Romance and Cons


First, big news! And it’s about a writer – well – I am just such a HUGE fan! I’m all fangirl about it!

Friday Rachel Caine will blog here! Whoowhoo!

Keep an eye out!

Ahem. (resuming some form of unruffled writerly tranquility.) And on with my own blog.

We have talked here at MagicalWords.Net often about how life (books, family, agents, editors, manatees, funerals, grief, illness, birds in the bushes, photography, dancing, etc) affect and guide our writing. We’ve also discussed how small events can make a difference in our writing futures on the business end. I’d like to share one such possibly-future-changing-event with you, one that came at me because I took a chance on… (grinning here) on romance.

My AKA went to the Romantic Times Award Ceremony on April 24. She won an award for one of her mystery novels. (Big deal. Fantasy writer shrugs.) Anyway… The ceremony was fine (been to lots of award events over the years and they vary only in terms of media and glitz) and the AKA accepted the award, looking like a moon struck dope or a moose in the headlights. (The stage lights were really bright.) I have to say she was really nervous. It was sorta cute. (Do I sound schizoid?)

Then I had dinner with my fantasy agent, Lucienne Diver (note her blog here at MagicalWords.Net last week). Lucienne invited me to dinner with the agency founder Deirdre Knight, and Sue Grimshaw, and her, and about 10 other writers. All romance writers. Here is where I took a chance on romance.

I don’t write romance. My old writing group can tell you how much I don’t write romance. What was it Yoda said? Something like, “Try? There is no try. There is only do.” Or something like that. Well – I tried. I didn’t. Maybe someday. (Maybe it takes experience and looking back through thick, rose-colored glasses. With my family vision history I’ll be wearing them soon enough. Inner editor said not to put that in. But I can’t help it.)

The romance writers at the Knight Agency dinner were totally delightful. They were vivacious, interested in each other’s careers, mostly young and all fun. There were a lot of pitchers and bottles and tapas enough to gain 10 pounds on. And there was a lot of talk about the romance market. Because…

Sue Grimshaw is the buyer for the romance lines at Barnes and Noble. No! Wait! Gah! I am a doofus. With BORDERS! ( Slaps own head.) This why I should never be allowed near the Internet. Borders. Yeah. What a coup for the Knight Agency to snag her for their writers. Sue totally loves writing and writers. It was weird to be with her and see her work the romance writing crowd. She not only knows the books and the trends, she knows the writers. Really. She knows their work, how they think and what they need to do to improve their sales and careers. She even gave advice to them on settings that might be better then current ones, and other important things they can do to improves sales. It was lovely seeing her work the small crowd over tapas and drinks. Lots of drinks…. Oy.

We changed seats so every single writer had time to sit with her and pitch books and visit and get advice. My pocketbook ended up on the other side of the table on someone else’s chair because I was last in line. Well – hey – I don’t write romance. I was distinctly uncomfortable at my turn. So was Sue. She turned to me and *apologized*! She said, “Gwen (my AKA is named Gwen so she wasn’t being strange.) I am so sorry. I don’t know your work. Are you with a small press?”

Gwen sighed and said, “No I’m with Mira. But I write mystery and thrillers and Mira was an unfortunate choice for me as publisher.”

Sue said, “Ouch. Yes, That would be unfortunate. They do much better with romantic suspense.”

Gwen said, “But I am now writing Urban Fantasy under the name Faith Hunter with ROC.”

And the sweetest thing happened. The romance writer across the table reached into my bag and pulled out my cover for Skinwalker and handed it to Sue. And winked at me. I didn’t even know this writer. And she helped me out! Sue loved the cover, read the cover copy and asked me to sign it for the fantasy buyer for Borders. Will it make it there? Don’t know. But it was really cool.

I took a chance on romance and lived to tell the tale. And maybe got some good exposure for my fantasy persona. Too cool!

