Help, Mum! Why Didn’t You Send Me to Finishing School?

I’ve decided to join The Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA)! Or rather, rejoin it, because I was a member some years ago.

I recently started being followed on Twitter by @writeromantics and investigated their excellent blog. They are all members of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, which gives invaluable feedback to writers on their draft novels. They have included a link to my novel The Goddess Workshop on their blog which is very kind of them, and invited me to be interviewed some time in the future, which I very much look forward to. 🙂

I read on the Writeromantics blog that one of their members acquired their agent after she had met and spoken to her at the RNA winter party – which is why I am inspired to rejoin. Someone else recently reminded me that it’s much more valuable to meet people face-to-face, and I should know, because it was a chance meeting that led to me having my fiction published by Cambridge University Press and Cengage Learning. So, I’m going to join, and I’m going to go along to social events.

So far so good.

In a matter of weeks I’m going to be appearing on stage in London telling jokes for 3 minutes. Everyone keeps telling me how brave I am, and I am going to feel nervous, of course. But when I’m in a big social gathering, faced with a room full of people I don’t know – albeit fellow writers I have loads in common with – I feel very nervous about that too!

Here are two pictures of parties. Guess which one I’d feel most at home at.


Where’s the party food?


Do you come here often?

I simply seem to lack the gene which allows me to socialize easily – to glide smilingly around the room asking and answering questions without a desperate look on my face, taking care to make the most of opportunities that come my way. I can do it, but it’s an ordeal when it should be fun.

But I really shouldn’t be confessing all this to you – the last time I said a similar thing to someone at a writer’s party she gave me a “why am wasting my time speaking to you?” look and scarpered.

Her loss, because I’m interesting and funny, and I have a lot of useful knowledge to bestow.

I’ve just got to believe it myself! See you at an RNA meeting soon! 🙂


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5 thoughts on “Help, Mum! Why Didn’t You Send Me to Finishing School?

  1. The RNA sounds like a good link for you, Margaret, I intend to read The Goddess Workshop (after I clear the backlog of reads I already have!), but I never got the impression it was a romance. Maybe I don’t know what a romantic story is. Would you classify your stories as romances? The Dare Club seemed so much more to me.

    • Hi, Juli. Thanks for this! I actually started off my writing career by writing romance – I tried for Mills and Boon with no luck, but was published by Woman’s Weekly. I think there are lots of different kinds of romance, and I’m sure all of these are represented at the RNA – is this your experience, Julie (bigfatbeachbear)? I think romances these days can be about a lot more than just the romance – after all Pride and Prejudice is ultimately a romance, but that’s certainly not all it is! Having said that, yes, you’re right, The Goddess Workshop and The Dare Club are about groups of people who are stuck for varying reasons in their lives. They need to deal with the past, take risks and challenge themselves in order to grow and fulfill their potential. Reaching out to love (and romance) is just one of the ways they do this. I’m actually planning the novel after The Dare Club in my head at the moment, and that one will be more of a straight forward romance. Incidentally, I think it may help with sales if I can genuinely say a novel is in the romance category – they are very popular! 🙂

      • I agree about what you say about the romance genre, but I’ve tended to shy away from it because my stories don’t feel like romances to me, despite Absent Children largely being about a troubled marriage, and it does include romance, and sex! 🙂
        I almost joined the Romance Writer’s Association when we lived in Florida, because they had such useful workshops and conferences, but by the time I’d made up my mind to join, my husband got the job in Scotland and so there was little point.
        Would you find it easier to attend these things if you had a friend with you? That always puts me off. If we were in the same country, we could team up and front up to these shows together, but alack, alas…

  2. Hi Margaret, I’m one of the Write Romantics. Thanks so much for mentioning us and I’m so pleased we’ve inspired you to rejoin RNA. I can completely relate to what you say. My day for most of the last 20 years has been as a recruitment and/or training manager. Put me in a room of 1000 people who are there because they want my company to recruit them or because they’re attending a workshop I’m running and I’m completely at home. Put me in front of a room of 5 people with whom I have to network and I’m a gibbering wreck! Trying to be brave and submit my application to attend the RNA Conference this year and face that networking nemesis. Hope all goes well with the joke-telling. Not sure I could do that either but incredibly impressed with someone who can!
    Best wishes

    • Thank you, Julie! I’m very glad to hear that I’m not alone! Silly really, isn’t it? Probably everyone feels a touch of this nervousness but is better at hiding it! I should definitely go for the conference – I’d love to have gone, but sadly I’ve already got a weekend away booked for that date and can’t disappoint my son. I’ve been to conferences before and somehow it’s easier to meet and chat to people when there are organised events. I will certainly plan to go next year! 🙂

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