Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy Birthday to Lil Pink Dancin Guy!

Ahhhhh Memories!!!!

Yes, this is what happens when you have a Trish twiddling her thumbs in the hiatus between Christmas and New Years you know…. She has time to THINK.
And anyone who knows Trish will know this can be a dangerous thing! So on the 1st January 2006 she had a bit of a chat about it here… and she *eventually* said:

“And my message for today; if you read category romance and you enjoy reading it is this; be proud to say so!”

Which led to her *eventually* concluding:

“Maybe we should even start some kind of a campaign to let all those critics know we are a force to be reckoned with? A pink heart would be the obvious choice I guess…Oh dear, now the promotions gal in me is designing logos! HELP!!”

A few months later, thanks to MSN Messenger and Nicola’s comment in a conversation with Trish, Ally and Natasha that ‘maybe we should start a joint Blog?’ the two ideas came together and that seedling of an idea during the twiddling of thumbs suddenly became a very excited topic of conversation…

And so The Pink Heart Society was born.

Ally worked frantically behind the scenes to come up with our beeeaaauuuutttiful blog design ~ authors crawled out from caves all over the planet to say I’M IN ~ messages and ideas were passed back and forth and back and forth and sleep was lost as we dealt with the time zones and
on the 1st September 2006 The PHS went LIVE!!!!

And before we knew it the lil pink dancin' guy was

EVERYWHERE on the Internet!

So do you remember where you were that historical day? Do some of you remember that you said:

“I love romance - reading it and writing it. I'm still up in the clouds at having been accepted by Harlequin Mills & Boon to write for their Medical Romance line and have just sold my third manuscript and am starting my fourth.”

“We're all, let's party. And what a great day and so much to celebrate...Spring in OZ, The PINK HEART launch, a sensational hunks data base, and I got a fab cata review for The Nurse's Longed-For Family. All in all a great day:-)”

“I waited until it was "almost" midnight my time to come to the party! I am trying to get a book finished this weekend, so I may not be partying a lot. But believe me, I will be there in spirit!”

“I have two minutes for vital emails etc before they unplug my computer for the day while my office is refurbished - so guess where I came first?”

“All my favourite category romance authors are here and I am absolutely thrilled that the PHS was set up! I remember picking up a M&B romance many, many years ago when I was 14 years old and that started off a most wonderful addiction. These days, I have shelves upon shelves and many boxes full of wonderful Mills and Boon romances and I have had to order a new bookcase because I've run out of space!”

“Congratulations ladies! The site looks fantastic.”

“I've also recruited my DH to our cause - we both PROUDLY got out our current reading material on the train to London on Weds for EVERYONE to see! (Trish's White Hot and Mags The Italian Doctor's Bride)”

“I'm from Washington State about an hour from Seattle by Ferry. I love reading,and I'll read everything. My favorites are romance with some humor,and Superromance books are wonderful because you really get to know the characters.Sometimes I'm in the mood for something fun,sexy,and quick and a lot of catagory fits the bill for me.I look forward to adding this blog to my favorites list.”

“Happy new blog. What a wonderful celebration of category romance. I'm picturing dancing pink hearts taking over the world.”

“Congratulations on the new blog. It's visually exciting and has lots of fun content.”
Do you recognize yourself? Can you believe it’s been a whole year since you said those things??? We certainly can’t!

And in that year we’ve brought you:

Hero inspiration in the form of Rodrigo Santaro, Hugh Jackman, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Chris Noth, Jensen Ackles, Sean Bean, Josh Lucas, Christian Bale, David Boreanaz, Wentworth Miller, Rufus Sewell, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, James Purefoy, Daniel Craig, Tom Williams, Robbie Williams, Nathan Fillion, Richard Armitage, Mark Philippoussis, Patrick Dempsey, Clive Owen, Colin Farrell, Michael T Weiss, Matthew McConnaughey, Eric Dane, James Penfold, The men of The Unit, Alan Rickman, Adrian Grenier, Christian Clark, Jeremy Northam, Toby Stephens, Johnny Depp, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jason Lewis, Josh Hartnett, Colin Firth, Michael Weatherly, George Clooney, Davis Wenham, David Tennant, Rob Lowe, Michael Shanks, Denzel Washington, Brendan Fraser, David Annable and Josh Holloway in our oh-so-popular Male On Monday slots

We’ve taken you travelling to: West Sussex, St. Kilda, The Outback, The Ring Of Kerry, The Gold Coast, Paris and Brunswick Street…

Tempted you with: Recipes, Spring Racing, Men with Mo’s, Ways to Pamper yourself, Italian Heroes, Your Ideal Santa, Tropical Getaways, Book Launch Parties, The Internet Playground, Must See TV, Revising those Old MS’s in your bottom drawer, Being Elsewhere, Creating Imaginary Worlds, Blonde Bombshells, Men In Uniform, Brunette Beauties, Youtube Procrastination, Biorhythms and Summertime..

