romance writers of canada university

#WeTheNorth: Canadian Romance Authors You Need to Know

romance writers of canada university

As I write this, the Toronto Raptors have just won game 4 of the NBA Finals. It’s fair to say, the phrase “We the North” has been on the lips of many a Canadian for a while now. It’s been easy to feel extra patriotic lately. I know I haven’t been the only one cheering on the Raptors. People from all over the world have been doing the same, and it’s been really nice to show the world what Canada has to offer.

Canada has a lot to offer the world of romance as well. In fact, I’d be willing to bet some of your favourite (yep – we spell it with a “u” in Canada) romance authors are Canadian, and you might not even know it. It’s sort of like that gif that always makes me giggle: “The Canadians. They walk among us.”

When I started writing this article, I wanted to tell you about romance novels that have a Canadian feel to them. What do people think of when they think of Canada? Well, some may think of maple syrup, poutine and Celine Dion. Some people will mention how polite we are, that we can be self-deprecating and modest (okay, maybe not in Jurassic Park or Oracle Arena, but that’s all good.) Some will say we’re a tough, hardy people. Have you heard about our winters?  

But the fact is we’re so much more than that. It’s impossible to incapsulate what my country represents in a few short paragraphs, and there isn’t just one story that speaks to our collective experience. That’s what makes Canada so great. It’s comprised of many stories, and guess where you’ll find them. The romance genre.

Of course, that’s just my humble Canadian opinion.

Today, I hope to introduce you to some Canadian romance authors who are new to you, ones whose works will introduce you to a particular corner of Canada and the Canadian experience. By no means is this a complete list of Canuck authors. Quite frankly, if you scan the bestseller list on any given day, you’ll find some well-known Canadian names. But here, I’d like to share some that I think more of us need to know. My hope is that in reading these books, you’ll find some new faves, and also get a flavour for the wonderful country in which they are set.

The Chai Factor by Farah Heron

The Chai Factor by Farah Heron

Farah Heron’s The Chai Factor is an anticipated read this year. Set in Toronto, and featuring a dishy hero from the small town of Omemee, Ontario, it is certainly one of my favourite new books. Not only is it a sweet romance, it tackles the topic of racism with insight and heart.

Arctic Burn by Amy Ruttan

Phoenix Agency series by Amy Ruttan

Author Amy Ruttan has written some wonderful medical romances for Harlequin and her Phoenix Agency series is set in the Northwest Territories. Telekinetics and bush pilots in Yellowknife…yes, please!

blessed by maggie blackbird

Blessed by Maggie Blackbird

Maggie Blackbird writes contemporary and historical romance about Canada’s Indigenous People. I recently became aware of Maggie’s books and they are at the top of my to-be-read list.

carnal control by lilith darville

Carnal Control by Lilith Darville

Lilith Darville writes erotic romance that will leave a tingle in your fingertips as you flip the pages. Her sexy books have had a place on my Kindle for some time, and I hope they’ll find a home on yours.

up all night by j margot critch

Up All Night by J. Margot Critch

We don’t get to hear about too many romances set in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Luckily, we have J. Margot Critch to address this for us. Her romantic suspense series is set there, and looks like a lot of fun.

Masked Desire by Alana Delacroix

Masked Arcana series by Alana Delacroix

I’m a big fan of Alana Delacroix’s Masked Arcana paranormal series. Peopled by fey and vampires and unique shifters, it’ll grab you and it won’t let go.

As I mentioned, this is just a small sampling of what Canadian romances have to offer. There’s no way I could ever include them all, and I’ve tried to mention authors I haven’t included in my previous articles for Frolic. If you are interested in reading more Canadian romance, check out one of my recent Twitter threads. I put the call out to Romancelandia, and as always, Romancelandia responded with many recs. You’ll find numerous authors and books here:

Canada is a vibrant country, and I am so proud to live here. In fact, I’ve given some of my own romances Canadian settings. So check us out! And way to go, Raptors!

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About The Author

Rosanna Leo

Rosanna Leo

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The 25 Best Romance Authors (And Their Most Swoonworthy Reads)

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Blog – Posted on Tuesday, Mar 19

The 25 best romance authors (and their most swoonworthy reads).

The 25 Best Romance Authors (And Their Most Swoonworthy Reads)

Romance is one of the most popular genres in literature today, both for readers and writers of romance novels . And it’s no wonder why: romance is exciting, sexy, and compulsively readable. Luckily, there are tons more books coming out all the time! So to help you get a handle on the genre, we’ve compiled this guide to the 25 best romance authors, along with the love stories they’ve written that are sure to make you swoon. 😍 (By the way, the list is in alphabetical order, so if you’re searching for your own favorite author, you’ll know exactly where to look.)

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great romance authors out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized romance book recommendation  😉

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Carolyn Brown

Brown has been writing romance for twenty years now — her debut novel Love Is came out in 1999. Since then, she’s produced a great deal of both contemporary and historical romance. However, Brown’s real niche is cowboy romance: stories that are typically set in the southern United States and feature a tall, dark, troubled rancher. Meanwhile, the strong-minded heroine isn’t looking for love — she’s too focused on her child, and/or trying to shake the memories of a good-for-nothing ex — but damn if she doesn’t find it under the boiling hot Texas (or Tennessee or Oklahoma) sun after all.

Must-read: Long, Hot Texas Summer

When Loretta Bailey caught her husband Jackson kissing another woman, she turned her back on Lonesome Canyon Ranch forever. That was seventeen years ago… and now Loretta and Jackson’s daughter wants to drop out of college to marry a rancher. Naturally, Loretta is dead-set against the idea. But in order to combat it, she’ll have to return to the ranch and work together with Jackson, who’s just as wily (and devilishly handsome) as ever.

Catherine Bybee

Bybee is the queen of Amazon’s contemporary romance charts, with her bestselling Weekday Brides and Not Quite series (and their spinoffs). She also dabbles in historical and paranormal romance , and is especially skilled at synthesizing her own traumatic experiences into her work: not only is she a survivor of child abuse, she also endured a terrible accident when she was working as an ER nurse. Bybee began to write during her recovery, remembering the solace that romance books and love stories brought her when she was young — and eventually turned out some of best titles on the market today.

Must-read: Wife by Wednesday ( Weekday Brides #1)

Wife By Wednesday introduces us to Samantha Elliot, the head of a matchmaking firm consulted by millionaire Blake Harrison… who’s intent on having Sam pose as his wife. And though Sam never meant to matchmake herself , how can she resist his $10 million offer? But while their deal is supposed to be all appearances, Sam finds herself confusingly attracted to Blake, which spells double trouble when his ex gets involved.

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Since 1980, Carr has made quite a name for herself in romance — particularly with her Virgin River series, which follows various love affairs unfolding at a forest outpost in California. From the gruff marine who gets in touch with his softer side to the burned-out sous chef who has to contend with a pretty steamy dish (if you know what we mean), Virgin River supplies a stream of near-endless romantic possibilities. Not to mention it’s slated for a Netflix series starring Alexandra Breckenridge !

Must-read: Virgin River ( Virgin River #1)

After unexpectedly becoming a widower in her thirties, nurse practitioner Melinda Monroe jumps at the chance to move to woodsy, secluded Virgin River, only to realize it’s not what she expected. Between her shabby accommodations and the local doctor’s icy attitude, Mel’s just about ready to pick up and leave — until she meets a retired marine who convinces her to stay.

Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole is a uniquely impressive contributor to the historical romance subgenre. She specializes in American Revolution and Civil War-era stories, and has done wonders for diversity in romance: many of her characters are women of color, and much of the drama in her narratives stems from the challenges of interracial love and marriage in the past.

Must-read: An Extraordinary Union

This award-winning novel takes place during the Civil War and follows Elle Burns, a former slave who goes undercover to spy for the Union. She soon meets Malcolm McCall, a Pinkerton detective who shares her motives to bring down the Confederacy… but their political inclinations aren’t the only mutual feeling between them. When things start to become truly dangerous, Elle and Malcolm must decide what’s most important: their country or their love.

Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, known for her Brown Family and Chase Brothers series. Dane began writing in 2005 and has since turned out over 60 books. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Besides being one of the most prolific authors on this list, she’s also one of the most risqué — so if you like your romance on the steamier side, consider adding her to your list.

Must-read: Laid Bare ( Brown Family #1)

Seriously, hold onto your hats because this one is shamelessly immodest. Laid Bare begins with police officer Todd Keenan and rock musician Erin Brown, whose old flame is rekindled when they meet again in Seattle… but which threatens to burn them up after a ménage à trois with one of Todd’s best friends. There’s no telling where this relationship of sorts will lead, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to be one wild hell of a ride.

Tessa Dare is another NYT bestseller, but in a very different category: classic “bodice rippers” that focus more on smoldering sexual tension itself than the resolution of said tension. Indeed, Dare’s titles clearly indicate her propensity for Regency romance — from Romancing the Duke to Say Yes to the Marquess , her books are the perfect form of escapism into another time and place.

Must-read: Do You Want to Start a Scandal ( Castles Ever After #4)

This one is part history, part mystery, part love story! At the Parkhurst ball, young Charlotte Highwood is implicated in a scandal that makes it look as though she’s involved with Piers Brandon, Lord Granville — and now she’ll have to marry him if she can’t prove her innocence. Which would be inconvenient indeed, since she doesn’t even like the guy. But as the two of them set out to uncover the true scandal-makers, Piers proves himself a surprisingly useful accomplice. Soon Charlotte’s growing attraction to him makes her wonder if she even wants to complete their mission…

Madison Faye

For a quick rebound to the erotic, Madison Faye’s books are even more salacious than Lauren Dane’s. If you were a fan of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Quartet , you’ll love Faye’s similarly sexy fairytales: a series of five works fittingly titled Possessing Beauty . Or if fairytale retellings aren’t your thing, you can always turn to Dirty Bad Things or Her Daddies (again, you read that correctly), two other mega-popular works by Faye. Hailed as “quick and filthy,” these white-hot erotic romances will just about melt your Kindle clean away.

Must-read: Beasting Beauty ( Possessing Beauty #1)

Logan is the callous, cursed Prince of Torsund. Isla is the sweet youngest princess of Avlion. When they meet at a ball held by her father, sparks fly — and clothing flies off. Logan certainly is a beast in the bedroom, but that doesn’t mean Isla can’t find a way to tame him. Sweet, sexy, and savage all at once, this just-under-100-page novella is the perfect remedy to spice up a regular night in.

Pippa Grant

Pippa Grant is another reigning ruler of the Amazon charts whose specialty is, for lack of a better term, total jerks. The heroes in her stories are anything but heroic: we’re talking possessive exes, egocentric hockey players, and horrible bosses. Or at least they start off that way. With the help of their leading ladies — who are sometimes sweet, sometimes saucy, but always totally irresistible to the main guy — they turn over a new leaf and become much better humans . How’s that for an HEA? (Romance slang for “happily ever after.”)

