Saturday, October 03, 2009

Wild Card Weekend - Winners and losers

This weekend PHS editor Donna Alward talks about winning, losing, and simply playing the game...

First of all, thank you to everyone who popped by to help celebrate the Pink Heart Society's third birthday! We might as well kick off this post on a high note, so...drum roll please...the winner of our birthday prize is Caroline Storer!

Congratulations! If you can e-mail us with your snail mail addy, we'll let our authors know and your prizes will be on their way!

Saturdays are Wild Card Weekends, so it seemed a natural fit to talk about playing cards. Especially since I've been playing cards a LOT lately. We have company from Alberta staying with us and our favourite thing to do with them - besides eat - is to break out the cards and play canasta. My inlaws taught me how to play but we didn't play very often. Being so far away meant games only when we were visiting maybe once a year. When we discovered that these particular Albertans knew how to play, we were in heaven. One Christmas holiday we stayed up until four in the morning, until we just couldn't play anymore.

This past week and a bit has seen us playing nearly every night. It is always boys against the girls and the boys got a head start. The girls have been slowly gaining ground. One night we had neighbours over, added another deck of cards and taught them to play. The only word for it, I think, is raucous. We had a fantastic time.

While the scorecard has shown the ladies at a disadvantage, personally I've just been having fun. I'm very competitive by nature, but that seems to disappear when playing with them. We just have a good time. We grumble and "whoop and holler" at each other and slap cards down when we make a particularly good play. I of course like coming out on top but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter.

We've also played a little bit of cribbage, but it's definitely been more...well...subdued. I am thinking of teaching them how to play 45's. I haven't played 45's in years - we used to play it when we went for card night at my sister and brother in law's when we were dating. We don't see my sister that often, so cards only happens once a year or so at their place. 45's tends to be a real Maritime game - no one I knew in Alberta had ever even heard of it. But it's a big deal here. My sister had a 45's tournament at her wedding shower. I do find it a bit more challenging - bidding and taking tricks takes a certain skill. We've been known to mix it up and play hearts now and again as well.

Do you guys have card games that you love? Are there some great games that I'm missing?

Donna's newest release is Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage with Patricia Thayer. It is now available at Eharlequin and on the Mills and Boon site.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Must Watch Friday - An Affair to Remember

Barbara Hannay joins us this Friday with a wonderful post on a classic: Ten reasons to watch An Affair to Remember again…

Have you ever asked yourself why you love romance? Were you born a romantic, or can you pinpoint influences in your life that have nudged you in this direction?

I’ve often thought that my love of romance started early, shaped by my imaginative and dreamy nature… and the very feminine world in which I grew up. I was the eldest of three girls, and my mother was one of four girls, and her sisters (my aunts) gave me all those wonderful girly books for birthdays and Christmas… the Anne Books, Little Women, Pollyanna, Seven Little Australians… all of these stories had romance at their heart.

And then there were the movies… Our family never had a television and I saw very few movies, so the movies I did see had a huge impact on me. One of these, viewed when I was very young, was An Affair to Remember

I saw this on a Christmas visit to Sydney, and I was only seven, turning eight. My aunt took me to see it, and I always found going out with her quite fascinating. Our excursions invariably included going to a cafĂ© for afternoon tea, and she would have a cigarette afterwards, and then, while sitting at the table, she’d reapply her lipstick and powder her nose. My mum didn’t do any of those things, certainly not in public.

And it was in this fascinating context that An Affair to Remember wrapped itself around my tender, young heart and sent down very strong roots.

For those of you too young to know, this is the movie that is referred to in Sleepless in Seattle. Apparently there was an even earlier version and there has been a more modern remake called Love Affair, but in my opinion this isn’t anywhere near as good as the version with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Of course, when I became a romance author I had to watch this movie again (you can buy it in supermarkets and I reckon it’s a worthwhile investment). I wanted to work out why the movie left such a deep impression on me. I’m always trying to examine exactly how romance stories work their magic.

(BTW, there are spoilers here, but this movie is so well known, I’m guessing it doesn’t matter. You could know every line by heart and still cry.)

