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!

Friday 7 June 2013

Letters revisited - June kicks off with our Wedding theme with a real-life wedding ceremony, book reviews, movie review...and more...

Hello fellow Correspondents!

Hasn't it been ages or is it just me? RFW has come back bigger and better. Note that from now on we're having themes across the whole month as per a schedule that will be posted at the beginning of each month. Check out our June Weddings schedule - look forward to a post about something wedding-related each Friday, starting today. In future the wrap up will be posted at the end of the month.

Now did you have fun writing your Letters excerpts? Or if  you didn't post, did you enjoy reading the submissions? There were a lot of interesting entries to this challenge which was multi-generic, incorporating a different text into your stories.

Concepts ranged from journal entries, letters to/from lovers away at war, a paranormal and letters received after death, hidden letters to forbidden lovers, to online dating. The two most unique (for me) was returning member Lisa Voight’s confession letter from prison, and the blog/live journal entries from Charmaine Clancy. And a late entry from Michael DiGesu's Noir continuation, which used a couple notes for the inciting incident for the scene, but was not the focus of the scene. Denise and I thank you all for your participation, and welcome those who are new to the blog, and those who have been away for an extended time.

I was a bit surprised that more of the Letters excerpts did not include wedding invitations, as marriage would be a most natural outcome of love letters. Many of the excerpts alluded to wedding potential though, or were written to spouses. Marriage is on my mind lately, as my daughter is marrying her long time live in boyfriend in July.

My daughter, Lori (and Dave), will be married in Reno Nevada, at the Circus Circus hotel and casino. They've already booked the chapel, the minister, and their honeymoon suite. All very modern; non denominational minister, half an hour window to assemble the witnesses/attendees, say the devotional words, flash flash of pictures, corral it all along to the purchasing of the photo disc and/or DVD of the ceremony; then head out the exit to get to the casino, and hopefully a champagne celebration.

Although the bride is unlikely to wear a traditional white dress and there will be no three tiered wedding cake with presents and a reception, there will still be some tradition followed. Bachelorette party the night before (she promised me Chip N Dales), brides maids and grooms men, exchanging rings, the required kiss, tossing the bouquet, and the three ring circus that is mutual children, in-laws, re-uniting of divorced parents, bickering about who sits where and who pays for what; and most importantly, which grandparents sit with the children while the rest go out and party and the bride and groom have their night alone in their suite.

I think I’ll bring condoms, as three grandkids are quite enough already from this adorable couple. Yep, Circus Circus will be the perfect place for this wedding.

How about you, fellow RFWers? Are any of you hosting/attending a wedding in June? Share your story in the comments...we'd love to know about it. 

Now, if any of you have been around here a while, you know I’m not really a romance reader/writer, though I enjoy romance in novels and movies. Romance in epic fantasy mostly; but I do like some contemporary authors like Nicholas Sparks’ Choices, or the horror variety of Stephen King’s Misery or Lissy’s Story. I've even been known to approve of RomCom movies like Runaway Bride and Life As We Knew It. And anyone who doesn't think Star Wars (especially Episodes 1-3) isn't a romance should seriously watch it again.

And Brokeback Mountain made me cry and laugh and cheer as much as any hetero romance. And its a modern cowboy movie!

But fantasy will always be my favorite genre, and all quests basically begin and end with romance. One of my favorite romantic fantasy novels is Silverthorn, book 3 of the Riftwar Saga, written by Raymond E Feist.

During book 2, Magician Master, the broody Prince Arutha of Crydee is forced into hiding within the unfamiliar catacombs of Krondor with the princess Anita while escaping the genocide attempts of of Duke du bas Tyra.  Arutha is attracted to the young princess mostly as a sense of duty to aid in her protection and the preservation of the royal lineage; and of course she is of marriageable age and station. Not to mention she is beautiful.

