shoes, ships, ceiling wax

Oh dear, I’ve taken my time updating this poor old blog, hey? Well, there’s plenty to discuss today, so let’s get on with it!

#ROSACon2014

This past weekend was the inaugural South African romance writers’ conference, nicknamed ROSACon, held over a day in a half in Johannesburg. I think all of the attendees would agree it was a complete success! (Full disclosure: I was on the organizing committee.)

ROSACon2014 audience

Rapt audience at #ROSACon2014

We had about 30 delegates, and the activities ranged from Skype pitches to editors at Mills & Boon and Harper Impulse, to a first-page critique session by a panel of authors, to a fabulous talk on category romance writing from our local celebrity Joss Wood. Other than the massive highveld storm during Saturday night’s gala dinner, the weekend went without a hitch and it was a fantastic opportunity not only to meet so much of the South African romance writing community, but to be energized and enlightened by a variety of experts on a whole range of writing-related topics. On that note…

Facebook

Having learned during Tristan Banha‘s social media talk at #ROSACon2014 that Facebook is the most popular and fastest-growing social media outlet in South Africa, I’ve created my very own Facebook fan page: facebook.com/rebeccacrowleywrites Will I be better at updating it than this blog? Doubtful! But in the meantime feel free to cruise on over and check out the gorgeous banner the Samhain marketing team made for my next release. Which brings me to…

The Homefront Trilogy

This set of military-themed novellas is steaming ahead! I’m currently working on edits for the third installation (Thunder Running) and have just posted the cover for the second book (Alive Day) on the Books page. Meanwhile, tomorrow is release day for Homefront #1, Boots on the Ground!

Boots on the Ground

Sexy Sergeant Grady Reid and his erstwhile heroine Laurel Hayes are already garnering some lovely reviews, most notably from USA Today, Desere at Romance Book Haven and Nanee from Up All Night. If you haven’t already pre-ordered, you can one-click your copy tomorrow wherever ebooks are sold.

Last But Not Least

In case you didn’t spot my subtle announcement on Contemporary Romance Cafe (cleverly tucked in after the gratuitous photo of Jensen Ackles), the biggest news of all is that Baby Crowley will be having his or her own release day somewhere in between Alive Day and Thunder Running (March 3rd, to be precise). The good news is there’s no need to book a blog tour or organize a release-day blitz. The bad news, well… 😉

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game, set, match!

It’s April 14th, which means two things: only one day left for US citizens to file their taxes, and release day for LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS! Its release is part of Carina Press’s Sports Week, spotlighting sexy athletes and the men and women who love them.

Love in Straight SetsIn addition to being in Kansas on vacation – where the state has kindly decided to make up for nine months of tropical South Africa by going through three seasons in four days, topping it off with a dusting of snow this morning – I’m all over the web like a zombie plague.

You can win stuff by commenting at Give Me Books and Fresh Fiction and later today at RT, and you can read an excerpt at the Contemporary Romance Cafe.

If you want to see whether this one’s worth the money, there have been some great reviews from the Dirty Girls and my personal intellectual hero, Jackie Horne from Romance Novels for Feminists.

That’s it for now, but watch this space for even more surprise appearances from my tempestuous tennis player Regan and her sexy Zimbabwean super coach!

twenty thirteen

2013 was probably one of my biggest years yet. Twelve months ago I was unmarried, unpublished, and living in London. Today I’m officially a wife, I have two books out, and am a denizen of Johannesburg. All a bit topsy-turvy to say the least!

As such there’s rather too much to encapsulate in one end-of-year blog post, so I’ll focus on the three lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a published romance author. Because who doesn’t love a list?

1. Opinions are like… By far the hardest, yet probably most important lesson I’ve taken from my nascent descent into the murky publishing waters is that books are subjective. What some readers love, others hate, and neither one is a reflection on the inherent value of the work. Reviews are tough to read and impossible to reconcile, so all us writers can do is acknowledge what resonates and ignore what doesn’t… and then move on to Lesson #3.

2. No writer is an island. Until March or April this year, I’d always written in complete isolation. No one was allowed to read anything I was working on, I didn’t discuss my submissions or WIPs with anyone, in fact only a very few close friends had any idea I wrote at all. Then, in anticipation of the move to Jozi, on a whim I Googled to see whether there was a South African equivalent to RWA or similar. Enter the ROSAs! This fabulous community has been an unparalleled resource in my pre- and post-publication journey, from everything to technical expertise about royalty payments to unabashed vent sessions. I’ve learned so much – and am still learning – from this superb collection of writers, but more than anything they’ve taught me the importance of reaching out rather than struggling along on one’s own. They are, in fact, the best, and I’m super excited for the big stuff these ladies have planned for 2014.

3. Keep writing. Reviews stress me out, promo makes my head spin, and I’ll never win a thing because I wouldn’t know which contests to enter if they collapsed at my feet. But writing is a compulsion. I don’t care how little it earns per hour when you break everything down, or what sacrifices it demands, or how frustrating it can be, or whether or not anyone reads a word I produce. It’s my creative outlet, and I love it. I love my characters, I love their trials and triumphs, and I love when it all comes together in the end. No matter what other noise drones around publishing and the romance genre, the most important is just to keep writing.

