Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Film Night - Bed Of Roses


Following on from Jenna Bayley-Burke's post on films that give a flavour for each of the category lines, this Friday at The Pink Heart Society fellow editor Trish Wylie brings you a film she feels captures the tone of the Romance line - Bed Of Roses...


He gave her flowers. She gave him a chance...

This is one of those movies that a lot of people probably missed when it was first released in 1996... and to be honest, if I weren't one of those people that feels they have to watch anything resembling a romance or a romcom for the sake of *research* - I might well have missed it too. And that would have been an awful shame y'know - cos this is a sweet film... it really is...

Written and directed by Michael Goldenberg, a playwright making his first film, Bed of Roses really is what it says it is, a sweet romance with emotional depth and a happy ending. Yup. Sounds like a Romance Line movie to me alright!

Set in New York, Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) is an investment banker with a busy career and a part time/casual boyfriend. When she receives a beautiful bouquet of flowers from an anonymous admirer, she's intrigued... and when she's told by her boss to take a break from work she finds herself with nothing to do... so decides to try and find out who sent them. The name of the store 'Lewis King Of Plants' is her first clue but no-one in the store seems to know who sent them. So she's sent in search of the delivery guy (Christian Slater), who is listening to a storytelling session in a local bookstore.

He knows who sent them, but he doesn't want to tell her who it is. And no amount of arguing from Lisa will persuade him to change his mind. So Lisa goes off to find her best friend, and they debate the romance versus the need to know. (I'd be torn there myself I have to say - I mean, what if Mister Anonymous was a prince in frog mode?)

After nightmares from her past awaken her from her sleep, she is looking at her flowers - and glances down out of her window to see the delivery guy in the street looking up at her apartment. She's understandably a bit freaked by that - and goes to confront him the next day...

Delivery Guy: I sent you the flowers.
Lisa: You…?
Delivery Guy: Erm… you see…I… uh… I like to take these walks. At, at night mostly. I.. I like to look up at all the darkened windows and just wonder what peoples lives are like and what they’re dreaming about – you know? And one night I was out pretty late and as usual all the windows were dark – except one. I stopped and I looked up. I saw you standing there and you were crying. And I thought; what was it that made you so sad?


He talks her into spending the day with him , despite her reservations, and in one magical afternoon she gets to see what few people do (especially busy career women) - the looks on the faces of the people he delivers flowers to and the joy they get from receiving them. Which is why he loves his job. They walk and talk when the deliveries are done and then he takes her to his rooftop garden where she suddenly realizes he’s not just the delivery guy…

Lisa: You’re Lewis.
Lewis: Yeah uh -It was my grandfathers name too. Actually I named the store after him.
Lisa: But you deliver flowers?
Lewis: I like to see peoples faces – when they’re just falling in love – or making up from a fight - even if they’re grieving... There’s something beautiful about a persons face at that moment. Yours was incredible – confused and shocked…

After kissing him she runs away – goes home – and shreds her flowers… Confused about her feelings… But Lewis keeps sending her flowers and sending her flowers – on the hour pretty much every hour - so she goes back to see him, determined to persuade him he’s wasting them on the wrong girl. Seeing him again changes her mind though. And that’s when Lewis opens up about his wife… She was his high school sweetheart, they got married and he went to work on Wall Street while she stayed at home and painted. While he climbed the ladder, she got pregnant – and one night he was working late when he got a call to say she had gone into labour and that there were complications…

Lewis: I lost everything in one second… So I just, I cashed out… Then one day I saw this guy who was delivering flowers and I thought maybe that’s what I should do – I’ll just, I’ll deliver flowers. Has to be the best job in the world – everyone is always happy to see you…
Lisa: One question – why me?
Lewis: I guess – I guess I finally looked up – and your light was on…

So a whirlwind affair begins, it’s beautiful, magical, perfect…But Lisa has conflicts of her own - a horrible childhood that has left its scars - and she’s scared of something so fast and so seemingly perfect. So by the time they begin to open up and talk about their families and Lewis tells her how wonderful his is – Lisa tells an equally as wonderful story – none of it true. But she knows she’s in love and practically moves in with him - still not telling him about her family – a subject her best friend disagrees with her on.

Then it's Christmas and Lewis is taking her to meet his family but she backs out last minute – finally telling him the truth about her past. Yes, she does change her mind, despite her fears of fitting in with Lewis’s family and her inability to believe that everything can remain as good as it has been… And his family is wonderful - but it's glaringly obvious to her that it's what she never had herself. It's almost too much – too perfect all over again - how can someone who doesn't really believe themselves capable of being loved deal when love surrounds them?

So when Lewis proposes to her in front of them all – she’s scared to death – and argues with him. He’s pushing too hard and too fast she says - she doesn't belong she says - and never will. (yes – it’s the dark moment folks…)

Lisa's Friend: Why are you so afraid to be happy – don’t you think that he’s worth the risk…?

Yes, there are elements of the film that probably go a *little* outside of the Romance remit (all the initial heroine relationship with a casual boyfriend being a prime example) But the tone is exactly right – the poignancy – the sheer awwww factor of the romance – the conflicts being worked through showing growth in the characters emotional journey – the dark moment – and yes, of course the HAPPY ENDING! When Lisa realizes she can’t do without Lewis and brings him flowers…

Lisa: Em – this is the part where you’re supposed to say wait – yeah see – I’m supposed to start to leave and… and that’s when… you forgive me for being such a coward and for being the last one to figure out what everyone else already knew. Then you call out ‘Wait - don’t go’ and I stop and we hold each other and then we know everything’s gonna be okay…
Lewis: I guess I’m not familiar with the procedure
Lisa: Yeah - I guess not. Erm… I guess I’ll see you around…
Lewis: Wait. Don’t go…. How was that?
Lisa: (crying) That was good.

So there you go - does it sound like a Romance Line movie to you??? It pretty much nails it in tone and emotion for me - but maybe if you see it you'll let me know what you think?

I give it a Warm and Fuzzy Rating of about 9.5/10 - but then I'm just picky...

H's & K's
Trish

Trish's latest release is for the Romance line. Rescued: Mother-To-Be is a Romantic Times Top Pick for April! And was recently reviewed over at The Pink Heart Society's Review Blog...

The book is available at both Amazon and EHarlequin. To find out more you can visit her Website or her Blog.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday Talk Time - Harlequin Romance Report 2007


Here at The Pink Heart Society we're shaking Thursdays up a little in the month of May - that's what happens when we all have time to think! So this month we're looking at some of the fun facts from Harlequin's 2007 Romance Report and next week we'll also be joining the madness that is Thursday Thirteens...

For those of you who might not know - every year Harlequin releases it's Romance Report with a wealth of survey's and fun facts about Romance in today's world... So we here at The Pink Heart Society thought we'd share some of the report with you and see what you think and if there's a little inspiration in there for you in either your own love life or in your writing...

Harlequin Survey Reveals Americans Ready For Romance Revolution
I Just Called To Say I Love You… But I Really Just Want To Have Sex...

Stevie Wonder may have been calling to say I love you, but the 2007 Harlequin Romance Report reveals that the intentions of Americans are far less honorable. According to a new survey from Harlequin, The Romance Revolution, a whopping 55% of American men and 41% of American women have said those three little words in the hopes that it would lead to sex.

“Many people perceive “I love you” as the secret password that gets them into the bedroom,” said Marleah Stout, Senior Public Relations Manager, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction. “But telling someone you love them because you think that’s what they want to hear is not romantic – it’s clichéd and outdated, and these days romance is a top priority for Americans.”

This year’s Harlequin Romance Report survey (www.press.eHarlequin.com/), which polled more than 3,000 men and women across Canada and the U.S., discovered that the U.S. is a nation of romantics. Ninety-two percent of men and 94% of women consider themselves romantic and surprisingly, almost half of all men (45%) consider themselves hopeless romantics. While the majority of American men (64%) and women (72%) want more romance in their lives, the problem is that 72% don’t know how to get it, believing that television and movies set impossible romantic standards.

Much like the sexual revolution that liberalized sex and forced discussion about sexuality out of the bedroom and into the public domain, The Romance Revolution, the focus of this year’s Romance Report, is all about helping people get in touch with their inner romantic. The report also explores how romance has changed and where it is headed, identifies the barriers to romance and explores romance in its new domain – online.

“People want romance that is accessible and natural to them, one that avoids clichés and stereotyped expectations,” said Stout. “The Romance Revolution is all about feeling comfortable and confident. Romance isn’t necessarily grand romantic gestures. It can be picking up your partner’s favorite movie on the way home from work, sending someone a sweet text message or preparing a meal together while enjoying each other’s company – all simple actions that tell the special person in your life how you feel about them.”

The survey also revealed that more than 87% of Americans believe that men and women have different ideas about what romance should be. While men and women may not be seeing eye to eye when it comes to what is or is not considered romantic, they certainly agree on one thing – it’s cool to be romantic (86%).

Well we here at The Pink Heart Society certainly agree it's cool to be romantic!

So what kinds of things did they include in the romance report this year? Well... here's a few snippets for you:

Free to be me – Men and women both indicated that they wanted more romance in their lives, but they want a romance that is genuine, comfortable and often unconventional. Almost two thirds of men and women disagreed with the idea that everyone should get married at some point in their lives.

To err is human, to forgive divine - Nearly three-quarters of the men (74%) and women (71%) would forgive their significant other if they flirted with someone else, but men are more likely than women to forgive their partner for having sex with somebody else (20% men versus 12% women).

Well, I never! – More than half of the men polled (55%) have sent a sexually explicit e-mail, text message or instant message to someone. A quarter of men (25%) and just under a quarter of women (22%) have had a cyber-affair. Sixteen percent of men and women have broken up with someone by e-mail, text message or instant message.

And next week we'll be back with some of the International Survey Results... Can you be forgiven for flirting with someone else faster if you lived somewhere else? How romantic are people from country to country? Does 'I love you' as a fast-track to the bedroom differ depending on what country you're in? All important things to know we here at The Pink Heart Society feel... And as a writer, will some of the fun results of whats Hot and what's Not effect what will be going into your books this year???

So join us here every Thursday in May and we'll bring you the low down on

The Romance Revolution!

Writers Wednesday with Kimberley Van Meter

This week we at the Pink Heart Society bring you the very excited Kimberley Van Meter who will very soon be multi-published with Harlequin SuperRomance!

About Kimberley:

An avid reader since before she can remember, Kimberly Van Meter started her writing career at the age of 16 when she finished her first novel, typing late nights and early mornings, on her mother’s old portable typewriter.

In addition to writing, reading, and drinking hot chocolate by the windowsill when it rains, Kimberly enjoys photography.

The oldest of four siblings and the mother of three children, Kimberly divides her time between soccer games, swim meets, bottle feedings, and deadlines.

The Call story:

It was the most fabulous day of my life (aside from the birth of my children, of course). It was early in the morning in March and I was just heading to a staff meeting.

I was holding my 6-month-old daughter (my office is pretty kid-friendly on certain days) when my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number so I was about to let it go to voice mail but at the last minute decided to answer. It was Johanna Raisanen from Harlequin Superromance and she wanted to buy my book!

I screamed, almost dropped my daughter (thank goodness, a coworker swooped in to save the day) and started crying. It was the most amazing moment.

The rest is a bit of a blur as I was too dazed to actually remember what words were being said. Thankfully, Johanna agreed to call back later in the day when my feet were back on the ground. It was really surreal, actually. I couldn't actually believe that I had sold my book.

It was such an unreal feeling, one I'd dreamt about forever but I'd gotten to the point where I wasn't sure I was ever going to sell. In fact, two nights before I got the call, I had written in my journal that I was absolutely positive that another rejection was coming my way.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Kimberley’s first book, The Truth About Family, was released in December 2006 and was a RT nominee in the best first book category.