But as the months of their refugee status lengthen, and the dangers surrounding their discovery mount, Anita displays a strength of character beyond her years and expectations.  The traits Arutha falls in love with is her ability to show compassion to all in need, regardless of their station or profession, her quick mind in politics and protocol, and her refusal to shirk from any task, no matter how menial. She did not try to command, but she knew how to take charge and speak her mind.

Book three Silverthorn, could fool the reader into thinking it’s a category romance, if you had not already been invested in the characters and the continuing story. The reader does not see the love letters that have been exchanged between Arutha and Anita during the year long separation between book 2 an 3, but much teasing is made of the fact. And as soon as the Royal Fleet makes port in the crown city of Rillanon, Arutha races to ask his true love for her hand in marriage.

Arutha’s brother, King Lyam, consents immediately to the betrothal, and plans are made for the royal family to travel to Krondor, the city that is the center of Arutha’s principality and will be the site of the marriage. Lots of devious story and character plots are explored in the first six chapters, but Chapter Seven is all about the wedding.

Well, not all about the wedding. The young thief Jimmy The Hand is now Squire Jimmy, and most of his duties are to prowl the Thieves Highway (rooftops) and deter any possible criminal activity within or near the castle, and in his prowls on the day of the wedding he comes across a Night Hawk (Assassins Guild) in a protected nook preparing to assassinate Prince Arutha as he takes his wedding vows to Anita.

Being smaller and less skilled in the arts of hand to hand combat, the Night Hawk overpowers Jimmy, ties him up, and basically ignores the young squire as he awaits the perfect time to attack. Meanwhile, the wedding is proceeding as planned. The chief guard is checking security, the bride is having conversations with her ladies, Arutha and Anita have a stolen moment together, King Lyam and Arutha have a short meeting with the Keshian delegates.

The wedding is not just about the pompous ceremony and the newlywed couple; the wedding is a plot point (inciting incident) for the overall story concept. Jimmy is able to break free of his bonds enough to deflect a killing cross bow bolt from striking Arutha, but the poisonous dart embeds into Anita instead. The rest of the story is the quest that takes Arutha and his trusted confederates on a quest to discover the antidote to cure Anita.

Thoroughout the quest, Arutha never forgets his purpose, the ultimate goal of saving his one true love, even as he makes ruthless decisions of who lives, who dies, and whether he is the one to enter the sacred temple to retrieve the antidote, or send another willing companion to possibly die in his stead. Does he eventually win through all the Dark Powers and discover the antidote, bring it back to his princedom, and eventually complete his marriage? Or does the quest continue to book 4, a Darkness at Sethanon? Or perhaps the Prince fails, becoming a bitter old man and leaving room for a secondary character to rise to herodom in the continuing saga.

Guess you have to read the stand alone novel to know how it all ends . .

And that is how I like my romance.

How do you like your romance? Is it all about the love interest and the ultimate wedding and happily ever after? Or do you like romance to contribute to your stories, but whether or not the ending is satisfactory or HEA depends on the story and how invested you are in the character plots?

RFW invites you to submit your romantic Wedding stories; in prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction, published works or original creations, of up to 1000 words, for our June Challenge. Bring on the bride and groom!

Your stories or poems will celebrate the wedding motif, spotlighting anything from the culmination of a long-planned wedding, a sudden elopement to another city/town or a last minute civil ceremony at the local courthouse/registry office; and include anything from the HEA fairy tale ending, to the interrupted "any reason this couple should not be wed."

Or, You may like to treat this theme completely in an opposite way. Always A Bride's Maid/Groom's Man. Our lover could be at the wedding and find their true love - or have the true love declare their love at the wedding of another - or perhaps a long lost lover will show up and propose to a member of the wedding party or a member of the congregation.

For non-fiction authors, you may elect to report on your own wedding, a family member’s wedding, or some other wedding you attended that influenced your perceptions of romance in some way. All the RFW hostesses ask is that you adhere to the same criteria as non-fiction writers and poets.

Or you may like to work through a classic fairy tale story, jazzing it up for the modern day, or twisting it in some way, but of course, there still must be a bride and groom.

