I’ve been lucky this past year in finding a unique community help me not only gain my confidence but make me a better writer. Even beyond the locked private club, I have a little niche of sisters who do a fine job of posting potential publishing opportunities to help us all in the road to fandom.
So when one of the Pens Sisters posted a call for an erotic romance anthology, I figured why not? It had to be Halloween-themed, as in having otherworldly elements. Demons, witches, vampires…that type of thing.
Now, while I had dabbled in romance and steamy scenes, they were mild compared to what is needed for erotica. Mind you, as I once thought, erotica doesn’t mean using harsher language and being crude. Quite simply, it’s not porn writing. It still needs the elements of romance and that special connection between the two characters.
I needed to see if I could write erotica. Why? Because I enjoy writing most genres and I don’t consider anything off the table. I’ve written horror, suspense, fantasy, romance and science fiction.
Time to dip fingers into something else.
With nothing to do but relax and play footsie with my muse during my vacation, I took up my trusty Gateway laptop and began pounding the keys. Okay, perhaps it wasn’t as easy as that. I needed to have an idea first.
The one thing that came to mind, because I didn’t want to use the triggers on the publisher’s site to make a story, was the old story I had back-burnered because I lost interest—Demon Kin. When I originally wrote it, I had woven romantic elements into it but they weren’t strong by any means. In fact, one of the characters I decided to use a minor player in it. In Demon Kin, Amanda would eventually find a way to help the main character Maurizio learn to love after a lifetime of being stripped of emotions. That part I never wrote.
Another premise, though not openly clear in the unfinished piece, was that souls were what gave us our emotions and once we found the one, a bond was formed whether we willed it or not.
The problem, however, was the piece was way over the limit for the Anthology (5k-10k). Factor in that the other main character in the story—Samantha—would bog down the story worse than an anchor dragging on a runaway ship. I couldn’t just chop it and make it work. I had to rewrite the piece and use elements of what I had written.
My 35k+ story had now become nothing more than research.
I started to write, the urban fantasy elements coming out. Maurizio, half demon and half angel, doing the bidding of Hell because Heaven denies the existence of his kind—the Nikash (look! I found a name I liked!). He plucks the evil souls from the humans he comes across. Okay, I’ve got this…now all I have to do is bring in Amanda, let the sparks fly and…and.
Crap. I froze at that moment. Write about involved hot and steamy sex, giving a bit of description besides emotional feeling? Embarrassment never entered the picture and worrying about someone reading over my shoulder as I wrote wasn’t the problem. My fingers and mind just stumbled and tripped at the thought of getting the train into the station.
What is wrong with me? I gave up my virgin card over (deleted) years ago. I know what feels good so write it… write it now! AHHHH!!
I took a small break to think. It’s a method I’ve used a lot. I grabbed my Kindle and went outside on the deck to clear my mind. I never force my muse into a corner with a rubber nose and vise grips. He doesn’t respond to threats very well.
After a refreshing read in the sun, I set to task again and the words flowed out like butter. Over the course of three days, I wrote 8,500k words. NaNo pace for me. I threw it up to get hacked to pieces but, the summer being as it was, no one had the time to bite. I don’t blame them; they’re busy with their own tidbits and whatnot.
I fretted about the time limit. What if it filled before I submitted? What if I didn’t get it in on time?
My panic gave way to me looking the piece over with a fine toothed comb in three parts. Being on vacation, the interruptions were few. I changed a bit, almost deleted a line, and then decided it needed to stay. I had done all I could to get my baby ready for the shark tank.
The next step, I believe, is harder than writing something. Getting its diving suit stitched just right. Every publisher has different standards of how they want the manuscript sent to them. Reading what they are is an important step, It’s nothing to gloss over because some publishers will kick your baby to the ground and spit out a form letter or ignore you altogether if you don’t abide by their rules.
The standard form is intent, double-spaced, and 12 point Times New Roman font (ugliest font in the world if you ask me). Your last name, the story’s name, and page number should be in the header to the right separated by slashes.
On the first page, have the following: Your Name, Byline (pen name, basically), address, phone number, and email. Off to the right of this should be the approximate word count rounded up or down.
Next, center the name of the piece followed by the author’s name (that’s you!) underneath.
Easy, right? Yep that part is a breeze. It’s when you see the dreaded ‘cover letter’ that I freeze. It’s like a paper due in keyhole format from high school all over again. I hate it and freak out.
I found an easy formula online, however, to help with this. An easy three step process.
First, you have your standard Dear so-and-so. So-and-so should be an editor’s name of the publication—any of them—at the place you’re sending it. Putting the no-name ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is a no-no and to be avoided.
Now for the threesome:
First paragraph should have what you’re offering to them in simple terms:
I am submitting (Name of Your Awesome Manuscript), a/an (type of story-fantasy/romance/derka-derka followed by if it’s a flash/short/novelette etc) for (Publisher’s name of anthology..if it’s not a specific work, just say ‘for your consideration’). It stands complete at approximately (word count) words.
Second paragraph tells them about the story. Keep this from 100 to 150 words. Think of it as a blurb on the back of a book. The hook.
The third paragraph is the tricky one. This is where you name your other (paid) publishing creds. What if you don’t have any? What’s next? For one thing, don’t go babbling about some contest you wrote a story for and won a prize for or the awesome trophy you won in high school while in the Dungeons & Dragons club. They don’t want to know. Trust me on this.
Give it a nice ‘Thank you for your consideration’ and your name again plus email. That’s it.
Painless, right? Nothing is ever painless when it comes to getting published. You wade through a lot of heartache for one morsel of food.
Now back to tossing my baby into the ocean. I did it without a crit (and that scared me because my private site really, really helps me with the little things I miss). Imagine my surprise when I check my email around 24 hours later and find an acceptance for it.
I did a happy dance. I did the Rocky pose. I just…DID IT!
So now I’ll wait for the contract to reach me to, again, look over very carefully before sending it back. I’m sure editing might be involved too. We’ll see.
You know what’s worse than waiting to see if you got rejected or not? Waiting for your baby to be out there for the public to buy.
And that, my friends, is even harder to deal with.
Be looking For Soul Reaver In Evernight Publishing’s Midnight Seduction Anthology.