Tag Archives: publishing

SEEKING CHRISTMAS with Brenda Maxfield

Welcome Scribers and Readers, PJ Sharon here. I have with me as today’s guest, Brenda Maxfield. Her short story, SEEKING CHRISTMAS hit home with me since neither of my two sons has a relationship with their dad. Brenda Maxfield’s perspective from the minds of teen siblings, Courtney and Dennis, truly reflected how I imagine my sons dealing with this situation. And may I also say, I LOVE this cover!

Blurb for Seeking Christmas (an Ocean Mist short story Two):

Brenda Maxfield-SeekingChristmasCover

The Christmas season has eighteen-year-old Courtney crossing the state line with her little brother Dennis to rendezvous with the man who deserted them years ago. Courtney remembers him only as the tall man who ran away. Dennis doesn’t remember him at all.

Courtney is furious, but Denny is curious. Will their meeting result in a happy Christmas memory or another miserable disappointment?

I asked Brenda what made her write this as a short story. Here’s what she had to say.Take it away Brenda…

Thanks PJ!

My first thought is that “Short Can Be Sweet”. But there was more to my decision than simply wanting to write a short story. Here’s what happened.

Open Call for Submissions: Such musical words of opportunity to any writer’s ears.

Except when such writer is buried deep in her latest work-in-progress and stretched thin between a day job, family, and uh, well, trying to stay sane!

That’s where I found myself a while back when my publisher put out a call for submissions. Sometimes emails are ripped open like paper envelopes showing checks through tiny little windows — and that’s how I opened that one. Yet even while my eyes flew downward over the content, censuring comments such as, “Who are you kidding, Brenda? You’re insane. All you need is another project…” coursed through my mind.

You know how it goes, scolding yourself even as you continue with whatever you were doing. (Hmmm, now I’m thinking about that luscious half-eaten piece of dark chocolate cake. But I digress.) My scolding continued until my eyes landed on the phrase, “Short stories only. No longer than 5,000 words.”

I major perked up. That I could do! That I could find the time for!

I’d never considered short stories as part of my writing career. I love the YA novel, the joy of unfolding a character’s crisis, angst, redemption, and growth over the course of chapters. I didn’t realize the fun of writing a short story: the smaller time frame to completion, the opportunity to give readers a taste of your style, and the possibility for those same readers to get hooked and become fans of your novels.

I did answer that open call and send a short story to my publisher. I’ve also self-pubbed two other short stories. The first was Player, which introduced the characters in Buried Truth. (Writing about two-faced Daniela in Player turned out to be a blast. Oy, I couldn’t stand the girl!) And this season, I’ve released Seeking Christmas, dealing with the aftermath of Cornered, which is releasing in a few weeks.

Christmas in September

I couldn’t bear to let the Christmas season go by without a release. So in September, I started playing with the characters from Cornered in my mind. I wondered what would happen if Courtney heard from her jerk of a dad — the guy who deserted her and disappeared like so much water down the drain years previously. Would she want to see him? Could she swallow her anger long enough to hear him out? And what about her little brother? Would taking Denny to meet the guy result in a disaster? What kind of Christmas would it turn out to be?

The characters wouldn’t stay quiet, yet I knew I didn’t have time to write another full. Thus, the short story Seeking Christmas was born. (It’s @ 8,000 words.)

I loved it. I loved the whole process. We writers are fortunate to have many avenues to get the stories out of our heads and onto the page. Short stories are just one of those ways. I heartily encourage all writers to give them a whirl!

And of course, I’d be totally thrilled if you’d give Seeking Christmas a read. During this season, take a bit of time to curl up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and take a trip with Courtney and her little brother in Seeking Christmas.  I hope you enjoy it!

Seeking Christmas Purchase Links:

Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/ky7oxzu

Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/jvktfxz

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/373439

Ocean Mist Books:  http://brendamaxfield.com/ocean-mist-series.html

Author Bio:

Brenda Maxfield author PhotoMy passion is writing! What could be more delicious than inventing new characters and seeing where they take you?

