Carole Cummings, Guest Contributor

Guest Post: Bullying (Or Not So Much) by Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

BULLYING (OR NOT SO MUCH)

Carole Cummings

So, I guess you’d have to live under a rock (or be a writer in the cruel, all-consuming throes of a developing story) to have missed all the #AskELJames … stuff. And if you’ve seen all that, you’ve likely seen the follow-up calls of shame on you or shame on us or shame on them and then the inevitable cries to STOP THE BULLYING!

And, on principle, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of them.

However.

When it comes to bullying, we’re not dealing with “principle”. We’re dealing with something a lot harder and colder and plainer. Or, well, we should be.

Now, there are several points to be made here, but the bullying accusation is what I want to start with. Because I’ve seen it so often over the past few years, and to be perfectly frank, it’s starting to lose its meaning. Which, to me, is a very, very bad thing. But probably not in the way you think.

Let’s start with a definition, because it’s always better coming from something official:

bully
verb
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force

bul·lied bul·ly·ing
transitive verb
: to treat abusively
: to affect by means of force or coercion

I want to concentrate on that top definition, because I think that one’s the key here: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person).

And here’s where I disagree with those who define what happened to E.L. James as bullying, and are using it to make a point about “author bullying” or maybe “reader bullying” or even what the neo-Conservatives have started waving around when their beliefs are trotted out and exposed as the bigoted points of view they are. Because none of that is actually bullying. It’s unpleasant, yes. Hurtful, absolutely. Mean-spirited fuckery and a platform for asshole trolls, yup. Almost invariably unnecessary. Generally uneducated. Any adjective for “bad” one can come up with.

But it’s not bullying.

Now, I’m not here to pile on E.L. James, by any means, though I’ll admit I don’t like what she does. I personally think her lack of research and her callous treatment of her subject matter is unforgivable and potentially harmful. I think my teenaged daughter can out-prose her at her most (questionably) eloquent. I think she’s done actual harm to women’s issues by giving opponents a notorious, though admittedly shaky, set of clay feet upon which to lay their arguments.

That doesn’t mean I condone what happened with that hashtag. But it doesn’t mean I’m inclined to defend her from “bullying” either.

Because—and let me state this plainly and without question—what happened to E.L. James was not bullying. The people who participated in that hashtag were, by and large, indefensible jerks, but “jerks” does not automatically equal “bullies”. And, in truth, not all of the points brought up in all of that were indefensible. There were some rather valid arguments raised, and approached with perhaps some snarky wit but without rancor or foul invective. That’s called free speech and people are allowed to have it, regardless of whether or not we like what they say, or how they say it.

I know, I know, I can already hear the “but, but, but!” and I understand where the whole bullying thing comes from. I even empathize with it up to a point. But it doesn’t change the fact that we’re taking a very serious word here and trivializing it with “those people were mean.” And, yes, absolutely, some of them were. But they weren’t bullies. It’s a distinction I think is enormously important, because we’re losing the point of that word—bully—and we need that point with all its sharp edges.

Doxing is bullying. What happened to the women during GamerGate was bullying. What happens to the skinny gay kid who’s afraid to go to school for fear of getting pantsed or beaten up is bullying. What happens to a woman who’s groped on the subway is bullying. What happens to a person in an abusive relationship is bullying. What happens to people of color when confronted with a bigoted cop is bullying.

That hashtag? No. And saying it was bullying is saying that it’s just as bad as those situations in that paragraph above. It takes away the power of the word and therefore, the power of the people who are victims of real bullying who’ve already lost most of their power.

Look at that definition again—to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)

Was E.L. James frightened? I suppose it’s possible, but I doubt it. There were no threats I could see, and I read—I think—the entire thread. Was she hurt? Maybe her feelings, because no matter my opinion of her talents as such, she is an author, and we’re a rather thin-skinned lot. Did she feel threatened? Again, it’s possible, but doubtful.

But here’s the key to this, and it’s really important—E.L. James, especially in the context of this internet Q&A, was neither a smaller nor a weaker person. If anything, she was the only one in the entirety of that situation who had any power. The woman is a multi-millionaire with the comfort of the knowledge that probably a good percentage of the people who participated in that hashtag free-for-all had most likely purchased at least one of her books, even if it was to make fun of it with their friends. Or seen the movie. A portion of the people engaging in the mockery on Twitter, statistically speaking, have put money in E.L. James’s pocket, have given her power, both as a wealthy person in a world where wealth already equals power, and as a best-selling author in an industry where that’s the only kind that matters.

But, most importantly, E.L. James, if she even read through the thread at all (which I doubt), was doing so from behind the safety of her computer monitor, comfortably ensconced… wherever multi-millionaire best-selling authors ensconce themselves. There was no danger. There was no threat. E.L. James was not and is not small or powerless. There was, therefore, no bullying.

And I need to say this again—I do not condone what happened, but if ever there was a subject that needs perspective, it’s bullying and what it really is and who really needs our protection from it.

Look, I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty commentary in my years of toddling about the troll-infested Lord of the Flies world we call the internet. I’ve been told I needed to be raped and die in a fire. I’ve been told the only good female brain is the one that’s scooped out to make room for a good skull-fucking. I’ve been told I should be beaten to death with my keyboard. And those are only the ones I remember off the top of my head. There have been more. And it’s not like I go to message boards or forums where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a troll. This is just in the normal course of being an author who is accessible online. And who among us hasn’t gotten the one-starring troll treatment for no good reason?

Do I like it? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s fair? Nope. Do I think it’s nasty and hurtful and infuriating? Yes, yes, and yes.

But do I think it’s bullying? No. No. Because when I’m sitting in my home with my laptop and reading these things on my monitor, regardless of my actual size and/or strength, I am neither smaller nor weaker than the person saying them. In point of fact, intellectually speaking—which is the only part that matters on the internet—I’m betting I’m the much bigger and stronger person. And if worse came to worse, all I really have to do is turn the internet off and walk away. These trolls have no power over me but what I give them, and I refuse to give them any. Which means, by definition, I am not being bullied.

And neither was E.L. James.

Personally, I’d like to see that word—bullied—saved for the people who actually need it, not robbed of its power by those who get their feelings hurt because someone was mean to them on the internet. Those who truly are bullied have lost enough power already, don’t you think?

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Brita Addams, Guest Contributor

I Need a Hero – A Guest Post by Brita Addams

I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero
‘Til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Bonnie Tyler – “I Need A Hero” Lyrics


Larger than life, yes indeed—but real as well.

Let me start this article by saying that while I read all the time, my leisure time reading is very limited, and for that reason, I mostly read historical fiction when I read for enjoyment. I like nothing better than to settle into a good bit of historical fiction, romance or otherwise, where the heroes are larger than life and the story sweeps me away to another time, another place. Continue reading

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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered This Week With Some Gorgeous Steampunk Covers


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You know, when Lisa, the wonderful owner of The Novel Approach Reviews said, “Hey, cover reviews are cool. Go right ahead,” I got really lucky. Not only does she let me rattle on in my dubious wisdom, but she allows me freedom to write about things outside just the covers that I fall in love with; which, in turn, lets me write about covers that are outside the M/M genre we all know and love.
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Guest Contributor, HAHAT Blog Tour, Jaime Samms

Our HAHAT 2014 Blog Tour Concludes Today With Jaime Samms And A Giveaway


8f412-hahat2b2014The Novel Approach would like to extend a final thank you to everyone who has followed along, commented, and participated in any way in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

A very special thank you goes to B. Addler, Kade Boehme, and to Jaime Samms for allowing us to share their stories with all of you.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
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Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press, Guest Contributor

Intensify Your Writing By Eliminating Intensifiers – By Brita Addams


Dark portrait of scary man with evil eyesIntensifiers are the most overused words on the planet. These awesome and terrific tips are a wonderful way for real writers to write their absolute magnificent best.

The underlined words are just a few intensifiers. Now the sentence without them: These tips are a way for writers to write their best. Uncluttered, and frankly, much less ridiculous.

