So I'm really into Doctor Who right now.

I mean REALLY into it.

Oddly enough, the question "Where have you been all my life" is one that can be answered: on TVO after Polka-Dot Door. I used to shut the TV off as fast as possible when that terrifying theme music started.

With the "new" series (which started in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor) I don't know how I've gone this long without watching it, considering my previous love affairs with Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and assorted other genre TV shows.

Engaging in a new fandom does crazy things to you:

You start to see references everywhere and find out who else is into your fandom.

 

You start to quote things from the show.

 

You laugh at things only other fans would get.

 

You collect pins on Pinterest. (It's currently my most populated board, with over 200 pins.)

 

You make crafts...

Sadly, not bigger on the inside.
Sadly, not bigger on the inside.

...and you Photoshop your own jokes. TENNANT parking only

 

You watch anything and everything associated with show, including symphonies, webisodes, parodies, fan-made videos, blooper reels, behind-the-scenes extrasconvention panelsinterviews, and whatever this is...

...and you pick up shows that your favorite Doctor (or other characters) happen to be on, even if they're remakes of shows they've already done on the BBC.

 

You write fanfic.

This, I'm sure, was their actual reaction.
This, I'm sure, was their actual reaction.

And you dress up and go to fan events.

Allons-y!
Allons-y!

 

And when a new episode is on, you experience a joy like no other.

Happy Dance!

 

This is all a long way of saying...

Doc 10 should be writing

Dear Reporters covering the Romance Writers of America's National Conference,

The Romance Writers of America is hosting its annual conference this week, from July 23-26 in San Antonio, Texas. We know you enjoy covering this event. And those of us in the romance publishing industry love having the spotlight on us. It's a fun story for the summer, and with all the horrible things going on in the world right now, I know this piece of eye candy is much-needed mind sorbet for your readers, listeners and viewers.

That said, I am asking for a moratorium on certain words and phrases too frequently used in reference to romance books and romance writers. While I appreciate not everyone has the same tastes and that your story may only be a fluff piece, romance writers and readers are sick of hearing particular words which have historically been used to denigrate and marginalize our chosen genre.

Not only are these words and phrases overused, they're cliches, and will make you, the reporter, look lazy in your own writing. So eliminate them!

1. "Bodice ripper": this is a term developed in the 70's and 80's when historicals were popular. Today's romances include so much more than Regency-era stories—paranormal, contemporary, romantic suspense, inspirational, erotic romance...please, do your research and take this term out of your romance vocab right away.

2. "Not your mother's romance books": this phrase has no relevance or meaning. Mothers who read romances likely passed down their favorite books to the younger romance readers in their families, inspiring a whole new generation of readers. If you mean to say that levels of sensuality are different from decades previous, then you might want to look a little more closely. Sensuality levels still vary widely book to book, subgenre to subgenre. I guarantee that Fanny Hill (1748) is still much raunchier than any inspirational Christian romance I've ever read.

3. References to Fifty Shade of Grey in either the pejorative or as the superlative example: yes, the movie is coming out soon. And while writers appreciate the success of Fifty Shades, erotica and erotic romance has been around for a long time. Why not look up Sylvia Day, Tiffany Reisz, or Megan Hart? (Note: yes, there is a difference between erotica and erotic romance. Learn it.)

4. "Formula": I've written about the F word before. Romance has often been labelled "formulaic", and yet all fiction is built upon an established guideline for storytelling. If you have to use a word, use framework.

5. Any suggestion that only single, desperate women read romances or lonely housewives or have impossibly standards for their men: No. Just no. Readers get enough flack in public when people on the bus look over their shoulder and say "Oh, you're into THAT, are you?" Yes. We are. Just as I'm sure those judgey types are into murdering young women and burying their bodies in the forest, like in that thriller they've got tucked into their pocket. Romance readers are educated, earn incomes, have families, and strive like anyone else for balance in life. Don't be a douche and paint us with that wide stereotyped brush. Otherwise you'll make us think all reporters are...well, we can leave that. Because you know what people think of your kind, right?

6. "Heaving bosoms": yes, we know the conference is largely attended by women. We have breasts. They heave sometimes because we love what we read, or we're out of breath because we're trying to up the counts on our Fitbits. Your mother has breasts, too. So does your dad for that matter. You probably spent the early years of your life smushed up against them, or possibly feeding from them. Keep that in mind and please, don't use this cliche to describe conference attendees.

7. Purple prose: romance writers actually try to avoid this as much as possible. And so should you. Failure to avoid purple prose only makes us believe you actually yearn to join us in writing romance...and we'd welcome you with open arms and heaving bosoms if that's what you want to do. If not, then please, for Elmore Leonard's sake, drop the frills.

