Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

18 Really Awesome Things About the Romance Community

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I’ve been fatigued by the scandals and the bad behavior and the general discontent that’s going on these days. It seems like you can’t turn around without tripping over someone inserting their foot into their mouth and then some. The problem with that is there are actually some wonderful things going on this year in romance and the online romance community. I thought of a few, in no particular order:

  • Authortalk interviews. These are some of the best promotional videos I have seen since the start of the book trailer. The book birthing scene in the Kresley Cole interview was hilarious as was the scene in the Rachel Vincent one where Gina Showalter disgustingly draws on cat whiskers in eyeliner pencil on Vincent’s face. I even noticed that I started saying Savor Me SLOOOOWWLLLLYY whenever I see the title of Gina’s latest book.
  • The serial novel as started on author Dionne Galace’s blog, made popular by Bettie Sharpe’s retelling of Cinderella in Ember and satirized in Tumperkin’s fabulous The Unfeasibly Tall Greek Billionaires’ Blackmailed Martyr-Complex Secretary Mistress Bride.
  • Cover snark by Smart Bitches and Dionne Galace, helping us take the genre less seriously.
  • Blogger crusades to promote things like Lisa Kleypas’ book, Dreaming of You, and then Lisa Kleypas making memories with said blogger crusader, Kristie J (one of my all time favorite RWA moments).
  • Having a legitimate reason to talk about sex toys.
  • Getting to post about dildoes just for the fun of posting about dildoes (in other words, getting to post about dildoes for no legitimate reason).
  • Brenda Novak’s Diabetes Auction. It starts May 1st and runs until May 31st.
  • All About Romance’s Aid fundraisers.
  • Seeing books of authors that you love make the bestseller list like Patricia Briggs‘ No. 1 placement or new author, Ilona Andrews, with her No. 32 placement.
  • Seeing great new authors in your favorite genre (historical for me): Sherry Thomas and Joanna Bourne.
  • Having a place to talk about my favorite hobby with really, really smart women.
  • Finding a new love in an unlikely place: Lara Adrian (had a tepid reaction to Kiss of Midnight but fell in love with her writing with Midnight Awakening); Maya Banks (hated For Her Pleasure but went on a buying spree after Into the Mist and Sweet Surrender).
  • Making new friends with whom I spend way too many late Wednesday nights talking about romance books and the romance industry after Top Chef and Project Runway. (What will be our starting show after Top Chef is over. And OMG what are we to do with the Lifetime coopting Project Runway. Who will be the advertisers now? Pampers? Make the best couture gown you can out of the wadded cotton?).
  • The awesomesauce that is SB Sarah who was the greatest partner possible in the DA BWAHA tournament.
  • Ebooks. Yep, I went there. I love ebooks and I always will, both from small print epublishers like Samhain to the big publishers like Harlequin who is really technologically forward.
  • Making dirty movies with Legos. (Thanks for being a good sport, Claudia Dain).
  • Resources like Historical Romance, and the Romance Wiki and Teach Me Tonight.
  • All the authors, publishers, publicists, editors, agents, reviewers, industry folks, bloggers, and most importantly, readers, who have come together for community.

Are there others? You bet, but this is what I thought of. How about you?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. DS
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 04:23:18

    I’ll bite. The fact that the internet has made it possible, with a little effort, to find nearly any romance novel that has ever been printed.

  2. dionne galace
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 05:36:55

    dude. I got mentioned twice. TWICE.

    *tackle-hugs Jane*

  3. ilona andrews
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 06:08:38

    BFFs. Never underestimate the values of BFFs. All of mine either love romance or write it. You should see the weirdness that lands into my email box every day.

    Jan. Thanks to her, my twelve year old has a place to read manga reviews free of tentacle porn. Twelve years old says: Please review more scary manga with romance.

    Fictionwise and ebooks in general. I have 40 Johanna Lindsay books on my laptop and half that number in paperback. (Fabio as a half Native American Cowboy ranger. Oy.) :hoards: I think I will read Cardinia ones next.

