In the last couple years I've noticed a decline in the number of on-line reviews I receive for my releases. I realize it's a case of too many books, not enough reviewers. And I know I shouldn't care about reviews anyway...but what can I say. I do care. I always hope the reviewer enjoys the story because she's a reader, first and foremost. And the readers are who I write for.
So I was thrilled to get a great review for my latest Ellora's Cave release, Chains of Desire. Even more thrilling was the personal e-mail from the reviewer, telling me how much she enjoyed my writing. That made it even more special.
You can read the review here.
I've also found out that Chains of Desire will be coming out in print later this year. It should be out in time for me to sign it at the booksigning at Ellora's Cave's first Romanticon this October.
I'm looking forward to meeting readers and other authors. And maybe even a few reviewers. So who else is going to the Romanticon this year??
Woohoo!! Hope you will drop by and vote. It only takes a second. If we win we'll get some wonderful free promo. Thanks!!!
Earlier in the week we received a fantastic, 5 cherries review from them:
"Heart's Storm by Liane Gentry Skye is a delightful romance mixing an alpha Navy SEAL with a real ocean lady, a mermaid. In this fast moving tale, we have a man of honor suffering from a tragedy which ends up far larger than he realized. Then there’s the lovely mermaid who’s forced to accept the mantle of responsibility but suddenly comes face to face with the horrible reality that she has to choose between the only love she’s ever known and duty. Top it off with a plotting evil villain who is psychotic enough to be an excellent depiction of a sadistic megalomaniac and Heart Storm delivers a fun read. Get ready for a hero and heroine to root for, a great bad guy to boo and hiss at, and a satisfying happily ever after.
The Boy Next Door by Hannah Murray opens with a chuckle inducing bathtub scene that had me grinning from ear to ear. The dialogue in the kitchen was incredible and after the wine, oh, my gosh, I felt like I was really there, listening in. And I knew things were going to get interesting especially when Jacob got her to tell him her definition of ‘vanilla’. There’s some great storytelling during that scene which inspires hot flashes. The part when she comes home from running is hot too, lots of excellent build-up and tension. I was totally hooked when the present on the table shows up because Jacob’s one word response to Isabella’s question about the object ended up being like the firing of the starting gun at a race but the end point in this story is seduction. This is well written, hot and full of fun. I liked this one.
Devil in a Kilt by Nicole North is a time traveling romance with a brawny Scottsman under a curse. There’s a lot of heart in this story as well as heat. There are a few plot conflicts that interweave, between personal angst, a vile witch and the breaking of the aforementioned curse. I enjoyed Gavin, the hero, and his kilt wearing ways. Shauna, the heroine, was the perfect balance of modern day independence and sexual freedom which put her as the perfect counterpoint to Gavin’s alpha Laird. She’s not loose or scatterbrained, she is a strong woman who stands up for herself and her dialogue was crackerjack sharp. Also, I liked that Shauna isn’t afraid to enjoy the benefits of Gavin’s…kilt. Their coming together was pure romance. The battle or skirmish reminded me of the daring do of the old Errol Flynn movies – dashing and manly. It was very exciting.
The Bet by Leigh Court is a cute story about two bored men who make a bet and one, Damien, ends up winning something more valuable than a horse. Claire is the virginal heroine whose fascination with learning about other cultures leads to both her downfall and her delight. This story is sweet in that it follows the adage that sometimes the best things in life are right under your very nose. The use of the Kama Sutra was quite clever and it made me laugh. Not that it’s laugh out loud funny, though there are a few moments where you smile, but Claire’s fascination with it and what it eventually leads to; it’s a wonderful tool for seduction and the author used it well. I liked this story too because of the way their love grew, like a taffy-pull. “Should she? Oh, proper ladies don’t do that sort of thing. But how do they…?” See what I mean? The Bet is a well told tale of seduction and romance.
With this great combination of authors and plots, this anthology is a "must-buy". I highly recommend it."
Review by Xeranthemum
As I sat down to write this week's blog, I admit my Erotic Romance author mind took over a bit and I ended up struggling to figure out the difference in A Clothes Make the Man theme and our ever-fascinating Eye Candy theme. So forgive me if this post comes across a little eye candy-ish. Really, it's not my fault, my muse just grabbed hold and ran!
If clothes make the man, then what does his choice in underwear say? In my, ahem, research, I discovered I could spend hours trying to find the answer. There's a website dedicated to what your favorite celebrity wears (www.boxers-or-briefs.com), and Hasbro even has a board game called Boxers or Briefs? (http://tinyurl.com/lcmqfb)! That cracked me up, LOL.
So girls (and guys, too!), what do you think ? What's your preference?
Let the debate begin!
The 4th story in my Vaughn series released on Tuesday and I'm really excited. Jackson turned out to be one of my favorite heroes. He's so ornery and it's just so sexy!
