Elsie Street Goes Wide, and a Free Promo

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I’m battling toothache, which is, um, what happens when you neglect your teeth for a long time… :(

71tE6kkxQsLIndie authors call it “going wide” when you release your book outside the KDP Select platform. I’m happy to announce that my latest novel, Elsie Street—a contemporary gay romance set in San Francisco—is going wide on December 8! It’s on pre-order right now; you can read a sample at Smashwords here (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595096). The book is available for preorder on iTunes and Barnes & Noble, and I will be releasing it on Kobo and All Romance eBooks in December as well.

If you have a Kindle, though, and have an interest in reading Elsie Street, you can do so for free on November 29 and 30!

David Fredrickson, author of  Life on All Fours, wrote in his 5-star Amazon review: “This is a well-crafted San Francisco story with interesting characters who are flawed, conflicted, sexy and sweet. This book is believable, yet moves us into a romantic space where the unbelievable is also possible. Ms. West takes us on a journey where the pangs of love are still palpable, even for those jaded by love’s misfortunes. Well done.” 

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Black Mass: A Review

Gabriella West:

There was a time when I was obsessed with movies, going to the cinema about three times a week. This love of mine has mellowed over the years to the point where I just see a film on Demand now and then, and rarely in the cinema. But I enjoy a film review and decided to reblog this one, since I’ve seen the trailer several times and Johnny Depp looks so startling!

Originally posted on L.R. Albright:

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a great gangster film that left me speechless at the unthinkable horror that the people involved inflicted on others, but I was sure when I saw the trailer for “Black Mass”, that I had found such a film, especially considering the subject.

James “Whitey” Bulger has been dubbed by many as the most notorious gangster in US history. Yet for someone so notorious, you would think that a better movie would’ve been made out of his life. Half-way through, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like if it were directed by someone with a little more energy and vision, rather than letting the actors take over each and every scene. I think it would’ve resulted in at least a better than decent film, certainly better than the one that has been delivered.  It also would’ve helped if the screenplay had been written…

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Elsie Street by Gabriella West: A Book Review

Gabriella West:

My friend and fellow writer Shannon Yarbrough posted a glowing review of my new novel Elsie Street on his blog today. I thought I’d share! The book can be found only on Amazon right now (and is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers), but I look forward to making it more widely available in the future, including a print edition.

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:

71tE6kkxQsLThere’s always an intriguing story and interesting characters to look forward to when reading something new from Gabriella West. Her latest, Elsie Street, is no different. I pre-ordered it and enjoyed reading it over the long Labor Day weekend. In it we meet Dave, a young Bostonian who is now enjoying California with his girlfriend Janine.

But when Dave loses his bar tending job, his entire world changes. Luckily, Janine helps get him a job as a security guard at a local museum. There, Dave meets a young man named Aaron and his sexual identity is reawakened, stemming from a brief affair he had with his college roommate long ago. What follows is the tensions that sexuality often causes when we are young and figuring out our place in this world, often riddled with guilt while figuring out what our true heart desires.

West embraces location. You’ll find yourself loving…

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New Book on Preorder: Elsie Street

ElsiethumbnailI have a new book coming out in September! It’s called Elsie Street and it’s a contemporary MM romance set in San Francisco.

This is my third book, and although I have lived in S.F. since 1988, it’s the first book to be published (though I have several on the back burner) that is set in the city and which deals with the sort of pressing issues that people who live here face. On the one hand, it’s a wonderfully tolerant place with great natural beauty; on the other, it’s a struggle to survive here and can be numbing and exhausting and soul-sucking.

Elsie Street falls under the genre of dysfunctional romance, though I didn’t know there was such a genre until I went looking on the Web! It’s also the first book I’ve written where I have the characters using cell phones, texting, Facebook… all the methods by which we connect nowadays and sometimes distance ourself from our actions, as well. One of the main characters even works at Twitter.

Here is the book description:

Boston native Dave Madden has just been fired from a dead-end bartending job in San Francisco. His long-suffering girlfriend helps him get a job at a nearby art museum as a guard. But what Dave finds there will challenge his whole sense of identity. For despite a fling with a college roommate that ended too soon for his liking, he considers himself straight. 

When Dave encounters woozy young Aaron Andersen at a work event–openly gay, with a house of his own in SF’s hip Bernal Heights neighborhood–he at first sees the 24-year-old techie as a harmless nerd and offers to drive him home. But Aaron soon has a seductive hold on Dave, and as the men’s lives become more intertwined, Dave finds himself falling into an unexpected and passionate relationship, one that will require all his loyalty and commitment, and his faith in love. 

