Jun 242010

Hello Readers,

The last time I had the blog we discussed the basic writing scene structure including how to craft sex scenes in an order that makes sense to the eyes based on movies. I did promise we’ll break that down but I wanted to take a step back here for a moment and focus on plot. I’m in the process of writing novel length stories (60k+) with the goal of expanding my brand. One of the questions that came to mind was word count and how I get a novel done so quickly while other writers are struggling with deadlines and feeling the definite stresses more than I ever will.

The reason for this is because I plot in a very militant manner while NOT trying to come up with a knock out drop dead bad ass best seller. The secret is not to worry about crafting that great American novel. I’ll repeat that because too many authors try to spend time doing this. You do NOT need to plot the great American novel unless that’s your goal. You’re plotting for SALES and a CAREER. The great American Novel may get you recognition but what else?

In the genre of erotic romance, the plots are always based on two things. First, sex MUST forward the plot through character development. In other words, we’re writing our sex scenes as part of the series of events that trigger growth between our heroes and heroines. Next, the ROMANCE between the two characters, regardless of genre is emphasized.

Plot is what happens to the characters and I’m sure by now you’ve all seen my breakdown of a basic romance story and a basic erotica story.

In EROTICA sex is the plot. The ONE event (depending on the story length) is that the characters have to end up in bed. This can be conflict driven.
Boy and Girl meet
Boy and Girl get off
Set up for another round or end the story.

Boy and Girl meet
Plot happens to throw boy and girl together and they end up in bed
Character behavior occurs and they split up
Somehow can’t keep their hands off each other, yet the plot happens still
Resolve the ISSUE and HEA/HFN.

Without the sex forwarding the plot you have a story WITH sex.

Now when it comes to breaking down that plot, we have to analyze where in our stories the sex falls, what types of sex scenes need to occur and what sorts of events need to happen AROUND the sex scenes. You have to factor in where the characters are in their growth stages with the emotional arc and the plot arc. Then we have to look at story length because emotional arcs differ as do plot arcs from short story to writing a novel.

It’s a lot of work.

This is why I detest the porno/erotica argument especially when labeled against erotic romance. All the work put in to create a story is just that. WORK!

If you’re not writing in the erotic romance genre, that’s fine but if you’re adding sex it better make sense. Story with sex isn’t something readers want to read.

If they want that, they can go to Peacock Blue for quality literature.

We’ll start breaking plot down. My goal overall is to give you a good base from which to learn from and I think our other authors have done that with the why and how of why we write as we do, but future posts are going to get a little deeper in content as we grow.

Until then, keep it sexy!

Sascha Illyvich

Jun 172010

Audio book publishers are popping up all over the place.
Jean Marie’s Renaissance E Books has an audio section, as do several other publishing houses.
I too
after 15 years of producing audio erotic stories
have thrown my hat into the ring with a new audio publishing house.
It is topic many authors are considering. After all expanding the outlets, expands the brand.
But unlike podcast stories written specifically for audio, many written for readers stories sound awful when spoken out loud.


Because sound is a visual medium
and not all words translate the emotional impact when they are taken from page to ear
Think of it this way a book is made into a movie
not every scene or ever character is put into the movie
there are adaptations made in order to keep the audience’s attention.

Think about it what will have more impact
someone reading “and Sally screamed”
or actually hearing Sally Scream

So what are the steps to getting this write stuff right?
well the answer to that is easy…
Picture your story being read by a sight impair person.
So how will this blind person see your words?
A dull voice or an awkward sentence is as jarring as a misplaced semicolon to a grammatician.
But where a editor will redline you manuscript
a listener will just turn you off.
your gone!

and the word of mouth
the buzz that creates your 10000 strong followers disappears
Books are a brand.
it so important to give a brand not only a visual image but also a sound identity?

When thinking about writing for sound
decide is this unabridged or an adaption
My written work is always written with the ears of the reader in mind
I apply the keep it simple approach
but that may not work for everyone
so then you must decided
who is your narrator
(not everyone has a voice that is easy to listen to..
Don’t hate me Sascha but when you read your excerpts on the Unnamed Romance Show you read it too fast and you lose the emotions but when your assistant reads it it is much more full bodied and it allows the listener to get involved with the words…)

Will your story have
1 voice or many
how much dramatization will you allow or expect
will there be sound effects
will it read like a good book
or performance art
Writing for the page and writing for the ear can be two different approaches. If you intended to allow your stories to be available in both mediums then you must take time to answer the above questions, if you;re nto recording your stories but allowing a publishing house to do this, then listen to the stories they have recorded ask questions and set up parameters otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.

oceania monroe
publisher for the new audio book house Pure Obsessions

Jun 102010

Ah, yes, dialogue: People talking at each other, right? Or are they, instead, talking to the reader, alternately revealing the plot in carefully-titrated installments, or providing “drama” as they “interact” and “character development” as they “reveal their foibles”?

Dialogue: it’s made out of wood, and you carve it with a chainsaw, right?

I’ve always despised writing dialogue. As one of my favorite essays on writing dialogue points out, it’s is one of the hardest things for beginning writers to get the hang of — but even seasoned writers rarely write good dialogue.

In any kind of fiction, conversations are often forced and unrealistic at best, laughably ridiculous at worst. Voracious fiction readers often barely even notice it, because they get used to it, which is probably why the biggest fiction readers, when they turn to writing, often write the very worst dialogue. They write it like they’ve read it, and it sounds awkward — because dialogue in most fiction sounds awkward.

This syndrome perpetuates for a good procedural reason in addition to just plain habit: In plot-driven fiction, dialogue’s purpose is not to portray how people really talk, but to move the plot forward and establish character. It is a very rare writer who can have her or his characters do those two things and also sound realistic. It’s a rare writer, actually, who can have characters do that and not sound just plain weird.

When we start talking about erotica, it gets weirder still. How does one portray people talking dirty without sounding dumb? When most people think about talking dirty, they imagine dialogue like “Give me your long hot cock!” or “You want it? Yeah? You want it? Yeah? You want it?” that seem to be copped from porn movies.

Evangelists for “talking dirty in bed” often encourage practitioners to do exactly that sort of thing, if that’s what’s hot for them. And that’s awesome if you’re trying to turn on yourself and your partner, verbally. Much of the instruction around learning to talk dirty in bed has to do with losing your inhibitions. Say “give me your long hot cock” if that’s what works for you, and/or your partner.

To be an effective dirty-talker in your private life, on some level you need to not be afraid to sound ridiculous.

But if you’re a writer, it’s your job not to sound ridiculous. Characters in your erotic novel or story shouldn’t spew porn-movie clichés in dialogue any more than they should order a pizza with “extra sausage” without any way to pay for it.

Writing teachers and in how-to articles often suggest that a writer should learn to write convincing dialogue by listening to how people talk. Which is a great piece of advice, but to learn how people talk dirty, do you have to be a big fuckin’ slut?

That certainly helps. If you’ve had sex with a lot of people, you might have a better sense of how people act in bed (or the back seat, or the restroom of a 747 on the polar route to Helsinki, or bent over the railing at a football game), which includes how they talk. That may also be true if you’re a sex worker of any flavor, or if you’ve done any other kind of professional communication about sex that puts you in contact with people and their foibles. If you’re the sort of person who can go to public sex parties or BDSM events, and you’re in the sort of locale that has them, you can certainly learn a lot about how people interact sexually by attending such a thing.

But it’s not necessary to be a big-city perv in order to write erotica (as I hope you already know), and you don’t have to fuck people to know how they talk about sex.

The truth is, finding out how people talk about sex isn’t all that difficult. You simply ask them. If you’re not comfortable talking to your friends about sex, you’re going to have a harder time writing about it.

On the other hand, if you’ve really decided that people in your social circle aren’t up for talking about it, then you can also turn to online communities — because while the language people use when posting or chatting about sex certainly isn’t the same as they’d use in person, verbally, it’s a hell of a lot closer to what they’d say in bed than the dialogue in most erotic fiction. Or, for that matter, in the quotes in “nonfiction” articles you’ll read in Cosmopolitan, all of which I’m convinced are made up by the authors, or at least heavily paraphrased.

Another way to spice up your erotic dialogue is to read quality nonfiction about sex. For instance, one of the very best books you can read for learning how women talk about sex is Nancy Friday’s groundbreaking My Secret Garden, a series of interviews with women about their sexual fantasies. Its companion, Men In Love features Friday interviewing men. The books are very out of date nowadays — but they’re still among the best, freshest documents out there for exploring how people talk and feel about sex. Even though the interviews aren’t in the form of dialogue, these books are a great place to start.

Keep in mind that dialogue should, ideally, move the plot forward and reveal character while sounding fresh. If it sounds realistic, more’s the better — and fresh often equals realistic. But it’s better to write unrealistic dialogue that’s a joy to read than to write dialogue that’s realistic, but doesn’t work in story terms, whether your characters are in the bedroom, boardroom, hotel room or on a surfboard.

Last but far from least, work on your dialogue outside the bedroom as well as inside the bedroom, with all the tools that you can find. Read plays and screenplays, which often have more finely-honed dialogue sensibilities than fiction. Listen to people talk on the street, in cafes, in classrooms, wherever.

Unless you’re writing pure-sex vignettes, then as an erotic writer you’ve got to engage readers the same way any other commercial writer does; you’ve got to keep them reading long enough to get your peeps to bed. You can write the hottest pillow-talk in the world, but if you’re lost your reader before the protagonists even make it back to her place, then your heroine’s cries of “Extra sausage? But I ordered anchovies!” will go unappreciated.

And did I mention listen? Too many of us sit around in conversation waiting to talk. As a writer, you get to express yourself on the page. So, if you don’t already, start to listen, not just to what people are saying, but how they are saying it. Getting a real knack for dialogue in general will mean that when it comes time for you to undress your characters, they’ll be as fully-formed as you can make them — or, at least, as they need to be for the story.

Jun 042010


It’s an email I receive often from new ebook authors: “What can I do to improve my book’s sales?”

I, as a publisher, do what I can. We try to give books covers we have reason to think will help them sell. And sometimes titles we think have a similar quality. We also send out copies for review to various book review sites on the web. We take “cover ads” and banner ads and bookmark ads on many of those same sites. And we get writers the occasional blog or chatroom tour. Other than that, and the occasional promotional activity, there isn’t much more publisher’s can do.

The truth is that for the past several decades research reported in Publisher’s Weekly and other journals has consistently shown that a publisher’s promotional efforts and advertising don’t sell books, ebooks or print. Advertisements in the New York Times Review of Books, People, or wherever, don’t play any significant role in influencing someone’s decision about whether or not to buy a particular book.

So why do the big publishers spend so much money on full-page ads in various publications? According to the late Richard F. X. O’Connor, former marketing director for Doubleday’s book publishing division and for Walden books, the more successful progenitor of today’s Border’s chain, the big publishers take out big splashy ads to make their top-selling writers feel important and to show everyone that the publisher is successful enough to afford such ads.

So what does sell books? And here we are talking about all kinds of books, ebooks, paperbacks, and hard covers, be they mystery, romance, historical novel, presidential biography, self-help, or even erotica. One thing, O’Connor says, sells books and one thing only. Word of mouth!

Yes, word of mouth. Or, to put it another way, reader excitement. Readers are special people. There aren’t a lot of them, and they tend to hang out with each other so they have someone to talk about books with. They even tend to congregate with people who like to read the same type of books they do. Science fiction readers often have friends who also read science fiction. The same can be said for romance readers, who are often heard discussing the newest book by the bestselling romance author of the time.

So when a reader of contemporary fantasy, say, really likes an author or book so much, she or he can barely contain his or her excitement and has to tell someone else about it, so they tell other readers of contemporary fantasy. If those readers like it, they tell other readers of contemporary fantasy, and the word spreads very rapidly by mouth. Hence, word of mouth.

The same thing happens today on the internet, only much faster with Facebook, Twitter, blogs. I call this “word of web.” If someone is wowed by a book or author, they Twitter it, blog it, email it, and maybe Google group it; and if a sufficient number of other people read it and like it, the lucky author’s reputation and sales are on the way up.

So, when it comes to selling books, the object is not so much to merely expose the title or idea of a book to readers, many publisher’s are advertising or promoting many books, and a reader’s disposable income for book purchases is limited. What decides which books they are willing to invest their limited book budget in is an enthusiastic recommendation or mention by another reader of similar ilk. So when it comes to selling books, the focus should be on developing ways to generate reader enthusiasm for an author’s work.

While some readers can work up some enthusiasm for publishers, they never-the-less respond a lot more warmly and enthusiastically to authors than they do to publishing companies. That’s a no brainer.

So, in the internet era, a larger share of the burden of winning readers over falls on the author. Or, to look at it another way, today the internet provides incredibly powerful tools that allow an author anywhere in the world to have an unprecedented influence on the marketing and reader reception of their own books. And, more, via all the social networking tools, the author essentially can have something a lot like the direct, personal interaction of a bookstore signing or reading with readers every day.

When readers get to know an author personally, they are far more likely to buy that author’s work. The internet makes it possible for you to help readers get to know and like you. If they do they will share their positive regard for you with other readers, and you are on your way to becoming known.

If you want to create or build a loyal audience of readers eager to read each story or book that comes out, you must have an exciting site that makes people want to come back. You must use it to promote your books and yourself as a writer. Look up the sites of some successful authors of erotica and see what they are like. Emulate what they do. You can’t go wrong.

Once you have readers coming to your site, you want to communicate with them directly, give them a sense of who you are. This is your chance to establish a bond that will carry over into sales. That’s what blogs are for. In a blog you can share your opinions, likes and dislikes, and just about whatever of what you think of and about as you are willing to share. There are many sites that tell you how to build blog traffic. Look them up and follow their advice.

Twitter is also a powerful aid to selling your book, instantly sharing news about it through widening networks of people. And the use of Facebook or some variant like Myspace is also essential.

It’s no coincidence that the writers I know with the best sites, who work the hardest to make use of all their available internet tools have the best sales over all.