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!