Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sophomor(ic Lack Of) Class

Pton update below PLUS NEWS: Beginning today -- and every Tuesday after -- visit me at's cool new Book Clubs blog, "Unabashedly Bookish," where I'll dish all things romance! Hee hee; another place for us to play online with readers who care about romance books!
Follow #romcon on twitter for conference updates!

Hand ta gawd, I'm here at Princeton, I'm workin' hard, I'm on my best behavior and I haven't once on these hallowed grounds uttered the c word (within audible range of anyone who looks like they wouldn't benefit from it). But Ann Herendeen's arriving soon, so I'm hoping to make up for lost c-word time by getting her to dish about her upcoming bisexual Regency -- the one she spilled 'bout on RBTB back in '06, "Pride/Prejudice."

Anyways, since you'll agree that all scholarship and no play makes Michelle a dull Bella, I came up with a fun (to me) little list for both your edification and mortification. Bellas and Bellos, I give you the

Top Five Things You Probably Won't Hear Uttered at the Princeton Romance Scholarship Conference (But Would if I Were in Charge...)

5. Hey, Crusie! Let's bag the feminism panel and hang at the pub with those hunky beasts from the rugby team.

4. Hi. Is this the registration table for the Mr. RomanceScholar Wet Boxer-Briefs contest?

3. Sheesh! What's a chick gotta do to score a little boy on boy 'round here?! Oh, my. Bill? Eric? I was talking about erotic romance books. But you two sure know how to fix a girl a delicious sammich...

2. Do you think Buonfiglio'll get funding for her new Male Gender Studies Program, "The Princeton Manhood Project?"

And the #1 thing you probably won't hear at the Princeton Romance Scholarship Conference:

1. Does this dissertation make my ass look fat?

Do you always say what's on your mind? Or do you have a working "social filter" that keeps you from blurting out the first comments that pop into your brain and sometimes can be, well, maybe a tad inappropriate? -- and --
What message from you would you like me to give the folks at Princeton who sponsored the romance conference to thank them for respectfully bringing the books we love to the Ivies?

Thursday Nite Update: I've gotta run to get ready, but I want you to know that Ann Herendeen says hi, as well as Beverly Jenkins, both of whom I spent time with solving all the ills of the world. If only folks listened to us.

I also met a pair of smarty pantses -- one black, one white, both wonderful -- who write HEA, multicultural chicklit. They're going to visit us soon, cause they have so much to say about the new face of America and the stories that can and hopefully will be told – and they deserve for more folks to know about them.

Bill Gleason also sends his best and is a marvelous host for the conference and, I think, pleased as punch to welcome romance to Princeton.

Last night’s panel kicked off the conference fabulously with Eloisa James bringing the house down, talking about feeling shame about reading and writing romance as the daughter of an academic and a tenured prof.

Jennie Cruisie followed by declaring “I have no shame.” She spoke off the cuff about her experience with fellow academics trying to get her to agree that romance is “trash,” and not in the good way we know it to be, but she wouldn't give away her power. She also told the SRO crowd of students (go them!), scholars, readers and admin that romance is feminist and ticks folks off because it’s subversive in putting chicks at the center of the story, empowering them and allowing them HEA (which Cruisie terms Optimistic Endings, though to me that refers to some but not all romances and scares me cause it reminds me of Women’s Fiction, and that always makes me shudder when I remember how much I read in past– kind of in the same way I do when I remember those rainbow gauchos I wore in middle school). But we know what she means.

Tania Modleski gave a fascinating presentation and w/in spoke of a term which would seem oxymoronic, yet I would apply to our online community, the Intimate Public. It’s a group of individuals we speak to – or write to – assuming they think as we do. It totally resonates with me because of what we do here, and what I’m lucky enough to do with you every day.

