I LOVE the Romance Writers of Australia conference every August. It’s a great chance to touch base with wonderful people I only see once in a blue moon and to meet new wonderful new people (who I then only see once in a blue moon – sigh!).
A special treat this year was that we were in my favorite hotel in Australia, the Langham in Melbourne. This place puts the ‘L’ into ‘luxury’ unlike the ‘ell’ into ‘ellhole’ which describes some other places I’ve stayed in over the years!
Another special treat was that our keynote speaker was Barbara Samuel/Ruth Wind who has long been one of the writers I most admire. I love her books – they’re true. You get that feeling of the texture and richness of real life and emotion when you read her.
Barbara gave the whole day Friday workshop on keeping inspiration alive and it was fantastic. Then even better, I ended up having a chance to talk to her and she’s just as warm and witty and wise as I thought she’d be. OK, I know I sound like a fangirl…
The cocktail party was a paranormal fest – the theme was One Enchanted Century and it celebrated Mills & Boon’s centenary which falls this year. The room was heaving with witches and vampires and things that go bump in the night.
The real business started on Saturday morning with a full two-day program of workshops and plenary sessions. I ran a workshop on deep point of view and I’d like to thank everyone who came to that – you were a wonderful crowd! I also really enjoy the meet the author sessions. They’re such fun although I’m sure I’m hitting a stage where most people HAVE met me!
Saturday night was the gala dinner and awards ceremony. It’s a great excuse to get dressed up and let your hair down. Or get dressed down and let your hair up – it’s your decision, really. Sadly, no Romantic Book of the Year for me, but I’d like to congratulate the winners Kimberley Freeman who won the long category for her book Duet and Anne Oliver who won the short category for her book One Night Before Marriage. This is a huge achievement for Anne, who won last year too with Behind Closed Doors, her debut for Harlequin. So that’s two out of two for her. Brava, Ms. Oliver!
I also presented the inaugural Anna Campbell Award to a very worth recipient Carolyn Comito for her Emerald-winning manuscript Her Majesty’s Spy. This involves a check for $200 and a critique of a partial which I give to the historical manuscript that places highest in our equivalent of the Golden Heart contest, the Emerald Award. Congratulations to Carolyn. I’m sure she’s got a stellar career ahead of her!
And speaking of awards, the green monster was not forgotten. It won best cover in the long category at the conference! I’m not surprised. That’s a gorgeous cover, even if I do say so myself!
One of the things I love about the conference is it gives us all a chance to celebrate each other’s achievements. It’s wonderful to congratulate people who have sold during the year. Particularly exciting this year was that Golden Heart finalist Tracey O’Hara heard from Avon/Eos in New York on Saturday morning that she got a three-book deal for her dark paranormal series. Yay!
So the conference ended for another year with a lot of people saying it was their favorite conference ever. I think it would definitely be one of mine! Thank you to the organizing committee who ran yourselves ragged to make sure we had a wonderful get-together. Now I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year in Brisbane!