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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save the date

ROSACon2014

 

It’s official! The first-ever Romance Writers of South Africa national conference will be held 25-26 October in Johannesburg! The inimitable Romy Sommer and Elsa Winckler are just two of the amazing South African authors who’ll be in attendance, and we’ve already booked Tristan Banha from The Juice Box to tell us how to maximize our authorial social media (which I desperately need to know). It should be a fun, informative couple of days as well as a rare chance to unite the South African romance community.

Click the image above for the official announcement, and watch this space!

#ROSACon2014

Just a day after registration opened for RWA ’14 in San Antonio – and which I considered trying to attend for about five minutes before realizing how many books I’d have to sell to cover the entry fee alone – I am kind of ridiculously excited to share that the inaugural ROSA Conference will be held in Johannesburg in September!

http://saromancewriters.blogspot.com/2014/01/announcing-rosa-conference.html

Every year I watch enviously as Twitter fills with people at the RWA and RT conventions in the US. And while it’s still a little unlikely that Nora Roberts will be heading down to Jozi for ROSA Con, but I’m still super psyched to have the opportunity to network with South African readers, writers, bloggers and reviewers.

I’ll post more details in due course, but in the meantime I want to offer a hearty sanibona to anyone interested in attending! You won’t get shot, I promise.

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!

guest post – Kathy Bosman

I’m so excited to welcome South African author Kathy Bosman to the blog today – and be sure not to miss her great giveaway at the bottom of the page!

Today is my first stop for my first ever proper blog tour. I’m giving away a $10 Amazon voucher and five swag bags for the whole tour. I’m going to be posting a different slant to my book every post so it’s not going to be boring. We’re going to have fun. If you want to enter the giveaway, go to the Rafflecoptertable at the bottom of the page.

Dragonfly Moments was published with Decadent Publishing in May this year. The book was first written in 2010 (then called Tessa’s Choice) and was so different to what it is now. By the time it reached publishing stage, I’d learned so much about writing after having worked with editors in my previous books and with the wonderful Decadent editor. I have a sludge pile on my computer of books I wrote but have never published. Of course I never will – shudder, shudder. You could call those my study courses because really every bit of writing is learning. Tessa’s Choice kept on calling me though. I couldn’t ignore the story of a love from long ago coming back into Tessa’s life so I rewrote the book.

Tessa had a serious crush on her best friend’s boyfriend when she was just out of school. They had a friendship but nothing more. She loved him so much that she sent him a letter after she moved to college professing her undying love for him.

Little does she realise how much that letter opens up feelings Ryan had ignored towards Tessa. He keeps the letter but only contacts her seven years later when she’s opened up her own art gallery in Nelson Mandela Square.

Ryan is disappointed to discover that Tessa is already in a serious relationship. He doesn’t know how obsessed she’s become in starting her own family. But her relationship starts to crumble and Ryan helps her with her art and business. He’s just the friend she needs at the moment but can she risk her life dreams to allow her heart to love him again?

“You’re making a mistake, Ryan. Coming in here and trying to bring up the past. It’s too late now. I’m committed to Mark and have found a life for myself. You never wanted me then. You loved Annie.”

“I didn’t love her. I loved you. And you promised forever….”

His voice was resigned, and then he winked at her as if to dispel the tension. It did no such thing.

The letter at the back of the sketch had promised she would love him forever, hadn’t it? She had believed she would never love anyone as much as Ryan and that he showed her what true love was.

“You never loveDragonfly-Moments300x450-1d me.” She dropped her gaze onto her lap. “We were just good friends.”

Pushing up her chin to pretend that her heart wasn’t zinging with emotion, she started to walk toward the one wall to adjust a painting. He grabbed her hand. She tried to pull away, but he firmly pulled her close.

Heat and energy radiated off him and his manly scent encompassed her. Even his breath was a sweetness she wanted to drink in. She took in the shape of his face, his mouth which drooped slightly to the left, his skewed jaw line and the prominent cheek bones. His eyebrows were dark and perfectly shaped, and he had such long eyelashes. Yanking her burning hand away, she made sure her back was facing him.

“I was blind to the true treasure. All the time when I was going out with Annie, I really wanted you, but I couldn’t do that to her—dump her for her best friend. I’ve loved you for years, Tess. I’ve been trying to find you. No other woman has measured up, and I’ve had several relationships. And you’ve become so beautiful.”

