The Awards dinner was excellent. I’d never heard of Cello’s Restaurant before, but it’s a beautiful venue—although the lifts are a challenge if you’re the least bit claustrophobic. High ceilings, chandeliers, and even a grand piano to the side—it’s just reeked of old world romance.
If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that Tracey O’Hara issued a challenge that eventually resulted in a call for a bling off at the Australian Romance Readers Awards dinner. And do you know what I love most about my fellow ARRA members? They said, Bring it!
Sadly, I got carried away and left my outfit shopping so late I turned up to dinner, well, quite UNfashionably late. Others also suffered for the sake of bling and leather, with stories of shoes superglued to the kitchen floor, the case of the killer heels, and last-minute outfit changes. Even guest of honour Nalini Singh came bling-ready. (We love her!)
The first two sets of award presentations were given out between the entrees and the main course. I missed them. Yes, I’m a terrible blogger! But you can read the list of winners here.
I love that Lami, one of the very first Cellies I met and a die-hard JR Ward fan, was invited to accept the award on Ward’s behalf for Favourite Paranormal Romance. (It’s probably a safe bet that our table had the biggest JR Ward fans in the room. Feel free to challenge this statement! *g*)
Nalini Singh was our guest speaker and she was gracious, gorgeous … and much too sober to drop any spoilers. She spoke about her journey to becoming an author and it sounded like she had a dream run with Slave to Sensation, which went to auction between five publishing houses.
Singh mentioned that she had just finished the third Guild Hunter book and did a grand reveal of the title with help from our very own Wandergurl! The new book is titled, Archangel’s Consort. Do we know whose book this is?
It seemed fitting that Singh won the Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance and Favourite Continuing Series awards, beating some very big names—Ward, Kenyon, Laurens and Briggs, among others.
Paula Roe (Favourite Category Romance) and Anna Campbell (Favourite Australian Romance Author, Favourite Historical Romance) couldn’t make it to the awards, which was a shame because it would’ve been great to see them accept their trophies. Plus I’ve met both of them before and they’re fun, fun, fun.
Kandy Shepherd (Favourite Contemporary Romance) won against some stiff competition, despite her book not being available in most Australian bookshops. I caught up with Kandy later and apparently she had urged her friends and fans to order the book from gleebooks, which explains why I found a copy—quite by chance—in my local gleebooks shop under ‘Australian literature’. I reckon more Aussie authors should do this!
I vaguely remember thinking that the main course was lovely, but I had trouble sitting still long enough to eat dinner because there were just so many fabulous people to catch up with—the lovely Tracey O’Hara, Erica Hayes in a dress I covet, Rosemary from FANGtastic Fiction, Nicola from Love Books, Tony from Booktopia and, of course, fellow readers, some of whom I knew from my local ARRA meet-ups.
I was also fortunate enough to be seated at the same table as Kate Cuthbert (Booktopia), Bronwyn Parry (Favourite Romantic Suspense), Andrea Hanke, editor of Bookseller+Publisher, and Sofia from Galaxy Bookshop. As you may have guessed, there was no shortage of conversation at our table. Andrea got a crash course in romance, and whoever did the seating arrangements deserves an award for placing her next to Lami, who is a book recommending machine. (And, really, where could she stop? An entire magazine wouldn’t be enough to cover romance. But maybe I’m biased. *g*)
In fact, I looked around the room a few times and the seating seemed to work out really well. Just over 50 people attended the dinner, and I think every table had at least one author present. (I didn’t get to meet them all, much as I wanted to!)
There was also a flurry of activity on Twitter and on local blogs, which was awesome to see. Even though it was challenging to live tweet at the awards, I could sense some of the excitement from authors and readers who were monitoring their tweet streams.
One last thing—the door prizes. They were endless! And if there’s one thing we readers love more than anything else, it’s free books. :-)
Massive props to the ARRA Executive Committee for a wonderful job, especially Maggie Nash, who headed the subcommittee responsible for organising the event.
I can’t wait for ARRC 2011! It’s soooo gonna rock bling!
If you’re interested in joining ARRA, the membership year starts in July, but if you join now, you’ll get the next two months (May-Jun) free. It costs $10 for the year and you can download the membership form here. If you found out about ARRA from this blog, it would be great if you can indicate this on the form. We may or may not be eligible to win a $50 voucher for referring new members (it might only apply to individuals rather than blogs—I have to check) but I’d recommend joining ARRA, either way!
More coverage of the ARRA Awards
(I’ll update this as I get more links, so check back in a few days to see if there are any more. Feel free to leave a link to your post of pics in the comments below.)
Winner announcements on the ARRA blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Awards Dinner wrap up — ARRA
ARRA Awards Night — Bronwyn Parry
Aust Romance Readers Awards for 2009 — FANGtastic Fiction
Australian Romance Readers Association Awards Dinner — Oddshots
Archangel’s Consort — Nalini Singh
Photo credits: Wandergurl (via Flickr)