Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Talk Time: Meeting the Faces Behind the Voices that Bring Me Joy!

The Pink Heart Society's superfan Desere Steenberg is talking all about what it's like to meet those authors you've always loved and admired...
 
Recently the lovely South African author Romy Sommer invited me to attend the first ever Romance Writers of South Africa ( ROSA) convention.
 
It was an experience I shall never forget! I got to meet the faces behind the voices of the people who bring me heartache, joy, passion, intrigue and characters I fall in love with over and over again. 
 
First there was the lovely Marie Dry, who writes for Black Opal Books, her latest release Alien Mine, is a paranormal like no other. Alien warriors taking what and who they want all wrapped up in a sizzling hot romance. 
 
Next up I met the amazing HarperImpulse author Romy Sommer, she writes the books all little girls dreams are made of. Weddings, beautiful fairy tale dresses and handsome princes, but with much more of a kick, trust me this author makes Snow White's Prince Charming look like a mere schoolboy. 
 
Of course every one that knows me, knows how much I adore my Mills and Boon reads, so of course I was over the moon delighted to meet the one, the only, fabulous Joss Wood! If you need to escape into a world of hot , arrogant men, strong and feisty heroine's set in utterly gorgeous locations, pick up a Joss Wood book, you will never look back. Getting all tongue tied when I spoke to her, is a story for another day , because let's face it I don't think I have ever been that embarrassed. 
 
I also met some faces I never heard of before, which am happy to report are now on my radar! First up was Jo Watson, a SYTYCW winner, who writes the most captivating stories. There was also the incredibly talented Erich Viedge, a man of many talents and remarkable ideas. I would love to list all the other many wonderful authors, but this post will simply then have no end. 
 
Now on to what I learned , everything and anything I ever wanted to know about the authors who's stories have captured my heart and taken me on voyages I shall never forget. Most importantly I learned all about the intricate process authors have to go through before us readers/ fans get that very shiny end product.

From the first spark of an idea, to writing it down, building the plot, shaping the characters to taking the reader into the heart of their minds. But that's not all, no authors have to go through a lot of twists and turns after they write those magical words " The End". 
 
Rejection after rejection, editing, deleting complete scenes, renaming of characters, being told the book is just not good enough, finding agents and publishers willing to take a chance, the list goes on and on.  
 
It a long, hard road author have to walk before us readers get to sit down and be transported into a world of romance and glam. Therefore with this post I would like to thank each and every author for their persistence, hard work and courage! And for those that have not reached our shelves yet: "Keep pushing, never give up one day it will be worth it!"
 
Tell us in the comments if you've ever met any of the authors whose books you have read. Did you get all tongue tied like I did? Or did you ever stop to think about the process they have to go through before you get to escape with one of their books?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Male on Monday: Jimmy Fallon

Donna Alward is back for a Male on Monday that is perhaps a little unconventional, but with a certain funny-bone appeal...

When I was trying to come up with a Male on Monday candidate, I thought of all the actors etc. that have tickled my fancy lately. Tom Hiddleston. Stephen Amell. Any of the Avengers. But they've been done, really, and suddenly it hit me. Who do I see nearly every day in my FB feed? Who makes me laugh, who is really talented, and kinda sexy to boot?

Easy. Jimmy Fallon.

I think Fallon is A-MAZ-ING. He can sing, he can dance, he can make me laugh, he can laugh at himself, put his guests at ease, and is game for anything. And he's good looking. WOW, right? Not bad for a boy from Brooklyn who grew up loving SNL. And while comedy is his thing, it's neat to see him in guest roles too. Who knew he'd end up being a jeep driver in an episode of Band of Brothers, for example?

Pictures really don't do him credit, so instead I'm going to post some Youtube clips that I just adore. Because it's not all about the looks. What makes a man sexy and Male On Monday worthy? I think a sense of humour with a dash of humility and a good helping of intelligence goes a long way.





And if you haven't seen the alter-egos of Sara-with-an-h and will,i.am (AKA mir,i.am), have a watch and prepare to laugh.



And for something just a little more serious, an emotional Jimmy paying tribute to Robin Williams.





Who do pops up on your newsfeed everyday?  Is Jimmy Fallon your favourite late night show host?  And do you prefer funny over traditionally good-looking?

Donna's latest release is THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT, the first in her Crooked Valley Ranch trilogy from Harlequin American:
 
A CHRISTMAS AFFAIR?

