Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday Surprise - Launch of the PHS FinDaBoo!

So one of your resolutions for 2007 is to Finish the Damn Book??? Well, you're not alone! And we here at The Pink
Heart Society are going to be here with you every step of the way with tips, hints and links and guest Authors who have been where you are right now and know what it takes to get the book written all the way to the words - The End...

The main thing to remember when you make the decision to sit down and write that book that has been in your head for so long - is that the only one setting you a deadline is you! We all have busy lives, families to take care of, commitments to work and that little thing known as getting through the day, so finding the time to sit and write can be the first challenge... And we at The Pink Heart Society thought if you could all band together for moral support and with a few helpful hints along the way, it might help to get those creative juices flowing and encourage you to keep going til you get to the end...

So this first post is all about Getting Organized and ready to Finish The Damn Book....

1/ Decide what kind of a book you're going to write - This involves spending time on the internet, so yaay you, you're already halfway there...
We all know what we like to read, but what we like to read and what we will be able to do the best job of as a writer are often poles apart. Unfortunately. But when it comes to category romance the chances are what you like to read most of is what you'll find *easier* to write. (In theory). So once you've read lots and lots and decided what is your kind of *thing* then head over to the computer and browse the internet to find out what that particular publisher lists as their criteria for the line you want to pitch and how to get them to look at it. Eharlequin in particular has a wealth of information for aspiring writers, as does the Mills And Boon website... So get thee off and research! (After you've finished reading this blog of course...)

2/ Decide where you're going to write - Sounds silly. And the answer isn't as simple as 'at the computer'.

Having a place where you sit down to work is going to make that place become your *office* - even if your office is just a corner of the kitchen table or a comfy chair with your laptop on your legs... The main thing is that there are no distactions from the world you are creating so that you are focussed on what you are doing. So plan ahead - think of where you are going to sit down to write and...
3/ Set aside the time from your usual schedule - Because the only way to get the thing written is to make the time to write it!

The beauty of this first book is there is no deadline set in stone. You can be as quick or as slow as you need to be. It's not a race! The main thing is to finish it - cos that's an achievement in itself!!! And any book that you write is a learning process. So decide how much time you can spare, preferably when the house is fairly quiet, and even if you only manage 50 or 100 words, keep going! But don't stress if your life gets in the way from time to time. You're hopefully doing this because you love to write, so remember that. Enjoy it. There's time enough to worry about deadlines and scheduling and all that when you sell...

4/ Look into having someone who can read your work - Family and friends can almost be too nice for this job as they won't always tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but...

This doesn't always work for everyone, but a lot of people swear by a critique partner in the early stages of their writing. The best ones will be ones who are targetting the same line you are, so that you both have an idea of what your looking for. And it doesn't have to be someone next door, they can live a half a planet away thanks to the internet! But just like our PHS Diet Club, simply knowing that someone else is right there with you can be incentive enough to keep going during the dark times. Which *will* come. And you can learn as much from critiquing someone elses work as you can from having a fresh set of eyes look over your own...

5/ Remain flexible - By remaining flexible with both your writing schedule and your writing itself you can avoid undue angst along the way!

We've all been there when it comes to dark moments when writing - no matter how many books we do! So be prepared by not beating yourself up if the book isn'st as far along as you had planned on it being and if you write yourself into a corner don't be afraid to go back and edit with avengeance!!! Unless you're the kind of person who plans their book to the letter before they begin, an sometimes even with that planning, once you get a few chapters in your characters and the story may lead you on a path that either doesn't work or takes you in a different direction to the one you had planned. This doesn't mean you have failed to tell the story, it doesn't mean the characters or motivation or conflicts haven't worked, it just means you need to have a bit of a re-think. So be prepared to be flexible!!!

So we're inviting all you budding authors to band together here with us at The Pink Heart Society to make 2007 the year that you Finish the Damn Book. Our guest Editor, Jenny Hutton, said herself that they are actively seeking new writers!!! So why shouldn't that writer be you??? And we all know what a friendly and amazingly talented bunch we have amongst our members so don't be afraid to ask for advice either! You may get varying different answers but that's just the thing, isn't it? No one method of working will work for every single writer. Every writer is individual. Just like you are. But every one of us here at the PHS loves to welcome new writers into the fold - and the best way to get to that place is to Finish the Damn Book!!!

