The Romance Novelists’ Association has announced its shortlist for their annual RoNA awards. The Romance authors congratulate Fiona Harper for finalling in the RoNA Rose Award (for Short/Series/Category Romance) with her title ALWAYS THE BEST MAN, a 2012 RIVA release.
And we also give a big high five to Pam Hartshorne, aka Jessica Hart, for her final in the Historical Romance category with her book TIME’S ECHO. Congrats girls!
The Australian Romance Readers Association also have announced their finalists for the annual ARRA awards. Double congrats to Barbara Hannay who shortlisted with THE CATTLEMAN’S SPECIAL DELIVERY in the Short Category Romance category and also in the Favourite Contemporary Romance category with her single title, ZOE’S MUSTER. And we can’t forget Nicola Marsh, whose indie title CRAZY LOVE got a thumbs up in the Favourite Meeting Between A Hero and Heroine category!
Way to go everyone! Fingers crossed!
Every year in May the members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK gather for their summer party. As your Harlequin Romance author on the ground, Fiona Harper was forced to go and chat to friends and sip bubbly. Such a hardship.
This year the party was held at the Royal Overseas League in the heart of St James’s in London, just tucked behind the famous Ritz Hotel. Now, while we RNA members love a good excuse to get together and gas and drink wine, the summer party also involves awards presentations – very exciting!
First up was the Joan Hessayon New Writer’s Award. The shortlist is made up of books that have been through the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme and have subsequently been published. The nominees ranged from series romance to women’s fiction and historical romance to erotica:
Scarlet Wilson – It Started With A Pregnancy… (Mills & Boon)
Tanith Davenport – The Hand He Dealt (Total e-Bound)
Linda Mitchelmore – To Turn Full Circle ( Choc Lit)
Liz Fenwick – The Cornish House (Orion)
Rhoda Baxter – Patently in Love (Uncial Press)
Lynda Dunwell – Marrying the Admiral’s Daughter (Musa Publishing)
Evonne Wareham – Never Coming Home (Choc Lit)
Gina Rossi – The Wild Heart (Wild Rose Press)
Each shortlisted author was presented with a certificate and received a small cheque. But the winner, who received a larger prize and the chance to take the silver trophy home for the year was Evonne Wareham with for her novel Never Coming Home. Congratulations, Evonne!
Charlotte Betts, last year’s winner gave a short and inspiring speech and then Sky News regular Kay Burley spoke briefly before presenting the Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNA). The shortlist was made up of five books, picked as top in their categories at a glitzy award ceremony earlier this year. The contenders were:
Contemporary romantic novel: The Summer of Love – Katie Fforde
Epic romance novel: The Kashmir Shawl – Rosie Thomas
Historical romance novel: Highland Storms – Christina Courtenay
Romantic comedy novel: Please Don’t Stop The Music – Jane Lovering
Young Adult romantic novel: Dark Ride – Caroline Green
And the winner was…
Jane Lovering’s debut for Choc Lit, Please Don’t Stop The Music. Jane was so over-excited that the beautiful glass bowl she was presented with was quickly whisked away, because even Jane admitted the chances of her dropping it were extremely high!
After toasting the winners there was nothing left to do but swill bubbly and chat to a whole roomful of other romance authors and, boy, can we talk! The noise level was deafening. (The RNA is also known for its drinking capabilities too, but maybe we’d better not get into that…)
While fellow Harlequin author Scarlet Wilson may not have walked away with the new writers’ award, she did (unofficially) pick up the award for most fabulous shoes of the evening. And, in the RNA, that’s a pretty big deal. If you ever check out the RNA blog after one of our events, you’ll see that half the pictures are of shoes!
“I love you” written on lipstick on the bathroom mirror, drawn in the steamed up windows of a bus, a heart made out of stones left in the front yard will lift the heart, raise a smile. And it doesn’t just have to be on one day of the year.
Valentine’s is just a reminder to say the words, think about how much you love someone, take the time to share them with someone who means the world to you.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
And if you want to know how romance authors celebrate the day, come back tomorrow. We’re sharing our day with you by letting you know how we celebrated Valentine’s Day and one lucky reader will get a heck of a prize! All you have to do to enter the contest is comment on those posts. After the last story is posted, we’ll be picking ONE winner to receive a prize from each of the authors. One winner. Lots of loot.
Two Harlequin Romance authors already have a very special Valentine’s Day gift from the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Here’s Jessica, talking about her inspiration for Ordinary Girl in a Tiara…
I have a confession to make. I’ve never been much of a one for stories about princes or sheiks or brooding Mediterranean counts. I like romances that are rooted in reality, and characters I can identify with. So when I decided to have a go at a royal romance (“try something a bit different”), I decided I’d have to do a bit of research. Well, what a lovely time I had! I got to flick through endless celebrity mags for background material – OMG, the frocks! – and could have picked minor European royalty as my specialist subject at the end of it. Who knew there were so many of them??
Still, it all seemed a bit glossy and remote, and I was having a hard time getting really inspired until the day I spent an entire afternoon watching royal weddings on YouTube (a dirty job, but someone has to do it). And that’s where I came across the 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson, which seemed to have exactly the right blend of fairy tale and reality that I wanted for Caro and Philippe’s story. On top of which they both looked so happy and so darned nice, how could I help but be inspired? I challenge you to watch their wedding waltz without heaving a great big ‘Aaaaahhhhhh …’ at the end of it. Now, that’s romance.
Of course, this was before last year’s royal wedding here in the UK, which also looked a genuinely happy occasion (in spite of the fact that Prince William and Kate Middleton selfishly chose not to get married in June when Ordinary Girl in a Tiara was out).
Now Caro’s story doesn’t seem quite such a fantasy as it did when I first started writing. Because Mary and Kate both show that ordinary girls really can get to wear tiaras sometimes.
And Liz on her love affair with Italy…
I wanted to write a book set in Italy since I first visited several years ago. The warmth of the people, the scenery, the stones steeped in history, its impossible not to get carried away with the romance of it and it’s hardly surprising that one fan described FLIRTING WITH ITALIAN as “possibly Liz Fielding’s most sensuous romance”.
This story crosses the generations to link a wartime love affair with a present day romance and there was a moment when I was writing the scene where Sarah and Matteo meet in the exact spot where her great-grandfather said goodbye to the woman who had saved his life, who he loved, when time seemed to slip, the two kisses became one and I actually shivered. That’s never happened to me before!’
I love it so much that I’ve just booked a trip to the Italian lake to celebrate a major wedding anniversary this year. Watch out for another Italian hero very soon!
The awards will be announced on 5 March and Jessica and Liz will meet up with their editors for lunch, then photographs and then the awards ceremony in London.
This year two Harlequin Romance novels (branded as Mills & Boon Romance in the UK) were on the shortlist, written by Jessica Hart and yours truly!
Here are all the books that were in the running:
What’s Love Got to Do With It? – Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress, Headline)
All the shortlisted authors were asked to be at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington early for PR and photographs, which was great, because I got to meet up and chat with some of my old friends, such as Kate Hardy, who took the Romance Prize home last year, Jessica Hart and India Grey. I also got to meet fellow finalist, Beth Elliot, but unfortunately Lucy Broadbent, the last contender on the list was unable to make the ceremony.
I was also excited to be sharing a ‘green room’ (how showbizzy is that?) with some of the committee members and authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year —which I think we ought to call a Ronnie (RNY?), by the way, because it’s a bit of a mouthful! Cecilia Ahern looks so fresh-faced and young, she must have been a toddler when she got her first publishing contact. Here are some of the shortlisted authors for the Ronnie (See? It’s catching on…) signing their books.
Lunch itself was lovely and the service was fantastic. An army of waiters seemed to arrive and place the plates on the table simultaneously. I know it seems weird taking pictures of your dinner, but people really want to know! And who am I to deprive them?
The starter was Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Crème Fraiche Caviar. I took a picture, but I was so intent on eating it, I forgot to take one before I dived in. Here is a picture of someone else’s plate who was slightly less piggy than I was (but for pristine picture of the food, you’ll have to visit Kate Hardy’s blog – she obviously has more self-control than I have).
The main course (can you tell I like my food?) was Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas. This too was gorgeous. I loved the sauce. And just enough to fill me up without making me too stuffed, which was just as well, because pudding was just around the corner…
I don’t need to say much about dessert, apart from telling you that it was Bitter Lemon Tart with Raspberry Jelly and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. A picture may say a thousand words. I’ve two to demonstrate how much I enjoyed it:
Unfortunately, our speaker, the debonair and charming Peter Bowles, of To The Manor Born fame, was unable to attend because he was unwell. First up was the Romance Prize and my little heart starting pattering hard as one of the judges. Margaret James, got up on stage and a short video display of all the shortlisted books played on video screens around the room. Margaret then gave a short description of each of the books, outlining what the judges liked most about them. I think she may have said Saying Yes To The Millionaire had “charm in abundance”, and Jessica’s Promoted: To Wife And Mother was described as “a lovely story about second chances and finding love in unexpected places”, but I knew as I heard the judges opinion of one of the other books that it had stolen their hearts. And that book was…
Hired: Mistress For the Billionaire’s Pleasure by India Grey.
I’m very glad I didn’t read it before the ceremony because it sounds fabulous and I would have been too scared to turn up! India, lovely as always, was completely shocked by her win and even though she said she hadn’t prepared a speech, she was warm, funny and completely disarming as she accepted both the Betty Neels rose bowl, which she gets to keep for a year, and a little star-shaped glass trophy, which she gets to keep for ever.
And while India was still reeling with surprise, it was on the next event, a Lifetime Achievment Award to Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Books.
Then, it was time to present the Romantic Novel of the Year (okay, maybe the Ronnie wasn’t really a good nickname…). The shortlist was:
Before the Storm by Judith Lennox (Headline)
East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)
Sophia’s Secret by Susannah Kearsley (Allison & Busby)
Star Gazing by Linda Gilliard (Little Brown)
Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern (Harper Collins)
The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer (Transworld)
And the award went to Julia Gregson for her novel East of the Sun. All the books on the shortlist sounded fabulous. Uh-oh, I can hear my credit card groaning at the thought of another book shopping-spree.
Finally, now all the nail-biting was over, it was time to breathe out and socialise. Here’s me with new M&B Romance author Nina Harrington, who’s first book is out this July:
Congratulations India and Julia, and a big thanks to Fiona for the report and pictures, as well as Kate Hardy, photog extraordinaire!