ROSA Spotlight: Romy Sommer

In an effort to really get to know each other, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of interviews with fellow ROSA memb...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!


Best wishes to all our community for a joyous holiday season. We hope you get to spend some quality time with those you love the most, and that wherever you are you get sunshine.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Launch day for Nollybooks

Nollybooks is South Africa's first true home-grown English category romance publisher, and today their first titles go on sale. Visit their website for more information on the 13 launch novels, and look out for the books in CNA and other book stores. Please support our local writers!

A special shout out goes to Bronwyn Desjardins and Anthony Ehlers, our lovely fellow ROSA members, who have books releasing through Nollybooks. Bronwyn's book, Lights, Camera, Love is set in the Drakensberg against the glamorous backdrop of a film set, and goes on sale today. Anthony's A Man Worth Knowing will be on sale around Valentine's Day.

If you're interested in writing for Nollybooks, you can find their submission guidelines here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Merry Christmas from Random House


Random House is giving away daily prizes in the run up to Christmas. You can find out more here: http://www.rhgdigital2.co.uk/advent2010/index.asp

I haven't yet checked if this is open to residents around the world or only the UK. If you enter and find out, please leave a comment letting us know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another new publisher on the block

The following submission call has gone out:

New Dawning Bookfair, a progressive, new publisher welcomes submissions from published and non-published authors. If you are a non-published author, we are very interested in finding undiscovered talent.

Please start the process by filling out the form on our submission page. Tell us a little about yourself and give us a brief description of your book. If interested, we will send a submission package including an overview of the
company and request the manuscript.

Published authors, simply follow the instructions in the submission guidelines. Click on the link on the submission page.

Our beautiful website is live and we hope to have a grand opening in sixty days. If your book is accepted it could be published with the grand opening. Visit our website: www.newdawningbookfair.com.

Thank you for considering us, VG Fox

New Dawning International Bookfair
Bookstore to the World

* * *

A personal note from Romy: Before you submit, don't forget to do your homework. A new publisher also means an untried publisher without a history, so be careful what you sign up for and read all the fine print.
That said, new publishers also mean new avenues for writers to sell their work - and that can only be a good thing for publishing in general. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Roses Christmas Blog Tour

My alter ego (Rae Summers) is participating in a blog tour with nine other authors from The Wild Rose Press for the next four Wednesdays. Please visit my blog and support me on the tour.


The tour is Christmas-themed so you'll be able to get holiday ideas, recipes, as well as pick up some new holiday reads. Each blog is also running a tour contest, which means that you have ten chances to win!

For more information on the participating authors, the prizes they're offering, and who is visiting where and when, click here: http://rosestour.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inkspill Magazine Short Story Contest

UK-based Inkspill magazine is currently running a short story contest, so if you have short stories of 3,000 words or less, take a look here. The deadline is end of December 2010. There is a small entry fee, but the prize money isn't bad and best of all they guarantee feedback on entries.

Inkspill is a literary magazine that is looking for articles and short stories for publication, so check out their submission guidelines if you're interested in this market.

Monday, November 15, 2010

After the Sale - Mistakes without Regret

I was so not prepared, mentally or any other way, for my first sale. You'd think after dreaming about this moment for years, I would be, but then it happens and all carefully laid plans take a speedboat to China,lol. The basic rule of submitting is: carry on writing. This should be (and probably is) the basic rule for acceptance. It's what I'd intended.

But then came the bubbly, the blog, the website, author loops, twitter, FB... sound hectic? Yes, suddenly I had to vamp up my online presence and learn to use twitter (all in between five rounds of edits) But many hours/days/weeks were totally wasted by me basking in that dream where I was actually, finally going to be published.

I didn't start writing again until a month after my release date - I had four chapters and about 4 months more work, my publisher's production lead-time is currently 7-9 months and that meant that including the 6 weeks initial submission time, I was going to go over into a two year gap between books (and that's if they actually wanted my new story) Not a good scenario. So I put my historical wip on hold, pulled out an old romantic comedy story, stripped it to the bone and rewrote it in a month, subbed it, and two weeks ago got the fabulous news that Carina Press loved it and wants it. Even so, its release date will be fall next year, which is still a large gap in the epubbing business.

Was it a mistake to wallow in the mudbath of success for so long without getting down to the business of writing? Definitely. Do I regret it? No, I'd do it over exactly the same. It took almost 10 years of hard work, anguish, screaming, doubting and undulating hills of hope and dashed dreams to get to that point, I guess I deserved a little downtime to enjoy the view from the top of the rocky cliff.

Next to actually writing the book, marketing is the next most important thing. And this is where some people have a natural ability to excel. Me? Not so much. My first blog tour was a little dour, each visit was purely about my book, excerts, etc. Mistake? Not sure, but I like the way some other authors bring diversity into their blog tour, sometimes they don't even mention their book (but there's always an image and buy link). Regrets? I don't think I had the time to dream up 20 wonderful and unique topics, but I'll see what I can do next time round. I'd probably spread the tour over two months as well to give me space and keep the interest going longer. With an ebook, there's no reason to cram everything into your release month.

Carina Press makes all their books available at NetGalley for a few months, this is a site where book bloggers and reviewers can request books for review. Basically, the reviewers come to you instead of the other way around. Great for business. I got reviews from sites I never knew existed. I didn't feel comfortable commenting on those sites, but in some cases the reviewer started following me on twitter and I did respond to them there, thanking them for the review. I also try to retweet their other reviews when I come across them, for which they're always grateful...you know what they say about spreading the love.

I did personally email a few review sites where I wanted to reviewed, about half of them have done the review, other may or may not, once again it's a case of wait and see. Sending out my book for review swept me straight back into the whole submit and rejection circle. Not even the bad reviews were as terrible as the one response I got that said, 'Thanks, but no thanks.'

Reviews are critical, however, and there were some of the more acerbic sites I cowered from sending to. These sites also tend to have high traffic, so this was probably a mistake. Being a debut author, however, each review was an emotional rollercoaster. No matter how much I schooled myself about personal likes and dislikes, no matter how many times I reminded myself that you can't please everyone, each review was personal and there were days when I snapped my laptop shut and believed I sucked. So how can I regret sparing myself from being shredded to pieces? Having my next book contract, though, has been a massive confidence boost and, I hope, I'll be braver next time. I will have to wait and see, lol.

Advertising is both expensive and addictive. I decided on very low cost adverts because, let's face it, I don't expect to make my fortune quite yet and didn't want to end up spending more than my eventual royalties. I did a few banners, then seeing my book out there got into my blood and I paid for a main-page cover...I was lucky to get it thanks to a cancellation, one needs to book these slots months in advance. There is suprisingly cheap advertising options out there, and surpisingly expensive ones. No surprise, the pricier sites have more traffic, so it's a balance game of where you want to be seen and how much you're prepared to pay. Most sites will let you put up an advert for a fee, and it can be kinda fun trawling through the web to see where you'd like to be.

Thankfully, Carina Press did a lot of advertising for us as well, which took some of the burden from me. It was an amazing surprise to find my book advertised on bigger sites that I hadn't known about. As this part of their launch campaign, I'm not expecting personal ads next time round, but as a publisher they still do a lot of advertising all over the place.

Does advertising work? I looked long and hard for the answer to this without success. It's not easy to link in stats for advertising to sales. Not even a click-thru rate is dependable. Some of my adverts linked straight to my book on the Carina Press site, so I couldn't monitor this. Of the ads that I linked to my author web site, the click rate wasn't fantastic. To be honest, I spend a lot of time on these various romance sites and, being bombarded with their ads from all sides, seldom click through myself unless I spot something totally awesome or, more likely, a reminder of an author I already love who has a new release.

