Friday, October 12, 2018

What I Learned at Midnight and Magnolias Writers' Conference.

Vonnie Davis
I'm almost back in the groove from my trip to Atlanta for the Midnight and Magnolias Conference. I spent my first day home holding my spoiled Shih Tzu Evie because she didn't seem content unless we were touching. Oh boy, can she give a pitiful whine. The second day was laundry and holding Evie. Day three, today as I write this, means grocery shopping and a little cleaning

Jam packed into all the holding and spoiling and crooning and holding was a lot of writing and editing--and self-analysis about where I want to go from here with my writing.

Warning: Rambling thoughts ahead!

At 70, I still can't decide what I want to do when I grow up. Am I going to lay aside what is "supposed" to sell and simply write what I want? Boy, would I like to write a political thriller. Yes, the pantser who loves writing comedy and steamy sexual tension would also like to pen a complicated, well-plotted, fast paced thriller.


And who would read it because I'd have to use a different name so the romance readers wouldn't buy it in error. Maybe I'll write it just for me. You know, to get it out of my system.

Before I ramble too much about feeling lost and wondering what to do next, let me share what I learned at Midnight and Magnolias.

  • 175 romance authors can make a lot of noise. Kind of like a swarm of bees on chocolate and steroids.
  • The Georgia Romance Writers certainly know how to be well-organized. They even had an app listing what was happening next and who was there. One could message another attendee. "Martha, I'm so glad you're here. Meet me in the main hallway so we can catch-up" I had two other ladies contact me like that. I'd never have known they were there without the app.
  • Serve women sandwich wraps, a bag of chips, and a cookie for lunch and they will bitch like nobody's business. I was shocked.
  • If you sign up for professional head shots, be prepared for most anything. Or maybe it was just me as the subject matter. I watched the author scheduled before my shoot pose in front of a backdrop. Me? I was escorted out of the room to the end of the bar to have half of my pictures taken and then taken into the ladies restroom (I kid you not!) for the other shots. She claimed the lighting was better in there. I found it hard to smile with all the added "sound effects." And I kept thinking I'd paid $90 for this unique experience. I'll share the best of the pictures when I get them.
  • Pitching to potential agents wasn't as bad as I thought. Yes, I almost cancelled my appointments because I'm not sure I want an agent. My writing schedule is fairly relaxed right now. Do I want to step back into the stress of deadlines, editor demands, and early morning writing sessions? I honestly don't know. Figuring I had nothing to prove, I sashayed into the "pitching room," sat down with an agent from Seymour Agency and said, "I'm a pitching virgin so be gentle with me and take your time." She nearly fell out of her chair laughing. Then asked for a query stating my publishing history, a synopsis of the unfinished book, and the first fifty pages. The next agent wants the same and the third asked for a full.
  • Christian publishers are hot for Romantic Suspense. Could I write for that market one of the agents asked. Sure, under a different name. I wouldn't want a little old church lady to grab a copy of my erotic "Mr OH" by mistake.
  • For grins and giggles I pitched to a Harlequin editor knowing I was not a category writer. She was so intrigued, she said she'd refer me to their other branch Graydon House. A select hardcover and trade paperback imprint dedicated to publishing book club worthy women's fiction. I'd need an agent to submit. But I could send HER the full for her to read and recommend if she liked it.
  • And there's no sight better than 175 romance writers OD'd on sugary desserts and wine dancing with abandon to "It's Raining Men...Hallelujah."
  • I need to attend more writing conferences. I took workshops in the criminal mind led by the supervising crime scene investigator of Atlanta; the world of an EMT and paramedic with a twenty pus year veteran of the job; how a K-nine unit works with a darling German Shepherd who showed us his sniffing talents; there's more to military heroes than SEALs presented by the wife of a submarine captain; how to keep the sexual tension going after the deed is done; the rise in sales of the audio book; and self-editing tips.

Vonnie Davis writes sizzling romance with an edge. 

Visit her at

Releasing in November, a novella as part of the "That Old Black Magic" series with other paranormal authors.


Leah St. James said...

Well, good for you for going through with your pitching sessions. Now you have options! And how exciting (but not surprising) to hear about all the interest! Please do share the headshots. (That sounds really....odd, but as always, something for a story some day!) I hope by now Evie is feeling more secure with you home. Sounds like a fabulous time all in all.

Margo Hoornstra said...

What a whirlwind! But then, raise your hand if you’re surprised. Not me. How great for you to have so many options. Congratulations. Though, as Leah said, not surprising. Now home to writing, cleaning and puppy cuddling. Enjoy your options and do keep us posted.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks Leah. I started to write my pitch and got so nervous about doing it. Just ramble, I thought. That's what you do best. So I did. I made thee agents laugh except for the one who asked for a "full." Me thinks her smiling muscles are frozen. She had the personality of a wet lettuce leaf. I can't see us being able to work together.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie, I'm so glad you had a good experience at the Con. Sounds like a good size...hate the huge ones with forced-marches around a conference center. Good experiences with the pitches, too. We knew you'd score. Also healthy to dance the night away. As for the suspense/thriller ideas...I say, go for it if it's on your bucket list...not different from a bucket list trip to Italy or a sky-diving adventure. You've got lots of buds in ROP who write this genre...and your Paris books have some thrilling stuff...I think your readers already know you are adventurous. And truly...intricate plots are a good for the brain...such a good feel to pull them off! We're behind you, friend!

Vonnie Davis said...

Oh to decide do I want an agent. They all asked me why I wanted an agent now when I'd done so well on my own. "I want bigger, better, deeper thinking publishers." (I think … I don't know.)

Jannine Gallant said...

Good for you, Vonnie! You made them laugh, and that's memorable. You stood out in the crowd. Go with your gut when it comes to what you want to do moving forward. Even if you decide not to sign with an agent, their comments on your book may give you some valuable insight. Or you may find the perfect fit. I wish you all the best with whatever you decide!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Vonnie it sounds like a wonderful time was had. I know your troubles with agents so hats off to you no matter what you decide.

Vonnie Davis said...

Rolynn, you're always so supportive. Thank you for being you. And this really goes for all the ROP ladies. What a super group of talented, heart-adopted writing sisters I have. Lucky me.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks Jannine. I'm wrapping up a few indie projects so I can sit back and plan. As for my writing career, I'm floundering. I miss having Calvin to talk all this over with. He had a way of settling my rambling mind and making me see things in a clearer, more positive vein. But I'll get it together. Sometime.

Vonnie Davis said...

Meeting other writers and hearing what all they were working on was great. We did have fun and I learned a lot. Always a good thing.

Andrea Downing said...

Vonnie I hope something comes of those pitches. The first time I pitched I had to read the blasted thing. It’s no fun tho it seems you had other good times ��

Vonnie Davis said...

I did have good times, Andrea. All the Roses authors sat together for meals. Rhonda treated us all to dinner our first night there at this great Italian restaurant. It was nice to catch up with the ones I knew and meet those I didn't.

Angela Adams said...

Vonnie, this conference sounds like it was an event made for you!

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Angela. I did enjoy it. All the noise was a bit of an overload for my senses. Every so often I went to my room for some quiet.

Diane Burton said...

Sorry I'm so late. You must have had a great time at the conference. Good for you for going. And what options you have. Great. Write that political thriller if it's calling to you. If not now, when??? Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.