Jennifer's Journal


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Author Interview - Tamelia Tumlin

Meet Tamelia Tumlin...
Tamelia Tumlin

My interview today is with romance author Tamelia Tumlin who is in the middle of a virtual tour for her latest book, DEADLY IMAGE. 

Tamelia sold her first piece of writing to Dogwood Tales Magazine while taking a creative writing course in college. That short story, titled "The Traveler," was the feature piece for that edition. A career in elementary education and a wonderful son consumed her time for some years afterward, yet the yearning to write never went away. She now pens fabulous romantic tales with to-die-for heroes and spirited heroines in her spare moments. 

Tamelia has worked with several online publishers, but currently writes for Steel Magnolia Press. Juggling motherhood, teaching and writing is a challenge, but one she welcomes while pursuing her passion. Her novels range from sweet and sassy to dark and dangerous. As a disclaimer, I should also tell you Tamelia is my niece by marriage.

JB: Weclome to the blog, Tamelia. It's a pleasure to have you with us!

Thank you for the warm welcome, Jennifer. It is an honor to be here today. I’d also like to invite your readers to visit my website for a chance to win one of two $10.00 Amazon gift cards I’m also giving away at the end of my book tour.

JB: Readers enjoy a personal glimpse of what a writer is like as a person. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I’m an elementary teacher by day and a writer by night. In between, I’m a proud mother of my ten year old son. I also enjoy reading, writing and traveling. My son has a large US map on the wall where he collects hat pins from each state we’ve traveled to. So far we have most of the Southeast covered. It;s about time to work on another region.

JB: How would readers find out more about you?

           I've recently revamped my website,, to make it more
           reader friendly. My books, blurbs and current projects are listed there as
           well as my blog, "Tamelia’s Tidbits," where I share quirky posts about my
           very busy life.

JB: When did you decide you wanted to write, and what triggered that decision?

I have always enjoyed reading. In my early teens I used to read the Silhouette young adult line. During this time you were writing and selling books and my mother was trying her hand at the craft as well. So at fourteen, I thought I had enough knowledge to give it a go too. After all, I loved to read. How hard could it be? I wrote a teenage romance targeted to Silhouette's young adult line. Of course, the book never saw the light of day and it was rejected as it should have been. However, I received something very valuable with that experience even though I didn’t realize it at the time; the knowledge that I could write and finish an entire book on my own and a rejection letter which was full of encouragement from the editor and a critique of my work as well. The fact that the rejection letter was not a form rejection was a milestone in itself. That it had suggestions and encouragement was pure gold--it just took me several years to realize it. I still had quite a bit to learn about writing, but because one editor many years ago saw promise, I had the courage to hone my craft and pursue my dream.

JB: Where and at what time do you write?

My favorite time to write is late at night after my son has gone to bed and I know no one should be dropping by for a visit. I generally pen my stories on the couch with the TV on low. For some reason, I seem to need background noise in order to concentrate--which is ironic, now I think about it, since I expect my son to do his homework without any distractions. Hmm, maybe I need to reconsider that rule. Maybe he takes after me and needs some “white noise” in the background too.

JB: What is your must-have book for writing?

Kate Walker’s 12 POINT GUIDE FOR WRITING ROMANCES. Kate is a well-know Harlequin author and she has some very good advice in her book on how to craft romances.

JB: Tell us any quirks you might have about the writing process.

I generally start with a small idea and write a very bare-bones outline of how my story will play out; I usually only know the beginning and the ending and a few other details. I do fill out a short character chart with just a few notes on each character and add to it as I write. I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen tossing around ideas in my head and hoping they will magically appear on the screen in logical order on their own. Of course, they never do. Sometimes what I write is drivel, and I have to take out chunks and start over. This may seem like a waste of time, but it actually helps me flesh out the story and get to know my characters a little better. Everything I write isn’t necessarily what the reader needs in the story, but it is what I need to dig a bit deeper into the plot or character growth.