BUT, as a debut author, one has to get your name out there and I do believe that adverts are one of the main methods of doing this beside reviews. It doesn't matter that people don't click through. It's good enough for them to see my cover everytime they go to that page and hopefully something sticks. Hopefully, the next time they're browsing an online store and my book comes up, the memory will trigger familiarity, enough so for them to click and read a little more instead of their eyes just rolling over my lonely title. So, was it a mistake to go the low cost option instead of splashing out big? Probably, considering I do think advertising pays and the more you spend, the more you get back. Any regrets? None except the reality that I'm not a millionare and had a restricted budget, lol. We do only what we can.

I'm not sure my ramblings here are actually of any help or even relevant to any other author, it's very much a case of what works for you as an individual and what you're able to cram into your day. But this is a recounting of the start of my journey, a journey I hope I still have a very long road to travel on before it's over.

I'd love to hear comments and/or advise from everyone

Friday, November 12, 2010

Submission Call from The Wild Rose Press


The Wild Rose Press has put out the following submission call to its authors, which I quote here with permission from editor-in-chief Rhonda Penders:

Holiday Stories
Holiday stories are rolling out and we've lowered our prices to help with sales of our older holiday releases as well.  If you ever had a holiday story in your head and wanted to get one released start working on it now.  March is our deadline for submissions across all the lines.  A quick tip - holiday short stories always sell much better and faster than a full length novel.  If you are a writer who can't write unless you are in the "mood" now is the time to get that holiday story penned for the 2011 season. 

Of course its never too early to start working on those hot summer reads either - what better way to warm up during the cold months than to pen a beach read!

Series and Call for Submissions
We have several series starting up in early 2011 - we'll put out a call for submissions once we get through the holidays.  A sneak peek is a new series coming to Yellow Rose which will involved a local honky tonk and the couples who meet there.  The Historical team is putting the finishing touches on a series that will involved Love Letters and I've heard rumors of a few more across the other lines.  The Flower Basket - still going strong in Sweetheart Rose could use some submissions and if you were thinking of writing that Class of '85 reunion story you better get moving as submissions will close soon on that line. 

Short Story Needs
Our quest continues to find and publish good solid short stories.  Scarlet Rose is the only line right now that has a good supply.  Tell your fellow writers that we are seriously looking for some great short stories.  I know some of you think you can't write short, but trust me, you can.  Take that full length that isn't going anywhere and rip it apart and shorten it up.  I know you can do it, you are after all TWRP Roses which means you are good.  

You can find out more about TWRP's submission guidelines here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do you love Jane Austen? Do you write short stories?

Well then this competition is for you! Pop on over to the Chawton House web site where you can find out more about the short story competition they're running for aspiring authors who have a penchant for Jane Austen. You'll find them here.

It's only 2,000 - 2,500 words you need to write and the theme is "the heroes and villains in Jane Austen's novels".

You get some lovely GBP if you're placed in the top 20 and you'll be published in their anthology! So ... what are you waiting for? Men in tight breeches? :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Yahoo Group

No matter where you are in South Africa (or if you’re a South African living abroad), please come join our Yahoo group. It’s a great place to meet and chat with like-minded individuals, to ask questions, share stories and make friends.

You can find us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sa_romance_writers/

Just click on the blue “Join This Group” button. You’ll be presented with a box asking why you want to join. Feel free to say “because I want to” or better yet “because I dream of being a published romance writer” and voila, one of the moderators will approve your membership. Yahoo will then send you an email explaining how you can access the group via email and the internet.

If you’re struggling to get access or have any other Yahoo related questions, feel free to leave a message for us in the comments section below, and we’ll get one of our techno savvy authors onto it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Writers Digest Short Story Contest

Thanks to Bronwyn Desjardins for news of this news and link.

If you're not already all competitioned out, and you just happen to have a short story of 4,000 words or less lying around (and don't mind paying an entry fee), then take a look at this one: http://www.writersdigest.com/popularfictionawards
The deadline is Monday 1st November.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ROSA

Last night I had the pleasure of sitting around a table with seven other South African romance writers. EIGHT of us in one room: that must be a new African record, let alone a South African one!

The time sped past. A quantity of wine was drunk, good food was eaten, and a great deal of laughter and conversation was enjoyed. We shared the stories of our writing journeys, debated the merits of alpha heroes, and laughed over Histerical romances (you had to be there!).

We are all from different backgrounds, originally from different parts of the country (and in Mandy’s case a different continent), we all write different genres of women’s fiction, and we’re all at different stages in the writing journey.
What do we have in common? We love to write. We love to read. We want to be published. Five of us will bravely be doing the NaNo challenge together next month. (NaNo in a Nutshell for the newbies). Four of us are Geminis, three are Scorpios and we had one Libran present to keep us all in balance.

In spite of the wine (or perhaps because of it) we agreed that we like the idea of starting an association for romance writers here in South Africa, and we even voted for a name. The verdict was almost unanimous.
In the interests of democracy and transparency, the votes were tallied as follows: [Considering the number of Geminis present, it’s not surprising we had so many votes!]

ROSA (Romance Organisation of South Africa) – 7 votes
RWSA (Romance Writers of South Africa) – 4 votes
SARW (South African Romance Writers) – 1 vote

Or perhaps that should be Romance writing Organisation of South Africa?

A massive thank you goes to Delene who hosted us, and to Anthony for keeping order and taking notes. Congratulations go to Bronwyn and Anthony whose debut novels for Nollybooks will be on sale in a CNA or Exclusive Books near you on Valentine’s Day, and also to Annemarie who discovered that her ‘rejection’ letter was really a request from an editor.

I highly recommend that the writers in Cape Town and Natal arrange a get-together. Even if it’s just over a cup of coffee at a convenient Mugg & Bean. I hope you enjoy meeting other romance writers as much as we did, and that you come away as inspired as I did!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Writing: Trimming The Flab

We've just uploaded another fabulous writing "how to" by Judy Croome. This time her focus is on how to make our writing more concise by eliminating all the unnecessary words. You can go straight there by clicking here.

Those of you participating in the NaNo challenge of writing 50,000 words during the month of November might want to leave this one until after your mammoth achievement! :-)

This is Judy's last article on the site - hopefully not forever! - so pop on over to read her words of wisdom. Judy will be concentrating on her writing career and we wish her all the best as she knuckles down to what we know will be a successful finish!

Judes ... big group hug and Ra! Ra! Ra!

Monday, October 18, 2010

So You Think You Can Write

Great news for all aspiring Harlequin Mills & Boon writers out there! The Harlequin blog will be running a five day educational from the 1st to the 5th of November. You'll be able to view their timetable of events as well as sign up on the social media sites right here.

So all of you in need of some spit and polish or just plain old inspiration pop on over there and let us know if you'll be joining in the activities. I know I will!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hero Worship Updated!

We mentioned the lovely Gina Rossi on this blog a couple of days ago - check the post dated 8th October if you don't believe me - and not only did she connect with us, but she inspired me to drool over another hottie I'd never heard of! Don't you just love research? :-)

So, let me not hold you up any longer and leave you to head on over to check out the gorgeous Andres Velencoso.

Enjoy! And don't forget to let me know what other hunks are out there inspiring you to create those mouth watering alpha heroes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free Books!

