Sunday, 29 July 2018

The RNA Conference 2018 and A Reluctant Decision

All Indie authors of the Romantic Novelists Association
A couple of weekends ago, I went to my fourth Romantic Novelists’ Association Annual Conference. I hadn’t been to one for about four years and found, to my surprise, that I was quite apprehensive beforehand. As I’ve got older, I’d found that I’ve become less confident about going to such events. This one was in Leeds, a city I know well, having lived there for over 20 years, although I knew little about Leeds Trinity University, the Conference venue. The first problem I encountered was that it was located on a hill so consequently there were steps – a lot of them – not just outside but in the venue itself. For someone who’s ‘getting on a bit’ this was a bit of a drawback. But I coped. Fortunately, the accommodation was located quite close to the venue unlike the last one I attended where our accommodation was quite a distance from the venue. And at Leeds, the air conditioning worked! A distinct advantage in this heatwave. Unlike the Conference held at Sheffield in 2013 where the air conditioning broke down and the architect had designed windows that didn’t open! We nearly melted at that one, didn’t we, Sally Quilford?

The best thing about these events is meeting up with one’s writing buddies and meeting new one and this was no exception. With my ankle surgery last year and the extremely long recuperation period, I hadn’t been to any of the local chapter meetings so it was great catching up with friends from both Birmingham and Leicester. One of the highlights was meeting up with my fellow Indie members and celebrating with the inevitable glass of fizz – and goodies – as you can see from the photo. That get-together was so encouraging for me as a writer, especially as one of them, Anna Belfrage, known only previously from Twitter, said to me, ‘Oh, you’ve just published a new book, Entertaining Angels, haven’t you?’ (That’s now available as a paperback at And the advice from the lovely – and prolific – writer Freda Lightfoot, to get my earlier novels, presently gathering dust on a shelf, revised, edited and OUT THERE!
Part of my goodie bag haul plus one I bought

The worst thing for me was not being to participate in group situations because I couldn’t hear what people furthest away from me were saying. One of the drawbacks with hearing aids – and I wear two of them – is not being able to hear what people across the able from you are talking about. I found the celebratory Gala Dinner on the Saturday night particularly trying. With 250+ women all trying to talk at once, the background noise was horrendous. One of my table companions was making people laugh with some of her comments but of course I couldn’t join in because I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about. As a result, I felt isolated and quite lonely. Not the fault of my immediate neighbours who did their best to include me. It was the same at one of the workshops I attended, an absolutely hilarious one about how to write Sensual Love Scenes Without Stuffing The Turkey led by Liam Livings and Virginia Heath, where we were asked to get together in groups of three or four to ‘rewrite’ the mock sex scene they had just relayed to us. It just wasn’t possible for me and I had to excuse myself. And at another couple of workshops I attended, I couldn’t hear the speakers because they didn’t have microphones.

So reluctantly, I’ve decided that the Leeds Conference will be the last one I will attend. I’m still hoping to attend smaller get-togethers like the chapter meetings and I’m definitely going to be going to the RNA Afternoon Tea in York in September because that’s a smaller event too. After all, I must have been one of the oldest delegates. If not the eldest! As Bette Davis, the American film star, famously quoted, ‘Old Age Ain’t For Cissies!’