Friday, December 17, 2021

A few facts about romance novels

Did you know that...?

  • Romance novels keep most of the publishing industry in business. There would be no literary fiction without romance novels paying the bills.
  • Romance novels create $1.08 billion a year in revenue and account for 34% of the total fiction market in the United States.
  • The romance novel industry is about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined.
  • Annually, one-third of all mass market fiction books sold are romance novels.
  • In 2014, Nielson data reported that 39 percent of all ebooks sold were romance novels—a number that continues to grow each year.
  • Unsurprisingly, romance novel sales have boomed since the start of the pandemic. According to Nielsen Book Scan, in March 2021 romance novels showed a 24% increase in sales over the previous year.
  • Many prestigious colleges and universities now include romance novels in their literature courses, including the University of Sussex, Duke University and Yale University.
  • Romance novels frequently top the major bestseller lists. This past week, two of the top 10 books on the UK's Sunday Times bestseller list (that's one fifth!) were Romances.
  • More than 70 million people in the USA alone read at least one romance novel per year.
  • Romance novels are not written by (or for) bored housewives. Romance writers (and readers) come from every walk of life, including lawyers, doctors, academics, graphic designers, teachers...and SAH moms.

Thursday, November 25, 2021


Tropes are conventions, or familiar plot lines or set-ups, that are instantly recognizable to readers, because we’ve seen them so often that they’ve become commonplace. They’re recurring themes that work as a ‘shorthand’ to help authors, readers and booksellers identify what a story is about. 

Aren’t tropes a bad thing? 

 I’ve heard a lot of writing advice (mostly from literary writers) that tropes should be avoided, as if they’re somehow a bad thing. That might be true for literary fiction, but in genre fiction tropes are unavoidable. Yes, it's true that tropes can seem cliched, but every genre has its own tropes, and it would be impossible to write without them. What would a suspense story be without the trope of the ‘ticking time bomb’? What would a cosy paranormal mystery be withiut the friendly ghost or amateur sleuth? Not only are tropes unavoidable in genre fiction, but they’re actually a good thing! 

Why are tropes important? 

Tropes are excellent marketing tools. Look at almost any book description and you’ll see them used as a quick way to convey the book’s contents. We all recognise what a Cinderella story will be about, or a best friend’s brother story. And for many readers, a favourite trope is enough to make them auto-buy a book! 

In Romances with limited word counts, tropes are a quick way to introduce a concept to readers. We’re familiar with the concept of fake engagement, forced proximity, secret baby or friends to lovers tropes, so we don’t need to have every detail explained to us. Harlequin even uses tropes in their titles as a quick guide to identifying the type of story you'll find between the covers. 

The other reason that tropes are a good thing is that they work. In the words of, “Tropes get used again and again because they speak to us on some deep level and connect with our experiences, fear, and hopes.”

As a reader, what are your favourite romance tropes?

Image by Bingo Naranjo from Pixabay

Friday, October 29, 2021

Meet Our 2021 ROSACon Speakers: Harry Wallett

Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing based in the UK. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create and publish books. He oversees the creative direction of the company and works to develop an excellent collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within. When he isn’t drawing up Relay’s next title, he can be found on the basketball court or trying to catch up with Tamar’s ever-growing list of countries to visit.

Don't miss his presentation on Ghostwriting at ROSACon 2021! Book your tickets today! 

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Meet Our 2021 ROSACon Speakers: Therese Beharrie


Therese Beharrie 2021 ROSACon Speaker

Therese Beharrie is a South African romance author of several acclaimed novels, including her One Day to Forever series. She takes pride in writing diverse characters and settings, and her books are often recommended for their heart and banter. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, her inspiration for every hero, and two adorable baby boys. You can follow her on social media or visit her at

Don't miss her presentation Writing Category Romance at ROSACon 2021! Book your tickets today! 

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Meet Our 2021 ROSACon Speakers: Collette Merritt


Collette Merritt lives in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa with her husband, two daughters and two feline furbabies.

Collette is passionate about life, people and words, she divides her time between coaching work and writing, where she flirts with fantasy and fiction in her novels, indulging in unspoken secrets and embracing wanton fantasies … all before parents-teachers’ meetings.

Don't miss her presentation Self Care for Authors at ROSACon 2021! Book your tickets today! 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Meet Our 2021 ROSACon Speakers: Ashleigh Giannoccaro

Bestselling author Ashleigh Giannoccaro writes edgy dark romance and erotic horror, self-published by choice she writes the stories others don’t dare. Currently residing in Johannesburg, South Africa with her two daughters and a menagerie of pets, Ashleigh enjoys writing stories that make you fall in love with the unlovable and leaves you asking questions. When not writing she can be found with her Kindle in a sunny spot reading or taking long walks to nowhere.

Don't miss her presentation BookTok for Authors at ROSACon 2021! Book your tickets today! 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Meet Our 2021 ROSACon Speakers: Tamryn Iyer


Tamryn Iyer is a graduate in Social Sciences from Rhodes University. She’s experienced working as an intern at a rape crisis centre – handling social media and doing empowerment talks.

She worked as an English teacher (educational rockstar) in Vietnam and is part of the Global Shapers Community (a division of the World Economic Forum) and more specifically, the Durban Hub.

Her time and energy is devoted to her startup, Impact17. Impact17 is a startup that utilizes social media as a tool of empowerment and facilitator of social change. From helping an entrepreneur launch their brand through Instagram to working with organizations and giving them content direction, she enjoys the ever-changing interwebs and how we can make the best use of it!

She’s passionate about three fields: CULTURE, ENTREPRENEURSHIP and TRAVEL. 

Don't miss her presentation DIY Social Media for Authors at ROSACon 2021! Book your tickets today! 

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Monday, October 18, 2021

In Character - The First Kiss


In Character - First Kiss Title Image

Welcome to our first official In Character chat! We got together with a few ROSA members and their characters to find out about that all important romantic moment – their first kiss!

Our thanks to Tanya Wilde, Marianne Lomberg, and Peter Barker for letting us get a glimpse of their characters’ lives!

Tanya Wilde writes fun, sassy historical romances inspired to ignite your inner heroine. As we all know, every heroine deserves an adventure! You can find more characters like Ophelia at

Marianne Lomberg published her debut novel, Through Your Eyes, in 2021 and hasn’t stopped smiling since. She writes stories about strong, imperfect women with exciting careers and deep longings who find the love we all deserve. You can find Marianne on Facebook at

Peter Barker has been a member of ROSA for the past five years. He has served on the Executive committee as treasurer. His publications include Cupid Mislaid, a full-length romance novel, and has contributed three short stories to Flambé, A Silk Tie murder, and the Rooibos Baby, a mixed genre anthology that was put out by the Sharp Pencils Writers group. Peter embarked on a writing career after retiring as an accountant in the travel industry. He is married to Audrey.

Who Are You - Character Introductions

Hello, I’m Lady Ophelia Thornton, heiress and only daughter of the Earl of Rhodes. By far, my most favorite pastime is to put skirt-sniffing fortune-hunters in their place. I never miss an opportunity to do so!

You can read about my attempts in Not Quite A Rogue.


Hi! I’m Akheela. Akheela Edwards. Evolutionary biologist in the sci-fi romance, Where The Light Rests, due for publication in 2022. As you read this, I’m on the moon. Yes. I just said that. I am part of the world’s first civilian mission to the rock that reflects our sun, spending my days studying the tardigrades, tiny, prehistoric animals, found trapped in the lunar ice. And my nights trying to reconcile myself to the fact that I live with a fucking humanoid robot butler who can see everything I do.


Hi Penelope, this must be a bit unusual for you, as a journalist. Usually you’re the one asking the questions. Now you’re answering them.

Yes, it does feel a bit strange. I was created in the imagination of Peter Barker or PG Barker as he calls himself. Peter used to work as a freelance journalist while still a high school and university student, so my life experiences are based on that. His genre is romantic suspense. This WIP is slightly different. He has me dealing with the subject of corruption which is quite endemic in this country.

First Kiss - The Past

Everyone has a very special, sometimes awkward, occasionally bittersweet first kiss memory. Let’s find out about Ophelia's, Akheela's and Penelope’s! 

When and Where did the first kiss happen?

My first kiss was, dare I say stolen, on the most trafficked street in London. I, for one, never saw it coming. Had I an inkling of that man’s intention, I’d have surely dashed for the Thames!

Then again, what can an unattached lady do at the callow age of twenty?


Peter doesn’t mention anything about my high school love life other than someone I had a crush on. In my back story there is David with whom I had an idyllic romantic relationship.

David was special to me. He was someone I fell deeply in love with. Unfortunately, once campus life was over, David went home to Livingstone in Zambia and I returned to the fictitious town, renamed Amagquma on the East Rand.

Who did you have your first kiss with and why were they special?