This is Jackson. He's ex-military and very sure of himself...at least he was until Grace Vaughn showed up in his life. She turns him inside out. (She IS a Vaughn after all, lol) And being the glutton that he is he can't get enough of her smartass attitude. She's his match in every way. I loved watching the sparks fly as I wrote their story!
A hard man is good to find…and impossible to resist.
The Vaughn Series, Book 4
Since a car accident left her unable to have children, Grace Vaughn has hidden her heart behind a wall. So far it’s held strong, and no one complains much—except the few men she dates.
Now that fortress is crumbling thanks to Jackson Hill, an annoyingly attractive man who makes her imagination go wild just watching him in the office. He’s practically bullied her into attending a Vegas conference with him. Three days alone with the delicious Jackson—in Sin City, no less—is sure to push her right over the edge.
With a loving family, a decent bank account, a nice set of clubs, Jackson’s life is almost complete. Except for the missing piece. Grace. She sets a fire in his blood, and the conference is the perfect crowbar to get past her defense mechanisms. It’s time to see if the bump-and-grind potential in that booty of hers can be channeled into something a little more satisfying than looking.
He’s got just the tactic to get her to let down her guard—and hopefully her panties. A wicked bet. Because if there’s one thing he knows about Grace, she can’t resist a double-dog-dare…
Warning: This title contains graphic sex, rope bondage, anal sex, and a deliciously inventive hero who just happens to be really good with knots and doling out spankings.
Read An Excerpt Online
I'm also VERY excited to say that Tempting Grace is at #2 on the Samhain bestseller list. Thanks to ALL who bought a copy!
And because I'm so happy, I figured it might be a good time for a contest. I'm giving away one copy of my upcoming menage "Reckless Exposure". (due out Sept 1st) For a chance to win answer this question:
Do you prefer a menage where the three partners live together, happily ever after? Or, do you prefer when the story ends with the two main characters in love? In othe words, the menage aspect is only part of the story...
Clothes don’t think, you say. So how can they be smart or dumb? (Aside from those stupid pants that just don’t minimize your derriere the way they should.)
When electronics are crossed with high tech fabrics, clothes will appear to think. Nanotechnology will allow sensors and simple computers to be placed within textile fibers, thereby allowing clothes to be far more than a means of covering the body.
Here, in no particular order, are some innovations that people are working on:
Clothes to keep track of your body’s health. The fabric monitors the body’s vital signs to detect infections and illnesses at their earliest stages.
In a similar vein, how about a smart bra to detect breast cancer at an early stage? Supposedly, the sensors will detect abnormal temperature changes (which are associated with cancer cells) in breast tissue.
Clothes that change color at different temperatures? Well, don’t you want to know if that man gets hot just from looking at you?
Clothes that generate their own energy to power your personal electronics, such as ipods, cell phones, etc.
Clothes that repel insects. Handy, but this next one is better.
Clothes that repel men! That is, men you think are creepy. How does this work? Someone is working on a fabric system that releases small bursts of scent so that you can slightly adjust your scent to repel someone at will. If that’s not enough for you, you could try the “No Contact Jacket” which gives an electroshock to someone trying to grab you. (You’d probably get a seat on the subway with that gear.)
The scent system also is supposed to work to allow you to attract someone. Now that could be useful in a romance novel.
Here’s one that I would never be able to resist – clothes that clean themselves!! A winner!
How about clothes that show images, animation and messages so you can communicate without speaking. Hmmm…don’t we have enough ways to do that already?
Why did I do this research? I was writing a futuristic novel which will be under contract soon and I thought it might useful to think about what people might wear in the future. Actually, I was quite surprised to uncover all these ideas scientists have about how to make our "second skins" more useful. (This research is mainly funded by the military, medical and sports industries.)
I did discover that some things never change. Check out these images of clothes of the future.
On the right, the woman, is looking - sexually available! (Or at least that's a common male fantasy of an available woman.)
Though at least some of these scientific innovations seem useful, I can't help but think that clothing will always be as much for decoration as for function. What do you think?
Welcome, Shawn and thanks for providing all this great information! Why do you like to wear nothing but kilts?
I bought my first kilt after I started taking bagpipe lessons. I figured I better get used to them before I had to wear one during performances. As it turned out, there was nothing to get used to! I liked wearing kilts so much that I stopped wearing anything else. There were some adjustments that I needed to make. The first thing I learned was that you really shouldn't bend at the waist. Unfortunately, I learned that lesson in a room full of my girlfriend's friends. The second thing I learned is if you walk next to a wall and there's a quick gust of wind, your kilt ends up flat against your back. Otherwise, kilts are surprisingly well behaved on windy days. Other bonuses include riding in convertible cars and floor mounted air-conditioning vents.
Whoa! Okay, this is giving me some visuals. :)
There's also the connection to the past. I have several Scottish clans in my family including Gordon, Mac Neil of Bara, Campbell and MacDonald. I know, I know... Campbell and MacDonald... sometimes I have to beat myself senseless in my sleep to keep the feud going. :) Occasionally someone recognizes the tartan I'm wearing and I'll meet someone I'm distantly related to.
