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 ...

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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.

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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:


  1. I love, loved, LOVED hearing your story Gina! :-) And I couldn't agree with you more ... you gotta be in it to win it! Without submissions there can be no publication.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    PS. I'm very happy to hear your ms was set in SA!

  2. I love nothing better than reading about a writer's journey and yours is inspiring, Gina. And yes, submitting is the key - I do need to be reminded of it from time to time and brave the forces!

    Thank you to both you and Romy for sharing.
    Good luck and much success your way.