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Celebrate Romance Report 2007

This is a special report from Karen W who is one of the primary organizers of a fan run conference called Celebrate Romance. When Karen shared this with me, I thought that everyone would be interested in the thoughts of the attendees and authors about the state of romance.

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I just got back from the Celebrate Romance conference yesterday, and I thought I’d tell you all about it. It was a lot of fun. We were seriously considering ending the conference after this year, but this year’s conference was so enjoyable, we’ve started to reconsider, although the final decision hasn’t been made yet.

I didn’t leave for the conference until Friday morning this year. One of my friends offered me her frequent flyer miles for my flight, and because she’s such a good customer, I was upgraded to first class! What a nice experience compared to flying coach. (I think I’m spoiled now…)

I arrived in Kansas City at 8:30 am, and went out to breakfast with some of my friends. It was great to see some of my “romance friends”, who are scattered across the country (and in Canada!). I didn’t get to attend CR last year because of my job change, so this was my first chance to see some of them in two years. So it was nice to catch up with everyone. We made a quick bookstore run on our way back to the hotel, then spent the rest of the morning and afternoon chatting and relaxing.

The conference started at 5 pm on Friday. I spent a lot of my time on Friday night dealing with conference stuff (collecting raffle baskets, organizing books for the book trade, helping attendees who were stranded at various airports due to weather, etc.) but I got to meet some of the new attendees, as well as old friends. We also had dinner and a lot of people brought desserts to share, so it was a relaxed evening. We spent the late night hours stuffing goody bags – as usual, we got a lot of bookmarks, cover flats, pens and various promotional items. We also got several big boxes of books – Patricia Grasso’s publisher sent two huge boxes of books, the same titles that she’d sent the year before.

I woke up Saturday morning to see snow falling! Thankfully it didn’t last, but it was fun to see snow for the first time this year. Saturday is our busiest day. We had three speakers in the morning. The first speaker was Cybil Solyn, who is one of the organizers of CR, and also the owner of Rakehell, the Regency web site. Her talk was titled “The Rise of Erotica and the Death of the Regency“. She started off by asking how many people read Regencies, and about 2/3 of the attendees raised their hands. Then she asked how many people read erotica, and only about 1/4 or less of the attendees agreed. CR attendees probably aren’t “typical” romance readers, but it shows that the popularity of erotica is probably overstated.

Cybil also mentioned that Ellora’s Cave, of all people, is starting a new imprint which will be focusing on traditional Regencies. It’s called Cerridwen Press, and it will have a variety of genres, but evidently they see a niche for Regencies and they’re looking for Regency manuscripts. It may be a few months before they show up on the web site – right now there are only a few – but I found that interesting.

There was a lot of talk at this year’s CR about the “future of Romance” and Cybil mentioned one rumor that’s been flying around: “The Historical Is Dead“. Everyone dismissed this, but the publishers are much more interested in paranormal and contemporary right now. However, there is some resurgence, and publishers are looking for historical manuscripts, but the books that are being written now won’t show up on the shelves for a couple of years, so the next year or two may be sparse when it comes to historicals.

One interesting thing about this year’s CR was that we had quite a few young authors – in their mid to late 20′s – and it wasinteresting to hear their perspective on the romance industry. (Although a bit depressing to think that I was reading romance probably before they were born… I feel old.) The next speaker was Michelle Bardsley, a fairly new and young author who writes “vampire mom” books. Her talk was entitled “Putting The Normal In Paranormal“.

What I found most interesting was that she specifically targeted her book to current trends. She said that she went to the bookstores and looked at what was selling, then found a niche that she thought wasn’t being served and wrote her book accordingly. She wrote a humorous book about a single mom who becomes a vampire, and evidently it’s doing very well. (It’s called I’m the Vampire, That’s Why .)

A lot of authors talk about their “muse” and how they change to different genres “because I was inspired to try something new” even if they’re doing it partly for sales. It seems like the younger authors are more upfront about targeting their books to the market, especially in order to get their first books sold.

