Listening to: Karine Polwart
Reading: Sharon Penman, The Sunne in Splendour
I’m aware that did a lot of name-dropping yesterday. Sorry. Don’t mean to be luvvie, but these people are actually my real-life friends. I guess it’d be the same if there was a musicians’ conference (oh, duh, there is – it’s called a music festival) – if they blogged they’d be talking about the people they chatted with at the bar and… do rock stars eat cake and chocolate, the way romantic novelists do?
Anyway. To the point. Saturday at the RNA conference. First was a talk by Mark Thornton from Mostly Books
all about thinking like a bookseller (very useful for me re local history books and much food for thought).
Then Liz Bailey and Eileen Ramsay did this hilarious talk on networking and how to do it gracefully; great entertainment value, and I think it told us all an important thing – that authors are just as paranoid as each other and convince themselves that nobody will want to talk to them, yada yada yada. (As with any profession, you get the odd person who behaves badly, but most are nice - you just need to talk to them and treat them as you'd like to be treated yourself.)
Interestingly, they also mentioned that it’s bad form to ask another author to crit your work or intro you to their editor or agent… if they offer, fine, but don’t ask. I have to admit, I feel bad about refusing to read people’s work, but I have tight deadlines and young children and I just don’t have spare capacity, especially this year. I’m behind on my own stuff and just can’t do it. (I can, however, recommend a very good appraisal service. Hilary Johnson.)
Then it was Anna Louise Lucia on a sense of place – enjoyed this very much and it struck a real chord with me, as well as getting me to write the first couple of paragraphs of chapter two in longhand. I’ve cropped this photo of our Anna, because Anna uses her hands a lot when she speaks, and the full view is… Well. Let’s just say it goes with other, um, conversations I had with various people after wine later that evening…
After lunch, the head of Midas PR talked us through a PR campaign.
Much food for thought there. Then I ducked out of the next session as I needed to flop, and that’s when I discovered that the PDA disk had corrupted. Tried writing longhand and ended up with a pageful of scribblings-out. Ick. Can't work that way. Then lovely Katie Fforde
introduced the next speaker - an audience with Jill Mansell.
Jill is amazing. She writes her book longhand with a fountain pen (hats off to her, because I prefer to compose straight to screen!). Her talk was great fun – as warm and witty as her books.
Chatted to historical author Mary Nichol at lunch about local history (she’s from my part of the world); then dinner. Silver service, allegedly… but very difficult for the poor waiting staff when the tables were crammed so closely together. Not sure what the first course was; then duck (which was nice) and lemon pudding (which was REALLY nice, the best food of the weekend).
And then it was the presentation of the Elizabeth Goudge award. I was so pleased for the winner, as it was her first conference. And I was also delighted because one of my friends was a runner-up – here’s Biddy Coady collecting her prize from Joanna Maitland.
And then it was time to go to the bar – spent lots of time chatting with lovely Nell Dixon, who had me in hysterics with some of her tales. (Sadly, I can’t use them as research, because it’s not a setting I can use in a Med…)
We did have coffee breaks in between, and I was thrilled to be asked to sign copies of mine. (Doesn’t take much to make an author happy. Four little words. ‘I loved your book.’ Even better when they can remember the hero’s name – and if they can remember a snatch of dialogue, well. Author heaven.)
To borrow a phrase, ‘And so to bed.’ More attempts at stifling the gimlet light with Post-It notes. (Yes, this is going to end up in a book. This book, to be precise, because it fits this one.) More failure. Wide awake at 4am on Sunday, panicking about my talk… but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.
Edit: I've just discovered that One Night, One Baby is the featured book today in the ebook section at eHarlequin (and it's still in the top 5 bestselling ebooks - wow!)