Her second book, Father Material, comes out in July, which is part of a trilogy following the lives of three sisters. She is published by Harlequin Superromance.

Check out her website for more!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Temptation Tuesday - If at first you don't succeed

Yes, it's the first Tuesday in the month and that means we all get to evaluate how we're doing on the Pink Heart Society diet.

Ally has lost 0.9 kilos since January and says the secret of her 1/4 of a kilo per month loss is 'watching The Biggest Loser on TV'. Nic is planning on dropping the weight of an entire human being this month alone! Jenna and Trish are refusing to comment!

So how about you? Does your bottom now fit in your computer chair comfortably - or ... er ... not??

I have to hold my hand up here and say that I took a break. January was good in weight-loss terms. I was focused and I lost over a stone. But when my mum died I made the conscious decision to stop for a while. The fact that it was a deliberate choice means that I feel guilt free but it also means I have to re-start and have such a long long way to go.

It's all about finding the motivation, isn't it? And what works for me might not work for you. I found standing in upteen changing rooms trying on outfits for the RNA Awards Luncheon very motivating. But not in a positive way. I came home quite fed up!

I've decided it's time to stop making excuses and decide what it is I want. Either I accept I'm not going to get in my favourite jeans ever again or I must decide I want to do that more than I want a slice of banoffee pie.

If it's the former I ought to stop moaning and find the perfect pie recipe. But if it's the later I need to start visualising where I want to be.

I did start by putting up a very unflattering photograph of me as my desktop background picture. I thought if I looked at that several times a day it might stop me hitting the cheese and biscuits late at night.

Only that's so negative. I don't want to feel badly about myself. I want to feel positive about the changes I'm making in my life. Then I wondered whether other people's successes might be inspiring - but actually it isn't really because I'm still at the 'before'.

So now I've gone for a lovely one of Jeremy Northam. Much more cheering! He's my current hero, btw.

On the diet front this month I'm going to go for 'my body as a temple' idea. I'm going to take a proper break for lunch and not eat a sandwich over my keyboard. I'm also going to stop myself thinking it's not worth making something if it's just for me and eat things I really like. I'll let you know how it goes. But in the meantime, here's tomorrow's menu.


Cod with Orange and Parsley Couscous Crust

POINTS® Value: 1.5 WeightWatchers points
Servings: 4

An easy-to-make couscous crust gives a tasty new take on baked cod.

Ingredients

5 spray low-fat cooking spray
150 g cod, 4 x fillets
1 pinch salt, and freshly ground black pepper
75 g dried couscous
1 medium orange(s), finely grated zest and juice of
1/2 portion stock cube, or 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1 tablespoon parsley, fresh, or chives
1 medium portion cooked mixed vegetables, green

Instructions

1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190°C/375°F/fan oven 170°C.
2 Spray a baking tray with low fat cooking spray and arrange the cod fillets on top. Season with salt and pepper.
3 Put the couscous into a heatproof bowl and add the orange zest and juice. Dissolve the stock powder or cube in 100ml boiling water and pour over the couscous. Stir, then stand for 5 minutes to swell. Add the parsley or chives.
4 Share the couscous between the cod, pressing it over the surface of each fillet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
5 Serve the fish with the cooked green vegetables.

Notes

Use the finely grated zest and juice from 1 lemon instead of the orange, for a change.


Orange Lemon Custard with Apple Twists

POINTS® Value: 2 WeightWatchers points
Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 medium apple(s), Granny Smith, cored
3 teaspoon lemon juice
210 ml skimmed milk
20 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 portion lemon(s), use 1 strip of zest
1 medium orange(s), use 1 strip of zest
1 medium egg(s)

Instructions

1 First, make the apple crisps. Slice the apple into water-thin slices with a large, very sharp knife or, ideally, a mandolin.
2 Preheat the oven to its low or warm setting. Lay a non-stick baking sheet on a baking tray or use low fat cooking spray - one squirt is enough. Spread the apple slices out - don't overlap them. Brush lightly with the lemon juice.
3 Put in the oven and let them dry out for about 45 minutes, until they become firm and pale golden brown. (If the oven is too hot then prop open the oven door). Remove with a palette knife to a wire tray to crisp and cool.
4 Meanwhile, bring the milk and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and the two strips of fruit zest. Leave to cool.
5 Raise the oven temperature to Gas Mark 3/170°C/325°F. Grease two medium-sized ramekins with low fat spray and stand them in a small roasting dish.
6 Remove the zest strips from the milk. Beat the egg in a small bowl and whisk in the milk. Pour into the ramekins.
7 Pour hot water into the roasting tin to come half way up the outsides of the ramekins and bake for about 45 minutes, until just set. Serve on pretty dessert plates, accompanied by the apple crisps.

That doesn't seem too bad, does it? Anyone else playing?

With love

Natasha

Natasha's latest release, 'Crowned: An Ordinary Girl', is available online at eharlequin now. Read an excerpt here.

Male on Monday by our Hamper Winner!!!

Today's Male on Monday slot is brought to you by our super duper lucky March Hamper winner Kim W who won not only a bunch of fantabulous signed category romance novels by our PHS authors, but the chance to blog about her favourite hero inspiration.

We're only surprised he hasn't appeared here before. So here Kim is with her celluloid love...Johnny Depp!!!

Male on Monday is all mine today

A favorite stop and a nice place to play.

I came here to tell you all about the one

Who warms up my insides and has great buns

His name is Johnny Depp...he's the guy

Who stays in my mind and makes me sigh.

I’m not sure if it’s those eyes or his whole face

But he sure makes my heart beat at a fast pace

He’s a fine actor and plays his roles to the extreme

I wonder what he’s really like, is it as good as it seems

His character and demeanor is very important, indeed

He must have come from a damn fine good breed

Wishes and dreams from night until day

Wondering and wondering if he’s a good……

Whew! All that came about because of a lazy Saturday night a long time ago when I sat down to watch a movie called Chocolat. There on the screen was a guy named Roux, played by Johnny Depp. He was just loaded with charisma and charm. He has that carefree and mysterious look and style that is so appealing to me. Everything about him is just perfect for a bad boy type romance hero.

He was born, John Christopher Depp II, in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963 and raised in Florida. He dropped out of school at age 15 to purse a career as a rock musician. When that wasn’t working out, he pursued an acting career and won a part in the movie A Nightmare On Elm Street. He has been in over thirty movies since then. Some of the most memorable ones for me are Chocolat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Don Juan DeMarco and Finding Neverland.

He presently lives with Vanessa Paradis, a French actress and singer, and the mother of his two children, Lily Rose Melody and John “Jack” Christopher Depp III.

Quote from Johnny: "I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you're on it."

Thanks to everyone at the Pink Heart Society for the opportunity to share a favorite hunk of mine and to all the authors who were so generous and gave books away in the Hamper Day drawing. I’ll be running to the mailbox every day and looking forward to escaping away with your heroes. It’s been an enjoyable ride!

~KimW~

Sunday, April 29, 2007

And the winner of the Romance Prize 2007

This week our Pink Heart Society Roving Reporter Natasha Oakley has been to The Savoy Hotel in London for the Romance Novelist Associations Prize Giving Luncheon!!!! Tell us all about it Natasha...

What do you call a mass gathering of romance writers? A pen of writers? An embrace of romantic novelists??? It has to be something like that ...

Anyway, whatever we're called we gathered at the Savoy in London on Friday for the annual Romantic Novelists' Association's Award Luncheon. (As if you didn't know! We've been talking about it all month. )

The Savoy is a kind of scary place. It's the kind that has slippery floors interspersed with thick carpets, mirrors everywhere and subdued lighting. It makes you feel like you should speak in whispers and wish you'd concentrated on the Pink Heart Society Diet (that's because of all the mirrors btw).

I'd arranged to meet fellow nominee, and last year's winner, Jessica Hart off her train. We had time to grab a coffee (and change our shoes) at the National Gallery before making our way to The Savoy. With our comfortable shoes quietly stashed away in the cloakroom we glided through to the Lincoln Room.

I'm assuming you're all kindred spirits and are most interested in the food - so you're getting that in detail! The starter was Onion tomato tart tatin with orange and melted goat cheese. Not only was it melt-in-the-mouth-to-die-for, it was incredibly pretty. We should have taken a picture.

Carnivors then had Stuffed breast of chicken with wild mushrooms, Potato cakes with almonds, Mousseline of spinach and Baby winter vegetables. Vegetarians had Riccota-spinach ravioli with mushroom cream and parsley salad.

Dessert was Treacle and raspberry tart with vanilla ice-cream arranged as a work of art. Then we had Savoy blend coffee (except I was too busy talking to drink mine)and Petit fours (which I was too full for).

After a short 'comfort break' and the guest speaker, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, it was time for the awards.

First up was the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2007.

We haven't much mentioned this award here at the Pink Heart Society because it's not for category fiction.

The shortlist this year was:

A Step in the Dark
by Judith Lennox (Headline)

Beyond the Blue Hills
by Katie Flynn (Heinemann)

Iris & Ruby
by Rosie Thomas (Harper Collins)

Learning by Heart
by Elizabeth McGregor (Transworld)

The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook
by Matt Dunn (Simon & Schuster)

Welcome to the Real World
by Carole Matthews (Headline)

And the winner was ....... Iris & Ruby by Rosie Thomas. Rosie then gave a speech and was taken away to be devoured by reporters.

Meanwhile we moved on to the Romance Prize 2007.

Very lovely things were said about all the seven books on the shortlist and then they announced a short shortlist of three in alphabetical order.

Marrying Max
by Nell Dixon (The People's Friend Story Collection)

The Millionaire's Runaway Bride
by Catherine George (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Accepting the Boss's Proposal
by Natasha Oakley (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

and custodian of the Betty Neels Rose Bowl is ......

Nell Dixon

for 'Marrying Max' published by The People's Friend Story Collection.



Then it was Nell's turn to make her way to the podium and make her acceptance speech. She did all lovers of category fiction proud. Absolutely wonderful!

With love

Natasha


Do visit Nell's website and blog!

April Hamper - Free Book Giveaway!!!

I hazard a guess that this must be our biggest book giveaway ever, all thanks to our wonderful published members of the Pink Heart Society who are beyond generous with their time and support!! Thanks as always guys!!!

Now all you guys have to do to go in the draw to win all these fantabulous titles is to tell us:

What is your favourite category line and why? (And boy oh boy do we have a faaaabulously board range available in our giveaway!!!)

Hamper Prize:

The Consultant's New-Found Family by Kate Hardy (Medical)
Black Widow Bride by Tessa Radley (Desire - debut book!)
In Plain Sight by Tara Taylor Quinn (plus some giveaway goodies that accompanied its release)
The Tycoon's Blackmailed Mistress by Maxine Sullivan (Desire)
The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride by Annie West (Presents)
It's a Wonderfully Sexy Life by Hope Tarr (Blaze)
Hired by the Cowboy by Donna Alward (Romance) ~ debut book ~
A Doctor Worth Waiting For by Margaret McDonagh (Medical)
Sold and Seduced by Michelle Styles (Historical)
Bedded by a Bad Boy by Heidi Rice (Modern Extra) ~ debut book ~
The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding (Romance)
Long-Lost Father and Outback Baby Miracle by Melissa James (Romance)
Sicilian Husband Blackmailed Bride by Kate Walker (Presents)
The Desert Virgin by Sandra Marton (Presents) Best Presents as voted by Romantic Times!

Hugs and kisses,

Ally, Jenna, Natasha, Nicola and Trish

x x x