Monthly Archives: June 2013

RomCon 2013

Barbara Vey -- June 26th, 2013

romcon

This was my second year attending RomCon, a reader’s convention, held in Colorado Springs.  While I gushed about last year’s amazingly authentic Titanic Tea, this year the planning committee outdid themselves.  One of the few truly reader events, RomCon manages to have something for everyone.

A full meal plan was offered with guest speakers.  Heather Graham kicked off the event’s breakfast with her career stories (of which she has a million), but I really love when she talks about her time as a dinner theater performer.  She likened that part of her career to the movie Soapdish where Kevin Kline worked dinner theaters and the audience consisted of senior citizens.

 

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Intimate Chat with Bob Mayer

Intimate Chat with Bob Mayer

One of the special things offered is a chance for an intimate chat with authors.  Limited tickets are available, but you have the opportunity to be up close and personal with authors.  There were many I wanted to attend, but so many other things were happening that I tried to get to them all.

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First Kiss panel

First Kiss panel

First Kisses had authors reading scenes from their books and the audience guessing the book.  Mimosa Madness offered Mimosas and muffins along with a game.  You got a paper with squares that had clues about authors.  Readers wandered around the room asking authors to sign on their squares.  Once filled out, you were entered in a drawing for books and an e-reader for the grand prize.  I had a great time because some of the readers thought I was one of the authors, so I signed their papers under the squares that said, “Loves banana splits” and “Favorite movie is Casablanca.”

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Author Paty Jager sponsored lunch in the beautiful garden atrium.  While we ate, we were given papers that featured book covers and were set up like bingo cards.  Candy Smarties were supposed to be used as daubers, but people started eating them, so we just ended up circling the books called.  There were a ton of prizes for the regular bingo and the full card got the grand prize.

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Speed dating with authors

Speed dating with authors

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Readers lined up for the Speed Dating with an Author.  Each reader got 2 minutes to talk to an author and then would move on to the chair to their right and start over.  This was divided into two sessions because of the number of authors.  Readers told me it was one of their favorite parts because some were too shy to otherwise go up to an author and talk to them.  This was the perfect opportunity.

.High Noon at the Cowboy Corral was a western author mixer and the romantic suspense authors offered a Super Sleuth game based on Clue.  Readers had to guess which author Dun-it.  Romance fans attended the Swoonworthy cocktail party and walked away with great swag bags.

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Reader Carol Ricker brought a bag that she has signed by every author

Reader Carol Ricker brought a bag that she has signed by every author

The highlight Friday night was a performance by a comedy improv group.  If you’ve never seen one, put it on your bucket list.  My cheeks still hurt from laughing so much.  It’s all based on suggestions from the audience with activities like skiing, food like avocados, careers like actuaries and nurses.  That’s normal, but this audience had other things on their minds.  Activities like menages and other things you may do on your own.  The improv group got into the spirit and offered great entertainment, while trying to keep to their G-rated image.  Sometimes it even worked, but I hope they offer this next year.

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The evening ended with a Very Virginal Bachelorette Party.  Anyone who has ever been to a bachelorette party knows the kind of games played.  Let me just say that there was one messy one that involved a bowl of whipped cream, a cherry and handcuffs.  I just watched and enjoyed, but I did see Bob Mayer walking around looking kind of dazed.  I asked him if he planned on playing any of the games, but he said he’d pass.  He did say that if men did something like this, it would be looked at differently, but then admitted that men did this all the time by going to strip clubs.  Enough said.

Historical Dice Game

Historical Dice Game

Mad Hatter Tea Party

      Mad Hatter Tea Party

 

 

 

 

A Field Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse had readers working with authors in group to come up with the best way to survive an apocalypse.  It seemed to me that many people have been thinking about this a lot.  Historical Hijinks offered a view of authentic period games and behind the scene info that readers could participate in.  The Naughty Girls Pajama Party lured readers in with chocolate, coffee drinks and naughty games of fun.  Readers were also encouraged to come in their PJs.

Shannon Albright and Donnell Ann Bell at Mimosa Party

Shannon Albright and Donnell Ann Bell at Mimosa Party

Melissa Mayhue was the keynote speaker for lunch on Saturday.  I loved when she admitted that her writing goal was to see her book in a grocery store.  The Mad Hatter Tea Party did indeed feature lots of crazy hats.  I participated in the Slayers Incorporated game.  We were in groups of 10 and given cards that told us if we were a slayer, human, monster, doctor, etc.  Monsters killed someone, slayers could save someone and then everyone had to guess who the monsters were.  Sadly, I was killed more than once, but you can’t imagine how much fun this game was.  Different authors came by for each game with their own characters as the monsters and slayers.  There was even a chance to learn about BDSM 101 in a “light-hearted and fun atmosphere.”  I just stuck my head in for a peak, but there was lots of laughter and several objects I’m going to have to look up online.

