Blogging BookExpo America, Thursday night

I arrived a bit late to NYC today, thanks to much traffic along the Bolt Bus route. Still, $14 one way to get me to a major trade show was too good a deal to pass up. In these tough economic times, if it weren’t for the $14 bus, I’d probably be skipping the convention completely.
For those who don’t know, BookExpo America is the annual gathering of the business side of book publishing. Years ago it was known as the ABA Convention, and was run by the American Booksellers Association, and handing out catalogs and chatting up mom & pop bookstores was the order of the day. Now that there are hardly any independent bookstores left (when I went to my first ABA convention there were about 5000 indie bookstores in the USA, and now there are about 500), the show is more about subsidiary rights, and connections between all the inter-related businesses of publishing, including printing and marketing and multimedia and on and on.
There is still much catering to booksellers and librarians, but also a lot of other stuff.
My evening started at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund party/fundraiser at Hudson Terrace. As I Tweeted when I arrived, the venue was way swank. I had fun chats with lots of folks including my old friend Glenn Haumann, who was possibly the very first person to try to get me into ebooks like 10 years ago. He’s no longer in the ebook biz, but in comics, in a very web-presence-driven company called ComicMix. Also shook hands with Charles Brownstein, the head honcho at CBLDF. The party was lively but the main topic of conversation running through the room is the “Handley manga case“–specifically the very recent news that Handley, an Iowa man charged with child porn for owning manga, has pled guilty.
In short: the fact that the government can see fit to enter your private home, look through your private library, and declare ownership of a piece of fantasy literature you have as illegal, label you a pervert and send you to jail for it, is UTTERLY CHILLING. “Sets constitutional law back by generations,” Brownstein said.
By the way, the CBLDF takes DONATIONS.
I then caught a cab over the the Lambda Literary Awards to try to arrive in time for the after party, since I am far too poor to consider attending the actual awards reception and ceremony. While there I caught sight of Judy Grahn, whom I had never met but had spoken to on the phone back in the days when I worked at Beacon Press (twenty years ago… yeah). Caught up with Michael Lowenstein, Ron Suresha, Michele Karlsberg, and a few other folks. Ironically, Lowenstein and Suresha are New Englanders, so of course I had to come all the way to NYC to chat with them…
The actual after party was at the W Hotel nearby but by then I was pooped and wanted to get on the bus headed to the Bronx where I am couch surfing. (Did I mention we’re doing this trip on the cheap?)
I logged in to post this blog and couldn’t help but see the most recent Publishers Lunch newsletter had arrived, with coverage from today’s BEA sessions! (If you’re not subscribing to Free Lunch, you’re missing out.)
I was most annoyed to see the following from author Sherman Alexie, who spoke on a panel of top selling authors talking about the book business.
When talk turned, as it inevitably does now, to electronic reading [Lisa] Scottoline believed the effect of the Kindle and other electronic devices is additive; but Alexie was blunt in his objection: “I saw a woman in the audience with a Kindle and I wanted to hit her.” He also explained why his work is not available digitally: “I think [electronic reading] is the opposite of the Gutenberg press, and that machines promote elitism”, while adding his opinion stemmed from growing up poor with “limited access to technology.” It isn’t that Alexie is a Luddite, but that the “physical presence of book – turning pages, sitting in the bathtub, the relationship to book won’t be the same. It distances us from the book. Only a certain kind of book sells well electronically and thus limits what publishers will make available in that format. Eccentric writers will have even more difficulty getting books published. As a result the Kindle will homogenize literature even more.”
He is SO WRONG. But then again he is a heterosexual man (I think) whose issues are wholly different from mine. Ebooks are the bastion right now of all the genres that people want to read but which have been categorically and consistently excluded from the bookstores and the mainstream publishing channels. Where else is male/male fantasy erotica written by women for women thriving? Eccentric writers have a better chance than ever of finding their niches and no longer rely on being banged into the round holes that the publishing business insists the square pegs fit into or be ignored entirely.
For too long the book publishing industry’s only customer who counted was not the end reader, but the bookstore. Now that the indies are greatly reduced, and the chain stores rule the roost, what gets published is driven by the tastes (and guesses that publshers try to make about the tastes) of a small handful of individuals.
Ebook publishers cut the bookstore’s tastes and preferences out of the chain and go straight for the people who really matter, the actual readers.
More tomorrow. I will be tweeting as the show goes along from

Erotica + Romance

I am the guest blogger today over at Love Romance Passion! I wrote an article about the difference between erotica and romance, and how as the readership has changed to be more sexually active and sex-savvy, romance as a whole has had to get more erotic.
Being all Ravenclaw like I am, I couldn’t just express my opinion… I ended up quoting the US Census Bureau, USA TODAY, romance veteran Bertrice Small, a book from Cambridge University Press…
A snippet of what I said:
“We might make fun of the old style of marketing, but there is no denying that whatever language is used, romances have always been about passion as well as love. And just as fewer and fewer women would find a chaste kiss to be satisfying after a romantic dinner out, now they want the same desires reflected in their favorite fiction.”
“More sex scenes do not necessarily make a “hotter” book, the way more salt and pepper doesn’t automatically make a meal taste better. What is most arousing is when the sex is convincing, when it makes sense with the characters and when it follows a logical progression through their emotional lives.”
Read the whole article here:

Another great review of MIND GAMES!

