*Warning - you may need tissues.
View Stefanie's blog here: http://stefanie-london.com/2014/02/the-support-factor/
MRWG author, Stefanie London shared this amazing post on her website (which was re-blogged by her publisher Mills & Boon UK), and although many people may have already seen it, we think it is well worth sharing again.
*Warning - you may need tissues.
View Stefanie's blog here: http://stefanie-london.com/2014/02/the-support-factor/
When I decided to get serious about ‘writing a book’ I didn’t know where to start or what I was letting myself in for. I thrashed around for a few months trying to soak up writing stuff but finally my head exploded and I raised my eyes to the heavens and screamed ‘help’!
What was I doing? And why was I running from one thing to another without any clear direction?
Like many people I’m a reader. I’ve read different genres my whole life and feel comfortable with books. I can even remember choice phrases and tidbits. Even my husband loves to say, ‘I’m off to my study and I’m not to be disturbed!’ (Mr Bennett, Pride and Prejudice).
However, writing a book and all that story craft is a whole other pesky thing. After one and a half years, I’ve worked out a blueprint that has clarified my learning process. Hopefully, you can glance over it, take the bits you need and go ‘pfft’ to the rest. I’ve broken the blueprint down into years one and two.
Things you can do in the first year to move your writing along:
I am a how-to-book tragic. I raided the local library and borrowed every novel writing book they had. (Yes truly). I also downloaded a few onto my kindle but in the end ordered books online because I wanted to keep them in my reference library. My Top 6 Books (so far) are:
1. Goal, Motivation and Conflict – Debra Dixon
2. Any of the Writing Romance/YA for Dummies Books
3. Save the Cat – Blake Snyder
4. The First 50 Pages – Jeff Gerke
5. Elements of Fiction Writing (Conflict and Suspense) –James Scott Bell
6. Novel Shortcuts – Laura Whitcomb
There are a stack of others and from each you may glean a kernal of ‘aha’ moments that will stay with you and push your writing to new levels.
There are plenty of courses and workshops available on a multitude of topics. Depending on where you live, the best thing is to google courses in your area. Often there is a writer’s centre in your city or university courses that you can attend. The beauty of these courses is that you can concentrate your learning into a small time frame, meet other writers and target your learning. For example, if you decide you need help on character development, you can choose just that topic.
Until I had a dedicated writing space, I wasn’t dedicated to writing. I faffed around trying to write in poky areas upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s kitchen. Not until I turned my little used dining room into my writing enclave, did the urge to sit down and type hit with a vengeance. Do make sure you’re comfy as you’ll be sitting for some time. I only write for two hours at a time. Then I go and do something else and come back to it later in the day for another two hour burst.
This organization offers mentors, advice, newsletters, competitions and judging of your work. There is a huge membership and you are bound to connect with people in your genre which can kickstart all sorts of wonderful writing relationships. The conference is well worth it. Extremely well run and chock full of fabulous workshops. The biggest plus is meeting published authors and getting a feel for the industry.
Things you can do to improve your writing in year two are:
Study sentence structure, dialogue, pacing and timing. Look at the words and work out why they work. Study how to increase suspense, conflict and emotional intensity. To do this you need to read – a lot. And study writers’ websites because they often give useful online tips.
Now this can be scary. Oh yes. But you’ll never know how you’re going if you don’t get any feedback. So be brave. Put your work out there and learn. Also, critiquing someone else’s work is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t.
None of this is that important to start with, but as you get more experienced and get close to your first submission, you may want to think about your profile. It helps if you are active and seen to be a writer and if you blog consistently, you may build a readership.
Read the latest best-sellers. Look at bookshop shelves, library shelves and ask advice about what’s selling. Try to stay informed about your genre.
Ever seen babies learn to walk? They try and try and try and never give up. Every day they practice until one day, TA DA! – they’re walking. It’s persistence that pays off and so it is with writing. You must practice often, every day if possible.
If you can do even half of what I’ve listed, you will be well on your way to improved writing craft. Remember that it is your writing journey. Try not to compare your progress with others and take the time to enjoy each step along the way. After all, that is why we write. For the FUN of it.