Both men are damaged characters, and Dave wants to be a good influence on Aaron. But can their new life together on Elsie Street really work out?

Elsie Street is on preorder right now and will be released on September 5.

Also: Interested in joining my mailing list for news about upcoming releases and promotions? You can do so here!

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The end is near (of the novel, not the world)

Gabriella West:

Reblogging from Ilana DeBare’s blog, Midlife Bat Mitzvah. Ilana is a writer whom I met in a writing workshop several years ago and her posts are so funny, revealing, and honest. This one in particular illustrates the painful lows and highs of being a writer, so I thought I would share it.

Originally posted on Midlife Bat Mitzvah:

I’ve been working on the first draft of a new novel for slightly more than a year. Progress has been in small steps punctuated by constant breaks: My halftime job at Golden Gate Audubon gives me the rest of the week to write, but the paying work often creeps over into the unpaid work and then there are all the other interruptions of family, holidays, life.

This week, though, I’ve reached the last chapter.

Audubon work was relatively contained in June so I got on a roll. I saw the end of the book ahead of me, a long straightaway after winding through mountains. I was writing a lot! I became unusually spacey, caught up in imagined conversations between my characters while driving or taking my spin class or buying groceries. I was so distracted that I locked my keys in the car at the gym last week.

locked-out Evil…

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Review: On the Move, A Life by Oliver Sacks

When I first got acquainted with the neurologist Oliver Sacks and his work, it was through Awakenings, both the book and the movie. I was a young woman then and Oliver Sacks was someone to look up to. He also seemed like a distant, avuncular academic figure.

But readers are in for a shock here. First, Oliver Sacks comes out as gay (in a nondefensive way, but this must have cost him some angst, considering he has been in the closet all his professional life). Second, and even more shocking to me, actually, he comes out as a former weightlifter and motorcycle fanatic!

A strapping young Oliver Sacks on his bike.

A strapping young Oliver Sacks on his bike.

The best parts of the book explore his self-destructive youth in the late 1950s, where he emigrated to the US, began residency training, first in San Francisco and then at UCLA, and very quickly became addicted to amphetamines.

The memoir gets even more interesting as he shows how he kicked the amphetamine addiction and began to slowly explore writing as a “metier,” faced with opposition and sabotage from bosses and colleagues in New York, where he had moved, and even, eventually, his publisher.

Sacks is a lovable man, but a few revealing passages show how difficult he could be, and how he didn’t play the game at crucial points in his career. He forged his own path, meaning that for years he was not associated with any hospital and roved around visiting patients on a consultant basis. This must have been very painful for Sacks, who put so much of himself into his work that he was celibate for 35 years.

His family background as the youngest son of two Jewish doctors is explored in depth, including his relationship with his schizophrenic brother, Michael. Sacks admits that his youthful decision to leave London was partly caused by his oppressive relationship with Michael, just a couple of years older, who could be difficult and violent when not medicated and who lived at home until their parents died. As with many other complex relationships portrayed in the book, Sacks does not try to make himself look good in the reader’s eyes. His high-powered mother denounced his homosexuality early on, but he says in a revealing insight after her death that she was the person he felt the closest to in his life.

One of my favorite stories in the book is the one of Sacks confronting a raging bull on a Norwegian mountain trail. He lived to tell the tale, just about (though enduring the trauma of a broken leg and having to drag himself down the mountain for hours), and the whole episode became the basis for his book A Leg to Stand On, where he explores the disturbing post-surgery complication of his injured leg appearing alien to him and initially not responsive to rehab. The way he blithely ignored the sign warning that there was a bull on the mountain and then came face to face with this enormous creature, who expanded in front of his horrified eyes to grotesque proportions, is symbolic of Sacks’s whole life. It seems that he constantly courted death in one form or another and lived to tell the tale. On the Move, in fact, reveals many incidents of self-sabotage, accidents, and failures, which are surprising given Sacks’s aura of success…but serve as an important and poignant reminder that great success in one arena does not guarantee “an easy ride” in life.

That this memoir is published just as Oliver Sacks is facing his own “final battle” with cancer gives it an exquisite urgency. We meet him, the real man, just as he takes his leave… But at least we get to meet him.

One of the best books of the year, for me.

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KQED Forum Does an Hour on Self-Publishing

Michael Krasny, who hosts the Bay Area radio show Forum on KQED, did an hour on the changing world of self-publishing this week. I stumbled on to it a couple days later and was glad to be able to catch up via the audio archive. His guests were Mark Coker of Smashwords, Laura Fraser of SheBooks, and Ted Weinstein, literary agent. While nothing earth-shattering was said, the show was an interesting overview of how far self-publishing has come over the last few years, while noting its limitations as well.

Check out the show via the link below:


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Catch Time of Grace on Kindle Countdown This Weekend

Amazon offers a time-based promotional discount called the
Kindle Countdown, which I’ve never yet used for any of my books. I decided to enroll Time of Grace this Friday through Sunday (May 8-10), so the novel will be available for 99 cents rather than at its normal price of $2.99!

Time of Grace1Time of Grace, set in Ireland in 1915-16, tells the story of an English governess, Caroline Singleton, falling in love with a sultry Dublin housemaid, Grace Sheridan, at an Irish country house, Thornley Hall, while Ireland is still under British rule. Caroline slowly realizes that Grace is involved in illicit political activities, leading up to the uprising in Easter of 1916, which Caroline witnesses as a horrified observer while Grace takes part as a participant.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, and I’m sure it will be a dramatic civic occasion.

The novel is a passionate and personal LGBT love story set in a time of political turmoil. The Fussy Librarian will feature Time of Grace in its Saturday newsletter, and I’ll be anxiously watching the countdown this weekend!

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Want to help prevent online bullying? Comment on Facebook

Gabriella West:

This thoughtful and compassionate piece by TED’s social media editor, Nadia Goodman, deserves a read. I remember at the time of the original scandal thinking that Monica Lewinsky’s life would never be the same again. And, it turns out, it wasn’t. As someone who was bullied for years in school myself, I particularly appreciate Goodman’s message here of proactively showing what is, and is not, acceptable on message boards so that “the tone does change. Together, we have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

As TED’s social media editor, I have seen a lot of nasty comments. I’ve seen grown men and women deride a 14-year-old girl for her choice of dress. I’ve seen them say they’re revolted by a beautiful transgender woman. On every talk about race, I’ve seen a slew of racist comments. But none have ever been as bad as the comments we got when we published Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, The Price of Shame. At least at first.

When Monica spoke at TED2015, held in March in Vancouver, the audience in the room received her with warmth and generosity of spirit. Many who’d had reservations were swayed by her talk. We saw this kind, vulnerable, strong woman who wanted to be heard — a woman who knew what was at stake for the victims of public shaming and who deeply hoped to get her message right. For someone scarred…

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Review: A Long Way from Paris

ParisWith the arrival of spring comes thoughts of greenery, young animals, travel, and so on. Not long ago, I happened to stumble on a memoir by an unfamiliar writer, E.C. Murray, called A Long Way from Paris and loaded it on my Kindle. Here’s my review:

This memoir of Elizabeth Corcoran’s time of goatherding in the Languedoc region of rural France was mostly a delight to read. It’s 1980, and the author is an offbeat, inexperienced young American woman reeling from a relationship with an alcoholic boyfriend. She stumbles into the goatherding job through a relative who lives in the country. Knowing nothing about animals, knowing very little French even, she immerses herself in the flow of life there.

The family she’s living with are quite neurotic and strange, though one senses throughout that Elizabeth’s perceptions are a little off-kilter, too. I was particularly struck by her relationship with the mother of the household, Camilla, and how Camilla effortlessly keeps her secrets while this young American is observing her every day, trying to peek beneath the veil. (Elizabeth’s goatherding partner is a young Australian guy who picks up more of what’s going on in the house but is far less interested in the emotional subtexts. His constant refrain when she tries to engage him in conversation about their host family is “I could care less.”)

Ultimately, it’s quite poignant. Relationships are intense yet don’t go as planned; Elizabeth grows stronger physically and emotionally but there is still a sense of sadness as we put the book down, especially as we find out what happened to two of the male characters she’s written about in depth. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of living in this bare-bones household, constantly at the mercy of the weather, and yet enjoying exquisite gourmet meals and wine (so French!).

I’m afraid that the book had sloppy copyediting, though. I particularly cringed at “au pere” for “au pair” and had a hard time turning off my proofer’s eye throughout. The writing was strong, but it’s a shame the book didn’t go through one more editorial pass. (This is a general problem with small presses nowadays, I’ve noticed.)

Ultimately, A Long Way from Paris is a great coming-of-age read, as we get to immerse ourself in the ups and downs of Elizabeth’s daily life with the slow intimacy of a diary. I wanted to know more about her French family and what was really going on during that time she spent with them, but the barrier of language and culture is enough to keep those secrets buried forever.

Note: A Long Way from Paris (http://www.amazon.com/Long-Way-Paris-E-C-Murray-ebook/dp/B00QO2FM2Y/ref=cm_rdp_product) is currently available for $7.99, though prices change frequently.

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