Thursday, December 19, 2019

Two Things Every Christmas Romance Needs

Last year this time, I had two Christmas romances out. I'm writing another Christmas romance this month. All of these things have fooled me into thinking I’m an expert on Christmas romances. (I absolutely know I’m not, but it’s better for this post if I pretend to be.) So today, I’m sharing two things every Christmas romance should have!

The Christmas Thing
As you can tell from the descriptive title of this paragraph, I truly am expert on Christmas ;-) Seriously though, I’ve used the vague term thing because Christmas means different things to people around the world. For the most part, people associate Christmas with snow. Cue the romances with beautiful white covers and mistletoe kisses.

But let me tell you – this doesn’t mean anything in my part of the world. Snow is rare in South Africa, and mistletoe is only something we see in movies. Which means that my Christmas thing is different to the more traditional Christmas romances. To clarify (although honestly, how much clearer than a thing can I be?), your Christmas romance should have something that makes your readers feel like it’s Christmas. In HER FESTIVE FLIRTATION, that thing is my hero and heroine decorating a Christmas tree together. In A WEDDING ONE CHRISTMAS, it's a Christmas parade and a Nativity play. Make sure you have it, and your Christmas romance is closer to being just that.

The Christmas Kiss
Christmas Kisses are a Thing, okay? Despite the fact that there’s no mistletoe in South Africa. But mistletoe is a really good way of introducing the Christmas Kiss, and it’s a fan favourite. So, if it’s a thing where you live, go for it! But if it isn’t, you still have to embrace the Christmas Kiss. It’s that magical kiss that seems like it’s made possible by the festive season. The moment the Christmas lights go on and the couple realise it’s Christmas and the attraction flares. Or when the hero buys the perfect Christmas present for the heroine and the emotion builds.

You have to make your reader feel like it’s Christmas, and these are two easy ways to do so!

From the ROSA Blog Team, we're wishing all our ROSA members (and everyone else!) a very happy festive season!

You can find Therese Beharrie on Twitter or Facebook!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

ROSA's 2020 Cape Retreat

Date: 28-29 March 2020

Venue: Set within the heart of the Cape Winelands between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, Klein Welmoed Wine & Olive Estate offers breathtaking views, luxurious accommodation, and tranquil surroundings.

The retreat: Two full days of fun, informative and inspiring talks and workshops, networking and writing sessions. There will be a wine and olive tasting/talk with sunset canapés and drinks on the Saturday evening, followed by dinner. (Guest speakers and full program to be announced at a later stage.) Space is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Member Fees:
R745 for Saturday only
R450 for Sunday only

Non-member fees:
R825 for Saturday only
R500 for Sunday only

Saturday evening dinner: On the evening of Saturday 28 March, there will once again be a dinner, an opportunity to network and socialise with other delegates. Partners are also welcome to attend. The dinner will also take place at Klein Welmoed, and costs R245 per person.

Accommodation: The estate offers beautiful and luxurious accommodation, including breakfast. Olive Cottage and Shiraz cottage are two modern and spacious cottages, each with 2 bedrooms with twin beds in each room and 2 bathrooms, perfect for 4 guests sharing a cottage. There are also four lovely guest rooms available in the Manor house which are suitable for single or sharing (twin beds). Please note that space is limited and March is high season for the estate, so although they have offered preferential rates to our members, they cannot hold the rooms indefinitely. If you’d like accommodation, please book asap. To confirm your room or to enquire about cost/details/availability of accommodation, please contact Karin at and mention that you’re attending the ROSA writing retreat.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Conference Report from Lydia Gittens

Our final post on ROSACon2019 is from one of this year's scholarship recipients, Lydia Gittens. Thank you Lydia for sharing your experience with us!

* * *

A mere two and a half weeks have passed since the Rosa conference and I am still on cloud nine. Ask my poor colleagues they will confirm this.

My personal highlight? Everything. Okay I know that’s a bit of a cop-out. So let’s start at the beginning. The venue was beautiful. I felt like a Cinderella stepping into the prince’s castle. The food and snacks were fantastic.

The goody bag ROSA gave us was like having Christmas in September. The books are great and the treats ... need I say more.

