Julie Anne Long: The #RWA15 Interview

Do you know what you’ll be doing on September 29th come the fall? I do. I’ll be reading–finally–Julie Anne Long’s The Legend of Lyon Redmond. I, and historical romance readers everywhere, have been waiting years for the final romance in Ms. Long’s Pennyroyal Green series. The series, begun in 2008, comprises ten books (my favorite is I Kissed an Earl) and Olivia Eversea and Lyon Redmond have been in love and apart since the beginning.

One of the things I most wanted to do at RWA this year was ask Ms. Long some questions. She, gracious as usual, gave me the answers.

Dabney: Hi Julie Anne, it’s lovely to see you again. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. As much as I’m dying to ask about your upcoming release, let’s start by talking about your most recent one.

Julie Anne: It Started with a Scandal came out on March 30th.

Dabney: Lavay’s story!

Julie Anne: Yes. Lavay is a prince of the house of Bourbon who lost everything during the French Revolution. His raison d’être is to restore his family lands in France which he can only do through his work as a mercenary for the British crown or through a spectacular marriage. His plans are thwarted when he is gravely wounded during his last mission.

Elise Fountain, one misguided romance ago, had her life transformed forever. She’s now a teacher at Miss Endicott’s Academy and the single mother of a six year old boy. When a disgruntled patron of the Academy threatens to reveal her disgrace, she endures a plummet in social position when she’s forced to take a position that no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a formidable prince.

Dabney: As is the case with all the Pennyroyal books, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s so well-written. Have you always wanted to be an author? When did you start writing?

Julie Anne Long: The moment I learned how to write. It seemed to me that the whole point of learning to write was so I could write stories. My first book was a Crayola illustrated story about a talking rabbit. I think I was 7.

Dabney: Now that you’ve finished the Pennyroyal Green books, what’s next for you?

Julie Anne: I’m writing a contemporary series set in the California Gold Country. Readers who enjoyed the Pennyroyal Green series will find a lot of the same things to love about it. Well rounded characters, compelling conflict, rich family relationships, hot and fascinating heroes, and sympathetic heroines. And lots of humor, too. The first one is due out in 2016.

Dabney: What can you tell me about end of the Everseas and the Redmonds?

Julie Anne: The Legend of Lyon Redmond is out September 29th. I think readers will find the Lyon and Olivia resolution they’ve been seeking, as well as see some story threads/mysteries resolved…and some hints about the destinies of both the Redmonds and Everseas and their antecedents.

It was an enormously emotional and incredibly satisfying book to write—the emotions, conflict and passions are enormous and long-standing and have very deep roots. And I wanted a resolution for Lyon and Olvia as much as readers did. It was bittersweet to write, too, but in my mind all of the Everseas and Redmonds live and love to this day.

Dabney: How long have you known how Olivia and Lyon would end up?

Julie Anne: I had  a strong sense of how their story would FEEL from the beginning…and I knew most of how it would unfold, but not all. Fortunately the rest of the books in the series led me sort of organically to what I feel is just the right conclusion.

Dabney: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Julie Anne: Marry rich… just kidding. I would say that…it’s really all about the journey. Life has peaks and valleys, and when we’re younger we may see bumps in the roads as catastrophes, when they’re often no more significant in the long run than turbulence during an airplane flight. Stay in the moment.


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Defining the Gothic: A Guest Post by Laura K. Curtis

When Dabney Grinnan asked me to define a Gothic at RWA in New York, my first reaction was to use Potter Stewart’s infamous “I know it when I see it” line. But of course, that won’t do. So for my overarching statement I will say that in a Gothic, every single aspect of the text—language, plot, setting, characterization—is in service to the mood.

And that mood is creepy.

