Monday, June 12, 2017

How the RNA Conference provided GINspiration

Today we welcome Catherine Miller who not only tells us about her latest publication but also opportunities at the RNA Conference.

I love going to the RNA conference. There is always so much to gain in terms of the variety of talks,
the 121s available, and the conversations to be had at the bar.

As writers, I think we often have more than one idea vying for attention and The Gin Shack on the Beach was just that. An idea I was generally pushing aside as it was a different genre and I’d thought it could potentially be a side project I could do with The Romaniacs for fun.

Then along came conference. It’s opportunities like this that can help shape and inspire you and the conference in 2016 did just that. There were three moments that helped me decide even if it was a different genre, The Gin Shack idea was one worth pursuing. The first was a lecture with Clio Cornish and Charlotte Mursell. It was about HQ (the new imprint of my publishers – previously Carina UK) and what they were looking for. Clio mentioned older heroines and my ears pricked up because the idea for The Gin Shack was exactly what they were describing.

The second moment was when Mills and Boon authors and editors had a get together drink in the bar. Clio and Charlotte were there as part of HQ and I was invited along. It didn’t take much alcohol for me to start pitching the idea to Clio. To be honest, I think elevator pitches should be rebranded bar pitches. I’m sure that’s where they all happen at conference. Clio loved the idea and encouraged me to send it to Victoria.

The third moment was talking to the formidable and sadly missed, Carole Blake. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to have a full conversation with her in previous years, but time has taught me everyone in the industry is approachable, even agents and editors. I wanted to find out if Hattie Grunewald was still at the conference as we’d met earlier in the year and I was due to submit some work to her as she was considering representing me. (I’m happy to say she now does.) Carole was well known as a gin-lover so I chatted with her about the idea briefly and realised if Carole approved, it must be a good idea.

Not long after conference, I wrote a blurb and was offered a contract on the back of that blurb and a synopsis. So, there are very good reasons for having alcohol-fuelled conversations at conference. Not least because they are lots of fun, but because they can also lead to being inspired in ways you didn’t expect.

This year, I’m hoping the good fortune conference gave to me goes full circle. I’m doing my first solo talk on pitches and synopsis, and conference attendees get the chance to send their pitches to me with the best going to my agent, Hattie. I’m hoping it gives someone on the New Writers’ Scheme or an author looking to get an agent the opportunity they need. I also plan to drink gin. Chat drunkenly about wayward ideas. Try not to show myself up. And generally have a ball. Hope to see some of you at the bar.

Thank you, Catherine and good luck with your book – cheers!

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Laura E. James said...

Haha! I remember this so clearly, Catherine :-) It was a brilliant Conference, as it always is, and I'm looking forward to sharing this next one with you and our RNA friends. Love the sound of your workshop xx

Unknown said...


The workshop sounds great- Is it on the list as I can't find it? Also, can anyone send a synopsis pitch? Patricia xx (P.S Shark girl gamer is my daughter and I need to work out how to change it 😆)

Rae Cowie said...

Fantastic post, Catherine illustrating how to make the most of time at conference. I love the sound of your talk, but sadly won't be there this year. (Already looking forward to the Romance Matters write up!) Good luck and looking forward to reading The Gin Shack on the Beach very soon. xx

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