Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Now that I’m back from Shanghai, I am back on the ball with the PhD.

An important part of my research is obtaining the views of romance readers and romance writers. I have been working on these surveys for a few months and they are ready to launch.

Now there are two surveys: one for romance readers and one for romance writers. Please use the correct link!

Yes. Romance writers can be romance readers but I have questions on their romance reading  in the writer survey so you don’t need to do two surveys.

I think the survey can take up to 15-20 minutes to do. I do it quicker but I’ve been looking at it many times. So do allow some time.

I am also going to select some people for a follow up interview. There is space to indicate your willingness to be involved in this is the consent form. The consent form is the first part of the survey.

This survey is for my PhD, which is examining romance fiction. Please help!

This is the link to Survey Monkey for Romance Writers

This is the link to Survey Monkey for Romance Readers.

Thanking you all in anticipation. Donna!

.headshot

Read Full Post »

It is my great pleasure to interview, Debbie Phillips, the president of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) one of the most organised and efficient organisations I have ever dealt with. They run a biennial conference for readers (with writers) of romance, as well as the annual romance reader awards, surveys of romance readers, signing events, author high teas, local area romance reader lunches and the list goes on. They are awesome. So if you like reading romance you should consider signing up to be a member. It’s a modest fee. And if your fancy goes to meeting other romance readers then you should head to Melbourne in February 2017!!

I was curious about the origins of the organisation so I asked Debbie to answer a few questions.

So, Debbie, how did the Australian Romance Readers Association start and when?

ARRA was established in 2007 to organise the first Australian Romance Readers Convention. That was our sole purpose at the time. Since then we have incorporated the association and have added other events to our activities.

It all started with a discussion on an online loop, where Maggie Nash suggested Australia should have its own romance readers convention. Other members of the loop thought that was a great idea and we set up an expression of interest form and set it out through our various networks. Then came the amazing moment when we received an email from Sherrilyn Kenyon saying she’d heard about the idea and could she come. (Umm, yes!) After that there was no turning back.

How long did it take for your membership levels to reach a critical mass?

Not long at all. We started out with just 16 members—the committee organising ARRC09—and by the end of 2009 we had over 120 members. Our membership today sits at 341. (Donna: OMG! that’s so many. So Fab)

Why is the Australian Romance Readers Association important to readers of romance? What does being a member do?

Other than the obvious benefit of the events we host each year, ARRA also provides a place where readers can find other readers (and authors) who share their interests. We have an online members loop where we chat throughout the month about what we are reading; we have a monthly newsletter that is jam-packed with articles and news about romance fiction; we have an active blog with regular articles from authors and publishers, with giveaways as well. We also have active groups on social media.

Being a member of ARRA means you are supporting that community. We have taken the $20 membership fees from our members and turned them into an enormous enterprise that is getting attention from around the world.

In addition to the biennial conventions we host a signing each August in conjunction with the Romance Writers of Australia conference. Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by so many authors in one place has meant we can keep costs low and offer a unique opportunity for local readers to come along and meet authors and get books signed.

We have also hosted special events with authors like Julia Quinn, Karen Rose and Maya Banks when they visited Australia. Being able to do that is something really special for both readers and authors.

What made ARRA decide to run biennial conferences? What is special about these conferences?

With the growth of online communities and social media Australian romance readers were able to see all the fun readers have at the RT conventions in the United States. For most readers a trip to RT was something they would probably never be able to afford. So we decided to establish our own convention here in Australia. We move it around the country to make it more accessible to readers.

They’re special because they’re total immersion in romance fiction for an entire weekend. You get to meet and chat with authors and readers for two whole days (longer if you come to some of the optional social events). And even better, it is a judgment-free zone! Everyone there gets your obsession with reading romance and you will not see a single eye roll.

Where have these conferences been? Can you give me some highlights of the guests you have had?

We have had the most amazing guests!

The first convention in 2009 was held in Melbourne. Keynote speakers were Stephanie Laurens, Sherrilyn Kenyon, MaryJanice Davidson, Dianna Love, Susan Grant and Liz Maverick. (All these speakers very generously paid their own expenses, so we could afford to have six keynotes!) There were also another 40 authors at the convention.

sherrilyn-lami-and-dianna_arrc09

Sherrilyn Kenyon (L) and Dianna Love (R) with reader Lami, ARRC09

mjd_sg_lm-and-friends_arrc09

Back row: MaryJanice Davidson, Liz Maverick and Susan Grant; Front row: readers Pamela, Carrie and Sarah, ARRC09

The next convention was ARRC2011, held in Bondi. Our keynotes were Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh and Cindy Gerard. There were another 40 authors in attendance as well.