Mills & Boon are offering 11 books for free digital download. You can find them here: http://www.everyonesreading.com/

Just one word of caution (and I learned this the hard way!): the licenses are only valid for a year. When the license expires, even if you have the books saved on your hard drive, you will no longer be able to open them. So don't wait too long to read them!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gina Rossi - The Wild Heart

Congratulations to Gina, who has caught the HMB editors' eye with her historical romance set in the Cape: The Wild Heart.

Gina will be getting personalised feedback from the editors as well as a request for more. We're so proud to have a South African representative out there! If you haven't already read this story, do.

And Gina, if you're out there, please get in touch with us. We'd love to know how you came up with this story, as well as more about you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten New Voices Announced

So if you've been following the Mills & Boon New Voices competition over at http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/ with avid interest, you will know that they announced their first round top ten yesterday. They had an incredible 824 entries. Awesome! Hats off to the Mills & Boon team who put speedy Gonzalez to shame with their turnaround. Talk about dedication.

For those of you who are fixated on stats - one paranormal, one historical, one suspense and seven contemporary romances made up the mix of winners.

The top ten first chapters are up for reads at http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/Entries/The-Top-Ten. Pop over and see what they're all about. Feel free to let us know what you think over here.

For those of you who didn't place - don't despair. Remember the old adage - it's the journey not the destination. Ne'er a truer word were spoken when it comes to the writing arena. Every bit of writing we do brings us that much closer to our desired outcome of having that baby published.

So, allow yourself to wallow for a few minutes, eat that chocolate or drink that glass of red, and then ... get right back into that chair and try something new. Your day will come.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Voices Entries

This contest is now closed to new entries. While we wait for the judges' Top 10 selection (to be announced on Monday 27th September) I thought I'd do a shout out for all the South Africans who've entered.

Congratulations to the following brave South African writers (in no particular order):
Chloe Hamilton - The Way to His Heart
Melinda Bechus - The Billionaire's Elusive Mistress
Sandra Carter - Once Loved, Twice Shy
Anne Hansen - Amanda's Story 
Jo Thompson - The Lion's Den
Ella Stevens - Billionaire's Jewel in Africa
Alexandra Economides - A Circle of Love
Aimee Gray - The Master Plan
Gina Rossi - The Wild Heart (Historical)
Romy Sommer (that's me!) - Valentino's Angel

The following stories are set in Africa:
Sally Jacobs - Her African Moon
Angela Cozens - The Smoke That Thunders
Barbara Bailey - Honey in the Desert
Belinda Compton-Doyle - African Passion
Ruthanne Hall - A Bouquet of Lies
Sheritha Sing - Seduced by the Billionaire

And South African heroines ...
Angela Travers - The Greek Billionaire's Perfect Woman
Marie Dry - The Greek Tycoon's Revenge
Dodie Dane - The Secret Daughter
Sharon Fitzgerald - Monsieur Le Roux's Undoing

Ladies - If any of you are South African or live in SA please let me know so I can move you to the top list. Pop on over to Lacey Devlin's blog to claim your medal of bravery. Also, if any of you would like to get involved with SA Romance Writers, please get in touch.

And for all the readers out there: please visit the New Voices website and rate these stories to show your support for our home-grown talent.

[Post updated 24th September]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Harlequin's New Voices Contest

It hardly feels like a year since Harlequin / Mills & Boon ran one of these contests, but here we are again. This year's contest, New Voices, is bigger and better than any that have gone before. Check it out at www.romanceisnotdead.com.

Past contests they've run:
  • Instant Seduction in 2007 - winner Lynn Raye Harris has just sold book #7. Tine Duncan, who didn't place in the contest did get a request - and later sold to Harlequin.
  • Feel the Heat in 2008 - winner Lucy King already has 2 books published with Harlequin and she's just had a baby as well as delivering her next book.
  • Presents 2009 Contest - two winners and two runners-up all working with editors now. Let's hope one of them gets The Call soon.

Just in case you're wondering whether or not to enter, maybe this story from the Instant Seduction winner will help decide you ... http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/Top-Tips/5-Why-should-I-enter-A-winners-story...

We're saying it again: you have to be in it to win it. (And wouldn't it be awesome to see a South African at least making the Top 10? So let's get writing and submitting!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cappuccinos and Goodbyes

That was the title of Anthony Ehlers' entry in the Voice of Africa romance writing competition run by Essentials magazine and Mills & Boon earlier this year. He was a top 5 finalist and his story is in the September issue of Essentials.

Ant is also one of our Romance Writers contributors and he's been gracious enough to give us a behind the scenes look at how he wrote his entry. You may recognise him as Megan Andrews. As usual he has lots of advice for us so head on over to the On Writing page for some more inspiration.

I'm sure we could all do with the inspiration as the deadline for the Mills & Boon New Voices Romance is Not Dead competition looms ever closer! Remember to get your entries in before 22nd September 2010.

Good luck to all who are entering!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eating with an editor

Today we welcome a special guest, our new guest blogger Mia Botha, winner of the 2010 Essentials magazine short story contest. Congratulations, Mia, and welcome.

It’s been more than a month and I still find myself peeking at the Essentials magazine to see if it's really me. I had considered making the deadline an achievement, being a finalist was certainly a fine feather in my cap and then to be told I’d won well, like I said, my Essentials is well thumbed this month.

My name is Mia and I am a writer. I like words. I like books. And most of all I love stories. Short ones, long ones. Happy ones, sad ones. I love them all. (although, right now I am rather partial to short, happy ones.)

I have been asked many questions since I received “the call” . The most annoying “Where do you get your ideas from?” has been asked repeatedly. Mostly by people who have never written a word in their lives. I generally don’t have a clue where the ideas come from. They just come. Some times its a hug at the airport, sometimes it’s an odd person in a coffee shop. You’re a writer, you know what I mean.

Jake and Claire’s story came from a simple writing exercise at a Writers Write dinner. (I will never under estimate writing exercises ever again.) Anthony Ehlers, my fellow finalist, was one of the hosts for the evening. His theme for the dinner was “Romance in unlikely places”. He was there when Jake and Claire first arrived. He was one of the first to read their story, and he encouraged me to enter.  (Bet he wishes he was a little less encouraging, but I promise there’ll be a little something in my suitcase for you, Ant).

The prize is truly amazing, a trip to London with tons of stuff included, but best of all I get to meet a Mills & Boon editor.

I am waiting to confirm the final dates of the trip. It all depends on the availability of the editors. If all goes according to plan I’ll be in London sometime in November. I don’t know which editor I’ll meet. I do know we’ll be going to lunch at the fabulous Gaucho Restaurant. I will let you know as soon as I have more information. Here’s hoping I don’t confuse my cutlery while I attempt to gain inside knowledge of a romance editors mind. By the way, which one is the salad fork?

Mia will be posting here roughly once a month, through her journey to London and beyond, so keep an eye on this spot. And with a bit of luck we'll get the gremlins sorted and she'll be able to post on her own behalf.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Local 19 Year Old Sells His First Romance Novel

Yes you did read that correctly ... it does say "his"!

There's a wonderful article up over on the Times Live web site about Fezekile Cokile - the teenager who has just sold his first Mills & Boon style romance novel. It's been published by Kwela Books.

To read the article and find out more about the book and what Fezekile was paid - click here.

To find out more about Kwela Books and see what their writing guidelines are - click here. Then just click on the Kwela romance writing guidelines!

If any of our readers have any experience with Kwela please let us know what your experience was like! Input gladly received!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In the mood for some Scottish loving?

