Friday, September 28, 2007

And another month of Triviality fun and wackiness is about to draw to an end. Just a few hours left... go play to put the September contest to bed.

And congratulations to Dexter, who has obviously already won for the third consecutive month. Dexter, this graphic is for you!

Remember that October Triviality starts on Monday! See you there!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First, the bad news: these aren't heady days for gay literature and the men and women who write it.

Although the big chains continue to shelve many titles -- and good for them -- gay-specific bookstores continue to close, and InsightOut Books, the only LGBT book club, is selling off its remaining stock at deep discount as it prepares to go dark. Gay-friendly publishers and imprints like Carroll & Graf and Haworth are being closed or sold, which will inevitably mean a decrease in the number of LGBT books being published. Other publishers will pick up some of the slack, but will they be able to give their gay titles (and writers) the same sort of TLC and knowledge of the genre as their predecessors? I'm skeptical. I support mainstreaming, of course, but often the mainstream doesn't know what to do with our same-sex offerings.

It's easy to bitch about the dwindling supply, but that only reflects the demand. And, yeah, I've bitched enough about that over the years. If gay readers (or, rather, gay would-be readers) and gay publications don't care about gay literature, why should it be an outsized priority on the supply side?

So much for Macroeconomics 101. Let me add that things have been a bit disappointing -- albeit not critically disappointing -- on the personal side, too. While sales of my books have been all right, they have not exactly set the publishing world on fire. Unfortunately, when I try to do something about that, it almost seems counter-productive.

For example, that big book tour I was once planning for November isn't getting traction; despite numerous calls and e-mails, I've managed to get the cold shoulder from large and small booksellers up and down the East Coast. Even one independent gay bookstore -- a bookstore I have promoted by name many times over past years -- told me their schedule couldn't accommodate me until 2008. If that's the way my 'friends' treat me, I shouldn't be surprised that the managers of almost every Barnes & Noble from Washington to Boston have ignored my calls.

(Uh... with the exception of the reading I'll be doing in Rochester on November 24, that is. Love them. Details are in the sidebar.)

Oh well. Since these appearances would have been paid for out of my own pocket, maybe they've done me a favor. It's not as if I'm getting five-figure advances for this glamorous writing life. And it's not as if I'm alone; most of my fellow writers in the genre are in the exact same position. It's just the state of the art.

It can be frustrating, and the opposite of remunerative, and there are times I want to walk away and find a better use for my precious free time. But those moments are mercifully fleeting. Because -- to repeat the joke I share with my agent, except in this case it isn't a joke -- we do it for the love.

We do it because we have to do it.

As you know -- because you've read When the Stars Come Out, right? -- at the heart of my most recent novel is the concept that coming out of the closet is the single most important thing a person can do to influence and educate others. Throughout the book, a wide range of characters -- young, old, liberal, conservative, famous, obscure -- either come out or reflect on their personal journeys. In the process, they cumulatively cause a ripple effect that leads even a fearful, deeply closeted gay man to take his first bold steps into the sunlight.

Part of me -- the part that feels frustrated and channels Rodney Dangerfield at times -- knows that I invented some characters and a plot, typed 115,00 words, and collected my tiny reward. But the other, better part of me -- the part that has to do it; the part that does it for the love -- knows that there are deeper rewards:

Mr. Rob Byrnes,

I hope you aren't offended, but I don't know why I bought your book When The Stars Come Out. But I am glad I did. I could really relate to the way each person 'came out' in their own way, which ever best fit his personal circumstance. Noah could be brave, with his tolerant/sympathetic family, so he could 'come out' as a teenager, but even though he was the main character I liked it that you showed that everyone's case was different, and didn't make one way any better than the other.

I had been thinking about this for a while, but your book helped make my decision for me. October 11 is Natl. Coming Out day and I am ready to come out to my family and (straight) friends. Maybe if I come out, I can influence others, just like Noah and Quinn influenced others. And like you (thru your book) influenced me. Time for MY star to come out LOL!