And Stephanie Coontz -- historian and author of "Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage a book everyone's agog over. She's a huge fan of detective fiction as her escapist fantasy of choice, but read several romances to prepare her presentation -- and gave one of the best 'talks' I've seen, detailing the history of marriage and how it differs from our idea of romantic love matches. She spoke with an empathy for romance fiction readers, as well as those of us who adore the bastardly hero who's hot on the page, but not so hot IRL. She challenged authors to find a way to 'eroticize equality' of power in sexual relationships, which I later told her I believe often is evidenced in erotic romance fiction which strives to maintain sexual tension in ways other than the turn on of many types of 'fear,' not for safety, but for our emotions. Can you tell I adored her?
(Apologies for missing shades of meaning of speakers' presntns. as my note taking can be inadequate).


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! Missed you yesterday en route to the East coast. Always cool to be back home, especially here in Jersey. Had a neato kind of day, arriving in La Guardia (which we always pronounce La Warrrrdya, for some reason), then catching a ride w/the driver of the company car of one of Dave B/Male Perspective Guy's business associates. It wasn't just wicked cool that I didn't have to schlep the mass tran, but the driver is a former NY cop who also is a writer! So we talked craft from NYC to Princeton. It was wild and really fun.

The digs here are sweet, a very charming Inn/hotel, way Colonial and lovely, the Nassau Inn. I'll be holed up in my room today rewriting so I don't embarrass youz or myself tomorrow.

Loved reading your reading suggestions from yesterday.

Mon-- Stacy just was telling me about that read over the weekend. I read it a while back and dug it, too! I guess we'll get to read the other 'hero's' story eventually. I like hearing how it pulled you in, cause it's hard to find a book that blocks out all the others available.

Portia Da Costa said...

Good luck at the conference, Queen Bella. Your hotel sounds lovely!

I'm feeling v. wistful just now... wishing I could be at two different places, rather than where I am. Either with you in Princeton, or at the Romantic Times conv.

Still the sun is shining here in West Yorkshire, so all is not lost. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Principessa, yesterday you made an interesting comment about romance being feminist in a 'non bra burning' way, then went on to say it also teaches you not to settle for the first guy that comes along. I like the way that kind of juxtaposes to 'extremes' of thought, the 'bra burning' the feminists of my youth had to do to make their point known to a public and society that didn't value chicks (as well as protest constraints they didn't ask for), and the idea that 'any man' is better than no man. To me, it means you've taken in different ways of looking at a 'woman's place' in her world, and romance reading has made you more thoughtful about that.

Orannia, talk about opposite ends of the spectrum! Thanks for the words of support! I'll be thinking of you all and channeling your good wishes.

Portia, well, I pretty much was crazy for that book for many reasons, especially characterization. Can you imagine English isn't her first language? Thanks for the good thoughts.

"The Doctor" is always pleased to be in, Leslie. :) And it is neato that Emma Holly's new book is set in post-WWI.

Yes, yes, Ames. Go East, young man.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oh, the sun, Portia! It's been a bit dreary in Chicago, so I'd take that! I wish you could be here, because I'm selfish, but I know lots of folks who'd love to have you at RT, too. Perhaps you just need to spend a little time out in the sun w/ a nice, saucy read. :)

Kathleen Long said...

Michelle -- popped on over from Twitter to say hello! Oh my, you've got me laughing today. Best of luck at the conference, and #1 on your list is hysterical. Thanks! As for the filter on my mouth...well...let's just say it's not as quick as it used to be. ;o) Have a great time.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Kathleen! SO great to see you! I'm (sorta) in your neck of the woods, no? Love Jersey. Hope your writing's going well. Thanks for stopping in to say hi!

Stacy~ said...

Hey Michelle, I hope you're having a great time. OMG I loved the Bill?Eric? reason. In the unlikely event that ever happened, you just GOTTA take pictures ;)

And it's nicer in Chicago right now. Supposed to be getting up to 80 tomorrow! About damn time.

My mom is of the non-filter variety, and I think it helped turn me into a more uptight person about how I speak in public. And where I work, we have to be EXTREMELY careful about not saying anything non-PC. People have been fired for it. Of course all it takes is 2 minutes with QB or my perv friend Linda and I have no control. Nothing is sacred - it all gets said. Linda and I laugh til we cry a lot *g*

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

You're always so funny when the filter shuts down, Stace, cause you get this sheepish little grin followed by some totally naughty comment said in a completely nonchalant tone. Figures I leave town and the weather perks up.

