I just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference that was held this year in Dallas, Texas. It was a whirlwind of workshops, being updated on the publishing industry, re-connecting with writer friends and meeting new ones. Fresh new faces and voices are making their way onto the scene which is always exciting.
My Harlequin books do not carry a faith thread, but I find the ACFW conference a fantastic resource. I also feel most comfortable with this wonderful group of writers.
The first evening a genre dinner is held, where authors are encouraged to dress the part of one of their characters. It is a fun ice-breaker and conversation starter. This is a picture of me in a Victorian shop-keepers garb–a character from my new Western coming out in December. (Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs) Perhaps the hat is a bit too fancy with the netting…I’m beginning to think I have very little fashion sense (and my current hairstyle does not lend itself to the 1800s!) The woman standing with me is a good friend and writes Biblical fiction and so is dressed in B.C. style.
I participated in a panel with my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, and a few other Seymour Agency authors. At first I balked…the books I have had published are historical western romance–not Christian fiction–and because of that I didn’t think anyone would want to hear what I had to say. But the topic was what to do when your manuscript is rejected and I do know something about that. Although a few authors have the first manuscript they submit accepted for publication, that is not the norm. I came the “normal” route, and had a few pearls of wisdom that I could pass on to new writers. A lot of it has to do with persistence and continuing to refine the craft of writing. It is always a comfort to hear the “war stories” of bigger writers…J.K.Rowling and John Grisham…and know that their first manuscripts were also rejected a number of times.
I was happy to learn that Westerns are as big as ever in this crazy publishing business! Readers love them, publishers want them, and the writers who enjoy writing them have a wonderful future! How is that for good news! There is just something about the American West, the cowboy, and wide-open spaces that calls to people. In an industry where things come and go (remember Chick Lit?), Westerns are here to stay.