And told you NOT to be tempted with The PHS Diet Club!

We’ve met brand new writers sharing their call stories and then coming back to tell us about life after THE CALL; Donna Alward, Abby Green, Fiona Lowe, Jenna Bayley-Burke (who became a PHS EDITOR!!!), Michelle Styles, Yvonne Lindsay, Margaret McDonagh, Lynne Marshall, Annie West, Jeannie Watt, Anne Oliver, Maxine Sullivan, Fiona Harper, Christina Hollis, Michelle Willingham, India Grey, Lori Borril, Claire Baxter, Karina Bliss, Paula Roe, Terry McLaughlin, Lynn Randall, Abby Gaines, Sarah Mayberry, Shelley Galloway, Miriam Auerbach, Pam Jenoff, Tessa Radley, Cynthia Reese, Hope Tarr, Heidi Rice, Kimberley Van Meter, Kate Hewitt, Helen Brenna, Natalie Anderson, Jennifer Lewis and Jennie Adams…

Chatted up a storm on topics like; Writing Contests, Sport & Romance, Kidlets being contraception on legs, Shippers, Courting Distractions, Plotters v Pansters, How-To Books, Judging a book by it’s Cover, Sheikhs as heroes, Cowboy heroes, Celebrity Boyfriends, The Historical Hero, The Contemporary Hero, Being A Princess, The Harlequin Romance Report 2007, Writing Is Waiting, Favourite Category Romance Novels,

Given you films like: Dirty Dancing, Sleepless In Seattle, Someone Like You, About A Boy, Notting Hill, While You Were Sleeping, The Truth About Cats And Dogs, Take The Lead, The Little Mermaid, Stage Beauty, Love Actually, Noel, The Holiday, Bridget Jones Diary, When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, Riding In Cars With Boys, American Dreamer, North And South, The Abduction Club, Funny Girl, Father Goose, 50 First Dates, Sarah Plain And Tall, City Of Angels, A Good Woman, Cyrano De Bergerac, Paperbook Hero, The Jane Austin Season, Sixteen Candles, Bride And Prejudice, Bed Of Roses, Return To Me, Picture Perfect, The Importance Of Being Earnest, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Calamity Jane, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Cake, The Princess Bride, Sweet Home Alabama, Enchanted April, An Officer And A Gentleman, Anne Of Green Gables and A Walk In The Clouds to wile away your Friday Nights with…

We’ve had books read and reviewed by our simply gorgeous volunteer reviewers over on The Pink Heart Society Review Blog ~
Cindy, Gray, Janet, Jopee, Julie & Marilyn!!!

Thanks to all our generous authors we’ve given away over
130 books in our Hampers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’ve taken you to the RNA Romance Prize Awards, all over the States with Trish in her Where’s Wylie series, we spent the week at the RWA Nationals, we had an Editor from the Mills & Boon Offices in Richmond answer your questions and we had guest author after guest author pop by to give us tips to help you FinDaBoo

We’ve gotten so busy we could never have continued without our wonderful new columnists stepping up to the plate;
Fiona, Sam, Anne, Kate & Annie!!!

And we had our first every BABY PINK HEART-ER thanks to Editor Nic and have ANOTHER ONE ON THE WAY from Editor Ally!!!

But best of all we got to MEET ALL OF YOU !!! All of you who love Category Romance as much as we do and who keep coming back again and again and again and again to keep us company in our passion for writing and reading those
*little romance books*

Without you there... we wouldn't be here...


Come back tomorrow for the Hamper Winner from August and to hear all the plans for OUR BIRTHDAY MONTH!!!!! YOU WONT WANT TO MISS IT!!!

Hugs and Kisses as always

Ally, Jenna, Natasha, Nic and Trish

Friday Film Night - A Walk In The Clouds

If you're in need of an out and out love story this weekend then The Pink Heart Society's editor Trish Wylie is back again ~ this time to finally give up one she wanted to keep for herself a little longer... and to invite you to take A Walk In The Clouds...

A man in search. A woman in need. A story of fate.

