Saturday, March 19, 2011

Consistent pickles

I'm writing two books at once. One is for my erotic romance publisher, so I've got to put the sex in there. In a way, it's not as difficult since I know the expectations.

The other is a mainstream for my agent, and I just alluded to a sex scene coming up, but I'm not really excited about writing it. C'mon Ashlyn, it's already Chapter 9 for Frig's sake! I have a reputation to uphold! My reputation as a dirty girl!

Even my mainstream books are plenty sexy. I find it kind of amusing when my latest series (considered totally mainstream) comes with warnings from reviewers about the graphic sex contained within the scorching pages. Hey, what can I say? To me, sex is a natural part of a growing love affair.

Anyone who buys my future books after reading my series is going to expect a certain "Ashlyness" or as my editor and I have come to call it "consistent pickles."
Okay--I'd better explain that. Book 2 (The Werewolf Upstairs) was much hotter than book 1 (Strange Neighbors) until my editor read it. She said, "Think of it this way: If a customer goes to a burger place one week and they pile on the pickels, but the next week there are no pickels, people are going to get upset. They want to know what to expect when they order the same meal." So, okay, translated into publishing, that means readers want to know what heat level to expect from an Ashlyn Chase book.

So, I promised her consistent pickles and eliminated one sex scene. It made sense. Who wants to make love while nursing a freshly sprained ankle anyway?

I'm glad I kept the bedroom door open even in my mainstream books. People will not be shocked when they buy my backlist, (and my backlist has received a serious boost since the series began.) So far, no complaints from the fans. Whew! I guess my editor is right about the consistent pickles.

However...if I were to write a YA, I'd change my pen name and create a whole new website. Now that I realize how interested new fans can be in everything you do, I want to share that with up and coming authors out there. I recently went to a woman's website who had written and self-published a YA, but on her website are her erotic romances--under the same pen name. I wish I'd seen at least some kind of caveat, like "Hey, kiddies, these books aren't for you." So far, I've been minding my own business, but should I? What do you all think?


Desiree Holt said...

I agree. I'm all for consistent pickles. Your readers have a certain level of expectation and new readers will b e captured by the flavor of your pickles. I think we all struggle with that now and then but changing a recipe doesn't necessarily make it better. BTW, I totally love this series and highly recommend it.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks so much, Desiree!

I love you for saying that about my series. (grin)

Regina Carlysle said...

I think your editor was right about this. Readers expect certain things from their favorite authors and when they veer from the expected course, readers are disappointed. Now the thing with a YA author using her erotic pen name? That's just dangerous territory.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks, Regina.

I agree. It might be something she has to learn the hard way.

Mai said...

I agree with the other ladies, I want my 5 pickles lmao :)

I adore this series, can't wait for the next one.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thank you, Mai!

Big sloppy kisses.

Kate Hill said...

I've written both erotic and traditional romance under the same name. I don't have a problem with different heat levels as long as the books are marketed accordingly. I don't write YA, but if I did I would use a different name and wouldn't market them with my adult romances.

Virginia E said...

Folks that want to be picky will whine no matter what you do. That being said, it seems to be easier and a tad safer to drop to a sweeter level of romance. Most of your devoted fans will follow with only wistful whines. However, smut up your previously sweet romances and you're pretty much assured of prissy prudes screaming away in the largest caps they can find that you've sunk to writing pornography and your books now suck and they are going to boycott you forever followed by three or more lines of exclamation points.

So have fun and enjoy your pickles. I miss being able to find nice garlic dills instead of shelves full of various varieties of sweet pickles.

Ashlyn Chase said...

LOL, Virginia. I'm glad I started with the hot stuff in that case. I got all the outrage out of the way early on. Now people who read my stuff want more heat, not less.

Maggie Nash said...

I agree with Desiree. A reader has an expectation associated with an author name...they know what they're getting when they buy them. In fact that's why they buy them!

So if I was going to do a different type of book I'd go for a different name. It doesn't matter that the readers know it's's more about when they want hot they buy one name, and if they want YA, they buy one name, and if they want something totally different...another name :-)

So I am all for consistency within a name :-) Go for the same level of sex! It rocks!

VenusBookluvr said...

I think consistency is the key! I love your pickles and when I read one of your books I know what to expect.
As a writer if you want to go in a completely new direction and stretch your artistic chops I say go for it but perhaps under a pen name ;-)

Grace Burrowes said...

If only it were as simple as pickles! I think there can be a consistent level of intensity, of heat, without there being a consistent level of explicitness. This is probably what you mean when you refer to "Ashlynness," and provided there's emotional intensity to go with the erotic intensity, I'm all for it.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thank you for your input everyone. At first I was thinking my editor was wrong--that the characters dictated how much sex was in a book. In fact I told her "I just couldn't keep these two out of bed!" LOL. She insisted on eliminating at least one sex scene, and I'm glad I did it.

I already offended my physical therapist who had no idea it would be that "racey." Oh well. Now he knows.

Mia Marlowe said...

I guess this is what they mean when they talk about "author branding." Readers do have a right to expect certain things from authors, however, I think the level of sensuality should be dictated by the needs of the story, not the needs of the market. Some scenarios lend themselves to lots of spicy adventures. For others, if you try to wedge extraneous sexual scenes in, they ring false. My motto is always to follow the story. My characters will tell me when it's time to take the plunge.

I think your stories are terrific, Ashlyn. I love your Strange Neighbors series!

Denise A. Agnew said...

My opinion is probably not the ordinary one, but I believe heat level should be whatever that particular book and characters ask for. :)

Denise A. Agnew

anny cook said...

I'm with Denise. Whatever the characters want. Having said that...if the story was extremely different in heat level or subject matter unsuitable to some readers, then I would use a different name.

Naima said...

I'm late...obviously. LOL! But there are certain authors I read that I pick the book up, not only expecting a great story, but a certain level of sensuality. And if its not, I'm kind of disappointed. Well, actually, my reaction is WTF??? LOL! Also, though, I agree with Mia, Denise and Anny. The characters and story should determine how often, how many positions and how many people...hee-hee! It shouldn't be gratuitous whether it's an erotic romance or mainstream.

And, Ash, I for one love your pickles!! LOL!

Dalton Diaz said...

But I love pickles! Especially big fat kosher dills. Life just wouldn't be the same without them.