Hi friends! So this one is … all on me. Jill Sorenson’s birthday is actually on June 18th. But I think we all know that the tragic shootings at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC took place the night before, so we decided to hold off. Until the next week. I thought we were all well and good until Jill (very politely) emailed me and … I found my gaffe. I’d scheduled it wrong. Alas. Even worse because I think this is a really great post, and ever timely. Enjoy.
Romance Reader Problems
It happens every few months, on average. Someone who doesn’t know much about the romance genre writes an article about romance novels. The tone is mocking, the statements are sweeping and inaccurate, Fifty Shades gets mentioned, there’s an outdated Fabio cover, words like “bodice ripper” and “mommy porn” get thrown around, rinse, repeat. 75% of romance twitter gets mad while the other 25% don’t care/agree with the article/get annoyed at those who got mad. Then we have meta-outrage, outrage fatigue, and counter-outrage. Someone in the comments will post a link to dinosaur erotica as proof of the genre’s stupidity WITHOUT FAIL. Without fail. Continue reading →
I’m back! We’re back! Or, trying to be. And I’m happy to say that kicking it off will be ALBTALBS friend author Jill Sorenson! I really hope you’ll chime in. 🙂
The Dirty Scale: Sexy vs. Erotic
Hello Limecello & friends! I’m a little nervous about my upcoming release. While I was writing Riding Dirty, I wasn’t sure if the story would be erotic or just really sexy. I left it open, letting the heat level develop naturally. I’d plotted the character details and suspense elements, but I hadn’t planned a specific number of sex scenes. I ended up with 6, about 50 pages out of 320, which is roughly 15% of my story. Sexier than my other books, but does it qualify as erotic romance? Let’s discuss.
One of my favorite romance novels is Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun. It’s very sexy. The hero and heroine get in on in the bar parking lot, against a stranger’s truck, shortly after meeting. They continue to have steamy encounters, but the sex is mostly vanilla and I don’t think it’s the primary focus. There’s a lot happening between these characters outside of the bedroom.
Victoria Dahl’s Looking for Trouble is another great example. The hero and heroine have an intensely erotic hookup early in the story. There are several detailed sex scenes with words like pussy, cock and cunt. Is it dirty? Absolutely. Is it an erotic romance? I’m not sure. I think the characters’ emotional journeys and family issues take precedent. The non-sexual moments in the story are just as important, if not more.
In both of these novels, the ways the characters relate to each other sexually is integral to the storyline, but the sex isn’t the main course. Just an extra-yummy dessert.
I’ve heard that an erotic romance won’t make sense if you can take out the sex scenes. I’ve also heard that the sex must be edgy to qualify. Anal, ménage, bdsm—this is the stuff of “real” erotic romance. Some authors insist it’s about language used, not about type of sex or quantity of sex scenes. Cock is ubiquitous in almost all heat levels, but pussy and cunt are seldom seen in the mainstream.
This is RWA’s definition of erotic romance:
Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).
Riding Dirty doesn’t probably qualify as erotic based on quantity. I don’t think it qualifies under the “without the sex, the story falls apart” standard, either. But the language is definitely graphic, and the sex isn’t what I’d call vanilla. Maybe instead of “sexy” (which can mean almost anything) or “erotic” (which indicates a central sexual journey) we can coin a new term for the in-betweeners: Dirty Romance.
What do you think makes an erotic romance? The number of sex scenes, type of sex, language used, sexual journey? Something else?
And since I’m sure you’re dying for more … here’s Jill’s book info 😀
He’s her weapon of choice
Psychologist Mia Richards wants revenge. Her new client, tattooed Cole “Shank” Shepherd, provides the perfect means. She just has to manipulate the felon-turned-informant into eliminating her husband’s killers—members of Cole’s rival motorcycle club. The first step, seducing Cole, is simple. As for walking away before she falls hard—it’s already too late…
Dirty Eleven practically raised Cole, and he plans to double-cross the cops rather than sell them out. But smart, sexy Mia is an irresistible distraction. While she’s evaluating his mind, all he can think about is her body…until he discovers her true intentions. Walking a fine line between desire and betrayal, they’ll have to outrun her past, his enemies and the law for a love that’s dangerously real.
Hello hello hello! It’s Tuesday! And it’s June! When means we have a GA&AG feature! And today I snagged a birthday girl, as you see! Yes! Jill Sorenson is here and she asked for an ALBTALBS author interview. You know the deal.
