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RT Day 1 Recap

I registered for Romantic Times convention on Wednesday morning and received a goody bag full of bookmarks, cover flats, coupons, and books. Sylvia Day and Shayla Black were the sponsors of the bag.
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Probably the coolest part of the registration packet, for me, was a print out that was included in the pocket of the badge that told each speaker what panels that they were on. RT is a very well run conference even if there are time delays.

Almost all the panels seem focused on writers or aspiring writers. “Self-published to Six Figures in Six Months” was one panel yesterday. Even the historical panel that Sarah & I participated on talked about trends and reader wants. There are some reader panels and the parties seem reader focused but at least 90% of the panels seem focused on writing.

I did see some of the cover models. They posed for pictures for Kathryn Falk’s chosen charity, Save Our Soldiers. You paid $10 to sit in front of the black t-shirted, jeans clad men. I’m glad it was for charity.

I managed to take a picture of the cover models in the wild. They were leaving their charity picture taking event to go to the epublishing signing. For those who were wondering, the cover models, generally, are not as tall as they appear in the picture. There were a couple who were tallish but many are under the 6′ mark.

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The digital signing is very cool. The first area is set up for publishers and then there is row after row of epublished authors. Most of the authors have cover flats of their books. If you wanted to buy their book, you received a cover flat and a sticker and you got a code at checkout. I thought that the whole concept was very cool. I saw mostly Ellora’s Cave authors there.

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The cover models worked the room the entire two hours because every registrant votes for them.

Sarah and I and Kathe, the senior reviewer for RT, sat on a historical panel helmed by Kristi Astor whose historical is coming out in October. Kathe was not a fan of the regency period but said that other readers aren’t enamored of what she termed the “exotics.” Exotics are historicals that take place in countries other than Europe or America such as Africa, India, China, and the like. This makes me tremendously sad, but maybe the future will change as the romance community becomes increasingly international.

Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books related how she didn’t like modern sensibilities being grafted onto historical characters. Historical accuracy about the details of clothes and surroundings weren’t so important to her, but the flavor of the characters were.

I shared my list of upcoming historicals and how I thought we had a great crop of new authors entering the historical market. I also encouraged aspiring authors to seek out the expertise of other historical authors in order to ensure historical accuracy.

We capped the night with a dinner at Ming Garden with a few agents, authors, and editors.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. Jinni
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:11:38

    For those who were wondering, the cover models, generally, are not as tall as they appear in the picture. There were a couple who were tallish but many are under the 6′ mark.

    What??? The book I’m reading now, the hero is 6’4″ (or above the short heroine can’t tell) and his ‘mile-wide’ shoulders take up more than half the king size bed.

  2. Barb Ferrer
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:20:14

    Boy, how times change– my first RT which was in October ’03, was the first year I think they actively had panels or workshops for writers and the panels with authors were most definitely reader-centric. They were that way even a couple of years later.

    Even so, I really don’t think of RT as a conference/convention for writers– at least all the social activities are definitely geared towards the reader it seems, which is a good thing.

  3. Anthea Lawson
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:26:18

    Thanks for the update! Although hearing about the conference and not being able to attend is like holding a good chocolate bar just out of my reach…

  4. Bev
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:34:01

    I too thought RT was more geared to readers. An interesting shift. Now RWA I know is geared to writers. I love my historicals and I’m definitely one of the ones that shy away from exotic locales. Although, in May Sherry Thomas is taking me to India, and I go readily, very willingly. If I really like or love a writer, they can pretty much go anywhere in the world as long as the story is still great, and the voice is the same.

  5. Emmy
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:44:40

    I think the RT hotel is haunted or something. All the TwitPics I’ve seen, including the ones posted above, have been fuzzy and blurry and full of glaring white spots. Either everybody taking pics is seriously drunk, everyone has crap cameras, or the place is just haunted.

  6. Zoe Archer
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 13:22:39

    I really hope readers are primed for “exotics,” since far-flung locations make up most of my upcoming series….

    It’s interesting that the focus this year is so heavily geared towards writing romance more so than reading. Any ideas as to why that might be?

