RoNAs – Result!

Monday was the Big Day – the annual RNA Awards now called the RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) – and as you may have heard already once or twice (or maybe more?), Choc Lit had a triumphant afternoon!

Kate, Christina and Jane

Kate, Christina and Jane

Jane Lovering won the Romantic Comedy category with Please Don’t Stop the Music, Christina Courtenay won the Historical Romantic novel category with Highland Storms and Kate Johnson only just missed out in the Contemporary novel category with her wonderful The Untied Kingdom.  As she lost to Katie Fforde, the RNA’s lovely President, we didn’t mind too much, and two out of three is a pretty good ratio any day!  And as Peter James, the chairman of the Crimewriters’ Association said before he handed out the prizes, all the shortlistees were winners – we totally agree with that.

Rather than boring you with endless trumpet-blowing though, we thought we’d give you Jane’s, Christina’s and Kate’s take on some other aspects of the awards ceremony.  Here is what they had to say and please let us know if you agree with them:-

awjane-with-awardsmallThere were some fabulous outfits on display, which was your favourite?

Jane – Well I was lusting ever so slightly over Katie Fforde’s full-length coat/dress thing.  I’d have looked like a bag of elderly onions in it, but she looked gorgeous.

Kate – There were so many lovely outfits, it’s hard to choose! Christina’s own lovely mauve jacket and boots – ooh, those gorgeous boots! – probably take the prize for me. Marina Fiorato gets Best Hair, Katie Fforde wins Best Cape, and of course our host, Jane Wenham Jones, for her platinum frock, gets Best Dress.

Christina – I was very taken with Jean Fullerton’s emerald green suit as I love bright colours, but I also coveted Liz Fenwick’s fabulous purple jacket.

awchristina-with-awardsmallAnd then there are the shoes – not counting your own, which ones did you wish you’d been wearing?

Jane – Um.  Is it wrong of me to say that I wasn’t looking at people’s feet?  Although, Christina, I did notice your rather lovely lilac boots…

Kate – I’m not sucking up here, but when I invited my mum her first thought was which shoes to wear. I covet her gold sandals terribly; it’s probably just as well we don’t take the same size!

Christina – My feet wished they’d been wearing Jane’s boots, but Bex Leith’s black shoes were wonderful so I’d probably have thrown caution to the wind and picked those.

The ‘bubbly’ was flowing, do you prefer it pink or normal?

Jane – As long as it keeps flowing I am really not bothered. Give it fizz and keep it coming!

Kate – Well, if there’s bubbly going I’m not picky about the colour. Although I will say that the first time I tasted Bollinger was the first time I “got” champagne!

Christina – Neither – hate the stuff!  Unless you put peach juice or Kir in to make it ultra sweet.

Which was your favourite canape?

Jane – I didn’t eat any.  I was too terrified and then too shocked.  And ever so slightly too busy drinking…

Kate – I’m not large on the canapés, being that it’s often hard to tell whats in them (I don’t eat meat or shellfish). But the salmon ones were nice. And matched the champagne.

Christina – Salmon, definitely, although I was in such a state of shock I can’t actually tell you what the others were!

awardauthorssmallMost amusing comment of the afternoon (either in a speech or normal conversation)?

Jane – Hazel Osmond and I had a discussion about weeing in handbags in extremis. It amused us and probably disgusted onlookers, particularly when I did the actions.  Not the real actions, I hasten to add.  Although it was a long way to the toilets and I feel that no-one would have blamed me.  Except Hazel, obviously.

Kate – Should I drop Jane in it for her split crotch/handbag comments? [Looks like she’d done it herself, Kate!] No, okay. I heard someone say that the Ladies bathroom was bigger than the Blue Banana. (It was. It really was.)

Christina – The whole of Peter James’s speech was great, but I can’t recall the specifics – fortunately Emma Lee Potter has mentioned it on her blog.

Finally, we heard Kate’s hero Harker mentioned quite a few times during the event (in fact, if there had been a ‘best hero’ award, we reckon he would have won it hands down!) – who was your favourite hero out of the ones in the shortlisted books?  (If you can’t choose, we’ll allow you two)

Jane –Nope, sorry, I refuse to acknowledge that any hero exists except for Harker.  Apart from maybe Gus, from Katie Fforde’s Summer of Love.  He’s cute too.  And my Ben… in fact, all of them are pretty phwoooaaar-worthy, now I come to think of it.

