Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Better Late Than Never - a Peek at the Loveletter Reader Convention

You know you're at a romance event when there are red heart balloons, right? These decorations came from the Loveletter Convention held in Berlin at the end of May. This is my first Pink Heart Society slot since the convention and I just had to share. I might add that this is a very rare photo. With 700 attendees, it wasn't often I saw any part of the conference site without people.
You know you're in Germany when you see warm, fresh-baked bread pretzels beside the coffee before the day begins. Delightfully (and with a good dollop of luck that the weather remained fine and warm) it was served outdoors, which was an added treat. I loved the long tables where you could park yourself and your swag (lots and lots of wonderful giveaways in the Convention bags, including but not limited to books) and have a coffee or lunch or just a rest in the sun or under one of the big umbrellas. One of the best parts of the event was the chance to chat with whomever happened to be sitting nearby as we were all ardent romance fans. What's better than sharing that love of romance? I got to meet readers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and  Spain and gather there were others from further afield too.
Here's a shot of part of the outdoor area. Doesn't that look inviting?
As for the Convention itself, it was a marvellous event for readers and those of us who are both readers and writers. I attended panel sessions which were lots of fun as we got to hear a range of perspective from a group of authors, as well as input from the audience. There were also sessions where people read snippets from their stories. I LOVE hearing other people's stories, and came home with a list of books I want to read. There were workshops too, on a range of topics. I gave a workshop with fellow Aussie author Kelly Hunter (the pic below is of us together at the booksigning).
There were lots of opportunities to mingle with other writers and best of all, with readers. I don't think I've been made to feel more welcome anywhere. Then too, was the chance to catch up with staff from my German publisher, Cora at a fantastic dinner, to meet bloggers who worked so busily before, during and after the conference, and even a reader who'd won a national contest to attend and turned up with a bundle of my books for me to sign!
The booksigning on the last afternoon was an amazing event. Here's part of the queue to get in just before it started. The noise of the crowd as you approached was surprisingly loud and the smiles and goodwill despite the heat were lovely.
One of the bonuses of the Convention was the location - Berlin has so much to offer. Sadly I didn't fit in enough time there for a lot of sightseeing - something I intend to remedy. I had a fantastic time at the Loveletter Convention 2014 - so much so that I'm planning to go back.
If you could choose a location for a conference, where would be be? City or country? Local or far away?
Annie has her head down working on a book that's due. Here's a taste of her current stories:
BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED is Annie's first novella - available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble right now as an ebook for just 99c.                                                                             
It was love at first sight when charismatic hotelier Fabrizio Armati swept Jenna off her feet in Venice. That chance meeting led to a night together, then to a sizzling hot affair that lasted till the day she discovered he sees her as nothing but an expendable mistress.
Six months later Jenna tells herself she’s moved on. Until the day Fabrizio walks into a meeting to discover her working for his greatest rival and she discovers just how far he’ll go to get her back. When passion ignited again, will it be on his terms or hers?
DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR is as September Harlequin Mills and Boon release. It recently scored a Top Pick and a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times. You can order it from Amazon, The Book Depository or Barnes and Noble.                                                                                
When opposites attract!
Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.
But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she's pregnant.
Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won't let his child slip from his grasp. There's only one way to claim his heir, and that's marriage!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Male on Monday: James Garner

PHS editor and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles plays tribute to one of her early inspirations -- James Garner

James Garner died on Saturday 19 July 2014 age 86. He was quite simply hugely influential in early television. Like Clint Eastwood, he made the leap for early television to the movies.
A high school dropout  who became a decorated war hero, being awarded the purple heart twice. His early life was fraught after his mother died.
His first big break came with Maverick where he starred as Bret Maverick -- the charming but as he put it lazy gambler.  He brought a smile to the Western. It was watching the reruns of this show in the late 1970's that first brought him to my attention. I learnt to play poker because of it.
In the 1960s, his attention turned towards movies and he starred in films with Doris Day as well taking part in The Great Escape. In the 1970's he continued to some films such as Support Your Local Sheriff as well as taking his Maverick persona into a contemporary setting by playing Jim Rockford in the Rockford Files. Later he played the father of Mel Gibson's Maverick in the movie version. I still think James Garner was the better Brett Maverick though...
In 2004 he played the older Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.
There was a quiet charm and  self-deprecating wit about his acting. Apparently he was wonderful to work with as he actually listened to what the other actors were saying and doing and was able to react off it. Apparently a very rare quality but one which is much appreciated.
He married his wife Lois two weeks after first meeting her. He also adopted her daughter, Kitty, from her first marriage. The  marriage lasted until his death. They had another daughter together.

