Friday, July 24, 2009

Romance in the News

Mainstream media continues to be surprised, over and over again, that romance is the hit of the publishing industry and a positive phenomenon of the current crappy economy. Most of the coverage is snarky, deprecating, and slightly denigrating, while assuring their readers that they're covering this because it's news, not because they're — O Horror! — a fan.

There are innumerable people who should've been given the Veritas award this year, instead it was awarded to Ron Charles, fiction editor and weekly critic for the Washington Post for his October 2008 blog Heating up the Stacks. (The Romance Writers of America Veritas Award is given for "the article that appears in print or in another medium that best depicts the romance genre in a positive light.") I'm not saying that Ron Charles can be bought off with an award, but there's no harm in priming the pump, so to speak; after all this is the WaPo. While his acceptance speech at the awards luncheon was gracious, his follow-up blog, where he declares his award to his readers, goes thusly: "Last week I received an uncomfortable honor, the kind I'm not sure I should include on my résumé."

The other WaPo coverage for last week, included a video interview of Nora Roberts — with the caption: "About 550 women (and four hen-pecked men) filled our auditorium to ask her questions and get signed copies of her new bestseller." — and When Romance Writers Gather, The Plot Quickens — with a description of a typical romance writer: "But if you squint and look for a general appearance trend, this is it: They look like your mom. They look kind, comforting, domestic, as if they are wearing perfume made from Fleischmann's yeast."

A Love Affair With The Romance Novel is NPR's coverage, including an interview with Nora Roberts, asking about "giving away secrets" and "formulas," which La Nora reworded as "constants" and "framework," why there were no men at her workshops, and ending with a laughing "heaving bosoms." Was there a point to the reading from his own horribly written story opener? Carrie Feron, vice-president and executive editor at HarperCollins, put him right in his place; good for her.

For a much more balanced coverage that gives an insiders' view of how business is conducted at this national conference, read the Publisher's Weekly article. For an introduction to how the academic world is studying popular romance, read the Huffington Post article by Joanne Rendell.

For a humorous, laudatory look at the conference, there's AIC FIA RWA by Kieran Shea: "Anyway, she [Karin Tabke] gave me a playful kick and told me to quit fucking around, finish my novel, and send it in. Translation? FIA = Foot In Ass. AIC = Ass In Chair. Anyway, I got the message. Thanks, Karin. Back to work." Top Ten Geeky Things You Don't Know About Romance Writers by Wired says: "They read acceptance speeches from their iPhones," "They take their kids on research trips to the spy museum," "They hold forensic science workshops." Though Wired did get one thing wrong: "The two places to find writers who were not in workshops at RWA National were the bar or anyplace with free wireless connections..." Free Wi-Fi?? Where was that?!?!

Here's innovative marketing: A Romance for Michelle Obama, an article by Emily Cotler for the Huffington Post. How about an Obama Book Club?

Ultimately, the best articles come from within the industry, not without — and that is something that RWA should take notice of. Kudos to Teresa Medeiros for her essay on Squawk Radio on why she writes romance, Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I Write Romance Novels, and to Barbara Samuel O'Neal on Romancing the Blog on why she loves attending Nationals, As Time Goes By—My Life and RWA Conferences. These are the women whom I go to meet every July and why I can conceive of every monetary economy but missing the RWA National Conference.


PJ said...

Excellent blog, Keira!

Keira Soleore said...

Thanks for reading, PJ.

Emily Cotler said...

Well done, Keira. Thanks for the nod. I posted this to facebook!

Keira Soleore said...

Thanks, Em.