I seem to be spending a lot of time in Perth recently, but with the Kwinana Highway cutting the journey from Bunbury down to an acceptable two hours those of us who live in the laid-back south west can really have the best of both worlds.

This time I signed up for, wait for it, a Romance Writers Conference. I can hear a few sniggers, and snorts of  “powder puff pink”, and “who reads that drivel anyway,” but I must halt you there and defend the category romance because millions of women the world over read romantic novels and it’s one of,  if not the most popular genre of fiction.

I have heard that many a Mills & Boon or eHarlequin author has earnt so much that they’ve had to duck for tax-haven security, but what I learnt at the conference at the weekend would suggest that those who make the big time are not only prolific, but also dedicated and totally committed to a craft which requires ingenuity and originality carefully moulded within a formula.

They work hard and they can’t wait around for an inspiring muse to make an appearance. They are strictly, ‘put bum on chair and write’ type of people, often putting their characters into exotic settings, and writing novels set in placess like Bali below (sigh), of which I totally approve, although in reality I don’t suppose I’ll ever write a romantic novel – perhaps I’m just not romantic enough.

Bali, a romantic setting for a novel

Anyhow, wearing enough pink to feel comfortable but not enough to mimic Barbara Cartland (although most people seemed to be in black or brown) I sat down with pen poised and notebook ready. It was a fascinating day with interesting writing workshops, tasty grub and plenty of good humoured banter. The speakers (published authors) provided hints, tips and in-depth information that could easily be applied to different genres of writing and the overall atmosphere was like an an entertaining ‘Hen Party’, at once fun, inclusive and sharing.

If you enjoy romance novels,  have ever considered writing romance, or would like to know more about some of the authors that do, here are a links to the speakers and their websites, and a couple of others.

Nikki Logan – Branding

Juliet Marillier – Creating believable historical settings in your fiction and Finding your voice,

Fiona Palmer – Fabulous first chapters and first paragraphs,

Fiona Lowe – Conflict and finding the Zen of your back story, and Tension – how to write a page turner.

www.margielawson.com, www.bookdepository.co.uk , www.barbarasamuel.com

For more information on the RWA visit the Romance Writers of Australia website.

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