Last Thursday I went to the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party. (I’m not actually a member – I was there as a guest. I’d love to join but you have to have been traditionally published to be allowed in, and I am only a lowly self-published author at present.)
It was a lovely glittery event held in central London. I’d worked a day in the office in London, then changed in the Ladies’ and walked there, via Buckingham Palace and Green Park. My lovely friend Sally Quilford was on the door handing out name badges, so there was a familiar face as soon as I arrived.
And then it was all about networking. I know a lot of writers via Facebook and Twitter and blogs, but many of them I’d never met in person. So I was scanning the room looking for people who look like their facebook photos. (Good luck to those who were doing the same and hoping to recognise me – I have a silly Harold’s Planet cartoon as my facebook profile picture, which I’ve never changed.) Anyway, the name badges helped, although as they hung on lanyards at about belly button height you did have to look someone up and down before saying ‘hello! So lovely to meet you!’
I met some great people and had some lovely conversations. To pick out a few: lovely Jan Jones who I’ve known forever online, and who was there helping organise proceedings. Karen Aldous who I knew from my blog, who was kind enough to tell me she’d read my Ghost Stories book and it had inspired her for her current novel in progress. That was so lovely to hear! Carole Matthews, who I recognised from a million book covers, was friendly and warm – perhaps too warm as she was fanning herself constantly! Viv Hampshire who I know from Writers’ Forum columns and Facebook, who it was amazing to meet in real life at last. Annie Lyons, who I’d never met or heard of before, but who I got talking to on the way in, and then she kindly introduced me to a couple of editors from her publishing company to whom I’d recently submitted my novel.
There followed a surreal moment which went something like this:
Editor: So what genre is your novel?
Me: Timeslip (as I accept a mini cream scone from a passing waiter)
Editor: Ooh, I read a couple of timeslip submissions just this morning. What’s the title of yours?
Me: (trying not to press the scone too hard and squidge the cream out everywhere) The Emerald Comb
Editor: Oh yes, I really liked that one! I’ve passed it on to a colleague for another opinion…
Me: (trying to swallow mouthful of scone and hoping there’s no cream on the end of my nose) Squeak! (or words to that effect)
Anyway she either liked it or was an excellent actress. I am hoping for the former. She said it’d be a couple of weeks before I hear anything. Till then, I just won’t bother sleeping, and farewell fingernails…
The main event of the evening was the presentation of the Joan Hessayon award, to the best published novel from people who’d been through the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Now then, if I’d got my act together on 1st January this year, if I hadn’t been feeling quite as fragile, I’d have stayed up till midnight and applied to join the scheme, the moment it opened (you have to be quick, as I understand it). This year there were 17 graduates from the scheme, all with publishing deals. I’ve read a couple of their books, and have since bought a couple more. I knew two of the contenders, so cheered loudest when their names were called. The winner was Jo Thomas, whose book, set in Ireland, is now on my Kindle TBR pile.
Sadly, despite having my smartphone in my tiny impractical evening bag, I failed to take any photos. Hopefully the official photos will go up on the RNA website soon. If not, there are plenty doing the rounds of Facebook and Twitter so if you are friends with RNA members who are more organised than me, you’re bound to see some.
The next RNA event is the conference which sadly I can’t attend, as it is sandwiched tightly between our holiday in Sweden for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and a work course for which I will need to be away from home. Not to mention it clashes with the Bournemouth pier to pier swim, which in a rash moment last year I signed up for. (No idea how I am going to swim 2.4km in open water. Just hope there’s a very strong west to east current that day.)
After that I believe there’s another party in November. I’ll be there!