JB: What genre(s) do you write?

I’m a romantic at heart, so romance is the main genre I write in--but with the occasional paranormal sub-genre thrown in here or there.

JB: Among those you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?

That’s a hard question. By the time you finish writing a novel you know your characters inside and out and each of mine are special to me in one way or another. But, if I had to choose, I would have to say A TIME FOR HEALING. The hero in this story has to find his way again after a personal tragedy leaves him broken and bitter. The heroine has a past she’s not proud of and guilt she has carried around for years. Both characters must learn to heal their hearts and forgive themselves-as well as God-in order to help a teenage boy who’s headed down the wrong path. I also have a secondary character in this story, Old Pete, who not only plays a pivotal role in the story, but is also an endearing character.

JB: Do you ever think of writing in other genres?

I enjoy writing romances and I do like to dabble in several sub-genres of romance, but the only other genre I’ve considered writing is chick-lit. My writing voice tends to be a bit humorous and I think chick-lit could be a good match. Of course, there would probably be a thread of romance running through it.

JB: Can you tell us a bit about your latest release?

DEADLY IMAGE is my Inspirational Intrigue. I’ve always loved reading Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense stories so I decided to write one similar to that line. The story is about a young widow whose daughter is missing. Although she is desperately trying to find her child,  the evidence keeps pointing back to her. As the heroine faces her past, she discovers everything she had held dear was a deception. With her faith shattered and her daughter missing, her only hope lies with the hero, a special CARD agent assigned to her case. The hero has a few issues of his own to deal with, but he really wants to believe the young widow is innocent. Still, he’s determined to find out the truth, no matter what.

JB: Any new projects, works in progress?

I'm currently working on the next novella in The Gatekeepers series. This is my paranormal series involving four dragon shifters who guard the portals of their realm here on earth. The first story, A DRAGON'S SEDUCTION, was well received by readers. It's available now through

JB: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to share with aspiring writers?

My only advice is to never give up. Study the market, study the genre and pursue your dream.

JB: Thanks so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to let us know what’s happening with you and your writing. Warmest wishes for much success with your career!

Thank you for having me. It has been a pleasure talking to you and sharing with your readers.

Special Notice! Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of two free ebook copies of DEADLY IMAGE that Tamelia will be giving away in honor of this stop on her book tour! 

Also, look for Tamelia at the following locations--and don't forget to register for those two $10 Amazon gift cards she'll be giving away on her website!



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Monday, July 23, 2012

Trivial Romance?

Writers should avoid reading reviews for their own peace of mind. And yet, like passing an accident scene on the highway, we are compelled to look. I’ve been paying attention lately because of a disturbing trend that seems to be developing. It shows up more often in customer reviews on Amazon and other similar places, but can also be found on dedicated book review sites.
The gist of it seems to be that today’s reviewer wants stories which focus solely on the relationship between hero and heroine.  They consider books that include more than this to be something other than romance novels.

They want few descriptions of setting or atmosphere as this gets in the way of what they consider to be the “meat” of the story. Accurate food, clothing, architecture or room furnishing details are seen as unnecessary.
They dislike secondary plots as these take up pages that might be utilized for give and take between hero and heroine.
They don’t want secondary characters unless they further the relationship between the two main characters and/or provide comic relief.
The logical and timely development of the male-female relationship with its attendant sensual tension is not enough. They expect immediate sexual activity, no matter how unlikely that might be within the context of the story or the given personalities of the hero and heroine.

They don’t want explanations of historical events in their historical romances. Never mind that the story plot would make little sense without this background.

Also in historicals, they demand proactive, modern-thinking heroines regardless of the social dictates of the times or likely consequences of inappropriate, even stupid, action.
They object to violence in any form, and have little taste for controversy or anything that might require concentrated thought.

They have scant appreciation for theme and often fail to understand the concept. Many seem to have the mistaken notion that theme and story situation are synonymous.

