I’ve just got back from the annual conference held by the Romantic Novelists Association. It’s an event I look forward to every year; particularly as it always falls on my birthday weekend – what a treat! I had the best time. For me – despite the broken air con in the sweltering heat of modern, spacious Sheffield Uni – it was the most helpful, fun and informative conference I’ve been to so far.
I attended the 2010 conference at Greenwich as a day visitor and went to my first full conference last year at Penrith. For me, Sheffield Uni was the better location despite the necessary hours in the car driving up. I was lucky though, able to drive up to my Aunt’s house – author Sue Moorcroft -on the Thursday. We had a lovely family birthday meal and then on the Friday made the rest of the way up the M1, stopping off for lunch and a spot of shopping. Unfortunately the M1 was closed/stacked – we didn’t stay on it long enough to find out – so we took a detour along the A road. Luckily my map reading skills weren’t too rusty, having navigated my way down the length of France on a family holiday a few years ago.
So we got there in the end, with an unexpected hour on the journey, but lots of other poor people were in the car for up to 8 hours, on journeys they’d expected to take 3 – 4! Never mind though, we all got there safely in the end, and after showers and wine were ready for the weekend ahead.
The following excerpt is one I’ve written that has been posted to the RNA blog. Usually I’d reblog it but they’re on different platforms so here you go …
AKA shooting out of the car after a clammy journey (detouring through Mansfield and Chesterfield to avoid the nightmare that was the M1, ably chauffeured by Sue) in search of a cold shower and a colder drink.
2. Sheffield Uni Rocks!
… Apart from the broken air con during one of the most scorching weekends of the year. But it was also modern and spacious, with helpful staff and lovely student digs to sleep/shower/sing in!
3. Romantic Novelists Rally (no, not a new F1 team)
So it was hot, and everyone was melting … but the first day kicked off to a great start anyway with an opening speech by new Chairman Pia Fenton aka Christina Courtenay and news of contracts and other reasons to celebrate. This was followed by wine – mostly consumed outside – and writing pals having a good old gossip. (For the record I really did intend to be sensible and have one drink, go to bed early and pace myself. Is it my fault The Romaniacs plied me with wine and let me sing?)
4. The Usual Suspects
As I was expecting, the weekend was choc full of:-
a) Great shoes (I’m almost certain pictures will be on the blog already)
b) Bottles of wine (red, white, rose, whatever)
c) Lovely outfits (check out the dresses at the Gala dinner, darling)
d) Fantastic chat (yes, we write but we can also really talk)
e) Loads of laughter (goes without saying)
f) Sharing of tips/markets/opportunities (we were there for work after all, and publishing is going through some seismic changes at the moment so there was lots to confab over)
g) Informative talks/panels/workshops (where to start? Julie Cohen’s workshop on theme? Janet Gover’s interactive media session? Carole Blake’s talk about her 50 years in publishing? I learnt so much).
h) Awards and contracts (the Elizabeth Goudge went to Choc Lit author Kate Johnson, two new authors announced as signed to Choc Lit publishing, a new series of short stories acquired by Harper Impulse … the list goes on)
i) Helpful 1:1 editor appointments (I wasn’t a full conference virgin as I was at Penrith last year but I still felt pretty nervous at the prospect of these, but felt suitably rewarded with some lovely, positive feedback and requests to see more material – yay!) Special thanks to Vanessa Savage of the Romaniacs for calming my nerves!
j) Support from all sides (sincere, shared happiness in each other’s recent writing achievements; urging the unpublished writers to just keep going; profuse thanks and applause for everyone who did panels and talks)
5. Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration
Though sad to say goodbye to everyone and leave (personally I could’ve stayed a week) I was also excited to get back home and return to the WIP and some submissions. I always feel re-energised and refocused by the conference … and as I sit here, slightly hung over, hoarse from talking and very tired from the late nights, I’m already looking forward to RNAconf14.
If you want to see the photos that go with the post you can check out them out, along with other fab posts, at http://romanticnovelistsassociationblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/nikki-goodman-on-her-favourite-things.html
There’s also a great round-up at over at Alison May’s blog at http://alisonmay.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/in-which-i-learn-some-things-and-wear-pretty-pretty-shoes. The news that Alison has just been signed by Choc Lit under their Lite imprint was broken at the conference so there was lots of excitement. http://alisonmay.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/in-which-i-clear-my-throat-and-offer-an-announcement Congratulations again Alison on being another graduate of the New Writers’ Scheme.
Check out Chris Stovell’s take on the conference here http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/my-rna-conference-2013.html?showComment=1373994050308
Added as extra:
Jean Bull’s Blog @ http://tinyurl.com/mz8evro
The Romaniacs conference post in pictures – including a hideous one of me where I look at least ten years older than I actually am – @ http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/letting-the-pictures-do-the-talking-rna-conference-13/
And there are lots of other posts that will be popping up over the next week I’m sure. I’ll try and keep adding the links here.
A special shout out to the Romaniacs who kept me company and gave me many laughs over the weekend, along with other lovely ladies including Liz Fenwick, Linn B Halton, Mandy Baggot and Pia Fenton. So excited for Celia Anderson whose debut novel will be published by Piatkus Entice on 1st August and Laura James, who is now contracted to Choc Lit with Truth or Dare.
The Romaniacs wrote a great post before the conference http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/essential-packing-for-rna-conference/ so I’m waiting with bated breath to see what their follow up is.
I mustn’t forget to add what a fantastic job the conference organisers did. It all went very smoothly and I know it’s lots of hard work – so thank you Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson. x
Can’t wait til next year.
Happy writing everyone,