Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Great Day Out at the RNA Conference 2015

This year, as the RNA Conference was at Queen Mary's University, Mile End, London, I decided to just go for the Saturday, but to be honest, as I left at 5.30, I wished I was staying!
I travelled with Jen Gilroy ( who, this year, is an RWA Golden Heart Finalist!! Their conference is in New York this week and I hope that you join with me in wishing Jen the best of luck!
Arriving in time to pick up our goody bags (you can see some of the contents in the photo), my first session was with Jane Wenham-Jones which I was looking forward to because she gives such entertaining talks. This one was a 'Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of?' workshop, based on her book of the same name. In her inimitable style, she talked about making the perfect elevator pitch which, if it works before the publisher or agent has reached their floor, can be followed up with a good anecdote about why you wrote the book, which I found useful later in the day!
Then after coffee break, where I caught up with Jen and chatted with some people that I'd met on previous conferences (it's a fact that the more conferences you attend, the more people you know!) I went to Hazel Gaynor's 'Promotion Commotion'. With an impressive two video screens, she told us not only to excel at social media, but to also be a real person attending events and meeting people face to face which she did as a self-published novelist with The Girl Who Came Home, and also afterwards when it was taken up by publishers, William Morrow.
Lunchtime was rather crowded, but I did meet up with Rosemary Gemmell, a longtime online friend from Scotland. She is promoting her new book The Highland Lass, and I was impressed with her giveaway in the goody bag: a beautiful tiny thistle tied with tartan ribbon and a heart-shaped chocolate in a tiny cellophane bag together with a mini cover of her book. Irresistable!
After lunch, I went to Rowan Coleman's session about 'Five Reasons Novels Fail and How To Avoid Them'. I thought one of her best pieces of advice was to:
     'Find the time to write 500 words each day, then they will soon add up and you'll be 'in the zone' thinking about writing the story and you'll find it easier to write each day'.
I think that I'll definitely give that a go!
Then it was 'Following your Heart' with Jane Johnson. She had a captivating tale to tell of how she met her husband in Morocco. Being Cornish, she was intrigued to hear an article on Radio 4 about the Barbary Pirates who kidnapped Cornish people as white slaves, and remembered her mother telling her tales about someone from her family who had been kidnapped. Determined to find out more, she visited Morocco to do some research for a novel and, with a friend called Bruce, to do some climbing. She found the perfect Moroccan man to base her Pirate King on, who in turn rescued Jane and Bruce when they got stuck climbing a difficult rock face. And, dear reader, she married him! You can find out more about this by reading The Tenth Gift which I'm add to my reading list!
I actually had an appointment with a publisher during this talk, and was hoping to hear what happened before I had to leave, but luckily Cristal Phillips told me what I'd missed!
At the appointment, I was able to put Jane Wenham-Jones advice to use when I was asked what other books I had written. I'd only been thinking about promoting the current one, but put on the spot, I was able to remember what Jane had said about the perfect elevator pitch!
The last session was Jenny Barden and Joanna Hickson giving an entertaining talk about 'Researching Historical Fiction'. I loved it!
I had a wonderful day at the conference. Thank you Jan, Roger and Jenny who organised it!
But, I think I'll go back to staying the weekend though, next year!


  1. Great overview of your day, Jean, and thanks for the mention! You packed a lot in and it's good to hear about a couple of the sessions I missed. I do hope you get good news from the publisher and I hope to see you at Lancaster next year!

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I've downloaded and hope to read The Highland Lass soon!

    2. Oh, thank you, Jean - hope you enjoy it!