With July comes cricket, the school holidays and, hopefully, some great weather. It also sees the annual migration of lots of very excited romance writers flocking to the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference. Photo (c) Carol Bevitt.
This year it was held at Lancaster University. A lovely spot but a bit of a distance from the Dorset coast. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t afford the £160 train ticket. Salvation came in the shape of good pal and writing chum Laura James who announced she was driving all the way and would I like a lift? Photo (c) Rosemary Gemmell.
I didn’t hesitate so, along with Laura’s daughter @ThatGeekEllie we headed north on an epic road trip. Were the six hours on assorted motorways worth it? Oh yes!
I’ve blogged before about what the conference consists of so I won’t repeat myself but the seminars and lectures were as useful and stimulating as ever. Stand out sessions include Writing the Historical Novel by Natalie Meg Evans, Keep that Sexy Momentum going by the legendary team of Liam Livings and Virginia Heath and The Worried Writer run by Sarah Painter. You can’t accuse the RNA conference of not offering variety!
Watching a trio of agents and editors decide what they would read more of from a slush pile and what they would consign to the bin was brutal but useful. I watched an interview with writing hero Dorothy Koomson (big girl crush) and ended the weekend with a storming workshop, led by Laura, on writing about sensitive subjects.
Lots of writing talk, lots of ideas, opinions, what might be trending (rom-coms and timeslips – yay!) and an awful lot of catching up. I also had a good chat with my sainted editor, Charlotte Ledger. How thrilling to hear her cry, ‘That’s one of my authors,’ as she ran over for a hug. I think I told her I loved her. There may have been gin involved but I couldn’t possibly comment. She was on her way to her lecture. Here she is in action. It gives you a scale of the conference. Photo © @familyonabike
And – even bigger thrill – for the first time I had my books on sale at the conference bookstall. Thank you Blackwell’s. Probably the only time you’ll ever stock me! Here’s me and Laura going all giggly. Photo © @ThatGeekEllie
I’m a complete RNA Chapter tart (the groups which are held nationwide to support writers of romance) and have been to meetings in Exeter, the midlands and Dorset so knew a fair few people. So good to have a chat and a sing-song with Lynn Forth, talk bell-ringing and gravestones with Erin Green, have a giggle with Tora Williams, sip John Jackson’s lethal champagne cocktails and catch up with Bella Osborne. Here’s Bella, Lynn and me at the posh Gala Dinner. Photo (c) John Jackson.
Lynn and I have promised a rendition of Sisters, Sisters to trump this year’s There’s Nothing Like a Dame. There will be fans, hopefully large and feathered.
It was also fabulous to meet, in person, writers I know online – Heidi Swain, Carol Bevitt and Christie Barlow to mention just three. And, in this business, it’s easy to get jaded so it’s always a real pleasure to meet writers who have joined the New Writers’ Scheme and share in their shiny enthusiasm. Here’s John making cocktails on Friday evening. Quite something to witness.
Oh, and you get goody bags full of books!
My writing career took off at a RNA conference in Sheffield some years back. If you write romance, any kind of romance, I recommend you join the Romantic Novelists’ Association and get yourself to one. I mean, where else can you talk belly dancing and nipple tassels in the ladies’ loo with a VERY well-known author?
Next year’s is at Telford. Will I be going? You bet I will.