Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wild Card Weekend - Lyn Cote

Oooh, just what we need here at the PHS on a cold early December Saturday!  Please welcome Lyn Cote with a great comfort food recipe!

Lyn Cote here-I live in the northwoods of Wisconsin in a cottage on a lake. The ice has covered the narrow channel outside my window and is working its way over the larger bays of the lake. When the ice appears, I think comfort food. Here's my family's favorite recipe. Hope you like it too.


Lyn Cote's Baked Macaroni

I adapted this recipe from my 1940 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I've cut the fat content from the original and changed to whole wheat macaroni to up the fiber. So you can indulge with this recipe, knowing that it's healthy!

1 lb. whole wheat macaroni

****
White sauce:

6 Tb butter or margarine

¾ c. flour

5 c. skim milk

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

*****

1 lb grated cheddar cheese

1 c. bread crumbs

Cook macaroni, drain and put into greased, deep casserole dish or bowl. Make the white sauce and take pan off heat (to keep the cheese from becoming stringy). Add 2/3rd's of the grated cheese. Stir till melted. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs over top. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. May serve as side dish or main course.

Drop by http://www.lyncote.com/  or http://strongwomenbravestories.blogspot.com/  to learn more about Lyn Cote's literary concoctions!

BTW, my latest Love Inspired Historical romance, Her Healing Ways, comes out this week. I think it's one of the best stories I've written. Here's the blurb:

Unconventional. Unafraid. Unwelcome. A female physician with an adopted black daughter? The townsfolk of Idaho Bend will never accept Dr. Mercy Gabriel—even when faced with a deadly cholera epidemic. But all Mercy needs is one man willing to listen…and to trust.


Four years of war command turned Lon Mackey into a footloose gambler who can't abide attachments. Yet he can't help getting riled by the threats Mercy keeps receiving. Her trailblazing courage could reignite his faith and humanity. And his loyalty could make her dream—for the first time—of a family of her own….

This book is the final in my "Gabriel Sisters" series about three Quaker sisters: In the wake of the Civil War, three women combat injustice and find true love

Hope you'll remember it when buying Christmas presents. It's a story appropriate for a teen and great-grandmother and all the ages in between. Hope you have a lovely holiday season!—Lyn Cote

Friday, December 03, 2010

Must-Watch Friday - Trashy TV



We all have out guilty pleasures. Today Fiona Harper confesses to those that involve being draped over the sofa with a glass of white wine and some chocolate.


We've all watched them, haven't we? Reality shows and soap operas, talent contests and bad movies, but now and again a girl needs her trashy telly, and I have a theory as to why:

Recently, I watched a DVD of a marriage seminar by
Mark Gungor, and he had some interesting (and very funny) things to say about men's brains and women's brains and the different ways they work. You can have a peek, if you like:



Apparently, men think in compartments. Their brains are made up of boxes, all containing just one subject, and when they want to discuss a subject, they take the box out, talk only about what is in that box, and then they carefully put it back, before they take out the next one.

Now, this may not come as a surprise to those of you who are married, but men also have a box with nothing in it. When they need to unwind, they retreat into that box. Ever seen a man flick mindlessly through the TV channels, never stopping on anything for more than a few seconds, a blank look on his face? Yep. He's in his nothing box. It's his way of unwinding.

Us girls are wired completely differently! Our brain is more like a big ball of wire. Everything is connected to everything. We like thinking about how things are related to each other. And this is where I think so-called "trashy" TV comes in.

Personally, I have a few reality shows I really enjoy. I tend to like the ones where people are competing for something or learning new skills. I like to see who surprises me, who disappoints me, who falls apart at the first hurdle and who digs deep and shows inner grit. Most of all I like watching the contestants relate to each other. I get involved in their battles and shout back at the TV. I cheer them on when they do well and sniff when my favourites fail.

I like giving my opinions and setting the world to rights as I watch my trashy TV. I'm watching relationships - but they're not my relationships, so that makes them non-draining. I'm watching drama and conflict - but it's not my drama and conflict, and sometimes it's nice to stand back from an objective distance and work out the solutions for other people rather than struggle to find my own.
Every day life can often be draining and demanding, but at the end of one of my trashy TV shows, I can turn the TV off and walk away, a sense of peace and well-being at having put the world to rights - at least the little square world that lives in the corner of my sitting room.


