Category Archives: New introduction

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

Website:  Http://

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Say Hello To The Fab Five…

Let me introduce you to…And, It, Was, That, Then.

These can be nasty habits writers overuse in their stories. Some can come to rely on them without even realizing it.

After you’re done creating your work of art, take a few days away from it. Give yourself a break before going through your self-editing round. Then do a search and find for these repeat offenders. Doing this will not only save you and your editor valuable time later, but they will love and remember you for taking the initiative. The goal is to keep these words to a minimum. Shoot for a number as close to your page count as you can.

Now obviously, taking out ‘And’ is not an easy task, especially when nine times out of ten you’re using it in an action sentence. You need to ask yourself if showing this action is truly necessary, then ask yourself if there is another way to say what’s happening, if using the character’s deep point of view would sound better for what you’re trying to say to your reader. The same can be said for the rest of our little villains. See if you can replace the word with something from our helpful friend the Thesaurus, or even if said word is needed at all. 

A good way to remember our repeat offenders is to think of them as a sentence…And it was that then. Keeping them in mind this way, along with a little practice, will keep you from relying on them in the future.

Please don’t forget the occasionally repeated words during this process as well, those words that stick out at you as you’re reading through the self-editing stage. Examples of these words are things like gasped, and/or any item word like table or door in a paragraph, any action a character constantly repeats to the point it’s distracting, and the use of pronouns, etc. The point is to strive to not repeat words but to entertain and keep your reader’s attention. 


Happy writing!


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. 😉


The narrator said what?

We’re exposed to it during every televised sports event: the omnipresent sportscaster relating the every moment of the action we can see plainly onscreen, plus, at times, a little more—exactly what he or she thinks about a player, team, coach or just some random thought going through his or her mind. While this works out just fine for television, in writing it can cause the reader some headaches depending on the chosen POV.

Imagine being enthralled in a great scene and suddenly it’s interrupted by what the narrator actually thinks of it. An omnipotent narrator is the last entity a reader wants to hear from, after all this individual is not supposed to have an opinion; its sole purpose is to describe the scene and the character’s feelings about it. A lively narrator is one thing, one that begins to speak like one of the characters can breed confusion because the reader can mistake it as part of the actual narration. Such commentary can take a reader out of the story and enough of it can make a reader give up on the entire book if they are subjected to an invisible, opinionated voice. One major exception to this is first person.

If you’re the kind of writer that really likes to put yourself in the story, comments and all, then first person is the POV for you. Here you can air your thoughts without them being mistaken as some disembodied being with a bone to pick. There are still general limits to this use, however. First, it has to be kept in context; if the main character is supposed to be a kind, benevolent person his or her inner voice cannot take a turn down crazy lane if he or she is not having a mental breakdown or some other change for the worst (or better). And in line with the first limitation, commentary can be kept in check by writing in a voice you can stand—this means not writing in that benevolent voice is you’d prefer your character have a violent streak. Also, if this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde play is part of your character then make sure your readers know it.

Finally, consistency is important to any narrator POV you decide to go with. The easiest way to cut down on unnecessary commentary is to know the voice you want your narrator to speak in. It sounds simple, yes, but you have to admit there have been situations when you’ve wished you had written in one POV and not another. When it all boils down, if you’ve gone through so much work putting a story together and praying for it to sell, why give someone a reason to wish they hadn’t bought it?

This post courtesy of Keisa Burrell – Secret Cravings Publishing Editor and Proofreader



“Avoid passive verbs” is one of those caveats every writer has heard many times, in just about every “how to write” book, article, and lesson plan on Earth. It’s about as common as “show, don’t tell.” Yet many people remain confused about what this actually means.

A passive verb means that some version of “TO BE” has been appended to the sentence’s main verb. Such as

  • The grass was mowed.
  • The coffee is brewed.

 To make the first two active, you have to change the subject:

  • Joe mowed the grass.
  • Julia brews the coffee.

“Grass” and “coffee” are now the objects. In the first sentences, they were in the nominative case–in other words, they functioned as the subjects. There’s nothing technically wrong with any of these, as long as the writer knows why he or she has chosen a particular subject. For example, maybe it doesn’t matter who did the mowing or the brewing.

Check out these sentences:

  • That night, Inspector Eejit was murdered.
  • That night, an unknown criminal murdered Inspector Eejit.

Only the first is passive, and there is nothing wrong with that sentence…or with the second one either, depending on context. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, a passive sentence is not grammatically incorrect. It simply shifts the focus of the sentence from the SUBJECT to the OBJECT–from the DOER to the DONE-TO, so to speak. Notice that the first sentence makes us visualize Eejit, and the second makes us visualize the criminal (in a shadowed silhouette, perhaps, since we don’t know the identity–that’s the point).

Sometimes passives are awkward:

  • The vase was looked at.

Sometimes they’re used to obscure the doer’s identity on purpose:

  • Mistakes have been made.

Either can be strengthened by a simple reversal of subject and object and dropping the “was” (generally a good idea anyway):

  • A hundred experts looked at the vase. No one could determine its value.
  • The company CEO made mistakes. Hopefully, the new consultant can repair the damage.

In fiction, passives are discouraged because they slow down the action. Yet they are not incorrect, and sometimes, if used sparingly and carefully, they work fine. The trick is to be able to identify them and understand that the reader’s attention will shift according to what the subject of the sentence is.





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


Don’t let simple grammar rules trip up a great story

Sometimes a book cannot wait to be born. The characters are alive inside you and begging to come out. They keep interrupting you no matter what other activity you are engaged in. Ariel and Tyler must be born!

