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Author interview: Eileen Troemel, USA Today Bestseller

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Eileen Troemel, USA Today Bestselling Author
USA Today Bestselling Author Eileen Troemel.

I’m thrilled to welcome Eileen Troemel, a USA Today Bestseller author of action-packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. Eileen’s diverse books – such as Through Destiny’s Eyes and Paranormal Investigators – reveal her versatility in writing various genres.

Congratulations on becoming a USA Today Bestseller. How did you feel when you found out?

It was stunning, exciting, and surprising!  It was a day when everyone in the anthology was watching and hoping.  There was a lot of excitement.  I got it and did a little happy dance.  I texted my out-of-state daughters and let my daughter and husband know.  I texted all my sisters and I think my nieces and nephews. 

What 3 key tips do you recommend for readers looking for a good book?

Don’t look solely at the cover or the blurb – the quality of these is based on the thickness of an author’s wallet. 

Read a sample – if you have the ability to get into the book and can read a page or two that should tell you whether you will like the writing style of the author.

Try to overlook punctuation and simple grammar errors.  I know every author should make the best book they can but some authors tell a good story – they just don’t know all the comma rules or similar grammar rules.

What books do you enjoy reading?

I like the classics.  I’ve not read nearly enough of them.  EE Cummings is one of my favorites.  But I also LOVE dragon books – whether it’s a dragon shifter or a dragon.  You can usually get me to open the cover.  Thea Harrison – I love her books and wish I had more time to read more of them.  JD Robb – her in death series I’m usually right on top of them when they come out. 

I love science fiction and fantasy. I also like a good western.  Louis Lamour is amazing.  I like Shakespeare and I’ve read the Iliad and Odyssey a number of times.  I’m kinda all over the place. 

Is there a book you read that made a change in your life? How did it change you?

Life Magic by Susan Bowes  For most of my life, I considered myself an agnostic.  When I read this book I found my path for spiritualism.  The power in her words resonated deep inside me.   

When did you start writing novels and who/what motivated you to write?

In my late 30s, I found myself very dissatisfied with myself.  I’d had my kids, was married, and loved all of them but was very unhappy.  I hadn’t seriously written much since my late teens so I went back to writing.  I started with poetry, short stories, novel starts, and flash fiction. 

But I always knew I wanted to write books.  I think that started in grade school when I was given an assignment of writing a short story.  It was the first time I realized you could tell stories and have them published.  I was 8 but it took me a long time to get to a place where I was writing seriously. 

I was 50 when I published my first 8 books.  Poetry, self-help, romance, fantasy… all in my first year of self-publishing after years of attempting to be published traditionally. 

Books by USA Today bestseller Eileen Troemel
Books by USA Today bestseller Eileen Troemel.

Were there any major changes in your writing career? Highs and lows?

I don’t know about drastic highs and lows.  I tell my stories. I know that I’ve had weeks where I seem to get dumped on – comments from other authors, bad reviews, or even bad rejection letters… one in a week isn’t bad but when you get a bunch of them, it can be overwhelming. 

I’ve said more than once – maybe I should stop.  Then I don’t write for a couple of days (sometimes only hours) and I am reminded why I’m writing. 

I want to tell these stories that are in my head.  I remind myself no one has to like them.  I’d love for everyone to love them but the reality is not everyone will.  It’s okay for readers to not like my stuff.  I just have to keep trying to craft that better story.

What was your first published story and what is it about?

Secret Past.  It was my first novel I published.  I tried for years to get it published through a variety of different publishers.  I had interest from them but not a lot of follow-throughs.  It took me ten years to write so I was invested in the story and hadn’t learned a lot.  I’m not giving you a link – this book is in my pile to get an updated edit and new cover.  I love the story but I see too many flaws in it now. 

Secret Past is a contemporary romance thriller.  Dee has a past – one she’s not willing to talk about.  Nick is an ex-Navy Seal turned private detective.  He wants to know everything about her.  The more she says no, the more he needs to know.  His need to know causes her past to catch up with her in the worst way.  Rather than let her disappear from his life Nick opts in for whatever she needs to feel safe.  Dee wants the house, kids, and white picket fence but with her past doesn’t think she’ll get it. 

I think it’s a solid story.  It’s been seven years since I published it.  It needs a stronger edit to make it a better book. 

What advice do you have to new authors?

Lots… lots and lots…

I think first and foremost – write the story.  Write it your way, in whatever order works for you, in whatever manner works for you.  Get the story told.  Everything can be fixed in editing.  So just get it entered in the computer or written. 

There are four areas you almost need to be an expert in if you’re going to be a self-published author – Writing, Editing, Graphics, and Marketing.  If you aren’t an expert, then pay someone to do the job for you. 

Do not ever complain about the readers or the reviews you get.  One if you’ve got readers – YEAH!!!  Two if you managed to get them to write a review – thank them for their time.  Most books are not 5-star reviews.  Most books range from 2 to 4 stars. 

How do you get over writer’s block?

I don’t get writer’s block.  I have pauses in my stories.  I have pauses in my writing process.  In general, I don’t get writer’s block.  If one set of characters isn’t talking to me another set will.  I often have two to four manuscripts going at once. 

The one time I stopped writing was around my mother’s death.  As executor of her estate, I balanced the grief, the tasks to do with her funeral, the tasks to deal with her estate, and then family.  I stopped writing for almost a year.  It was bad for my mental health.  When I started back up again, I realized the lack of writing caused a lot of negativity in my life.  It wasn’t easy to start up again.  I didn’t like anything but… I started in and just wrote. 

How do you handle criticism, from beta-reading to after your story is published?

Whether it comes from a beta reader or a book review doesn’t matter.  I try to take in what they have to say, analyze whether it’s valid or not and then use it to make the book better.  It depends on what they are saying. 

That’s my grown-up response to it.  Sometimes when I get a negative review it throws me into a funk.  I really don’t expect 5-star reviews but at the same time, there’s the creative person inside me that’s going – What?  Wait?  I put my heart and soul into this… and well it goes from there. 

But then I put on my business person’s hat and analyze.  Is there something I can do without (if it’s published) drastically changing the story?  Is there something I can put in the blurb that will make people realize it’s “that” rather than having different expectations? 

Ultimately I attempt to turn the critique into something I can use to make my books better.

Have you ever dealt with rejection and how did you handle it?

I tried to get published for more than ten years.  I used to keep a file of rejection letters – yes actual letters.  I can’t tell you how many submission packets I’ve sent or how many rejections I’ve gotten.  I stopped counting. 

At first, it was all HOPE as soon as it was sent and then nerves about waiting anywhere from 3 to 6 months to get an answer.  Then a letter (or email) would come and dash my HOPE away.  Eventually, I just figured I’d get rejections.

I’ve gotten mean rejections – one said I shouldn’t write again.  That was for my poetry.  They did not like it apparently. 

If I actually got something more than a – thanks but no thanks – from them, I tried to use it to improve my books. 

What is the nicest thing anyone has said about your work?

One of my readers who had just finished reading my Wayfarer series told me she couldn’t put it down from the prequel to the eighteenth book.  That was wonderful to hear but then she took it over the top by telling me, even though she just finished the series, she wanted to go back and read it again.  I was over the moon with that. 

She recently told me she was in a book funk and nothing appealed.  She said she was looking for another Adara / Decker match and series but not finding it.  So she was going to read the series again to see if she could get rid of the funk. 

What is the one key takeaway advice you would give to anyone who wants to become a published author?

Being a published author is just getting started when you’ve finished the book.  There’s the production of the book and then there’s marketing the book.  So don’t throw something together willy nilly and expect to be a millionaire author.  It takes time and work.

What do you do when you’re not writing? (hobbies, e.g. crochet? )

Yes, though writing can become all-consuming, I do several other things.  I like to paint, craft and crochet.  In fact, I publish my own crochet patterns.  I also read when I get the chance.  Researching family history is another of my hobbies. 

Is there a particular book you would like to feature? 

The Moon Crossing which I co-wrote with Jan Selbourne. 

Eileen, thank you so much for your time and the great insight you have given both readers and writers. Eileen has shared a blurb and excerpt of The Moon Crossing, which she authored with another amazing author Jan Selbourne.

>> The novel is available on Amazon.

The Moon Crossing by Eileen Troemel and Jan Selbourne.

The Moon Crossing

Blurb

USA Today Bestselling Author Eileen Troemel and 2019 winner of Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the year silver medal for Historical Fiction Jan Selbourne present an alternate history, sweet romance of life after the Moon Landing in 1969.

In 2030, World Correction Center – the Earth’s most secure prison – is a miserable place to land. Since it’s on the moon, it’s inescapable. It contains the worst criminals Earth has ever seen. So why are the brilliant minds across the globe being sent to this black hole of the justice system?

