Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Christina Hollis—Writing, Learning, and Networking: The Romantic Novelists' Association Conference 2015

My Souvenir
I arrived home only five minutes ago, straight from this year's Romantic Novelists' Association conference. It was my first full conference, and it was such a great experience I dumped my case and came straight online to tell you about it.

The conference started at 8:30am on the 10th July, and went right through to 10pm on 12th of July. It was held at Queen Mary's University, Mile End, in East London. Delegates used student accommodation on the campus. It's a great way for the university to earn money while its students are on their long summer vacation.

Jan Jones, Roger Sanderson, Jenny Barden and their RNA team plan these events years in advance, so nothing could be done when a strike of London Underground (subway) workers was called last week for 9th July. That was the day when most people would be arriving at the campus. Worse still, mainline trains running from the west of the country into London would be cancelled, too. People like me who live right out in the shires wouldn't have a hope of getting to the university, as the total lack of parking space there meant bringing a car was right out of the question.

I went up to London a day early to avoid the problems, but lots of people didn't have that option. They battled in on foot on the day, hired cabs, and tried to find a space in one of our traditional red double-decker buses. British people are famously good at queueing, but things got heated and the police had to be brought in to calm things down. You couldn't make it up. We English are usually so peaceful!

The (Prince) Regent's Canal, On Campus
The first day of the RNA conference, Friday, was an industry special. There was a panel of agents discussing their part in an author's career, and talks by editors, publishers, mass book buyers and reviewers. Workshops on character development, finding your writing voice and how to promote yourself, your brand, and your book filled the rest of the weekend. You could learn to punctuate with confidence, experience the intricacies of dressing like a Geisha or a Victorian woman, or (and this was my favourite workshop) learn to shed your inhibitions and project your voice at the same time by jumping up and down and grunting like Bigfoot. Anyone who could do that in a room containing thirty other people had no worries when it came to a one-to-one appointment with one of the agents or publishers who also attended the conference.

Saturday Evening's Gala dinner gave the 300 delegates the chance to dress up and glitter beneath the spectacular vault of books contained in the university's grand Octagon library.

A Touch Of Hogwarts At Queen Mary's
I'm not really a party person—I'd rather read ( or write!)—but the atmosphere was infectious. Joining the Romantic Novelists' Association and taking part in its local chapter meetings has boosted both my career, and my social life. If you've never got around to joining a special interest group like the RNA that's local to you, why not take the plunge? I enjoy being an overseas member of the Romance Writers of America, but however good their online seminars, magazines, message-boards and loops, networking is much more fun when you do it face to face.

What do you think are the best things about belonging to a creative writing group?

When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold more than two million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books on her website. Her current release, Her Royal Risk, is published by The Wild Rose Press and is available at and


dstoutholcomb said...

the sisterhood of those who want to help you succeed

Christina Hollis said...

Exactly—and there were some brothers in there, too ;) Everyone I met, whether speaker or delegate, agent or publisher, was really friendly and supportive. Thanks for commenting!