LOL!! Too funny! We were just discussing the Campbell MacDonald feud in one of my groups. What other interesting things can you tell us about kilts?
You're a romance writer so I'm assuming you're interested some of the more intimate details of kilt wearing. Kilts don't have pockets, of course, so the solution to that is the sporran. What is less obvious is that the sporran is a modesty shield. When you drop your sporran, there's no doubt about what it was keeping in check. Kilts are not pleated in front so the apron of the kilt just follows any contours that are under it.
See, this is yet another reason women like kilts on men so much. So, what kind of reaction do you generally get from women (strangers) when you wear a kilt?
The reaction I get from women is overwhelmingly positive. Kilts are the male version of the wet t-shirt. If you wear a kilt, you'd better be prepared for women behaving badly. Boston is a college town and this time of year we get a flood of new students. The other day I was standing outside my house and two college age women started yelling at me in French (I assumed they were actually French). The only words I understood were 'ooooooooww!" and 'keeelt!' In another case a woman grabbed my rear end in front of her boyfriend. More commonly, I get cat-called by women driving by. I just smile and wave.
In general, I get asked the typical question, "What's under your kilt?" I have a bunch of stock answers... The sidewalk.... Socks and shoes... etc. More conservative women ask if I wear kilts for comfort to which I reply "No, convenience." I also get photographed a lot. Even more so when I'm walking my Irish Wolfhound, Fergus. He's a handsome hound and more of a ham than I am.
While not strictly kilt related, another thing that women seem to like is the sgian dubh, the 4" knife that's tucked into your kilt hose. I have two. One is a Scottish stag horn coronet handle and the other is black wood with a silver and amethyst stylized thistle pommel. Women will crouch down or get on their knees to get a closer look at it and run their hands over it. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
Umm, I think they may be trying to take a peek. Okay, and what is the reaction from men to your kilt?
I get a mixed reaction from men. The guys who don't get it tend to be guys who clearly have insecurity issues. Jocks or office workers who only wear cotton twill pants and tasseled loafers seem to be the most common. A couple of weeks ago some guy in olive Dockers, loafers and this ridiculously loud Hawaiian shirt snorted "What? Are you from Scotland?" I just looked at him and said "What? Are you from Hawaii?" and then laughed. These guys get really freaked out in the men's room. Often a guy will walk into the men's room, see me at the urinal, turn around and walk right out. I get a chuckle out of that every time.
The guys who get it are either butch construction worker types or successful business men (think Mr. Big from Sex and the City). I've had a bunch of conversations with tradesmen about whether you can get any work done in a kilt. I tell them that heavy lifting etc. is actually easier in a kilt because you don't have to hike up your trousers, but if they do any work on ladders their coworkers may or may not appreciate the view. Then they ask if they really have to go 'commando'. I'll tell them there's not really a rule per se, but we get the word commando from the Highland regiments. The drill sergeant would carry a mirror on the end of a rod and walk behind each man. If anyone was caught wearing underwear, he was officially out of uniform. Besides, answering 'boxers' to the classic question would be kinda lame.
That's true. Have you worn a traditional great kilt or belted plaid? If so what did you think of it and was it difficult to put on or wear?
I don't own a great kilt. I do want to get one, but I probably won't until I join a band like Albannach. The time it takes to hand-pleat the cloth alone would make wearing one with any frequency impractical at best. I do like the way they look, though. They also make for dramatic disrobing. Unhook the belt (the only thing keeping the kilt together) and pull the buckle - the kilt drops and you're standing there naked with a three inch wide belt in your hand. Wait, now I'm thinking I should get one of these sooner rather than later.
LOL! Well, now I know I wrote my historical Highland heroes disrobing properly. :) Speaking of real Highlanders and their environment, what is it like wearing a kilt when it's cold out?
Kilts are actually warmer than most people think. In fact, in the summer, even a light weight kilt can be uncomfortably warm. In the winter I wear thick wool kilt hose which are actually warmer than your typical pair of pants. On really cold New England winter days, I wear a full length wool overcoat that is essentially an Inverness cape with sleeves. When I'm dressed for the weather, I'm actually more comfortable than the people around me who have waist length jackets and jeans on. There were two snow storms last winter where shoveling the snow was a bit uncomfortable, but it would have been uncomfortable even if I was wearing jeans... and I can shovel much faster in a kilt so it's worth it.
Interesting. What are you favorite kilt accessories, aside from the sgian dubh?
Hmmm... Not sure if I have a favorite kilt accessory. Kilt pins are fun. Right now my favorite pin has a small St. Andrew holding up his cross. No matter how bad a Monday is, I can look down at the poor bastard and say 'Could be worse.' :) The sporran is definitely more useful. There's no transferring your wallet, etc. to the next day's outfit. In the evening you take it off and in the morning you put it back on.
