Article written by Marilyn Lakewood
For me, it’s all about the hero. That’s why I read romance. Sure, the heroine needs to be likable—someone I can relate to on some level—but the hero needs to be awesome.
I want to be charmed, seduced, and fall in love with (for the duration of the book anyway) a sexy, powerful hero. I want to experience of the rush of his spine-tingling sensuality in every chapter. I want him to be heroic, almost perfect*, and I want him to be willing to give his all for me <ahem> I mean the heroine.
I know it’s all fiction, but those sexy, irresistible heroes win me over every time.
In erotic romance, a good hero can pull the reader into the fantasy and submerge her in high levels of sensual heat at the same time. A good hero can take his girl to new places and new passions—repeatedly, safely, and privately—within the story.
All my favorite stories have alpha males who take charge and sweep the heroine off her proverbial feet and into his bed. These guys are passionate, powerful and sexy. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only romance reader who likes strong alpha heroes.
In romance books there are certain qualities that make a hero attractive to me, and well, heroic. Also included are some traits that take a character off the A-list and put him in supporting roles:
-Honorable, without being narrow-minded (no cheaters, swindlers, etc.)
-Protective, without being controlling.
-Attentive, without being fawning.
-Decisive, without being stubborn.
-Confident, without being conceited.
-Calm, without being indifferent (no raving, screaming, or panic attacks allowed.)
-Intelligent, without being a smart___.
-Adores women, without trying to sleep with all of them.
-Compassionate (no cruel men or bullies.)
-Courageous, without being a victim. (Although he would die for her, I want him to save the girl, and escape with her. Happily ever after, please.)
-Sex appeal. To me, this often intangible quality belongs in both the character and physical categories. After all, without sex appeal there wouldn’t be as much passion, and passion is a key element in romance. Both the hero and heroine usually have sex appeal to kindle the attraction.
-Attractive face, especially eyes and smile.
-Muscled, lean body.
-Dark or light hair, it doesn’t matter, but I like longish hair.
-Well endowed (and skilled in operating their heavy equipment.)
-Nice fitting jeans. Okay, maybe a sophisticated, made-to-measure suit too.
-“Boots (grin).” * This was mentioned in the article below by author Jo Goodman. I think it’s so true! Quite a few leading men wear boots.
So what makes a good hero to you? It’s subjective, yet most women have a set of core characteristics that define a hero.
* Here are thoughts about heroes from other romance authors:
Marilyn Lakewood is our latest UP and Coming author! Diving into Sugar Kink Ink, her debut novel "Chase's Hard Wear" is expected to be released December 2014. This new series revolves around light bondage and BDSM themes that tantalize until you scream! "Chase's Hard Wear" will be the first of three and maybe more in the series.
Marilyn writes stories with hot, alpha males to inspire her during the long Northwest winters. She loves creating XXX romances with protective, hard-lovin' heroes and sexy fantasies.
I have to admit, I like the word PickFu! But I should back up and explain that PickFu is an instant market feedback poll.
For those still scratching their heads on that explanation... PickFu asks YOUR questions to random people for feedback.
Let's say you have two, three or nine titles of your book and you want to pick the best one. You believe a poll would be good so you ask Google about "Polls". That's where PickFu comes in. For $20 you can ask a question to random people and they will tell you which one and why. So if you're having trouble choosing...go to Pickfu and get some results!
Now, I can't understate how important it is to get feedback and not to guess. Twenty smackers might be a lot of money for you. I get it, but this whole exercise is to poll people to give your book the best possible chance of selling. At the very least, (ACTION ITEM) poll your email list, your readers, whoever. Do some research, even if you only go to Lulu's Titlescorer (which is free but you better know your English REALLY well).
Sean Platt of SPP (Self-Publishing Podcast) expressed his disappointment about how the market under-serves writers. But it wasn't marketers that he was disappointed in--it was writers...here's why:
When you try to look for things for writers for marketing, there is nothing there. But it's not because developers are behind the times, it's because writers themselves don't spend money on marketing. Marketers know this so they don't bother creating the tools that would help writers market themselves. In my own attempts to sell books, I've often turned to marketing tools from different types of businesses and apply them to my own business as a writer and publisher. Some work, some don't.
