Roving Romaniacs Meet Kirstie Allsopp & Go To A Party

Celia, Laura, Vanessa, Kirstie, Catherine & Debbie
Celia, Laura, Vanessa, Kirstie, Catherine & Debbie

Thursday 19th May 2016 was a big day for The Romaniacs, but particularly for Catherine Miller. Catherine’s debut novel, Waiting For You, was nominated for the prestigious Joan Hessayon Award, the winner of which was to be announced that evening in London at the Romantic novelists’ Association’s Summer Party.

The day began with five Romaniacs and Mr Miller departing from various parts of the country, all heading for our favourite London hotel. After a quick catch-up and a change into our multipurpose daywear/eveningwear frocks, we took a taxi to our second port of call that day – Kirstie Allsopp’s house. For afternoon tea. As one does.

Our Catherine is masterful when it comes to winning competitions and tea with Kirstie Allsopp was first prize in a competition run by Home Start, ‘a national family support charity that helps parents to build better lives for their children.’

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The second port of call was the RNA’s Summer Party, where we met up with our writing friends and colleagues and celebrated our debut novelists whose books had been through the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and achieved publication. Our congratulations to everyone nominated and to the over-all winner, Clare Harvey.

Here are our memories of that busy, fun day.

Laura: What an incredible day. First of all, I’d like to thank Catherine for inviting me to share her prize – meeting Kirstie Allsopp was a wonderful experience. And what a lovely family and house she has. I found Kirstie to be warm, charming, funny and very down-to-earth. The evening was wonderful, too, catching up with writing friends, cheering on our debut novelists and meeting a few of our street team Sparklers. I got to bed at 02:00, but what an amazing day.

Vanessa: It was SUCH a fabulous day. It always is catching up with my lovely fellow Romaniacs, but this time with the added bonus of meeting Kirstie and getting to drink lots of prosecco in her beautiful home – and see her shoes! So many beautiful shoes… The evening was amazing, as always: I always love the RNA parties because they give me the chance to meet up with fellow writers in the most glamorous and friendly of environments. The prosecco headache the next day was totally worth it! Shoes

Debbie: I’ll confess; Kirstie is my ‘girl crush!’ I’ve long admired her so was very excited when Catherine invited me along.FullSizeRender (4) Bubbly, cake and laughter all afternoon – what could be better? Kirstie was so welcoming and every bit as warm and lovely as she appears on TV. The evening was great fun too and super, as always, to catch up with my RNA writer friends. My jaws ached more than usual the following day having spent the whole day and evening grinning from ear to ear, laughing and chatting! IMG_0437

 

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Celia: This was a very special day for us all, and for me it marked the start of a new chapter. Retiring from work will give me time to meet more writing people and catch up with the Romaniacs more often, so the party and the fabulous Kirstie visit  were a great way to celebrate the next stage. My husband worked as a brewers’ scientist for years and the Allsopp family of brewers are a big part of Burton-on-Trent’s heritage so spotting all the memorabilia on her walls was interesting. Seeing our lovely Catherine in the JH line up was even more heart-warming – as the oldest Romaniac, that was definitely a  proud mummy moment, and her wonderful Dan put up with a hoard of over-excited women very bravely all day too and was chief photographer to boot!

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Winning Ways With Words

There are lots of writing competitions out there for short stories, and unpublished novels, etc, often with an entry fee. They are well worth entering and any success that may come with them will really add to your writing CV.

I love entering competitions to the point I’d class it as my biggest hobby and I’m not just talking about writing competitions, I’m on about all sorts. I can pinpoint the exact moment I found out filling out forms and entering was really worthwhile. It was back in 2007 when we went to a wedding fair. At a budget talk they mentioned trying to win wedding prizes to try and save money. I went home, looked up wedding competitions and came across a website that linked to prize draws. I spent a few evenings entering. Six weeks later, I had a phone call, which to this day, I’m still stunned by. First the radio station rang to check I was available to answer the phone and reminded me I’d entered to win a holiday to Australia, and that could I wait by the phone because they would ring me back within ten minutes to let me know if I’d won! When they did ring, I was so sure they would ask me a question which I would get wrong, I was stunned into silence when they told me I was off to see Gwen Stefani in concert in Sydney. (Silence: Not the greatest sound on radio!) That was the first of many great experiences entering competitions has bought me. For that particular competition, I had to tell them why I should win so it involved a small amount of writing effort.

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It was later on I found out any competition involving any kind of effort, be it writing, photography or creative effort, it will attract less entries. So even if they may not bring the same accolades as winning a short story competition, as they don’t have an entry fee, I enter competitions that require some writing effort and I’ve won some amazing prizes as a result.

The top one has to be a car. Yes, you read that right, A CAR! Now this was slightly unusual in that it required you purchased a car in order to go into the prize draw and then you needed to write 150 words as to why you liked that brand of car. We’d upgraded our car when I found out about the competition, and as it required effort, I pushed the boat out and wrote a poem. When the garage called me to say I’d won, I did remember to scream (not too loudly) about it this time!

Car

Of course not all prizes are that big, but even a smaller win can be a real boost. Back in July last year, I was in hospital for two weeks after the birth of the twins and I received an email letting me know I was the runner up in a princess for the day competition. The main prize had been a £500 shopping spree in London, on a specific date, and if I’d won that I would have had to turn it down. The runner-up prize was perfect as it was £50 worth of Palmer’s goodies and as I was rather run down at that point it was a wonderful pick me up. And it all came about because I’d taken the time to write in about how Catherine Miller’s and Catherine Middleton’s pregnancies had differed, and that all mum’s needed to be treated like a princess.

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I haven’t updated my writing CV in a while, but when I do it will include being a mum to twins and winning a car with a poem. Perhaps not traditional items to have on your CV, but certainly talking points. So when you next enter writing competitions, don’t forget to consider non-conventional writing effort required competitions as well. You never know what you might win, and if you twist my arm enough, I’ll share my secrets about how to find out about them.