Friday, May 19

The RNA Summer Party, Westminster

Last night about 150 people convened at the highly gorgeous Library of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster, London, for the Summer Party of the Romantic Novelists Association, during which the winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers Award was announced.

Congratulations go to Fiona Harper for winning the award for her forthcoming Mills & Boon Tender Romance, The Blind-Date Marriage (retitled, out later this year)! Fiona seemed completely gobsmacked but still delivered a lovely and completely coherent winner's speech!

Nell's book certainly sounded like it was a close contender, with a glowing review from the judges, and all the other nominees also garnered very positive reviews. For the record, the shortlist was as follows:

Unfortunately, 2 of the nominees could not make it to the party, but here's a photo of those who were there, followed by a couple of other pics:

From left: Fiona and Nell - apologies, but I'm not sure who's who of the other nominees

Nell and I -- a picture in which Nell looks absolutely lovely and I look like like I'm in the middle of a rather nice dream!

Fiona and I -- look at me, I'm standing with an award winner!

Carol from's Mouse & Pen board, Nell, and myself

I really enjoyed myself at the party. It was great to spend more time with Nell (and to finally meet her hubby!) and Bloke and I met up with them before the party at their swanky hotel beforehand to have a drink. I was so proud of Nell for her achievement in being up for the award. She has come so far in the last year and this is all down to her talent at (more than one style of) romance writing, her dedication, her tireless hard work and perseverance and her determination to achieve her dream. Today, the RNA New Writers Award -- tomorrow, the WORLD!

I also loved meeting some of the guys I chat with on the boards. On message boards you get to meet people and after a while, you can chat like friends, but usually only to that extent that people who have never met in real-life can. Now that I have actually got to know some of my fellow "online" writers in person, I feel like there's a new level to our web-based chats and celebrations. It's a lovely feeling.

The other lovely feeling I have as a result of the party is the absolute knowledge that writing romance is what I want to do. Not that I had doubts before the party -- in fact, after I joined the RNA in January I really felt like I'd ascended a level in my writing. I was serious -- I was taking a step, making a commitment. I suppose the fact that I finished my book that same month also contributed. But after last night, I *know* this is my dream, and I really want to get there.

As we stood and chatted in the library, glasses in hand, I took a few moments to simply look around me. Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Joanna Maitland, Sophie Weston -- huge names in the romance fiction world. Mills & Boon editors galore, whose names I recognized from the guidelines pages on, and who I would look at and think "Jeez, these are the people who open our submissions and decide whether we'll make it on to their shelves or not". Writers whose names I recognized from email newsgroups, online message boards, blogs, snippets of news in the RNA newsletters... Once or twice it became an overwhelming feeling, but immediately afterwards it became determination, drive, will -- whatever you want to call it.

This is what I want to do, and I will try my hardest.


Phillipa said...

Hi Jess..lovely pics. I am only just recovering.

Michelle Styles said...

Lovely picture and even lovelier summing up Jess. And I know exactly what you mean about feeling intimidated, but they are really just people after all.

Nell Dixon said...

(((Jess))) It was a fabulous night, and it was so lovely to spend time with you and to meet the M&P gang. It is so inspiring to be other people who really 'get' what it is you want to do.

Julie Cohen said...

Thank you for posting pics Jess! I'm glad it was such an inspiring night for you!