Thursday, October 11, 2007

On writing, conferences, and Sock Yarnapalooza winners

First the fun stuff: we have us some winners.

Winner #8: Debi of FluffyKnitterDeb (and P-Man) fame!

Winner #9: Cheryl Strange

Winner #10: Jill Swanson

Winner #11: Sara W

Send your mailing addresses to me at wickedsplitty and I'll zip out your sock yarn ASAP with thanks for making this blog so much fun.

Nancy's post got me thinking about writers conferences. I used to attend lots of them. I rarely go to any these days. One of the (many) reasons? I'd rather eat ground glass with a cyanide chaser than ever, EVER be faced with the prospect of pitching an idea face-to-face to anyone/anything but the screen of my laptop. That is a skill I don't have now, didn't have back then, and most likely will never develop. I can write you a story but if you ask me to tell you one--well, it ain't pretty. Or interesting. "Uh, well--it' s like--um, there's this, like, boy with a jagged scar on his forehead and--uh, well, like lots of stuff happens to him and [silence] uh, I write better than I speak. Honest."
This is from my website, a little trip down conference Memory Lane:
The year is 1983. Alexis and Krystle are locking shoulderpads for Blake Carrington's affections. Dynasty is the hottest show on television with Dallas a close second. Viewers tune in each week to watch how the other half lives and loves...and to sigh over the glitzy gowns and power suits worn by our beautiful heroines. It's a time of glamour and opulence and excess. Stocks are soaring and so are spirits as the Roaring Eighties promise to make all of our dreams come true.

Especially our dreams of romance. Love is big business in 1983 and romance novels are the reason. Even the Wall Street Journal agrees. It seems like every time you turn around, a new category romance line is being launched. (More about that next month.) But no matter how many new authors joined the ranks each month, when you said the words "romance novel," everyone immediately thought of Barbara Cartland.

Barbara Cartland with her big black false eyelashes and spun-sugar hair and pink ballgowns and her Pekingese office companions. I'll admit I gnashed my teeth a time or two when it came to Dame Barbara's work habits. (When I lie down on a chaise, I fall asleep; Dame Barbara Cartland gets up with two more chapters under her belt.) And I rolled my eyes over the virginal heroines and chaste love scenes that were definitely not what the rest of us were writing.

But guess what? Even this cynical soul had to stand up and cheer at Romantic Times's Second Annual Booklovers Convention in April 1983 when Barbara Cartland (who was then over eighty years old) spoke to the crowd about love and romance, health foods and megavitamins. She was outspoken, intelligent, multi-faceted and downright fascinating.

Laugh if you will, but Barbara Cartland is still writing and still cashing those royalty checks and I say "More power to you, Dame Barbara!"" We should all be so lucky. [2007 note: Dame Barbara has since passed on but I'll bet she's still writing.]

I took this photograph myself. No, you're not imagining the tiara and the throne. Guess you had to be there to believe it!


Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Barbara, I'm so glad to hear that you pitch just like I do. LOL! I always say that I'm a writer, not a speaker. I stammer even when a casual friend asks me what the book is about.

That photo of Dame Barbara is pretty amazing. She certainly had a grand career, didn't she? And laughed at her critics all the way to the bank.

3:31 PM  
Blogger R a i n said...

I'd always wanted to be a writer but never followed through with it. I wish I had but the idea of a conference...and actually presenting my ideas...I'd die!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

Wow...what a blast from the past! And it's sort of sad that I recognized her even before reading your post.

I just finished A Wedding in Paris and it was a sweet, fun read. Thanks for sending it to me!

12:12 PM  
Blogger georg said...

I will always have a soft spot for Barbara Cartland.

Rain, I can *start* writing. It's the finishing that bites my butt. ;) And then I would not know what to do with it, but that I suppose could be learned.

3:37 PM  
Blogger kozmic said...

I had to smile at your photo of Dame Mary ( Barbara Cartland being her pseudonym ) . Hard to believe she was dressed by Norman Harwell ( Queen Elizabeth II's dressmaker).
Do Americans remember that Dame Mary was Lady Diana's step-grandmother? A real life Princess and the Queen of Romance ( Vogue's title).

8:10 PM  
Blogger georg said...

Yes, and wasn't she godmother to one of the princes? She was related through the Spencers, and was proud of it.

9:25 AM  
Blogger R a i n said...

Georg, I hear you! I've started numerous times but finishing does seem to be the problem. And of course, what to do afters. Heh.

2:18 PM  

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