Fiona's award-winning debut novel, Blind-Date Marriage, is being re-released as part of the anthology, Blind-Dates and Other Disasters, in the UK in January 2011!

All Serendipity Dove wants is a little normality in her unconventional life, and a nice husband to provide her with two-point-four children sounds like the perfect antidote! So she goes on a blind date and meets Jake, who ticks all the right boxes - especially the one labelled 'chemistry'.
However, she's too busy falling in love to notice that, way down in the small print, the 'ready for commitment' box is glaringly empty...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

THURSDAY TALK-TIME : Making A List And Checking It Twice by Lynne Marshall

Lynne Marshall is revising her holiday lists with Thursday Talk-time...


It’s that time of year again – time to make a list! Who can survive the holidays without those pesky reminders of what to do, where to be, what to buy, and which ingredients to use? Not me!


It begins around U.S. Thanksgiving. The ads appear, reminding me that Uncle Leo can’t live without that new aftershave, and Nana should get signed up for that service in case she falls. The sexy man in evening tux informs me that without that huge rock of a diamond, I’ll never know if my husband truly loves me or not, and the same for hubby if I overlook that ridiculously large flat screen TV.


Then the decorations pop up all over town. I frantically search for my note pad and begin to scribble down my plans. Get the tree-trimming boxes out of the attic, set up the Advent calendar, call so-and-so about the wreaths, say yes to that holiday luncheon, remember to drop by the Christmas boutique, buy holiday cards and don’t forget the tree, pick up dinner!



And speaking of dinner, the Christmas dinner list is long and daunting: Who to invite; what to serve – turkey or prime rib? Why not both? Side dishes 1-5. Desserts, at least two, why not three? Oh, jot this down – since it becomes first on the New Years list – find out how much it costs to join the gym!


Now, on to the “gifts for the family” list. Collect immediate and extended family sizes, favorite colors, likes and dislikes. If only I’d kept the list from last year! Try not to get confused about whether Emily likes knit scarves and Gina hates them, or is that vice versa? And if I ask either of them to clarify, they’ll know what I have in mind, which will take all the fun out of buying it for them. OK, make a list of who to ask to surreptitiously find out which is which. Have a back up list, in case I was dead wrong about who likes what. Make a techie list in the event no one wants traditional gifts this year. Buy all new wrapping paper! Start a list on potential part time jobs in 2011 to help pay for the Christmas shopping sprees.


Does any of this ring a bell for the rest of you? I thought it might. To offset this crazy time of year, maybe I should chuck all those other lists and start one more that begins:


1. Take time to smell the pine trees.

2. Enjoy the music of the season.

3. Be sure to tell the people I love how special they are.

4. Simple acts of kindness touch people’s hearts.

5. Spend more time with family and friends.

6. Visit someone who doesn’t have relatives nearby.

7. Remember the reason for the season.

8. Don’t forget it’s the little things that mean the most.

9. Slow down!

This one is a hangover from Thanksgiving

10. Don’t forget to be grateful for my many blessings.



Hey, here’s one last list I’d love you to help me make: A list of movies to watch this holiday season. I have a few in mind, but I’d love to add more. Share your top three Christmas-themed movies for a chance to win my current release – The Christmas Baby Bump.


And the last item on my list today is to wish you, one and all, a joyous holiday season! May you spend it in good health, surrounded by those you love.


Sincerely,

Lynne Marshall




















Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WRITER'S WEDNESDAY: Finding the Twist by Tawny Weber

Tawny Weber joins Pink Heart Society to talk about twists and ties and how she built her latest Blaze...

One of the things I love most about this time of year is cuddling up on the couch with my girls, a roaring fire blazing and the TV tuned to one of our favorite holiday movies.


So when I was given a chance to write a Christmas novella for Blaze’s MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE anthology, I wanted to tie in one of my favorite holiday stories. After much consideration (okay, so really it was only a few seconds because it’s the first idea that occurred to me and I giggled a lot) I decided to go with that poor, maligned outcast from Rudoph’s story –the Island of Misfit Toys. A BABE IN TOYLAND features Rita Mae Cole, a heroine in a cash crunch at the holidays. To make enough money to buy a special gift, she takes a gift from her roommate... a box of misfit toys she can sell at a discount. Sex toys, that is.