SO here is to one of the true greats of Hollywood -- James Garner.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. Her next novel will be published on 19 August --Saved by the Viking Warrior.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Harlequin author Heidi Rice points you in the direction of a ground-breaking little movie with some pretty hefty themes.

You know when you go to see a movie about a child growing up, and they have to get two (or three, or four) different actors to play the part as the child ages? Never really feels all that authentic does it. Well, director Richard Linklater - the indie genius behind romance favourites Before Sunset, Before Sunrise and Before Midnight — has solved that problem in his ground-breaking new movie Boyhood, by basically casting a boy called Ellar Coltrane at the age of 6, then going back and filming him for a couple of weeks each year for the next 12 years, until Ellar was 18. Thus he tells the fictional story of a boy called Mason and his passage to manhood.

Now, some of you may be thinking that's a gimmick. Take it from me, it's not.

I went to see this movie last weekend with a very good friend of mine, who I met over 20 years ago when we were both attending the mother-and-baby club for the first time at our local GP practice with our week-old baby boys! We talked about the disturbing colour of baby pooh that day, and bonded as new mums embarking on a frightening journey into motherhood... We've talked about just about everything else since. But seeing this movie together brought so much of that mad, scary, incredible journey back to me and to my friend (making her a great person to see it with!). Because Mason's story, although told from his point of view, also tells the story of his parents - Patricia Arquette's divorced single mum and Ethan Hawke's immature but immensely loveable dad. And his older sister Samantha. It tells the story of the friends and relationships that come and go in all their lives over the next 12 years. And the story of all the mundane, scary, sad, exciting, poignant moments along the way.

This film is an experience. Authentic, touching, at once true and always engaging while at the same time never seeming overblown or contrived. It gives an amazing insight not just into the difficulties of growing up but the challenges of growing older - for both Mason and his parents. It's nearly three hours long, but when it finished, we didn't want it to end, because we wanted to know 'what happened next'...

Whether or not you're a parent, I would highly recommend this movie, because it tells a universal story about the human experience in a totally unique way.

Oh and there's some great Texas locations and some fabulous conversations about everything from condoms to elves to the Beatles!

Have I got you hooked yet?

Heidi's last Harlequin KISS novel Beach Bar Baby is out now. She loves to chat (maybe a bit too much) on Twitter (@HeidiRomRice), her website or Facebook.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Riding the Writing Roller Coaster #7: Rejection

Hey all! If you're going to be at RWA National in San Antonio next week, look me up.  I'll be at the Wednesday night literacy signing as well as Friday's Harlequin booksigning.  Looking forward to meeting you.

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Tattoo. Tattoo wanted to become an
officer in the US Army.  He joined ROTC and took his mandatory physical. A few weeks later, his physical came back with the words REJECTED stamped across it. Tattoo was turned down because he had childhood asthma.
Undeterred, Tattoo contacted his commander’s office. He believed he had enough medical evidence to prove he’d outgrown his asthma and thus deserved a waiver.
The commander’s office told him they didn’t apply for medical waivers.

At this point, a lot of young men would give up, find another career. Tattoo, however,.requested a face-to-face meeting with the Commanding Officer during which he laid out his case. The CO agreed to  let him apply for a waiver with the understanding he could still be rejected.

Tattoo received his medical waiver five weeks later.

The point of this little fable is obvious. Rejection happens to all of us.  Doesn’t matter how many manuscripts you've written.  At some point, you will have a story get rejected.  Maybe more than one.  To say rejection sucks would be an understatement. Even those so-called good rejections – the ones where the bad news comes with compliments and feedback  - still feel like someone reached inside and tore your stomach in two. No one wants to hear their efforts are inadequate.  Why not add fuel to the fire and tell us our babies are ugly and stupid too?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Male on Monday: Morretti MIllionaires

Kimani Romance author Pamela Yaye explains the inspiration behind her latest series of hunky men.

