Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Leah Braemel

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I've come to the conclusion that life is NOT going to slow down any time soon. I spent a fabulous weekend in Indianapolis with my IRWA chapter mates at our Liliana Hart Event. We had a great turnout (about 160 attendees) and the program was fantastic! If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Liliana's presentations, don't miss it!

This week, my awesome Canadian friend Leah Braemel is here to offer her sage advice to new writers. I couldn't agree more with number one on her list! And number six. And number nine. Number two gives me warm fuzzies. :) The rest of her advice is right on the mark too! Welcome, Leah, and thanks for visiting!

Thanks to Mellanie for inviting me today – I’ve skimmed back over old posts, and there is a lot of great advice here, so I don’t think I’m telling you anything new, but these are the points that I have taught to my own classes. To be honest, these are pieces of advice I have stuck up on notes around my desk because even after fourteen or so published stories, and countless unpublished ones that will never see the light of day, I still need to remember these points.

Things to keep in mind when writing:

1. The BEST piece of advice I first heard from Margaret Moore, but I’ve heard other authors repeat it since: Treat all writing advice like a buffet. When an author stands up (or blogs) and says “this is how you should write” what you should hear is “this is what works for them, it may or may not work for you.” It took me a couple of years to realize how wise Margaret’s advice was.

2. Don’t overload yourself with how-to-write workshops or books. When I first joined a major writing organization almost ten years ago, they and their affiliates offered dozens of workshops a month. I would take at least one craft course a month for almost the whole year. By the end of that year I found myself writing a paragraph, or a sentence, and then thinking “Oh, but Jane said …” so I’d delete the sentence and re-write it using Jane’s suggestions, only to think “Oh, but Mary said…” and so I’d delete that sentence and try to write it the way both Jane AND Mary suggested, and so on I went. Needless to say, I didn’t get much writing done for almost a year.

Does that mean I’m saying you shouldn’t read any craft books and shouldn’t take any courses? Heck no. My shelf is filled with them – I highly recommend Mellanie’s books, or another favorite of mine - Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. I also highly recommend Margie Lawson’s courses.

3. There are no “Rules of Writing.” Seriously. They’re more like pirates’ guidelines.

In fiction, you can use fragments. You can use one word sentences. You can end a sentence with a preposition. You can write first person point-of-view for two different characters in the same book. (Just not in the same scene please, that would be too confusing.) Yes, there are editors and agents who will not read a book that starts with a prologue, but that’s usually because most new authors don’t understand what a prologue is supposed to show. There are hundreds of new books published by New York every year that include prologues. You just have to know when a prologue is necessary and when it’s just an info-dump. So if someone tells you that you can never use the word “was” in your first paragraph/page/50 pages, etc., or that you absolutely must follow the (picture me dropping my voice into a horror movie announcer tone) *12 Rules of Writing*, feel free to thumb your nose at them and show them the door.

4. You write the book, not your computer software: Don’t get stuck in the loop that if you just find the perfect writing software you’ll be able to finish your book. Sorry to disappoint you but even if you have great programs such as Scrivener or WriteWay Pro (and hey, Word’s not so bad either), you still have to sit your butt in the chair and write the darn book. The software is simply a tool to help you achieve it – it’s up to you to actually put the words on the page.

5. It helps to have a good chef teach you to cook, but there can be too many cooks in a kitchen. There are those (and I used to be—and still am—one of the advocates) who insist you have to have a couple good critique partners go over your work before submitting it. It’s a good idea, especially for new writers. But you also need to be aware the wrong critique partners can destroy your self-confidence until you don’t trust yourself anymore, and worse, they can try to change your voice or teach you bad habits. The key is learning the difference between a good critique partner and a bad one—oh boy that’s a delicate balance because someone who is good for one author might be a bad critique partner for another. Finding a good critique partner is like dating—you have to try each other out, get to know each other’s styles, and it’s okay to say “no, this isn’t a good fit” and move on.

6. Be aware that what works for you now, may not work for you 2 years from now, or vice versa. If something’s not working for you, don’t be afraid to try something new.

7. If you’re struggling writing a scene in third person, try writing it in first person, and then if your genre or your readers insist they only read third person, when the scene is done, you can edit it back to third.

If you normally sit at your desk, try sitting at the dining room table, or at a coffee shop, or the side of a river. If you normally write on a laptop, try writing on your tablet, try dictating into a voice recorder, or go old-school and hand-write your scene. You’d be surprised how a simple change can unclog your creativity and get you back on track.

8. Edits—they hurt so good. I once heard an author say how whenever they got their edits back from their editor, they pushed their chair back from their keyboard as far as they could get, closed one eye, squinted with the other, and very gingerly pressed the key to open the doc. I find myself reacting the same way most times. (Although usually my editor will tell me in the accompany email whether she liked it or not.) But – and this is a key point new writers need to remember—as much as it hurts to read an editor’s notes that tell you your writing isn’t perfect, you need to learn to listen to what they’re saying. You need to be able to take a step back and say “why are they saying that?” As the author you know what you meant, but maybe you weren’t clear enough so the reader is left confused. The editor is telling you the readers’ side, and that’s something that should be very important to you. Yes, there are times the editor and you may disagree. It happens on occasion. But don’t automatically dismiss their comments either. Their name goes on that book (even for my self pubbed books, I include the name of the editor in the front pages) and they are being judged by your work too. So open that edited doc, read through their comments, then close the doc and walk away for a day. Or two. That space and time will give you a new perspective.

Oh and about those edits? Yes, you really do need to hire a professional editor – unless your mom or your sister is a professional editor, please don’t think them reading your work is a pass straight to self-publishing and rave reviews. Sure it might happen, but seriously, go out and find yourself a freelance editor to edit your work so it’s the best it can be. Read their comments and listen to them, (most authors I know let them sit for a day or two to allow them to digest) and then EDIT your work again, and then hire a proofreader, and turn out the best possible story you can.

9. Straight from Nora Roberts herself – “You can’t edit a blank page.” And added to by me, “you can’t publish a blank page. So if your goal is to be published, you’d better finish that book.”

Leah is the only woman in a houseful of males that includes her college-sweetheart husband, two sons, a Shih Tzu named Seamus, and Turtle the cat. She loves escaping the ever-multiplying dust bunnies by opening up her laptop to write about sexy heroes and the women who challenge them.

Reviewers have awarded Leah's books numerous Top Pick and Recommended Reads designations as well as nominated them as Best Contemporary Romance, Best Erotic Romance, and Best Ménage à Trois or More. Leah has also been nominated as Favorite Author and Best Erotic Romance Author.

Look for FEEDING THE FLAMES, book 1 in the Flirting with Fire series, along with the Grady Legacy series from Carina Press.

Follow Leah on Facebook, Tsu, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and Goodreads. You can also follow Leah on her Amazon Author page or chat with her and other fans on her Facebook Reader group.


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from A.D. Ellis

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I'm back with another guest--after a week of "life" taking all my time! Between finishing IGO entry judging and trying to catch up with my garden (two bushels of tomatoes in the last week and a half among other assorted vegetables), something had to give. The good news? I'm caught up and writing again!

The fantastic A.D. Ellis has a great post for you today about something I really need to improve on (or clone myself)!

Focus. Focus is the key.

Well, focus is something I have to work into this this whole independent author journey.

Hi! I’m A.D. Ellis, author of A Torey Hope Novel Series and Torey Hope: The Later Years. I started writing in October of 2013 and published in April of 2014. At the time of writing this post, I have six books published with two more scheduled to finish out the second series.

I wish I could tell you that I got all of this done because I was focused. But that’s not what this article is about. I’m a mother, a wife, a teacher, and an author. I am the queen of multi-tasking and I think that’s why I’m able to get a lot done. I focus and give my best to all I do, but I have to work on several things at once. If I was not being a mom and a teacher and a wife, maybe I wouldn’t have to multi-task. But not doing those other things isn’t a choice, so I multitask.

This post is going to multi-task. It’s going to focus on a few of my biggest tips for success. They are in no order, they don’t require 100% focus (although, you WILL have to put forth effort and do your best), and they can be done along with several other things all at once.

Engage with your readers: Ask their opinions. Invite them to send you their thoughts and feelings on your work. Open yourself up to their comments and questions. One of the very best parts of being an author is getting to meet and interact with my readers.

A side note: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT engage negatively with readers. EVER. Not on review sites, not in emails, not on social media. Keep it positive. It never turns out well and you’re trying to build your name up and reach readers; you don’t need to get a bad reputation.

A side note on my side note: Just because you publish and are (hopefully, but very honestly likely not) a huge overnight success, this does not give you the right to start slamming others and expecting that every single reader will love your book. Stay humble.

Back to engaging with your readers…they are the most important people in this whole thing. Readers leave reviews, readers tell their friends, readers buy more of your books. Treat them right.

Research to get it right: If you’re going to take the time to write and publish a book, take the time to get the details right. My first couple books had some topics I knew a lot about from my years as an educator; no research needed there. But, there were some topics on addiction and recovery that I wasn’t familiar with. Sure, I knew what I saw on television and movies, but I wanted to get it right; I talked to addiction and recovery therapists to get their insight.

I don’t have a medical background other than watching ER years ago. In my fourth book, there were medical scenes and I wanted them spot-on. I spoke to paramedics and nurses. There were some scenes involving police and laws, so I spoke to people in the law enforcement field.

In my two newest releases, I needed background/input on construction and the point-of-view of a gay man. So, what did I do? I talked to those in construction and I had a blast talking to families of gay men and gay men themselves.

What if you don’t know nurses, paramedics, police officers, gay men, therapists? JUST ASK! I promise, if you’re on social media and you put out a plea for information, you’ll get at least a couple people willing and able to help.

Open yourself up to critique: This is very hard. When you first write your book, it’s your baby and you don’t want anyone saying anything bad about your baby. But no one is perfect and everyone can improve on something. It’s hard at first, but toughen up, admit that there are things you can strengthen, and accept constructive criticism.

Another side note: There will be tons of reviews where the criticism is anything but constructive. Dry your tears, punch a pillow, laugh with some author friends, see if you can find anything helpful in it, and then MOVE ON. If you have the urge to reply to the review or call the reviewer out on social media or gripe about the low review to your readers/followers, please refer back to my previous side note about NEVER, EVER engaging with readers in a negative way. Just don’t.

Find a group that understands and supports you: The indie author community is one of the most welcoming and helpful groups of people around, except when it isn’t. And it isn’t open and supportive quite a lot lately. It’s a saturated market, especially the romance genre, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie.

That said, there are some great people out there. Sit back and watch; buddy up with people who seem to be like you; ask questions; stay out of any and all drama. You will soon find one or two people who you click with and they “get” what you’re going through because they are in the same boat.

Unless you have personal friends or family who are independent authors, they probably won’t “get” the emotions and effort and struggles and frustrations you’re going to deal with. Having author buddies is a tremendous help.

Remember when I said don’t respond to negative reviews? Well, if you’ve got those one or two close author friends, you can vent to them. They’ll understand because they probably have a bad review as well. Do it secretly; cry, cuss, vent; move on.

While on the subject of groups, get a group of beta readers. Beta readers read your work before it’s ready to publish. Authors do it differently; some send it chapter by chapter, some in bigger chunks, some when it’s completely finished. Betas read your work for errors, holes in the plot, things they like/don’t like, places where things don’t make sense, etc. They aren’t necessarily editors, but they have proven invaluable to me. When I’m doubting my work (and if you’re a writer, you know how we all sometimes doubt our work), I will send it to my betas and they give me feedback that lets me know I’m on track or helps me get back on track.

Keep writing: You wrote one book. People loved it. They want more. You can’t give them more if you’re not writing, writing, writing. If readers decide they like your work, they will voraciously want to read more. Be sure you have more to give them. That doesn’t mean rush through your work and offer up less-than-your-best; it just means don’t sit around waiting for that one book to make you a star. The more you write, the more you publish, the more readers you reach.

