Thursday 28 June 2012

#Linky sign up for STUCK IN THE MIDDLE - Challenge No 39 - Friday June 29.

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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Our two upcoming challenges - Stuck in the Middle and Greener Pastures

Hello RFWers.

How have you been over the last couple weeks?  Do anything interesting?  Have an exciting breakthrough in your writing projects?  Do tell us in the comments.

And did you catch the guest post by Anne Gallagher?  What do you think of this as a regular feature here at RFW? Check out the Guest Post page if you'd like to write for us.

Are you ready for Challenge #39, Stuck in the Middle?  This challenge is a little different, and may be slightly more challenging to write, because it does not focus on the Lovers.  Or the romance itself.  As we all know, relationships do not happen in a vacuum; others are affected either directly (children, in-laws) or indirectly (social groups, co-workers) by the success or failure of the relationship.  We still want to see the romance aspect, but it will flow from a slightly different perspective.

This prompt is about the others in the romance couple’s lives DURING the break-up. Inlaws, best friends, co-workers siblings, the kids and other immediate family. Anyone who has connected with the couple and is expected to choose sides when the relationship ends. What we want to see (in 400 words or less) is how “the others” feel or is changed by the ending relationship, and what they see as the strengths/weaknesses of the couple. We want to live the romance through a second party. (This is not a love triangle.)

I emphasize DURING the breakup because our next challenge Greener Pastures, will focus on AFTER the relationship ends.  Challenge #40 is also eligible for the Featured Writer and Runner Up award, so this prompt is meant to assist you in setting up that excerpt (although you do not have to use the same characters for the next prompt if you do not wish to).

This prompt is about long-term love; perhaps suffering a mid-life or 7 year itch crisis. The couple recognizes it is time for a change; but how drastic does the change need to be to rekindle the relationship? Who wants the change; husband, wife, mutual? Who would suffer the most from either a break up, or from the status quo?

For older lovers: perhaps this is the retirement of one or both, or one is suffering a physical or mental health change.

For mid-life lovers: perhaps this could be an empty nest syndrome, or a male mid-life crisis, or female menopause.

For younger lovers: perhaps there is an unexpected pregnancy to upset the balance; or a career change –promotion or firing or company move; or the sheer boredom of routine.

What we want to see is when the romance loses it shine, and the eye wanders, but what our disgruntled lover finds so appealing in another is the qualities that the old flame has lost. Does he/she realize this on their own? Or does the jilted lover or new love point it out? How is the situation resolved? Or is it too late?

This is a special challenge, so it has special guidelines:

To be in the judging for Featured Writer, you must be a member (sign up on the thumbnail linky) and follow these guidelines:

  • Word limit is 600 words
  • Any POV - first, second, third person
  • Prose/prosetry
  • Judging will be based on the FIRST WRITING ONLY; meaning, if you edit or revise based on initial feedback, the re-write will be disqualified. Only the original will be entered into the competition. Once the link is up, it is the final submission version. It is fine to improve your piece for publication elsewhere, but for judging for FW just leave your original post up.
Linky for Stuck in the Middle goes up tomorrow, Thursday June 28. Come back to link your story once you've posted it on your blog.

Happy writing everyone.

Monday 25 June 2012

GUEST AUTHOR ANNE GALLAGHER on Research, specifically for Regency Romance.

Hello fellow RFWers.  Today We have the pleasure of hosting a guest post by Regency Romance Author Anne Gallagher (Piedmont Writer).  Anne has published several Regency Romances, and as she eloquently describes, proper research into the setting, historical figures, culture is essential to creating believable fictional characters and plot concepts.

Over to Anne:

Research is vital in writing historical fiction. I have at last count, fifteen folders in my Favorite Bar with titles like – Parliament, Aristocracy, Maps, Napoleon, Etiquette, Fashion – with articles such as  “How to Load and Fire a Flintlock” “Field Surgeon's Tools and their Practical Use” “How to Address a Peer,” “Lord Sittings in Parliament”. I once had to change three different stories’ timelines because the Lords weren’t in session during the months I wanted to use. Some people called me crazy for changing them, but I wanted to be accurate. There is nothing worse for a dedicated reader of the historical genre to find a mistake. (I once used “tuxedo” for want of another description “of a man dressed in blacks.” I received several letters from outraged readers stating the term “tuxedo” wasn’t invented until 1922.)

I write Regency romance, the era in which Good King George III succumbed to his final bout of madness (porphyria). Parliament declared his son, Prince George, Regent, hence the Regency period – 1811-1820. When George III died in 1820 and the Prince became King, some say the genre encompassed the whole of George IV’s reign from 1811 through 1830 when he died and his brother William took over until the reign of Victoria in 1837. However, the timelines of my stories never go further than the winter of 1811. In any historical era, it’s good to know exactly when your timeline begins and ends.
If you write in the Middle Ages, which part do you write about – Early, High, or Late? Different things happened in each of these eras and you want your reader to know your research paid off. You don’t want to be writing about Charlemagne and then the story takes a swift turn through the Renaissance. There’s almost a thousand years difference between the two.

In this modern day and age, you're only one click away from Wikipedia and Google, but that does have its drawbacks. Yes, you can get an overview of the Napoleonic Wars, or who the hostesses were at Almack’s, but those are generally bare bones factoids. In my research, I also watch movies to get a feel for the language, fashion, and ‘tone’ of the day (Sense & Sensibility, Amazing Grace, Master and Commander to name a few). When I rely on books, certainly the tome PRIMER OF NAVIGATION, (George W. Mixter 1940) left a lot to be desired, while JANE FAIRFAX (Joan Aiken 1990) was delightful and I found that someone other than Jane Austen could write a Regency romance.

I, for one, am a stickler for dialogue. Certain words were not in use in the early part of the 19th century – "tuxedo", for instance. An etymological dictionary is a lifesaver for using the correct word choices of the day.
As a character-driven writer, I do use some figures from history, but they are always minor characters. I also take ‘creative license’ when writing them. For example, when writing the Prince Regent, I took into consideration the newspaper accounts from that time, which portrayed him as a randy, drunken sot; but I did give him a human side. I allowed myself to think about the reasons why he could have become this way. Raised to be King, he had an education unparalleled by any of his Peers, although he was not allowed to use it when he gained the throne. His ideas were too radical. (I believe he was a forward thinking man, way ahead of his time.) I have always looked on his vices as a pointed rebellion against the establishment. His forced annulment to his first wife, Maria Fitzherbert left him broken hearted. He hated the woman he finally married, and after their child was born, never saw her again.

In my book THE LADY’S FATE, Ellis, the Marquess of Haverlane, doesn’t know what to do about Violet (an impoverished daughter of an Earl, sixteen years his junior). Prince George tells Ellis a story about his own marriage to the love of his life, Mrs. Fitzherbert (widowed twice, six years older than he and a Catholic). I have allowed George to be vulnerable when he says to Ellis: “It matters not who she is. There is no life when one lives without love.” Whether the real George would have said such a thing, matters not. It is how I chose to portray him.

Literature scholars maintain there are only twelve major plots in the universe (some say there are less than six). In developing your own plot line, sure you can write a romance, boy meets girl, gets girl, lives happily ever after. But it’s what happens between those highlights that matter. At one point, I knew I wanted to write about something taboo (forbidden, unmentionable, prohibited,) so I tackled THE DUKE’S DIVORCE.

Divorce was almost impossible in the early 1800s.  Gaining an annulment was a long, drawn out process that sometimes took years. For the book, I took creative license again and made the annulment proceedings last only six months.

When writing ROMANCING LADY RYDER, I knew I wanted to make the Earl of Greenleigh a spy for the Foreign Office. I spent countless hours researching the who’s who of Secretaries in the Foreign and Home Office, the Napoleonic Wars, Russian diplomats, the country of France, sailing vessels, even true Russian and French dialogue. I believe I spent more time researching than I actually did writing the story. However, I wanted to make sure everything was as true as I could get to historical fact. You never know who’s going to be reading what you write.

My characters are all from the upper echelons of Society, the haute ton. I like the class structure of the nobility. Of course, taking the time to learn precedence is a bear. Who bows to whom, what you may call your friends, your wife, even your own mother. The social customs of the day are exhausting. Women were known to change five times. And the era was all about money – who had it, who wanted it, who lost it.

My characters may be of noble birth, but they are also human. In LOVE FINDS LORD DAVINGDALE, the Earl of Davingdale’s father lost the family fortune gambling. Davingdale joined the Army to try to maintain his respectability. After his discharge with a serious injury, he finds himself “working,” much to the chagrin of his friends. The aristocracy didn’t “work.”

I once did a writing exercise that took my heroes and placed them in present day circumstances – what kind of job they had, where they lived, who their family was. The lesson I gained was that no matter where or when you were born, people are people. They all have the same intrinsic core values. Invaluable information when forming your characters.

Writing historical fiction and using historical figures is not easy. Research is the key. I cannot stress that enough. It can make or break your book. Even if you never use the word “crinoline” in your story, at least you’ll know what it is (a stiff fabric made of horsehair and cotton or linen used in the making of petticoats for use in hoop skirts). And be the better writer for it.
* * *
Anne Gallagher was a voracious reader at a very early age. In her teens, with Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew and even the Hardy Boys as her constant companions - she one day hoped to be a detective. Her first foray into the romance genre with THE HONEY IS BITTER by Violet Winspear, trounced the idea of being a female Columbo.

Instead, she decided to become a romance writer. Unfortunately, her dream would have to wait nearly thirty years. As a professional chef, she was forced into an early retirement from the restaurant industry by a serious injury, and Anne finally found herself with the time and dedication needed to pursue a new career.

She writes sweet, single-title Regency Romance with heroines who are not afraid to speak their minds. Her heroes, on the other hand, do not realize when they've met their match. Sparks fly, sexual tension sizzles, but never spills out of the pan, so-to-speak. Anne believes you don't have to end up in the bedroom to have a good book.

Currently, Anne lives in the Foothills of the Piedmont in North Carolina with her daughter, three dogs and a cat named Henry David Thoreau.

Anne also writes character driven women's fiction set in her old home-state of Rhode Island, where the sounds of the ocean, east coast accents, and Providence -- both literal and figurative -- feature prominently.

  You can contact Anne at her writing blog, Amazon profile page, Smashwords profile, or visit her author website for synopsis and purchasing links to her romance novels.

Don't forget our next challenge, no 39. Stuck in the Middle. Check it out on the Challenges Page. Linky up this Thursday 28th June.

Donna & Denise

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Wednesday Wrap Up Post for Challenge No 39 - Being the Perfect Ex!

Hello RFWers!

What a rocking roll up for this Challenge. It was great to welcome back some members who haven't posted for awhile - Beverly Diehl, Adura Ojo, Ruth Madison - hello again! I hope you'll be able to return to regular postings! We also are very fortunate to have new writers, some first times, some second or third timers - Charmaine Clancy, Raelene Purtill, Heather Murphy, Sally Stackhouse, Myrna, Crystal Hobbs and Rekha. Lovely to have you with us. Some of you have become members by clicking on the thumbnail linky in the right sidebar. I hope others will decide we're a good group to be part of and join up. Welcome to new followers also! And regular members/contributors I haven't forgotten you! Donna and I both appreciate your support and value the enthusiasm that you throw into every prompt - Anna, Andy,Francine, Roland - if ever you guys miss a prompt it just wouldn't be the same!! Well, Francine had to miss this week due to her publishers demands. Francine, we wish you every success for your novel. Go here to read what Francine has been up to.

Don't forget if you like what you see when you visit contributors, follow them on their blog, FB and Twitter and any other social networking site they inhabit. If I've omitted following you anywhere, please let me know!

There are benefits to becoming a member - as well as showing solidarity to the group there is the Featured Writer, Runner Up and Encouragement Awards which are only open to members. They are chosen by your hosts, Denise and Donna, after special postings. Our first Featured Writer prompt will be on July 13. Look out for it in the left sidebar. The word limit will be upped to 600 and there will be stricter guidelines. Visit the Challenges Page to check it out.


Raelene - How many words can you find 'ex' in? If you didn't read Raelene's poem, go now. It was such a clever take on the theme. A wonderful experiment in expression. You had me exfoliating all over the place.

Charmaine - A touching, poignant story of memory loss with a touch of mystery. Many of us can relate to this story, knowing someone who has been struck down with this cruel condition. I loved how Charmaine demonstrated how emotive a photo album can be.

Roland - A continuation of last prompt's last dance between Alice and Victor. Roland's lyrical language heralds Victor's demise, but I'm sure Victor cannot stay dead.

Crystal - New contributor Crystal crafted a poignant story of first love.  I love how he loved her enough to let her go. Also enjoyed the simile between actors and a movie.

Myrna - Welcome Myrna, who posted on a whim. Love what you whipped up in such a short time, Myrna. Michael didn't love Jenna enough to let her go - his was a smothering type of love. She was his obsession. A mysterious, dark story of what could happen when you refuse to let someone go. Does she get away with it?

Sally - I loved this poem which tracks a marriage breakup with its nasty side, yet showing how when a couple parts, there's still the tie of children. 'Moving on...memories are precious jewels to treasure...far too numerous to measure.'

Andy - One day I'm going to say something different about Andy's romantic poetry, but today I'm just going to reiterate my opinion, that Andy dips his pen in some special romance oil and writes. I love how the 'pretty footprints...embroidered upon the sands of ecstasy' become, through unfaithfulness, 'pretty footprints ...visible on the sands of unfaithfulness' at the end. Sad, yet he loves her still.

Adura - Two cracking poems from Adura this prompt. Welcome back, whammo! The first sung out from the screen - 'My awakening kissed you dead...'  Cutting. To the point. But she's 'afraid not, anymore.' Adura's second poem seemed quite autobiographical, so real it was. In this poem the woman has suffered for years in the relationship, but now she's slowly taking what she wants. I was inspired by the pure strength in this character.

Beverly - It was great to have Beverly back after a long hiatus. Beverly will always put a smile on your face with her clever humour. 'Spider Killing' was full of the conversations at the Monthly Martini Group as they sipped appletinis, mangotinis and drinks the colour of blood. Ah, pity the men. Wicked take on the theme. And it left me wanting more.

Anna - Anna's 'Pearly Gates' resonated with all of those who read it. Anna's real life experience of her son Erik's accident sent Anna's imagination into overdrive and she crafted a story of Sanna's other-worldly experience after an accident where she meets Agnes, the woman in white. It was lovely that Sanna got sent back to be greeted by her ex and her children.

Donna - Donna decided to write a sequel to her Decisions story of Jordan and Reyna. Last prompt most of us were pretty harsh on Jordan and Donna wanted to give us more of Jordan's side which was only hinted at previously. This time we have more of the history of why the relationship is complicated, with Reyna confronting Jordan about his ex, Abby.

Ruth - It was great to have Ruth back and read more about the romance, or current situation of Elizabeth and the disabled Stewart. Now we see them as Perfect Exes and doing well despite Elizabeth's mother's interference. How is this going to progress?

Heather - Didn't we all love Heather's amusing take on the theme, using the online game, Farmville, as the Perfect Ex. I was wondering about all this harvesting and she really reeled me in. Cleverly done. If we haven't been addicted to Farmville we 've been addicted to something, so we could relate.

Rekha - Great to have Rekha back, but sadly this was her last story until August. The tension of this piece wore me out as a couple go to bed together for the last time. She was such an 'imperfect wife' that she made sure everything was in order before she moved out the next day. She was definitely the 'perfect ex.'