Hello all *waving from across the pond, although I still consider myself a bona-fida South African*

My medieval Scottish romance, Betrayed, is now available from Carina Press. If you like your hero alpha with a sexy burr and a sparky heroine to tempt the blackness from his grouchy mood... read on:)

Two Feuding Families
Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father's banishment. But now that he's passed, she's had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family's rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation
Krayne is amazed at the wildcat's repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle's home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

Read an excerpt


BETRAYED was released to some stunning reviews...

Among The Muses  ~ In this debut novel by Claire Robyns, you will be transported back to a medieval time were deceit and betrayal were everyday occurrences, and difficult choices were often made for you. Betrayed will take you on an engaging, action-packed, wildly sexy adventure, that will keep you turning the pages!
Long and Short Romance Reviews ~ Historical romance fans will enjoy Betrayed. There is romance, a multitude of thrills, and enough sexual chemistry and tension to keep you squirming in your seat.

The Electic Review ~ Ms. Robyns leaves no prisoners with this action-packed romance. I am a big fan of highlander romances and this one did not disappoint.

A  little bit about me...
As you've realised by now, Betrayed is my debut book. When my husband suggested we pack in the sunny beaches of Cape Town for overcast, rainy, freezing England, I jumped up and down in glee! I would be that little bit closer to the ragged, stormy coastline of Scotland filled with the lore of my wild fantasies. It didn't take long for me to pen my first Scottish romance and Betrayed was born.

Betrayed is now available from
Carina Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books On Board

Monday, August 2, 2010

Essentials Voice of Africa Winner Announced

The August edition has already been on the shelves a week, so my apologies if this is old news to you, but Essentials magazine has announced the winner: Mia Botha, with her story Stained by Love.
Congratulations, Mia!

And of course a huge 'well done' to everyone who was brave enough to enter, as well as to the other four finalists. We look forward to reading your stories in next month's Essentials.

I'm very happy to announce that Mia has agreed to visit us here at SA Romance Writers, so keep watching this space for more information.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Voices for Mills & Boon

Once again Mills & Boon are looking for new voices to join their family of romance writers! This time the competition is up on a dedicated site. Click here for access to it and all relevant information regarding the new competition.

Remember - never give up! If you haven't succeeded yet just keep trying - this might just be your turn! And of course you have to enter to actually stand a chance of wining!

Good luck everyone.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Article up On Writing!

A little heads up that Judy has a new article up on the On Writing page! This time she delves into how the author can entice the reader. Click here for quick access!

From a personal note I love this one - it features one of my favourite movies of all time The Sixth Sense! Not only because of the hunkalicious Bruce Willis but because it is so wonderfully written with its slow reveals! Awesome! So check out the article, sit back and learn from the mistress!

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

RNA Conference at Greenwich

I am incredibly fortunate to have attended the Romantic Novelists' Association conference at Greenwich in England last week-end. This year is the RNA's 50th anniversary, so it was an especially magical year to attend. And it was so much fun that I'm already making plans to be back in the UK next year for the conference in Caerleon, South Wales.

For more feedback from the conference you can visit my blog at http://romysommer.blogspot.com. This post is all about the South African contingent at the conference (all three of us, which is a pretty good start, I think!)

First up is Kate Wright. In the picture below Kate is the glamorous one, and I'm the one with my hair blowing all over.



Then we have the two Romys. Not only were there two South African Romys at the conference, and we're both from Durban, but it turns out we're also both alumni of Durban Girls' High School. Talk about a small world!



It was lovely to meet both of you ladies!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guest Author Rae Summers

And another shameless plug for a South African writer: today it's my turn!

My historical novella Let's Misbehave, goes on sale today with The Wild Rose Press. This story is set in London in the 1920s, and features a jazz-singing Flapper as the heroine and a staid aristocrat as the hero.

Book Blurb:

Gabrielle is the quintessential Flapper, a wild child who turns her back on home and a resentful and unloving mother to become a nightclub singer. She wants nothing more from life than freedom and pleasure.

Sebastian is a dutiful son, following in his father’s footsteps and on the verge of marrying a suitable bride. But as the Twenties roar to their conclusion, he finds himself torn between duty and the urge to indulge his adventurous streak.

From the moment Gabrielle and Sebastian meet, the tension between them simmers. When he rescues her from a boorish suitor, Gabrielle discovers a kindred spirit beneath Sebastian's serious demeanour, and she sets out to seduce him into one last passionate fling before he settles for a loveless marriage.

But the fire that burns between them threatens to consume her. Will Gabrielle survive falling in love with the one man she cannot have?

You can visit Rae's blog at http://raesummers.wordpress.com for more background info on the 1920s as well as excerpts from the book.

You can view the book trailer at YouTube, and buy the book from www.thewildrosepress.com.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Author April Vine

Today we welcome Cape Tonian April Vine to the SA Romance blog. Her latest release, Intrigue in India, released a week ago through The Wild Rose Press, and she's visiting us today to talk about herself and this novel. I'll hand over to April ...

I write no holds barred erotic romance by night and I'm a mother to two boys and wife to one very tolerant husband by day. My sole ambition in life is to ensure my mother never discovers my pseudonym! I have an unhealthy interest in shoes and I live between the sultry mountains of South Africa where, coupled with chocolate, day dreaming comes easy.

My latest erotic romance, Intrigue in India, comes from The Wild Rose Press Destination Pleasure Series. It’s set in Delhi and features passionate paybacks and hot arranged marriages. I started writing this story backwards. As an incurable pantster, I only had the very last line in mind and had to create characters and a situation to make that last line possible. Lucky for me Rajeev and Haley were quite willing and accommodating.


Here’s the blurb:

“All you have to do is disguise yourself, pretend to be me, go to India and meet the man I’m supposed to marry. By the time he realizes you’re not me, I’ll have already eloped…”

After a break up with her boyfriend, Haley Kent agrees to her best friend, Anjali’s madcap plan, hoping mystical India will help her find inner peace. Instead Anjali’s arranged future husband turns out to be a gorgeous Indian God with a touch that scorches.

Rajeev Yuvaraj refuses to be outsmarted by the sexy, blonde, blue-eyed American and devises his own retribution. A bride is what he expected and a bride is what he would get even if it meant handcuffing Haley to his wrist during the marriage ceremony.

But when Haley discovers the true nature of his secret scheme, can Rajeev seduce her back into his arms again?

And an excerpt: 

She yanked the hand cuffed to his wrist. An unnecessary precaution to keep her from fleeing, as the opulent red and gold bridal sari she kicked and screamed her way into, the layers of pure gold jewelry and the tons of flowers threaded through her long blonde hair ensured she stayed rooted to the ground next to him.
She glanced up at him. “Yes, we deceived you, and I’m sorry for that. She had no other option out of this arranged marriage with you. Her parents watch her every move. She had no choice. But what you’ve done in return is unjustified.”
“Unjustified?” he asked, effortlessly hauling her up flush against his body. The impact slowed her senses, his cologne teased her nerves and his nearness suspended her breath. She swayed and his hand spanned the small of her back, keeping her steady. Her nipples hardened and liquid warmth spread throughout her body. She jerked away from him, her brows drawing together. What had come over her? She’d never felt faint a day in her life.
He tugged her back. “Impersonating my fiancĂ©e while she is traipsing the world with her lover and leaving me for the fool requires due payback, as you Americans would say. I expected a bride and a bride is what I will have. Again, it is within your power to end this immediately. Tell me where Anjali is.”
Haley shook her head, still feeling lightheaded—she blamed it on the situation, the Indian air. Not the man beside her.
Oh, Anjali, what have you gotten me into? Yet, betraying Anjali’s friendship remained out of the question. There had to be another way out of this marriage. She had to think, remain passive, let him think he’d won before she struck back and escaped.
“What is it going to be, Haley? This is your last chance. Freedom for Anjali’s whereabouts or…”
“Go to hell.”
“Indeed.” He smiled dazzlingly at her and then briskly instructed the priest to get on with it, in English, for her benefit no doubt.

