RWA 2013 Ella Winner Carolyn Wren Joins Me for Coffee

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers!
It is my honour to introduce the amazing and talented Carolyn Wren all the way from the Land Down Under. She is not only a fellow Sweet Cravings Publishing author, but also a Multi-award winning writer, having just won the 2013 "Ella" from Romance Writers of Australia for The Protectors Book 1, Diplomat’s Daughter - and this after winning the Emerald Award in 2012! How about that for an endorsement? PLUS she is giving away TWO COPIES of her award-winning novella! Just leave a comment below and include your email address so she can notify you when you win!

She has dropped by for coffee to tell us all about her experience at the RWA Conference and what it was like to hear her name called. Maybe someday I'll be so lucky! One thing I know for certain: Carolyn Wren is sure to become one of your favourite writers of the year!
~Colette


How I survived the RWA 2013 conference…and won a beautiful trophy.

 

Two years ago, when I found out the Romance Writers of Australia were holding their annual conference in my home state for the very first time in August 2013, I immediately put my hand up to be part of the committee.

I’d only joined the RWA 2 weeks prior to this, and my publishing career was nonexistent.  I was wide eyed and innocent, with a bunch of manuscripts on my desktop unread by anyone except me.  The following year, I won the 2012 RWA Emerald Category award for best unpublished book at their annual conference in Queensland Australia.  I was over the moon with excitement, and utter shock.  A seven book contract with Secret Cravings Publishing quickly followed.  I turned into one very busy author. 

2013 became a blur of edits, book releases and conference planning.  My conference portfolio consisted of the Saturday Evening Gala Awards Night, a very prestigious affair.  Three weeks before the conference, my 5th book was released.  1 week before the conference, the pre-edits revisions on my 6th book were due.  By the weekend of the conference, having survived on 4-5 hours a sleep per night for the last month, I wasn’t even sure of my own name!

Add to that, I had two pitch appointments on Saturday afternoon, a mere 5 hours before the Gala Awards, for another manuscript, a mammoth, complex, ensemble cast, paranormal
novel, quite different to anything I’d had published before.  Planning this pitch, a seven minute face to face meeting with a publishing executive, was on my list of priorities, alas my list of priorities kept getting longer and longer.  So it was, that I found myself at the hotel for the conference, with a mere 20 minutes to go before my pitch session…and realized I had left the pitch paperwork at home.  My entire hotel room was strewn with thousands of pieces of paper relating to my Gala Awards Night planning, and not a single piece of information for my pitch.

Picture this…It’s 1.45pm – my pitch appointments were at 2.05pm and 2.30pm – There was no pen in my room because I had taken it down to the conference office area together with my notepad, and left them there.  The only things at my disposal were a lead pencil the size of a matchstick, and the paper blotting sheet on the hotel room desk.  I was scribbling madly, whilst holding the cell phone tucked into my shoulder trying to solve a disputed delivery time with the caterers for the cakes for the Gala Awards night.  The maid was banging on my hotel door insisting I needed to check out, I’m trying to argue I had 2 more days left on my booking… 

If I wrote this comedic scene in a book, no one would believe it.

I presented myself to the publishers in question with my pencil scribbled blotter, and a harried expression on my face, and decided the truth was my best option.  ‘Hello.  I’m a conference committee member and I left my pitch at home.  I’m sorry but I’m just going to wing this.’

The first publisher asked for 3-5 chapters and a full synopsis.  The second publisher asked for a full manuscript.  I still haven’t recovered from my surprise.  Whatever happens, I am keeping my pencil scribbled blotter as a souvenir.

The Gala Night TableFast forward a few hours to the Gala Awards night.  I knew I was a finalist for the ‘Ella,’ the 2013 Novella of the Year Award for my debut book, The Protectors Book 1, Diplomat’s Daughter.  I never in my wildest dreams expected to win.  The months leading up to the event had been very amusing, with the entire conference committee determined to keep the result from me, despite the fact I was organizing the event!  My series is about Secret Agents.  Nothing I’ve ever written about could compare to the cloak and dagger secrecy employed by my compatriots.  I even had to write out four winner’s envelopes, one with the name of each finalist, and the actual winner’s envelope was carefully hidden away, together with the engraved trophy, well out of my sight. 

When they called my name as winner, I almost couldn’t stand to go on stage and collect the trophy, my legs were so shaky.  It was the perfect, unexpected ending to a crazy, manic, amazing, chaotic day.  The grinning faces of my conference team members, who had kept the secret with such brilliant skill, was the highlight of the night. 

There you have it.  The whole conference, including the Gala Awards Night, was a great success.  And I have the most stunning writing trophy sitting in my cabinet. All the hard work and 2 years of solid planning were totally worth it.

If anyone would like to read Diplomat’s Daughter, the Winner of the 2013 Novella of the Year, I am offering 2 giveaway copies. Leave a comment below with your email for your chance to win!
Keep up with Carolyn on her website and blog:
www.carolynwren.com


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