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Jane had an excellent post up last week, entitled Past is Prologue, A Brief Look at History of Romance Communities on the Internet.
In this column, Jane talks about the early pioneers of online romance communities, paying special homage to the agitators who came before.

In conclusion, she asks what brought us (readers) into the romance community. She asks about our earliest memories, and our likes and dislikes as far as The Community is concerned.

I did start leaving a comment on the DA blog, but the computer ate it when I hit ‘submit’, which pissed me off no end, so I decided to just turn it into a post.

Back in late 2004, I discovered and joined the Elloras Cave Yahoo list. I’d been reading romance books for as long as I could remember, and Silhouette Desires were always my favourite category romances, because the heroes and heroines used to get down and dirty, in a way that the characters in Mills and Boon Tender romances never could.

When I discovered EC, I was amazed that there were romance books that actually had words like ‘cock’ and ‘pussy’ in them. I was totally in seventh heaven.

I discovered quite a few other Yahoo groups via the EC list, but unfortunately, most of these lists were of the Fake McFake Mary Sunshine variety, which really wasn’t my bag at all. Criticisms of books were very much frowned upon, and everybody was so cheery, it made my teeth hurt.

I recall posting on the EC list one day, asking why there were never any negative reviews of books. Even the review sites were all bubble-gum sweet for God’s sake. My question was of course met with radio silence.
This was puzzling to me, seeing as I’d come across loads of bad EC books, including that steaming pile of horse manure by J.W McKenna.

Anyway, one day, I followed a link on AngieW’s (Angela James) signature, and found her Brianna’s Mommy blog.

I looked through the archives, and chuckled over some of her more ranty posts (Oh how I miss Angie’s less diplomatic side, she was usually so spot on about some of the things that pissed me off too).
One of the most poignant posts on Angie’s blog back then, was her account of the emotions she went through when she thought that Baby Brianna had stopped breathing one night. I cried buckets over that post, I can tell you.

Anyway, I decided there and then that this blog lark was for me, and It’s My Blog And I’ll Say What I Want To was born.

The first reader to link to me was the wonderful Maili (McVane). I still recall how ridiculously pleased I was that she knew I was alive. Heh.

Through Maili, I discovered the likes of KristieJ, Sybil, Rosario, The SBs, Wendy SL, Bloghappy Nicole, Tara, RTB, etc.

Since then, I’ve met some amazing, (and not so amazing) romance bloggers, including the Dear Author gals, who are such a pivotal part of Romanceland these days.

I can’t quite remember how I came across Mrs Giggles, but her irreverence totally appealed to the devil-child in me, and when she’s not having a sweat over the state of Romanceland, she is one terrifically funny blogger.

What do I like about Romanceland? I’d say it’s that feeling that I’m part of something quite special. Also, without Romanceland, I doubt I would have ‘met’ the likes of Nora Roberts, Dorothy Koomson, Shiloh Walker, Maya Banks, and all those ladies whose books I’ve enjoyed over the past few years.

As for what I dislike about Romanceland? That one’s easy – the people who insist that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I don’t love those people so much. I think they do a great disservice to the genre by decrying those who are brave enough to tell it like it is.

Anyway, it’s amazing, but I’ve actually only been blogging for just over four years. It seems like so much much longer somehow. Admittedly, I surf less, and I don’t get as involved in blog discussions as I used to, but I still enjoy reading the various opinions of the bloggers on my Google Reader list. We’re a widely diverse group of people, and I have to say, it’s been a pleasure getting to know the majority of you.


  • “people who insist that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Yep – they can bugger off…I am a little bit over them at the moment…


  • Kat
    May 11
    8:23 am

    I’m pretty sure your blog was the first romance blog I bookmarked. Absolutely no idea how I found you. I do remember it was a result of looking up Kathleen O’Reilly online. Hers was the first author site I visited back in 2004.


  • Dawn
    May 11
    11:25 am

    I used to, and still do sometimes, read Silhouette Desires and I used to lurk on the eHarlequin website and in a completely roundabout way, like subscribing to a contest, I found a blurb for Cheyenne McCray and then through that Ellora’s Cave. Like you I was in heaven.

