Saturday, March 06, 2010

Wild Card Weekend -- Guess Who's Here!!

The Pink Heart Society is happy to welcome one of our favorite authors - both to The Pink Heart Society and into the Harlequin author sisterhood. We know you'll be as Intrigued by HelenKay Dimon as we've been for a while now...

Hi everyone! I'm so thrilled to be here.

In publishing, you get quite a few firsts – the first time an editor calls to buy your book, the first time you see your cover, the first time you hold that book in your hands or see it on a shelf next to book by other authors you admire. These are amazing milestones. Fourteen books in and I still squeal with joy when the box of author copies arrives at my door. That excitement and wonder just had not gone away.

This month I get to experience another first, seeing the publication of my first ever Harlequin Intrigue. I've been writing for another publisher, Kensington, for years, but this is a whole new game for me.



When I started writing for Intrigue a friend said: “Well, they're short. How hard can they be to write?” I have an answer now: hard. Packing suspense and romance into 55,000 words is not an easy task, and I decided to make my road a little tougher by injuring my hero in the first chapter. Yes, you read that right. Shot him. Made it so that rescuing the heroine was not an easy task, which is good because his heroine is the type of lady perfectly capable of rescuing herself.

Well, that's not to say she a superhero or something. She's not. In fact, she' pretty much caused the trouble she's in. Years before she left our hero Luke to marry another man. Wrong pick by Claire. Have I mentioned how cute and strong and wonderful Luke is? I'm my head he looks a little like Eric Bana but on the cover he looks more like David Boreanaz – and I'm fine with that. See what I mean? Bad pick there by Claire. She had her reasons but that doesn't change the fact she's in a mess. She's accused of killing the husband she picked over Luke and now she needs Luke to clear her name.

Now, I worried about writing Claire. She's made some bad choices (obviously the Luke thing being one of them). She's pretty imperfect. She let emotion and fear drive her. She pushed Luke away rather than fight for him. And let me go ahead and remind you how adorable Luke is. Oh, he's not perfect either. Far from it. But he's the guy you'd want on your side in a fight, injured and all. Still, Claire is human. She stumbles. For me, that's different from a heroine you want to shake all the time because you think she's an idiot.

What about you guys? Is there a line between TSTL and realistic for heroines? Are there things you'd accept a hero doing that might be sort of dumb, but you can't tolerate in a heroine? Can you forgive poor Claire for pushing Luke away if she had her reasons?



HelenKay's Intigue debut, Under The Gun, is available now. For more about her lovely self and her other works, check out her website.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Must Watch Friday - Glee




Today, Fiona Harper tells us why she's skipping around humming and fantasing about going to an American high school.

I have a new addiction. Glee. And, no, I don’t mean that I’m walking around all day with a cheesy smile on my face; I’m talking about the TV programme of the same name.

We don’t have Glee clubs in the UK. School choirs, yes, but not Glee clubs. I’m not sure I’ve worked out what the difference is, except there seems to be more dancing and costumes involved with a Glee club. And lots more drama! The stigma, however, remains the same. According to Sue, their deliciously vicious PE teacher, these kids are the lowest of the low – if the popular kids are the penthouse, the Glee kids are sub-basement.

Anyway, I love a bit of OTT TV and Glee is certainly that – boys and girls bursting into song at any given opportunity, lots of bright colours, teachers that I thank heaven never taught at my school, and a bunch of cheerleaders who never seem to wear anything but their teeny-tiny uniforms.

On the romance side, there’s some definite chemistry between Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Finn (Cory Monteith), but he’s dating head cheerleader Quinn (Dianna Argon) and, frankly, over-ambitious Rachel can be a tad scary at times. I’m not surprised Finn is hesitant, even if they are perfect leading lady and leading man material when they get together.

I love the dry, tongue-in-cheek humour, the totally outrageous storylines, and most of all the songs. I’ve always wanted to sing in a musical (yeah, like that is ever gonna happen!), but second best is living it vicariously through the cast of Glee. I just got the soundtrack CD for my birthday, so you’ll have to excuse me while I plug my iPod in, turn it up loud and sing into my hairbrush…



Fiona's next book, Housekeeper's Happily-Ever-After is an RT Book Reviews Top Pick for April! It's out now in the UK (as a 2-in-1 with Jessica Hart's new release, Oh-So-Sensible Secretary) and available in North America in April.

Ellie Bond tries to escape her past by taking a job as jet-setting Mark Wilder's housekeeper. But the accident that killed her husband and daughter have left scars, both inside and out, and she worries she'll never be able to leave the past behind and find true happiness.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday Reading - The Terror of the TBR Pile

Kate Walker talks about what she's reading - sort of. OK, she's talking about what she would be reading if only she could decide . . . .

