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Friday, August 31, 2012

"Porn for Women"

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Do you want to know how to create the perfect fantasy romance hero? What traits to give him so that every woman immediately loves him? Read Porn for Women (and enjoy the photos). Here's the intro:
What really turns women on? We, at the Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative, have dedicated our careers to answering this very question. In pursuit of answers, we canvassed the nation, traveling far and wide, surveying women across the land. We asked young women, old women, rich and poor, "what really, really gets you hot?" [...] Prepare to enter our fantasy world, girls (or guys who want to learn something), a world where clothes get folded just so, delicious dinners await us at home, and flatulence is just not that funny.


Yep, the guys pictured in this little book say all those things that make us swoon, make us adore them and think we've found the perfect man.  So put these pearls into your hero's dialogue:

"I don't have to have a reason to bring you flowers."
"Ooh, look, the NFL playoffs are today. I bet we'll have no trouble parking at the crafts fair."
"I love a clean house." (Picture of hunky, shirtless guy doing the vacuuming.)"
"I know, let's take you shoe shopping."
"Want to snuggle?"
"Have another piece of cake. I don't like you looking so thin."
"As soon as I finish the laundry, I'll do the grocery shopping. And I'll take the kids with me so you can relax."

There, doesn't that sound like the perfect man? Total fantasy, but still perfect for a romance hero.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Brits versus Yanks in the Spelling Sport

by editor Briana St. James

While some Ellora’s Cave stories are set in far-flung locales, we use American English spellings for our manuscripts. If the author is Australian, Canadian, a Brit, or grew up learning British English, this can cause some confusion and add some additional time to edits.

One of the easiest ways to identify Brit spellings is to consult your word processing program. Many versions of word processing programs (including MS Word) allow you to set your language to American English. Your spell check option will then identify words that ought to be changed to American English.

Spelling differences aren’t always as easy to spot as colour versus color or rumour versus rumor. The “ou” words are fairly common and an easy fix, but these are just the beginning of common differences.

Arse is sometimes used if characters are British, but how often do you see an American character talking about what a tight arse a hunky hero has? Theatre is sometimes used by those in the acting industry on both sides of the pond, but we’d go to a Broadway theater in Manhattan. We haven’t travelled on an aeroplane, we’ve traveled on an airplane.

Another common difference in British versus American English is the tendency to end a word ending in “ed” with a “t”— American dreamed becomes British dreamt, leaped becomes leapt, learned becomes learnt.

British English uses some hyphenated words that we have as solid in American English—co-operate, re-use, de-fuse, etc.

A commonality in phrasing that I see a lot is the tendency to use round instead of around. “She went round the pub” should be “She went to the pub. She “came round” works better as “she came over”.

The British “rang off” when used for a phone call can be confusing. A simple “disconnected” often works better, especially in the era of cell phones, when hanging up a phone call isn’t what it used to be. Ringing, when used to describe calling someone, works much better as calling. Most Americans call their cell phones just that, while much of the rest of the world calls them mobiles.

Queue can be used in some areas of America, though I believe it is pretty much confined to New England/the Mid Atlantic. In parts of America, people mostly get “on line”. But the simpler “joining the line” or “standing in line” works much better.

Be careful of words that mean something completely different, depending on which version of English one is most accustomed to speaking. A brief Brit list is provided here.

Fanny—female genitals

Thong—very skimpy undies

Torch—flashlight

fag—this one is especially problematic if one means a cigarette rather than a gay slur.

Ensure vs. insure

Enquiry vs. inquiry

By keeping an eye out for these common differences, you’ll be able to streamline the editing process.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Start: Erotic and Electronic

by Ann Jacobs

November 2002—A personal revelation about erotic romance…and electronic publishers.

Sure, I’d heard about ebooks way before 2002, but most of what I’d heard wasn’t good. I had the typical mindset of an author who’d battered her way into the dog-eat-dog world of traditional big however-many NY publishers and found modest success. I hesitated to screw my reputation, such as it was, by delving into the world of epublishers where it was said one couldn’t make a living, or even a pittance, taking part in this daring new venture.

