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Team Talk

Check out the latest updates and discussions from the Team at Total-E-Bound! 

We’re here to discuss everything from; current affairs on books, give editorial tips to authors and even marketing and self-promotion advice from the Marketing, PR and Comms team. 

Feel free to write responses, re-post on Facebook and tweet about what we have to say @totalebound.

We hope you enjoy this new feature - an outlet for further discussions.

Love the TEB Team xx



20th May 2013

RT 2013...Day Five...Book Fair and FAN-Tastic Excuses to Wear a Cocktail Dress


Big GIANT Book Fair. Yes it was! Not sure anything I can write could do it justice, but here are a few pics:


LA Witt/Lauren Gallagher talks to a fan.   

Damon in the utili-kilt.

Marie always dresses so nicely! And you should see the shoes!

Isabelle Drake was so dang cute and had a permanent smile!
The lovely Lynne Connolly and her Brit decor!
I actually left the hotel! Carol Lynne, Ethan Day, Simone Anderson, Suzanne Graham, TA and I made a snap decision, grabbed a couple of cabs, and headed to Hamburger Mary's (during the day! not for the drag show!) for lunch. I had a great Ahi wrap and chili cheese TaTa's (tater tots). I know that sounds like a weird combo, but it was! LOL.



Love the GLBT sandwich…totally stealing that idea!


Saturday was packed with cool stuff, even after the Book Fair. It was both FAN-Tastic Day and Teen Day. To me, that was almost my favourite part—seeing all of the hundreds of young readers so excited and lining up to get books and meet authors. It was very gratifying to see the next generation of readers!

The FAN-Tastic Author event was a free-for-all, really! Stacks upon stacks of free books, authors everywhere, food, raffles. I met some of the authors I remember reading as a young girl when I first started reading romance! In fact, I got an ARC of a new book by Jude Deveraux, who I first read thirty years ago! Wow!


After we hauled our loot back to our rooms and spent some time packing, I wanted to spend some more time with Carol Lynne, who was there but not registered—just hanging out with Ethan. So we went down and sat in the corner table at Spectators (lol) and visited until it was time to say goodbye to them both until GRL this October. *sniff*


Okay, I guess I don't look TOO sad!

No time for the sads! It was the last night, and time for the cocktail party and dance, so I wore…a cocktail dress. Stood to reason. ;)

Yes, I always end up dancing with Damon. Whether alone...

...or with a crowd!!
Marie Sexton and I were twinsies in little black dresses.

And so our evening concluded, and for me, that was the wrap on RT. Nothing left to do but the practical stuff—finish packing, shipping, checking out, checking into the flight and heading home. It's always so hard to say goodbye to everyone. It was an amazing experience to be with so many people who share my passion for books. I know that this is the first of many RTs to come for me!

"Goodbye all, and see you next year at RT 2014 in New Orleans!"





17th May 2013

RT 2013...Day Four...Speed-Pitching, Celeb-Spotting and Freaky Friday


Friday was busy!! It was the last day in Club RT, which by then had become a home away from home...away from home. Friday was also the phenomenon known at Pitch-a-Palooza, basically speed-dating for writers, where acquiring editors and agents from all over are gathered in one place, given one chair in front of them, and aspiring authors get in line with their faves to give them a 3 minute story pitch. And when I say three, I mean it. They had a stopwatch and everything! I was next to and across from NY agents, and that was very interesting, but didn't have much time to watch them since I had people throwing ideas at me left and right. Mostly paranormal for some reason, lol.

It was very cool doing that, and then we got to have more fun and draw the winner of our giveaway. Carolyn Lee, the woman who won, is a grandma from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was sweet as pie. I walked over to the Westin to deliver the prizes and she just kept thanking me and offering me refreshments. :) Loved her!

Loved our giveaway winner, Carolyn Lee!

After that, TA and I went to the one and only panel I hit—Broken Wings, Writing Damaged Characters—led by Amy Lane, ZA Maxfield, Belinda McBride and Kate Pearce. I love them all, but it was especially wonderful to meet Kate, who really inspired me as a writer and I've always credited for my first exposure, so to speak, to the MM genre!


With Kate Pearce...my big fangurl moment!

TA with HER fangurl moment with Amy Lane!

Once we headed back to the elevator, we noticed signs advertising a room party the Whispering Cove series authors had put together. Since it was right down the hall from us, we headed in and got a yummy drink called Sex At My House—Amaretto, raspberry liquor and pineapple juice. Sweet but refreshing. There were a couple dozen people in the room while we were there and we finally figured out that the dark haired woman getting mobbed was actually EL James, the 50 Shades lady. So… Ranae Rose and I went up to meet her and get a pic, right before she had to go to another engagement.


Ranae Rose and I with 50 Shades author EL James.


I later tweeted that I'd had Sex At My House with EL James. Hmm... somehow that didn't quite come out right.

After that we were bored and wandered around to find something to do. LOL! Just kidding! Oh man, there is sooo much to do! I needed ten more of me! We went to Avon's Red Slipper Lounge where the authors were giving away and signing loads of books. I grabbed a couple of YA titles and had them signed to my daughter for gifts. :) I also did an interview there on camera with the folks from RT, so we'll see if they use any of my shot at fame in their video!

We headed back up to, yep, Spectators and gathered as many of the Total-E-Bound authors as we could find for some drinks and nibbles. No photos were taken, but I remember seeing Marie Sexton, Stephani Hecht, Amber Kell, Simone Anderson, Marie Haynes, Daisy Harris, Suzanne Graham and TA.

Heather Graham's Freaky Friday party was next. I'd been forewarned that it was a good night to be late to the event since a family skit was always part of the act, so I took the opportunity to spend a bit more time catching up with Ethan, who we dragged up to our room so we could continue talking while we got ready.
  

TaTa and Devo ride again! Yes that is a leash.


Once he saw us in our outfits, we all couldn't stop laughing. Really, it was insane. New nicknames were born that night—Devo and TaTa for us girls. Jury's still out on Ethan's. My vote was Teeth. He said he'd never get a date again. Nibbles?

Yeah, that was about as straight as we could keep our faces.
 

Freaky indeed! Wow, there are some seriously repressed souls who bust out all over when they get to conferences, evidently! We had a lot of fun and still managed to get to bed at a reasonable time! Well, one of us anyway.







16th May 2013

RT 2013...Day Three...50 Shades of Surprise, Snow and the Ball


On Thursday, rumours started swirling around about how, in a panel somewhere at RT, someone had been talking about 50 Shades of Grey, and the author EL James had stood up in the back of the room and said, "Stop talking about my book that way." Most of us thought it was just a joke until we started hearing more details and then came the pictures. Yes, EL James had crashed RT under a different name, then switched to a badge with her real name. Evidently the panellist had been in on it with her and all was well, but it certainly caused a stir, lol. More on EL later.

Another thing that got people talking and actually even going outside was the fact that it started snowing. Now, the day before it had been up to about 80 degrees, so snow was pretty amazing. I spoke to one woman who had never seen snow before and was just giddy about it!


 
Yes, snow. Yes, it was 80 degrees yesterday. Yes, it's the Midwest

I spent most of that day in Club RT, so the first event I went to (other than the disco night and my spotlight) was Romance Pride. It was a cool event with lots of swag and books and costumes, since you were to come dressed as your favourite sub-genre. TA and I went out on a limb and chose Contemporary. *nods* Not sure why we didn't win, but some of the outfits were awesome!


Steampunk! Francesca, Marie and Leigh Anne rocking it!

 
Kissy-face with "Mitch", aka Heidi Cullinan

We didn't leave empty-handed though! Dreamspinner handed out T-shirts that said, "The only women who don't like gay romance are those who haven't read it!"

TA and I with our consolation prizes!

Time for the E-book Expo!! We moved the display table down then took turns wandering through finding some of our favourite authors!

Marie still in her eye-popping steampunk outfit!

LA Witt aka Lauren Gallagher in her husband's uniform.
Amber Kell giving away dragons.

Stephani Hecht looking gorgeous as always!



Then came the Samhain Safari. We actually got there a bit late since we'd stopped off on the Club level for some hot wings, lol, then found that they'd served food at the safari. Ah well, we still found room for the fruit tarts, which were so freaking good. Not sure I ever figured out why Damon was a demon on safari, but it was a cool outfit.


Wild Man Damon Suede


After that it was time for bed. No, wait! It was time for an espresso then to get ready for the 30th Anniversary Formal Ball. They really pulled out all the stops, and served a plated dinner, though we were really full by then. They walked us through 30 years of romance through dinner topped off by a partial striptease by the top guy at Amazon. Once again, the outfits were a lot of fun, and dressed to the nines was the style of the night!

