Monday, March 10, 2008

All Hail to the Queen!

By Anna Campbell

I'm delighted to welcome Michelle Buonfiglio, Queen of Bloglandia, to the lair. Michelle writes about romance fiction at myLifetime.com in Romance: B(u)y the Book. Within that is a blog called “Let’s Talk Romance.” She writes weekly columns about new romances, AuthorView interviews, Video AuthorViews and special features like this tribute to cover models.

Michelle has very generously offered one lucky commenter a prize pack of champagne bubble bath, chocolates and romance novels. Because I'm just so dang excited she's here at last, I'm offering another lucky commenter a copy of Sizzle, Seduce and Simmer, which features recipes and short stories from some of Australia's best romance writers.

So the long and short of it is, GET COMMENTING, PEOPLE!


Michelle, your blog began as Romance by the Blog and has since moved to myLifetime.com as Romance: B(u)y the Book. It has always been incredibly popular with readers and writers. The Banditas are a young blog and we’d love to know your secrets. To what do you attribute your blog’s long-lasting and unfailing success?

First, thanks so much, Anna, and my little Banditas for letting me join you in the Lair. What an honor, to be among such talent and wit! Can’t wait to chat today with everyone who hangs here.

Actually, Romance: B(u)y the Book came first! I wanted to write about romance fiction in a respectful way that appealed to the smart, savvy women who read and write it, as well as to introduce the genre to folks who don’t know anything about it. And I got a gig with WNBC.com and 80+ TV news websites to “webdicate” my opinion columns, AuthorView interviews, etc. It wasn’t so much about reviewing, as my trying to entertain and engage – hopefully! - while writing about books I love. The blog, Romance: By the Blog came about six months later, and I actually wasn’t too hepped to do it! I mean, I had a ton of work and deadlines as it was. But my husband, an Internet sales and marketing guy, kept saying, “If you blog it, they will come…” Plus, he thought of it as a way for me to meet women to talk with about romance, probably so I’d stop talking about it to him.

I think you Banditas probably are experiencing what I did, that you build slowly and welcome every single viewer who cares enough to make a connection by commenting at your blog. All the while, we write for the folks who are loyal, non-commenting readers. I don’t believe high page views equal success in “genre” blogging; it’s kind of a “who’s” reading your thing, who’s taking your info and sharing it with friends, either online or non-digitally. We used to call that word-of-mouth! It’s remarkably hard work, but the emotional payoff is enormous. I have no secrets, I simply did another thing my husband kept telling me when I’d get frustrated, wanting everything to happen yesterday. He said to just keep doing the work. Write as well as I can, interact with viewers, make friends, develop and be true to my ethics. That worked for me, because the right “who” saw my content, recommended it to someone at Lifetime, and it moved forward from there. I couldn’t be happier to have the platform to represent romance fiction to such a broad audience.

One of the things I love about RBTB is how you’ve established such a strong community. There’s a definite sense of girlfriends getting together to have a good goss and it makes guests feel immediately welcome and comfortable. How do you achieve this warm atmosphere?

I love the intimacy – and often outrageousness
of our blog, and was amazed from the beginning at how much women craved a “safe” somewhere to share how they felt about reading romance. The Bellas also are welcoming of new viewers, go out of their way to say hi, etc. The right mix of women seems to like dropping in, and I think the only really good thing I’ve done is let them help me set the tone, and afford them as much ownership as possible. And I’ve tried to make viewers feel not afraid to comment, though it’s always a challenge when there’s a core group of regulars. Empathy probably drives what I do - does that make sense? I’m just hardwired to worry about how I make people feel, to tap into their emotions. Recently, I think I lost a viewer because I communicated poorly, possibly ignorantly, and I’m feeling pretty awful over it.

Do you have any advice for people setting out to conquer the blog universe?

First, write what you know, as well as you know how, and as honestly as possible. You’ll gain viewership and reputation among people who want to read what you want to communicate. Next, decide your goal/s. Are you cyber-journaling? Do you want to make money with the blog? Do you want to build a community of like-minded folks, but not monetize the project? Second, work like a fiend to “virally” market. Connect with other similar bloggers, help each other promote, search out places like blogher.com to list your blog. blogher is the premier aggregating site for women bloggers, and is amazing. Finally, accept that the Internet is not anonymous. Make sure that you’re comfortable with something you’ve written coming back to haunt you. You can get in trouble for slander, copyright infringement etc. While there’s some leeway for non-commercial bloggers, look up laws on posting rights-limited images and content.

Have you noticed any differences in your blog since you’ve moved to Lifetime?

Since Lifetime’s a large cable network in 90 million U.S. households, they obviously have style and content standards, legal eagles, branding issues – checks and balances you don’t have to deal with when you blog on your own. But they also have a built in female viewership who love romance, sex, hot guys and the stuff we love to talk about at RBTB. Add to that the ability to produce multi-layered promotion packages for authors and books, and I’ve got the platform I dreamed of the very day I envisioned RBTB. Only better: I get to shoot video interviews and upcoming romance features shot and produced by the Lifetime Television crew in our LA studios! I’m considered the editor of my blog, but even so, I really erred toward the side of caution at first, staying kinda mainstream in the content. But now, looks like anything’s fair game. Which is good, cause as my Bellas would tell you, I can pretty much turn any blog discussion into a naughty celebration of the merits of length vs. girth. Technically, we had lots of glitches at first. But myLifetime.com’s in the process of rebuilding their blog tool, and in the second quarter, we’re actually consolidating all RBTB content into the blog, which I’m totally psyched about.

Could you describe your ideal guest?

You, Anna! Now, I’m not just doing the pretty here. But when you came, you did the things that make GuestBlogs successful. First, you made it about connecting, not about book promotion. Book promotion always should happen as secondary to making friends with readers, and giving your friends a new experience. To that end, you brought along the Banditas and your readers. This infuses new life, gets a different vibe jazzing, and often encourages lurkers to be brave enough to comment. Most important, you take time to swap comments with individual viewers. That’s the connection that RBTB is all about. Guest blogs – any promotion
should be symbiotic. The buzz phrase of Internet 2.0, or the “new age” of encouraging “users” to direct/generate content (UGC) and thus make it more vibrant is: Be Generous. That means link, share and reciprocate. It all comes back to you.

Wow, thanks, Michelle, she said, blushing. Now I’d love to talk about you, seeing you spend all your time on the net offering authors a wonderful opportunity to promote themselves! Could you tell us about your background? I notice you didn’t read romance when you were younger. What books influenced you when you were growing up? Were you always a reader?

Oh, yeah. Like so many romance lovers, I was a total nerd about books; they were my best friends, etc. I used to fantasize I lived in “olden” times, because I was chubby, and figured they dug chubby chicks then. Once I got to college, I was lucky to be introduced to sophisticated stuff, and learned how to study it. Some of the books that still affect me were by Kozinski, Nabakov, Percy; at least I think of them often in a series of images and emotions. I love A.S. Byatt’s Possession. That and The Witch of Blackbird Pond are two of my fave books ever. But my writing style, I think, is most influenced by sports writer Rick Riley, and Fr. Bede Hines. Riley, of course, wrote for Sports Illustrated and writes succinctly, always tying in real life and his readers’ realities to the issue he takes on. Bede Hines taught me a valuable creativity technique. We pulled random photos from the paper, and created a tight short story from each. Now, I can pretty much link any vignette or riff to a book I’m featuring, and work a smooth transition in the process. It’s also a great blogging technique. I’ve also worked in PR, marketing, sales, fund raising and I spent many years as a stage performer and public speaker, wrote and voiced, produced radio and TV ads. All this stuff comes into play when I create a package to promote an author and, in doing that, the romance genre.

What was the first romance you read and what was it about that story or subsequent stories that converted you into the tireless advocate for the genre that you’ve become?

Vicki Lewis Thompson’s The Nerd Who Loved Me was the first contemporary romance. Although when I look back, I’d always fantasized about love, loved the opera – which is romance set to score, no? (Anna: YES!) – and so it makes sense I’ve been drawn to the genre. Anyway, I’d read only lit that was “good for me,” and Oprah books and stuff. And this book was so sexy and joyful and kinda funny, it hooked me. Then when I found historical romance, the deal was sealed; I could read an historical romance every day for the rest of my life and never get tired. I hope they have them in the afterlife. My drive to promote the genre comes somewhat from being a zealot, partially from being an “advocate” from way back. I always seem to need a cause. But writing about romance, spending time with fellow readers, moving within the industry and having fellow writers as colleagues – it’s about as perfect a place as I’ve been in my life. It’s very empowering to feel that I’m helping women embrace their fantasies. Those fantasies can be readers wanting to be part of a large community of women whose tastes matter, or writers who wish to further their careers by meeting a broader audience.

Have you ambitions to be a romance writer yourself?

Ugh, no. But RBTB did start from my thinking I’d like to write a romance. Then I decided quickly I wasn’t any good at it and didn’t enjoy it. Having had that experience, as well as being a writer, these things make me better at what I do. I look at books I consider for promotion with an eye toward the sweat and blood and heart that goes into writing a manuscript, let alone getting it published. It keeps me humble when I’m doing my job, and reminds me that I feel really good about the way I choose to write about authors and books.

Michelle gets paid to read romance novels. How cool would it be to have her job? Would you rather have long-range deadlines of novel writing, or daily deadlines of feature writing and blogging? Michelle will drop in to answer questions - I know I've got lots I want to ask her (and I got to do the interview!). And don't forget the Bandita Booty for two lucky commenters.

182 comments:

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle and hi Anna! Lovely interview.

I have to say I love the idea of being paid to read romance so I almost opted for that preference. But then I've just been writing a scene in my current book and it's flowing (sort of) and I'm hoping that readers will feel that same punch of emotion when they read it. And if they do...nothing beats that! So, while I'd love to just read and read, I'd have to write sometimes too, because when it comes together writing romance is just fantastic!

Welcome again to the lair, Michelle. I hope you enjoy it here.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I'm so glad you're writing a love scene - means I get to read it some time soon and you know I ADORE your sexy bits! By the way, do you know you got the GR? Congratulations.

Michelle, thanks so much for visiting us today. I've been wanting to lure you into the lair ever since we first met. If you get a chance, I'd love to know what treats you've got coming up on Lifetime for your romance fiends.

Amy Andrews said...

Hey Annie - you got the GR!! Take good care of him now. Keep him safe and warm - he likes our downunder weather.

What a cool job, Michelle. I too have read Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerd series and absoutely loved it so I can see why they were your lightbulb moment with romance.

I don't know about deadlines but I do know I'd love to be paid to read...

Annie West said...

Amy, I realised after I'd posted that I'd sidetracked myself into the prospect of reading romance for a living. Beautiful dream. I wonder if that's because the idea of deadlines is anathema at the moment? Amazing how the rotten things sneak up on you!

Yes, don't worry, I'll look after the precious golden chook (he, he).

Anna, I'm chortling myself silly at your statement about liking my 'sexy bits'. I know what you mean but...! However, it's nice to know you're addicted to love scenes and mine seem to rate well with you. Not quite sure about this one, particularly the male POV in this instance, but I'm hoping.

