Category Archives: General

Babs’ RT17 Recap

Oh my goodness – this post has been ready since the middle of June, so the tardiness is my fault. Apologies to Babs!! Anyway, it’s still always fun to hear about peoples conference experiences, so enjoy!

Do you want to hang out with hundreds of fellow romance fans for up to 6 days and geek out over books? Do you want the opportunity to meet hundreds of romance authors all in one place? Check out RT! (Maybe–see notes below.)

If you’re not familiar, RT Booklovers Convention or RT is hosted by RT Book Reviews each year. It’s a traveling convention and occurs during a April-May timeframe. Reader events run Tuesday through Sunday. The focus is romance novels but you’ll see non-romance authors there from mystery, suspense/thriller, etc. RT17 was my fifth RT and was in Atlanta May 2-7. I attended RT in:

  • 2013 in Kansas City
  • 2014 in New Orleans (my fave so far)
  • 2015 in Dallas
  • 2016 in Las Vegas

Agenda. RT can be as busy and crowd filled as you want. I am pretty selective in the events I attend. Some readers go for the reader parties with all the goody bags and free books and have complex scheduling strategies. I know others spend a lot of time socializing in the hotel bar with friends they only see at RT. I’m somewhere in the middle now. A few reader events, some panels, maybe one evening party. I leave plenty of time for food, relaxing/hanging out, and a little sightseeing. Use the RT app or the paper agenda if you’re like me and need to HAVE A PLAN. I like variety in my panels and reader events and try to hit different sub genres.

Highlights. My con kicked off Tuesday night with Cinema Craptastique hosted by fab author Damon Suede. I highly recommend checking this out if you go to RT or Coastal Magic Con. Damon spends hours watching terrible movies, researching, and then delivers an incredible, snark-filled commentary for the year’s pick. Folks at home can follow along on Twitter. This year’s movie was Mariah Carey’s Glitter. I also enjoyed large amounts of junk food and there were tons of giveaways.

Wednesday was the welcome breakfast from RT. I attended a couple of reader events. The ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books held their first Reader Recommendation party last year and it was one of the best events of my RT last year. The same this year–I was not missing this one! They share their recommendations and then the audience shares their recs plus giveaways! I attended a Historical panel–Welcome to Americana with wonderful authors Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, Kate McMurray, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe, and Kianna Alexander. I went to one of the evening events then wrapped up for the night.

Thursday started off…frustrating. My first event was the Harlequin party. I arrived 45 minutes early and there was already quite a line. I immediately got in line for Tiffany Reisz to make sure I got a signed copy of her book. I didn’t make it any further on my list (remember HAVE A PLAN from above?) because the other authors were running out of books. Not cool. Better events Thursday–Heroines: You Can Have It All panel with Alisha Rai, HelenKay Dimon, and Sonali Dev (watch the panel here); Romance, Bollywood Style with Sonali Dev, MK Schiller, Amalie Howard, Shaila Patel, Sienna Snow (Bollywood movie clips! Beautiful goodie bags! And I talked to a lady in line who loves Sonali Dev and was so cute when Sonali walked by–“Is that her? Oh my gosh!”); Kensington Peaches & Cream party (books from Jeffe Kennedy and Alyssa Cole and an ARC from Sonali Dev).

Friday was my busiest day. I did a Meet & Greet signing with Christina Lauren first thing (and thoroughly embarrassed myself by spilling my coffee right behind them but I’m trying to erase that from my memory 😳). Right before my first panel I caught the end of a publisher showcase (for booksellers and librarians) and they were offering up tons of free books! Score (for my mom and a friend mostly, but still)! Then my day really started and I went to the Steam vs. Scream panel with Jennifer Estep, Chloe Neill, Jeffe Kennedy, Julie Ann Walker, Amanda Bonilla, HD Smith (Grace Draven and Amanda Bouchet were also in the room and it was so hard to be chill about it!). I attended Geeks Who Drink: Author Edition trivia game which was fun. Next was a huge, must-attend reader event every year–the Friday Avon party. I planned my schedule so I would have plenty of time to get a good spot in line (hopefully), have 30 minutes in the event, then run to a live recording of SBTB podcast. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The doors opened over 30 minutes late! I ended up getting out of line 30 minutes after the scheduled start because I had no idea when the doors for Avon would open and I didn’t want to miss the podcast recording. This was the ONLY event Ilona Andrews was appearing at besides the awards ceremony and they had early copies of White Hot. I also missed getting a signed book from Alisha Rai! Ugh! Two months later and I’m still bitter. The SBTB podcast recording was great though so there’s that! My last event was the annual RT Awards Ceremony. I go mostly for the big bag of books you get at the end. It’s also fun to see fave authors win awards.

Saturday was the Giant Book Fair and my last scheduled event for RT17. Hundreds of authors with books for sale and to sign. I didn’t get in line early this year unlike previous years and it was nice. Attendees who pay full registration enter 30 minutes before everyone else (including the public). I think I was in and out in 30 minutes or so. Then sightseeing at the Georgia Aquarium!