A sampling of the styles!


Figured this was as good a place as any to insert the requisite photo opps with the Mr Romance and cover guys. Photo thanks (and all the posing too, for that matter!) to Leigh Anne!


With 2009 Mr Romance Charles Paz (whose flashy suit matched his personality!) and the super nice Scott Nova

2011 Mr Romance Len Gunn looked like he wore a suit every day
Day three....over...



13th May 2013

RT 2013...Day Two...Kicking It Off and Disco Inferno

At Club RT...There's no place like home...

Sometimes it's amazing to me that more packages and letters don't go astray, especially when you think of the logistics and sheer number of them criss-crossing all over. Most of the time, we all take for granted that things will end up where they should. Silly us. LOL.

TA Chase and Stephani Hecht wo-manning the table

Wednesday started out with Club RT in mind. For those of you who haven't been, think of it as a sort of market slash meet-n-greet. There are dozens of gift baskets lined up along one wall with fun baskets to enter to win. Around the edges of the rest of the room are vendors, including publishers (like me) and booksellers, sellers of everything from jewellery and costumes, to wine and trinkets. In the middle of the room are round tables where authors can sit and meet readers.

Steph looks mesmerized by the way our banner is upright.

We were having a giveaway of a Kindle, eBooks and a Wizard of Oz themed basket. All of which I had in my possession that morning. Only thing I was missing was the freestanding banners. I had a dozen people from both the hotel and the convention roped into trying to find the suckers. After at least two hours of searching they turned up...right where they should have been all along. Hmm. Guess they'd been hiding the first time they looked there! O.o


Just another ordinary person signing up for our drawing (cover model Scott Nova)


Then came the fun of trying to remember how to put them up. LOL. I won't describe it to you in detail. Suffice to say hilarity ensued and six of us were standing around scratching our heads for a lot of it. I finally got it figured out and viola! we were ready about 15 minutes before opening.
 


Ethan and his ever-present Diet Coke came to visit.


TA and I manned the table together and in turns, and also had lots of help from Daisy Harris, Steph Hecht, Marie Sexton and Ranae Rose. It was great getting to talk to the convention goers in a more relaxed atmosphere.
There are events, panels and spotlights going on all day, every day. I didn't get to many this year since I was in Club RT most of the time, but I heard some great things about them! I had to give a spotlight in front of a room of people interested in publishing with us, and since I'm sooo comfortable in front of groups, that was fun! But I got through it and that brought us to the big evening event of Wednesday...



Yes, it was Disco night! Or more properly, Ellora's Cave Bad Girls of Romance Disco Inferno.

Boogy-oogy-oogying with TA Chase, readers/reviewers Leigh and Francesca and Daisy Harris.




We discoed and hustled and danced to a rather eclectic mix of music (pretty sure half of it wasn't from the 70's, disco's heyday, and I would know...I was alive practically the whole decade!). Energy was high and lots of people really enjoyed dressing the part.






After we danced the last dance, we headed to… Guesses anyone? Yes! You're right! Spectators, lol. We ran into a couple of the Cavemen there—Nick and David—and since someone had left their calendar behind that everyone had got as giveaways, they were nice enough to talk to us and pose with their photos.


And so closed the first full day of RT.
 10th May 2013

Romantic Times 2013…Day One...An RT Virgin Arrives

RT—it's the big Kahuna of Romance cons and for good reason. Between the publisher representation and the attendance, it definitely takes top prize. So of course, I'd never been to it. LOL. My schedule had conspired against me and I had to wonder, was it worth it?

This year, though, I had the perfect excuse to go—my role as Editor-In-Chief at Total-E-Bound Publishing. I was there to represent Total-E-Bound, so a bit of the pressure was off to make a good showing as either of my pen names, and I could scope it out while experiencing the whole thing. Yes, I was a virgin this year!

Devon and TA—roomies forevah!! :)

TA Chase—my partner in crime and all things con-related (and now my writing partner for that matter...we'll get back to that later)—was my roommate. Of course! Once having met her, she spoiled me for any other roomie. She's as anally neat as I am, she's quiet, doesn't mind when I'm up late working, and is a totally positive person. Awesome vibes to share a room with for five days. She also got the dubious honour of being "TA the PA", my personal assistant for the con. She remembered people's names, knew what to do when, and of course reminded me to grab my key every single time I left the room. She only forgot hers once (booya!).

