Love, sexual abuse, and mental health are the main ingredients of the new book I’m currently working on. In my case, the love of the innocent that fuels survival, the abuse and disregard of some people who don’t hesitate to perpetrate crime on vulnerable people, and a mental health system that fails to deliver. Continue reading “Love, Sexual Abuse, and Mental Health”
More and more frequently you hear the phrase, sixty is the new forty. I guess that is supposed to be a compliment. At least it seems to say, that we look and behave younger than our parents or grandparents have at the same age.
Still, it means the point of reference is forty. Forty is cool, being like forty when you’re sixty, is a good thing. Having a skin like a forty-year-old is remarkable when you’re sixty. And so on. Although it’s quite nice if someone tells me I look nothing like my age, it gives me a bad taste in my mouth. I just don’t like the generous portion of ageism in that statement. Continue reading “Sixty is the New Forty?”
Ever since I’ve been through all the Pippi Longstockings, the Karl May books (a German-style Western for youngsters), and matured through the rest of our tiny island’s library, I’ve been reading romance novels. I devoured them all my life.
Until a few years ago. I got bored with the flawless, beautiful, size ten, gorgeous, fashionable and funkily dressed young heroine. Yes, I remember those times… not very well anymore, but yes, I’ve been there, done that, and got the stretch marks to prove it. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t relate to these young girls anymore. And I would like to identify with the heroines I’m reading about and get lost in their worlds before I contemplate what to cook for dinner tonight. Continue reading “Why Writing Romantic Fiction with Mature Characters”
So, the third book in my Golden Series is now available on pre-order. If you want to know how Claudia is getting on with a ten-year-old orphan she’s taken under her wings, make sure you get a copy of WHISPERS OF LOVE. After the 20th of November, the price will return back to ‘normal’.
Life is what happens while you’re making other plans…
Connor Anderson leads a charmed life and knows exactly where he’s going. Men want to be him, women want to be with him, and Hollywood simply wants him. When he crashes his car in the backwaters of New Zealand on his way to the location of his newest film, it’s just an inconvenience. Right? Continue reading “Whispers Of Love: Baby Boomers Don’t Give Up”
An article in the NYT caught my interest the other day. No, to be honest, it irked me like hell. As so often in the world of critics—hence not very original—the author Robert Gottlieb, had nothing better to do than comment in over 3000 words on the naivety or dare I say stupidity of romance readers (RR) and writers (RW) alike, even though we might be “squirming with desire”. Continue reading “The Romance Revolution”
When we find an old bottle with a message inside on the beach, we get immediately excited and expect at least a romantic love note if not a hint to sunken treasure. I remember as a child I waited for the postman, convinced he would bring a letter from a forgotten uncle in America, telling me I inherited a fortune. Needless to say, it never happened.
I want to talk about the other messages, those that cause heartache and pain for years on end. Messages we carry with us–sometimes from early childhood on–that cause deep scars and can get in the way of a happy, fulfilling life. They are often given through hurtful words and actions or through the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. They are emotionally crippling and can cause gazillions of problems. Continue reading “Message From Your Past”
Doesn’t it sound exciting, being an Advanced Reader? Until a few month ago I had no idea what that meant. Advanced Readers are people who get a FREE copy of a soon to be released novel and once they’ve read it, they give a review/feedback to the author.
So here I am looking for about ten people who would like to be part of my Advanced Reader group. If that is an interesting proposition for you,
I’d love you to put your name down HERE
As thanks, I’ll send everyone who puts her or his name down a signed paperback copy of my non-fiction book DELICIOUS MIND BODY AND SOUL, which is a combination of life-wisdom and healthy smoothies.
Just the other day a friend asked me what I am doing now, being retired, and having moved to Wellington. When I told her I’m writing romance novels, she said, “Romance Writer? Seriously? You? The Mills & Boons kind of stuff?”
Yip, I suppose, the Mills & Boons kind of stuff, if it means writing stories where it’s pretty obvious on page number two who’ll end up in their own Happy Ever After on page number 289. And even though it’s predictable, I love going for the ride and rejoice with the heroine and fall in love with the hero.
I used to be a psychotherapist—though on second thought, ‘used to be’ may not be quite right. Thirty years of identifying people’s behaviors, actions, thought patterns, language expressions, and body language, don’t stop because I’ve turned sixty-five and received a Gold Card.
My friend’s surprise said loud and clear, in her eyes I sank from the lofty heights of psychology into the mud-filled gutter of rubbish scribblers, who are unable to write real literary pieces worth reading, like Shakespeare or Dostojewski—did I miss one?
I know romance writers are looked down upon in general, and my friend affirmed that for me. But it got me thinking. Why is that? Why is writing about people starving for love, longing for the one person who understands them on a soul-level so frowned upon? I’ve got an idea! Bear with me for a brief psychology rendition. I promise to make it a short one.
I have a Ph.D. in Mental Health and Environmental Sciences. For my thesis design and analysis, I used recognition theory (RT), a critical social theory formulated by Axel Honneth. If you are interested in sociology, go and read up on it. It’s cool!
RT says human beings need recognition to be ‘healthy’ and function adequately in society. We get recognition through LOVE, RIGHTS, and SOLIDARITY. If any of these forms are absent, we struggle. We fight for recognition. Have been in the past, and will in the future. It’s in our nature.
