Sunday, July 05, 2015

Writer's Workspace - Elisabeth Hobbes

We're delighted to welcome back Elisabeth Hobbes to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about where she loves to write...

Like a lot of authors I first started out writing in secret: a few hundred words while the kids were watching CBeebies, a chapter over the nights my husband worked away, a post-it note scribbled then hastily shoved out of sight before anyone realised what I was doing. When I got The Call from Harlequin after finishing third in SYTYCW and ‘came out’ it meant I was able to legitimately spend time during the day writing.

I’m a terrible procrastinator so being in the house means I spend too much time online. It always starts out as legitimate research into techniques for oyster farming, for example (the heroine of A Wager for the Widow inherited a business) but soon ends up as searching out holiday cottages, recipes and finding pictures of Alexander Skarsgard or Chris Hemsworth –though time spent hero modelling is never wasted in my view.

My biggest workspace is my head because it’s rare I’m not thinking of a plot element at some point in the day and I have post-it notes and notebooks everywhere in case inspiration strikes. I write where I can and when I can (I started writing this in the cafe at the leisure centre while my kids learning the traditional Northern art of being in a brass band) but have developed some routines. 

Because I’m a part time teacher my actual getting-words-onto-the-laptop time has to be carefully planned for my days off (do teachers or parents ever really have such a thing?) and distractions minimised so I can meet my word count. Every Tuesday I drop my kids at school then head to the library and work in the reference area. It’s a peaceful place to sit, even when the toddlers come in for Rhyme Time, though cataloguing farm animals is not the ideal backdrop for creating romantic tension. 

Sometimes I need a little extra to get me going in the morning. We’re very lucky where I live to have a number of excellent independent cafes. My favourite is the Cherry Blossom Bakery, which has a quiet upstairs area where I can spread out notebooks and laptop, look at the garden and drink tea in a proper cup and saucer. Very civilised!

Occasionally I need something stronger and have been known to head round the corner to my local pub, The Park Tavern, which not only sells excellent beer but also homemade pies and cakes. A pivotal scene between Eleanor and Will in A Wager for the Widow was written accompanied by a pint of Long Hop while my daughter was at a birthday party. It’s a friendly place where everyone talks to everyone and has already inspired an idea for a future book involving a barmaid and a ruffian on the run with a mysterious box.

I do occasionally get forced to work at home, despite the impression that I crawl between pubs and cafes but curling up in an armchair isn’t kind on the knees so I recently treated myself to a proper desk with lots of cubbyholes for notebooks, pens and interesting junk. My house was built in the 1920s and I love period furniture so when I found this drop down desk I knew I had to have it, especially as it was cheaper than flat pack from Ikea. I love a bargain!

The one constant that has been with me throughout, whether writing on the sofa or in the bath has been the scrutiny of one or more pairs of watchful eyes. No writer’s area would be complete without a cat sprawled across the keyboard. My beloved, deceased Hobbes gave me my pen name after spending hours on my lap. I currently have two cats who have clearly worked out some sort of rota as they take it in turns to obstruct me. The one in the picture is Captain Jamie Ankles and as I write this, Doctor Sausage is lying across my left wrist.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean cat fur from between my keys!

Do you write in a variety of places?  Are you a pub-writer, a cafe-writer of a home-writer?  Join in the discussion below!

Elisabeth’s newest book, A Wager for the Widow, is available now: 

"I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?"

Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men – until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!

As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile – but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter! Yet when the tide turns Will realises vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?

To find out more about Elisabeth Hobbes and her books you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Weekend Wildcard - Of Ice Cream and Italians

The Pink Heart Society is delighted to welcome back Liz Fielding as she talks about the end of an era, with the last book in The Ice Cream Trilogy.

This week brings with it the publication day of the last of my "ice cream" books which makes it both a wonderful and sad occasion.

I didn't write these books as a trilogy, they didn't follow one another in a swift sequence. I've written two or three books in between so it's taken a while to tell Elle, Sorrel and now Geli's story.

They've been with me for a long time; it was 2010 when Rosie, the 1962 Commer vintage ice cream van, was driven up to the door of Gable End by Sean McElroy in Tempted By Trouble (Elle's story) and it all began.

In that time I've learned a lot about ice cream - and resisted the lure of the ice cream makers in the Lakeland catalogue a dozen or more times!

I've had fun researching fashion - those girls had trunks stuffed with vintage stuff in their attic. And Geli has a touch of the night about her (she started wearing black when she was nine) so I had the best time hunting down gorgeous steampunk and Goth fashion on Pinterest.

This is Geli's favourite neckwear!
For those of you who have followed the story so far, you won't be surprised to discover that there's a stray kitten tossed into the mix, although - because I did decide to set this book in Italy - you may be surprised that the book opens with Geli arriving in Milan in a snowstorm. (More lovely research!)

This is the roof of one of world's most amazing shopping arcades and I think it suits Geli's love of the Gothic rather well. :)

It's not just the snow and the lost kitten that cause Geli problems on her arrival. There's something wrong with the map showing the way to the gorgeous little apartment she's rented and she stops for help at the famous Cafe Rosa where the Amery genes, famous for getting women into trouble, meet their Waterloo in the shape of Dante Vettori.
For a taste test click here or, if you can't wait, check out AmazoniBooksBarnes and NobleKoboHarlequinMills and Boon or Mills and Boon, Australia to download the book right now!

Are you a fan of ice cream and Italians?  And do you like heroines with a Gothic-bent?  Join the discussion in the comments!

Liz's Vettori's Damsel in Distress is out now:

Her Italian knight? 

Angelica Amery has come to Milan for a fresh start, only to find that the bijou apartment she'd rented doesn't exist! Taking refuge in a nearby café, she meets enigmatic but darkly handsome Dante Vettori, who comes to her rescue.

What else could Dante do? He feels responsible for Geli, and that's before he kisses her! But soon this unconventional English girl is playing havoc with his complicated life and emotions, throwing into stark relief just how much Dante needs rescuing right back!

Liz Fielding is the multi-award winning author of more than sixty romances, check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday Fun - Of Deception and Tropes

Jules Bennett is back at the Pink Heart Society, talking about how to approach a trope that's been done so many times.

The amnesia trope has been done – and done well – over and over. There are so many amazing amnesia romance novels, so when my editor and I decided to do one, I was nervous. I knew it needed a twist and it had to be a bit of a risk. *yikes* 

Before I get into my risk that still has me biting my nails, I want to hone in on the hero. 

For the most part, it seems the hero can get away with anything: lying, stealing, betraying…the list goes on. 

The hero justifies his actions in such a charming, often sexy way and in the end, the heroine forgives him and the reader sighs with happiness and all is well. 

I’m speaking for myself as a reader here. Feel free to disagree and we’ll discuss.  :) 

But, when I read a hero who is borderline a…okay, if he has jerkish tendencies, I find myself looking for that redeeming quality. I *know* he has to have one, right? I’m analyzing every action and word from him, waiting for him to redeem himself. 

Do you agree? Do you find yourself forgiving the hero for things you’d probably never forgive if this were real life? I absolutely do. He’s the HERO. I feel he’s at a level of awesomeness from the start so I can overlook a multitude of issues. 

Now, having said all of that, what about the heroine? 

What if she does something as unforgiveable? Are we quick to cut her down because we see the hero as “our man?” I’m also guilty of this. How dare she treat him bad?! 

Do you see where I’m going with this? Why I’m still biting my nails on a book I turned in nearly a year ago? 

I switched the deceiving rolls and my heroine is the one doing the betrayal. In A Royal Amnesia Scandal my Prince hero loses his memory and believes he’s engaged to his assistant. 

She’s had a slight infatuation with him since they were kids, but all he *knows* is that they are engaged. So, she goes along with the lie. 

I promise, she justifies her actions, but I wonder how readers will relate to this. I wonder if they will like this twist of a very vulnerable, yet Alpha hero and the heroine who is lying to him. 

Can you think of another book or movie where the heroine did the deceiving? I know there are some, but my brain is not cooperating! And, bonus question, why do we, as readers, accept a hero with less than stellar actions? Personally, I believe it’s because we see him as “ours,” but I may just be getting too involved with my fictitious men...  ;)

I’ll draw one winner to receive a signed copy of A Royal Amnesia Scandal!

Jules' latest book, A Royal Amnesia Scandal, is available now: 

She’s about to have an unforgettable affair…with her royal boss.

He was desperate to forget a broken engagement…until an accident has Prince Lucas Silva forgetting his fiancée’s identity. Now he believes his loyal assistant, Kate Barton, is his bride-to-be. And she’s under strict orders to keep up the pretense.

Playing the role of beloved is no stretch for Kate; she’s had a crush on her boss for years. But palace rules prohibit royalty from mixing with the help, so Kate knows her happiness can’t last. Once Luc regains his memory, she could very well be tossed aside…unless the prince is willing to forget the rules, too!

Jules Bennett loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her contact page on her website, and readers may like her fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all the happenings in Jules’ writing life.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Time Out Thursday - Friends

Kate Walker is talking to the Pink Heart Society about friends, and one very special friend in particular.

