Monday, 11 November 2019

Romance Across Time - Regency Romance


By Sharon Bryant

The Regency Period in the United Kingdom occurred during the early 19th century. Architecture, technology and the arts flourished under the patronage of the wealthy, including the Prince Regent himself. The upper classes enjoyed power and privilege whilst the poorest people lived in squalor. The Napoleonic Wars took place during this period. The mini-renaissance enjoyed by the upper classes together with the strong stratification of society provide endless inspiration to romance novelists and readers alike. Not surprisingly, Regency romance is the most popular historical sub-genre. I hope you enjoy reading these novels as much as I have.

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick




The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman to pose as his fiancĂ©e for a few weeks while he is in London on business. A practical man who doesn’t wish to be bothered by the fortune-seeking mothers of the ton, he knows a paid companion will provide the perfect solution to his problems. A simple business arrangement with a woman who can act convincingly. Unfortunately, such a lady is proving impossible to find. Eleanora Lodge needs a job quickly if she is to avoid becoming destitute. Independent and feisty, she has trouble finding work, until the earl offers her the role and convinces her to accept. Eleanora quickly suspects her fake fiancĂ© of hiding secrets. Her new job is fast becoming far more dangerous than she first thought.

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare




Minerva Highwood doesn’t expect to marry. Plain and bookish, she is easily flustered in the company of handsome men. Minerva knows she has made a momentous archaeological discovery. She must travel to Edinburgh immediately to present her findings to her peers. If she can persuade Lord Payne to take her, she will also be removing this dissolute rake from the company of her beloved sister. She doesn’t mind being ruined. No man wants her in any case. If Lord Payne won’t take her, she’ll go alone. Lord Payne admires her courage and resourcefulness, but has no desire to ruin an innocent. Nor can he allow her to travel unaccompanied. The journey this unlikely couple take is a real page-turner filled with dry humour, plot twists and romance.

Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie



Shy Lily Rutherford has a secret. Bullied for it as a child, she doesn’t recognise her considerable character strengths. Lily becomes the victim of an opportunistic crime resulting in great societal pressure on her to marry Edward Galbraith, a well-known rake. Edward also has a secret – a terrible event in his past has ripped most of the hope and happiness from his life. He will offer Lily his name, but can never offer her his heart. Lily’s joy de vivre and caring nature make her a woman the reader would love to have as a friend. Readers also ache for Edward who tries to look after her, and would offer Lily more than simple caring, if only he could.

Do you read regency romance novels? Which one is your favourite?

 Love to love: Nights out with my husband.

Love to laugh: With my new grandson.

Love to learn: More about the craft of writing.

Monday, 4 November 2019

5 Characteristics of a Romance Villain

By Cassandra Samuels

Villain: A  character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Don't we just love to hate a good villain?  This week I'll be exploring the world of the bad guy/gal and what's needed to make a good one. Villain in this post also refers to villainess.

In romance the villain is someone who could stop our love birds from getting together. Someone who could be the cause of past, present or future trauma. Or who might endanger either hero or heroine.

1. Villains have to have a backstory, something that made them into this person they have become. They can often be charming and quite likable until you learn their true motives. What are their motives and what brought them to this point?
courtesy of Cat Planet
2. Villains have a lot of the same characteristics as the hero, it's just that they are misdirected. They are often convinced that they have been hard done by or wronged in some way and therefore their anger and revenge is justified.

Giphy.com
3. Villains will not stop until they get what they want, to the point of obsession.  Often their revenge will be the only thing that is keeping them going. They have committed their life to the pursuit of their justice.

4. Villains have to be a worthy opponent to your hero. It's important that your villain's actions prompt the hero to act, even if it is out of character for him. Otherwise why would the hero bother to act at all?
screen shot from the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel
5.Villains are smart and calculating and can't be fools, although they may play the fool to disguise their true motives. Ultimately, though, you want your villain to be as well fleshed out as your protagonists.

What do you look for in a great romance villain? What is your favourite romance villain from a book?

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Love to Love  attending the Historical Novel Society conference

Love to Laugh at my husband and his dry sense of humour.

Love to Learn about writing and being an INFJ personality type

Monday, 28 October 2019

HNSA Conference 2019

By Marilyn Forsyth



I’ve just returned from the biannual HNSA Conference (at Parramatta this year), with my head buzzing. Wow! What a weekend! Hats off to the committee for a fabulously well-organised three days with a wealth of writing experts discussing their craft.

