Journal Entry – Day 3, July 12, 1996

Hello again!

Today marked the official opening of the RWA Conference. Judith McNaught gave an inspiring speech to a packed ballroom about writing, rejection, sales, promotion, and most importantly — writing about love for the love of it. Following her rousing speech, the actual sessions began. Nearly 40 separate seminars were offered today, including discussions by agents, publishers, and booksellers, and working sessions with such A-list authors as Judith McNaught, Sandra Brown, and Stella Cameron.

Other seminars of interest to writers included “From Leeches to Antiseptic Surgery,” “Guns: Contemporary and Historical,” and “The Lure of Medieval London.”

The sessions I attended today? A Q&A with Judith McNaught, a look at the mid-list, what to do about sagging middles (no, not sit-ups), and a hands-on workshop on plotting conducted by Stella Cameron. In addition to these seminars, I had extensive conversations with Jill Barnett and Regency author Patricia Wynn.

My chat with Jill Barnett, (author of Bewitching, Dreaming, Imagine, among others), is definitely the highlight of the conference so far. Talking with the author who practically invented the fairy/witch sub-genre was a thrill. Discovering that an upcoming book (Carried Away), breaks new ground in that it contains two sets of lead characters and two love stories was exciting as well. Jill is as funny as her books are, although the tragic loss of her husband some months ago is obviously still agonizing. Look for an extensive profile about Jill in the near future.

One topic Jill and I discussed was her editor, Linda Marrow (who I met at a cocktail party Pocket threw for 25 of its top authors later in the day). Linda’s “stable of authors” includes Jill Barnett, Julie Garwood, Jillian Hunter, Jude Deveraux, Kathryn Lynn Davis, and Judith McNaught. Wow — does this woman have taste?

When I had the chance to meet Linda that evening, she was very modest about her taste in choosing authors and said, “Wouldn’t everyone who read these women’s books publish them?” She has promised to talk to me about her authors and her 14 years in publishing soon.

Regency author Patricia Wynn was also a delight to talk with. Her first words to me were, “I love to write about what I don’t know. That’s why I write about the aristocracy.” That may be, but she was no country bumpkin either. Raised by a mother who was a reporter during the ‘40s and ‘50s, Patricia has always loved the written word.

She came to writing via international banking and veterinary school. Her Regency Bumble Broth sounds fascinating — a younger man in love with an older woman is based on a couple she knows. While in her book the man is 30 and the woman 38, the real life version features a 20-year age gap between a man in his 50s and a woman in her 70s. She is currently working on an epic historical love story that is nearly 2,000 pages in length.

The cap off of today’s events was the Pocket Books cocktail party. I spent a wonderful evening as the guest of Kathryn Lynn Davis at the Pocket party. Who did I meet there? Linda Lael Miller, Jillian Hunter (an author about whom Kathryn Lynn Davis had this to say, “Jillian merges Julie Garwood’s humor with an epic sense of depth”), Andrea Kane, and Jane Bonander.

Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day filled with seminars and interviews with terrifically talented women.

TTFN, Laurie Likes Books

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