Monday, February 20, 2017



With the scheduled release of the Fifty Shades Darker on February 10, fans are getting excited about seeing their favorite characters and scenes come to life on the big screen.
Many of us remember getting pulled into 1,500 plus pages of non-stop reading and being stunned by the “book hangover” that ensued.

And may writers still wonder: what made so many go ga-ga for Mr. Grey?

Sex therapist Sari Cooper, LCSW, offered some great insights into this in “Fifty Shades of Grey: What You Can Learn about Sex Esteem from the Bestseller,” a lecture she gave in Manhattan a while back. Cooper, a columnist for Psychology Today and an ASECT certified sex therapist, outlined what she called “the erotic triggers” that are written into the book and said these triggers combined are what kept the heroine, Anastasia Steele (Ana) so stimulated and intrigued, and made the story so irresistible to readers.

“These are the multisensory messages that our bodies receive and that get us turned-on,” she explained. Writers of steamy fiction might find some new hints for making things hotter. With her permission, here are the top 10 erotic triggers:

1.    Powerful hero. “He is dark, mysterious, and possibly dangerous — a total Alpha male. He’s wild, dangerous and unpredictable. Being with him is like a roller coaster ride.”

2.    Awakened Heroine. “She is innocent. She is the yin to the yang of Christian Grey. She is a young woman awakened by this man who knows a lot more. “

3.    Christian Grey uses all the senses — taste, touch, sight, scent, sound. “For example, Ana is always talking about how he smells and he about her scent. He also consciously uses these different triggers to arouse her.”

4.    Music is huge part of it. There are many musical moments in the book that inspire erotic or emotionally charged moments.

5.    He appeals to her psychologically. “He sends signals to throw her off-balance, such as his first gift of the collector’s edition of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. He attached a quote from the book that says there may be danger waiting. It creates more intrigue for her and she is intrigued by him.”

6.    There is stimulation of all the erogenous zones and multisensory anticipation. “Christian does it with such expertise, and so much foreplay, with plenty of time to get Anastasia ready.
          A.   Primary erogenous zones. Genitals and breasts.
          B.   Secondary erogenous zones: Earlobe, neck.
          C.   Tertiary erogenous zones: Feet, arms, scalp. 

7.    BDSM. “The book has opened up the door a crack to things people may not have considered before. In Fifty Shades, Ana has many fears about being hurt, but when she is in the red room of pain she is not just in pain — she is in a state of arousal beyond what she would normally feel. Sexual arousal sometimes involves working with negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. It’s the experience of being on a roller coaster that enhances the state of arousal.”

8.    Love. “Ana pushes for ‘more’ than being his submissive and he ‘tries’ because he will do anything to keep her. He’s only had subs [submissive female partners] before, women that he has controlled, and he is pushed to his hard limits by Ana who is demanding more. That’s what people love about the book. They want the romance, the emotional tension. Will it work out for them? They want to know!”

9.    The experience of being desired. “This is a huge erotic trigger for women. It’s the experience of being that special someone. There is no one else in his eyes. He only has eyes for her. She is the one he longs for. It combines the erotic with the sensual. Being desired is such a turn on for women.”

10.  He’s very loyal. “At first we are not sure if we can trust him. She talks about his ‘stalker tendencies.’ What wins Ana over, and wins the reader over, is he’s very loyal. And when she needs him, he’s there. I think it works because women can feel the fantasy of having that danger, with the security of having a good relationship.”

The reader is constantly barraged with these triggers or cues, along with a genuine emotional connection between the characters. Even if some of the writing is corny, the sentiments can set women’s hearts afire because they stimulate the fantasy of the perfect man who is not only gorgeous and rich, but is sexually masterful and desires her pleasure. His virility and her fertility are a turn-on and can help the reader feel young, just reading about their interactions. Sigh.♥

A.C. Rose is a love and romance columnist and author of steamy romance books. Visit her at For more insights to why readers fell in love with Christian Grey, read FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY by A.C. Rose.

Read the full article at the Three Tomatoes:


Friday, February 17, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

The Maiden Series
by Mageela Troche

SUMMARY:   In glittering world of Regency England, Lady Charlotte Hammersley, Charlie as she is known, is more than a wallflower, she is the wall supporting the flower. Her father has pronounced this is her fourth and final season. The last chance for her to marry the man she loves. When she overhears the Earl of Harrington place a wager to turn any lady into the toast of the ton, Charlie presented herself.

The Earl of Harrington must win the wager to save his brother from destruction and the minx vows she is the perfect lady for him. He finds he cannot deny her as she intrigues him, as he has never been before. Navigating the London Season, they face scandal, jealously and the possibility their wager may be discovered and ruin their lives.  Will they win the biggest gamble of all—for their love?


Friday, February 10, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

by Xyla Turner

Find out what happens when this F student 
applies himself in more ways than one.


Monday, February 6, 2017


By Lise Horton

Too many of our members have been personally impacted by publisher difficulties. Ellora’s Cave. Torquere Press, Samhain (which has experienced a rebirth), and Secret Cravings (which closure seems to have avoided major bumps, though I have no personal knowledge). But they are merely the most recent examples, and were preceded over the last several years by Triskelion, Crescent Moon Press, Dorchester Publishing, Aspen Press and the subsequent operation started by stranded Aspen personnel, Musa.

The abrupt closing of All Romance E-books has once again fomented that bitter backlash that has arisen in the past when a publisher has sunk into chaos and shut its doors. ARe’s demise may have been without warning, but with publishers, both for the submitting author, as well as the author established with a particular house, there are ways to be vigilant and hopefully avoid a bad situation before it starts, or gets worse.

Of course, there will be times when a shutdown will catch everyone unawares, and if you are a contracted or published author with a house, you can perhaps be attuned to certain issues that can signal a problem and you can extricate yourself early in the process to avoid being tied up in legal issues or bankruptcy.  

So you want to submit. How do you vet a publisher?

First, go to the source. Check every nook and cranny of the publisher’s website. Is it professional looking? One house that engendered criticism had numerous typos, grammatical errors and punctuation problems, and representative samples of authors’ work showed bad writing and bad editing.

How much information is given about the principals? Their industry experience or credentials? (Too many turn out to be a couple of friends who self-published and then decided to become “publishers” with no real expertise, and sometimes merely a desire to make an easier buck.)

What details are included for submitting authors? It’s vital you know what is TYPICAL in order to spot an aberration, such as the claim I saw on one site that no marketing would be expected of an author because they needed to immerse themselves in their art, and not deal with such trivial realities (the actual language was even more florid).

Do they include the most important details, such as formats they publish in and basic royalty rates? Response times on submissions?

Delve deeper. Pick a representative sample of the house’s titles. Check out reviews on Amazon. Are there substantive complaints about bad editing, problematic formatting, lousy cover art and writing skill in the books? (Every book gets a couple of bad reviews, but be wary if a lot of the house titles get a lot of bad reviews.) If you can afford to, even buy a couple of titles and vet them.

Reach out to a few authors for references for the house.

And check out author sites like Writer Beware, Absolute Water Cooler, Preditors & Editors and Dear Author for consistent complaints and discussions about a house (a caveat being you’ll always find a couple of grumpy folk in the best of places). And keep abreast of your RWA email blasts and news because they keep on top of bad situations too, like ARe, and previously Ellora’s Cave.

Give yourself a research window. Follow the publisher on social media. Do they promote authors? Do they have a blog, newsletter, author contributions? How do they comport themselves? Recall Tina Engler/Jaid Black’s on-line meltdowns and threats, at the very worst of the EC scandal, yet they were still soliciting submissions and people were still submitting! That behavior should be a major red flag.

If everything passes the sniff test and you submit and are offered a contract, undertake phase 2 of your vetting (you’re not committed until you sign that contract). NOTE: Do not be so eager to be published, no matter what, that you ignore concerns about any aspect of this process! And talk to your RWA friends! They’ve seen it all!

Your best option would be to consult a publishing lawyer (or literary agent) if you’re given a contract. NOT your Uncle Dick, the personal injury guy. Publishing is industry specific and not knowing industry standards means they might not spot an egregious clause, or realize a vital provision is missing.

The entire contract is important, but a few areas are key when a house might be in trouble.

Reversion of rights. Know how you can request your rights back; under what circumstances (e.g., breach of contract terms such as scheduled payment of royalties or royalty statements).

If the publisher can assign the rights to a third party (typical), what are the terms and restrictions?  Do you lose additional rights, do the royalties or reversion terms change?

Does the contract address bankruptcy (it is a quagmire, no matter what, but if they don’t even MENTION the potential situation, that should make you very wary)?

As for basic provisions, if they’re muddy, or missing, or vastly different than standard, ask for clarification. This is a business transaction and you need to embrace your power as a party to a legal contract. Don’t be cowed. And keep accurate records of email correspondence on these topics, because any promises made (such as “good faith negotiation”) can be your legal ace in the hole.

Bottom line. You have to eventually make a choice. If the stars align, it may be a publishing match made in heaven. But if something goes wrong, from bad luck at a good house, to nefarious doings at a bad one, you should gird your loins, handle what needs doing and then move on. Hard to do. Painful, frustrating, maddening.

Then write your next book, find a new publisher, and get back on your author horse.♥

Lise Horton in published in erotica and erotic romance, including her Golden Flogger-nominated 2015 BDSM erotic romance, HOLD TIGHT, and she presented her workshop on sensory description, A Feast for the Senses, at the 2016 BDSM Writers Conference. She returns in 2017 as Chapter Secretary and at her day job is in her 26th year as legal assistant at an entertainment law firm dealing with publishing. Lise writes smoldering, intense romance replete with laughter, and kink. Visit her at

Friday, February 3, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

by A.C. Rose

This book is a tribute to all the fans who fell in love with Christian Grey and continue to be so. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017


By Kate McMurray
President RWA/NYC

There’s a big difference between publishing a book and having a writing career.

Before my first book was published, I had a desk job at which I frequently daydreamed about some time in the future when I’d spend my days writing fiction and not filling out Excel spreadsheets or whatever I was doing on the job that day. I imagine a lot of you had the same dream. However, you came to be a writer, it’s likely a compulsion, a passion, something you do because you love it, and it’s something you’d like to be able to do a lot more of.

There have been a rash of articles in major publications lately about writers who sold their first book and then went broke. Money is one of those things we Do Not Discuss, so I think a lot of writers don’t know what to expect, or have unrealistic expectations, when that first book comes out. We tend to think that once we sign our first contract, that’s it, we’ve arrived. But a career as a writer is a marathon, not a sprint. And maybe knowing what to expect will help better plan how to do what you love as your career, instead of wondering if you can do it.

I have a group of writer friends with whom I have dinner once a month or so. These are my People. One of the best pieces of career advice I ever heard was from Sarah MacLean, who suggested making friends with writers who are at approximately the same stage of their career as you are. You will face a lot of the same issues and can trade notes on how to deal with them. My group are authors I met and befriended mostly at conventions, but our first books came out within a year or two of each other, so though we’ve had varying levels of success, we have a lot of experience we can share that benefits each other. Sometimes we really get into it, airing grievances, giving advice, or just shouting about things we’re frustrated with. But I always leave feeling inspired and ready to get back into the writing.

Anyway, we had dinner a couple of weeks ago, and the topic of money came up in the context of author behavior on Facebook. A trend I’ve noticed lately is writers who are diversifying their income streams. Not just by becoming hybrid authors, but by creating things like Patreon pages. (If you’re unfamiliar, Patreon is a platform on which people can patronize artists they like by paying a monthly fee, usually in exchange for exclusive content. I’m neutral on Patreon, but there was some lively debate regarding it recently.) My friends and I discussed the trend and wondered if authors were creating Patreon accounts to increase their income because they weren’t making the money they expected to when they started publishing.

