Saturday, December 01, 2007

Weekend Wind-Down - Who Can Resist An Irish Boy?

This week at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie follows up last weeks question about cowboys with one of her own - ahhh indeed and Who Can Resist An Irish Boy?

At this point from the POV of an Irish Writer writing many's an Irish hero you can understand my deep seated need for you to answer that question with 'Not me'... ;) Cos if everyone says 'I can' then so long, it was lovely knowing you all, my career was nice while it lasted...

But I gotta say if the number of good old Irish boys invading our screens these days is any indication then I might be alright for a wee while yet. And for such a small country ya kinda gotta say we're doing alright in producing these lovely lads for your - erm - enjoyment...

So who have we brought you???

Well we've already had a couple of them guest star right here at The Pink Heart Society as part of our wonderful collection of Male on Monday's. Gotta love the start of the week these days really. I brought you that bad boy we all love - Dublin born Colin Farrell and our lovely columnist Kate Walker very recently brought us dashing Drogheda born Pierce Brosnan. Both fine specimens of Irishness you have to agree. But who else have we sent out from our little island to charm you with that devilish sparkle of Irish charm in their eyes???

Can I interest anyone in Ballymena born Liam Neeson? At 6ft 4 he's already hero material in my mind (I do like a tall hero, don't you?) and add to that the way he has of owning any role he ever plays on the big screen and well... need I say much more?

How about a little Dublin born Gabriel Byrne? This charmer tried being an archaelogist, a schoolteacher, a short-order cook, and - erm - a bullfighter before he became an actor. Bound to be a plot or two in there even before you add that smile...

Oooohhhh but we're not done there! Oh my no. If you want to add a little red-headed Irishness to your cache of hero inspiration then how about Belfast born Kenneth Branagh? Having grown up in poverty in the shadow of a tobacco factory you gotta say he's one of those rags to riches type success stories we all love...

And of course now we have a brand new crop of Irish boys we're sending out into the big wide world for your enjoyment. Never let it be said we're not continuing to grow them right over here! It's all in that good clean air you know...

There's a certain Co. Cork born young man named Cillian Murphy for example. Originally planning a career in law until he discovered the world of acting he's been a brave boy when it comes to the more unusual roles. And yet that accent everyone seems to like still seems to have stood him in good stead with the lady fans... mind you - he does have pretty amazing eyes too... not that we'd be at all shallow here at the PHS you understand ;) But when you're wandering around with a half shaved head in the likes of 28 Days Later and those eyes can still catch a gals attention... wellll....

Then of course there's Dublin born Jonathan Rhys Myers who is making such a splash playing the young Henry VIII in The Tudors. Don't know him from that one? Then maybe you know him from the Hugo Boss Ads??? SURELY you've noticed him in THOSE??? What do you mean you didn't know he was Irish? Well if I told you he was born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keefe would that help some? Yuh-huh, thought so. Dunno what was wrong with Jonathan O'Keefe myself but maybe thats just me.

How about Howth, Co. Dublin born Stuart Townsend? Whaddya mean who?! Well I betcha you might have known who he was sooner if he'd landed the role of Aragon in The Lord Of The Rings like he was going to to. Apparently they decided at the last minute they wanted an older actor in the role and in entered a certain Mr. Viggo Mortensen...c'est la vie. Mind you, I'd heard if your name is Charlize Theron you might know his name a little better ;)

Another new one to you might be Co. Wexford born Padraig Delaney from the movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley...currently starring alongside fellow Irishman Jonathan Rhys Myers in The Tudors as Anne Boleyn's brother George... sticky ending coming his way then if my history is any good...

And last but not least is *small town in Ireland* born (yeah - go on Google search NARROW IT DOWN some for me here! Very nearly didn't mention this guy at all due to the lack of pride in where he came from barring it being Ireland - but he's cute so that gets him points...) Allen Leech whose starting to gain a following from his role in the HBO series Rome where he played Marcus Agrippa. And you gotta admit - he is cute...