So why do I love An Affair to Remember? Let me tell you ten reasons…

1) There’s an excellent cute meet. Two urbane and beautiful people (both engaged to someone else ) – international playboy, Nicky Ferranti, and night club singer-cum-kept woman, Terry McKay – meet on a luxury liner and exchange witty retorts shimmering with thinly veiled flirtation. I love the fact that she has the upper hand.

"My mother told me never to enter a man's room in months ending in ‘r’."

2) Right from the very start the sexual tension between this couple jumps off the screen.

3) The characters have just enough depth. We learn through deftly handled dialogue over several scenes, about Terry’s difficult family background. We also discover a completely new side to Nicky when their ship calls into port in the south of France. He and Terry visit his grandmother. (I do love a bad boy who’s lovely to his grandmother.) In this scene there’s also a warning about a test for Nicky’s character that will come in the future.

His grandmother says: "Sometimes I'm frightened that life will present a bill to Nicolo one day, that he will find hard to pay." We in the audience know this is an omen of bad things to come, that will almost certainly involve Terry.

4) The setting of this pivotal scene is visually stunning and super romantic. All my life, I’ve remembered Deborah Kerr kneeling in the grandmother’s private chapel… as well as her gorgeous home and garden beside the sea, and that hauntingly beautiful music… and the moment with the shawl…

5) The turning points are clearly signalled. OK, this might sound corny to you, but I love it when Terry says to Nicky: "We're heading into a rough sea, Nicky."And he replies: "I know. We changed our course today."

These lines are said back on the ship, after the beautiful interlude at the grandmother’s, during which the movie’s lovely and famously haunting theme song is played and sung. We know Terry and Nicky have fallen in love and that their pre-existing relationships are now in jeopardy.

6) The characters have well motivated goals. Inspired by his new love, the hero wants to turn his life around. Not only will he extract himself from his loveless engagement to a wealthy heiress, Nicky now has new goals to earn money as a painter and to prove to Terry that he loves her and is worthy of her.

7) The movie proves my editor is right. My editor never wants me to have too many pages in which the hero and heroine aren’t together, taking centre stage. And the next part of this movie demonstrates why. You actually feel quite deflated once the couple are parted. The dazzle leaves the screen. Luckily this is saved by…

8) A ticking clock! We know that Nicky and Terry plan to meet in six months’ time at the top of the Empire State building, and we get glimpses of how both characters are working towards their goals during this time. We’re desperate for them to get together again.

9) A really big black moment. Tragedy strikes when Terry is knocked down by a taxi on her way to keep this important appointment. Nicky never knows why she doesn’t turn up. He waits for her till midnight. (sigh)

10) A tear jerker ending. I believe everything about this movie’s ending works to bring a lump to the throat.

But why stop at ten, when the movie has SO MUCH MORE?

11) The drawn out tension in which we will Nicky to find out that Terry’s in a wheelchair. Or for her to make contact and tell him.

12) The fact that it’s Christmas.

13) More tension!!!!!!!!!!!! During his arrival at her flat, still not knowing the truth about her accident.

14) The gift of the grandmother’s shawl, sent for Terry after the grandmother’s death. … ‘So that’s why my letters came back unanswered.’

15) The pain in Nicky’s face when he learns the truth. (Cary Grant does this moment perfectly, and this is where the modern remake falls down completely.)

16) And then that line: ‘If it had to be one of us, why did it have to be you?’

Barbara Hannay’s October release for Harlequin Romance is The Bridesmaid’s Baby, the second book in her Baby Steps to Marriage duet.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday Talk Time: Tips for Aspiring Authors

Lyn Cote shares some of her tips on How to Become a Published Author

Many readers are interested in how becoming published actually happens. The business of publishing is one that most people have no working knowledge. I know I didn't. The thing to keep in mind is that it is better to educate yourself instead of making a costly mistake.
Here are a few tips:
1-Never pay a publisher or agent to publish your book. A publisher who charges more than a setup fee is called a vanity press. They aren't scams but all they do is print the book, nothing else. Unless you have a large group who are ready to buy it (For example, a family history that you've researched and is wanted by extended family members), don't choose this route lightly. You could end up with a garage full of books and disappointment.

