Friday, May 27, 2016

FOCUS ON: Norfolk Chapter

In our continuing monthly series, we are pleased to welcome Natalie Meg Evans. We began by asking the name of the Chapter?
Norfolk Chapter (not very original – but we’ve never discussed something snappier). We now have several members from neighbouring Suffolk, so cover much of East Anglia. We probably qualify to be renamed the 'The Intriguing Angles' or the 'Prevailing Easterlies'. Could be a subject for a lunchtime discussion...
How long has your chapter been running and how often do you meet?
We’ve been running for two-and-a-half years and we meet bi-monthly, though this month we're slipping as there seem to be a lot of deadlines hitting all at once. It's also a busy month for those of our members in the teaching profession.
Where is your regular meeting place?
We meet at the Pizza Express in the Forum in Norwich. Several of us come from quite a distance away and the Forum has the benefit of decent parking and also houses Norwich's large library. I'm not saying that some of us sneak it to check that our novels are on the shelf, but we could if we wished.
How many members attend your meetings?
6-9, though numbers are growing as new members join. 
I see you meet at Pizza Express. Do your meetings include a meal?
Definitely! For some of us, a decent pizza is at least twenty-five miles away from home, so our venue is a popular choice. We sit and talk, order from the menu and occasionally go crazy and have pudding too. No alcohol though as there is invariably a drive home.
Is your chapter open to non-members of the RNA?
Our membership is purely RNA, but we have people who are new to the association alongside others who have been members for a long time. The chapter is welcoming and a valuable source of information for newcomers. During the course of our meal, we share the kind of knowledge that only comes from direct experience, the joyful and the painful. The hilarious and, occasionally, the unprintable. We are a ‘social’ chapter who meet to exchange news, celebrate/commiserate and talk shop. Recently, we had a very welcome visit from Jean Fullerton, chapter liaison. That apart, we're pretty informal.
What do you have planned for 2016?
To continue as before.
What would you say makes your chapter of the RNA so special?
Norfolk is a very rural county and writers can feel isolated – it is lovely to get together and just let our writerly hair down.
Who is the contact for new members?
Melanie Hilton (
Thank you for joining us today, Natalie.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

David Headley: Romance in the Court

With so many RNA members looking forward to the first Romance in the Court event on 26th May the RNA blog took the opportunity to chat with David Headley, owner of Goldsboro Books.

Thank you for agreeing to answer our questions. Our members are excited about the first
David Headley & Katie Fforde
‘Romance in the Court’. What made you decide to hold this event?
We wanted to hold an event that would compliment our existing events such as Crime in the Court and History in the Court. Romance in the Court is borne out of our desire to support women’s fiction and to raise the profile of the brilliant authors who write in this genre. It’s also a way of saying thanks to both the wonderful writers who support Goldsboro and our loyal customers. 

Can you tell us what ticket holders can expect from the event?
Anyone who has been to a party at Goldsboro will know that we love hosting parties. We make the evening a relaxed and fun event where writers can meet readers in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere whilst sipping lovely wine. It really is an evening of celebration.

You have a wonderful list of authors in attendance. Will attendees be able to purchase their books?
Yes, all of the featured authors will have their most recently published books for sale.

How did you select the listed authors?
Their publishers invited authors who are attending. We asked each publisher to recommend a handful of authors that they felt most suited to the event.

Have you held reader events for other genres?
Yes, every year for the last five years we have hosted Crime in the Court; History in the Court & Fantasy in the Court. They are hugely popular events with up to 500 people descending on Cecil Court. Both authors and readers love these evenings of celebration.

Can you tell us something about your bookshop?
Goldsboro Books is 17 years old. Daniel and I established Goldsboro Books in 1999 in our sitting room in Newbury, originally as an online bookseller. This soon grew and within 18 months we opened our first shop in Cecil Court. We now have three shops in Cecil Court and are one of the leading independent booksellers in the UK. We specialize in signed first editions and nearly every day we have an author visiting to sign their books.

