Friday, March 26, 2010

Winner of Diagram Prize

The Diagram Prize goes to the oddest book title of the year. (See previous blog post,

The 2009 winner has been announced:
Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Dr. Daina Taimina (42% of the vote)

Runner-up was What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?, which got 30% of the votes. My favorite, Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, got 11%.

Too bad the contest is only for published books. Boy, if we could nominate some of the titles from submissions we receive...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Lines at EC!

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Boy, sometimes we are just so busy here that we can't find a spare minute to blog. But we're busy for a reason - lots of new and exciting stuff going on. So let us tell you about one of those projects. EC is opening two new lines (genres) of erotic romance, aimed at specific niche markets. We are open to submissions immediately. To submit, please read the Author Information brochure available on our website at .


Audience: 18- to 25-year-old modern women who would enjoy reading sexually explicit erotic romance stories about heroines with whom they can identify.

Tone and Style: The books will have a strong narrative voice. Dialogue and narrative will be very reflective of the target audience’s world.

Heroine: Must be in the 18-25 range, with behavior and attitude to match. The heroine should reflect the lifestyles and values of today's modern young woman.

Hero: The hero doesn't have to fit into the same age range. He may indeed be of age similar to the heroine, part of her peer group. But we would also accept stories of young women involved with older men.

Character Traits: Heroines are more sexually aggressive and less worried about what people think of them. Sexual fluidity (manifesting in various ways—metrosexual men, bisexual heroes/heroines, acceptance of GLBT culture, lesbian flirtation) is more common, almost expected.

Younger characters tend to be politically aware, socially liberal, and accepting of differences. Their job is probably just a job, not a major commitment or the most important thing in their life. Career paths aren't part of their life plans yet. Self-employment and entrepreneurship may be their goals.

Technology is a big part of their lives—cell phones, laptops, everything online.
The language should be current and characters will have very casual speech patterns, often sarcastic.


Audience: This line is for women of any age who would, or perhaps already do, enjoy EC Romantica®, but who may feel guilty about that enjoyment because of a conflict with their personal belief that sex should not occur before or outside of marriage.

Setting: The culture must involve a legal and binding public commitment ceremony between the two people that includes the intent of permanence (“’til death do us part”) and monogamy.

Sexual Content: These are indeed erotic—but the actual sex does not occur until after marriage. The stories should be the same graphic level of sexual description and sexual language as EC’s existing lines. The only difference from other lines is that the relationship must be monogamous and heterosexual, and penetrative sex cannot occur until after marriage. Before marriage, there should be a strong focus on the buildup of sexual tension; heavy petting, even leading to orgasm, is fine. The stories can include most of our other sexual elements—after marriage, anything goes!

It could be the heroine, hero, or both who have a personal belief in no sex before marriage. The character’s personal belief may be based on various factors, might include because it is a part of their religion with which they agree. But these are not religious stories; the character motivations or actions don’t focus on religion. The decision to wait for sex is a personal choice of the characters and should in no way imply a judgment that other people are wrong or "bad" for making different choices.

The characters do not have to be virgins, although it is fine if one or both are. But it also works if there were prior marriages, previous sexual experience, even previous sexual promiscuity. That could, in fact, play into the woman's or man's desire to now wait on the sex until after a legal commitment.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Authors Advising Authors #14 - Cat Marsters

Cat Marsters lives in a fairytale cottage with a Prince Charming husband who helpfully brings her delicious treats while she writes, and is more than happy to inspire a steamy love scene at a moment's notice. In fact, he walks around half-naked for this very purpose. And then she wakes up. In actual fact, Cat lives in a village in southeast England which, while not quite a fairytale setting, is nonetheless very pretty and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Cat doesn’t have children but she is the adoring keeper of a small pride of cats, and slavemaster to one Demon Puppy.

Cat has been writing all her life, but in order to keep herself rich in shoes and chocolate, she’s also worked as an airline check-in agent, video rental clerk, stationery shop assistant, and laboratory technician. She’s still aiming for the fairytale cottage and asks all potential Prince Charmings to apply in writing with pictures of themselves and their Aston Martins.




How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?

I could count them on my toes. If I had ten feet. I number my files because they don’t always have a title, or it changes (Mad, Bad & Dangerous had eleventy-billion title changes), and I think I was up to fifty-something before I sold my first story. That was when I was twenty-three, so I suppose I’d been writing for seven years since I started when I was sixteen, although I didn’t start seriously submitting until maybe four or five years later.

What was the most surprising thing you learned after becoming published?

That you write your book and it has your name on it, but so much of its success is in other people’s hands. Cover art, how it’s marketed, where it’s sold, reviews and word-of-mouth—you can’t control it yourself.

Got any advice or an enlightening story about dealing with revisions or working with editors?

Well, with MB&D I’ve done so many revisions it’s hard to know what to advise! I’ve made charts and bullet points and scribbled notes all over the place. I did this even before I submitted the book, since I knew something wasn’t right. What I needed was an objective viewpoint—my editor’s—to tell me what wasn’t working. It’s like being in a big maze. You need someone on the outside to tell you how to get out! As for working with editors, I’ve had four (with three houses) and it seems to me like any other partnership: Sometimes you just rub along, and sometimes you bring out the best in each other.

What’s your favorite promo tip?

Be genuine. If you really dislike social networking, don’t do it. People can tell (it’s like when you read a sex scene that’s been added because “sex sells”, not because it fit the story or characters or because the writer likes writing sex). Nobody likes the hard sell. If you blog or tweet or network online, don’t just make it all about your books. Connect with people. Make friends. Friends buy books.

Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now?

Nope, I didn’t, and I still don’t. Not for want of trying, though.

Do you feel there’s a stigma attached to writing erotica/Romantica™?

Not especially. I certainly don’t hide the fact, although depending on the company I do sometimes just say I write romance and then judge from the reaction whether it’s worth explaining the rest. Sometimes the “nudge-nudge-wink-winking” is just too much! Some people look down on it, just like some people look down on romance as a genre. That’s their problem, not mine.

How do you handle writer’s block, or do you believe there’s no such thing?

I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a total block, but there are times when I don’t know what to do with a story or it just isn’t gelling. So I do something else, either writing-related like promo or website maintenance, or something entirely different. Doing manual things like housework frees my brain up sometimes, and so does dog walking. I live near some woods and open fields so I can walk about talking to myself and relatively few people see me and think I’m crazy. The Demon Puppy probably does, but then she’s the devil incarnate so I don’t worry too much about her opinion of me.

What lengths have you gone to in the name of research? What wouldn’t you do?

Sometimes I think if MI5 went through my browsing history they’d probably think I was a terrorist. Or a pervert. Whenever people nudge and wink and ask me if I research all my sex scenes personally, I tell them yes. Every one. Even the ones with the vampires. The sex is great but the bloodstains are hell on the sheets. And werewolves? Very exciting, although they do tend to rip your lingerie to shreds. Either that, or I tell them I watch a lot of porn.

What’s the most importance piece of advice you have for aspiring (not yet published) authors?

Keep going. You’re pre-published, not un-published. If you really want to do it, then keep on going. After all, if you quit you’ll never get there!

Would you offer any word of warning for aspiring or new authors about the writing profession or the publishing industry?

Yes. Write because you love it, not for the money (although some money is nice). Don’t imagine glory and riches. There are thousands of brilliant authors out there but I bet you’ve never heard of 95% of them. If you’re after fame and money, try Simon Cowell.

Anything you want to share with readers about yourself, or previous, current or upcoming EC releases?

I’m a screaming ball of crazy. My books reflect this. Mad, Bad & Dangerous is about a snarky shapeshifter and a feckless mage who can’t actually do magic. It’s the sequel to Almost Human, which was about an angry lion and a high-class prostitute. My favorite character to write is undoubtedly Striker—the father of Almost Human’s heroine—who is a total psychopath. He’s in MB&D too, mostly because I just really like him. I’m considering a third book, one with a retired courtesan and an amnesiac assassin. That could be fun.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Authors Advising Authors #13 - Mari Freeman

Mari Freeman lives, disguised as a normal suburbanite, in central North Carolina. When not penning romantic erotica, she enjoys horses, hiking, traveling, good food and friends. An outdoors girl at heart, you can often find her at the lake with laptop fired up, fishing line in the water and her imagination running wild.

In her previous lives, she’s held an interesting array of occupations. She’s been a project manager, a software testing manager, sold used cars, pumped gas at a truck stop and worked in a morgue.

Mari’s favorite stories include Alpha females in love with even more Alpha males. She finds the clash of passionate, strong-willed personalities fascinating. She writes contemporary, paranormal and a little science fiction/fantasy.



Twitter: @marifreeman

How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?

I don’t like to answer this question because my reply is somewhat misleading. The very first thing I submitted was accepted. However, I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember. I have a minor in creative writing. Heck, my senior project for my anthropology degree was a fictional story in which I incorporated my various levels of training in archeology, sociology and forensic science in order tell a “coming of age story” for an ancient Native American boy. I didn’t decide to submit for paid publishing until much later, after a career in the technology industry came to an end along with the dot-com bubble. By that time, I’d written two novels, numerous short stories and even some poetry. I sold my first submission because I did my homework. I submitted the right thing, to the right publisher, at the right time. I had a good knowledge of the industry and its expectations before submitting. Doing my homework paid off. And I’m a lucky bee-yotch.

What was the most surprising thing you learned after becoming published?

I’d been active in my RWA chapter and had fantastic mentors prior to and during the process, so there weren’t any real big surprises.

Got any advice or an enlightening story about dealing with revisions or working with editors?

I’m a tough nut for an editor because I’m dyslexic. Getting my own thoughts properly on the page can often be exceptionally challenging. That means my editor also has some challenges. My process can be much slower than others because I have to get more eyes on my manuscripts before I submit. I’m very lucky to have a great editor in Kelli. She found a way to work with me despite my disability and still pushes me to improve in spite of it. It’s a hard mix.

I think the biggest challenge new authors have with editing is recognizing that good editing will make EVERY book BETTER. Your editor is not your BFF. She [or he] is not there to make you feel good. She is the filter between you and your reader. She knows what should flow through and what shouldn’t. She is the one who will make your work the best it can be. I think of it this way: My editor is watching over my brainchild and preventing me from a brain fart.

What’s your favorite promo tip?

Make it PG-13, not NC-17. Remember that you want that promo item, on which you spent all your hard-earned money, to stay in your potential readers’ hot little hands. That means you have to keep your readers’ households in mind. I can’t have the really steamy stuff sitting around my house because I have an eight-year-old. So letter openers, cups, pencils or note pads that have overly provocative imagery or copy do not make it into my house. Try to be as inclusive as possible with promo. The more potential readers who take your widget home and use it, the better.

Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now?

No and No.

Do you feel there’s a stigma attached to writing erotica/Romantica™?

Do people raise their eyebrows when I say I write erotic fiction? Sure. If there’s a stigma there I don’t acknowledge it. The line between what I write for Ellora’s Cave and what is considered mainstream is super thin. Is my work highly evocative? Yes. But it’s becoming closer and closer to prime time. Have you watched prime time TV lately? Even daytime TV. Last week, Ophrah interviewed Jenna Jameson and introduced her as the world’s most famous porn star and fellow entrepreneur.

How do you handle writer’s block, or do you believe there’s no such thing?

I went almost all last year without writing anything substantial. It was an emotional release after a couple of very stressful years full of highly emotional personal crap. Was that writer’s block? I don’t know. I’m just glad it’s gone. I put my butt in my chair and I write. It works.

What lengths have you gone to in the name of research? What wouldn’t you do?