I’m a teacher so I spend most of my waking hours with young people. I love chatting with them and hearing their views on love and life. My students are magical, and I am honored to be part of their lives.

I’ve lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, I live in Indiana with my husband, Paul. We have two grown children and three precious grandchildren, special delivery from Africa.

When not teaching, I love to hole up in our lake cabin and write — often with a batch of popcorn nearby. (Oh, and did I mention dark chocolate?)

I enjoy getting to know my readers, so feel free to write me at: contact@brendamaxfield.com . Join my newsletter at: http://mad.ly/signups/85744/join. Visit me to learn about all my books and some smart and sassy, clean teen reads: www.brendamaxfield.com  Happy Reading!

Contact Links for Brenda Maxfield:

Website:  http://www.brendamaxfield.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrendaMaxfield

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6570620.Brenda_Maxfield

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BrendaMaxfield

Blog:  http://www.brendamaxfield.wordpress.com

Email:  contact@brendamaxfield.com

Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/psj82bj     

Don’t Miss any News! Join my Newsletter Ganghttp://mad.ly/signups/85744/join

Thanks for joining us today, Brenda! Readers, if you have any questions or comments for Ms. Maxfield, please don’t be shy!

How about you? Do you like to read short stories? Have any favorites you’d like to share? Are you reading any wonderful Christmas stories right now? We’d love to know!

Choosing Your Path

Happy Tuesday, Scribe’s followers. PJ Sharon here, sharing my thoughts on a topic near and dear to my heart—choosing your path. I love being the Captain of my own ship!

My fellow Scribe sister, Sugar, did a great post yesterday on reasons why one should consider pursuing a traditional publishing career. She had some excellent reasons for doing so. You can read about them here. For as many reasons as there are to seek a traditional publishing contract, there are just as many on the side of going Indie (the PC word for self-publishing).

But how does one know which path is right for them? How do you choose your path to publication?

First, let’s happily recognize that there are now many options open to writers for getting their stories into the hands of readers. Up until five or so years ago, that wasn’t the case. A writer had to jump through hoops and pound on a lot of doors, hoping to sneak out of the slush pile and onto the shelves through a series of death defying strokes of luck. If they grew weary of the chase (and the dozens of rejections), they could pay thousands of dollars to have someone publish their work for them and end up with nothing more than a trunk full of books. This soul-sucking practice, called “vanity publishing”, was more or less a scam to bilk writers who were desperate to see their work in print and couldn’t make the cut with traditional publishers for whatever reasons.

For some writers, the reason for rejection was as simple as having their books not “fit the market”. Traditional publishers were in that unique position of having thousands of “applicants” vying for the ten slots they might have available. They were the gate keepers who decided what books got published, where they were distributed, and what types of books readers were likely to buy based on what was currently selling on the market. Those parameters left a lot of amazing writers out in the cold with no way in.

Fast forward to the digital age of Amazon, e-readers, and the new world of publishing. Writers could now bypass the query-go-round, skip fighting for an agent, and jump into the fray with the hundreds of thousands of other writers making their books available to the masses. Yes, there is crap. Yes, there are still poorly edited books that shouldn’t see the light of day, and yes, the market is so saturated that it’s a wonder that anyone can sell more than a single copy of their book these days. But over the past few years, the quality of books being produced by Indie authors have steadily improved as they’ve learned to hire good editors, cover artists, and formatters to help them in producing a competitive product. And the avenues through which to sell those books continues to grow daily.

For those not interested in handling all of the fine details, there are a plethora of small press publishers cropping up to take those chores off the shoulders of the author.
But buyer beware. Anyone attempting to handle their career on their own without the advice of an agent or the backing of a reputable publisher, is in for a bumpy ride with lots of pot holes. I’ve had a few missteps, but have managed to avoid many of the big pitfalls myself by participating in yahoo group loops where Indies congregate and share information. They have been an invaluable resource in navigating the shark infested waters of the publishing world. Honestly, I haven’t seen that small press publishers do much more for authors than they could do for themselves, but if you are looking to get a foot in the traditional publisher’s doors, and don’t want all the responsibilities of creating your masterpiece, a small press might be a good first step.

