Friday, August 15, 2008

What we did on our writer's holiday at RWA

by Kate Pearce.

For me, it was a simple drive through the tunnel, to the bay and into the city. Note-residents do not like it being called Frisco or San Fran, no idea why :) For some of the other Lusties, and ex-lusties it was a bloody long way. I remember when I first joined RWA looking at the list of conference venues and imagining when it would finally come to San Francisco, my home town. it seemed like light years away, but not only has it happened, but it's all over...

One major problem with 2000 women getting together is the noise level. It has a high-pitched kind of element to it that soon drives me insane. And all that estrogen floating around? Scary, I kid you not. The rare male who braves it, (yes there are a few male romance writers out there), who generally by the end of the week, end up looking either terrified or totally overwhelmed, and I can see why. The cleavage, the shoes, the outfits, God, it's fantastic, like high school meets Ms America.

To my eternal pride, I actually recognized the divine Madelynne Ellis when I met her at the pre-mini Beaumonde conference. She and I spent a happy day going to workshops on gunpowder, clothing, Regency knick-knacks, Regency food and tippling. Well, Madelynne tippled and I caked it, but it was fun either way.

When I met Portia, I could only be amazed about how little and delicate she was. Of course, all the Americans loved her and Madelynne with their 'quaint' accents. I loved them too, but at least I could just about understand them. I'm not sure what 10 years of living in California has done to my accent-maybe they couldn't understand me!

Please note the cleavage of Ms Madelynne Ellis in this picture. Cleavage was very 'in' or should I say 'out' at RWA this year. Mel, a friend of mine, runs an annual contest on her blog called "who's tits are these?", which has nothing to do with writing at all but is still good fun.

This is the obligatory picture of a cable car. I'm proud to say that despite living here for ten years, I've never been on one. But I've heard the ride is equally fascinating and terrifying. The hills really are unbelievably steep, so if you hang on the side, you get the near death experience of almost falling out. If you sit down, you get the air squeezed out of you when everyone leans on you. I can think of better ways to die...

I did ask Portia for her impressions of RWA and San Francisco and she said the worst thing has been the jet lag. I can understand that having suffered it a few times myself over the years. The best thing for her was meeting me-(well actually, what she said was meeting all the people she knew online, so I suppose that includes me. :)

Some fellow Knight Agency clients made up a basket for the Passionate Ink party, which is the erotic romance chapter of RWA. We called it "The Knight Agency box of Naughty Deliciousness" As I lived closest I ended up getting packages sent to my house containing riveting items such as 'cock soup' penis shaped lollipops, orgasmic mints and smutty books. I added some dark chocolate balls and various other edibles. The whole thing was topped off by two feather boas and a feathered black and silver mask from New Orleans.

Imagine my delight when Portia won the basket! And guess who got to take it all back home again ready to ship it to Portia?-yup, me.

I believe there were lots of workshops at the conference although I 'think' I only managed to go to about six...The rest of my time was spent 'networking'. I like that term, it covers such a wide range of activities doesn't it? I went to a lot of parties as well, 4 in one night, which included the awesome Passionate Ink party where they gave away mini-vibrators as party favors. Now that's classy and with wine at the hotel at $11 a glass, a gift full of endless amusement seemed far more satisfying and a lot cheaper than getting drunk.

My other publisher, Kensington also had a cocktail party that night and they even paid for the drinks which is probably why I'm smiling and flushed in this picture.

The other big party is the Harlequin one, which everyone seems to crash, except me this year, I was still knackered after the night before. Here is a lovely picture of Portia, Saskia Walker, Shelli and Karen, obviously having the time of their lives, without me.

And let's not forget the Lost Lusties...This is Dayle and Teresa at the Romance Divas dinner refusing to share the chocolate cake. You can see why they fitted in so well around here.

Erotic romance is still viewed with some suspicion by many members of RWA, but I think they are coming around. I sat next to an inspirational/mainstream romance writer at the literacy signing and she was extremely nice. She even introduced me to her rather shocked friends at one of the luncheons-I'm all for spreading the love...after all that's what San Francisco's all about, right?

Anyone who wants to add their experiences, or ask any questions about what else we got up to, please do!



Janine Ashbless said...

So let me get this right - you got up, got dressed and went to party all day and all night for a week?
Ye gods. The sacrifices writers make for their art..

Did Black Lace have any official presence this year?

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Kate!

It was a real pleasure to meet you at last at RWA! And I can't thank you enough for helping me out by shipping the lovely basket back home for me. It's going to be a huge treat and a sweet reminder of RWA when it arrives! :)

A lot of the conference is still a blur to me, but despite the horrific jet lag, my overwhelming impression of those days is totally positive and inspiring. I did love meeting everybody, and still feel totally gobsmacked that so many people seemed to know who I am!

I *did* ride the cable car, and it's pretty much exactly how you describe it, Kate... but it's wonderful! It's crazy and corny but I really loved it. :)

You went to 6 workshops? I only managed to get to 2! LOL

I agree that people seem to be coming around to the idea of erotic romance. I certainly didn't experience any negative reaction to our genre while I was there.

Thanks for a lovely summary of RWA. You've captured the essence of the event beautifully! There's only one thing that's got me scratching my head...

'Tiny and delicate'???

Obviously, my grand strategy of always wearing loose fitting black clothing to hide all the wobbly bits worked to perfection! LOL

Portia Da Costa said...

Nope, no 'official' BL presence, Janine.

Just us unofficial ones...

magdalune said...

I am honestly baffled at the statement that, at least in the past, romance was leery and even possibly antagonistic against erotic romance. I mean, I can understand the homophobia that goes on because people are bigots (and it's utterly deplorable), but against erotic romance? Have I been reading the wrong romance novels? Because the only difference that I've noticed between erotic romance and regular romance (at least regular romance aimed for an adult rather than teen market) is that the words used to describe the same detailed and explicit acts are a little softer. And there's a bit more of it in erotic romance.

So what's up with that? Care to enlighten a newbie?

Deanna Ashford said...

Thanks for the report, Kate. I'm so pleased you all had a great time and I wish I'd been there.

I've also ridden the cable cars but my tall broad-shouldered OH stopped me falling off or being squashed - that sounds more romantic than it was, unfortunately.

Better start saving for Washington!

Madelynne Ellis said...

I was very impressed that you recognised me, Kate, but more impressed with myself for recognising you.

I think I managed 6 workshops, no idea how many parties. I stopped counting. I know I did a lot of going up and down in elevators!

Madelynne Ellis said...

Oh, and Portia, you are tiny and delicate.

Madame Butterfly said...

And all that estrogen floating around? Scary, I kid you not.

This statement is exactly why I'd be terrified to go to one of these things. *shudders* LOL

I've never been good in a room where the ratio of men to women has been less than 96%(m) to 4%(f).

But sounds like you all had a really good time.

How fun that Portia won a naughty goody basket!

And can I say? Portia and Madelynne are so cute in that picture.

Madeline Moore said...

This sounds like a lot more fun than a Writer's GUild get together. I'd love to attend, and perhaps some day I will. It's not likely to come to Canada though (that pesky 'A' at the end of RWA) so I'd have to be the jet lagged person. Love all the cleavage, especially considering the attendance was mostly female (hmmm) and congrats Portia!

Kate Pearce said...

No Janine, no official BL presence this year, which disappointed a lot of romance writers who love dear Adam-although the books did turn up for the literacy signing which made us all happy!

And yes, that's pretty much what we did-tough, but someone has to do it.

Kate Pearce said...

Portia, it was lovely to meet you to. It certainly is a hectic conference but also so much fun to be with people who understand you. I usually loose my voice by Sunday because I talk more in those 5 days than I do in the rest of the year!

Kate Pearce said...

"the only difference that I've noticed between erotic romance and regular romance (at least regular romance aimed for an adult rather than teen market) is that the words used to describe the same detailed and explicit acts are a little softer. And there's a bit more of it in erotic romance."

And there you have it :) Some people are scared of sex in all its glorious filthy detail. Some writers feel pressured to write hotter and resent those of us who've opened the bedroom door, so to speak.
And some of us are pushing a lot of sexual boundaries and the accepted idea of what a romance novel should be. That can be difficult for some people to stomach as well.

Kate Pearce said...

Madame B, I grew up with 5 sisters and no brothers so it doesn't bother me too much, although another few days and I think we would all have synchronized our periods and the build up of PMS would've been devastating :)

Kate Pearce said...

Yay, Madeline-come! We have loads of Canadians at the conference and they are all great fun :)

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

I'd like to point out that at a table for about 20 people, that was the third giant piece of chocolate cake to be plopped down, and the only space available was right in front of me. There were also three slices of cheesecake the same size as the chocolate hunks. Everybody got enough dessert, really!

I was so thrilled to finally meet Portia and Madelynne face-to-face, and to hang out with Kate again, and I'm sorry I didn't get to spend more time with Saskia, and wish all the Lusties could have been there!

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

"And all that estrogen floating around? Scary, I kid you not."

This statement is exactly why I'd be terrified to go to one of these things. *shudders* LOL

One of the things that I love about Nationals is that everyone is just so friendly--smiles as you walk past, chats in the elevator. We're all there for the same goal and everyone is incredibly supportive. Plus it's just so much fun!

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Madeline, ditto to what Kate said! I can't remember where in Canada you are, but next year's RWA is in Washington, DC. The "A" may stand for America, but the national conference gets folks from all over--this year, every time I turned around I ran into someone else from Australia!

Kate Pearce said...

Dayle, thanks for the links!! I went to the optician yesterday and had a whole load of eye tests done, which they promptly misfiled on the computer under God knows who's name, so I had to do them all again. Last night I had a horrible headache and posting became...interesting-less was definitely more :)

And yes, there were Australians EVERYWHERE!

magdalune said...

And there you have it :) Some people are scared of sex in all its glorious filthy detail. Some writers feel pressured to write hotter and resent those of us who've opened the bedroom door, so to speak.
And some of us are pushing a lot of sexual boundaries and the accepted idea of what a romance novel should be. That can be difficult for some people to stomach as well.

Well, that's just... weird to me. It's not like psychological horror or even standard horror fare is threatened by the existence of torture porn. It's strange to think that a break-off of a larger genre in any way threatens the original entity. In my opinion, that should just open the doors to more readers, and it panders to a different audience. Or the same audience who may be in the mood for something a little more hardcore one day and more softcore the next.

Madeline Moore said...

I suppose Romance writers could feel that erotica writers at 'their' conference are stepping on their toes...but I agree with magdalune, erotica or even erotic romance really isn't going to steal romance readers away. Romance novels are much different from erotica, and while one woman might enjoy a bit of romance one day and some erotica the next, I imagine the bulk of readers of each genre are probably pretty loyal.

I'm reading 'Possession' right now, which is called a romance. Beats hell out of 'The Tall Dark Stranger Who Taught Me What Love Is' etc.

Am I being snarky. I better be careful. But honestly, I've yet to figure out a romance plot that would last the required word count.
Without those descriptive sex acts, I don't know what my characters would do for all those pages.

The last time I tried to read a real romance novel, a genre novel, the man and the woman 'misunderstood' a kiss they'd shared and each other's reaction to it and it actually depressed me. I just couldn't face reading all those pages where they are in love with each other but hiding it from each other because they're sure each other isn't interested. I sort of hate that stuff.

Lucky for me we have BL.

Kate Pearce said...

Romance has changed considerably in the last few years and is still changing. Some people like the old rules, boy meets girl, falls in love and gets married. And there's nothing wrong with that-look at Harlequin.

Others like the girl meets boy who also has a boyfriend and maybe a couple of buddies and they all work it out somehow and live happily ever after. That's where some of it is going.

The thing I love about romance is that evolution. I can go into a bookstore and pick up a romance novel about almost anything these days.

Of course it takes time for new ideas to be absorbed and other parts of the market have suffered because of the popularity of certain sub-genres like erotic romance. Editors ask their authors to write hotter and some people just aren't comfortable with that.

We'll get there. My books are dangerously close to the edge in romance terms and I'm proud of that. And no doubt, in a few years, I'll be considered average. That's progress, right?

Portia Da Costa said...

Have to agree with Kate. Romance is a hugely broad church that's still growing and evolving and there's a vast range of sub genres and levels of erotic heat.

I love the combination of romance and eroticism. I think it's my natural home as a writer. But I have written some slightly sweeter stuff in the past, and I enjoyed that too.

NB I wrote as 'Megan Paul', if anyone's interested. :)

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Chiming in late (as usual) to say it was wonderful to meet Portia and Madelynne and great to see Kate again. And Dayle, but I think that goes without saying!

I was worried about the amount of cleavage I was showing until I saw some of the other outfits, and then I realized that boobies are the new black, or something.

Personally, I like all that estrogen. I grew up in an all-female household and always worked in female-dominated industries, and overall I get along equally well with women and men (NO, not just that way...although I think all the Lusties know by now I do get along with both "that way"), so it feels natural to me.