Australian Romance Readers Convention 2011 – Part 2

In my day to day life, I have a few acquaintances who read and enjoy romance novels but it is a rare occasion to be surrounded by romance novel enthusiasts and authors and attending the Australian Romance Readers Convention gives you a chance to talk talk talk about romance novels without the fear that you are getting tiresome.

Here is the second part of my twitter influenced take (that is: 140 words or less per session)

Dinner – Bling and the 2010 Australian Romance Readers Awards – Winners

The ARRC2011 dinner was a dressed up, blinged up affair. An unofficial bling off had been issued and everyone came dressed to the nines. I felt that my tiara might give me the edge on others but unfortunately, Christine Darcas out-blinged everyone in her ballroom dancing, white sequin dress. It was bright & beautiful and her win was well deserved. For more pics there’s Bookthingo and ObsidianTears13 Flickr sets.

As for the favourite authors – there really was a strong Australian/New Zealand bias. Congratulations to Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh, Paula Roe, Jess Dee, Kandy Shepherd and Helene Young. For more details on the winners go to ARRA or Bookthingo.

The food was lovely and the company was splendid. There was much talking and cheer amongst all that attended.

DAY 2

Keynote: Cindy Gerard

Coming from Iowa, corn-fed Cindy Gerard had no idea that romance was the ugly step-sister of the publishing world. She (naively) sent her manuscript to LaVryle Spencer to critique who suggested CG send it to RWA .

Cindy addressed that she knew that she was talking to readers not writers so her talk was not going to be on her craft. She spoke about how, regardless of what you undertake in your life, it is the ability “to confine, control and dominate self-doubt” that will help you succeed. “Self doubt is a sneaky bitch” and can derail any career.

Cindy Gerard was funny, friendly and a lovely person throughout the convention. Stupidly, on each day I kept forgetting to bring my Marriage, Outlaw Style fave Cindy Gerard Silhouette for her to autograph but we did talk cowboy heroes!

Contemporary – The Resurrection of Contemporary Romances

Cathleen Ross, Amy Andrews, Lisa Heidke, Christine Darcas, Ros Baxter

Moderator: Kandy Shepherd

I was excited about this session as it’s my fave sub-genre. Unfortunately, the title was a misnomer as only 2 of the authors wrote contemporary romance. The rest were chick lit authors writing in the first person not the third. This difference was evident when asked for their fave authors. The contemporary authors listed SEP, Rachel Gibson, Crusie, Roberts whereas the chicklit authors listed Marion Keyes & Maggie Alderson.

That said, discussion was fun and lively. Authors articulated their craft, drawing on life experiences. Lisa Hiedke openly admitted to stealing from her own life, Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter on collaborative writing, the use/non-use of children, how much sexual description is enough (at which point Denise Rosetti’s books were described as 3 knicker reads) and the use/non-use of condoms in romance (do they get in the way or is it necessary).

Overall, a great session which would have set different expectations if it had been named Contemporary Romance vs Chicklit.

Category Series – 100 years and still going strong

Kelly Hunter, Melanie Milburne, Michelle Douglas, Paula Roe, Haylee Kerans (Harlequin staff)

Moderator: Annie West

I adore this sub-genres’s short, intense, contemporary stories so attending an intimate talk with these authors was a bonus. Annie West opened questions not only to the panel but to the audience too. Everyone discussed their first ever category read and why they chose to write in the genre.

The authors discussed how satisfying it is to read about alpha males who are at the mercy of the heroine. Kelly Hunter finds the power balance in relationships is important. Paula Roe is still mourning the cancellation of Harlequin Temptations.

Other topics were male virgins, the economy of words and tightly delivered emotions in the short story, tackling issues and the 40 year shift from low sensuality yet broader moral views to high sensuality with more conservative views.

The love promise has stayed core to the category series. The authors said criticism is fine – the reader always owns their response to the story.

By invitation – delegates panel

Cindy Gerard, Helene Young, Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh, Lexxie Couper, Keri Arthur

Moderator: Pamela Diaz (Convention Co-ordinator)

I chose to not take notes at this session. I enjoyed listening to the authors banter with each other about their writing experiences, their favoured genres, what they imagine they would be doi

ng if they weren’t authors. Bookthingo asked them whether they read the last page of a book (I won’t steal BookThingo’s thunder here but I will say that it was a fifty/fifty response). For more details please go to her website!

The convention was wrapped up at this point. It was another fantastic, intense weekend full of romance reading suggestions. My highlight of the convention has to be meeting all the wonderful Twitter folk I have been tweeting with over the last two years. Authors, bloggers, booksellers and readers….oh – and meeting Cindy Gerard, author of one of my favourite ever category romance rereads.

