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