PRO or PAN? Or Something in Between?

By Liz Everly

I’ve been a professional writer for about 30 years. By definition, I mean someone who gets paid for their writing on a regular basis. I’m a relatively new fiction writer in some regards, in that I’ve only started getting paid for my fiction, oh, let’s say, in the past five years. Much of that money has come from my mystery series. Not from my romances—but we’ll get to that later.

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Cravings

Saffron

I’ve been to MANY writer’s conferences and, in my opinion, the best, both in terms of money and opportunities, is the one held by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). This is an outfit that you have to meet strict criteria to even join. But when you go to their conference, all are treated equally. Every person can go to every session. Every person has a choice of what to do with the time for which they have paid. Let me repeat this: Even if you are not a member, you can go to all of the sessions.

Not so at the RWA National conference. Did you know that?

Within the conference, there are several “retreats” and chapter events. The chapter events and/or parties usually cost you extra. Upwards of $40. Some of the chapter events I would have gone to had I had the money were the Kiss of Death event and the Passionate Ink party. But I didn’t go—no extra funds for either of those events. This conference is one of the most expensive ones I’ve been to, even without all of the extra places you can plunk down even more money.

Such is life.

A couple of the “retreats” are held within the conference— PRO and PAN retreats. PRO is section of the membership that has just been published, or is close to getting published (with a contract), or has finished a novel, with proof of submission to an editor or agent.   In order to qualify for the next level, writers must make $1,000 on ONE BOOK (not a series) of ONLY ROMANCE writing. This is the membership for which I qualify. Because I’ve made under $1,000 on each of my romance books, I don’t qualify for the group I REALLY belong in—which is the PAN group,  the published authors network. ($1000 is a lot for a digital-only title to earn.) Of course PAN had their own “retreat” which was full of information I could have used. I looked over the PRO retreat schedule and knew it wasn’t for me at this point in my career.

I am certain that I’m not the only writer the attended the conference who had this special situation. But people were very surprised when they looked at my badge and saw that I wasn’t PAN. I was on a panel. I’ve published 3 romances with Kensington, one with Tirgearr, and an anthology with Harper Impulse. Plus, there is the mystery series, which most people know me by.

It is what it is.

I always said I was very proud of my ASJA membership because I had to work for it. I totally get having different levels of membership. But to have these sessions at a conference that are closed to people who don’t “qualify”? Shouldn’t it be up to the attendee to make up their mind what they are interested in? What would be the most helpful for them at this point in their careers? Everybody is paying the same fee:  writers are a smart bunch, why not leave it up to them to choose?

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Very Brief RWA Round-Up

By Liz Everly

I have severe “jetlag” from the Romance Writer’s of America National Conference, so I’m not posting my usual witty, utterly fascinating schtick. But I’ve found several interesting write-ups from  other bloggers about the RWA conference hat I thought I’d share.

I LOVE this post from Suleikha Snyder about diversity at RWA.

Here’s a great round-up from Sarah Wendell of the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Another round-up with great observations.

Here’s one I loved because it was a great description of the hotel the conference hotel. Not a good place for this kind of conference, in my humble opinion.

One of the highlights for me was meeting one of my favorite erotic romance writers. Sigh.

Ms. Sylvia Day signing my book!

Ms. Sylvia Day signing my book!

Red Hot and Historical!

By Liz Everly

sparklersRevolution, baby! Let’s celebrate. Happy Independence Day to my American friends!  I welcome all of my international friends to the par-tay!

Today I’ve got a round-up of some smokin’ hot American historicals.

First, I’m celebrating the special price on my own American Historical–TEMPTING WILL McGLASHEN. It’s only .99 cents! Just for this weekend!

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Donna Thorland’s  THE TURNCOAT, is also at a special price for the week–$1.99 for the e-book.

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Check out the trailer:

One of my favorite romance writers, Pamela Clare, wrote three at least three books in that time frame. Maybe more—but this is my favorite.

novel_sweetrelease2Here’s a few more on my reading list:
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Don’t they look interesting? Here’s more!

This is a series. According some of the Amazon reviews, there's definitely sex in them. (Just an FYI, dontchyaknow.)

This is book one of a series. According some of the Amazon reviews, there’s definitely sex in them. (Just an FYI, dontchyaknow.)

Also a series. Check it out.

Also a series. Check it out.

This one looks so good that I, um, already downloaded it.

This one looks so good that I, um, already downloaded it.

There’s a great reading list on Goodreads of Early American romances, if you are interested. And I hope you are. For me, the founding of America is rich territory for all writers, but most especially romance writers. The men and women who forged the U.S were nothing if not a passionate lot.

And passion is what it’s all about.