Michelle, I'd meant to ask whether you could give us an indication of how many hours a week you put into RTBT to start with and how this has changed as you've progressed. And how on earth do you manage to take vacations and still deliver? Is it a matter of being incredibly organised?

Annie

Denise Rossetti said...

Michelle, the gods are smiling. You chose to visit with the Banditas the day after I launched my blog. Literally!

I've been soaking up all your great tips and advice, and I have to say that even from my newbie perspective, I agree. I know that I enjoy a blog that's about genuine connection, plus integrity. Sure, I don't want to know every little detail of the blogger's personal life, but her "voice" is just as important as it is in writing romance novels. I want her to be true to herself. Because it's a conversation, after all.

And while I'm on a roll, thank you so much for featuring A RED HOT NEW YEAR as a Hot Read for Chilly Nights. I didn't believe my eyes at first. That was so cool - or hot. *g*

As for the deadlines. Hmm, that's hard. I'm terrible at deadlines, but I do love, LOVE to chat. (Stop giggling up the back there, Anna and Christine. You always knew that.) Oh, and I adore opera too and I'll be blogging about it soon. You listening, doglady?

Now I'm off to check out blogher. Thanks again, Michelle and Anna.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning, to the ladies down under!! (yes I'm up late writing, despite the storm passing through Texas tonight.)

Welcome Michelle to the Bandit Lair. We're thrilled to have you visit us. When you're doing books for your blog, do you try to mix up the genres to help keep more readers coming to the site? Or do you find yourself picking books that are similar in either genre type or writing style?

Vanessa said...

Terrific post, Anna and Michelle! Thanks for sharing your very handy tips on blogging.

Jane said...

Hi Michelle,
You mentioned staying mainstream in content. Did you ever feel that you couldn't express your feelings and thoughts fully as a result of this?

Christine Wells said...

Hi Michelle, welcome to the lair! And thanks a bunch for luring Michelle here, Anna. What a great interview.

I've read a lot of blogs and I think the elements you mentioned, Michelle, of giving something to the reader as well as sharing a little of yourself are very important. Some blogs are so impersonal they could be text books and others ramble about personal things but ignore the supposed focus of the blog. I always wonder when the writer doesn't even respond to comments. Why have a blog? Why not just post articles on a website if you're not going to interact at all? The idea of relating something personal to your chosen subject matter appeals to me and they tend to be the posts I engage with most.

Hmm, to answer your question, Fo, I tend to spend hours writing and responding to comments on my blog posts and my individual blog is very neglected, so I think writing a novel sounds easier, to be honest! Although that is by no means a simple task.

Congrats on the Golden Rooster, Annie! Looks like he's back, enjoying the Oz sunshine for a while:)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Banditas! It's so very cool to be with you today. Thanks, Anna, for letting me come visit; I really enjoyed answering your questions. One of the things I'm finally able to do a bit more of now that I'm settled in at myLifetime.com (a year in May) is hang a bit more in romancelandia, which I've totally missed.

That really goes to what Annie (hullo!)was asking about the amt of time I spend per week working. I'd say I put in about 60 hours per week, and have a ton of stress, which is mostly self imposed. I don't really spend enough of that time reading. To look at new books, I often take weekends in which I pretty much veg and do just that. I also use that "task" as a treat for meeting weekly deadlines. :)The photos here are from a trip to Italy my husband and I took for our 15th anni in Oct. I workd about 3 weeks straight to get everything done in advance so I didn't bring my computer. Of course, if I'd brought it, I believe my marriage might have ended at the 15 mark...

Hi, Suzanne! You ask: When you're doing books for your blog, do you try to mix up the genres to help keep more readers coming to the site?

This is a great question, especially because I write for a very broad audience. When I look at books to feature, I look for two kinds. First, fabulously well written with awesome storytelling; the kinds of novels that appeal to the "sophisticated" reader of romance. By that, I mean a reader who knows romance well, understands the language.

The other type is the "accessible," novel, that is, the romance in which the storytelling is fabulous and engaging, but the language and plot aren't agonizingly complex. For these (brace yourselves; I've stopped more than one conversation cold with this opinion) the writing doesn't have to be exquisite, or particularly noteworthy. Remember, not all romance readers are writers (so they don't care about the "nit-picky" grammar rules we agonize over), not all romance readers are history buffs (so story is more important to them than addition of hist accurate details, or whether an author makes a mistake). And this, to me, is the most important, often forgotten one: not all romance readers went to college or even graduated from high school. Sure, we know the stats and celebrate how well educated, etc. romance readers are. But I don't ignore the readers who need books they can sink into w/out feeling intimidated.

Taking that into consideration, I try to alternate featuring an historical and contemporary on opposite weeks. I also switch up sensuality levels and trends of paranormals. Each of these is an opportunity to teach readers new to romance something about the genre at the same time the choir thinks (hopefully), "oh! Yeah, I love that about romance" or "I remember that..."

Congratulazione, Denise! Awesome that you'll be writing about opera; very sexy stuff. It was a pleasure including RHNY in the feature -- one of those cool extras I get to put together at myLifetime.com that really help illustrate romance for readers -- and the book was hawt!

Alli said...

Hi Michelle,

I must say I'm usually a lurker, but having you talk about how important it is for you to make 'lurkers' feel comfortable enough to comment, has encouraged me to do so. Thanks.

I love to read AND write, but sometimes it's easier to read someone elses work than to write my own *g*

Great interview, Anna, as always.

Alli

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Michelle, welcome to the lair. I loved the interview and found it fascinating.

I'd still rather be writing on a six month deadline than have to be writing a blog every day. That just doesn't fulfill my creative/fantasy requirment.

I do have a question for you. I only blog on Romance Bandits. Do you think it's important for a writer to have her own blog too?

Denise Rossetti said...

Congratulazione, Denise! Awesome that you'll be writing about opera; very sexy stuff.

Oooh yes, drippingly romantic. The duet from The Pearl Fishers first up, I think. Later this week. That one always makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. *shivers*

Joan said...

Welcome to the lair, Michelle,

I loved your analysis of what makes a "good" blog. I love the dynamics we Banditas have and feel we have a good balance between readers and fellow writers....a true community.

It's just so great to know that romance fiction has such a champion as yourself promoting our stories. Thanks!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Christine! I'd like to say I think writing a novel is easier than what I do, but I know that ain't the case. :) In terms of "connection" blogs, they appeal to us as romance readers and writers because we tend to feel really comfortable with emotion; we crave connection. The Internet gives romance readers a safe haven where we celebrate one another. We don't have to prove ourselves first. The romance industry is the same way, because it's driven and ,mostly, populated by women. It's a real treat to deal w/in it.

It's cool, though, to look at all the different types of blogs out there. In terms of being "authentic," I guess what I mean is, if you write a rant blog, do it as well and consistently as you can. If it's a "cute pet of the day" blog, do the same. In terms of success, I think the blogger needs to get right with what s/he wants to say and say it. Of course, then we get to deal with the fallout or the windfall, depending on which we're looking to generate through our blog.

Good question, Jane, though what I wrote was that at first I erred toward the side of caution and kept more mainstream. Here's why: It makes sense that folks would be skeptical about a blogger moving to a "corporate" space. Blog communities sometimes resist change, and have "turned on" bloggers when they've tried to monetize or move up. So I tried to be sensitive to the needs of the Bellas, as well as my own desire to bring romance to a bigger, broaders audience of women viewer. Yes, and to make more money doing it.

Before I contracted with Lifetime, I made sure that I would be able to choose the books that are featured w/out regard to advertisers, etc. I also was told that I didn't have to tone down anything at my blog. I was assured that pressure to do otherwise was not part of Lifetime corporate operation, and I've seen nothing to indicate otherwise.

I'm editor of my blog and write whatever I want in whatever style I choose. Main articles, AuthorViews, etc., are subject to style book editing and copy editing, just like at any major publication.

That said, my favorite saying, and one that seems to work for me in life is: You don't poop where you eat. So I kept my ear to the ground to figure out what viewers were comfortable with before I started branching out into the boy-on-boy talk. I also needed to woo and educate a bit before we could get to that stuff. This isn't much different from what I did when I built the original RBtheBlog. It comes down to my style, which is the way I choose to show respect for my viewers.

Christine Wells said...

Alli, you must know you are always welcome at the lair. We hope you didn't need Michelle to tell you that!

We have our regular commenters and those we see now and again--yes we remember you all and we even gossip about you and worry when you're not around! We know there are lots of people who fly by and don't say anything--that's fine, as long as no one feels intimidated (well, actually, that Foanna chick can be pretty scary, but still...) We want everyone to feel like they can pop in and chew the fat with us any time.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Amy! Those Nerds are a fab example of books that turned on a huge cross section of readers to romance. VLT not only had an "overnight" success on that one because of the Reading with Ripa connection, she brought romance a lot of new eyeballs. :)

Hullo, Vanessa! You're very welcome. For what my opinion's worth, anywayz...

Oh, Alli! What a nice compliment; I applaud your bravery. You have so much to offer here. I laughed when you wrote about reading being more fun than writing your own stuff, cause it's SO totally the story of my life. :)

Hiya, Christine! I think it's important for a writer to have a web site or page where readers can find out info about you and contact you in some way. But the group blog is very powerful for authors, because you share readers, support each other and -- oh, this is the sweetest part -- work as a team to share the load. That way it takes far less of your time, and the payoff is greater.

In terms of the creative output thing, contrary to what you see here, I really am a tight, short writer. No, really! So I like the challenge of writing tight and editing and slicing and dicing. But the real creativity for me comes from cooking up a full RBTB package for an author (Main romance section at myLifetime) that includes a theme, maybe video, teases that draw viewers, and a feature column that ties it all together. I get really jazzed about what I exclusives I can give readers while doing something great for an author.

For instance, the week of the 18th, we're celebrating Lisa Kleypas' "Blue Eyed Devil" release. Just for RBTB, she's re-written the opening of the book from the hero, Hardy Cates' first person pov! Plus, you'll get to read an exclusive sneak peek from her November "Wallflower Christmas." And to top it all off, you can get a coupon for a rebate on BED. She'll be doing her web=exclusive GuestBlog at RBTB, and I've also got a video interview with her.

This is the type of rich, layered package that I want viewers to enjoy.

Oh, and J.R. Ward's also given RBTB the web-exclusive to her next book, "Lover Enshrined." We're cooking up fun stuff for that now! That'll include her only guest blog anywhere.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Christine and Banditas, I think this is a wonderfully welcoming blog. And a true, cohesive community. Remember the day Anna GuestBlogged at RBTB? You all were like a big, happy swarm heading over throughout the day. Yet you interacted with the "regulars," which is so key. Sometimes a guest blogger can bring along friends and they kinda take over the place, which is very challenging, because you want to welcome them, but you don't want your regulars to feel intimidates or put off.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thanks so much, Joan. Can you tell me about the Golden Rooster? Because my mind is just teeming with ideers, all of them lurid...

Portia Da Costa said...

Agh, here I am late to the party as usual!

