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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Thorn Among the ROSA's - Meet Peter Barker




In an effort to really get to know each other, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of interviews with fellow ROSA members to learn more about who they are, what they've published and what makes them tick. We'd like ALL our members to feature, so please drop our chairperson, Romy an email on romy@romancewriters.co.za and she'll send you some questions to answer.

Today we put the spotlight on our treasurer, Peter Barker!


What is the last romance novel you read?

Survivor by Lesley Pearse  (I met her at the Kingsmead Book fair)

What type of Romance / what genre do you write?
   
Contemporary Romance

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?

   About to be published with The Wild Rose Press

What do you love most about writing? 

   A wonderful use of all my creative energies.

And what is your biggest challenge as a writer?

   Finding the time to get to it.  I hope it will be a bit easier when I retire at the end of the year.

Do you have a playlist while you write?

   Yes. At the moment I have Ann Sophie Mutter playing Mozart.  Beautiful woman, delightful music.

Peter's latest book: Cupid Mislaid


What was the inspiration behind your last book?

A newspaper article by Carol Lazar in which she described how she and her husband had gone to  the 
bar mitzvah of the son of a friend of theirs. After leaving the shul they went to their house for a party.  It was only when someone walked in carrying a tray of bacon kips that they realised they had gone to the wrong house. I shared this story with the ROSA members and someone said to me "There's an inspiration for your next book." and that is what it became.

What is your proudest achievement as a writer?
   
Getting published Yay!!

What advice would you give someone who tell you they want to write?

   Have a passion for your cause. Believe unshakably in what you are doing, or give up writing.

If you could give your life / dreams / goals a hashtag, what would it be?

   #To write-to write perchance to dream.   (no disrespect intended to William Shakespeare)

What keeps you motivated to write?

   To share my art form with the rest of humanity        

What is your writing schedule like - do you write every day / a certain time of day?

   Any available time. I hope to get into more of a routine after retirement

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.

When I decided to write, the first thing I did was to write a 50k word romance novel just to see if I could.  I was pleased to discover that I found it quite easy to create 1,500 words in an evening.  It is a lovely story and I may re-write it in due course. As it is it is full of technical errors, piles of "tell" instead of "show' as well as confusing points of view.

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?

The friendship I enjoy with the other members as well as learning from the advice and experience of members who have been in the game longer than I have.


Connect with Peter!

TWITTER: @petergbarker
WEBSITE:  https://peterbarker.herokuapp.com/      (Still under construction)
FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/petergbarker.



Monday, July 3, 2017

The Cape Town Chapter's Writing Collective Day

Sumi Singh tells us about the Cape Town Chapter's Writing Collective Day which took place 11 June 2017.

It was the weekend after a harrowing storm and deadly fires threatened the Western Cape and the Cape Town Chapter was in desperate need of tender loving care. What better way to forget disasters, life and every day stresses than uniting for a Romance Writing Day?

The location, Lalapanzi Lodge nestled in the picturesque town of Somerset West. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted with a motherly hug from Rose, the Manager. Phoenix Kelly coined it “Rosa Lodge” as it’s the second Rosa event held in its midst, the first being a Writing Retreat in February this year.


Since the success of the Writing Retreat, there was a call for Cape Town Romance Writers to connect and support one another. Many writers tend to write in isolation and feel cut off from the rest of the writing fraternity. It is believed that belonging to a support group is highly effective in creating a space to share fears, gain advice and attain individual goals.

Rae Rivers and Natasha Anders took the lead in arranging this Chapter meet. The order of the day was to provide an environment conducive to writing and bonding. Initially I wasn’t keen on attending a writing day in the heart of winter. It’s my least favorite season and I worried about getting cold, unable to get anything done. My doubts were unfounded when I walked into a warm and cosy dining area, a roaring fire going, interlaced with underfloor heating, making me feel like royalty. The view from the upper deck of the Lodge revealed Table Mountain in the distance hugged in clouds. The pitter-patter of much-needed rain was music to the ears and from time to time a rainbow emerged reminding us we were sitting in a slice of heaven.

It was fabulous to see familiar faces again, to catch up before the aim of the day began. Some writers were on deadline, moving into quiet spaces, determined to make use of the time wisely. I’m one of those writers who like to work alone and having to sit beside others seemed daunting at first. Again, my fears were misplaced as everyone was consumed with their stories and it didn’t take long before I too became immersed in my writing.

We gathered for a delicious lunch of open sandwiches, warm drinks on tap and light conversation. It always amazes me how supportive Rosa members are in helping newbies like me. From answering questions on research, writing software, giving advice when stuck – everyone was eager to share their knowledge.

The afternoon saw us getting down to more writing. Rose spoilt us with cups of steaming cappuccino’s and a special treat, milk tart and chocolate bars, chirping in the background, “It’s not called Rosa Lodge for nothing,” as we squealed with laughter. Just as I was truly in the creative zone, the day had come to an end and most were packing to leave.

I was sad to depart the warmth of the lodge, to bid farewell to all. But I was beaming because I had a productive day spurred on by the collective energy of fellow Romance Writers. Reading the messages on the Whatsapp group later the evening, we unanimously agreed the writing day was a hit, with talk of another well on the cards.

You can follow Sumi on her blog: The Sweet Life of Sumi Singh

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet ROSA member, Rebecca Crowley



In an effort to really get to know each other, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of interviews with fellow ROSA members to learn more about who they are, what they've published and what makes them tick. We'd like ALL our members to feature, so please drop our chairperson, Romy an email on romy@romancewriters.co.za and she'll send you some questions to answer.

Today we put the spotlight on ROSA's Deputy Chairperson, Rebecca Crowley!


What is the last romance novel you read? 

His Ex's Well Kept Secret by Joss Wood (also a ROSA Member)

What type of Romance / what genre do you write?

Contemporary

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?

Current series (Atlanta Skyline) releasing from Kensington's Lyrical Press

What do you love most about writing?

Getting to know and inhabit characters whose lives are so different to mine!

And what is your biggest challenge as a writer?

Maintaining a daily word count. Between full-time work and toddler mamahood - plus a husband I like to see occasionally! - it's a struggle.

Do you have a playlist while you write?

I usually pick a "theme song" for each book but prefer to write without music playing.


What was the inspiration behind your last book?

The last book I completed is Saving Hearts, the third in the Atlanta Skyline trilogy. It's about a goalkeeper with a gambling addiction, and was inspired by an article I read about what makes a great goalkeeper. It's a strange, solitary position, and I wanted to explore what kind of man could excel in it.

What is your proudest achievement as a writer?

It might be cliche, but I really treasure every single contract I'm offered. That a publisher takes a leap of faith on my story and puts up their own money to wager on its success is the best feedback I could ever receive.

What advice would you give someone who tells you they want to write?

Commit to one project and see it through before starting anything else! Ten half-finished manuscripts will get you nowhere fast.

If you could give your life / dreams / goals a hashtag, what would it be?

#adventure, because it's what I live for. :-)

What keeps you motivated to write?

It's not so much motivation as compulsion. I'd write even if I never published a word, I think.

What is your writing schedule like - do you write every day / a certain time of day?

I'm much more committed when I'm on deadline - I try to get in at least 1K words per day, usually in the late afternoon when I have some breathing space in my work day and haven't yet gone home to the domestic onslaught. When I'm not on deadline I can be very, very unproductive for long stretches of time.

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.

When I was 9 I wrote a story about a girl who caught a wild turtle and then sorrowfully released it again - that was certainly a tale of love found and lost!

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?

I love ROSACon, and less specifically cherish the connections I've made with other writers, as writing can be such an isolating experience.

Connect with Rebecca!

rebeccacrowley.net
facebook.com/rebeccacrowleywrites
Twitter: @rachelmaybe

Monday, June 12, 2017

Meet ROSA member, Suzanne Jefferies





In an effort to really get to know each other, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of interviews with fellow ROSA members to learn more about who they are, what they've published and what makes them tick. We'd like ALL our members to feature, so please drop our chairperson, Romy an email on romy@romancewriters.co.za, and she'll send you some questions to answer.

Today we chat to another ROSA committee member: Suzanne Jefferies, who was also 2016's Imbali Award winner.

What is the last romance novel you read?

Forbidden, Beverly Jenkins.

What type of Romance / what genre do you write?

Contemporary, paranormal, erotic, fantasy, and suspense.

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?

Have been published by Firequill Publishing and Ellora’s Cave.

What do you love most about writing? 

That writing's always come naturally, that absorption with words and their relationship with other words.I love language, where it comes from, how it’s used, how words hold such emotion, meaning, and charge.

And what is your biggest challenge as a writer?

Oddly enough, it’s marketing.

Do you have a playlist while you write?

Does the radio count?

What was the inspiration behind your last book?

Melancholia.

What is your proudest achievement as a writer?

Delighted to win the Imbali award. That was really lovely.

What advice would you give someone who tell you they want to write?

Don’t quit your day job. Get a wealthy spouse/trust fund/independent source of income. Work harder than you ever thought you would. If you’re not a reader, you best start.

If you could give your life / dreams / goals a hashtag, what would it be?

#itstheclimb

Suzanne is giving away her latest book, THE HUNT FREE in exchange for honest reviews.
Contact:suzanne@suzannejefferies.com

(What an awesome opportunity for the ROSA members to support each other :-) )

What keeps you motivated to write?

Because it is written. I have no doubt that this was what I was born to do.

What is your writing schedule like - do you write every day / a certain time of day?

I’m a writer-for-hire, so I write everyday. That's anything you can think of - blog posts, case studies, articles, scripts, ebooks, manuals, user guides blahdy blah.
My own work tends to squeeze between the gaps of the paid work - usually on Monday evenings.

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.

Spoiler alert, it didn’t have a happy ending. Teen girl falls in love with Grade A rotter.

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?

The other members! An opportunity to get together, especially at the conference, and not feel alone.

Connect with Suzanne!
www.suzannejefferies.com
@suzannjefferies

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ROSA Spotlight: Romy Sommer



In an effort to really get to know each other, we thought it would be a good idea to publish a series of interviews with fellow ROSA members to learn more about who they are, what they've published and what makes them tick.

We'd like ALL our members to feature, so please drop our chairperson, Romy an email on romy@romancewriters.co.za and she'll send you some questions to answer.

And speaking of our Chair, to kickoff our ROSA Spotlight Interviews, here's Romy Sommer.


What is the last romance novel you read?

Tina Reber’s Love Unscripted. Warning: it’s a long book – don’t read it if you’re looking for a quick evening’s entertainment!

What type of Romance / what genre do you write?

I write contemporary fairy tale romances and shorter 1920s historical romances.

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?

I have 11 novels and novellas published. My first three novellas were originally published by The Wild Rose Press, but I’ve subsequently re-released them on my own, and my four contemporary romances are published by HarperCollins. I’ve also self-published under another name.

What was the inspiration behind your last book?

The book I currently have out on submission began as fan fiction. I never thought I’d be the person to write fan fiction, but it was a fun story that was never intended to go anywhere, just a diversion when ‘real’ writing was stressing me out. For the first 4 years it was saved on my desktop as ‘Just for fun’. In the six years since I started it, it’s grown very far from that original story and has taken on a life of its own. I really hope this story finds a home with an editor who will love it as much as I do!

Not a Fairy Tale was nominated for the RWA's Rita Award in 2016

What is your proudest achievement as a writer?

Being nominated for an RWA Rita award. Knowing how stiff the competition for that award is, and that as a peer review award it’s even harder to win over other authors, this nomination was a massive honour for me.

What advice would you give someone who tells you they want to write?

Don’t quit! The writers who are published are the ones who never gave up.

What keeps you motivated to write?

I would keep on writing regardless, but the one thing that keeps me motivated is the dream of doing this full-time. Until I have dozens of books out there, all earning, some winning acclaim, I’m not giving up!

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.

The first love story I wrote was actually two parallel stories about two women whose lives intersect even though they don’t meet until the very end. I didn’t even realize it was a romance until my friend (and co-ROSA founder) Mandy read it and told me I had a ‘voice for Romance’. I went out and bought a pile of second hand romances to find out what she meant, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?

The fact that ROSA even exists! Once upon a time, this organization was nothing more than a figment of my imagination. It astounds me how far we’ve come!

Connect with Romy!
Website: www.romysommer.com
Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/RomySommerAuthor/ 
Twitter: @romy_s 
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RomySommer
Pinterest: https://za.pinterest.com/romysommer/
 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Your Facebook Book Launch Step by Step






Welcome to 2017, where you don’t need to give people people cupcakes and wine and hold thumbs that they will buy your novel at your book launch. You can successfully launch your book online with a Facebook event. It’s easy, inexpensive and has tremendous reach.


Who participates?


Your readers / target audience and fellow authors in your genre (exhaust all your contacts, don’t hold back. Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is the same as a ‘No’.).


What’s in it for you?


You reach wa-aay more people (hundreds, possibly thousands), with more meaningful interactions than you ever could with an in - person launch. It’s also costs next to nothing to pull off. You can be creative. Just pretend you’re already a best selling author, and you’re ready to rock.


What will it cost?


Although you will not be spending money on wine, snacks, a venue, an outfit, transport, a photographer and giving away paper versions of your book - you will be investing your time in preparing for the event and time on the day. Don’t worry, you can do it in your PJs and slippers if you want to, no problem.


What’s in it for the guests?


Not only do your readers (and fellow authors) get to chat online in a live Q&A (I like the game: ‘Ask the Author Anything’), there will also be books (digital) given away - and who can resist a free book?? Some authors give away paperbacks / signed copies / other swag / Amazon gift cards - it’s all up to the author. The best giveaways are the ones where it’s simple, but with a kickback for you, the author. For example: If you like my Facebook page or sign up to my newsletter (insert links for convenience) I’ll send you a free digital copy of my book!


Step 1: Prepare a media kit for your book (*= required)


  • Cover images *
  • Blurb *
  • Teasers (best done with images and excerpts from the book - use Canva.com)  *
  • Video trailer
  • Author bio *
  • Excerpts of reviews / bloggger comments *
  • Anything else you can brag about like other press coverage


Step 2: Create a Facebook Event


  • Create an event on FB from your FB author page about 2 weeks before the event date.
  • Set a date and time (this can be a couple of hours in a particular day or it run for a few days, that depends on you). Keep time zones in mind.
  • Use Canva.com to create stunning artwork for your event cover / banner.
  • Write a decent description of  your event. Say it is a launch, explain how it will work (See Step 3). Include all your social media links/ handles etc.
  • Make sure the settings allow for invited guests to invite others. The more the merrier.
  • Invite as many people as you know.


Step 3: Line up the “entertainment”


  • Ask fellow authors in your genre to share the stage with you and promote their work.This is great because it’s generous and helps build a sense of community. You can decide on criteria like only authors who have released a book in a last year if you want to.
  • Decide on how long their timeslot will be and on which day.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it. Remember to give yourself a timeslots too!
  • Get them to confirm their participation and send them reminders.
  • Suggest some ideas to them and recommend they get a media kit ready (see Step 1).
  • The idea is that they will keep the momentum going on your event page by introducing themselves, sharing excerpts and reviews of their book, take part in live Q&A and do a giveaway / run a competition. Sometimes this means that you have to get the ball rolling by asking the first question or being the first to comment.


Step 4: Leading up to the event


  • Finalise that schedule.
  • Promote / tell people about the event.
  • Boost your event by paying FB a small sum of money to reach even more people. This will cast the audience net even wider, which is what you want.
  • Prepare your giveaways / competition criteria.


Step 5: On the day / days


  • Make yourself available to introduce the authors participating.
  • Have some questions prepared in case the audience is slow.
  • Be positive and upbeat.
  • Make sure whatever is happening is relevant, interesting and engaging. Varying the content with live video/ music videos / recorded videos / images and soon will really help.
  • Promote your book!
  • Ask for Follows / LIKES and Subscribers
  • Engage with your audience.
  • Give of yourself and be yourself - that’s the whole point.
  • Ask a friend or two to LIVE Tweet your event with hashtag.
  • Share images on Instagram / status updates of what’s happening on your event page on your FB author page.

Why not participate in our very own ROSA member, Erica Taylor’s Facebook Book Launch for her debut novel, A Suitable Affair? Invite all your romance lovin’ friends too!

©Cindi Page 2017

Cindi Page is a digital marketer by day and romance novelist by night. She Indie-published her first novel, A Piece of My Heart, in 2016 and her second and third books are due for release late 2017. Connect: cindipage.com /@1stTruLove /FB: cindi page author / wordofmouthct.co.za/ cindi@cindipage.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Western Cape Writer’s Retreat 2017 by Tracey Wilson


Wondering what else you missed at the retreat? Tracy Wilson writes about her experience at the ROSA Writers' Retreat 2017 that took place in Cape Town in February. 

Lalapanzi Lodge: image credit Lalapanzi Lodge


Nestled in a tranquil forest of fir trees overlooking False Bay, Lalapanzi Lodge provided an idyllic location for the Western Cape Writer’s Retreat.  The rugged peaks of the Hottentots Holland Mountains accentuated the azure skies of the Cape behind the timber lodge, while a gentle sea breeze offered relief from the heatwave that had besieged the Mother City that week. 

Yes, the setting inspired my imagination, and was a great choice for a gathering of romance writers. 
Sixteen ladies attended, including the speakers.  The size provided an opportunity for newbies, such as myself, to meet other writers.  The ladies were all friendly and lively and lovely.  Not surprising when one considers that romance writers focus so much of their novels on the issues of the heart.  And I believe romance writers have the biggest hearts of all writers.

Romy Sommer, author and chairperson of ROSA, presented the first session on Mastering Story Structure.  Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure is a formulaic approach to structuring a novel.  The first “How to…”  writing guide I purchased taught me the value of applying the three-act structure model to my writing.  Hauge’s model strengthens this by teaching that there are six basic stages within the three-act structure, which are defined by five key turning points in the plot.  These turning points usually happen at the same point (or percentage) of the running time of a movie, the pages of a screenplay or novel.  I can almost hear the plotters cheering and pantsers sneering, but I believe Hauge’s template can assist any writing method.  It helps plotters outline their first draft, while pantsers can use the template when editing their first draft, thereby ensuring that each writer’s creative paradigm remains intact.  Romy demonstrated this technique by referring to examples from popular movies to highlight the inner and outer journey of the main character.  I’ve visited Hauge’s website, www.StoryMastery.com to learn more about his Six Stage Plot Structure and am looking forward to applying his method to my writing.

Louise Fury, former Capetonian and literary agent extraordinaire for the Bent Agency in New York, taught us the importance of Query Writing.  I liked how she compared the query letter to a business letter that a professional person (the author) with a business proposal (the novel) sends to a professional organisation (the agent).  The author-agent relationship is an equal partnership between the author, who brings the “asset”, and the agent who brings the contacts and expertise.  I learnt that a query letter is the point of first contact and should be brief, clear, and professional.  The ideal word count is 250 words, but no more than 300 words.  It’s an introduction, not a synopsis which describes your plot.  A pitch should tell the agent who the main characters are, what they want (motivation), and what’s standing in their way (conflict).  A short bio should conclude the letter, and your social media links included after your signature (thereby, not counting toward your word count).

After lunch, Louise Fury taught us the importance of Marketing and Social Media.  These days, more and more publishers are relying on authors to market their books on their social media networks.  In fact, publishers take your social media reach into consideration when negotiating the advance payment of your contract.  With so many platforms to choose from, it can become quite daunting.  The pros and cons of various social networks were discussed by the techies in our group, as well as ways to improve your site’s ranking (SEO).  Louise’s advice to us was to focus on Facebook, Twitter, and building a personal website - with Facebook, usually, generating the most sales for authors.

In case you missed it on Facebook, here's Louise Fury encouraging ROSA members to attend Rosa events and Meet-ups.


video


Rae Rivers, author of The Keepers paranormal romance series, presented the final topic of the day, Impostor Syndrome from the book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Woman by Dr Valerie Young.  Impostor syndrome describes high-achieving adults who are unable to internalise their accomplishments and constantly fear being exposed as a fraud.  They‘re unable to enjoy the success they’ve achieved, often dismissing it as luck.  It affects 70% of the world’s population, mainly women.  Rae discussed the four levels of competency - I’m a perfectionist.  And the coping mechanisms we employ to deal with failure – I tend to procrastinate, which often stalls my writing.  It’s vital to recognise how you feel, find someone you trust to talk to, don’t be afraid to ask questions from other writers, practice, practice, practice, and give yourself permission to fail.  I liked the way Rae phrased it, “Acknowledge it.  Accept it.  And move forward.”  Thank you, Rae, for sharing your own journey with us.

Thank you Romy, Louise and Rae for you presentations.  I gained a lot of knowledge at the writer’s retreat and made many new friends.


Tracy Wilson


If you live in Cape Town and want to hook up with a couple of locally based ROSA members, our next meet up is 8 April at 13:00 in Durbanville. More details HERE.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cape Town Retreat Feedback from Dawn Rae



Dawn Rae (Left) with Louise Fury and Sumi Singh 

I'm not a member but I signed up for the ROSA Writers' Retreat specifically to hear Louise Fury speak about query letters. I got that and so much more. Louise shared knowledge and experience from her life as an agent, and she was always ready to hear what we were working on. Many of us benefited from her excellent advice so freely given.

I learnt that published authors also struggle, and although writing is a solitary calling, I am not alone. Rae Rivers spoke about Imposter Syndrome, something that even established writers do battle with, and I realised as I listened that I was feeling it right then. 

I learnt the importance of social media in a writer's success, and I now understand why I need a website. Since the retreat I've got myself onto Twitter - no idea what I'm doing yet but at least I've got the account!

I learnt that being part of a like-minded community brings benefits of support and friendship, and I felt welcomed into this group of awesome ladies. I'm so looking forward to our first informal get-together, happening soon.

For me, the way forward is to join ROSA and make sure I never miss out again on wonderful events like this one.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Types of Sex Scenes and How to Write Them









If you're like me, sometimes writing that steamy scene flows like a river, and everything just clicks together. But other times, I literally sit and stare at what I've written and hit the backspace button because I'm just not buying it, and if i'm not convinced, well, then how can I expect my readers to be? Also, and I'd love to hear if this influences your writing too, but if I've read a particularly hot book, I find myself projecting some of that on my characters. Note to self: Do not read 50 Shades while writing, unless your genre is erotica, of course!

So, how do we keep a cool head while writing the nitty gritty about the down and dirty? I found this video entertaining and quite informative and it's helped me to kind of characterise which kind of writer of sex scenes I am.

I'm a 50-50, how about you?







Thursday, January 19, 2017

What does diversity really mean for you as a romance writer? Antony Ehlers explores this hot topic.



What does diversity really mean for you a romance writer?
In a recent issue of Writers Forum, a great UK writing magazine, there was a post on diversity in publishing. Tom Weldon, head of UK house Penguin Random House, spoke about the need for a change in the whole industry.

Across the spectrum
Diversity cuts across the spectrum. It includes race, sexuality, class, gender, age and identity – and so much more. We can all agree that we need to become more inclusive and open minded as writers. In fact, we have to do this if we’re to survive in a changing world, with an evolving readership.

So how do we do it?
This question has me stumped. It’s one we all have to try and answer. I grew up with modern romance books that were all about the tall handsome – and usually Caucasian – hero who was impossibly rich. The heroine was usually a secretary, a nanny, an heiress – and yes, almost always, Caucasian.

Dare I?
Recently, I thought about writing about an office-based modern romance where both the hero and heroine have the same position – they’re equal.  Immediately, I thought … can I do that? Isn’t that breaking the rules?
Yes. It is. And it’s time to break the rules. Maybe not break them all the time – but time to bend them. Challenge theme. Find your way around them.

Rewriting romance, rewiring your thinking
I think we all need to rewire our brains. It’s time to look outside of the curled-up covers of those books we loved in the 70s and 80s.  In a way they shaped us, but it’s time to let them go.  What does love look around you?  Take your cues from the real world, a little voice was telling me. Maybe I should listen to it.

Open your eyes (and your notebook)
Here are just a few things that I scribbled down today.
·        Men around me have tattoos, not discreet tattoos but full-on ink and it’s beautiful. Why not have heroes in romance have tattoos?
·        Women around me have tattoos, maybe not as hardcore as guys but it’s still beautiful. Why not have heroines in romance have a little ink?
·        Men are getting married to men, and women to women. Why not have the hero in a book be the best man at his gay friend’s wedding? Why not have the heroine be the other groom’s sister?
What would your list look like?

Look at the media mirror
I love Alicia Key’s song Blended Family. The idea of family is being redefined – we have single moms, single dads, blended families.

I think this is a great idea to explore in romance. Both hero and heroine have kids from a former marriage or relationship. How do they make that work?

Right now, President Obama is leaving the White House. I’ve always found him to be charismatic and compelling.

In a story I’ve been working on, I had a female bodyguard protecting a bad boy rock star.  What if I made the rock star a handsome, rising black political star?  That would add diversity and it would do away with a cliché.

If you look at reality TV – a rich source of ideas – we have The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door. What if you wrote a working- or middle-class romance about two bickering neighbors who find love over the boundary wall?

I can’t see Mills & Boon snapping that one up, but maybe there’s a market for more ‘realistic’ romances out there. If not, why not create it yourself?

Look at your own life …
How has your own expectations of life and love changed?  If you’re young, it’s all about clubbing, and dancing, and having fun. It was for me, at least, and that’s fine – if you’re in your twenties, you’ll be writing about your own point of reference.

But what about when you get older? What do you want now? Give those same needs to your hero or heroine.

Maybe it’s more about building a life together built on shared interest. That sounds boring – but what if that shared interest is something out of the ordinary – like a new business, a charity, a shelter for abandoned exotic reptile pets?

Start with a new mindset …
There’s always an opportunity to bring diversity into your romance writing. It just means looking the world with a new squint – to see what’s out there in the real world, and amplify it, fictionalize it, and make it something extraordinary …

Be a pioneer, not a throwback …
In that same Writers Forum article, it mentions a UK study called Writing the Future. The study found that the UK book industry ‘risks becoming a 20th century throwback increasingly out of touch with the 21st world century world.’
It’s time to take on the Brave New (Diverse) World.
Who’s with me?


Anthony Ehlers