What do you think of the non-tartan kilts, like the Utilikilt, and do you wear them?
First, there are non-tartan traditional kilts. The Irish wear saffron colored solid kilts... but I know what you're saying. I have four Utilikilts that I wear mostly for yard work. I wouldn't try to pass them off as anything but functional. Occasionally, someone makes a comment that Utilikilts not 'real' kilts and I point out that since their pants don't lace up the middle, they aren't 'real' pants. The point being that clothing changes over time.
I actually think these comments say a lot about traditional kilts. From Roman times through the 16th century, the kilt (brat) was basically a woolen cloak. Then from the 16th century up until the early 18th century there was the great kilt. Since the switch from great kilts to kilts that have the pleats stitched in place, there hasn't really been a need to change the design in the past 200 years. It's pretty impressive that the kilt has only had two major design changes in the past 2000 years! If modern kilts have some design changes that make life easier, I really don't see a problem with that even if they are less formal.
I think one of the big problems with Utilikilts is they're often worn by guys who have trouble dressing themselves in general... kilts, pants or otherwise. Kilts are about the waist and calves. If you're the type of guy who can't stand to have your shirt tucked in, don't wear any type of kilt, you'll look ridiculous.
When I visited Scotland, I only saw a few men in kilts (maybe 3 or 4) and they were usually playing bagpipes outside a tourist attraction or else they were tour guides. I've heard Scottish men don't like to wear kilts these days. Is this true and if so why?
Well, if you're playing the pipes, you'll just look better in a kilt... unless you're from northern France. Le Bagad Cap Caval from Brittany wear trousers when they perform, which is their custom.
I have a few acquaintances who are Scottish (in Scotland) and like wearing kilts but only wear them for special occasions. I think there's an aversion to kilts among Scottish men because of the stereotype or because it's an old-fashioned style of dress. It may be similar to people who live in older London flats who absolutely detest their fireplaces. I love my fireplace, but theirs reminds them of an outdated form of heating... something that poor people who couldn't afford gas heating had to use. Not being Scottish myself, I can't be 100% certain, but this is the impression I get.
I bet you're right. Scottish men need to know that women love kilts, so put some on, guys! Give a few American women tourists a thrill. :) Thanks so much for being here today, Shawn, to give your very honest, candid and fun answers to our questions! This is important research information, for me especially, because most of the heroes of my stories wear kilts. And when I write from the male point of view, I need to get the kilt info right.
So, ladies, do you have any other questions?
In short, the nature vs. nurture debate is about what influences who we become as individuals the most. Is it heredity and our biological make-up? Or does the environment--the people, places, and events that nurture us--have a greater impact? Like any dedicated scientist and blogger, I set out to discover the answer to those hot, burning questions by engaging in an experiment. I'd heard a great pair of jeans can make all the difference, no matter what body type a person is born with, and so all I had to do was find some random men with varying physical attributes, ask them to put on a great pair of jeans, and see if said apparel influenced their appearances in any way. I, of course, took Leonidas with me to record all my data, as he has all those legs, you know, and here is what we, as intrepid seekers of knowledge, discovered. Please note that all names of test subjects have been changed to the names of my heroes to protect the innocent as well as engage in shameless self-promotion. :)
Our first subject was Randy. No, that wasn't his state of being at the time, but later...oooh la la. Randy is truly a 98-pound weakling. Tiny and frail, he could barely lift the pen to sign the release form. He was about to get fired from the ranch where he worked because he just couldn't do any of the heavy lifting--and he owns the ranch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Randy was going to fire himself! However, after Leonidas and I helped him into this nice, comfy pair of jeans, just look what happened! From skin and bones to a six pack and pecs. A couple of nice tattoos even appeared out of nowhere. Obviously, a little nurturing on our part, with the help of some stone-washed denim, overcame Randy's physical limitations nicely, don't you agree? So that's Nurture: 1 and Nature: 0. Randy begged us to let him keep the jeans, and how could I say no? So, after Leonidas recorded Randy's cell number--hey, for follow-up questions!--off we trudged to find our next hunk, er, subject.
Poor Beau. Even though he worked out regularly, had a great body, and boasted a wonderful sense of humor AND a sports car, women rarely noticed him. Why? His height. At only 4'2", women literally overlooked his other fine qualities. Could a great pair of jeans help Beau overcome this statuesque obstacle? It's hard to see here, but after donning the jeans we gave him, Beau appeared to grow at least two feet. That's right--6'2". If you look closely at his torso, you can tell from the dimensions that this is true. I mean, just LOOK at his torso. It is a fine torso, isn't it? And you should have seen his a--, er, where was I? Aah, yes, Nurture: 2 and Nature: 0. Next!
Subject #3, Mark, is 94-years-old. He's outlived two wives and has three great-great grandchildren. Mark longed for a more youthful physique, tired of shuffling along all stooped over. It took quite a bit of effort to get Mark into these hole-y Levi's, but, alas, when the deed was done, Mark couldn't have been happier with the results. Can you see why?