Kate – Aw, yes, Harker is grumpy he didn’t win anything. He’s not used to losing: where he comes from you win, or you die. I do recall Jan Jones’ Hugo from The Kydd Inheritance being rather heroic when it came to highwaymen, and of course, the lovely Brice Kinross in all his intelligent, brave, kind and handsome glory. Now … which book was he from, Christina?

Christina – Apart from Harker?  Well, Ben in Please Don’t Stop the Music is definitely my kind of guy – former rock star, slightly moody, handsome in a grungy kind of way.  And I loved Riccardo in Marina Fiorato’s Daughter of Siena – wow, gorgeous Italian with an amazing sense of honour, and also very kind and considerate!

So there you have it, our brief take on the RoNAs.  Now comes a nail-biting wait to see who of the five category winners will take home the overall “Romantic Novel of the Year” title – if you’d like to help vote for any of them, please go to the Awards Website.

Choc-Liteers at the RNA Conference

Jane

Jane

The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference took place this past weekend at Caerleon in Wales and almost all the Choc Lit authors were there. As we’re normally spread far and wide across the UK, it was great

Margaret

Margaret

to have a chance to catch up. Here are photos of some of us (plus a rather unusual conference attendee who couldn’t find his name badge!) – look out for more photos later in the week of us all dressed in our best party outfits for the Saturday night gala dinner!

A conference isn’t just a social occasion of course.  There were talks, panels and workshops and even a dancing lesson which proved interesting to say the least!

Squizzey

Squizzey

As it was Regency dancing, it took some getting used to and there were quite a few left feet in evidence 🙂  However, by the end of it we had (more or less) managed to get the hang of “Miss Poultney’s Delight” and felt we had more of an insight into the opportunities for flirting this kind of dancing afforded.

Christine

Christine

We were also inspired by such wonderful authors as Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Elizabeth Chadwick, given insights into the publishing industry today (and in the near future) by editors and agents, as well as tips on writing and promotion. It was all food for thought and extremely helpful. The collective buzz was phenomenal and I think most of us came away fizzing with enthusiasm.

Can’t wait to go again next year!

Please come back on Wednesday to see who this week’s Choccie Hottie might be and also for those gala dinner photos!

Evonne and Christina

Evonne and Christina

Here’s one gala dinner photo for now – more to follow soon:-

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Fifty Fabulous Years of the RNA – Christina Courtenay reports

suemAs I’ve mentioned before, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and there have been all sorts of celebrations throughout the year. Yesterday, Sue Moorcroft and I had the pleasure of attending a special lunch at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, which was the launch party for a book of recollections about the RNA called “Fabulous at Fifty”. This has been brilliantly put together by the RNA’s current President, Diane Pearson, and Jenny Haddon, former RNA Chairman.

Starting in 1960, when the RNA was founded, the book contains among other things many facts from the RNA archives, but also first-hand memories and anecdotes from early members. It promises to be a very entertaining read and the editors told us that they might be “skating on very thin ice” with some of the recollections, which sounded fascinating!

The RAF Club was a wonderful venue for a lunch and the guests gathered in the downstairs bar for a glass of welcoming champagne first of all. The walls there were covered on all sides by oil paintings of fighter planes with some very dramatic scenes indeed. I’m no expert, but I believe there were fabatfifty21Spitfires, Tiger Moths and all sorts of others. Even the stained glass window by the back staircase had airplanes on it!

rafclubLunch was held in a lovely room on the first floor, complete with ornate cornicing and gold candles (in honour of the occasion). RNA Chairman Katie Fforde made a speech where she thanked all the contributors and everyone else who had helped put the book together. After that, as always at RNA events, the place was buzzing with conversation and a good time was had by all.

Trade Winds launched!

partypic7

The time has come at last – the official publication day of Trade Winds is this week!

As you can imagine, I’m very excited about it and in honour of this momentous occasion (well, momentous for me anyway!), we held a small celebration here in London last week.


Christina with RNA Chairman Katie Fforde

Christina with RNA Chairman Katie Fforde

The friends who joined me for pink champagne and chocolate very kindly bought copies of my novel and listened to my rather rambling (but mercifully short) thank you speech.

Sue Moorcroft, Victoria Connelly and Giselle Green

Sue Moorcroft, Victoria Connelly and Giselle Green

As I told them, the publication of Trade Winds is a dream come true for me and although it all felt slightly surreal, I enjoyed the evening immensely. I hope everyone else did too!

To further celebrate the launch of Trade Winds, I’m holding a small competition over at www.christinacourtenay.com – it’s all about delicious Choc Lit heroes!

(For more information, please click here)