Thank you so much for hosting me, Romy.

Reviews:

Night Owl Reviews: A reviewers Top Pick - 4.5 stars.
Romance Junkies: 5 Blue Ribbons

Congratulations on your new release, April. 

If you'd like to buy April's book, click here, and here are the links to April's website and blog.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Essentials Voice of Africa Contest

For those readers who haven't yet checked out the latest copy of Essentials magazine, the winner announcement will be made in the August issue, available in stores at the end of July.

While we wait together, please feel free to de-lurk and let us know if you entered.

I entered two short stories this year, and I'm just as eager to see if I not only finalled but also which one of the two they might have preferred. It's hard to type with so many fingers crossed!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Carina Press has Launched

Harlequin's new digital first division, Carina Press, has launched! Carina Press will be publishing all types of fiction (not just romance) from erotica to thrillers to speculative fiction. They're releasing a clump of titles each Monday in June, and from there out there'll still be a weekly release but probably with fewer new releases each Monday (at least until their stable of authors increases).

You can visit their e-book store at http://www.carinapress.com/ and the titles are also available at most sites where ebooks are sold, such as Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, etc

There is also a Carina Press Comminity at eHarlequin if you want to learn more about the authors, the types of books and ask any questions regarding subbing there.

I'll be spotlighting a few of the Carina Press authors on My Blog this month, starting today with Carrie Lofty. Carrie has also just sold a series to Pocket featuring a title set in South Africa, so if you've any questions, like did she have any trouble selling a SA setting, etc, please feel free to ask

This is a great new opportunity if you have a story to submit that doesn't tick the boxes of traditional publishing houses. I've just come through final editing stage with Carina Press and can contest to the fact that they are incredibly professional, their link to Harlequin's marketing and resources is tight, and the range of books they're looking at is impressive. I would definitely recommend Carina Press as a home to submit your story to  -  although that's just my personal opinion :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vote for your Favourite Hero

Today we're doing what we love best... drooling over gorgeous men.  And voting on our favourite.

You don't have to pick just one, 'cause you know what they say (forgive the artistic licence): Love is like a box of chocolates, and there's no fun in being allowed only one piece of candy!

So, who's it gonna be?
That All American Guy with the too cool smile and sexy crinkly thing going with the eyes?
Or maybe the Hot Latino Lover with that sultry come-hither in his dark gaze?
Call me a cradle snatcher, but there's just something about that Wizard Next Door in all his boyish cuteness.
How about the Lord of The Manor, you know, the one with more arrogance than wealth and even more titles - and yes, he has to take a swim in the lake first!
And, ooh, our favourite blood-thirsting-but-no-sucking Soul-Torn Vampire. He has a soul. No he doesn't. Yes he does. Does it even matter when you look like that?
Last, but certainly not least, back in the days when men weren't scared to show their chests, we have our Warrior. (Sadly, this one's ready for battle, so no chests today)

Enjoy the feast!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Many Books A Year Do You Plan To Write?

Ok, so I'll forgive you if you want to roll your eyes and start foaming at the mouth now. But ... it is an interesting discussion topic!

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an article which unearthed a phenomenom called serial novellism. You what? Yup there is such a thing called serial novellism. Apparently there was even a South African novellist who suffered from this malaise! Her name - Mary Faulker. At least that's one of the six pen names which you might recognise her by. She wrote a total of 904 romance novels which equates to about 20 a year while she was writing! Good grief! Now imagine how terrible I feel that I can't seem to be able to put together one in a year!

What's more ... she's not the only one. Alexander McCall Smith has the same problem! He can't stop churning them out. Series books, single titles, screen plays - the more the merrier it seems.

To read the full article ... click here.

The moral of the story I guess is - if you're committed to writing that book you will. But if you let the excuses get in the way, you won't! Oh dear, let me just quietly slink off into a corner and whip out my laptop. Gotta go write ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

For the knowledge junkies out there - including myself - I'm happy to announce that Judy has provided us with more of her fabulous insight into the world of writing. Her new article covers the topic of names and labels which we use to identify things! As usual she uses fabulous imagery to get to the heart of the matter.

Sigh ... if only we could have Judy hiding in a cupboard at home! You remember the fab TV ad about the Italian mama stored away in the kitchen cupboard. She's let out to help produce a fab meal ... that's exactly what I had in mind for Judy! LOL! Just don't tell her I said so!

I know you all love her articles so ... click here to go straight to her latest and enjoy!

If you'd like to suggest any topics for Judy's teachings please feel free to drop us a line. You can also click here to check out her own blog where she covers many more topics.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Carina Press: a call for novellas

Carina Press' Executive Editor, Angela James, tweeted recently that she would very much like to see more novellas / short easy reads, so dust off those novellas and get them subbed.

They're also looking for historical novels, anything from 15,000 words and upwards, as reported on the Risky Regencies blog. Regencies remain ever popular, but they're also looking for other time periods and most exciting of all, Carina are open to all genres, time travel and historical fantasy stories are also welcomed.

We've blogged about Carina Press before (see here) and our excitement has grown considerably since then. Though the official launch is still a few weeks away (on 7th June) this new publisher is already causing a stir in the publishing world and I predict that they're just going to go from strength to strength.

Our very own Claire Robyns, whose novel Betrayed, is among Carina's first releases, will be blogging here closer to the launch date.

For Carina's submission guidelines, click here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Writing a novel ... so easy to do????

Whaaat? I hear you squeaking! Yup I was as surprised as you are to read that, but now let's put it into context before we all have heart failure!

Picture this ... a rainy winter afternoon in Jo'burg (not hard to do right now with all the rain we've had lately!), you relax in your reading chair (what do you mean you don't have one?), open the latest copy of Essentials magazine (because you're really curious to find out when they'll be announcing the winners of the short romance competition) and you see the column next to the editorial with heading ...

But, would we really?

So, curious you continue to read ... and I quote ...

How many times have we said "if only I had the time?" Well, here are just the excuses we need not to feel bad ...

And item number two on the list, again, I quote ...

Write that novel - except we know we don't need to do it right now 'cos it's going to be so easy to do, and we'll just sit down when the moment's right and it'll just ... sort of happen.

OK so now I'll give you all a moment to let that sink in ... and simmer.

Oh take me to someone who agrees with this and I'll eat my ... hat! Well, I would if I actually owned one.

If, like me, you've been wondering what on earth happened to your time this year, and now Mother's day is just around the corner which basically means we're nearly half way through the year, and you still haven't written that story that's been milling about in your head ... Well, now you have the perfect excuse don't you? It's going to be so easy as soon as you have the time. As soon as the day job gets less hectic (really you still think that's gonna happen?), as soon as the kids leave home (that would be ... oh in about ten years then), as soon as you've finished rebuilding the house, and so on, and so forth ad infinitum.

There is no end to the number of excuses you can come up with as to why you don't actually have any words on paper. And you can feel good about having them - can't you? No?

So there can really only be one answer to your dilemma. We know writing is not easy. We also know writing brings us great joy. We know the excuses make us feel bad. When you look at it in cold reality ... no excuse makes you feel as good as writing actually does. So let's make a pact! Promise yourself no more excuses. It's time to prioritise.

