Monday, 16 July 2012

An Overview of the RNA Conference

Well, what a fabulous RNA conference at Penrith this year, from start to finish! Inspiring, informative and interesting workshops and speakers, wonderful fellow writers, excellent organisation, goody bags full of books and chocolate (the latter now eaten), friendly staff and good food, fun kitchen party, glamorous Gala dinner – and the sun even shone most of the weekend! I’ll try and give an overview of the speakers/workshops I attended. And many more were on offer so it was sometimes a hard choice. I travelled there and back with my friend, Joan.

My first session on Saturday morning was Maggie Seed’s talk about writing My Weekly Pocket Novels. Vivacious, fun, and friendly is how I’d describe the wonderful Maggie. She is so open to writers sending in their pocket novels (50,000 words) and absolutely loves escapism, romance, thrills, danger, conflict – and the heroine doesn’t have to be ‘nice’, or mega young! I might do a later post about this session.

Maggie Seed

I next went to hear Kate Harrison talk about the results of her recent survey into women’s fiction: ‘A Woman’s World? – the future of books by, and for, women'. Interesting, but no surprises. And, as you can imagine, a certain '50 Shades...’ book kept popping up in talks. It has sold 20 million copies around the world (2 mil in UK). But, overall, it seems readers are most looking for something thought-provoking, even if just a new way of finding love.

Then I had the first of my one-to-one sessions, with Gillian Green of Ebury Press. Very useful and encouraging, but I need to process her comments myself yet (she liked my novel’s idea)! After lunch, I went to her talk about ‘Boldly going where Ebury Fiction has not gone before...’ An interesting and informative overview of Ebury’s fiction – definitely worth looking at for anyone writing general fiction. And they seem to be fairly open to new submissions as they’re hoping to build their list.

Afterwards, I had my second one-to-one – with the overall editor of Mira. Again, it was a very interesting, encouraging and thought-provoking chat (and she liked my lyrical writing!). Still need to process her comments too. After coffee, I attended the Mira talk by three of their editors. It was informative and friendly. Again, they seem very open to new submissions for this more general imprint of Harlequin. They gave us ‘Ten things we hate about you’ and ‘Ten things you hate about us’.

Saturday evening was time to dress up and enjoy the Gala dinner and late-night kitchen parties!

Another friend, Gwen, and me

Bright and early on Sunday morning (or not, depending on how much wine people drank the night before), one of the first sessions was with the lovely American editor from Samhain Books. I’m so glad I attended this as it was a revelation. So many people think this is mainly an erotic fiction e-publisher, but they take just as many sweeter or more traditional romantic genre novels and they also print books over 50,000 words. I was also impressed with their whole ethos, publishing and marketing strategy. Definitely one I’ll be looking at more closely.

Next was another fascinating session from Tamsyn Murray about YA fiction ‘Going all the way? – YA comes of age’. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this either as it was so helpful and relevant to some of the ideas I have. Good discussion about how far is too far in writing about sex and other teenage problems in YA fiction. No definitive answer, I’m afraid, but lots of recommended published books to read, from those containing only implied physical relationship, to those that are very ‘full on’! As with adult fiction, it all comes down to character/plot/situation and the author’s own comfort zone.

The final session before lunch was a much-needed writing coach workshop with Sonia Duggan. Those of us attending had filled out a questionnaire before the conference and this session was all about ‘Getting to where you want to be’. Just what I needed to think about! It was useful up to a point and did force me to identify what’s holding me back from my ultimate goals, and to set some specific new goals.

After lunch, we had to get ready to travel back to Scotland, although a few more sessions were in place for those staying on that day. What can I say now? I’m thoroughly inspired, encouraged and raring to go. But first I’m catching up on emails, forums, blogs, FB and twitter, then I’ll clear the decks and use the next couple of weeks before holidays to write down what I want to achieve over the next couple of years.

And to start me off, I came home to 2 cheques, 1 PayPal payment, 1 email telling me a story has got through the first round of selections for an American anthology, 1 email telling me a story had an honourable mention in a comp, and only 1 rejection (from PF). Onwards and Upwards!



Anonymous said...

Glad you had such a fab time & congrats on the latest writing success. My old school pal looks just the same - pity the same can't be said for TangoQueen!

Myra Duffy said...

How I wish I'd been able to attend. It sounds fabulous !

Lilian b said...

Glad you had such a good time and found the experience so inspiring. It's certainly inspired me to get writing and perhaps in a position to go another year.

Nell Dixon said...

It was lovely to chat with you!

Anne Gallagher said...

What a great post. Thanks for your thoughts. And I love that turquoise dress. Very beautiful. Can't wait to hear more about your thoughts from the publisher.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, TQ. She remembered you too!

It really was the best, Myra - I'm sure you'd have found it so interesting, and fun!

Thanks for visiting, Lilian - glad it's inspired you to try and go next year!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Nell - next time we must chat for longer! It was good to meet as I already knew your name.

Thank you, Anne! It was such a full, informative weekend that we really do need to take time to process it all.

Teresa Ashby said...

It sounds just lovely, Rosemary - what a great experience and what a brilliant homecoming :-) x

Chris Longmuir said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Wish I'd been there with you.

Vikki said...

Sounds like a jam packed, informative weekend. And excellent to come home to such good news - I'm sure with all that motivation and encouragement you will no doubt complete lots more in the next couple of weeks!

Paula Martin said...

Great summary, Rosemary, and good to hear about the sessions I didn't attend. I actually had very mixed feelings about the weekend, but it was so good to meet you and Joan, and also other members of the Scottish RNA.

Wendy said...

I envy you being able to attend such a wonderful conference with writing friends. Glad you had such an enjoyable time.

Erin OQuinn said...

Dear Romy,

Fascinating! I so wish I'd been there with you. I was fascinated by the workshops, and my ear pricked up when you mentioned the lady who talked about creating not-so-perfect heroines, and the tidbit that readers are looking beyond erotica for some thought-provoking material too.

So our chosen vocation is thriving, and our readers are out there waiting for us. Let us strive onward and upward, and may we all be inspired by what you've shared with us! Thanks, xxErin

joanne fox said...

Wow - sounds as if the conference gave you so much to think about. That turquoise colour is fantastic on you, by the way!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Teresa - it was so helpful and yes, I was quite pleased on seeing my post and emails!

I wish you had, Chris - both you and Myra would have got a lot out of it too, even though it was a romance writers conference!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Vikki - looking forward to telling you the details!

Thanks, Paula - it was really good to meet you too! I know people will get different things from the weekend.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Wendy - thanks for commenting! You're absolutely right- a huge part of the enjoyment was being with writing friends, and making new ones.

Dear Erin - you always say the loveliest things! Again, you're quite right - the whole weekend proved how many opportunities are there for the writers willing to work. And the readers are waiting for good books!

It did indeed, Joanne, and I still need to process half of it in my mind and on paper! Thank you very much for such a lovely compliment.

Joan Fleming said...

I agree, Rosemary - this was a fabulous conference. We were spoiled for choice, and I found myself wishing I could attend two different sessions at the same time. The whole weekend seemed to flash past - I wish I could press the rewind button!

Kate Blackadder said...

Rosemary - sounds like we went to some different talks so perhaps we could swap notes sometime.

Janice Horton said...

Hi Rosemary - I agree - it was a fabulous conference and I SO enjoyed your lovely company over the weekend and sharing the same naughty Scottish kitchen!

It seems you went to all the workshops that I didn't, so we really must compare notes in a bit more detail once we get back in our stride.

I don't know about you but I'm certainly going to need a few days to recover from such an action packed and fun weeekend!

Janice xx

Jean Bull said...

What a great conference it was. I'm glad I went and it was great to meet you!

Barbara Elsborg said...

You sound like you had a great time and an even better surprise at home. I'm with Samhain and I think they're great!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I know exactly what you mean, Joan!

Absolutely, Kate - that would help us both!

Your company is always delightful, Janice! It would be good to compare or swap notes - I'm still processing everything!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Jean - so pleased you managed to go! It was lovely to meet you and I'm so enjoying your book.

Hi Barbara - thanks for visiting! I'm so pleased to hear you like Samhain.

Gilli Allan said...

Thank you so much for posting your impressions of the conference. I now wish I'd gone, but Penrith is a bit of a hike from Gloucestershire. Roll on 2013, or maybe you're going to the Festival Romance in November?

Ute Carbone said...

Sounds like a wonderful conference, Romy. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the story acceptance!

Christine London said...

ooo..I would dearly love to attend one year. "Where you want to be" sounds fabulous. Would love to hear more about that one!

I attend RWA in the states each year and well know how inspirational and informative these can be.

Thanks for sharing!

Christine London

Joanna said...

What a lovely, uplifting post, Rosemary. It looks like a wonderful and inspiring conference.

Huge congratulations on your successes. What fantastic news to come home to!

Carolb said...

It sounds like you (and everyone else) had a great time with lots of useful information and opportunities. Thanks for sharing the details.

And congratulations on the good news that was waiting for you at home.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Gilli - what a shame you couldn't come to Penrith. I'm not sure about the Fest of Romance yet - will let you know!

Thanks for visiting, Ute!

Hi Christine - nice to see you here! I imagine the RWA conference will be even bigger - phew!

Thank you, Joanna! It really was extremely inspiring - now to try and use the information!

Thanks, Carol - the whole weekend was so much fun and so helpful.