I suppose it was inevitable. I knew it was coming anyway.  I knew that I had a PHS blog post coming

up for this week – the first week in July – and that Ali would send me the date  for my post to go up.  I also knew that in that first week in July there was one date that stood out like a sore thumb, one date I couldn’t avoid even if I wanted to. One date that was special – one date I couldn’t avoid remembering – but one that was one I was going to find specially hard this year.

That date was July 2nd – and guess what date Ali chose as my date for blogging this time?

But then July 2nd is a Thursday and the notes for posting  to the blog for the PHS say  ‘this is the day when writers discuss what they do when they’re away from the keyboard. . .  Basically, it’s all about you.’

And what, after family,  could be more important in a writer’s life  than my topic today.


Because Thursday July 2nd is the date of one of my dearest friends’ birthday.  But this year it’s also the first date I’ve had to celebrate it on my own. Because last year my dear friend Pat just made it to her birthday – five days later she died after a courageous and strong fight with breast cancer.

This week is also the anniversary of the day we met. 35 years ago, in the middle of the first week of Wimbledon, there was a ring at my doorbell and a tall, slim  blonde woman  came into my life. We both had 3 year old boys at playschool. We were both keen to join the ‘Meet A Mum’  group to get to know new people, make new friends. Pat was the first to arrive,  we shared a discussion about John Lloyd playing at Wimbledon, and by the time anyone else turned up  we were friends for life.  A life that wasn’t quite as long as we had hoped it would be, but one that filled with the special things that come from having real friends. 

We shared our sons’ growing up. We introduced our husbands and found they became friends too; we  supported each other through the loss of parents. We walked  a succession of dogs – Sam, Danny, Kirstie, and the  silent Jack  who is now  helping her widower by being a silent shadow at his heels wherever he goes. We talked about anything and everything under the sun. We didn’t always agree – a vital part of true friendship is having different opinions and it not mattering at all. We  trusting each other completely.

And that trust was important when she was the only person I shared my dreams of being a writer with - other than the Babe Magnet. She read, not my first attempt, that was too  bad for me to share with anyone, but the second  - ‘Garrett of Stoneroyd’.  That version was rough and unfinished, and it really wasn’t her thing (there’s that ability to disagree and not mind)/   But when she gave it back to me all she said was ‘don’t give up.’ And I didn’t. And Garrett of Stoneroyd became Broken Silence  which, if anyone’s read it, is dedicated ‘To Pat who was there at the beginning.’ 

There are other books I could have included her in the dedication.   A Question of Honour  because we sat over coffee and I  suddenly talked out the whole story and she listened and said ‘Write it.’  And lots of people have asked me about the dedication in Olivero’s Outrageous Proposal . There’s Pat again.  She listened when a book wasn’t going well. She happily cancelled coffee/lunch/dog walking if  the writing was working and I needed the time and concentration. 

Writers need those sorts of friends.  We spend so much time at our desk, focussing on fictional characters, that we can start to get word crazy and live in our imaginary worlds. Friends keep us in the real world. They show us how other women live – the ones who don’t have to deal with those voices in their heads all the time.  They can help us just by listening to the discussion of a difficult knot in a plot, or put in an important question ‘Why?’ to remind us that we have to convince the reader not just ourselves.

Sadly Pat is no longer here to do that.  

But I’m lucky – my career as a writer has led me to meet friends  I would never have expected.   Friends who are fellow writers – from Australia, America – romance conferences are great way to meet people who share my love of stories and characters and  words.  

The courses I teach have brought such unexpected bonuses in the  students who start out as one of a group, a face in the audience, and then come to  be real friends. Friends who I’m so happy to see again and again – and some of them have made the journey from student to published author which means that I get to meet them at authors’ events  instead of as students. 

Even the organisers of the writing weekends/courses I run have become such friend too. Anne and Gerry Hobbs who run Writers’ Holidays have become almost like family, and the same thing has happened with Lois who runs the Relax and Write Courses. Other tutors there are so much a part of the event that it’s like a family reunion when we all get together.  

I even met another of my oldest friends  through books too - though in  my past  job as a librarian not as a writer  -  and after years of long distance friendship from Dubai and then Spain, now she and her husband are planning on come home to UK  so I hope to see much more of her.

Summer is the time for romance writers to get together – the  Conferences, RNA, RWA or Romance Writers of Australia – all great ways of renewing old friendships and making new ones. Or if you’re not attending as any published author then the courses/weekend/Writers’ Holidays  are wonderful ways to meet up and make new friends.