Yes, these jeans made him look younger, definitely. He stood tall, like a nice bottle of aged wine in a new package. The transition was nothing short of amazing. You wouldn't believe his stamina either! Not that I'm saying I would know what that is, but I can just imagine. I can just imagine a lot of things when I look at this picture. I can picture, for example...nevermind.
There were other subjects, but I think you get the idea. Nurture wins pants, um, I mean, hands down. In every case, a great pair of Lees managed to offset the subject's natural physiological make-up--his genes were no match for our jeans.
So, there you have it folks. I've solved the nature/nurture debate with one simple experiment, wherein I gave my all to find the answers to the question that has haunted the scientific community at large for decades. I'm waiting for the call from the North Dakota Journal of Something or Other, offering me wads of cash for an interview and the opportunity to publish my research findings.
On a final note, experimentation often leads to some startling surprises. For example, I discovered during my research, completely by accident, that when a woman asks a man, "Is that a mouse in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?", there is, indeed, a mouse in his pocket.
No gallery of hot soccer players would be complete without Becks - and we have him in L.A. - at least for now.
Since there's a lot of rivalry going on between Becks and his Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, I'll let you decide who has the bigger...ego:
Germany by way of Poland, Lukas Podolski looks like he has a pair of balls:
Hey, I'm half Swedish, but Freddie Ljungberg is a full-on Viking raider:
Cristiano Ronaldo is considered by some to be the best soccer player in the world right now. He sure looks good to me:
Like your men rough around the edges? Try Steven Gerrard on for size:
Is Sergio Ramos from Spain playing football or doing a hair commercial? Either way, es muy caliente:
Kaka looks tired. Wanna put him to bed?
I guess for some strange reason American, Carlos Bocanegra doesn't take his shirt off during games, so we'll just have to be satisfied with him in this tight tank:
Ronaldinho has the moves AND the hair:
The entire Italian team could be models, but Fabio Cannavaro is my favorite for obvious reasons. He has the first name, do you think I could persuade him to appear on my next cover? All I can say is "Goooooooooaaallll":
This summer, however, I let my hair down and threw our schedule out the window. To say the least it has been a very nice relaxing summer. The kids have stayed up late, which resulted in them not getting up until late (YAY!). This is a first for me, and one I have enjoyed immensely. I have always had early risers, getting to sleep in until 9:30 and not go to bed until 1:00 has been awesome. I’m a night owl, I just don’t get to be, LOL. Dinner was made whenever dinner was made. Nothing was planned. If I decided to pack us up and take them to the park, we just did it. Spur of the complete moment.
Tomorrow everything changes and we are back on schedule. First things first, we’ll start by getting up at 6:30. (Cringe. I HATE mornings.) Breakfast first thing, getting dressed, luckily tomorrow morning we have Kindergarten testing, so we will get out of the house as if we are actually going to school. Then back home, where our day will go as normal, but dinner will be at six, baths after dinner, and then 8:00 bedtime. I figure this next week will be rough with the girl. My son wakes up with a smile on his face and a spring in step. My daughter is me to the core. She wakes up with a scowl, and will bite your head off in a minute after getting up. With her getting up about two hours earlier than normal, I figure her normal bad mood will intolerable as will mine. LOL. So it should be interesting.
Lately I've been suffering from writer's block. Think I'm part way out of the slump now and thank goodness because I was going a little insane! This week, because I couldn't write, I worked on edits and also looked over a few other stories. Just trying to get myself back in the game.
It’s a staple plot of romance novels – what happens when the heroine encounters an old flame years later? A new twist is available with the super-easy search capabilities of the internet – and, best of all, it’s anonymous. Now, you can check out that ex without any embarrassing repercussions. Of course, you don't get any do-overs or happy endings when your re-visit is virtual. But, is it fun to peek into the new lives of your past loves?
Well, I tried it. What I discovered was both fascinating – and heartrending.
The first ex I looked up turned out to be a guy who could feature in a Desire novel. I always knew he’d be a successful businessman. But I was stunned to read the extensive financial press about him, press due to the fact that he’d reached the pinnacle of his field. His home purchases were deemed newsworthy, his family background had been written about and finally, his salary was splashed everywhere.
I moved on to a second ex, this one from college. Ouch. I discovered that he’d died just a few months ago. What a strange feeling to read that, and then to see the poetry written to him by his wife, and to realize he’d left behind two young children. I'd never had a particular desire to see this man again, nor the expectation of doing so. But I was sad to realize he was gone from the world.
I was almost cured of my desire to continue exploring, but the ability to nose around so easily enticed me onward. I uncovered an ex who’s made a name for himself in the winemaking field. Nice guy. I'm happy for him.
I learned that another guy who I thought would be a brilliant lawyer ended up working, not for a top billing Wall Street firm, but for an alphabet soup firm in a small state. Major surprise there, but I trust he's satisfied with his choice.
Having opened Pandora’s box, would I close it again? Well, the Web and easy access to personal info is not going away. But I have to say, I kind of wish I hadn’t looked. I don’t have exes I hate, and the death hit me pretty hard. Not that I expected to ever see him again, but I like to think of these guys enjoying their lives, having happy marriages, and wonderful children. A bit Pollyannish, I admit. I guess that’s why I write romance.
So, true confession time. Has anyone else ever looked up their former boyfriends?
When I was in high school, I had a dream. I was going to be the next Stephen King. Heh. Yeah. Stay with me. Please. I knew my ideas were fabulous and I knew all it would take is for an editor to look at it and they would offer me up the moon and the stars and best of all, a contract. I had my girlfriends read everything I wrote. And they kept telling me, “This is fabulous! It's SO funny! Hilarious!” Seeing it really wasn't supposed to BE funny, I immediately changed course realizing I actually had a better handle on being funny than scary. I also figured adding a romance into it would even make it better since that is what I loved to read.
I then entered college as an English major. I was going to be a teacher and write during the summers. Even then I was a smart girl who knew I wasn't going to make jack and that I needed a job to support the “creative” one. Throughout all of college I wrote historical romances. One right after another. And kept submitting. And submitting. And submitting. And kept getting rejected and rejected and rejected. In the meantime, I got married. I had two kids. I joined RWA. I got critique partners. I honed and honed and honed the crap out of my writing. And kept writing and getting rejected. I eventually racked up over 200 rejections and had written over 40 books in those 11 years of trying to get published.
When I finally sold my first historical romance, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, and my second book, LORD OF PLEASURE, I was beside myself. It didn't feel real. To FINALLY arrive at a destination I had been traveling toward for 11 long years seemed like a mirage. Which fortunately, I quickly snapped out of. Because after all, most of my friends are all published and unpublished writers and the stories they all have told me throughout the years made me realize I had to fight with fists up for myself every step of the way. I knew publishers did little to no promotion for their authors, so I spearheaded my own promo, ready to be more than just an author. And even though I was budgeting very well and spending countless hours networking and promoting on websites and blogs, doing tons for free, I still ended up spending $7,000 on my first book. Which was way more than my advance. But hey, every business starts in the red. Right?
Then the reviews started coming in about my series set in 1830 London England about a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. People loved it! Wow. It got nominated for awards. Wow. Readers are e-mailing me raving. Wow. Readers from France, Austria, Poland, South Africa and from all over the U.S and the world.. Wow. It just kept getting better and better. I was beginning to feel as if every penny I spent was all worth it (even though my family and I weren't going on any vacations and were eating out of cans). Because all that mattered was that my publisher loved me and my readers loved my series.
Come contract time, I'm ready for whatever they wanna throw at me. Or so I thought. Mistress of Pleasure, though completely sold out and unavailable anywhere (unless it's a used copy, some going for a ridiculous amount of $40.00), hadn't done as well as my publisher had hoped. So without waiting for the second book to come out to see if the series was even worth saving, I get a rejection from my own editor citing lack of sales.
I have to say this rejection felt more personal than any of the other two hundred and some rejections I'd received. Because it was no longer “Your book isn't good enough” it became “Your sales aren't good enough.” Since when is an author supposed to be a market guru AND a fabulous writer? Eck.
I love this series. The men in it make me laugh and it broke my heart to think that my readers will never get a chance to read about Lord Brayton, my glorious male virgin. The only alpha virgin I've ever written about. Then I realized something, why I am letting a publisher decide what is worth holding on to? Shouldn't that be a reader's job?
Ah. Herein lies the purpose of my post. I am challenging everyone, be they readers or writers to help me do something that's never been done before. Save a series from a death sentence given by a publisher. Can it be done? Who knows. But I eat challenges for breakfast and I hope you do too. Please join me in saving my series. Tell everyone you know (yes, even your 72 year old grandfather) to buy the book, Lord of Pleasure. In doing so, you'll have a chance to win one of three $50 Visa Gift Cards. How? Check out my website for details at: http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/
That said, thank you for all the support and love everyone has already shown me by allowing me to blog about this. Feel free to post and repost this to everyone under the moon and the stars. To all you readers out there, thank you for supporting us writers. To all you writers out there, don't ever give up on your writing. The moment you do, you give up on yourself. Which is why I'm not giving up on my series.
Cheers and much love,
I was recently interviewed by NBC Nightly News as part of a story on the national recession, and in particular, about how pop culture (TV, movies, music, books) both reflects the state of the economy as well as offers a temporary escape from it (of which romance novels are the perfect example).
But what led up to that interview may be the real story!
My phone rang at noon on Friday, July 24. It was Chris Jansing from NBC Nightly News, who told me about one particular angle of the story -- how romance sales are hotter than ever, despite the dire economy. And she wanted to interview me as a representative of the romance industry!