How can you resist with a tagline like that I ask you? And we've talked a lot here at The Pink Heart Society about movies that could make a romance novel and lemme tell you - there's enough in this one to make you believe the love story would read just as beautifully between the pages of a book as it comes across on the screen.

And I hope you understand by the end of it that this one was a tough one for me to share ~ kinda my little secret gem when I needed a dose of romance to renew me when the muse felt burned out... But when I dug it out again this weekend past having sent away what felt like the re-write from hell - well - I remembered how much I loved it, watched it twice, and then decided to share... ;) Finally.

To demonstrate what I mean about it 'could be a book' let's take a quick look at the synopsis I found which, although a tad brief and no-where near how good the story is, gives you an idea:

A World War II vet, on the road as a traveling salesman, agrees to help a desperate, pregnant woman – who is afraid to let her father see her condition – by pretending to be her husband.

Take out the WW II vet and travelling salesman bit and the fact that technically Keanu's character is a teeny bit married to somebody else at the beginning... and well... with a little imagination that's practically the kinda back-blurb we're used to, isn't it? And let me tell ya gals, even with Keanu Reeves reputation of sometimes being a little wooden in his roles this is a beeeeaaauuuutttiiifffuuuullll film - and worth the watching for some of the kissing alone!!! Have I ever led you wrong??? If I have just lie, okay?

Based on an old Italian film called 'First Steps In The Clouds' and filmed in the wine region of the Napa Valley in California, this first major studio production directed by Alfonso Arau stars a cast list to tempt you all on it's own! As well as Keanu in his Speed looks era, you have Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Angelica Aragon, Debra Messing and the truly beautiful Aitana Sanchez-Gijon as Keanu's love interest Victoria...

But let's get down to the nitty-gritty shall we? Keanu plays Paul Sutton, recently returned from WW II as a decorated hero and determined to change his life in the real world. The war has changed him, as I'm sure it did so many men of that era but when he comes home to the woman he married during the chaos and live-for-the moment years of the war, (played by Debra Messing), she hasn't even read any of the hundreds of letters he sent pouring his heart out about his dreams for the future. Back on the road in his old job of a chocolate seller travelling salesman (gets more attractive by the minute really doesn't he?) he bumps into - literally - Victoria Aragon, who is heading home from college to her family's vineyard in Napa.

When they keep bumping into each other (does anyone else but me believe in fate? SIGH) it transpires that Victoria is going home to face her family, pregnant and unmarried - which is a big deal in those days before you even take into account her traditional catholic family... So what else is our hero to do but offer to help?

He says she can appear with a husband, who will stay one night and then leave her - letting her seem like the wounded party kind of thing and therefore saving face with her Father. What is it they say about the best laid plans???

It's when we meet Victoria's family that the film takes on an almost epic-family-history feel to it, with three generations all living under the same roof once Victoria is home. Their lives are bound by the history of the vineyard and by love for one another. And yet, as we all know, family can be difficult...

Victoria's father is NOT happy about a new husband! Who is this man who has married his daughter? Where had he come from? Why did he not know of him before! So he makes Paul's *welcome* to the family far from warm. Thank goodness for Don Pedro the grandfather (Anthony Quinn) who takes Paul under his wing and dishes out little sparkling gems of wisdom while eating all the chocolates Paul had brought on the road to try and sell...

Don Pedro Aragon: Clothes are like family. You have to live in them for awhile before you have the perfect fit. But you are doing great.

Paul: I don't know if everyone would share your opinion.

Don Pedro: Well, it's not easy being in charge. It's not easy for me. It's not easy for him. Every man has to find his own way. But I have faith in my son. And I have faith in you. But your fly is open.

With Don Pedro making it difficult for him to leave every chance he gets (hilariously at one stage pointing out there's no rush now he hasn't any chocolates to sell anymore anyway) and his feelings for Victoria growing stronger - Paul, who as an orphan has never had a family history like the Aragon's, soon finds it more and more difficult to maintain his strong sense of honour. He won't give in to his attraction to Victoria because he's a married man (though not happily and remember he's not been with this woman for years while he away fighting a war) and he won't leave her while she needs him.... How much are we LOVING this guy already???

It's a FANTASTIC film guys. And OH-SO-ROMANTIC. You can see them falling for each other, you can almost feel the inner battle and just watch the poor soul after he gets drunk with Don Pedro and is talked into trying to serenade Victoria under her window.... standing there... his little face falling when she doesn't turn on the light to say he can come up after they've argued...