My final note (wow, I got a bit wordy, huh?) is this: Don’t give up. You will have bad days, you will have good days, and then there will be more bad days. If you truly aren’t feeling it, reassess and see if it’s what you want to do. But don’t reassess on a bad day. Wait until you’re between the good and the bad days. More than likely, you’ll realize that being a published author is just too much fun (and hard work, and sweat, and tears, and frustrations, and…) and you’ll decide to keep telling your stories. Because, in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Getting those stories out of our heads and onto paper so they can be shared with readers.

A.D. Ellis is the author of two contemporary romance series, A Torey Hope Novel Series and Torey Hope: The Later Years. Her 2014 debut novel, For Nicky, was voted #3 of the Top 50 Indie Books of 2014 by readers/voters. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Indiana Romance Writers of America.

A.D. was born and raised in a small farming town in southern Indiana. An avid reader from the time she learned to read, A.D. could often be found curled up somewhere with her nose in a book. Most of her friends and family were not such book enthusiasts, so she got used to dealing with snickers and joking comments about her constant reading habits.

A.D. always dreamed of being a teacher. Graduating from Indiana State University in 1999 and earning a Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003, she met her goal of entering the world of education. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis, Indiana for 16 years; most of her years of experience have been in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students don’t always share in that enthusiasm.

Ms. Ellis met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband, two school-aged children, and a hyperactive Yorkie named Snickers. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and sweating at the gym.

A.D. began her writing journey in October 2013; she is grateful for the friends and support she’s found along the way.
Please connect with A.D. Ellis on Facebook.
Find A.D.’s author page on Amazon at

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Jacie Floyd

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A big part of crossing the threshold from writer to author is never giving up. Perseverance and continuing to expand your knowledge of writing and publishing can make all the difference in the world. If you don't believe me, the fabulous Jacie Floyd will set you straight!

Editing is More Than Typos and Commas

I had been writing for a very long time with pretty good success for an unknown, unpublished author. I joined RWA and several local chapters to stay current on publishing news and trends. I participated in critique groups. I attended conferences. And I entered contests.

I had been a Golden Heart finalist six times, and I had won twice, along with several other big competitions. I was on the right track and knew what I was doing. Or so I thought.

The first time an editor reviewed one of my contest entries, she asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it and waited. And waited some more. Waited a long time. Finally, after more than a year and numerous calls and letters, I received a response. A form letter Rejection. With a capital R. The same scenario repeated itself over the years, occasionally with more personal letters or revision suggestions. Editors told me I should get an agent. Agents told me “No, thanks.”

At the 2013 RWA National conference, the year of my last Golden Heart nomination, my daughter attended the conference with me. While I was busy enjoying my GH status, she went to self-publishing workshops. She asked me why I hadn’t tried self-publishing. Mostly because I didn’t have any of the required technical skills.

But luckily for me, my daughter was a wizard at the technical things and was willing to help. I just had to handle some of the non-technical things. Like chart my course, hire an editor, choose a cover designer, figure out Amazon, PR and marketing, and other tasks that I didn’t have any idea about. But I asked around. Got recommendations. Sent emails. With my daughter’s help, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and publish Meet Your Mate, my first romantic comedy. We might have struggled through that first publication, but we managed, and each one has gotten easier.

Now which of these things did I wish I had done or learned about previously? Which of them might have helped me get better rejection letters from editors, more consideration from agents, and possibly, a book contract with a traditional publisher?

The freelance developmental editor.

It was clear from the contest wins and requests from editors that I knew how to write.

But it wasn’t until I hired a developmental editor to look at my completed manuscripts that the light dinged. If there were spotty problems with structure, organization, coherence, or logical consistency, I couldn’t detect them on my own. This was the reason I hadn’t made the final connection with agents and editors in my quest for publication. This was the “special” something that my manuscripts lacked. My stories and plots were good, but not quite good enough. And I was too close to it to see the problem.