Thanks Pamela!



The Friday craft workshop on Making Research Work for You with the oh-so-knowledgeable Pamela Hart was brilliant. I’ve come away with so many great tips on researching. Honestly, I can’t wait to get started on her suggestions. If you get a chance to take part in any workshop of Pamela’s, just do it!

The Introduction to the weekend was made by the beautiful Kate Forsyth (who I could listen to endlessly because her passion for writing comes through with such heartfelt enthusiasm).



Paula Morris gave the Keynote Address on the theme of History Repeats. The key thing I took from this was something I already knew, (and I’m sure you do, too) but it certainly bears repeating: “History exists in voices, and voices disagree.’

Paula is very funny and not nearly as stern as she looks here!

Jackie French was the worthy Guest of Honour. I particularly liked her suggestion that ‘If writing a book sounds too terrifying, think of it as writing a scene each time you start to write. A book is a series of scenes.’ I will also keep in mind (in my timeslip work-in-progress) her advice that ‘It’s important to know what REALLY happened, rather than what we wish happened’, as so many people (myself included) learn their history from historical fiction.


Here are just a few snippets from the panel discussions I attended (some may be paraphrased):

Stoking the Flame (sizzle vs slow burn): ‘It should be a meeting of the minds before a meeting of the bodies.’ Elizabeth Ellen Carter. (So succinct!)

Love that these ladies dressed up for the occasion!

Learning from History: ‘Having an emotional connection to a place will come out in the words you put on the page.’ And ‘Atmosphere is created through characters; how they relate to what is around them, how they feel, what they see, hear and touch.’ Winton Higgins. (Important things to keep in mind.)

Personal Histories: ‘Setting is a tapestry upon which the story is woven.’ Ella Carey. (So eloquently put!)

I am Camera (point of view): ‘Ask yourself, which character has the right to tell this story?’ Julian Leatherdale. (I take this as meaning the character with the most at stake, which makes sense to me!)

Walking Side by Side (collaboration between historical novelists and historians): ‘There is power in standing (in your characters’ shoes), in standing where your characters have stood.’ Gay Hendriksen. (I’m a strong believer that nothing can beat actually walking the grounds of your book’s setting.)

The hands-on session of Medieval Armour and Armouring was a real hit! The opportunity to handle replica swords, daggers and shields, and to try on chainmail and helmets was way too good to pass up. AJ and Matthew really knew their stuff! 



There was also a fantastic fencing display over lunch.



At the Conference Dinner, the ever-affable Anna Campbell showed off her considerable photographic skills with stunning photos of Scotland’s Small Isles, an area of inspiration for her with her popular Lairds Most Likely series. Huge congratulations to Christina King, winner of the ARA Short Story contest, and to the two winners of the Inaugural Colleen McCullough Residency on Norfolk Island, Sally Colin James and Chris Bell (so jealous!), also announced on the night.

Random photos...









All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. Roll on 2021 for the next one...

What do you love about conferences?
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Love to Love spending time with friends, old and new. 
Love to Laugh at Enisa and I trying to catch a taxi at 10 pm on a Saturday night in Parramatta! (What were we thinking???)  
Love to Learn the thought processes of other authors.


Monday, 21 October 2019

Author Spotlight - Lisa Ireland


Lisa Ireland enjoys kicking off her shoes and relaxing, will never refuse a hot drink, and loves to chat. So please give a warm, chatty welcome to Lisa!




Bio:

Lisa Ireland is a full-time writer of romance and contemporary women's fiction, who loves to share her knowledge of writing craft with aspiring authors. In 2014 Lisa was a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards in the category of Best New Author, and the following year went on to be one of the top ten debut fiction authors in Australia. Her rural romance, Feels Like Home, is an Australian bestseller. Lisa's fifth book, The Art of Friendship, is out now and her sixth book, The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan, will be published by Penguin Random House in April, 2020. Lisa lives on Victoria's beautiful Bellarine Peninsula with her family. She loves eating but not cooking, is an Olympic-class procrastinator, and (most importantly) minion to a rather large dog. And, of course, being chatty, she loves to connect with her readers on Facebook or Twitter or you can visit her website: lisairelandbooks.com





What is one 'must have' when you are writing?
Coffee! I am a caffeine junkie and I can't start my writing day without a large skinny latte. My routine is to go for a walk or run each morning and then grab a coffee on the way home. Once I've exercised and caffeinated, I can start work. I usually head out for second coffee mid-afternoon. This gives me the boost I need to keep writing for the rest of the day.