 8. "Harlequin" used as a generic term: my personal pet peeve since, full disclosure, I work there full-time in addition to writing for them—Harlequin Enterprises is a company, and is probably best known for their romances. But not all romances are from Harlequin, obviously.

9. Fabio: don't get me wrong. Everyone loves Fabio. He has a special place in romance book lore, but like Fifty Shades, he is not the be all and end all of hero archetypes. We're all different women. We all like different kinds of men and women.

Hey, I get it. With this wealth of colorful material surrounding you, how can you resist the glistening muscles of male cover models attending as guests? How can you not comment on the pageantry of romance writer prom?

Well, do. But do so respectfully. If you find yourself snarking more than smiling, looking down your nose because you think these women can't find real jobs or can't find a man because you think they have impossibly high standards, you picked the wrong story assignment. And we'll know it. Don't be that guy.

By refraining from using any of these phrases while reporting on the conference, you'll help dissolve a long-held bias against readers and writers of genre fiction for women. And you'll also earn the respect of millions of smart, social-media savvy women.

Thanks, reporters.

Respectfully yours,
Vicki Essex

Tonight could lead to my biggest giveaway ever!

UFC champion Ronda Rousey fight's Canada's Alexis Davis tonight at UFC 175. While I don't have favorites, I gotta cheer for the hometown girl, and I hope my fans will, too.

So here's the deal: if Alexis Davis wins tonight, I will give away 10 copies of IN HER CORNER to anyone who posts a comment on this blog entry!

For now, though, enter to win one signed copy on my Rafflecopter giveaway: it's on my Contests page, too.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And check out the UFC's Countdown to UFC 175: Ronda Rousey vs Alexis Davis:

 

GOOD LUCK, ALEXIS!

I’ve previously blogged about the Avengers and their suitability in bed: now it’s time to get *snikt snikt* X-TRA KINKY!

(Note: I know, I didn't list them all, but I can only stretch my imagination so far...)

wolverine-x-men-days-of-future-past-bone-claws1. Wolverine
Played by: Hugh Jackman
Mutant powers: superfast healing, Adamantium skeleton and retractable claws
Let’s face it. The guy never ages, he’s got muscles bigger than your head, and if you’re into BDSM, he heals instantly. Your only challenge would be keeping up with him. And he’s Hugh freakin’ Jackman. Even if the mutton chops and claws don’t do it for you, Hugh’s singing might.

xavier magneto bed2. Younger Magneto/Younger Charles Xavier (ménage)
Played by: Michael Fassbender/James McAvoy
Mutant powers: ability to manipulate metal/world’s greatest telepath
You might think it’s somehow unfair to tag team these two in a battle for bedroom dominance, but when I see these hotties on screen together, it’s like being presented with two cupcakes and being told I can only take one bite. Naturally, I smash the two cupcakes together and shove the whole mess in my mouth. Fassbender’s cold conviction as Magneto is tempered by McAvoy’s softer but equally as intense Xavier. These two sizzle on screen. Throw in some silk sheets, maybe a pair of plastic (nonmagnetic) handcuffs and you know there’ll be fun times ahead.

xmen-days-of-future-past-poster-mystique3. Mystique
Played by: Jennifer Lawrence
Mutant Powers: shapeshifter, superagility, superhealing
Guys. She can turn into anyone. Anyone. That means anyone on this list is fair game…unless she kicks you in the head first.

 

Nicholas-Hoult-as-Hank-McCoy-in-human-form4. Younger Beast
Played by: Nicholas Hoult
Mutant powers: superagility, superstrength, high intellect, some monstrosity
I’m not wild about bestiality, but I do love me a brain. As non-blue-furred Hank McCoy, I’d be hard pressed not to lead this nerdy cutie off on a leash. Surely someone who can hang upside down from the ceiling by his toes can provide some interesting evening entertainment?

Xmen-Days-of-Future-Past-Fighting-Professor-X5. Older Charles Xavier
Played by: Sir Patrick Stewart
Mutant powers: world’s greatest telepath
First, I don’t think Patrick Stewart has aged at all in the past 20 years—there’s probably a holodeck program somewhere of him getting older. Second, he’s a telepath. He could do anything to your brain—set you in an exotic locale, make himself look like anyone you wanted. He wouldn’t have to touch you to blow your mind.

Least Doable X-Men

anna-paquins-rogue-cut-from-x-men-days-of-future-past-151697-a-1387632295-470-751. Rogue
Played by: Anna Paquin
Mutant powers: absorbing the powers and life force of anyone she touches
It’s not that I don’t like her, or think she’s ugly anything like that. But her mutant power pretty much says it all; if I even touched her, I’d be dead, or maybe I'd end up looking like a shriveled condom drying out in the sun.

james-marsden-and-x-men-profile2. Cyclops
Played by: James Marsden
Mutant powers: optic blasts from his eyes
The ongoing joke I have about James Marsden is that he always plays the other guy. If (God forbid) they remade Casablanca, Marsden would play Victor Laszlo. They should make another superhero movie and cast him as Cockblocker, whose superpower is to be the jock boyfriend to every relationship. Cyclops is a cutie, sure, and leader of the X-Men, but let’s face it, he’s no Wolverine, and he seems to perpetually get the short end of the stick.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Quicksilver-889x10243. Quicksilver
Played by: Evan Peters
Mutant powers: superspeed
Aside from the fact that he’s a minor, something tells me this kid would literally last a fraction of a second. And yet, I still ranked Cyclops as less doable.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Bolivar-Trask4. Dr. Bolivar Trask
Played by: Peter Dinklage
Mutant powers: none (human genius)
Okay, so technically, he's not a part of the X-Men, but c'mon. Peter Dinklage. And yes, I would do him over Cyclops.

 

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-character-photo-Ian-McKellen-as-Magneto5. Older Magneto
Played by: Sir Ian McKellen
Mutant powers: master of magnetism
With all due respect to Mr. McKellen, whose talents I revere, boinking older Magneto would be exhausting (if he was a child during WWII, he'd be about 80 now). But I’d still do him over Cyclops.

Honorable mentions (for the underused X-Men)

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Bishop-1024x1012Bishop
Played by: Omar Sy
Mutant powers: energy absorption and redirection
Only Thor can wear a cape as well as this guy does, but Bishop has dreadlocks. He may not have had much of a role in the film, but I’d totally hit that.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Colussus-904x1024Colossus
Played by: Daniel Cudmore
Mutant powers: ability to transform body into organic steel; superstrength,
Look at him. I mean, look at him. Seriously, can we say “hard as steel” like *that* (snaps) about any of the other X-Men?

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Storm-872x1024Storm
Played by: Halle Berry
Mutant powers: weather control
So Storm’s one of the most powerful X-Men out there and was played by an Academy Award-winning actress…yet they couldn’t give her anything interesting to do over 7 movies. Pity boink?

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Kitty-Pryde-812x1024Kitty Pryde
Played by: Ellen Page
Mutant power: can phase through matter
Another wonderful character played by a fantastic actress, and yet they replaced her crucial comic book role in the Days of Future Past storyline with Wolvie. A tendency to become incorporeal might be problematic during coitus.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Iceman-960x1024Iceman
Played by: Shawn Ashmore
Mutant power: creates and manipulates ice and water
Adorable Canadian actor; could make all my drinks cold instantly. But I think I friendzoned him in the second film.

Meet Tina Belcher, the eldest daughter of Bob Belcher from the TV show Bob's Burgers. I would like to nominate her for Patron Saint of Romance Writers.

 

She's humble...

but not too humble.

 

She's committed to her craft:

She asks for writing materials for Christmas gifts.

She's always doing research.

And she's not afraid to share her stories, even if she risks criticism.

 

She's prolific.

 

She's not afraid to push the boundaries in her writing...

or mix genres...even in her own fantasies.

Why yes, zombie angel erotica IS the new hotness.
Uh...well...I guess there's a market for this somewhere...

She doesn't limit her own desires.

And she's not ashamed of her fantasies.

 

She knows what she likes.

And she uses her passion to fuel her stories.

 

Most important of all, she knows what romance is all about:

 

Make Tina Belcher your patron saint today!

Back to the Good Fortune Diner
Back to the Good Fortune Diner

It's always nice to hear good things about your book a year after it's been published. I love Sarah for talking about BTTGFD so much, and selling it to New York Times bestselling author and X-Men and Marvel universe writer Marjorie M. Liu, an author I've admired for a long time.

Marjorie and Sarah talk about some awesome stuff, including what it's like to be a woman of color writer. I fully agree with what she has to say. You can read the transcript here. You can also listen to the podcast here.

An excerpt:

Marjorie: You’re killing me. The description of it, like, the way you describe this book sounds amazing.

Sarah: I thought it was so great.

Marjorie: That is a total must-read.

ENDORSEMENT FROM MARJORIE M. LIU, YOU GUYS. And she hasn't even read it!