But in all honesty it was the people that made this conference the success that it was. I want to start with my fellow conference goers. You guys are great. As a newbie I learned so much just from our informal chats around tea-times and mealtimes. Being able to network and just getting the nitty gritty (the do’s and don’ts) from those that have walked the hard and often lonely road to publishing a novel. Thank you for your willingness to share your journey with me and for the encouragement and warnings you gave me.

Moving on to the presentations: I can’t single out any presenters they were all very professional, interesting and loads of fun. I learned about things I knew nothing about. Such as: The challenging world of self-publishing. What it means to have an agent and how to obtain one. How to use social media effectively? To name just a few. The presentations literally covered most of the topics I as a newbie wanted to learn about.

I want to give a BIG shout out and a big THANK YOU to everyone at ROSA for gifting me with the scholarship. Making it possible for me to attend a conference that I know has and will impact my writing career from now and into the future.

Lydia Gittens
7 October 2019
(PS Watch out for my name thanks to ROSA CON 2019 you just might see it in the print)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ROSA's 4th annual Strelitzia Awards for unpublished authors

ROSA's annual contest for unpublished authors, the Strelitzia Award, is now open for entries. Entrants receive three months of mentoring as they prepare their entries, and in 2020 this mentorship phase includes a whole lot more features. Not only will entrants receive one-on-one mentoring and personalised feedback on their work, but they will also have access to webinars, lessons on writing craft and private Q&As.

The Strelitzia contest not only offers excellent value for money for aspiring writers, but also the chance to win this fabulous glass trophy.

This year, the contest is open to both ROSA members and non-members, and we are accepting entries in both English and Afrikaans. The deadline for applications is Sunday 24th November, and we have place for only twelve participants, so if you'd like to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, don't delay!

ROSA also has a scholarship program available for those who want to enter but can't afford the fees. Applications for scholarships close on Wednesday, 20th November.

For more information, the contest rules, and the link to the entry form, click on the button below.

Monday, November 11, 2019

ROSA's Scholarship Program

Thanks to the generosity of our published members who donated the royalties from ROSA's first anthology, Wedding Season, our scholarship program has been expanded so that more of our members can benefit from the program.

In 2020, scholarships will no longer be linked to the annual conference, and there will be four scholarship beneficiaries. Each scholarship will be to the value of R2,000. This will not be in the form of cash, but rather a value allocation to the ROSA member to cover the cost of any ROSA educational services the member wishes to make use of, including entry into ROSA contests, ROSA webinars or workshops, or attendance at local chapter events, the Cape Retreat or the annual conference. This will enable more members to benefit, no matter where they live, and is focused on benefitting aspiring authors.

You do not need to be a ROSA member to apply for a scholarship, however non-members who are accepted into the program will have the cost of their membership fee deducted from the scholarship amount.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 20 November 2019, and successful beneficiaries will be notified within a few days, to enable them to enter the 2020 Strelitzia contest. Submit an entry form on this link.

Please ensure that you read all the Terms & Conditions on our website here before applying for a scholarship place, and look out for the announcement of the 2020 Strelitzia contest and mentorship program for our unpublished members coming soon.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Conference report from Alissa Baxter

Today's post is from long-time ROSA member and ROSACon veteran Alissa Baxter.

* * * 

I attended this year’s ROSA conference this year, and I found the range of topics that were presented very interesting. I particularly enjoyed listening to Whitney Ross give us an insider’s view into traditional publishing in the United States.

Whitney represents middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction across all genres, including historical, science fiction and fantasy, romance, and contemporary fiction.

She joined the Irene Goodman agency in 2018, and before that she worked as an editor at Macmillan for nearly ten years, so she is uniquely qualified to give authors an insight into the mysterious world of traditional publishing.

I was very interested to learn about how many imprints the big publishers have. It can be overwhelming to know where to start looking for a publisher, especially when there are so many imprints in each house. Literary agents act as the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing houses, and therefore, if you wish to go the traditional publishing route, it is important to know how to set about finding an agent who is the right fit for you.

Whitney gave us some great tips on how to write a good query letter, and she explained the role of an agent in terms of the business side of publishing. She also warned us about agents who might not be what they seem (“schmagents”), and she showed us examples of query letters which grabbed her attention, and those that didn’t.

It was a fascinating talk, and it demystified the role of literary agents and exactly what it is that they do for authors. Some agents have more of an editorial focus (Whitney is an editorial agent), but all agents bring a unique set of skills to the table, and it’s important to find one that is a good fit for you – that’s if you decide to go the traditional publishing route. If you would prefer to go it alone, self-publishing allows you to manage the entire publishing process yourself, but that’s the topic of another blog post entirely – and I’m sure someone will be writing a post about Ashleigh Giannoccaro’s fascinating talk about this topic.

Whitney Ross - image courtesy of Suzanne Jefferies

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review of ROSACon2019

Today's guest post is by Cynthia Kistasamy, a conference first timer.

* * *

I pitched up at ROSAcon 2019, on the first morning, not knowing what to expect. I was a bundle of nerves, wondering whether I was in the right place for a writer starting out. By the end of the last day, during the last session, I realized that I didn’t want ROSAcon 2019 to end. Sadness filled me as the event drew to a close. It was by far one of the most thrilling, fascinating, awe-inspiring workshops/conferences I’ve had the pleasure of attending.

ROSAcon 2019, was in a sentence, absolute fun while learning.

I left swimming in information (perhaps drowning would be a more accurate description as there was so much of valuable info shared over those two days) that more seasoned writers openly gave without reserve.

There was a genuine sense of camaraderie and encouragement.

Each session was conducted by book professionals and authors filled with passion for romance writing and wanting to help others, from beginners, like myself, to those further down the line in their writing careers.

Highlights of the event for me were the panel discussions, in particular ‘The Biggest Mistakes We’ve Made’, in which established authors spoke honestly about their writing journeys to the point of success. It was nice to hear their own personal accounts and know that even accomplished authors start with nothing but a manuscript and hope, and that blunders along the way are common, and that you just need to be brave and push along fearlessly.

Dani René, Ashleigh Giannoccaro, Romy Sommer, Suzanne Jefferies, Whitney Ross, Sharonlee Holder, to name a few, all shared their best secrets to a thriving writing career. In fact, everybody I spoke to at the event had something of value to impart.

I could not believe that I had landed smack bang in the middle of romance writing heaven, surrounded by enthusiasts like myself.

Next year I will be first in line to book my ticket. ROSAcon 2020…can’t wait!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

#ROSACon2019 – FOMO

Guest post from Cliffordene Norton. 

* * * 

I rarely experience FOMO (fear of missing out), I am more a JOMO (joy of missing out) kind of girl.

I have a bit of a tradition around this time of the year. I start to get out all my goodie bags from previous ROSA conferences, I reread some books, look and buy the latest books for my favorite authors. I go through all my former notes and I hype myself up – hoping that the conference doesn’t disappoint.

It never does.

The minute I’ve registered at the conference, it feels like the first time I attended ROSA. Equal measures nerves and excitement, happy to be surrounded by a tribe of romance lovers and inspired (and proud) by what my fellow attendees have accomplished in a year.

On Monday, 16 September, I spoke to Didi Potgieter and she said she was preparing for #ROSACon2019 and whoa, for the first time I experienced FOMO.

Yes, I will follow the conference on social media. Yes, I could google all the topics these women talk about. Yes, I will read blog posts afterward – but it won’t be the same.

I won’t see everyone’s sincerity. I won’t listen to Rae Rivers voicing my (and I suspect everyone else’s) fears in a manner that makes them more manageable and carries me through the last stretch of 2019. I won’t experience Elsa Winckler and Marie Dry’s warmth when they speak to me. Or Romy Sommer’s genuine pleasure that everyone is enjoying the conference, even though she is running on little to no sleep.

I am experiencing real FOMO and the one benefit it has had; is that it has given me a kick under the butt. Because I want to be there next year and it should be with a manuscript!
Enjoy everyone!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

ROSA's first ever anthology is now on sale!

What do a rugby player, a biker with a gift for hacking, a Scottish Duke and an alien from the future have in common? They're just some of the heroes in ROSA's first ever anthology.

Ten of ROSA's published members have contributed short stories to Wedding Season, which released on Mandela Day 2019 (18 July). Available internationally as an eBook through Amazon, the book will also be available in print in South African book stores through Lapa Uitgewers from September 2019.

This anthology is not only the first English romance collection exclusively by South African authors, but it's also ROSA's way of paying it forward - all proceeds will be shared between ROSA's scholarship fund to develop new writers, and the Athol Williams' Read to Rise literacy charity.

Support our local authors, and a very worthwhile cause, by downloading your copy now, exclusive through Amazon.