Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Do You Look For In A Publisher?

That's the question that I think a lot of people do ask themselves, but how many of us really, truly think about it, or talk about it amongst ourselves or with fellow authors? To those who look to a publisher to release their work(s), what do you look for in a publisher?


I'll admit, I didn't always ask myself this in the past, but now, I do, and for now on, I will.

For myself, it's not simply about me submitting to just any publisher with the hopes that just anyone will take it. The first thing that I do is research that publisher. I think as authors we take for granted that we do matter, and that it's not only publishers that are judging us for our work, but that we should also be judging them on how they represent their brand, authors, and all other things (like editing, promotion, cover art, etc.) involved in this mad whirlwind world we call publishing. In no particular order, these are the few things that I always look for (or ask myself while doing the research) before writing/submitting for an anthology call or sending off a novel or novella manuscript:

DOES THE PUBLISHER TRULY TAKE PRIDE IN BEING A PUBLISHER? 


Or in other words, does the publisher show how much they want their authors to succeed?

Does the publisher and/or editors go out of their way to once in a while express how much they LOVE their job, and also give a shout out to one, two, three, more, or all their authors?

This is very easy to not only see, but feel, when a post on their blog, page, or site shows that pride and joy on FB, Twitter, wherever. Publishing is a team effort. It's never a lone star sport. It's not only that author or that editor that's the star. Everyone involved in producing that book is the star. And we all deserve that shine. The publisher doesn't necessarily need to show off their pride constantly. They just need to sound genuine when they do, no matter if they do it a little, or a lot. When/if they do, it makes me smile, and definitely gets me interested in possibly subbing to them.

DOES THE PUBLISHER CARE ABOUT THEIR AUTHORS? 


This might sound similar to what I just said, but in my mind anyway, there's a difference here.

It's no secret that there are some publishers out there that treat their authors like crap, and really don't care about their feelings, concerns, etc., and don't do their part as a publisher. Most authors don't express how some publishers out there don't care about their authors, in fear that it may come back to haunt them if they say too much if anything at all. I'm by no means saying that authors need to put those particular publisher(s) on blast. If one wants to keep it to themselves, that's their prerogative. But should an author just allow publishers to fuck them over? Of course not! Unfortunately, one can't usually really tell how a publisher treats their author(s) until they already signed that dotted line, and by then, it's too late (sometimes, usually) to back out. But one way you can maybe be given a hint about whether or not a publisher cares about their author is when they give a shout out or spotlight to an author, and not just because their new book is released or because they just got a positive review on that book. Whenever a publisher consistently glows about their authors, it usually speaks volumes, and tells me that they do care. That's what I love to see. A publisher that hardly if ever gives a shout out and comes off as cold or just too silent with readers/authors, that's always a red flag to me. What's the point in being with a publisher who doesn't promote positivity, self-worth, respect, and care?   

DOES THE PUBLISHER ACTUALLY COMMUNICATE? 


Do they use social networking to their and their author's advantage? Do they consistently respond to emails on a timely fashion? Do they answer all questions asked with no stone unturned? Are they professional, or does the publisher run their business in such a poor fashion? This might seem common sense that any business would actually do their job, a "given" if you will, but you'd be surprised how some publishers don't put effort into that. And that's bothersome. RED FLAG. Always.

WHO WILL I POSSIBLY BE WORKING WITH? 


I think most publishers, you can look up their editors and see their credentials and what they can do to make your work go from being a rock to a diamond. Doing research on the editors not only gives a glimpse of what the press/editor wants from submissions, but who you just might be working with if/when they acquire your manuscript. If you see that the editor really knows their stuff and comes off as positive, firm, and fair, and they express how much they want to see their author/client shine and do well with their book and career(s), I'd say that's a good sign. Don't stalk the editor(s) of course, but there's never any harm to look him or her up. If I get the sense that the editor is cold, negative, rude, or belittling, that just doesn't bode well for me, and usually, I cross that press out of my sub list.

WILL THE PUBLISHER DO THEIR BEST IN GETTING MY BOOK IN READER'S HANDS (OR KINDLES)? 


What I mean by this of course is promotion. I think in this day and age, most publishers usually don't do all the promotion like they used to. Sign of the times. Authors these days, be they self-pub or traditional, have to be their own promoter. There's nothing wrong with that. If done well and strategically (which that in and of itself takes research too), it can really work and do wonders. But what I look for is seeing if the publisher will be working with me a little instead of intentionally working against me when it comes to promotion/exposure. Does that publisher announce ALL their releases on release day, or do they...say nothing and post nothing, as if there's no release at all. If they do the latter, I'd say...not good. A publisher not doing much to promote their own books is not only a disservice to the author, but to the press itself. What's the sense in everyone doing so much work in putting a book together only to not let their audience---the readers---know about it? The readers depend on the author and publisher to spread the word; they won't know unless we do it first. Obviously, the more promotion/exposure, the better sales for the author and publisher, and the more readers will know, buy, and hopefully enjoy the book. It's a win-win when it's a team effort, right?

