Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

We're busy playing with our new toys from Santa (don't ask what erotica editors get!), so we are taking a few days break. See you in the new year!

EC Editors

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Words of the Year

Collins Dictionary (in the UK) publishes an annual list of "fad" words of the year.

"We were looking for words that told the story of the year," said Ian Brookes, the dictionary's consultant editor. "Some words are from events that have been and gone and so are not likely to stick around...but others are probably here to stay."

Twelve words of the year - one for each month - were selected on the basis of the frequency with which they were spoken, how many places they appeared and their longevity in public discourse. Appearing on the Collins words of the year list is no guarantee of insertion in the next dictionary.

So here are the Collins Dictionary's words of 2012.

broga  (yoga tailored to men)
Eurogeddon  (the economic situation in the Eurozone)
fiscal cliff
Games makers  (Olympics volunteers in London)
Gangnam Style
Jubilympics  (the overlapping British celebrations of the Olympics and the queen's Diamond Jubilee)
legbomb  (actress Angelina Jolie's pose at the Oscars)
mummy porn
Romneyshambles  (candidate Romney's visit to London)
zuckered  (if you bought Mark Zuckerman's Facebook IPO and watched your share price plunge)
47 percent  (reference to Romney's fundraiser speech)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winner: Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Two weeks ago, we listed for you the finalists in the UK Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction contest.

The bad sex prize was established "to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel – and to discourage it".

So the winner is...
Infrared by Nancy Huston

The author has said she hoped the win would "incite thousands of British women to take close-up photos of their lovers' bodies in all states of array and disarray."

Congratulations, Nancy, for winning the "most dreaded literary prize".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Naughty and Nice Lists

Santa isn't the only one who keeps lists of the naughty and the nice. Editors do it too (or at least, good editors do). But editor lists are about words, not children. The words or phrases that we most commonly spot as incorrect, so know we need to check for in every book. And each editor's list is different, has not only generally common errors but those words that the editor knows are her weak points or blind spots. Our copy editors are invaluable in helping with this. ("OMG, the copy editor flagged this same thing twenty-seven times in the last three books from me. I better put this on MY LIST.")

So here's a present from Santa for all you nice writers, and for you naughty ones who want to be nice--a list of some common errors you should look for in your writing. Do a Find in your document for each of these.

"could care less" - Think about it. What you mean is "couldn't care less".

"criteria is" - 'Criteria' is plural. If you just have one, say "criterion is"; if there are several, "criteria are".

"hone in" - Hone means to sharpen; you hone a blade or hone a skill. If you are pinpointing or locating something, you "home in" on it.

irregardless - This is a double negative, and means the opposite of what you want. Regardless means without regard, so irregardless means "without without regard"--in other words, with regard. So say "Regardless of the consequences" if you mean doing something without caring about the consequences.

kudo - There's no such word. Kudos means approval or praise; it is singular.

lightning/lightening - That bolt of electricity in the sky is 'lightning'. If you are making something lighter (in weight or color), you are 'lightening' it.

"off of" - Get rid of the 'of', just use 'off'. Go jump off a bridge.

"person that" - (Or substitute any category of people.) People are always 'who'; 'that' refers to a thing. Let's not argue about animals; do it whichever way your editor will allow.

"reason is because" - Redundant. Use "reason is", or if introducing a noun clause you may use "reason is that".

"road to hoe" - No, please don't dig up the road with a sharp farm instrument. That would be a difficult "row to hoe".

"those kind"/"these kind" - 'Those' and 'these' are plural and would modify plural nouns. So say either "those kinds" or "this kind".

"try and (action)" - This should be "try to" do whatever. 'And' is a conjunction used to join two actions or things. "Try and call the grammar police" means you are going to do two different actions: you are going to "try" something (what?) and you are going to "call the grammar police". What you mean is that you are going to attempt to call the grammar police - "try to call". Hey, we're right here!

undoubtably - No such word. This is a misspelling of 'undoubtedly'.

"would of" - This is based on sloppy mispronunciation. The term is "would have".

Happy holidays. Hope you enjoyed this gift list.

Monday, December 17, 2012

House of Books

This is what I want--a house custom-built to my specs, everything I want including built-in bookshelves everywhere--walls, staircases, even ceilings.
(Thanks to Diane for sending the link.)

Dream Homes Built for Books and the Nerds Who Love Them
“amazing houses that take bookcases to the extreme”

Friday, December 14, 2012

History of the PC

by Raelene Gorlinsky

How many of us remember the pre-computer, especially pre-personal computer, days? When we typed on typewriters? Ooh, what about all the way back to manual typewriters (which are no longer even manufactured today)? I'm old enough to have taken typewriter class in high school. Oh yeah, same age as when I replaced my slide rule with a Texas Instruments calculator (basic arithmetic functions, cost over $100).

Now we can't live without our PCs, mini-PCs, tablets, mini-tablets. But it's really only been fifty years since the minicomputer revolution began. The November 2012 issue of the AARP Bulletin (an organization for those of us over 50, old enough to remember typewriters) had an article "Evolution of the PC". Here's a summary, with a few annotations from me:

1962: LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer) took up about 8 square feet, had 1kb of memory, and cost $43,600. MIT got one for its biomedical research lab.

1965:  The first minicomputer success, DEC's PDP-8, debuted; price was $18,000. (So stop bitching about the price of an iPad, which has a zillion times more functionality, memory and capacity at a tiny percent of the price.)

1969: U.S. Dept. of Defense established ARPAnet, the first computer network, the forerunner to the internet.

1971: ARPAnet sends the first email.

1972: Atari's Pong released, starting the video game industry.

1975: The MITS Altair 8800 computer kit made the front cover of Popular Electronics. The computer had an impressive 256kb of memory.

1976: Steve Wozniak created the Apple I. Sales income from that enabled the Woz and Steve Jobs to start Apple Computers.

1977: Lots of new computer debuts: Commodore PET, Apple II, Tandy Radio Shack's TRS-80.

1981:  IBM labeled its minicomputer the "PC"; the description became a brand and sales soared.

1982: Instead of Man of the Year, Time named the computer (yes, generic computer) the Machine of the Year. The magazine story was written on a typewriter.

1983: Compac made the first PC clone, compatible with IBM's PC.

1984: A $1.5 million Super Bowl ad launched Apple's Macintosh, the first successful computer to have a mouse and user-friendly interface.

1990: The World Wide Web was invented.
1990: The first successful version of Microsoft Windows 3.0 launched.

1995: Amazon and eBay debuted.

1998: Google and PayPal debuted.
1998: Apple's iMac became the first in its line of iProducts.

2007: Apple launched the iPhone, with 8GB of memory.
2007: (November 17) Amazon debuted the Kindle e-reader. The whole stock sold out in five-and-a-half hours.

2008: Apple launched the iPad. It sold more than 300,000 on its first day.

Fascinating how far our information technology has advanced in only fifty years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Write For Us

Okay, this isn't a grammar-and-punctuation type of tip. It's for you authors and aspiring authors--we've put out calls for submissions for 2013, here's your opportunity!

Curve Appeal
Dangerous curves ahead! Cuddle up to some Big Beautiful Women in this series featuring hot ’n’ heavy heroines who have a little (or a lot!) extra cushion for the pushin’.

~ Length: 20K - 45K
~ Deadline for internal/external submissions: 3/1/13 (earlier is preferred)
~ All Lines and sub-genres welcome
~ Rubenesque heroines are a must; size must be one of the themes (heroines who are already comfortable in their plus-sized skin are definitely welcome
~ Stories release in September 2013

Boys Will Do Boys
Let’s get one thing straight—these heroes are not. Sorry ladies, no heroines allowed in these tales of lust and love between men. Bring on the M/M! (Or M/M/M, or M/M/M/M…)

~ Length: 20K – 70K words
~ Deadline for internal/external submissions: 5/1/13 (earlier is preferred
~ All stories will release under our Spectrum (GLBT) Line, but all sub-genres and themes are welcome
~ Stories release in December 2013/January 2014

Cotillion Christmas Traditions
Sweet, Christmas-themed traditional Regencies from our Blush Line of non-erotic romance.

~ Length: 12K – 25K
~ Deadline for internal submissions: June 15
~ Deadline for external submissions: May 15
~ Regency Christmas traditions must be a theme in all stories, with particular dedication to historical accuracy (no Victorian Christmas trees, etc.)
~ Cotillion guidelines: sweet (kisses only); set in Regency-era England; focus on the social setting/mores of the time
~ Ebooks release in October 2013
~ Print anthology releases in November 2013

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gifts for Bookloving Boys and Girls

By Kelli Collins

I've got tons of voracious readers on my Xmas shopping list, and plenty of them just want gift cards for the Kindle or Nook, and okay, fine, if that's what they really want... But between you and me, I'd rather dive into a pool full of barbed wire than buy such impersonal items. There's nothing more special to me than the hunt for that perfect gift. I'm old school like that. This year, I've got just the thing for my book-loving buds. Gifts guaranteed to serve up huge smiles, with a nice side of feel-good to boot:

Out of Print Clothing

The company's mission statement recognizes the swiftly changing print industry, as well as the popularity of digital, and is concerned for the fate of the beloved book cover (as they should be). Therefore, Out of Print is determined to preserve classic book covers -- in the form of T-shirts, journals, totes, notepads, iPhone cases and more!

As if that's not cool enough...Out of Print also works with a partner, Books for Africa, to provide one book to a community in need for EVERY product sold. (In case you missed it, this is where the "feel-good" part comes in.)

I'm hardly the warm-fuzzy type, but even I get a certain glow about me when I'm able to share my love or reading. Who wouldn't?

No no, don't thank me. Just log on and share the love. And the books.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bad Sex in Fiction Award


The Literary Review has announced the finalists for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award. The bad sex prize was established "to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel – and to discourage it".

The Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James is not included; it  does not qualify for the contest "because the prize's rubric explicitly excludes pornographic and erotic literature".

The winner will be announced at a lavish ceremony in London in December.

The shortlist of nominees, with quotes from the sex scenes. OMG, just cover my eyes.

The Quiddity of Wilf Self, by Sam Mills
"Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic."
• Noughties, by Ben Masters
"We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot, getting amongst the pillows and cool sheets. We trawled each other's bodies for every inch of history."
• Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe
"Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle's own lips and maw — all this without a word."
• Rare Earth by Paul Mason
"He began thrusting wildly in the general direction of her chrysanthemum, but missing — his paunchy frame shuddering with the efford of remaining rigid and upside down."
• The Yips by Nicola Barker
"She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard."
• Infrared by Nancy Huston
"This is when I take my picture, from deep inside the loving. The Canon is part of my body. I myself am the ultrasensitive film — capturing invisible reality, capturing heat."
• The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine
"And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder."
• The Adventuress: The Irresistible Rise of Miss Cath Fox by Nicholas Coleridge
"In seconds the duke had lowered his trousers and boxers and positioned himself across a leather steamer trunk, emblazoned with the royal arms of Hohenzollern Castle. 'Give me no quarter,' he commanded. 'Lay it on with all your might.'"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Contest Winners: 12th Anniversary

Thank you all for the wonderful comments about EC and about your first books and authors here! So we got a little carried away with selecting winners. Hey, you lucky folks, please email redlinesdeadlines@gmail.com to claim your free ebook from us--anything currently available, or listed as Coming Soon through end of December.

