Monthly Archives: June 2012

Was Shakespeare a woman?

Which ever site you visit when wanting to know about Romance Writings, they all more or less show that 98% of writers of Romance Novels are women. How many of that percentage are actually men using a woman’s name as a pseudonym or nom de plume [pen name] your guess is as good as mine. Believe me I have tried to find out without much success – perhaps I didn’t look hard enough. The one thing which is certain however is that romance novels are in huge demand – according to reports made by Romance Writers of America romance novels make up for 13.5%  of the consumer market.

Certain members of my writers group knowing I write romance fiction,  had suggested I should join Romance Writers of Australia  [ www.romanceaustralia.com ] . When I visited their website however and viewed their list of authors I saw not one male name and was therefore dubious about joining. I was reassured by them however that they did indeed have male authors using female names, so I joined.

Is there truly a stigma about using a male name when writing romance? Do women really believe that a man cannot write about romance or is it that publishers and editors have let this abnormality happen? In real life, isn’t it the man who romances the woman? If it’s the other way around, society tends to look down on the woman for being so forward? Sad don’t you think?

I have always loved the movie “Paperback Hero”starring Hugh Jackman as Road train driver, Jack Willis, who drives his truck and writes romance fiction at the same time. However, he writes under the pen name Ruby Vale [Claudia Karvan] his best friend. It’s only when the book is a huge success that the fun starts – Ruby is thrown into a world of glamour, TV appearances and book signings – a nightmare until Jack comes to the rescue by owning up to being the real author.

And there lies the dilemma – it’s fine to write under a female pseudonym, but what happens when the author has to reveal himself or should I say herself when they are a success? I’ll worry about that if I’m ever so lucky as to get published under my own female pseudonym Louise Roberts.

Meanwhile, let me get back to my original question: Was Shakespeare a woman?

If in present times men have to write under female names to have romance titles published, did female authors of the past have to write under male names to achieve the same?

Mary Anne Evans [1819-1880] certainly did so, as she is better known as George Eliot. One wonders therefore when the Romantic Movement of Artistic, Literary, and intellectual thinking came to being in the late 18th century were the authors and poets of the time really women? Perhaps William Blake [1757-1827] was not whom we are all led to believe. And what of the Lake Poets: William Wordsworth [1770-1850], Samuel Taylor Coleridge [1772-1834], Robert Southey [1774-1843] were they also women?

It saddens me to believe that women regard men only capable of reading children’s comics, car brochures, fishing guides, sports pages and pornography. Are men truly only thought of as Neanderthal as way of insult to lack of emotion and/or intelligence? Ironically Neanderthal man [and woman] had larger brains than modern man [and woman], was taller and stronger, intelligent and, contrary to earlier beliefs, not purely carnivorous. In recent studies in the USA [2010] researchers discovered the remains of cooked vegetables in the teeth of a Neanderthal skull – so who ever said our ancestors weren’t intelligent?

I’m straying, sorry, I do tend to do this a fair bit so I’ll sign off for now …..

RLB – Tomewriter

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Love Story?

What is ‘Love’ ? You can love a dog, a cat, a goldfish. You can love chocolate, the movies, a car, a holiday. You can love your mum, dad, sisters, brothers, extended family. So what’s the difference about ‘Love’ in a ‘Love Story’?

When you read through the submission guidelines of most Romance Story Publishers a love story must consist of a “Hero” and “Heroine” from start to finish which, in life sometimes it does happen in such a way, but there are exceptions to this rule. This is a requirement which I have difficulty in accepting. I believe a person can “love” more than one person at the same time. Most of us do so anyway – As I said in my first paragraph we can all love family, friends – whoever – at the same time. So why are we limited in Romance books to only love one person?

