Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wild Card Weekend - Maui Wowie!

The Pink Heart Society welcomes Charlene Sands and her post on Maui Wowie and Location, Location, Location!

I’ve never met a tropical island I didn’t like! In the dead of winter, with temperatures falling below freezing in many areas, what better way to warm up than with thoughts of lush greenery, tall palms trees, golden sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and two appealing characters locked together in a game of cat and mouse? Set on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, Reserved for the Tycoon, the third and final book in my Suite Secrets series, fits the bill.

I have such fond memories of our trip to Maui with my children and those images stayed with me throughout the writing of this book. Who could forget biking down the volcano at Haleakela Crater, wearing enough outer gear and a helmet to look like a space alien? From the very top of the bike route, all five of the Hawaiian Islands were visible – an awesome sight. We were above the clouds and as we biked down, we shed layers of clothing until we reached the shoreline where the temperatures grew warmer.

We attended a luau with Tiki torches blazing and hula dancers entertaining the audience as we learned all about Polynesian history - the translation of the hula nearly as inspiring as the actual hip action those amazing dancers displayed. We sipped on fruity Mai Tai drinks and were educated in the art of underground cooking with the Imu Ceremony. The Kalua pork was delicious!

We stayed at a resort much like Tempest Maui, Brock Tyler’s newly renovated hotel. The sandy beach at its front door, the hotel epitomized luxury, convenience and beauty. I wanted to convey those characteristics in my story and throughout my Suite Secrets series, the roles of the Tempest Hotels became much like secondary characters, with personalities all their own. It’s funny how images stay with you and though they diminish through time, it’s the essence of the memory that never fades away. It flavors how you write and gives your story a certain feeling and atmosphere.

The story between Vanessa Dupree and Brock Tyler could have been told anywhere, but to be effective and hopefully, enjoyable, the setting had to be right on. You know what they say about location, location, location. Tempest Maui, a once dilapidated hotel on great beachfront property posed the ultimate challenge for our hero, Brock Tyler. And of course, the bet he had with his brother played a part in Brock wanting to make his newly refurbished hotel successful. Little did Brock know that his new Events Planner had a “plan” of her own that included a bit of sabotage and deception.

Romance lives in the hearts of all of us, but it doesn’t hurt to have lush surroundings, killer sunsets, sizzling beaches and emotions running as hot as the tropics.

Some Fun Facts about Maui:

Aloha - "In meeting or in parting, 'Aloha' was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana, goodness and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality.

Maui is known as the Valley Isle and is the 2nd largest island in the Hawaiian chain.

Maui is known for long stretches of beautiful beaches and the landmark Haleakala Crater, also known as the House of the Sun.

Maui is also the breeding ground for the Humpback Whale, who winters there before heading back to Alaska.

Often, directions are given in terms like mauka (toward the mountain) or makai (toward the sea) rather than north and south. (Example: Alio Street is mauka of Front Street)
Honking your horn is considered poor manners on Maui. You don’t honk in Paradise!
Red and yellow markers in the shape of Hawaiian warriors along the roads mark historical landmarks and points of interest.

Maui County includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokai.

What’s your favorite romantic getaway? What locales do you like to read about? Have you ever been to Hawaii?

Charlene Sands is an award-winning author of 25 romance novels and her November book, Do Not Disturb Until Christmas has been nominated by RT Magazine for Best Silhouette Desire of 2008. Her current release, Reserved for the Tycoon is available on and and will be available in bookstores in early February. Make your reservation to be swept away with Reserved for the Tycoon!

***Charlene is offering one book of your choice from her Suite Secrets series to one lucky commenter today! ***

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Fun - Sex And The City

To help spice up our Friday's, The Pink Heart Society is expanding our Friday line-up to include more than movies -- tv, plays, musicals...whatever is fun!

I think every generation has a television show that represents them to the world. For American women, Sex And The City is it. The Pink Heart Society's obsession with the show is testament to it...Ally sang the praises of Mr. Big (Chris Noth), Natasha panted over Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis), Trish hoped the same men might be her Santa, I thought they'd make the ideal dream date...only Nicola saw fit to actually mention the leading ladies!

From 1998 - 2004 HBO aired the show and everyone I know tuned in. For six years we watched women in their mid-30's navigate dating and marriage in New York. Now that the show is in syndication - not to mention last summer's movie - we can see them without extended cable.

