Author Archives: wordsfromtheeditor

A Bit About Gay Men

His Reign Cover

A bit about Gay Men

Why the Homosexual lifestyle populates romance novels

More women today are writing m/m romances, commonly referred to as slash fiction. These women may or may not have grasped the concept of how to write any male, let alone the gay male. The popularity of this trend in erotica has to do with psychology of human sexuality.  Their popularity among the romance novel reading crowd continues to increase.

Gay men seem to be cleaner, know the best party places, best places to shop, how to dress better and attract attention of others without being overly loud and more.

Some speculate that because many gay men have no families to take care of, money is freer, therefore making having a life an actual reality compared to most people.

Reasons for demanding the finer things in life match that of the straight man on many levels. Chances of meeting someone like minded and of the same sexual orientation increase.

Without the demands of family, the gay male is free to live the life he chooses. His income is purely his own.

Gay men network with others.

Terms like top, bottom, versatile, bear, twink, daddy or bubble butt may appear in m/m erotic literature.  These terms are terms used to define them and what they’re looking for in personal ads or in group settings. Gay men as a general seem more open and comfortable labeling themselves in order to attract just what they want. Straight men have a more difficult time with this concept since being direct is a hard thing for many.

Cruising: This is the same thing straight people do, hitting the club/bar scene to find a date.
The top in this sense penetrates anally the bottom, who is the receiver.  Just like with BDSM, there are those who are versatile and love to give and receive anal sex.
Bear: Usually a larger hairy man.
Twink: a boyish looking young man with little body hair.
Bubble Butt: Picture a man with round ass
Pitcher and Catcher refer to positions during sex.
Daddy/son: Often considered a May/December romance but it’s usually an older man/younger man type relationship.

The draw for women towards homoerotic romance novels stems from the act of sex itself.  For women, even in the most romantic setting, sex is a crude invasion of her taking him into her body.  Anal sex simulates that psychology for many gay men.


To learn more about the Male POV, try – Male POV – Creating Better Heroes June 16-22nd at Savvy Authors.


Don’t forget – Jades Heroes: My Specialty in Romance, either!


Sascha Illyvich

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Deep into editing something of my own the last couple of days, I am astounded by my use of that. When editing for others, I pick the single word up when used as filler and stalling in a snap. In my own, phew. My editor highlights the word and my pages look like confetti. How can this be? I am certain that when I speak I don’t use that word that many times no matter how often that seems to fit in. Ummm, confetti time again. Not too sure highlights would show in a blog. In case it doesn’t, how about some samples of how not to use that too many times. We’ll start with the sentence I just used. I am certain when I speak I don’t use the same word so many times no matter how often the particular word seems to fit in. You will notice how often the particular word was simply deleted without hurting the sentence at all. Other times substitutes were used. Of course substitutes lead to other overused words such as it, that horrid undefined pronoun. The is another favorite. To avoid those, often times a complete rewording of the sentence is required.
Using what I’m working as examples:

1. Too much confetti.


The only thing that distracted him from those emotions was curiosity. That did indicate some level of intelligence. That was not, however, her first thought on waking. The sound was continual, and standing on the outside of the bathroom door, she was sure of what it was. Why would he be flushing the toilet time after time?


Much better.


The only thing to distract him from those emotions was curiosity to indicate some level of intelligence. His at least minimal degree of intelligence was not her first thought on waking. The sound was continual, and standing on the outside of the bathroom door, she was sure of what it was. Why would he be flushing the toilet time after time?


2. A couple more:


Following that, she mixed and matched, quizzing him. He didn’t have any problem picking that up and identifying each pair before he held up the pitiful bouquet.

She mixed and matched next, quizzing him. He didn’t have any problem picking either up and identifying each pair before he held up the pitiful bouquet.


    3. One more:


What progress in trust she had made the days before was gone. He was right back to his favorite phrase. That circumstance wasn’t going to make what she wanted to do that day easy. He’d have to trust her to get into the helicopter with her. She hoped that his curiosity would override any fear. She was disappointed.


