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.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: Cause and Effect

by editor Beverly Horne

One of the writer's main goals is to keep the reader's eyes on the page, engrossed in the story. If the reader has to stop and parse what you’ve just written to figure out what’s going on, they’ve just been sucked out of the scene. A common error is to show an effect before the cause. For example:

“What are you doing?” She ran out of his path. Looking up, she saw the silver blade of his shovel swinging forward.

Here, the heroine is engaging in an action, but the timing is out of order. Our brains have to figure out what happened, go back, and piece the events together. That’s bad. The correct order should be:

Looking up, she saw the silver blade of his shovel swinging forward. She ran out of his path. “What are you doing?”

(Or have her talk while running. Only the TSTL heroine would ask the question first before getting out of the way of that deadly shovel aimed at her head.)

This makes sense. We see the action. The character reacts. Then she has the chance to make a retort.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

September 30 through October 6 is Banned Books Week, "the only national celebration of the freedom to read". It is sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression ( This is the thirtieth anniversary.
ABFFE’s mission is to promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books, by opposing restrictions on the freedom of speech; issuing statements on significant free expression controversies; participating in legal cases involving First Amendment rights; collaborating with other groups with an interest in free speech; and providing education about the importance of free expression to booksellers, other members of the book industry, politicians, the press and the public.

Support your right to write what you want, and have people read what they choose. Read some controversial books.

You can also bid in the Banned Books Week Online Auction ( of original children's art from leading illustrators and artists.

ABFFE and the National Coalition Against Censorship are also co-founders of the Kids' Right to Read Project.

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Erotic Romance Writer's Roots

AKA "Thanks, Grandpa"

By Vonna Harper

Dedicating a book is, I suspect, something most writers enjoy doing. It’s certainly true for me.

But think about it for a minute. Here I am, one of Ellora’s Cave’s pioneer (does that mean old?) contributors, thanking her grandfather. No, it has nothing to do with him giving me the birds and bees lecture or—okay, not going there.

Homer Eon Flint (Flindt) was murdered when my mother was only five so he was never part of my world. And yet he was.

Grandpa was a writer. I give him full credit for what writing genes I have (not sure what he’d think of a granddaughter who writes erotic romance and erotica) and am extraordinarily proud of what he accomplished in his thirty-six years of life. He produced three children, but that’s not what I’m talking about. In my possession (I’m the oldest grandchild, so pulled rank) is a precious stack of 1920s pulp magazines containing his science and speculative fiction short stories and novellas. I’m also caretaker of his one book, The Blind Spot, and the manuscripts that never found a publisher—proof that certain realities of the publishing world haven’t changed. As a teenager, I’d hold the magazines with their sexy covers of women in jeopardy, handsome heroes, and evil doers and be in awe of his creativity. He wrote of distant worlds, political unrest, scientific advances and inventions, not sex. Even then I had the itch, the drive, the need to do creative things with words, and here was proof that someone I’m related to could show me the way. He’d climbed the mountain I was just beginning to comprehend.

How I wish we could have talked shop. Compared and contrasted the writing world he lived in with mine. Thanks to the various correspondence Nana kept all her life, I have some idea what his publishing world was like. I’m convinced he’d totally embrace electronic publishing. I’m not sure what he’d think of what Ellora’s Cave offers readers—a little beyond his comfort zone I suspect.

How he’d love computers, word processing, the Internet, etc. I can just see him pitching his manual typewriter out the nearest window. He’d never again have to ship his manuscripts to publishers, editors or agents. (Yes, there were agents in the 1920s.) No more having to go to the local newspaper and pay to have copies made. No more working in isolation except for the one writer living close enough that they could walk to each other’s house.

Sounds like he’d envy what I take for granted, right? Not necessarily. He was in the right place at the right time when the movie industry started to take hold, and he sold more than a half dozen film treatments to at least two companies. Back then (perhaps because he was a regular contributor to the pulps) he was accustomed to having his work read within a matter of days. If he had to wait (horrors!) a month, he’d fire off a to-the-point letter and receive an apology. Even rejections were couched in sincere apology and he was always encouraged to submit again.

When he sold, checks arrived with the acceptance letter. No contracts.