What am I reading? Well, now that’s a difficult question.

If I’d been writing this blog last week, then the answer would have been . .. ‘I can’t tell you.’ You see, last week I was still working my way through the bundle of books I was sent to judge for the RWA’s RITA contest. That’s always interesting – 8 book randomly selected for me by someone at RWA headquarters and sent my way to be read and rated by March 9th. Sadly, this time I didn’t discover a new-to-me must-read author. But the reading’s done, and the judging and now my next book is my own choice.


And that’s where the panic sets in. Have you seen my TBR pile? No – don’t look – it’s totally out of control – it’s a TBR mountain. And it’s getting bigger every day. And the trouble is that when I look at it I get TBR paralysis. I mean – what do I want to read!

It’s not that I don’t have anything to read. Obviously, from what I’ve just said, I have plenty – too much to read. And that’s just it. There’s too much choice. In the film Amadeus, there is a moment that I’ve always loved where the character Emperor Joseph II explains why he doesn’t like a piece of music. Unable to come up with a real reason why, he simply declares ‘Too many notes!’ And that’s how I feel right now. Too many books!

It was actually a relief when I had to read the RITA books because then I just didn’t have any choice. It was these books – nothing else. They were the ones I had to read. Now I can choose again and I’m faced with . . . .well, too many books.

I have a selection of the most recent M&B Modern/ Harlequin Presents titles to read. But right now I’m fighting to finish my own latest story so I don’t want to influence myself – or, let’s be honest, read books that have been complete, accepted and bought when I’m still wrestling this darn Sicilian to a finish. There’s a wonderful selection of books that I was given for Christmas – yes – honest – Christmas. Life has been so hectic since then that I haven’t had a chance to open them and settle down with one. There’s a Diane Chamberlain in that pile – The Bay At Midnight – that is just calling to me but I know that if I open it, I’ll be lost – and the Sicilian won’t get his Happy Ever After.

Ditto with Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan. That combines two of my great interests – historical fiction and the Bronte sisters. It’s a fictional retelling of their life. And that one has been on the pile even longer than the Chamberlain. Jude signed it for me when we were in Haworth together, on a panel discussing romantic fiction . . .back in June last year!

Then there are the books that my friends and fellow writers send me, their own recent titles – Liz Fielding, Donna Alward, Kate Hardy, Julie Cohen - you know I mean you! And before I know it Michelle Reid and Anne McAllister will have new titles out too. I always ask, but no one ever sends along a vouched for the time it takes to read their books along with the lovely tempting brand new volumes in the parcel. More contributions for the TBR mountain . . . more choices for what to read next, more decisions I just can’t make!

Sarah Walters, Robert Goddard, Jodi Picoult . . . a biography of Billy Joel . . .Oh – help! - no – two biographies of Billy Joel. One I bought myself and one someone gave my – you guessed – for Christmas.
And, double help! – there’s even a couple of Stephen Wades in there. And you all, know who SW is don’t you? No? Well perhaps not because most of you know him as the Babe Magnet, aka my DH. He’s almost as bad as Scary Kate Hardy for producing books at an incredible pace. And I just can’t keep up.

And I know it’s just going to get worse. It’s the UK Mothers’ Day soon and The Offspring is bound to have found something great that he just knows I’d love to read – if I had time. Ditto with a birthday looming in May. And when I’ve dealt with the Sicilian (at last!) and packed him off to my oh so patient editor than I have one particular book that I have to reread as research for the next ‘special project’ series that I’ve been asked to write a novel for. And I can’t even tell you about that until I’ve written it.

Reread – REread! How can I reread something when I don’t even have time to READ what’s already on the pile on my bookshelves. (OK – I admit it – the pile(S) on my shelves . . . the shelves full on my shelves . . .) But at least I haven’t added anything to them lately. Not like the Babe Magnet who went with me to Wales when I was teaching at Fishguard last week and came back with 12 - twelve, count them – books to add to his collection. I haven’t bought anything new recently and . . Oh dear, of course, the New M&B Modern titles are out this week and there’s .. .

No! It has to stop! I ‘m not going to add anything to this pile until I’ve taken at least 3 books off it and read them. But which ones? I want to read them all – obviously – or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. . .

I know – if you remember, I have a system for picking the winners from my contests. I write all the names of the entrants on pieces of paper, spread them out on the floor, put a cat treat on top of each one – and let my cat Sid loose on the treats. The ones he eats first are the winners. I could do that with the books … Sid would love to help me choose. It would mean there would be an awful lot of treats!

And while he’s at it, he can help me pick a winner too. I’ll offer a copy of a signed book from my backlist to someone who comments on this post – tell me about your TBR pile. How big is it? What’s it got on it? How do you decide what to read next? And if Sid picks your name then I’ll send you your choice of title from my backlist. And you can add it to your TBR pile. It won’t lessen my TBR mountain but at least it will be one less book in my house!
Kate Walker's latest Presents release is The Konstantos Marriage Demand which was published in Mills & Boon Modern in January. It will be out on Presents EXTRA on March 16th. Romantic Times called this a ‘ terrifically well-paced and fiery romance’ with a ‘very rewarding conclusion,’ and chose it as one of their series romance Top Picks for March.
One of Kate’s earlier books, The Twelve Month Mistress is also featured in a brand- new ebook 'Bundle' - one of the Blogger Bundles now available on eharlequin.com. This is a special selection of favourite Presents authors chosen by We Write Romance.You can find out more about Kate and her books by visiting her web site or get the really up to date news on her blog.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Romancing The Muse

Welcome Lynne Marshall to this Writer's Wednesday with a fantastic post about the care and keeping of your muse!

DEFINITION OF MUSE: “The spirit that is thought to inspire a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.


Occasionally it takes something out of the ordinary to help cultivate the special relationship between you and that sometimes-elusive sprite within.

The following are a few tips for tickling your muse.

WALK THE MUSE

Get off your duff and drag the little muse with you.

It is a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good, which helps us create. Though endorphins don’t last that long and may be released just as easily by eating protein, having sex, or taking a shower, walking is a good way to pump up the volume, burn a few calories and reap the writer’s benefits.

When I take walks, I find my brain goes on alert. Fresh air, heat from the sun, the fragrance of spring or cut grass, anything and everything makes an acute impression on my senses. My muse hovers above delivering these gifts from nature straight to my olfactory center, onward to the sensation receptors of my skin, and the rods and cones of my special green photoreceptors beneath my tastefully waxed brows.

I share a panoramic view with my muse and I’m suddenly gushing with adjectives, similes, and adverbs (be sure to edit out those adverbs, and watch out for an overabundance of similes!). With a nod from my muse, I can finally fix the scene that proved to stump me the day before.

TALK TO THE MUSE

One major concern I have is the urge to talk to my muse in public. I fear I might find myself repeating aloud the hot dialogue between my hero and heroine as it makes itself known to me on my walks. I so don’t want to be known as the neighborhood nut, so I reserve my muse-talking for indoors. When my muse feels chatty, I smile appreciatively and make a beeline for the computer where I transfer all of my wonderful ideas onto the screen. The muse rewards me by sitting on my shoulder and whispering little sweet nothings into my ear, which I immediately type up and claim as my own.

Sometimes the muse speaks to me through music. There’s nothing more powerful than a Beethoven or Vivaldi Symphony to help write sweeping dramatic scenes. Or I’ll listen to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings then tap into my deep reservoirs of sadness and try putting it onto paper. I’ll play the theme from Bonanza or The Magnificent Seven and feel the stiff leather of a saddle as I ride into the make believe sunset. When I’m too pooped to percolate ideas, my muse will play Queen’s greatest hits and my energy level rises along with my blood pressure.

My muse slips Luther Vandross, Josh Groban, or Michael BublĂ© into the iPod to set the mood when it’s time to write that special love scene, and as their velvet voices croon, my hero and heroine light up the computer screen brighter than the aurora borealis.

Sometimes my purveyor of fresh ideas vanishes. I cajole, wheedle, and coax but the little brat refuses to materialize. That’s when I…

STALK THE MUSE

When all else fails, get aggressive. Corner your muse, put it in a jar, and talk tough.

“Now you listen here, Tinker Bell. You work for me! If I put you on the clock I expect you to throw me ideas faster than Frisbees in the park. You got that?”

Okay, so this method doesn’t always work, but, when in a jam, it’s worth a try isn’t it?

Like any good relationship, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your muse. Do whatever it takes to stimulate, activate and perpetuate the special kinship between you and that spirit of great notions that dwells within. Otherwise, you may wind up pitifully repeating the phrase on a ribbon I once bought in Atlanta, “Has anyone seen my muse?”

As luck would have it, I’ve now spent the last half hour staring at my empty computer screen. All my brain cells seem to have fizzled out. My muse is on the lam. I’ve just about given up writing anything more today, when my dog bounds into the room and pushes his pesky pooch face into my lap.

“You want to take a walk?” I ask.

He pants his affirmation.

You never know when your muse is talking, or what form it’s morphing into, so my advice? Look, listen, and leap into action.

I follow my dog’s lead. We head out the door for that walk. I sniff the sweet afternoon breeze, and my nerve synapses start sending impulses all over my brain. I glance at my dog, he looks adoringly up at me, and I can barely keep up with the ideas for that next story taking form in my brain…





Lynne’s current story is The Boss and Nurse Albright, HMB 3/10 UK and NA. It is the first of her unofficial Santa Barbara series for the Medical Romance line.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday Travels - Staycation!

