Friday, June 3, 2011

Is there a reader in the house?

I'm new to this whole blogging thing, at least on anything resembling a regular basis, and I mean that in the sense of both reading and writing.  Although I've read occasional blog entries as the result of searches for specific information, none have been regular destinations for me.  Until recently, that is.

And rather than let the history get away from me, which it can do because it has this sometimes annoying tendency to just keep growing, I figure it's time to start documenting the why and the wherefore of this particular blog, which is pretty generic looking because I haven't had time to play with it and make it really cool.  But after all, it's the words that count, not the flourishes.  Don't worry; they'll arrive in due time.

So here's what happened --

A few months ago, an acquaintance brought me an obituary he had clipped from his New York Times.  He knows I used to write so he occasionally brings me news items about the publishing industry.  That's how I found out Kate Duffy had passed away, and, more recently, Walter Zacharius, founder and former president of Kensington Publishers/Zebra Books.

Walter and I didn't really know each other, but I published three historical romances with Zebra's Heartfire line in the early '90s, so we at least had a tangential connection.  I attended a couple of the lavish dinners Zebra put on for its authors at RWA national conferences, and I sparred a couple times with Walter's son Stephen over accounting practices when he addressed some PAN-only workshops.  In 1993 I left Zebra for Pocket Books and that was the end of my involvement with Walter Zacharius.

Eventually, my brief tenure with Pocket Books resulted in 1996 in my leaving Romancelandia almost** entirely for about 15 years.

But the news of Walter's passing put me in a kind of nostalgic mood.  Not one of those epiphanic moods -- is that a word? -- that prompt an instant and significant change in the direction of one's life.  No, it just got me to thinking about, well, y'know, what was going on and who was publishing what and that sort of thing.  For a couple of weeks I ruminated on this during my spare time, between the day job and taking care of the dogs and so on.  Finally, the nostalgia and curiosity reached a flash point.  I got on the ol' Internet and started looking for just generic info on the romance publishing industry. 

I had occasionally dropped into All About Romance over the years, and I think I had even visited Mrs. Giggles once or twice, but beyond that, I knew almost nothing about Romance's current presence on the web.  I had no idea what I'd find.

Now, let me back up a bit.  There are a few things I want to make clear at the outset, since this is my history.

I've been online since at least early 1992, maybe 1991.  (I'll look it up later and let you know for sure.)  I started with Prodigy, moved to GEnie and AOL.  It was in a GEnie romance writers' discussion forum on 13 October 1994 that I proposed the formation of what became RWA's Published Authors' Special Interest Chapter, or PASIC.  I royally screwed up in 1995 when, as Workshop Chair for RWA's national conference in Hawaii that summer, I got a call from some weird guy who wanted to do a workshop on something called "the World Wide Web."  He said it was gonna be bigger than the Internet and people who got in on the beginning were gonna be damn glad they did.  Maybe if he'd been a little less weird on the phone or done a better pitch, I might have invited him to do a presentation, but he was weird and I didn't.  So it's not like I'm totally new to this whole online 'Net Web thing.

But I'm also not up on all the current gizmos and doodads.  I don't have a smart phone or anything with an i in front of its name.  I don't Twitter and I don't Facebook.  (I occasionally text on my basic dinosaur cell phone but I'd rather just talk.)  I have a big ol' desktop PC and a newer laptop.

So with this background, and my curiosity piqued by news of Walter's death, I got on the 'Net and started looking for items of interest.

Now, some might call it fate or karma or just blind luck, but one of the very first places I landed was AAR's blog about Connie Brockway's venture into self-publishing.  And I thought HOT FUCKING DAMN!

To be continued. . . . .

**I want to add this footnote that when I went back to college in 1998, I frequently used my background in the romance novel industry as a jumping off point for research and research papers.  More on that later.  I just didn't want anyone to think I had completely exiled myself from Romancelandia.  Not at all.

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