Wow, 60 hours a week, that's an incredible workload. You must have incredible stamina and dedication... and it certainly shows in the blog. It's such a vibrant place. I love it. I really feel as if I'm among my buddies there, regardless of whether I'm nattering with the Bellas, or sometimes, even being the guest!

ps. I love A. S. Byatt's Possession too. I'm not a lover of literary fiction as a rule, but this book is my exception to that rule. It's amazing and I feel like reading it again soon. Have you read 'Angels and Insects' too? Also superb!

Love

Portia

Alli said...

Christine, thanks for the lovely welcome, again, and I know I can pop in any time.

Blogging is new to me, but I believe it's an important tool for writers. I mostly lurk to learn from the Masters *g*

Michelle, I'm glad I gave you a laugh. Thanks for sharing your tips and experiences about blogging.

Alli

PJ said...

Buongiorno Bella Michelle!

What a wonderful interview! I'm a regular reader at Michelle's blog though I don't always have time to leave a comment. Like the Banditas, Michelle is not only gifted with words but also with the warm, welcoming hand she extends to every visitor to her blog.

I'm also an avid fan of Vicki Lewis Thompson's nerds and of her new Hex series. I was thrilled to meet her in person last weekend at Celebrate Romance (Michelle, you really must come next year!) and just learned yesterday that she will receive RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award this summer in San Francisco.

I'm definitely a reader, not a writer, though I have just recently dipped my literary pen into the waters of romance review. Have to admit it was a lot of fun and I don't think I'm half bad at it. O'course, that's just my opinion. :) Still, I wouldn't mind doing that on a regular basis but I in no way aspire to write a novel like the wonderfully imaginative banditas or a daily blog like you, Michelle. I'll leave the creative genius to y'all and happily snuggle up with with the fruits of your labor.

I'm off to shop this morning but will pop back in this afternoon. Great to have you here in the lair, Michelle!

Kirsten said...

Hi Michelle, and welcome any Bellas that stop by! We hope you're having fun in the Lair.

Michelle, I feel like I should curtsey, but it's 5AM and I might hurt myself, so I'll just bow instead. :-) I am just sitting here like a sponge to soak up any little drops of wisdom that come down today (and there have already been a lot!).

You said something that made my day:

"And this, to me, is the most important, often forgotten one: not all romance readers went to college or even graduated from high school. Sure, we know the stats and celebrate how well educated, etc. romance readers are. But I don't ignore the readers who need books they can sink into w/out feeling intimidated."

I hate that this could be considered controversial! What you're talking about is recognizing good stories, even (especially!) when they aren't smothered in high-powered vocabulary. I think romance writers must be storytellers first, writers second. I don't care who you're writing for. You need to put aside your desire to sound smart and just tell a great story.

Whew! That's my soapbox for the day. :-)

Question for you: have you ever reviewed a book on your blog that you didn't personally like, but thought it would be a bestseller? How do you pick apart your own likes/dislikes and try to get at what a mass audience will like?

Question for the Bellas: can someone tell me how the Bellas got their name? We need a nickname for the Bandita Buddies, and Bellas is awesome!

Gillian Layne said...

Michelle, welcome and congrats on the GR! He loves chocolate, wine, long massages, and evidently classified survival training . . . he's a fun guy.

Anna--great interview! All done with the holiday, are you?

Michelle, I think interaction is key within a blog community. I've never understood why people don't respond to comments, unless they make it very clear that "information only" is the nature of the blog.

The community at Lifetime is incredible.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Kleypas interview--I'll be there with bells on! She's an auto-buy for me.

MaryKate said...

Well, well, well, I see our Queen Bella is makin' friends all over the interweb!

*waving and blowing kisses to Anna*

Hi, Anna! Thanks so much for inviting the Bellas to stop by and visit. Or, well, maybe just Michelle, but hey, where she goes, we swarm. Gotta support the Queen.

Question for the Bellas: can someone tell me how the Bellas got their name? We need a nickname for the Bandita Buddies, and Bellas is awesome!

Kirsten, Michelle is Italian, so she started calling us "Bellas." We love it. And are proud to be Bellas.

Let's see, I'm one of the regulars over at LTR. I hope that we're a welcoming bunch. Our feeling is, once you post once, you're a Bella. We have all kinds of readers and posters at LTR. From those who have only read a few romances, to those like me who have been reading romance for 25 years. We have a great time talking to the fantastic authors who come to visit and also, on off days, when we don't have a visiting author and the Bellas kind of get to drive. Michelle is incredibly kind and generous and has a great knack for being inclusive. It really is like a coffee klatch at LTR. We have cyber sofas, and everyone is on one with their cup of coffee (or in my case Diet Dr. Pepper).

I hope that the Banditas will come and visit us often.

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi again

I think we're called Bellas because of our Queen Bella's Italian heritage?

I just know it's a lovely name, and it gives me a huge kick to be called a Bella. :)

AndreaW said...

Hi Michelle! I'm also a lurker at your site. *blush*

This was a great interview! I have to agree that being paid to read is a DREAM JOB! Congrats on your success in the blog-o-sphere!!

~Andrea

Julie in Ohio said...

Morning, Banditas!! Hey, QB!!

I would like the perks of Michelle's job but not the job itself. But to have the problem of which ARC to read next would not be a hardship to me. ;o)
Not to mention the sitting around all day in my jammies eating bon-bons while playing on the 'puter. Using my imagination is all part of the fun of being on the 'net. ;p

limecello said...

Hi Michelle,
Wow - thanks for sharing all about your blogs. That is the coolest job - I'd love to have it. :D

doglady said...

Good morning Michelle and La Campbell! Great interview on a great topic. And nice grab of the GR, Annie W! He is one smart bird to stay downunder and enjoy the sunshine.

I am always thrilled for anyone to treat the romance novel with the respect it deserves. I don't have my own blog or website yet, but I will in the near future and I am definitely taking notes.

The Bellas are always so welcoming at RBTB and the Banditas are a traveling Mardi Gras! I think that is what makes a blog successful. An atmosphere of welcome, the ability to talk about anything and everything and to have a good time.

Before I came back to writing I think reading books for a living would have been my absolute dream job! What's not to love???

Now as a writer (AYU) I don't have any deadlines except the ones I try to set myself. I think once I get the call and have to write on a deadline it could get kind of hairy! Especially if I still have my DDJ (dreaded day job)

I am so excited to see so many opera fans! Yes, Denise, I am listening. Can't wait to read your blog on opera. My poor brothers were SCANDALIZED to see the gorgeous postcards of your covers framed and hanging on the walls of my writing studio. Too funny!

Opera is indeed romance set to music. So many of the themes we find in romance novels were in opera first. I mean if La Traviata is well done there should not be a dry eye in the house. I was lucky enough to sing Violetta with a tenor who had Hugh Jackman's looks, Pavarotti's voice, and Olivier's acting chops. His performance in the final scene was so heart wrenching the audience was on its feet before the last notes were played. And having this handsome young man collapse over my dead body weeping loud enough to be heard over the orchestra wasn't a bad experience at all!

Michelle, I truly want to thank you for the service you do to romance writers - many of the best at the game are Banditas. You don't just promote them you promote their readers and do it with class and wit.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Everyone; hullo, Bellas, too! MaryKate and JulieinOhio have been around since the beginning and Portia climbed on board a year ago during "Hot Topic" week, when we intro'd folks to erotic romance.

[sheepishly]: the myLifetime.com site was down for maintenance this a.m., and now is back up. I've got to pop over and post today's blog about my visit, then I'll be back. What great questions.

em, so this Golden Rooster needs special handling and care? Tell me more...

Nancy said...

Annie--congratulations on the GR!

Hi, Michelle and Anna. Thanks for the fascinating "behind the scenes" look at blog-building.

Michelle, welcome to the lair! I was particularly struck by your comment about women wanting a safe place to discuss the books they love. I run into a lot of women who read and enjoy romance but denigrate it as "trashy novels," as though they're ashamed to admit they like it. I see this as buying into the male-dominated literary establishment's line. ( If women like it, if it's geared to women, it can't be worth anything, and, oh, gawd, it has not only unrealistically happy endings but sex!)

I also found your comment about the importance of story above all interesting. I know I sometimes find myself taking side tours into historical details or obsessing about sentence structure when I read and enjoy many books that do neither.

Alli, glad you stopped in. Lurkers are always welcome, whether or not they step out of lurk mode.

Julie in Ohio, what to read next is always an issue for me. Always! Bandita books and those of other friends come first, but after that . . . it's an embarrassment of riches!

PJ, congratulations on your reviewing stint! I've done that a couple of times and enjoyed it. And I got free books from i. *g* I hope you get to do some more reviews.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Michelle! **Waving madly!** How exciting to have you in the Lair. Banditas, Michelle made her awesome announcement about moving to Lifetime TV at my chapter's Retreat last year. We've been so psyched for her. :> Congrats on all your wonderful success Michelle!

Welcome Bellas, and all our new visitors too. It's going to be a rockin' day in the Lair, I can tell.

Michelle, you asked about the Golden Rooster...he's the "prize" for being the first commenter of the day - actually for the new post, since what day it is in the States is irrelevant to our Oz pals. Snork! He's a well traveled chook, but seems to like it "Down Under" right now. (He's been particularly keen to hang out on Flchen's couch!) Must be because its wicked cold at Joanie's house in KY. He likes hanging out there. Her gladiators peel his grapes and she bakes awesome cookies.

For a while he was hanging out with P226 a lot too, learning commando tactics. We expect this is because of Cassondra's post about a bobcat. But it's snowy over in P226's neck of the woods too, so back to Oz he went today.

Grins. As you can tell, we have a lot of fun with our mythical bird.

SO, back to you...did you intend for RBTB to go where it's gone? Did you imagine it to be this incredible phenomenon when you began? When you spoke at Washington Romance Writers, you mentioned that you got some seriously negative comments (not from bloggers but from the peanut gallery) when you began, have they apologized, hat in hand, now that you're brimming with success? :>

Thanks for sharing all your fab wisdom, Michelle! Great interview Anna!

CrystalGB said...

Hi Michelle. Great post. You have a great job. I would love to have a job like that. :)

Donna MacMeans said...

Thank you for nabbing Michelle for us, Anna. Welcome to the lair, Michelle!

Of the two options offered, I believe I prefer writing romance. I love creating characters to carry out the plot thread I've concocted in my head. It's really magical when the characters start talking and acting out, and I get to exist in that magical world.

But I love to get lost in a novel as well. I sometimes would like things to happen differently, which is why I'd prefer to do the writing, but I absolutely love romance. Reading them as a way to make a buck would be a dream job as well.

MsHellion said...

Dude, I've always thought people who get to read romance novels for a living had the BEST job in the world! That was one of my dream jobs when I graduated high school and college, but I didn't know how to go about getting a job like that. (I had an English degree, but not a single class in how to market myself that this was a necessary job and only *I* could fill it. I'm beginning to suspect English majors should be forced to take a couple business classes for their own good. *LOL* At least in marketing.)

I don't know if I could blog every day...at least not as I do now with my other full time job. To get all those books read and blogged about!--that's more than a full time job, even if it's an enjoyable one.

Donna MacMeans said...

Wait - You only have to comment once and you're a Bella? Then I'm a Bella Bandita (big grin - only in blogland).