  4. Kristie(J)
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 06:33:49

    Oh here here!!!!
    Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the drama that can happen in this fascinating, wonderful community, that we forget the truly wonderful things that go on. Some of mine include – of course number one is of course the RWA conference!! And meeting you and the other roomies, and the authors, the Dreaming of You crusade and more recently the laughs and fun Sula, Katie and I had planning The Great North and South Crusade and then seeing it spread across blogland, ‘meeting’ so many bloggers through it. Finding new bloggers, working together with Chris on the DA BWAHA tournament (and laughing about how badly we bombed on it). I love being able to laugh at myself, whether it’s through my total ineptness when it comes to techie type things or my frustration over the kitchen. I love discovering new books through other blogs I wouldn’t have otherwise tried such as Hidden by Eve Kenin or Lara Adrian. And having the good sense to ask Katie if she wanted to be a partner – and the anticipation of finally meeting her in person in San Fran.
    But most of all is the sense of community – the friendships with fellow romance lovers from all over the world. Even though I live by myself, I don’t feel lonely because there is always a friend out there.

  5. TrustMe_2_Forget
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 06:59:46

    I love that I have discover others with a similar sense of humor and snark and friends I can talk books about without the “oh you read smut” comments through the web.

  6. sula
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:14:49

    I echo what KristieJ said. It’s been such fun to get to know such a diverse group of people from all over the world with the common love of romance novels. Kristie’s enthusiasm for causes she adopts is so catching. She, katiebabs, and I had a blast doing the Great North and South Crusade.

    Thanks to the internet and the online community, I’ve made my first forays into another part of romance, the m/m romance story. I can’t remember exactly how it started, but now ManLove Mondays ™ are a regular occurrence on lisabea’s blog and mine as well. In addition to being a rollicking good time, we’ve also met (virtually) some great authors and been exposed to even more good stories. So yay!

    And who can forget the funny cat pictures? lol. Last night I wasted a good hour just flipping through pages and pages of LOLcats and busting a gut. Good times.

  7. Nora Roberts
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:21:45

    From a writer’s perspective, it’s great meeting, getting to know and share discussions with so many readers. It’s great spending time with some many smart, interesting women (and some guys, too).

    And The Fun.

  8. Jill Myles
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:25:34

    Definitely the fun.

    Plus, I like that the romance genre is so accepting of readers that stray outside of the boundaries. I read romance – LOVE romance – and I love historical fiction, SF, and fantasy. Romance incorporates all of these in some form or another, so even when I *can* stray outside of the romance shelves, I don’t have to.

    And I love huge backlists and the fact that books by my favorite authors come out at least twice a year.

    And I love the websites! SB & DA = *fist pump of love*

    And BFFs!

    And the community has taught me that mantitty is not to be feared, but to be loved.

  9. Sherry Thomas
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:35:54

    You forgot to mention the dedicated reviewers at Dear Author, who have exposed me to many remarkable new reads. I am a big fan of Ariana Franklin now thanks to Jayne’s reviews, and I am looking forward to my copy of Countess Belowstairs.

  10. katiebabs
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:39:21

    I ditto what Kristie(J) said!
    Thanks to the on-line romance community, I have a voice that can be heard and even though I don’t write books, I still have the belief in myself to write witty things about life and give honest reviews!

    And a big thanks for everyone helping me to add to my on-going TBR that will eat me because it is so big.

    And of course to you Jane, who let’s the word out about abuse in the publishing industry in general and won’t back down! :D

  11. Tumperkin
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:40:27

    1. Discovering a host of new authors I’d never have known about otherwise
    2. ‘Meeting’ a whole bunch of extremely cool, extremely funny people
    3. Finding something, somewhere to laugh about every day.
    4. Finding a crit parter! (yay!)
    5. Finding out loads of useful and entertaining and interesting stuff about the industry
    6. Engaging with interesting people about the stuff I love

    And a whole lot of other things too.

  12. Jaci Burton
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:55:44

    It’s helped me realize that we’re not as isolated as we think we are, and that we all want the same thing–a really great book.

    And Jane, dying laughing over the Pampers comment. Doubtful Christian of Project Runway would think Lifetime was fierce.

  13. (Jān)
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 07:57:16

    The online romance community gave me:

    Friends of over a decade
    A place to read great reviews of romance novels
    Self-confidence about said reading habit
    Access to almost all the used and new books on the planet
    A new way to spend thousands of dollars ^_^;
    An introduction to my manga habit (and a newer way to spend thousands of dollars ^_^;;)
    And above all the communities where I could talk with like-minded people about a subject I love.

    Ilona, thank you. I’m guessing she’s reading Vampire Knight? Has she tried Ghost Hunt? It’s not exactly romance, but has romantic elements, and it’s downright scary at points. I’ll search my shelves for others for her.

  14. Ann Bruce
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 08:20:54

    DA for making me love historical romances again. And until last year, I didn’t realize there were other women out there who wouldn’t sneer at my romance-reading addiction habit.

