Friday, 18 July 2014

RNA Conference 2014 and Newport, Shropshire

Anne outside the Newport lock-keeper's cottage

Hard to believe that exactly one week ago today, I was in Telford, Shropshire, for the opening of the 2014 Conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. My feeling is that I’d like to do it all again this weekend because attending a RNA Conference is such a brilliant experience. The outpouring of friendship is obvious from the word go when published authors mix with unpublished ones and no-one can tell the difference. There’s always a number of conference ‘virgins’ (I was one myself three years ago) and everyone goes out of their way to make them feel at home. Not difficult with such a convivial atmosphere.

The workshops that I attended were all brilliant and, as I’m intending to self-publish my novel A Suitable Young Man later this year, a couple that I attended were angled at just that subject. Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time to attend the one entitled ‘I did it my way’ whereby 2 best-selling authors who chose independent publishing explained the reasons and the process. But on the Saturday, I listened to Alison Baverstock with Hazel Gaynor talking on self-publishing trends and revelations. Later that same day, I attended one by Ian Skillcorn of Corazon books speaking on everything you wanted to know about self-publishing and marketing.

Family of swans on Newport Canal
The venue of the Conference was the Harper Adams University, set in beautiful Shropshire countryside. Being an agrigultural college, one had to excuse the rural whiff that wafted through the air on occasions. Although the address was Telford, in fact the location was nearer to the small town of Newport. When I discovered this fact, I was thrilled because one of my great-grandmothers was born there. Because her father was a canal agent and lock-keeper, she was born in the lock-keeper’s cottage by the side of the Newport Canal, a subsidiary of the Shropshire Union Canal. So, on the Sunday afternoon, when my husband had picked me up, we went exploring. Sadly, only the roof of the lock-keeper's cottage was visible through the high hedge. Although the canal is now disused, we found it easily enough as it runs through the town. Later, we spent a couple more days based at Madeley Court Hotel and had a lovely time visiting the Ironbridge Gorge.

As I said at the beginning, I could do it all again!