Friday, May 27, 2011

Postcards from Cape Town writing retreat

Australian travel writer and photographer Kim Wildman will be hosting a writers' retreat in Cape Town in September.

Held from 5-9 September at beautiful Dunkley House guesthouse in the city's old quarter, this five day retreat will take participants on a travel writing journey through the sights, sounds and scents of Cape Town.

Facilitator: Australian-born Kim Wildman has spent the better part of the last ten years criss-crossing the African continent as a travel writer, guidebook author and wannabe National Geographic wildlife  photographer. She has authored and updated more than 15 guidebooks including Lonely Planet's South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland and West Africa, Bradt Travel Guide’s Tanzania and Ghana, and Random House Struik’s Offbeat South Africa. Kim has a Masters Degree in African Studies attained from the University of Cape Town. Recently voted one of Tripbase’s 100 Favourite Travel Writers in the world, her feature articles have appeared in Travel Africa, abouTime, Planet Africa, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Voyageur magazine. Visit her website at:

You can find out more about this retreat here: or feel free to contact Kim on

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Next Big Author

From Louise Rose-Innes, who will be profiled here on the blog next week:

The Next Big Author – Closing Date May 31st 2011. Supported by Bloomsbury, Random House, Orion, Little Brown and Hodder and Stoughton.

There is still time to enter for feedback from the publishers of authors such as JK Rowling, Dan Brown and Terry Pratchett for the best opening chapters written in May. Please visit for details of how to enter via the competition rules on the left hand side of the site’s homepage.

If the time left seems short, below are a few examples of famous authors who penned completed books in short periods.

Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange: “The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d’esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence.”

Mickey Spillane: His most famous Mike Hammer Novel, I, the Jury, was written in nine days. It sold 7 million copies in three years

From The Guardian: “Alexander Dumas had a 100-louis bet (a decent sum in 1845) that he could write the first volume of Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge in just three days. Powered by a steady supply of coffee (his manuscripts are splattered with it), he pulled it off within six hours to spare with scarcely a crossing out.
In 1941, Jack Kerousac dashed off 200 short stories in eight weeks, thanks to a regime of benzedrene pellets. Stephen King took just three nights to finish The Running Man while hooked up to a Budweiser drip.”

Not that we at SA Romance recommend drugs and alcohol as the solution for writing quickly!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Introducing .... Kathleen Bosman

I hope all our South African readers are at the polls today, exercising your right to a say in your government. Enjoy the day off!

Today I welcome Kathleen Bosman, one of our few Kwazulu-Natal members, who currently lives in Newcastle (the one in South Africa!)

If you live in Natal, please get in touch with us, as we need a few more members before we can get a local chapter going there! (PS: If anyone would like to offer me a job in Durban, I'd love to move back there.)

* * * 

I grew up in Durban and from childhood spent most of my days walking to the library and making up stories in my head while I walked, then reading, reading and reading library books.  I loved fantasy stories and dreamed one day of writing my own books.

A year after marrying Kevin, we left our stable jobs and moved to Zambia to help with education there, planning to stay only two years.  We stayed seven years and although life was hard, I had my three babies there and did not have to work while they were little.  To counteract the boredom of the slow life there, I took up writing and did a writing course on writing for children, thinking that was the type of writing I was only interested in.  I wrote three children's books which when I look back on, I cringe, but it was experience.

After moving back to Newcastle, South Africa, and looking after three busy preschoolers, I put writing aside.

Then when I took a position running a church bookshop, my days became lazy and quiet again and I decided to write an adult novel.  It turned out to be romance!  It was so much easier writing for adults - I didn't have to simplify everything - I could just write.

Since then, I have written about four more novels, each time learning something new and perfecting my talent.  I self-published my first novel, The Shoe Shop, with Raider Publishing and although it was wonderful to have my words in print, the response has been disappointing due to the publisher putting typing errors on the back page of my book and all the websites.

Although I enjoy reading and writing woman's fiction and some suspense, I always enjoy romance the most.

My greatest dream is to be published with a traditional publisher one day and make a successful career of my writing.


* * *

If you would like to join ROSA, please email either myself or Amanda (email addresses below) or leave a comment below with your email address and we'll contact you. The Yahoo group, where we provide moral support, and exchange news and ideas can be found at:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Introducing .... Elaine Pillay

Elaine and I first 'met' online through the New Voices contest. She is a member of the ROSA Yahoo group, and I recently had the pleasure of meeting her in person in Cape Town.

* * * 

All my life I’ve wanted to write. I remember being fifteen and reading my first Penny Jordan book. She became my Romance Writing Goddess whose altar I worshipped at regularly. I secretly feasted on her books and developed a ferocious appetite for all books romantic, and a dream was born.

I remember working as a secretary while I paid for my degree. I would, unbeknown to my bosses, write stories of dark, sexy heroes and heroines trembling with desire, and print pages of fantasies. Of course, I never submitted them but the dream lived on.

I remember getting my degree and moving to Joburg from Durban to work as a Teacher. I had it all mapped out, I would Teach in the day and write at night and the holidays, my, that would certainly help.

Boy, was I wrong. I had no time!

Whenever a child disobeyed an instruction, I would wish that I could stay at home and write or that a submission would be accepted. I would silently pray to the Universe about how I was meant for better things, of how I was meant to be a Writer. So the dream lived on.

I met a guy, he was wonderful. He listened to me dream about my dream. He read my countless pages of man meets woman and laughed. He asked questions, “Why did you choose that title? Do women really want that kind of man?”

