Thursday, December 29, 2011

Publishing Predictions for 2012

Digital Book World has published a list of ten predictions for change in the publishing industry for 2012. None of them are surprising.

1. We will see more self-published best-sellers next year with an exponential rise in the number of million-selling authors.

2. Large publishing companies will go through major restructurings, creating new positions and redundancies of all shapes and sizes.

3. Amazon will come out with a larger tablet with an 8.9-inch screen and it will be priced at $299 or lower.

4. Apple will come out with a smaller iPad at a reduced price.

5. Sony will get a second life in the e-reader game when Pottermore launches in the Spring.

6. Literary agencies will engage in a campaign to communicate the value of their services to the book industry.

7. Authors will become disenchanted with the rights they sign away to publishers. Shorter and more flexible copyright terms will become more attractive to authors.

8. The standard e-book royalty from major publishing houses will rise next year and will escalate with increased sales.

9. Standards of what an app and what a book is will change and apps will eventually be sold in the iBookstore.

10. More publishing companies will form in-house transmedia groups.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Christmas, Editorial Version

The 12 Days of Christmas—for word nerds and grammar geeks

For example:
The Ghost of Christmas Future Perfect Passive: "Ebenezer! You will have been disappointed with your life."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rap to Writing

A rap video about The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, from students at Columbia Journalism School!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winner: Bad Sex in Fiction Award

An over-reliance on coy terms such as "family jewels", "back door" and "front parlour" has won acclaimed American novelist David Guterson the dubious accolade of the Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award.

Guterson, who took the literary world by storm in 1994 with his bestselling debut Snow Falling on Cedars, snaffled the bad sex prize for his fifth novel, Ed King, a modern reimagining of the Oedipus myth. His win was announced in the apt setting of the In & Out Club in London by Carry On star Barbara Windsor; although the American writer was unable to accept his award of a plaster foot in person, he took his triumph in good spirits, saying in response that "Oedipus practically invented bad sex, so I'm not in the least bit surprised".

Guterson edged out strong competition from Haruki Murakami's long-awaited new novel 1Q84, which sees the Japanese writer pen the immortal line: "A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very much alike, Tengo thought".

Monday, November 28, 2011

When Grammar Elements Go Out Drinking

I love this! Maybe this will help you understand when your editor marks "comma splice" or "passive". Dangling modifiers are a particular pet peeve of mine.


Jenny sent this along from a FaceBook post by Jeff Blackmer--

A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.
A question mark walks into a bar?
Two quotation marks "walk into" a bar.
A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to drink.
The bar was walked into by the passive voice.
Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Interesting News & Links

Author Anne McCaffrey died Monday, Nov. 21. She was 85. She was a prolific writer of over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels, with well-known series Pern, Crystal Singer, Freedom, Doona, Tower&Hive, and many others. She won the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Robert A. Heinlein award, was a SFWA Grand Master, and was a NY Times bestseller.

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Nora Roberts: The woman who rewrote the rules of romantic fiction
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Amazon Reader Reviews: 12 Things Everybody and His Grandmother Needs to Know
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From the Shelf Awareness e-newsletter (10/12/11), reporting on the Publishers Launch conference:

The digital shift is happening faster than predicted, David Naggar, v-p, global Kindle content acquisition for Amazon, said. Digital now represents 20% of U.S. publishers' sales in dollars, and Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than print books in both the U.S. and U.K. "The transition is happening quickly and accelerating."

Readers who have been Amazon customers for at least a year buy three times as many print and digital books after they purchase a Kindle, David Naggar said.

Nook owners also "consume three times the content than before," Hilt [B&N's v-p of e-books] said, usually "a combination of digital and print." "If they were buying print, they still buy print books and use the Nook to enhance their library. We've learned that the print book isn't dead." In addition, new owners of the Nook buy "a tremendous amount of content for three to six months and then move into a more natural state of usage."

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Bad Sex Awards shortlist:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry
The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey
Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas
11.22.63 by Stephen King
Ed King by David Guterson
The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M Auel
The Affair by Lee Child
Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas
Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller
Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
The Great Night by Chris Adrian

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survey of Romance ebook readers - Please participate

From AllRomance eBooks:
We'd like to ask that you take a brief, 3-minute survey, and that you assist us in getting the word out to other digital romance readers.


All Romance will be leading a session this January in New York at Digital Book World about Romance ePublishing. During the presentation we'll be sharing the results of a survey we're currently conducting. [Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora’s Cave will be participating in the presentation.]

For those interested, a brief summary of the presentation for DBW is below.

Lori James
COO, All Romance eBooks, LLC
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Ladies First: Lessons from the Romance Ebook Model

Romance books went digital faster and more readily than any other genre in publishing. Fledgling ebook-only publishers have thrived. Ellora's Cave, now a decade old, started doing erotic romance ebooks when the big players wouldn't touch it. Harlequin's ebook-only imprint, Carina, even publishes DRM-free! And the larger publishers all have robust romance offerings that add important dollars to their sales ledger, even though they are often outsold by scrappy competitors that people outside the romance business have never heard of.

Why did romance ebooks take off so quickly, and so successfully?

At Digital Book World 2012, we'll take a close look at the romance publishing business to find out what it can teach us about selling ebooks in other genres and to other audiences. Original data developed from surveying the customers of, along with an examination of the players in the romance community, will provide the background for a discussion among publishers and retailers of how romance publishing practices differ from what is done in general trade. We'll tease out lessons we can apply to other genres as they work on catching up with the ebook uptake romance has pioneered.

Monday, November 21, 2011

USA Today - Happy Ever After romance novel blog

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Ellora’s Cave has received much-appreciated attention and support from Joyce Lamb’s HEA blog on the USA Today site.  Please do check out the blog and the many book reviews, and leave comments if you are so inclined. I hope the USA Today organization sees that a blog about romance novels is appreciated and popular, and gives the genre the respect and attention it deserves.

About the blog:

Desiree Holt’s story “Bedroom Eyes” was reviewed on Oct. 16:

Desiree was interviewed on Oct. 22:

Yesterday Joyce posted my remarks from a discussion she and I had about a couple of recent EC books. Her reviewers can’t fit in so many EC books, but Joyce said she enjoyed my comments and she’d like to use them as a way to recommend the books to readers:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet the Editor: Ann Leveille

What is your background and experience in editing?

I’ve been working at Ellora’s Cave since late 2004 – about seven years now. In that time I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of editing all sorts of books, including some for the now-defunct Cerridwen and Lotus Circle imprints. Before becoming an Ellora’s Cave editor, I was a reviewer for a time – I reviewed romance novels, erotic novels, erotic romance novels, and a bunch of stuff in between. I studied English in college without a clear goal besides wanting to do something with publishing, and hoping I could find a place for myself in the romance publishing world, as romance has been my favorite genre for a long, long time. I’m so, so happy I ended up at Ellora’s Cave!

How would you describe your editing style?

I’m nit-picky sometimes, aiming to make sure that every sentence is clear and every phrase is logical and consistent. I’ve been working hard at letting my authors know when I particularly enjoy a phrase or twist or aspect of their story, but I do have a tendency to get so deeply into an edit that it is hard to remember to put in those comments that I know authors need to hear.

Overall, though, I do think of editing as a partnership. I will always work with my authors to make sure that they’re satisfied with any changes and understand why a change should – or has to – be made. I do expect my authors to let me know if they’re uncomfortable with anything, and I’m always open to talking about any concern my authors have. I can’t promise that I can fix everything, but no author’s concerns should go ignored or unaddressed!

What is your favorite thing about editing?

Working with my authors to polish a story ‘til it shines! I know that authors work so hard to put together compelling stories, and I’m happy that I can help make sure that those stories put their best feet forward when they go out to meet the readers!

Of course, that whole “getting to read books I love and get paid for it” aspect isn’t exactly negligible!

What are your pet peeves in books or submissions?

