It was a sultry, SULTRY, and sweet day. Thank you, everyone, for coming out and celebrating our amazing local heartbreakers and heartmenders. I want to wrap you all up in the warmest embrace of gratitude imaginable—and as you know, I have a rather intense imagination.
Ready? Jane’s imaginary, sultry cyber-hug of gratitude… and… GO!
Aaaah. Was it good for you? So good for me. 😉
I have a hundred thank-yous, and gratitude is important, so I don’t ask you to bear with me—I ask you to read every line with attention and focus, and at the end of each one, I want you to smile and say, “Fuck, people are good.”
(You don’t have to swear. You can say, “Gosh darn it, people are good.” Or, “Wow, people are good.” Me, as you know, I like to use harsh words to express the most delicious of sentiments. But enough about that.)
First time on mjanecolette & don’t know what I’m talking about?
We had this INCREDIBLE festival on June 24:
SULTRY & sweet SUMMER reads YYC
My hero of the day is my Dad, who I “hired” (I paid him with love) for the soft job of liaising with Eau Claire security and just keeping an eye on things and the Naked Girls in particular and generally making sure we were a safe space for all involved… but who ended up doing all the hard physical labour required from 9:30 am til 5:30 pm, as well as being Grandpa-on-call, locating my lost little and feeding him lunch because I forgot children have to eat even when Mommy’s running high on adrenalin.
He also mopped up the cherry pie and whipped cream explosion, without batting an eye, and assured me that if the police came, he’d make sure the kids got home safe and everything got taken down, and he’d arrange for bail later.
A feminist literary pornographer could not ask for a better patriarch—I love you, Daddy, thank you.
My Mom worked a night shift at the ER until 8 am, slept for three hours, and showed up at Sultry Summer before noon to work my table and do whatever needed to be done. She also brought me a dress, in case my Facebook “I have nothing to wear because I didn’t do laundry!” whining was literal and I was going to show up to the event naked. She didn’t get to have much fun because she had to guard the cherry bikini (about which more anon) and my books and all the money while I ran around like a crazy person, and then, when my little collapsed from exhaustion at 3 pm, she took him home and so missed the grand finale—because, grandchildren first.
Mom, I learned how to throw a good party, how to build community, and how to do EVERYTHING I needed to do with small children in tow from you. I love you—thank you.
My partner in life and crime Sean had his own conference to organize and supervise the week before Sultry Summer, and he spent his first weekend off in weeks, first, keeping the kids alive while I panicked and made protest signs (that was Saturday) and then, being my second brain throughout Sunday—my pointman on ferrying authors to the podcast, keeping our schedule on track, delivering $ to our performers—oh, and the surprise job of disassembling, moving, reassembling, moving, disassembling, moving, and reassembling yet again the stage.
Also, he had to live with me for the four months that I was planning the event, during which time, he designed my fabulous new banner and responded to all my explosions of panic and self-doubt with, “It’s a great idea. You have to do it. It’ll be fine. Have some chocolate.”
My baby, I love you so much and I can’t express sufficiently how grateful I am for the support you give me every time I decide to jump out of an airplane without a parachute.
My aman cara Paola, who has been solo parenting for the last weeks and whom I’ve been unable to support at all in this because of my own workload, was my third self throughout the event, giving love and welcome to authors and guests where I couldn’t, and always asking, “What do you need? What can I do?” She chauffeured half my work crew there and back, did midnight and first thing in the morning printing for me, cut papers, delivered and picked up books, read my mind, and gave me “calm down” cuddles. I understand she also bought a dozen books from a dozen authors, because, well, the people I love tend to love books. Thank you, my love—te quiero—eres mi lugar seguro, mi medicina.
Everyone needs friends one can NOT see or text for six months, and then call and say, “So, I’m doing this thing… can you come help me and, can I borrow your child’s labour too?” My friend Valerie is such a friend. Breastfeeding six children between us over the course of a decade+ in probably every public place in Calgary at a time when it just wasn’t the done thing creates a unique sort of bond. Thank you, Valerie. You step in, show up, and do whatever needs to be done, and I never have to worry about anything when you’re around. I’m so grateful.
Dozens of my friends took time on this sunniest of gorgeous Sundays to swing by and browse and support and love—and I thank you all so much for that. 🙂
My daughter and six of her closest friends—most of these girls have known each other since they were in diapers and they still love each other as teenagers, how awesome is that?—spent the hot afternoon solving my “there is no place to put posters and stuff around Eau Claire and the bike paths—how are we going to tell people what’s going on?” problem. Two teams walked near the mall’s main doors with picket signs, and one team rode my giant cargo bike up and down the Eau Claire riverside bike paths spreading the word.
During the hottest part of the day, btw.
They were the heroines of the day, and my girl the glue that held them together. My daughter, my heart, “I love you” isn’t adequate to express what I feel for you.
You don’t assemble a small army of teenage girls none of whom can drive yet without creating work for their parents, so huge appreciation to Crystal, Jesse, Bill, Dorrie, Jodi, Susanna, Carl, Sanna, Ross and Valerie—and, again, Paola—for making it all possible.
My eldest son and one of his bfs came to help my dad be security and ended up, first, roaming Eau Claire and Prince’s Island as “book fairies,” using swag and free books to lure people to the event, and then, as take-down muscle. (Teenager: “This wasn’t part of the deal.” Mother: “Sure as fuck wasn’t. I wasn’t planning to be taking down tables either. But it needs to be done.” #lifelesson). Dude, you’re 6’3 and you could toss me over your shoulders like a limp rag—I’m so grateful that when I ask you to do something that’s important to me, you show up and do it. I love you, not-so-little-guy—you are an amazing, amazing human.
My littlest guy, by the way, was the first on site with me at 9:30, helped unload the car, guarded boxes and technology while we figured out what was up, and only needed a search party once. He was amazeballs too, and felt only a little neglected.
YYC Queer Writers! Christopher, whom I hadn’t met in person until that day, showed up with two pounds of cherries, thus winning an eternal place in my heart, and then stayed to the bitter end as take-down muscle and did the work of six burly men. Christopher, THANK YOU.
Philip (aka P.J. Vernon, whose first novel When You Find Me is coming out October 9) and our mysterious T. worked the YQW table all the day—sold a bunch of our books which raise funds for Camp fYrefly—provided much needed comic relief—at one point an even more needed swig of alcohol—and just total support. You are beautiful people and I am so honoured you are part of my writing tribe. Thank you for your support.
You call it child labour, I call it a labour love love 😉
If I were to thank each of my writer tribe individually for their support of the event, this mega-essay would be a novel—so, kittens, accept my collective gratitude. Cyber-tribes are well and good, but you need your tribe to be physically present with you when you go into the breach, right ?
I am super-super grateful to all the amazing authors who took the plunge to be part of Calgary’s FIRST Romance Novel Celebration, all the local writerly folk who came to support us, the Calgary chapter of the Romance Writers of America and the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association for all their formal and informal support, the enthusiastic support of the BWL Publishing (who, among other things, brought CAKE!)—and especially to the authors who arrived early and were immediately pulled into the chaos of locating and setting up tables and chairs, dealing with the “there are no table skirts” issue and the “Jane can’t do math” issue. Your tables looked so fucking good! The New York BookCon doesn’t show better! You were all rockstars!
And you were totally amazing when the CBC cameras showed up. (I didn’t know they were coming by the way—we were all surprised.) I don’t even know who other than CaRWA president Win Day—who I volunteered as the first interview (“Hey, Win, wanna be on TV?”)—talked to them—I kept on seeing your backs in front of the camera out of the corner of my eye as I dealt with other stuff—thank you so much for stepping up!
(While we’re talking media—the festival had tremendous support from the CBC throughout, with our interview on the Homestretch and TV coverage on the day of. Calgary Arts Development Agency / Calgary Culture were absolutely amazing in terms of the social media push out. We got beautiful ink in the Daily Hive Calgary and all sorts of online blogs and event calendars—thank you so much, Calgary media.)
Two special participating author thank-you’s (but you are all marvellous–and Tet is going to have some sensational pics of you soon–just you wait 🙂 ): Rayanne Haines opened up our festival reciting her amazing poem “I Am Here To Use My Voice.” When people ask a writer why she writes—it’s often difficult to answer. When people ask a romance writer—often with a sneer—that’s even harder to answer. Rayanne’s poem is perhaps the most apt answer I have heard.
And a cherry-licious thank you to “mystery with a kiss of romance” author Mahrie G. Reid who made these for me:
Because, well, Cherry Pie Cure, obviously. Speaking of crocheting… did you see the cherry bikini that’s going to be all the rage this summer? No?
It is the creation of Jolanta Fashions (Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jolantafashions/; Website Orders—she will make it TO your size: http://www.jolantafashions.ca/) and OMG. I kind of don’t want to let any of you win it, because I want it for myself. Actually, I’ve already made arrangements for one for myself—and you can still enter to win this one, but I’ll save the details of how for another post, because I want to reserve this one for gratitude. Jola! You are so talented, and I am so grateful you had cherries on your mind and fit this project into your busy schedule!
