Tuesday, November 18, 2014

new york here i come, again and again and...!

Remember I went to New York City back in July to nominate Rainbow... For the GL book club there to read, and they asked me to come back for the discussion in four months? Well, that discussion was last Thursday and I was there. I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Well, maybe I would have for the whole world but since I wasn't offered the world I went to NYC as planned. I almost didn't make though. Twenty minutes before my bus was scheduled to leave I realized that I'd forgotten my photo ID, which I needed since I had an online ticket. I panicked and talked to the station manager who referred me to the lady at the ticket counter. I told her my issue and she said that normally I would have to purchase another ticket, which I could not have afforded to do, but that she would see what she could do. Luckily she was able to print me an over-the-counter ticket at no charge. My trips always seem to have some sort of self-sabotage in store. Remember my key drama in LA? Maybe I'm just a drama queen who needs to spice up his travels with a nail-biter or two!
     If I had been unable to go I would have been truly bummed out. I would also have missed out on my next promotional opportunity. While I was there I found an organization, also in the NYC LGBT community center, called  The Bureau of General Services Queer Division or BGSQD. They have a library/art gallery were they host art shows, book discussions/readings, poetry slams and things of that nature with queer themes. People can buy or borrow books and they sell the art as well. That night they were having a book discussion with the author present just like the book club I was meeting with. When they were done I went in and introduced myself to the person on staff. He was very friendly and told me everything about the bureau. I immediately saw another promo opportunity. Call me an opportunist all you want but today's authors had better be ''oppurtunist'' or their not going to build a readership or any other ship! Anyhow, When I got back home I e-mailed BGSQD and simply asked them if they would host a reading/book discussion for me. They replied with a yes and now were already in the planning stages!
    The book club I went there to discuss Rainbow Plantation Blues with liked the book, thank God! New York City weather that night was wet, rainy and cold so only five people were there but the facilitator told me that the group collectively bought fifteen books! It was also not totally clear or known that I was coming either. Nonetheless, everyone was very nice and had good questions and comments. I can declare it a rousing success!

Friday, November 7, 2014

sometimes you score and sometimes you don't

 I've been lazy lately and not blogging, but to my credit I have been doing other things. I made contact with some of the other authors from the book-to-screen festival via e-mail. I tried to contact five people and three replied. However, most of the people I met there I'll probably never see or hear from again. Nonetheless, I wish them all well. Anyhow, Diana Finfrock Farrar author of  ''The Door of  the heart'' replied. She told me that she got five request to read her book from the Hollywood reps- five request! Another author told me that he got two, like me, and the other author told me she got one. Diana also told me that she ordered and read Rainbow Plantation Blues. The only comment she had was that she thought it should be longer, by 100+ pages, but that she still thought it would make a good movie. From the tone of her e-mail, I don't think she particularly liked it over all.
    Speaking of not liking it, I got an e-mail from RainbowReviews.com today. I have been trying to get reviewed on their site for a year and a half and now I know I can forget it. After numerous tries, I had finally gotten one of their readers to pick up the book. But then I didn't hear from them for quite awhile. Today they informed me that two of their readers have read my novel and neither of them could write a positive review on it. Their policy is that they only publish positive reviews.
    I bought my bus ticket to New York City last week. Remember I went their back in July to nominate Rainbow... for that book club to read, and they voted to read it? Well, they also invited me to come back [In four months] to sit-in on the club's discussion of it and that discussion is next week! Going their on the heels of this RainbowReviews rejection could be a boost for my confidence[if they like it] or a real confidence killer if they don't. After all, it is New York City! If you can make it there you can make it anywhere, Right? My bus leaves Cleveland next Thursday at 5AM and gets there at 6PM. The meeting starts at 7or 8PM [I don't remember exactly] and my return bus leaves NYC on Friday at 12:30AM. So, I'll be there for a total of around six hours. I'll be on the bus four times as long as I'll actually be in NYC! I know that schedule sounds insane but I have to get back home so I don't lose anymore time on my day job. Such is a writer's life. You have to do whatever you have to do to promote your work, and everybody is still not going to like it! But you keep on truck'in regardless. I think of promotions and readers/readerships as like playing basketball. Sometimes you score and sometimes you don't. That's funny, that analogy also reminds me of my cruising days!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I've finally made a dent!

