RWA 2013 – The Conference Begins in Earnest

atlantanight Today was the first full day of conference and even though I felt like I was scurrying all over the hotel, there’s a pretty high energy mood here this year and I can’t say that I felt particularly tired. I attended publisher spotlights with Carina Press, Avon and Grand Central, and picked up other tidbits of information in chats here and there.

After hearing presentations from three publishers, there are some definite themes emerging at this conference. For starters, one hears the phrase “author branding” everywhere. At all the publisher spotlights and even in more informal conversations with publishing reps, I’m hearing a real emphasis on building brands around an author. Continue reading

How Do We Define Romance?

stormwalker How do we define romance? On a romance blog, one might as well ask what is life. It’s one of those broad, overarching topics susceptible to endless debate. We see authors offering endless variations from the most conventional to the most edgy and subversive. And yet, at the end of the day, we expect our lead couple to end up happily ever after – or at least happy for now. Though I still get irked with market restrictions from time to time, I have appreciated in recent years that we’ve been seeing a market full of change, choices, and great authors. And then I went to RWA 2012 in Anaheim.

The Elimination of Novels with Strong Romantic Elements as a RITA category

At the general meeting in Anaheim, Romance Writers of America(RWA) announced that it had decided upon a plan to reconfigure the RITA awards. Continue reading

RWA 2012 – The First Full Day of the Conference

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 Coverage: What’s Your Pleasure?

In a little over a week, Blythe, Lynn, and I will be at RWA in New York.

The three of us certainly plan to blog that week and provide coverage day by day.  We also plan to live tweet the Ritas.  But at this point we don’t plan detailed session coverage as AAR provided in the past – usually days after the event.

So, here are my questions:

Does this sound like the level of detail you’d like?

Any authors you’d like to hear from?  Any gossip you’d like us to track down?

- Sandy AAR

RWA: Sandy’s Thoughts

Blythe and Lynn have already done such a great job of summing up our RWA experience, that I’ll only add a few personal notes.

I always have a wonderful time at the conference, but I agree with Blythe’s assessment that everyone seemed less stressed and ready to enjoy themselves.  It was, in fact, all good.

I will add that Sherry Thomas’ Rita win was one that made me very, very happy.  I’ve been championing the author since her debut and I think it’s a safe bet that Sherry will very shortly be taking her place as one of romance’s greats.  I was also pleased, as were Blythe and Lynn, to see Julia Quinn inducted into the Hall of Fame for three Rita wins in the same category.

Everyone kept asking for gossip and most of it I had, I wasn’t free to share. (Conversation killer, right there.)  Still, it all goes back to Blythe’s observation: We were there to celebrate and share the happy and that’s mostly what we ended up doing.

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Orlando from My Perspective

I discovered that Blythe is peppy and energetic in the morning.  When I opened my eyes at 7:15, she was already dressed and ready to go for her morning workout.

I also discovered that Lynn is w-a-a-a-a-y more calm than I am about snakes, since she reported without emotion that she had seen two snakes – one reassuringly (and harmlessly) black and another of a undetermined multi-color variety (gulp) – while on her morning walk.

Important things to learn about both, eh?

I don’t have much to add to Blythe’s report about the literacy signing.  I sought out my faves – including Deanne Raybourn and Elizabeth Hoyt – while Blythe and Lynn visited theirs.  It was a good turnout, though about average from what I’ve seen in the past six years.  Then we went to the blogger bash where I got to meet some of my online favorites, including Super Wendy (who is still incredible even though she doesn’t wear a cape) and Magdalen.  Also enjoyed chatting with Kristy J once again.  There were a lot of people there and it was kind of tough to meet everyone without taking on the bar’s stratospheric decibel level – so my apologies to everyone I didn’t mention.

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Orlando: Blythe

It’s the end of a long day here in Orlando. Sandy and I both traveled here today and met Lynn (in my case, for the first time). This marks the first time all three of AAR’s publishers have met face to face, which was fun for all of us.

