Monday, May 7, 2007

Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right...

...and RT's the only game in town.

♥ Wow! Romantic Times is taking a beating lately. I'm not going to regurgitate every detail, because many other people with far better communication skills have done so already.

• At the recent RT Con in Houston, Hyatt management removed an author's promo materials claiming it offended their customers. That fact remains undisputed by all involved. Personally, I don't think it was the picture (cause I KNOW there had to have been more explicit straight posters there), I think it was the name of the epublisher printed on the poster. Apparently some men believe they will be compelled to bend and spread if their eyes fall upon the words "Man Love". Seems to me, if it wasn't homophobia, then ALL the posters and promos should have been removed so as not to offend or corrupt anyone- child or adult. Anyway, here's what happened from the POV of the author, Laura Baumbach. For the other side of events, read through the comments on Laura's post and you will see Jo Carol's (from RT) response.

• The next chain of events apparently started when Karen Scott posted this review on her blog. Yes, it was a harsh review, but I've seen many reviews on other books just as harsh on other sites. Somehow the comments, and subsequent blog entries, morphed into a bitch session about Elloras Cave and then the big bomb dropped- a memo (apparently) from Kathyrn Falk (RT's big kahuna) appeared in the comments. Karen also broke it out into it's own blog entry. At the time, there was room for doubt whether the letter was legit, but then Sarah at Smart Bitches related her phone conversation with Ms. Falk in this post, and it appears the letter either came directly from Ms. Falk or was sent with her knowledge.

• All of this actually seems a bit sad to me. First of all, as I've said before, Rt and EC joined forces and changed the face of the entire publishing industry. Do I believe EVERY derogatory thing said about them? No, but I believe enough of it that now, instead of seeing them as innovators leading a charge, I'm wondering if they've now become power drunk bullies who believe they should be worshipped like deities. I still admire them for what they've accomplished in the past though, let me be clear on that.

And Kathryn Falk's memo REALLY saddens me. Actually, her rambling, illogical and often incoherent statements alarm me, too. I fervently hope that her family seeks medical advice for her. I'm NOT being a smart ass. The memo and her conversation with Sarah do not sound like the accomplished woman I've always thought Ms. Falk to be. Something may be medically wrong.

• My point in weighing in on all this is that, I'm guessing that many authors are right now wondering if RT Con is really worth all the hassle and expense. From the point of view of a reader, I hope you will come up with a resounding "Yes!" Let me relate a couple of things from the 2006 Rt Con in Daytona:

I had read the first couple of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series and just didn't care for them, they moved too slow for me. I also read the first couple of Maryjanice Davidson's Betsy Taylor series and found them too shallow for me. At the con, I saw the fans enthusiasm for these series and I heard the author's real life voices and personalities. I heard Sookie's Southern drawl come through Charlaine and I heard Betsy's smart ass humor bubble out of Maryjanice. So I gave the two series another try- this time as audio books- and now I can't wait for each new release.

Robin Schone was set to chair the Erotica panels at that Con but couldn't make it and asked her protege, Renee Bernard, to take her place. Well Renee has such an engaging personality that I, and several others that I personally know of, realized that we couldn't wait to hear her "voice" in her first book when it was released. I made a point of telling her that at Saturday's Signapalooza, too. So I kept her in mind and, when A Lady's Pleasure was released, I bought it, read it, enjoyed it, and recommended it.

So consider that my experience was probably not unique. How many other authors were noticed by how many other readers because of their mutual attendance at the RT Con? And how many other people did each of those attendees recommend those authors to, who then recommended them to others, and so on and so on? I would guess that it is also an event that benefits authors through networking with other authors and publishers.

Now, as for the events of this year's Con, let me just say that I now have Laura Baumbach's blog, Karen Scott's blog, and bookmarked. If any of them were at the 2006 Con, I don't remember. But I'll remember them now. And I'll bet I'm not the only one.

So I hope that next year in Pittsburgh, I'll be seeing a lot of you authors. Over the past few months, I've gotten to know many of your voices through your blogs and I've received quite an eye opening education about writing and the publishing industry from you. Frankly, it still fascinates me, and I'd like to hear more from many of you. Of course, y'all are NOT helping my Constant Cravings, Decadent Desires, and Soon to be Savored lists get any shorter, now are you?!


Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

QB said...

Well thank you Biby!!! And welcome! Please feel free to visit and comment as often as you'd like.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

thanks for your input on this darlin. Lisa Andel, Lauren Dane and others have pretty much convinced me not to cancel my plans to attend. But i am thinking up a tshirt / blog campaign.
Something like:
M/M = Better than Chocolate.

whatcha think?

QB said...

Personally, I think the only thing NOT going would accomplish is... that you would miss out on being there.

To put it bluntly, unless all or at least most of the authors boycotted, including the biggest names, there will be no effect on the Con itself, but the authors who don't go will have cut off their nose to spite their face.

Because, (again being brutally honest) the authors so far involved in all this just don't have the clout needed for their absence to make an impact.

Now as to a campaign to spotlight the lack of acceptance of M/M books, yeah, that would make sense. As long as it makes a statement, gets the point across, but doesn't back anyone into a corner where their first instinct is to fight back, or backing down would mean losing face.

Oh, and... um... I don't do t-shirts. How about buttons? LOL!

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

oooh - buttons - i like that. more budget do-able.

i do think that the dialogue on all this does need to continue or things will never change, ya know?
And you're right, short of an all out boycott there would be little impact. Personally - i yearned to go to get some face to face with my pals. With everyone all over the world - there's not alot of opportunities for that.

Ann(ie) said...

I haven't made up my mind whether I'm going to RT next year. I'm taking the matter under advisement.

QB said...

Rhian, You're right, this issue shouldn't die out. But I am VERY encouraged that RT has reviewed m/m/f. It's a step in the right direction. And I can also understand that they hear voices from the opposite side- there are those that don't think ANY Erotica/Erotic Romances should be reviewed in RT.

At it's best, RT Con IS a celebration of women AND the Romance book industry. There was some drama in Daytona, too. And there will probably ALWAYS be some drama at the Cons, but the overall sense of comradery, and the amazing people you'll meet far outweigh any of the other bullshit.

Annie, you KNOW we all want you to come to Pittsburgh! I'm attending by myself and I'm hoping that everywhere I turn there will be someone I've met online to gab with! Just be aware that it's still probably going to be freakin' cold and rainy there!