What changed my mind? By 2002 I was getting desperate, not able to make myself quit writing but also not able to sell another NY book after Coming Home, which came out from a dying line in early 2000. The owner of Red Sage Publishing, birthplace of my Ann Jacobs pseudonym, had even turned down a novella I’d submitted to her for a Secrets anthology, as being “not right” for the particular Secrets she was trying to complete. One day at RWA National, I was whining to my good friend and fellow Red Sage author Angela Knight.

“Ann, you can write steaming hot stuff. You ought to submit something to Ellora’s Cave.” Angela then mentioned that there was gold out there ripe for the taking, and I knew her well enough to be convinced she wouldn’t steer a fellow writer wrong.

Everything I’d had rejected by Harlequin and the NY houses had pushed the envelope on sex at the time with wide-open bedroom doors and the one-man, one-woman protagonists doing things that must have shocked the panties off the editors to whom two agents and I had submitted them. I recalled Angela’s words. Her recommendation about Ellora’s Cave echoed in my head until I gave in and submitted Commitment, a contemporary novella that Red Sage had declined as being too sexy.




 


I’d been used to getting phone calls when an editor bought my book, but then I’d also been accustomed to spending big bucks shipping printed manuscripts to New York editors. EC’s offer came the following day via email—the same way I’ve now been submitting proposals and manuscripts over nearly eleven years. Still skeptical about the possibility of earning real money with an e-publisher but thrilled to be writing and selling again, I wrote a new novella intended for a program Kathryn Falk had envisioned for the 2003 RT convention, about magicians. That story, Illusions, was paired with Commitment in Love Magic, an e-book collection that released in November 2002. The two novellas were split out and released separately in 2010 with gorgeous new covers by Syneca.

Also released in late November 2002 was Love Slave, my Quickie introduction to the Black Gold series books that came out in 2003 and 2006 respectively. Its new cover by Dar Albert sizzles, don’t you think?

But I digress. My editor apologized profusely in December 2002 over the small amount of my first EC royalty check. It wasn’t small to me. As a matter of fact that check exceeded my wildest expectations, and from there things kept getting better. While I’d heard horror stories of ebook royalties that wouldn’t pay for a Starbucks coffee, I had a receipt from Paypal for enough money to register for the next RT conference and have some left over to apply to airfare!

Over the past nearly eleven years I’ve come to respect the new paradigm of publishing: e-first or e/print simultaneous, which is now becoming an industry standard. My thanks go to Tina, Patty, Raelene and all the visionary women who made Ellora’s Cave Publishing an industry standard for erotic romance and a joy for authors to work with. This month I have my sixtieth title coming out from Ellora’s Cave, and I hope to have at least sixty more over the next ten years. Thank you, EC, for giving me an outlet to write the kinds of romance that warm my heart and heat my libido, and hopefully do the same to the host of Ellora’s Cave readers.

Mountain Heat, new this month from Ellora’s Cave
Shotgun Relations, Caden Kink series book two, coming soon
Follow me on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/authrannjacobs

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wildly Witty Women

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I love browsing books of quotes. So I recently picked up Out of the Mouths of Babes: Quips and Quotes from Wildly Witty Women by Autumn Stephens.

"If he ain't willin' to strap on the rubber bridle, then I ain't willin' to ride."
- Calamity Wronsky & Belle Bendall (referring to condoms)

"I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves."
- Mary Wollstonecraft

"We still think of a powerful man as a born leader, and a powerful woman as an anomaly."
- Margaret Atwood

"Girls got balls. They're just a little higher up, that's all."
- Joan Jett

"For every hero in this world, there's at least one shero."
- Johnetta B. Cole

"If you can't change your fate, change your attitude."
- Amy Tan

"Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be."
- Cynthia Paddleford

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Those Agonizing Apostrophes

by Raelene Gorlinsky

A couple hundred years ago when punctuation was becoming standardized in our language, someone should have been smart enough to come up with a different symbol for possessives versus contractions. Using an apostrophe for both leads to some of the most common errors in writing.

