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)?