Returning to Crooked Valley is more terrifying than the battlefield to ex-soldier Duke Duggan. Still, Duke has an important reason to be back—to take control of his late grandfather's ranch. But being thrown headfirst into his old life makes Duke feel like a fish out of water. That is, until he sees Carrie Coulter again. Twenty years may have passed but the chemistry between them is stronger than ever.

When Duke threatens to sell the ranch, Carrie, the foreman, realizes she could lose her livelihood. But no decisions will be made until after the holidays. Until then, they have time to explore the feelings that draw them to each other. Together, can they come up with a way to keep the ranch…and the burning love between them?

Find out more about Donna Alward at her website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update

We catch up with our #NaNoWriMo participants:

Ali Williams ~ In some ways I've had an absolutely disastrous NaNoWriMo.  Work hit me with a mass of "this needs to be done now" stuff first week in, and my momentum never quite recovered, and now I'm kind of blocked.

Like I said, disastrous.

However, I'm not feeling too bad about it.  I've made a pretty decent start and planned out an entire novel which I'm going to keep working on.

I've found out that I can indeed capture the sense of a place far better than I realised.

And also, it's been fun.  Oodles and oodles of fun.

I've met and spoken to other #NaNoRomMoers and #NaNoWriMoers that I've never met or spoken to before.  I've been part of a community that's funny and engaging and supportive, and I've learnt so damn much.

So yeah, I might not be a winner in the traditional #NaNo sense, but I don't mind.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The #3Amigas: Nina Milne - Slowing Down Enough to Pat My Own Back

We're super excited to have Nina Milne, one of the #3Amigas back on the Pink Heart Society to continue talking about her writing journey.  And she bringing a GIVEAWAY along with her...

So as one of the #3Amigas charting my writing journey I sat down and had a think about the meaning of the word ‘journey’.

Two clicks later and:

Noun: An act of travelling from one place to another

Verb: Travel somewhere:

So this made me think about my destination…am I travelling towards a specific ‘place’ or am I travelling ‘somewhere’?

When I started writing my goal was publication with Mills & Boon and I (eventually) got there.

But where am I headed now the KISS line has gone Kaput? Well I suppose my new destination is the land of More Publication but I now realise that if I am lucky enough to get there that doesn’t mean the journey stops because I’ll always want the ‘Next Publication’.

So this made me think even more (and yes my brain was hurting) and I thought about a conversation that happens in the Milne household all the time:

Scene: Leaving a theme park - Rides have been ridden, sweets have been consumed, pocket money has been spent.

We all get in the car. I sit back and polish my maternal halo at achieving a successful family day out (my internal editor has erased bickering, squabbling, endless queues and the ‘No I won’t buy you an enormous toy for a gazillion pounds but look at this lovely pencil you can buy with your £3...’ conversation  discussion  embarrassing tantrum).

Me: That was really fun!

Kid 1: It was really cool. Thanks Mum. (Doesn’t even pause for breath) When we get home can I have Josh round for a sleepover?

Kid 2: It was really cool. Thanks Mum. (Doesn’t even pause for breath)  Kitty just texted - when we get home can I go round to hers for a sleepover

Kid 3:  It was really cool. Thanks Mum. (Doesn’t even pause for breath) Can I go on the X-box when we get home?

Me: Whoa! Can’t we just stop and appreciate what a good time we had before moving onto the next thing?

So you see where I am going with this? I am just as bad as my kids…

Because I have been so busy thinking/worrying/stressing about what’s next that I have forgotten to appreciate the achievement of my KISS books.

To the point that I had pretty much ignored the fact that my second book was about to be released – how ridiculous is that? The goal, the destination I worked who knows how many pairs of fluffy socks off for years and I’m so busy thinking about my journey that I’m not happy about a book that I loved writing. Not just loved but laboured over, expended blood, sweat and tears on….


So yes of course I need to work towards the future – I do want a writing career and I do want More Publication but – if this is an ongoing journey then sometimes I need to stop and have a rest and appreciate the miles I’ve covered…rather than be in permanent travel mode towards a constantly moving goalpost.

So right here and now I need to be proud of past milestones in particular book number 2. Because my characters deserve it and I deserve it too. So excuse me whilst I pat myself on the back and put some fizz in the fridge…release day is approaching and I have a milestone to celebrate.

And a GIVEAWAY!!

I have a copy of Breaking the Boss’s Rules to give away. To be in with a chance, just leave a comment. About milestones or fluffy socks or both. Or neither - any comment will count!