The third speaker was Jenna Petersen, who talked about “Kick Ass Heroines: How They Are Changing Romance“. She’s another young author, and she talked about how she was inspired by Buffy etc. But it turned into an interesting discussion about reader’s perceptions about heroines. I commented that historical authors have to walk afine line between making the heroine strong and making her historically inaccurate, and one of the other authors asked “is this really historical accuracy, or just the reader’s perspective of historical inaccuracy?” Several authors mentioned that readers called their heroines “inaccurate” even when they were based on real historical figures. I wasn’t completely convinced – I think some heroines have attitudes are just historically inaccurate, and I don’t think a heroine has to be a feisty sword fighter to be “strong” – but clearly a lot of people really want strong “kick ass” heroines in their books, whether it’s historically accurate or not. Every time Jenna mentioned that she based one of her heroines on Buffy or Charlie’s Angels, there was enthusiastic cheering. So I don’t think this is a trend that’s going away.

After a break, we split up into two groups and had two discussion sections. The first one was “Characters, Plot or Cock: What Makes a Book Sexy?” This was led by Jade Lee and Elizabeth Hoyt (author of The Raven Prince). Jade Lee spent a lot of time discussing her books. But the main point we kept coming back to in this discussion was that sexiness comes out of the characters, not from sex scenes. One author mentioned that Ellora’s Cave requires that their books start with a sex scene. Blaze recommends that you have a sex scene within the first 50 pages, if I remember correctly. Other publishers aren’t that strict, but it’s clear that publishers (and readers) want sex in the books. The authors wanted to know what readers think about this, and how to bring emotional content into a book that has a lot of sex. (So the authors are aware of the problems of too much sex.) The consensus was that it can work to have an early sex scene (I mentioned Mary Balogh’s The Notorious Rake) but the author has to make sure that the emotional connection is there. Most readers want at least some sex in their books but want the sex scenes to enhance the characters, not the other way around. I haven’t read The Raven Prince yet, but a scene from that book involving kissing was mentioned as being more sexy than the actual sex scenes.

The second discussion group was “Market Glut: What Do Readers Really Want?” This was led by Melody Thomas, Amy Knupp and Kay Stockham. (The latter two authors write for Superromance.) There was a lot of discussion of trends and whether the trends are changing. The two year rule was mentioned – it takes two years for a book to go from anauthor’s desk to the bookstore shelf, so even when a trend is “over”, it takes two years for that to be reflected in the books that are published. Paranormal is still hot, but the new trend is for witches, magic and more fantasy elements, rather than just vampires and werewolves. Historicals may be coming back. Harlequin is uncertain right now, with the failure of Bombshell and the reshuffling of their series lineup. Humorous contemporaries are big sellers.

Melody asked “what kind of book would you like to see on the shelves that you’re not seeing now” and I immediately jumped in with “books with more emotional content, particularly historicals”. She agreed, and said that decreasing page counts may be part of the reason for the change to lighter books. No one could say exactly why books are getting shorter, but Melody speculated that it started out due to higher paper costs, and then stayed because of younger readers with shorter attention spans. She said that her page count had dropped by 1/3 since she first started writing. Several authors also mentioned that there has been a lot of turnover in editors in the last few years, and most of the editors are very young right now – early to mid 20′s. This affects what kinds of books get published, how the books are edited, and the push toward shorter, faster books. (The “young editor issue” was mentioned several times during the conference.)

After this discussion, we had lunch, followed by a break and a scavenger hunt to break up the day. Most people started wandering back into the conference rooms, and I talked to some readers and authors. I had one interesting discussion about publishers. A lot of people here don’t like Avon very much, but the consensus among the authors was that Avon was the best publisher by far. The authors said that Avon does much better than the other publishers in terms ofgetting the books on the shelves, publicizing books and authors, getting ARC’s out to reviewers in a timely manner, etc. Several of the other publishers ignore the authors and expect them to do all of their own promotion. So the authors really want to be with Avon, because their books will sell. Dorchester was mentioned as a publisher who isn’t as focused on trends and who is willing to publish books with unusual settings or themes. No one seems to know what’s going on at Harlequin.

In the afternoon, we had our last discussion session – “The Future Of Romance: Not So Happy Endings, Atypical Heroines, Futuristic/Fantasy and Everything Else“. One main focus of this discussion was that readers have to let the publishers know what they want. Several authors and other romance insiders said that editors were sometimes out of touch, and didn’t necessarily know what readers wanted. The “young editor problem” was mentioned, along with editors being located in New York (not much of a romance mecca). Authors emphasized that while they passed along comments from readers, the comments had a lot more impact if they came directly from readers. Several people mentioned the revival of Harlequin Historical as a victory for readers – Harlequin saved HH because of reader comments, and now it seems to be going strong. So there was a big push for readers to send email and/or snail mail to publishers or editors. All the authors said that editors really pay attention to reader mail.