    I first heard about you through ECCavers yahoo group, then Jaci Burton and Sarah McCarty, then you started your own blog, and I’ve been here ever since. Actually, your’s is the only blog/group that I visit pretty much on a regular basis these days. I’ve left a lot of the groups that I’d subscribed to. One stopped responding to my questions (not that I posted a lot) – blatantly ignoring me while replying to others. Dunno what happened there, but hey life goes on.

    I don’t know why, but somehow the geographical proximity – not that it makes a difference in cyberspace – makes me feel more in touch with you. And you can always be guaranteed to light the touch paper on some subjects and run like hell.

    I don’t comment an awful lot anymore. Only when something really takes me by the throat.


  • Mireya
    May 11
    12:49 pm

    I started in the EC yahoo group in early 2003. I thought it was cool to be able to interact with authors I liked so much i.e. Cheyenne McCray, Angela Knight, later on Jaci Burton and many many others. From there I joined many other author and epublisher loops. However, after the first rift at EC (the original group was deleted and replaced), I started removing myself from the groups. Shortly after, I realized most groups were mere promotional tools, with the occassional interesting discussion that more often than not ended up in arguments. I grew tired of it all and “retired”. I came back about a year and a half ago and only follow your blog, Dear Author, Mrs. Giggles, and on occassion visit SBs, though not as much lately as they are mostly on promotion mode so I am staying away until things calm down in there.

    I remember how shocked I was with the first blunt review of yours I read. I didn’t know what to think, and still am not sure if I would ever feel comfortable being as brutally honest in a review, but at the same time, I like that you have the guts to rant to your heart’s content on a number of subjects about which I find myself agreeing with you more often than not. So, I keep coming back to see what you have to say even if I don’t participate as much. I also like the gossipy bits when they pop up.

    Dear Author for the news and for learning, SB for entertaining value, and this blog because it is one in with which I actually relate to their blogger(s) as a fellow reader. I don’t need much more than that to stay up to date online.


  • Las
    May 11
    2:05 pm

    I started with AAR back in college, so around 1999-2000. I loved it because up until that point I’d just pick up random books hoping they’d be decent. Best of all, they have their sensuality rating system, which was extremely important because, to me, there was no point in reading romance if there wasn’t a hefty dose of sex. I’ve slightly “matured” since then, and there are quite a few sex-light romances that I’ve loved, but I still go to AAR when I come across new-to-me authors so I can find out how steamy their books without wasting money.

    From there I found Mrs. Giggles review site, which I instantly loved. It was just Mrs. Giggles and AAR for years, then I stopped reading new romances for over a year so I didn’t keep up with the sites. When I decided to try romance again i went back to those sites, and I finally noticed that there were a whole lot of romance communities out there. Fun, but I have very little interest in the behind-the-scenes publisher drama stuff that seems to dominate, so while I occasionally pop in to various sites, this one and Mrs. Giggles are pretty much the only ones I read regularly.


  • Yeah, EC is how I got more involved in romanceland, too. I stumbled onto blogs when Jaynie R or Angie, can’t remember who, sent me a link to a post on PBW’s blog-I didn’t realize it was one of my fave authors right away. But that was when I first started spending more time reading blogs over groups.

    As for what I dislike about Romanceland? That one’s easy – the people who insist that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. I can say I don’t see any point in cruelty and some bloggers are just plain cruel. However, most of those so-called ‘mean girl’ bloggers are not what I’d call cruel. There’s a difference between honest criticism/negative viewpoints and cruelty.

    Another thing I don’t like, at all, is the general vibe that some people give off… “how can you like that girl? She’s so mean and I can’t imagine liking anybody that likes her…”

    I’m so not into popularity contests. They bored me in high school, and they bore me even more now. I couldn’t care less about being ‘popular’. I’m quite happy being just me, and having the freedom to like who I want to like without worrying about how those in the ‘in’ crowd (or whatever) are going to view me.

    What do I like about Romanceland? I’d say it’s that feeling that I’m part of something quite special. Also, without Romanceland, I doubt I would have ‘met’ the likes of Nora Roberts, Dorothy Koomson, Shiloh Walker, Maya Banks, and all those ladies whose books I’ve enjoyed over the past few years.

