Sunday, May 12, 2013

Over the Rainbow at RT... Well, Almost

It's been a week now since I returned home from my whirlwind adventure at RT in Kansas City.  I met so many amazing authors, industry professionals, bloggers and fellow fans, I could tell stories for hours.  This was my first time at the con and I learned so much about RT magazine, the convention itself, and the rich history of both.  It was amazing to see how far the romance genre has come over the years and what a pioneer RT has been in so many ways.

With the fabulous Marie Sexton
Throughout the convention, I found myself surrounded by diversity. Whatever kind of romance you liked, you could find.  There were panels and parties devoted to contemporary, erotic, YA, GLBT, paranormal, steampunk, inspirational... you name it.  There were authors and fans there from every conceivable subgenre.  It was so welcoming --and very cool.

But as I sat down for the awards banquet, one category was noticeably absent: GLBT.  What's the big deal? you may ask.  They can't have an award for every single thing.  Well, they actually kind-of do.  There are 11 awards for the different kind of Harlequin books alone.   There are separate PNR awards for vampire and shapeshifter romance.  There are individual awards for self-published authors.  There are more than a dozen Historical categories --and one is so specific it is for the best "British Isle-Set Historical."   Yet there is not one single GLBT acknowledgement.

The presence of Dreamspinner and Riptide could not ignored at this conference (and not just because of my mad school-girl crush on Damon Suede.)  The Dreamspinner party was packed.  The Over the Rainbow party was rad --plus I got a fabulous tshirt.  And I am fairly certain I got a Tucker Springs book in my welcome bag.  So where were these authors at the awards ceremony?  M/M romance is big right now. Look at the success of Lover at Last in the mainstream.   It was number 1 on the NYT bestseller list.  Stars & Stripes won DABWAHA. The audience is there, so where is the recognition?

I'm not trying to disparage RT.  The vibe was friendly and inclusive. Perhaps that's why this stuck out to me so much.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  And be sure to check out the awards list below.  For what it's worth, I agreed with many of the winning selections. Big love to Firelight, Gunmetal Magic, Blade Song and so many other great books.  Maybe next year, Touch & Geaux will get some attention too.

Complete List of RT's Best Book Categories of 2012
First Series Romance                                            Harlequin American
Harlequin Blaze                                                    Harlequin Desire
Harlequin Intrigue                                                Harlequin Nocturne
Harlequin Presents                                                 Harlequin Presents Extra
Harlequin Romance                                               Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Harlequin Special Edition                                      Harlequin SuperRomance
Kimani Romance                                                    Love Inspired
Love Inspired Historical                                         Love Inspired Suspense
Historical Romance of the Year                            First Historical Romance
Historical Love & Laughter                                   Innovative Historical Romance
Historical Paranormal                                            British Isle-Set Historical Romance
Regency-Set Historical Romance                          Scotland-Set Historical Romance
Historical Romantic Adventure                             Sensual Historical Romance
Historical KISS Hero                                              Historical Fiction
Self-Published Historical Romance                       Contemporary Romance
Contemporary Love & Laughter                            Self-Published Contemporary Romance
Vampire Romance                                                  Shapeshifter Romance
Steampunk                                                               Paranormal Romance
Paranormal Worldbuilding                                     Urban Fantasy Novel
Urban Fantasy Protagonist                                     Self-Published Urban Fantasy
Romantic Suspense                                                 Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Contemporary Mystery                                           Historical Mystery
First Mystery                                                            Suspense
Amateur Sleuth                                                        Mainstream Fiction
YA Contemporary Novel                                         YA Urban Fantasy
YA Futuristic                                                            YA Protagonist
Science Fiction Novel                                              Fantasy Novel
Epic Fantasy Novel                                                  Multicultural Romance
Multicultural Fiction                                                Inspirational Romance
Inspirational Suspense                                              Erotic Romance
Sci-Fi Erotic Romance                                              E-book Erotic Romance
E-book Erotic Novella

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At Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 7:20:00 PM CDT , Blogger Unknown said...

I ended up eating lunch with some of the Dreamspinner authors instead of heading to the awards ceremony, RT is very inclusive, but they definitly need to have a GLBT award.

The m/m panel that was hosted by your crush and others was the first m/m panel RT ever had, so it's progress... just slow

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:00:00 AM CDT , Blogger Marie Sexton said...

Hmm. I wish I could remember why you ended up holding my leg. Hopefully I didn't just throw it at you. LOL. ;-)

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:04:00 AM CDT , Blogger Jen at Red Hot Books said...

I support progress. Hopefully, that progress will continue with new steps next year.

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:07:00 AM CDT , Blogger Jen at Red Hot Books said...

Ha! I think you kicked it up and... well, there it was... Hopefully I did not accost you.

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:10:00 AM CDT , Blogger Sarah S. G. Frantz said...

I think the point a lot of GLBT authors try to make is that their books should compete with other books in their appropriate categories. That having a GLBT category or five would "ghettoize" their books. I think both sides have valid points. I'd love to see RT and RWA recognize the excellence of GLBT books with their own categories. But I'd also love to see GLBT books win in some of the "regular" categories. Like, Tucker Springs books could technically win in the "Contemporary Romance" category.

However, FWIW, one m/m book did win a Seal of Excellence award. There's only 12 of those a year--one a month. Katie Porter's CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR was December's top recommendation from RT: So, there's that.

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:31:00 AM CDT , Blogger Jen at Red Hot Books said...

I had not thought of it that way. Thank you for opening my eyes to that perspective!

This never occurred to me, I guess in part, because the existing categories are so narrow and specific already. But I can see where those authors are coming from and it makes complete sense.

I suppose that I would just like to see these books represented somehow --some way-- among the numerous awards. Some of the best books I read last year involved GLBT romance and I felt their absence at the ceremony.

I appreciate you for taking the time to comment and share another point of view.

At Monday, May 13, 2013 at 9:34:00 AM CDT , Blogger Sarah S. G. Frantz said...

Yeah, I'm right there with you, honestly. I think they SHOULD have a presence. But I get what the authors are saying too, so it's hard to balance that.

Thanks for your support of the genre! :)


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