We will have varying pieces of advice from the PHS Editors and from guest authors (the first of which next month is Kate Walker whose 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance has proven such a success for so many newly bought authors!) And we invite you to copy and paste the logo at the top of this post onto your Blog if you are joining in...

So, who's in??? Come let us know if you're joining in and don't be afriad to shout if you're looking for a critque partner... You'll even get a special logo to place on your Blog when you finish!!!

And next week look out for Ally Blake's first piece of advice!!!

H's & K's Trish

Trish's latest release is her upcoming (and favourite book to date!) February book for Modern Extra entitled Breathless! It is available to pre-order on the Mills & Boon website in January...

To find out more you can visit her Website or see what she's up to at her Blog

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday Talk Time with Terri Brisbin

This week The Pink Heart Society brings you a brilliant author for Harlequin Historicals. Please give a warm PHS welcome to Terri Brisbin!

Getting My Markers All Lined Up. . .
or the Prelude to Writing Panic!
Every year, in mid-December, I buy a new wall calendar, line up my markers by color, and prepare to prepare for the upcoming year. Each member of my family gets their own color and I decorate the dates of everyone’s birthdays with colors and sparkles and those markers that do little squiggly signs and designs. I’m not sure how this habit developed but it seems to feed the obsessive-compulsive, detail-oriented side of my personality. (Oh, did I tell you – I’m a dental hygienist in real life….picky, picky, picky!)

This year, for lots of reasons (good ones,too!), the calendar hasn’t even been bought yet and the new year spreads out before me in chaos. The thought of it, of not being prepared, of not having dates and deadlines marked in pretty colors, has sent me running in terror. In trying to figure out why it’s so important to me, I realized that this process of preparation is not dissimilar from the one I use when I face my writing deadlines.

Okay, first it’s time for a confession. I am a deadline binge writer who writes the bulk of her books (or other projects) in the last days before they’re due. For books, the majority of the book is written in the three weeks leading to D-day. So knowing my schedule for the months ahead is crucial when sitting down to write a book. I’ve discovered that I begin to prepare to write a few weeks or even a few months ahead.

I’m doing it now!

I have started warning my family I have an approaching deadline. I’ve begun blocking out weekends on the calendar (using my emergency pocket one until I get the real thing up!) and pushing some flexible things farther back into 2007. I’ve started handling all the little commitments I’ve already have agreed to and doing the things I need to do – like write this blog post, finish putting away Christmas stuff, organizing and limiting the signings and other promo things I’m doing for my January book. And, I’ve begun telling myself that I have a book to write.

Why does this work for me? Well, I think of this as psychological training. Each time I think ‘deadline’, my brain hears it and it begins to sink in. Soon, I will feel the pressure to write build and everything falls into place. The characters talk to me and then scream at me to tell their story. I can hear and see scenes and my fingers itch to type them. And before long, my book will be written.

I do wish my process was different – this deadline binge writing thing is not for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart nor, I suspect, a person of my advancing years! I would like to handle my writing in an orderly, even fashion, writing X number of pages each day and completing the book with time to spare to edit and revise it endlessly. But I realized a long time ago (aka the second book I ever wrote back in 1997) that my brain doesn’t work that way and my creativity flows best under pressure.

So, how do you approach your writing? Even, organized approach or deadline binger? Or something in between?
Terri's latest release from Harlequin Historicals, The Earl's Secret, is on shelves now.
Stop by her website to learn more about Terri, her books, and her penchant for helping new writers (the ToBeez).
Thanks Terri!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Writers Wednesday - Lori Borril

This week The Pink Heart Society brings you one of the very latest authors for the Blaze Line. Please give a warm PHS welcome to Lori Borril!


An Oregon native, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area just out of high school and have been a transplant Californian ever since. By day, I'm a data analyst for an insurance company where I've been employed for over 20 years, and when I'm not there, I'm spending most of my time at little league fields cheering on my 10-year-old son with my husband of 18 years.


My first brush with the publishing industry was six years ago when my son started Kindergarten. I'd written two hysterically funny short humor articles on parenting that I'd submitted to magazines such as Family Circle and Parents.

Unfortunately, I was the only one who found them hysterically funny, and after a slew of badly photocopied form rejection letters, I gave up. It wasn't until about three years later when my husband quit his full-time job to go into business for himself that I gave writing another try. His new job gave him much more free time to help with the house and our son. Suddenly, I had a lot of time on my hands, began reading lots of fiction, discovered romance, and after pouring over dozens of romance novels, decided I would try to write one of my own.