Do you listen to music as you write?
No, I need silence, although background noise (for example, in a cafe) doesn't bother me. I love music and get too caught up in it to concentrate if I have it on while I'm writing. I do sometimes make a playlist of songs that are meaningful to the book that I am writing. I'll listen to the playlist when I'm doing other things.

What is the premise of your latest book?
In one sentence: The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan (coming May 2020) is about a woman who kidnaps her dementia-affected husband from his nursing home and takes him on a road trip in a Kombi.

Of course, the book is about much more than a road trip. Here's the blurb:

Elderly. Is that how the world sees me? A helpless little old lady? If only they knew. I allow myself a little smirk.

When Shirley Sullivan signs her eighty-two-year-old husband, Frank, out of the Sunset Lodge nursing home, she has no intention of bringing him back.

For fifty-seven years the married couple have shared happiness and heartbreak.

And for most of those years, Shirley Sullivan has been nursing a guilty secret...

These days Frank may not know who she is, but he knows he wants to go home. 
So Shirley enacts an elaborate plan to evade the authorities (and their furious daughter, Fiona) to give Frank the holiday he's always dreamed of.

What unique challenges did the book pose?

This book is told exclusively through Shirley's point of view, which I found challenging. Usually I have multiple POV characters, so the reader sees the story from several perspectives. This time the reader couldn't know anything that my main character didn't know, and that got tricky at times. To make life even more difficult, the story has two separate timelines - past and present. I used first-person present tense for the current day story and third-person past tense for the historical story. I can't tell you the amount of times I started a new chapter in the wrong tense! I'd suddenly realise what I'd done and then have to go back and start the chapter again.

What are you reading at the moment?

I've just finished The Heart of the Cross by Emily Madden, which was wonderful, and I'm about to start Joanna Nell's The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker.


What do you love to love? My boxer, Lulu. We rescued her five years ago when she was literally at death's door. She's now happy and healthy and the most affectionate dog on earth!

What do you love to laugh at? Not so much at, but with my friend, Sally Hepworth. We share a sense of humour and an ability to get ourselves into embarrassing situations. Sally makes me laugh pretty much every day.

What do you love to learn about? People. Whether that's learning about another culture, how people lived in the past or simply something I didn't know about one of my friends, I'm always interested in learning more about people. I often think I would have enjoyed studying psychology.

Monday, 14 October 2019

THE ALLURE OF PUPPIES AND KITTENS IN ROMANCE

Miranda's October Musings


Hello precious people. I'm going to discuss something dear to my heart about precious things in this world. No, not jewels, and not babies - which are the top of my precious pyramid, but pets in romance. I seem to be lacking their presence on my shelves! So I'm going to explore what's out there and see if you have any suggestions for me.

What kicked this off? I downloaded this beauty this morning, and can't wait to read it. Oh my goodness, the cover is adorable. 


Photo credit: amazon.com

That puppy is to die for, all tongue and soft pat-able furry gorgeousness. A bundle of love. The hero isn't too bad, either! He's a wildlife firefighter (which is code for 'instant hero'), and needs a service puppy. Aww. Tempted by the cover and blurb? Obviously I was, even though Lucy Gilmore is  new-to-me author. And just look what's coming out at Christmas, be still my heart. I'm so getting that one, too:


Photo credit: amazon.com


Lori Foster is another author renowned for her love of animals. Feast your eyes on these two romances - I sort of don't really care about the blurb, because I'm already absolutely convinced I'm going to lurve the story from the cover. Who can resist those kitty eyes in Shelter From The Storm? And yet behind the cute cover is a story about domestic abuse and foster homes. Just cuddling the kitty and hearing its soft purr would be enough to give anyone comfort. That is a perfect cover, IMHO.  


 
Photo credit: amazon.com

Photo credit: amazon.com



And Cooper's Charm has a furry rescue baby on the cover. Again, rescuing fur babies is immediate code on my personal honour role for wonderful heroes/heroines.

I adopted a rescue kitty with Christmas money one year, a crazy, beautiful torty called Tess. Her paw prints are all over my heart. Here she is in all her regal magnificent-ness.





