Archive for July, 2012

RWA 2012 Wrap Up

Monday, July 30th, 2012

disney RWA 2012 was my fifth conference; I’ve been to the last three in a row, and before that was at Reno in 2005 and Denver in 2002. With that many under my belt I am learning that each conference has its own vibe, and some are happier and, well, lighter than others. This was an upbeat, optimistic conference. I wasn’t the only one that noticed; there was more than one comment to that effect on twitter, and several people made that observation to me in person.

Part of the reason is that last year the industry was in transition and everyone felt a little tense. Everyone knew that digital publishing was having an impact and no one was quite sure what that impact would be for traditional publishers – or for authors. (more…)

RWA 2012 – The First Full Day of the Conference

Friday, July 27th, 2012

carinacovers As always, the Romance Writers of America conference is an almost overwhelming flurry of activity. On the one hand, I love walking through the hotel and hearing snippets of conversations from writers, editors, agents, and others. On the other hand, it can be something of a dizzying whirl. I’ve enjoyed catching up with folks I get to see only once a year, and I’ve gotten to meet some of the authors whose books I’ve loved, which is always a thrill. The sharing of ideas is quite contagious as people exchange information, tips, and gossip. As I’ve spoken to various authors, publishing houses, and agents, a few topics have already come up over and over again.
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RWA 2012: News From Anaheim

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

literacysigningRWA 2012 began early yesterday for Lynn Spencer and me; we started the day at Disneyland (first time for her, umpteenth for me). Only one thing could tear me away: The annual literary signing. I only got to ride Space Mountain once, but I did get to catch up with lots of authors and find out what they’re up to. Here’s what’s new and exciting:

I caught up with Tessa Dare first. Her latest Spindle Cove book (featuring Kate and Thorne) is out in August. After that, there’s one more…featuring Pauline, the serving girl at the tavern. I asked if she’s really a serving girl. Instead of, you know, a secret countess or something. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Kate Noble’s next book is about Bridget, the sister of If I Fall‘s heroine. But she’s also working on The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern web video and interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Sounds like fun.

Carrie Lofty has several balls in the air. She still has a couple of books to write in the Christie series, but is also collaborating on a contemporary erotica series with fighter pilots in Las Vegas. They’ll be released under a new name – Katie Porter. I couldn’t help asking whether her unusual historicals were a hard sell. She said she had a supportive editor at Pocket who enjoyed unusual settings (and signed both her and Meredith Duran). Vive la Difference! (And if you’re not reading her books yet, you should be).

And speaking of unusual settings and characters, Delilah Marvelle’s next project has a heroine who stutters and a bare-knuckle boxer hero. It’s called Forever a Lord. after that she’ll turn her attention to the French Revolution, with a series of books set in both England and France.

Molly O’Keefe is looking ahead to a contemporary series set in a small Southern town. I had to ask whether anyone marries the sheriff…apparently not. So you can write a small town series sans sheriff. I knew it! I told her our reviewers fight over her books, which is true.

Victoria Dahl’s new series is set in Jackson Hole, with cowboy heroes. Apparently they all live in an old farm house that’s been turned into an apartment building and appropriately named The Stud Farm (because of the landlady’s propensity to accept only hot tenants). Obviously, this apartment building should be closer to my house. And yours.

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Arranged Marriages: Pixar vs. Sherry Thomas

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

handsThere were many things I loved about Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress, secondary characters notwithstanding.  The writing.  Fitz and Millie.  The writing.  (Can you tell I love it?)  But there’s one particular aspect that stands out, and that’s how Ms. Thomas treats an arranged marriage.

I saw Pixar’s Brave the same weekend that I finished Ravishing the Heiress, and the contrast could not have been greater.  In the first, Scottish princess Merida rebels against her mother, traditional feminine pursuits, and the whole idea of an arranged marriage.  Forget embroidery, and to hell with marrying one of the chieftain’s sons to keep the clans together – Merida will win her own hand in marriage.  I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that by the end Merida will have reached a new understanding with her mother and learned the value of compromise – but she sure ain’t married either.

Things are different in Ravishing the Heiress, besides the obvious differences in audience (it’s a romance) and form (it’s a novel – duh).  Millie loves Fitz, and Fitz loves someone else.  But does Millie refuse the marriage because she wants to marry for love, and wait until he recognizes his love for her?  Nope.  Millie’s family wants social standing and Millie has been groomed for this her entire life; and Fitz needs to restore the decrepit estate.  So Millie goes through with it.  And it takes eight years – read that, eight years – before their relationship becomes true love.

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More on Diversity

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I have never read a book by Tana French and the first time I saw her name was in the Eagerly Awaited August Books where both Dabney and Lynn indicate that they are looking forward to her new release Broken Harbor.  Then while surfing the Web, I came across  her name again.  She wrote an article for Publishers Weekly outlining her writing tips.

A few of them didn’t resonate, but this one did:

There’s no such thing as ‘men’ or ‘women’. There’s only the individual character you’re writing. One guy emailed me asking me how to write women, and I couldn’t answer, because I had no idea which woman he meant: me? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Lady Gaga? If you’re thinking of ‘men’ or ‘women’ as a monolithic group defined primarily by their sex, then you’re not thinking of them as individuals; so your character isn’t going to come out as an individual, but as a collection of stereotypes. Sure, there are differences between men and women on average – but you’re writing an individual, not an average. If your individual character is chatty on the phone or refuses to ask for directions, that needs to be because of who he or she is, not because of what he or she is. Write the person, not the genitalia.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Results

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Halfway to the GraveOurs is a different sort of poll this year.  After all, our listeners selected their all time favorite romance audiobooks in 2011.  Once the results were published, I heard from more than a few of those listeners – all asking a similar question.  What other audiobooks, audio authors, and narrators received votes besides the few that dominated the poll and took first in eight of the nine Absolute Favorites categories as well as the majority of Favorite Narrator categories?

Reflecting on those requests, our 2012 Poll is taking a beyond the winners approach declaring last year’s runaway winners, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, J.D. Robb’s In Death Series, Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars Series, and narrators Anna Fields and Phil Gigante are still just that – first place winners.  In our first three Categories – Favorite Audiobook, Favorite Narrator, and Favorite Audio Author, we asked our listeners to provide us with some of their other favorites.

And, as promised, our poll results include more than the usual first, second, and third place mentions.  We hope our results inspire you to try more than just a few new-to-you audiobooks.

The poll results are divided into four categories:

  • Your Favorite Audiobook Choices
  • Your Narrator Favorites
  • Favorite Audio Authors and the Like
  • And All the Extras

Your Favorite Audiobook Choices

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips Booksigning and July/August Events

Friday, July 20th, 2012

SEP1This is the one I’ve been waiting for! Despite living in Chicago for a good part of my adult life, I never managed to make it out to Naperville (far western suburb) to attend one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ booksignings in her hometown. But finally, after years of hoping, she did an event not just close to my hometown, but in my hometown!

I had a feeling there would be a lot of people at the event, and I was right. However, I don’t think the bookstore was quite prepared for the size of the crowd. I was determined to arrive early in order to get a decent seat. I got there nearly 45 minutes before the event began and already about 70% of the seats were full. Initially the store had as many chairs out for the event as they’ve had for some lesser-known mystery author events I’ve attended. It was clear the setup wasn’t going to work. As people continued to pour into the store, the staff began putting out extra chairs.  The author’s books were in numerous places throughout the bookstore. There was a large bookshelf right next to the microphone filled with The Great Escape; I should say filled until 15 minutes before the event started when one of the staff came and took every book from the shelf, as they were running out up front.

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Looking for a Few Good Gothic Heroines

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

misstress_of_mellyn When I wrote my post for the TBR Challenge yesterday, one of our commenters brought up a good point – it’s hard to find a gothic where the heroine isn’t a doormat. Nowadays, gothics are pretty hard to find anyway but even in their heyday, they seemed to have more than their fair share of childlike, frequently fainting heroines. Growing up, I remember my mom loved gothics and while I enjoyed some of the old books she picked up at library sales, there were definitely some helpless idiot heroines out there. And while The Jade Pagoda, the book I read for TBR Challenge yesterday, didn’t feature a completely spineless heroine, it still isn’t one I’d put on a list of recommendations.

After seeing the request for good gothic suggestions, Barbara Michaels immediately came to mind. Though better known today for her Amelia Peabody books written as Elizabeth Peters, under the Michaels name she has written a number of novels full of creepy Gothic goodness. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012 – How Did This Get Here?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

jadepagoda When I saw this month’s TBR Challenge theme, I started digging in my TBR stacks and was surprised at all the random stuff I found that I could not remember getting. It took me a while to decide on a book to read for the challenge, so in the end, I decided to choose the oldest one I could find in the pile. It’s a gothic from 1992 called The Jade Pagoda and it’s by Marion Clarke, an author I can honestly say I’ve never heard of. It had a UBS receipt from 2006 tucked into it, so obviously it caught my interest somewhere along the way. Looking at it, I couldn’t imagine why.

The cover blurb sounds awful – overwrought mysticism and deep dark secrets meet the Home and Garden channel – and the picture on the cover is not all that enticing either. I can’t help snickering every time I look at the hero, who looks more vampiric than gothic. So what’s it all about? (more…)

Who Are You? And Who Needs to Know?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

CNSPhoto-Simpsons Everything I’ve ever written or posted at AAR has been under my own name. My real one. Since I’ve been doing this for well over a decade and have an unusual name, I figure I am about the easiest person to find on the internet. You google me, you get me. I made the choice early on, and I’ve always been comfortable with it. But we have several staff members who use a pseudonym. Reasons vary; for some it’s a professional issue, for others a privacy one. Honestly, when a reviewer wants to use an assumed name I don’t feel the need to ask them why. I don’t really care what you call yourself as long as you are professional.
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