What is your working day like? How do you split yourself between being a literary agent and owner of a well-known bookshop?
I am a bookseller. That is how I see myself. I run both companies but the two go hand in hand. I am very organised and manage my time effectively so that each company gets the very best time from me. My colleagues are very talented people and all of them help enormously and without them I couldn’t do it. I have also established a third company, Bookman and Black, which will launch in Autumn this year. It is an online bookshop that will provide readers with an alternative online shopping experience with all the joy and magic of browsing a physical bookshop, offering the
An earlier event
knowledge and expertise of the professional bookseller.
It is a very different model to any online bookshop currently operating.

When you aren’t working how do you enjoy your leisure time? Do you have any hobbies?
I love reading in my spare time, obviously. It is a way I relax as well as keeping up-to-date with what books are being published. I also love going to the gym and walking with my partner and our dogs.

Thank you, David. We hope that Romance in the Court will be the first of many events our members can attend to meet fellow authors.

Romance in the Court will be held on 26th May 6 – 9 PM.

For further details visit the Romance in the Court website

Featured authors include:
Veronica Henry,  Katie Fforde,  Janie Millman,  Judy Astley, Jules Wake, Jo Thomas, 
Vanessa Greene, Virginia Macgregor, Sarra Manning, Lisa Dickenson, Emma Fraser, 
Sue Watson, Fiona Field, Tasmina Perry, Carole Matthews, Hilary Boyd, Adele Geras, 
Cate Woods, Natalie Meg Evans, Stella Newman, Rowan Coleman, Cathy Bramley, 
Fanny Blake, Liz Fenwick, Victoria Walters, Stephanie Butland, Catherine Law, 
Sarah Long, Holly Martin, Eileen Ramsey, Madeleine Reiss, Julie Cohen, Lucy Foley, 
Sareeta Domingo, Fionnuala Kearney, Sarah Vaughan, Freya North, Isabelle Broom, 
Rachael Lucas, Alex Brown, Eva Rice, Nicola Cornick, Jodi Ellen Malpas, 
Cathy Woodman, Harriet Evans, Louise Lee, Gill Paul

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jan Ellis visits the RNA Summer Party 2016

We welcome Jan Ellis to the blog to tell us about her trip to London for the Romantic Novelists' Association Summer Party.

'Looking at the brightly lit entrance of the Royal Over-Seas League in London's smart St James's, her knees almost buckled with nerves. Clutching her ticket to her bosom she took a deep breath and stepped inside . . . '

Yes, dear reader, that was me one year ago at my first RNA Summer Party. Taking that initial step
was pretty daunting: would I recognise anybody? Would anyone talk to me or would I end up weeping quietly behind a pillar? Most important of all: would there be any food?

As it turned out, I needn't have worried. I was amazed by how many people I already 'knew', having met and chatted to them on social media. Those kind people – in particular Karen Aldous and Samantha Tonge – then introduced me to their friends and I was off! And yes, there was excellent food, including mini fish and chips and perfect scones with jam and cream, which were definitely worth getting fat for.

Emboldened by the success of party number one, I decided to give number two a whirl and had a great time yet again at the winter event in November. Last week I attended my second Summer Party. This year I was also able to attend the AGM, which gave me a better sense of how hard working and professional members of the RNA committee are. Chairwoman Eileen Ramsey took us through the highlights of the previous twelve months, including the ROMNA Awards. Treasurer Gill Stewart presented the accounts and was pleased to note that the organisation is in excellent financial health.
After the short meeting, a number of us helped Elaine Everest and the team to put out the names badges until we were herded out of the room by paparazzi keen to get shots of the nominees for the big award of the evening. As there was a gap then until the party began, I wandered down to the elegant terrace bar and joined Wendy Clarke, Susan Griffin and Merryn Allingham for a pre-party drink. Duly refreshed, we then headed up to the splendid Hall of India and Pakistan where 180 RNA members were gathering in their best frocks and fabulous shoes. The men may be few in number, but they all scrub up well and join in gamely with the gals.

The main event of the evening was the presentation of the Joan Hessayon Award, which went to
Clare Harvey for her wartime novel The Gunner Girl (Simon & Schuster UK). In her heart-felt acceptance speech, Clare said she wished to share the prize with her anonymous RNA reader to whom she owed so much.

Once the presentations had been made, everyone got on with the serious business of eating canapes and chatting. I was delighted to catch up with some of the great people I've met thanks to the RNA including Anita Chapman, Carol Cooper, Carrie Elks, John Jackson, Alison Knight, Holly Martin, Annie Peters (Annie Lyons), Julie Vince and others too numerous to mention.

If there are RNA members out there wondering whether it's worth attending one of the parties, my advice is do it! You'll discover a whole bunch of clever, supportive writers just waiting to be your friends.

Finally, I'd like to thank party-organiser extraordinaire Tracy Hartshorn (Sally Quilford) who was sadly unable to attend the event. She was much missed and we all look forward to seeing her again in the future.

About Jan:
Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Twitter @JanEllis_writer

Thank you for covering the event so splendidly for the RNA blog, Jan. We are in awe of anyone who can juggle a notepad and pen as well as a glass of wine!

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Nikki Moore: Top 5 Reasons to Attend a Writing Workshop

It’s great to welcome back Nikki Moore with her most interesting tips on attending workshops and events.

Summer is finally here, and I’ve enjoyed many hours in the garden over the last few weekends either
reading or dreaming up ideas for new books. I hope everyone’s had a chance to enjoy the sun.

As it’s the last in the writing workshop series from me for now, I thought a nice way to end it would be sharing the reasons why I think you should go to one (or many, if you have the desire and the funds!)

1.     To Learn Something New
I’m a great believer that no-one knows everything, even about their specialist subject, and that nobody ever stops being a learner. Life should be full of rich and fulfilling experiences that expand your horizons and teach you something, whether it’s new topic knowledge or discovering something about yourself. Attending a workshop should give you the solution to whatever problem may have been plaguing you or your writing, or enhance an area of your writing you want to improve, whether it’s plotting, characterisation, dialogue, setting etc.

2.     To Meet Like Minded people a.k.a You’re Not Alone!
Writing can be a very lonely business. It normally means hours spent toiling over a laptop or PC, often early in the morning or late at night if you have a day job. It’s just you in your head creating your story (although at the risk of sounding eccentric, my characters keep me company). Interruptions from other people are irritating, pulling you out of whatever scene you’re in the middle of. So, sitting in a room bouncing ideas off your peers or sharing horror stories about a saggy middle or writer’s block can be enormously comforting. It’s nice to know that other people are experiencing doubts or fears, or are stuck at a junction and can’t decide on the right direction. They can often help you, or push you on to keep going. Never underestimate the power of talking to people who really understand you.

3.     To Motivate You
Hearing other people’s success stories, which you usually do in writing workshops because most have a mixed audience of beginner’s, published authors and even best selling novelists, can really inspire you. I know they always make me think, ‘that’s amazing; if she / he can do it, surely I can.’ I just can’t wait to get home and open up the manuscript again. I feel rejuvenated and refreshed, and my writing is definitely the better for it. I remember why I love writing so much, and enjoy it even more.

4.     To Network
Writing workshops can be a great place to meet authors and industry professionals, who may be delivering a topic or appearing on a panel. You never know what writing tips you might pick up, whether it’s about a publisher looking for a certain type of book, or experiences with agents. You never know who might know someone who knows someone that might lead you to your lucky break / a new contract  / being asked to attend an event. Talking about yourself and your book is also great practice for times when you’ll need to pitch to publishers or agents, and the more you do this, the more your confidence will grow. Be sure to take your writer business cards with you to give out, if you have them. However, don’t be cynical and attend a workshop or seminar just for this reason – simply bear it in mind as an added extra. Lunch time or coffee breaks are the time to do this, NOT during the sessions.

5.     New Material for Promo
Whether you’re published or not, the expectation is that you’ll have a social media presence. Publishers and agents often use this in their decision making. So set up a blog, Twitter, Facebook – whatever you think will suit you best – establish your author brand, and use the workshop experience as material for promo. Write a blog post about it, and/or Tweet about it with pictures of the venue, hashtag #amwriting or #writingworkshops and include the tutor’s Twitter handle if they have one. This can be effective publicity, and can also show that you’re serious about this writing lark.

Have I convinced you yet? Have you ever attended a workshop and if so, what do you think? Why not book a place on a workshop and feedback your thoughts in the comments below?

Enjoy! Nikki xx

Thank you for your most enjoyable article, Nikki. We look forward to hearing from you in the future and wish you well with your writing. Thank you for the many interviews you’ve undertaken for the RNA blog.

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