Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Biddy in recovery after a weekend of fun and hijinks is here to bring you part 2 of the RNA Conference round up. It includes gala dinners, seminars galore, and wearing black garbage sacks.

As I left you yesterday Saturday afternoon was drawing to a close and all the delegates scuttled to their rooms to get ready for the gala dinner. We've all been locked in our own writing worlds for the year and this is the time we get to brush off our glad rags and party!

We all convened back in the bar where the ritual “shoe photographing” began. I’m not sure when this started… a few years ago maybe? What happens is the best of the footwear is photographed and displayed on various blogs. This year the RNA Tweeted the photos and asked people to guess the romantic novelist it belonged to. Some people have set such a high standard for themselves (both in heel height and gorgeousness) that they search through out the year for the ultimate shoes for Saturday night.

The dinner was wine fuelled and part way through the Elizabeth Goudge trophy was awarded. This is a competition that is open to conference goers and the theme is set by the Chairman. This year’s theme was technology going wrong, a stray email or text message reaching the wrong person. I was a runner up last year and this year we had one of the runners up on our table!! Yes, more wine was consumed!

After a riotous evening in the company of some great writers including M&B’s Sara Craven and Gill Sanderson (yes… M&B royalty!), it was too bed. At this point the beautiful weather broke and the heavens opened. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if the skylight at the top of ours stairs wasn’t wide open and the water pouring in. Which is when I decided that it needed closing but I didn’t want to get my clothes wet… this is why I was perched on a chair at the top of the stairs in my bra and a pair of sweat pants wielding a vacuum cleaner wand. Luckily there was no accident but LBD’s Nell Dixon was on hand if there had been a problem, she is a registered nurse.

Sunday was probably better than Saturday. There were some fantastic seminars. One of the best for me was Linda Gillard about Sense and Sensibility, the use of senses in writing. We mostly concentrated on all the senses but the vision. We live in such a visual world that sometimes we neglect the other senses. We did some exercises that really helped.

After lunch Rachel Summerson entertained us with stories of her childhood which was spent in an old English country house which was still run like the Victorians. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages! She read from the stories she had written as a child, which was funny, entertaining and showed she had the knack of storytelling even back then.

Jodi Thomas was back with a seminar on Plotting for Success, I had the joy of introducing her! Very nerve wracking to be doing that for a three times Rita winner and a NYT and USA Today bestseller. She made great points about plotting your books and your life, including the statement that you should treat creativity like a river, not a bucket.

At the end of the day there was one final workshop run by Liz Bailey on Charisma and how to get it. To discover our inner charisma we donned black plastic garbage sacks, stared at each other a lot. Told people there best feature and then applaud each other as we walked to and fro in front of the chairs. Not sure we all had charisma by the end but I definitely felt good about myself.

We left the last people not traveling home until Monday at the conference centre ready to head to the bar for the annual quiz. My brain was full, my liver hated me but I was full of inspiration and hope for the writing year ahead.

Next stop on the Conference tour this week is Washington DC for the RWA National Conference. Donna Alward, Trish Wylie and many more will be bringing you reports. Biddy Coady is spending the next few days touring Cumbria’s stone circles and Neolithic sites and getting back on talking terms with her liver.


  1. Love the bin bags! The shoes are all up -those that were in focus that is on the RNA blog!

  2. Glad you enjoyed my session, Brigid. Thanks for the mention on the blog!

  3. What kind of person would spend all year searching for shoes to wear at a conference?

    Oh, right. Me.