How delightful to spend an afternoon chatting to fellow author and ROSA member, Cindi Page, about my upcoming latest release Watched. You can have a squizz below. We enjoyed it so much we'll be doing it again to discuss Cindi's latest release. You can visit her page here :cindipage.com
I’ll fess up – I had no idea who Jane Porter was. I’d never read her romances, watched any movies based on her romances, or dipped into the advice she serves up in her ‘how to’s. I had heard of Tule, but was damned if I knew how to pronounce it (rhymes with Julie, who knew?). Yes, she’s an international bestselling author, and a publisher - that you can get from a quick Google trawl. But, stats tell you nothing about the person, Jane Porter. What I didn’t expect was to find someone who stripped me straight to my emotional bones in her frankness, her willingness to share her story, and her reassuring quiet strength; aye, she may be small but she is mighty.
Laying your guts out to the public is probably why writers are such ‘crazy cats’ (to use Jane’s expression). But it’s not often that a writer stands up and says it – no hiding under the covers - to a room full of strangers. Raw, unadulterated, 100% honesty. Is it easy to hear? No. But, for this writer here, it was a turning point. If I can’t be honest about who I am, where I’m from, and the experiences that have shaped me, my stories are probably going to lack authenticity. They won’t reflect ‘me’. For that alone, I’d pay over the odds a million times, to hear Jane speak again.
In both her talks, and in conversation with her, she offered priceless insights into romance writing as a career. A career option, that, let’s face it, is not offered by guidance counsellors. And why shouldn’t we be thinking of writing as a career? How many other careers let you research hot men on the Internet? Not accounting, that’s for sure. These were some of the biggies:
Every now and then, I’ll remember something else she said, and I’ll write it down; things like how to engage on Facebook and start conversations with fans, or how to recognise alpha men. And then I’ll think how lucky I was that of all the places Jane exchanged to as teen, it was here, South Africa. Sometimes these things aren’t accidents. Thank you, Jane.
Twas like thunder, as he drove his little red corvette in the purple rain. "My name is Prince. Let's go crazy," he said to the most beautiful girl in the world, her raspberry beret from around 1999. Did he want to get off? You bet your diamonds and pearls, he did. Or maybe one kiss. "If I was your girlfriend," she sighed. She got that look...it was a sign o' the times - no sexy motherfucker this time round. Maybe when doves cried. Welcome to this thing called life.
My inspiration for sexy stories? Has to be the genius that was Prince. Words to describe his fabulosity? Not enough. My coffee shop just cranked up some of his stuff, and all I could think was (to borrow the words of another music legend), thank you for the music.
New year, new me? Nope, I'm the same as last year - still finding every last opportunity to catch up on my TBR reading pile. So far, so good.
Looking for a sweet romance? How about Cupid Mislaid by PG Barker? Or for something a little sexier, Resurgence by Sharonlee Holder. I also devoured The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, which was nearly as delightful as its sequel, Practical Magic. As for The Break by Marian Keyes, I way way preferred it to the previous one of hers.
But by far the best thing, the very best treat, that I was not expecting, and, to be fair, I doubt anyone else in the audience was either, was this:
Shirtless Kylo Ren. With my romance writerly goggles on, was that the force I felt between Ren and Rey? Oh, yes sirree it was. Forbidden love? Check. Villain with the possibility of redemption? Check. Chemistry out the wazoo? Check, check and check again. Don't worry, am quite aware that Rey was dragging the emotional load, and that he's an emotionally unavailable murderer. But, I was blinded by the pecs, and hell, I wasn't the only one either.
Do I hear a new story somewhere in my subconscious prickling to the surface...that's a hell to the yeah. Almost as good a moment as this one.
Yep, I'm pretty sure, it's going to be a great year for romance, 2018!
Do you think you might have missed something important from ROSACon 2017? You know, because it’s two whole days of talks and workshops with romance writers, editors, agents and publishers? Because it’s all about romance writing? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
The top three things I learnt at ROSACon2017:
Did I say top three? There were about twenty four thousand five hundred and a million other things I learnt. Roll on, ROSACon 2018.
Want to find out more about ROSA? Have a look here .
“Which of you bitches is my mother?” Hands up if you know which novel made goldfish worldwide nervous. Hint: it featured boarding schoolgirls, a Middle Eastern prince, and an international porn star. Shirley Conran’s Lace? You haven’t read it? Why not? Probably because it’s kind of clunky nowadays; a relic of the late seventies/eighties when women’s fiction were these thick, glamorous door-stoppers brimming with sex and intrigue. But how it changed my life. Literally. Up until that moment, I hadn’t encountered the ‘bonkbuster’.
The lives of Kate, Pagan, Judy and Maxine transfixed me. They managed to claw themselves up from their upper class finishing schools to the lofty heights of the design, PR and journalism worlds. Yes, one of them was a bit of an alchie, but she managed to marry this ‘simply wonderful, darling man’ who set her up in swishy charity fund raising. Admittedly, the young supposed orphan Lili has a less than glam life, exploited by an unscrupulous photographer into the porn industry, but she too becomes a world-famous superstar known only by one name - Lili - long before Madonna made it popular. Oh, how many times have I read this book? Too many, way too many times. But it opened the door to ‘the others’.
