11 July 2007

RWA and setting trends

I’m writing this on the way to Dallas and the Romance Writers of America National Conference. There are three reasons I’m going. One; find out the state of the historical market. Two; meet with my new Silhouette editor. Three: Two of my close friends are nominated for the RITA award, romance writing’s highest honor, and I plan to cheer them on.

I plan to report on my own blog what I hear as far as buzz goes for historicals and other markets. Tomorrow is the PAN session featuring book buyers from Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Levy (distributor) and Borders.
National conferences are where you hear about trends and what’s hot. Sometimes it seems as if the market is like a soccer game. There’s a ball and everyone is chasing after it. Wait! There’s a bestselling a sexy Regency vampire werewolf Navy Seal and who solves murder mysteries while time traveling back to ancient Scotland.

Next thing you know, everyone is writing the same, hoping to hone in on what’s hot.
There’s been various buzz about the historical market. There’s always talk. The market is flat. The market is not flat. As I write this, I’m thinking of Kathleen Woodiwiss, who died of cancer last week. What an amazing talent she was, and what a sad, sad loss. The Flame & the Flower was a groundbreaking book for historicals, and my first real romance. I remember finding it in my mom’s stash. I was 12, I think. It was pretty shocking. I asked my mom, “Mom, what’s a manhood?”

That must have been when she snatched the book back and muttered, “Something you don’t need to know about until you’re much, much older.”
Publication of The Flame & the Flower revitalized the historical market. Suddenly the big, thick romances were hip and selling fast. Despite what happens with the market, I believe there is always room for the rule-breaker, just as Kathleen Woodiwiss was. I think of the writers on this blog as the same. We write in various time settings, not because it’s popular but because we feel compelled to follow our hearts just as Ms. Woodiwiss did. We write because we cannot write. And that is the hallmark of a writer. It becomes as necessary as breathing.
Ms. Woodiwiss, thank you for all you’ve given readers of romance over the years. And thank you for daring to take the road less traveled, and setting the path before us.