Apologies for anyone expecting to read the 'coping strategies’ I promised in my
previous blog but I have an announcement to make, a rather significant announcement for a wannabe writer…
Last weekend at the inaugural Festival of Romance International Convention I was awarded runner up in the New Talent Award. As someone who doesn’t normally like to sing my own praises, I’m sure you’ll allow me, just for this once to bask in the glory, especially given the year I’ve had.
Only a few weeks ago I didn’t even know whether I’d attend, having booked the weekend on a whim during one of my fight back moments. For aspiring author's to attend, one of the conditions was entering the New Talent Award. Back in August when I (somehow) managed to complete my first novel, 'Mother's Love' for the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I received some excellent and encouraging feedback, but with everything else that has gone on over recent weeks, I haven’t got round to starting the suggested revisions. And so I duly emailed the required first chapter and synopsis of ‘Mother’s Love’ to Kate Allan, delightful author and organiser of the Festival without another thought.
And what a Festival it was! Superbly organised and executed by everyone involved, it was a joy to mingle with, and learn from established authors, agents and publishers, and to get to know better some of my AA (Aspiring Author) counterparts. What a lovely bunch of Romantic Novelists.
Hunton Park couldn’t have been a better setting, and I almost expected Mr Darcy to come romping across the lawns in my direction. He didn’t, alas, but I got my kicks elsewhere; in particular the session on Erotica versus Erotic Romance, which I’d never dared to even think about but now, especially as I’m a singleton, I may consider ;)
RNA Winter Party
The awards ceremony commenced – a glitzy, glamorous affair with top talents in the Romantic Genre and Historical being recognised. Then it was onto the Festival’s New Talent Award, with agent, Jane Judd presenting the awards. (I’ve long had my list of top agents and Jane features in my top three.) Looking round the table of talent, I wondered which of my fellow rookie writer’s names might be called. And the first name out…
‘Debbie White receives the commended award for her novel, "Tough Love."’
I don’t know whether it was the fact that the title of the novel wasn’t mine, or that I was so stunned to have a 'commended' that made me freeze in the chair.
‘Go on, that’s you.’ Celia Anderson gave me a little shove, encouraging me to get up and shake hands with my heroine agent.
3rd place – the lovely Sarah Callejo
2nd Place – Rosemary Dun’s name was read out but the title of her novel was mine, ‘Mother’s Love.’Poor Rosemary had had to go home early with dreadful earache.
1st place and winner of the coveted New Talent Award - went to Henriette Gyland Congratulations Henri!
Late in the evening I saw Jane Judd and her husband look as if they might be making a move, and fuelled by yet more red wine and the knowledge that if I didn’t properly introduce myself I’d always regret it, a wave of courage suddenly gripped me and catapulted me into her path, blocking her exit.
I shook hands nervously, bumbling that there had been a bit of a mix up with the titles, but thanking her for giving me the commendation for 'Mother’s Love.’
‘Is that the one about the Grandmother?’ Jane asked.
‘Yes that’s mine.’
‘No, that was definitely second,’ she said. ‘And it was a close second. I voted for yours to win…’
Second, fourth, I genuinely don't care. I'm sure my fellow AA's will agree, to be able to reach the top four in any kind of contest when you crave publication is massive achievement and big boost of confidence. For me, hearing Jane's comments and to get the opportunity to submit to her is prize enough. Needless to say the rest of the evening passed in a bit of a blur, not only because of the red wine.
Indeed I’ve been pinching myself ever since. I emailed Jane yesterday, saying it was good to meet her, and thanking her for the opportunity to submit the full MS which I will do once I’ve made the RNA NWS suggested tweaks. (I was also trying to prove that I could be professional and not a complete drunken buffoon.)Twenty minutes later she emailed back, not only confirming that I hadn’t dreamt Saturday night, but also giving me her feedback and the constructive feedback from Donna Condon, Senior Editor at Piatkus publishing.
With that invaluable advice, the hard work really starts for me, but bring it on. Everything happens for a reason. I always knew writing would be my salvation, and as I look back I see that booking the Festival of Romance weekend on a whim was not just a fightback moment, it might well be a defining moment. Life will get better from this point onwards, I just know it…
Until another day
Bye for now
PS - Click here - for full details of the nominees and winners of Festival of Romance Awards. In particular, splediferous well done's to:
Sue Moorcroft - winner of Best Romantic Read
Jean Fullerton - winner of Best Historical Romance Read
Henri Gyland - Winner of best New Talent
Carole Matthews - Outstanding contribution to Romantic Fiction
PPS - All photos are courtesy of the wonderful talented Liz Crump - thanks Liz, and great to meet you!