Hello cyber-lovlies! Vivienne Lynge here, wishing you a happy Saturday. So it’s that time of the week where I sit down to write my blog post and today, I have to tell you, I’m torn. Being dragged, is more like it. I’m on page 225 of Dangerous Curves Ahead by our very own Sugar Jameson and frankly, I kinda resent the intrusion blogging is making into my fantasy world of Mike and Ellis.
Seriously. Dangerous Curves Ahead will be available in a couple of weeks. If you like romance, you need to order yourself a copy of this book. Or get it at B&N when it comes out. It’s wonderful. And I’m honestly not saying that because I know the delightful Sugar personally. Contemporary romance really isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m LOVING this story and quite sad that I have to be responsible from now until about 10:00 tonight. But on the other hand, I am looking forward to snuggling down into my cushy bed and finishing the last 150 pages then!
But I digress from the topic I had planned to write about. Keynote Speakers. Normally, I’m not really keen on them. I kinda let my mind wander, doodle, or jot down plot ideas whenever I’m in a situation where a keynote speaker is yapping away on some stage. Ahem. That was NOT the case at RWA Nationals 2013.
The official Keynote Speaker was Cathy Maxwell. I know I’ve read some of her books, but she isn’t a household name to me. Well, she wasn’t. Ms. Maxwell spoke about how a family acquaintance decided to follow his dream after a divorce in his late 20’s/early 30’s, but died young, just as he was headiing toward the top of his new field. He was an artist and had never signed any of his work because he felt that he wasn’t good enough yet. Of course, he had expected to have plenty of time left to perfect it.
Her message to the 2,000+ writers in the room was that we are good enough. We should be proud to be writers, no matter where we are on our journey to publication, and that we should be proud to be a part of the often-maligned genre that financially supports the whole damn publishing industry. She was a powerful speaker, with a powerful message that was touchingly told. I admit, I grew a bit misty. She was amazing and I didn’t have a second to daydream.
The next day at the Awards Lunch, there was a speaker, too. None other that CT’s very own Kristan Higgins. Now I’ve read some of Higgins’ books and I’ve spent a number of hours in her company, so I know her a little. I know she’s funny and awesome. And while I didn’t expect much daydreaming time during her speech, nor I didn’t expect to cry which is why I wasn’t at all cautious with the vinegrette or scrumptious chocolate mousse when using my napkin. BIG MISTAKE!
Sure there were some funny pictures of her glammed up and in grungy writer-mode on the big screen, as well as a wet, shirtless Joe Manganiello. And of course, she thanked her husband for years of great sex, and she read some funny snippets from fan letters.
But then, the last two snippets weren’t funny so much as they were something else. One woman wrote that she was approaching senior citizenship and had never been in love, but that reading Kristan’s books let her glimpse that experience enough that she didn’t feel so left out. Another woman wrote that Kristan’s brand of hero was strong enough to let her know that her boyfriend beating her wasn’t okay, no matter how sorry he claimed to be afterward. She said that Kristan’s book gave her the strength to end that abusive relationship and look for something better.
That’s when Kristan’s speech took a turn that few people expected. She talked about very personal, dark experiences in her life ~ times when she turned to romance novels to get her through. Jude Deveraux’s stories kept her going when the middle school bullies made every day a misery. Nora Robert’s books were company during the long, dark wait in the hospital after her father’s tragic car accident and Julie Garwood helped after a devastating miscarriage.
I think every woman in that room (and the handful of men too) has experienced those kinds of moments. Moments of grief when the only thing that will help is to escape into a world where you know there will be a happy ending, and that you will see it in just a handful of hours, rather than the months and years that stretch out between you and your own happy ending. If you can even see that far into the future at that point. Tears poured down my face while I frantically searched my luxurious white cloth napkin for a mousse-free spot to blot. FYI – vinaigrette stings when rubbed into your eyes.
I didn’t expect Kristan’s message to as powerful as Cathy’s had been and I was wrong. Dead wrong. Kristan’s message to us was that not only should we be proud to write romance as Cathy had said, but that we have an obligation to do it well. The women of the world need us to see them through their dark times and let’s be realistic, the world is often a very dark place. If we choose to pursue this career, we damn well better apply our talent, hone our craft, learn about the business, and produce the high-quality fantasies people, women, need.
Today’s secret: Romance really isn’t the red-headed stepchild of the publishing world. These trashy novels are actually very important to a lot of people, in a lot of ways. That really shouldn’t be a secret.
So – time to spill. What’s your all time favorite, post-publication-of-the-Flame-&-the-Flower-by-Ms-Woodiwiss-back-in-’72, trashy romance novel? I’ve got a lot of faves, but how about these: Velvet Angel by Deveraux, For the Roses by Garwood, A Heart so Wild by Lindsay. To name a few.