The reader of a Gothic—whether romance or straight Gothic fiction (which tends to verge on horror)—should experience an unrelenting sense of dread, and that dread should start on the very first page. For example, the beginning of Barbara Michaels’s classic Be Buried in the Rain:

The old pickup hit a pothole with a bump that shook a few more flakes of faded blue paint from the rusted body. Joe Danner swore, but not aloud. He hadn’t used bad language for six years, not since he found his Lord Jesus in the mesmeric eyes of a traveling evangelist. He hadn’t used hard liquor nor tobacco either, nor laid a hand on his wife in anger—only when she talked back or questioned his Scripture-ordained authority as head of the family.

Or the beginning of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca:

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

Yeah, that’s not going anywhere good.

Gothics don’t fit into the normal landscape of romance as we categorize it today for the simple reason that everything in a Gothic is restrained. There is no room for the blatant, whether in the form of lust or violence or comedy or romantic angst. There’s a certain lack of immediacy in a Gothic, despite the fact that all the traditional Gothics were written in the first person from the heroine’s point of view.

Many modern romantic suspense novels read like Michael Bay films, filled with nearly super-human heroic acts, explosions, and a constant need for speed. The heroes are larger than life, if not literally then figuratively (and some are literally larger—the six-foot-seven hero with shoulders out to here and muscles on his muscles is a staple of the genre. The Gothic hero is more subdued. In fact, he’s often not obviously the hero at all. In Mary Stewart’s Touch Not the Cat, the heroine knows there is a hero awaiting her—she feels him as a psychic link—but when presented with several possibilities she cannot tell which one is fated to be hers. He’s not the strongest, most masterful, most heroic actor in her play.

The tone of a Gothic is pulled back, almost dreamlike, and anything that detracts from that tone is a strike against a successful interpretation of the form. If I burst into giggles while I’m reading a book, it dissipates the aura of dread. The heroine may be sassy, but she can’t be actively funny, and despite the first person point of view I shouldn’t hear her snarky thoughts unless they’re clearly stress-induced and allow me to feel her fear and uncertainty rather than her disdain.

Which makes for a hard heroine to write. The Gothic heroine is afraid, which is something women in the modern world have been taught to avoid. Especially as women, and especially in the romance genres. Women need to be portrayed as strong, not fearful. But the Gothic heroine is brave in the truest sense of the word. She understands that she is afraid but does not let that fear overwhelm her. Hers is the voice we hear and if she is not afraid, we are not afraid.

This brings up the question of sex that permeates the modern romance genre. Sex is implied in many of the classic Gothics. In Mary Stewart’s fabulous, amazing This Rough Magic, it’s fairly clear that our heroine has been up to fun and games. But we never see more than a kiss, and it’s a quick kiss. Why this avoidance? The reason is simple: sex is a release, and the idea of a Gothic is to keep winding the tension higher. You can jump back into tension when the sex is over, but allowing the readers to watch the moments of peace and relaxation breaks the mood. You can, as a friend of mine pointed out, have creepy sex, but that’s…well…creepy.

At RWA, Dabney asked me how Gothics differed from horror, and I think there’s a fair amount of crossover. There is Gothic horror just as there is Gothic romance. Generally, the same rules apply. The lack of explicit threat, the looming, lingering dread rather than a creature feature, the all-too-human face of the evil that is finally revealed. (Yes, sometimes the evil is supernatural, but usually it’s not. Even when there are paranormal aspects, they are not the focus of the story.)

So if you find yourself staying up late and leaving a light on due a dread you cannot quite put your finger on, chances are you’ve been reading a Gothic.

Laura K. Curtis has always done everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she’s chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. Published in crime fiction, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance, she lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and a pack of wild Irish Terriers, which has taught her how easily love can coexist with the desire to kill. She has a short Gothic horror piece in the upcoming anthology: Heroes, stories to benefit PROTECT and is working on a  full length Gothic romance. Her most recent book is Gaming the System.

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Eloisa James: The RWA15 Interview

The world of romance novels is crammed with women of astonishing accomplishments and abilities. Sift through the life stories of those who write the books we so love and you’ll find achievers of all kinds.

