Thursday, 19 February 2009

Kiss Goodbye To No Kissing

What I love about being British is that we are all certifiably bonkers from time to time. Here's a prime example:

It seems a no-kissing ban at a British railway station has sparked an outrage! Apparantly, too many people are spending too long smooching goodbye and it's clogging up the station. Here's a link to a news story about it:

Madness, I say. While I can understand the frustration that delays can cause, surely there has to be a less daft way to handle the situation.

Anyway, it seems my publishers, Mills & Boon, have started a campaign to 'Kiss Goodbye to No Kissing'.

There's even a group on Facebook!

So what do you think? Should we put timetables ahead of love?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

RNA Awards Lunch 2009

Yesterday was the RNA’s annual awards luncheon, where the organisation presents trophies for the Romantic Novel of the Year, the Romance Prize (for shorter romantic fiction) and this year, for the first time, a Lifetime Achievement Award. Did I mention I was on the shortlist for the Romance Prize for the second year running? I may just have mentioned it in passing…not that I was at all excited about it, you understand.

All the shortlisted authors were asked to be at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington early for PR and photographs, which was great, because I got to meet up and chat with some of my old friends, such as Kate Hardy (right, with yours truly), who took the Romance Prize home last year, Jessica Hart and India Grey. I also got to meet fellow finalist, Beth Elliot, but unfortunately Lucy Broadbent, the last contender on the list, was unable to make the ceremony.

I was also excited to be sharing a ‘green room’ (how showbizzy is that?) with some of the committee members and authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year —which, by the way, I think we ought to call the Ronnie (RNY?). Cecilia Ahern looks so fresh-faced and young, she must have been a toddler when she got her first publishing contact. Here are some of the shortlisted authors for the Ronnie (See? It’s catching on…) signing their books.

Lunch itself was lovely and the service was fantastic. An army of waiters seemed to arrive and place the plates on the table simultaneously. I know it seems weird taking pictures of your dinner, but people really want to know! And who am I to deprive them?

The starter was Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Crème Fraiche Caviar. I took a picture, but I was so intent on eating it, I forgot to take one before I dived in. Here is a picture of someone else’s plate who was slightly less piggy than I was (but for pristine picture of the food, you'll have to visit Kate Hardy's blog - she obviously has mose self-control than I have).

The main course (can you tell I like my food?) was Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas. This too was gorgeous. I loved the sauce. And just enough to fill me up without making me too stuffed, which was just as well, because pudding was just around the corner…

I don’t need to say much about dessert, apart from telling you that it was Bitter Lemon Tart with Raspberry Jelly and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. A picture may say a thousand words. I’ve two to demonstrate how much I enjoyed it:

Anyway, enough of the frivolous stuff and on to the awardsy bit. Unfortunately, our speaker, the debonair and charming Peter Bowles was unable to attend because he was unwell (get well soon, Peter!). Fist up was the Romance Prize and my little heart starting pattering hard as one of the judges, Margaret James, got up on stage and a short video display of all the shortlisted books appeared on screens all round the room. Margaret then gave a short description of each of the books, outlining what the judges liked most about them. I think she may have said Saying Yes To The Millionaire had “charm in abundance”, but I knew as I heard the judges opinion of one of the other books that it had stolen their hearts. And that book was…

Hired: Mistress For the Billionaire’s Pleasure by India Grey.

I’m very glad I didn’t read it before the ceremony because it sounds fabulous and I would have been too scared to turn up! India, lovely as always, was completely shocked by her win and even though she said she hadn’t prepared a speech, she was warm, funny and completely disarming as she accepted both the Betty Neels rose bowl, which she gets to keep for a year, and a little star-shaped glass trophy, which she gets to keep for ever.

And while India was still reeling with surprise, it was on the next event, a Lifetime Achievment Award to Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Books.

Then, it was time to present the Romantic Novel of the Year (okay, maybe The Ronnie wasn’t really a good nickname…), which went to Julia Gregson for her novel East of the Sun. All the books on the shortlist sounded fabulous. Uh-oh, I can hear my credit card groaning at the thought of another book shopping-spree...

Here's Julia with her trophy:

Finally, now all the nail-biting was over, it was time to breathe out and socialise. Here’s me with new M&B Romance author Nina Harrington:

And here’s a little montage, including India with her trophy:

Now, the questions now is: who can I bribe to get myself on the shortlist again next year? Any ideas, anyone? ;-)

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Sexiest Thing On Two Legs

It's official - according to the Romantic Novelists' Association's annua poll:

British actor Richard Armitage has leapt from last year’s 4th place to this year topping the ratings in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2009 Valentine’s poll, to take the title of Sexiest Thing on Two Legs, beating top Hollywood stars to the number one spot.

Johnny Depp, who topped last year’s poll, was pushed firmly into second place, with Hugh Jackman and George Clooney mere also-rans. "Richard Armitage took 20% of the vote, more than double the count of any other male on the list," said the RNA pollster. "He was a clear winner from the off."

The picture below is the closest one I could find to match my mental image of Will, the hero of English Lord, Ordinary Lady.

Anyway, here's the rest of the list. According to romantic novelists, the sexiest male celebrities of 2009 are:

1 Richard Armitage
2 Johnny Depp
3 Hugh Jackman
4 George Clooney
5 Daniel Craig
6 Sean Bean
7 Alan Rickman
8 David Tennant
9 Pierce Brosnan
10 Gerard Butler

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow in London

I'm interuppting my pre-deadline silence to post a few pics of the snow in London over the last few days. We've had about 10" where I live - which is a lot for us! Normally, we're lucky if we get an inch or two and it normally disappears by lunchtime.

My eldest daughter was in seventh heaven as it was her birthday. It was the first 'snow day' she's had in years and got to make snowmen and go sledding too. I lost count of the time she said, "This is the best birthday ever!".