And that brings us to 2014! I have some more acquisition news to share soon (yay!) but in the meantime, my office is closed until Monday and a lightning strike has knocked out our cable so our TV doesn’t work. I have a WIP to work on and edits to return…so I’ve watched eight episodes of Supernatural in two days. Begin as you mean to go on, right?

Happy New Year faithful readers, and may this one be even better than the last!

red-letter day

Okay, maybe more like pink.

My plan for today’s post was to share the two places you can find me and HERO’S HOMECOMING today – and I’ll still do that. But first I want to share the unbelievably exciting news that Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books not only reviewed HERO’S HOMECOMING, she didn’t hate it! I saw the review on Twitter and inevitably my crappy African internet service chose that moment to crash out, but after several tense minutes of refreshing and watching the little loading circle swirl around and around, the grade appeared in a big pink font:

B+!

So without further ado, let me direct you to the best B+ I have EVER gotten.

PHEW! Breathing, breathing, still breathing. If you’d like to read an excerpt from the B+-receiving novella, I’m sharing one over at the Contemporary Romance Cafe. And if you want to hear the story of the B+-receiving novella’s composition during last year’s NaNoWriMo, the fabulous PJ Schnyder has kindly hosted me at her blog.

Exciting times, faithful readers!

facing my critics

I’ve always been an academic overachiever, and until The Striker’s Chance released a little over two weeks ago I would’ve taken a B and a B- very, very badly. But when they’re given by romance-reviewing powerhouses Smexy Books and Dear Author, those letters make me giddy!

From Mandi at Smexy Books: “When they do finally make it to the bedroom it made sense and didn’t feel rushed. They have good chemistry together as Holly really gets to know the real Kepler. I like this author’s voice. Looking forward to more.”

(I also made it into Mandi’s USA Today column!)

From Jayne at Dear Author: “I love the transition for Kepler from last chance, to team leader, to inspiration for kids. I can see him settling into his new leadership roles and the maturation that follows. His love for the game and determination to play his best shines through.”

Amidst the pre-wedding chaos on the work and home fronts, it’s indescribably awesome to see my characters resonating with readers and garnering the (qualified!) accolades they totally deserve. Plus each review shows me ways to improve as a writer and illuminates facets of my story I never thought about, so selfishly I love to see them rolling in, good, bad, and otherwise!

jozi: one month on

Today marks four weeks since I left the UK and the time has absolutely flown. I still feel as green as a new shoot as I navigate my new country of residence, but I’m slowly getting to grips with the commute, the vocabulary, and the way of life down here at the bottom of a continent.

Every day it seems I make a mental note to pass on one or other funny expat observation and then utterly fail to do so, so I’ll try to encapsulate a few of my favorites.

–       This may be a side effect of living without a television for six years in the UK, but our new house came with a satellite subscription and 200+ channels of pure awesome. We get TLC from the US, BBC from the UK, and selectively-bought series from HBO and Showtime like True Blood and Ray Donovan. The airing schedule is a couple of weeks behind the US, but who cares? I can finally watch Eric Northman in flat-screen HD glory rather than a fuzzy download from a Chinese website!

–       Joburg natives are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet… until they get in their cars. I’m losing track of how many social events we’ve been invited to by people we barely know (including the woman who completed the insurance survey and suggested we go out with her friends about five minutes after we opened the front door). In the shops and on the streets people smile and joke and look you in the eye and apologize if they bump into you. But if you need someone to let you into a lane during rush hour? Forget it! Even though very little seems to start on time here, every driver seems to be in an urgent hurry and is unafraid of using the horn to let you know. I still find it hard not to get stressed by the impatience of other drivers, but I’m gradually learning to attribute it to ubiquitous haste and not a reflection on my driving abilities. Check back in three months when I’m bitching about slow drivers hogging the fast lane!

–       Living in an upscale neighborhood, going to nice restaurants and a brand-new gym, and mingling almost exclusively with fellow high-achieving professionals in what is arguably Africa’s most developed city makes it easy to forget that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. I’ve never been comfortable with the humiliating spectacle X-Factor and American Idol make of poorly auditioning contestants (to quote Extras, “we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multi-millionaires”), but Idols SA – the local incarnation of the franchise – brings a new severity. In the US we laugh at fat contestants with no self-awareness, in the UK we laugh at immigrant contestants singing in broken English, and in Idols SA we laugh even when the contestant’s hometown displayed on the bottom of the screen reveals they’re from an incredibly deprived, crime-ridden, opportunity-barren township. Yeah, maybe they suck at singing, but there’s something pretty sinister about people tucked cozily in front of their TVs ridiculing someone who may very well be headed home to sleep on a packed-dirt floor.

–       Yesterday I saw a city bus that pretty much summed up my experience thus far. The digital readout on the front of the bus, meant to display the destination, instead repeated in scrolling neon: “??????????????” And after four weeks in Joburg, that’s how I feel most of the time – not really sure where I’m going, but happily strapping in for a wild ride.

In non-expat news, it’s less than two weeks until The Striker’s Chance releases from Carina Press! It’s already gotten its first review and I couldn’t be more chuffed. I’ve added pre-order links for ARe and Barnes & Noble so feel free to buy multiple copies for multiple devices. 😉 I’ve got a lot of guest posts all around the blogosphere in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled!