Exciting news…

I’ve known this for a few weeks now but having the news made official somehow makes it more real:

From Wallflower to Countess has been shortlisted for the RoNA Rose Award!

Yay!

To say I’m excited is an understatement. But I am also very honoured to be listed among so many talented authors, not only those in the RoNA Rose category – which is for the best in category/series and shorter romance – but also those who have been shortlisted in the five other categories.

Here are the five books shortlisted for the RoNA Rose.

2016 Rona Rose

A special mention here for my good friend, Alison May, who is also shortlisted in the RoNA Rose category, and who I met through the Birmingham chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). You can read her blog on being shortlisted here.

The RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) celebrate the best in romantic fiction. They are awarded every year by the RNA and it is fair to say that without the help and support of the RNA and its members, I would not be celebrating today. The generosity of experienced, already-published members in helping, guiding and encouraging new writers is extraordinary.

Until I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2012 I had never even spoken to another writer. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing a novel. But I was willing to learn and – with the help of Regency writers such as Sarah Mallory and Louise Allen – I was eventually offered a publishing contract by Mills & Boon. Until ‘The Call’ in November 2013, I had hardly even dared to dream…

Which brings me neatly to my publishers, Mills & Boon, and the fabulous UK editorial team, who sent me these beautiful flowers today!

image1

The tickets for the RoNAs also arrived in today’s post, so I thought they deserved their place in the photo too 🙂

All I can say is – roll on March 7th, and Awards night. Good luck to everyone who has been shortlisted – it’ll be an evening to remember, whoever wins. For there is another truism about the RNA – we sure know how to party!

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WorcsLitFest: Romantic Novelists’ Panel

This time last week I was in Worcester, at the Worcester Literary Festival. I had never visited Worcester before but there was no time to explore this attractive city, so I have promised myself another visit in the near future. The festival ran from 20-29 June, with the theme this year of the 1st World War, to mark the centenary.

After lunch with my writer friends Morton Gray, Ellie Swoop and O’Dwyer_author we visited the Authors’ Fair at the Guildhall. There were several local authors with stands and we were pleased to meet fellow RNA member Sheryl Browne.

My main purpose for attending the Festival on Saturday, however, was the Romantic Novelists’ Panel which was held in the lovely St Swithun’s Institute. Alison May, a Worcester author and on the far left of the photo below, chaired the panel which comprised, from left to right, three prolific romantic novelists:  Sue Moorcroft, Liz Harris and Christina Courtenay, all of whom – together with Alison – are published by Choc Lit. The three panellists all had copies of their books for sale, and I couldn’t resist buying a book from each of them, and getting them signed! Somehow, I don’t think HMRC would view those as tax deductible. Shame!

WorcsLitFest - Romantic Novelists' Panel

The audience was small, consisting mainly of writers or aspiring writers, with at least one blogger/reviewer (see later!). It proved to be an informative, fun session, with Alison very ably leading the panel through a series of questions before taking questions from the audience. The panel coped admirably with the very real danger of strangulation by the microphone lead and both informed and entertained us with anecdotes from their writing lives, along with interesting snippets about their attempts to get their first publishing deals. On a personal note, I was interested to hear that both Christina and Liz started out with the ambition of writing for Mills and Boon but found that it was not as easy to get accepted as they had thought!

It was fascinating to hear the  different plotting, writing and editing processes discussed. It goes to show there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write a book. If a process works for you, then it is right! I was particularly interested in the discussion about setting. Christina, having lived in Japan, used that knowledge to good effect in some of her books, including The Scarlet Kimono; Sue has invented a fictional village called Middledip – with other surrounding villages and towns –  which she has used in Starting Over, and several other novel; and Liz recounted her efforts to find something unique for her first book, and how she discovered a place called Ladakh in India, which provided the setting for The Road Back.

The session finished with coffee and truly scrumptious cakes; much kudos to whoever made the to-die-for brownies!

It was lovely to meet some of the other members of the audience, including Sarah Broadhurst, who is a prolific blogger and book reviewer (Sarah’s Book Reviews) and who very kindly accepted a copy of Mary and the Marquis to read and review! I was also delighted to meet Georgia Hill and Elizabeth Hanbury, both of them published authors and members of the RNA and both of whom I ‘know’ online via Facebook, but had never met in person.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and I left feeling both uplifted and inspired. I do hope Alison (who put much time and enthusiasm into this event) will have the energy to organise a similar panel next year. I, for one, will be sure to attend.