As Sugar mentioned yesterday, many authors are NOT making buckets of money, whether they are DIY’ers or traditionally published, but there are also many in both camps who make a good living. There seems to be no tried and true way to guarantee success, and I’ve come to the conclusion that success in publishing requires dogged determination, perseverance, and a huge chunk of luck. Timing is everything and no one seems to know what will sell tomorrow or why some of the crap that comes along the pike sells like hotcakes. But one thing is for sure, the doors are open and it’s as good a time as it has ever been to be an author…no matter which path you choose.

If you’re still on the fence, I’ve created this short list of pros and cons that might help you decide.

Traditional Publishing
PROS: See Sugar’s post from yesterday. If you want the name recognition and backing of a reputable publishing house, a support team of editors, cover artists, and marketing professionals, and access to distribution and space on store shelves, this might be the route for you. It can take considerable time and effort to break in, but if you are lucky enough to be a top seller, your path will be paved in gold, the red carpet rolled out for you, and your tiara awaits! Kudos for making the big time!

CONS:  If you know that your story is a tough sell with a traditional publisher, you have a time sensitive topic that needs to be published NOW, or you aren’t willing/able to work to someone else’s deadlines and demands, this might not be a good fit for you. Also consider that negotiating contracts can be tricky and getting the attention of a good agent to help you navigate the process can be daunting. In addition, if you aren’t a top seller, don’t expect a second contract, and your dismissal may mean that it will be tougher to get contracted with another publishing house.

Small Press Publishers
PROS: Generally speaking, it’s somewhat easier to get in the door and you’ll have a faster turn-around time getting your product to market with digital first publishers. They will handle the editing, cover art and formatting for your book, and may even give you some tips for effective marketing…or not.

CONS: Depending on the sales of your e-books, you may never qualify for a print version of your book. And let’s face it, most of us still want to see our books in print and on store shelves. Royalty rates may be higher than larger houses but getting those royalty checks within a reasonable amount of time and having access to your sales numbers is hit or miss. It also seems that small press publishers do very little to help their authors with marketing, (please feel free to let me know if I’m mistaken), which for me would be one of the few incentives to move on over to traditional publishing. The other is the coveted ADVANCE, which you will likely NOT get from a small press publisher. Or if you do, it will be well…small. As it stands, it wouldn’t make sense for someone like me who has established myself in the Indie realm to jump on board with a small press. They really can’t offer me much that I’m not already doing for myself.

Indie Publishing
PROS:
Love those 70% royalty rates! (Even at the 35% royalty rate for lower priced books, I can charge .99 cents and still make more per unit than trad authors whose books sell for $7.99). I can change my price point at any time, update my covers, or change my categories and descriptions on retailer sites, which is enormously helpful when running a sale or promoting my books. Love the control I have over every aspect of my product. Love setting my publication schedule and not worrying about meeting someone else’s deadlines. Love the real time sales numbers so I can easily keep track how my promotional efforts are working…or not. Love the flexibility and freedom!

CONS:
Hate that I don’t have access to mass distribution of print books. Hate that I have upfront costs of a support team, ie: editors, cover artists, etc. and NO ADVANCE. Hate the stigma of being “self-published”, although this is slowly becoming less of an issue and I’m not one to be too concerned about what others think of me, anyway. Hate that I am solely and completely responsible for everything—including writing, producing, and marketing a high quality product that may or may not sell based on a market that is constantly changing.

Hybrid Authors
I have not wrapped my mind around how anyone can do this without being able to write full time. To have multiple projects, deadlines, and demands from more than one publisher as well as self-publishing would make me insane! Fast and prolific writers are doing it every day, and if you’re writing in more than one genre, this makes sense.

For me, the best of both worlds will be when authors and publishers can be on equal footing and work together to create great books and put a system in place to get them into the hands of readers; when authors are paid fairly for their work with contracts that reflect the best interests of BOTH parties, and when marketing becomes a joint effort that takes into account that a “target audience” doesn’t necessarily live in a box.

