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|
Secondly, attendees, whether published or unpublished, may opt for appointments with literary agents and editors, who provide advice/pointers on the first chapter of their novel.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
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 Where else could an unpublished writer be granted such an amazing opportunity to have their work read and critiqued by industry professionals?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.