Whose Story Is It?

By Cynthia Sax on May 2, 2014

When I was solely a reader, I thought erotic romances were stories about two people (or more, if they were ménages), that the stories belonged to both the heroes and the heroines equally. Many times, the stories were written from both points of view so the characters must share the story, right?

Ummm…no. Once I started seriously (or semi-seriously as I’m never truly serious about anything – grins) studying and writing romances, I discovered that almost every story belongs to either the hero or the heroine, not to both characters. One character drives most of the action.

Just as it is difficult to have two people steering the same car, it is as challenging having two characters steer the same story. One character often takes the lead, stealing much of the focus.

In The Seen Trilogy (He Watches Me, He Touches Me, He Claims Me), the story is about Anna. She has the biggest emotional issues, takes the biggest emotional risks, changes the most. Sure, Blaine has issues (there’s a reason why romance heroes start stories as bachelors) but his issues tie into Anna’s.

In Breaking All The Rules, even though the story is told from Camille’s point of view, the story belongs to Nate. He changes the most during the story. His issues are the greatest. He has the most to lose.

I’m a pantser (a writer who writes by the seat of her pants, without any plot) but I usually know whose story I’m writing before I type the first sentence. The story belongs to the character who has to change, evolve, grow the most to achieve her or his happy ever after. Yes, the most messed up character gets the most page time. (laughs) Just like in real life, the drama mammas steal all of our attention.

Looking back at your favorite romances, which characters dominated the pages? Whose stories are they?

***

Nathan Lawford, Blaine Technologies’ chief financial officer, is known as the Iceman. He conducts his personal and business affairs without emotion, never allowing himself to become involved with anyone. When Nate sees something or someone he wants, he negotiates, paying a simple, set monetary price.

Now he wants Camille, the company’s green-haired intern.

Camille Joplin Trent never expected to be paid to pleasure the man of her dreams. She can’t quite figure out why this is a bad thing. Nate is intelligent, handsome, sophisticated, everything she’s ever wanted in a lover and never thought she could have. Their contract is for a month, thirty lust-filled days of making every sexual fantasy they’ve ever had come true. At the end of this month, the rules state their relationship will end.

Of course, Camille has never been good at following rules.

Buy Now At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-All-Rules-Erotic-Novella-ebook/dp/B00F2I2GXY

Buy Now At Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-all-the-rules-cynthia-sax/1117501082

Buy Now At ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-breakingalltherules-1453084-149.html

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Titles, Covers and Blurbs, Oh My

By Cynthia Sax on April 28, 2014

As we’re waiting to see the cover for Alien Tryst, my May 7th SciFi Erotic Romance novella releasing from Ellora’s Cave (I can’t WAIT – I LOVE seeing covers), I thought we’d talk about titles, covers and blurbs.

Publishers are responsible for titles, covers and blurbs. Some publishers don’t involve writers AT ALL in these decisions. These writers see their final titles, covers and blurbs when readers do. That’s why many writers haunt Amazon. (We also haunt Amazon because we obsess over rankings and reviews.-Grins)

I’m very fortunate because my publishers consult with me on all three. I submit my manuscripts with a working title. If my publisher likes this title, we keep it. If they don’t like it, they’ll ask me for more possible titles. I usually send ten titles for them to choose from. If they don’t like these titles, I’ll send them more. This is why I never mention my manuscripts’ titles before I receive a contract.

When I submit a manuscript, I also include a possible blurb in the query email. My publishers usually use this blurb as a base for the final blurb. They’ll often send the blurb to me before they post it on Amazon, B&N, ARe, etc. I act as quality control (ensuring names are spelled right, etc).

For the cover, I’ll fill out a cover request form either formally or informally. I’ll share information such as what the characters look like, the tone of the story (it was a dark and stormy night – grins), previous covers in the series (so all of the covers have the same look), and anything that I feel is key to the story. For example: Camille, the heroine of Breaking All The Rules, has green hair so I wanted green on the cover. Pink factors heavily in Flashes Of Me, which is why that cover is pink.

Sometimes I’ll see the cover before it is posted publicly. Sometimes I don’t. This depends on how close the release date is. There’s no time to redo the cover for Alien Tryst if we wish the story to release on May 7th. Unless something goes terribly wrong, the first cover I see for Alien Tryst will be the cover we use.

This is why choosing a publisher isn’t a casual task. Writers trust publishers with their titles, their covers, their blurbs, the three things readers see first.

***

Nathan Lawford, Blaine Technologies’ chief financial officer, is known as the Iceman. He conducts his personal and business affairs without emotion, never allowing himself to become involved with anyone. When Nate sees something or someone he wants, he negotiates, paying a simple, set monetary price.

Now he wants Camille, the company’s green-haired intern.

Camille Joplin Trent never expected to be paid to pleasure the man of her dreams. She can’t quite figure out why this is a bad thing. Nate is intelligent, handsome, sophisticated, everything she’s ever wanted in a lover and never thought she could have. Their contract is for a month, thirty lust-filled days of making every sexual fantasy they’ve ever had come true. At the end of this month, the rules state their relationship will end.

Of course, Camille has never been good at following rules.

Buy Now At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-All-Rules-Erotic-Novella-ebook/dp/B00F2I2GXY

Buy Now At Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-all-the-rules-cynthia-sax/1117501082

Buy Now At ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-breakingalltherules-1453084-149.html

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »

I Support Reviewers

By Cynthia Sax on April 26, 2014

I support your right to post honest reviews, including one star reviews. You’re one of my readers, you have an opinion and I respect your right to share it. Heck, I admire you for sharing it. That takes courage. (Freedom of speech, baby – I live it and love it)

I don’t care which name you attach to your review. If you feel more comfortable reviewing as Anonymous, review as Anonymous. Personally I’d choose a more colorful pen name (The Pink Unicorn Of Love) but hey, whatever floats your boat. (grins) You respect my need for privacy and I extend to you the same respect.

I’ll address some common questions I’ve received.

Q. I hear reviews help writers but I don’t feel comfortable writing them. Am I a bad reader?

Yes, you’re a bad, bad reader and you must be punished. Assume the position while I ask one of my hunky heroes to discipline you. Oh, Officer Drake…

LOL

Seriously… talking about the books you love helps writers. There are a zillion ways to talk about books. Writing reviews is merely one of these ways. I’ll often post on social media that I’m reading a certain book. I don’t say anything more, allowing my reading buddies to decide for themselves whether or not they want to read that book.


Q. I didn’t like one of your stories. Will you hate me forever?

Will you hate me forever for writing a story you didn’t like? (big hugs) My bestest buddy in the world hasn’t liked any story I’ve ever written (she doesn’t like erotic romance) and I still love her to bits.

Every story I write is different. Every character I write is different. I don’t expect you to like every story. I’d be alarmed if you did. That might be an indication that I’m not trying different things. Either that or you’re as nuts as I am. (grins) If that’s the case, you’re destined to be my best buddy forever.

Q. Do negative reviews make you angry?

I don’t like disappointing any reader. I don’t think any writer does. Your time is precious and you gifted that time to me. I want you to be happy.

But I won’t ever be angry with you if you write a negative review. UNLESS you’re mean to my readers. I’m super protective of my reading buddies. They’re part of my family. Yeah, I get all mamma bear about my readers.

Q. I posted a one star review of your story and now I’m receiving mean comments/emails. Are you responsible for this?

If you receive mean comments/emails because you posted a one star review of one of my stories, PLEASE contact me ! I’ll defend you and talk to the people involved.

I can assure you that the reader isn’t a member of my street team (the fabulous Cynsations). We cause a happy, upbeat, super positive type of chaos in Romanceland (if someone leaves a comment with a very bad pun, she or he might be a street team member – grins). No negative energy!

Q. I don’t agree with a review. What do I do?

Please respect the reviewer’s opinion. Writers often say that when a story is published, it no longer belongs to the writer, it belongs to the reader. Every reader reads a different story because we bring our own experiences into this story.

If you disagree, you can post your own review. There’s no need to directly address the previous review (this might make that reviewer feel bad and no one should feel bad about reading erotic romance). Simply offer other readers a different view of the same book. I LOVE reading these types of reviews.

If you ever have any questions about reviews, my stories or anything else (I’m an expert in all things Nutella also – grins), please send me an email !

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Keeping Stories Simple

By Cynthia Sax on April 25, 2014

The first romance story I ever completed writing was a 150,000 word, 500 page Regency romance called The Dragon Duke’s Protector. This story incorporated every plot you could ever imagine. There was a secret baby, a spy ring, a lady disguised as a governess, a self-made, half-Asian scarred bastard son of a Duke who somehow inherited the title, a haunted castle, a wicked stepmother and a wicked butler and a wicked maid and a wicked yet beautiful rival. There were pirates, missing gold, and murdered parents. You name the Regency plot. It was in there.

It was also a horrendous mess. My dear wonderful hubby often tells me if I ever become famous, he’ll rescue The Dragon Duke’s Protector from its place under the bed and have it published. But that’s a joke. This story will never see the light of day.

It was a first story and I made a very common first story mistake, a mistake I see in numerous contest entries while judging. I made the story too complicated, thinking I was being clever, thinking that complicated was a good thing.

Complicated is a bad thing, especially in romance. Every complication, every additional plotline or character or setting takes our attention away from the true reason we’re reading the story. We’re reading for the romance.

Of course, things should happen. No one wants to read a story about a couple drinking tea. But the focus of the story should always be on the romantic couple (or more if the story is a ménage). Every scene, every setting, every subplot, every secondary character should support the romance.

This is challenging to accomplish. Creating simple stories isn’t easy. Look at ballroom dancing. The professionals make it appear so effortless, as though anyone could do it, yet it has taken years, decades of hard work to create this illusion. A well-crafted romance is similar. It appears easy yet is dang difficult and never foolproof (This is why 1 star reviews happen. Some stories don’t work.).

I write a quick, messy, bare bones first draft of a story and then usually spend three or four drafts simplifying the story. Can I eliminate characters, making one character do the job of three? Do I have to change settings? Can I return to a setting I’ve already created? Does that oh-so-clever subplot serve the romance or should it be eliminated? Is my hero or heroine too complex? Can I reduce the heroine’s emotional baggage from twenty large trunks to one or two carryon pieces? All of this returns the focus to the romance, where it should be.

How do you simplify your stories?

***

Nathan Lawford, Blaine Technologies’ chief financial officer, is known as the Iceman. He conducts his personal and business affairs without emotion, never allowing himself to become involved with anyone. When Nate sees something or someone he wants, he negotiates, paying a simple, set monetary price.

Now he wants Camille, the company’s green-haired intern.

Camille Joplin Trent never expected to be paid to pleasure the man of her dreams. She can’t quite figure out why this is a bad thing. Nate is intelligent, handsome, sophisticated, everything she’s ever wanted in a lover and never thought she could have. Their contract is for a month, thirty lust-filled days of making every sexual fantasy they’ve ever had come true. At the end of this month, the rules state their relationship will end.

Of course, Camille has never been good at following rules.

Buy Now At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-All-Rules-Erotic-Novella-ebook/dp/B00F2I2GXY

Buy Now At Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-all-the-rules-cynthia-sax/1117501082

Buy Now At ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-breakingalltherules-1453084-149.html

Topics: Writing Tips | No Comments »