“I don’t like giving out ARCs.”
“I don’t like attending conferences.”
“I don’t like putting keywords in titles.”
“I don’t like man titty on covers.”
“I don’t like giving away books.”
Then don’t do it. Yes, it is THAT simple.
It won’t be the end of your career. Hey, it might even be good for your career. Why? Because you will be happier, care more, perhaps write more. Readers can sense that.
“But-but-but I HAVE to do it.”
No, you don’t. I don’t know one thing, outside of actually getting books written, that is essential for a writer’s success.
Sure, it helps if you have a half decent cover (i.e. a cover readers don’t wince at when they see it) but I know writers who have dreadful covers and they have found readers who don’t give a shit about that. Sure, spellchecking a story before it is published seems like a necessity but I know writers who have books filled with spelling errors and they have readers. These readers might be challenging to find but they are out there.
There are no rules. None. If you don’t like something, ask yourself why you are doing it. If it is because you think every other writer is doing it, I can assure you they aren’t.
In some ways, this makes this wonderful career more challenging. There’s no blindly following the crowd, allowing others to make our decisions for us. Everything is a decision. But there’s a reward for that additional work. We can craft the career we truly want.
The flipside of this is… we don’t get to dictate what other writers do with their careers either. If Writer X wants to give away all of her stories for free, she can. If Writer Y wants to put every keyword she knows into her titles, she can. There are no rules.
Craft the career you wish. Enjoy this wonderful experience.
Fragile. Stubborn. His.
Ghost, a C Model cyborg, has disconnected his machine from his human side. Severely damaged, he knows two things—the curvy human female on his ship belongs to him and he must keep her safe. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her, claim her, make her his.
Primitive. Damaged. Hers.
Lethe has seen the savage side of beings. The courageous Rebel captain has never met a male like Ghost. Overpoweringly dominant, he appeals to her on a primal level, filling her mind with thoughts of sweet surrender, hard kisses, and body-heating encounters against the warship’s walls.
They are two broken beings, one determined to protect, the other intent on flying into danger. Can love heal them both before they face their common enemy?
Ghost Of A Machine is Book 9 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.
It is also a BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance.
When Camille, the heroine of Breaking All The Rules, is presented with a rule, her immediate reaction is to question it and then, if she thinks it’s silly rule, break it. She pushes people and boundaries.
Hmmm… doesn’t this sound like every writer you know?
Which makes it ironic that there are so many rules floating around Romanceland, rules that savvy writers should consider breaking, rules like the following
Plot And Characters
1) Your Heroine And Hero Must Meet In The First Chapter
This is such an established ‘rule’ that some contest judges will deduct marks if it is broken. Many category romances also insist on stories adhering to this rule. The thinking is that romance readers read for the romance and the romance doesn’t start until the heroine and hero meet.
I’ve broken this rule plenty of times. Why? Because we have to learn about the heroine before we care about her or anyone else she meets. Sometimes this learning takes more than 12 pages (3,000 words). Maybe she’s fighting zombies or returning home after a long absence or dealing with a personal tragedy. Girlfriend has things to do before she meets Mr. Hunkalicious.
2) Your Heroine Must Be Nice
Writers are told that their heroines must be sympathetic. Some writers assume sympathetic equals nice. Ummm… no. Sympathetic means we can relate to her. We understand what she’s feeling. This doesn’t mean she’s all sweetness and light. Some of the most interesting heroines in Romanceland are a wee bit nasty. They have a reason to be nasty and we understand this reason but they’re certainly not winning any Miss Congeniality awards.
The opposite of this rule is
Your Villain Must Be Mean
Many of my villains become heroes of their own stories. Yes, when they’re depicted as villains, they make trouble for the heroines and heroes. They might appear mean. But when they tell their sides of the stories, readers realize they have justification to act this way. I once read that the scariest villain isn’t the crazy axe-wielding psychopath. It is the normal person with a different motivation.
3) Your Heroine Must Immediately Recognize Her One True Love
I understand this rule. I fell in love with my dear wonderful hubby at first sight (20 plus years later, we’re still very much in love). Some of my heroines look across the room and KNOW their heroes are the men for them. They have been looking for their true loves their entire lives. They BELIEVE in true love.
