When the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention hits New Orleans next May, among the 125 workshops offered — in 16 areas (marketing, business, social networking, self-publishing and more) —attendees will be treated to panels focusing on LGBTQ romance, an increasingly popular part of the romance world. Whether it’s how to avoid writing stereotypes or exploring the many themes presented within the genre, these panels are sure to have something for everyone!

The hosts of the 2013 RT Convention LGBTQ reader party, Romance Pride: Over the Rainbow

First up, we have two exciting panels that will treat attendees to engaging insight into the wide spectrum of LGBTQ romance, and the wants and needs of publishers and readers looking for the “next big thing.” Both panels will be moderated by Sarah Frantz, Riptide Publishing’s Acquisitions Editor, who will be joined by some of the genre’s hottest authors.

With the panel, “Beyond the Pronouns: Why LGBTQ Romance May Be Your new Favorite Genre,” Frantz and authors Suzanne Brockmann, Marie Sexton, Nell Stark, Heidi Belleau and K.A. Mitchell will offer attendees a glimpse inside the relationships, situations and themes seen in LGBTQ romance.

“I'm excited about the 'Beyond the Pronouns' panel because it drives home just how fabulously far the romance genre has come in the decades since 1992, when I sold Future Perfect, my first romance novel!” says Brockmann, whose inclusion of diverse characters in her novels has earned her praise from critics and readers alike. “I believed (then and now!) that romance readers love compelling characters, whatever their orientation, and — first and foremost — that romance readers love a good love story.”

Referencing Star Trek and Mr. Spock’s “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" philosophy, Brockmann adds that she hopes readers leave the panel with a greater respect for diversity, both in the literary world and outside of it. “The world would be so boring if we were all exactly the same. Diversity makes us vibrant and creative and yes, fascinating,” she said.

In the second panel, “LGBTQ Romance: Top to Bottom, In and Out, Soup to Nuts," convention-goers will join authors, editors and a prolific reviewer in discussing the many wants and needs of publishers and readers when it comes to LGBTQ romance. The panel will cover everything from settings to pairings to self-publishing. Attendees will get to hear from Bold Strokes editor Ruth Sternglantz and Samhain Publishing Executive Editor Heather Osborn. So bring a notebook and pen because you’ll want to jot down some notes!

When asked why she thinks it’s important that RT is offering these panels and discussions, Frantz said she found the “institutional acceptance” of LGBTQ romance important, and that it “lets the writing world know that LGBTQ romance is something to take seriously, that it is being taken seriously, that it's as valid as any other 'flavor' of romance.”

We couldn’t agree more!

In addition to the panels, there will also be a craft panel and a reader track. In the craft panel “Developing Effective LGBT Characters," moderator JP Barnaby and authors TA Chase, Amy Lane and Devon Rhodes will discuss how to avoid stereotypes and instead create fully developed, rich and dynamic LGBT characters. The reader track, “Tops and Bottoms: Create Your Own Male/Male Story Heroes," will allow attendees to get their hands dirty — so to speak, of course. With the assistance of authors Daisy Harris, Cassandra Carr, Tara Lain, Amy Lane, Z.A. Maxfield and Marie Sexton, attendees will get to create — quite literally — their ideal heroes and then write a backstory for them. This hands-on exercise is sure to be a hit, so don’t miss it!

While the reader track may be Daisy Harris’ first time participating in an RT workshop, she couldn’t be more excited! “I create heroes every day, fleshing out details of their background and lives, and it will be great to share that experience with readers,” she says. But attendees won’t be the only ones with something to gain. Daisy adds that “ ... it’ll give me a chance to find out more about what readers want from their M/M heroes!”

We hope you’re all excited as we are about these new LGBTQ panels and tracks, and we can’t wait to see you all at the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans!

Tags: RT Daily Blog, Convention, Romance
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