Saturday, October 28, 2006

October Hamper!!! Who will win???

Yes, another month is coming to an end...

Of course, if you missed anything, the entire first couple of months are still on display so you can revisit or catch up. And didn’t we have some gorgeous guests? And some goooorgeous men?!?!? (Just a quick sneaky hint – next month there might even be a whole extra Male on Monday slot in the middle of the week! So you’ll have to pay close attention ;)) And we have some top selling authors for you and loads more interesting topics to distract you from whatever you should be doing...

We still have to get through a Male on Monday and Halloween as yet before this month is done, but being that this is the last Saturday of the month we couldn’t wait.

So here it is! The October Hamper!!!

Now just because we are so fabulous and wonderful and giving, we have a great hamper of prizes to giveaway thanks to the wonderful authors who participated this month. One lucky Pink Heart Society member will win the lot! The best comment as judged by your editors extraordinaire will win.

Hamper Question: What makes you pick up a new category romance author for the first time???


· "Wanted: Outback Bride" by Ally Blake

· "O'Reilly's Bride" by Trish Wylie

· "Found: His Family" by Nicola Marsh

· "The Italian Doctor's Bride" by Margaret McDonagh

· "Just Try Me" Blaze by Jill Shalvis

· "At the Sheikh's Command" by Kate Walker

· "Married in a Rush" Julie Cohen

& "The Secret Night" by Rebecca York

Don’t forget to come back through next month to find out if you won!

And next month is going to be even bigger. Jam-packed. The best month ever! So come along and play and spread the word. Remember, at the Pink Heart Society it's all about the love.

Hugs and kisses,

Ally, Natasha, Nicola and Trish

x x x x

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Talk-time with Jessica Hart

This Thursday we have Romance author Jessica Hart, winner of this years RNA Romance Prize, who is going to talk to us about...
The Vagaries of Inspiration

‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ is a question much derided by some writers.

(‘What do they expect us to say?’ sneered one famous author in an interview I read once. ‘That we pop down to the shop on the corner and pick up a few ideas when we need them?’) I think it’s actually a very interesting question, although it’s often hard to remember once you’ve finished a book where the original idea came from.

I quite like it when my editor gives me something to start with. For instance, she suggested at the beginning of the year that I write a duet set in outback Australia and London, which wasn’t a lot to go on, but better than nothing. I spent several months with my mind absolutely blank about what to do with the settings I’d been given, and I was getting perilously close to panic when I had the germ of an idea …

I can remember the precise moment of germination, too. I was in my bathroom, listening to Dido (‘how sad and weird’, my 15 year-old goddaughter would doubtless say). There’s a song on Life for Rent about the developing relationship between the singer and Mary’s boyfriend, Danny, who she’s keeping an eye on while her friend is away in India. It’s about shifting loyalties, and the image of the two of them consoling themselves for Mary’s absence was my starting point, although in the end it had nothing much to do with the final plot.

Other ideas come from my own experiences, or those of my friends. Contracted: Corporate Wife was me giving my best friend a fantasy ending to her own problems as a single mother living in a tiny flat with two sulky adolescents and very little room to manoeuvre financially. As for Business Arrangement Bride, where my heroine, Mary, tries to teach Tyler what a woman wants from a modern relationship, let me just say that my partner, John, will be getting a copy with long sections heavily underlined!

Once the idea has germinated, I can move into plotting mode. Contrary to my usual slap-happy approach to writing, I do, in fact, have a tried and tested technique when it comes to plotting, and I’m here to share it exclusively with members of the Pink Heart Society … Here’s what you do. Firstly, ignore people who insist that writing is always a solitary activity. Then get together a couple of friends (I find women friends work best; in my experience men don’t have a clue about how a romance works), and take them down to your favourite bar and buy them a bottle of wine. Train your friends carefully, though. They must learn to keep coming up with ideas that you pooh-pooh, and not mind while you sneer that their clever idea would never work, and then decide that if you just twisted it slightly, it just might, so that you can claim all the credit yourself.