Don Pedro: Newlyweds. What else do they do but make love and war?

Little by little Paul gradually earns her father Alberto's respect. Alberto is no easy man - he has worked all his life to support his family with the vineyard and now they are both well-known and respected but he feels the struggle all father's feel with his children going out into the world and possibly moving on with their own lives away from all he has built ...and this... nobody... dares to tell him about his own relationship with his daughter!

Paul: Why can't you just love her? She's so easy to love.

Alfonso: You know nothing about my daughter! You hear me - nothing!

Paul: I know that she is good and strong and deserves all the love this world has to give. Can't you see that, how wonderful, how special she is?

So Paul battles his own emotions and her father, all the while knowing while he tries to do the right thing he's still lying and no matter how many times he tries to live up to the bargain he made with Victoria and leave, there's always something stopping him. It's that whole outer persona/inner need thing again, isn't it? And we category romance fans know they can fight that all they want... but really...with his need for what he wants for himself staring him in the face...? Even Grandma Aragon can see it...

Guadalupe Aragon: You must see it through. Your fate. What brought you here.

It's a beautiful film in case I haven't said so. In so many ways - visually beautiful (when you get your first glimpse of Las Nubes - the family vineyard, it's name meaning "the clouds."- it's coloured in such a way that it looks like a fairytale), the Maurice Jarre soundtrack of music just adding that little bit of magic as it permeates the most poignant scenes, and that family - the wonderfully eclectic, strong willed, loving bunch of people who Paul soooooo needs having never known family - and with the woman he can't resist but MUST - no matter how drawn he is to her - standing at the centre of it, just, waiting for him...

Paul: She's like the air to me.

Yes I LOVE THIS FILM. If it was a book it would be on my keeper shelf. And it's not just that it's so beautifully perfectly romantic for an afternoon on the sofa with choccie and a blankie and the phone turned off, I think it's also that it reminds me of the kind of films I loved growing up - gorgeous epic feeling love stories that make you believe in honourable heroes and love shining through. I was raised on 'em... And if I haven't convinced you already have a look at the trailer:

So I give this one a Warm and Fuzzy Rating of a resounding 10/10 ~They just don't make enough of these anymore imho...

H's & K's

Trish is THRILLED to bring her first Modern Extra book White-Hot to the USA & Canada this month as part of the Promotional Presents mini-series - Eligible Bachelors along with books by Kate Hardy, Kelly Hunter & Julie Cohen.


Released as The Firefighter's Chosen Bride the book is available through the Eharlequin Site and at Amazon. You can also buy it as an E-Book here!!!

For more info visit her Website or her Blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Talk Time With Kate Walker

My favourite category romance? Uh – no - can’t do it. Just can’t do that. My one working brain cell has fizzled and fused just at the thought. I mean – one favourite category romance in an umpty-ump year lifetime of reading category romances . . .

No – sorry . . .

But I’ve been asked to write something. And here with my lovely brand new Pink Heart Society Columnist logo all sparkly and fresh, I want to do the job that Trish and Ally have given me – so I have to think of something to say.

OK then, I can tell you about a favourite category romance author. A writer whose books I snatched off the shelves if I found one in a bookshop in the days before – and after – I was first published. When I got my first rejection letter from Mills & Boon, the then Senior Editor Jacqui Bianchi advised me to read certain authors who she felt wrote the sort of book I could write - and then try again. I read those – and saw what she meant. They were romances I could write. But then I picked up a book by Sara Craven – and I read the sort of romances I wanted to write. Sara Craven’s romances reached out, grabbed by the heart and the brain and they just made me want to be part of the company who published her work.

Sara was one of Mills & Boon’s stars back then in 1984 – and she’s still one of the big names in the Modern/Presents line up today. Incredibly, she’s been writing for M&B since 1975. That’s an amazing 32 years of writing top class contemporary romances - and she’s still selling. I’ve lost count of just how many books she has actually written.

I have a collection of older Sara Craven novels – starting with The Devil at Archangel in which Christina Bennett takes a job on an island in the West Indies where she meets the disturbing and charismatic Devlin Brandon. But having been warned to ‘Beware the Devil at Archangel’ - can she possibly trust him?

But the two books of Sara’s that really live in my memory, etched there from the moment I read them – so much so that I don’t even have to go and fetch my elderly and battered copies to remind myself about them – are the 1980 title Fugitive Wife and the wonderful Comparative Strangers that was published in 1988.

