Tuesday 30 July 2013

RomanticFridayWriters has closed down. Please click the new address to go to the new-look monthly blogfest.

RFW has closed down. The new-look monthly blogfest has its own blog - Write...Edit...Publish. Please visit and re-follow.

New URL: 


Friday 26 July 2013

'Honeymoon' Wrap Up...and...That's All, Folks!

Hi, all ye who come by!

Firstly, a brief wrap up of the July Honeymoon Challenge. Let me just simply say, all your stories were unique, all entertaining, all relished.

It was wonderful to welcome Nancy Williams back after a long hiatus from RFW, along with Madeleine who has not posted for what seems absolute ages. Linda, Nilanjana and Sally have been regulars for sometime, along with Yolanda and Charmaine who were both absent this month. I thank you for your loyalty to RFW. Donna and Anna nearly didn't post, but both slipped in under the wire.

So, from the above, you'll notice a problem...not many posted and this was Donna's and my last chance for RFW -- both agreed if we had low figures again, we were not going to put ourselves through the stress any longer -- and it is stressful waiting for entries each month, hoping for a good turnout, looking forward to many good reads, but, alas...

This has been brewing for some time. For several reasons, foremost being the lack of participation, RFW is closing down..

Donna and I have tossed up this possibility for some time, especially when our challenges have reached all-time lows. We always said: 'Let's give it till next month,' then one of us would be feeling upbeat, and convince the other to keep going, month after month. Since January, we have averaged sign-ups of 11. The last 2 challenges didn't even make double figures, even for June Wedding, which was a prize post. We know the web is wickedly busy, there are so many blogfests/memes/challenges out there demanding attention.

We spent lots of time jazzing up the blog recently, spent lots of time discussing forward plans, but all to no avail. Few were impressed...or visiting our Friday posts. (A warm thanks for those who did comment!)

So, reluctantly, after quite a long run, we are closing our doors, through which many authors, writers, poets, non-fiction writers have passed. We know at times we were used to publicise books, publicise blogs, publicise individuals...but we were also used for one of our main aims - to help writers improve their writing. Those loyal to RFW often said they believed their writing had improved and it does when you push yourself to write to a prompt, then edit to a word count and take on board feedback.

So, thank you to all those who've made RFW what it was -- a quite unique little online writing community that, except occasionally, never met the potential its hosts imagined for it.

(It is crazy to see up to 2324 people viewing each challenge sign up, but for some reason, never participating!)

We especially warmly thank those who have been loyal these last few months  - Nilanjana's latest post was sent in from the Himalayas. Now if only everyone was so keen! We appreciate Nila prioritising RFW! Such a small group needed everyone to post each month to keep it operational.

RFW started with weekly posts of 400 words, then to fortnightly posts, then to monthly posts of 1,000 words which was a less onerous commitment, but, alas, that didn't work either! Without a goodly number of writers prioritising one Friday per month to post for us, RFW cannot continue to operate -Donna and I can no longer justify the huge time drain of maintaining the blog and the challenges.

We wish you all well. I'm sure we'll both support your blogs as we have done in the past, (not just at RFW times). We will watch your progress with interest and will clap along in the wings as you reach your writing goals. We hope you will visit our blogs from time to time and say hello.

I thank Francine Howarth for helping me set up RFW (she did all the techno stuff at the start up) and Donna Hole for her valued input for the past year (she's not into techno stuff, but she was great in forward planning and critiquing). My job would have been impossible without both of these wonderful authors.

I will leave the site open for the time being, so you can have your say. I'm not ready to let go just yet...maybe you have some positive ideas which would allow RFW to continue... But meanwhile,  I will continue to use the left side bar to see what RFWers are posting and the right hand side bar to see where to send my stories. I urge you to use these too and please visit each other often.

For me, I will miss RFW deeply...heck, I've already got a Vacation story zooming around in my head...now what will I do with it? That's the most treasured thing I'll take away from RFW -- I wrote genres I'd never have attempted otherwise. I believe my writing has improved and that is invaluable. How about you?

Thank you one and all!

R.I.P. RomanticFridayWriters -- May 2011 - July 2013.