Writing = Feeling Good.

Give yourself the gift of time to write!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trinity on Air

On Thursday 6th May, Love Books in Melville, Johannesburg, will be hosting the launch of Fiona Snyckers' new book Trinity on Air, sequel to her delightful SA chick lit novel Trinity Rising. If you'd like to attend and support a local writer, and meet with other writers, you can contact Love Books on 011 726 7408 or info@lovebooks.co.za. Hope to see you there!

For more information on Trinity on Air, click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

eBook Diva

If you haven't already, check out eBook Diva, South Africa's first dedicated romance eBook website. You can purchase and download a wide range of Harlequin books, including crime novels from Black Star, main stream books from Mira, the full range of category novels, and also shorter reads for under R20.

Spice Briefs and Historical Undones are not available in book stores, and they're short enough to read in your lunch break, so they're a great way to start if you're new to eBooks.

You can also add reviews and visit the community for aspiring writers, Tales of the Diva.

(And sssshh! Don't tell anyone else, but there are also free books available for download here.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Debut for a new South African romance publisher

Kwela Books has recently opened a new imprint, Sapphire Press, which is dedicated to publishing local romance novels. The publisher, which has links to the True Love book club, will be introducing a new book each month. The series debuts with two novels: Lauri Kubuitsile’s Kwaito Love and Shukie Nkosana’s Cherry Marbles.

If you're interested in writing for Sapphire Press, you can check out the submission guidelines here:  Kwela / Sapphire Press Writing Guidelines.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Fool for Love Contest

Virginia Romance Writers, a division of the RWA, is holding a writing contest called 'Fool for Love' which closes at the end of April. This contest is open to writers from around the world but does charge an entry fee. The fee is worth it though if you want to get your work in front of one of this year's judges.

For more information on the contest categories, judges or how to enter, click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

London Book Fair - call for help

The market focus of this year's London Book Fair next week is South Africa. Yay for us!

Sadly, the showcase has been seriously jeopardised by the grounding of all flights in and out of the UK due to the volcanic ash cloud currently sweeping across Europe. (For more on that, click here). The LBF organisers have come up with a plan to charter a plane to get key people to London in time for the book fair, but they need money. If you, or anyone you know, is in a position to help out, you can find out more here: http://news.book.co.za/blog/2010/04/17/the-sa-lit-london-book-fair-rearguard-effort-needs-150-000/

And for more information on the LBF itself: http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/

Monday, April 12, 2010

Head Space

Most writing courses, online writing sites and books on writing focus on teaching aspiring writers 'how to write'. From the basics of correct punctuation to more complex concepts such as narrative structure. These are important tools of the trade, but in the years since I started writing I've learned that there are other things that are just as important for aspiring writers to learn.

Before you can write, you need to get in the right head space.

Writing is a lot like sports psychology - you can train for the toughest race, but if your head isn't in the right place, you're not going to win.

The first lesson I've had to learn is to treat writing like a profession. One day, a couple of years ago, I made a conscious decision that this wasn't just a hobby any more. I was serious about writing and I began to take it seriously. In my head, I made the switch from being an amateur to being a pro. It didn't matter that I hadn't yet sold a manuscript, I saw myself as a professonal writer. So far, it's working pretty well for me. Since then, I've completed two full length novels and contracted a novella to Wild Rose Press.

The second lesson is to believe in yourself. Multi published writers will tell you that the crows of doubt never stop circling [just listen to Penny Jordan in this interview] but what separates the successful writers from those who never finish a book is that the successful writers don't let the doubts defeat them. Give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. You wrote a whole page, a whole chapter, a whole book ... celebrate your achievements. With each baby step your belief in yourself will grow. Only if you have faith in yourself, will you conquer those crows.

The third lesson is one I still struggle with. Discipline. Writing novels isn't a sporadic thing that you can do for an hour a week, or a week on and two weeks off. You can't wait for the muse to strike. You need to work at it every day and get into a writing routine. At the start of last year's Nanowrimo, I was writing about 800-900 words an hour. At the end of the month I was averaging 1,200 words an hour. I achieved that because I wrote for at least an hour every day. Then I let life intervene and the routine was broken. Right now I'm struggling to write 500 words an hour. My muse has deserted me because I haven't been giving her enough attention.

More recently, I've learned that sometimes life really does take precedence over everything else. We all have moments in our lives where there are other things we need to accomplish. We still need to sleep, to eat, to take care of our loved ones, to be sociable human beings, to earn a living. Don't beat yourself up because you didn't get a chance to write today. Get through the day, live life to the full, and when those other pressing needs have been taken care of, then sit down and start to write, with a clear head.

But in my experience, the most valuable lesson any writer can learn is this: don't ever give up. Take a break if you need it, but don't let it be a permanent one. After all, you have to be in it to win it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Day for Voice of Africa Entries!

Take note that today is the last day you can submit your entry for the Voice of Africa writing competition run by Essentials Magazine in conjunction with Mills and Boon!

If this is the first you've heard about it ... get all the info here! But hurry - you only have a few hours left before the deadline!

So how many of you have entered? I know I have! Let us know if you've entered - so we can all celebrate our courage together!

Fingers crossed for everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Snagging an Agent

Unfortunately I don't have a 10 point flop proof guide - if there's one out there, I'll take two, thank you!

There is a plethora of excellent information out there with any number of excellent agent blogs. So many, in fact, that I've had to limit the blogs I frequent otherwise it all starts to get a bit mind boggling. My personal favourites are:
Bookends
Pub Rants
Nathan Bransford

USA agents are fantastic: they blog, they're accessible, they're fast on the turnaround and they mostly accept email submissions which makes it that much easier (and cheaper) for us to query widely.
UK agents are slower on the mark. Many of the agents still want snail mail submissions, they're quick to close their doors (with regards to my previous post, maybe this is a good thing rather than letting authors query with no chance because they're not currently looking) and their turnaround time is a lot slower - I've currently got a YA under consideration, and although it's gone from query to full request to full request via hard copy, it's been 6 months and counting - that's a long time in the land of agents.

Most agents accept submissions from anywhere in the world, that gives us two continents across which to query, query, query. There seems to be a quirky exception to this, and doesn't apply to all agents, but from my experience it seems like US agents are a a bit antsy about stories set in the UK, and vice versa.  But any other country setting and you're fine across the borders.

And now (finally, you might say) we come to the reason that triggered this post...

Firstly, it was a post of the wonderful Kristin Nelson's blog, Pub Rants.

In answering some questions, she had this to say about a question on how long to wait before re-quering an agent with a new project after a rejection:
Of course we all differ on what the answer would be. That’s why publishing is so maddening to writers. For me, I’d say wait 4 weeks, then query with new project. But here’s the kicker. DO NOT mention that you have queried the agency before. Act like this is the first query ever that you are sending us. We get 150 queries a day. Chances are very good we won’t remember your name (unless you have a really unique name that is!) Writers for some reason feel obligated to tell us their whole prior history of our rejecting their queries. Don’t be seduced!

And she had this to say about re-subbing a previously rejected but revised story:
My suggestion? Change the title to something new. Sometimes titles stand out and it will sound familiar. In terms of time span, if you submitted queries and have received mainly rejection responses, I’d revise significantly, wait about 3 weeks, then resend. What can an agent do? Track you down and chastise you for resubmitting? Grin. Be bold. Now if you are rejected numerous times by same agent. Move on. Lots of other agent fishes in the sea.

