Prose in the Park

Right now, I’m supposed to be at a booksigning in Ottawa called Prose in the Park. If you expected to see me there and didn’t, please accept my apologies for my absence.

I have been writing and publishing romantic fiction—and earning my living my doing so—since 1992. That’s more than 25 years of being involved with the literary community, reader conferences, book events and wholesale trade shows for the publishing industry. I have been surprised from the get-go at the lack of respect shown to commercial fiction authors, genre fiction authors and particularly romance authors at these events. I don’t understand why anyone feels it’s okay to be rude about other people’s reading choices, and I certainly don’t understand why organizers of events always skew in favor of authors of literary fiction—but they do. Somehow, authors who write literary fiction are deemed to be better and more valuable. It’s just one of those things, but over time, you can reach your limit.

Today I reached mine.

Let’s backtrack a bit. A year ago, I was invited by S.E. McEachern to come to Prose in the Park, to participate in a panel discussion with her and Eve Langlais on the romance genre, and to sell my books at the bookfair in the park. It sounded like a lovely way to spend a day, and to catch up with several other writers from the Ottawa RWA chapter who were also planning to attend, plus I knew that Eve and I would have a great chat. There was no compensation offered, likely because it was a small book fair with a small budget. Susan offered she would pay for my spot to sign, which was very gracious of her, so I agreed.

I subsequently received an invitation from the organizers of Prose to contribute to a fundraising program to help defray costs for authors who had to travel a distance to the event. Since I was making a six-hour drive each way and booking two nights in a hotel at my own expense to participate, I thought this was a bit cheeky. It is par for the course at a book event in Canada, though, so I bit my tongue and ignored the request.

This spring, I learned that our panel discussion would be in the last slot of the day, from 5PM to 6PM. The last slot on a Saturday book fair is often the one with the poorest attendance because attendees have gone home for dinner. Also, people tend to attend panels to learn about the authors in attendance, then buy books from authors who interest them. We would have no opportunity to capitalize on our participation in the panel discussion because the book fair would close by the time we were done. This was clearly just one of those things. The schedule was done and my trip was booked.

I arrived this morning to discover that the people speaking on panels were not to be given any visibility or signage. My space was half a 6-foot table to be shared with Eve—I knew I’d be sharing, and sharing with Eve would be fun. There were six romance authors under this tent, each with the same space allotment, and we moved things around to give some visibility to ORWA and their membership drive. We were all set up when another author arrived and insisted that the spot with my books was her spot and that my books should move. Such mix-ups happen, but are usually sorted out to the satisfaction of everyone involved. In this particular case, this author insisted upon having this very spot, and the organizer supported her. I was to shove along, into Eve’s space, and make do. We six should share five spaces, so this writer could have what she wanted, even all of the spaces were paid. The organizer didn’t even come over to speak to us about it. It wasn’t important.

I think it was the way the other author poked at my books, like they were something that should have been scraped off her shoe, that pushed me over the edge. That the organizer believed his solution was acceptable—and that we romance writers should just be nice and make it work—convinced me that there was no point in discussing anything with him.

We are nice. We do make do. Eve was scooting her stuff over to make room for me—so we’d be sharing her space—and Susan put some of my postcards at the front of the table, but I’d reached my limit. I’m tired of being nice when other people are rude. I’m tired of being expected to accept crumbs from the table because I write genre fiction. I packed up my books instead of playing along this time. I had a walk around the event, took a deep breath and decided that it was a lovely June day. Instead of making do with what Prose in the Park thought I should find satisfactory because I write romantic fiction, I took my husband out for lunch.

So, if I missed you at the event today, I’m sorry. I have a feeling, though, that if you’re a romance reader or writer, you’ll understand why I wasn’t there.

RTC and BookCon

May is here, which means I’ll be attending two reader conferences back-to-back.

f3a66-rtc2015The first is Romancing the Capital, organized by Eve Langlais, which will be held in Ottawa May 5 – 8. This is the second year for this reader conference, and I’m sure it will be even more fun than it was last year. I’m teaching a workshop on Thursday, then will be on a couple of panels and have my own Knights vs. Dragons session again. There are theme parties on Friday and Saturday night, and a big booksigning on Saturday afternoon. The conference is sold out, but the booksigning is open to the public. If you’re attending, be sure to say hello!

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixI’ll come home, turn around, and fly to Chicago for BookCon on Saturday May 14. This reader event is always scheduled at the end of BookExpo America, and has been an amazing event when I’ve participated before. I’ll be signing in the RWA booth (#1712) at noon on Saturday. I’ll have copies of The Crusader’s Bride to give away, as well as print copies of my 2016 Sampler.

Wyvern's Mate, book #1 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeThere’s been an exciting addition to my plans for both conferences. I’ll have some print copies of Wyvern’s Mate for both events. These paperbacks are in a smaller size I haven’t used before, which is closer to a mass market paperback. I think they’re so cute!

Romancing the Capital & Signed Books

f3a66-rtc2015I’ll be attending the Romancing the Capital Reader Conference in May, and am really looking forward to it. It was a fun conference last year (its first) and the second year promises to be even better. This year, in addition to the games, dinners, panel discussions and spotlights on individual authors, there will be some classes for aspiring writers on the day before the other activities begin. I’ll be teaching, as well as participating in several panel discussions.

The conference is sold out, but there may be some people with changed plans. If you want to attend, visit the RTC Facebook group and/or contact Eve Langlais, who is organizing the event. Her email is on the RTC site right here. At this writing, there are still some places available without meal tickets. (You could attend my Knights vs Dragons session or our panel discussion Dragons are a Girl’s Best Friend.) If you’re interested, contact Eve and she might be able to find a solution for you.

99e8c-bannersIf you’re attending the conference, I’ll look forward to seeing you there! You’ll find me pretty easily. I have a number of events on the schedule, plus I’ll be taking the boys. These banners are six feet tall.

If you’re NOT attending the conference, you can still attend the booksigning, which is open to the public.

Last year, the booksigning was CRAZY! Most authors sold out of books very quickly. So, if there’s a specific title of mine that you’d like to get at the booksigning, I strongly recommend that you pre-order it. There’s a limit to how many books I can bring and I don’t want you to be disappointed. I have a pre-order form for books for the conference right here.

I’ve also added a new option to my online store for pick-up of signed print books, with RTC as one of the possible locations. There are more backlist print titles and editions in the store than on the Google form, but I won’t bring any of these unless they’re ordered in advance. Some quantities are limited, also, like the number of complete sets of Dragonfire in mass market available. As usual, you can choose to pre-pay for your books with Paypal, Mastercard or Visa, or you can pay cash at the event. They’ll be set aside for you, either way.