Romantic Novelists’ Association #RomanticNovelAwards 2020!
Every year, I say the same thing… the Romantic Novelists’ Association #RomanticNovelAwards are an absolute highlight of the publishing calendar and this year was no exception.
It already feels like a hundred years ago since we all gathered in the Leonardo Royal London City Hotel overlooking the Tower of London, but it was actually only 3 weeks ago on 2nd March 2020, that authors, publishers, agents, readers, reviewers, booksellers and librarians threw their best sparkly outfits on and touched elbows with friends, colleagues and associates to celebrate the wonderful world of romance.
Here at @TeamBATC HQ we were hugely excited for the evening, as we had five shortlisted authors up for awards – Claire Frost (The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award), Christina Pishiris (The Romantic Comedy Novel Award), Iona Grey, Heidi Swain and Anstey Harris (all shortlisted for The Sapere Books Popular Fiction Award) and the magnificent Milly Johnson was to be presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award 2020 for her extraordinary contribution to the genre.
We also welcomed to the TeamBATC party India Thain – granddaughter of the late, great Jackie Collins – who was presenting the inaugural Simon & Schuster Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller of the Year Award.
Jane Wenham-Jones compered the evening with wit, warmth and charm – and before long the awards were being presented by the hilarious guest presenter Jenny Éclair, and you know what, our wonderful debut author Anstey Harris won the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award for The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, so it was fizz and back slaps all round!
Samantha Tonge won the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thriller of the Year, for her novel, Knowing You and gave a wonderful speech about how much it meant to her.
It was then the turn of Milly Johnson to accept her Outstanding Achievement Award, and let me tell you, you could hear a pin drop as Milly gave one of the very best speeches I’ve ever heard. Two standing ovations, and a room full of people sobbing and nodding and cheering. It was an absolute sight to behold and I felt very lucky to be in the room to witness the moment.
And then, a very special announcement – as we revealed that we will be hosting a Romantic Novelists’ Association open day – #RNANWSOneDay – on 15th September 2020, inviting members of the New Writers’ Scheme to submit their manuscripts directly to S&S.
Who knows where we will all be this time next year, whether we’ll be able to gather by then, or whether we’ll all be in a social-distancing self-isolation lockdown situation – but what I do know, is that in the coming days, weeks and months, the power of books to bring us joy will never be more important. So, if you can, pick up a book, find a space and time to read, and stay safe, stay sane and stay well.
Hillingdon Libraries #GINFLING!
A wonderful time was had by all at our Hillingdon Libraries #GinFling at The Great Barn in Ruislip on 7th September 2019. Wonderfully organised and hosted (as ever) by Lara and her team, we began the evening with fizz and nibbles before our five fabulous authors (L-R Alice Peterson, Iona Grey, Anstey Harris, Claire Frost and Heidi Swain) gave an introduction and brief reading of their new novels. We then had a break for a delicious bowl of supper provided by Warung Asia, before settling down for our Gin Tasting game. Thank you so much to everyone who came, our friends at Hillingdon Libraries and, of course, our wonderful authors who braved the trains, planes and automobiles to attend!
Romantic Novelist Association #RomanticNovelAwards 2019!
I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again, the Romantic Novelist Association #RomanticNovelAwards are an absolute highlight of the publishing world calendar. Held in the historic Gladstone Library, it’s a great opportunity for authors, publishers, agents, readers, reviewers, booksellers and librarians to throw on their Oscar-worthy outfits and catch up with friends, colleagues and associates to celebrate this wonderful world of romance…
Last night we (here at S&S) were super excited to attend, as not only were two of our authors shortlisted for awards, and we (here at @TeamBATC) had sponsored the Romantic Comedy Novel Award, but our CEO, Ian Chapman, had a very special announcement to make – the launch of a brand new award for 2020, the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller of the Year. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I was… it has been a total passion project for me to work on, and to hear and see the reaction from the room to the news was truly wonderful. You can read all about the new Award here.