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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads, Uncategorized

Kingett reads Basketball Jones chapter 17



In chapter 17 of Basketball Jones the threats become a lot more lethal and just downright insane, and I have no one in the world to aid me through this crisis! All logical thinking has flown out the window! Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.
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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor, LC Chase, Riptide Publishing, SE Jakes

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Review – SE Jakes’ “Daylight Again”, Cover Art By L.C. Chase


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Today I have come to the momentous decision that I am selling my soul. Yup, me… soul free baby, just call ol’ Scratch on up and we’ll hammer out a deal. I’m ready and willing to bargain!
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Guest Contributor, MLR Press

It’s Con Season! A Guest Article by Kris Jacen


Yay! We’ll all get to see our friends again, we’ll also make new ones, and that’s the whole point…right? Or maybe not? Socializing and having fun are certainly important. Without a doubt, they are often the high points of the events we attend. However, there are a few very important items that we need to be mindful of.

It used to be that there were only a few conferences (cons) each year, featuring or welcoming LGBTQ writers and readers (RWA National, RT, AAD, Lori Foster’s). But now, there are so many more – GRL, Rainbow Con, The Novel Approach, UK M/M Meet, to name a few. As our industry, and our genre continue to grow and mature, we gain more and more opportunities to represent ourselves online, and more significantly, in person.
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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor, Sue Brown

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Weeks Topic – Inspiration



Well, it’s another one of those nights where I’m sitting here flailing for something to review. Honestly, I have the attention span of a very small, one celled organism. Some days it’s all I can do to not have my cranium crammed chock full of pretty book covers I want to talk about, and some days I look at those same covers and feel ambivalent. I’ll blame today’s ambivalence on having to write a report on architecture during the Industrial Era. Which is really interesting (I know I’m odd), but I think my clever repartee account is now overdrawn.

Anyhow, enough grumping over my lack of witty turnings of a phrase, let’s talk about something.
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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads “Basketball Jones” Chapter 14



In chapter 14 of Basketball Jones, I don’t understand how AJ can like a man who is, literally, a little stupid on every inch of his brain mass. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

It’s a common stereotype that athletes are about as smart as sand. Everyone knows that stereotypes are just massive tropes that people sometimes portray in real life, and usually, I don’t like to call judgment on a character until I know him or her. Usually, I study characters in a book just as I would people because I want to know what their dimensions are, and I want to know what’s inside of their head, and I want to know what their dreams, and hopes, and feelings are.
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Brita Addams, Guest Contributor

Cliches We Use Incorrectly – A Guest Article By Brita Addams



You have to love Sean Bean and since I do, here he is. No other reason really. :)

I love words and I also love clichés. They have become clichés for a reason, and I embrace them fully. I do use them sparingly in my writing, depending upon the period I’m writing about.

On occasion, in research or even in reading, I come across phrases that are so blatantly wrong, but they weren’t caught in editing. Others are phrases that a new generation decided needed changing, perhaps to sound hipper. Bad will always mean bad, and sick will always mean sick. Sorry, folks, but meanings aren’t changed simply because you want them to be. And don’t get me started on the silly spellings I see on social media. Yep, I’m a purist.

For fun, I have created a list of some of my favorites.

Graduated high school – Grammar Girl, my person grammar heroine, says this about that: “To graduate is a verb-transitive or intransitive. Transitive verb takes an object and an intransitive verb doesn’t. Object is a thing or person the verb is transferring action to-the thing the subject is taking action on. When you say someone graduated from a specific college, you are using the intransitive form of “to graduate” because the verb has no object. Let’s say Mr. X got a degree from Burrow College. Although it’s a bit archaic, the formal way to say this using the intransitive form of the verb “to graduate” is to say, “Mr. X was graduated from Burrow.”

The more modern way to say it and still be correct is “Mr. X graduated from Burrow.”

You need the “from.” Mr. X graduated FROM Burrow. The shortest form of this sentence would be “Mr. X graduated.” If you think about it that way, you can see that “from Burrow” isn’t an object, it’s just a prepositional phrase that tells you more about where Squiggly graduated from.

The thing is, when you say, “Mr. X graduated Burrow,” you’ve turned “to graduate” into a transitive verb. By definition, the act of graduating is something a school does to a student, not something a student does to a school. Schools graduate students. You could say that Burrow graduated 600 students this year. However, if you say, “Mr. X graduated Burrow,” you’re making Mr. X the subject and Burrow the object and saying that Mr. X did something to the college. It’s possible Mr. X did many things to the college during his tenure there. He may have damaged the college, delighted the college, or desecrated the college–but he didn’t graduate the college.

Whole, entire life – whole and entire mean the same thing, so there is no reason for the redundancy. Whole life or entire life would suffice.

AM in the morning – this one is so obvious, yet I read it and hear it on television all the time. A.M. means ante meridiem, which is Latin for before noon. To say that breakfast is served at 9AM in the morning, you are really saying breakfast is served at 9AM before noon in the morning, which is something we wouldn’t say, is it?

Same exact – Really? Don’t they mean the same thing?

Try to explain/Try and explain – Easily mistaken, but Try to explain is the correct phrasing.

Holed up/Hold up – Holed up means hide in a literal hole or a cave for shelter. Hold up means to rob. Two quite different things.

Took this tack/tact – at Grammartist.com, we find this about that: “Tact is sensitivity in social situations. A tack is a course or an approach (the word has nautical origins). When switching courses or taking a different approach, one changes tack, not tact.

Tact often appears in place of tack. Presumably some people think of it as short for tactic, which is synonymous with tack in some contexts. This is understandable given how rare tack is, but tact is not conventionally short for tactic, and, fairly or not, phrases like change tact are generally considered wrong by people who pay attention to these things.”

Every single time – We all say it and it is silly upon examination. Every time will suffice.

The whole world – If you speak of the world as a whole, then there is no reason to say the whole world. If you mean part of the world, then you would say world at all.

The very first time – The intensifier very is used to make a stronger point, but it is unneeded. The first time is quite sufficient. Very changes nothing. More on intensifiers in my May column.

Close proximity – Grr! Proximity means close. Such a shame that screenwriters use close proximity with abandon. Correctly used, it reads: We are in proximity of the restaurant.

By accident/on accident – My children used to say this all the time, albeit briefly. It is said that language changes over time – bad meaning good, etc. Simply because people adopt a certain way of speaking, doesn’t make it correct, does it?

By accident is the correct way to say this and to say on accident makes you sound like a ten year old, whose mother hasn’t corrected them. My children weren’t that lucky.

That’s so much fun/That’s so fun – This corruption is relatively new to my ears. This is what grammarphobia.com has to say: “Fun” is traditionally a noun (a thing, as in “We had fun”), not an adjective. So you usually wouldn’t use it as a modifier (“We had a fun day”). An exception would be when “fun” is a predicate nominative – a noun that follows a verb and modifies the subject (“This is fun”).

Therefore, it would be OK to use “fun” in a sentence like “Skiing is fun,” but not in one like “We had a fun day on the slopes.”

For the same reason, the ubiquitous and annoying “so fun” is incorrect, but “so much fun” is not. If you mentally substitute a noun like “entertainment,” you can see why. You wouldn’t say “so entertainment,” but you could say “so much entertainment.” Similarly you could say “This is entertainment” (predicate nominative).

He’s so bad (when we mean good)
That’s ridiculous, when you mean just the opposite.
You have sick talent

As my parents did before me, I will blame rock n roll. Seriously, saying any of these things doesn’t make one sound cool. Actually, it sounds uneducated. Words mean what they mean and no hipster will ever make them mean something else.

All of a sudden/All of the sudden/All the sudden – The correct phrase is the first, all of a sudden. The other two are just ridiculous.

My head literally exploded – Ah, no it didn’t. How do I know this? Because if it did, you wouldn’t be here to tell me it did.

Lying about her/ lying on her – When you tell a lie about someone, you are lying about them. When you lie on someone, well, that is quite personal and we don’t need to know.

Card sharp/card shark – Grammartist.com sorts this for us: Card sharp is preferred in British English, while card shark is more common in American, Canadian, and Australian English. They share their main definitions—namely, (1) a professional card player, (2) a person who is skilled in card games, and (3) a person who is skilled in cheating at card games. The British card sharp more often implies cheating. Card shark, especially in American English,is often simply a term for someone who spends a lot of time playing cards.

Homed in/honed in – You home in, which means you zero in, as opposed to hone in. To hone means to sharpen or improve.

Think to myself or thought to myself – say them several times and you’ll see why they are on this list. They make no sense. Of course you think to yourself. You can’t think to anyone else.

I had a thought in my mind – I do so hate those thoughts from other people in my mind.

