I’ve spent the weekend at the Festival of Romance at Hunton Park, Hertfordshire, England. It was a GREAT event. I really enjoyed it. There were loads of interesting panels and debates and the venue was lovely. Including the food. (Am feeling hungry again just thinking about it …)
I participated in several ways. I ran a workshop on Friday morning, about writing romance. As my niece, Nikki Goodman, was present, I chose her as my beautiful assistant and got her up to talk about her hero, Alex, in her WIP, The Lost Weekend. Then the audience made suggestions for the heroine who would … well, I was going to say ‘suit him’, but I mean ‘give him headaches and conflict and generally kick his butt if he got too much above himself’. Nikki has done this pretty well, herself, in her heroine Charley, and the audience suggested heroine traits that coincided, to a large degree. We talked out the conflicts, too, and then put together a few of the other elements we felt were needed, like secondary characters, setting … And someone suggested plot. Good idea!
I MC’d a charity quiz to raise money for children and teenagers with congenital heart disease; took part in a panels about chick lit and on novel openings and made a fool of myself by dressing as a waitress for the authors’ fashion show, where I was outclassed by a Victorian, a Japanese lady in fabulous kimono, Marilyn Munroe, a Regency miss and a chicken. But it was a lot of fun. And I thoroughly enjoyed the keynote interview with Carole Matthews and the debate on men and romantic fiction.
The Have a Heart Ball was the highlight of the weekend, for me. The food was great, the marquee grand and the company wonderful. And then came the Awards:
The Best Romantic Read Award
The Best Historical Read Award
The New Talent Award
I had been shortlisted for the Best Romantic Read Award, with Love & Freedom, but seeing the formidable shortlist, of Carole Matthews, Fiona Harper, Talli Roland and Juliet Archer I was literally shocked speechless to win! It was one of those dreamlike moments of utter joy. And the Award itself is so gorgeous and pretty. It’s one that I get to keep, so it will forever grace my home, and remind me of one of those fabulous dream-come-true moments when Laura from sponsors Total E Bound, opened the envelope and read out my name.
That so many friends, both old and new, including Lyn from Choc Lit, were there to share in my joy, doubled it.
Jean Fullerton won the Best Historical Read and Henriette Gyland the New Talent Award.
And then, some of us stayed in the bar until one. Some singing took place (thanks to Laura James and Mandy Baggot).