Here are a few of my favourite photos of the night…
Last night we were super excited to welcome some of our #BookClub friends, and 10 of our brilliant authors to @TeamBATC HQ for our #SpringBloggerEvening2019.
The weather may have been against us, and, despite the carefully positioned vase of Daffs, I don’t think anyone can call 6th February ‘Spring’, but I think it’s fair to say that everyone had a wonderful time.
As ever, our huge thanks to our Star Authors for coming from all over the country to join us and our #BookClub friends for keeping our community alive. We ONLY keep going for YOU, so thank you for your continued support for our authors and their books. Whether you’re a Festival Organiser, Librarian, Blogger, Reader, ‘Influencer’ or Reviewer – every tweet, insta or Facebook post, blog feature, word of mouth recommendation, and book purchased makes a huge difference.
Special mention must go to Hayley and Amy for producing the 8 sneaky peek chapter samplers for the new books by Rachel Hore, Alice Peterson, Juliet Ashton, Iona Grey, Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain, Louise Candlish and Claire Frost, Rich for the Messy, Wonderful Us proofs and photo booth, Justine for moving heaven and earth to get the Paige Toon proofs delivered in the nick of time, Bec for her hosting of the Reading Session, and all my other smashing S&S chums for pouring the booze, serving the snacks, moving the chairs and making the merriment, Charlotte from Restoration Cake for baking the perfect themed cupcakes and Mariyam from Oh Panda Eyes for the gorgeous necklaces.
Thank you so much to our good friends at Hillingdon Libraries for asking us to join them again for their #CultureBite Literary Festival this year. We had a wonderful fizzy Afternoon Tea with a room full of lovely guests and our four bestselling authors – Catherine Isaac (You Me Everything), Rachel Hore (Last Letter Home), Juliet Ashton (The Sunday Lunch Club) and Kate Furnivall (The Survivors) at Haste Hill Golf Club on 29th September, with sandwiches, cakes and good book chat – just look at that sunshine!
Here at Team BATC HQ, we LOVE a glass of fizz. And a cupcake. And the opportunity to bring readers and writers together… and our famous (not famous at all) Spring Blogger Evening is, in our humble opinion, one of the best ways to combine all three!
Last night, for the fourth year running, we welcomed some of our #BookClub book blogger friends to S&S Towers to meet, mingle, relax and chat with 10 of our wonderful authors and I think it’s safe to say, we all had a hoot!
Thank you so much to Victoria Walters, Louise Candlish, Juliet Ashton, Catherine Isaac, Holly Hepburn, Paige Toon, Heidi Swain, Penny Parkes, Santa Montefiore and Anstey Harris for braving the trains, planes and automobiles they took to get here (literally!), and all our wonderful blogger friends for coming.
Romantic Novelist Association #RoNA2018!
I think it’s fair to say, the Romantic Novelist Association #RoNA Awards are one of the absolute highlights of any romantic authors’ calendar. Held in the historic Gladstone Library, it’s also a great opportunity for publishers, agents, readers, reviewers, booksellers and librarians to whack on the old glad rags, a slick of lippy and the most sparkly of trainers, catch up with friends, colleagues and associates and whoop like loons and clap like crays to celebrate the wonderful stories the authors on the shortlists have written.
Let me tell you, the Oscars have NOTHING on our red carpet. The jewels! The sequins! The copious amounts of fizz!
Here at Team BATC we’ve had a cracking run at things for the last couple of years with some of our favourite titles gaining the recognition they deserve and the (surprisingly heavier-than-they-look) Star trophies, with Milly Johnson, Iona Grey and Penny Parkes all winning Stars and Iona going on to win the prestigious overall Romance Novel of the Year in 2016 with Letters to the Lost.
Last night we had four authors seated with us at Lucky Table No. 6 – Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Hepburn were all shortlisted for the Contemporary category with their novels The Queen of Wishful Thinking, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and The Picture House by the Sea (alongside such heavyweights as Together by Julie Cohen and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan); and Dani Atkins, who was nominated in the Epic category for This Love.
Que much nail biting and tense, nervous giggling whilst Jo Dickinson and I tried to distract our authors with a round of pass the canapé to the right hand side…
Brilliantly compered, as ever, by the powerhouse that is Jane Wenham-Jones and guest presented by the hilarious, dry and ever so naughty Reverend Richard Coles we kicked off the evening with the Contemporary category. Milly, Holly and Heidi were all very gracious in defeat, and led the cheers for Julie Cohen who won and gave a very moving speech to riotous applause.
Next up was the hotly contested Epic category… and…. drum roll please…. our very own Dani Atkins won with This Love! What an absolute joy! There followed much cheering, much hooting and much roaring as Dani gave a wonderful heartfelt speech – and I’ll be honest, the next categories – Historical, Paranormal, Comedy, RoNA Rose and YA announcements’ passed me by somewhat, as I was seated a mere 3 chairs away from the legend that is Jilly Cooper who received a Lifetime Achievement Award to a justifiable standing ovation.
Next up, the Big One. The Goldsboro Books sponsored Romance Novel of the Year. Each category winner goes into a Big Hat of Chance – so alongside Dani were the worthy winners of the YA (Kerry Wilkinson), Comedy (Jenny Colgan), Paranormal (Fiona Harper), Historical (Marius Gabriel), Rose (Jane Lovering) and Contemporary (Julie Cohen) category and guess what? Dani WON.
What a night! What a hoot! What a celebration!
Here are a bunch of my favourite photos of the night…
GIRLS ON TOUR AFTERNOON TEA!
Thank you to everyone who came, our authors Dani Atkins, Heidi Swain, Holly Hepburn, Juliet Ashton and Penny Parkes and to Lara and Sam from Hillingdon Libraries for arranging our fabulous #GirlsOnTour afternoon tea on Saturday at Haste Hill Golf Club, we had a wonderful time!
Thank you to our friends at Grosvenor House Hotel who kindly audio recorded the Jackie Collins Literati event on 8th September 2015 – Jackie’s last public appearance. Do have a listen. As you would imagine, she was warm, wise and witty. Everyone here at Books and the City is devastated by her loss. We will miss her every day.
We were SO excited to report that not one, but two of our fabulous authors were shortlisted on the 2017 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards (RoNAs), sponsored by those wonderful folk over at Goldsboro Books.
At a glittering ceremony in the Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place, London SW1 on 13th March all the category winners, and the overall award – the prestigious Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year Award – were presented by Prue Leith. It was only last year that our very own Iona Grey won the overall award, with her beautiful novel – Letters to the Lost, and Milly Johnson won the Romantic Comedy Category with Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe – so we were crossing our fingers and toes for another wonderful night!
The awards comprised seven categories – Contemporary Romantic Novel, Epic Romantic Novel, Historical Romantic Novel, Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel, Romantic Comedy Novel, the RoNA Rose Award (for shorter and category romance), and Young Adult Romantic Novel – with a range of authors shortlisted for each one.
The Contemporary Romantic Novel category was for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960 and includes genres such as chick lit and romantic suspense.
The Epic Romantic Novel category contains serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories.
The Historical Romantic Novel category is for novels set in a period before 1960.
The Paranormal or Speculative Romance Novel category was for romantic novels that include elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, whether paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, time slip or worlds that include ghosts, vampires or creatures of legend.
The Romantic Comedy Novel was for consistently humorous or amusing novels and included our very own Penny Parkes.
The RoNA Rose Award recognised the best in category/series and shorter romance that focus on developing a love affair between the hero and heroine.
The Young Adult Romantic Novel featured protagonists who are teenagers or young adults, including our very own Paige Toon.
And we are delighted to announce that Penny Parkes triumphed in her category, winning the Romantic Comedy Novel for Out of Practice!
GIRLS ON TOUR EVENT AT CHISWICK BOOK FESTIVAL
On Saturday evening, 17th September 2016, Santa Montefiore, Penny Parkes, Jane Costello and Juliet Ashton were joined by Isabelle Broom from Heat magazine for a very special Books and the City: Girls on Tour event at Chiswick Book Festival, and a wonderful time was had by all!!
With a glass of fizz to keep us going, our panel covered all manner of cracking questions such as ‘What does it take to be a modern woman?’, ‘Which women inspire you?’, most iconic female literary heroines, best things about being a writer, ’What’s the best thing about being a modern women?’, writing inspirations and even some nuggets of advice for aspiring writers, the event was frank, fun and fabulous!
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE GREAT BARN WITH JANE COSTELLO, PAIGE TOON, JULIET ASHTON AND DANI ATKINS!
Hillingdon Libraries called it their ‘event of the season’ and we couldn’t agree more! On 26th May 2016 we toured four of our authors for a very special #GirlsOnTour Literary Afternoon Tea at the beautiful and historic Great Barn in Ruislip, Middlesex – bestselling authors Jane Costello, Paige Toon, Juliet Ashton and Dani Atkins were our VIP hosts for the afternoon, and joined our guests for a very indulgent tea provided by local bakery Honey Bees Cakes - with extra fizz on the side!
JUST ANOTHER MANIC MONDAY…
Last night, @TeamBATC uber’d it’s way down Whitehall way to take our seats at (lucky?) table number 14 at the Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place, to attend the star-studded annual #RoNAs (Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards) now sponsored by those fabulous chaps over at Goldsboro Books.
Imagine if you will, a beautiful library, steeped in history and packed to the rafters with 200 odd guests, nominated authors, members of the RNA, publishing bods and agents, sequined up to the eyeballs in their best gowns, with all the glamour and fizzing excitement of the Oscars, but with far less ego and Botox.
After a round of delicious nibbly savoury delights, pink fizz and pink cupcakes (natch), the event kicked off…
Oh my. Let me tell you, I was giddy with anticipation – so god alone knows how all the nominated authors managed to keep a lid on it. I’d be running around screaming with a goat on my head.
In amongst the brilliant compering by Jane Wenham-Jones and guest presenting by the hilarious Fern Britton, the fizz fizzed, the laughter rang out loud and proud, and the warmth radiating from the room could have powered a small village for a week. Let me tell you, the RNA is a very special Association and long may it continue.
Anyho. To cut a long story short, we were triumphant. Not only did Milly and Iona both win their category awards, for Romantic Comedy and Historical respectfully, but Letters to the Lost triumphed to win The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year. I KNOW! Cue tears, hugging, tweeting a–go–go, proud mother moments for Editor of both novels, Queen of the Red Pen of Doom (and Delight!), Clare Hey and a giddy round of cheers!
Team BATC are incredibly proud and honoured to be the publishers of such a diverse and wonderful group of excellent authors, and whilst it goes without saying we love ALL our authors in equal measure, sometimes hearing a room full of less invested ladies whoop and cheer for our girls really does make the heart sing. It really really does….
Here are a handful of my favourite snaps of the night….
CULTURE BITE EVENT UPDATE
On 30th and 31st October 2015, Clare Hey and I were delighted to bring 3 cracking events to the Hillingdon Library CultureBite Festival.
And then on Saturday evening, we held a fabulous How To Write A Novel And Get It Published event at Uxbridge Library with bestselling authors Rachel Hore and Susan Elliot Wright in conversation with Clare Hey, Fiction Editorial Director here at Books and the City HQ….
Thank you so much to all our authors, the team at Hillingdon Library for looking after us so well, especially Sam, Lara and Jo, and the wonderful audiences at each of the events for coming!
Afternoon Tea at the Grosvenor House Hotel with Milly Johnson
In June 2015 we invited a group of readers, bloggers and fans to celebrate the launch of the fabulous Milly Johnson novel - Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe - at our favourite London hotel, Grosvenor House.
Here are a couple of our favourite snaps from the day.
Thank you to everyone who came, the lovely team at Grosvenor House Hotel who looked after everyone SO well, and Emma who kindly delayed her holiday to attend!
GIRLS ON TOUR WITH JANE COSTELLO, IONA GREY AND ANDY JONES
A fab time was had by all at Waterstones in April 2015, at our first ever Liverpool Girls on Tour event. As ever our brilliant chair, Clare Hey, grilled the authors following a short reading from each of them from their novels - The Love Shack, The Two of Us and Letters to the Lost, with a Q&A session to top it all off. Thank you so much to Waterstones for hosting, and Janes dad for filming this great video!
CREATIVE WRITING MASTERCLASS
On Saturday 15th November 2014 we held our very first (but hopefully not our last!) Creative Writing Masterclass here at Books and the City HQ, aimed specifically at writers of commercial women’s fiction. The day was split into two, with morning one-to-one sessions with editors Jo Dickinson and Clare Hey and afternoon panels for a wider audience with uber literary agent Lizzy Kremer, bestselling author Milly Johnson, Peter Saxton (Publisher Liaison Manager at Waterstones Head Office), Isabelle Broom (Book Reviewer at Heat Magazine) and Lindsey Mooney (Content Lead UK & Ireland from Kobo).
We all had a fabulous time, our Panel Sessions were brilliant – with some cracking hints, tips and advice from the very best in the business, all topped off with fizz and cake at the end of the day. Perfect. Here are just a few of my favourite snaps from the day…
In October 2014 Grosvenor House Hotel played host to a #Literati event with the one and only Richard Madeley A wonderful time was had by all, including our fabulous compère for the evening, Hannah Beckerman, The Croydon Massive Reading Group, Catriona the Fabulous Book Fiend and Sam Everett from Hillingdon Libraries. Thanks to Lorna, Rosie and the brilliant team at Grosvenor House for looking after us all so well again and be sure to look out for details of more events at our favourite 5* London hotel coming soon…
GLITTERATI EVENT REPORT
In August 2014, we hosted a fabulous Girls on Tour event at our favourite 5* hotel bar – Red Bar – at Grosvenor House Hotel with bestselling authors Ali Harris, Jane Costello and Paige Toon. It was a brilliant night with lots of chat, fizz, cocktails, cupcakes, doughnuts and an awesome goody bag for everyone that attended. We were also lucky enough to have our friends from Benefit Cosmetics on hand to give complimentary ’make-uppers’ to all guests and the wonderful Hannah Beckerman as our compère for the evening! We are hoping to go back to Red Bar for another #Glitterati event in 2016, so will let you know as soon as we can!
GIRLS ON TOUR HITS WATERSTONES BIRMINGHAM
In June 2014 Girls on Tour visited Waterstones in Birmingham for a fabulous evening of book chat, cupcakes and pink fizz with Ali Harris, Milly Johnson and Paige Toon. A wonderful time was had by all, so many thanks to everyone who came, our marvellous authors and the team at Waterstones for looking after us so well. We look forward to announcing the date of the next event soon, so keep an eye out for details!
In June 2014 we hosted a very special Afternoon Tea at BB Bakery in Covent Garden to celebrate the partnership between Melissa Hill’s paperback edition of A Gift To Remember and Bourjois. The cakes were delicious, the pink fizz flowed, we talked about books and make-up all afternoon and our guests left with an exclusive goody bag!
Book Brainstorm Brunch
On Saturday, September 8th we hosted our first ever www.booksandthecity.co.uk Book Brainstorm Brunch here at @TeamBATC HQ, with 21 of our most passionate women’s fiction book bloggers. The purpose of the day was to gather invaluable consumer insight on all manner of plans we have in place for two of our big books publishing next year, as well as running our brand strategies for two of our biggest authors past them. We also held a general session on our website, events, newsletter, social media, PR and marketing, jackets, eBook strategies, book buying habits and audio.
A great time was had by all, we scoffed our combined weight in croissants and everyone left, exhausted, but with a goody bag full to the brim with treats!
Thank you so much to the Class of 2018 – and we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2019 next year!