I’ll always start with something subtle along the lines of ‘Oh God, what am I going to do, I’ve got to start writing tomorrow and I haven’t got a plot!’ accompanied by much hand-wringing and hair-tearing. I’ll then give them what I’ve got, which at this stage is perilously little. So, for instance, when it came to the duet I’m writing now, I told them that there had to be two stories, one set in the outback and one in London. What if, I said, there were two sisters, and one went to Australia, leaving behind a distraught boyfriend? And what if the other sister fell in love with him while she was comforting him? So why would the first one go to Australia, answer me that? And why does the second sister fall in love with the boyfriend when he’s being such a drip?

The ideas my friends came up with were really interesting, especially as they both have sisters and I don’t, so it’s rather a mysterious relationship to me. (I don’t have children either, and I find them really helpful when it comes to heroines who are single mothers and what they would/would not be prepared to do for their children.) Naturally, I didn’t tell them this though. I just sat there pouring the wine and saying , ‘No, no, that wouldn’t work’/’Nope, I’ve done that before’/‘No self-respecting woman would ever do that’/‘Heroes don’t do that kind of thing’ until they got quite cross with me. This is always the point when I tell them loftily to write their own books if that’s the story they want.

Having wrung them dry, I went home and – take note, because this is the critical point in the whole plotting process - I had a bath. Not just any bath, of course. A plotting bath requires closed curtains, candles, music, a drink and a resolution not to think at all as I sink back into the bubbles with a sigh. At the recent RNA conference I attended a session on overcoming writer’s block, and someone suggested that fragrances could help the creative process. I suspect it’s more the ritual of it all that works for me, but amazingly it does work.

Somehow all the wild ideas that have been whirling around my head thanks to my plotting team’s input settle down. It’s as if the debris sinks to the bottom and I’m left with a few nuggets that suddenly take shape and make sense. Of course sister two has always been in love with the boyfriend, that’s why sister one rushes off to Australia … and then it all starts to fall into place. I can’t tell you what a relief it is when that happens! I have always believed I should be able to claim the cost of my bathroom – a thing of beauty, as you can see - against tax, but my accountant insists that I can’t, which just goes to show how much he knows about writing.

So where do you go to find your inspiration? Any funny tales of overheard conversations or epiphanies in strange places? Tell us!

Jessica is a winner of the pretigious RITA award for Best Traditional Romance.

Her latest Harlequin Romance novel, BUSINESS ARRANGEMENT BRIDE is out now in North America and the UK!!!

Find out more at her website.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Writers Wednesday with Margaret McDonagh

This Wednesday we bring you Margaret McDonagh’s story of her road to publication as a brand new Medicals author...

I am so honoured to have been asked to contribute a guest blog for the fabulous Pink Heart Society! Many thanks to Trish, Nic, Ally, and Natasha for all their hard work and for doing such a fantastic job. It's been a wonderful first month and a half since the re-launch with some fabulous posts ... and men!!

I cannot remember a time when my nose wasn't buried in a book. My parents fostered my love of reading from an early age and I devoured everything I could get my hands on. I adored classics like the Anne of Green Gables series and The Secret Garden. I loved the Famous Five and Secret Seven, the adventure books by Willard Price, and the Sue Barton nurse books by Helen Dore-Boylston. Most of all I loved the wonderful pony books that kept me entertained for hours on end ... authors like Mary O'Hara, Ruby Ferguson and the Pullein-Thompson sisters inspiring my dreams and my imagination. I wanted to write, too.

The last months have sped by in a whirl, ever since I received the phone call telling me that Harlequin Mills & Boon® were to buy my manuscript for their Medical Romance™ line! It was a dream come true and one, after twenty years of writing story collection, serials and magazine short stories, I believed would never happen. I was stunned, tearful, in shock ... and so excited! It took me a while to prize myself off the ceiling! Now, ten months on, my first Medical is on the shelves!!! THE ITALIAN DOCTOR'S BRIDE is in the shops now and available online at and I still cannot believe it is actually happening, that I won't wake up any time soon and find it is all a dream. And I have been so lucky and grateful to receive some lovely feedback about the book plus a delightful 4½ star review on Cataromance. All I can hope is that people will enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them. I've chosen rural Scotland as my settings because I love the feel of close-knit communities and medical professionals for whom caring is more than a job. As well as the natural beauty of the area, the people are wonderful, and I've loved the place since my very first family holiday there as a youngster!