Based loosely on the book by Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City follows the lives of four fabulously different friends -- newspaper columnist Carrie, a card carrying member of the New York glitterati -- sexually confident Samantha, who has an amazing career in PR and more men than I could ever keep straight -- conservative Charlotte who follows the rules and doesn't always win -- workaholic lawyer Miranda tries to balance everything. There's even a handle web quiz to see which Sex in the City character you are.

Go ahead...tell us...WHO ARE YOU?

Jenna is hard at work on her next title for Mills & Boon Modern Heat. In the meantime, Her Cinderella Complex is available with a millionaire, secretary, engagement of convenience, private island, and a hot pool scene. To find out what Jenna is up to now...check out her website or blog.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Talk Time - What are you Reading with Pamela Tracy

Maybe the question should be “What am I not Reading?”

Truthfully, I’m reading one of the RITA books that arrived at my door last week. Hmmm, I’m not going to talk about that (picture tape over mouth), so I’ll talk about all my other books! Fun, fun, fun!

Enter the house of Pamela Tracy. It’s a maze of toddler toys, daddy toys, and mommy books. Of course there is a book in the living room. Yup, on the antique sewing machine by my comfortable easy chair (the one with koolaid stains on the arms) is a book I’ve been reading on and off for the last three years. It’s call What to Expect: The Toddler Years. It’s by Arlene Eisenberg. See, I became a first time mother at the age of 44. My son is now three. All my friends, mostly falling under the category of either new mothers-in-law or ridiculously young grandmothers, look at me fairly askew when I asked questions like, “Should I still be helping my son get his pajamas on at age three or should he be able to dress himself?” Thus the need for Eisenberg’s book.

Travel now the master bathroom. On the edge of the tub (we have a very strange 70’s era tub made of burnt orange tile. Really, we almost didn’t buy the house!), you’ll find my husband’s dirt bike magazines, you’ll find People magazine, and there is the secret RITA book by the secret RITA author. Truthfully, I’m interested in the book. It’s an imprint I’ve never really read before, and so far, I’m having a secret good time.

Now, for the bed. My husband insisted we have a king sized bed. Unfortunately, we do not have a king sized room. So, our bedroom is mostly bed. I do have a nightstand by my bed (shoved against the wall). There are no less than five books on it. On top is Walking The Bible by Bruce Feiler. See, I’ve always made it a habit to read something spiritually aimed before bed. Usually, it’s the Bible. Sometimes it’s a devotional book. Right now Feiler’s book is proving very enjoyable. I’d give it a thumbs up were I a judge. I expect to take more than a year to get through it. I read only one or two pages a night. I wish the scenes were in one or two pages. Sometimes I don’t know where to stop. The most interesting fact I’ve discovered from Feiler has to do with pillars of salt. Apparently near the Dead Sea, the air actually pushes down on the water (and a whole lot more happens) and then eventually salt will push out of the ground and even harden. Thus, pillars of salt.

Also near the bed are three Love Inspired books by Carol Steward. I met her a few weeks ago when she visited Arizona, and made it a point to grab her latest book. Two pages in, I realized that I just had to read the book before (think trilogy). A page into that one, I realized I just had to read book one. I owned it. I belong to the LIS bookclub. It took me a week to find it (now who put the book in my office when clearly the living room, the bathroom, or the bedroom was the logical choices!). Before I could get past page ten, the RITAs arrived. Carol’s books are lying there, lonely, just waiting for some attention. Also in my bedroom, (I did say there were five books on the nightstand) is Nora Roberts’ Angel Falls. I’ve watched the movie and now want to see how they compare.

My son’s bedroom is the hot spot for me. It’s done in Thomas the Train. Boy was I glad to leave Baby Einstein and hit the Thomas era. Thomas has plot. Thomas even has a girlfriend. Truly, I read two books, complete books!, a night – thanks to my son. Right now his number one favorite is Corduroy. If I see that little bear on the side of the road, we’re talking roadkill. Then, he lets me vary. Last night I also read Who Took the Cookie From the Cookie Jar. We also read a chapter each night from his Children’s Bible.

My husband’s office has books in it, but they’re just there because… well because there are books everywhere.

The kitchen, too, doesn’t not have a currently-in-process book… unless you see my purse there hanging from a table chair. Yup, there it is. In the side pocket. I’m reading What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley. This is a Love Inspired Suspense I started before the RITAs arrived. I’m twenty pages from the end. Wouldn’t you know it, the RITAs arrived right when school started (Did I mention I’m a teacher?) My reading time was cut in half. Oh, and did I mention that I have a book due Feb. 20th. It really doesn’t have a title. Oh, and I’m also doing line edits for my August release Fugitive Family. And, then this month I have a release Daddy for Keeps.