Friday 12 July 2013

Come with me on a journey to exotic lands -- Honeymoon travel possibilities with Denise.

Hello there RFWers and friends.

One of my other writing outlets is as a travel writer. I've been published in travel magazines in Australia but I've yet to hit the big time, like Conde's Nest, lol, but as I get more time...ah, when is that?...I will be submitting more...and another of my goals is to write a travel narrative to add to my huge collection!

There was a clunky, funky hit song on the radio when I was a kid -- "I've Been Everywhere, Man" (I think it was originally released, like, in the sixties, man...but was picked up by Johnny Cash of all people at a later time.) Well that song sums it up -- Aussies are intrepid travellers, probably because as one of our Prime Ministers said, "we inhabit the "'a?r**se' end of the world". So we jump on planes with great regularity and meander through the delights of Asia, the mind-boggling history and architecture of Old Europe and exotic African and Middle Eastern lands etc. As the plane fares to just about anywhere are atrociously expensive (takes about 21 hours to get to Paris from Brisbane!), when we hit the ground we go like blazes and eat it up, a bit like Crocodile Dundee in New York, hahahah.

So I've travelled to many lands, and hopefully I will travel to many more. I've been to the UK several times, Western Europe even more times, and Africa once, but have never put my feet into the good ole USofA, sorry Donna. Those Homeland Security guys scare me big time, haha.

Anyway, my point is to point out that there are many countries to travel to and enjoy, but not all are great honeymoon destinations, unless you're both into danger, sleeping rough and difficult customs to get your head around. If you're going to be true to the meaning of 'honeymoon' where you hide away and drink mead as Donna explained to us in her history post,

Let's face it some of us probably had our 'honeymoon' many moons ago -- I got married at 19, yes, I repeat, 19 -- and am still married to the same fella. We grew up together and have had several honeymoons, but the first one was low-budget travel up and down the Queensland coast. Well, many of the Great Barrier Reef islands we visited now have very ritzy resorts for well-heeled honeymooners, but back in the day, we had all that paradise to ourselves. Queensland is a big state, so we travelled 4,000 miles in our classic Customline.

A long way from...

France or Italy, two of my favourite places...

So thinking of honeymoon destinations today, I would want more of a fantasy -- like some mead-drinking time in a pretty French village with trips to Paris thrown in, (La Roche Guyon is a favourite -- 6 kilometres from Monet's Garden and 1 hour from Paris). Driving through country France is delightful. A sunset stop at Chartres is memorable as you'd swear the cathederal was crafted, as is a walk through the bottom of town to see where ladies once washed the clothes in the river.

The River Eure in Chartres, France, where the washer ladies once did their laundry

What a delight to see Monet's Water Lilies out of the frame - Monet's Garden is magical no matter what the season. I've been there in both winter and summer.

La Roche-Guyon - friendly locals to play petanque with, stunning setting along the Seine, best  regional food in France at the hotel/restaurant we stayed at overlooking the river, IMHO

How about visiting Juliet's garden and standing on her balcony or writing her a letter  in the gorgeous Verona, Italy. Such an under-rated destination.

My husband and I have had fabulous trips to Italy, completely fascinated by the gorgeous medieval hill towns and all that history. Remember, Australia was not even discovered until late medieval times. Who can ever forget seeing Ancient Rome, seeing Verona, Romeo + Juliet's hometown, or boating to some of those gorgeous Italian islands like Capri?

Capri, Italy, a short boat ride from wild Napoli (Naples) We wintered there once and it was still magical.

Oh, how about an island off Italy for that first, second or third honeymoon? Sounds good to me. I've found an island which is simply a fantasy waiting for fairy dust. It was good enough for Napoleon, so it's good enough for me.

I often choose travel destinations according to books I've read -- I visited Tuscany before Frances Mayes wrote her Under the Tuscan Sun, but I went back and visited Cortona just because of her gorgeous descriptions (which describe hundreds of Italian medieval hilltowns), but it added a little fillip to the trip.

Cortona, a medieval hill city, full of history and great coffee
But how about visiting a place made famous in a spy novel for a change -- The Isle of Elba, a small Mediterranean island famous as Napolean's getaway and as the setting for John le Carre's The Constant Gardener (Ralph Fiennes).