Renee Meyer - an EC fan since 2001

Christine - "EC popped my ebook cherry"

Debbie S - another longtimer, since 2002

Diane M - who knows she bought her first EC books on Nov. 7, 2001: Jaid's The Empress' New Clothes and three others in the series

Carmen Terronez - a newbie to EC, with a list of series she plans to read

Kini Taicho - who got hooked on EC's plus-size heroines, and our innovative ways (Kini, you'll love our "Curve Appeal" stories coming out next September.)

Jen - who's glad we refuse to behave, and is just contracted to publish her first book with us

PamK - another of many whose first EC book was Empress' New Clothes - the first book EC published

Carrie Hutchison - she loves our male/male romances (Carrie, watch for the "Boys Will Do Boys" stories in December 2013.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Do You Read On?

According to Bowker Market Research, for second quarter 2012, the devices used to read e-books:

Kindle - 37%
Kindle Fire - 18%
Nook/Nook Color - 14%
iPad - 12%

desktop/laptop PC only - 6%
Smart phone - 3%
iPhone - 3%
iPod/iPod Touch/MP3 device - 2%
Sony eReader - 1%
Other - 4%
These are the same as the figures from first quarter 2012, except that 2% of users switched away from Kindle to Kindle Fire.

Hmm, I think this survey was before the Nook HD tablet came out? I wonder what percentage of the tablet market it has now captured.

I use a Nook Color and love it. Do any of you read on your PC, rather than an ereader, tablet or cell phone? I wonder what comes under "Other". Do people still print out an ebook to read it?

Friday, November 30, 2012

And This is Now!

We've shared some fun memories of EC's early days. Things are still great and getting even better. How has EC grown in twelve years?

Originally, Tina was the only "employee" and worked from a corner of her apartment. As staff was added, they also worked from home, until we got our first office space in Ohio. Now we have an office building, a warehouse and a storage building for the RV and trailer. We've got about sixty staff: employees, freelance editors and artists.

A dozen or so authors published with EC in the first year. We now have over 750 authors represented on our webstore.

In the beginning, we released a few ebooks a month. In 2012, we will release 500 ebooks! We currently have 4400 ebooks and almost 1500 print books available.

In the first few months of the company, a few thousand dollars in sales was a big deal. Where are we in 2012? We sell well over 600,000 books every month! We project $12 million in net sales income in our 12th year!

We've come a long way, baby.

So, tell us about your history with us. How long have you been an EC fan? What was the first EC book you read? We’d love to know. Post it comments here, and we'll do a random drawing next Friday for winners of EC stuff.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

That was Then...

Continuing our reverie on the early days, now that we're a dozen years old today...

Crystal Giardina has worked in our Accounting department for eight years.

My most fond memory is when I started at EC. I was pregnant with Hayley and two weeks after I started I was put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was so upset because I already loved working at EC and thought it was going to come to an end so soon after starting. But Patty said, just come back after she's born, no big deal! I was very shocked and thought I wouldn't have my place when trying to return... But Hayley is now 8 years old and I'm still working for EC.  Most places would have said, Too bad. Not Patty! This is why the company is so great.

Martha Punches, Customer Service Specialist, who has now been here TEN years:

Back in the olden days, before the "new-fangled" way of sending ebooks as links, we actually sent ebooks to customers as burned CDs, mailed by USPS. The customer would have to save the book from the disk to their computer and either print out a copy or read it on the computer. This was back when we had very few releases per month, but was still a lot of work. I'm glad technology has advanced to what we are today!

Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher--almost ten years at EC if you count the first year as a freelance editor, before being hired as Managing Editor:

I was a very early customer, before I started to work for the company. When I bought my first EC ebook (The Empress' New Clothes by Jaid Black, of course), a pdf file was emailed to me. I had a problem reading the font and didn't know how to adjust it, so I emailed "Service". I was astounded and impressed when Jaid herself (aka, our founder Tina Engler) sent me a new version of the ebook - one she had specially created in the font size I wanted! EC's reputation for incredible customer service started very early.

I moved from Oregon to Ohio to work at the first EC non-home-based office when it was still very new. There were about ten of us then in the small offices and warehouse space. There's even more of a "family" feeling when it is such a small group. Patty was really into decorating the offices. Lots of Egyptian motif. The bathroom knick-knacks were all decorated with palm trees. We had a tiny kitchenette, and I was amazed that the refrigerator was kept full of snacks and lunch foods for all. We still have lots of food-oriented holiday parties at our office!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ellora's Cave is 12!

Ellora's Cave launched on November 28, 2000. We've had a dozen wildly successful years! In celebration, we asked our old timers-- those employees who've been with us for at least two-thirds of our "life"--for some memories of those early days.

Courtney Thomas, now our CFO, and Patty Marks, our CEO, share their recall of the beginning in our first office space. As Courtney explains:

I remember working with Patty at Commerce Drive with the construction workers building walls around us.  We had one computer with dial-up Internet. One extension cord that reached the length of the building so we would have electricity. We used an old credenza that was left in the building by the previous owners as a desk. Every year on my anniversary  (Nov. 17, 2003) I think back to the good days and feel blessed for every day thereafter :)

We've come a long way, baby!

Kendra Rumschlag says her early EC days were smooth. She handled print order and dealt with our printer, LSI.

But stories. My favorites would be when Crystal got her nose ring stuck and we had to help her pull it out. We found a snake in the front office once...and not Patty's snake that later offed himself in his water bowl. My favorite memory was a little after I started when we were separated between two different buildings. [We'd outgrown that original office, so Editorial moved into rented space across the street.] An author had sent Raelene personally a huge basket of chocolates. Well, it came to the main office and we never even looked at the name...just tore into it and ate it. A couple of days later Raelene came over looking for it and we were all so stunned and guilt-ridden that Patty ordered a basket of Godvia for you guys at the other office to apologize.

Patty has her own favorite memories.

