Friday, October 28, 2011

Romance...the most maligned genre

Why is romance such a popular genre....this is a question that has occupied many a mind over the centuries.

In the Georgian and Victorian eras husbands exhorted wives not to allow their daughters to fill their minds with trashy romance novels. Why?

Girls were paraded through the Marriage Marts of the day and marriages were arranged for them, for many reasons. Land. Money. To form or strengthen alliances between families. Or,  in the case of the Aristocracy, countries.
And while some fathers would take their daughter's feelings into consideration....to many men, such sentiments were irrelevant.   Heaven forbid any girl should entertain the notion that she could actually marry a man and expect happiness. This lay behind mothers counselling their daughters before they married, when their husbands demanded intimacy, to lie back and think of England.      

This prejudice, although it has abated somewhat during the century just past, continues to be levelled at the romance genre. It's okay  for men to read mysteries, thrillers, westerns and other popular fiction but when a woman picks up a romance for sheer, escapist pleasure it is frowned on as being trash.

I went into a book store recently and asked where they placed their selection of popular category romance and was subjected to a lecture. Such trashy fiction was a waste of valuable shop shelf space.

Excuse me?  As a reader and writer of such "trash" I was taken aback to say the least.

Today I visited my terminally ill brother in law and during the week had a scare with my daughter being hospitalised after a suspected stroke... and I realised why I love reading and writing romance.

Because, first and last in life, it's family that matters.  And the romance genre is all about reaffirming and  celebrating family values. I really enjoy reading how love and commitment  triumphs over adversity.    

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rugby World Cup

What a thrilling nail biting finale to the Rugby World Cup. There was dead silence in our lounge during those last tense ten minutes when one mistake could have cost us so dearly.  But our boys in Black did New Zealand proud.    They beat the French 8-7. Go the mighty All Blacks!!!!!

In case you're wondering no I'm not a sports fanatic but I'm sure no one in this country wasn't aware we were a nation caught up in rugby fever. For the past forty five days we could push to one side the tragedies of the past twelve months....the devastating Canterbury earthquakes, the tragedy of  Pike River and the wreck of the Rena that has caused such havoc to our coasts.... and relax and enjoy the rugby.

All the problems still lie in wait for us.... the men of Pike River have yet to be brought home for their families... the massive rebuild of Christchurch still has to be accomplished and the Rena still lies wrecked on the Astrolabe Reef and we now have to face a general election and a financial crisis.... but for a few blissful days we pushed all that aside and enjoyed a fantastic spectacle.  And seeing Richie McCaw lift the Webb Ellis Trohpy lifted the spirits of this weary nation.

The hosting of the World Cup put New Zealand on the world stage for all the right reasons. And The Chairman of the IRB summed it up in one sentence. We, this small nation of 4 million people, have set the bar by which all future World Cups will be judged.

The the finest accolade of all.  Well done  New Zealand.  I am so very proud to be a New Zealander.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exciting news

All excited this week to have submitted two requested manuscripts to two publishers so now its a waiting game....but at least my work is out there.

It's a strange business Publishing....so much effort goes in to producing the work and yet once a book leaves your hands your position as an author change. You, the author, go from having total control  to the position of handing control over to an objective third party.

And that third part judges your work by a whole different criteria.

An exciting and different phase for me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Voices Competition- Chapter Two up now

After failing to final in M&B New Voices contest I've put the second chapter up on my blog.

So many people have asked to read on so it's there for everyone to enjoy.

And please feel free to leave comments.

Shirley

Disaster Strikes Our Shores- The Rena how Did It Happen!

I usually steer clear of contentious issues here but The Rena disaster is far too close to home for me.

This is our beach, right at our back door...a place that holds so many of my dearest memories.

My family have spent so many happy hours on the wide sandy beaches of the Bay Of Plenty. In summer after milking we'd go off to the beach for a barbecue and picnic and when the dark came roast marshmallows over the charcoals before packing up five sandy tired kids and heading home.