  15. Gennita Low
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 08:39:12

    I third The Fun.

    And thank you, Jane (and all the other Js), for working so hard to make Dear Author a great place to visit. There’s always something going on here everyday for readers and authors, from interviews to industry news, from reviews to opinion pieces.

  16. ilona andrews
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 08:46:57


    Thank you! She is in the adolescent melodrama(!)stage. She loves Fruits Basket and XXXholic and the awfulness that is Death Note. So her tastes are pretty varied, but she leans heavily to scary/supernatural with element of romance. I really would appreciate any suggestions you could throw my way. Her birthday is next week, lol.

  17. Jayne
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 08:48:20

    Haha Jan. Nothing like a little manga rec pressure for ya. ;)

  18. Leslie Kelly
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 08:55:14

    I love any site where there’s a chance to interact with other readers who love romance novels. So often in real life I get the blank stare, or the slight sneer, or the befuddled “huh? You read/write THOSE books?” It is wonderful to tune out all those who don’t “get” it and just be in cool places like this where people DO.

  19. Robin Bayne
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 09:02:03

    I also love the community, of writers and readers from all romance subgenres. And when I am having a bad day at work, nothing beats some fresh cover snark.

  20. MaryKate
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 09:09:56

    Thanks, Jane for the reminder of the many good things that come from the industry. Like katie and kristie, I’m just a reader, but I’ve made some terrific friends, gotten some amazing recommendations and had a chance to interact with authors whose work I adore.

    I’ll also just tell this little story: Last July an online friend of mine lost her 5 year old daughter in a drowning accident at the beach. What we had in common was romance. We contacted a few of her favorite authors asking if they’d consider sending her a few books to help comfort her through what was a horrifying time in her life. The authors we contacted reacted immediately sending condolences and books that I know got her through a horrible time.

    It’s the generosity of spirit that I love about the romance world. It’s what keeps me coming back.

  21. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 09:20:19

    Definitely the friends.

    Things like Lori Foster’s Reader/Writer get together where proceeds go to benefit places like the Conductive Learning Center of Greater Cincinnati (this year) or the THE Battered Women’s Shelter of Cincinnati, or Lora Leigh’s event where they raised several thousand dollars to donate to a local school’s library program (they raised more than school gets in the annual budget in like three years, I think)

    How people like JC Wilder dropped their lives and went down to help out fellow friends and writers after Hurricane Katrina.

    All the books recs. (man, my shelves)

    Blogs like this.

    Finding people who love books as much as I do.

    *G* I could go on, but I have to finish getting stuff together. LEaving for RT in a bit.

  22. (Jān)
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 09:57:01

    Sorry for hijacking the thread, but just consider this to be another reason to love online romance communities – great gift ideas for others who love romance! ;)

    Thank you! She is in the adolescent melodrama(!)stage. She loves Fruits Basket and XXXholic and the awfulness that is Death Note. So her tastes are pretty varied, but she leans heavily to scary/supernatural with element of romance. I really would appreciate any suggestions you could throw my way. Her birthday is next week, lol.

    Ilona, if she likes XXXholic then she would probably like Tokyo Babylon by the same authors (and it’s complete in English). (Death Note is great btw! ;D) If she’s not reading Vampire Knight she might love that too, since I don’t know many teenage girls who don’t (I love it as well). And like I said, Ghost Hunt for scares. Maybe Petshop of Horrors too; no romance in that one but lots of exotic pets and pretty men and Twilight Zone kinds of horror stories.

    And for romance and supernatural, the one I just reviewed, Land of the Blindfolded, is a complete series in English. And, anything by Kaori Yuki is melodrama to the max, though geared to older teens (but hey, if you let her read Death Note…). Descendants of Darkness is another melodramatic supernatural one, but geared toward older teens as well. And if you want to slip comedy in there to lighten her up get her Ouran High School Host Club because it’s funny as hell, poking fun at itself and shoujo romance in general.

