Monday, August 31, 2009

With Love, from Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

Already September! Where did the time fly? Summer's practically over, fall is settling in, and with it comes longer evenings and thoughts of cozy fires and snuggling up with a good book...

If you even find a good book, that is! Big if here.

This got us thinking, here at the Royal Blush Authors, about good books, the lack of them on the market, the loss of desire by writers to pen strong, quality-infused stories. Where have all the good stories gone?

Catch us this month as we attempt to answer this question from our perspectives as authors, readers, editors, and even a publishing-house owner!

Throughout September, we'll cover aspects such as characterization in a good story, how cliche kills a good endeavor, how much respect needs to be paid to a genre, and also how the story of our heart as authors breathes a new dimension in our writings.

T.J. on Tuesday kicks it off with characterization - your characters are the stars of your story - it's high time all writers realized this!

On Thursday, Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) tells us how characters have led the way for her in her writings, and how you too can figure out a totally unique story path when you listen to these fictional people's voices.

Don't forget:

This September, we want to go back to the roots of what makes writing, and reading, such a life-changing experience.

This September, we're on the quest:

Searching for a good story...

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lyrical Press Inc. behaving very badly!

Who the hell died and left Renee Rocco empress of Small Press? I'd like to know. Not only is she the 'empress' but WTF to her contract. Here's the skinny for those of you who know it takes a lot for me to lose my cool.

A sneak peek at LPI's convoluted contract.

10. REVISIONS - If the Publisher considers it necessary in the best interests of the Work, the Author agrees to revise the Work on request of the Publisher. The provisions of this agreement shall apply to each revision of the Work by the author as though that revision were the work being published for the first time under this agreement, except that the manuscript of the revised work shall be delivered in final form by the Author to the Publisher within thirty (30) days after request for revision. Further, no initial payment shall be made in connection with such revision. Should the Author not provide a revision acceptable to the Publisher within a reasonable time, or should the Author be deceased, the Publisher may have the revision done and charge the cost of such revision against royalties due, or that may become due, the Author, and may display in the revised work, and in advertising, the name of the person, or persons, who revised the work.

So if you die – don't worry about it. LPI will publish your little gem and NOT pay your heirs. WTF! Oh and don't worry if you are planted six feet under – LPI won't put your name on it – they'll put their editor's on it. It's rather funny and completely hypocritical that they have a clause in their contract should the author want out:

20. RIGHT OF TERMINATION This agreement may be terminated at the Publisher's discretion so long as written warning is provided to the Author within a thirty (30) day timeframe and a valid reason is provided. The terms of this agreement may be terminated for conduct unbecoming of a representative of the Publisher.

In the event of Author requested termination of this agreement, Author will compensate Publisher and Editor for monies invested in the Work in the sum of no less than one hundred and fifty dollars ($150.00) and not to exceed two hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00). Author termination of this agreement relies solely on Publisher's discretion.

But they don't give the author/heirs the actual cost of editing should Ms. Rocco, Supreme deity that she is, decide your story doesn't meet her fictitious quality standards in the aforementioned contract clause #10. Remember, it doesn't matter if your pushing out stories or pushing up daisies. Don't you just love how that happens? "I'm sorry, Dear Author, but you should pay hand over fist just cause I have decided you are unworthy". Begs to question why she contracted the book in the first place? This conduct should be along the lines of that which is unbecoming a publisher in good standing with her authors.

The trump card in these two clauses is Ms. Rocco can kick you off your book should you make waves and she has already done this to one author I know of though I suspect there are more. It's your story! Who does she think she is raping it like this and then charging you for it?

Lovely. So, what's an author to do? Copyright your work. With publishers now pulling this stinking mountain of crap, we all need to be on our toes. The fact is, no publisher can take your work and completely revise it without the author's input. This would be copyright infringement. That Ms. Rocco and the other nimrods at LPI think they can get away with it shows just how badly some publishers can act.


I could go on and on about Lyrical Press Inc and probably will in future 'special' blogposts. The fact is no author should ever have to put up with this shite. Not only is it demeaning, it's illegal.