It would be very interesting to set your wedding in a foreign country, or a different culture, so we can all learn something new.

So many choices. We can't wait to get underway....


There will be no Featured Writer or Runner Up awards and no voting for people’s choice. However, the co-hosts have agreed that OUR favorite will receive a $5 Amazon gift certificate, and the second place choice will receive a 2 chapter critique from either myself or Denise, winner's choice.

Any genre, any POV, as long as a wedding is imminent, in progress, or just concluded; and one or both of the newlyweds MUST be present in the scene, however briefly.

Specific criteria to win the prize:

 - a bride and/or groom MUST be present in the scene (even if they are not the focus of the scene)
 - setting is the wedding day; the place the wedding will commence or the reception hall
 - time frame is immediately before the wedding (1-2 hours), during the wedding, or during the reception (1-2 hours after the wedding)
 - 1000 word limit (post your word counts with the excerpts)

Linky will open on June 21 and close on June 24 (Australian time). Please add only your direct link to your post this time.

Please return on June 14 for guest author Kate Walker (and a giveaway). Kate has guested at RFW before and this time she will be specifically discussing how she writes about weddings in some of her 61 Mills and Boon novels. A visit to her blog is a treat as you can pick up all sorts of writing craft posts. You can check out Kate's guest post on Romance Writing here and her post on Training Yourself as a Plotter here.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

InLinkz Sign Up for the May Challenge - Letters

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Wednesday 27 March 2013

Driven to Murder Wrap Up Post - SURPRISE AWARDS!

Hello there, Romantic Friday Writers

The stories this month were such a treat, Donna and I can't ignore the opportunity to hand out awards.

I'm sure, like your hosts, you enjoyed reading the varied entries which certainly encapsulated what we had in mind when we set this challenge - the basic challenge was that it was to be a husband/wife or a lover commit murder, and mostly this was highlighted with aplomb.

We've had our usual email discussions re Featured Writer and Runner Up. We both chose the same person for FW, but this person is over word limit, which, actually, *several of you were. However, seeing no one knew this was to be an award challenge (including your hosts) we are not disqualifying anyone this time for being over the word count - we'll allow the academic 10% over - 1100 words.

THEREFORE, AWARDS ANNOUNCED, along with a critique of the stories in the challenge:

NILANJANA: Both of us chose Nilanjana for the FW this month. I love poetry, especially epic poetry, and Nilanjana's poem had it all - the many stanzas had symmetry,  the plot consistently progressed and added tension through each one and the ghosts of the lovers and the plot to kill the king lingered long after their deaths. Dwijen or his lady love may not exist, but they came alive in this powerful tale of self-sacrifice, deceit and...romance. Most of us struggled to find a romantic element...I think Nilanjana managed very well.  An epic tale, even if it was over word count. That second-last stanza was inspired.

CHARMAINE: Charmaine and Sally rivalled for RU. Both had excellent stories. In Charmaine's, the policeman was putting together the plot based on years of experience. The cliche "its always the husband" was used to good effect, showing that just because a theme is well used, it doesn't mean a good writer can't come up with her own twist and make it work. After much splitting of the atom, we voted for Charmaine as the RU this month.  Her writing shone just that little bit more..

SALLY: Sally hit about all the motives too; love, money and power and a touch of revenge all tied together with the wife scheming on the husband's behalf. Sally had a more direct lover's link than Charmaine's story, although as noted above, Charmaine's was the more polished piece of writing. Sally, the Encouragement Award (which is for someone who missed out on RU by a cat's whisker) is for you.


DAWN: Dawn. we really loved the long term plot here; a serial killer in the making due to being jilted by a beautiful, callous, careless lover. All the plot planning was excellent, and the creepy feel was intense. This writing was also a bit unpolished, but it is obvious this is the beginning of a larger writing which could prove very successful as it is refreshingly different. Please take the Highly Commended award Dawn.

And on with the critiques:

ANNA: Anna continued the story of the lover's trio - Emil, Caroline and Romona, but there is no lover's plot -- (accidental death during a lover's quarrel doesn't count), and the plot was about hiding the body and avoiding discovery rather than murdering the lover.  

ROLAND: Roland, grisly scene, and although Claus and Strasser were lovers, it's clear Strasser played no part in the death and there doesn't seem to be a love triangle for a jealous lover/affair to have killed Claus. 

YOLANDA: Yolanda had the required plot to kill the ex-spouse - we loved the twist of the male partnership/black widow theme - but the action was a little clunky, and sometimes the First Person POV can be problematic when the perspective character is to die.Yolanda's story was very last minute so as a result it lacked that final polish, but the story ticked the boxes...creepy as... 

Donna has critiqued both of us...

DONNA: Admits she had some problems with the flow of the story, some things were deleted to keep in word count so the plot looks a bit thrown together - and it was still over.

DENISE: Donna says she liked my husband-did-it murder - she noted a good twist to the plot and adding the Macbeth "out spot" theme was brilliant. Then letting the reader know it was the hubby, setting up the extra-marital lover for the blame; lots of good plotting in that writing.

*WORD COUNTS: Donna counted words on all excerpts (and went by author honesty on those with posted counts):

Dawn: 1053
Roland: 1803 even without the backstory which was considerable
Donna: 1015
Charmaine: 578
Anna: 999
Nilanjana: 1086
Yolanda: 993
Denise: 996
Sally: 1000

.Thank you all for planning, crafting and delivering creative stories for our March challenge.

Now onto our April Challenge...or lack of April Challenge. Some of you will be disappointed, some of you will be relieved...but after much "Yes, we will, No we won't, Yes, we will.." Donna and I have gone with "No, we won't". We've been around the A-Z Challenge long enough to know that those of you who are participating will be frazzled enough without planning a story for RFW. This is the first year I won't be committing to the challenge, but I will be happy to support you in your endeavours.

My plans are to have my novel submitted by the end of April and Donna has a lot of critique work to do, plus she really wants to get back to her own writing which has taken a back seat for sometime.

So...we will be back with a bang on Wednesday May 1st. We will post the Inlinkz sign up for our May Challenge -- Letters. Most of us will have letters of the alphabet on our minds during April, whether writing to the letter of the day or commenting. RFWer's Letters will be a little different.

LETTERS will be the central theme of our new challenge. You can use letters any way you like.

Multi-generic writing is popular ATM, probably always has been. Multi-generic writing includes embedding other text types within your prose/poetry. Within prose you could add letter/s to/from lovers, letters could form the bulk of your story. You could add other text forms  -- death certificate, diary entries, appointment calendars, a found note..be as creative as you want!  Your entry will be a free-flowing story interspersed with whispers from the lives of the lovers. A poetic entry could be interspersed with the same type of texts -- let your imagination have free rein.


*One of the lovers may have gone away - to work, to war, has left the relationship, wants time out...
* Someone has been left at home - fretting, upset, determined to save the relationship, determined to have revenge
* Perhaps one of the lovers wants a holiday by themselves, (not unusual these days), and the one left at home is furious, feels unloved, or relieved to have some time out too

These are scenarios that just pop into my head. Your entry may use all/none of these suggestions. It is your story, your way, your era...just let's go back to a romantic element in whatever form we write for this challenge.

The Timeline will be -- Inlinkz Submit List will be posted on May 1st. You will have until May 24th to post your story.

If you're participating in the A-Z Challenge, please tell us in the comments and we will try to visit you.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

#RomanticFridayWriters March Challenge - Sign Up here - Driven to Murder

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Monday 4 March 2013

How to write a murder mystery, by Charmaine Clancy

I've been following along with writing prompts from Romantic Friday Writers to learn more about adding a little romance to my stories. I'm learning a lot from fellow RFW members, so I was very humbled when Denise invited me to share what I know about mystery writing. Thanks so much for having me here today! I hope what I have to share will help you write that murder for the March challenge.

