DC Area Storytellers

The DC Area Storytellers are a group of authors of multiple genres residing in or near the Washington, DC area. Published within the fields of romance, science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, fiction and non-fiction, this diverse group of authors offers a wide range of works for readers to savor.

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Adventures in Capclave

Saturday, October 24, 2009
My report on Capclave 2009 is now live at Beyond the Veil. And the rest of the photos can be found on my Flickr page. Enjoy!

Jean Marie
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Thursday, October 15, 2009
A brief report on the Ellora's Cave authors' and readers' convention, Romanticon.


Erotic romance publisher Ellora’s Cave (www.ellorascave.com) put on its first annual Romanticon last weekend in Ohio near the publisher’s headquarters. This is one of my publishers; I have several paranormal erotic romances out from them, plus a contemporary elf romance from their non-erotic division, Cerridwen Press. The con was cozy and relaxing, with (from what I heard) about 150 people attending. Only about half were authors, meaning the other half were fans of our books. Cool! The vast majority were women. I saw only a few men other than the seven or eight cover models who posed for pictures and performed roles such as announcing raffle ticket winners at the big group events.

I’ve never attended (or even heard of) a convention strictly for one publisher before. It turned out to be a delightful experience. The very nice program book, in trade paperback format, included detailed summaries of the panels and pages with spaces for each author’s name, so people could collect signatures in a systematic way. I signed more autographs than I ever have at one time, thanks to that feature. We had a huge book fair Sunday afternoon. I got to stay for most of it (having to leave for the airport about fifteen minutes before the end) and sold four or five books. The Friday night event was a “psychedelic soiree,” a casual meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, etc., with music from the 1960s and early 1970s—my generation’s sound. The music was way too loud, but I’m always on the losing side on that issue. Sigh. The tie-dyed theme carried throughout the weekend but was especially prominent on this evening. I enjoyed seeing people’s fringed miniskirts and other hippie attire. I wore a caftan.

The Saturday night dinner included recognition and awards, some serious, most of them fun and frivolous, such as “most erotic use of e-mail in a story” and “hottest home improvement.” One nice feature was the presentation of “Rising Star” trophies to all the authors who had new releases this year.

Panels and presentations discussed business and genre-related topics for writers. I thought the most interesting and useful features was the set of reader focus session, in which readers gave feedback on what they like and dislike in various subgenres of romance. The 50- to 60-minute time slots didn’t really leave enough room to talk as much as people wanted. Under the moderation of the managing editor, these sessions were lively and a rousing success. To me, the most interesting and useful was the discussion on taboos in romance. What situations and character types turn readers off? What words are or are not sexy?

Naturally, people didn’t all agree about language. Whether certain words are exciting or repellent depends so much on individual background and age. We did agree that some terms might work in context for a man to use in conversation, but the heroine wouldn’t use those same words.

It was also fascinating to hear what readers and authors thought about behavior that would make characters ineligible to be heroes or heroines. For example, how close can two people be related and still have a romantic bond? Most people thought a stepparent and stepchild couple would be acceptable in some circumstances. Opinion was divided on first cousins, but nobody seemed to mind the idea of such a pairing in historical fiction, since those marriages were more common in earlier centuries than now (in this country, anyway). Any transgression in the category of harming children or cruelty to animals, everyone agreed, made a character irredeemable. Rape (no matter how far in the past) also barred a man from becoming a romantic hero. (That’s quite a difference from a few decades ago, when a relationship could begin with rape if the author could convince the reader of extenuating circumstances. No romance publisher would allow that plot device nowadays.) A murderer, however, could be redeemed, depending on the circumstances, his motive, and his emotional and moral growth since the act. A woman who’d worked as a prostitute could be a heroine, again depending on her reasons for taking up that career.

I also enjoyed the session on preferences in paranormal romance, since that's my field. For instance -- does a shapeshifter have to shift into a predatory animal? How about stallions and bulls?

Overall, it was a super weekend.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

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Jean Marie's Capclave Schedule

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Now that I’ve (more or less) recovered from DragonCon, it’s again time to put on my convention hat and party hard—er, prepare to educate and entertain at Capclave 2009, this Friday to Sunday, October 16-18. Capclave is the Washington, DC, area’s premier science fiction, fantasy and horror convention. Although it focuses on literature, particularly short stories, you can’t bring a bunch of daft writers together and not wind up with a good time.

If this sounds like your thing, you can find us at the Hilton, Washington DC/Rockville Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, from 3 p.m. this Friday until 5 p.m. on Sunday. I hope you’ll join us. I especially hope you’ll attend a panel of mine. Or two. Or all of them. The one thing I’ve learned over the course of my writing career is you can never be too rich or have too many fans.

Seriously, the thin thing is negotiable.

Jean Marie’s 2009 Capclave Schedule:

Friday, 8 p.m.
Fantasy-Mystery – From Harry Dresden to Rachel Morgan to Sookie Stackhouse to Anita Blake, a lot of popular urban fantasies/paranormal romances seem to be mysteries. Why add this element to the mix? What works and what doesn’t when you combine them?
Panelists: Andrew Fox (m), Peter Heck, Victoria Janssen, Jean Marie Ward, Diane Weinstein

Friday, 10 p.m.
Kryptonite for Characters – What do you do to limit your characters and keep them from being too powerful? What flaws do you give them? How do you have them grow and gain without becoming gods?
Panelists: Diane Weinstein (m), Davey Beauchamp, Neil Clarke, Tom King, Jean Marie Ward

Friday, 11 p.m.
Are Vampires Still #1? – Why are vampires so popular? Is anything likely to rival them—werewolves? Zombies? What? Whose vampires are the best and why?
Panelists: Andrew Fox (m), Davey Beauchamp, Darrell Schweitzer, Jean Marie Ward, Lawrence Watt-Evans

Saturday, 11 a.m.
Paranormal Romance—Just Chick Lit? – Why is the main character in paranormal romance usually female? Is the audience meant to be women only? What is the right balance between the paranormal and the romance? (And, the moderator adds, why the heck aren’t there any men on this panel? Hmph! I have a feeling I’m going to have to be a very bad girl on this one.)
Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (m), Mattie Brahen, Mindy Klasky, Victoria Janssen

Saturday, 1 p.m.
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading – Join the Broads of Capclave as they read fast-paced excerpts from their latest fictions. There will be chocolate.
Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (m), Diane Arrelle, Roxanne Bland, Kelly A. Harmon, Victoria Janssen

Sunday, 11 a.m.
Paranormal Versus Urban Fantasy – Is paranormal romance just another name for urban fantasy? If not, what is the distinction? How do writers determine the right balance between paranormal and romance? Is it just classic boy meets girl or does being a paranormal make it different?
Panelists: Scott Andrews (m), Catherine Asaro, Karen Newton, Edmund Schubert, Jean Marie Ward, Diane Weinstein


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New Book Trailer: Only In My Dreams

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Only In My Dreams, Book 5 of the Halle Pumas, is coming November 10th! And remember, you can enter to win an ARC of the book! Simply click here, fill out the form with your email address and the electronic format you'd like to receive the book in and you'll be entered to win! The contest ends November 9th, when I'll post the winner on my blog, my MySpace blog and on my website.

Good luck!
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Free For a Week: A Valentine's Gift For Tori

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Red Rose Publishing is offering A Valentine's Gift for Tori for free for one week. Simply buy any ebook on the RRP website and you can get my book for free between 08 Oct to 14 Oct. Check out the site for the full details.


She wants a boyfriend for Valentine's and her husband wants to deliver.

Tori has come to the realization that her marriage lacks the spark it had in the beginning. She and her husband argue more than anything else and she foresees a nasty break-up on the horizon if something doesn't change. When he asks her what she wants for Valentine's Day, her answer is scandalous and straightforward—a boyfriend.

Rather than be upset, her husband is intrigued by the idea and sets out to make it happen. Tori has set herself—and him—an impossible goal and her prospects aren't that promising. But she's determined to have a boyfriend in time for the most romantic holiday of the year.

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Monday, October 5, 2009
A Starving Writer Asks...

Amanda Palmer asks an interesting question. Are the changes we see in the media publishing world going to mean that all artists will soon be passing the hat to earn a living? It might be one of the options as things shake out.

Is Patronage the answer? Is one question discussed on Futurismic.

A similar question is whether authors should get paid more now that we are doing more of the work. M.J. Rose thinks Publishers Must Change the Way Authors Get Paid.

And here’s a series of essays on self-publishing that also generate some good questions.

What do you think?

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