When your manuscript is perfect, when you think it is as good as you can possibly make it, whether you intend to self-publish or submit to a traditional publishing house, hire a professional editor look at it first.

The charges and services of a developmental editor vary. Some charge by the hour, some charge by the word. Check out their websites. Check with other authors who use them. To guarantee that they offer the type of expertise you’re looking for, some editors will review a few sample pages for you before you commit to a contract. But if you spend money on only one thing prior to publication, it should be spent on this.

Should you blindly follow all of their suggestions?

No, absolutely not. Only if it works for you and fits into your vision for your book. But even if it doesn’t, it may point out the trouble spots and give you something to think about that will lead you in a new direction. Possibly a better direction. This may be the thing that takes your work to the next level, the highest level, above everything else sitting in the slush pile or languishing in the Amazon rankings.

Make your manuscript shine with a professional polish of a developmental editor before sending it out into the real world.

Jacie Floyd writes contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and emotionally rich stories about the kind of strong women and bold men you want to read about and know.

Current books:
The Billionaire Brotherhood:
Winning Wyatt
Daring Dylan

The Good Riders:
Meet Your Mate
Cursed By Love
Meant For Me

Summer Kisses: Ten Golden Heart Authors Boxed Set

Twitter: @jaciefloyd

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Mellanie Szereto

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I'm hijacking this week's post to share some very important writing advice for all writers. As I push through judging IGO Contest entries, I've noticed a few things. They remind me of staring at the ever-changing patterns of a kaleidoscope--different yet the same--for each entry.

The Craft of Writing

Like any craft, writing takes practice and requires a set of specific skills. Those skills must be learned and developed in order to complete a project of good quality. Some writers have a natural aptitude for some of the basics. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling fall into this category. Many (far more than half) of the contest entries I've judged over the past several years are weak in those areas. Even some published authors have a difficult time deciding where to put commas and how to punctuate dialogue. There, their, and they're cause lots of headaches, not to mention how to avoid misplaced modifiers and comma splices. What if grammar, punctuation, and spelling are weaknesses?

Invest in a resource library. It doesn't have to be extensive, but it should contain a Merriam-Webster or Oxford dictionary and at least one widely used style guide like Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). While these three areas are some of my greatest strengths, CMOS is my go-to guide for all grammar and punctuation questions. I refer to it on a regular basis. High school level handbooks, such as Writers Inc. and Plain English Handbook, are also very helpful.

Besides basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation, writers need to learn writing craft rules that apply to fiction. Point of view (POV), showing vs. telling, backstory vs. exposition, and goals, motivation, and conflict (GMC) are among the most important. These areas are linked to almost all other aspects of writing craft and, done correctly, provide a strong foundation for any story. How can writers learn and improve those skills?

Again, books on writing craft are a worthwhile investment. My Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook covers a lot of writing craft topics, while Debra Dixon's book on GMC focuses on a narrower one. Attend conferences, workshops, and online classes. Many RWA chapters offer monthly programs on a variety of writing topics. Kristen Lamb's Warrior Writer blog is an excellent free resource, as are other writing blogs.

Take time to expand your writing skills. Learn them. Practice them. Get feedback and improve.

Writing is a journey, not a destination.

When her fingers aren't attached to her keyboard, Mellanie Szereto enjoys hiking, Pilates, cooking, gardening, and researching for her stories. Many times, the research partners with her other hobbies, taking her from the Hocking Hills region in Ohio to the Colorado Rockies and the Adirondacks of New York. Sometimes, the trip is no farther than her garden for ingredients and her kitchen to test recipes for her latest steamy tale. Mellanie makes her home in rural Indiana with her husband of twenty-eight years and their son. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Indiana Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and FF&P Romance Writers.

Check out Mellanie's books and appearances on her website at href="">
She loves to hear from her readers! Contact Mellanie at

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Valley Brown

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! The wonderful Valley Brown is sharing her advice for new writers this week. And it's the tough truth.

