Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Special Call for Submissions

We're still looking for stories for our upcoming steampunk anth. In the meantime author AJ Bray has a project with Phaze Books for next year:

Call: Straight, GLBT, Vanilla, and Kinky stories of Disabled Sensuality
Edited by: A.J. Bray
Title: TouchAble
Format: E-book, possibly print
Publisher: Phaze Books
Projected release date: mid-June 2010

Passion knows no boundaries. Nothing, not even disability, can bar the way to a hot, sexual interlude if the moment is right, ­and that's what I aim to showcase in the upcoming anthology, TouchAble.

I'm seeking literate, well-written stories of an erotic nature with a central character that has a disability. Wanted are pieces that empower and demonstrate the sensual abilities of those who are mobility, visually, speech, or hearing impaired. Not desired are stories that fetishize or
marginalize individuals in the disabled community or that contain the standard taboos (incest, bestiality, non-consensual sex, snuff, bloodplay, underage sex (even in flashbacks), or anything involving toilet functions).

Special preference will be given to tales crafted by writers with a disability from their own perspective. This is your chance to tell the world what you love, how you love, and who you love.
Deadline: 1 February 2010

Editor receives one-time electronic and print rights to works, and contributor receives a one-time payment of $50 after publication for selected stories, plus one contributor's copy per format (e-book initially, and paperback if chosen for print publication)

To submit stories with fewer than 12,000 words, send them in RTF format to touchablebook (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book News

This just in. Don't Dare the Reaper has been moved up to a mid-September release. If you have enjoyed the Dareville stories, I hope you'll pick up this nice MMF short that introduces a taste of the esoteric to the series.

In the meantime, I'm putting the finishing touches on another unrelated short for free distribution later this summer, to be called Where Angels Dare to Tread. It is the first F/F Dareville story, so if you're interested in the genre I hope you pick it up. You'll meet new townsfolk in this one, and you may see them again in another story sometime soon. I know, I have quite a few stories outlined for the series, it's just a matter of setting down to write.

Speaking of, I finally broke ground on my first non-erotic work in five years. In my earlier life I wrote mystery, and it's been my intent to return to the genre. So far, I've written 2500 words of my next suspense work - I've started and stopped so many times on this one, unable to get a good beginning that compells me to write more. I'm hoping now I hit the right combination. So we'll see how long it will take to complete this project, in between others going on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

If I Seem So Cold...

...when I inform an author that his/her work is not right for Phaze Books, I can assure you it is not intentional. I know not all authors are satisfied with the pat form rejection. As a writer, I don't care much for them myself.

So why do I give them? Time constraints. Honestly, my days are full. I work all day, I work all night. If you saw my schedule you would truly weep, and if I offered it to you for a day you would run screaming. After three years of managing Phaze's interests I continue to develop an eye for what works and what doesn't for us. If a book doesn't work, it doesn't mean I necessarily think the book is badly written. It just might not be right for us.

That said, as much I'd like to offer some guidance, I just don't have time to deliver a detailed critique. An abbreviated one, as I've learned in the past, just might be interpreted incorrectly. I speak from experience, of course.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A word from Authors After Dark - please forward!

Save the date! October 23-25, 2009 - The Authors After Dark Paranormal Weekend is filling up fast! Sign up by August 1st to get the lowest membership rate of $160 for the weekend. (After August 1st, the membership goes to $175.)

The event is being held at the Suffern, NY Holiday Inn, located conveniently about 1 hour from New York City and most of the area’s major airports. Guest include:

Jacquelyn Frank


Joey W. Hill

Stella and Audra Price

Bianca D'Arc

Rosemary Laurey

Jennifer Armintrout

Madeline Oh

Georgia Evans

Mechele Armstrong

Samantha Sommersby

Cat Johnson

Cathy Clamp

Eliza Gayle

Diana Castilleja

Leigh Ellwood

Tilly Greene

Selena Illyria

Adra Steia

Stephanie Julian

Judi Fennell

Kayleigh Jamison

Donna Grant

Robin T. Popp

Linda Mooney


Area attractions include the phenomenal shopping at Woodbury Common and the Forest of Fear, held on the site of the New York State Renaissance Faire at Sterling Forest.

