Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Crew Is Here!

I'm guest blogging today at Romancing the Blog!
So hang here with the Romancing the Blog crew, then please
head over there
to hang with me a bit, too!

About a week after I made Romance: By the Blog a feature of Romance: B(u)y the Book, a friend told me about a cool aggregate blog that had already added a link to my new blogging venture. When I got an email from Kate Smith (not of "God Bless America" fame) asking whether I'd like to join their group of columnists, I was kinda honored. is a neat-o place to exchange ideas, dish about romance, get folks to really think about their positions on various issues affecting the genre, and find everything romance in c-space. It's unique, and a boon to the romance fiction community. Won't you please offer "The Kates" a warm, TGIF buongiorno...

As with all of the greatest ideas, RTB was born with a single question . . . what if?

"What if someone put together a group blog where readers, authors, and industry professionals with established blogs of their own came together to discuss topics relevant to today's romance? And what if it was done out of love for the romance genre and not for the purpose of blatant promotion?"

That's how Romancing The Blog was born.

A group of blogging authors, published and unpublished, became "The Kates." We wanted one anonymous name behind Romancing The Blog in order to keep the behind-the-scenes staff out of the spotlight. We didn't want people referring to Romancing The Blog as "Oh, that's so-and-so's blog." We wanted the romance genre and the columnists to be the focus.

So we put our heads together, compiled a list of possible columnists, created a posting schedule, established a few guidelines, and built the site from the ground up. We assigned staff duties, and though staff members have come and gone, there are still some founding members working behind the scenes. As we got into the swing of things, we added new programs such as Open Blog Night, and began inviting guest columnists to add to our schedule. It's a labor of love…lots of work, but we truly enjoy what we do.

One of our staff members, Misa Ramirez says, "Working behind the scenes lets me contact 'celebrity' authors which is cool because it gives me a little thrill. Of course they still have no idea who I am since I'm 'Kate', but I still like that part of the behind the scenes job. When I run into, say, Bob Mayer or editor Lucia Macro, I think to myself, "Wow! I've emailed with you. Too bad you don't know it, but still..."

Larissa Ione, one of our founders, enjoys the diversity among the posts. "We've got columnists from different races, sexes, sexual orientations, and ages. We've got readers, published and unpublished authors, editors, agents…it's a great sampling from the romance community, which allows RTB posts to encompass a wide range of tones and topics."

Speaking of posts and topics, when asked about favorites, our newest Kate, May K, had this to say: “My absolute favorite post on RTB is Wendy Crutcher's "Feminist Manifesto." It is perhaps the best example of what I find at RTB often: an essay that articulates my thoughts better than I could have done so myself.”

Lia Sebastian, the Kate in charge of RTB Info Center columns, loves “going through the columns and seeing the wide variety of comments each one receives. We hear from readers, writers, editors, and other people interested in the romance book industry. Romancing the Blog is not only a talented group of bloggers, but a community. Our visitors are very much a part of things; their comments are often as thought provoking as the columns themselves. This makes it a pleasure to read, and there’s even more reward in being involved behind the scenes.”

Working behind the scenes can be very rewarding, but it isn’t always easy.

Alison Kent, on being a Kate: “The life of a Kate is just about as glamorous as that of an author -- you know, lots of work, work, work to produce a finished product readers enjoy without losing our minds! It can feel like an intricate juggling act at times, dealing with columnists' deadlines and vacations and emergencies yet still needing to get posts scheduled, responding to emails, vetting all the blogs submitted for the sidebars, etc. But the Kates are a well-oiled team, and if we get a little manic and insane at times, well, there's always one Kate to pick up the ball another Kate may have dropped, and still another to keep track of the ones in the air. After all these months, we've got it down to an art - art being in the eye of the beholder and all.” *g*

When asked what her favorite thing about being a Kate is, Sylvia Day sums it up for all of us: “Working with the other Kates. :) Keeping the blog running smoothly on the outside oftentimes means we're harried on the inside, but we all love the concept. We try to keep things fresh and constantly work on new ideas to ensure the blog evolves and stays relevant. As with any joint project, we compromise and debate, but our love of the genre and the positive aspects of blogging fuel us even when we're drained by deadlines and life commitments. There's just something wonderful about a group working on a project where they're anonymous. It comes from our hearts.”

