Top 10 Favourite Romance and Romantic Comedy Films

The lovely Anna Campbell recently guest blogged at ALOHA and was asked to name her top 7 romance films. And don’t we all love a good list making? I’m the sort of person who makes lists all the time and, yes, I have been known to add something I’ve already done just so I can tick it off. Totally inspired by Anna’s list, I decided to write my own.

I like a good dash of comedy in with my romance, so I’ll be focusing those, but I do

Ever After, my favourite romantic comedy of all time.

have an occasional favourite romance and have allowed those too, almost entirely so I can include Dirty Dancing, which I would estimate I have seen no less than thirty times. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” (By the way, did you see the extras on the DVD that was released after Patrick died? Did you see the love scene that didn’t make it into the film? Holy cats!!!!!!!!!)

In no particular order:

  1. Dirty Dancing. Really, no explanation needed there. This film is as near to a perfect film as you can get.
  2. Love Actually. But I really only love the romance storyline between Colin Firth’s character and his cleaner, who can’t speak English. Such wonderful, captivating tension between them. I was working on my manuscript on the verandah just yesterday and a gust of wind blew the papers all across the yard and I thought of that delightfully funny scene where they both end up in the water chasing his manuscript. Gorgeous.
  3. Sense and Sensibility. Starring Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood. You can’t go past Jane Austen for great romance and this is a visual feast as well. Emma Thompson is such a star.
  4. Never Been Kissed. I think I might just have a bit of a girl crush on Drew Barrymore and will watch anything she is in. I just love her. This is one of the many, many Drew romantic comedies I love, and it’s a good one.
  5. The Holiday. An incredibly under-rated film starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. A wonderful combination of actors, a funny and engaging script, gorgeous locations, charming. Another gorgeous film I could watch again and again.
  6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I saw this film on the plane on the last leg of my return journey from the UK, so maybe I was delirious with fatigue, but I laughed and laughed and laughed in this film. You know, the kind of laughing that becomes embarrassing when you’re only one of a few people awake and the rest of the plane is quiet. (“What do you mean he don’t eat no meat? Oh, it’s okay, I make lamb.”) And what a clever, clever woman Nia Vardalos is to write and star in the movie! An inspiration to all us writers.
  7. Father of the Bride. What a beautiful and funny film this is, with romance on all levels, starring the wonderful Diane Keaton and Steve Martin.
  8. Something’s Gotta Give. Also starring Diane Keaton, this is a highly amusing and entertaining love story involving (shock, horror!) people over 50.
  9. The Princess Bride. Wonderful fairy tale about love that simply will not die. (“As you wish…”)
  10. Ever After. Although I put this list in no particular order, I might just have to say that this is my favourite romantic comedy of all time. And… gasp!…. it stars Drew Barrymore as a Cinderella but one that gets a good dose of feminist power and humour and gets to save her prince as much as he gets to save her. Funny, funny, funny. Fairy wings. A guest appearance from Leonardo da Vinci. And Anjelica Huston bringing home the evil stepmother. A rollicking good film.

Gosh, it’s hard to end there… I really also want to sneak in Titanic because it has such a powerful love story alongside the visual wonder, humour and historical interest.

What would you add to this list?


Nappies and Vomit Do Not Romance Writing Make

Let’s face it, there isn’t much that’s either romantic or sexy about motherhood. If it’s not the pervasive stains (and odour) of regurgitated formula, or the endless repetition of This Old Man playing knick-knack-paddywhack (what on earth is that anyway?), or the continual sense of chaos in the house, or that you ran out of facial scrub a month ago and keep forgetting to get more, it’s the fact that through sheer exhaustion and the fact that you have five minutes before your baby needs you again that you can’t even manage to wash your hair.

How then does a girl live the writer’s dream and conjure up images of romance and sexiness when the only fantasy she harbours is for four hours (let’s not be greedy) of uninterrupted, deep sleep?

I plan to take my bedraggled self to the Queensland Writers Centre this Sunday for a Masterclass in romance writing with prolific romance author, Anna Campbell. I’m hoping Anna’s expertise can help me contact my inner romantic woman, who is currently helping my characters, Leila and Lucas, strengthen their compelling storyline.

The littlest man romance

Anna, your timing couldn’t be more perfect. But please know that if I yawn the whole way through your masterclass it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the littlest man in my life with whom I’m having a romance of an entirely different kind.

In-house Writing Retreat

When I think of a writing retreat, I think log fires, mountain cabins, massage, gourmet food and days of uninterrupted writing glory. Well, sometimes life is a wee bit more complicated than that, say, when you have a three-and-a-half-month-old baby. What’s a girl to do when she desperately needs intense writing time?

Thankfully, my Love came up with the most timely and inspired gift this weekend just gone and played cook, cleaner and baby sitter while I had an in-house writing retreat: the retreat you have when you can’t go out for a retreat.

He made me gourmet pizza. He massaged me and ran me a bath. He bought me chocolate and coffee, made me fresh apple and orange juice, cooked me pancakes for breakfast, and made me chocolate cake and reminded me to take my vitamins in the morning. In short, he was an absolute angel.

It was just what I needed to forge through some editing and writing of new scenes in this latest draft of Take a Chance on Me. My lovely husband, Alwyn, I cannot begin to thank you enough.

Today, I’m completely shattered. My tailbone hurts from sitting on it. My wrist has RSI. I’ve barely slept for three nights in a row and am now playing mummy on my own so need to get those toothpicks out to keep my eyelids open and on the job (the coffee’s long since stopped working). I’m trying to be nice to myself and simmer in the warmth of knowledge that my book is on track and all will be well.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t whip out the credit card and order a year’s worth of books online, does it? 😉

Writer Back on Board

Okay, so it’s been a long time since I last blogged! Eight months, to be exact. I’m not going to bang on about it, so let me summarised the great things that have happened in that time.

1. Finished the first draft of my current WIP, a Young Adult entitled The Stars that Shine. It’s a rodeo ‘Romeo and Juliette’ styled novel about two star-crossed rodeo riders struggling to find success and love in rural Australia in 1958, within the confines of social injustices and prejudices, in order to fulfil their dreams. (See, I learned how to summarise that at this year’s CYA Conference, from keynote speaker Kate Forsyth.)

2. Received three lots of highly useful feedback on The Stars that Shine from wonderful writing friends who helped me see the trees from the wood and show me how the reality of my manuscript fell short from the vision that was in my mind, and allowed me to draw out that vision to meet the expectations I set for it in the first place.

3. Attended this year’s CYA Conference in Brisbane during the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, and had the most inspiring moment of the day over a coffee with wonderful YA author Michael Gerard Bauer, who picked up my flagging spirits, injected them with a good puff of wind, and sent me back out into the world again. Thanks Michael 🙂

4. Pulled out a memoir that had been sitting in my drawer for the past two years, shook it off and cleaned it up and submitted it to the Finch Publishing Memoir Prize.

5. Completed several rounds of revisions of The Stars that Shine, and now have Draft 4 with an esteemed colleague for editing.

6. Managed to maintain at least some of my wonderful contacts and friends in my writing tribe, despite living in the bush and not being able to get to all the fun and exciting events that happend in Brisbane, seemingly all the time.

I now sit anxiously, awaiting another round of feedback, criticism and editing suggestions for my current baby, and hoping I can polish it to shine the way I have imagined it for so many years.

Out of the writing wilderness

Well, I’ve done it.

I’ve navigated through the suffocating darkness of the wilderness that had become my most recent novel. As soon as I hit the middle… bang. All light was gone. The path had disappeared. My steps forward slowed to almost a stop. It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I should be typing til my fingers bleed. I pledged to finish a first draft. But for over a month, I hovered here, moving forward, sideways, in circles and even backwards, an inch at a time. I battled monsters: depression, fear, doubts, frustration. Monsters leapt out of the shadows at every step.

I considered giving up.

But this is my sixth full length manuscript and if I have learned anything it’s that I must ask for help when I am lost. Enter my gorgeous and wise writing buddy (GWWB). My GWWB has also been writing for many, many years and also knows the pain of the so-far unfulfilled dream of a published book. She lets me cry and wail and rave on about how terrible I am, how terrible the book is, and how utterly hopeless everything else is.

Then she calmly reminds me of why it is that we write–simply, because we can’t not write. She reminds me that I am not alone in the darkness. Then she sends me home with firm instructions a map to keep going.

And I did. And lo and behold, I made it out of the wilderness. I can see the pathway once more. The end is in sight, lit up by my imagination and my characters that refused to give in.

Now, NaNoWriMo is nearly at an end and I still have 20,000 words to go if I am to finish this manuscript. Can I do it? Possibly. But not without the support of my writing friends. And that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about: connecting with others and getting it done.

So off I set again. My lunch pack is full, my water flask refilled. I am energised once more.

Miley, Taylor, Glee and Me in the closet

I’ve been in the closet. But the time is here and I’m coming out and saying it: I’m a fan of Miley Cyrus.

One of the reasons I love writing YA novels is that it gives me the perfect cover to indulge in activities that otherwise might be thought of as not really the norm for someone of my age.

Take, for example, Hannah Montana: The Movie (Miley Cyrus). We saw it on the plane on the way to Tonga recently, and we happened to really enjoy it. I defy anyone not to dance in their seat during the Hoedown Throwdown. And as for her moving version of The Climb, well any struggling artist could relate to this one and come out the other side feeling more inspired than ever. (The video is not so good, but I love the song.)

This interest in ‘tween/teen’ pop culture began with Taylor Swift, specifically, her song Love Story. Apart from loving the song (and since, her album, Fearless) I realised that this was someone very successfully selling to the teenage market, the same market that I want to sell books to. It wasn’t too much of a leap to see that I could learn something from the likes of Taylor and Miley.

So now that I have that ‘research’ defence sorted out for when my friends query as to why I own the soundtrack to Hannah Montana: The Movie, I feel free to indulge in Glee too. Glee is a television series on Channel 10, Thursday nights, and is set in a high school, with teenagers looking for all the things teenagers look for, and doing it in a smart, funny and sensitive way. I’m hooked.

So now that I’ve outed myself, I think I’ll go and buy tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert on February 4 next year, the day after my birthday. It’s all good research…

Take heart in the journey to love and publication

I often say to people that, for me, the journey to publication is just like the journey to love.

It is at times exhilarating; at times devastating; at times the cause of a pounding heart and sleepless nights; at times the cause of neglecting my practical ‘real world’ duties; and at times the activity that prompts the most soul-searching, journal writing, navel gazing and even the odd drunken night.

The pain of each rejection of a manuscript is as familiar to me as every romantic rejection, unreturned phone call, dead-end relationship and broken heart, because my work is me. There is no difference. Every time I receive a letter that says, “we really liked this manuscript, we liked this and that but we don’t feel it’s quite right for us” it feels very personal. And yet I also know that it’s not so much personal as it is a mismatching of fate.

In my personal romantic life, I found The One. And I look back on all the years of searching, heartbreak, Bridget Jones-type hilarity and doubts that I would ever find The One and I realise that all of those broken relationships were opportunities to learn and grow. And if I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry and that it would all be okay, it would certainly have eased the pain. But would it also have taken away the growth and important lessons? Would I have simply stopped trying and sat around waiting for it to fall into my lap and therefore not have been the person I was when I did finally meet The One?

We cannot see the future and so we feel stuck in this limbo world of unrequited love.

Until it happens, for real.

I tell myself to take heart, a phrase that seems to mean “to gain courage”. The courage to keep going. The courage to keep believing. The courage that I will find The One. And The One will love me just as much.