Tag Archives: erotic

A New Book!

Let me introduce you to Catherine, Reginald, and Yolann … and to Francesca Rose.

Francesca Rose is the name I’m using for my Victorian Secret Romances. They’re set in the Victorian era and are a little sexier than the Frankie Robertson titles. If you’ve read WITH HEART TO HEAR, you’ll enjoy this new release, YETI IN THE MIST.

YETI IN THE MIST: A Victorian Secret Romance

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Catherine Denton loves her ailing husband and is taken aback when he  encourages her to take a lover. Reginald, formerly a colonel in the East India Company Army, wants his young wife to have what he cannot give her: children–and his titled brother, Cedric, has offered to oblige. However, her brother-in-law is not the man Catherine desires. The male who makes her pulse race is Reginald’s good friend Yolann, the Yeti who served with him in India, and who sleeps just down the hall.

 

 

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Eye Candy

I’m not feeling particularly insightful today, so I thought I’d share a great pic with you.

This fellow is how I picture one of the male protags in a future MMF project which I finally got a handle on. (Do you think he looks like an elf?) I can’t wait to share it with you, but I’ll have to while I finish FIRSTBORN (or whatever I wind up calling it).

 

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WITH HEART TO HEAR Excerpt

Available at Amazon and B&N

I finally put up an excerpt of WITH HEART TO HEAR, my erotic Victorian fairytale. (Click on the EXCERPTS tab above.)

I absolutely love the cover Rae Monet did for this short (11K words).

The seeds of this story are from a dream that a friend told me about. She gave me permission to use it as a jumping off point, but by the time I finished, it bore little resemblance to the original inspiration.

Here’s a bit about WITH HEART TO HEAR:

An erotic beauty and the beast tale.

Elise Craft is a well bred Victorian spinster who, at the advanced age of twenty-eight, would rather study the flora and fauna of England than indulge in the social games of the ton. Then, on a trip to the lake country of Cumbria, she makes an exotic and erotic discovery on the border between everyday England and Faerie. She will never see the world the same again . . .

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WITH HEART TO HEAR is Available!

Just in time for the holidays, my novelette WITH HEART TO HEAR is available for only $0.99 as Kindle and Nook downloads! It should also be available soon on All Romance Ebooks.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wrote WHTH after a friend of mine told me about a dream she had. I thought it held the seed of a good story, and she gave me permission to use it. The story that grew from that inspiration is nothing like what her subconscious originally came up with.

Elise Craft is a well-bred Victorian lady who would rather study the flora and fauna of England than play the social games of the ton. Then she makes an exotic, and erotic, discovery on the border between everyday England and Faerie.

WITH HEART TO HEAR is an erotic beauty and the beast tale. It was published several years ago in SUM 3:The 2006 Zircon Anthology of Speculative Romance. For this release it has been re-edited and given a gorgeous cover by Rae Monet. I’m hoping this will be the first of a series of sensual fairy-tales. Two that I have in mind are variants of the Princess and the Pea, and the Nutcracker (no pun intended). For now I’ll bring them out individually as digital releases, but if they prove popular I’ll put them in a collection and publish them in paper format.

Do you have a favorite fairy-tale you’d like to see “romanticized?”

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I want to wish all my readers a joyful, healthy, and prosperous holiday and new year. Thank you for reading!

I’ll be visiting with out-of-town family, so I won’t be posting on my regular schedule for the next week or so. “See” you next year!

 

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My Self-Publishing Journey: The Pricing Debate Continues

I stumbled across a guest post: Why Your Novel is a Tall, 6-Pump Vanilla, Breve Latte Grande, Extra Hot, Heavy Whipping Cream, Extra Dry Cappuccino (Or It Should Be) by Elle Lothlorien on Joe Konrath’s blog.

I’ve written a little about pricing digital books before on this blog, and mentioned Dean Wesley Smith’s take on the 99 cent price point. Based on conversations with Mike Stackpole, and comments I’ve read by Robin Sullivan, I made the decision to price my books in the $3.99 to $4.99 range. I’ve long believed that you teach people how to treat you and that applies to teaching them what your work is worth, too. I’d forgotten that in economics that principle is called “imputed value.” (Thanks for reminding me, Elle.)

The comments on Elle’s post are worth reading, too. There’s some difference of experience and opinion there on what works and why.  Michael Kingswood suggests this pricing strategy:

I think a reasonable pricing structure is as follows. Short stories $.99. Novelettes $1.99. Novellas $2.99. Short novels (< 75k) $3.99. Novels (75k – 100k) $4.99. >100k $5.99.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between a novelette and a novella, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America use the following definitions for its Nebula Awards: short story–up to 7500 words, novelette–7,500-17,500 words,  novella–17,500-40,000 words, novel–varies depending on genre but usually a minimum of 40,000 words.

By that measure, LIGHTBRINGER is priced just right at $3.99. (The Wild Rose Press, however, values VEILED MIRROR at $6.50, so is $3.99 too low?) In a few weeks I’ll be bringing out a 11,000 word erotic fairy tale called “With Heart to Hear.” I’d planned to price it at .99, but now I’m rethinking that and considering listing it at $1.99.

I take away several points from this post and the comments.

  • While a lot of authors are pricing their books very low, many readers avoid .99 books, believing them to be inferior, as prefer them. Maybe more.
  • Focusing on sales rank is not useful.
  • Within a certain range, creating imputed value works. Based on Elle’s experience, I’m wondering if launching a book at a lower price, say $2.99 for an announced limited time, and then raising the price to $4.99 might not be a good strategy.
  • Higher per unit prices may reduce unit sales while increasing net income.

On the other hand, I just read “How Darcie Chan Became a Best-Selling Author” from last Friday’s Wall Street Journal. She used the 99 cent price as part of a larger strategy to boost sales of her book THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE.

‘She noticed that a lot of popular e-books were priced at 99 cents, and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to 99 cents. The cut would slash potential royalties—Amazon pays 35% royalties for books that cost less than $2.99, compared with 70% for books that cost $2.99 to $9.99. But sales picked up immediately. “I did that to encourage people to give it a chance,” she says. “I saw it as an investment in my future as a writer.” The strategy worked. Several reviewers on Amazon said they bought the book because it was 99 cents, then ended up liking it.’

She also spent over $1600 on banner ads online and an expedited review from Kirkus, but her sales had perked up with just the price drop.

So what is your price strategy? I’d be interested in hearing from other indie authors about how they price their books and what effect that has had on sales and income.

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What Makes A Romance Work? Uncertainty.

You might wonder that I say uncertainty is what makes a romance work. After all, by definition all romances end with a happily ever after (HEA), or at least a happy for now (HFN). The reader knows on page one that everything is going to turn out well for the characters.

That uncertainty is still possible is due to the art and craft of the author. In traditional romance the author creates a curiosity about how the hero and heroine will get together. How they resolve their doubts and conflicts so they can lower their defenses enough to let the other in and become stronger together than they were apart. In most romances a great deal of URST (unresolved sexual tension) develops until, when it is finally resolved, the release for the reader is much like it is for the characters.

Even in erotic romance, where the protagonists have sex early and often, there is uncertainty. In this case the doubt isn’t about when the characters will finally have sex, it’s about when their emotional intimacy will turn having sex into making love.

Olivia Blackburn posted about a psychology study that supports what romance writers and readers have known for some time. Uncertainty creates interest.  Not being sure of someone is even more alluring than knowing the other likes you.  And in a romance it’s particularly effective to have the protagonists almost come together and then be pulled apart by circumstance or dispute.  It’s this pattern that many detractors from romance object to. They often feel this pattern is contrived and artificial.

Sometimes they’re right.

Creating uncertainty is good. Doing it clumsily is not.

I just finished Shannon K. Butcher’s BLOOD HUNT. In it she raises all sorts of questions not all of which are answered in this book. (Making the reader anxious for the next in the series.) Most impressively, she creates an intense attraction between the hero and heroine and a believable reason why they don’t indulge that desire until late in the story. As much as I wanted the two of them to get together, I completely accepted why the hero resisted so long.

