Nancy: Five Reasons Romance Writers (and NJRW) Are Awesome!

Put Your Heart In a Book

Romance writers are awesome. Other writers can be awesome, too, but I just returned from the New Jersey Romance Writers (NJRW) Put Your Heart in a Book conference, and I’m throwing down the gauntlet: romance writers are the most awesome of all. Not convinced? Allow me to offer some proof in five brief examples.

5. Superpowers, tee shirt edition. At the conference, I saw this shirt, which says (in case you’re not the linkety-link type) I’m a romance writer. What’s your superpower? Those seven words just cover it all.

4. Dancing, check your self-consciousness at the door. NJRW has an all-conference after party on the last night of the con. A room full of (mostly) women still on a conference high. A DJ. Dance music. Booze (totally optional). Throw them all together, and there’s going to be dancing! And somehow, it’s wonderfully uninhibited dancing. Even yours truly got up and got down, and to paraphrase the Beatles, I may be a lover but I ain’t no dancer! (Does anyone remember Elaine Benes dancing on the Seinfeld show? Yeah, let’s just say I envy her mad skillz.)

3. Generosity, information edition. I’ve belonged to many professional organizations over the years, and I’ve never seen one where the members are more willing to share the good, the bad, the ugly, and the truly sublime ‘insider knowledge’ than at romance writers’ conferences. Maybe it’s all the estrogen (to be clear – men are invited and a few are brave enough to attend). Maybe it’s just that a lot of really nice people are drawn to a genre whose hallmark is the happy ending. But I suspect it also has something to do with the readers. Romance readers are fiercely loyal and voracious. There is still competition and romance writers think about reviews and  bestseller lists just like other authors, but there is also a sense that even without a NY Times review and bestseller rank, a good romance author is likely to find her own wonderful audience because romance readers are so ready and willing to share the love.

2. Glasses half full (probably with wine or spirits). I am here to report that rumors of publishing’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The mood at this year’s NJRW con was extremely upbeat. Everyone (agents and editors included) seems excited about all the new market venues and possibilities opening up in the world of books. Sure, there’s trepidation. The 800-pound online gorilla does come up in some conversations. The optimism is steeped in caution and some writers and publishers are still struggling to find their footing in this brave new world. But optimism does indeed abound and there are still wonderful success stories in both traditional and indie romance publishing.

1. Awards, especially the Golden Leaf Hall of Fame Award. I’m not saying this award is more important than the many other wonderful awards that we romance authors, through our professional organizations, give to other authors to recognize and celebrate their successes. But this year, it’s one that is near and dear to my heart, because it was given to one of my ‘besties’, former critique partner, and all-around partner in crime (and wine-hounding) Maria V. Snyder. (Turns out they don’t actually just give these things away. Maria earned her award by winning in the Golden Leaf contest in the paranormal category three times!) Congratulations to Maria, and to her fellow hall-of-famer inductee Dee Davis, who has won the award three times in the romantic suspense category.

There are lots of romance authors and readers here, so tell us what things you think are awesome about the romance genre and/or community!

12 thoughts on “Nancy: Five Reasons Romance Writers (and NJRW) Are Awesome!

  1. You know what I like best about the romance genre? The surprises are generally happy ones. There’s some of that in real life, and it deserves to be celebrated in fiction!

    Sounds like it was a wonderful time! I’m pretty sure The Story Shared is not dead. I’m sure there was moaning when the written word was invented, and oral storytelling started to take a backseat . . . there was a lot of wailing when paperbacks were introduced . . . but I’m sure the internet will expand the audience and let even more stories be available. I already know how helpful it is to a niche reader — it’s so much easier to find something that makes me happy when I read it. I really hope that the little, quirky stories will find an market, and also the short story and novella will make a comeback in all genres.

    • I love the image of some prehistoric people sitting around the campfire when one of them groans and says, “Do you really think this scratching on papyrus thing is going to catch on?”

      I absolutely think the internet allows readers and writers to connect in niche markets. My historical romance was set during the Revolutionary War, and for years before that (and I’d argue all the years since), that’s not a time period trad pubs have wanted to touch. (I should add the caveat that I think there’s some truth to the idea that if a book is just so fabulously written, trad pubs might take a chance on it despite setting.) But going the e-pub route, the book found its small (and possibly weird like me :-)) audience. To this day, I still get the occasional email from someone who has just stumbled onto the book and is so happy to have found a Rev War-set romance.

      • “The damn stuff catches on fire, for all the Gods and Goddesses’ sakes. Two sparks from the campfire, and it’s gone. And the readability! Sure, great in daylight. Try reading it at just before cock’s crow. You’ve got to keep all that stuff in your head and keep telling it to the kids, or it will be lost forever.”

        LOL, thanks for the image!

        Plus: Rev War Romance? Love, betrayal, war, class war, cannons . . . tons to like! It sounds vvery good!

        • And the heroine is a seer and the hero is a spy, and there’s a serial killer, and… yeah, lots of stuff in that book. It’s super-low cost (not going to say cheap:-)) over on Amazon, in print or ebook!

      • Well, if I can ever get through the Regency stories in my head, at least I’ll know someone else who writes Revolutionary War history. If I go up (down?) a few limbs in Susannah’s family tree, there are four brothers who will be pitted against each other on the eve of Revolution (and the stories will take place in Maryland!!).

        • We are a hop, skip, and a jump from Havre de Grace, so if you decide to use that, sounds like you’ll have to come visit for research purposes!

        • I grew up in Frederick…there are old Hessian Barracks there (that are now part of the Maryland School for the Deaf). That will likely be my setting for much of it (or at least one of the brothers), but there are so many wonderful places in Maryland with rich history!

          My sister also lives in eastern PA, about 10 miles up the Delaware River from where Washington crossed. I think I’ll borrow from her setting, as well!

  2. The conference sounds like a blast, and I completely agree with you about the fabulousness of romance writers. And while I always enjoy going to the national RWA conference, I’ve also had extremely good, informative, and productive times going to the regional conferences, too, when I’m in the area. So glad you had a good time!

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