I was one of those stupid people who thought it would be easy, but even though reality hit me hard and fast, by the time I realized it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, I'd become stubborn and determined to learn the craft. So I joined RWA, took some writing classes, bought every book on the craft I could find, and hooked up with two awesome writers,
Kira Bazzel and Leeanne Kenedy, who showed me the ropes and kept me sane.

I think I was about a year into it when I wrote the first version of Private Confessions. It had started out as a novella targeted to no market in general. At that time in my writing career, I felt I needed to get in touch with my voice and my own style as a writer, and I was finding the Harlequin guidelines too much of a distraction. I was spending so much time worrying about what I "can" and "can't" write for this line or that, that I wasn't focusing on the things that would really get me published, like voice and personal style. So I threw away the rules and just wrote something for myself. When I sent it out to my CPs, both came back telling me it was a Blaze and that I should query it there.

The irony was that it was 20,000 words too short and I was at a place where I'd convinced myself I wasn't ready for Harlequin. Seriously--this is no joke--I queried it to Blaze with the intent of getting rejected so that I could tell my loving CPs "See? I told you so. Now can we forget about Harlequin?"
And of course, what I got was a request instead.

It wasn't until over a year later that I got the call from Kathryn Lye that they wanted to buy the manuscript, and even though I've got a copy of the book in my hand, it still doesn't feel real. Unfortunately, they haven't given me the luxury of letting it all sink in.

Despite the fact that they've got a second requested full on their desk, my next release will be Book #2 in their "Million Dollar Secrets" continuity series coming out in August, 2007. Like so often in my life, I'm finding myself thrown into the deep end right from the start, which will either make me stronger or kill me. I'd been asked to do it back in August and told I'd receive the bible (the document that tells me what my book is about) soon after. Well, it was only just before Christmas that I got the green light on the story line and was free to start writing--and the book is due February!!

So the moral of the story is if you're an aspiring writer, get good at writing books! Even if those early manuscripts only make it as far as your closet, that experience will come in handy.

Lori's Blaze debut, Private Confessions, is on shelves in February 2007! And avaiable online now.

You can find details on her website, or watch her get ready for her August release on her "Underneath It All", part of the Harlequin Blaze "Million Dollar Secrets" continuity series starting July, 2007!

Temptation on Tuesday...Tropical Getaways

Okay, so it's been a week since we started the Pink Heart Society Writers' Diet Club.

So just to get everyone in the mood, to get them primed and pumped and to add a little extra motivation, I thought perhaps we could all think a bit about the kind of place in which you cannot where top to to clothing even if you wanted to. The kind of place where less is more. Where skin is in. Where *gulp* bikinis and sarongs take over from regular clothing...

Far North Queensland

Beautiful one day. Perfect the next. That's the ad line they use to encourage people from all over the world to come visit the tropical north of Australia. And they ain't kidding. Mid-winter? 26 degrees and sunny. Every day.

Think Coronas with so much condensation they all but slip through your palms. Crocodile steaks for lunch and seafood buffets for dinner.

Palm Cove is my holiday destination of choice. A resort town on a lovely crescent beach. Fabulous hotels hidden behind huge palm trees and glorious green gardens. More restaurants than shops. Fabulous place!

From Palm Cove, it is a quick 40 minute boat ride through some, I must admit, choppy waters, to Green Island. But it's worth it. (Take salty biccies to nibble on the way ;)) Pristine white sands. Water so blue it makes your eyes hurt. And the chance to snorkel less that twenty metres out into the shwllow waters of the beach. Coral of every shape and colour. And the fish. Finding Nemo wasn't set in this part of the world for nothing!

Head south and you hit Cairns, a city, but not like a city. Laid-back, sunny, lathered in toursists and with the scent of sunscreen forever on the air. Here you can trawl the casino, laze by the huuuuuge created pool, or spend a lazy day at the markets. Or take the skyrail over the Barron River to the hippy mountain town of Kuranda.

Head inland and you hit the Atherton Tablelands. Waterfalls everywhere you look. Some so perfect they look like they must have ben built by some clever set designer. Some so rugged and impossible to get to they look like something one would have found a billion years ago.

And do check out Barbara Hannay's absoloutely delightful blog all about her adventures setting up a home away from home in this gooorgeous part of the world.

And we can't forget Paranella Park. A beautiful old mansion and surrounds built by a settler for his wife many decades ago. It is a gem. A fairytale estate growing out of the rain forest. Destroyed twice by fires it is now an echo of the maginficent home it once was. But still stunning.