And further:

Sarah: ....The thing about Superromance is that often I think they, the writers are encouraged to pack as much as humanly possible into these little tiny books, and so sometimes there’s so many big issues that they can’t reconcile all of them, but the fact that they brought them up in the first place, I’m just like, this is great! Please feel free to rip my heart out and hand it to me –

Marjorie: See, I –

Sarah: - it’s totally fine!

Marjorie: I have to tell you, like, just your base description of this book sounds like it would be, like, if, if it was published outside Harlequin, like in some quote-unquote, like, highbrow, literary press –

Sarah: I know!

Marjorie: - people would be talking about it, like, across the nation.

Just in case...If there are any "highbrow literary presses" out there interested in a new adult fantasy set in the final days of the Wild West, you should contact my agent. 8 )

Round 1 voting started yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, I was at home with the plague and I was all

and as the day wore on I was all

Even so, in between the bouts of extreme fever, chills and aches, I was all

So I rallied the troops, spamming friends and family far and wide. And while I was all

and hoped people would be all

I was pretty sure a lot of my Twitter followers were like

As the day wore on, I stayed just behind Abby Green, with a slowly growing gap between us. By the evening, it was like

with an 11% gap between us. So I started bribing as much as I could and was all

by offering up yummy men like

and

and

And it was all Abby could do to stay awake to watch me empty my guns because she was all

and I was all

In the end, though, no amount of sexy, shirtless men could close that gap, and my illness had defeated me. I was so sick, I was pretty much all

While Abby was all

So while I was defeated, I believe, if Abby is sleep deprived today, that maybe it was a Pyrrhic victory.

Being a part of DABWAHA has been awesome, and I'm really happy to have been nominated. Thanks to everyone who voted for me and filled out a bracket. Good luck to the next round entries!

Back to the Good Fortune Diner selected as a 2014 DABWAHA finalist!

Friends, family, fans, I NEED YOUR HELP!

My 2013 book, BACK TO THE GOOD FORTUNE DINER, was nominated as a finalist for the DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors) tournament and I need your votes to help me get to the next tier of competition!

Basically, it's March Madness for romance books. I'm up against 7 other titles vying for top spot in the category romance division, with 64 titles in all. There are all kinds of prizes up for grabs, including Amazon gift cards and Kindles, so sign up and you could WIN!

DEADLINE to vote is MARCH 17, 11:59 p.m.

Follow the instructions here: http://dabwaha.com/how-to-play-2/

Very simply...

1. Go to THIS PAGE: http://www.mysideline.com/u/18566/custom/tournamententry.htm 

2. Fill out your nickname, first name, last name and email address on the upper right hand corner of the chart.

3. Click on "(12) Back to the Good Fo" (right side, sixth from top in Region 3) until it fills every column up to Round 6 (it should appear in the Round 6 column twice.)

4. Fill in the rest of the chart by clicking on the titles you think will win in each round, making sure Back to the Good Fortune Diner remains in the final spot in Round 6.

5. Click on the Submit Picks button below the chart. Then tell your friends to do this, too. Because I love you all, and you are awesome.

dabwaha screen cap

If I win,

I will shower you all with gifs and smother you with eternal gratitude. It's a huge honor to be selected by these two very well-known blogs, but my goal is to CRUSH THE COMPETITION. (Smack talk is a traditional part of this tourney.)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, go to the site
and GET ME TO THE FINALS!

Here are a few endorsement/bribes, meanwhile:

Captain Hook encourages you to vote for Back to the Good Fortune Diner and get your friends and family to vote, too!
Stephen Amell of Arrow is pumped to vote for Back to the Good Fortune Diner in DABWAHA.
Jeremy Renner will be disappointed if you don't vote for Back to the Good Fortune Diner at DABWAHA.
Benedict Cumberbatch is on his way to vote for Back tot he Good Fortune Diner on DABWAHA.

 

Loki Hiddleston learned the meaning of love from Back to the Good Fortune Diner. He's voting for it, too.
Idris Elba loved Back to the Good Fortune Diner and will be voting for it. That's not poor phrasing, folks.

 

VOTE FOR BACK TO THE GOOD FORTUNE DINER NOW!

 

 

Back to the Good Fortune Diner, Jan. 2013
Back to the Good Fortune Diner

I am so excited to be on the DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors) Category list for 2013! For those of you not familiar with the event, the posses at Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books select finalists to faceoff with each other in a tourney-style reader-selected death match. Meaning from all the category romance books published last year, mine was picked to be one of 8!

Stay tuned for tourney instructions!

Back to the Good Fortune Diner selected as a 2014 DABWAHA finalist!
Back to the Good Fortune Diner selected as a 2014 DABWAHA finalist!