Cara McKenna—Rockin’ My World

images Okay, so by now you know how I am about my reading. I tend to be hard to please. But when I find a writer I love, I simply must sing praises. It helps when you have a friend who has very similar reading tastes. (I’m looking at you Adriana Anders.) She posted on Facebook that this book, AFTER HOURS, was reduced in price. She also mentioned that, in her opinion, this book is everything an erotic romance should be.

Adriana did me good. Yes, indeed. This book is indeed everything an ER should be, but also, it’s everything a good book should be–McKenna is a masterful writer.  Her character are finely drawn, setting is fascinating and realistic, and the romance, lovely. But the sex??? It sizzles, baby.

So many times, I can’t get through a whole sex scene. We’ve discussed this here, right? How some of us will skip right over the sex scenes. Sometimes I like the first few, then get bored. Sometimes I hate the sex scenes from the get go. Not every writer can write sex scenes. Not even every GOOD writer can write them. It’s an extra gene some writers are born with. Or they have worked extra hard at sex scenes. Maybe it’s a little of both.

This book offers up one of the best sex scenes I’ve ever read. One sex scene is two chapters long–about 40-50 pages. This maneuver would usually bore me. But, I was riveted. I wanted more.

I read it during two very busy days in my life, where things would have gone much more smoothly for me–if I could have put the damn book down. But I couldn’t. No way. That’s how much I loved this book.

This book is a lesson the the best form for erotic romance writers everywhere—and a sheer pleasure for erotic romance readers. It’s on sale still, for .99. Grab it while you can.

Here is the blurb about the book:

A dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man… 

Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.

Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.

What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.

Check it out–I promise you won’t be disappointed. Also, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway for the Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires.

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Click on the cover to hop on over to Goodreads to enter the contest.

In Praise of Italian Men

By Liz Everly

Sometimes I like to ponder the deeper things in life. What is love? What is the meaning of life? And what, just exactly, is the appeal of Italian men? Hmmm?

I grew up in a heavily-Italian populated part of the U.S. The “Sons of Italy” held fish fries on Fridays and were always participants in any kind of community food festival. For me, my love of Italian men might be traced back to my roots. They were so different from the blond, blue-eyed men in my family. (For me, being different from my family was an attractive quality.) They were dark, earthy, passionate men, bound by family and community. Yet, oh, so mysterious to me and very, very, VERY sexy.

I love their classic bone structure and deep-down love of good food. I love Thai food and Indian food and a variety of other kinds of food—but if I had to choose my favorite kind of “ethnic” food, it would be Italian. It tastes like home to me. In truth, so do Italian men.

Wouldn’t you like a bite of this?

Eduardo Verastegui

Eduardo Verastegui

And then there is the accent. Can you just imagine the sweet whisper and sighs between the sheets, punctuated with those sexy accents? Or maybe lovely Italian words “Bella…” (is there a language more beautiful?)

Fabricio Zunino.

Fabricio Zunino

Of course, Italy’s regions all offer up different kinds of food, traditions, and men (I suppose). When I was researching for the sixth installment of EIGHT LAYS AROUND THE WORLD, which is set in Italy, I focused on Tuscany because this is the white truffle region. I loved learning about the highly trained dogs and the methods of finding the very expensive nuggets. (I have a new Pinterest board Truffle Hunting, check it out.) Giovanni, the male character in this story, is a wealthy truffle hunter who is also, um, quite earthy and delicious. He has interesting thoughts about food. Of course.

“We stopped working at about 5 a.m. and I was tired and hungry when we stepped into the kitchen of the villa. The scent of frying butter and something else…earthy, musky wafted. When they sat a platter of it in front me, I nearly fainted from the richness of the butter, dripping off the truffles.

“This is the best way to have them,” Giovanni told me. “You can do all kind of things with them—dress them up, add special sauces, but those of us who know will tell you. Plain. In butter,” he said with butter dripping down his chin. “It’s like sex. If it’s good, you don’t need, um, embellishment.” ”

Italy Cover*

Click on the cover to go to Amazon and purchase for .99.

Another little bit of wisdom from Giovanni:

“We used to talk about food and cooking, You know, Marko used to say that cooking is about control,” he said. “Eating is about submission. He said that people who really enjoy their food are great in bed.”

So there you have it. Sexy-food wisdom from my hunk of a truffle hunter.

This series has been fun for me to write. I’ve learned a lot about other cultures in my research, and had fun creating my multinational cast of men. Two more installments to go in the series. Check out my Italian men Pinterest board. Yowzah. In the mean time, to celebrate the release of “Italy,” I’m offering the first in the series for free until Friday. Enjoy!

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Click to go to Amazon and download this freebie! Just until Friday!