Authors of Wild Rose Press

Authors of Wild Rose Press

Wild Rose Press sponsored Casino Night and Dinner.  Their authors walked the dining room helping readers answer questions about the authors that were passed out.  Lots of giveaways for turning in your sheet.  Casino night featured all the games you’d find at a casino with lessons for all.  There was a DJ and I saw the craps table had everyone dancing to the tunes.  Every table was full and play money used.  I got roped into a poker table and while I’ve seen it played on tv, this was the first time I played it live.  It was a riot because most of us didn’t have a clue as to the rules.  Thank goodness our dealer was so patient.

The evening ended with a Karaoke Challenge.  Everyone who had guts enough to go on stage and sing won something.

Sunday’s brunch was the final event with Sylvia Day as the keynote.  She asked the group how many were first timers and more than half raised their hands.  When she asked how many would return, it was 100%.  I think that kind of says it all about how well the event was received.

Bottom Line:  I already have my calendar marked for next year.

WW Ladies Book Club

Barbara Vey -- June 19th, 2013

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Last night my son, Andrew, took me to see a preview of World War Z.  Even though we got there an hour early, it turns out that many more tickets were given out than there were seats, so we didn’t get in.  I was disappointed, but we went to see Man of Steel instead.  The movie was good, but I probably wouldn’t see it again.  The actors were terrific and I loved Henry Cavill, Amy Adam and Russell Crowe, but it was a little dark for me.  I missed the humor that Marvel sticks in their movies which is probably why I’ve seen The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America numerous times.  Andrew saw Man of Steel twice and enjoyed it.  He said they have to explain a lot in the first of a series, so I should give it time.  I’ll most likely see the next one just because I love to see movies with Andrew.  Now, on to the WW Blurbs!

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joysann

joysann

Mountain Echoes by C E Murphy

Read by joysann

Joanne Walker returns to the Appalachian mountains she left as a teen when she gets word that her father has disappeared. She finds that more than disappearing, magic has taken him to another place in time, corrupting the timeline. Finding strength in old friends and her new lover, Joanne uses her shamanic powers derived from both her Cherokee and Irish heritages to stop a powerful evil from invading the world.

Mountain Echoes is the 8th book in The Walker Papers, and a little blurb like this doesn’t do the book or the series justice. This is one of my favorite series, and I think jumping into it without the urban fantasy’s foundation won’t give you the thrills and excitement I find in it. I’ve loved watching Joanne develop her shamanic powers and trusting relationships, and suggest getting hooked through the first book, Urban Shaman.

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Olivia

Olivia

Rush by Eve Silverrush

Read by Olivia, 13

60 seconds. That’s how much longer I had a normal life until I started getting dizzy and sick. “Don’t move.” That voice I’ve heard before. Struggling to open my eyes, I see a boy in sunglasses. He says his name is Jackson and he is our team leader. Cute. Wait, what? A team. What am I doing? I am Normal. Not anymore. You were never normal. It’s time to play. The game is based on life or death. Kill Drau. They are not our kind and they want to take over the world.  Don’t let your health con go to red or else you go back the way you came. Welcome to the game Miki.

Holy cow. The title tells all. By far one of the most adventures novels I’ve read yet. With the mystery in Jackson, Miki and Jackson the book was so different from the normal books I read. I highly recommend it if you like sci-fi, romance and if you like a rush of mind blowing excitement, this book is for you. Thanks Eve Silver for the book.

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Joan

Joan

Baby Don’t Go by Susan Andersen

Read by Joan

Daisy Parker is a security specialist with her own agency and is good at her job. When her two o’clock appointment shows up she is not prepared to see the Nick Coltrane, whose wealthy and socialite father had been married to her mother for a short time. The last time she saw Nick was at his sister’s wedding where he left her in a hotel room like a one night stand even though he said he loved her. Now a professional photographer that inadvertently captured some scandalous photos, Nick needs someone to be his bodyguard to protect him from a dangerous someone intent on recovering them, and Nick wants Daisy. However, neither are prepared for having to spend every hour with each other until this mess he is in gets straightened out.

Baby Don’t Go was very enjoyable as it was light and entertaining. There are several very interesting characters at Daisy’s agency that help to protect her and Nick. This book was published in 1999, but is timeless.