And then there’s Eloisa James. As I was preparing to interview Ms. James, I checked out her Wikipedia page. The word that came to mind immediately was daunting. Ms. James is a year younger than I am. In the span of less than half a lifetime, Ms. James has attained degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Yale. She’s a tenured English professor who’s chaired her department and headed its Creative Writing Program. She’s written twenty-four best-selling historical romances (her Desperate Duchesses series was just chosen by NPR as one of the 100 most swoon-worthy romances), as well as a memoir. She married an Italian knight whom she met on a blind date and they and their two children spend their summers in Tuscany. She’s elegant and impeccably dressed.

I was prepared to be intimidated.

Instead, in the almost hour I spoke with her, Ms. James was congenial and funny. We shared stories of our late 70′s era teenage years. She answered every question I asked.  She, in the nicest way possible, told me how to pronounce her name correctly.

Readers, I’d start an Eloisa James fan page on Facebook but it already exists… and has 84K fans.

Dabney: Eloisa, thank you so much for meeting with me today. I’ve read all your books. (This is true.) Tell me about the most recent one.

Eloisa: It’s Four Nights with the Duke and it’s about a romance writer. In the 19th century, there were so many romance writers, silver spoon or silver fork writers, almost all who were women who supported their families. They were working romance writers. The whole plot of Four Nights with the Duke is stolen from the romances of the time.

Dabney: What comes out next?

Eloisa: Several things. Seven Minutes in Heaven is the sequel to Four Nights with the Duke. I think it will be released in late 2015 or early 2016.

I’m also publishing a stand alone romance called My American Duchess which will be out January 26th.

I got the idea for it while living in London. It was inspired by a pineapple. In early 1800′s England, pineapples were so expensive they were rented for dinner parties! I started thinking about how pineapples then were less expensive in America. My heroine, an American who’s come to London, makes a terrible mistake by eating the pineapple at the party she’s invited to. She realizes she’s made a grave social error and worries she’ll be ostracized. The opposite happens. My heroine Merry becomes the talk of the town. The story is about showing up in society and not understanding the rules.

The hero is an English Duke who has a twin, a dissolute drunk, who is engaged to the heroine. The hero thinks Merry’d make a fabulous duchess but he can’t take her away from his brother.

Dabney: I love the idea of the pineapple. Who knew?

Eloisa: Yes. I believe you don’t want to add the history onto the plot; you want the history to grow naturally from the plot.

Dabney: How did you start writing?

Eloisa: I started writing when I was eight years old. I started writing romances that were plays.

I wrote my first romance right after college. Passion’s Slave. There were sheep, a lesbian love scene, the heroine got spit in the eye by a camel and went temporarily blind… My boyfriend sent it out to all these publications. My favorite rejection came from the Sierra Club. They said it was frisky but not suitable for their publication.

I quit, went to graduate school in Oxford, and my mother called me and said Harlequin liked it. I didn’t pursue it.

Later on, when I wanted another baby, I decided to write a romance called Potent Pleasures. It sold. I got pregnant, I wrote my second book (Midnight Pleasures), and that began my writing career. It was the perfect antidote to my academic career.

Dabney: I know you teach creative writing. What advice would you give aspiring romance authors?

Eloisa: For me, in romance writing, you take your deepest fear and put into your books. Take something from your own life and put it into your book and it will work.

Dabney: If you were going to give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Eloisa: I get my books done with the help of a lot of editing. It’s so hard to write a book right now in the traditional book world. To succeed, every book needs to be top form.

I’d tell myself: “You could start editing a little earlier.”

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Sophie Jordan: The RWA15 Interview

I interviewed Sophie Jordan at last year’s Romantic Times conference and what I remember most about the interview is how fast she said interesting things I was too slow to write down correctly. This time, I asked the questions and let her type the answers as she spoke them. The woman thinks a mile a minute and it was great fun to be able to just listen to her!

Dabney: You are now writing contemporary romance. Tell me about that.