FWIW - I do have difficulty sometimes posting on RBTB. I keep getting validation errors, even though my name pops up with the welcome. SO I'm more of a lurker these days over there. But I enjoy the blog.

TracyG said...

"So I like the challenge of writing tight and editing and slicing and dicing."
Good morning, Michelle! This is exactly why I write novels - I don't believe I could write 'tight' to save my life. lol

Which historical genre is your favorite? Though I write westerns, I love to read books set over the pond.

Great post!
Tracy Garrett

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Michelle! Thanks so much for being here and for sharing your great pointers on blogging *g* And thanks to our Anna for a wonderful interview!

I would love to be paid to read romance but I don't have it in me to come up with more than one or two blog topics a month. Luckily, I have endless story ideas so I'll stick with novel writing :-)

How do you come up with so many blog topics? Do you brainstorm ideas? Keep lists? Revisit any tried and true topics that are guaranteed to generate comments?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ms. Hellion, as a former English and Library Science major, I could not AGREE more! I think every college major should have Business 101, don't you? Heck, I'm a proponent of Biz 101 for high schoolers. Some of our biggest billionaires never went to college or at least never graduated. We could use some more of those brilliant folks, and maybe Biz 101 in high school would foster it. *VBG*

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Banditas! I'm back!

Welcome Michelle, my fellow football fan (and Janice Lynn fan *g*). Great to have you here and to learn from the Queen B of blogging!

Welcome to all the Bellas who have joined us in the Lair!

Alli - glad you finally plucked up (oops, can I say that with the GR around?) the courage to join us! Hope you'll say hi more often now.

Great question, Foanna - if my hockey hunks ever sell I'll be more than happy to be a writer *grin* - but I could be a reviewer while I'm waiting (yes, always after the best of both worlds!)

Stacy~ said...

Hello Banditas! It's a pleasure to visit over here, and we love our Bella Michelle a ton. I've known her for about 2 years, and have enjoyed every minute of it. Great friends, great books, great hotties - what more could you ask for?!


Hi Anna! I just re-read "Untouched" this weekend because some of the blogs I visit were talking about it, and I sighed and ooohed & aahed all over again. Matthew is just divine.

Congrats, Annie, on the GR - WTG! And let's hear it for those sexy bits ;)

I hope the Banditas will become regular visitors to Michelle's place, and vice versa. Blogging can be such a fun way to get to know people, and find out about really great books (cough MK cough bookpimp)

Farrah Rochon said...

:::waving:::

Hi Michelle! RBTB is one of my fav lurking spots. There's always something interesting going on over there. You are such a champion for romance, and we all appreciate it.

Great interview, Anna!

jo robertson said...

OMG, what a wonderful interview, Anna, and welcome to the Lair, Michelle! We're fortunate to have someone of your experience join us. I'm very impressed by what you're achieving at RBTB.

I remember when I'd have to rip the covers off my books (I KNOW, what a sacriledge!) before I'd read them in public. I'm so glad you're the advocate for smart, intelligent women who read romance.

A question: When you review a book, are there core elements you address, like character, plot, theme? Or do you find that unique something that a particular book has and write about that?

LOL, did that make sense?

And Annie -- cool! You won the GR!

jo robertson said...

Alli, welcome! So glad you commented today. We're such a chatty bunch in the Lair.

I know what you mean about it being easier sometimes to read others' works than write our own. When my "well" has run dry, sometimes I find that reading helps fill it up and that's a good thing, right? LOL

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Michelle and Anna, thanks for such an insightful interview. As someone whose blog has just turned 2 years old, I have a lot to learn still. It's a never-ending process, but I really enjoy the inter-action with readers and other writers and those who just 'drop in.'

I was excited to read your reference to Rick Riley because I always turned to his column first when our issue of SI arrived. I miss him now.

And as someone who 'ghostwrote' sermons for three years, I know all about being able to tie a vignette to whatever it is I'm supposed to be talking about. Who'd a thunk that that would stand me in good stead blogging and writing romance!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Michelle, for the comment about our readership, and Kirsten for elaborating on it.

As a high school English teacher, this issue is something I've worked very hard on. My students were required to read in my class every day -- I told them I don't care WHAT they read -- Playboy to Proust (okay, I've gotten into trouble with parents on that one), but there have to be more words than pictures LOL!

petite said...

Hi Michelle,
Your blogs are always fascinating and upbeat. I enjoy them and would love a job to read romance. That is the ultimate Pleasure. To be creative is wonderful.

jo robertson said...

Okay, I MUST proof before I hit post LOL. I really CAN spell sacrilege and keep from misapplying my modifiers. Sort of. Maybe. Heck, I don't know.

Another question for Michelle: I'm new to RBTB, so forgive my dumbness.

Do you review books that AREN'T well-written or compelling or entertaining? Give negative reviews? Or do you stick to the ones you have positive comments about?

ruth said...

Welcome Michelle!
Lovely and interesting interview. It is intriguing to learn about blogs and yours is always a joy to visit and read. What a fantastic job to read all the romance there is and just soak it up. Sounds so appealing.

Sophia Nash said...

Hi Michelle!

Wow, it's great to see you here! Now I finally get to officially ask the question I've always wanted to ask you. If you were an author today, what things would you do to promote your books?

Best,
Sophia Nash

jenna said...

Hi Michelle,
This interview was great to read and I enjoy learning about the background. Thanks for the chance to peek into the romance world. It takes effort and talent which you have. I would welcome a job as a romance reader. Rather fun and special.

TracyG said...

Doglady said: "I mean if La Traviata is well done there should not be a dry eye in the house."

Traviata is my all time favorite opera. I've already worn out one video of Domingo's performance. And I cry every time. Then there's Eugene Onegin - love the music!

alissa said...

Hi Michelle,
Your introduction today in the wonderful world of blogging and romance has been an eye opener with great information and fun. Thanks for this chance to learn about your blogs and I would take any job to read romance. that would be an ideal and fun career.

Minna said...

I would love to be paid to read romance, but I wouldn't mind if I would get the chance to translate them one of these days!

Helen said...

Congrats Annie on the GR he must be enjoying the Australian weather.

Fantastic interview Ladies I agree with you Michelle I could read a historical everyday and never get tired of them.
As for blogs I often visit your blog and really enjoy it and of course I love the Banditas I really enjoy the honesty and openess of everyones views and ideas and of course the recomendations can never have too many books. Visiting blogs has really helped with my confidence because everyone is so easy going and I have a lot of fun at some of the places I visit.
Thanks again Guys for a great interview
Have Fun
Helen

p226 said...

I have to say, the daily thing would be more intimidating to me than the big project. But then, I've never written a book with a deadline, or any book for that matter. But I have had to write daily online entries for a customer base. That was kind of challenging. "Keeping it fresh" was really hard.

The infosec threat-sphere I was writing about changed rapidly. And it changed rapidly enough to justify a daily message. However, that wasn't the challenge. The challenge was determining if today's changes to the systems security threats even applied to my customer base / audience. And if it did, how did I drive that point across without falling off the sliding scale between being alarmist and understating the threat? And waking up every day with the knowledge that I had to do this was a weight on my shoulders, where working on the bigger project, mostly at my own pace, was much easier to deal with.

diane said...

Welcome Michelle, Reading romance for life, as a real job would brighten up my day. I certainly enjoyed this interview and know that your work is definitely appreciated in the romance blog world.

brownone said...

Great post! I would LOVE to be paid to read!Although, I think I'd have a hard time keeping up and there ARE times when you're just not in the mood for ANYTHING.
:-)

p226 said...

em, so this Golden Rooster needs special handling and care?

My only advice on this, is that should he doze off, it might be prudent to wake him gently. Preferably from a distance greater than arms-reach.

catslady said...

It's nice to hear that you still enjoy reading even though it's your job. I would be afraid I'd think of it differently.

I must admit I used to visit your blog and didnt switch to your new site since I'm still on dialup but I finally broke down and ordered broadband so I'm hoping to be able to visit a lot of new sites and blogs :)

Aunty Cindy said...

Michelle, Welcome to the Lair!
We are sooo excited to have you here for a visit! You and the Bellas are welcome here ANY TIME! But be forewarned, it is very difficult to nab the Golden Rooster. Some of us have even been called wotten wooster nappers. *AHEM*

HUGE THANX for all your nice comments about us and our Lair. We have worked hard to make our blog stand out in cyber-space, but I don't think we envisioned just how much FUN and how successful we would be. A most gratifying experience.

Obviously Aunty would prefer the longer deadlines of novel writing, but getting FREE books to read and getting PAID to read them certainly is tempting. (evil grin)

I'm also interested to hear about your methods of reviewing books and how you handle negative aspects.

THANX AGAIN and WTG Foanna on such a great interview,
AC

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

HIhihihi! I'm back from some appts! Yikers! Can't wait to see what's been goin on here. Be right back. :) You guys are so cool.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

ugh, I have to pop in right now and say, Donna M, I am so sorry you and so many others have problems registering or commenting at RBTB. It's really hit or miss, too, isn't it? If you want to send me emails about it when it happens, I can at least have them on record.

I love when folks write me to chat or rec books, etc. mbuonfiglio@rbthebook.com. I'd give you my lifetimetv addy, but I can't remember how to accesss the accnt. I shouldn't be allowed near technology.

The blog tool is in the process of being rebuilt, and myLifetime allowed me to give them my thoughts about what works and doesn't. I based this on how romance bloggers like to hang and comment. Don't know how the final is going to look/work, but romance will have had some impact on it.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Wells! I ain't scary! I'm a puddy tat!

Alli, lovely to see you here. You're always welcome! See? How scary was that?

Michelle, I'm really enjoying your answers to all the how to blog questions. I agree with you that not every romance novel needs to be crafted like a Virginia Woolf. What I love about the genre is the variety of voices. And even for a lot of writers (I'm one), it comes down to story and character being the greatest hooks. If it's beautifully written as well - I think Barbara Samuel or Shana Abe - well, then I'm in nirvana. But beautiful prose and no emotion or compelling conflict, nah, I get bored and put it down just like most people do.

But I had another question for you - which perhaps someone else has asked - I'm still only about halfway through the comments - what do you see as the current trends in romance? What do you see as the next big thing?

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Michelle, reading your comments on a good blog or a good guest, I keep coming back to the word 'manners'. It's an old-fashioned word, I know, but I think it's important. One of the things I love about the Bandits is that we welcome our guests as if they were coming into our home. You know, we make sure they have a drink, they're not stuck in the corner with the guy who only talks about fishing rods, we try and cook something they'd like to eat. Um, this metaphor is running out of steam, but you know what I mean.

Anna Campbell said...

Portia, you're a woman of incredible taste (by the way, lovely to see you here!). I adore Possession. I was talking about it the other day at a writers get together. They wanted an example of exquisite writing that stayed with you. Do you remember that bit where Roland just reads Ash's poetry near the end? It's a riff on how wonderful it is to read but how it's something that you never actually read about. Brilliant! And Angels and Insects is amazing too. Did you see the film they made of it? It was actually pretty close to the book and very effective. Actually A&E is a reminder that the subtlest touch can be the sexiest, isn't it?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

phewf! (as my 8 yr old daughter says). It's so wicked cool to be hanging with the romie homies again! Thanks so much for this experience.

