It’s MY Life or Writing About The Gay Stuff

itsmylifeI confess that I have not yet even nearly finished the enormous copy editing job of cleaning all of my 2012 posts to publish as a book.     I find myself revisiting my previous conclusion that I would allow the blog posts to stand on their own and not even go through the process of contacting each commentator and asking them for permission to publish their comments in a book.   But on some of the posts,  some of the comments were frankly better than anything I’ve written and it feels as though any book would be incomplete without those reactions.     I was so pleased that two people whom I thought had drifted away in the past year,  posted comments replying to my last post.     It really was like finding out I still had a couple of friends I’d though I had lost.   Life seems really complicated sometimes.

The ways that online social life is and isn’t just like offline social life is one of the things I had meant to talk about rather more than I did.   I also notice that l did a bit of building up and fore-shadowing early in the year that I quite failed to follow up on.  In retrospect I can only give myself about half-credit for my decision a bit less than half way through the year to  implement Just Three Words.     The first posts,  especially were clever.   Over the course of the year I was somewhat hit or miss– some of my three word posts were quite well done,   but other times I clearly struggled with the formula,  and at the very least was guilty of lazy writing sometimes.    I was not, however,  guilty of leaving out the gay stuff.    While I didn’t and don’t want to emphasize my sexuality on this blog,   I can’t help but notice that two different pieces that do talk about gay issues were two of the most commented upon pieces I have published.    I find myself agreeing with something Laura  commented on a post last March.   It’s 2012 and I just can’t be bothered with the same old anti-gay shit.    Yet I am trying very hard to move beyond  shouting ‘we’re here, we’re queer’  to actually talking to people about things that are important to me.     That is not a denial of any of the wrongs that lots of queer folks continue to suffer.   It’s just a decision about how I want to live my life today.

I should end this post with a short, bold faced paragraph that gives some brief biography.   If I were manic and promotional as I was last March I would precede that final bio blurb with some bit about stay tuned,  if there are things you don’t understand  as all will be revealed.     I don’t feel hucksterish enough to pull that off,  so will simply close by saying once again that I am deeply grateful to everyone who visits and reads these posts.    And hope that it’s a good weekend in your world.


Gay As Hell or Where’d My Audience Go?

gay-as-hellI’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I have mostly lost the audience I had attracted to this blog.    If you’re reading this,  that statement probably sounds too strong,  and yet in my heart I know that it is largely true.     Looking back I realize of course that the height of this blog’s popularity,   around March of last year,   coincided with an extended manic period.    Part of me IS impressed with all of the great people I was able to draw in at the height of my mania and the great conversations we had on some of my most commented posts.   But the part of me that is in fact depressed as I type this now is not surprised that I was not able to retain most of that audience over the course of a year.      If you regularly visit and comment on someone else’s blog,   chances are they will regularly visit and comment on your blog.      While it is most always based on a genuine relationship of goodwill,  there is definitely a quid pro quo and  the fact is that if you’re too depressed to even think about visiting your friends’ blogs,  few of your blog friends are going to make the time in their own busy schedules to visit and comment on your blog.

I find myself genuinely mourning the loss of so many of the other blogger and social media relationships that have fallen by the wayside this year.    Sometimes I know it really is as Billy Joel once sang   “ say a word out of line,  and find that the friends you had are gone forever.  Forever.”    It really does seem to me that when I published Why I Don’t Wear A Button Anymore  and in the discussions that followed on that post I lost a whole bunch of friends,   trying as I did to be a neutral host who welcomed friends with vehemently disagreeing perspectives to both be a part of my blog comments.     I confess I rather envisioned myself presiding over a high brow salon,  where great minds came to disagree  (respectfully)  on big important issues.    But loosing a dozen  perhaps great commentators really knocked out the great discussions I’d been attracting,   and as the year went by other friends also drifted away,  as the places we each hung out online evolved and changed .   Which is why I have almost a thousand Facebook friends….and only a handful of people read my blog.