Curiously, however, there seems to be more dogs than cats on romance covers. Why is this, gentle friends? Is it because cats can sometimes be seen as evil, vicious, snarky animals? (Cough, well, maybe sometimes they are, but I'll never admit it...)

Kandy Shepherd, our beloved Aussie romance author, has a personal menagerie of animals. I know this because she blogs about it (and I love reading it). I absolutely adore her romances with dogs, they are fabulously romantic and heartwarming. But where are the kitties?


Photo credit: amazon.com

So, what's your opinion, readers? Do we need more kitty love like these Valentine Kittens? (Which I would totally buy for the cover. Seriously, an overload of romantic hearts and cuteness.)


Photo credit: amazon.com


Or do you prefer your romances with barks and tail wagging? Or, for that matter, feathers or fins?


Will enjoy a bit of debate on this issue!


Love from Miranda xx


Love to love:
Well, you all know it... Cats and dogs in romances.

Love to laugh:
At cute animals, making us fall in love with them.

Love to learn:
What romances you've read with fur, feather, fins - or other - that's captured your romantic heart. 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Introducing the BEPHA Hero


By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Yes, you heard me! As both a romance author and a speech pathologist, I've decided to coin a new term - the Bepha Hero! It might be scorned and I don't expect it to be adopted, but let's look at it anyway!

To see how I come up with this, let's first look at the traditional heroes, working our way through to Alpha
  
                                                           

1. The Beta Hero
This guy is often open, friendly, sensitive, more mild-mannered than the alpha, more inclined to open up about his vulnerabilities. He can be confident and secure, is generally respectful and very nice - but not a wimp. He's the type of guy you'd take home to meet Mum and Dad. He's Lord Ian Mackenzie in Jennifer Ashley's "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie" or Robert Carroway in Suzanne Enoch's "England's Perfect Hero".

2. The Delta Hero
These guys are dark and dangerous, often loners and may have outlaw status. Generally not common in romance novels.

3. The Theta Hero
I'd never heard of this until I researched for this article! These are said to be wounded to the point of self-destruction eg. through substance abuse.

4. The Alpha Hero - Traditionally
Typically the alpha hero is a domineering man who could also be a bit of a tyrant. He's a leader who always ends up as the boss because he likes to be in control - a type of my-way-or-the-highway character. He can be cold, possessive and jealous and can lack sentimentality. 

J.R. Ward has written plenty of Alpha Heroes and I've loved them all.

Jacki Ashendon on the "Heroes and Heartbreakers" blog says that while there is some overlap, she identifies six different types of Alpha heroes:

- The playboy (sexy and charming and always great in bed)
- The wounded alpha (grumpy and sulry)
- The bad boy (a rebel who may or may not be redeemable)
- The a-whole (jerk)
- The alpha in disguise (quiet and more laid back)
- The uptight alpha (has rules and has to follow them)

Sarah Wendell from "Smart Bitches" says that the Alpha hero has evolved from 'asshole...autocratic chest-pounders with a tendency toward rape or forced seduction.' She calls them 'alphole heroes' and says they are 'too assertive without humility or honour'. Sarah goes on to say that the alpha hero has transformed.

The problem I see with redefining the Alpha Hero is that there are still books printed and adored by readers where we have the traditionally dominating Alpha male.Therefore, I think we need a new term.

5. The Gamma Hero
My research hasn't led me to any clear definition and there seem to be conflicting views as to who this Gamma Hero is. Some say he's a combination of alpha and beta (and this may negate my claim for the BEPHA hero). These say that he is super strong and aggressive but not arrogant, that he cares about others, and he usually has a bad reputation that isn't deserved.
The other description I've read of the Gamma Hero is that he's indifferent and never possessive of the heroine and can be cold.

Hm - definitely not my BEPHA hero.


THE BEPHA HERO
This month, in my novel SEDUCED BY THE STRANGER, my hero, Max Bennett is, I believe a BEPHA Hero. Now, here's why - he has both alpha and beta qualities.


