Thursday, February 13, 2020

Being part of it: the online writing community


You have friends in every corner of the world; people as diverse as the places in which they live. You all have one thing in common: a love of writing.

Look up #WritingCommunity on Twitter and you’ll see the big picture: writers, writers everywhere! All talking about their writing, or prevaricating about writing or shouting about their books or even sometimes ‘shamelessly promoting someone else’.

It’s a big pond to play in.

But scale it down. Find a quieter corner.

What I want to share with you is my experience of belonging to a community; of gathering a group of online writing friends around you and of sharing encouragement and support.

I hang out in a small corner of the blogosphere via the wordpress platform. If you want to know about the technicalities, there’s plenty of ‘how to’ info out there on the interweb.

Way back in 2012 I set up my blogsite, purely as somewhere to store the short stories I’d written. Then, two years ago, when I started working from home doing social media stuff for a handful of clients and concentrating seriously on writing novels, as a bit of light relief, I began posting flash fiction pieces on the site.

I was pretty amazed that people took the time to read and comment… and say nice things. Suddenly I began to have a following.

And so I reciprocated. I read other people’s posts on the wordpress reader and commented on them. Before long, we had become a little community. We often write to prompt posted by someone else: a photo or a random word. We all come back and share. It’s become a virtual writing group.

Not everyone in our group aspires to be a published writer. Some do, some already are. Some just write for fun (well, I guess we all do that). Some post more frequently than others. People dip in and dip out like in any group. But there’s a hard core of folk who are always there, those I could sit down and share a coffee and a chat with, the ones I call my ‘virtual’ friends.

Within a year, I’d acquired many, many more contacts. The blog is linked to Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and, more recently, to Instagram. It provides me with a springboard to launch my work, and I’m selling an increasing number of my books as a result. However for me, it’s the participation and support of my virtual writing group that’s most important.

Writers are such nice people, aren’t they?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Essence of Attraction - Part Three

In my first two posts, I outlined six important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mystery, desireconfidence, unpredictability, challenge and social status.

Another crucial element when it comes to creating attraction between a couple is likeability. Now I’m not saying that the hero and heroine will necessarily like one another all the time. In most romance novels, sparks are usually flying, and it is fair to say that the hero and heroine don’t always see eye to eye on matters. But in a good romance novel, the hero and heroine will often find themselves liking each other – even if it is against their will.

Leading on from this is the idea of humour as an import aspect of attraction. In a heated discussion between the hero and heroine, what often diffuses the scene, and also adds to the likeability factor between the two characters is humour. Nothing is more likely to create a buzz between your two main characters than some humorous exchanges.

Humour and intelligence are often linked, and when two characters connect, it is because they have an appreciation for each other’s mind or way of thinking. This is a very important element of attraction because if two characters cannot connect on an intellectual level, then they’re doomed as a romantic couple… just think of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice for a telling example of a couple who were mismatched intellectually. If the heroine never catches the hero’s jokes, or she finds him an inferior intellectually, any attraction between the two will fizzle out after a while, and die.

Mr and Mrs Bennet from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

Now I’ll come to the final element of attraction. As it is the most obvious element, I’ve left till last. And it is... physical attraction! The hero and heroine must find each other physically attractive otherwise the relationship will never get off the ground, let alone approach anywhere near an altar.

Do you have any other aspects of attraction you’d like to add to my list? If so, please leave a comment.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Essence of Attraction – Part Two

In my previous post, I outlined three important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mysterydesire and confidence.

Another important aspect for creating attraction between a man and a woman is unpredictability. At the beginning of a relationship the hero shouldn’t be able to predict the heroine’s behaviour, and vice versa. This generates romantic tension in a relationship, which creates an interesting dynamic between the hero and heroine. Of course, as the romance progresses the main characters will become more familiar with each other, in that they’ll start to know each other better, but this shouldn’t make them predictable.

What adds to the attraction between a man and a woman is some sort of challenge. The hero should find the heroine challenging in some way. Even if you’ve created a meek and mild heroine, something in her demeanour should challenge the hero. For instance, the hero might find it exciting to see if he can discover whether passion lurks beneath the quiet surface of the heroine; or he might try and find out why she behaves in a particular manner with certain people while behaving quite differently around him…

The heroine should also find the hero challenging – either to her ideas about love and life in general, or something in his personality should intrigue her to get to know him better.

Social status is another important aspect of attraction. This doesn’t mean that the hero must be a powerful, wealthy character, but he should be able to command some sort of respect from the people around him. It boils down to a natural authority the hero should command, to be well… a hero! A similar thing applies to a heroine – she should have aspects of her character that other people admire because think about it – if no one in the book likes and respects her, why would a reader bother to spend time with her between the covers of a book?

In my next post, I’ll continue to elaborate on this theme.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Essence of Attraction – Part One

When you write a romance novel, the attraction between the hero and heroine needs to crackle off the pages in order to drive the story forward. So how do you set about creating this sort of chemistry?

An important aspect of attraction is mystery… the hero and the heroine need to spend time wondering about each other. A good way to create mystery in a novel is to have short, sparkling scenes of dialogue between the hero and heroine, interspersed with scenes where the main characters reflect about their interactions with the other person. The more they wonder about each other and try and figure each other out, the more they will become attracted to each other.

Another important aspect of attraction is desire… in order to keep the desire building between the hero and heroine, you should create obstacles between them that need to be overcome. This applies particularly to the hero of a novel, because the more he has to work for the heroine, the more he will appreciate her. Heroes in romance novels are often Alpha Males, who have the world (and most women) at their feet. That’s why it’s so important for men of this ilk to work hard for the heroine because heroes who have it all need to be shaken out of their complacency if they’re ever to fall properly in love.

