Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pre-Release Blitz: Love Between The Covers by Laurie Kahn

Love Between the Covers
A Documentary Film
Written, Produced & Directed by: Laurie Kahn
Releasing July 12th, 2016
Distributed by:
The Orchard
Love stories are universal. Love stories are powerful. And so are the women who write them.

Love Between the Covers is the fascinating story of the vast, funny, and savvy female community that has built a powerhouse industry sharing love stories. Romance fiction is sold in 34 languages on six continents, and the genre grosses more than a billion dollars a year -- outselling mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy combined. Yet the millions of voracious women (and sometimes men) who read, write, and love romance novels have remained oddly invisible. Until now.

For three years, we follow the lives of five very diverse published romance authors and one unpublished newbie as they build their businesses, find and lose loved ones, cope with a tsunami of change in publishing, and earn a living doing what they love—while empowering others to do the same. Romance authors have built a fandom unlike all others, a global sisterhood where authors know their readers personally and help them become writers themselves. During the three years we’ve been shooting Love Between the Covers, we have witnessed the biggest power shift that has taken place in the publishing industry over the last 200 years. And it’s the romance authors who are on the front lines, pioneering new ways to survive and build communities in this rapidly changing environment.

Link to Follow Blast: HERE

10 Surprising Facts about Romance Novels by Laurie Kahn

Four years ago, when I began making my documentary film Love Between the Covers, I stepped into a community I knew nothing about: the global network of women who write, read, and love romance novels. What I found surprised me. Here are ten things I learned:

1. Romance fiction is a billion-dollar industry

Romance novel sales total more than a billion dollars a year. They sell as much as sci-fi, mystery, and fantasy combined.

2. The romance readership is HUGE and global

More than 70 million people in the USA alone read at least one romance novel per year, and most of them read many more. The work of popular American romance writer Nora Roberts is translated into 33 languages and distributed on 6 continents.

3. There is a surprisingly wide range of romance novels 

Like romance blogger 
Sarah Wendell says, "Whatever your cup of tea is, someone's pouring it."
Romance novels are often equated with "bodice-rippers," but the steamy historicals with Fabio on the cover were published back in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, the spectrum of romance novels has exploded. On one end of that spectrum, there are chaste evangelical romances. On the other end, there are BDSM romances (yes, likethat one).

In between, you'll find paranormal romance with vampires and shapeshifters, time-travel romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. There are growing romance subgenres for LGBT love stories, a large community of writers who specialize in African-American romance, and there's even a popular Amish romance subgenre.
4. Everybody's writing romance

Women of every description (and a small number of men) are the engine of this industry.
Contrary to expectations, romance authors come from every economic class, every racial group, every sexual preference, and every level of education.
When I asked the pioneering African-American romance author Beverly Jenkinsabout her peers, she told me, "Women from all walks of life do this. We're not sitting in the proverbial trailer park in ratty nightgowns, eating jelly beans and watching soap operas. There are some pretty powerful women doing this! Geneticists, astrophysicists, lawyers, doctors..." The list goes on.
Len Barot (pen name Radclyffe), one of the main characters in Love Between the Covers, began writing lesbian romances during her surgical residency. Mary Bly (pen name Eloisa James), another main character in the film, is a Shakespeare scholar by day and an author of historical romances by night.

I interviewed PhDs, lawyers, and insurance executives. I also interviewed romance authors who worked in factories. There's an open door for anyone who wants to give it a try. Nora Roberts, the rock star of the romance industry, never went to college.

5. Women in the romance community are more likely than the general population to be currently married or living with a partner.

We've all seen depictions of the lonely, lovesick romance writer, who pens titillating novels while eating bonbons and sobbing over her keyboard.

Don't believe the stereotype. While romance does offer women a place to escape daily life and live out their fantasies, this community of readers and writers are statistically more likely than most to be in happy relationships.
6. Romance authors become personal friends with their readers, and readers find one another.

In the romance community friendships that begin online - based on a shared love of books-- often become real and enduring friendships.

Beverly Jenkins and her readers are in constant contact at Beverly's Facebook page, talking about books, football, music, and the ups and downs of their everyday lives. Every other year, Beverly takes a trip with her readers to places where her novels are set.
Radclyffe invites beginning authors to her farm in upstate New York, where she leads workshops on romance writing, and several of Eloisa James's loyal readers told us they found their closest friends, with whom they communicate every day, through Eloisa's blog.
7. Romance writers get tremendous support from one another

Why are these women so happy to pull a less experienced writer up the ranks? I asked many authors this question, and almost all of them told me stories of their early romance mentors--and their desire to pay it forward.

At a Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference, unpublished writers are always welcome (something that does not happen at other writer conferences), and there are dozens of workshops taught by established writers about everything from plot structure and writing knife-fights, to social networking and negotiating contracts. You will see bestselling novelists sitting down for coffee with unpublished newbies, critiquing their work and giving them business advice.

8. Romance authors are on the cutting edge, pioneering new technologies

Romance writers and readers were the first to enthusiastically adopt e-books, a service which works well for anyone who buys hundreds of books, and romance writers have always been mavericks of social media, using it effectively to build fan communities.

Romance has been at the forefront of the biggest change to take place in publishing in the last 200 years: self publishing. Together, romance authors have figured out how to succeed in self-publishing. Instead of being secretive, these one-person indie publishing houses share their knowhow and numbers (not a common practice in publishing).
9. You can take courses about romance fiction at Princeton, Harvard, DePaul and dozens of other universities

Literature scholars, cultural historians, and popular culture studies professors founded the 
International Association for the Study of Popular Romance five years ago. They hold annual conferences, and they've also started the peer-reviewed onlineJournal for Popular Culture Studies. It's a growing interdisciplinary field.

10. Romance writing isn't an easy gig

You might think writing romance novels is more of a breezy pastime than a professional venture, but the deadlines that romance novelists face are incredibly rigorous. 
Susan Donovan described the feeling of being on-deadline saying, "There's always a flame behind your ass." Some women publish three or four books a year. On top of this, most novelists handle their own promotion, and self-published authors also handle their novels' distribution. When you're a romance novelist, you are a one-woman business.

I had a blast exploring the romance community over the last four years. In creatingLove Between the Covers, I discovered one of the few places where women are always center stage, where female characters always win, where justice prevails in every book, and where the broad spectrum of desires of women from all backgrounds are not feared, but explored unapologetically.

*Originally featured in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/laurie-kahn/romance-novels_b_7109458.html

Director/Producer LAURIE KAHN’s films have won major awards, been shown on PBS primetime, broadcast around the world, and used widely in university classrooms and community groups. Her first film, A Midwife’s Tale, was based on the 18th century diary of midwife Martha Ballard and Laurel Ulrich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Midwife’s Tale. It won film festival awards and a national Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction. Her film TUPPERWARE! was broadcast in more than 20 countries, won the George Foster Peabody Award and was nominated for a national Best Nonfiction Director Emmy. Kahn previously worked on Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, The American Experience, FRONTLINE’S Crisis in Central America, All Things Considered, and Time Out. She’s a resident scholar at Brandeis’s Women’s Studies Research Center.

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Release Day Blitz: The Family Man by Kelly Eadon

The Family Man
By: Kelly Eadon
Releasing July 5, 2016
Forever Yours

When life hands lemons to Beth Beverley, she makes mouthwatering lemon squares. Mostly because they're coveted by the sexy single dad who owns Belmont's most popular coffee shop. But that's where her crush on Griffin has to end. Her sweet treats are selling like crazy cakes in his shop, and she doesn't mix business with pleasure. Too bad his sinful smile has her flirting with the idea of forever.

Griffin Hall definitely needs to keep his eyes--and his hands--off Beth. Since he's traded in late-night gigs and partying for bedtime stories with his little girl in his arms, he doesn't have time for anything else. So why does Beth's big heart and easy way with his daughter make him finally feel alive again? But there's a little secret Beth doesn't know, something he can't bear to tell her . . .

Link to Follow Tour: HERE

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He lifted a few containers out of a picnic basket and opened them on the blanket. “But you remind me of this town in Italy. I know that seems like a weird thing to say, that you remind me of a town. But it’s full of all these paths that take you to completely unexpected places. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to feed you. Everyone smiles all the time, and they have a little street theater with puppets that the kids gather around to watch.”
He lifted his eyes to her and grinned. “If you were a place, Beth, you would be this place. We played a concert in a city nearby, but we had a day off and I explored the town by myself. The whole time I kept thinking how great it would be to share it with someone. The other night it came to me: I had to have lunch with you in Urbino.”
Her breath caught. Wow.
He gestured to the food he’d laid out on the blanket. Olives, figs, cheese, bread, dried fruit. Her mouth watered just looking at it. “So here you go. Lunch in Urbino.”
Her eyes stung and she blinked hard. This could not be happening. This could not be real.
The corners of his mouth dropped and his eyebrows furrowed. “Do you like it?” He dropped his gaze to his lap, where his hands fidgeted. “Is it too much?”
She threw herself at him, covering his face with kisses, not caring if she knocked anything over. “It’s the most incredible thing anyone has ever done for me.”
His fingers closed around her waist and he tugged her into his lap. He pressed his mouth to hers and used the tip of his tongue to trace the seam of her lips.
A high-pitched whistle pierced the air. She raised her head and found a group of teenage boys giving them the thumbs-up.
Her face heated and she crawled back to her spot on the other side of the blanket.
She reached for the container of olives and spooned a few onto her plate. “I feel like I should warn you that dessert is entirely off-theme.”
He raised an eyebrow and popped a fig into his mouth. “Oh yeah?”
She nodded. “Oh yeah.”
Then she reached for the plastic bag in her purse and plopped it onto the blanket, so that one of the cookies was faceup inside the package.
He leaned toward it, his eyes narrowing. “What kind of cookie is that?”
She’d iced them pink and then used magenta piping to create little curlicues. “Pig butt.”
His gaze jerked to hers and he blinked a few times. “A pig butt cookie?”
The tickle in her throat became too much, she burst into giggles. “Just the decoration, not the flavoring. I found them on Pinterest. Nailed it, right?”
He threw his head back and laughed. “Yup. You nailed it. That is most definitely a pig’s ass. Martha Stewart, the person not the van, would be impressed.”
With a giggle, she tipped her head back to let the sunshine warm her face.
It was as near to perfect as a date could be.

Kelly Eadon is a romance writer living in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and a house full of rescue animals, aka "the kraken". She swears like a sailor and says whatever pops into her head. In order to counteract her big mouth, she wears high heels whenever possible. In her spare time she spins, kick boxes and attempts to renovate her farmhouse. She hates sanding drywall, loves to cook, drinks lots of wine, gets scary competitive at trivia, and enjoys time spent exploring with her rescued beagle mixes.

Release Day Blast: For Good by Karelia Stetz-Waters

For Good
An Out in Portland Novel
By: Karelia Stetz-Waters
Releasing July 5, 2016
Forever Yours

For Kristen Brock, Tristess County, Oregon, is just a stepping stone. She doesn't fit in to the small town community, but that doesn't bother her; she's not here to make friends. A few years as district attorney will look good on her resume, and then she'll be able to get any job she wants in a big city law firm. But then she meets Marydale Rae, who inspires feelings Kristen never imagined . . .

Marydale didn't intend to hide her past from Kristen, but the prospect of a friend who doesn't know she spent time in prison is too tempting to pass up. Add in the kiss they shared, and Marydale never wants Kristen to know the truth. But in a town like Tristess, secrets are impossible to keep. Being together puts both Kristen's job and Marydale's parole in jeopardy. But is a chance at forever worth the risk?

Link to Follow Tour: HERE

Kristen heard a man at the front of the crowd say, “Now I’m going to let my colleague tell you about what you’re going to taste.” A few people clapped.
A melodic woman’s voice chimed in. “Thank you. We both come from a farming-ranching background, so we understand the importance of raw ingredients. We have our own twelve-acre farm north of St. John’s.”
The room was hot.
Sierra said, “It’s really crowded. Do you want to try the next one?”
We put our heart and soul into this production.” The woman’s voice floated over the crowd.
Kristen couldn’t see her, but the cadence was familiar. It was the same slight twang that had infused Marydale’s voice when she told stories about Tristess.
The man interrupted. “My friend here actually waters the ground with her tears.”
The crowd chuckled.
No, I’m serious,” the man said. “The first night after planting she goes out to the fields—”
And you’re going to taste all of that,” the woman cut in, “when I pour the first round.”
Kristen edged forward, listening.
What is it?” Sierra asked.
The couple in front of Kristen stepped to the side, and Kristen stepped into the space they had vacated. Behind a folding table covered in a black cloth, a banner read Sadfire Distillers. On either side of the table, a bronze contraption, like some steampunk creation from the Alberta Arts Walk, released a blaze of flame. But Kristen wasn’t admiring the craftsmanship or thinking about the liability of open flames in a low-ceilinged room almost certainly over the 148-person capacity listed by the door. She wasn’t thinking about anything now, because she wasn’t breathing, because it was Marydale behind the table, like a vision in a dream. Her blond hair was pulled up in an aggressive bouffant ponytail, and her arms were tattooed in a swirl of oxblood and black, the bodies of women intertwining in the ink. She looked older and tougher and gorgeous.
So what are we going to taste, Mary?” It was Aldean beside her.
Marydale took a skewer from the table, wrapped a piece of cotton around the end and dipped it into a snifter.
We’re going to start with the Consummation Rye,” Marydale said. She flicked the end of the skewer through the flame at her side, tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and, accompanied by the “ooh” of the crowd, she lowered the torch into her mouth. The flame disappeared. She set the skewer down and lifted the snifter to her lips and, in flagrant violation of Oregon Liquor Control Commission server regulations, took a long sip.
Well played,” her friend said. “What do you taste, Mary?”
Marydale turned to Aldean. “You’re going to find this surprisingly smooth for such a young whiskey, although it does still have a bite, and I think that’s part of its charm. It’s going to mellow, but you’re going to miss its youth.”
Kristen felt the stiff, gray fabric of her suit holding her in place. Marydale was there, only feet away, real, breathing, her hair glistening. Kristen had practiced this moment in her imagination a thousand times, this exact moment when their eyes met and Marydale recognized her.
For just a second, Marydale seemed to lose her train of thought. Then she resumed. “Large commercial distilleries produce consistent quality, but they sacrifice character.”
Kristen had dreamed about this reunion. She had seen Marydale in the crowds around Pioneer Square and in the quick flash of a TriMet window, her face forever disappearing into another person’s image. A rational voice in the back of her mind told Kristen she was overreacting. The strange longing that filled her when she thought of Marydale was just the first pangs of middle age creeping into her thirties. It was the kind of nostalgia Sierra and Donna would never feel because Sierra lived in a semi-platonic, semi-polyamorous partnership with Frog and Moss, and Donna dated a never-ending roster of assholes.
Marydale held the glass up to the flame. Someone lowered the lights, making dark shadows of Marydale’s eyes.
First,” she said, “you’ll smell the earth. Now, don’t let those wine connoisseurs get away with telling you it smells earthy, like that’s a thing. Earth is specific. Farmers know that. This is our parcel.” She smelled the whiskey. “If you’re very careful—and please don’t drink to excess because you’ll miss everything—you can smell the roots of our heritage oak. Yes. Aldean is right. They’re there, too.” She put the glass to her lips and took another sip. “It’s frost on a really clear day in December when you’re lonely despite all the Christmas going on around you. You can also taste summer’s wildfires. This batch was aged in barrels made out of ten percent reclaimed wood from the Firesteed burn. And if you haven’t seen one of those fires up close, you haven’t looked into the eye of God.”
The crowd hushed.
Now, here I’ve got a little bit of water,” Marydale went on. “It’s from Multnomah Falls, and, friends, even if you don’t take your whiskey with water, you need to at least taste it with water. Water opens the whiskey up.” She poured a little bit of water from a silver pitcher and smelled it again. “There it is.” She paused and looked directly at Kristen. “Your old lover’s perfume woken from the leather seat of your pickup the day you take it to the scrap yard. The body. Lovemaking. Loan. Madrone bark in sunlight. The pencil you once used to write love letters.” Her voice grew louder. She raised the glass to the crowd. “A woman’s hair slick with sweat. That first taste, so strange and so familiar.” She took a sip of the whiskey, set it down, and beamed at the crowd. Her teeth were perfect.
The crowd applauded.
That, friends, is how you taste a whiskey,” Aldean said.

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My wife recently dubbed my writing “so-ro,” short for romance with a social conscience. I guess that’s what I do. Whether I’m exploring the problems of gentrification or the evils of human trafficking, every book I write has a lesbian romance at its heart and a social issue in mind. They’re the kind of books that read like fun, lazy-Saturday page-turners and yet leave your unexpectedly enlightened. That’s two for the price of one and way more fun that keeping up with the news.
When I’m not writing, I’m being inspired by my amazing community college students and hanging out with my lovely wife and my charming spuglette (that’s a technical term for spaniel-pug mix). I’m a fan of snakes, corn mazes, popular science books on neurology, and any roadside attraction that purports to have the world’s largest ball of twine.

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