What progress in trust she had made the days before was gone. He was right back to his favorite phrase, a circumstance to make what she wanted to do more difficult. He’d have to trust her to get into the helicopter with her. She hoped his curiosity would override any fear. She was disappointed.


While fixing the too many that’s keep this in mind also: who instead of that: who refers to a person. That refers to a thing.


Wrong: Judith was the only one that understood he didn’t know that he wasn’t simple. The men in town called him simple; the doctor called him simple. Judith was the only one that understood it was because he didn’t know, but Judith lied to him. There were Madelines, Madelines that hurt him without cause, Madelines that wanted him for milk, for mothers, for breeding.


Right: Judith was the only one who understood he didn’t know and wasn’t simple. The men in town called him simple; the doctor called him simple. Judith was the only one who understood it was because he didn’t know, but Judith lied to him. There were Madelines, Madelines to hurt him without cause, Madelines who wanted him for milk, for mothers, for breeding.


I have come to the conclusion, in the interest of saving time, I will highlight myself, looking for a single four letter word used repeatedly before I send in my manuscripts. I’m sure my editor will love me. A little trick for all of you to learn. Your editors will love you. 


Read it backwards!

Read it backwards.
A couple of years ago I tripped over this trick to editing. I was looking for a detail I wasn’t sure was the same as a previous reference and found an error I had missed I don’t know how many times. I thought how in the world did I miss that? I read more backward, going a paragraph at a time and found some more. Since then I’ve seen many others recommend the same method. Why? The main reason is no matter how many times you’ve read it from front to back, you’re still going to get into the story. Things like a misplaced comma, missing quotation marks, and awkward sentences either go unseen or, in the writer’s mind, make perfect sense. I’ve also found that I catch continuity mistakes that way, though I don’t know why. Personally, I hate going backwards. It’s time consuming, making me read at a slower rate. I do make myself do it at least once and always find something I missed while reading from the beginning. Reading backward increases your ability to concentrate on the words and punctuation, not the story.
Another very simply way to increase your ability to catch punctuation mistakes is to zoom in to about 150%. Commas and periods are so much more visible at that size. To keep your eyes from jumping ahead to the next sentence using a ruler helps some people as well. With a curser, I’ve found anyway, my eyes run ahead of it, not keeping my concentration on a specific line at a time.
Last tip for the day, pay attention to Word’s underlining, green and red. Keep in mind, Word has a limited dictionary, especially with compound words. Many combined words will register as misspelled. To see if you’re right, if they should be combined, hyphenated, or written as two words, a good source is For those who write historical, it also provides an origin to be certain you aren’t using a word that wasn’t used in the time period you have your characters in. As to the green lines, if you don’t understand what word is telling you is wrong with the sentence, play with it, switching the phrases around, adding a comma at the end of a phrase, or make sure it isn’t something as simple as a verb ending in ing instead of ed. When the green line disappears, even if you don’t understand why, it’ll be correct. 😉



You have worked your fingers to the bone. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your manuscript. Finally able to type the words “The End.” Whew! Now pour yourself a glass of wine, sweet tea, or whatever your drink of choice may be and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. Authors know just how much goes into writing a book, telling a good story, creating characters and emotions, everything. It’s amazing and we appreciate all you do.


However, your job is not yet done. I know, I know, what more could we possibly want from you, you’ve given all you have? Well, there is still a process to go through to polish the story and get it in shape for publishing.


As most know, there are many phases to polishing your book and making it beautiful to put into print. Now, this process doesn’t have to be painful and doesn’t have to take months and months if everyone works together. Though it may sometime seem as if editors have it out for authors or intentionally look for problems to delay the release, it just isn’t the case. Editors want your work published and selling well just as much as you do.


So I thought I would mention just a few things that would help expedite the process and make it a little less painful.


*Take a few days away from your book. Celebrate, take a breather, walk away for a bit, then return and do a final read through. I know it’s hard for an author to do a good proof of their own work, this is why we have editors, but there are still items an author can catch and that is one less item for an editor to waste time on and send back to the author.


*Make sure you haven’t gone overboard with dialog tags. If only two characters are in the room, talking to one another, there shouldn’t be “he said” or “she said” after each line of speech. A well-written scene will already make it clear who is talking.


*Use the Find/Replace function in Word to locate filler words and delete as many as possible. Filler words are unnecessary words like had, just, that, up, down

Wrong: She looked up to the sky and said a small prayer

Correct: She looked to the sky and said a small prayer

Wrong: He kneeled down beside the grave

Correct: He kneeled beside the grave


I know it sounds so simple and maybe even a little petty, but this is a true time saver for everyone. The author knows what they want to come across to their audience and how, what their true intentions are – the editor does not, we do our best, but only the author truly knows. Therefore, when an author does a final read through, they are able to catch the little things or address issues they didn’t realize they wrote. Maybe they were distracted that day or had to quit part way through a scene, sometimes when you pick up where you left off you have lost some of your direction or the mindset has changed just enough not to allow the scene to flow properly.


Editors still need to do their job, no doubt. I’m only saying that I have worked with authors who proof their work prior to me receiving and you can tell. I am able to focus more on the story, making sure everything flows, that the emotion, conflict, and resolution is all there. Basically focusing on the meat of the story. When I receive manuscripts that have been quickly typed and immediately submitted, I am unable to focus so much on the story itself because I am distracted with typos, punctuation problems, incorrect use of words (their vs. there). It takes away from making the story the best it can be so it can sell, sell, sell.


When editors have manuscripts that have not been proofed by the author, it takes twice as long to go through the editing process. No one likes to go through the same story 3 or 4 times. One or two rounds of true edits should be sufficient.

~ T. Hayes


WaBoPs (Wandering Body Parts)


One of my favorite examples is: His eyes fell to her cleavage. ~Or~ His eyes dropped to her cleavage.

I’m sure most of you will agree we don’t want our hero’s eyes rolling around in anyone’s cleavage. Unless, of course, you are a horror writer and you like zombies, then you can have his eyes falling/dropping anywhere you’d like.

As for romance, you don’t want your readers envisioning his eyes falling out of his head before a hot sex scene, or even a light make-out scene. His gaze can fall to her cleavage, or even drop to it, but his eyes falling is a scary thought.

Granted, most readers will understand what you mean when you say, his eyes fell or dropped, but the visual readers (those that see exactly what is written) may put your book down if the WaBoPs are numerous. And let’s face it, the more they put it down the less likely they will be to pick it up again. We don’t want that, we want them so into the story they can’t put it down even once.


Here are a few more examples:


The other hand slipped down to caress his thigh. (I instantly think of Thing T. Thing from the Addams Family.) She needs to perform the action: She slipped the other hand down to caress his thigh. Now, if the scene is in his point of view he would feel her other hand slip down and caress his thigh, but that is an entirely different blog article.


His feet raced to the finish line. (Okay, so which foot won?) His feet didn’t actually race to the finish line, he did. The character has to perform the action, not the body part. Without the character, the body part is incapable of motion.


Her eyes flew across the dance floor. Did they grow wings or did she throw them? Her gaze can dart or fly across the room, but not her eyes.


So go forth good writer, let your imagination wander but make sure you keep a firm grasp on where those loose body parts are traveling.

~ Ariana Gaynor

Editorial Director

Secret Cravings Publishing


First impressions

 How important are first impressions to publishers/agents?

