Stacey Adgern is an aspiring author and bookseller. She lives in New York and is the Cub Reporter for the New Jersey RWA Put Your Heart in a Book conference.
At the very beginning of the conference, keynote speaker Suzanne Brockmann talked about the romance writer’s need to find the ‘love place.’ And for all of us devotees to the romance genre, whether readers or writers, the idea of what makes the ‘love place’ is clear. It’s the inspiration, that thing which drives a writer. For Victoria Alexander, as she told attendees at Sunday’s bookseller’s lunch, it’s “when she can give a happily ever after to those who can’t find it in real life; and…take people away from their own lives for just a few moments.”
For me, the ‘love place’ comes at places like the NJRW conference, where I got to catch up with Eloisa James, Elizabeth Mahon, Janet Gover, Louise Fury, Cara Elliott, Elizabeth Darrach, Kiersten Krum, Hope Tarr, Leanna Hieber, Lisa Dale and Sophie Jordan, and was able to meet both Stephanie Tyler and Kristan Higgins. The ‘love place’ also was a perfect moment where once again, I was able to watch as a friend of mine won a Golden Leaf award. This year, the lucky friend was Lauren Willig.
Another of the themes talked about at the conference was the question of whether or not to search for respect outside the romance genre. Luncheon speaker Rachel Gibson said no. She said that the only places that Romance Authors should search for respect involved the readers who love the genre. And how should they do that? By writing the best books they can. Keynote speaker Suzanne Brockmann said differently; that it was our goal as writers to get people to fall in love with the genre.
Regardless of how you feel on the issue it was pretty clear to me that after seeing Lauren Willig’s detailed workshop presented on historical research , Stephanie Draven’s awesome workshop on using mythological techniques to improve stories, and Laura Griffin’s tight workshop on Romantic Suspense, that those who stack the deck against the Romance genre wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they did see the evidence of what goes into the books they spend their time badmouthing.
But in the end, everybody at the conference-whether it was conference chair Marlo Berliner, last year’s conference chair Miriam Allenson; whether it was the wonderful Judi Fennell and the awesome group of booksellers I met at the booksellers lunch, or even author KT Grant who got to sign at the book signing for the very first time-understood that love conquers all. No matter how they felt about the need for respect, or where their inspiration for writing romance novels came from, they all spoke about the importance of romance novels at this time in history, and the power of a romance novel to make a difference in people’s lives.
Bottom Line: For me, it’s all about the romance.