Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

I recently returned from the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia. The conference always kicks off with a cocktail party sponsored by Harlequin — but it's a cocktail party with a difference. It's a costume party and it's always huge fun. This year the theme was Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.

When I first joined RWAustralia, the cocktail party used to be called the Harlequin Meet the Authors cocktail party, and it was a quiet, elegant, fairly intimidating affair. A lot of people didn't attend. Those who did either watched the authors from a discreet distance, or were the authors. It wasn't really what you'd call a social mixer.

Then about twelve years ago, the conference was in an old historic hotel in Melbourne (my home town) and the organizer decided to make it a dress up affair — "Dress retro" we were told.

It was great — some came in gorgeous vintage outfits, some had made their own outfits, some simply wore a long scarf or a feather boa. (There's a funny story here from that first conference— about buying feather boas.) But it was fun and friendly and people talked so much more easily — the costumes were an icebreaker.

That first cocktail party, about a third of the attendees dressed up — these days it's getting on toward 80% or 90%  but there's no pressure to dress up if you don't like it. It's the ice-breaker aspect that's important, not whether you're in costume or not.

We've had some fabulous themes in the past, and i have fond memories of some of the overseas guests who've joined in good-naturedly.

So this year the conference had the theme of "Diamonds" with the cocktail theme being the 50's. I'm not one for glamour, but I love Marilyn Monroe and her Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, and it occurred to me that Marilyn in her 50's might have let herself go, just a little bit... in pink jammies, dressing gown, rubber gloves, headscarf, and loads and loads of bling. Here's me with my friend Bron, who also managed to come to the party in  a blonde wig and her jammies.
In fact there was a positive rash of Marilyns. Here's me with Young and Gorgeous Marilyn, from Harlequin Australia.
The queen (aka Jennifer Kloester) graced us with her extremely regal presence.
The Queen, the King and an old version of Marilyn
Some took pink to extremes and still managed to stay tasteful.
And the Marilyns continue...
Thanks Harlequin Australia and RWA for a fun night.
I'll post some more of the costume pics in a day or two — the non-Marilyn ones.
PS: Just had to add in another couple of pics — my friend Keziah Hill took a photo of my hands in the rubber gloves, covered in bling — and had it made into a post card which arrived in my post box today. 
 What fun!
Thanks Keziah.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RWA conference & Destiny Launch

I've been away at the Romance Writers' of Australia conference, and I thought I'd share some photos. It was held in the QT hotel on the Gold Coast, so while it's cold wintry weather where I live, on the Gold Coast it was warm and balmy. This was the view most days from my room. Nice, eh?

And since it's the east coast of Australia, each morning we woke to bright sunshine streaming in the window. A couple of mornings I even woke at dawn and snapped a few pictures of the rising sun.
It was a busy conference for me, even though I'm no longer involved in any organizational work. On the Thursday we had Author Day — for published authors only — and a very informative day it was indeed. The first panel was on self-e-publishing, and that was brilliant. After that was a presentation by Louise Sherwin-Stark on Google hangouts and . . . all I can say is expect more of these hangouts from me in the future. I did one on the Saturday following with Eloisa James and Christina Brooke and some others and it was fun, even though I was battling with server problems and kept dropping out. I'll write more about it in a day or so — I'm limiting my time on this — need to be working on a book. See the hangout here.

In the afternoon, Penguin Australia organized all their authors for cover photos, with hair and makeup professionally done. That was equal parts of traumatic and hilarious — I am not photogenic! Some people were also interviewed for the Destiny website (see below)

On Thursday evening we launched the new romance digital-first line for Penguin Australia, Destiny. It was a brilliant launch, with pink champagne and strawberries, and yummy nibbles, and a few brief speeches, and then the four launch authors and I read a 2 minute excerpt from our stories. It was lovely — you could have heard a pin drop in the crowded bar.
Here are the launch titles. I've read the first one—Wish—and it's fabulous.

 And then they gave us each a beautiful bunch of flowers! How nice was that?
A friend of mine came up afterward to congratulate us (a famous author whose initials are AC) and she  SAT ON my bunch of flowers! Right plop on top of them!  
I shrieked and shoved her off them and . . . amazingly the flowers survived. LOL.
And why was I up there? I'm not a launch author, but my Scottish story "The Laird's Vow" will be given away free with the launch titles in the first month of launching. 

Here are all the Destiny authors who were at the launch, along with Sarah Fairhall and Carol George from Penguin Australia, the commissioning editors.
Thanks Penguin, for a brilliant launch.

Tomorrow I'll put up some pics of the cocktail party, which is always a mad dress-up affair. The conference theme was Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, and there was a 50's theme for the cocktail party, and it was all huge fun.