One of my favourite sayings is by Robert Collier, the American self-help philosopher.
‘Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.’
I hope this blueprint gives you some ideas on how to tackle your writing adventure. If nothing else, it’s a great checklist to tick off the things you’ve already done.
Now, I’m off to write in my dining room and I’m not to be disturbed.
If you're after a spicy read, look no further than this new novella by Tamsin Baker. Released 1st March through Escape Publishing.
He needed a job — he never expected to need his boss.
Thomas's life can be pared down to one principle: Be as successful as possible by being as single-minded as possible. But his commitment to his goal is tested upon returning home to his mansion and finding his gorgeous new gardener in his library.
Luke is a student, and his new job is perfect: decent income and a place to study that's quiet, peaceful, and stocked with useful resources. The last thing he expects to find there is a stunning man who offers to open up all the doors that Luke has yet to be brave enough to peek behind.
Thomas is happy to wait for Luke to come to him, but when he does, Thomas has no intention of holding back...
I’m very excited to be a part of a spectacular new website for readers and writers of romance : The Naughty Ninjas.
While I’d love to be the one to tell you all about it, one of my awesome fellow Ninjas has already penned a few words to let you know what you’ll find at our humble abode, so I’ll put you into her capable, but occasionally sticky (don’t ask!) hands …
We’re six naughty authors, with sneaky ninja powers... (Chuck Norris can deny paternity all he wants, but our mad ninja skills speak for themselves)
Who’ve started a website...
And we’re on a mission to bring you the lurrrve.
Like a bit of romance, erotica or chick lit in your day? So do we!
Want to hear some opinions about the pressing issues facing the world? You know, the important ones, like what to make of Fabio's new hairstyle or how dodgy dinosaur erotica truly is? We’ve got so many issues to wrestle with that our super ninja hideout is running out of room, so we’ve stored them all at Naughty Ninjas Say.
Want to know about forthcoming releases or what old favourites keep us coming back for more? Check out Reading Ninjas where we salivate over what tickled our pleasure centres and glory in the naughty bits.
Love food? Really, really love food? Awesome! So do we! (See, we knew we’d all be friends.) Come with us for a walk around Eat Me, our ninja pantry. It’s packed with recipes for optimal ninja bowel health, awful aphrodisiacs, anatomical cakes, and all the best munchies excitingly shaped like genitalia. If you like a bit of plonk with your pudding, we even have a resident wine critic to give you the stealthy lowdown.
Are you staying up at nights wondering what the difference is between a snizz and a Ding Dong McDork? No fear! Our Glorious Glossary of Naughty Anatomy is here to rescue the day on a brilliant white charger with its kilt flapping and pectorals glistening.
Do you suffer from tiny hands? Are you anxious about twerking etiquette? Is your boss a giant bag of dicks? Yes? Well, never fear genteel reader, our advice columnist, Lady Fluffy Beaver, is an expert at ass-kicking a crisis.
Are you a member of the Nerd Herd? We’ve got you covered. (You can’t see us though, we’re sneaky.) Browse Grammar Ninja, Nerdy Ninja and Ninjitsu—it’s like ninja writing school... with rude bits. (Be prepared for the odd discussion on the literary merits of hedgehog ménage and porpoise snuff fiction.)
Fatigued from all the Ninja Awesomeness? Well there’s still Naughty Nature where you can delve into the mysteries of nonhuman courtship, plus the Ninja Horoscope where Madam Lady-bumps interprets your month according to the stars and her latest novel.
And let’s not forget the starfish gang-bang that is Ninja Love, where dozens of guest ninjas and a score of interviewees mingle and reproduce.
Sound amazing, awesome and hella sneaky to you? Fantastic! Because we want to share the love with our Launch Competition where we’re offering a $80 Amazon gift voucher prize.
All you need to do to enter the draw is to sign up for the weekly Ninja Newsletter (we promise on our ninja mothers’ honour not to spam you, and you can unsubscribe whenever you want) before 14 March.