First, jo and aunty: RBTB's about giving the drive-by surfer at her lunchbreak/desk an idea of what to, what I think is an all-around great reading experience. She doesn't wanna waste her time checking in for me to suggest what not to buy.

Since I only feature 4 books/month in the main RBTB section, I want to talk about the books I think work the best. Of course, I think theme and continuity, dialogue. But, yes, sometimes there's that gut feeling that makes me really hopeful that a book is consistent throughout.

Instead of spending my work time thinking about why a book doesn't work, I'm trying to figure out which books are great in what sub-genres. Of those, which appeal to the demographics I want to entertain. If I don't know about a sub-genre, I don't write about it until I research it and talk to readers who do like it, find out why the reading experience works for them. Reading romances isn't just about words and plots and continuity, it's about the way the reader identifies with the essence or spirit of the subject matter.

Here's the question I constantly ask myself: Who would like this book? It's kinda about "psychographics," which is when you look at the things that turn on a particular audience, as opposed to demographics, which is separating out folks by age

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oops! ...stats and stuff.

I probably WAY overthink the whole thing. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ! Great to see you here. And congratulations on entering the reviewing fray! And Michelle - woooooooo-hoooooooo!!! LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT???!!!! Wow, that's amazing. Congratulations!

Kirsten, bravo to you too! I agree - I don't see why good storytelling should be something people need to apologise for liking.

Gerri Russell said...

Michelle and Anna, thank you so much for the wonderful insight about successful blogging. I particularly liked the part about making it about connecting, not plugging the book. Good stuff!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Gillian! Holiday??!! Wash your mouth out with soap, girly. It was a writing retreat. Um, please don't ask me how much actual writing I did - and my liver has left home for someone who will look after it better! Yes, I had a lovely time, thank you. The place was just gorgeous. An old gold rush town in Victoria which was full of really spectacular Victorian architecture. And because we've had an early cold snap, the autumn colors were starting to come out. I live in subtropical Queensland, and basically it's like the tourist brochures say, "Beautiful one day, perfect the next." Which is nice if you're on holiday but I miss the change in seasons.

anne said...

Interview had me interested from the beginning. Love to read about your blog and the success which you have achieved. Congrats. I will be visiting your new romance blog which sounds great. Reading romance for a living would be delightful. Thanks for this visit.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi MK!!! Waving madly back! Hey, do you have any current recommendations? I love your taste in reading! You're right about the warmth of the feeling at Lifetime. It was odd - Michelle asked me on very early in my blogging career to talk about older romances (you know, ones published in the 70s, 80s and 90s). As many of you know, I've been reading romance since I was eight years old and it always annoys me when people basically say old romance - bad/new romance - good. Some of those older books were amazing and their huge public success established the industry we know now. Sorry, I'm a bit soapboxy now too! Anyway, I joined the Bellas and immediately it was like being drawn into a big noisy welcoming family. I had the best time!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

nononon, Anna, VLT is getting the Lifetime Achvmt Award from Romance Writers of America. They're giving me the Voted by Publishing House Publicists "Most Like a Bulldog with a Bone" award. See, I always think they really mean yes when they say no...

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Anna

I must admit it's a long, long time since I read both Possession and Angels and Insects. I must fish them both out soon and re-read. It's the very last few lines of Possession that make my heart ache... about the forgotten message. Really brings tears to my eyes every time I read that final bit.

Yes, I've seen the Angels and Insects film and I thought it was pretty well done! Haven't actually seen the film of Possession yet, although I'm going to get hold of it soon. I don't suppose they'll really do justice to it, but I'll give it a shot. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, as always, you speak such wisdom, my friend! Actually when I started blogging, I was SOOOO inexperienced, but I knew what I liked when I ventured out of lurkdom to leave a comment. I didn't like to be ignored. I didn't like to be talked down to. I liked a lively group with a varied range of opinions - and this was important, an atmosphere of mutual respect. I think Lifetime has that in spades!

By the way, got goosebumps with your Traviata story! One day, I want to tie you up (no, girls, I'm not branching out into erotica here), ply you with champagne and get you to tell me ALL your stories! Think it might only take a month or so!

Portia Da Costa said...

Ooh, Queen Bella! I'm excited about the new blogging platform for RBTB... when will it come into use?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pam, do you want to tell Michelle about the GR? After all, you were his mother! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

MsHellion, I was an English major too and I think your business course is a great idea! I laugh now - I spent nearly my entire formal education reading romance novels under my desk or hidden in my French textbook. To think I could now say to people that really, I was just preparing for my future career! ;-) And the number of people who told me I was wasting my time with that trash. Well, boo sucks to them too! ;-) One of the things I love about romancelandia is that it's sort of this secret party where we're having such a good time and the people on the outside who are shaking their heads in disapproval are missing out on all the fun!

Anna Campbell said...

Stacy, I love that MK is a book pimp. I love to share a book that I've adored with other people (although after some bad experiences, I've got very careful about who I lend stuff to these days). It's like sharing the sunshine, isn't it? Although often the books I like are full of angst and torture and tears and passion and emotion. Hmm, perhaps share the thunderstorms and sunshine? ;-)

And thanks so much for those kind words about Untouched. Matthew, who really wrote himself, I just took notes, is especially dear to me. I love a smart man! Snork!

Anna Campbell said...

Farrah! Lovely to see you delurking yourself! Come back and see us again. Wasn't Michelle's interview great? There's so much info there that's pure gold!

Michelle, I know you like a hotter romance. (And how!) Do you want to talk about romance and erotica - differences, qualities, how it's changing the landscape of romancelandia?

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, welcome to the lair! I LOVE your books!!! I love your blog too and as you know, I often pop over. Something I love is that you really bring your stories alive there. You tease with character interviews and the heroes in particular become living, breathing contributors. How did you come up with the idea for that? I think it's brilliant!

Anna Campbell said...

Petite, I think you really hit on something that is at the heart of Michelle's success (among the Bellas and the fact she's so smart and funny). It's the fact that RBTB is so upbeat. It's a very positive place both as a commenter and a guest. It's full of smiles!

Ooh, Sophia, great question!!! Michelle, other interested parties want to know what you'd do to promote a book!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and Sophia, I can't wait to read your new book, The Kiss. I loved Dangerous Beauty! For anyone who doesn't know, Sophia Nash writes fantastic Regency historical romance for Avon. Thanks for coming by the lair!

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, I wanted to say how great it is to see all the new faces today. Thanks so much for popping by to comment, everyone!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, can I just say we love to have you visit too? You're definitely a part of the Bandita family! We just need a nickname for all our regulars now! Loot?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Or Looters...Heehee.

Hi Sophia! (Waving in the general direction of your house) and hello Anna too. WElcome back from your...ahem...writing retreat. (Yeah, shuuuurrrrreeee)

P226, What a "is it crying wolf, or is that a wolf?" dilemma! :>

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, thanks for saying it was a great interview. It's easy when you have a subject who's got so much interesting information that I want to torture...uh, coax out of her. Hmm, clearly I'm now a graduate of the P226 academy of wooster waising.

One of the things I've found interesting about the Banditas is how we've evolved into a place with a very distinct atmosphere. The 20 of us are VERY different and yet somehow the whole is greater than the parts.

MaryKate said...

Hey, do you have any current recommendations?

And this is why I love Anna best. LOL! Thanks for asking, yes, Anna, I do have a few recommendations. Ready?

I just read Robyn Carr's first in her Virgin River series. What a stupendous book it is. Well crafted, and frankly, straight contemporary. There are no vamps, weres, or witches anywhere to be seen. Just a damaged heroine and one of the dreamiest heroes I've come across in ages. It's called Virgin River. (Pssst: I called in sick on Thursday to stay home and read it).

I also just read Grimspace by Ann Aguirre. Fantastic read. Imaginative and fun. She does a great job of doling out information about her world without infodumping, which I understand can be a tough challenge for an author.

I'm currently reading The Kiss by Sophia Nash. I think Sophia brings this great sense of fun to everything she writes. I love her heroine's inner monologue. They seem so normal and react just like I think regular women do.

Now you're sorry you asked. ;o)

When can I read more from you, Anna?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Michelle, don't you go easy on the stats and stuff. This is all absolutely fascinating. We've put together the Banditas on gut feeling and good luck (that 20 of us have melded together so well is actually outside the statistical realm of possible, I think!). Getting a bit of concrete know how suits me fine and I'm sure the other Banditas agree with me! Well, maybe not Madame CW as she never agrees with me!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey Gerri! Great to see you here. Glad the interview had a lightbulb moment for you.

And Michelle, I certainly don't see you as a bulldog! I see you as a very elegant Italian greyhound! Hey, amazing the VLT was your window to romance and now we want her to share her award with you!

Anna Campbell said...

Portia, I didn't see Possession, the movie either. I think my impression of the book was so amazingly strong and a lot of the subtleties wouldn't come out in a film - it really was a literary book in the best sense of the word. I didn't want it diluted by a disappointing rendition. I've decided that I like adaptations best when they bear very little resemblance to the book - the English Patient springs to mind!

Anna Campbell said...

MK, thanks for those recommendations. I think we have very similar taste in books - although the Windflower is still on my TBR pile! Yes, I can hear you gnashing your teeth from here. And please don't apologise - everyone here is a reader. Even the writers were/are readers first. I know I am. And one of my 2008 resolutions is that I'm going to read more. In the hullabaloo of getting published, I let that slide because it was something I could let slide. Only to discover that good books feed into my writing so much, it's the last thing I should stop doing.

There was a scheduling change at Avon so my October book is now a January book. It's called Tempt the Devil and I'll put an excerpt, cover, etc., up on the website probably in a couple of months.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, actually, I've got a short story in the Australian Women's Weekly in April. It's called Lady Kate's Scoundrel - so if any of you can lay hands on an AWW, see what you think of it.

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I wanted to ask you about your Italian trip - the gorgeous photo of Michelle in sunglasses is from her latest jaunt. Where did you go? Did you have a favourite place? Are you still in contact with your Italian family?

Sophia Nash said...

Hi again Marykate & Jeanne & Anna!

It's so great to see everyone here! And Anna, your next book is now January? Yikes, I can't wait that long...

A big wave to Jeanne La Duchesse!

So glad you like the inner monologue of the heroine in The Kiss, MaryKate. My husband tells me I mutter all day long just like Georgiana. Glad it makes sense to someone else besides me!

Sophia

LeeAnn said...

Wow I’m turning three shades of red since I’m so late :o) I’ve been a little forgetful today oops.

Just wanted to drop in and say hi Michelle! And hi to the Banditas and thanks for having all of us Bellas.

Michelle has truly created a place that is really warm and welcoming. It’s full of great Bellas that make you feel welcome and not out of place. And I love how they will agree to disagree and let it go if they can’t come to see eye to eye.

Ok I need to read all of these wonderful comments now.

Anna Campbell said...