I received my Hollywood 2014 pitchfest results back on Wednesday and two movie studios/production companies are reading my novel! There were ten studio/production company reps there. They sent us ten response cards that had the book title, the authors name, a ''pitch review,'' best medium for adaptation, personal feedback and the company response. The pitch review section has three sections; originally of idea, marketability and effectiveness of pitch. The reps could choose from ''very''[original, marketable and effective], ''somewhat...'', or ''needs improvement''. Each rep had to check one box. ''Medium for adaptation'' had five categories, studio feature film, independent feature film, television series, movie of the week and theater. The personal feedback section could be any personal comment they wanted to make and the company feedback box gave then one of two options: ''please have Author Solutions send a copy of your book for further concideration'' or ''not what our company is looking for at this time.''
    Like I said, I had two companies check the ''please have Author Solutions send us a copy...'' box and everyone of them checked the ''independent feature film box'' but everything else was a mixed bag. That's okay though. It's just their professional opinions about my originality, marketability and pitch. Although nobody said my ''originality of idea'' needed improvement, some said my marketability and pitch effectiveness did. That's to be expected[in my professional opinion]. You can't please everybody. But others said I was very marketable and loved my pitch! The interesting thing about all this is that some companies loved or liked my originality, marketability and my pitch but my story simply wasn't what their company is looking for right now. So, they didn't have Author solutions send them a book. I'm satisfied with my results from the pitchfest. I now know that I have the ability to write a professional pitch that can get results. All I can do now is wait and keep saying my affirmations/meditations.
    This is not the first time in my life that I tried to take Hollywood. Back in 1987 I moved there hoping to become a singer/song writer. For years, I took voice lessons, sang in cabarets, did community theater, recorded original music and sent out demo after demo but the Hollywood machine is tough to crack. After ten years of all that I got nowhere, but all these years later I've made a dent. I've finally made a dent! My heartfelt thanks goes out to Author Solutions.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the police, a jerk-off [literally] and no word

I still haven't heard anything from Author Solutions[ the company I work with on all of my major promo campaign's]on whether or not any of the movie studio/production company reps chose to read my novel or not. If nobody chose to read it it's all over! If they did, then I could still have a chance to get optioned. Part of me wants to know and part of me doesn't. Anyhow, all I can do right now is wait and hope. But today a co-worker told me that she had a dream where I came to work telling everybody that ''I got it!'' She said that the ''it'' was something related to the book-to-screen festival.
    I've been thinking a lot about my trip to LA lately, the parts not related to the book-to-screen festival. On the bus to L.A. I met some pretty interesting characters. I use the word ''characters'' because that's exactly what they were.Characters! It was a long ride from Cleveland to L.A. and people tend to get to know one another spending so much time together. They also tend to get diarrhea of the mouth! People were telling me, a perfect stranger, their life stories! On the other hand, who better to air all your dirty laundry to than someone you'll never see again? Little did they know I was an author who finds peoples stories fascinating. I was hanging on their every word!
    Some aspects of the bus ride were even more outrageous though. On the way back there was a guy sitting in the seat across the aisle from me who decided to jerk-off right there on the bus! I couldn't believe it! I could see everything [which was quite impressive] and he couldn't have cared less! Also on the way back some police got on the bus and started asking passenger's where they going and if they could search our luggage! In the end, I was the only passenger who refused to tell them where I was going or let them search my backpack. Why should I have? I had done nothing wrong. I was sitting there minding my own business and trying to get home. So, I saw no reason for them to know where I was going much less search my baggage. They thanked me[for nothing I guess] and moved on.
    Something happened my first full day in L.A. that threatened to defeat the whole purpose of my being there in the first place. My aunt had gone to work in the morning and left me a set of keys to her apartment. I decided to go for a walk and to the grocery store at about 10 AM. After I got what I wanted and was leaving the store, I realized I didn't have my aunt's keys! I went back into the store and asked the cashier if anybody had turned in a set of lost keys. She said no. Then I retraced my steps throughout the store thinking I might have left them on a shelf or something, but they were nowhere to be found. By now I'm starting to panic! I repeated the retracing of my steps and asking that same cashier if anybody had turned in a set of lost keys at least one-hundred times! I had gone way beyond a state of panic. I was in tears and probably looking like a crazy person, which I'm sure is what prompted the police to make a u-turn on the street and question me. First they asked me what was wrong. I told them my lost key story and then they asked me if I was in trouble with the police or had any warrants, felonies, etc! I was taken aback and told them no. Well, I guess that's all they cared about because then they said ''well, we hope you find your keys" and sped off!
    By now it was about 12 noon. I couldn't contact my aunt, who wasn't going to be home until around 6 PM. But I was suppose to be at the opening reception for the book-to-screen festival at 4 PM. The California sun was beating down and I was beaten down! I had no place to go except my aunt's apartment and I knew nobody.  I was ready to say screw everything and hop a bus, plane, train or even walk back to Cleveland! But something told me to check the grocery store one more time. I did my step tracing and asked the cashier again but.. So, I started walking through the parking lot feeling like the whole thing was over. I thought I'd be late as hell for the reception and would just have to tell my aunt that I lost her keys. I thought I would also have to wounder the streets for hours until my aunt got home! Then,while at the end of the parking lot and about to turn a corner, I heard a voice calling for the man in the red skinny-jeans. That was me, of course. It was a store worker telling me that someone had turned in a set of keys! They were found in the orange bin. I looked over and saw the cashier dangling them in the air. The key-ring glistened in the sunlight. I couldn't believe it! The moment I had no more fight in me and was ready to call it quits, the whole situation had changed! I thanked the cashier and by 12:30 PM I was in my aunt's apartment eating my lunch. It had been a two hour ordeal and I sat there in total disbelief that it had even happen. I was on time for the reception and the rest of the trip went well. I told my aunt what happened and she was not mad at all. In fact, we had a laugh about it and she told me about a similar situation she recently had had.
     Now, all I need is the real happy ending - a movie option for Rainbow plantation Blues!

Friday, October 3, 2014

LA at last! part one

I guess I should call this post  ''home at last'' because I'm back from LA. Anyhow, the book-to-screen festival was amazing! There were 126 authors there ranging in age from 11 to 84! I didn't get to chat with most of them but I did chat with and/or exchange business cards with about 10 to 15 of them.
    We had a meet and greet reception on Friday evening and the actual pitch-fest was all day Saturday. The first part was a lecture on pitching, which was quite interesting. The second part was practice pitching. We broke up into two groups and presented our pitch[s] to a Hollywood ''Pitch-pro''[ I made up that term] for critiquing. He seemed luke-warm to mine but, then again, nobodies pitch was perfect according to him. He said mine was not a ''high-concept''[action packed, thriller type movie] and that dramas, comedies, etc. were harder to sell. He also said that period pieces are hard to sell because they are expensive. He said all I had was an idea and that I need to describe something interesting that happens in the story to grab the reps attention. In the end, I just added that it is a character driven drama along the lines of Roots or Mandingo with a Gay twist. I must admit I was alittle demoralized after his critiques. I spent so much time preparing before the event! I read two books about pitching to Hollywood, from which I took eight pages of notes. I watched tons of YouTube videos on pitching. I read on-line articles on pitching and by the time I arrived in LA I had written five drafts of my pitch! I had also said[and am still saying] tons of positive affirmations pertaining to my pitch and the final out come as it relates to Rainbow Plantation Blues and my success at the pitch-fest. So naturally, I thought I had a pretty good pitch! In the end, all I did was add two more sentences.  Here is the pitch I actually gave to the studio/production company reps:

[logline] What if a pre-civil slaveholder is gay and in love with a male slave?
 The name of my novel is Rainbow Plantation Blues

It is South Carolina in 1850 and Jonathon Thomas is a slaveholder and Kumi is his slave. Interracial love, sex and relationships are taboo and illegal, and the word sodomy is synonymous with the word gallows! But Jonathon is in love with Kumi who is another man and, moreover, a Black man! Not wanting to shame his family or go to the gallows, he marry's a pretty Southern belle hoping he'll forget his same-sex desires, but they only intensify. Hopelessness and despair threaten to overtake him but a good friend, with a secret of his own, helps Jonathon to regain his focus and clarity and triumph in the end.[here's the part I added after the critique] Rainbow Plantation Blues is a character driven drama that addresses the Gay and Lesbian side of slavery and the antebellum South. Imagine Roots or Mandingo with a Gay twist!

A ''logline'' is a summery of your story in one or two sentences. There are three parts to a good pitch: the set-up, the conflict and the conclusion. I feel that I had them all. We two minutes to deliver our pitch! Mine ended up being about a minute long, but that was a good thing because the reps had lots of questions for me!
    The actual pitching part was wonderful! I forgot all about my demoralization, dived right in and zoomed right though it! It was over before I knew it! I pitched to about ten reps in fifteen minutes moving from table to table speed-dating style. Now, all I can do is wait. We wont know if any reps want to read our books for about another week. We'll also be sent comment cards with their comments on them soon. So, that was my experience with the 2014 Los Angeles pitch-fest. Now, I had some experinces with LA, too! I'll talk about them in part two.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

rainbow plantation blues is on a roll!

I had my first radio interview last night on 91.1 WRUW and it was amazing!! I have no idea how many people heard it but a friend e-mailed me and told me that I sounded good and did a nice job, so at least I know that it reached the airwaves. Sarah[ the show host] was brilliant and professional and the whole thing moved effortlessly. It felt so good that it was over in the blink of an eye! That interview was the fastest hour of my life, but  I wanted it to last forever! Anyhow, thank you for the opportunity, Sarah. I'll never forget it!
    All week I've been cramming to understand/study pitching and to perfect my pitch for the pitchfest next weekend. I refuse to go into this with some cocky or casual attitude as if my story is the shit[even though it is] and I don't need to polish my pitch/presentation. I 've already read an entire book on pitching called Pitching Hollywood and I've started another called The Perfect Pitch. I have five pages of notes[so far] and I am on the fourth draft of my pitch. I intend to be studying, taking notes and practicing until the moment I give first actual pitch to a studio rep! The more I study pitching the more refined my pitch becomes. I actually find movie and television show pitching to be quite interesting. It's a career for some people! You have to be assertive, persistent, imaginative and personable. I have all of those traits when I work at it. But I don't know if I could keep them up 365 days a year!
    Other aspects of the trip are coming together, too. I made arrangements to stay with an aunt, who just so happens to live fairly close to the pitchfest venue. I still have to get outfits to wear. My wardrobe needs updating anyhow, but whatever I get is coming out of a thrift store!. My spending money is looking like it's going to be tight. Nonetheless, I'm off to L.A. next week whether I can eat or not!LOL! Rainbow Plantation Blues is on a roll and it will not be stopped, even if I die!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

now, pitch this !

All week I've been drafting my pitch and studying pitching via YouTube videos and on-line articles. After three drafts I think I've finally got it to where I want it. Now it's just a matter of practicing my presentation. I don't have to have it memorized but I think I want to have it pretty much memorized so that I can be looking the reps in the eye while I'm pitching to them.
    I received the itinerary from the organizers and it says: ''you will have 2 minutes at each of the 7 tables in your assigned room for a total of 14 minutes of pitching time. One by one, you will rotate to each table in speed-dating style format until you've pitched at all 7 tables. You will be assigned a 14 minute window, within the 1:30-5:30 PM time frame.''
    The first day there's an evening reception[basically a wine and cheese] where we meet all the authors and the organizers and find out what studios, production companies, etc. we'll be pitching to. The next day we meet at 7 AM for breakfast, a morning lecture on pitching, a practice session, lunch, the actual speed-pitch with the reps and then the wrap-up and close around 5:30 PM. Sounds pretty groovy, huh! Pardon my retro word but sometimes they just fit, you dig me?
    Anyhow, here's my pitch draft:

    Hello, my name is Robert L Sheeley. The title of my novel is Rainbow Plantation Blues. It's the story of an antebellum slaveholder who falls in love with a male slave.

    Johnathon is the main character. He's young, he's rich, he's handsome. Kumi is his interest. He's smart, he's resolved, he's viral! And Rainbow Plantation is a place of privilege for some but of pain and suffering for others.

    It is South Carolina in 1850 and Kumi is a slave and Johnathon is his master. But ownership of another human-being is considered perfectly normal and legal. It is interracial love, sex and relationships that are taboo and illegal, and the word ''sodomy'' is synonymous with gallows!
     So, this makes for quite a dilemma for Johnathon who is in love with Kumi, another man and a Black man! Not wanting to shame his family and go to the gallows, he Merry's a pretty Southern belle, with a nice dowry, to help him forget his sodomite desires, but they only intensify.
    As hopelessness and despair threaten to destroy Jonathon, a good friend, who has a deep connection to him a secret of his own, helps him to regain his focus and clarity and triumph in the end.

So, that's what I have right now. It's about one minute thirty-seconds but I think I want to leave a little time for questions or in case I screw-up!LOL!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

to tinseltown on the greyhound !

I've got some really great news! I'm going to Hollywood, CA! I got this opportunity to go to what is called a ''book-to-screen festival'', seemingly out of the blue and at the last minute. All I can say is I must be meant to be there.
    Anyhow, it's at the Century Plaza Hotel in L.A. and it's a two day event. In a speed-dating format about 150 authors from all over the U.S.[and probably other counties] will have two minutes to pitch their book to Hollywood Movie studio and production company reps and other agencies and management companies, etc. The event package includes:

   via mail
* a pre-event pitch draft kit
   day one
*[evening] a welcome reception at the hotel to meet the organizers and the other authors[networking time!]
   day two
* breakfast
*[morning] we'll have a ''how to pitch'' seminar/presentation
*[mid-morning]we'll start practicing our pitches.
*do our speed-pitching to the actual studio, production company, etc. reps!!
*prior to our arrival in L.A., our books will be registered with the Writer's Guild of America to protect our unique ideas, which remains valid for five years.
* The top two pitcher will get the opportunity to pitch via video to Tom Jacobson for possible optioning by his production company. I have not yet researched who Mr. Jacobson is but he must be a VIP in the movie business. Part of me doesn't want to know. I'm nervous enough!

    I've been drafting a pitch idea for the past couple days and I think it's pretty good! I've also been watching ''how to pitch'' videos on YouTube for pointers. I'll post it next week.
   It may seem insane to travel all the way to Cali by bus but I haven't been west of the Mississippi since 1988! I want to see the prairies, the Rocky Mountains and the dessert again. They're absolutely stunning! And besides, whats the rush? So, Rainbow Plantation Blue's energy will finally knock on Hollywood's door. I don't know what it all means But I'm going to do my best and have some fun, too!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

91.1 FM WRUW

I have some really good news! I'm going to be doing my first radio interview for Rainbow Plantation Blues! It will be on 91.1 FM WRUW, which is Case Western Reserve Universities radio station. The interview will be on Tuesday September 16th 2014 at 9 PM. I'm not sure of the shows name but it's a show that discusses issues/themes of social justice and equality and the host is a young women named Sarah Robinson.
    I got the gig quite by chance[if there is such a thing]. I was at work and Sarah and her partner came into the shop to get subs. I had seen her in there before but I never talked to her at length about anything. But for some reason this time we started talking about veganism. I told her that I am a fruitarian[although lately I have been a bad ''fruity'' because I've been eating veggies, too]. As far as my being Gay is concerned I'm never a bad fruity and I'm always ripe and ready! Okay, that was a bad joke But I don't care I'm leaving it anyhow. Anyway, Sarah and her partner had just come from some women's party associated with the Gay Games and they started telling me about it. At first I didn't know that they were a couple, or even Lesbians for that matter, But them telling me about the party told it all. In light of that information, I got the bright idea to tell them about my novel. Then Sarah said ''Oh, you've written a book? I could interview you on my radio show!'' Then I said ''Oh, you have a radio show...?'' And the rest is history, or should I say the rest is ''historical fiction!'' Boy, I'm just full of bad jokes today aren't I? Well, I don't care. I'm leaving that one, too!
   The funny thing about this is that about a year and a half ago I had been trying to contact radio shows to see if I could get a few of them to interview me about the book[ and Case radio had been one of those stations] but I got nowhere, or did I? That's why I said earlier that maybe this interview is not just some ''by chance'' thing. Natural law[ or some people might call it God] works in mysterious ways. The thought of a radio interview was the farthest thing from my mind when I was talking to Sarah and her partner.
    So, I met Sarah last week at a local smoothie shop to give her an author copy of the book so she could read it and look it over before the interview. Like I said at the beginning of this post, this radio interview will be my first but I'm certain it will not be my last!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

fannie johnson 1932 - 2014 part 2

This is the speech I read at my grandmother's funeral. I gave the back ground regarding it in my last post if your asking yourself  ''why the hell is he posting this?'' Here's the speech:
    For those of you who don't know who I am, I am Fannie's first grandson.
    I would like to talk about the Fannie Johnson that I knew. Growing up with her in the 1970's and 80's was  a joy. She was that storybook kind of grandmother who always made sure my belly was full and I had a warm and cozy place to sleep when I came to visit her in East Cleveland. She was never mean or distant and only had kind and uplifting things to say to me.
    When I went to Hollywood to become a rock star all she said was ''bring me back a hit record!'' When I didn't bring her back a hit record all she said was ''well, don't worry about it. Just try something else.'' When I came out to her all she said was ''yeah, and...?!'' Your my Grandson, right? So, what else matters?
    All I ever got was forty-six years of pure love and kindness from her, period. No additives, no fillers, no artificial colors or flavors.
    I took all this for granted and it took me decades to realize what a gem of a person she was. When I became mature enough to realize that the world did not revolve around me, I asked her about her like. I was shocked to hear that she had been through so much and I never even got a hint of it! Smiles, encouragement, hugs, and kisses was all I ever got from 1968-2014.
    Fannie Johnson, I solute you, I love you and I thank you for being my friend for every moment of our lives together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

fannie mae johnson 1932 - 2014

On July 22nd my grandmother passed away. It was no surprise because, first of all, she was up in age and her health had been failing for some time. But even when the writing is on the wall it's not an easy thing to except.
    I decided I was going to speak at her funeral. I am not a good extemporaneous speaker, so I wrote a speech/tribute to her. I had several goals when I set out to do this. First, I wanted to be truthful and honest with my feelings about her and with the final analysis of my forty-six years with her. I also wanted to move people through those years in a visual way. I wanted people to be able to visualize me as a boy in the 70's, a teen in the 80's, a young adult in the 90's and 2000 zero's[if that's the correct term for the first decade of a century] and a middle-aged, but still hot and sexy, man in the present. Look, you can call me conceited but I say if you've got it don't deny it - amplify it![LOL] Anyhow, I also wanted to move listeners emotionally with a little sentimentality, a little humor and a little personal nostalgia. Listen to me- a little sentimentality, a little humor... was I writing a speech or seasoning a dish? But on the other hand, maybe crafting a good speech is the equivalent of a chef crafting a gourmet meal. Spices/seasoning can make or break a dish. And just as food is nourishment for the body, words are nourishment for the soul. So, I guess I was right to be concerned about that delicate balance of ''flavors'' just as a chef would be, and I was given just two minutes to convey that balance! It was my ''quickfire challenge'' like they have on Top Chef[one of my favorite reality shows].
    The funeral was held on July 30th. I had written my speech several days prior and I did read it but I just barely got through it before I broke down into tears in front of the other mourners. After the service an aunt of mine from my mother's side of the family[it was my father's mother who passed] came up to me and told me that I had had her in tears as she sat way in the back of the church and listened to my tribute. That let me know I had done what I intended to do, but I will post the speech on this blog next week so you can decide.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

gay games and google dispalys

First I would like to welcome the 2014 gay games to Cleveland! The kick-off to the games and the other week long events started yesterday. The city is buzzing with activity and my pride in being a Clevelander is magnified tenfold.
   Last week I left off talking about tenacity, so I would like to talk about my latest example of tenaciousness. Remember tenacity is basically the willingness to do whatever it takes [short of a blood sacrifice but not ruling out the writer's couch] to succeed as an author. Scratch that comment about the ''writer's couch.'' I guess I'm just super horny these days. Right now I'd get on that couch book deal or no book deal! Anyhow, let me get my mind out of the gutter. Where was I? Oh yes, tenacity. My latest example of doing whatever it takes is buying a Google display marketing network ad. These are those ads that appear on web site for people to click on and be taken to another web site to buy something. In this case it will be to Iuniverse's web site to buy Rainbow Plantation Blues. It will appear on 2,000,000 web site world wide.
    It's going to cost me $500.00 which I will pay in three monthly installments from August through October. The ads will begin just in time for the book buying season in November and run for thirty days. I know it sounds like a lot of money for only thirty days but 2,000,000 web sites is an ambush and it will [I'm certain] increase awareness of my novel by well over a million in a very short time. Everybody who sees the ad wont click on it and everybody that clicks on it wont buy it but they will at least know about it and there will be a percentage of people that will buy it.
   I will be working with Iuniverse for the next few months to design the ad, select key words and go over the web sites it will appear on. But I'd better not miss any of my payments or I'll be subject to all kinds of late fees and penalties if I want to continue the project. The package is normally $699.00 up front but I talked them down to $500.00 and a payment plan, so I'm sure I'll be okay. Things will be tighter for the next couple months though.
     I'm really excited about his project and I'm sure it will have some sort of impact. I'll be back next week with another electrifying, spine-tingling, intoxicating, titillating and just plain exciting post[LOL]. Happy Gay Games 2014!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

calling my woot! part three

Tenacity. This is the last word represented in the ''woot'' acronym, but it is most certainly not the least important. In fact, if the acronym's letters were placed in order of importance it would have to read ''twoo'' [tenacity,willingness, objectivity, optimism]. personally I don't know which reads worse, woot or twoo. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that tenacity is key to successful authorship. Actually, tenacity is key to successful anything!
    The article "The Four Characteristics of Author Attitude and Why You Need Them,'' from which the woot acronym comes from, says that an author has to be willing to do whatever it takes to reach his/her goals. It talks about the need for determination, persistence and perseverance. It also talks about the need for a shear love and/or passion of writing, authorship, publishing, etc. and how money cannot be ones prime objective. These things might seem like common sense but, first of all, everybody doesn't have common sense and many people are simply not trained and/or experienced in them. They're almost like a set of skills that some people are born with and others have to study, learn and practice.
    I personally see myself as someone who has them naturally to various degrees and from time to time. They seem to fluctuate with me. But I am always aware of tenacity and it's power because I've seen it work for me. Refer back to my July 13th, 2014 post entitled ''I Love New York'' for an example of tenacity at work! I have a number of  experiences over the six years since ''Rainbow Plantation Blues'' was published where the principles of tenacity have worked for me, but by no means have I mastered them. I wonder if anybody ever does 100%. Anyhow, I really do have a strong belief that my novel is well written, unique and timely and those beliefs drive me forward.
     Speaking of tenacity, my next post will impart another example of my being tenacious. I'm starting a new promotional project that I'm really excited about. Stay tuned next week, same time same channel, for details!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

calling my woot! part two

 Last post I talked about an article called ''The Four Characteristics of Author Attitude and Why You Need Them.'' Willingness and objectivity represent the first two letters in the acronym that reads ''woot''. Well, actually willingness and optimism represent the first two letters of the acronym but I mixed them up because I'm an airhead! Anyhow, with this post I'll talk about optimism and tenacity, the other two letters of the acronym.
    Everybody knows the basic definition of optimism but how does it apply specifically to authors? Well, we authors have to endure a lot of rejection and criticism for one thing. Whether it's from agents, publishers, readers, reviewers, you name it, somebodies going to have something to say! And somebody having something to say is never a bad thing no matter what they say! With that said, how do you deal with this whirlwind of advise, opinions, etc.? The article says that one must see everything that happens to them on their writing journey as ''pushing them closer to successful authorship''. I agree with this 100% because whenever somebody takes the time to give you their honest opinion it's a gift simply because they gave your work some attention. I would like to add that nothing worth having is going to be easy to attain, so one could also view criticism and rejection ''optimistically'' by seeing it as a sign of progress. Not only does it give you a chance to improve your work but you can strengthen your resolve to reach your goals and have breakthroughs from it. I have experienced this firsthand. I also try to remember that fiction writing is an art form and all art is subjective. So, it's insane to take rejection and/or criticism personally because you have no idea of peoples personal prejudices, taste, etc. Authors have to take it all with a grain of salt and learn how to go inward and discern the meaningful feedback from the rest.
    Wow! Author optimism is a huge topic in and of itself. Writing this post has really got me to reflecting on my own optimism. I'm going to stop here and do a part three to discuss tenacity. I'm worn out!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

calling my woot! part one

July 6th 2014. What's so important about that date you ask? Well, only that it's the last day I've written anything, unless you count this blog. And why haven't I written anything since July 6th you ask? Well, it's not because I've been lazy or unmotivated. It's because I been blocked. I've had writer's block! To be perfectly honest I've never really had writer's block in all the years I've been writing, only motivation problems. But now, for the first time, I'll sit down to write and nothing is coming out! I don't know where to take my story. I don't have any ideas! This has been going on since July 6th.
    Rather than wallow in my writing problems by stuffing my face and watching DVDs I decided I must find creative ways to get myself out of this rut. So, I've been reading articles about writing in effort to get my writing juices flowing again. A member of my writer's support group gave me an interesting article called The  Four Characteristics of Author Attitude and Why you Need them by Nina Amir. It talks about the importance of willingness, optimism, objectivity and tenacity, which make the acronym woot! Anyhow, willingness means to be able to sit back and reflect upon where one is as an author/writer and what it will take to get one where he/she wants to go. Am I willing to look at my self objectively and change some of my old habits and/or beliefs in order to get myself where I want to be? I would add to ''willingness'' by saying am I ready to take risk!
    Objectivity means can one look at their work/idea from a business standpoint. This means to craft ones work to meet industry standards and needs, which are always focused on marketability and sales in the end. You have to be willing and able to take criticism and make changes that you, as the author, may not be able to see or understand. Authors are very close to their work, I know this for a fact, but learning to see/write it in a way that would appeal to masses of people is a skill in and of itself. It's like a comedian telling a joke that's funny to him/her but not considering whether their audience will get it.
    I just realized that I skipped optimism and went straight to objectivity, which tells me that I'm not focused on what I'm doing. Luckily there both O words in the acronym. Anyhow, I'm going to split this post into two parts and go focus on stuffing my face and watching some DVDs. Hay, I didn't say I never wallowed in my writing problems!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I love new york

Last Thursday [7-10-14] at 2:00AM I hopped a bus to NYC to nominate Rainbow Plantation Blues to be read by an LGBT book club that meets once a month at the NYC LGBT community center. Then, on Friday [7-11-14] At 12:35AM I hopped a bus to come back home to Cleveland. Yes, I spent a total of about twelve hours in NYC and a total of about twenty-three hours on the bus! It was a crazy, insane, whirlwind trip but it  payed off because the book club voted to read my novel. There were two other books nominated but mine beat them out. When the meeting was over a member told me that about a year ago an author showed up at their meeting to nominate his book for the group to read but it was still voted down. And to this day they still haven't read it!
    They nominate their books four months in advance to give everybody time to get the books and read them. So, they will be discussing mine in November and they asked if I could come back for the discussion. Of course I said hell yeah! Well, to myself I said that but out loud I said ''yes, I would be happy to do that'' all calm, cool and collected. There were ten people there including myself and I passed out the business cards I had made prior to the trip.
    My bus arrived in NYC around 11:30AM but the meeting wasn't to start until 8:00PM, so I had over eight hours to kill. I just explored the city on foot, did a lot of people watching and drank smoothies. I 've been to NYC many times before so I know my way around Manhattan but the one thing that was new to me was the city bikes they have now. You can rent bikes and explore the city, or whatever else you need to do, by bike as well as on foot. I love the hustle and bustle, the diversity, the pulse and the concrete jungle that is NYC, and It really is ''the city that never sleeps''. It was dark by the time I walked back to the bus station from 13th st to 42nd st but there were still as many people on the streets as there had been when I arrived at 11:30 that morning! There's no place else in America like NYC.
     The bus ride back was torturous! We went through upstate New York and stopped in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo along with a few other towns I've never heard of. Then it was onto Erie, PA and finally Cleveland. It was a fourteen hour ride. I got no sleep and I had to go to my writer's support group and  then to my day job when I got back. Still, I have no regrets and I'm glad I took the risk in going. The book club had no idea I was coming and I had no idea how things would pan out. It just goes to show that you have to roll the dice in life and see what happens because you never know!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

call me kuchu : a review

Recently I watched a documentary called Call Me Kuchu[kuchu means queer in Swahili]. It's about the activism of murdered Ugandan Gay right activist David Kato. The documentary itself was good but I did have trouble reading the subtitles sometimes. The lettering was in white and the backdrops were often too light, so the words would blend into them. The subtitles also went fast and I had to keep pausing and backtracking. Other than that it was quite good and informative.
    Kato was murdered in 2011 for his activism, although the official story says that it was by a male prostitute over money. I guess we'll never know what really happened but I don't see how it was not an assassination. Uganda has a disgusting stance on LGBT rights. They recently passed the Anti-Homosexual Bill[ that's what it's called] that Kato was working to stop. The bill says that anybody found to be LGBT, abating anybody LGBT or not reporting somebody who is LGBT can be imprisoned and/or executed! It also says that this applies to any Ugandan living abroad! Of course the international community has spoken out against this but, lets face it, every county commits human right violations.
    Africa came to be so anti-gay in the first place because of the colonist who came there and imposed their anti-gay laws on the locals. Now, most of those colonial powers have changed their laws but most of Africa is still steeped in the prejudice and misunderstanding that the colonist created. Africans in general think that homosexuality is some kind of Western plague but Uganda is a Christan county. This is equally ironic because That's something that was imposed on them, too! The situation is a hot buttered mess! But the good news is that Uganda's LGBT people are not giving up. They have an organization call SMUG[sexual minorities Uganda which Kato helped to found] that has a very articulate and courageous[and handsome I might add] executive director named Frank Mugisha.
    I already knew that South Africa has marriage equality and constitutional protection for It's LGBT citizens but watching this documentary motivated me to find out more about LGBT people in the whole of Africa. I found out that there are about fourteen countries that have no laws criminalizing homosexuality but they don't protect it either. The rest of them specifically criminalize it. The degree to which they criminalize and enforce these laws probably varies from country to country, but Uganda's must be one of the most extreme.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

happy pride!

Yesterday we had our pride celebration here in Cleveland, OH, and what a celebration it was! The weather was hot and sticky but that didn't stop thousands from attending. It started out with a parade which ended at Vounivich Park, the festival site, and went on until about seven or eightish PM. It had all the typical features of a pride event : drag shows[which I love] a beer garden[which I can do without]vendors, dancing, food and special guest performers.
     All of the performers[that I saw] were great but Debbie Gibson stood out for me. Yes, we had that 80's teen diva right here in person at Cleveland pride yesterday! Of course she's no longer a teen and the 80's are long gone, but Debbie looked amazing, and her show was flawless. Well, she did have some sound trouble. She said she didn't have a chance to do a sound check before her show, so she sort of incorporated it into the show. It was very clevor. I didn't even realize that that was what she had  done until a freind pointed it out to me after the show. You could tell that Debbie is a seasoned professional who's been performing for along time.
    Looking around the audience I was aware that very few people were under forty. It made me think of how fast time flies and of how old I am, seeing as I remember her music when it was topping the charts! Okay, I'll admit it, I'm actually a couple years older than Debbie! But hay, what are you gonna do? I can say that being a forty something, okay an upper-forty something, didn't stop me from wearing my red skinny jeans and form-fitting pullover! I looked better than half of the twenty somethings there and I got enough attention from some of them to prove it!
    Anyhow, age and looks aside[ wait, did that statement come from a Gay man?] it was a great pride. In fact it was the most enjoyable pride I've ever been to and the only one where I stayed all the way until the end.
   One more thing. I met a guy[no, not the guy who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with] named Robert banks who is a short film maker. I'm always fascinated by people with ambitions, especially creative one's, and so I just had to talk to him and hear about his work. Also, the friend I came with got a business card from a women has written and self-published a book. I didn't get to meet her but it did make me think that I should have business cards made. Pride would have been a great place to pass them out, and I'm always telling people about my book anyway. Why not give them something to hold on to?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

a writer's fast

We had our writer's support group last night.  Two people couldn't make it but there were still four people there including myself. We talked about writer's block vs. motivation/ having time to write, the structure of a short story and three people read some of their work. I was one of the three. Now, this meeting went on for two hours! I guess only true writer's would find conversations about the structure of a short story and writer's block vs. motivation/time to write interesting enough to talk about for over an hour. Most people would find those topics to be an instant cure for their insomnia! But not us writer's. We all left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
   Another thing we touched upon was what I call ''speed noveling.'' One of the group members had recently done it. Speed noveling is when you write an entire novel in some insane time frame, like one month. It's an exercise that people do to hone their chops or to simply get the job done. I guess you could say it's like a writer's fast. When you fast you do anything but eat but when you ''speed novel'' you do nothing but write! What else could you be doing if you finish a novel in a month? Now mind you, these novels are far from publishable but that's not the goal/point. And the writer can always go back and take all the time that he or she needs to edit it and turn it into something publishable because all the basics, story line, characters, etc. are there.
   If my writer's fast stuff makes no sense to you don't worry because I'm not so sure I get it either. Look, I had a late night last night, Okay! And it's still early[if you call 2:12PM early]. Anyhow, I need to go a ''writer's fast.'' At the rate that I've been writing for the past month or so you could say I'm on a writer's gluttony. At least I have been doing some marketing and promotions for Rainbow Plantation Blues.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Okay, Okay, I'm pathetic!!

So, it's been nine months since I've been on this blog. Nine months! Is that pathetic or what? Actually, I'm being too hard on myself because even though I've not been blogging I haven't been totally feckless. I increased my readership toward the end of last year simply by telling people about Rainbow Plantation Blues and back in March of this year I started a fiction writers support group. We meet at a local book store every two or three weeks. It's been really successful so far. There are four amazing people that have been coming since day one and one person that started coming with the past two meetings. The group has really helped me to get my motivation to write back by connecting with other local writers. I call the group psychotherapy for writer's. We read our work for feedback and talk about all aspects of the writer's life and world. It's very stimulating and refreshing. I just hope the group last.
    Back in April I started contacting LGBT book clubs/groups nationwide to drum up interest in Rainbow Plantation Blues. So far I've gotten six book clubs to take notice and two lending libraries. My goal is to spread the word across the country. I know there are still a lot of people who don't know about the book but would like to. I want people all over the nation to know about Kumi and Jonathon and their lives at Rainbow Plantation.
   When I stopped blogging I pretty much stopped working on the sequel, too. I didn't pick it back up again until after I started the writer's group. I had left off on page 317[longhand] and now I'm on page 341 or so. I have not been writing everyday, or I'd be a lot further along, but I have been doing the promotional stuff I mentioned earlier. So, I've not only been watching keeping Up Appearances[ a BBC sitcom], Castle, Globe Trekker TV and a host of old black and white movies, while stuffing my face with fresh fruits and vegan chicken[it's made from soy].
    My last post, you know the one from nine months ago, is a analysis of my study of the book A Queer History of the United States. I stopped studying the book when I stopped blogging but I'm going to pick that back up, too. I'm not going to push myself to blog five days a week like I did before. I think I'll try one to three days a week this time. But as of this posting I'm officially blogging again!