Saturday, November 26, 2005

This 'N That

Ain't it purdy? My new blog design is courtesy of Design-A-Blog, and I LOVE it. Gotta love the quick, friendly service at a reasonable price, too.

In other news, I've decided to enter the
Amber Heat Wave contest, in hopes of winning a contract from that invitation-only publisher. The guidelines call for a 5K to 12K word short story, erotic in nature, from any subgenre. I'm trying my hand at a non-paranormal romance for the first time in at least a year--an old-fashioned Gothic set in the Regency period. I'm turning the Gothic formula of "innocent girl trapped in scary, isolated locale with mysterious man" on its ear a bit in this one, as it features a relationship between a compassionate hero whose idealistic nature is in danger of being blighted by the cruel rejection of a bigoted society, and a bitter, slightly-insane heroine with more secrets than are good for her. The whole thing takes place in the heroine's isolated old manor house situated on a wild North Yorkshire moor. Wuthering Heights 2006, anyone? Here's hoping I can finish and submit it by the deadline.

* * *

I caught the Johnny Cash bio-pic, WALK THE LINE, this week, and can highly recommend it. Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenally charismatic and sexy as hell as Cash. He moved me to tears more than once with the depth of his performance. He gives an incredibly realistic portrayal of both the highs and lows of Cash's life.

Reese Witherspoon--whom I generally find annoying--blew me away as his wife, June Carter Cash. I knew next to nothing about the woman upon entering the theatre. By the time I left, I counted her among my heroes.

What impressed me most was the fact that both these actors did all their own singing. I grew up listening to Cash's music, and I can say with some authority that although the Man in Black will never be defeated in terms of song-writing ability and general iconic status, Joaquin has Johnny beat when it comes to carrying a tune.

* * *

Finally, "
Moondance," my first release from, has garnered some nice reviews just lately.

4 STARS from Just Erotic Romance Reviews:
"...'MOONDANCE' is a quick story packed with twists and tension... The characters were interesting and the interactions between Zoey, Lou and Johnny were packed with suspense and did include one steaming hot sex scene."

4 & 1/2 KISSES from Romance Divas:
"Hot and sexy, with scares thrown in for good measure, this book proved to be very erotic... If you want your romance dark and erotic, and you want a story to scare the 'Dickens' out of you, then this is the one for you. Selah March gives the reader 'all that' - an interesting plot, sex hot enough to get bothered over, while delivering the reader a really great horror tale."

STELLAR review from Romance Reviews Today:
"At only 42 pages, 'MOONDANCE' packs quite a punch. Terror and eroticism go hand in hand as Zoey falls into a nightmare she might never awaken from. Of all the short stories in the Shivers line debut, 'MOON DANCE' has that edge of horror that will make readers' pulses pound and send shivers down their spines – read it with the lights on!"

Thanks to all the reviewers, and to all the folks who've sent encouraging words about my very first professional release. We love fan mail. :)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Market? We Doan' Need No Stinkin' Market...

Word has come down from the national offices of the RWA that both the Traditional and Regency categories of the Golden Heart contest did not receive enough entries this year to make them viable. The categories have been cancelled.

Why is this worth blogging? For those of you who haven't the first clue what I'm talking about...

"Traditional" (sometimes also known as "Tender") romances are those stories you'd find if you perused the category romance shelves, rejecting all books that contain suspense, a kick-ass heroine, paranormal elements, or the slightest whiff of onscreen sex. Your basic "girl meets boy, girl and boy confront all the obstacles to their relationship, girl and boy marry or promise to marry in the very near future, often ending in a first embrace." These books are featured in the (soon to be discontinued)
Harlequin Romance line, the Silhouette Romance line and sometimes--but not always--the Harlequin Presents line...they of the Greek Tycoon's Pregnant Virgin Mistress fame.

"Regency" refers to traditional Regency romance--generally shorter than "Regency historicals" and almost without fail relegating any sexual congress to after marriage and behind closed doors. Since Kensington announced the closure of their traditional Regency line,
Signet is the only print publisher currently offering books in this subgenre.

The Golden Heart is the equivalent of the RWA "Oscar" for unpublished writers. Big deal? HUGE deal. This contest alone is the cause of more stress in the chapter ranks each year than all other contests put together. The right to put "Golden Heart finalist" or--saints preserve us--"Golden Heart Winner" on a query or cover letter is something not to be sneezed at, or so the story goes. And, in truth, Golden Heart finalists and winners do snare the attention of editors and agents, and do make sales--perhaps more quickly than they would if they hadn't entered, finaled and/or won this contest.