A clear lack of knowledge regarding punctuation can irritate me. While an author’s characterization, world building, etc., are really a matter of practice and skill, punctuation is something that any writer can learn. And I’m not talking about the occasional hiccup or confusion about some specific rule, I mean authors who clearly don’t know - and haven’t bothered to find out - how to properly punctuate a common sentence before submitting their story.

In published novels that have undergone a full editing process? I’m always aware that a few errors in punctuation, grammar, etc., can squeak through, so that sort of thing won’t make a book a wall-banger for me, but if the book has logical/consistency errors, well, all bets are off. (Okay, I’ll probably finish reading it, but I’ll gripe all the way through…)

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?

Of course I love romance and will happily read any subgenre of it, but I also really enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy (especially if there’s a romantic subplot in there!). However, I’m pretty much open to any genre. For the time that I lived in a very French-centric suburb of Montreal, I was reading whatever the local library had in English. (And then trying some young adult novels in French, too!)

My favorite books include:

Trust Me – Jayne Ann Krentz
Absolutely, Positively – Jayne Ann Krentz
Scout’s Progress – Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Conflict of Honors – Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley
Bet Me – Jennifer Crusie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet the Editor: Briana St. James

Meet Bree, one of our longest-term editors.

What is your background and experience in editing?

I’ve spent much of my adult life in some facet of the book industry, as a bookseller, store manager, and purchaser. I first started out in this side of industry in the late 1990s, when I was running a book review website. An editor approached me, and I learned there was an opening for an acquisitions editor. I had several years of acquiring manuscripts and editing while also reviewing. I came to EC in 2002 as a proofreader, and began editing full-time in early 2003.

How would you describe your editing style?

Interactive. There are some authors who like brainstorming, and I quite enjoy that process. It is a real treat to see a story come to life from the germ of an idea an author has shared with me.
My philosophy is that the editor/author relationship is one of teamwork, and that we’re all united to get an author’s best work out there. Sometimes edits are very tough and other times they are a much easier process. It can vary on a book-by-book basis.
While I am concerned with grammar, my first concern is how the story reads. Are the characters memorable? Do they act within the character parameters the author has set for them? How is the pacing? Do the romantic scenes sizzle or are they more gratuitous?  Grammar comes second to me in this process, though obviously grammar and readability are equal partners in the creation and editing of a winning book.

What is your favorite thing about editing?

The authors, without a doubt. It is nothing short of a sheer pleasure to walk into a bookstore and see my authors’ works on shelves. The author has put so much trust in the editor, but it goes both ways. I hope my authors have learned a lot from me, but I have learned just as much—if not more—from working with them.
On a more practical level, I love the exposure I get to different books and writing styles. I love that this is a constant learning process. No chance for stagnation here.

What are your pet peeves in books and submissions?

If an author has not adequately researched the company and studied what EC is about and our philosophies, the author may not submit a book that suits or audience. There are some submissions that are either far too long or short, are neither romance or erotic (depending on the line targeted), or just don’t meet EC’s philosophies. It is very unlikely that an unsuitable book will be signed, and takes away from both the author’s time and submitting process and mine.

The most important piece of advice is to be a good submitter and know your market. The second is to send the cleanest, most professional manuscript possible. This is the editor’s first look at your work. Dress it up with a pretty bow!

I also sometimes have trouble with historical submissions that use words or phrases that the characters would have no way of knowing. “Rev your engines” in a Regency will never work, and the Romans didn’t have Pampers or Band-Aids.

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?

Gosh, I read almost everything! I have a particular fondness for old Hollywood biographies, biographies of musicians, alternate history novels and political thrillers. Make what you may of that! My all-time favorite books list changes almost by the day, but books that are being read and reread include.

The Stand by Stephen King
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Pieces of My Heart by Robert Wagner
Robert Ludlum’s early works
Clapton! by Ray Coleman
Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove

Friday, November 11, 2011

Name Fame

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Authors keep hearing about "branding", about publicizing themselves, about engaging with readers to make their name known. Why? Because readers buy the books of authors they know, far more than they try books by authors they don't recognize. This has become even more critical with the explosion of ebooks and of self-publishing. There are so many more books to choose from now, and unfortunately some of them are not up to par. Therefore, many readers are even more inclined to stick with authors they already know or that are recommended to them by people they trust.

Several surveys have shown that one of the most critical elements a reader uses in electing to buy a book is author name recognition.

From 2010-2011 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review (Bowker): The author "is the key factor in both driving consumers to buy a book as well as making consumers aware of a particular book."

From the RWA's 2010 ROMstat Report, quoted in the November 2011 RWR: "50 percent of romance buyers stated the author was the reason for the book purchase."
From a survey of over 9000 people by the American Booksellers Association, 2009/2010, on how people choose books to buy:
1. Author reputation 52%
2. Personal recommendation 49%

Reported in Publishers Weekly in February 2007, a survey by the advertising firm Spier NY on American book-buying habits:
1. Friend’s recommendation 49%
2. Familiarity with author 45%

Any bookstore employee can tell you that it's quite common for a customer to ask for "the new book by...". The customer doesn't know the book title, may not know anything about the story, but they love this author and buy every new release, based solely on the author's name.

How about an illustration of this? An author in my local RWA chapter told us about an experiment she conducted. She's a well-established author, a New York Times bestseller, has a backlist of about three dozen books. She's not into self- or digital publishing, preferring the traditional print path, although her books now are of course also released in digital by her NY publishers. But she decided to try self-publishing to see how it works. She released a new story under her established pen name. She then released a book under a brand new pen name, with no connection to her other, well-known name. The first ebook sold 4000 in the first month; the second sold 8 copies. I'm sure her "voice" and style were the same in both stories. Readers found and bought the first one because they were looking for books by her and knew they'd like what they bought. Almost no one took a chance on an unknown name in the massive sea of unknown new authors available in digital. Name recognition at work.

So build your name as a "brand" people will recognize--website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, attendance at reader conventions. Establish a persona readers will like and identify with, and get out there and interact!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet the Editor: Grace Bradley

Want to know more about the life of an editor? We're reviving our popular "Meet the Editor" topic, and introducing you to more EC editors. Today, Grace Bradley interviews herself.

What is your background and experience in editing?

I have been an editor at Ellora’s Cave for two years. Prior to that I was doing the stay-at-home-mom thing and enjoying freelance editing on the side. I hold a degree in psychology, which I utilize on a daily basis. Plausible character motivation? Check. Walking author back from the ledge? Check.

How would you describe your editing style?

I try to make the editing process as painless as possible, while also urging my authors to delve deeper into their plot and characters. I leave a running commentary of my observations as a reader, not only as an editor, as I go through the book. My goal is for the author to see how their work is impacting me as a reader as I go along. I also explain grammar errors, and expect my authors to make note of them and improve moving forward. Whenever possible, I like to incorporate humor in my editing comments. I think edits should be fun, not dreaded. And I point out things I really like or that make me laugh (or cry). A little bit of praise goes a long way when an author is being shown all the things that are not working in their book.

What is your favorite thing about editing?

My authors. It is truly an honor to play such a vital role in their careers, and I’m humbled that they trust me with something so important to them.

As for the job itself, I’ll say what most editors will say: I can’t believe I get paid to read. A recent discussion at the dinner table revolved around careers—specifically what my children wanted to be when they grow up. They both said they wanted to get paid to do something they love…just like their mom. It was a very proud moment for me.

What are your pet peeves in books and submissions?

My number-one pet peeve from the slush pile is a messy manuscript. If the author does not care enough to present their best work, I will assume what they have submitted is their best work and it will be a No. If they’re sloppy at this stage, the most important one in the process, how will they be if the book is contracted?

For established authors, my pet peeve is not learning from past mistakes and not following established guidelines. I respect my authors’ time by working as hard as I can to get their projects complete in a timely manner, and I expect them to respect my time by improving as they move forward and observing the correct submission/editing procedures.

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?

