Friday, October 29, 2010

Frog Addiction

by Helen Woodall
Hello, my name is Helen and I’m addicted to frogs. But no thank you, I am not looking for a 12-step plan to overcome my addiction. I love my froggies, all 200+ of them.

Do I hear you asking why? Just look at the smile on the green tree frog’s face. How can that not make you smile too?

And although green is my favorite color—green for frog!—whatever your color scheme or favorite color, they match!
But apart from the sheer cuteness and lovability factor, frogs are a vital part of our ecosystems. They are bioindicators. Because of their permeable skin, once frogs get sick it means the environment is sick. Toxic substances have entered their skin and will harm humans too. As well as that, they keep our lakes and rivers clean by eating algae, they eat insects that are harmful to humans, such as malarial mosquitoes and flies that carry germs. Really, they are all-round good guys and if your frog population starts to die off, it’s time to start panicking.

Fun facts: The smallest frog is the critically endangered Cuban frog Eleutherodactylus iberia. These frogs measure only 10 mm (0.4 in) when fully grown. The biggest frog is the Goliath Frog Conraua goliath, which lives in western Africa. They can grow to be over 30 cm (1 ft) long, and weigh over 3 kg (6.6 lbs). This species is also endangered.

You can see some Australian frogs here:

And to help save frogs throughout the world go to:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some Like It Hot Writing Contest

Author Tawny Taylor is running a writing contest:

Starting October 25th, 2010, I will be hosting a writing contest!
The final judge is an editor from Ellora’s Cave.

All SubGenres of erotic romance accepted.

This contest is open to both unpublished and published authors of erotic romance fiction. All entries shall be the author's original work and not contracted for publication prior to the entry deadline. (Authors currently published with Ellora's Cave are not eligible to enter.)

How the contest works:
* You may submit one chapter--not to exceed 5000 words. Stories must be complete. (A one-page synopsis may be included.)

* Each Monday, two stories will be selected by Ellora's Cave editor Grace Bradley. At the end, six weekly winning authors will submit a partial (first three chapters, last chapter and synopsis) to the final judge for ranking.

The first place winner will receive ...
A critique of the full winning manuscript by EC editor Grace Bradley!

The second place winner will receive...A critique of the partial manuscript by EC editor Grace Bradley (first three chapters, last and synop).

The third place winner will receive...
A critique of the first chapter by EC editor Grace Bradley.

Additional Prizes:
One entry will be selected each week by random drawing to received a detailed critique by an author published with Ellora's Cave.


* Starting Date: October 25th 2010. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm November 12, 2010.

* Three rounds
Submissions received between 12:00 am October 25th and 11:59 pm October 29th will be considered for round one. Submissions received between 12:00am Oct. 30 and 11:59 pm November 5th will be considered for round two. And submissions received between 12:00am November 6th and 11:59 November 12th will be considered for round three.

* Weekly Finalists Announced on November 1, 2010, November 8, 2010 and November 15, 2010.

* NO Entry Fee or purchase necessary to win.

* Send entries to Include genre, word count, and your name and contact information. A one-page synopsis may be included.

Before entering, please see all the details at:
For any questions, email Tawny (

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stop, You're Killing Me!

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Are you a mystery fan or fanatic? Then you must check out this website!
Stop, You're Killing Me! : A website to die for...if you love mysteries.

They list 38,000 titles, 3400 authors, all the major mystery book awards. You can look up books by time period or by location. Amazingly, even by character name or by the job of the main characters in series books! You're into gardening and want to read mysteries involving an herbalist? Want stories set in Australia? In the Baroque period? You know the books were about a PI named Haggerty? Look it up here! There's even a Diversity Index - find stories about seniors or gypsies.

There are also book reviews, "if you like xxx, then you may like yyy" recommendations, and a newsletter to notify you of new mysteries being published. Alas, it looks like they do not include digital-only books.

Wow, how much effort and research does it take to maintain all this?! I am in total awe. Please, could someone do this for other genres?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Killer Coworkers

By Meghan Conrad

If you've ever been to the EC offices, you're aware of the fact that until very recently, we shared our space with Manaconda, a massive twenty-two-foot reticulated python. She finally outgrew her enormous, custom-built cage here and was ultimately rehomed to someone who had more room than we did.

I have to admit that I was a little afraid of Manaconda. Not because I have any particular aversion to snakes, but because we're talking about a twenty-two-foot-long snake who was as big around as my thigh. And I don't have particularly small thighs. Sure, it's unlikely that anything bad would happen, but you know how it is--the snake gets out just once, and you spend the next four years worried that it's going to happen again, and this time she's going to get you. I mean, you guys have seen Anaconda, right?

So when I heard that we were adopting a new snake, I was a little nervous. That picture up there is Ellora. She's a four-foot-long red tail boa, and is expected to grow to between twelve and fourteen feet and weigh about sixty pounds. She lives in a cage we refer to as Ellora's Cage and generously allows our building manager/IT guy to share her office with her.