The convention is limited to 200 attendees so your “face time” with your favorite authors is maximized. We’re having loads of panel discussions, parties and a fantabulous dealer’s room. We’ll also be holding a massive charity raffle to benefit the CAN and Pets Alive – a local no kill animal shelter.

Sign up now for the best rates! The conference registration is only $160 until August 1st ($175 after August 1st) and the hotel is $99 per night, double occupancy. Lots to do in the area will make this a weekend you will never forget!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The month in chocolate

Seems like it's been a while since I've done a chocolate related post here. Not for lack of enjoyment - I still nibble once a day, just haven't found the energy to share in written form what I've had of late. I picked up some new additions for The Stash today at Whole Foods, but first a brief survey of what I've had.

I finally finished up the Chocolove 65% dark with crystallized ginger last week - good bar to have around after lunch, especially if you've had something strong that remains with you. The ginger has a good bite to it, even though it tended to make the bar a bit grainy.

Before that, it was a Jer's chocolate and peanut butter bar, which tasted more like one of those Atkins bars than a treat. The Fresh Market by me carries an assortment of Jer's now, and if you happen upon one of these bars please know they tend to melt quickly. If you really, really love the peanut butter, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Last week, while shopping with a friend, I found two new bars from Vosges: a dark organic called Enchanted, with mushrooms (!), and - at last - a dark bacon bar. Mind you, it's only 62%, but I've had a square and so far I prefer it over their milk version. Everytime I mention the bacon bar to people I get weird looks, but I suppose you just have to try it yourself. It brings a fair contract of sweet and salt, and the dark chocolate tastes better in this combination.

Looking forward to trying these I bought today:
  • Theo Organic Cherry and Almond (70%)
  • Sirius (45%) Iclandic chocolate - couldn't pass that up, chocolate from the land of Bjork?
  • Vivani (68%) Dark with Green Tea
Not in one sitting, of course.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Miss McCray needs more Fae!

I hope Cheyenne McCray won't mind my posting this call. Not sure if everybody can access her Facebook notes. If you are interested in taking part in the 2010 Faery Court in Columbus next April, let Chey know. If you can't find her, I'll pass your interest along.

Faery Ball 2010 Information Sheet

In addition to repeated magazine and convention promotion on and offline exposure, the 2009 Faery Ball was included in RT's official online convention video blog, showing the lineup of Faery court members. Also, this year's Faery Ball videos and pictures were broadcast on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. RT and the 2010 convention will provide this as well as additional online and offline promotion exposure for the Faery Court.

To give you an idea of how fabulous of a promotional opportunity this is: if an author takes out a full page color ad for one month in the RT Book Reviews Magazine, the cost is roughly $2300 and that’s a onetime ad. The Faery Court is $1250 and promotion is spread constantly throughout the year!

Romantic Times Booklover's Convention, Columbus, OH

1. Coverage of Faery Ball in the RT Book Reviews Magazine with your photo

2. Coverage in the Official Convention Brochure being published this summer for widespread distribution starting in the fall

3. Full Page on the RT Convention Website (name/bio/ photo)

4. Name in the Convention Program

5. Name in the Faery Ball Program

6. Two book covers shown continuously on large screens, along with the covers of other court members, during Faery Ball.

7. Introduction during Faery Ball

8. One book review in the RT Book Reviews Magazine

9. **Potential* * local coverage of members by media for convention booksigning in Columbus. This is a possibility, not a definite. But we are working hard to make this happen.

9. Exposure on the official RT Faery Court website.

10. Monthly Blog opportunities.

11. Professional photographs for your promotional use as well as for Faery Court online/print promotion.

Cost per court member: $1250

NOTE: A nonrefundable commitment deposit of $500 will be required to join the Faery Court. This payment may be broken down over two months. The first half ($250) will be due on July 15, 2009 and the second half ($250) will be due on August 15, 2009. The remaining $750 can be made in payments over the months leading up to the time of the convention, with the full balance due by January 31, 2010. In addition to this deposit, you will be asked to sign a commitment letter which will explain the terms of the payment agreement for this event.

Also note that each Faery Court member must donate books (or book promo items if no print books are available) for the Faery Ball event to present as attendee giveaways at each table. In the past, some publishers, like EC, St. Martin’s, etc. and others have agreed to donate these books to RT (at no cost to the author), and may agree to do so again for the 2010 event. Usually the donation amount is 30 books, but this may vary depending on convention attendance.