Another review is in for MIND GAMES! Patricia’s Vampire Notes, which also reviews other paranormal romances that don’t include vampires, gave it a lengthy recap and had some great things to say. I’m having a little happy dance here right now as a result!
A few choice quotes:
“Besides using paranormal aspects, Tan has brought together erotic fantasy with, believe it or not, a sweet romance. You are rooting for Wren and Derek to find a happiness that has long been denied both of them.”
“The author also skillfully uses humor.”
“Tan writes with her usual melodic prose combining engaging characters with a deftly plotted treat for the senses.”

My Sally Field Moment

Okay, I just screamed with joy when I read this. It’s not my first book, but MIND GAMES is my first romance novel, and it’s the first review of it!!
So I just jumped up and down and made everyone in my office stare at me when the following rave review came from YOU GOTTA READ:
Rating: You Need To Read
Reviewed by: Laura
“Prepare yourself to be blown away. Continue reading →

My vacation writeup as sociology, tech, and book review essay!

Disney and How Alternate Reality, Technology, and Sociology Shape Experience

On second leg of flight home from Orlando now. Slept through snack service both times. Thanks to our status as Disney hotel guests, we were at the park until 3 AM last night during Extra Magic Hours. Which means I slept not quite four hours last night and total unconsciousness against the bulkhead of the plane has been inevitable.
Returning from Disney to Real Life invokes a kind of culture shock that was first obvious to me at the Dulles airport while we waited to change planes. I went into a restroom that was less than pristine and thought “what the hell happened here?” To be fair, for an airport restroom, it was quite acceptable. But compared to what we were just used to, a few flushes not working and some stray paper on the floor just seemed shocking.
For the pedants out there, we were at Walt Disney World in Florida, but I’ll just refer to it as “Disney” for the rest of this entry. After all, although each park in the Disney family has its own flavor and uniqueness, they are all part of a continuum as an Alternate Reality, even though not geographically contiguous, and many of the statements I’ll make can be generalized beyond just WDW or the Magic Kingdom in specific, to the other parks that are part of WDW and other Disney parks around the world.
The status of Disney as an Alternate Reality was only emphasized by the ebook I decided to download to my iPhone to read while waiting in line. I chose a book that has had a nice life in print as well as in e-format, Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow.
Continue reading →

THE HOT STREAK, now published!

My latest erotic romance novel, THE HOT STREAK is now available from Ravenous Romance!
It’s not yet live on Fictionwise or the Kindle Store, but I’ll post again when it is. Right now it can be bought directly from Ravenous as PDF, .prc (Kindle compatible), and Epub formats (compatible with lots of devices and software readers).
THE HOT STREAK is the first book to really combine my passions for erotica and baseball in one book. You don’t have to know anything about baseball, though, to enjoy this book. Our heroine, Casey Branigan, doesn’t know much beyond “three strikes, you’re out” when she meets a major league pitcher named Tyler Hammond at a photo shoot.
As the marketing pitch goes: “As a manager in a big Boston design firm, Casey’s life has become lackluster – but her affair with Tyler promises to change that. Quickly caught up in the whirlwind that surrounds celebrity athletes, Casey travels all over the country to watch Tyler pitch. The sex is breathtaking and Casey loves the lifestyle fame and fortune affords. Tyler is on a winning streak, and he thinks Casey is the reason why. But Casey must decide for herself whether this is just a summer fling. Or is Casey starting a hot streak of her own?”
Buy it at Ravenous: here!
Meanwhile, I noticed my baseball-themed erotic short story, Baseball Blues, is still up for free download. So if you want a taste of things, check it out here.

Free Book Friday at Ravenous

It’s “Free Book Friday” at Ravenous Romance and they are giving away the m/m erotic romance “American Star” by Ryan Field! Their books are available as PDFs, epub format, or .prc (Kindle compatible). I just downloaded Ryan’s book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet! I hear if you like male/male action it’s rather hot, though! (“American Star” is Ryan’s version of American Idol…)

My novel featured today!