Ellora loves Randy, actually. Randy's quite fond of her as well, and as we were discussing her this morning, he mentioned that she is--and I quote--"the friendliest snake that has the power to kill you."

I feel better already.

Monday, October 18, 2010


by Raelene Gorlinsky

Whenever I mention that EC is looking for steampunk romance submissions (really great ones, please), the question of "What is Steampunk?" comes up.

Steampunk has been around in science fiction for quite a while, and has moved into the romance genre more recently. So a lot of romance authors are still wondering what differentiates this subgenre from others.

It's more than just dirigibles and goggles and clockwork monsters.

My definition: Steampunk is a story set in an historical era (Victorian is most common, but it could be almost any time) that incorporates advanced technology based on the science of that time. Strong, detailed and consistent worldbuilding is critical. (And of course steampunk romance is a story with that worldbuilding, but where the focus is the development of a committed romantic relationship.)

The 1999 movie Wild, Wild West is a good example of steampunk. Steam-based advanced technology set in the latter half of 19th century in the western (frontier) U.S.

Some definitions from others:

From Meljean Brook:
"Steampunk is essentially historical science fiction. The advanced technology is usually steam-based (steam engines and locomotives, for example) and can be combined with various forms of Victorian-era technology and science: airships and clockwork-powered automatons are common. The machines can be small, like singing mechanical birds, or include giant robots."
From a blog article by Heather Massey, reviewer and blogger:
"Steampunk as a literary genre gained notice starting in the 1980s. A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy, it developed as a rebellious response to the science fiction that preceded it. Core elements of steampunk include:
~ Steam power
~ Alternate history settings (mostly Victorian/Edwardian era England)
~ SF/Fantasy elements
~ Devices that reflect the period but are ahead of their time (e.g., difference engines, airships, etc.)"
And there's always Wikipedia:

Steampunk can also incorporate elements such as paranormal or futuristic.

Steamed by Katie MacAlister uses time travel.

Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless) is steampunk romance with paranormal. It's set in Victorian England, does indeed have machinery, steam-powered things, dirigibles--plus werewolves, vampires and ghosts.

"Cherry Tart" by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks in EC's Flavors of Ecstasy III anthology has Victorian society colonizing other planets using steam-powered space ships.

Nathalie Gray's Mechanical Rose is mild erotic romance.

So you can combine your favorite romance genre elements with steampunk for something original. Just be sure you plan well and get the worldbuilding complete and coherent. And then send EC your submission!

I'm about to start MelJean Brook's The Iron Duke, having read the related novella in the Burning Up anthology. What steampunk romances have you read and would recommend?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: Punctuation Celebration

review by Meghan Conrad

Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno is a book aimed at kindergartners though second graders, and it's all about--who guessed already?--punctuation.

Which, I realize, sounds fairly dull, especially for those of us who have children who are maybe not as enthusiastic about reading as we'd like them to be. (Isn't that every parent?) And it's probably true that if your kid won't read a book about monsters or fairies or talking trucks or crime-fighting ducklings or whatever it is that kids these days read books about, you're going to have a hard sell getting them to read a book about punctuation.

For those of us who are lucky enough to have children who will at least deign to look at books that we present to them, though, Punctuation Celebration is a series of cute, breezy poems that give kids a basic overview of the primary forms of punctuation: periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, colons, semicolons, parentheses, ellipses, dashes and hyphens.

The information sticks to the basics--a comma, for example, "does not say 'Stop.' It simply says 'Slow.'" Given the number of adults who struggle with sometimes-complex punctuation rules, I thought the author did a good job in covering the primary uses of each mark without getting bogged down in possible nuances of their use.

The poems range from five to fifteen lines, and each poem talks about what the mark does and offers an example or two. Each page is illustrated with colorful artwork depicting the example from the poem.

My only complaint about the book, and it's a minor one, is that the rhyme scheme sometimes gives rise to a slightly tortured rhyme or reference that's a bit too mature for the target age group. The poem for exclamation marks says that exclamation marks have clout and make you want to shout, and I can honestly say that I'd never before thought of an exclamation mark having clout, nor can I imagine a bunch of first-graders thinking that it did. Similarly, in the poem on quotation marks, the author uses "fourscore and seven years ago" as an example--what the heck kind of seven-year-old knows what fourscore means?