LOVE provided by parents, partners, and other important persons. If we are not affirmed by love that our existence is important, we struggle.
RIGHTS granted through legal systems and structures in society. If legal systems don’t grant us rights to vote, equality, freedom, to name a few, we struggle.
SOLIDARITY through acknowledgment by our peers and community as someone who contributes something valuable. If our lifestyle or our work, are not appreciated, we struggle.
How does that relate to romance writing? Because recognition through Love is the most important one for all human functioning.
We romance writers provide that in spades. Romance stories guarantee a happy ending, the fulfilling of a dream, of a need we all have. The hero and heroines show us the way of overcoming obstacles to the magnificent outcome of everlasting love. We read the last line and know they will make it. It gives us hope – we might make it too, there could be love for us too.
That explains why romance is the most read genre currently. Why do other’s (critics) put it down? Maybe because they can’t do it. It might surprise you, but it’s damn hard to get a contract with Mills&Bohns. You have to be a really good writer!
Are romances realistic? Yes and No.
The latest count from 2016 showed there exist 1810 billionaires in the world. If we take our beloved romance writers by the word, they lurk at every corner. But please, don’t be so harsh and take that literally. It’s not meant to be. IT’S FICTION, PEOPLE!
Even though the stories, characters, and settings are idealized and rarely possible for the average Jill and Joe to reach, we all search for love, recognition, and a warm body to cuddle up to when we go to bed. We might even learn real valuable life skills we can use in our real life relationships. For example, Headboards are for handcuffs! Thank you, E.L. James.
I have a story in me that pushes to come out. It’s several stories (note the ambitious plural), but that’s beside the point. Pushing. Poking. It leaves me with the image of mud pools in Rotorua. Bubbling with gasses that force their way to the surface. I suppose you could say, it’s mental indigestion.
After years of academic writing and blogging about trauma recovery and other self-improvement issues, it should be easy! Right? How difficult could it be to write a story when the plot line is interesting?
Since then I am on a steep learning curve with light bulbs going off right, left, and centre. Will I ever get it? I don’t know. But I am going to give it my best shot.
Many years ago I learned how to make pots and my home and those of my kids and friends show ample signs of my pottery skills. I didn’t start by just sitting in front of a pottery wheel, throwing a piece of clay on it and…tataaa…ended up with a perfect pot. I had to apply myself and learn pottery skills and techniques; and with determination and practice, practice, practice, I ended up with (some) decent pots.
I didn’t know there is more to storytelling than just telling a story. I didn’t know there are techniques, skills, and processes involved that combined and applied well, will bring a story to life AND when ignored will sink a story like a battleship after a torpedo hit.
It all started with a friend telling me to cut down on ‘ly-words.’ – I know now these things are called adverbs. – I followed that advice, although I didn’t real(ly) understand why. I thought things were nice(ly) expressed, quick(ly) sorted, and tasted heaven(ly). Stephen King said in his book On Writing: A memoir on the craft
the road to hell is paved with adverbs
I see that now. It’s sloppy, lazy writing and indicates the writer has used a weak verb or failed to show in the surrounding prose what’s going on. There you have it! There are some great examples here.
I suppose that’s a good start. But don’t be fooled. It’s just the beginning. There is so much more: POV (point of view), that’s another huge mountain to climb for me. And I haven’t even started with hooks, pacing, turning points, pinch points, show and don’t tell, beats, and structure.
Oh, how much fun is there waiting for me – as it will be for every newbie!
Image mud pool by Dan Nelson
It’s official: the All Blacks just a few hours ago beat the Wallabies in the Final of the 2015 Rugby World Championships. So that took care of my early morning. And there are still 2000 words I have to write. To be honest, I have a higher number in mind but dare not to talk about that openly, in case I don’t make it. It could kind of jinx it. We can’t have that.
Armed with an endless supply of coffee – this old machine runs on coffee alright – and dressed in the essential pyjama, I am sitting at the laptop trying to come up with the first line. What is it about first lines that make them so difficult? I resort to the good old technique of ‘researching’ on the internet. Blessed internet. A quick look what my Facebook friends are doing…I know I shouldn’t do that, but…what the heck.
After ten minutes, I have about twenty beginnings – but what about the title? I forgot all about the title. I was going to come up with a title yesterday, but I watched Midsummer Murders on TV instead.
It’s 10 am and writing this blog post is, of course, another distraction. Enough now, off to write a novel in 30 days – at least the rough draft that is. I found my first line:
Most mystics would agree that when our life ends, and we stand in front or our creator, she will ask two questions: Have you lived enough? and Have you loved enough?
It’ll be about Anne, a sixty-plus-year-old successful divorce lawyer, one of four friends whose stories I am about to tell. She’s coming from the wedding of her best friend Thea (Thea’s story is the first book in this four-friends-series and is waiting for the editor to tell me what’s right and wrong with it) and suddenly wonders whether she has lived enough and loved enough. Some days later, she finds herself at the mother of a cross-road and makes a life-decision that… yip that’s about as much as I want to reveal at this point.
The cool thing is, by writing this blog now I am all fired up to keep going. See you at the other end of today. My idea is to write every day a post about my process. I want to remember how this month went and how I bring a book to life – if it interests anybody, that’s a bonus.
Anybody who is doing NANO this year reading this? How did your first day and the beginning go?