So what is it about an Irish boy? Is it the charm, the wit, the cheek, that sparkle in the eyes or is it purely and simply the accent? There has to be something... After all plenty of authors have used them in those little romances we all love so much and that's before I even begin to add those scrummy, delish Irish-American boys to the mix. *fans self* The only complaint I would have after doing this blog is that we still seem to be exporting a lot of the good ones from the island where certain single Irish writers still live...humph...

So can YOU resist an Irish boy???

H's & K's

Trish's next release from Modern Heat features a yummy Irish hero and a fiesty Irish heroine in a contemporary romp through Dublin.

His Mistress: His Terms is available from the Mills & Boon site next month and usual retailers in January

To find out more about Trish and her books you can visit her Website or her Blog.

Friday Film Night :: Two Week's Notice

This week, Blaze author Samantha Hunter drops by the Pink Heart Society to bring you the not-so-steamy romantic comedy, Two Week's Notice...

If you love charming, incorrigible playboy heroes and New York City, this film is for you -- the shots of New York's streets and buildings are amazing, and Hugh is at his charming, bad-boy best. I can't believethey were thinking of filming this in Canada to save money -- nothing against our neighbors to the North, but I agree with Sandra Bullock who argued, if you have a movie in NYC, you have to set it in NYC!

I love this movie for the quirky romantic hero that Grant pulls off. He doesn't start the movie as a hero, but becomes one. Many of Hugh's movies challenge us to love another kind of bad boy. He's not the danger-oriented, dark, mysterious male, but the shallow, witty, smart ass, sexy, annoying guy who we don't really want to love, but do. George's character arc is the adolescent becomes an adult via falling in love. The movie proves that romance can be just plain fun,offering dialogue along the lines of...

Lucy: "You are the most selfish person on the planet!!!"

George: "Now that's just silly, have you met everyone on the planet?"

It's classic category conflict: millionaire real estate developer George Wade (Hugh Grant) is completely dependent on Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock), his company's chief counsel who also happens to have a strong social concience. George isn't quite sure where he left his conscience, so he just asks Lucy. He also depends on her to pick out his suits and just about everything else. After being on call 24/7 in George's life, Lucy decides she doesn't want to be a part of it anymore and decides to quit. She's tired of her insubstantial work, andwants to do something that has meaning, not just make money. She has more important things to do, like using her legal skills to save historic buildings that are also part of the city's charm as well as being people's homes -- of course, Wade's company, driven by his brother, is the one threatening to level the building.

Still it's apparent that while George needs Lucy to help him make almost every decision, he needs her for more than that, too -- he's received his "2 weeks's notice" on how much he loves her, but how can he convince her that she's the only one for him, knowing what she thinks of him? How can she give into her attraction for a guy she shouldn't have fallen for in a million years? The two travel back together because George won't quite let go, and in the end he not only grows upand saves the day (and the building), but gets the girl. In doing so, he loses his millionaire status and gives it all up for living with Lucy and eating take-out in her small apartment, but it's really a great HEA.

Classic romance.

Warm and Fuzzy Ranking: 8/10

(I figure the constant laughs the movie offers offsets the warm and fuzzy, though the romance is wonderful)

Samantha Hunter is a former professor, quilter, dog lover, environmentalist, and not above picking her husband's brain for plot details.

To learn more about Samantha, check out her website , find her on eHarlequin (check the Blaze rooms or the We Call It Research book challenge) or her new blog, Love Is An Exploding Cigar.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Why I Love Writing for Harlequin Historicals

Up next in Pink Heart Society's series on why authors love the line they write for is Historical's author Michelle Willingham...before we get to that, let's all take a minute to congratulate Michelle on the latest addition to her family, baby James Patrick!! Now, on with the show..

Why I Enjoy Writing for Harlequin Historicals

I have always loved historical romance. In fact, the very first romance I read as a young teenager was a historical romance titled On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt. Since then, I've devoured the genre, and I own at least two hundred historical romances. It has always been a natural fit for me.

Many people advised me not to write historicals when I first started writing romance. "The genre is dead," I was told. "If you want to be published, you have to write a contemporary." But no matter what everyone else said, I believed in my heart that I would always be a historical author. And sure enough in May 2007, my first book, Her Irish Warrior, was published by Harlequin Historicals.

A variety of time periods . . .

From Victorian gothics to sensual medievals, the world of historical romance is full of variety. Harlequin has especially been open to new time periods—everything from ancient Rome and American westerns, to Renaissance Italy and traditional Regency England. There are so many choices, and editors are always on the lookout for new stories. Each month, there is at least one Regency, a western, a medieval, and another time period offered to readers.

A sense of place . . .

When I wanted to try a non-traditional location for my own medievals, Harlequin embraced the idea of Ireland as a setting. As long as the setting complements the storyline, international places are always welcome. The romances are character-centered, with strong emotional plot lines. Although the stories are grounded within history, the romance must always come first.

At the same time, world building plays a key role. I have the freedom to build up my characters and their families, continuing storylines throughout more than one book. I've written three stories about the MacEgan brothers (Her Irish Warrior, The Warrior's Touch, and Her Warrior King), and with each book, I've enjoyed adding to the family saga.

There is truly something for everyone within Harlequin Historicals, whether readers want a sexy Irish warrior or a sweet Regency with a gentleman hero. You can escape to another world of adventurous knights, dance with a handsome duke, or be rescued by a handsome cowboy. But best of all, you can fall in love with a fairytale hero and truly be carried off into the sunset. Romantic fantasies are a huge part of historical romances, and each and every book strives to fulfill readers' desires.

Michelle's next book in the MacEgan Brothers series, Her Warrior King, will be released in January. Visit her website at: for more details.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Writers Wednesday - All about words!

Our Natasha's here - lock away your credit card, right now!

I have mentioned I have an addiction, haven't I? My writerly tip this month will necessitate a little spending.

I'm assuming you've already bought my entire backlist, Kate Walker's '12-point Guide to Writing Romance', everything written by Francesco Da Mosto (research tool for Italian heroes) as instructed during my last Temptation Tuesday blog ...?


This, then, is your next purchase - Rodale's 'The Synonym Finder'. It's an absolute gem. There are other synonym finders out there, but I reckon this is the best there is.

I chose it on the basis of the word 'virile'.

Go into any bookshop, pick up a synonym finder and look up 'virile'. It's so often disappointing. But, look in Rodale's synonym finder and you find an impressive 61 alternatives.

Brace yourself:

manly, masculine, manful, manlike, he-man, macho, potent, hairy-chested, two-fisted, broad-shouldered, vigorous, lusty, strong, powerful, hardy, robust, mighty, hale, hearty, stout, rugged, red-blooded, burly, thickset, athletic, well-built, well-knit, muscular, brawny, strapping, husky, sturdy, sinewy, wiry, energetic, dynamic, forceful, forcible, spirited, tough, rough, plucky, spunky, doughty, nervy, daring, audacious, mettlesome, fearless, undaunted, dashing, bold, venturesome, valiant, courageous, intrepid, valorous, gallant, chivalrous, heroic, soldierly.

A further 62 if you want to replace 'virility'.

'Sexy' gives you:

suggestive, exciting, arousing, sensual, sensuous, sexual, erotic, risque, ribald, bawdy, bedroom, off-colour, indecent, lewd, shameless, immodest, indecorous, unseemly, improper, indelicate, rude, obscene, pornographic, vulgar, foul, filthy, dirty, smutty, raunchy, scatalogical, gross, crude, coarse, attractive, appealing, fascinating, captivating, enticing, alluring, inviting, tempting, seductive, foxy, beautiful, lovely, pretty, stunning, eye-filling, stricking, zingy, shapely, curvy, curvaceous, voluptuous, built, stacked, busty, beddable, good=looking, handsome, virile.