It is easy of course to blame mission inflation on Empire Avenue for a great deal of the lost visitors and comments.   Last March I offered a 500 eaves mission and got four dozen or more comments on a post.     The last time I tried to use missions to get blog comments,   I offered 25,000 eaves and was frustrated beyond belief that there were still people who took the eaves and didn’t leave a comment.    The inflation,  and the fact that many of my closest friends whom I chat with all the time intimated that they didn’t like having to leave a comment for my missions,  led me to reluctantly just stop trying to use missions to drive comments.    Lately it seems that even 10K  to press the Like and Share buttons  often draws in only a few takers.    Last year Empire Avenue was the secret to how I drew all sorts of great visitors and commentators.   This year,  I can’t make it work worth a damn.     I have been thinking that what I should do,  is try to follow up with some of the folks who have drifted away.    In most cases we remain Facebook or Twitter friends.    Part of me fears that it would be low class or rude to try to talk publicly with people who have drifted away.   But I think that more of me is curious and hopes that some of these folks…..may have more they are willing to share or say on this site.

Post News or Pay The Wall

washington-post-the-wallMy status as the blogger who won’t pay for online newspapers got a fresh challenge today,  as The Washington Post announced they will be implementing a paywall in May.    The Seattle Times does not yet appear to have implemented it’s paywall–  the site indicates that it will become active  ‘sometime in March’.    The Seattle Times and The Washington Post are the two newspapers I read the most,  and this double whammy might (or might not)  be what finally brings me to break out a credit card.      Perhaps Frank Blethen will be surprised to learn that if I do take up a digital newspaper subscription it will be not to The Seattle Times,  but to The Los Angeles Times.     Their rate  ($1.99/week)  would be half of Seattle’s rate ($3.99/week).   While The Seattle Times would home deliver a Sunday paper,  in addition to unlimited digital access,   the fact is I don’t want a dead tree paper.   And frankly, the Los Angeles paper is a much better newspaper.

I am also toying with the idea of trying to just go cold turkey.    Rarely a day goes by that something I read in some newspaper doesn’t piss me off so much that I rant and rave to an extent that my distress is visible to my spouse,  who inevitably remarks that I should know by now that I’m not supposed to read the newspapers.   While waiting for The Seattle Times  paywall to go up I have been reading it more than ever– though I definitely plan to stop as soon as the paywall hits.   I suppose I could wait until the Post’s paywall goes up in May,  also waiting to see if  The Post will be smarter than either of my Times past (Seattle and New York)  which are way over-priced.    I’ve said before and am sure I’ll have occasion to say again that if they asked for twenty or even forty dollars per year I’d pay it without hesitation and consider it money well spent.    The biggest reason I’m considering the El Lay Times  is because they are charging only half as much.    Dare I hope that The Washington Post might introduce pricing more in line with what seems fair to me?

As a life long reader and supporter of written journalism,  I have to acknowledge that this past decade has in some ways been a wonderful one for readers of news,  as most newspapers have tried to have their print readers bear all of the costs of gathering and reporting the news,   while providing all or most of their content free on the web.    That this is not a viable business model has long been apparent.    It frustrates me almost unbearably that newspaper managements seem blindly committed to trying to charge a price beyond what most people will pay,   rather than offering a low price and trying to attract a much larger audience.    The fact is that if it were only twenty dollars a year,  I would gladly subscribe to all four of the newspapers mentioned above,   even though three of them are ‘out of town’  for me.    What really galls me is my strong suspicion that most newspapers will die and fold before ever coming to grips with the new economics of their business.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

