Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Ooh, I do love a good get-together and the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne didn’t disappoint. It was a weekend packed with panels, gala events, keynote speakers and socialising. Everyone had a ball, from authors to readers to industry.

Hanging with your tribe… honestly, there’s nothing quite so affirming and though I came home absolutely stuffed I’m still on a high. ARRA events are loaded with positivity and warmth, but that should come as no surprise. We’re romance fans!

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the organising committee: Debbie Phillips, Heather Kopp, Diane Robson, Pamela Diaz and Juliette Arthur. You created an amazing event that I hope you’re very proud of.

The ARRC 2017 organising committee.

My heartfelt thanks to the ARRC organising committee. Three cheers, huge applause and a big champagne toast to you all.

My sincere thanks also to the ARRA committee and to all the volunteers involved in the running of ARRC 2017.

I have so many highlights I don’t know where to start but I enjoyed the screening of the Love Between the Covers documentary about the billion dollar romance fiction industry hugely. I think I’m going to have to buy a copy so I can watch it again.

Keynote speakers Courtney Milan, Kylie Scott and Kristen Callihan were also wonderful to listen to. I love hearing about other writers’ lives and journeys, and how they approach their books. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Hot Choc Mark IIThe booksigning was a hoot, as always, and it was great to chat to so many readers, some of whom were new to me and some who now feel like old friends. Everyone laughed at the new, improved Hot Chocolate and he didn’t break down once. I think we might be on a winner with this little-but-loud horsey mascot.

The Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner was a wonderful night, and I was so thrilled for Anne Gracie who pretty much swept the pool. The Summer Bride and the Chance Sisters series were truly gorgeous and her wins were well deserved. You can find a full list of the finalists here and all the winners here.

I was even more thrilled when Wayward Heart won favourite cover. That was so cool! I love that cover to bits and it was such a rush to find others love it too. Thanks to everyone who voted for it. Enormous thanks also to editor Rachael Donovan for going with the idea and the Harlequin designers for their outstanding layout. If you missed the blog post where Wayward Heart’s cover model Kate Swan reveals all about the shoot and her sexy partner Jack, you’ll find it here. It’s great fun.

I was a bit slack on the photo taking front this time – too busy talking! But I managed to snap a few on my phone. Not the best of quality (sorry) but one thing all the photos show is what a brilliant event this was and the terrific time everyone had.

Enjoy!

Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Keynote Speakers

Courtney Milan's keynote address at ARRC was excellent.

Courtney Milan’s keynote address at ARRC was excellent. I particularly enjoyed her comments about issues such as cultural appropriation and diversity in romance.

Keynote speaker at ARRC17 Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott knows what kind of images turn romance readers on!

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.

Booksigning

Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur at ARRC 17

Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster at ARRC17

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster

Emily Madden at ARRC17

Emily Madden

Fiona Lowe at ARRC17

Fiona Lowe

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair at ARRC17

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair

Kylie Scott at ARRC17

Kylie Scott

Lisa Ireland at ARRC17

Lisa Ireland

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson at ARRC17

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet at ARRC17

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis at ARRC17

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis

TM Clark at ARRC17

TM Clark

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott at ARRC17

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott

Harlequin Author Drinks

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Australian Romance Reader Awards Dinner

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. ARRC17

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. Love those cowboy boots!

Meeting reader Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner.

I was delighted to meet fan Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner. That was a great moment.

Wayward Heart's Favourite Cover Award.

Wayward Heart’s Favourite Cover Award. Wheee!

Panels and Other Miscellany

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating.

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating. I enjoyed this a lot. Everyone had insightful comments and I was fascinated by Pamela’s mention of the controversy around her Hendra virus themed book Close To Home. I was also lucky enough to win a copy of Charlotte’s The Horseman. Rah!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower.

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower by husband and wife team Gillie and Marc. They also created the pit pony at Collinsville, some of the sculptures at Finger Wharf that I also featured on the blog, and the wonderful buried rhino at last year’s Sculpture by the Sea.

Lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson's new restaurant Long Chim at Crown.

The leftovers of lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson’s new restaurant Long Chim at Crown. Amaaaaazing. The Sydney version in Angel Place is now in my sights cos as we all know, a girl can never indulge in enough lunches!

I hope you enjoyed this look at the weekend. If you’d like to join the Australian Romance Readers Association and have opportunities like this to hang with friendly, like-minded people then please check out the ARRA website.

 

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