Friday, July 31, 2009

Picture Day Friday

Whose blood does not run hot as such a glorious sight?

Image Copyright by

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hack! Hack!

Post banking works, but cannot save you from multiple days of sore throats, ear infections, and fevers. Dear friends released books this week that I was meaning to shout out loud to the world, and I managed to not even croak about them. Expect the roar to be appropriately louder when I've rested and recovered.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Petition: Veritas Nominations for 2010

Sarah WendellI would like to petition all members of the RWA to nominate Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Joanne Rendell of Huffington Post for the 2010 RWA Veritas award.

Candy Tan"RWA's Veritas Award may be given annually for the article that appears in print or in another medium that best depicts the romance genre in a positive light." The nomination form is here and nominations for 2010 are taken by RWA through November 30, 2009.

Joanne RendellWith Rendell's blogs and articles and Wendell's and Tan's blogs, articles, conference presentations, and workshops, these women have put in a tremendous amount of work and countless hours in conveying an insider's perspective of the romance publishing industry to a vast audience. It is time we recognize that nothing equals the passion and committment of these advocates who were and will always be readers and fans first and who believe in the power of the romance novel.

Again, the nomination form is HERE. Go nominate!

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.

Picture Day Friday

Ganked from Susan Wiggs...

He-Mote Control

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Highlights of the Conference

I wait all year for the RWA National Conference and it's over in a flash. Every year, without fail, I laugh, I cry, I talk myself hoarse, and I come away awed and inspired by the generosity and kindness of the professionals in the romance industry.

The theme to this year's conference, on my own terms: Love is power. Laughter is strength. Put it all together to gain individual and collective knowledge.


  • My conference was made by dear, dear friend and mentor Amanda McCabe—wonderful writer, funny, hard-working, stylish, meticulous, and above all, very thoughtful. (Ms. Wee and I adore her to pieces!)
  • Touring DC's monuments with Anna Campbell and Christine Wells
  • Rooming and chatting after 'lights out' with Amanda McCabe and Andrea Pickens
  • Meeting both the Smart Bitches in person together
  • Watching Pam Rosenthal and Joanna Bourne win their RITAs
  • Congratulating Louisa Cornell on her Royal Ascot and Daphne wins. (Somebody buy her already, for the love of God.)
  • Being the always marvelous Diane Gaston's date for the Harlequin Party (didn't crash it, nope, nope)
  • Attending the six-figures workshop and seeing how much Helen Breitwieser and Kristin Nelson adore their 2009 debut authors, Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan, respectively
  • Being impressed by the posh and bright person that Joanne Grant is
  • Falling in love with Sherry Thomas, and wisely running away before gushing it all in front of her
  • Catching up with Deb Marlowe—always cheers me up
  • Michelle Buonfiglio bowing to my bag
  • Pitching at a shout at the Harlequin Party and getting a request. In fact, all of my pitches happened at parties and I got requests on all. Perhaps that should be my modus operandi at future conferences
  • Hugging Romance Novel TV reviewer PJ
  • Having the fabulous Mary Jo Putney and Victoria Alexander recognize me and say how pleased they're to see me, and having the incomparable Anne Gracie asking various people where she could meet me and being thrilled once she did
  • Meeting fellow Twitterers in person: Sarah Wendell, Angela James, Jane Litte, Sarah Frantz, Malle Vallik, Kassia Krozser, Dominique Raccah, Don Linn, Pam Spengler-Jaffee, and Barbara Vey
  • Hugging PJ
  • Chatting with and raving about Kim Castillo, who's not merely an author's best friend, but a powerhouse in your corner
  • Watching La Nora kick up her heels at the Harlequin Party. Also seeing Jo Beverley, Stephanie Laurens, Katherine Smith, Jacquie d'Alessandro, Olivia Gates (bellydancing), and Julie Cohen (ooh, can she dance!) let their hair down. (Noticeably missing: Julia Quinn!)
  • Tearing up over and over during Eloisa James's speech. I've known her through her message board for years, and know of all the individual incidents that have charted her life, but hearing it all put together and realizing her courage and conviction through it all was simply WOW. (I'm even more in love her if that were possible!)
  • Hand-delivering a note to Julia Quinn from a fan (De Paul professor Eric Selinger's young daughter) and seeing how pleased she was to receive it
  • "May I take a picture of you?" I asked over and over again. "Of course" and "Sure" said the writers, dropping everything they were doing to pose with smiles at the ready. Graciousness personified.
  • Meeting the oldest debut author at 76, Pearl Wolf, and buying her book at the Literacy Signing
  • Watching how fast the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance is gaining in popularity and membership. (Kudos, Sarah Frantz!)
  • Hugging PJ
  • Eloisa James Julia Quinn Tea, Beau Monde Soirée, Banditas Bash, Smart Bitches Bootleg, Samhain Extravaganza, and the crown jewel, the Harlequin Party
  • Anne Stuart as the emcee of the RITA/GH ceremony was the right blend of humor and speechifying. Her various guises were absolutely hilarious
  • A thumb-drive with conference handouts and Harlequin art
  • Meeting new-to-me authors
  • Thriving in the constant hubbub of like-minded individuals
  • Adult conversations (didn't have to be X-rated for enjoyment)
  • Not dozing off in the 8:30am workshops
  • Two boxes of books (oh, yeah!)
  • Free eBooks by Books on Board
  • T-Shirt by Quartet Press
  • Being only a few blocks away from Obama, breathing the very air he was breathing
  • Meeting up with my cousin for dinner the night before I left DC as the perfect coda to a near perfect conference