Whilst I admit it's unlikely you're ever going to want to describe your 'sexy' hero as 'obscene', you've got to admit that's a useful list for any romance writer.

And whilst you're in a spending mood just pop in a book of quotations. Less useful on a day-to-day basis but, for any lover of words, great fun.

'Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.'
Charles M. Schulz (1922 - 2000), Charlie Brown in "Peanuts"

'Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.'
H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

'Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself.'
Jean Anouilh (1910 - 1987)

'But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.'
Jane Austen (1775 - 1817), Northanger Abbey

'Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock.'
John Barrymore (1882 - 1942)

'To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don't want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.'
Madonna (1958 - ), O Magazine, January 2004

'There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.'
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), 'Of Human Bondage', 1915

'Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments: love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.'

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), Sonnet cxvi

Had enough yet????

Of course, you can find some wonderful quotations on the web but it's so much more enjoyable to take a book into the bath.

Too hot water, rose scented bubblebath, nice chilled glass of chardonnay ....

'An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.'
Charles de Montesquieu (1689 - 1755)

'Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money'.
Jules Renard (1864 - 1910)

'Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.'
Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990)

'I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.'
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

'Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.'
Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988)

With love

This July saw the start of a brand-new series in the Presents line - The Royal House of Niroli.

"The Mediterranean island of Niroli has prospered for centuries under the Fierezza men. But now, as the King’s health declines, and his 2 sons have been tragically killed, the crown is in jeopardy. Who will rule? "

Natasha's book, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride', is available NOW in the UK and North America - and is a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Travelling Tuesday - Where's Wylie?

This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society our very own travelling Trish Wylie brings us some more snapshots from her latest adventures... this time from Spain...Spanish hero anyone???

It's very important between deadlines to refresh the muse with some new ideas I feel. And if there's one thing I've learnt this year from all my travels, it's just that. My last book and the one I'm working on right now wouldn't even exist if it weren't for my adventures to the States in the summer. So with the hectic schedule I've had since I got back it made sense to hop on a plane and head for another inspiration filled destination ;)

I've never been to Spain before as it happens, and thanks to my mate had no idea where I was going to until the day before. And I'm kinda glad we did it out of season so it was mild enough to take nice long walks and discover little coves with houses where I could very easily place my hero's house...which of course started the muse off with questions like who is he? How can I get my heroine here? Who is she? What's their story? What are they like??? You know - the usual busmans holiday for a writer...

And I'd definitely hide them away in this little cove rather than on the seafront where the usual holidaymakers would hang out. Maybe in order to 'escape' the hero for a few hours my heroine could skip down the same kind of coastal path we walked along, past the little coves with the crashing waves and azure clear sea, along sandy paths edges with palm trees and ridiculously large cactus plants? It was certainly romantic enough, don't you think?

And I guess if the heroine was anything like me she too could be charmed by the simple pleasure of a huge bowl of greek salad with local grown olives and the most amazing cinnamon flavoured iced coffee in the world that a handsome waiter added flowers and straws to. And when he said 'is especialle' in english with that lovely rolling lilt of the tongue the Spanish do best and a sparkle of amusement at my embarressment in his simply gorgeous warm brown eyes I completely got what it was that has proved so attractive about Spanish heroes to readers... I'd make mine a little taller though I have to say... I'm only five foot six myself and the fact there were so few Spanish men around much above a couple of inches taller than me was a little, well, disappointing if I'm completely honest. Ahhhh the beauty of an imaginary world...

So off I headed the next day to the glorious chaos of Barcelona. And if ever there was a city you could romp a hero and heroine through then this is it! Old medievel buildings mixed with new high rises mixed with the madcap designs of buildings from Gaudi and Dali - wide avenues lined with trees where tropical birds squawk and chatter - classical wrought iron spanish balconies spilling over with plants - long pedestrian thoroughfares lined with street entertainers and flower shops galore and pet stores with everything from minature hamsters to live turkeys and chickens and singing canaries by the dozen - indoor markets filled with produce so fresh the lobsters are actually crawling off the ice and all the vegetables look like harvest festival displays and there are stores entirely dedicated to olives or dried meats or freshly squeezed juices or oils or fruits I can't even identify or - oh-my-oh-my HAND MADE CHOCOLATES - and outdoor second hand book fares where you can browse to your hearts content before strolling down narrow cobbled streets to buy bags full of the kind of pastries that make you moan out loud when you taste them...

And if that wasn't enough to occupy our hero and heroine we could take them on the tram past the rich old houses that look like they were taken straight off a box of chocolates or from Disneyworld to the funicular that rumbles gently up the ridiculously steep incline to the top of a mountain overlooking the city and the mountains and sea in the distance. They could drink little coffees and eat more of those wonderous pastries while looking at the view and if they wanted to they could do one of the insanely-close-to-the-edge rides at the funfair before staring in awe at the stunning mosaics in massive alcoves inside the cathedral that sits right on the very top of the mountain then rumbling back down in the funicular. I don't see how they couldn't be more than a little in love by that stage, do you?

But I think the thing that has struck me most since I started travelling more for research is how different each of the big cities has felt. Yes there are people doing the same things everywhere; getting up for work, commuting, popping out for lunch, travelling home, out for dinner the odd time, shopping, collecting kids from school - all the usual things. But in each city they have a different pace, a different tempo - a different heartbeat if you like. I kinda love that. Barcelona had a very European feel and yet every now and again there would be a quirkiness so very individual to it. The amount of art deco and contemporary art blended in with the traditional really strikes you and I loved the paintings on the walls of the buildings, the number of mopeds parked everywhere, the wide corridors of green in all the streets and the little things like the fact people had stopped in the middle of a busy designer shopping district to dance in couples in the street when a ragamuffin jazz band played and then the buskers who played inside our train carriage between stops - everything from accordian players to a pan pipes and guitar quartet... heck, even the fact that the sirens make a different sound to any other city I've visited made me smile...

When I started writing I followed the adage of 'write what you know', so all my stories were set in Ireland because I'd visited all of the 32 counties. But thanks to writing I've visited places in various different countries; London, New York, Dusseldorf and now Barcelona have been added to the lovely Dublin and Galway and Cork in my choices of 'write what you know' and in February of next year I even get to add Rome... sigh... doesn't really get much better than that does it??? I've discovered in order to expand your horizons in your writing, even a little, it's so so important to leave the writing cave from time to time. So next time you get stuck gals, LEAVE THE COMPUTER and go for a walk - look around you - breathe deep - enjoy your surroundings. You never know what stories might jump into your head! And even before I was fortunate enough to go see these places I loved the fact that these little books we all love so much could transport me across the planet. Without the stories I read in my teens I might never have wanted to see the places I have on my list, and yes - I do have a rather long list ;)
Now I just have to find a story to go with Barcelona. And then I have the difficult choice of a potential hero to *cast* to go with the setting... I'm thinking Enrique Iglesias myself... or possibly Gael Garcia Benal... or there's always Antonio Banderas I s'pose... MAN THIS IS A TOUGH JOB...
So if you had a list of places to research for a book where would you hop on a plane to visit? Skies the limit gals - it's a small planet, and getting smaller by the day, so come play... and I'll let you know if any of your destinations are on my list for the next couple of years ;)

H's & K's

Trish's next release from Modern Heat features a yummy Irish hero and a fiesty Irish heroine in a contemporary romp through Dublin.

His Mistress: His Terms is available from the Mills & Boon site next month and usual retailers in January

To find out more about Trish and her books you can visit her Website or her Blog.(where you can find more of her pics from her trip to Spain and she'll try to answer any questions you might have about Barcelona if you need a hand...)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Male On Monday...the OTHER towel photo!

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Donna to see who she's picked for a Male on Monday slot...and apparently TV Guide agreed in their 2007 Sexiest Men issue...

Confession time: Ever since I heard about Male on Monday I’ve dreamed of writing this post…that makes me sound rather desperate, doesn’t it. Oh well – I can live with that. Because I am still as much of a fan now as I was several years ago when I first discovered this talented, smart, HOT actor.

He is, of course, Jamie Bamber.

How much of a fan am I? I have an autographed picture of him at my desk. I had my picture taken in the area of London where he grew up…Hammersmith…and thanks to fellow PHS’er Trish for taking this picture and contributing to my fangirliness during our afternoon in London. I have watched much of what he’s acted in, except for a few that just can’t be found in North America. I’ve even loved listening to him in radio plays and interviews.

The official bio states that: Jamie St. John Bamber Griffith, was born on April 3, 1973 in Hammersmith, London. His father, Ralph is an American. His mother, Elizabeth is Irish and she trained as an actress. He has 5 brothers and one sister (we'd like to see the brothers too). The family lived in France for Jamie's first few years. He attended a bilingual school there until the family moved back to England when he was eight.

Jamie's first part was that of a woman! He played the wicked witch in the "Wizard of Oz" at school - his hair was probably long at the time. In 1996, Jamie went to the London Academy of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) where he completed a post graduate course. Before that he received a first Class Honours Degree in Modern Languages (Italian and French) at St. Johns College, Cambridge University. (courtesy of Jamie Bamber, This Is Your Website)

Now…one of the biggest attractions for me is a man who is intelligent, and you don’t get First Class Honours from Cambridge by being a slouch. The very thought of him speaking in foreign languages is enough to make me stuttttttter. His favourite book is Dante's Divine Comedy and he has a fascination with Italian national hero Garibaldi. Added into that a propensity for practical jokes and a sharp wit, and I’m already nearly sold.

Jamie also fell madly in love with a co-star and they married, promptly had three baby girls (one set of twins) and somehow manage to juggle parenthood and two careers – his wife Kerry is a singer and actress and has starred in a guest role on Jamie’s current show.

Wrap all that up in a package that looks like this:

(Look, we all know that the PHS is famous for towel pictures, so why not one more for the record books?)

The thing I love about Jamie’s acting is how he brings all the nuances of his character to light. Archie Kennedy wasn’t even supposed to be a recurring character in Horatio Hornblower until they gave it to Jamie and saw all the potential…and we’re forever grateful…and we’re still rebelling over the ending of RETRIBUTION…even if it was superbly acted.

He even brought Hans to life in Daniel Deronda despite a lack of lines and bad hair. Which I will NOT show here.

But most of all, we love him for the fracked up character of Lee Adama in Ron Moore’s reimagining of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA…there are sites dedicated just to this character and whether or not he’s being written as he deserves, whether or not he should ever be with Starbuck, and fanfiction galore. Odes have been composed to his "sapphire bullet" eyes and the glory of his muscled arms...but may I also add that it is his character that really intrigues me... Lee is principled, but open-minded in a world that no longer has the luxury of being black and white. He has twisted relationships with his father and best friend and we’re still not sure exactly why he's made some of the decisions he has….

And of course if you aren’t into smart, thought-provoking writing, you can simply carry on looking at pictures like THIS…something to be said for Wet Jamie...

All in all I don’t see my interest waning any time soon….so what do you think? Are you converted?

Donna's latest book which doesn't feature Jamie Bamber is Marriage at Circle M, available on e-harlequin and amazon and soon to be released in December in Australia and New Zealand.

You can find out more about her hero worship on her Blog and her books on her website.