Tuesday, September 22, 2015

FOCUS ON: Cambridge Chapter

Judith Lennox was kind enough to answer our questions on the Cambridge Chapter, though it would seem the borders are much extended

We’re the Cambridge Chapter, though our members come from all over East Anglia – Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and beyond.

How long has your chapter been running?
We’ve been meeting since 2006. Jan Jones and I started the group with just a few people, meeting at my Cambridge house. Expanding numbers and the problems of parking in Cambridge soon meant that we looked for a different venue, with good transport links – and plentiful parking.

Do you have a schedule or are your meetings ad hoc?
Our meetings are monthly and always include a lunch. We meet at the Red Lion pub in Whittlesford,
a village a few miles south of Cambridge. It’s a thirteenth century coaching inn with an attractive interior and friendly staff. We don’t have a private room but have, over time, become used to ‘our’ table, in a quiet part of the pub. They are happy to accommodate a light lunch of soup or sandwiches as well as two-course meals.

We alternate between Tuesdays and Wednesdays so that those with fixed obligations have a chance of making a meeting.

A Thirteenth Century Coaching Inn! It sounds lovely. How many members attend your meetings?
It varies, from around four to a maximum of about twelve to fourteen. We’ve a mixture of men and women and a big age range. Some of our members are just beginning their writing careers and others have been published for decades. We work in a wide variety of genres.

Is your chapter open to non-members of the RNA?
No, only RNA members.

How long are your meetings?
Generally around two to two and a half hours. Discussion is spontaneous rather than structured, and we cover a wide variety of topics – for instance, during the last two meetings we discussed the recent RNA conference, self-publication of eBooks through Amazon, how Pinterest can help writers attract new readers, writing erotic fiction and researching the laws connected with marriages licences.

Can you give an outline of speakers/guests you’ve had in the past year?
Jean Fullerton, in her role as Chapter Liaison, was a guest at one of our lunches earlier this year. We don’t have speakers – we decided that what we wanted out of the meetings was informal discussions about the subjects that concern writers, along with the support and encouragement you gain from talking to others in the same profession.

What have you planned for the rest of 2015?
Our monthly lunches will continue. In December we have a Christmas lunch, complete with Secret Santa and turkey and pudding for those who desire it!

What would you say makes your chapter of the RNA so special?
I think some of our members enjoy the fact that we’re a small group. It makes it easier to get to know people and means that everyone, quieter people included, can have their say. Everyone sympathises over the pressure of deadlines and shares the triumph of a contract signed or a publication day. I feel that we are supportive and welcoming – and we aim to enjoy ourselves!

Does your chapter have a website, Facebook page or Twitter account?
No. We communicate through a Yahoo group, which those who join the Chapter can take part in.

Who is the contact for new members?
We always warmly welcome new members. Anyone from the East Anglia area who is interested in joining us please contact Judith Lennox at judith@judithlennox.com or Jan Jones at jan@jan-jones.co.uk

Your meetings are obviously open and expansive and the venue sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing

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Judith Lennox said...

Many thanks for featuring the Cambridge Chapter on the blog today. Our next lunch is on October 14th.

Jan Jones said...

I always look forward to our #RNACambs meetings. I don't think any of us ever go away without learning something and passing knowledge on.