When world-renowned archeologist Micky Cooper is charged with embezzling, his sister Susan knows it’s a set up. It’s up to her to prove his innocence. Susan thinks she might be paranoid but she swears she’s being followed and should she trust the nice man whose cousin has disappeared as well? Was it just a chance meeting or is he against her too?

Teaming up with Greg Tanner, a man equally resolved to prove the innocence of his cousin, Samantha Tanner – a world leading linguist. Susan and Greg seek clues wherever they can find them but they’re barely keeping one step ahead of those who want them to stop.

They begin to unravel the web of lies, fraud and cover up. Just when they start to put the pieces together, Susan and Greg are forced to run for their lives. With a nudge from Samantha, they find someone to help. Is this woman an ally? Or simply part of a greater conspiracy to hide the truth? What exactly is on the moon and why are the Earth’s greatest minds being sent there to serve time?

Excerpt

Finally at the front, she saw the little line on the sidewalk. The signs said no matter what, stay behind the line. Why? Did they think her powerful enough to break through a steel cage and bullet proof window? She forced a smile on her face as she fought her own rebellious nature. Putting her toes on the line, she raised her eyes to meet those of the officer.

The officer behind the window glanced her way. She flashed a sweet almost innocent smile to charm him. He paused momentarily, “State the name of the prisoner.”

“Micky… Michael James Cooper,” Susan heard the whir of the computer through the thick walls as the officer typed in her brother’s name. Biting her lip, she waited.

The officer stared at the screen, an eerie green reflection on his face. He glanced at her, frowned, and glanced back to his screen. “He’s not assigned,” the officer said.

“Can you tell me when he will be assigned,” Susan asked stepping closer to the window. She stepped over the line, but no one burst out of the doors to drag her away.

With his Adam’s apple bobbing, the officer looked into her pretty blue eyes. He licked his lips as he took in her tight sweater and her curves. Pencil skirts highlighted her narrow waist and flat stomach. Susan saw the desire she endured from men since she got breasts at ten. Men. She tried to keep the disgust she felt hidden.

“He’s been assigned,” the officer said reluctantly shifting his eyes back to the screen. “There’s no backlog of prisoners. They either get a prison in the US, or they go off to WCC.”

“What’s WCC?”

“World Correctional Center,” he informed.

“Sergeant Brady,” she read off his name from the tag on his gray uniform, “I know you get a lot of flak from people all day long, I don’t want to cause trouble. I want to send my brother some food and other creature comforts.”

Sergeant Brady adjusted his belt as he stood behind the glass and metal counter. “Most likely they sent him to the moon,” he said. “Those designations always take longer to get in the system.”

“May I ask you a simple question,” Susan said putting on her ‘I’m a dumb girl act’.

“Anything I can do to help,” Officer Brady said, grinning when she gave him a half smile.

“I thought they only sent the worst criminals there,” she said leaning forward to give him a better view of her cleavage. “I know Son of Sam and Charles Manson were sent to the dark side of the moon. Why would they send my brother who… well he did something with the computer, and they said he stole money.”

“It’s all up to the International Department of Justice,” Officer Brady said leaning towards the glass. “They assign the prisoners to the prison.”

“You’re so kind,” Susan beamed at him. “Who can I contact…”

“You can’t and you are beyond the line,” snapped an officer behind Brady, who jumped to attention.

“Oh, forgive me,” Susan said stepping back. This man was not swayed by her helpless girl act. “Thank you for your assistance.”

Turning away from the head of the line, Susan felt a flush rush across her face. How dare they? The dark side of the moon. Why send her brother? They convicted him of embezzlement. Murders, mass murderers, traitors were all sent to the dark side of the moon.

About Eileen

USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’s versatile and writes in many genres.  She’ll try almost any genre if it means she can tell a good story.  In addition to her writing, she loves to read, crochet, and research genealogy.  Her best days are spent with her family of three adult daughters and her husband or writing. 

Author links:

Website: https://eileentroemel.com/ 

Twitter https://twitter.com/EileenTroemel

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EileenTroemelAuthor/ 

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/eileentroemel/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/eileen-troemel-6667825b/

MeWe https://mewe.com/i/eileentroemel

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7868345.Eileen_Troemel

The sensitive author

When I was little, I was a sensitive child. A very sensitive one.

If another student at school was feeling miserable, I was that kid who gave a piece of my chocolate to her, hoping to see her smile. That’s who I was then, and it’s who I am today.

My parents told me I was too sensitive. I know they were right, but it was hard when I was easily influenced by energies around me – positive, negative, people on highs and lows…I took it all in, and you know what? It affected me.

Image source: pixabay.com

Let’s go forward to today. I’ve learned to harness my sensitivity with time and experience.

Harnessing sensitivity

I block negative thoughts and feelings, putting up an ice barrier, kind of like the wall from Game of Thrones. Hey, it works brilliantly, which is why I thrived doing the crime and court rounds, which could be gruesome and disturbing when I wrote for newspapers.

Image source: pixabay.com

In situations when I am out of my comfort zone, I’m the quiet person who listens rather than talks, asking people questions, preferring to remain a little mysterious. It’s a technique called deflection.

Deflection means that you’re passing something over to someone else in an attempt to draw the attention away from yourself (cited in https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/what-is-deflection-psychology-explains-this-defense-mechanism/).

However, I make sure my voice is heard when I want to speak up. That’s important.

Image source: giphy.com

Embracing sensitivity

Things are extremely intense when I see, feel, hear, smell, and taste things.

When I’m in the woods or at the beach staring at the ocean, everything around me is so rich. The rolling waves roar at me. The scent of the sea is like a smorgasbord of seafood delights (I love seafood). The wind blows viciously, sinking its icy teeth into my skin.

Image source: pixabay.com

This is great for me when I write my stories. Writing descriptively using the five senses and drawing on cultural references was always one of my strengths. A few friends call me a “sponge,” absorbing everything around me, including cultural references from the past and in the present.

Another advantage of being a sensitive writer is I get to know my characters quickly and in great depth. They become real, and I sense them wherever I am. I’ve learned that my protagonist Sapphire Blake, who is normally an introvert, becomes very open and chatty when she’s with her friend, Vera, from my novel Lessons on Seduction, published by Black Velvet Seductions. This is great for dialogue in the sequel, which I’m working on.

It’s too real at times, so I have to snap back and put that wall that blocks fantasy from seeping into reality.

Dealing with the cons

There is a downside to being sensitive. Sometimes it unleashes incredibly strong feelings, from fury, rage, and sadness to overwhelming joy, mirth, and other emotions when there’s a trigger. If you show me something funny, I can laugh for days.

Noise affects me – television noise, social media noise, and the noise of people talking loudly as I sit and write this blog article. That’s why I have a noise-canceling headset and listen to music that I enjoy.

Image source: pixabay.com

I’m sensitive to people’s energies. So much that I won’t hang out with someone I feel has a lot of negativity coming from them. We all have our issues, but we shouldn’t rain on other people’s parade is my take. In other words, I use my sensitivity to avoid negative people. I’ve learned that I cannot fix others – they need to fix themselves.

Now, I hate crowds. There’s way too much noise! Ironically, I end up in crowds a lot. I have my friends to thank. And, when you get me started, I can be extremely social, not being able to shut up.

Still, too much noise affects me, and that is why I end to shut off from the world to recharge my batteries.

Image source: pixabay.com

How about you?

Are you a sensitive writer? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Image source: giphy.com

So, you want to get published?

By Estelle Pettersen, author of Lessons on Seduction.

Lessons on Seduction, an erotic romance novel by E Pettersen
Lessons on Seduction, an erotic romance novel by Estelle Pettersen, published by Black Velvet Seductions.

I’m writing this blog post for aspiring writers who dream to have their books published one day. I hope this will help you make clever choices as part of your publishing journey.

Are you looking for a publisher?

Okay, so you’ve spent time researching (this is a MUST), writing, editing, editing, and editing your story. Have I emphasized the editing part enough? You’re now feeling ready and excited to submit your story to an agent or publisher.

There’s been a lot of buzz, hype, and excitement about finding publishers, but here’s what you need to know, because amid the good publishers, there are many sharks out there. When I mean sharks, I’m referring to:

Vanity publishers

Vanity publishers offer you contracts where you pay an arm, leg, foot, or kidney to have your work published. With some vanity publishers, you pay for all the services, but you don’t even own the book because they may demand in the contract the same rights over the book as a traditional publisher would. Does this sound fair? My advice: don’t do it.

They paint themselves as credible but Google them. Google publisher reviews on them. Be wary. Their game is a dirty business, driven by what they can milk out of you, not giving a d-mn about the quality of your content.