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Heidi

Heidi

The Nurse He Shouldn’t Notice by Susan CarlisleThe-Nurse-200

Read by Heidi

As the plane lands in West Africa, Maggie Everett knows that the doctor who has come to help is only temporary, and doesn’t have the lifelong commitment to the people like she does. Dr. Court Armstrong steps off the plane, knowing he’s running away from him past, but he is committed to bring the health care assistance that the people of Ghana need. When Court and Maggie meet, the sparks fly and not just because an emergency arises. Court wants to keep a distance from Maggie, but with the tight quarters and working side by side to help the patients, it seems Court’s wish will become impossible.

The passion that Maggie has for the career she has chosen, in a land that is tough and challenging, screams from the pages of this book. I really thought that the sparks between the main characters matched the passion that they have for their jobs. That made the book not only fun to read, but made my imagination work harder to “see” the story!! I love when that happens!!

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joysann

joysann

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Listened to by joysann

Set in 1980′s Omaha, a couple of high school misfits slowly become friends, which even more slowly becomes something more. Eleanor is a tough-seeming grunge-dressing sullen girl new in school, facing hostility for no reason other than that she’s different than the kids who’ve been there forever. It takes a more confident Park, who knows what being different feels like, to help Eleanor become more acceptable, even to herself.

Listening to this YA book was just wonderful, probably making the story even more moving than it already is. Read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra, the characters come to life very vividly, and one quickly comes to care for them. It’s very touching story, beautifully written, and easy to lose you heart to.

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Ashley

Ashley

Lessons From a Scandalous Bride by Sophie JordanMedLessonsFromAScandalousBride

Read by Ashley

Miss Cleopatra Hadley went from rags to riches in an instant when she learns the identity of her father. So now she needs a convenient marriage with no complications, especially not love! But then he walks in and her world shifts. He, is Lord Logan McKinney an impoverished Scots nobleman, who tempts her like no man ever has.

Lessons from a Scandalous Bride, lives up to its title! It’s very scandalous, sensual, exciting , and fiercely passionate! This book is everything I love in romance novels.

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Bottom Line:  Sometimes it’s not what the movie is about, but who you see it with.

Street Teams

Barbara Vey -- June 17th, 2013

Logo for Dianna Love Street Team

Years before I started with PW and lived in my world of books, I would always email the author (if they had contact information on their website) and thank them for writing their book.  My feeling was, if they could take the time to write a book that brought me some pleasure, the least I could do was thank them for their effort.  To me, a good book is like a gift.  Some wrote me back and I really treasured those emails and a couple of times they must have forwarded my emails to their publishers because I was asked to help spread the word if an author was coming to town, to preread a book and talk to my friends about it or put out bookmarks at my library or bookstores.  I felt honored to give back in some way.

Without knowing it, I was part of a street team although I didn’t know any of the other members.  Thanks to social media, Street Teams now have their own Facebook pages, they’ve garnered friendships, real life meet ups and increased awareness of the authors who work with the members.

When Eloisa James came to Milwaukee to participate in my Reader Luncheon, she took the opportunity to meet up with some of her street team.  According to Eloisa, “A street team is a group of readers who like your work (and you) enough that they involve themselves in support of your career and actual books.  These days, with the shrinking number of book stores, it’s hard to discover new authors. So a street team who promises to go out and talk about your books, sharing their enthusiasm, can be invaluable.  Street teams are generally paid back with promotional materials and a higher level of access to the author (who is, of course, deeply grateful for the help)!  They can be organized by a publisher, such as the Avon Addicts, or by an author.”

I asked Dianna Love why she thinks Street Teams are important.  “Of all the things that have changed in the publishing industry in recent years, one thing never will – the best way to get word out about a book is by readers sharing with other readers.  I know because I’ve always been a voraciou reader who got new authors from friends and shared the books I liked.  I’ve always believed in building my career one reader at a time and that is still true today, so my Dianna Love Street Team (on Facebook) is an expansion of that philosophy. There is NOTHING more important than readers.”

Tonya Kappes thinks Street Teams help authors, “I’m lucky that my team does want to spread the word about my novels. I think they are more apt to do that because they have gotten to know me personally and truly want to help me. My street team not only spreads the words of my novels, releases BUT they keep me going with all of their encouragement. I visit my street team several times a day to check in with them. ”

Tracey Devlyn, who shares a Street Team with authors Adrienne Giordano, Kelsey Browning, Nancy Naigle, Tracy March says that members get a lot out of joining up with authors.  “Members have direct access to the author. Many authors have taken to setting up an exclusive Facebook group page or website page. There, the author shares tidbits of her writing, personal life, deleted scenes, excerpts of an upcoming release, etc. Likewise, members share what they’re reading, what they did over the weekend, and what goofy thing their husband or kid said. Street teams are communities with a common love. Communities that quickly become fast friends.  For every mission completed, members receive points. At certain key point levels, members win awesome rewards from the author. The rewards are a way for the author to express her appreciation for the member’s hard work and passion on her behalf.”

Dianna Love adds “In addition to weekly interactions that I love and inviting author friends to come by for a chat, I’ll be holding monthly drawings for gifts (signed books by me and other author friends, gift cards, monogrammed back packs, Keeper Kases, get their name in a book, Tshirts, Ereaders…) JUST for the Street Team.  In fact, I’m having a Tshirt designed for my Street Team. I’ll offer drawings for them to be a character in a book, too. They’ll be the first ones to get any news and to be invited to special events.  I have plans for meeting with my Street Team members in person during the year as I travel.  Most important is that I want them to know they are appreciated all year long, not just when I have a book out.”

You can join the Street Teams here:

Eloisa James (This is a closed group, read directions on how to get approved)

Dianna Love  (Just started last week)

Tonya Kappes

Tracey Devlyn  (Dangerous Darlings with Adrienne Giordano, Kelsey Browning, Nancy Naigle, Tracy March)

Do you belong to a Street Team now?  How has your experience been?  Are you an author who has a Street Team, if so, how’s it going?  Feel free to add your names and links.

Bottom Line:  Sounds like a fun way to support your favorite authors and get the inside scoop at the same time.

Going to the ALA for the First Time: Need Advice

Barbara Vey -- June 14th, 2013

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I just found out that I’ll be attending my first American Library Association Conference in Chicago on June 27-July 2.  You all know what a huge supporter of the libraries I am and always wanted to be a librarian when I grew up.  I didn’t make it, but I try to do the next best thing by helping out when I can by doing things for local libraries.

I know there will be guest speakers there that I’m interested to see like Alice Walker, Octavia Spencer, Giada De Laurentis and Temple Grandin.  But I get most excited when I actually talk to librarians.  They are the ones who are in the trenches and know what readers are asking for and they have the power of suggesting great reads.  I also want to find out all I can about the various book clubs they host.

So, my question for you today is, have you ever attended ALA?  What shouldn’t I miss?  What was your favorite part?  If you’ve never gone, what would you want to do/see at ALA?  What would you like to hear most about it?

Bottom Line:  I think librarians are superheros who have sent me on many an adventure in my life.

Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville

Barbara Vey -- June 12th, 2013
Dianna Love, Kate Meador, Kristan Daniels, Valerie Bowman, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn

Dianna Love, Kate Meader, Kristan Daniels, Valerie Bowman, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn

I traveled down to Naperville, IL yesterday to attend the Lady Jane’s Salon romance readings.  Lady Jane’s was started in New York, but now has salons in various states.  This is a terrific opportunity for readers to get the chance to hear authors read a portion of their books.

Lady Jane’s Salon is run by authors Tracey Devlyn and Adrienne Giordano and held at La Chocolat du Bouchard in the upper loft.  While no liquor is served, there’s plenty of coffee drinks and chocolate.  Perfect for listening to a romance read.  Tuesday night’s event was sold out.  While you don’t purchase a ticket, admission is one gently used romance novel or $5.00 to benefit Celebrate Differences a local not-for-profit organization committed to supporting individuals and children with disabilities.

There was a great mix of authors with  Kate Meader, Kristin Daniels, Adrienne Giordano, Valerie Bowman, and Dianna Love.  Kate (a debut author) read from Feel the Heat about a hot chef, Kristin’s book was My Tye, an erotic suspense, Adrienne read from Opposing Forces, a romantic suspense, Valerie’s book, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, is what she calls, “A racy, Regency romp.” and Dianna Love read from her Slye Temp series, Nowhere Safe, suspense.

Readers enjoying Lady Jane's

Readers enjoying Lady Jane’s

After the readings I did a chat with Dianna Love and readers from the audience had a chance to ask questions.  Since Dianna collaborates with 3 different authors on varies series, the one question that’s always asked is how they manage to write the book together.  Dianna explained that the process is different with each author.  One likes to have them both write and then send their sections to each other to add or subtract things, another prefers to do plotting then write sections before switching and making changes, while the other author likes to have verbal conversations while writing the books.  “You just have to find the right balance and compromise,” says Dianna.

With the room filled to capacity, there were a lot of giveaways and a booksigning.  Readers left with arms filled with books and great memories asking when the next event would be and promising to return.

Bottom Line:  I’m reading to plan a Readers Road Trip in August to come to the next one…let me know if you want to come.