Wow, you jump right in, don’t you? It’s okay, Marianne warned me about this.  My first kiss was with the class hunk in 6th grade. His name was Patrick. He was tall and, well, I mean, he was sweet enough, but I only liked him because all the girls were supposed to. Susan kissed him, and so I had to, you know? I mean, my mom always told me the only way a girl with an afro was going to get the same things as the pretty, white girls, was by taking them. So during Shelley’s birthday party, while the movie was playing on the TV in her parents’ lounge. I just slid over to him on the couch and slapped my lips on his mouth. Then I froze, until he put me out of my misery by kissing me back. I mean, that’s the story of my life, really. Jumping in, then freezing and thinking shit.

The kiss wasn’t bad, I guess, as twelve-year-olds’ first kisses go. And I did end up living with a guy who looked a lot like Patrick. So, you know. Maybe he was more than just the boy I kissed because Susan did, after all.


That would be Harry Spencer, the rogue Earl of Avondale. By Jove! That jackanape kissed me on St. James Street in broad daylight! Had I not been disguised as a gentleman myself, I might have been thoroughly ruined! And therein lay the shock of it all. He kissed me while I was disguised as a man. Caught me quite off guard!

To this day, the tips of my fingers still go numb whenever I recall that scandalous scene. Though, between the two of us, who was more scandalous at the time, is still up for debate.

First Kiss - The Present

Although there can only ever be one very first kiss, every romantic relationship has a moment where you share your first kiss. Let’s explore your present romantic interests! 

Who is your romantic interest now and how did your first kiss go?

I married that scoundrel Avondale. God forbid another reckless youth tries to steal a kiss. I’ve run out of places to hide the duelling pistols!

Any suggestions, dear reader?


His name is Geoff Brickhill. My boss sent me to interview the head of the Department of Health procurement division which had been set up in our little town. That person was in a meeting so I got passed on to Geoff who was an official there. I was blown away by his good looks as soon as I met him. He was very passionate about rooting out corruption, and that became the focus of our relationship at first.

After one of our meetings I asked him out of a date. That was something I’d never done before. He was impressed. He thought I was progressive and he liked that. I took him to a new restaurant and at the end of the date he walked me to my car, hugged me and kissed me as we were saying good night. I was surprised to find how electrifying his kiss was, particularly as I had been in a relationship before.

What made it special?

Avondale has been my only kissing partner. That’s not to say we don’t keep matters of the lips thrilling. These days, I have been fantasizing about kissing Avondale while riding atop a horse. I suspect, however, that for the position that I have in mind, I’d be wearing breaches again or drag my skirts above my knees. . .

Heavens, my cheeks suddenly feel quite hot! In any event, the likes of this scene ought not to be painted for the eyes of others! Not from my lips. Let us leave the details to the author.


Ugh. You had to go there. Fine. Tom. I kissed Tom. And no, not only because I’m a Star Trek fan and he has dimples and has the same name as Tom Paris from Voyager. Here’s the rub though: our kiss should have been perfect. It should have led to seriously good sex. Because maybe it’s the purified air, or maybe it’s the slightly lower air pressure out here, but orgasms are pretty intense. I was kinda looking forward to sharing one with someone else.

But I couldn’t do it with the bloody android staring at me. I couldn’t even focus enough to tell you if I enjoyed the kiss we’d been building up to for eight weeks when it finally happened.

And the fact that both Tom and the android looked at me as if I was the delusional one, and asked what worried me about a computer with a human shape being in the same room, when I was surrounded by computers while having sex on earth, didn’t warm me to either of them. Arseholes.

Saucy Secrets

Would it be that I had more love interests to compare my husband’s ki—

“More what?”

“Harry? When did you arrive? Why are you glaring at me? Have you been hiding there the whole time?”

Forgive me, dear reader. I should have foreseen Avondale lurking in the shadows of this interview. He put on quite the sulk when I did not invite him to join me today. I’d not have gotten a word in otherwise!

As for the matter of more kissing partners . . . I’ll just leave that for your interpretation.

Not at present, no, but I do declare today has been a delight! Next time, I shall be sure to arrange for a more private setting. For now, I shall be off. A brooding male is waiting to be appeased. And what better way to soften one's spouse than by demanding wanton kisses!


YES! I’d like to be able to park the fucking robot butler in a deep, dark closet, preferably one where its energy cells would deplete totally. I never asked to be watched twenty four hours a bloody day!

Although. The thing is, my android understands me in a way I have never experienced with any human romantic partner. And no, we haven’t kissed. We can’t. It has sensors for a mouth. But in the middle of the night, when my demons wake me, its arms surrounding me and its solid, humming warmth behind my back makes me wish that we could. That someone who spends every moment of their existence working to understand me, could be human enough for me to be allowed to fall in love with them.