Granted the form rejections letters from many publishers and agents send out don’t tell you a thing to help you understand why you were rejected. Some, however, mean exactly what they say—they can’t use what you sent them. Does that always mean your story? Or did they refuse it because of your presentation without reading more than a page? A poor presentation will get you automatically rejected without anyone going to page two. Why? Think about this: if you don’t care enough about your talent to present it in a clean, neat manner, the first message you send is negative. If you aren’t proud enough of your work to make it look good and give it polish, why should they read it?

Here’s a very simple example, you go into a store and on the rack there are two blouses. One has been dropped on the floor and walked on. It’s dirty and wrinkled. Right next to it is one that hasn’t. Which one are you going to try on? You’re the publisher; would you take one you know is going to take extra work when there’s one right beside it he could put on and be ready to go? Provided, of course, that it’s the right color, which takes us to issue number two.

Did you do your homework? Did you surf their website, read and apply what they wanted both in material and presentation? If you don’t care enough to format it the way they request, why would they expect you to do the necessary work to take it to the release stage? Although there really are those out there who feel ‘my story is so good, all that doesn’t matter—once they read it, they’ll know that.’ They aren’t going to read at all if you didn’t follow their requested format. As well as a gauge as to how well you’ll work through the editing process, the primary reason for font, line spacing, and font size are simply to avoid eyestrain. Respect that. Also pay attention to what genre they’re asking for and the specifics. Don’t send them a 150,000 manuscript when they asked for an 80,000. A science fiction isn’t going to be accepted at a house that specializes in historical romances. That was an extreme example, yes, but do pay attention. They post their guidelines for a reason.

Last, but certainly not the least is grammar and punctuation. Just because you’re writing fiction not a text book, those two items do not get tossed out the window, nor will a publisher overlook sloppy, lazy  writing for ‘the magnificent story’ and leave it up to the editing staff to clean it up. Again, if you don’t care enough to do it, why should they? If you don’t know the basics, learn them. Elements of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style are both available for reading online. Take one rule at a time, learn it and apply it. Nothing will turn off a prospective publisher or agent more than a first page loaded with punctuation and grammar errors. Again, that’s usually as far as they will read. Apply the same care, also, to the query letters and synopsis. Those are the first things they read, and they judge your writing ability—and the depth of your commitment—by those.

Show them you care, you’re proud of your work, and have the necessary commitment to follow through to the finish.

This post is courtesy of Larriane Barnard – Secret Cravings Publishing Editor



Hello all!

Welcome to the blog by editors for authors!

This blog is dedicated to the editors out there who try every day to make our stories shine. Trust me when I say we appreciate the hard work and dedication you put into each and every book. We’ll grin and bear every round of edits with a smile. *cough, cough* 🙂

Editors will be posting articles on Monday and Thursday on a variety of subjects from overused words, to passive voice, to flow. Check back often for new and exciting information from the editors on how to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Authors, please remember the editors aren’t there to rip up your story and throw it back at you. They want the story to succeed too. They are paid based on how well your story sells so they have your best interest at heart. Remember how much time and effort they have put into the edits and please don’t cry when your baby comes back to you lit up like a Christmas tree. We’ve all been there. Take a step back, close the manuscript and let it rest for a day or two. You’ll realize the editor doesn’t hate your story, she/he doesn’t want you to totally rewrite it, they are pointing out things you need to look at again. When you see you’ve used “that” 1268 times in a 50 page book, you’ll know you can delete probably 3/4 of those and not lose anything of your story. When the editor says you need to delete 8 of the 10 POV switches you have in your book, trust them to know what they are talking about.

One thing I want to point out because it’s something I think needs to be said. If an editor takes the time to leave a comment about something within your story, don’t just delete the comment because you don’t agree with them. Leave your own comment as to why you don’t feel it should be changed. It’s only common courtesy and it will let the editor know you’ve taken the time to read the comment and think about it.

Okay. I’ll leave you all now to ponder my introductory thoughts and then shake your head. Yes, I know you are. I can see you. o_O

Enjoy the articles and leave comments if you like.

Take it away ladies!

~ Sandy Sullivan