Friday, 19 September 2008

AMBA 2008

People think being an author is glamorous. Believe me, if you saw the way I look most of the time I’m writing (trackies, no make-up, hair in a frizz), you’d change your mind. But once in a while, we get to go out, eat nice food, drink nice wine and, best of all, talk! Yesterday was one of those days as it was the Association of Mills & Boon Authors lunch, followed by a ‘Toast to the Authors’ by HM&B.

I arrived at Brown’s restaurant near Leicester Square a little early, but nevertheless, got a warm welcome from Michelle Styles and Sharon Kendrick, who organised the event, and also Kate Hardy, Annie Burrows and Trish Morey, who was visiting all the way from Australia!


It turned out she wasn’t the only one who had travelled from far, far away. I also chatted to Natalie Anderson, who has my undying admiration for flying halfway around the world from New Zealand with twin toddlers! She’s either a saint or raving mad. Either way, she was great fun to chat to! And since she said she reads my blog, I thought I’d better put something on it for a change. I was also pleased and surprised to see the ever-glamorous Jennie Lucas, who had flown in from America. We met last year at the RWA conference in Dallas, so it was great to catch up with each other. Here's Jennie looking serene:

As well as first time visitors from out of the country, we also had a few new authors making their first appearance, including Sabrina Phillips, whose first Modern Romance comes out next year and the very recently signed (two weeks ago!) Nina Harrington, who sold to M&B Romance.

Dinner was served in one of the old courtrooms above the main restaurant, complete with judge’s bench and chair. On the menu was:


  • Warm Goat’s Cheese with mixed salad, fig relish and basil oil
  • Chicken Breast served with mixed roasted pepper tomato
  • Provencal Rich Chocolate Truffle with raspberry coulis

After coffee we had speeches from some of the senior staff at Harlequin Mills & Boon. Karin Stoecker, editorial director of M&B, filled us in on how the various series had been doing in the previous twelve months and outlined exciting future plans and projects. Claire Sommerville, M&B’s marketing director, told us how successful M&B’s centenary year projects had been, from the ‘And Then He Kissed Her…’ exhibition, to press coverage, upcoming TV programmes and celebratory books and products. Lastly, we heard from Tim Cooper, Director of Direct Marketing/Digital. Bless him, he pretended to be scared of a roomful of romantic novelists, but we didn’t believe him. Not only did he mention the launch of the Sony Reader (and offered to let us fondle his afterwards - seriously), but he also talked about the new look M&B website, complete with whizzy features. You can now ‘Browse the Book’ – click on a link and read the opening chapter of all the current releases. I can’t wait to do that with my Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses, which goes on sale on the M&B website next month!

I’m a big fan of eHarlequin, the website for HM&B books in North America and have been an active member of its online community for over four years. The great news is that millsandboon.co.uk is going to get its own online community very soon! If it’s anything like eHarlequin, it’ll be a great place to come and chat about books, sexy men and just about anything else you can think of.


Authors swilling champagne (but the toast had just been made...)

There wasn’t much time between the end of the lunch and the start of M&B’s party to toast the authors. Time whizzed by so quickly and I can hardly remember all the people I talked to. We had some great achievements to toast (forgive me if I can’t remember them all!):
  • Caroline Anderson’s 75th book
  • Liz Fielding's and Jessica Hart's 50th books.
  • Nicola Cornick’s and Louise Allen’s 25th books.
  • RITA nominations for Nicola Cornick, Heidi Rice, Natasha Oakley and Kelly Hunter.
  • Bookseller’s Best win in the traditional category for Donna Alward.
  • National Readers’ Choice Award win for Janice Lynn.
  • Romance Prize win for Kate Hardy.
There were still so many people I hadn’t chatted to by 6pm when we had to finish! Still, it left plenty of time for a few of us to wander off for a drink at the National Gallery bar, then eat our way through lots of wonderfully spicy curry in Soho, then onto India Grey and Abby Green’s hotel for more drinks – I stuck to coffee by this time, although I should have asked for decaff, because my head was spinning so fast I couldn’t get to sleep by the time I crawled into bed just before midnight!

Julie Cohen, Abby Green, Biddy, Jennie Lucas and Heidi Rice

6 comments:

rayannelutenerblog said...

It was great to see you again Fiona and thank you for your welcome to the clan. :-)

Kate Hardy said...

Lovely to see you again, Fiona. (And next time I will indeed have the Radley sunglasses *g*)

Nell said...

Great pics, Fiona.

Julie Cohen said...

Was lovely to see you! Wish I'd also abstained from wine last thing...my head would have thanked me for it the next day.

Nicola Marsh said...

Thanks for a great wrap up, Fiona.

I'm really, really hoping to make it over there one day!

Natalie Anderson said...

Hey Fiona!!
Here I am back reading your blog (has taken a while becuase I came home to killer revisions!). It was lovely to meet you - hope I didn't weird you out with my 'I know you!' - blogs are funny that way.
Maybe we'll see you over our side of the world sometime - but I hope to be back in the UK in another few years too...
Cheers,
Natalie