    Awwww… thank you. Blush. It’s been a pleasure ‘meeting’ you, as well. And…*big thrill* seeing my name somehow linked with Nora’s…

    What I like about romanceland is the fact that it is its own little world and usually entertaining. 😉


  • Tara & I started our blogs at the same time (4 years ago). We used to comment over at the RT boards. It has been so long since I was over there I don’t even remember my password or login. lol :0 From there I heard about Mrs. Giggles & Maili (McVane) & Karen & Angela James. I’m primarily a lurker now though. Not enough time to do everything I want. 🙁



  • It’s only been 4 years?? LOL, and here I thought I’d found you when you were a well-seasoned, bastion of Romancelandia. (Well, really, you were, even then.) I’ve been on eHarlequin as a host for…wow, 9 years. (Oy VE!) That’s quite a community right there, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I started getting around the blogsphere, because I’d finally sold my first book. I believe it was SBs’ cover snark Mondays that got me going, on a link I followed from a loop. Next thing I know, I’m trolling review places and wondering what would happen when MY book was up for consumption.

    I remember at the time, I was told, “Whatever you do, don’t look if Karen Scott reads your book…” Which, of course, intrigued me. And here I came. I believe that was right around the infamous Daisy Dexter Dobbs review for “What A Dame!” (I think, I can’t look back and find it, lol) Either way, I honestly couldn’t believe people were allowed to blog like this–omg, did she call someone a “fucktard”??? (Became my favorite word for like a month.) I got hooked. And then I figured, you know, if she’s going to read it–and possibly hate it–I want to take it with my boots on. So I emailed you the book and stuffed my face into a container of ice cream to wait.

    But you didn’t hate it. In fact, you rather liked it. And, as a result, you’ve been stuck with me for three years.

    *scratches head* I really ought to send you an apology card, lol. I’m a pain in the ass.

    You, on the other hand, have been a source of laughter and world knowledge and news and with AztecLady, a fount of book recs. I mean geez, you’ve even got me interested in Soccer at times and with my family history, that’s epic. Now if I could just figure out those Levitra couches…


  • che
    May 11
    3:55 pm

    I started out reading romances in the mid-seventies, back when historicals and categories were pretty much the only romances I could find. After ten years, I got burnt out on them and took a 15+ year hiatus. (yeah, I’m that old)

    One day in 2001, I was bored and decided to read my bf’s collection of Harlequin Intrigues, which he subscribed to just for the free crappy gifts, LOL, but you could tell they’d never been cracked open.

    Anyhow, I got hooked on romances again and went online to find review sites for other books I could read, and found AAR, Mrs. Giggles, and Smart Bitches. Several months later, AAR’s at the back fence section had an authors behaving badly post. Didn’t name names or provide links, as I recall, but with a bit of sleuthing, I found it on your blog- it was MJD, btw.

    Don’t remember how I found DA, but most likely it was through links from one of the romance sites.


  • Karen Scott
    May 11
    5:03 pm

    Oh my God Amanda, long time no ‘see’! I daren’t look on my Reader list because there are so many people from that list who don’t blog anymore, and it makes me feel sad sometimes. I’m so pleased that Maili is around again though.

    Che, I think MJD was my very first author behaving badly, and now when I look back, her comments seem so tame in comparison to some of the fucktards we’ve had the honour of knowing. I think her and Elizabeth Bevarly were at the top of my ABB list for ages until the Attack of the E-Book Publishers.

    To this day though, I still can’t read Liz Bevarly. I still feel annoyed by her then, holier-than-thou attitude. She may have since seen the light, but she still has the power to irritate me.

    Dee, it amuses me greatly that I managed to cultivate a reputation as a mean girl from my few-and-far-between slice & dice reviews. Isn’t it funny how mileages vary, because I’d often review my not-so-nice reviews to make sure they weren’t over the top (Yes, I really did) and I’d still have people throwing fits. Admittedly the Carol Lynne review was written whilst I was feeling extremely pissed off, but even then I thought it was Ok. Well the rest as you know is history. *g*


  • Maya
    May 11
    5:47 pm

    Hmm it was either 2001 or 2002? Avon message board. I was gobsmacked that I could “speak” directly to Elizabeth Lowell. I was definitely involved as a reader first and foremost. (Still am for the most part)

    Heck I still remember when Amazon first came onto the scene and I was beyond thrilled that they would email you when an author had a new release because not many authors had websites and the only way I knew when a fave author had a new book out was if I went to the bookstore and found it.

    I’ve become so impatient now (and spoiled) because I get pissed when an author doesn’t have a website, doesn’t update it and doesn’t have information about upcoming releases (blurb, excerpt, release info)

    For the most part, the romance community fascinates me because of the diversity and sameness of opinions. I do lament that it’s harder to find people willing to dish books now that I’m a published author. You have to be careful because anything remotely negative coming from an author is received way too personally.


  • I first discovered the online romance community through Julia Quinn’s author website in 2000/2001. She linked to the Avon Authors site and I hung out there for a while. Initially, I thought ‘meeting’ authors was cool, but I soon became disillusioned by all the sycophantic shite. Another poster mentioned AAR, and I started going there regularly.

    The first blog I ever read was Mrs Giggles. I also liked the now-defunct Book Bitches. I stumbled upon the Smart Bitches fairly early into their blogging time. I’m pretty sure they’d only been up and running for a few weeks when I first went there. I discovered Dear Author through SBTB, and Karen’s blog through DA. I was fairly late finding KristieJ. I’d seen her post at AAR for years but I hadn’t realised she was a blogger until Laurie Gold mentioned it.

    More recent blog finds are Avid Book Reader, Book Binge, Book Smugglers, Katiebabs, RRRJessica and Jill Shalvis.

    I started blogging myself just over a month ago, and so far it’s been a blast. I’d toyed with the idea for a couple of years before actually getting the courage put the plan into action.

    My favourite aspect to Romanceland is finally feeling I’m among kindred spirits. I hid my romance habit for years because of derisive comments and/or incredulity that an educated soul like me reads ‘trash’. Now I just don’t care. I figure the literary snobs are missing out on some great books.


  • vein
    May 11
    9:23 pm

    I don’t think there is “a” romance “community”. It is an interest, not an association.


  • Karen- You’re one of my few ‘automatic’ must reads, I just don’t comment very often. I’m sooo glad Maili’s back. I missed her while she was gone.

    As to ‘author’s gone wild’, lol, my list of authors I can’t read because of idiotic online antics grows by one or two every year.



  • @Vein: By community, I meant a group of people with a common interest. I’ve heard this term before, also in the online gaming community. I think of an association as having a more formal structure.

    But whether it’s called Romanceland or a community, I like it!


  • Wow, Karen, our romanceland stories are pretty similar in that we both found our way here via yahoo groups. I had a friend who got epubbed and in looking for ebook recs on the Net–which I somehow managed in a weird backhanded way–I discovered Dakota Cassidy and joined her Yahoo list. (I still adore her for getting me hooked into this community, and will put up with reading the dreaded romantic comedies because of her.) I think I had stumbled upon Mrs. Giggles around the same time, and was in awe of her review style. As for blogs, I’m pretty sure I got introduced to them by Jaynie as well. (I miss her, too.) I know that’s how I found you and DA and SB, at any rate.

    I met Sybil on another yahoo loop and she asked me to review for her, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    I like that Romancelandia is truly welcoming. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered online are romance readers.

    What I don’t like? Some of the snits people get into seem pointless. Like, the public is never going to stop disparaging romances, so I can’t really care every time some stupid schmuck in the media calls them bodice rippers.


  • vein
    May 12
    5:19 pm

    A community still suggests a group in a high degree of mutual contact, it is then further assumed that they all meet in one or a few places. I don’t feel either of these is true. What we have is a collection of online cliques, some completely isolated from each other. For example most of the people on the Amazon romance forums probably haven’t heard of any of these blogs.


  • A community still suggests a group in a high degree of mutual contact,

    I don’t thinik it suggests any such thing. Where I live, we consider ourselves a community, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I invited my neighbours over for a drink.

    I think the definition of Romanceland as a community is much looser than the dictionary definition. You can have cliques and still be a community I think, because every now and then, individuals within those so-called cliques will leave the safety of their groups and venture outside.

    That’s how many of us got here.


  • vein
    May 12
    9:34 pm

    I guess I just see it differently. To me this talk of the romance community seems to suggest that those who haven’t the faintest idea what these blogs are somehow aren’t part of ‘the community’. There is an impict theme that we are at the heart of something when I suspect were are more like a pimple on its pinky.


  • It all started for me because X-Files ended. LOL a fandom friend rec’ed and rec’ed Shadowheart until I gave in and read it. I ended up at AAR lurking about and some link lead me to maili.

    I drove my LJ friends crazy for a bit before I jumped in and made a blog which I had NO idea what I was doing. Oddly I never thought you were all that bad ::shrug::


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