After I’d picked my jaw up off the floor and agreed to the interview, I realized this was going to be a serious piece, featuring both the president of programming for HBO as well as someone from the Annenberg school at USC. So I wanted to look and sound as professional as possible, in order to ensure that the romance industry was taken as seriously as those two men.
Out of the closet came the yellow suit that I knew would look good on camera. Chris had mentioned on the phone that she basically wanted to ask me just one question -- why, in a recession, are romance novels hotter than ever? So as I was getting dressed, I carefully practiced my answer in the bathroom mirror.
At 4pm, I arrived at the NBC Los Angeles bureau in Burbank. What a beehive of activity that place is! If you saw Chris’ story on TV, you may have noticed that my interview took place right in the newsroom, with people walking behind me, talking out loud, and even moving things around. As if I wasn’t nervous enough!
But when the cameras started rolling, the most amazing thing happened. All the background noise seemed to disappear, and all I could hear was Chris asking the question I’d spent so long in front of my mirror answering. So I told her how women read romance novels because they want a break from their stressful lives, to escape – even if only for a few minutes -- into a story that’s guaranteed to have a happy ending. That women want to know, when they close that book, their mood will be uplifted. And romance novels do exactly that.
Phew, I thought. I did good.
But then… Chris kept talking. Kept asking me questions. I felt the blood rush out of my face as I tried to concentrate on what she was saying, while my brain was thinking -- what? Wasn’t my answer good enough?
But Chris, you see, is an experienced reporter. By continuing to ask me questions I hadn’t prepared for, she forced me to relax enough to loosen up and just talk to her. Girl to girl. And ironically, that’s when I shared something I’ve always believed. “You know,” I told her, “if you’re stressed or depressed, the bottom line is – romance novels are a lot cheaper than therapy.”
And of course, that’s the quote she used. Clever woman, that Chris Jansing!
I’m only on camera for about 8-seconds, but Chris showed a picture of Secrets Volume 27: Untamed Pleasures leading into my soundbite, so I was absolutely thrilled with the way this story turned out! Here’s the link if you missed it when it aired on NBC Nightly News on Sunday, July 26: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/#32157747
I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of my life, even if I was a nervous wreck during most of it. Absolute. Nervous. Wreck.
No problem, right?
Now that all of you have wiped the tears of laughter from your eyes, I will continue.:) Writing something that serves its purpose and gives the reader the satisfying experience it promises is one of the hardest, albeit one of the most wonderful, endeavors someone can undertake. Writing is a craft, and its artisans must learn how to use the tools of the trade to get done what they want to get done. One of the aspects of writing fiction I love is that I will never know or master it all, ever, and that makes it intriguing. Writers have those five elements of fiction floating around that have to be wrangled--character, plot/conflict, setting, POV, and theme--plus all the elements of the writer's chosen genre to incorporate.
Along with all the things we have to do right when we sculpt our stories, there are so many things we must avoid doing wrong. A few of the posts have already mentioned a few of these pitfalls, but I've been reading quite a bit lately, and I've noticed a few other problems in some of the books that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the novel. I've noted them for my own future reference, and I thought this would be a good time to share them since the topic this week is writing craft.
I don't mean characters of questionable morals here. I mean characters who are defined in the story by a character sketch the author sticks in somewhere to tell readers all the information s/he needs to know about said individual. The dialogue and actions of a character should do this as the story unfolds, and the character development should be so well integrated that it mimics real life. Rarely do we learn everything about a person's life the minute we meet him. Is all that background information important? Yes, very. However, it shouldn't be included in the story in one big glop, but spread throughout like a delectable spice.
As everyone knows, I love animals, but this is one puppy I don't want to see pop up panting in my story. It's the boggy doggy, a critter that slows or stops the forward movement of the story altogether, bogging it down in literary mire. It can be of any breed, such as a wayward character sketch, a misplaced flashback, or a pesky backstory dump, but it's usually a stray and needs to find a home somewhere else besides your story, usually in a file folder somewhere or the Recycle Bin. Overwriting will also make a story roll over and play dead, so writing lean and mean is vital in keeping this creature at bay.
Tag, You're It!
Dialogue can be a bear, and one of the mistakes a I often see when I read is tags galore even when there are only two people talking. Here's what I mean:
"Roger, I simply can't be with you," said Judith. "I'm pregnant by Derek's brother's cousin, Andre, the lion-tamer."
"But Judith, I'll raise the child as my own. I love you. I love Andre. I love lions," said Roger.
"No! You don't love me at all. You love my sister, Tetrina, from planet Alberon. I saw you two making love under the bridge during the solar eclipse," said Judith.
"Oh Judith, that was a mistake," said Roger. "It was dark. I thought she was you. She was wearing your silky underwear, after all."
"Roger, I don't wear underwear," said Judith.
"Ooops," said Roger.
There's a lot wrong with this example; however, the main flaw I wanted to point out is the overuse of tags, in this case, "said." Even if you shake it up by using a synonym for "said" here and there, a problem still exists. When two characters are having a back and forth, it isn't necessary to tag every line of dialogue. Characters should be so distinctive that tags aren't always needed to identify who is talking to whom.
