What I learned from Day 2 of the RNA Conference 2014

DSCN8845Following on from my post last week when I had only just returned, bleary-eyed, from the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference, I wanted to share some highlights from day 2 with you this week.

Liz Harris – The Path to Publication

I started the day with a session by Choc Lit author, Liz Harris, who I have come to know online and so I was very keen to hear about her ‘Path to Publication.’ Liz has a great sense of humour and she managed to make us all laugh while telling us some vital tips for running our own writing lives. The first was about using a social media management tool to help maintain your online presence without it having to take over your life. She recommended Tweetdeck for this, which I have looked at since, along with Hootsuite but I find them both quite difficult to use personally. I want to see my timeline and my notifications and at the moment, I just have both pages open all the time but I can see that as things get busier for me, I will need to give in to one of these tools to help me. Liz went on to advise that once you have submitted your book to publishers (if that’s the route you’re taking), you should get straight on with your next book. This is partly because most publishers will take a while to get back to you, at least a month but usually longer, and if they like your first book, they’ll definitely want you to have another one ready.

Ruston Hutton – Make your Book Better, Working with an Independent Editor

The next session I attended was by an editing company called Ruston Hutton. As I knew I would be looking for an editor soon, this was another session which I expected to find very useful and it was. As editors, they said they will tell you where your story shines and where it needs work because they want to help you get the best out of your writing. They advised writers to do their research before choosing their editor, to know what their tastes are and to get some references from other customers if at all possible. They like to build long-term relationships with their customers, knowing their goals for their writing and working with them to achieve it. They told us that they work to a one month turnaround once work is submitted to them and that they charge approximately £500 – £600 for an edit. I was very impressed with Emily and Jenny and their professional attitude to their work. Sadly though, my own budget doesn’t stretch to this cost. If yours does though, you should consider getting in touch with them.

Jean Fullerton – ‘Don’t Lose the Plot – Developing and Refining Successful Plot Structure.’

As a prolific author herself for Orion, Jean has had lots of experience and she imparted her knowledge with a good dose of laughter, making quite a difficult subject a lot easier to understand for the new writer, like myself. She told us that she sees stories as being made up of a rainbow of elements: characters and the relationships between them, plot, conflict, tension, sub-plot(s) and setting. She explained that once you have introduced your main characters, you should give them at least three problems, one major and a couple of minor ones. She said that your inciting moment should include what threatens your characters both physically and emotionally. She also recommended that you should limit your secondary characters, being careful not to have too many so that you take away from your hero and heroine. Another useful point she made as she went through the typical story arc is that your final turning point or ‘black moment’ should make your reader shout ‘No!’ I don’t think I have quite achieved this yet in FHTN but it was a good way to describe it and it made me think. The final point Jean made that I found especially useful was that there should be no more than a few pages from your resolution to the end of the story.

Debbie Young – ‘You Need Never Walk Alone’ – ALLi and support for Indie authors.

The last session I wanted to mention from the second day was led by Debbie Young from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Debbie talked about how ALLi can help you if you’re planning to self-publish. It costs about £40 to join as an Associate Member and once you join, you can access the details of partner members who are vetted before they can join. These include companies who provide professional services for authors, like formatting, editing, proofreading and cover design, making it much easier for a new author to find someone reputable without the risk involved in doing it on your own. There is also a private Facebook forum for ALLi members which is full of useful tips for newbies. Debbie is also responsible for writing the ALLi daily blog which you can subscribe to whether you are a member or not.

So, it was another fantastic day and just reading through my notes again has made me realise how much I learnt. You may not know that you can attend all RNA events as a non-member, with tickets only costing a little more than they do for members so if you think you might be interested in attending next year, when the conference moves to London, do look up the RNA website to find out all the details. Thanks for reading once again. Please  do leave a message for me in the comments or ask me anything you’d like to know more about from the conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “What I learned from Day 2 of the RNA Conference 2014

  1. Jean Fullerton was indeed easy to listen and very informative. I was also interested to read your comments on ALLi. I shall re-investigate that. Thanks.

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    • My pleasure, Ros. It’s been really good to re-read it all again today and to realise just how much useful info there was. Hope all is good with you 🙂

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  2. Fab summary here Julie! Thank you. Feels like I’m learning with you 😉
    Jean’s point about not having too many secondary characters has made me consider another conflict complication I could introduce in my WIP to make things even MORE difficult for my protagonist. Only problem is: major re-write in last 3rd of novel required if I decide to go ahead! :/

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    • I’m glad you found it useful, Cat. I feel your rewriting pain, I really do. It really is one step forward and ten back 😦 As long as we’re learning though, eh? The second novel ought to be a blinking masterpiece at this rate!

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      • I haven’t even finished taking that first step – still 5 chapters away! Stumbling, face first and falling ten steps back more like! Lol!
        Hope your rewriting pain is over soon, you seem like you have some good momentum and motivation. X

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      • I have no idea what is motivating me, except that I want to get to the end (in a good way)! I had a really productive couple of days this weekend and I hope to do the same today now that I have got the bit between my teeth 🙂

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  3. What an interesting summing up of the workshops/talks you attended, Julie. I looked back and read the account of your first day, too. It was a pleasure being reminded of the talks I went to, and very useful to read about those I didn’t. Thank you for taking the time to put this up. And good luck with tweetdeck – it really is worth persevering as your life when you’re published is going to get more busy, rather than less. 🙂

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read both my posts, Liz. I enjoyed all the sessions I attended and could have written so much more about what I learned from all of them. It’s always on a Monday because of Monday Blogs that I feel the need for something like Tweetdeck to help me manage all the activity so I know I will have to bite the bullet soon. Thanks so much for all the advice you gave, it’s greatly appreciated 🙂

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  4. So sorry I missed the conference, this year but I was on a screenwriting course.
    But I’m picking up a lot of what I missed, thanks to posts like yours, and others who went to conference

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    • Thanks for reading, Rosie and sorry you missed it this year. Hope to see you at another event or at the conference next year maybe?

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