Hello my lovelies,
those of you who are already my friends on Facebook or following me on Twitter will know that last Thursday evening was one of the highlights of my writing career so far 🙂
The Romantic Novelists Association Summer Party is always a fantastic networking and social event, impeccably organised and brilliantly executed at the Royal Overseas League in London, overlooking Green Park. But this year’s was even more special because my debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love (released as an ebook in April 14 and paperback in June 14 by HarperImpulse) was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for new writers and the presentation was being held that night.
My afternoon started with a few glasses of sparkling Prosecco in the Terrace Bar at the very swanky Le Meridien hotel with four other lovely HarperImpulse authors who were also Joan Hessayon contenders – Kathy Jay, Brigid Coady, Jules Wake and Caroline Roberts – our fantastic editor Charlotte Ledger, fab editorial assistant Charlotte Brabbin and my brave boyfriend, who’d tagged along to support me (and as it turned out, to hold my handbag and drinks as I nattered away)…
After catching up on the gossip, including some HarperCollins triumphs, we hot-footed it to the Summer Party in our heels, where fourteen of the fifteen contenders (Heather Rosser was sorely missed) for the Joan Hessayon award had individual and group shots taken. Despite complaining bitterly about having my photo taken (I do this weird rictus grin and/or close my eyes) I was really pleased with the pictures I was sent afterwards, and have shared them shamelessly – and will again here 🙂
After that I had several glasses of wine, spoke to my sensational aunt Sue Moorcroft, caught up with some old friends including super talented Zara Stoneley, the stunning Romaniac Lucie Wheeler and multi-published Mandy Baggot, and met some great new ones including the very supportive John Jackson and Georgina Troy. Still, it wasn’t long before the Joan Hessayon presentation was called and we all had to go to the front of the room. Unfortunately for the lovely boyfriend, I was mid-flow in conversation and working on two drinks at the time, so when I was called I shoved both drinks at him, put my handbag over his arm, and ran. Given he had a drink of his own to hold and pictures to take, I think it’s a wonder he didn’t drop everything!
I’ve got to admit that standing in front of a crowded room of writers, agents and editors waiting with thirteen other contenders for the result was both nerve-wracking and a thrill. A bit like being drafted up onto stage at school assembly and waiting for the Head teacher’s commendations to be given out (as I whispered to Jules Wake while we shook with nerves). Hearing my name called, stepping forward while my cover and author pic were put up on a screen behind me while my blurb was read out, followed by being presented with a certificate and an unexpected cheque, was absolutely amazing. It was also overwhelmingly gratifying after all the hard work, and very humbling to see the support that we all received.
I did not in my wildest dreams expect to win the award, so wasn’t surprised when it wasn’t me, but I was thrilled to hear Brigid Coady’s name read out for ‘No-one Wants to be Miss Havisham.’ A fellow HarperImpulse author who was in the New Writers Scheme for ten years, she has worked incredibly hard to see her first full length book in print. Her speech was moving, funny and grateful all at the same time and I was very pleased for her. Go, Team HarperImpulse!
After the presentation, Mark took some pictures of me in which I look ridiculously pleased with myself a.k.a slightly drunk and we went downstairs to sit on the balcony and savour the moment with drinks overlooking the gorgeous Green Park.
Then it was back upstairs to talk to my editor Charlotte about my next book Picnics in Hyde Park, before meeting and chatting to some agents (thank you Liz Harris and Sue for the introductions) and finishing the evening off with more wine and laughter. Before I knew it, it was time to go, and Jan Jones was pressing one of the decorative orchids into my hands and bidding us goodnight. Honestly, I could have talked for hours more and didn’t catch up with half the people I meant to, but hope to be at another RNA event soon. Half an hour later, after hobbling through underground stations in my impractical heels, Mark and I were sat on the floor of a train eating Burger King. Not quite the end to the day you’d expect after such a glamorous start, but it doesn’t take a lot to keep my happy…
It was one of the best nights of my writing life and I feel unbelievably lucky to be part of the RNA. They did an amazing job organising the awards and party, and a special thanks goes to Jules Wake and Katrina Power (PR Officers) the Committee and everyone involved with making it so special. Although I didn’t win, I need to say a super-huge thank you to my friends, fellow authors, readers, reviewers and family who have championed me so brilliantly, the HarperImpulse team, Mark for always being there, and Sue for always cheering me on. Dr David Hessayon OBE generously sponsors the award in honour of his late wife, so a big thank you to him too. The RNA press release is here http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/news/entry/brigid_coady_wins_2015_joan_hessayon_award.
The evening has given me fresh confidence and hope, and I have returned to my writing with a renewed energy that makes me grin. I may not have won the Joan Hessayon, but it doesn’t matter. I feel like a winner anyway.
As I told the incredibly nice Jenni Keer when she came up to introduce herself and wish me well, you just have to keep going – keep writing, keep knocking on doors, keep working hard, keep believing… and your dreams can come true.
Until next time, happy reading and writing.
Love, Nikki x