Especially if you write erotica or erotic romance, you should be aware of this. False endings--well, of course, that's what I meant!--can be confusing to the reader and ruin a wonderful story, because the actual climax then becomes anti-climatic. If you resolve a huge internal or external conflict before the characters are ready and introduce another one to keep the story going, why should the reader keep reading? It's like starting another book entirely, and it may not be the book your reader wanted to read.
This Ain't Math Class...
So going off on a tangent is not a good thing. Nor is going off on a sine or cosine, or throwing in a hyperbola when you want hyperbole. Subplots are often the culprits in leading the writer away from the main story and trapping her somewhere in Tangent Land, because it's easy to get caught up in trying to make all the threads of the book come together. Sometimes an author will include extra scenes designed to highlight some aspect of a character or to enrich an exotic setting. If you as the reader know way more about the hibiscus plant and other flora and fauna native to Hawaii than you do the main story, then the writer has gone off on a tangent.
I could list more, but I'm out of time for now. Does anyone else have a writing pitfall s/he tries to avoid?
The more that happened to him, the more suspicion of disbelief diminished. We are not talking little mishaps either, this man life was in constant doo doo, in the hospital with life-threatening injuries more than not. The more I read, the more I was like, Dude! He should be dead.
So this got me thinking. When is too much, too much? And why, when I usually have no issue with just going along for the ride, I wanted to jump out of the car in this one?
Perhaps it was because this was a contemporary. The hero wasn’t a shifter, vampire or some other creature with special powers that would allow this kind of harm to be dealt to him without repercussions. No, he was an everyday man, living in everyday America, just like you and me. And because of this, I could never get past the thought any normal man would never survive this, much less the other five attempts on his life. I know this is fiction, and we are dealing with alpha hero’s here, but at the same time there is supposed to be a fine line between the fiction and reality. This story crossed the line into unbelievable for me.
Is it fair of me to think that if the story had paranormal elements I could have accepted the things that happened to the hero? Why am I so down on this hero who survived the impossible?
So my question is, have you ever read something that tested your suspicion of disbelief?
In other news, I’m being interviewed at Night of Passion this weekend and will be giving away three e-books. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. So drop on byJ
This summer has been a busy one for me. Between writing, family vacations, the RWA National Convention, not to mention just everyday life, it seems like the days have slipped away. But I do have some exciting news to share! I have a new upcoming release--Chasing Eden will be available from Ellora's Cave on August 19th!
Chasing Eden was a fun story to write. I love the rock-star type--the hunky guy with a velvet voice--and my hero Shane Tolan fits the bill. My heroine's a control-freak graphic artist just dying to design his next CD cover, but she's also dying for a little taste of Shane, too. Here's the blurb:
Graphic artist Eden Foster never expected a sexy game of hide-and-seek to turn into the hottest encounter of her life. The erotic dreams she’s had lately starring to-die-for rock star Shane Tolan are almost enough to make her forget how badly she wants to design his next CD cover. Almost, but not quite. And now here he is in the flesh, ready to chase after her.
Shane likes to play dirty, and he finally has Eden right where he wants her—outside on a balcony, tied to a chaise lounge and under his complete control. But he soon discovers it’s not just Eden’s body he wants, but the talented, business-savvy artist, too. Hell, he wants every luscious part of her.
Then naked paparazzi photos from that night show up on the internet. Eden is convinced her peers will believe she slept with the rock star just to design his CD cover. Shane knows nothing’s further from the truth. And in order to prove it to her, he going to have to show her his heart.
Here's an excerpt:
Eden Foster stared between the licks of flames shooting four feet above the bonfire, still unable to believe rock-star bad-boy Shane Tolan, lead singer and sinful front man of the smoldering-hot band Blackguard, sat on the other side. Propped against a huge old oak tree, he lounged on a blanket, casual and relaxed as can be. Long, lean legs were crossed at his ankles, powerful arms over his chest.
Mercy, mercy. What she wouldn’t give to press her lips against the lower portion of that sexy Celtic lion tattoo showing just past the rolled up sleeve of his left arm, or to trace her tongue along the thick black stroke of the tat’s tail where it morphed into a tangle of classic Celtic knots below his elbow.
Okay… A serious diversion right about now would be a good thing. A great thing. A necessary thing. But Eden knew getting any sort of distraction with Shane in such close proximity would be next to impossible.
She certainly wasn’t a stranger to the idiosyncratic world of celebrity, so she could hardly blame being all googly-eyed star-struck as the reason for her sudden inability to breathe. As a highly recognized graphic artist to some of the fastest rising names in the music business, she’d lost track of how many times she’d met and mingled with hotter-than-hot Top Ten performers. But none of them—not a single, solitary one—compared to Shane Tolan.
All six-foot-two sweltering paradise of him.
Thanks for letting me share!