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Tuesday Midday Links Roundup: RWA Conference Faces Uncertainty with Nashville Flooding

Valerie Sherwood and Husband

This photo of Valerie Sherwood Bertrice Small is from a photo essay by Mary Ellen Mark. Reading the blurbs accompanying the photos brought to memory the days when Romantic Times would feature the lavish spreads of various authors’ homes, the implication being that these authors were part of the Robin Leach “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”   I remember being particularly awed over the Judith McNaught estate.   Oh, good times.   Thanks Maili for the link!

Sherwood (a.k.a. Jeanne Hines) and her husband bounce among their five East Coast homes but spend most of their time in a fusty Charlotte. N.C., ranch-style house, surrounded by 11,000 research volumes (among them a sizable collection on witchcraft), “oodles” of never-worn dress-up clothes and six cats, who have a suite all to themselves (“To Fuzzy,” reads one book dedication to a passed-away pet, “who smiled at adversity”).

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The site of the 2010 RWA conference is the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.   Given that the first floor of the Hotel is completely underwater, Gaylord is being proactive about contacting convention attendees that the site is unuseable for the next 90 days.   Last night, Gaylord began refunding the RWA attendees their deposits.   RWA will have to find a new location in less than three months for its convention.   Allison Kelley is meeting via teleconference with the Gaylord folks to find an alternative site.

I suppose it is possible that if a new location cannot be located (rumors are that the RWA convention is so large only a few hotels in the country can handle that capacity) the conference would be cancelled.

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Amy, a reader who professes to like the Dear Author site, sent me a link to this site called, “Circle the Cat“.    I say that Amy professes to like the DA site but this may be a crafty way to get me to abandon updates.   I spent a good thirty minutes trying to circle the cat.

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Written by Joan/Sarah F.: The National Leather Association International has announced the winners of its Pauline Reage Novel Award for excellence in writing and publishing about leather, SM, bondage and fetishes. The winner is Claire Thompson with her Submission Times Two. Honorable mention goes to James Buchanan with her Hard Fall.

Viewed at purely from the perspective of which is a better-written book, I’d personally have to go for Hard Fall, but Submission Times Two has a more obvious and consistent focus on BDSM as a theme as all three heroes are drawn together because of their BDSM needs, whereas it shows up as a logical extension of Joe’s character in Hard Fall towards the end of the book. So, with a focus purely on BDSM, I think NLA-I chose the right book of the two. And I did really enjoy STT a lot.

Overall, it’s heartening to see so much romance on the list of nominees. I haven’t reviewed the other two, but one was from Loose Id, so obviously was a romance as well: Melinda Barron’s Graceful Submission (Loose Id). The last nominee was Alex Ironrod, Obsession (Nazca Plains). Congratulations to Claire and James!

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Marisa and Maria of RomanceNovelTV may have taken a hiatus from shooting romance video, but you can still find them talking about their love for romances at the Barnes and Noble Heart to Heart Club blog.

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Mills and Boon has partnered with National Trust for a series of books involving the National Trust properties.   National Trust is hoping that the books will increase interest in the properties. I know I would probably be interested in visiting the homes where books are sent, particularly these grand homes.   For every novel sold at the National Trust properties, NT will receive 50p which will go toward the restoration of silk hangings at the Ham House.

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Remember last week when I posted you could by the JR Ward, Lover Mine for $9.99 and then sell it back to Amazon for over $7.00?   The mainstream media picked up on the fact that Amazon is downpricing the hardcover prices for Penguin books, apparently in an effort to get back at Penguin for not agreeing to whatever terms would bring Penguin Kindle books back.

Last Christmas, a number of online retailers, prompted by Amazon, began selling the bestsellers for $9.99.   Even Sears got into the game by providing a $9.00 gift card for every qualifying book you bought online at Target, Wal-Mart, or Amazon.

I think the big question is whether Amazon is willing to shoulder the loss leader pricing of more than just Penguin hardcovers and if so, for how long?   Not only is Amazon showing its customers that it is willing to discount but it is also working to push customer expectations downward as to the acceptable print price of hardcovers.   If Amazon sold the print frontlist of all publishers at $9.99, wouldn’t consumers start to think that hardcovers should all be priced at that rate and that the digital books should be even lower?   Amazon’s strategy would be successful only if all the major online retailers joined in the price war as they did last Christmas.   Maybe this isn’t Amazon’s strategy and the current Penguin pricing is just to punish Penguin.

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From Reader Preeti, Deborah Smith has been tweeting that Little Brown, a division of Hachette, is selling unauthorized digital copies of her books.   I found two books being sold on the iPad by Hachette:   On Bear Mountain and Alice at Heart.   On Bear Mountain has a publication date of 2001 for Little Brown but was released by Belle Books in print format in 2009.

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

29 Comments

  1. Barbara Bretton
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:23:11

    I’m pretty sure that’s a photo of my friend Bertrice Small and her wonderful husband George.

    ReplyReply

  2. DS
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:39:59

    I’ve been to a convention at the Opryland. It was some years ago and the hotel was both huge and lush. Had a room with a window on the inside looking down at the tropical plantings in the conservatory area. Also had a Sunday brunch to die for with pitchers of mimosas– the drink, not the tree. Quite one of the nicest hotels I have been to in the US.

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  3. Chloe Harris (Noelle)
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:40:58

    @Barbara Bretton

    I was wondering about that when I saw where Valerie Sherwood lives. The picture above Beatice’s in the article looks much more like someone that might be my neighbor.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jane
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:44:34

    @Barbara Bretton Whoops! Thanks for pointing out the error.

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  5. Kalen Hughes
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:45:18

    I think the big question is whether Amazon is willing to shoulder the loss leader pricing of more than just Penguin hardcovers and if so, for how long?

    I’ve been savaged for saying this about their price scheme for Kindle books again and again. They’re creating a new pricing expectation in readers and eventually they’re going to try and force publishers to adopt this as the “real” price of the book. They’re not going to eat the loss forever . . . I’m just wondering how long before publishers wise up and yank their entire catalog from Amazon?

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  6. Barbara Bretton
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:47:37

    I’d never seen that photo before — I’m glad you posted it.

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  7. Jane
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:49:11

    @Kalen Hughes: I think we’ve disagreed in the past because you kept misinterpreting what a loss leader was.

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  8. Kalen Hughes
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:53:55

    Oh, and the whole situation in Nashville is just heartbreaking. I’ve got friends driving here with their two Newfies in tow because they had to get out and had nowhere to go with giant dogs and my brother in L.A. has a bunch of musician friends on their way to crash at his place until the waters recede.

    I hope they have an easier time with the recovery than New Orleans.

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  9. Kalen Hughes
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:54:32

    No, I know what a loss leader is.

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  10. Jane
    May 04, 2010 @ 11:59:30

    @Kalen Hughes: From your past comments:

    Because when WalMart makes a book a “loss leader” they absorb the loss. When Amazon does it, they're passing the loss on to the publisher (aka they're pricing it as a a loss leader, but refusing to accept the cost of doing so).

    This is where I specifically disagreed with you (if you are referring to being savaged here). Amazon was taking the loss just as Wal-mart was and thus was using the price point as a loss leader to get people hooked on the proprietary format.

    That’s still what I think Amazon is doing. Whether they will exert downward pressure on prices in the future, I don’t know. They haven’t done that so far and I think it’s unlikely that it will have success with the print publishing suppression but it’s presumably a danger.

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  11. Kim in Hawaii
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:12:49

    Thank you, Jane, for posting the romantic photo of Bertrice and George Small. It is a timeless picture of love and romance.

    George is a WWII veteran and wore his original Army uniform to the SOS Military Mixer at RT/Pittsburgh in 2008. When I inquired about his military service, he shared a letter he wrote to a schoolgirl for a history project. I recently featured an excerpt in the May issue of the SOS Newsletter:

    http://www.sosaloha.blogspot.com/

    George’s words are a touching tribute as we remember military families on Memorial Day. I salute George for his service to his country and his love for his family. I can see why Bertrice has dedicated so many of her books to him.