The number one question readers ask me (besides, “Do you know the models on the covers of your books?”) is “Where do you get your ideas from?” Ideas are everywhere. Seriously! I don’t watch much TV, but I stay informed about what’s happening around the world. I listen to the radio, read everything from magazines to biographies and self-help books, and I get a kick out of chatting people up while I’m waiting in line at the bank and grocery store. All it takes is a joke, an amusing story, or a personal experience to spark an idea…
The idea for my new family miniseries, The Morretti Millionaires, came to me after a lengthy conversation with my former editor. She was a huge champion of my work, super encouraging, and next to my family and agent, my biggest supporter. So, after our conversation, I grabbed my trusty notebook, put on my favorite Robin Thicke CD, and got down to work. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to create a culturally diverse family, and since I have tons of great Italian friends, I modeled the Morretti family after several families I knew growing up. Parents, Arturo and Vivica Morretti are a dynamic couple who’ve raised three successful, drop-dead sexy sons oozing with charm, and charisma, and I modelled each character after celebrities who caught my eye while I was doing my character profiles.
Oliver Martinez
Demetri Morretti, the thirty-two-year-old baseball phenom with a bad attitude, and a chip on his shoulder, is more than just a sexy athlete. He’s sensitive, soft-spoken, and chivalrous. Demetri has a heart of gold, and if that’s not enough, he’s the splitting image of French actor Oliver Martinez.   

Miguel Torres
Nicco Morretti, the thirty-four-year-old restaurateur with the chiseled physique, and killer swag resembles Spanish soccer star, Miguel Torres. Nicco is always up for a good time, especially in the bedroom, and he plays as hard as he works.

Eduardo Verastegui
Rafael Morretti, the thirty-six-year old chairman of Morretti Incorporated, reminds me of actor, Eduardo Verastegui, right down to his serious demeanor, smoldering gaze, and designer suits.

Arturo Morrertti, the 66-year-old family patriarch, with the quick temper and headstrong personality was modeled after one of my favorite actors, Robert De Niro.

Robert Di Niro
Emilio Morretti, the 36-year old race car legend (Arturo Morretti’s nephew) was modelled after, Matthew Fox, and his story, Seduced by Mr. Right, is a sweet, tender romance.

Matthew Fox

The Morretti Millionaires are more than just great looks, and a smokin’ hot body. Demetri, Nicco, and Rafael are everything a woman could want: romantic, thoughtful, affectionate, and the most charming men you will ever meet.  If you’re looking for a sexy, steamy read, pick up one of the Morretti Millionaire novels this summer!

All the best in life and love.
Pamela Yaye
Pamela Yaye has a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education, and her love of African-American fiction inspired her to pursue a career in writing romance. Her fifteenth Harlequin Kimani Romance novel, Seduced by the Playboy, was released July 2014. When Pamela’s not writing about strong, feisty heroines and the alpha males who love them, this busy wife, mother, and teacher is watching sports, experimenting in the kitchen, or planning her next family vacation. Pamela lives in Alberta, Canada with her real-life hero, and adorable, but mischievous son and daughter. To learn more about,
Pamela, and her steamy romance novels visit her new, revamped website: www.pamelayaye.com

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Writer's Weekend -- Addison Fox

Harlequin Romantic Suspense Author Addison Fox shares how she finds inspiration.