And most important for all us writers: Sue said the numbers in the chain for romance and fantasy sales were phenomenal for the month of April. She said it was amazing how well books have rebounded during the financial crisis. And hey – during the health crisis they will be even better. Books and TV and DVDs by mail. Perfect for the Swine Flu!






19 comments to Romance and Cons

  • …how much I don’t write romance.

    Lol, that could so be me. If a boy and a girl manage to fall in love at all, you can be sure one of them will die, or fall out of love, or there will be tons of cultural reasons why it doesn’t work – sorry, but my characters are the sort who, put between love and the rule of the tribe it took the MC a lot of sacrifices and toil to gain, he will decide for the rule of the tribe. 🙂

    I suppose there’s a reason I’m still single 😀

  • I found this cool–especially since I wrote a romance.

  • I’m actually not bad at writing romance and mild erotica, but it’s not my preferred genre to write.

  • Cool. Maybe we can write some space opera erotica together for Ellora’s Cave. 😉

  • Thanks for posting this. I’m not a romance reader, but the authors I’ve met in that genre are just like you said: fun, helpful, interesting people. I’m excited to hear fantasy sales were up; that’s the target market of my novel. 🙂

  • I found this really interesting. I always wanted to write a Romance, but I feel intimidated being a guy. I think most women will say, “What does a guy know about romance?”

    *sigh* But I guess I should listen to the wise words of teacher Yoda…. “Do.”.

  • QUOTE: Maybe we can write some space opera erotica together for Ellora’s Cave.

    Interestingly enough my wife’s Sci-Fi based novel I’m helping her work on would be considered Space Opera Romantica.

  • Congrats again on the award, and good for you for taking advantage of what sounds like speed-dating for writers! One thing that has helped me throughout my career is that the fantasy buyer for B&N loves my stuff. Always has, though I’ve never known why. (That sounds like I’m trying to be modest; I’m not. I know why he likes it, but not why he’s drawn especially to my work, if you know what I mean.) Anyway, good for you. Hope it yields great results.

  • That was a really fun night. How come you didn’t talk about the part where you danced on the table?

  • Guin

    Mark — there are a number of men who write romance (sometimes with a female pen name). If it interests you, go for it.

  • Hey Kristen, was she wearing her turquoise fringed hip scarf? We need pictures!

  • OMG. No one took pics, did they???

  • QUOTE:Interestingly enough my wife’s Sci-Fi based novel I’m helping her work on would be considered Space Opera Romantica.

    Dan, that sounds cool. Maybe we need to do a crit group, if not a collaboration? I’ve got a space opera romantica idea, and I just had another fantasy idea the other day. I’ve written one full romance (which I’ve been shopping for awhile), and started working on a sequel to that romance, but put it down because I wasn’t having any luck finding an agent for the first one. Now, I’m just getting back into writing from the move. I went back and did some game writing for CRUSADER magazine just recently to make sure I could still write something someone wanted. I’ll tell ya, the unsuccessful novel shopping really hurt my confidence as a writer.

  • Beatriz

    Faith, in case I haven’t told you lately, I love you. You are too cool for words.

    Your posts always make me smile– or think– or both.


  • Guin >> That is true. But question… if you write under a pen name of the opposite gender in order to get into a certain genre, how would you market yourself? Would the readers feel cheated somehow…. like they have been duped? If I write under say “Kathy Martin”, then put up a website. most readers will expect bio/pictures/Cons/signings…. then see my hairy face and….

    I wonder how that is handled?

  • There is a very successful writer named Harold, who writes under teh name of…OMG I can’t remember. Leigh something. Leigh Greenwood? Yeah!

    And…Miz B I am all teary eyed! Thank you!!!!

  • If I was writing Romance/Erotica I’d wanna go by the name Rod Longjohn. 😉 j/k

    If they made me use a female name for sales it’d probably just be the female version of my first name. Danielle. Maybe I’d go all French/Cajun sounding and go Danielle Davois. 😉

  • Danielle Davois is a fantastic romance writer’s name! 🙂

  • Pam

    I thought Sue was the buyer for Borders — has she switched to B&N recently?