When I’m not reading for work, I choose non-fiction, primarily health-related, and magazines. A very short list of some of the books that have “stuck” with me is:

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
Native Son by Richard Wright
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
Love Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark

Monday, November 7, 2011


By Kelli Collins, editor-in-chief

Hello authors, aspiring authors, readers and people who just plain luuurve EC! We're currently mulling through a list of potential themed series ideas for 2012 (quickly, before the world ends), and we wanted to give our beloved authors and loyal readers a chance to weigh in.

The themed series, if you're unfamiliar, are two to four series we do every year, each featuring stories written for a specific theme. For instance, in 2011 we published Ahoy!, featuring books about pirates (any type of pirates authors could dream up, not just those of the historical variety). We recently began releasing books in our Sex Bytes themed series, and stories in the Love Letters series will be coming your way in Jan./Feb.

We were lucky enough to get tons of ideas at our RomantiCon conference last month (thank you authors and editors!), which we've listed below. Some have been done elsewhere (which doesn't mean we won't consider them), some might need to be more focused, but a great start to the list nonetheless.

So how about it? What do YOU want to read or write? Comment with your own brilliant suggestions, or just comment with your favorites from the choices below, or even comment on the other comments. It's a free-for-all! We'll announce the 2012 series in just a couple of weeks!

Themed Series Brainstormapalooza 2012
Men in Chainmail
Speed Sports/Xtreme Sports
MILF/DILF (mothers I'd like to fuck/dads I'd like to fuck [other people's parents! no incest)
Men in Kilts
1-800-HOT-MD4U (doctors/nurses)
House Calls
Special Delivery
Five/Six Senses
Married Couples
Female Cops
Inked (tattooed lovers)
Power Tools
Renn Faire
Smoking Gun
Blue Collar (male and female)
Exotica Locales
Fugitives and Outlaws
Angels and Demons
Bounty Hunters
1920s (or other decades)
WWI and II

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Feel the Love

by Grace Bradley, editor

I have many conferences under my belt, and have been fortunate enough to attend RomantiCon the past two years. As with any conference, I came away with new friendships, insight and information. But what I believe sets RomantiCon apart from other industry events is the overall vibe of the conference. Attendees love Ellora’s Cave, and rightfully so. What other publishing house holds an entire conference just to honor and recognize its authors, readers and staff? And at both conferences I was blown away by the effort that went into making everyone feel special.
What is clear to me? The love goes both ways. Ellora’s Cave loves its authors, readers and staff. And they show it. In my opinion, this event is the perfect mix of entertainment, education and networking. I am honored to be part of such a wonderful company, and seeing all the smiling faces at RomantiCon, I know that feeling is shared among many. If you’ve yet to attend an Ellora’s Cave conference, you must remedy that situation as soon as possible. I hope to see you all at RomantiCon 2012.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

RomantiCon© Awesome Awards

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Every year at the RomantiCon© Saturday night banquet, we announce awards to our authors. It's a highlight of the night for many attendees. We give trophies to our Rising Stars--any author in attendance who had their first book with EC in the past year. We then do the Superstar awards--we have a few  serious awards, but most are just great fun. You'll have to read the stories to find out about the award titles!

The Pillar - for strong public support of Ellora's Cave - Lynn Connolly

Centennial - Desiree Holt, for 100 books published (we’re honored the hundredth was published with EC)

Trendsetter - Jaid Black, for launching the erotic romance genre, and other brilliant ideas since then.

No Fear of Commitment - Laurann Dohner

Best Double Down Ever - Make Mine a Double by Nicole Austin

Best Reason to Get Stranded in the Gulf - Landlocked by Cindy Jacks

Death by Dildo - Hot, Hard and Howling by Mari Freeman

Felines Through History - Panthera series by Frances Stockton

Friends to Lovers - Bet Me by Katie Blu

Howling Horror - Howling Sacrifices by J.K. Coi

Interstellar BDSM - Christine d’Abo for her futuristics

Kinky Choreography - Passion’s Claim by Cara Carnes (ménage a cinq sex scenes that don’t end up looking like a bad game of Twister)

Makes Us Want to Be a Sex Worker - Red Light series by Jayne Rylon

Men We’d Most Like to Go Into Space With - Bounty series by Christine d’Abo

Menages, the More the Merrier - Brothers in Arms series by Samantha Kane

Most Creative Use of Christmas Ingredients - Ginger Snap by Shoshanna Evers

Most Interesting Use of Camera Metaphors - Waiting So Long by Kaenar Langford

Most Wicked of All Lovers - Wicked Affairs series by Eliza Lloyd

Not-So-Little Blue Men - Mystic Valley series by Anny Cook

Randy Reunion - Point Blank by Kaily Hart

Semper Fidelis - Faithful to a Fault by KJ Reed (taking hot Marines to the extreme)

Sexiest Use for a Pool Cue - Inflamed by Mari Carr

Spicy Rose - Punishing Rose by Kathleen Lash

Super-Sexy Shifters - His Purrfect Mate by Laurann Dohner

Tackle That Quarterback - Necessary Roughness series by Ann Jacobs

Unassuming Alpha - Appearing Nightly by Cat Grant (for a hero in heels as a hot drag queen)

Villain Who Should Have Been a Hero - Ian, from Skin Game by Cara McKenna

Voodoo Zombie Lover - Dead Sexy by Paige Tyler

Now That’s a Dungeon! - For the real dungeon in the Irish castle in Emerald Dungeon by Kathy Kulig

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Steampunk: Really Gaining Steam

by Ann Leveille, editor

The steampunk panel was one I’d really wanted to check out since I saw it listed on the RomantiCon© schedule. I wanted to know what EC authors and readers had to say about the steampunk phenomenon and how it related to Romantica© in particular. The Steampunk’d panel was presented by authors Christine d’Abo and Delphine Dryden.
They opened with a quote I’d heard before, "Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown", and presented a few generalities for those who didn’t know a lot about the genre, starting with the fact that, for a real steampunk story, the world building and backstory are just as important as the actual steampunky stuff.

Themes of steampunk were covered: navigation, time and mortality, clockwork, natural history and transportation. The presenting authors commented that a lot of steampunk themes grow from a combination of Victorian fascinations (death, nature and the mechanization of nature, armchair traveling) and the boundary-pushing tendencies of modern geeks and nerds, especially in the technological and mechanical aspects. The summary of it was that steampunk – well, historical steampunk – is “helping to solve the important issues of the day [ie., issues of the Victorian era in which is story is set], geek-style”. They also shared that a lot of class/cultural tension is played out in steampunk and mentioned the concept of “living symbols”, with examples such as needle-fingered seamstresses and jackhammer-legged construction workers. (This brings up questions of what is humanity, how far people will go to get ahead or even just to survive, etc.)

I loved the comment/question: Some great technology has been left by the wayside – what if it hadn’t been?

Delphine Dryden put a lot of importance on the fact that the author really can’t just make stuff up. Authors of steampunk have to have a firm grasp on politics, history and technology. (The presenting authors advised that aspiring steampunk authors find themselves a nerd/geek to help them with groundwork.)

Christine d’Abo, however, was quick to caution authors not to be scared, steampunk can be faked. (The idea of “aether” is apparently very useful when you run into issues with power sources.) She'll write a first draft and then tweak it until it works for her.

Then they got to the sexy stuff…

Steampunk, as we all know, is really neat when you throw sex into the mix. Our panel authors stripped the ideas down and showed attendees why, though – why the sex and steampunk work on visceral levels, and why it works as thought-provoking fiction and, of course, as just plain entertainment.

It was clear that real steampunk cannot just feature a decorative clockwork motif or just mention the occasional sexy gadget or toy. You have to actually use steampunk organically, make it an inherent and inseparable part of your story. The authors used some fabulous examples of how steampunk can enhance the relationships and sexuality in romantic erotica, like how “glasses slipping” can be used to show how one character sees a partner differently, or how bio-mech elements can make people view people (interaction and relationships with them, and sex with them) differently.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with fetishizing the steampunk elements either, and some of those gadgets can really get a character’s (and a reader’s!) blood moving!

