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.’

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February 21, 2015

The Shadows by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13) - UK/Australian editionBDB guru Decadence has news on upcoming books by J. R. Ward, including a new series set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world!

Click here for more BDB information, including Decadence’s cheat sheets.

Pre-order The ShadowsBooktopia | Bookworld | Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo | Library

Just over a week ago, J. R. Ward finally revealed what her new series is going to be about and I couldn’t be happier! Once they’ve found their mate and had their book, the original Brothers have to take a back seat to whoever the next book is about, but like me, Ward also misses the moments with them.

The new Black Dagger Legacy series will focus on the reopening of the training centre and will bring new romances with new characters, but the original BDB will get to play a larger role than they currently do.

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February 17, 2015

2015 Fifty Shades of Grey - Universal PicturesBetter than the book, not as hardcore as you probably expect, and people determined to dislike it will still dislike it. The film never forget its most important audience — the fans of the book.

Jodi and Kat were on 2SER’s Double X program talking about Fifty Shades of Grey and female sexuality with Rudi and Jess. You can listen to the podcast here.

I went to see Fifty Shades of Grey with absolutely no expectations. I say that in all sincerity, as someone who has only managed fifty pages of the first book (I’m still not calling it a DNF because I hold out hope that one day I’ll get back to it) but was open to the possibility that the film, unencumbered by E L James’s prose, can offer a more compelling way of telling the same story.

Only a few minutes into the film and it’s clear that this is a different beast to the book. Unlike the book, which revolves around the fantasy that is Christian Grey, Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele is the heart of the film. Her Ana is gauche but charming, and Johnson infuses the dialogue — which is frankly laughable in the book — with humour and a kind of cheekiness that serves as a wink to fans while acknowledging how ridiculous some of it might be. Even the lip-biting isn’t too grating, although it does get a bit tiresome after a while, and I suspect was only kept in so that Christian can say some of the more popular lines from the book.

In constrast, Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey is flat, insincere and lacks the complexity needed to make the romance work. His Christian just doesn’t come together — not his awkward way of speaking, or the fact that the camera just could not seem to find a good angle for his face (because, yes, the shirtless scenes were just fine), and not the perplexed look that seemed to vex his character for the entire film.

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February 7, 2015

2015 Romance Festival by HarperCollins
HarperCollins is hosting its annual Romance Festival this weekend. Free registration; uncivilised hours.

The Romance Festival is a virtual event featuring author Q&As, advice for authors, and featured articles. It runs over the weekend, British time, so for Aussie readers, you’ll need to stay up past bedtime because itw will run on Sunday and Monday, 1am to 7am AEDT. The Sunday program is for author development and advice, and the Monday program is for readers.

You can find the festival program here and here, and you can follow the Festival on Facebook or on Twitter at @RomanceFestival or via #Romance15.

Posted by Kat in Events (Leave a comment)
Keywords: romance
January 29, 2015

#LoveRomance – Banner designed by Jennifer Wu

We’re calling for submissions for the first issue of an annual romance fanzine with an as yet undetermined title.

Following on from last year’s postcard campaign, Jen and I have been brainstorming fun, creative ways to talk about romance books. We have no funding, no prototype, and lots of ideas about romance novels. So Jen and I have decided to create a zine.

People who love romance fiction are invited to submit stuff for inclusion in the zine. We’ll consider any creative work, including: essays (min 250 words); academic findings (written in plain speak); illustrations; personal reflections; photographs; poetry; scanned artwork; original short stories; excerpts of books in progress; and fun, provocative or satirical remixes.

You must own the copyright to any work you submit. We reserve the right to make minor changes as needed to suit our style and layout, but we will discuss this with you before the zine is finalised.

We ask for first rights, exclusive for 2 months from the date of publication (tentatively March 2015). If you wish to negotiate this, please send us an email. Honestly, we’re not going to be picky about it as long as all parties agree.

We cannot pay for submissions on spec, but if we accept your submission, we will send you a free copy of the zine.

Our aim is to have the zine ready in time for the Australian Romance Readers Conference in March. This is a super tight deadline, so we need your submissions by Saturday, February 7.

We’re also accepting a limited number of ads. They must be high-res and aesthetically pleasing in the style of hipster. What? It’s going to be a classy zine. We might write about wangs and tentacles, but advertising must be tasteful. Or retro porny. That would please our aesthetics, too.

This issue will have a print run of 500 copies.

Ad rates: Back cover or Inside front cover $250; Other $150. We will accept a maximum of 10 full-page (B5) ads.

The first issue of the zine will largely be funded out of our own pockets. Any ad revenue will go directly towards the cost of production. The selling price of the magazine will probably be around $10 (to be confirmed) — again, this will cover costs and possibly local postage. Anything left over (highly doubtful, but we can dream) will help fund the next issue.

That said, if we get this done in time for ARRC, we plan to give at least half of the first issue print run for free, because we want to spread the love to as many people as possible! It will be available for sale via Book Thingo. We’re trying to work out other methods, too (and if you’re a bookseller interested in stocking the zine, let us know.)

Please email your submissions to zine@bookthingo.com.au. You can also send any pitches or questions about the zine to this address.

Artwork must be B5 or larger, high-res (300dpi) JPG or TIFF files. 

Text submissions must be MS Word files. If the typography needs to be preserved (ie it’s part of the work), please let us know. Otherwise, we reserve the right to change font styles and sizes to suit the layout.

We’re so excited about this new project, and we can’t wait to get this first issue up and running!

Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (Leave a comment)
Keywords: zine
January 27, 2015

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne (Spymasters, Book 4) - Australian editionDisclaimer: This is one of my favourite books ever.

Someone has just tried to kill Justine De Cabrillac, former French spy of the Secret Police, now living in England after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. She’s managed to make her way to her ex-lover, Adrian Hawker, the only man she can trust to save her when in trouble. He also happens to be the head of British Intelligence. Who is trying to kill Justine? And what does that have to do with him? And more importantly, can he trust her?

In anticipation of Joanna Bourne’s next novel, Rogue Spy, I reread this one. Despite having reread this several times now, The Black Hawk did not disappoint. Bourne has a gift for writing lyrical prose and weaving characters and stories together. The story moves in and out of the past and present, tracing the story of how Justine and Hawker’s relationship came to be, came to end, and reached the point where they are now.

Justine and Hawker meet as thirteen year olds — already veterans of the service — in revolutionary France, and then again years later in different periods, still in their respective professions, together but apart. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy romantic, this book has some of the most poignant, touching love scenes I’ve read, and it’s almost as if you can feel the emotion through the pages.

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January 26, 2015

Whether you call this day Australia Day, Survival Day or Invasion Day, I hope you find this a little bit inspiring. (You can find the translation here.)

Tahlia King sings the Australian National Anthem in Dharawal from ABC Open Illawarra on Vimeo.

Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (2 comments)
January 24, 2015

Join us on Thursday, February 12 as readers and authors engage in a spirited debate around the most important question of all — Is the HEA necessary for a good story?

Author Shannon Curtis, Shallow reader and academic Vassiliki Veros and I will be fighting for the HEA, while author Kate Forsyth, academic and blogger Jodi McAlister and comedienne Madeleine Culp will be trying to doom fairies to die.

Just saying.

Anyway, we’d love for you to join us at the Woollahra Council Chambers in Double Bay. The event is free but ticketed (register here or call 9391 7931). You can find more information at the Woollahra Council website, and I have included the event poster below.

Hope to see you there!

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January 20, 2015

Contract Baby by Lynne GrahamShe has no idea he is the father of the baby, because he insisted on complete anonymity, and so doesn’t twig that he is creepily control-freak stalking her, and inconveniently falls in love with him. Awks.

Queen of librarians, fellow romance scholar, and shallow reader Vassiliki Veros told me about this book. The exact words she used were ‘OMG!!!!!! VIRGIN BIRTH!!!!!!!’ so as BookThingo’s resident Virgin Hornypants Specialist, I knew I had to read it at once.

It did not disappoint.

Warning: this review is a) very long and b) full of spoilers. I had a lot of FEELINGS I needed to get out, which necessitated giving away plot points.

Here are the basics. Our heroine is Polly Johnson, a pregnant 21-year old virgin who is down on her luck. Trying to raise money so that her mother can have life-saving surgery, she agrees to be the surrogate mother for the baby of the hero, Venezuelan billionaire Raul Zaforteza. As soon as his cheque for babybearing duties clears, she pays for her mother’s surgery, only for her mother to inconsiderately die immediately.

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January 17, 2015

Just to be clear: These are blog-related. Let’s leave jogging and housekeeping out of it.

Last year, we ended the year quietly. Partly, that was because I was exhausted from the stuff that led to the Blogger Blackout, and partly because, well, life became busy. This year, instead of trying to meet what will most likely be an unrealistic blogging schedule, I’d like to commit to 5 goals that will make blogging fun rather than something that feels more like a duty.

Here we go.

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (6 comments)