Monday, July 23, 2007

Dallas photos

I finally found the lead to download photos from my camera...

A batty gathering on the Sunday morning - L to R, Michele, Pam, moi, Tiana and Theresa.

The awards night - Theresa, me, and the gorgeous Melanie Scott, double GH finalist.

Me with Michele, Tiana and Theresa.

Friday, July 20, 2007

RWA Dallas report

I started writing this post a couple of days ago, but then Blogger seemed to be having a few conniptions and wouldn't save it.

My week in Dallas was a wonderful, amazing time, and I was already glad I went long before I won the Golden Heart. Spending days immersed in the romance genre with people who respect it, love it, read it and write it was inspiring.

Highlights and great memories:

Monday - meeting Penni from the e-Harlequin boards, who collected me from my hotel and showed Wayne Jordan from Barbados and I around Fort Worth. It was a very pleasant day, in great company, and I got to see Texas Longhorn cattle, as a bonus :-)

Monday evening - meeting Tiana, an online friend from e-Harlequin's BatCave, and having dinner with her. Then meeting my Australian roommate for Monday and Tuesday nights - Joanne. I hadn't met Joane before, but we all clicked and the three of us stayed up too late, talking!

Tuesday - Tiana kindly took Joanne and I shopping to the huge Grapevine Mall. I didn't spend heaps of money, but it was fun to see all the different shops, clothes and other items and to spend time with Tiana and Joanne. We did find a sparkly top to wear with my black skirt for the Awards night, so that was something I could stop worrying about.

Wednesday - over to the conference hotel, the Hyatt. We arrived late morning, and the crowds were starting to gather, a definite hum of excitement in the air. I met up with my roommate, Michele, and Theresa, another online friend. It's such a buzz to finally get together with people I've 'known' for ages. I braved the crowds of the literacy signing for a while, but being determined not to collect copious quantities of books (due to luggage restrictions and too-high postage costs), I restrained myself to only buying two books - Anne Stuart's Ice Blue and one from Wayne Jordan.

Thursday the conference program started in earnest. With the PRO retreat, Golden Heart and Golden Network activities, and an agent and editor appointment, my diary already had a fair few entries in it, and as I didn't want to overload myself too much and produce a three-day migraine, I gave myself free-time gaps as well. So, there was a lot I didn't get to, but I did benefit greatly from the things I attended - and I was able to spend time with Tiana, Joanne, Michelle and Theresa, AND read Ice Blue (which I thought was the best of the series; I felt the characters were better developed, suited to each other, and the heroine wasn't TSTL).

Friday morning was my agent pitch, and that went quite well despite my nerves. I came away with a request for a partial and a very positive impression of her and the agency, so I'm definitely hoping that she will like what she reads and offers representation. My editor pitch also went well, resulting in a request for a partial. (This weekend I will finalise the long synopsis that the agent asked for, do the cover letters and get everything ready to post express post on Monday.)

Saturday was a great day - a wonderful workshop in the afternoon with Barbara Samuel, the rehearsal for the GH Awards, enjoyable dinner with Theresa and her roommate, Adrienne, and then the big Awards ceremony.

I was quietly excited about the Awards, and only a little nervous. Being a finalist was such a wonderful thing, a brilliant rich cake that was a fantastic experience and prize in itself. Everyone who saw the 'GH Finalist' ribbon on my name tag was congratulatory and encouraging, sharing the excitement, and the group of GH finalists that I got together with a number of times during the conference were an amazing, warm, and fantastically friendly and supportive group, so I was on a high from all of that. There'd been a quiet voice in my head a few times in the weeks proceeding that every now and then would say, 'you're going to win', but then another practical, logical voice would reply, 'there are 8 finalists, any one of them could win, and they all deserve it and being a finalist is just brilliant, anyway.' (Yes, I'm a writer. There are always lots of conversations going on in my head :-) )

I'd asked Theresa to be my guest in the reserved area - we've been online friends for a while, and share many things in common. We arranged to sit with Melanie Scott and Keri Arthur - Mel was the other Australian GH finalist, and a double finalist, and she and Keri were among the first Australian romance writers I'd met, back in 2004, at a mini-conference in Canberra, so it was special to share the occasion with them.

All the GH finalists looked gorgeous - beautiful formal dresses, sparkling eyes, and everyone genuinely wishing each other well. I was proud to be part of such a generous group. I get emotional, and when the lights went down and the ceremony started, I was teary and trying to keep from sniffling with the joy of it all. When Theresa turned to me and told me how proud she was of me finalling, and how honoured she was to be sharing this with me, it was a struggle not to have full-on waterworks. (The voice that said, 'you know your face and nose go all red and blotchy when you cry' helped :-) )

There were a few glitches in the order of the slides and announcements for the first couple of GH categories, which was a bit of a bummer and must have stretched the nerves further of those in the early categories. We held our breaths and kept our fingers crossed for Mel in her two categories, but someone else won both. Mel's going great places, though, I'm sure, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we get to drink champagne to a book sale at the RWAus conference next month.

My category was second last, and I can't really describe how I felt by then - excitement, moved by the emotion of the occasion, trying not to cry when each of the finalist's slides went up, because they were all gorgeous and deserved every success. There was a pause while Stephanie Bond, the presenter for the award, opened the envelope, and I'm not sure that I consciously thought anything during that time. I think I did breathe, though - a long, deep breath. Then she said, Falling into Darkness, and I knew I'd won. I stood up, and heard the applause and the cheers, but I was ready to cry again, and I couldn't hug my friends right then, because if I had I knew I'd break out in tears. I remember walking carefully to the stage, conscious of not tripping up the steps in long skirt and high heels, and Stephanie handed me the envelope and the box with the heart pendant. I hadn't written down a speech or notes, but I knew who I wanted to acknowledge: my parents, for showing through 50 years of marriage that love based on a firm foundation of respect and commitment can achieve wonderful things; Gordon, for supporting me to come to Dallas, despite the expense; all the many people in RWA, RWAus, for their support, friendship and encouragement on the writing journey; all the people who had made me feel welcome and among friends at the conference, and congratulated me when they saw the GH finalist ribbon; and my online writing group - I said something along the lines of 'they can be a bit batty at times, but there couldn't be a more supportive, wonderful group of people.'

Afterwards, there were many hugs, a few more tears, lots of smiles and grinning, photos, a glass of wine, dessert, and general celebrations. Later we went up to Joanne's room so I could use her computer to email my family, and I was able to talk to my sister using skype, which was fantastic. (Gordon was off bushwalking, so I couldn't talk to him straight away, although I did email him.)

It was an amazing experience, wonderful and exciting and humbling and inspiring. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way, and who has cheered and celebrated with me. I still look at the card that Stephanie read the announcement from, and get a shiver of excitement. And if some of the above isn't coherent, it's because it's all still too new and amazing to describe in mere words!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Golden Heart

I'm finally home again, after all the excitement of the RWA Conference in Dallas and the absolute, amazing thrill of winning the Golden Heart award for best romantic suspense manuscript.

I'm very, very tired though, and am having trouble locating a functioning braincell, so please excuse this short post! I'll write more later, but in the meantime, my friend Theresa was with me at the awards, and took some photos - you can see them on her blog.

Super congrats also to fellow Australian, Barbara Hannay, who won a RITA Award.

It's time for me to take my jetlagged brain and body off to a warm, cosy bed. I have to go to work tomorrow, so I need a solid night of sleep!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Radio interview online

My interview for ABC Radio National's Bush Telegraph went well this morning - although I was nervous about it because I knew many of my online friends were listening in!

If anyone wants to listen to it, the audio file of the program is now available. It's in the program for Friday 6th July. Click on the audio links to the right to either listen via streaming or download the file. I'm about 26 mins into the program. (The audio files are only online for about two weeks.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flight reading

I leave on Saturday just before midday, and by the time I get to Dallas, about 48 hours will have elapsed. Not all of that will be on planes; I have almost 24 hours in Sydney, and 4 hours at San Francisco.

However, there's plenty of reading time ahead. I don't want to take too many books, for luggage space and weight reasons, so I've selected from the TBR pile:

Nora Roberts - Northern Lights
Rita Herron - Last Kiss Goodbye
Stephanie Laurens - The Perfect Lover
Carla Neggers - Abandon

Those should keep me entertained for a reasonable amount of the trip, particularly since I'm hoping to sleep for hours on the Sydney to San Francisco segment.

Two more sleeps...

...before I leave home to head to Dallas. I'm even vaguely organised; I haven't actually started packing the suitcase yet, but it's out from under the spare bed, dusted, and I've been stacking clothes that I'm going to take on the bed, ready to be packed.

The DH solved a couple of technical problems for me last night, so now I can charge my iPod without the laptop, and I have an additional, large memory card for the camera, so I don't need to take the laptop with me. I don't think I'll have much time for writing, anyway, and I'm assuming I'll be able to find an internet cafe or similar to check my email occasionally, so it will be a relief not to have to lug the laptop around and worry about it's safety. Given that I've developed a very painful right shoulder, I sure won't miss the extra weight.

I just did a quick calculation, and I suspect that I land at San Francisco at about 3am, body time. I'm planning to sleep as much as I can on the plane, but I'm not looking forward to that part - no airport is fun when the brain thinks it's the wee small hours of the morning! Ahh, the joys of travelling ;-)