After a night of dueling pianos and a very late bedtime, Jane and I headed over to the Wyndham Convention Center this mornign under the impression that our panel on blogging was at 230 pm. In fact, I booked the flight to Princeton based on the idea that I wouldn’t be able to leave until after 5pm. Imagine my shock when, at 11:10 I received a text from Jane saying, “Our session is at 11:30am.” It was at 11:30 on the scheduled card in our registration, too, and I hadn’t noticed. DOH.

I was being interviewed by a holy crapping smart sociology PhD student named Andrea (don’t know if she’d like me to use her surname so I won’t) who is working on a research study about romance. Specifically, and I didn’t find out until after I’d answered all the questions so as not to skew my answers, she’s looking at the intersection of the creators, consumers, and product of the romance genre (i.e. authors, readers, and the book itself) and the social community constructed therein. Nothing to talk about there, huh?

She was midway through her questions when I realized I had to boogie and go talk blogging, so I went from discussing the evolution of the genre to discussing the evolution of blogs as author promotional tools.

The one point that I found most frequently re-tweeted was my assertion that if you are an author, you do NOT have to have a blog. I totally believe that. As Jane said, if you don’t want to blog, it shows. If it’s not the right format for you, or if you don’t want to do it, then don’t. There are other perfectly acceptable and effective ways to update your website (Note: You MUST have a website. You do NOT have to have a blog – these are two different things) and market yourself online aside from blogging. So it’s not mandatory. Don’t let anyone tell you that it is a requirement, because holy shit it is so not.

Jane’s discussion of fostering community and dealing with comments, moderation options, and time commitment was very cool – and yet again reminded me that she is hella organized (whereas I fly on Seat of My Pants Airlines).

(Note: Alisa Kwitney gave me a Tootsie Pop at the ebook signing last night, which I am enjoying tremendously right now. Thank you, Alisa!)

Afterward, I found poor Andrea, who was probably ready to kill me, and finished the interview, which turned into a great off-the-record (hers, not mine) discussion of how we both learned about other subgenres in romance outside the ones we knew and loved. We were both inititally surprised by how much we loved paranormal romance, though we’re both a little tired of the repeated tropes, and are taking a break. She adores romantic suspense while I love sharp contemporaries, and her perspective on how academia is approaching romance and popular culture in general was fascinating. As usual, finding other smart women who adore romance and love thinking about it from all sorts of unorthodox angles makes me giddy.

I attended the tail end of a session with Barry Eisler and Rita Herron and Jennifer St. Giles about “Creating the Ultimate Page Turner,” which featured the following pearls of wisdom from St. Giles and Sr. Eisler:

1. If you want to write a specific subgenre, find your favorite example of that type, and figure out what it was about that book that worked for you. It’ll screw up your enjoyment of that book, or that subgenre, perhaps, but if you want to write it, think critically about it first.

2. The problems with publisher packaging diverse books with similar looks/styles are befuddling at best and jaw dropping at worst. Eisler: “If you know that chocolate bars sell when in a specific color package, will granola bars sell in that same package? Only until consumers figure out the difference.”

Eisler stayed in the same room for a discussion of “He Sex She Sex” with Kathy Love, Erin McCarthy, and F. Paul Wilson, and as I was next door and the walls at the Wyndham are wafer-thin, I can tell you that whatever he/she sex is, it is some funny funny shit because the laughter reached wheeze-level within minutes.

I was next door at a panel that I tweeted about which discussed YA Urban Fantasy with Richelle Mead, Caitline Kittredge, Marianne Macusi, Melissa Marr, Heather Osborn and Rachel Vincent. Among the ponder-worthy moments:

- Most of the authors on the panel agreed (well, Heather didn’t but she’s not an author) that they’ve encountered fewer restrictions on plot, character, and possibility in YA lines compared to adult UF/Romance lines, and feel that the options for YA writers are much more expansive.

- Voice is crucial for YA writing, and most of them had someone (agent, editor, etc.) tell them they had a good voice for YA. Mancusi wondered at the time if it was code for “immature,” but the voice of YA writing is key in reaching audience.

- World building in YA UF is just as important, and that doesn’t mean just the UF world. The YA world is equally essential: the world of the protagonist, who one presumes is young, and that world includes parents, friends, teachers, coaches, and other teens. The YA world and the UF world have to be developed equally.

- Richelle Mead noted that in her experience, her readers have started to see her characters as separate entities, and she’s this person who does mean things to them. HA!

Then, well, I left. My flight is delayed, and I’ll be honest: while the Orlando airport is quieter, it is certainly not as entertaining as the people at RT. Tomorrow: Princeton conference on Romance in Academia, and more flying. My question: will the words and ideas tossed about at the conference fit within 140 character Twitter limit? We shall see.


Romantic Times

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  1. 1
    SonomaLass says:

    My question: will the words and ideas tossed about at the conference fit within 140 character Twitter limit? We shall see.

    I think that should be a new academic conference requirement:  the Twitter abstract (Twitstract?  Twitract? Twistract?).  What is the big idea of your paper, in 140 characters.  I’m so going to steal that idea, Sarah!

    I love the idea of smart women meeting up at conferences (both RT and Princeton) to discuss romance novels.  I would be giddy too.

  2. 2
    she reads says:

    it’s not mandatoryDon’t let anyone tell you that it is a requirementbecause holy shit it is so not

    I couldn’t agree more. Authors MUST have a good website – it can be totally simple but I need to see what you’ve written it, descriptions for currently available stuff, and how to contact you. That’s all I NEED.

    Blogs? So not for everyone and I’d prefer an author not blog and instead just rock the novels. I only follow 2 author blogs- and 120 ‘non author’ blogs (not including bitches as authors)

  3. 3
    Barb Ferrer says:

    The one point that I found most frequently re-tweeted was my assertion that if you are an author, you do NOT have to have a blog.

    A-freakin’-men.  And it really, truly does show when an author doesn’t want to blog or sees it as an obligation.

    However, I will say this—being in a dry spell right now, with nothing coming out any time soon, my blog provides a great place to keep in touch with people, to post examples of projects I’m working on, and in general, just flex some different writing muscles without having to bug my web guy.  Right now, my web page is little more than a place holder and I’m okay with that.  When I sell something new, I’ll probably have it completely redesigned for a completely fresh look.

  4. 4
    Marilyn says:

    I don’t really care if an author blogs or not. I know some do, but I read them only sporadically. I prefer a nicely done, professional website where I can go to get information about upcoming books.

    Dood, did you guys do Jelly Rolls? OMG I love that place!

  5. 5
    krsylu says:

    ‘Kay. I know what YA means (Young Adult), but what is UF?

  6. 6
    Nadia Lee says:

    ‘Kay. I know what YA means (Young Adult), but what is UF?

    UF = urban fantasy.

    Sarah—I think many writers feel obligated to blog to promote themselves.  I’m glad you said blogs are not necessary.  I don’t mind blogging per se, but I really don’t have to much to say once I’m done with my writing for the day (and the idea of composing a coherent and entertaining post after hours of wrestling with my WIP is just daunting).

  7. 7
    Terry Odell says:

    I wanted to hear your talk, but I was on a panel at the same time.  Haven’t perfected cloning yet.  I blog about stuff that interests me and that I hope will interest others. My topics bounce around from writing to just plain everyday ‘stuff’, and I don’t expect every topic to be of interest to everyone, but I hope everyone finds something that they like at some point.

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