I think one of the most intriguing things writers do is take something they know, and give it the right twist to fit where they want to go. For me, because I write Blaze my stories need that sexy hook. And the hook had to tie in with the holiday, and provide a solid foundation for the story.


That’s the fun of twists, isn’t it? Finding a hook, a platform of sorts, to build the story around. I’ve talked to a number of authors who use fairy tale twists, such as Beauty and the Beast, The Ugly Duckling and Cinderella to weave through their story.


How about you? Do you have a favorite twist in books? If you write, what is the most recent hook you used? And as a reader, do you recognize a twist when you read it and does that appeal to you?


And how did my hook work? Here’s a little excerpt from A BABE IN TOYLAND:


“So what is it? A new toy?” Rita asked her roommate, peeking out the window.

Not that she was anxious or anything. Tyler Ramsey was a first-class jerk, albeit one helluva gorgeous first-class jerk. But gorgeous didn’t matter because he was just a means to an end. Plan C.


She pressed her hand to her belly to settle the dancing nerves. Just because he’d knocked her on her ass with those magic lips of his didn’t mean she was itching to see him again. She hadn’t even put makeup on, proof positive that she wasn’t looking to make an impression.

If he showed up, that was. Which he probably wouldn’t.

“More like toys,” Shawn said, pulling Rita’s attention back to the mystery box with a gesture to open it.

Rita tugged up the flaps, then frowned. She shook the box, staring at the colorful array of vibrators, cock-rings and god knew what else as they tumbled together. Mouth dragging the floor, she gave her roommate a shocked stare.

“What the...?”

Shawn poked her fingernail at a neon green rubber dildo. “They’re discontinued toys. Last year’s models, overstocks, a few rejects. There’s a product guide in there I printed with all their names, features, retail price. Should be all you need.”

Rita goggled, actually goggled. What the hell?

Her gaze bounced from Shawn’s sleepy face to the box of misfit sex toys. “I’m out of a job, homeless and heading to my parents’ for some holiday humiliation. And you’re giving me... the promise of satisfaction?” She glanced at the tightly packed box again and added, “Over and over again?”


Shawn smirked. “If that’s how you want it, sure. I figured you could, you know, sell them. Like they do at those toy parties and stuff? These are free and clear,” she assured Rita. Shawn owned an adult bookstore and while she was a strong supporter of all things kink, she’d never do anything illegal.

“Look, if you won’t take it as a present, take it as an apology.” Shawn stuffed her hands in her robe pockets and hunched her shoulders. “I hate that I can’t hold the room for you. It’s bad enough you’re out a job, but...”

“You need to make rent,” Rita dismissed, not wanting to add to Shawn’s guilt. “And I appreciate the idea, I really do—”

“Don’t refuse,” Shawn interrupted. “Just, you know, think about it. If you decide the idea sucks, you can dump the boxes on the side of the road.”

Rita snickered, not sure which amused her more. The image of some random traveler finding a box of neon dildos. Or the idea of heading home with the hunkiest man she’d ever lusted after, carrying her own arsenal of sex toys.


Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course). In December 2010, her ninth Blaze, A BABE IN TOYLAND hits the bookshelves. Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pink Heart Picks - Pleasure for Two

This month's pick was Pleasure for Two by Pamela Yaye from the Kimani Romance line.

From the back cover: Still stung from her ex-husband's betrayal, Dominique King has vowed never again to let a man play her for a fool. But everything changes the night she meets flat-out gorgeous Marcel Benoit. With one smoldering glance and that sexy accent…Dominique's hooked. And for the first time in her life, she's letting passion rule her heart—and loving it!


From the moment he opens the door to Dominique, Marcel knows he has to have her. The ambitious Ph.D. student may be new to the U.S., but that doesn't stop him from pursuing the stunning, sassy banker. Sharing kisses on a sun-drenched tropical beach, Marcel and Dominique's dream of love is almost within reach. But long-held secrets threaten to darken their paradise. Unless they can learn to trust in themselves…and in each other….