She is so honest and candid, and this advice can be applied when subbing to publishers as well. Our baby might be precious to us and chiselled into our brains, but to the agent/editor it's one of thousands and there's a good chance they won't remember. Good idea to change the title and maybe even character names - and hopefully it would have been revised to an extent where you have something more/different to offer in the query/partial - basically after revision you do have a new story, so why not re-submit? This is a particularly sensitive topic when it comes to M&B because, let's face it, if they reject your story, you don't have many other options left to place it. But M&B is brilliant about giving decent feedback, enough to show you what is wrong and how you could improve. I've never really understood why they then suggest you send in something new rather than the revised ms (and I'm talking about rejection letter feedback, not revision letter feedback).

And secondly, I'd like to point you to a brilliant site, Miss Snark's First Victim. Every month she hosts a Secret Agent contest, where you post the first page of your ms and the secret agent reviews all the posts, gives feedback on whether she'd request more or why she'd stop reading, etc and the secret agent also selects winners and runner ups and the prizes vary from a critique to requests. The secret agent is revealed and she's had some great agents there, like Ginger Clark and Nathan Bransford from Curtis Brown, Kirstin Nelson, to name a few. Each contest is usually limited to a selection of genres, and throughout the contests most genres are frequently covered.

For me, the benefit here is more for the agent feedback than actually winning (although that would be great too). If you've got a couple of hundred hours to spare, you can also read through the archive of previous contests, and see which agents had what to say about which submissions. It's a great way to get inside an agent's head and understand what they're looking for - and, once again, I think this applies to editors as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do I need an agent

In the romance market, there are still a few options for the unagented author (and for the purpose of this post, I'm ignoring e-publishing, which for the most do not require agented submissions). Most noticeably, M&B, and from what I've heard, having an agent doesn't improve your chances or waiting times. 
If you want to submit to Harlequin or Avon without an agent you have to take your chances with a query letter and synopsis, and if you suck at that, well, no way to get your first couple of pages before an editor's eye. Dorchester and Source Books are an option, but you're going to go straight into the slush pile and unless you catch an editor on a really boring day, your submission will get processed by a sush pile reader first and not an editor. Tor accepts an unagented partial for science fiction submissions.

The good news is, authors can, and do, get picked out of the slush pile. The bad news is, I've seen a steady decrease in publishers who accept unagented submissions and as the rate of submissions increase alarmingly (this has been reported in the last two years) I fear more and more publishers will want to flush out their slush. (Ooh, that rhymes)

An interesting aside: Even publishers like Harlequin and Sourcebooks are now requiring agented submissions for their young adult lines.

Well, I've done the submission rounds plenty, to both agents and publishers, and at times it feels like it's definitely more difficult to get an agent than to get published.

And here's my personal thoughts on why:

An editor just needs to like the book.
An agent needs to like the book, plus she needs to think of a number of editors she has a connection with who'd also like the book. She has to consider the time and money she'll spend and the possibility that she won't be able to place the book.

An editor doesn't really care about your publishing career - unless you become a bestselling author and then you've got her interest. But they have a large number of debut authors that get lost in the woodwork and disappear.
An agent is not investing in a single book - the good agents are investing in your career and committing to stick with you (for at least a couple more books)

An editor doesn't need to know much about you as a person or even like you.
A good agent wants to feel a connection with authors she takes on. No need to be best friends, but you and your agent have to like each other, be able to communicate well and have similar goals. Some agents want to meet before they'll consider signing you.

A publishing house never has a closed list (unless they're going out of business)
Agents do. And the most frustrating thing is, most of them don't let you know. They keep the query door open, just in case the next JK Rowling knocks, but in general they're not really looking and thanks to form rejections, you'll never know if they really didn't like your book or if their list is just full right now.

On the upside, there are only a couple of publishers out there while there are hundreds upon hundreds of agents, so it might take a little longer, you might need to grow a couple more inches of thick skin for all those hundreds of rejections, but the odds hopefully balance out somewhere down the line.

What are you writing and to whom are you submitting? Do you know of other publishing houses accepting unagented submissions and do you have any advice, feedback? Any and all thoughts welcome.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SA Launches Romance eBook Store!

We've had a few posts here in the past couple of weeks about the pro's and con's of self-publishing as well as general discussions on ebooks. These all seem to have lead quite deliciously to the launch of a new romance ebook shop on our local shores.

eBook Diva - a romantic fiction readers' community have just launched their site. It's a gorgeous pink collaboration between New Holland Publishing and Booksite Digital (Afrika) where they offer the romance reading community ebooks at South African Rand rates! So if you'd like to start reading some of those Harlequin Romance books you've seen advertised online and never got around to buying them in US Dollars - delay no more you have your very own site!

The other aspect to the site is the free writer's community where you are able to build and share your own work. Your readers can also provide comments on your work which in turn will help you develop as an author. (Whether it's a thick skin or something more insightful will remain to be seen!) There are plenty of success stories out there of authors who have offered their initial work for free, in order to build up a following, and have subsequently gone on to sell their other books!

Click here to go check it out for yourself and then come back and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What are you really saying?

Check out the new On Writing article by Judy Croome on our web site, where she shows us how our choice of words affect the reader experience. You'll notice the article doesn't have a purely romance angle so please feel free to tell your friends about it even if they're not romance junkies like us! Quick link to the article here.

Also, for other great writing tips you can check out Judy's own blog. This month her topic is conflict! Quick link to the article here.

I'm sure, like me, you'll find Judy's pieces insightful and will be happy to have them as a gentle reminder of what it is we need to pay attention to when we write.

Happy reading and don't forget to tell us if there are any topics you'd like us to cover for you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Franschhoek Literary Festival and The Writers Workshop

Heard on Jenny Crwys-Williams' book show on Radio 702 last week:

The 2010 Franschhoek Literary Festival will be held from 14th to 16th May. It looks like it's going to be great fun and very interesting. You can check it out here. If you live in the Cape and decide to go along, please drop us a line and tell us all about it, as most of us here at South African Romance Writers are a little too far away. Guest bloggers welcome ...

On the back of this, festival organiser Christopher Hope will be holding a residential writing workshop in the little town of Greyton. The workshop seems very reasonably priced considering the fee also includes accommodation, but again it's sadly too far away for me to attend, so if anyone out there goes along we'd love to hear about it. More information can be found here

Finally, if you love books and want to keep up with what's happening in South African publishing, podcasts of Jenny's shows can be found here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Geeks Need Love Too

Liquid Silver Books has an open call for submission on the theme of 'Geeks need love too'. Anything from 20-80k in length, any genre and any heat level. The deadline is 15th June 2010. For more information, click here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Essentials Voice of Africa

For those (like me) who are a little slow on the uptake, please note that Essentials magazine has extended the deadline for the Voice of Africa competition to the end of March. So if you haven't yet entered, you still have a chance! They are looking for romantic short stories of 2,000 words. The competition is co-judged by editors from Mills & Boon, and this year's prizes are awesome, so give it a go.
More information here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jewels of the Night

eBook publisher The Wild Rose Press has an open call for themed submissions that closes on 31st March. The contest is open to aspiring writers as well as all TWRP authors, and the prize is publication - plus a great chance to get your name out there. The details can be found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Website Updates!

You read Claire's post on Self Publishing last week now come check out her bio! It's up on the site here!

Then when you've finished reading up all about Claire you can check out the latest article by Megan Andrews. This time she's all about the emotion! You'll find the article under the On Writing section here.

And if you're not really in the mood for a lot of reading and you'd rather sit and drool over the pretty pictures - check out our hommage to Antonio Banderas here!