Sophie: It just seemed like a natural transition moving from new adult fiction. I made a lot of great readers while I was writing in New Adult. They’re a vocal, viral, tapped-in group. When the Ivy Chronicles ended, they were so disappointed. I loved writing those books—I felt like I had hit my stride. In the same way, I feel like I found my voice in contemporary. I still love historical romance—I’m a one book a year historical writer. I’m excited to write contemporary.

Dabney: What are you going to be doing?

Sophie: The name of my new series is The Devil’s Rock series. The Devil’s Rock is a penitentiary and the heroes of the series have either served time there or are serving time there. There are three heroes—these books are hero centric. This is my first time writing hero-centric romance. I’m fascinated by the idea of a heroic man being imprisoned.

Dabney: What about that idea sparks you?

Sophie: It’s the fact that they’re almost reduced to animals but can still find their humanity. It’s even more difficult to find love and and happy ever after. It’s such a challenge. I’m drawn to, in romance, the most desperate situations. It’s been in the back of my head for a long time but I didn’t know if it would work. So glad Avon got behind me writing these books and even MORE excited with how the first book turned out.

Dabney: Are these heroes friends?

Sophie: Two are brothers and the third becomes their friend. It was important to me that each book feel unique. The first book is the only one where the hero is still in prison—and he stays there for the first third of the book. That book is called All Chained Up—it’s metaphorical. That’s how the hero feels. He meets the heroine but can’t act on his feelings for her. And even once he’s out, he’s still emotionally crippled.

Dabney: Do you see love as the redemption in these stories?

Sophie: Absolutely. It’s a combination of them feeling they can have love and that they deserve love. Places of employment are so limiting for people who have been convicted of a felony. The difficulty in supporting yourself or another, the shame, the guilt of their crime(s), these are things the hero has to overcome in order find his redemption.

When I was writing the epilogue for book one, I thought about how, even years later, the impact of the hero’s long—eight years–sentence is still a part of him.

Dabney: What else up are you up to?

Sophie: My historical, All All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue, is an enemies to lovers story. I always wanted to write one. And it was challenging! When you start off with two characters who hate each other, it’s hard to create empathy for both of them. I loved seeing my characters move past their beginning.

Dabney: Is this a Regency?

Sophie: It’s actually an early Victorian, but it’s close to Regency.

Dabney: Will you return to writing New Adult?

Sophie: I’m not going to say no but at this time I’m committed to the Devil’s Rock series. All Chained Up comes out in April and the second book in August of 2016. The third will come out in early 2017. But I do love New Adult. I’m hopeful and excited. I hope the readers that loved the New Adult will follow me into my contemporary romance!

Dabney: Thanks for talking to and typing for me!

Sophie: It was my pleasure.

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Jennifer Ryan: The RWA15 Interview

One of my favorite things about RWA is meeting authors. Jennifer Ryan is an author new to me so I was pleased when Avon asked if I wanted to interview her. Jennifer has published ten books in the past two years–I gleaned that from Goodreads not Jennifer so if that number’s wrong, it’s on me. She writes contemporary and romantic suspense and is a USA Today best-selling author. Her next book, Her Lucky Cowboy, will be released in August.


Dabney: What’s most your most recent release?

Jennifer: When It’s Right, my second book in my Montana Men series. It came out in May of this year.

It’s a story about Gillian, a girl whose abusive father tries to kill her and she ends up having to go live with her grandfather whom she’s never met on his ranch in Montana. She meets Blake the ranch manager and they fall in love.

Dabney: What makes Blake special?

Jennifer: Blake is one of the first heroes I’ve written who’s very patient. He understands, given her background, that her needs must come before his and he’s willing to love on her terms, even if it means putting his job on the line.

Dabney: And Gillian?

Jennifer: She’s like a lot of my heroines. She’s very tough, resilient. She’s willing to do almost anything to protect her younger brother whom she is raising—he’s much younger. She’s the kind of girl who knows that if one thing doesn’t work out, she’s the kind of person who can still make life work out.

Dabney: How did you start writing?