So come and join us in the giant ninja hot-tub, today! We’ll even let you take a turn at Jacuzzi karaoke using our rhinestone-studded disco stick.
Pen names are a funny topic amongst some authors. For many, like myself, they are a necessity, for others, they are not needed at all.
I have two pen names. One for my sweet/sexy romances that I openly tell friends and family about. Another for my erotic works.
This is mainly for two reasons.
One: The branding. I want people who read my books to know what sort of story they will be getting and also to associate my pen name with my ‘voice.’ I also wouldn’t want one of my readers who has enjoyed my Regency sweet romance to buy one of my Regency vampire ménage books and assume they are of a similar thread. It just makes things easier on this front.
Two: The stigma attached to erotic writing.
I’m a professional in real life and my husband especially didn’t think it was appropriate for my patients to know about my erotic writings.
Personally I don’t particularly care, and have told lots of people in my life about my ‘other’ pen name, but I have seen a lot of bias and bigotry attached to the writing of erotic romance and completely understand where he was coming from.
Writing romance in itself seems to be viewed by most of the writing community as being the lowest form of expression, and writing erotic romance just means you like to write about sex.
I don’t believe either statement of course. I believe writing good romantic fiction, no matter the sub genre, and being successful at it, is one of the hardest things to do within writing fiction.
So really, what ever floats your boat - go for it! One pen name for every different genre, or using your own name every time, it’s totally your choice, but at the moment I’m completely happy with mine!
Aka. Georgiana Louis and …………….
IMMORTAL SEDUCTION (GODS OF LOVE) out now!
Some seek love, some seek power. For Aphrodite, the two are permanently intertwined. And when the goddess of desire hungers for love, who among mortals could possibly resist her power?
Fire fighters Ashur, Kieran and Hugh are damaged men. A tragedy that took the life of their colleague has left them scarred, both physically and emotionally. Love and power are nothing to them but empty words. Hoping to reignite their mother’s passion for life and love, the erotes bring these mortal men to Aphrodite’s attention.
But with the blackness inside Ash, Kier and Hugh becoming ever deeper, will it take more than the power of a goddess to save them? And if she loses that battle, how will she rediscover the path to healing for her own emotionally damaged heart?
Contains ménage (MFM and MFMM) sex between the goddess of desire and three hot firefighters! Suitable for Adult readers only
Can the GODS OF LOVE series be read in any order? Yep, they certainly can! Each of these stories is stand-alone with a common theme, so if you want to try IMMORTAL SEDUCTION first, please do!
Buy IMMORTAL SEDUCTION Amazon US (Kindle) / Amazon UK (Kindle) / Amazon AUS (Kindle) All Romance eBooks (EPUB, PDF & Kindle) Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Stefanie London's call story.
Congratulations on your sale from MRWG!!
I am SUPER excited about this release for two reason. 1- because it was the first ever erotic romance I wrote and no. 2- because I got 5 rejections from some of my OWN publishers before it found a home with ESCAPE PUBLISHING.
I hope you enjoy the unconventional romance between Eleanor and Gareth. It pushed my boundaries to write and I hope it pushes yours too.
A widow who likes to control. An earl with no time for innocence. A relationship bound by dark needs and subversive desires set in the glittering world of Regency England.
Lord Gareth Osborne is a wealthy earl in need of a wife, but the insipid debutantes he encounters do not fulfil the darkest fantasies of his soul. He fears that it will be impossible to find a woman who will satisfy his needs and make a suitable companion, until he meets the sensual, self-assured Eleanor.
Lady Eleanor Rossette is newly widowed, though not unhappily so. Her marriage put her into the hands of
an abusive, controlling man, and Eleanor knows she will never surrender her control again. She yearns for a strong, passionate man who will yield to her in the bedroom, and she wants that man to be Lord Osborne…
“Thank you for bringing me into the night air, my lord. Would you be so kind as to fetch me a glass of punch?”
Eleanor smiled as prettily as possible and watched the Viscount’s face crumple. The punch was on the other side of the ballroom.
But good manners dictated that he retrieve it for her and being a widow, Eleanor was free to be alone.
“Of course, my lady.”
She watched the young lord scurry off and took a deep breath as she walked out towards the gardens. There was beauty to be found everywhere, even in London.
“You got rid of the whelp, I see.”
Eleanor smiled and wrapped her arms around herself. His voice sent shivers racing across her skin. She could only imagine what his lips might do.
“That is not kind, Gareth.”
She kept her eyes fixed ahead and used the rest of her senses to reach out to him. His swift intake of breath made her smile again.
“Why do you call me Gareth?”
She turned at this and felt her stomach leap. His black eyes were ablaze with passion for her. She had not been wrong about him.
“That is your name, is it not?” She dropped her arms to her sides and allowed her figure to be easily appraised. His eyes didn’t waver from hers. He stared into her eyes and that pleased her greatly.
“No one calls me Gareth, not even my parents.”
His confusion was clear, and triumph filled her. Shock was a new emotion to the man in front of her. Good.
“Gareth, you may call me Eleanor if it would make you feel more comfortable.”
She smiled again, unable to stop herself. Fun was a new aspect in her life and she intended to keep it.
“Eleanor, come home with me.”
The look of shock on Gareth’s face made her wonder if he had even registered the words in his brain before they spilled from his lips.He then clenched his jaw and raised his head a fraction. He may not have meant to speak aloud, but it was clear to Eleanor that he had meant what he had said.
She couldn’t go home with him. Not yet. Her future happiness with this man depended on him wanting to keep her for more than one night.
“Ask me again next time we meet,” she whispered, putting all of her longing into her eyes, allowing him to see how much she wanted him.
He growled in response and took a step towards her.
Her stomach dropped in anticipation of his action. Would he kiss her right here on the balcony?
As though she had planned it to stop his advance, the Viscount stepped out onto the balcony with her drink.
“My lady.” He half bowed as he rushed the glass to her fingertips.
Eleanor smiled in thanks and drank the cold liquid in one gulp. Her throat was sore and dry – when had that
“My lord.” The viscount bowed in greeting to Gareth and stepped closer to her side.
Eleanor smothered her smile and looked up again at her chosen mate.
Gareth inclined his head and she curtsied low. “I hope you are feeling better soon, Lady Rossette.”
She watched him walk away and found herself wishing that their courtship was already over. She had to tread so
carefully, build their relationship up to how it should be. Yet she wanted nothing except a life with that man. She was so impatient she could scream.
Tasmin Baker is one of the MRWG's Erotic Romance Authors. Ever prolific she has three more recently released spicy hot reads. Included are Male and Male romance and Male, Male and Female romances. She recently gave a workshop, at the MRWG's September meeting, on the various types of romances within the Erotic heat level category. Very informative. See an except of her workshop notes below
Heat Ratings are an indication to the person buying the book of what sort of content is inside the story. Mostly so that the reader isn’t offended by anything they may read in a book.
This is a good example of heat ratings for a romance publisher.
This is the rating system Steam eReads uses- taken with permission from their website.
They have a 1-5 system that is from sweet, kisses only romance up to scorching which is their hottest rating. Details below.
They only publish romance and do not publish pure Erotica.
Just as the name implies, these books have nothing more than kisses.
Contains loves scenes that are non-descriptive, often alluded to or implied rather than described. The emphasis is on emotion and not graphic portrayal. Often there will only be one or two scenes per book.
These books contain moderately explicit love scenes that are more descriptive and frequent. The focus is still on thoughts and feelings and not on graphic description of lovemaking. These books may also contain mild
Sizzling (4) Getting hotter! These books have lovemaking and lots of it. Sex scenes are longer, more frequent and described in graphic detail. These books may also contain stronger language and expletives.
Scorching (5) Hot, hot, hot! In these books, sex is usually the primary focus
and love scenes are frequent and explicitly graphic. These books may contain
topics that might be considered taboo or kinky and very strong language and
swearing may be frequent.
- See more at:
This is just a small part of her workshop.Tasmin certainly has a great understanding of what readers of Erotic romance are looking for. Check out her recent releases below.
MMF (Male, Male, Female) shifter
Jeremy left his small hometown ten years ago, determined to get away from the female child who was his predestined mate.
But Natalia, a rare tiger shifter, has been kidnapped. Jeremy
chooses to return to help the land shifter pack find her. What he doesn't expect when he returns home is his attraction to Natalia's boyfriend Tommy and the fact that his tiger mate is still unclaimed.
Jeremy finds himself falling in love with both Tommy and Natalia, yet the rival shifters of the air seem determined to rip them from him.
(Amazon and Are Best Seller)
M/M (Male, Male) contemporary
Marcus is a 30-year-old successful architect. He wants someone to love and knows the right man will turn up when he least expects it. That moment arrives at his friend’s party. He sees Danny for only a moment, yet his interest is piqued. What could be more irresistible than a blue-eyed beauty who is completely untouched?
Danny knows he doesn’t find women attractive, but how is he going to find out if he’s gay? His sister’s party answers his prayers and the most gorgeous guy he has ever seen asks him out. But can their love survive when Marcus wants more than a closeted partner and Danny wants nothing more than to hide forever?
MMF (Male, Male, Female) shifter
Chase, a golden eagle shifter, is destined to be the leader of his flock, the shifters of the air. But he has a few problems. Not only is he not ready for the responsibility, he isn’t even sure whom he
wants as his mate—and there’s the little issue of an unsolved killing to sort out.
Ben is also a golden eagle shifter, but more importantly, he is
Chase’s best friend and three-time lover. He wants to be his best friend’s mate, but can he be honest about his feelings?
Ariana is a young peregrine falcon shifter who has loved Chase for years. But how could she say anything? After all, why would he want her when he can have anyone he wants?
Three shifters, with three separate problems, all fighting to find out who they are and how they can love one another.
In August, I attended the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference in Fremantle. This was my first RWA conference and it certainly won’t be my last. Spanning three days and attended by over 300 delegates,
the event was jam packed with fun social events and wonderfully educational sessions. Listing everything I loved about the event could take a while, so I’ve condensed it down to a list of my Top 5.
Now, feel free to call me shallow, but I dare anyone not to love the amazing book bags from Penguin and Harlequin. Penguin held a party on the Thursday evening to celebrate the 1st birthday of Destiny Romance, and along with lovely drinks, food and a hot pirate handing out long stemmed roses (sigh) all guests were given a cute Penguin bag filled with books.
At registration I discovered that all delegates received a lovely ‘Riding the Waves’ bag filled with fabulous Harlequin books, Baci chocolates, a pen and a ‘Riding the Waves’ coffee keep cup (the perfect gift combo for
writers!) Then after the closing speeches, there were more free books up for grabs. We got spoilt. And I do believe many of us had to pay for extra baggage allowance on our flights home!
4. ‘Nautical or Nice Party'
After a day of working diligently in Kim Hudson’s ‘Venus on the Half Shell’ workshop, it was time to let our hair down! The effort that people went to with their costumes was amazing. Pirates, wenches, mermaids, sea witches, a seal and even a tropical island with palm tree filled the Harlequin event on the Friday evening. The whole night was a great success with plenty of drinks, finger food and a chance to catch up with friends, or if you were a newbie like me, finally meet the people you’d been talking to on Facebook for some time!
3. Socialising & Networking
Who knew that the range of people who read and romance was so vast? Not me. There were so many different personalities among the delegates, and as someone who is usually quite shy around new people, it was great to feel so welcomed. The Esplanade Hotel where the conference was held is huge, yet everywhere I looked I saw small groups of conference attendees chatting in between sessions. Others nipped out for coffee at a local cafe or restaurant. If sleep hadn’t been necessary, I think most of us would have happily stayed up the whole weekend, just to fit in more social time.
Whether it was just a quick chat with a stranger, making a new friend or building up existing friendships, there was no shortage of socialising to be had. I met some absolutely terrific people at the conference and have built
supportive friendships that will carry on into the future.
