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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Find a Good Critique Partner (Tips from Author Lily Harlem!)

Hello Fellow Writers!

I just read one of Ellora's Cave's free reads (what they call "Naughty Nooners") and my first thought was wow - that's a really good, hot story. And free? Sign me up! Now I want to read all the Naughty Nooners!

So anyway, after I read Stockholm Seduction, I emailed the author Lily Harlem and told her how awesome it was, and asked her a couple questions - such as how did you go from aspiring writer to published author? She had a lot of great info to share and she said I could share it with you folks: 

Lily Harlem:  "I first got published through a competition win. Spring 2009 I entered the Love Honey Vulgari Award for Erotic Fiction. I'd entered other writing comps before but nothing erotic - in fact I hadn't even tried to write anything saucy. I dreamed up a tale about the first female president of the US having a secret and passionate affair with the British PM!! It was a wild ride in the Oval Office and a Love Honey sex toy had to be incorporated into the story. I blushed the whole time I was writing it and then hit send never expecting to hear back. You can imagine my surprise when they called and told me I'd won first place in the long story section. Yippee!

"It was financially rewarding but more than that it gave me a massive boost of confidence as I realized I'd finally found my genre. And phew, what a genre! I got writing, writing and writing. I checked out the Erotic Reader and Writer Association on line, they have lists of calls for submissions. I sent off loads of short stories and got plenty of rejections, ranging from 'we like your voice but this is not what we're looking for at the moment' to just 'your writing skills are not strong enough for us'. But I kept on writing and gradually the acceptance emails started to come through - very exciting and worth the disappointment of getting the rejections.

"The best bit of advice I would give my pre-published self is to stick to short stories. I wasted literally hundreds of hours on a few full length novels that were just rubbish. It's so much easier to play around with shorter ones and get them just right without addling your brain. Also find a good crit. partner. Someone who is already into the genre and can pick out glaring mistakes, for example if you're writing about a wild orgy, you don't want someone so shocked by the content that they won't notice if your characters are doing things that are physically impossible!"

Good point there, Lily! I completely rely on my beta readers to save me from embarrassing mistakes... once I changed the Hero's name halfway through. Um, oops. Thanks beta reader, lol!

Here’s the blurb for her fast paced, kinky kidnap…

I was having a fabulous extended gap year in Oz. Sun, sea, sand and seriously hot surfers rolling in on every wave. Mmm, what could possibly be better?
But then I was taken…taken against my will. Stolen like a prized object. I was tied up, held for ransom. I didn’t know if I would survive, if I would walk away alive. And then, to top it all off, I was tortured in the sweetest, most delicious, most sensual way imaginable.
That was when I realized my fun down under had only just begun.

If you want to read Lily's free book Stockholm Seduction, click here.


  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I like the part about sticking to short stories. I think I will take that advice for right now, and try for some success that way before moving onto bigger things.

  2. Good advice. My kingdom for a good critique partner!

  3. Since I have great critique partners I agree that they are needed.

  4. Me too Janet! The writers who beta read my stuff have been such a huge help.

  5. Having someone you trust read your work is so helpful to the process. I like the thought of working on shorter pieces for a while to build up a list of titles in your name. I might try my hand at a few more novellas.

  6. Great post Shoshanna! It's so nice to hear authors' stories.


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