The third important aspect of attraction is confidence… even if you’ve created a shy, retiring female character she needs to have some element of confidence in herself if she is ever to be a believable romantic heroine. If a heroine has no self-belief, it will be hard for the reader to believe in her and her love for the hero – it’ll appear to be a wishy-washy kind of thing without form or substance. The hero also needs to portray confidence in a romantic relationship so that the heroine (and the reader!) will fall in love with him. Just as a man leads a woman when they are dancing, in the same way, a man’s confidence will either sweep a woman off her feet if it is present or cause her (and the romance) to stumble if it is not.

In my next post, I will elaborate on other important elements of attraction, which are vital for a romance to be believable.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Two Things Every Christmas Romance Needs

Last year this time, I had two Christmas romances out. I'm writing another Christmas romance this month. All of these things have fooled me into thinking I’m an expert on Christmas romances. (I absolutely know I’m not, but it’s better for this post if I pretend to be.) So today, I’m sharing two things every Christmas romance should have!

The Christmas Thing
As you can tell from the descriptive title of this paragraph, I truly am expert on Christmas ;-) Seriously though, I’ve used the vague term thing because Christmas means different things to people around the world. For the most part, people associate Christmas with snow. Cue the romances with beautiful white covers and mistletoe kisses.

But let me tell you – this doesn’t mean anything in my part of the world. Snow is rare in South Africa, and mistletoe is only something we see in movies. Which means that my Christmas thing is different to the more traditional Christmas romances. To clarify (although honestly, how much clearer than a thing can I be?), your Christmas romance should have something that makes your readers feel like it’s Christmas. In HER FESTIVE FLIRTATION, that thing is my hero and heroine decorating a Christmas tree together. In A WEDDING ONE CHRISTMAS, it's a Christmas parade and a Nativity play. Make sure you have it, and your Christmas romance is closer to being just that.

The Christmas Kiss
Christmas Kisses are a Thing, okay? Despite the fact that there’s no mistletoe in South Africa. But mistletoe is a really good way of introducing the Christmas Kiss, and it’s a fan favourite. So, if it’s a thing where you live, go for it! But if it isn’t, you still have to embrace the Christmas Kiss. It’s that magical kiss that seems like it’s made possible by the festive season. The moment the Christmas lights go on and the couple realise it’s Christmas and the attraction flares. Or when the hero buys the perfect Christmas present for the heroine and the emotion builds.

You have to make your reader feel like it’s Christmas, and these are two easy ways to do so!

From the ROSA Blog Team, we're wishing all our ROSA members (and everyone else!) a very happy festive season!

You can find Therese Beharrie on Twitter or Facebook!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

ROSA's 2020 Cape Retreat

Date: 28-29 March 2020

Venue: Set within the heart of the Cape Winelands between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, Klein Welmoed Wine & Olive Estate offers breathtaking views, luxurious accommodation, and tranquil surroundings.

The retreat: Two full days of fun, informative and inspiring talks and workshops, networking and writing sessions. There will be a wine and olive tasting/talk with sunset canap├ęs and drinks on the Saturday evening, followed by dinner. (Guest speakers and full program to be announced at a later stage.) Space is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Member Fees:
R745 for Saturday only
R450 for Sunday only

Non-member fees:
R825 for Saturday only
R500 for Sunday only

Saturday evening dinner: On the evening of Saturday 28 March, there will once again be a dinner, an opportunity to network and socialise with other delegates. Partners are also welcome to attend. The dinner will also take place at Klein Welmoed, and costs R245 per person.

Accommodation: The estate offers beautiful and luxurious accommodation, including breakfast. Olive Cottage and Shiraz cottage are two modern and spacious cottages, each with 2 bedrooms with twin beds in each room and 2 bathrooms, perfect for 4 guests sharing a cottage. There are also four lovely guest rooms available in the Manor house which are suitable for single or sharing (twin beds). Please note that space is limited and March is high season for the estate, so although they have offered preferential rates to our members, they cannot hold the rooms indefinitely. If you’d like accommodation, please book asap. To confirm your room or to enquire about cost/details/availability of accommodation, please contact Karin at and mention that you’re attending the ROSA writing retreat.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Conference Report from Lydia Gittens

Our final post on ROSACon2019 is from one of this year's scholarship recipients, Lydia Gittens. Thank you Lydia for sharing your experience with us!

* * *

A mere two and a half weeks have passed since the Rosa conference and I am still on cloud nine. Ask my poor colleagues they will confirm this.

My personal highlight? Everything. Okay I know that’s a bit of a cop-out. So let’s start at the beginning. The venue was beautiful. I felt like a Cinderella stepping into the prince’s castle. The food and snacks were fantastic.

The goody bag ROSA gave us was like having Christmas in September. The books are great and the treats ... need I say more.

But in all honesty it was the people that made this conference the success that it was. I want to start with my fellow conference goers. You guys are great. As a newbie I learned so much just from our informal chats around tea-times and mealtimes. Being able to network and just getting the nitty gritty (the do’s and don’ts) from those that have walked the hard and often lonely road to publishing a novel. Thank you for your willingness to share your journey with me and for the encouragement and warnings you gave me.

Moving on to the presentations: I can’t single out any presenters they were all very professional, interesting and loads of fun. I learned about things I knew nothing about. Such as: The challenging world of self-publishing. What it means to have an agent and how to obtain one. How to use social media effectively? To name just a few. The presentations literally covered most of the topics I as a newbie wanted to learn about.

I want to give a BIG shout out and a big THANK YOU to everyone at ROSA for gifting me with the scholarship. Making it possible for me to attend a conference that I know has and will impact my writing career from now and into the future.

Lydia Gittens
7 October 2019
(PS Watch out for my name thanks to ROSA CON 2019 you just might see it in the print)