Joe McIntyre’s three rules of dating:


1. Never Mix Business and Pleasure

2. One Night Only

3. Never Look Back

Imogen Lorrimer knows that her temporary boss is completely wrong for her – so why does he insist on appearing in her dreams… naked? Perhaps it’s time for Imo to try out his infamous dating rules herself… ?

One business trip to Paris later and they can kiss goodbye to Rule One. Then Imo agrees to be Joe’s plus-one at a wedding… Sticking to Rule Two and Rule Three is hard enough already – on the sun-drenched shores of the Algarve it’s going to be impossible!

Nina lives in Sussex, England with her husband and three children. Prior to becoming an author, she worked as an accountant and a recruitment consultant. To find out more you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Fun - TV Weddings To Remember

As the world winds down from the #CastleWedding, Ali Williams takes to the Pink Heart Society to talk about her favourite TV Weddings...

My favourite hashtag on Twitter at the moment is #CastleWedding.  There are very few words to describe how excited I am at the that fact that Castle and Beckett have finally tied the knot.  (And not just because of the deliciousness of Nathan Fillion in a suit).

Yes, there was that abandoned wedding day last season - due to Castle's untimely disappearance at the end of last season - and we'd already seen Beckett all dressed up in a stunner of a dress, but it was still pretty exciting.

Because we get to celebrate a TV wedding.

TV weddings are amazing:  all of the fun and usually with a high dose of scandal and/or comedy thrown in for good measure.  They can make us cry, laugh and remind us that there are good things in the world.

So here are my favourite television weddings...

WARNING:  This is spoilerific!!

Cam and Mitchell - Modern Family

It's the wedding of the century, especially when it's Pepper (aka the sublime Nathan Lane) planning it.  Of course, nothing quite goes right on the day, but that makes it all the more fun for the rest of us to see how it's all going to turn out. 



It's also worth mentioning that the episode itself is intertwined with minor heartbreak that I'm praying that the writers sort out this season.  #HayleyandAndy




Ross and Rachel (in Vegas) - Friends

Friends is known for the numerous weddings over all ten series ("I take you...Rachel", the Bings and Phoebe and Mike in the snow), but my favourite has to be the quirky, drunken Vegas event...

They say that your inhibitions disappear when you're drunk and that's exactly what happens for Ross and Rachel.  Their true feelings for each other end up shining through, resulting in a morning-after-the-night-before scene for the history books.





Alex and Izzie- Grey's Anatomy

I've only recently come to love Grey's Anatomy, having devoured as much of the previous 10 seasons as I could before NaNoWriMo took over my life.

Izzie and Alex's wedding is simultaneously heartbreaking and wonderful.  And that moment when George steps out to help her down the aisle?  Yeah, it pretty much ruins anyone with a heart.

Suffice to say that this is the weepy wedding in my artillery.  I got through an entire box of tissues whilst watching this one episode.




Chuck and Blair - Gossip Girl

The final episode of Gossip Girl and boy had the writers keep us on the edge of our seats.  We'd been waiting for Chuck and Blair's HEA since halfway through season, and yet they held off until the very last moment before giving us what we wanted.

Perhaps the shortest TV wedding, it was still perfect with the whole gang surrounding them, Blair wearing a sublime dress and with that dip from Chuck before he's hauled away for questioning by the police. 





Laura and Paul - Him & Her:  The Wedding

In Him & Her the wedding isn't particularly romantic or happy.  The entire fourth (and final) series is set at the most terrible and mismatched couple imaginable's wedding.  The bride is a horrific character and the groom really doesn't want to marry her.  It's the last thing you'd imagine to be in a top TV weddings list.

And yet the characters of Becky and Steve - the bride's sister and her boyfriend - are who we are rooting through the entire way through.  It's this couple who we've come to love over the previous three series, and it's them that we watch as the entire wedding seems to fall apart.

Plus, for all the cringy moments, it is hysterically funny at times.



What do you think makes a perfect TV wedding?  And which TV weddings have we missed out?  #JointheDiscussion in the comments...

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, chick lit and women in society and spends an extraordinary amount of time coercing male friends to pose with her favourite Mills & Boon books to the bemusement of the Twittersphere.

Genre reporter for chick lit and erotica at For Books' Sake and guest blogger for Mills & Boon, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Time Out Thursday - Get Happy

Jennifer Rae talks to the Pink Heart Society today about how CrossFit changed her outlook on life, helped her realise her strength, and gave her back a community of friends.

I’m a friendly person. I like having friends, making friends and being a friend. I like laughing and going out and eating too much and drinking too much wine and falling over and losing my phone and eating kebabs and regretting it and doing it all again the following weekend. 



I’ve never had trouble making friends. I’ve moved a lot but it’s always easy to find like-minded party goers – at work, playing sport, through mutual friends.

But when I was in my 30s I moved to a country town and found myself in a situation I’d never been before. I had no friends. 

No. Friends. 

That for me was unthinkable. But it was true. I worked from home so found it hard to meet new people and I had three small children. I was often so busy with them I wasn’t able to focus on meeting friends. For two years I lived in this town feeling increasingly isolated and frustrated and sad. I was reminded of growing up on a farm. For a highly social person – farm life is almost torture. I couldn’t wait to move away from home. But here I was again – alone and lonely, spending way too many hours watching mindless TV.

Finally after a 10 day straight rain storm that had me locked in the house with three small children and massive tantrum (me – not the kids) I snapped. I realised the reason I was lonely and sad was not because the bitches at the preschool wouldn’t talk to me. It was because I was sitting in the house feeling sorry for myself. So for punishment, I looked up the stupidest, cruellest, craziest sport I could find, called them up, payed my money and turned up.

Bugger. What have I done? Would they notice if I turned around and left? I can’t do this. What the hell have I done? All those thoughts rushed through my mind when I entered the box at CrossFit. 

CrossFit. The Sport of Exercise. Apparently. All I could see were a bunch of strangers grunting and sweating and yelling and high fiving each other. Torturing themselves lifting weights and climbing ropes. Their hands were calloused, their legs bruised and there were NO girls in pretty gym gear or pumped up bodybuilders here. They dressed in black and grey and wore weird colourful shoes. Not that it mattered what they looked like – there were no mirrors.

I felt like the new kid at school. Standing awkwardly to one side. Hoping my drink bottle was cool enough. Trying to look like I didn’t care that I had no one to talk to. Pretending I knew what they hell they were talking about when they started rabbiting on about WOD’s and snatches and double-unders. I wanted to leave. They were all fit and strong and knew exactly what was going on. But I didn’t leave. Because I remembered the way I’d yelled at my family. And the days I’d spent lying in front of the heater crying ‘cause I had no friends and I wanted to eat worms.

So I sucked it up and kept going.

Best thing I ever did. CrossFit cops a lot of criticism. They call it a cult. They talk about bad form and ‘losing gains’ (don’t worry gals – that’s a boy thing) But CrossFit has become more than just a way of meeting new people to me. I’ve tried things at CrossFit I would never have imagined. 

I’ve deadlifted 80kg. I’ve hauled a 40kg bar over my head. I’ve punched out 60 toes to bar in under three minutes. I’ve climbed a rope so high that I’m pretty sure every bone in my tiny body would break if I fell. I’m strong. Not just in my body but in my mind.

It takes being low to realise how high you can be. It takes trying something completely mad and impossible to make you realise you’re stronger than you think you are. You’re smarter than you ever imagined and your body is an absolute machine.

Like all women, I’ve had body issues throughout the years. Too fat, too thin, if only I could change this bit….But CrossFit has changed all that. I don’t look at my body as something that has to look good anymore. I see myself as fit and strong and the shape I’m supposed to be.

But the most important thing CrossFit has given me is a community of real friends who care if I achieve a personal best in my clean and jerk. They worry if I get injured. They ask me about my relationships and my kids and my life. 

I’m not lonely anymore. I’ve found the peeps who make me laugh and I’ve found a great bunch of people who laugh at my jokes when I’m drunk, find my phone when I lose it and shout me a kebab on the way home.





Jennifer's latest book release is Sex, Lies & Her Impossible Boss:



'There's no such thing as "just sex", Cash'



When the new boss of Faith Harris's TV station, the famously ruthless and annoyingly gorgeous Cash Anderson, tells her he'll be cancelling her sex and relationships show she knows she's in for a fight. She's worked her silk-clad butt off to get her high ratings, and no man's going to take them away from her - however hot under the collar he secretly gets her...




But sugar's better than vinegar any day, so Faith decides to prove to Cash just how meaningful her show really is. The only trouble is, it's also rather... risque. And there was enough chemistry between them even before Faith set about proving just how riveting sex can be...!

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram orTwitter.