My mind hasn’t stopped buzzing since coming home from the RNA Conference this weekend. All the books I’m going to write, the publishers I shall court, the romantic novels I mean to read. The months ahead are going to be busy, busy, busy… Conference is always a lively affair, but this year we excelled ourselves.

The Romantic Novelist Association is celebrating 50 years this year, quite an achievement, and chose as their venue the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. The historic setting was fab, even the weather was perfect.

Friday was the industry day which I found particularly interesting, if a tad depressing in the current economic market. I wonder if publishers ever consider that reducing the size of a paperback might increase sales. With mobile phones and computers getting smaller, how is it paperbacks are now the size of bricks? Too big for my shelves, let alone my luggage or handbag. There was much talk of the effect of ebooks, and I was tempted to question the speaker on the fairness of giving such low royalties to hard working authors. Since these would last the length of copyright, until 70 years after death, it seems even more unfair in an emerging market where no one yet knows how important ebooks may become.  More worryingly it seems we have to disguise romance as something else. E.g: a thriller with a romantic thread. Excuse me? Why, exactly? What’s wrong with a good old fashioned love story? On the plus side we were told of the growth in aspirational travel tales, romantic suspense, the paranormal, and historical fiction. So perhaps there’s still hope, and writers are born optimists.

I attended many fascinating sessions over the weekend, including Dee Williams talking about how she got started with her sagas; what the US market is looking for; Samhain and ebooks; Sue Moorcroft on selling short stories; and Susanna Kearsley on research. I bought her book Sophie’s Secret, which has already got me in its grip. Writers are always generous with their help, and as at any conference you can pick up as many tips from chatting over coffee.

The climax came with our main speaker Joanna Trollope on Sunday. Her talk was not only interesting but equally thought-provoking, decrying the publishers current passion for producing cartoon jackets as if the women who read romantic fiction aren’t intelligent. In the discussion afterwards the general feeling was that perhaps editors were dumbing down the contents too, in order to play safe. Is it because of the economic situation that no one is being particularly adventurous just now? If so, then doesn’t that stifle creativity?

Writers also know how to party - it’s all that sitting alone talking to the computer - and the Gala Dinner at the Trafalga Inn was superb. This is me on the left with my friend's Karen Abbot and Sylvia Broady who both write for Robert Hale and D C. Thompson. It was a lovely warm summer’s evening with the soft lap of the Thames and swish of passing boats as we quaffed champagne on the balcony. What could be more romantic than that? And it did keep on flowing. On the Saturday evening we enjoyed a relaxing and cool BBQ in a wonderful historic court. A perfect setting to gossip about books with writer friends.

Sunday morning found my friends and I playing hookie to view the Painted Hall. Words cannot do it justice. It is quite astonishing. We took a few moments to sit in the chapel and soak in the magic as the choir sang. Beautiful.

Altogether a most successful event, and for any first timers I should think they will be aching to come again.

Happy Anniversary RNA.


  1. I'm sorry we didn't get much of a chance to talk, Freda, though I was aware of you floating past on occasion, from talk to talk!

    I believe we're both with LBA, and I did mean to stop for a chat because of that, but alas ... perhaps at the next big RNA event?

  2. Yes I found the industry day and JT's an interesting bookend to the conference...still mulling things over in my head...Good to see you.


  3. Thanks Jane, yes it's always like that at conference. Dashing about and not always catching the people you'd like to talk to. Good to meet you too, Liz. I'm with Amanda at LBA and she's lovely. Next time, eh?

  4. I had a wonderful time too, but could only make the Gala Dinner and Saturday at the conference. I thought Dee William's talk was so interesting and can't wait to go again next year.