May 25, 2015

2015 SWF logoCollated tweets from the romance panel at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

On Saturday, the Sydney Writers’ Festival has, for the first time since I started paying attention (which, admittedly, hasn’t been that long) included romance authors in the program, to talk about romance books. The panel was hosted by the super-smart Jodi McAlister, and featured Kate Cuthbert, Avril Tremayne and Victoria Purman.

Overall, the panel was really interesting, and covered a spectrum of topics within the hour. I was really encouraged by the audience questions, too. Yes, we did get a question on Fifty Shades of Grey, but the discussion was intelligent, and probably unexpected if you were in the panel as a romance genre skeptic. Other audience questions touched on the use of language, and the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. There were no Dorothy Dixers in this panel, and I hope that bodes well for the future of romance at the Festival.

If you listened to the panel, I’d love to know what you thought!

(If the script doesn’t load and you don’t see a link, click here to view the tweets directly at Storify.)

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May 22, 2015
2015 SWF logo

Hear from Kate Cuthbert, Kylie Scott, Jodi McAlister, Valerie Purman, and Avril Tremayne at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. And while you’re around, stop by at the MCA Zine Fair and pick up a copy of Trousseau!

It’s probably not because of Gabby’s open letter, or my whingeing, or our hashtag commandeering, but seeing one honest-to-goodness romance panel in this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival program — on a Saturday, no less! — is nothing short of a miracle.

So we’ll take it, thank you, organisers!

The downside is that the free weekend events are always packed, so if you’re planning to come along, make sure you’re there early. (Yes, I recognise the irony of me giving out such advice.) If your attended the publishing workshop yesterday, you would have also caught author Kylie Scott, and romance enthusiasts Joel Naoum, Anna Valdinger and John Purcell.

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May 18, 2015

Stuff the Book Thingo bloggers are up to. Not an excuse for blog silence. Okay, many excuses for blog silence.

The logic behind having seven bloggers behind Book Thingo was to spread the reviewing love around so that when life gets busy for a few, the others can pick up the load. In reality, we all seem to go through slumps and busy times at around the same time. I can’t explain it.

Fortunately, a lot of us are still doing bookish things. So I thought I’d share some links on where you can find us, and what we’ve been up to this month (and previous months, truth be told).

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April 11, 2015

2015 CS Pacat photo by Alise BlackEdited videos from the C. S. Pacat signing at Galaxy Bookshop are now online, including parts of the author talk, her reading from The Captive Prince, and the audience Q&A. The Prince’s Gambit comes out in Australia in July.

I have conquered technology and figured out a way to get the Periscope videos onto YouTube!

The video quality isn’t the best, and the audio has a lot of background noise (as one would expect in an awesome bookshop like Galaxy), but I hope that won’t deter you, because C. S. Pacat (rhymes with ‘the cat’, not ‘packet’) is such a thoughtful, self-aware writer. I absolutely love listening to her talk.

You can find Cat on her website, on Twitter or on YouTube. And if you’re now obsessed, as I am, with everything she has ever said, check out her Q&A with Kaetrin, and the wonderfully positive review of The Captive Prince in The Saturday Paper. You might also be interested in the podcast I recorded with Cat and Anna Cowan for Heart to Heart last year.

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April 10, 2015

The Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat - Australian editionC. S. Pacat, author of The Captive Prince spoke at Galaxy Bookshop, and we have video!

Australian author C. S. Pacat was in Sydney this week to launch the local edition of The Captive Prince (sorry, international readers, but we got the better cover!). Although the official launch was on Wednesday — and it was a really wonderful launch; very intimate, and everyone got a one-on-one with the author — she was also at Galaxy Bookshop to talk to readers and sign some books.

With permission from the author, I was able to film some parts of the Galaxy Q&A. I also filmed part of her actual talk, but it was my first time using Periscope, so I didn’t broadcast the URL and now I can’t find it. But if you watch any of the videos, you should be able to find a link to my Periscope account, and it should show you the videos I have available. Click on the first one, called Author @CSPacat at @GalaxyBookshop #cspacatgalaxy and you should be able to play the video.

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April 4, 2015

The Shadows by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13) - UK/Australian editionThe Black Dagger Brotherhood is no longer a romance series, and Gabby is enraged. Warning: Major spoilers for The Shadows. And CAPS.

Today, I finished reading The Shadows by J. R. Ward.

Let me start off by saying I have a super complicated relationship with the BDB. Sometimes, I am so head over heels in love with it and other times, I’m two seconds away from throwing it at the wall. It’s enraging, messy, sexy, funny and truly unbelievable most of the time. (Vishous ends every single since sentence with “True?” Like, come on. Are you for real?) I was so into this series, I did my thesis on Lover at Last. But I guess that book was the beginning of the end.

As the series has progressed, something fucked up has happened, and it wasn’t until today that the final nail was slammed into the coffin. It’s no longer a romance series.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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