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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The RNA conference 2017

Back row- Milly, Lynda, Me
Front Row- Chrissie and Debbie
Ever since I joined the RNA NWS I've been hearing about the wonderful conferences that are held annually, so this year I decided to go with some friends. unfortunately they couldn't make it for various reason (sending love to them x) so feeling a little apprehensive I decided that maybe I should just wait until next year.
However my author friends and the friends who couldn't make it all encouraged me to go. Even my hubby encouraged me to go and it was our wedding anniversary, so I popped one of my anniversary roses in my suitcase and off I went up to Harper Adams University in Shropshire and I must admit my hand was held every step of the way.
My anniversary rose
My room
The first contact was Immi Howson who is the NWS co-ordinator, I had left it quite late to get in touch with her, in fact it was only a month before the conference, I wasn't even sure if they'd still be able to fit me in but of course they could. She then shared my email with Jan jones who told me that she had been very nervous for her first one but she loved it so much that she now organises it. I was then contacted by Kate Thomson who looks after the first timers, she kindly invited us to a welcome party in her kitchen on the first night and encouraged us to say a little about ourselves via the group email and when I mentioned what time I was arriving at Stafford station I was contacted by a lovely lady called Suzanne who suggested we shared a taxi.

We arrived at Harper Adams Uni and went to collect our keys, because I've been blogging for a couple of years I've got to know so many wonderful authors and I began to see people I recognised immediately. Lovely Carrie Elks and some of the Romaniacs were in reception and they gave a lovely warm welcome and checked we were okay, then we needed to collect a huge goody bag and a lanyard with a badge with our names on, first timers had a sparkly flower on so that other delegates could be especially kind to them.

On the way to our room we bumped into gorgeous Heidi Swain and Jenni Keer so there were lots more hugs, there were approximately 8 en-suite rooms in our flat and we had a shared kitchen. I then saw the fabulous Milly Johnson who along with Heidi had also encouraged me to come so yet more hugs there. By this time I'm feeling extremely welcomed and was able to relax and enjoy the next few days in wonderful company.
Me with Heidi and Milly x

All of the lectures were over in the Weston building and there was such a vast range of sessions and lectures to choose from. We had been invited to pre-book 1-1's with various industry professionals but I thought I would leave that until next time.

After a quick cup of tea the rest of the weekend passed in a whirlwind of information and fun, the best thing was that I was so interested in all of the lectures. I couldn't possibly list all of the sessions that were available so I will just pick out a few of my highlights.

Felicity Trew started with the role of an agent and how to write the perfect submissions letter, it was both funny and shocking to hear some of the examples she had used which had been based on some real submissions she'd had and the session was really enjoyable and informative.

Next was a welcome session by Nicola Cornick (Chair) and Jan Jones, tjey were a wonderful duo who obviously really believe in the RNA and seem to love what they do. They also finished off the Sunday morning with a closing session where they were joined by President of the RNA Katie Fforde who drew the raffle to win a fabulous quilt which was made in honour of the late Carole Blake, this was won by Brigid Coady who was delighted.
Katie Fforde, Jan Jones and Nicola Cornick

On the Saturday, Immi had a session to welcome all those on the NWS which was lovely, she was joined by Alison May (Chair) and John Jackson who has just graduated to full member of the RNA as his book is being published.
Immi on the left with the mic in a different
session with Nicola Cornick & Alison May

John Jackson looking dapper at
the Gala dinner, he's usually on the
other side of the camera

Alison May and Bella Osborne were very entertaining as they debated over plotter vs pantser, we had to then answer five questions and it seems that I'm a bit of both which I was very happy with.

We had literary royalty present at the conference with Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson.
It was fascinating to listen to Jill telling us about her writing life as she was being interviewed by Kate Johnson. How amazing that she's now written thirty books.
Me with Jill Mansell
Kate Johnson interviewing Jill
Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell

Emily Ruston and Jenny Hutton did an enlightening presentation on deconstructing the revisions letter which I found very useful as they gave examples of what an editor may say and then explained what they actually mean.

The Gala dinner was perfect on Saturday night, the dining room was transformed with pink lights lighting up the plinths. What I love about the booky people I've met is that they really know how to have a good time and we did.

On Sunday I was meant to go to a dialogue workshop but instead I found myself sitting at the breakfast table with lovely agent Kate Nash who gave me an insight into her world and also discussed my work with me which I thought was an amazing thing to happen.

Fiona Harper explained how to build characters from the inside out in her session, she showed us examples from her own book. I found this so interesting and useful and have requested the handout that Fiona kindly offered.

A panel then followed called how can I help? Which was chaired by Alison May and included from left to right, Julia Silk (agent MBA), fellow blogger Debbie Johnston who blogs at Brook Cottage Books and also organises blog tours as JB Johnston and Julia Williams (editor, Harlequin Mills and Boon).

As if this whole conference wasn't brilliant enough already I found that the people I was with made it even more memorable, I was able to spend time with friends I've known for a couple of years and meet new amazing friends that made this weekend the most fun I've ever had. I'd heard about the kitchen parties but never expected to be invited to Milly Johnson's one! Special thanks for making me laugh so much go to Milly, Debbie Johnston, Chrissie Bradshaw (winner of last year's Elisabeth Goudge competition- pictured), Lynda Stacey and Jenni Keer and I would like to give special thanks to Heidi Swain for her positive encouragement and she has permission to say 'I told you so.' I've come away from there with so much to think about.
Chrissie Bradshaw ready to
hand over the Elisabeth Goudge
trophy to 2017 winner,
Immi Howson.

Back row- Milly, Lynda, Me
Front Row- Chrissie and Debbie

If anyone is hesitant about going to the conference in the future then my advice is to just go for it otherwise you'll really miss out on the best time. See you in Leeds next year.
I would like to say a huge thank you for all of those who organised it so brilliantly.

Book Angel x


  1. What wonderful memories! Thanks for such a fab weekend and lots of laughs Annette! Great post! x

    1. Ah thank you and same to you. It was a blast x x x 😘🥖🥐☕️

  2. What a wonderful time you had. I'm very jealous! Hope the writing is going well too lovely lady. See you soon hopefully x

    1. Hi Linda thank you for that. Not getting much done at all. Too. Kay having a good time x x x 😘😂

  3. Super memories - a great weekend!



  4. So glad you went to conference in the end - it's such a great weekend. Was lovely to see you. xx

    1. You too Sue. Yes I'm glad I managed to pluck up the courage to go x x

  5. Total blast, babe. Thanks for being part of it xxxx

    1. It was amazing, thank you for making it such fun x x