Same for an agent. No reputable agent charges a writer. A reputable agent only makes money when they have sold one of your manuscripts to a publisher. They usually receive 15% of what the author is paid. And the writer's checks usually go to the agent first so it pays to find an HONEST agent.

2-Take time to browse in a bookstore and see what books are similar to yours. Who is publishing them? Find out more about these publishers.
3-Google your type of book (for instance, mystery+publishers) and see what results comes up.
4-Don't believe what your mother or best friend say about your writing. I write for the inspirational market which has a lower sensuality level and an inspirational theme. If you're interested in what a submission to a publisher is like. Drop by my website and click the Christian Book Publishers Page and scroll down to Moody Publishers. And read what they want in a submission. It's pretty much a good description.
5-Join local, regional and online writing groups and forums. Again, just google and you'll find many.
6-Finally, realize that most writers write an average of five books before publishing though a few have written as many as twelve. Do you have what it takes to weather disappointment and rejection? That comes with the territory.

After over 10 years of frustration and rejection, my first romance, Never Alone, was published in 1998 and was part of the new Love Inspired line for Steeple Hill, an imprint of Harlequin/Silhouette. To learn more about these books, drop by my website.

Hope my tips on publishing helps you or someone you know. Happy writing!

Lyn Cote
Her Inheritance Forever, 8-18-09
Every woman has a story! Share yours.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


September marks the third birthday of The Pink Heart Society! That's three years of YOU - and US - celebrating the great stories that make up Category Romance!!!!!!!!!

A few things have changed over the last few years - but one thing has always stayed the same, and that's the REAL reason why we're here - and why you keep coming back. I went back into the vault and pulled up the original launch party post by our founder, Trish Wylie whose passion for those "little books" with big hearts started the ball rolling.

If you are here then you are a loud proud lover of category romance just like we are and you're not afraid to say it to the world!!!

You're a lover of hot heroes and lovable heroines, of having them thrown together in a situation you simply can't see them finding a way out of, only to have them show you a thing or two about heroism, and hope, and truth, and love as they beat all odds to come together.

We all need to believe in Happily Ever After, right? So let's spread the word gang, let's shout it out - We love Category Romance - Say it Loud, Say it Proud!!!

And over the last three years we've brought you writing tips and tricks, reading recommendations, a little visual inspiration with our Male on Monday feature...not to mention Harlequin/Silhouette editors popping in now and again, virtual travel, movie reviews....and lots and lots of surprises!!!

To say a huge thank you to all our blog readers, we have a fantastic present up for grabs - enough to keep even the most voracious reader busy for a week or two. Now here's the deal.

Post in the comments and let us know what your favourite thing about the Pink Heart Society is - or what you'd most like to see more of! We'll be drawing from the comments and posting the winner on Saturday, October 3rd!

Now what you've all been waiting for - the list of prizes!

Invitation To the Boss's Ball - Fiona Harper

Two Weeks in the Magnate's Bed - Nicola Marsh

Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress - Kate Hardy

One Night Love-Child - Anne McAllister

The Savakis Mistress - Annie West

Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage - Donna Alward and Patricia Thayer

Taken By The Viking - Michelle Styles

Her Cinderella Complex - Jenna Bayley-Burke

Christmas Angel for the Billionaire - Liz Fielding

Bedded By The Greek Billionaire + tote bag - Kate Walker

Public Affair, Secretly Expecting - Heidi Rice


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Temptation Tuesday - Shopping with the Girls

Having spent my childhood as a tomboy I didn’t come to the shopping thing until my late teens. And it has only been in the last few years that I have come to enjoy the fun of shopping with the girls.

These trips are wonderful bonding sessions and celebrations of female friendship. Sometimes the trips are near home and sometimes they are further a field. Those trips nearer to home usually start with lunch. Maybe at the Manicomio in Duke of York Square on London’s Kings Road. A few glasses of wine to limber us up before we hit the shops.

And what is wonderful about shopping with your friends is the camaraderie, the way you can try on different clothes and accessories that you wouldn’t try on your own and sometimes the risks pay off. I think this is sometimes like having critique partners, you try different writing and you show it to trusted friends who give you that feedback that you really should try that new thing. Or sometimes that head shake that stops you from making a fool of yourself.

