What is the meaning of "romance"? One of life's great questions, indeed. Searching out the definition of romance may lead us past a style of 16th century song, a group of beautiful languages, a measurement of human passion and a literary genre. It also promises an escape from the cold and the dullness of daily life.
Romance literature and the realm of fantasy may be the most accessible (and prudent) path away from the mundane, for both the reader and the writer. Its popularity is enormous, and the care and enthusiasm that romance writers bring to their work is apparent in works that go beyond the heavy-breathing, gaze-penetrating (and, yes, bodice-ripping) that has characterized the genre. If you go to a conference of the Southern Tier Authors of Romance (STAR) you meet people who are realistic about fantasy and hard-headed about romance.
OFF THE PAGE visits the 5th annual conference of STAR -- a chapter of the organization Romance Writers of America -- held in Owego on September 12th. In addition to the chance to break away from their word processors for a while and hobnob with other writers, the agenda for the day-long event includes panels on science fiction, how to appeal to young adult readers and writing for movies and television. There was also a session during which the first page of works-in-progress were read (they say those are the lines that have to snag the reader). Among the invitees was Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press, who was at the STAR conference inviting writers to pitch their latest stories for possible publication.
Following a report from the STAR Conference, OFF THE PAGE welcomes live three writers of romance, fantasy and science fiction to respond to questions and comments from listeners who are fans of imaginative fiction. Joining WSKG's Bill Jaker will be:
Doreen Alsen of Lansing, president of Southern Tier Authors of Romance, whose debut novel is "Mike's Best Bet". She is also conductor of the Finger Lakes Women's Chorale.
Joshua Palmatier, science fiction and fantasy writer from Binghamton, whose new "Throne of Amenkor" series begins with "The Well of Sorrows". He also holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and teaches math at SUNY-Oneonta.
Jennifer Bokal from Endwell, NY, secretary of STAR and author of the novels "Celtic Heart" and "The King of Avalon".