There was a lot of great information, and I, for one, hope that the presentation got some authors thinking about some great, new, thoroughly sexy storylines that we’ll see heading our way soon! As a question for the blog readers, what do you like to see in your steampunk? And I would like to know, do you like your steampunk to be romance with sexy gadgets and a neat world, or do you really like sexy stories that have those complex worlds to complement the characters and the situations they get themselves into (and sexy gadgets)?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Flavors of Sex: Readers Weigh In

by Ann Leveille, editor

Though I was running a bit late after lunch that first Romanticon© day, I wanted to know what was up with the delicious-sounding 31 Flavors of Sex panel and ventured forth to listen to what authors Desiree Holt, Allie Standifer, Cerise DeLand and Samantha Cayto had to say. And I’m glad I did, because I gleaned some interesting tips from the no-holds-barred discussion that those wildly funny ladies had going.
(Please be warned, I didn’t number my pages of notes, so if you attended the workshop and my order of discussion seems a bit…out of order, well, that’s why.)

Heavenly Hash, in the panel authors’ terminology, is just about any kind of group sex. They emphasized that the complications and difficulties of Heavenly Hash were the dynamics between the participants and the logistical aspects. Many panel attendees said that they preferred some sort of polyamorous relationship in the end to just having the Hash as an aspect of a more traditionally coupled story. (So go, ménage authors!) Desiree Holt confessed that she uses a certain brand of not quite anatomically correct dolls to act out her multi-partner sex scenes. She’s apparently broken off a few legs during her plotting stages.

As part of the discussion the authors asked about the male-female-male ménage. Readers agreed with the panel that the fun of that kind of relationship is that the focus is all on the central female character, the character with whom they most closely relate. However, the attendees were also clear that they liked to have an emotional connection of some sort between the male participants in ménage relationships, even if they weren’t physically interested in each other.

French Vanilla, defined as a male performing oral sex, was referred to as an “art form”. Authors and readers agreed that they didn’t want a male down there who didn’t know what he was doing.

Phish Phood, or sex on the beach, was only briefly touched on. Most agreed that while it sounded really romantic, there are a lot of practical considerations that can ruin the mood. (However, those considerations can be worked around, and attendees had some great ideas how to make the actual deed read as romantic an act as it sounds like it could be!)

I was happy to see that there was time spent on Rocky Road, or BDSM, and that I didn’t miss that discussion. Audience members said that they didn’t necessarily like submissive (doormat-y) heroines but that there was a lot of appeal to the strong woman who wanted someone to take over for a while. Some commented that they were drawn to the idea of BDSM in real life but that the question of who to trust left them preferring their fantasies on the page instead.

The panel agreed the BDSM is a misunderstood flavor in a lot of ways. It’s not just about hitting a person or making them submit or serve. They emphasized that BDSM requires intimacy, trust, emotion and respect between participants. There is, it was emphatically stated, more trust in a BDSM relationship than in any other relationship.

As things wound down, the panel threw out a few questions. One interesting one was if the audience had a preference for circumcised or uncircumcised male parts. While attendees preferred their men cut by a respectable margin, there were some holdouts for the au natural in the group. Panel authors were unsurprised and commented that in the United States readers tended to prefer the former, but international readers weren’t as fazed by the latter, as circumcision isn’t as widespread overseas.

My only regret is that I missed some of the fascinating flavors that these delightful authors came up with. I would have loved to have heard what they had to say about Icing on the Cake (Exhibitionist Sex), Chunky Monkey (Shape shifter sex) and Cappuccino Crunch (Morning sex). Oh and maybe Vanilla Fudge Twirl (Masturbation) and African Vanilla (Interracial sex). And Tutti Frutti (Same-sex sex). Okay, honestly, I’d have loved to have heard them all!

But let me put the questions to our dear Redlines and Deadlines readers: What do you think about the flavors of sex? Is there anything in particular that you’d like to share? What turns you on about fill-in-the-blank flavor when you read it? Inquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art of Exotic Pole Dancing

by Martha Punches & Marie Allison

What do you think of first when the words "pole dancing" are mentioned? Yeah, I’m sure the first thing you thought was stripper dance. Well, think again. To be honest, we thought the very same thing. But to be a good pole dancer takes dedication, agility, practice and strength for this tough and demanding profession. And yes, believe it or not, being a pole dancer is a profession and requires a lot of work.
At Romanticon© 2011, a few of us editors decided to sit in on the Pole Dancing class. No, none of us are planning a career of being a professional at this. It was more out of curiosity. What we expected and what we learned were worlds apart. This class should have been attended by any author who has plans or thinks of including a pole dance in their book.

Because boy, did we learn a lot from this short class. For instance did you know that in some countries, pole dancing is done mainly by men? Also, there are national and international organizations for professional pole dancers, some of them in the Akron/Cleveland area. (Yes, that’s what I said, international as in all over the world.) Not only that, being a pole dancer requires a great deal of body strength not found in the average man or woman. The stamina for doing this dance is tremendous. We watched several attendees try their hands, legs and arms at the pole. From what we saw, just the attempt made our bodies hurt!

First of all, clothing must be kept to a minimum. Hmm, that probably is why many associate the pole dancer with stripping. But in fact, the need for more skin to be visible isn’t for the exotic part. A pole dancer must have a great deal of friction to stick to the pole and do very impressive moves, twists, climbs, and turns. Of course, if you really want to be covered, wear leather, vinyl, or pleather so that you do not slide down to your butt in a second.

Second, the pole cannot be lubed to make those slick moves. Every pole must be as clean as possible. During our demonstration, the dancers wiped down the pole with rubbing alcohol to reduce the amount of skin oil for the next user. Some even use gymnastic rosin to be able to grip the pole tightly. Slick moves are done with a spinning, rotating pole.

Third, I don’t know about you, but when we saw those moves the pros made, we saw that there would be a lot more involved to being a professional dancer who can move up, down and around the pole AND remove her clothes in a sexy, enticing manner. I’m sure there are those doing it well in stripper clubs but very few doing gracefully. And I’m sure the clothes are specially made for a fast removal. Your average male or female audience member won’t be able to jump up and do a great job with no training. All they will do is make a fool of themselves! Grace is a necessary element for doing a good dance!

Size does matter. Honestly, those women who are more impressively endowed in the chest department are NOT going to make good pole dancers. Their center of balance and arm strength will not give them the ability to be a good dancer. Stripper yes, dancer, no! Those who do this professionally are just that, professionals, probably more on par with professional gymnastics. In fact, did you know there is a grass-roots movement to make Pole Dancing a part of the Olympics? I could see that happen, and especially after seeing this class, I’d fully agree.

So, the next you want to include a pole dancing scene in your book, think about it, act it out and see just how easy it is. NOT!

The explanations and professionalism of all three women putting on this demo made us realize that yes, some will think Pole Dancer/Stripper were the same. If more had seen this class, I’m sure their opinion would be as changed as ours was.

The women of the Cleveland Exotic Dance Troupe are all professionals. To see more, visit Oh, and they do more than just pole dancing.

In summation:

Myth: All Pole Dancers strip.

Myth: All Pole Dancers are women.

Myth: Anyone can do this as it takes no training at all to be a good pole dancer.

Myth: You can wear all kinds of clothes, be fully clothed in any fabric and still stick to the pole.

Myth: The more lube you use, the better the dance.

Myth: Wimpy, shy women (or men) with no strength can do this.

Myth: Stripping is really easy when doing a good, graceful pole dancing routine.

Myth: Anyone can jump up from an audience and do a great pole dance with no training at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old-Time Cowboys: In or Out?

by Ann Leveille, editor

At the 2011 Romanticon©, I had the privilege of helping out with the Bodacious in Boots panel held by Western Romantica authors Regina Carlysle, Desiree Holt, Cerise DeLand and Nicole Austin. They started with a description of what a cowboy is and what a cowboy does (complete with handout!), then discussed movie cowboys and asked attendees for a few cowboy seduction lines. Things got a bit…heated.
As the end of the session neared, this curious group of authors asked their captive group of fellow authors, readers and fans a few questions about their reading preferences. They wanted to know if readers were interested in historical Western stories, or if they only wanted modern Western stars.

The answers they got were enlightening.

Readers were clear that they were interested in historical Western romance but there were some specifics that came up. Current and aspiring authors, take note!

Readers said they want strong historical women – not weak-willed girls rescued by strong men. They want women who could stand up to modern women, women who can rescue themselves. And, one audience member noted, strong women shouldn’t be seen as anachronisms. Women in the Old West may have had different lives but those lives weren’t easy. Women became widows young, lost families, dealt with tragedy and hardship. They weren’t wimps waiting for heroes to come along and save them from their misfortune. (Okay, so there were probably a few of those hanging around but, well, we don’t want to read about that kind of woman!)

The trick is, they don’t just want these women to match their hero – they want them to feel as real and as alive as heroines in contemporary stories, not cardboard “strong women” caricatures slotted into a historical setting.

One audience member called cowboys, and the various trappings that leave readers wanting more (their rough and readiness, their physicality, their heroic qualities, their appreciation for the land and hard work and, of course, their proficiency with ropes and easy access to leather) essentially timeless.

In an interesting twist, some readers commented that the idea of bringing Dominance/submission elements into historical Westerns wasn’t really something of interest to them – but that wasn’t a comment echoed with room-wide agreement. But kudos to those who spoke up and brought the subject to light, as that’s something we do want to know more about!

Discussion turned to the fact that what readers really like, what draws them in and hooks their attention, especially in historical stories where an author has to fit in both a hot, sexy love story and the trappings of a historical world, is a good series.

There were lots of comments about why series were great – because the historical world could be developed over multiple books, and because characters could be introduced and developed and – this seemed key – returned to in future series installments. Some audience members even called out what seemed like wish list read ideas including books with horses, trains or mail-order brides.

Readers were clear though they may not go looking for more “mainstream” Western historical romances, if they could get some hot, sweaty, sexy historical cowboy romances, they’d sit up and take notice.

So, the general consensus was “Go for it!”.

As an editor I loved the panel and I was excited to hear all the comments and questions from the audience during the discussion. I’d also love (and the panel authors likely would too!) to know what Redlines and Deadlines readers think about historical versus modern Western erotica, and cowboys in general. And what about the kinkier stuff? Is that something of interest in your Westerns, be they contemporary, or set in the Old West? Please comment!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RomantiCon© Roundup

Our EC RomantiCon© reader/writer convention gets better every year! Parties, awards, great food, gorgeous cover models, fun games, music and dancing. This year we had our EC-label dessert wines and root beer, scads of "interesting" tee shirts and lots and lots of souvenirs and promo items.

Author KJ Reed makes great videos. Have a ball enjoying her pre-RomantiCon© and post-RomantiCon© stick figure videos, and her film of great moments at the convention.

Pre-RomantiCon© stick figure:


Post-RomantiCon© 2011 Stick Figure:

We'll be posting about the fun workshops over the next week or two.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vote in Pitch Contest!

Refine your own pitching talents by helping analyze and judge the pitches from other writers.

EC editor Grace Bradley has already made her selection of pitches to move on in the second annual Passionate Reads Blog pitch contest. Now thirty-four entries are battling to earn the most votes, thus moving one lucky author into round two (if the pitch was not already chosen by Grace). Cast your vote now. Poll closes at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 eBook Award Finalists!

The Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition has released it's annual list of eBook Award finalists, winners to be announced at EPICon (March 2012), and we're thrilled to announce the nominated EC titles!

HUGE congratulations to the following authors, who, along with their EC peers, demonstrate a level of quality and dedication to good storytelling that make us so proud to be in this industry. We wouldn't be here without you!

Entangled Trio by Cat Grant
The First Real Thing by Cat Grant

Eagle's Redemption by Cindy Spencer Pape
Song from the Abyss by Margaret L. Carter
Stormy Wedding by Kelli Scott

Woman on Fire by Fran Lee

Five Card Stud by Gem Sivad

Endless Lust by Lexxie Couper

Dead Sexy by Paige Tyler
Mask of Ice by Elaine Lowe

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back After RomantiCon

Next week is RomantiCon, EC's annual reader/author convention.

We're all frantically busy with the last-minute details and stuff to do. And then we'll be "on stage" all day and night at the convention. So look for us back on this blog in the first or second week of October. We should have some good stories to tell!

Sexy Stick Figures!

This video is absolutely hysterical, you must go view it! Author KJ Reed as a stick figure, demonstrating her excitement about attending our upcoming RomantiCon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fudging the Facts

by Raelene Gorlinsky

So, you need to have some profession for a character in your story--but you're not an expert on whatever. The September 2011 issue of Romance Writers Report (from RWA) has an article by Courtney Milan, "Five Ways to Fudge Legal Details". The author focuses on legal details, but her advice is good for handling any profession or job in your novel if you are not an expert in that field. This blog post is a combination of suggestions from that article and my own advice.

Her first and most important advice, which we know authors will ignore, is that if you have no experience with the legal profression, do not write lawyers; if you must write lawyers, avoid talking about the character's legal practice. I say the same thing applies to cops, chefs or chiropractors.

If you do have a character in a profession in which you are not experienced, you absolutely should have someone--several someones--who is in that profession read your book and point out the errors. Law and law enforcement are especially complex, as there are so many types, plus laws vary by location (state, city, federal). So get several experts, but make sure they are the right variety--if you write an FBI agent, don't expect a small-town cop to be able to give you the insider scoop on that job. And it can be very helpful to have consultants and beta reviewers who teach--someone from the police or FBI academy, a doctor who actually teaches at med school, the director of a beautician college, whatever applies.

Ms. Milan suggests, "Have your characters choose not to consult lawyers." There can be many reasons why your heroine feels that seeking legal advice would be too expensive or time-consuming or bring more trouble, why your hero doesn't want to involve the police and would rather investigate himself, or why your heroine doesn't trust doctors so decides to treat her symptoms with "natural" cures. That way you can avoid having to provide a realistic and true representation of that profession.

The last piece of advice: "Have your characters delegate". Not only is it easy to get the details wrong, but often those details are boring or are unnecessary for your story. Is the cop a central character, or can all the crime investigation details occur off-screen? Does the reader need to know the details of meal preparation in a restaurant kitchen, or just that the food was poisoned? We probably don't need to see the doctor's office or the medical procedures, we just need the results and how that affects the characters.
If you have something that must be handled by a lawyer, have your character delegate the matter to a lawyer. "You take care of the details," he said in a commanding voice. "Call me when it's done."
Sometimes it really is that simple. [...] delegation means you have no details to get wrong, and no readers to bore.
If you present details in your story, they must be factually correct. But there are ways to avoid the details, fudge the facts, when they aren't critical to the story's flow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fact or Fiction?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Authors sometimes get confused about our insistence on “factual accuracy” in our stories, while we are also agreeing with them that this is fiction. Are these conflicting requirements, are editors talking out of both sides of their mouths? No. There are two primary parts or elements of a romance story, and they have different expectations and requirements.

The relationship—romantic/sexual/emotional—is the FICTION part. People read romance and erotic romance for jolts of emotion and sexual titillation. Readers know that what is depicted in this element of the story is not in any way a match for real-life relationships. Uh, a guy who can get it up five times a night, every night? Men who instinctively know what a woman is thinking and exactly the right thing to say or do to meet her emotional needs? People who recognize their mate within minutes and are irrevocably in love, talking about commitment for life? Now, c’mon. In reality, you’d give that relationship/marriage about a zilch chance of lasting. And those uber-alpha heroes that we swoon over in books? We all know if we met a real guy like that, we’d probably kill him within days—or have him arrested for stalking, abuse, kidnapping… But in a romance story, we happily buy into the relationship and HEA that would be unbelievable in real life. We know that it is fiction, but it satisfies an emotional need for us, so we are willing to play along.

But then there is the story itself—the setting, background, plot actions, historical and geographical details, the science/legal/medical/law enforcement information. That is the FACT in the story, that is what must be real and accurate and true-to-life. (Assuming the story isn't fantasy or alternate reality, of course.) Otherwise, readers think very negatively of the author (and by extension, the publishing company), and are likely to speak up about it. You can’t have zippers in ancient Egyptian clothing, trains or the Underground in Regency London, sites on a hunting rifle in the 18th century, turkey and corn at a meal in medieval Europe. You can’t cross over the border from Canada to Mexico. If your hero suffers a serious gunshot wound, it’s going to take months of recovery and rehabilitation. Tests based on crime-scene evidence or DNA takes weeks to months to process, not a few hours. If you have cops, lawyers, or medical personnel in your story, you had better either be in that profession yourself or have researched the hell out of it and have every detail and character action right and justifiable. Beyond facts, people’s actions and reactions have to make sense, they have to be what could “really happen”, not something that any reader would say “No one would ever do that!” And don’t think readers won’t recognize the errors. Lots of them are in the professions or places you depict. And everyone else has seen it on TV. Yes, CSI is all wrong, it’s fiction, don’t copy from that for your story. But other court, crime and history shows have taught people how things really work and they will spot the “I can’t suspend disbelief enough” inaccuracies in your story.

So yes, we—as both editors and readers—expect that you as author will stick to the facts when writing fiction.

So, what unfactual “facts” have driven you crazy in a romance novel? All those examples I gave above are things I’ve actually seen in submissions or published books.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Puppy Love

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Hmm, I was trying to figure out how to make this blog post related to writing or publishing.
People need puppies.
Publishers are people, so publishers need puppies too.

Today was a stressful day at work. Things go wrong. It is difficult when what goes wrong is out of your control, or you don't understand what is causing the problem. So by end of day, I was not in a cheery mood.

I got home and let our two puppies (4 months and 6 months old) out in the yard to play. I just sat there and watched them - and I felt lighter, the world was brighter, my headache was less and things no longer seemed a mess.

They love to play Stalk. It's just like watching one of those nature shows, where the lioness or cheetah stalks the gazelle. The puppies flatten themselves into the grass on opposite sides of the yard, just staring. Then one of them starts to wiggle its bottom -- and suddenly leaps up and charges the other. They chase around the yard, through the bushes, through my vegetable garden ("Stop trampling my zucchini, you little beasts!"). They knock each other over, wrestle and tussle, break away and charge back. All with complete joy and excitement. Who can help but watch and smile at puppies at play?

Puppies should be issued to publishers as part of standard "office equipment", just like getting a laptop and desk chair. Today's major problem is not fixed yet, but I don't feel quite so stressed out about it.
Faolan and Fancy with Jonathon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Regency Britain Is Not Modern America

By Helen Woodall, editor

With the renewed popularity of Regency-set romances, more and more non-British authors are penning Regency-set stories. This article is not referring to stories in a world invented by the author which may have some similarities to Regency Britain, but to stories purporting to be set in Regency Britain.
Many of these are excellent stories, but are ruined for non-American readers because they have included peculiarly American traditions. Traditions that are probably so “normal” to the author, the editor and the publisher, that it never occurred to them to check if they were “British”.

1. Calling a married woman Jane Smith Jones. If Jane Smith got married she was Jane Jones. If someone wanted to know her heritage it would be said as Jane Jones, née Smith. Or possibly as Bertie Smith's daughter Jane. Using the maiden name as the middle name is a distinctly American tradition.

2. Houses in England in that day (and the vast majority of them still now) had a front door that opened onto the pavement (sidewalk). There may or may not be steps up to the door but no stoop, no porch and definitely no porch swing! Most town houses had no garden. The garden was in the square, gated, locked and shared by all the houses in the square. Country houses had a garden. Not a “yard”. A yard was where the farm animals and horses were. Google 'Regency architecture'. There are lots of pictures.

3. The evening meal was not called supper. There were two meals, breakfast and dinner, with nuncheon (a light meal) in between if dinner was to be eaten late. In the Season, supper may be served at balls after midnight. A light meal again. Dinner is a hot meal with three courses and several removes, served around 5 p.m. in the country and 9 p.m. in town.

4. Yes, “bloody” is a very British swear word. But it was not used at this time period. Partridge reports that it was "respectable" before c.1750, and it was used by Fielding and Swift, but heavily tabooed c.1750-c.1920, perhaps from imagined association with menstruation. The term was debarred from polite society during the whole of the nineteenth century. [Rawson]

5. “Gods”. In this time period, the British people were Christian. The official religion was the Church of England. The King was the Head of the Church and the House of Lords included many religious officials. The Lords Spiritual were 26 senior bishops of the Church of England. The Lords Temporal made up the rest of the membership. Of these, the majority were life peers who were appointed by the Monarch. If an aristocrat had pantheistic thoughts, he would keep them to himself for fear of losing his inheritance.

6. “Bathe” and toilets. Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. The Minoans of Ancient Crete did. Although the U-bend was invented in 1782 (making them suitable for indoors by taking away the dreadful smell) they did not become common in Britain until the late 19th century. Rich people had servants who emptied chamber pots (bedpans) into outdoor earth closets. Up until 1900 almost all British houses had outdoor toilets. In poor areas one toilet served an entire street of families.

People rarely took baths. Before the 19th century it was difficult to heat a large amount of water in one go. Suppose you heated a cauldron of water and poured it into a tub. By the time you had heated a second lot of water the first lot would already be cold. The rich stripped and washed all over in a small amount of water carried to them by servants. Those old metal tub baths you see in pictures are about the size of a baby’s bath. You stood up in it.

Some good references:
Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, Random House

Helen is on safari in Africa at the moment, but will be happy to respond to comments in a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crazy Confusibles

Yes, alas, the online world does seem to decrease people's skills in word usage, spelling, punctuation, grammar. There are seldom proofreaders for all those blogs, or even for the articles in online newspapers and such.

8 Words the Internet Loves to Confuse With Other Words
by Christina H, Aug. 30, 2011

As the author of this article says, "there are still a lot of other rogue (not rouge) words out there mixing with their homophonic or lookalike cousins and wreaking (not reeking) havoc on news articles, blogs, and forums everywhere." She illustrates word misuse with hysterical headlines and quotes from online sources, and with wildly amusing pictures. Do go read the full article. But make a note of these words in your personal proofing list.

1. Bear/Bare - A large, furry carnivore - naked. As the article author says, "I would never dream of insulting you by explaining the difference between bare and bear. Third graders know this. Nevertheless, people mix them up all the damn time."

2. Tack/Tact - Tack has several unrelated meanings: a change of direction, a pin, or the saddle and all that stuff you put on a horse. Tact is a kind or socially acceptable way of talking or acting so as to avoid offending others.

3. Hanger/Hangar - A hanger is something you hang things on. A hangar is where you keep aircraft.

4. Principal/Principle - Oh year, I see this error all the time in lots of places. The principal is the head of your school or the main person in some group. A principle is a basic belief about what's right and good. We would like every principal to have principles.

5. Per Se/Per Say - I've never actually seen this error, but according to the author of the blog article, it is rampant online. There isn't such a word or phrase as "per say", it's just a mispelling of per se.

6. Epitaph/Epithet - I see this misused/misspelled all the time, and it cracks me up. An epitaph is what they carve on your gravestone; an epithet is a term used to characterize something, often meant in an insulting or offensive way. Let's hope your epitaph is not an epithet.

7. Wary/Weary - When you are weary, you're tired; when you are wary, you are cautious and concerned ('ware' like in 'beware').

8. Regimen/Regiment - A regiment is a military unit; a regimen is a routine or a planned health schedule. So you don't have an exercise or diet regiment (although the soldiers would certainly be in good shape, if so), it's a regimen.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Line: EC for Men

Stories written specifically for our male readers.
We are now accepting submissions (find instructions in the Author Information brochure available under Submissions on our website).

