Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Benefits Of Attending RT Conventions

It’s my pleasure to have bestselling author, Brenda Jackson, as my guest Over Coffee. Brenda has written for St. Martins Press, BET, Kensington, NAL, Harlequin/Silhouette and Harlequin Kimani Romance. She recently signed a five-year exclusive contract with Harlequin and will be able to bring all her books to one publishing home.

Long before I met Brenda, I was impressed with her warmth and genuine care for her fans and fellow authors. When I met her this past week I saw another side of her. Yes, she is very personable and friendly, but she is also a savvy businesswoman, with sharp insight regarding writing and the current market. I was able to attend some of the workshops where she was a panelist and I was impressed with her practical knowledge.

Brenda shares some thoughts with us about attending and preparing for writing conferences, and in particular, Romance Times Convention.

Going to the Romantic Times Conventions always energize me, although I returned this time with a little cold because this Florida girl didn’t properly prepare for the Ohio weather. But while I was there I could not get enough of meeting with everyone, seeing my readers and meeting with fellow authors.

I’m often asked from readers what should they get out of attending a writer/reader conference? First, always remember you can only get something out of it if you put something into it. When going to any convention you should prepare yourself before hand with what will be going on at that conference.

Anyone attending a RT conference should get plenty of rest beforehand. Why? Because you need to be prepared for non-stop fun. One thing I enjoy about this particular conference is that it is so reader friendly and there are so many activities for both the reader and the writer, no matter where you are in your growth as an author.

As a reader it can introduce you to other type of writings than what you are presently reading such as mystery, paranormal, suspense etc, and as a writer it holds workshops to help you perfect your craft.

And then after a full day of various workshops, there are the parties every night to help you unwind. And they aren’t just your typical parties, these are the kinds that get everyone involved.

I enjoy going to RT conference to meet my readers, to discuss with them what they like about my books, what they don’t like, and things they would like seeing more of. And if you’re a reader it’s a place to mix and mingle with other readers and meet your favorite authors.

For authors it’s a place to determine what’s hot and what’s not, and to find out the changing trends. Over the years the expectation in romance stories for both the reader and the writer have changed, and as a writer I need to know that. I shouldn’t assume the way I was writing my romance stories years ago is the same way readers want to read them today. As an author I should be open enough to respect my readers and to believe they know what they want to read, and not particularly what I want them to read just because I might refuse to change my writing style.

For instance for today’s romance stories, hot is in. I’ve always wrote spicy and steamy romantic stories, but once in a while you have to turn the heat up a little more. Does that mean the story will no longer be romantic? Not true. The romance is in the individuals, not in what they do in the bedroom. Boy meets girl and boy and girl get together in the end in a happy ending. How they get from A to Z and how they take care their business in the bedroom and how often, is not what determines whether or not it’s a romantic story.

No one author can define what romance is or assume that they can. I think as authors it is important that we don’t decide that we are all knowing in what readers should be reading. Who are we to make this decision for them? We should make sure we’re flexible enough to change our writing to what people are reading while keeping true to what we’re comfortable in writing. The key to remember is the word change. The only thing constant in this world is change. Be ready for it.

There is a place for all kinds of romantic stories, the sweet to the steamy to the blazing hot. But just because you write the sweet isn’t a reason for you to assume everyone should be writing sweet as well. Or just because your hero and heroine prefer making love strictly in the bedroom is no reason for you to expect others to follow suit.

The same thing for readers. There are so many types of romantic stories out there, and you know what you enjoy reading. Don’t assume everyone should be reading the level of sensuality that you’re reading.

I suggest to readers to know those authors who continue to deliver the type of stories they enjoy reading. And to authors, to make sure you know your readers and write the type of story you’re comfortable in writing, but one that will be embrace by the wants and needs of your readers. It’s not my place to dictate what readers should be reading or dictate to those authors what they should be writing. There is a market for every type or story. Sky is the limit. Know your audience and write a good story for them.

So what do you think about the changing trend of romance going from sweet to hot? Do you think the level of sensuality in a book determines if it’s romantic or not?

Do you think a love scene that’s placed in the first chapter will automatically make the story not romantic?

Who should define what’s romantic and what is not romantic? Author or reader?

What are your thoughts?

Spontaneous Back Cover:

She never saw him coming...

Kimani Cannon knows she's in trouble the second she lays eyes on 6'4" of luscious male. The best kind of trouble, too…mm-mmm! Duan Jeffries turns out to be the perfect man—charming, considerate…and the best lover she's ever had. Too bad Mr. Delicious is just a one-night stand….

Until Kim needs a date to her mother's (fifth) wedding! Duan's willing to act the part of her fiancé…as long as it means full benefits. More amazing sex? No problem!

Then Kim finds out that Duan's got his own private agenda. Suddenly, she doesn't know what to believe. Her head and heart are telling her to be careful. But the sensual thrumming in her blood is turning out to be much more persuasive….

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Brenda is a die-“heart” romantic who married her childhood sweetheart and still proudly wears the "going steady" ring he gave her when she was 15. Because she began believing very early in the power of love and romance, she can't help but write stories with happy endings. She is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 70 romance novels and looks forward to increasing that number. She and her husband live in the city where they were born, Jacksonville, Florida, and have two sons. She has a B.S. in business administration and retired from a management position with a major insurance company.

She loves to weave love stories and it is the highlight of her day. She and her husband spend time together traveling and discovering romantic places she could use as settings in her books.

Brenda would love to hear from her readers and you can find her on her website and she's on FaceBook, MySpace, and on eHarlequin (which will give you a list of books available and soon to be released).


COMING NEXT MONTH (JUNE 2010): Brenda's 75th book, Hidden Pleasures.



~Sia McKye~ said...

Brenda, I'm so glad you're visiting with us.

Help yourself to the coffee Bar and homemade goodies. I have a nice comfortable chairs for you to sit in. :-)

I totally agree with you on preparing for writing conferences. I learned so much on trends this time at RT.

Melissa said...

Ooh, goodies? I WANT!! Great blog, Brenda ~~ and yeah, I see what you mean about the REST before RT, lol.
For me, as a romance reader, the only REAL requirement that I have is an HEA. As long as that is present, I'm willing to give any book a shot. And I believe you can have a sex scene kick off a book and build the romance from there ~~ It's worked for me when I've read books like that. I think it's all about the characters, and the story they tell. I don't want to tell authors how to write their books ~~ I'm totally NOT a writer, and love to be surprised w/ what a writer comes up w/. I admit sometimes I might be dissapointed, but more often than not I'm pleasantly surprised w/ where an author will take me that I hadn't thought about.

Netti said...

Hi Brenda & Siadahlink :D

I missed meeting you at RT Brenda!! *sad* :( As for love scenes in the first chapter... I'm not a big one for those. I need to be invested in the H/H before we get to that point. But as for who "makes" the romance; I think that is both the Author & the reader. What I think of as a romance may not necessarily be what someone else thinks *shrug* Just my .02.

Hope to meet you at another conference in the future!


Kat Sheridan said...

Brenda, so nice to meet you, and interesting to hear your take on current trends. What I love most is your willingness to be flexible and to pay attention to the reader's needs. As you say, romance is in the eyes of the reader, and lucky us, there are so many wonderful choices these days, and so many wonderful authors! And congrats on the five-year exclusive! How wonderful!

~Sia McKye~ said...

If I pretend I'm someone else, you think I could get one of those books Brenda?

I can imagine writing my 75th book. When I grow up I want to be like Brenda Jackson. :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

What a great article! Brenda, I love what you said about.. well, I'll just cut and paste: "No one author can define what romance is or assume that they can. I think as authors it is important that we don’t decide that we are all knowing in what readers should be reading." That, and that the heat level doesn't determine whether or not a particular book is a romance. So true!

I am in full on RT envy...

Toni said...

Ms Brenda, know that I am not shocked to see the love shown to you by people who are meeting you for the first time. As a longtime fan and friend I say Amen to all of there comments. In the dictionary not to the word "Gracious" shoud be your picture. Love you Brends.

Toni Bonita

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda!