Every grammar or style book goes into great detail about apostrophe use for singular possessives, plural possessives, possessives of common versus proper nouns, apostrophes in contractions, apostrophes with numbers, and other forms. And the occasional and highly confusing exceptions to the rules.

Here are the three most frequent apostrophe errors:

It's/Its: This is one of the exceptions to the rule for making a noun possessive. The possessive of it is its, without an apostrophe. That is in order to distinguish it from the contraction of it is (or sometimes it has), which is it's.
It's not the apostrophe's fault that its usage is so confusing.

You're/Your: You're is the contraction of you are. Your is the possessive of you.
Your house is where you're most comfortable.

Let's/Lets: Let's is the contraction for let us; it is not a possessive. Lets is a verb meaning permits or allows; it is not a plural nor possessive form.
Let's go to the library, if your mother lets us.

Other apostrophe tips:
Never use an apostrophe to make a noun plural. The Smiths have a new house, not the Smith's have a new house.

Oh, and one of my pet peeves: The contraction of until is 'til, not till (and never 'till).

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top-Earning Authors

From Forbes Magazine, 8/9/12:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/08/09/women-on-the-rise-among-the-worlds-top-earnings-authors/

Selected quotes from the article:

"Men still top the list of the world’s highest-earning authors, but this year it’s the women on the list who’ve been making the boldest moves, led by a trio of genre phenoms: Suzanne Collins, E.L. James and J.K. Rowling."

"Genre fiction and young adult are clearly where the money’s at."

  1. James Patterson ($94 million)
  2. Stephen King ($39 million)
  3. Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
  4. John Grisham ($26 million)
  5. Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
  6. Bill O'Reilly ($24 million)
  7. Nora Roberts ($23 million)
  8. Danielle Steel ($23 million)
  9. Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
  10. Dean Koontz ($19 million)
  11. J.K. Rowling ($17 million)
  12. George R.R. Martin ($15 million)
  13. Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
  14. Ken Follett ($14 million)
  15. Rick Riordan ($13 million)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Over a Decade of Changes, Part Two

Author Kate Hill talks about her early days at Ellora’s Cave. (Part One, posted 8/13/12, discussed the start of epublishing.)

In 2002, with my fingers crossed, I submitted a vampire novella, Marriage in Moonlust, to Ellora’s Cave. The story was accepted in August, the contract was signed in September, and the story was published in October as part of a two-author anthology, Midnight Desires, with Sherri King.

Ellora’s Cave had (and has) an active online readers’ group where I was warmly welcomed by readers and other authors. Hanging out there was great fun and I felt instantly at home. On the business side, the staff was very helpful in answering questions and I really enjoyed working with my editor. Later, upon receiving my first royalty check, I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time my writing actually helped pay the bills.

The skeptics were still talking and trying to subdue those who had decided to venture into nontraditional territory. Maybe their protests weren’t truly because they didn’t like the idea of books not written on paper, but because they feared competition. The world of ebooks was growing.

Ebooks were getting reviewed by many online sites as well as in print publications such as Romantic Times Magazine. Some people were reading on ebook devices. My first device was a Christmas present from my family. My second is still working perfectly, even though it was one of the oldest models made.

As both a reader and a writer, I was now firmly entrenched in the world of ebooks. Most of my favorite authors—Charlotte Boyett-Compo, Sahara Kelly, Katherine Kingston and R. Casteel to name a few—were epublished.

While I couldn’t quit my day job (not even writing for a traditional publisher can guarantee that), I had additional income and best of all it was from my dream job.

During my first few years with Ellora’s Cave, my first novel, Darkness Therein, and its sequels were reissued by them. I wrote additional stories in the series and also started two new fantasy series.

It’s been ten years since my first story was accepted by Ellora’s Cave. Since then I’ve had several single titles and multiple series with them, including Ancient Blood, Alien Affairs, Knights of the Ruby Order and the Horsemen.

Over the past decade, I’ve seen many changes in the epublishing world and how people regard it. Nowadays ebook devices are popular. Big publishing houses offer their titles as ebooks. Some epublished authors have become best sellers. Many authors have enjoyed a long and satisfying career in epublishing.

Readers of just about every taste can find stories they enjoy and characters they can relate to. In the ebook world, great romances aren’t limited to boy meets girl. There are many GLBTQ romances available as well. As both a reader and a writer I appreciate the freedom and variety of electronically published books. Unlike days past, when people looking for a story outside the norm would have to search hard and often end up disappointed, just about any type of story can be found in ebooks. If you’re looking for a medieval menage with alien werewolves, it’s probably out there. That’s what I call fantastic.

To the skeptics who thought (or wished) ebooks and their authors would fade away, not only are we still here, but we’re stronger than ever. Ebooks have given me the opportunity to do what I love most—tell stories. I enjoy promotion and contact with readers and authors. I’m grateful to have learned about the technical aspect of writing from editors and other professionals like those at Ellora’s Cave. While I won’t lie and say I enjoy every aspect of writing, I love it overall and can’t imagine a life without it.

It’s been an interesting journey and I hope it’s far from over. Whatever the next step in publishing, I plan to be open to it and I look forward to what the future will bring.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Conversation is Not Dialogue

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Conversation is the way people really talk, their exact words. It may be realistic, but it is repetitive, slow, often hard to follow, often boring to others.

Dialogue is what you should put in your book - snappy, interesting, conveying important information or defining the character, moving the story along.

From You Can Write a Novel by Geoffrey Bocca: "Of all aspects of novel writing, none plays a greater con job on the reader than dialogue. The art of dialogue lies in leading the reader to think that the characters are speaking as they do in everyday life, when they are doing nothing of the sort."

Important tip: Read your dialogue aloud. Does it flow, or does it halt the movement of the story?

Dialogue must contribute to telling the story. So if your characters are talking in your head, be sure to convert their "conversation" to "dialogue".

Monday, August 13, 2012

Over a Decade of Changes, Part One

Author Kate Hill talks about the early days of epublishing from an author perspective.

My first epublished novel was released in 2000. The Darkness Therein was a vampire romance and had been rejected by several publishers. When I’d started shopping the book around, I wasn’t really aware of epublishing for novels. Most of my reading was traditional print books, as well as online zines that published short horror and science fiction stories.

Then I discovered full-length ebooks. They were cheaper than print books and didn’t fill up my living space. Best of all, the stories were different. Ebook authors were able to take more chances. They explored a wide variety of characters and plotlines. Most traditionally published romance novels were basically the same types of characters and plots by the same authors. In 2000 I was not only eager to be published, but I was starved for new stories with characters I could relate to.

Because I was satisfied with the presentation of ebooks (I wasn’t so eager for publication  that I’d try to sell something in a format I wouldn’t use myself), I started submitting my book to epublishers.
At the time, the popular opinion was that epublished authors couldn’t get published elsewhere and that epublishers weren’t picky and would accept anything. Other misconceptions were that ebooks weren’t edited and no one actually read them. Since I’d been rejected by epublishers I could safely say that no, epublishers didn’t accept every book that came their way. As for whether ebooks actually got read, I knew I read and even preferred them to print books. I didn’t believe I was alone.

My first novel was finally accepted and so began my journey into the world of ebooks. I learned that being a published author meant more than writing a story. Other parts of the business, such as editing (yes, epublishing skeptics, my books were edited) and promotion, took a great deal of time.

Back then, controversy surrounded epublishing. While some people were open to it, others considered it a trend that wouldn’t last. Some traditionalists even seemed offended by it. I remember telling a few coworkers about my epublished book and one guy basically called me a traitor. A traitor to what? Words on paper? To me, stories had never been about format, but about content. Wonderful characters and memorable adventures, not format, made a good story. Historically, stories had been passed down verbally. Did the people who told and listened to those stories dislike them because they weren’t written down?

Some people seemed to hope that ebooks would fail. Not only had the authors and publishers chosen to tell their stories through an unusual format, but they wrote unusual stories. They weren’t bound by the rules of traditional publishing. Atypical heroes and heroines populated cross-genre romances. What were these authors doing?

I learned to keep my frustration under control. Instead of getting defensive, I tried to persuade people who were unfamiliar with ebooks to try something new. Everyone has a right to decide what and how they like to read. Some people were open to ebooks while others preferred to stay with print. Both are equally good and I was glad both options were available.

Over the next couple of years I had a few novels published, but I was still learning and still searching for a publishing company in which I truly felt at home. In 2002 I heard about Ellora’s Cave from my mother, who is also an avid reader. A big fan of Jaid Black, she had been reading Ellora’s Cave books and suggested I submit a story to them. I decided to check out their books and was instantly hooked. Not only did this company publish ebooks, but their stories combined erotica with romance. At the time it was practically unheard of to find a love scene that used frank language instead of “purple prose”. As a publisher, Ellora’s Cave was unique among the unique.

In Part Two (later this week), Kate will talk about her journey at Ellora’s Cave.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Exciting Envelopes

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Almost all our communication here at EC is done via email. About the only thing for which we still use paper and the postal system is author contracts (and we're working on automating them as an electronic process). So each week I get stacks of envelopes from our authors all over the world, with the contracts for their latest accepted books. Hey, that's well over 500 a year! Dealing with all this paper is a bit tedious, but a few things can enliven the daily mail processing.

One author regularly sends a cartoon with each contract. Another sends me a note on the loveliest paper. I always enjoy these little touches. Too bad chocolate would likely not survive the mail well.

If the envelope is from outside the U.S. and has interesting stamps on it, it goes to Kelli after I've extracted the contents. She's a fantastic collage creator, and is considering doing one of foreign stamps.

There are some envelopes we fight over. The unique ones. We have a couple of authors who enliven the backs of their envelopes with drawings. One author is in Australia, and doodles pictures of kangaroos and such on her envelopes. Kelli claims she should get all these, because she is this author's editor. But I did manage to hang onto one cute kanga-doodle. (Thank you, Lexxie.)

And then there's Sidney, who draws and colors cartoon panels. Lots of space on a 9" by 12" envelope, you know. The latest came this week, it's the Epic Adventures of Awesome. The heroine is married to her best friend, the Pink Poodle. Alas, the final panel is "To be continued...". Hey, Sidney, send me more! I need entertainment when dealing with all these envelopes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: What's Not to Like About Like?

By copy editor Susan Greene

What's not to like about like?

Some authors use it like crazy, while others treat it like it's taboo.

For those of you paying enough attention to know I misused the word like in the second half of the previous sentence, I'm so glad you noticed. You may go now.

For those of you who didn't, read on for a short lesson in the proper use of like versus as if.

Like is a versatile little word that can be used as a noun, a verb, an adverb, a preposition, an adjective and even as an interjection. (Like, what are you saying here, Susan?)

We're going to concentrate on the use—or rather the misuse—of like as a conjunction. While it's acceptable in colloquial speech to use like in this manner, in the written word it's simply bad grammar.

"The dog barked like she had no sense."

What's wrong with that? Well, if it was in dialogue, I'd say nothing is wrong. In character dialogue, many grammatical slipups can be ignored, since that's how people speak. But in narration, the sentence should read: "The dog barked as if she had no sense." (I'm pretty certain my dog doesn't.)

"As if  I'll remember that," you might say. Well, think of that particular “valley girl” phrase whenever you're tempted to use like.