~ 7,000 to 30,000 words

~ May contain relationships, but should focus more on the sex than the romance; Romantica is fine, Exotika is also encouraged

~ Realistic wording and dialogue for male characters (not the language women WISH men spoke); this extends to the male narrative

~ Written from male POV preferred

~ Should be aimed at male sexual fantasies (what men think of when they get off)

~ More of what men want or need from women: sex, love, acceptance, admiration, dirty talk; less of what they don't need (judgment, drama, expectation of anticipating woman's needs)

* Examples include, but are in no way limited to:
- Women taking the initiative during sex
- Female pursuit of the man
- Voyeurism of female/female sex (as well as F/M/F and F/F/M themes)
- Risky sexual situations or locations; a sense of the forbidden (e.g. the boss's mistress, the maid, the college professor, sex in public, etc.)

Remember that sex is largely visual and verbal for men (for women, it is mainly mental and emotional). Men polled preferred "real women" (natural as opposed to surgically enhanced) and wanted women to "do some of the work". Interpret that as you will!

Friday, September 2, 2011

2011 Banned Books Week

From the American Library Association:

"Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them."

Read a Banned Book

For Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-Oct. 1) this year, booksellers and their customers can proclaim their support for free speech on the Internet by joining a worldwide read-out of banned and challenged books. For many years, Banned Books Week has featured readings from challenged titles in bookstores and libraries. This year people can participate no matter where they are–in bookstores, libraries and their own homes–by posting a video of themselves reading their favorite banned book on a special YouTube channel.

Readers can select any banned or challenged book, and excerpts can be up to two minutes in length. Alternatively, people who have worked to defend banned or challenged titles can describe their battles in videos of up to three minutes in length. Booksellers will send the videos to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), which will edit them, add the names and logos of the bookstores where the filming occurred and then post them on YouTube. The videos will also be tagged to make it easy for bookstores to feature them on their websites, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

For further information, e-mail

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Discovering Old Books

by Raelene Gorlinsky

A coworker at EC clued me in to a great website, The Public Domain Review:

The site's description of itself:
The public domain is a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction. All works eventually enter the public domain – from classic works of art, music and literature, to abandoned drafts, tentative plans, and overlooked fragments.

The Public Domain Review aspires to become a bounteous gateway into the whopping plenitude that is the public domain, helping our readers to explore this rich terrain by surfacing unusual and obscure works, and offering fresh reflections and unfamiliar angles on material which is more well known.
By providing a curated collection of exotic scraps and marvellous rarities and linking to freely distributable copies of works in online archives and from far flung corners of the web, we hope to encourage readers to further utilise and explore public domain works by themselves.
The site seems to mainly focus on books, but also covers film and images. Lots of weird and wonderful documents that few of us would likely ever discover on our own. I've already downloaded English as She is Spoke from 1884, and am enjoying browsing leisurely for other items of interest. Hmm, I'm rather tempted by The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals from 1906 (animals tried for human crimes) and The Danger of Premature Interment from 1816 (make sure someone is really dead before you bury them).

The site encourages submission of articles about public domain works, and is open to suggestions for works to include.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Words in Webster's

It's always fun to see lists of the new words the major dictionary companies accept each year and add to their dictionaries. The words are a great reflection of our changing world, new trends, new ideas.

Here are a couple of the 150 that got added to Merriam-Webster's College Dictionary this year. Actually, I'm rather surprised they didn't get in sooner.

bromance: a close nonsexual friendship between men.

cougar: a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man.

crowdsourcing: the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.

social media: forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

tweet: a post made on the Twitter online message service.

See the Publishers Weekly blog for a longer article and list:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

By Raelene Gorlinsky

(Based on information from an article in Publishers Weekly, 8/15/11 issue.)

Ah, the books we remember fondly from our childhood - or from reading to our children. The classics are called that for a reason - they are great stories that stay popular. Some of the most popular children's books are celebrating long anniversaries, and most therefore have special editions coming out.

Remember the series about Babar the elephant? I loved those drawings. The first book, The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff, came out in 1931, so is now 80 years old and still beloved by and relevant to children. Coming out this month will be Babar's Celestville Games by Laurent de Brunhoff, Jean's son.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle made a deep impression on me as a preteen. It's celebrating it's 50th with a special commemorative edition. There will also be a graphic novel adaptation out next year.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster & Jules Feiffer is 50 years old. The special anniversary editioin will be released in October.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is also 50 this year. The publisher, Puffin, is not only putting out an anniversary edition, but having a variety of online activities and contests.

Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day will be 50 next year. It was considered groundbreaking back in 1962, and won the Caldecott Medal, because the young boy was African-American.

Remember the jungle animals coming out of the game in Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, 30 years ago? It was a 1982 Caldecott Medal winner, and came out as a movie in 1995.

The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole is 25. I read these to my son when he was small; I enjoyed them as much as he did. The illustrations by Bruce Degen are wonderfully clever.

I'm likely to succumb and buy some of the special editions, to add to my collection of children's picture books.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not as E as We Think

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I've got hundreds of unread print books on my TBR shelves, there is no more room left. So I made a conscious decision last month that I would buy only digital books from now on. Well, I tried...

I just assumed all the books I want would be available in digital format. Those of us in the epub industry and those readers who are heavily into digital tend to forget that many publishers are not yet with us. The big publishers still often delay the release of the digital version of new books until later than the print release (especially for hardcover books). And although they talk about digitizing their backlist, they are still nowhere near getting any significant portion actually available in ebook format.

What happened with the twelve books on my "buy" list last month? The list was a mix of new releases and older (but not more than three years old), fiction and nonfiction, well-known and new authors. To my surprise and annoyance, only FOUR of the twelve books were available in e. Those four were all new fiction releases that were also available in mass market paperback. And one of the ebooks was available only on Kindle; sorry, I buy ePub format. So I was able to get only 25% of my buy list as digital. I had to buy print for the rest.

This month looks like it may be almost as dissatisfying. I want to buy four books. One is available only in e, from a digital-first publisher, and I've bought it. Yay! One is a Harlequin category, not yet out, but I'm sure will be available in e. The other two--I don't know. One was a mass market release six months ago from a big NY publisher, but I haven't managed to find it in any digital format except Kindle. Hey, publisher, do you realize how much of the e market you are missing by not offering ePub and PDF? The other is an upcoming fiction hardcover, I don't have high hopes for a same-release-date ePub digital version.

I'll keep trying--when possible, I'll buy an ebook instead of a print book. But looks like I'm going to have to find more space on those TBR shelves.

What's your experience? What percentage of the books you buy are digital versus print? If you can't find it in digital, do you buy print or refuse to buy?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Renaissance in Publishing?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

The July 25, 2011, issue of Publishers Weekly had an insightful opinion article by Ashley Rindsberg, "Renaissance: Are niches the new mass market?" He summarized the changes of the past two decades and explains just how the whole basis of the publishing industry has been shaken. Some excerpts:

< Through all the panic and hysteria that's gripped the publishing world over the past few years, and in spite of academic musings on the fate of the book, we're witnessing an unprecedented flourishing of creativity and innovation in the book business. [...]

Social media has made "the niche" the all-important marketing concept today. Readers now gather around shared passions and interests [...] book production and distribution has finally become advanced enough to deliver titles directly to individual niches in a cost-effective way.

In short, a new publishing industry is emerging. For decades the book business has been dominated by what's become the "big six" corporate publishers and the major bookstore chains. [...] Given the high fixed costs of producing and selling a book, it became critical for big publishers to invest in titles that could nto only bring a return on the investment but subsidize the other titles that didn't sell. Thus, the focus of much of the book industry began to shift away from the kind of magical books that enrich our culture, to those books that could sell big. And how do publishers predict what will sell? By looking at what's already sold, of course.

In this way the book industry began to churn out expensive, generic titles that merely mimicked previous bestsellers. And smaller, niche-oriented titles--books that [...] lacked that "mass market" gloss--went unpublished or, ast best, were left for dead on the backlist.