We launched in January 2005 and have seen tremendous growth in our traffic. We've lost columnists, added new ones, always doing our best to offer a balance of posts to appeal to readers and authors alike. We're constantly brainstorming new ideas to keep the site fresh and topical. We're always open to input from our readers because without them we wouldn't have become the success that we have!

(Also a Kate: Stephanie Tyler, our columnist liaison. Our Charlie in charge of technical support: Walt Stone of DreamForge Media)

Please visit Every Day, where you'll find links to all the Kates' (Stephanie's and Walt's, too) blogs/sites, and hundreds of other terrific readers,' writers,' and industry blogs on the Inet!

The photos above don't necessarily match up w/the names they're near, but we'll find out from the Kate's who's who. Or whom. What are the chances someone might offer the correct grammar...


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Kates! So happy to have you here. So fascinating to know how RTB was conceived, how it's grown, how you work to keep it fresh. And I'm not sure whether your id's were common knowledge, but I'm kinda surprised. :) We've even had you here before, Sylvia. Who knew you, mild-mannered writer of erotic romance, led a deep, dark (well, not really) secret life.

I hope you'll tell us, Kates, about some of the most fun parts of RTB, and maybe you've a particularly funny story or two to share?

Anywayz, thank you , thank you for taking time out of your collective busy days to visit with us.

Larissa Ione said...

Hi, Michelle! Thanks so much for having us! :)

Funny thing about our identities...we were anonymous for months, but "came out" after RTB became established and was doing well. What was so cool is that our first columnists--most of whom are still with us--took a chance on this new blog without knowing who we were. We are SO grateful to those columnists, and are so proud to be working with them.

Let's see...the pics...the first one is me, Larissa Ione. The second is Alison Kent. The third is Lia Sebastian, and the last is Sylvia Day.

Off to the treadmill, but will see if I can come up with any funny behind-the-scenes stories! :)

Playground Monitor said...

I love conception stories. We have our own story about the Playground, which has a link on RtB (under the T's for The Writing Playground) thank you very much.

It's a great site and when anyone says they want to read blogs about romance I send them there -- and here of course! And to the Playground blog.

Welcome to Bella-dom today!


Eve Silver said...

Hi everyone (extra waves to Larissa and Sylvia)! Interesting info about RTB.

Totally OT, I just watched Michelle on the Gill Deacon Show. Michelle, you were amazing. You are a champion for the entire romance genre, so well-spoken and articulate and poised. I was wow-ed.

Kati said...

Hi Ladies - Welcome! I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what precipitated the creation of Romancing the Blog? Where you unhappy with the information that was out there? How do you find new folks to post there? How do you keep the topics fresh? Is someone the "topic police" and says, "Nope, we've covered that." Are there any topics that you won't discuss?

Vivi Anna said...

Hi Bellas and 'Kates' *waving at Sylvia, Alison and Larissa*

I'm getting ready to go watch Michelle on the Gil Deacon show. It's on in less than an hour.

I love Romancing the Blog. I always stop in every day to see what's on teh agenda, and I also like that it's the hub where you can go to find any author or book blog. Very cool!

Alison Kent said...

Thanks for having us, Michelle. I honestly can't think of any behind-the-scenes stories that are particularly funny beyond some of the emails we get - from people who obviously don't get that the blog is about the romance *genre* and not about the lovey dovey stuff of romance.

I remember one email that was almost like a personals ad that a guy wanted us to put up for him to help him find a woman. And we'll get advertisers wanting us to talk about their matchmaking service, or publicity people wanting to pimp their clients' romantic music CD's, etc. We also get a lot of requests from publishers' marketing departments for reviews - which we don't do.

So, in a way it *is* funny how many visitors we get who see only the "romancing" part and thing we're in the business of love!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Alison. I still can't get over that you're one of the Kates. That some of you are published writers really illustrates what I try to explain, that you can be an author and support other authors, a reviewer and support other reviewers,etc., etc. It only strengthens the genre. And it's what comes through at RTB, that you all love romance enough to let everyone have their say.

Do you Kates get lovelorn email? I seem to get a lot, and it really moves me.