A Day Like Today

What can I write about being depressed?   Yesterday,  I slept about 12 hours.   Woke up and puttered around for a few hours,  then went back to bed and slept a second 12 hours.   I’ve heard that some people have dreams more interesting than their waking lives.   But I never remember my dreams and to me all that sleep is just a kind of lost time.    And even after sleeping 24 hours in the last 36,  I woke up feeling tired and am only barely keeping  my eyes open as I struggle to type this.      I watched the video above this afternoon.   I’m a huge fan of both Elton and Billy.   But honestly,  I’ve seen both of them give much better performances.   Especially the final track,  Piano Man seems to be in a bad key for Elton and he keeps singing falsetto and it sounds awful.   Then again,  when I’m in this sort of mood almost nothing is going to sound great.   Tomorrow evening,  about twenty-four hours from now,  I’m supposed to meet a new acquaintance for coffee.    And I find it hard to imagine having the energy to get dressed,  drive a short ways and do a coffee date.    It occurred to me today that in a way my bipolar disorder really parallels my spiritual faith.    As lousy as I feel today,  I know with great certainty that a day will soon come when I will be in an opposite frame of mind.   I’ll be cheerful and optimistic and energetic and these long dark tea times of the spirit will be forgotten. Just as,  even on the worst day,  I always remember that God loves me and will always put other precious people in my path to love and care for me.    Keeping that bit of perspective while waiting for the lethargy to pass  is about the best I can do on a day like today.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Soaring So High, Then CRASH!!

crashIt’s unusual for me to be aware of my mood cycling as it happens, but I had not been awake for more than half an hour this morning when I realized I had cycled from manic to depressed.   It seems as though I had been very manic for a very long time.  It is almost a relief to be past that,  though it also sucks to feel like something that was dragged from the sort of wreckage pictured. 

* * *

It seems as though people associate depression with sad emotions but it really isn’t that way for me.   It’s much more about being tired and listless and not wanting to go anywhere or do anything,   in contrast to the manias when I’m just unbelievably energetic and enthusiastic and always ready to take on or start up a zillion new projects.   I sleep 12 to 14 hours then wake up tired and mostly just want to go back to bed all day.  I have an errand that I need to run this afternoon,  but honestly I’m unsure if I will be able to force myself to get up and go do it.

* * *

I did go run the errand yesterday.   Two hours of driving in the rain.    Came home and felt exhausted and slept another 12 hours last night.   It’s not the sleeping so long that makes these depressions so debilitating.   It’s how tired and lifeless I feel even after the long sleep.   Part of me knows that the long stretches of sleep are needed to make up for all of the hours and hours and hours that I stayed up– as long as 72 hours–  when I was so hyper and manic.   But the lack of energy and the wanting to just crawl in a hole and hide is certainly a drag.

Hippo Birdie Two Ewe, Holly

145 LemChocDobCut  ambrosiabakery dot comTempus fugit.   Part of me is kind of shocked to realize it’s been fully a year since I threw a birthday party for my dear friend Holly  right here on this blog.     When I stop and reflect I realize how very much has changed since I faked my way through Holly’s Scavenger Hunt and got over a hundred people to wish her a Happy Birthday.       I can’t say that I regret writing and publishing Why I Don’t Wear A Button Anymore.   But it is clear to me that that post and the discussions that followed it cost me a number of friends.

I’ve given it a lot of thought but have never really reached a firm conclusion.   It does seem to me that friends who fight with each other in your comments section don’t remain friends.    Sometimes it seems to me as though we are so often talking from so far into our own biases that real communication just isn’t possible.     Sometimes I think it just isn’t possible for dykes to get along with conservative old men.    And yet I also think that this is base stereotyping that belittles the real and complicated people who no longer visit my comments section.  People are strange.

I am preparing to start promoting my book in earnest on Monday.   My goal is to sell three hundred copies to newbies,  and I’m sure going to try my damnedest to reach this goal.   My pen name had a very busy night last night and I am pretty much just taking it easy for the weekend.     I am anxious to learn just what is in the box that was delivered to Holly’s house–  even though she’s resolved not to open it and tell us until tomorrow.    I’d greatly appreciate it if you left a comment to wish Holly a happy birthday.     Here’s hoping you are having a peaceful, relaxing weekend as well.

