March 27, 2015

My thoughts on recent developments in the romance community. Warning: Very long post.

Many romance readers will still be reeling from the news that Jane Litte, one of the most — if not the most — prominent romance novel reviewers is also a successful author. There are a lot of issues to unpack, so fair warning: this post will be long.

My initial reaction to the news was…less surprised than I should have been, and more generous than one might have expected. Let me explain.

It doesn’t bother me that a reader-blogger is also an author. It’s a fairly common phenomenon, and a social-media-fied version of the ‘I love reading romance books, so I thought I’d try writing one myself.’ I was surprised that Jane managed to keep it secret for so long. The temptation to display one’s achievements is pretty strong. (At least, I think it is; it could just be me.)

But I know that not everyone is comfortable with the concept of separate personas. (I’d like to think I am, at least insofar as the communities in which I participate, both online and in real life.) I also know this would be very problematic for many people who consider Dear Author a vital part of the reading community. I’m therefore amazed that the conversations about the issues stemming from Jane’s decision to keep her author persona a secret are so measured.

The sound of silence

This issue has highlighted to me the fact that we do, in fact, have romance community…well, oligarchies, I suppose. That’s not really the right term, but they’re basically influential people around whom most readers congregate for news, discussion and commentary. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, except when those people are also all friends.

Read the rest of this post.

March 27, 2015

Congratulations to Aussie authors Sarah Mayberry, Bec McMaster and Beck Nicholas for their 2015 RITA nominations!

Update 27/3/2015: Beck Nicholas added to list of Aussie finalists.

The Romance Writers of America has announced the finalists for the 2015 RITA awards. Aussie authors Sarah Mayberry, Bec McMaster and Beck Nicholas made this year’s list, as did New Zealand author Louisa George. New Zealand writer Bronwyn McEvoy is nominated for a Golden Heart.

Congratulations to all the finalists! The winners will be announced at the RWA convention on July 25.

March 25, 2015

BOOKMARKED is the name of our journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes, this is an adhoc round-up on the blog highlighting links and news that might be of interest.

It’s been a while since we posted a links round-up, but oh, my god, people, Romancelandia exploded last night! This post will be epic. I hope you brought your lunch with you.

Undeclared by Jen Frederick (The Woodlands, Book 1)Dear Author’s Jane Litte reveals her author pseudonym

Everything you know about romance book bloggers has been turned on its head. Jane Litte revealed on Dear Author that she has been writing books since 2013:

So I went ahead and created a penname, Jen Frederick, and published Undeclared with no expectations about what would happen. And, much to my surprise, it sold well. So I wrote another one. And another. And began to learn about the publishing industry from an entirely different perspective.

It was important that DA remain its own inviolate entity. I partitioned off the fiction writing from the blogging, keeping my writing identity private. I wanted as little connection as possible between the blog and the book, to protect the integrity of both.

I know many people will have conflicting feelings about this, but personally, I think we need more authors willing to review other books critically. I do wonder how some of the other Dear Author reviewers will feel about this revelation.

In any case, it’s a pretty great accomplishment for her to achieve success without using her blogging persona to help market her books.

Update 25/3/2015: My understanding is that Jane disclosed the information to the Dear Author bloggers just before she posted it on the blog, and that there was an opportunity for them to react and ask questions. It’s also my understanding that Jane herself declined to review her own book (when encouraged by another blogger who didn’t know of the connection) on the basis that she knew the author, but I haven’t followed Jen Frederick’s career closely, so I can’t say for sure whether or not the books have been promoted on Dear Author in a way that I might find unseemly.

I guess I don’t feel it’s a huge problem unless, for example, she reviewed her own book favourably or in any way tried to change other people’s opinions of the book using her blogger persona, or called in personal favours without those personal connections being disclosed during the promotion. My feeling is that it’s this uncertainty that will probably be the biggest issue for other readers, and it will basically come down to your opinion of Jane’s integrity.

Read the rest of this post.

March 22, 2015

2015 Fifty Shades of Grey - Universal PicturesIt’s not the best example of romance, and it’s not the best film ever made, but it’s important that we try to understand its appeal.

When the release date for the Fifty Shades of Grey film was announced, I extracted a promise from my husband that we would see it together. I called in all the film favours he owed me — from having to sit through Transformers 2Prometheus, and The Hobbit trilogy, for example — and as he knew this film is based on a popular book, he was generally curious to see what it was all about.

Let me say that the audience makes a huge difference when watching Fifty Shades. The first time I saw it was with the Valentine’s Day crowd, a few days after it premiered in Australia. There was a lot of tittering, giggling, and throat clearing. If I had to guess, I’d say most of the women had read the books, or at least knew enough about them to know they wanted to see the film.