Then everyone will be happy and there will no longer be “sides” to the issue. Publishing will simply be publishing, and whichever path you choose, it will be the right one for you. You’ll gain the respect you deserve from peers and industry professionals, there will be rainbows and butterflies, and we will all live happily ever after.

What do you think?

Why You Want to be Traditionally Published

During my relatively short time in the publishing industry I have become friendly with quite a few writers. Self published, small press, digital only, and big 5/6 authors. Everybody has to decide what path is best for them. And I make no judgements on which path one chooses. Each path has it’s up and downs and it’s share of hard work, but recently I have seen some authors on social media bashing the hell out of the traditional model. I mean beating it with a big club until it’s bloody and crippled. They have nothing nice to say about it and in turn are convincing hordes of writers that the New York model of publishing is going to die and that they are only out to rip off new authors and take all their money.

That’s not true. New York publishing has gotten the rep that it’s a big soulless, faceless institution that’s only out for itself. Here’s some of the things I keep hearing about it lately.

Myth: You have no control over anything when you publish traditionally.

Fact: You do have control. More than most people think. In the end publishers would cease to exist without writers and they do not want unhappy writers.

Let’s talk about covers.For my very first cover for Dangerous Curves Ahead I thought my heroine was a little too slender. I wasn’t in love with the font for my title and I let them know that. They fixed it immediately. I got the original cover on Friday, but Monday I had a brand new one waiting for me. It’s like that for every step of the process.

Same goes with editing. If I disagree with what my editor says we have a discussion about it. I’ve never had anybody tell me what or how to write. They’ve asked me to do things. Like add a dog into my second book, which I did, but I didn’t have to. I never felt pressured to do it. I’ve worked with two editors so far and having a professional there to have thoughtful conversations about my writing has made me a better writer.

Myth: You have no control over release date.

In some cases that is true. In most actually. But I was contracted for a series. Going in I knew I was going to have a book come out every six months. I happen to write fairly quickly so that wasn’t going to be a problem for me. But I know other authors who have their releases scheduled nine months to a year apart because they need the time. Your publisher will work with you. Of course if you miss your mutually agreed upon deadlines there will be consequences just like any other job. No you won’t get to pick your exact release date but for most of us that isn’t a problem.

The only thing I really don’t have any control over is price point. But keep in mind just because you can price a book at $2.99 doesn’t mean it’s going to sell better than books priced at $7.99. Especially if it’s not a well written book. Readers are no longer going to excuse poorly edited books. I have found that if people really love an author they don’t care how much their newest release costs. If people really love a book they’ll tell their friends.

Myth: Most writers won’t make a lot of money with the traditional model.

Fact: That’s BS. You can make money. You can make buckets of money. And if you want to know the truth most writers aren’t making buckets of money no matter which way they choose to publish. For every Amanda Hocking there are two thousand Ms. Mary Nobodys out there. Yes, it takes a long long time for your advances to come in and most big publishers only pay royalties twice a year. And if that just doesn’t sit right with you then find another way to bring your books to the world.But the great thing about advances is that you get money up front! I got paid for books I hadn’t written yet.

But if you are going into writing solely for the money you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to have some kind of love for it or I believe you’ll never truly be successful at it.

Myth: Print books are going to die.

I highly doubt this. In my first five days of sales I sold TWICE as many print books as I did digital. And not on Amazon either. People are still buying books at bookstores and drugstores and supermarkets. A reader told me she found my book in an airport. Libraries buy books. Print is still powerful. There are soooo many ebooks out there. So many new authors that readers become inundated. I can spend hours on Amazon searching through books by new to me authors and not buy one because I simply don’t want to spend money (no matter how little it is) on a book that might disappoint me. Other readers are the same way, much more likely to try a new author if they see their book sitting on the shelf, if they get to hold in their hands and feel the pages beneath their fingers.

So let’s recap.

REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO BE TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED

1. You have a team behind you. Editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, proofreading, publicity is all done for you. I don’t care how great of a marketer you think you are having a team behind you to help you is awesome. (Really, I’m not sure how self pubbers find time to get ALL that stuff done on their own and work. I have a hard time keeping up with a team.)