Five Ways To Help

Avenue cover1Walking Down The Avenue version 2.0 is now available in the Amazon Kindle store and from Smashwords.    I am so grateful to all of my #GANGSTA friends,  especially those who beta read the new book and provided very valuable feedback.   I am also most grateful to everyone who has agreed to help me promote this book to new Empire Avenue users.     Here are five great ways you can help me do just that:

1)  Recommend Walking Down The Avenue to new players.   If you frequently invest in brand new players,   please leave shout outs suggesting the book.  For example:

“Welcome to Empire Avenue.   If you have questions or find it confusing,  check out this guidebook   It’s a quick and easy read that takes most of the learning curve out of Empire Avenue”

2)  Always use the book’s URL when mentioning it.   By simply omitting the spaces and adding  .com  Walking Down The Avenue  becomes   Getting this URL widely in front of folks’ eyes will help to drive traffic to the site.

3)  If you’ve read the book,  either by a privately distributed Word doc or by purchasing it from Smashwords or Amazon,   please leave a review.   If you purchased the book from Amazon or Smashwords,   please leave the review on the site you purchased from.    Reviews on the book’s sales pages definitely help build credibility and encourage sales.    If you did not purchase the book,   please leave your review  here.    You need not write a long and complex book review.   Just a sentence or two about how you found the book helpful or why you recommend that new users read it would be just great.

4)  Look for missions that promote this book.    Some of my #GANGSTA buddies are wealthy in Empire Avenue terms and will be running some missions to help promote this book.    By participating in missions you can help with the book promotion and gain a few eaves at the same time.

5)  Join us in the #GANGSTAS  community on Empire Avenue.    We hope to make this community a friendly and welcoming place for new users who have #EAv questions.    By participating,   you will help to make the message board a true community.   You may also meet some great people and have fun as well.

Thanks so much to each and every person who has read and helped to promote this book since I first wrote and released it back in  June 2011.

Blowing Through The Paywalls In My Mind

Feh.   So the Seattle Times,   which had topped my previous list of newspapers without paywalls,  has announced that they will be implementing a paywall in mid-March.   It appears to me they are directly emulating the strategy the Los Angeles Times used.    I admit that I miss reading the LA Times,   but I really have mostly broken my habit of visiting that site since they began charging $3.99/week for digital access.   The Seattle Times would give me a Sunday-only home delivered dead tree paper and throw in digital access for only $3.15/week.   Which suggests to me that like their counterparts in EL Lay,  the owners of the Seattle Times just don’t understand how to create a viable business model in the Internet era.    If they offered digital access (with no dead tree paper delivery) for twenty bucks a year,  I would sign right up and consider it money well spent.    But  $13.55/month with dead trees on Sundays (which is to say $163/year) or $17.16/$206  per month/year if I don’t want any dead tress delivered to my door is simply more than I can or will pay for news and information.

While I miss the El Lay Times a bit,  I find I don’t miss the New York Times at all.    I follow a couple of their handles on Twitter,  and occasionally I do read NY Times pieces that they have tweeted.   Accessing stories from Twitter seems to completely bypass their paywall.    And an occasional story via Twitter seems to be enough for me.    I suspect when the Seattle Times goes away next month I will find myself checking out the local television news web sites  (KING, KOMO, KIRO and Q-13-FOX)  as well as the PI and Crosscut.  The Tacoma News Tribune has recently put up a paywall that limits you to 15 free views per month.    I rarely bother to take them.  The News Tribune seems to be priced a bit lower than the Times,  but it is still far more money than I can or will spend to read the news.  Here then is an updated list of free news paper web sites:

The Seattle PI

The Washington Post

The Christian Science Monitor

The Houston Chronicle

The Chicago Tribune

The Times Picayune

The Plain Dealer

The Oregonian

The Boston Herald

The Knoxville Sentinel

The Fresno Bee

The Austin Statesman

The Miami Herald

The Las Vegas Sun

The Guardian (UK)

Babbling My Way To A Book Launch

Avenue cover1Life is funny.   My friend Ryan tagged me in a post and I wrote something to the effect that “I’ve tried and tried and tried”  but just can’t seem to finish an update to my book.”   But after commenting in that thread and then wandering into a few other threads where I still have lots of  Empire Avenue friends.    Cautiously,  I opened the file.   I read over the entire book,  including all of the revisions and additions I had already made.    I typed a couple of new paragraphs.   I read it again.    And decided that Walking Down The Avenue is ready for copy-editing and beta reading.    I’ve already sent the manuscript out to several  people and I expect that I will release and begin promoting the new revised Walking Down The Avenue around March 1st.

