I'm a little late with this announcement, but I'm going to blame it on the fact that I'm still pretty stunned that both of the books that were finalists in the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year and Ella Award (for romantic novella of the year) WON!!! There I was, sitting in the ballroom at the Romance Writer's conference in Sydney, and they called my name out not once, but twice. It still feels surreal, three weeks on.
The two stories nominated were Her Favourite Rival, and Worth The Risk. Her Favourite Rival is a Super Romance, and you can find an excerpt and some background information on the book here. Worth The Risk started life as a free on-line read for Harlequin, and Mills and Boon Australia released it as a bonus. The good news is that it's still available as a free on-line read here. All ten chapters are there - you simply need to click through to each new instalment to keep reading.
I can't tell you how chuffed, excited, honoured, humbled and delighted I am that these two stories struck such a chord with readers. As I often tell people, writing can be a lonely profession sometimes, which makes letters and other contacts from readers incredibly precious and rewarding, and awards like this so encouraging and wonderful. It is AWESOME that people enjoy my stories, and I have the BEST job in the world, hands down.
As I did on the night, I want to acknowledge again that I wouldn't be writing any of this and there would be no books for readers to enjoy if it wasn't for my wonderful editor, Wanda Ottewell. I have been incredibly fortunate to have Wanda as my editor through every book I wrote for Super Romance and Blaze, a run of 30 odd books. I know from talking to other Harlequin authors - and just authors in general - that it's rare to have the one editor for so many books, but what makes me extra, super-duper lucky is that not only did I have that continuity, the person I told all those stories with is Wanda.
Wanda is amazing with story. She remembers my characters from past books better than I do sometimes. She knows when to push me, when to pull me back. She says all the right things when I ring to tell her my hard drive has failed and that I haven't backed up for 50,000 words. She is the best coach, friend, counsellor, co-conspirator a writer ever had, and I absolutely acknowledge the powerful contribution she has made to my work and my career.
The other person I need to acknowledge is my husband, Chris. We have been together for more than 20 years now, and he has kept me laughing, kept challenging me, kept supporting me and loving me and feeding me and being kind to me through thick and thin. He is a brilliant writer and storyteller in his own right, and some of my best story ideas and scenes have been inspired by his words or advice. He is my secret weapon, and I would not be the writer I am today without him by my side. I love you so much, Chris, and your support means the world to me. Thank you for being as excited about these awards as I am.
Right. I will get off my podium now, but before I go I'd liked to acknowledge all the lovely readers out there who have taken the time to write to me or send me things via my publisher or make contact in some other way to let me know that my books have touched them. Your kind words are a gift beyond measure, and your demand for more keeps me at my keyboard. Thank you!