They were happy carefree days. Even now my husband and I go out to Waihi Beach at least twice most weeks summer and winter and walk on the beach....it's wonderful release from everyday tensions.

To see it now littered with containers of cargo, oil and debris and police cordons keeping everyone off the beach breaks my heart. And leaves me and everyone else with one question.....How could such a disaster happen in this day and age.

And a one word summary......
SHAME.  SHAME on the captain and crew.....SHAME on the shipping line and their paltry apology....SHAME of the company who chartered the vessel and the way they absolve themselves of all and any responsibility.

We will recover....Kiwis love and own their beaches...and there's not one among us who won't do their bit to clean up this God-Awful mess.    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What we can learn from competitions

The M&B New Voices Competitions have closed with 1092 entries. Wow!
It never ceases to amaze me just how many people have a yen to become published writers! And I recalled that infamous quote from Oscar Wilde....There's a book in every one of us...and that's where 99.9% should stay!    As a reader am I ever glad that so many authors ignored his cynical advice.

I set myself a task of trying to read all the first chapter entries...but I fell abysmally short.  This competition hammered home to me the importance of your opening paragraphs. Just reading the entries was an education in itself. And in trying to read all the entries I now have a far greater insight in an editor's lot.

How do they not reach overload?  As I read through entry after entry I found myself becoming more and more critical so by the time I'd read about 400 entires by paragraph three I had decided if I wanted to read on or not.  In many entries it was all back story....that is what happened up until the moment the story started.
In others, punctuation was almost absent...it's very difficult for a reader to get into a story when you have to mentally punctuate writing before it makes sense.

Don't get me wrong there were some fantastic entries....and to me this is where a competition like this sucks. Big Time.  You get swept up in a really good entry  and you want to keep reading to see what happens next and.......waaaahhhh you reach the end of chapter one.

The other big surprise for me was actually how much of the craft of writing I've learned. I kept shaking my head.....saying basic error...basic error... So I really did try to leave constructive feedback where I could.

It is the first time I've ever entered a competition like this and it was truly an amazing learning curve. The feedback from readers was great. There are always the negative ones but sometimes they can be the spur a writer needs....but the ones who annoyed me were the nit pickers....especially one commenter who had the arrogance to call herself the grammar police.

I've always maintained grammar can be fixed.....but that wonderful inspirational creative voice is a gift from heaven and should be both treasured and nurtured.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Voices Competition

For the first time I've entered Mills & Boon new voices competition. An interesting exercise on two fronts.

There are some truly fascinating entries by some very talented writers on the romance is not dead site. Readers are encouraged to leave comments and evaluate out of 100%. And the comments themselves are a fascinating insight into how writers evaluate other writers.

There are the people who offer insightful and valuable analysis to assist an obviously new writer and then there are the other ones who nitpick....one even going so far as to provide a half page list of every grammatical error... and yet another who commented that one writer's effort was chunder-bucket worthy.
Ouch!    Even more so when I read that critical commenter's entry...it was a clever expose of language with no emotion or heart. The entry she was so critical of was a fantastic effort that brought tears to my eyes. 

To me this is so unkind and unnecessary and neither helpful or encouraging. It's always been my policy when leaving comments to look for the positives and make positive helpful comments. You can always get editorial assistance to fix up the nuts and bolts of grammar ...it's a hell of a lot harder to inject heart into glib, superficial writing.     

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Experiencing The Thrill...and The Sorrow

Once some one asked me what I loved most....my reply is invariably family, reading, gardening,reading, writing reading oh and just in case you didn't get it reading. Today I really appreciate being able to say I've enjoyed what to me is a timeless thrill...a good read.


Never has this been more poignant and underscored as I watched my younger brother struggling to make himself understood. He is twelve months past a massive stroke....and like every member in our family he was an avid reader...now he can't read or understand a word. 


But we should and do rejoice....he is alive and not too physically impaired...and every time we see him we see a noticeable improvement in his speech...and his comprehension is improving. We live in hope some of his former competency with the written word will return.  


So for me to be able to sit down and enjoy losing myself in a good book....is a blessing. And one I will never again take for granted.