A couple of publishers are experimenting with multi-book series, where there may not be a happy ending in every book. The JD Robb books were mentioned, along with the Sookie Stackhouse books and the Evanovich books. Suzanne Enoch (who wasn’t at CR) was mentioned as an author who has written a three book series with the same couple featured in every book. This seems to be a test to see if this type of book works for romance readers (and if it does, more might be on
the way). CR attendees were not very enthusiastic about this, and said that in a romance, they expected a happy ending. Mystery and fantasy books had different expectations.

More crossover books are on the way, especially romances with fantasy elements. The driving force seems to be drawing in readers who might not otherwise read romance, but there’s a real concern about alienating traditional romance readers. Although paranormal is clearly very popular, there were quite a few people at CR who felt that they weren’t finding the books they wanted to read, and I think many of the authors shared their frustration (and mentioned again that readers should email publishers about it).

In the late afternoon on Saturday, we had the book trade, followed by a night out at a local barbecue restaurant. That was a lot of fun. I picked up four Lori Herter vampire books at the book trade – these are hard to find, but I don’t know if they’re any good. I also won a raffle basket with some Ellora’s Cave books, so I guess I’ll finally try one!

On Sunday we had three more speakers, mostly light and funny talks. Lorraine Heath spoke about “The Victorian World vs. The Regency World“. She said that because Westerns went “out of fashion” she had to pick a new era, and she didn’t find the Regency period very appealing. So she started considering Victorian, and she talked about the differences between the two eras. She mentioned the difference in attitude – the Regency era was a period of national pride, due to the Napoleonic wars, while the Victorian era was much darker and more cynical, especially due to the English involvement inquestionable wars like the Crimean and Boer wars. She also talked about the hardening of class lines in the US during this period (with “The 100″ in New York society) and how this led to American heiresses going to England to find husbands. It was an interesting talk, and it makes me more interested in reading Lorraine Heath’s recent books (which have sat unread in my TBR pile).

Terry McLaughlin spoke about movie heroes, and Isabo Kelly talked about “Sexual Oddities in the Animal Kingdom“. Both light and fun talks that made everyone laugh. We also had a cake to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the conference.

Then we had the book signing. I talked briefly with Elizabeth Hoyt, and told her that The Raven Prince was extremely popular with online readers. She is very shy, and said she was surprised and thrilled by the reception of her first book. The sequel, The Leopard Prince, is due out next month. (I tried to win an ARC of the new book in the raffle, but I didn’t win. :-<)

I talked to Vicki Lewis Thompson about her nerd books, and she said that it brought her a lot of readers who don’t normally read romance. She said that the books were often mentioned on “nerd-related” bulletin boards, and that a lot of these readers said things like “I would never read a romance, but I read your books”. She commented that it showed that heroes don’t have to be the typical “alpha male” types. She’s going to be writing a paranormal series next.

Jane: Thanks for allowing us to share this with the readers here, Karen. If you readers have any suggestions on what you would like to see at future CR gatherings, let us know. Locations, authors, topics. It’s always good to have feedback. Thanks again.

Guest Reviewer

35 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 05:50:40

    Oh, I so jealous that you went. I would have loved to have gone but it was not in the cards. Do you know if this will ever be in the Chicagoland area?

    Even though I’m a reader and not a writer (I wouldn’t even dream of writing a book) just to meet some of my favorite authors would make my day. I laughed out loud when you mentioned that

    Patricia Grasso’s publisher sent two huge boxes of books, the same titles that she’d sent the year before.

    She is one of my favorite authors.

  2. Jorrie Spencer
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 06:19:43

    Interesting, fun read. Thanks, Karen! To show how out of loop I am, I’d never heard of Celebrate Romance before.

  3. Laura Vivanco
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 06:32:39

    No one could say exactly why books are getting shorter, but Melody speculated that it started out due to higher paper costs, and then stayed because of younger readers with shorter attention spans.

    I don’t know if I count as ‘young’ any more, since I’m over 30. I like category romances (which, obviously, are short) but I really don’t think this is because I’ve got a short attention span.

    I wonder if the trend towards shorter books could be to do with (a) the technical issues involved in writing a good, longer books and (b) the preferences (not the mental deficiencies) of the readers.

    Obviously some writers can write long books very well, in ways which engage their readers and have them eagerly awaiting the next tome but I’ve noticed authors talking about ‘sagging middles’ in books. In one article, for example, (and I put a link in but then my comments didn’t seem to come through, so I’m trying without the link) Alicia Rasley, warns of the danger of ending up with a plot that either goes round in circles, or which strings together one event after another, to fill up the middle of the book, and I wonder if shorter books are less likely to sag. Obviously it depends on if there’s a sub-plot and how developed it is, but in terms of relationship development in romances, the author needs to give us reasons why the couple should be kept apart until the very end of the book. In a shorter novel there’s less temptation/need to resort to bizarre twists which separate the lovers, or repeated ‘I love you, no I hate you, now I love you again’ scenarios.

    This takes me on to reader preferences. I wonder if many readers prefer emotionally intense books which have a lot of focus on the relationship but they don’t want that to include lots of fights and Big Misunderstandings. If that’s the case, then stringing the length of the book out by adding extra plot developments isn’t going to be so popular, and maybe that’s also a factor which affects book length.

  4. Jayne
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 06:56:42

    The link that Laura was trying to insert is here.

  5. Tilly Greene
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 07:03:38

    This was very interesting, and I never saw it advertised…I think I would have enjoyed this conference. The part about book lengths had me thinking: if its an ebook I’m shopping for, my fingers will move away from the longer titles, but if I’m standing in a bookshop looking at paper, I’m more open to any length…long or short. However, that being said, I rarely, if ever, buy a tradepaperback, its either hardcover or mass market.

    Isn’t it great – as readers we have these unique parameters to shape what we’ll buy :-)

  6. Charlene
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 07:35:07

    Interesting report. Two things: Cerridwen Cotillion is the regency line at Ellora’s Cave’s Cerridwen Press imprent. Cerridwen is a mainstream imprint that encompasses all kinds of fiction, Cotillion is the line dedicated to traditional regency. Several titles have already been published in this line.

    Also, having made multiple sales to Ellora’s Cave, including the two titles I submitted to the Ellora’s Cavemen anthologies being selected as representing the best of EC, I can say with some authority that you are NOT required to start a book with sex. Most of my EC stories have the first sex scene anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 through the story.

  7. Billie
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 08:11:56

    If the publishers think that we, as adults have shorter attention spans then that doesn’t speak well of their opinion of their target audience. It’s also interesting in the respect that at least one of the Harry Potter books was over 700 pages–and that was a book written for children! As for myself, I’m often disappointed in the emotional brevity found in the category books, as well as some of the series books, I still read both though.

  8. Eva Gale
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 08:59:56

    Funny how they percieved that historicals were out. I remember–maybe a month ago?–that Kristen Nelson (Pub Rants) posted that she had two editors asking for historicals.

    And I just got done listening to a RWA CD in where Hilary Sares said that the Kensington line of historicals (Zebra ?) was alive and well.

    As far as emotion in books, everyone is different, and I’ll use how Jane and I percieved Megan Hart’s Dirty. She thought it not emotional at all, and I thought it was gut wrenching.

  9. Eva Gale
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:06:19

    And, I have a theory about the supposed inaccuracies historical heroines. Maybe after 20 some odd years of getting Magic Hoohoo historical heroines, readers think that THOSE were actually accurate? ( or the hisory course a la romance) Where now, the new generation of historical writers know that that was not the case? If it were, where would the suffragettes have come from?

  10. Keishon
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:13:50

    that sexiness comes out of the characters

    Amen to that. I read that and had to comment on it. Excellent point made there because if you have very little love scenes, don’t even have to be that graphic either and still have the couple be hot. I don’t know why we even have sensuality ratings because they are so subjective. What’s “hot” to you may not be “hot” to me because of the “characters.” Everything starts with your characters, no matter what it is.

    Excellent article thanks for sharing this. Very insightful. I’m not into the paranormal trend right now unless I’ve already bought them. I honestly hope it ends soon.

  11. Jorrie Spencer
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:14:59

    Eva—I agree that fiction can inform what we think of as historically accurate. I mean, how can we be sure that what we think of is ‘real’ is from a novel or that history book we read? As I get up in the years, I’m not always certain from where I get my ideas.

    Anyway, there is also the matter of heroines and heroes having beliefs (about women, slavery, classism) in line with today’s ideas of what is right, while the villains, for some reason, have all these ugly prejudices. One book like that fine, but when every book has a feminist heroine and hero who treat their servants like family, etc. etc. it starts to feel old. (I’m exaggerating, I know. And for the record, I also think it’s extremely tricky to write convincing historical.)

  12. Jane
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:16:55

    Historical accuracy aside (and I frankly don’t believe that it is historically accurate that all these women rode like a man, shot like a man, and basically was a man except for the fact she had a va jay jay), I am so tired of the fiesty, spunky, anachronistic historical heroine that I refuse to buy any book that has “fiesty” and “spunky” on the back cover copy.

  13. Eva Gale
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:32:18

    Jane, I think the ‘anything you can do I can do better’ historical heroine is not all accurate either. I mean, I’m sure there were some women like that. In the civil war there were women spies who dressed in pants etc-there is always the exception I’m saying, but there is nothing less strong about a woman who wears a corset and dress and tackles her problems with her own brand of strength.

    There is nothing new under the sun. If there are stong women now, there have always been. I actually stopped reading historicals because of the reason you state. I’m happy for the call out, I hope there is a new kind of heroine birthed from it. In Kinsale’s FFtS, Maddy is NOT a pants wearing, fiesty, mouthy heroine, but no one can argue that she is not strong. Right?

    Jorrie, I agree. that would be an exceptional character arc to write where a heroine was not only ie:racist, but that she thouht herself right and had to tackle the problems of her blooming relationship. I can’t see though in today’s market a reader getting behind and rooting for a racist heroine. UNLESS she overcame it as part of her arc.

  14. Jane
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:35:51

    No, there are exceptions but its the exceptions that are constantly written about and that is why the anachronistic heroine is tiresome. And by accurate, maybe readers are saying, someone more reflective of the times. Suffragettes were few and far between in the Regency days. One of the reasons I loved The Duke and I by Julia Quinn was because the heroine was so ordinary. She wanted to get married. She wanted to have a family. She liked being a girl.

  15. Tara Marie
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:36:46

    Jane said:

    I am so tired of the fiesty, spunky, anachronistic historical heroine that I refuse to buy any book that has “fiesty" and “spunky" on the back cover copy.

    You and me both :D At least for me “fiesty” has come to mean TSTL–heroines who act first, think second and inevitably need some sort of rescuing.

    Congrats to Karen on the Lori Herter find–they are incredibly hard to come by.

  16. Tara Marie
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:44:26

    One author mentioned that Ellora’s Cave requires that their books start with a sex scene.

    Is this true?

  17. Jane
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:52:19

    With the length of EC books, the 50 page requirement could mean that the book is 1/2 the way through, particularly those novellas which are under 100 pages in length.

    Also, interesting to hear what Lisa Kleypas had to say about Avon. Andrea at the Suzanne Brockmann message board reported that during last night’s signing Kleypas told the readers that she wanted to put Daisy and Cam together but Avon (or her editor) “refused to let her have a Gypsy hero” (as the reader stated).

    I thought Kleypas’ comments on the AAR board
    showed something interesting about the direction historicals have taken:

    I think and hope the success of Devil In Winter on the bookstands was a sign of changes happening in the historical romance marketplace. It seemed for a while that the lighter, less intense romances were more in demand than the darker ones, and that as a result there was sometimes a “homogenized” feeling to the available selections. I enjoy both varieties, but I’ve always felt that a deeper, more intense romance novel can reach different places in your heart than the lighter ones . . . and readers certainly deserve to have a choice. I think (and this is just my opinion) that no matter what the genre or subgenre, readers right now are asking for an intensity of experience, that they would rather authors err on the side of “too much” rather than blandness.”

  18. Jane
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:53:14

    TM – I totally agree on the word “fiesty”. It’s like you have to read the back cover blurbs with like rental descriptons. Great bones = need lots of work. etc.

  19. Taekduu
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 09:56:59

    When everyone is saying “young” are you saying in chronological age or in reading experience? I was wondering because I am in my 20s but I have been reading for a very long time. I don’t feel it is fair to blame any specific group for changes in books. I will read a good book, I don’t much care where it’s set as long as it is well-written. I like a well-written historical as well and lately I am staying away from the regency because if I have to read one more I might actually vomit.

    In terms of length, I personally prefer a longer novel. However there is much to be said for a tightly written work where every word counts. We are not living in the age of Dickens when you got paid by words. Perhaps some of these authors should evaluate whether they are being encouraged towards a shorter book simply because they had a few that could have ended at least 50-100 pages earlier?

  20. Laura Vivanco
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 10:24:56

    Andrea at the Suzanne Brockmann message board reported that during last night’s signing Kleypas told the readers that she wanted to put Daisy and Cam together but Avon (or her editor) “refused to let her have a Gypsy hero" (as the reader stated).

    It looks as though Cam’s going to be the hero of Kleypas’ next book, Mine Til Midnight. In an interview with Michelle Buonfiglio at Romance Buy the Book she says:

    I’ve just finished my first historical for St.Martin’s, titled “Mine Till Midnight,” and the hero is Cam Rohan, the sexy and mysterious character who appeared in “Devil In Winter.”

    So clearly St. Martin’s are quite happy for her to have him as a hero.

  21. EC Sheedy
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 10:37:47

    Thanks, Karen, for a great report on a conference that sounded really worthwhile–and a lot of fun. I’ll admit to my complete ignorance of Celebrate Romance, so you have certainly educated me.

    One thing really struck me: the suggestion by some of the attending authors that readers email/snailmail the publisher and let their opinions be known. I totally agree!

    Publishers and editors spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the reader wants. Sadly their single biggest indicator of trends is dollars-in-the till–which is all about what has sold before. There’s nothing wrong with that; publishing is a business after all, but numbers are stats, dead things indicating what was rather than what could be. Readers wants and opinions–particularly if there are enough of them–supersede them by far. I would like to visualize an editor going into a sales meeting with a printout of reader feedback along with last month’s sales report when she/he tries to get acceptance for a new work. And I’d like to think those opinions would make a difference in identifying fresh directions. They sure wouldn’t hurt!

    Thanks again for such an interesting post,
    EC Sheedy

  22. Eva Gale
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 10:54:36

    Suffragettes were few and far between in the Regency days.

    No, there were not many suffragettes in regency days, but I’m saying the spirit of that type must have been around. I’m also not saying that she had to be a bluestocking. There can be a quiet resilience and strength that gets goals accomplished. I haven’t read a regency in–I have no idea the last one I read. Maybe Stephanie Lauren’s Cynsters? I glutted and then never picked anuother one up.

    And, I agree with what you’re saying. But although you loved that Quinn book, I bet there were some people who backlashed that the heroine ‘Just wanted a family’.

  23. Jackie
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 11:04:11

    Authors emphasized that while they passed along comments from readers, the comments had a lot more impact if they came directly from readers.

    Yes, yes, yes.

  24. Tara Marie
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 11:16:59

    1. I can NOT believe Avon was so stupid on the Cam/Daisy thing. I’m glad LK is talking about it, maybe it’ll be a wake up call–LOL–as if Avon even cares.

    2. I’m watching Eva Gale and Jane’s conversation about historical accuracy and am finding it interesting. I think there’s a balance that some authors hit and others miss. For me it’s not necessarily about being a blue stocking or suffragette in the wrong time period, it’s about the reality of how someone outside of convention would have been accepted. Too far out of the norm and a woman probably would have been ostracized beyond redemption, not that that wouldn’t make an interesting book, but at the same time they wouldn’t then become the darling of society.

  25. Jo Leigh
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 11:21:36

    Blaze recommends that you have a sex scene within the first 50 pages, if I remember correctly.

    Nope. I’ve written for Blaze since the very beginning. I’ve never been required to write any number of sex scenes, or place them anywhere in the book.

  26. Katherine Kingston
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 11:48:26

    The write-up on the conference is fascinating and it sounds like fun. I hope it continues and I hope I get to go one of these years.

    I need to clear up one bit of misinformation, though. I’ve written more than a dozen stories for Ellora’s Cave, and in only one of them did I start with a sex scene. I did that only because the plot demanded it. In all the rest, it can take a while to get to the first sex scene. In one of my books the first sex scene doesn’t come until halfway through the book. (There is a lot of foreplay before it, though.)
    Because the EC books are focused on sex, and its plots are usually built around the sexual relationship, it’s true you have to get it started fairly early. Who would read a suspense plot that didn’t have anything threatening happen until halfway into the book?

  27. DS
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 07:41:06

    I remember a few years ago being rather dismayed by the fact that a vampire dark fantasy novel had so many ideas and so much information stuffed into it that it could have easily been two novels were the ideas developed. I was told that it was a cinematic presentation with lots of short scenes and cut aways. But novels are not limited to what should be shown on a screen so I ended up feeling cheated and didn’t continue with the series.

  28. Michele Bardsley
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 13:18:50

    Thank you for calling me young. LOL. I had so much fun at Celebrate Romance. It’s just the best get-together for romance authors EVER. I appreciate being mentioned in the article!

  29. Robin
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 13:19:31

    Fascinating post. I had no idea about the “young editor” syndrome, but it definitely seems to explain some things.

    One question, though: How do readers find out who is editing a particular author along with the info necessary to contact them?

  30. Meljean
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 17:26:34

    One question, though: How do readers find out who is editing a particular author along with the info necessary to contact them?

    One way might just be to e-mail the author; I can’t imagine that information would be protected in any way. I wouldn’t give out my editor’s e-mail address, but I would give snail mail contact (and the chance of an unsolicited e-mail being read would be iffy).

    Another way would be to contact the publisher, and ask.

  31. Lydia
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 18:18:19

    >No one could say exactly why books are getting shorter, but Melody speculated that it started out due to higher paper costs, and then stayed because of younger readers with shorter attention spans.

    Mine just got cut to 95k from 100k. I wrote one at 104k. My editor was more than a little concerned. In the actual book, it got compacted to 308 pages! I joke that production punishes me–the longer I write, the smaller print and the less the white space. :-P

  32. The Stalker on Sunday « Milady Insanity
    Mar 11, 2007 @ 07:03:32

    [...] One of the Celebrate Romance! organizers, Karen W, guestblogged at DearAuthor about their recent convention. [...]

  33. JulieLeto
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 14:38:01

    Gotta agree with Jo Leigh here…I was a launch author for Blaze and I wrote one of the 5th anniversary books this past August…no one has ever told me I needed a love scene in the first 50 pages or how many I had to have or anything. I’ve written Blazes were the love scenes come early and where they come very late. It’s all storyline dictated and character driven. Heat doesn’t necessarily come from the love scenes anyway.

    I went to Celebrate Romance once and found it so enjoyable. Some day, I’ll go again.

    BTW, on the historical heroine discussion…I don’t find strong heroines anachronistic at all. Every era of history has a kick-ass heroine of sorts–Cleopatra. Mata Hari. Annie Oakley. Molly Brown. Grace O’Malley. Catherine the Great. Those are just off the top of my head. For every woman who made it into the history books (no easy feat since men don’t really like this type of woman and therefore, is loathe to write too much about her or her contemporaries), there were probably hundreds if not more who had similar personalities, dreams and attitudes.

    That said, has anyone read Elizabeth Thornton’s historical, ALMOST A PRINCESS? That heroine was very happy with her station in life, but was still incredibly strong. Very much the lady. Making a heroine historically accurate doesn’t mean making her a doormat, IMO. I’d take an anachronistic strong heroine over a supposedly historically accurate simp any day. I’m reading a Victorian by Betina Krahn right now and the heroine is very smart and adventurous and from what I know of this time period, very accurate. Rare? Maybe…but still accurate. Not every woman was spanning the globe in search of archealogical treasures, but some were and that’s good enough for me.

  34. Dear Author.Com | Want Your Reader Voice to Be Heard?
    Mar 16, 2007 @ 11:03:33

    [...] is asking for Reader’s opinions.  It is clear from the comments here on the blog and at the Celebrate Romance event, that readers want the publishers to hear their voices.  So go make a difference and [...]

  35. Celebrate Romance Report 2008 | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Mar 11, 2008 @ 04:01:09

    [...] of the review blog “What I’m Reading and Other Tales” agreed to let us post a report she wrote about “Celebrate Romance,” the convention she helps organize each year. We [...]

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