Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Introducing the New RNA Social Media Co-ordinator

Hello! For those of you who don't know me already, I’ve been a member of the RNA for the past four years. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme initially, after lots of other writers recommended it to me. I've loved every minute of being on the Scheme, and have learnt so much as well. During those four years, I've self-published two contemporary romance novels, with some more on the way, and as a result, I'm just about to graduate from the Scheme to become a full, independent member of the RNA.

I thoroughly enjoy being a member of the RNA and have thrown myself into the social life it offers its members with great enthusiasm, attending conferences, parties, afternoon teas and chapter meetings all around the country. I've also been very lucky to make lots of new friends as a result of being a member, something I didn’t expect to be doing at this stage in my life. I love the way the RNA welcomes everyone as equals, so newbies can find themselves talking to big names, and mixing with writers and publishing folk at all different stages of their careers.

In my life outside writing, I work part-time for a local charity as their communications officer, overseeing their marketing, PR, social media and website activities. I also work freelance as a proofreader, website trouble-shooter and occasional supply teacher – a real Jill-of-all-trades! I live with my husband in Bedfordshire. We have two daughters; one is now away at university and the other is studying for her ‘A’ levels.

Since autumn 2016, I have been supporting Adrienne Vaughan, as deputy editor of Romance Matters, the RNA’s wonderful magazine, and now I’m taking on the role of social media co-ordinator, with responsibility for the blog, Twitter and the RNA’s Facebook page. Elaine Everest has done a sterling job for the past five years, and we’re all very grateful to her and her wonderful team for raising the RNA’s profile in that time.

I have a great blog team to support me and we're planning to keep blogging two or three times a week, with a mixture of regular blog posts about your favourite items – competitions, new releases, interviews with book reviewers and authors – as well as news items as and when they crop up, and some new ideas too. If you have any ideas for features you’d like to see, please do let me know and we will do our best to bring the subject to you.

I look forward to taking on the blog completely from Alison May in the New Year, and to taking it from strength to strength as we move forward. Thank you for all the support you have shown the blog in the past – I hope you will continue to do so for many years to come.


My latest book The Vineyard in Alsace is available now.

Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?

Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free of him and to leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace, in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.

Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.

Working so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way? 

A romantic read set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in France.

Connect with me here:

Monday, November 20, 2017

November Competition Monthly!

There are a number of speculative fiction competitions this month, featuring fantasy, science fiction and the supernatural. Maybe it's because of the long nights we're now facing, but at least it might get you in the mood for writing one of these stories.

It was a couple of years ago now I mentioned record keeping on the competition monthly, so it's
worth bringing the subject up again. I'm certain I'd have got into a right mess with my submissions without my spreadsheets. I used to add the competition entries to the sheet for my magazine subs, but eventually created a new spreadsheet especially for the comps, which I found much more useful.
These are in date order. I also keep a paper system. This is an exercise book set out by story. This does include the magazine submissions and allows me to see exactly where each story has been sent.

Novel competition entries likewise go on the competition sheet, but I also add them to the spreadsheet for each novel. It sounds complicated but really makes everything much simpler. Since at times I've had up to sixty 'out theres' of various kinds, whether competitions, magazine subs or novel subs, it's important to keep control of it all. I'd hate to send a story or novel out to the same place twice, and incur the annoyance of the competition or publisher concerned.

Best of luck with the competitions you enter, and don't forget to let us know of any competition success you have.

**Closing very soon**
The Creative Competitor Temptation Writing Competition
Theme: Temptation, 500 words max
Prize: £400 / £250 / £100
Closing date: 25 Nov 2017
Entry: £3.50

**Closing soon**
Fields of Words Feature / Genre Competition
Theme: Ghosts / Hauntings, 1,000 – 2,000 words
Prize: AUD$500 / $125
Closing date: 30 November 2017 (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Entry: AUD$20

**Closing soon**
Ink Tears Short Story Contest
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,500 words
Prize: £1,000 / £100 / 4 x £25
Closing date: 30 November 2017
Entry: £7.50

**Closing soon**
Writers' Bureau Flash Fiction Competition
Theme: Open, 500 words max.
Prize: £300 / £200 / £100 plus WB course for all winners
Closing date: 30 November 2017
Entry: £5

Creative Competitor 'Storm' Writing Competition
Theme: Storm, 700 words max.
Prize: £400 / £250 / £100
Closing date: 5 December 2017

Writing Magazine Other Worlds Competition
Theme: SciFi and Fantasy, 1,500 – 1,700 words.
Prize: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication on website
Closing date: 15 December 2017
Entry: £5 / £3 subscribers

Audio Arcadia's Science Fiction Short Story Competition
Theme: SciFi, 5,000 words.
Prize: 10 winning stories will be published and each winner will receive a royalty percentage of sales.
Closing date: 31 December 2017
Entry: £5.50

Writing Magazine Open Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 1,500 – 1,700 words.
Prize: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication on website
Closing date: 15 January 2018
Entry: £5 / £3 subscribers

Retreat West First Chapter Competition
Theme: First chapter of an unpublished novel, up to 3,500 words. Open theme.
Prize: First 3 chapters, cover letter and synopsis reviewed by a literary agent.
Closing date: 28 January 2018
Entry: £15

