The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Back from the Romantic Novelists Association 2013 conference...

I can't believe two weeks have gone by since I was at the RNA 2013 conference in Sheffield - what a time I had! I had resigned to the fact I wasn't going this year as my husband was singing with Aled Jones and Matt Cardell (from X Factor fame) in...yep, Sheffield. With two young kids and a dog to contend with, I really didn't think it was possible for us both to be away at the same time.
However, it's amazing what a girl can do when she puts her mind to it! The lovely Sandra Mackness offered up her place as she was unable to come and put a call out to any members who might like her place. I sent her an email and the rest is history...the spontaneity of the decision made my time at the conference all the better!

It was SO good to catch up with friends I haven't seen for two or more years, make new ones and, as always, learn so much. I am hard pressed to summarise the sessions because there were so many great, great talks and interactions, but here are three that my writer and reader friends have asked me about the most:

1) Theme by my friend and mentor Julie Cohen

Identifying the theme of your WIP helps to focus your story around it.


It is:

the emotional core of your story.
the question you’re asking.
the main idea you’re exploring
the problem you keep returning to.
the focus, not necessarily of action, but of feelings and ideas.
the pivot upon which your book turns.


Several things need to be considered:

the main characters’ conflicts and desires.
the premise of the novel.
the title and first line of the book.
the chief emotions.
the idea/problem you are most interested in exploring.
the resolution.


Understanding the themes in your WIP can help you to:

Create a title and first line.
Make the ending more satisfying,
Select sub-plots which reflect the main theme, perhaps in a different way.
Design secondary characters
Refine hero and heroine’s conflict
Choose setting
Choose metaphor and symbolism.



M&B Medical are open to submissions and asked writers to 'think out of the box' - yes, they love top surgeons (male or female), nurses and doctors but would love to see something away from the normal hospital scenario or small town general practice. As much as these stories are still wanted, they are looking for international settings too. How about outback or jungle settings? IVF clinics? Medical rescue? Doctor or nurse to the stars? To royalty?

- strong romantic themes
- heroes and heroines who live on the edge
- romance at the heart of the story
- characters from earlier 20s upwards
- word count: 50,000

Tone: Think ER, House, Grey's Anatomy


As with the Medical line, M&B are excited to see some different story lines coming through than the traditional (albeit much-loved) stories. They are open to issues that many writers think 'out of bounds'. Here are their bullet-points:

-  such topics as politics and domestic or childhood abuse can be tackled.
- They'd like real history/places/people to feature
- Interested in spies/sheikhs/sea voyages
- Eras: Regency, Tudor, Ancient Greece, Wild West
- Word count: 75,000

Tone: The Tudors, Rome, Gladiator, Downton Abbey

Hope that's given you some things to think about, both creatively and those all-important submissions. Happy Writing!

Rachel x

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rachel! Great post!
    I haven't joined any organisations yet but I know that I would struggle to attend conferences too with young children, full time job, etc, bet it's amazing to attend though!
    Great advice too! It's always good to plan and I find myself asking the 'why did he/she do this' question really helps me to focus.
    It's also fabulous to see the wish list from M&B. some inspiration there for many authors!
    Molly xxx