For naught/for not – For naught is the correct saying. Don’t know where the other one came from.

For all intents and purposes/ For all intensive purposes – Intensive means rigorous and focused, but it’s not the same thing as “for all intents and purposes.”

Another think coming/Another thing coming – The complete phrase goes “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”

Jibe with/Jive with – Jibe with means to agree with. Jive is a dance.

Pique my interest/Peak/peek my interest – Pique means to provoke or arouse, which makes more sense in context. Peak is highest point and peek is to, well, peek.

Scot free/Scott free – This means without incurring payment or penalty. ‘Scot’ as a term for tax in various forms – Church scot, Rome scot, Soul scot, etc. Whatever the tax, the phrase ‘getting off scot free’ simply refers to not paying one’s taxes.

Bated breath/Baited breath

Bated – Breathing that is subdued because of some emotion or difficulty. Baited breath simply means you have worms in your mouth. Remember this one that way.

Without further ado/Without further adieu – Ado is commotion. Adieu means farewell in French.

Should have/ Should of – “Of” is a preposition, not an auxiliary verb like “should.”

Try to/Try and – “And” is often used in place of a preposition after a verb, but the more appropriate version is to use “to” — in most cases.

Beck and call/ Beckon call – At one’s beck and call means you are ready to obey one’s command immediately. Beckon means to hail or call over.

Words are always such fun, but when we craft phrases for our writing, we should get them right. Each one of these and many others are easily Googled.

Next month, I’ll tackle intensifiers in writing. Strange how most are not needed at all, but they are used with abandon. Sure sign you don’t need them is when the sentence doesn’t change meaning without them.

Until then, happy reading.

Brita LogoAuthor Bio: Born in a small town in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her Tarnished series for Dreamspinner, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. It also nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads MM Romance Group.

Brita and her husband love to travel. They’ve taken no less than twenty-five cruises and countless long car trips, as well as completed a Civil War battlefield tour, and visits to many sites involved in the American Revolutionary War. Their 2013 anniversary tour of England, Scotland, and Wales gave Brita fodder for many new tales.

On a trip to Hollywood, California, Brita stood in the footprints of some of her favorite actors—Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and many others, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and has even kissed Mickey Rooney, God rest his precious soul.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.

Starting April 29, 2014, Brita will host a Blog Talk Radio show for Writers Online Network, entitled And the Rest is History. She’ll interview authors, publishers, and readers of historical fiction. The co-founder of WON will interview Brita on April 29, and together they will introduce the show. Then, starting on the last Tuesday in May, at 2 pm Central time, Brita will take on hosting duties.

The list of guests is shaping up, including USA Today Best Selling author, Pamela Clare, scheduled for June 24. Watch Facebook and Twitter for all the details.

Contact Links:

Website
Blog
Twitter: @britaaddams
Facebook
Fan page
Pinterest
Booklikes
Monthly column at The Novel Approach

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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor, J.A. Rock, Lisa Henry, Riptide Publishing

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Feature – “When All the World Sleeps” by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock



This week’s cover of the week is…bum bum bum…When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock artwork by Amber Shah.

I see a lot of covers every week, as we all do. On Facebook, on Google, on my Photoshop, but they don’t all stand out. In fact, a lot of them are just typical. I kinda love that this one is not “typical”.

The first thing you see when you look at this cover, in big or small size, is the title. Bold, bright, easy to read, but oddly enough, even though it’s very prominent, the title doesn’t overpower the picture. I like the texture too. It looks like rough concrete, or even an earthen texture, which goes well with the ground it’s superimposed over and also goes well with the almost pre-tornado like feel of the cover.

I have no clue what the story is about. I know, I know, I really need to read some of the books I review covers for. It’s probably a good thing I don’t review the books, isn’t it?

As I said, I have no clue what the story is about, but it reminds me of either a house that is waiting for a tornado to come or a fire to consume it; the calm before the storm so to speak. I love the juxtaposition of the gold/red sky with the blue/green grass. Is some tragedy coming to claim this house? Are the men waiting on the porch because whatever is coming is going to consume them, so why run? Or is it the cold, empty world around them that is coming to overtake their warm hearth? Not…a…clue.

But I want to find out. If it’s a fire, I really want to run over there with my hands waving and warn those guys, “Get off the damn porch, you’re gonna be barbeque.” Then again, on closer inspection, the house has an empty feel to it, so perhaps I’m seeing a vision of the past. A secret love affair, perhaps, that has long since died but has never been forgotten?

All I know for sure is that based on this cover, this does not look like a story that will let me avoid the Kleenex box. Just sayin’. Dramatic, possibly romantic, yes, but there’s some pain in there. I can just feel it emanating off the cover as I write.

I would hazard a guess that the men were put onto the house and the house put onto the background. I can’t be sure, but if that’s the case, it’s well done. The shading/highlights look great, the colors all complement one another, and the gradients on both the ground and the background are compelling and shocking in the stark contrast.

I love that the house seems small in a vast space, without it being small on the cover at all. This is one of the things that vexes me sometimes when I do cover. (Yes, I said vex, and no I am not your grandmother writing this article. I promise!) I have the toughest time with placement: how big is too big, and how small is too small. That sounds like a joke I once heard, but um…we’ll keep it PC, shall we? But really, it’s tough sometimes to judge. That, and just figuring out the very placement of the pictures can be equally as hard. It’s just like drawing a picture: you get an idea into your head, you get all excited go to execute, and bam… a big ol’ overlapping mess. You try to make it smaller and you lose the guys on the porch. You try to make it bigger and you lose the leaf bare trees and part of the sky. But this cover manages all that and more. I’m really quite taken.

Anyhow, guys and gals, I’m lacking in the chatter this week for some reason, so instead of bending your ears and eyeballs, I’ll just leave you with a sampling of the beautiful covers by Amber Shah from her website Book Beautiful . I can only aspire to make book covers as stunning as these someday.

The last one is actually a pre-made but still…pretty. *sighs wistfully*

That’s me, signing off.

Have a great day and may all the good books be with you!

All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.

Check me out on Facebook @ : https://www.facebook.com/ajcorza

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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads “Basketball Jones” Chapter 10



In chapter 10 of Basketball Jones the drama and angst clash into a huge argument between AJ and Dray over the baby, and I am utterly mortified and titillated all at the same time. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

This chapter is only three pages long and it also does not have a lot of things to talk about. It consists of AJ and Dray having a bit of a tiff…well, okay, an all-out tiff because Dray didn’t tell AJ that Dray and Judy are having a baby. The two boyfriends confront each other in the living room and angst ensues, as well as a bit of drama, but AJ gets a real chance to shine here because, up until this point, he’s been holding in a lot of feelings because he’s been worried that this security blanket will crumble into dust. AJ feels hurt that Dray would even go ahead with something as unfaithful as having a baby with another woman. This hurts ME to read, and I just want to weep on two levels. One, because Dray really is an idiot, and two, because Dray does love AJ but can’t show it because he doesn’t know how to show it.

Seriously, Dray has to be the blindest man I have ever met in my life. His entire argument is that AJ should know what this will do to Dray and his career if word ever gets out that AJ and Dray are boyfriends.

They both get so heated they square off, as if they are going to duel right there in the living room, but they continue to argue, saying stuff that they have been saying throughout previous chapters. The only thing that’s different from now and the previous times is that AJ as finally reached his breaking point, so he’s just letting every little thought ooze out of his mouth, hoping to slap Dray a little with words.

Dray, on the other hand, isn’t even apologizing to AJ. He’s apologizing at the current situation. Dray isn’t even telling AJ he knows how this is hurting AJ, he’s just saying sorry, and that yes, this definitely stinks, but this is how it has to be for now, and this can’t change, and AJ knows why.

“The baby. When were you going to tell me? Do you know how humiliating and hurtful it was to find out about it from my trainer, or better yet the newspaper and the Net?” Cisco’s face flashed in my head and I wondered if I should tell Dray how he had tried to seduce me. I still wasn’t sure what all that was about, but maybe that would make Dray jealous and he would realize he could lose me. That’s one thing that sometimes annoyed the hell out of me. Dray was so damn cocksure he had me in the palm of his hand, and it might do him some good if he knew I had other options.