I treat research like a school project. Talk to people who are experts in the areas you need to know about. Read. Read. Read. I’m not into “method research”. You don’t have to play with group sex to imagine what group sex would be like. I have a great scene that involves a werewolf and a swing set, and I assure you, I did not search out a werewolf in a kids park to get first-hand experience. I do what I think is the appropriate amount of research for the subject. I don’t want to get so lost in research that it takes away from the writing.

What’s the most importance piece of advice you have for aspiring (not yet published) authors?

Finish the book. Don’t perfect it. Finish it. I’m not saying don’t make it the best it can be, but don’t cripple yourself with perpetual rewriting. Next, determine what your strengths are and then find a critique partner with different ones. My incredible CP writes deep, character-driven stories. I write highly plot-driven stories. We meet and talk about everything we write. She helps me to work on my character development and I help her with strengthening plot.

Would you offer any word of warning for aspiring or new authors about the writing profession or the publishing industry?

There’s really no excuse these days for not understanding this business and how it works. There are so many great blogs by authors, editors and publishers. You can find workshops and panels at local conventions. So much info is available to the unpubbed. You have to treat it like a business even when it’s your second job.

Do your homework. Find the right publisher/editor/agent for the book you’ve written. Make sure you submit it the way they’ve requested it. If you’re unsure, ask questions. I’ve found romance authors to be incredibly open and helpful.

Anything you want to share with readers about yourself, or previous, current or upcoming EC releases?

Sin on Skin, the sixth book in the Cougar Challenge series, released December 9th. Yay! Love Doctor comes out March 19. And I’m currently hard at work on the sequel to Beware of the Cowboy and plotting the next of Keena’s adventures for the sequel to Birthright. Whew… that’s of work to do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oddest Book Title

Go to, and scroll down. About two-thirds of the way down on the left is the voting box for their annual Diagram Prize - oddest book title of the year. This year's contenders:

The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Collectible Spoons of the 3rd Reich
Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes
Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots
What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?
Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter

You want to run out and buy all of them, right? In fact, multiple copies, so you can give them to your friends, 'cause who could resist topics like that.

I voted for the spoons one.

You can find a list of previous winners on Widipedia. My favorites? 1995's Reusing Old Graves and 1979's The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution. And to think I chose to work in publishing, when there was such an interesting alternative career path.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Couldn't Have Said It Better

Some great articles and blogs for you to check out. No point in me writing about this, when these people have already said it so well.

Keeping up with what's going on in the publishing industry, and other things every writer should know.

Verso Advertising 2009 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior
(you need to page through the slide show)

Macmillan CEO John Sargent on the agency model, availability and price
(How should ebooks be priced, who controls the pricing, should ebooks be released at the same time as the hardcover?)

How Many Kindles Have Really Been Sold?
by Michael Mace, posted 2/25/10, Digital Book World
(statistics about ebook usage)

Learning from Ellora's Cave
by Tim Brandhorst, Deputy Director, Book Publishing, American Bar Association, 2/16/10, Digital Book World
(about the e-publishing business model)

In defense of romance: Proving the stereotypes wrong
by Katherine Orazem, The Yale Herald, 2/121/10

Common Misconceptions About Publishing
Charlie's Diary, the blog of author Charles Stross
(3 parts. "Publishing is a recondite, bizarre, and downright strange industry which is utterly unlike anything a rational person would design to achieve the same purpose")

Do You Really Need an Editor at a Publishing House?
by Carole Baron, editor, Knopf, 2/25/10, The Huffington Post
(all the things an editor does, that you may not realize)

New and Updated Publishing Dictionary
by Jessica Faust, Bookends LLC-A Literary Agency
(She provides brief but clear explanations of many publishing terms. A must for all authors. I love her definition of Fiction: "A story/book based on research and imagination." So true, and so often writers forget the research part. And Revisions: "Revisions can include anything from fixing punctuation to rewriting the entire book. It's a collaborative effort between editor and author.")