They consider character development to mean altered physical appearance or change in social status rather than mental or emotional growth.
They prefer that the majority of a book’s text be in dialogue between the hero and heroine, and often admit to skipping everything in between.

They like direct sentences with scant use of metaphor and simile, also short paragraphs and common, nonspecific word choices. Symbolism is regarded as pretentious.

What they want, in fact, is a straightforward, “feel good” experience, the simplified version of a romance as represented by Harlequin category books.

The net effect if writers attempt to please these reviewers must be the trivialization of romance novels.

Now, there's nothing wrong with an uplifting read in a shorter length which prevents the use of much beyond the central relationship. I've written these myself, and enjoy reading them on occasion. But to maintain that all romances must follow that pattern or be considered outside the genre is a serious error.

Yes, the male-female relationship -- the eternal love affair that ensures the continuation of human life -- is central to all romantic stories. But it isn’t the only thing that can or should take place in one. Broad, dramatic events, complicated plot lines, vital secondary characters and ingenious secondary plots are just as valid in the romance genre as they are in any other type of fiction.

Literary style in romances should be as varied as the people who write them.
World building with accurate details of time and place  can be, and of often is, an integral part of the romance experience.

A writer’s life view or acquired wisdom about human relationships is as allowable in romance as in any other genre. No theme available to authors of fiction should ever be excluded.
Reviewers need to study the romance genre in depth before imposing their opinions on writers and readers. They should broaden their horizons, look for more than mere light entertainment.

Romance is not and never has been a trivial genre. Let’s not turn it into one.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Edition Puzzle

SEDUCED BY GRACE, Book 3 of my medieval Three Graces trilogy, has just been published in the UK in a hardcover large print edition from Chivers Press. The book has a lovely cover, and I appreciate the vote of confidence it represents but—Book 3?

Book 2, BY GRACE POSSESSED, has also been published in a large print hardcover edition. Yes. But in the U.S. By Thorndike Press.

What happened to Book 1, BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE?

Why did two different publishers release different books of the trilogy, but neither choose to start with Book 1 or to issue all of them? Or has Book 1 been published in a hardcover edition by someone else entirely, but no one let me know it?

This isn’t the first time something similar has happened. LUKE, Book 2 of my 5-book contemporary Louisiana Gentleman series, was published in hardcover large print edition by Severn House in 2011. Book 3, ROAN, came out this past spring from Severn House, all right, but so far there’s been no sign of Book 1, KANE. Nor of Books 4 and 5, CLAY and WADE, if it comes to that.

Did whoever selected the titles for these editions not realize the books belonged to sets? Did my original publisher suggest them to the hardcover houses without giving their publishing history? Were choices made based strictly on sales figures or some other criteria? Or are the various publishers waiting for readers to clamor for the other books before they go to the expense of printing them?

Who can say? Certainly, no one has explained the process to me. In fact, I only learned these books had been reissued in later editions when author copies arrived on my doorstep.

I could send a query, of course, but I left the original publishing house for these titles back in the winter. I doubt my show of concern would have noticeable effect on future publishing decisions for them or anyone else. Some few details will surely show up on a future royalty statement, but I have little hope of a full explanation. The case of the missing titles may have to remain a mystery.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New beginnings

Today is the first day of the rest of my blogging life. After months of confusion while reading articles and books on how to blog, what to write about and how often to post, I’ve decided to ignore all the advice and do it my way. This means returning to my original plan when I named this blog Jennifer’s Journal: it will be an online record of my days to let readers know what’s happening with my life and career. And if I sometimes post the odd thought that runs through my mind, perhaps you‘ll bear with me.

This is such a minor decision compared to some I’ve taken recently!