2. You can make money. Large stupid amounts of money. Ask Nora Roberts.

3. You do have control. I’m a control freak and I have never once felt stifled by my publishers.

3. You can see your book in the bookstore and at the airport and in CVS and Walmart and Stop and Shop. And that right there is better than all the ads and blog tours in the world.

4. Publisher parties. Harlequin throws a damn good party. And there’s free booze and dancing romance writers. And socks! I love my pink Harlequin socks.

So there are my reasons why being traditionally published is pretty cool. If it’s not for you then it’s not for you. Just don’t go around bashing it.

Write for Joy

Thea Devine today, urging you to take a time out from all the industry turmoil, questions, opinions, critiques, disappointments, marketing questions, publicity plans, and opportunities, and just sit down and write something for the pure joy of it.

Write something you want to write exactly the way you envision it and want to write it. Don’t think about editors, critique groups, beta readers, marketing requirements, anything. Just write.

Write the way you used to write before the idea of publications was even a gleam in your eye.

Write what interests you. I believe with all my heart that what interests me will interest the reader. You see that when there’s a wave of books centering on the same elements: babies, vampires, billionaires, surviving a dystopian future.

Writing for joy doesn’t require any critiquing except your own. Guard what you’ve written with all that’s within you. And you must not only like what you write, you must LOVE what you write.

If you love what you’re write, your conviction and the love shine through. A reader can tell. So write for joy because you’re a reader and there’s a story you want to tell that you would want to read.

I love what I write, every single word, even the mss that have been rejected, even things I wrote years ago.

Write for joy because it’s so liberating.

Write for joy because there’s no one standing over your shoulder saying, “you can’t.” You absolutely can.

Write for joy to reconnect with why you love to write in the first place.

And most of all, write for joy because — you can.

Have you ever written for joy? Just for you? Did you love it? Was it different? The same? Did you let go more than you thought you would?

Thea Devine is the author of more than two dozen erotic romances. She’s currently at work on a contemporary erotic romance and happy for the reissue of five of her early backlist titles in Kindle editions.

Imposter Syndrome

Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. If you have a moment, please stop by my blog. I’m hosting another Goodreads giveaway to celebrate the paperback release of The Undead Space Initiative.

Lighthouse, Stonington CT In case you hadn’t yet heard the news, Mystic Storm will be published in 2013. And while this is my third published novel, I still feel like a giant imposter.

Like someone is going to single me out and yell – “Fake! Fraud! She’s not a real writer!”

I know that sounds totally ridiculous but I know I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way. I have heard an established NY Times bestselling author admit to having the same feeling – that no matter how many novels you write and sell that this one might be your last.

That you will never, ever write anything “good” again. Your career will be over!! You’ll be a “has been”, the equivalent of a dried up old spinster.

Eek! What’s a writer to do? Well, for starters, it’s time for a reality check.

By the power invested in me I say to you –  You’re a writer. A real, honest to goodness writer. Doesn’t matter if you’re unpublished, published big, published small, self-published, or any variation in between. If you’re dedicated to the craft of storytelling and you are actively putting words on a page, you’re a writer.

Feel better?

If not, and you’re still fretting,consider this:

1. Ignorance is bliss. Remember back in the early days of writing before you knew any of the “rules”? When it was a thrill just to type those words on the page and “publication” was some far off dream on a distant shore? If you find yourself traveling down the road of uncertainty, hark back to that earlier time. Too many “rules” equals zero fun. Ditch’em. Be that dreamer again. The completion of one book doesn’t mean you’re doomed to never write another good story again.

2. There are many paths to publication. Readers don’t care who published your novel. All they want are well-written, entertaining stories. I know I don’t go looking for books based on who published them. I just want to read something good and judge accordingly.

3. Tell the Doubt Monster to shut his (or her) gob. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, consider it a form of self-doubt. Cut it out.

And finally, square your shoulders, hold your head up high and be proud of your accomplishments (no matter how big or small they are that day, week or month).

Now say it with me – “I am writer, hear me roar!”

Time for the truth – who else has had imposter syndrome? And what are your suggestions for combatting it?

Fight for Your Goals, Live for Your Dreams

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

UndeadSpaceInitiative_400Now that I’m plotting my next book, I’ve been thinking about my writing career a bit. As a rule, I don’t think too much about where I see myself in the future.

Probably a bad thing, but I’m a worrier by nature and I’m trying to curb the habit by living more in the moment. That means learning to accept the things I can control and letting go of the things that I can’t.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become published is that there is a lot more pressure (often not self-imposed) to promote the heck out of your books and/or yourself. I admit that I have promoted myself through social media, blog tours, paid ads, ect.

And for the most part, I’ve resented all the time it’s taken away from my writing. I am one of those people who subscribes to the belief that the best marketing tool is your next book. Yet, I got sucked into the promotional vortex and paid the price by only completing two books last year (and one of them two days before X-Mas!).

I know writers who would kill to finish two books in a year, but for me, I wanted three. Maybe this year, I will meet that goal.

Before I go further, there is a difference between a goal and a dream. A dream is something out of your hands (like winning the lottery, making the NY Times Bestseller list, going to Mars).

Hope Springs
Fake movie theater – Stonington Point, CT

While a goal, is something you can achieve through your own actions. Want to be on the NY Times Bestseller list?  First, realize this is a dream and not in your control. But what you can do, is control yourself by writing the best books you can. You can continue to learn the craft of writing so readers, when they do discover you, want to read more of your books. If you’ve been spinning your wheels on the same book for years, time to think about changing focus.

If you want to be on the NY Times list, you’ll also need to recognize one simple fact – you can’t make anyone buy your book. Remember, dreams are outside your control.

Not sure which is a dream and which is an achievable goal?

Dream: win a RITA (or other award) Goal: learn skill ___ to improve writing. Take a class, read a book on craft, find a mentor (wash, rinse, repeat) Goal: submit published novel (or unpublished manuscript) to contests (again, you can’t control if you win, but you can use it as a learning experience to improve your writing.)

Dream: become rich and/or famous with your writing Goal: complete a novel in 2013 or

Goal: submit polished novel to agent or editor or pursue indie publishing.

Filming - Hope Springs - Stonington Point, CT
Filming – Hope Springs – Stonington Point, CT

Dream: sell X number of books. Goal: schedule an appearance at your local bookstore or library.(Remember, you can’t make people buy your books but you can make a favorable impression.) Goal: write your next novel and stop worrying about sales.

Now before you raise your arm and shout “Blasphemy!”, consider this – Do you let other people tell you what to buy? If I followed you around a store, chanting, “buy my book, buy my book!”, you’d call security. Then you’d probably never buy anything of mine ever again because I was obnoxious and rude. Not to mention, no one likes other people telling them how to think.

Hopefully, you’re sensing a theme: you can control your time, your output, your quality and yourself.

So, no matter how much control we writers have over our work these days, some things haven’t changed. Readers want to discover good books and they will find you eventually. As my fellow Scribe PJ says of a writing career, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In the meantime, here is my goal for 2013: head down, write more, learn more, and be considerate to others. Always!

Share and share alike. What has your experience been? What strategies do you use to fight for your goals?

Let’s Have That Sex Talk

Thea Devine today, talking sex.  Or writing sex, actually, based on a talk I gave at the NJRWA meeting this month.

I’ve been writing erotic romance for nearly all my writing career.  I don’t plot and plan all the sexual compass points.  I have an idea of something I want to do, like, oh say, nipple rings, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever started a book knowing just when and where I’d use something like that.  It all comes organically out of the plot and conflicts, and that’s overlaid by other things, like my watching an HBO show one night with a belly dancer and those rings, and thinking, after a week of walking around with my arms crossed over my breasts, what if the rings weren’t pierced, what if they hung there. Just so.  Just so you feel them.  Where could I use that?

As it happened, I was writing Beyond Desire at the time and the heroine was in a harem, and there were all these bare breasts and …  Beyond Desire was the first historical romance that RT reviewed as erotic romance.  That was 1993.

It didn’t cause even a ripple in the industry.  But in 1999 Kensington books shook up mainstream publishing when it released Captivated, a trade paperback anthology of steamy novellas. And they put the words “tales of erotic romance” on the cover.

Nobody fainted.  And the book blasted onto USAToday in about thirty seconds.  Fascinated, the follow-up, blew out of the stores and onto USAToday as well, proving — obviously — that women will pay for sex.

Erotic was suddenly the next new thing.

Then recently, for the last two years or so, there’s been a pull-back on the assumption that readers were going to the internet for erotic content because — why? more privacy, more variety, more tailored-to-the-taste choices, easier access, e-readers.

And then came 50 Shades of Grey , and erotic was suddenly the next new thing.

So what about erotic romance as a platform for you?  Can you write erotic romance?  There are editors who believe that authors who write it can’t NOT write it, that it’s absolutely integral to the way some authors write.

If you’re wondering what your husband will say, your mom, your sister, your minister, if you think people will wonder what goes on in your bedroom — then maybe erotic romance is not for you.

I never had those qualms.  I’ve written explicitly from the get-go, right from that scene in my first book where, as I’ve recounted elsewhere, I had the cornered heroine put her hand between the hero’s legs.  In that scene, I found my erotic philosophical footing — that adversarial relationship which gives a just-can’t-help-themselves edge to the sex and the story.

But when I first started out, in 1987, I couldn’t use four letter words, or proper terms for body parts.  We used none of those one syllable hard hitting hard-core words you would expect when writing a sexually explicit book.  .

Try to describe something which is essentially indescribable:  I mean, how do you describe a kiss?  And orgasm?  A man’s touch?  How do you do that without relying on those time-tested sex words?  There’s no language for it.  Yet we could — by using plain old every day household words to write about sex from a woman’s point of view.

I think that was extraordinary and a revolution all on its own.

Now, when nothing is off the table,  you can be as over the top as you want or care to get.

Is anything goes right for you?  How far are you willing to go?

I essentially write erotic male/female relationships, with the heroine and the hero constantly wresting for control, tons of sex, and a happy, or cusp of happy, ending.

My own guidelines from day one were:  no negative visual images (she isn’t on fire;  he doesn’t impale her with his molten rod). He doesn’t hurt her (he can, emotionally).  She has some control.  Sex is consensual (no matter what’s going on).

But you could push even further — orgies, male/male, triads, foursomes, bestiality, hard core bondage/domination/punishment, corset discipline …  There’s a place for all of it now, and readers for every taste, from graphic and raw to sweet and super romantic..  Only you can decide where to draw the line on how far you’ll go.

A guest at a conference once asked me how much of what I write is really me. That’s a question to strike full-blown terror in a writer’s heart. I really had to think about it.  And truthfully, in the end, some of it.  Not everything.  But that scary thought is huge barrier to some authors to actually put themselves “out there” that nakedly in fiction.  I mean, what if someone thought all of that sex toy play was all about you?  Was it?

If you have constraints but you want to write erotic, why not try?  It’s you and your computer screen.  No one ever has to see it if you don’t want them to.  You can let yourself go — or you can say NO — and delete before things go too far.

But if you really love to write explicit romance, write those scenes as if your characters are Adam and Eve and they just discovered sex — and you did too.

I have to confess I have been asked to tone things down a couple of times.  Once I was told there was too much semen in a particular novella.  Really, people, can there ever be too much semen — in fiction or in life?

You could view erotic romance as a love letter to men — or as a sex act in and of itself (lots of foreplay, climaxes and reader satisfaction).  It’s safe sex, and the best fun in the world.  And if you choose to play, I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.

Can we talk?  Do you write, or want to write, erotic romance?  What are your boundaries? What won’t you do?  What won’t you read?  How far can an author go with you?

Thea Devine is nearly done with Beyond The Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart.  She is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance and the USAToday best-selling author of 25 historical and contemporary erotic romance novels and a dozen novella. She is looking forward to the reissue of His Little Black Book next month.