Be very aware!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Heat and Sex

When I was told we were writing about sex this month at Royal Blush Authors, I cringed and wanted to climb into a hole. Lol Oh sure, I write sex in some of my stories, but what do I really know about sex?

Well, I do know that curiosity starts for young girls in high school (in my day, and much earlier these days), and the female hormones start kicking in high gear in the mid-twenties. Those hormones can make a young woman as horny as a fourteen old boy starting puberty. Thirty-two years of marriage has taught me a few things.

We are not talking about kids, we are talking about adults. It’s about the heat that builds when a young woman and young man first meet, and there is an immediate connection between them. This heat can cause two normal adults to skip the getting to know you process and cause them to hop right into bed, the back seat of a car, the floor, etc (you get my picture). These two may not be into one night stands, but the magnetism that brings them together can be so intense that they can’t stay apart long enough to learn about each other.

Sometimes the attraction is great enough that they decide they want to learn more about each other even after intercourse. If their personalities also click and they enjoy one another’s company outside of the hot sex then this is when a real relationship may develop.

For my purpose, I’m talking about sex in a romance novel, and there has to be a certain level of commitment involved between the heroine and the hero whereas in real life there might not be. As a writer, I want to build the tension between the pair to make them want to get together physically as a couple, but also want more. It doesn’t have to be through marriage, but there must be some pledge keeping them together.

Okay, so I haven’t really said anything about the hot sex. Lol In a book, your description and the actions of your characters must show your reader what is going on because a novel is not the same as a movie. You show a love scene by using the actions of your characters touching one another, and then showing their reactions. You can always use the action/reactions to build up your scene.

I know a group of ladies who told me they started reading their sex scenes to their husbands and they tried new positions out because of their stories. Their husbands even became better lovers because they learned what their wives really wanted from them.

I could go on a little more, but I think I better quit while I’m ahead. I hope.

Have a good weekend everyone.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tense, more tense, even more tense...

... leads to strung rope that may break at any minute!

I was wondering what angle to talk about today when I went over to the blog and reread T.J's post for the week. Yes, she inspires me, in more ways than one, but for today I'll focus on her post about ambition.

One day, she asked me, what's your ambition? After lots of hollering and screaming and a few knocks to my hard skull, I finally understood what she asked - where did I want to be in say, five years, and what do I want people to be saying about me?

At that time, I had been struggling with finding my way in the writing world. I had found my 'voice'; I knew how to write (and that meant, and still means, drafts and writes and rewrites and countless edits); I had ideas for stories and was starting to come out of the cliche fold.

And, lo and behold, guess what was hot, hot, hot back then? You got it - erotica!

Now I knew I couldn't write direct, in-your-face erotica. Growing up in an Indian/traditional/Muslim set-up, you do tend to view sex as a prude, like what if my mother and all the aunts suddenly came over my shoulder and peeked at the screen? *shiver* It's ingrained inside of you. So there we go - sex is all the terrific thing that's going on in the writing world. I thought, let me try, even if I won't be writing the sequel to Basic Instinct any time soon!

I put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard). Got my story, spun it on itself, got the cliche out, grabbed the characters and fleshed them, with a solid backstory and impact moment, and yes, I had a plot in there. The spin was, it was erotic in nature. I wrote the story. Some solid, at-least-3-pages long sex scenes in a 22K short. It got good raves from my CPs, even from my mentor. I was even on the brink of having it published when the pub house it was going to closed because the owner was facing health issues. So I submitted the story to other places, it was even accepted.

But then I didn't have it published. It still sits on my hard disk today. Why?

Because that story was good but it wasn't me. Erotica isn't me, because I write sex as part of the character's journey, not just for the sake of sexing it up. At around that same time, I penned another ms, 25K, very hot, lots of sex, and with a plot too! But again, it sits there.

It's not that these stories were too hot. It's not that they didn't hold the line, or weren't good, or were just sex scenes strung together. It's that - they're not me!

I come back to the question T.J. had asked me - what's my ambition? And the answer I remember giving her in the end was - to be known for the strong stories and fully-fleshed characters I create.

