I am so thrilled to invite one of my favourite erotic romance writers, Valerie Mann to my blog today, yay!! Funny, generous and above all, prolific, Valerie was my first introduction to the genre and has kept me hooked ever since.
Take it away, Valerie!
I have to be honest and tell you that I had a good laugh when Rachel asked me to blog about what makes a successful erotic romance story! I’d like to think I know because I’m a super-popular, multi-pubbed author with a huge fan base, wads of cash in the bank and a personal cabana boy at my beck and call.
Alas, this is not the case. About the only thing I have in common with the aforementioned list is I’m an author. Period.
However, I can tell you what I like to read and what I think works for erotic romance readers. And, I always try to keep these things in mind as I write. Sometimes I even like to think I’ve succeeded in delivering! So, here’s my bucket list of must-haves in a successful erotic romance (with fun graphics to drive home the point ‘cause I loves me some colorful pictures!).
1. Likeable Characters. Readers want to like, then fall in love, right along with the hero and heroine. From page one, an author should hook the reader, make her want to know what’s up with these two lovebirds and see how their relationship progresses. If you do it right, you’ll have a cheering squad from page one, rooting for the home team…er… the lovebirds.
2. Sex. Sells. Period. And, if written well, it makes the story that much more enjoyable. But writing sex for the sake of sex is a big turn-off for me. It better make sense and improve the story, otherwise it’s useless. And having the lovebirds shagging as soon as they meet probably isn’t realistic. So, wait until the timing for said shag is appropriate to advance the story.
3. Author Voice. Writers know an author’s voice—her individual writing style—can make or break a story. I write contemporary erotic romance and my voice is fairly urban. Wouldn’t work so well in a Regency historical unless it’s a time travel story, but it works great for my style and genre. Author voice can also create a nice fan base if readers connect well with it. For instance, I adore J.R.Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal series. Her voice is extremely unique, and critical to the success of the ongoing series.
4. Plot. That all-important part of the story that tells the story. If it doesn’t make sense, your reader is, at best, going to have a “huh?” look on her face. At worst, she’s going to send you really mean emails telling you your story sucked. We won’t even discuss what the reviewers will do to it. Bottom line? Make sure your plot doesn’t have holes big enough to drive a tractor-trailer through. Just like sex in your story…it better make sense, right down to the tiniest detail, or your readers will notice.
5. Promotion. Oh, darn! I used another P-word. If an author tells you she actually likes to promote her work, more than likely she’s a liar-liar-pants-on-fire. However, it’s numero uno on the list after the book is released to market and promote. Wait. Back up. It’s important even before that precious book hits the market to promote it. Get its name out there, splash the delicious cover all over your Facebook (please tell me you have one), have a contest, tweet it, Ning it, Spruz it (or whatever your social media site du jour may be), blog your heart out, and make readers anxious to see what the big deal is.
And on that note, I’ll leave you with a short excerpt of my latest WIP, Demon Lover, (to show you my lovebirds are likeable, the sex is appropriate to the scene, my voice is my own, and I’m doing the P-word). Enjoy!
Julia had an eye for details, especially when the details in question waltzed into her bar ten minutes before closing and ordered top-shelf whisky—by the bottle. As soon as she'd walked out of the rear office of her bar, Irregardless, she'd spotted them, watched both men with interest and pleasure. It didn't matter if last call was in a half hour, back-to-back meetings were scheduled for the next day, or she had to meet with her masochistic personal trainer, Sven, at the butt crack of dawn. As long as Hunk One and Hunk Two graced her establishment, she'd stick around.
Settling down on a high stool at the end of the bar, she booted up her laptop and pretended great interest in the payroll spreadsheet in front of her. Sipping dry Riesling, she refused to give away the fact she’d noticed the men, or the way they filled the room with their huge presence. And while Hunk Two had his broad back turned to her, the other man faced her, couldn't keep his eyes off her, his calculating gaze tracking her every movement which totally turned her on, left her edgy as hell and wanting to hightail it over for a meet and greet.
With a few nonsense strokes on the laptop keyboard to kill time, she waited him out to make sure the flirting wasn’t all in her imagination. A quick upward glance in the mirror behind the bar told her it definitely wasn’t one-sided. As though anticipating her visual move, he caught her eye in the polished glass. Her stomach lurched at the hard, sensual gleam.
Enough. Shutting the program down, she waved her head bartender over and lifted her chin toward the alpha males. "Bring me another bottle of whatever they're having, Billy. And one more glass." Fine Scottish Bowmore appeared in seconds, along with one of her favorite Baccarat tumblers. Silky, smooth Steely Dan murmured from hidden speakers as she contemplated what she'd say when she approached the man.
Sliding off the stool, she clutched the bottle in one hand, glass in the other, and strode toward the handsome strangers. Attraction hummed and flared stronger as she drew closer. Edging between the two men, she set the bottle on the wood bar, looked up at Hunk One and tsked, "If we were in junior high, I'd tell you to take a picture. It lasts longer."
Amused, obsidian eyes regarded her while her heart flipped at the sight of him up close and personal. Even sitting on the high stool, he was obviously very tall, his big shoulders, solid chest and muscular legs filling out a black, silk Prada pinstripe beautifully. With short black hair and close-shaven face, he was perfection in a business suit.
Tilting his head, he eyed the nearly-full bottle of single malt at his elbow. In a voice as smooth as the liquor, he replied, "It’s a good thing I'm not in junior high anymore. I take what I want now."
She pondered his accent. Not quite southern, maybe a bit European, but definitely sexy as hell. She watched as he poured two fingers of the whisky into the crystal she'd brought then handed the glass to her. When she grasped it, he curled his hand around hers.
"We'll share," he said, his eyes never leaving hers. Rather than being a complete turn-off, his forward behavior aroused her even more, making her hot and bothered with just a look and a few words. She didn't resist when he lifted the glass to his mouth, their hands still joined. Lips, feather-light, brushed against her fingers and his breath, warm and lightly scented with the whisky, fanned over her. "What's your name?" He sipped again and she stared as he licked a bead of amber liquid from his full lower lip. Everything he did mesmerized her—his intense sexuality generating a brief, erotic vision of hot sex between tangled sheets. She broke out in a sweat.
"Julia." She wondered when he'd let her hand go, hoping it wouldn't be anytime soon. Sensual heat radiated from him, scorching her nerve endings, making her heart pound.
As though sensing her reaction, his mouth twitched. "I’m Darek. And this," he added with a nod toward his companion, "is my brother, Beck."
Copyright 2010 ~ Valerie Mann
Woo-hoo, come to Mama!! Love it!! Valerie writes for The Wild Rose Press, Cobblestone Press & Noble Romance. Please be sure to leave a comment and also join Valerie at her blog at http://valeriemann.blogspot.com/