It’s a rare day that I have just one book going. When I was about eight, I can remember my parents taking me to the toy store. “Pam, go pick a toy,” they said. (Yup, I was raised an only child). I went and got a book. My parents looked at each other. “This is not a toy; it’s a book. We’ll get you the book, but you can have a toy, too.” Eight books and one toy later, we’d leave the store.

Happy reading everyone!

Thanks for joining us today Pam! You can learn more about Pam at her website!

And don't forget - today marks Harlequin's official 60th Birthday!!!!!!!!!

Drop by to see what's in store and download free books as a thank you!

From all of us at The Pink Heart Society....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Lucy King's Call Story

Drumroll please! The Pink Heart Society is proud to welcome the winner of the Feel The Heat Contest, Lucy King! Everyone loves a winner!!

Hello everyone!!

I’m Lucy King and I think I’m the latest addition to the Presents/Modern Heat/Sexy Sensation stable. I say ‘think’ because the news hasn’t really sunk in yet. Half of me is convinced that this is a parallel universe created by my own warped brain, the other half is so euphoric it doesn’t really care if it is. Either way, I’m very excited to be here.

When I entered the HMB ‘Feel the Heat’ competition way back in September I never expected to get anywhere. The editorial team at Mills & Boon received 150 entries, so the odds of winning were on a par with Italy winning the Six Nations Rugby. (Which, incidentally, I think is a little harsh. I mean, have you seen the Italian team? They may not be on course for victory but they’ll certainly make watching it fun.)

But I digress. Apart from winning four free tickets to the Swindon Oasis Leisure Centre in 1985 I’d never won anything in my life. However, as has been documented by me ad nauseam elsewhere, I did. And the prize? The sort of thing that any unpublished-but-desperately-wanting-to-be category romance writer could only dream of: a Mills & Boon editor for a year.

So after a bucket load of champagne and a flurry of emails to and from the fabulous Kim Young, I submitted the first three chapters of the story - which I’d already written - and waited. And waited. Kim got back to me with her comments on my competition entry in the first week of November and said how about getting the full in by, say, the middle of January or early February? Like the swotty new girl at school wanting to make a good impression (not to mention hoping to have a fortnight off at Christmas) I was thinking the end of December, and suggested just before Christmas. So that was it. Plenty of time.

And this is where my plan was fundamentally flawed and why I was never cut out to be the swotty new girl. Firstly Christmas isn’t at the end of December, which I really ought to know by now, and secondly, Kim was away from 19th Dec so it would have to be delivered before that. Somehow I’d cut at least a month off the deadline she’d originally put forward. Clever me.

The upshot of this was that I then had to write like a maniac for six weeks. (Does anyone else not really have a clue what they’re doing and have days when they delete more than they write, or is it just me?) After much hair-tearing and panic-proofreading I finally emailed the manuscript the day it was due. And because the editors at M&B are ├╝ber-busy and have proper writers to manage, I thought, well that’s that for the next few months. Luckily with the distractions of the festive season there wasn’t time to fret and obsess over the millions of things that I thought were wrong with it.

When the phone rang on 8th Jan (not sure of the exact time but it was getting dark), the last person I was expecting it to be was Kim. And the last thing I was expecting her to say was, ‘We want to buy your book.’ But it was and she did. I was so gobsmacked that I didn’t get round to turning the light on, just sat in the dark and babbled incoherently. And then just as I was getting to grips with the idea of being a Real Author and was beginning to get quite excited, Kim delivered the killer line. ‘We’re planning to announce it on iheartpresents so don’t tell anyone just yet.’ WHAT????? Oh, the cruelty. How on earth was I going to resist the urge to shout it from the rooftops? Well, obviously lots of champagne helped.

Technical problems meant that it was an agonising week before the post was up on iheartpresents, but it was so worth waiting for. Once the news was out the response was awesome. Congratulations poured in and everyone was so welcoming. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of it.
Lucy has a blog! Be sure to check it out when you're wondering what she's up to...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Temptation Tuesday: Between Books

Anne McAllister is in that odd wonderful place in her life where temptation (at least some of it) does not have to be resisted. She is BETWEEN BOOKS! So she's here to suggest ways to, um, waste time.

There is life between books.

Sometimes writers tend to forget that. They spend so much time "under deadline" or worse, "over deadline" that "life" seems like some sort of imaginary construct that other people use to distract them. Or try to.

Sometimes it even works.

But then there is guilt, and that's the subject of another blog. Between books there is no guilt. It's wonderful.

So what does one do when one doesn't have a book hanging over one's head?

Well, of course it depends on what turns you on.

I like the busman's holiday of reading other peoples' books. If I didn't write it, it's fair game when I'm between books.

The tottering stack of books on my TBR pile is looking less like the Leaning Tower of Pisa every day. If you want a recommendation -- and you like mystery as well as regency -- I've spent a very enjoyable part of my BB time reading the Sebastian St Cyr mysteries by C. S. Harris (who also wrote romance as Candice Proctor). Lots of others, too.

But one can't read all the time (and despite what the weather people would have you think, I don't find shoveling snow all the time that enjoyable either.) So what else?

Sports? I like watching most team sports. Always good to find story ideas there, too. Lots of stuff about honor and competence and putting the other guy/girl first. Reading Sports Illustrated comes under this heading, too. It's almost work, but not enough to be annoying.

Traveling -- or planning traveling. They each have their good points. Usually I'm so exhausted by the time I've sent in a book that all I want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep (also a good idea if you're so inclined). But when I finally wake up and don't find my eyes closing every time I sit down, I can be found prowling the internet looking for places I'd like to visit next.

I also spend a bit of time thinking how I might be able to work this into a book when I actually go. Having a reason to go, besides simple enjoyment, gives me a focus for what I want to do there. And writing a book about it makes the tax man happy too.

Of course the time before last when I was BB, I took off within hours to visit my youngest granddaughter (and, incidentally, her parents). That kind of travel doesn't net me any books, but it is definitely time well-spent and warms my heart. If you don't have grandkids yet, start lobbying now. They're worth it!

DVDs get their fair share of attention, too. I've been catching up on Burn Notice and the UK version of Life On Mars (thanks to Kate Walker who gave it to me for Christmas).

I also have recently been vicariously rescuing dogs. We have two golden retrievers, but lost our dearly beloved flatcoat retriever last month at the age of 12. He left a very big hole in our lives. The two still here are filling space very nicely. But I do find myself perusing the "flatcoat rescue" sites. It's not an official meal at our house unless there's a black hair on the plate. We're running short these days. So I look . . . but it's only looking (in case my husband is reading this) . . .

I read seed catalogues. Spring can't be far off when the seed catalogues fall through the mail slot.

I read parish registers from 18th century England on microfilm because I finally have time to do that and I'm still trying to sort out some very dead relatives.

I vacuum.

Occasionally, it must be said, I also vacuum (and dust!) while I'm writing a book (thank God, my husband says). But I vacuum -- and dust -- more often BB. The other day I even took apart the vacuum cleaner and cleaned it.

You know what that means . . . it means things are getting seriously out of hand.

It means it's almost time to go back to work.

When I wake up in the morning and the first thought I have is not What can I bake today? or I think I'll give the dogs a bath, but rather, What if Demetrios kidnapped Anny? then the juices are starting to flow again.

If the second thought is, Why would he do that? and not Who cares? (sometimes it really is Who cares?), then I sit down and start to make notes.

I still bake. I read SI. I still flip through travel mags. But now I'm thinking as I'm flipping, Where would he take her if he kidnapped her? Rome? The Seychelles? Jackson Hole?

And what does he look like?

If I start prowling the internet looking for likely heroes, if I start staring for minutes (well, all right, hours!) on end at Hugh-in-a-towel, or going through my "Heroes" folder looking for Demetrios, time is getting short.

Once I've found him . . . once he starts whispering in my ear, well, that's it. I'm not between books anymore. The vacation is over. I'm back to work.

The vacation is close to over for Anne. Demetrios has indeed started whispering in her ear. He still hasn't told her everything he needs to tell her. But she'll wring it out of him somehow.

Stop by her blog and drop any suggestions you might have for plot ideas -- or heroes! -- in her ear. She'd be delighted to hear them.

Recently her blog has been taken over by PJ Antonides, hero of
Antonides Forbidden Wife. So thanks to PJ, she's "between blogs" too. But he's got his own vacation in Hawaii coming up -- and a wife to spend it with at last -- so he promises Anne will be back this week. Or else.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Male on Monday - James D'Arcy

A big pink heart welcome to Romance Prize finalist India Grey, with a fab new addition to our Male on Monday lineup....

If I had any willpower I wouldn't be here right now. Procrastination and internet-related-work-avoidance are two of the things I'm supposed to be giving up for the new year, (along with chocolate, wine, toast and butter, and being late for everything). But when it comes to this man it's a well known fact that I have no resistance at all, and the excuse to spread the love for James D'Arcy was just too irresistible!

Anyway, in an attempt to sound businesslike and detached I won't mention that he's 6'3" and has the broad shoulders and perfect bone-structure usually spotted in the Uffizi’s sculpture gallery. Instead I’ll start by telling you that he was born in Fulham, London in 1975 and went to uber-posh Christ's Hospital School on a scholarship (mmm... clever boy...). After school he went to Australia for a year and worked in the drama department of a school in Perth before returning to England for a three year course at LAMDA. He's quoted as saying that he fell into acting almost by accident, but I suspect that it probably had something to do with the fact that there aren't too many careers where his obvious talent for looking mouthwateringly hot in a frock coat would be so well used. Clearly, it would be criminal to let this go to waste.

His first major film role came in 1999 when he played bolshy young Private Daventry in William Boyd's WW1 film The Trench, alongside Daniel Craig, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw. (Not exactly a laugh a minute, but definitely one to put on the lovefilm list) Following this he appeared in what was, by all accounts, (and our very own Kate Walker saw it!!) a total-kick ass production of Marlowe's Edward II at The Crucible in Sheffield, where he played the spoiled, sexy Piers Gaveston to Joseph Fiennes Edward, and was nominated for a prestigious Ian Charleson award for Outstanding Performance in a Classical Role. I can just imagine why...

His career moved up a gear and his TV parts got bigger and more prime-time (landing the title role in the 2001 BAFTA-winning Nicholas Nickleby sealed his reputation as a fine actor with a pair of clear green eyes that steal a scene without him even opening his mouth) while film offers seem to have been flooding in. Must-see highlights include the dark and sexy film Dot the i, with Natalia Verbeke and Gael Garcia Bernal in which he played Barnaby Caspian, a wealthy waster with a sinister double life, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, a swashbuckling, seafaring Boys-Own spectacular with Russell Crowe. (You can guiltlessly sit your other half in front of this and he'll be so caught up in the action that he'll never suspect you have an ulterior motive... unless, like me, your face takes on an avid, hungry expression every time Lt Pullings makes an appearance on the screen.) This was the first thing that I saw him in, although it wasn't until the TV series P.O.W hit UK TV screens in the autumn of 2003 that I really fell for him. Four years later I found myself thinking of captured WW2 pilot Jim Caddon when I began writing the book that was to become Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure, with its tall, dark RAF hero. These were some of the pictures I had pinned up above my computer... (Not the bouffant-haired car mechanic who appeared on the cover of the book, who is not Orlando Winterton at all, but a wicked impostor.)

Lately James has been seen in a rash of horror-slasher-blood-fest films, most notably Rise: Blood Hunter, where he played an extremely gorgeous bad-boy vampire opposite Lucy Liu. Sigh. Gorgeous, but do I want to sit through two hours of wall-to-wall gore to enjoy his spectacular cheekbones? No, I do not. Thank goodness for youtube for the edited highlights, and since Mr D'Arcy's next major screen outing is set to be the leading role in sci-fi series Virtuality I think I'll be relying on it more in the future. Sci fi! Honestly. Can a space suit ever be as darned hot as a pair of tight Victorian breeches? My instinct says no, although if there's one man who could persuade me....

Actually, there's one mystery that still puzzles me and I’m hoping you can help me out here… Given the talent and the green, green eyes and the brains and the strong, powerful shoulders why haven't I come across anyone else who's got a great big fangirly crush on him too? Either he's gorgeous or I'm delusional….

So… what’s the verdict?!

India Grey's Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure is coming out in the US as a Presents Extra in February so she’s just received a lovely box of author copies and would love to give some away! Email your address to and she’ll pick out five people to send one to. Romantic Times gave this book 4.5 stars and chose it as their Top Pick for the month, and it’s also made the shortlist for the RNA Romance Prize 2009.

India’s January release Taken for Revenge Bedded for Pleasure is available in the UK now. For more about this and other stuff check out her website or blog.