I realized today that I have been rather manically babbling about my friend  Susan’s novels for at least two weeks now.     I will be publishing and promoting two more Susan book reviews.    And then come March I will be shifting into talking about my own book.    In one sense,  that I got more than 300 of my social media guru friends to read and tell me how great the earlier version was,  was a kind of success.  But folks who are guruing on the Avenue are really not the target audience for what really is a great Beginner’s Guide.    My book would be most useful to someone if received about an hour before they started on Empire Avenue.    Sadly my psychic abilities don’t work online,  at least not to the extent of being able to know who will decide to try out Empire Avenue before they make that decision.   Sometimes I can read people face to face so well it’s almost scary.   But skilled as I may have become at conducting relationships in far flung pixels,   I really can’t read people online.

I am hoping to recruit some of my friends who continually invest in new users to be ambassadors for my book to the newly arrived.    I’m thinking that when my friends are already buying shares,  saying hello and trying to start relationships with them,   they might could say a few words about this very helpful and useful guidebook that takes away so much of the confusion and mystery of one’s early days on the Avenue.    I’m thinking that if I provide four or five blurbs,   which could be inserted into any sorts of messages,  on EAv, on FB , etc.   my friends might be able to convince some newbies to invest a dollar to save themselves weeks if not months of learning curve.     If you’ve been on the Avenue awhile and would be willing to help promote the book to new players,  please leave a comment or shoot me a message on Facebook.     Except for to experienced players who will help with proof-reading,  fact checking and promotion,  I’m not going to give away ANY free copies this time.    My goal is to find a way to sell 300+ copies to the actual intended audience.    Wish me luck?

Crazy For Susan

an unassigned lifeIt had seemed like such a sensible idea.   I would be the mild-mannered book reviewer by day who led a secret, sexy life by night under an assumed name who wrote stories about his sexcapades in the dark.   I can’t really help but see parallels to ‘coming out’  as a gay person.  Growing up closeted,  one develops acute instincts and learns to make quick judgments about who can be trusted with what information.    Because even though you are sort of living two lives,  you are in fact always one person.   And where is the fun in keeping a secret if you don’t have anyone you trust enough to share it with? 

My wallet name has been kind of going crazy for the fiction of Susan Wells Bennett.     I have finally got around to putting up the long contemplated fan page  and published a review of her Brass Monkey Novels.    And I totally broke my ‘only buy one eBook a month’ pledge, picking up not only her new Just One Note this month but also her short anthology Desert Choir and buying her early novel Circle City Blues.    I had of course already read and reviewed Circle City Blues,  but it was one of only a few books that I bought and read in a Kobo eReader program.    Much as I wanted to,  I was never able to like the Kobo app as well as the Kindle app.    And after learning about linking,  I’ve kind of given up the fight and joined the legions of folks who read pretty much only in their Kindle app these days.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the world of long haul trucker “Mac” MacDougall  and was reminded all over again why I have been so very enamored of Mrs. Bennett’s fiction.   My pen name, meanwhile has been taking it a bit slower lately.   Mostly just seeing old friends,  rather than rushing hither and yon meeting lots of new people all the time.   And my pen name has not even Begun the task of meeting and greeting and creating a reader base for what he’s started writing.   I would be comforted by the idea that he’s turned _that_ task over to the experts at Libdrone Books.    Except that I remember that that’s me.    In a very different context I find myself remembering the title of the late Jean Harris’ memoir A Stranger In Two Worlds.    A belated Happy Monday and here’s hoping your new week is off to a great start.