It was conference time again for Romance Writers of Australia! Fun fun stuff, with the always inspiring Barbara Samuel, all time favourite Jo Beverley and new favourite Margie Lawson. I had excellent light bulb moments in Anna Campbell's deep POV workshop, and hung on every word of Jennifer Kloester who has to be one of the foremost authorities on my favourite subject - Georgette Heyer.
But I didn't learn as much as I normally do because I was busy stressing about the fact I was MC at the awards night. Wrap me up and call me scatter brain, but I couldn't string a coherent thought together until Sunday morning, and by then it was frankly too late.
When the conference co-ordinator asked me to emcee my first reaction was unadulterated fear. But along with it was the kind of excitement that I know always means I’m on the right track. That bubbling joy and ‘this is going to be fun’ feeling. I really love the awards night, celebrating everyone’s hard work and the beautiful stories they create. We sit there like a big family that hasn’t been together in a year (probably because we haven’t been together in a year) and talk and laugh and generally have the best time. So if I could be a bigger part of it, then all good.
At the end of the day, emceeing is a really simple job. But boy did I plan my little heart out for it. I’d covered for every little thing that could go wrong. Luckily I didn’t need to use any of it, but having it there made me feel better. And after some jitters at the start where my biggest fear was that I’d succumb to ‘little lamb’ voice, I really did have the time of my life. The bubbling joy and the ‘this is going to be fun’ feeling had not let me down.
There was only one little problem I didn’t foresee. Because I’m so unco with mascara and the more makeup I put on the closer to Krusty the Clown I look, I’d asked the lovely Mia Hawkswell to come do my hair and makeup for me. All good. Looking fantastic, made up to the wazoo and feeling glamorous.
And then my crit partner Carolyn Comito won the Emerald. She’s such a talented writer and her manuscript ‘Her Majesty’s Spy’ is absolutely brilliant. I admire her in so many ways. She’s dedicated, she’s focused and she deserves not only this award but the big fat book contracts that should follow. And when I think about much she deserves this and how her two beautiful children and husband are at home waiting to hear how mummy did – of COURSE I start crying. And all that smoky and glamorous eye makeup starts to puddle up.
Then and editor came and plonked herself down next to my other crit partner Chris (who won the prestigious Romance Writers of NZ Clendon Award last week). Without a pitch or query letter in sight, the editor asked Chris to send in whatever work she has. I cried even more because Chris writes books that wrap around you like a warm blanket and we know that, and we’ve known it for years, but it seems now that everyone else is catching up and her future sparkles like a sparkly thing.
So CC's crying, Chris is crying, Keri's crying, Freya was all teary too so what the hell hope did I have?? So I’m dabbing away at my eyes with my napkin (sorry Langham, there’s one you’ll have to turf) and hoping my voice doesn’t warble.
It was a great night and not because it was the first time I was brave enough to get up in front of a hundred and fifty people and be myself, but as the night Carolyn and Chris made me so proud I almost burst out of my little white bustier.
In my news from the conference, I pitched my book to an editor and was hugely excited/relieved to hear she thought it was an original concept and would love to see some chapters. Woo hoo! Not only that, but she went above and beyond and gave me some ideas on how I could ramp up the conflict. Editors! We loves them! Revisions we loves them less because they make us sweat but if I get a better book from it, i'll roll up my sleeves and do the dirty.