Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts

Sunday 7 February 2016

A Few Prize Opportunities...

It was a busy week so I missed writing my Thursday post, so you'll be getting 2 for 1 today. :-)

If you are a young woman writer who writes articles, then you may be interested in the Cassandra Jardine Memorial Prize that was launched in 2013 in memory of the Telegraph journalist, who sadly died from cancer in 2012.

When it was launched in 2013 it opened to women aged between 18 and 25. The prize is seeking "creativity and potential in an original feature article."

If you're interested pop along to the Telegraph's Lifestyle section here, and check the criteria for entry, and what you're aiming for.

You can follow their link to read last year's winning entry.

Closing date: 31st March 2016.

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If you read my blog regularly you'll know one of my annual features is the Diagram Prize shortlisted titles.

Odd book titles are suggested by readers, and could make the shortlist...

Well here is your opportunity to suggest an odd book title for consideration. You can either send your recommendations by email or on Twitter using the #DiagramPrize hashtag. Find out who to email or tweet to in this Bookseller article.

The shortlist will be unveiled 26th February, so there isn't long to make your odd title suggestions.

Self-published titles are eligible too.

But remember, the titles "must be unwittingly odd, not deliberately so."

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Now, I need to get back to that short story-it's almost finished, a few final tweaks and it will be ready to go out into the world. I'll update you on my progress later in the week... :)

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Competition- 500 Words for Write for Elle...

Thanks to the Facebook page of the Romantic Novelists Association, I saw the link for the write for Elle competition.

Elle is a glossy monthly magazine you're guaranteed to find on the shelves of your local newsagents and supermarkets. Like many of its competitors it has a strong online and social media presence too.

So for the seventh year of this competition, they want a 500 word piece inspired by the hashtag  #RelationshipGoals so who the relationship is with that matters to you, and what you want from it, all that is up to you.

The competition opened 6th August and closes just before midnight on the 10th September.

Submission is by email and you'll find the link for the address to send it to on the competition information page, here.

Entries will be judged by an editorial team from Elle, and the remainder of the judging panel will be made up by author Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), and novelist Kate Mosse.

Now to the prizes. The winner's piece will be published in the January 2016 issue of Elle under your own name, and you also win a Smythson monogrammed Dukes manuscript book (worth £135) - as do the remaining four finalists. There's no actual cash involved...

As with any writing competition there are terms and conditions you need to be aware of.

The winning entry may be edited "at the sole discretion of the ELLE editorial team" and "by entering this competition you consent to this and grant Hearst an exclusive licence in and to your work, in perpetuity."

The wordage is a little unclear, and I'd want clarification of whether the exclusivity is just with the winning entry, or every entry submitted (I'd suspect the latter, but I'd like to be surprised).

And whether they're 'in and to your work, in perpetuity' ONLY applies to the 500 word piece, and not any other potential articles for the magazine?

Don't forget to read the full competitions on the blue highlighted link further down the instructions page too.

Finally, you need to be over 18, resident of the UK and Ireland, not had material published by Elle or on and the piece submitted must not have been previously published.

If you enter, good luck...

Monday 16 April 2012

Scarred Baddies Are a Stereotype...

Late last week there was an item in a few of the newspapers about stereotyping in movies of those with facial disfigurement- scars indicate a baddie.

If you are interested in the campaign to change this attitude, then you'll find the BBC News article here and the Changing Faces website here, where you can watch their short film that is being shown in 750 cinemas across the UK.

But it got me thinking about how disfigured people are viewed in romantic fiction.

In the classic, Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester is injured and blinded in a fire. Apart from his intention to commit bigamy by marrying Jane, while his first wife is still alive and locked up for her own safety, he's not seen as a baddy, he's just a man in an impossible situation.

In an historical romance context there are going to be scarred heroes and minor villains...

Before guns, men used swords, and in a fight or a battle if you didn't die from the vicious sword wound you'd probably die from blood poisoning. And if you did survive there would be scars- yes they would fade a little in time, but they would still be visible.
Wounds would be sewn with a needle and thread, and the neatness of the scar would depend on how good the doctor (or whoever was doing the stitching up) was with their stitches...

No doubt there were people in past times who turned away from those who suffered disfigurement, or heavy scarring, just as many still do now days.

