Saturday, October 04, 2008

Jenyfer Matthews does the Women's Fiction Festival

Every year the Women’s Fiction Festival takes place in Matera, Italy. And, every year I spend a week being completely jealous of everyone who gets to go. This time around, author Jenyfer Matthews, was the focus of my jealousy, but she was kind enough to give an awesome recap when she got back so we can all live vicariously through her fabulous experience.


Picture it: a wildly talented but largely unknown romance author attends her first writers conference, hoping to snag an agent and better yet a book deal for her latest project on the strength of a face to face pitch. She arrives in Rome, exhausted and travel worn after a red eye flight, only to run into another author (YA) and online friend in the airport. YA author friend introduces romance author to her traveling companions: two literary agents, a romance editor, and a Hollywood producer / screenwriter and his lovely wife. Romance author spends the rest of the short flight to the conference town regretting her travel attire and lack of mascara.

Romance author ends up being adopted by the glam group. She ends up pitching her book to one agent over dinner her first night, shopping with the second agent and romance editor another morning - finding the perfect Italian leather shoes for the closing gala for only 10 euro - and tossing around ideas with the movie producer during happy hour. Romance author stays in a quaint cave-like hotel in the historic area of town, requiring her to walk home alone late at night through twisting cobblestone streets, following signs to The Museum of Torture to find her way, often after consuming large amounts of fantastic food and wine. (Insert great potential here for pratfalls and other physical comedy here) By end of conference, romance author is invited to submit her full manuscript for consideration by all with whom she has spoken. She sells the book and the movie rights for a huge advance and lives happily ever after.

Sounds like the premise for a kooky chick-lit book doesn't it? (The only thing missing from this above scenario is an affair with a sexy Italian man - and that was on offer too, only I didn't think my husband would approve.) Aside from the thus far fictitious HEA ending (though some might also quibble with the opening), the above is actually a summary of my experiences this weekend while attending the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy.

This was my first experience attending a writer's conference and I have to say I think I've been spoiled for all future conferences. The location was definitely a draw for me - not only is it a relatively quick flight from my home in Cairo, Egypt but Matera is a World Heritage Site and has been the backdrop for several films, most notably The Passion of Christ. When we weren't attending workshops, we were plied with food and drink - I hardly had time to work up an appetite between coffee break and happy hour buffets. But just in case you did still find yourself feeling peckish, the town was also having a food festival where you could sample and purchase local products. (I wasn't the only one who bought chunks of stinky cheese!)

The most amazing part of this conference however was the opportunity to speak to industry professionals in such a friendly atmosphere. I had arranged appointments with the agents and editors before arriving but in the end I really didn't need the appointments because there were so many opportunities to talk to people otherwise. The size of the conference - less than a hundred attendees at a guess - was what made that level of casual interaction possible.

If spending time socializing with authors, agents, and editors in such lovely surroundings isn't convincing enough, here is another good reason to go to Matera - Italian designer leather goods. Need I say more?

Jenyfer Matthews
www.jenyfermatthews.com

18 comments:

krisyankee said...

Dang nabit - now I'm jealous all over again! Sounds like a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing, Jenyfer, and I hope you snag an agent from all of those requests.

Terry Odell said...

Fantastic accounting, and conferences are such fun, aren't they? It's always nice to go someplace where people don't think you're crazy if you have voices in your head.

I'm off to Seattle for the Emerald City conference -- hope I fare as well.

Christie Craig said...

Okay...I'm so jealous.

What a great place to have a conference.

Thank you so much for sharing Jenyfer.

CC

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Kris - come to Matera next year and I'll draw you a map to the shoe store ;)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Terry - have a great time in Seattle!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Christie - please start saving your pennies now. The only thing that might have made this conference more fun was having you there to play with!

Keri Ford said...

what fun! good luck with your requsts.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Thanks, Keri!

Teri Thackston said...

Jenyfer,
I am sooooo jealous. What a wonderful experience for you. Glad you had an amazing time.
Teri

Gemma Halliday said...

I sooooooo want to go next year! Hmmm... think there's any way we can convince Dorchester that they need to send all of us dangerous divas next year? ;)

~Gemma

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Teri- It was an amazing experience. Not sure how I could ever top it.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Gemma - maybe all of you from Killer Fiction could put together a "killer" workshop???

Dara said...

I'm green with envy! The pictures look so beautiful and it sounds like you had an amazing time.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Dara - my pictures don't do it justice. Matera was really a beautiful place.

Estella said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Estella - it's been a week since I've been home again and I'm still a little giddy :)

Christie Craig said...

I'm sure it would take a lot of pennies, but it still might be worth it.

CC

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Christie - *definitely* worth it :)