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All images courtesy of Jennifer Carole Lewis.

Romance writers sweep readers off their feet at Romancing the Capital

By Jennifer Carole Lewis on May 22, 2016

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Hundreds of eager romance readers descended on Canada’s capital recently to meet their favourite authors and celebrate the diverse world of modern romance. Romancing the Capital was organized by Ottawa’s own New York Times and USA Today bestseller, Eve Langlais, and once again she delivered a fantastic weekend full of laughter, fun and, of course, happily ever afters.

Forty-two romance authors came to greet their fans, some local from Ottawa, some from the United States and one from Australia. Their books range from sweet to erotic, contemporary to paranormal, funny to serious, couples to menagé. Every flavour and facet of relationships was well represented, united only by the certainty that happiness is never more than a few pages away.

Attending readers could meet new and favourite authors, such as Opal Carew and Sharon Page, during special featured author salons that ran throughout the conference. Every hour, a new pair of authors opened their doors to any and all, offering readers a chance to ask questions, get advice and discover what was up next for their favourite series. For those looking for a more intense, but less time-consuming process, there was Author Speed Dating on the Saturday, where every two minutes, readers and authors paired to make a perfect literary match.

A number of readers came as aspiring authors, looking to take advantage of the serious panels on topics varying from independent publishing, world building and the various types of romance. The panel on the different types of LGBTQ romance, with Nathan Burgoine, Angela Stone, Kristine Cayne, Kayleigh Malcom and Elizabeth Lister, was an enlightening look at some of the challenges faced by authors writing in this genre as well as building awareness of ways all authors could increase their diversity.

The LGTBQ panel: top row (l-r): Kayleigh Malcom and Nathan Burgoine; bottom row (l-r): Angela Stone, Kristine Cayne and Elizabeth Lister Mad Libs panel: top row (l-r): Sasha White, S.E. Smith, Zoe York; bottom row (l-r): Cora Seton and Cathryn Fox

The LGTBQ panel: top row (l-r): Kayleigh Malcom and Nathan Burgoine; bottom row (l-r): Angela Stone, Kristine Cayne and Elizabeth Lister

Those looking for less serious pursuits could pick up bags full of swag and prizes at panels such as Dirty Talk with Opal Carew and Sharon Page, organized by the ladies of Pub-Craft, a promotional service for romance writers. The audience divided into teams and came up with euphemisms for naughty bits of the body, generating a great deal of laughter for the most creative offerings. Or the Test Your Military Knowledge quiz with author Susan Stoker, who peppered her audience with rapid fire questions on ranks in the U.S. and Canadian military and facts about SEAL training, offering a table full of swag for the team with the highest number of right answers for each round. Or Mad Libs with Sasha White, Cora Seton, Zoe York, S.E. Smith and Cathryn Fox where readers were able to create their own hilarious versions of scenes.

Mad Libs panel: top row (l-r): Sasha White, S.E. Smith, Zoe York; bottom row (l-r): Cora Seton and Cathryn Fox

Mad Libs panel: top row (l-r): Sasha White, S.E. Smith, Zoe York; bottom row (l-r): Cora Seton and Cathryn Fox

In the evening, Romancing the Capital and the Holiday Inn provided fabulous themed dinners on the Friday and Saturday nights. Many guests dressed appropriately and, from the message board, some had been planning their costumes for months. Friday was Cowboys and Bad Boys, sponsored by Cathryn Fox, Zoe York, Sasha White, Cora Seeton and S.E. Smith. And Saturday was Retro 80’s Prom, sponsored by Viola Grace, Robyn Peterman, Eve Langlais, Coreene Callahan and Cynthia St. Aubin.

The highlight of the weekend for many was the Saturday book signing, which was open to the public, not just ticketed attendees. Hundreds of eager fans arrived to buy books, receive free promotional copies and circulate to meet each of the authors.

The conference was a blast for readers and authors alike. Elizabeth Lister, who writes M/M BDSM romance, was thrilled to attend an author event in her hometown and get an opportunity to meet other authors and expand her readership. Coreene Callahan, who writes paranormal and historical romance, loves the opportunity to sit and chat with readers, noting that Romancing the Capital is a more intimate conference than many of the larger reader events.

Maria and Lucille, both readers, found out about the conference at their local Chapters and were surprised at how approachable and helpful the authors were. Rebecca, with last year’s conference already under her belt, comes for the dinners and dancing, as well as to meet the authors. Gen and Larina, both aspiring authors, found the professionally-geared panels very helpful and provided insight on both the romantic genre and writing in general.

At the end of the weekend, both the authors and the readers were exhausted, but everyone had a great time and was eager to return the following year. Eve Langlais, the hardest working but most celebrated woman there, hasn’t confirmed whether or not she can be persuaded to do it all again next year but was tentatively considering the August long weekend. Those eager not to miss it should definitely mark their calendars and check the Romancing the Capital website and Facebook group for more information.

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