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Lady Smutters Out and About…and Causing Trouble

17 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Okay, the causing trouble aspect might be a wee bit subjective, but Madeline Iva came home from the Washington Romance Writers Blogger and Reader Luncheon with a bag of (very cool) skull jewelry, so really, anything goes.

But you, lovely Lady Smutters, already knew that.

Last week, I posted about how our Lady Smut bloggers were out and about in the real world. This past weekend, I was bouncing around the New Jersey Romance Writers annual Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Two days talking about books and publishing and romance. Oh my!

Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore was also there, but she’s wily and slick, so though we caught glimpses of one another and even one side-arm hug, unfortunately there’s no evidence (i.e. a photo) of us in the same place. Bestselling authors HelenKay Dimon, Tessa Dare, and Terri Brisbin graced us with their publishing and writing experience and wisdom. I unfortunately missed Tessa Dare’s special presentation (in my defense, it was very early in the morning), but greatly enjoyed both HelenKay and Terri’s wit and insight.

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With HelenKay Dimon at the conference

Conference keynote speaker, HelenKay Dimon, spoke passionately about why reading matters, why it is so important. We don’t read only to escape or for stress relief or to indulge in fantasy. We read to survive. To escape bullying. To escape family illness or tragedy. To believe and feel better and to figure out how to defeat the monsters in our lives. In books, the bad guys are defeated, and that gives us hope that the bad guys in life can be defeated too.

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Worst margarita ever. No, REALLY.

“I have never felt guilty for reading a book,” HelenKay said. “Love is empowering. It has the ability to take us to a different place, to make us feel great.” In romance novels, she said, women are the heroines of their own stories (sound familiar?). To the hero, no matter how plain or regular or normal or whatever, to the hero, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. “In romances, there are women who are comfortable in their sexuality and men who celebrate it. Romance is about hope that you can overcome, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made or how flawed your past is, that someone will love you for you. When someone writes that romance doesn’t matter, my answer is ‘kiss my ass!’.”

Preach it, HelenKay.

Luncheon speaker, Terri Brisbin, spoke about the rules of writing–write what you know, make sure hero and heroine meet within first 10 pages, write the breakout book, blah blah blah. According to Terri, none of them really matter. Terri counseled that only three rules were important: If you want to be a writer, you have to write, and you have to find the time in your life to do it whatever your challenges. Tied in with that advice is that you have to read, you have to keep reading to refresh the well that hydrates your writing. She also advises to gather good people around you and hold on to them. “Trying to be a creative person in a business world is hell, unless you have good people around you,” she said. “Sometimes, they’re right there with you and you don’t even know it.” Finally, as a dental hygienist, Terri emphasized the only one true thing in life that everyone must do: “brush and floss two times a day.”

 

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First-line bingo fun

On Sunday, after the conference, we had the inaugural NJRW Hearts & Sparks Reader and Blogger Brunch. Here writers mixed and mingles with readers and bloggers with a delicious full brunch. First-line bingo sheets were employed as a fun, interactive ice-breaker where guests had to find out which first line on the bingo sheet came from what author’s book. Given my book WILD ON THE ROCKS starts with the line “Check the stalls.” I got a lot of people wondering just what kind of stall was being employed–and exactly what they were doing in the stall! Naturally, I told them to read the book and find out! Okay, I gave in and told ’em because I hate waiting. But still!

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First-line bingo fun

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Swag tables at the brunch

It was so wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic readers and bloggers–people who love passionately love romance novels. As bestselling historical romance novelist Tessa Dare noted, we sit behind our computers and laptops all day, in our PJs or our yoga pants or whatever (I’m writing this wearing a new nightie, FTR. TMI? Oh well.) and we so rarely get to meet in person the people for whom we’re writing (after ourselves, naturally). And that’s you, lovely readers and Lady Smutters, and that’s why we have our MEET page here on Lady Smut, so that you can come on out and meet us and, even better, we can meet *you*.

Plus, ya know, free stuff.

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Giveaway!

That’s right! I have goodies for you–free, author signed books, including the super sexy MINE by HelenKay Dimon,  one of three Scottish medieval adventures from Terri Brisbin, and Tessa Dare’s new historical regency romance A WEEK TO BE WICKED. Subscribe to our Lady Smut newsletter and/or click the FOLLOW button, and then leave us a shot of the confirmation in the comments along with your choice of the above pictured books. I’ll do a random selection and post the winners on next Monday’s post.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll give you lots of reasons to keep reading to survive.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Lady Smutters Out in the Real World

10 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

From time to time, we here at Lady Smut step away from our laptops, peek cautiously out the door, and venture out into the real world.

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Okay, not really. We tend to go charging out into trouble. Making it if we can’t find it, because what fun is that?

It occurred to us that you, lovely readers, might want to find us out in the wild to chat or hang, share a coffee or a drink, talk romance and/or get a book signed. To this end, we created the MEET US page, right there up in the right-hand corner of the page. There you’ll find where *we* can be found throughout the year. We’ll be updating it regularly, so make sure you keep checking it for new events.

Talk about a timely initiative because we’re already heating up the cooler days of Autumn. Last weekend found Lady Smut bloggers Madeline Iva, Alexa Day, and Elisabeth SaFleur at the Washington Romance Writers Readers & Bloggers Luncheon. (I’m sure there’ll be more detail on that exciting event later in the week.) If you missed it this year, be sure to get it on your calendars for 2017.

Next weekend, it’s my turn as I’ll be at the New Jersey Romance Writers Hearts & Sparks Reader and Blogger Appreciation Brunch. I’ll have some packets of goodies ready to go for those lucky enough to join me at my table and a few extras to random attendees. This brunch follows the conclusion of the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, where you’ll not only find me floating around instigating trouble good times (let’s be honest, usually in the bar), but Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore will also be in attendance!

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Next year, Elisabeth SaFleur is taking another wild ride at the Wild Wicked Weekend in San Antonio while a veritable passel of Lady Smug bloggers will be present at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in Atlanta, GA for our first ever Lady Smut Panel!

And we’re just getting started!

 

For romance novel professionals–authors, bloggers, readers, editors, publishers, etc.–conferences and conventions are like the mothership calling us home. I know for me, it’s a step away from real life, the day-to-day of day jobs (for those of us for whom writing and/or publishing aren’t our day jobs, that is) and family responsibilities. It’s a chance to be with people who know and love romance, who speak the same language whether they prefer sweet or sexy, HEA or HFN, military or Amish. I love these times when I’m with my tribe, be it on a national level at the yearly RWA conference, regional at NJRW’s conference, or every month with my local chapter. Meeting readers is a new aspect for me, and one I love more and more with every new person, that thrill of knowing I gave someone an hour or two of entertainment as they delved into the story and characters I created. This will be my first conference with a book on sale where I’ll be participating in reader-focused events, and I genuinely cannot wait.

So be sure to hit up our MEET UP page for ongoing updates about the wheres and whens of Lady Smut Bloggers out in the real world. I hope to see some of you next weekend–or surely, someplace soon.

Follow Lady Smut. In the real-world or out of it, we don’t disappoint.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

 

Read it already! A writer’s confession.

12 Aug

by Isabelle Drake

I’m not so great at reading my own writing aloud. Sure, I’ve done it. For small groups, large groups, for college credit, and a couple weeks ago, for fun.

For fun? Well, sort of. Partly for fun, partly out of curiosity and well, yeah, I also did it for promotion. Promotion! Marketing! These are topics writers are encour50s-pin-up-girl-picturesaged to think about all the time.

  • Where are you going to promote your new release?
  • How’re you going to promote your backlist?
  • What about your work-in-progress makes it marketable?
  • How are you reaching new readers?

You get the idea. We’re encouraged to try new marketing strategies–all the time. We should be innovative and exciting. Relevant. We must keep up with our blogs, twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. On the side, we’re also writing.

That’s a lot of pressure. No, not the writing. That’s not pressure. That’s fun. We’re writers, so creating stories and torturing characters, that’s what we do. It’s that marketing and promotion stuff that stresses us out. Not because we don’t want to do it, don’t understand it, or even because we’re not good at it. It’s because there’s always something newer, fresher, and more exciting we need to do. Right now that new fresh thing is Facebook Live.

Now here’s my confession. I don’t care that I’m not good at reading my work aloud.

NVP final coverI’m a writer. I write stories for other people to read. I love crafting stories and I’m thrilled that I have readers who support my work. Isn’t that what matters? The words on the page? The story? I think so. I probably shouldn’t admit this either, but I think its funny that I’m not a great performing-author. Sure, on occasion, I have pulled myself together and done a fine, if not good, job at reading. Like when I did my MFA graduate reading. But for the most part, I’m happy to hand over my work for other people to read (inside their head) and enjoy (without me there staring at them).

So, if you haven’t guessed already, I did a live reading of my new release, BAIT, from New Vintage Press, on Facebook. I was at the Romance Writers of America national convention, standing on my balcony in San Diego, wearing my favorite Hello Kitty t-shirt, and I did it. I hit go live. I said, hi, showed people around, then read.

 

Yeah, it was promotional, but more important to me, it was fun. Will I do it again? Sure. Will I worry about how well I perform? Nope. Not at all. The only thing I’ll be concerned about it whether or not people have a good time.

