Thursday, June 14, 2007

Everybody Loves a Romance!

......and RITA Award-winning author Gayle Wilson spoke at our Brown Bag Lunch Series program yesterday and told us why! Only three years ago, the romance genre accounted for $1.4 billion dollars in sales, stole the show with 54.9% of all popular mass-market (read: small paperbacks) fiction sold, and took a big bite out of ALL fiction sold (including hardbacks) with $39.3% of the sales. Those statistics are very hard to argue with.

Gayle also shared with the crowd the great opportunity budding authors have to join one of the largest writing organizations in the world, Romance Writers of America (RWA), of which Gayle is a past president. Did you know that James Patterson, New York Times best-selling author of the Alex Cross and Women's Murder Club thrillers, is a member of RWA? Were you aware that Birmingham has a chapter of RWA, Southern Magic, and they host seminars, luncheons, and a variety of other learning opportunities for writers in the genre?

To counteract the naysayers who contend that these "little romance novels" are of little consequence, Gayle has this to say, "These books are written by smart women, for smart women." As evidence to this statement, she offers the following proof:

  • Eliosa James is the pseudonym of Mary Bly, tenured professor at Fordham University and Shakespeare scholar. You may have heard of her father, poet Robert Bly.

  • Madeline Hunter (pseudonym) teaches at the university level and has a PhD in art history.

  • Ciji Ware was a reporter and commentator in radio and television for more than twenty years in Los Angeles. She holds a degree in history from Harvard University and was the first woman graduate of Harvard College to serve as President of the Harvard Alumni Association.

  • Carol Buck was a CNN correspondant.

  • Merline Lovelace is a retired United States Air Force Colonel.

  • Alabama author Kelley St. John is a former senior writer for NASA.

  • Susan Grant is a 747 pilot.

  • Melissa Cohn is a former police-crime analyst.

  • Stephanie Bond is a computer engineer.

  • Marissa Hull is an advanced robitics/AI engineer.

  • Tess Gerritsen was a physician before she started her writing career in traditional romance, later moving to romantic suspense.

  • Katherine Stone also pursued a career in medicine before becoming a writer.

  • and last, but by no means least, Gayle Wilson has a Master's degree in Education with a specialty in Gifted Education. She taught english and history for over thirty years at the RLC which eventually became the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School!

I charge you with thinking about this laundry list of credentials before discounting the romance genre as an area you don't want to read; you just might be missing something special!

I especially enjoyed the dish Gayle shared about the godmother of romantic suspense, Nora Roberts. As if publishing nearly 200 books in her twenty-three year writing career weren't enough, one of her books is sold every 23 seconds...24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Can you imagine? She writes twenty pages a day, NO MATTER WHAT, but still finds time to be an avid gardener. This is one phenomenal lady, no doubt! I'd love to meet her one day.

Gayle is a WoNdErFuL (!!!) speaker and has a real talent for getting readers excited about the romance genre (this reader for sure!). If you were not in attendance yesterday then boy, did you ever miss out on a great program! Also, several lucky attendees walked out with complementary copies of her books! I told you, you missed out! If you are now absolutely bereft that you missed this program, check out our website for details on how you can get on our Calendar of Events mailing list so you won't have to experience this sense of loss ever again!

Happy Reading!


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