Pickin’ Your Brains!

convcity.jpgAnyone out there going to RT?

If you’re not familiar with it, I’m talking about Romantic Times and the Booklovers Convention they have every year.  This year’s will be held April 16-20 in Pittsburgh.  Here’s a link: Romantic Times

RT is fun!  They love romance.   Their sole focus is to cater to readers, writers and booksellers, and they work hard to promote women’s fiction in all its forms.  Good food, elaborate theme parties and lots of networking are planned.  And oh, I can’t forgot those cover models who mingle among all the females, have their pictures taken again and again, and give the convention the sizzle it’s long been known for.


This is Rafael, an Italian hearthrob  and the perfect gentleman.  (RT in Kansas City)  Ah, definitely one of the highlights of my convention, let me tell you. 

A major aspect of the convention is the workshops, all 125 of them.  They’re geared to readers and writers, published and unpublished, on a wide variety of subjects about the biz.

I’m going to do a session with my pals, Kate Bridges and Jenna Kernan.  The workshop is entitled, “The New Old West, Grittier and Sexier.”

I would love your input.

It’s a no-brainer that I love the Old West.  It’s been part of my thinking for so long, that I tend to take for granted what appeals most to me, and cowboys have to be near the top of the list.

Our lovely guest, Mildred Colvin, blogged this past weekend about the cowboy’s charisma.  Her eloquence made me sigh.  Her descriptions and insight were right on. 

And yet, as Kate, Jenna and I were putting our proposal together, we talked about how westerns are more than hunky cowboys.  Fur trappers, scouts, outlaws, loggers–and of course the adventurous women–all made the Old West the romantic era that we know today. 

Our workshop will be geared to readers just like our Petticoats & Pistols friends, so do me a big favor and pretend you’re at RT with me, will you?  Imagine yourself poised at the door, ready to walk in.  You see Kate, Jenna and me at the front of the room.

What are you expecting?

What would you like us to tell you about today’s western romance?  (And I’d like to add an addendum here–our workshop is more about today’s western romance than the Old West itself.)

What can we present that you perhaps don’t already know?

 If you’re a writer, what can we tell you about the publishing business?  About writing a western?

What kind of information would you like on hand-outs?

Most important, are you going to RT?  Let me know!  I hope you’ll come to our session, so we can meet you!  We’ll have fun cowboy promos and an um, uplifting cowboy video presentation, too.

For each of you who takes a moment to share ideas and help me plan my youngguns1.jpgworkshop, your name will be entered into a drawing for a Young Guns DVD, featuring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland and more.

(And don’t forget to enter our Spring Round-Up contest, too!  Just click on the sidebar’s Contest link.)

Thank you for your comments!

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but her newest releases are contemporary sweet romances featuring the Blackstone Ranch series published by Tule Publishing. Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

27 thoughts on “Pickin’ Your Brains!”

  1. I have never heard of this convention. But living in a small town in Wyoming most of your life you really don’t get things like this. Finally moving to Colorado I’m in a state where more things happen. It sounds like fun, I love the old west. I have actually found it hard to find old western romance novels they all seem to be the historical. It would be nice to go to a convention like this to find more authors who write in the setting you like. I think finding more authors that write romances set in the old west is what I would like best about this convention.

  2. When I was growing up The Little House books were my favorites where everyday people and life was the focus of the stories and that’s something I enjoy reading about in westerns. I think it’s because these people lived hard lives so even small plesures were important.

  3. Hi, Maureen!

    You’d be amazed by RT! So much is going on, and you’d be rubbing elbows with authors who write all kinds of stuff.

    I’ve been to Wyoming several times, and it’s pure cowboy country out there. We’re glad you found us here at Petticoats & Pistols. The perfect place to find the western romances you’re looking for.

    If you’d go to our workshop on the Old West, what would you like to learn?

  4. Pam, It goes without saying that you should all be wearing cowboy hats of course.

    I’d keep the screaming of YEE HAW to a minimum but some of that will be expected. 🙂
    It sounds like a great convention. I’m pretty new at this conference stuff. I’ve gone to one, the ACFW conference twice. That’s it.

    I have two this year. One in ORLANDO my publisher is sending me to.

  5. Pam, I haven’t been to RT and won’t be coming this time around.:o( Sounds like loads of fun.

    I have no idea what I’d expect, but if the info presented is anything like the wonderfully informative blogs the fillies post, I’d definitely be all ears. I had never really thought about writing western romance (whether contemporary or historical) until I started reading blogs on here and learning so many cool things I didn’t know. I would enjoy hearing about anything that has to do with the old west. As a reader I love finding out new things.

    As a writer, I would be interested in knowing more about the business. I can always learn something new I might not know about. Is it different in the western romance genre than other ones?

  6. Mary, your publisher just loves you way too much. You lucky girl, you.

    Are you bringing the family with you to Orlando? Your hubby? What did you decide about San Francisco?

  7. Taryn,

    So we inspired you to write a western romance? Or get you to thinking about writing one? Either way, a very good thing!

    I’m always interested in learning more about the publishing business, too. It’s rather fascinating–and very cyclical. You can’t believe everything you hear, but it’s important to be informed, sift through the rumors and try not to be affected by negativism.

    And no, the business side of western romances is really no different than any other subgenre.

    Great to hear from you, as always!

  8. Pam, I’m always fascinated with the day-to-day life of the old timers. What tools did they use? What might be found not only in the barn, but in the house? What were their customs and manners and how has that all changed?

  9. Thank you, Mildred. I think *you* could be teaching the workshop with me!

    Our focus is more on the western romance side of things, rather than the Old West itself. We couldn’t teach near enough about the era in the short time we’ll have!

  10. Pam- Are you planning on talking about the grittier sexier stories that some readers seem to expect these days? I wondered if that’s what you mean by the New/Old West? Personally, I tend to like sweeter stories with love scenes that are timed to really fit in the story, and only then. But are the readers expecting more these days?

  11. I am fascinated with anything about the Old West. The lifestyle of families, towns and their economy, the merchants, and the trains that came through as well as the development of the land and surrounding areas. All of this enthralls me and I enjoy hearing more about it.

  12. Since I don’t fly, I haven’t gone to any of the conferences before. This time, its in Pittsburgh so its like a 3 hour drive for me. I am unable to go to the whole conference due to health and all, but I am so hoping I can go to the book signing there. I’ve never been to a big one, and I’d be nervous meeting you all but exciting too! I would have otherwise loved to come to this workshop. I so love learning the history now! I remember not having interpreters in HS so when I learned to sign in college I loved history! I love to learn about the culture then with the society rules, inventions then, how they dressed, and so on. I probably should find some book to explain that time period for the westerns (I’ve been trying to find one too on others I read like Regency, Victorian and Medieval). Any idea if they have a good book of info about our western reads time periods? Thanks!

  13. Charlene, exactly. Romances have certainly evolved, and the westerns have to, too. And I think it’s a safe bet in saying that western romances are nothing like Louis L’Amour.

    I’d love to know what makes a great western for our readers. Is it the sex? Is it the grittiness? Which author writes a great modern-day western romance? Why?

    And – better yet, examples of what makes that western grittier–and different from Louis L’Amour.

  14. This period and the history would be enthralling and fabulous. Just to learn about the way people had to be inventive, creative and made a living as well as living off the land. I find Western historical era when poeple were pioneers and had to literally hope for the best each day and were fighting for their survival utterly compelling.

  15. Hi, Diane. Thanks for stopping by. There was so much about the Old West that’s enthralling, we couldn’t begin to talk about it all!

    Caffey, unfortunately, I won’t be at the big signing because my new book won’t quite be out yet, but please don’t be shy. We authors love to meet readers!

  16. Hi, Anne,

    Have you read any western romances that showed well how the hero and heroine had to fight for survival like you described? That would certainly be a gritty story, wouldn’t it? Throw in some romance, and wow, you’d have an awesome read.

  17. I wish I could go to RT.

    As to your questions, I am not sure…everything about western life fascinates me and I love how you touch on your research here on the blog…so maybe you could touch on how you incorporate your research into the books. Or how writing western romances has changed over the years…maybe about how heroines have changed…in the last few I have read I have noticed stronger heroines…maybe it is just me.

    I noticed you mentioned wanting to know what makes a great western for your readers…well, to me a great western is one that transports me back in time. Filled with descriptions, characters, and info that make me feel as if I am on a cattle drive, lving on a cattle ranch, riding in a wagon train, in an old west town, etc.

    Characters and setting are probably the most important things to me and westerns offer a variety of both. I noticed that when I tell people about books I always tend to start by talking about the characters…hmmm. Westerns feature some of the strongest characters (both male and female) and rich settings.

    It is hard for me to say exactly why the western romance genre appeals to me more than other genres, but I do love them…perhaps for the reasons I mention above.

    Sorry for rambling!

  18. Your workshop sounds extremely interesting. What a wonderful topic to present. How life has changed living the Western dream that many hope for is something that I would pursue. I know that it is still grit, hard work and striving to succeed. How many women are willing to sacrifice for this and their future.

  19. I read Westerns since they are vital to the understanding of how this great land was settled. The integrity, bravery and wonderful qualities that these men and women exhibited throughout their lives gives me insight into the stories that are written. I am always amazed and intrigued with the lives they lead. How these special individuals lived and loved are what makes the stories remarkable.

  20. I’ve never attended one of the conventions, but
    one was held in my hometown of Houston last year.
    Wanted to attend the book-signing session, but
    had to miss that due to illness. Zane Grey and
    Louis L’Amour were among my first reads since my
    Dad loved westerns. Today’s westerns are much
    more to my liking. I enjoy the way you combine
    the actual business enterprise with the day to day
    workings of a ranch. The Old West connection comes
    in through description of physical settings. Add
    strength of character and the emotions of a modern
    day couple and I am a most happy reader!

    Pat Cochran

  21. Jennifer, I wish you could go to RT, too! It’d be so wonderful to meet such a loyal fan and friend of the Fillies as you!

    I truly appreciate your insight–it was just what I needed. Thanks!

  22. Ruth, I think a gripping western does indeed show how our heroines are willing to sacrifice for what they love most–their man and their land. Doesn’t matter if the book is historical or contemporary.

    Like Alissa said, the western is the epitome of how our country was made.

  23. Hi, Pat–bummer you couldn’t make it to RT last year. You would’ve been impressed! Sounds like the western romances of today are a perfect read for you. You’re so right–it all boils down to strength of the character (how could anyone living back then not have strength to survive?) and that all important roller-coaster of emotions, and ultimately everlasting love, of those characters.

    Something not necessarily unique to the westerns, I might add.

    Great insight!

  24. HI PAM! Very interesting. I wish I was going to RT this year. Next year for sure! Have a great time and get a picture of another cover model for me!

  25. Hi Pam~
    Wow, you certainly have a lot of great comments! This topic is getting me excited for RT. I’m happy to hear there are so many readers out there who love the western setting as much as I do.
    I’d have to agree with many of you in that it is the gutsy, strong and independent heros and heroines that appeal. The west offered such freedom and with that the terrible price of uncertianty and the constant fight against the elements for survival. It makes for great conflict and high drama.
    Unlike, Pam, I do have a book to sign, as OUTLAW BRIDE, my Valentine book, is out this month. But unfortunately I can’t be there Saturday. But, I’m looking forward to our workshop, Pam. Can’t wait!

  26. Wow, what wonderful comments! Thank you, all. Thanks, too, to you Pam, for asking for suggestions. We’ll definitely be thinking about all of these as we prepare our talk. We’d love to give any insight we can on characters, research, how we come up with some of our ideas, and how we detail our settings.

    I’ll be at the Booksigning and would love if any of you dropped by to say hello!


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