We both got in separately on Tuesday and met up at the Sheraton. I had a nonstop from Portland to KC with two free checked bags (guess which airline), and that was a good thing since it seems every conference I pack more shoes. TA and Marie Sexton are a bad influence on me!

Disco Baby!!

We didn't have anything specific planned for Tuesday, but there was enough to do unpacking, orienting ourselves and rounding up the publisher stuff that had been shipped to me there. At least most of it. The banners wanted to play hide and seek with us, so finding them ended up getting put off until Wednesday.

So Tuesday night we ended up catching up with old friends, readers and authors we knew. It wasn't hard to run into them considering how many attendees there were (thousands? anyone know exactly?). The hotel only had two options for food/drinks, and they were never open at the same time. Spectators, a rather small and somewhat lacksidasically staffed sports bar, was the only show in town during evening hours, yet wasn't open for lunch? And stopped serving food before midnight. So much missed revenue! (Shakes head) If people weren't congregated either in the lobby or along the mezzanine, they were in Spectators. This became the place to find people.


Ranae Rose, Daisy Harris, TA Chase, me, Marie Sexton and Alanna Coca at Spectators.

We'd paid the negligible expense to upgrade to Club level, so had access to the hot evening snacks and breakfast. That was pretty much all we existed on for the first couple of days. :) There was a great view from both our room on 37th and the Club level 4 stories up.


Amazing Club level views, especially at night.

That night was the very inventive and fun Cinema Craptastique, hosted by several authors and MC'ed by Damon Suede. He gave a hilarious running commentary on a screening of The Covenant, a film hardly anyone had ever heard of...not surprisingly, though TA had seen it!



3rd May 2013



Romantic Times Convention 2013

This week is the 30th annual Romantic Times Convention in Kansas, USA!

The convention started on Wednesday and runs until Sunday. During the five days, thousands of people come along and see what romance fiction has to offer and we are there showing everyone the hottest erotic romance around!

Stacey, our Editor-In-Chief is there representing Total-E-Bound and has sent us some photos to share with you all…

Stacey, Editor-In-Chief in Club RT

We have a stand at Club RT and are giving away a basket full of OZ goodies for readers alongside an aspiring author’s competition to find the next big author in erotic romance!

Stacey ran our publisher spotlight on Wednesday and also set up the Total-E-Bound stand in the eBook Expo last night.

Total-E-Bound Stand in the eBook Expo

The room was packed with readers and authors that came along to purchase their favourite eBooks and meet the authors of those titles.

eBook Expo

The whole convention gives a fantastic opportunity to meet new people including readers, authors and publishers. A chance to network, purchase books, attend seminars, parties and most of all have lots of fun!

Check back next week to read about how Stacey got on…



10th April 2013

Midlands Pole Championships 2013


Pole dancing often has a certain stigma attached to it, not all that dissimilar to that of erotic romance. Say ‘pole dancing’ and people automatically think of strip clubs….say erotic romance and people automatically think and assume its porn. Both ideals are very wrong. Pole dancing and erotic romance provide escapism and empowerment for women along the way. The strength and elegance that the competitors in the professional category showed was unbelievable. Here pole dancing was presented as a professional sport, far from the sleazy dances in a night club. The competitors train daily and the only way to make it to the top is to take it very seriously.

Sunday 7th April was the first Midlands Pole Championships and Total-E-Bound Publishing were proud sponsors of the event and our very own Annalisa Muresu!

The whole day was filled with performances in four categories; Amateur, Intermediate, Advanced and Professional as well as guest performances from the judges.

The event took place at the Festival Hall in Kirkby-In-Ashfield and there were 200 people in the audience and 31 contestants.

Nervous competitors began to arrive from 11am. Practicing started instantly and our very own Annalisa was showing her moves in her Total-E-Bound purple onesie!



Trying to calm her nerves Annalisa told us how she normally feels before a competition:

“I am a wreck, I think about the routine all night, then excitement kicks in, then nerves again, then I think ‘why am I putting myself through this?’. I then remember that’s what I love doing and I am there to have fun—quickly change my mind knowing I am too competitive to have fun and I want to win. Just before I go on stage, nothing matters and I forget all about the stress and worries – I am there to put on a show and entertain people. I love dancing and being on stage. The music just draws me in and my body follows.”