I won't ramble any more about this topic. Obviously there's more to look for in a publisher than this, but it's some of the few things that I look at pretty closely before submitting my work somewhere. In a day and age where there are so many publishers, but where not all of them have the best standards, interest, and care at heart, more than ever, it's important for authors to really think, research, and consider these things first before submitting a book anywhere. So, what do you look for, and why?

Lastly, this must be said:

As authors, we matter too, lovelies. Don't forget that. Know thy self, and thy publisher. :)

V.C.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anthology Review: Penthouse Variations on Oral




Title: Penthouse Variations on Oral: Erotic Stories of Going Down

Editor(s): By the Editors of Penthouse Variations

Publisher: Cleis Press/Penthouse

Genre: F/M, Erotica

Length: 220 pages

Published: October 14th, 2014

Blurb:

Great oral sex can be mind-blowing, life-changing and create memories that last a lifetime. In the debut of the book series inspired by the wildly popular Penthouse Variations Magazine, the focus is on oral pleasures of every kind. Penthouse Variations on Oral reminds us that nothings is more appetizingly erotic than a good blow job and that going down on the object of your affection is sheer bliss for both parties. Giving head - taking in the essence, taste, smell and sexy up-closeness of a lover is a powerful aphrodisiac that affects one physically, mentally and emotionally. Once you have your lover in your mouth, the heat of desire, passion, and lust focus before your eyes and tie your arousal directly to them. In Penthouse Varaiations on Oral, lovers explore the many ways oral sex can be an act of love, tenderness, devotion or pure sexual act that lets readers revel in the emotion and sensuality of it all. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy this sexy read of explicit stories to get you hot and bothered with more than a mouthful. These sizzling stories are meant to be savored. And shared.

Review

Oral sex lovers, unite! If you love oral sex (cunnilingus and/or fellatio), this anthology is basically meant for you. It focuses on this specific theme only, nothing else. The twenty-two short stories here show how fun and exciting oral sex can be, and not only explored within the confines of four bedroom walls. Naturally, there are plenty of stories of lovers getting it on oral-style in bed, but there's plenty of exhibitionism and voyeurism too. As with every anthology, some stories were absolutely amazing while others were lukewarm. My personal favorites were Justin Lewis's "Fine Dining," Maria King's "An Erotic Feast", Sonia Choi's "O is for Orgasm", and Fiona Hoffman's "Pillow Lips." All of the stories here though are pretty good---short, sweet, to-the-point, and well-written. There isn't a bad one in the bunch. Some were just better than others.

As much as I enjoyed this anthology for the most part, what stalled me a lot was how the scenarios all read and felt the same, of couples, lovers, or partners going somewhere adventurous, and then, to be even more adventurous, they give each other head, usually the blow job first, and then the other serves their partner cunnilingus. No matter if the characters were cowboys, bartenders, wives, husbands, etc., it was basically the same scenario/premise for the most part, just a different setting. After a while, it left me feeling not as satisfied and turned on as I thought I would. This anthology is far from boring, but I guess I was hoping for more...sizzle. And also for more variety in the stories. I just couldn't shake off that "I just read this..." feeling with almost every story despite it being written by a different author. That heat/variety wasn't quite there for me. I was left craving for more.

Will some of the stories get you hot and bothered? Oh, of course! Will every story here do that? Probably not, because it really is just...hard...to find an anthology that will please everyone. I did love though how Penthouse Variations on Oral gave a spotlight on oral sex on men and women, not focusing on only the art of the blow job. There's a little bit of something for everyone in that regard, no man or woman is left out of the mix. All in all, this is not a stellar collection, but it's certainly a good one for those who enjoy giving and/or receiving oral, and lovers of true blue erotic fiction. 

Rating: 3

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Criterion Challenge

Being a film buff and all, it's kind of a wonder why I haven't thought of doing this challenge before. I mean, I do keep track of "best movies of all time" lists and try and watch as many movies from that list as I can, been doing that for well over ten years now, but I never made a "challenge" out of it. Why not start now? Just for fun, of course!

I'm calling this The Criterion Challenge.


In case some of you don't know how amazing The Criterion Collection is, they are a USA video-distribution company that's dedicated to gathering and publishing the greatest films from around the world. What makes Criterion particularly unique is that they restore even the oldest and most classic  films to the most modern films so beautifully. Their DVD's have a treasure trove of bonus features, and in most of their releases, it includes booklets (very thick ones at that, including essays, interviews, and more!) and other supplemental features that enhances the understanding and appreciation of the film. Some even include in the package the book that the movie is based off of!

How cool is that? Yes, I'm such a dork for really being turned on by that, but hey, what can I say? I love it! For this super-duper fun challenge, I'm going to try and watch 100 Criterion DVD's in 2015. I'll be watching 10 of their DVD's a month. Excessive, maybe, but do-able!


I'm going to try and rent each DVD in the order of Criterion's entire library here.

See how they have over 800 films in their library in all? Maybe one day I'll get there! Luckily, my library has probably most of their titles, so nabbing these beauties will be easy and convenient. For each month of 2015, I will list the 10 movies that I'll be watching from that list, the ones that the library carries. The ones that aren't available, I'll still give it a shout out. After I watch each movie, I'll write up a short and sweet review of my general feelings about it. The movies that I highlight with a star next to it will mean that the film(s) was my absolute favorite from the list. :)

Who wants to join me on this challenge by trying to watch down the list, pick their favorites of the month, and review/recommend on their blog/page too? Remember, just for fun, not competition!

If you do, feel free to comment below or Tweet "I'll be joining @FoxxyGlamKitty for #TheCriterionChallenge!" to let me know! This is going to be really fun, I just know it!

Vanessa 

Monday, December 8, 2014

'Tis the Season...And I'm NOT Talking About Xmas: It's RuPaul's Drag Race!

RuPaul's Drag Race is COMING SOON back to Logo, and anyone who knows me knows that drag is my passion, and this show is basically my drug of choice: CRACK! Yes, it's the only addiction that I don't need help for. It's the only show on TV that I care enough to watch every episode on the day it airs and to talk about with fellow fans who love the show and the cast as much as I do. From the beginning to end of season, from Season 1-6, this show just...somehow manages to keep being refreshing, fun, surprising, and creative, not just because of Ru and Logo, but because of the queens, of course! I'm not sure if I'll be blogging about this show that much, but for now, I just have to compile a list of the queens that have so far captivated my attention from their Meet the Queens segment.

In no particular order of awesomeness, here they are:

Max Malanaphy


Not going to lie, at first watch of her clip, I was instantly in love with her. I love her character: she's British, Dita Von Teese meets Marilyn Monroe meets all sorts of other vintage/goth/Hollywood glamour characters, kind of ditzy, very proper, classy, and so witty and charming.

It's too soon to choose "favorites", but she's the queen that my eye and heart is on, all the way!

Jaidynn Diore Fierce

I love my country queens, they just remind me of home and even like family sometimes. Jaidynn is HILARIOUS, she commands you to laugh, and she sure dominates the funny bone. And I love her "ready or not, here I come!" attitude, I can tell that she won't take any prisoners this season.

Kandy Ho 


Now Kandy is HOT...and she's a self-proclaimed HO...and...she's from Puerto Rico! I love her raunchiness and raw sex appeal, it just oozes from her voice to whatever she wears, and it doesn't hurt that she has a sense of humor and a lively personality that makes her even hotter.

Katya


Now this queen is really bust your gut funny. She's fierce, but doesn't come off as if she takes herself too seriously. She brings the fun in her look, character, and personality, what's not to love about that?

Miss Fame


With a drag name like that, of course she'll more than likely be the queen that will consistently be on top. She's really fierce, fishy, and fabulous, but she's not just about looks, she's funny too. I hope her personality will shine more from what we see of her so far on her Meet the Queen's clip. So far, I really like her, and can already see Miss Fame living up to her name.

Pearl 

I'm very curious as to what she'll bring onto the show with her style and beauty. She also has a dead pan sense of humor that I actually wasn't initially expecting from her. And I like her even more for it!

Trixie Mattel


Trixie has a unique kind of drag that I think people will either LOVE, or just really hate. She's kind of that camp meets glamour. She obviously channels a Mattel doll. I love that look/style of her drag. I can tell that she will be this season's "comedy queen", they always bring so much sunshine to the season even if they are often misunderstood with people (and queens) taking them more seriously than necessary. I can't wait to see what...Trix's...she has up her sleeve ;).


So, those are the queens that I'm already smitten with based on the Meet the Queens segment on logotv.com. Naturally, once the show premieres, my opinions of these queens might change, but then they might not. The ones that aren't on this list that didn't really engage me might later captivate me - who knows! What I love about drag and this show is that it's never boring, and always surprising.

I can't wait for the show, and for the New York City premiere party that I go to every year to watch the season's girls before the show premieres on national TV. Stay tuned (literally).

Vanessa

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Brand New Agenda: December 2014

So hard to believe that it's December. Is it just me or did last month fly by in a blink of an eye?

I'm still taking it easy, and still so emotionally wiped from The Man on Top of the World, still kind of basking in the joy, thrill, and sadness of completing it and sending it to my dream publisher. No matter what the future holds with that, I'm so happy with it, and hope that it finds a new home soon!

What's next on the horizon?

On the author page, I'll be doing another takeover. Those are always fun, and I love how involved everyone is! This will be where I'll be sharing on the page from December 19th-25th their favorite Christmas songs with a meaning behind why they love that song or those songs so much.


If anyone here wants to participate in on that, simply send me a private message on the page with your favorite Xmas song, why you love it, and a YouTube clip of whichever version of that song that you like. So far I've had 3 people send me something, and was very touched by their song choices/stories. The more songs, the merrier, almost literally! :D

The next book that I'm going to read/review is from Penthouse. This should be sexy!


And I'm really hoping that I can get deeper into working out some more, but not going to lie, it's really frustrating and a challenge with this super cold New Jersey weather! I know that's an excuse basically, but it's the truth, but I will do my best in trying to bulk up more muscle on me :).


And lastly, I might respond to an anthology call or two, but sending old/not yet acquired stories. We'll see! A part of me just feels like I could/should take the rest of the year off from writing and just get back to enjoying myself, connecting more with my followers, actually socializing on social media, and just keep taking it easy until whatever inspiration somewhere speaks to me. For the start of the new year, that might be the time where I'll start writing more short stories than focusing on one major manuscript (novel). For now though, this is all!

V.C.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: Blackmail, My Love




Title: Blackmail, My Love

Author: Katie Gilmartin

Publisher: Cleis Press

Genre: F/F, LGBT, contemporary, roman noir/neo-noir

Length: 232 pages

Published: November 18th, 2014

Blurb:

Josie O'Conner travels to San Francisco in 1951 to locate her gay brother, a private dick investigating a blackmail ring targeting lesbians and gay men. Jimmy's friends claim that just before he disappeared he became a rat, informing the cops on the bar community. Josie adopts Jimmy's trousers and wingtips, battling to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for the many queer corpses. Along the way she rubs shoulders with a sultry chanteuse running a dyke tavern called Pandora's Box, gets intimate with a red-headed madam operating a brothel from the Police Personnel Department, and conspires with the star of Finocchio's, a dive so disreputable it's off limits to servicemen — so every man in uniform pays a visit.

Blackmail, My Love is an illustrated murder mystery deeply steeped in San Francisco's queer history. Established academic and first-time novelist Katie Gilmartin's diverse set of characters negotiate the risks of same-sex desire in a tough time for queers. Humor leavens the grave subject matter. Set in such legendary locations as the Black Cat Cafe, the Fillmore, the Beat movement's North Beach, and the sexually complex Tenderloin, Blackmail, My Love is a singular, visually stunning neo-noir experience.

Review

You know, right off the bat, just from the cover art of this book alone, I had an inkling feeling that Blackmail, My Love would be something special and unique. I don't normally get that "feeling" for just any book, and with this one, I sure felt it, and from just reading chapter one, it was certainly real. 

The neo-noir/roman noir genre may be too "old school" or old fashioned for most, or too dark and cold to be instantly inviting, and in a way, that is kind of the point. It is an acquired taste genre. The writing style is as cold, dark, mysterious, and eerie as the world that unfolds page by page, illustration by illustration, and the characters are just as cold, dark, and mysterious too. It is "dark fiction" at its finest, and to boot, the illustrations in this book were done by the author herself! Don't be fooled: this is not a picture book. The illustration aren't chock full, but there are enough to truly take you into the the story's troubled world, and they were just so enticing that I wished that there were more of them. The writing pulls you into the story as powerfully that even without the illustrations, you'll be in the story, the reader is in. I will admit that the plot itself is just a decent murder mystery. It's the way that the author weaves San Francisco's history with such beautiful words and pretty colorful characters that makes this book a must-read and a true winner of its kind. The author clearly knows San Francisco's 1950's LGBT community and the plight of the people of that time period, in a time when San Francisco wasn't the accepting, liberating, LGBT-friendly city that we know and love today. There is so much history and geography here. The author doesn't at all tell us about it, she shows us. The geography and history comes to life, so much so that I think the story itself gets lost. Sometimes, I forgot that I was reading a murder mystery and was reading more about San Francisco and that the novel was really about her story, people, and past than it was about Josie and her gay brother's story. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's something to put out there for those who might expect some gripping, edge-of-your-seat, fast-paced murder mystery.

Nonetheless, Blackmail, My Love was a real delight, and it's a treasure. You won't see San Francisco the same again after reading this one. And seriously, the author's illustration skills are just wonderful. How can anyone not love them? The characters, writing, and illustrations aside, I really did love how the neo-noir genre is so alive in this, and it's done with such style, grace, and class, which I can imagine is not easy to do. And Katie upholds that genre and tradition so well that it's simply...perfect. 

Rating: 5