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Australian Romance Readers Convention 2011 – Part 1

In my day to day life, I have a few acquaintances who read and enjoy romance novels but it is a rare occasion to be surrounded by romance novel enthusiasts and authors and attending the Australian Romance Readers Convention gives you a chance to talk talk talk about romance novels without the fear that you are getting tiresome.

Here is my twitter influenced take (that is: 140 words or less per session)

Friday Night Cocktails

Ditto!

The cocktail party was an intimate affair overlooking Bondi Beach with readers, bloggers, tweeps and authors mingling and schmoozing. The funny thing is that I didn’t look out at the view even once. The company was so engaging and enjoyable.

It was very exciting to meet up with friends from 2009 and even more so to meet friends whom I have met through Twitter and with whom I have shared many a twitversation. Some were instantly recognisable due to their twitter pictures and names but others who use a pseudonym or pseudophoto would sometimes be talking to you for a while before you realised who they were.

After the cocktails there was an impromptu meet-up in BookThingo’s room where we continued to talk books, romance fiction and bling.

Saturday

Keynote: Anna Campbell

Anna Campbell loves reading about intense relationships. Her first romance was by Joyce Dingwell, a Mills & Boon which she read at 8. Anna gave us a who’s who of Australian. Helen Bianchin, Margaret Way, Lindsay Armstrong, Valerie Parv, Emma Darcy. Up until this point, authors were published out of London by Mills & Boon. Then Harlequin published Bronwyn Jameson along with Annie West, Rachel Bailey, Amy Andrews, Michelle Douglas, Paula Roe, Sarah Mayberry and Melanie Milburne.

Australian single title authors are Stephanie Laurens, Anne Gracie, Mel Scott, Keri Arthur, Erica Hayes, Denise Rosetti, Helene Young, Bronwyn Parry, Anna Campbell and many more.

Anna ended her talk saying that Australia is a good place to be as a romance author because it is culturally aligned between the US & England therefore appealing to a very broad audience.

Book Launch – Helene Young’s Shattered Sky

Helene Young launched her new romantic suspense book Shattered Sky set in North Queensland.

This One Time – Panel discussion

Jess Dee (erotic), Anna Campbell (Historical), Shannon Curtis (Category), Helene Young (Romantic Suspense)

Moderator: Erica Hayes (Urban Fiction)

This one Time:

Discussion ranged from where authors get ideas. Both from their life experiences and their reading influences.

All the writers seemed to draw from their own experiences. Helene Young had the tragic misfortune of finding a dead body on the beach which years later acted as the foundation for her latest book Shattered Sky. Anna Campbell though has never met a Spanish duke in the 19th century and finds that she pulls a lot more out of her captive years at a Dickensian boarding school. For Shannon Curtis trying to get published was turned on its head when she took her blind father’s advice to sex up her writing though she w=ould prefer that he didn’t listen to audiobooks of her writing. Australian’s take blaspheming lightly but the American’s don’t. She gets a lot of complaints about the JC’s but not the fucks. This is a stand out in cultural differences.

This was a funny session with some lovely anecdotes from all the authors.

Romantic Suspense – panel discussion

Cindy Gerard, Helene young, Karlene Blakemore-Mowle, Shannon Curtis

Moderator: Bronwyn Parry

The authors talked about character development and the research they did so they can ensure their story was an entertaining escape and researched with sensitivity and authenticity. Keeping the romance story present in the romantic suspense can be difficult. There is an intensity that lends itself to adrenaline when lots of characters are dying that warrants hot sex quickly for others.

Cindy Gerard has a lot of military fans and her characters tend to be ex-soldiers. She’s vulnerable to her readers that have become friends and feels a responsibility in writing for them.

Research for all the authors plays a large role. Helene Young, also a pilot, needs to keep the flight information realistic without boring the layman yet not dumbing it down either. Cindy uses travel guidebooks and Bronwyn loves Google Earth to work out just how isolated can she make her settings.

Another interesting session.

Auction Booty

I bid on several items at the auction. I missed out on the retro Mills and Boon notebooks and Kathleen O’Reilly books. However I won the following

Kandy Shepherd:

Yay, for Kandy! Despite being an Australian author (and Sydney based) Kandy had been published in the US but not in Australia. I fell in lover with her book covers and she is a funny, scream of an author who was just as excited as I was when I got the winning bid *cheering*

Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses and An Affair Before Christmas because she’s one of the author’s I suggest for romance novel sceptics.

Sarah Mayberry’s Her Best Friend, Home for the Holidays and A Natural Father because I wanted to trial an author I hadn’t yet discovered.