Fugitive Wife is singly responsible for my addiction to romances in which the couple are snowed in, trapped in an isolated cottage, cut off from anywhere else. In Sara’s story Bryony, a rich man’s daughter, young, (so young she’s fresh out of school!) falls for and marries the older, cynical, foreign correspondent Logan Adair, but the marriage fails and she runs to her Aunt’s isolated Yorkshire cottage to lick her wounds. She’s there all alone, determined to recover from the break down of her marriage when in the middle of a wild snowstorm another key turns in the lock, the front door opens,

. . and then the hall light clicked on and the words shrivelled and died on her lips as she looked down into the face of the man standing below her.
For a moment they stood in silence, staring at each other.
Then, ‘Hello, wife,’ said Logan with no expression in his voice whatsoever.

Oh dear – just writing that makes me want to go and read it all over again. I know what happens after that – how the snow comes down even more heavily and they are stuck in the small house together and they have to face the strains and the problems that wrenched them apart in the first place. And how Briony has to do some growing up – fast - both physically, as Logan insists that she shares his bed, and emotionally as she discovers the truth about her husband’s relationship with sophisticated Karen Wellesly.

But if you really forced me – at gunpoint – to choose just one, desert island, absolute favourite Sara Craven novel, then it would have to be the brilliant Comparative Strangers. It’s a book I bought twice, once in the original printing – and then sadly lost it. So I was overjoyed when in 1993, the story was reprinted as a Best Seller Romance and I was able to replace my missing copy with this new edition.

Comparative Strangers opens with Amanda, the heroine, on the verge of suicide, feeling she has nothing to live for because she has found her fiancé, Nigel in bed with another woman. She is rescued by Malory Templeton, Nigel’s older half-brother. And here’s where Sara Craven’s brilliance is shown – because to Amanda Malory isn’t the man who is so stunning that women fall at his feet as soon as they see him - to Amanda he has always been a ‘vague disappointment , because she supposed she’d been expecting an older edition of Nigel, with the same outgoing charm and rakish good looks.’ Compared with his younger half-brother, is shorter, paler - Amanda even sees him as ‘colourless’.

At first.

Because from the moment that Malory rescues her, stopping her from jumping off a bridge into a river, he takes charge of her life. When in order to save face in front of Nigel, Amanda declares that she is going to marry Malory instead, he reacts quite calmly, but with total control.

“It’s quite simple,’ he said. ‘You’ve told the world, through Nigel, that you’re going to marry me. So – marry me you will. ‘

From then onwards Malory grows in stature and strength on every page. Subtly, but irreversibly, the reader is brought to change her opinion of this quiet but charismatic man, just as Amanda comes to see his strength and his qualities, his understated sexual appeal – until, when Nigel reappears he seems flashy, immature and downright shallow in comparison. Virginal Amanda had never wanted to sleep with her first fiancé before her wedding night, but he responses to Malory are much harder to suppress.

And this leads to the two scenes that etched this book forever into my brain so that I can almost repeat them word for word. (A skill I discovered that at the recent RNA Conference Sophie Weston shares with me – as we share a love for this book.)

Unable to hold back any longer, Amanda decides to sleep with Malory , but innocent and naïve, she reaches for him touches him, ruining his careful control. As a result her first sexual experience is painful, disappointing and forces from her the stunned question ‘Is that - that – what all the fuss is about?’

There will never be another time, she declares.

But Malory has other ideas. A few days later, he sets himself to a determined and skillful seduction of Amanda, teasing all her senses, awakening all her untried sensuality, bringing her to her very first orgasm. And then, when she is still reeling . . .

. . .The shock of finding herself deposited back on the sofa woke her sharply from her dream. His hands were brisk, almost businesslike as he ordered her dishevelled clothing, pulling her dress into place and reclosing the zip.

Then he got to his feet. He said quietly and evenly, ‘Now that – that – is what all the fuss is about. Goodnight Amanda.’

Perfect. I remember almost cheering out loud the first time I read it. It was the memory of that line that had me grabbing the book to buy it a second time when it appeared as a bestseller - in the treasured copy that Sara Craven signed for me as a fellow author and friend when I met her in person for the second time at the RNA one day Seminar in Bath about ten years ago.

And to judge by the cheer of delight that greeted Sophie Weston’s recounting of that scene at the Conference, almost 20 years after it was first published, it still has the power to hit home.