Writing Without Illusion or Delusion

Writing. One of humankind’s greatest creative outlets. It epitomizes and gives tangible form to our best thoughts, but not all who embrace it are destined to have their words consumed and glorified. In today’s digital world competing for reader attention is a task akin to Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. Millions of new books arrive each year. That’s a lot of newbie writers floundering in a cutthroat global market.

So what would ever make any writer hope they could outshine millions of peers? Perhaps it’s the pervasive myth that being a writer is a glamorous, wildly creative life. The physical and mental gymnastics involved in writing, while often arduous, are the undoubtedly the most enjoyable aspects. Everything else tends to become a necessary evil.

Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Shelly – biographies abound with romanticized gatherings and carousing, bestseller limelight and grand literary awards, with bright careers occasionally ending in tragedy. Before you fling yourself into this abyss, consider what the personal cost of devoting your life – and that of your family, if you have one – is in actuality, for there is far more to writing than grand sporadic inspiration. Writing is only half the battle.

Marketing is a huge investment of time, energy and funds. It sucks as much of those resources as you allow and then some. Whether under contract to a traditional publishing house or self-published, expect to spend enormous quantities of time and effort toward generating discoverability and sales.

Today’s writer spends little time traveling for personal appearances. Today’s writer is tethered to online devices in continuous interface with social media and potential readers utilizing the virtual world. There are out-of-pocket expenses to all this jockeying for attention, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars every year, year after year. How prepared are you to do this?

How supportive will family and friends be when you: a) withdraw from everyday life to write intensively; b) start shelling out for websites, promotional copies, swag, contest prizes, and travel expenses; and c) if self-pubbed, take returns of trade hardbacks or paperbacks in quantity? (Yes, not everyone will love your work enough to not return it for a refund! Printed copies need to be returnable if you want vendors to agree to sell them.)

Are you willing to forego family and social events because of deadlines or marketing obligations? Are you self-disciplined enough, determined enough and hungry enough to treat writing and marketing as legitimate full-time jobs? Because that is exactly what they are. They are full-time occupation of your waking hours. Schedule your work, play, and personal maintenance. Includes time for decompressing with people you care about. If you can’t, chances are you won’t succeed.

Being a writer is a tough road to travel. Literally sit down with your family and have the discussion. Jot down the positives and negatives in front of each other and do the math. Even if the odds are nowhere near in your favor, take heart. It doesn’t mean you have to deep-six your dream. It only means you should follow it without any delusions.

Author Valley Brown and her husband live in Southwestern Indiana along the Ohio River. When not writing or working with art glass, she takes short road trips on her Honda Shadow, and makes art quilts. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Indiana Chapter of Romance Writers of America, Indiana ABATE, American Quilters Society, Raintree Quilters Guild, and the International Quilt Association.

The Rocky Road romantic suspense series is about one woman’s journey through trauma and tragedy, and how the power of love keeps her moving forward. It touches on the sensitive topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the different ways in which people deal with wounds that never heal, yet somehow find strength and courage to love again. Speeding Tickets (Book One) debuted in 2011. Rough Piece of Road (Book Two) was released July 2013. Divided Highway (Book Three) is “under construction”.

Amazon Author Page:
Facebook Page:

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Author Spotlights on Mondays--Andrew Jericho

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! My guest this week is Andrew Jericho. Here's a peek at his latest release!

Ace Freeman is the president of Prison Masters, a BDSM club for gay males. He’s in love with cellmate Tyler Chase and guard Paul Ryder. Ace is Dominant, desiring to take both men as pets.

As an experienced sub, Tyler wants to give submission to two Masters. He slips an explicit drawing into Ace’s notebook. Later, he blurts out his affections for Paul. Tyler hopes his actions will gain collars from both men.

Underneath Paul’s shy and soft-spoken exterior lies a man who lives the BDSM lifestyle. Paul is a switch. The guard desires a Master who can fulfill his need for no limits, and a pet to dominate. However, Paul knows his desires for Ace and Tyler have the potential to cost his job.

A good Master cares for his pets. Ace believes that principle. Once a triad begins to form, Ace needs to find a way to ensure their love will survive even in the hard times.

Within two months, Ace was sleeping in Carlos’s bunk every night. One month later, the handsome Latino whispered, Te amo mi amor siempre. Ace still heard his tender voice. That was the first time another man had declared love. Ace had to eat his own words. The same night, he gave his body to the one who would become Master.

Carlos had been twice his age, but neither man cared. I’ll always love you, Master. The sentiment filled Ace’s mind. Tyler stirred, bringing him back to the present.

“Shh, baby,” Ace said. “Sleep. You’re safe.”

For two years, Ace had felt safe in Carlos’s arms, too. The Latino’s gentle touch kept him sane. Carlos had given him the freedom to explore sexuality. From puberty, Ace had wanted to kiss boys. As he grew, so did his desires. Carlos became his best friend, lover, partner, and Master. Then one day, it was all over.

Carlos had been in charge of the Prison Masters’s club. He hated the word “gang.” Carlos believed it incited violence. The group was for gay men, including those interested in the BDSM lifestyle. Submissives were also welcomed. A riot between Prison Masters and White Aryan Resistance had broken out. Carlos was shanked. He bled out in Ace’s arms. Ace still wore Master’s collar. More memories of the man he still loved filled his thoughts.

* * * *

“I’ve taught you well, pet.” Carlos’s voice quivered in pain. He reached for Ace’s hand. “I’m so cold.”

“You’re all right. Master, stay awake!”

“Pet, you’re in charge now. You’ll make a good Master, because you’ve known submission.”


“One last scene.”

“Anything, Master.”

“My last order—I bind your submission to me. Never give it to another.”


“Mi amour—”

“Master? Master! Wake up! Dammit, don’t leave me!”

* * * *

Sometimes ten years ago seemed like yesterday. At others, Carlos was a distant memory. Ace didn’t even have a picture of him. The memories lived in his heart. He would always be in love with Carlos Sanchez. Their final scene would be eternally played. Ace had never given submission to another man. Carlos had symbolically bound them in that dynamic forever. Out of respect for Master, he had never spoken of that moment with anyone.

Ace had become a man in his Latin lover’s arms. Carlos had made love to him first. Then, several months into the commitment, they had negotiated their first scene. BDSM had saved Ace, mentally and physically. The positive effects counteracted the negativity of prison life. While it wasn’t completely negated, it made it bearable.

From the first time Carlos had put him in subspace, Ace craved it. It hadn’t just been the cuffs on his hands and ankles, or the way Carlos flogged him, but his lover’s dominant words. The euphoria came slow, arriving like an evening tide. Once Ace surrendered to it, every inch of flesh tingled. He experienced sensations of tunnel vision. Carlos’s face was the only image visible. BDSM quickly became their preferred form of lovemaking.

After Carlos’s death, Ace had assumed leadership of Prison Masters. The club’s members accepted Ace without question. Even though Ace had been Master’s pet, he was now a Dominant man. Since then, he had experienced Domspace, but subspace would always find its way back. Many nights, Ace recalled Carlos’s final order. Raw arousal burned through his body. He would cuff himself, imagining it was Carlos’s hands buckling the leather. The memories slipped him over the edge.

Some of the club’s older men defined him as a switch. Others saw his dominance. Regardless he had earned their respect. Members from rival gangs didn’t lay a hand on anything belonging to Master.

One afternoon, six months ago, Ace had learned it was possible to be in love with three men—Carlos, Paul, and Tyler. The twink in his arms ignited his dominance in ways no other man had, except for Paul Ryder. Paul started work as a guard a year before Carlos’s death.

The blond-haired, soft-spoken man still worked the midnight to noon shift. He was a decent guy, just trying to do his job.

Prison Masters met each morning at breakfast. The group had nearly two dozen members. Even though Paul was on duty, he always seemed to be more interested in their meetings than guarding. Paul had been friends with Carlos, so it was natural to continue the camaraderie with Ace.

A year ago, Paul’s Dom had passed away, leaving the handsome guard an emotional mess. A few months after the man’s death, Ace had eased Paul’s pain, making him feel like a submissive again. Two months before Tyler arrived, both men admitted their love, but held each other at arm’s length. Ace knew it would cost Paul his job to become involved. What type of life would they have with Paul dividing his time between prison and the outside world? Ace feared the heartbreak.

Sure, he had been with other men besides Paul and Tyler. He had fucked, made love, and even been Master to several during play. Men transferred units, and some got paroled. Prison Masters provided a safe, sane, and consensual place to play, but Carlos had whetted his desires for more. While Carlos had awakened his submission, Tyler peaked his dominance. Ace not only wanted to play with the young man, he wanted a commitment again.

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Andrew Jericho is a ManLove erotic romance author for Siren-BookStrand Publishing, and a long supporter of LGBTQ rights. His writing proves love and erotic attraction are the same regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In their purest forms, Andrew has seen those concepts transform characters into better individuals.

He is a gay transgender man, who lives with his partner, John Jericho, and family. He enjoys photography, eclectic tastes in music and the arts, and browsing the local library and art galleries. All of Andrew’s work can be found at: Andrew Jericho.

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Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Michelle Graham

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Iced Latté is now live at most online retail outlets and I'm in the process of adding links to the blog and my website!

This week my guest is Michelle Graham! She has some great advice, so read on. Welcome, Michelle!

Things That Drive Me Nuts As A Reader

I’m a voracious reader. I also judge my RWA chapter’s contest, and I have critiqued many manuscripts in a variety of capacities, from personal to professional. There are some things in books that will make me want to toss my Kindle at the wall or have me screaming in frustration at my computer. Following is a list of things that drives me absolutely nuts and that I wish all aspiring authors could eliminate from their writing. I’ve even seen professional writers do some of these things. No one is perfect.

I’ll admit that I have been guilty of making some of these mistakes myself, but if I had had this list when I started my writing career, I could have avoided a lot of rejection. I hope you find it helpful!

1. Characters who are TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) – “You’ve had 10 beers? Why yes, I think I’d love to let you drive me home.”

2. Damsels in Distress – “Oh, how tragic that I’ve been kidnapped and tied up! If only a big, strong man would come and save me!” (see #1)

3. Misunderstandings – So you saw him having lunch with another woman and instead of asking him, you just assume he’s having an affair and go off and have a snit fit?

4. Ridiculously descriptive language – She plucked the blood-red cherry from the heavily laden tree, which drooped from the weight of its abundantly flavourful load, and savoured the sweet explosion of sticky juice between the impeccably flossed enamel of her teeth.

5. Huge passages of backstory; especially at the beginning – She hung up the phone and remembered every single event from her birth to the phone call in question.

6. Characters who have long internal monologues, especially which feature arguing with themselves – “I’ve always been afraid of commitment. Maybe if I hide and don’t answer the phone, I won’t have to deal with her. But if I don’t deal with her now she’ll just keep calling. How I hate the sound of the phone ringing or her annoying nasal voice. I just won’t answer the phone. But what if she tried to call from a different number and I talked to her by accident? Maybe I should just answer it. I remember a time when I didn’t hate answering the phone…”

7. Typos or incorrect usage – Eye sea your knot a grammer nerd.

8. Trick endings – It was all a dream!

9. A huge cast introduced in the first 2 pages of the book - also a huge cast with similar names (I’m Terry and this is Jerry, Carrie, Larry, Tammy, and Pammy).

10. Endings that drag on – So we lived happily ever after. We had a beautiful wedding with 3 kinds of cake and bridesmaids dresses that had a sweetheart neckline, which matched the bow ties of the groomsmen. Then we went on a beautiful honeymoon and had lots of beautiful sex. Once we got back we bought a beautiful house and made beautiful babies and lived into our eighties and had a slew of great-grandchildren…

Thanks this awesome list, Michelle! My head almost exploded when I read #7. :D Writers, are you guilty of any of these mistakes???

Michelle is a multi-published author with books available from Siren Publishing and Evernight Publishing. She lives in southern Ontario with her husband, son, daughter, and two fur babies.

Twitter: @MichelleGAuthor

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!