Certainly in some of the American historical romances I've read over the years, the heroine drags the scarred and/or disabled hero back into the light, and back into society by the healing power of her love.

The baddies in these stories often lack scars, in fact they look just like anyone else- they can even be women!

So no cinema stereotypes there, quite the opposite in fact...

Friday 16 March 2012

Costume Heaven for the Writer of Historicals...

The Dictionary of Fashion History by Valerie Cumming, C W and P E Cunnington published by Berg (an imprint of Oxford International Publishers Ltd). This is a revised and updated version of the latter two authors dictionary.

(When I saw the cover image of the Victorian, red and yellow corset, close to, one of my future (but unknown) characters flitted by wearing it...)

Now admittedly I do have quite a few books on historical costume on my bookshelves, some are general, other specific to certain time periods such as the 18th or 19th century. But they each have elements that the others don't.

The newer books have beautiful coloured illustrations, which allow you to see detail, while the much older books relied on old illustrations and black and white images to accompany the text. But old copies of books by Phillis and her husband can be very expensive second hand- and I've picked up a couple in charity shops, but still had to pay quite a bit for them.

The updated dictionary gives a general date period, and a description of the garment, sometimes even a relevent quote. I like the mid-19thC term Howling bags, a slang term for trousers which sport a very 'loud' pattern. I've seen some modern trousers that would certainly fit that description!

If you've ever wanted to know what a particular fabric looked like, or what fibres it was made from, then there's an A-Z covering 50 sides; a glossary of laces- again with dates and descriptions, and a page of obsolete colour names.

Now I don't think anyone would question why the (16th C) Yellowish-green Goose-turd became an obsolete colour...

There's a comprehensive Bibliography too- and I do have a few of the books mentioned.

As many of my characters inhabit the 18th and 19th centuries, I can visualize their clothes better and appreciate the effect on their movements, as well as the texture.

In my Dorset novel my heroine sometimes has to wear clothes that are completely different to her normal attire, and I know that when she first puts them on it will feel strange to her...

Ideally I'd go and look at costumes on display, but costume museums are few and quite a distance from me, and won't necessarily have garments from the time period I need. So books, the web and costume postcards are very useful.

If I chose a particular costume item I'd like for using now, it would be a Calash- especially when I've been to the hairdressers and the weather is breezy... :-)

From any century, what item of clothing, footwear or headgear would you choose?

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Carol's News Round-Up: March/1

This is it, the first of my new posts covering interesting writing or book related items.

It was International Women's Day last week (8th March) and writer Linda Grant used her Twitter account to discuss the (continuing) need for feminism. She received a very large numbers of tweets and retweets in response, sharing their experiences of sexual discrimination over the years, that proved why the feminist movement was needed.

They are now available to read on a website called A Thousand Reasons. For anyone interested in social history, or wanting an insight into the lives of women in the 20th century, then read the responses- I thoroughly recommend it.

If you are in the UK and want to hear Linda Grant speaking about this, then listen to (14th March) Radio 4's Woman's Hour on the BBC 's Radio IPlayer. Linda's piece is 24 mins 30 seconds into the programme.


The latest trend in the range of social websites is Pinterest. It enables you to pin a pictures from your computer or elsewhere on the web to a virtual pin board, so you can share an interest with other users.

And just to prove it is book related, you can even show book covers...

Now, it's a great idea, but this is one of those times when you really do need to read every term and condition carefully, rather than just clicking 'I accept'. Their copyright section is based in the USA, and they operate with reference to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act- so if you've not seen it then look here.

In Pinterest's indeminity section by signing up, you are agreeing to pay all costs if someone should take legal action for any infringement (despite there being a system in place for notifying of copyright infringement and removal)- as the other section clearly says you're agreeing not to infringe any third party rights, and you have the right to post the images etc.

So if you intend to use Pinterest, make sure the images are yours, or you have permission to use the images and give credit where it's due. I know most of you reading this already know that, but just in case there's anyone who doesn't...

Two quite hefty subjects to start with, but I promise I'll try for shorter items later this month...

Saturday 3 March 2012

Infidelity and 'Forced Seduction' in Historical Romance Novels...

I decided to blog about character behaviour after reading a couple of items on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website- they came up on Twitter links; then today I was in my local Waterstones branch glancing through a couple of new romances, and one of them brought these articles to mind.

The issues of infidelity, and 'forced seduction' (so wrong, in so many ways) have more relevance to historical than contemporary romance fiction. And perhaps mostly related to books produced for the US romance market.

A romance novel doesn't have to have a sex scene- or more than one of them- to make a good story with believable characters. But some of those characters will do it- it's part of who they are and it would be daft to deny it.

Personally I consider it's up to the individual  author whether they show that aspects of their characters. In my stories, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. My characters are usually quite clear about that point in their developing relationship.

Women today have freedoms and advantages that their sisters in earlier centuries didn't; so I don't feel it's right to apply modern day thinking to stories set in the past.

So let's start with Infidelity.

Here's Limecello's piece on the H&H website: 'When Going Strange...Isn’t: Adultery in Romance'.

Read any social history of the aristocracy covering 200-300 years ago and you'll quickly discover that infidelity was accepted if it was carried out discreetly. A number of  younger aristocratic children were actually fathered by other men- not the man whose surname they carried through life.

The ideal is fidelity within marriage- I believe in that myself. 

But in the circumstances of the two novels mentioned in the article, I could understand and agree it's not infidelity- when both partners know and agree to the situation for their own reasons.

Yes it goes against my personal view, but I can't impose my morality on another writer's characters/story.
If a storyline offends me, or just doesn't appeal, then I won't buy the book.

'Forced Seduction' is another thing entirely... It truly belongs in the past of the so called Bodice Rippers- horrid description.

Here's a list on Amazon that gives you an idea of some of the titles from the last thirty years- and yes I can confirm that over the years I've read a few of them- especially those by Johanna Lindsey...

Sexual violence against any woman is wrong. Sexual coercion is wrong. Seduction is not coercion.

( I'm not including erotica, bondage and associated preferences in this category, as it's legal and it's between consenting adults.)

I have to say that the line between coercion and seduction can be very thin for some writers. As I saw today when I was looking through the improved romance section in my local Waterstones.

I picked up a book by a US author whose name I recognised (but her stories have not appealed to me previously) and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, I did my standard routine of opening the book a couple of times at random pages and reading on.

Unfortunately I found myself on part of the story where this very thin line between coercion and seduction was on show. Perhaps it was tied up with the author's word choices in that scene, but I decided not to buy it.

Fortunately there are still a lot of good books from both the UK and US on the romance shelves that don't see the need to walk that fine line...

Friday 3 June 2011

Romance is Healthy- On the Page or Off...

I've been reading romance books for many years - all I'm admitting to is that it started a long time ago...

My long term relationship with romance novels really began when I picked up a Mills and Boon in my city centre library, from then on I was hooked.

Recently Sally Quillford highlighted an article by Claudia Connell that featured in the Daily Mail. Sally rightly called it patronising and I agree with her, romance writers don't automatically wear twin sets and have blue rinses, or any of the other suggestions.

Now the Guardian has an article discussing claims made by a religious Psychologist on the effect that reading romance books has on women- "women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books'  entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography".

Romance books have always suffered disparaging comments, and the term 'bodice-rippers' usually features as it did in the Daily Mail article. Ripping bodices to me suggests aggressive sexual violence, that isn't romance.

I don't see Psychologists suggesting that authors of crime novels are all balding nerds, dressed in black who really want to go out and murder numerous people in the most horrible ways possible...

(Okay, I know I got carried away there, but you know what I'm saying.)

Romance writers are inventive-I'm not even going to try counting how many sub-genres there are. They're smart, helpful, very knowledgeable and they like a happy ending.
(In this current world that's something that should be applauded and encouraged.)

Romance writers took on the challenge of e-books early and are getting the sales to prove it was a wise move.

Your choice of romance reading can have the intimacy go on behind closed doors or in full view of the reader, but it is never tacky- porn is.

To paraphrase something someone else said on the subject, what's so bad about love and monogamy?

Monday 7 March 2011

International Women's Day- Tuesday 8th March

This post isn't the one I originally intended today, but when I saw the following item I just had to post it.

This short film with Judi Dench and Daniel Craig has been made by artist and director Sam Taylor-Wood and commissioned by a coalition of charities who campaign on equality issues.  It is produced by Barbara Broccoli- the producer of the 007 Bond films.

You can find more information and details of what events are taking place around the world at: