Sunday, July 20, 2008

'08 Pride March in My Town

Representative Tammy Baldwin (D - WI)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bi the Way...

For a number of reasons, my husband and I have been a lot more out about being bi lately. No one who didn’t already know has been terribly surprised. And perhaps the most unexpected positive experience was how well my husband’s Catholic family took the news, and how supportive they were when he told them. Wow! That means a lot to us.

But myths about bisexuality are pervasive and strongly held, and since I’ve been doing a lot of explaining and debunking lately, I wanted to address the topic here. The most common assumption seems to be that my husband and I must have same-sex partners during our marriage, and that if we don’t, then being bi is sort of a “hypothetical situation,” such as being attracted to people from a certain ethnicity, but not actually having sex with them.

Well, fact is, we’re a lot more boring than people assume--married 19 years and still monogamous. And yet we’re bi to the very core of our identities. Part of what works so well for us as partners is that we understand on a deep, fundamental level what it’s like to be bi in an either/or world where most people don’t feel comfortable with shades of gray.

As an author, being bi is about my political determination to make bisexuality a bit less invisible through my writing. As an individual, bi is as much a sexual orientation as being gay, lesbian, transgendered, or heterosexual. Bi isn’t something I became; it’s the orientation I was born with.

Being bi includes my feelings of differentness, stretching back to grade school, and encompassing everything about my adult self that doesn’t quite “fit” in straight society. Bi is about the emotional connections I make, my dreams, my fantasies, my politics, my feminist pagan spirituality, the books I read, the online forums I belong to, the magazines I pick up, the articles I celebrate or cry over in the morning paper…

I could go on, but you get the idea. Whereas society often defines “bisexual” as just about “sex,” for someone who’s bi, identity combines many factors. There are so many other bi myths that, rather than attempting to address them all, I’m going to include a frequently quoted essay on bi myths and realities, by Sharon Forman Sumpter.

Myths and Realities of Bisexuality
By Sharon Forman Sumpter

Sexuality runs along a continuum. It is not a static "thing" but rather a process that can flow, changing throughout our lifetime. Bisexuality falls along this continuum. As Boston bisexual activist Robyn Ochs says, bisexuality is the "potential for being sexually and/or romantically involved with members of either gender."

Myth: Bisexuals are promiscuous/swingers.
Truth: Bisexual people have a range of sexual behaviors. Some have multiple partners; some go through partner-less periods. Promiscuity is no more prevalent in the bisexual population than in other groups of people.

Myth: Bisexuals are equally attached to both sexes.
Truth: Bisexuals tend to favor either the same or the opposite sex, while recognizing their attraction to both genders.

Myth: Bisexual means having concurrent lovers of both genders.
Truth: Bisexual simply means the potential for involvement with either gender. This may mean sexually, emotionally, in reality, or in fantasy. Some bisexual people may have concurrent lovers; other may relate to different genders at various time periods. Most bisexuals do not need to see both genders in order to feel fulfilled.

Myth: Bisexuals cannot be monogamous.
Truth: Bisexuality is a sexual orientation. It is independent of a lifestyle of monogamy or non-monogamy. Bisexuals are as capable as anyone of making a long-term monogamous commitment to a partner they love. Bisexuals live a variety of lifestyles as do gays and heterosexuals.

Myth: Bisexuals are denying their lesbianism or gayness.
Truth: Bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation, which incorporates gayness. Most bisexuals consider themselves part of the generic term "gay." Many are quite active in the gay community, both socially and politically. Some of us use terms such as "bisexual lesbian" to increase our visibility on both issues.

Myth: Bisexuals are in "transition".
Truth: Some people go through a transitional period of bisexuality on their way to adopting a lesbian/gay or heterosexual identity. For many others, bisexuality remains a long-term orientation. Indeed, we are finding that homosexuality may be a transitional phase in the coming-out process for bisexual people.

Myth: Bisexuals spread AIDS to the lesbian and heterosexual communities.
Truth: This myth legitimizes discrimination against bisexuals. The label "bisexual" simply refers to sexual orientation. It says nothing about sexual behavior. AIDS occurs in people of all sexual orientations. AIDS is contracted through unsafe sexual practices, shared needles, and contaminated blood transfusions. Sexual orientation does not "cause" AIDS.

Myth: Bisexuals are confused about their sexuality.
Truth: It is natural for both bisexuals and gays to go through a period of confusion in the coming-out process. When you are an oppressed people and are constantly told that you don’t exist, confusion is an appropriate reaction until you come out to yourself and find a supportive environment.

Myth: Bisexuals can hide in the heterosexual community when the going gets tough.
Truth: To "pass" for straight and deny your bisexuality is just as painful and damaging for a bisexual as it is for a gay. Bisexuals are not heterosexual and we do not identify as heterosexual.

Myth: Bisexuals are not gay.
Truth: We are part of the generic definition of gay (see Don Clark';s Loving Someone Gay.) Non-gays lump us all together. Bisexuals have lost their jobs and suffer the same legal discrimination as other gays.

Myth: Bisexual women will dump you for a man.
Truth: Women who are uncomfortable or confused about their same-sex attraction may use the bisexual label. True bisexuals acknowledge both their same-sex and opposite-sex attraction. Both bisexuals and gays are capable of going back into the closet. People who are unable to make commitments may use a person of either gender to leave a relationship.

It is important to remember that bisexual, gay, lesbian, and heterosexual are labels created by a homophobic, biphobic, heterosexist society to separate and alienate us from each other. We are all unique; we don’t fit into neat little categories. We sometimes need to use these labels for political reasons and to increase our visibilities. Our sexual esteem is facilitated by acknowledging and accepting the differences and seeing the beauty in our diversity.

Sharon Forman Sumpter
From Hutchins, L., & Kaahumanu, L. (Eds.). (1991).
Bi any other name: Bisexual people speak out. Boston: Alyson.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sexy New Cover


I got my cover for Broken Pentacle, my August 19 Loose Id release, and Anne Cain once again did a wonderful job! She has the concept of "hot" down to a science! I love it!

Broken Pentacle is the sequel to Nature's Pentacle, but can be read as a stand alone novel if you like starting series out of order like I do. Here's the blurb (still in it's unedited form, but I want to give people at least a taste of what the story's like).

After a year spent recuperating from a rogue witch’s attack, Sky agrees to draw Jaimis — her former lover, torturer, and rapist — out of hiding, determined to discover the identity of his followers before they subject others to the hell she suffered. With her magic shattered from the trauma, she needs to rediscover her sensual nature before she reclaims her gifts. Hesitant to trust, she didn’t plan on bonding with one witch, let alone two. But if premonitions prove true, the key to healing and survival lies within a scorching ménage.

Alec blames himself for failing to protect Sky when the rogue witch left them close to death, and he’ll do anything to see Jaimis dead. During interludes when they’re not scrambling to stay one step ahead of death spells or human thugs, Alec strives to reawaken Sky’s sexual nature, eager to help mend her broken magic. He entices her into sexy baths, making love under the pines, and erotic desserts in which he coats her with honey and fruit. But when Sky and Zach, their bodyguard and Alec’s former lover, turn the tables and put Alec on the menu, he’s ill equipped to let his guard down and accept their tantalizing ministrations.

As Alec struggles to overcome the violence and loss in his past, his deepening bond with Sky and renewed affection for Zach pull him into a web of conflicting loyalties and attachments. And yet to survive what lies ahead, the three of them must pull together in a tangle of bodies, hearts, and magic, combining power and passion.

My other news this week is that I just got a contract from Loose Id for Fighting the Undertow, one of my favorite manuscripts. Surprise, surprise, this one has a ghost as the paranormal element, rather than witches, but it's still got my trademark menages.

Here's the (again, rough and unedited) blurb for Fighting the Undertow:

For Ian and Val, falling for each other is all too easy. But his sexy friends, her career goals, his writer’s block, and a troubled spirit redefine the meaning of the word complicated. Fascinated by the ghost, Val presses for information about Ian’s deceased brother, but meets a wall of silence. When she discovers that his emotional, sexual connection with his friends held him together after his brother died, she’s intrigued and frightened by the erotic pairings within the group. She suspects entering into his world will involve expanding her sexual experiences in ways she’s never imagined.

With Ian, Val begins an erotic journey, but when she uncovers secrets about his family, his brother’s death, and the group’s sexual history, she panics. Although the friends have become the family she always wanted, she's not sure whether she's ready to enter into Ian's world of polyamorous relationships, or whether she and Ian have a ghost of a chance at happiness.

Hope everyone's staying cool this summer!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Some Promotion Insights

Lately, so many loops have been talking about "what works" for promotion. Of course, the reply is usually, “Try lots of different methods!” And that's my approach. But in reviewing my website statistics the past few months, I've had some insights into some things that seem to be working for me, so I thought I'd share. I'm too new an author to track book buying trends and link them to specific promo successes, but overall, I'm happy with my sales, so something's working.

Before I get started, I should mention that so far I’ve been promoting e-books. My friends who have books out with NY publishers are doing pretty much everything I list below. But they also tend to do a lot more with paper promotion (book marks to give out at conferences, book signings, press kits, ads in romance magazines, etc.). Some of my e-pubbed friends have done a good deal of paper promotion, too, but I’ve opted not to at this point because of the added expense.

The following list of promo ideas and insights isn’t in any particular order. If I were going to prioritize, then I’d list websites first, since that’s the piece of promo every author in today’s market has to have. Also, I’ve added promo strategies bit by bit over time. If I’d done all of this at once, I’d have gone stark raving mad! And I’m still adding pieces, still learning.

My book trailer, which I just put up a few days ago. I put off making one because I thought they'd be really hard to do, and it's quite expensive to have someone make one for you. But I googled the topic, and read several author blogs on how to make one. Who knew I had Windows Movie Maker right on my computer? Here's what I came up with Click Here for Trailer. What's cool is that within the first few days of having the trailer up, I'm getting a significant number of website hits coming from You Tube (you can post your website link in your You Tube channel profile). I'm also getting traffic on my "trailers" page on my website, and more traffic to my MySpace page since the trailer went up. All very cool.

Blogs. I've had significant hits to my website coming from all three blogs I'm involved in as jumping off points. The group blogs tend to produce more hits than my individual author blog, but they all produce enough website traffic to make blogging worth my while.

Chats. Everytime I do a big loop chat with my fellow Loose Id authors, or with my writer friends, I get a big spike in website hits. Rock on! I've also met people on chats who have followed up later and told me how much they like my books.

MySpace. I've had fans who've already read my books friend me on MySpace, and I've had MySpace friends who haven't read my books yet buy them after getting to know me on MySpace. It's also a great place to post trailers and all sorts of other personalized info, promote new releases with event invitations and bulletins, and it's a lot of fun getting to know more people. I’ve also found it a great resource for networking with other authors I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.

Paid ads with romance review sites, such as Romance Junkies, The Romance Studio, Coffee Time Romance, and Fallen Angels Reviews. I've been especially happy with the results of my Romance Junkies Feature Ad (lots of website hits, plus a snippet of my review and a buy link and two cover photos posted with the ad, and it's really inexpensive).

Yahoo loop promo. Get on KyAnn's promotion loop schedule! It's a very helpful reminder of which Yahoo loops you can post to on which days, and has simplified promo for me immensely. Yahoo loop promo has been working for me, because every time I post to the loops, I get more people signing up for my author newsletter.

Author newsletter. I've had great interactions with people who've signed up for my newsletter, especially those who win my contests (which I use to promote my newsletter and gain new members). I use a yahoo announcement only loop for my newsletter, and everyone who signs up qualifies for all my future contests. For prizes, I’ve used things like a DVD related to my book, a gift card to a national book store chain, and copies of my books.

Oh, and this tip is for people at absolute square one in the promo game--your website will be the cornerstone of your promo efforts. I've had website traffic that comes from Japanese, Spanish, UK, and German search engines, plus from all the usual places you'd expect, such as U.S. Google and Yahoo searches.

Just thought I'd share, since promo's such a headache, especially when you're first getting started.

Have a great day!