A lot of people know me as the RNA’s resident geek – doing my ‘techie’ stuff at conference and also creating the big screen presentations at the Awards nights and parties.
Last year, I had the fabulous experience of attending the Romance Writers of Australia Conference – not as a worker, but as the finalist for their Romantic Book of The Year Award. The shortlisted book was Flight To Coorah Creek; the first novel of a series set in a remote Australian outback town. As an expat Aussie living in London, it was an amazing feeling to be nominated by readers back in my homeland. Of course, I immediately booked flights back to Australia for the RWA conference.
RWA presents the awards at its conference. Because of the vast distances involved, there is only one national event each year. It’s always held in a five star hotel – which is fabulous, but expensive, especially when combined with an airfare from the other side of the planet. But there was no way I was going to miss it. Even the delayed flight, lost luggage and an unexpected stop in an airport about 1700 miles from our destination was not enough to deter me.
Apart from the five star hotel, the RWA conference is much like the RNA conference – but bigger. I had a lovely couple of days meeting with authors and publishers and RWA members. There was the same community feel we all love about our RNA events – and the RWA welcomed me with open arms. The gala awards dinner was in the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel, which holds more than 1,000 people. And there I was, with my book, up on a big screen presentation not that very different to the one I do each year for the RNA awards. It was such a thrill. I didn’t win – but as a shortlisted author, I received a lovely silver pin.
I made my way home to London (my luggage came with me this time) to find that I had been shortlisted for another award – this time in the US. It was the Aspen Gold Reader’s Choice Award conducted by the Denver chapter of the Romance Writers of America. The American RWA, as we all know, has many thousand members, so a shortlisting for a chapter award is really an achievement- and for an English author writing books set in Australia… well, I was over the moon.
I couldn’t attend the ceremony… I was teaching that weekend at a tutor led writing retreat here in the UK (a double header with the brilliant Alison May). At the retreat, everyone raised a glass to wish me luck. Perhaps it worked. The day after I got home, I received an email to tell me I had won my category. I actually tied for the win with an author who has TWICE been on the RITA award shortlist. Wow! I was quite beside myself over that! A few days later, I received the award in the snail mail, and that plaque now hangs proudly in my office. We all know how hard the US market is to break, and an award like this for a writer from England is rare – even more so when the book is set in Australia. It just goes to show that readers cannot be so easily categorised or predicted … and are always happy to enjoy a the right book, whatever its origin.
That was the highlight of a hugely busy year for me… and here’s hoping 2016 will be just as much fun!
BTW… After the success of last year’s tutor led retreat (and I don’t just mean that I won the award that weekend), I’m joining forces with Alison May again for two retreats this year: Developing Your Novel in May and Advanced Novel Writing in October. You can find out more about there on my website here : http://janetgover.com/?page_id=1891
And who knows – with luck maybe we’ll find another reason to celebrate that weekend too – if not for me, maybe for someone else.
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What a wonderful year you’ve had, Janet. Here’s wishing you as much success in 2016 and into the future.
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