We'd get silly. One day, Kendra started typing naughty words into an online dictionary, with the pronunciation help turned on. The words would come out of the computer speaker, and we laughed hysterically--way back then, they seemed a lot more shocking.

I remember when Rich climbed up in the rafters to hide the fart machine above the bathroom.

{Continued on Wednesday and Friday.}

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday break

No blog posts the rest of this week.  (We know, you are absolutely devastated.)  Raelene took today off for her birthday, the company is closed Thursday for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, and many of the staff are on vacation for several days.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winners: We're Five!

by Raelene Gorlinsky
As you know, we've just celebrated our fifth blog birthday.
All the virtual suggestions were fun, we thank you. And showing that editors are a diverse group, we couldn't come to consensus on what we wanted.
Grace and Denise are headed to Jamaica, courtesy of Tracey H. Kitts. (Grace will be wreaking havoc with Arwen's anonymous Twitter account while she's on vacation.) Martha is going to join them after she has a spa day from Diane M.

Dahlia says, "I'm Team Frosting, though a Wide Selection of Sex Toys does have its merits." Thanks Kim Hugo and Wynter Daniels.

Beverly is taking Kathy Kulig up on that offer of a month in her alternate universe. Denise will join her there when she leaves Jamaica.
Violet's choice? "I'm totally voting for the duct tape/cavemen combo. Is that TMI? LOL"

Victoria is the practical one. She wants the three meals a day served by Cavemen, followed up by the gift basket delivered by the super spy or superhero. Thanks to Marianne Stephens and Missy Jane.

Bree is also going to take Barbara Elsborg up on her offer of champagne, chocolate and naked men. She has agreed to give me the duct tape if I'll let her pet the pony.
I really, really wanted the pony in the unicorn get-up from Ju Dimello, but realized I just don't have the space for it. So I'll just have it for a short visit, then give it to the children next door (I haven't told their parents about this yet). But what I really want--so appropriate for an editor--is N.J. Walters' red pen with a diamond set in it. (How did you know I love fancy pens, N.J.?)

So, as promised - gifts to those who gave us gifts! Since we couldn't agree on best gift, I did a drawing. N.J. Walters, Missy Jane and Tracey Kitts! I'll email you about your prize.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cases and Ends

Yet more items for Raelene's obsession with weird or wonderful bookcases.


2012-10-24-shelf8_rect540          2012-10-24-shelf8_rect540          2012-10-24-shelf8_rect540

 And some great animal bookends:

Bookends1_rect540       Bookends1_rect540      Bookends1_rect540

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags identify who is saying what in a conversation between characters and keep the reader from getting lost or confused. But some writers generate confusion by using incorrect punctuation or capitalization with their dialogue tags. Here are three dialogue issues to check for in your manuscript.

(1)  The dialogue tag is a continuation of the sentence and is separated from the dialogue by a comma, exclamation point or question mark, but not by a period. Unless the word following the punctuation is a proper name, it is lowercase. Here are examples of dialogue tag punctuation:

Incorrect: “Nancy, you are so naughty.” Her friend said. [One of the most common dialogue format errors editors see.]
Correct: “Nancy, you are so naughty,” her friend said.
Correct: “Why are you so naughty, Nancy?” her friend asked.
Correct: “Nancy,” her friend said, “you are so naughty.”

(2)  If a character talks for more than one paragraph (without interruption of dialogue tags), each paragraph of his or her speech starts with opening quotes, but there are no close quotes until the character is finished speaking.

(3)  Do not use two dialogue tags for one continuous piece of dialogue. Either remove one dialogue tag or split the dialogue into two parts.

Incorrect:  With a heavy heart, he said, “Had I known, I would never have eaten that last cookie. I didn’t know your blood sugar would drop and you would need a snack,” he whispered sheepishly.

Correct:  With a heavy heart, he said, “Had I known, I would never have eaten that last cookie.” He whispered sheepishly, “I didn’t know your blood sugar would drop and you would need a snack.”
Correct: With a heavy heart, he whispered sheepishly, "Had I known, I would never have eaten that last cookie. I didn’t know your blood sugar would drop and you would need a snack."


Friday, November 9, 2012

We're Five!

We had a birthday and were too busy to remember! This blog launched five years ago, October 23, 2007. We hope you’ve found our 584 posts since then to be entertaining and informative.

So what would you give a group of opinionated editors for their blog birthday? Post your gift in Comments, and we’ll select the most fun and imaginative for a gift from us. What will it be? Hey, you’ll just have to wait to unwrap it.

Happy belated birthday to us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Common Errors

EC editors keep lists of the most common errors, things they regularly correct in the books they work on. Here are some items that hit the top of editor checklists, we encourage you to put them on your own proofreading checklist.


aid / aide
aisle / isle
baited / bated
borne / born
course / coarse
discreet / discrete
duffle / duffel
embed / imbed
enquire / inquire
gray [US] / grey [UK]
hoard / horde
lightning / lightening
passed / past
phase / faze
rack / wrack
reign / rule
'til / till
vice / vise
who's / whose
you're / your

Acronyms--Common ones that should not have periods:


And of interest to romance authors:
HEA  [happily ever after]
ms  [manuscript]
TSTL  [too stupid to live]
WIP  [work in progress]

Is there a homonym you know you regularly have trouble with?

Monday, November 5, 2012

EC at Emerald City and GayRomLit

Only a day after our own RomantiCon convention, EC Editor-in-Chief Kelli Collins hightailed it to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for GRL. The only thing warmer than the weather was the reception from GRL staff and EC authors at the event. This was our first year at GRL, but hopefully will not be the last. It’s an amazing conference fully devoted to the support of GLBTQ authors and their work, which means support for the erotica/erotic romance genres at large. Next year’s conference is in Atlanta, Georgia.