In my novel Beneath Southern Stars which begins at the latter end of 1799 and spreads over about 8 years, Sarah is seventeen years old [I had to age her by two years from when I originally created the character because several critics believed she was too young to fall in love – humbug!!] and daughter of a widowed seamstress. She begins a friendship with Peter of similar age and son to a wealthy land owner. Their relationship is bound to fail, especially when his father discovers the ‘courtship’. Through his malicious tactics Peter’s father has Sarah convicted of prostitution and is condemned to serve her sentence at a penal colony in New South Wales and to ensure his ‘foolhardy’ son doesn’t try to ‘save’ her, he has him commissioned into the Navy to serve in Nova Scotia.

“Love” however is a powerful emotion which cannot be extinguished overnight. Peter will do everything in his power to try to find Sarah again. Sarah on the other hand feels betrayed, and although ‘love’ is temporarily questioned, she does not give up on this human emotion.

On board the ship she is transported on is an eighteen year old marine, named John. His first time at sea, having followed in his father’s footsteps into such a career. His own relationship to Ann has come to a bitter end once she has learnt of his posting; and although heartbroken he too does not give up on “Love”.

It is inevitable, in such a close environment and in similar circumstances that Sarah and John become friends. It is well documented in several books written about the First Fleet to New South Wales in 1788 about the relationships and abuses which occurred aboard transport ships between crew and convicts. However in Beneath Southern Stars my two characters are more gentle and loving with their friendship. Do not forget they are two young people away from their home and loved ones finding themselves in such a predicament can only bring them together.

John and Sarah do become romantically involved, but it’s more than that. Their common situation forms a strong bond between them so that by the time they reach Sydney Cove they are married.

I shan’t give much more away at this stage. You can read the full synopsis later on, but what I will say that contrary to some publishers’ beliefs, love can be shared. Although Sarah has a full and loving relationship with John, deep in her heart she always holds a fond memory of Peter. For Peter this will be to his advantage when destiny reunites them several years in the future.

I hope you will have patience with me as I learn to manoeuvre around this Blog site. I shall be adding some more pages which I shall be dedicating to each of my Author Pen Names.

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Hawkesbury River Writers

As I said in my introduction I became a member of Hawkesbury River Writers in February 2009. Since joining this fine organisation I believe my writing style and content has vastly improved. As all are accomplished writers and at least a few published authors in our ranks the knowledge and suggestions which is offered is invaluable.

Hawkesbury River Writers [www.hrw.org.au] meet once a month [the first Thursday] at the Club on the Hawkesbury, Mooney Mooney, NSW – a lovely part of our State – and once we get over the initial business formalities we get down to what we are best at – Writing.

One of the exercises which we have recently introduced at our meetings is “Circular Writing”; where each member writes either a line or a complete sentence and then the sheet of paper is passed to the writer sitting next to him/her – either clockwise or anti-clockwise it doesn’t matter which. Then a new line is written beneath the first, and so on until your original line comes back to you and we stop. The “story” is then read out. Some of the results have been hilarious, whilst others may suggest members are in need of serious help [only joking – I don’t wish to offend anyone]. Take a look – check out the website [as above] click on newsletters and have  look at the most recent issue.

We also set ourselves a “Prompt” which can either be 100 words on a pre-agreed title, or up to 750 words also on a pre-agreed title. We have until the next meeting to produce this work, which is then read out at the meeting. For an example the following prompt was called “Down the Lane” – I chose to express it in the form of a poem [please note the copyright – if you would like to print it off or copy it I don’t mind just as long as you ask me first]:

Down The Lane

 Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2010

 Down the lane I laugh and skip

The day is warm and bright.

Trees are filled with birds in song,

As I approach they soon take flight.

 

The lane is only dirt and dust.

I feel happy, filled with joy.

There’s grass aplenty on either side;

To tumble and play like a small boy.

 

The laughter soon fades away,

As I stumble on a rut and trip.

Tears flow freely from my eyes,

As pain rips through my hip.

 

What was I thinking? I ask myself.

To believe I had no fear.

I’m almost sixty, for goodness sake!

I should never have drunk all that beer.

Well I thought it was funny ! In addition to the prompts we set ourselves an in-house writing competition usually up to 1000 words (sometimes more) which is to an agreed genre. It could be an article, a fiction or non-fiction story. Entries are submitted and are distributed anonymously for voting. Our aim is Readability. The winner is announced at the meeting following voting.

In addition to our in-house activities, a writing competition is held annually to non-members for which a cash prize is offered to the winning entries.

The meetings are thoroughly enjoyable and constructive. Why else would we attend? More so remain members for many years. I am proud to be it’s present President, and although I had wanted to step down this year to give someone else an opportunity, in a way I’m glad no one else took up the offer and so I remain at the helm.

RLB – Tomewriter

 

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Day Job

As much as I would like to be a full time Author, unfortunately it hasn’t given me a living; so until I am lucky enough to find a publisher willing to take on my novels, I have a full time job. Presently this is with a large Fast Moving Consumer Goods [FMCG] manufacturer based in Epping New South Wales. For my sins I am responsible for ensuring claims received into the company are promptly actioned by various key personnel in the organisation. By trade, I am a qualified senior credit controller [senior in experience, as well as in years], but unlike chasing customers for money [a task which is a delight to do] I am having to chase my colleagues to sign off on claims [not an easy task].

Anyway, I shan’t bore you with the details as I am just as likely to fall asleep writing about it, as you would be reading about it.

Just a word to those readers who are in their last years of school – beware about taking a year out before University and/or TAFE [Technical College].  Try not to fall into the same trap as me [and perhaps others like me] who decided to do just that and start up a job for a year. I had a place to read Geology – my favourite subject [other than English Language, English Literature and History that is] at a University in South Wales [UK], but once I started earning and was able to buy my first car [an Austin Mini 850cc –  like Mr Bean’s only mine was blue], buying nice clothes and going out I saw no ambition to go back to studying. Ironically I started working with an American oil company based in South London as a Credit Controller. 40 years on I’m still doing the same sort of work – ouch!! So be warned – it’s best to finish with all studying before getting a job you’ll regret – I would have much preferred to have been a Seismologist working for an oil company.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Time to blog

Thought it was time that I too joined the world of blogging. In a way I’ve already been doing it for years if you count Facebook as a type of blogging or writing rubbish in my journals to get my thoughts on paper – which I suppose is blogging – to myself. The main reason for starting a blog however is to get my writings noticed. One of the things you tend to see alot when going through the submission requirements of many third party publishers [particularly e-publishers] is their insistence that their authors have a blog up and running to self promote their writings.

So who am I – Well my name is Robert L J Borg. I was born in Alexandria, Egypt in August 1951 to British parents by Maltese descent, the second of three children. Following the Suez Crisis in November 1956 my parents were compelled to abandon their assets and home, and leave the country as refugees. I grew up and was educated in London, England and have always held a passion for history and writing, mostly poetry. At the age of twenty, a poem, Despair in Blindness, written by me was included in an anthology entitled “Contemporary Poets of 1971” published by Regency Press Ltd, London. The same poem was later adopted and translated in Braille by the Royal Society of the Blind. In recognition for this work I was honoured by having a guide dog, a German shepherd, named after me. It was this small gesture which fuelled my passion in writing. In 1988 I immigrated to Australia. Six years later I began writing adult fiction. I have written two novels Beneath Southern Stars written under the pen name “Louise Roberts” and The Sword and the Rose as “Alexander Grant”. Both are Historical Dramas with romantic interludes. My only other completed work, a non-fiction history book entitled Smithy’s War, was self-published in 2005 as a limited print, sold mainly to friends for donations to Cancer Research. A few copies were donated to libraries: The National Library, State Library of NSW, Parliamentary Library, and Sydney University. Also my local library at Hornsby, NSW was given a copy as I had spent most of my time there conducting research. I am currently writing a third novel Elena and as well as my memoirs. In 2009 I became a member of Hawkesbury River Writers (HRW) and in February 2011 was elected President of the group, now in my second term. I recently became a member of Romantic Writers of Australia Inc.

Well it’s 9.30pm Sydney time – it’s been a long day, so will call it a night and will resume Blogging some other time.

RLB

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