Not many authors can take a ‘colourless’, ‘vague disappointment’ of a man and make him grow inch by inch, page by page, into the perfect, powerful, forceful, sexy Alpha hero. I’m not sure if any one could get away with it in these days of Signor Tall, Dark and Instantly Devastatingly Handsome Presents-style heroes. But I know one thing, if there’s anyone writing today who could still pull it off then it’s Sara Craven herself – still writing wonderful romances just as she was over 30 years ago.

Which is why I’m still grabbing them off the shelves just as soon as I see them.

Kate has recently had her fiftieth, yes 50th book released worldwide! She had a fantastic blog party with 50 special guests which was too much fun for words.

And though the party's over, the book is still out there for you to buy and enjoy. So pick up a copy of THE SICILIAN'S RED-HOT REVENGE today!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Writers Wednesday with Annie Burrows

Mills and Boon Historical author Annie Burrows tells us all about her journey to publication. Read on!


When I was a girl, I always had my nose in a book. The Saturday morning trip to my local library was the highlight of my week. I was no good at sport, or anything that required any kind of co-ordination, but my imagination could soar!

After secondary school, it seemed natural to go on to university, so that I could spend more time reading. I took a joint honours degree in English and Philosophy. I was just as fascinated by the lives of authors and the times they lived in, as the stories they wrote.

But what did I want to do with my own life…?


Skip forward about fifteen years. I have married, moved to Cheshire in England, had two children, and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

But I spend almost as much time daydreaming (with myself as plucky heroine) as I do devouring as many novels as I can get my hands on. What if I wrote some of these vague plots down? Would they work as complete novels? Would anyone want to read them?

To begin with, the answer was NO! No, from publishers, and no from agents. Maybe, I thought, I just wasn’t any good. Maybe I should just give up. The only problem with that decision was that my imagination refused to stop. Ideas for stories kept right on coming. So, I thought, perhaps it might be a good idea to learn how to write. I had studied writers, but not the actual craft of writing.

I signed up for a correspondence course. And read a very interesting piece about researching the market. I had never realized that each publisher specialized in one type of fiction. Or that they might be looking for something that fit in with their brand image. I took on board the suggestion that I should read a dozen or so category romances, to get the “feel” of them. And got hooked! Why had I never read anything from Mills and Boon before? They were publishing exactly the kind of stories I was already making up, and trying without success to sell elsewhere.

I sent in four manuscripts before I got anything other than a standard rejection – two to the Modern strand, and two to the Historical. I couldn’t believe it when I opened the thin envelope, braced for my fifth rejection, to see that the single page was good quality cream paper, containing more than just that one dreaded phrase. They had liked the first three chapters, and if I had finished the manuscript, they would like to have a look at it.

This was a huge leap forward for me. A publisher was actually going to read more than the first three chapters before rejecting it! It was six months before I got a reply. And then it was another horribly thin envelope. Oh, well, I sighed as I opened it, at least they might give me some idea where I was going wrong, and how I could put it right.

But no…they liked it! On the whole. Could I just think about making a few revisions? I looked at the novel again in the light of what they had pointed out, and realized they had picked up some weak spots. I told the temp agency I was currently working for that I wouldn’t be available for the next two weeks, and got stuck in to my novel. I was determined to get it back to them quickly, to prove how professional I could be. I knew that if they took me on, Mills and Boon would want more than one novel a year from me. But after I had emailed it off, I went into a complete panic. Had I rushed it? Should I have been more careful? It was too late…I had blown my big chance.

And then, after what felt like forever, an email popped into my inbox. Could my editor phone me to talk about the book? What did that mean? Was it a positive sign? Surely, if they hadn’t like what I’d done, they would have just sent one of those letters?

I can’t tell you much about that phone call because I was in such a dither. Trying to sound like a sane, sensible person they could rely on to produce work of a professional standard, whilst just wanting to run round the room shouting YES, YES YES! Because they did want to offer me a contract. And wanted to know if I had anything else ready to send in. I did, because the way I had learned to deal with my earlier rejections was to start immediately on the next novel. Suggestions for revisions for that one came within a month. And queries about what I might write next.

So now I am a novelist! That first one, the one I was convinced was going to be rejected every step of the way, will be out in paperback in September, under my pen name of Annie Burrows. It is a Regency romance, called “His Cinderella Bride.” In February 2008, my second will be out in paperback. It is set in early Tudor times, and is called “My Lady Innocent.” The novel which they are considering at the moment, should be out in an anthology to celebrate Mills and Boons centenary year.