Sex may be a part of it, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of it.

So I come to the question that plagues all writers who at some point of another, reflect upon this question in view of writing for the market or writing what their heart tells them to write - Is sex necessary? (If they don't reflect on this, they should!)

My answer would be, sex is as necessary to your story as it is necessary to the people making this story. In real life, two people don't just keep ripping all their clothes off the minute they're together (clothes cost money too, guys. They'd need to buy a new wardrobe everyday unless they join a nudist colony). Two people cannot just burn down the sheets every single time they get together (sometimes they'll just rumple those sheets!). A man cannot simply be having sex like a rabbit all the time (unless he's pumped up on Viagra and that too is a health hazard!). A woman also needs to start buying stocks in a panty-liner-making company if all she does is wet her panties all the time!

The point is, real people do not have sex like that (if they tell you they do, take it with a grain of salt!). So why then would the people, the 'real people' you want to portray in your story, act so illogically where sex is concerned?

As a writer, you need to think. Think it all through. How would such a person act in real life? What would he/she do or think? How would he/she act/react? That's the mark of getting good, 'real' characterization down, and if you do this well, then you'll be writing well and strong too. Whichever way you cut it, a story is about a plot and the plot is brought to life by the characters. It's no different for erotica, erotic romance, or just a sex scene in your mainstream work.

So next time you'll be writing, stop for a minute and think. Where do YOU want to be in five years? How do you want people to know you? And for the right here right now, what are your characters about, what are they like? And how do they have sex?

Pen down a few answers, and you should see the path. Hopefully, it won't be a tight-strung rope that you may just bounce off and land in the middle of nowhere when you try to step on it.

In my mss mentioned here, I first let myself down, beacuse I didn't stop and think and just thought to place some sex scenes in. I let my characters down, because I made them think with their crotches and not with their mind and ultimately, their heart. Why their heart? Because sex and all that leads to it is also a question of feelings and emotions. Think of the tension before that first kiss, the sizzle of recognition and longing when your gaze crosses that of the person who makes your body temperature go up by ten degrees in the blink of a second, the rush of feeling down your spine when the first touch lands on your skin, or when the heated, passion-darkened gaze of your lover roams over you, creating that almost magical, intangible link that will not sever until after the fires have been doused?

Think, people, think!

Any questions, just holler!

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural Romantic Fiction, With a Twist
Coming out October 2 - Light My World - Eirelander Publishing
Nolwynn Ardennes - The Promise of Fulfilment
Coming out in January 8, 2010 - Storms in a Shot Glass - Eirelander Publishing

Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes - Romance the world over

Monday, August 17, 2009

Have you lost your ambition?

I know, I'm supposed to blog about sex this month, but this is something I see becoming pervasive in e-publishing specifically and the market as a whole. Ambition.

It's a simple word. It means to reach or strive for some goal or reward. Easy to understand. Harder to accomplish in this field. Ambition has become for the proverbial 'pimp publishers', make it hotter, make it more erotic, make it something that in essence isn't really a story but just sex scenes strung together. Oh, but wait, don't push the actual act until the final act and then wham the characters have sex.

Woohoo. That's so hot it's stupid. Wait – did you call that STUPID as in idiocy, like the characters crotches do all their thinking for them, sort of dumb?

Yes, I did. And you have to remember I read the story about the priestess who had to take her concubines with her on her journey to find love, the fairy whom needed an orgasm to open her wings, and my all time favorite, the story in which the vampire who was a vampire hunter had male/male sex with the villain more than he had sex with the heroine he supposedly loved. Let's face it, for some writers, myself included, sex is easy to write. This isn't brain surgery. Get 'em naked and have at it. Full Monty, tatters flapping and all that good stuff, or at some publishers – don't have it until the final scene, but lots of fellatio and cunnilingus must lead to that (Pimp Publishers are notorious for this cause – ha ha – they think its hot).

There was a time, and I still follow this, where an author strove for something in a story. They made, through trial and error, a story better, hotter, more enticing, not because they wrote for the market but wrote for the story. This was ambitious. They developed their characters and made the sex add to the plot not just bury it beneath existential sex. It was, first and foremost about the story.

To this day, I know authors who still do this. They work their fingers to the bone bringing in originality even in hot stories. I do know the other side too. Those who have decided sexing it up is better than just thinking about the characterization and the story's plot.

Ambition comes in many forms. In the above, I've only given two. Here's the truth, I've lived both of the examples I delivered above. There were years where I was so booked my brain ached because I thought if I wasn't selling...selling...selling I wasn't doing my job. I got a reality check on that when I hit a road block. That would be the twelve stories I'd pounded out that didn't sell. I loved them but on retrospect they were so blah blah blah overdone I should have known better. An editor finally said, T.J., this is so much like everything else you've sent me why would I publish it? My answer was - um - had no answer. The other side is the stories I've written that are so far off the map every publisher I've gone to think I'm out of my mind.

I screwed up and I paid for it. I thought I was untouchable and I could get away with anything (read that as anything). Learning the lesson taught me so much, because one brought me off my pedestal and the latter warned me to control myself too.

In the end- ambition is what you make of it.

Until next Tuesday, cheers and happy writing,


With Love, from Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

Well, we're supposed to be talking about sex... The good, the bad, the nasty, the darn ugly... and the downright stupid!

Did I just say, stupid? Yes, and I'm echoing the words of one of the driving forces behind this blog. Catch us this week and find out what we're talking about!

So, what do sex and ambition have to do together? No, we're not talking couch-based promotion. Frankly cannot believe that still exists, but it does, sadly... Sigh

Still, what does a writer do when stringing ambition, writing, and sex in the same sentence? We attempt some answers for you.

Catch T.J. on Tuesday as she asks us where our ambition got lost when erotica started to burn trails down the publishers' paths. Don't miss this post, coz it's very insightful!

On Tursday, Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) takes a page off T.J.'s book and pens her own post on where she lost herself in the maze of trying to go down the erotica route. She poses a few questions and tells a bit about where and how sex and characters fit in a story.

And on Friday, don't miss Sandra Marshall's post on the whole issue of sex and heat in writing!

Don't forget:

This August, we're turning up the dial where the heat is concerned.

This August, we're on the quest:

Searching for a blast of heat...

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush

Thursday, August 13, 2009

People making love...

T.J. talked about sensuality in romances, the spark that leads to the romantic and sexual encounter. Where did it get lost in books?

It got me thinking of another facet - where did the people making love/having sex get lost in those books?

A thing that is missing in a lot of romances and erotica lately is emotion. Emotional drive = zilch, nada, non-existent.

You might ask, what's emotion got to do with it (in a strange twist on the Tina Turner title What's love got to do with it?) Well, love needn't have anything to do with the sexual encounter in your story, but emotion does. Why? Because emotion is the fuel for your scene.

Face it, people - you're not writing porn. Porn is about the mechanics, it's sex in motion/written, the nookie happening between two or more people depending on the scene you're penning.

For the sake of this post, I'll focus on two people, a man and a woman.

So let's say your setup is a hero and a heroine and they're burning for each other. You get them together in the same room and you make them do the deed. Great - you've got the sex scene in your story and if it's an erotica, well you're living up to the name by giving an erotic encounter. Right?

Wrong! Even erotica isn't porn - the basics, the mechanics, the deed being done do not constitute a sex scene in an erotic work or a romance, and far from it to even make a love scene!

What does then?

Well, think about it. Sex is said to be an intimate experience. Why? Because it's an intimate act. Intimate means it affects the person in some way, impacts him or her, involves him or her in a unique way.

If this involvement is lacking in your sex/erotic scene, you're writing porn. What makes this involvement tangible is emotions. Sensuality too, as T.J. put across so well. What is this person feeling when having this encounter? How is this impacting him/her? How is this changing his/her world, even if only for a split second?