Oh, hell... I guess despite the quotidian humiliations and lack of respect and unresponsive booksellers and paltry readership and small paychecks, I'm going to have to keep writing.

For the love.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

At least, I think that's what Pat Boone is trying to tell us.

This entry presented as a public service to all of those readers who think only the liberals have lost their minds. (h/t Fark)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I seldom blog about my Day Job, but an exchange a few minutes ago just begs to be repeated.

Among a few hundred other responsibilities, my organization puts uniformed security officers out on the streets to offer assistance to the public. Often that assistance comes in the form of addresses and directions, especially on weeks like this when the United Nations General Assembly convenes in Manhattan just a half-mile from my office. The officers are linked by radio, and I usually keep one ear tuned to our office unit to monitor what's happening out on the streets. Let's listen in, shall we?

OFFICER: I need directions to the South American consulate.

ME: ** ears perk up**

SUPERVISOR: The South American consulate? One moment.

ME (after making mad dash to the radio in an effort to stop the looming embarrassment): Hold on! Did you say 'South American' consulate?

OFFICER: Ten-four.

ME: There is no South American consulate, copy? South America is a continent, with about fifteen countries in it. Each of those countries has a consulate, but the entire continent doesn't have one. Copy?

SUPERVISOR (who obviously hasn't heard me): Okay, the address is 333 East 38th Street. Copy?

OFFICER (who is either choosing to ignore me, or doesn't know what a continent is): Copy. That's 333---

ME: That's the South African consulate. Is that what you meant? South African?

OFFICER: South American. So that's 333--

ME: South America is not a country!

SUPERVISOR: Let me give you that address again. 333 East 38th Street...

That's when I gave up.

Then again, anyone who was stupid enough to ask for the address of the South American consulate in the first place deserves to end up wherever the morons sent them.

Friday, September 14, 2007

All this story is missing are Dimitri Weismann and the inevitable Roscoe.

Maestro, if you please...

(PS: I have not lost my mind. If no one else, I'm sure David will vouch for me. Please, David? Pleeeease?)

I have been very, very busy this week, and I don't have anything to write about. So I'll just steal this image from someone else's web site and post it here:

Pre-order it now, bitches.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

There's nothing like a trip down memory lane back to the 1930s to make a history buff wax nostalgic:
Dozens of subway buffs turned out to ride in the historic R1 subway cars adorned with advertising for products such as Lifebuoy Health Soap. A bar sold for 5 cents, equaling the price of a ride in 1932.

"It reminds me of when times were good and the country was prosperous," said subway history fan Louis Maimone, 52, of the Bronx. "It's a bit of nostalgia."
Ah, the Great Depression. Good times, good times...

Most days, I feel like I glide through life totally ignorant of the little secrets people carry around. including those closest to me. I'm sure that's because I usually only pay attention to things when they directly affect me. Still, I'd like to be a better friend, which means people really need to confide in me more often and share gossip, rumors, and ugly hidden truths.

Which is why yesterday was special: people shared not one but two delicious pieces of gossip. Granted, I don't believe one of the items to be true, but the person who told it to me believes it, and that's what's important.

The people involved in these items span several decades of my life, and the stories -- if true -- make me think of them in much more complex, textured ways. One secret (the one I'm sure is true) was ugly, and the other was bizarre but not impossible, but both of them challenged the way I think of the principals. And that, I think, is a good thing, because it's always good to think outside the box, even when it comes to your friends.

Now, though, my appetite has been whetted, and I dread the thought of a secret-free Tuesday. That's where you come in.

Please leave me a comment revealing a secret about yourself or someone else -- idle rumors count -- so that I can make it through the day and continue to think of other people as multidimensional creatures.

Even though we both know that most of you are two-dimensional. Especially bloggers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

This morning I stepped on the scale and it read 179.8 pounds... the first time I've been below 180 in at least five years.

I love my scale.

Hi, kids! I'm back from my far-too-short vacation! Miss me?