So I can finally sit and share with you a little from my first experience of a RNA meeting (Romantic Novelists Association).
I had the most inspiring two hours in a conference room in Park Place, St James Street. Set up in the UK some years ago – the Romantic Novelists Association which has a little over a thousand members nationwide has events all over the England throughout the year and details can be found here.
The New Writers Scheme, of which I was also able to secure a place in early January encourages the creation of a manuscript to be submitted anytime from now through to the deadline in August. The £130 fee includes a professional ‘read’ and feedback.
One lady I met and sat next to, also on the scheme, is re-submitting her now 120,000 word novel this year having entered it last year at 170,000. It was suggested she either make it four novellas (as her story followed x4 POVs of the same story) or reduce it to 120,000 max – she chose the second suggestion and has spent the last 12 months cutting and slicing and plans to submit next week! So good luck to her 🍀
The second photo shows Katie Fford the current President, of the RNA presenting this year’s bursary award to a participant of the NWS whom is less able to self-fund their journey but whom shows great promise. Yes, that is the real live Katie Brilliant Fford – she actually exists in the flesh!
(and just because I think her books are amazing, here’s the link to her Website).
I’m rambling…. stay with me
Sophia Bennett was our main guest speaker who has the following published titles, in no particular:
You Don’t Know Me
Sophia talked eloquently for over an hour about her route into writing and why she keeps doing it when the delays in publishing can be punishing and soul-destroying.
She said stories were always desperate to be written from within. Her own past family members had given her stories inspiration yet she frequently tied two aspects together in her writing; love and anger.
For Threads, she wrote about a personal passion of hers – the fashion industry. She had hoped when young to be a designer but was hopeless at drawing; she envied those around her who could, so she created a character who could draw and who goes into the world of fashion and the idea for her book was born.
She viewed a poster on the London Underground of a child in a war zone and was angry about the unfairness of children in dangerous war zones and so on and decided to incorporate child trafficking into her novel via a link with models being brought into the fashion industry.
At the same time, a very good friend became ill with cancer and Sophia felt guilty writing her story when her friend’s life was in question. She used that angst and created a sister for her MC; the sister would struggle with cancer and the plot was how each helped the other through bad times. She did 17 drafts before she showed it to anyone. She finally entered it into The Times competition after a suggestion from her mother.
She won it. She was both elated and horrified and spoke to the organiser and asked if she should take out the trafficking business in case it was ‘too deep’. They explained it was for this very reason they had chosen it! (Reminded me of Cheryl Elaine’s confidence to send out ‘No Ordinary Girl’ into the world 💜).
Sophia told us; ‘write about the tough stuff, don’t leave it out. Be edgy; it’s those aspects which may well grab the attention of an agent or publisher – or reader if you self publish’ … she referred to herself as being confident now to remain a little ‘weird’ or ‘unique’.
I left that building much calmer about what my story contains … and as someone called Jan assured me over tea and biscuits, ‘Just write it. Don’t even worry about too much editing on a big piece; it will cost you a fortune. I am a NWS reader and I see through the incorrect punctuation etc, to the story beyond. If it is shortlisted, we have in-house teams who help. Even if you don’t manage 80,000 words, submit a partial. Don’t waste the opportunity for amazing feedback.’ She smiled and touched my arm….
Sophia also highlighted that for a book to be classed as romantic, a love-story does not always have to follow the happy-ever-after method … and may even contain a harrowing ending.
I’m excited now….. I shall write my piece and find my peace. My Mnemonic 🌸