Goodness, gracious me!

Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBAs)



GRAND PRIZE WINNER for Romantic Fiction



Did you see what I did there? In my last blog post I mentioned that The House at Ladywell was a semi-finalist in the prestigious CIBA Book Awards and that the finalists and prize winners were to be announced at a Grand Banquet in Bellingham in Washington State on 27th April. Well, after some discussion the Resident Engineer and I decided we’d take a trip to the Pacific North West coast of the USA, so accordingly we flew into Seattle, rented a car and drove about ninety miles north to Bellingham, a pretty port that’s just on the US side of the border with Canada.

It’s such a beautiful part of the world, with the Pacific on one side and mountains on the other, as well as delightfully friendly people. We’d had a stopover a couple of years ago, in Vancouver, but that was autumn and the weather was wet and chilly; this time, the weather was wonderful and the air was sparkling and pure. We explored the countryside and visited the extensive tulip fields – surprisingly, that part of the world is second only to the Netherlands when it comes to tulip growing.

There was a cocktail party followed by the Grand Banquet on the Saturday so we scrubbed up accordingly and tucked in to our dinner – and I, unfortunately, forgot all about taking photos. I knew that there had been thousands of entries and that the awards were divided into several different categories. My publisher, Stephanie Patterson of Crooked Cat Books, and I, had decided that The House at Ladywell looked a good fit for Romantic Fiction and as I’ve reported previously – during the last year I was chuffed to find I’d escaped the Slush Pile, jumped out of the Long List in to first the Short List and then the Semi-Finals, all of which was very exciting and I really didn’t expect to get any further.

So there I was, happily diving in to my rather nice dinner when the Finalists of the Chatelaine Romantic Fiction Award were announced, with me among them. Wow! Off I went to collect my posh blue rosette and some techie-looking vouchers (still don’t understand them) and back to my table, covered in confusion and feeling stunned but slightly smug.

Apart from clapping other people enthusiastically I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the rest of the speeches because I was admiring my blue ribbon and thinking how clever I was, when I realised there was an expectant silence – whereupon the Engineer nudged me from one side, and the author on my other side did the same, and they both said: ‘It’s you!’ And what I was, it appeared, was the Grand Prize Winner in my category!  As the Resident Engineer said later, ‘It’s not often Nicky is lost for words!’


You know at the Oscars, the presenter opens an envelope – with a drum roll? This slightly crumpled notice on gold paper is what was in the envelope for my award announcement!





There’ll be photos, etc, soon from Chanticleer, the fabulous people who run the awards, and I’ll post some of my ‘what I did on my holiday‘ photos too, but in the meantime, here’s a handsome beastie. We visited an amazing reserve (North West Trek) when we left Bellingham and returned to Seattle for four nights. Hundreds of acres dedicated to native wild animals, including grey wolves, elk, bears and a herd of bison. This extremely large and elderly gent was lounging around as we went past in an electric tram and he wasn’t at all bothered by the intrusion. Elsewhere that morning a bison calf had been born but although we drove past the mother, she certainly wasn’t going to show off her baby to any passing strangers.

Soon there’ll be a shiny gold sticker on The House at Ladydwell and, I believe, some reviews it gathered along the way to the awards, but meantime, here’s a link to buy it (tell your friends!)

4 thoughts on “Goodness, gracious me!

  1. Many congratulations on the book award Nicola – very well deserved!! I just logged onto your site by chance and saw the good news in your Blog. That must have been quite an experience for you! Sounds as if you had a great trip altogether, and the award must really be the icing on the cake.
    I must admit I’d not realised that the tulip tradition had spread from Ottawa to the Pacific areas of both Canada and the USA, though I knew that the Dutch royal family had been evacuated here during WWII and Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa.

  2. You’re right, Alison. The Dutch royal family was evacuated to Canada in WW2 and the then Princess Juliana gave birth to her third child while they were there. The Canadian government decreed that the wing of the hospital where Princess Margriet was born was – for that occasion – Dutch territory! The bulbs were sent as a thank you and have become a big part of the local economy – it’s big business and the open day we went to was heaving with people. (I google so you don’t have to!)

  3. I’ve an idea it’s something to do with the Dutch royal family having lived in Canada – the two countries “bonded” and a lot of Dutch people moved there, the Dutch royals sent a load of tulips to Ottawa (a bit like the Norwegian Christmas tree in London!), but they grew better on the Pacific side of Canada than in Ontario, and the idea must have spread across the border into the US. I’m sure I was told something like that in British Columbia, anyway!

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