Writers spend so much time writing, honing their craft, that marketing is thought of that necessary evil. What writers forget is that marketing is fun. They forget marketing can extend their creative muscles and bring their book more to life in the real world. They forget that without marketing they don't sell books. Without marketing, they can't live the dream of being a full time writer. A large majority of writers think marketing is bad, it's disgraceful, it's desperate, it's evil.
These writer's forget what marketing really is. Marketing is the ASK. You do not receive without asking. It feels like begging. It's not easy to ask, asking makes you vulnerable. But, if you feel like your words, work and effort are worth nothing, you will get nothing. But if you ask for an exchange, you receive.
Artists are connectors, thinkers and create bonds in the community. How can you think that is worthless? Why is this less important than financial bankers? Why do you have no trust in your readers? Are you thinking no one will come? Have you tried being the communicator, the connector the bond-builder of your community? And if no one comes, while disappointing, might be a clue as to what you need to work on.
Does asking=weakness? I also like to put it this way. If you have a friend that wants to pay for your latte, do you refuse? Look at why you reject your friends generosity. Does it make you feel like a beggar? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel now you have to owe that person?
What about taking a look on the other side. You've just refused your friend the warm fuzzy feeling they get when they help or gift a present to someone. You've just rejected them and their desire to feel good about having the capability to lift you up with a simple gesture. In fact, turning down a gift like that damages their trust because you've just told them I don't trust you enough to be vulnerable.
But, Stephanie, giving a gift from a friend is not the same as asking.
You'd be wrong. It's the same vulnerability. Actually you're more vulnerable because you asked. What if they say no! Some might. Others will give and feel the double fold of being able to help you while receiving a book or CD or a gift from you. People say the things we make are the best gifts. Well, fuck, you wrote the goddam book with your own fucking hands, what more of a hand-made gift do you need??
I'm going to redirect this conversation to Amanda Palmer's TED talk about the ART of ASKING. Because asking is an art form. Asking is not demanding. It's not begging. It's accepting "no" as an answer but also, it's accepting "yes" as an answer as well.
ACTION ITEM: Watch the 13 minute TED talk and you tell me what the ask is all about.
As a publisher, I get queries even though I say I don't accept queries. Truth be told...if you have the balls to write me through my website and ask about publication, I listen. I read those submissions. Because my warnings ward off the non-serious.
I have answered every query given to me and I've asked for submissions too. The amount of writers that drop off communication after I say, "please send me a sample" confounds me. It's like all I have to say is "yes" and then writers scamper everywhere, fleeing the first step to success.
Can someone please tell me why?
If you ask, you shall be answered. But if the goal is to write and then grumble about how publishers don't read email or how publishers just don't get your writing, then don't come here. I do read email and I do publish works I believe in.
You have doubts, I get it. You doubt you're good enough to send your work. You're afraid I'm going to read your work and then red-line it. I know, you're a insecure lot. Sometimes, your manuscript needs work and as much as my encouragement goes unnoticed, you'll probably never hear me say "No". You'll hear me say, "This needs work before publication". But everyone sees that as a no.
Or maybe it's the fact that I advocate self-publishing. I often turn people to it--but I have yet to receive a letter pertaining to a "Thank you Stephanie, I went self-pub and love it! You were right! Self-pub is the way!!" If I had, I wouldn't be wondering why I don't get a response from writers who have the bravado to contact me, but sputter at sending me their work so we can get started in a working relationship.
However, I am a good test to your fortitude. You'll find out a lot about yourself when the agent or publisher says "yes". It's a bit scary but only the brave continue forward. That's a good thing for the rest of the writers who are willing to put themselves out there. Like my warning of not taking queries, it weeds out the less determined.
ACTION ITEM: Take a breath, summon your courage, send me an email and follow the **** up. Send me your MS--you have my email. Use me as a test run to build your courage--because I'm here for you--even if you're not on my author payroll.
Article by ULRIKE
I talk a lot about the Allness of Good in my teachings and writings. A ‘higher good’ that inherently is within all of us, because we stem from the all-good source, our mother/father, Universal Consciousness, which many name God or Higher Power. However, no matter what name you have given this power, the fact remains that we have to learn to use our inner energy in a positive way, before we can hope to change our mental dispositions, personalities, and moods. To reach the 'higher good' takes a rigorous mental housecleaning and an honest approach to allow yourself to open up to life. It takes a willingness to learn and complete dedication. It takes trust.
Blocking your inner energy makes you listless, fearful and tired. To release those old mental blocks you need to allow yourself to take one last look at this past occurrence that caused this blockage, which was nothing than a ton of garbage that you allowed to affect you. Look at this past event, don't dwell on it, just observe it – and then let go of the emotional attachment, your sense of 'it happened to me'. Take yourself out of this self-inflicted bondage. You are not a victim.
Say: 'I am letting go, I do not want any memory of hurt, lack, and despair in my life. I want positive energy only. I am free.'
What is this positive energy? Enthusiasm, love, vitality, vim and vigor, awe of life, are other names for this vital life vibration. 'Looking forward to' a new day or new experience rather than dreading what's coming up. Thoughts of confidence will make you feel strong and vibrant. Open your eyes to the beauty of Nature and a sense of awe will rush through your body, as a response to your mental openness. Stay open when you meet new people, be neutral when you encounter a new experience that you are unfamiliar with, and release blocked up mental energies as part of the process.
Every thought you think sends out energy into the Universe. Some are strong and some are weak, but this vibration or energy will attract or reject the corresponding effect. Positive, energetic thoughts will produce positive and energetic vibrations and help you to open up your mental blockage. This positive force will lift your Spirit to where it belongs - Up!
I like to call our personal vision for our future 'grounded dreams'. They are dreams that have their basis in reality and are built on a firm foundation. Dreams will come true when built on understanding. Like a new house, our mental foundation has to be constructed on solid rock, not on shift sand, in order to last a life time.
Your 'higher good', which is your understanding of truth with its corresponding brilliant effect, will be in reach once you have done your diligent exercise and opened up to Universal Goodness. Allow the Allness of Good to rule your life. Time to practice!
ULRIKE is an inspirational writer/author and metaphysics teacher. She teaches the art of right thinking in a scientific, step by step program, that benefits all areas of your life; health, wealth and most of all happiness...
you can contact her at:
Books on Amazon
In keeping up with my own written stories I look for tools that might help writers collect information, store it and recall it quickly. This weeks Tuesday Tools, I started having a conversation with my amazing life partner about how I could store and keep images, research and bring them up on my computer easily. I recorded our conversation as we sat outside Starbucks sipping on my latte with our dogs for you to listen in! His voice is dreamy and I love listening to him and I know from experience he can use that voice to strip clothes off--but--that's a different topic. Here's his thoughts on Evernote vs. Onenote:
So basically you have a choice between a 3 ring binder and notepads. Onenote is the notebook with different sections. Evernote is the 3 ring binder style. Below he explains more about the features:
ACTION ITEM: What's better for you? Evernote or Onenote?
People talk about pricing for their books as if authors are set and ready with the largest following ever right out of the starting gate.
I cringe when people fling out numbers and data, listening to huge authors blogs and they forget--pricing is a strategy. Take the data and apply what you know. The new free is 99¢ - people don't think about a $2.99 book if they love the author, some readers will never know your books because they won't invest $9.99 in a book. Let's break down pricing in terms of this readers perception so we can go on to strategy. If prices could talk, this is what they would say:
99¢ = I'm a new author (or new to you) and I'd like for you to try my book!
$1.99 = Ignore me, I'm behind the times.
$2.99 = I'm an author you like (or an author everyone in your goodreads group raves about) and you trust me to bring you a good story!
$3.99 = Your a fan and bought the first and second of my series and want more!
$4.99 = Your a HUGE fan and I'm worth it!!
$5.99 = Is this a compilation? Oh wait, no...your my awesomemost favorite author and I just got paid!
$6.99 - $8.99 = The price you wish to pay for any Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Patricia Briggs book.
$9.99 = I am Stephen King.
Yes, I'm exaggerating. It's suppose to be funny. Also, everyone has their own standard of pricing as well. A $2.99 book for some could be the same as the 99¢ "new to me author" price.
However, if prices could talk, it might be obvious which price point to take...the answer is...ALL OF THEM. Have your 99¢ stories to get people to read you, have a $2.99 book to follow that up.
Walk up the price and see how that works for you because you have to know who your audience is. You can also try your new releases at $3.99 or $4.99 if you have a strong following. Make a new release either 99¢ to reward your followers, or maybe gain new ones - or make the new release $4.99 and back it down after a month.
What I would do for a NEW author:
☼ 99¢ two week promotion for true fans/fans who have followed since the first time you blogged about it! Blast that promo!
☼ Raise the price to $2.99 after three weeks because the bitchers will complain about not getting the promo even though you say 2 weeks--so after 3 weeks everybody is happy.
☼ Write another book and churn that puppy out in a month - or as soon as you can.
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Debut author's really need to gain an audience. They need to collect emails and get those people knowing the authors name. If you're floating on their kindle, they'll probably remember you for 2 - 3 months. Make sure you put out another book in the next month to keep your name in the eyes of kindle holders everywhere. Once you have six books out there you are what I would call an established author.
What I would do for an ESTABLISHED author:
☼ Pre-order special of 99¢ - $2.99 for one week.
☼ Once the book goes live up the price to $3.99 - $4.99
☼ After 1 - 6 months or after another release, lower that price to $2.99
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Established authors will blog, tweet and send their fans an email telling about the pre-order special, giving them a boost on release day. Also, say in the description of the book this is a low price for fans available for one week! After a week, raise the price for people cruising around the "also bought", top 100 lists and deals to $3.99 or above. After you release your next book, lower the price of this one to $2.99. There is something psychological about the "new thing" being higher priced but after a while you want your back list to be available to readers who never heard of you before. They will see you have a long catalog and that switch of "oh, this authors is prolific--they must be good..." will go off and the $2.99 (or up) price is justified because you've been around. If you've been around, you must know your stuff :)
ACTION ITEM: Review your pricing strategy and act accordingly.
1. Are you listening to me?!
2. There's something in your--pew!
3. My condolences Mrs. Bruenbacher.
1. They told me the carrots were somewhere around here...
2. Hold still, you've got apple juice right...
3. Oh, yeah, left, left, yeah...
Have a relaxing Easter!
I've recently been pointed to a new publishing platform called YouHeartBooks.
For those who want to be on every platform available known to the internet, here's another! However, I've decided that being on every platform doesn't serve the best investment of my time. I've uploaded books to several different places and while being available on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords with their premium distribution is really good enough for me. I already have a crazy time with accounting. While I want to support readers in where they want their books, I have to weigh risk over investment.
What risk are you talking about Stephanie? You just upload your book once and then reap the payment.
Well, I'll tell you.
1. Pirating: I've found the books I've put on these small sites in the hands of, well, pirates. I'm glad I test these small sites with my own books because I'd have to fight to get those taken down for my authors. Luckily I can shrug, learn, and write the next book. If that happened to one of my authors, I'd be dealing with angry piranha because their books are on the "black market"--which for me is just marketing...and speaking of marketing...
2. Marketing: Usually, I have to drive the marketing effort to these sites i upload to. They don't have the budget or the expertise to drive traffic to their own site much less my book. They are probably thinking that one of these authors on their site will become a Hugh Howie and everyone will buy the book from their tiny site. It happens, but it's a bit backwards thinking. Tell me if I'm wrong... I've thought about the "If that happens, the site will become famous because that authors on their site." No, everyone will go to Amazon and buy the book.
3. Accounting ethics: I do not trust. I just don't. Not publishers. I'm sorry. It's why I became a publisher. I'm clear as glass. Everyone gets a report--a report from Amazon, Kobo, Createspace, and Smashwords. The end. Smaller sites are just an addition to the accounting I love to do. Plus, I really don't know about their accounting and how clear it is. People bitch about Amazon being hard to decipher...well thinking about another accounting system to converge with mine and the others make me shudder. Brrrrr.
ACTION ITEM: Go for it--upload your book to YouHeartBooks and tell me all about it!! Tell me their promotion plans and all that. If it looks good and is trustworthy--I'll join. But if I have to go through another accounting report--I'll wait till I have accountants that do that for me :)
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
Books on Kindle