July 3rd, 2011 | 16 Comments »
Viva Las Vegas!

…[A]s the poet Geoffrey Chaucer observed many years ago, folk long to go on pilgrimages. Only, these days, professional people call them conferences. The modern conference resembles the pilgrimage of medieval Christendom in that it allows the participants to indulge themselves in all the pleasures and diversions of travel while appearing to be austerely bent on self-improvement. To be sure, there are certain penitential exercises to be performed—the presentation of a paper, perhaps, and certainly listening to the papers of others. But with this excuse you journey to new and interesting places, meet new and interesting people, and form new and interesting relationships with them; exchange gossip and confidences; eat, drink and make merry in their company every evening; and yet, at the end of it all, return home with an enhanced reputation for seriousness of mind.

This is from the introduction of David Lodge’s now-dated (1984) but still hilarious Small World, a send-up of academic literary conferences, those along the lines of the mammoth MLA (Modern Language Association) affairs. All sorts of professions have these conferences — English teachers and scholars of course, but also science fiction writers, and mystery writers, and romance writers, and now… drum roll… erotica writers!

Yes! It’s the inaugural conference for authors of erotica, organized by the Erotic Authors Association.

Date: September 9-10, 2011. That’s a Friday and a Saturday, and you’d want to be there for both full days.

Place: Las Vegas! Well, of course. That means not only an exciting venue, but cheaper hotel prices and the possibility of some cheap flight deals if you are savvy. (Folks with access to podunk airports should check out Allegiant Air, which flies in and out of Las Vegas from smaller towns, but whose flights do NOT show up on places like Orbitz and Expedia.) The conference will be held at the Flamingo Hotel. Even the name sounds fun. Fla-MIN-go!

Register: Soon! This month! Because it will cost more after August 1.

Price: $165 until August 1, and then $185 after August 1. Which if you’ve ever priced conferences is a pretty good deal.

The conference website is here. There are links to the workshops and panels and readings being offered.

Me? Of course I’m going! I’m a total conference junkie. You win a free business card (because I’ve never made bookmarks…) if you can guess what I’m presenting on before you check the list of workshop titles.

The conference is here, at this hotel!

For the low-down, I went to the conference organizer, Kathleen Bradean, to ask for a little more info.

Shar: Tell us a little about the Erotic Authors’ Association. Who are they, and what do they do?

Kathleen: Marilyn Jaye Lewis started the Erotic Author’s Association to help erotica authors support each other and promote their work. Several years ago, Erastes took over as director and infused life into it. I believe that she started the blog and Yahoo! list. But many writers of erotica still weren’t aware of it. Last September, Erastes had to step down for health reasons. It was perfect timing for me, which leads into the answer for the next question.

Shar: How did the idea for a conference come about?

Kathleen: Years ago, I joined a writer’s group here in Los Angeles and went to their first meeting excited about the idea of mingling with other writers. Then I told them what I wrote. Instant pariah. Writers conventions were the same way. If I wanted to talk to people, I couldn’t be honest about what I wrote. I also write science fiction and served as a panelist at a small science fiction convention where one of the writers said, “I wanted to be published so bad that I even considered sinking to erotica, but thankfully, I wasn’t that desperate.” Wow. Back then, agents wouldn’t touch erotica (unless you called it literary fiction and were a man and your sex scenes were horribly awkward). So I started thinking about an erotica writers conference where we would be taken seriously as writers and could talk about the unique aspects of our work in an open, supportive environment. I talked to people who ran conferences. I talked to erotica writers and publishers to find out what they wanted from a conference. I thought it over for many years.

Finally, erotica and erotica romance took off in book sales. Writers didn’t hide as much. Publishers were more open to the idea of erotica. The time was ripe. I talked this over with D.L. King, who runs the Erotica Revealed review site. She was right there with me on the idea. We talked seriously about what we wanted to do, where it should be, every aspect, and decided to jump in and just do it. While were in Las Vegas to check out the hotels for the convention, Erastes mentioned that she had to step down from EAA. This was fate, I decided. EAA was an organization that already existed, and it would be a great name to hold the convention under. Then I reached out to a group of writers I’ve known through the years — James Buchanan, Jolie du Pre, Beth Wylde, and D.L. King — and asked for their help. And did they ever step up! What a fantastic group of people! They represent the full range of erotica writing with special insights to different aspects. Their input shaped my initial vision and made it better.

Shar: What can attendees — specifically, new authors, experienced authors, editors & publishers, and fans — expect to get out of the conference?

Kathleen: Quite a bit!

• New and/or unpublished authors: What new writers need more than anything is a community. That’s your source of support and information, your beta readers and the people you can turn to with questions. ERWA (The Erotica readers and writers association) and Literotica are two great online communities, but nothing beats talking to another writer in person. This is a great chance to start building relationships with other new writers and more experienced ones.

We have terrific editors and publisher’s panels on the schedule with an amazing line-up that includes GBLT, literary erotica, erotic romance, kink, non-fiction, and just about every aspect of erotica we could find someone to represent. For unpublished writers, this is unprecedented access to the people who are looking for erotica to publish.

• Experienced authors: One of the problems with many writer’s conferences is that their classes have basic information for the beginner, but not much that goes deeper. That’s why I’m so excited about our synopsis writing class, the kink class, and some of the other advanced topics. And we managed to get some terrific people to teach them! (D.L. King is the program director, and she did a fantastic job convincing the presenters to come.) These classes are as much about the craft of writing and the business side as they are the unique aspects of erotica.

• Editors and publishers: With so many erotica writers gathered together, this is a great time to listen to pitches, tell writers what you’re looking for, describe your dream submission, and connect with the community. Many editors and publishers also write, so I’m sure they’ll enjoy the classes too.

• Readers and fans: Many publishers have dedicated reading times, so fans can drop in to hear their favorites read from recent work. Most writers are also fans (myself included) so this is a chance to tell writers in person how much I admire their work. The panels will be open to questions, but don’t be afraid to bring your favorite book and ask a writer to sign it!

Shar: Is there anything else about the conference that you’d like to highlight?

Kathleen: Erotica is only going to grow in popularity. People are reading it and realizing there’s a wide array of writers producing quality work. With this conference, the community can come together and celebrate what we do so well. I hope to see you there.

So come on, people! Let’s gather in Vegas, for reading, writing, and schmoozing!

Another view of the Fla-MIN-go!

All photos courtesy of author Katie Salidas, Las Vegas native, who will be at the conference with her books, and is a terrific source of information on self-publishing and promoting. Preview her work here.

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