ARRC2013 was fabulous!
Wow, what a weekend! After 18 months of planning, over 8000 emails and countless hours of coordination, the Australian Romance Readers Convention for 2013 was finally upon us.
The buzz started on Thursday as authors started to arrive, the ‘author stalking in lifts’ began, the excitement was building. On Friday evening, the convention opened with the welcome reception, incorporating Lady Jane’s Salon.
Hosted by US author Hope Tarr, the Salon was the first to be held outside of the US, and has been hailed a success by all who attended. Guest authors Cathy Maxwell, Anna Campbell, Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur had the audience enthralled with their readings.
Following the Salon was our welcome reception, where over 150 readers, authors and industry professionals mingled, chatted and enjoyed ‘celebrity cocktails’ named after our keynote speakers.
An issue with our audiovisual stopped us from announcing the winners—but we’re delighted to report that a group of 11 (plus Kat!) found each other using our ‘book page mixer’, and were rewarded with Tim Tams.
Most delegates arrived bright and early on Saturday morning to check out the trade displays and goodies tables, the morning tea and coffee service was welcomed. The Kobo stand was popular, with bright pink t-shirt giveaways, and lip-shaped lollipops. You could get a kiss (of the chocolate variety) at the Clan Destine Press table, and Booktopia were giving away free Anna Campbell books. The day was off to a great start!
After a warm welcome, the delegates listened with interest as keynote speaker Rachel Vincent explained why grown ups read and write YA fiction, and how YA is every bit as complex and intricate as adult fiction. Before morning tea, Haylee Nash from Harlequin interviewed Kristan Higgins to launch her new book The Best Man.
After morning tea and again after lunch, attendees had the difficult choice of which concurrent session to attend.
On Saturday afternoon the mammoth book-signing event took place. The noise levels were high and the atmosphere was described as ‘electric’. For some authors, this was their first signing event, and the cupcakes provided by Danielle Lisle only added to the sweetness of the moment.
After the book signing, delegates retired to their rooms to ‘bling up’ for the gala dinner and awards. Some lucky entrants in the Kobo competition attended a special cocktail function with Indigo Bloome, where they all won Kobo ereaders.
Most of our authors arrived early at the gala dinner to have a group photo taken, drinks were obtained and seats found.
John from Booktopia opened the proceedings by describing the early days of Booktopia, and thanking romance readers for their support when Booktopia was still a ‘garage operation’.
We then moved on to the business of the night: awards, prizes and bling! For more details on the award winners, please see our previous article here. The members competition winners were announced, with Lillian Noonan taking out both the Author Spotlight and the Pop Quiz. Barbara Evans was recognised for the Reader Challenge, and Aimee Brooker was awarded Member of the Year (MOTY). A special sceptre and ‘tiara’ were awarded to Aimee.
Kate and Kat presided over the now-annual Bling Off, with an impressive line up of sparkling ladies. Two runners up were announced: Nas Dean and Allison Rogers. The winner, Melissa Vella won an impressive prize pack, as well as the official Bling Off tiara.
A delicious meal was enjoyed by all, the music trivia competition kept everyone amused, and the door prize winners were delighted with their book packs and Kobo ereaders. The ‘Anna Campbell’ drinking game (take a drink each time Anna’s name was read out) made sure everyone was merry, including those playing along at home!
After a rather late night, the delegates reconvened to hear keynote author Anne Gracie confess ‘I’m Anne Gracie, and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to heroes!’ Perfectly suited to the Sunday morning crowd, Anne’s address included the reasons why her love of heroes developed (she blames her older sister) and how the tragic tales in Leader of the Pack and The Highway Man led her to find Georgette Heyer, and stories that ended happily. Finishing off her speech with a video montage of historical film and TV heroes set to the pop song I Need a Hero made Anne Gracie the heroine of the morning. After taking questions, Anne made herself even more popular by playing the video for a second time.
Next, Nikki Logan launched her new book How To Get Over Your Ex with a fun quiz about finding your hero type. After morning tea and again after lunch, delegates split into concurrent sessions.
The ARRA AGM was held during the afternoon tea break, after which delegates enjoyed a screening of the trailer for the film Goddess.
Our last keynote address for the weekend was from the delightful Kristan Higgins. Kristan tutored the audience in New England slang, confessed her love of Bondi lifeguards and Aussie firefighters, and explained that we look for romance because it affirms our belief in the world and ourselves, that we deserve to be loved for who we are right now.
In the closing session, we gave away even more book packs, pamper packs and another Kobo ereader. Delegates who had entered the sponsors competitions had the chance to win yet more books from Destiny Romance, tickets to the red-carpet premiere of Goddess, a Kindle from the Total-E-Bound authors, and yet another Kobo! We certainly weren’t short of prizes at this convention; between the prizes and the freebies we hope everyone came away with a nice haul.
The closing session was also our chance to thank everyone who had contributed to the convention, from the readers who purchased a ticket, to the many volunteers who helped everything run so smoothly, and the moderators, authors and industry panellists who provided such good content.
Our keynote speakers deserve a special mention for their entertaining presentations.
The ARRA EC, and adjuncts to the OC—Jen Wu (designer), Trish Springsteen (MC), Brooke Moody (volunteer coordinator) and Kylie Scott (author table coordinator), also deserve our thanks for their efforts.
The ARRC2013 OC: Debbie Phillips, Heather Kopp, Cindy Bukbardis, Evelyn Seeto and Rose Sprinkart are all worthy of medals of honour for their hard work in bringing this event together. Thank you to each of you—my respect for you is great.
Finally—to each and every person whom I have had contact with during my time as Convention Coordinator—thank you for making this role such a joy to fulfil. To everyone who attended, you made this convention a success—I hope to see you at ARRC2015 for another fun-filled weekend. I can’t wait!
Convention Coordinator, ARRC2013
[Plus huge kudos to Debbie Jay who was an outstanding coordinator, especially given her pregnancy and then a newborn. We all stand in awe of her! –ARRA Inc]