The keeping Cisco a secret decision is bugging me because it wouldn’t take a genius, especially after the events that happened in Chapter Nine, to figure out that AJ and Dray are boyfriends. Cisco could use that to do some serious damage because Cisco has information on a lot of Dray’s assets because, I’m guessing, the two have had to meet at some point. Cisco would have met with the coaches, and I’m sure the main team manager or something, and then Cisco could have some tools to do whatever. AJ doesn’t even tell Dray about Cisco, however, so I am gritting my teeth as I am listening to the two argue and not really solve anything.

Even though Dray isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, I don’t think he’s a bad person, he’s just really dumb. Does he love AJ? That, honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know how much Dray understands about the dynamics of this relationship, because he only seems to know the little things, such as AJ will miss him when he’s gone for days on end. Judy will be hurt if she knows. I believe he knows obvious things such as that, but I don’t believe that he knows how AJ feels and how trapped this is making AJ feel. Dray has a limited perspective of this relationship, and I don’t know how I should look at Dray as a character. Perhaps I’m short with him because he is so clueless and he doesn’t even understand what he’s doing has, or will have, deep rooted consequences for all of the people involved. Being in the closet is one thing but having a double gay life, with a kid, that’s a different ballgame, and this will make a mountain out of an anthill. Dray doesn’t even get how hard this is on AJ, but he does love AJ. What does that love mean for Dray, exactly? Sex? A man to look after? A man to show off to? Is this all just a big thank you because Dray didn’t know how to say thank you to AJ in college? I don’t understand Dray and his line of thinking, but it all seems very simple. For example.

“I was going to tell you. But no time seemed like the right time. And I didn’t want to tell you over the phone. We see each other so little that when I’m here all I want to do is hold you and make love to you. Besides, do you know how hard it was going to be for me to tell you Judi was pregnant? I already have you feeling sidelined in my life, so I knew hearing about the baby would upset you. There was no easy way to come out and say it.

Dray is the kinda man who will say whatever just to change the immediate situation… sigh. I don’t know if I should feel sorry for Dray because he isn’t getting this at all, that this double life hurts AJ because to AJ it feels like a giant slap in the face, or AJ, because AJ is with someone who is really dumb.

The chapter ends with them kissing, but not really solving anything because the two have been arguing about responsibility and such. I’m wondering if Dray will ever get it, that this closeted persona is even worth it. Sure, straight people hate gay people sometimes, but it’s a lot better than hurting people with lie after lie. I’m wondering what Chapter Eleven will bring. We will see next week!

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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – Some Pretties Just For You



Today’s question of the day is…what type of book covers turn you on? Any reason why? Is it the color? The texture? The picture on the front? Or do you just know what you like and damn the reasons why?

There are so many different types of covers for every kind of book that it’s quite literally enough to make your head spin. Well, ok, maybe only if you were possessed and spitting split pea soup, but still, you get me . However, when you delve more deeply into a specific genre, that magical wave of color and font that dazzles your eye in the book store or on the best seller’s list, seriously dwindles. Only because there are preconcieved notions of what colors go with what types of books. Horror is dark colors, comedy light, romance jewel tones, etc.

To me, romance seems to be one of the best genres to write and do art in because it varies so much within itself. It spans the virtual literary gamut offering everything from comedy to tragedy to paranormal to fluff. Ever notice however, that you still tend to see the same shapes and basic setup of a cover over and over again? Which, of course, is normal and acceptable and really, no one has re-invented the wheel yet, so why the frilly heck should the setup of a book cover change?
If it ain’t broke is all I’m sayin’.

The covers I’m going to show you today are some that I personally think do an exceptional job of using a tried and true book cover formula without making you roll your eyes and say, I’ve seen that cover a million times. Bored now.

Written by Alyssa Rose Ivy, with cover art by Once Upon a Time Covers, Found is a stunning cover. Yes, it’s the male torso, you’ve seen the male torso tons of times, all shapes and all sizes, but look! It’s not the overly beefy, suntanned to within an inch of their life, oiled, bo-hunk we see all the time. This guy has angles. He has edges. He looks like you could slice your hand on his cheekbones! (a little shoutout for Sherlock fans there). And because he has edges, it makes the entire photo look edgey! Who says you have to see the whole face on a cover? Not me! And clearly not our wonderful artist.

The colors that have been used are well thought out, crisp and clean. And yet, because they’re toned towards the chillier side of the color spectrum, they still maintain that aura of cool strength. Plus the colors of the whole cover compliment each other. The blue glow on the wings is reflected by the blue glow around the white title. The same color is reflected again in the authors name. Then the pale white of the font is reflected back to us in the skin tone of the man. Combine it once again with the blues and now the blacks in the background pic, and it almost seems as if the whole of the image is cocooned in a kind of dystopian type of vibe. Really, really like this one.

This one is a really cool (I have to come up with better descriptors, I swear) play on the old, guy on top, landscape on the bottom.

Boy Scout: Boys of Perfection written by Geoffrey Knight cover art done by Adrian Nicholas is fresh. That’s what I think of when I look at this. It’s bright, it’s clean, it’s fun. And you all know I have a serious fetish for deep, rich colors. Plus, I love that instead of the blended guy on top scenic view on bottom, we have that great rope separation detail, which perfectly embodies the Boy Scout, camping out, living off the land image. The font is very easy to read and it’s shape, the more boxy, stationary kind of look to it, makes you think of the handbook all scouts get when they first join.

There is one tiny detail I have to say I ADORE over all the rest of the covers, and that’s the publishing mark. That’s right you heard me. The publishing mark. It’s classy. It fits the colors on the cover and it is not obtrusive at all. And yet, you see it clearly. ADORE!!! I still love the cover, though!

The Arrangement, written by Cat Grant, cover art by LC Chase, makes me wonder what is it about this picture that makes me wish I were part of that trio? Maybe it’s the intimacy of the hands touching over the heart, maybe it’s the man on the left looking more docile while the woman seems more predatory? All I know is that this cover is steamy without even having read the book. I love a good threesome…story. *impish grin*

The other facet I love about this cover is how it looks almost as if it’s been hand drawn. What’s great about that is that it’s a photo manipulation! That’s fairly tough to do without it looking hokey and third graderish. I tend to try and run from that look myself because I have yet to find success with it. I did it exactly once, and I’ll be damned if I can remember how the HELL I did it. *laughs* I can’t seem to remember to take notes when I accomplish something like that until a day or two AFTER I’ve done it. I swear if I had a Post-it for everything I wish I’d remember I’d look like Bruce in Bruce Almighty.

The other beautiful thing about this book cover is that even though the title seems smaller than the norm that you would see on an E-Book, it’s so clear and easy to read. It looks like something you’d see on a best sellers list. It’s got class even though there are those out there that would say there is no way a book about a threesome could ever be construed as classy. Looking at this cover, I’d have to disagree. The warm, muted tones, again the intimacy of the picture, yep, it’s got class.

So, that’s it. That’s my question for this week. What is beautiful to you? What turns you on? What turns your crank, floats your boat, or tickles your pickle? Is it color, good looking models, idyllic places, or is it something altogether different? When you think about these things for yourself, take a good hard think as to what appeals to others. If you’re an author or an artist, you must take into consideration what the masses are looking for, what’s the trend, and then you must think one step beyond that. What can you do to transcend above and beyond so that others want what you’ve worked so hard to give.

It’s not an easy to get beyond our own egos and head space to put ourselves in another’s place, but trust me when I say this: the more you can empathize and understand the viewpoint of others, the more success you’re going to have!

And that is it for this week.

Have a great day and may all the good books be with you!

All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.

Wanna see some of my stuff? Check me out on Facebook @ : https://www.facebook.com/ajcorza

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Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press, Guest Contributor

Confusing Pairs (And Triples) of Words – by Brita Addams


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As word crafters, authors are often faced with word choices that are confusing in their similarity either in spelling or meaning. Below is a list of words that are often used interchangeably. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but you’ll recognize them.

How do you stand on the correct use of these words?

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A lot – to a considerable degree or extent
a place or position on a team
Allot – to apportion something
Alot – Not a word

A while – for a while; for a short time
Awhile – an adverb, meaning “for a time,” or literally, “for a while”

Accepter – to give an affirmative reply to
Acceptor – One who signs a time draft or bill of exchange.

