Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fun, Feisty, Fabulous – 5 Fairy tale Heroines to Inspire Romance Writers

To celebrate Women’s Month I thought I’d keep it fun and celebrate my five favourite fairy tale heroines and the lessons they can teach us as romance writers.
Goldilocks.  Here’s a nice blonde delinquent who breaks into homes in her restless search for the perfect snack and nap. She wants the finest things in life – even if they don’t necessarily belong to her. Her cuteness, I sometimes think, hides a delicious deviousness. The lesson: your heroine never settles for anything less than the best.    
Red Riding Hood. Another plucky adventurer who looks good in red as she navigates temptation and danger in the woods. She is a good girl who likes bad boys – and it sometimes gets her into trouble. If it wasn’t the woods, it will probably be a night club. The lesson: make sure your hero has a hint of danger to make him appealing to the heroine.
Cinderella.  She’s a near orphan with a bitchy stepmom and daddy issues, not to mention a low-paying menial job. There’s no way Cinds isn’t a total mess and there’s no way she’s not going to get the prince – with or without her fairy godmother. The lesson: give your heroine a radical makeover and you will make her unforgettable.
Rapunzel. This girl is all about great hair but I sometimes suspect she has other fetishes – maybe selfies, shoes, whips and fur-lined handcuffs. Spending all that time alone in her isolated tower, she keeps her imagination fertile a few dark fantasies – and I bet she writes them down in her journal. The lesson: your heroine can be a loner but she must be a dreamer with a rich inner life.
Sleeping Beauty. This is a classic with a plot that escapes me most of the time – but it involves a princess, an evil fairy or queen and a spinning wheel – and it ends up in coma. And then a hundred years on, a handsome prince who wakes her up with a kiss. I think there’s a very clear lesson here: your heroine can’t wait a hundred years for true love’s kiss. (Neither can your reader.)
What all these fabulous fairy tale heroines have in common, I realised, is that for the most part they are all well-dressed. Cinderella goes to the ball in a fabulous dress – even if it is rented. Rapunzel could be in a shampoo commercial, and Red Riding Hood knows how to rock a red cape. More important, each of them are not afraid to live their lives. They take the risk of falling in love and follow their hearts – straight to a happy ending.

The lesson? Make sure your heroines are beautiful, brave and believable.

Words by Anthony Ehlers 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Getting to know Annemarie Gaertner

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 and she'll send you some questions to answer.

Today the spotlight is on Annemarie Gaertner, a fellow committee member.

What is the last romance novel you read?
Romy Sommer – Not a Fairy Tale. Loved it.

What type of Romance / what genre do you write?
I am currently into Erotica. I would love to be able to write in this genre. Not sure if I am brave enough.

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?
No – still need to write something from start to finish.

What do you love most about writing?
I love the way writing sorts out my thoughts. Writing challenges me to question every word to ensure that it is not there just to add to word count but drives the story, the plot and the helps to define the characters.

And what is your biggest challenge as a writer?
Getting it finished. The first 3 chapters come fairly easily – then I lose momentum. The biggest challenge is to just keep going through those dark wordless nights that happen far too often.

Do you have a playlist while you write?
It depends on what I am writing. But as a rule music is a great part of it. I try to use music that does not have lyrics otherwise I find myself singing along and losing my train of thought.

What was the inspiration behind your last book?
I often find I live my dreams vicariously through the stories I write. Every story carries something of me in it.  

What is your proudest achievement as a writer?
Winning a short story competition on the radio and being published in Essentials Magazine. The short story was about internet dating. I also won a back pager competition. The story was a “slice of life” piece about swimming Midmar mile at the age of 45. I had such fun writing it. It was a good laugh.  
What advice would you give someone who tells you they want to write?
Get yourself to a group of likeminded people quick. Support and encouragement are critical when wanting to do this. You need to know that you are not alone. Writing is not for sissies and having a network that can support you is critical.

If you could give your life / dreams / goals a hashtag, what would it be?
#getting there V e r y SLOWLY.

What keeps you motivated to write?
Battling with this at the moment. I get lost in the chaos of my life. I also lack discipline which is critical to writing.

What is your writing schedule like - do you write every day / a certain time of day?
When I was writing I would write at every opportunity I got. The voices in my head just didn’t want to stop so I had to record their conversations. Before I knew it I had written half a book almost entirely consisting of dialogue.

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.
It was a story about a girl who inherits a farm in the Natal Midlands. She knows nothing about country life or farming so has to rely on the gorgeous farmer from next door to guide her through the harsh seasons and life lessons on the farm. He however has ulterior motives for wanting to help her and so the battle starts. Of course it ends with the two main characters having realised that they are destined to be together having both experienced several moments of self-realisation and introspection.

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?

The vibe. The support. The integrity of the people. The opportunity to talk about this wonderful yet frustrating love of mine called writing.

Thank you, Annemarie, so many of us resonate with your words!