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!


Julie Cohen said...

It was a great time, wasn't it?

It was lovely to see you and I'm glad the Pixar session was helpful to you. Those Pixar guys know their stuff.

J x

Janice said...

Hi Julie! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I now have a fabulous excuse to rewatch all my favourite Pixar movies - with (hankies) notepad & pen!

I'll look forward to hearing from you when have organised your next schedule for writing workshops.

Love, Janice xx

Chris Longmuir said...

Ooh! I'm really envious, everyone seemed to have so much fun. The thing I would have loved to see would have been the Pixar one, I doubt very much whether I'll ever see it at my crime writing conferences. Makes me tempted to join the RNA.

Unknown said...

It was a great weekend Janice - lovely to catch up with you again.

If The Romaniacs did become a girl group, I would definitely have to mime.


Janice said...

I know you already have a busy time with your Crime writing events, Chris - but I'm sure, since you do have a foot in the romance camp too with your novel A Salt Splashed Cradle - joining the RNA would be good move AND we can party together at the next RNA conference, which next year is being held very centrally for everyone in Sheffield. Yay!

Karen said...

I'm so envious I've finally got round to joining the RNA :o)

Janice said...

Ha ha - the evidence is already up on UTube I believe, Sue!

It was SO lovely to see you and I hope it's not too long before we can get together again - perhaps a loveahappyending.com reunion like you suggested..?

Mary Smith said...

Soounds like you had a fabulous time, Janice. Wish I'd been there this year.

Janice said...

Hi Karen - I'm sure you'll think it a good move and you’ll fit right in. The RNA really is a uniquely wonderful organisation. I love the sound of your next book - 'My Future Husband' - is a fantastic title and it conjures up all sorts of story possibilities. I can’t wait to read it!

Janice said...

It was fabulous, Mary - and now I'm all fired up and ready to write. I'm really excited about the new book I've just started writing and feel all this fresh impetus has come just at the right time. Maybe you could plan for next year in Sheffield..?

Janice x

Old Kitty said...

Love the Romaniacs!! Take care

Carol E Wyer said...

Sounds utterly brilliant! What an event. I am very envious but delighted you had such a good time. I would love to meet Talli and as for Pixar films....
Thank you very much for sharing this-makes me really want to go to the next event.
Off to FrontLit now.

R F Long said...

It really was a fantastic weekend. I came away, as always, with a strange combination of utterly exhausted and completely inspired to write.

Sheryl Browne said...

Now I know I have to make time to attend the next one! Fab photos, Janice. Evidence of everyone having had a fantastic time. I'm up for a loveahappyending.com reunion! See you in Sheffield! :) xx

Talli Roland said...

Janice, it was lovely to finally meet you in person! Thank you so much for your kind words about my session - it was great to see your friendly face there.

What a wonderful conference! I'm already looking forward to next year.

Kit Domino said...

Makes me wish I'd been there. Must rejoin the RNA. Last conf I went to was Guildford many moons ago. And as for Julie Cohen, she's marvellous and inspiring and funny. Did she bring strawberries?

Janice said...

Hi Carol - I must tell you that Talli really is as lovely as she seems - and Pixar films are so cleverly constructed that they make the perfect template as Julie cleverly demonstrated!

Janice said...

Kitty - the Romaniacs really are fabulous aren't they!

Hi Ruth - I really enjoyed your panel on International Sales. Thanks for your comment. Hope you are now recovering from your exhaustion!

Sheryl - it sounds like Sheffield will be fantastic fun - I can't wait but also hope to catch up with you sooner than next summer!

Janice xx

Jenny Harper said...

Great photos, Janice, they really reflect the fun we all had. I've nearly finished my story now - thanks for all the help! (and wine!!).

Janice said...

Hi Talli - I was delighted to meet you at long last! You've been so generous with your support over the past year, as I've worked to build my own online brand and publish my ebooks, and I'm sure that everyone at your session felt very lucky indeed to be benefiting from your online experience and expert advice.

Janice xx

Janice said...

Kit - I'm sure that if Julie had brought strawberries they would have long disappeared by the time she did her session on Sunday!

