Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RNA NWS (Read on for an explanation!)

By Maggi Sherwin (Guest Blogger)

I’m Maggi Sherwin and I’m based in the UK. I live in Epsom and it just so happens that as I’m writing this, crowds are starting to gather in town to either walk, or take buses and taxis, past our house and up to Epsom Downs. Its Derby Day, and the racegoers have the weather for it too - fine and sunny. It’s an annual even and I’ve been myself. The crowds present a noisy colourful spectacle, but today I’m more than happy to sit quietly here at home and write something for you about one of my favourite subjects – the RNA.

How many writers’ organizations invite up to 250 unpublished hopefuls to join and learn from them? I know of only one – the UK-based Romantic Novelists’ Association. A few years ago, a helpful editor, instead of a blanket rejection of the partial manuscript I sent her, liked it enough to write back pointing out the strengths and weaknesses in my work. It was just what I needed. I appreciated that if I wanted to be published, my skills needed to improve, particularly in plotting and pace. I’d heard the RNA had a New Writers’ Scheme and decided to join. It’s a move I have never regretted.

The most appealing thing about the Scheme is the opportunity to have an entire manuscript read and critiqued by a published member. A good critique can lead to a second reading, and a second reading can lead to publication. I know of several members who found a publisher in this way in their very first year, others have taken a little longer. Orion, HM&B, Robert Hale and Little Black Dress have all taken on authors who were on the Scheme.

Not all members achieve publication this way but the RNA plays a big part in their success in other ways. It’s like an apprenticeship. You learn so much from published authors, either at chapter meetings or at talks and workshops at the annual Conference. I have listened spellbound to the likes of Jodi Thomas, Jean Fullerton and Jill Mansell explaining their craft or their journey to publication. This has helped me to improve my writing but, almost as important, I’ve learned about the publishing industry in general. Where else could I have heard of the opportunities for new writers in e-publishing? Without the knowledge, support and encouragement of fellow RNA members to persevere and to experiment with different romance genres, I would now be published. The RNA helped to turn a researcher and editor of military history into a writer of erotic romance!

I am still on the NWS scheme because my novella ‘Pure Silk’ is under 30,000 words, but I’m working on the final chapters of a full length erotic romance. This, I hope, will be my ticket to full and permanent membership, the very thing I aspired to when I first joined over three years ago.

Visit me online at

Pure Silk available now from Total-e-Bound


Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Maggi!

Welcome to Beyond Romance. Thanks for sharing the story of your entry into publishing--very encouraging for enthusiastic newcomers.

All the best,

Kathy Otten said...

I'd never heard of RNA. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great organization. Good luck with your writing.

Unknown said...

I've never heard of the RNA either, but it sounds like a wonderful organization. Stick with it and some day you will be helping future authors. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

MC Halliday said...

The NWS sounds fabulous for a fledgling romance author. Good luck with your writing career, Maggi!

Maggi Sherwin said...

Thank you Kathy, Lorrie and MC Halliday for your good wishes. If you want to find out more about the RNA, it has its our own website. As RNA also stand for ribonucleic acid, it's probably better to Google "Romantic Novelists Association"!

Oh and thank you Lisabet for inviting me here.


Cate Masters said...

RNA's new to me too, but sounds great, if only for the critiques alone. Good critique partners are worth their weight in gold. :) Best wishes to you.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Maggi,
Nice blog. I used to be a member of RNA but had to drop out unfortunately. Living in Australia I decided it was better for me to belong to Australian groups. They are a great organization and one of my novels went through to a second reading in the new Writers scheme.



Maggi Sherwin said...

Margaret, I believe we have a couple of Australian members on the Scheme currently, but it can't be easy operating from such a great distance, despite the Internet. Getting a second reading is a major achievement, and I raise my glass to you. Are you published yet? If not, you must be close.

Cate, the UK RNA is the equivalent of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), but I don't believe the RWA has a new writers' scheme? Please put me right if I'm mistaken.

Best wishes

Maryannwrites said...

Another illustration of the willingness of writers to help each other. Where would we be without our support groups?

Anonymous said...

I like this idea. I'll have to look into the RNA and NWS for the development of my future ideas...

Maggi Sherwin said...

You're right Maryann. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover how supportive and unselfish the members are. And great fun they are too. The annual RNA conference is less than two weeks away. Three days it will be of talking books and writing with a host of lively and intelligent women (and a few men of course). I can hardly wait.


Anonymous said...

RWA welcomes nonpublished authors and you can always find a critique partner in whatever chapter of it you also join. RWA has been very helpful to me--with a speaker coming each mnth to give talks and workshops, and more.

Maggi Sherwin said...

Sapphire, I particularly enjoy the mixture of organised talks and informal discussions at chapter meeting. I attend the London chapter in Holborn ever two months. Published authors are often invited, and we have had workshops. We have also had panel discussions. A recent one focused on self-publishing.

I'm pleased to hear that the RWA is as supportive of unpublished writers in the US as the RNA is here in the UK.


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