How many of you read this book - or have read any of the Kimani line? I'll confess that this is my first Kimani, and I had our interview with Kimani editor Kelli Martin on my mind as I was reading. I remember Kelli saying that Kimani romances are AA romances but also with a universality that would make them stories for any reader. With the exception of a few cultural slang words, she was absolutely right. :-)

This book is part of the Kimani Hotties series and it really was hot! Not just the sex scenes - which were smokin' - but the language itself is very sensual. What you have here is high stakes fantasy - sizzling attraction, glamorous lifestyles. Marcel is a grad student but on his way to a prestigious career. Dominique is a successful single woman with great taste - at times a bit too expensive, but that's remedied by the end. If you like your romances to whisk you away to that glam world, then this will fit the bill.

Dominique has a fair bit of growing to do over the course of the story, but Marcel is honest and trustworthy and willing to do the work. Granted he makes a few errors in judgment but his heart is in the right place. It's only a matter of time before Dominique gives in and lets herself trust him for the HEA.

Now it's your turn - please feel free to post in the comments section. Did you read the book? Have you read any of Yaye's other titles, or do you read in the Kimani line? If you haven't, what's been holding you back?

Now on to our last pick of the year.....

The Pink Heart Picks selection for December is actually going to kick off a new approach we're taking for the new year. Each book is still going to be a category romance - after all that's what the PHS is all about! But in 2011 you all are going to help me Tackle The TBR.

I know you've got one. A stack of books or list on your ereader that you haven't gotten around to reading yet. I have SCADS. So each month I'm going to pick one and give you the heads up. Maybe it's on your tbr too - or maybe it'll sound good and you'll look for the e-book (I promise the backlist doesn't go THAT far back, e-books should definitely be available, and I'll provide links). Maybe you've read other books by the same author, or within the same line. Most of all I just want us to chat!


SO, to kick off the Tackle My TBR year, I'm starting with a book that's been sitting on my shelf - waiting for Christmas to roll around. It's Raeanne Thayne's THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

I'll be posting my review on December 28. If you've read it, stop by and give me your thoughts! And if you'd like to join me, you can buy it as an e-book at eharlequin, or here for kindle.

Monday, November 29, 2010

MALE ON MONDAY : Harrison Ford

Fiona Lowe joins us today with a Male On Monday look at Harrison Ford.

I may well be carbon-dating myself but today’s Male on Monday is Harrison Ford. I was at high school when Star Wars was released and the story itself didn’t do much for me but the moment Hans Solo strode onto screen, I was hooked. The fact he even won that part that went on to launch a very successful movie career is serendipity.

According to Wikipedia, he’d had little success with a film career and became a self-taught carpenter to support his wife and young family. Up and coming film director, George Lucas, hired him to build cabinets for his office and I guess they chatted and he auditioned for the Luke Skywalker role. Lucas, cast him as Hans Solo, Star Wars went on to became the second highest grossing movie of all time in the United States, and it established Harrison Ford as a superstar. This meant I got to see him in a heap more movies. Thank you, George!!

I can’t remember much about Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark but I can remember Harrison; tight pants, tipped hat, wickedly dancing eyes and holding a whip. Oh, yeah! He took charge, took risks, and I was with him every step of the way.

A few years later and I was married and DH and I went to see Witness. For DH and I, this became the perfect movie because as much as I was lusting after Harrison Ford, DH was equally lusting after Kelly McGillis ;-) The dance scene in the barn is one of the most sexually charged scenes on screen and both people are fully clothed with no hip thrusting to be seen. The perfect example of less is more and it’s all about the emotion. Love it!

And then there was Working Girl. Harrison had got a little older but that twinkle in his eye remained. I loved how they wrote his chin scar into the script! And just as an aside, OMG how big did we wear hair in the ‘80s!! LOL.

Again, Wikipedia says that many of Ford's major film roles came to him by default through unusual circumstances. He won the role of Han Solo while reading lines for other actors, was cast as Indiana Jones because Tom Selleck was not available, and he took the role of Jack Ryan due to Alec Baldwin demanding too much money.

Of course Harrison’s career has continued and I have become a fickle fan as suspense/action films are not really me, so many of you would have enjoyed him in Patriot Games whereas I had to wait for the remake of Sabrina.

Do you have a favorite Harrison moment?


Fiona Lowe writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon Medical Romance and her latest release, just in time for Christmas is, The Most Magical Gift of All. Sophie and Jack had definite plans for Christmas but the universe didn’t agree! Fiona’s very excited to say she just sold her debut Single Title Romance to Carina Press, the digital arm of Harlequin, with a release date mid 2011