Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Erotic romance doesn't seem to be what it used to be ...

I have been reading erotic romance for more than seven years. I actually discovered the romance genre as a whole thanks to erotic romance. Granted I always had romantic tendencies i.e. I used to write romantic stories for my little sister to read when I was in my teens, and I loved "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre", as well as "Rebecca" as much for the story as for the romantic elements... I just had not realized it yet.

When I first started reading erotic romance the stories were all shorter than a standard print book. Many were also pretty "light" on the plot/characterization department, yet I never had issues feeling the romance in them. Of course, I liked that they had so much explicit and hawt sex. Everything was fine until one day I realized that a story I had just finished reading for review had "too much sex". Say WHAT?

I have to say I never thought I would feel that way about an erotic romance. It never crossed my mind at all. From that point forward, the number of stories I found were "too much about the sex" kept increasing exponentially, and that is when I started wondering why: was it me being picky, was the writing style too heavy on the sex, was the publisher changing its "house rules" or flat out sucking in a big way as it pertained to their editors, was it something else.

Shortly after my realization that there could be the perception of "too much sex" in an erotic romance, I started mentioning it to some friends and fellow reviewers of the genre. That's when I discovered that I was not the only one having the issue with an increasing number of erotic romance books. Talking about the subject with them, I also noticed that we went through the same phases: from the "discovery" phase, when everything we got our hands on was WOW, to the "burnout" phase in which the number of titles that we found to be satisfying kept decreasing. I now call that initial "wow" reaction from newcomers to the genre as the "titillation phase".

I think that, initially, people who discover erotic romance go through the "titillation phase". They are readers of romance that had been thirsting for graphic sex in their reading material (and by graphic sex I mean MORE than what can be found on mainstream romance), and they didn't find it until they stumbled on one of the epublishers that specializes on the genre. This phase, however, seems to wear off for many of us fans the more erotic romance we read. That certainly has been the case for me and most of my friends that read this genre.

Once this novelty/titillation factor wanes, we get into the biggest issue for most veteran fans of erotic romance: the seemingly “too much sex-too little plot syndrome.” Yup, ironic isn't it? But erotic romance is supposed to be about the sex after all, right? Well, the answer for many of us is a big NO. In the online circles in which I move, readers demand at least a semblance of a romantic plot and characterization in an erotic book to actually call it a romance. A cursory "I love you" at the end of the story is simply not enough or satisfying enough for a veteran reader looking for a good read unless, of course, all the reader is seeking from her read is sex for the sake of sex. However, even if the book has a lot of sex more than anything else, the "I love you" has to feel real to the reader for the reader to feel "satisfied" with the story. And that is the bottomline: reader satisfaction.

As I see it, I don't think most erotic romances today have more or less sex than their predecessors. However, there are a lot erotic romance titles available and several of the large print houses introduced erotic romance imprints to their lines over the past several years. Add to that the differences as to how each publishing house interprets the words "erotic romance", and the choices out there are many and quite different between one another, even though they all use the tag "erotic romance". Though many argue that there is an audience for all interpretations, fact remains that the market is pretty full, the economy is shot, readers are reaching their "reading maturity" on this genre, meaning that they now know the differences and there is no novelty factor to take into consideration any longer. Readers tend to start looking more for a story and characterization the further they read into the genre. Many start outright skipping sex scenes as well.

In short, I think the epublishers should start taking into consideration the "reading maturity" of their audience and improve on the quality of their product i.e. make sure that what they call erotic romance has an actual story and characterization to match. If they don't, some of them will start losing their reader base. It may not be noticeable at first, but in the long run, it could end up seriously affecting them. After all, a solid reader base is what keeps a publisher in business, particularly with the economy as shot as it is.

Monday, March 29, 2010


As I was doing my rounds on Facebook, I found this little gem while reading the wall of one of my favorite authors. One word comes to mind: PRICELESS. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thought process is all over the place

I started writing a blog post ... and then the thing started growing and growing in all sorts of directions.  Now I have 2 blog posts saved, both incomplete ... and I suspect I may end up with yet a third post ... argh!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

List of reviews published in our March 7, 2010 issue of the newsletter

I am aiming at posting a list of our published reviews every month, once they are uploaded to our website. Following is the list of reviews published in our March 7, 2010 issue, and yes, they are uploaded to the website:

