The weird thing about being in charge of something is that you do a lot of work that nobody sees.
I mean, the general populace, my fans, gay romance fans, etc., probably don’t care about RWA policy and procedure. A hot discussion topic at this year’s conference was the possibility of the national organization creating new membership classifications, for example, and if you’re not a member, you don’t care. (Considering less than a tenth of the people at the conference attended the Annual General Meeting, a lot of members don’t care about RWA policy and procedure, either, actually.)
I can say, though, that I got a lot out of the conference, and I left San Antonio feeling really inspired and excited. I feel re-energized to tackle my position as RRW president. I’ve got a short list of things I’d like to accomplish during the rest of my tenure.
Tara Sue Me, Jennifer McQuiston, and Yours Truly take a selfie before the literacy signing. I do a lot of signings with these ladies because of the alphabet.
I attended fewer workshops than I intended to because I kept having schedule conflicts, but some highlights for me included the chat with Nora Roberts; a panel discussion on romance and feminism with Lorelie Brown, Tessa Dare, Carrie Lofty, Zoe Archer, and Julie Leto; and a panel on book marketing with Barbara Vey, Eileen Dreyer, and Maggie Mae Gallagher. I liked Sylvia Day’s keynote speech; not as emotionally moving as Kristan Higgins’ speech from last year, during which I cried for real, but still inspiring. At one point I looked around and felt such pride and awe to be surrounded by all of these smart, successful women.
I got to fangirl quite a bit. I think maybe one of my favorite single moments of the conference was going up to Mary Jo Putney at one of the publisher signings. She asked which chapter I was the president of, so I told her about Rainbow Romance Writers, and she said she was really happy with how the definition of romance has expanded to be more inclusive. We chatted about gay romance for a few minutes and I tried not to be too much of a dork. I mean, Mary Jo Putney. She’s one of the elder stateswomen of the genre and I’m such a fan.
That was a recurring theme of the conference. They gave me a Chapter President ribbon to wear, so people kept asking me which chapter I was the president of. Every single person had a positive response. Many told me they were glad RRW was doing the work it does. I had a lot of people tell me about the LGBT activism their siblings or children were involved with and that sort of thing. So that was pretty great.
I even got to see a little bit of the city. I had lunch free Friday, so I walked to the Alamo, only about a block from the hotel. Friday night, I met with an editor from a French publisher to talk about gay romance, and we took a walk on the Riverwalk to a bar that was a fair distance from the hotel. It was a really nice walk. San Antonio is a cute city. I would have liked it even better if it hadn’t been so hot.
So that, briefly, was my RWA experience. I can’t really begin to convey how great it all went.
The For Love & Liberty anthology is on sale through July 4th for 99 cents. Can’t beat that price, can you? So if you’re curious about this anthology of 4 multicultural Revolutionary War romances, now’s your chance. The price goes back up to the normal $3.99 after the 4th.
ALSO! The anthology is now available in paperback! You can buy the PB from Amazon.
I caught the tail end of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on TV the other night. Since I’m apparently old enough now that music I was profoundly influenced by as a teenager is now getting Hall of Fame recognition, I watched the Nirvana induction with some interest. (Well, also, I appreciated their choice to have lady singers in their performances, Joan Jett especially because I love her, but also how great is St. Vincent?)
Anyway, Dave Grohl said something I really liked in his speech:
Because I think that’s the deal — you look up to your heroes and you shouldn’t be intimidated by them; you should be inspired by them. Don’t look up at the poster on your wall and think, “Fuck, I can never do that.” Look at the poster on your wall and think, “Fuck, I’m going to do that!”
Words to live by.
I’m participating in an event in October and it needs a name! See how you can help out below.
From Racheline Maltese…
On October 7, 2014, please join Damon Suede, Kate McMurray, Racheline Maltese and four authors (Killian B. Brewer, A.J. DeWall, Melissa Graves, and Erin Finnegan) from the newly launched Interlude Press, at a reading of LGBTQ romance and erotic fiction upstairs at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Authors will be reading from their latest releases and will have signed books available for sale. You’ll also have a chance to win free books and other goodies!
