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14/02/2016: Romance Conference in Madrid

I have just returned from two days in Spain where I attended the sixth annual 'Yo Leo RA' (roughly translated 'I read romantic fiction') 'Encuentros RA' conference in the heart of Madrid - a fantastic experience!

This was a conference for readers and authors of romantic fiction which started six years ago with around 80 people getting together in a bar to share their love of the romance genre. It has been growing steadily ever since and this time there were over 500 attendees, 120 of them authors! I really enjoyed chatting to some of them and all were enthusiastic and extremely friendly, making me feel very welcome.

Among them were the lovely Laura Frias of the Cientos de Miles de Historias blog (whom I have had the pleasure of meeting before so it was great to see her again!), fellow Libros de Seda author Nuria Llop and the lady who runs the Lectur Adictiva blog. It was great to see romance appreciated so much and the way the audience engaged in the discussions showed how passionate they are about romantic novels - just as it should be!

I was honoured to have been invited to take part in the programme and after listening to two panel discussions, it was my turn to take to the stage, where author and organiser Merche Diolch asked me questions. My Spanish is a little rusty (I can understand most of it but have forgotten so many words!) but fortunately I had two members of the Libros de Seda team (my Spanish publisher) to help me with translation - Maria Jos é de Jaime and Alex Many é - huge thanks to them and to Merche for her patience!

Unusually for Spain, the weather was awful with rain and strong winds, but I managed to get to the Prado and Thyssen-Bournemisza museums to have a look at all the fabulous artworks on display. It was almost too much to take in, a real feast for the eyes with some paintings so beautiful it was hard to believe anyone could have created them.

I finished my time in Madrid with a stroll round the old streets in the centre, narrow with the typical Spanish houses covered in wrought-iron balconies, and the sense of history was overwhelming. A stark contrast to the very new and very modern airport, whose ceilings had to be seen to be believed! All in all, a very enjoyable visit to one of my favourite countries - a very big thank you to the 'Yo Leo RA' organisers for inviting me!

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