My talented friend Tet Millare was the beautiful human behind the giant camera at the event, and I know they made all of us look extra good—that’s their special gift. Tet, I am so grateful to have you in my life and so proud to call you my friend. Thank you!
(We are going to have Tet’s gorgeous photos of the event in a few days. Stay tuned! Everything in this post is off various Smart Phones.)
Me with author S.L. Dickson–it was her first book fest!
If we were running a “who worked the hardest on June 24” contest—ok, fine, I’d win, hands down (I don’t do that fake modesty/humility thing, as you know)—but Just Joshing’s Joshua Pantalleresco was right up there too, and he definitely wins the who talked the most contest, interviewing and podcasting for four straight hours. He shifted on the spot from the planned livecast to a rapid release plan when the wifi connection arrangements failed, and did not complain at all that I put him in an ice cream freezer storage closet.
(Hey, it had a window and a table. More importantly, it had a DOOR.)
Also, he’s already blogged about his Sultry Summer experience–check it out here. (For record–I put him in a storage locker, not a murder room. There was a window. Murder rooms do not have a window!)
And now. Our Sultry Summer performers. Someone asked me how I managed to get someone like Danielle French to play at a teeny weeny free festival, and well—she used to be my neighbour and her brother still is, so I think that helped a bit, but also, she’s an amazing human as well as a talented musician, and I just asked, and she just said, “Of course.”
And then, she not only showed up for her set, but she provided and operated her sound system for the entire day. And, she brought the talented Rodney Brent to do his magic alongside her.
She gave my dad goose bumps, made my mom cry (in a good way), and played all my favourite songs, including THE one. Thank you, Danielle!
Mel Vee entered my life with a late submission to the third YYC Queer Writers anthology, Screw Chocolate 2, and made me break my rules and increase the page count of the book with her poem “Last”—which she was gracious enough to perform at Sultry Summer, along with other more challenging pieces. I am so grateful she came to share her talent in an unusual venue for a spoken word revolutionary and shook us out of the comfort zone into which romance novels can fall. (You think I was throwing another party—I’m recruiting for a revolution. Let’s be clear about this.)
Mel, I don’t know how to say this without making myself sound either ancient or patronizing—but I can’t wait to see what you will become. Because you are just beginning and what you’re giving the world now—it’s just an appetizer. Thank you for sharing it with us!
The Naked Girls Reading entered my life on December 6, 2016, when the producer of the NGR Calgary Chapter, Keely Kamikaze, stripped at the Tell Me Launch Party. I’m being just slightly figurative—she performed an ELECTRIC burlesque dance (in an electric blue dress, to begin with, anyway—it came off pretty quickly). And she mentioned NGR to me. And a few months later, I asked her to do a Naked reading of Tell Me at Ignite Festival’s Sleaze Night. And then, she asked me if I’d sponsor the Naked Girls Reading booth at the Taboo Show (get my smutty books in front of all those perverts? Fuck yeah!) (I mean perverts in the most loving and affectionate way. You know I do.) And then… well. When you find a collaborative partnership that works—you work it!
Naked Girls Reading taught me how to read my stuff in public without embarrassment (although there is still fear, each and every time I take the stage or jump out of an airplane—but I’m not sure that goes away ever). If they could do it naked–I could it in a skanky dress, right? Like romance authors, the Naked Girls Reading know you can’t spell literature without T&A (my favourite tag line of theirs). They celebrate all bodies, shapes, and sizes. They do critically important work in the consent and healthy sexuality area. And I am so grateful Katra Corbeau, JD, and Keely Kamikaze took the stage, robed to comply with the restrictions of the venue, to enchant you with their voices and the work of our local romance superstars.
I can’t imagine launching Calgary’s first Romance Festival without their participation.
Me, Mel Vee, and Keely Kamikaze
apparently in a very deep discussion
And, penultimately (it’s a word) (ok, it isn’t, but I’m going to use it anyway)… she’s a night on the town you’ll never forget, and isn’t she a matinee performance you are so lucky to have seen? Kittens, if you saw Manhattan Wilde’s finale at Sultry Summer, you know that the universe had conspired with all the muses to present me with the most fantabulous gift.
In March 2018, I dragged myself to a burlesque show way the fuck in the middle of nowhere (ok, it was just at the Wild Rose Brewery in Garrison Woods, but as you know, I never leave my corner of the flood plain, so it was FAR). I was starting to get the plague—I was exhausted and barely conscious but didn’t know why—I should have totally just stayed home in bed—but I felt compelled to go to this middle of nowhere (sorry Wild Rose and all my suburban friends—this is why I never see you) burlesque show. Why?
When a gorgeous redhead walked onto the stage wearing an apron covered with cherries and carrying a pie… I knew. And when she started dancing—well. There was no question that she was dancing JUST FOR ME. I corralled her after the show only to find out that she decided that night was the final performance of the routine. The costume was falling apart. The artist was getting bored. I told her about Sultry Summer and Cherry Pie Cure.
How could she refuse?
Well, she totally could have, but the point is: SHE DIDN’T and so on June 24, she changed in the ice cream storage locker (let me reiterate, it was a VERY NICE ice cream storage locker) while Just Joshing was interviewing Sasha White and Elizabeth Kelly (two hot hot hot erotic romance authors—appropriate, right?) and then, as Eric Carmen crooned “Hungry Eyes,” she did things on stage with a cherry pie that have probably never been done in Eau Claire or any mall in Calgary before.
I like to make history. Don’t you?
(She kept her bra and slip on and the police did not come—I think my dad was a little disappointed.)
For those of you who saw the performance—you understand. And thank you so much for coming.
For those of you who weren’t there—dammit, kittens, now you never will. The lesson here: When I invite you to shit—show up or you will mourn FOREVER.
Keely, me, and Manhattan, after she re-dressed and cleaned up 😉
My most important thank you.
I write because I love it, I write because I have to—but I also write to pay my rent and feed my family. It’s my job as well as my art. I know my talent is valuable and my work is worth paying for. So it kills me if I’m NOT able to pay other artists a fair wage. Sultry Summer was organized and budgeted on a shoe string, funded primarily through Sean and mine’s mostly imaginary money and supported financially by contributions from the participating authors (suggested donations of $25—thank you so much to those who pitched in a bit more).
All the performers, as well as my talented photographer, offered to support the event for imaginary money—because they believed in what I was doing. And this was sweet… but it fucking killed me. This isn’t right. Expecting artists to work for free or for exposure—the day Safeway lets me shop there and pay them with exposure, I’ll work for exposure, you know? Until then—no.
So—a generous, generous donation from my friend Ben Rogers made it possible for me to pay the participating Sultry Summer performers. Not their worth, but enough to be able to say—I value your talent and time. It’s worth paying for.
Ben, my dear friend, you know how hard it was for me to ask and to accept, even though you offered. THANK YOU. You made a huge difference in Calgary artists’ lives with your generosity.
#gratitude #karma #fuckpeoplearegood
Mark Saturday, February 2, 2019 on your calendars for Romance Revolution, and Sunday, June 23, 2019 for Sultry Summer 2.
Too long? Need to play with me before then? I’m in Denver July 17-22 for the Romance Writers of America National Conference—if you happen to be in Colorado then, let’s go dancing. For the Calgarians—I’m all over When Words Collide, August 10, 11, 12—you can’t get a pass anymore, because we are sold out, but I’ll be hanging out at the ARWA and CaRWA tables in the Merchants’ Room, which is open to the public, come say hi!
And in the fall, I’m teaching a couple of courses at the Alexandra Centre Writers’ Society:
- Writing Erotica: a filthy flirty workshop for the bold and the shy alike // Sat. October 13 // one day workshop
Whether you love to write dirty, wish you could (but you can’t, OMG, how do people even think such things!!), or wonder what the heck’s wrong with authors who do, this workshop will help you apply the tools and rules that make for good, effective “can’t stop turning the pages” erotica to all of your writing. The workshop Includes some Freefall-style writing exercises to seduce your inner muse, ruthless editing tips, and guidelines on how to beta-read and critique steamy sex scenes.
- More Than A Guilty Pleasure: Mastering the Romance Novel Form to Tell the Perfect Story // 8-week course starting Mon September 24, 7-9 pm
Learn to seduce a reader from the first sentence through to the heart-thumping, breath-taking, you-knew-it-was-coming-but-not-this-way! happy ending. Motivated students will be given the structure and support to complete a first draft of a romance novel by week 8; beginning students will learn how to play with tropes, tension, pacing, climaxes (dramatic and other), dialogue, and character development.
Oh. And in December 2018… Text Me, Cupid launches. And that party… kittens. Stay tuned.
Let’s exchange SECRETS TellMe @ mjanecolette.com