9th Annual Reader & Author Get Together

Barbara Vey -- June 11th, 2013
joysann

joysann

Lori Foster with a quilt displaying her book covers

Lori Foster with a quilt displaying her book covers (photo by Kathy Andrico)

joysann here, reporting on RAGT 2013. When best-selling author Lori Foster announced that the Reader & Author Get-Together registration website would open on March 4th, no one imagined that 3 or 4 days later they’d be announcing there were literally only a few spots left available. That’s about 500 people. By the 14th of March, Lori announced that registration was filled, and the hotel had maxed out. This shows the popularity of this wonderful annual event. Lori Foster, Duffy Brown, and Linda Keller have been hosting this casual, fun filled weekend these 9 years, and the $50 Reader Registration Fee is incomparable. A function staffed by volunteers, they’ve put on an irresistible event every time. Just north of Cincinnati, it easy for attendees to access from all directions.

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Kim Jacobs of Turquoise Morning Press

Kim Jacobs of Turquoise Morning Press

Things were done a little differently this year with programming geared more toward entertaining Readers and giving them the opportunity to meet with the people who write for them their favorite books. Different publishers and authors hosted gatherings, interviews and parties in various meeting rooms, providing treats, games and lots and lots of prizes. It was a winning situation for everyone. For the rest of it, there were buffet meals and music and dancing and many, many giveaways and prizes.

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Because in recent years so many attendees have arrived on Thursday night ahead of the event, the authors of this year’s anthology benefiting animal rescue hosted a “Meet and Greet” with fun and food for everyone. Animal Attraction is written by Lori Foster, Jules Bennett, Heidi Betts and Maisy Yates, with all the proceeds going to the Animal Adoption Foundation of Hamilton, OH, a charitable organization.

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Author Darynda Jones and joysann

Author Darynda Jones and joysann

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There were two book signings, one on Friday night for independent authors, and one on Saturday for those that are traditionally published. It was interesting to see that many authors showed up in both places, available to meet their readers.

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Aspiring author Natasha Mitchell

Aspiring author Natasha Mitchell

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I got to meet with so many wonderful people, both readers, and authors, and aspiring authors, several of whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting before. One young aspiring author I met is 13 year old Natasha Mitchell, who seemed very enthusiastic with everything going on. She’s working on a YA Sci-Fi Romance with interesting aspects. Go, Girl, and much success!

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Authors Nancy Naigle, Duffy Brown, and Tonya Kappes

Authors Nancy Naigle, Duffy Brown, and Tonya Kappes

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On Sunday morning I got to do a fun thing, and that was join authors Duffy Brown, Nancy Naigle and Tonya Kappes for Tea with Three, held at Duffy’s home. Quiche and pastries and coffee and, of course, tea were served in a lovely garden on a beautiful morning. It was a charming ending to a very busy weekend.

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Outside of all the wonderful people one meets at these RAGT weekends, the biggest entertainment is the huge charity raffle at which everyone keeps hoping “Pick Me! Pick Me!” About 250 raffle baskets were donated by authors, publishers, publicists, reviewers, the Marriott Hotel, and some enthusiastic readers. The baskets and bags were gorgeous, and attendees happily opened their hearts and their wallets to buy raffle tickets. ALL proceeds from the raffle go to One Way Farm Children’s Home. And the final count on raffle tickets sold: an amazing $13,000.

Another $1400 was raised just by simple donations from generous people to an effort to Support Our Troops.

Bottom Line: I’m thinking Romance Readers and Authors have big hearts

Ann Aguirre Speaks Out on Sexism in Science Fiction

Barbara Vey -- June 7th, 2013
Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre

USA Today Bestselling Author Ann Aguirre writes science fiction, urban fantasy, YA and romance.  The readers and writers I know wouldn’t think anything of that statement and Ann’s faithful readers are thrilled with it.  But there seems to be a dark side lurking in the sci-fi community that apparently thinks of female authors who write the genre as somewhat sub par.

A couple days ago, Ann Aguirre wrote a stirring blog exposing the ugly beast that resides in the science fiction field.  According to Ann’s blog:

I’ve held my silence when I probably shouldn’t have. But I was in the minority, a woman writing SF, and I was afraid of career backlash. I was afraid of being excluded or losing opportunities if I didn’t play nice.

I don’t care about that anymore. If this means I don’t get into anthos or invited to parties, I don’t give a f**k. I care more about doing the right thing, about speaking out, so maybe other women who have had these experiences will do the same. If enough of us gather the courage to say, “Hey, look, this is NOT ALL RIGHT,” maybe the world will change. And if not, well, at least I stood up. I spoke. I didn’t sit quiet as a victim of sexism and let it happen.

She goes on to tell of her experiences at conferences.

grimspaceIn 2007, I sold my first book, Grimspace. It says it’s SF on the spine. I believe it to be SF, though it’s certainly written differently. I write in first person, present tense, and the protagonist is a woman with a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and sexual desires. But the book(s) take place in a rich, well-built science fiction world. There’s FTL travel and lots of planets to explore and aliens. Sounds like SF, right? Apparently not. And that’s the dismissive, occasionally scornful attitude I’ve received since 2008 when I made my first appearance as a professional in the SFF fandom.

At that con, I watched a respected male SF author get sloppy drunk and make women uncomfortable, fans and writers alike. I was one of them. I watched a respected SF writer break an elderly female fan’s heart by refusing to spend a minute talking with her. He was everything brusque, self-important, and rude. I consoled her afterward. I had a respected SF writer call me “girlie” and demand that I get him a coffee, before the panel we were on TOGETHER. When he realized I was not, in fact, his coffee girl, he didn’t apologize. And once we got into the panel, he refused to let me (or anyone else) speak. He interrupted me. He talked over me. He responded to questions that the audience asked me, when they asked me, by name, and he wouldn’t respond to the moderator, who was also female.

The panel was supposed to be about pseudonyms but he made it about how sad it was that the glory days were over. Point in fact, his wife participated more in the panel, by shouting out suggestions on what old stories he should tell next. If the panel had been called, “WHAT SF WAS LIKE IN 1969″, that would’ve been fine, I suppose, and I wouldn’t have been sitting there, feeling embarrassed, powerless, and ashamed, as I wasn’t born at that time.

I went home from that con feeling very sad and ashamed, because my colleagues had treated me like nothing, even though my book, Grimspace, sold out. There were over fifty copies in stock at BAMM, and I signed every last one of them. In fact, by the time my “formal” signing came along–with Sherrilyn Kenyon–they had none of my books left on the shelf. That was pretty cool. But despite good sales, I still felt bad.

Maybe it was a fluke, I thought. So I was excited when I found out I had been put on a SF panel at Comic-Con. I went, full of excitement and anticipation. But once I got there, I found more of the same. The moderator checked the pronunciation of the names of all male guests. (They were all male except me.) She did not ask me–and she got it wrong. Then in introducing me? She called me “the token female”. None of the male panelists objected; they were fine with it, apparently, and I was too new and scared to stand up for myself in a room full of men who were ex-military, who were actual rocket scientists, or worked for NASA. I wish I had. But I let them diminish me. I let it happen. I had a broken mic during the panel and nobody bothered to replace or fix it. The writer sharing his with me frequently took it away from me, or wouldn’t hand it over when I wished to speak. The male guests were dismissive and scornful of my work and my comments. I have seldom been so belittled or ashamed. By my peers. Why? My only difference is that I’m a woman and I’m writing SF the way I enjoy it. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, I thought. Maybe the audience didn’t notice. I was, frankly, on the verge of tears.

But then, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me. He shook my hand and said, “I liked what you had to say.”

The subtext I took from that was this: “Hey, sorry. Not all male SF writers are like this.”

So yeah. The audience noticed. I had slightly better experiences at WorldCon and ArmadilloCon, but I suspect it wasn’t as bad because I was roaming around with Sharon Shinn, who has more power and cachet than I had at that time. But I still encountered more than my share of fans, who dismissed my work. At that point, I was disheartened, and I stopped attending SFF cons entirely. I decided I’d rather spend my travel money otherwise. To quote my wonderful friend, Lauren Dane, “If I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go swimsuit shopping.” My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad. I’ve had readers and writers stare at my rack instead of my face while “teaching” me how to suck eggs.

And now her battle has moved to a new phase:

I’ve been fighting this battle for five years now.

And now, here’s the second thing: I’ve been made aware of a post (that I’m not linking to)  from a guy who is swinging at me again. Why? Because I’m getting my girl cooties all over his SF. He implies I’m incapable of grasping sophisticated SF references due to my gender–that I don’t actually write SF because it has women, sex, and feelings in it. I’m so tired and disheartened right now. The one bright spot was my experience at KeyCon in Canada, where I was not only made to feel welcome but valued. Not a single soul at the con questioned my credentials or my quality of fiction, due to what I don’t have in my pants.

But I’m still here. I’m still writing. You cannot shut me up. I will NOT SIT DOWN. I will not stand quietly by anymore. I am a woman. I write SF. And it’s not acceptable to treat me as anything less than an equal. I won’t stand for it. And I won’t get your fucking coffee.

Ann goes on to post some of the hate emails she received from men after posting her blog.  You can read them here along with the hundreds of comments.  They are not nice, to say the least.  I was actually embarrassed for the ignorant writers of the emails.

I’ve since talked to Ann, who’s been traveling.  She said, “I had a lovely time at KeyCon, which was a delightful surprise.
 
I didn’t post the worst, scariest, or ugliest hate mail I received. I also didn’t post every instance where I felt like gender influenced a male SF reader or writer’s reaction to my work. For example, at WorldCon (when I wasn’t with Sharon Shinn), I had an aspiring male SF writer approach me. He wanted to talk shop. I was patient and polite; I answered all of his questions about publishing. Then when he asked about my books, I told him about them. I had spent a good half an hour addressing all of his queries by this point. He responded to my brief about my work with, “Oh, I only read real science fiction.” And then he left without saying good-bye or thanking me for my time.

At the Comic-Con panel, I was trying to discuss the importance of writing female characters with agency. Too often, women are portrayed in two ways: as prizes to be won by men or as damsels in distress. So I was saying that my heroine, Jax, is a heroine in her own right, and she carries her own gun. One of the male guests interrupted with, “Who doesn’t like girls with guns? My books have those.” Then he carried on talking, so my original point was completely lost.”

I told Ann that I’d like to know about anything she’s taken away from writing it and the enormous, supportive response she’s received including anything positive she can see coming from this.

This has all been so much bigger than I expected… in a completely splendid way. I didn’t expect so much of a response; it’s been incredible and heart-warming. When I got home tonight, I checked the stats on my website. On June 3, I had 165,277 hits on my site and on June 4, it went to 207,103. June 5, there were 63,757. That’s a total of 436,137 in three days! I got a tweet from Neil Gaiman and David Brin commented on my blog (which has almost 400 comments on the sexism in SF post). It’s all rather unbelievable.

At this point, the positive feedback exponentially outweighs the hateful microcosm, and I’m so glad I did this. I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of emails, thanking me for being brave because now this woman has the courage to tell her own story or to stand up for herself and demand better treatment. A number of those emails brought me to tears, and if I helped strengthen the sisterhood and made other women feel better, then it was all worth it. I’m so proud to know so many courageous, creative women. The positive I see coming from this is that we’ve broken through the wall of silence, where it’s better to swallow our shame and outrage. If we’re united in our determination to demand equality and respect, the situation must improve.

I applaud Ann Aguirre for speaking out on this subject.  It never is an easy thing to put yourself out there as a target.  Do you agree with her?  Disagree?  Have you seen this behavior in action?  Done anything about it?

Bottom Line:  “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~ Winston Churchill

BEA Author Breakfast

Barbara Vey -- June 5th, 2013
Nancy Naigle

Nancy Naigle

Today we have Cub Reporter, author Nancy Naigle (Wedding Cakes and Big Mistakes), who was kind enough to share her experience at the BEA Breakfast.  This was a separate event that I didn’t have a ticket to, so thanks Nancy for telling us about it.  Nancy Naigle lives on a 76 acre goat farm where she juggles a career as an Senior Vice President with a major financial institution with her love for writing. She spends every spare moment working on her next book in hope that her readers will find a little life balance in the pages of her stories, and fall in love with the characters and towns as much as she has.


Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler

Book Expo kicked off on May 30th at 8am with the Author Breakfast. This year’s breakfast featured Ishmael Beah, Wally Lamb, and Doris Kearns Goodwin – and a special treat was the master of ceremonies, Chelsea Handler. Not known for her morning, she shared a funny story about her red-eye flight from NYC to Book Expo and counting down the minutes before she could take a sleeping pill…which was impacted by a truck drivers miscalculation of his truck height and the Lincoln Tunnel and things seemed to go downhill from there. She offered to read a passage from her new book, UGANDA Be Kidding Me coming out in October, but then admitted it wasn’t done and she asked for the extension from the podium.

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Doris Kearns

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah

 

 

 

 

 

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Following Chelsea is not an easy task, but Ishmael Beah succeeded. His debut was a memoir, but this man is a heckuva storyteller and I have a feeling that his novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, is going to be a good one. Doris Kearns Goodwin shared stories about the dead presidents, and then Wally Lamb took us on a time travel, because in the famous words of Kierkegaard. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” He shared anecdotes about his childhood and how things impacted him to become a writer. Originally charted to have a career in physical sciences, after one too many dead cat incidents (like the time he was caught officiating a mock wedding between dead cats the class was supposed to be dissecting and of course the class through him under the bus as the mastermind!) Wally switched his focus to writing and storytelling, and aren’t we all glad he did? We received a copy of Wally Lamb’s new book, We Are Water, and I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts.

Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb

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Wally was the only one brave enough to poke a little fun with the master of ceremonies, Chelsea, saying he’d share a story but he was afraid he would embarrass her with the sex parts. When Chelsea next took the podium she retaliated saying that Wally was clearly obsessed with her and wasn’t it too darn early in the morning to talk sex anyway? It was a fun morning and the entire panel gave heartfelt thanks to the booksellers and librarians that are the connection between readers and writers. I echo that sentiment!

