As you may know, Alison Kent has written The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, which will hit the shelves tomorrow, September 5th!!!

She’s broken the book down into entertaining, easy to understand chapters full of advice, warnings, and bits of dialogue from some of the hottest erotic romance authors out there.

Larissa Ione and I volunteered to discuss Chapter 2, Ready, Set, Go.

Larissa: This is my favorite of the CIG chapters. Okay, maybe it’s because Alison mentions me in it (I’m the EMT/Air Force person she talks about.)

Steph: How do you know it’s not me that she’s talking about? Oh, right, I’m not former Air Force or an EMT. I liked the chapter anyway…

One of the four bulleted topics of discussion in the chapter is “Tips For Deciding What You’re Best Suited to Write.”

Larissa: Well, she talks about that old favorite bit of advice, “Write what you know,” and I’m a firm believer in that. But like she says, that doesn’t mean you can’t write about astronauts if you aren’t one. It means that if you write about what interests you, the story will turn out that much more interesting for the reader—not to mention that much more authentic.

Steph, what say you?

Steph: I am obviously not a, write what you know, kind of girl. I fall more in the, Write What You Love To Read and Write What You Want To Read, categories, which Alison covers in this chapter as well. I love reading military heroes and I couldn’t get my hands on enough of them, so I started writing them! Alison also talks about writing what stirs your emotions and interests, and I love this quote in particular: “Your readers are reading for the romance. They don’t want to be lectured or preached to. They will, however, be sucked into any story with a true emotional resonance.”

Larissa: Ah, but you DO write what you know. Just because you didn’t serve in the Navy doesn’t mean you don’t know about your subject. I think what Alison is trying to say is that writing what you know (whether through direct experience or research or interest,) will lend an authenticity you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Steph: Hate you.

Larissa: Awww…you always know how to make me smile.

The next bulleted topic is “The Indisputable Value of Research.”

Larissa: I’m a HUGE researcher, because errors in books will turn me off of an author forever. But she’s not just talking about the book’s subject matter. She talks about choosing the length of the book. Discusses Trade vs. Mass Market paperbacks. And very importantly, choosing your heat level.

Steph: Obviously, since I’m not writing what I know, having never served in the military, I rely on research. And Larissa. And her husband. I read as many firsthand accounts as I can and use many different sources. I would say that most of the research never makes it into the actual books, but it’s important for the author to know much more than the reader ever sees. Or as Alison puts it, …”you’re writing a romance novel, not a textbook or instruction manual. Believe it or not, what you leave out is as vital as what you put in.” Alison also gives a wonderful breakdown on the rise of erotica and the ebook market.

Larissa: What you say is one of the reasons I love a well-researched books. Even if you don’t use every drop of research, or even 3/4ths of it, you will still have gotten into the world enough to know the lingo, the attitudes of the characters…and that alone will lend a well-researched, realistic feel to the book. For example, a Navy SEAL will look at the same stone and think about it in a completely different way than a geologist.

Geologist: This is a beautiful example of a bird’s eye limestone of intertidal origin.

SEAL: I could take out that idiot geologist with that ugly rock.

Larissa: You are both morons. One of you get me a beer.

Steph: *wonders if Larissa has head injury*

Larissa: *thinks Steph could use an entire six pack*

Next, we have “Got Your Idea Ducks In A Row? Then Start Writing!”

Larissa: Something she is firm about is that there comes a time when you have to stop doing to the background work and finally START WRITING.

I know people who will spend so much time researching and prepping that they never get around to writing the book. Eventually, they’ve researched themselves into burnout. I also know people who start writing without researching at all…and only when the book is done do they go back and do the ground work.

I’m a combination of the two. I usually start a book after minimal research, but at about chapter three, I find that in order to proceed, I need to research.

Steph: I’m a combination of the two, but it always begins for me with the writing first. I usually get the story idea, write the first few chapters and then begin my research. It’s usually around this time that I begin to make things up. Some of the things I make up will turn out to have a basis in reality and I get to keep them. Others, I wait for Larissa to find and fix. Because, you know, that counts as research. Totally.

Larissa: You’re on your migraine meds, aren’t you?

And finally, we have “Fitting Into The Market.”

Steph: As Alison says, “you’ve already determined your story’s level of heat, which is important.” But she reminds us that the time period and even your story’s length can help you determine the subgenre your book will fall into. She helps you narrow down your choices in order to bring the strongest possible conflict to your work.

Larissa: What Steph and Alison said.

Steph: So, are you buying this book or what? You should. Larissa and I have gotten to see more than just this one chapter, because, you know, we’re special. And the book is full of great information on writing in general, as well as writing hot.

Oh, and we’re giving away a copy (OMG, just wrote cop – wouldn’t that be funny – we’re giving away a cop as a prize) as well!!! The post is the same on both blogs, but the questions at the end are different…and answering BOTH questions will double your chance of winning.

What I want to know is, what book release(s) are you most looking forward to this fall? Besides Alison’s Complete Idiot’s Guide, that is.

The winner will be chosen at random from the comments here and at Larissa’s site, so comment on both to double your chances of winning! The contest will remain open until Friday, and then winner will be annouced on Saturday! Good luck!!!

Steph T.