It was the year that…

This week Francesca and Elaine review what they’ve done, writing wise, in 2016.

IMG_0840Elaine: I have to say I was quite shocked at how much time away from home has been committed to writing. 2016 has been the year of opportunity for me. I had the chance to walk away from my full time paid employment in March and I grabbed it with both hands. It is my dream, and has been for many years, to write novels for a living, but life got in the way of that dream.

The year began with me renewing my membership of the Romantic Novelist Association (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme. If you want to become a writer of romantic fiction, it is something I would highly recommend.

The London Book Fair

The London Book Fair

Since then, I have attended numerous RNA events. The London Chapter meetings, which I have to admit I haven’t attended as much as I would have liked, the RoNA Awards, the summer and winter parties, and the valuable RNA Conference in Lancaster. Smattered in between them have been The London Book Fair, several writing retreats and workshops. I also attended, for the first time, the Historical Novelists Society (HNS) Conference, which was quite enlightening.


Elaine R, Francesca, Natalie, Elaine E in Ramsgate

Francesca: Looking through my diary, it certainly has been a busy year for writing activities. I continued with the RNA blog’s ‘Competition Monthly’ and will carry on into 2017. I attended all the things Elaine’s mentioned, apart from the HNS Conference. We also attended Foyles Discovery Day in February. 

Elaine and I did a week’s writing retreat in Ramsgate in May, along with Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. I will never forget singing My Sharona with Elaine R (you had to be there!). Later in May I went to the Romance in the Court event with Elaine E and Natalie. There I got an opportunity to talk to Freya North, an author I greatly admire.

Summer was busy with the RNA Conference and for me, The Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘Holiday’ – we all work jolly hard!

My White Board Plan

My White Board Plan

Elaine: For the first time, I tried my hand at writing a Victorian saga; once I got my head round the difference between a historical romance and a saga, it made life a little easier. I would like to thank Louise Buckley for explaining the differences to me at my RNA one to one with her. I was quite proud of my work and it got good reviews at the RNA and HNS Conferences from the Literary Agents and Publishers alike. Unfortunately, as much as they liked it, I was informed, both directly and indirectly, that Victorian doesn’t sell, so it was back to the drawing board or perhaps I should say white board. Of course, what I haven’t mentioned is the many hours of research that is the commitment of writing anything historical.


London Book Fair: Elaine with Rosemary Goodacre

Francesca: Moving into autumn, Elaine and I attended the Woman’s Weekly’s historical novel workshop and visited the ‘Undressed’ Exhibition at the V&A for clothing research. In October I went to the lovely Bishop’s Palace in Wells for the results of a novel competition I’d been shortlisted in. (You win some, you lose some!) 

I got my RNA New Writers’ Scheme report back in November for A Woman Walked into a Life, and was thrilled that the reader said it read like a published book. Still a little bit of work to do but it was very encouraging.

In November Elaine and I joined the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. The first six days of December  saw me at the RNA London Christmas lunch, the SWWJ Christmas afternoon tea  and The Write Place Christmas dinner (the last two on

the same day!). 

Elaine: I am now working on another historical piece, which will also be a saga, so watch this space. I have also made a commitment to interview organisers of Literary and Book Festivals for the RNA Blog.

If anyone should ask me, am I committed to my writing, I would answer just look at my calendar, because in-between all those things, I also try to write at least a thousand words a day.

Inside A Berlin Shop At Christmas

Francesca: I’m  currently dipping my toes into an historical novel set in World War One. At the same time I have ideas going through my head for two contemporary novels. Then there’s A Woman Walked to work on. And I’ve loads of ideas for short stories.

It’s going to be a busy year for both of us. What have you got planned?

@RobertsElaine11                     @FCapaldiBurgess


We wish our readers a very happy Christmas and a wonderful 2017.


Elaine Everest chats about her experiences attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference.

I’m fairly new to RNA conferences, although I’m an old hand with many other writing holidays and events.  While still a member of the New Writers’ Scheme I attended my first conference along with fellow blogger, Francesca Burgess. Being amongst so many professional writers, that weekend, was akin to attending ‘big school’ for the first time. Walking into a venue, where I recognised the names on almost every name badge, was like being in a book shop. Was it daunting? Yes. Was it a friendly environment? Absolutely.

At this point I have to admit to being a coward. I would never attend an overnight event on my own. I always go with friends. However, members of the RNA are so welcoming that I would recommend anyone thinking of attending alone to go ahead and book. You will never be on your own, either at talks or meals, and will leave on the Sunday with a list of new friends – and books to read.

Living in Kent meant that for the conferences I’ve attended I’ve had to head north. Venues are gradually moving south so train fares are becoming cheaper. As a group (there are six of us attending this year) we book our train tickets three months in advance. This means we not only receive a good discount but can afford to travel first class. The first class lounge on a London station is a good place to meet before heading for the train – less chance of getting lost!


After collecting the keys to our accommodation and picking up a goody bag we head to our rooms to unpack. By mentioning on our booking form who we wish to ‘live’ near we always find ourselves staying next door to friends and sharing a kitchen. The kitchen is never used to cook – all meals are supplied – it’s where we meet to chat, share wine and party! Kitchen parties are common at most writing events but the RNA conference parties are the best.

The first event is the get together where we meet the organisers, listen to important instructions and hear about the successes of so many writers. This can take an hour! Nowhere else will you hear of so many book deals, competition wins, book sales, agent news and sales of back catalogues. We clap, we cheer and we are enthused by the success around us and hope that good luck will rub off on the beginners.

There’s a choice of three or four talks ever hour to choose from. Attend all and you will quickly burn out. Be choosy. Pick what you are interested in and don’t feel guilty if you just want to sit outside in the sun and relax.

Conference organisers also offer the opportunity for one to one’s with industry experts. Details are in the information packs that are sent out in May. Being able to obtain feedback on a synopsis and first chapter is most valuable when we are chasing that elusive publishing deal.

Attending any writing event is not cheap. Attending an RNA conference, even if you aren’t a member, is definitely an investment in your future as an author.

This coming July the RNA conference is to be held at the Harper Adams college in Telford:

See you there!