But there are heroines who no longer believe in love. They’ve been burned by men or relationships too many times. Or their heroes are their enemies. Or, sometimes worse, they’re friends with their heroes. Even if these heroines feel something for their heroes, they dismiss their emotions. They certainly don’t recognize the heroes as their true loves.
4) Your Hero Must Say ‘I Love You.’
I like it when the hero says the words. It confirms what I think he’s feeling, makes his emotions real. Many readers feel the same way. I’ll often receive emails if the hero doesn’t say the words.
But writers have to be true to our characters. If the hero would never ever say ‘I love you’, under no circumstance, not even under the threat of death (his or the heroine’s), we shouldn’t force him. Sometimes the heroine will say the words for him. Sometimes he’ll show his love in such a way that no reader can deny it.
5) A Romance Must End With A Wedding
I love weddings. The happiness overflows and I usually end up crying, even during fictional weddings. Years ago, almost every romance novel ended with either a wedding or a baby.
But this is 2014 and some of our romance heroines or heroes would never consider having a wedding at the end of the story. Sometimes the relationship is still too new. They’re committed but not ready for this step. Sometimes they don’t believe in marriage. Maybe, like Camille’s hippie parents, they don’t believe in the legislation of love. Sometimes, in the case of futuristic or SciFi romances, marriage no longer exist.
Again, writers have to be true to their characters.
Writing And Publishing
6) You Must Be A Plotter Or You Must Be A Pantser
Writers are either predominantly plotters (writers who plot, who know the entire story before they begin to write) or predominantly pantsers (writers who write by the seat of their pants, who sit down at a blank screen and start to type). Plotters think everyone should plot. Pantsers think everyone should let their muses roam free.
My experience has been that both pantsers and plotters complete the same steps. We simply complete them in different orders. My buddy is a plotter. She’ll outline her key turning points, ensuring they adhere to a three act structure, BEFORE she starts writing. I’m a pantser. I’ll write the first draft and THEN I’ll outline my key turning points, ensuring they adhere to a three act structure (that’s my preferred structure also), tweaking the story upon revision.
One way isn’t better than the other. There are best selling plotters and best selling pantsers. We end up with the same quality of story.
7) A Romance Must Be Told From Both The Hero’s And The Heroine’s Points Of View
Again, this rule is so established, that some contest judges will deduct marks if a story is told only from one point of view. Some category romance lines specifically ask for both points of view.
All of my contemporary erotic romances (He Watches Me, He Touches Me, He Claims Me, Flashes Of Me, Breaking All The Rules, and the upcoming 12 novella Sinful Rewards serial) are written solely from the heroine’s point of view. They can ONLY be written from the heroine’s point of view. The stories fall apart if the hero’s perspective is given.
Point of view is a tool. Use the best point of view to tell your story.
8 ) Your Story Must Be X Number Of Pages
When print ruled Romanceland, a story’s word count or number of pages was very important. Printing and binding a forty page story made no sense. The costs and corresponding price would be crazy high and very few stores would stock such a story.
With eBooks, this has all changed. There’s no printing and no binding. The online booksellers happily stock shorter stories. This is also true for longer stories. I’ve seen 1,200 page stories being sold.
Although some publishers still request a certain word count, there is a market for every length. Use as many or as few words as your story requires.
9) Print Must Be Your Goal
Some writers don’t feel published until they see their book in print and on shelf. For some of us (myself included), this isn’t necessary. eBook only writers have hit the best seller lists. They have large readerships and make very healthy livings.
But this might not be your goal either. There are many different reasons to write. The happiest writers in Romanceland ensure their goals line up with their reasons for writing.
10) Your Story Must Be Perfect Before You Submit It To A Publisher/Agent
Yes, your story should be the best it could be. Publishers and agents see hundreds, sometimes thousands of manuscripts. Showing your work to trusted critique partners, writing buddies, or beta readers before sending it to publisher or agents can increase the odds of receiving a ‘yes, we love it’ response.
But your story won’t ever be perfect. EVER. Even after 12 rounds of edits with a professional editor and copyeditors, your story won’t be perfect. One of the stories I think is the tightest story I’ve ever read has a typo in it.
Your goal should be to write a great story, not a perfect story.
What other rules do you think romance writers should break?
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.