The doors opened at 12 noon and the hall started to fill up with excited an audience and family members.

The competition got started at 1pm with the amateur category and the intermediates were to follow.

The performances really started to heat up during the advanced category, before the professional category really showed everyone how it was done! Throughout the day we saw moves such as the Deadlift, Brass Monkey, Flag, Ayesha, Reverse Grab, Allegra, Jade and the Elbow Grip Split; trust me when I tell you these moves needed core strength, elegance, control and performance.

During breaks from the competition, audience members came over to our stand to find out what we were about and to “get a bit of naughtiness!” The Clandestine Classics were a big hit as well as our BDSM titles. The women were quite specific saying, “we want something better than 50 Shades please…and dirtier!”

Annalisa was third in the professional category and her routine was incredible. Performing to Coldplay’s Paradise, covered by Evolution,  she was absolutely mesmerising and the crowd erupted throughout.

After seeing all 31 performances, there was a 30 minute break for the judges to decide on the winners before we watched a guest performance by Jess Leanne Norris (one of the judges) whose routine was something the entire hall was undoubtedly hypnotised by.

Nervous tension in the room started to build after the final guest performance and all the competitors made their way to the stage for the winners to be announced. 



They started with the Amateur category, then Intermediate and Advanced before the big announcement of the evening, Midlands Pole Champion 2013 for the professional category.

And the winner is…

Annalisa Muresu!



The whole place exploded! We were jumping around screaming and cheering, so happy that she had won.

After the results had been announced we had our champion over at the stand for photos and also one of the judges, Justine McLucas with her. Justine told us she thought we should do a pole dancing erotic romance…could be quite an interesting mix for a story.



Speaking to Annalisa afterwards, we hear what it feels like to be named champion:

“I cannot describe what it feels like to be a champion. I put in hours and hours, weeks and weeks into my training and—not going to lie—blood, injuries, bruises, sweat, tears and laughter. I trained for months for one chance to impress the judges and when they announced I was the winner…the joy, the relief, the exhaustion and the nerves all come out in a mix of astonishment and happiness. Being announced as a champion is knowing that you were the best and recognised as such. In the aftermath, being a champion is pushing that best to another level”.

The whole day was a huge success, meeting potential new readers and also Annalisa winning the entire competition. We look forward to seeing what the championships hold for 2014!


4th April 2013



An internship at Total-E-Bound by Georgia Thompson

“You’re doing what?” Is usually the first thing people ask when I tell them I’m an intern at a publisher of erotic romance novels. The second thing they ask is whether I have been asked to do anything I’m not comfortable with. This is ridiculous of course. I work for a publisher, not some seedy porn baron. And yet people automatically think that I’ll have my innocence squeezed out of me like a lemon.

There is a notion in society that any business that has anything to do with sex has to be sleazy. I have found after working here at Total-E-Bound for three months that the opposite of this is true. The staff here are dedicated and have a really professional attitude. It is a mainly female office and sometimes I think the men are probably more easily embarrassed than the women.

I have been treated with more respect here than any other job I have ever had. I was once told by a team leader at a past job to go and make him a sandwich, even though this was nothing to do with my job description. At another job I had as a receptionist, I was constantly hounded by a man who, when I told him I had a boyfriend then went on to ask, “On a scale of one to ten how happy are you with him?”

We’ll have the odd giggle at funny euphemisms in a book but, for the most part working at Total-E-Bound is a serious matter.  I have learnt enough here about editing and publishing, to now know that it is the career path I want to follow for the rest of my life.  Most of my work here consists of editing books to make sure the spelling and grammar is correct before they go out but, I have also done some work helping with the PR side of things.

The best part of the job is that every day is different. You are always editing original material or trying to find solutions to new problems. Yeah, there are sex scenes in the books, but that doesn’t mean Total-E-Bound should be taken less seriously as a publisher. Sex is a natural part of life and society needs to start treating it like it is.




14th February 2013


Today we became part of the revolution of women and men who will WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence against women and girls on 2.14.13.

ONE BILLION RISING is a global call to women and men across the planet to gather in their communities to dance and demand an end to violence against women and girls.

Will you join us? Sign up here:

http://onebillionrising.org/

Right now, 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.

V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, refuses to watch as more than one billion women experience violence.

ONE BILLION RISING is a promise that on February 14th, 2013, we will ensure that millions of women and men rise up around the world to say, "ENOUGH. The violence ends NOW."

http://onebillionrising.org/

We at Total-E-Bound Publishing support One Billion Rising and V-Day, here is Belinda's story, one close to our hearts...

It’s sadly a fact that last year in the UK, 109 women were killed by men. Imagine how many women are killed each year in the whole world? The numbers are undoubtedly staggering. There is still inequality between men and women, something that shouldn’t exist at all. Yet there is a belief that it is okay to hurt or kill women.

Quite simply, it is not okay.

So many women live in fear every day—fear that some of us can’t even begin to imagine because we’ve never had a moment of violence perpetrated towards us in our lives. Yes, we’ve seen it on the news, read the papers, and know it exists, but unless you’ve been through the utter horror, there is no way you can even begin to imagine it.

Let’s talk about Belinda. For most of her life she was frightened. Not only did she have a domineering mother who frequently made her scared, but because she recognised the traits of her mother in her first love and, thinking that was the way things should be—after all, it was all she’d known—she went on into an abusive relationship. Being told what to do, where to go, what to wear, how to behave…it all seemed “normal”. Other people didn’t appear to notice anything was wrong either, so Belinda thought that was her lot in life and just carried on living day to day hoping nothing “bad” would happen.

Belinda had children, and it wasn’t until then that she realised something. She looked at her daughter and wondered, “What if a man hurt her?”

That was a huge turning point, and as if a light had been switched on inside her head, Belinda began to see that her husband wasn’t the kind of man she should be with—the kind of man her children should witness calling their mother names, bullying her, and making her cry. Hitting her. Holding her up against a wall by her throat and saying if she ever left him, no matter where she ran, he’d find her. That if she left him, he’d take her children away when she least expected it. The children were all sitting in a row on the sofa, watching and, going by their expressions, thinking this was just your normal everyday occurrence.

Another light went on inside Belinda’s head. No more. She could not allow her children to see this kind of behaviour any longer. Despite being scared out of her wits, she told her husband to leave.
He did not go quietly.

Belinda believes, had he stayed, she would have been seriously hurt—and she would have gone insane. She was already on Prozac, a jumpy, living-on-the-edge mess, a far cry from the woman she’d thought she’d be when she was growing up.

Where were the good times? Where was the love? She had always wanted it to exist, and so far it had only been alive and a possibility in romance books. With her husband gone, Belinda began the long journey of empowering herself. It took ten years for her to realise she was worth something, that another man would want her. Ten years to see that when someone became angry she didn’t have to cower or shove the children into another room so they wouldn’t see. Belinda came through it, became a strong woman, but how many others out there are so far down the abuse track that they can’t see a way out?

How many will be killed because of this?

We at Total-E-Bound believe every woman has just as many rights as any man. We don’t agree with belittling women. We as a company stand for confidence in women, and we provide that empowerment through our titles. We support 1 Billion Rising, not just today, but every day. It is a fabulous cause, and our dream is that one day, such causes won’t need to exist.

Help us support One Billion Rising and sign up now! WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence against women and girls on 2.14.13 http://onebillionrising.org/ 

6th February 2013

Sophie’s say…


On Tuesday 5th February several news outlets published articles on some recent research that states that ‘Chick Lit can harm the readers’ self-esteem’!  Now this left me completely mystified as, being a huge Chick Lit and Erotic Romance reader (and a constantly fluctuating size 12) I simply could not relate to what several of the pieces were saying. Apparently ‘Bridget Jones and the army of weight-obsessed young heroines who followed in her footsteps have a lot to answer for, according to academics, who have found that women's body image is negatively affected by chick lit.’* Now I’ve always had an issue with my weight – like most women really, but I don’t put that down to Chick Lit (my favourite form of escapism), I personally put it down to the growing influence of media on our western culture and the likes of women’s weekly’s and celebrity magazines that have women all over the world devouring stories about ‘which celebrity has put on weight’ and drooling over pictures of female celebrities showing cellulite in their bikinis. I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary, but not once did I have thoughts about my own weight being an issue. It’s great to be able to relate to a character – another fluctuating size 12 who had not one, but two suitors after her! 


