In July, I was back in the north of England, at Penrith in Cumbria. Not for sightseeing this time, but something just as enjoyable and even more exciting - the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference. My third, after Leicester in 2007 and Chichester in 2008. Three splendid days of talks, workshops, and chatting with other writers, published and unpublished.
My companion for the journey was Monica Fairview, a fine author of Regency romance (An Improper Suitor, The Other Mr Darcy, The Darcy Cousins). Our accommodation was at the University, and our lively housemates included Elizabeth Hawksley (multi-published in historical romance), Janet Gover (contemporary romance with Little Black Dress) and Jean Fullerton, a finalist in this year's Romantic Novel of the Year Award with her London-based historical romance, A Glimpse of Happiness. Both Jean and Janet are 'graduates' of the RNA's New Writers' Scheme, of which I am a member.
'Love in the Library' was a pre-conference event in Penrith Library, with a panel of RNA members, led by Katie Fforde. The library is beside St Andrew's Church, designed in 1720 by Nicholas Hawksmoor. My tourist gene got the getter of me and I sneaked away to get a good look at it. I took this photo of the beautiful interior. Jean, Janet and Elizabeth were on the afternoon panel at the Library and as we had arrived in town before the morning session had finished, it gave us a good excuse to have a cup of tea in the cafe beside the church. On the left is Angela who, like me, is on the NWS.
One of the many good things about the conference is the opportunity for new writers to have one-to-one meetings with editors and agents. A refinement this year was that those with editor appointments were advised to send samples of their work prior to the conference. Mills and Boon editors Jenny Hutton and Meg Lewis also talked to the delegates about 'Digging Deeper - finding new twists to knowing your characters'. Anita Burgh discussed 'Publishers, Presentation and Synopses', Victoria Connelly about 'Surviving Rejection', Rachel Natanson on Pocket Novels, and Melinda Hammond gave advice on how to juggle a job with penning prose.
American writer Jodi Thomas, who had been at the Leicester conference, made a welcome return visit and advised us how to 'Romance the American Markets' There were many other talks and workshops, my biggest disappointment being that, as some ran parallel, I couldn't attend them all! A most enjoyable conference it was, made all the more memorable by the fact that my appointment with Claire Siemaszkiewicz of Total-e-Bound, led to a contract for my novella 'Pure Silk'.
The next conference is just three months away and is to be held at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, now a World Heritage site. You know what that means, don't you? I'm going to have the devil's own job keeping my tourist gene in check!