Adverse – 1: acting against or in a contrary direction; hostile 2. opposed to one’s interests
Averse – having an active feeling of repugnance or distaste —usually used with to

Affect – to influence or change, as in, “The arrows affected Aardvark,” or “The rain affected Amy’s hairdo.” Affect can also mean, roughly, “to act in a way that you don’t feel,” as in, “She affected an air of superiority.”
Effect – 1. something that is produced by a cause or agent; result: 2. power or ability to influence or produce a result; efficacy: with no effect

All ready – completely prepared
Already – prior to a specified or implied past, present, or future time

All right – fairly good; acceptable or agreeable; suitable or appropriate
Alright – Not a word. It is a misspelling of “all right” (two words), which means “adequate,” “permissible,” or “satisfactory.”

All together – means “collectively”; everyone is doing something all at once or all in one place (1), as in “We sang the national anthem all together.” If you like, you can break up this two-word saying (2), as in “We all sang the national anthem together.”
Altogether – completely and fully; with everything added together; when everything is added up; in a general way; when everything is considered; collectively

Altar – a usually raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship
Alter – to make different without changing into something else

Ascent – the act of ascending; climb or upward movement
Assent – an act of agreeing to something especially after thoughtful consideration
Ban – to prohibit, forbid, or bar
Bann – An announcement, especially in a church, of an intended marriage

Baron – a title of honor, often hereditary. One of the lowest titles in various nobiliary systems of Europe.
Barren – incapable of producing offspring, seed, or fruit; sterile

Berth – a place to sleep on a ship, train, etc.; a place in the water near the shore where a ship stops and stays;
Birth – the time when a baby comes out from the body of its mother; the beginning or origin of something
Bodies – the entire physical structure of an animal or human being
Body’s – of one’s body – the body’s physical condition

Born – brought forth by or as if by birth
Borne – transported or transmitted by
Bourn or Bourne – A small stream; a brook. [Middle English, from Old English

Bread – Some you make a sandwich with
Bred – To produce offspring

Breath – 1. the intake and expulsion of air during respiration
Breathe – 1. to take in oxygen from (the surrounding medium, esp air) and give out carbon dioxide; respire

Bus – a road vehicle designed to carry passengers
Buss – an archaic or dialect word for kiss

Can’t – cannot
Cant – to talk or beg in a whining or singsong manner; Angular deviation from a vertical or horizontal plane or surface; an inclination or slope

Capital – the uppermost member of a column or pilaster crowning the shaft and taking the weight of the entablature
Capitol – a building in which a state legislative body meets; a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out

Cession – The act of relinquishing one’s right. A surrender, relinquishment, or assignment of territory by one state or government to another
Session – the meeting of a court, legislature, judicial body, etc, for the execution of its function or the transaction of business

Cite – to write or say the words of (a book, author, etc.); to mention (something) especially as an example or to support an idea or opinion
Site – the place where something (such as a building) is, was, or will be located; a place where something important has happened; a place that is used for a particular activity
Sight – the sense through which a person or animal becomes aware of light, color, etc., by using the eyes : the ability to see; the act of seeing someone or something; a position in which someone or something can be seen

Council, counsel, and consul are not interchangeable.

Consul – an official appointed by a sovereign state to protect its commercial interests and aid its citizens in a foreign city
Council – an assembly or meeting for consultation, advice, or discussion
Counsel – advice given especially as a result of consultation; a policy or plan of action or behavior

Consulter – To seek advice or information of: consult an attorney
Consultor – one who gives counsel, i.e. a counselor

Curser – someone who swears
Cursor – a mark on a computer screen that shows the place where information is being entered or read

Discreet – having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech : prudent; especially: capable of preserving
Discrete – constituting a separate entity : individually distinct

Dual – relating to or denoting two
Duel – A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules

Elicit – to draw or bring out or forth; educe; evoke: to elicit the truth; to elicit a response with a question.
Illicit – not permitted : unlawful

Emerge – to become manifest : become known
Immerge – to plunge, as into a fluid

Enter – 1. to go or come in; 2. to come or gain admission into a group: join —often used with into; 3. to make a beginning
Inter – to deposit a dead body in the earth or in a tomb

Epic – a long narrative poem recounting in elevated style the deeds of a legendary hero, especially one originating in oral folk tradition
Epoch – a point in time beginning a new or distinctive period

Faint – to pass out
Feint – something feigned; specifically: a mock blow or attack on or toward one part in order to distract attention

Fiancé – a man engaged to be married
Fiancée – a woman engaged to be married

Filet – a cut or slice of boneless meat or fish
Fillet – A narrow strip of ribbon or similar material, often worn as a headband. Also a strip or compact piece of boneless meat or fish

Flack – one who provides publicity; especially : press agent
Flak – complaints; criticism; negative feedback

Forbear – 1. to refrain or abstain from; desist from. 2. to keep back; withhold.
Forebear – A person from whom one is descended; an ancestor

Forego – to go before in place, time, or degree; precede. To precede, as in time or place
Forgo – to give up the enjoyment or advantage of : do without

Foreward – short introductory note in a published work
Forward – to or toward what is ahead or in front

Gamble – to play a game for money or property; to bet on an uncertain outcome
Gambol – a skipping or leaping about in play

Gel – a thick substance that is like jelly that is used in various products
Jell – to come to the consistency of jelly: congeal, set

Gest or Geste – a notable deed or exploit; A verse romance or tale. A prose romance
Jest – something done or said for amusement; joke

Gild – 1. to overlay with or as if with a thin covering of gold; 2. to give money to; to give an attractive but often deceptive appearance to
Guild – an organization, club, or fellowship

Gilt – having a golden color
Guilt – the fact or state of having done wrong or committed an offense

Hear – to receive a sound
Here – this place

Heard – having heard
Herd – a group, like cows

Jam – to cram or wedge into or against something: to jam paper into an incinerator; a food made by boiling fruit and sugar to a thick consistency
Jamb – either of the vertical sides of a doorway, arch, window, or other opening

Lessen – to shrink in size, number, or degree
Lesson – Something to be learned

Lightening – 1. to make lighter in weight: to lighten the load on a truck. 2. to lessen the load of or upon: to lighten a cargo ship.
Lightning – a brilliant electric spark discharge in the atmosphere, occurring within a thundercloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground

Loath – unwilling to do something contrary to one’s ways of thinking : reluctant
Loathe – to dislike greatly and often with disgust or intolerance : detest

Mantel – a beam, stone, or arch serving as a lintel to support the masonry above a fireplace
Mantle – archaic a loose wrap or cloak

Meat – animal flesh used as food
Meet – to come into the presence of

Need – a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation
Knead – to work and press into a mass with or as if with the hands
Kneed – to hit or touch with the knee

Offence – Chiefly British. Variant of offense
Offense – a violation or breach of a law, custom, rule, etc

Presence – the state or fact of being present
Presents – Gifts

Rain – water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated —that is, become heavy enough to fall under gravity.
Reign – 1. the period during which a monarch is the official ruler of a country 2. a period during which a person or thing is dominant, influential
Rein – 1. to control or direct with or as if with reins. 2. to check or stop by or as if by a pull at the reins <reined in her horse

Sac – a soft-walled anatomical cavity usually having a narrow opening or none at all and often containing a special fluid – this is the correct word when referring to a man’s ball sac.
Sack – a large bag made of coarse cloth, thick paper, etc, used as a container

Shone – 1. to give forth or glow with light; shed or cast light. 2. to be bright with reflected light; glisten; sparkle
Shown – 1. to cause or allow to be seen; exhibit; display. 2. to present or perform as a public entertainment

Sloe – the small dark globose astringent fruit of the blackthorn; Sloe Gin Fizz
Slow – lacking readiness

Tack – a short sharp-pointed nail, usually with a flat and comparatively large head: 2. (Brit) a long loose temporary stitch used in dressmaking, etc; stable gear; especially: articles of harness (as saddle and bridle) for use on a saddle horse; to modify one’s policy or attitude abruptly (to take a different tack.)
Tact – sensitive mental or aesthetic perception

Tail – section at the rear end of an animal’s body; in general, the term refers to a distinct, flexible appendage to the torso
Tale – 1. a report, narrative, or story: 2. one of a group of short stories connected by an overall narrative framework

Tenant – a person who holds, occupies, or possesses land or property by any kind of right or title, especially from a landlord under a lease
Tenet – any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc., especially one held as true by members of a profession, group, or movement

Timber – Lumber
Timbre – the quality given to a sound by its overtones; the resonance by which the ear recognizes and identifies a voiced speech sound

Until – up to the time that : up to such time as
Till – 1. up to the time of; until: to fight till death. 2. before (used in negative constructions): He did not come till today. 3. near or at a specified time; 4. Plow the soil
‘Til – truncation of until

Vice – bad or immoral behavior or habits; a moral flaw or weakness; a minor bad habit
Vise – a tool that is usually attached to a table and that has two flat parts that can be opened and closed by a screw or lever in order to hold something (such as a piece of wood) very firmly

While – at the same time that: please light the fire while I’m cooking
Wile – 1. trickery, cunning, or craftiness: 2. (usually plural) an artful or seductive trick or ploy 3. to lure, beguile, or entice

Who’s – contraction of who is
Whose – 1. what person or persons?: Who did it? 2. of a person of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.

Whit – The least bit; an iota: doesn’t give a whit what was said; not a whit afraid.
Wit – a form of intelligent humor, the ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny. A wit is a person skilled at making clever and funny remarks.

Wont – accustomed, used
Want – to desire

Wrack – 1: ruin, destruction. (Wrack and ruin) 2: a remnant of something destroyed
Rack – 1. a framework of bars, wires, or pegs on which articles are arranged or deposited: a clothes rack; a luggage rack; 2. a torture device consisting of a rectangular, usually wooden frame, slightly raised from the ground, with a roller at one or both ends. 3. a cause of anguish or pain; acute suffering; the action of straining or wrenching (To rack your brain.)

Wreak – 1. to inflict vengeance or to cause chaos; to wreak havoc on the enemy (Not wreck havoc) 2. to express, or gratify anger, hatred, etc.
Reek – 1. to emit smoke or vapor. 2. to give off or become permeated with a strong or offensive odor (a room reeking of incense)

Next month, I’ll have a list of phrases we use incorrectly.

Brita’s newest releases

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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads Basketball Jones – Chapter 7



In chapter seven of Basketball Jones, oh my god! Jade! Oh my god! Jade… she isn’t what she seems…. And this leaves me to question what sort of complications she will cause AJ and Dray in the near future. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

Continue reading

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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – All’s Fair In Love And Fonts



I’m gonna be blunt. Fonts are a bitch and a half. I think I’ve said that before, and guess what? You’ll hear it again, I’m sure.

The reality of a book cover artist whether you are accomplished or just starting out, or like me, just feeling your way blindly but thankfully having a few wonderful people to help guide, is that we artists have a vicious love/hate affair going on with the fonts of the world.

VICIOUS!!!

We swoon at the flowing lines, the sharp edgy edges, and the curly cue cuties. We drool over fonts that are so far out of our price range we silently offer up our children to an unforgiving universe at the mere thought of owning the typeface that is quite literally our unicorn in fontdom.

Disclaimer: A.J. Corza has no children to sell for fonts or otherwise, so no worries there…although, she does have a nephew. ;)

But even if we have access to unlimited funds, even if we own the best of the best, the snazziest of the snazzy fonts, we’re often thrown into the very depths of despair by that age old question; which one do we use on a cover? Which one do we download? Retro, San Serif, Calligraphic or Contemporary? Beyond the fact that there are so many fonts out there it can make your head spin, you have to also think of what color, how big, and where the hell do you place it to best compliment the cover art. Guess what, you maven of artistry? You are now well on your way to cardiac arrest.

And don’t even get me started on whether it’s free for commercial use, personal use, or if you have to pay for it. Just think about all that, plus the fact that we artists usually have to find pictures for your cover. I mean, you don’t want to be nude do you? Well, ok, some of you do, but in all reality you want something pretty to make people stop on the street and say, a la Keanu Reeves, “whoa”. PLUS, it needs to be good looking. At least we’re hoping for good looking, ’cause some covers are just, um, less than savory, shall we say? *whistles*

But I digress, we were discussing fonts. What I’m trying to get at is that fonts are maddening in a way that pictures never are. I’m speaking from my own experience, of course, so it could just invariably be my own foibles rearing their ugly heads, but for me, finding a good picture is easy. It’s finding a font that flatters that same picture and still stays true to the tone of the book that is often a hair pulling, teeth gnashing, grr arghing experience. I can’t tell you how many times my poor boyfriend has literally pulled my chair away from the computer and frog marched my butt to the couch, handed me my Kindle, and said go back to it later. And thank goodness he did or else I’d have to buy a new computer every other month!

So, to illustrate what I’m talking about, I’ve included an old one of my own ’cause anyone that knows me knows that the first person to point out the bad on my own work is…me. So let’s get to it!

This is an old cover that I did a long time ago. Yep, that’s right, this really bad cover is by me! *bows, collects flowers, smiles demurely*. This was during my first foray into making covers, which was for a friend who worked at Linden Bay at the time and yeah, I’d say I’ve grown. THANK THE STARS! That said, I am fully aware that the cover design for this is not quite up to par. Sub-par, parboiled, parsnip, parsley, I would ask for parlay, but it’s really not worth it. (If you haven’t seen Pirates of the Caribbean just ignore that last bit).

But seeing as how we’re discussing font mishaps, please do ignore the craptacular cover.

That said, I actually like the font itself. It’s nice and clean and easy to read. BUT why, oh why, did I feel the need to squash the title together at the bottom? And what is that terrible outer glow effect? The cover is boring enough as it is, the font is NOT helping. It’s beige. BEIGE!!! No gradient to make it pop a bit more, no variance of tone quality, just the color of the background. Perhaps next time I shall try a nice puce or 1970s harvest gold? Seriously, someone should have smacked me over the head for this color choice. And this is a prime example of one of those times when a fancier font would have given flair to the cover. Or a burlap sack, you know, whatever was handy. *hangs head in shame* I’m so sorry G.A. Hauser. Please know that it was not done intentionally. It was merely the artwork of a newbie artist. And congrats on your ongoing success regardless of this cover!

Reminder to self: boring is BORING! Is boring.

Ok, so here’s the skinny on what I’m trying to get across.

Fonts are not to be taken lightly. A font can make or break a cover. A font can make people pick up the book, especially if the title is intriguing. Hell, it can scream at you from across a damn room sometimes. But a font can also make people squint, get a spasm in their neck as they turn their heads trying to read it, and invariably it can have a customer putting that same book right back down on the table and picking up “Thirty Shades of Grey” instead.

We don’t want that!

So, for the artists, here are a few things to think about when selecting a font: Is it clear? Is it bright? Does it stand out from the cover art? Does it blend so much you can’t see it? Is it fitting the feeling/vibe of the story? Is it so fancy you can’t read it at first glance? Or is it too blah so as to make you start thinking of what’s for lunch? Is it too tiny at thumbnail size? Is it so big you can’t see the pic below it? (Unless of course that’s the point) Is it squished? Is it just not quite right?

And for the authors, remember when waiting for that artwork that choosing a picture takes time, doing the artwork, whether it’s photo manipulation or just a plain photograph that maybe needs some touch up, that takes time. But also remember that choosing the correct font…takes time. Putting the right color on that font, or that drop shadow with the correct distance and opacity takes time. So if you don’t like what the artist has chosen, take a step back, take a deep breath, and just ask if maybe there’s something else. And try to explain what you mean. Saying fancier and not actually explaining how is a whole ‘nother can of worms you don’t want to get into. Maybe say, more like wedding invitation fancy but more New York Times fancy rather than scroll work from the Ottoman Empire fancy. (I’m not actually sure how fancy the Ottoman Empire got with their fonts, but you get my gist). This will not only help you to convey the idea visually (which artists generally are), but it will keep your artist from pulling their hair out behind the scenes.

And lastly, remember, HAVE FUN WITH YOUR FONTS!!! Don’t get crazy, don’t get John Travolta on us when we’re looking for a little Kenny Loggins, but also don’t be afraid to try new dance steps with your title art. Sometimes you can end up very pleasantly surprised!

That’s it for this week, guys. Have a great day, and may all the good books be with you!

A.J

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All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn. And help this artist grow and learn as well!