Must-read: The Pilot and the Puck-Up

NHL player Zeus Berger is as cocky as his Greek god namesake, and he’s never failed to satisfy a woman… until he meets Joey Diamonte, former military special ops pilot and self-made businesswoman, who matches him in confidence and thoroughly surpasses him in smoothness. Unfortunately, their first encounter doesn’t quite go as Zeus planned. Now determined to prove to Joey that he’s more than one-night-stand material, Zeus will try anything to show her what he’s made of (besides muscle, that is).

Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath is an absolute staple of the romance genre. Since 2001, she’s turned out over a dozen different series in every subgenre from historical to paranormal. However, despite their quantity, her works never sacrifice quality — Heath has been especially praised for the genuine emotional depth and strong characterization in her writing. So if you’re looking for story-based drama rather than its cousin smut, you can’t go wrong with Heath's love stories.

Must-read: In Bed with the Devil ( Scoundrels of St, James #1)

Lucian Langdon, aka Luke, is scorned in London as the “devil earl” for his atrocious reputation. Lady Catherine Mabry needs help so desperately that she’s willing to strike a deal with him. Thus begins their relationship as co-conspirators… which of course, soon turns into something more. The delicious slow burn between the scoundrel and the lady also includes a pretty meaty social plot, peppered with plenty of tongue-in-cheek Dickens references .

Beverly Jenkins

Jenkins is a true trailblazer of diverse romance — she’s been writing since the nineties, and her books almost always feature African-American main couples, often set in times when that experience was overlooked. However, Jenkins makes a point of not writing exclusively about slavery. In order to represent a genuinely wide range of black history, most of her books take place between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement.

Must-read: Bring on the Blessings ( Blessings #1)

Though Jenkins is known for (and very talented at spinning!) her historical romances, this contemporary work is a great intro for first-time readers. In Bring on the Blessings , 52-year-old Bernadine Brown takes her wealthy, adulterous husband to court — and wins. A $275 million settlement, to be exact.

Adamant to “pay forward” her good fortune, Bernadine decides that her next project of choice won’t just be one man, but an entire town: Henry Adams, Kansas, which was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. After purchasing Henry Adams on the Internet, Bernadine must work together with its stubborn mayor Trent July to bring the town back to its former glory… and perhaps find some glory in each other as well.

Lisa Kleypas

When it comes to historical romance, no one quite compares to Kleypas: she started writing in 1985, when she was only 21 years old, and hasn’t looked back since. Beginning with a few quick duologies, Kleypas eventually escalated to elaborate multi-book series, her most famous being The Wallflowers and The Hathaways . These books follow the members of various families in mid-19th century London as they attempt to find love in one way or another. Each story is also wrapped in a well-woven tapestry of historical context; indeed, one of Kleypas’ greatest strengths is her intimate knowledge of the era.

Must-read: Mine Till Midnight ( The Hathaways #1)

Amelia Hathaway has an awful lot on her plate. She’s figuring out her place in aristocratic society (which she’s just joined after a surprise inheritance), taming her wild younger siblings, and most recently dealing with her feelings for upper-class bad boy Cam Rohan. Cam, like Amelia, comes from not-so-noble stock — unlike her, however, he longs to return to it. This plan is complicated by only one thing: his desire for Amelia. And when she asks him for help in a sticky situation, he can’t say no to her…

Lauren Landish

Landish specializes in “sexy-as-hell book boyfriends,” as she says on her Goodreads page — one look at her rippling-muscle covers and you know you’re in for a good time. Her works can get pretty explicit, but she’s also got plenty of fun romantic devices to keep readers happy: meet-cutes, fake relationships, and reunited high school sweethearts abound, especially in the stunningly sexy Irresistible Bachelors series.

Must-read: Mr. Fixit ( Irresistible Bachelors #5)

Expert handyman Caleb Strong ( get it? because he’s strong? ) and Cassie White have been friends for over a year now, ever since they met in Hawaii. So when Cassie needs help renovating her childhood home, it’s only natural that she turn to Caleb. But actually having to watch him work proves a challenge in the self-control department… especially when she starts fantasizing about him working on something else. In other words, this book is pretty much the written equivalent of that Fifth Harmony song — if you liked that video, you’ll love Mr. Fixit .

Adriana Locke

On the other hand, if you prefer flawed, vulnerable heroes to totally confident ones, Adriana Locke might be more your speed. Locke has been in the romance business for just a few years, but she’s already turned out numerous series full of bad-boys-with-serious-damage (though of course, none of that stops them from eventually finding love).

Must-read: Crank ( Laundry Family #7, Gibson Boys #1)

Sienna Landry gets off to a bit of a rocky start with small-town mechanic Walker Gibson — namely, she busts up the front of his truck. For a guy like Walker, there’s nothing worse… except maybe the attraction he feels to this girl who’s just destroyed his most prized possession. Conflicted over Sienna in more ways than one, Walker still can’t seem to avoid her, and the shimmering tension between them mounts until it’s practically leaping off the page. But there’s something he’s not telling her — not least because he doesn’t want to think about it himself.

Julianne MacLean

Julianne MacLean (not to be confused with the next entry on our list) writes primarily historical romance, though she’s also branched out into contemporary on occasion. She’s best known for her American Heiress and Pembroke Palace series, which are sure to please fans of Downton Abbey and other early 20th century tales. Or if you’re a fan of Outlander , check out her excellent Highlander trilogy: a slow, sexy burn that includes Captured by the Highlander, Claimed by the Highlander, and Seduced by the Highlander .

Must-read: The Color of Heaven ( Color of Heaven #1)

Like Jenkins’ Bring on the Blessings , MacLean’s Color of Heaven series doesn’t exactly represent her larger body of work. However, it’s a good entry point for new readers — if also quite an emotional one. The Color of Heaven follows Sophie Duncan, a woman whose life goes off the rails when her daughter is diagnosed with leukemia and her husband cheats on her. But after a terrible accident, Sophie’s eyes open to everything she does still have, and she embarks on a newly buoyant journey of life, love, and revelation.

Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean has also found her niche in historical romance, but of a more traditional sort: she tends to stick to the Regency/Victorian periods, and she’s absolutely mastered the niche. As the author of over a dozen high-profile historical romances, and winner of several awards given by the Romance Writers of America, she’s one of the leading voices in the romance genre. Along with Lisa Kleypas (and Julia Quinn and Nora Roberts, both of whom we’ll get to soon), Sarah MacLean is essentially a founding mother of the historical subgenre as we know it today.

Must-read: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake ( Love by the Numbers #1)

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is sick and tired of her title, especially since she’s never been able to live up to it. She’s more than ready to break the rules of ladyhood… but she can’t do it alone. And who better to recruit as her “accomplice” (the Regency equivalent of friends-with-benefits) than Gabriel St. John, a marquess and fellow eschewer of society? Of course, as Callie and Gabe grow closer, she realizes that she might not be such a nontraditional girl after all. The only question now is: can she tell him?

Courtney Milan

Milan is another prominent writer of WOC characters in romance, particularly characters of Asian descent. Though she’s also got quite a few “classic” historical romances in her repertoire, her most interesting and dynamic works to date include the Cyclone series, with an upcoming work entitled Show Me that will be an LGBT romance between two women of color. In the meantime, though, she has plenty of other captivating titles for readers to explore.

Must-read: Hold Me ( Cyclone #2)

This pitch-perfect amalgam of classic romantic setups involves both a) an enemies-to-lovers transformation, and b) a case of secret identities, as our main couple (unbeknownst to them) chats anonymously online!

Jay na Thalang and Maria Lopez have been running in the same Bay Area circles for ages, but that doesn’t mean they actually like each other. On the contrary, Jay’s misogynistic attitude gets Maria all riled up, and Maria’s apparent ditziness causes Jay to dismiss her. But as with just about every romance, things are not as they seem… as secrets are unveiled and revelations occur, Maria and Jay get thrown into a completely unexpected romantic odyssey.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has been hot on the romance scene since the early eighties, and is credited with creating “sports romance,” in which the characters and plot revolve around some sort of athletics. She’s also been called the “Queen of Romantic Comedy” within the genre — at a time when most romance writers took the historical route, Phillips wasn’t afraid to get a little goofy. As the Nora Ephron of romance novels, Phillips is an essential addition to any self-proclaimed romance lover’s reading list.

Must read: It Had to Be You ( Chicago Stars #1)

New York girl Phoebe Somerville has just inherited the Chicago Stars — an entire football team of sexy-but-also-sex ist men, the worst of whom is head coach Dan Calebow. Dan isn’t exactly happy with Phoebe’s takeover, nor does Phoebe appreciate Dan’s constant snide remarks… yet neither of them can stay away from each other long enough to stop bickering. With warmth, humor, and irresistible chemistry, It Had to Be You is a veritable Super Bowl of a novel.

Julia Quinn

Like so many of the authors on this list, Julia Quinn has a fascinating origin story. In the early nineties, she decided to attend medical school; as she studied for the necessary prerequisites, she started writing romance novels on the side. She was then admitted to Yale Medical School, but realized she had already found her true calling. So she dropped out to become one of the most eminent historical romance writers of her generation — and is still writing today!

Must-read: The Duke and I ( Bridgertons #1)

It’s the ultimate high-society scheme: Lady Daphne Bridgerton and Duke Simon Basset are only pretending to court, so that Simon can avoid the clutches of actual marriage and Daphne can attract jealous men. (Exactly what you want in a partner, right?) Except now, Daphne is starting to have second thoughts about Simon — especially when they’re pressed together on the ballroom floor, and she can hardly keep dancing for desire. This Regency twist on the “fake relationship” trope will definitely make classic romance fans swoon.

“All the heat, all the heart,” is Rai’s signature slogan, and her brilliant, steamy, and wonderfully diverse books certainly live up to it. Though Rai is a relative newcomer, she already has five series under her belt and a reputation in the contemporary romance world for her innovative premises and vivid characters. (It hasn’t been released yet, but look out for her upcoming novel The Right Swipe , about two rival dating app creators who fall in love!)

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.

Must-read: Hate to Want You ( Forbidden Hearts #1)

Just like so many of our couples, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler have a deal. Except theirs is limited to just one night of guilty pleasure a year — guilty because of the animosity between their families. They’ve been secretly hooking up for ten years, and each looks forward to that night of mind-blowing passion… until Nicholas gets too busy running his own family’s empire. Of course, Livvy’s not going to let him slip away that easily. Laden with passion but also profound emotion, Hate to Want You is Rai’s superb answer to sexy yet realistic romance.

Alexa Riley

Riley is another big Amazon chart-topper — unusual for a romance author with mostly standalone and short-series books. However, Riley’s edge over other authors might come from the fact that “she” is actually two writers, a duo of anonymous friends who have put out over 100 titles (!) since 2015. Also, similar to Madison Faye, Alexa Riley’s books are best described as quickies: many are 100 pages or less, but what they lack in length, they make up for in heat.

Must-read: PS... You're Mine by Alexa Riley

This Valentine’s special features a schoolteacher named Katie Lovely and a marine named Mark Gunner (did we mention that almost all Riley characters have hilariously tongue-in-cheek names?). In any case, Katie’s class is doing a pen pal project with overseas Marines, and she accidentally signs herself up, too… only to find her correspondence with Mark is, well, different than she anticipated. So don’t worry just because they don’t see each other in person (at least not at first) — those letters get hot and heavy pretty quickly.

Nora Roberts

If there’s one author on this list who’s a recognized household name, it’s Nora Roberts. Since 1980, Roberts has written and published an astounding number of romances — her website claims the number stands at over 215!

But this incredibly prolific production has not come at the cost of quality. Over the years, Roberts has been praises for her creative storylines, her wry sense of humor, and for pioneering the “dual shifting perspectives” style (i.e. two different narrators who switch back and forth) that has come to define the genre. She’s also been the recipient of countless Golden Medallion and RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America, and she’s had several of her books adapted into movies, including Montana Sky and High Noon .

Must-read: Born in Fire ( Born in Fire Trilogy #1)

It’s impossible to say that Born in Fire is the only Nora Roberts must-read, but it’s certainly one of her best. It centers on Maggie Concannon, a fierce-minded, free-spirited woman living in Ireland. And while she may work with glass for a living, Maggie is not easily shattered — until she meets money-minded gallery owner Rogan Sweeney, who wants to manage her career. The two butt heads as their working relationship progresses, but can’t deny their attraction — which grows even hotter than blown glass over the course of this story.

Nalini Singh

Singh is another very exciting new voice in the romance genre. She mostly writes paranormal romance, but of a particularly debauched variety; she’s especially known for her Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series, both of which are rife with racy scenes.

Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of \'rehabilitation\' - the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was...

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

Must-read: Slave to Sensation ( Psy-Changeling #1)

This remarkable hybrid of paranormal romance and science fiction establishes the world of the “Psy”: a ruling race that prohibits emotions (sort of like in The Giver , but much worse). Sascha is one of the few Psy who still feels pain and desire — but she can’t reveal this to anyone, lest she be forced into “rehabilitation.” Meanwhile Lucas Hunter is a part-human, part-animal changeling who needs Sascha’s help. Their connection grows and they soon find themselves struggling to resist the sensation between them… though they know it could be deadly.

Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker’s series are famous for adapting the classic damsel-in-distress scenario to the modern day. Her heroines are victims of spousal violence, sex trafficking, terrorism, you name it — but there’s always a valiant hero there to save the day. And while it might seem to contradict the rules of feminism for the men to be constantly rescuing the women, we’re actually grateful for a series that promotes men protecting their partners, when so many romances blur the line between abuse and love.

Must-read: Rescuing Rayne ( Delta Force Heroes #1)

As a flight attendant, Rayne Jackson’s whole life is up in the air — with the exception of the occasional down-to-earth tryst. One particularly memorable night was with Keane “Ghost” Bryson, a rugged, reticent Delta Force member. Of course, Rayne doesn’t know that, since Ghost kept his true identity hidden from her. But when their paths cross again under the most dire of circumstances, Ghost must put everything on the line to protect Rayne: not just his secrets, but his life.

Lauren Willig

The final historical romancer on our list, Lauren Willig has been writing since 2005. Her speciality is the Napoleonic era, and her works take particular inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel — another historical novel written by a woman almost exactly a century before Willig herself started writing. However, don’t worry about her work being derivative. Willig is most definitely one of a kind, and the rich history and complex characters in her books make for top-notch romance.

Must-read: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

With a frame narrative reminiscent of Susanna Kearsley, Willig tells this story through Eloise Kelly: a 21st-century American college student who goes to England to finish her dissertation. There she finds much more than academic motivation in the form of the “Secret History of the Pink Carnation” — a book about England’s most cunning spy during the Napoleonic Wars, and the thrilling romance that involved them.

We’ll round off this list with some good old-fashioned… erotica! Zane has been a prominent author in the erotic romance subgenre since 1997, when she started writing steamy stories for her own entertainment. Over two decades later, she’s now the publisher of Strebor Books with Simon & Schuster, and her works have been turned into a TV series and even a feature film.

Must-read: Addicted

Zoe Reynard is a successful businesswoman, a loving wife, a devoted mother… and a sex addict. No matter how she’s tried, she’s never been able to shake her “fatal attraction.” Now, as Zoe confesses to her therapist, she delves into her sizzling sexual history and dark childhood.  But her romance with her husband is still front and center — hence what makes this a genuinely gorgeous work and not just a salacious romp (though it has that going for it, too).

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Canadian Authors – Toronto

Writers helping writers since 1921 is more than our motto.

Canadian Authors – Toronto is a branch of the national Canadian Authors Association  (CAA).

Our Mission

CAA is an organization dedicated to promoting a flourishing community of writers across Canada and encouraging works of literary and artistic merit. We do this by:

•  providing opportunities for professional development •  promoting the fair and equitable treatment of writers •  increasing public awareness of Canada’s writing and publishing environment

The Canadian Authors – Toronto is one part of the CAA, to learn more about the national organization, visit their main website here .

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

Canadian Authors Association, Toronto Branch, recognizes that a public commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is crucial to our growth as part of the wider Canadian arts and culture ecosystem.

To fulfill our commitment, we aim to:

•  Welcome and include in our organizational structure and programs all writers who are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, those who represent all sexual orientations and gender expressions, ages, linguistic backgrounds, economic status, religious expressions and abilities. •  Build and maintain an executive board that reflects these diverse groups and encourage all to volunteer, apply for leadership positions, and participate in programming for our organization. •  Work with partners in the publishing and writing community in order to achieve a diverse, equitable and inclusive space for all. 

As writers we have a special responsibility to challenge racism and other forms of oppression to make our communities more equal and just.

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For the latest updates about Canadian Authors – Toronto news and general writing discussions, please visit our social media accounts.

       Toronto Branch Executives

The Canadian Authors Association’s Toronto Branch is managed by a voluntary executive committee which collaborates with a voluntary advisory board.

Executive Committee

Co-President Lee Parpart  has been writing since she was a kid, and began publishing poetry in 2015 with a little Los Angeles indie outfit called Silver Birch Press. Lee has published short fiction in  The Nancy Drew Anthology  and in Open Book: Ontario’s 2016 What’s Your Story Contest anthology, after her short story won an emerging writer prize. She won an honourable mention in Negative Capability Press’s Spring 2020 poetry contest, and was the first person to receive Arc Poetry Magazine’s Award of Awesomeness in Spring 2020. Lee’s columns on visual art and cinema have appeared in  The Globe and Mail’ s Broadcast Week magazine and in  The Kingston Whig-Standard ,  C Magazine ,  POV magazine , and elsewhere. A former film studies lecturer at York University and the University of Toronto, Lee’s scholarly essays on Canadian, U.S. and Irish cinema and television have appeared in nine books and journals. She works full-time as an editor and marketing specialist for  Iguana Books  in Toronto, and is a former programs chair of  Editors Toronto .

Co-President & Treasurer JF Garrard is the founder of Dark Helix Press , Senior Editor for Ricepaper Magazine and an Assistant Editor for Amazing Stories magazine. She is an editor and writer of speculative fiction ( Trump Utopia or Dystopia Anthology , The Undead Sorceress ) and non-fiction. Her contributions to business, diversity and health subjects have been published in Entrepreneur , Huffington Post , Moneyish , , Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan, among others. Her latest stories include The Curse in the Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gales and Gizmos anthology, The Metamorphosis of Nova in the Blood Is Thicker anthology by Iguana Books and The Perfect Husband in the We Shall Be Monsters Frankenstein anthology by Renaissance Press. Her story  The Blue Son  is a winner of the Channillo Short Story Contest. To download a free short story, My Girl , about a mother using supernatural means to save her baby, click here.

Membership Coordinator Brandi A. Tanner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Toronto, ON. Originally from Riverport, Nova Scotia, she’s also the Sales Coordinator for Comairco Equipment, a position she’s held for the last nine years. She looks forward to applying her multitasking and administrative skills from that job to the role of Membership Coordinator with the newly revamped Toronto branch of the Canadian Authors Association. Brandi is working on her first novel, in science fiction, along with a multitude of short stories and poems.

Secretary Stephanie Wyeld made her writing debut in eighth grade when the teacher read her story about the Titanic aloud to the class with the lights off for effect. Since then, she has written countless ergonomic and clinical reports as well as a hundred things that have never been published anywhere. Nothing was as exciting, however, as when she finished writing her first novel. She looks forward to taking accurate meeting notes and working with the amazing CAA-Toronto Executive while she pens her next book.

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Member-at-large Njoroge Mungai attended York University and earned a BA in Mass Communication and Political Science. He is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers Correspondence Program. His poetry was featured as part of an exhibition entitled Emancipation during an event called CLICKS held at the Royal Ontario Museum.  To address the lack of representation in the publishing industry, Njoroge launched his own publishing company, Upendo Books Ltd. as well as a podcast,  Diversity & Inclusion.   It features work by creatives from various ethnicities, and was named by Google Podcasts as the #1 show (Diversity and Inclusion). 

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Member-at-large Renée M. Sgroi won runner-up in the UK’s 2020 erbacce poetry prize and her debut poetry collection, life print, in points (erbacce-press) was published that year. She also edited the anthology, Written Tenfold (Toronto: Poetry Friendly Press, 2018). In 2019, her unpublished novel was shortlisted for a Guernica Prize. A member of the League of Canadian Poets, The Writers Union of Canada, her poetry has been published in journals in Canada, the U.S., and Germany. You can find her online at: , and on Twitter @ReneeMSgroi and Instagram @renee_m_sgroi

Christopher Gorman has had a love for reading, writing, and science since childhood. As an adult, his fascination for fantasy and magic blossomed, and he began making notes and drafts for his ­ first novel— Dawn of Magic: Rise of the Guardians — in which he explores what he identifies as the trilogy of powers in this world—nature (magic), faith, and science. He had several careers from suits to cars to airplanes before rediscovering the story bubbling within. Embracing his passion, he joined the Canadian Author’s Association and their events helped galvanize him into completing his novel. Traveling throughout Canada and the world, he has participated in pagan rituals in the mountains and explored sites of ancient wisdom in England, Wales, and Ireland. 

June Rogers began her love of literature in childhood when her father read Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little, Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland to her before bed. Later, as writer and editor at Maclean’s, Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other publications, she pursued her non-fiction career until retirement. At that time, she enrolled in the University of Toronto’s Creative Writing Program to make the happy transition to fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and  among others.

Member-at-Large Pamela Yuen  lives in Toronto’s downtown east end with her cat, twenty houseplants, and many boxes of notebooks. She writes and performs (really long) narrative prose poems to compensate for being a quiet Virgo. That said, she is always happy to talk about tarot, space operas, and bad goth music. You can listen to her work through Brick Book’s  Brickyard .

Advisory Board

Gavin Barrett is co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Toronto advertising agency Barrett and Welsh. He has also been employed as a door-to-door market researcher, poet, pharmaceutical sales manager (not a euphemism) and musical production manager.

Gavin’s poetry has been published in Reasons For Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets, Penguin India (ed. Ranjit Hoskote), The Toronto South Asian Review, the Pen India journal, Folio – the literary monthly of The Hindu, The Independent, and Poeisis – the journal of the Bombay Poetry Circle.

He co-curates The Tartan Turban Secret Readings, which promotes minority voices in Canadian literature, especially visible minority and indigenous writers. His work has appeared in 35 countries, provoked the the ire of the lawyers for Dolly the cloned sheep, drawn angry crowds in Lagos and attracted criticism from a fictional character in a John Irving novel.

He has been trained by several notable feminists including his mother, his wife and his two daughters. If asked they will confirm that his education, at this time, is incomplete.

Hana Kim is the director of the East Asian Library at the University of Toronto. She is the author of multiple book chapters and journal articles in library and information science. Her research interests include Asian Canadian heritage and various areas in East Asian libraries. In her time away from work, she enjoys translating poetry. She won the Sunshik Min Prize of the Min Chapbook Competition. She is also a recipient of the Korea Times’ Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards (Poetry). Apart from translating Love is the Pain of Feverish Flowers (Seoul Selection), she has also contributed translations and original poems to various publications including Variety Crossing and Han Kŭt: Critical Art and Writing by Korean Canadian Women (Inanna Publications).

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Writers Conferences 2023: 60 Events Worth Attending

by Dana Sitar | Feb 8, 2023

writers conferences

Because COVID-19 drastically changed the world we live in, some of these conferences were canceled, postponed, or moved partially or entirely online. Check with conference organizers for details.

Ready to connect with literary agents, editors and fellow writers at a writers’ conference?

If you’re tired of learning about interesting opportunities just a little too late, bookmark this list of annual writers’ conferences (both in the U.S. and international) for future planning , so you can join in on the mingling, learning and inspiration.

And while some of these conferences might not happen next year as planned due to the pandemic, many have moved online becoming even more accessible for those who want to attend.

Writers conferences to consider for 2023 and beyond

Here are 60 writing conventions to check out in the coming year. We’ve broken the list into categories, including blogging, freelancing, fiction, and more to help you narrow down on what interests you most.

General interest

1. author advantage live.

When: Annually in August

Where:  Online

This 3-day interactive virtual experience contains all the information you’ll need to be successful as an author—no matter your genre or goals! AAL brings a vast list of expert speakers to the table (John Maxwell was the keynote in 2021! Jenna Kutcher and Steven Pressfield in 2022!) and allows you to connect with a community of like-minded authors. Visit this link  to get your tickets or get on the waiting list for the next one.

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2. San Francisco Writers Conference

When: Annually in February

Where: San Francisco, CA

Held annually in February, this conference is a “celebration of craft, commerce and community.” Connect with industry experts, bestselling authors, agents, editors and leaders in both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

3. San Francisco Writing for Change Conference

When: Annually in September

Where: Online

This nearly monthly-long series of online events tells nonfiction writers, “Your ideas can change the world.” The conference brings together writers and industry experts to teach nonfiction writers about writing, publishing, marketing and technology.

4. Northern Colorado Writers Conference

When: Annually in April/May

Where: Fort Collins, CO, and online

The Northern Colorado Writers group provides support and encouragement to writers of all genres and levels through this annual conference, as well as through monthly meetings, classes and other networking and social events.

The in-person events are open to limited attendees, so you’ll get a more intimate experience.

5. Association of Writers and Writing Programs

When: Annually in Spring

Where: Various North American cities

Each year, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) hosts the Annual Conference & Bookfair in a different city. The event celebrates authors, teachers, students, writing programs, literary centers and publishers in the region hosting the conference. With more than 12 thousand writers and readers attending each year, AWP is the largest literary conference in North America.

6. Las Vegas Writers Conference

When: Annually in spring

Where: Las Vegas, NV

Henderson Writers Group hosts this annual conference for writers. The organization also hosts three meetings per week in Las Vegas. They’re open to the public, and members can read their writing for critique by attendees.

7. Midwest Writers Workshop Super Mini-conference

When: Annually in July

Where: Muncie, IN

This day-and-half conference is a more affordable option for writers at all levels. The Super Mini offers a variety of in-depth small sessions in craft taught by published authors. You’ll also get to mingle with other writers and industry experts.

8. Writing Day Workshops

When and Where: Year-round throughout the U.S. and Canada

Each of these day-long workshops offers a crash course on how to get your book published, with classes and presentations on everything from writing queries to working with an agent to marketing your book.

9. Missouri Writers Guild Conference

Where: St. Louis, MO

The Missouri Writers Guild is a 100+-year-old organization for professional writers in all genres across the Midwest. Join its annual conference for writers at all levels for breakout sessions and masterclasses covering the craft and business of creative writing.

10. Writer’s Winter Escape Cruise

When: Bi-annually February-March (Next: 2023)

Where: Departs from Miami, FL for the Bahamas

Join this unique writers’ conference…at sea.

For five days, writers can enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean Sea while networking and learning about the publishing industry.

Fiction Conferences

11. romance writers of america annual conference.

Where: Location varies

Romance writers gather at this annual genre conference to learn more about the business of being an author. Get an opportunity to meet and mingle with budding and successful romance authors, as well as workshops and events to boost your author career.

12. SleuthFest

When: Annually in February-March

Where: Boca Raton, Florida

SleuthFest is an annual conference for mystery, suspense and thriller writers sponsored by the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

This conference includes writing and marketing workshops, networking events, and pitch sessions with guest agents and editors. It even includes hands-on forensic workshops!

13. Worldcon and North American Science Fiction Convention

When: Annually

Where: Various locations around the world

The World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”) is an annual gathering of the science fiction and fantasy community, held in a different location around the world each year. When Worldcon is held outside of North America, the corresponding NASFiC is held in North America.

This five-day international conference is attended by thousands of writers, artists, fans, editors, publishers, academics and dealers. The event embraces science fiction in all the forms, including film, TV, art, comics, anime and manga, and gaming.

14. Killer Nashville

Where: Nashville, TN

While attractive to mystery/thriller authors and screenwriters for its unique crime-focused sessions, Killer Nashville welcomes writers of all levels and genres. 

“Imagine hearing a CIA Analyst, an FBI agent on terrorism, Dr Bill Bass on The Body Farm, bestselling CJ Box on how he juggles his writing and plans his days, Heyward Gould on screenplays, and so much more. They even had a crime scene, with awards to those who studied the clues and figured out the mystery,” mystery author C. Hope Clark reflected on her 2012 Killer Nashville experience.

15. Virtual Winter Thrills (Thrillerfest)

When: Annually January–March

“It is the only conference where I really feel at home — and [International Thriller Writers] is truly the tribe I belong to…” says Joanna Penn (thriller author J.F. Penn) at The Creative Penn. “I can talk about ways to murder people and weapons of choice and not feel weird. I can learn from some of the biggest names in the business, whose hours of writing experience number in the many thousands.”

Virtual Winter Thrills is the latest iteration of the popular Thrillerfest writers conference from International Thriller Writers. It includes the perennial Practice PitchFest sessions and Master Class with best selling authors, plus a new series of craft and business classes called Winter Thrills MBA.

16. BlogHer Creators Summit

When: Annually in summer

Where: Various U.S. cities

Previously known simply as BlogHer, the reimagined Creators Summit promises to bring all the heat of thought leaders and influencers that the conference has been known for for nearly two decades. Attend workshops, panels and keynotes for anyone who wants to level up their online business. You’ll even get to engage with popular beauty and wellness brands.

17. We All Grow Summit

When: Annually in the spring

Where: Near Los Angeles, CA

We All Grow is a unique professional conference for Latinas working in the digital space. If you’re an online influencer or creative entrepreneur, this conference can help you network with others, learn strategies for personal and business growth, and connect with brands that want to reach your community.

18. Alt Summit

When: Annually in March

Where: Palm Springs, CA

Originally the Altitude Design Summit for design bloggers, this annual conference has expanded since its founding in 2009 to include thousands of creative entrepreneurs, content creators, artists, and influencers. The emphasis is on connecting and collaborating with fellow creatives, and you’ll also get to attend keynotes, panels, and TED-style talks from high-caliber celebrities of popular culture and the online business world.

19. South by Southwest

Where: Austin, TX

South by Southwest has become the country’s premier event for the music, comedy, film and digital technology industries — basically, any creative person or fan!  In 2021, they launched the first SXSW Online , a digital extension of the massive convention.

“What I love about SXSW — it always brings out my spontaneous side. I don’t make any plans until five minutes beforehand, and I love it,” says Jenny Blake in a post on Life After College, The Number One Tip for SXSW Newbie .


20. american society of journalists and authors annual conference.

When: Annually in Fall

Attend this one-day conference to learn how to manage a freelance business or publish a book in the new media environment. You can also find other one-day events throughout the year in other U.S. cities, covering various topics relevant to nonfiction writers, journalists and authors.

21. Society for Professional Journalists Spring Conference Series

These day-long professional development meetings take place across 12 regions throughout the U.S. They draw pros, students and educators for networking and training in topics ranging from writing skills to using new technologies.

22. Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing

Learn about new media for journalists, writing for various industries, managing your freelancing business, and more in this three-day conference for journalists and business writers and editors. Also keep an eye out for focused virtual and in-person trainings around the country.

Children’s book writing and illustrating

23. scbwi annual conferences.

When: Various dates

Where: Various locations

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators hosts a slew of regional conferences around the world throughout the year, including the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles each August, and the Annual Winter Conference in New York each February.

24. WriteOnCon

Where: Online,

WriteOnCon is an online-only writers’ conference for children’s writers. You can access keynote events and critique forums for free and the rest of the conference content for a fee starting at $10. You’ll also have an opportunity to connect with critique partners. 

Christian writing

25. blue ridge mountain christian writers conference.

Where: near Asheville, NC

Held annually at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center nestled in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is the premier training and networking event for both seasoned and aspiring writers and speakers.

26. Northwestern Christian Writers Conference

Where: St. Paul, MN

This annual conference by the University of Northwestern and Faith Radio celebrates and cultivates writers who are Christians. Hone your craft and engage your faith at the same time through keynotes, workshops, Q&A panels, networking events, and one-on-one appointments with professional writers and industry leaders.

International (Outside of U.S.)

27. surrey international writers’ conference.

When: Annually in October

Where: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

The Surrey International Writers’ Conference is the “most comprehensive professional development conference of its kind in Canada.” Open to writers of all levels and genres, the conference offers an opportunity to show off your work to the international literary marketplace as well as to hone your craft and business skills.

28. The Vancouver Writers Festival

Where: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

In the cultural heart of Vancouver, B.C., on Granville Island, this festival invites authors, poets, spoken word performers and graphic novelists to celebrate the art of the story. It takes place for six days each October and continues throughout the year through special events and the Incite reading series .

In its own words: “The Vancouver Writers Fest turns reading into a community experience, bringing people together to share thoughts, explore ideas and witness brilliant conversations.”

29. Kingston WritersFest

Where: Kingston, Ontario

Writers and readers in attendance will get to participate in thought-provoking discussions and unique events that champion artistic expression and development. Hosted in a notably literary city, this festival is all about “the power of the written word to create a strong, engaged community.”

30. WordFest

When: Annually in April and October

Where: Calgary, Alberta 

A not-for-profit charitable arts organization, WordFest “brings readers and writers together through a premier international writers festival and year-round literary events.” Throughout the year, book clubs and other activities are available to those who want to engage with fellow writers and readers. Guests can enjoy readings, workshops, panel discussions and presentations that work toward connecting Calgarians through transformative ideas. 

31. Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story

Where: Wingham, Ontario

This annual festival includes readings, workshops, masterclasses and lectures, as well as opportunities to mingle with other writers. It also includes the Alice Munro Short Story Contest for youth and adults. Submissions open in January.

The festival is open to writers from anywhere, but you have to be a Canadian writer to enter the contest.

32. Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival

When: Annually in April 

Where: Montreal, Quebec

This bilingual (English/French) festival features programming for adults and children. Attendees enjoy workshops, readings and lectures from speakers across genres of writing and art.

The festival is free to attend, but you’ll have to pay a fee for select activities.

33. gritLIT

Where: Hamilton, Ontario

This four-day festival is a celebration of Canadian authors. Its purpose is to highlight local writers and engage with the community.

In its own words , “gritLIT brings the best contemporary Canadian writers to Hamilton to engage with local booklovers, to inspire and to be inspired by Hamilton authors, to promote a love of reading in young audiences and to celebrate the exchange of diverse ideas, experiences and viewpoints.  ”

34. International Festival of Authors

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Since 1974, this popular festival has highlighted authors of contemporary literature. It includes 11 days of readings, interviews, artist talks, round-table discussions, book signings and several special events.

IFOA features novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers from Canada and around the world.

The Toronto Star called this Canada’s “premier literary festival” and “a top destination for both international superstars and up-and-coming writers.”

35 . Lakefield Literary Festival

Where: Lakefield, Ontario

In its own words , the festival “a celebration of the rich literary heritage of Lakefield and the surrounding area which includes the works of Catharine Parr Traill, Susanna Moodie and Isabella Valancy Crawford, among others, all of who lived and wrote in Lakefield. .” It includes author readings and masterclasses in writing for all ages.

Admission price per event ranges between about CA$20 and CA$35.

36. LitFest Alberta

Where: Edmonton, Alberta

LitFest celebrates nonfiction through readings, lectures, panel discussions and workshops. It covers diverse topics — from food writing to feminism. Several events are free. Paid events run about CA$12 each.

37. The Ottawa International Writers Festival

When: Annually in October and April

Where: Ottawa, Ontario

This festival celebrates ideas and imagination! In its own words :

“Twice a year, we convene an international celebration of ideas to recharge our imaginations. From politics to poetry, science to music, history to thrillers, we celebrate the full diversity of the word and the gifted writers who guide us in our exploration of the world.”

Programming includes a poetry cabaret, town-hall style discussion, and fiction and nonfiction readings. To celebrate writing “outside the pages of books,” the festival often includes staged play readings, feature films, documentaries, CD launches and songwriter circles.

38. When Words Collide

Where: Calgary, Alberta

Readers, writers, editors, publishers, agents and other artists attend this festival, which highlights commercial and literary fiction. When Words Collide welcomes writers of most genre fiction, YA, children’s books, nonfiction and poetry.

UK & Ireland

39 . the london book fair.

Where: Olympia, London

In its own words: “The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content.”

LBF brings together authors, publishers and readers in the cultural hub of London to explore and understand the rapidly-changing publishing world.

40. Dublin Writers’ Conference

When: Annually in June 

Where: Dublin, Ireland

From open mic readings to illuminating presentations, here’s what you can expect from the this conference hosted by the book promotion agency Books Go Social :

“This conference will help you to improve your writing craft, publish successfully, and plan the marketing necessary for any author to achieve success whether traditionally published or self-published. This conference provides practical support, valuable training and an opportunity to meet and get to know fellow writers in one of the world’s great literary cities.”

You’ll have the opportunity to attend training sessions led by renowned authors and industry experts, where you’ll learn about the craft and business of writing, as well as connect with fellow writers.

41. Listowel Writers’ Week

When: Annually in May

Where: Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland

Running nearly 50 years, this annual festival for YA literature includes writing workshops, readings, interviews, forums, book launches and masterclasses. Enjoy tours of the historic Irish town and access to local and international writers.

The festival also includes several writing competitions for novel, short story, humor and playwriting. Awards even exist for sports journalism, writing for readers with special needs and writing in prisons.

42. Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Where: London, UK

This festival celebrates the diverse, “radical, rabble-rousing and literary history” of the Stoke Newington area of Hackney in London. 

Free and paid events feature readings and performances across genres and media. Admission to paid events ranges from £3 to £10.

43. Strokestown International Poetry Festival

When: Annually during the first weekend in May

Where: Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland

This annual festival has been celebrating poetry since 1999. Its mission is to “showcase contemporary poetry, local, national and international, foster the development of emerging writers and consolidate poetry in local cultural life bringing it to the widest possible audience.”

The weekend includes readings from several established and up-and-coming poets, a poetry workshop and poetry competitions for poems in English and Irish.

44. Hay Festival

When: Annually in Fall and Spring

Where: Hay-on-Wye, Wales

President Bill Clinton dubbed this festival “Woodstock of the mind,” according to The Telegraph .

The Hay Festival in Wales joins coinciding festivals around the world to celebrate writing of all kinds through panel discussions and lectures.

In its own words, “Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking.”

45. Canterbury Arts Conference

When: Annually in July or August 

Where: Canterbury, Kent, UK

Originally the Warnborough College Conference on the Arts, this conference has grown to accommodate an international audience. It welcomes artists in all disciplines and media, academics, students, historians and other professionals.

Participants have the opportunity to share and publish research, and network with peers. The conference includes creative writing and visual art workshops, as well as presentations of art in a variety of media.

46. Ledbury Poetry Festival

Where: Ledbury, UK

The Daily Mail called this festival, launched in 1997, “the world’s most diverse poetry festival.”

It really has something for everyone. The festival features an array of community events to celebrate the writing and performance of poetry. Attend readings, writing workshops, panel discussions, musical performances, craft seminars and open mics in the “lively and picturesque market town” of Ledbury.

It also includes programs for new writers and a poetry competition .

47. Geneva Writers Group

When: Various dates throughout the year

Where: Various locations in Geneva, Switzerland 

This group is brimming with opportunity. It offers several informative events throughout the year: the biennial Geneva Writers’ Conference; a “Meet the Agents” weekend on alternate years; monthly Saturday workshops from September to June that include masterclasses and critiquing sessions; coordinated writing groups; and an annual literary cruise on Lake Geneva. 

Whether you’re an established author or just starting out, GWG welcomes writers from around the world and offers a supportive community that encourages creative writing. 

48. Paris Café Writing

When: Various dates in April and November

Where: Le Marais, Paris

Patricia Tennison, a professor and author of award-honored books, leads a small group of eight writers in a week-long workshop. Accompanied by her husband Joseph Prendergast, a poet and teacher, Tennison guides writers of all experience levels through five morning seminars and a private writing session. 

Some meals and activities are included in the registration fee, but guests are responsible for lodging and transportation. 

49. Frankfurt Writers’ Conference  

Where: Höchst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

This conference began in 2018 and anticipates organizing an even bigger and better event each year. In two fun-filled days, the conference hosts an interactive workshop and discussions led by an accomplished list of German and English-speaking literary agents, publishing representatives and writers. 

Expect to learn ways to improve your pitch, receive insider knowledge on the world of publishing and more. 

50. Bread Loaf in Sicily Writers’ Conference

When: Annually in September 

Where: Erice, Sicily

This seven-day writers conference takes place in the beautiful, ancient town of Erice.

Attendance is limited to just five groups of six participants for an intimate experience.

The conference includes small-group workshops, plus classes and lectures for all attendees. It’s open to fiction, poetry and nonfiction writers.

For additional options, check out sister Bread Loaf conferences in Ripton, Vermont .

51 . Information, Medium & Society: Eighteenth International Conference on Publishing Studies

Where: Venice, Italy

Since 2003, this evolving research network has brought writers, readers, publishers, emerging scholars and more together to discuss “investigations on the nature and forms of information, and publishing practices as distinctive modes of social knowledge and cultural production.”

Attend a range of sessions and presentations that allow opportunities for networking and learning more about key issues in the industry.

52. Iceland Writers Retreat

Where: Reykjavik, Iceland

Whether you’re an aspiring, published or hobby writer, you’re welcome to join this international writing retreat. It includes small-group workshops, dinner and receptions for networking, and tours of the area.

This program focuses on literary fiction and nonfiction books, so it’s not a good fit if you want to learn more about freelancing, online writing, genre fiction, poetry or other media.

Asia and Oceania

53. nonfictionow.

When: Annually in December

Where: Wellington, New Zealand 

In its own words :

“The NonfictioNOW Conference is a regular gathering of over 400 nonfiction writers, teachers and students from around the world in an effort to explore the past, present, and future of nonfiction.”

Roundtable discussions and keynote speakers highlight a variety of nonfiction, including memoir, essay and literary journalism; and multimedia, including graphic and video essay.

54. Melbourne Writers Festival

When: Annually in late August/early September

Where: Melbourne, Australia

This festival for readers, writers and thinkers engages participants through, storytelling, discussion, intellectual debate, educational programs, live performance, music and art events.

Enjoy writing workshops, lectures and panel discussions on all forms of creative writing.

55. Asian Festival of Children’s Content  

When: Annually in May or September 

Where: Various Southeast Asian countries

Guests joining this conference get to have unique and culturally rich experiences, hosted in a different Southeast Asian country each year. Workshops, masterclasses, presentations, panels and other events organized by the Singapore Book Council explore the world of children’s publishing, from creation and distribution to consumer consumption. 

Whether you’re an academic, a writer, editor, agent, publisher, teacher, parent or anything in between, guests are encouraged to partake in the celebration of Asian content for children and young adults, plus take advantage of opportunities to network and hone their craft.

Central and South America

56. san miguel writers’ conference and literary festival.

Where: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Established and emerging writers are welcome at this prestigious multicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish) writers’ conference and literary festival.

Get a chance to network with writers from around the world and hone your craft through workshops, masterclasses, keynote presentations, panel discussions and seminars.

And don’t forget the beautiful location! Bill Maxwell, opinion columnist at Tampa Bay Times, said of his recent experience in San Miguel :

“Rarely have I fallen in love with a landlocked city. … This is a magical place, starting with its colonial architecture. Many of its large and colorful homes are nestled among jacaranda and decorated with bougainvillea. As I walked the narrow cobblestone streets, music and gaiety greeted me.”

57. The Cuenca International Writers Conference

Where: Cuenca, Ecuador 

Ready to learn, network and recharge? At this conference, “you’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll meet new friends who understand the writing life, and you’ll return home with a fresh perspective that allows new ideas to flourish.” 

Tucked away in what’s considered one of the most beautiful cities in South America, the conference provides writers of all backgrounds intimate networking opportunities with distinguished presenters, stimulating workshops and unforgettable cultural experiences. 

58. Belize Writers’ Conference

Where: Hopkins, Belize

This five-day conference invites fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir writers to vacation with literary agents and attend workshops designed to help you boost your career as an author. Conference registration includes meals and lodging at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef resort. Conference participants are selected through an application process.

Indie publishing and self-publishing

59. self publishing advice conference (selfpubcon).

When: Annually in Spring and Fall

This online conference for authors interested in self-publishing runs fringe to the London Book Fair and Digital Book World.

The conference is free and runs 24 sessions — one an hour for 24 hours. You can register to learn how to attend the next conference, and you can attend sessions live or catch up on your own time.

60. Orlando Reads Books

Where: Orlando, FL

This four-day event includes workshops, panels and social events for indie, hybrid and traditionally-published authors. It features sessions on craft and marketing, as well as events that let you mingle with readers and fellow authors.

61. Writer’s Digest Conference

Where: New York City

The Writer’s Digest editors bring you this annual conference with resources for craft, career and creative inspiration. Nearly 50 agents and editors participate in the infamous Pitch Slam, and dozens of industry experts lead educational sessions.

Which writing conventions and conferences do you plan to attend this year? Tell us your favorites in the comments below.


This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

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Lucy Maud Montgomery

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work,  The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

Alice Munro

Her mother’s struggle with Parkinson's disease pushed Alice Munro into reading as an escape route. Munro later became a housewife, but soon soared to fame for her short story collections such as Too Much Happiness . The Canadian author later won the Nobel Prize and the Man Booker Prize , too.

Jane Jacobs

American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs is best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities . A specialist in urban culture and its issues, she was one of the few women who excelled in a male-dominated field. The Vincent Scully Prize winner was initially scorned at as a housewife.

Naomi Klein

Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism. She became internationally known following the release of her alter-globalization book No Logo. She often appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers and is the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize. She is a prominent environmentalist as well.

Chrystia Freeland

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Louise Penny

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Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, photographer, illustrator, and author. Born in India, she moved to Canada at an early age. She began performing in 2009 and gained international fame through her Instagram posts. She often explores her South Asian identity and femininity in her work. Her latest poetry collection, Home Body, released in 2020, was a resounding success. 

Anna Olson

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Anne Carson

Born to a banker in Toronto, Anne Carson grew up to study Classics and later taught at institutes such as Princeton University . Her signature style consists of a mix of prose and poetry. One of her notable works, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse , was inspired by Greek mythology.

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Jeanne Sauvé

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Lisa Codrington

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by Yen Cabag | 29 comments

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Romance is one of the bestselling genres in the US. In fact, according to the Romance Writers of America (RWA), statistics show that romance novels make up more than 50% of all sales of mass-market paperback fiction in America. 

Romance is a popular genre because nearly everyone can relate to the thrills and challenges of love and its complications. Research shows that readers of romance include both men and women, with male readers making up about 9% of the audience (although the men tend to be less vocal about their interests).

The Best Romance Authors

If you want to be a fiction writer, one important piece of advice is to read extensively in your chosen genre. To write romance, immerse yourself in the writings of the bestselling romance authors. 

Or, if you simply want to sit down with a good, sizzling read, here are some of the best romance authors to choose from: 

1. Danielle Steel 

The bestselling author alive today, Danielle Steel has sold more than 800 million copies of her books. She is also the fourth bestselling fiction writer of all time, with more than 179 books, 146 of them fiction, to her name. 

Must Read: Zoya  

Steel shows her storytelling prowess in this romance novel featuring Zoya, a Russian countess who flees the Russian Revolution with her grandmother. When they arrive in Paris without a cent to their name, Zoya has to form a new life by joining a ballet company. 

2. Nora Roberts

The first writer in the Romance Writer of America Hall of Fame, Nora Roberts is known as the queen of romance fiction. Roberts is the pseudonym of Eleanor Marie Robertson, who also writes under other pen names, such as J.D. Robb. 

Must Read: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb 

This romantic suspense follows New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas on the trail of a heartless killer. What happens when she gets involved with one of her suspects in her investigation?

3. Nicholas Sparks 

Romance legend Nicholas Sparks’s books have spurred nearly a dozen big-screen adaptations, including A Walk to Remember , The Notebook , Dear John , The Longest Ride , and Message in a Bottle . 

Must Read: The Last Song

Three years after 17-year-old Veronica Miller’s parents divorced, “Ronnie” stays angry and estranged from them, especially her father. Then her mother makes the call of sending Ronnie to spend the summer with her father in Wilmington. 

Her father is a former concert pianist who is now living quietly in the beach town, preoccupied with creating his life’s masterpiece. The Last Song explores not just first love among young people but also the affection shared between parents and children, showing us how these valued relationships can both break and heal our hearts. 

4. Robyn Carr 

One of the most well-known names in romance novels since 1980, Robyn Carr fascinates readers especially with her Virgin River series, detailing different love stories set in a California forest outpost. 

Her stories in the series include unique characters, like a disgruntled sous chef or a tough marine who finds his soft side. Plus, it now comes with a Netflix adaptation starring Alexandra Breckenridge. 

Must-Read: Virgin River (Book 1 of the Virgin River series)  

After her husband dies, 30-something nurse Melinda Monroe moves to the secluded Virgin River—and finds it falling short of her expectations. In fact, the shabby conditions and the curt manner of the local doctor convinces her to leave, but the retired marine she meets changes her plans. 

5. Carolyn Brown 

Brown’s debut novel Love Is was published in 1999, and for the last 20 years she has written both historical and contemporary romance, specializing in cowboy romances. 

Her stories tend to be set in the South and feature a rancher with tall, dark, and handsome looks, and a heroine that has no radar for love: she’s likely too preoccupied with her child, or perhaps she’s struggling to let go of memories of her last relationship—but they end up falling in love anyway. 

Must-read: Long, Hot Texas Summer

Seventeen years ago, after having found her husband Jackson making out with another woman, Loretta Bailey walked out of Lonesome Canyon Ranch, supposedly forever. Now that Loretta and Jackson’s daughter drops her college plans to get married to a rancher, Loretta bristles and decides to go back to the ranch to work with Jackson—and finds him still as handsome and wily as ever. 

6. Lisa Kleypas

Expert storyteller Lisa Kleypas shines in historical romance. Having started writing at 21 years old, Klaypas began with duologies and moved on to multi-book series, with The Hathaways and The Wallflowers among the most popular. 

The author’s intimate knowledge of the time periods she sets her stories in gives her books a very solid historical background.

Must Read: Mine Till Midnight (Book 1 of The Hathaways Series) 

A surprise inheritance throws Amelia Hathaway right smack in the middle of an aristocratic society. Between that and needing to keep her younger siblings in check, Amelia finds her life crammed full—but not too full to notice Cam Rohan, a bad boy character who also came from less well-off roots. 

7. Sarah MacLean 

Specializing in historical romance, MacLean often explores the intersection of the romance genre with gender studies. 

Must Read: A Rogue by Any Other Name 

This first book in MacLean’s Rule of Scoundrels series perfectly carries out the fiction trope of the lady who turns out to be a bit naughty herself. 

8. Alyssa Cole 

Cole doesn’t stick to just one genre: most of her writing revolves around historical romance, but she also has a few contemporary novels in her collection. 

Must Read: Radio Silence 

This first book in the Off the Grid series combines a dystopian thriller story with romance. 

9. Susan Elizabeth Phillips 

A mainstay in romance fiction since the 1980s, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is known for her novels revolving around sports and athletes. She’s also known for playing with humor, earning her the title “Queen of Romantic Comedy.” 

Must Read: It Had to Be You 

Phoebe Somerville is a New York girl who has just inherited a football team, made of sexy and sexist athletes, led by the worst sexist of the group, head coach Dan Calebow. Phoebe and Dan clash from the get-go, but Phillips effectively weaves a tale of humor, warmth, and chemistry. 

10. Jane Austen 

Classic writer Jane Austen is best known for her 6 major novels, and the film adaptations of her books have added to her popularity in recent generations. 

Must Read: Pride and Prejudice 

This romantic novel follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet, whose prejudices keeps her from realizing her developing friendship and attraction to the proud Mr. Darcy. Through her family’s experience with potential husbands, she also learns important lessons about appearances and genuine goodness. 

11. Julie Garwood 

Julie Garwood has 26 New York Times bestsellers in her collection and more than 35 million books in print. She points to her Irish heritage as a key to her success, a culture that has continued to have a strong emphasis on dramatic and detailed storytelling. 

Having started in young adult (YA) fiction, Garwood has since focused on historical romance, one of the most popular of which is her Highlands’ Lairds series. 

Must Read: The Secret (Book 1 of Highlands’ Lairds) 

Judith Hampton journeys from her comfortable home in England to the Highlands to be by the side of her childhood friend as she gives birth. She clashes with a Scottish barbarian named Iain Maitland, all while struggling to resist his passionate kisses and caresses. But what happens when she discovers a life-changing secret about her father? 

12. Debbie Macomber 

This New York Times bestselling romance author has sold over 200 million copies of her novels, and a few of her books have also been made into film adaptations. She is known for tackling complex relationships that include loyal friendships and family dynamics, giving her readers stories of hope and connection. 

Must Read: The Shop on Blossom Street 

Debbie Macomber shares her love of knitting in this romance novel set around a newly-opened yarn shop in Seattle, where four women come together in a knitting class to make baby blankets. They form a special friendship which takes readers on a heartwarming journey of hope, love, and renewal. 

13. Johanna Lindsey

Another expert in the historical romance genre, the late Johanna Lindsey has sold over 60 million copies of her more than 50 bestselling novels. Her first novel, Captive Bride , was published back in 1977. 

Must Read: Warrior’s Woman 

This science fiction take on the romance novel centers around Tedra De Arr, the fearless heroine who works to save her home planet from the evil Crad Ce Moerr. Challen Ly-San-Ter stands in her way and wants to take her back to his lair. 

14. Jude Deveraux 

Jude Deveraux is the New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books, having sold more than 50 million copies as of 2016. Her specialty is historical romance, but she also dabbles in paranormal and mystery subgenres. 

Must Read: A Knight in Shining Armor

Jude Deveraux weaves an excellent time-travel tale in A Knight in Shining Armor, with a present-day lady mourning over a tombstone in an English church, and a 16th-century earl who suddenly shows up, despite having supposedly died in 1564. 

15. Jayne Ann Krentz

Bestseller Jayne Ann Krentz writes under seven pen names, including Amanda Quick, Amanda Glass, and Jayne Taylor. She is best known for writing contemporary romantic-suspense and historical romantic-suspense. She has more than 35 million copies of her novels in print. 

Must Read: Smoke in Mirrors 

This romantic-suspense novel starts off with seductress and con artist Meredith Spooner stealing more than a million dollars and leaving the money in an offshore account for Leonora Hutton. 

15. Judith McNaught

Bestselling author Judith McNaught has 30 million copies of her more than a dozen contemporary and historical romance novels in print. 

Must Read: Almost Heaven  

This romance novel follows Countess Elizabeth Cameron, whose perfect reputation is torn to shreds when she is found in the arms of the social outcast, notorious gambler Ian Thornton. 

Favorite Romance Authors 

The best romance authors found success by crafting unforgettable stories, but it also took lots of practice.

If you have dreams of becoming a successful author , start by developing a regular writing routine, reading some of the best authors, and asking for feedback. Who knows? You just might become the next Danielle Steel!

Who is your favorite romance author? Share your top pick in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

Yen Cabag

Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.



Try Field of poppies and also the Georgia Blessings series by Sharon Sala.