Emerald City Writers' Conference
EC Editor Carrie Jackson spent the last weekend in October hobnobbing with the Pacific Northwest’s best at the Emerald City Writers' Conference. From the second she arrived at the lovely Westin-Bellevue hotel, the conference organizers went out of their way to make her comfortable, plying her with coffee, lip balm, so many books she had to buy a new suitcase to get them all home, chocolate and more coffee. Oh, and ginger ale. On Saturday, Carrie listened to pitches from some very prepared writers. Everyone was kind, professional and brought their A games. The biggest highlight of Carrie’s weekend? Getting the chance to hang out with writers, including EC authors Anna Alexander, Olivia Waite, Sabrina York and J.K. Coi. The Emerald City Writers’ Conference had about 300 or so attendees, great gift bags, tons of workshops and inspiring speakers.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sunflower Reading Chair

Continuing my love affair with bookshelves... How nice to have books within easy reach while relaxing in a unique chair.

Created by He Mu and Zhang Qian of the Shanghai University of Engineering Science.

Sunflower Chair by He Mu and Zhang Qian

Monday, October 29, 2012

Romance Reader Stats from RWA

RWA commissions an annual study of the U.S. romance publishing industry and romance readers. The 2011 information was just published in the November 2012 Romance Writers Report magazine.

Industry sales information for 2011 is from Simba Information, Bowker Monthly Tracker and AAP:
  • 2011 U.S. romance fiction revenue: $1.37 billion; 14.3% of consumer book market.
  • Simba estimates that for 2012, the overall U.S. consumer book market will decrease by 3.7%, and the romance category will decrease to $1.34 billion (but be up to 14.5% of overall market).
  • Ebook sales of romances were 44% of total units in first quarter 2012 (compared to 26% ebook sales in total book market); mass market accounted for 29%; trade paperback 17%
RWA's romance book buyer survey, conducted by Bowker Market Research:
(Of course, I'm always a bit leery of statistics when they don't tell me all the details of the study--like how many people polled, how selected, the demographics, etc.)
  • 91% of romance buyers are women
  • about half of romance buyers are between the ages of 30 - 54
  • 31% of romance buyers consider themselves "avid" readers; 44% consider themselves "frequent" readers
  • Have been reading romance for more than twenty years: 57% of avid readers, 43% of frequent readers, 41% of occasional readers
  • Element enjoyed most about romance novels: happy ending
  • 94% of romance readers have read ebooks (either purchased or free)
  • Top overall reason a romance buyer selects a book to purchase: likes the author (45%)
  • "Very influential" reasons for selecting a romance to buy: enjoyed author's previous book, book is part of a series, book description, recommendation from trusted source.
  • Not influential: promo items (postcards, trading cards, notepads, pens, calendars, bookmarks, etc)
  • Online elements that influence purchase decision: online bookseller websites, reading about it/seeing it online, seeing it on a bestseller list, author website, seeing it discussed on Amazon
  • How readers become aware of romance books (does not imply purchased -- just knew about a book): in-store display, read an excerpt online, recommendation from friend/relative, author's website, teaser chapter in other print book they were reading, online retailer recommendation on retailer site
I must say, I'm surprised at the 94% figure for having read an ebook. That is MUCH higher than for the reading population as a whole. Romance readers definitely are more open to digital instead of paper.

What do you find the most surprising or significant information from this study?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Britishisms Becoming American

by Raelene Gorlinsky

The BBC News Magazine has an article on Britishisms that are becoming sorta common usage in the U.S. (or at least we are familiar with the terms and know what they mean, even if we don't all use them ourselves).

See the full article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19929249  for definitions. But here are the words. Hmm, I don't think I've ever heard 'chav' or 'numpty'. But I realize I do hear and use many of the others.

gap year
pop over

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Comprise / Compose

I see "comprised" used by British and Australian authors, but rarely by Americans. Is that because American writers almost always use it incorrectly?

There is no such phrase as "comprised of"! Never put 'of' with 'comprise'. Write that on your palm in ink, please.

"The whole comprises the parts; the whole is composed of the parts."
(Or: The whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole.)

Either of these is correct:
The alphabet comprises twenty-six letters.
The alphabet is composed of twenty-six letters.

A couple of tests to see if you've got the usage correct:
~  'comprises' = 'is composed of'
~  you can substitute 'includes' for 'comprises'.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bookstores and Romance

by Raelene Gorlinsky

You think romance novels have a low rep in the U.S.? Some people look down on you for reading "bodice rippers" or "porn"? (Of course, almost all these are people who've never actually read a romance themselves, know nothing about the genre.) Well, at least U.S. bookstores (online and physical) recognize that half of all fiction paperbacks sold in this country are romance, and so from a business perspective support the genre.

Not so in other countries.

I've always heard that bookstores in the U.K. carry little romance. When I was there in April, I went to the largest bookstore in London. It took some searching, but I finally found the romance section--three rows in a very short section. And facing the wall--you couldn't see it from anywhere else on the floor, you had to be actually looking for it.

Most bookstores in Germany are small independents, and I was told carry little romance. Frankfurt does have a newish very large bookstore (part of a chain, I think), something the Germans are still getting used to. Four floors--Rebecca and I roamed the whole thing. NO romance section. They do carry bestselling books, such as the German translation of Fifty Shades of Grey. And they have a small Science Fiction & Fantasy section that had some paperbacks of what we might label paranormal romance (Gail Carriger, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Larissa Ione, etc.). There was literary fiction and the classics, poetry and plays, a small section of mysteries and thrillers, a children's and YA department. Most of the store was nonfiction: cookbooks, reference and technical works, biographies, history. Oh, they did have a section promoting ebooks, featuring the store's own branded e-reader.

So maybe here in the U.S. we should consider ourselves lucky that we can so easily find romance books.

