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ARRC2015: wrap-up, part 1

27 April 2015

ARRC2015 was epic!

Author photo

Authors from ARRC2015, dressed in a 1920s theme for the awards dinner

 

By all accounts the 4th Australian Romance Readers Convention—ARRC2015—was a roaring success! We like to think it just might have been the best one yet!

Those last few weeks flew by so quickly, and the convention itself felt like it was over in a blink! The program for the convention was absolutely jam-packed, so we definitely kept everyone on their toes!

It was certainly big: in the end we had 236 delegates, plus another 43 readers who came just for the signing. That totals 279 attendees, which is the exact number of attendees we had at the first convention in Melbourne.

We had four truly awesome keynote speakers, 23 breakout sessions, including some that were activity based, mystery author tables, keynote lunches, book launches, the epic book-signing event (with a record 89 authors) and a Regency fashion parade. It was an ambitious program of events and we are thrilled with how smoothly it went.

But that wasn’t all. We also had our traditional welcome reception, followed by the new addition of a trivia night, the awards dinner, and also a new sight-seeing tour ahead of the convention and a wind-down lunch cruise the day following the convention. Delegates were completely spoilt for choice, and many of them chose everything. Attendees left on a high and utterly exhausted. Job well done!

There are more details below. Our heart-felt thanks to every single person who contributed to make the event so successful. Thanks also to all our sponsors, particularly our platinum sponsors—Booktopia and eXtasy Books.

Keynote speakersKeynote speakers

Our keynote speakers at ARRC2015—Helene Young, Kelley Armstrong, Victoria Dahl and Sylvia Day—were awesome!

Helene Young gave the opening address and spoke about life, success and ‘all things amazing about girl power’. Interspersed with photos of the yacht she lives on and gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, Helene took us through a journey of the women who have inspired her—both real-life women and fiction heroines—such as Purdy and Princess Leia. Delegates called her speech entertaining, informative and inspiring.

Kelley Armstrong spoke about how romance has influenced her writing. From her description of the very familiar search for the type of book that resonated with her, to including that same strong romance theme in her books, to her realisation that she didn’t want to write stories that had no romance in them. Delegates also found her speech very entertaining.

Unfortunately Victoria Dahl lost her voice not long after she arrived in Canberra, but after a few days of taking it easy she was ready for her keynote, if still slightly husky. Victoria spoke about being an unsympathetic heroine, and finding her writing voice when she started writing heroines who were not perfect. She talked about how she wants romance writers to write about all types of heroines, because everyone deserves a happy ending. Victoria’s talk was rated most highly of all sessions. The audience found it truly inspiring, especially as it was International Women’s Day.

Sylvia Day gave the closing speech. She talked about her early life and where her love of reading came from. From her first book hangover at the age of 12 she knew that she wanted to write romance. Many years later, after a military career and having children, she rediscovered her love of reading, and then started writing. The story of her journey was fascinating.

If you missed any of these keynote speeches, you can catch up with them on the ARRC2015 CD, which will go on sale soon (watch the blog for details).

Book-signing event

The signing at ARRC2015 was on track to be our biggest one yet! With 92 authors expected we had to get really creative with the floor plan to fit them all in, which meant we had tables spread out over a ballroom and a half. In the end we had 89 authors signing, with three authors dropping out due to illness, but that still makes this the largest signing—by one!

The turnaround time for the signing setup was very tight, but luckily we had a band of very industrious helpers and they quickly transformed the ballroom into a sea of tables with books set out ready for the authors.

We took a few photos just as the signing was starting. There seemed like there was plenty of room for readers … But then it got busier … and busier, and the room became noisier and very crowded!

The readers had an awesome time at the signing, and left with bulging bags of books.

Signing 1_DP Signing 2_DP Signing 3_DP Signing 4_DP Signing 5_via Cathryn Hein Signing 6_via TM Clark

Photo credits: Debbie Phillips, Cathryn Hein, TM Clark

Check back for Part 2 of the wrap-up tomorrow, where we have details of social events, including some of the new events introduced at ARRC2015.

Publisher pitch: Penguin Random House Australia, May 2015

27 April 2015

PRH_AustraliaFrom a lush tea plantation in Ceylon to the big blue skies of the Australian outback and the sexiest dark duke in ages, let Penguin Random House Books Australia sweep you away in the month of May with some gorgeous, heart-stopping romance.

To keep up to the date with the world of Penguin Random House Books Australia, we invite you to join us online at www.penguin.com.au and www.randomhouse.com.au or like us on Facebook at Penguin Books Australia and Random House Books AU.

Here are our May releases …

PRH covers May 2015Down Outback Roads by Alissa Callen

The outback can be a dangerous place. A place where people band together, shoulder to shoulder at times of need. Down Outback Roads is a celebration of those bonds between family and community as a group of locals undertake a desperate search for someone lost and a wonderful love story about two people, Ewan and Kree, who fall madly, deeply for one another. But will Ewan allow himself a second chance at happiness? To do that he needs to forgive himself for a terrible incident that happened years ago…

Common Ground by Cheryl Adnams

Rachel Raymond is a strong, independent foreign correspondent who has built up an illustrious career chasing stories across the world. Her life suddenly changes forever at the end of a tour based in war-torn Afghanistan, when the vehicle she and her team are travelling in hits a roadside bomb. Fireman Tate Cassidy has made the trip to the Riverlands for a wedding and finds himself instantly drawn to the mysterious journalist. When he finds himself falling for Rachel, this woman who’s been damaged by war, can he use their common ground to help her through her darkest time?

The Falls by Cathryn Hein

After being betrayed by her own family, Teagan Bliss flees to her aunt’s property in the beautiful Falls Valley. The warm welcome and idyllic surrounds are balm to Teagan’s broken heart. Before long she meets a sexy local farrier and is drawn into local village life. But just as Teagan begins to heal, she discovers those closest to her have been keeping secrets. The Falls is an uplifting story of healing, hope and country life from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland and Rocking Horse Hill.

Guest blogger: Lisa Heidke

26 April 2015

Lisa HeidkeAre you inspired by plot or character?

When it comes to plot and character, it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg. Which comes first?

With my first three books, it was definitely character. The protagonist came to mind and from there, the plot developed.

However, the idea for It Started with a Kiss, my latest release, came about because I wanted to explore how newly single women find themselves again after a long-term relationship breakdown. Not necessarily their sexual lives, but just themselves and their identity? After you’ve been with the same partner for five, ten, twenty+ years, how do you go about meeting new people to discover who you are? (So that’s plot, isn’t it?)

Having that idea, I created protagonist, Friday Jones, threw her into a crisis—marriage breakdown—and developed the story from there. Writing the first draft, I was very much focused on Friday’s character, all the time thinking ‘what would Friday do in this situation?’

The fact that online dating takes centre stage in the novel when Friday joins KissMeCupid.com came completely out of the blue. When I first started writing the story, I had no idea that Friday’s best friend, Rosie, would sign Friday up to a dating website. Creating that plot line lead to a few humorous and embarrassing scenes that were great to write. To add to the drama, Rosie runs a divorce party business. Researching that was also a lot of fun.

With my previous book, Stella makes Good, the inspiration was based on a tiny article I read in The North Shore Times about a police raid at a local swingers party. I thought, ‘hmm what if you innocently went there thinking it was just a daggy suburban party?’ It threw up lots of questions like ‘what if you saw someone who definitely shouldn’t be there? Do you tell their partner or not? What are the moral and real implications if you keep what you saw a secret?’ So, I guess this story was plot driven as well.

My idea for my third novel, Claudia’s Big Break, came about because I wanted to explore the relationships between long-time best girlfriends—throw them together for a two-week holiday at a crucial time in their lives when they have also lost emotional touch with each other—and watch the sparks fly. That one was definitely character driven.

With What Kate did Next, I wanted the main character—married mother of two, Kate—to approach her thirty-sixth birthday with the thought, ‘Why are the dreams I had for myself at twenty no closer to fruition, sixteen years down the track?’ Kate needed to ask herself, ‘Is that all there is?’ When she does, she starts taking risks, both personally and professionally.

When I started writing Lucy Springer Gets Even, the character of Lucy was very clear to me. Her husband was going to leave her in the first sentence, leaving the remaining 85,000 words being about Lucy overcoming her marriage breakdown, getting in touch with her challenging children and reigning in her renovation from hell … all the while making sure her life is better and more fulfilling than it was before.

I think the reason character often comes first for me is that I love writing dialogue. As soon as I create a character, words start tumbling from their mouths. As silly as it sounds, my characters start chattering and soon enough, a story starts to take shape.

Of course, throughout my novels, the plot serves to propel the characters forward and force them to develop and grow from the women they were on page one.

But back to It Started with a Kiss. I hope Friday’s story will give the reader a humorous (mostly) insight into the dating world in 2015 and I think it will resonate with women, whatever their age and state of their romantic life.

So what pulls you into a story? Characters? Plot? A bit of both.

I have two copies of It Started with a Kiss to give away. Leave a comment below and you will go in the draw. The giveaway closes on 10 May 2015.

You can find Lisa here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

It Started with a KissIt Started with a Kiss

After the pain of her marriage breakup, Friday Jones makes some major blunders – from a misguided affair to online dating disasters. But can heartbreak actually be the best thing that ever happened to her?

Friday Jones is distraught when Liam, her husband of nearly twenty years and the father of their teenage daughters, tells her their marriage is over. Still heartbroken many months later, Friday is deeply flattered when a funny, handsome man takes an interest in her. From their very first kiss, Friday finds it difficult to control her attraction for him despite numerous warning signals.

When Friday’s best friend, Rosie, discovers Friday is risking further emotional pain she convinces her to end the relationship and join a dating website. But not long after Friday dives into the world of online romance she starts taking wrong turns. Could one of her flings have become a little too obsessed with her? And has the time come to step back and take a good look at where she’s going in life?

Release day: All that Sparkles

23 April 2015

Today is the official release of All that Sparkles by Claire Boston (ebook, Momentum Books). Here’s the blurb:

All That SparklesImogen Fontaine is living every girl’s dream.

She is a fashion designer for her family’s haute couture label, lives in a mansion, has a great circle of friends and is the apple of her father’s eye. Everything is perfect.

Until the day that Christian, the boy at the center of her childhood heartbreak, walks back into her life.

From there her life starts to unravel, as long-kept secrets are revealed. Imogen learns that her past was built on lies and betrayal, shattering the illusion of her perfect existence. She must seek out the truth if she has any hope of forging a new path for herself and discovering true freedom.

But can she convince Christian that there is a place for him in her new life?

Claire dropped by today to tell us a little about this book:

All that Sparkles is book 2 of the Texan Quartet. I was thrilled when my publisher wanted more books in the What Goes on Tour world as I really didn’t want to leave Libby, Adrian and Kate behind. In All that Sparkles you’ll get to see what is happening with the characters from book 1 and meet a new couple—Imogen and Christian. Imogen has lived a very protected life. Her father is a wealthy fashion designer and she grew up in a mansion, went to private school where her friends were approved by her father, and has a job in the family business. Despite this upbringing she remains relatively grounded, if maybe a little naïve. She must confront this naivety and all she thinks she knows when Christian walks back into her life.

You can find out more about this book at Claire’s website or find buy links at Momentum Books.

Release day: McKellan’s Run

22 April 2015

Today is the official release of McKellan’s Run by Nicole Hurley-Moore (paperback and ebook, Allen & Unwin). Here’s the blurb:

McKellan's RunViolet Beckett once made the mistake of falling for the wrong McKellan brother. Now, eight years later, fate has brought Violet back to her home town with her daughter, Holly.

As soon as Violet runs into Charlie ‘Mac’ McKellan, she wonders if she should run all the way back to the city. But something about him makes her want to linger. Can she trust him, can she trust herself or will she be burned again?

Charlie McKellan has had a soft spot for Violet Beckett for longer than he can remember. It almost killed him to watch his brother woo her, use her and finally lose her. From his very first encounter with Violet he’s hooked. But how can he convince her that not all McKellans are the same?

Nicole dropped by today to tell us a little about this book:

I live in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The landscape is filled with bush, quaint towns, sheep farms and the old goldfields. I find the location inspiring and used the area as the backdrop to my Australian rural romance, McKellan’s Run. It’s the story of two people that should have always been together but life and circumstance have kept Mac and Violet apart. Generally, what we want and who we love is never as straightforward as it should be. But sometimes if you’re lucky, you can give love a second chance. 

You can find out more about this book at Nicole’s website.

Release day: Spiritbound

22 April 2015

Today is the official release of Spiritbound by Dani Kristoff (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

SpiritboundThe Sydney coven is suffering from a man drought – some witches complain, and some witches just get creative.

Grace lives with her cousin Elena and her mother Elvira, and life is pretty damn fine, barring the warlock drought that has the coven’s younger witches a bit itchy. Grace isn’t worried – even if a suitable warlock were available, he wouldn’t be interested in Grace. Ever since she raised her dead cat as a child, Grace’s necromancy skills have put everyone around her on edge.

Then her childhood beau, Declan Mallory, returns from overseas. He’s a battlemage and hot property. To Grace’s dismay, she is but one face among many as the coven witches pull out all the stops to attract the tall, dark and handsome warlock’s attention. Fortunately their childhood friendship still holds some sway, and Grace and Declan soon find themselves reconnecting on all sorts of levels. But there are dark secrets in the coven, and Declan’s family is determined to shut their relationship down. But Grace has finally found her warlock, and she is not giving him up without a fight: not to the bitch-witches, not to his family, and certainly not to the past.

Dani dropped by today to tell us a little about this book:

Hi! Spiritbound was lovely to write. I love this story so much. It is a prequel to Bespelled, featuring Elena’s cousin Grace. It’s still witches in Balmain, Sydney, but a little raunchy with a hint of a bigger urban fantasy setting. Grace makes me smile and I hope she will make you smile too.

You can find out more about this book at Dani’s website or find buy links at Escape Publishing.

Release day: The Falls

22 April 2015

Today is the official release of The Falls by Cathryn Hein (paperback and ebook, Penguin Australia). Here’s the blurb:

The FallsFor as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

The Falls is an uplifting story of healing and hope from the author of Promises, Heart of the Valley, Heartland and Rocking Horse Hill.

Cathryn dropped by today to tell us a little about this book:

As well as being a wonderful romance set against some gorgeous NSW countryside, The Falls also covers pretty serious topics, including family breakdown and depression. With the heartbreak Teagan and her family have endured, a journey toward happy-ever-after was never going to be easy. To temper that I felt it was important that readers enjoy a few laughs along the way. Enter Teagan’s glamorous, if slightly eccentric, Aunt Vanessa, a bunch of quirky villagers, a struggling cricket club, and a ram hell-bent on farm domination. Oh, and to complement the main romance between Teagan and Lucas, there are two more side romances to enjoy. Three for the price of one! The Falls is an emotional rollercoaster of a story, with plenty of romance, serious family drama, a heart-thumping climax, and lots of laughs. I hope readers have as much fun with it as I did.

You can find out more about this book at Cathryn’s website or buy it from Booktopia.

All ARRA members who leave a comment on this post will go in the draw to win a copy of the book. The giveaway will close on 6 May 2015.

 

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