With air travel growing more tedious by the day (no electronic devices an hour either side of the runway? Um...how do you get kids to hush without the DVD distraction?) many are opting to holiday closer to home. For Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke, a non-sleeping toddler makes this option a necessity!




Most of us live in some pretty great places...otherwise, we'd probably move. But the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living doesn't lend to spending enough time enjoying our hometown. How often do you visit those things you suggest to those coming to visit?

Because the diva refuses to sleep, Daddy refuses to take her to a hotel. Fair enough, really. But it means coming up with some different actvities for the upcoming spring break.

I've decided to take on the challenge, framing it like a local history course for my boys. We're going to take in a floating maritime museum, head to the museum of the Oregon territory, explore Fort Vancouver, and maybe, just maybe hike around Mt. St Helens. I'd like to make this a two day event, where we do the interpretive centers and a hike one day, and explore the lava tubes known as the Ape Caves the next. But, it depends on the diva...

The kids are interested in history - especially live reenactments - and I like getting a better sense of the local area. It's too easy to live in a place and never really know it. The better you know a place, the more vivid you can make it in your stories.


??What's everyone up to for Spring Break?? Are you heading to Disney? Taking off for warmer waters?


Jenna has a new ebook releasing next week. Pride & Passion comes complete with a hero used to getting what he wants, a heroine determined not to give in to him, some indecent proposals, a fair amount of pride, and enough passion to burn up everyone’s control.To find out what Jenna is up to ...check out her website & blog.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Male On Monday - Eric Bana

Today our regular columnist Annie West introduces a fantastic Aussie Male on Monday, Eric Bana.

I first remember seeing Eric Bana years ago (last century!) in an Australian comedy skit show called 'Full Frontal'. His straight faced, tongue in cheek portrayal of Aussie characters caught my eye. Here was a guy born to do comedy. I also remember his impersonations of Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course I didn't notice his looks. Honest! He worked as a stand up comedian as well as a barman before he started in television. Eventually he had his own comedy show and even won a Logie (Australian TV award) for most popular comedian.

But apparently he'd wanted to be an actor ever since seeing Mel Gibson in 'Mad Max' (young boys are so impressionable) and eventually he made it onto the big screen, where I'm sure some of you have seen him.

OK, time for a little background. Eric Bana was born in August 1968 in Melbourne to Eleanor and Ivan Banadinovich. His dad came from Croatia and his mum's family was German. For those of you thinking of vital statistics, apparently Eric's the small one in the family, coming in at only 6'3" (his brother is reputedly 6'8").

His first film role was in the Aussie cult comedy movie 'The Castle' in 1997. Soon after he was taking the lead in 'Chopper' about an infamous and violent underworld character called 'Chopper' Read. He's virtually unrecognisable after putting on a pile of weight for the role and changing his look completely. He won the Australian Film Industry's Best Actor award for that role and was voted Best Actor at the Stockholm Film Festival.
He was still appearing on Australian TV at this time.

In 2001 he had a role in 'Black Hawk Down' where he became friends with Orlando Bloom. He provided the voice for Anchor, the shark in 'Finding Nemo'. Then in 2003 he starred in 'The Hulk'. In 2004 he played Hector in 'Troy' (for which had had to learn to ride). Mentioning 'Troy' which gives me a good excuse to add another photo of Eric Bana without a shirt on and looking rather more appealing than he did in 'Chopper'. Perhaps we should just pause for a moment as we appreciate the joy of sword and sandal epics.

In 2005 he starred in Stephen Spielberg's 'Munich' with Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds and Geoffrey Rush. Since then there have been films such as 'Lucky You', 'Star Trek', 'The Other Boleyn Girl', 'Romulus, My Father' and most recently 'The Time Traveller's Wife'. I've included a picture here of him in the role of Romulus just to give a feel for the variety of those roles.

When he's not filming (he only makes a film a year and takes his family with him) Eric Bana lives in Australia. He enjoys participating in motor sport and is an Aussie Rules (football) fan. He's married to Rebecca Gleeson, daughter of a High Court judge and has two children.

He's quoted as saying: 'I love being at home, being with friends and family. I'm of European stock, brought up in Australia. I'm a passionate guy. I just love life.'

Sounds good to me!

Annie's currently looking for inspiration for her next story after having had her 12th book accepted by Harlequin (yay!).
In the meantime she's hoping readers will enjoy her current heroes: Rafiq, a sheikh with a fiancee he hadn't anticipated, in THE SHEIKH'S RANSOMED BRIDE, out this month in the UK in the anthology THE SHEIKH'S CINDERELLA and Alessandro, a powerful Italian tycoon who discovers there's more to his past than he expected in FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD.