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Monday, September 18, 2017

Authoring 101: How to Fake It, till you Make It




I’m sure we’ve all, at some point in our writing career (and I use the word ‘career’ ve-ery loosely here!), felt like just giving up. I mean, we write, we edit, we join writing circles and Facebook groups and talk about writing a heck of a lot. It’s all so...inspirational...well, no, it’s actually quite depressing sometimes, especially when it feels like everyone else is ‘making it’ while you just struggle to find time in day to write a couple hundred words…

This is my honest take on what it’s like to to be a writer. It’s flippen’ hard. It’s a ton of work with so little credit it’s almost as insane as having kids - the ultimate around the clock job with no 13th cheque, I mean, no pay cheque at all, in fact the exact opposite: a bottomless financial and time leak that just won’t go away - because it’s still so worth it!

I hope this post is for you.

I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way…

So last week I felt just like this this, and then I exchanged a mail with Romy Sommer and admitted I felt I wasn’t sure if I should bother renewing my ROSA membership. I had a shopping list of reasons: I still haven’t finished my book, my beta readers ripped it to shreds, I’m not a real writer anyway etc. etc.

You know the refrain.

I know you do.

But then, a teeny tiny voice, from the very depth of heart whispered: “Do not give up on your dream.”

What did you just say?

DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM.

The kids will grow up, and if you raised them right enough, leave the nest to chase their own adventures. The people who love you, get it, and will support your efforts, don’t underestimate them, tell them how you are feeling.

Own it.

Own the fact that you are writer - and take yourself seriously even if your WIP is in a bigger state of crisis than the Western Cape and the current drought situation. You can do this. You CAN, but it’s up to you. No-one is going to give you what you need (time, money, discipline) those are things you are going to have to make contingency plans and trade-offs for. Recognise that it (time, money, discipline) will come at a price - and pay it. And you must if you are going to make it. Because the only thing that separates a struggling writer from a successful one is Perseverance. With a capital P.

So here are some of my strategies to Fake It Until I Make It as an author.

  • Be your own PR person. Get a professional photo taken, website and FB page and share your writerly thoughts on it. Put yourself out there in the world as an author.
  • If you have a book, brag about it, talk about it, tell EVERYONE about it.
  • Immediately ditch the idea that you are going to be discovered. Give copies of your book to local libraries, offer to give talks and go knocking for the exposure you want. Local radio stations and newspapers are looking for fresh news - be the fresh news!
  • Get your fans together (on mailing list) and ask for things that will help you sell your book: reviews, reviews and more reviews.
  • Mingle with other writers, collaborate, learn and show your support of their work.
  • Read books in your genre like it’s homework.
  • Write consistently. Don’t overthink it, just write. A messy first draft is better than No Draft.

Most importantly: DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM.

Why should anyone believe in you, if you do not believe in yourself?


Words by Cindi Page 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Meet Elsa Winckler - Multiple Award Winner, who writes in English and Afrikaans






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.


Meet the lovely Elsa 


What is the last romance novel you read?
For seven nights only - Sarah Balance

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

Are you published yet? If so, with whom?
Escape Publishing, Etopia Press and HarperImpulse

What do you love most about writing?
Creating characters

And what is your biggest challenge as a writer?
To find time

Do you have a playlist while you write?
No, I don’t listen to music while I write, but songs definitely inspire some stories

What was the inspiration behind your last book?
An article I read about an animal communicator





What is your proudest achievement as a writer?
Three awards

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

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

What keeps you motivated to write?
All the voices in my head

What is your writing schedule like - do you write every day / a certain time of day?
On a perfect day, I write from 9:00 till 16:00 when I have to start cooking

(Okay, we all hate you a bit now, Elsa!)

Tell us about the first love story you ever wrote.
It was in Afrikaans. At the time I was the admin lady at the English Department at the University of Stellenbosch and we had a professor from the Engineering department who enrolled for English I. That got me thinking - what if …?

You probably get this question a lot...but are you related to Heinz Winckler?
Yes, I'm his mom!

(Okay, we love you again, Elsa!)

What is the best part about being part of ROSA?
My fellow Rosas are all formidable women and everyone is so supportive.



Connect with Elsa on Facebook. And visit her website: http://elsawinckler.com/

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 romy@romancewriters.co.za 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!

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