The Romantic Novelists’ Association certainly knows how to put on a conference!
You put together (or, rather, Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson put together) a few days on a campus in Penrith in Cumbria, 130 or so writers, dozens of hand-picked and fabulous guests (and a bar and dining room) and you get an exhilarating, informative, networking, friend-making experience.
It was joyous.
But I’ve never worked so hard at a conference! And I know I still let at least one person get away when I wanted to work on them to give me a spot at a lit.fest. next year.
From Chairman Katie Fforde’s welcoming speech on Friday until it was time for me to leave after lunch on Sunday, I spoke, networked, attended meetings, attended workshops, helped out, made introductions… I’ve lost count of the number of people who offered congratulations on my new contract with Choc Lit and wanted to know everything I could tell them about the publisher and my novel. Then there were some great speakers and guests for me to schmooze into contributing a couple of paragraphs for my ‘how to’ book: Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction (Accent Press) and… I’m exhausted. I have three pages of notes and reminders to action this week.
I didn’t expect to find a horse in the car park but she was lovely.
I’m ashamed to say that I forgot the fundaments of journalism and didn’t ask her name!
But she had lovely manners (whereas one of the guys she brought with her was cheeky!)
Writers are industrious – below are Anna Scamans and Brigid Coady enjoying the weather.
The charming Jodi Thomas spoke more than once but here she is on Saturday, witty as she gives hints about how to succeed in America (SUCH a big market!) and makes suggestions about plot-finding. If you begin to discover books that cross Harry Potter with Gone with the Wind or Pirates of the Caribbean with Babe, they probably began life in this workshop!
Worried about speaking to any gathering from your local writers’ group to a 3000-strong audience at a convention? You should have been in Hugo’s session.
Leading by example, Hugo was funny, animated, engaging, positive and informative. I couldn’t decide if he was most like Hugh Laurie or John Cleese.
One of my favourite sessions was Myra Kersner’s. Having published several non-fiction books in her field of Speech and Language Therapy she had hours of information for us. That she condensed it neatly into the hour available speaks volumes for her comfort in the lecture hall environment.
I’m sneakingly thrilled that Kathy Gale got a full hall for her workshop because it was I who made the original contact with her when Writers’ Forum asked me to interview her in 2008.
She’s a lovely person with great insight into the world of publishing and so many people wanted to talk to her about her function as a Writing Coach that her tea was nearly cold by the time she got it!
It was a brilliant conference. There were a few cases of ‘Wine Flu’ in the mornings and, I’m afraid, only the standard 24 hours in each day, at least 5 of which I felt I had to use for sleep, but, otherwise, it was great.