Kathleen Long said...

Michelle -- yes, you're just a bit north of me in NJ. Looks like you're going to have gorgeous weather. Enjoy. ;o) I'd tell you to behave yourself, but what fun would that be?

ev said...

You're on Twitter? Why did I not know this?? I must be slipping.

I hope you have a great time, even if you have to watch that "c" word. although they could probably use some shaking up!

As for filters- ha ha and ha. I have learned that I do need them in some situations and sometimes they arrive late. Oh, well. I do my best. I am not a PC person by nature. My new job allows me to be able to say things to my fellow workers as long as we are careful about it. At times I have had my office manager laughing so hard she had to leave the office so as not to disturb the candidates testing. I can't even mention Big, Jamican Chocolate Easter Bunnies to her.

I am a bad girl.

Miranda Neville said...

Love love love your list, especially number 1. I have to tell myself to bite my tongue all the time. And half the emails/comments I ever write are deleted before I send. So be brave for all of us. I dare you.

amy kennedy said...

OMG! I love you. What a perfect way to start the day.

Filters? What are filters? Actually, when I need them for aquaintances and strangers, I have none. But when I could use the straight shooting tongue my mouth shuts down. My brain keeps working, but I become mute.

It's a great day for Romance--well, every day is a great day for Romance--maybe it's a better day for people who don't read or acknowledge Romance as a legitimate and intelligent genre. So I would thank the Princeton folks for this.

amy kennedy said...

I do love a man in a nice pair of jeans.

Hey, say hi to Ann Herendeen too--that is cool she'll be there.

Unknown said...

oh, very funny! Next year, can you be in charge?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'm, um, not expecting a repeat invitation, Carolyn. But maybe if I talk Achebe or sumthin... Great to see you!

Ames, that's what I was thinkin: jeans and forearms.

Ooo, Miranda, a dare. And this from the woman who worked for veddy proper Christie's. I think them's fightin words. How can I resist? And, yeah, I delete an awful lot of email responses, too. I've learned to write them w/out the address line filled in, just in case I hit 'send' accidentally.

ev, I don't even wanna know. But I'm glad you found a job where you can express yourself. I know you have a lot to say. hee hee.

Monica Burns said...

I loved the dissertation/ass comment. It soooo appeals to my intellect and my lack of a hot bod. *sigh*

As for speaking my mind...yeah I do that. Much to my detriment I think. I always wind up in trouble with my big mouth. Then I'm mortified for weeks and months that follow. Seriously, I obsess about it.

As for the Princeton folk...I think they rock. If they look deep enough they'll talk about the psychology of reading romance, and why it's so important to a reader's psyche. Lots of hope, empowerment and inner exploration of sexual issues. Of course, they're all a lot smarter than I am...included our QBella. But it's lovely to see romance earning respect from academia.

amy kennedy said...

No-no Monica, they are not a lot smarter than you are--what theys got is book-lernin. Or as the Wizard says--a Diploma.

Monica Burns said...

LOL Thanks Ames

orannia said...

You're welcome QB! Enjoy!

As for the filter...I pretty much have foot IN mouth disease...I always seem to come out with the wrong thing at the wrong time, and the harder I try the worse it gets!

In the unlikely event that ever happened, you just GOTTA take pictures ;)*nods* Definitely :)

ev said...

Jeez Bella, it's nothing like that!! LOL I administer professional and licensing testing for an internationl company, which is a division of a certain, to be unnamed Publishing Company.

Tiona said...