I've been working on a mystery series for kids, and love reading crime fiction. If I was to pick one element of mystery writing that is essential (and writers sometimes overlook), it would be motive. 

Motive is essential because we need to know why the killer was willing to risk everything to commit murder. It is usually the undoing of the criminal, once the detective figures out motive the rest is just comes down to proof. To make it trickier for the detective, every suspect should have a strong motive.

Motive drives every decision and action for your characters. So why did the killer stab Old-man Hubbard in the library with scissors? Is it the struggling writer who received a bad review? The fashion-designer wife who will lose everything in a divorce because of the pre-nupt? Or the wife's lover, too passionate to control his jealousy?

Motive is not just for suspects. The detective needs a strong motive to solve the case. They may face danger, so the motive needs to keep them going, especially if they're an amateur sleuth and not employed to reveal the murderer. Do they need to prove their own innocence, like in The Fugitive?

Here's a few of the top motives, can you think of others?
  • Greed - character is usually seen following the money.
  • Power/Fame - this character is all about control.
  • Fear - possibly through paranoia or perhaps the threat is real.
  • Protection - someone the character cares about is at risk.
  • Revenge - driven by anger, bitterness.
  • Passion - love is the motivator and perhaps it's unrequited or there is a love triangle.
  • Blackmail - this character has a shady past they want to keep hidden.
  • Shame - this character acts through a sense of being unworthy.
  • Faith - even if it is misguided, it can be powerful enough to push a character.
  • A Rush - wild and untamed, this character comes across as spoilt.
Once again, thank you for having me on Romantic Friday Writers - happy writing!

Brisbane author Charmaine Clancy loves to create characters for mystery, fantasy and adventure.

Visit Charmaine's blog.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Fan Fiction Wrap Up Post - A - Z Challenge - Announcing March challenge - Driven to Murder

Hi RFWers and friends!Sorry

Sorry this blog has been a bit of a black hole, but both Donna and I have been flat out with our writing, and I have had visitors. I've blogged about one of the interesting workshops I attended yesterday on Plotting. You might like to have a read. It was excellent.

Nas Dean, Myself, Charmaine Clancy (RFWer) and Jillanne Harrison (writing group member)
All Plotting!

Now onto our fan fiction...This was one of the most challenging challenges yet, I think, and judging by the comment stream under the sign up, many of you agree with me. It wasn't that easy to choose a couple, then write a fan fiction piece. Most of us had never attempted it before. Once I'd written my Heathcliff monologue, I checked the fan fiction site to find that there are well over 100 fan fiction pieces for Wuthering Heights. Impressive.

Maybe I chose the easy way out by writing Heathcliff, one of the best-known wacky lovers in classic history.  But I loved your takes on Gone With The Wind, (Linda, Yolanda), Lord of the Rings (Donna), Twilight (Rek, N R Williams ), Arthurian Legends (Sally), Anime (Dawn Embers), Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (Charmaine ), Selma Lagerlof's Gosta Berlings saga (Anna), the Mahabharata (Nilanjana), Pride and Prejudice (Erin Kane Spock), 80's Hindi movie, Ek Duuje Ke Liye (Janu). (I'm always worried I've missed someone out--if I have inadvertently done so, please let me know in the comments.) 

I loved learning the stories from other cultures--this challenge was all about what is classic all over the world--and you delivered. I was thoroughly entertained. How about you?


How many of you are participating in the A - Z Challenge? Donna and I are tossing ideas back and forth regarding an April challenge. The jury's still out on whether we will offer a challenge or not. If you want to massage it to fit a daily post for the A - Z Challenge, go for it. It'll probably be around the S. Please leave a comment and let us know.


