by Dana Grimaldi, Associate Editor
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Writers, editors and agents gather at the North York Civic Centre, ready for the first ever conference held by the Toronto Romance Writers. Everyone’s excited for a day of sessions, pitches and book talk! Also, perhaps, for coffee and pastries!
I attend my first session of the day, Worldbuilding 101 by Vicki Essex/V.S. McGrath. It’s packed with helpful information, including advice on setting constraints and limits on your fictional world.
Harlequin authors Mary Sullivan, Stefanie London and Amy Ruttan lead a session on category romance. Lots of great tips for aspiring category romance authors!
Pitch sessions! I talk to three authors about their current projects, all of which sound fantastic! One author promises to send me the full manuscript and I help the other two authors (whose projects aren’t targeted at the series I acquire for, Heartwarming and Dare) decide which series would be the best fit for their books.
After her amazing session on Writing the Happily Ever Afters of Under-Represented Voices, Uzma Jalaluddin is kind enough to sign my copy of her book, Ayesha at Last!
At the publishers spotlight, I answer questions along with other editors and agents. It can be challenging to prepare for a panel session because you never know what questions you’ll be asked. Writing craft questions? Submissions questions? Questions about the business? Thank goodness I brought notes!!!
Author Farah Heron tells a rapt audience that using personality tests can help create real and vivid characters—all while taming a rogue PowerPoint presentation.
At the reception, everyone bids on raffle baskets filled with books, books, and more books.
Dinner is delicious, and after we’ve eaten, the results of the Catherine contest are announced. Congrats to all the winners!!! Molly O’Keefe gives an electrifying keynote address. Her topic? Why romance novels are so important. Sharing stories from her own life—both funny and heartbreaking—Molly says that she writes romance because it makes people happy. This seems like a simple answer, but considering how important a story can be to someone going through a tough time, I can’t think of a better reason to write happily ever afters.
And speaking of uplifting stories, this month brings four new Heartwarming books from four talented authors. Coming Home to You by M. K. Stelmack, Her Lawman Protector by Patricia Johns, Tennessee Vet by Carolyn McSparren and The Rancher’s Redemption by Melinda Curtis.
Do you have a favorite cheer-up book? Is there a story that helps you feel better every time you read it? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!