It was an awesome weekend for Australian romance readers, especially those who happened to be in Sydney.
Saturday night was the biggest event in ARRA’s calendar for the year—the annual Australian Romance Readers Awards dinner. It was great to see familiar faces (although I couldn’t always remember names—this is why I suck at conventions) and for the first time ever I arrived to an ARRA event on time. Yes, the end of the world is nigh.
I sat next to Kate and Adele and around the table were Kate’s mum Gwen, Lami, Decadence and two awesome authors, Keri Arthur and MJ Scott. This year I managed to chat a lot more—thanks, Kate!—and actually eat normally. I must be getting better at either live tweeting or multitasking.
This year’s Bling Off was decided by audience applause, and authors Tracey O’Hara and Melissa Craig tied for the title of Queen of Bling. It was fabulous to see so many people participate in the Bling Parade, so thanks to everyone who got involved (and even those who blinged but stayed seated—you know who you are)!
After the dinner, a few of us walked to Tattersall’s for drinks. Next time, I think someone should scope out nearby pubs because we needed cheaper drinks, comfier seating and longer hours! Then again, we had to be up the next day for the romance reading flash mob…
Some thoughts about the awards night:
- For the past three years, Nalini Singh and Anna Campbell have dominated the awards? I love their books, too, but I suspect their popularity is boosted by their accessibility and generosity towards readers at the ARRA conventions and signings. We love these ladies and they’re definitely sentimental favourites! (BTW, I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to win. It’s more that if, for example, I can’t decide between two or three books, love for the author may tip the scales their way.)
- Denise Rossetti and Nalini Singh had multiple entries in their categories, so it’s amazing that even with potential split votes they still took out the prizes! (Denise won for erotic romance. Nalini won for sff or futuristic and for continuing series. She also won for paranormal romance, but she only had one entry in that one.)
- Only one winning author, Helene Young, was at the dinner to collect her award. One author! That was kind of sad, speaking as a reader.
- Avon didn’t sponsor an award, but Penguin Australia did. (Do they have a romance imprint? Off the top of my head I don’t think so, but I could well be wrong.) Booktopia was back as event sponsor. Harlequin Australia and Carina Press sponsored awards separately.
- The food at Cello’s is always fantastic.
- The title of the award is very long and not conducive to a memorable acronym. ‘ARR Awards’ would suggest pirates, but that term isn’t a good fit for authors in the age of ebooks, I don’t think!
- We need a better way of getting people out the door after the event finishes. It felt a bit abrupt to me.
- It always surprises (and gladdens) me how generously authors treat readers.
- The name tags needed to be in a much larger font so it’s not obvious when I’m fishing for someone’s name. :P
Romance Reading Day
I was slightly late to the reading flash mob on Sunday—I desperately needed coffee—and when I got to the city end of Pyrmont Bridge, most of the readers were already happily camped out and reading. Sydney gave us a beeyootiful morning and some readers took shelter under the shadow of the monorail. I loved the parasols!
We even had two blokes! It only occurred to me later to check if they were actually reading romances, because, really, who would cheat at a romance reading event???
Most of the books I saw were either historical romances or paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I bought a copy of Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch in the morning, intending to devour it for an hour, but @VaVeros distracted me and we spent the good part of an hour having a good old chat.
It was related to romance, though. Mostly. Maybe.
Afterwards, some of us headed to Oscar’s for ARRA’s monthly lunch in Sydney. It was apparently the largest number of attendees for Sydney. I got to sit next to Rhian Cahill and she was just lovely.
I had a fabulous romance-filled weekend and the ARRA organisers did an awesome job. I’m looking forward to the signing in Queensland later this year and then ARRC 2013. Rumour has it that the keynote speakers will be finalised very soon, and I can’t wait to find out who they are!
Photos from the awards night and Romance Reading Day are up on Flickr: flickr.com/photos/bookthingo. If you recognise anyone that I didn’t name, please let me know. I’m hopeless at remembering names!
Did you attend the awards night? Any thoughts/feedback/criticisms? And if you were at the flash mob, what did you bring to read?