As the title of my blog suggests, I’m going to be writing about my world, or, to put it another way,  I shall be jotting down bits & pieces about my life – and about writing – from week to week.

I’m a writer so it’s not surprising that much of my life centres around the writing world to which I belong. At the heart of this world lies the Romantic Novelists’ Association (the RNA), and since we’ve just had one of the RNA’s annual events, I thought I’d tell you about it today.

My focus is the people there, rather than what was said in the speeches. Shallow? Moi??

First of all, for those who haven’t heard of the RoNAs, they’re the annual awards given by the RNA for the very best in romantic fiction. Six RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) were announced at the ceremony yesterday.

Five of the RoNA categories are open only to books that are already out in paperback – these are the awards for Best Contemporary/Epic/Romantic Comedy/Historical/Young Adult Romantic Novels.

Each of the five winning books goes to a panel of judges, and the panel selects the Best of the Best. The winning book – The Romantic Novel of the Year – will be announced at the RNA‘s Summer Party in May.

The sixth RoNA Rose Award celebrates shorter/category romantic fiction, either in hardback or paperback.

The venue for the event was the Gladstone Library in One Whitehall Place, on the Embankment, virtually opposite the London Eye. To get to the Library, we had to climb the magnificant circular staircase.

I was early – I usually am – but I was far from the first person there. The shortlisted authors were already there, and were having their photos taken. Whilst this was going on, I wandered over to the window and couldn’t resist taking a photo of the lovely view. Alas, I fear that I haven’t done justice to it.

The view from One Whitehall Place

In addition to writers and photographers, there were also tables of shortlisted books. And pretty soon, there was pink champagne, too.

In the Reception area

Books & other necessities of life



The line-up of the RoNA Rose shortlistees.

Large numbers of people started arriving, and I wandered around, saying hello to friends, and taking photos whenever I remembered. Annoyingly, I didn’t photograph my friend, Alison, who did sterling work for me, holding my glass of champagne every time I angled the camera. Without Alison, I would have had pink fizz down the front of my top.

Barbara Alderton

Jenny Barden & Jean Fullerton

Fellow Choc Lit authors Margaret James & Linda Mitchelmore

Choc Lit's Christina Courtenay & Myra Kersner

The room got fuller and fuller as everyone crowded in, eagerly taking one of the glasses of champagne or juice proffered by the waiters who were everywhere. Thanks to Jenny Barden, I have a picture of several of us taken before too much champagne had been consumed.

Choc Lit authors Christina Courtenay & Sue Moorcroft, with Choc Lit MD Lyn Vernham

Choc Lit author Kate Johnson & her mother

Richard Fenton, Christina Courtenay, Myra Kersner, Me, Carol McGrath. Photo taken by Jenny Barden


We then went into the main room where we had canapés and more fizz during a ceremony slickly hosted by author and columnist Jane Wenham Jones. The presentations were made by Sunday Times number one bestselling crime writer Peter James, who made a lively, entertaining speech.

A slightly fuzzy Julie Cohen, Liz Fenwick & Jane Wenham Jones, plus books

My table – one of the Choc Lit tables – was overjoyed that two Choc Lit authors, Christina Courtenay and Jane Lovering, won the Historical Romantic Novel Award and the Romantic Comedy Award, respectively. Katie Fforde won the Best Contemporary Romantic Novel; Caroline Green, the Young Adult Romantic Novel Award, and Rosie Thomas won the Best Epic Romantic Novel.

The RONA Rose Award was won by Sarah Mallory.

Hearty congratulations to all the winners!

We now have an agonising wait until the RNA Summer Party on 17th May to find out who has won the Romantic Novel of the Year 2012 Award.

When the ceremony was over, a number of people went to the restaurant downstairs, but a large group of us – me included – ended what had been a fabulous evening at the nearby Pizza Express. The perfect conclusion to a brilliant day!

Night has fallen, and the lights from within the room are reflecting against the window panes

At the Pizza Express


Saying hello to Kate Johnson's mum & Kate while we wait for the pizza to arrive. Photo taken by Barbara Alderton


Next Tuesday, the Oxford Chapter of the RNA meets for its monthly lunch. Since I’ve run the Ox Lunch for over six years now, it’s very much a part of my life, and I think that next week I’ll introduce you to the lunch venue and to some of the Ox lunchers.

Bye for now!