Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tomato Tossing?


Woot, guys! My one Q&A is up at The Romance Reviews today! It's question nr. 2:


Casper in Hot Hands has been a victim of what?

 a: Tomato-tossing
 b: Fry-thieving doves
 c: Sail-by goosing
 d: Attacks from the midget vamps

Yeah, I had fun making those answers, hehe.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Win Absolutely Eric!


I'm happy to announce that I have an estimate for Absolutely Eric's release. It's expected to come out (and be proud!) at the end of April or beginning of May. I didn't think it would be so soon, but I'm glad it is :) Can't wait to share this book with the world.

There's a contest running on Goodreads. What you have to do to enter is to put Absolutely Eric on your to-read list there and you might win one of the two copies I'm offering. If you have no desire to open up an account at Goodreads, worry not, because there will be more contests later. 

I have a 7 line excerpt to share, since I did the Lucky Seven on Facebook:


Lucky Seven:
1. Go to page 77 (or 7th) of your current ms
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other authors. No cheating
My lines:
The place is pumping, and the beat is thumping by the time Adam, Jesse, and I arrive at eleven PM. As always, I skip the line and walk straight up to Stan the Doorman. He immediately lets me in exchange for a kiss on the cheek, which I gracefully give him. It takes me a while to gather my bearings in the flashing lights and sea of partly naked arms and shoulders. Adam calmly surveys the place while Jesse’s eyes nearly pop out at the sight of the loin-clothed men dancing in cages.
It’s Tarzan night again. (Copyright © by Erica Pike)

Okay, what else? Isn't the cover gorgeous? It's a Dan Skinner photo that I'm particularly proud of having, since I'm a big fan of Dan's. 

I'm finalizing the SWAG for GayRomLit 2012, and it features this cover. I'll share it with people once we get closer to October. It's nothing short of awesome. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

PayPal Censorship Over. Hopefully.


Well people, it's been a few days since PayPal sent the announcement that they're backing off with some of their demands. Or that's how I see it. What they said was that this was their intention all along! Can you believe that?

Here are snippets from Anuj Nayar's, PayPal's director of communications, blog post on the UPDATE: PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy:

After talking with some of our affected merchants and other interested parties, we wanted to clarify exactly how we are going to implement the policy.

First and foremost, we are going to focus this policy only on e-books that contain potentially illegal images, not e-books that are limited to just text. The policy will prohibit use of PayPal for the sale of e-books that contain child pornography, or e-books with text and obscene images of rape, bestiality or incest (as defined by the U.S. legal standard for obscenity: material that appeals to the prurient interest, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value).

In addition, the policy will be focused on individual books, not on entire “classes” of books. Instead of demanding that e-book publishers remove all books in a category, we will provide notice to the seller of the specific e-books, if any, that we believe violate our policy.  We are working with e-book publishers on a process that will provide any affected site operator or author the opportunity to respond to and challenge a notice that an e-book violates the policy. (Emphasis is mine)

Okay, "illegal images, no e-books that are limited to just text": bullshit that this was their original intention! There's no way at least four different publishers/retailers misunderstood PayPal's original intention. Their intention was so clear the Bookstrand caved under the threat immediately and kicked out most of their indie authors and new publishers (one of my publishers included) - even those who didn't write/publish erotica (theory is that they were happy for the excuse to do it - I don't know if that's true). Kudos for that last bit of bold text - they're learning to play nice.

Why do I say "their original intention"? Here:

Our primary interest in this matter has always been to come to a mutually agreeable solution that allows freedom of expression, while still ensuring PayPal is used in ways that fully comply with applicable laws and our policies. (Emphasis is mine)

Uhuh. That's why the publishers/retailer were calmly thinking things over, because they had daaays to think about agreeable solutions. Bullshit! They had next to no time to comply, and only got an extension when people started protesting.

Would have been better if they'd just owned up that they made a mistake - there's nothing wrong with that, but instead they go some backwards way of explaining what they "originally meant"...to try to make it look like they'd been misunderstood? A simple "we have decided to revise our decision regarding the restriction of erotic content... yadi yadi yada..." would have shown them in a much better light.

