It’s that time again:
Posh frock. Tick.
Comfortable shoes. Tick.
Business cards. Tick.
Information pack. Tick.
Chocolate biscuits. Tick.
Ooh. Hang on. Train this time. Jettison fizzy wine, books and chocolate biscuits. Too heavy to carry through London during a tube strike.
Yes, this weekend was the Romantic Novelists’ Conference. I hesitated almost too long about going but scraped in at the last minute. Wasn’t keen on fighting my way across from Paddington to Queen Mary College on the Mile End Road. Little did I suspect a strike on the underground and one on First Great Western.
Choosing to ignore the train I was booked on, trusty husband drove me to Warwick Parkway, where I caught one to Marylebone. Very civilised.
Sadly, the rugby scrum of people shoving themselves onto the bus I knew would take me to the door of the university was less so. After failing to get on two (think I’ve lost my city sharpness) I hung around the taxi rank, feeling forlorn. A lovely London cabbie came to my rescue. Half expecting him to refuse, I told him the destination. He warned me it would be expensive and it was. The city was gridlocked. But he got me there!
The shoulders relaxed a little only when I’d unpacked and found a couple of other delegates, sitting by the Regent’s Canal which runs along the Queen Mary campus. We amused ourselves by speculating on the owner of the narrow boat moored up opposite. Hero material for a contemporary rom-com, surely?
I’ve learned that the conference needs to be treated as a marathon rather than a sprint. It takes concentration, stamina and resolve. Oh – and an awful lot of socialising. Writers work alone most of the time so when we meet in a large flock of 250 the noise and alcohol intake can be stupendous.
The conference takes the form of workshops and lectures, a gala awards dinner (hence the need for a posh frock) and appointments with agents and publishers. This year there was also the chance to make a video promo. Thank you, The Romaniacs! Look out for mine if you feel very, very brave.
The best bit is meeting up with other romance writers. I’ve made some amazing friends and met some inspirational writers through the Romantic Novelists’ Association – and I’ve learned a lot too.
Among this year’s highlights was a completely fabulous workshop giving strategies for a rewrite by Post-it addict Julie Cohen, an intellectual insight into the writing voice by Emma Darwin and a very entertaining session on getting your name known by Jane Wenham-Jones.
Other wonderful moments are too alcohol-fuelled to repeat!
A huge thank you to those who work tirelessly in order to organise these annual events – you’re superstars. And a big shout-out to my ‘roomies’ who tolerated my strange ways. I have a very sore throat today. Did I really talk that much?
PS Here’s the link to the video. I’m sandwiched between the lovely Jane Lovering and gorgeous fellow Harper Impulse author, Sue Fortin. Copyright: The Romaniacs Writers’ Group.