Rosanne Bittner: Heart of the West
2013 Romantic Times Conference Report
The huge writers/readers conference in Kansas City, sponsored by ROMANTIC TIMES magazine, left me feeling warm and appreciated after 30 years of writing!
Romantic Times does this every year in a different city as a way to reach readers and connect them with their favorite authors. I thought last year's in Chicago was the best, but this one out-did them all! Of course I'm prejudiced, because they made me feel extra special this year. As one of the bigger names in historical romance back in the 80's and 90's I was honored (along with several other well-known names from the era of bodice-rippers) in many special ways at this conference and felt a bit like I was Queen for a Day.
My biggest sales and biggest advances came in the 80's and 90's, and after selling 58 novels over these past 30 years, I and several other lovely "legends of romance" (as they called us) qualified for a special brunch. The next evening we were given special honors at a grand ball, where there was dancing and music and where I and other authors were escorted to the stage by some very handsome cover model "hunks" and then introduced. Here I am with Adam Beck (right), one of the cowboy cover models I met that evening.
Each of us gave a short talk, and we were made to feel like the most important writers who ever walked. It was a wonderful experience! Other authors who received special honors were Shirl Henke, Thea Divine, Janelle Taylor, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Mary Balough, Patricia Rice, Bobbi Smith, Beverly Jenkins, Eileen Dreyer, Laura Parker, Robyn Carr, Mary Jo Putney, Heather Graham, Jennifer Blake, Laura Kinsale and Karen Robards. I'll bet you recognize most or all of those names.
At the conference I finally got to meet my agent of the last 5 years, Maura Kye-Casella of the Don Congdon Agency, for the first time face to face. It's so nice to be able to "see" her now when we correspond -- and now you can see her, too (photo left). She has done great things for me -- my career is enjoying a "re-awakening" thanks to the reissue of several of my older titles by Sourcebooks and by Amazon. My first brand new title in several years, PARADISE VALLEY, is coming out this July and we are working on selling more older titles for reissue in print and as e-books. I also had the chance to reconnect with my Sourcebooks editor, Leah Hultenschmidt, and her enthusiasm means the promise of more to come from Rosanne Bittner for my many faithful readers! (That's Leah and me in the top photo on this page.)
Throughout the 5-day conference, RT arranged several opportunities for us authors to meet our readers, whom I adore because without them I wouldn't be a multi-published author! One of the readers I had the opportunity to talk with is Christine Mead (pictured below), winner of a new Kindle I gave away last year for my Fourth of July contest!
I also met David Morrell, the author of FIRST BLOOD (the first RAMBO movie), and Larry Kirshbaum, the head of Amazon Publishing. Thanks to Amazon.com, my Savage Destiny Series and many of my other older books are experiencing a whole new surge of popularity! (Here's a list of ALL of my titles now available in e-reader formats.)
In fact, nearly all of the writers there who, like myself, experienced great sales in the 80's and 90's but who were suddenly dropped by publishers and told readers didn't want our kind of books any more, are now selling like hot cakes on the internet due to putting our older titles back into print and even publishing new titles on our own! We "old timers" are finding out something we already knew and that publishers, for whatever reason, just didn't recognize YES, READERS DO WANT WHAT WE WRITE!!! What I was being told by publishers didn't match the feedback I was getting from my readers, who kept begging for a new Bittner book and yet I couldn't sell to any of the publishers. Now, due to the internet, social media and electronic publishing, I am finding my readers again, as well as hooking up with a host of new readers who had never even heard of me before!!! And guess what? They love historical western romance! Westerns have always been popular, and now their popularity is again emerging on the readers' market and I am ready to deliver!
Meantime, Romantic Times made me feel like a true VIP and awakened my desire to write more books. While on that stage, all of us "oldies but goodies" looked at each other in a bit of a daze because of all the sorely-needed attention we hadn't realized in a long time . . . and we just kind of smiled to ourselves. WE know readers want our books! [Photo, l - r: Shirl Henke (seated, in orange), Me (standing, in orange) Thea Divine (standing, in black) and Patricia Rice (seated).]
Readers want VARIETY, and they most certainly still want those good old-fashioned historical romances with heroines we all dream of being, and heroes we all dream of sharing our beds with heroes who respect women, defend women, and love their particular woman forever and beyond!
PS -- If you go to RTBookReviews.com, I'm sure they are already planning next year's event.
Hope to see you there!
Me with two other "legends" -
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