1.He's a leader and likes to be in control BUT  he works well with his friends & can delegate responsibility
2. He's a self-made billionaire and has been a success in his own right, BUT he's teamed up with two friends in business (in fact that's how they all made their initial millions).  
3. He is capable of totally taking charge of the situation BUT can re-evaluate and consider things from the heroine's POV & adapt before she even points out that he needs to
4. He can be very jealous BUT controls his jealousy & is evolved enough to know physical violence isn't acceptable toward anyone. So, while he may feel inclined to punch some creep who gets too friendly with his lady, he is NEVER violent. He is more than capable of taking control of the situation without using his fists.
5. He wants the heroine & wants her now  BUT controls himself to let things progress at her pace & level of comfort
6. He keeps information from the heroine in 'her own interest' and doesn't involve her in that decision (a bit alpha of him!)
7. He takes action to 'protect' the heroine's interest and presents his actions as a fait accompli (very alpha of him!)
8. He's not afraid to show his sensitive side to the heroine BUT is aware he doesn't want to look too emotional, especially in front of others
9. He confides to his friends how he feels
10. He can apologise and admit his mistakes
11. He's only friendly to a point and certainly doesn't make his employees his friends

What do you think? Do we need a new term and is Max Bennett a BEPHA male? Or with the way I describe him do you define him as definitely being an alpha or a beta?

Love to Love: Bepha males!

Love to Laugh: Have had many laughs over this term as I've written this tongue-in-cheek.

Love to Learn: Had no idea before researching for this blog that Delta and Theta Heroes existed!













Monday, 30 September 2019

Blurbs - Hook Your Reader

by Enisa Haines

You've completed your novel and now it's time to write the back book cover blurb. Those 150-200 words on the back of the book that grab a reader's attention, intriguing them and enticing them to buy.

How do you write the blurb? In an earlier post author Marilyn Forsyth described the many ways (The Blurb - Make it Count!) and what I learned is that it's not a shorter version of the synopsis as I'd somehow convinced myself. The blurb is a teaser mentioning the setting, the main characters, the conflict and a glimpse of the plot. Most important of all are the tagline, the hook that snags your reader, and the last statement, the hook that leaves the reader yearning for more.










The back book cover blurb to Under Currents by Nora Roberts -
"The perfect facade can hide dark undercurrents" - gives a sinister feel and readers know immediately the story is romantic suspense.














The back cover book blurb final statement to Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie - "But Rose never did follow the rules, and as she takes matters into her own unpredictable hands, Thomas finds himself in an unexpected and infuriating predicament: he is falling in love with his wife..." - tempts readers into immersing themselves in a sweet, romantic tale that promises a happy ending.










How to perfect the tagline? The last statement? Think about your story. What is it's selling point? Is it the main characters, or the plot point that sends them on their journey and pits them against each other? Know the answers to these questions and what to include in the blurb will be clearer.

Do blurbs catch your attention? Do they convince you to buy? Are there any blurbs so memorable you'd like to share? 

Love to love: impulse buys when a blurb reels me in.

Love to laugh: at some of the blurbs I've written - mediocre at best (that's laugh after a good, long cry!)

Love to learn: how to write the perfect blurb.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Magic In The Garden

Maya Linnell grew up in a small country town, climbing towering gum trees and reading her
way through her family's bookshelves before discovering a never-ending supply of novels at
the local library. She found her feet in journalism, working at a rural newspaper before
segueing into public relations and now fiction writing and blogging for Romance Writers
Australia. Wildflower Ridge is her debut novel and gathers inspiration from her rural
upbringing and the small communities she has always lived in and loved. Maya currently
lives in rural Victoria with her husband and three children.

Welcome, Maya!
Gardening is one of my favourite hobbies, and although my love of all things floral has waxed and waned with the many moons of my life, I’ve always found solace in digging and
planting, nurturing and harvesting.

As a child, I remember begging my green-thumbed mother to buy a rose of my own, and when I wasn’t climbing trees, I was eating fruit straight from their heavily-laden limbs. If I
close my eyes, it’s easy to picture myself in the garden as a teenager, tending to a plot directly underneath an old windmill that creaked and whirred in the breeze. Training snow peas to grow up a trellis became a welcome respite from the stress and study pressures of high school, but it wasn’t until I moved out of home and started putting my stamp on gardens of my own that I ever considered myself a green thumb.

I’ll never claim to be an expert gardener - I’ve had bare, ugly patches, weeds and failures in every garden I’ve ever tended – but boy, do I love planting things and watching them grow.