The so-called study by Virginia Tech that somehow ‘proves’ that ‘fictional representations can affect female readers’ self-esteem’ is just baffling… 


‘Researchers chose two chick lit novels – Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed, and Laura Jensen Walker's Dreaming in Black and White, each of which features heroines with "healthy body weight" but "low body esteem". They adapted a passage from each of them to come up with nine versions for each novel, from an underweight heroine with high body esteem to an overweight one with low body esteem, so there might be a character who states: "I'm 5'4", 140lb, and a size six", or one who says: "I'm 5'4", 105lb, and a size zero".


They then distributed the passages amongst 159 female university students, who after reading them were then asked to rate how they felt about various body parts and sexual attractiveness. The study found that when the narrative was about a slim heroine, participants felt "significantly" less sexually attractive, and that when it featured a protagonist with low body esteem, readers were "significantly more concerned about their weight" than participants in the control condition.’*


This is the most ridiculous and biased study I’ve ever heard of! I can’t actually remember any other books (bearing in mind I haven’t read the two mentioned above) apart from Bridget Jones’ Diary that has a heroine with low self-esteem – but you know what? That was the whole point of the story and she got the guy who ‘loved her just the way she was’ (excuse me if I haven’t quite quoted that correctly) – it’s one that has not only stayed in my mind since I read it but has always been a pre-requisite for a partner – i.e. the perfect man for me will love me ‘just the way I am’! I would also say that nearly all of our books empower the heroine – regardless of their size (whether it’s even mentioned!), it’s about their confidence and nearly always a love story with a happy ending. I suppose what I am getting at is how on earth does a study giving 159 female uni students a variety of adapted passages with ‘an underweight heroine with high self-esteem to an overweight one with low self-esteem’ prove that Chick Lit harms readers body image? I personally feel that the people here with the issue are the people who created the study… Why would an under-weight female naturally have high self-esteem and vice versa anyway?


So instead of attacking literature – where the imagery is down to the reader’s imagination – try looking at; films and television, and how the press and media present celebrities!


* Quotes taken from Alison Flood’s article in The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/05/chick-lit-body-image

Have your say...
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A Word from the Wise... Editing tips



Sexy or Squicky? by Penny Chapman



What might be sexy to you may well turn someone else off. An author can’t please all people all of the time, but you can reduce the squick factor by considering whether the visual you have given your reader is nice or nasty. I’m not saying you should eliminate the following from your books, but it gives you an insight into this editor’s mind on what will have my stomach churning in an instant. 

I’ll give three examples of this—Penny’s Pet Peeves 1-5—and you’ll get the general idea.

1.      Copious amounts of body fluids. 
a) Does everyone have to sweat buckets? I don’t mind a bit of sweat, but does it have to be to the point where the characters slide all over one another? I think of well-oiled sumo wrestlers, and the magic of the sex scene vanishes. 

b) Does every female have to “gush” to the point their vaginal fluids drip down their inner thighs? I read once that it reached her ankles. This made me think that she’d perhaps wet herself by accident. 

c) Do men have to come enough that they could fill a cup? Do you want your reader thinking: Gosh, he’s been celibate for a long time! Or: How much can two balls hold?

2.    Wet Chins 
Do we really need to be shown the visual of wet chins and lips? A reader knows this scenario is highly likely, and if they enjoy that visual they will insert it themselves—but what about the reader who doesn’t want to be reminded of the wetter side of life? Does that description of glistening lips and chins really need to be there?

3.    Going in Dry 
Lube is your best friend. Really. Your characters are in love—or they very soon will be, which means caring and nurturing. Anal sex without lube is, for me, insensitive on the character’s part. Is he not thinking about the pain a dry insertion would cause? Is she not realising that a vibrator or plug that isn’t wet might put her anal-sex virgin off for life? Please, please use lube, and if none is available, be inventive and use something else. Your poor characters will be ever so grateful.

4.    Cold Cum 
I’ve got an aversion to this to the point that I gag. If a character is licking cum from another, I pray it’s still warm. The thought of it being cold and slightly congealed yanks me right out of the sex scene and into thoughts of needing to visit the porcelain throne. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be written, just asking that you consider reader reactions.

5.   Dirty Sex There have been many times I’ve read where a finger, cock, or toy has been inserted into the rear hole then placed in the front one. Oh dear. There has been one instance where that finger and cock were then placed into a heroine’s greedy little mouth. Are you feeling icky yet? The tip for this one is simple—play with everything else first, anal last.

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