Head North and you hit glamorous Port Douglas. Rugged Mosman Gorge. And glorious Cape Tribulation. Some of the most beautiful beaches, and stunning rock pools, and scary rope bridges you'll ever hope to see!

Many of these sights ended up in my January book, Meant-To-Be Mother which is set in and around Carins. How could they not? There was simply too many goodies for a writer to feast upon!

And even though it has nothing to do with Far North Queensland here is a picture of my hero, James. Isn't he just gorgeous? Maybe he'll be encouragement enough to get you into a bikini? Hmmm??

Ally's latest book, Harlequin Romance Meant-To-Be Mother is available now in North America and the United Kingdom.

You can probably tell by the gorgeous cover that it is set in the tropics. And wouldn't we all like to look like her by the end of the year?

For more about the book, with blurbs, excerpts and behind the scenes info and pics, check out her website.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Male on Monday - Richard Armitage

This week The Pink Heart Society's very own Natasha Oakley introduces us to a potential romance hero in the form of English actor Richard Armitage...

Anyone else a fan of 'Vicar of Dibley'?

For those who don't know, it's a long-running UK comedy series (written by Richard Curtis of Notting Hill fame) about the life of a female vicar in a small Oxfordshire village - and it all came to an end over the Christmas holidays with two painfully funny feature-length episodes.

In them, Geraldine (Dawn French) is finally swept off her feet by a tall, dark and handsome stranger played by the very gorgeous Richard Armitage ... who just has to be my choice for Male on Monday this month.

Who can resist a man who fills a cottage doorway this perfectly???

Richard Crispin Armitage is 35 years old, 6ft 2" tall, with grey eyes and a voice that makes you feel like you've just stepped into a vat of chocolate.

He was born in Leicester on the 22 August, 1971 - which, I gather, makes him a Leo.

At 17 he joined a circus in Budapest, staying there for eight weeks and earning his Equity card (Equity is the UKs actors' union), and then trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

Richard has had a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, been in the West End and appeared in TV shows such as 'Cold Feet', 'Doctors' and 'Casualty' but I think his first 'break' came when he was cast as John Standring in the BBC production of 'Sparkhouse' (2002) which was loosely based on 'Wuthering Heights'.

His first leading role came in 2004 when he was cast as John Thornton in another BBC production - this one an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskill's 'North and South'.

As the charismatic and handsome cotton mill owner he became a serious rival to Colin Firth's Darcy in female affections and several internet forums experienced what's become known as 'Thornton-mania'. Visitors to the BBC Drama website voted him 2004's Best Actor and Most Desirable Drama Star.

As soon as the BBC closed their 'North and South' forums, his legions of female admirers formed themselves into 'the armitage army' and can be found by clicking here. Another website - - is his official fan site and occasionally he sends a message for the them to post.

Asked how he felt about this new identity as a sex symbol Richard replied that he wouldn't mind Colin Firth's career.

2005 saw Richard playing Angus in 'Macbeth', part of BBC's ShakespeaRe-Told series and Dr Alec Track in ITVs 'The Golden Hour'. This past year he's been on our screens as the young Claude Monet in the BBC's 'The Impressionists'.

Most recently he's been giving me a reason to keep my children company while they've watched the new BBC big-budget series of 'Robin Hood'. Richard plays the vain, brutish and ambitious Sir Guy of Gisborne - very, very well because even I didn't want him to get the girl! :)

He seems to be a private man and there's not much on the web about his life. Nevertheless, I've managed to track down a few interesting nuggets for you :
- His favourite TV programme is said to be 'Six Feet Under'.
- His favourite drink is vodka.
- He prefers bodices over bustles because bustles ‘are not sexy’.
- He can play the flute and the cello.
- He enjoys running and likes to go the gym. (See, no-one is perfect!!)

Oh, and he's not married. How could I have forgotten that! :)

With love Natasha

Natasha's latest release is her one and only Silhouette Romance before the line merges in Febraury with the new Romance line.

Millionaire Dad: Wife Needed is available in stores now and online at eharlequin.

You can check to see how Natasha is getting on with her Diet and with her writing at her Blog.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Spotlight on Barbara McMahon

This week at The Pink Heart Society we are proud to bring you, under our famous spotlight, Award Winning author Barbara McMahon!!!

