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Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays!

From all of us at the Romance writers Organisation of South Africa, best wishes for a fantastic holiday season!

2013 has been an incredible year, with more of our members being published than ever before, and 2014 is going to be even better.

But before we tackle the new year, it's time for a little well deserved rest and recuperation. Pat yourselves on the back for everything you've accomplished this year, even if your biggest achievement is surviving everything life had to throw at you. One day those experiences might make great stories.

So however you celebrate this season...

Image courtesy of www.kerstencards.com

PS: And if you're looking for a fun beach read this holiday, check out our list of South African romance novelists and you'll find a wealth of great books.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taking Off The Rose-Tinted Glasses

In romance and chick lit novels, the reader is usually assured that the hero in the book is a good guy, and she has a deep comforting feeling that it’s all going to work out. Even if the hero seems to have bad qualities, a reader knows that by the end of the book, the author will have worked out all the potential issues.

However, if a woman translates this attitude to real life there is potential for disaster! A woman has to be savvy to deal with a single man, especially if he is a stranger. No matter how much she might be open to love, she has to be aware that a man, in the beginning, does not have her best interests at heart. He has his best interests at heart. So a woman who is kind-hearted and giving, and is conditioned to putting others first, can very easily fall into the trap of doing this with a man she is dating. However, this is to her detriment if she puts his needs before her own, as she might end up with a man who wants to have the dating game entirely on his own terms.

The more romantic a woman is, the more armour she needs. And as romantic women don’t think of relationships as a battlefield, and are so open to love, they can make the mistake of believing that a man is just like them and wants what they want. This is dangerous thinking because a woman never knows what a man’s motives are when he starts a relationship with her. He might not start off a relationship looking for love and warmth and intimacy – he could simply be seeing the woman he’s dating as a challenge to be conquered.

In romantic novels, you’ll notice that it is often only in the process of chasing an attractive woman that the hero’s emotions become involved and then, unexpectedly, he falls in love. That’s why it’s called falling in love… he didn’t expect it! I think romantic women always expect love. Men don’t necessarily.

This is what my heroine in my chick lit novel, The Blog Affair, realises she has to learn. In order to analyse her past relationships which have gone wrong, she sets up a blog in an attempt to understand the shortfalls of men she calls “serial datists”. However, it's easy to put so much armour on when you're single and dating that you send out "stay away" signals which can be detrimental to attracting a healthy relationship. No one ever said dating was easy and that's why I thought it would be such an interesting thing to examine in a novel.

THE BLOG AFFAIR is available on Amazon.

 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Excerpt from THE BLOG AFFAIR by Alissa Baxter




“For the past few weeks, she had been thinking a lot about changing her life, and had been toying with the idea of creating her own blog so that she could clarify her thought processes. She’d always kept a diary, and a blog, in a lot of ways, was an online diary—with the added benefit that she could interact with people online. The idea of venting her emotions in cyberspace was appealing, and in some way, symbolic of letting go…. And she certainly needed to let go.
She went through the blog registration process, and then frowned at the blank screen as she contemplated what she should write for her first post.
After a few moments, she started typing.
PENELOPE’S PANTRY …
A PLACE FOR YOU TO POINT OUT YOUR VIEW
Serial Datism
The first time I ever met a serial datist, I was nineteen years old. At that age, I wasn’t capable of recognising the warning signs of this particular species of the human male. Needless to say, I got burned. Badly.
Serial datism is a concept I’ve been pondering recently. And it’s something I hope to examine in this blog. Any comments from readers are welcome, therefore, as I attempt to shed light on a variety of the dating male that has me completely bemused. The best way to do this, I’ve decided, is to debate in an open forum—where I, and any other participants in the discussion, can flick on the switch, in a manner of speaking, and illuminate the matter.
I attract serial datists, and so it is perfectly fitting that I should introduce this topic into cyber space. But this doesn’t mean I’m an expert at identifying them. You see, the tricky thing about serial datists is that they aren’t easily defined.
They come in many shapes and sizes and forms, and they may even mutate! They can start off in one form and end up in quite another shape and size within a small space of time. And therein lies their danger.
Okay—to introduce myself. I’m Penelope (well, that’s one of my names) and this blog is called Penelope’s Pantry, because like Penelope from ancient Greek mythology, I’ve had loads of suitors in my life. And the pantry part? Well, a pantry is a dark storeroom, and this is where I hope to stockpile my thoughts and feelings and emotions. On neatly stacked shelves, of course. I’m a fanatically neat person, and like things to be tidy.
So let’s start at the very beginning (my ordered mind demands this) with a definition of a serial datist: He is a male who, like a bee, goes from one woman to the next, landing on each female blossom for a short period of time. When he leaves, he stings them.
But unfortunately, unlike a bee, a serial datist doesn’t die after he stings. He goes on to sting again and again, and the only way to kill him is to swat him, or stomp on him with your heel. Or leave out a bowl of sugared water in which he can drown. But, on second thoughts, I think the latter technique is for ants....
Be that as it may, before anyone starts wondering whether I’m a convicted killer, I hasten to assure you I am not. I’ve certainly felt a strong desire to stomp on the various bees that have entered my life, but fortunately for these creatures, the thought of killing causes me to break out in hives. Therefore, it is only a fantasy I have indulged in from time to time.
Now that we’ve cleared up the fact that I’m not a murderer, I would like to point out that the bee who delivers his nasty stings is the real killer in the scenario. Why? Well, it’s obvious. He kills your feelings, and leaves your emotions bleeding to death. Some more pedantic readers out there might point out that bee stings don’t cause you to bleed. So what—I’m using it in a figurative sense.
But, and here I’m not being figurative at all, bees can make you swell up. Besides the fact that their stings can cause you to comfort-eat, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy to them. And I’m afraid that’s what’s happened to me. I am allergic to serial datists AKA bees AKA Emotionally Unavailable Men.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. That is simply one of the categories of serial datists. According to my calculations, there are at least four others.
Allow me to list them:
1) The afore-mentioned Emotionally Unavailable Male
2) The Wannabe Player
3) The Commitment-Phobe
4) The Bad Boy
5) The Misogynist (before he finds a woman to control)
I will be examining each category in more detail later. But in the meantime—any comments from readers on what I’ve already expounded are most welcome.
Posted by Penelope on Tuesday, July 8 at 08:32 p.m."

BLURB FOR THE BLOG AFFAIR
Twenty-something South African Emma Bradshaw has a pattern of falling for unsuitable men and starts a blog about these so-called “serial datists”. Her search for new beginnings takes her to Cape Town, where she gets a job working for sexy author, Nick Reynolds. Romance with her boss is a no-no, but slowly, Nick works his way around her defenses. Trust him, or not, especially with her awful track record with men?
When an anonymous male reader of the blog challenges her on her ideas about the male species, Emma realises she must confront her past and find her true self before she can move forward...and love can blossom again in her future.

THE BLOG AFFAIR is available on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Different Kind of December

I can't believe it's December already - and that's mostly because it's summer outside! This is my first Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere and it's a trip.  Even more confusing than wearing short dresses in December is the obvious infiltration of winter imagery into the very summery South African holiday season. The other weekend I went to the shops in pursuit of suitably African Christmas cards, but almost everything I saw had snow, snowmen, snow-covered evergreen trees, and people wearing scarves and gloves!

In a season that's all about tradition, sometimes life intervenes and we have to change the way we've always done things. For me, it's spending Christmas in a rural chalet enjoying summer weather instead of in my Kansas hometown. And for Beth Tate, the heroine of my holiday novella HERO'S HOMECOMING, it means abandoning her plan for a solo Christmas and driving through a blizzard to retrieve the man with whom she had a whirlwind romance - and who broke her heart when he dropped her with barely a word.

Chris is heading home for a traditional family Christmas on his parents’ ranch in northern Kansas, and although the festivities will be the same, this year something is very different - two months earlier he was severely wounded in combat, and lost his eyesight as a result. When a blizzard strands him at the regional airport he has no choice but to contact the woman who meant everything, and whom he has to protect from the burden of his disability at all costs.

Neither Chris nor Beth end up having the Christmas they expect, but they both get the homecoming they need. And although I'll miss the smell of real pine trees and the way Christmas lights brighten up dark winter evenings, I'm so excited to spend Christmas morning enjoying warm sunshine, the rugged beauty of the South African countryside, and if we're lucky, maybe even some monkeys!

How have your holiday traditions evolved over the years? Is there anything you're especially looking forward to this season?
--

HERO'S HOMECOMING is available on its own: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe * Audible

Or as part of the GIFTS OF HONOR duology: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe

Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca recently relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Find her on the web at rebeccacrowley.net or on Twitter at @rachelmaybe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Where Do You Want to See the Characters Romance?

What role does the setting of a romance novel play in reader’s enjoyment of romance novels? I don’t know the answer, but I have been pondering this question for some time. Setting for the purposes of this blog post, refers to the geographical place where the novel is set—let’s leave the period in history aside for now.

On the one hand, for some readers a romance set in in the Sahara dessert will not bode well for the development of romance between the main characters while for others, this would be the ideal place to force the couple to rely only on each other for survival. How well the characters cope with the challenging circumstances is all up to the writer.

Setting the story in harsh physical circumstances could reveal the characters’ strong and weak attributes and it could curb or help the romance develop. But, can the romance compete with the constant thirst and heat exhaustion experienced by the characters? What about a setting in the Antarctic?
What if the writer used the cold, miserable and unforgiving circumstances as a setting for a romance novel? Take for instance Antarctic Affair by Louise Rose-Innes who used this setting to write a compelling romance. Do these external struggles influence readers into buying the book or cause them to pause, reconsider and move on to the next book on the shelve?

Images of white beaches with palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze fit the idea of a romance novel better. Places readers associate with traditional honeymoon destinations seem to be the preferred setting —or part of the setting— for most romance novels. The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy Sommer. These are relaxing settings where the characters can concentrate on their relationship without the interference of nature’s whims. Granted, a storm or two could spice up the setting, but it remains a traditionally romantic setting.
Examples of popular romance novels utilizing this setting is

If the cover of a book revealed the novel was set in a location you abhorred, would you pass on picking up the book or would you be lead by the blurb on the back despite the place where the novel was set?

by Yolande Pienaar
Author of Gogga op 'n Harley, Katelknaap vir Carlien, Speelgoed

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Excerpt from HERO'S HOMECOMING by Rebecca Crowley

My military holiday novella HERO'S HOMECOMING hit digital shelves on Thursday, both on its own and as half of GIFTS OF HONOR, one of Carina Press's holiday collections. I can't explain how proud I am of this novella, and that it appears beside the incredible STARTING FROM SCRATCH by Stacy Gail. Today I'm sharing an excerpt from the first chapter, which is the first appearance of the hero, Chris, an infantry officer recently wounded in Afghanistan.

--

Chris sat perfectly still amid the bustle and chaos of Manhattan, Kansas’s small regional airport. The normally quiet building, which consisted of little more than a check-in desk, a waiting area and a single departures gate, was teeming with holiday travelers delighted to have made it onto what would probably be the last flight to arrive before the blizzard dumped a predicted two feet of snow on the eastern part of the state.

Two children fought over a handheld video game. Their hassled mother halfheartedly scolded them, but
she was preoccupied with wondering aloud what was taking her sister so long to arrive to retrieve them. A group of soldiers discussed the trip to Washington, D.C., from which they were returning, and the marksmanship exhibition they’d taken part in there. Meanwhile another family—mom, dad and a young son—were walking toward him. He guessed from their earlier conversation that both were high school teachers in Dallas, returning to their mutual hometown for Christmas. Their voices hushed as they approached, and soon they came to a halt directly in front of him.

The father cleared his throat. “We just wanted to thank you for your service. We appreciate all that our
military does for our country.”

Chris nodded stoically. He knew he shouldn’t be ungrateful, but ever since he’d come back from Afghanistan he absolutely loathed the attention his uniform attracted. He hadn’t even wanted to wear his Army Service Uniform, but the hospital staff had encouraged him to wear something official in case he needed assistance and had to identify himself as military, and he couldn’t bring himself to put on his combat fatigues.

“That’s very kind, thank you.”

There was an awkward pause, and then the father continued, “Well, you have a merry Christmas.”

“You too,” Chris replied, and the family moved away. As soon as they were behind him, Chris heard the boy ask, “Why didn’t he want to shake your hand, Daddy?”

And in a whisper his father explained, “He just didn’t see it. He’s blind.”

Chris gritted his teeth against what was becoming an all-too-familiar sense of humiliation. Cringing, he let his sightless, useless eyes momentarily fall shut.

The hassled mother’s sister arrived. Chris heard the stress melt from the woman’s voice as she greeted her family, and he felt a twinge of jealousy. He’d insisted that he could travel home from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio by himself, and had dismissed his parents’ offer to fly down and meet him there. He’d taken the two short flights from San Antonio to Dallas and then Dallas to Manhattan with no problem, needing only minimal assistance, and was feeling triumphant when he came through the arrivals gate in Kansas. It was only as he stood near the baggage claim, waiting to hear his name called in a familiar voice or for the recognizable scent of his mother’s perfume to waft up to his side that he began to feel uncertain.

Then his phone had buzzed in his pocket and he took his mother’s borderline hysterical call, in which
she tearfully explained that the pickup was stuck in a snowbank somewhere near Route 77 and the roads going south were quickly becoming impassable. He’d assured her that he was fine, everything would be okay and he’d get himself to a hotel in Manhattan until the weather cleared. Then he stood stock-still, wondering what the hell he was going to do, for so long that an airport employee eventually came over and asked if he’d like to be shown to a seat.

Calling Beth had been inevitable from the moment he hung up with his mother, but that didn’t mean he
hadn’t spent a solid half hour racking his brain for any possible alternative. He couldn’t bring himself to call anyone from Fort Riley, not yet—he couldn’t bear the shame of his disability, his colleagues’ valiant efforts at concealing their pity or his own guilt at having survived an attack that claimed the lives of three men under his command. He didn’t know anyone else in town and the thought of asking airport staff for a taxi number, having to find the right bills to pay the driver and then navigating a hotel lobby on his own was simply too daunting after the two plane journeys he’d already undertaken that day.

And—if he was really, cruelly honest with himself—he wanted to be with Beth again, even if only to sit beside her in hostile silence for a ten-minute car ride. It would be as close as he would get to saying goodbye.

After the suicide bomber had penetrated the compound, after the days lost to anesthesia and painkillers,
after he woke up to discover that his world had shrunk to a shifting palette of grays and shadows, he’d known he had to hurt Beth to protect her. It was only fair—they’d spent less than a week together, and he couldn’t ask her to tie herself to him and take on the burden that he had become, especially since he knew she would unhesitatingly, ungrudgingly say yes. He knew this decision would have consequences, and he comforted himself with the knowledge that he was doing the right thing by letting her go.

“Chris?”

As if on cue, the voice that had haunted his waking hours for months was behind him, accompanied by the soft swish of a heavy coat and the scent of vanilla. He swallowed hard against a rush of nerves as he hastily brushed off the front of his uniform, although he knew full well that if anything was seriously amiss with his clothing he would be the last to know. He ran his hand through his hair, picked up the collapsible white cane he hated more than anything from the chair beside him and wished for the millionth time that he could see for himself whether the facial scarring was really as minimal as everyone assured him.

Then he stood and turned to face the only woman who’d ever mattered.

--

HERO'S HOMECOMING is available on its own: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe * Audible

Or as part of the GIFTS OF HONOR duology: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe

Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca recently relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Find her on the web at rebeccacrowley.net or on Twitter at @rachelmaybe.
 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What my first #Nano has taught me

By Zee Monodee

Hey beautiful people!

Amid all the Nano madness, it almost slipped by me that I was supposed to post here today, about my experience as a first-time Nano participant. So where do I start telling you what a journey it has been since November 1?

I regularly describe myself as the quintessential headless chicken. Mind, I am organized, but to someone other than me, I just might look like a hot mess. Bridget Jones has nothing on me where being a basket case is concerned (just ask my husband!).

Now add the need to write 50,000 words in one month and you get...a freak show!

I'm a stay-at-home-mum, and November is prolly the worst month ever for me because my son is on summer break and my stepson, too, will be haunting my house during those free days. There's still chauffeur duty (to gym, jujitsu, all that lovely hoopla), and I seem to be on call in the kitchen 24/7 because growing boys will eat everything and the kitchen sink in a single day. I'm also a housewife, meaning I have no helper or cook or sous-chef to lend a hand around (that creature known as the hubby is at work all day).
I also hold a 'day' job (yes, I can work in my pyjamas and on my own schedule), in that I'm an editor with clients and deadlines and needing to answer to a boss. Life/work doesn't come to a standstill in November, sadly.
Then, too, as proud as I am to say this - I'm a 2x cancer survivor - I also hate this tag because it means I am not exactly able to power on at 100% the way 'healthy' people are. Yes, I do feel fine, but it's been 9 years since I last heard "you're in perfect health" coming from the mouth of a doctor.

And yes, I'm getting to my point, bear with me, please.

So I am the quintessential headless chicken turned freak show...but guess what? Today is November 20, and I am 893 words short of crossing the 50K mark on my Nano story.

My point would be? This:

If you want it hard enough, you can get/do it. It isn't simpler than this.

They say half the battle of fighting cancer is in the positive attitude. That's hard to do when you're chucking everything but your guts for 72 hours straight after a chemo session. That's almost impossible when you find yourself burnt like a nuclear bomb survivor 2 weeks before your radiotherapy sessions are supposed to be over. And it's like moving mountains when the biopsy results return and you hear that evil, evil M word - malignant.

But people the world over battle cancer everyday; I'm proof of the pudding. And I've seen folks with better-on-paper results and prognoses than mine not make it, because they didn't have the rage to fight.

So 50,000 words in under one month? Fight for it! Nothing will come unless you make it come to you. Find the time. Better yet, make the time. If I could do it, you can, too.

They say that where there's a will, there's a way. Clicheed idiom, but it became a cliche for a good reason - because it's the truth.

Will I attempt Nano again next year? You bet.

Will I try to write 50K in under a month again throughout 2014? Never on my life! I've got just enough in me to manage the freak show for a month, and not longer!

Believe in yourself, and only then will you reach the stars....

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This Sunday's Excerpt is from 'Life After 6 Tequilas' by Gina Rossi

Beth Johnson, an upbeat, hardworking, single mum living in London takes the humorous challenges of life in her stride. Her career is fast-tracking but that’s secondary to baby Jacob – his care and development are paramount. When her impeccably-organized childcare routine implodes at the worst possible moment, she has no choice but to leave Jacob with unlikely ‘nanny’, Davit Kacharava, a Georgian migrant. Is she making an enormous mistake, letting this stranger into her comfortable world, even if he is gorgeous? She’s drawn to Davit but he resists, so why does she reveal to him the shocking secret that overshadows her life? And can she face the truth – do what’s right for herself, Jacob and Davit – before it’s too late?

Excerpt:

“Do you have any experience?” I ask Davit.
His grey eyes, like dark steel, are intent on my mouth. I’m thinking aircraft carriers, the North Sea in winter, and all the Eastern Bloc baddies in 24.
“Say?”
“Childcare experience?”
He thinks for a moment. “I have small brothers, sister.”
“Great.”
“Mother, father.”
“And?”
I wait. Nothing. He looks down at his boots.
“Are you a professional nanny, um, Davit? Child carer?” I ask.
He looks up quickly, his face blank. I try again. “What job do you do?”
“Woodcutter.”
“You cut down trees?” That would explain the massive arms and the tan. But I’m having trouble working out the link between tree felling and baby care.
“I cut furniture,” he says.
I look at my kitchen and imagine the cupboards, table and chairs reduced to kindling in the flash of a wielded axe, possibly lurking in the bag at his feet – a bag that looks like a cross between Goliath’s golf bag and a size XXL body bag.
“Carpenter,” he says, rapping broad knuckles on my prized little butcher’s block trolley. It rocks with fright. “I make.”
I turn to Fenella. “Fenella.” I drop the “Ms Forsythe” in an attempt at authority. “I’m sure your childcare agency is the best in London, but he’s a carpenter, not a nanny. And, by the way, he can’t speak English.”
“Neither can your baby,” she retorts, reaching into her bag for a mobile phone that’s singing an aria from La Traviata. I glimpse a pack of Benson & Hedges. She ignores the bit about carpenter versus nanny, concentrating on her phone.
“This is Trevor,” she says, “your boss,” (as if I don’t know). “Time to go.” She ducks away, the phone to her ear. “Absolutely fine, Trevor. We’re on our way.”
Like hell. I’m numb all over, except for a small twisting, panicky knot in my tummy. The clock ticks on.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I say.
Fenella’s eyes narrow, stretching her face to breaking point. I fear backlash from the ponytail. She stretches out her arms, and pats the air in front of her, like the Pope.
“Everything will be all right, Beth.”
“I wouldn’t leave my child with a stranger for one minute!”
“Many people do.” She’s using a calm, slow, warning tone, like she’s talking me down from a ledge.
“They don’t.”
“Oh, but they do.” She folds her arms, furling the wings. “And they use professionals. Look at it like this. You go to a dentist you’ve probably known for years, right?”
“Yes.”
“But, if you need specialist work he refers you to a specialist dental surgeon and you go along happily and trust your precious teeth to a complete stranger, who charges you like a wounded buffalo.”
She’s right. She has a point and I tell her so. But Jacob is my human baby, not a tooth.
“And this guy is a Russian carpenter,” I point at Davit, “not a professional child carer.”
“Georgian,” Davit growls, dipping his heavy brows at me. “From Tbilisi.”
Fenella holds up her hands. “All right.” She inclines her neat head. “He was installing built-in cupboards in my friend Charles Davenport’s house in Marlborough Crescent. Charles is a heart surgeon and his wife, Francesca, a senior partner in a law firm. A huge law firm,” she adds, as if it matters. “They had an, er, housekeeping crisis and Davit took it all in his stride for a few days.”
“I see,” I say, although I don’t. “How old are the Davenport kids?”
“Sixteen and eighteen,” she says, proud as you like. “The Davenports are friends of Trevor’s too. Trevor will vouch for them.”
So what? Jacob’s weighing a ton in my arms. He’s sliding down my front, wet now because he’s been sucking the top button of my shirt.
Davit steps forward and takes him. I hang on for dear life, but am no match for those ginormous biceps. Muscleman Davit doesn’t register the slightest resistance. Jacob is thrilled (you could toss him into the lineout at a rugby game and he’d be thrilled) and he smiles and claps his hands, and then his face goes solemn. He’s staring at Davit with round blue eyes, reaching out, fingers stretched into a pink starfish. There’s a row of darling dimples where his knuckles are going to be. He touches the shadow of stubble on Davit’s cheek.
“Bub,” he says, patting, enjoying the texture.
Davit smiles, showing perfect teeth and a dimple of his own. He glances at me and our eyes catch for a moment. I’m not thinking aircraft carriers and wintry sea anymore, rather grey cashmere, and the warm silver ears of the Siamese kitten that comes over the fence from next door.
I subside onto the kitchen chair. “I don’t know—”
“Come on, Beth. Let’s not be late,” Fenella says. “I’ll drive you to the airport.”
No escape.
*****
Thanks for reading! If you'd like a glimpse into the world of Beth, Davit and baby Jacob, have a look at http://www.pinterest.com/ginarossiwriter/life-after-6-tequilas-by-gina-rossi-in-e-book-and-/

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How NOT to Write a Romance Novel

Recently, during an evening with family and friends, the talk turned to romantic novels. Great recent reads were shared and discussed. What made them great? Good writing, including good research, careful plotting, and respect for the reader by way of meticulous editing. Realistic characterization, humour and considered vocabulary were also mentioned. It was interesting.

But, as the wine flowed on, it got more interesting. We moved on to rubbish romantic reads, and what made them so bad. There are some old chestnuts listed below, and a few surprises (in no particular order), but what do you ‒ as a reader ‒ think?

Add your comments below, and share your advice on how NOT to write a romance novel:

1. Eyes are not people, people. ‘His eyes rested on her face.’ What? Did his eyes climb out of their sockets, find pillows, and go snuggle up on her cheeks for a bit of shut-eye? No, of course they didn’t. Likewise ‘His eyes dropped to the floor.’ Go figure.

2. Do not give your hero hard thighs because it sounds like, you know, it spread downwards.

3. Please, please ‒ particularly in erotic romance ‒ no throbbing, bobbing, thrusting, moaning or groaning. And no pulsing, okay? And cut the heaving while you’re at it.

4. If your heroine is a single mum out on a date with the kid in tow, please don’t present us readers with an angel child. As mums ourselves, we feel inadequate. Let that kid vomit on the hero. Just the once, on his shoes. There, we feel better already.

5. Stop the love-at-first-sight scenario. Stick to strong physical attraction to get off to a hot start.

6. Please have the decency to remember that sexual urge does not make a woman’s brain stop working.

7. No woman has breath like fresh rose petals first thing in the morning. Get your heroine to nip along to the toothpaste station before Mr Magnificent wakes up.

8. Pay attention to emotion in sex scenes. Go deep, deeper, deepest (LOL!). Include sounds, smells, textures, tastes, noises, sensations, colours, thoughts, and more. Sex scenes without emotion are no more than porn.

9. Don’t take too long undressing before a sex scene. If hero and heroine are crossing the North Pole in midwinter on foot just say ‒ when they get to the igloo ‒ ‘They took off their clothes’, otherwise we’ll be here all week as they discard the layers and forget, along with the reader, what was supposed to be happening. Summer is easy. He can wear shorts, she can wear a bikini. There, done.

10. Please dress your heroes after sex because once, apparently, in some or other historical novel, the Duke left off ravishing his stolen maiden in the boudoir, seized his weapon (his sword, his sword, dear reader) and raced off to do battle. The author forgot to dress him! Imagine the danger, rushing into battle, naked? Apart from anything else he could have got that sword between his legs and...oooh...oh...ow.

11. As far as characters’ characteristics go, interesting is more interesting than handsome or beautiful.

12. A hero or heroine with an unhappy childhood or abusive background is old hat, boring, and a lazy effort by the writer to produce character flaws and conflict. Likewise the love triangle. Enough.

13. Create normal-sized people. The hero doesn’t always have to be 7’2” with a chest as wide as a brick sh**house. He doesn’t have to be able to bend steel with his winkie. He doesn’t always have to have a tan, for crying out, particularly if he’s wearing a kilt. I mean, have you ever seen a Scotsman with a tan? Still on the subject, the heroine must not be perfect. Give us a woman whose cuticles are in bad shape, so we can relate.

14. Hey! Let’s have protected sex, please. A fleeting thought will suffice, or a crinkle of foil.

15. Aim for sensation and sensuality in sex scenes, not a biology lesson. We know what’s going to happen and how, without being told which part fits where. ‘Show, don’t tell’ never had a stronger role to play than beneath the duvet.

16. Too much sex in a book is really, really boring. Unless it’s a sex book.

17. Guys don’t orgasm six times a night, every night. Believe me, if they did, we’d know about it.

18. Beware the virgin heroine ‒ oft-times found simpering in an historical novel ‒ who is a sudden, sexy, hellcat behind the closed curtains of the four-poster, who renders the worldly hero a gasping devotee, on his knees, begging for her love. We figure she’s lied about her past. Be a credible writer.

19. It’s a hard world out there and in this post-recession gloom we probably don’t want to read about severe financial mismanagement problems that put the heroine off the hero. However, not every hero needs to be a bazillionnaire, okay? Just make him good with money, that’s the max we ask.

20. And, lastly but not least, for the love of Jamie Oliver, give your heroine a good appetite at mealtimes. No one likes a picky eater.

Please add your comments below, and thanks so much for reading!

Gina Rossi

‘Life After 6 Tequilas’ - http://amzn.com/B00BO1RP8E - Chick Lit
‘The Wild Heart’ - http://amzn.com/1612171087 - Historical, set in 18thC South Africa
‘To Hear You Smile’ - http://amzn.com/B00925BZ0S - Contemporary novella
Please join me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gina.rossi.7, Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/ginarossiwriter/gina-rossi/ and Twitter


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Excerpt from Love, in Writing by Elsa Winckler

He drew in a deep breath. ‘You were in the lift with me last night, weren’t you? You’re wearing more clothes now. What the hell are you doing here? Did you follow me here? What…?’

Margaret seldom got angry. She normally found it a useless exercise. No one took her seriously anyway and she always ended up with a terrible headache. But she was angry now. And the beginnings of a whopping headache stretched its tight tentacles across the back of her head.

 ‘I was unfortunate enough to have to share the lift with you last night, yes. But this is my shop. I did not follow you here.’

 ‘Your shop?’ He seemed to be at a complete loss for words. For a little while at least. Then he gestured irritably to the books on the shelves. ‘This is a ridiculous bookshop. You don’t have any science fiction books, no —’

Margaret lifted her chin. ‘You are most welcome to leave, sir. No one is forcing you to stay. And we do have science fiction books. There is a whole section behind you. You will also find the latest vampire stories there. The only difference between this book store and any other is that —’

 ‘You only have books with happy endings. I’ve never heard of anything so completely bizarre. It is, you know.’ 

‘Well, now you have. Goodbye, sir, I don’t believe we have anything of interest for you.’

 ‘You can’t kick me out, I’m a paying customer!’ He looked around. ‘And from what I can see, you need some of those,’ he sneered.

 Margaret walked towards the door. ‘Please leave. As the proprietor, I have the right to kick out anyone I want to.’

 From the corner of her eye she could see Jen vehemently shaking her head and trying to catch her attention. But she now wanted the man out of her shop, out of Kommetjie, out of her life.

He stared at her for a long moment and then walked passed her, muttering. ‘Margaret, do you have any idea who that man is?’ Jen asked breathlessly.

‘Yes. He’s the one I told you about this morning. He was the one who thought I was stalking him, as if I…’

Jen laughed and covered her face with her hands.

‘What?’ Jen dropped her hands and rolled her eyes dramatically.

‘That man, my dear Margaret…’ She giggled again. ‘That man, the one you have just kicked out of your shop, is Graham Connelly. The Graham Connelly. The world renowned Graham Connelly. Science fiction author. You even have one or two of his books here. Only those with happy endings, of course, but at least we do have a few of his books.’

Margaret groaned and sat down in the nearest chair. She swore.

Jen inhaled sharply. ‘Did you use a bad word?’ Jen giggled.

Margaret swore again. ‘Yes, and I know I never do, but that man…’ She got up and paced restlessly through the shop. ‘I was rude, but I had a reason to be. He is…he is…impossible.’

‘Impossible? Is that the best you can do?’ Jen laughed. ‘But I can see that you are really angry and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you angry. Your eyes are stormy, you are breathing heavily, your cheeks are red and you have been swearing. And all because of a man. Does any of this sound familiar to you?’ 

‘What do you mean?’

Jen only smiled. ‘You should read your own books. Any first chapter of any of your books. What we have here, Margaret dear, is a first chapter in one of your romances.’ And still smiling, she turned to a customer who had entered the shop.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Keepers: Sienna - Excerpt


A full moon in Rapid Falls.

Sienna Beckham is a powerful witch, and along with her four fiercely protective Keepers, it is her destiny to maintain the balance of nature in this world.

Tonight, it's the town carnival and everyone will be there: Sienna's family, her friends, her protectors. Archer.

Laughter and flirtation await.

But in a few hours, Sienna's life will have changed forever and her powers stretched to their very limits.

For something is lurking in the forest…

Murder. Sorcery. Revenge.

And no one sees it coming.

Find out how it all began…

The FREE PREQUEL to Rae Rivers' magical new series, The Keepers.

Excerpt

Setting the scene: Sienna is at the town carnival with her four Keepers and she's on the Ferris Wheel with youngest Keeper, Sarah Bennett. Sienna sees Archer waiting for her below, standing beside the school's caretaker...


And standing beside the old man was Archer.

Her breath caught as her gaze met his and all thoughts of the caretaker disappeared. Archer wore jeans and a suede black jacket, his hands shoved casually into his pockets. He was tall, with broad shoulders and a sexy presence that had a group of teenage girls standing nearby swooning over him.

The fact that their relationship was forbidden, cursed, did little to calm the butterfly flip in her stomach.

With a brief shake of the head, Sienna silently scolded herself for the direction of her thoughts.

He could never be hers. Ever.

“I’m going to be sick looking at you two ogling each other like that,” Sarah said, feigning a gag. “You’re going to have The Circle spitting snakes if you’re not careful.”

Sienna waved her off, not caring for the discussion that would follow. It was one they’d had far too often of late.

The Circle were a group of ancestral witches who governed the laws of magic, witches and their Keepers. Not wanting the emotional complication from a relationship between a witch and her Keeper that might influence their roles in maintaining the balance of nature, the old witches had long ago forbidden any romances.

So the handsome, charming and darn sexy Keeper was off-limits.

If only her womanly parts would listen to her head.

Sarah’s harsh intake of breath and soft curse snapped Sienna’s attention back from all thoughts of Archer and she glanced at her with a raised brow. “Sarah?”

She’d gone rigid, her previous playfulness abandoned, and stared at her brother with a harsh frown. A frown that matched his.

“Sarah, what’s wrong?” Sienna asked, knowing instinctively that trouble had reared its familiar head. Damn it. When she didn’t reply, Sienna reached for Sarah’s arm. “Sarah, what’s happening? What do you hear?”

Without looking at her, Sarah shook her head. “Nothing.”

“Then what’s wrong?”

“Blood,” she replied, her tone edged with an icy warning that sent chills down Sienna’s spine. She pinned Sienna with a sharp gaze. “I smell blood.”



The Keepers is a magical Paranormal Romance series published by Harper Impulse, an imprint of Harper Collins.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Do We Write?


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I’ve had my nose buried in books since I was old enough to turn the pages. Words are my passion and my love for reading eventually developed into a love for writing. 

Now that I’m a published author and discovered what being an author involves, my relationship with books has changed.   When I see a book – regardless of whether it captures me or not – I treat it with new found respect because I know what it took to write it.

Although it's a wonderful and exciting experience, the writing process is a tricky one that often sparks the question:  Why write?

The answer is simple but before I explain, here’s a glimpse of a few things I’ve learnt about what being an author entails and why I view books so differently now: (And I don’t speak for all the authors out there!)

1.  Writing is fun but it's hard work.  Seriously hard work.  Late nights, long hours, plot twists, word counts, sleep deprivation, doubt crows, edits, revisions, and more. 

2. Unless you’re a JK Rowling or EL James, many authors don’t make their fortunes through book sales and it’s a frequent struggle weighing up the income earned versus the time, tears, and hard work it takes to push out a book.


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
3. The late nights mean that we often write in our PJ’s and slippers! What could be more comfortable? I have a nightly ritual once my kids are in bed – I shower, slip into my comfies and head to my laptop to write for the night. I make a point of showering and dressing every morning before going to my desk. If I don’t then I might never get there once I lose myself to my characters!

4. Many authors are not full time writers. We write because we love it but there are still bills to pay, children to care for, homes to run, or jobs to go to. Writing often has to fit into the brief available gaps in our daily schedules.

5. Reviews count. As a reader, I never realized the importance of reviews until I became an author myself. So why review a book once you’ve read it? Because authors like to know your thoughts. Personally, there’s nothing more exhilarating for me than when I receive a message from a reader who loved one of my books. Pure joy.

6. But reviews can also hurt. Remember that old rhyme? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” Well in this case, bad reviews might not break our bones, but they definitely sting. We realize that our books aren’t for everyone and often view the reviews as a way of improving our craft but hope that any negative reviews are done so with respect and carefully considered words.  After all, there’s a human being at the tail end of that review!

7. Actual writing takes up only a small portion of our time. Social media, research, book edits, website management, blog posts, and marketing take up the bigger chunk. It’s so easy to lose precious writing time to all of this and we often have to remind ourselves to get back to what we really love – writing.

8. We LOVE to hear from our readers. So next time you adore a book, pop the author a message and make her day! (She might just be encouraged to write another one!)

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
9. As exciting as it is to receive "The Call"” from a publisher with an offer, the road to being published is a daunting process subject to a lot of public evaluation. Often, a Rhino’s skin is called for!

10. So ... having said all this, what makes us write besides our passion for storytelling?

Knowing that somewhere, someone was touched by our stories enough to keep turning the pages - and loved them!

And that’s why we write!

Thank you for reading.

Rae Rivers
www.raerivers.com

The Keepers is a magical Paranormal Romance Series published by Harper Impulse, an imprint of Harper Collins. 
 
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Excerpt from Three Tiers for Win

Here is my excerpt from "Three Tiers for Win" that came out with Astraea Press in September. This is Book 2 of The Wedding Girls series. If you've read "Wedding Gown Girl," you'll remember Kienna and Elaine. This excerpt is from near the beginning of the book - Elaine and Win's second meeting. She's asked him to accompany her to her first wedding for her new job of baking wedding cakes:

Elaine was running around her house in a flat panic, trying to find her jewellery, her make-up, which she hardly wore, a pair of high heeled shoes, and the packaging for the cakes. The last icing details had taken forever, and she’d left herself only half an hour to get ready for the wedding. Winston was picking her up in twenty minutes, and she hadn’t straightened her hair yet. Since Kienna had introduced her to a hair-straightener, she’d learnt how to make herself elegant for a change. Not that it could take away all the bumps and misshapes in her body, but it gave her some confidence — getting rid of the mass of curls that never stayed in place. She plugged in the machine and pulled on her stockings. The high heel shoes pinched her toes — it had been about a year ago that she’d worn them to Kienna’s wedding, but obviously the rushing around and standing on her feet for days had made them swell a bit. Her dress was tight around the waist, too, but she sucked in a breath and took the zip to the top. Must be all the taste testing of cake and icing the last few days. She’d made the cake three times until it was perfect and the icing about five times to get the right shade and consistency. After this wedding, she would catch up on all the sleep she’d missed and go on a diet.

As she stood in front of the mirror, pulling her hair through the straightening tongs, she heard a knock on the front door.

“Oh bother, he’s early.” She placed the straightener down without switching it off and pranced to the door in the uncomfortable shoes. As she opened it, all the fears that she hadn’t had time to confront because of the busyness, suffocated her in one moment. Feeling like she may melt into the ground, she looked at the tall, handsome man standing before her.

“Hello,” she mumbled.

He winked at her. “What happened to your hair?”

“Oh!” She felt the side that she hadn’t straightened. “I hadn’t finished straightening it yet when you knocked. Come in,” she croaked out and swallowed the queasy fear lodged in her throat.

What if he was embarrassed to be with her? She was so plain, and in his tuxedo, he could pass for a sex symbol.

“I like the curls. You shouldn’t straighten it,” he said to her back as she ran towards the straightener that was plugged in her bedroom. He didn’t follow her, and she took in several releasing breaths. She had a moment to compose herself and to plan what she would say to him on the way there to make conversation.

“Do you have any food?” he called from the lounge.

“There are some cookies in the kitchen,” she called, and a tiny smile crept up her shaky mouth. She peeped her head out the room towards the passage. “There’s also a meat loaf in the fridge, but I don’t think there’ll be time to heat it up.”

“I can eat it cold.”

She giggled. Even Mick didn’t have the same ferocious appetite that Win had. Imagine being his wife and having to cook for him. Oh, drat. Where did that thought come from? Her hair took on the semblance of feminine style, and she brushed it slightly to add shine. She grabbed her jacket from the bed, pulled the skirt of her red dress straight, and walked to the kitchen. Win had already eaten half a plate of meat loaf.

“It’s delish,” he said once his mouth was empty. “I didn’t have time to eat after my training swim today.”

“You train on a Saturday afternoon too?” Her heart sank. He must be super driven.

He shrugged. “I don’t have a coach anymore so I have to do extra training.”

She didn’t feel it her place to ask why, but wondered if that was wise. Mick wouldn’t be where he was now if it weren’t for his coach, Parker Newborn.

“Oh wait. I didn’t put any jewellery on.” He followed her out the kitchen, and she wondered if he would follow her into her bedroom, but he didn’t. She came out a minute later with her only diamond pendant on, the one from Mick, her closest family member. There was a set of old earrings to match. It was the first time she’d dressed up in months, and she felt good.

“I just need the packaging for the cake,” she said to Win, who was staring at the family photos on the mantelpiece. Warmth flooded her face at the thought of him seeing the pictures of her as a pudgy kid with Curly-Sue hair and Orphan-Annie freckles.

“Wait,” he called. Next minute his hands were on her bare back. “Your hair is caught in the clasp of your necklace.”
Goose bumps ran up her spine at his simple touch as he took her hair out ever so gently. Tears pricked her eyes at his tenderness.

“There we go.” His voice was low, near her ear.

Oh dear! I can’t do this.

“Thank you.” She ran into the kitchen to find the packaging and get away from his nearness. Then she realised she could do with some help. Pausing in the passage, she called over her shoulder. “Will you help me? I’ve never transported such a large cake before. I need to separate the tiers first but will need help in lifting them up and placing them in the boxes. Oh no, I can’t remember where I kept the cake boxes.”

Win stood in front of the cake, his eyebrows raised, his sapphire eyes narrowed.

“It is awful, isn’t it? I knew I shouldn’t have done this.” She held back the tears as she didn’t have time to redo her make-up.

“What are you talking about? It’s awesome.”

“Really?”

“The detail of the icing decorations is amazing. The petals on the flowers and the lacework — all done in icing. I didn’t know it was possible. And it’s huge!”

She grinned. “It robbed me of many hours of sleep.”

“You have a talent.”

“Well, I’ll never get to use the talent if I don’t get this to the reception room of the Crystal Valley Hotel within the next half an hour.”

“So where did you put the cake boxes?”

“I have no idea. I thought I’d put them in the pantry, but I couldn’t find them when I looked earlier. Maybe you can help as you’re much taller. Mick could have put them on the top shelf.”

Win walked into the pantry and peered on the top shelf. He frowned. “Nothing there. Have you asked Mick if he moved them?”

Elaine fumbled for her cell phone out of her handbag and called Mick. He didn’t answer his phone. Panic tightened her chest.

“They must be somewhere,” he said. “I’ll do a search while you think carefully where you may have put them.”

She nodded, embarrassed that he was going to search through her home, but thankful for his take-charge, calming effect on her. Resting her head in her hands and closing her eyes, she thought back to the day she’d bought the boxes. She had brought them inside because she’d put Win’s cake in a box to be delivered to his work. She was still taken aback that he worked in an office and trained as an Olympic swimmer at the same time, without a coach too. How did he survive? No wonder the poor chap was so hungry all the time.

Focus, Lainy, focus. It was so easy to get distracted by thoughts of Win.

“I found them!” she heard him shout from the front door. “You left them in the garage.”

“Oh, did I?” She ran to the garage as best she could in her high heels and grabbed three boxes. Once in the kitchen, she worked on opening one up and putting the little flaps in to make the square shape. Win watched her and then made the second one while she started on the third.

“Are you sure the cake is going to be safe inside these? Won’t it bump against the sides?” he asked.

“I don’t know what to do about that.”

Win gaped at her. “You should have planned ahead for that.”

“I didn’t have time.” Her voice was close to a shout.

He touched her arm as if to assure her that he wanted to help. “Let’s have a look.” He held the box up against the base of the cake. “You’re lucky that the base seems almost the same size as the box so it’s not going to roll around much. I think I should secure it with something anyway. But the smaller tiers are going to roll around.”

“I have some smaller boxes. Look.” She made up another box.

“Perfect.”

Within ten minutes, the three tiers were secured in their boxes, and her sugar-icing flowers and lace, and the little plastic gold gazebo, were placed neatly in a smaller box. She’d packed a container with her tools and some extra icing to touch the cake up quickly when she got there.

“Good thing it’s fairly cool today so the icing won’t melt,” she said as they walked towards his car. “Oh, dear! Where will we put them? I should have arranged a truck or something with a flat surface.

“Do you have a large board in your garage that we can lay them on in the boot?”

Elaine pressed the remote to open the garage. “There’s the top of an old sewing table of my mom’s.”

“Let me see.” He followed her in. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of need for his help and support, Elaine became flustered while looking for it. If only Win wasn’t an athlete and would be interested in someone like her. He made her feel so at peace with the world, so calm and so focused. Oh well, there wasn’t time to pine about that now.

“Here it is,” he said as he pulled the board out from behind the lawnmower.

“Oh no!” Elaine gasped. “Wait here.”

“What now?” She could hear a smile in his voice as though he must be thinking she was a drama queen or too panicky, or worse still, badly disorganized, which was definitely true. After running inside to grab a wet cloth from the kitchen, she came up to Win who was already loading the board in his boot.

“Look at me,” she commanded. He looked at her, all innocence, and she searched for breath. A manly cologne and the scent of freshly washed hair and a touch of his sweat sank into her. The combination warmed her from her toes. She swallowed.

“You’re covered in dust on your nice new tuxedo.” It had to be new. It wasn’t Mick’s, she knew that. Had he bought a new one especially for the day? She suddenly felt all weak and wobbly at the thought that he would go to the trouble of doing that for her.

“There,” she choked out after wiping his one sleeve and abdomen.

“Now you look perfect. Oh!” She placed her hand over her mouth at the statement she’d just made. Whipping herself around, she ran back to the house to put the cloth down and lock up. He mustn’t know that she liked him — it would be mortifying and would set her up for real hurt.


Three Tiers for Win can be bought on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Trouble with Mojitos

I love the research part of writing, the excuse to spend hours surfing the internet and calling it work. For my latest novel, The Trouble with Mojitos, my research took me onto luxury yachts, Caribbean beaches, drinking cocktails in tiki bars... yeah, it's a hard job, but someone's gotta do it.

You can't research the Caribbean without reading about sea turtles. The fictional cursed island of Tortuga in The Trouble with Mojitos is named for these amazing creatures - survivors of the dinosaur era, and yet the scary thing is that every year there are fewer and fewer of them.

As an author my key aim is to entertain. With all the unhappiness in the world, if I can help someone escape from the realities of everyday life for just a few hours and bring a smile to the reader's face, then I'm happy.
But let's face it, writing words that other people read is also a fantastic opportunity to share the things that are important to us.
Saving the sea turtles from extinction is important to me.

So I wrote a scene into The Trouble with Mojitos in which the hero and heroine watch a turtle hatching. I'm more than a little jealous of them, as this is something I've only seen via YouTube - though it's definitely on my bucket list. If you're in South Africa and would like to experience this for yourself, the area around Rocktail Bay on the Kwazulu-Natal north coast offers sea turtle safaris.

For those who, like me, have yet to see this amazing spectacle for real,here's a YouTube clip that will have you 'oohing' and 'aahing'.



Turquoise blue waters. Sandy white beaches. Mojitos... Film location scout Kenzie Cole has found herself in paradise. Working in the Caribbean for a week is just what she needs to escape the long line of exes in her closet. Though the last thing she expects is to be picked up at the resort bar by a disgraced former Prince!

Luckily for Kenzie, exile is suiting the man formerly known as Prince Fredrik very well. And it’s not long before his rugged, pirate charm is proving hard to resist.

But Rik’s been spending his time in paradise exorcising demons of his own and he has danger written all over him. If Kenzie was sensible she’d run a mile instead of lose herself to lust - although, they do say sometimes you have to get lost before you can be found....


The Trouble with Mojitos is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers: Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and All Romance eBooks - and it'll be available in print too soon!





Friday, August 2, 2013

New Release and Giveaway with Kathy Bosman



My Nano novel from 2012 obtained me a contract in December. This was the fastest book I ever wrote. Of course, it needed a good edit.

Cosmetic Heart is a contemporary romance about a make-up artist who dreams of becoming a journalist for a lady's magazine. Lisa hides behind a shell of ordinary but dreams of more. Her family are all in top careers and very focused, making her feel like the black sheep.

Daniel Loriet, the chief editor of the magazine where Lisa works, has had bad luck with women. Or maybe he's made some poor choices in his life. He's flitted from one relationship to another and never settled down. He's joining his family for a New Year celebration but they think he's still engaged to his ex-fiancee who ditched him for no valid reason. Not wishing to look like the loser lover in front of his family again, he asks Lisa to pose as his fiancee after having a hairdo and buying new clothes. Lisa looks similar to her and can do tricks with make-up. He offers her a reward - any reward.

Lisa asks if the promotions policy at the magazine can be changed in exchange for going along with his plans. Maybe, just maybe she can get to write after all.

When she goes with Dan to a small place in Northern Cape called De Aar, she soon learns that he's very different away from work and the rumours she's heard floating around work about him. His family are so welcoming. Thus begins a tumultuous romance as Lisa has issues. Major issues. She's never wanted a serious relationship before. Can Dan change that? Can she let go of the secrets she's hiding from him and can he forgive her when he finds out?

Here's an excerpt from my novel:

It was Thursday, the 30th December, and Dan was rounding
off some edits on an article for the February magazine. Kate, the
feature editor, needed to come up with something more unique
next time. It was too late to change the piece now — okay, maybe
he was too tired to bother, and he had the next week to get
through. He would worry about her story once the reunion was
over.
Lisa still hadn’t had her hairdo. Would they have to lie about
her drastically changing her hairstyle to outdated and unsuitable?
He sighed. She was proving to be quite interesting though. He’d
rummaged through the bag of presents she’d wrapped and left in
his office this afternoon before she knocked off. They were
beautifully decorated with ribbons and cards, written neatly in her
curly handwriting style. He’d opened the one card and read it,
astounded at how she’d written the verse to a poem before a quick
“happy Christmas” wish. The woman was into detail. Maybe his
family would approve for once. They’d have to get used to the idea
that the relationship would end eventually though.
Someone knocked on his office door. Lisa, at last.
“Come in. I thought you were finished work hours ago.”
She smiled at him and then propped her hands on her hips.
“So?” She gave a sigh — loud and raspy. “Typical male!”
He gasped. “You had it done finally. Looks great!” Looks
more than great. Wow, transformation.
“Thanks.” Her smile was genuine and soft. That was the first
time he caught a glimpse into the real Lisa. Maybe she was starting
to thaw. Finally.
“Come here.”
“Why?”
“Just listen.”
“Okay.”
“No, don’t get that employee-boss look in your eyes. Try to
relax and pretend that we actually belong together.” He took her by
her stiff shoulders and pulled her into a hug.
“It’s like hugging a statue,” he whispered into her ear. Her
soft hair brushed against his tongue. He pulled the strands away
gently with his finger and accidentally touched her cheek with his
lip.
She stepped out of his grasp. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
She craned her neck around frantically at the doorway.
“Everyone’s gone home.”
“So?”
“You love that word.”
She giggled.
“Okay, if not a hug, let’s try a kiss.”
Her eyes were wild.
“Have you ever been kissed before?”
She nodded numbly.
“Too bad. You have to grin and bear it. I can’t be that bad.”
He reached for her hands, pulled her close and pressed his
lips to hers. Sweetness flooded his being, spearing right into his
inner core. What was inside this girl’s being that surged into his?
Even though her lips were unresponsive, he kissed her further.
Then he pressed her chest against his. For a moment she stiffened,
and then she relaxed, obviously realising there was no way out and
she had to play along with it. But he wasn’t playing anymore. This
was for real. He wouldn’t tell her that though. That would make
her run a mile.
She pulled away and turned around, wiping her mouth with
her hands.
“Not bad,” he teased.
“I’d better get going now. I’ll see you in the morning.” Her
voice was shivery.
“Have you packed yet?”
She nodded, her back to him still.
“See you then.”
She was out the door without showing her face once. The
back of her head was gorgeous. That hairdo did something to her
whole demeanour. If only it would warm her up to him a little.

You can buy Cosmetic Heart at the following links:
Astraea Press
Amazon
All Romance Ebooks
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

I'm giving away a PDF copy of Cosmetic Heart to one lucky person who comments on this blog post. If you win my book, I would be thrilled if you wrote an honest review on Amazon for me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Release for ROSA author Zee Monodee

Please join me in congratulating ROSA author Zee Monodee on the release of her new novel - The Other Side.

Blurb:

Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?

Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.

But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking...and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.

Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.
Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?

Buy Links:

Decadent Publishing http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=817&osCsid=uk690a1muqacdt8v6csmtuo7d2

Amazon (available at the discounted price of $2.99) http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Island-Girls-ebook/dp/B00E77XHG6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375035073&sr=8-1&keywords=the+other+side+zee+monodee

Trailer:

Link http://youtu.be/kaUG05Sdypg


To find out more about Zee click here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Loving for only 99c / 77p

Check out the Minxes blog today for a special promotion running Mon 15th to Thurs 18th July only: 6 romances priced at only $0.99 each (77p in the UK) - and three of them are by Rosalites!




Monday, July 8, 2013

Submission Call: Total E-Bound Publishing

Total-E-Bound Publishing—a leading erotic romance publisher—are now open to submissions for MF and MFM stories in any genre, of any length. Please submit the first three chapters, plus the final chapter and a synopsis to submissions@totalebound.com

We’re open to submissions for our seasonal collections and anthologies:
 The deadline is imminent for our Valentine’s Paramour collection!
Who wouldn’t want a rich younger man? *sigh*. Write a story about winning the catch of the year against all odds. We want some luscious older ladies finding love and lust with dominant and demanding younger men. Our Valentines Vixens won’t know what hit ‘em!
* OW/YM only, 15-20,000 words please.
* Heat Rating: Burning/Melting (the hotter the better)
Deadline for submissions is August 1st, for release in February 2014. Send the whole story plus synopsis to submissions@totalebound.com

We’re also looking for submissions to our summer historical collection, Jolly Rogered:
* We want some swashbuckling pirates in our summer collection. ‘Blow me down’ with some seriously sexy booty from bold buccaneers. Avoid a rebellion and have your Cap’n find his proud beauty!
* Historical, hot sultry setting, MF only, 15 – 20,000 words please.
* Heat Rating: Burning/Melting (the hotter the better)
The submission deadline is January 1st 2013 for release in July 2014. Please submit the full story plus synopsis to submissions@totalebound.com

Finally, we’re open to ménage submissions to our cowboy themed anthology, Lasso Lovin’:
* Three’s the thrill! Can your cowboys lasso their third? Saddle up ‘n write a story about cowboys finding their lady loves and ridin’ ‘em hard!
* 10K to 15K word count per short story.
* Past or present, give us two men and a woman (MMF only) in this anthology.
* Heat Rating: Burning/Melting (see our book rating info)
The submission deadline is November 1st 2013 for release in May 2014. Please submit the full story plus synopsis to submissions@totalebound.com

For further information, please see our submissions guidelines page here: http://www.total-e-bound.com/submissionguidelines.asp?

Total-E-Bound Publishing is a royalty paying, full-service ePublisher. This means that we do not charge fees for the author at any time. We pay a royalty rate of 40% of the RRP for eBooks, 30% for audio, and 10% for print, based on our standard two year contract. Our contracts are for both electronic and print rights.

Rebecca Douglas
Senior Editor

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Call for Submissions at Harlequin Mills and Boon Medical Romance

Call for Submissions: RAPID RESPONSE UNIT 2013 at Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
If you love strong and sexy medical heroes and heroines, M&B editors Sheila, Suzy and Laurie, a.k.a. the RAPID RESPONSE UNIT, are waiting to read your first chapter!
Harlequin Mills&Boon Medical Romance are actively looking for exciting new voices, so send your first chapter and synopsis for a guaranteed, superfast assessment, to rapidresponse2013@hqnuk.co.uk
RAPID RESPONSE UNIT submissions received between 1st June and 30th June 2013 will receive a response within 2 weeks, from acknowledgement of receipt!
Don’t delay – make the RAPID RESPONSE UNIT your first call!

Few details:

  • Full writing guidelines available here - http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/aamedr.asp.
  • Please submit a first chapter and synopsis only, along with a cover letter containing your contact details
  • To be sure that your submission receives a Rapid Response, you must have an acknowledgement of receipt by return of email
  • A response will be sent within two weeks of your acknowledgement email
  • The Rapid Response Unit is closed for submissions on midnight 30th June 2013