I like RT because there are so many authors, usually quite a few of my favorites, all in one spot. I also have a friend I go to book conventions with and it’s fun hanging out with her. Everyone is usually pretty friendly and ok holding spots in line, etc. I also try to meet a couple people IRL that I interact with online.

There are many opportunities for free books like reader events, evening parties, pop-up signings, Goody room, and book swap table. I don’t bring every book available home with me but you could. This year I ended up with 30 books for myself (not including what’s on the Smashwords thumb drive) and then about 10 each for my mom and a friend.

Some notes:

  • there are lots of people. There are hundreds of readers and several hundred authors in attendance. I struggle with crowds sometimes so I try to pace myself, have flexibility in my schedule so that if I need to go to my room, I can.
  • you spend a lot of time in line. You can probably miss most of the lines if you’re not interested in getting ALL THE BOOKS/SWAG or going to highly attended reader events.
  • registration is not cheap. I pay for full registration for the whole week. You can buy day passes. Between hotel, registration, and airfare this is usually my most expensive vacation.
  • you may be disappointed. Authors cancel. Karen Marie Moning was at the top of my list for RT17. At some point she backed out and that bummed me out. Also goody bags or books may be gone before you get to that author or the front of the line.
  • the book fair is crazy. That is all.

Overall ok RT. Not my favorite. The hotel was nice with the meeting space right there (unlike Vegas). After next year in Reno, I’ll evaluate whether RT is an automatic, must-attend event for me. I’m trying out other cons and will need a big, favorite author or great location to get me back to RT. Last year I attended 3 new-to-me cons: Coastal Magic Con, WorldCon/MidAmeriCon II, and Nola StoryCon (its 1st year). This year I’m attending Nola StoryCon again and Sirens Conference for the first time. Next year I’m attending Apollycon for the first time, RT, and maybe WisCon.

Have you been to RT? What was your experience? Is there another con or reader event I need to go to? Let me know!

Attention! Social Media for Social Good 2017 – Year Nine Kicks Off!

Hi friends! If you’ve been around social media for a while you’ll know I try to do a charity campaign each year. I call it Social Media for Social Good. I don’t think I came up with the phrase, but I can’t remember who did, so my apologies. The purpose of it is to use social media to raise awareness for a particular charity, and then also to make it a group effort.

Initially, I made it a “per comment” goal and fundraiser, and people got upset about it. (Of course people get upset about everything, but who needs that sort of negativity in their lives?) It was also super depressing, so in 2015 I tied Social Media to Social Good to Ohio State Football. I (perhaps optimistically) expect them to have a winning season, so that makes things easy.

Apparently in 2016 I did everything on Facebook or Twitter – but this year I’m going to use the blog. Time snuck up on me, so I don’t have all the details ironed out yet, but the purpose of this post is to see if anyone would like to join me in this years efforts.

I’m also taking suggestions as to what charity or effort(s) you think the focus should be this year. Does anyone have ideas? Would you like to join in? Let me know please!

Thank you! <3

Guest Post: On Fat Heroines (in Romance) by N.R. Lines

Hi friends! So this post was inspired by just an offhand comment about how fat heroines are [rarely] actually fat in romance, or there’s something ridiculous about them – e.g. the “fat heroine” has visible ribs the hero counts or runs his fingers over. Anyway, I then asked N.R. in the spring if she wanted to write a post, this was sent to me back in June, but I’m basically awful and had to put this off because scheduling and then time got away with me, so if anything is off, this is my fault. And also, thank you N.R. for your patience! I really hope you all take the time to read this post. <3

I’d also like to note that all covers shown here are recommended romances, regardless of placement in the post. I just like pictures, ok? 😉 

On Fat Heroines (in Romance) 
By N.R. Lines

We have a problem in the romance genre. It’s been a problem for as long as I’ve been reading romance back in1981, and likely much longer than that. It’s a problem that impacts many women , whether they know it or not. And few people seem to be talking about it. The problem: Romancelandia lacks fat heroines. Or at least fat heroines who are written well.

I have divided the fat heroines I’ve seen in romance novels into the following categories:

  • The Fake Fat Heroine
  • The Confident Curvy Girl
  • The Full Figured Fat Heroine

There are three types of Fake Fat Heroines. First is the heroine who the author is authentically trying to write as fat, but uses descriptors that could never apply to a fat heroine. For example, a truly fat, or even curvy girl will never be described as having jutting hipbones. A partner would never loving run their hands down the fat heroine’s ribs and feel the outline of her rib bones. These Fake Fat Heroines make me shake my head and laugh at the absurdity of it all. To fix this we need to be better at describing a fat heroine in a manner that is both realistic and affirming. We can do this, I know we can!