The Creative Competitor Now or Never Creative Writing Competition
Theme: Now or Never, 800 words max.
Prize: £600 / £400 / £200
Closing date: 28 January 2018
Entry: £4

Bath Novella in Flash Award
Theme: Open, Adult or YA. 6,000 – 18,000 words.
Prize: £300 / 2 x £100, all 3 published.
Closing date: 29 January 2018
Entry: £16

The Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition
Theme: Supernatural, 1,000 – 7,000 words.
Prize: £500 / £200 / £100
Closing date: 31 January 2018
Entry: £8

Writers' Forum Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,000 words.
Prize: £300 / £150 / £100
Closing date: Rolling competition.
Entry: £6 / £3 subscribers

The Writing District Contest
Theme: Open, 3,000 words max.
Prize: $50
Closing date: Last day of every month.
Entry: Free

Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers' Conference, Retreat West, Meridian Writing, Wells Festival and Writing Magazine. She's had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and in three anthologies, including Diamonds and Pearls and 100 Stories for Haiti. She is a member of the RNA New Writers' Scheme and the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog along with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.

This blog was prepared by blog team member, Louisa Heaton.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The RNA Industry Awards 2017 Celebrate those who Champion Romantic Fiction


London: 15 November 2017 The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) is delighted to announce the winners of its annual industry awards, which this year feature the addition of a new category, Librarian of the Year. This new award recognises the important work that librarians do in supporting the romantic fiction genre, and the Association in particular. Six awards were presented during the RNA’s Winter Party, held in the Library at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London.

Librarian of the Year
Shirley Everall, Librarian of the Year
Shirley Everall, Librarian of the Year
The inaugural award was presented to Shirley Everall, Audience Development Officer, Hertfordshire Libraries, for hosting a great number of events for RNA members, and promoting romantic fiction in Hertfordshire Libraries.
Runner-up Rachel Gee, from Tiverton Library, was nominated for her continual support and proactivity in promoting romantic fiction.

Romantic Bookseller of the Year
Kearan Ramful, Sainsbury's
This award recognises booksellers promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year. This year’s winner, Kearan Ramful, book buyer for Sainsbury’s Plc, was awarded the title for his continuing support for romantic fiction by selecting many romantic titles for Sainsbury’s stores. 

Runner-up was David Headley and team at Goldsboro Books.  

Best Adaptation of a Romantic Novel
Debbie Horsfield
The award for best adaptation of a romantic novel, whether for stage, screen (TV or movie) or radio goes to Debbie Horsfield for Poldark Series 3 (BBC TV).  The adaptation must have been broadcast/screened from September 2016 through to the end of September 2017, at any time and for any duration.  After three series, Poldark remains a fantastic series with stunning scenery, excellent casting, and still stays close to the original text. It is one of those can't-be-missed programmes, with a charismatic but flawed hero and heroine.
Runner-up was Whit Stillman and Jane Austen for Love and Friendship, a film based on Jane Austen’s novella.

Media Star of the Year
Blogger Linda Hill was awarded Media Star of the Year for her continued support for romance novels through retweeting, reviewing and blogging. Friendly and professional, even when her TBR pile is overflowing, she’ll take more books on, going above and beyond the call of duty, and all with a smile. This award recognises those who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and/or the RNA in a positive way.  
Blogger Kaisha Holloway was runner-up and was nominated for her great support for authors and her honest, detailed and reflective reviews which are constructively critical.

Agent of the Year
Broo Doherty, DHH Literary Agency
For the literary agent who has striven to support, mentor, nurture and promote their authors’ careers, the genre in general and the RNA in particular. This year’s winner, Broo Doherty, DHH Literary Agency, was nominated for her championing of romantic fiction and support for the RNA. With a list featuring several authors in the genre, she provides guidance and great support to her clients, being honest and tactful, as well as kind, supportive and savvy about romantic fiction. 

Runner-up Rebecca Ritchie, AM Heath Agency, was nominated for her dedication, warmth and genuine passion for the genre. A great editor and all-round fantastic partner, a great listener, offering wise words and sound advice.

Publisher of the Year
Charlotte Ledger, Publisher of the Year
For the publisher who embraces the genre, mentors writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of romantic fiction on every level.  This year’s award goes to Charlotte Ledger, HarperImpulse, for her tireless championing of romance novels at Harper Collins, giving many debut novelists their first break. Open and honest, she provides transparent dealings with those authors under her wing and many nominated her, citing that working with Charlotte is a team effort, and she has a real personal touch when it comes to developing writers’ careers.
Runner-up was DC Thompson, a stalwart and steady publisher of a great number of members over the years. Both The People's Friend and My Weekly magazines have pocket novel imprints and their editors have mentored and published RNA members over many years, following a long tradition of nurturing writers of romance.

The RNA Industry Awards are decided by the membership, with every member eligible to nominate within each category. The awards were presented at the RNA’s Winter Party at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Birdcage Walk, London on 15th November 2017. 

Photos from the event will be available on The Romantic Novelists' Association's website in due course.

