October 1-3 was the Emerald City Romance Writers Conference, which is one of the biggest writing conferences on the West Coast. With 250 attendees and a ton of published authors, it's a great opportunity to attend workshops, meet other writers, chat with published authors and pitch to agents and editors.
My weekend began early though -- as I host an event for authors and regional library staff that I've cheekily titled, "Read-Dating with Romance Authors". Librarians and other staff members have the opportunity to sit down and talk with the "pros" about the various sub-genres, their work and trends in romance. Every fifteen minutes the librarians move to a different table.
There were gift bags, swag (promotional items), great fabric bags and books from Harlequin, magazines from Romantic Times Book Reviews, Romance Sells and giveaways from Romance Writer's of America. The authors attending donated books, snacks and other great stuff.
Barbara Vey of Publisher's Weekly, (Beyond Her Book) visited with us and even wrote about it on her blog the next day.
It was a great event, and I couldn't do it without all the fabulous authors and my special helpers, Mary Buckham and Pat White!
At the conference, Alyssa Day gave a wonderful keynote speech on Friday night. She brought the crowd from laughter to tears. Her analogy to "Cinderella" was priceless.
Cherry Adair awarded the participants in the "Write the Damned Book" challenge. It was wonderful to see so many women lined up. Cherry motivates a lot of writers with the challenge every year.
Then we heard from the editors and agents about what they were looking for, what excites them and where they see the market going.
Market Report: Contemporary romance is back, and pretty much everyone is looking for it.
Paranormal continues to be hot, but those present were looking for something different from vampires and werewolves, such as witches and different types of creatures. None of the editors were looking for Steampunk, but all of the agents were interested in finding out more. (Great news for me!) At least two people mentioned fantasy romance and Meredith Bernstein thinks it's time time for some type of story that involves the degradation of the planet, climate change and ecology.
Meredith Bernstein, looking for mainstream women's fiction, (Eat, Pray, Love), thrillers, suspense, literary fiction, Young Adult and romance with a twist. Came to the conference hoping to meet the next NY Times bestselling author.
Michelle Grajkowski (Three Seas), all of the same types of books that Meredith mentioned.
Emmanuelle Morgen (Judith Ehrlich Literary Agency), high concept women's fiction, paranormal thrillers, historical fiction, urban fantasy, all types of romance, Young Adult, esp. would like to see a contemporary romance set in a small town.
Marcy Posner (Folio Literary Agency), middle grade and young adult fiction, women's fiction, paranormal romance, historical fiction, mystery.
Editors present: Rose Hilliard, St. Martin's Press, all sub-genres of romance, (except Steampunk), women's fiction, Young Adult and humor.
Alex Logan (Grand Central), thrillers and women's fiction, contemporary romance.
Tessa Woodward (Harper Collins), dark paranormals, sexy historicals, fun contemporaries. Definitely not Westerns!
Since none of the editors present were especially interested in Steampunk, when I traded my appointment cards, (I had conflicts with programs I was going to present) I only took agent appointments. I really would love to sign with an agent, so I can focus on the writing and promotion and leave the selling to someone else.
I've learned not to put a lot of emotion into this pitching experience. I've had too many requests and too many rejections that say, "just not right for me"... so if I find someone I'd like to work with and they ask for a submission, I'll send the Steampunk partial to them.
And then I'll continue to write, because really -- that's the important thing.