Thanks for the nice words, Eve. But now everyone's gonna think I prepped you to say this stuff when I saw you.

Vivs, and Play, I send everyone to RTB, too.

MaryKate asks about the "topic police." I know I've wondered whether mine would ever be turned down, but I get the sense that short of self-promotion -- the kind we nurture here :) -- pretty much anything goes that's done thoughtfully.

If you've been trying to email me today, my computer's on the fritz. You can catch me at if you need me urgently.

Vivi Anna said...

Watched the show. Michelle as always you looked fantastic and brought up some amazing points about the genre. Bravo!

Kayla and Debbie were awesome too.

I love that Debbie. I've known her for a couple years now and she's a huge advocate for romance.

May said...

Thanks for having us, Michelle!

As the newbie Kate, I don't have any funny stories, unless you think my almost emailing Alison to ask her why she was trying to pull a fast one on me when she emailed me to invite me to become a Kate is funny.

In my defence, I was very tired at the time.

May K

Sylvia Day said...

Where you unhappy with the information that was out there?

We loved what was out there. We simply thought it would be great to have ONE place to find such thought provoking posts about the romance genre, rather than hop all over the web. We also wanted to create a place where non-romance readers could find information about the genre.

How do you find new folks to post there?

We email and ask. :) Many of the Kates frequent various blogs and they'll take note. We'd love to get more reader bloggers (hint, hint), but sadly, most readers we approach decline our invitations.

How do you keep the topics fresh?

Our columnists do that. (see below)

Is someone the "topic police" and says, "Nope, we've covered that." Are there any topics that you won't discuss?

Not at all. :) We don't control topics, period. We leave that up to our columnists. We don't edit or censor in any way. There is pretty much only one rule -- no promo. The blog was established as a place to discuss the genre as a whole, not individual authors and their books. Other than that, the columnists decide for themselves what they want to talk about. We don't worry about repetition, because each columnist brings a unique viewpoint to the table, so even if the topic is the same, the discussion will be different.

We've even had you here before, Sylvia. Who knew you, mild-mannered writer of erotic romance, led a deep, dark (well, not really) secret life.

LOL! It's important to all of us that the blog not be about "us". We're just the grunts who keep the wheels greased. The rest is run by the columnists themselves. Because of that, we prefer to keep the focus on them. :)


Alison Kent said...

Michelle - Your point about not believing I'm one of the Kates is exactly why we didn't tell anyone for so long as Larissa said. We weren't sure we could get anyone to blog when we were inviting anonymously, but most were good sports and bit. (I remember one guest we invited who wanted to know our identities before she agreed to blog, but even then we preferred not to make it about us!) It's about the genre and our support of the readers and authors who make it work!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Again, it's so cool that you Kates "prefer to keep the focus on" the bloggers. Folks who need to promote their own projects aren't always so open-minded about helping along others. But you've really got something to be commended -- what you do helps everyone in the romance community, industry, readers, author alike.

Thanks for that, Kates!

Hey, Vivs. Thanks for the nice words about the Gill Deacon Show. That "Debbie," the "romance fan." Holy cow. Before the show she was all like, "oh, I don't know that I'll have anything to say." And Kayla and I look at each other and go, "I think you'll do just fine, Debbie." The woman is a total hoot, and a ball of energy. Does she come to your signings or something Vivs?

May, I think your disbelief was charming. But what an honor!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

What an interesting point, Kate. I didn't know Kate Smith wasn't a "someone" when I agreed to write for you. If I'd felt you were staying anny because you didn't want to link your name to your opinions,I wouldn't have been so honored to have been asked, nor would I have accepted. It's just clear you've got a tight, ethical model running.

If RTB was about your posting the Kates' opinions, I would have felt disappointed, like I'd been "taken" in a way. If one is tossing out opinions in a way that's expects credence, one that is linked to some type of business plan and professional acceptance especially, I think one should back up those opinions with one's full name or legal nomme de plume associated with one's person.

Playground Monitor said...

There's a pic of Michelle and the others up on the Gill Deacon site.

Larissa Ione said...

*waving back at Vivi Anna and Eve!*

I couldn't think of any good stories, mainly because all of the the "duh" ones involve me doing something utterly stupid...