Monday, 14 March 2016

Dream Come True

There are a few moments in your life when you think - I did it!

When I found out that I had won Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star novel competition, I couldn’t believe it. Especially as my competitors on the shortlist, including one of my friends, Lynn Forth, write to such a high standard.

At first I felt stunned, it wasn’t until I told my mother on the phone and she burst into tears, that I had an emotional reaction. Since then, social media has gone mad and I’m overwhelmed by the positive support and best wishes.

Who is Harry Dixon?, my winning novel, began as a grain of an idea. I know exactly when it came to me. We were on holiday in Northumberland in July 2014 and my husband thought there was something wrong as I went so quiet in the car. The silence, after I had reassured hubbie I was okay, was followed by a frantic scribbling on the back of an envelope I found discarded in the door pocket of the car. Harry Dixon and my heroine, Ellie Golden were born!

I would never have dreamed back then that huge pictures of me would be on Facebook and the announcement of my win for Choc Lit would be listed amongst the most popular stories on Book2book Book Trade information.

So, dreams do come true. I know there is a lot of work ahead when I get my editorial report, but I’m finally on my way to being published. Yippee.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A First Time

On Monday, I headed down to London for the Romantic Novelists' Association Annual Awards, the RoNAs. I didn't know what to expect, as I hadn't attended before.

Bella Osborne and Morton Gray
By chance, although getting on at different stations, my friend Bella Osborne was on the same train. We travelled together to the hotel near Embankment tube station right by the River Thames. We were pleasantly surprised to find the hotel we had booked into was right next to the venue for the evening at One Whitehall Place. We later discovered there was a very welcome connecting door, so we didn't even need coats!

I had decided to attend the awards as several of my friends, Bella Osborne, Janice Preston and Alison May, were nominated for awards, as well as others I know and admire from the RNA.

The evening began with a champagne reception in a beautiful room overlooking the Thames. It almost felt as if the buildings and the London Eye on the opposite bank had been lit just for us. Noise levels, as at most RNA events, were heightened as friends greeted each other and new friendships were made.

Janice Preston

View from the window

Champagne reception

We were ushered through into the Gladstone Library, where our seating was pre-allocated at glittering tables loaded with canapes, silver chocolate hearts and pink champagne. I was sitting opposite to Sue Moorcroft and next to June Tate.

Fern Britton was presenting the awards, along with the RNA's own Jane Wenham-Jones. My friends unfortunately didn't pick up any prizes, but it was a great achievement to be shortlisted anyway.

The winners were:-

Melanie Hudson, The Wedding Cake Tree, Choc Lit
Winner Contemporary Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960, and can include chick lit, paranormal and romantic suspense)

Emma Hannigan, The Secrets We Share, Headline Review
Winner Epic Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for novels containing serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories)

Iona Grey, Letters to the Lost, Simon & Schuster
Winner Historical Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for novels set in a period before 1960)

Milly Johnson, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café, Simon & Schuster
Winner Romantic Comedy Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(for consistently humorous or amusing novels)

Annie O'Neil, Doctor... To Duchess?, Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Winner RoNA Rose Award
(for category/series and shorter romance)

Lucy Inglis, Crow Mountain, Chicken House
Winner Young Adult Category Romantic Novel of the Year
(featuring protagonists who are teenagers or young adults)

Outstanding Achievement Awards

Anita Burgh is the author of twenty-three novels, all published after she reached 50.

Claire Lorrimer, who has written more than 100 novels, is the daughter of the RNA’s first President, best-selling novelist Denise Robins.

Both Anita and Claire were presented with outstanding achievement awards for their continued championing of the RNA and romantic fiction.

Iona Grey triumphed over fellow competing authors to win the Romantic Novelists' Association's highest accolade, The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year, with Letter to the Lost, published by Simon & Schuster. Fern Britton presented Iona with her trophies and a cheque for £5000.

I have a particular soft spot for Iona Grey, as I once attended one of her courses about heroes and heroines in Cheshire and she has taken an interest in my writing ever since.

The Gladstone Library 

Iona Grey receives her award 

What a wonderful event. I want to book for next year already.