RNA Conference 2017 (Harper Adams) #RNAConf17

I spent last weekend at the wonderful RNA Conference in the beautiful setting of Harper Adams University.

The conference is always a whirlwind and when I decided to go for a long weekend rather than just the basic conference I made an excellent, if exhausting choice.

I arrived quite late on Thursday evening and after some fun and games finding the halls of residence with the help of the nicest taxi driver, met up with my usual flatmates, aka Kate Johnson, Immi Howson, Rhoda Baxter, Janet Gover and Alison May. Aka The naughty kitchen. More on that later.

Friday morning allowed us some time to explore the campus and Janet kicked things off with a talk on image manipulation, the first of many highlights.
We all gathered in the main lecture theatre, where I ended up spending rather a lot of time. The panel on the current state of the industry was fascinating and entertaining. It also felt like the most positive of these I’ve attended in a number of years. Things are looking up in the world of Romantic Fiction.

On Friday night there were drinkies. But not too many as I gave a talk on School Visits first thing on Saturday morning. It went very well until the computer decided to apply Windows updates in the middle of the talk, rebooting everything, including my slideshow. But apparently it wasn’t just me. The university has a Saturday morning routine, it seems. I may have gone for a bit of a lie down afterwards!

Other talk highlights over the weekend included Alison May and Bella Osbourne’s Plotter vs. Pantser talk (hilarious, with added aliens), Immi as the sparkly gazelle in the RNA Have Your Say discussion, Fiona Harper’s wonderful workshop on character development, a panel on how to be a helpful author featuring Julia Silk (agent), JB Johnson (bookblogger) & Julia Williams (editor and author) and Kate Johnson’s Guide to Worldbuilding.
Saturday evening was the Gala dinner, when we all put on our finery, have a wonderful meal and great conversation. It’s also the night that the Elizabeth Goudge prize is awarded. This annual competition is always held at the conference, and is hotly contested.

This year the theme was “Runaways” and the entry had to be 2000 words from the beginning of novel. I was absolutely delighted to be announced as the runner up with the opening to the as yet unwritten (apart from those 2000 words) sequel to the Space Opera.

Even better news was that Immi was the winner so we got to celebrate together. Here we are with Jill Mansell and RNA President Katie Fforde.

The naughty kitchen may have imbibed a few drinks that night. But I was not the last to bed. 😀

If you have never been to a writing conference I cannot recommend the RNA one enough. You’ll never encounter a more helpful, supportive and creative group of people.

#IBW2017 #Bookshopcrawl & HP

Starting on 24th June, it’s Independent Bookshop week. As everyone knows my love affair with bookshops has lasted my whole life. I grew up visiting the now legendary Exchange Bookshop in Dalkey, full of pokey corners and floor to ceiling bookshelves of wonder. I cried when I found out it was closing because my first book was due out shortly afterwards and I’d never see it on those shelves. Books, and bookshops, have been so important to me.

On Saturday I’ll be teaming up with Carmel Harrington (writer extraordinaire, @HappyMrsH) to bookshop crawl up the east coast to Dublin. We’re meeting up in Wicklow at Bridge Street Books around 11am, heading for Dubray in Bray and Magpie Books in Enniskerry. Then on to the spiritual sucressor of The Exhange in Dalkey, the lovely Gutter Bookshop. After that we head for Dubray Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock, Raven Books (any others we can think of?) and on into the city centre for Chapters, Books Upstairs and Dubray on Grafton Street where we will be meeting Hazel Gaynor and Catherine Ryan Howard. They will have done their own book crawl from the west in. We’ll all collapse over coffee.

We don’t know if we’ll make all the shops and we don’t know what times we’ll be arriving at them. But we will be updating online as we go. If anyone is arround, say hi! The hashtags are #bookshopcrawl & #IBW2017

And because one event in a day isn’t enough I’ll also be taking part in Hodges Figgis Great Harry Potter Read – reading Chapter 16 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s at 4.30pm. Second last chapter, where all the action is.

And THEN I’m off to a Barbecue at the Zoo.

Can I fit all this into one day? There’s only one way to find out. Stay tuned.

Wexworlds 2017

I can’t believe it’s May already. And with May comes Wexworlds!

I’m going to be there on the Saturday (13th) from 12.30 to 1.30pm, talking with the fabulous Celine Kiernan about fantasy, YA, Writing, and using folklore and history in modern Irish fantasy. I’m also planning to hang around, chat and sign some books.

Come and join us in the Talbot Hotel, Wexford.

 

World book day…

World Book DayIt’s that time of year again. World Book Day is almost upon us. It’s more like World Book Month though if you’re an author doing school visits. Not that I would change that for a moment.

There is nothing so exhilarating(and/or terrifying) than a room full of teenagers gathered to hear you talk about writing. Like a grown up. Like you know something about it. Like a real author.

You know what I mean.

But while not my natural habitat, I find school visits to be a whirlwind of excitement. I love talking to readers and hopefully future readers. And of course writers or hopefully future writers. There are a lot out there. We always need more.

So while it is nerve racking (seriously, I’ll shake like a leaf beforehand and collapse in a heap afterwards) there is also nothing so worthwhile for an author than getting out there and directly connecting with your readership.

And the questions… oh my, the questions…

This week I’ll be going to Drogheda Grammar School on Wednesday 1st March and on World Book Day itself, Thursday 2nd March, I’ll be in Dubray Bookshop in Bray talking to local students. The following week I’m going to Coláiste Chillian in Clondalkin and High School in Rathgar. All this and work too.

*gazes longingly at bed and promises self I’ll sleep in April*

Reading and writing and musing

I am not well-read. Not in the traditional sense. I have an English literature degree. I love to read. I take pleasure in books of all kind from their physical form to the wonders inside. But I am not well-read.

As a writer, one must read. There are so many reasons of this but for me it’s a case of getting the ideas moving — the giant fan stirring up the words like tokens in the Dome at the end of the Crystal Maze TV show so you can plunge in and try to grab the gold tokens from the air, while avoiding the silver ones which have negative value. In a sense, that is writing to me, madly whirling around in a place full of fluttering glittering ideas and trying desperately to grab the good ones.

Ideas come from everywhere, it’s true. They are all around us every day. But more than anything else, ideas come from other books. Carl Sagan said that when you open a book and begin to read another voice is whispering to you, from across centuries, across boundaries of nationality, race, gender and experience. We’re hearing the words of another, words carefully thought out and crafted, telling you a story, passing on a message. Sharing.

To be well-read, I always imagine, is to be the person who scores highly on those “100 books you must read lists”, who knows who won the Hob-nob prize in 1992 (yes I made that up. At lease I hope I did), who wafts through a bookshop picking up only the best, the most prestigious, the “important” books.

Oh, this is so not me.

I read what I love. I read the things that grab me and won’t let go. I read the books that don’t seem like a chore (I did enough of that in college), that make me ignore TV, or hunger, or anything else really. The books that keep me up at night going “just one more paragraph, one more page, one more chapter”. I read the books that make my family look to see how many pages I have left before trying to interrupt. Luckily I have a family who understand that “I’ve only 20 pages to go!” is a valid reason for making anyone wait. They do it too, of course. It’s hereditary.

And I want to write those books too. I think all writers should. Write what you love. Write what you need to read. Write the book that will not leave you alone, that wakes you up just as you’re falling asleep to say “I have this amazing idea!”

Reading is a superpower, the ability to bring words on paper to life in your mind, to get so emotionally embroiled in a story that it takes over. Writing is the same, because if you aren’t obsessed with this story, with these characters, how can you expect that magic to work on someone else? It’s hard work, but so rewarding, especially when you seek out the stories that you need to tell, that you ache to write.

And I find them by reading.

I am not well-read, but I read what I love.

A little Christmas Present – Explore Dubh Linn

The Dubh Linn trilogy has an array of Dublin locations, and a few in Dubh Linn as well so, after a conversation at the launch of A Darkness at the End, I put together an actual map. There’s loads to play with, a list of locations. You can switch to satellite and zoom in and even work out all the routes if you want to do a walking tour. If you’d like it bigger and in more detail you can go to Zeemaps and Dubh Linn clicking here.

Happy Christmas. Don’t get lost.

Die Chroniken der Fae – In Liebe und Hoffnung

So excited to share this – the cover of the German edition of A Darkness at the End, featuring a familiar and beautiful face.

Die Chroniken der Fae - In Liebe und Hoffnung von Ruth Frances Long

Die Chroniken der Fae – In Liebe und Hoffnung von Ruth Frances Long

I can’t get over how amazing these covers are and how beautifully they capture the characters.

In case you missed it as well I’ve been in the Irish Times, and A Darkness at the End got a mention in the Sunday Independent. And I’ll be hosting #writerswise on twitter on Thursday evening. All busy here.

Magpie Encounter at Octocon

I had such a wonderful time at Octocon including the somewhat surreal experience of meeting one of my own characters! Fantastic Magpie cosplay, including threats of violence, weapons and menace.

A writer’s dream come true. Or possibly a nightmare…

magpiekate

Hoping for a relatively quiet Halloween weekend but next weekend I’m up in Ardagh for the Frightfest! Here’s hoping I don’t get followed!

Octocon 2016

octoconIt’s that time of year again and this weekend it’ll be Octocon, in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin. Here are the panels I’ll be taking part in over the weekend. I’ll have copies of my books on sale in the tradehall as well and I’ll be happy to sign them for you. I’ll also be hanging out and going to some of the amazing other panels. Really looking forward to it. The full schedule is available here.

octocon2016schedule