Here's another example: "She grinned like a Cheshire cat." In this sentence, there is no verb after the word like, only a subject. This is a simile. Like is always used with a simile—a comparison of one thing to another. This includes similes containing participle phrases. "She grinned like a cat licking milk from its whiskers." That is correct. Why? Because the word licking, while it does show action, is not a verb in this case. It is part of an adjective (modifying) clause describing (or modifying) the cat.

"She ran like her life depended on it." In this sentence, like is incorrect. Why, you ask? Because "her life depended on it" is an independent clause containing a subject and a verb that could stand alone as a separate sentence, where "a cat licking milk from its whiskers" is not. "She ran as if her life depended on it." Subject—life; verb—depended. Make sense?

So get in touch with your inner "valley girl". If the second clause in a sentence is an independent clause that could stand alone as a sentence, containing both a SUBJECT and a VERB, replace like with as if. (Or as though. They’re interchangeable.)

Believe me, to your editors, it will be like a dream come true!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Original Bad Girls of Romance

In a few months (Nov. 28, 2012), Ellora's Cave will be a dozen years old! Twelve successful, profitable years. And...we have authors who have been with us since those very early days and are still actively writing for us! These authors, each of whom has been with EC at least a decade, are a real cause for celebration.

Mid-August up until our EC anniversary, we will be running special sales on these authors' books. And their series will be featured in our special promo where we offer the first book in a series free for two weeks. The authors will be having contests and various giveaways on their own websites and blogs. We'll be featuring posts from them here on R&D.

So please join us in applauding the "Original" Bad Girls of Romance:

Ann Jacobs
B.J. McCall
Denise A. Agnew
Elizabeth Lapthorne
Jaid Black  (of course--the first Bad Girl of Romance)
Joanna Wylde
Joey W. Hill
Kate Hill
Katherine Kingston
Kit Tunstall
Lora Leigh
Madeleine Oh
Margaret L. Carter
Sherri L. King
Tielle St. Clare
Vonna Harper

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Who versus That

by Martha Punches
Good Morning, Writing Class.

Let’s be honest here. How many times have you been reading along, thoroughly enjoying your leisure reading time, and gotten jerked out of your concentration on the hot sex story/murderer being revealed/cliffhanger ending because the author has used THAT instead of WHO? Am I the only one who hates this? Nah, I can’t be.

WHO. When you have to use either Who or That, think person. Who, and this is no pun intended, is this word or phrase referring to? If your sentence has a person mentioned, you should use WHO, not THAT.

Example:

All the usual suspects were gathered in the parlor. Only Greeves, the butler that found the poor strangled Headmaster, was missing.

No no no no no! Okay, this is a personal pet peeve of mine but it grates on my nerves to read it that way.

Read the sentences again but put in who for that.

All the usual suspects were gathered in the parlor. Only Greeves, the butler who found the poor strangled Headmaster, was missing.

Now doesn’t that sound much better? Just agree with me and it will cause a whole lot less friction! I won’t be forced to issue a complaint about the whole matter.

According to the Quick and Dirty Tips Grammar Girl site (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/who-versus-that.aspx), the Who versus That issue has gray areas. Many are convinced you must use Who with people and you use That with an object. Others would swear you have to use That with people. However, there is no hard and fast rule. Consistency is the key. I absolutely love her quote. “To me, using that when you are talking about a person makes them seem less than human. I always think of my friend who would only refer to his new stepmother as the woman that married my father. He was clearly trying to indicate his animosity and you wouldn't want to do that accidentally.” So, unless you are writing hard core science fiction and want to refer to your characters as objects or things, not humns or human-like, use Who!

There may not be a ‘Use It Or Else’ rule in all the grammar books, but be nice. Use Who with people and That with objects. Make me happy.

Memory tip: That = Things

And that concludes our session about Who versus That. Our next lesson will be on the usage of That versus Which.

Class dismissed.