My thanks to the Pink Heart Society for having me today! I love talking about writing and Michelle gave me a fun topic for today – where do I write and find my inspiration?
For me, writing is truly a solitary endeavor. I much prefer quiet and solitude to having people around me. I always had the dream of writing in a coffee house, the rich scents of mocha lattes surrounding me, but in reality, I find it much better to stay in my routine, tucked away in my office.
Although I prefer quiet, I will confess to an odd quirk. For some reason – and the urge only seems to strike on the weekends – I love putting in Star Wars (Episode IV only!!) and running it in the background as I write. I haven’t figured out why (although who can argue with a young Harrison Ford as heroic inspiration?) but it’s a wacky little quirk that I indulge in frequently.
Other than that, I truly prefer being by myself when I write. There’s something about the quiet – and the familiar comfort – that makes the words flow far faster than trying to acclimate myself to a new environment outside my home.
If my writing life is about solitude, I’d say I find inspiration in the exact opposite places. I love going out, meeting new people and engaging in new situations. Every single time, something leaps up and strikes me as a story idea. A Saturday night outing to a minor league baseball game can be as much a conduit to a fresh set of ideas as a brainstorming session with fellow writers. And a visit to a new place can drum up an entirely new set of locations to set my stories in.
I’ve heard it said before and I’ll echo the sentiment. All too often, writers have an abundance of inspiration – it’s parsing through the ideas and culling down the ones that have the most staying power that is the hard part.
And that’s where the last burst of inspiration comes from – spending time with fellow writers. I’m endlessly amazed (happily so!) when I’ve spent an afternoon with my RWA chapter or time with some of my fellow authors how refreshed and excited I am to get back to my computer and get my hands on the keyboard. Spending time with people who “get you” and using that time to refill the well is so important.
So there you have it….this writer’s life in a nutshell. Oh wait….I didn’t mention the power of wine….ah well, perhaps that’s better saved for another blog!


Despite early ambitions of being a diver, a drummer or a doctor, Addison Fox happily discovered she was more suited to life as a writer. She lives in Dallas and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. You can find her at her home on the web at www.addisonfox.com. Her latest book, THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER, is currently out from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. You can visit her at her website at www.addisonfox.com

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Write Away with Jeannie Watt - Conference Time

It's almost RWA National conference time and I'm making plans. Happy plans. I love conference because attending my very Nationals finally convinced me I was a real writer--that there wasn't some secret club where people hung out wearing tight leopard skin pants and holding cigarette holders. Writers are real people.

When my kids were in high school, money was tight--car insurance for two teens, one of whom was the dreaded male under the age of twenty-five; gasoline to drive 70 miles a day to school; prom dresses, tuxes, regular school clothing, lunches, etc, etc. I wanted to join RWA and go to a conference, but the money just wasn't there. Then I discovered that the 2005 conference was slated to be held in Reno. Reno! Only 172 miles away. No expensive flight involved. It seemed like a sign, so I scrounged up the money to join, then signed up for conference.

I think I packed for two weeks, putting things in my suitcase, then taking them back out again. Two days before conference, our vehicle died. Just...died. I think it might have been the fuel pump or injectors or something quite expensive. I had no way to get to conference and it seemed that that might also be a sign. I'd been so looking forward to meeting other writers. I had an editor appointment. I'd made arrangements to meet up with Superromance authors I'd met online--real authors! And it wasn't going to happen. I was devastated.

Well, it did happen. We bought a new vehicle. (On a side note, I remember what I was wearing, because when we were talking to the salesman, I looked down and realized my shorts were on inside out.)  It was the worst time ever for us to do that, but we had to have something dependable, so we tightened our belts, signed some papers and I had wheels to get to Reno. 

Once there, I strolled into the conference hotel, feeling very intimidated and out of place. When I got into an elevator after registering, I read the name tag of the woman riding up with me. Debbie Macomber! I have to be honest. I gushed. She was quite gracious. I was in awe.

That night I went to the Literacy signing and met all my heroes. Oh my gosh...the Nora! I met the Harlequin editor who'd given me excellent feedback on my multi-rejected manuscript. And I went to classes. Being a teacher, I love classes. I'd read on one of the forums that a person shouldn't fill their day with classes or they'd burn out. Pfft. I hit a class every hour and I learned a lot.

I didn't have any close writer friends when I went to the conference, but by the time I checked out of the hotel,  I felt like I was truly part of the writing community. That lit a fire under me. I sold in January 2006 and the next conference I attended as a published author.

So as I start packing for this year's conference--I've kept the two-week-in-advance packing tradition alive--I always think of that first conference and how excited and scared I was, how I almost didn't get to go, and how terrifically valuable it was. It's good to belong to a community.

Yep. I do love conference.