Tuesday 17 July 2012

My thoughts on #rnaconf12…

I'm still awash with conference-lag, happy friend thoughts, writerly inspiration and of course, wine - after spending three whole wonderful days at the Romantic Novelist’s Association conference - held this year in lovely Penrith Cumbria.

The conference was well attended by Romance Authors, Editors and Literary Agents. The workshops were interesting, thought provoking and varied. First up on Friday afternoon, straight after the welcome get together, there was an Industry Panel that tackled the subject of International Sales, which in our global economy was incredibly valuable. On the panel were Top Agent Carole Blake, Bestselling UK/US Author Nicola Cornick, Irish Author Ruth Long, and Author and Translator Henriette Gyland.
On Saturday morning, I did a recorded interview for BBC Radio Cumbria and spoke about the business of being an Author and the importance of Romance. I’ll let you know as soon as I have an audio link to the show when it gets aired!
My first workshop of the day was with Talli Roland, my lovely online friend whom I got to actually meet for the first time at Penrith. Talli’s workshop was entitled ‘Online Marketing for Writers’ and proved to be a fabulous masterclass.
Then it was straight into ‘A Woman’s World – the future of Women’s Fiction’ by Kate Harrison. This was an in-depth look into the research Kate had done on reader trends in the current women’s fiction market. The talk was attended by top industry professionals but it was also very useful session indeed for an independent writer like me.
Other highlights of Saturday were the Author Panel on being ‘In For The Long Haul’ with Judy Astley, Freda Lightfoot and Anne Ashhurst (who writes as Sara Craven), who between them have published hundreds of books over their long and prolific careers to date, and a session with the knowledgeable and incredibly humorous Moira Briggs, from the top book review blog, Vulpes Libres.
Then, just before wine o’clock we were treated to An Audience with the fabulous Carole Matthews, who spoke to us about her amazing career, her books, her ups and downs and who afterwards generously answered lots of questions from the audience and then shared valuable writer tips.
The Gala Dinner was a chance to dress up, catch up with writer friends and generally have a fantastic time while consuming lots of wine. I’m pleased to report that the bar did not run out! (The staff at Penrith know us all too well by now!)
Me and Talli Roland on Saturday's Gala Evening

On Sunday morning, in the hangover slot, we were soon splitting our sides with laughter in the fabulous Jane Wenham-Jones’s session ‘What a Way to Earn a Living…

If I had to pick out just one session as a real highlight then it would have to be the last session I attended on Sunday, which was Julie Cohen’s workshop on ‘Learning Story Structure from Pixar Films’. It not only had me in tears (there were lots of Pixar film clips to demonstrate building emotional content!) but it was certainly the most valuable lesson on creating a story arc that I’ve ever had. Julie really knows her stuff and she is SO much fun!

The fabulous Julie Cohen

So what did I ultimately get from attending this conference…?
Well, aside from the absolute thrill of catching up with my wonderful writer friends and meeting new ones, it was getting to chat in the coffee break queues with people like top literary Agents Carole Blake and Dorothy Lumley, and Gillian Green - an Editorial Director at Random House, Heather Osborn from Samhain Publishers, and Editors Linda Filgrew, Sheila Hodgson and Megan Haslam from Mills & Boon. I came away not only inspired to get on with my writing but feeling entirely optimistic about my writing career.

I felt that I’d put my finger on the pulse of the industry – and found it to be alive and kicking!

Jane Wenham-Jones and me at the Gala Evening

Scottish friends Rae Cowie (me) and Jenny Harper

Celebrating my lovely friend Liz Harris's debut book deal with Choc Lit Publishers

More Scottish friends - Joan Fleming, Gwen Kirkwood & Rosemary Gemmell

Me and my loveahappyending.com buddy Sue Fortin
Enjoying the Penrith sunshine

Enjoying wine and the company of new friends
The Romaniacs - who from their singing efforts really should be a girl band!

Writer friends from Annie Burgh Group - Katy, Bex & Pippa 

The conference dining room where the food was always so yummy!

I just heard the exciting news that magazine style blog FRONTROWLIT is featuring my novel 'Reaching for the Stars' this week. If you get a moment, please do pop over to read an excerpt from Chapter One. Any Comments, Shares and Tweets will be most appreciated!