What else is there to talk about this week but the Romantic Novelists' Conference in Penrith? The Internet is awash with photos and reminiscences - and here are mine.
Fabulous goody bag this year. Lots of promo, chocolate and books. Suitcase on return journey was very heavy. It wasn't the shoes, I only had three pairs. Sadly, none of them made it into the Beauty Pageant :(
It's always a hard choice to decide what talks to attend, and this year was no exception. Full conference sessions at least take away that dilemma. It's become a tradition for the proceeding to kick off with celebrations of achievements during the year - stories of agents and contracts gained and books published and sold. My share of the celebration was to be presented with the Joan Hessayan trophy once more. It now has my name engraved on it. I managed not to cry, this time. Just.
Janet Gover came all the way from the US to chair an industry panel on international publishing. Actually, I think she might have come to have fun at the conference as well. It was lovely to catch up with her. Discussions in the kitchen that evening included 'The woman we would all like to be when we grow up.' Joanna Lumley got that vote. Hugh Jackman and Alan Rickman got the votes for 'The men who ...'
Well, I'll leave that to your imagination.
Saturday kicked off for me with Talli Roland's talk about on-line marketing. That girl is a phenomenon. I took notes. Now I just have to put them into practice ...
I was one of the next panel, talking to members of the New Writers' Scheme. I hope we managed to be encouraging and informative. Lunch was lasagna and I indulged in trifle afterwards. Louise, Linda, Lynne and Liz talked about writing co-operatively - which included collaboration, contributing books to series, and ghost writing. I don't think I ever want to do it - it sounds far too complicated - but it was fascinating to hear how it worked.
Moira Briggs from Vulpes Libres has a dry sense of humour, much in evidence as she talked about blogging and book reviews. In the last session the team from MIRA brought everyone up to speed on what they are looking for. And then it was the GALA dinner. Juliet Greenwood has posted pictures on Facebook of the excellent food. The outfits were spectacular (especially Rhoda Baxter, in a beautiful sari), the conversation even better.The noise level was deafening. Kitchen conversation later included Jane's encounters with a bat and a black cockerel - and it's not what you're thinking.
I was proud to be up in time on Sunday for the 9am 'hangover' slot. Jane Wenham Jones surveyed the highlights of her career to date. Like the other Jane, the one from the war time cartoon, she's an expert in losing her clothes. She also had advice on how to be photographed to avoid the dreaded 'sumo wrestler arms'. Hands on hip, plenty of white space between arms and body, tummy in, chest out, chin up. Now I have to put that into practice too. Failing miserable so far, if the photographic evidence from the conference is anything to go by. RNA Chairman Anne Ashurst gave an inspiring presentation on handling the back story, and then it was the last session - a round table discussion for published authors. And yes, the subject of 50 Shades of Grey did occur in the conversation ...
I had a great time. Next year it's Sheffield. Have they been warned?