You’re only selling yourself short because what have you really achieved? If your work is truly outstanding and you’ve jumped too soon in bed with a vanity publisher, you’ll always be questioning yourself, “What if I had gone with a traditional publisher?” When I talk about traditional publishing in this sense, I’m referring to the Writer’s Digest definition:

Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.”

(source: https://writersdigestshop.com/pages/how-to-publish-a-book-an-overview-of-traditional-self-publishing)

False agents

False agents will pitch your book to publishers for an inflated fee. What happens? You end up paying a lot of money and they do the work you could have done: send a generic email to a ton of publishers but nothing is personalized; it’s just a big blast.

Companies that claim to have direct contacts with publishers and will write your synopsis and submission letter for a large amount of money also fall into this category. Plus, you can pay more! Why? Because there are add-ons if you want more, such as a tracking list of publishers/agents, edited chapters of your manuscript, etc.

For goodness sake, don’t you trust your own writing and research skills? If you can write your own story, you should be able to write your own synopsis and submission letter. And guess what? Doing it yourself is free!

Cold-calling publishers

Cold-calling publisher. If you’re a Wattpad user and you’ve been contacted on the platform, please report it as spam.

These are ‘Publishers’ who approach you out of the blue, claiming that they love your work and offer to send a contract. Do they even know your name? Have they really read your novel? What do they like about your work? Did they even mention your novel title in their message? Be very careful about what they promise because all that glitters ain’t gold. Do not lock yourself into a contract that seems too easy and too good to be true.

Did you check their platform and see how many readers they actually have? Or how many stories they have? Are they quality stories? Will you be lost in the sea, competing with others who have been promised the same shady, shoddy deal? My advice: stay away from them.

Find a publisher that best fits your book. Aim for a publisher with a good reputation. Image source: Pixabay.com

Good publishers don’t:

  • Approach you out of the blue. They’re often going through submissions and picking the ones that are the right fit for their publishing goals.
  • Ask you to pay a ridiculous amount of money to cover publishing or marketing costs. This is a general statement as there are some good hybrid publishers out there who do give a fair deal.
  • Offer a small percentage of sale returns – your share (eg. 5%).
  • Hike the price for your book’s selling price so that it’s harder to sell.
  • Aggressively push you to sign the contract with haste.
  • Leave you in the dark when it comes to marketing your book.

Good publishers do:

  • Have a submission process where writers (or agents on behalf of writers) are encouraged to submit a manuscript, based on the publisher’s requirements.
  • Offer a contract where you, as the author, are not required to foot a hefty amount toward the publishing of your book. That’s right, you heard me. The publisher pays you, not the other way around.
  • Offer a fair percentage of sales returns – your fair share.
  • Price your book so it’s at a competitive price, including a presale prior to the book’s release. The book’s price will be similar to other books in your subgenre.
  • Give you a reasonable deadline to sign the contract.
  • Encourage you and guide you with marketing your book, and offer promotional opportunities and events. This includes developing a social media presence and offering suggestions such as having an author’s website among other things.

There’s one last thing that good publishers do: they believe in you. I chose to go the hard road and persevere with my writing. It took me two years from draft to final manuscript of Lessons on Seduction, and I did my research on publishers.

I found my publisher Black Velvet Seductions after doing my homework and checking for erotic romance publishers with great reviews in the publishing industry. It was also listed on renowned sci-fi and fantasy author Piers Anthony’s website, in the publishers’ list.

Make your writing and publishing journey an enjoyable one. Image source: Pixabay.com

Finally, there are three platforms I recommend, where you can meet and interact with other readers and writers to help you grow in your writing journey:

  1. Wattpad
  2. Radish Fiction (by application only, they can be tough on screening content quality)
  3. Inkitt (by application).

I’ve got a presence in all three platforms (I’ve only got draft sample stories on the latter two and haven’t been too active; I just don’t have the time to stretch, sorry!), but I’m most active in my role as an ambassador for Wattpad, doing my best to give other writers a helping hand. I believe we can all succeed. I really do!

Whatever your goals are, please be patient. Please be persistent, and please persevere. Every author who has a contract with a publisher will tell you that they have had to persevere before they get their work published.

The other option, of course, is to self-publish. However, I would suggest trying an agent or publisher first. Why? They can open the door for you in so many ways and can give a boost to lift first-time authors. You can also meet other more experienced authors (with the same publisher) who you can learn from and grow.

I’ll write some more about publishing, but I thought this is a good start.

Authors supporting authors. Image source: giphy.com

Useful links:

The story behind Flowers for Kate in Rainbow Desire

I enjoyed writing Flowers for Kate, a short story about a fictional character named Kate Calloway, who seeks true love in the late 1980s. No, her love interest is not a dashing man, but Dahlia, a stunning woman who would make your mouth water with desire.

The story is part of the Rainbow Desire anthology published by Black Velvet Seductions.

What is the story about?

It’s 1988, a decade after video killed the radio star. Disco’s out of fashion, and pop music dominates the dance floor.

At twenty-two, Kate Calloway is a bangle-loving university student finding her way in life with her friends. She’s allergic to pollen and hates flowers until she meets the mysterious Dahlia, a florist who takes her breath away.

Kate wants Dahlia, but does Dahlia feel the same for Kate? Will they forge an unbreakable bond of love, or will circumstances tear them apart?

>> Find out in this short story about finding true love.

How did I feel about writing an LGBTQ+ romance?

It was an incredible experience! I felt so free writing the story, and the flow was amazing – everything went smoothly. Flowers took an unexpected and eerie turn, with a surprising twist about 80 percent into the story when I was writing it.

I’ve written about characters who are heterosexual, pansexual, and bisexual, but Kate was the first woman I wrote about who had zero interest in men. A few people asked me if this would be challenging, but I shook my head and simply got to know Kate – she’s a welcoming character, bringing me into her world.

Pushing away people-driven doubt

Despite people-driven doubt on my ability to write Kate’s story, I immersed myself in her world as I burned the midnight candle. Of course, there is research in the stories I write (as a former journalist it’s important to get your information right). The fun part about going back to 1988 was listening to music from artists/bands such as Bananarama, Eric Carmen (remember Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing?), U2, Cyndi Lauper, and The Bangles.

What message does Kate bring?

Kate brings a message of empowerment (of course! It wouldn’t be me writing any other way), hope, and friendship. And, love is a given – always in my stories.

Kate showed me the power of friendship and how our friends can be the family we need in times of trouble. However, we need to pick our friends carefully – the true diamonds from the fairweather friends. You learn who your real friends are when you put yourself first – your physical and emotional health. Kate can count on three friends (Andy, Frances, and Jasper) who are her family by choice. Friendship works both ways, and she proves to be a loyal friend from start to end.

Friendship is such a powerful gift and we must always treasure our true friends.

Anyway, that’s it from me. You can preorder your ebook copy of Rainbow Desire, published by Black Velvet Seductions.

Book links:

I’ll leave you with an awesome tape mix – Guardians of the Galaxy, which features songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s – whichever decade you fancy. Yes, I’m a Marvel comics fan. 😉

Secret Love by F. Burn

Secret Love, a steamy novel by F Burn

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

Francesca Gabel, a learning support assistant, accepts a post at a prestigious Catholic boys’ school. She manages to form a bond with a challenging student named Richard Cunningham, but the lines begin to blur as they become closer. Francesca experiences an internal struggle as she grapples to control her feelings.

The passion they develop for one another consumes them as they enter a world of forbidden love and desire. Is it true love or a simple case of lust? Francesca must make a decision: give in to Richard and face the consequences or let him go.

Review:

A steamy, passionate, and emotionally powerful book

Secret Love by F. Burn was love at first sight for me. Firstly, the cover caught my eye before I bought it – it was one of the most beautiful romance covers I’d seen, depicting the inner torment of two lovers.

Secondly, it was a refreshing change to come across an older woman/younger man romance – it’s given readers diversity. Thirdly, this romance was a steamy read and for me, the steamier the better! I loved the passion and tease between the couple and how they took their time to invest in each other emotionally before diving into the physical side of their relationship.

The emotional and psychological aspects of the story hooked me from start to finish – I read the book in one sitting, then re-read it over the weekend. A truly gripping story!

When the White Knight Falls by Virginia Wallace

When the White Knight Falls

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

The lovely and talented Kate McCoy once thought that her future was predictable, and secure. Classical music was her passion, and she was inarguably the mistress of her craft.

Then she met Alec Murdenson…

Alec knows nothing of orchestras; he’s a rocker, through and through. The ferocity of his music seems out of place when viewed alongside his easy smile, and his sense of humor… not to mention his handsome face, and striking green eyes.

But there is something else lurking behind his riveting gaze, an entity that is both Alec and yet not Alec at all. That phantasm is more than a little disturbing; perhaps it is even a cold-blooded monster.

As Kate becomes tangled within Alec’s web, she is forced to re-think everything she once thought she knew. In so doing, she must make a horrific choice: Either run for the hills…

Or embrace a man who understands human depravity better than she ever could.

Review:

Hot, fiery, and unforgettable rock star romance

Kate and Alec are talented musicians with a lot of creativity and strong personalities. The chemistry between them is powerful, and it’s clear that they care for each other. There were emotional moments (I won’t give away any spoilers) where I felt sorry for the characters. I also learned a few things about the music industry through Kate and Alec’s experiences.

I loved, loved, loved the ending! I couldn’t get it out of my head and still keep re-reading the last few chapters.

This is the first rock star romance that I’ve completed reading and thoroughly enjoyed.

Edgeplay by Annabel Allan

Edgeplay by Annabel Allan

Buy the book for $2.99

Blurb

By day, Ava Goode is in the insurance game, getting her work done and being a model employee. But by night, she retreats to her secret world where she Dominates those that seek to submit to her.


This private world gets turned upside down the moment she meets Gabriel Burton; a man who is not only successful, but works for her father—and dating men in her father’s office is a big no-no. But, it’s hard to resist your deepest desires, especially when they kneel before you and kiss your feet, like a good boy.

Review:

A daring five-star erotic romance novel

Edgeplay by Annabel Allan had everything I was looking for in an erotic romance novel that dared to be different. I loved Ava’s strength – she’s a real hero with a strong voice, and she’s an incredibly empowering character. This is great, as I’m not a fan of weak voices.

If you’re looking for a book that accurately portrays BDSM, this is it. The descriptions in the steamy scenes were intense and felt so real – which is another thing that made this story stand out from other erotic romances I’ve read.

Well done to the author for an excellent plot, the twists, and the suspense!

Oh, and if you’re looking for a hunky book boyfriend, Gabriel is gorgeous! Edgeplay is book one in the Goode Pain series and I intend to read all the books in this series.

Book review: Patrick

Patrick by Callie Carmen.

by Callie Carmen

Blurb:

Jaq had no interest in a serious relationship because life at an early age had taught her that men weren’t to be trusted. But she met Patrick who soon had her thinking about risking her heart. For Patrick the time for Jaq dating other men had ended. He wanted her all to himself. But would she stay if she knew the secrets of his past?

Patrick wasn’t the only man who wanted Jaq, and the other man was willing to kill to have her. Patrick is the first novel in the Risking Love series. The stories chart a group of friends through life and love. These steamy stories will have you laughing, crying, and have your heart racing.

Review:

I enjoyed reading Patrick by Callie Carmen and couldn’t put it down over the long weekend. Jaq, the protagonist, is a woman with a strong voice and I like women with strong voices in romance novels.

I can see why she fell in love with Patrick – he was every bit the loving partner; he’s smart, sexy, respectful, and not to mention hot! I enjoyed the suspense in the plot, which kept me on my toes, and the steamy scenes put my phone on fire! I loved it and will be reading the next book in the Risking Love series.

Story: A Bad Fall

By Daria Lamtsova

Wattpad review

A Bad Fall by Daria Lamtsova.

Blurb:

He’s young, prominent and razor blade sharp. Dylan Pratt is a financial analyst who thought that understanding human behaviour in the world of finance meant he could decipher people in general.

However, he was wrong. Very wrong.

After a long rift with his best friend, Sam, life brings them together within the walls of the same bank. This moment follows such an ordinary event of hiring a new assistant for Dylan – a young girl whose name is Dakota.

Once the lifelines of these three cross, a chain of unordinary events start to evolve. Dylan notices that there is a connection between his friend Sam and his new assistant Dakota. However, both deny any existence of a previous link. Soon Dylan realises that he is falling in love with Dakota. Despite mutual feelings, the girl distances herself from venturing into a relationship with him.

At the same time, changes in the life of Dylan’s sister Dionne, such as an announced engagement, remind him not only about the reason of his long-lasting rift with Sam, but also serves as a memory of Dylan’s background – which was far from the life of a white-shoe boy, as others could think of him. In just several days after an accidental weekend with Dakota, Dylan goes through a carousel of discoveries.

He finally realises what the real love is and what kind of skeleton his family keeps in the closet. But the darkest of those discoveries is a secret his best friend and his crush share together, and the fact that Dylan becomes an inseparable part of their secret.

Review:

A Bad Fall is written mainly from a male POV and the protagonist, Dylan, is an alpha male who seems to have it all. However, he has his vices and a very interesting back story, which is threaded intricately with the overall plot.

The characters are full of depth, the writing is sharp and straight-to-the-point, and I really empathized with Dylan every step of the way. The dialogue is brilliant – it could easily have been scripted into a movie. The story is full of twists and elements of surprises, which I love. The writer has a great technique of storytelling and character development.

Making the most of an Easter lockdown

For many of us, the Easter holiday gives us a bit of time off work or study to relax and spend time relaxing. During these COVID times, it may mean a different way of celebrating Easter.

My partner and I decided to stay ‘in town’ instead. We picked up our swags (bags) and slept in a hotel for a few days. Our time away from home meant that we let go of cooking, cleaning, or doing the laundry for a few days.

Celebrate a book launch

We also celebrated the launch of Cowboy Desire, an anthology of sweet to raunchy romances by 14 authors with romance publisher Black Velvet Seductions. It was a fun day of interaction with authors and readers, as well as old friends I hadn’t spoken to for a while.

Celebrating the Cowboy Desire anthology launch. Image: author’s own.

See a movie

My partner and I watched Gunda, a brilliantly constructed documentary directed by Viktor Kossakovsky about the circle of life in a barnyard. My partner didn’t quite enjoy it so much (he groaned loudly when I showed him this part of the blog article 😕) … Just as I don’t enjoy many popular films.

This is a poster for Gunda (2020 film), retrieved from Wikipedia, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rekindle the joy of reading

What else did I do? Yep, I read. And read. And read.

By the time this blog is out, I would have finished two books that I started a while ago but took longer than expected due to the busyness (and business 😂) of life:

  1. A White Knight Falls by Virginia Wallace. Oh my goodness, where do I start? This is the first rockstar romance I’ve (soon) fully finished reading. I can relate to the ferocity of the female main character, Kate, and was captivated by the ‘love/hate’ passion between her and fellow musician/love interest Alec. Virginia was smart with the way she weaved the reflective moments in the book. The descriptions were perfect, and the story had a great twist toward the end.
A White Knight Falls by Virginia Wallace. Publisher: Black Velvet Seductions. Cover designed by: Jessica Greeley.
  1. A Merman’s Choice by Alice Renaud. I haven’t been transported to the magical world of merpeople since I was about ten, pretending to be a mermaid and buying a ‘wishing’ bracelet that didn’t transport me to a magical place. Well, the author must’ve put a spell on me because I was transported to that magical place I’d wanted to be in years ago. Alice spun a wonderful story that made me feel I was really there with Yann, the gorgeous shape-shifting merman, and his lover Alex.
A Merman’s Choice by Alice Renaud. Publisher: Black Velvet Seductions. Cover designed by: Jessica Greeley.

If you’ve got time off this Easter or any holiday, I hope that you make time to rediscover the things you love most.

Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy.

Have a peaceful, safe, and happy holiday. 😊

Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day in 2021.

According to UN Women, all women deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence. We’re talking about equal rights where women should have an integral role when it comes to decision-making.

The media empower our voices

The media play an important role in influencing our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors when it comes to perceptions of the roles women and men play at work, at home, and in relationships.

I am thankful for podcasts such as Speak Seductively, hosted by five-star romance/erotica author Kyle Canon and his partner Lilly. Lilly Canon is a model, narrator of audiobooks a naturist, and, with Kyle, a swinger. Their podcast explores relationships from a #sexpositive perspective.

The topics on their show include the ‘difference between art, erotica, and pornography’, BDSM, and bring up themes of empowerment in their interviews with various authors.

I was recently interviewed by Kyle and Lilly, and we had a wonderful chat about strong voices in romance novels. We also talked about my female character’s journey in embracing her femininity and emancipating from controlling relationships. Finally, we discussed the importance of trust and communication, which are empowering factors in relationships.

Recommended read (certified STEAMY!)

>> The Resort by Kyle Canon

Romance books influence empowerment

As a romance reader and writer, International Women’s Day is a personal reminder of the stories that made a lasting impression when I was in my teens and early twenties.

Back then, I was influenced by romance novels where the woman came second to the man. He was the rich guy. The smart guy. The strong guy. The playboy. He was the guy with a career, may it be business, law, or a hotel empire.

The female character would, of course, be a virgin or celibate. She would try to outwit her playboy love interest with halfwit jokes. She pretended to be dumb, played silly mind games, and came up with failing tactics. She was less powerful socially, depended on her hero financially, and her voice faded like wallpaper losing its luster as the story progressed. Ultimately, she needed him to ‘save’ her (and the story plot).

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels.

Right now, I feel angry at my younger self for being such a gullible reader. Yes, I admit that I wanted the hero to stomp into my life, throw me over his shoulder, and ‘rescue’ me. Back then, I was someone who accepted the status quo and took in all the kicks in the gut that came my way. Looking back, I’m glad I abandoned the books and waved good-bye to my old life.

I started reading a different type of romance book, thanks to a few good friends. I had never read an erotic romance until this point, and the books my friends put in my hands were eye-popping. The novels transported my curious mind to a place where women could dominate their lovers (both men and women) freely.

In addition to the BDSM books, I read other novels that had great messages on equal rights. These books helped me strengthen the voice I have today. I learned that the hero and heroine cooperated and communicated to achieve their journey together. These stories were enjoyable to read and I would read them again.

You have the power to empower others

I want to challenge every romance reader on International Women’s Day and every other day:

  • Are you willing to put aside stories that weaken our voices and diminish our role as equal human beings?
  • Will you read a book that portrays women having an integral role when it comes to decision-making?
  • Will you share with your friends a book you’ve read that portrays women having an equal future, breaking away from stigma, stereotypes, and violence?

International Men’s Day

Later in the year, on November 19, we will celebrate International Men’s Day. This year’s theme is “Better relations between men and women.” The day celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

I believe it’s important that men are portrayed accurately and that stories show their sensitive side. A man who shows empathy, kindness, and feelings is a man of great strength.

Let’s do both genders a favor and portray them as equals. After all, together, we are stronger.

Upcoming stories:

Loving Jack in Cowboy Desire, an anthology of country and western romances by 14 talented romance authors.

>>>Romance books that empower by publisher Black Velvet Seductions

Editing your story: what you need to know

Tips on book editing

How do you edit your story before submitting your manuscript to a publisher? Do you use a professional editor? Or do you self-edit?

My recommendation, from personal experience, is to get another pair of eyes to look over your work.

I’m not talking about readers who leave comments or reviews in a writing community, but someone with professional publishing experience: an editor who has the right skills, qualifications, and experience in the editing and publishing world.

Also, find someone who specializes in your genre so they can spot things related directly to your book’s genre. For example, if you’re a romance writer, then get an editor with experience in the romance genre, rather than a nonfiction editor.

Here are the common excuses for not getting your story properly edited:

  1. I can’t afford a proper editor
  2. I’ve got good enough editing skills – after all, I topped my high school English class
  3. I’m terrified of having my story criticized and butchered to pieces

I’m hoping this article will help writers to consider how a more thorough editing process with the right editor will help boost the chances of a publisher saying “yes” to a manuscript. Of course, you need to take in other factors, for example, is the story potentially ‘hot’ in the market? Is it sellable? That’s why publishers have acquisitions editors.

A good editor can give your book the boost it needs.

1. I can’t afford a proper editor

My question to you is: have you looked hard enough? If you’re still telling me the same thing, then keep looking.

There are editors who are affordable and great to work with. Google is your friend. Ask around in writing groups, community forums, or social media book-related groups. Facebook has a plethora of groups where readers, writers, and editors unite to support each other.

Instagram and Twitter are other places where you can find editors and editing companies.

Writers’ associations also namedrop editors from time to time. There are different freelance websites too, so check these out. Pick your editors carefully; check that they have the right language skills that match the language of your manuscript. Try to find someone with industry experience (they’ve been around long enough to pass on their first-hand knowledge and experience).

There are different types of editors including developmental editors, structural editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. I won’t go into detail in this blog article, but you can read 6 Types of Editing on Reedsyblog to determine what editing suits your needs best.

2. I’ve got good enough editing skills

Avoid following this guy. Push away your pride and allow yourself to be humble during the editing process.

You scored top grades in your high school English class and got into a literature or journalism course. In fact, you work as a writer, editor, or communications professional in your day job. Heck, you’ve even got a Master’s degree.

You don’t need an editor, right? Why waste time and money when you can do it yourself? You’ve received enough comments, ratings, story “likes”, and other feedback from your writer’s group and community platforms for stories. Your story has been handpicked by the organizers of the community to be officially featured. Your readers tell you how much they love your story and how it made them cry, laugh, etc.

Sounds familiar?

Hmm, yeah. However, is our self-edited work good enough for publishers?

C’mon, let’s be serious. If self-editing has worked for you, then that is an achievement and I’m your cheerleader. I know someone who had his work traditionally published after years of self-editing, and I have a copy of his book on my bookshelf (I’ve read it twice and it’s really good). 🙂

However, many of us aren’t that lucky. The reality is that you may not be the best person to edit your work.

Let someone else be the second pair of eyes to give you sound advice and help you find the flaws in your story, may it be plot or character development, grammar and spelling errors, or even using a style guide that’s different from ones that the publishers use. There are some things good editors pick up that programs such as Grammarly don’t spot.

3. I’m terrified of having my story criticized and butchered to pieces

Sometimes book surgery is necessary to succeed.

Well, would you rather wait until you get butchered to pieces by reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, or other places?

Editors are meant to help you progress, not hinder you. Trust your manuscript in the hands of good editors and you’ll thank them later.

Allow them to criticize and perform surgery on your manuscript. They may save your book’s life. No publisher wants a sloppy manuscript, nor do they want to see poorly developed characters or flimsy plots. If your story is filled with purple prose and overly long and boring descriptions, it’ll end up in file number thirteen (the trash).

I challenge you to find the toughest editor who might even scare you a little. From personal experience, I found the best editors were my toughest critics. They found flaws that I would never have spotted in a million years!

Can editing help boost your book’s rating?

Good advice from Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird.

I can’t give a definite answer but I’d like to think that a nicely edited book improves its ratings and reviews. Getting your story properly edited might turn a three-star book into a four-star book, or a four-star book into a five-star book. In the world of social media, where emotions and jealousy are rife, there are plenty of trolls who, like loose cannons, may leave a one-star rating with no review. The four and five-star reviews may save your story from tanking on Amazon.

How do you aim to get good reviews? Make sure your story is a top-quality one.

In my case, I depend on readers I don’t personally know to leave reviews because my family and personal friends won’t buy or read my books.

They’re not being mean, believe me (I’m laughing here). I write erotic romances—my mother, sister, brother, and my best friends will not read something I’ve written along the lines of 365 Dni or Fifty Shades of Grey. They don’t want to think of explicit sex scenes with BDSM, kink, and ménage à trois when we catch up. My husband hasn’t read my stories, and he won’t read them either. He’s not interested in hunky gigolos or sexy cowboys.

Other useful articles

Writing with chronic pain

What’s it like being an author, parent, wife, and full-time worker?

Anyone who’s wearing these shoes can tell you that it’s just part of life and you keep at it. I’ve always been running on a high metabolism, so I enjoy juggling a couple of balls in the air – it keeps my momentum going. I’m an introvert by nature, but once you get a conversation started with me, I can talk a million miles an hour and tap into all kinds of crazy topics; it’s like a multi-track where there are several trains running at full speed. Stories come to life in my head, and my characters urge me to write their stories – something I can’t resist.

But what happens when chronic pain strikes? How do you deal with it? How does it affect you? Do you get depressed? How do you live life with chronic pain? Can you still write?

I’ll answer the questions in this blog article.

What happens when chronic pain strikes?

All seemed well until chronic pain came into my life a few years ago. The first was cubital tunnel syndrome (like carpal tunnel syndrome), which I had surgery for, and the healing took six months in 2017. Thanks to exercise, training, and relaxation techniques, my arm is good now.

Then, at the end of 2018, unexpected back pain struck me like an insidious evil carving through my skin and scorching wildfire into my left muscles, nerves, and upper spine. At first, I thought the pain would go away after being prescribed anti-inflammatory medication.

The pain did not go away. In early 2019, an MRI scan revealed a prolapse that required immediate surgery. So, I had the surgery.

Things were meant to improve, but they did not. Now, two years later, I’m still living in pain. These ‘best-of-the-best’ private-sector doctors have all played roles of the gods – there was Apollo, then Asclepius, followed by Sekhmet, Wu Tao, Airmed…and the list goes on for the number of ‘expert’ doctors with numerous degrees and university teaching records who were haughty and oh so omniscient. They claimed to know exactly what’s wrong, but their advice and treatment did not work. What amused me was their arrogance when I dared to say I was still in pain!

Then, there were natural healing therapies by chiropractors, naturopaths, physiotherapists, etc. – including one who left me semi-paralyzed for a few hours and my whole left arm bloated in swollen pain – I had to take my wedding ring off because of the swelling that night and suffered from a blinding headache, attached to the nerve pain stemming across a gridlocked highway from my upper back, down to my arm.

My new local GP is fantastic. He’s like Dr. Gregory House from the TV series named after the character. He’s gone above and beyond the ‘expert’ doctors to try to find an answer and treatment. He’s called different experts in his network, and now, after a six-month wait, I’ll be tested for nerve damage and muscle damage by the head of neurology at a local hospital next week. They may not find an answer, but I live with hope every day.

Do I get depressed?

Of course, I get depressed and anxious. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel any sadness associated with the long-term pain. However, I live for a better day and try to do as much as I normally can without exerting myself. I make use of the outdoors and fresh air.

How do I live with pain?

I work in my day job as I normally would, with the aid of heat packs, ibuprofen gels, and a strong medication that I take for the worst of days – which I take in the evening as it knocks me right out and I wake up feeling groggy after about 12 hours. When I take that medication, I know that I won’t be writing, editing, or doing anything after work hours.

The other thing I do is switch off from social media when needed. I’ll do the best I can to promote my stories, prioritizing my publisher first – but everything else is placed in the ‘noise’ basket. There are so many social media channels and people with questions I don’t always have answers for.

I don’t answer all the questions – only the important ones and yes, I do connect with readers and authors who hold a special place in my heart. I prioritize them first when I’m well enough to be online socially.

I know my limits and switch off when I need to. I don’t give when I cannot give. I know when my tank is running on empty – so that’s when I say to myself, ‘stop now’.

Can I still write?

Yes. Of course! There are windows in my free time when I get a good stretch of minimal pain and that’s when I’m most productive – I’ll prioritize the tasks I need done first, and get these done. Everything else can wait.

I’ve learned to prioritize what I can take in, working with my strengths and weaknesses. As a professional author, the first writing priority is my publisher and activities around my published work. Everything else can wait.

I realize that the least painful days are like windows of opportunity that come – I’ve got a certain amount of time to really focus on completing my writing tasks before the pain intensifies again.

I also have an author PA who does an amazing job promoting my published book, and she’s wonderful. When my pain medication kicks in and it’s lights out for me, I can rest assured that my book is being promoted. It also means that I can use the “feeling well” days to write – again, a focused approach.

What have I learned from living in pain?

I’ve learned to put myself first – that means my health and my family. They come first and that’s not negotiable. We all have our challenges during these COVID times and I need to tackle these challenges with my family first. What would you do? Leave a crying child while you answer a message from a writer who needs feedback on their story? Of course, not! The kids always come first. 🙂

As I said earlier, I do get my ‘blue’ days but I take advantage of my surroundings. If it’s a sunny day, I go for a walk. If there’s a hailstorm outside, I watch my favorite TV show with my husband or read one of my favorite books – right now I’m reading A Merman’s Choice by Alice Renaud, one of the best fantasy romance authors in today’s world – her books are on Amazon.

Will there be better days ahead? Of course, there will be! I plan on doing so much more as an author. As for my health, I know I’ve got a good doctor who’s earnest and he does his best to refer me to the right people – even if it takes time.

I’m hoping for treatment to minimize/mitigate the pain after my visit to the hospital next week. Here’s hoping and praying for the best!

All good things take time.

Bad boys of romance

Bad boys of romance

What’s with the bad boys of romance?

Okay, so I’ve been asked a few times: what’s all the hype about bad boy characters in romance novels?

Well, it’s not news. The ‘bad boys’ have been around for centuries and they are appealing for various reasons. According to the Oxford Dictionary online, a bad boy is “a man who does not conform to approved standards of behavior, especially in a particular sphere of activity.”

In fact, they’ve been in literature for a while, including the biblical times. Let’s take Moses; I mean, c’mon—the guy killed a man, talked to shrubbery, turned his staff into a snake, and divided the Red Sea! Now, that’s pretty badass and impressive, if you ask me.

Let’s skip centuries forward to Dorian Gray. He was hedonistic, vain (yup, that portrait!), indulged in debauchery (oh, poor Sibyl!), and yeah, he killed a guy.

Dorian Gray in a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Okay, let’s travel to the twentieth century: Dirty Dancing. Wasn’t Patrick Swayze a dream? His character, Johnny Castle, makes me swoon. Who can forget the line “nobody puts Baby in a corner?”

Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, in Dirty Dancing.

Today, we have characters like Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades series, Massimo Torricelli from 365 Dni, and Kylo Ren in the Star Wars series (yes, I’m a Star Wars fan!).

The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Next Film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64240288

What’s the appeal?

A study led by Gregory Louis Carter of the University of Durham (cited in Psychology Today) provided insights, revealing that women found men with dark personalities attractive. The results of the study offered two possible explanations. First, sexual selection might be at work; women responded to signals of “male quality” when it came to reproduction. With respect to short-term mating, women may be drawn to “bad boys” who demonstrate confidence, stubbornness, and risk-taking tendencies. Secondly, sexual conflict may be at play. 

Stories with sexual conflict, risks, and a bad boy sounds appealing, right? It seems to work for many successful romance stories. The bad boys are exciting and fun, according to psychologist Robyn McKay, author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century (quoted in Good Housekeeping).

A short-term fiction fling?

Can the bad boys have their happily ever after (HEA) in romance stories? Or will they end up like Heathcliff, Dorian, or some other kind of roadkill?

Carter and his team reported that there were limitations of their study, indicating that the sample they selected were likely to be oriented toward short-term relationships.

Moreover, studies by Urbaniak and Kilmann (2003) and Herold and Milhausen (1999) (cited in Edward Horgan’s Harvard University project “Exceeding the Threshold: Why Women Prefer Bad Boys”) indicate that women adamantly claim to prefer nice guys. Horgan further states that there is an apparent discrepancy within current scientific literature on the subject of female attraction, with regard to the bad boys.

Is there hope for the bad boys?

There seems to be hope, depending on the circumstances. Psychologist Forrest Talley, Ph.D. (quoted in Good Housekeeping) stated that women desired to have someone in their life who was tough enough to face the world and punch back when necessary.

In other words, we don’t mind the tough guys who have a protective side, when they’re on our side. They have an even bigger chance of winning our hearts for good if they are kind, sensitive, and romantic. Interestingly, niceness itself is not an unattractive characteristic but is simply insufficient to garner female attention on its own, according to Horgan.

In my erotic romance novel Lessons on Seduction published by Black Velvet Seductions, my male MC, Julian—a guy who sold his body to pay off his college debt—takes his new girlfriend, Sapphire, for a wild ride before he realizes just how much he loves her. However, he makes some pretty big mistakes. Is it too late for guys like him, though?

Well, not if he’s brave enough to punch back at the world, show his sensitive and sweet nature, and fight for his lover. However, if Julian continues taking Sapphire for granted, then there is no hope for him.

I’m proud of Jules for one thing, though—he’s not an abusive man. I’ve met abusive men in my life, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a pleasant experience. Abuse comes in different forms: mental, emotional, and physical. That is one thing no one should tolerate from any person, bad boy or not, in fiction or real life.

Who’s your favorite bad boy in literature?

I’ll admit my weak spot: I’ve always liked the vampire Lestat from Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. The Lestat I read in her books has more appeal and sensitivity than the movie version played by Tom Cruise in the 1990s film Interview with a Vampire (sorry!).

I also don’t mind hot and charismatic Dracula, played by Gary Oldman in the Francis Ford Coppola film version. While others might swoon over Keanu Reeves, who played Jonathan Harker, I’m more interested in none other than Vlad himself. Why? He’s enigmatic, dangerous, mysterious, and yet, he’s protective of sweet Mina—with all his heart. It’s his capability to love (some may disagree, but I believe Irish author Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a love story as much as it’s a horror fiction), his vulnerability, his protectiveness, and his hungry passion for his true love that I liked.

I can honestly admit I’m a sucker for bad boys who are sensitive, protective, and loving—as long as they’re not abusive.

Over to you: Have you ever imagined riding off into the sunset with a bad boy (or bad girl) character in fiction?

If you’re looking for a hot romance with a bad boy, or a hunky good guy, check out the diverse range of romance books, from sweet to erotic, on publisher Black Velvet Seductions’ website: https://blackvelvetseductions.com/

Resources:

Dispelling the myths of an erotic romance author

I’m enjoying the experience of authorhood with my publisher Black Velvet Seductions. As an avid reader who enjoys writing, I find writing mentally therapeutic.

However, I’ve also learned a few things about exposure and how to deal with it, especially in the erotic romance subgenre.

A number of assumptions come along with being an erotic romance writer. There are those who believe that erotic romance writers are open to illicit proposals, or that we aren’t as intelligent as MBA graduates, or that we write about unsafe sex. I’ve received a growing number of direct or private messages in different channels related to all the above-mentioned assumptions.

Well, sorry to disappoint, but these assumptions of erotic romance authors are usually just myths. Here are a few myths that I’d like to dispel:

1. Erotic romance authors are little vixens waiting for pleasure in our inboxes.

Um, no. We’re regular people who have ordinary lives and we don’t gregariously swing naked on chandeliers while sipping champagne. It does sound rather fun though, but no. In my case, I’m a shy introvert who loves to read books. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was fifteen. Like many erotic romance writers and readers, I also love other genres, including thrillers, gothic horror, classics, poetry, history, politics, and nonfiction books (biographies, business and management books, etc).

2. Erotic romance writing is easier than writing a college paper.

Nope. I can vouch for this one because I’ve done both. So have many of my other author friends. Many erotic romance authors I’ve met are highly educated people (both women and men) who have impressive CVs, broad and diverse. They are highly intelligent and can engage in just about every topic on the planet, from anthropology and sociology to psychology, politics, economics, and business.

I can tell you from personal experience that I found writing erotic romance novels to be harder than writing a Master’s paper. I have an MBA from a top Australian university and have had my academic work published on the topic of leadership. I apply the same analytical techniques of plotting a story as I did with outlines during my postgraduate days.

Strong emotions and character development are involved in writing a romance novel, and I have to admit that the sex scenes can be extremely challenging to write. When I start writing a chapter on the intimate parts, I procrastinate more than I did when I wrote economics or financial management assignments.

The frustration of writing love scenes.

3. Erotic romances don’t promote healthy characters and solid relationships.

I have had this debate with a few people, especially with regard to popular novels and movies where there are blurred lines, and in some cases, misrepresentation of communities. I remember the saying that it takes just one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel.

When I started reading erotic romance novels, I remember the feeling of disillusionment and the need to research the truth (that is a trait from my journalism days, when I was a newspaper reporter). So, I did my research and found documentaries by journalists, as well as other erotic romance novels along the way, where I learned new things on topics such as BDSM, voyeurism, ménage à trois, swinging, and other kinks that come in an erotic romance.

One author whose work I highly recommend is author Annabel Allan, who really knows her stuff when it comes to writing about BDSM and thrilling, suspenseful erotic romances.

Coming soon: Rigged, the third book in the Goode Pain Series by Annabel Allan.

4. Erotic romance authors want dirty private messages.

No. When I see these messages come through, they are often harmless. Still, there is no service to provide, except for the service of delivering enjoyable books to read.

We are writers of erotic content, which includes novels, short stories, prose, and poetry. We are not interested in engaging in personal sexual role play or any other kinky requests.

People who read books as a hobby do it because the stories are pleasant and interesting to them. Our stories are written to give people something of interest to them, which they can read and enjoy.

Looking for erotic romances to read?

My publisher, Black Velvet Seductions, has a wide range of quality romance novels on their website, which include erotic romances.

As of July 30, 2020, my novel Lessons on Seduction, will be available on Amazon and other places in ebook and paperback formats. Buckle up for a wild, emotional ride with a thriller plot.

Recommended resource:

Love Between the Covers, a documentary film on the romance fiction industry. It was recommended to me by @dlcroisette, award-winning Wattpad romance author of the Ruby Red series.

Hot and healthy romances

Lessons on Seduction, a hot erotic romance novel.

It’s been a busy week promoting the cover reveal of my debut erotic fiction novel Lessons on Seduction, published by Black Velvet Seductions. My debut erotic romance novel is available for pre-order on Amazon at a discount price and will be out on July 30.

I know I should be writing a chapter for my next project (a short romance with a hot and sexy Aussie cowboy), but after talking to a few wonderful readers and writers, I have to get this off my chest:

How about a hot, healthy, sensational, and sexy romance this summer?

Are you up for that?

I hope that most of you will be nodding in eager anticipation. Well, there’s no waiting line because here’s a few good romance stories where the heat between the protagonist and the love interest is flammable—which could be a little dangerous in the summer heat! 😉

Here are summer reads I recommend from books I’ve read/am reading from BVS authors:

There’s more, and I’m getting through them – including Paging Dr. Turov by Gibby Campbell and A Thread of Sand by Alan Souter.

What I love most about these books is while they’re ultra-hot and steamy, they also have heroines with strong voices. The women in these books won’t tolerate any kind of demeaning behavior from their partners. They are neither passive nor aggressive: they are assertive women.

Their love interests are men of diverse backgrounds who have a few things in common: empathy, love, and respect for their partner’s boundaries.

On Wattpad, I have my reading lists. From there, here are a some hot romance stories I recommend:

There you have it. Hot romances don’t need to tease readers with blurred lines, underage sex with vast age differences (eg. a fifteen-year-old who romps around with her 38-year-old teacher), or love that emerges from forced submission or kidnapping.

The red flag comes up when I see these lines at the start of a book:

“You will be mine…”

“By the time I’m done with you…”

“You will do as I tell you…”

“Other women would kill to be in your shoes…”

What the heck?

I have to share a personal anecdote. When I was an undergrad student years ago, there was one fellow, let’s call him Casanova, who used one of those lines on me in a confrontational manner in a public place. Oh, he was charming and handsome, but my self-respect was more important than submitting to an unhealthy proposal.

What happened next was something I’ll never forget. My male friends stood with me. They didn’t say much, but their unified stance in silence was enough to send the poor guy running like the clappers. 😉

I realized then that there was no room in my life for unhealthy relationships. That included my taste in books and movies.

Enjoy the heat this summer!

If you haven’t pre-ordered Lessons on Seduction, you can do that now for only 99 cents (pre-order sale price).

>> Pre-order Lessons on Seduction

Challenges of writing steamy scenes

Writing steamy scenes

E Pettersen, author of Lessons on Seduction.

A while ago, a few writers in my network asked if I could put a blog about writing steamy scenes. Well, ask and I will deliver. 🙂

A good plot, well-developed characters, interesting dialogues, a bit of mind-play with readers (I use literary tropes for these), and cliffhangers are all part of the fun in writing.

However, there’s one type of scene that I find most challenging above all. It’s not the twists and turns in the plot, and it’s not the angst or emotions among the characters. It’s the steamy scenes in a romance novel.

Erotic romance vs. erotica

First of all, I’d like to clarify the distinction between an erotic romance novel and erotica, as I’ve noticed in a few forums some confusion between the two.

According to Romance Writers of Australia, an erotic romance is a “sub-genre of romance where sex is crucial to character and emotional development. All stories must conclude with HEA or HFN.”

Meanwhile, erotica is classified as content “where sex is explored in writing, but a happy ending is not required.” (Source: https://romanceaustralia.com/about-rwa/glossary-of-terms/)

Romance Writers of America states that erotic romance novels are “romance novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).” (Source: RWA)

Erotica, from Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries’ perspectives, takes on a more generic and broader meaning. Let’s take Oxford’s perspective, for instance, as it defines erotica as “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.” (Source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/erotica)

An erotic romance requires character development, a decent plot, chemistry, and emotionally driven, heart-tugging scenes. But what about the scenes that would make my grandmother blush?

These scenes require work too. It’s not about banging smut fantasies in a manuscript (pun intended—that’s my wicked sense of humor); the intimate scenes require work.

Get your facts right

It’s important to get your facts right. I’ve read many romance novels, including erotic romance books, where I had to stop reading because what the author tried to achieve with the characters were, to put it politely, anatomically unreal. There are certain body parts that don’t work or move in a certain way. If these were applied in real life, there would be a visit to the chiropractor, physiotherapist, or doctor, no doubt. Also, I’ve seen misnomers of both the female and male anatomy in scenes.

If you’re not sure or have an inkling of doubt about a certain anatomical part, it’s as simple as going back to the basic biology books. There’s no shame in doing that; I have to admit, I had to do this for some fact-checking to make sure I got things right. It’s better to write correctly the first time than to make a mistake and have your readers notice it.

Be real

Be real with your smut. You can write a good sex scene without turning it into a cringy scene from a crazy porn film. It’s not just the mechanics of the act that readers are after in erotic romance novels. They’re also touched by the emotional aspect of sex that is fulfilling and realistic. More importantly, give the characters feelings—have their emotions connect with the audience.