At the same time, people are different. Characters are supposed to be people too, well-defined people that you as the author are putting across and whose story you're recounting to your audience. No two people have sex or experience a sexual encounter the same way. As a writer, think of this when you pen your sex scene. It should be commensurate with the kind of character you are portraying. A hardened cop, all male and Alpha, isn't going to worship his lover by thinking about her body in purple prose during the act. He won't wax poetic or lyrical in her ear, confessing undying love. Oh yes, he can make tender love, but the act itself is at the heart of the issue - he's hot, driven, and takes what he wants. Sex to him will be hooking his partner on whatever available surface and having wild sex on the moment, their carnal pleasure as the goal. A wilting wallflower isn't going to turn into a sex-crazed goddess/vixen the minute you unlock her in a bedroom. She isn't going to tear down the hero's shirt and nip hickeys all over his body just because passion combusted inside of her. No, her character demands TLC, romantic setting, candles, and all the hoop-la. People are different, and again, different people view and experience sex differently. Even encounters between the same couple will be different - the first drunken encounter that hits off right after leaving a club will be different from the way this same couple, if they do hook up long-term, will make love once they're an established couple.

And what highlights this difference is emotions. Tune in to your characters emotions and the emotional drive behind their actions and reactions. This will in turn fuel your sex/erotic scenes with something unique, something your readers will be grateful for because you are embarking them on a journey, the journey the characters are undergoing when they are in this world of sensuality and heat. Every character's journey, even in sex and love, is unique, and as the writer, this is one joker you hold that can make your work sronger and more powerful. Don't fail to use it.

Any questions, just holler!

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural Romantic Fiction, With a Twist
Coming out October 2 - Light My World - Eirelander Publishing
Nolwynn Ardennes - The Promise of Fulfilment
Coming out in January 8, 2010 - Storms in a Shot Glass - Eirelander Publishing

Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes - Romance the world over

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sensuality Ahoy

This isn't just a pet peeve of mine that arises from my being an editor, but it bugs me as a reader too. Where's the sensuality anymore? What happened to the backstory to the heat? That moment when the characters connected, perhaps not on an emotional level, but on a physical one. Yep, I'm looking for the spark.

I suppose first the 'spark' has to be understood. It's that jolt of electricity you read so many times in not only erotica but romances. The moment when the characters' gazes find each other and lock. The spark is, well, the spark that leads to the bedroom or the kitchen counter. It's the catalyst.

Okay, so not every publisher wants that. They want to have the heat upfront and in your face. That's fine for them. As a reader, I'm like – okay, so every character's crotch is at this moment making one hundred percent of their decisions – good for them. Still, there is a physical reaction I look for.

And there is proof it actually is how human beings feel out sexuality.

Desmond Morris' 12 Steps to Intimacy

Now I don't use all of these, normally I mix them up and skip a few to give the sex scene thrust, but this is all about how sensuality and sexuality physically occurs in normal human behavior.

There's another part that has been let go of in recent years – the five senses. Even in a sex scene, the lead can and should react to the other senses. Sex isn't just friction or woogie woogie – aha – all's good in crotch land. It's the atmosphere, the aura the writer builds around the character. Setting and smelling and feeling the emotions that come from gasping breaths, carnal kisses, heavy petting. This is what embellishes the sex scene and makes it hot.

The thing about the above list is about intimacy. It's not the immaculate perception that all of a sudden the characters are in love. It's the immensity of an act that can lead to love. How you draw it from there is up to you.

Your turn, is intimacy missing in sex scenes or do I just have lousy taste in books? Do you think using all five senses can help a sex scene or hurt it?

Until next Tuesday, cheers and happy writing,


Monday, August 10, 2009

With Love, from Ms. Blush

Hello to you all wonderful, beautiful people!

Life happens, doesn't it? And when else would it take place but in the scorching months of summer? Everyone's taking a break, we're all over the place, and we soak up the sun. If that's not gonna get the temps up...

Well, allow me to tell you that if the mercury rising in the outside heat is not enough for this August, we've got our own brand of heat and warmth to scorch and sizzle in the writing world. Proof? We're tackling all things heat and hot in romance.