Weissdorn - Welcome back to Celeste! The voice from Germany returns with an intriguing story. She set up Karin's disquiet over her friend Jessica's relationship with an older man, Mr Lennox. Jessica is acting like the cat who got the cream. Obviously Mr Lennox is something else! Plenty here for a follow up...

Denise - Well I loved my two characters Geffron and Marsilia so much I'm writing a sequel for the Stuck in the Middle prompt.

So great stories/poems one and all. I'm sure you all enjoyed reading them.

Once again, we didn't have a definitive People's Choice Winner - Beverly, Andy and Denise received 2 votes apiece. Congratulations all! Andy and Beverly, you're welcome to take the People's Choice badge and display it on your site.

Our next challenge, no 39, is on June 29 - STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

This prompt is about the others in the romance couple’s lives during the break-up. Inlaws, best friends, siblings and other immediate family – including the kids – the parents.  Anyone who has connected with the couple and is expected to choose sideswhen the relationship ends.  What we want to see is how “the others” feel or is changed by the ending relationship, and what they see as the strengths/weaknesses of the couple.  We want to live the romance through a second party. (This is also not a love triangle.)

And don't forget to share you publishing success/s with us. We're all super excited when a RFWer member gets yet another book/story/poem published.

Join us on Friday June 29 for this great prompt. Whoops! That's the day I fly out to Fiji to stay in Nas Dean's house (for a month and a half!!) while she goes to the US. I'll have to be super organised that week!

Francine, here's to you!

Thursday 14 June 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Linky Sign Up - Challenge No 38 - Being the Perfect Ex.

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Tuesday 12 June 2012

Being the Perfect Ex, Challenge No 38 - further stimulus - a Quatern (poem) and a Microw Fiction call for submissions - prose or poetry...

Hi all!

So this Friday's prompt is Being the Perfect Ex. Further to the extra stimulus material on our Challenges Page, I found a poem, a Quatern, which got me thinking on this Perfect Ex thing. I just happened to read the Prologue to Jodi Picoult's Mercy this morning which was all about selling her partner's clothes in a garage sale unbeknownst to him, so I thought well, is there a message here to share with you?

A quatern is a French poetic form comprised of four quatrains (four-line stanzas) sixteen lines in all. It has no rules for rhymes or iambics (but each line should contain eight syllables) and it repeats a refrain throughout the poem but with a different pattern and syllable count. Varying the punctuation makes it more interesting.

Purple Heart

I gave away your clothes last week.
A truck rolled up and took six bags
to some forsaken warehouse where
they'd be passed on to people who

cannot afford to buy them new.
I gave away your clothes. Last week
I couldn't stand the closet full
of coats and dresses, hung like ghosts

and so I yanked them off their racks,
stuffed plastic bags with memories
I gave away. Your clothes, last week,
went to a world that never knew

how fine you were, how beautiful
in that red dress, that silken blouse
some stranger walks the street in now.
I gave away your clothes last week.

For further information on the quatern, go to Poetic Asides blog @

I can't wait to see what you'll all come up with for Friday's prompt. There are so many ways to demonstrate PERFECT!

Linky goes up Thursday AUS time...

PS: Found a great Flash Fiction/Poetry call for submissions for Microw Fiction. 1,000 words of prose or a maximum of 3 poems. Go here for the guidelines...

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Wednesday Wrap Up Post for Challenge No 37 - Yes, No, Oh, Alright Then!

Hi my friends

It was a lovely turn out this week. We were happy to see three new participants having a go and doing very well!

The theme of indecision came across very strongly, with some using the actual words from the prompt (this was not a compulsory requirement!) and others titling theirs to suit the theme.

Thank you all for your well-considered entries. I know we're all frantically busy with various writing projects, so Donna and I are thankful that you regularly take time to write for us, whether you're adjusting your WIP to fit the theme/word count, or whether you're crafting a brand new poem or prose offering, we salute you.

I just finished my rounds again, so I can see all the lovely comments. Those of you who're new may not have seen that you can get a full critique if you'd like, but you must tell us. Otherwise we're mainly offering positive feedback which is good too.

In order of sign up here is a quick overview of the entries this week:

ROLAND: Strong, atmospheric emotive writing as always as Victor and Alice danced their last dance before the fae High Queen Oxggia. Even the grass was smouldering. A delight for the senses, with a sweet waltz, sighing violins as they 'whirled and twirled in a dance of love.' The indecision was an interesting part of the piece. Alice was asking of Victor something he was witholding.

CHARMAINE: Welcome to a new participant who delighted us all with her present tense tale of conflict regarding expectations in a relationship. I love the progression of the story which takes place amidst various musical references and crumbs in beards. Full of atmosphere. Why does she stay? Why does she love him? The surprise ending was a humdinger.

LINDA: No romantic element in this semi-autobiographical story, but Linda captured the essence of the theme well. Indecision! Will I go? Will I stay? Don't we love risk takers? As always, loved the strong ending.

HEATHER: Welcome to another first timer for RFW. A great debut Heather, with a story of teenage angst which has its roots in a true experience. These are often the best tales, aren't they? Loved the set up with the interference in Monica's and Ryan's relationship. There's always another teen to run your life! Great use of theme.

FRANCINE: A feisty extract from Francine's latest WIP, Venetian Encounter. I adore Venice so was right there in the Georgian/Regency romance but I didn't have my frilly petticoat on. Loved the characters, especially Ropo the monkey. I thought he was an interesting motif, but he's a major character. A story of powerful temptation with a lot of questions - will/won't she get aboard?

KIRU: An extract from Kiru's novel, His Strength, this extract had many declaring they can't wait to read the full text. Nneka (always love the names Kiru chooses), caught between body and mind. Who can resist the alpha male? I don't think Nneka can.

MICHAEL: Michael nervously presented his story, but he wowed us with his tale of Jason and Shannon. She was a bit of a whinger and needed to sort herself out, but a guy who describes himself as 'Grade A prime beef' either has a great sense of the ridiculous or is just plain stupid. choose. Michael's emotive piece had us taking sides, er, Shannon's side mainly.But he is a handyman...

SALLY: Oh, lovely to see what we call prosetry at RFW. It was great to lose myself in this prose that beautifully conveys anguish and indecision. Swayed by that sexy English accent she makes up her mind to move to England, to start a new life. Alrighty then. Great twist at the end.

DONNA: Well we often say that being a member of RFW helps us to improve our writing and Donna is proudly not-a-romantic-writer, but she does a great imitation doesn't she? Ha! Your'e doing great Donna. We all  loved your sensory piece with all our favourite props - yellow roses, vintage wine (pity the glass was empty and she doesn't fill it up again - that created great tension for me!), cordon bleu cook, classical music - ah, seduction! But Jason has done something bad. We don't know what. Maybe we'll find out more in Being the Perfect Ex!

ANNA: Sweet pirate birthday party! The usual kiddie party stuff which many of us can relate to, but bring a Pirate into the mix and single mum may have a romance on her hands. We're all hoping. And several were left begging for more Anna, so please, please...

ANDY: What can you say about this super-romantic poet? Just that he delivers again and again with words that drip honey. Yet this time to adhere to the theme, he managed to add some loneliness and despair and tears to the prose. A sense of vulnerability and a little humourous touch at the end with the inclusion of the prompt words - 'Oh, alright then!' Great, Andy.

DENISE: Thanks for your supportive comments on my monologue. Loved writing it. May do another for the next prompt.

Well we have to kick this off again! I've sent out emails and waited for more votes, but nothing has changed for awhile now, so that leaves both Donna and I with two votes each. Doesn't seem much, but we're a small group and I know not everyone can/will go around and read all comments. That's the only way the vote means anything. So thanks for voting for your two hosts.  Here's to you all!

So thank you ladies and gentlemen. I hope you enjoyed this prompt and will return for the next which is below: It's going to be a cracker!

Click on the Challenges Page for more ideas...

Linky will go up next Thursday June 14.