I got to be as bad as I wanna be (laughing). Seriously, I loved my characters from "we were one once." They take center stage for me-appropriate since it's a romance, right? There are two Alphas, both obsessed with the same woman. She's fragile and weak, intense and stubborn, lost and unbalanced, resilient and decisive. She's complicated and so is the story. It isn't a love triangle or ménage though. wwoo is a steady buildup of suspense from the exploration of the characters themselves, all within a very plausible plot full of twists.
Plenty of 'bad things' happen (hence, the dark part to the genre), and I don't shield my readers from any of that. They're along for the full ride, through all of the ugly and beautiful. There's a quote in the book that sums up what I love most I think: "I won't call it love. I won't degrade what we have with such a small word. Love is what made me a fool before. I'm not a fool with him; I'm his match. That's so much more than love could ever be. It's perfection at its ugliest darkness." There's plenty of love in wwoo, but I love that it's defined by each of the characters in unique (sometimes ugly, sometimes bad, sometimes beautiful) ways.
It was kismet. Like a lot of folks out there, I had an idea for a book that had been rattling around in my head for some time. My idea just happened to be based on a recurring, 10-minute self-gratification fantasy. (Okay, maybe it was a little longer than 10-minutes ;)
The moment I was seriously thinking about whether I could or couldn't write a book, I was flipping through a magazine and came across a piece about a woman who was doing exactly what I was thinking of doing (not the gratification part). The article made the whole process of indie publishing sound so easy-ya know, point-click-ta-da. I took it as a nudge from the forces that be and started writing that day.
I didn't learn just how not easy self-publishing truly is until several weeks later when I first started wading through all the information online about it. By then, I was already finished with my first story, and my characters had me in their grip. There was no turning back.
Trent Evans ("Spanked Wives Club") - A man writing erotica? Sign me up! Trent's books take me out of my comfort zone, and I need that sometimes. It's his willingness to dig deep into the bonds of his characters (not just the ones around their wrists either ;) that reminds me that no matter what the dynamics are, it's the love that is shared that is most important.
Willow S. Brooks ("A Debt Requited") - Willow B. writes uniquely OTT Alphas and makes no bones about it. She's not afraid to take risks with her characters, and the payoff is a story that is equal parts shocking, titillating, and dramatic. I take comfort in knowing I'm among a growing number of authors that are embracing the idea that an OTT Alpha doesn't need to be changed in order to have a HEA.
19 ("Schadenfreude") - Teeny's writing is sublime. It's raw, elegant, simple, and Gestalt. Even though 19 writes in a genre that isn't my usual cuppa (m/m), the connection that he creates with his characters is so genuine that I get lost in it every time. "Unspeakably beautiful evil" is what he calls his works. It certainly speaks to my need to let loose with my own writing. Not all evil is all bad after all ;)
Pepper Winters ("Tears of Tess") - I might be in the minority here in thinking that Pepper doesn't write OTT in terms of Dark Romances, but I found in "Tess" a kindred spirit of dark desires. Being able to create an anti-hero worthy of being loved for exactly how he is, not only by his heroine but by readers of all different tastes, that's the quintessential beauty of this genre to me.
Blue Rabella ("Window Display") - Blue's stories are a little different for me. They're sweet and sensual, with only a hint of darkness. She easily plays with what would be cliché tropes in the hands of a less refined writer, but gives them such unique perspectives each time that her works are vividly refreshing. Blue's writing goes to show that an author can be appreciated for providing a fresh angle to a favorite genre, even Dark Romance with it's various meanings to different readers. I almost think of this as my creed.
My editor is Q (editingbyq.com). I don't know how I ever wrote without her! She has an in-depth knowledge of the Romance and Erotic genres, an uncanny sense for sniffing out potential trouble spots for readers, and a diplomatic way of slapping my ass when I need it (grammatically speaking of course). I trust her implicitly. I know that she's going to give my books the same care each time, that I'll get back the feedback I need, and that the end result will be exactly what I had in mind. My work is more me than it would have been without the extra set of eyes on it.
My top tip is a simple one-be honest with yourself and do your research. Editors offer different levels of services at different prices, whether it's a simple copy proof or a more thorough copy editing. Be honest with yourself about the level of service that you'll need to get the result that you want.
The research part is a bit harder. I'd start by taking a look at the books that you like. See if the authors accredit any editors. Chances are, since you like the end result, you may appreciate working with that same company yourself. Using one of your own works, ask for a 'first 5 pages' example of the service level you are interested in. Then sit back and wait to see red.