And when you're done with all of that come on back here and tell us what you liked and what you'd like to see more of!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Self Publishing

Hi all, I'm Claire Robyns and will be doing the odd post now and then. So, I'm just going to jump in with the topic on my mind today: Self publishing. I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores of self publishing. Most aspiring authors have probably looked at this, considered the ups and downs, and are well aware of what the realistic expectations of self publishing are.

This is something I've flirted with for some time, and recently jumped in and self published my contemporary romance Love Lost and Found in aid of breast cancer fundraising. But some interesting facts turned up while I was researching and wanted to share...

Amazon Kindle has a self publishing platform that is completely painless to use and FREE. Yes, you're probably not going to make any money from self publishing unless you've got a very clever and probably time consuming marketing plan in place, so chances are you don't want to cough up the thousands that most packages are asking. Of course, Amazon gets their bucks when you actually sell - you only get 35% of the list price, they take the rest. But the important thing here is that you can play around and take some chances, because it's not going to cost you anything up front. All you need is your cover image and your manuscript in MS Word, and you're good to go.

This is something I read about on a couple of blogs, but haven't actually seen it done and don't know of any authors. Yet. But it seems that some midlist authors might start using self publishing for genres they'd like to test the waters in and where their publishers don't appear to want to back them. This sounds like an excellent opportunity for midlist authors, and also for us as readers to have something different available from our favourite midlist authors. These would be authors who already have a respectable following, and want to break out in another area. eg a romance author might want to try hard SCI FI. This has the potential to open the door to more readers, and also to 'show' your publisher that you'd be a success in that genre so they'd consider contracting you in that area

And lastly, talking to various people, I got the distinct impression that the whole taboo of self publishing thing is mainly limited to writers and other people immersed in various aspects of the publishing/writing world. The average reader out there does not automatically shut down at the mention of self publishing. Maybe because they're not as clued in as to how much editing is required to produce a polished book, are not as aware of the seeding out process of the publishing streams... who knows? On the other hand, though, I also got the distinct impression that many of these readers have their fav authors and would not easily give a new author a chance - this is more of an issue than whether you've self-published, e-published or whether you're traditionally published. So marketing and getting your name out there, pulling in reviews and recommendations are critical, and you have to work a lot harder at this if you don't have a traditional publisher behind you.

Any comments or thoughts? Please share

Claire

Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing Courses

Radio 702 listeners might have caught Jenny Crwys Williams' show last week in which she interviewed the organiser of an online writing course. Sadly I missed it, but I've had a few friends mention it to me and it piqued my interest. I've heard of this course, and a few others, but I'm struck time and again by the costs involved in learning to write novels. For most of us writing starts as a hobby, growing with time into an obsession and finally, hopefully, into something we can make a living at. But who can afford to spend several thousand rands on what is still effectively a hobby?

I've learned a lot from the internet, from reading 'how to' books and from networking with other writers. But writing is a lonely business and online interaction is a poor substitute for the real thing. I drool over adverts for those glamorous writing courses offered overseas, like Sharon Kendrick's Tuscan romance writing course or the Fishguard weekend with Kate Walker. Am I alone in wondering how long it will be before an esteemed romance writer decides to do a course in the inspirational setting of the bushveld?

Have you been on any writing courses or done an online course? Would you do it again? If you haven't yet done any courses, would you like to and what sort of things would you want to get out of the experience?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sincerest Apologies

Mandy has just pointed out that the Avon Romance contest is only open to US residents. My apologies for not reading all the rules before I posted!

In the meantime, 28th February is just around the corner, so I hope you're polishing your entries for the Essentials magazine Voice of Africa contest.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avon Romance's Regency Contest

This contest is a little different. You don't get to submit your own work, but rather you suggest the plot or theme and a seasoned writer will write the winning story. The four authors include Mary Balogh and Stephanie Laurens so this is really great amazing to keeping!

The deadline is Valentine's Day, so hurry over to check out the site, It Happened One Season, for more information and let your inspiration start flowing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Resolution or Boer Maak 'n Plan?

New beginnings! Yup every January 1st we get that wonderful buzz in knowing that whatever happened during the year before can be put behind us and forgiven. But let's not forget! Why you ask yourself? Sure it's easier to just pretend that all those fabulous ideals we had at the beginning of last year ... well ... maybe they were just a little too lofty, or the timing just wasn't right, or it just wasn't meant to be? No, no my friend! I'm not going to let you get away with that one! No sirree. OK enough self flagellation, let's move on shall we ...

Here in South Africa we have a powerful saying ... 'n boer maak 'n plan. If you think about it logically, have you ever met a farmer who doesn't have a plan? If you want to harvest a crop of potatoes you must first plant the seed, water it, nurture it, wait for it to grow (farmers would probably add in the ... pray like the dickens) and eventually you'll have a crop you can be proud of. But it doesn't just happen all by itself. So how can we expect this year to be any different if we don't make plans?

Does the farmer have his plan in his head, or does he actually put it down on paper, take action by ordering the seed, prepare his fields and so forth? See where I'm going with this?

Commit to yourself this year. Make all those ideals, goals, resolutions - whatever you want to call them - achievable by truly showing your conviction. Apply pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and make your list. Once you've written it down put it somewhere you can see it every single day. Then learn to visualise it happening, feel that burst of glee within you when you have the vision and hold on to that! That's what's going to get you there - your driving force. And if that all sounds like too much effort for you then you don't really have the courage to do it, do you?

So, what are you waiting for? You're reading this which means you're at your computer ... open up that clean document, type heading "Goals for 2010" then start ...

1. Me first. As a mother, wife and everything else which I consider to be my "responsibilities" I will now consider why I'm doing things. Does doing it make me happy or am I simply trying to keep the peace? If it doesn't make me happy then I shouldn't be doing it.

2. Don't sweat the small stuff. Instead of panicking about everything I'm just going to tackle each problem as it crops up. Once dealt with I'm going to let it go and not dwell upon it. Time is too precious to waste like that.

3. Finish, edit and polish at least two completed manuscripts and submit them to the publishers they are targeted at. Different genres of writing allow me to express myself in diverse ways. Instead of trying to force myself to be either one or the other, I'm going to let myself explore both avenues.

So those are my main three for this year. Now that I've shared them with you I've put it out there. My intentions are clear. Failure is not an option.

Are you ready? Would you like to share yours?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Writing Contests

There are a few contests open at the moment for Romance writers, for those of you into entering contests.

Local is lekker, so we'll start with two home-grown South African contests. First up is the second short story contest run by Essentials Magazine in conjunction with Mills & Boon. Deadline is 28th February and the details are available here. This year's prize is awesome so you really should give it a go!

Next is Penguin Books' Prize for African Writing. The deadline is 30th January and the contest criteria can be found here. This contest is for full-length adult contemporary novels out of Africa. Again, an awesome prize - but if you want to enter you'll either need a completed manuscript ready and waiting or be an awesomely fast writer.

Further afield, the Washington DC Romance Writers (a chapter of the RWA) is running its annual Marlene contest, open to entrants word-wide. The deadline is 15th January and you can find more information here. This contest does have an entry fee so I'd recommend it only if you want to get your work in front of these specific contest judges, all editors from top romance publishers.

Then there's the Chase the Dream contest. This annual contest for the opening 1,000 words of a novel, runs from 1st Janaury to 3rd March. Details can be found here. It's great fun, easy to enter, completely free, and can also get your work in front of some top editors and agents.

If you know of any other contests for writers, and specifically for romance writers, open to South African residents, then please drop us a line in the comments section.