My yard is full of cuttings from friends and family who happily supplied bulbs, seeds and cuttings to help develop the rural property we purchased in 2014. Their donations formed the framework of our home before the concrete house slab was even poured. I often think of these friends as I tend to my irises from Fiona, Marilyn and Lesa, geraniums from Emma and Mum, my very first dahlia bulbs from Mr Ellis and strawberries from my mother’s best friend, Diane. Oh, those sweet strawberries. Each year the plants die off to nothing, their leaves turning crunchy and brown, like poisoned weeds. They return without fail each summer, their juicy, plump blessings reminding me of a very special lady; the most enthusiastic garden I’ve ever known. Diane always sent visitors home with ice-cream
containers full of strawberries, bags of fresh fruit and veggies, as many cuttings as they wanted for their own garden, with a carton or two of eggs for good measure. She passed away two years ago, but I remember her in every strawberry that comes from our patch.


After a busy day, my garden’s tranquillity beckons me, reminding me it’s okay to slow down and take stock. There’s inspiration in every plant that survives our salty coastal winds and thrives in our poor sandy soil, a lesson in resilience in every stubborn weed that spreads like wildfire if given a chance (rocket – I’m looking at you), and a sprinkle of magic in every wrinkly brown tuber that transforms into a magnificent dahlia flower, year in, year out.

Without even realising it, I manage to thread flowers and gardens into my writing. Wildflower Ridge (released June 3 this year with Allen and Unwin) takes its name from a location that’s very special to my main character, Penny, and the McIntyre family. I love the way gardens not only shape memories and moments but bring us busy, highly-technical and fast-paced 21st century people closer to nature.

Just like my own upbringing, my children have grown up watching my husband and I grow all manner of things, helping plant out seedlings, collecting posies of flowers for the kitchen table, picking handfuls of herbs for pizza nights and eating sun-kissed apricots straight from the tree. And I’d like to think that in years to come, they’ll also discover the magic of working outside amongst the birds, the bugs, the plants and the sunshine, and find a hefty dose of happiness and healing with every handful of soil that runs through their fingers.


I love to love… food. Baking is one of my other main hobbies, with my all-time favourites
including chocolate self-saucing pudding, ANZAC biscuits, pavlova and pineapple sponge
cake.

I love to laugh… at Friends. The kids have recently discovered my old fav TV show, which
had me in stitches all throughout high school, and still makes me laugh today.

I love to learn… about new authors and other women who go after their dreams without
fear. Being surrounded by inspirational people is uplifting and good for the soul.

How about you? Do you love gardening? What are some of your favourite hobbies?

Wildflower Ridge is available on Booktopia or Angus and Robertson

Follow Maya online
Website www.mayalinnell.com
Instagram @maya.linnell.writes 
Facebook  maya.linnell.writes
Twitter @maya_linnell

Monday, 16 September 2019

Why You Should Consider Entering a Writing Competition… or Two


By Kristine Charles


September brings with it many things.





Spring. Footy finals. My birthday (yay!).








And the start of the Romance Writers of Australia competition season.

RWA rips in with the Ripping Start… (for which, full disclosure, I am the Contest Coordinator) but before you start moaning at me about dreaded third judges and why you have no time to enter competitions, here are three reasons why entering competitions is good for you.

Discipline and Deadlines

Entering a competition means you have to manage your work into the required format. Margins, spacing, number of words and section of work. You may have to prepare a synopsis to requirements (SHUDDER!) or write a short set-up to a specified word count. This is all designed – generally speaking – to replicate publisher submission requirements, and managing word processing software is a skill we all can master (if you haven’t – there are plenty of videos online to assist). These are important skills to have if you’re going to make it in the publishing world.




A contest also has a deadline. Submit by your deadline or you won’t be able to enter the competition. Simples. A little like meeting a contract deadline… right?





Fabulous Feedback

Yeah, yeah, we all know about the dreaded third judge. That one judge who just hated your work and completely tanked your average score. We’ve all met them.

But, in every cloud there’s a silver lining.

In entering a competition, you’ll generally (although not always) get feedback from a number of judges. And often even the feedback from the meanest of judges will leave you with at least one pearl of wisdom that makes your writing better.





You get to decide what feedback to take on board and what you sacrifice via burning to appease your writing muse – but getting feedback on your writing from people who don’t know you (and therefore won’t just say it’s AMAZING) can be useful.