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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett reads Basketball Jones Chapter 6



In chapter six of Basketball Jones, I live up to my faults but watch Dray like a hawk and feel very sad that I can’t hug AJ to death. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

I’m jumping right into this because this chapter is really short but there’s a lot of content. It may not seem like it, but it’s there, and it’s definitely showing me that AJ isn’t happy. Oh god, so many feelings for AJ are racing through my heart. I want to jump through the pages and hug him forever!
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Authors, Guest Contributor

Underground Anthology – Decisions, Decisions – By Sue Laybourne.


Having been a member of Absolute Write for several years, and having learned so much from being there, it was a bit of a no-brainer to volunteer my services as an editor for the Underground Erotica Anthology as a way of paying the community back. After a call for submissions was put out, the editing team received twenty or so submissions to choose from—all different interpretations of the ‘Underground’ theme.

Now, I have to confess, it’s been a while, and I’m getting on in years, so my memory isn’t what it should be, but here’s what I liked about each story:

Late Train, Karenna Colcroft: I loved the dark vibe to this one. It’s a great story for Halloween (not one you’d read to your kids, mind). And the ending was very clever and very unexpected.

Cigarettes and Chocolate, Maryn Blackburn: I’m a history geek, especially when it comes to World War II. I adore this story. It’s intense and haunting, and it really appealed to me on an emotional level. It had a lovely, poignant hint of romance that I love. Again, I didn’t see that end coming.

Moonshine for Three, Lauren Gallagher: What caught my attention about this one was the great ‘noir’ feel. It was like settling down on a rainy Sunday afternoon to watch it all unfold on the screen in black and white. The sex is definitely not old movie material, it is scorching!

Love Underground, Kate Lowell: This is a more literal interpretation of the underground theme. I love the two main characters, and it’s a romantic tale as well as being erotic. And the author did a fantastic job of putting the reader in that cave with the protagonists.

Original Sin, Jack L. Pike: I’m going to use a movie analogy again. This story reminds me of some of the edgier films made in Britain during the early 1970s. But what really caught my attention was the protagonists and their flaws. The setting is a clever take on the anthology’s theme.

Lord Lucien’s Lessons, C.P. Foster: Another historical, but this one set in the 19th century. Extremely hot sex and another ‘different’ interpretation of the underground theme, and as I told the author during edits, it has a lot of potential as the start to a longer story.

Dark Roast, Cleo Peitsche: This has a cheeky vibe, and is very, very naughty. It left me wanting more.

Resurface, Erin Lark: This definitely has a more romantic feel to it, and there is also some great sex. I love the slice of life vibe this one has and the wistful atmosphere.

It was a great collaborative effort and I was blown away by the talent of the authors and the many ways the ‘Underground’ theme was handled. It was fun to work on, and I think the end result is a really solid anthology, the naughty literary equivalent of a box of decadent chocolates.

NOTE: Sue writes as author S.A. Meade. You can find more information about her at Totally Bound and her Website.

BLURB:

Welcome to the Underground!

The erotica authors of the Absolute Write are taking you underground—sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. Karenna Colcroft’s haunting story gives sex in public an unexpected twist, and Erin Lark makes waiting out a storm into something special—and hot!— before Kate Lowell draws you deep into a cave for a steamy encounter. Lauren Gallagher sends you back to the 1930s for some gambling, bootlegging, and a little forbidden ménage, while Maryn Blackburn brings two enemies together in the wintery depths of World War II.

If you’re in the mood for something extra spicy, you’ll love how C.P. Foster opens up a very new world for a curious barmaid. And stick around because Cleo Peitsche and Jack L. Pyke keep the kink coming.

Come join us—but fair warning. Once you go underground, you may never want to come back…

All proceeds from this anthology benefit the Absolute Write online community.

We’re giving away an ebook copy of Underground Erotica with each stop on the tour.

Next Stop: Jack L Pyke talks about her story, Original Sin, at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews on March 3.

Links:

Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

Rafflecopter for Blog Tour Prize Packs:

To win the M/M stories:

Bite Me Tender by Kate Lowell
Choice of backlist by Lori Witt
Choice of backlist by Karenna Colcroft
A Good Feeling by S.A Meade
For The Long Haul by Azalea Moone
Make Mine to Go by Dilo Keith
Forgotten Menagerie Anthology from Storm Moon Press
Tease by Mina Kelly












For the M/F stories:

Stray by Erin Lark
Choice of backlist by Lauren Gallagher
Two books by Cleo Peitsche
Amazon Gift Certificate from Jack L. Pyke (10 pounds or American equivalent)
Immortally Theirs and Reaper’s Redemption (MFM) by Scarlet Day
Five Haunting Nights by CP Foster












Or leave a comment right here to win!

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Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett reads Basketball Jones chapter 5



In chapter five of Basketball Jones everything gets heated as the plot blazes into a startling and suspenseful kick off. You are so not prepared for what’s going to go down. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

Right, I am jumping right into this chapter because this is the chapter that things blast off from, and this is the start of what I’m sure will be a psychological roller coaster that will have me gripping the edges of my earphones and yanking on the pads.

There’s also huge development in this chapter as well, dealing with Drey and AJ, but I will get to that sweet spot in a bit.
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Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press, Guest Contributor

Words Don’t Always Mean What You Think They Do – A Guest Article By Brita Addams


As bloggers, reviewers, authors, or email writers, we are crafters of words. English is a wonderful language, with words for every occasion. We do, however, use many incorrectly.

I don’t know if my aversion to improperly used words and phrases is because I went to school eons ago or if we have become slack in our speech, but I cringe when I hear or see words that someone is trying to make mean something they simply don’t.

Below is a partial list of words that are used erroneously, some to the point that because of corrupted usage, they have actually come to take on the improper meaning. I start with my all-time favorite. We hear it all the time, which I reiterate, does not make it mean something it doesn’t.

Decimate

Means: to select by lot and kill every tenth man or to exact a tax of 10 percent
Does not mean: To completely wipe out or annihilate

Explanation:
The traditional definition of decimate is to “kill one in every ten.” In fact, “Decimation” was originally practiced by the Roman Army as a form of punishment. The more commonly accepted, modern definition of decimate involves extensive destruction. It’s important to recognize that neither meaning of decimate allows for the idea of absolute, total destruction.

Myriad

Means: a very large number of things.
To say “She has myriad ideas” is sufficient, whereas “She has a myriad of ideas” is incorrect.

However

If you use however at the beginning of a sentence and don’t insert a comma, however means “in whatever manner,” “to whatever extent,” or “no matter how.” For instance, Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” When you put a comma after however at the beginning of a sentence, everyone knows it means “nevertheless.” You shouldn’t start a sentence with however when you mean “nevertheless” or “but.”

Hello Giggles helped me out with some, from Ironic to Terrific

Ironic

What you may think it means: a funny coincidence
What it actually means: contrary to what you might expect

Peruse

What you may think it means: to skim or glance over something
What it actually means: to review something carefully/in-depth

Conversate

What you may think it means: to hold a conversation
What it actually means: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
We converse or have a conversation.

Redundant

What you may think it means: repetitive
What it actually means: superfluous, able to be cut out (The British use this word in downsizing situations)

Terrific

What you may think it means: awesome, fantastic
What it actually means: causing terror

Consent

Does not mean: To give one’s enthusiastic permission or agreement
Does mean: To passively agree, even if you have a negative opinion of what you’re agreeing to

Compelled

Does not mean: To voluntarily do something, usually out of a moral or internal impulse
Does mean: To be forced, obligated or pressured into doing something

Disinterested

Does not mean: Uninterested, as in “bored” by the outcome of something
Does mean: Impartial, not influenced by the outcome of something

Instant

Does not mean: Very quickly, with lightning speed
Does mean: A specific point in time.

Irregardless

Does not mean: Regardless
Does mean: Nothing, because it’s not a real word. (My mother, God rest her soul, used to say this all the time.)

Enormity

Does not mean: Enormousness
Does mean: A profoundly evil or immoral act

Chronic

Does not mean: Severe or intense
Does mean: A condition or state that lasts for a protracted period

I.E.

Does not mean: For example
Does mean: In other words

Ultimate

Does not mean: The pinnacle or the best
Does mean: The final entry in a list of items

Fortuitous

Does not mean: As if by luck
Does mean: As if by chance

Literally

Should not be used: To indicate strong emphasis (like the German “doch”) or as a way to comment on something that did not happen in reality but occurred figuratively
Should be used: To indicate that something actually happened

22 Everyday Words You Might Not Realize You’ve Been Using Incorrectly

Comprise

Incorrect Usage: My daughter’s play was comprised of three acts.
Correct Usage: My daughter’s play comprised three acts.

