Saturday, January 24, 2015

An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Recently, a few individuals who wanted to cause problems have targeted members of the gay community, and supporters of equality. They have gone on a rampage, reporting photos and threatening people. Michael Stokes, a photographer out of Los Angeles, California, was targeted by an individual and told that she would “ruin him” because he posts artistic photos of male models. If you go to any museum, or even walk past most museums of fine art, and you would see more of the human body than you do on the photos Mr. Stokes posts. Yes, we all know Facebook has community standards, however Facebook’s standards are double standards, allowing abusive photographs of women, pornography of women, images depicting women in demeaning situations, and other abuses to stay on the site and yet photos of two men fully dressed but kissing are deleted. Do you really want to be known as the company that supports abuse towards women and gay men? Thirty years from now, when your granddaughter (if you have one) is looking back at the company her grandfather created, do you want to be known as the man who allowed abuse to foster and grow? Maybe you don’t care about women, and you think it’s funny that groups on Facebook support the exploitation of women, I don’t know, but based on which posts are deleted and which posts are allowed to stay I’d have to say that maybe you are that type of man and history will show the truth, depicting you not as a great man who united the world, but a person who encouraged the abuse of women and gay men.

I implore you to stop allowing the abuses to continue. Mr. Stokes was threatened then kicked off Facebook because an individual who is homophobic chose to “ruin” him. Abusers of the system are rewarded and the people they are attacking are harmed. I see it on a weekly basis on Facebook, where some crazy homophobic person finds and reports authors of gay literature, photographers who make a study of the male form, gay performers, and others who support equality. Stop allowing the abuse to continue. The double standard is unfair, and it supports abuse towards women and gay men. Please stop the abuse. Stop allowing people who habitually report clean gay images and images of the male form from trying to “ruin” good people who are working to foster equality.

Sara York

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Advice To New Authors: Parts 1 2 & 3

Advice to new authors, part one- If you are going to submit to a publisher at all, get a gmail account or an alias for your email that is somewhat similar to your author name or real name. makes it hard for the publisher to connect book ABC with you. You might miss a letter for a contract because the publisher can't email you. Remember, publishers get thousands of emails. Make it easy for them to send you a note back.

Advice to new authors, part two - When sending in a manuscript to a publisher, make it professional. That means you need to treat it like a business letter. What does that mean?

It might be confusing to some. Writing is a business even if it comes across as fun at times. I'm an introvert. At conferences I have to work hard to actually talk to people. Many others in the writing industry are the same and might overcompensate on the fun at cons. Also, conferences are a place to cut loose. And if we're not at conferences but meeting our friends for dinner, we tend to be very excited so it looks like all authors do is party and have fun.

Behind the scenes, writing is work. It's boring from the outside. Even if the publisher has erotic books in their list, they are still a business. Many editors work from home and they have kids, and partners, or they do their work at Starbucks or other public places. Basically, the last thing they want to find is a topless photo of you, a dick picture of your privates, glitter, or hand drawn art.

Submissions should only include what the publisher is asking for on white paper unless they ask for a different color paper, which is very unlikely, but read the submission guidelines and follow them. Email only if that's what the publisher wants. Making your manuscript stand out with tricks or flashy shit doesn't get you a contract.

Advice to new authors, part three-- Don't be in such a hurry. I know, I've been there, and it seems like if you just hurry up and get your book out there then you'll capture some of the glory/fame/love and money that other authors are cashing in on. It seems like NEW authors pop up out of the blue and are over night successes. There might be a few authors who do that, however, many of the success stories are backed up by years of working hard in the trenches. Authors change their writing names and reinvent their career. They go from writing Steampunk to MM BDSM, or Christian inspirational to erotic romance, but the basis of their craft, storytelling, transcends genre.

If you are serious about writing, and let me tell you this, it’s going to take WORK, then take a few weeks/months and figure some shit out. GMC by Debra Dixon is a good place to start. This will help you write a decent book. Notice I said help, there's more to it than just GMC.

The Snowflake Method, which I used for many years, by Randy Ingermanson is a great method. Now, after adopting the method into how I think about a book, this process flows naturally from the moment I come up with an idea.

She Sat He Stood to help you figure out what to do with your characters.

For MM authors check out Josh Lanyon's Man, Oh Man.

These books are just places to start. There is so much more than reading one or two books to make a story happen. You have to put forth effort and it takes hard work to do that.

I'm going to leave you with a little story that I hope emphasizes how much work it takes to write a salable book.

Many years ago there was a girl who had a dream of becoming an author, lets call her Suzie. She didn't know if she could do it, but she loved to read. Her sister, Mary, loved to read too. They shared their love of reading, but Suzie never told Mary she wanted to write. Mary quit her big paying corporate job and went to live on a boat, Suzie wished she could quit her job, but she had responsibilities. Before Mary left for her life of fun and adventure she told everyone that she was going to write a novel. Suzie was shocked, that was her dream, not her sister’s. Mary confided in Suzie that she could easily read a long book in a couple of evening sessions, much less than a week, and she knew she could write a book. She thought it would take her just a few days, maybe a week to work out a story and write it. With confidence, Mary took off into the unknown, proud of her discovery that writing was easy. Meanwhile, Suzie decided that she wasn't going to let her sister steal her dream. She investigated and found an organization called Romance Writers of America and joined, learning that writing is hard work. (you may not agree with RWA policies and practices but they have their shit together in terms of teaching people to write. Just remember if you join RWA and take the classes that once you learn the rules, those rules were made to be broken, but you have to know the rules before you can actually break them) Suzie attended conferences, Suzie took classes, and Suzie wrote. Her first book sucked, but she had written a 90,000 word book that was DONE! Mary returned home from her adventure without a book written because writing is hard work and takes more than a week.

You can be Mary or you can be Suzie. If you want to be an author, work at it. Read books on writing. I still read books on writing, take classes, study storytelling, investigate new possibilities, and ask for help. I want to be like Suzie and push myself to do more. The people like Mary may put a book out, they may have some small amount of success, but when push comes to shove and they have to apply themselves and actually work, they aren't willing to do what it takes.

There is nothing shameful about throwing in the towel and saying It Was Too Hard, but if you are going to submit to a publisher, spend a couple of weeks or months learning the craft.