Love scenes, sex scenes, romance, sensuality, erotic romance, erotica... We'll be dealing with all this in the month!

Catch us this week as we set out to bring more heat to the pages of your writings. T.J. kick- started this topic last week, and we're gunning the engines and sending sparks flying.

But, somewhere along the way, we started to ask ourselves - where did the love, emotion, and feelings go? How come sex became just sex in romance nowadays?

This week, we're tackling this very question.

T.J. on Tuesday will be asking you where the sensuality got lost, and she'll give some tips as to how to bring emotions and the five senses back into your characters' lovemaking. And, she also brings us the notion of the 'spark'. Find more about it in her enthralling post.

On Thursday, Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) takes a little break off from her bed-ridden, flu-suffering state to rant a little about the lack of emotions and in lovemaking scenes - are those characters simply going through the motions? Where have the people making love gone?

Throughout the month, we'll be joined by our regular contributors, Sandra Marshall and Diana Castilleja.

Don't forget:

This August, we're turning up the dial where the heat is concerned.

This August, we're on the quest:

Searching for a blast of heat...

The best of us for the best of you, that's our promise as we deliver the full flush of romance.

From now till later, enjoy!

With love, from Ms. Blush

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It’s HOT out there!

It's August and with the mercury inching up on the thermometer, Royal Blush Authors are going into the other hot topic – romance, erotica and erotic romance.

Okay, I can see half of the followers of our blog just check out. But you should know by now, I'm not one of those writers who take the 'what do you think about sex in a story' or 'do you think every romance needs a sex scene' stance. Both are personal opinion and up to the author who is penning the story. If you want to take a couple of characters out for a whirl across the sheets, go for it. Sex scenes not your style, good for you.

I've never shied away from a sex scene, but I have studied lifestyles to understand how the Dom/sub, Master/slave, Dominatrix actually works. I'm not some author who just throws the rules out the window, and these lifestyles do have there own set of rules, and say, "oh well".

The question today is can it go too far? Can an author string so many sex scenes together without a plot that the reader goes yawn? Can a story lose its drive simply because the hero's d!&k is leading the way (crotch thinking) and the heroine's legs are always twinging with sexual excitement? When has an author stepped over the heat line to the what-the-heck-is-the-author-thinking? Is the romance proven or is it a miraculous conception of 'oh, I love you, now screw me'?

I know. I know. There are publishers out there who say with pointed finger Р"You, sex it up". Or go, "this is the perfect moment for m̩nage". That's because that's what that publisher sells. If you don't want to go there, the best advice I can give you is don't submit there. Once you are under contract, you're pretty much going to have to do their bidding though most allow for some wiggle room.

Here's an example of a story I once read where I felt it went too far. Priestess plus eight concubines plus a quest for love includes priestess, butt plugs and having to take concubines with her during her merry journey for true love. Okay, that's going too far in my opinion. First, the plot is love. How do you actually find love when sex is morning, noon and night and it's the full monty? The story never made sense.

I also have problems with crotch thinking characters and every decision is made by their groins. To me, this is absolutely unnecessary unless you are writing for a publisher who tries to put themselves out as a romance publisher but the truth is they just want erotica. That's just my take on it, though.


You're turn. Have you ever read a story or stories where you went, "this is stupid"? Or, "okay, this has gone into the realm of too-many-sex-scenes-is-not-a-good-thing?"


Cheers and until next Tuesday, happy writing,



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Is B&N really trying to compete or is it all hooey?

With the largest on-line catalogue, Barnes and Noble seems to be trying to stretch their wings and really take on the massive force that is Amazon.

I think the competition will be good for the game, but there are a few aspects I remain suspicious of. Now it is a matter of wait and see - but compared to Amazon and their cornering of the market with Kindle, Barnes and Noble is putting on a good show.

With rumors flying that B&N is going to close the popular but struggling Fictionwise, which nobody knows for sure but seems to be gathering legs, we all have to wonder; can B&N do all they say they can?

In my opinion, any company with the bollocks to take on the all mighty Amazon - more power to you.