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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Love Letter Conference recap

When I went to Berlin and the Loveletter magazin conference, I am not sure what I expected. What  I hand not realised was how warm, generous and open hearted the mainly German readers were.
It was crazy but oh so much fun.
My experience started with a botched manicure. A trainee asked me in the departure lounge if I wanted one. I chose scarlet. It look beautiful. Unfortunately she told me her mother was a M&B fanatic and I dove into my bag for a book, forgetting I had wet nails. Smudging resulted. No time to repair. I tried to remove it. My nails were lightly stained scarlet for the rest of the journey.
Spandau where the conference was held is lovely. It escaped bombing during WW2 and traces of the medieval city remain. My hotel was clean, functional and ideally placed -- right between the conference centre and where the gala dinner was held on Saturday night.
I walked about on Friday evening, soaking in the atmosphere.
At Saturday morning breakfast, I encountered a very lovely German translator. She does the translations for Sherry Thomas, Courtney Milan and a number of other historical authors. It was really interesting to hear how she tries to get the word play right  etc.
I then walked to the conference centre and encountered my friends from realms on Our Booksheleves. they have done reviews of my books in the past and I was so pleased to finally meet all of them in person. They are so much fun. After chatting with them, I went straight to work. First up a historical panel with Maya Banks and Lara Adrian. Sandy Schwab whom I've known online for years did the moderating as she speaks both German and English. We spoke about how we individually approach doing research. Both Maya and Lara only write medieval whereas I write in a number of time periods. The hall was packed. I also met a Cora editor (Bettina) whom I seen at breakfast who was very nice.
Unfortunately Cora editorial director was ill and so was not at the conference. She was supposed to do the next panel with Maya, Nalini Singh and me on series romance. Luckily I have done enough talks on HMB for libraries that talking about series and the HMB history did not bother me.  Bettina joined in from the audience and helped out. It was interesting to learn about the differences between some of the markets. Some things I already knew -- for example cowboys are not popular heroes in Europe. They are hugely popular in the US. Harlequin buys with a worldwide audience in mind and some books are more suitable to one market than another but there is always a broad range of books.
After that it was time for my first blind date. I had worried about these beforehand but should have saved my energy. The women were so totally lovely. I passed out some of my books and we just chatted. Several were real Downton Abbey fans and are totally excited about the upcoming continuity from HMB.
After that, it got crazy for awhile as people wanted me to sign their catalogues and kept coming up to talk to me about my shoes. Books and shoes were two recurring themes of my conference.
There was a v formal presentation from the Cora marketing people and it was amusing
I did a reading late in the day and again the small group was utterly charming.
Dinner was at the Zitadelle Cellars. The food was fantastic and company divine.
Sunday started with a panel on trends. I think the published authors were all of the same mind -- the only true trend is to write a story that engages the reader. If you hook thoroughly hook your reader and create a page turning read, you will find an audience. It is best to write with your heart.
Again a blind date where I met some lovely ladies. Later I played a favourite German word game -- City, Country, River where I met more wonderful readers.
My last duty was to sign books and my goodness did I sign. 140 books in little over an hour, plus bags, photographs, laminated covers including a cover of The Perfect Concubine.
After it was all over, I walked back to the hotel with another author. I thought I'd call home and have a bit of a rest before supper. I spoke to my husband and son, put the phone down, closed my eyes and woke up at 2 am  so no supper for me.
The thing which will linger long in my memory is the warmth and friendliness of the attendees. It was just so inspiring to see all these women (and a few men!) who love romance books.
I can't wait to go again next year. Kris Alice Hohls has promised another conference and I am so there. It was just a wonderful experience and I am so glad I went.

2 comments:

Tora Williams said...

If you hook thoroughly hook your reader and create a page turning read, you will find an audience. It is best to write with your heart.

That's just the encouragement I needed - thanks! I was beginning to feel discouraged because I'm writing about a more unusual period in history.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks for doing this Michelle...love hearing about readers in different countries.
lx