Thank you,

Your 2010 Faery Ball team

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More things that bear repeating

I'd like to share some quotes with you:
"A grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. " - TIME Magazine on Star Wars
"...there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism..." - Pauline Kael on Star Wars
"It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted, and spellbinding...Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the sad saga." - Roger Ebert on Titanic

"...the most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life." - Robert Altman on Titanic
Words are powerful. They can draw so much emotion is so little time. When arranged in certain patterns, they evoke laughter or tears, inspire thought, and change minds. They can also cut deeper than the sharpest blade and leave behind magnificent scars.
If there is anything a writer should know about words, it's how to master them, and not allow them to consume you. This holds true especially for reviews and snark. You look at the above quotes on Titanic, and if I were to ask you what you'd see, perhaps you'd say two differing opinions by two experts. The renowned film critic loved the film, the respected director hated it. We know in which direction popular opinion swayed (It was two months before I could get a seat during the film's first run).
We see two experts telling us what they think, but at the end of the day they are just two men - two out of billions on the planet. You, as a writer, may feel the entire planet gangs up on you in the wake of a bad review or snarky comment, but it's no reason to let those words bother you to the point that you're unable to function.
So Robert Altman hated Titanic. Big deal. The film had the last laugh on him. You might think, well, certainly lots of people hated that movie - but look at the bigger picture (no pun intended). James Cameron still works, Kate Winslet still makes movies, life moves on.
You may also think, my book isn't Titanic. Perhaps not in the greater scheme of things, but isn't it Titanic to you? You put your heart and soul into your work, you should be proud to have accomplished something not many people get to do. Unlike the actual ship, you'll survive the journey if you take control and steel yourself against words designed to harm. Constructive criticism may be absorbed and considered, but snark for the sake of entertainment isn't constructive at all.
Know, too, it's impossible to make everybody in the world happy. I think the day that happens, it will have ended.

- Kathryn Lively

Monday, July 6, 2009

Because some things bear repeating....

I asked a friend the other day if our submissions page appeared too confusing. He said no, it looked concise to him, as far as our needs and wants. Why does it have me worried? It seems lately among potential new authors to our house, I'm getting everything but what is requested on the submissions page.

Now, we are currently working on a new website, but the Phaze logo will remain the same. Underneath our trademark moon are the words Exceptional Erotic Fiction. We publish romance of an erotic flavor, and straight erotic works. Recently I've received in my inbox the following:
  • A young adult novel
  • A memoir
  • Something where all the dialogue was written in a script font
  • A romance novel with ten spelling errors in the first three pages and several punctuation errors
  • Plotless sex
Occasionally I'll see on Twitter or in e-mail lists other editors and agents bemoaning their ill-matched bounty as well, and I wonder, how do they find me? What is on the website that encourages them to submit a work that clearly doesn't match our house? Is there some hidden text on site that sends out some subliminal message. We only want erotic romance, but you should go ahead and submit your haiku narrative about courageous celibate nuns overtaking drug lords in South America, because damn it, THIS is the thing that's going to turn publishing around, and we'd be idiots to pass on it.

Now, if you have written a haiku narrative about super nuns, I congratulate you. Somewhere out there is a publisher waiting for it. Please don't just Google "publishers" and start mailing people willy-nilly. Research before you submit. I can guarantee you that an editor will be more receptive to an author who has followed directions. Who will take you seriously if you submit hard sci-fi to the mystery publisher, and vice-versa?

I wrote the following several months ago. It bears repeating.

Why I Rejected Your Book

I don't like rejecting manuscripts. I'm an author myself, I've felt the disappointment of receiving that thin letter back from the agent/publisher saying thanks but no thanks. In my rejections I try to be as polite as possible, but I don't offer details. This is because I don't want to say one thing and have the author read another, nor do I have time to banter over semantics ("You published XYZ but you won't contract mine?" That sort of thing.). I also don't have time to submit a detailed analysis of our rejection. Sorry.

Nevertheless, duty does call for me to do so at times, and authors still ask, so here are thirteen possibilities as to why I had to regretfully pass on your work. Mind you, eight times out of ten the quality of the work is not a factor. I've passed up on some great works.

1) It's not erotic. Phaze publishes erotic romance and erotica, not inspirational, not young adult. Readers want the naughty bits as often as possible. If I receive a 100K word book where the only sex scene is in the last two paragraphs, and if there's no place to put more, chances are I'll pass.

