Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Committing to a Story

Two months ago, I made a stupid promise.  I responded to a query from my publisher to submit an erotic romance story to a recent submission call by saying "yes", I would write a story to fit their guidelines.  That meant agreeing to write at least 10,000 words (and as much as 15,000) in a month.  Was this promise feasible?  Yes.  Was it wise?  Probably not.

You see, having published with this romance publisher many times before, I had already seen this specific submission call, thought about the theme and decided not to submit a story.  You read that right.  I decided against it.

I had many reasons not to write a piece for this call.  First of all, I have published in several of their anthologies and thought it might not be wise to submit to too many, which might lead to a de facto rejection simply based on volume.  Another thing, I wasn't too sure what the theme meant and hadn't written a lot of stories in this vein.  So, unfamiliar territory.

Of course, as always, there are other calls on my time.  I am currently in the middle of about a dozen erotic romance stories, many of which are clamouring to be finished.  (Yes, I can hear them clamour).  Plus, between work, family, and school, I already have plenty of deadlines I may or may not meet.  I didn't need another one to add to my list.

So why did I agree to write this story?

The personal query flattered me.  I write ménage erotic romances (among other kinds) and the idea that my editor would have thought of my other stories while reviewing this submission call made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Pandering to my ego works, people!

I agreed to submit a story, worked my ass off for weeks to draft and edit it, and finally submitted it in early October.  A few weeks later, I got the news that my story was accepted for the anthology!  Yay!

Bottom line: I stretched myself thin to write this story.  I think it's a pretty good one, with a non-hero character I might end up using in a future tale.  Because I tend to write according to mood, I often didn't feel like writing this story, but in the end I finished it and it turned out well.

Don't believe what people tell you.  Writing is hard work.  It isn't always up to your inclination what you write about.  It was worth more to me to please my publisher, to push aside my other projects, and to finish this story.  I gave up something to gain something.

When you commit to a story, what do you give up?  What do you gain?

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Many Books Do I Sell?

Okay, first of all, I'm not going to answer that question.  Second of all, you can find out for yourself.

The number of books I sell every month has been steadily growing over the past year or two and rapidly growing over the last few months, due in large part because of the great reviews and general lovely reception received by my latest erotic romance novella, Hard Luck Ranch.

But where have I been cyber-stalking myself, you may ask?  In case you don't already know about it, writers can keep track of their sales on Amazon (which handles a large percent of my e-book sales from my three publishers, Ellora's Cave, Crimson Romance and Totally Bound) through Novel Rank.  This site's Track Novel feature allows you to copy and paste in the link to your Amazon e-book and start keeping track of how many books you sell.  It also has cool tricks that let you see graphs of how many sales you've had in the past month or the last year and see how your book sales are trending.

By using Novel Rank, I've seen how much my sales of Hard Luck Ranch have outpaced my previous book launches and also how the success of it has spurred readers to pick up some of my similar titles like A Lady for Two and Country Hearts, pumping up the sales of my back list.

Let's face it, I like seeing my Amazon ranking climb -- my goal is to crack the triple digits one day -- but I also want to know what those numbers mean.  I don't know how scientific Novel Rank is but it seems to give me a good idea of how I'm doing and let's me anticipate how big a royalty check's coming my way!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bad Romance (Reviews)

I have to admit that the bad reviews get me down.  Most of them are tinged with back-handed compliments (good sex, okay story).  Others are just all out bad (although I take mean spirited pleasure in noting that these are the ones that also tend to be poorly spelled).

I enjoy a good review.  The meaning of a good review has changed in recent months.

When I read a book and provide a review on Goodreads, I tend to simplify the experience.  If I liked the book, I give it a four star review.  If I loved it, five stars.  Two or less stars means I really didn't care for it.  One star pretty much means I didn't finish it, which is exceedingly rare.

Perhaps I am a generous reviewer.  I don't mind.  I realized long ago that I can love an infinite number (and variety) of books.  My all time favourite books I tend to read and re-read regularly.  They're like old friends.  And you can't have enough friends.

So, back to my reviews.  I know now that not everyone shares my view on books.  Some reviewers never seem to hand out five stars.  Others have their grading curves hovering around three instead of four or five like me.  People are different.  My idea of being a book lover is being fairly uncritical.  If the book made me feel strongly, I usually love it.  Even if it makes me sad.  Especially if it makes me sad.  That's the power of a book.  They don't all have to evoke the same emotions or tell the same type of story.  Imagine if all books did.  What horror.

People like your writing or they don't.  Not exactly stunning wisdom but the truth.  Everyone reads, and reviews, in different ways.

I can write good sex scenes.  I'll take it.  I write erotic romance so giving good sex scenes is a crucial part of my craft.  But I also want to tell a good story so I do read the negative reviews and try to see where I can improve.

Do I give the bad reviews too much power?  Perhaps?  They get me down.  At least now they get me down for a few minutes when, in the beginning, I would worry about them for days.

The good reviews outweigh the bad ones, both in number and in effect.  I want people to read my stories and feel something.  Hopefully, something sexy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Historical Erotic Romance - Hard Luck Ranch

My newest erotic romance just came out from Totally Bound Publishing.  It's a historical ménage story called Hard Luck Ranch and set in the Old West.  It's already got a five star review!

Here's the blurb from Totally Bound's website:

When his best friend Wesley orders up a mail order bride, Everett leaves Hard Luck Ranch for good. Or so he thinks…until he realises that there may be room in their marriage for one more.

Emma came out West to marry a man she’s never met but she’s already fallen in love with Wesley through their letters. Life at his home, Hard Luck Ranch, is far better than she ever imagined with a loving husband and a prosperous farm. The only hiccup in her plans for the future is Wes’ best friend, the local sheriff Everett Montgomery, who may share more than a boyhood with her husband.
Everett is trying to drown his misery over his friend’s marriage with shots at the local saloon and sex with the local madam’s brother, Kenneth. But Ken isn’t Wes, the man Everett has loved since he was old enough to know what love was. While Everett loses himself in his heartache, he stays away from the ranch. But he doesn’t expect Emma to come out to find him—nor does he realize that she’s guessed his secret.

Emma loves her husband dearly and she wants him to be happy, even if it means sharing him with Everett. But will the sexy lawman be willing to accept her as part of the bargain?

Buy Hard Luck Ranch now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Erotic Romance - Rock Star

My newest erotic romance with my first publisher Totally Bound is now out.  Rock Star is a older woman-younger man story revolving around the chaotic life of a young hot rock god and his conservative older lawyer.

The cover only gives a hint of the melting heat within:

And here's the blurb from my publisher (what a teaser, right?):

Hollywood lawyer Maggie Ward likes her client Finn Carter’s music but the sexy younger man is far too much trouble to actually get to know… Right?

Maggie Ward is a Hollywood lawyer with a list of musician clients but none as famous as rock star Finn Carter. And he’s got the bad boy reputation to prove it. It’s no wonder every move he makes is dogged by paparazzi. So when he gets into an accident on his motorcycle and ends up in hospital, it’s splashed all over the tabloids that the car was driven by his ex-girlfriend’s new man. Finn’s manager wants him to lie low and the place he chooses is Maggie’s house.

Finn’s habit of strutting around naked is more heat than Maggie can take and when she comes home one day to find him nude in her kitchen, she finally succumbs to her wicked fantasies.

Afterwards, Maggie is more determined than ever to keep the relationship on a strictly physical level while Finn hints that he wants more. Can two such different people find more than sex in common?

Buy Rock Star now!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day, Cougars!

This Mother's Day weekend, all Sophisticate erotic romance books are on sale at Ellora's Cave.  That means all their stories about younger men and older women, cougars and cubs.

The sale also includes my first publication with Ellora's Cave (my second one is forthcoming this year), Designed to Seduce.

Check the sale out!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Newest Erotic Romance: Snow Fire

My first ebook publisher has just published my newest erotic romance!  Join me in a dance of joy.

This book is a bit of a departure from my usual with some genre-crossing elements.  It's called Snow Fire and is available from Totally Bound Publishing.  Happy reading!

Stella’s sexy adopted step-cousin Callum comes back with strange new behaviors after his trip to his birthplace in Romania, making her wonder if she ever knew him at all.

Trapped in a snowstorm up on a secluded mountain, Stella’s family vacation turns into an eerie rendezvous with her adopted cousin Callum, whose sexy and mysterious edge has started to take on a dark undertone ever since he returned from Romania. So when two strangers show up at the remote cabin, she starts to suspect that it’s more than a coincidence that the men speak Romanian and are unusually interested in her cousin.

When the generator breaks down, Stella is forced to share a bed with Callum and their simmering sexual attraction bursts into hot flames. But can Stella find out what Callum’s hiding before the storm lets up? Or will their hunger for each other end up as only a memory of a night shared in a snowbound cabin?

Buy Snow Fire now and prepare to be heated up!

Monday, March 10, 2014

99 Problems (with Writing): Too Busy to Write

We all know that old excuse.  Come on, say it together now...but I'm too busy to write!

Yeah, right.

I know, I don't like hearing it either.  I AM busy.  I swear it.  But so are most of us.  We're busy, yes, but not too busy for some things.  Like our families.  Like our jobs.  Like eating and sleeping (mostly) and online shopping.

So the problem isn't really that we're too busy, full stop.  It's that we're too busy to write.  Too busy to carve out the time to do something that we all really love doing (or else why would you be reading my blog about writing, right?)

I love writing.  I really do.  I love the high you get as you watch the words tumble onto the page.  I love the struggle of finding the right word or phrase or description.  And I am in love with the sense of accomplishment you get from just having finished writing a few pages or even just a few lines.

So why do I (and here I mean all of us writers) sometimes put writing at the bottom of our list of priorities?

Because, deep down, we don't see writing as being as important as our jobs or our families (we're right here) or our sleep or our online shopping (or t.v. watching or whatever else we do to relax after a day of working etc.

THAT'S the real problem.

Don't get me wrong.  I am a firm believer in t.v. watching (particularly if that t.v. is The Walking Dead, in which case it isn't actually relaxing to watch at all).

Yes, I'm busy...with a fairly high stress day job, my lovely family, two volunteer positions and the myriad other activities that give my life purpose and meaning.  But so does writing give my life purpose and meaning...and joy and a creative outlet...need I go on?

We all love to write.  In most of our cases, we need to write, the same way we need to eat and sleep and work.  So trying waking up a half hour early and writing.  Or carving out a half hour between sitcoms to write.  Or taking a writing break instead of a lunch break at work (bring your own laptop for this purpose).

You're busy.  But you're not TOO busy to write.  Not if you really love it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Erotic Romance with Ellora's Cave

My first erotic romance story with Ellora's Cave is due out on January 15, 2014, and I am so excited.

Designed to Seduce is my first Older Woman/ Younger Man story and I think I found a great niche that I am thoroughly enjoying.  The story was actually sparked by reading my first OW/YM Harlequin romance (yes, Harlequin does a few of these) years ago.  The story was so hot and the characters so real that I almost forgot that it was a Harlequin (in a good way) and just got right into it.

About my story, Designed to Seduce is a contemporary with a hero and heroine with a history together.  Here's the blurb from the website:

Ten years ago, Mallory agreed to her best friend Kelsey’s shocking request—to seduce Kelsey’s eighteen-year-old nephew to rescue him from a toxic girlfriend. It’s the hottest sex either of them has experienced—but Mallory’s guilt prevents her from continuing the relationship.

A decade after the incident, Mallory’s life has gone downhill. Recently divorced, she’s struggling to pay the bills and keep her small design company limping along when Jamie appears at her door—all grown up and sexier than ever.

Jamie wants the truth—why did she leave him all those years ago? Using every sexual trick in his arsenal, he plays havoc with all of Mallory’s defenses as he attempts to wrest the reason from her.

As passionate as their sexual encounters are, Mallory still refuses to reveal her secret. But how long can her body—and her heart—hold out against the all-out erotic war this hot younger man is determined to wage against her?


Monday, January 13, 2014

New Year...Same Resolutions

Last year, I wrote about tackling the same resolutions as the year before.  And this year...well, same thing.

Don't mess with a winning formula, right?

That isn't to say that I met my goals last year.  I didn't.  Not by a long shot.  I wanted to write more, blog more and send out submissions.  I wrote a lot.  I blogged a little.  I sent out even fewer submissions.

But end result?  I published more.  I got more of my erotic romance stories published in 2013 than 2012.  And I hope that 2014 will offer more opportunities.  At this point, I already have four stories scheduled for publication in 2014 (one is due out in a few days, my first with Ellora's Cave) and that's not too shabby.

I set huge goals.  I wanted to send out 100 submissions last year and I ended up doing about ten percent of that.  But I like making the big goals and I really like striving for them.  Every time I chalked up a submission, I rejoiced--and that feeling was worth it.

So strive for the big goals this year.  You might just make it.  And if you fail, well, you'll have failed trying.