Explanation:
The meaning of comprise is, “to consist of.” In this way, it’s unnecessary to employ “of” in its use.

Bombastic

Incorrect usage: Gerald’s angry tendencies often turned into bombastic fits of rage.
Correct usage: Jane and I both agreed that the senator’s bombastic speech wasn’t going to prove conducive to any actual change.

Explanation:
There’s a tendency to assume the “bomb” in bombastic is similar to hot-tempered, ticking time “bomb”-like people. Bombastic, as an adjective that does nothing to describe a person’s temperament. Rather, bombastic is used to describe individuals who use complicated, fancy language with the sole intent of impressing others.

Noisome

Incorrect usage: The house party next door grew to be quite noisome as the night progressed.
Correct usage: The motorists were unaware that their vehicle had begun to spew noisome black smoke from its tailpipe.

Explanation:
Noisome has nothing to do with decibels, bass, or noise of any kind. Rather, noisome describes an unthinkably horrible smell. You can also use noisome in a scandalous sense, in instances where a person’s behavior is crass, unrefined, or lacking in moral judgment.

https://www.kibin.com/blog/incorrect-word-usage-choice/

Pristine

People think it means: “Spotless” or “as good as new.”
Actually means: “Ancient, primeval; in a state virtually unchanged from the original.”

Nonplussed

People think it means: Unperturbed, not worried.
Actually means: Utterly perplexed or confused. It comes from the Latin non plus (a state in which nothing more can be done).

Bemused

People think it means: Mildly amused.
Actually means: Bewildered or confused.

Plethora

People think it means: A lot of something.
Actually means: Too much of something, an overabundance.

Next month I tackle confusing pairs of words.

Until then, big hugs,

Brita

Brita LogoBorn in a small town in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals, as well as few contemporaries, have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her Tarnished series for Dreamspinner, received honorable mention, and is a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, historical romance category.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.

Readers can find Brita Addams at any of the following places:
Website
Blog
Twitter: @britaaddams
Facebook
Fan page
Goodreads
Pinterest
Booklikes
Monthly column at The Novel Approach

Newest Releases
Including 2013 Rainbow Award Winner Tarnished Gold – Historical Category

Click to Buy

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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads Basketball Jones Chapter Four


In chapter four of Basketball Jones, I am introduced to another character that definitely puts a new spin on the term “foreshadowing”, and I have a million predictions that make me want to investigate a few things. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

There are a lot of stories that contain what’s known as “foreshadowing.” To English teachers it’s cleverly placed hints as to what will happen later on in the story but are really hard to spot. To the casual reader they are just hints sprinkled into a narrative. Some catch them, some don’t.

Foreshadowing doesn’t have to be a vat of mystery, though, even though meeting Jade in this chapter’s enough mystery for a lifetime. Foreshadowing can also be a uniquely designed subplot, and I believe that’s what the author did in this chapter: design a subplot.
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Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett reads Basketball Jones Chapter 3



In chapter three of Basketball Jones I witness a scene that makes me want to hug AJ forever and then some, while realizing many aspects about this kind of relationship. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

Some people assume that if you have more money you have a lot more choices in life. They assume that since you have the ability to buy anything that you want to buy, you have all the freedom in the world. They have that kind of freedom, yes, but there’s a kind of freedom that rich people will never be able to have. Life choices.
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Guest Contributor, John Goode

John Goode Gets To The Heart Of The Matter In This Final Installment Of His Writing Series


Ok, so here on our last installment I want to go over the part that is the most important part of any story to me personally: the theme. What, at the end of the day, is your message, and how well did your story get that message across? I know you’re thinking, message? What message do I need? I am telling a story, isn’t that message enough?

No.

You see, an amusing or interesting story has as much value as the message it is trying to convey to the reader. The better the message, the longer the impact; the weaker the message, the faster it is forgotten for the next set of words placed in front of that person. As storytellers, we want our stories to keep talking to the reader well after they put the book down and to do that, you need a message, a theme that encompasses everything you just wrote.

To further this point, you need to look at your message and ask yourself, does this scene or character do anything to further that message along, or is it there just to fill up space and to be amusing? There are a lot of things that can happen in a book that make no sense to the overall message and when all is said and done, those moments are the ones the readers are going to look at and go, “Hmmm, what was the point of that?”

In my book Taking Chances, the theme is accepting yourself for who you really are. Not trying to be the person you think you want to be, be the person you need to be. In that measure, Tyler thinks he has to be this uber-straight acting jock type guy who can never let people in on his sexuality or emotions because that doesn’t fit his mindset. Matt thinks he needs to be this stereotypical homosexual, as if there is such a thing, and when he finds he’d rather stay home and watch Disney movies than go to a club, he thinks he is failing himself. Those two characters are pretty straight forward in the message, but there was one person that needed to be in the book to me.

Patrica, the transsexual hairdresser.

She gives what I think is the most important line in the whole book, which is, “And it’s okay. Most people assume I’m dressed as a woman, you know, like I’m in drag. I am not a female impersonator and this is not drag. This is who I am. There is a difference. We are all somebody inside, and most of the time we are too chickenshit to stare that person in the face. I stared into the abyss and when it stared back, it was wearing Revlon photo-ready concealer and cherry blossom lipstick.”

She is not there to give comedy relief, and she was not there to just throw in a gender confused character, which she isn’t. Patrica, not Pat, tells Tyler the moral of the story which is really for the reader, but if you don’t tell them, I won’t. We all have someone inside of us dying to get out, but we don’t let them because of society’s expectations, manners, embarrassment; whatever the reason, we lock them inside and long for the time we can be alone and ourselves.

It’s why we don’t burst out into song in the middle of a work day when you hear a song you like, you don’t tell the woman who you work with that she in an intrusive bitch and should back off, and it is the reason you put up with so much shit from your friends— because it is just impolite to speak the blunt truth most of the time. The book is about people trapped inside themselves and are making themselves miserable. There is no prejudice that does this, no oppressive society making them, it is their own hang-ups, and it is a huge problem at times in the gay community. Because of this, many gay men who read the book loved the message because they had gone through it, while some straight readers found the book tedious because it was stupid people doing stupid things, and they couldn’t figure out why they kept doing them.

Which brings us to the second part of your theme: Who are you talking to?

You cannot please all of the people all of the time. We all know the saying, and it resonates because it is true. And you cannot write a book for every single person in the world because it would just be a jumble of random things that ended up pleasing no one. You have to know who you are trying to talk to and hope the message is so strong that it captures other people as well. When I wrote Foster High, I wrote it for gay teens going through the hell that is high school right now. I didn’t write it for the parents or for straight kids; in my mind, I was trying to talk to sixteen-year-old me and saying everything I needed to hear back then.

It turns out, though, what sixteen-year-old me needed to hear was what a lot of other people still need to hear today. It struck a chord with straight kids, their parents, a lot of people I could never imagine reading a story about two gay teens in North Texas. I like to think it is because high school sucked, sucks, and is still sucking for a lot of people. The picking that happens on gay kids happens to a lot of people for whom the message of the book—which is, do not allow someone else make you miserable—hits home with a lot more than just sixteen year old me.

But I didn’t write it that way.

You can’t allow your desire to get as many readers as possible dilute what you think is your pure message. As a writer, I can only give you one piece of advice that I think is foolproof and can only help your career.

Write unpopular truths.

Do not think just because a subject has always been handled a certain way before that means it is the only way it can be handled. Speak your truth fearlessly, and I assure you people will respond. Your voice, your message, it needs to be as loud and as strong as humanly possible to make a difference. If you think something might offend or upset someone but you know it needs to be said, say it. Say it loud and say it often. There is only one you in the world, and you have to believe first that what you are trying to say will make a difference before anyone else will.

So there it is, my final writing tip to you. Find the message of your book and make sure that each scene, each character is part of a larger machine that exists to move it forward. Don’t be afraid to upset people and never, ever let someone else make you feel that you are anything less than what you are. Do not give them that ability, not a reader, a reviewer, and never yourself.

Remember, the only way your story will have any value to anyone else is if it has value to you first. That is the god’s honest truth, and it can never steer you wrong.

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