Friday, February 24, 2012

Short story submission call

The Wild Rose Press are looking for short stories across all their lines.

If you were inspired to write during the holiday season, and have a short story with a Christmassy theme, deadline for the 2012 holiday season is March 13.

We all have crazy lives, and it's hard to find time to write, but short stories don't take as much time as full length novels, sho why not give it a try? Take some time out just for you - even if it's only 30 minutes a day and write. Don't let yourself get out of the habit of putting something on paper (in the computer) every day.

This from Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press:

Those of you who say you can't write short - I say you can't because you never tried. Seriously. I'm a long writer, always have been but writing the shorter story is sometimes very freeing. You can accomplish a lot when you are forced by page number restrictions.

A short story doesn't necessarily have to be only 12,000 words - a short story technically is anything under 65,000 words. No they don't go to print but they make some seriously good sales on the Kindle and other devices. Also, short stories tend to get picked up by our reviewers ten times quicker than the full lengths. Reviewers, like all of us, are pressed for time. Given the choice to review a 20,000 word story or a 85,000 word story - they are going to go shorter.

So make it your resolution this year to write at least one short story or maybe 2 or 3 and get them submitted. Several of our lines have series running right now - hopefully that will get your creative juices flowing with some ideas.  

Important note from TWRP: all non US authors need to file paperwork to obtain a US Taxpayer ID number before we can publish their manuscript. We can contract them, and we need to before they can even apply, but we can’t publish anything without that number.(See our blog post on how to apply for an ITIN).

Rhonda Penders is judging the Unpublished category of our first ever ROSA contest. You can find out more information about the contest here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pitch to Presents

The Harlequin editors in Richmond are running a pitch contest for their Presents line (published in South Africa as Mills & Boon Modern). If you'd like to enter, you need to act quick as the pitch closes on Monday 27th February.

Aspiring writers can pitch their previously unsubmitted manuscripts to the editors. They're looking for strong Alpha males, exotic settings, and feisty heroines who challenge these heroes.

To enter, you need to write a blurb (the back cover copy) of about 80-100 words, and also provide an extract of 200-250 words. The blurb should be as catchy and enticing as possible, and the extract can be from any part of the story, preferably a scene with intense emotion and sensuality to showcase your writing.

Email your blurb and extract in the body of an email to Harlequin Hosty Rae at, including 'Pitch to Presents' in the subject of the email - and don't forget to include your full name.
No attachments please.

The editors will then choose 5 entrants who will have the opportunity to pitch in an online chat with the editors on 15th March. Winners will be announced a week before.

Entrants MUST be able to use the Harlequin chat room at the given chat time on 15th March, as another venue or option will not be offered, and if you are selected and don't pitch, you'll have cost someone else an opportunity.

Your manuscript does not have to be complete, and you can enter even if you have another submission already in with the editors, however this must be a new story that is not currently under consideration, and which has not been published elsewhere.

Further information is available here and here.

Good luck, and let us know if you're entering.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Next Johannesburg Get-together

We're meeting near Cresta on Thursday, 1st March 2012. If you'd like to join in, drop me an email on

Thursday, February 16, 2012

ROSA 2012 Contest - The Judges

Today we introduce to you the judges for the ROSA 2012 Contest.

The unpublished entrants category will be judged by Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. TWRP already publishes three ROSA members and we can can attest to the fact that they are a dynamic, professional and very author-friendly publisher.

TWRP's submission guidelines can be found here.

Since we're expecting quite a few entries in this category, Ceridwen Morris, former editor of Oshun Books (an imprint of Struik Publishers) has agreed to whittle the entries down to a Top 15 which will be forwarded to Rhonda.

The published entrants category will be judged by Helen Breitwieser of the LA-based Cornerstone Literary Agency. Helen is an experienced literary agent, who has managed the careers of (anongst many others) Kayla Perrin, Tessa Dare, Isabel Sharpe and Sophia Nash. She is registered with the AAR.

Thank you very much to all these ladies for donating their time and effort to this contest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ROSA 2012 Contest - The Prizes

The prizes for the contest are as follows:

Prizes for the Unpublished category
  • The winner's prize is a critique of his/her opening chapter by Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press, a bottle of Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé wine courtesy of Distell, and a 750g box of chocolates
  • 2 x runners-up each win a critique of their opening scene by The Fiction Doctor, and a bottle of Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé wine courtesy of Distell

Prizes for the Published category
  • The winner's prize is an online course on Blogging for Brand from author and social media guru Kristen Lamb, a bottle of Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé wine courtesy of Distell, and a 750g box of chocolates
  • 2 x runners-up each win a critique of their opening scene by The Fiction Doctor, and a bottle of Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé wine courtesy of Distell

* Chocolates available to South African residents only *

Further details of the contest, as well as Terms and Conditions, are available on our website, or click on the link in the left sidebar.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


ROSA is excited to announce the launch of its first ever competition. This contest is open to all authors who either reside in South Africa or who are South African citizens living abroad.

The contest is for opening scenes between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length, for a completed manuscript in any genre of romance. There are two categories: one for previously unpublished entrants, and one for authors who've already had a work of 15,000 words or more published by a traditional publisher.