Honeymoon heaven. Lovers strolling hand in hand, cyclists with wobbly legs pumping up and down cliff-like paths, old ladies hanging washing out of windows and absolutely gob-smacking scenery -- wine and olive estates running down to the sea below the ruins of a medieval fortress. Cool. The perfect hideaway. Maybe you could find a spot to curl up with your laptop and write?!

John le Carre's reluctant hero hid out here in a beautiful old estate called La Chiusa di Magazzine. There are a few cottages to rent. If you're lucky enough to find the other cottages empty, you will be in seventh heaven if you like rustic quarters with grapes ripening in the sun, birdsong in the morning, a limpid blue sea and the sound of waves lapping on a pebble beach (well, I prefer golden sand, but I'd be happy to slum it just one time). There are glorious sunsets over the ancient fortified harbour of Portoferraio, and you must wonder why Napolean ever left for St Helena. Crazy little guy.

When to go. This island is at its best in spring and autumn, with hills swathed in chesnut and pine,  throbbing with colour. Everyone is languorous (love that word) and you can spend your days walking up a thirst which you can slake at the restaurants and bars lining quiet quays and beaches.

Ah...sounds idyllic, doesn't it? But, really, we don't all have the desire to travel to exotic places, do we? Some of you may be happy in your own little paradise...or perhaps you'd like to travel, but due to commitments or lack of funds, it's out of the question...for now. Reading about exotic places can transport us to places we'd love to see, watching videos can also bring places to life. But wherever you honeymoon, or would choose to honeymoon, a loving partner by your side guarantees a wonderful experience. A sunset in Capri is best shared with someone you love. (I have so many gorgeous photos of this experience but they're on another computer.)

So just this morning my good fella and I finalised our planning for our  next Grand Tour for the end of 2013 beginning of 2014 -- Paris, Crete, Spain and Portugal. What are you doing for Christmas?? Any trips planned?

Friday 5 July 2013

Introduction to Honeymoon challenge for July

The most logical prompt following Weddings is the Honeymoon. That period of blissful vacation after

the nuptials have been pronounced and the reception has concluded.

According to wiki.answers.com: The term 'honeymoon' first originated in Babylon, about 4,000 years ago. Honeymoon came into use for the month after a wedding, when the bride's father would give the groom all the mead he wanted. Mead is actually a honey beer, and being so, the Babylonian calendar was a lunar calendar, (based on the moon's cycle). They then started to call that month, the 'honey month', which we now have adapted to be 'honeymoon.'

Another article by Hudson Valley Weddings reports two alternatives for the honeymoon custom that are nearly as ancient. The article states that "Today's "happy ending" to the wedding event is a far cry from its much different beginnings. The word honeymoon has its roots in the Norse word "hjunottsmanathr" which was anything but blissful." It describes the ritual where the bride-groom steals his bride-to-be and hides her from her family, with the help of his friends and family.

The Scandinavian word for 'honeymoon', according to the same article, "is derived, in part, from an ancient Northern European custom in which newlyweds, for the first month of their married life, drank a daily cup of honeyed wine called mead. The ancient practices of kidnapping the bride and drinking the honeyed wine dates back to the history of Atilla, king of the Asiatic Huns from A.D. 433 to A.D. 453."

For a modern definition and application of the concept of honeymoon, I consulted Wikipedia. "A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion." Today, honeymoons by Westerners are celebrated somewhere exotic or otherwise considered romantic...Originally "honeymoon" simply described the period just after the wedding when things are at their sweetest; it is assumed to wane in a month. This is the period when newly wed couples take a break to share some private and intimate moments that help establish love in the relationship. This privacy in turn is believed to ease the comfort zone towards the physical relationship, which is one of the primary means of bonding during the initial days of marriage. The earliest term for this in English was 'hony moone', which was recorded as early as 1546."

Other sources for the origins and meanings of honeymoon.
The Wise Geek
The Beall Mansion

All searches seem to agree that the word "honeymoon" involves the month long drinking of mead by either the bridegroom or both the newlyweds, and some amount of "hiding" is involved either before or after the nuptials.

Last month we had the Wedding; for July we'd like to focus on The Honeymoon.

Only for this challenge, RFW recognizes that not all honeymoon periods involve a wedding. The honeymoon could refer to that period after taking a platonic relationship to its next logical step; the phase in the DV cycle where the abuser is wooing back into the victim's good graces; that period of adjustment when blended families attempt to get along; the getting to know you phase after a promotion (who's the cutie in the next cubbie keeps making the "come here" eyes?); a relocation to a new city (who's the hottie lounging by the pool or mowing the lawn every other week?)

For writers of more contemporary or darker commitments: that period of blissful adjustment after being bitten by a shifter or vamp, feeling the relief after a bad break-up, the thrill of quitting a go-nowhere job.

Whatever the circumstances of the Honeymoon ritual, be sure to add some romance to the exuberant feeling of "the right decision"; even if the feeling is only a few moments, a few hours, or a few months. Honeymoons are essentially a celebration of a long anticipated decision come to fruition.

Any genre or POV, prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction, up to 1000 words. The linky will be open from July 19 thru July 22.  Be sure to link your DIRECT POST, and add the undertone of romance to whatever Honeymoon situation you create. Have fun!

See you next Friday for an exotic post from from co-host/travel writer Denise Covey

Friday 28 June 2013

Wrap Up Post - June Wedding - Prize winners announced.

Hello romantic writers!

Before beginning the wrap up, I'd like to thank our Guest Poster, Mills & Boon author Kate Walker, for her great guest post on weddings she has created in her novels. Thank you for those who visited and left positive comments. Much appreciated by Kate and your hosts.

Kate was very generous in choosing four winners to receive a print copy of one of her books. The lucky winners were:

SALLY - A Throne for the Taking
DONNA - Sicilian Husband Blackmailed Bride
NILANJANA and REKHA - The Duke's Secret Wife (novella)

Congratulations to each of the above commenters. I hope you've contacted Kate with your details so you can receive your gift in the mail.

The Wrap Up...Well, the first thing to comment on is the dearth of posts for June Wedding. Hopefully it was just life that got in the way of more entries, not something wrong with the challenge. Any comments welcome.Your hosts are spending much more time at RFW, hoping to make it a more fulfilling experience for all writers. Let us know what you think of the changes so far. We are always keen to hear from you.

Those who did post to the June Wedding challenge, we thank you. Perhaps our guidelines were a little too stringent which resulted in some of the entries unable to be considered for the prizes. Both Nilanjana and Yolanda acknowledged their entries broke the 'rules' which was a pity, as both were excellent.

  NILANJANA: Poetry, Hennaed Hands, was fascinating. Set in medieval times, this poem resonated with the power of love.
  DONNA: Combined The Thrill of it All blogfest with RFW this month. A very modern wedding ceremony presented, replete with cell phones, texting, looking after siblings...and we just missed a dance up the aisle!!
  ANNA: Anna's post successfully combined Cat World Domination Day with her RFW entry. Anna's wedding story was told through the eyes of the cats Penelope and Miranda. Their conversation with the church cats was very cute.
  YOLANDA: Broken Vows was a very powerful and sensual entry. Told from the male POV it was a very passionate, regretful tale. Is it all over for Steven and Sarah?
  SALLY: Gave us a real-life wedding. Very nostalgic walk down memory lane. The lovely original photos remind me of the black and whites of various great grandies on my walls.
  ROLAND (linking as VICTOR): Took us to Ancient Egypt this month. An enjoyable creepy story with so many mythological references. I found the female Pharaohs especially fascinating.
  CHARMAINE: Shared a grisly horror story of murder/suicide. So well done...some foreshadowing, but still caught me at the end.
  DENISE: Took a trip to Venice to showcase a wonderful work of art and recounted the Biblical story of the wedding at Cana. Secondly, she primped the wedding scene from her most recent WIP Fijian Princess. I valued the feedback before submission.

