The 2015 ETO A Writer’s History
I’d like to begin this post by offering huge, gigantic congratulations to my dear friend and author extraordinaire, Kay Jaybee, who won the ETO 2015 Best Erotic Author Award. In spite of insurmountable obstacles and a way less than pleasant day Kay Jaybee rocked it!
I’m just home from my third ETO show and awards banquet. Kay Jaybee’s much-deserved win of ETO’s Best Erotic Author Award for 2015 has got me reflecting on the past three years of coming together for the awards banquet and the celebration of all things erotic. It was three years ago that ETO added a Best Erotic Author category to its annual awards banquet. Kay Jaybee and I were lucky enough to have been nominated for that first ETO Best Erotic Author Award back in 2013. It was a beginning in so many ways. The Brit Babes had just been conceived. The eight of us were becoming fast friends and steadfast supporters of each other’s efforts to get our stories out to a wider audience, and to remind readers that there are WAY more than fifty shades of erotica.
I remember that first show being such a whirlwind event. It all happened so fast. Raymond and I drove down from Scarborough that Sunday morning after having participated in and thoroughly enjoyed the first ever Smut By the Sea event organized by Brit Babe, Victoria Blisse and her totally amazing husband, Kev. Once in Birmingham, we met Kay Jaybee and Mr. Jaybee in the lounge of the Crown Plaza Hotel with just enough time for a quick drink before we put on our glad rags and made our way to the Champaign reception – me teetering on shiny killer heels that were a danger to myself and everyone around me. (This is a chick who lives in walking shoes and trainers when I’m not barefoot.)
Though the ETO Show had been going on for awhile, this was the first year the award for Best Erotic Author was offered. I remember, Kay Jaybee and I were round-eyed with excitement and over the moon to even be considered, as we headed downstairs to the reception and the banquet room of the Crown Plaza. We cheered for Sh! Women’s Store, who took away the Best Innovative Shop Award. We cheered Xcite Books for Best Erotic Publisher, We cheered for Cara Sutra, who took away the Best Erotic Journalist Award. We cheered for Love Honey and Sex Toys UK and for so many of the lovely folks our writing had brought us in contact with, and then the moment came … And went … It was the middle of the 50SoG craze, first wave, so we were up against some lady named E L James – don’t know if you’re familiar with her ??? She won the award to no one’s surprise. Kay and I looked around to see if we could catch a glimpse of her, but she was nowhere to be found. So, we shrugged, went upstairs to the bar at the Crown Plaza and partied with all our friends – old and new. The way we both figured it, we were winners anyway to have been considered at all, and to have been in such grand company for the evening.
2014’s ETO was a totally different animal. There were three, count ‘em THREE Brit Babes nominated for Best Erotic Author 2014. Lucy Felthouse joined Kay Jaybee and me among the nominees, and we Babes were well-supported by Lexie Bay, Tabitha Rayne and Victoria Blisse, all there to party and celebrate with us. We had a wander around the ETO exhibition hall eating ice cream with flavoured lube, fondling leather floggers and nipple clamps, and admiring outrageous lingerie but mostly just chatting and catching up with all the gossip, and of course working on our ever-expanding plan for world domination.
In 2014 the banquet was moved into the main exhibition hall with more room to
breathe and most importantly, more room to dance. We hopped on a bus at the Crown
Plaza and headed off to the banquet, taking time for a photo op in front of the hotel.
I don’t remember the food. I do remember the conversation was good. I remember cheering on Cara Sutra on to another Best Erotic Journalist Award. I remember cheering on Renee Denyer from Sh! who won the best shop manager award. And then I remember walking onto the stage dazed and in shock when my name was called. I didn’t expect it, which made it all the sweeter. I remember that long after the band stopped playing and we stopped dancing, long after we’d taken the bus back to the Crown Plaza, we sat in the lobby talking writing and dreaming and scheming, me periodically fondling the award just to make sure it was real.
Then 2015 rolled around and the day donned with an ominous portent. Both Kay Jaybee and I were nominated again, and just as Hubby and I were leaving the house for Birmingham, I got a text from Kay saying that she was in the A&E in Worcester with serious leg pain. All through the trip down, we texted back and forth, with her finally on pain killers and on her way to the Crown Plaza, which was closer than home for her, since she and Mr. Jaybee had been having a weekend away for his birthday.
Raymond and I arrived and checked in at our hotel then were off to the exhibition hall where we had a little, but not nearly enough, time with Victoria and Kev Blisse at the Blog Spot booth with Melissa McFarlane. The Blisses were there for ETO, but sadly couldn’t’ stay for the banquet. It’s always a pleasure to see them no matter how brief. Then we were joined by this year’s Brit Babe contingent, Tabitha Rayne and Lexie Bay, who brought along a wonderful surprise. Lily Harlem had been able to join the fun at the last minute.
After meeting up with Ruby Kiddell, watching the lingerie and fetish fashion show, admiring the f@ck machine and talking to a woman who made nipple jewelry among our general explorations, we discovered the free bar, where we ended up drinking wine, talking writing and making more plans for world domination, all the while checking in with Kay via text. Unfortunately, while Kay had arrived at the hotel, she was in no condition to attend the banquet, so we all returned to get ready for the evening saddened that she wouldn’t be there with us. So close, but so far away.
All through the evening, we texted Kay and sent her updates an piccies of what was happening at the banquet. When the meal was over, Dale Bradford, editor of ETO magazine and Lee Schofield, publisher, took the stage to mc the awards. The People Awards, which include Best Erotic Author, are always toward the end of what Lee and Dale have honed and polished to a very tight very pacey event. We all cheered as Sh! won Best Innovative Shop, and we cheered even louder as our wonderful Renee Denyer won Best Shop Manager.
And then it happened, always faster than I’m ready for. It seems I always almost miss it, and have to do a really quick, really subtle instant replay in my mind before I get it. They made the announcement and this year, the winner of the ETO Best Erotic Author Award is the Brit Babes own and totally fabulous Kay Jaybee!
We had already decided if our Kay won, we Brit Babes would collect her award together with loud cheers and cat whistles, which we did, all of us running to the stage, all of us mobbing poor Lee to within an inch of his life, and then our brave Lily Harlem stepped up to the microphone to thank everyone on Kay’s behalf. A quick photo op and we were back to the table, sending photos and texting Kay the great news with trembling fingers.
Sadly, I couldn’t dance this year because the knees are still recovering, but that meant that Raymond and I got the totally pleasurable job of taking Kay’s award and bottle of fizz back to our winner, who met us down in the lobby looking bleary-eyed but happy and leaning very heavily on Mr Jaybee for support.
We had to leave early this morning so Raymond could get back for meetings, texting our good-byes and good wishes to the lovely winner and the rest of the Brit Babes en route on the M40. Since then I’ve been thinking how much it feels like we’ve come full circle in the past three years. We were both winners even when E.L. James won that first year. We were both winners when I won, and we were both winners this year. In fact, we were all winners, celebrating with Kay the accomplishments of all the Brit Babes, and the support and camaraderie we get from each other and from our lovely Street Team. We’re writers, that’s our calling, our passion, and that we can do it and share in the journey with others who do, is definitely a win-win.