Friday, October 23, 2015

Focus on Chapters: with Chapter Liaison, Jean Fullerton

Today we welcome RNA Chapter Liaison, Jean Fullerton to the blog.

Welcome, Jean. There has been much discussion recently on the RNA Facebook page about setting up chapters in areas where members are thinly spread and don’t have access to a group locally. Can you give any advice to people who live, for example, in the far west or east, north of south of Scotland, or in Cornwall?

The main problem people have in setting up new chapters is that of transport. Sadly there aren’t enough members in each and every town so unfortunately people have to travel. I don’t have a simple answer to this but one way might be to change the venue for each meeting as the Border Reivers do, or to plan your meeting to account for winter weather like the Marcher Chapter do. My best advice is to engage at some level with your local group. Many chapters like Leicester’s Beaumont Belles have Yahoo loops and Facebook pages, so link in with those and if possible go to a Christmas or special event. If there is really no other way you could start your own chapter with just two or three of you.

For the rest, I am aware that you have visited several chapters. Presumably each has its own ‘personality’. Have you ever found anything that really surprised you?
Jean on a visit to the
Beaumont Bells
I have visited all the chapters at least once, except for the Yorkshire Terriers when the train was cancelled at the last minute, and I’m in the process of starting my tour again. Natalie, each chapter has its own personality, but one thing all the chapters have in common is their warm welcome. The thing that most surprised me as I travel round the chapters is the number of long-standing RNA members who I’ve never met at Conference, a party or an award event. This has reinforced my believe that the chapters play a crucial role in supporting members who, for whatever reason, cannot get to the London based events.

For the past two years the RNA has very generously given groups a donation to ‘put on’ something special. If chapters are not sure what form this should take, do you have any suggestions? What have you seen so far?

The chapters have been very creative with the Committee’s generous donation but for the most part the event has taken the form of a craft or mini-industry day with speakers. Last year the London and SE Chapter put on a workshop day and I was able to twist the arm of my agent, Laura Longrigg, and my editor from Orion to take part. It can be something like a write-in, which the Yorkshire Terriers organised. We’re not prescriptive but it is designed to provide funds for an internal writing related event rather than external promotion.

I know from my own experience at the London & SE Chapter that the support and advice given and received within this sub-section of the RNA is invaluable and can be instrumental in moving forward a writer’s career. What have you found?

Absolutely the same, Natalie. I’ve said it before but it’s true. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the RNA, the NWS and the London & SE Chapter. It’s because I’ve been and still am so supported by the organisation as a whole and the London & SE Chapter in particular that I’ve taken on the role of chapter liaison. My vision for the future of the chapters would be for them to have a greater voice and to see more regional events taking place like the recent and very successful York Tea.

Thank you for joining us today, Jean. I’m sure many of our members will be inspired and, for those of you reading this who don’t belong to or have access to a chapter, start one. Even with only one or two members you’ll be surprised where it will lead you.

Would you like to join an RNA Chapter? A complete list along with Jean's contact details can be found inside Romance Matters.

If you would like your Chapter to be featured here please contact Natalie on

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you wish to write for the blog please contact us on


Unknown said...

Thank you for answering our questions, Jean xx

Jean Fullerton-East End Girl & Author said...

Thanks for asking me, Elaine.

Anonymous said...

Your blog has given me something to think about. I'd like to connect with authors in my area, so I shall certainly see if there is something already up and running near to home. Thank you.