Tag Archives: romance writings

Baking Day

Anyone following my blog will know that as of the 2nd March this year [2016] I have been living in the south of France.

I retired from my 45 year career in the field of commercial credit management at the end of January and decided it was time for a sea change. As my personal circumstances changed at the same time it seemed logical to leave Australia that has been my home for the past 28 years and return to Europe.

Although I have been writing on a part-time basis, mostly as a hobby on an as and when I have time basis I have now decided to turn my hand to writing full-time. However with my move to Europe has also come a period of adjustment. For a start I am temporarily living with my mum and elder sister in their flat at Golfe Juan located close to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. It’s a wonderful part of the world and the view from their apartment is spectacular. The view across the Mediterranean Sea is breath-taking. There is always so much to see – huge cruise ships on the horizon, exotic yachts of every size entering and exiting the port of Camille Rayon, sailing boats filling their sails as they skim across the bay of Le Golfe Juan, and occasionally, as moments ago, a show of fire fighting seaplanes practicing their skills in the event of the return of the bush fire season.

Fire Fighter Planes 002 Fire Fighter Planes 006 Fire Fighter Planes 009

Apart from carrying out a bit of research for my next book and a short blog from time to time I haven’t done much writing. My excuse is that I am unable to concentrate. I have bought a flat but I don’t finalise exchange until 7th June 2016, and I am waiting until I move in before I dedicate the lion’s share of my time to writing.

Until then I am killing time playing scrabble with my mother [a note on this: mum is 91 years old, has limited vision due to macular degeneration, but when it comes to playing Bridge and Scrabble she is champion]. I do manage to win sometimes though.

I have also spent time reading – never have I read so many books in such a short time – I have been averaging two to three a month depending on the book. In addition I have completed a hundred or so crosswords and I have been watching endless TV quiz shows… in French: It is a great way to improve my language skills. French isn’t my first language although I have known it since my youth – I am more comfortable with Italian and English [obviously], but since I have chosen to live in France it only seems sensible to improve my mastery of French.

So onto Baking Day…. As another diversion to keep me occupied I have offered on a few occasions to offer to cook for my family. I have prepared omelette; meatballs in a tomato sauce served with pasta; Ivory Coast Beef with rice; a salad or two, and today I experimented in preparing a fruit tart: a first for me. There were some cherries, grapes, a few prunes, and a couple of nectarines looking sad in the fridge. My sister suggested we have a fruit salad, but I said I would do something better. So this morning I nipped down the road to a local Spar supermarket and bought some short crust pastry then returned home to attack the fruit.

The photos speak for themselves [yes that’s me, Koala apron included]:

Baking Day 010616 001 Baking Day 010616 002

Ready for the oven:                                        Baked:

Baking Day 010616 006  Baking Day 010616 009

Presentation:            And of course, ready for eating:

Baking Day 010616 010  Baking Day 010616 011

Served with custard it was quite good – not bad for a first attempt.

I expect the next time I cook anything will be at my new flat.

It’s an exciting prospect.

RLB – Tomewriter


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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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