Last month, I went to my first RNA Summer Party. The night also marked another debut – it was the first time the event was held at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford.
The Romantic Novelists’ Association is a rather lovely organisation, championing romantic fiction and its writers. And how lovely it was to be in a room full of romance writers sharing the space with classical statues that one or two of us might have glanced at and thought: hmm, maybe the next hero I write ought to have calves like that…
It was lovely to meet so many fellow writers and hear wonderful stories about published writers who’d come through the New Writers’ Scheme. The highlight of the night was the presentation of the Joan Hessayon award which is given to a debut writer whose novel has been through the NWS. This year, there were 17 contenders – by all accounts a bumper year. Congratulations to all those nominated. The award went to Hannah Begbie for her novel ‘Mother’. She gave very a moving speech as did last year’s winner, Kate Field, who presented the prize. Both writers overcame considerable personal odds to finish their novels, and I’m not ashamed to admit their stories brought a tear to my eye.
The NWS has played a big role in so many writers’ path to publication, and it’s a scheme I’m fully behind – I first joined in 2013. You get become a member of the RNA – so can go to their events – but the main reason to join is the opportunity to submit your manuscript to a professional reader who then gives you a detailed report. The first year I submitted I was pleasantly shocked by the positive feedback. It was an incomplete manuscript, but my reader urged me to finish as she saw potential. It took me until 2017 to submit a finished manuscript. So, for any budding romantic fiction writers, do take a look at what the Romantic Novelists’ Association can do for you.