Daria Chykurova

Hey, what about Jennifer A. Nielsen, ally Carter, and Kiera Cass? They’re such good authors!


What about Colleen Hoover???

Cynthia Nesiba

Ellen Tanner Marsh? She had huge best sellers.


I must say Colleen Hoover SHOULD be on this list .OMG SHE IS A FIRE-CRACKER

Jackie Garcia

Isn’t JD Robb, Nora Robert’s? She was on the list!!


Where is Fern Michaels?! How is she not on this list?!


why is Alex Flinn not on this list!!!!!!??? That is ridiculous!!


How is Colleen Hoover , Jamie McGuire , Emily Giffin not on this list!!!!! I could name several others. All are worthy – Let’s update the list!!

Marcia Newton

My favorites are Colleen Hoover, Abby Jimenez, and Leigh Ann Duncan

Kaelyn Barron

Great choices, Marcia! Colleen Hoover has definitely become one of the most popular romance writers in recent years :)


How is Sandra Brown not on here? She is the best!


To me these are all great authors, but the only one that I read now is J. D. Robb. I think that you should up-date your listings. Toni Aleo, Sarina Bowen, Kris Michaels, Alex Kava, Jami Davenport, Alison Brennan, Suzanne Brockman, Catherine Coulter, just to name a few. Many of the ones you list are listed because of years ago, not because of what they have done recently.

Hi Pauline, thanks for your comment! We’ll work on updating this post :)

Abigail Mynx

Who cares whether these great writers have done anything recently! They are still great and deserve to be on the list, for those people who haven’t read them yet. List should be updated to add other people, not to remove.

lee v loyd

How can Linda Howard NOT be on this list???

Hi Lee, thanks for the suggestion! We’ll work on updating this post.


I think Judith mcnaught is the best…johanna lindsey and nora robert are also queens.

Thanks for sharing, Itunu! We think they’re pretty great too :)

Ali Eva

An author my mom got me started on was Janet Daily. I read all of her books that were written for each state in the US. I have many others by her or those her family has continued to write. She was actually from Storm Lake, Iowa. A mere hour north of my hometown of Carroll, Iowa. I know she passed in 2013 which was sad. I’ve not had a lot of time over the last umpteen years to do a lot of reading which I miss and especially now taking care of an elderly parent. I miss especially good romance stories. In my opinion, romance books shouldn’t be vulgar and explicit and have bad language. They are not enjoyable to read.

I am also a romance writer working on my sequel.

Hi Patricia, thank you for your comment and foe sharing about Janet Daily! I hope you’re able to find some time for yourself to enjoy more books, and best of luck on your sequel :)

Judith Burney

Betty Neals was one of the most prolific authors ever of clean romance novels. She wrote over 130 books before she passed away. Her books are available to purchase as e-books on Amazon. You can find her paperback books on e-bay and in second hand book stores.

Thank you for sharing, Judith! :) We’ll have to add her to the list!


I LOVE Betty Neels! When I was a teenager, I was reading her novels as fast as she was putting them out. Yes, that’s how old I am! :)


I love Judith McNaught she’s a very talented author


Where can I find romance novels of the 1980s? Such as Robyn Donald,s eg Captives of the Past?

Hi Kogi! There are some on Amazon , but there are also many on ThriftBooks available as inexpensive paperbacks. I hope this helps!

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If the Romance Writers of America can implode over racism, no group is safe

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Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Colorado Boulder

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Christine Larson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Over the past month, Romance Writers of America, one of the country’s largest writing associations, with over 9,000 members, has erupted in a race-related scandal.

The controversy began when diversity activist and romance writer Courtney Milan, in a pointed tweet, criticized racial stereotypes that appeared in a book by a fellow member. Writers took sides. A punishment was handed down. Backlash ensued.

Now the very existence of the 40-year-old organization is in doubt. But you’d never know it from the cheeky media coverage, which hasn’t been able to resist casting the controversy as a battle between forlorn lovers.

CNN , for instance, describes the Romance Writers of America as “more scandalized than a dowager countess finding her headstrong niece alone on the lap of a rakish duke,” while NBC News tells us there’s “lots of passion but not too much love” among the writers.

As a former journalist, I get the appeal of a saucy lead. But as a scholar who’s spent nearly a decade studying romance writers and their networks, I see how portraying the incident as a catfight or a relationship gone wrong oversimplifies the controversy, which has serious implications for the rest of the publishing industry – and beyond.

It all falls apart

To briefly recap what happened : In August, Romance Writers of America member Courtney Milan, who is Chinese American, Twitter-shamed a novel written by a white member, calling it a “racist mess” for its depiction of Asian women.

The book’s author filed an ethics complaint, accusing Milan of bullying and damaging her business prospects. In December, Milan was suspended from the organization for a year and banned from future leadership positions.

The result shocked almost everyone involved. Milan has been a vocal and effective advocate for inclusion. In protest, nine members of the board resigned , including eight women of color. The president and executive director quit. The RITA Awards – the Oscars of romance publishing – were canceled, while major publishers pulled their sponsorship from the annual conference.

A tradition of support

Here’s why it matters: For 40 years, romance writers have been successfully pushing back against second-class treatment in the publishing industry.

My research suggests this is due to their surprisingly effective – and somewhat counterintuitive – approach to social networking and support.

Unlike other professional organizations, they welcome novices, share trade secrets and readily exchange advice about how to leverage new technology to advance their careers. These tactics have helped authors improve the terms of their publishing contracts, pioneer new promotional techniques and form a grassroots network of writers that can quickly adapt to changes in the market.

Disrespect and exclusion united romance authors in the first place. The Romance Writers of America was formed in 1980 , when a diverse group of white, black and Latina women writers got fed up with being dismissed by mostly male agents and editors. In an era before email, the group managed to build a far-reaching network of women authors and editors who encouraged one another and taught each other to succeed.

The group’s efforts eventually led to some serious wins.

For instance, many romance authors write under several pseudonyms, which create distinctive brands for their various series. For decades, the romance publisher Harlequin didn’t let authors own the rights to their own pseudonyms. That meant if authors changed publishers, they couldn’t bring along their pen names and the fans who followed them, which hurt their ability to negotiate good terms. But in 2002, the Romance Writers of America – under President Shirley Hailstock, who is black – persuaded Harlequin to let authors keep their own pseudonyms, even when they switched publishers.

Then, when e-books and digital self-publishing came along, the group’s tradition of advice sharing and innovation catapulted the careers of romance writers. My research shows that romance writers’ median income nearly doubled after the explosion of self-publishing. This took place at a time when authors in other genres saw massive declines in income.

Diverse writers still left behind

But the group’s gains have not been equally shared by all authors.

In my study of more than 4,000 romance authors, I found romance authors of color earned about 38% of white romance authors in 2014. Another study found that only about 8% of traditionally published romance novels are written by authors of color. Until last summer, no black writer had won a RITA . In interviews, writers of color told me about some stunningly racist comments from editors at romance conferences that the organization failed to publicly address.

Furthermore, while 97% of Romance Writers of America members are women , only 14% are people of color.

These statistics mirror those of the publishing industry as a whole. According to a forthcoming report for the Authors Guild that I wrote, authors of color across all publishing categories earn about half the median income of white authors. Roughly 80% of book editors are white . Authors of color write just 7% of children’s books , while black authors pen only 2% to 3% of stories in science fiction magazines.

When publishing organizations attempt to change, the backlash can be swift. In perhaps the the most glaring example, in 2015, a set of right-wing, anti-diversity science fiction authors known as the Sad Puppies formed a voting bloc to try to prevent diverse authors from winning at the annual Hugo awards, science-fiction’s most prestigious award ceremony.

What could have been

The Romance Writers of America has tried prioritize inclusiveness over the past few years.

Members – including Milan – sought reform by openly talking about issues on social media while also utilizing the organization’s traditional, behind-the-scenes networking. Vociferous Twitter debates over diversity ensued; the hashtag #RitasSoWhite circulated; bestselling authors used their award acceptance speeches or their prominent platforms to call for fair treatment for authors regardless of race, sexual orientation or ability.

Moved by these efforts, the membership elected a very diverse board in 2019, with nearly half made up by authors of color. Judging procedures for the RITAs were changed, and other diversity measures adopted. Three women of color won RITAs last August, and 20 out of the 30 speakers or winners at the ceremony made it a point to celebrate diverse authors.

In the end, however, it wasn’t enough. For many, the ruling against Milan was the last straw. The fallout, which includes the disbanding of the Las Vegas chapter on Jan. 20, continues.

Taken together, these events suggest that even organizations that seem to be addressing issues of inclusion in good faith are susceptible to fracturing. Either that, or exclusion is so deeply ingrained in certain institutions that it can’t ever be adequately addressed – and the entire organization needs to be torn down.

This could be bad news for other predominantly white groups and industries trying to evolve. Witness the ongoing struggles of the film industry to diversify , the continued predominantly white male makeup of Silicon Valley or the bitter divide over the organizers and participants in the Women’s March . All have faced calls for change. To many, the results have been unsatisfactory.

For a time, the Romance Writers of America seemed to be showing that change could occur from within. Now that seems increasingly far-fetched.

Whatever happens, this controversy can serve as a lesson about the profound challenges of building relationships and instituting organizational change in the digital age.

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Harlequin Corporate

Company Information

Harlequin was founded in 1949 and has experienced more than 70 years of success as a leading publisher of books for women.

Leadership Team

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Craig Swinwood CEO Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada

Craig Swinwood was appointed Publisher and CEO of Harlequin in January 2014, and is responsible for Harlequin’s north American Publishing and Operations. In 2017, leadership of HarperCollins Canada was added to his responsibilities. Prior to this, Craig served as the Chief Operating Officer for Harlequin. Craig joined Harlequin in 1987 as a Sales Representative and, subsequently, held progressively more senior roles in Sales and Marketing. Born and raised in Montreal, Craig is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, where he completed his Executive MBA at the Ivey business school in 2011.

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Christine Greco Vice-President Human Resources

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Shari Hosaki Vice-President General Counsel & Secretary

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Brent Lewis Executive Vice-President & Publisher, Harlequin Brand Group

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Leo MacDonald Senior Vice-President Sales & Marketing HarperCollins Canada

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Kirk Marshall Chief Financial Officer HarperCollins Canada & Harlequin

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Loriana Sacilotto Executive Vice-President & Publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing

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Iris Tupholme Senior Vice-President / Executive Publisher HarperCollins Canada

Our History

How harlequin became romance.

When Richard H. G. Bonnycastle, a former Arctic explorer with the Hudson Bay Company, launched Harlequin Books in Winnipeg in 1948, he had little interest in building a publishing empire around romance novels. Early in its history, Harlequin published inexpensive reprints of detective stories, cookbooks, westerns, and a smattering of tragic love stories.

When Bonnycastle’s wife, Mary, took on editorial duties in the 1950s, she focused on the vast untapped market of female readers in Canada who loved reading British romance novels. She discovered that her favorite novels were published by a British firm called Mills & Boon, which had been publishing romances since 1908. She contacted the firm and asked to acquire paperback rights to some of its romances.