Any of you checked out bookstores in other countries? What's your experience with them?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair: The EC Experience

by Raelene Gorlinsky

We had a very busy time at Frankfurt Book Fair, we were swamped with foreign publishers who wanted to talk about the potential market for erotic romance. We saw publishers from markets/countries that in past had little interest in romance or erotica--eastern Europe, South America, India. They are still a bit tentative, not sure erotica will work in their countries, but starting to think about it and look for books to which they can buy translation rights. Some expressed that they may want to start with acquiring rights to romance novels, see how those fly in their countries (yes, in some parts of the world there are few romance books, it's not considered a desired genre). Then, if they can sell romances to their readers, they'd try erotic romance.

The Friday edition of the Frankfurt Show Daily magazine had an article on the growing popularity of erotica--and a sidebar for us, "Ellora’s Cave, the wildly popular digital and print erotica and romance publisher from the United States"!
(scroll down)

Representatives from several library distributors came to talk with us. We already make EC ebooks available for library lending through several US distributors, but so far not in other parts of the world. The lady from New Zealand was very eager. I also talked to some audio book companies. And talked to Google about their international expansion of Google Play (their ebook retailing division).

The college students came around on Friday. We had a good time chatting with them, they were so eager to learn about publishing and e-publishing, about the business and marketing aspects, about the varying acceptability around the world of romance and erotica. Several expressed their gratitude that we were so friendly and willing to talk to them--apparently some of the companies and publishers at the Fair brushed off the students, made it clear they wouldn't waste time with them. Not a good attitude--these students are readers/customers themselves, and future employees for our industry.

Fun tidbits:
There was a very strong police presence at the fair--groups of good-looking, young, buff (female and male) uniformed officers everywhere. They stopped by our booth a lot to look at the Cavemen calendar and chuckle. I wasn't able to convince any of them to actually take a calendar or book. I guess they can't really carry such around when they are on duty and in uniform. One of them explained to me that they aren't allowed to take gifts or giveaways of any sort--it could be construed as an attempted bribe, I suppose.

The new acronym in the publishing industry is GAMA: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. The technology and etailer giants that now control our publishing world.

We gave away 1000 of our big Bad Girls of Romance bags. They were widely acclaimed as the best bags available at the Fair--huge and sturdy. We saw people everywhere carrying them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Peculiar Punctuation

Not that we necessarily want to encourage any authors to use these, but they are certainly fun to know about:

14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed
(Go to that article to see the actual marks and get a full explanation.)

A few are really cool--I actually want to see a story submission using these! (Of course, first you have to figure out how to get the weird characters to show in your Word file. Try checking  http://copypastecharacter.com/ or http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2000.pdf )

Exclamation Comma (when you want to indicate excitement, but not end the sentence yet)
Question Comma (when asking a question but continuing the sentence)
Interrobang (the punctuation equivalent of OMGWTF?!)
Snark (to indicate the sentence has a sarcastic or ironic meaning) [Actually, I'm wondering if the article author made this one up!]

Of course, the problem is that readers (or 99.9% fo them) won't know what these marks are or what they mean. They'd likely just think it's a misprint or typo, alas.

Many of the rest of the listed marks are primarily used by copy editors and proofreaders to indicate changes or text formatting, they are not something you'd see in published story/book text. And there are a few with specialized technical usages.

Sheffer Stroke
Because Sign
Section Sign

Monday, October 15, 2012

International Book Fairs

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Today I'm on my way home from the Frankfurt Book Fair (as implied, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany). Editor Rebecca Hill and I represented EC at this industry event and had a busy, busy four days. My Friday blog post will talk about our experiences and excitement at FBF; today I'm discussing book fairs in general.

Frankfurt is the largest international book fair among many. London, Bologna, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Sharjah, and on and on... The Frankfurt fair takes up five huge halls, a total of ten floors, of the massive complex here. Several thousand companies participate, representing all parts of the world, although half the fair space is occupied by German businesses. Our EC booth was in the International hall, which had twenty rows stretching the length of the building.

A book fair is a "trade" event--it is for professionals representing the many elements of the publishing industry to come together to conduct business and share information. It is very much not an event for authors, readers, bloggers, bookstores, and so forth--there are no activities for them, the business purpose of the fair is not aimed at them.

[Book Expo America is not really a "book fair" the way others labeled that are. BEA's main function is to provide a venue to promote/publicize new books to those who can influence reader purchases. There are author signings and readings; book promotion videos and talks; free books by the ton given away; sessions for bloggers, for reviewers, for aspiring authors, for bookstore people, for fanatic fans. In other words, the "audience" the event is trying to reach is the general reading public, not the publishing industry.]

So what is the business conducted at Frankfurt and other international book fairs?

(1) Rights sales and licensing: The main function of the Fair is for publishers to sell territorial and translation rights to other publishers, or to license book-related products. For example, Ellora's Cave publishes "worldwide English" in both digital and print; we don't produce our books in other languages. Publishers in other countries buy from us the right to translate and distribute our books (specific titles they select) in their language.

(2) Services: Does a publisher need to find a company to digitally format their books, print them, distribute them (digital or print), market them, ship them, advertise them? Create apps or enhanced ebooks or graphic novels? There are hundreds of companies at the Fair ready to convince you they are the best business partner for your company's needs.

(3) Information and education: Panels and presentations on things that affect the publishing industry. What are the changes and trends going on? What is impacting our markets? How do we predict or prepare for future reader interests? What are the new technologies? What are Amazon, Google, Apple, et al, doing next and how will it affect the whole industry?

A few famous authors come to speak. Arnold Schwartzenegger was here--but the intent of his appearance was not to convince you or me as a reader to buy a copy of his new book. His purpose was to promote his book in a way that would convince publishers outside North America that readers in their countries would love to read about him--and therefore, those publishers should buy translation or territorial rights from his U.S. publisher.

