Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 10 July 2016

LIVE FROM LANCASTER...

Excitement is high this week as I’m blogging live from the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference, which this year is being held in the spacious, leafy grounds of Lancaster University. For those not familiar with Lancaster, it’s a historic city found in the North West of England, boasting a canal and imposing medieval castle. Originally a Roman fort, apparently Lancaster Castle stood as a bastion against the forces of marauding Picts and Scottish clans.

Today, however, this Scot is looking forward to spending a fantastic weekend with friends, as I signed up early to attend the best networking event of the year – the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Annual Conference.

So what makes the RNA conference so special? For me the answer’s three-fold.

Firstly, year on year the organisers offer a packed programme of talks, lectures, expert panels and
Rae, Gill and Jennifer
workshops by best-selling authors and publishing professionals at the top of their game. What a fantastic opportunity to learn what’s hot (and what’s not) in the business.

Secondly, attendees, whether published or unpublished, may opt for appointments with literary agents and editors, who provide advice/pointers on the first chapter of their novel. Critiquing gold for aspiring writers like me!

Finally, writing’s a solitary occupation, although being part of the RNA means it never truly feels that
way, and so I revel in the chance to meet up with ‘old’ friends – our own Gill Stewart and Jennifer Young are here – and to make new ones too.

So what’s happened so far?

My first choice of workshop was presented by award winning duo Liz Fenwick, who’s highly successful novels are set along the rugged Cornish coastline, and Brigid Coady, marketing professional and winner of the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon award, who took an insightful look at author marketing, exploring the need to identify your brand, your plan, your goals. I was scribbling wildly - plenty food for thought there…
Liz Fenwick and Brigid Coady
(photo with thanks to Marie Macneill)


Next we gathered to be officially welcomed by Eileen Ramsay, our experienced RNA Chair and Jan Jones, writer and conference organiser extraordinaire.

Welcome over, it was down to business with the first of three industry appointments. Where else could an unpublished writer be granted such an amazing opportunity to have their work read and critiqued by industry professionals?   - Did I mention I love the RNA?

Today, Saturday, is also busy. With such a fantastic line-up of speakers, I feel like a child on Christmas morning, greedy to grab it all, but eventually plumped for sessions that include Alex Brown and her editor, Kate Bradley discussing what it takes to create a commercial novel; a workshop with Fiona Harper, using Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a case study to ensure the pace of a story keeps zinging along; viewing of a documentary that takes us into the multi-billion dollar romance fiction business in America; speed dating to find a critique partner… a few glasses of wine at the sparkling gala dinner!

With such a crammed itinerary there's little time left to explore Lancaster further but visiting the castle and learning of its legends has given me a taste for the area. Yet again the RNA conference is a winner, and, if the rumours of late night kitchen parties are true (I couldn't possibly comment), then Lancaster is proving to be the perfect location for writers to create tales of their own.




19 comments:

  1. Thanks Rae, really sorry I couldn't make it this year. Maybe next ? So glad you're having a great time.,

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  2. You were missed at last night's party, Lizzie. Hope it's not too long before we meet up again. Enjoy the remainder of your grand tour of Scotland - your photos are wonderful. : )

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  3. Lovely to see you!! Very well done on coming runner up (you clever thing once again!!) in Elizabeth Goudge contest. Journey back horrendous. Forgot I can't see in the dark (!!) and no lights on motorway. Compounded with rain and terrible roadworks all the way past Manchester, was amazed I made it home!!

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    1. Oh Julie, your journey back sounds awful. Hopefully you can cling to the happy memories of all the fun of the gala dinner. Good luck with sprinkling the final fairy dust on your Christmas novella - looking forward to Christmas already! : )

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  4. I'm really sorry to miss it this year. Hopefully I'm going to attend the next. Thank you for giving me the insight how it was/is.

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    1. Hello June, thanks for dropping by. I'd only time to draft a short blog post as it's such a packed weekend, but I believe write ups will appear in the RNA magazine, which will provide more depth about all that was covered during the workshops. Fingers crossed you make it to Telford next year... : )

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  5. Thanks,Rae. Great to see what's going on at the conference.

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    1. Hello Deborah, there was so much happening that I only hoped to give a flavour of what was going on. The speed dating event (to find a critique partner) was huge fun - really interesting to hear of such a diverse range of projects being worked on and great practice at pitching in a minute!

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  6. Thanks,Rae. Great to see what's going on at the conference.

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  7. Just got home from the amazing whirl of activity that was the conference, and had a little opportunity to experience it all over again here. Thanks Rae!

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    1. A whirl indeed, Gill! Have you done any write ups this year? I'm looking forward to reading what went on at the workshops I couldn't attend.

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  8. I couldn't make it to the conference either, but really enjoyed your blog post, Rae. Reading it was definitely the next best thing.

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    1. Oh thank you, that's lovely to hear. I couldn't make the summer party, so really enjoyed the write up and photos that were in the summer edition of Romance Matters which arrived today. : )

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  9. Thanks Rae - a fab insight into the RNAConf16 - I've been avidly looking at 'everyone who was there' photos and really enjoyed reading this post. two years in a row I've been out of the country - next year I'd love to be there. Love, Janice xx

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  10. Hello Janice, we'd love you to be there too! I believe it's Telford next year, if you're doing some forward planning. Sadly I don't think we could persuade Jan to chose a venue in the Caribbean - it would be rather lovely if we could all come to you!

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  11. Great post, Rae, and I love that photo of the castle! Thanks for your lovely company on way back to station.

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    1. Hello Rosemary, it was great to have time to catch up properly, as the weekend disappeared in a blur! Just a fond memory now, until next year... : )

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  12. Reading your post was like being there all over again. Great to meet you, Rae, and really enjoyed your company at dinner both nights.

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  13. Lovely to meet you too, Anne and to learn of all you've achieved creatively. You could write a book! : ) Good luck with your writing and hopefully it will be easier to keep in touch, as Rosemary is about to set up a Scottish Chapter Facebook Page, which will be really useful. Thanks again for popping by. : )

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