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

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.
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."

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 or on Twitter at @rachelmaybe.