Admission is free, although the space does have a two drink minimum (non-alcoholic beverages are available, but the space is 21+).
Right now, however, we need your help. We have no idea what to call this event! So we’re holding a contest to name it. One lucky winner will get some great LGBTQ reading material, two free drinks at the event (if you can’t attend, we’ll find some other goodies for you), and massive bragging rights.
Want to enter? Fill out the form at Avian30. We don’t need your real name, but we do need a way to reach you. The contest will close to new entries on June 27, and we’ll announce the winning name in July!
As I mentioned back in May, I’ve contributed a story to a self-published anthology of multicultural romance stories that take place during the American Revolution.
This is my first real foray into self-publishing, which has made it an interesting experience. (So many things I didn’t realize I’d have to think about!) Still, I think it’s a worthwhile project, especially since these stories all represent the kinds of characters you pretty much never see in historical romance.
Here’s the anthology blurb:
In BE NOT AFRAID by Alyssa Cole, a black Patriot captured by the British falls in love with a headstrong runaway determined to leave the colonies… while a wounded British soldier discovers the healing power of love in the arms of a gentle native woman in A SWEET SURRENDER by Lena Hart… yet in REBELS AT HEART by Kate McMurray, two men must make hard choices if they are to stay together when war arrives on the shores of their home in New York City… at last, in HOME by Stacey Agdern, a young Jewish couple must decide what can hold them together before war and geography tear them apart.
And the blurb for my story, “Rebels at Heart”:
Charles Foxworth is among New York City’s most fashionable men, though he is only pretending to be a dashing British aristocrat. Still, he is content with his role and has little interest in the war. His companion, Isaac Ward, has more invested in the coming conflict; Isaac was born a slave, and though he is now free, that freedom could be guaranteed if he chose to pick up arms. Then war arrives on the shores of the city and Charles’s idyll is over. He quickly realizes that the war could take from him the very thing he holds most dear: Isaac.
I’ll be there selling books and will also be speaking on a panel about the shiny new anthology of multicultural romance stories that we hope to have available for your reading pleasure by Saturday (more on that when it goes live).
This is an event put on by the New York City chapter of RWA, and it’s the first event we’ve ever done like this, so we’re super excited. I think it will be a great day.
Here are the details:
Saturday, June 14th 2014
1:00 – 4:30 pm
The Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace
(between West 160th & 162nd Street)
Admission is FREE!
Anna DePalo (USA Today Best Selling Contemporary Romance Writer: The Romance Genre)
Elizabeth Mahon (Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women)
Carol Ward (Director Morris-Jumel Mansion: The Loves of Eliza Jumel)
For Love and Liberty:
Multicultural and LGBT Love Stories during the American Revolution
With – Stacey Agdern, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Kate McMurray
Tours of the Morris-Jumel Mansion will be available throughout the day!
Authors Readings * Books for Sale
Raffles * Giveaways
This is a real thing that happened to me this week:
Monday night, I was in SoHo for Lady Jane’s Salon, NYC’s monthly romance novel reading series. I got there early because things are slow at the day job, so I decided to stop at this coffee shop for a snack and a latte. I sat at the window and read The Windflower—a bonkers old-skool romance recently reissued that I seriously loved to bits—and so I was reading about pirate-y adventures and sipping my latte. This guy came over and dumped his laptop on the counter next to me and asked me to move over to make space for him, so I did. Before he even turned his laptop on, he said, “Is that a good book you’re reading?”
“Yes,” I said, because this book, I can’t even.
I will interrupt this story to say: 1) Ihis is maybe the third or fourth time some guy has hit on me by asking about what I’m reading, and it’s not a bad tactic as far as it goes, but usually this happens to me on the subway after a long day when all I want to do is go home. The guy who got the closest to picking me up this way was really cute, but then he told me he was a reporter for a right-wing newspaper, so he was disqualified.