  7. Kalen Hughes
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 13:42:31

    It's interesting that the focus this year is so heavily geared towards writing romance more so than reading. Any ideas as to why that might be?

    Last year’s list of workshops was also heavily slanted towards aspiring authors. Don’t know about earlier years. I was surprised when I looked it over, as I too thought RT was supposed to be a reader-focused con.

  8. Marcia Colette
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 14:08:15

    For those who were wondering, the cover models, generally, are not as tall as they appear in the picture. There were a couple who were tallish but many are under the 6′ mark.

    LOL! That was a shock for me too at my first RT. By the next one, I stopped caring.

    Strange that more panels aren’t reader focused, since it is a reader’s conference. Last year–I think–they had color-coded the panels on the schedule based on whether the focus was reader, writer, librarian, promo, etc. It might also mean that many readers couldn’t afford to go to RT in this economy and there’s nobody else to talk to except other writers. *shrug*

  9. joanne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 14:09:51

    Exotics are historicals that take place in countries other than Europe or America such as Africa, India, China, and the like.

    I truly want to cheer for something different in Historicals but alas, alac and also: I’m on team not-so-much on China and India and Africa.
    But Italy? How about Venice, Rome or France (between wars)? Something other then London and a country estate.

    (Why didn’t Jane mention cigars & bars in her re-cap? hmmmm)

  10. Sherry Thomas
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:11:18

    Exotics are historicals that take place in countries other than Europe or America such as Africa, India, China, and the like.

    I’m as nervous as a vampire at a werewolf convention about my “exotic locale” next book. I’m neutral on exotic locales myself, but I needed a distant and dangerous place for this story. I wonder if the non-exotic locale readers would be appeased if they are told that the story begins and ends in UK and in the middle the h/h are just trying to get out of India. :-)

    @joanne,

    Have you tried Judith Ivory’s French-set turn-of-the-century historicals? BEAST makes such divine use of Provence. Laura Kinsale’s Shadow Heart, another one of my fave books, is set in northern Italy.

    @Bev,

    Thanks.

  11. SonomaLass
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:39:29

    Much as I love the U.K. (my other homeland), I could really go for some “exotic” locales and characters. I ♥ diversity! My usual problem with them, however, is that Eastern cultures in the past have been even more limiting to women than our beloved Regency, and it is often hard for me to read the stories (if they are true to the historical gender roles) or to believe them (if they are not). In my experience, the less equal the genders are, the harder it is to create believable and satisfying romantic relationship in that period/place. I applaud authors who attempt it, however, and am looking forward to seeing some of the ones mentioned here!

    I also applaud efforts to explore other Western settings and cultures; hurrah for historical romance set in the Americas, or on the European continent, or Australia! And I promise to continue buying every romance set in the Industrial Revolution that I can get in my grubby hands.

  12. joanne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 16:11:32

    I wonder if the non-exotic locale readers would be appeased if they are told that the story begins and ends in UK and in the middle the h/h are just trying to get out of India. :-)

    @Sherry Thomas: I think readers like me will be happy you have another book coming out, where you locate your H/h doesn’t matter much to us, lol!

    @SonomaLass: Yes! Exactly. For the (accurate to the time-period) heroine to travel during or around Regency or Victorian times she would have to be with a relative or her husband — and then what is she doing in China or Africa or India where women had even less control of their circumstances?

    If I trust the author or a book gets good word of mouth from other readers then I would try it, but for me to pick up a book just because it’s set in an exotic place I’m afraid it would be a case of probably not.

    And a big ole YES to Australia because women who survived in the outback are heroines for sure. (and men on horses are sexy as hell!)

  13. Jennifer Ashley
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 16:38:53

    I second the sadness that exotic locales aren’t as popular with readers. I’d loooove to write a series set in Venice, and in fact have stories in mind. Someday.

    I can’t be at RT this year, but I always enjoy bringing my 6′ 3″ husband with me when I go. :-)

  14. Maili
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 08:10:50

    Kathe was not a fan of the regency period but said that other readers aren't enamored of what she termed the “exotics.” Exotics are historicals that take place in countries other than Europe or America such as Africa, India, China, and the like.

