I got to sit a few minutes at Cafe Beignet with Helen Kay Dimon and Deanna Raybourn during the RT Booklovers Convention. Both such smart writers and lovely, charming women. I also scored a copy of Helen Kay’s new book, Mercy, which I’ve been gobbling up! So good.
Sunday on Word Whores, I mentioned that this conference brought me into so many great conversations about the industry. I’d like to talk a little more about that today.
First, I should mention that the amazing E and Has Bookpushers are running a seven-day Release Week Bonanza Giveaway for me, to celebrate the release of The Mark of the Tala a week from today! These gals are so awesome to me. You should run over and tell them so, even if you don’t want to win a fabulous prize or follow the Vacation Guide to The Twelve Kingdoms. 😀
I already waxed on about how grateful I am that Megan Mulry put together the group she did. A lovely and gracious person, Megan also possesses a gift for bringing together really wise, interesting people. Anne Calhoun, whose books I’ve always loved but I only had met glancingly, turned out to be as super smart and insightful as her stories. At one point she said:
“Unlike love, there’s not enough power to go around. For one group to gain power, another must lose some.”
That became a resonant theme through the week. She also talked about her Masters Thesis, which traces the changes in women finding their own agency through the roles, desires and expectations of the heroines in romance novels. I really want to read that.
Also sharing our house was Janet Webb, who reviews for Heroes and Heartbreakers. She had an amazing and insightful perspective on the romance genre – as someone with an extensive understanding of both the canon and emerging works and writers. We had a terrific conversation on the role of condoms in romance novels, how editors and publishers really insist on couples using them, which she finds artificial as a reader. She’s since sent me a fascinating article on an HIV-prevention drug that’s vastly underused. So interesting. I want to work this into a story now.
In a terrific stroke of serendipity, Janet was also reading The Mark of the Tala for a H&H First Look. She shared her notes and impressions about the book and gave me insight into my own story. Amazing experience. Janet’s longtime friend and avid reader, Andrea also stayed with us, bringing enthusiasm and sunshine to the week.
Another book blogger housemate, Sasha Harrinanan, who does Caribbean Accent Book Reviews, seemed to be out and about most of the week, gathering her prodigious pile of books. That’s her by the gate to our French Quarter home. She came and went like the went, but such a delight to get to know a little better.
Rounding out our blogger contingent was Julia Broadbooks. She also writes for Heroes and Heartbreakers. We’ve talked on Twitter many times, but this was our first to really get to know each other. Absolutely delightful person.
I’d never met Lexi Ryan before, but she’s just terrific. A savvy marketer, Lexi sat down with me and filled my head with excellent advice from her perspectives on self-publishing and marketing. She is not one of the loud, strident voices in the Indie publishing community and she’s doing very well for herself. I loved getting her perspective. Her best advice? “Be everywhere.” We talked about serials and what works and what doesn’t.
She also taught us how to play Cards Against Humanity and may have spent some time stroking her Bigger, Blacker Box. Just saying.
Historical romance author Miranda Neville was also someone I’d never read or met before. I came home with two of her books and tremendous respect for her, her body of work and Georgette Heyer. Seriously, it’s totally Miranda’s fault that I now have summer reading to improve my understanding of the canon.
Also new to me was Lisa Dunick, PhD professor of English, Romance Novel Center editor and also writer of YA as Lisa Maxwell. Another sharp, savvy woman with a terrific understanding of books and genre, Lisa contributed to my broadening view that the loudest voices in our industry don’t comprise the majority opinions.
More to come!