To be clear, we have not shut down the PayPal account of any of the e-book publishers involved in this matter.  PayPal is committed to working with publishers on a mutually acceptable process to address potentially offending books on their sites so that material with images that violate this policy cannot be purchased using our service. (Emphasis is mine)

There are those "images" again. How-oh-how did the four retailers misunderstand that? Yes, that's me being sarcastic. No, they did not shut down any of the publishers/retailers, but they did hold a gun to their heads and threatened to fire if they didn't comply (always wanted to quote the Star Trek's Borg: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."). That's been clear all along. It wasn't until Mark Coker of Smashwords stepped in and started negotiating. I believe that man can talk his ass of to anyone and make them feel like the outcome is a win-win (which, in this case, it was).

I was fairly quick to shift my eyes from the retailers to PayPal/credit card companies, because I don't like bullies and they were displaying bullying behavior. But get this, it wasn't until after both Visa and Mastercard had sent out letters saying that they had nothing to do with PayPal's crackdown that PayPal sent out their update. I can't say for sure if that's why they decided to back off with their demands, because Mark Coker *did* go in person to meet them, but it sure looks fishy. Though I believe Mark Coker was a big reason PayPal backed down, I think it's been a mix of things:

Thanks so much to all those who signed petitions; blogged; kept lists of what was happening and thereby kept us updated; sent mails and inquirites to PayPal, newspapers, news sites, organizations, credit card companies, and all sorts of social media. Hell, I contacted 60 Minutes. I have no idea if they made inquiries, but at least I tried! PayPal said there was some "chatter" - I say there was an uproar.

Anyway, I'm happy that it's over. They can still change things in the future, but for now it seems we have won. 

Here's Coker's letter in full:

March 13, 2012

Smashwords author/publisher update:  PayPal Reverses Proposed Censorship


Great news.  Yesterday afternoon I met with PayPal at their office in San Jose, where they informed me of their decision to modify their policies to allow legal fiction.

Effective last night, we rolled back the Smashwords Terms of Service to its pre-February 24 state.

It's been a tumultuous, nerve-wracking few weeks as we worked to protect the right of writers to write and publish legal fiction.  

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Smashwords authors, publishers and customers.  You stood up and made your voice known.  Thank you to every Smashwords author and publisher who wrote me to express opinions, even if we disagreed, and even if you were angry with me. You inspired me to carry your cause forward.   

Smashwords authors, publishers and customers mobilized. You made telephone calls, wrote emails and letters, started and signed petitions, blogged, tweeted, Facebooked and drove the conversation. You made the difference.  Without you, no one would have paid attention. I would also like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). These three advocacy groups were the first to stand up for our authors, publishers and customers. Their contribution cannot be overstated.  We collaborated with them to build a coalition of like-minded organizations to support our mutual cause. Special kudos to Rainey Reitman of EFF for her energy, enthusiasm and leadership. 

I would also like to thank all the bloggers and journalists out there who helped carry our story forward by lending their platforms to get the story out.  Special thanks to TechCrunch, Slashdot, TechDirt, The Independent (UK), Reuters, Publishers Weekly, Dow Jones, The Digital Reader, CNET, Forbes, GalleyCat & EbookNewser and dozens of others too numerous to mention.  

I would like to thank our friends at PayPal.  They worked with us in good faith as they promised, engaged us in dialogue, made the effort to understand Smashwords and our mission, went to bat for our authors with the credit card companies and banks, and showed the courage to revise their policies.  

This is a big, bold move by PayPal.  It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction.  It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.  

Following implementation of their new policies, PayPal will have the most liberal, pro-First-Amendment policies of the major payment processors.  Will Google Checkout and Checkout by Amazon be next now that the credit card companies have clarified their positions, and have essentially given payment providers the permission to adopt more enlightened policies?   Finally, thanks to Selena Kitt of Excessica and Remittance Girl for helping me to understand and respect all fiction more than I ever have before.

This is a bright day for indie publishing.  In the old world, traditional publishers were the arbiters of literary merit.  Today, thanks to the rise of indie ebooks, the world is moving toward a broader, more inclusive definition of literary merit. Smashwords gives writers the power and freedom to publish.  Merit is decided by your readers.  Just as it should be.

Thanks,

Mark Coker
Founder
Smashwords


Lastly, I'd like to say:
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That's right. Dictionary.com says that freedom of speech guarantees... "the rights of free expression and action that are fundamental to democratic government. These rights include freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. The government is empowered, however, to restrict these freedoms if expression threatens to be destructive."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Pat's Day Winners!


I had 42 entries (one excluded at request) and these are the winners:

For The Walls Have Ears: PaParanormalFan! (#39)
For Grade-A-Sex Deal: Melanie! (#27)

Congrats girls ^.^

And for the grand prizes...

For the Kindle/Nook: Melissa L!
For the $90 GC: Shadow!

Congrats everyone! This was so much fun ^.^ 

Want a free read? I'm still working on the Goodreads M/M Romance group free read, but I still have that very short NBP free read: In His Pocket to offer. Just keep hitting the continue button until you get the download link (ignore the warnings). I'm happy to say that In His Pocket has been at the top of the NBP store's most sold/downloaded books since opening day in January :) Thanks to everyone who has downloaded. Hot Hands has been there also since its launch and is now in the 10th place. 

My next giveaways will be:

Sunday March 25th at The Romance Reviews
Friday-Sunday April 6th-8th here during the Easter Hop
Sunday May 13th at Guilty Pleasure Book Reviews
Thursday May 17th-20th here during Hop Against Homophobia (the m/m-only blog hop)

Then, of course, there's two copies of Absolutely Eric to win at Goodreads. Add it to your to-read list there and you're in :)

My newsletter should be ready by the 25th, for those who want reminders and updates - possibly even a contest  or two :)


Hope to see you then :)

Header image credit

Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Pat Day Blog Hop - Kindle Fire/Nook Tablet


We don't celebrate it here, but all the green makes me think of summer, so I'm in! 

There are two grand prizes. This is for the overall hop - not something I'm offering single handed ;) 

Grand Prize 1: Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet (winner's choice)
Grand Prize 2: $90 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner's choice)

Here's the main site. The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have of winning.

But I know you're all here for MY prizes! (Come on, you know you are!). I'm giving away one e-copy of Grade-A-Sex Deal and one e-copy of The Walls Have Ears (once it releases) to two different winners (one book each). If you're interested in buying them, please click on their links to see the info on my webpage. Please, if you don't read m/m, let me know in your comment and I'll exclude you from my drawing. You'll still be entered to the grand prize drawing :) It'll give m/m readers more chance to win a book of their liking.

The Walls Have Ears:
Short and scrawny college student Harley Santos has a strange relationship with the guy on the other side of his bedroom wall. For weeks, the two have been masturbating to each others voices, but they have never met in person. 

When Harley's roommate (Ryan) is asked out on a date by one of his neighbors, Harley is devastated that his wall-mate mistook not-hot Harley for super-hot Ryan. Helping Harley through his heartache is Tasha Novokov, the other neighbor, who is tall, dark, and impossibly handsome. 

When Harleys affections shift to Tasha, his heartache hits an all time high because with all the girls hanging around, Tasha has to be straight.

Grade-A-Sex Deal:

When College professor Daniel Corrigan was brutally kicked out of his home after revealing his true sexuality to his wife, he had to make a whole new life for himself. For the first time in two years Daniels main heartache isnt the none-existent relationship with his two kids, but the fact that the grade-A-sex deal with his student Troy Anderson is about to expire. After a whole semester of office fun, Troy has managed to squeeze his way into the core of Daniels soul. Daniel, however, is positive hes nothing more to Troy but a teacher who can modify a grade. 

Now, I'm supposed to talk about something Irish. I've been to Dublin once and loved it there. It was the first big European city I'd really had the chance to explore and I was fascinated by all the statues. Only a couple of weeks after I got back, I received a pen-pal request from an Irish guy called John. This was back when pen-pals used snail-mail and you waited in anticipation for the next delivery. Anyway, John ended up visiting Iceland and fell for my best friend. They dated for a while, broke up, and then got together again years later. They're married today and have a little girl :) Anyway, when I got my first phone call from John, I could not understand a WORD he was saying. Man, that accent had me going "yes...uhuh...mhm...yeah...oookay..." But I got used to it and have no trouble speaking with him on the phone today. The Irish I know are a jolly bunch and we get along great humor-wise. Almost as well as Icelanders and Australians (who are a perfect mix).

Anyway, just leave a comment below with your email address and you'll be added to the contest :) Happy Hopping!


Wait! While I have you here, I'd like to remind everyone of the M/M-only blog hop on May 17th: Hop Against Homophobia. Over 160 m/m authors, reviewers and publishers have signed up and we're expecting more before May rolls in. It's a great cause (held on the International Day Against Homophobia), so please mark it down if you're an m/m lit lover :) If you're an m/m author/reviewer/publisher, feel free to sign up.

Before I go, if you want to win a copy of Absolutely Eric (see the new cover!!), I'm having a giveaway at Goodreads, drawing two people who've added it to their to-read list before the book comes out. Giveaway ends on release day :)

Okay, hop, hop, hop!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

PayPal Censorship Update: Breakthrough! Maybe.


Wow, people. There was a new message from Smashwords on the 12th of March saying:

"PayPal update:  I met with PayPal this afternoon at their office in San Jose.  They will soon announce revised content policies that I expect will please the Smashwords community.  Effective immediately, we are returning our Terms of Service to back to its pre-February 24 state.  Beyond that, our friends at PayPal have asked me to hold off sharing additional details until they've had a chance to finalize their new policies. Thank you for your patience and support during this crazy last few weeks."

I'm sitting here with a huge grin on my face. Technically this wasn't my battle, since I don't write what was being banned (well, that free read, but that was free so I wasn't losing any money), but I felt it was necessary to join the uproar because censorship of literature is wrong if it interferes with freedom of speech/press (which basically says that you can publish what you want, as long as it doesn't directly encourage illegal activities (racism, child abuse, murder etc.) - or that's what Milton said). 

I'm trying to be calm, though, because I want to see an official statement from PayPal. Are they taking it all back? Or just parts? Which parts? It'll be interesting to see...

For those curious, I posted about Visa's denial of having pressured PayPal and now there's been a denial from MasterCard as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bile and Brimstone: The PayPal Censorship


Wow, people. I don't know how to feel. I'm elated that Visa's given a response to Remittance Girl, saying they have absolutely nothing to do with PayPal's censorship. But I feel like throwing up when I read PayPal's blog post on the matter! Can you say double standard? Maybe the should hire some of the writers of banned erotica to write on their blog posts, because what this guy wrote - and the way he wrote it - catapults me into a fit of rage. Not the effect they want when they're trying to "set the record straight" and calm the people who have been "chattering" about PayPal's decision. 

I'm off now, to sit in a corner and breathe for a bit.


Header image credit
Cat image credit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bullying

Bullying is always a sore subject for me. I was bullied as a kid and I worry like hell it'll happen to my kids. Bullying has already made its way into two of my stories. I have no reason to believe it won't show up in more stories.

I'm posting this video in support of anti-bullying.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Spending Spree


And it's not just today! JMS Books is having a 40% discount of all its ebooks starting today and ending next Saturday. Who are JMS Books? They're one of the ones who stood up to PayPal and decided to drop them as a payment processor. They only accept credit cards now, but that's not stopping me (quite the contrary) :)

J.M. Snyder's Vic and Matt books are some of my all-time favorites with wonderfully grumpy Vic. I thought Snyder was a guy for the longest time. And they say women write differently than men ^.^

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday LOL Cats: Cat Speak


I've been a bit serious in my posts lately with the whole PayPal censorship issue, so I figured I owed people something a little lighter on a Friday. One of the things I like doing late at night is to scroll through "lol cat" pictures. They sometimes make me laugh so hard I cry. What are lol cat pictures? They're pictures of cats in various poses that have text written on it - usually words the cat would be thinking/saying. 

A lot of people hate what I've come to call "cat speak", which is basically a mix of net speak, cuteness, and how the English language sounds ("moar" instead of "more"). Sometimes it's without the net speak, and very often it has a wrong ending to the words ("eated" instead of "ate"). Your average lol cat would flunk the simplest English test. 

Not every lol cat picture uses cat speak. This one, for example, is a classic "statement":

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Sometimes non-cat speak picture just aren't as funny. This picture, for example, could have a funnier text if written in cat speak:

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Erm, yeah.

But sometimes normal language on a lol cat picture can be funny too:

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Am I done? Not by a long shot! I intend to talk more about lol cats every Friday for a while now, so be ready for the funnieez ^.^ Ahem, aside from that one, I promise not to revert to cat speak myself. But this is a writing blog. What do lol cats have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing other than to get your mind out of the story for a while ;)

Header image credit - this picture, by the way, was the first lol cat picture I ever saw.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Win a Book or Three!


There are currently TWO giveaways running:

Stumbling Over Chaos is giving away a copy of Hot Hands AND Grade-A-Sex Deal (both for one winner). Just leave a quick "I'm in" and you'll be added to the pot.

Joyfully Jay is giving away a copy of A Life Without You and it's the same deal: quick "I'm in" and you're in.

What's on the agenda today? Real life stuff :/ But tomorrow I intend to finish editing The Walls Have Ears ^.^

Have a great almost-Friday everyone!