2) It's not romantic. While we do have a few erotic titles that aren't necessarily HEA, the works had some merit or some element that I thought might appeal to our readership. Overall, however, our readers like the heat and the romance. If I don't find the right balance, and I can't see a way to make the balance, chances are I'll pass.

3) It's plotless smut. I'm at the point where I can tell with some synopses that I'm going to open a work that might as well be titled Dear Penthouse. Works like that do well in certain markets, but they just don't resonate with our readers.

4) It contains one of our taboos. Underage Nazi hero necrophiliacs humping dogs while showering golden on their sisters...ah, no.

5) You used a priest. Sorry. You can take the girl out of the Vatican....yada yada. This is my personal squick, and I just can't let it pass. It's not you, Father, it's me.

6) We've done it already. It came to pass not long ago I had to turn away a nice piece, because we already had two very similar stories. It was a very tough decision to make, and while I'm certain the work was written without knowledge of the previously published works, I had other factors to consider. Now, I might be more accommodating if such a situation happens again, it will depend on the climate.

7) We did it, and it didn't work. We consider most genres of erotic romance. Unfortunately, some genres don't do well as others. This puts me in the awkward position of having to turn away works based on the presumption that we won't see a good ROI on them because of the genre. It's a part of publishing I don't particularly enjoy -- the business end.

8) It's too short. We have a word minimum. We ask authors to acknowledge that. If you send a work under that count we are either going to reject or, if I like it, ask that you lengthen and resubmit.

9) It's poetry. Yes, we do have one title of verse for sale. All in-house authors, just something done for fun. Otherwise, unless you're sending something to Alessia Brio for a Coming Together volume, we will not consider entire poetry books.

10) It's copyright infringement. I miss The X-Files, too, but I'm not publishing your Mulder/Scully humpfest because I don't want to get sued.

11) You didn't format it correctly. I will say this, I'm not the stickler my predecessor was where manuscripts were concerned. If she saw a margin out of place, it was going back. Me, I'm more relaxed, but if I receive a 60K word book done entirely in some cutesy flower script, it's going back.

12) It didn't "click". The catch-all reject. Your work could be extremely well-written. Good characters, good dialog, etc. But there might be something there that I don't think would work for us. Maybe the story didn't excite me, or maybe the sex didn't arouse me. Maybe the work is just too long or too short for the story. In the case of too short, I might send back for a revision. For a work over 150K, I might consider sales potential.

13) Blame it on intuition. Mind you, my intuition isn't always 100%. That's all I have to say about that.

This said, I'll close by saying don't be afraid to ask a publisher or editor to clarify guidelines. Remember, publishers want to read works. Publishers stay in business because of authors; we're not here to feed on egos and gleefully dash hopes. What you have written is very good, it's just a matter of finding the right fit.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bow down before your new Fae Goddess!

Could it be that the Summer of George has been held over through next spring? I wrote earlier of how I am planning my first co-sponsorship at a convention. This week I learned that the premium promo item has arrived safely at the organizer's house and they look great! I can't wait to see what it looks like when I head up to Jersey in August for a signing - I get a sneak preview, having arranged it. Nyah.

This week, I signed on to another major sponsorship - I'll be sitting on the 2010 Faery Ball Court at RT in Columbus! This will be my third full RT (I only did the Saturday signing in Daytona), and I've always wanted to have a hand in some kind of event. I don't quite have the means for a morning social, but I could swing the ball, so why not? I don't know how much I can reveal as far as themes and participants, but it's no secret Cheyenne McCray and Eden Robins put on the big Thursday party. I'll have a nice dress and will provide some goodies. If you read RTBookClub, watch for the continuing coverage on the big night.

I've talked to different authors who have participated in the past to gauge the ROI. It's my hope not only to promote my own work there, but Phaze Books as well. So we'll see how it works out. I'll be featured in the magazine and on the convention websites, and two of my covers will rotate in a slide show at the ball...I just need to decide which books to push. Truth or Dare is my oldest book, though it's the first in my better-selling series. I'd like to have something new ready in time for the con to push. Question is, can I do it in time?

Oh, and I'm a featured interview for July at The Romance Studio. I chat up The Dares That Bind. Check it out.