Last November, I submitted a proposal for a new medieval trilogy called the Tudor Heiress Brides Books. My editor approved it and made an offer. The advance was somewhat less than for the previous Three Graces trilogy, but came with promises of a sizeable commitment for promotion. Three-way negotiations began between me, my agent and the editor.
But in the middle of these talks, my husband had a heart attack that resulted in quintuple by-pass surgery. It was a traumatic time, with long weeks spent in hospitals. It seemed something was telling me I needed to get off the merry-go-round of constant deadlines I’d been on for over 30 years and enjoy our time together. I turned down the offer for the trilogy and withdrew the proposal.

As one door closes another opens, so they say, and that’s how it turned out. I’d been in contact with a niece who writes as Phoenix Sullivan ( She had indie published two of her books on Amazon, as well as an anthology of stories by several of her online friends. Not only was she familiar with the process, but she had impressive data geek credentials, as well as having held writing and editing positions at a series of high-tech firms for more than 20 years. As it happened, I’d been reading about the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing phenomenon. We began to talk about the possibility of putting some shorter titles of mine online, novellas I’d done in the 1990s for which rights had reverted to me as the author. The more we talked the bigger the plans become—and in December we established Steel Magnolia Press.

A sizable factor in this undertaking was that several of my full-size backlist novels, out of print but out there as ebooks from E-Reads, Inc., were coming up for rights reversion. Then I had another niece, Tamelia Tumlin, who had worked with several online publishers, a daughter, Lindy Corbin, who had published a book with a traditional house that went belly-up, and another daughter, Katharine Faucheux, who was at a place in her life where she might finish a couple of great stories she’d started. A couple of other relatives had writing ambitions, Phoenix was working on new material and I had several things in my files that could be revamped. Then that new medieval trilogy lurked in the background. With lots of possible books lined up for publication, we forged ahead.

Discussion about the reversion of my backlist titles began immediately, but turned into a lengthy dialogue. Agreement was finally reached for the release of 36 titles, but more weeks passed while previous ebook versions were removed from their online sales outlets. Meanwhile, much work went on behind the scenes at SMP. New covers were commissioned from Dara England of LFD Designs, and new text formatting put into place. Different descriptions were created and more complete copyright and review details added. A production timetable for all titles was finalized and promotion schedule established.

The changes made did not affect the stories, in case you’re wondering. Beyond minor editing on a couple to comply with modern usage, the text in each case is the same as when these books were printed by traditional publishers. The main purpose behind the revamping was to give them a brighter, more romantic look and feel for greater reader appeal.

The first quartet of books now out includes ARROW TO THE HEART, MIDNIGHT WALTZ, SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL and TENDER BETRAYAL. As the stories are all set against the backdrop of antebellum Louisiana’s aristocratic plantation society, they’ve been dubbed the Louisiana Plantation Collection. Each is a stand-alone book, however, with no connection to any of the others. Special promotions will be coming up for these titles in the near future, so check back often for information on them.

August will see another four titles released in a collection which chronicles different time periods and events in my home state's colorful history. Others will follow in additional groups of four to six over the next eight or nine months. And I can't wait to have them all online!

Mine weren’t the only titles released this week by SMP. I’m delighted to announce the debut of NIKO’S STOLEN BRIDE by my older daughter, Lindy Corbin. Set on Sanibel Island, Key West and the Bahamas, it’s an exciting tale with a gorgeous Greek hero who is determined to prevent a bride from changing her mind after canceling her wedding to another man. My niece, Tamelia Tumlin, also has a new book out. DEADLY IMAGE is a different genre for her, a Christian romantic suspense tale about a young woman who must depend on a handsome but suspicious FBI agent to find her missing daughter. Tamelia has updated her web site in honor of this release. See it here:

Something new and different seems to happen every day with this venture into independent publishing. I’ll be keeping a chronicle of these events, as I said before. Meanwhile, what do you think about this development in the book world? Do you prefer reading "real" books or on an electronic device? If you use an e-reader, how many books do you download per month, on average? Leave a comment, and let’s start a conversation!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wedding Romance - The Bridal Gown

The marriage proposal has been grandly made and accepted with happy tears, and surely a kiss or two. Now what? Most brides-to-be begin at once to search for the perfect wedding gown. Few garments in a woman’s life will ever be as important.

The wedding gown has a long and colorful history. Marriage in the past was normally a practical or dynastic union rather than a love match. The parents of the bride or other authority figure decided whom she would marry, choosing a man who could protect her from harm while providing a standard of living not unlike that from which she came. His age and appearance were secondary; his appeal to the young woman he would marry had no bearing at all.

The gown worn for such a marriage was meant to reflect her social position; costly fabrics of silk, satin, damask and velvet established her status, and trims of fur, jewels and gold or silver braiding or embroidery added to the opulent impression. During the medieval period, rich colors such as red and peacock blue, indigo and purple came from costly imported dyes and so were reserved for the higher orders. Those lower made do with practical fabrics colored with domestic dyes in duller shades of brown, tan, gray, yellow, blue or green. Later, during the Georgian and Victorian eras, pale colors became popular symbols with the well-to-do who could afford to replace clothing that was easily soiled, while darker fabrics that would not show the Industrial Revolution’s grime were left to the less fortunate. In all cases, the gown of choice was the best the bride’s family could afford.

White wedding garments show up now and then in early history. Records indicate that Philippa, an English princess married in 1406, wore a tunic with an attached cloak of white silk edged with squirrel and ermine. Young Mary, Queen of Scots, scandalized French aristocracy in 1559 by exchanging vows with the Dauphin while dressed in a gown of her favorite white—that being the color of mourning for French queens at the time. However, the highlighting of such incidents in public records suggest white was an uncommon bridal choice.

Queen Victoria 1842
Note her  veil draped over her arms.
Myth tells us, and many sources proclaim it as fact, that the white wedding gown as a tradition began with Queen Victoria on her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840. This is both correct and incorrect. Victoria did break with convention by declining to wear the heavy and outrageously expensive fabric woven with gold or silver thread that was reserved for British royal brides at the time. She chose, instead, to appear in the delicate, ultra-feminine mode that marked this Romantic Era. For her gown, she selected Prince Albert’s favorite lace that was handmade made in Honiton, England, and then had it draped over silk woven in British mills. According to documents in the British Museum, both fabrics were in ecru, rather than pure white, with the lace being darker than the silk. This is clearly shown in Winterhalter’s portrait of Victoria from 1842.

The gown was a public relations coup as it showcased British textiles, British fashion, British pride. But Victoria went further by allowing herself to be photographed in it numerous times, with copies freely dispensed to the press and public. It’s said that just one month after the wedding, the official wedding photograph of Victoria and Albert had reached the far corners of the British Empire. Because her gown appeared white in these black and white images, a fad for white wedding gowns was born. By the winter of 1840, a gown very similar to Victoria’s was depicted in Godey’s Lady’s Book in the United States. By the 1850s, such gowns had become a regular feature of the fashion magazine during the wedding season.

Another legend connected to white wedding gowns is that the color promises bodily purity, or virginity. This is false. The Victorians were fond of assigning hidden messages to many things, including colors. Blue stood for fidelity, for instance, and pink for love, while white indicated pureness of heart. Anything more personal would have been considered vulgar.

Wedding gowns today owe a remarkable debt to Victoria’s famous ensemble. Its low neckline, full skirt and sumptuous yet simple fabrics still inspire modern designers, and millions of yards of silk and lace adorn millions of brides every year in her honor. It’s the romance of the thing, you see; the impractical appeal of clothing dedicated solely to the display of female beauty.

A few more interesting facts about wedding gowns:

Shades of white are the most popular color, even today, though the gown may actually be tinted eggshell, ecru, ivory or champagne. It’s perfectly acceptable for any bride, even those celebrating second or third marriages, to wear this color.

A popular trend now is white with a tracery of black embroidery or a black lace overlay.

Other colors frequently used by designers are pink, coral, pale blue, pale green, or aqua.

75% of wedding gowns chosen today are strapless. Beyond the more contemporary and sexier look, the bodice represents the greatest fitting challenge in ready-to-wear garments. Strapless models require less alteration.

A wedding dress is the traditional finale for even the highest of high-fashion shows because it is the ultimate test of a designer’s inspiration and workmanship.

For more about wedding gowns see:

Note: In my book, PIECES OF DREAMS, Melly’s wedding gown is made of Oriental silk brocade shipped from far-off Cathay by the sea captain who was her childhood friend—and is also the twin brother of her prospective groom. The description fits perfectly into my story, but is actually a salute to my own wedding gown that was of cream-colored silk brocade shipped from Korea by a friend stationed at a military base there.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Wedding Romance - The Unique Proposal

You saw the news clip about the brain surgeon vacationing in Florida who buried an engagement ring in the sand and then lost it? He intended to let his girl dig it up before he proposed, but the tide came in, and -- you get the picture. If not, there’s a video:

Poor guy!  He was such a good sport about it. And he had the last laugh, once the ring was found, as the incident turned into a never-to-be-forgotten proposal. That is, after all, the current trend in wedding customs, finding a memorable way to pop the question.

Yes, indeed, the prospective groom is expected to be creative on this occasion. Some celebrities have done the deed on helicopter rides or mountain tops at sunrise, in an igloo on a glacier or on a private beach, in a Venetian gondola or atop the Eiffel Tower. Sports guys have done it by kneeling on the playing field or blaring out a public announcement in front of thousands of fans. The dramatic proposal has become such a big deal, in fact, that there are people who will create and set up the perfect scenario for a clueless would-be groom. A few examples of the possibilities and prices for this service are located here:

Or for a truly big splash, a wedding proposal can be written in the sky:

Less dramatic ideas are available for the man who prefers to make his own arrangements, however. A list is posted on the wedding planning site hosted by The Knot Magazine:

But what’s a romantic guy without unlimited funds to do? He can:

Put his feelings in a love letter and let his girl read it before getting down on one knee.

Take her to a place that has special meaning for the two of them, from a church or movie theater to a shopping mall, ball park, or favorite restaurant.

Look to their outdoors activities for a meaningful location, perhaps a fishing boat or hiking trail, a vacation beach, top of an amusement park ride or the back of a horse.

Have a small silver box engraved with the proposal and put the ring inside, or have a jeweler string letters on a necklace that spell out “Will You Marry Me.”

Buy a cake or giant cookie and have the bakery write the proposal on it in icing.

Make a special dinner for her and use the ring for a napkin ring in the center of her plate.

Hand her a frozen drink or soft-serve ice cream with the ring perched on top.

Freeze the ring in an ice cube, and give it to her to cool down with on a hot summer day.

Take her to the top of a fire tower or water tower, local ordinances permitting.

Or if all else fails, he can simply be spontaneous, asking when and where the mood strikes. That’s often the best proposal of all!
Interest in all things wedding has been triggered by June publication of Pieces of Dreams, my historical romance with a bride who is torn between her worthy, hard-working fiancé and his twin brother who is a dashing sea captain. FMI:
Friday, April 20, 2012

Romantic Times Convention Reflections

What a hive of noise and industry the Chicago Romantic Times Book Reviews Convention was this past weekend. Women strode here, there and everywhere with great determination—most of them in sensible shoes, but quite a few wearing skyscraper heels that will make fortunes for podiatrists in about 20 years. Many were writers, but readers, booksellers and librarians were also present in great numbers. Their focus was the various workshops and panels available, also the two book signings, but they didn’t miss out on the publisher and author parties!

(From Left) Jennifer Blake, Diane Stacy and Christina Skye in the RT Goody Room

And how grand it was to see familiar faces, including Kathe Robin, long-time reviewer for RT (who told me she still has a copy of BAYOU BRIDE, one of my early light romances on her keeper shelf) and Christina Skye, whom I ran into in the “goody room” of the RT office and who shares my passion for knitting. There was Sherill Boudine, who helped make a three-hour book signing speed past by treating me to a margarita and having it delivered. Leigh Greenwood and Roseanne Bittner, Loretta Chase and Lorraine Heath, Sue Grafton, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Francine Pascal were all there, not to mention Kathryn Falk and Kenneth Rubin, Carol Stacy, Jo Carol Jones, Jill Brager, and all the rest of the great RT crew. Added to this list was the personable young writer I met on the train to Chicago, Heather Rainier. In the way of such things, I ran into her and her husband Richard often, and enjoyed their company each time. 

The Author Chat I sat in on with Loretta Chase and Sarah McLean drew a nice crowd. Mary Balogh was supposed to have been on hand, but bowed out due to family illness. Lorraine Heath took her place in quiet and composed fashion, and we all answered questions until they chased us from the room so the next panel could be set up.

Chicago being the home of Sourcebooks, Inc., this amazing publishing house sponsored an office tour for their authors. What a fun jaunt! Transportation was by special limo—buses the size of small living rooms, with curving leather seats, stocked mini-bars and multi-colored flashing lights. We felt like rock stars! Publisher Dominique Raccah guided us through the many departments while recognizing personnel. She even introduced Bessie, the Well-Read Cow, a huge cow statue resting on books which she had bought at auction, outbidding Oprah who also wanted the icon. Lunch of pasta, chicken parmesan and decadent brownies was enjoyed, after which gifts of handmade bath and beauty products from Lush were handed out. Before our departure, all authors used large permanent markers in various colors to autograph a blank corridor wall. Leigh Greenwood (Harold Lowery), being the tallest, capped off all the signatures by making a banner heading of his "John Hancock.”

On Friday, Roseanne Bittner and I sat in on a panel discussion with Kathryn Falk. Our retrospective of the romance industry over the past thirty years, and the passion of authors for their work that has driven its success, was well received. I also spent time with Kathryn, Roseanne, Kenneth Rubin and Leigh Greenwood at the Bookseller and Librarian appreciation event, and heard interesting things being planned for the Kansas City convention in 2013. 

Passion was a constant at this convention—the passion for erotica, that is, or erotic romances. The authors with the most fervent followings seemed to be those with the boundary-pushing stories. The only genre to give erotica a run for its money was paranormal, with its vampires and shape-shifting animals, ghosts and ghoulies. Both are certainly interesting trends, though it's impossible to say how long they will last.

Another thread for this convention was self-publishing, or indie—independent—publishing, as it’s labeled these days. The presence of such e-industry heavy-hitters as Mark Coker, Bob Mayer and J. A. Konrath stoked the interest of attendees. Bob Mayer encouraged authors to gain control of their backlists and self-pub the books as soon as possible. The thinking here is that traditional publishers are sitting on absolute gold mines of out-of-print titles but, like elephants squatting on eggs, are oblivious to the potential rewards.

Special guests for Saturday’s gigantic Book Fair were Anne Rice and J. R. Ward. Anne was reportedly seen striding the hotel corridors in company with her bodyguards. Extra security also had to be brought in to keep order among the fans waiting for signed books from Anne and J. R. The other spot of great activity during the autographing was the section cordoned off for YA authors. Fans of tales that tap into the Twilight and Hunger Games mystique congregated there. Business was brisk for the rest of us, as well, and the lines at checkout were long. The state of the book industry seems less gloomy than has been depicted.

The convention was a time of renewal in many ways, of getting back to why I write, how lucky I’ve been to be able to make a living at it and excitement about the digital future. I came home with the urge to start a new book. Seeing old friends, making new contacts and taking the pulse of the industry was great—but recapturing the anticipation of a new story? That's priceless.

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