Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Writer's World - Romance Writers of Australia Conference - Annie West

View from conference hotel
August is conference time if you're a romance writer in Australia or New Zealand. Romance Writers of Australia has its conference mid month and the RW New Zealand is generally the weekend later. So if you've been waiting on something from any of your favourite Down Under authors, the chances are they've been a bit distracted because of one or both conferences.

Speaking of distracted, here's one of the reasons conference time disrupts routine. Not that I mind! This is the view from my room at Surfers Paradise on Queensland's Gold Coast. At home the weather was chilly - think warm pullovers, fires at night and cups of hot chocolate. At the conference the weather was balmy, perfect for walking on the beach and soaking up some sun. Warm enough to swim too!
Morning walk on the beach.

I love getting away with other writers to hear what they're up to, what's happening in the publishing industry, take some time out to think about my craft, meeting readers, and share information. When you team that with a place just perfect for invigorating walks in the fresh air, it's almost perfect. One of the great pleasures of this conference, and there were many, was simply opening the curtains and full length windows and letting the warm sea breeze in. Something about listening to the sea is relaxing yet invigorating at the same time. I was so inspired I even managed a little time writing more of my current book in between sessions! That's a first for me.

I love the feeling of being away on a vacation even when I'm working. What could be better?

And the fact that the hotel itself was terrific, with warm, friendly staff, and there was a great Thai restaurant just across the road...?

Some of the LoveCats DownUnder bloggers
One of the wonderful things about conference time is the fact that you get to meet people face to face. Maybe complete strangers (I had a lovely time meeting some writers this year I'd never come across at previous conferences) but also people you know via email but not in person. Or perhaps people you only see at conference time because they're so far away. We had attendees from across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the USA, Canada and the UK.

I started blogging this year with a number of Australian and New Zealand category romance authors who call themselves the LoveCats (for Category Romance) DownUnder. Some I've known for years. Others I've met only on the web and recently. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to get better acquainted with that lovely sisterhood. Here's a picture of some of us (we couldn't get everyone in one place at one time). I'm second from the left at the back.

RBY Winner Fiona Lowe with her Rita
Conference time also provided a chance to meet senior editorial staff from the UK and Canadian offices of Harlequin Mills and Boon as well as the supportive staff from the Sydney office. I'll be adding some of those pictures on my website and Facebook pages if you're interested - I'm running out of space here. One picture I couldn't resist adding is of my mate Fiona Lowe with her lovely Rita award, just back from the RWAmerica conference. Fiona scooped a double whammy, then winning her category of Romantic Book of the Year (RBY) at our Aussie conference. Other winners included Robyn Grady (in white in the LoveCats picture), Barbara Hannay and Helene Young.

One of the lovely things about the conference is that there are so many things to celebrate, with prizes announced for competitions for both unpublished and published authors. The Awards Dinner is always a treat. A very special event this year was the induction of the wonderful Helen Bianchin into our RWA Hall of Fame. Our first recipient of this honour and such a lovely and talented author.

My own celebration was for GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT. The UK edition of that book won the Favourite Category Romance Cover Contest. Yay! You can check out that lovely, lovely cover on my website if you're interested.

In conjunction with the conference, the Australian Romance Readers Convention also organised a big book signing. Here's a photo of the authors just before the doors opened to readers for the signing. I hadn't realised there would be so many of us. That was a lovely afternoon, talking books and reading and discovering some new writers too.

Authors at the ARRA booksigning, courtesy of Marie Miller
Have you ever attended a conference? What did you like about it, or wasn't it your scene? Would you rather stay quietly at home and miss out on all that fuss? If you had a chance to attend one what would be be, and where would you like to go for it? A dream location or somewhere where you're not tempted out the door?

This month Annie has a couple of releases to celebrate. If you're in Australia or New Zealand, look out for an anthology entitled 'Greek Affairs: Tempted by the Tycoon' (the one with the gorgeous, summery cover). It contains 3 full length stories, including Annie's bestselling book 'The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife'.

If you're in the UK then keep an eye out for 'Defying Her Desert Duty' in book stores in October but available from Mills and Boon in September. It's a sexy love vs duty story featuring a couple whose love for each other is forbidden.

For more information on these stories, pop by Annie's website or of course look out for them in bookstores.


  1. The RWAus12 conference at the Gold Coast was my very first conference. I learned so much at the seminars, experienced pitching for the first time. The highlight was the wondering way the established writers welcomed my fellow newbies and myself. They all were generous in their help and advice. And great fun.

  2. You all have such beautiful and infectious smiles :) I'm looking forward to Defying her Desert Duty Annie :))

  3. Princess Fiona - what a lovely wrap for the conference. I always find them fun and very, very welcoming. I'm so glad that was your experience too.

  4. Hi Tash, now that's a lovely compliant! Glad to hear you're looking forward to Soraya and Zahir's story. It was one I adored writing. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, writing it.

  5. Hi, Annie :-)! What a treat to find this description of the conference--thank you for sharing. Loved the view from your window (happy sigh) and seeing all those familiar faces in the booksigning photo. Oh, how I wish I'd been able to join you all again this year!

    Congratulations on the cover award--what fun!

  6. Hi Terry,

    Glad you enjoyed the report. I skimmed everything as it would take days to describe in detail. Yes, the view was terrific and we were blessed with gorgeous weather which made it a treat to be there. Opening the window and letting in that sea breeze was fantastic.

    Maybe you'll be back again next year? That would be lovely.

    Thanks for the congratulations for 'Girl in the Bedouin Tent' - I was so chuffed.

  7. HI Annie,

    It was a fantastic conference, wonderful venue and great to catch up with friends and to see how many talented authors we have downunder!

    Despite suffering brain drain from the great workshops I'm working on my pitch request!

    I don't know how you manage to attend the overseas conferences as well!!

    Fantastic story Girl in the Bedouin Tent and it was a beautiful cover, so glad it won and I voted for it!!

    Margaret Midwood

  8. Wasn't it a wonderful conference, Annie? I think I could live in that hotel with that amazing view! I'd just come back from the Romance Writers of America conference which is, of course, fabulous. But it's on a much bigger scale with more than 2000 delegates. The Australian conference is more intimate and gives a chance to chat with more people, old friends and newbies alike. It was great to catch up with you--so enjoyed it! Roll on next year's conference!

  9. Loved re-living the conference through your lovely post, Annie. And so stoked about your Girls in a Bedouin Tent award!

    Look forward to seeing you next year!

  10. Hi, Annie! Congrats on Girl in the Bedouin Tent winning the cover comp--it truly is a magnificent cover. It was soooo fabulous to see you at the Gold Coast! Wasn't it a fun conference? Like Kandy, I'd just returned from the RWAmerica conf, which can be overwhelming. This one was cosy and relaxing.

  11. Margaret, I'm thrilled to hear you're working on your pitch request. Excellent! I have my fingers crossed for you.

    I know what you mean about brain drain. There's so much to process, isn't there?

    Thanks for voting for Girl in the Bedouin Tent - LOVE that cover!

  12. Kandy, like you I adored the hotel. I suppose the wonderful balmy weather enhanced the enjoyment too - no squally winds when you opened the door to the balcony - just a lovely sea breeze.

    I'm trying to imagine coping with a conference of thousands. You must be exhausted.

  13. Beverly, the catch up was too short, wasn't it? Maybe next year we'll manage some decent time together for a proper natter. Time's always at a premium at conferences, though I admit I didn't feel quite as rushed this time as usual - bliss. So glad you're pleased about 'Girl in the Bedouin Tent' too.

  14. Vanessa - thanks for the good wishes.

    It was marvellous seeing you at the conference. Your head must have been spinning after all that travel. But wasn't it worth it? The whole event was a stand out for me - the conference itself and the venue too. I'm already looking forward to Fremantle next year! I've never visited there and it should be marvellous.