1. What is one question you always wish as an author people would ask but nobody ever does?
I don’t know! My least favorite question is “Where do you get your ideas?” because it’s hard to explain.
2. What was the first book you remember reading as a kid? What was your favorite childhood book?
I remember reading the Laura Ingalls-Wilder series. Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins was my favorite.
3. If you could switch places with someone for 72 hours, whose life would you want to live?
Another hard one! I don’t want to be anyone else. It would be like cheating.
4. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? How about at a conference or author/reader event?
I fell down a set of stairs at my community college. Conferences are just one embarrassing moment after another. I once asked a pair of sisters if they were mother & daughter. I also told Sherry Thomas I didn’t know what “Luddite” meant.
5. How do you feel about the dentist? What about clowns?
I hate going to the dentist because I feel trapped in the chair. Clowns don’t bother me.
6. What’s the best admonishment your mom ever gave you, or that you’ve ever given a kid? e.g. if you make that face it’ll freeze like that. or… if you walk from the kitchen to the table w/ a fork in your mouth you’ll stab yourself through the throat and die.
This isn’t an admonishment, but I remember my mom telling me that a man who hits a woman once will do it again.
7. What would you put in your ideal candy bar?
Dark chocolate and toffee.
8. What was your first job? Your most interesting one?
My first job was a feeding assistant at a nursing home when I was 14. I’ve had plenty of interesting jobs… veterinary assistant, sports park supervisor, English language development teacher.
9. What is your [secret] plan for world domination?
Write slow, share unpopular opinions, forget to do promo.
10. What are your five most prized possessions?
I really don’t own anything of great value. I treasure my laptop and I like my kindle.
11. Which would you prefer? Never having to tweeze/brow shape for the rest of your life, or not have to cut your fingernails, or toe nails?
I’d rather give up shaving my legs.
12. Imagine you had to take on a warrior from Deadliest Warrior. Who would you fight, and why?
Is there a dance-off warrior? I’ve got some mean dance moves.
13. What author promo has been the most effective for you? What do you think you’ll try next?
I’ll tell you this much: doing nothing is not effective. I might try creating a parody sock puppet account for J.S. Sockenson, Esquire. Anything that involves goofing off on twitter is my kind of promo. Vagina.
Annnd because it’s my birthday bash month. 😀
14. What is something awesome that has to do with the number 2, or 20s. Either something that happened to you in your 20s, a 20th book milestone, etc.
I have two daughters.
15. What’s the best birthday present you’ve ever received? What about the best birthday present you’ve ever given? How would your ideal birthday go?
I’m terrible with gifts! I once gave my husband a guitar book he really wanted that was out of print. My ideal birthday would include some kind of vacation. I’d rather go somewhere than get something.
So everyone, wish Jill a very happy birthday. She also loves the word “vagina” so my challenge is to involve that somehow. Like, “Jill, I hope you have the most vagical birthday ever!” 😉 And also, feel free to ask her any question. The crazier the better. Let’s get her to spill some secrets. 😀
Remember! There are two copies of this book up for grabs! You definitely want your hands on it – there’s been a lot of positive buzz.
Like most Romanceland regulars, I listen to gossip, follow kerfuffles, and read snarky reviews. I’ve never been called a “mean girl” to my face, but as an author who reviews, I might be considered one. Online reviewing is fraught with controversy. I like that about it! Well, sometimes.
I didn’t read Armintrout’s post, so I’m not going to comment on the specifics of it. I’m more interested in the larger issues. Should authors write snarky reviews? Are some reviewing styles off-limits?
Although I love a sharp wit, there is a certain type of review that I try to avoid. It’s the tightly focused, chapter-by-chapter or line-by-line analysis, with extended snark. Here is a recent example from a guest reviewer at Dear Author.
This kind of review falls into tl;dr* territory for me. I’m just not interested in so much detail. There is also an agenda if the reviewer chooses a book for the purpose of ridiculing it. Bad dialogue and ridiculous plot points are highlighted to entertain the audience. Is it fair? Sure. No one can make fun of flaws that aren’t there! But it doesn’t mimic a normal, open-minded reading experience for me. I prefer for snark to come…organically, when a reviewer finds a story they dislike on accident.
I’m not trying to tell reviewers what to do. Many, many readers enjoy this reviewing style. As an author, I’d be flattered to have my book examined in such depth. I think I’d be a good sport about it. As a reader, it’s just not for me.
Would I recommend that authors write reviews like this? No. Again, this is just my opinion, not a call for niceness or an attempt to silence my peers. I love author reviews! Most authors keep it positive and that’s fine by me. Thoughtful criticism is great. Snark-as-entertainment is tougher to get behind. Coming from another author, it can sting more.
Here’s a personal example. I remember how excited I was to see the cover of my first book, Dangerous to Touch. My husband said that the heroine’s dress and jewel placement reminded him of, ah, female anatomy. Not the words he used. Anyway, we laughed together and I hoped no one else would notice. I loved the vibrant colors, and the fact that the hero actually looks Mexican-American. I posted it on an author loop with pride. Someone (I don’t remember who) said: Nice, but why is there snot hanging out of the hero’s nose?
My husband’s comment about ladyparts was hilarious! This fellow author’s joke? Not funny. Not at all.
*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read
And I’m curious. What do you think of all this? Have an opinion? Where is your “line”? And have you caught all the numerous (or even innumerable) kerfluffles since January? It’s been a crazy year for sure!
Hi everyone! So it’s Valentine’s Day again! HVD to all of you! I’ve actually got something somewhat fitting – Jill Sorenson has “changed it up” for us!
Thanks for having me at Teaser Tuesday! My books tend to be dark, dangerous, and angsty, so I thought I’d lighten up a little with a fun, sexy excerpt. I’m not all gloom and doom, I promise. This is from my upcoming release, CAUGHT IN THE ACT. The heroine’s store has been vandalized and the hero is helping her clean up. Enjoy!
As the owner of a flourishing Latin American crafts boutique, Karina Strauss should be basking in her success. Instead she’s worried about her troubled sister, the girlfriend—and prisoner—of drug lord Carlos Moreno. Kari wants no part of that life, but when she helps a friend cross into the United States illegally, two men on opposite sides of the law take notice: Moreno and Adam Cortez, the handsome border protection officer who lets Kari off the hook. It’s not just Kari’s tantalizing flash of skin that catches Adam’s attention—her drug cartel connections bring back the demons of his past.
Moreno demands that Kari smuggle a package for him in exchange for her sister’s freedom. Adam also gets dangerously close, tempting her to surrender and fulfill her wildest desires. As Kari prepares for the drug run, dark secrets, violent criminals, and deadly consequences lurk around every corner. But concern for her sister drives Kari toward a terrifying act, despite Adam’s warnings, despite her overwhelming fears—and despite the odds against coming out alive.
When he set his paint roller down in an empty tray, Kari grabbed a wet sponge from her bucket and threw it at him. It hit the back of his head with a splash.
That wiped the smile off his face. He straightened, staring at her in amazement.
She started giggling, as surprised by the impulsive action as he was. When he picked up the sponge to retaliate, she let out a little shriek, backing away from him. “I was going for your shoulder,” she said, covering her head with her arms.
“You have bad aim.”
He caught her before she could run around the corner, trapping her against the wall while he squeezed the sponge over her head. It was clean, cold water, wetting her hair and shoulders.
She put up a token resistance, sputtering with laughter.
Trying not to get paint on her clothes, she stumbled sideways and almost tripped over the curb. Still laughing, she reached out to steady herself, grabbing his arm. Before she found her balance, the edge of her foot was pierced by a stabbing pain. When she’d swept up the shards of glass, she must have missed one.
She gasped, lifting her injured foot off the ground.
Adam stopped soaking her with the sponge and looked down at her foot, which was already bleeding. “Shit,” he said, chagrined. In the next instant he’d tossed the sponge aside and picked her up, carrying her toward the storage room.
Kari marveled at how easily he handled her weight. The wound was minor, not warranting this level of chivalry, but she made no protest. While blood dripped from her toes, she clung to his shoulders, enjoying the ride.
“Where are the first aid supplies?”
“Bathroom,” she said, pointing.
He sat her down on the edge of the counter and she put her foot in the sink, studying the cut as water rushed over it. She didn’t think it needed stitches. He dried her foot with a clean towel, patting it gingerly. “Jesus, I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You didn’t. The piece of glass did.”
“Well, I feel bad.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m fine.”
He found supplies in the medicine cabinet and bandaged her foot carefully. She started giggling again, picturing the look on his face when she’d thrown the sponge. The corner of his mouth tipped up, and his gaze traveled along her bare legs, taking the scenic route.
She realized that she was sitting on the counter, one knee bent, with her dress hiked up to the tops of her thighs. He hadn’t averted his eyes, either. “Are you trying to look up my skirt, Officer Cortez?”
“It’s Adam,” he reminded her. “And yes.”
She drew in a sharp breath. Although the door was open, the space in the bathroom was cramped, and she couldn’t straighten her knee without brushing it against the front of his jeans.
She was very aware of her body in relation to his. Sensuality hummed between them. Her hair was damp from the dousing he’d given her, tendrils clinging to her neck. The front of her dress was wet, too. Her nipples tightened against the cups of her bra.
For modesty’s sake, she should rearrange her skirt, or cross her arms over her chest. But she didn’t want to. She wanted his hands on her skin and his eyes on her breasts. She longed to feel the buttons of his fly against the cleft of her sex.
Eyes locked on her mouth, he wrapped his hand around her ankle, taking her foot off the top of the sink. Letting her leg slide down the outside of his, he skimmed his fingertips along her calf, hooking his hand behind her knee. She shivered, tingling at the contact. He moved between her splayed thighs, right where she wanted him. She twined her arms around his neck and tilted her head back, giddy with excitement.
Just before his lips touched hers, she caught a flash of movement in the storeroom.
Wasn’t that cute?! You can also read another excerpt here.
Jill has also very kindly offered up a print copy of Tempted by His Target to one lucky commenter. So! What’d you think of the excerpt? Have you read anything by Ms. Sorenson before? Or, what do you think about Valentine’s Day? Love? Hate? Any stand out good or bad memories? Got any plans for the day?
Hey everyone! Please welcome the wonderful Jill Sorenson who is guesting today – she’s got a new book coming out next Tuesday, so she’s here to tell us a bit about it. And it’s really a perfect tie in – you’ll see!
No, not that kind of gang-banging! I’m talking about gangs on the streets, and gang member characters in romance novels.
The first was Simone Elkeles’ YA romance Perfect Chemistry. This book has a dreamy bad boy hero who runs with a tough Chicago gang. The heroine is a cheerleader princess whose life isn’t as perfect as you might think. I’m a sucker for characters from different worlds and cultural backgrounds. I love the cover and the story.
I picked up Perfect Chemistry after writing an outline for The Edge of Night. I’d never read a gang member hero before, and I wanted to make sure my idea wasn’t too similar to hers. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Perfect Chemistry is YA, and high school dynamics play a big role. Although my characters are fairly young, my book is romantic suspense and the plot is very different.
The Edge of Night is about a gang unit police officer on the trail of a killer. Office Noah Young discovers the body of a cocktail waitress in a gang hangout. He interviews the victim’s coworkers and feels an instant connection to April Ortiz, a struggling single mom.
Eric Hernandez, my gang member hero, is the uncle of April’s daughter. He gives April money to help his niece and makes ends meet any way he can. Having been raised by the gang, and grown up on the streets, he’s involved in a lot of criminal activities. But underneath his hard exterior, he’s a good person. When he meets Meghan Young, Noah’s little sister, he realizes that he wants to change his life.
I decided to write about gangs for a couple of reasons. My family moved from a quiet neighborhood in Kansas to a rough, urban area in Oceanside, California when I was twelve. That experience made a huge impression on me. As an adult, I went back to that neighborhood to work with at-risk kids at a community resource center. I learned more Spanish there than I did in college, and I minored in the subject.
When I watch shows like Gangland, or read books with gang member villains, I don’t see the kids I knew reflected in the pages or on the screen. What I notice more often is a caricature, or a picture taken from the outside, looking in. I think Simone Elkeles did a really nice job of getting inside the hero’s head and portraying him (if not all of his choices) in a positive light. I hope I’ve done the same with Eric Hernandez.
I’d love to answer any questions in the comments! Please let me know if you’d like to win a copy of The Edge of Night.
You hear that? A giveaway! Also PW said this book is hot hot hot (actually, they said something else hilarious that might’ve referenced Penthouse? Jill – help me out here?) I’ve already got this book pre-ordered in kindle form, and can’t wait to read it! 😀