A Love-ly Conference with the RNA by Ann Evans

Karen King, Ann Evans, Chrissie Bradshaw,
Sheryl Browne, Lynda Stacey.
Last weekend was one of my writing highlights of the year – the Romantic Novelist Association's annual conference. 

This year is was held at Lancaster University, and it was my third conference. My good pal, author Karen King and I teamed up, and we took the train north feeling really excited to be going along to another RNA gathering.

It's the thought of meeting up with familiar faces, making new friends, and basically just being around so many people who share that love of writing. It's such an amazing atmosphere, lots of buzz and noise, lots of laughter and chat – and of course plenty of time to eat and drink.

Of course it wasn't all socialising. It was brilliantly organised with the programme of talks, workshops and one-to-ones sent out to delegates some weeks before the event so that you can say which sessions you plan on attending, and arrange a one-to-one consultation with one of the top editors or literary agents who attend. You have to be quick in booking these however, as places are highly coveted.

Sheryl Browne, Karen King, Ann Evans
Around 220 romantic novelists attended the conference, who ranged from those on the New Writers' Scheme to multi published big name writers. But the friendliness of the event ensured there was no divide between the published and non-published, or those published traditionally or the self published. Everyone mixed together, sharing news, catching up on the year gone by and generally making new friends and having fun.

There were around 35 different talks and workshops ranging from 'Author marketing – brand, plan and goals' led by author Liz Fenwick and Brigid Coady of Harper Collins, to 'Romancing the YA readership – what makes a book successful for teen readers' presented by author Joss Stirling.

Tracy Bloom. Katy Haye and Ian Skillicorn ran an excellent session on 'The business of self publishing', and Sarah Wendell had jetted over from the USA to run a brilliant – and funny session of 'Reviews – getting them, dealing with them and managing them.' Her initial piece of advice for any writer about to look at a review about her book is to eat chocolate! She wasn't joking – eat lots of chocolate or something equally as messy because then you'll have sticky fingers and won't be tempted to use your keyboard and reply to a review as a knee jerk reaction. Good advice!

Friday night's dessert - Yum!
The Romaniacs – a group of authors who got together to support each other a few years ago, gave an inspiring panel talk called, 'Pens & Pompoms – writing against the odds'. Complete with pompoms there were rousing cheers and support for those who were facing – or had faced difficult times in their lives. The ladies talked of the problems they had faced, and gave great advice on how they managed to get through those bad times and get back to their writing.

There was lots and lots going on, with frequent tea, coffee and biscuit breaks, lunch breaks and then dinner and a bar in the evenings. The highlight of the weekend was the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening which included the presentation of the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. This was a short story competition, judged anonymously, and the winner and highly commended announced on the night.

Meeting one of my favourite romantic novelists,
Freda Lightfoot.

2010 was the RNA's Golden anniversary and the society is rightly proud of its long history and its association with so many professionals in the world of romantic fiction. It holds numerous social events and meetings with top speakers, sharing expertise and knowledge. It runs competitions and a New Writers Scheme. It also publishes a quarterly magazine, Romance Matters.

Lots of books and their authors at the conference.

Why not take a look at their website? The RNA welcomes traditionally published and self published writers - and they have great conferences!!  :http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/

My website: http://www,annevansbooks.co.uk
Facebook: Ann-Evans-Books
Twitter: @annevansauthor
Blog: http://www,blogger.com/annsawriter


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