As for the pay, how’s this for an example. (To clarify, the pulps were read by millions.) His last story sold a month before his death—for $400. In 1924. 10,000 words. How much is that in 2012 value?

Instead of bringing him into his future and my present, maybe I should try to time travel back to his day. One thing I’d take to show him is Grandfather Lost, the biography I wrote in honor of him using my real name, Vella Munn.

* * *

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Conference Kelli

Ellora’s Cave Editor-in-Chief Kelli Collins recently attended RWA Nationals, otherwise known as boot camp for authors, in Anaheim, CA. Aside from some mild concern over riots in the area and finding herself woefully short of footwear (no one told her she needed 17 pairs), she enjoyed spending time with EC authors and many aspiring EC authors. She heard several wonderful pitches and hosted an extremely well-attended EC spotlight. On that note, Kelli would like to give an extra-special thanks to Cristal Ryder and Sabrina York, who not only sat on the spotlight with her, but kept her from jumping off the hotel roof in protest of a lack of an erotic romance RITA category.

Two weeks later, and in possession of more shoes, Kelli was at Authors After Dark in New Orleans, where she swears she’ll never go again in August. (Something about a critical frizz problem? We weren’t really listening. We were too upset she didn’t bring us any beignets.) It seems that, despite the humidity, Kelli can’t recommend AAD enough. Aside from being a busy, informative and very successful con, she found it exceptionally erotica and Romantica® friendly. Very refreshing. EC’s swag was a huge hit.

(Wednesday Writing Tips will return next week. We were all too busy admiring Kelli's new shoes to think about grammar.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hog Heaven

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Hmm, I'm having to stretch to figure out how this post relates to writing romances...

Ah, got it! Hunky Harley-riding heroes!

Because...a huge Harley-Davidson shop opened about a mile from our office. I drive by it on my way to and from work each day. My oh my, the motorcycle traffic in the area has certainly increased. I love looking at motorcycles, maybe someday when I'm rich and thin (notice my face turning blue from holding my breath) I will buy one. But meanwhile I cruise by the place and admire everything. And though of course we know real riders aren't like our fictional romance heroes, there are just enough of them on display who look the part to keep me staring.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Being Bad

by Denise A. Agnew

First, thanks so much to Ellora's Cave for the opportunity to blog here and tell you about my experiences as one of the Original Bad Girls.

Before I starting writing for Ellora’s Cave, I was published with two other companies. Erotic romance author Kate Douglas first turned me on to Ellora’s Cave. When I considered sending a manuscript to EC, I wasn't sure I wanted to write erotic romance. At that time, over ten years ago, erotic romance was a lot more taboo than it is now and hadn’t reached the popularity it has found in today’s publishing world.

My writing style tends toward hot and sensuous anyway, so how much of a reach would it be if I wrote just a little bit hotter? One day I had an idea for a story that featured a woman in danger living next to a hot undercover cop, and my first novel with EC was born. While writing The Dare, I hesitated here and there as I wrote the explicit ultrahot scenes with the gritty language. I didn't cringe, but some old tapes played in my head. What will other people think? As I started to really have fun with the story and let it rip, the voice carping in the back of my head that cared what other people thought stopped talking to me. I quickly learned that whenever I censored myself while writing, I always regretted it. My creativity suffered and I didn't feel as if I was being authentic with my writing. I can credit writing The Dare as one of the first steps I made in allowing whatever I wanted to say to find its way to the page in my novels.

When I submitted The Dare to Ellora's Cave, I had a reply in less than a day that EC wanted the book. That was a record for me, and I was thrilled.

Since then I've written a ton of books for Ellora's Cave and it has been a wild ride. Sometimes I look back on all these years and it feels just like yesterday when I waited to see if readers would enjoy The Dare. To this day I still get notes from readers saying it is one of their favorite erotic romances. 

My message to any writer who wishes to create novels with "risky" or "daring" content is: don't hold back. If it is in your heart and soul to write, then it is the right book for you create. Never allow anyone to stifle your writing dream. Write what blows your skirt up and never look back.

* * *
Romantic Times Book Reviews calls Denise A. Agnew’s romantic suspense novels “top-notch”, and she's received their coveted TOP PICK rating. Denise has written paranormal, romantic comedy, contemporary, historical, erotic romance and romantic suspense. Archaeology and archery have crept into her work, and travels through England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have added to a lifetime of story ideas. A paranormal investigator, Denise looks forward to exploring the unknown.  Visit Denise’s website at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: When Words Go Wrong, Part 2

by editor Ann Leveille

Commonly confused or misspelled words. The first part of this list appeared on Sept. 5.

Faze/phase: To faze someone is to disturb them. A phase is a stage in a series or cycle.

Fiancé/fiancée: A man is a fiancé, a woman is a fiancée.

Fluorescent/florescent: The neon colors, or lights, are fluorescent. Florescent means the time and process of the budding and unfolding of blossoms.

Forego/forgo: To forego something is to be earlier in time (go before). To forgo something is to refrain from consuming it.

Further/farther: Further means a nonphysical movement—further in one’s training, for instance. To indicate that there is a lengthening of physical distance, you would use farther.

Home in/hone: To home in on something is to focus on it or to move toward a goal. (You can “home in” or “home in on” something.) To hone something is to sharpen its edge. (There is no such things as “hone in”.)

Imaging/imagining: If you’re imaging something you’re producing an image using a machine. If you’re imagining something then you’re creating a mental picture of it.

Imply/Infer: To imply something is to suggest indirectly. To infer something is to interpret it based on information.

Lay low/lie low. To lay low is to defeat someone (lay them low=knock them down). To lie low is to hide out when someone is looking for you.

Lead/led: You lead a person now. You led a person in the past.

Lightening/lightning: To lighten something is to make something weigh less. Lightning occurs during thunderstorms.

Peek/peak/pique: You peek through shutters to check outside, a mountain has a peak, and you can have a fit of pique when you’re annoyed.

Premier/Premiere: Premier means first or best in importance. A premiere is the opening night of a performance.

Principal/Principle: A principal is main or first. A principle is a rule or doctrine.

Prone/supine: Prone means lying face down (on your stomach). Supine means lying with your face up (on your back).

Rein/reign: Rein is used most often in phrases like “free rein” and “rein in”. To reign means to rule.

Rigid/Turgid/Tumid: Rigid means to be stiff, hard or strict. Turgid means swollen and distended. Tumid means swollen.

Shudder/Shutter: A person can shudder in disgust or horror. One hangs a shutter on a window.

Staunch/Stanch: Staunch means firm, steadfast, faithful. To stanch is to stop the flow of blood.

Taunt/Taut: You taunt someone when you call them names. One’s stomach is taut (tight, firm).

Tic/tick: Tic is a noun and refers to an involuntary muscle spasm. A tick is a light clicking noise, a mark made to check off items, or a bloodsucking insect. You can’t say “his jaw ticked” unless it’s somehow making a clicking noise.

Trois/trios: Trios means groups of three. When referring to a sexual act with three participants, it’s a menage a trois (from the French).

Vice/vise: A vice is a bad habit or sin. A vise is a clamping device or motion.

Vicious/viscous: To be vicious is to be evil, spiteful, malicious. To be viscous is to be thick and non-flowing.

Wrack/rack: Wrack is a noun, referring to wrecking and ruin. To strain or torment someone is to rack them (a verb).

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Path Less Traveled

by Joey W. Hill

Back in the late nineties, I’d done all the usual things. Poured over Writer’s Market, double-checked publisher requirements and sent painstakingly prepared queries to all the traditional publishers. My offering was Guardian of the Continuum, a book I categorized as a “fantasy romance”. Longer than the typical genre story, it had a strong central romance around which the paranormal elements revolved.

I was informed that “cross-genre” work didn’t interest traditional publishers, because it wouldn’t sell. Readers didn’t want a strong fantasy plotline mixed with a lot of romance. Yes, for those of you wondering, I was offering what is called paranormal romance today. You know…that genre that currently dominates the romance shelves because readers can’t get enough of it? (lol)

About that time, I learned about some new publishers willing to contract work that didn’t fit the marketing mold. The only catch was they only published online. Among my peers, the reaction to that was consistently negative. E-publishing was little different from offering it for free, an act of desperation. These publishers had no credibility in the book world, and who wanted to read a book on a computer screen, anyway?