Overall, though, Punctuation Celebration is a charming little book, and one that's worth buying for any budding grammarian.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ebook Sales Still Soaring

From Publishers Weekly

E-book Sales Jump 172% in August

While sales in the print trade segments shrank in August, e-book sales had another strong month, jumping 172.4%, to $39 million, according to the 14 publishers that report sales to the AAP’s monthly sales estimates. For the year-to-date, e-book sales were up 192.9%, to $263 million. AAP said that of the approximately 19 publishers that report trade sales, revenue in the January to August period was $2.91 billion, making the $263 million e-book sales 9.0% of trade sales. At the end of 2009, e-book sales comprised 3.3% of trade sales. The mass market segment, where sales were down 14.3% in the first eight months of 2009, represented 15.1% of trade sales through August

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Twitter's Where it's @

By Kelli "@EditMeThis" Collins

Here at EC, we heartily support excessive author pimpage. Gotta sell those books, after all. Authors have bills to pay, mouths to feed, sex toys research materials to buy. And of course, it’s a genuine delight to pimp our authors when they rock harder than a porch full of assisted-living residents. Though really, EC authors promote themselves and each other better than we ever could. They’re everywhere. Websites, MySpace, Facebook, the blogosphere, at conferences and conventions, etc.

For fans who can’t afford conferences, have gotten in trouble for reading blogs at work and are just too darn sophisticated for Facebook, try Twitter. Tons of your fave EC authors are tweeting away daily, sharing everything from upcoming release dates to writing angst to short stories told in 140-character increments. You just sign up and lurk, pretty much. No communication required (though if you’re inclined, you’ll find most authors more than willing to tweet with fans).

The following is not a full list of EC authors; likely not even a full list of EC authors represented on Twitter. But it’s a hella great start. Don’t forget to follow @ellorascave for the latest releases, calls for submissions, etc. (And authors, if you don’t see your @name, comment so we can follow you!)

AuthorJuniper (Juniper Bell)
caismith (1/2 of Marilu Mann)
CCRomance (Catherine Chernow)
hahiestand (Heather Hiestand)
heatherpens (Heather Howard)
K8JohnsonAuthor (Cat Marsters)
McKennaErotica (Pam McKenna)
mystikwriter (Heather Holland)
O_Waite (Olivia Waite)
Pararomance (Renee Field)
scarscoromance (Scarlett Scott)
skaneauthor (Sam Kane)
TarotByArwen (1/2 of Marilu Mann)
TracyCP (Tracy Cooper-Posey)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We're busy at RomantiCon!

This Thursday through Sunday is the second annual RomantiCon, the convention for Ellora's Cave readers and authors. This year is extra special, as it is the company's tenth anniversary. Yes, ten years of reading Ellora's Cave books!

So, anyway, we're all at the convention and super busy. We will resume blog posts next Wednesday or Friday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Books Are Tonight?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Where are your books, and how are they being sold? You do find that out when considering a publisher or publishing contract, right? As in, what formats will they be available in, what webstores will offer them for sale, and in what parts of the world will they be available or not available?

After all, you want to sell as many copies as possible, which means being sure that readers can find and purchase your books with relative ease. So you need to understand things like territorial rights, distribution, online vendors, ebook formats, and DRM.

Here's an example of the WRONG way for a publisher to sell your books. Both these readers were trying to get the same ebook. It is a novella by a very popular author, available only in digital format, not print. (NOT an EC book.)

Reader #1 contacted EC in desperation. She knew we didn't publish the book, but she is a happy customer of EC and knew our service is excellent and helpful. She'd tried emailing the publisher and the ebook vendors selling the book, and gotten no assistance. Please, could we help her understand?

She is located outside the U.S., and when she tried to purchase the ebook from vendor sites, received messages that it was not available in her country. Huh? It's an ebook, she said, she just wants to download it, how can it be not available? So I explained "territorial rights" to her, that publishers contract for the right to sell the book either worldwide or in specific regions. In this case, apparently the publisher has only North American or U.S. or some other limited territorial rights. They cannot legally sell the book outside the specific region(s). The e-vendor systems check your location when you click to buy and cannot allow a sale outside the territory. [BTW, EC always contracts worldwide rights.] Oh, and because the ebook was DRMed, it was not possible for her to get a US friend to buy the ebook and email the file to her--the DRM makes that impossible.

Reader #2 was also desperate for the same ebook. She searched, and found it was only available on a few e-vendor sites, and in only three digital formats. None were the format she needed, and all were DRM-protected. Which meant she could not print it to read it, could not convert it to another format, could not move it from her PC to any other device. In other words, the digital formats available were useless to her.

I think you can guess what is unfortunately the readers' easiest or only solution for both these problems -- pirate sites. NOT what an author or publisher wants to happen, but the only way readers can get the book in these conditions.

Luckily, these were both honest and ethical people. Yes, they might be driven to downloading from a pirate site, but neither wanted to cheat the author out of her income from the book, did not want to "steal" it. Reader #1 swore she was mailing a check directly to the author. Reader #2 went back to a vendor site and purchased the ebook; she didn't bother downloading the to-her-unusable format, but her action assured that the publisher and author would receive payment for one purchased copy.

So if you as an author want to maximize your sales potential and decrease pirating, you need to pay attention to where and how your books are being sold. Make sure your readers can buy them!

(BTW, there is a slightly happier ending for anyone in Reader#2's position. This ebook is now offered at more e-vendors and in additional formats, including ePub, although it is still DRM-ed.)