    If you want you can email me with any questions. :)

  23. Ally Blue
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 10:01:58

    OMG this is brilliant! My favorite things about Teh Romance & its wonderful community:
    – Meeting some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
    – Getting to have those friends as the best, toughest, most loving crit partners EVER.
    – Learning that I am not, in fact, a ginormous freak for reading and writing gay romance. It was a HUGE relief to learn, several years back, that there were many others like me *g*
    – Ebooks. HELL yeah. I have a few hundred on my hard drive O_O
    – The Greek Billionaire story! Man, I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
    – Blogs like this one, and Lisabea’s, Sula’s, Tumperkins, etc etc. I have become a hopeless blog whore LOL

    Thank you for this! It’s brightened my morning considerably :D
    (goofing off at the EDJ = delicious forbidden fun…)

  24. Kathryn S
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 10:14:54

    I’m on the fun bandwagon as well. And I love meeting people who don’t refer to what I do as ‘porn’ but see it as valuable reading material, and treat it with the same love and criticism they would a work of art. That’s cool. I love blogs and sites that go beyond reviews and actually take on the ‘world’ of the romance industry.

    And I love the friends I’ve made since becoming a published author. At conferences and online, or through my own fan-girl ravings, I’ve met some of the bestest bff’s I could have ever hoped for. That’s good stuff.

  25. Daphne
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 10:18:16

    For me, too, it’s the new friends–kindred spirits really–that I’ve found amongst my fellow readers and romance lovers. And the sheer joy of finding a new voice you absolutely love–nothing beats that.

    And you have to admit–it’s never boring! Though sometimes, boring isn’t so bad. ;-)

  26. EC Sheedy
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 10:36:19

    I like finding blogs like Jane’s, Sybil’s and a few more, where I always discover writers I might otherwise have missed. (Sherry Thomas is my latest.)

    And I really liked finding all the Manga suggestions here today, Jan! Thanks. I’ve got granddaughters who’ll be very appreciative.

    I just like romance writers and readers in general. There are rare exceptions to all the nice, warm fuzziness, of course, but then without a bit of snark where whould be the fun? :-)

  27. JaimeK
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 10:51:20

    Ahhh, I feel sunshine! Wonderful and true post. We needed this. In addition, I agree with Tumperkin and Jan (sp).

  28. Shannon C.
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 11:34:10

    I don’t really have anything new to add here. I love that I’ve met such wonderful people since I started hanging out on these blogs, and that Jane, SB Sarah and Sybil are completely approachable. I love the recs for new books and have found new authors to glom thanks to reader recommendations. I, too, love ebooks, and I think we’re going to see some huge leaps forward in that direction once the dust settles.

    I find the industry stuff fascinating, too. I’m an aspiring writer who really needs a good shove in the having discipline department, but at least I know how to research publishers when the time comes that I do have a submission.

  29. Wendy
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 11:35:31

    Being converted. I “rediscovered” the genre thanks to the online community (which in those days was TRR, AAR and Mrs. Giggles!) back in 1999 and was immediately hooked. Once my obsession grew, it was through the online community that I hooked up with other readers who shared the same passion for the genre that I did. Until I “met” many online readers, and later reader bloggers in person, there was no one within my personal sphere (family or friends) that read and loved the genre as much as I do. And dang, a librarian NEEDS to talk about books like a fish needs to swim. Y’all have kept me from climbing the walls.

  30. CC
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 11:40:19

    the sharing and the fun and the sense of belonging-

    I love author fan groups and how they can morph from people who enjoy a single author to a wonderful supportive, often international, group of friends

    will write for wine is my favorite podcast, I love how Lani and Sam discuss the process of writing, but there are so many out there that deal with romance and books that my TBR pile will never disappear

  31. Mad
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 11:58:56

    I have to say it’s the friends…I consider some of my BFF ladies that I met online when I first came on in 1999 and even though we haven’t met face to face, I truly think of them as some of my best friends. We’ve been through a lot in the last few years.

  32. Robin
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 12:29:15

    You know, even the crappy stuff is easier to take when there’s a community of people willing to talk about it, commiserate, appeal for change, or just create some real awareness. So in a way it’s all good, even when it’s not.

  33. CJ England
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 12:38:58

    I’ve been in the industry for over two years, but I just discovered blog world. (Call me slow) That has been very helpful to me. I’ve gotten to know new authors and readers, plus the information received made me, as Jaci mentioned, feel less isolated.

    I’m glad for all of it. Thanks!

  34. K. Z. Snow
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 12:40:28

    And what’s more uplifting than discovering that sex and romance are possible at any time, under any circumstances, with any creature, in any dimension? Yeah, baby, take me away!

  35. SB Sarah
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 13:14:46

    Jane! Jane is awesome with side order of awesome and extra sauce! And the fact that the internet is so big we can do our things in our own autonomous worlds so similarly and yet be so different. Or something like that. Y’all is awesome.

    So, yeah, Jane et all Jayniajiajanetjehosephats are the awesome.

    (OMG can I join your ranks and instead of Jarah be “Jehosephat,” please?)

    Ok, all these late nights have made me punchy.

  36. Liviania
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 14:33:48

    Ilona, if she likes XXXholic then she would probably like Tokyo Babylon by the same authors (and it's complete in English).

    Great suggestions, but I thought I might add a warning that Tokyo Babylon is m/m. (It’s also the gateway drug to the unfinished X/1999. I do recommend the X anime – TV series, not the OVA.)

    What I love most about the romance community?

    It’s ability to laugh at itself. Other genres often take themselves to seriously.

  37. (Jān)
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 15:23:54

    Yeah, I didn’t mention it because Tokyo Babylon is only m/m in the least connotation of what that means. It’s more of an unrequited attraction for another’s power, at least until the end and later in other series. Ilona, the story is about an evil man who worms his way in between a brother and sister because he’s hungry for the power the brother holds. But in the end, the love of the brother and sister prevails. It’s very moving and angst-ridden and melodramatic *and* fashion conscious LOL – you know, teenage girl material.

    I need to go re-read it. ;D

  38. Bev Stephans
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 16:44:58

    I am so thankful for blogs like Dear Author. I have found some wonderful new authors that I might have overlooked. I have become enraged over plagiarism, smiled at funny cats, disgusted with Amazon’s reviewing policies and enlightened in so many ways.

    Keep up the good work.

  39. Jana Oliver
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 16:50:34

    Lego Porn. Now I’ve seen it all. *reaches for the closest bottle of single malt*

    I second Robin’s assessment that the “crappy stuff is easier to take when there's a community of people willing to talk about it, commiserate, appeal for change, or just create some real awareness. So in a way it's all good, even when it's not.”

    Stuff always hits the fan. Friends tell you to duck. Or at least help you clean up the mess afterward.

  40. Nalini Singh
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 17:26:03

    I third, fourth, fifth, the people and the fun.

  41. Sarah Frantz
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 18:13:30

    Ooh, we got mentioned! Maybe we should actually update our blog. 8-0

  42. carolyn Jean
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 18:26:49

    What a great idea for a post. I think it exemplifies part of what I love about this whole world full of wonderful books and really cool women and men – it’s going through problems and coming out better, and caring about things and each other.

  43. Kaitlin
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 20:18:49

    You know, this entry was really needed! There’s too much drama & sometimes we just need to remember the light-hearted, fun stuff!

    I’d say the best things for me are the community “spirit” and the camaraderie of the romance community. I’ve met some awesome people via blogs & eharlequin. Without them, I’d honestly feel like a total loser. :P It’s so nice to know that there are so many other people out there who are basically just like me! :D

  44. Janine
    Apr 15, 2008 @ 22:35:15

    Emerging from a pile of tax forms to finally read this post, wave and say, awesome post, Jane!

    I really needed this one since I too have been getting burned out on scandals lately.

    Okay, many others have said it, but it bears repeating. Friends. Reader friends, blogger friends, writer friends. Isn’t it great how love of books can bring people together? How enthusiasm for them can bring out the best side of our self? And how the people we share these experiences with can lead us to more books we love, repeating this cycle over and over?

    I think it’s great, anyway.

    I’m also grateful, as always, for the books themselves. There’s nothing better than that feeling of starting a new book and falling into it completely.

  45. Angela
    Apr 16, 2008 @ 23:39:02

    The romance genre not only renewed my love for reading, but the online community has given me a place to just veg out when procrastinating and when I’m supposed to be working. lol

  46. Corrine E. Lagacy
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:14:53

    Not to sound too over-dramatic but romance basically saved my life – twice. Once when I was a depressed 16-year-old and I picked up a copy of Nora Roberts’ Public Secrets and had my eyes opened to a world of love and hope. And once again when I was an unemployed 20-year-old needing a creative outlet and the lightbulb flashed that I could actually write this stuff. Even though I’m not published yet, the romance genre has given me something which makes me wake up each morning.

    In the community, I’ve made a lot of friends and received a lot of good recommendations, so much that my TBR shoebox is overflowing everywhere.

  47. Lynne Connolly
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 22:58:00

    Being able to live half a world away and still to join in on the awesomeness that is romance.
    Making bestest friends with people online, then meeting them and finding out they really are that lovely.
    Writing books that are read worldwide, because they come out in e.

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