Despite the creative left brain stuff, I’m a practical girl. No one else wanted it, so what did I have to lose? Plus, along with epublishers, there was a new support network out there – the online review sites, the predecessors of our vital book blog sites. They were happy to receive my online book, now published by Dark Star Publications, and talk about it. Because of that, I was able to attract e-publisher interest in my next work. An erotic romance.

Before I wrote Make Her Dreams Come True, I liked writing my sex pretty spicy, but it still would have passed muster on the mainstream shelves. However, as I began to tell Meg’s story, I took a left turn. It was supposed to be about her meeting a sexy stranger (supposedly by chance) in a mall. In the course of a day, Daniel helps her embrace life and love again through a variety of sexy and romantic interactions. Instead, Daniel evolved into a Dom who gained enough of her trust to take the reins. He used her submission to help her embrace her sexuality and discover a self-confidence she’s never known. All within the setting of the mall—Daniel was a pretty miraculous guy!

Okay, here’s where I admit I was an idiot. Before I found out there was epublisher interest in the book, I tried the traditional publishing route. Yes, I’m a little slow. AGAIN, I was reminded that readers don’t want cross-genre work. Literary erotica OR romance was what publishers sold, not “erotic romance”. Well, I’d read literary erotica. Depressing and dysfunctional, most of the time it made me think of sex as a psychological disorder. The last literary erotica piece I ever read had the couple having sex on the floor next to the “hero’s” dead fiancée. Did I mention he dressed the corpse in her intended wedding dress? Ick. To the max. (Sorry, Valley Girl/Nicholas Cage flashback there.)

Fortunately, I did stumble on two stories at that time that gave me hope. Roarke’s Prisoner by Angela Knight, and Exit to Eden by Anne Rice. Great stories that offered emotion, romance and hot sex, they made me think: “yea, that’s how it’s done!”

I’ve always loved romance, and now that I’d discovered a penchant for integrating it with the intense emotion of Dominant/submissive love stories, I knew that’s what I wanted to write. Meg and Daniel helped me embrace my own submissive nature, and I couldn’t wait to explore it more with other characters. Fortunately, thanks to some excellent contacts in the online world, and the fact I was more in tune with who was doing what, I found a publisher, Dreams Unlimited, who was very interested in erotic romance.

As I said earlier, epublishing was in its infancy then. When Dreams Unlimited closed its doors, MHDCT moved over to another small epublisher, who also went under. Then it was moved to an epublisher who took it out of professional regard, but didn’t really want to be in the erotic field. That’s when my editor from Dark Star Publishing (which had also gone out of business), told me she was working for an erotic romance publisher that was starting to gain traction – Ellora’s Cave. Thanks to that recommendation, I found a home and a solid springboard to launch the Nature of Desire series, which has formed the foundation for my current erotic romance career.

A few years back, I remember getting an email from a reader that said, “When are you going to be published by a real publisher, instead of Ellora’s Cave?” In that reader’s mind, the only “real” publishers came out of New York. I don’t get asked that question anymore. Ebooks might have been the path less traveled, but I’m so glad I took that fork in the road. And today I have a lot of company –some of the most awesome authors in the romance field, as well as a fan base of adventurous, diverse readers.

A romance writer can’t ask for a better happy ending than that.

Note: In honor of being one of the “Original Bad Girls of Romance”, I will be offering some great giveaways into September. All the needed info will be posted at the following outlets!
Website: (look for Original Bad Girls header on home page)
Like me on Facebook: JoeyWHillAuthor
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeyWHill
Fan Forum: (Original Bad Girls thread under Running Contests)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cover Reveal! Shadow by Laurann Dohner

Okay, all you New Species fans! The next book (9) will be Shadow. We don't have a release date yet, but probably very late October or early November.

So what do you think of the cover? Seven of the eight previous in the series were front torso shots, one from the side. This is sorta side-back. Like those hunky shoulders, broad back and trim tummy?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Writing Tips: When Words Go Wrong, Part 1

by editor Ann Leveille

We all know about homonyms, words that are spelled or sound the same as other words but have different meanings. Most writers take time to check for homonymous errors in their writing before submitting. But there are also words that are commonly misused or commonly misspelled, that authors might miss because they’re simply not looking for them.

So a list of such things might be helpful, we thought. Guides were consulted. Editors were polled. A list was compiled to help you rid your manuscript of words that might not quite be what you mean to say. I hope you find it helpful!