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Here at Lady Smut, we love to know what’s on your mind, so comment and let us know what you’re thinking. And follow too, for all the news you need–and want.

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Want to check out Isabelle Drake’s next live reading? Come find her on Facebook. Cuckold Beach 3, her newest release is the third in her smexy Cuckold Beach series is available now for preorder.

Finding Your Tribe–A Guest Post From Jessica Scott

8 Aug

Note from Kiersten: In keeping with my unofficial military theme these past weeks, I invited military romance writer Jessica Scott to guest post at Lady Smut today. I first became aware of Jessica when she was serving in Iraq and Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books put together a book drive to send romance novels over to Jessica in an effort to ease the strain of war. Since then, Jessica has become a personal pal and a huge inspiration. I admire her greatly for her service, her writing, her many academics accomplishments (she currently teaches at West Point Academy while pursuing a PhD), and her emotional books that take a frank and often decidedly unromantic view of soldiers returning from war–and all they may bring back with them. I’m delighted to have Lady Smut host her perceptive reflection on the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference and the concept of “tribe”–a watchword I heard a LOT at the conference–today.

Welcome Jessica!

At RWA this year, I noticed a pretty big shift in the conference. Well, there were several, but a couple really stood out to me.

Jessica Scott

We made room at the table. The Romance Writers of America has been struggling to find its voice when it comes to welcoming all members–authors of color have been remarking for years that there have been deep, systemic problems at the conference. But recently, the RWA board has started listening. This year, there weren’t just panels on diversity–diverse authors were mainstream, even featured at both the Keynote luncheon and the Librarian Day luncheon. Authors like Beverly Jenkins who started her speech by discussing slave narratives that had informed her writing. It was an amazing, powerful speech and what’s better is that she didn’t change anything because her audience was largely white women. Sherry Thomas talked about her journey from China to America and how she learned English through reading romance novels. But more, she spoke about her struggles with postpartum depression–a struggle many of us went through in shame and secrecy because what could possibly be so wrong with us that welcoming our child into the world wasn’t the joyous commercial break we saw on TV?

These authors spoke about the things that connect us. In our case, it was our collective love of romance. Each of us came to our place in the romance world through different means. I started writing when I was in officer candidate school, when I was away from my kids for the first time. I kept writing through my deployment in Iraq and through what were arguably the roughest years of my life as I transitioned back to being a mom after only being a soldier.

Click on image to buy!

I distinctly remember an author posting a blog years ago when I was first starting out about how a woman wrote to her about the impact her books have had on her life. See, she was going through genital reconstruction after have been subjected to female genital mutilation. And this author’s books made her realize that there was hope, that maybe she could find pleasure one day.

Each of our romance journeys are different. Each of us comes to the table from a different place. But the thing about RWA this year that made me tear up several times was that we demonstrated there was room at the table for all of our stories. Writing and publishing is not a zero sum game. Sure, there are finite number of readers out there, but that’s not what I get out of the RWA national conference.

I get to reach out and connect with part of my tribe. I get to reconnect with women who get what it’s like to try and write when you’ve got kids in the house. I get to connect with fellow readers and gush about books we’re supposed to be ashamed of but aren’t. Because these are our stories. They come from a place within us that is very personal to each and every one of us. Our stories connect us with readers–men and women–out in the world.

Before I Fall

Click on image to buy!

That’s what was so important about the RWA national conference this year. We opened the hidden door and talked about our struggles. We acknowledged that depression is real and it’s dark and it’s scary–but that you are not alone. We made room at the table for diverse voices and learned that ours are not muted because we add to them, rather that we are all lifted up when our voices are combined.

I left RWA this year feeling re-energized in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I needed this reconnection with my tribe. To sit around with other moms who were enjoying time away from mom duty and laugh about the crazy things our kids did. To be around other writers who were struggling. To be the voice in someone else’s head when they need someone to drown out their own because their own is toxic at the moment.

I hope the changes we saw at this  RWA conference stick. I want us to continue to lift each other up. To stop pretending that life is the five minutes of perfection we see on Facebook and to connect with the real people out there in the world. To reconnect with our tribe. Who lifts us up.

Jessica Scott is the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is an active duty army officer, a veteran of the Iraq war, is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO. She and her family are currently wherever the army has sent her. She has written for the New York Times At War blog, War on the Rocks, PBS Point of View Women and War and has been featured in Esquire Magazine as an American of the Year in 2012. She has published 11 novels and novellas about soldiers returning from war and has hit the USA Today Bestseller list twice. She has compiled two nonfiction projects about her time in Iraq and the return home. She has recently completed a Master’s degree in sociology from Duke, a Master’s degree in Telecom Management from University of Maryland University College, and a BA in Cultural Studies from State University of New York. She is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology. Learn more at http://www.jessicascott.net

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