This is crucial to a traditionally structured romance. If you don’t make the reader believe deep down that the characters have a good reason to resist the urge, they’ll be annoyed.  You might as well write an erotic romance and have them go ahead and do it on page one. But if you do, you’d better have a good and believable reason the H/H aren’t moving in together and settling down on page two.  If you don’t, you may have mystery or a thriller, or some other genre, but you won’t have a romance. One way or the other, you need uncertainty or you don’t have a story. And without emotional uncertainty you don’t have a romance.

 

 

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Free Will is Sexy

Tell me you want me. Love me.  Need me. Mean it. But not too soon, or too easily.

That’s part of what makes a romance work.  The struggle to connect.  In “Why Isn’t Free Will Sexy” I wrote about a current trend in paranormal romance that I’d noticed, the physical compulsion of the protagonists to come together, a biological need so great that one or both of their lives hang in the balance.  I had a problem with authors creating what I felt was a false choice to love.  If the object of your desire is desired because of extreme chemistry, and will die if you don’t commit to him or her, is it really a freely made choice?

Posed like that, the answer has to be no.  But I’ve since read more in this sub-sub-genre and I’ve come to the conclusion that the characters in these books have as much freedom of choice as most real people do.  They resist the urgent demands of their bodies, pulling back from the almost drugging influence of the partner’s presence and wait to make the commitment that will change their lives.  Of course, this delay, this URST (unresolved sexual tension) is what drives traditional (not erotic) romance and makes the culmination, the consummation, so satisfying.  It’s no secret that the pattern of traditional romance mirrors the pattern of female sexual arousal.

There’s more to this pattern than sexual arousal, however.  The life and death need for the right partner is a literal representation of a basic tenet of the romance genre, that love heals and transforms the beloved, and that giving love is transformative as well.  The alchemy of freely giving and receiving love makes us whole, and that love is as essential to life as air and water.

Central to these stories is the inevitability of love.  We know going in there will be a Happily Ever After. (We are talking about romances after all.)  No matter how you try to avoid it, once you step in it, there’s no getting it off your shoe.  This trope wouldn’t be so satisfying if we didn’t have a deep cultural belief that when you find the One, you’ll know.  No matter how you struggle, resistance is futile.

Does that undercut free will?  I don’t think so.  Freedom of choice really only applies to what actions a person or a character takes.  No matter what they feel, the characters still choose how and when to act.  (Or at least the author chooses. :-))

Some neuroscientists believe free will is an illusion created by our brains.  Society needs us to believe in free will and the consequences of choice, however, so we pretty much have to go with it.  But fiction has to make more sense than real life.That’s why we tell ourselves stories:  to reinforce the big Truths.

Love makes us stronger.  If we let it.

 

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Review: Drink of Me and Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank

I’m wrapping up a book binge.  Every now and then, usually between projects, I take a break from my usual routine and just read book after book after book.  This binge started with Jacquelyn Frank‘s Drink of Me (2010).

Ms. Frank is a new author for me even though she’s published ten other books.  The cover for Drink of Me caught my eye with faces silhouetted in iridescent blue, and the inside teaser sealed the deal.

One of the things I like about this book is that she has created a complete alternate world that is different from what I’ve seen before.  (I’m thrilled to see more fantasy oriented paranormal romances making it to the shelves.) She also has taken familiar archetypes and made them new.  I’m not a big fan of vampire stories, but her Sange are not the usual sort of blood drinkers.  Nor are they werewolves even though they have a pack hierarchy.  Frank convincingly makes use of the amnesia ploy, too. One of the heroine’s special skills is not particularly unique, but since she didn’t remember she had it, her rediscovery of it just before it was too late was satisfying.

Drink of Me enjoyably held my attention, so I decided to read one of Frank’s earlier works to see what she’d built her career on.  (What can I say?  I’m a writer, these things are important to me.)  I bought Jacob (2006), the first of the Nightwalkers series.

Jacob is what I think of as being a more typical paranormal romance.  The eponymous hero is a demon, one of the Nightwalker races which include vampires and werewolves, but who are misunderstood by humans.  They’re really nice guys at heart.  The heroine is our “average girl” when we meet her, and asks all the questions the reader wants answers to.

One of the things that is typical to this sub-genre is the biological compulsion the protagonists felt.  I wrote about this in an earlier post “Why Isn’t Free Will Sexy?” Frank overcame my reservations on this score in two ways.  One, though her characters were clearly drawn to each other to an unusual degree, neither of them knew why until fairly late in the book.  There was no manipulation of one by the other, and no secrets being kept.  Two, and most important, their interaction, their dialogue, made them real and appealing.  They became more than their archetypes.

One touch I loved was that the demons were happy about the rise of Christianity, because it nearly eliminated the use of magic, and more specifically, the necromancers who summon demons against their will.  Another thing to recommend the book:  Frank writes excellent sexual tension and well-developed love scenes.  As I mentioned in “Reading Like a Writer,” some books are worth learning from.  For me, Jacob is worth studying for that alone.

If you haven’t yet read any of Jacquelyn Frank’s books, you should.  I know I’ll be reading more.

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My Next Project

I’m still cleaning up some formatting issues for Veiled Mirror, but soon that will be done.  Then what?  Oh, I’ll have to review the gallies, but that won’t take more than a week.  It’s time to decide on my next project.

I have at least four different books simmering in the back of my head, not to mention a revision of Lightbringer. My choices include a variety of  traditional fantasy elements: faeries, shapeshifters, nomads, and quests; unusual romantic arrangements; trust, betrayal, love, and loss; and a new/old look at werewolves.  (But absolutely no vampires, sparkly or otherwise.)

How to decide?  At least two writer friends have said I should work on something new before I go back to do more revisions, and I’m inclined to agree.  I spent a lot of time revising various manuscripts the last couple of years, so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything new (except for this blog).

I’ve decided to write what calls to my heart, rather than choosing a project that might do the most good for my career.  For one thing, I’m not sure at this early stage that I can know which project will be most successful.  Professional editors don’t always know which book will take off and capture the attention of the reading public, so how can I?  For another, if you’re not writing something you enjoy, the “juice” won’t be there.  I had a hard time with Lightbringer for that very reason.  And third, life is short.  It takes me at least a year to write and revise a full length novel.  If I’m going to spend that much time with the people in my head, I’d better like them.

 

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Discovering Your Niche As a Writer

I was on a panel at the Mission Branch Library last Saturday.  Our RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter is doing a series of  four talks called “Amore and More.”  The topic of our talk was “Discovering Your Niche.”  Aside from the fact that I didn’t remember to promote it on my FaceBook page, it went very well.  We had four articulate authors (Amy Bright, Lisa Cotrell-Bentley, Lorelie Brown, et moi) who all write in different sub-genres and we all came to find our places in the writing universe by different routes.

Amy Bright, like me, started out as a literary snob (her words, not mine) but came to understand that the romance genre can boast of some of the most highly educated readers and authors and some of the wittiest dialogue out there.  She loves research, which is good because she writes in the Regency period, which has some of the most devoted (and knowledgeable) fans.

Lisa Cotrell-Bentley has been interviewed in this blog and she publishes and writes chapter books for (and featuring) home-schooled kids.

Lorelie Brown understands the practicalities of marketing, but likes to buck the trends.  Her first book, Jazz Baby, is a historical set in the 1920s during Prohibition.  Her next (coming later this year) is a western called Catch Me.

And then there was me, Frankie Robertson, writing in the paranormal sub-genre.  Paranormal romance has a broad definition.  It includes stories about vampires, shape-shifters, ghosts, psychics, witches, fairies, time-travelers, demons, angels, and aliens.  Usually one or both of the protagonists are “different,” the romance is essential to the plot, and of course there has to be a happy ending.

As all of the speakers remarked in one way or another, finding your niche can be journey of self-discovery.  It may take several tries before you find the best fit for you.  The standard advice is to write what you read, but when you read widely, as I do, that advice can lead to quite a trip.  I’ve written fantasy, horror, erotic historical fantasy, romantic suspense, and contemporary paranormal romance.  And while it’s easier to advance your career when you stick to one path (or so the conventional wisdom says) my favorites are romantic fantasy and modern day paranormal.

But whatever I write,  I like to put Romance, Mystery, and Magic in my stories.

 

 

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