In 2013 we hosted the convention in Brisbane, and keynotes were Anne Gracie, Kristan Higgins and Rachel Vincent. Our author numbers had jumped to 60 by then.

nalini-anne-willy-keri_arrc2011

Nalini Singh, Anne Gracie, reader Willy and Keri Arthur, ARRC2011

arrc2013-keynotes

Kristan Higgins, Rachel Vincent and Anne Gracie, ARRC2013

Last year we hosted ARRC2015 in Canberra. Our keynotes were Helene Young, Sylvia Day, Victoria Dahl and Kelley Armstrong. There were an additional 90 authors at the event, our biggest yet.

How do you decide who to invite as keynotes?

We ask our members who they would love to meet and then we compile a list and make our way down it. For every convention we are in contact with probably a dozen authors before we lock in our keynotes. All the authors we speak to are excited at the thought of coming to Australia to meet their readers, but unfortunately for some it just isn’t possible at that particular time. Authors are busy people! The list of authors who have regretfully declined our invitation is just as start-studded as the authors who have been at our conventions!

ARRA also gives out readers awards. When did these start? Are they well received?

The first awards were held at ARRC09. We hadn’t planned them at first, but when we saw the enthusiastic reaction to the convention we decided to establish the awards. Authors and readers alike love them. We hold them each year. In convention years the awards dinner is part of the convention. In the off-convention years we hold the awards dinner as a standalone event in Sydney.

2009-award-winners

Inaugural award winners: Anna Campbell, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Melanie Milburne and Stephanie Laurens, ARRC09

Can you tell me a bit about the conference coming up in Melbourne? I understand you have a guest coming via Skype!

Next year ARRC2017 will be back in Melbourne, and our keynotes will be Kylie Scott, Courtney Milan and Kristen Callihan. And of course there will be some 80 romance authors from around Australia.

Yes, we are thrilled to say Thea Harrison will be joining us for a Q&A. She had accepted our invitation to be a keynote speaker, but then realised that her health would preclude the very long trip to Australia. That’s when we decided to try a Skype session for the first time. If it goes well that will really open up the possibilities for the next convention.

If anyone is interested in more information on the convention, they can find it here. There’s a link to buy tickets as well.

What is included in the conference fee?

The conference fee includes entry to all the sessions over the weekend. Delegates can choose from a number of panel sessions throughout the weekend (see the program here). It includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on both Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a special screening of the documentary Love Between the Covers, speed dating sessions, the chance for a special morning tea with an author host, an epic signing event, and of course our keynote speakers. Another highlight will be out gold tickets, which 21 lucky readers will find in their goodies bag when they register; these tickets entitle them to a private lunch with one of the keynotes.

In addition to that, there are a number of optional social events over the weekend that are ticketed separately. Readers can meet authors ahead of the convention at a High Tea on the Friday, or join us for the wind-down lunch cruise on the Monday. On Friday night there are welcome cocktails, followed by a trivia night, complete with popcorn and ice cream. On Saturday night they can join us at the fabulous awards dinner.

Are readers able to meet authors at the convention as well as hang with other romance readers?

Yes! Throughout the weekend readers have the chance to meet and chat with all the authors. Whether mingling at the cocktail reception or enjoying the awards dinner, you could well be sharing the evening with your favourite authors. During the day you can sit in on the panel sessions, chat with authors and readers during tea breaks, chat one-on-one with authors at the speed dating sessions, and then catch up with them at the signing as well. The whole weekend is about authors and readers hanging out and chatting!

Do you have any tips for romance readers and writers on how to meet?

Don’t be shy! Everyone there loves romance fiction just as much as you do, and they can’t wait to talk to someone about their favourite authors and books. (In fact, some of the authors are just as shy as some readers, and they are all absolutely lovely! So don’t be intimidated.) All it takes is “What are you reading at the moment?” to get a conversation started.arrc2017-banner_700

 

You can find ARRA here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thank you Debbie! Your answers were great. I had no idea all that was going on in the background. I’ll be there in February, but now I’m thinking after conference cruise? Why not?

 

Read Full Post »

I first read some Mills & Boon romances in may late teens. I was a young, stay at home mum to be pretty bored and poor too. I didn’t read masses of these books. I remember dark Latin lovers, girls marrying their rapists in two cases. It was the late 1970s. Perhaps that was par for the course. I was captured by science fiction and fantasy so I read a lot of that in the intervening years. As I reflect back on this I wish I had kept reading romance. It might have helped me in a lot of ways such as relationships, self esteem and sex. But alas I had a preference for outerspace and other worlds not as useful for those more personal issues.

My reading did expand into paranormal romance, historical romance and science fiction romance, probably in my late thirties. Outlander (Crossttich here) combined all three of my favourite things, a bit of SF& F with the time travel and Scottish romance, with a fine touch of the paranormal elements. My romance drug of choice was: Scottish historicals (and English too), Regency romance and paranormal romance with lashings of urban fantasy. I must say I came across Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey. I was so excited as this book was SF romance. Not very politically correct these days but I still love it and I don’t care. Suck it up detractors. Challen rivals Jamie Fraser and Darcy in my mind.

It wasn’t until I was published with Escape Publishing (Harlequin’s Australian Digital Imprint) that I started reading contemporary romance fiction again. (I’ve even tried to write some, but I want to put a ghost or a vampire in there). Mostly this was to explore what was on offer with Escape but to learn about the genre too. I read some amazing stuff that gave me a love for contemporary romance that I hadn’t had before.

Here are some of the books I read:

A Man Like Mike  by Sami Lee

Bound by his Ring by Nicole Flockton

A Basic Renovation  by Sandra Antonelli

What Love Sounds Like  by Alissa Callen

Finding Elizabeth by Louise Forster

The Lies We Tell by Elizabeth Dunk

Rescue Heat by Nina Hamilton

Short Soup by Colleen Kwan

Grease Monkey Jive and Floored by Ainslie Paton

You can find these titles here.

They were all so good. Do I sound surprised? Not so much surprised by the quality just that I really liked reading these contemporary romances that didn’t contain any weird stuff. This was new to me.

Then we come to the PhD and I’m focusing on contemporary romance (either written in the 1970s or in the present) and maybe that’s a bit weird, you know. Yet, it’s an genre I don’t know well and I am curious…about the past…about the present…

To put boundaries on what I’m reading I am containing the genre to Mills & Boon category romances and like products. But I don’t forget that there’s so much more out there.

The sobering thought for me is that I’ll never be as knowledgeable as the avid readers of romance. I can read what I can and examine it with certain parameters in mind, but I can’t duplicate 20 to 30 years of avid romance reading. I’m lucky that I know a couple of these knowledgeable readers and they are so helpful but they keep me humble.

 

Read Full Post »

This morning I went to the dentist to get my chipped tooth fixed. I now have my smile back. It was a small chip to my front tooth, but it happened just after I gave up my extras health cover. Anyway, the damage wasn’t too bad financially. I will have to be careful about what I eat in future. Given my weight gain, I could probably stand no eating!

I’m at the stage of my PhD where the more I read the more stupid I feel. There is so much to know about the world and I know I haven’t even touched a 0.000001 per cent of it. I feel like if I open my mouth something stupid is going to come out. Or does come out. I know this is untrue of course! I’m not entirely stupid! (just marginally or slightly stupid, lol) It’s just that I’m dwelling in some emotional gutter where PhD candidates fall after the first splurge of excitement. I want to know everything about my topic! I can only do a small portion of what I’m aiming for. Live with it!

Writing/drafting an academic paper was like sliding a stiletto around my insides while singing the national anthem. A relief when it is over. I will be getting comments from my supervisor to get it to the next stage so I’ll just put the stiletto over here so it’s ready for when I need it.

I had a wonderful long series of dreams/thoughts about my creative piece for the PhD. It was the most rounded piece of imagination in relation to it, that I might even draft a rough outline. Today, I’ve printed out an article that the lovely Russell Kirkpatrick recommended to me after I was whining about how hard Gender Trouble by Judith Butler was to understand, particularly when she starts dissecting the psychoanalysts. Butler’s book inspired lots of creative thoughts for my fiction piece. I may not get it all into my head, but it was thought provoking. The article is Taking Butler elsewhere: performativities, spatialities and subjectivities by Gregson, N and Rose, G, 199. It’s right here in front of me.

Another issue I find is that I have to reread articles and books. I take notes, of course, but then on rereading I see other things that I’d missed before. This is because the reading expands your understanding and then you read something else and make further connections until you get an ‘aha’ moment.  I have a lot of reading done, heaps more to do but the thought I may have to read it again. Eep! Add to the that the suspicion that my reading mojo is not quite up to par yet. Retention is difficult at times. I need to find the right balance of stress and relaxation so that my retention is better.

