#ConferenceReport: RNA Summer Party 2017

Two of our editors, Christy Kate McKenzie and Ali Williams, had press passes to this year's RNA Summer Party, and Christy's intent on sharing the fun with all of you!

 

On May 18th, I had the absolute thrill of joining PHS Editor, Ali Williams, to the RNA Summer Party.

 

Since joining the RNA through the New Writer’s Scheme this year, I have been desperate to attend an event, but it isn’t always easy to get all the way down to London (I live in the North West). Of course, there is no better excuse to justify the trip than attending as a member of the press for PHS?

 

It was settled. I boarded a train just after 2 in my brand new frock (with some killer heels in my bag), and set off to meet up with Ali for a night of fun and fanfare with the members of the RNA. Now, I must confess that I was a bit terrified. Being new to PHS, I have only met one time with the Ali and a handful of PHS contributors at an afternoon tea. It was what I would consider to be an A-List afternoon tea, with authors who I had long idolise, and there were only 4 authors there and I was struggling not to become a giddy fan girl—how was I supposed to survive in a room FULL of my brand of celebrities?

 

I think I did okay, but I do admit to being a complete mess when I ended up face to face with RNA President and author extraordinaire, Katie Fforde. I did speak to her, but I was too star struck to introduce myself (embarrassing!). Luckily, Katie was ready to rush off and start the evenings presentations, so I didn’t get a chance to make too much of a fool of myself.

 

After welcoming everyone one to the event, Katie started by thanking the RNA Chair, Eileen Ramsay, for her contributions. Due to a family move, Eileen will be stepping down from her role. While is it sad to see Eileen go, Katie was pleased to announce that Nicola Cornick would be taking up the role. Nicola will have big shoes to fill, but is ready for the challenge. We at PHS thank Eileen for her service and wish Nicola luck in her new role.

Next on the agenda was to welcome last year’s recipient of the Joan Hessayon Award, Clare Harvey. In 2016, Clare won the Joan Hessayon Award for her novel The Gunner Girl. She gave a lovely speech about how winning the award changed her focus on writing and has helped her develop her career—and she delighted the crowd by confessing that she used the award to bring in a cleaner so she could spend more time writing—what writer hasn’t dreamed of doing just that?

 

After Clare’s speech, the nominees for the 2017 Joan Hessayon Award were formally announced. They included Victoria Cornwall for The Thief’s Daughter, Kate Field for The Magic of Ramblings, Terri Fleming for Perception, Jen Gilroy for The Cottage at Firefly Lake, Morton S, Gray for The Girl on The Beach, Vivien Hampshire for How to Win Back Your Husband, April Hardy for Sitting Pretty, Emily Kerr for Who Does He Think He Is?, Abbey MacMunn for Touched, Arabella Sheen for Castell’s Passion, and Lynda Stacey for House of Secrets.

 

 

After lovely feedback and praise for each book, the winner was announced to be Kate Field for The Magic of Ramblings. Kate was both delighted and shocked at the announcement and delivered a humble acceptance speech.

 

With the formalities finished, it was time to party. The event was beautifully planned, from the glass of bubbly to the gorgeous canapés and the time allotted for mingling allowed Ali and myself to meet new people (I got to meet Flo Nicoll, Senior Editor at Harlequin!!), catch up with old friends and PHS contributors (Heidi Rice, Virginia Heath, Katherine Garbera, Fiona Harper… too many to name, really), and make new friends (this shout out is to you, Liam Livings!).  It really was a brilliant atmosphere and such a great opportunity for an aspiring author, like myself to find authors who live close to me (Susie Heath - aka Zara Stoneley - I can’t wait to meet up).

 

I truly cannot thank the Romance Novelists Association enough for such a wonderful event, even if I did have to run out a bit early, Cinderella-style to make the last train home. As for the team here at PHS, we would like to congratulate all of the Joan Hessayon Award nominees for being shortlisted—what an honour—and especially to Kate Field. We can’t wait to see where your award will lead you in the coming year!

 

It was brilliant spending an evening with authors, editors, agents, and fans of romance, and we cannot wait until the next event. Speaking of, who’s heading to conference? Oh, and my killer heels? They didn’t make it to the end of the night (in my defence, they were really high), but they were praised through the night and even photographed—talk about a dream come true…

 

Christy is an aspiring author, fairy tale fanatic, peanut butter connoisseur, and wannabe mermaid.  For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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