Then, in the late 1980s, things started to change. Small publishers began using new digital publishing technologies--the era of "desktop publishing". In the mid 1990s, Internet sales, through services like Amazon, emerged. And now, in just the past few years, social networking and social media have changed the game; Google has scanned and made millions of books discoverable; digital print-on-demand has become practical and cost-effective; and most important, the Kindle, Nook and iPad have paved the way for an e-book future.
The current environment has all the makings of a renaissance for books. Even as the major publishing conglomerates contract, and retail chains like Borders flail, small and truly independent publishers are flourishing. >

Yep, I think that explains the success of Ellora's Cave and other indies and epubs like us. We target a specific market niche (such as erotic romance), and we understand that niche. We take chances on new authors and new styles within that niche, because we grasp what our readers may want and we cater to the diversity within that market and we provide value to those readers.

Of your recent reads, how many were those "megasellers for the masses" from major publishers, and how many were niche books from smaller publishers or the targeted genre lines of the big publishers?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Worst Writing Award 2011

The Bulwer-Litton Fiction Contest was started in 1982 at San Jose State University to celebrate bad writing. The contest is named after Victorian novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who started a book with “It was a dark and stormy night”. From the contest's website ( "The contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels".

The 2011 winner is Sue Fondrie, an associate professor at U of Wisconsin.
"Cheryl's mind turned like vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."

Don't you wish you could write like that?! Please send us submissions in that style--we like to torture our editors.

Runner-up is Rodney Reed.
"As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words."

Romance category winner is Ali Kawashima.
"As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand—who would take her away from all this—and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had."

Winner in the Purple Prose category is Mike Pedersen.
"As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue. "

There are winners in genre categories and various other classifications, including Dishonorable Mentions. They are all hysterical - go have a bit of reading fun.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Guys Think Women Want to Read

by Raelene Gorlinsky

This is from an article in Publishers Weekly, July 4, 2011. The article is by author William Dietrich, about his attempts to attract women readers to his books, which are usually labeled male action/adventure or male thriller.

"The question is: what do women readers want? I've asked this of book clubs I've visited (always exclusively female) and their answer is [...] relationships. Romance. Food. Cool places to hang out, like castles and palaces. And sex, if tastefully calibrated.

"Women like action, but they want stuff happening inside to people as well as outside to armies. Scientists report that women are hard-wired for empathy, probably because it was an evolutionary advantage in raising children and a disadvantage in spearing enemies.

"Twenty-first century ladies are also stern. No wimp women, they warn. No shrieking ninnies. They want authors who understand them."

I think Mr. Dietrich has developed a good insight into what women want to read. (Okay, especially the food and sex.)  What about you? Do you agree with him? What would you say to male authors trying to add women to their mainly male readership?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

EC for Men

Ellora's Cave is planning to launch a new line soon - EC For Men.

This will be erotica (not porn) for a male audience. Therefore, we are interested in hearing from men about their sexual fantasies, to help us target appropriate submissions and story types. Not what women think men want - we really want to hear directly from men. However, all you women reading this blog, feel free to pass this along to every adult male you know.

Men, give us your opinion. It's very easy, just send an email.
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Subject: Male fantasies

~ What are your sexual fantasies, what turns you on?
~ Would it matter to you whether the author name was male or female? If so, which would make you more inclined to buy the ebook.
~ Include "I was referred by Redlines and Deadlines blog."
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You don't have to include your name or any other personal info. However, if you are feeling very brave, cc on your message, and we'll put you in a drawing for free ebooks.

So, men, speak up about what you would read in erotica!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bookstore Wit

OMG, you have got to go look at these satiric Q&A signs for bookstores. Makes you totally understand what booksellers go through.

A few samples:

"Yes, we have that book with the green cover by that famous guy. It’s over in the books section."

"Where non-fiction? See the Fiction section? Everywhere but there."

"I’m trying to just be happy that you’re reading…but seriously, put down the Stephanie Meyers."

"It’s a green book with a flower on the cover? No problem. Because that’s totally how we organize this store."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fiction Rules Ebooks

Over half of all ebooks purchased are fiction, according to the recently released Bowker "2010-2011 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review". Their survey of 40,000 book buyers reveals that fiction ebook sales account for 61% by unit and 51% by dollars. The other (various non-fiction and children's) genres measured ranged from 3% to 14% market share each.

Online retailers of books accounted for 30% of all sales in 2010, with the major bookstore chains captured 29%. It was clear that consumers buy both ebooks and print books more from online retailers. Amazon and Barnes&Noble tied as the U.S.'s largest volume booksellers in 2010.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cave Tales: Fun With Faolan

The jobs of the hard-working Publishing staff are stressful. Therefore, as thoughtful and wise employers, we implement techniques and activities to reduce that stress. As displayed by this clip.

Proven stress-reducer: new Corgi puppy.

Thank you to Meghan for taking the video, to Kelli for starring in it, and to Raelene for supplying the puppy (who is now named Faolan, Gaelic for "little wolf").

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Influential Female Authors

Forbes has an article listing the ten most powerful woman authors.
(June 6, 2011)

"The women selected for this list are powerful because of their ability to influence us through their words and ideas. Collectively, these women hold readers captivated with stories of fantastical worlds, suspense and drama, insights into the complexities of minority experiences and cultures, and fresh takes on societal issues and expectations…not to mention, book sales of up to 800M copies sold and a wealth of prestigious awards and recognition including Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes."

Read the article for details on these women. They are quite a diverse group.
J.K. Rowling
Danielle Steele
Toni Morrison
Stephanie Meyer
Mary Higgins Clark
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker
Jhumpa Lahiri
Joyce Carol Oates
Isabel Allende

These are all big, famous names. (And the list is limited to living authors.) But for many of us, the books and writers who influenced us personally are not such global personalities. Reading Georgette Heyer as a pre-teen gave me my livelong love of history, of social manners, and of romance novels. What female authors had an impact on your life? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Amazon has announced that six authors have now sold more than 1 million Kindle books each: Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and Suzanne Collins.

I'd love to know what the total number of ebook sales are for these authors, not just Kindle format sales. If you add the ePub format sold at Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo... Let alone the smaller e-tailers, direct from publisher sales; and then additional common ebook formats like PDF and others.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You're Gonna Have to Face it...

By Kelli Collins 

So this was fun. This article warning women of those dangerous, dangerous romance novels. You know…those things to which I’ve dedicated my professional life.

Apparently romance novels can ruin your marriage, turn you into a recluse, cause clinical depression, lead to nosebleeds, increase flatulence, prompt rituals in the name of Aphrodite and contribute to tingling in your nether regions. (And let’s not forget the dreaded Fluttering Vajayjays.)

What? You didn’t know?

The article by Kimberly Sayer-Giles points out romance sales exceed those of inspirational, religious and self-help books combined by more than half a billion (though she fails to mention from which year she culled those figures). That Ms. Sayer-Giles is a self-help guru speaks volumes. Gee, lady, how about veiling your attempt to drum up business for yourself by trashing an entire industry? Home-wreckers like myself would really appreciate it, thanks.

Oh, I’m sorry. Not self-help guru. Ms. Sayer-Giles is a “life coach”. Yes, in quotes. Largely because I figure we need “life coaches” like we need “executive phone managers” and “deep-fry specialists” and “nail technicians”. Slap a fancy title on your business card and you’re still making a living telling people their underachieving choices aren’t good enough.

But what am I saying? I’ve completely overlooked the known fact that romance readers believe every syllable we publish. Of COURSE they fully believe every man alive should be a 6’5, ruggedly handsome, muscular bronze god. Of course they expect every man to plumb the depths of his deepest feelings and invite his studly friends home for a three-way romp to satisfy his woman’s fantasies. Before shifting into a werewolf and scurrying out the back door to howl at the moon. Naturally.

Thank God we have professional self-help mavens to pull us back from our unrealistic expectations and give us a nice punch of reality to the face. I was thisclose to divorcing my husband and posting a personal ad to find my own broodingly sexy vampire life-mate.

Whew. Close call. Thanks, coach.