I have feminist sympathies and I felt quite proud of myself for initiating the first date. However deep down in my girly of girly heart, it would have been nicer if he had initiated the first date.

Geoff has made up for it. The hugs and kisses are coming at full tilt.

Chit Chat

Now that you’ve met some of our ROSA members’ characters and learnt all about their first kiss experiences, share your thoughts in the comments and if you’re feeling brave, share your own experiences of first kisses! 

If you'd like to find out more about creating characters with sizzling chemistry, writing romance that leaves readers wanting more, and have an opportunity to network with industry professionals, join us at ROSACon 2021.

ROSACon 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Blue Sky Thinking - A Cure for Writer's Block?

 Have you ever sat down at your manuscript and had no idea where to start or where to go next?

         Don’t worry. We’ve all been there: staring out of the window, doom scrolling through our social media or making copious cups of tea.


 But Blue Sky Thinking can help. Blue Sky Thinking can get you over your writer’s block and into the next scene.


Blue Sky Thinking is defined as ‘creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs’ In other words, it is the kind of thinking that is out of the box, perhaps generating ideas that might be considered absurd.


Children are better at Blue Sky Thinking than adults. They will draw a picture of a castle on the back of a truck, or mole’s home underground with electricity and water. What about adults?


Unfortunately we realise our ideas and words have consequences.  What we say or write affects the way people see us, think of us and treat us. We become self-conscious and we start judging our ideas before they have had a chance to breathe life.


 And then, we curate them so fast, we barely even see them before we crush them. As writers we can end up sitting, staring at a blank page or a screen, with nothing.


 Or, we may find ourselves agonising over and editing words we have written, as we write. We edit and write at the same time until our creative flow grinds to a halt. We can take years to finish a book or we don’t finish it at all.


If you apply Blue Sky Thinking to your writing process, you can prevent this from happening. You will need to put your editor self on hold, only your writer self will be allowed at your desk.  Tell yourself that, in the writing process. your ideas have no limits. There will be no judgement and no consequences. (That will only come during the editing process.)


Write all your ideas for your story down, however crazy, wild, silly and ridiculous they might be. Write them down. Fill the page with insanity, absurdity, bizarre character traits, leaps of coincidence, well used tropes, suspension of disbelief and incongruent plot twists. This is Blue Sky Thinking, where the sky is the limit because there is no limit. This is where your ideas give birth to more ideas, until you have so many ideas that there will be one that fits your story, or it will fit the direction your story is taking, or it will lead your story in an amazing direction or it will spark the beginning of a new story.


I have found the less I work on a book, or the longer time I leave between writing sessions, or the more I try to edit the existing work, the more difficult the whole process is. But if I let my ideas flow, without necessarily knowing where they are going, then my existing ideas grow, and more new ideas come to me.


         So if you’re stuck in a rut and don’t know the way out, hang up your editorial hat. Look out the window at the sky and tell yourself there is no judgement at your desk. Let your ideas beget ideas.  Apply Blue Sky Thinking and there will be no limit to your creative process.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Meet-Cute

The movie The Holiday introduced the wider world to the screenwriting term ‘meet-cute’. (I’ve also occasionally seen it referred to as a ‘cute-meet’ but somehow that doesn’t have the same ring to it!) The meet-cute is the scene in which two characters, who will become a romantic couple later in the story, meet for the first time.

While meet-cutes are a staple of romantic comedies, the same principles apply to all sub-genres of Romance. This initial encounter sets the stage for the rest of the story.

In a Romance novel this initial meeting on the page, even if it’s between characters who already know each other, is one of the book’s most crucial scenes, because this is the scene that’s going to set our expectations. Usually this scene gives us the first impression of their chemistry (what’s going to bring them together) and also of their conflicts (what’s going to keep the apart until the end of the book.)

If this first moment of meeting is highly-charged and filled with sizzling chemistry then readers will expect that to be sustained and built on throughout the story. If there is less focus on mutual attraction in that first scene (which would be usual in a friends-to-lovers story, for example) then readers might expect a slow burn story that will unfold more gently and be more focused on them overcoming their conflicts than on them burning up the sheets together.

Ideally in a Romance, you want this scene to happen as close to the start of the book as possible, preferably in the first chapter (especially if you’re writing shorter category Romance) or at the very least in the first few chapters. There are exceptions to this rule, such as Alessandra Torre’s Hollywood Dirt, where the characters meet only in Chapter 26, a full 20% into the story, but for the most part Romance readers are going to expect to meet both characters, and see them together, within the first 10% of the story.

For some ideas of different types of meet-cutes, watch this video which uses movie examples to illustrate four different types of initial meetings between the characters: