Thursday, December 31, 2009


It's always with some trepidation that I approach what a cover artist has come up with for a book of mine. After all, this is the face of my baby. I want it to be beautiful. I also want it to be compelling because I know it's a big, fat lie when people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover." In whatever context they mean it, they can and do. The cover helps sell a book almost, if not as much, as what's on the interior.

With the cover artist I work with at Amber Quill Press, Trace Edward Zaber, I am not as afraid when I get that e-mail telling me a cover design is ready. Trace is a great cover artist and I am usually over the moon with what he comes up with for my work. We've worked together on enough books that I hardly have to give him much suggestion or direction on what I hope to see. We're in sync.

The cover for my upcoming novel, The Blue Moon Cafe, is no exception. Trace managed to encapsulate exactly what I wanted to get across: that this was a horror story, yes, but at its heart, it's a love story. It's a book that I hope will make a reader's heart race for many reasons.

And it's appropriate that I'm sharing this with you today, because tonight is a blue moon, the first in a decade.

I'd love to know what you think of the cover. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Blue Moon Café releases on March 7, 2010 in ebook format, with the paperback version to follow approximately two weeks later. To read the first chapter, e-mail me at and I will send it to you.

What The Blue Moon Cafe is about:

Someone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Café. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into…and he can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being: Why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of horror and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Café, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Stellar Review for SUPERSTAR

Rainbow Reviews gave a stellar review of my rock star love story, SUPERSTAR, on their site recently.

In part, they said:

"'This July day is a stunning one, clear, sunny, low humidity and a temperature in the mid 70s ... It's a lovely day to commit suicide.' This statement is a wonderful scene setter. Such deft phrasing is maintained throughout this short story, making it a joy to read...This was a most thought-provoking story, rich in emotion and humanity. I expected it to be mostly depressing, but, although it had its sad moments, the tale was uplifting. I know it will remain long in my memory."

Read the rest of the review here.

Read an excerpt and a synopsis and get your copy here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Writing and Its Stigmatisms

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with someone in a different country and the question of occupations arose. "I'm a writer," I replied. The response was a bit of a shock to me: "That's not a real job." What he meant was "that's not a job with a W-2, regular biweekly paychecks, and some security". It reminded me of something my mother once said. Upon telling her aunt she wanted to be a writer, she was told, "Why, that's a great idea! All you have to do is sit there and type up something and get paid for it!"

Both extremes have their points... yet neither gives you a true picture of what being a writer really is. it's grueling research, back-story writing, drafting, and a billion other things... all penciled into regular life with the hopes that someone, somewhere will recognize it as "worthy of publication" and hand you over a meager farthing for your toils. Unless you're a Stephen King, you're lucky to make minimum wage.

Let's face it. Writing is hard work (though maybe not physically) and while many people wish to do it, few follow through with the daunting task of finishing a book. No matter what your topic or genre, it's rough out there. Critics can be downright cold-hearted. Being a nobody can land you in front of a dozen padlocked doors. You're the new kid in school, trying to find a few pals and a click that accepts you.

From my own experience, being a nonfiction writer comes with its own set of stigmas and opinions. There are those who feel you're not a "real writer". After all, you're just regurgitating someone else's work, right? Well, not exactly. You're researching like a fiend, pulling together resources and information to create an original work without saying what others already have. But unlike fiction, you have to check, double check, and triple check your sources, separating opinion from concrete truth. All this and it has to be in your own words. Believe me, it can be a nightmare.

The hardest pill for me to swallow was opening up the first copy of my book, Queer Hauntings, and seeing "Compiled by Ken Summers" glaring back at me. Compiled? Is that how some people view nonfiction? You're just gathering someone else's work and tossing it into your own binding? I can't count how many booksellers I had to talk to and explain that I wasn't the editor. Each chapter was my own work, not copied verbatim from elsewhere. After slaving away on a breakneck three-month deadline, I wanted people to know that a lot of hard work went into my first "official" book (I say that because, I self-published a small book of local interest prior to finding an actual publisher for a book of wider interest).

For all writers, fiction and nonfiction, our work is our baby. We put everything into what we create and send it out into the world, hoping that it can walk on its own two feet and someone will appreciate what we did. It's a branch of our own self, a piece of who we are. We might get a little sensitive at the words and criticisms we hear, but it comes from being that protective parent. No one wants a product of their labors to be torn apart, nitpicked, or belittled. Still, it comes with the territory.

So, is it worth it? Is venturing forth to write the next novel or biography a wise idea given the strong probability that there will be negativity to endure? Without a doubt, yes. Bad comes with good in every aspect of life. For every jibe, there's a pat on the back waiting. Just a simple "thank you" from a reader at a book signing can make all the not-so-pleasant obstacles seem unimportant. A wise person once told me, "Don't let the music die within you." Good books are only written when the creators have the courage to take the leap and let their words be heard.