Gosh, I feel like an ambassador for the RNA today. I've been a member for 8 years now and I value my membership highly. So rejoin Kit - I'm sure you won't regret it!

Janice said...

Jenny - one of the best moments of the weekend for me - was when we all went back to our kitchen to drink wine and brainstorm ideas for your story and also for our author brand 'straplines'. I do think there are four of us using them today for the first time!

I'm glad you finished your story (that was quick!) and hope you get it in the new RNA anthology.

Janice xx
Author of Contemporary Scottish Romance – with Humour

Myra Duffy said...

Now where did I out that romantic novel I wrote once upon a time? The RNA conference seems too good an event to miss!

Melanie said...

It certainly looks and sounds like you have a fab time at the RNA conference.

Janice said...

I'd get it out and dust it off Myra!

Melanie - wouldn't it be fab if you could come over from Canada and attend our conference one day - or if I could go over to Canada and come to yours!?

Janice xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You've summed it up so well, Janice - and as you say on mine, we obviously need to swap notes for the different sessions! It was so lovely to catch up with you again.

Linn B Halton and Lucy Coleman said...

Ah, looks like it was a fab time and the weather was very kind too! Judging by all the glasses a little wine helped the proceedings along quite nicely. Thanks for sharing the pics Janice!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Janice .. what a great few days - sounds as though you all learnt loads .. then you met Talli ..

A glowing endorsement for writerly conferences .. good news - and that the industry is alive and well and flourishing ..

Cheers Hilary

Janice said...

Hi Linn - yes, the weather was amazing. After weeks of grey skies and rain we had sunshine all the way in Penrith!

Hi Hilary, I did learn lots and must say I was impressed with the number of younger delegates this year - there were so many eager young faces amongst the RNA ranks - and that is also good for our industry and its future.

Janice xx

Janice said...

Hi Rosemary - it was so good to get to spend the weekend catching up wasn't it - and yes, we must compare notes soon!

Janice x

Lucie Wheeler said...

What a fabulous round up of the conference, Janice!

It was so lovely to finally meet you in person. I had a great time at the conference and I am looking forward to next years already!

Lucie xx

PS. Loving the girlband idea.... maybe you could be our manager??

Joan Fleming said...

Great pix, Janice. You really capture the flavour of the conference - one of the best I've attended. Sheffield next year?


Janice said...

Hi Lucie - it was great to meet you too - I recognised your smile instantly from your online photo and could see you were having a great conference!

Wasn't it fabulous, Joan. I fondly remember each conference I've attended usually because of the different people I've met for the first time at each - and then for the rauceous get togethers with those I already know!

Janice xx

Bluestocking Mum said...

Hi Janice

What a splendid account of a wonderful weekend. And thank you for your kind words about the Romaniacs (and for graciously ignoring the caterwauling that came from some of us in that kitchen! lol)

It was lovely to meet you at last. I'm already looking forward to the next one...

warm wishes

Bluestocking Mum + also 1/9th of The Romaniacs

Jean Bull said...

Hi Janice, it was lovely to meet you.
I think that Julie Cohen was great too. What a wonderful excuse to watch all those Pixar films in the name of research!

Moira Briggs said...

Thank you very much, Janice! Although I'm not sure I really deserve 'knowledgeable' ... I just have the memory of an elephant and know where to look for the rest! But I'm delighted you enjoyed the talk so much. Kirsty and I had a terrific day at the Conference ...:)

Janice said...

Hi Debbie - it was lovely to meet you too - I'm looking forward to next year's conference already!

Jean - wasn't it amazing? I've always loved the Pixar movies and thought they were cleverly scripted, but to see the story arc demeonstrated so well by Julie, really opened my eyes. More movie watching with the addition of a notepad by my side instead of just a packet of crsip will have to be done in the name of research!

Janice xx

Janice said...

Hi Moira - thanks for stopping by from Vulpes Libres blog. I really enjoyed your talk - although held my breath in astonishment sometimes - so if I looked a bit blue in the face that'll be why!

Janice x

Nell Dixon said...

It was fab, and so lovely to meet you.