Jennifer: I was an avid reader. I was a stay at home mom. One day, all the stories I was reading made me start wondering if I could write my own story. I figured no one would ever know if I couldn’t. I was able to write it—it’s Saved by Rancher (published in 2013)—and it went on to become a NYT best seller.

Dabney: What do you love about writing romance?

Jennifer: I love the relationship between the lovers. I love seeing it go from a look to a kiss to something much more deeper. I love seeing how they build the relationship into something you believe truly is a happily ever after.

Dabney: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Jennifer: Be patient. You can’t please everyone. Always try and do the best you can.

Dabney: What is up next for you?

Jennifer: August 25th, I have Her Lucky Cowboy coming out. It’s the third book in my Montana Man series. It’s Dane’s book. He’s a guy who thinks he can get any woman. He meets a brilliant doctor who’s never been on a date in her life and has no interest in starting with a playboy cowboy!

Dabney: Great! Thanks for talking with me.


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Sarah MacLean: The RWA15 Interview

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a historical romance writer in possession of a great wealth of talent, must be taken seriously by The Washington Post. Except, historically, the WaPo, like much of America’s serious press, treats romance writers rather like boxed wine: Something never to be publicly praised even if, upon occasion, she imbibes with gusto.

At least that’s how The Washington Post used to treat romance. These days, The Grey Lady publishes a monthly column about romance. And for that we must thank Sarah MacLean.

I’ve interviewed Sarah before and enjoyed it every time. She’s funny, fearless, and feminist. She laughs a lot. She loves Romanceland. When her publicist at Avon asked if I’d like to check in with her at RWA, I of course said yes.

Dabney: Hi! So to begin, tell me about your new book.

Sarah: The Rogue Not Taken is my first in my Scandal and Scoundrel series. I wanted to do a series about celebrity gossip with a historical twist. My editor said, “Like the Kardashians?” And I said “Yes, just like the Kardashians!” Interestingly, celebrity gossip really does translate. In pre-Victorian society reputation, scandal, and gossip were so important. One’s reputation was everything. I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I knew the first scene would be my take on the Jay Z, Beyonce, Solange Met Gala scandal from two years ago. (Solange punched Jay Z in the elevator.) I wanted to know what happened. So, I came up with what I thought might have happened and my heroine became the Solange character who caused the scene and she has to run. She stows away in the carriage of a handsome future duke and it becomes a road story.

Dabney: Have you ever done a road story before?

Sarah: No. It’s hard. Road trips are tough. You spend a lot of time asleep in an inn. You have to do a lot of work so you’re not always sleeping in an inn. It’s fun because there are so many characters—there’s always new faces at the inn.

Dabney: How many books are planned for the series?

Sarah:  The Scandal and Scoundrel series will be a trilogy. They’re linked by the theme of scandals.

Dabney: Will readers recognize the scandals?

Sarah: If they read US Weekly, yes.

Dabney: What’s your favorite recent scandal?

Sarah: Right now I’m very sad about Bennifer. We were friends in my heart. I did think to myself: How would I write that? It’s tough to write a reconciled marriage.

Dabney: Will you ever go back to the world of the Love by Numbers and Rules of Scoundrels world?

Sarah: The heroine of The Rogue Not Taken was in Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover. To some extent, it’s all the same world.

That said, this series is much more romp than the last series. I think readers will enjoy it.

Dabney: When did you start writing?

Sarah: I published my first book in 2009. I wrote it on a dare. It’s titled The Season and is a historical YA.

Dabney: If you were going to give your younger self a word of advice what would it be?

Sarah: Don’t worry so much.

Dabney: Thanks. It’s always a pleasure.


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Lisa Kleypas: The RWA2015 Interview

When it comes to romance novelists, few are more storied than Lisa Kleypas. She’s been a beauty queen (Miss Massachusetts in 1985), a best-selling author (she’s written 38 books and four novellas), and is known for her warmth and charm.

I can attest to the latter. When Avon asked if I’d like to interview her at RWA2015, I gulped. Me? Talking to Lisa Kleypas? I feared I’d be starstruck and tongue-tied.

I was starstruck, but no tongue-tied. From the moment, she sat down, Lisa was lovely (She began by complimenting me on my jewelry and then moved on to telling me how much she adores AAR.) I felt at ease.

She answered every question I asked. Here, dear readers, is our conversation.

Dabney: What’s next for you and when will it be out?

Lisa: The next is Brown Eyed Girl, out August 11th, and that’s my last Texas contemporary. My first historical in five years will be Cold Hearted Rake, out October 27. I’ve been pleased and surprised by the level of enthusiasm for that!

Dabney: What’s it about?

Lisa: An irresponsible sexy rake unexpectedly inherits an earldom that is a wreck. The estate comes with three young women. He has to dig deep into his character in order to become a man who can take care of them and the estate. It’s an extreme character arc. The heroine is the widow of the late Earl. She is young, high spirited, and constantly pushing him to be a better man. He softens her and brings out a playful side and she pushes him to be more of grownup.

Dabney: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Lisa: I’d read a lot of recent historicals in the past five years and I didn’t see as much historical detail as I typically write so, at first, I struggled how much historical detail to put into the book. I decided to put in as much as I wanted. That is part of the joy of writing it for me. I didn’t want to write a contemporary with long dresses!

Dabney: What book have you read lately that you enjoyed?

Lisa: A John Wayne biography. It was fascinating. I never realized how handsome he was as a young actor and how he used this to get parts in his youth. It was exciting to read because it’s hard to get male characters right. I try to absorb things like that.

Dabney: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Lisa: Don’t try to be such a pleaser.

Dabney: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Lisa: Just that I’m thrilled to be writing historical romance again. Cold Hearted Rake is the beginning of a series called The Ravenels. It’s set in a later Victorian period than I’ve ever tried before. This affects the book quite a bit because of the settings I can use. The second book is set in a department store!

Dabney: Thanks so much for talking to me.

Lisa: It was fun!


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The Fabulous Dreamers at RWA

RWA 20151Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” The 2015 Romance Writers of America conference is brimming with women–and a few men–who do just that. Rarely have I been surrounded by so many people who speak openly, joyously, and determinedly about making their dreams reality.

I have spent the conference with authors. I’ve interviewed some of the greatest names in the field–Eloisa James, Julie Anne Long, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Sophie Jordan, Sarah MacLean and others. (I’ll be sharing those interviews with you beginning on Monday.) I’ve listened to Virginia Kantra, Laura Florand, Jessica Scott, and Carolyn Crane talk–over wine and dessert–about how they publish and what they’ve learned. I’ve talked to writers waiting for cabs, publicists and editors at parties, and aspiring authors in the absurdly long lines for the bathrooms at the conference hotel. I’ve been to a doughnut party and listened to Joanna Bourne discuss the impact of Twitter on the writers of tomorrow. It’s been author, authors, authors, and it’s been the best thing ever.

Again and again, I’ve been struck, awestruck, by the willingness of these women to pursue their dreams. Last night, at dinner, I sat across from a lovely woman who struggles with physical conditions that leave her routinely terribly depressed. When she feels crazy, she said, she puts on the music from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and listens to it repeatedly until she finds a saner place. She’s at RWA this year, for the first time, because, on top of having a day job, going to real estate school, being a mother of three and a wife, she writes YA romance and she’s determined to be published. She is here, in New York, pursuing her dream.

I ask authors when they began writing and most say, “I’ve always written.” For them, the dream hasn’t been writing–that is something so innate it’s rather like breathing. No, the dream has been to publish–whether traditionally or not–so they may share their stories with others. Following this dream has meant living on four hours of sleep a night for years, receiving rejection after rejection, and repeatedly learning new skills–Scrivener, self-publishing, digital rights… the list is endless. They do whatever they have to do to make their dreams come true.

It’s awesome.

It’s intimidating.

It’s flipping amazing.

Yoda was wrong. To do is to have tried and succeeded. This week I’ve seen joy on the face of writer after writer who tried, succeeded, and are trying still. Today is the last day of the conference and tonight is the RITAs, the awards ceremony where RWA recognizes the best books of the year. But no matter who wins the statues, everyone I’ve talked with this week wins my respect. It’s a group of kickass dreamers. If Mrs. Roosevelt is right, the future is in fabulous hands.

Dabney Grinnan


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RWA – Thursday

CKo6iu7WUAAV3QMThe first full day of RWA is in the books. Lynn, Dabney, and I have been busy observing, reporting, tweeting, and okay…celebrating.

One change this year is that there are no luncheons; the sessions with featured speakers are breakfast sessions in the morning. Undoubtedly a cost-cutting measure, and I am not sure whether it is a permanent shift or if they are just trying it out. All of us missed it Thursday because we were invited to breakfast the the Simon & Schuster Offices – for booklovers, that was pretty cool and a major perk of having the conference in New York. Incidentally, there do seem to be a lot more men milling about at this conference than the one in say, San Antonio. Don’t get me wrong; this is a very female dominated industry and there are far more women than men – just more men than usual. We were trying to decide whether half of them were husbands and boyfriends who find New York more alluring than say, the South in July, or whether there are more men breaking into romance writing. I will note that the only time my ex came to RWA with me was when it was here last time, despite being invited along to other places. There is, after all, something for everyone in New York.

As far as emerging conference trends, after sitting through a few publisher spotlights it doesn’t seem to be substantially different from last year. I’m still hearing “the paranormal market is soft but we’ll look at a funny one.” Although I would say that New Adult seems to be a little less white hot. I always like the point in spotlights when an aspiring author asks editors what they are personally looking for. Sure, many times you’ll just hear, “I can’t get enough alpha bad boys!”, but sometimes, like yesterday, someone enthusiastically supplies, “Virus in a submarine!”

Since I have personally been a little less connected to books this year (and in fact, fielded more than one “Are you still writing for AAR?”) this has been an opportunity to reconnect with longtime conference friends and really talk books in a fun way. Also, I sort of can’t shut up about my own real life romance, so there’s that. But because it’s so fresh in my life I’ve heard a lot of other people’s love stories. And it’s good to know that love in alive and well among romance writers, bloggers, and industry professionals. Also, more than one woman at this conference has seen Magic Mike XXL.

What’s up for AAR today? Lynn and I will continue tweeting publisher spotlights. Dabney has been accumulating a treasure trove of author interviews, so stay tuned for that as well. And at night? Well, probably more than one cocktail (perhaps accompanied by an impromptu discussion about love, man buns, or both).

Posted in AAR Blythe, All About Romance, Book news, Books, Publishing, RWA | 4 Comments

RWA 2015 – The Conference Begins

20150722_181549 (720x1280) I got a slower start than I wanted, as my planned 6:00 arrival in NYC didn’t actually occur until after 11:00pm. However, one night of sleep later, I was raring to go to the conference! I love RWA for a variety of reasons. On a personal level, I enjoy visiting with some of my AAR colleagues and folks in Romlandia that I only get to see once a year or so. On a professional level, the energy at RWA is contagious, and I am not only able to gather news about authors and publishing trends, but things I hear at conference tend to percolate in my mind and influence my writing for some time afterward.

The literacy signing was its usual mix of interesting and overwhelming. The ballroom this year felt a tad cramped, but I think most of us were still able to find some good books and chat with authors. I did pick up a few interesting pieces of news along the way:

Sherry Thomas reported that she has a YA proposal in the works (fingers crossed!). She also told me that she was working on historical mysteries, but that they probably would not be out until next year. And historicals? Sad to say, I’m told that it will probably be a while before she has any new historical releases. Continue reading

Posted in Book news, Book Signing News, Lynn AAR, Publishing, RWA | Tagged , | 9 Comments