Tuesday, 25 October 2011

We interrupt this blog with an announcement...

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.
The backdrop of 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 ;)

Dressed in my best Audrey Hepburn style posh frock, by the time of the evening dinner, Ball and award ceremony, the residual nerves and lack of confidence were banished by the half bottle of red wine I drank before going out. Thank you to all who kept me company throughout the weekend, and for those I didn’t manage to meet, we’ll hopefully get together at the 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!

There was evidently some kind of a mix up with the author’s names and titles but it didn’t matter to me. I’d been commended, and for the next hour or two my emotions leapt somewhere between giddy excitement and pure emotion at how I’ve never given up my dream, and at last, irrespective of the eventual outcome with my first novel, I’d had some ‘proper’ official recognition that I can write. I DO have potential. The reason I attended the weekend was to kickstart my badly neglected writing career after events of the last few months and health problems, and this couldn’t have been better incentive.

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
xx

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!

41 comments:

Caroline said...

Ohhh MASSIVE congratulation! So well deserved. You are a great writer - and you deserve it. Glad you had a fab weekend - it looked like a blast! Caroline x

Twiglet said...

What a great bit of news to start my day. Well done you. I believe everything happens for a reason - now keep your eyes on the future and best wishes for your writing career! x Jo

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Debbie:
What a thrill for you to win the award and, even better to have such invaluable professional feedback on your work. Surely the tides must be turning for you and a bright new future lies ahead.

We do so agree that things happen for a higher purpose and the events of your 'Annus Horribilis' must, as you write, be receding ever further into the shadows as your novel prepares to enter the limelight.

Many, many congratulations!!

mountainear said...

Wonderful news! Publication gets closer by the day - so exciting and well deserved. x

Irish Nomad said...

I am so, so pleased for you! This is just fantastic news! Having people in the know praise your work is a massive step - and ego boost. Shame the actual prize-givimg seemed a bit of a shambles. Still. Keep the faith-and keep us posted:)

Anna at the Doll House said...

Nothing is better for our confidence than positive praise from those we respect. You have certainly received plenty of that, so, go for your dream. I am so happy for you.

Anna

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Mega congratulations, Debbie! And well done for being positive and introducing yourself to one of the judges. I do hope you go from strength to stregth. I'd have loved being at the festival - maybe another year.

julietgreenwoodauthor said...

Hurrah! That is brilliant news! Well done you. All recognitions are a sign you're on the right road and a big boost in confidence for carrying on.

Good luck with the tweaks and getting your baby out there.

Juliet :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Congratulations!! That is so awesome. And introducing yourself to Jane! Best of luck with everything!

Janna Qualman said...

Absolutely! You should toot that horn as loud as possible. Congratulations!

Chris Stovell said...

Congratulations! What a boost for you; the future's all yours!

Em-Musing said...

Now it's time to break out the champagne! Congratulations!

toady said...

You go girl! Nobody deserves a bit of joy more.

Fran Hill said...

This is fabulous news. You must feel amazing. You deserve every minute of good-feelingness. x

liz fenwick said...

Huge congrats and my fingers are crossed. Good luck with the revisions and the thing I learned with these opportunities - they don't disappear so take the time you need to get the book to the best it can be.
lx

Sarah Pearson said...

This is brilliant Debbie. I would say congratulations on your good luck, but it isn't good luck it's hard work. Well done!

Flowerpot said...

BRILLIANT news I am so very pleased for you - go for it!! xxx

Liz Crump said...

Well done Debbie - you truly deserve it!

Lovely to meet you and can't wait to hear about your exciting journey to publication!

Congrats again Debbie xxx

M.J. Fifield said...

Congratulations!!! That's wonderful news.

bayou said...

See?! I knew it!
Fan-tas-tique!!! That's what you are. I feel as if a little bird on my hand is flying out to taste the delicious feeling of freedom.... Farewell, Debbie.

Norma Murray said...

Great stuff, Debbie. I only wish I could have seen it happen. Are you going to the winter party? if so, I'll look out for you. See you there.

Mari G said...

I'm not a bit surprised to hear of your success. Your posts flow so eloquently that a published novel can only be matter of time.
Huge congrats on your win
& Wow on the fab photos!

ordinary malaysian said...

Congratulations, congratulations! Enjoy, enjoy. You deserve it. Keep flowing with the water, not against it and you will always be alright.

Frances said...

Congratulations to you Debbie, on the writing of the novel of course, and also for your getting your manuscript entered into the event, and getting your beautiful self there, too.

I do look forward to your next post. xo

Rob-bear said...

So well done, Debbie!
An event that certainly Bears noting.
Congratulations, and best wishes.
Now, on with the revisions, m'lady!

Nikki Goodman said...

Debbie

So lovely to meet you at the Festival of Romance, what a great weekend! Congratulations again, I am sure a contract is not far off.

Take care, Nikki G. x

Fennie said...

So well done, Debbie. It was just what you needed. Someone out there is rooting for you - your star is in the ascendant - great things are possible.
Just go for it..........

Lucie said...

What a lovely write up. I said it at the time, but I'll say it again- CONGRATULATIONS! A wonderful achievement and truly deserved. xxx

Colette McCormick said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Friko said...

Many congratulations on your achievement.
Your talent and hard work have been recognised and I wish you all the very best for the future.

Happy writing,

from another AA, as yet beavering in obscurity.

Melissa Marsh said...

Simply WONDERFUL! So happy for you!

Irish Eyes said...

Well done you! Onwards and upwards as the saying goes.

Irish Eyes said...

Well done you! Onwards and upwards as the saying goes.

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Debs Carr said...

Huge congratulations and cheers from me.

Booking to go to the festival certainly does sound like a defining moment to me. So thrilled for you, very well deserved. Xxx

Jenny Beattie said...

What absolutely fantastic news. Congratulations to you.

Pondside said...

Well done - that's fantastic news!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

You look incredible! I want to hug you and say I am massively proud of you - and to think I've met you in person at my farm is such a bonus.

Well done on this wonderful success!

CJ xx

elizabethm said...

That is absolutely fabulous and you sat through lunch today and didn't mention it! Just really really pleased for you and know you deserve it. Lovely to see you today too. You are a start.

Tattie Weasle said...

FANTASTIC NEWS! It is really well deserved. Onwards and upwards my girl! Can't wait to get my copy....

Keena said...

congrats....