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Two thousand eleven!

Published on December 31, 2010 by in Holiday

From a boring, logical point of view, the changing of the year doesn’t hold much significance, aside from being convenient for administrative purposes. Tomorrow will still be winter and the evening will continue to arrive much too quickly. But psychologically, I crave the fresh start a new year offers. All the bad events of the previous year will be just a bit more distant, if only in my mind, while the potential for the next year remains endless and untapped.

There’s a lot in 2011 that I’m excited about, starting with the imminent release of Something Like Summer. Then there’s a new short story that I’m proud of and some other projects I’m not quite ready to announce yet. Aside from work, a new year brings a fresh set of birthdays, anniversaries, warm seasons, and a vacation or two as well. Yeah, I’m more than ready to say goodbye to this withered old year and take a blind leap into the handsome arms of the next. I hope all the wonderful friends I’ve made this year, both through YouTube and my writing, will continue to put up with me for another twelve months and beyond. I love you guys! As for my old friends, well I suppose I love you too! Here’s wishing the best in the New Year for you and all those that gather close to you.

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Christmas beer and holiday cheer!

Nothing says “holidays” like getting hammered, and nothing says “beer” like Germany. That the two should be combined was inevitable. Germany isn’t big on fleeting food gimmicks, but come Christmas they loosen the lederhosen and break out a variety of holiday themed products. Considering that they already make beer for dogs and champagne for children, I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover Weihnachtsbier, a special beer just for Christmas time. No wonder Santa Claus visits here a day early!

Before trying it, I was sure Weihnachtsbier would taste like cinnamon, since that seems to be the local holiday flavor. Instead, Christmas beer is about percentages more than taste. While the average beer might contain between 4-5% of alcohol, Christmas beer usually clocks in at 5.5% percent and higher. The idea, I suppose, is to get just a little warmer during the cold season.

Wine has its own Christmas twist at this time of year. Glühwein, or “glow wine” because of the effect it has on your cheeks, is served in the winter months. This mulled wine is especially porpular at outdoor Christmas markets. Glühwein is made from cheap red wine enhanced with cinnamon, oranges, clover, and sugar. All of this is heated together, and is an absolute treat when strolling the market stalls in the snow. I made a video last year of our local Christmas market, which is a bit unique since it has a medieval theme as well. That adds hot honey mead and smoked beer to the list of seasonal drinks. You can see the Christmas market in part of my doofy video below.

However you celebrate the holidays, and even if you choose not to, I wish you a warm and loving time with friends and family, and the very best start possible in the new year.

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Brand Nude Cover Art!

Something Like Summer Cover ArtBehold! The cover art for my second novel, Something Like Summer. Imagine, if you will, that you spent hours and hours working on a piece of art. You do this in your free time, since you have a fulltime job and often work ten-hour days. When you are finally done slaving over your art, some skinny bastard walks into the room, says he loves what you’ve done, and then rattles off a list of changes that need to be made. That unfortunate artist is Andreas, so please pause for a moment to appreciate the fruit of his labors, because I honestly can’t afford to pay the poor guy in anything but foot massages and inexpertly cooked meals.

The cover, as you can tell from the wide format, is wrap around, and the feel is much different when holding a physical copy. The two characters on the front (aka the right hand side) seem as though they are just beginning their journey, while the lone figure on the back of the novel is staring off into the sunset, perhaps reflecting on the past or even dreaming of the future.

I could rant about this all day, but the bottom line is that I love it. The colors really pop on the screen, but there’s an added warmth in the printed version too. The gay genre is starting to see more and more illustrated covers, rather than clumsy stock photography mash-ups, and I’m extremely proud to add Andreas’s latest effort to the mix.

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Get high creatively!

Published on November 30, 2010 by in Books

Jay Bell's first and last paintingAnd I don’t mean making a bong out of a Barbie doll, although that would be impressive. What I’m saying is that creating can be an incredible, endorphin filled rush. Today marks the end of National Novel Writing Month, a program that encourages people to write as much as they can in a thirty day period. The sentiment is nice, but unless you are independently wealthy or retired, you probably don’t have much time to be creative. Full time jobs, house work, and social obligations all get in the way, so slow and steady is the only realistic way to create these days. If you didn’t meet the 50k word goal this month, don’t sweat it. No professional author writes an entire book in just a month. Well, a couple do, but nobody likes them. The rest of us desperately scribble down lines in those rare and increasingly less common quiet moments in life.

Or maybe you found that writing isn’t your cup of tea. That’s fine, but why not try something different next month? You could paint, sculpt, freestyle rap, get hardcore about crafts, or clumsily pluck an instrument of your choice. The philosophy behind Novel Writing Month is to try without worrying about the quality of what you are producing. I support this idea. Few of us will ever make a living being creative (myself included) so creating for the sheer joy of it should be the only goal. Others appreciating what you’ve made is just a bonus. Trust me when I say that completing something you’ve made all by your lonesome is leagues more gratifying than playing zombie in front of the television night after night. In the spirit of trying something new, the image accompanying this article is the one and only painting I’ve ever painted. It’s not very good, but it’s mine, and I had a great time sipping wine and pretending to be a snotty, world famous artist while creating it.

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I’ve got my own logo!

Published on November 20, 2010 by in Books

Jay Bell Books LogoNow I just need my own cable TV channel. JTV? Nah, I’m sticking to books. While working on the cover for Something Like Summer, Andreas decided that I needed my own logo. Sort of like how Penguin Books has the penguin or Tor has the mountain on the book’s spine. As usual, I seduced Andreas with a couple of beers, and what you see to the left is what we came up with.

Fool Tarot CardWhat does it mean? Well, the idea comes from Tarot cards, the very first of which is the Fool. As you can see from the card, we have someone setting out on a new adventure, a pack over one shoulder and their loyal dog at their side. This is exactly what the card represents, the endless potential of that first day where any destination can be chosen and anything can happen. The Fool, perhaps dreaming of these possibilities, doesn’t realize he’s about to step off a cliff. Peril and mistakes are at the heart of any good story, so this seems very appropriate to me. The number of this particular Tarot card is zero, which my Dad taught me to draw a slash through to distinguish it from an O. This brings us full circle, if you’ll pardon the pun. In the logo Andreas designed, we have a zero (a fool) carrying his pack and about to start a new voyage, and this is exactly what happens when each of us starts a new book. Now I just need to figure out where to put the tattoo…

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The cover art that never was…

Gay Cover Art PaintingThe release of my next book is inching ever closer! Something Like Summer is a coming of age novel that should be out January of next year. All that remains to be done is proofreading by test readers to catch the last of those typos, and the cover art, which Andreas has been diligently working on. I thought the cover art would be a breeze since it has been done for twelve years now. Sort of. Andreas was organizing his art drawer one day when I spotted a painting I’d never seen before. I instantly fell in love with the image, which he had created a few years before we met each other. I’m crazy for grays and blues, so the mix of colors appealed to me, not to mention the sexy male figure with one hand down his pants. Something Like Summer is a sexy novel (although tasteful and heartfelt too) and I felt this image would sell that point.

Andreas tried and tried to reshape his long forgotten painting into being the cover of a book. Despite his best efforts, it just wasn’t clicking. One big obstacle was the limited amount of empty space left for the title. Even after some creative solutions it still didn’t look quite right. As much as I love it, this painting just wasn’t meant to be a book cover. I found the courage to ask Andreas to start over from scratch, and like a rather artistic trooper, he came up with something amazing. I’m not quite ready to reveal it yet, as there are still some small changes to be made, but I’m already glad the above image didn’t work out. I still love this painting, but from now on I’ll simply enjoy it for what it is.

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