Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why is a paperback novel like a hat?

There's got to be a funny punchline here...and someone will post it for me, I hope. However, that goofy question really does have a point. Which, naturally, I'm going to get to - after meandering around it a bit.

Last month I took a train trip along the Northeast Corridor, and since it is now winter (yes, that's what the calendar says), I donned what I felt was a whimsical tribute to the days of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and elegant 1930s train travel. My grey fur bolero jacket was fake, but the hat was real. A crushable cloche with a small brim, complete with flower, in burgundy velvet. I felt terribly glam. (See picture of hat here. Victorian Trading Co. No, I don't get a kickback. Just a bunch of really cool catalogs that appeal to the Hopeless Romantic in me.)

And I got more compliments that day than I could have imagined. It was fun. And I'm still wearing the hat now and again because I adore it and apparently others do as well. I manage to ignore the one or two "WTF?" looks and the less-than-flattering husbandly comments. He's put up with me for over 25 years. He's entitled to the occasional joke at my expense. (Honey, you've got one left, btw. Use that up and you're soooo out of the big bed. LOL)

So the year ended, I returned home and - being a sensible writer - read some of our industry stats as they looked back over 2011. Print sales, according to PW, continued to decline. And largest amongst these drops was the mass market paperback. I don't think they mentioned the actual percentage of loss, but it was higher than other areas. Am I surprised? Not at all. With the advent of bigger, better and more technologically miraculous eReaders, it's inevitable.

And then it hit me. I flashed forward a couple of decades and saw a woman sitting somewhere fancy, a luxurious hotel foyer, perhaps, reading a PAPERBACK ROMANCE. And I watched (in my mind) as people passed and stared curiously at her book, some perhaps stopping and asking her about it and saying how nice it was to see someone actually reading one. The paperback novel had become the "HAT" of the 2030's. (These little flashy vision things happen to writers on occasion. Most often they lead to a story idea or the liquor cabinet. This one led to the blog you're currently reading.)

Yes, I think we're nearing the point when all of us in the literary world must accept the way our world is changing. Many of us already carry a lot of our beloved stories on devices in our handbags, and I see this as the genesis of a time when paperback novels will become treasures from our past. Will they assume the cachet of a rare hand-printed Daniel Defoe first edition? Of course not. But they might well become as unexpected a sight as my hat was on that train. Everyone knows what a hat is. Lots of people have them. But actually SEEING someone wearing one that looked more fun than function...that's where the surprise lay. And that, my friends, made me wonder if a paperback novel is more like a hat than you might ever think...

So if you're a hat-wearer or a paperback reader, I hope you'll see the correlation. And leave me a comment letting me know whether you agree or not. Or maybe just tell me if you like the hat...

Sahara Kelly

One Knight Only - available now
Knights of Pleasure - available now
Rough Knight? - coming soon

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And where will YOU be in 2012????

Enquiring minds want to know!!!

Yes, I'm one of them, and this question is really for readers (although anyone can answer. It's all good!!) I'm conducting a totally unscientific survey which won't impact anything at all, and lest you're concerned - or from Iowa - let me reassure you that politics is NOT involved. I would love to know where you readers will be hanging out this upcoming year.

There's more than a few conventions out there, and they seem to be proliferating like dust bunnies under my bed. So, since I had the most blissful time in 2011 connecting with readers at smaller events, I figured I'd get a head start on my travel schedule and find out where you folks plan on heading to get your romance novel/literary fix!

There are state-sponsored book festivals, most notably the Tucson Festival of Books, and I plan on going to that one if the gods are with me. It's in March. April is, of course, pretty much reserved for RT, but leave that one out, because it's nowhere near as good a chance to actually connect with readers.

There's Brenda Novak/Christine Feehan's thing out West (February?) and then we get into RomCon (Denver..June?) Lori Foster's gettogether (also June, I think, Ohio), the new RomFest (Gatlinburg, June) and AAD (August, New Orleans.) Probably a couple more in between those and Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend (October, maybe).

Those are just the ones I'm pulling out of my memory. I'm definitely on for RT Chicago. Tucson is tentative right now, and I'd love to do RomFest, because they have Dr. Bill Bass, founder of the Body Farm, as guest lecturer. Wow. (Drools and grabs notebook). I'm also definitely on for RAW in October.

The chance to sit down and yak with readers, one on one, no time constraints or panels or formalities - well, it's turned out to be one of the great pleasures of my writing world. I hadn't realized what I was missing until I went to Philly and AAD, where I was enchanted by readers and bloggers and all the folks I'd never had chance to hang with on such a relaxed level. Then came RAW and the joy overflowed. We shared drinks, meals, dances and snowstorms. We laughed, played UNO and watched the World Series. Again, I got to spend time with other writers as well as new reader friends. (Hi Book Obsessed Chicks!!! [waves]) It was just fabulous from start to finish and reinforced my desire to make sure that from now on I get to do more of it.

Hence my question. Where will YOU be this year? Any favorite conferences? I'd love to hear your plans. Not sure if the budget will let me do too many of these events and I can say now I won't be doing AAD, sadly, because New Orleans in August, even with air conditioning, is still close to the fifth level of hell for those of us who aren't fond of heat. But if you let me know where you're thinking about going, it'll help me weed the list down to the essentials. I'd love to meet you/see you again. It's what I'm happiest doing. I suck at blogs and get a D- in Social Networking, my best efforts notwithstanding. So help me out here, ladies and gents. Where ya gonna be?

And just for giggles, I figured I'd end with this delightful - and spot-on - cartoon! For my colleagues in the biz! LMAO

Wishing you all a great 2012 no matter where your travels take you!!

Sahara Kelly

( subscribed to my newsletter yet? You can click through and do that via the link on your upper left. I will be doing some CONTESTS this year. ALL of 'em will be available to those who subscribe!!! C'mon. Give it a shot. You'll like the way it looks. I promise. :) )