I have a few retro romances waiting for me to read them. I find I am developing preferences and dislikes. I don’t think movie star love stories thrill me much. The lifestyles of the uber rich likewise, unless written by Roberta Leigh because she excels at that stuff. The stories with  a young, ignorant nanny employed in the Bahamas doesn’t do it for me either, but there might be exceptions. I don’t mind the cowboy romances. Usually the dude is not a rich guy, machoing over someone. This is based on only limited number of books so far. Marriage of convenience stories are usually not bad. A lot of my selection appears to be Australian and New Zealand romances (funny that) and they are usually different from the English ones. It appears I have no Helen Bianchin so I’ll have to get some of those.

In other news, I went to listen to Dan O’Malley being interviewed by Colin Steele last night about his new book, Stiletto. The theatre was packed. Dan was amusing (as ever) and the signing queue long.

The Goodreads giveaway for Argenterra is progressing well. I’ve not ever done one before. I will post back here and let you know how it goes and what it means in the wash.

The link to the Giveaway is here.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a busy week. I’ve been working on an academic paper, my first. It was hard and it’s probably crap but I will have to wait to find out.  Other PdD candidates have told me the first is the hardest so thankfully I’m not alone in this.

Westcoast book reviews published the first review of Argenterra. And it was fab.

I’m happy that is positive of course, but I also appreciate the thoughtful comments and that the reviewer, Liz, totally got the book and loved the world of Argenterra.

Here is what she said about the given, Argenterra’s native magic.

“Argenterra’s magic, the given, permeates everyone and everything in the land. It’s used in everything from building and cooking to healing and holding the people to their oaths. I liked how the given not only weaves through the lives of the characters but through the story itself. The given has its own history, champions and enemies. The given lives through the story as a character in its own right, complete with unique relationships with other characters and a life changing challenge.”

The link to the full review is here.

Also the print run of Argenterra has arrived for my Sydney Supanova! I’m all set. I’ve also set up a give away on Goodreads, for Australia, USA, UK, NZ and for some unknown reason Romania! (ineptitude I suspect).

The link to the give away is here

The print book is beautiful! Les Petersen’s cover look fab in the flesh, or the print.

And in case that lovely review inspired you to try Argenterra. Below are the buy links.

Out now!

Argenterra, Silverlands Book 1.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

Buy links.

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Print elsewhere. Available from Createspace and Ingram Sparks.

Read Full Post »

So this week has been busy!

My son who works in China developing computer games was visiting this week. So there was him and grandchildren and daughters and stuff.

I read mostly romances this week and following on from my previous post, most had no social issues. The Charlotte Lamb I sampled were full on Bronte channeling with a rampaging Heathcliff in one. However, at present I am reading a Love Swept title featuring a deaf hero so of course it deals with discrimination. So I have a happy face.

My academic paper will be back in front of me on Monday. I was taking a breather and waiting for comments from my supervisor.

As for Canberra, it was chilly this week although today is glorious!

And for the other me, Dani Kristoff, this news.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last week I worked out that I was being too intense and trying too hard and that I’d burn out. Today after a four day weekend, I’m feeling relaxed but alert.

Today’s chore is to review all the research proposal material to submit it for ethics approval. The ethics approval process is very long. I would have given up on it I think if not for my supervisor Tony knowing what was to go where. Thanks Tony! I want to ask some romance readers and writers questions but I have to do the same process as if I was going to take tissue samples from them and combine their DNA with animals. Sigh!

But now that it is close to being done, I’m feeling quite good about it all. I would like a year of researching books and academic articles before formulating my questions but alas I have to think them up now. At present I’m hunting for some definitions of strong, female heroine in relation to popular romance. If you see one please give me a hoy! I’ll need this to do my introductory seminar but it would also be useful for the questionnaires.

When I’ve tidied up the above papers…quite a few of them, I need to start working on a paper to be included in a conference. I don’t get to present this paper as there are too many other people wanting too and well I’m just starting out so I’m at the bottom end of the pecking order. It is fantastic though that there is so much romance scholarship that there is an oversupply of presenters. However, I can write the paper so it can be peer reviewed etc. I wrote an extract in February. Now I have to get my head back into that space and write the bloody paper.

Meanwhile reading lots of articles etc which make ideas percolate all the time and sends my mind into hyperspace and back again so rapidly I spin on the spot.

image

Me, mother of swords, Queen of food

so I’m just doing the day in the life of a PhD candidate thing because that’s what I do these days.

PS We just blitz-watched Game of Throne season five. Nooo. Not Jon Snow!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »