Some Important Stuff, and Some Other Stuff (the week in review)

  • A fellow author, Eric Arvin,  is in the hospital. About to have, I am told, surgery on his brain stem. This is wicked scary, and he and his fiance, as I understand it, are far enough from home that his extended hospital stay (and I would imagine the associated bills) are going to be difficult. So a fundraiser has been started to help Eric and TJ with expenses, and if you’d like to help out you can contribute, here. (your donation can be kept anonymous, if you want)
  • Every day I crush a little harder on Hugh Howey. I confess I was once so down on self-pubbing. Then I published, both with a publisher and without, and compared results. There is still such an interesting stigma attached to doing so because as he points out we see “the slush pile” in self-publishing. The stuff that no publisher would have accepted goes up for sale without editing or attention to cover art, alongside some stuff that’ll really blow your mind. His response to Digital Book World’s survey about author income is very interesting and inspiring.
  • I have “Holly Jolly Christmas” stuck in my head. You’re welcome.
  • Yes, Sir is back on Barnes and Noble. Not sure why it disappeared, but it has returned. It can also (still) be found for the bite-sized price of .99 at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and ARe.
  • The paperback version of Stripped Clean is currently 11% off on both Amazon and B&N – it’s a vendor discount, so I’m not sure for how long they will be marked down, but I appreciate both Amazon and B&N putting it on sale. Also, if you get the paperback on Amazon, you can get the ebook for .99 instead of the usual 3.99.
  • I’m currently working on a) A nap b) the sequel for Stripped Clean and c) A collaboration with Riley Hart called Out of Bounds. You’ll notice the nap was first. Priorities. 🙂
  • An adorable YouTube video of kitten pictures, here.

Kurt Cobain thought he was gay?

What else could I say?
Everyone was gay.

–“All Apologies” – Nirvana

Nirvana was one of my favorite bands in high school. All those alternative punk bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s were a perfect soundtrack to my angry teenagerhood. This old interview, posted recently to the web site of one of my local radio stations, fascinated me. His pain, both physical and emotional, and the fact that he briefly questioned his orientation, spoke volumes about his music and why so many people connected to it. Maybe also why his life ended so tragically and so soon.

Hands Down

Because it’s stuck in my head… Actually, this song gets stuck in my head all the fucking time, and I never stop loving its passion. It reminds me of those heart-exploding moments in my life when everything held so much possibility. I started thinking this morning that the feel and the premise of this song (new, young love) probably explains why young adult fiction has exploded so much recently. The genre contains some of the darkest books I’ve read, but in tapping that darkness we access our deepest emotions, our passion, and then we find the dawn. Most of all, we return to a time when things felt so damn dramatic, and remind ourselves that we came out the other end more or less intact.

After all, those first loves, first kisses, even those tragedies, make us who we are.


Choose Your Publisher Carefully

I’m gonna try and make this quick… It might seem like a no-brainer but sometimes it needs to be said: Authors, think carefully before signing those publishing contracts. We put a great deal of love and care into our work, and we want very much for it to be seen, read, and appreciated. There are some fantastic publishers out there, both big and small, but you have to be patient enough to look carefully at who you are handing your work and your rights to. Please.

This article by Erica Pike outlines her particular experience with a small press that went very badly, and the warning signs she saw. I suggest your read it carefully, the warning signs in particular. Her experience is one I feel for, and one with which I can sympathize. I no longer advertise the anthology in which my very first short story appeared because beyond the initial (ten dollar) advance, I’ve never received a cent in royalties in the  two and a half years it’s been for sale. I don’t see a way in my contract to reclaim the rights, either. I wish in hindsight I’d stopped to think carefully before signing. I wish I’d examined the contract more carefully, but I was naive and excited to see my first story released.

Remember this: The first publisher to make you an offer is option A. As the saying goes, there are twenty-five other letters in the alphabet. So if the contract terms look fishy, if the publisher itself looks shaky or you’ve heard things from unhappy authors (not just the one guy with a bone to pick, but the same story across the board from many people should be a red flag), then walk away. Something I see with many small presses is a refusal to work with agents, because they refuse to negotiate their contracts. If the contract is simple and straightforward, that’s one thing. They don’t wanna raise the royalty rate? I might understand. But I’ve learned the hard way that some contract clauses can legitimately impede an author’s ability to earn a living (non-compete clauses for example), and that’s a different matter.  So proceed with caution.

Bottom line: If your story is your baby, then don’t just leave it with someone you found on Craigslist who doesn’t have references. Find a good, reputable caretaker.

OutWrite DC – Women Write Gay Erotica (or Romance)


Custom drawing by Reese Dante.

If you’re in the Washington DC area this coming weekend, I strongly encourage you to hit up the OutWrite book festival. It’s not as huge as some of the other LGBT reading events I’ve been to–nothing quite compares to the
Rainbow Book Fair in NYC–but it’s growing every year. This one looks like it’s gonna be interesting and fun. 🙂

This year I’m intrigued and excited to be a panel member of the Women Write Gay Erotica event (Friday night, August 2nd, 6:30 – be there!). I classify what I write more as romance than erotica (we can debate the differences if you want but that’s really a whole other post), but there are some blurred lines I suppose, and either way I’m always happy to be involved in a conversation about writing the stories I love.

The topic of women who love to write about men who love other men seems to be an ongoing source of fascination in particular. Perhaps because it’s slippery and tough to pin down, because the bottom line is that the reasons we women love to write gay romance (or erotica) are as many and varied as the women who write the subject matter. Multiplied by a factor of the characters we write.

But I’m rambling. Come join us this weekend, if you’re within traveling distance of U-street. It’s gonna be fun. There will be readings. And shenanigans. Plus, I know a really great bar down the street. 

This. So Much This.

I know, you’ve probably seen this video by now. I’m always so busy living in a cave that by the time I discover something it’s gone viral and people are all “stop showing it to me already.” But still, it’s beautiful. Honest and raw, and it connects me to a place I’d almost forgotten existed inside of me. That first crush I was afraid to give voice to. We pretty much all have one of those. I always swore I never wanted to write YA, but I have to tell you this video kind of makes me want to try.

Something to put on the list, I suppose.

What Happened to Boxer Falls?

BF-banner-400pxI’ve been asked a lot lately about Boxer Falls, and whether or not there will be a season 2. As of now, it has been decided that the answer is no. Boxer Falls was the big idea of Damon Suede and I was both thrilled and honored to be one of the drivers behind the series who helped map out the core characters and their bios, the town itself, not to mention having written 4 episodes of the series. I learned so much and made friends with many amazing authors I might not have gotten to know otherwise.

On the flip side, the whole endeavor of writing, editing, and coordinating guest authors every week was a bigger challenge than we anticipated. Once in awhile, seeing a character you loved taken in a new direction by a guest writer was a little (okay, a lot) heartbreaking. It was for me, anyway.

So after much debating and taking a temporary break the temporary break became permanent. We announced this in the newsletter and on the Boxer Falls web page, but I’m announcing it here as well in case some of you haven’t yet gotten the memo. If you haven’t gotten to read all the episodes and still want to, everything is available online at

More soon!

Love, Ellis