Leeann, we're not fussy about when people turn up! Just so long as they do ;-) Great to see you here!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Holy cow! I finally was able to post a new blog, pop back over here and, yikers! What a treat. I'm gonna get a bit non-sequitorious (not sure it's a word, but we like to use it around home where my title is Queen of Non Sequitor.

Yes, Angels and Insects rocked! Two very strong images from that novel still creep me out in a wonderfully literary way!

Hi, Sophia and other writers! What mshellion said is really part of the reason RBTB was born. I was seeing many authors who didn't know how to promote themselves, even in a book signing atmosphere. And not all of us are outgoing, true. But it's my opinion that today, authors have to kinda be rock stars.

So I figured out a way to get authors in front of the readers who wanted to make friends with them. Then those readers would get turned on to books and new authors, etc. My benefit is when authors share readers with me, link to RBTB. Plus, I monetized the idea.

Writers need to think like business people and also assume their publishers aren't going to be able to promote them, perhaps not right away, anyway.

So, learn to write a tight, one page, double-spaced news release about yourself and your book. Research newspapers, mags, websites, etc., that might be interested in featuring you. Promote yourself as the prize, and the book follows. Send the news releases in whichever way the publications want them; many just want e-releases now. Come up with 3 items or topics you could be interviewed about. And offer yourself as an "expert" to local media on writing, romance, etc.

Ads are great if you can afford to get them in the right places. Ask other authors how ads worked for them in Romance Writers Report, Romantic Times, Publisher's Weekly, etc.

Virally market. Try to spend a little time every week on places readers like to hang out, but make sure you understand the climate of those sites/blogs before you hang there. Group blog. Guest blog. Update your website regularly, even pay a friend a small amount to do so if you don't have the time.

Be brave. Find out a contact in the pr/mktng dept at your publisher. Ask them if they have a one-sheet with info about promotion, maybe ask if they might toss a few ideas to you.

You might want to ask other authors about their success with promotional items as giveaways or included when novels are sent out. Some publishers and authors do this, but I'm not sure it has an affect on whether the books get featured.

And, finally, alway be as beyond reproach as possible when dealing with media. Folks in the media often are harried and appreciate your getting to the point and being respectful. Understand that even the most open will need you to gently lead them in the positive promotion of romance direction.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Anna, we were in Rome and Florence, with a day trip to Pompeii. To opera fans, of course I hummed "O Mio Babbino Caro," from Gianni Schicchi, as I crossed Ponte Vecchio bridge. Bab Caro is an aria about a girl who threatens her poor papa that she'll throw herself off the Ponte Vecchio, into the Arno, if he doesn't let her marry the boy she loves.

The top photo is in the Vatican museum, the bottom, of course, at the Coliseum. The art and food were magnificent, as was the people watching. OK, the men watching. So beautiful. My faves were the businessmen in Rome. I haven't traveled to the place on the North where my grandparents were born, but hope to.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Wow, Michelle, what great advice! As a former Marketing flak/PR gal, can I just say Amen? Snork!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, The Kiss is spectacular!

Thanks, Anne, looking forward to seeing you there!

hi, helen! Your experience with blogs is like so many of ours. We've grown in confidence and learned things about our strength we may not have seen w/out the support of our e-friends. I consider it an honor to have people visit my blog, and still am humbled by the way we share there.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Michelle, the trip sounds fab. I remember being just awed (well, drooling and gibbering, but you get the picture) when I sat in the main square in Milan and looked at all the gorgeous men. And they carry themselves with a self-confidence that comes straight out of a Harlequin Presents, don't they? Hope you get to go back and explore further next time.

And your marketing advice is amazing. I'm going to print it out and keep it (along with MK's latest recommendations!).

Julie in Ohio said...

Holy Wow!! I get a chance to come back and comment and there's 100 COMMENTS. Really, that says it all. =o)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Anna writes: By the way, I wanted to say how great it is to see all the new faces today. Thanks so much for popping by to comment, everyone!

Sheesh. Dittorama.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yes, Anna, I'm very lucky to have MK at my place, cause she's always good for a recommendation. Which is great on the days that I can't think straight and answer the question, "So, why did you like the book," with , "um, like, it was really good, and there was this guy, and he met this girl..."

LeeAnn said...

Oh MK with all the praise you've gotten today your head must be huge LOL. Between here and all of the other blogs ;p

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

good luck with your blog, doglady! you'll be great!

So many of you have said very kind things about what I'm doing. I want you to know I consider it a privilege to get to do it, and to represent the romance genre to myLifetime.com viewers. Even more, every day I get to learn more and more about romance from readers and the authors who visit. It's so amazing.

MaryKate said...

Well, I am definitely not a writer, but I am a reader. A lot of what Michelle says is really great advice, from a reader's standpoint. I average a ton of money (about $100-$150/month) on romance. I read books that I hear buzz about, authors who I've interacted with either at Michelle's blog, or other romance related blogs, and authors I hear other authors talking about.

One of the questions I ask every single author who visits us at LTR, is "What romance author have you read recently that just knocked your socks off?" Because I've found that romance authors who read romance know the good stuff, and very often, they know stuff I haven't heard of.

Another great resource is review sites. Very often I'll give a book that I haven't read a try if it's reviewed strongly by a couple of sites I visit.

Then finally, I hang out online with a lot of readers who read and know romance really well. I love to hear what they're reading that's working for them. They are actually the first place I go when I'm looking for something to read. It's very rare that a book is a miss for me, if a friend recommends it and is passionate about it. I do the same. I blog about books I love. But I also blog about trends that I'm not loving in romance. A little of both.

The thing I like best about the romance community is that we TALK to each other. I never fail to send a note to an author whose book I love. And the coolest part is, they write back! It's a dialog, not just a one sided conversation.

It's a great community.

LeeAnn said...

MK that is so true and I know that I thrive of your recommendations as you know :o)

I still haven’t written a note to an Author yet. I’m too scared.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Anna, you asked about "hot" romance, which I do adore. I think what I'm noticing is a kind of "authentication" of the erotic romance novel going on. There have been for a long time -- as I research it anyway -- romance authors influenced by erotica. When women started looking for the erotic romance -- and moving the market to produce more -- we saw the big surge. More publishers came up with erom lines or erroneously named "erotica" imprints. Authors were encouraged to write hotter, and we had a bunch of novels that were sorta "trying" to be hot.

Now, I see more authors being published who write splendidly erom that really pushes the envelope in a way that shows they've set free their sexual fantasies and meshed them with their ability to convey raw emotion at the same time. It's similar to a kind of new freedom I see publishers allowing authors to write where their fantasy takes them w/out being boxed in by agendas of a vocal minority of readers.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

leeann and anyone else who hasn't written an author -- do it! I've never seen a group as desirous of connecting personally with readers as romance writers. It totally blew me away when I started reading romance.

LeeAnn said...

I've left Monica and Portia notes does that count? I think I'm ok with them because I feel like I know them on some sort of level. But just to write a note to an Author in general I don't know it's a little terrifying. But I will buck up and do it some day.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Kirsten, cool! That makes a total of, um, one person on the soapbox with me. :) As writers, we tend to be hyper analytical, and it gets hard to see the forest for the trees. I'm not saying write sloppy, just write the best book you can.

When I hear writers lamenting how someone who "can't write" got published and they didn't, I always think: they got published cause they plugged away and told a story that spoke to people. and had some luck. Bad grammar always can be edited.

Oh, and I always think writers should want to get published because they want to get paid. Writing the book of your heart is great, but your gonna have put so much strain on the organ stressing over your manuscript that you're gonna need money for health care.

When you place value on your time and work product, others will, too.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

to be creative is wonderful , petite. I find myself in awe of "creative" types. For instance, when I watch movies, I don't think much about the actors. Instead, I'm blown away by the art of the cinematographers, the folks who do digital stuff. I also adore great ads of any kind, print, TV. The creatives make me so jealous that I didn't come up with the slogan, or that someone has an "eye" attached to their imagination that ends up in a fabulous, memorable piece of eye candy.

Anna Campbell said...

Leeann, speaking on behalf of authors everywhere, we LOVE to hear from people who have enjoyed our books. What's surprised me is how often I do hear - I'd never written to an author before I got into this gig and now I'm sorry I didn't. Because those good books I've read really did make my world a better place.

Denise Rossetti said...

I just had to come back and say a heartfelt THANK YOU to Michelle. Actually, it's two heartfelt thank yous.

First, I almost cried when I read your words about the authentication of erotic romance. I'm so sick of people saying, "Oh yes, porn for women." Aaargh! I think of myself as a storyteller writing an entertainment, NOT a purveyor of porn. And yes, the emotions and the character development are paramount. Otherwise, who cares who puts what where? Page after page of docking procedure leaves me cold.


And secondly, thank you also for the succinct advice on promotion. It's not my best thing, I'm afraid. But I'm working on it. Note the viral marketing taking place right here! *snork*

And LeeAnn, I never wrote to authors either. Then I plucked up my courage and emailed Joey W. Hill. I'd just read a book of hers called Natural Law and I simply couldn't get over it. She replied, things went from there and she is now a friend and an invaluable critique partner. Do it! There's nothing better in this world than knowing your work gave someone pleasure!

Cassondra said...

Hi Michelle and a huge welcome to the lair to you and the Bellas! You seem to travel in swarms, a bit like the Banditas do. ;0) We love that. Always up for a party.

It's truly an honor to have you visit with us, and THANK YOU for sharing the stuff you've learned about blogging and how to target what you're actually after. We talk constantly about that on our loop--are we going the right direction and how can we make it better. I'm amazed at all you've managed to accomplish, and that you've created such a wonderful niche for yourself in the blogging, interweb world.

Michelle said:
Empathy probably drives what I do - does that make sense? I’m just hardwired to worry about how I make people feel, to tap into their emotions.

Michelle I have this hard wiring as well. It makes perfect sense to me. I think if we hurt a lot of people as we go about what we do, then what's the point really? When there's nothing else left, there's people and how they feel. Making someone feel rotten accomplishes nothing. And yet, it's nearly impossible to go through life without a few missteps.

I'm also particularly interested in your ideas for promotion and how you keep building on what you've already got. Rather than re-doing what we've done before, what does the writer or blogger do to find a fresh way to promote?

And honestly? I think the daily deadline is easier. I could do that because I'm trained to do that. It's the journalism/broadcasting background. I want the experience of building the relationship across a book, and I don't do short fluff (I don't enjoy that), but I also like the slice and dice editing.

Anna, thumbs up on scoring such a terrific guest--and bringing her Bellas along with you! What a fabulous interview!

Cassondra said...

Welcome Bellas! I hope you make this a regular stop on your blog trail. There's always a spot open at the baaaaaaaa in the Bandita lair.

For the "baaaaaa" story, you'll have to talk to Anna Sugden and Heidi the sheep--our official Bandit mascot. ;0)

Cassondra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I've got to say the "how did she get published when she can't write?" whine a bit hard to take. It's actually much more interesting to look at the book and ask what made someone buy it. There's always something. And perhaps sometimes it's your blind spot - the thing that's stopping you from selling or moving up the ranks or whatever.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Annie, don't tell the GR Jeanne called him mythical, it will hurt his feelings. We have a picture of him so he can't be mythical can he, so, who was that strange visitor that scared my cats and drank all my vodka?
I am late to the game today and it took FOREVER to read all the posts.
Michelle, I don't suppose you could take on an assistant reader could you? I would love to get paid to read.

I think the coolest thing about the Banditas is that though they are all writers a large portion of the "Buddies" aren't. The blogs are very open and often pertain to writing but life in general as well. The only bad thing about the lair is that when you get the authors in you find yourself wanting every book mentioned. My TBR fell over yesterday and I think I hurt myself!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Denise, I so agree with you - and I don't write nearly as hot as you do, my dear! And anyway, what's wrong with writing about sex? Surely it's something essential to the human condition.

And you're right - Michelle's advice has been amazing!

Anna Campbell said...

Dianna, I'm laughing to think of you telling your GP when you go in with your bruises and abrasions that you got hurt because you hang out on Banditas now have a lethal TBR pile! Laughing, but I sympathise! And thank you so much for those kind words about the Banditas. One of the things I love about a lot of our posts is that they're not just writer navel gazing (now naval gazing when good-looking sailors are involved is a much more productive use of time!).

Keira Soleore said...

Michelle--hi!! What an amazing interview! Foanna, thanks for bringing the coolest person in the blogosphere to us. Looks like a ton of people agree. It's early afternoon here on the west coast and the comments buckets are overflowing.

Michelle, I love that pale pink badge/ad you have. Says everything about you, your blog, and your column in words and design composition.

I've commented off and on your blog, and every time you've welcomed me back. I've never felt unwelcome with the Bellas. I hope you won't take the loss of your one reader to heart; you reach out to so many, many of us.

Coincidentally, this is my first official launch date of keirasoleore.blogspot.com. So all your advice is incredibly timely. I love when connections like these are made. I take it as a good totem. :)

Oops. I have to rush to school for a pick up. Will be back in an hour.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, catslady! It's really great to see you! Don't worry about it, I/we'll be thrilled to see you whenever you can join us. :)

Hi, Nancy! Language is important and powerful, and your point is well made. I think some of the "stratification" among some romance readers and writers comes from something similar. I'm referring to the phenomenon in which some sub-genres, modes of publication and even houses and imprints are denigrated.

Perhaps it's because I'm only about 4 years into reading and 3 writing about romance that I notice it more, but I think that's a total "glass houses" sitch. Somehow, a person should feel better about reading/writing romance if they don't read/write category? Readers who dig forced seduction can't be feminist? Women who like marriage HEAs are unrealistic?

I've always felt like those brouhahas blow a lot of smoke around and keep many of the finger pointers from examining themselves too closely, and that some of it comes from their not being entirely comfortable with reading/writing romance. Getting comfortable is a hard row to hoe, but I don't think we need to take out our frustrations on each other.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, your blog is really cool and I look forward to becoming a regular! If anyone hasn't checked it out, pop by. Just please don't let your new friends make you forget your old ones! We pine for you when you're away. You should have seen the weeping and gnashing of teeth on the Banditas loop when you were away last time.

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, on the category thing, I read a lot of shorter romances and there are some incredible writers in that area of romance writing. It really takes skill to tell a great story and create compelling characters in that short space. If you get a chance, pick up Bandita Tawny's Does She Dare? Sexy, funny, hip, and then this incredible emotional punch hits you from nowhere. Now that's skill. I write long and believe me, I'm in awe of people who can pack that much impact into a small space.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Michelle, funny you should say you try to figure out who would like a book. That's the first thing I ask someone when they ask me to recommend something for them to read. "What are you interested in? Historical? Contemporary? Suspense? Vampires? Sexy? Sweet? Funny? Scary?"

First it surprises them that there are so many categories and secondly amazes them that I know so many good writers in each one! :)

But when you are making a recommendation on something so personal as what someone will like reading, you have to know the person/ reader, don't you?

pearl said...

What a lovely day to spend with Michelle. Your blog has such a following and is because of your warmth and choices. Love it.
BTW, When you mentioned O Mio Babbino Caro by Gianni Schicchi I was transported. I have an old album LP, 78, from my father who used to listen to opera every weekend. This LP has that exact aria and I just played it this weekend. It is so beautiful that we are going to play it for my son's rehearsal dinner this May. Maybe even find someone to sing it since it is our favorite. Loved your blog today and best.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, keira! We always love when you drop by! Buona fortuna on the new blogspot! and I'll pass along your kind words about the RBTB button to the designers. :)

dianna, my God! Get to the emergency room and find the cutest, youngest intern to take a look at your TBR injuries! Report back immediately after, of course, leaving out no bedside manner details.

hi, cassondra! It doesn take one to know one, doesn't it? Any advice on how to let go of those missteps? I think you're right about the daily deadlines. I am a total procrastinator, and I dont' think you can get up at 4 am the day of a deadline and write a novel. a 4-600 article, perhaps...

You're so welcome, denise.

Anna, thanks for the Italian Greyhound reference. :) Oh would that I were so sleek and toned. Let's not touch the fur issue, though, shall we? I am Italian after all...

ah, good advice pp26! I hear you're the expert around here. :)

hi, tracyg. I love medievals, especially Marsha Canham's and Madeline Hunters. But I pretty much love any time in history, and even dug the Jean Auel Cave Bears, if you wanna talk series. I'm crazed for 19th century. Historicals really work for me because the men can be really bold and larger than life and women have to be very clever -- and hence the author -- to triumph w/in the limited "space" society gives them. In my free-time reading, I'll most likely look for an historical or reread a fave. I'm glad you write westerns! Someone was saying at RBTB a while back that she wished there were more westerns being written, and I always pay attention when one crosses my desk.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Well Mary Kate, let me give you a recommendation. Our Christie Kelley's first book, Every Night I'm Yours was one of the best books I've read in a few months, (autobuys withstanding). I've been recommending it to everyone!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Leeann, It's amazing when you do write your favorite authors AND they answer back! You really have to give it a try. My CP, Sandy Blair, adores hearing from readers...and I've personally contacted a few of my favs, who replied. Nothing is cooler.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Suzanne, that's my least favorite question in real life! I can never come up with a book off the top of my head! and I'm with you, that they're not one size fits all, so I really want to think of something special for someone.

oh, pearl, that's so beautiful! There won't be a dry eye. I'm totally misty right now. :)

hi, brownone! long time no see! hope you're doin well.

pp226, that job sounds intense! That kind of tiered thinking and planning, which must have been exhausting.

Beth, that's a great question. I probably should keep lists, but mostly I write what comes to mind. Sometimes they're interesting, sometimes they're borathons. I go through periods when I get into talking about anything but romance. Then someone, MaryKate usually says, um, so have you read any books lately, Michelle? And it jogs my memory that it's Romance: B(u)y the Book, not Stream-of-Consciousness: B(u)y the Book.

I really miss being able to post really hot photos of wet young mens when I don't have much to write about. Those were the good old days. Dern copyright laws.

LeeAnn said...

Michelle have you read Midnight Honor by Marsha Canhams?

I read The Pride of Lions and The Blood Roses but haven’t been able to read MH yet. Is it as heart wrenching as the other two? I think I cried during The Blood Roses more than any other book I have ever read. It was really good but one that truly takes your emotions through the ringer.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I totally agree on the category, Anna. Writing that tight is a skill, and saying the novels are second class is like saying the same of the readers. Just the other day I picked up one about a Brazilian boss and his secretary. I can't remember if she's a virgin or his pregnant secretary bride...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I have read it, leeann. Let me know if you can't find it. Those were the first Canhams I read, and not for everyone because they've got so much detail. But I think the battles are glorious. I totally have image flashes from those novels.

Serena said...

Hi everyone,
Wow Michelle, 60 hours a week is more than a full time job! Very impressive and I admire your dedication. Thanks for the lowdown on writing and maintaining a successful blog.

Special wave to Anna Campbell (and all my friends on here) (Serena waves)

Serena
Melbourne, Australia

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

minna, you so totally could translate romances from English. I wonder how one gets those jobs...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Serena from DU! I am so dying to visit you all there, and am going to worm my way into an invite to one of your conferences. Are conferences much like those "retreats," Anna? Or are they all work, no play...

funny, isn't it, howmuch time this job takes? cause it's not just the blog, it's the interviewing and features, columns, excerpts, communications, planning. And when that's done, sometimes I get to read. :)

Someone wrote about this earlier, and I can't find the comment. But like you, sometimes I get romanced out, and reading becomes a chore or pressure. I usually try to take an afternoon off away from work or to do a comfort re-read to get back on track.

Nicola Marsh said...

Fabulous interview, Anna and Michelle.

Some absolute gems in there about blogging, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your expertise :)

Nicola

LeeAnn said...

Thanks Michelle I do have it. It’s in my TBR pile I just haven’t gotten a round to reading it yet. For some reason I’ve been a more light hearted mood for my books. And I like to be in the right mind set for my books so I appreciate them more.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, nicola! Yet another name and face from the blogspot days! You're very welcome.

Banditas, could you be any more fun?

leeann, yeah, you definitely wanna be in the mood for that series. Those bloody Sassenachs!

Élodie said...

Michelle,

It's such a delight to see you here with the Banditas today! I love to read your blogs. They're witty, clever, and fun.

Thanks so much for sharing some of your pearls of wisdom about the blogging world. So many times our little group struggles with the question of "validity" as a blog when wondering about the number of commenters out there. But what you've said is *so* true! We've discovered we have loads of lurkers out there and we love them just as much as the, er, *non*-lurkers. ;) Everybody who visits a community helps to make up a community whether they comment or not. :)

And I love that The Nerd Who Loved Me was your first contemp, as well as VLT novel. That was my first VLT novel and I fell in love with nerds with that book. :) She truly deserves RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award!

Last thought...Anna really does rock, doesn't she?!?!?! :D Of course, I should be careful saying that too loudly...wouldn't want to let it go to her head...;)

Thanks again for sharing here today! We love RBTB!

Smiles,
Élodie

Kirsten said...

Portia, can I tell you that your incredible writing inspired me to try writing erotica? I am one of your biggest fans. Gorgeous, sexy, naughty prose...you are the master. I have The Devil Inside next to my bed right now!

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I'm like you - I find when I'm in a slump, if I pick up one of my old faves, I'm right back in the saddle again.

Serena, big waves back. Thanks for dropping in!

Nicola, lovely to see you too. Hasn't Michelle given us a great guide to becoming big in the blogosphere?

Elodie, I never knew you cared! Mwah! And I think the Vagabonds do a whole stack of stuff right. You're friendly, you're inclusive, you're smart and you're funny. And I think the way you branded yourself right from the beginning was a stroke of genius.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

kirsten, so many of us keep portia close at hand...

thank you , elodie! You're so right about Anna [whispering]: she's really quite taken with herself. And I agree about the Vagabonds! Your cohesiveness and women and writers really shines through. :)

Hey, Banditas! Can you give me the nutshell version of how youz hooked up?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Entertaining Mr. Stone is my fave DaCosta, Kirstin! Several big crush on Clever Bobby around RBTB. Of course, we were fighting over Anna's Matthew a while back, too.

Keira Soleore said...

Thanks, Michelle, for good fortune for my blog. I know you work long hours, but SIXTY! This is a job and a half, but there's twice that much emotional investment in there, too.

I'm almost 90% historicals fan, so bring on the Romans and the Victorians and everyone else (wet or otherwise), but hold the Edwardians and others in recent history.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at National; I kept missing you last year.

Suz wrote, "It's amazing when you do write your favorite authors AND they answer back!"

Oh, totally!! I wrote to Foanna here, and she wrote back. We gushed over Enid Blyton together. And then she led me over here to where The Lair was being set up.

Élodie, the Romance Vagabonds are one of the success stories of bloglandia, and don't you believe otherwise.

Ahhh. Kirsten, so you've outed yourself finally, I see. You've been hinting and hinting with your naughty blogs, but now you've come right out and said: I write erotica. Good for/on you!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi again, Michelle!

I'm not sure who else might still be online...not sure what time it is in Oz! :>

We Banditas banded together after being 2006 Golden Heart Finalists. Several people started talking about a blog, the lot of us then got serious about it and voila! The Romance Bandits were born.

Grins.

Élodie said...

*blushes* Awwww, Anna!

That's why you're our favourite author named Anna Campbell! But seriously, it takes such wonderful friends like you that makes our site that much more fun!

Smiles,
Élodie

jo robertson said...

Oooh, Michelle, thanks for the response. Okay, now I TRULY covet your job :-D. My analytical voice has always been stronger than my narrative one. Dang, guess I'll just have to work on my stories.

Christie Kelley said...

I can't even begin to catch up. Every time I come back here today there are forty more posts! Wow!

Élodie said...

Thanks for the kind words, Keira and Michelle! We had such a great time meeting you all at conference last summer that we're doing it again! :)

And thanks again for the clue about blogher, Michelle! What a fantastic resource for women!! :)

Élodie

Christie Kelley said...

Okay, I finally read through all the posts. This has been an amazing blog today.

Michelle, you are such an interesting lady. Thank you for being here today.

Anna, thank you for interviewing Michelle. It was great.

Suz, thanks for pimping my book :) You're the best!

jo robertson said...

Great recommendations, MaryKate! And thanks for the promo-advice, Michelle.

You said, "they got published cause they plugged away and told a story that spoke to people. and had some luck. Bad grammar always can be edited."

I love that concept because I think unpubs forget that it takes more than talented prose to get published. Thanks for reminding us.

flchen1 said...

Wow, Michelle! Finally dragging into the Lair today... I think I'd love your job! (I love that reading romances part!) But then you have to write about your thoughts, and I'd be nervous about having to do that--I don't consider myself much of a writer and then I'm not sure I'd love a job where I'd pretty much have to write all the time! 60 hours a week is huge! Aack! :)

I guess I'm just a lazy bum--can I have a job where I just do the reading and maybe I can tell someone else what to write? ;)

Congrats on the GR, Annie!

Joan said...

Hi, Michelle,

Sorry it's taken so long to respond. I just got in from the 12 hour day job!

Another Bandita may have explained about the GR. One of our Bandita friends brought the Golden Rooster to us as a gift for first poster of the day. It's become a challenge to be the one to "host" the little chook each day. Some ply him with wine and chocolate, some give him spa treatments, others teach him covert skills to be utilized in evading the Colonel when he visits me or Cassondra in Kentucky (Yes, p226...we're talking about you.)

9 times out of 10 he's snagged by one of the Aussie girls. Personally, I think it's part of a an Oz syndicate :-)

That's ok...I have Demetrius..who Anna C. covets!

Now off to catch up on the posts!

Helen said...

What a fantastic day here today all the posts have been great you guys are the best.
Have Fun
Helen

Nancy said...

Hi, Michelle--I think you put it very well, that we shouldn't take out our frustrations on each other. When the whole genre's being denigrated in certain quarters, I'd like to think we've got each other's backs.

I love medievals, too.

Keira, I enjoyed Enid Blyton tremendously. Speaking of authors who "don't get no respect." Her children's books are often pooh-poohed as fluff, but the dh, who teaches children's lit, thinks they're wonderful.

kim h said...

great to see u here michelle. love your blog and guests. count me in the drawing

Gillian Layne said...

Look at all these posts! If I'd known, I'd have brought more treats to share.

I owe Annie an apology. You won the GR, and I thought it was Michelle. Teaches me to post when the kiddo's been sick all night.

Tossing S'more Pop-tarts to all who haven't forsaken goodies for Lent, and off to open another bottle of ginger ale. Kuddos to the Bandits and the Bellas for such a successful day!

Kim said...

Howdy Michelle! Great to see you at the Lair. Has Anna let you have a peek at Richard A? You know, she keeps him tied up there. *g* It was so great to meet you last summer in Dallas!

Kirsten said...

Michelle, we were all RWA Golden Heart finalists in 2006. We had a yahoo loop and were chatty as all get out from the start. Someone had the fabulous suggestion (maybe Donna?) to start a group blog. Christine (I think) came up with the name Romance Bandits. I attribute much of our success to that name. Who can resist a bandit of romance? *g*

And yes, there are many good reasons to keep Portia close at hand. ;-)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Banditas! Just back in from getting the kids some eats. Yet again. Question: Don't you think three meals a day, every day is really overdoing it? I think that's just teaching them to expect too much from life. OK, too much from me.

wowza! you all flippin rock today! What a great welcome you've shown. And I'm getting a little covetous of le coq d'or (sounds like he's got some delusions of grandeur, perhaps?). Don't know if I can compete with the girls DU, however. I keep getting my GMTs confused.

Thanks for the skinny on your origins. I remembered something about Golden Hearts, but wasn't positive.

Keira, you know I'm so driven, and totally spend way more time than I need to, I think. But I'm still so excited about romance novels and readers and authors -- and the industry. I do know I could work a lot smarter a lot of the time, so I'm happy to take advice on how to do that. :)

FilmPhan said...

What a great job that sounds like! I love to read books and I think this is a great way to get information out and a way to bring people together. If I could get paid for writing my opinion on something I would want to write about movies. To me, that would be the perfect job.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

If I missed swapping comments with anyone today, I'm really sorry. I kept having that same experience of popping back in and finding new comments. Then I'd try to go back to see who i'd missed, and get lost... I'm just so pleased that so many of you stopped in to chat today, and totally blown away by Anna's being so nice as to interview me. Um, I keep saying how I write "tight," but I'm pretty sure my post for you was your longest ever. My friends will tell you I'm quite a talker, I guess cause I spend a lot of time listening to people during the day. So know what you'll be getting yourself into if you're so kind as to say hi when we run into each other somewhere.

Forewarned is forearmed, is all's I'm sayin.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

hey, philmfan! I'm a total philistine when it comes to movies, so I totally dig when people tell me about them and know their stuff. A while back, we had a film historian/expert -- Timothy Knight -- talk to us about classic romantic films. He's got this gorgeous "coffee table" kinda book called "Great Kisses and Lines Right out of the Movies." What blew me away was how many of the Bellas of all ages love the classics!

Kirsten said...

Michelle, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things we want, are there? I wish I could give you advice about working smarter, but my tendency is just to pile on more work than one person can possibly handle, which is why I sometimes find myself 1) running into the boy's bathroom because I'm too busy to check the sign; 2) running through bookstores looking for the bathroom (I NEVER have enough time to pee!); 3) making grievous fashion faux pas because I haven't planned my day carefully enough.

The Bandita Buddies know what I'm talking about. ;-)

And right now I should be working on a powerpoint presentation for work...even though I'm DYING to get back to the WIP! Shucks!

Thanks again for your visit, Michelle! We sure did love having you drop by and speak to us in foreign languages! :-)

jo robertson said...

This has been so interesting, informative and just plain fun today.

Thanks, Michelle, for visiting us.

It's 8:15 on the west coast.

Do we know where our party is?

Is it still going?

You know JoMama keeps track of curfews.

Anna Campbell said...

Awww, Elodie, you're just too kind!

Fedora, keep reading. We need readers!!! Never apologize for that.

Kim, don't get Michelle hunting for RA. I've got him hidden deep underground in a cellar. AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY!!! Bwahahahahahaha!!! Oh, ain't a fantasy life a wonderful thang? And JT, believe me, Demetrius will like this cellar too when I finally catch him. Man, he's fast on his pins! You'd think he was scared of me, the way he scuttles out of sight!

Nancy, yay on your dh. I always say Enid B made me a reader. There was something about losing yourself in the sheer joy of story with her that is still closest to my best reading experience (although these days, I probably want a bit more spice!).

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, you've been an absolutely fantastic guest. Thank you so much for letting us share your wit and wisdom today. I'll see you over at RBTB! And thank you also to everybody who's been over to comment. It's been a hoot of a day, hasn't it?

Don't forget to check back in the next few days to see who won the great prizes! Good luck!

Cherie J said...

Would definitely love to be paid to read romances. Like you Michelle I don't have the talent or the inclination to want to be a writer. I also have a healthy respect for writers because of all the effort they have to put into producing their works.

flchen1 said...

Aw, thanks, Anna--will do! I've gotten a bit off track reading-wise the past couple weeks (drat this flu thing!) but plan to get back to it!

Thanks for the fascinating interview, Michelle, and Anna and all you writers, keep on writing! :)

Kirsten said...

Oh, Keira, I had missed your comment! So the truth is that I wrote one real erotic short story, and now I'm writing a very spicy contemporary that I suppose you could call an erotic romance. I haven't written any novel-length erotica. I don't know how Ms. da Costa does it!

Portia Da Costa said...

Oh, it's so frustrating sometimes, living over here in the UK. I've just tuned in on Tuesday morning to find comments I would love to have replied to straight away.

I'm not sure how I do it either, Kirsten! :) The times I've thought, 'oh no, I swear I can't write yet another sex scene and have it turn out new and fresh and appealing...' but somehow, I keep managing. I always think I must have this 'dark side' somewhere in my psyche, which is continually thinking up this stuff, while the rest of me is just going about my normal life! LOL

Portia Da Costa said...

Portia, can I tell you that your incredible writing inspired me to try writing erotica? I am one of your biggest fans. Gorgeous, sexy, naughty prose...you are the master. I have The Devil Inside next to my bed right now!

Wow, thanks so much! I'm smiling like a Cheshire cat here, reading your kind words. What a lovely start to my day!

It's a while now since I wrote TDI, but it was a fun book to write. Whoever knew that a bump on the head could lead to such naughty consequences? LOL

Portia Da Costa said...

Crikey, isn't this an awesome post and commentary? Nearly 180 comments!

Christine Wells said...

Let's make it 180. Michelle, it's been an absolute pleasure having you in the lair. Thanks for a fun, informative day.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Please, let me tell you what a treat it was to spend yesterday with you. One of the Bellas asked how it felt to be the interviewee instead of the other way around, and it was really kinda cool!

Thank you so much for building this wonderful community for writers and readers who love romance -- and women who enjoy the power of positive connection. Your future is bright, indeed!

Ciao, BanditaBellas! Drop by my place anytime; we love to have your brand of sunshine around the joint.

Michelle

blackroze37 said...

[;easeer me for the prze of chocolate!!