Hey, Bellas! Our QB is transmitting all the way from Princeton! Hurray.
OMG! I cannot believ they won't allow the ever-so-lucious c word to be mentioned. The horror! Tell the Princetonians that, though they are a little too uptight, the why already discussed, overall they rock!
Hmm, yes, I guess Romance has made me realize that a lot of women, women who don't read romance, mostly, let men walk all over them. And yes, Romance has made me, I'm happy to say, have higher standards, as more women, even today, should, in my opinion.
However, there are other topics I thought would be releven, as already mentioned. They psyche of romance, the acceptance of romance, and the sexual acceptance, as well. Such as boy on boy, hehe. All VERY relevent issues that aren't always touched on in other places.
Have loads of fun, QB, as I'm sure you will. Going to Twitter now to check it out!

Santa said...

Welcome home, carina!

I must confess I always say what's on my mind but thankfully have the tack gene which is woefully missing from the male members of my DH's family.

How I wish I was in Jersey (and trust me - I NEVER say that, lol)!

Princeton's timing in welcoming our beloved tomes into their halls could not be better. I have been, and forever shall be, reading for the sheer pleasure of escaping via books written for just that express purpose. We read to escape for a while from the demands of today's world into a place where an HEA is guaranteed. It is in these times that the gems of our gifted favorites, are of greater value to heartened romance readers.

Have fun! I can't wait to hear more. I may actually take the plunge into Twitter. Or is it tweeter?

Portia Da Costa said...

Ooh, are you going to tweet news from the conference, Michelle? That will be fun! I love Twitter!

I'm following you, do you wanna follow me? ;)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! Grazie, Santa! It's great to be home. There's just something bout hangin on your home turf (East coast/Jersey; not that anybody ever woulda invited me to study at Princeton). Thanks for the eloquent words on romance.I'mnot absolutely sure, but I believe one tweets on twitter? Portia's our addict, so she can give us the skinny. I have much to learn from the you masters in oh, so many ways.

Hey, principessa! Interesting that you make the comment bout women who don't read romance letting guys walk all over em. This certainly was the case for me -- and last night Jenny Cruisie, when I could peel her off that hawt 26-year old rugby boy, said her first experience w/ romance reading changed her life. She also spoke about romances being feminist, but subversively so because they place women at the center of the story and allow her emotional justice (HEA or Optimistic Ending, as Jennifer likes to call it).

Portia Da Costa said...

'Emotional justice'... Oh, I just love that!

As for Twitter... well, it's enormous fun. Like being in a global chat room, both watching conversations taking place, and also participating. It's really immediate and a way to reach out to a bunch of friends, and to react to situations very quickly eg. the #amazonfail scenario, where tweeting authors spread the word about Amazon slyly deranking erotica and gender issue books to make them invisible to searches. News of this spread like wildfire on twitter and the resulting groundswell of protest compelled Amazon to rectify the situation quickly.

Twitter can also a bit of a time sink, if you get sucked in, and confusing in terms of who's following who, but on the whole, I find it mainly positive and a godsend for writers who are solitary creatures and can often feel very cut off from friends and peers.

It's also an excellent way to network and create buzz about events and books etc, once you've built up a sizeable follower network. Networks grow gradually as you spot your friends tweeting to other interesting people, who you can then follow. And other people can follow you when they see you interacting with people they follow.

At least I think that's how it works! LOL

Portia Da Costa said...

Yay, have registered at Unabashedly Bookish, ready, willing and able to comment! :)

Manda Collins said...

Hey Michelle! Sounds like you're having a fabulous time! Wish I were there to soak up all of the good vibes, but I will count on you to bring some back for us:)

Can't wait to read all the scholarship that's going to come out of this confluence of minds and romance!

ann herendeen said...


Many, many thanks for giving me even more publicity! As always, I am in your debt.

btw, Michelle and I had a terrific time whispering in the corridor after hours like a couple of naughty schoolgirls on the first night of the conference. We certainly have everything figured out! Now if only the rest of the messed-up world would listen to us!

To amy*skf: Awww, that is such a lovely thing to say! I wish you could have been there too, because I just adore being adored. ;)

Seriously, I had a great time and I felt like the "bella" of this ball. lol

If anyone's interested, I've posted my talk on my website in the newsletter section.