So you shop and after every couple of purchases you find a bar to stop in and take a glass or two of champagne. There you will ooo and ahhh over everything you’ve bought. And then it is off to shop again.

The other fun thing about shopping with the girls is the way you have strength in numbers when you want to go into those posh and expensive shops that you know you can’t afford but you love to look at. With my gang we have wandered round Hermes and tried on handbags worth thousands. We have tried on shoes that would have covered my mortgage payments. And once we even tried on jewellery that I would need a lottery win to afford. And you know what I call it? Research!

Now if I could persuade the tax man that all shopping trips and purchases are legitimate business expenses then I could feel better about some of my recent purchases. The purple suede shoe boots were necessary as were the earrings but I’m not sure I can justify the leopard print trilby hat.

Biddy is currently working on her book whilst wearing her fetching new hat. She is available for London shopping trips for purely research purposes if anyone fancies it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Male On Monday: Matt Dillon

Brigid Coady is celebrating her birthday by sharing a teen crush with The Pink Heart Society.

As it is my birthday today and I figure I can do what I like on that day (and my mother can no longer send me to my room for being a birthday diva) I have chosen one of the earliest crushes I ever had.

Step up… Mr Matt Dillon.

Ever since I saw him play Dallas in ‘The Outsiders’ as a teenager I was a goner. A bad boy with perfect features he stole my heart. His poster was plastered over my walls and I was certain I was going to marry him when I grew up. Hmm he’s single, I’m single… this could still happen!

Six foot Matthew Raymond Dillon was born in New Rochelle, New York. Through his father, Matt is related to comic strip artist Alex Raymond. He has one sister and four brothers, one of whom, Kevin Dillon, is also an actor, from the hit TV series Entourage. He grew up in Mamaroneck, New York.

In 1979, casting director Vic Ramos went to Mamaroneck High School and spotted Matt cutting class. He asked him to audition for a role, and Dillon made his film debut in the violent teen drama Over the Edge. After a few teen movies in the mid-1980s he starred in three movies based on S.E. Hinton books. First he starred as a fatherless country boy in Tex, then he headlined a cast of superb young actors, including Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze (RIP), in the moving The Outsiders, and finally he was back in trouble once more in the superb Rumble Fish with Mickey Rourke.

As his looks matured (and boy how they did!) Matt moved into broader roles such as the smooth-talking Brooklyn teenager conning everyone at a posh Florida country club in The Flamingo Kid (he made a pink polo shirt look fab). He made his first foray into adult action with Gene Hackman in the thriller Target and then struck gold with the critics with his performance in the uncompromising 'Gus van Sant' film about drug addicts, Drugstore Cowboy. Unfortunately, his next few films fell back into a degree of mediocrity until another intriguing performance as a young schizophrenic in The Saint of Fort Washington, then another romantic comedy role in Mr. Wonderful. He worked again with van Sant as naive husband Larry Maretto opposite murderous Nicole Kidman in the icy thriller To Die For.
Matt remained busy and turned in excellent performances in the sexy thriller of murder and double-crosses, Wild Things. He was hilarious as a sleazy private eye lovestruck by Cameron Diaz in the box-office smash There's Something About Mary. He also dated his co-star Cameron Diaz for a number of years. He starred in the black comedy One Night at McCool's, made his feature film directorial debut with City of Ghosts, had a day that goes from bad to worse in Employee of the Month. And, for his work in the Best Picture Academy Award winner Crash, Dillon received a long-overdue Oscar nomination, as Best Supporting Actor.

As you can see from the photos that he has aged very well! He supposedly is a keen runner and can be found running in Central Park, New York City. Hmmm I’m off there in November… I think I should pack my running gear because who knows I might bump into him there. Of course as soon as he sees me he’ll propose. Mrs Brigid Dillon. I like the sound of that!

Biddy is wrestling with her latest book, it got a good report from the RNA’s New Writers Scheme so it is back on track. She is also going into training to ensure Matt Dillon can’t run away.