He entertained my dream and it became his dream for me, so much so that he asked me to take some time off, stay home and chase it.

But the weight of rejection was too heavy to bear as depression set in and self-doubt grew in leaps and bounds.
Maybe, I was never meant for this.

Then, on my birthday, I woke up and read Anthony Ehlers' blog post, “Do You Remember Your First Time?.” And I remembered the dream that was born at fifteen.

I remembered, writing my first romance short story, as my Matric Prelims Creative Writing Exam. My Teacher, a single woman and an avid romance reader, who had never previously paid attention to me, spoke to me. Really spoke to me.
“I loved your story,” she said.
She looked satisfied and dreamy which surprised me as she was always aloof and strict. For the first time that year, she really looked at me, as though, she was looking for where the story had come from.

And now, I realise that I need to look too, inside me because that is where my stories come from and that is where my dream lives. So I will dust off the cobwebs of rejection and find that romantic beacon that beats with a heart so strong. I hope that you will find yours too because we were born for this.

* * *

If you would like to join ROSA, please email either myself or Amanda (email addresses below) or leave a comment below with your email address and we'll contact you. The Yahoo group, where we provide moral support, and exchange news and ideas can be found at:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Introducing .... Gina Rossi

ROSA (Romance writers Organisation of South Africa) was founded last year and has already grown to nearly 30 members, most based in South Africa but also including South Africans now living abroad. Each Wednesday for the next few weeks we'll be introducing you to various members of ROSA, starting with Gina Rossi.

Gina made the coveted 'reguests' list in Mills & Boon's New Voices contest last year, the only South African to achieve this distinction. I'm now going to hand over to Gina, so she can introduce herself ...

* * *

Born and bred in SA, I have been a scribbler of stories all my life.  I started writing in earnest in 2008.  My first serious submission was to M&B.  It got rejected but they were very kind with their comments, telling me what I did wrong, but, more importantly, what I did right.

While that submission was 'out there' I got hold of a number of  'How to Write' book and started to learn the craft.  I also follow some published writers on their blogs, and it's oddly inspiring to know that they have some of the same basic problems I do!
I feel I've come a long way in 2 years and hope publication isn't far off.

I send off as much stuff as I can possibly write, always with a mind to improving with every effort.  Short stories, partials, poetry, the lot, and I enter competitions whenever I can.  With heaps of stuff submitted, the rejection of one piece of work is not as crushing - believe me!  In addition, I belong to the Romantic Novelists' Association, and submitted a full manuscript to them in 2010.  This is a wonderfully supportive organisation.

I've always wanted to write an historical novel.  Of course I went through every Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland, Anya Seton and Elizabeth Gouge book as a teenager.  My favourite childhood book was The Armourer's House by Rosemary Sutcliffe.  I read it over and over, sighing over Piers...he was definitely my first romantic hero!

I love, love, LOVE the Cape, lived in Stellenbosch, and then in Cape Town until 1999, when my husband's work took him to the UK. 

When I heard about the 2010 M&B New Voices competition, I thought about the historical romance I've always wanted to write (since Piers!).  I imagined the Franschoek area - outpost of the Cape - and how a protected female like the refined Georgina, forced to flee from a scandal in England, would see and experience it. How she would compare it to her old, restricted life and come to value her new freedom.  And how she would react to sexy maverick Anton Villion as he throws himself into the cultural mix.  Both have a past and secrets, and both have a journey to complete before they can fall properly in love.

I wrote Chapter 1 for M&B and sent that off, then completed Chapter 2, just in case, and the Pivotal Moment.  I hoped desperately, somehow, that I would be in the Top 10, but it wasn't to be.  I then threw my name into the hat for a random review.  Ten lucky writers were chosen, but not me.  Nevertheless, I despondently checked the list of writers M&B wanted to follow up in the faint hope...and WOW!  There it was: The Wild Heart!  I didn't know what to do with myself.  I jumped about and shrieked for most of the afternoon.  And opened the wine early (it was Friday, after all).

Then I dug out my Wild Heart notes: all the precious scraps of paper, till slips, dry cleaning reciepts etc with brilliant ideas scribbled all over them, and, you probably guessed - they're all rubbish.  Here are two gems: The Wild Heart could refer to either Anton or Georgina' (I mean, DUH!) and 'Baboons on the roof.' (What the hell is that supposed to mean?)

As you can see, I had work to do!

In mid December I submitted my requested first 3 chapters to M&B - and have heard nothing to date.  I pressed on and finished the manuscript, and am now sending it out to agents.  So far I've had four swift responses out of ten: 3 said 'no' but with encouraging comments rather than a form rejection, and one agent in London has asked for the 1st 3 chapters on the strength of the synopsis (I ran around the house screaming when I got that email!).  So, I live - and write - on in hope!

In my limited experience I would urge our members to submit, submit, submit.  And keep writing all the time!

Good luck to all the aspiring romance writers out there.  Enjoy your writing.

* * *

If you would like to join ROSA, please email either myself or Amanda (email addresses below) or leave a comment below with your email address and we'll contact you. The Yahoo group, where we provide moral support, and exchange news and ideas can be found at:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Brenda Novak's Annual Auction

Since 2005 NYT best-selling author Brenda Novak has run an online auction to raise funds for Diabetes research. The 2011 auction opened today, and runs for the entire month of May.

The auction is specially geared towards readers and writers, with hundreds of autographed books, gift baskets and jewellery up for grabs, as well as professional critiques, marketing opportunities and editor & agent critiques. Click on the banner below to check it out - and good luck if you place any bids.