2009 BESTS

  • Bookmark — Tessa Dare
  • Excerpt booklet — Tessa Dare & Courtney Milan
  • Postcard — Sara Lindsey
  • Pin & Pen — International Association for the Study of Popular Romance
  • Swag — Harlequin's 60th anniversary cover art goodies
  • Cookies — Tim Tams by Anna Campbell
  • Chocolates — Handcrafted by PJ
  • Snack Goodies — Home-baked by Kim Castillo at the Eloisa James Julia Quinn Tea
  • Party Outfit — Amanda McCabe at the Beau Monde Soirée
  • Wardrobe — Every single outfit by Michelle Willingham
  • Shoes — Silver nothings by Diane Gaston at the Harlequin Party
  • Purse — Julie Cohen's Mills & Boon book cover from the 1960s
  • Drink — Lemon drop with lime by Christine Wells
  • News — Kathryn Caskie's engagement

(Photographs in the next post.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stone Age R Us

I'm leaving for the Romance Writers of America National Conference in half an hour. For the next eight days, I will not have access to the Internet, and my phone does not have a data plan. So the only way to get in touch with me is to find me through the hotel's phone system or to call and text to my cell phone or to run into me. I'll be back with gossip, photos, and news.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

RWA: Literacy Autographing

Romance Writers of America National Conference UpdateThis year in Washington D.C., the RWA "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing will be on Wednesday, July 15, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the Exhibit Hall of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Nearly 500 authors are expected to participate; go here to see the list of authors.

Every year, book publishers, authors, and Romance Writers of America come together to raise tens of thousands of dollars in donation to ProLiteracy Worldwide. Since 1991, RWA has donated more than $600,000 to literacy charities.

This event is free and open to the public. Expect the resulting din of excited readers meeting long-cherished authors to raise the roof.

Here's my list of authors I want to meet (in reverse alphabetical order). This is aside from authors, such as The Riskies and The Banditas, whom I will be meeting at other events. These are authors some of whose books I want to buy and some of whose signatures I want to solicit to put in their books that I already own.

Pearl Wolf
Lauren Willig
Michelle Willingham
Robin Wells
Sherry Thomas
Pam Rosenthal
Nora Roberts
Julia Quinn
Mary Jo Putney
Barbara O'Neal (Samuel)
Brenda Novak
Sophia Nash
Cathy Maxwell
Deb Marlowe
Debbie Macomber
Julie Anne Long
Julia Latham
Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)
Vanessa Kelly
Julie James
Karen Hawkins
C.S. Harris
Ann Gracie
Barbara Freethy
Tessa Dare
Jacquie D'Alessandro
Susan Crandall
Nicola Cornick
Julie Cohen
Kathryn Caskie
Robyn Carr
Emily Bryan
Allison Brennan
Joanna Bourne
Mary Blayney
Jo Beverley
Elizabeth Bevarly

Do you think I will be able to meet them all? Who is on your list?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Picture Day Friday

My collection of Mills & Boon books from the 1960s.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Julia Quinn Giveaway Winners

Illuminated Book Of Kells Folio 292r Circa 800 Gospel Of JohnMs. Random Selector has chosen A C True and Froggie as the two prize winners.

And Ms. Random Selector has chosen Zeee and Arianna Skye as the two runners-up.

Please send your snail mail details ASAP to keira (at) keirasoleore (dot) com

Rubber Duckie: a history

According to The Mini Rubber Duckie Book by Jodie Davis, the same comfortable companion of childhood bubble baths, the rubber duckie, has now made a reappearance as the collectible.

The early origins of the rubber duckie are shrouded in mystery. No patent can be found for the first definitive creation. No toymaker fairytale, no child genius inventor, nor any memorable storybook character. What occurred was a confluence of the fascination of little minds with baby animals and aquatic animals, bathtimes, and the material rubber. The first recorded findings are from the latest nineteeth century.

Whether the name is a duckie or a ducky is a hotly debated topic. One recent poll puts the votes bill-to-bill with 51-percent with ducky and 48-percent with duckie. But the decisive vote has been cast by Seasame Street's Ernie, whose signature song references a duckie.

Aiding Science

In January 1992, a storm washed 29,000 toys overboard from an ocean-traveling freighter. They bobbed and weaved on the whim of the ocean currents and the wind, while oceanographers around the world scrambled to track them. Now, more than ten years later, computer projections show some ducks swam to the North Atlantic coast and to Greenland, while the hardier toys continued on to Britain and Africa. They migratory patterns havehelped accurately delineate the ocean currents at various times of the year.

Racing for Charity

The Great American Duck Race is the brainchild of Eric Schechter. It is one of the wackiest and fastest growing fund raising scheme in the nation. The company leases ducks out to various charities who then require each participant to pay a sponsorship fee for adopting a duck. At a top speed of nine mile per hour, the ducks can take anywhere from two to sixty minutes to finish their races, with prizes for the winning sponsor.

Building a Collection

Tips to build a thriving collection:
0. Have fun!
1. Decide where you want your collection to have a specific theme.
2. Research on the Internet for reliable stores to buy from via duckie collectors.
3. Keep the box and tags of a brand-new duckie in a pristine state to retain its value.
4. Online auctions are good sources of old ducks.
5. Set up an appropriate display for your collection.

Are you a rubber duckie collector? If so, how many do you have in your collection. How about a link to some photos? If you've never thought of starting a rubber duckie collection, had this posted vetted your interest in these stalwart elastic beauties?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Interviewing Skills vs. Writing Skills

Excursions by Mark Morris Dancing Group by New York TimesThe other day I was listening to an interview of former Seattleite, well-known, modern dancer Mark Morris on National Public Radio (NPR). While Morris is an unparalleled dancer, choreographer, and teacher, he is also thoughtful and articulate on all aspects of dance and dancers.

Terry Gross of Fresh Air on NPRAdd to that Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air and her interviewing style, and the result was a witty, informative hour.

It also brought home to me the view Terry Gross espouses as an interviewer: The goal is not to show how much of the subject matter the interviewer has grasped, not how much she knows, but rather how much (in breadth and depth) can she get the interviewee to tell her and the listeners during the interview. Constant interruption and restatement, or very rigid questions, always limit the scope of the answer. Especially when you have a locquacious articulate guest, give him space to speak so long as he stays to the point and on topic.

This rumination led me to thinking that like the interviewer, the writer has the same job. It's not the writer's writing talent or grasp of the English language—King's English vs. grammar, which is the Queen's English, according to @mcvane—that the reader is there for, but to be drawn into the story with a ring-side seat as it is unfolding.

Salman RushdieBooker prize winning Midnight's Children remains one of Salman Rushdie's last best fiction work. He has pubished other fiction, but they're all hampered by his intellect and fantastic writing talent. He gets so caught up in the virtuosity, that the main thrust of story, character-building, etc. all fall by the wayside. As Pico Iyer says in Tropical Classical, "No writer I know has seemed more captive to his gifts: his powers of invention and imagination are so prodigal and so singular that he often gives the impression of not knowing when to stop."

Such unrestrained proclivity sounds the death knell for any novel. A story where the characters don't get to breathe and to live their lives in all their successes and foibles is a travesty of a story, for all you get for your money is the author showing off.

The focus of a novel should always be on the story and the people inhabiting the story. The language is in service to the story, an upstairs Regency maid if you will, who helps her lady to always put her best foot forward.

As a writer, if you're ever in doubt that you're showing up too much in a story, then always follow Robert Benchley's (1889–1945) fine example: "Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing."

Illuminated Manuscript Prizes

Illuminated Book Of Kells Folio 292r Circa 800 Gospel Of JohnAnnouncing the Lucky Four !!!

But first and foremost, thank you to JULIA QUINN for writing these marvelous stories that we all love to read and talk about for years to come, and for her generosity in gifting these great prizes.

Thank you also to everyone who visited. It sure has been good to be in the company of equally enthused fans of JQ these past two days.

Romance RadioYou can hear JQ talk about her book on Romance Radio, where she also discusses thoughts of killing folks, experience with voyeurism, and adoring lively gossip. She also dishes on her next book and her favorite authors.

I'm confident that those of you who haven't yet read JQ's WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON will do so lickety-split.

Without further ado, Ms. Random Selector has chosen the following two prize winners.

....drum roll...

A C True and Froggie

Ms. Random Selector has also chosen the following two runners-up.

....drum roll...

Zeee and Arianna Skye

Please send your snail mail details to keira (at) keirasoleore (dot) com, and I will get your fabulous prize packs in the mail!

{Illuminated Book Of Kells, Folio 292r, Gospel Of John, Circa 800}