Anyone up for a bit of murder and mayhem; the intrigues of conspiracy and betrayal, either for political gain, money, or even - true love? RFW invites all stories of pose or poetry, up to 1000 words, with the theme that pays homage to the Roman God Mars (Greek equivalent Ares), patron of war and agriculture. Mars is depicted as a cold and impersonal God, caring more for the battle itself than the outcome.

To honor Mars (March) your characters will plot and/or implement a deceitful act under the guise of love. We're looking for motives; what does the lover hope to gain by the nefarious or altruistic act. We want to see themes of vengeance, manipulation, self sacrifice.

Any POV, any genre; just be sure your MCs are in love and have a self serving reason for the plotted course of action.

The linky will go up on Monday, 4th March, giving you 3 weeks to plan/publish your story. The instant sign up worked last month, except for a couple of peeps who ran out of time. Usually it is quite easy to delete your link by hitting the little cross against your name. This saves readers the frustration of clicking on an entry that isn't there! Otherwise, send me a request to delete your name from the list. (I don't like to do it without your permission!)

Tuesday 5 February 2013

RomanticFridayWriters FEBRUARY Challenge - Fan Fiction - Sign up now!

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Monday 28 January 2013

NEW YEAR-NEW LOVE WRAP UP...and new challenge announced - WE LOVE LOVERS!

Hello my lovelies!

First off a big thank you to all who participated in RFW's first Challenge of 2013, New Year-New Love. This challenge was about moving forward; leaving a relationship or life that wasn't panning out, and opening our MC to the realm of possibility. I admit when I came up with this concept I was thinking along the chic-lit lines of boldly re-entering the dating world and taking all the opportunities by storm.

I was more than a little impressed with the unique directions the authors ventured into: a couple of life after death renewals, a death as a new beginning, a warning to avoid death with a new life abroad, acceptance of the inevitable, a trip to the past to view the beginning, and a few totally new and unexpected beginnings.

Overall, I think each entry reached the goal of forward movement, as even when our characters were looking into the past, they were learning from the experiences and committing to a new future.  Well done on capturing the theme.

Moving forward into February's Challenge, I'm sure you can guess RFW will be looking for true romance. But not just Any romance; we want you to write a fan-fiction involving your FAVORITE romance couples. As examples: Heathcliffe/Kathy, Rhett/Scarlett, Edward/Bella, Christian/Anastasia, Mr Darcy/Elizabeth, Rick/Ilsa, Jack/Rose, Katniss/Peeta...ad infinitum.

Some of you may be asking "what the heck is fan-fiction?"  I had to do a little research to familiarize myself with this writing style myself. According to Wikipedia: "Works of fan fiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work's owner, creator, or publisher; also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this, many stories often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the work owns none of the characters."

Media scholar Henry Jenkins explains in his article on Transmedia Storytelling: The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might be seen as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. Readers, thus, have a strong incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own. Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader's desire to "fill in the gaps"

The Urban Dictionary describes fan fiction as: ". . when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it." (Perhaps think of the many takes on the Cinderella story.) And as: "Fiction written by fans for other fans about the fandoms that they like. Usually the author takes the characters and/or the setting of the fandom and writes a new or continuing plot."


For February's Challenge, your hosts invite authors to write up to 1000 words of fanfiction involving your favorite romance couple from TV, movie, literature or historical accounts. Remember; your post MUST include a credit/link back to the original author/creator of the characters. Your link can be: a movie/book trailer, link to a purchasing site for the novel, magazine article or other author interview in which the characters are described by the originating author, wiki or IMB article; or anything that gives full credit to the creator.

Do your own research on fanfiction if needed, (the most famous recent example is Shades of Gray which is a fan fiction piece based on Edward and Bella from Twilight),  but aside from the linking requirement and 1k word count; anything goes, well...nearly anything.

If you have further questions regarding this prompt, leave a comment on this post, as it may help others who are wondering about the same thing. Of course, you are welcome to email Denise and Donna any time.

Have fun with the WE LOVE LOVERS challenge. The linky will open tentatively Wednesday, February 6, and close Sunday Feb 17 (Aussie time).