MIND GAMES, my erotic paranormal romance novel, is today’s featured book at Ravenous Romance! There will be a print edition following soon, but for now, it’s in ebook format only.
It can be gotten a couple of ways:
From Ravenous Romance — they sell in PDF, .prc (for Kindle), & .epub (Sony Reader and others) formats
From Fictionwise — who sell in every ebook format known to man.
From the Amazon Kindle Store
Here’s the “back cover” copy, which I wrote myself. Um, I promise I’m better at writing novels than I am at writing copy:
Wren Delacourt is a woman with a gift, only she doesn’t know it. She has psychic abilities–the ability to see the future, to read minds, and to sense emotions. But ever since the death of her parents when she was a teenager, in an accident she foresaw, she has suppressed her abilities, often doubting her childhood memories and unsure if her powers even exist, or if she only imagined them. Unable to deal with other people’s emotions, she leads a quiet, somewhat lonely life working in a university library and socializing mostly with her downstairs neighbor, a gay man named Lawrence.
Everything changes when her sister Abby goes missing, and Wren hires a private investigator to try to find her. Derek Chapman isn’t what Wren expected in a P.I.; he’s young, good-looking, and sensitive. Wren is attracted to him immediately, and the feeling seems mutual, but Wren is afraid that this will be just another failed relationship.
She begins to have dreams about sex, about a dream lover who visits her at night. Is the man in her dreams just her subconscious trying to work out its conflicts between desire and fear? Or could someone really be stalking her in her dreams? And what does it mean when Derek’s search for Abby leads him to a private sex club? Fate seems to be pulling Wren into Derek’s arms, whether she is ready or not.

It has no customer reviews yet on Amazon or on Ravenous’ site, so fingers crossed that the first person who feels moved to do so loved it instead of wanting to trash it…!

Lion Dancers! Happy New Year

Chinese New Year goes on for nine days, and today when I was just finally getting settled down to work on the novel which is due in ONE MONTH (*hyperventilates*) and which I still have 40,000 words to write of… corwin mentioned he was hungry and hadn’t had lunch yet and gee, didn’t we need to take a trip to the Super 88 Market in Allston anyway?
We hopped in the car and went to Super 88 with the plan of getting something to eat in the food court there and then doing our asian grocery shopping. The food court there is huge, 10 stalls or something, including korean, viet namese, thai, taiwanese, bubble tea, dim sum, and I can’t even remember what else. We got the asian equivalent of “soup and sandwich” by getting pho and banh mi from the vietnamese stand, plus I got bubble tea and he went and got a thai iced tea.
While we were waiting for our food, a troupe of lion dancers came in and performed rites in front of each and every stand. Each shopkeeper put out a head of lettuce and some fruit, and the two lions would dance around each one and take turns “eating” the lettuce (shredding most of it and spraying it around). The kung fu school who did it is clearly one of the popular ones and they must be doing a lot of these ceremonies — they were all wearing matching sweatshirts with sponsorships on them, including Foxwoods Casino and such.
Each lion is made up of two guys, one working the head, and one the tail. The guys in the head make the eyelashes bat, the mouths open and close, and are responsible for tearing up the lettuce (and, I think, collecting donations), which the one in the back wags the tail and follows the front man around. Sometimes they are quite acrobatic, although in the crowded food court these poor guys couldn’t do much.
There were also two obviously non-Chinese members of the troupe tagging along somewhat wide-eyed and amused, one white, one black–I’m guessing it’s their first New Year.
Anyway, it was very good luck to be there to see the lion dancers, even if my ears are ringing somewhat now from all the drumming and cymbals.
Meanwhile, they are massively renovating Super 88 and it seems like they are shrinking drastically the amount of actual food they sell. The frozen foods section was about the same, but and entire aisle of tea is gone, they no longer have all the Philippine jarred/canned fishes, even the rice section is drastically shrunken. I don’t know how much of that has to do with imports from China being stopped, how much is the economy, and how much is their business model is changing, but there is easily half or less of the products they used to carry, and some items are mysteriously missing completely, like canned water chestnuts.
Huh, just answered my own question with this article from The Boston Globe: Super 88 Shifts Course As Competition Mounts This is a shame, as the other Asian groceries around have too narrow a range of foods to satisfy all my needs, but with Super 88 cutting down to bare bones, it’s hardly worth going there at all.

Arisia Party & Reading Info, plus other readings

The Circlet Press party will run from 8pm-ish to 11pm-ish in a room on the party floor, number to be determined on check in. I’m promising free blinky lights to the first 25 attendees! Why? Um, because blinky lights and erotic books are both really cool? Check the party board for the room #.
Then at 11:30 pm we shall repair to the BU Room where I’ll read some smutty science fiction & fantasy. Right now I’m planning to read from White Flames, maybe a piece of my new erotic paranormal romance ebook, and of course, if you all beg really nicely, a piece of Harry Potter porn.
We’ve also got the following other readings coming up!
Friday, January 23rd, at VERICON (Harvard’s SF Con) at 7:30 pm
Vinnie Tesla and Lauren P. Burka will read with me. They’ve also both worked in the Circlet offices and can share humorous stories of the slush pile.
and Tuesday, February 10th, a pre-valentine’s event at Back Pages Books in Waltham! 7pm.
Vinnie Tesla, Shariann Lewitt, and Lauren P. Burka will be joining me there.