And later on this morning, I am going to go out into the garden, with my pen and some paper, and begin to plot out novel number four. I don’t know what it will be called yet, but I know the hero very well. He is an embittered, crippled ex-soldier, with no fortune, and no future. He has just one chance at independence from the half brother he resents. If he can persuade a girl of good family and reputation to marry him…

So next month, you all must go out and buy Annie's first novel HIS CINDERELLA BRIDE (how gorgeous is that title???) Or you can pick up a copy at right now!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Temptation Tuesday...Through History

Historical author Carol Townend brings us her take on tempation in a time when coffee and chocolate did not exist. Can you imagine?

Chocolate is always a temptation, of course, and don’t even mention coffee. My love of coffee is so bad that my family have banished the word from our house!

Happily our medieval heroes and heroines were free of the temptations that we must fight hourly - chocolate, coffee, tea and sugar etc. They would have had mead though. Yum! They also had wines, ales and honey cakes. Almonds and dried fruits were imported from the east along with spices like cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Queens and noble ladies would be tempted by the purple silks and rich damasks shipped in from Byzantium - not to mention well-muscled stable boys..

Why is it that temptation is invariably linked with sin? If you give in to eating that cream cake, it’s a sin, the implication being that you are bad if you indulge and good if you don’t.

On a recent research trip to France we gave in to the blissful chocolate Easter Cake above, served on a terrace overlooking the snow-capped Pyrenees. Wow! You can see by the empty glasses that we had been busy tasting the local wine too. Hard work, research. We were also seduced by the pretty (and pretty ancient) hotel below where the footsore tower climber can be wined and dined and made super comfortable.

For my eleventh century heroine Cecily in The Novice Bride, temptation comes in many forms. Poor Cecily! Her Anglo Saxon father has packed her off to St Anne’s Convent at the tender age of twelve. As a novice she discovers it’s a sin to eat meat on a fish day; it's a sin to speak during the Greater Silence; it's a sin to miss chapel; it's a sin to argue with Mother Superior . . . (you can tell I went to a convent school! )

There isn’t much that isn’t a sin at St Anne’s so Cecily is forever fasting or doing penance for one transgression or another. To hear Mother Aethelflaeda speak of her, you would have no hesitation in naming Novice Cecily as the convent bad girl. Of course she is no such thing.

In fact Cecily is innocence personified, particularly as far as men are concerned. Since walking through those convent gates Cecily has scarcely laid eyes on a man, let alone spoken to one. But then Sir Adam Wymark rides up and Cecily (a novice who is about to take her vows!) is so tempted she offers herself to him in marriage. She tells herself she is doing this because she wants to protect her family, and this is certainly true. She also tells herself that her proposal has nothing to do with her desperate need to escape the convent; and nothing to do with the fact that Adam is the most handsome hunk of Breton knight ever to ride into Wessex. . .


Carol's next Harlequin Hisorical, THE NOVICE BRIDE, is out in North America now! For those of you elsewhere who can't wait until Spring 2008 you can buy the book now at eHarlequin.

Check out her website for more.

Male On Monday - Josh Holloway

This week at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie brings us a Male on Monday she truly couldn't believe we hadn't inducted
into our hall of fame before now... then she figured maybe Josh Holloway was a little lost until now...

I'll pause for the groans at that one shall I.... You done - no? How about now??? Okay - then I'll begin...

Josh Lee Holloway was born on July 20, 1969 in the area of Northern California now known as Silicon Valley but moved after a mere two years to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, where he was raised the second-eldest of four boys and one girl.

(we'll just pause for another second here shall we while the idea of THREE MORE of these soaks in... can anyone say LINKED SERIES??? Hmmmm... Ooooohhh...Well maybe...Or there's...Ahem...Okay, sorry - ikkle bit distracted there!)

From an early age he had discovered a passion and love for films but after only one year at the University of Georgia, he embarked on a successful modeling career which took him all over Europe and North America. You can kinda see why really...

But Josh's ambition for acting remained and eventually took him to Los Angeles, where he landed himself a role in the comedy Doctor Benny, following that up with leading roles in movies Mi Amigo, Moving August and Cold Heart. From there he started to get noticed with his leading role in the US Sci-Fi Channel movie Sabretooth, guest appearances in Good Girl's Don't, NCIS, The Lyons Den, Walker Texas Ranger, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Angel (I had to go look that one up cos I didn't remember seeing him and well, a gal would remember, wouldn't she? And it says on IMDB that he played - wait for it - 'Goodlooking Guy' - kinda made for THAT role then wasn't he???) and appearing in the Aerosmith video for Cryin' (LOVE that track)

You kinda gotta say when he was THAT busy it was only a matter of time though... Right?

So after all that hard work he landed himself a role as someone called Sawyer in a brand new never before heard of series called... altogether now... Lost. And that as they say, was THAT. The show propelled him up into celebrity status, but left him with little time to use that fame to grab the other big roles that automatically came his way. For example, according to one US magazine he had to take himself out of consideration for roles in both a Brad Pitt Western and the X-Men 3 movie due to the demands of his shooting schedule with Lost....ahhhh the price of success.

Despite that, he found time to star in upcoming thriller Whisper and its now rumoured he's been approached again for the X-Men 4 movie (for the same role apparently 'cos it was taken out of the third one - and CAN I JUST SAY that my nephew is a HUGE X-Men movies fan and 'cos of that I happen to know the third one was subtitled The Last Stand! LAST. L-a-s-t. Hmmm... and there's now ANOTHER one...not so much 'last' then was it?)

So what else can I tell you about our Josh? Well, funnily enough (keeping in mind the reason I'm suffering through all this research for you guys) he's widely regarded for his good looks (*blinks innocently* Can't say I'd noticed...). In 2005 he was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine, in 2006 the "hottest hunk" on TV by In Touch Magazine and was voted the 17th sexiest guy worldwide (we'd like a look-see at 1-16 please!) by British readers of OK! Magazine. So it was no great surprise I suppose when he was chosen in 2007 to represent the face of Davidoff's Cool Water fragrance world-wide (can anyone say YUM? - have you road tested that fragrance yet??? No - go! And then come back and say YUM with me)

Josh is 6ft 1 tall with green eyes and sandy blonde hair. He lists blue as his favourite colour, doesn't have any pets apparently, likes snowboarding, martial arts, fishing and dirt biking... and says his favourite foods are fried chicken and chocolate pie (one would hope not on the same plate)...And if good looks and all this stuff isn't hero material enough for you then how about this - in the summer of 2006, he threw his name behind a self-defense project called Just Yell Fire, aimed at teaching teenage girls techniques to defend themselves against abductors and rapists.... Now THATS heroic!!! GO JOSH. He is however married. (see how I sneaked that in last... or in the tradition of X-Men 3... maybe NOT...)

Yes, 'cos I can't leave you alone not knowing how to find more info and pics can I??? I found and the Josh Holloway Fan Forum to be some of the best places for info... go on - play - make new friends... IT'S RESEARCH...

H's & K's

Trish is THRILLED to bring her first Modern Extra book White-Hot to the USA & Canada this month as part of the Promotional Presents mini-series - Eligible Bachelors along with books by Kate Hardy, Kelly Hunter & Julie Cohen.


Released as The Firefighter's Chosen Bride the book is available through the Eharlequin Site and at Amazon. You can also buy it as an E-Book here!!!

For more info visit her Website or her Blog. (where she might just have ANOTHER pic of this chap...)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August Hamper!!!

This month's free book giveaway as donated by the lovely published members of the Pink Heart Society is a gorgeous, and huuuuuge collection of books perfect for you to sit down and read on your next weekend on the couch.

For the chance to win all these books, all you have to do is tell us:

What's your favourite category romance novel ever?

Why do we want to know this? Because next month is our first anniversary!!! And we are so proud that we've spent the past year shouting our love of category romance from the rooftops of thre cyber world!

To find out how our favourite category authors have been answering this question, check out the last couple of months worth of Thursday Talk-times!

Hamper Prize:

'For the Sheikh's Pleasure' by Annie West
'Princess Australia' by Nicola Marsh
'The Italian G.P's Bride' by Kate Hardy
'Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride' by Kate Walker
'One Special Night' by Margaret Mcdonagh

And since for the first time in our illustrious history our last month's hamper winner never popped out of hiding to claim her prize, the winner of this month's hamper will also take home:

The Roman's Virgin Mistress by Michelle Styles
The Boss's Demand by Jennifer Lewis
The Sheiks' Ransomed Bride by Annie West
Count Giovanni's Virgin by Christina Hollis

For Revenge...Or Pleasure? by Trish Morey
Her Outback Knight by Melissa James
Best Friend...Future Wife by Claire Baxter

Pick Me Up by Samantha Hunter
Reunited: Marriage in a Million by Liz Fielding
The Sicilian's Red- Hot Revenge by Kate Walker (Presents)

Breakfast at Giovanni's by Kate Hardy
Almost a Family by Donna Alward

Hugs and kisses,

x x x