Elizabeth: Bookstore Romance Day

This past Saturday, August 17, was Bookstore Romance Day.  I had no idea there was such a thing but, to be fair, this was its first occurrence.  Though I had no idea about the event, I had in fact signed up a few weeks ago to attend an event on Saturday at a local bookstore that featured a panel of romance writers.

It was purely coincidental.

Honesty compels me to admit that I did not, in fact, attend the event, blowing it off to go see Hamilton instead.  I have no regrets.

Anyway, back to Bookstore Romance Day.

According to creators of the event:

Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.

Judging from my newsfeed on Monday, the day was a definite success.  Bookstores across the country hosted a variety of events including panel discussions, romance book clubs, and author-bookstore matchmaking.

Sponsors of the event included Romance Writers of America, Sourcbooks Casablanca, and Avon and a number of well-known authors participated, including Loretta Chase who was part of an evening romance writer panel at the Harvard Bookstore.

Some bookstores showed off newly expanced romance sections (yay!), while in Tinley Park, Illinois, owners Marissa and Roseann Backlin held the grand-opening for their romance-only bookstore, Love’s Sweet Arrow, only the second romance-only store in the country (The Ripped Bodice is the other).

According to the Romance Writers of America®, the romance fiction industry is worth more than a billion dollars a year, making it larger than the mystery/science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined.  It’s great to see independent bookstores paying more attention to this genre and its dedicated audience of readers.

On social media, many booksellers expressed support for the event which they hope will help:

combat a stigma about romance books that they say is still too prevalent in bookselling.”

That “stigma” part is just baffling.  If the romance genre is so popular with the buying public, you’d think booksellers would be all over themselves trying to cater to those readers and capture their book-buying dollars.

Obviously I’m missing something.

Anyway, I’m hoping this event is the first of many and that it prompts independent bookstores to rethink their romance offerings, especially my local indie bookstore, which currently only has about a dozen or so titles on their romance shelf.

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I just saw a local weather map – apparently our country was replaced by a giant oven set on broil when we weren’t looking.

To make matters worse, my local Starbucks store was closed today for no apparent reason.

Definitely a sign of the impending apocalypse.

The poor cat keeps moving from surface to surface in the house, trying to find one that is cool.  The dog always choose to hang out in his wading pool on days like this, but somehow the cat isn’t interested in that option.  His loss.

Ah well, this too shall pass.

In the meantime, I think I’ll distract myself by doing some writing – perhaps  a story with an arctic setting?  I’ll give today’s story prompt and random words a try and see where they lead me.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Hidden in plain sight

As is often the case, I had one thing in mind for today’s post and then – squirrel! – something else caught my attention.

In this case, it was an article in the New York Times that I read over dinner.  It had the enticing title, If Only These Walls (and Bookcases) Could Talk, so naturally I had to read it.

As I may have mentioned (a time or two), I’m a big fan of books.  Not just of reading them, but having them.  The physical dead-tree versions with their smells of ink and paper and (in some cases) old dusty leather bindings.  Fiction, reference, cooking, travel, the Napoleonic Wars and much more can all be found in the room designated as my home library.  Technically, it’s a spare bedroom but the bed is long gone, though in a pinch, I guess one could sleep sitting up in the big comfy reading chair.

But I digress.

Being a fan of books means needing a place to put them, preferably in an organized, easily accessible fashion (unless one is like 8Lady Kay who apparently gets rid of books after reading them – gasp!).

My home library currently boasts a wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves (thanks to some help from my brother), but there are still a number of books that have been relegated to boxes, pending the building of even more shelves.

That task has been on the ToDo list for . . . .well let’s just say “quite a while.” Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I can’t believe some kids have already started back to school this week.  Didn’t summer just start?

Next thing you know there will be winter clothes in the stores and holiday decorations on the shelves at Costco.

*checks ad for local store*

Oh . . . never mind.

Regardless of what season it may be, I’m sipping iced coffee and trying to decide which book will make it off the TBR pile and into the active-reading stage this weekend.

Sure there is yard-work to do, groceries to buy, and writing to do, but both the TBR pile and I could use a little slimming down.  For my part, I blame the donuts and root-beer float that were necessary to make it through this week at work.  The TRB pile, on the other hand, owes its growth to the recent RWA conference.

Before I get lost in a book (and forget about the yard-work and groceries), I’m going to make sure to get in some focused writing time.  I think I’ll start things off with today’s story prompt and random words.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Ch-ch-changes

Apologies for the delay in today’s post, but the Girls in the Basement made a rare appearance last evening and I didn’t have the heart to tell them to go away because I was too busy.

The reason for the arrival of the Girls requires a little background.

Years ago, when my son was just a toddler, I saw a picture in some magazine of a child-sized gazebo.  I thought it was adorable and would provide the perfect amount of shade for a backyard sandbox or maybe a wading pool.

In the typical way of things, however, I lost the magazine.  A Google search did not turn up any simple building instructions, so I reached out to a guaranteed source for help – my dad, who I grew up believing could build anything (he could).

He said he’d look through his woodworking books for some plans.  Life went on and I didn’t hear anything for a while, but then one day he turned up with a piece of wood, which turned out to be a carved finial for the top of my yet-non-existent gazebo.  Over the following weeks, additional pieces arrived until one Saturday afternoon, with the “help” of my son and his little Fisher-Price tools, a child-sized gazebo came to life in the backyard.

It was, indeed, adorable. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I am definitely ready for this week to be over.  Returning to work after vacation is always an adjustment but this week, which started off with “armed shooter” training on Monday, has been especially challenging.

I’m thinking some puppy therapy is in order.

I still have an work-inbox full of messages, requests, meetings, and assorted odds’n’ends to work though before the week is done.  It’s amazing how much can build up in a single week.

Fortunately, none of it is earth-shattering.  My new evaluation criteria is “will anyone die if I don’t do this?” – it’s a wonderful way to weed out the trivial from the important.  Though my co-workers may see things a little differently.

My home-inbox is full as well, but that is a completely different kettle of fish.  It’s full of new books I brought back from New York, additional books that arrived from the library, and a list of movies and shows that I “just have to see!”.

At least I won’t be at a loss for something to do this weekend.

One of the first things on my ToDo list will be giving today’s story prompt and random words a try once I get home from the office.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Diverse Voices (RWA Conference Wrap-Up)

Last week’s RWA National conference is over and I made it home with twelve books to add to my To-Be-Read pile, some fun memories, pages and pages of notes from the various workshops I attended, and a lot of things to think about.  There will undoubtedly be much cogitating here at the Writing Castle in the weeks to come.

Today, however, I want to start off with a few facts:

  • In its 37-year history (1982-2018) no black author won an RWA RITA award.
  • According to the RWA’s own research, black authors have written less than half of 1 percent of the total number of books considered as RITA finalists.
  • Pew Research survey from 2014 found that the person most likely to read a book of any genre is a college-educated black woman.

Do you see the problem?

If so, you’re not alone. Continue reading