But the real kicker here Erotic Romance category. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nyet.

That's right. A category for Regency, a subgenre that's all but disappeared from the industry. A category for Traditional, when not even the almighty Harl can keep their original Traditional line afloat. But no category for Erotic Romance, when every house and its sister is starting new erotic lines, begging for manuscripts and selling, selling, selling those puppies like freshly fried donuts at Homecoming Game.

There are those who'll say that if a book is good, it should be able to stand up in any category, no matter how much sex its pages contain. In other words, a good paranormal erotic romance should do well in the Paranormal category, and an excellent contemporary erotic romance should knock the socks off the judges in the Contemporary category. Trouble is, Erotic Romance really IS its own subgenre--it has its own conventions and its own challenges and its own
RWA CHAPTER, let's not forget. It deserves a shot at its own Golden Heart Category...and don't even get me started on the RITA.

If you'll refer to
my post of Wednesday, August 3, you'll see that the subject had been broached with the sitting President at the time at the General Meeting, and was shot down. And it would've been mighty tough for the sitting National Board to have added an Erotic Romance category in the short time since they've taken over the reins, if not downright impossible, so we can't really fault them.

Nobody to blame but last year's Board, and those members who continue to insist that Erotic Romance isn't romance at all, and therefore doesn't deserve a place at the table. I imagine these folks, when confronted with the sales numbers for erotic romance, just put their hands over their ears and rock back and forth, chanting, "I can't HEAR YOU." Because, after all, the RWA doesn't exist as a liaison between writers and the industry, or anything reMOTELY that mercenary. Why in the world do we need to worry about market trends? To quote my excellent friend,
Watcher Don, on the subject:

"...SOME of them have come to the conclusion that different strokes may be for different folks, but they are NOT for OUR folks, heavens no, pass the crumpets, will you, Margaret?"
So here we are. The hottest selling subgenre in romance is shut out of the most prestigious RWA contest for unpublished writers, while two of the contest's categories couldn't even round up TWENTY-FIVE ENTRIES to make them viable.

RWA: The Voice of Romance? Sounds more like a fading echo to me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bloody Saturation

Word on the street is...vampires suck.

Yep. Have it on good authority that romance readers are growing sick-unto-death of old Drac and all the pretenders to his gore-stained throne. Rumor has it they're getting particularly weary of the whole "Alpha-vamp finds soulmate, film at eleven" formula.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying sales by bestselling authors in the subgenre (like Feehan or Knight or Kenyon or Viehl) are falling. But rumblings on message boards and email loops and blogs do tend in the direction of "Vampires? Yawn. SO thirty seconds ago." A new author trying to break in with a bloodsucker had better be churning out some pretty amazing prose. Fresh, new, never-been-done-before, different...but not TOO different, ifyaknowhatImean. Nosferatu need not apply.

Some say werewolves and other shape-shifting types are rushing in to fill the gap. Some say we're about see even more exotic creatures go mainstream. Tentacles, anyone?


On the other claw, there are those who say the vampy subgenre will never die. Like randy historical Scotsmen, the horn-dog bloodsucker with a jones for a pretty, willing victim who then steals his immortal heart is here to stay, baby.

Me? I tend to come down on the "the subgenre just needs a little fresh blood to liven it up, you'll please pardon the pun" side of the argument.

Take, for example, Meljean Brook's novella "Falling For Anthony" in the Berkley Hot Spell anthology. (November 2005, ISBN 0425206157) A new take on the mythology, a new twist on the ins and outs of immortality via fangdom, plus some seriously steam-producing groininess, and a heroine who doesn't simper--not even once. What's not to love?

Now, a person might suggest the reason I'm coming down with both size nines on the side of "Yay, vamps!" is because my own escort to the Bloodsucker's Ball is currently undergoing some stage of the editing process at Phaze, and will likely be released by the end of the month.

Yeah, a person MIGHT suggest that. And a person might even be right.

But what do YOU think? Are you fed up with romantic vampires? Weary of the lovelorn undead? Had enough of the erotic strigoi to last a lifetime and beyond?

Or is there room for more?