I’ve just got back from the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 2015 conference, held at Queen Mary’s University in London (you can read more about that here). I attended this annual event for the first time last year, but only on a day ticket. It was so good and I learned so much, I put my name down for this year’s conference the moment the list opened. It also gave me the chance to do my bit by helping fill the goody bags which each delegate receives with donations of paperbacks, bookmarks, sweets and chocolate. This year, those bags included advertising flyers for my titles with The Wild Rose Press, His Majesty’s Secret Passion and Her Royal Risk.
As a conference newbie, I had a lot to learn. Much
of that was about packing my case. My OH has enough business miles
under his belt to qualify for Club Class on Mars One. When he walked
into our bedroom and saw what I intended to take with me to London, he
laughed. My packing list was at least a yard too long, apparently, and I
was taking all the wrong things.
If that news wasn’t bad enough, he turned out to be right—grr!
Now, with a whole week of conference experience behind me, here are my
three top tips for the conference newbie. They’re handy whether you’re
heading off to New York for the RWA meet, or some other far-flung
THE 40% RULE
1.Lay everything you want to take out on your bed (or other large flat surface). Then...
2....put 40% of it straight back in the wardrobe.
Believe me, it’ll weigh you down for no purpose. You’ll never wear it.
Not even your gym kit. Especially not your gym kit. At home I run
nearly every day, but then I live in the middle of nowhere. I rarely
meet anyone else when I’m out jogging. If I do, they’re bound to be much
older and larger than I am. That’s just the demographic of this area.
That’s why I ignored OH, and dragged my gym bag to London. Bad mistake.
Everyone who runs in the city is twice my height, half my weight and
barely a third my age.
Don’t worry—you’ll have so much fun at
conference, even if you look like an Olympic champion you won’t be
running. You won’t have the time. Vow to catch up with your exercise
you get home.
FOOD AND DRINK—BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY...
My life runs on tea. I can get pretty mean when I’m deprived, so I took
along a few tea bags, some dried milk and a small spoon so I could make
the first and last drinks of the day. My flat had a kitchen, otherwise a
travel mug and in-cup boiler would been on my packing list, too.
If tea and coffee aren’t your thing, pack a corkscrew with an integral
bottle opener (unless your budget runs to champagne, or you can impress
someone who has a bottomless expense account!). Protect its point with
the last cork you drew.
I get terrible migraines if I don’t eat
regularly. Just in case I was delayed on the long journey to
London—always likely—I went prepared with a couple of crackers, a piece
of cheese (which doesn’t give me migraines), and an apple. I took iced
water and my tablets, too, and luckily didn’t need any of it. Yes, we do
have shops in England, and buffet cars on trains, but you can’t rely on
the opening times, or stock levels, of either.
AND BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW...
some soft ear-plugs! My room was great, and I never heard my neighbors
once we’d said goodnight. Unfortunately, we were in student
accommodation. Our flats overlooked the main pedestrian route through
the campus. The university hosts hundreds of exchange students during
the long vacation, as well as delegates. A run of hot weather sent
endless streams of people milling past our block, from 7am straight
through to 2 or 3am the following day. Even then there was no peace, as
that was when the trash carts rumbled into action, and the university
cleaning shifts changed. The surrounding high buildings acted like
alls, echoing every noise.
My window was double-glazed. When
shut, it kept out virtually all sound. It also kept in all the heat my
sunny room absorbed during the day, while I was sitting in one of the
university’s air-conditioned lecture theaters. Each night, I could
either keep the window closed and sleep in silence while gently stewing,
or open it and try to nap between the bursts of party people passing
As I can remember racketing through the streets in the early
hours of the morning with packs of other high spirited students, I
could hardly complain about getting a taste of my own medicine!
she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes
contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. Her
books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s
sold more than two million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at
her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook and see a full list of her published
Her current release, Her Royal Risk, is part of her
Princes Of Kharova series published by The Wild Rose Press, and is
available here. To find out more about Christina, and the next book in
her Princes Of Kharova series, Heart Of A Hostage, you can sign up for
Her Royal Risk—Published by Wild Rose Press — http://bit.ly/1GQPIIq
His Majesty's Secret Passion—Published by Wild Rose Press — http://bit.ly/1ujX5zc