Last night, I saw the film towards the end of its theatrical run. Surprisingly, the cinema was just under half-full (admittedly, we were in one of the smallest auditoriums), and most in the audience were either couples or just men.

I have to say that the second time around the film was less joy-making for me.

Read the rest of this post.

March 20, 2015

A sneak peek at the details for J. R. Ward’s new series, the Black Dagger Legacy.

The cover and back cover blurb for Blood Kiss, the first book in the Black Dagger Legacy series, has just been unveiled. We’ve met the heroine’s family in The King, but we’ll get to meet the hero and heroine in The Shadows.

Blood Kiss by JR Ward (Black Dagger Legacy #1) - US editionParadise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated — and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

Booktopia | Bookworld | Amazon US | Book Depository | Kobo | Library

I’m assuming Craeg is pronounced Craig, but don’t quote me on that. I’m a little bit lost since neither name contains the letter H. But I think it sounds promising, since the training program is now open to females as well as males and Paradise wants to become more than just your average glymera female, so I think readers may like her more than some of Ward’s other heroines.

Blood Kiss will be released in paperback in December.

March 13, 2015

2015 Rockdale Arts Festival -

Rockdale Arts Festival workshop on love letters — March 17.

Next week, I’m going to put all that PhD research into practice. I’m running a workshop on love letters on March 17 from 10am-12pm for the Rockdale Arts Festival, and it’s going to be awesome.

This is a tie in to the ‘ANZAC and Lemnos: Forever Linked’ exhibition, so the focus is going to be on wartime love letters, but that’s absolutely not all it will be on. I’m going to give a talk about the history of the love letter, with tons of examples — and if I’ve done my job properly, that’s going to equip workshop participants to be able to write their own love letter to the recipient of their choosing.

So if you like your history full of a) letters and b) love, come along to my workshop! I promise it will be interesting. (If you like love. And history.) All the details are here, and all you need to bring is a pen, a notepad, and your lovely selves.

Posted by Jodi in Events (1 comment)
March 6, 2015

Get a sneak peek of the first issue of Trousseau, a fan zine by women for women who read books by women for women.

In hindsight, Jen and I must have been drunk when we decided to create a zine in less than a month. But we did it! And you did it! You can get a sneak peek at our Tumblr site: If you’re coming to ARRC 2015, you’ll get to be one of our first readers — they’ll be in the conference satchels.

huge THANK YOU to the terrific Laurie Ormond, who did the bulk of the proofreading — any remaining typos are all my fault! — and to our wonderful contributors, whose creativity is showcased in our inaugural issue: Ainslie PatonAndrew LiClarisse Djaja, Decadence, Ian McLeanJodi McAlisterKate Cuthbert, M. L. Cuthbert, Rhyll BiestSam JoiceSandra AntonelliShannon CurtisShiloh Walker, and Shona Husk.

We hope you enjoy the zine as much as we enjoyed making it!

Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (2 comments)
Keywords: zine
March 2, 2015

Your smutty words are needed for Smutty Buzzword Bingo cards!

I’m moderating a panel called Sex in the Subgenre at ARRC 2015, and I have promised attendees that we will play Smutty Buzzword Bingo.

One week before the convention, I need your help to generate bingo cards!

What smutty (or even vaguely dirty) words have you encountered in romance books? Add them to the list, and help our panel reach an (ahem) awesome climax!

Please check this list for words that have already been submitted. (It might take a while for new words to appear.) Thank you for your smut!

If you can see the form, click here.

February 28, 2015

Open to book bloggers and reviewers only. If you can’t see the sign-up form below, click here.

February 24, 2015

The Great Romance Debate - 2015 Library Lovers DayA transcript of Kat’s argument for the affirmative at The Great Romance Debate, hosted by Double Bay Library.

A couple of weeks ago, Woollahra Library hosted The Great Romance Debate. I was the second speaker for the affirmative, with Vassiliki Veros and Shannon Curtis, and this is a loose transcript of what I said (I improvised while speaking and updated this piece from memory).

The debate was recorded, so I will update this post with a link to the podcast if/when it’s up. In the meantime, you can find Jodi’s post here. She was the first speaker for the negative, whose team was called the Wicked Sirens and included Kate Forsyth and Madeleine Culp.

A huge thank you to Double Bay Library, and Jenn Martin, in particular, for organising the event and adjudicating the debate.

When my husband and I were newly married, he rented a DVD. ‘It’s a romance,’ he assured me. Well, the film was Sweet November, Charlize Theron’s character died, and I was not happy.

‘You told me this was a romance!’ I accused my clueless husband through blubbering tears.

‘It is a romance,’ he insisted. ‘Isn’t it better to have loved that lost, than never to have loved at all?’

I said, ‘Never, ever do that to me again.’

Read the rest of this post.