Friday, May 14, 2010

A Fan of Fans

A couple of weeks ago I had the fun of going to the Romantic Times convention in Columbus Ohio. For those who haven’t been to this convention, it is a great place for authors to promote their books in a setting of parties, cover models, and general goofiness. I always have a great time at this convention, which is one of the reasons I go.

Many of the people who go to the convention are readers and booksellers, both of which are good people for an author to get to know. For the readers it is can be an opportunity to meet their favorite authors. For me it is a great place to meet my fans.

And yes, that’s right, in spite of my being a small press author who sells far fewer books than some of my contemporaries, I have fans. And I mean fans in the sense of people who almost know my books better than I do and love talking about them.

At the last convention I had an extended conversation about one of my Gaian science fiction romance books with a delightful young woman who was intently curious as to why in my short story “The Girl In The Box” my hero’s father was acting as a trader in the Outer Colonies. You see in the novel “Promises To Keep” I describe General Garran Doranth as an engineer and inventor, and surely he would have gone back to doing that once the war was over.

And she was right. I’d made Garran a trader so he and his son would be out in space where Ganth could meet the heroine Ami. Otherwise I didn’t have a story. But was that the only reason? Was there a better one for why Garran be  acting as a trader twenty or so years in the future?

Actually I had layered into the story a hint that Garran and Ganth were actively engaged in espionage activities, a follow-on to Garran having led the Gaian military during their revolutionary war against Earth. Keeping an eye on Earth’s activities in the Outer Colonies would be an obvious thing for Garran to do I had thought, and that had provided the reason behind the attempt against his and his son’s life that was also part of the story. I couldn’t go into too much detail on Garran being a spy because the story was only five thousand words, but the hints were there.

I absolutely loved having this conversation with this reader. First of all, even if only a few people are reading my books, knowing they are getting more out of the story than I expected makes me happy. Also I work hard at putting in the subtle hints that there might be more to a story than is just what is on the page. When a reader tells me she often reads one of my books twice, first to get the story, then to see where I’d hinted at what was going to happen, then that work is justified. The reader “got” my story.

That’s why I’m a fan of fans.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
Interested in more? See my website


Carolyn Hughey said...

What an awesome experience. I've never been to RT, but several of the authors in my land chapter attend. No one has quite described it as well as you. They always tell me they had fun, but never why.

Having a fan talk to you about reading your book is a wonderful experience.

Will you also attend Nat'ls? Most of those in my land chapter are eBook published, and don't attend conference. Here's a story for you that I hope will have an impact if you're not planning to attend Nat'ls.

I met Jana Oliver in the lounge last year. She attends Nat'ls and RT. Her first two books were self-published, her second and third were eBook. She entered contests and always scored really well, until one day she received a call from an editor from St. Martins Press who offered her a three-book deal to the tune of a lot of money. :-) If you can afford both conferences, I highly recommend going to Nat'ls and network.

Wendy_Ely said...

Your trip to RT sounded like fun! I haven't been there yet but would love to go.

Wendy Ely

Anonymous said...

One of these days I plan to go to RT. Maybe next year when its drivable. :) THaks for sharing your experiences with us.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I haven't yet been to RT but have enjoyed many national conferences. I do love the evening with all the authors. The first conference I attended was in Washington DC years ago and walking up and down the aisle reading names of so many beloved authors was a thrill I will never forget.

In Texas a few years ago I saw a face across the room and had to approach the woman. I asked her who she was and was pleased to meet Lisa Kleypas. I had just become a reader of hers and loved discussing the huge beehive she had put in the wall of the heroine's family home. I so understand what you mean about being able to discuss why they put something in a book. It's fun and makes you understand how personal a story can become.

Of course when someone is foolish enough to ask about my unpublished stories, I can talk forever about the why's and what for's. :)

Lorrri said...

With all this talk about RT - I think I'll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing this Janet and here's wishing lots more fans!

Joanne said...

Everyone raves about their experience at the RT convention. Someday, I must go.

Janet/Cricket said...

This next year the convention will be in Los Angeles where my kids live and is driving distance so I'll be there with wings on.

Don't get me started on the wings. This year they were butterfly wings, gorgeous but an interesting thing to be carrying onto the plane since they were too big to fit into my suitcase.

I will be going to Nationals this year, partly because I missed not being there last year, and also because I'm president of my local chapter and should go to the leadership meeting. So I'll probably see many of you there.

Thanks for commenting!


Jill James said...

I've never been to RT but from what you and others say, it sounds like a great time.

It is great that you have fans and you sound very appreciative of every one of them. I think that would be the fun part about being a published author.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Glad you had a good time at RT. I missed it this year but I've enjoyed the Convention in the past.