Judith Krantz taught me all about Bill Blass, Spago (their cream cheese pizza is to die for), and how French women apparently eat nothing but a tartin and an oeuf for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For snaring oil tycoons with unexpected pregnancies, having sex on a raft on the ocean in front of a crowded beach with no-one seeing you, and finding out what happens when a starlet and an ageing producer have sex so hot his heart gives out, I thank the legendary Jackie Collins. My Form IV English teacher admonished that I must ‘improve the quality of my reading material’. Are you kidding? This was grade-A stuff.
Jetset locations, larger-than-life women who had closets bigger than their houses solely to accommodate all their skeletons, and men, ohthemen!, who wined and dined them. To this day, when I have a spare Sunday afternoon, I pick up something like The First Wives Club, and gobble the whole thing in one satisfying bite. Is it literature? Really, who the hell cares! There's a reason these books used to be passed around the classroom, certain pages well-thumbed.
Do you have a favourite? Which one?
What do you think? A little too provocative maybe? A bit too much…tongue? I’m not sure. Probably. Definitely.
Book covers. There’s an assumption that the better the cover, the better the book. Since a writer wrote the book, and a designer came up with the cover, I’m baffled at this logic. I’ve had a review downgraded because of the cover. And yet, it wasn’t my choice at all. I pushed like mad for the standard man/woman romance cover. Nope. Not happening. I went with the limited choice the publisher offered. To me, it screamed cookery book. I even said so. In an email. All in black-and-white about how the cover was not right. Ah, the irony, when a year later, the same publisher told me that the cover wasn’t working…
This book has had three covers so far. And a few more before that first one. The original was of a pseudo-Barbie, her eyes popping out of her head as she rested a chocolate bar on her lips. The next was bright blue. I liked that one. The publisher said no (even though her designer had offered it up). The next one I can’t remember, and by then, I realised any semblance of a romance novel cover would NOT be happening. As I held up copies of that novel with its gummy-toothed, lecherous smile at a cupcake (a cupcake for chrissake), I wanted to cry. Where was my hunky hero? Nowhere. He’d been replaced by a baked good.
The second I got my rights back, I yanked that cover, plonking a stop gap in its place. A pink one. A way too pink one. But it didn’t look like a recipe book. Or a tampon ad (another story from a fellow writer).
Maybe this one is destined to have a new cover every year? Dusting off each jacket with each new Spring?
So, as I watched Westeros’s Magnificent Seven venture forth beyond the wall to engage in possibly the stupidest plan ever, I felt a growing pang of horror. If anything happens to Tormund out there, who else would be as perfect a partner for Brienne? Jaime? Of course not. If ever a couple were more ideally suited it’s the northern wildling and the warrioress from the Sapphire Isle. She believes herself to be ugly, big, unattractive to all men. And what does he see? Only the most frigging awesome woman who can smack a man to knees, hold her head high with the best of Westeros’ knights, and rock that armour plating. If ever there were a reason to believe in love, in magic, in destiny, it’s this fledgling pair-up. That was my concern as they headed out into certain death. That Brienne would have no man worthy of her, but be destined to trudge around with Pod forever and a day. And, ohno, there’s Ser Jorah out there too. WTH? Don’t get me started on that one. Doomed to be forever friends with his beloved Khaleesi, will she ever see just how much this man worships her? Or will he survive grayscale only to be hacked to bits by an undead random? Just…no.
Sorry, it’s too much for me to handle. Part of me is wondering if my GOT journey has to end right here, season seven episode six. I simply can’t handle the stress. HEAs are not exactly abounding in this particular series. But what if they could?
And let’s face it, HEAs could happen. One thing for GOT – plenty of potential romantic heroes. Can you imagine Khal Drogo on the cover, gazing moodily out into the distance under the banner ‘The Dothraki Horse Lord and his Stormborn wench’? (Here’s a picture, in case you need help with the visualisation), an erotic tale of bondage and domination.
Or what about ‘The King’s bastard’ about Gendry who finds love with the girl who’s no-one? A historical romance of forbidden love. Maybe even a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – the Hound and Sansa Stark?
So many options, when you come to think of it: You’ve got the wounded hero, Jaime Lannister. The young apprentice turned hero, Jon Snow. The everyman wiseman, Ser Davos, looking for a third or fourth chance. The abandoned sell-sword, Darius, who gave up everything for beauty.
The clever dwarf, Tyrion Lannister who would kill for love. What about a contemporary romance with Loras Tyrell as a F1 racing driver who meets Renly Baratheon, crown prince of a small principality? Or a paranormal with the Red Woman and the Night King – a fire and ice combo, if ever there were – as they join together to restore balance to the world?
But, seriously, there best be some sort of something happy with Tormund and Brienne. Really.
Once upon a time, I sucked at ice skating. Wait, hang on - I still do. Spending most of my time watching rather than skating, I bore witness to a number of teenage and tweenage angsts. Beanie Boy is the result.