Sexy Armchair Travels

By Liz Everly

I’ve just come back from a conference and am off for a research trip. I’ve been thinking about travel and thought I’d leave you with some of my blog posts about travel or sexy, faraway places. Plus, don’t forget, all three of my books offer exotic locales (Saffron NightsCravings, and Like Honey.) And my serial, “Eight Lays Around the world” is also about a traveler/writer who gets to writes about ALL of her experiences. (Yes, I went there.) Are we sensing a theme here? The next installment of Eight Lays will be set in italy. Stay tuned for that.

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In the mean time, check out some of my “travel” blog posts on Lady Smut. See you next time.

A Little Spanking with my Room Service, Please

 St. Lucia—Beaches, Mountains, and Chocolate

 The Sex and Romance of Place

 Exotic, Erotic Ecuador

Sexy Scotland—Honey, Skeps, and Digging in to Research

My Writer-Girl Crush on Susanna Kearsley

By Liz Everly

Have you ever just fallen so hard for a writer’s work that all you want to do is read ONLY their books? I admit it’s a rarity for me. There have been a few series that I follow, but eventually, I get bored and move on, or I can see a pattern developing in the writer’s work and it’s the same story, but just a retelling of it. Sometimes, it can be very disappointing as a reader when that happens.

So I’ve been reading a lot of Susanna Kearsley. First, I read THE WINTER SEA, an extraordinary book on all counts.

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But the romance? Beautifully written. Yet, I’m not sure I’d even call it a romance book. I’d say it’s a novel with strong romantic elements. Her books don’t have graphic sex in them. But yet, one line can be as sexy and romantic as any line in any erotic romance novel I’ve ever read.

This is how she describes herself on twitter “NYTimes bestselling writer who can’t choose between Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance & Suspense … so I just blend it all together in my novels.”

Does she ever.

And I really have kind of, um, fallen for her.

In THE WINTER SEA, she weaves history, romance, suspense, and a very interesting paranormal  (for the lack of a better word here) thread into this story. Plus, here was a romance arc so skillfully done that it took my breath away. The “paranormal” element was about the way the main character-writer in the story appeared to be channeling memories of an ancestor. I eat up this kind of thing. I can ponder where writers get idea for hours. Sometimes I wonder where I get mine. (But then I ask myself: do I really want to go there? It may be best to NOT look too deeply at it.)

Kearsley’s writing has been compared to both Mary Stewart and Diane Gabaldon. Her obvious love of history, archeology, landscape, romance, with interesting paranormal elements leads me straight to Gabaldon. I just finished another one of Kearsley’s books, which is a time-travel adventure romance—THE ROSE GARDEN, very much in the same vein at Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series.

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But I can also see so much of Mary Stewart in her writing—the atmospheric language, the love of suspense, the sweeping landscapes, and moody skies.

One thing all three writers have in common, no matter where they take their heroines, is that their lead characters are all independent, strong women, not likely to fall in love with the first handsome bloke who looks her way. And they are also not likely to be women who will believe easily that they have fallen through a time-warp, are channeling long-lost ancestors, or in ghosts and psychics. But they are all faced with unexplainable happenings, nonetheless.

I think this is the key to making this kind of fiction work. These women characters are formidable—it they did not have it together, they would not be up for the adventure. These are not the swooning types. (That is not to say, however, that they don’t have wounds.)

In THE SHADOWY HORSES, for example, the main female character is an archeologist, very driven by science and not looking for romance, at all. Of course, she finds it, along with a psychic boy and a ghost haunting the ground she is digging in. This is the kind of material that just sucks me in. It’s when a grounded, normal, every-day, maybe smarter-than-average woman who thinks she’d got parts of life figured out (and she does), confronts things she never imagined existed. Ghosts? Time travel? Channeling an ancestor through your writing? Pshaw.

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You know this is part of why OUTLANDER works so well. Claire is nobody’s fool, right? She’s a nurse, very practical, earthy, and outspoken. Gabaldon has written these characters so well and wrapped the story in such detailed history and descriptions that she pulls whatever skeptics there are among us right into the story. We think, “Okay, maybe, Yeah. This COULD happen.” Okay so even if we don’t quite get that far in our thinking, the story is so good that we don’t care. Fall through a standing stone and landing in Jacobite Scotland? Okay. Slip into a trance-like state and channel your ancestor’s story into your book? Yes, because the characters, the setting, everything else is so believable.

Falling in love with a writer can be frustrating. I’ve picked up several other books while I’m waiting to get Kearsley’s next one. I am stopped dead in my tracks. I can’t do it. Nope. I give up. It’s simply a wave I must ride, enjoying every minute of it, of course. I’m embracing my writer-girl crush. Why fight it, right?

Has this ever happened to you?