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How many writers’ organizations invite up to 250 unpublished hopefuls to join and learn from them?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 http://www.maggisherwin.co.uk.
Pure Silk available now from Total-e-Bound