When I heard that Allison Lyons, Editor, Harlequin Intrigue in the New York office was heading out to Seattle, Washington, October 26-28 to attend the Emerald City Writers' Conference, I asked her to post about it—and she was kind enough to agree.
Here are Allison's thoughts and impressions:
Overall, I thought the conference was wonderful. The editor/agent co-chairs, Joleen Wieser and Gina Robinson, did a wonderful job of making all six of us publishing professionals who attended not only feel welcome, but they also made sure a reasonable working balance and pace was maintained, which was appreciated.
Friday night there was an editor/agent panel where each of us presented what we were looking for and then took questions from the audience. There were about 250 attendees, so there were a lot of questions! Attendees seemed more focussed on querying the agents than the editors—perhaps there were more at that stage in their career—but afterwards, people approached me to pick my brain on a number of issues.
On Saturday, I had two sets of group appointments and found that people were writing on a wide variety of things—there wasn't any specific genre I got pitched more than others. Since my focus is romantic suspense, I was happy to get a few of those ideas presented to me and wound up asking for about three or four projects that could fit Harlequin Intrigue guidelines.
If an idea didn't suit anything I was looking for—for example fantasy, which could work for Luna—I would redirect the prospective author to the right editor here. The writers were appreciative of my time and anything I could do to help them achieve their dreams. As there are a lot of different opportunities at the many imprints under Harlequin Enterprises, I was glad to be able help to make the connections.
In the afternoon there was a bookfair, which made it easy for me to find authors I'd missed seeing since they were seated alphabetically to sign. There are a lot of Harlequin Enterprises authors in the Pacific Northwest!
That night, the editors were taken out to a lovely dinner with the board members. Outgoing president Pat White (a Harlequin Intrigue and Silhouette Nocture author) was very warm and helpful in telling me where to visit while I stayed in Seattle the next couple of days. Everyone there seemed thrilled that we were able to attend and made us feel as though we really helped make the conference special.
Some of the authors in attendance included Christina Dodd, who was the keynote dinner speaker on Friday, Jayne Ann Krentz, the keynote luncheon speaker on Saturday, Stella Cameron, Megan Chance, Julia Quinn, Alice Sharpe, Jan Hambright, Pat White, Terri Reed, Susan Andersen, Cherry Adair, Jane Porter, Susan Mallery, Ann Roth, Ann Defee, Susan Lyons, and a lot of others! HQE authors attending represented an incredible scope of lines, from a number of Harlequin and Silhouette series as well as Steeple Hill, MIRA and HQN. There was an editor from Grand Central Publishing and from Dorchester as well as several agents, so a variety of publishing and agent perspectives were offered.
In terms of hot topics, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not Historicals are dead. For those Historical fans, you'll be glad to know, according to the group, they're not! And many people seemed interested in writing paranormals—good for Silhouette Noctures!
What a wonderful bunch of writers--whether published, or yet to be published, it was interesting talking to them. I had a great time.
And just to let you know a little bit more about Allison, she began her career at Harlequin as an editorial assistant on the Silhouette Intimate Moments (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense). Editorial is really an apprenticeship, and now, after nearly a decade and several promotions, she’s found a home at Harlequin Intrigue as an Editor.
Since romantic suspense is so popular, you can be sure that her desk is never empty. That said, even with an author base of 19 highly active writers, she still gets excited at the thought of finding new authors who come to Intrigue knowing how tough it is to get published, but who are willing to put in the time and effort to get it right. Her focus tends to be on romantic suspense submissions, but she’s open to hearing about projects that would fit any of Harlequin's lines.