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Bottom Line:  Today is National Moonshine Day…nothing like slamming back some moonshine while reading a good book.

Book Expo America: Books, Authors & Beer

Barbara Vey -- June 3rd, 2013
View of the entrance area of the Javis Center (photo by Dan Blank)

View of the entrance area of the Javis Center (photo by Dan Blank)

Is BEA big?  Well, I spent all day Thursday and Friday there and feel I missed a lot as I read other posts about it, but somehow I was busy every minute!

Book Expo America is a giant trade show for the publishing industry.  You can’t just walk in and buy a single book.  There’s sales people all over, but they are selling to libraries, bookstores and chain stores.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t books to be had.  I saw more than one seasoned professional get absolutely giddy over an advanced copy of a book that was given away free and even more so if the author was there to sign it.

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Sara Nelson and Barbara Vey

Sara Nelson and Barbara Vey

 

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The first day I got to work at the PW booth.  It was exciting and a challenge.  Since I don’t work directly with the magazine, when I was asked a question, I need to get an answer from someone else so I really learned a lot.  It was also great to meet with the people who actually work in the office.  I talk to them online, but there’s just something about that personal touch.  As a special treat, I ran into Sara Nelson who was the editor of PW when I was first hired.  She’s now the Editorial Director at Amazon.

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The big houses were there in full force with scheduled signings with not only their big name authors, but also with new up and comers.  There were quite a few celebrity signings.  I caught Tim Conway (from the Carol Burnett Show) signing.  I know Jessica Lange was there to sign a children’s book she’s written, but in my mind, I kept seeing her in American Horror Story, so it was a little jarring to mesh the two.   Dr. Ruth showed up and everyone commented on how tiny she was in person.

 

Tim Conway

Tim Conway

Dr. Ruth (photo by Dan Blank)

Dr. Ruth (photo by Dan Blank)

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Romance Writers of America had signings every hour and I know every author signed all the copies of their books.  No left overs there.   I caught CJ Lyons signing at a couple of places and there were some people I just kept running into like Jeri Ready-Smith, Heather Graham, Jeannie Lin, Michelle Willingham, Sylvia Day and Eve Silver.

 

CJ Lyons

CJ Lyons

Hank Phillippi Ryan at Mystery Writers of America

Hank Phillippi Ryan at Mystery Writers of America

 

Line for YA signing at Harlequin

Line for YA signing at Harlequin

Rochelle Ayers and

Rochelle Ayers and Zuri Day

Jeannie Lin loving the feel of holding a Rita Award at RWA booth

Jeannie Lin loving the feel of holding a Rita Award at RWA booth

 

 

 

 

 

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Shindig Booth had video chats with authors. Here are Maya Rodale and Sarah MacLean

Shindig Booth had video chats with authors. Here are Maya Rodale and Sarah MacLean

 

 

Nancy Naigle and Jason Mott

Nancy Naigle and Jason Mott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were plenty of after hours parties to attend and the views of New York were to die for.  I met several new up and coming authors including Jason Mott who signed for two days his new book, The Returned.  Jason comes from a very small community of 600 and had a dream about his mom sitting at the kitchen table years after her death.  They talked about all that had happened since she passed, so Jason penned a story about a couple in their 70s who open the door one day to their son who had died at the age of 8.  Jason promised it isn’t a Stephen King kind of story, but more heart-warming and hopeful.  It’s already being filmed as an ABC series.  Not bad for a debut author.

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Free beer

Free beer

 

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One of the longest lines I saw was for Grumpy Cat.  Ok, someone had to explain who Grumpy Cat was to me, but now I remember seeing the pictures on Facebook.  Another line I got a kick out of was for beer.  Yes, one author insists on beer being served whenever she signs her books.  Obviously her readers love it.

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and Katana Collins

Sean Gordon Murphy and Katana Collins

 

At the Kensington party I met author Katana Collins and her husband, Sean Gordon Murphy.  Katana’s book just came out last week.  Her husband is an award winning comic book illustrator and has done illustrations of his wife’s book that they take to book signings.  A very unique way to draw in readers.

 

 

I also caught up with Bette-Lee Fox, Managing Editor of Library Journal.  She was manning the Library Journal’s booth for librarians.  A place where they could relax for a while.  Special congrats to Bette-Lee who will be accepting the RWA Vivian Stephen’s Industry Award in Atlanta in July.

Saturday was devoted to Power Readers for the first time.  Avid readers could come to the one day event and feast on the many giveaways and author sightings.  Unfortunately, I was stuck with an early flight so I missed it, but I’m sure there were extremely happy readers who left with arms aching from carrying all those books to add to their TBR piles.

Bottom Line:  A magnificent event to energize anyone with the love of books running through their veins.