For further information please contact:
Or Katrina Power 07 963 962 538 or 

About the Romantic Novelists' Association

The RNA was formed in 1960 to promote romantic fiction and encourage good writing and now represents more than 900 writers, agents, editors and other publishing professionals.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent Rebecca Ritchie

Tonight the winners of the Romantic Novelists' Association Industry Awards 2017 will be announced at the RNA Winter Party. It's a special pleasure to welcome Rebecca Ritchie of the AM Heath Agency to the RNA blog today, because Rebecca has been shortlisted for the literary agent of the year award for her work "supporting, mentoring and nurturing authors' careers and promoting the romance genre and the RNA in particular".
Many congratulations on your nomination, Rebecca, and thank you for taking the time to come and talk to us!

Please tell us a little about the AM Heath Agency, how long it’s been established, and how you came to join.

AM Heath was founded in 1919, which makes it one of the UK’s oldest literary agencies. It represents established contemporary authors like Hilary Mantel, Maggie O’Farrell and Conn Iggulden, iconic literary estates, such as those of George Orwell and Winston Graham, and of course the RNA’s very own, wonderful Katie Fforde. I joined AM Heath in April 2017, after over six years at Curtis Brown where I worked alongside Sheila Crowley and had the pleasure of working on some of my favourite authors – Jojo Moyes, Santa Montefiore and Jane Costello, to name just a few – and also started building my own list. The first author I took on was Iona Grey – who I met at a RNA event! – and her debut novel Letters to the Lost went on to be published by Simon and Schuster and won the overall Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year award in 2016. I joined AM Heath to build up the commercial women’s fiction side of the list, which is an area that the other agents here don’t tend to focus on hugely.

What genres do you represent?
Commercial fiction across the board: contemporary women’s fiction, historical, reading group, crime, thriller and psychological suspense.

What is it you are looking for when a manuscript lands on your desk? Are there any specific plots or themes you’d like to see?
The first thing, of course, is the writing. As an agent, when you open a submission and can tell immediately that someone can truly write – that you’re in the hands of a genuine storyteller – you can relax and let the story transport you with it. Of course the plot and the characters have to be great too, but excellent writing is first and foremost. When it comes to commercial women’s fiction specifically, character is paramount: as a reader you want to really get your teeth into a protagonist’s character, to really root for them or to love to hate them. In terms of specific plots/themes, I’d never want to be too prescriptive, but I’d love to find a really moving love story (heartbreaking, heart-warming, I don’t mind), and while I’m always partial to some gripping psychological suspense I do think the genre is saturated and there are enough horrors to read about in the news, so I’d also love to find something at the opposite end of the spectrum: some uplifting, life-affirming fiction.
Your agency recently put out a call for pitches on Twitter, under the hashtag #TellAMH. How successful was this? Did you have any interesting pitches, and what made them stand out? Is something your agency will be repeating often? (Lots of questions in one here…!)
This was a fun week! We invited debut writers to pitch their novels to us on Twitter (so their pitches had to be concise, 140 characters – not an easy feat), with each day focusing on a different genre. We received hundreds of pitches and invited our favourites to submit directly to us, and I thought the commercial women’s fiction day was particularly strong. The pitches that stood out most were the ones where the novel had a clear, intriguing hook that made you want to read on, or where they asked a question that you just had to know the answer to.

You attended the recent Frankfurt Book Fair. What was your role at the Book Fair and how important is this event for you and your agency?
At the Frankfurt Book Fair (and at the London Book Fair in the Spring) we meet with editors from around the world, pitch our authors’ books and hear what editors are looking to acquire and find out what’s working in their markets. While of course we correspond by phone and email throughout the year, it’s always wonderful to meet with editors face to face and foster those relationships (and of course there are plenty of parties to attend too!) I met with editors from the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Israel and more, and pitched books by my own and also my colleagues’ clients.

What advice would you give someone submitting to you?
Really know your novel: be able to sum up the hook of your novel at the start of your covering letter in an immediately memorable way that just compels me to read on. I always think it’s a good exercise to be able to complete the sentence: “My novel is about a woman/man who…” – it really makes you distil the essence of your novel and what’s unique about it into a single punchy line.

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
I can’t pick one! Sense and Sensibility (my absolute favourite Austen), I Capture the Castle (a more perfect coming-of-age love story there isn’t), The Time Traveller’s Wife, Love Story (small but perfectly formed), Me Before You for starters. But there are so many more.

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most in the past twelve months, and why?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – quirky, sweet, heart-breaking, funny and moving, I loved it.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Tennis, cooking, travelling.

If you could describe your working-day in just three words, what would they be?

Frenetic, fun, fulfilling.

Thanks so much for dropping in, Rebecca, and for your thoughtful answers. Wishing you all the best  and we hope everyone at the Winter Party has a great evening!

* * *

Helena Fairfax writes heartwarming contemporary romances, except when she's in the mood for danger, when she writes romantic suspense. Her novel A Year of Light and Shadows tells the story of how plain Lizzie Smith is plunged into a year of mystery involving a missing princess, a false diamond, and a handsome bodyguard.
You can find out more about Helena's books and her editing services on her website