It's a hard life having to sit and stare at a picture of a yummy man all day long and write romantic and sexy things about him! I have a great “rogues gallery” of photos to call on - (maybe I can share some of them with you one day in a Male on Monday slot!) - and on which I base a look or a mood or a trait for my characters. For delicious Italian, Nic di Angelis in THE ITALIAN DOCTOR'S BRIDE, I used a photo of Spanish national football goalkeeper Iker Casillas. My sadness at having to file his picture away when the manuscript was done was only eased by throwing myself into the next set of characters and getting out a new hero photo to begin work on!

I always fall in love with my heroes and hate to say goodbye to characters who have become like friends by the time their story has been written. Consequently, my second and third Medicals are loosely linked to the first, and I hope readers will enjoy returning to beautiful Scotland, meeting up with familiar characters again as well as getting to know new ones. A DOCTOR WORTH WAITING FOR is out in paperback in March 2007 while HIS VERY SPECIAL NURSE is out in paperback in June 2007.

How can I be sharing shelf space with some of my very favourite category romance authors whose books I have read and enjoyed and found an inspiration for so long? I feel very unworthy – like the gauche new girl in big school for the first time! - terrified but ecstatic at one and the same time. I'm so grateful to my wonderful editors for making this happen and to all the writing friends I have met and who have been so generous with their advice and so unstinting in their support. Romance writers are a terrific bunch of people.

So many people turn their noses up at the mention of romance novels ... usually the ones who have never read them. They smirk and snigger, they think that the books are either written to a set formula – just insert different character names and locations – or that they are so easy to write they can be bashed off in the lunch hour while busy doing more important things. Nothing could be further from the truth. The genre has developed immensely over time; fresh voices emerge, life changes and the books reflect that. The critics do a disservice not only to those who write romantic novels but to those who read them. Romances are not about feeble-minded women bullied by some over-bearing man. Far from it. Our women are strong, feisty, independent creatures with minds of their own, successful in their walk of life, able to take care of themselves, often having overcome unhappy pasts or difficult circumstances. They don't need a man but when the right one comes along, watch out! The man has to be a match for them, partner and equal, friend as well as lover, and getting together makes each of them stronger rather than weaker.

Romances don't lead the readers to yearn for the impossible dream and an unrealistic man. No, romantic novels are fun and escapist, they open new worlds, often give readers a break from real-life problems and issues that might otherwise offer little relief, they entertain, absorb, make a reader laugh, cry and involve themselves in a heart-warming, moving story. And just because a book might be easy to read does not mean it was easy to write! Quite the opposite. As writers we never stop learning, never stop trying to improve, never take our characters or our readers for granted. Writing is hard, often lonely but it is also a privilege and a real joy.

The Pink Heart Society is a real boost for readers and writers of romance! It is a lot of fun and I, for one, am honoured and grateful to be included and to share in it with so many wonderful, like-minded people.

Happy reading!

Best wishes,


Margaret’s first book, THE ITALIAN DOCTOR'S BRIDE is in the shops now and available online at and!

Thanks Margaret and good luck with your writing future!!!

Margaret's Website

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Temptation Tuesday - Apple Day

It's no good - whenever I think of 'Temptation' I think of men and food. Probably in that order, but it's a close run thing. Yesterday we had Ally's Christian Bale. So that leaves me food.

And since it's October, and, here in the UK the 21st October is Apple Day, you're going to get Apples.

Apple orchards have long been a quintessential part of the English landscape, particularly in Kent, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, but things are changing. For very many reasons, since 1970 we've seen something like two-thirds of our apple orchards disappear.

Hence Apple Day. Set up to encourage people to cherish their heritage, grow and buy a wider variety of apples.

In my part of the country that happens at Bromham Mill. Set on the River Great Ouse, it's a 17th century restored Watermill. I've got to put it in a book some day.

And, maybe, some of these apple names. They are just fantastic!

Ashmead’s Kernel - not so very attractive this one. It's a greenish-yellow with brown russet tones and crisp flesh.

Cox’s Orange Pippin - our most popular dessert apple, probably because it holds its shape well. It's a pale green apple flecked with orange or brown russet tones.

Discovery - a brilliant crimson-red apple with a pale greenish background. Its crisp flesh doesn't keep, so prepare to see wrinkly skin within a week.

Howgate - it's a round apple with yellow-green skin often flushed with shades of orange and brown. This is a good cooking apple, rivalling Bramleys.

Lord Lambourne - a greenish-yellow apple with broken stripes of red that is beautifully crisp, tasting of lemon and rosewater.

Slack-me-girdle - A cider apple.

But all of that is a little too healthy to be considered truly tempting, so I give you Mary Berry's Canterbury Tart. I'm not even going to tell you how many calories there are per slice!


For the pastry
100g/4oz butter, cubed
200g/8oz plain flour
25g/1oz icing sugar, sifted
1 egg, beaten

For the filling
4 eggs
200g/8oz caster sugar
2 lemons, rind and juice only, grated
100g/4oz butter, melted
2 large Bramley apples (about 350g/12oz in weight), peeled (Bramley's being apples you couldn't possibly eat without cooking.)
2 dessert apples, peeled and thinly sliced
25g/1oz demerara sugar

1. If making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the beaten egg and bring together to form a dough. This can also be done in a food processor.
3. Chill for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and line a round 28cm/11in (3.5cm/1½in deep) flan tin. Form a lip around the edge. Chill for a further 30 minutes while making the filling.
4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
5. To make the filling, beat the eggs, caster sugar, lemon rind and juice together in a large mixing bowl.
6. Stir in the warm melted butter.
7. Coarsely grate the Bramley apples directly into the mixture and mix well.
8. Remove the tart from the fridge and spread the runny lemon mixture over the base.
9. Level the surface with the back of a spoon and arrange the dessert apple slices around the edge, overlapping.
10. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
11. Put on a heavy baking tray and bake in the oven for about 40-50 minutes until the centre feels firm to the touch and the apples are tinged brown.
12. Serve.


Natasha's latest release is: Accepting The Boss's Proposal a Harlequin Romance.

Check out more about this book at her website!

Or check out what Natasha is working on now at her Blog.

Male on Monday...Christian Bale

This week's inducteee into the hero hall of fame is Ally Blake's favourite actor ever. The fact that other people are beginning to know who he is feels like both a blessing and a curse. But in the spirit of love and sharing that is the Pink Heart Society, she is willing to share, a very little bit...

Christian Bale has been my favourite actor since I was 13 years old when a friend introduced me to Empire of the Sun. I can repeat whole scads of his dialogue even today. "B-52 Cadillac of the sky.....!" "I can't rmember what my mother looked like...she had...brown hair." "It looked like God taking a photograph."

For years he was mine. All mine. Through A Murder of Quality giving him words to speak written by my favourite author John le Carre. In Henry V where he played "the boy" and died so tragically I cry for the last half hour of the film every time I watch it.

It's always tricky for a child actor to make the leap into adult films. And Baley - my pet name - not only leapt. He danced!

For then came Newsies - an all-singing, all-dancing musical about the poor urchin newspaper delivery boys fight for rights against the likes of Randolph Heart at the turn of the century. Directed by Kenny Ortega who did the choreography for Dirty Dancing and the Boy From Oz this movie created a phenomenen called the Baleheads - young female fans devoted to the Christian Bale cause. And at one stage Mr Bale was the most downloaded guy on the internet! I own that movie on VHS, DVD, CD I have an orignial two-sided movie poster and I know EVERY word of every song.

Perhaps as some way to revolt against the teen idol he had become, Mr Bale went onto play a gay music journo in Velmet Goldmine. An undernoursihed in The Machinist. A teenaged nazi sympathiser in Swing Kids. This guy ain't afraid to make us not love him! In fact, I kind of believe that's his mission. to bring out an emotional repsonse in his audience. Whether it's revulsion, fear, sadness, or symapthy. But somehow, we sawthrough it all. And we wanted more.

So he gave us American Psycho.

Now I know this one is a polariser! Some love it, others think it the most self-indulgent pile of claptrap ever written. I am one of the former. I love the book, and think it an amazing, brilliant, unique satire of the self-infdulgent 80's. The enitre chapters are dedicated to the brilliance of Huey Lewis and the News. The way the chapters simply finish in the middle of the sentence as the writer becomes bored with the subject matter. Brilliant! And as to the movie. Adore it. It's harsh, bitter, shallow, sarcastic, violent, and just hilarious!!! "I have to return some videotapes" is one of the best lines ever written!

And it stars Christian Bale in a part that he just inhabited from the lack of soul outward. From his newly capped teeth to his newly grown muscles and his newly long hair. And that body. Mwoah. Sorry that was me losing all ability to speak.

And how can we forget Reign of Fire in which he saved the world from the dragons and easily managed to out-sexy Matthew McConannaghy with his thinking woman's appeal................

Okay, sorry, I lost it for a second again there.

Fun facts!

  • He was born January 30th 1974 - the same year as me!
  • He got married in Las Vegas in 2000 - the same place as me!
  • He married Winona Ryder's personal assistant and they have a baby - okay no similarity there
  • Did you realise he played the Penelope Cruz's boyfriend to Nicholas Cage's other man in the goooorgeous Captain Corelli's Mandolin?
  • His next movie is The Prestige with none other than the Pink Heart Society's mascot - Hugh Jackman. Wild horses couldn't hope to keep me away!!!

I love that he's not pretty. I love that he's not commercial. I love that his nose is crooked, and he has dark marks under his eyes. His face feels lived in. Pained. Haunted. Loved. He is deep and interesting and private. He is smart, sexy, has a voice to melt wax, and he's Batman.

Seriously, what more could a girl want?


For Ally's latest book WANTED: OUTBACK WIFE she used - surprise, surprise - Christian Bale as the inspiration for her hero Heath. And again he is the basis for her current work in progress a Modern Extra! He is a man of many talents.

For more piccies of CB, check out her blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Spotlight on Rebecca York

This week, we here at The Pink Heart Society, are both honoured and excited to shine our spotlight on Best-Selling, Award winning Author Rebecca York!!! Also writing as Ruth Glick, she has penned over 90 novels, including authoring or co-authoring over 40 in the Romantic Suspense genre...


Like many writers, I always loved making up stories. Mine were full of adventure, romance, and suspense. As a child, I roped my friends into adventure games or acted out romantic suspense stories with a cast of dolls. And after we emerged from our Saturday afternoon at the movies, I’d get my friends to play the parts of the characters we’d seen on the screen.

But I’m dyslexic. I had a terrible time in elementary school. I had trouble learning to read. And my spelling was awful. I was the kid the teacher called up to the front of the room so she could yell at her in front of the class. So I never assumed I could be an author. My life changed, however, with the invention of th
e word processor and spelling checker--and the help of my husband, Norman Glick, who spots spelling errors from fifty paces away.

It blows my mind to think about people who have never written anything for publication and start off with a 100,000-word novel. I started writing newspaper and magazine articles–then began taking a writing seminar at my local community college, where I listened to people reading chapters of novels. That was where I started my first novel–a kids’ science fiction story called THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS. Around that time, romances were also becoming an important part of the market. I got a group of four of us together, and we wrote and edited a romance together. Believe it or not, we sold it. I wrote straight romances for a few years. Then I figured out I’m better at romantic suspense. That’s been my focus for the past 20 years. And I love adding the paranormal elements that I enjoyed in the books I read when I was a kid.

At the same time, I’ve kept up my non-fiction career with fifteen cookbooks. Recently, I updated my DIABETES SNACK MUNCH NIBBLE NOSH BOOK for the American Diabetes Association. They’re putting out a mainstream edition called SNACK ATTACK later this year.

In my fiction career, I’m still writing for my favorite Harlequin line, Harlequin Intrigue. And I’m writing bigger books for Berkley Sensation. I have two series going. My werewolf Moon books and my Beyond series on sexually linked telepaths.


Where do you get the inspiration for your books from?

I write about subjects that interest me. I might get ideas from a newspaper article I’ve read or from movies or from some of the books I read when I was a young. For example, since I first read THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, I’ve been interested in the concept of a parallel time continuum. I used that idea in my next Berkley, NEW MOON, coming out in March 2007. The heroine is from an alternate universe that started out like ours, but became very different. In her world, lots of people have psychic powers—which developed from an event near the turn of the century.