Because writers need friends.  We need that time away from the keyboard, the long talks over coffee or a bottle  (or two) of wine. The laughter, the questions, the understandings and the disagreements. They’re all an important way of learning so much more about others  so that the characters we write about ring true even if they’re not directly taken from our own personalities.

Thursday will be a difficult day for me. The first when I won’t be able to share that special birthday lunch with Pat, the first time in  so many years I haven’t had to look for that special gift for
a special person. But I will still celebrate the 35 years I knew her. I’ll still hear that ‘Write it!’ in my head when I wonder if a plot will work. And at the same time I’ll celebrate all the wonderful friendships my life and my writing have brought me. And I’ll look forward to reunions at the courses and workshops – unfortunately I won’t be able to make the conferences this year.  

Far or near, these friendships  - you all know who you are – are so valuable and they enhance my life.

As I wrote in the dedication to Olivero's Outrageous Proposal:

Good friends are like stars. .  . You don’t always see them, but you know they are there.

To all my valued friends – thank you for the important part you play in my life.

And to everyone with female friends, let them know how much they mean to you - and please - ask them to  make sure they check their breasts regularly to keep themselves as safe as possible.

So, as I can’t find a gift for Pat this year, I’d like to share the celebration of her special day with you. Do you have a friend you’d like to nominate for a little gift to mark today? 

Tell me about your friend and why you’d like to let her know how much she means to you – and I’ll get Charlie to pick out a name  so that I can send a signed copy of Olivero’s Outrageous Proposal to her  in your name.

My  latest romance  is Olivero's Outrageous Proposal published in April in Harlequin Presents and Mills & Boon Modern Romance. Coming next  is Destined For The Desert King  which is published in December this year.

Then there's the  12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, the newest edition of which is available on Kindle or a revised and updated paperback edition now available on and

Kate Walker's web site is  here   and the up-to-date news can be found on her blog or her Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Writer's Wednesday - Roundabout Inspiration

Amy Ruttan is visiting the Pink Heart Society today and talking about roundabout inspiration...

I want to thank the Pink Heart Society for having me here today.

I was trying think of something to blog about, my brain is severely depleted lately due to writing three books between April and August. *silent scream*

So today I thought I would share a bit about the writing my sixth book with Harlequin Medicals, because it was a just a little bit different than my other books, but in a great way.

Taming Her Navy Doc came about in a roundabout way. When I first came up with the idea of my Navy Surgeon, well surgeons as both hero and heroine are surgeons, it was when my editor Laura asked me if I wanted to write a special theme about military.

When I pitched the idea of Taming Her Navy Doc (which had the pathetic title A Ship of Hope in the original pitch), the medical team loved it, but for the special military theme they wanted Army and they wanted Army Brothers.


That’s how It Happened in Vegas (March 2015) was born, but I still had this great Navy Surgeon pitch. Thankfully, I could save that until after I wrote It Happened in Vegas.

I came up with the idea of my hero Dr. Thorne Wilder after seeing all those beautiful Michael Stokes photos with wounded warriors, in particular Alex Minsky.

The whole story began to unfold about this brave Navy SEAL and the Naval surgeon who took his leg, but an interesting quirk to my writing is that I write to music. 

I needed a playlist.

Each book has a different playlist. Sometimes I will repeat songs, but there’s always that one song that is the background to the book. One song that I associate with each book and Taming Her Navy Doc was no different.

Skillet’s Hero was that song:

My family gets pretty sick and tired sometimes hearing songs on repeat. My DH bought me a nice set of headphones after writing this book. What he calls “hard” music is not his thing. LOL

And why did I choose the Navy? Well, I can say that goes back to a crush back I was a young girl. *cough Richard Gere cough*

Though, really I do admire all of those who serve in the military.

I’d written two Army Medics by this point and it was time for the Navy and the Navy SEALs to take centre stage.

This book was also the book I pitched that helped me get my agent.

So Taming Her Navy Doc was a book of many firsts for me in my writing career.

And that’s a bit of the backstory on writing Taming Her Navy Doc.

Oh and as another quirk I started, I create Pinterest boards to inspire me. Here’s a link to Taming Her Navy Doc’s board, which features both the North American and UK cover. Doesn’t the UK cover’s model look a lot like Princess Di?

What roundabout inspiration has hit you and how do you deal with it?  Join the debate in the comments...

Amy's latest book, Taming Her Navy Doc, is out now:

Finally the injured Navy SEAL brought to surgeon Erica Griffin in the dead of night has a name: Captain Thorne Wilder – her new commanding officer! 

Five years on he’s just as gorgeous as Erica remembers – and still totally off-limits... 

She might be as wary of relationships as he is, but fighting temptation will be the biggest battle of all...

You can find out more about Amy Ruttan at her website or follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Talk Time – Celebrity Gossip

Pink Heart Society columnist Barb Han is talking about her favorite guilty pleasure...celebrity gossip!

Hello. My name is Barb and I’m addicted to celebrity gossip. 

There. I said it out loud and now I feel so much better. After all, isn’t admitting that I have a problem the first step in recovery?

All kidding aside, I can admit to loving celebrity news (who doesn’t?) but there’s a slightly different twist for me. 

I rarely read the articles. 

The pictures feed my daily fix. 

Looking at a batch of new pics from a site like EOnline is the perfect brain candy to break up a long writing day and a great way to keep me at the computer when I’m on deadline and need a short break. 

Star Tracks from is heaven and especially during awards season when there are so many fantasy-inspiring gowns and tuxedos (and what rich story fodder they make). 

It doesn’t hurt that the people in those pictures are beautiful, wealthy and living lives of which most of us can only dream. 

Private jets. Best hotels. *le sigh*

I will get an up close and personal peek into that world this summer when my publisher, Harlequin, hosts its Black and White Ball for its authors at RWA Nationals in New York City. 

The location? The Waldorf Astoria! My mind is already spinning with possibilities. I’m thinking that I have to go old Hollywood with my gown. Maybe even attempt a Breakfast at Tiffany’s look?

But I digress. Back to the real celebrities. 

The chance to live vicariously through the collective lens of celebrity is a great study in people, and people (all kinds of people) fascinate me. I work a lot of hours and the rest are spent with my family, so I rarely get out to a coffee shop or pub to ‘people watch’ anymore. Perusing through celebrity pics online from the comfort of my office chair is a workable substitute. 

I could classify my addiction as research to make it sound more official since some of the men have served as inspiration for heroes in my books. Or come up with a scientific reason as to why taking a break makes the brain more productive. But I prefer to call it what it is…guilty pleasure.

And I need my daily dose. 

Your turn! Share one of your guilty pleasures. Or suggest a gown for me to wear at the Harlequin party this summer. Believe me, there are no celebrity stylists lining up to work with me and I need the help!

Barb has teamed up with thirteen authors to raise awareness for Heart Disease. The boxset, Hearts In Danger, benefits The American Heart Association and features many former bad boy heroes.

Fourteen stories of thrilling romance to benefit the American Heart Association. These full length, Romantic Suspense stories come from New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling Authors.

Includes Caught in the Crosshair by Barb Han: 

On a tropical island with a hurricane brewing and dangerous men closing in, private security firm owner Jaden Dean will need to work side-by-side with Lauren James to survive and find her brother. He will have to use all his specialized training and risk everything, including his heart, to outwit the deadly group and keep Lauren safe.

You can find out more about Barb Han's writing on her website and Goodreads. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for regular updates and pretty pics!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Male on Monday - Pro Wrestling Heroes

Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, is raving about her favourite wrestling heroes - the ones she thinks would definitely help inspire a red-blooded romance hero...

So I have a bit of a thing for pro wrestling at the moment...  I love the drama, the scandal and the skill of the fights.  I'm also a big fan of some of the female wrestlers that WWE has on their roster at the moment - Paige, in particular, is fantastic.

But I suppose I'm a little bit in awe of some of the male wrestlers as well.

So excuse me whilst I swoon a little over these guys...

Roman Reigns

Of Samoan origin (hence those incredible tattoos), his long hair and blue eyes make him more than a little hunky.  And, of course, he comes from a wrestling dynasty - the Ano'ai family.

Dolph Ziggler

All American, Dolph personifies the good looking boy next door, who's got a heart of gold - at least, at the moment...

Randy Orton

Randy Orton switches back and forth between good guy and heel (pro-wrestling speak for bad guy), and he's been on the circuit a good while and it shows in his skill.

Finn Balor (or Prince Devitt)

Known as Prince Devitt in Japan, where he stormed the pro-wrestling scene, he's recently started over on NXT, as part of the WWE universe, and is going up against current NXT champion Kevin Owens for the championship title this weekend!

John Cena

John Cena's undisputed reign at WWE is a bone of contention for many fans, but his hard work both in the ring and outside of it, is undeniable.  He has granted over 400 wishes for children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and does a hell of a lot for charity.

Do you have a favourite pro wrestler?  Do you think they make for good heroes?  Join the discussion!

Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls' school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, #StrongRomanceHeroines and women in society, and spends the rest of her time sat at her brand new writing desk, cracking on with her first novel (affectionately referred to as the Sussex Shaggers).

Passionately vocal about the wonders of romance, Ali defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!