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600pix-heart-shape-multicolored-standDo you need some romance in your life? (plus local literary info)

It’s not just boy meets girl or girl meets girl or boy meets boy, but that’s part of it. Romantic novels are ‘romantic’ in a wider sense. We’re just past Valentine’s Day and this month sees the shortlists for the awards for romantic fiction. It is the best-selling type of fiction and there are nine categories rewarding different areas of the genre. Angela J. Phillip reports. Romantic fiction has adapted to the changing views of the times. Feminism was once slightly frowned upon in the romantic novel, but even in Mills and Boon stories (where the content is formulaic and the parameters are strictly prescribed) the protagonist usually has a career these days or at the very least, she aspires to one (see Surprise Baby below). Constantly regarded as low-brow, it is a mistake to pass over romantic fiction. The writers are frequently excellent. They have to be or the readers would not queue up for their books. There is obviously something abiding in the allure of romantic fiction that causes readers (and usually female readers)  to constantly seek out these novels. As readers, we are all the same – we are reading to experience and learn so that we survive and manage our lives better. So what does romantic mean?  Here are a few definitions plucked selectively from different dictionaries. The meaning of romantic ‘A romantic play, film or story describes or represents a love affair.’ (Collins Cobuild) ‘conducive to or characterized by the expression of love’ (Oxford) ‘exciting and mysterious and having a strong effect on your emotions’ (Cambridge Dictionary) ‘marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized’ (Merriam Webster) The first two definitions are ones we can easily recognise but the 3rd and 4th definitions explain why romantic novels sell so well. We have all (hopefully, all) experienced a love affair and most of us will have experienced the trauma of a broken relationship. It is a universal problem with no easy answers so that’s why we turn to stories to find empathetic characters with whom we can identify and find out how they cope. A good definition of the genre is as follows: Romance genre (…) is a type of fiction, comprising idealized love, chivalry, obsessive association with somebody or some idea, and mysterious adventures.  (literarydevices.net) 220pix-neena gillHere are three romance novels picked from the shortlists. The Million Pieces of Nina Gill by Emma Smith-Barton It’s about a girl whose life falls apart so that she almost goes crazy and it’s love that helps put it back together again. Nina is relatable (the most desirable adjective for any reader to use when describing a character), and the story is uplifting (something we all want from a novel). The author grew up in Wales. 220pix-Surprise baby Surprise Baby for the Heir by Ellie Darkins ‘One night with a gorgeous stranger is the perfect distraction for Elspeth from the happy-ever-after that will never be hers. The trainee doctor and carer has no room in her life for romance, until a surprise pregnancy catapults her back into Fraser’s world… She soon discovers that the man whose touch she can’t forget is a laird and the baby she’s carrying is heir to a Scottish castle!’ (novel description from Amazon) 220pix-Brighton guest house girlsThe Brighton Guest House Girls by Lesley Eames Set next door to us in Brighton, a place many of you know well, this is a tale of female friendship where the girls look after each other in adversity. As you might guess, they set up a guest house, but the ending is not what you might expect. If you would like to explore more romance novels of various kinds, please see the full shortlists  Romantic novels awards shortlists revealed ) The Million Pieces of Nina Gill (2019) by Emma Smith-Barton Surprise Baby for the Heir (2019) by Ellie Darkins The Brighton Guest House Girls (2019) by Lesley Eames If possible, please buy the books at the Independent Bookshops listed in the section below. top image – Simon Matzinger at pexels.com book covers – Amazon ……………………………………………………… News & Events Congratulations to Marcia Woolf on becoming the new Chair of Hastings Writers’ Group. Marcia is a published writer of crime novels and short stories. She is a founding member of Hastings Literary Festival. Thursday 20th February 6 pm – Sheer Poetry at Bookbuster’s 39 Queens Rd, Hastings £3 on the door Saturday 22 February 5 – 7 pm Dhanmondi Road by R.H. Young at Bookbuster’s 39 Queens Rd, Hastings 220pix-Dhanmondi Road coverThe year is 1973. The Bangladesh war of independence is over but the country remains in chaos. Gareth McKinley, a young Australian arrives in the country to work on a project set up to care for destitute children. He quickly learns that living and working in a post war environment can be dangerous. A crisis emerges when some children involved in the project cannot be accounted for. Does the explanation lie in a mysterious letter that seems to have been sent from Dubai? Dhanmondi Road sensitively captures the atmosphere of a country in turmoil and charts Gareth’s progress towards increasing self knowledge and awareness in ways he could not have dreamed of before setting out on this journey. Thursday 12th March 7 pm – Write Night – A Writer’s Journey with Sam Dvey and Chrissy Hamar-Brown hosted by Wayne Herbert on behalf of New Writing South Tickets £5/£3 see details Wednesday 1 April  6 – 7.30 pm Reading & music from Clive Parker-Sharp’s novel ConeBoy at Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG Coming soon – Staglit Tuesdays at the Stag Inn in the Old Town 6.30 – 8.30 pm  Monthly . Starting date TBA (previously announced as starting in April but taking time to set up). This is a chance for writers to read short extracts from their work and sell their books – and for readers to listen & comment. If you are interested in attending these events and/ or you would like to read from your work, please contact Angie angelajphillip@mail.com and you will be included on the email list. CALL FOR EVENTS INFO – please contact me directly if you would like your event to be included in the HOT weekly Bookchat column. Please write to Angie angelajphillip@mail.com ………………………………………….. Writing Competitions

Short Story

Hastings Writers’ Room. Theme Misrepresentation (1,500 words) deadline 30 April 2020. Fee £6. First prize Gold membership of Retreat West (worth £100). Please check rules and conditions at Hastings Writers’ Room

Early Works Press. Short Story competition. Entry fee £5 per story up to 4000 words. £10 for over 4000. Maximum 8000 words. £200 first prize. Deadline 31 October 2020. Please check rules and conditions at Earlyworks Press.

Flash Fiction

Hastings Writers’ Room. Flash fiction five/ twenty-nine – submit FIVE stories, each with max 29 words, deadline 31 May 2020. Fee £7 for five stories. First prize Gold membership of Retreat West or cash alternative £100. Please check rules and conditions at Hastings Writers’ Room Early Works Press. Flash Fiction competition 2020. Max 100 words. Deadline 30 August 2020. First prize £100. Please check rules and conditions at Earlyworks Press. ……………………………………………… Writers’ Groups Hastings Writers’ Group meet fortnightly on Mondays 7.30 – 9.30 pm at the White Rock Hotel. Membership is subject to vacancies and costs £80 per yr (or £40 per half year). For more details please see the website. St Leonard’s Writers  meet on Wednesdays 1 – 3 pm at St Ethelburga Church in St Saviours Rd. There is a small joining fee and weekly contribution (see website for details). Contact person: David Edwards admin@stleonardswriters.com For more details please see the website stleonardswriters.com Shorelink Writers meet most Monday evenings between September and July  in the Tesco Community Room, Tesco Extra, Churchwood Drive, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 9RB. Small donation for each meeting. Membership is subject to vacancy so please get in touch first. Contact sallygard@gmail.com / roland.gardner@gmail.com For more details, please see the website. The Literary Shed Writing Circle Weekly. Thursday, 10–12. Café sessions free. Workshop: £8 Contact: Aruna – e: aruna@theliteraryshed.co.uk Old Town Writing Group meet Wednesdays 4 – 6 pm in The Stag Inn, All Saints St, Hastings Old Town. Free. For more details, please see the website. CALL FOR WRITING GROUPS & BOOKGROUPS TO GET IN TOUCH – Do get in touch if you would like your group to be listed each week in this Bookchat column. Please write to Angie angelajphillip@mail.com ……………………………….. Bookshops Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings Go to Bookbuster’s Facebook page to see more. Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG Please see Facebook page for more details of these and other events. The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards Come and look at the Bookkeeper Bookshop Facebook page to see more. The Hare & Hawthorn Bookshop 51 George St, Hastings Old Town For more information see the Hare & Hawthorn Facebook page .………………………………… 600pix-AJP-sky banner-squashed Hi there – as you can see  from the above, I’ve still got the same banner as last week. No time to think about changing it. The Big Happiness-Book-220pixAnd here it still is – the proof copy of The Big Happiness. I’ve now finished proof-reading it and it’s ready for me to press the big publish button. But I’m not going to do that yet. I’m going to release the four completed Dani books all at once so I’m busy going through book 2 Getting left behind. When I’ve finished, I’ll send off for a proof copy of that and upload it so that you can see what it looks like. I’ve investigated my book size question. Have a look at what I discovered: Is your book the right size? I’m still mulling over the other questions I posted here last week. I shall post thoughts on these on my website. Which two genres do I choose? (I discovered that this is a BISAC Code question.) What about keywords? How do I write good blurb? As I’ve been proof-reading, I’ve been thinking about characterisation. About how important it is. More important than plot. We all need a lovable main character, so the first thing we need to do is this – we need to love her. Madly. Deeply. Truly. Have a look at my thoughts on Creating a lovable main character. Thank you to those of you who have signed up for the Newsletter. If you haven’t, I would be so pleased if you did. Please see: https://angelajphillip.com The Newsletter signup form is on the right-hand side as you scroll down. Comments and suggestions on anything and everything are always welcome. Thanks so much for reading. Angie Angela J. Phillip

Posted 09:00 Tuesday, Feb 18, 2020 In: Hastings Bookchat

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