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  12. Amy
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:33:07

    Just saying–and I’m not the Amy who sent the link–I circled the cat in no time. /brag

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  13. Janie
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:43:16

    @DS: RWA can use a convention center and multiple hotels. That would be much better than cancelling. I have visited some areas in TN that would be great. Gatlinburg is located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. I think this would be a great atmosphere for the event.

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  14. Courtney Milan
    May 04, 2010 @ 12:54:56

    I’m not sure canceling is an option for RWA. The bylaws obligate them to hold an annual conference, with attendant Annual General Meeting for the membership. I have not seen any indication that canceling is on the table.

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  15. Carol Stacy
    May 04, 2010 @ 13:05:14

    We feel for our friends at RWA and hope that they can find a venue to accommodate their attendees.

    If any organization can make this work it’s them the only question is, is there another hotel big enough? I agree a convention center would definitely work and most have satellite hotels that should accommodate the crowds.

    My heart goes out to RWA and its members and if there is anything we can do to help don’t hesitate to ask.

    Sincerely,
    Carol Stacy

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  16. Bertrice Small
    May 04, 2010 @ 14:01:30

    The photo shown was taken in the late summer/early autumn of 1981 or 1982, I think. LIFE Magagine did a spread featuring Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, Shirley Busbee, Johanna Lindsay, Valerie Sherwood, Jennifer Wilde, a.k.a. Tom E. Huff, Janet Dailey and me. I was thrilled to be included. We were posed in the driveway of our house, the first house we ever owned, purchased in 1979. It was a 25 year old farm colonial, and while we still own it our son and his family live in it now although George and I moved up the street to a lovely 1957 ranch we renovated 2 years ago this month. Our neighborhood is a small subdivision of 4 streets with one way in and out opened up in 1953. The houses are ’50s, ’60s and ’70s ranches and colonial. It’s such a magical place that many kids who grew up here come back to live.

    I miss the more author/reader centered RT too. If they ever come back to the northeast I might even get to go.

    Poor RWA! My chapter even bought T-Shirts advertising us. They were really looking forward to going. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a small miracle.

    Your most faithful author, Bertrice Small

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  17. Jackie Barbosa
    May 04, 2010 @ 14:43:29

    The problem RWA is likely to have with the conference isn’t simply that facilities large enough to accommodate the convention are relatively few, but that most a booked literally years in advance. My company has a conference every year that’s roughly 1/2 the size of the RWA convention and there is only place in our city that can accommodate a conference of our size (we are too small to justify the convention center but too large for any other hotels).

    That said, I’m sure the contract with Gaylord requires the hotel operator to assist in finding suitable alternative facilities and to pay any attendant increase in costs for RWA. I think it’s unlikely the conference will be canceled altogether, but I do wonder how people who already purchsed nonrefundable plane tickets will be compensated if they have to change their flights at this late stage. I hope Gaylord’s insurance will cover those expenses, too.

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  18. Melissa G
    May 04, 2010 @ 15:28:12

    Vegas, baby.

    There are more hotels than you can shake a stick at and many of the larger ones can handle the conference needs in-house. Business has been way down so RWA might stand a chance in finding a hotel that can accommodate. It’s also very cheap to fly into/out of so everyone who’s already booked their flights might not get dinged too heavily on airline costs by the time they pay change fees.

    The biggest problem I find with Vegas for conventions is the distraction of the city/gambling itself, tends to draw people away from conferences, but at this point that’s probably the least of their concerns.

    Such a shame.

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  19. Anion
    May 04, 2010 @ 16:56:50

    @Kalen Hughes: Kalen, if it’s any consolation, me and all my friends agree with you 100%.

    Nashville isn’t too far from me so I’d been considering driving over there for a day to hang out/meet up with friends in the bar. If the conference moves too far from that general area, though, I won’t be able to. My heart breaks for the people of Nashville; a lovely city.

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  20. Liza
    May 04, 2010 @ 17:50:33

    I’m still really hoping there is a way it can stay in Nashville. I live here, so I could afford the conference fee since I didn’t have to pay for travel. I’m lucky that my house isn’t in the flooded area. The Cumberland has at least crested now, so hopefully the water levels will get back to normal in the next few days.

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  21. Lorraine
    May 04, 2010 @ 18:29:57

    Thanks for the photo essay link. It was great good fun to go back in time. In the 70s I loved reading Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, both of whom I credit with giving me a lifelong love of history and romance novels. Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and The Dove still remains one of my all time favorites.

    Strangely enough, I don’t believe I ever read anything by Janet Dailey or Valerie Sherwood. I’ll have to check them out at my local UBS.

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  22. helen
    May 04, 2010 @ 19:19:59

    My jaw dropped re the news that Hatchette is selling copies of authors books it does not have the copyright to. Unbelievable. What author would want to work with such a disreputable company? Did they think they would not get caught?

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  23. Kaetrin
    May 04, 2010 @ 20:18:06

    That circle the cat site is evil!

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  24. illukar
    May 04, 2010 @ 20:18:53

    @Kalen Hughes: It makes me wonder why they haven’t already. When the Macmillan books were dropped, a great many readers found alternate outlets.

    Amazon has a huge amount of power, but they can’t really say: “Play with us or don’t play at all”. And they’ll founder if even three of the big six refuse to sell through them.

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  25. Lisa Hendrix
    May 04, 2010 @ 22:12:44

    No doubt the RWA staff are considering every possibility right now, including convention centers. However, the problem with the convention center/multiple hotel scenario is that RWA gets *huge* discounts from single venue conference hotels because they’re filling 600+ rooms for that hotel plus buying a lot of catering. In fact, the workshop spaces usually turn out to be free or nearly so. The organization would have to pay full cost for a convention center – a significant expense for the amount of space we use – and I’m not clear on how that cost would be absorbed. Also, adequate/quality catering for the sit down meals can be an issue at convention centers.

    Those additional costs, plus security issues (things like homeless men wandering in off the streets to harass members inside the convention center, which happened in Seattle in ’88) are the reason RWA decided years ago to stick with single venue conference hotels. The relatively small number of such hotels that have both enough break out spaces for workshops/ed-agent appointments and can also accommodate 2000+ people for lunch or dinner in one room, is why the conferences are booked out 10 years in advance.

    I’m sure RWA and their conference management folks are scrambling to find someplace both suitable and available (a big issue, when every other convention scheduled into Nashville this summer is also hustling a new location). Give them a few days. I’m confident that is there’s any way to make it work, they will -’and beautifully.

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  26. The other Amy
    May 04, 2010 @ 22:24:47

    @Jane: I just wanted to share the joy I found when I managed to trap the cat! (Though I must confess I may have been motivated slightly by a desire to share the pain as well.) :grin:

    @Amy: I caught the kitty pretty quickly the first few times I played. But then I couldn’t duplicate my success in a consistent way as the board changes. That is one clever kitty!

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  27. JessicaP
    May 05, 2010 @ 05:49:09

    I just finished Submission Times Two yesterday, and really enjoyed it.

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  28. Jackie Barbosa
    May 05, 2010 @ 09:34:57

    @Lisa Hendrix: I am sure RWA and Gaylord are insured for this. Any additional costs incurred as a result of having to change the conference venue should be covered by that insurance. I doubt RWA is going to have to dig into its own pockets to cover any difference in pricing related to a change of venue (although whether individual members will have to absorb the cost of changing their flight arrangements remains to be seen).

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  29. Bonnie B
    May 05, 2010 @ 18:18:48

    re Circle the Cat … I got it in 5 tries. Thank gawd, I thought my whole evening was going to be sucked up by that thing! ;p

    ReplyReply

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