And the big news today is:

emerald pro 2019 finalists

The Emerald Pro is one of the premier awards for Romance Writers of Australia. It is awarded for an unpublished work by a published author writing in a new sub-genre. So each of the entrants has tried out a new style. Perhaps an author usually writes fantasy and they’ve tried something different like historical, or contemporary or paranormal, or the other way around. You get my drift.

The winner will be announced at a Gala Dinner held in conjunction with the annual conference in Melbourne in August. Whatever the outcome, I’m chuffed to be on this list.

It takes a lot of effort organising competitions such as this and RWAus does it magnificently, relying on volunteers like Tracey Rosen who was the curator for this comp in 2019; volunteer judges who offer insightful feedback over two rounds, and the final judge who is an industry professional.  Huge thanks to everyone involved. It’s an awesome program, especially for those of us new to the discipline of writing romantic fiction.

When did I first want to write romance?

It’s seems ridiculous to state the obvious, but I’ve loved writing since childhood. I truly enjoyed daydreaming ideas and then turning them into stories. Like so many of my generation, earning a living had to come first and there was no guarantee that writing fictional stories could do that for me.

Still, I had the dream.

I was doing a post-NaNoWriMo cleanout over the weekend and came across this article I had saved from the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1993IMG_2438 written by Valerie Parv , an icon of Australian Romance writing.  Most of the content is relevant today, except maybe the tips on presentation for when you want to send off your manuscript. Some younger writers might not know the meaning of : “Use a clean ribbon or good quality printer typeface – not dot matrix.”

It was a balanced piece that pointed to the delights and how-tos of writing in the genre but it also warned that achieving publication was, statistically, not a likelihood. So, at once, I could imagine myself as a writer – yes, I can do this –  but then, just as effectively, it told me to stick to my day job if I wanted to contribute to the family finances.

The article appeared at a time in my life when I wanted to lose myself in writing romance, but it was also the time when I was slap-bang in the middle of research and writing for my PhD, an imperative for career advancement as an academic. The PhD was awarded not many years later but the romance writing was left on hold.

It was another twenty years before I took the risk to write romance and that was for my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month.

That story eventually became “Happy with the Millionaire” which was published in October.

I’m pleased to say that @ValerieParv is still providing encouragement for people stepping up to write romance. She warmly offers advice, counsel and mentoring.

To add my tuppence worth: If you want to write, don’t wait. Do it now, even if you have to make time to do it; find a good editor who will be blunt about what needs to be changed or improved; then go out and pitch the story especially when there are twitter pitch events happening. If the story is a good one, it will find a home.  If you want more direct control, then publish it yourself.

Keep writing.

Dreaming of the interactive novel

I don’t usually share things as mundane as dreams but the one last night was … interesting.

In the dream, I held a tablet in hand preparing to read  an interactive novel in my preferred writing genre of contemporary romance. There was a choice of about 20 starting points set out in icons. I tapped on one and read the first scene. Up popped the icon screen again for me to choose which path the story should take. I randomly selected the next scene. With that scene done, the choice screen reappeared. At this point, the dreaming me shoved the tablet to one side declaring that an interactive novel was a boring way to read a story!

The dream agitated me into wakefulness and I had to jump out of bed and walk around the room for several minutes to slough off my irritation before climbing back under the covers.

The waking me has pondered this all day. I have no experience of interactive novels beyond those written for children and I have shared a couple of those with my grandson who delighted in  the opportunity to experience so many different options. But I have never read one targeting an adult audience so I cannot fathom why the dreaming me was so judgmental!

My apologies to all those wonderfully creative authors who can follow the same story down so many different paths and still make sense. I won’t rule out ever reading an interactive romance novel but I think I’ll just hit the second icon from the top until my version of the story runs its course.