Here are a few authors who’ve got it right with the balance of emotions and physical action in the love scenes in their romance books:

  • Callie Carmen – author of the Risking Love series. If you read Patrick, you’ll feel the emotions in the scenes. Also good to see a realistic male POV.
  • Annabel Allan – author of the Goode Pain series. If you’re after BDSM scenes that are well written and, importantly, accurate, this is the series you want to read.
  • Gibby Campbell – author of Paging Dr. Turov, which I started reading very recently. Already in chapter three, I see the power in the words that give away a good, strong plot, and characters I connect with.

There are more authors of steamy romances whose books I’m reading from my publisher Black Velvet Seductions, known for high-quality romances of different subgenres.

Get your words right

I want to stress the importance of using the right words for your scenes. These words include body parts and actions.

Here are some words I’ve seen in romance books, and wish I had my eyes shut, with regard to the female anatomy:

  • Hoo-ha.
  • Minge.
  • Axe-wound (what the heck?).
  • Gash.
  • Quim.
  • Kitty.
  • Beaver (what’s with the animal names?).

Honestly, the word “vagina” sounds much better. And there’s nothing wrong with that word either.

Here are some strange references to the male anatomy:

  • Diddly (this sounds creepy!).
  • Joystick (umm, not quite Nintendo…).
  • Pork.
  • Willy.
  • John Thomas (this one was from Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence—great plot and I have high respect for the author, but that scene just made me cringe; it’s just my personal taste, which is subjective).

Sometimes it’s just better to stick with the basics: cock, dick, length, erection. Simple, right?

All in all, I think it’s great when romance writers want to explore different scenes, including ménage à trois, BDSM, voyeurism, dirty talk, the tease, fxf, mxm, and more.

I also like a variety of settings—an exotic place, a spur of the moment in a hidden place, a secret room, something different.

It’s important to research these topics before writing them. It’s just like journalism, where you don’t publish an article without getting your facts checked by reliable sources.

What won’t I write about?

As an author, I keep an open mind when it comes to steamy scenes for my readers; I want them to feel the energy and the bond between the characters in my stories.

However, there are some scenes that I refuse to explore: underage sex and blurred lines. I’ve stopped reading stories when I come across scenes depicting sex between an adult and a minor where there is a noticeable age gap, or nonconsensual sex portrayed in a positive light. No means no, especially if there’s a position of trust or authority of one of the characters over the other.

Ditch or keep a scene?

I’ll be honest and admit that it is difficult to write a good sex scene because it requires a lot of thought and research. It is hard work. If it doesn’t work in the story, then assess if you need to remove it entirely, or rewrite it.

I’ve removed scenes because they don’t add value to the overall story. I’ve also revised scenes or added small teasing scenes to entice the reader, weaving these scenes into the plot and character relationship-building.

My goal is to give an entertaining story that readers can relate to—the steamy scenes have to work for readers.

Readers want empowerment

Kick-ass career guide

This blog post is dedicated to my Wattpad friends.

About a month ago, my nonfiction book Kick-ass Career Guide for Women was nominated for the Readers Choice Awards, one of the platform’s biggest community awards where readers nominate and vote for their favorite books. I wasn’t aware of it until I was alerted that the book had been shortlisted for the voting phase of the awards.

Yesterday, I was both surprised and elated when I received news that my career guide won first place in the awards’ nonfiction category.

Winner of the Readers Choice Awards
Readers Choice Awards winner

I honestly didn’t think the book stood a chance, considering the other nominated books were more entertaining in terms of topic.

Yet, Wattpad readers and writers voted. They not only voted, but they shared the story with their followers, both within the platform and in social media. In turn, their followers also voted. They wanted a book with a message on empowerment to win because they believe in empowerment. They believe in people supporting each other, and they believe in standing strong.

They valued a book that aimed to empower women so much that they wanted it to succeed—not because of the author, but because the book is written to help young women entering the workforce to gain confidence, know how to say “no” without feeling guilty, and be brave enough to take opportunities that lead to their own personal and career successes.

Being an introvert, I’ve never stood out in the limelight, so this is the first time that a collective group of people voted for anything of mine to stand out from the crowd. In a world where books are popular for sexy covers, sordid and steamy storylines, and forbidden love, the less “exciting” books are often forgotten.

What readers want

Wattpad has a huge following of millennials among the 80 million readers and writers of diverse ages, backgrounds, and preferences. When my network (including Wattpaders who read my romances) supports me, they are telling me something—they don’t just want the steamy stories with handsome bad boys, but they also want stories that send a message on personal strength and empowerment.

Don’t get me wrong; I love reading sexy stories with bad boys. In fact, I write them in the form of erotic romances, teen fiction, and a romantic comedy. All my stories have one thing in common: growth and being resilient in both the good times and times of adversity.

One of my books, Lessons on Seduction, will be published by romance publisher Black Velvet Seductions. It’s jam-packed with plenty of sexy scenes, a seemingly good girl, a bad boy, and drama. However, it also conveys a strong message on empowerment and a healthy dose of equality in a relationship. I’ve been reading books from authors with my publisher and their stories feature strong, bold women and men who rock the world, which makes me feel extremely proud to be part of the BVS family!

The point I’m trying to make is that my Wattpad network is reflective of a market of readers who prefer stories with smart and sassy women, yes, even with the billionaires, bad boys, and the steamy love scenes. They want stories that dare to be different from the rest.

I learned one thing about my fellow Wattpaders: they have strong voices. They are not bystanders and they would rather have stories with bold protagonists than books that promote submissive women falling for alpha men.

Many readers, including romance readers, want empowerment. They want strength. They want heroines who can save the day. They want variety and diversity. They want protagonists who are clever, passionate, and break the mold from the stereotypes.

I believe this is reflective of who my readers are—they are strong, they are powerful, and they are clever. They are law students, teachers, health professionals, parents, business professionals, and the list goes on. They deserve to be seen and heard, respected, appreciated, and loved.

As an author, I pledge to give my readers all the above, to the best of my ability through my stories.

Thank you to every Wattpader who brought Kick-ass Career Guide for Women out of the shadows and into the limelight. The book is also featured on Wattpad’s official Nonfiction profile, in the Business & Careers reading list.

Thank you for your continued support.

Wonder Woman. Source: giphy.com

Writers support writers

Let’s support each other. Image credit: Pixabay.

This month has been an exciting one filled with achievements.

I have joined a new family—Black Velvet Seductions, a publisher with a wide range of books, including erotic romances, sweet seduction stories, and supernatural romances. My erotic romance, Lessons on Seduction, will be available from them and I am excited!

I’ve also been badged as an official ambassador for Wattpad, an online community with over 80 million readers and writers worldwide.

Teamwork

These achievements are what I call “teamwork” because it is a shared effort together with fellow readers and writers. They supported me through the highs and lows of writing and gave me the kick I needed to do improve in all areas.

Naturally, I was over the moon when BVS accepted my manuscript and welcomed me to their team. I learned that good publishers like BVS offer strong support and encouragement for their authors. Successes are shared and motivation is ongoing among the authors in this team.

The start of the journey

Looking back, I think about where I was a year ago. I had only three or four followers at best on Wattpad. Being a painfully shy introvert, it took a lion’s serving of courage to open up, reach out, and connect with other writers and readers. Not everything has been rosy on the yellow brick road. I’ve dealt with witches, trolls, and the flying monkeys, but it’s no skin off my nose.

What gives me strength? Other writers, of course! They help me stand strong in a tough market.

Standing strong

In one year, my stories were featured on Wattpad’s official profile pages and my profile now has over 1000 followers; from these followers, I have made a few wonderful friends.

I wouldn’t have friends if I hadn’t taken the step to write, edit my work, take in suggestions for improvements, edit, and edit again. An author’s growth is a never-ending cycle; it never stops.

Sounds exhausting?

Not if you’re having fun with other writers. That’s why it’s important to have others around us as we keep writing. My writing buddies are the ones I vent to, laugh with, and smile together as we face our challenges.

Nothing is achieved without another person’s involvement. Writing can be a lonely path, but we are never alone as long as we’re brave enough to reach out. Reaching out means that we may expose our vulnerable selves as authors, but it also means that we are willing to grow.

Give support

Each of us has a personal story of pain that we mask rather well sometimes. This makes it all the more important to ask for support when we struggle.

Writers help each other out, and as I’ve been told, we adjust each other’s crowns. The world is big enough for everyone to succeed.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen a few talented writers lose hope in their projects because of the criticism they’ve received or an award they didn’t win. This saddens me. Being an author requires thick skin; criticism and disappointment are part of life.

What can we do to support each other?

  • Reach out to connect with others.
  • Reach out when we can support someone.
  • Reach out when we need support.

Let’s all make the most to support each other’s dreams and successes. This sums up my writing journey so far, with miles ahead to go—but I’m not alone.

Here’s a little something from I Love Lucy, one of my favorite shows. Together, we can do it!