Joint winners of the Little Gems Short Story Contest Dorothy Martin and Jennifer Kay-Hoff (front) with fellow members of the Rainbow Writers Group (rear l-r) Mary Warwick, Vicki Harvey, Tina Rothbury and Judith Johnson.
Joint winners of the Little Gems Short Story Contest Dorothy Martin and Jennifer Kay-Hoff (front) with fellow members of the Rainbow Writers Group (rear l-r) Mary Warwick, Vicki Harvey, Tina Rothbury and Judith Johnson.

Romance writers love their work

The Rainbow Writers Group in Lismore may only have seven members, but these enthusiastic authors sure know a thing or two about happy endings.

Last week Jennifer Kay-Hoff and Dorothy Martin were awarded equal first in the 2010 Little Gems Short Story Contest, a national competition held annually by Romance Writers of Australia.

It continues a successful few years for the group, with Judith Johnson placing second in Little Gems in 2008 and Dorothy Martin and Mary Warwick both having stories published in the Little Gems anthology in 2009.

Dorothy and Jennifer were over the moon when they discovered the person they were sharing the award with was the other.

“It’s amazing, both of us being from the same group,” Jennifer said. “We were very excited by that – there were many phone calls and lots of laughter when we found out.”

Dorothy won for her story If Only about a woman who returns to a country town during an annual festival and meets an old flame from 25 years ago. Jennifer’s story, The Unfinished Poem, is set in Katoomba in the 1880s and is about a waitress who finds a poem and falls in love with the author, never realising he is a guest staying in her hotel.

Both Dorothy and Jennifer agreed that distilling a love story into 3000 words is no mean feat.

“Short story writing is quite an art – you can’t have any extraneous matter,” Dorothy said.

Jennifer agreed.

“Every word has to be the right word,” she said. “I always have to think about it and sleep on it so I can see the story clearly in my mind before I sit down and write it. There’s a saying that writers are people who can’t not write. We love it, we hate it, but we can’t not do it.”

Or as Mary Warwick joked, “If you don’t play tennis, you’ve got to do something.”

The Rainbow Writers Group is lively and passionate, and Mary loves it so much she travels all the way from Tenterfield to take part.

“We work hard and I come away from the meetings absolutely drained – my mind is so busy on the way home going over everything we’ve discussed that I don’t even notice the drive up the mountain,” Mary said. “For people who live in strange places like me the Romance Writers of Australia is great. You learn so much by way of feedback and I can get on my computer and join the writers critique group or take part in the annual conference online.”

Vicki Harvey joined last year. At first she was worried her work wouldn’t fit the ‘romance’ tag.

“But there’s so much you can do within the romance genre and I have learnt so much from these women. You can do futuristic writing or period writing – anything,” Vicki said.

“Some of us write screenplays and longer stories,” Tina Rothbury said. “We have very wide interests.”

“Yes, romance isn’t just steamy sex!” Judith chimed in. “But often when you say the word romance this curtain comes down over people’s eyes. However, once you understand the romance writing genre you realise it’s not all Mills & Boon.”

Anyone interested in joining the Rainbow Writers Group can phone Judith on 6622 5792, or for more info on the Romance Writers of Australia, visit www.romance

australia.com.


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