Friday is traditionally another type of "education" day at FBF. That's when university students in programs such as Publishing, Library Sciences or Literature come to try to learn about the industry they want to work in. We spoke to students from Germany, U.S., UK, France and Japan.

There is actually a "public" component to Frankfurt Book Fair. Tuesday through Friday are for business; Saturday and Sunday the halls are open to the general public (for an admission fee). They can come in and browse, see the displays of publishers. It looked like a few booths sold off their display wares. EC gives away any print books and promo items left by Saturday--it's good reader publicity, and it would be too expensive to ship stuff back home. But the main activity for the public was unrelated to books, despite being held at and in conjunction with the Book Fair. Because it's just a few weeks before Halloween, there were huge costume contests going on in the German halls. Imaginatively and elaborately dressed people everywhere... And the parking lots were filled with stalls selling food, clothing, jewelry, knick-knacks--not book-related, just sort of a general craft fair.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tattooed Librarians

You don't still subscribe to the old cliche that librarians are dull and straitlaced, do you? If so, take a look at these women flaunting their profession.

Courtesy of Mental Floss, "11 Amazing Librarian Tattoos"

My three favorites: 
It's a card catalog!


And of course the Tarot card. Funny, I have dozens of Tarot decks, and I don't remember seeing a Librarian card. ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Plural People

by Raelene Gorlinsky

"There are men and women in the scene. How do I easily refer to the group?"

We always, as writers and editors, want some variation in words. It's repetitive and boring to use people hundreds of times in the book. But what else works when the group in the orgy room includes both male and female bodies, or the group of friends giving you advice on your love life comprises men and women?

Depending on the circumstances or the relationship of the group members to each other, try some of these:

general public
guys - As a singular noun, this is male. But it is now accepted as colloquial use for a mixed-gender group.
menage -The original meaning is a group of people living together. A specific number is not implied, it can be more than just "a trois".
peeps (in its contemporary colloquial usage, not meaning the Easter candy)

Or, if the people have something in common such as profession or activity, refer to them by that group term: teachers, joggers, soldiers, actors (which includes male and female), millionaires, revelers, orgiasts.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Getting Started at EC

by author Margaret L. Carter
(see contest at end)

Before I became an Ellora’s Cave author, in addition to my print publications (mostly nonfiction on the supernatural in literature) I’d had a few e-books published already. They were full-length novels, however. When I wrote Night Flight, a vampire romance novella that I felt needed more extensive and explicit sex than any of my past vampire fiction, I didn’t know what to do with it. In those bygone days novella markets were scarce. I unsuccessfully submitted the story to the only suitable prospect I knew of, an erotic romance paperback anthology series.

Then I heard about Ellora’s Cave. A publisher that specialized in erotic romance, wanted paranormal—and accepted stand-alone novellas.

I already knew some of the advantages of e-publishing. E-pubs were flexible about length. They kept their doors wide open to different genres, crossovers and varieties of subject matter, such as embracing vampires when many conventional publishers decreed that vampires were “over”. E-pubs invited electronic submissions, a BIG time- and money-saver for authors. They answered submissions quickly (as opposed to a year or more of waiting with traditional novel markets) and put newly accepted books on the publication schedule with equally prompt timing. They offered frequent, open communication between editors and authors. E-pubs even allowed authors to give input on cover art. In addition to the versatility of e-books, they can also stay on sale forever. No longer does an author have to worry that her backlist will fade into oblivion.

Ellora’s Cave featured another advantage—a market for short works, a boon for me because the novella seems to be my natural length. (Other e-publishers later ventured into shorter length stand-alone fiction, but at the time EC was one of the few.) And one more surprise perk—monthly royalty checks!

I’m proud to write for a publisher that made a reputation as the groundbreaker in its field and garnered so much respect for erotic romance and electronic publishing. Ellora’s Cave got there before it was hot and in fact helped to make it hot.

In honor of the EC anniversary celebration, I’ll give away a 2013 Ellora’s Cavemen calendar to a random winner. If you’d like a chance to win a calendar, please e-mail me at MLCVamp (at) aol.com.

Website: Margaretlcarter.com  (Carter's Crypt)
EC author page: http://www.jasminejade.com/m-39-margaret-l-carter.aspx

Friday, October 5, 2012

That's a Bookstore?


Amazing what you can turn into a bookstore. See the article for photos of bookstores in what used to be movie theatres, old factories, a firehouse, a railway station, a canal boat, a church and a funeral parlor. My favorite is the one that used to be a circular manure tank. (The article reassures that it now smells like paper and books, not manure!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Weak Words

By copy editor Victoria Reese
He contemplated the miniscule chamber, its prosaic tile at odds with the neo-modernistic appurtenances.
Excuse me? I honestly had a writer once who used words like this in the novel he was writing. The above sentence is a description of a bathroom in an old farmhouse. Although I consider myself well-read and familiar with the English language, I had trouble getting through his story. This is an example of PhD language. Words that are too full of themselves or using language that sends the reader running for the dictionary.
If your reader has to stop to figure out what you’re saying, you’ve lost him or her. The use of simple words does not always mean dull or uninteresting. For instance, walk may be dull; stroll is simple but descriptive and interesting; perambulate is verbose. Consider the following examples:
Dull?                   Interesting           Over the Top
cart                      carriage               conveyance
wordy                   glib                     loquacious
name                    moniker              sobriquet
Hopefully you see the pattern here. Use colorful, interesting language but don’t require your reader to check the dictionary every other sentence.
When we write, we tend to use the same favorite words over and over. Like meatloaf or a well-remembered meal from childhood, they’re comfortable. We know them—know how to spell them and use them. Ah, but does that mean they’re good?
Not necessarily. Just like a favorite dessert, too much of anything is not good. Some words that seem perfectly fine are actually weak words that give your writing less impact than it should have.
For instance, Shakespeare didn’t call Katharina a mean woman. He called her a shrew. When a cat is chasing a mouse, it doesn’t jump suddenly. It pounces. A teenage boy wolfs his food. The words shrew, pounce and wolf are stronger than the lukewarm phrases they replace. Search your manuscript for overused or lukewarm nouns and verbs and see if you can’t find a better way to say it with stronger words.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How Lucky Can You Get?

By B.J. McCall

I write love stories that sizzle. That’s my objective from the first paragraph. I love sexy, alpha male heroes. They may be human, werewolf or vampire, gun-toting, sword-wielding or mindbender, but they are the take-charge kind of guys. I want my soldier, mercenary, detective, prisoner, celestial warrior or prince hero ready to give up all for my heroine.

I like feisty heroines. Maybe that’s why I love the sci-fi, urban-fantasy and paranormal genres. My heroines can be soldiers, mercenaries and spaceship pilots. I want them tough but feminine. I want them to share in the adventure and have toe-curling sex. In “Silk”, in the Seasons of Seduction anthology, my heroine is a private spaceship pilot transporting a dangerous prisoner who is a mindbender. Although Rhys Adon doesn’t physically touch Lisin Silk, their first encounters are hot. In Scarlet Tear, Ceyla is a pirate’s prize but the sexy pirate isn’t winning a submissive slave. Ceyla is plotting her escape.

In every book, I want a really sizzling moment. I want my readers to fall in love with my hero and wish they were the heroine. Writing for Ellora’s Cave has allowed me to reach for that sizzle. I can’t believe I’m an official “EC decade author”.

Electronic publishing was new when I heard about Ellora’s Cave. The conveyor of the news was Kate Douglas. At the time I had been published by a small print press specializing in erotic novellas. My latest submission, an erotic sci-fi story, had been turned down and Kate suggested I try Ellora’s Cave. My story was accepted.

That was a decade ago, the story was Icy Hot and my relationship with EC had begun. Electronic publishing has flourished, forever changing the world of publishing. Erotica has become a popular option for readers and Ellora’s Cave has set a standard for the industry to follow.

Icy Hot was the beginning. I’m still writing for EC and loving every minute. I am privileged to have stories in five of the fantastic Cavemen anthologies.

This is my decade year and I’m included in another great EC anthology. “Kela’s Guardian”, a paranormal demon story, will be published in Something Wicked This Way Comes Volume 4. I have just signed a contract for a werewolf story titled Pleasure Pact and I’m looking forward to more exciting years with Ellora’s Cave. I’m doing what I love with a great group of people. How lucky can you get?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Way Back When

by Madeleine Oh

When Raelene told me about the Original Bad Girls of Romance promotion, it set me thinking. Had it really only been ten years? (Ten years might seem a l-o-n-g period to some readers, but I’ve notched so many decades that ten years seems like a hiccup in time!)  Only ten years to pretty much change the romance market in the US?  With Tina at the lead, we’ve really been game changers. Back in the days before EC, if you wanted a really hot read, your best bet was to cross the pond for something along the lines of a Black Lace--but there you couldn’t be sure of a HEA.

Then came Tina and EC and the US romance world shifted on its axis.

How did I get caught up in all this fun? Pure serendipity. Okay, somewhat impure serendipity and a profound love of naughty stories.

It all began when my writer friend Dominique Adair mentioned she’d just sold a novella to a fantastic new company publishing very erotic romance and why didn’t I send them something? Sounded like a good idea but I was knee deep in another project and shelved the idea for ‘later on’.

Fast forward a couple of months and I get an email from EC. Bear in mind that back then the entire management of EC was two people: Tina and Crissy.  (Seems incredible now, with the staff and premises in Akron today but that’s how it was.)

Anyway, about this e-mail... They were asking me if I had a book to send them. Talk about flattered. Stunned might be a good word, but seems one of their regular readers (and back then they already had an army of enthusiastic readers who bought just about every book as it was released) asked why they didn’t have anything by me, as she loved my stories.

Once I recovered from the shock and surprise, I replied that sadly I didn’t have anything but would keep them in mind. About 24 hours later, I remembered I did have a book. Well, maybe. I e-mailed back that I had a full-length novel I’d written for a UK publisher and had rejected. I wasn’t sure if it was exactly what EC wanted but attached it in hopes.

That book was Power Exchange. It turned out it was what EC was looking for.  So, after rewriting a couple of scenes, they accepted it and sent me a contract.

I still have that original contract: two pages, signed by Tina, selling e-rights for one year, the books to be sold sold as downloads and CDs.

Power Exchange was published ( and ultimately translated into German) and readers and reviewers so enjoyed the naughty world of Annie, her lover Mark and their kinky friends that several novellas set in the same world followed.  I had a wonderful time writing  them but finally left my characters  to have their fun and went on to write other books.

Now, thinking back now on those early books, I couldn’t help wondering what my friends Annie and Mark et al, have been doing the past decade. Curiosity piqued, I decided it was time to revisit their world.

I’ve started a new "Annie" book, or rather what I think will be a new series of novellas. It’s ten years on; a much more confident and sexually aware Annie declined to follow Mark after a job transfer sent him to Hong Kong. A few months later, she found herself unemployed.  (I do so love to throw trouble at my characters.) At a loose end and worried about money, she takes on the job of renovating an old mansion belonging to John Kent (remember him?) and Annie’s Aunt Ellen.  Her job is restore it and turn it into a B&B--but not your usual tourist B&B. This will be a far more interesting establishment.

I am having a fantastic time and Annie is meeting some new and interesting men. I think she’s going to play the field a bit before she settles down again.  She’s having fun and so am I. Ten years is a long time, after all.
P.S. There’s a photo of Erbalunga on my Facebook page. Come and have a look.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeleine.oh
Email:  books@madeleineoh.com
Website:  www.madeleineoh.com