    Am not a happy panda to hear this, because I love “exotics” and because I have heard this many times before. And yet there are many “exotic” historical romances that made it to readers’ keeper lists. The Windflower. As You Desire. The Far Pavilions. Some of Loretta Chase’s historicals. Etc. Argh, this really is making me cranky. :D

    This makes me tremendously sad, but maybe the future will change as the romance community becomes increasingly international.

    I don’t understand this comment. What do you mean?

    I’m wondering because the romance community has always been international. We have readers from all over the world. Some of our best known reader bloggers are from abroad including Singapore, Australia, Brazil, France, the UK, South Africa and Uruguay.

  15. Susan/DC
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:06:54

    I’m not surprised to read that in RL male cover models aren’t so tall. Even when the hero is described as a giant and the heroine as height-challenged in the text, if you look at the male model standing next to the female model on the cover, she usually is almost as tall as he is. I suppose it actually looks better that way, rather than having her come up to his chin.

    And to Zoe Archer, Sherry Thomas et al, yes, I will follow you to exotic locales. The issues about accurate gender roles are real, but I trust that you will manage to create more balanced yet believable relationships. I think Meredith Duran did a good job in her first book, although it is an example where the setting was exotic in the first half but the characters were British (or at least half so), so perhaps it is not entirely a propos.

  16. Terry Odell
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 17:06:03

    I just got home (and finally have decent computer access) and it was my first RT. My “favorite” cover model (given they were all out schmoozing constantly and none was really my kind of guy), was the one who readily admitted to being 40 years old. I think the rest were younger than my kids. It’s nice to know he wasn’t immediately written off because of his age. And since I write for Cerridwen Press, we got to hang with their cover models as well–not that male pulchritude was the high point of the conference. One of my book covers has a former “Mr. Romance” on it, and I was totally clueless about it. But when we were in line waiting (there was a lot of that), we were talking about the models, etc., and when I mentioned who was on my cover, there was a definite reaction from a whole lot of women. So, I guess some people actually pay attention.

  17. Kim Lowe/SOS Volunteer
    Apr 26, 2009 @ 03:59:43

    Just a few clarifications,

    - SOS: Dear Author refered to SOS as “Save Our Soldiers”. Actually, it is Support Our Soldiers (SOS) America Inc. – a 501(c) charity registered with DOD’s “America Supports You” program. Thanks to Bobbi Smith for organizing the “Mr. Romance Photo Shoot” as a fundraiser for SOS. The photo shoot was a fun way for readers to meet the contestants for the “Mr. Romance Contest.”

    Speaking of the contest, it is simply another form of entertainment at the convention. Beth Ciata and Mark Johnson (Mr. Romance 1996) were fabulous hosts. Both are multi-versital artists and the audience appreciated their extra effort!

    - Regencies: I did not perceive Kathe Robin as “not a fan of Regencies”, but just tired of them. She noted that we have been reading Regencies longer than the period existed. I’m sure if I read as many books as Kathe, I might grow tired too. Kathe also advocated for exotic locales and the return of pirates, swashbucklers, and cowboys. But Regencies in the British Isles remains my favorite genre and location.

    - Reader vs Author Convention: RT is unique in offering a wide range of programs for readers who often become “aspiring writers.” RT schedules readers’ parties and writers’ panels. I am a reader, but attend the panels because I enjoy hearing the writers talk about the craft. Last year, RT introduced Author Chats and continued the tradition this year. The chats provide an open forum with a variety of authors. I attended the chat with Cathy Maxwell, Brenda Jackson, Robyn Carr, and Elizabeth Hoyt. As a fan of Cathy and Elizabeth, I enjoyed their insight. But I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed meeting the other two authors, Brenda and Robyn. I’d like to see more Author Chats at future RT conventions.

    It was a great week in Orlando, but I am exhausted! I am looking forward to next year in Columbus!

  18. RT editor Liz
    May 01, 2009 @ 11:04:30

    I was gonna say all the things Kim Lowe said: “SUPPORT” our Soldiers; Kathe doesn’t dislike Regency-set historicals, just may be a bit tired of so many set in that era; and we try to have a mix of panels.

    It was great fun seeing you in the blogging flesh, Jane!

    Liz French

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