I’m very lucky to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It’s a great organisation, dedicated to promoting the genre and raising its profile and they have a lovely new website at www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org  . They give out various awards each year and today the short lists for these are revealed. Check out the website for details! I can’t wait to see who the overall winner is, but that won’t be announced until mid March.

The RNA also does a great job of keeping people like me sane. By attending their various talks and functions, I can keep in touch with like-minded people and believe me, I need it!

Anyone who’s ever tried to be an author knows it’s a lonely business. You sit at your desk and stare at a blank screen (or, if you’re lucky, a rapidly filling one when the muse runs away with you) and in most cases, you can’t go and discuss your latest bright ideas with anyone else because other family members are usually not even remotely interested.

That’s where the RNA comes in. Through them, I can join in an on-line forum, go to local chapter meetings and general meetings/ conferences/ parties. No one there will look at me as if I’m slightly deranged if I start to talk about plot, characters who misbehave, or endings that don’t want to come right. They’re all in the same boat, they know where I’m coming from – wonderful! And the encouragement and sheer “buzz” I get from talking to others with the same interest is phenomenal. I always come back from these various functions rearing to write.

A couple of weeks ago, for instance – I went to listen to a publishing industry panel discussing the topic “where is romantic fiction in these hard times?” Good question. The encouraging answer seemed to be that despite the recession, romantic fiction is doing rather well. Very well, in fact, because people need cheering up, they need the feel-good factor of a happy ending, an uplifting romance. And although overall sales of books might be down, romance is on the up. Excellent! And just what everyone in the audience wanted to hear.

I also attended a chapter meeting where the speaker was my fellow Choc Lit author Sue Moorcroft (see www.suemoorcroft.com ) She was talking about her book “Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction”, which I’m now halfway through. It’s full of useful tips and has something for everyone. As an author, I feel I’m evolving and learning all the time and books like these get the creative juices flowing.

So I’d better make use of this and get on with some writing then …