So this got me thinking about the book vs. career problem. Because if you put out your first book and then sit back and wait for fame and fortune, you will likely be disappointed.

We hear about these success stories, authors whose debut novels were runaway bestsellers, or authors who have done amazingly well self-publishing. And I’m not saying this level of success is not possible, but it’s rare. For every Carrie Ann Ryan or Sylvia Day or JK Rowling, there are literally thousands of authors publishing whom you’ve never heard of.

Nor do we really hear much about what went into making those books. If you’ve ever heard Nora Roberts speak or read any articles about her, you probably know she took up writing when her children were very young and she was struggling to make ends meet. Jude Deveraux was living in a trailer when she sold her first book. JK Rowling was a single mom living on public assistance. To me, these stories show us not just that it’s possible to earn a good living from writing, but that these women have a tremendous work ethic. How many of us get bogged down in the day to day and don’t write? The fact that these women were struggling and made time to write on top of that is remarkable.

And it’s something they applied to their careers. Nora Roberts talks about treating writing as a full-time job. She does it at least eight hours a day no matter what, unless she’s on vacation. Sylvia Day wrote and wrote and wrote books until BARED TO YOU finally broke through. Success at that level is a full-time job, not just a hobby.

We approach self-publishing as if it’s a cash cow, but even E.L. James had a platform before housewives started passing around copies of Fifty Shades of Grey—she worked for the BBC, for one thing, and her Internet-published fanfiction had a huge following.

Or, just the other day, I got an email from a marketing firm that had done some analysis of sports romance. Since my bestselling book is a romance about baseball players, they thought I might be interested in their results. Research showed that sports romance is having a Moment, which I already knew, and that there’s great potential to sell a lot of books in the sub-genre. But, on the other hand, because romance is so huge and so many authors are already writing sports romance, if you’re just in it for the money, your odds of success are slim because it’s a competitive market. Dashing off a book to cash in on a trend isn’t a sustainable career plan, either. 

Again, I’m not saying great success is not possible, but I think it’s important to recognize how much work a career in romance takes, as opposed to just putting out a book.

Romance is the biggest selling genre of books, no doubt. But because it sells so well, there are a lot of writers publishing it. Writing a romance is not a good way to make a quick buck. Think about how many hours go into writing a novel, for one thing. But more than that, putting a book out is not a guarantee it will sell.

This all sounds rather dreary, but that’s not my intention. I mean, I still daydream about a day when I can write eight hours a day like Nora Roberts without needing income from my other job(s). But I am saying that having a sustainable career requires some forethought and some elbow grease. You can’t just put out a book and expect it to be a bestseller. What you can do is put in some time and work: make your book the best it can be, do some of the work to build your audience, find people to help you along the way. Then when that first book is done, get to work on the next one.

Here’s your task for this month: Who is your favorite romance author? Does she write full time or have another job? How many books has she written? Odds are pretty good she has not just published one book. How long has she been writing? What does she do to promote her books? A lot of this information will be available on the author’s website. (So, for example, my favorite romance author is Suzanne Brockmann. As far as I know, she’s a full-time writer, or at least doesn’t have another job. She’s written about sixty books. Her website says she’s been publishing for twenty years. She’s on Twitter all the time, but she also does a lot of conventions and book signings—I’ve met and fangirled her a half dozen times now—and she’s published by a big house that does a bunch of stuff for her, too.)

Now let all that sink in. To me, sixty books—including a bunch of New York Times bestsellers—is a career. I’m not there yet. I’m working on it, though. I encourage you to do the same.♥

Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America; and as Vice President of RWA/NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at

Friday, January 20, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

by Dee Davis

SUMMARY:  As Celeste Salt struggles to pull herself and her family together, Dillon is called to the scene of a domestic dispute where Dakota is forced to face the truth about her father. While the Johnson’s celebrate a big announcement, Ginny is rushed to the hospital where her baby’s father is finally revealed…