I recently bit the bullet, coughed up my forty quid, and joined the Romantic Novelists Association. (Please note – the qualifications were just about length of book published and type of publisher, nothing to do with whether it was het or gay material.) So, when it was time for the bimonthly lunch of the local chapter (why does that make us sound like Hell’s Angels?) this Tuesday gone I didn’t feel quite so much of an intruder.

Not that they’re ever anything less than welcoming – they’re a lovely lot, mainly ladies of a ‘certain age’ (and that includes me and I was the youngest present) with one or two gents. We didn’t have a speaker this time, so we took it in turns to talk to the rest of the group about the books we’d read recently – good and bad. I praised Dominic Hibberd’s excellent biography of Wilfred Owen, and was less than polite about a novel I’d had from the library (the third book in a series and woefully self-indulgent and ‘clever’ whereas the first two had been light hearted and witty). No names, no pack drill, in re the latter.

We talked exclusively about print books and it was interesting to hear people level the same criticisms against the bad ones they’d read recently – poor editing, unappealing characters, porn without plot – that get levelled against e-books (more of which anon). It was particularly interesting to find out that three people present reviewed for the Historical Novel Society. Charlie will have to mind her p’s and q’s in the future.

The chat is always good with these lads and lasses, lots of interest and enthusiasm and the continual question “Are you writing at the moment?” Beware how you answer such things if you’re in a similar position – I was explaining to Angela and Geoffrey about the Cambridge boys, what sort of books they were, e-book before print and all that. The next thing I know, Angela has me down to speak at the next meeting about a) e-publishing and b) gay romance. (That’s me, a real sucker for saying “Yes, I’ll do that, no problem”.)

I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll be keeping the venue and date secret just in case anyone decides to gatecrash…

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