When I was fifteen, I read DARKER THAN YOU THINK, by Jack Williamson. It was my first werewolf story, and Williamson made me want to BE a werewolf. In 1990, I read THE WOLF’S HOUR, by Robert McCammon. Those two books made me want to write a werewolf book. I came up with the idea of a werewolf detective who used his wolf senses to solve crimes. It took me a long time to write that story because I wondered, “Who would buy that from me?” Finally, I decided I HAD to write the story. And I was really glad when Berkley wanted to buy it.

What makes you mad?

People who talk in movie theaters.
People who talk loudly on cell phones in restaurants.

People who push their way into lines.
Constant interruptions when I’m trying to work.

What’s the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?

When my husband bought me a romantic cruise—and gave me a choice of going to Alaska or the Greek Islands.

What in a hero makes you drool?

A macho, in-charge guy, whose personality was formed by a sorrow in his past or a difficult childhood, who meets a woman who has the power to change his life. They find themselves in terrible danger, and he realizes that if he can’t save her life, his own life isn’t worth living.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

Landscape architect.

What do you do to relax and wind down?

I garden, read, cook, watch Home and Garden TV. I like wandering through beautiful gardens. I’m a workaholic, so I also love finding a beautiful spot to work. I’ve even created that in my sunroom at home. But I also like taking a trip to a plush resort where I can work half the day and play half the day..

How do you get out of a writing rut?

What’s a writing rut?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I love living near Washington, D. C. I feel I am near a center of power in the world. I know some people have summer homes. It would be hard to transport three cats to a summer home. If I could do that, I’d like a house on the water.
Who would you most like to give a hug to for a fabulous book you’ve read?

Jack Williamson. But I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be hugged.

What music do you listen to when writing?

I usually don’t listen to music when I write. I might turn on classical music, though.

Tell us a secret nobody knows about you?

Nobody? If it’s that deep a secret, I certainly can’t tell YOU.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Long ago, at the national conference of Romance Writers of America, I listened to a presentation by a publisher. Afterwards, I rushed up to my agent and said, “They didn’t say ANYTHING.” Later she told me she’d been speaking to the publicist for that publishing house when I blurted out my announcement.

What have you had to celebrate in the last year?

I came home from a conference in upstate New York to find out that I’d gotten two nominations for the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award. For my novella, “Second Chance,” in MIDNIGHT MAGIC, a paranormal romance anthology published by Tor, and for SHADOW OF THE MOON, my last paranormal romantic suspense from Berkley

This year I added a new entrance hall to my house. Above it, in the old master bath area, we built a wonderful new bathroom and a huge closet. It’s like being in a luxury hotel every day.

What’s beside your computer when you’re writing?

A cup of tea and, ideally, a nice fluffy cat. Ozzie or Harriet. Ozzie’s the mom, and “Harry” is her daughter. They’re rescued cats with a lot of Maine Coon genes. The purebred cat, an Abyssinian, is my husband’s cat. She sits beside HIS computer.

If you could kiss anyone in the world who would it be?

My Husband!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on two books. One’s finished, and I’ve put it aside before editing it. It’s a Harlequin Intrigue called ROYAL LOCKDOWN about terrorists who turn off the electricity all over Boston and terrorize an international reception. My hero’s a security expert trapped at the reception with a princess. I’m also writing a sequel to one of my Berkley books, BEYOND CONTROL. It’s called BEYOND FEARLESS and continues the story of my sexually linked telepaths whose powers are turned on when they become intimate with each other.

Thanks Rebecca!!!

CHAIN REACTION is Rebecca's October Harlequin Intrigue. It’s the first book in the Security Breach series. Next up are Ann Voss Peterson and Patricia Rosemoor. The cool thing about the series is that the explosion gives some of the heroes paranormal powers. But it also gives them to some of the bad guys...

And in November Rebecca's Berkley bookMOON SWEPT hits the shelves. Be sure to look out for it!!!

You can visit Rebecca at her Website or her Blog