2) This guy at the coffee shop was 20 years older than me at least and had the word “fuck” tattooed on both hands. On his hands. One letter per finger. So: not my type.
But he seemed nice enough and was not hard on the eyes. Not a creeper, from what I could tell. He said, “Oh, what are you reading?” and, because this guy did not look like the sort of man who would know about the magic that is The Windflower, I said, “A romance novel.” “Oh, darn,” he replied.
He got up to get coffee then, and I thought that was the end of it, but when he got back, he said, “Oh, I’ve got it. The most romantic movie I’ve ever seen.” He then proceeded to tell me, in excruciating detail, the plot of some movie from the 1930s that I’ve forgotten the name of, and it was charming of him to try, but his story ended with him saying, “Well, I guess it’s not really a romance, but I thought it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen,” so that happened.
I walked out of the coffee shop not long after that, but actually, the interesting thing about this encounter is that he never once derided my choice in reading material (perhaps because he wanted to get in my pants?) and instead went a little out of his way to find common ground, which is admirable, but I couldn’t get past the hand tattoos.
I think this incident is kind of an interesting contrast to the myriad mansplaining articles that have come out recently in which dudes try to explain about romance and its readers and they are often baffled that women can be so successful while writing fiction they find beneath them.
It’s not really worth it to get outraged anymore. I mean, these are the facts: romance is the biggest genre on the planet. Its authors have achieved significant financial success. The books make people happy. Full stop. What more do you need?
I started reading romance again in my late twenties after a post-college, “I only read Literature” phase, and the first thing that struck me was just how much fun I had reading those books. And many, many romance novels are well-written, emotionally resonant, superbly-constructed novels. Some make you laugh, some make you ugly-cry, some are just thoroughly enjoyable.
So that’s it. The books are good. The authors are successful. That’s the bottom line.
And, hey, maybe some of these male authors writing trend pieces on romance will do the mental acrobatics the hand-tattooed guy did for me, trying to understand why I, a not-unattractive woman reading in a coffee shop, would find the genre so appealing. (This guy also asked me what a good romance novel was, and I suggested Flowers from the Storm, one of my favorite books of all time and my go-to, “So you are a lit fic reader who wants to try romance,” suggestion. I lend my copy out all the time to convert people. He said he’d check it out, but I don’t know if I believe him.)
The sequel to The Stars that Tremble
Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.
Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.
Now available from Dreamspinner Press.
Here are the blog tour stops, if you want to re-live the guest-post magic!
RWANYC: MEET THE HERO: Everett — Character interview with Everett at the New York City RWA chapter blog.
Joyfully Jay: The Elusive Sequel — I wrote a guest post about how hard it is for me to write sequels; The Silence of the Stars is a triumph!
Prism Book Alliance: Interview — Beverley of PBA interviewed me about Rainbow Romance Writers, writing what you know, and lots of other things.
The Novel Approach: Throwback Thursday — A little about my musical origins.
Romance at Random: When Opposites Attract — A trope-tacular discussion!
A few of those posts have contests attached, so there might still be time to win a copy of the book.
I’ll be at two big events in the next few weeks if you want to come say hi:
Book Expo America is this week. I’ll be signing at the Dreamspinner booth (#1421) at 10:30 Saturday morning, so if you’re there, come by and get a copy of The Silence of the Stars! (Then Tere Michaels and Elle Brownlee are signing at 11:00 and Damon Suede is singing at 11:30. In the afternoon, Michael Murphy, Ariel Trachna, and Andrew Grey will be signing, starting at 1pm.)
Then on Saturday, June 14th, there’s going to be a Romance Festival at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in NYC. Admission is free. A bunch of area authors will have tables there where they will be signing and selling books. I’m doing a panel to talk about For Love and Liberty and multicultural Revolutionary War stories. It’ll be a good time and you should come if you’re in the area.