About Barbara:

"It’s been an amazing twenty something years that I’ve been writing for Harlequin Mills & Boon. I started when I was working full time at an outside job, moved to writing full time in 1992 and have loved every moment. In 1994 we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the mountains and have lived life just like I would write about in a book. With more time to write, I’ve been able to branch out into different lines within Harlequin, writing for Romance and Silhouette Romance, Desire, Silhouette Special Editions and now SuperRomance. Still a couple of lines I haven’t tried, but who knows what the future will hold?

My writing time is pretty fixed. I write four mornings a week for 5 or 6 hours, then have the afternoon to do other things, like research, or errands. Fridays I volunteer at our local animal shelter. Weekends are free for family and friends. I don’t read much when writing, not wanting to be influenced by other writers, but between books, I read voraciously--books I’ve been buying all along and saving up for the between-books-reading-marathon."

Spotlight Interview:

Where do you get the inspiration for your books from?

I seem to get ideas for books from everywhere. One book I wrote had a hero who was a widower with two little girls and I got that idea from seeing a father at a county fair with two little toddlers. Another idea from a Lacey J. Dalton song, sometimes from things I see, or hear about, or ideas just pop into my mind.

What makes you mad?

Injustice. Especially things like the elderly being taken advantage of, or ball players making $18 Million when teachers make so little, or that a young mother is killed and murderers live for years--long after their victims have died.

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

A honeymoon at Las Brisas Resort in Acapulco, each room had a view of the bay, and an individual swimming pool, room service and floating flowers on the pool water. The weather was beautiful the entire time we were there and it was the perfect, romantic honeymoon.

What characteristics in a hero makes you drool?

Sexy cowboys.

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

Probably still be stuck in the corporate world where I used to be a VP of Administration--contracts, HR, shipping & receiving--how romantic, n’est pas?

What do you do to relax and wind down?

Read, read and read. Also play with my dogs.

How do you get out of a writing rut?

Take an “artist day” a la Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way). I live in the gold country of California, so roaming around gold rush towns is fun for the history, and all the cute little shops. I love sitting on the porch of an old gold rush era home that is now a coffee house, sipping a latte and people watching.

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

Right where I do. I love the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It’s rural, peaceful, and beautiful. Coolish in summer, and snow in winter, and totally wonderful year-round.

Who would you most like to give a hug to for a fabulous book you’ve read?

Almost too many to list in a day. I really enjoy reading all kind of books and have many that are favorites. Probably Jayne Ann Krentz is my very favoritest.

What music do you listen to when writing?

The same CD I’ve listened to for more than 12 years--day in and day out. Once I pop it into the player, it’s as if I zone out and get right into the story. I’m very much like Pavlov’s dog. It’s 101 All Time Favorite Classics. The 1812 Overture is my favorite, I usually play that several times in a row.

Tell us a secret nobody knows about you?

I tried to think of something but each thought that came to mind I’d think of someone who would know it. Unless I danced in a gossamer dress in the meadow in the moonlight alone, everything has a connection with someone. So perhaps my secret is I’d love to dance in a gossamer dress in the meadow in the moonlight, but never have.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Too awful to share!

What have you had to celebrate in the last year?

The birth of a new grandson in April. Contracts from my publishers, good news on sales, and another year of good health and happiness with family and friends.

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

Clutter. It piles up and up until the book is finished. Then I take a day to go through everything and clear the desk. It always looks great for about a week, then the paper piles start again.

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

I’d love to say my Mom, but she’s no longer in this world, so I guess I’d have to say my husband, or maybe my kids or grand kids. I’ve never really had a crush on a famous person so don’t really see myself in that kind of situation. But I wouldn’t mind Captain Jack Sparrow!

What are you working on now?

I’m in the midst of two books, which I try not to do. One is a book for Mills & Boon about a sheikh in the desert and the other is a cowboy book for Super Romance set in Wyoming, one of my favorite states. If I didn’t love California, I’d probably move to Wyoming.

Barbara's latest release is for the Romance line, as part of The Brides Of Bella Lucia series - The Nanny And The Sheikh is out in North America, Canada, the UK and Ireland now!! Barbara tells us: "I’ve done several books with sheikh’s as hero, but this was the first set on the Persian Gulf and the research was terrific. I liked my heroine in this book and was glad to see she more than enjoyed her visit to the sheikh’s country."

To learn more why not visit Barbara's website or the Dishing With The Diva's Blog where she blogs every couple of weeks...

Thanks Barbara!!!!!