My first session on Saturday morning was Maggie Seed’s talk about writing My Weekly Pocket Novels. Vivacious, fun, and friendly is how I’d describe the wonderful Maggie. She is so open to writers sending in their pocket novels (50,000 words) and absolutely loves escapism, romance, thrills, danger, conflict – and the heroine doesn’t have to be ‘nice’, or mega young! I might do a later post about this session.
I next went to hear Kate Harrison talk about the results of her recent survey into women’s fiction: ‘A Woman’s World? – the future of books by, and for, women'. Interesting, but no surprises. And, as you can imagine, a certain '50 Shades...’ book kept popping up in talks. It has sold 20 million copies around the world (2 mil in UK). But, overall, it seems readers are most looking for something thought-provoking, even if just a new way of finding love.
Then I had the first of my one-to-one sessions, with Gillian Green of Ebury Press. Very useful and encouraging, but I need to process her comments myself yet (she liked my novel’s idea)! After lunch, I went to her talk about ‘Boldly going where Ebury Fiction has not gone before...’ An interesting and informative overview of Ebury’s fiction – definitely worth looking at for anyone writing general fiction. And they seem to be fairly open to new submissions as they’re hoping to build their list.
Afterwards, I had my second one-to-one – with the overall editor of Mira. Again, it was a very interesting, encouraging and thought-provoking chat (and she liked my lyrical writing!). Still need to process her comments too. After coffee, I attended the Mira talk by three of their editors. It was informative and friendly. Again, they seem very open to new submissions for this more general imprint of Harlequin. They gave us ‘Ten things we hate about you’ and ‘Ten things you hate about us’.
Saturday evening was time to dress up and enjoy the Gala dinner and late-night kitchen parties!
Another friend, Gwen, and me
Bright and early on Sunday morning (or not, depending on how much wine people drank the night before), one of the first sessions was with the lovely American editor from Samhain Books. I’m so glad I attended this as it was a revelation. So many people think this is mainly an erotic fiction e-publisher, but they take just as many sweeter or more traditional romantic genre novels and they also print books over 50,000 words. I was also impressed with their whole ethos, publishing and marketing strategy. Definitely one I’ll be looking at more closely.
Next was another fascinating session from Tamsyn Murray about YA fiction ‘Going all the way? – YA comes of age’. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this either as it was so helpful and relevant to some of the ideas I have. Good discussion about how far is too far in writing about sex and other teenage problems in YA fiction. No definitive answer, I’m afraid, but lots of recommended published books to read, from those containing only implied physical relationship, to those that are very ‘full on’! As with adult fiction, it all comes down to character/plot/situation and the author’s own comfort zone.
The final session before lunch was a much-needed writing coach workshop with Sonia Duggan. Those of us attending had filled out a questionnaire before the conference and this session was all about ‘Getting to where you want to be’. Just what I needed to think about! It was useful up to a point and did force me to identify what’s holding me back from my ultimate goals, and to set some specific new goals.
After lunch, we had to get ready to travel back to Scotland, although a few more sessions were in place for those staying on that day. What can I say now? I’m thoroughly inspired, encouraged and raring to go. But first I’m catching up on emails, forums, blogs, FB and twitter, then I’ll clear the decks and use the next couple of weeks before holidays to write down what I want to achieve over the next couple of years.
And to start me off, I came home to 2 cheques, 1 PayPal payment, 1 email telling me a story has got through the first round of selections for an American anthology, 1 email telling me a story had an honourable mention in a comp, and only 1 rejection (from PF). Onwards and Upwards!