Conference time!

The weekend of the 11th to the 13th July 2014 I attended the annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, something I try to do every year if I can take the time. This year the conference was held at Harper Adams University in Shropshire which is an agricultural college established in 1901.

Harper Adams uni - main building

Harper Adams uni – main building

The weather was warm and balmy, and the rural surroundings gorgeous although distinctly, uhm, rural – a fact which was evident every time we left a perfectly air-conditioned lecture theatre only to be met by the smell of pig shit (yep, I like to call a spade a spade and all that!). No complaints from me on that score, though, as the fragrant country air reminded me of where I grew up in Denmark.

I really enjoyed the lectures I attended , in particularly the ones given by Alison May (Classic Adaptations in Romantic Fiction), Jean Fullerton (Don’t Lose the Plot) and Pamela Hartshorne/Jessica Hart (pictured) about writing in two different subgenres.

Pamela Hartshorne (aka Jessica Hart)

Pamela Hartshorne (aka Jessica Hart)

In contrast, the panel discussing the future of romantic fiction, and fiction in general, was slightly depressing, if truth be told. Despite the meteoritic rise of self-publishing and the opportunities this presents to new and established authors alike, average authors earnings are going down, and making a living as a mid-list author is becoming increasing difficult.

Even so, deals are occasionally struck at the conference, and I’m delighted to announce that two writer friends, Gill Stewart and Jenny Harper, both blogging here at Novel Points of View, have now signed book deals with Accent Press.

But what I enjoy most about every conference I’ve attended is the social side of things. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from far-flung corners of the country, and even meet the real person behind a Facebook or Twitter profile. Among others, it was great to see Rosemary Gemmell and Joan Fleming from the Scottish Chapter again, plus so many other people I won’t have room to mention them here!

Kitchen party al fresco - from left to right: me, Janet Gover, and Jane Lovering

Kitchen party al fresco – from left to right: me, Janet Gover, and Jane Lovering

And then there are the kitchen parties… Here’s a picture of a kitchen party on Friday evening which quickly became a picnic on the lawn and eventually attracted a large crowd! Could have done without the mosquitoes it attracted, though…

Harper Adams - ceremony 2

Janice Preston and Sue Moorcroft

Harper Adams - ceremony 1

Left to right: Sue Moorcroft, Janie Millman, Katie Fforde, Jan Jones and Pia Fenton (aka Christina Courtenay)

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner and also the presentation of prizes, namely the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy which was won by Janice Preston, and the Katie Fforde Bursary, this year awarded to Janie Millman.

At dinner I had the privilege of sitting next to Richard Lee, founder of the fabulous Historical Novel Society. It was great to “talk shop” relating to historical fiction in particular, and I’m planning to attend this year’s HNS Conference which will be held on the 5th to the 7th of September at Westminster University’s Marylebone campus in London. I’m really looking forward to it.

Last but not least, the funniest thing happened: at the Gala Dinner I found myself wearing the same dress as author Teresa Morgan. What does one do in such a situation? Run off in tears or stay as far away from each other as possible?

Of course not! We had a laugh and celebrated that we have the same excellent taste. After all, we’re both romantic novelists.

Teresa Morgan and myself - we have the same great taste!

Teresa Morgan and myself – we have the same great taste!

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9 Responses to Conference time!

  1. angelabritnell says:

    Obviously a good weekend despite the rural ‘perfume’ 🙂

  2. beverleyeikli says:

    One day I’ll get to an RNA conference, also. It looks fun!

  3. A great kitchen party! It was fantastic to be party of that group.

  4. It was so funny, Henriette, We have great taste in dresses and obviously, are huge fans of TK Maxx 🙂 Normally, I feel it is quite safe to wear a dress from TKMaxx as I know no one else should be wearing the same. This year at the conference I was proved wrong.

    Conference was fab fun too 🙂

  5. rosgemmell says:

    It was great to see you again too, Henri – and both you and Teresa look lovely in your matching dresses!

  6. henrigyland says:

    Thanks for dropping by. I know I can’t wait until next year’s conference!!

  7. janelovering says:

    It was the most fabulous of conferences, such food! And such company! The smell was more or less the same as I live with at home (I’m surrounded by farming country, not a reflection on my housekeeping skills) so barely noticed it. It was lovely to see you again, Henri, and the matching dresses couldn’t have looked lovelier!

  8. juleswake says:

    Bringing back lots of wonderful memories. I was talking to someone today about the characters in my head, she looked blank – that doesn’t happen at conference! Lovely to see you there Henri x

  9. Jill Barry says:

    A great post, Henri. I haven’t been to conference since 2011 but your post and pics give a great flavour – erm, if not perfume! I’m off to look at the HNS programme as I’m kind of teetering in that direction. And I love the dress/dresses.

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