The minute you get the chance you head for your computer and the story just flows out of you. You write and write until their story has been told. You go back and make sure the dialogue isn’t stilted and the sex scenes are steamy. You check that there is just the right amount of conflict and the girl doesn’t get the boy too easily, even though they are a love for the ages.

But did you check to make sure there is a comma before a dialogue tag? That your use of capital letters is not only correct, but that you in fact did use them?

When the story is pouring out of you, it is easy to forget to hit the shift key, remember to use any punctuation, fall into the passive voice trap and sprinkle the manuscript with filler words.

If an editor spends too much time correcting basic grammar, they can miss the bigger picture. There is room for improvement on every story – hard to believe sometimes I know! Getting bogged down in taking out the word “that” and making sure dialogue is written properly as “The bed was cold without you in it,” she said can often cause an editor to fall short of making your story the best it can be.

It can also delay the publishing date if the editor decides she is just going to take the time to do it all. We cannot have readers missing a moment of your wonderful prose!

As an English professor for a community college, I often thought some students were just being lazy. That in the excitement of the “great idea”, they forgot about the grammar rules they learned in elementary school. Now while this may be true of 19 year olds, some of us forty-something writers honestly and truly need a refresher.

Thankfully, the Internet doesn’t lack for good places to help us polish up our grammar. If you like to listen to podcasts while cleaning, exercising, or driving Grammar Grater by Minnesota Public Radio on iTunes is a good one. My favorite to listen to in the car is the Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips also found at iTunes. I like to listen to her when no one else is around as I often find myself laughing out loud! There are many others for all levels, including English as a Second Language. All free.

The Grammar Girl also has a website where in short articles she explains many of the rules that confuse us. A website set up a lot like a grammar book is The site is filled with the basics of grammar and punctuation. If neither of these sites meet your needs, just Google the problem and hundreds of other grammar sites will pop up. Many are run by well known universities.

I tend to confuse myself, especially when writing or editing late at night or early in the morning before a cup of coffee. These few tips help keep me on the straight grammar path! If you are like me, you want your editor to know you can really write and not just tell a good story! While yes, I have trouble editing my own work (I fear what this may actually look like when put up on the blog!), I do not want her to catch the same “lazy” or “silly” mistake over and over. I do know how to use commas and how to write in an active voice.

As tedious as grammar is at times it is what helps readers understand what we are trying to say.

This post is courtesy of Colleen McSpirit– Secret Cravings Publishing Editor



by Lori Paige

One excellent trick I have picked up during my years of writing and editing on the computer is using MS Word’s Highlighting feature to flag and edit lazy sentences—you know, the kind that just lie there on the page, doing nothing productive for either you, your editor, or your story?

Generally, these sentences don’t work because the author has stuffed them with “filler” words like WAS, THAT, IT, THERE, and so on. When I write, I don’t bother to flag these in my first couple of drafts, but by the time my manuscript goes to an editor, I want the prose as crisp as possible. MS Word can quickly highlight these words in different colors to make them easier to seek and destroy.

All you have to do is use the FIND & REPLACE function.* Click it (in the “Edit” menu), type in the offending word, such as “was,” and choose the “MORE” tab on the lower left. Select “FIND WHOLE WORDS” so the program doesn’t flag longer words with these same letters in them (though if it does, no harm done). In the REPLACE box, type “was” again, but choose FORMAT (lower left again). “Highlight” should be the last choice on the menu. The Highlight button itself, found in the main Word menu, allows you to choose different colors for each FIND & REPLACE term. I can use, say, red for “was,” yellow for “it,” green for “that,” and so on (everyone has his or her own pet words that may need flagging).

When the color-coded version comes up, resave your file with a different name (just in case something goes wrong), and challenge yourself to eliminate as many of the highlighted words as you possibly can. This can be a fun little game in and of itself, and can make dull sentences stronger, shorter, and sharper. You will learn to substitute more exciting verbs for the dull “to be” variants, giving your paragraphs movement and hopefully even a poetic sound.

Recently I tried this with one of the authors whose work I was editing. I asked her to contribute her thoughts about the process to the blog, and here is what she had to say:

I recently had my full-length novel, Hunger’s Prey, edited by Lori Page. Since I am a new author, I made what seems like a common mistake for newbie writers. I  didn’t realize it at the time, but I had been addicted to the word ‘was’. Lori had advised me that I overused it throughout my entire novel. Instead of  having to read the whole book to find the offending word or use the Find feature on MS Word, Lori had highlighted every single ‘was’ on my manuscript. This feature helped me tremendously to quickly find the evil “was” word and rephrase the sentence or paragraph. This is a simple, but amazing feature that makes editing easier for the author and a quicker turnaround time to send back the edits to the editor.

-Daisy Dunn, author of THE PORTAL and HUNGER’S PREY for Secret Cravings Publishing


Give it a try! Your novel will sound better, your editor (or your author) will thank you, and best of all, readers will admire your command of the English language and your vivaciously varied vocabulary!

When you’re done, don’t forget to remove any highlights that you couldn’t figure out a way to change (it’s probably not possible to remove them all). Simply choose SELECT ALL on your entire manuscript, click the highlighting button on the Word Menu, and select NO COLOR from the palette. The highlights will no longer be visible on the screen or the page.


*Please note that the above instructions apply to MS WORD 2007—the HELP key can assist those with older or newer versions, though the same basic commands will work in all of them.