Under Mary Bonnycastle’s guidance, Harlequin purged any potentially racy content from the Mills & Boon books and established a template for its own editions. The plot often involved a chance meeting in an interesting setting, a courtship that allowed both parties to overcome personal obstacles, and a happy denouement, almost inevitably involving marriage.

The formula worked. From Harlequin’s first reprint of a Mills & Boon romance, Anne Vinton’s The Hospital in Buwambo, there was a ready audience for chaste love stories that took place in exotic or historical settings.


Lawrence Heisey, a former soap salesman who had been appointed president of Harlequin in 1971, revolutionized romance publishing by distributing Harlequin romances to supermarkets and department stores, where they would be right at the fingertips of Canadian and American homemakers. The company often gave away one book as a free gift with the purchase of household items such as kitchen cleaners or napkins, hoping that shoppers would become hooked and buy the rest of the series.

By 1975, Harlequin had purchased British romance publisher Mills & Boon, and seventy percent of its sales came from outside of Canada.

Despite an early resistance to explicit sex scenes, Harlequin’s winning plot formula and marketing strategies fostered the company’s spread across the globe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Harlequin employees gave away more than 720,000 books at border checkpoints across the Eastern Bloc. Just two years later, Harlequin had sold seven million romance novels in Hungary alone and reached $10 million in sales in the Czech Republic in 1992. By 1995, it had released 550,000 copies of its titles in Mandarin Chinese, paving the way for the opening of offices across the world, from Tokyo to Mumbai.


By the 1990s, Harlequin had become synonymous with romance novels, grown the category into a score of successful subgenre lines—from the historical to the contemporary and the sweetly romantic to the sensually passionate—opened offices around the world and seen its books made available in more than 100 countries and over 30 languages. Now the publisher looked to move beyond romance novels and expand the breadth of its editorial into all genres of fiction for women.

In 1994 Harlequin launched MIRA Books, its first mainstream commercial fiction imprint. MIRA offered readers thrillers, suspense novels, small town dramas, macabre paranormals and more complex, involved romances. In addition to acquiring existing authors from other publishing houses, MIRA allowed the publisher the opportunity to lift authors who had honed their craft and build sizeable followings in Harlequin’s category romance lines and give them the canvas to expand their vision and stretch their wings in a trade program. MIRA’s ability to create bestselling novels and franchises also made the imprint very attractive to debut authors.

Four years later, MIRA Books was joined by Love Inspired, an inspirational fiction imprint, as Harlequin moved beyond the mainstream and into niche markets. In 2004 Harlequin launched HQN Books, its bestseller romance trade program, allowing the publisher to introduce its top romance authors to mainstream audiences. In 2009, two more imprints were established—Harlequin TEEN, capturing the imagination of young adult readers and Carina Press, a digital-first adult fiction imprint that allowed the publisher to explore subgenres of traditional genres and push beyond conventional boundaries.

In 2016, Harlequin continued its expansion of trade publishing by launching two new imprints—Park Row Books, which is dedicated to publishing voice-driven and thought-provoking books across a variety of genres, from mainstream literary fiction and book club fiction to literary suspense and narrative nonfiction, and Graydon House Books, a select hardcover and trade paperback imprint showcasing commercial women’s fiction with a relationship element woven through. In 2017 Hanover Square Press was launched to publish compelling, original fiction and narrative nonfiction, including crime, thrillers, high-concept fiction, history, journalism and memoir.

Harlequin has scaled fresh heights with its new imprints. Multiple #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller placements, overseas triumphs, films and television shows adapted from its novels have all served to help transform the company from the dominant romance publisher into a leading publisher of books for a wide range of readers and tastes.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

At Harlequin, we are committed to publishing diverse and inclusive voices so that readers see themselves reflected in the books we publish. We work to foster a culture of respect, openness, support and belonging where our employees, authors and publishing partners feel welcome to express and reflect the voices, experiences and thoughts of a diverse society.

As a publisher and as an employer, we embrace a broad definition of diversity and we aim to include people of all ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations, ages, classes, religions, national origins and disabilities. As an employer partner of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and Pride at Work Canada, Harlequin employees have access to resources and training to further support being an open, accepting and welcoming place to work and to publish.

We are proud to publish talented and bestselling authors representing many backgrounds, communities and cultures. Harlequin offers a broad range of content – including romance fiction across subgenres, psychological thrillers, crime novels and speculative fiction, young adult novels, commercial literary fiction and narrative nonfiction – enabling authors with diverse perspectives to share their stories. We publish inclusive romance stories with LGBTQ+ characters in imprints across our publishing program, including Carina Press, Carina Adores, several Harlequin Series imprints, and Inkyard Press to name a few.

We welcome all authors to the Harlequin community and are actively working to further broaden diversity and representation in our publishing programs. We reach out to authors by calling for submissions for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship . We organize #RomanceIncludesYou pitch events and participate in external pitch events that connect editors with writers in marginalized communities. We accept unagented romance story submissions and encourage authors in underrepresented communities to include #RomanceIncludesYou with their story submission to quickly bring these submissions to our editors’ attention. We have established a scholarship program through four writing programs in Canada and the United States to foster diverse voices and emerging talent.

We further extend our outreach through involvement with writer’s conferences, events and festivals that promote diversity in publishing, including:

We act on promotional opportunities to amplify diverse voices and stories, and work to ensure that book promotions are inclusive so that readers see themselves reflected in the books we publish.

As we work to publish more stories by authors in underrepresented communities, we recognize the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for greater representation in publishing by Black authors. We are working to acquire and further promote stories by Black authors in several ways:

With input from employees, initiatives have been developed to remove barriers and better attract and retain a diverse workforce, including offering paid internship positions for new graduates interested in working in publishing. Anti-racism training and education is provided to employees to raise awareness and further build an open and inclusive culture for our staff, authors and partners.

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In Literary Organizations, Diversity Disputes Keep Coming

Conflicts over race, culture and inclusion have roiled the Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and other groups devoted to books and literature.

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Attendees at a 2012 Romance Writers of America party. The organization drew fire this month for awarding a novel that critics said “romanticized genocide.”

By Elizabeth A. Harris

A rescinded award. Board members resigning in anger. And many public apologies.

This has been some of the fallout over accusations of racism or exclusion at several literary organizations over the past year and a half, including the Romance Writers of America, the National Book Critics Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In each instance, these organizations have bumped up against a moment in the country when greater accountability is being demanded, perhaps especially in an industry that is generally both fairly liberal and largely white.

“These literary organization are a microcosm of our larger society with all kinds of viewpoints and life experiences contesting for influence,” said Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of the free-speech organization PEN America. “Just as is happening right now in our politics and out on the street in protest, sometimes the dust-ups are getting pretty nasty.”

Among the most recent conflicts was one at the Romance Writers of America, which earlier this month rescinded an award given to the 2020 novel “At Love’s Command” over complaints that it “ romanticized genocide ” against Native Americans. In the opening scene of the novel, the book’s hero participates in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, in which the United States Army killed hundreds of unarmed members of the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota, including women and children.

The book’s publisher, Bethany House, said it was “saddened by the offense caused” by the novel, but defended the contents of the book and its author, Karen Witemeyer. In a statement, it said the book’s hero spends the rest of his life trying to atone for his part in the massacre.

“The death toll, including noncombatant Lakota women and children, sickens him, and he identifies it as the massacre it is and begs God for forgiveness for what he’s done,” Bethany House said. “We regret that some public reports have selectively portrayed the narrative as endorsing the violent actions in the character’s past. That is not the case.”

Ms. Witemeyer said in an email that she did not agree with the group’s decision to rescind the award but said, “I understand why they felt compelled to take such action, and I harbor no resentment toward them.”

The award, which the book received in the Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements category, is a part of a new series of Romance Writers of America prizes. Called the Vivian Awards — named for Vivian Stephens, a Black woman who was one of the group’s founders — they replaced the annual Rita awards for excellence in the genre. The Ritas were canceled last year in the aftermath of a racism dispute that upended the organization , resulting in the departure of its leadership and board.

LaQuette, an author and the president of the R.W.A.’s board of directors, said the Houston-based trade organization had made a number of changes since the dispute, including revamping its code of ethics and bringing in diversity experts to speak with its new leadership and members.

“It is our greatest hope that we can create a safe space for all writers,” LaQuette, who goes by one name, said. “It took us 40 years to get here. It’s going to take a little bit for us to turn the ship around.”

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and American Booksellers Association, two other industry groups, also faced criticism this summer.

In June, the society’s chief equity and inclusion officer issued a statement condemning antisemitism in response to a rise in hate crimes, but did not also make a statement condemning Islamophobia. She resigned in the ensuing backlash and apologized . She later told Newsweek that she was harassed online and received death threats. The society declined to comment for this article.

The American Booksellers Association apologized this month for two recent incidents. In the first, a staff member filling in for someone on vacation was assembling a best-seller list and included the cover image from the book “Blackout,” by the right-wing media personality Candace Owens, in place of a Y.A. novel with the same title that was jointly written by six popular authors. In the second instance, the association included “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” in a box of books it mailed to members. Publishers pay the association to include certain books, and it has been its policy not to review them so that they do not decide the titles members have access to.

In a letter to its members, Allison Hill, the association’s chief executive, said the organization would review its box mailing policy, create a new diversity, equity, inclusion and access manager position, and donate to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, among other measures.

Last summer, the president and board chairman of the Poetry Foundation resigned after an open letter signed by more than 1,800 people criticized the foundation’s statement about the Black Lives Matter movement as too weak. Around the same time, several board members at the National Book Critics Circle resigned after one board member accused another of making racist comments as the board discussed what to say in a statement supporting antiracism.

Both organizations said they have since made a number of changes aimed at making the groups more inclusive and elevating more diverse authors, in addition to appointing new leadership.

Criticism of these groups have generally taken place on social media, especially Twitter, where complaints that might have been more easily ignored or dealt with quietly in the past can quickly pick up steam.

“My guess would be that institutions have been challenged over practices in the past that have not been inclusive or reflective,” said Michelle T. Boone, who in April was named president of the Poetry Foundation. “The difference is, more recently the calling-out has been done in a much more public way.”

Ms. Nossel, the PEN America C.E.O., said that while many public battles these days are framed in terms of accountability, proportionality can often get lost.

“One of the things that’s troubling about some of these instances is there is very little capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation, even among people who seem to be of good will,” she said, adding: “When the accountability is driven by a firestorm on social media, the notion of proportionality goes out the window because nothing short of a complete repudiation is going to satisfy an audience from afar that’s really not immersed in the facts and can’t really assess motives. It can mean a default to the most draconian outcome.”

The controversies last June, at places like the National Book Critics Circle, took place as protesters demanded racial justice across the United States, but also amid turmoil specifically within the publishing world. A hashtag, #PublishingPaidMe , circulated online, encouraging Black and non-Black authors to publicly compare their pay to highlight compensation disparities. According to a survey released that year by the children’s book publishers Lee & Low Books, the publishing work force was more than three-quarters white.

It is against this backdrop, some believe, that conflicts at so many literary organizations should be understood.

“It’s the publishing industry,” said Farrah Rochon, an author and former board member at the Romance Writers of America. “That bleeds down into what you’re seeing in these various organizations. That’s where it starts.”

Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.


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