Now, Donna and I have collaborated on the prizes for the month...(((drum roll))):

WINNER: Receives a $5 Amazon Gift Card -- Sally for real-life, creative non-fiction entry. Congratulations Sally. The Amazon Gift Card is yours. Please take the Featured Writer badge, post it onto your blog, and link it to your winning post.
RUNNER UP: Receives a 2-chapter critique from either Donna or myself -- your choice -- don't be shy...
For her grisly murder-suicide, we choose Charmaine. Congratulations, Charmaine. You are welcome to post the Runner Up badge on your site, linking to your story. We shall await your critiquer choice.

Our next challenge...be ready by July 19 to post your entry...we'll let you know when we add this challenge to the Challenges Page

See you on July 5th, for Donna's introduction to Honeymoon...

Friday 21 June 2013

June Wedding Inlinkz sign up. Give us your stories, poetry or non-fiction

get the InLinkz code

Friday 14 June 2013

June Wedding Guest Post -- Romance Author Kate Walker

Thanks Denise and Donna for offering me the Guest Post today. I've been specifically asked to talk about...

Weddings  I've Created -  for my hero and heroine, that is!

The cliché about a romance novel is that they all  start off with the hero and heroine at odds with each other, deep in some form of conflict. That conflict is resolved as the story progresses – and then there is the traditional  Happy Ever After ending,  one that inevitably, naturally, leads to a wonderful wedding at the end of the book.

Well, yes, that’s how it is sometimes. I’ve written 61 romances for Harlequin, some for the Romance line,  but most for  Presents  (Modern romance for Mills & Boon in the UK) and over the years I’ve created all sorts of stories, with all sorts of heroes and heroines, and yes, they do all end up heading off ‘into the sunset’ and their 'happy ever after.' But the ways they get there, the stories that  are behind them, the conflicts they have to deal with, are all very different,  unique to the man and woman in the story.
And as a result, the wedding ceremony in each story can be very different too. 

Sometimes the wedding is right there, centre stage,  described in some detail.  The wedding in The Konstantos Marriage Demand was like that.  My heroine, Sadie, was a wedding planner and the hero – Nikos Konstantos, whose family had held a long-running feud   with Sadie’s  – had tricked her

into coming to his private island on the pretext that he wanted her to arrange his wedding for him.  Of course, in the end, the wedding she ends up planning is her own, and the final scene in which the couple is  married in the tiny chapel on the island was needed to round off their story and show that as well as their happiness being complete, the feud has ended too.

But sometimes the wedding isn’t even ‘on stage’ in the book. If the story is a reunion story, where the hero and heroine have been married before, then that wedding may have taken place some years before and the couple have split up, even be on the verge of divorce. This is the way that The Proud Wife begins  or perhaps the novella The Duke’s Secret Wife. In this story, the  hero and heroine were secretly married (well that’s obvious from the title isn’t it!) two years before. That was when the hero,  Luis de Silva fell madly for  Isabelle and rushed into marriage with her. A sadly short-lived marriage when very soon he believed that she had been unfaithful to him. But now, because

he is  to inherit  the family dukedom  after the death of his brother, he has to have a wife to provide him with an heir and as  his family doesn’t  accept divorce , he comes to find his ‘Secret Wife’ to ask her to marry him all over again.  (At least that’s what he claims, but anyone who reads the book carefully will see that really he has never been able to forget her and that this is the only way he can think of  of  getting her back.) Here I had some fun playing with the contrast  between the wedding that Luis and Isabelle had had in the past – sweet,  simple and innocent – and the formal, elaborate ceremony that is being prepared for the Duke and his  Duchess.

Of course, the ceremony of a wedding, the way that  everyone is gathered together to enjoy the ceremony gives such potential  drama, particularly when that drama is acted out in front of a large crowd of family and friends.  I’ve always wondered  - as I’m sure you have – just what could happen in those silent moments when the celebrant says the words - ‘If any person here present knows of any reason why these two should not be joined. . .Then let him speak now  or forever hold his peace . . .’  
What if  someone did step forward  - and even worse, what if they said :
‘I do . .  .  I know of a reason why these two should not be joined together in holy matrimony.’

It was such a wonderful scene that I just had to write it  - and the of course I had to think of just who would step forward and say that. And I had to think of a reason why   they would say it.  Inevitably, the person saying those words  had to be the hero, the wedding he broke up  and ruined was the heroine’s  - and the reason why he said them? Ah, you’d have to read the book to find out.  That book was Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride – and if I tell you that it starts with another, very different wedding – again a simpler, more innocent one like the one in the Duke’s Secret Wife, perhaps you can guess why my hero, Guido Corsentino, is so determined to stop this ceremony.

Weddings have this huge  scope for emotional upheaval and drama.  Everyone is hoping that the day goes perfectly, the bride will be beautiful,  the  groom handsome and strong, the flowers gorgeous,  the ceremony fabulous . . . so it’s great to throw a spanner in the works and watch the resulting explosions!  Romance writers are such sadists, really. We love to make out heroes and heroines suffer.   We put them into forced marriages as the result of blackmail, marriages of convenience like the one in The Hired Husband where the heroine thinks that the hero is agreeing to a marriage  in name only – to discover that that’s not what he has in mind at all, and she’s committed to a very real and very sexual relationship! Or what about the  bride in The Hostage Bride, who gets into the car that has come to take her to her wedding only to find that she is being driven in quite the opposite direction – by a handsome,  sexy chauffeur!

But perhaps the most intriguing wedding – for a writer anyway – that I created for my heroine  in Saturday's Bride - was the wedding that never was. The one I   almost had to write backwards.  Puzzled? Well, so was my hero!  Connor Harding came back to the town in which he’d grown up to discover that the girl he’d never been able  forget- Jenna Kenyon- was getting married in a week - to the wrong man! But he knew that Jenna was determined to prove him wrong, despite the passion still smouldering between them. Connor decided that all was fair in love and war. Only five days remained before Jenna became Saturday's bride, but that was more than long enough for him to persuade her to change her mind.

The truth is that the wedding’s actually  for Jenna’s sister but all the way  through the story I had to make it look   as if it was going to be Jenna’s big day until the truth finally dawns on Connor. So I had to make sure that every scene fitted with the ending I had already planned- right at the gate to the church!

Of course royal weddings have  a very special impact – all that glamour and ceremony – at least here in the UK. The coaches, pulled by beautiful horses, the jewels, the military uniforms,  the crowded streets, the cheering crowds.  It was as a result of the marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011 that I wrote my first ever ‘Royal Romance’  - A Throne for The Taking -  the book that is out in the shops just now. I  was asked to teach some workshops on writing a royal romance and that set me thinking. Of course I could  never had planned the fact that it came out just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting the arrival  of their first baby any time soon - that was just good luck!  But it fits wonderfully into the time of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation  and the expected arrival of the new baby prince or princess.

I have a special reason to celebrate this year too, and that expected date of the royal baby’s arrival has a real significance for me. It’s the date of  my wedding day – and this year it’s really special. My DH  and I are celebrating our Ruby Wedding – I was a child bride, honest!

So as I’m celebrating and I’d love to share the joy with you – I am offering a giveaway to one person who comments on this post.   I have either a copy of A Throne for The Taking  or one of those other books where I’ve talked about the wedding ( The Duke’s Secret Wife, The Konstantos Marriage Demand , Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride –sorry, I don’t  have copies of the others) to give away. Just tell me which of these weddings you’d most like to read about – or perhaps which wedding in a novel you’d most like to have been at!  And I’ll get Charlie the Maine Coon on the job of picking a winner.  (If you’d like to know more about Charlie he has his own post on the Pink Heart Society blog tomorrow.)
If you want to know more about my books then please check out my web site   - or there's my personal blog where you'll find all the most up to date news.

Thank you Kate. Always a pleasure to host you here at RFW, where it's all about weddings this month. So RFWers and visitors, leave a comment for the chance to win one of Kate's books. I've read plenty of her romances and they're wonderful. I also swear by her '12 -Point Guide for Writing Romance.'

Donna and I hope you're all busy planning your entries for June Wedding for the 21st posting date.

Just to keep you in the romantic mood, here is Harrison Craig, a 19 year old who is tipped to win The Voice Australia next week. Amazing voice!