It takes a miracle sometimes to make things happen. And, if you don’t believe in miracles, do you believe in science? How about an amazing doctor?
For years, I lived in a chronic hell, scorching every nerve and muscle in my upper back, shoulder, and neck. My body was a prison of pain. No ‘expert’ from Stavanger’s public hospital or private hospitals by my health insurance company could help me. When they couldn’t help me, they tossed me around to someone else, or they told me that my pain was not real. That was the past.
Today, I am recovering nicely, thanks to a gifted surgeon named Doctor Nils Åke Nystrøm. I am lost for words, except for one—gratitude. Dr. Nystrøm is a medical expert and a professor with years of knowledge and experience desperately needed in the medical world.
About my illness
Entrapment of the spinal accessory nerve and/or chronic compartment syndrome of the trapezius muscle may cause chronic pain. In my case, surgical treatment was necessary to provide permanent relief.
In other words, Dr. Nystrøm has given me back my life. He has liberated me from an illness with symptoms including:
Horrendous headaches that lasted for days.
Terrible radiating pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulder, down to my shoulder blade.
Numbness in the left arm and fingers.
I am so grateful to the team at Clinique Bellevue for being so supportive from start to finish. Everything went smoothly and I promised to send paperbacks of my next book when it is published and available.
And, thank you to my new friend, Karina. She is a brave woman and a strong soul whose story I initially found in the newspaper Stavanger Afterblad. It pivoted me to see I was not alone and motivated me to pursue my search for Dr. Nystrøm.
Karina’s voice has empowered many patients. I write about empowered women in my books, so meeting this incredibly courageous woman was an honor.
Getting my life back
My life is a healthier one incorporating light yoga, meditation, and walking. I started gentle swimming in a warm therapy pool yesterday as part of my rehabilitation. My lower back is another issue I have from the car accident I was in years ago, but my upper back is on the good path to recovery.
Readers can expect new books from me in the future. I can continue projects for both my publishers. Plus, I have other planned projects, all about women’s empowerment.
The surgeon who saved my life, Doctor Nystrøm, is a good man with a kind heart who gave me hope.
My children have a mother again. My husband, Geir, has a wife again.
It’s been a year since I wrote about being an author with chronic pain, and life brought more challenges, and hope.
Warning: some of the photos in this article can be disturbing. Please do not go further if you’re sensitive about photos of physical injuries or vehicle accidents.
Chronic pain hell
Has my health gotten better? No, but there is hope.
Did I have to let go of a wonderful career? Yes. There was no way I could work with the incredible pain I endured.
Have health practitioners (neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, physiotherapists, etc etc) tested me like a guinea pig?
I’ve been given a shitload of useless treatments by experts who believed they were gods. When the pain didn’t show in the MRI scan results, they told me that my body should not be experiencing pain and that it was in my head. There were at least two health practitioners whose patience wore thin, insinuating that this ‘pain in my imagination’ was my fault.
I went to two psychologists to explore the theory of pain being part of my imagination. The first one believed the pain was real and there was not much he could do to help me, except my anxiety of coping with pain, and also to shut the noise out – the noise of the world around me that was doing more harm than good.
The second psychologist spent a few sessions asking me all sorts of questions and she believed my pain was not ‘in my head’. I was encouraged to seek the truth – ah, medicine sounds like religion, doesn’t it?
Thank God, I have the determination to find out the truth, despite the lack of energy and weakness my body was experiencing, in addition to the pain.
I started to develop doubt on ongoing practices that had little or no effect, or worse. I wondered if I was being treated or assessed for the wrong thing. What if there was a different prognosis that the health experts had missed?
I needed to know more. Were there others who suffered like me? Or, was I alone, and had I gone stir-crazy mad?
I wanted to know the truth about my pain.
So, I studied and searched for an answer.
I recently tapped into an area about chronic whiplash and the long-lasting effects that could be devastating. I was in a car accident years ago, and lucky to have survived it as the vehicle was a total wreck. The headaches, neck pain, etc, mirrored the patients’ symptoms. I did have surgery to remove a broken cervical disc a few years ago, so that may also have been something correlated to the accident from long before.
I read studies on the type of pain I suffered, and what was being done in the USA and other parts of the world. I spoke with a leading local chiropractor and took the discussion further with my GP, and then my physiotherapist. They explained the anatomy and the symptoms I showed, and two of the three mentioned at one point a Swedish surgeon who has helped patients in my shoes.
My appointments became more like Q&A lectures where I asked a lot of questions and took notes while the people I trusted passed down their knowledge. I found an article about how a Swedish surgeon had saved the lives of thousands of patients whose symptoms mirrored mine – he had taken away their pain hell and gave them back their lives. I wondered if this was the same surgeon my GP and chiropractor referred to.
I discovered articles about patients who had the same debilitating illness as me, and they described how the surgery had changed their lives for the best. The operation was performed by the same surgeon, and eventually, I found more journal articles on the topic of the type of chronic pain I endure.
So, I was not alone. And there was hope.
At first, I thought the surgeon was in the United States, and it all seemed all out of reach for me, being in Norway. Then, I stumbled across one of the clinics in the city I’m in, and lo and behold, it turns out he visits the clinic.
I brought this up with my GP, who wrote a darn good referral letter to the clinic. This surgeon – I could love to mention his name to give him credit but I need to ask permission first – is not only highly sought after by patients needing help, but he is a professor, a teacher, and one of Scandinavia’s most elite surgeons – a unicorn in his field with valuable knowledge to pass to medical practitioners on the area of chronic nerve pain.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Fast-forward to about a month later, and after meeting with my surgeon and undergoing testing and examination, I am in the category of patients who would most likely benefit from surgery. There is a good chance I will have a normal life again.
Now, I’m waiting for the date I go into the operating theatre.
While I wait for my surgery date, I still write when I can, and though it hurts to sit, I have an ergonomic desk that allows me to stand while writing. Linked to the pain, cognitive issues are affecting me but I soldier on. Right now I’m an author with a broken wing waiting to fly again.
Like I said before, all good things take time and I believe there will be better days ahead.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
“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.
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.
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:
I can’t afford a proper editor
I’ve got good enough editing skills – after all, I topped my high school English class
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.”
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 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:
Axe-wound (what the heck?).
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…).
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.
This blog post is dedicated to my Wattpad friends.
About a month ago, my nonfiction bookKick-ass Career Guide for Womenwas 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.
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.
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