Thursday, April 26, 2012

ROSA Contest Clarification

With just six days to go to the contest deadline, we'd like to clarify the one part of the contest Ts & Cs that sadly never got loaded onto the website.

You should enter the Published category if you have a novel or novella of more than 15,000 words contracted to a traditional publisher in either eBook or print format.

All other entrants should enter the Unpublished category. This includes authors who have self-published, or been published in short story form only.

One entry per author only please.

For formatting guidelines and all other Terms & Conditions, please click here, and if you still have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to leave your question in the comments section below.

Good luck to all entrants!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our very own Rosalite: April Vine!

April is an erotic romance writer from the Cape, and an active member of the ROSA Yahoo group. We are so excited to be able to feature her latest release: Unbound, published by Ellora's Cave.


April writes erotic romance by night and is a professional dreamer by day. She has two precious sons who keep her sharp and one very tolerant husband who chivalrously and bravely defends her honour daily.


Staid and straitlaced Michelle Stein has two thoughts fueling her mind…
1. Floor the first man to walk into her antique shop.
2. Throttle her three witch-practicing aunts.

They promised her a tiny spell to fix her ridiculous inhibitions, but instead mischievously delivered a full-blown, sanity-squashing lust spell. The temporary curse apparently has no boundaries either…since the first man who walks through her door is the same man who broke her heart ten years ago. Despite Michelle’s vociferous resistance, Sebastian becomes the only man who can appease her unending physical hunger.

Thirty, heirless and restless, Sebastian Gray is drawn back home to Cape Town to claim the only girl he ever loved. What he finds in her place is a hotly bewitched erotic seductress. Now with the reparation spell her aunts cast gone awry, Sebastian might be on the losing end of a futile battle against a strength-ascending hex, no matter how hard he tries to keep Michelle satiated, alive…or even just human.


* NOTE: This excerpt contains erotic language *

Chapter One

Michelle leaped from the floral-embossed Victorian chair, gripped the edge of the walnut desk and dropped her chin to her chest. Labored breaths somersaulted from her mouth. Her heart beat with swift speed. Her skin screamed under a raging fire.
She was having an attack.
Not a panic attack.
A sex attack.
Oh how she vowed to strangle her aunts, wring their collective witches’ necks and put them on a diet of cabbage for as long as they lived. She thought they’d agreed with her terms and stipulations.
Obviously not, since they’d turned her into a raging sex fiend who without any hesitation would attack the first man who walked through the door of her antiquities shop. Not by her own doing, because how could she, twenty-six-year-old, staid, even-headed and collected Michelle Stein, sign up for such reckless sexual abandonment? Not ever.
She resisted the urge to squeeze her scorching ******* and the temptation to bunch up her cotton panties and pull them taut against her ****. She couldn’t give in. Not while her door remained opened for business.
She wobbled out of her office to the entrance of the store. Pressing her legs together, she chewed her lip in agony as the slightest movement ricocheted spasms of pleasure through her body. Her eyes fixed on the gold-plated sign hanging on the inside of the glass door meters away from her. Her mission to flip it around and keep out any possible victims until the crazy her aunts bestowed upon her evaporated.
Too late.
The door swung open. Eighteenth-century chimes hanging from the paneled ceiling danced in the afternoon breeze. Their former melodious jingle a sex-alert siren in her ear now.
She zeroed in on a musky scent mingled with the clean, self-assured aroma of pure red-blooded male. Her senses hummed. She licked her lips then swerved to a dead halt.
Bedeviled with the worst kind of heat known to any man, woman or animal for that matter, and who chose to walk into her ordinarily sedate but presently doggoned world?
Sebastian Gray.
He who broke her heart in two.
“Glitterbug.” His gravel-and-silk voice spiked and inebriated her nerves. She tore her gaze away from his killer smile and stared into his wicked green-tinged blue eyes, which teased her the same way they did ten years ago.
Only one thought shot through her mind.
Oh dear, I’m going to molest Sebastian Gray.

[This excerpt has been edited due to Blogger age restrictions, however for the full excerpt you can read more here]

You can chat with April online at her website, via email on, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Or by joining the ROSA Yahoo group!  

Unbound is available from: 
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
and direct from Ellora’s Cave

Friday, April 20, 2012

Great opening lines

Anthony Ehlers recently did a blog post on opening lines. It's an excellent post, so if you haven't yet read it, you should.

Taking Anthony's post a step further, I'm going to give examples today of great opening lines. Notice how each opening line conveys not only a sense of the author's writing style, but also what the book is about.

The first example is from one of my favourite authors, Georgette Heyer:
“A fox got in amongst the hens last night, and ravished our best layer,” remarked Miss Lanyon. 
- Georgette Heyer, Venetia (1958)
This sentence introduces the main character, the style of the dialogue gives an indication that this is a period piece, and best of all, hidden in these seemingly innocent words, lies the entire story: this book is about a rake's seduction of an innocent young woman.

If Uncle Lazarro hadn't left the mob, I probably wouldn't have a story to tell. 
 - Janice Thompson, Fools Rush In (2009) 
In one sentence you get that this book is going to be fun, probably a little tongue-in-cheek, and that it'll have something to do with both the mob and family. If this opening line piqued your interest, Fools Rush In is free on Amazon Kindle today.

There was a lot to be said for fictional fianc├ęs, decided Charlotte Greenstone as she settled into the saggy vinyl hospital chair for yet another night-time vigil by her dying godmother’s side.
- Kelly Hunter, With This Fling (2011)
In just one sentence, we meet the heroine, set the scene, and receive a vital clue to what this book is about: this is a romance in which a fictional fiance becomes very real.

It is freezing, an extraordinary -18⁰C, and it’s snowing, and in the language which is no longer mine, the snow is qanik - big, almost weightless crystals falling in stacks and covering the ground with a layer of pulverised white frost. - Peter Hoeg, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (1995) 
In an instant you not only know that snow and ice are going to feature heavily in this story, but that the storyteller is struggling with identity and her place in the world.
And isn't that language just beautiful? I've re-read this book twice and this opening makes me want to dig it out again.

And finally:
This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.” 
- The Princess Bride, William Goldman (1973)
Intriguing. How does a book become a favourite without the narrator having read it?
The reader is guaranteed to keep going to find the answer. This opening line also carries clues that this book is going to be all about stories and story-telling.

Re-read the opening lines of some of your favourite novels and try to spot the clues the author has given the reader of what is to come. Does that opening line convey what the author's voice sounds like in the rest of the novel? Can you guess the book's genre just from that opening line?

Now go back and read your own. Can you rewrite your opening sentence so that it works really hard to not only give as much detail as possible, but also to convey a sense of your style, and also to intrigue the reader to keep on reading?

Do you have a favourite line you'd like to share with us?

There are just twelve days left to the closing date of the ROSA Opening Scene contest. Click on the contest icon in the left sidebar for more information.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Opening scene checklist: what to do, and what not to do

The opening scene of any book is the most important.

Though you need to write a story that grips the reader to the very end, providing sufficient conflict and pace to keep the reader turning the pages, and an ending satisfying enough to make the reader want to read your next book, if you haven’t hooked that reader in the first few pages, all the rest will be wasted effort.

Your opening needs to accomplish several things:
Introduce the main characters - this is perhaps the most important aspect of all, as readers need to care, and the only way they will care is if they identify with your central characters.
What’s at stake? Hint at the central conflict and theme of the novel. Every scene, every page, must have conflict (Note: arguments are not conflict. Conflict is wanting something and not being able to get it). This opening scene needs to give the reader an idea of what the novel’s overall conflict will be.
Set the tone of the story - is this a light and fluffy comedy, dark humour, intense and emotional? Let your natural voice shine through.
Set the scene - where in the world is your story located? Give your reader enough description to picture the background, but don’t dwell on it. This is the moment to capture the reader with action and dialogue, not with lavish descriptions.
Start the scene at a point of change. This is not the moment to have your hero or heroine in introspective mode, re-living the past, or waking up, getting dressed, brushing her teeth, making a cup of tea ... start with the moment she sits down in the chair across from her boss and gets told she’s fired.

What not to do:
• Do not bore the reader to tears with your character’s entire back story. That is for you to know and the reader to find out. Slowly, and in bite-size chunks.
• Do not start at such a high point that you cannot top it again for the rest of the novel. You’ll only leave your reader dissatisfied.
• Similarly, don't start in a dramatic style purely to capture the reader's interest, unless you intend to carry that style throughout the novel.
• Avoid stereo-typical beginnings: the alarm clock waking your main character, the car accident between hero and heroine. Aim for a unique and memorable opening.
• Do not forget to polish your scene to within an inch of its life, without losing your voice and uniqueness. Spelling, punctuation, and clear POV are important if you want to be taken seriously.

Our opening scene contest closes on 1st May 2012. For more information, click on the contest logo in the left sidebar.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Start with a bang!

How to get your story off to a great start

If you’re struggling to find a great beginning to your story or novel for the Rosa writing contest, you know how important those opening lines and paragraphs are to your story. Right from the start of the story, you have to capture the reader’s attention and imagination. From the first few words, you know you have to give them an idea of what the story is going to be about, or create a scene or situation that’s so intriguing they will carry on reading. 

One way to help you along is to study just the first few paragraphs of the novels on your bookshelf or Kindle. You’ll notice that there are only so many ways to start a book. Below are some tips and examples of the most popular starting points in a story. Maybe they will help you get your entry off to a winning start.

Start with character’s goal
Kayla De Beer had less than twenty four-hours to find a husband and time was running out. If she didn’t find someone to marry her fast, she thought, she’d be out of her uncle’s inheritance and a chance to save her mother’s company.

Start with physical action
Tamara bolted between the brushed chrome doors just before they slid closed, clutching her portfolio to her chest, ignoring the loud beating of her heart and the curious stares of the middle-aged executives in the plush elevator. She couldn’t be late for this interview....

I slide down into the soapy bubbles of the bath, sighing as I lean my head against the warm enamel. It’s been a long, long day...

Start with the theme of the story
He didn’t believe in jealousy, Jack Sheldon told himself, but he was determined no woman would make a fool of him either.

Sometimes finding the heart to forgive someone who’s hurt you means finding the heart that allowed you to love them in the first place. Of course, I didn’t know this when I got Jack’s email that Monday morning...

Start with the setting
Hamilton Hall stood proud and intimidating on the hill, its wrought iron gates warding off interlopers, its stone walls protecting its secrets. I guess I was part of its secrets...

The table was set with fine bone china plates and expensive crystal glasses. Each name setting was elegantly written in calligraphy. It was going to be the perfect dinner party...

Start with the weather
The sun cast is brilliance across Summer Bay, turning it the ocean into a broken blue mirror...

Start with dialogue
‘I’ll agree to your proposal on one condition,’ she said. ‘You arrange for my sister’s release immediately and make sure all charges are dropped against her.’

Start with a summary of story and characters
The last thing Kelly Smith needed in her life was another difficult client. Months ago, she’d walked away from a successful career as public relations consultant in Sandton for that very reason. So when her friend, Megan Riley, suggested she apply for job as fundraiser for a non-profit children’s home, she’d jumped at the chance. That was until she realised rugby star, Luke Whitcomb, was its patron.

Start with a historical fact or a ‘factual’ document
In 1886, thousands of fortune hunters rushed to the Witwatersrand to find gold, fame, riches and their dreams.  James Walker Stewart was one of the first to arrive at the dusty settlement.

‘Heiress Elopes with Bad Boy of Rock!’ the headline shrieked. ‘Jenna Kruger, Daughter of billionaire businessman Jack Kruger, tied the knot with her rocker boyfriend, Matt McKenzie, in a hush-hush ceremony in Cape Town.’

Start with a physical description of character
Steven Meyer was not handsome in any conventional sense, but his aura of power and his reputation as ruthless lawyer made him irresistible to most women. Except Andrea Morrell, she was immune to his type.

Start with an inanimate object or symbolism
The cracked crystal vase held a dozen dead red roses, now the colour of old bruises.
‘Members Only’ read the discreet plaque outside the club, but the brass obviously needed a good polish.

Hopefully, these examples will help you see that starting your story is not as difficult as you thought. Experiment with the above suggestions – see which one best serves your story.

Essentially, you need to know what your basic plot is, who your main characters are, and get them into the narrative as soon as possible. The quicker you can get to the conflict in the story, the better. So make sure your first sentence is strong, that your character is interesting and is facing a problem of some sort!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ROSA 2012 Contest: 28 Days

The ROSA 2012 contest closes to submissions in just 28 days.

You can find out more about the contest and submission requirements here at and on our blog you can read more about the judges and the prizes.

Good luck to all entrants!