This past Saturday I attended the Romance Novelists Association conference in Penrith as a Day visitor and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day. I got up at 4am (that wasn’t so enjoyable) and didn’t get home ‘til late but I can safely say the experience was worth the exercise in sleep deprivation!
And here is a list of just 10 of the things I learnt during my time at RNA09.
1, Romance writers come in all shapes and sizes.
This one seems quite obvious but I was instantly struck by how different all these authors looked. They were from all walks of life, had many different accents and dressed in different ways, there wasn’t even that much pink to be seen! And friendly? Wow, these people were lovely. I was a stranger when I arrived I didn’t know a soul but I was instantly welcomed and made to feel at home. Oh and there weren’t just women attending either, there were male writers there too. Okay, they were definitely out numbered but they were there and I thought that was lovely to see.
2, We all suffer rejection.
In fact, this was the subject of the first session I went to and was hosted by the pretty and talented Victoria Connelly. That woman has seen a lot of rejection in her time but she gave us some great strategies to cope with it like trust yourself and the quality of your work, try everyone and have a dream. It was extremely comforting to know that everyone gets rejected now and then.
3, Characters do matter.
You can sometimes get the feeling that plot is the be all and end all of a good story but the session led by Mills & Boon editors Jenny Hutton and Meg Lewis suggested otherwise. They said that if your character is well established the reader will follow them wherever they go. It is characters that make people read books to the end. It is the plot that makes that journey interesting and shows how the characters react in different situations and showcases their personality and emotions.
4, Literary blogs can be fun.
Moira Briggs taught me this from behind a hastily erected cardboard box lectern and with a dry wit that had me howling with laughter. Moira is a book fox at Vulpes Libris and her tale of how she got involved with the site and how different subjects evoke different reaction was fun, entertaining and eye opening.
5, You can’t recognise a New York Times Best Selling author by looks alone.
At lunch I sat with a table full of interesting ladies. Two of which had lovely American accents. I chatted away happily, exchanging storylines and discussing the trials and joys of being an author and never once looked at names on name tags.
It wasn’t until I sat down in the room for Jodi Thomas’s Session on romancing the American Market that I realised who I’d been chatting to over lunch. Jodi is a lovely lady and a delight to talk too. I’m just embarrassed I didn’t realise who she was earlier, Sorry Jodi!
6, Sometimes the best bits aren’t the sessions.
The sessions were good and the speakers engaging but I found some of my most enjoyable time was spent between sessions just talking to people. I found fellow Total-E-Bound author Saskia Walker between sessions and had a lovely chat with her about authorly things. It was a delight to be able to talk shop to someone who really knew just what I meant.
7, I want an eBook reader.
I know this isn’t a particularly earth-shattering discovery but as Claire passed her eBook readers around during the Total-E-Bound E-publishing session I fell in love. I’ll have to flutter my eyelashes at hubby and see if I can get one for Christmas.
8, How to pronounce Claire’s last name.
Siemaszkiewicz. I’ve never even known where to start with trying to pronounce this particular second name but now I’ve heard it spoken so I know how it’s pronounced. I still don’t think I’d actually be able to pronounce it but the knowledge is there hidden away in a corner of my brain somewhere!
9, Authors like to talk.
A lot. Oh yes and what was the favourite subject? Writing of course. The highs and lows, the deadlines, the tribulations and the joys. There was always a hum of conversation that was comforting and friendly. I bet there are many sore throats now that the conference has finished.
10, Total-E-Bound Rocks.
Alright, this is a cheat, I knew this already but by meeting Saskia and Claire I have had this belief reinforced and if I wasn’t already published with them Claire’s talk on the benefits of publishing with Total-E-Bound would have had me submitting in an instant! I am incredibly proud to be a part of such a professional, caring company.
And thus ends my lessons for today. If you’d like to read more please look at the RNA09 report at victoriablisse.co.uk which goes into more detail about exactly what I did on that sunny Saturday in Penrith.