Thursday, 18 July 2013

Romantic Novelists' Association Conference 2013 by Johanna Grassick

There’s nothing like a writers’ conference to reenergise the creative spirit! No, seriously, it really does, and that’s why I try and go to the RNA conference every year.
Seeing and mingling with published authors (the likes of Katie Fforde, Julie Cohen, Judy Astley…) reminds me of what I’m aiming for, the workshops provide tips on how to get there, and then there’s the added benefit of catching up with good friends.
Sonia Duggan
This year the venue was Sheffield University and the sun was shining on us in more ways than one. I went to workshops on writing ‘hot’ scenes, theme and romantic structure, and life coach Sonia Duggan’s advice for how to ‘feel the fear and write anyway’. 
There were also panel discussions, and a hot topic this year was diversification: more and more authors, it seems, are writing across different genres, sometimes under different pen names, and part of the reason for this is digital publishing and the opportunities it’s opening up for writers. It seems ideas are buzzing for new ways to reach readers: e-stories published in weekly instalments, tiny short stories delivered directly to readers’ phones, romantic writers writing crime and vice versa. Publishers are setting up new digital imprints and there was applause for the many romantic novelists who have signed their first contracts this year and can now call themselves published authors. All very exciting and inspiring for a new writer like myself. J
Gathering for the gala dinner

The gala dinner was another highlight of the weekend.
Jacqui Cooper, Anne Stenhouse, Rachael Thomas
and Sarah-Jane Volkers

The chance to don our sparkly frocks, and time for the announcement of the Elizabeth Goudge trophy winner.
This competition is open to any published or unpublished author attending the conference, and all entries are anonymous so even the judges don’t know the winner’s name until they open the envelope accompanying the winning story. This year we were asked to write the opening of a novel on the theme of 'ice'. Sadly, my entry wasn’t a winner but these lovely ladies came first, second and third:

Winner of the Elizabeth Goudge trophy, Kate Johnson (right),
with runners up Morton Gray (left) and Jacqui Cooper (centre)

These are exciting times for writers, was the message I took away from this year's conference, and the sun is shining down on writers and readers and lovers of romantic fiction.


  1. Hullo Jo, It was a really good conference and the opportunity to meet up with friends and cyber friends is precious. Anne

  2. Hi Anne. Yes it was great sharing a flat with you. And the bottle of rosé too!x

  3. It was a fantastic conference and great to see you Jo. Each time I go I come away feeling so inspired, but this year even more so.

  4. It was another good conference, wasn't it? Writers talking shop - lovely!

  5. Hi Rachael, yes the mood was very positive. :)

  6. Hi Melinda. Yes it was, and I really enjoyed your workshop on managing your time. Have invested in a stopwatch!

  7. Hi jo. So glad you came away enthused. I would love to get there one day. Caroline x

  8. Hi jo. So glad you came away enthused. I would love to get there one day. Caroline x

    1. HI Caroline. Yes, I really recommend it. Hope your writing's going well.x


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