Well, hello there!
What a weekend it has been. I attended the Festival of Romance this past weekend at Hunton Park, Watford, and I must say, I had the best time. The weekend was filled with workshops, talks, chocolate tasting, an authors fashion show, one – to – one appointments with Total E-bound and Mills & Boon, a topless man serving delicious cupcakes (yes, you heard me right), small group discussions with ChocLit and Jane Judd Agency, all day book fairs, quiz’s, book signing’s, swimming club, free gifts, an interview with bestselling author Carole Matthews, wonderful food, even better company and a fantastic charity ball for the CHF and GUCH (two children’s heart charities.)
I’m tired just reading about all the activities!
It is impossible to write about every single talk, workshop etc, without taking it on for pages and pages. So, I shall write about a select few. But I will say that everything I attended was absolutely fantastic.
On the Friday evening, I attended the judges dinner for the awards that were going to be presented on the Saturday evening at the Have a Heart Ball.
|L-R: Liz C, Henri, Jenny, Liz H, Sarah, Lesley, Me, Elaine, Barbara|
I was extremely honored to have been part of the panel of judges. Myself, and the other 9 judges (Ouida was unfortunately unable to make it) had the tough job of reading all the books entered and whittling them down to an exceptional shortlist of 5 in each category. Those shortlisted were in my previous blog, here. After we shortlisted the books, all 10 of us had to read all 10 books and then come to a decision over who would win both awards. This was such a difficult job; all the shortlisted books had their own reasons for why they were so great. After a lovely dinner, wine, a passionate debate and some big speeches from all of us, 3 hours later we had agreed on the winners:
Both absolutely fantastic books and well deserved winners. Well done ladies!
Another award that was announced at the ball was the New Talent Award, for which I entered my prologue. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky winners, however, I was so incredibly pleased for those who did win. All of them such lovely people and well deserved winners, also. So big congratulations to the winner Henri Gyland and those who came 2nd, 3rd and highly commended, Rosemary Dunn ,Sarah Callejo and Debbie White.
The first talk I attended on the Saturday was Novel Openings. It was a great insight to what people thought made a great opening for a novel. We all know how important it is to grab your reader from the word go, so hearing a number of extremely talented authors read their opening paragraphs was brilliant.
I then attended a small group discussion, Chat with ChocLit. This was a brilliant session and I thoroughly enjoyed telling everyone about my novel and seeing if it was something that would be suitable for that particular publisher. Lyn Vernham (ChocLit) told us all a little about ChocLit, the submission process and the Tasting Panel (which I am very proud to be part of.) Another Tasting Panel member, Liz Crump, was also present and it was nice for us to be able to have a little input to the session and tell the others about what we do and what we like in a read. So I hope it was helpful to them!
The Authors fashion show was great. This was a chance for 6 authors to dress as characters from their books and tell us all a little bit about their stories.
|Authors fashion show (my pic was blurry, so I borrowed this one from Liz Crump.|
The evening ball was lovely. The food was absolutely delicious and I enjoyed being able to ‘table hop’ and speak to some people who I hadn’t managed to chat to throughout the day or the previous day. There was a raffle, an unexpected auction and a Jazz band. When the ball came to a close, a number of us ended up in the bar for a further couple of hours and enjoyed some general chatter, two entertaining songs (thanks to Mandy Baggot and Laura James) and a birthday celebration for Celia Anderson.
|Shortlist for Best Historical Romance
L-R: Jean, Charlotte, Christina, Annie, Jan
|Shortlist for Best Romantic Read
L-R: Carole, Fiona, Sue, Talli, Juliet
It still amazes me how incredibly supportive and full of encouragement writer’s in general are. Attending events like this one is a real pick up when you are feeling stressed with your writing. I left on Sunday, feeling confident that my book is not absolute toot!
Well, I hope it isn’t anyway!
Thanks to Kate Allen, Jenny Barden and everyone else involved in making such a fantastic event. I cannot wait for next year.