She faced him, her mouth partially open, devoid of words. He’d loved her? Why didn’t he tell her then before it was too late?

His gaze followed her from head to foot, and heat branded her face while a spark ignited her body.

“But I wasn’t then. You thought I was ugly. You must have because Annie was so beautiful and you never looked at me.”

“I did. Besides the kohl and black clothes, you were adorable, especially in your pajamas.”

Tessa wasn’t usually one to blush easily, but fire lapped up her whole face and neck. “But the way you used to look at Annie. She had the most stunning legs. Long and muscular.”

Ryan smiled. “You have better legs than Annie.”

She pulled back. For a moment, he had her in a trance. Maybe she should leave Mark and pursue this. Jump right in. No, of course not. Who was Ryan now, anyway? She hardly knew him. He could disappear again. Mark cared for her and he was the perfect match to build a family. That’s all she needed.

Dragonfly Moments is available now from Decadent Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, ARe, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Kathy loved reading and writing from early childhood, but her dream to write books was put aside until her kids were small, and she had little mental stimulation. The writing became a passion as well as her love for romance. She hasn’t looked back since writing her first romance novel in 2007. She homeschools her three children so in between deciphering algebraic problems for her teenage son (with little success), conducting science experiments, and tackling piles of laundry and dishes, she miraculously finds time to write books and read many others for fun.

Connect with Kathy Bosman online at her website, Facebook page or Twitter.

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway

guest post – Zee Monodee

Since I’m caught up in the endless admin that surrounds an intercontinental move, I’m excited to welcome Zee Monodee to the blog with a stunning excerpt from her latest release, The Other Side!

Set in Mauritius, The Other Side is the first book in the Island Girls Trilogy and follows Lara Reddy on a rocky journey back to her parents’ culture-driven homeland after divorce brings her life in London to a screeching halt.

Once she’s back in the place she fled a decade earlier, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking…and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.

Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again? The Other Side is a sultry, sensual romance available now from Decadent Publishing and Amazon, and as one of Africa’s most recent transplants I’m delighted to be able to share this excerpt:

The-Other-SideEric Marivaux stood in the office of his private practice, staring out of the window at nothing in particular. The Grand Baie summer sun beat down on the pane and licked at his skin, burning him with the rays that passed through the glass, but he paid the physical sensations no heed. All his focus lay on his memories, especially of the encounter he’d had with Lara earlier.

Lara, whom he’d loved and lost so many years ago.

How did meeting her again make him feel? He didn’t have a clue, and this uncertainty rattled him beyond the pale. A part of him didn’t dare browse his feelings for the full effect this meeting with her had had on him. But he couldn’t hide, and the sooner he faced the truth, the easier it should be for him to keep on moving forward. At least, he hoped.

He didn’t want her back. Not in his proximity, not in the same place, not on the same soil. The more distance between them, the better. He’d had to work so hard toward finally accepting such a reality, so why had fate chosen that precise moment to put her back onto his path?

He ran a hand in his hair, letting his fingers work at untangling the knots. He should cut the long locks, but damn if he found the time.

Why now? He’d recently reconciled to the idea none of his relationships would work out, because she was the only woman he’d ever love. Peace with that notion had come hard. If he hoped to settle down someday, he’d do so for convenience and companionship, but never for love. It took one face-to-face meeting with her to send his certitude spinning like a crazy top.

No, she shouldn’t be here. He had no desire to see her and be reminded of what he’d let go. He’d wanted to run when upon recognizing her earlier. Run as fast as his legs could carry him. Run away from the hurt and the anger that inevitably crept into his whole being and consumed him completely whenever he even thought of her.

Yet, he hadn’t been able to resist. One glance at her, and he’d been a goner. Again. So he’d given in, and revelled in those short but sweet moments they’d shared. She’d felt so good in his arms—

He sighed and ran his hand over his face again in a gesture fraught with weariness and frustration. Lara. He’d stumbled aback when he recognized her. She’d changed in the past twelve years, since the last time he’d seen her.

She was a woman and not a skinny seventeen-year-old anymore. The long hair had also tricked him. The straight black locks framed the sides of her face, whereas in the past, she used to draw it into a high ponytail that bounced with her every step. He loved to tug on her long hair, which would annoy her so much, and when she frowned and narrowed her gaze at him, he would swoop in and steal a kiss. After which she would smile. Reluctantly, but she’d smile nevertheless.

Why was she back? He had returned to Mauritius because she wouldn’t be there. Her life was in London. What was she doing here? He prayed she was on vacation.

He closed his eyes and let his head touch the surface of the window. The glass felt hot against his skin. As drained as he felt, he couldn’t bother with a possible burn to his sun-sensitive skin. Meeting her again had shaken him up. More so, because he couldn’t bear to see her and know she belonged to another man now. To that darkly handsome husband of hers, who, he’d been loath to admit, resembled Tom Cruise, Lara’s teenage crush. The guy also had brains, since he was some hotshot actuary or something, working in investment. And Lara had seemed happy with him. He remembered the joyous expression on her face when he’d seen them once on Piccadilly Circus in London.

That day, he’d known for good she was lost to him, stupid fool he was. He’d been an idiot to leave so abruptly for France all those years ago, his relationship with her hanging as unfinished business.

But it had all been a long time ago. A different lifetime, even. He forced his eyes open, and rubbed the nape of his neck as he peeled himself from the window and stepped closer to his desk. No use pondering the past, especially one that had not gone as planned.

Would they have worked out, the two of them? He’d never know. Better this way.

guest post – Romy Sommer

Whilst preparing for my ever-nearing move to South Africa, I stumbled upon ROSA, a local community of romance authors. The warm welcome and unfailing support I’ve gotten from this bunch has already been staggering, and one of the best introductions to my new home I could’ve hoped for. Today I’m delighted to welcome Romy Sommer, a ROSA member and one of the newest names at Harper Impulse, to the blog!

On the Yahoo loop for South African romance writers, we recently had a discussion about choosing settings for books – do we set our books in places we know, or do we set them in exotic locales we’ve only researched?

I’m definitely in the latter group, because (for me, at least) where I live isn’t that exciting.

Part of the fun of writing is getting to research these exotic locations, and I think I’d feel cheated if I didn’t get to spend hours of internet time surfing for pictures of Caribbean islands, visiting tourism blogs, or scrolling through maps of places I’ve never been.

Waking up in Vegas starts in Vegas (where I’ve never been) and ends up in a fictional European nation that I’ve certainly never been to (because it doesn’t exist).

My 1920s novellas, published under the name Rae Summers, also require large amounts of research and even larger leaps of imagination, even though two have been set in places I’ve actually visited. Because let’s face it, things were different back then!

For me, the trick to writing about a place you’ve never been is to research, research, research. And not just the usual touristy spots and websites that only show one side of the place, but read blogs of people who live in those places and talk to people who’ve been there.

ImageWith Vegas I got lucky – one of my CPs got married there, and one of my work colleagues spent a raucous boys’ week there (guess who was the most help with finding outrageous stuff to do, and who could tell me what the inside of a Vegas hotel room looked like!) And another writing friend had an engineer hubby who’d worked on constructing Vegas hotels and could tell me exactly how far the windows could open!

But it was in writing the second half of Waking up in Vegas that I had the most fun.

ImageIn creating my own fictional nation of Westerwald, getting the details right mattered much less, and the setting could serve the story rather than the other way around. Since the place exists entirely in my own head, I didn’t have to worry about practicalities like building safety regulations and how far the windows could open!

My preparation for writing this book included creating a rough map of Westerwald, putting together photo albums, and even wrote a history for the little nation. While almost none of that made it into the final novel, it gave me a much clearer picture of the setting and I hope provides the story with a much richer backdrop.

Please read the novel and let me know if I succeeded! Do the settings in Waking up in Vegas work for you? Or have you been to Vegas, and did I get it abysmally wrong?

ImageAnd if you’ve read the book and wish you could visit Westerwald … you can! My fictional nation is based on the Rhine River area in Germany.

I love hearing from readers, and if you’re a writer please tell me: do you set your stories in places you know – or in places you wish you knew?

ImageWhat happens in Vegas…

Waking up to the bright lights of Vegas in an unfamiliar penthouse suite, cocktail waitress Phoenix Montgomery finds she’s covered from head to foot in gold glitter and not alone – aside from the empty bottle of champagne, there’s a mystery man in the shower and a huge sparkly ring on her finger!

Stays in Vegas?

There’s no denying Max Waldburg’s demi-god sex appeal but commitment-phobic Phoenix doesn’t do relationships. Only it seems her new husband (agh!) has other ideas…he’s trying to keep that ring on her finger and his wife firmly back in his bed. The only question on her lips is – why? Or maybe, why not?

Waking up in Vegas is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iTunes

You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook or on her blog.