After a quick dinner, we went into the literary signing where we mostly went our separate ways; we all had different authors we wanted to meet. This is the first conference in five years for me, so there were some new faces along with a few familiar ones. I had met Adele Ashworth and Julia Justiss when the conference was in Denver, and caught up with them briefly. I really enjoyed meeting Blythe Gifford (surely the only other Blythe here, and probably in romancelandia as a whole). We traded first name war stories.

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RWA 2010!

disney Next week is the national conference for Romance Writers of America (RWA). Blythe Barnhill, Sandy Coleman and I will all be attending, and hopefully learning a lot. Last year was my first time at RWA, and while the conference is almost overwhelmingly huge, I had a blast getting to meet some wonderful authors (both published and aspiring), reviewers, and other book industry types. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the publishers have in store for us going forward.

We’ll be there with our laptops, and will be blogging from the conference. In addition, if you want to follow what’s going on throughout the day, I’d suggest keeping an eye on Twitter. We’ll be doing most of our tweeting from the @allaboutromance account. In addition, you can find us all individually at: @blytheaar, @LynnAAR,and @SandyAAR.
I’m getting into Orlando late Tuesday afternoon, and Blythe and Sandy will both be arriving Wednesday.

Now here’s the important part for you: Is there something from an author or publisher(or about Romanceworld in general) that you would like to know? If so, put it in the comments below, and we’ll try our best to help you out and get you the news you want to be reading.

Hope everyone is having a lovely summer!

– Lynn Spencer

What Makes a Book Unforgettable?

magic I had fun seeing the RITA and Golden Heart award nominations go up yesterday. There were some really good books up there! At first, I was just noting that I had read more of the nominees(and had more in my TBR) than in past years. But then, as I pondered this list of books that stood out in the minds of RITA/Golden Heart judges, it made me think on a more subjective level about what makes a book really stand out in my mind.

Certainly polished writing helps. If the reader is constantly slogging through poor punctuation, clumsy phrasing, and the inveterate abuse of homophones, it’s hard for the story to speak to one. However, beautiful words without heart just won’t do it. And that’s where I find things hard to quantify.

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2010 RITA Nominations: Updated Throughout the Day

Today is the day, fellow romance lovers.  Calls are going out to nominated authors and we’ll  be adding to the listing as Lynn Spencer and I hear the news throughout the day.  [Authors, if you're one of the lucky ones, please let us know by emailing sandy @  (No spaces.)]

Watch this space – and good luck to everyone!

Note:  Some of the nominations listed below were first reported at Judi Fennell’s blog.  An official RWA list can be found here.

Contemporary Series Romance

A Not-So-Perfect Past – Beth Andrews

The Snow-Kissed Bride – Linda Goodnight

From the Outside – Helen Branna

The Christmas Love-Child – Jennie Lucas

One Night Mistress…Convenient Wife – Anne McAllister

Duty, Desire and the Desert King – Jane Porter

Single Mom Seeks… – Teresa Hill

Revealed: A Prince and A Pregnancy – Kelly Hunter

I Still Do – Christie Ridgway

Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure

Silent Watch – Elle Kennedy

Mountain Investigation – Jessica Andersen

The Christmas Stranger – Beth Cornelison

The Soldier’s Secret Daughter – Cindy Dees

In Care of Sam Beaudry – Kathleen Eagle

Cold Case Affair – Loreth Anne White

The Christmas Present – Tracy Wolff

Contemporary Single Title Romance

Too Good to Be True – Kristan Higgins

Talk Me Down – Victoria Dahl

Fireside – Susan Wiggs

For the Love of Pete – Julia Harper (AKA Elizabeth Hoyt)

Dirty Sexy Knitting – Christie Ridgway

True Love and Other Disasters — Rachel Gibson

A Little Light Magic – Joy Nash

Instant Attraction – Jill Shalvis

Historical Romance

To Beguile a Beast Elizabeth Hoyt

Not Quite a Husband – Sherry Thomas

With Seduction in Mind – Laura Lee Guhrke

Wicked All Day – Liz Carlyle

Knight of Pleasure – Margaret Mallory

Make Me Yours — Bettina Krahn

Taming Her Irish Warrior — Michelle Willingham

The Lone Texan – Jodi Thomas

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