As an aside, most competitions are always on the lookout for judges and, while you clearly can’t judge in a competition you have entered, volunteering to judge is a great way of dipping your toe into contest waters and seeing what they’re like. So, if you’re not quite ready to give a competition a go, consider volunteering as a judge first.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Yes, winner. Because you might win. And then you get to add ‘AWARD WINNER’ to your bio. Doesn’t that sound nice?






You also might not win, and that’s okay, because you gave it a shot. You’ve also done some work on your discipline, and you’ve got some fabulous feedback to consider.






So… which competitions will you enter this year? Let us know below.









Kristine Charles is the newest member of Breathless in the Bush and writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at www.wordsbykristinecharles.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.






I love to love… coffee.

I love to laugh… at dad jokes and gutter humour.

I love to learn… about the many ways to tell a story.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Romance Across Time: The Tudors

The Tudor Period
The Tudor Period spans the years between 1485 and 1603, commencing with the reign of King Henry VII, and concluding with the death of Queen Elizabeth I. It was a time of great rivalry amongst those who sought the English throne. This caused the royal family to live in the White Tower, within the grounds of the Tower of London. The fortifications afforded them great protection. Prisoners were housed, and often tortured, in other buildings within the tower precinct. The Reformation also dominates this time period, the change from Catholicism to Protestantism creating its own tensions.
This is an incredible period in history offering countless opportunities for authors to write captivating historical romance novels.


Much Ado About Marriage by Karen Hawkins



Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Rotherwood attempts to break into a castle on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. He is on Queen Elizabeth’s business. Thomas encounters the laird's cousin, Fia, who is doing some thieving of her own. He feels a powerful attraction towards her, but given her clothes and behaviour, Thomas fails to realise she is a lady. More than anything, Fia desires to go to London to become a playwright. She asks Thomas to be her patron. He agrees, not realising Fia wants assistance with her writing ambitions. Thomas assumes she is offering to become his mistress. After Thomas and Fia flee, they are caught kissing by the laird and forced to marry. The developing romance between these strong, independent, forthright characters is a joy to read.

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards



Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, known as Ellie, is impoverished. Her father frittered away the Earl of Dorset's family fortune, and his own, trying to turn lead into gold. The earl goes to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, hoping to repair his finances through marriage, only to find that Ellie, and her father, now reside there. The earl and Ellie are attracted to one another, but their attraction can go nowhere. The earl must marry a lady with considerable wealth, and Ellie refuses to ruin the happiness of his mother and sisters by following her heart.

 The White Princess by Philippa Gregory


King Henry VII wins his crown by killing King Richard III in battle. Winning the hearts and minds of the English people proves much harder. He marries Elizabeth of York to try to appease the powerful House of York, and further cement his position. Elizabeth loved Richard, but has no choice in the matter. Love grows, then the pressure of ruling without public support, and governing in a treason-filled world, drives Henry near paranoia. This historic novel with romantic elements is a real page turner.


Have you read any historical romances set in the Tudor period? Which one was your favourite?

I love to love family time.
I love to laugh while reading romance novels.
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Monday, 2 September 2019

5 Characteristics of a romance Heroine

by Cassandra Samuels

I've heard this rumour that behind every great man there is a great woman. In romance this isn't a rumour it's a fact. So let's have a look at what makes a great heroine.

Definition: a heroine is admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.


In romance, the heroine has to be someone you can relate to, someone you want to find a love worthy of her good heart.

A sense of humour: How else is she going to put up with the games that the hero will put her through?
curtesy of Giphy.com

A sense of her own fallibility: She will mistakes. sometimes they will be little faux pas and other times they could almost be catastrophic. However, if she is the kind of heroine we can get behind she has to be able to admit she was wrong.

A sense of caring and or nuturing: Of course she needs to be someone who cares about others, often before herself. Someone who can care for the hero even when he is being a bit of a goose. She will inately know he is worth the effort.

A sense of passion: Passion for life, causes, family and, well, the hero - that's a given.
Curtesy of Giphy.com

A sense of cleverness: I mean who wants a heroine that is TSTL (Too silly to live). She has to be able to go head to head with the hero, even trump him now and then. She will often have her own dreams, plans and plots and that is what will keep the hero and the reader interested in her.

What do you look for in a great romance heroine?


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Love to Love  Finding out I am having a baby granddaughter in January

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