This past weekend, the library system that I work for held its first Romance Readers Rendezvous, a celebration of the romance genre! This event kicked off with a screening of Love Between the Covers, a wonderful documentary about the romance novel industry.
I had to work the morning at my home branch, then worked the afternoon at the event. We had a couple subgenre panels (historical and paranormal), before panels on diversity and empowerment, which were the panels I attended.
* * *
Romance for All:
Diversity in Romance
The diversity panel had an awesome lineup: Negeen Papehn, Tif Marcelo, A.R. Moler, and Tracey Livesay. I already had a couple of these authors on my TBR, and now I’m definitely adding the others as well.
Negeen Papehn’s debut novel, Forbidden by Faith, releases on 2/20. The hero and heroine are both Iranian, but the heroine is Muslim while the hero is Jewish. I loved hearing Papehn discuss her characters and writing process and I’m excited to read her book.
Tif Marcelo discussed her Journey to the Heart series, which features Filipino characters. 🙌🏼 I’ve had her on my radar for a while and a couple of her books are sitting on my Kindle and I need to read all of her books right nowwww.
While the other authors appeared via Google Hangout, A.R. Moler was present in person since she’s local to the area. She writes LGBT characters and discussed the various methods involved in her writing. She’s a chemistry professor by day, so her approach to writing is very research-oriented as well.
Tracey Livesay’s Shades of Love series features interracial relationships between African American heroines and Caucasian heroes. I have at least one of her books on my Kindle right now, so she’s also moved up my To Read list.
This was a great panel. The authors spoke at length about why diversity in romance is so important and how much it matters for readers to see themselves represented on the page. As a reader and reviewer, I feel even more motivated now to read more diversely and elevate books that reflect the true experiences of all kinds of people.
* * *
Beyond Damsels in Distress:
Women’s Empowerment Through Romance Fiction
This panel consisted of Carla Laureano, Emma Barry, and L.B. Simmons.
Carla Laureano writes Christian romance, which unfortunately means I’ll likely never read her books since I don’t read that subgenre. Also, there were some technical issues with her audio, so it was difficult to follow the conversation at times.
L.B. Simmons, who also appeared virtually, writes about darker issues such as abuse, eating disorders, depression, and suicide. I can potentially see myself reading her books, but I’d definitely need to be in the right type of mood first.
Emma Barry is local to the area and appeared in person. I learned that she is an amazing speaker and has the best laugh ever. Like many of the authors from the diversity panel, Barry has shot to the top of my TBR list.
* * *
The featured author for the day was Olivia Dade, whose books I’ve reviewed here and who is one of my favorite authors! It was wonderful to meet her finally after knowing her through Twitter for years. (And I didn’t realize that it had been years until she pointed it out, whoa!)
She is even lovelier and more wonderful than I had hoped, and her talk was fantastic. If you ever get a chance to attend an author talk with her, I highly recommend it. And of course, I strongly recommend her Lovestruck Librarians series. 💗
(Somewhere, there’s a green screen pic of Olivia and me in front of a pirate backdrop…may this photo never see the light of day again. Amen.)
* * *
My favorite parts of the day were Olivia’s talk and the diversity panel. The attendee turnout for the event wasn’t quite as high as we had hoped, but I think that those of us who did attend had a good time. I know I enjoyed myself. All in all, it was a fun day and my TBR is seriously bursting at this point, haha! It’s a good problem to have, right? 📚