The second type of Fake Fat Heroine is the heroine who describes herself as fat because she is insecure about an aspect of her body. Fat or slender, we’ve all been there. But what if we stopped doing that? What if instead of making your heroine feel and see fat when she thinks about those insecurities we give her an insecurity that she overcomes. Pick one thing about herself, not her entire body. I get it, fat is that ubiquitous descriptor that is used to describe a woman who doesn’t feel right about her body. I’m in no way minimizing the issues we have as women, but as romance writers, perhaps we can do better and can find other ways to describe these insecurities. And we can write the stories where these insecurities are overcome in positive ways that don’t inadvertently put us fat girls down.

The final type of Fake Fat Heroine is more damaging. This is the heroine an author presents as a woman who believes she is fat, who sees a big girl when she looks in the mirror, but as we get into the story we come to realize the heroine isn’t a plus sized gal at all. Maybe the heroine has been called fat by family and friends because she’s a size eight instead of a size two. Maybe she was fat at a different point in her life, but has been at a lower weight for some time and is suffering from body dysmorphia. Maybe she is a trans woman who has some dissonance between how she feels in her skin and what she sees in the mirror. All we get from the heroine’s inner dialogue, and maybe dialogue with her evil family and friends, is that she is fat. Continue reading

New Feature? Kindle Freebies & Deals!

Hi friends! So I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time. What do you think? Would you be interested in posts like this, or should I not bother?

(If I don’t hear anything I’m just going to assume you don’t want this so please let me know. I mean, it’d be lovely if you’d comment one way or the other to just let me know. I feel like I’m talking to nothing these days…)

Anyway, N.B. these are all free at the time of posting so please check the price first on your own before you click. Or, just don’t come after me if it’s not free any more. Or not at a discounted price. I’ll list all the freebies, then the “deals.”

I’d also like to note I can’t personally vouch for all of them. These were just books I thought looked good or interesting.

You can just click on the cover and it’ll take you to Amazon. 🙂 Continue reading

What We’ve Been Reading in 2017

Hi friends! I always like to know what people have been reading, and more importantly, what they recommend. While this isn’t exactly that … (those posts come in reviews and later), this list and our grades should give you some sort of indication. This time, you’ll get a comprehensive lists from me, a general list from Babs, and Karen’s highlights.
 
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! [I’m also as usual it seems like treading through quicksand, so we’ll see how we go with links.]
 
I also want to note, Babs put me to shame with her organization. While I then also separated my books out by month, I can’t speak to accuracy of timing. Especially since you know, I was loopy for most of it.
 
As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”
A = OMFG BEST BOOK EVER – LOVED IT. LOVED IT AND IT MADE ME LOVE EVERYTHING.
B = Really great book. You should read it.
C = Good book. Average, enjoyable read.
D = It was good, but there were some problems, or the reader had [significant] issues with certain aspects.
F = this was not a good book. I am angry I read it.
DNF = Did Not Finish (Either the book was truly that terrible, or I wasn’t in the mood, or whatever else. I just didn’t finish.)

Winners and June in Review

Hi friends! A day late but no dollars short because giveaway winners are being announced!!!

Also, if you’re a stranger to ALBTALBS, personally, I’ve had a lot going on and am currently in PT and I might not always be 100% timely. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

For the author post giveaways … I’m going to defer to them to pick winners unless/until I hear otherwise … so yes I’ll be reaching out to them and maybe you’ll want to check this space [this specific post] for any changes.

So you know, these are all the birthday posts, and if authors haven’t posted winners yet maybe you can still comment and win. 😉 Continue reading

Mary Katherine Goddard and the Declaration of Independence

Hello my friends! If you’re stateside – or an expat, you know that today is a holiday in the … [god, I want to write “good old US of A but … these days…] anyway. I’m trying to be adult and discuss something obscure, and cool, not “manly firmness.” (Which yes is in the Declaration.)

I wrote this post two years ago … so I won’t repeat. But if you’d like to re-read the text of the Declaration of Independence, it’s all there.

I first learned of Mary Katherine Goddard from a RT on twitter from Loretta Chase & Susan Holloway Scott, sharing this article from the Washington Post. (Which actually annoyed me because some of the attempts at … snark? Modern day relatability? … Felt like it was trying too hard to desperately engage middle school mean girls. … Of course I’m one to judge, me using “relatability.” Whatever.)

But then! I found this from Harvard!

The Goddard Broadside was the first printed version of the Declaration of Independence specifically intended for preservation. It was the first printed broadside to use the title “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America”. It was the first version of the Declaration to list the names of (most of) the signers. And, it is the only “official” version of the Declaration of Independence to be printed by a woman. Mary Katherine Goddard’s imprint at the bottom of her broadside proudly presents not only her full name, but also the city where Congress met for two crucial months, and where she lived and worked for over forty years.

So today, we celebrate America, the Founding Fathers, and Mary Katherine Goddard, who we should all know about but don’t. Because beyond this printing, she did a lot of amazing things. (Which you should read about from Harvard, WaPo, or heck even Wiki.)

I’ve included an image of the Goddard Broadside, which I got from the Library of Congress.*

*Unfortunately the version you can save makes it hard to see Mary Katherine Goddard’s name at the bottom, but if you click through to the LoC it’s there and you can zoom. 🙂