for 1 hour. You had a wide range of software to choose from: MacWrite or MacPaint, the two programs included out of the box. They got a fair amount of use during the time I was there.

The first guy I lived with had an Apple ][+ souped up to a ][e, including an 80-column card. Now. This was important way back when because an 80-column card meant you could get more text on the monitor. Granted, it was half the size of a standard 40-column view, but hey. IT WAS 80-COLUMN, DUDE. Two writing programs I used were Magic Window, a word processor that was horrible in execution -- the cursor remained stationary as the screen view moved back and forth as you typed -- and Newsroom, a precursor to desktop publishing. My friend Scot and I once spent a fevered night coming up with the first issue of our newspaper parody, and I spent more time formatting the thing in Newsroom than we did actually writing the thing. Each page was formatted with either six panels (three in two columns) or four panels and a banner headline, and each panel was formatted separately. When a panel was full, you had to move to the next and remember the format settings you used last time. So, yeah, if you were using Courier, you had to set each panel to Courier. There are at least three or more panels where I'd forgotten to change the settings and it switches to Helvetica or whatever the default was.

Later, I moved in with Peter and he had a Mac IIcx. I used it some for writing, but I later acquired a used Quadra 660AV (a.k.a. a Centris 660AV) from my uncle. I was also lucky enough to gain a modem in the package and was introduced to the wonderful world of America OnLine. (This was 1996, and I've graduated to DSL from the phone service since.) I began writing more during this time, especially when I was able to get a used PowerBook 5300cs. I remember carting that thing around and popping out the little feet in the back every time I opened it up and started it. Floppy disks, kids.

Scot later sold me his used Performa 6300, I think, which I'd still probably have used if I could have moved beyond Mac OS 9.2.2 until that crapped out. I still have it and as far as I know, it still works.

I moved up later to a G3 from a neighbor, which had been souped up (there's that word again...) because of his work at a game designer. I continued to use the PowerBook, even getting a reconditioned one after my first one crapped out because of age and use. I had to give up on that second one when it developed problems with the monitor that I couldn't fix, and I'd moved on to my Alphasmart Neo by then.

Along the way, Peter picked up a mini and about two years after that, I got one of my own. This was the first computer of my very own that I actually bought, as opposed to getting one used or reconditioned. It's served me well, and this year I also got my MacBook; imagine my surprise when not less than two months later the model was discontinued. Oh, well. Such is the shelf life of technology.

Yeah, a lot of people disparage Apple's products on a variety of levels, but I've always preferred them. You don't like Apple products? Don't buy them. And give me your iPhone and iPod and kwitcherbitchen.

Like many, I was saddened at the news of Steve Jobs' death this week. He put a lot of effort and grit into the company, and has worked to ensure a strong legacy. I'll probably be a fan of the products for a long time coming, and it's great his vision will continue.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You may have noticed something

I've removed the links to my novel But I Never Said I Didn't Love You because Aspen Mountain Press has failed me and my fellow authors. Contracts not being honored, books being sold when contracts have expired, statements not being sent with's just a mess right now. I've been screwed over since I've never received the signature page of my contract back with the publisher's signature on it, plus I'm missing four out of five royalty statements. Requests to send both have been ignored, so I've mailed a final request.

This is humiliating. It's my first book and while I couldn't have predicted such a predicament, it's embarrassing as all hell to have to go through it. Because of the actions of the publisher, I can no longer support the sales of my book and have stopped all promotion.

Further updates as they warrant.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011


As part of the Aspen Mountain Blog Tour, I ran a contest for a copy of my e-book But I Never Said I Didn't Love You and I'm pleased to announce Christi McMillen is the winner!

Christi, please contact me with your details and I'll forward them on for your e-book! Congratulations and thanks again for stopping by!

Blog Tour Winding Up!

Hey, everybody! Just wanted to take a moment this afternoon and say THANK YOU to everybody who stopped by and commented on my blog. Everybody who did is not only in the drawing for a free copy of my e-book But I Never Said I Didn't Love You, but you're also eligible to win a new Kindle Graphite! Winners will be announced at the AMP Community Loop later this evening, but if you're not able to join the festivities there, I'll also post them here.

Hope to see you!

Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Of course, one similarity between RT Booklovers' Convention and the myriad science fiction conventions I've been to over the years is the books. Certainly one would expect that from a convention with the word "booklover" in its title, but I wasn't prepared for the sheer number I'd come across.

Not counting the 3 I bought from Barnes & Noble in the dealer room:

2 were in the registration tote I received when I checked in
2 were from the Faery Ball, books placed on the tables as favors
1 was from the vampire ball, books on the tables again
4 were in the Mystery Chix mixer goody bag
7 were in the awards ceremony swag bag (you had to wait until the end of the ceremony to receive yours)
9 from the goody bag room (everybody got a ticket good for one trip, for up to 9 free books of your choice)
1 I just found on a table outside the main ballroom where most of the evening events were held.

I had to make a trip out to Walgreens to find some packing boxes and tape to ship the books back home. UPS loved me long time for how much I dropped in shipping stuff to and from the convention.

Yeah, I promised myself I'd exercise self control but, I mean, jeez. Come on. FREE BOOKS. If I didn't take them, somebody else would have!

Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's the clothes what make the man

There were plenty of opportunities for fun at RT Booklovers' Convention. It wasn't all panel-panel-panel-workshop-workshop-panel-panel-workshop-workshop-DEEP BREATH, though I think that about sums up my first 25 minutes at the convention.

One of the signature events is the Faery Ball, a masquerade dinner where everybody's encouraged to come in costume. Haven't been in costume at a con since 1996, I thought I'd give it a shot. My immediate mindset wasn't something cute and foofy, though. For my inspiration, I looked toward my favorite Disney villain, Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty. Not exactly as dark, sinister, or teh sexay, but it still got a great reaction from the crowd during the costume contest. The contestants were escorted across the stage by one of the entrants of the Mr. Romance contest (a.k.a. the "mangeant", the "meat contest", or "Mr. Cover Stud"), were given a little twirl, and had a chance to show off.

The MC saw me in line and howled with laughter. In fact, my escort and I even agreed that it'd be fun if he gave me the twirl at center stage and when I was about to leave, I'd whip open my fan, hold it up to block us, and kiss his cheek.

I don't think I've ever heard that many women scream like that when I'm involved.

This is a picture taken outside the ballroom, a green screen effect where you got to choose the backdrop. The wings I'm wearing are a heavy latex and they actually flapped when I walked.

The next evening was a zombie/vampire ball but I had to ditch that costume. Somewhere along the way, I'd accidentally thrown out the fangs I'd bought for the event, so I just wore what I had to the e-pub signing event earlier that afternoon. I decided to create a connection to my book But I Never Said I Didn't Love You and thought about something to wear related to it. Since there are lots of underwear jokes, I decided to look elsewhere for inspiration. Then it hit me: my character Callum wears a London Scottish Rugby League jersey in one scene so why not? Internet-bound I go and I found one on eBay.

There was another photo opportunity sponsored by Bobbi Smith, raising funds for a charity that supports families of people in the armed services. It was a picture of you with the cover studs, so I thought it'd be fun. I got into the group, a few of the guys hooting and hollering, waving "hang loose" hand signs at me and such.

The guy second from the left was my escort during the costume contest at the Faery Ball the night before. The guy to my right, next to my "thumbs up", won the Mr. Romance contest for a cool $125,000 cover deal. (There was also a drawing to be a judge for the contest, but alas and alack, it wasn't to be.) And the two guys standing to the far right of the picture weren't smiling in very many others, so it wasn't me.

Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

RT Booklovers' Convention vs. Real Life

I'd been to several science fiction conventions over the years, so when I decided to go to RT Booklovers' Convention, I thought I'd been sufficiently prepared.

I thought I had been.

The prep for other cons was nothing compared to what I had to do to get ready for RTCon. It was a whole new level, since I was going there with much more than myself to present. I had some extra promo postcards and refrigerator magnets featuring my book cover made, and I also brought the requisite treat for my space on Promo Row (coffee flavored candy. It disappeared by Saturday afternoon, so that was 4 pounds I didn't have to worry about hauling back [this, however, was offset by my book haul I brought home]). I had my costume for the Faery Ball, the wings needing to be shipped ahead because of the wire frame and my not wanting to get the TSA involved in...well...anything.

Conducting the Louisiana Purchase didn't require this much prep. I made Hannibal's famous trek through the Alps look like a Sunday afternoon at Lake Michigan.

Okay, I didn't bring that much stuff, but having to ship part of of it ahead and keep track of the rest of it traveling across the country through four airports makes me wonder.

And I only forgot my verboten liquids in my carry-on bag once.

Flash forward from April, to June. I'm rolling through my head what I brought with me for promo stuff and what I can do next year to improve it. The first thing I think of: BRING THE POSTCARDS THAT HAVE MY BOOK'S INFORMATION PRINTED ON THE BACK AND NOT THE ONES THAT ARE BLANK.


Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A bit more about me

Back in April, I attended my first RT Booklovers' Convention at the behest of my editor at AMP. It was a great idea, too, since it provided me with a large-scale opportunity to get to know the industry more. As part of the convention, I also attended the two-day pre-con writing workshop sponsored by author Bobbi Smith (if you're ever at a conference and you have the chance, stop and say hello. She's a really nice person). As part of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to submit a chapter for her annual Creative Writing Challenge for a chance at representation and possible publication, and since I was going all in this week, I submitted the first chapter of But I Never Said I Didn't Love You.

As much as I had to soak in during the workshop, I (barely) thought about it. During the final 15 minutes of the second day, Bobbi announced the three finalists who got to wear a special tag on their name badges to show off. Outside, I was all "oh, is it that time already?" and inside I was all "JUST ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS ALREADY!"

I was the first of the three finalists she announced.

Total shock. I hadn't expected to be published, I hadn't expected to be at the convention in a semi-professional capacity, and I certainly hadn't expected to be named a finalist my first time there.

Alas and alack, I didn't win but you know what they say at these things: THAT SHOULDA BEEN ME! THAT SHOULDA BEEN MY NAME SHE ANNOUNCED! I WUZ ROBBED!

Sorry. Wrong "you know what they say at these things". This isn't the year Kate Winslet was up against a real actress for an Oscar.

Later that evening, Bobbi provided some feedback and I told her that's what I was at the convention for: to hear these things, pick stuff up (besides the free books and other swag?), and hone my craft. Otherwise, it would have been a waste of everybody's time.

Plus, it's kinda fun to flip the recent issues of RT Book Reviews and the pictures on their website and say, "Oh, yeah! I was there! You can kinda sorta see my back and my ponytail! Hey! There's a picture where you can see my actual FACE!", or go "Hey, she was at the convention! So was she! So was he!"

Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Welcome to Andy Dunn's Stop

on the

Aspen Mountain Press Anniversary Blog Tour.

I hope you are enjoying your tour, and getting to know lots of New Authors so I guess now is a good time for me to shamelessly promote my book.

But I Never Said I Didn't Love You is a story about a newly divorced gay man encouraged to go out and find himself.

Callum should have come out years ago, but getting married seemed like the better idea. When his coworker Brian begins to flirt with him, Callum starts to question his earlier decision. Shortly after his divorce, Callum and Brian start dating. Nothing serious. Just a laugh and a pint or three at the pub.

Even though he's uncertain how strong his feelings are for Callum, Brian encourages him to see other guys. This backfires in a rather unexpected way. Callum meets his second boyfriend Simon. Simon might just be a better suitor - he's a bit more romantic and a lot less brash than Brian.

To read an excerpt Click here.

Okay Contest time to win a copy of my Book please comment on what was the most unexpected dating advice you have ever been given. Winners will be choosen on Monday August 8th. For all the Blog Tour Rules check out the main Blog.

Next up on the AMP Blog Tour is the AMP Author Website where you can get to know the authors and their characters. You can also chime in on what the best barbecue in the world is.

Click here to Continue on your Tour.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And now for my next trick...

Writting iz hrd. Letz go shoping.

I'm currently at work on a manuscript that's been giving me fits. It's another NaNoWriMo work that's gone through extensive changes, much of the original premise twisted to fit the new or gone entirely.

One thing that's been causing me serious hair-pulling and headaches is how I go about mentioning one character's back story. I don't know why it's been so difficult, but it's something I could probably go into without getting too deep, like a brief mention in description or dialogue.

But it hasn't been that easy.

I don't know if I'm having trouble with "show! don't tell!", but I just feel like it's unnecessary blather I'm writing to fill space and finish the book. This character has already mentioned his difficult coming back home and how he hasn't spoken to a lot of people because of his past history with them, so I should probably leave it at that. One chapter I started, stopped, started, stopped, and finally scrapped was supposed to show just how difficult it's been but it just began to feel like I was beating on the character for no other reason than to show how upset he is. Sort of like what's in the past is in the past BUT HERE IT IS YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT IT BECAUSE I'M HOLDING IT UP FOR YOU TO SEE.

That, and I've got them "second book blues" bearing down on me. I've done it once already, so I should be able to do it again, right? Right? Yeah, I've written stuff for NaNo every year since 2004, but I'm probably putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

And it doesn't help I'm trying to recycle as much of a previous draft into the current one as possible and getting absolutely lost in the process...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Aspen Mountain Press Blog Tour

Just a quick note to let everybody know I'll be on the upcoming Aspen Mountain Press 5th Anniversary Blog Tour. Click the banner at the top of the page for more details, and join us August 1 - 7 for the tour! There'll be fun, prizes, blogs, prizes, book discussion, prizes, general wackiness, DID I MENTION PRIZES?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Sorry for the gap. RT Booklovers' Convention in Los Angeles back in April (another post) took a lot out of me. I felt sorry for the people I stayed with and the online friend I finally met in person because I feel like I shortchanged them in the time department. They're really great folks, and I just wish I could have spent more time hanging out with them, especially in a city like Los Angeles. This was the third time I've been to California and like the previous trips, it's always been for something that's locked me into a schedule with little wiggle room.

And I can't fcuking stand that.

My fourth trip to California will have no structure, no schedule, no plans. I'll be going to go. Whenever I'm there next, I'll be there to hang out with people and there'll be time for coffee, conversation, and hijinx aplenty. While I took away A TON of great information from RT Booklovers' that's only going to help my writing career, I also understand the need to socialize, as was pointed out in both the program and at the RT Virgins panel. I'm an incredibly solitary creature, but I do feel the need every so often to get out there and be with others of my species.

(And circulating online, while a decent social tool, really can't substitute for a handshake, a smile, a warm hug. But that's another rant for another time.)

I've also been caught up in finishing a project I started shortly before RT Booklovers', which I completed yesterday, June 11. w00t. It's going to lie fallow for the next week before I attack it, but I have a couple other things I can work on during the lull. I'd also broke down and bought a MacBook after RT Booklovers', which has given me the opportunity to work on multiple writing projects at once. While I still love my Alphasmart Neo, it's gotten a bit too constricting since I can only do so much on it; there were too many times where I needed to see the whole project because of forgotten details ("Are Matt's eyes blue or green?") but I only had the files I'd been working on at the moment. It'll be a great tool come November for National Novel Writing Month, when I'll need the portability of a small word processor but none of the hassle or distraction of an internet connection. For right now, though, getting the MacBook has been a blessing and well worth the investment.

As mentioned earlier, I'll be running a post later on my RT Booklovers' experience, possibly even with a couple pictures!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Post-Con Crud

It's been a week since I've been home, and I have to say RT Booklovers' Conference was A BLAST. I felt overloaded because I made sure I had something to do every second of every minute of every hour (well, almost...); I was there mostly to learn as much as I could about the industry, but also to hang out and party a little.

Monday and Tuesday I attended Bobbi Smith's pre-con advanced aspiring authors' workshop, my note taking beginning in earnest and my Livescribe Pulse finally getting some extended use (got it last year at Macworld Expo). Part of the workshop involved submitting a chapter for Bobbi to review with the winner receiving further review by an agent for possible representation and possible publication. Imagine my shock at being named one of the finalists! I got to wear an extra tag on my name badge for the rest of the conference advertising this fact, which generated a lot of conversations with people. Alas and alack, I didn't win but it was an honor to have been nominated.

Probably one of the big highlights was attending the Faery Ball. I haven't been to any sort of a convention/conference since 1996; I used to attend a few science fiction conventions and always brought some sort of costumes. This was my costume for the ball, which received raves during the contest:

Went more for Maleficent than Tinker Bell. The wings are latex and flapped when I walked.

Also had a chance to have a picture taken with the contestants for this year's Mr. Romance:

BIG highlight was signing at the e-book and graphic novel expo, which was one of the main attractions for me. It was a good way to get my name and face out there, and I had some nice chats with the people who stopped by my table.

And the books. Good Lord, THE BOOKS. Of course, being a publishing conference, why should I expect to stay away from them? There were two in the registration tote bag, I got four more at a mystery book mixer, several more in the awards ceremony swag bag, three at the Faery and Vampire Balls (books were on the tables as favors), one or two I just found in various hallways, I chose nine from the goody bag room, three I actually bought from Barnes & Noble at their tables in the dealers' all, I picked up 32 books. (Also picked up a wonderful case of strep throat, and I'd like to personally thank the person who gave it to me with a serious pinch.)

Don't know how many sample chapters I brought home, though. Lots of those being handed out, as well.

This was my third time out to California and I've made the same vow I made previously: next time I go to California, I'm going to just go. First time was to Pride in San Francisco, next time was Macworld Expo (also San Francisco), and this time was Los Angeles. Each time, I barely had any time to see people or do things; I did free up some time to spend with an online friend, whom I'd met for the first time in person (*waves to Dennis and his partner Deke*), but it just wasn't enough. I also stayed with a friend from my Milwaukee days (*waves to Peter and his husband Dean*), but only saw them during the times I wasn't at the conference. Next time? Next time? Next time? I will be going to California to go and see people and eat things and just be there. While it was a great conference, I don't think I had that much "me" time as I needed (yeah, 11:30 at night watching the Disney Channel in my hotel room qualifies).

Now I just need to get off my duff and finish a couple more projects, possibly even start a couple more more. This was a great jolt for me professionally and now I need to apply what I learned.

Next year, it'll be in Chicago, which is a lot closer. Now I just need to figure out what I'll be doing for an encore...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Battle Fatigue

I'm not sure how many people have seen it, but there's a clip circulating right now of former Saturday Night Live performer Victoria Jackson's incredibly virulent tirade against the m/m kiss on Glee and her weak attempts to explain anything she believes about Christianity.

I've been having a very, very deep reaction to it. Many people have dismissed it as the rantings of a whack-job or an Andy Kaufman-esque performance piece, but I've been taking it at face value.

And I'm very fucking angry.

And I'm very fucking hurt.

And I'm just very, very fucking tired.

It stung me down to my very core to hear somebody say those things just one more time. I've heard it hundreds of times over the years, but to hear it again was just too much for me tonight. I don't know her personally (I mostly remember her as "...and Victoria B. Jackson as Alice" in the SNL parody "The Robert Palmer Bunch", a mash-up of The Brady Bunch and Robert Palmer's music videos featuring the dancing models) but I've been crying off and on for the last hour or so because I feel like we're in "two steps back" mode right now and I don't feel like I can carry on for much longer. I'm just feeling browbeaten and really don't see any point in continuing to stand up for myself and fight for my rights.

I realize I'm under a huge amount of stress right now. I'm trying to finish an early draft of my gay coming of age romance set in the mid 80's before I go to Los Angeles in a couple weeks for the RT Booklovers Convention, which I'll be attending with my first book credit under my belt and promoting the hell out of it, but hearing part of that conversation just really hit me between the eyes tonight. I just felt like throwing my hands up in the air and saying, "Fine. I'll just isolate myself even further from the world and not care again. Ever. About anything."

I know it'll pass, though. These things do. Once in a while, I'll get a hair up my ass and I'll be the first one posting links to these things and screaming online CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT?! Somehow, I'll find the strength to just keep going.

But tonight?

I'm very fucking angry.

And I'm very fucking hurt.

And I'm just very, very fucking tired.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Been a while, hasn't it?

My current WIP recently had me going down virtual roads of research. I was using Google Maps the other evening and scouting out my hometown of South Bend, Indiana. I knew a lot has changed since I moved from there to Milwaukee almost 24 years ago and saw some of the change firsthand when I went down for a wedding a little while back, but seeing it again was kinda depressing.

Many places I knew as a kid are gone or changed. Brant's Ben Franklin 5 & 10 doesn't exist (hasn't since Old Man Brant cacked it and they closed the place). Buschbaum's Drug Store is now a fabric store. One house I lived in no longer has an enclosed porch. Another is just as dreary as I remember it being when I first lived there. Ralph's News Stand and Head Shop...I mean...General Store...excuse out of business, though the sign over the door remains. The Bonnie Doon drive-in on Michigan is still abandoned, and they've put up a chain link fence around it (looks like the one on Lincoln Way still might be open). I didn't even go out far enough to see what's become of the G. L. Perry on Western, and I think the K-Mart down on Ireland/Michigan might be gone; the Rite-Way across from the K-Mart is, I know. Azar's Big Boy no longer exists in the area, either. Hell, even my high school relocated a block north.

What's even crazier is I remembered how to navigate through Google Maps to get to a lot of these locations.