2. RWA Gala Awards Evening
What a night! The room, which during the day held enthusiastic and studious romance writers listening intently to guest presenters, had been transformed into a gorgeous heaven on earth for those with a sweet tooth. Tables
contained a delicious variety of desserts as well as bubbly for those inclined to have a drink or two... or three.
To begin, the ‘First Sale’ ribbons were presented, and I was amazed at the large number of talented writers who had achieved this particular milestone. Talk about motivating! The award presentations were exciting, and as I’ve come to expect from the romance community, the feeling of joy and genuine pleasure at the success of others was obvious.
I may be wrong, but I believe the noise level may have been slightly higher over on the right hand side of the stage where MRWG members cheered on loudly for a number of our members who were nominated, or had already been announced as winners of awards. We were proud of them all.
After the awards, the music began and we danced the night away... including a kick-arse display of ‘The Nutbush’ from our very own Emmie Dark and Ebony McKenna. Oh, and who could forget the chocolate fountain, to keep up the energy levels through all that physical exertion?
As fun as it was drinking, eating, catching up with old friends and making new ones... the best part of the conference for me, was all of the knowledge I gained from the workshops. I wish I could have attended all of them. Here is a quick rundown of my favourites:
Save the Cat presented by Nina Bruhns
I’ve heard people rave about this book by Blake Snyder and after attending this session, I can see why. As a pantser, it was great getting a glimpse at how I could strengthen the premise of my story, how it fit into the major themes of storytelling, and how I could plot my story effectively. I purchased the book after this session and have been using it to plan my latest story. I love it!
There was also a particular point that Nina made which really resonated with me:
The worst possible hero for the worst possible heroine in the worst possible situation equals the best conflict.
More information on ‘Save the Cat’ can be found here: http://www.blakesnyder.com/
Scrivener presented by Alison Stuart and Sasha Cottman
These two authors are passionate about this program! After a quick rundown, I could see why. The potential of what this program can do for you is enormous. Some of the features include:
Allowing you to move your scenes around on a virtual corkboard (for those who love this visual method)
Saving all of your research including webpages in your Scrivener file for easy access,
Setting word counts and goals for your entire project, or just for a particular writing session
Adding labels to scenes and chapters to help keep track of things like point of view changes etc
Using short scene descriptions to help compile a synopsis of your story and my favourite thing of all – you can’t accidentally delete your work!
More information on Scrivener can be located here: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php
Getting Your First Chapter Off The Gound presented by Annie West
This very practical and interactive workshop was informative and a lot of fun. Rather than just telling us how to approach the beginning of a story, Annie had created a number of fun exercises for us so that we could learn from practical experience. The main points I took away from this session included:
You MUST hook your readers from the beginning. Make them want to keep turning the pages.
Start your story in the right place. Too much back-story can slow the pace and may cause a reader to put your book down.
Sexual Tension: The Undertow of Romance presented by Rachel Bailey
I have a feeling that the RWA may have underestimated the popularity of this particular workshop with many people forced to stand at the back of the room, or sit on the floor. It was packed... and as I soon learned, for good reason. Rachel Bailey knows her stuff!
Despite a few technical difficulties (and a rather embarrassed male AV tech, who had to sit through sexy video clips from Dirty Dancing, The Vampire Diaries and some tension filled Jane Austen scenes with requisite giggles and sighs from the audience) the session was fantastic.
There were many great points made about bringing sexual tension to life for characters including the need to evoke the character’s feelings as well as include their visceral reactions. I read one of Rachel’s books on the plane home and was astounded by how well she created that tension. She’s a master.
If you’re an RWA member and haven’t read Rachel’s craft article on Sexual Tension, I recommend logging onto the RWA website to find it. Immediately. It is located in the October 2010 edition of ‘Hearts Talk’ newsletter.
In summary, I had the time of my life at the conference and have already started planning my trip for 2014 – ‘Romance Rocks’ to be held at Olympic Park, Homebush, Sydney. I hope to see many of you there!