Accent/Accentuate: You can use a lamp as an accent piece in a home, but you decorate to accentuate, or draw attention to, a huge window with a great view.

Adrenalin/adrenaline: Adrenalin is actually the brand name of a drug, so when you’re talking about your hero’s rush of adrenaline, you need that final “e”.

Adverse/averse: Adverse means opposing, antagonistic, unfavorable. Averse means having a feeling of distaste or aversion, to be strongly disinclined.

Anymore/any more: Anymore is used when referring to time. Any more is used when referring to the quantity of something.

Aid/aide: Aid is help, and aide is an assistant or helper.

Areola/Aureola: An areola is the dark area around a nipple. An aureola is a halo, especially surrounding a religious figure.

Breach/breech: A breach is a failure to follow a rule, or a hole made in a line of defense. Babies are occasionally breech (born butt first), and men wore breeches (covering their butts).

Callous/callus: A callous person is emotionally insensitive. Some people will develop a callus on their hands or feet from repetitive labor, or even from spending a lot of time barefoot.

Capital/capitol: The capital is the seat of government, or it is your material wealth and assets. In some novels it also means first-rate, excellent. The capitol is the building where the legislature meets.

Cement/concrete: Cement is powdered lime and clay mixed with other elements, and it also means to bring together or bond something. Concrete is a hard building material made of sand and gravel mixed with cement, and also means real, actual.

Clench/clinch: You clench your teeth when you hold them tightly together. A clinch is two people holding each other around the body with one or both arms.

Complement/compliment/complimentary: If something complements, it means it fits and accentuates. You pay someone a compliment. Free items are complimentary.

Confidant/confidante/confident: If the person you can trust with your secrets is male, he’s a confidant; if it’s a woman, she’s a confidante. Confident means self-assured.

Crumple/crumble: You crumple paper or sheets, that is, you crush or wrinkle them. You crumble cookies, or buildings crumble—fall into small pieces.

Deprecate/Depreciate: To deprecate is to express disapproval of or protest against. To depreciate something is to belittle it or lower it in value.

Discrete/discreet: Discrete means a separate part, or entity. If you’re being prudent, careful, modest and restrained, you’re being discreet.
Part 2, lots more misused words, will appear on Sept. 12.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Looking Forward to the Teenage Years

By Elizabeth Lapthorne

More than ten years ago, incredibly sick with the flu and bedridden for over two weeks, I followed, enthralled, on the EC chat loop while readers and authors collaborated on a series of fun, free short stories. It revolved around a special, mythical place—The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Readers added to a table on the database section of the Yahoo group— character ideas (names and one or two sentence descriptions) and a list of objects were given as props. Mysterious suitcases, handcuffs, rubber duckies, and so on.

Authors were challenged to take the characters and one or more items and create a sexy story with them. I played along, got caught up in my characters, and the short scene became a novella-length story. Next thing I knew, my friends were urging me to submit the story—and the rest, as they say, is history. Justin and Caroline still bring a smile to my face and ten years later I remain proud of Payback, my first book.

From day one all the way to my most recent email with my editor, all the staff I’ve come into contact with have made me feel a welcome, respected part of EC. I’ve spoken to possibly hundreds of people, both within and outside of EC, and everyone agrees EC has a close-knit, warm and professional feel. EC hit the market with big names, big sales and effectively they play with the big boys—but still retain the backyard feel from where it all started. It’s an amazing journey and one I plan to continue on with.

I’m only one of a bunch of decade authors for EC: the Original Bad Girls of Romance. All of us are doing various promo in conjunction with EC, freebies, blogs and fun things on Facebook, Twitter and so forth. Friend us and come join the fun!

EC has flourished in the publishing industry, growing and changing with and ahead of even the big boys in New York. I’m thrilled and proud to still be an active author with them. I’m also excited and looking forward to what the teenage years bring to us all. Awkward, pimply and gangly are not on the agenda, I’m sure. I see more of a lush, curvaceous growth and settling into our own skin, rediscovering and improving upon our sexuality and all the risks, dares and adventures that one could possibly hope for.

Bring it on, I say!

Feel free to email me at . I love to hear from readers and fans.