I love reading some of the hot books and I love the more romantic books as well, just depends on my mood. I am putting your books on my TBR list, they sound great!

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Brenda,

great blog. I read hot and sweet books, and it's really a mood thing which one I pick up out my tbr pile.

I have been to three RT's so I can only second that about the rest before RT.

Melissa Baudin said...

Hi Brenda,

I am a die hard fan, after not reading for years I picked up one of your books last year and have pretty much tracked down the rest and can say that I am pretty much caught up. I enjoy the fact that even though you right romances no two stories are quite the same and the level of heat is different on each.

Keep up the good work!!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Melissa Baudin, I have yet read all her books but I'm on a hunting trip to find more books of her two Series.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Netti! Thanks for stopping by hon. As a bookseller, checking out Brenda's series would be great, especially for your customers.

Brenda said...

Sia, you make the best coffee! Thanks. I appreciate everyone stopping in to visit me over coffee. Appreciate the comments and I agree with the mood thing. Some days when I do have the time to read instead of write, I might prefer a novel that's sweet. But once in a while I want to cuddle down and read a book that's so hot it might just burn your fingers. (LOL). I am ready for RT 2011!!


Terry's Crafty Fingers said...

So what do you think about the changing trend of romance going from sweet to hot? Do you think the level of sensuality in a book determines if it’s romantic or not?

I like soft and sweet at times, but I LOVE hot and spicy also. No it does not determine if a book is romantic. The back story and/or in between does. What I'm trying to say is what they do in their normal lives and how they treat each other makes it romantic.

Do you think a love scene that’s placed in the first chapter will automatically make the story not romantic?

It depends upon how it is written. Personally I like the build up. You know it's coming but you just have to wait. Watch the explosion when it does happen...LOL.

Who should define what’s romantic and what is not romantic? Author or reader?

I would think a little of both. The author has to write what feels right, but the reader has to like it or they won't purchase the book.

This book sounds like a great read. I look forward to finding it.

Other Lisa said...

Seventy. Five. Books.

Okay, I'm exhausted just reading that!

I think what Brenda said is exactly right. Not every book is for every reader. Otherwise we'd only need a couple of books a year!

WK said...

Humm what an interesting and exhausting blog! ROFL.

As for your questions, I think it's each readers thoughts that will make a book romantic or not. Just because you find something to be sweet doesn't mean I will. But then there are times when I'll be reading and I wonder why that scene was even needed or why the author had to use the more graphic words rather than just saying it and moving on.


Judi Fennell said...

Now why am I not surprised that Sia managed to snag you for an interview? ;) The woman definitely knows how to network!

Great interview, Brenda. I'm still on RT time, I think, trying to get caught up.

pam hansen said...

Brenda Jackson is an awesome romance writer. Her characters are always complexbut identifiable. I look at the story as "foreplay" and that is what I love about her books. They always take me back to a wonderful feeling I used to experience with my husband of 30 yrs. The sex scenes are great but it's the road the lovers travel that I find so wonderful and passionate.

Bronwyn said...

Hi Brenda =)

Great interview! As to your questions... I really think if sex in the first chapter is called for then why not? If it moves the story along and sets up the characters for the rest of book, their motivations, maybe guilt, maybe they want more sex, then there's a story in itself. But we have to remember that sex isn't always born of romance. It isn't romantic to pick up a girl in a bar and take her upstairs to your hotel room and shag her silly. But! If the hero is trying to forget a lost partner or that he was cheated on or that he wants to blow off steam because his father told him he's not good enough for any woman, it gives him believable motive. For her, she may have seen the pain in his eyes, feel the pull that draws her to him is just too strong to ignore. One thing leads to another and wham, she comforts him in the only way that will work. It goes from meaningless sex to two people needing and giving to each other which in my book, (pardon the pun) is romantic.
But sometimes sex throws it out. Take historical for example. If the hero and heroine have sex in the first chapter of a Regency, there had better be a damned good reason for it, or I'm going to close the book. Kim Killion told me once that in order to ramp up the tension, sometimes you have to leave off the kisses and lovemaking until your characters and readers can't stand to wait another minute! Made my first three chapters so much more powerful. But then I have a wannabe Blaze that has sex in the first couple of pages and doesn't stop for 55,000 words.
Anyway, what I guess I'm saying is the motivation makes the difference between a romantic moment and a slutty one. Not just the writer or the reader.


Claritta S. said...

I love attending reader/author conferences. I love meeting fellow avid readers especially romance readers.

I've had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Brenda. Love her. :-)

I don't think level of sensuality in a book determines romance. I love a variety from spicy to tame.

No, sex early on doesn't make a story unromantic. Many pages left for the romance to develop. Sex early in the story works for some stories. Sometimes it creates more tension in the story when they move from sex to trying to develop a relationship.

Who should define what’s romantic and what is not romantic? Author or reader?

I think ultimately an author has to write their story as they see it. If an author tries to write based on their readers, they will never get it right. Too many readers to satisfy. Not every story is for every reader. That's the great thing about having such a vast list of authors and romance lines to choose from.

La Tiscia said...

I cannot wait! I haven't been able to read anything for months, but that stops with this!

Ladysilver said...

Wonderful interview. I agree with everything you have to say about Mrs Jackson. I have had the pleasure of meeting her on 2 different occassions here in Jacksonville. I enjoy the changing trends in romance and sex at the beginning does not ruin a romance for me. Everyone's idea of romance is different, but Mrs Jackson hits it right on the nose.

~Sia McKye~ said...

My goodness, step away from the computer for a few hours (work stuff) and all these fun people pop in.

It truly was an honor to meet Brenda and I love her thoughts on writing and the market.

As for romance--in my opinion, whether it's spicy/hot or sweet doesn't matter if the author doesn't engage me. If he/she weaves a good adventure, great characters, I like it both ways. I think authors have to keep an eye on the market but not at the expense of telling a great story with emotional impact. I think Brenda manages that very well. :-)

Brenda said...

Thanks for all the comments and as you can see it's now Thursday morning and I'm still up writing. About to go to bed now though. I hope I'll be able to visit again tomorrow so Sia, get your coffee ready. I plan to get up around 10:00 am

Goodnight or good morning!

tonya kappes said...

HI Brenda!! I am sooo mad that I didn't go to RT. That is so close to my house (cincy) and Nashville is too. So I picked Nationals. AND now that it's been moved to Florida, I won't be able to go there either! I should've just went to RT. I'm so jealous. I'll be in Disney two weeks before Nationals. Going twice isn't an option in a family of six.

~Sia McKye~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Sia McKye~ said...


I always have fresh coffee going here. I don't do whimpy coffee either. They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but for this writer girl, I say chocolate is, followed closely by good strong coffee. Not that I'd say no to diamonds, lolol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I got to thinking about how you said:

"to authors, to make sure you know your readers and write the type of story you’re comfortable in writing, but one that will be embrace by the wants and needs of your readers."

Places like RT do help an author keep their finger on, not only the market, but on what your readers like. You meet up with readers, agents, and publishers at RT so you get a better look at romance as a whole. Or at least I did.

Alyson Reuben said...

Wow, an interview with Brenda! Such a fantastic author - I've read several of her books. She's AWESOME!

Like Sia, I got to thinking about what Brenda said: " make sure you know your readers and write the type of story you’re comfortable in writing, but one that will be embrace by the wants and needs of your readers."

This is so difficult sometimes. *sign* Although there seems to be readers for nearly every kind of book, it's hard to say whether your story will fit into any particular set of readers. It can be very daunting. Especially since the market changes and fluctuates so rapidly. By the time one story is finished and pubbed, the 'trend' may change. The only way I know to write is to go with the story that's begging to be let out from inside me. I can then try to adapt it to what I feel readers will want. But it seems like such a fine line.

I really, really need to attend a RT convention!

Brenda said...

Glad to read more comments from today. Thanks to everyone for taking time to enjoy coffee and chat a while. Yes, RWA has been changed to Orlando, which is 2 hours away from where I reside. I know RT will be in Los Angeles in 2011, so if you can go, please do so, and remember to rest up before you get there.