A Date With Mr. Wonderful: Lavender Lace 2 by Lynn LaFleur
Afterthought by Cat Kane
Bait: Angler 1 by Annie Nicholas
Binding Saber by Jade James
Blood on the Moon by Kelly O'Donnell
Briar Rose by Lila Dubois
Cave Creek Cowboy: Trailer Trash by Brit Blaise
Close Contact: Protective Affairs 3 by Rebecca Airies
Damon's: Blind Date by Sophia Titheniel
Death Sequence: Men of O.D.I.N. 1 by Ann Vremont
Deliciously Wicked: Dimi of the Seven Moons by Jenika Snow
Doing the Right Thing by Barbara Elsborg
Double Dare by Jeanne St.James
Double Your Pleasure by Fran Lee
Eidolon Arms: Vanity's Obsession by Adrianna Dane
Healer's Garden by Nina Pierce
Healing Seduction by Jory Strong
Highland Hijinks: Great Scots! by Sahara Azod
Hostile Takeover by Eve Vaughn & Shara Azod
Impassioned: Mate Marks Cursed 2 by Kate Hill
Iron by P.G. Forte
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Michelle Cary
Jaguar Hunger by Regina Carlysle
Lover's Key by Sherri L. King
Loving Sophia by Jayelle Drewry
Mating Frenzy: Shifting Priorities 4 by Anne Kane
Miami Heat by Savannah Stuart
Obsession of Jayde by Eliza Gayle
Possession by Rosalie Stanton
Punishment and Mercy by Cris Anson
Red Rio Blue by Marianna Lauren
Resurrection: Ishadarian Saga 2 by Alexandra O'Hurley
Ritual Passion by Cathryn Brunet
Roped In: Bondage Ranch by Sindra van Yssel
Scent of Cin by Ella Drake
Sex Games by Cara Carnes
Shadow Hunter by J.C. Wilder
Slipping The Past by D.L. Jackson
Soul of the Wildcat by Devyn Quinn
Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase
The Collector by Melissa Harlow
The Pearl Heartstone by Leila Brown
The Reaper's Seduction by Linda Gayle
The Serpent's Lair by Kaye Sykes
The Sweet Spot by Kimberly Kaye-Terry
Tori's Secret: Wicked Wraiths by Mina Carter
Untamed Hunger: Alpha Colony 1 by Aubrey Ross
Venus Envy by EM Lynley
Watching Amy by Alysha Ellis
Winter of the Beast by Vonna Harper
Yuletide Fire by Nyla Rose

The eternal question: Why do you read reviews?

As I was browsing my copy of Romantic Times magazine (yes, I admit it, I am a subscriber), I started thinking about my habits in reading reviews. I don't review as much as I used to and I tend to go for tested and true favorite authors on the few occasions I do. At the same time, I find myself researching much more in depth before purchasing a book from a new author, this means that I do look for reviews as an additional source of information.

Now, one thing I've discovered about myself is that I don't like to read long reviews of more than 3 or 4 paragraphs. Too detailed reviews are not for me. I am all for conciseness and my style in writing reviews tends to show that. I do read reviews that are all synopsis, though I don't exactly consider them reviews as they don't provide enough of an opinion and often all they offer is a gushing, quotable, two-sentence paragraph. However, those reviews are helpful to me in terms of giving me additional information on what the story is about. I often find that the publishers blurbs are either not too accurate, or are too vague. When I read a review from RT Mag, for example, I do it with the specific intent of finding out more info on what the book is about rather than what the reviewer has to say about it, for the reason I mentioned before. Frankly, a two-sentence opinion is way too short. Telling the readers "I loved this book, it was fantastic" no matter how creatively phrased simply is not enough, from my personal perspective.

I also read reviews at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, however, I do have to clarify that I do not read the reviews from the top rated reviewer in those sites. Why? Well, have you noticed how every single romance book ever published has been reviewed by the top reviewer there and that her reviews are basically saying that each of those books is a masterpiece? Sorry, I may not be a genius, but I am not stupid either. In both sites I go for both the good and the bad reviews from reviewers that don't seem to have an agenda.

A good tested and true source for me are my friends who enjoy romance as much if not more than I do, and I often ask them for their opinions. One of those friends and I are so much alike in taste that sometimes it's scary. I also share the same taste with my younger sister, who is also a fan of romance.

What do you all look for when you read a review? Do you read more than one source or do you have a tested and true place be it blog, review site or bookseller that you consistently use when seeking information on a book that interests you?

About authors/publishers loosing their "cool"

This is something I can't help but feel compelled to comment about.

Though most ordinary review sites and bloggers try to distance themselves from the "snarkier" ones fact remains that on many occasions, we all wish we could sayez it as we seez it. I don't have a problem admitting this, and especially not after looking at the circus acts we witness every week if we dare take a closer look at blogs and forums. Also, the bits of gossip sometimes end up proving to be correct. On the other hand, and as much fun as a snark may be to read and even participate in, fact remains that sometimes they are insulting just because the snarky bloggers feel like being insulting in the name of “honesty” and “free speech.” Frankly, it really is not my thing, even when at times I have agreed with some of what has been said. Simply put, this is all a matter of style and personal preferences. Neither style is right or wrong and that is the gist of it.

Though many seem to believe that we all have to play "nice," fact remains that not playing nice only affects authors and publishers. The rest of us, pffft ... if you are just a reader you can pretty much do whatever you want online. You can get away with essentially anything with zero consequences, unless you are doing something outright illegal that is. An author or a publisher has a lot more to lose than a reader that can just come and go as she pleases and say whatever pops to her mind without a second thought and who doesn't have to answer to anyone but him or herself. A reader's career is not at stake nor is her company, right?

Like in most industries, appearances are everything, and whilst readers in general can pretty much do whatever, an author or publisher should always do their best to appear professional in all dealings with the public … even if a sector of the public seems to do nothing but try and egg people on. That is the nature of the beast, and the sooner authors and publishers understand this, the better it will be for them. I have to admit I have a morbid fascination over the “drama of the week/month”, as it seems we have an incident involving an author and/or publisher every other week … and most times the incident is something that could have died relatively quickly, if people had tried to keep their cool.

Now, as much as it may irk some authors/publishers how some snarks literally blast and crucify and in a very humiliating way in the name of “honesty” and the right to free expression, fact remains that, in the end, and in most cases, the one that is going to end up in a bad spot if he or she reacts is the author or the publisher that becomes the “flavor of the week”. Why? Because author/publisher gets involved, author/publisher is bogged down by emotion, author/publisher replies leaving him or herself open to further snarking nee attack, which in turn becomes the perfect recipe for disaster and gives the muchly hated snarks the fodder they need to become even more popular. See what I am trying to say here? The only thing that would shut a snark blog would be if people outright stopped reading it ... and well, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out when is that going to happen ... can we say when Hell freezes over?

Going to a snarky blog or site in a self-righteous frenzy accomplishes nothing. Bringing in a mob accomplishes even less. In the best case scenario you and your friends risk being banned, some or all of the post may end up disappearing after they are "shared" and very much ridiculed and with added comments to make them juicier. Other tactics that only make the author/publisher look ridiculous: opening counterattack blogs – all anything counterattack does is make people laugh or in the best case scenario, have people shake their heads and wonder “what are these people on”. Others have complained about it in their PUBLIC forums including brandishing insults about the readers in general (that is the ultimate symptom of complete and utter online cluelesness), or emailing about it to people they don't really know with the emails ending up uploaded in very public sites further escalating the situation (a sign of sheer naivete or stupidity, depending on how you look at it). Sad thing is that the only one standing to lose here, and I know I am repeating myself, is the author/publisher. The snarker has absolutely NOTHING to lose. Au contraire, the snarks thrive on this, it’s entertainment after all.

Is this a lose/lose situation? Not necessarily. Learn to sit on your hands and wait it out. When no reaction is forthcoming, they will look for a different “flavor”. The solution can be that simple. If you feel like you can have a calm discussion though, you could try to email the snarker directly and enter into a dialogue with him/her. Who knows, you could even end up starting a cordial relationship with the person in question. They may be snarky, but that does not mean they would not listen, as long as you remain reasonable. Bottomline: going into aggressive counterattack mode backfires more often than not and the more you say in your defense, the more you leave yourself open to further attack.

Bottomline here is that as much as it may hurt to keep quiet when you feel that you are under attack, if you have anything at stake here (your writing/editing/whatever career or your company) the more you try to defend yourself the worse it is bound to get... and the longer it will take for things to calm down. Even if your friends tell you “oh yeah you should defend yourself yadda yadda yadda” … stop and chill out… and more importantly, THINK before you act. If what you want is exposure, and damn the consequences, then by all means, go ahead and do it ... I'll get a seat and bring in my popcorn and a soft drink.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I love talking to myself!

I continue messing around with the settings and layout in this blog. I even bought a Blogger for Dummies guide (sad sad sad...). But I shall prevail, sooner (or later), I'll have this set up properly!

Friday, March 5, 2010

How can people blog so much on a daily basis?

Even now that I am stuck at home, job hunting, I just can't find the energy to blog frequently (by frequently I mean every day or every other day ... heck, even once a week!). It is amazing... and I don't mean this in a bad way. Some bloggers do seem to love to "hear" themselves talk, you know what I mean, however, there are others that obviously just have a passion for blogging on their favorite subject(s). Either way, I don't see myself being a super active blogger, at all. As it is, whenever I think of a topic, it tends to fizzle by the time I sit down to write anything. :P

Monday, March 1, 2010

What is with the ebook "hate"?

I am not talking about big publishers that have their heads well lodged up their you know what ... I am talking here about actual readers. What prompted this post was a Facebook group that I discovered, while I was checking if there was a Facebook group related to the official read an ebook day. The group in question is posted ... get a hold of this ... in the Internet & Technology - Software section of Facebook. It is titled: 1,000,000 strong against anything that resembles an ebook. Their statement: Books should not be placed on an iPod-like machine where all books can be downloaded or uploaded onto a single device where they can be read on a screen. Books need binding and pages and they should have new book smell. Books should not be electronic. End of story.

First of all, the group has a grand total of 39 members. So the 1,000,000 strong seems like wishful thinking... HUGE wishful thinking.

Second, why post that piece of utter ignorance in the Internet and Technology-Software section of Facebook.

Why do some people feel so threatened by books in electronic formats? Despite the fact that technology is changing everything, and the publishing industry has not been spared, I seriously doubt that books in electronic format will substitute printed books any time soon.

I guess it all comes down to the tendency to resist changes of any sort some people have ...