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This competition is open to any published or unpublished author attending the conference, and all entries are anonymous so even the judges don’t know the winner’s name until they open the envelope accompanying the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.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Sunbathing by Knight by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

OK, OK. Forgive the pun in the title. I just couldn't resist, though. How else could I bring together two very different books, connected by one launch party? Anyway, before I get a barrage of comments, I'll drop in a photo of some cakes, to distract you all.

Did that work?

Well, Friday 5th was the official Novelistas' joint celebration for the launch of the Belinda Jones' Travel Club SUNLOUNGER anthology and THE TROUBLE WITH KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR. Louise Marley and I both have short stories in SUNLOUNGER ('An Indecent Proposal' and 'Genie of the Rock') and the KNIGHTS book is my latest release.

Cue, another pic:

You can see I brought suitable props. Stripey goody bags, great for the beach, and knight's helmet and sword, courtesy of my son's dressing up box. And, yes, I did have a fit of the giggles before I even had one sip of champagne! 

You might be forgiven for thinking my latest story is an historical, but both the KNIGHTS book and SUNLOUNGER are very much contemporary women's fiction. 

For Sunlounger (and KNIGHTS, too) Louise and I had to draw heavily on our imaginations and memories to craft our stories, as they're set during long, sultry, summer days, but were mostly written when snow and ice lay thick on the hills and valleys of North Wales.

SUNLOUNGER - the Ultimate Beach Read!

My SUNLOUNGER story is set in Gibraltar, and possibly features a genie, but you would have to read it to find out for sure!

Louise's SUNLOUNGER tale takes place in dreamy Sorrento, for fans of hunky, rumpled rock stars, ice cream, and Limoncello. A fun and evocative read. Highly recommended!

In fact, the entire collection of SUNLOUNGER stories, over forty in total, offers a varied selection of fabulous stories, truly something for everyone. And each one is set in an exotic foreign location, so you really do get a world trip for the price of one book.

The Trouble With Knights In Shining Armour
As for my my new release, THE TROUBLE WITH KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR, the action unfolds on a rambling old country estate in North Wales, where things are not quite what they seem; a modern day fairytale for fans of Once Upon a Time and Merlin. (Currently at the promotional price of 77p.)

All in all, the launch lunch went very well, although we were missing a few Novelistas, who were there in spirit. The only upside to this was more cakes and champagne for the rest of us, but I would have gladly swapped my share to have everyone there to join in the fun!

Novelistas Ink has now 'broken up' for the summer, although we'll still be posting on this blog and our Facebook page,, so keep in touch.

Let's enjoy the sunshine while we have it, and make the most of these gorgeous summer days and knights (sorry, sorry)! 

All best wishes,
Valerie-Anne x