Contest prizes include professional critiques, wines, chocolates, an online course with social media guru Kristen Lamb, and the chance to get your work in front of some of the top people in the business.

For more information, including judges and prizes, formatting requirements, Terms & Conditions, and how the contest will be organised, please visit our website at

Entries should be sent to, but since you only get one entry with which to impress the judges, take your time and get your opening scene as polished as possible before you enter. The closing date is midnight on Tuesday, 1st May 2012.

For more information, visit our website, or keep watching this blog. We'll be posting information on our judges, updates on prizes, writing tips and a whole lot more right here.

If you have any questions about the contest, leave a comment below and we'll address it as soon as we can.

Best wishes for a fantastic Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's to all our lovely romance writers out there! 

May your day be filled with love!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The IRS and everything you didn't know you needed to know

Taxes. Ugh. Just the thought of having to submit a tax return is enough to make most of us break out in hives. But sadly, it's not an issue we can ignore, so I'm going to try to make this easy for you.

New legislation in the US has made it impossible for any law-abiding publisher in the States to pay anyone who isn't registered with the IRS. Since the vast majority of publishers (including Amazon) are based in the States this means you have two choices if you sell a book or choose to self publish.

Option A. You can register with the IRS.
Option B. You can donate any income from your books to a US-based charity.

Since I plan on making a career - and a living - as a writer, I know which option I'm going to choose. [Sorry Greenpeace].

In order to receive payments from a US-based publisher you need to get an ITIN number (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). This is a relatively simple process: 
  1. Your publisher will give you a letter confirming you will be receiving payments from them. 
  2. Download the W7 form from the IRS website
  3. Complete the form, noting the following: 
  4. Note 1: South Africans select option 'a' at the top of the list - you are a non-US resident claiming a tax treaty benefit. 
  5. Note 2: You also need to select option 'h - Other' and write 'Exception 1(d) - Royalty Income' in the available space. 
  6. Note 3: Don't forget to include South Africa as your Treaty Country. The Treaty Article Number had me stymied, but the article pertaining to royalty income in the Convention of 1997 between SA and the USA appears to be Article 12.
  7. Make a copy of your ID or passport, or some other legal proof of identity. 
  8. Get your ID copy notarised. Ideally, this should be by a public notary rather than at your local branch of the SAPS.
  9. Get an Apostille. This is the tricky bit of the process (the bit I didn't do first time around!) because you can't just get any regular South African notary to do this for you. An Apostille is a document signed by the Registrar of the High Court verifying the South African notary public’s signature. Some attorneys are able to assist, but the only quote I've received so far is a tad pricey (at over R6,000!) but you can apply for an Apostille free of charge through the Department of International Relations. Their offices are in Rietondale, Pretoria, or alternately you can send your documents via snail mail (details on their website).
  10. Snail mail your completed W-7 Form, publisher's letter, ID and Apostille to: Internal Revenue Service, Austin Service Center, ITIN Operation, P.O. Box 149342, Austin, TX 78714-9342.
  11. Wait a couple of months for the IRS to process your application and snail mail you back with an ITIN. While you're waiting, your publisher can defer any payments to you, meaning they hold onto them until they can legally pay it over. 
  12. Complete the W8-Ben form and send it to your publisher. Done. 

The good news is by doing this your publisher will deduct only 10% tax from your earnings, rather than the 30% withholding tax that is usually deducted.
And since your publisher will provide you with proof that you're already paying taxes on this income in the US, you should also be safe from having to give SARS yet another slice of the pie.

South African author Judy Croome (who is conveniently married to a tax expert) has also done a very helpful blog post with links on this issue.

I know this is a schlep, but I highly recommend you do it as soon as you sign your first contract with your publisher. After all, rather do it now at the start of your career than later when you're hitting the bestseller lists and wondering why the hell you signed away all your earnings to Greenpeace.

Update: Please note that these instructions apply only to residents of South Africa. Residents of other countries may have different ITIN application requirements or processes.

And another update - March 2012: I found a very helpful attorney in Fourways, Johannesburg, who arranged the apostille for only R285. It took about 3 working days. If you'd like her contact details, email me on

Update July 2012: Whatever you do, do not send your application via the SA Post Office. They managed to lose my apostilled documents, so I'm back at square one and need to re-apply!

Update 2013: The US government no longer accepts apostilled copies from the South African high court (this is the real effect of widespread corruption!), so now you will need to visit your nearest US embassy or consulate in person to have your passport stamped and notarised. The cost is approximately R500.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Congratulations to the Essentials Winners

Pick up a copy of the February edition of Essentials magazine (available in South African supermarkets and garage shops nationwide) to read the winning story in their Voice of Africa contest. This contest was judged by editors from Harlequin Mills & Boon, and the editors had lots of lovely things to say about the winner, Suzanne Jefferies.

A huge congratulations to our two ROSA members who also finalled. Drue Carter was a runner-up, and Alissa Baxter made the Top 12 with her Regency romance. We are incredibly proud of you, ladies!

Contest season is far from over, though. Watch this blog for a special Valentine's Day announcement - we have a treat in store for you!