Saturday, February 12, 2011

WILD CARD WEEKEND: The Name Game

Beth Cornelison joins WILD CARD WEEKEND to talk about the name game and her latest instalment in the Bancroft Brides books...

Happy February!

As I write this a massive cold front is bearing down on my part of the country...which means the rest of the nation is in deep freeze as well! What better time to snuggle up with a hot romance and leave Jack Frost to his devices?

This month marks the release of the third Bancroft Brides book, youngest sister Zoey's story. THE PRODIGAL BRIDE finds Zoey in a heap of trouble, and who else but her best friend Gage swoops in to save the day. I love a friends turned lovers story and Zoey, with all her quirkiness and energy and unpredictability was a blast to write.

A reader once asked me how I come up with names for my characters, so today I wanted to talk about how I named the Bancroft sisters.

I'll be honest, I don't always have a method or purpose behind my character's names other than finding names that sound good to me and seem to fit the characters when I start writing. But I decided I needed to be more intentional in choosing the names for the Bancroft sisters. Eldest sister Paige, as you may remember, was marrying a man she didn't love because she thought she was doing right by her father, the family business and fulfilling her duty. The name Paige means...a page, as in someone who is an attendant to another or a youth in training for knighthood. The meaning of her name echoed her feelings about her role in the family. She started off with a different name and it soon became clear it needed to be changed. What name was that? I can't even remember...that's how wrong the name was for her!

Holly, the middle sister, was born at Christmas time and loves all things Christmas. Her name, Holly Noel, brings to mind images of Christmas decor and celebrations. This was her name from the day I created her story many years ago and I never wavered from it.

Zoey's name means life. What better name for the youngest sister who loves to grab life by both hands and take a big bite? She's exuberant, emotional, daring...and totally lost. I wanted a name for her that captured all her color and drama. I loved the hard Zoey sound in her name. It reminds me of words like zip, zeal, zowie, zap... all words that crackle with energy.

So there you have it. The meaning and reasons behind the names of the Bancroft Brides. I hope you'll enjoy Zoey's story and much as I enjoyed writing it!

Have a great day and stay warm!!

Beth Cornelison- bcornelison@comcast.net

REYN'S REDEMPTION- January 2011-Samhain

THE PRODIGAL BRIDE- February 2011-SRS

SPECIAL OPS BODYGUARD- August 2011- SRS

bethcornelison.com or Join me on Facebook!









Friday, February 11, 2011

Must-Watch Friday: Tangled

Riva/Presents Extra author Heidi Rice has a ball at the new Disney animation Tangled... A re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale with a fabulously modern romantic twist and seriously gorgeous hair action.


Now, you all know I'm a sucker for a good cartoon. I'm a bona fide Pixar stalker and I've also got a huge soft spot for some of Disney's recent 2-D animation, so I was kind of expecting to enjoy Tangled, Disney's new version of Rapunzel.... What I hadn't expected though, not being a huge fan of traditional girl-meets-her-prince charming fairytales (I know, how can I call myself a romance author!!) was to absolutely love it. But I did.

Why? Well apart from the fact that there's oodles of gob-smackingly spectacular computer animation (which somehow they've managed to give the magical quality of their drawn-animation of old), a rip-roaring script with enough action, comedy and romance to keep six-to-sixty-year-olds on the edge of their seat and Disney's usual attention to the details of great storytelling, what I really enjoyed about this movie were the characters. Particularly their cute and kooky Rapunzel who despite being walled up in a tower for most of her life and having seriously unwieldy hair is surprisingly feisty (and is a dab hand with a frying pan). And I also adored her hero, who's not a Prince Charming at all, but a roguish thief called Flynn Rider (well, actually that's not his real name, but by the time you find out what his real name is — and it isn't all that heroic — you'll love him so much you won't care) who happens upon Rapunzel's tower while on the run, climbs up to stash his stolen goods and ends up getting bashed on the head with a frying pan, shoved in a cupboard and eventually bound to a chair with Rapunzel's mile long tresses and thrown out the window!

As romance authors and readers, we all know that in the end the success of a story is all about its characters — and these two are so vividly drawn (and I mean that metaphorically as well as physically) that you'll be rooting for them both right from the start of the picture. Best of all, this is definitely not a love at first sight story....

See, this is what I think I didn't like about the Disney versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the animation is beautiful, the story sweet and the characters about as three-dimensional as their drawings. Their love affairs are far too perfunctory. She sees the Prince and suddenly she's in love. See what I mean, no character development, no real conflict (except of the 'my carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin if I don't get a move on' variety).

With Rapunzel and Flynn, it's not love at first sight, it's extreme irritation (complete with frying pan battery and hair bondage). These two have to work at their relationship and discover things about each other that aren't always simple and straightforward or easy to solve. Rapunzel is a girl who is so innocent she is in many ways a child, and she's on a very fast learning curve about life (and men) when she jumps out of that tower with a bad boy like Flynn at her side. While Flynn is a hero with.... (drum role please)... back story. He has issues (not to mention a very good smoulder). And the moment in a forest glade — after they have survived a spectacular near-death action scene involving flooding caves, bursting dams and an army of mightily irritated armed guards — when Flynn reveals not only his real name but the fact that he has reinvented himself as a charming rogue to bury the vulnerable orphan he was as a child is both sweet and heartbreaking and... well, this bona fide romantic had a little tear in her eye and her teenage sons weren't groaning loudly and squirming in their seats, so the directors obviously got the tone just right!



By the time our two leads get to the King and Queen's castle to fulfill Rapunzel's dream of seeing the floating lanterns that are released every year (in memory of her disappearance, unbenownst to her), she has a new dream and he's sitting right across from her in their little row boat having discovered that not everyone in life needs to be conned or charmed. That people can have genuine emotions, and so can he.

That was a big Ahhh moment... Greatly aided by some really breathtaking animation (which was frankly awe-inspiring in 3-D as the millions of lanterns float past your nose).

I'm not going to give the game away after that, but suffice it to say there's a Black Moment and a triumphant, suitably heroic resolution scene that any great romantic novel would be proud of.

I give you Tangled, a new version of an old fairytale with enough heart and soul (and really amazing hair action) to see it through to the next millennium.

And BTW, I saw the movie at a preview in the London IMAX attended by the two directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard... Who were almost as cute as their film! I'm adding a little piccie of them looking dashing in their tuxes, so don't say I never give you nothing.

Heidi is currently working on (or rather being driven round the bend by) her next Riva. Her newest Presents Extra, Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger, is out in the US in April and if you live in the UK and want a free Riva'd up copy you can pop over to www.datemillsandboon.com and they'll post you one. If not you can download at ebook of The Walk of Fame. Her next Riva, Cupcakes and Killer Heels, is out in the UK in May. Come have a natter on Facebook, her blog or through her website....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Are You Reading Thursday :: The Scandal Series!

Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke is hooked! After attending a book launch party like a total fan girl, she devoured one book...and then the next...and the next!

Isn't reading the best thing? To escape into other worlds and times, experience a range of emotions, and when reading romance you can trust that the characters you've come to love will wind up with their happy ending. It's fabulous!

My current reading love is the Scandal Series by Delilah Marvelle. I don't read a lot of historical romance, but I will if I get a few reccomendations. These are not your grandmother's historicals! In the first book, Prelude to a Scandal, the hero is struggling to overcome sex addiction. It made me wonder if many men of the time who were known as rakes might actually be struggling with sex addiction. It also talks about the politics of homosexuality at the time. Domestic abuse, the rights of women...it was as if a door was opened into parts of a world usually kept closed and bolted.

The stories aren't connected by characters, but a guide for women all the heroine's have titled How To Avoid A Scandal. Ettiquite books were quite prevalent at the time, usually written by men.

January brought the next installment, Once Upon a Scandal. Encompassing England and Venice, young lovers declare their devotion, and are then separated by a gulf of geography, scandal and shame. Again, this story doesn't detour from troubling topics. From syphilis to forced marriage, Venetian politics to the differences between a Cavaliere Servante and cicisbeo. At once deeply romantic and completely heartbreaking.

The final story in the trilogy, The Perfect Scandal releases on Tuesday. (I know what I'm getting myself for Valentine's Day!) I can't wait to find out what is in store for a romance dealing with Polish politics, secret heritiges, and the man who wrote the book that links the stories together, How To Avoid A Scandal.



Jenna Bayley-Burke is a best-selling author recently featured on Good Morning America. Kinda. Compromising Positions made the best seller list for Kindle for a few weeks, and GMA did their daily top ten list of Kindle bestselling ebooks and Compromising Positions made the list. But doesn't it sound better the first way? Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Happy Endings

Columnist Annie West looks at that staple of romance writers everywhere - the happy ending.

We all know that one of the things romance novels of every type have in common is their happy ending. We expect it, anticipate it and enjoy it. Woe betide any writer who doesn't deliver! It mightn't be a surprise that hero and heroine end up together but that doesn't mean authors can get away with a slapdash effort where the hero declares his undying love and the heroine accepts him but the reader is given nothing more to explain how it is that the pair overcame all the obstacles in their path.

The ending is the pay off for readers. We've invested time and energy in seeing this pair through the trials and tribulations of their story. We've ridden that emotional rollercoaster for a whole book and now we want to be convinced that happily ever after is possible, not just possible but inevitable. That their love conquers all else, and that they truly will be happy together. We want to feel the emotion of that moment and if we don't...well we mightn't read too many more books by that author again! They say a great opening grabs the reader and sells the story. A satisfying ending will make the reader want to read the author's next book.

It's crucial that aspiring authors focus on getting their opening right. But without a great ending all the work that's gone before is for nothing. The fact is that terrific, sigh-worthy endings don't often just pop into a writer's head to be tossed off before their first cup of coffee for the day. They take work and planning. It's the writer's job to deliver that tried and true happy ending, but in a way that's unique to this hero and heroine, in a way that wraps up the story completely and makes the reader sigh or smile or dab a tear, but above all, makes the reader feel good about the whole reading experience.

Easy, eh? I wish. Here are a few of the things I've learned about happily ever afters, from being both a reader and writer. Hopefully some of you will be able to add a few more tips!

Don't rush! In your mind the story may be all over since, as the author, you know how all the problems have been resolved. However, this is a stage readers love to savour. The moment when, beyond all apparent hope, the dragons have been vanquished and H&H are committing to each other or at least allowing for the possibility of commitment. If there's a declaration of love and an acceptance and suddenly it's the end of the book, we're left wondering why that didn't happen 200 pages ago! The characters as well as the readers need to feel the significance of this moment.

So, don't just give us the words, show us the emotions as well. We want the characters to rejoice in their happy ending so we can too. Talking heads at this point rarely satisfy.

Tie up all the loose ends. There's nothing worse than finishing a book and then thinking 'Hey, wait a minute! What about...?'. Even if it means making a running sheet of all the points you need to cover in the last chapter or so, it's worth doing it. This ending needs to convince and for that to happen, all those threads need to tie together.

Which leads me to consistency. If you wrote the whole book on the basis of a conflict because of X (eg. hero's fear of blonde women, or his goal of saving his ancestral home, or heroine's determination never to marry a man who isn't called Ernest) then you can't expect the reader to accept a happy ending if that X factor isn't resolved. If we don't see and believe the hero accepting that a woman with red hair can be even more attractive, or see him change his name to Ernest to win the heroine, the obstruction that kept them apart still exists. It's no good airily saying, for the sake of convenience, that he/she sees this no longer matters. That would make a mockery of the story you've just written. If it still mattered to them a couple of chapters ago, we need to see and believe in the change in their perspective.

Similarly, if your hero has been laconic or even terse to the point of gruffness for the whole book, it's a bit much to expect he'll suddenly talk non stop for pages without breath, describing to the heroine how he fell for her. And, if he's one of those heroes who treats her badly earlier in the story, it's not enough for him to wave his hand and say that was because he was falling for her and resisting his emotions. Again, we need to see him come to that realisation and make amends. If he's going to grovel make it good, and don't think that a page of penitence at the end will excuse everything. Make him (and, for that matter, her) WORK for this happy ending.

Make sure the black moment that leads to the resolution of the story has real impact. Make the stakes high. This works best when characters must confront their worst fear or face a reality they've spent a lifetime avoiding. Their love should give them a new perspective. In my current book, PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE Tamsin faces the realisation she's been used by the hero, which taps into a lifetime's fears and ingrained beliefs about herself. Yet she can't just walk away, she must face the truth. For Alaric, his moment of truth places him in the worst of all positions where duty and love are pitted against each other with no easy solution. He faces a future that embodies everything he's spent his life avoiding because it evokes his darkest fears and his hidden weaknesses.

Sometimes an external event can help you get your characters to the sticking point to face their unresolved issues. But beware using too often the deus ex machina (the 'God in the Machine') where fate intervenes out of the blue with a convenient accident or crisis that has nothing to do with the love story. Yes, this can work wonderfully, and some terrific romances use this device. But it has to be managed carefully so it doesn't feel like the author is taking the easy way out. Better, if you can, to come up with a crisis that is in some way integral to the rest of the story.

This is the moment when your hero and heroine need to shine. Keep the focus on them. Some very skilled authors can write a final scene with a cast of hundreds in attendance, but for beginner writers in particular, make it easy on yourself and give H&H some time alone if you can to sort out their happy ever after.

What do you love best about romance endings? Have you got favorites? Do you have any other tips on how to get the all important ending right?


Annie's current story (out now in North America) is PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE, a Presents Extra release. You can order it from eHarlequin, Amazon or The Book Depository (free postage anywhere), or buy it in stores. To read an excerpt visit Annie's website. While there you can also read how she came to write the story, see pictures that inspired it or enter a contest to win free royal themed stories including PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

CRAFTY CORNER TUESDAY: Crafting Characters

Tawny Webber joins Crafty Corner Tuesday with a handcrafted giveaway and to talk about crafting characters with her Top Ten Archetypes

I’m super jazzed this week because I’m celebrating the release of my tenth book, BREAKING THE RULES! On top of that, I get to hang out here with the Pink Heart ladies, which is always a fun privilege J Since Tuesdays are about the craft of writing here, and I’m in full celebrational mode, I thought I’d combine the two and talk about Archetypes.

My favorite archetype book is THE COMPLETE WRITER’S GUIDE TO HEROES AND HEROINES: SIXTEEN MASTER ARCHETYPES by Coden/LaFever/Viders. It’s a fabulous reference. I will admit, I don’t tend to use it before I write in crafting my characters, but I do use it after they are written to get a stronger handle on them before I revise. Never yet has a character completely fit into a single archetype, but then, neither do we as people. But like us, the characters do tend to be predominantly this or that. Here are the Heroic archetypes mentioned in this book:

· The CHIEF

· The BAD BOY

· The BEST FRIEND

· The CHARMER

· The LOST SOUL

· The PROFESSOR

· The SWASHBUCKLER

· The WARRIOR

The roles are pretty self-explanatory, but I do really recommend taking a look at the book for the in-depth analysis and ideas it offers.

Using that list, I took a look at the heroes of my first ten books:

· Jesse Martinez in Double Dare: The PROFESSOR

· Dante Luciano in Does She Dare?: The BAD BOY

· Nick Angel in Risqué Business: The CHARMER

· Mitch Carter in Coming on Strong: The CHIEF

· Reece Carter in Going Down Hard: The WARRIOR

· Dexter Drake in Feels Like the First Time: The BEST FRIEND

· Sebastian Lane in You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs: The CHARMER

· Alex Maddow in Riding the Waves: The CHARMER (I was on the fence with this one)

· Tyler Ramsey in A Babe in Toyland: The BAD BOY

· Maximillian St. James in Breaking the Rules: The WARRIOR

This list actually surprised me, since I tend to gravitate toward Bad Boy heroes and would think that’s what I wrote the most.

Is there an archetype that you love to read? If you write, is there one that you tend to write more than others? If so, is it the one you love to read? What do you think of using archetypes?

To celebrate the release of BREAKING THE RULES, I’m giving away some Valentine’s treats to one lucky commenter today! A hand-crafted (by me) heart-shaped tin filled with candy, and a book of the winner’s choice from my backlist!

Be sure and check out my upcoming party!

Valentines Party!

I’m so excited that my tenth release, BREAKING THE RULES, is on shelves now! I loved writing this story, because it focuses on something near and dear to my heart – a Military Hero (my own hero-hubby was in the Army). Even more fun was making this a Valentine’s story, complete with hearts and flowers.

To celebrate, I’m having an invitation-only Valentine’s Day Party! Including:

© A downloadable short story written just for this party as a door prize for everyone who attends

© A sexy Top Ten to wind up my Top Ten tour: Ten Tips for a Hot Valentine’s Night

© One lucky person will win a Valentine’s Basket!

All you have to do to join the fun is go to the Breaking the Rules Valentines Party page on my website, and let me know you’d like an invitation!

BREAKING THE RULES:

What do you get when you mix a military hero on a mission with an independent artist hell-bent on proving something? A battle that can only be won between the sheets.

Sophia Castillo is finally calling the shots in her life, and she’s determined to stay in charge. The last thing she needs is a babysitter. Not even a babysitter as sexy as US Army Sergeant

First Class and EOD Squad Leader, Maximillian St. James. But when someone is sabotaging her art gallery, she turns to Max for help. When he proves to be a challenge to her independence, she lays down their relationship rules. Hot sex, good times and a lot of laughs are all good. Anything involving their hearts is strictly off limits. Before they catch the vandal, Max and Sophia both have to decide just which rules they are willing to break, and how high a price they are willing to pay.

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). Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com







Monday, February 07, 2011

Male on Monday :: Feeling Lucky

Like most Monday mornings, Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke isn't feeling too lucky....so it's time for a pick-me up. Let's get Lucky! Lucky Vanous that is...


Lucky entered the naughty minds of women everywhere by appearing sweaty and shirtless in Diet Coke commercials. Aside from making us swoon with his rugged good looks, Lucky has a resume perfect for any romance hero.


* He was given the name Lucky by his father, who loved to gamble.

* At 6'4" and disarmingly handsome, he's the romance novel ideal.

* Former Army Ranger and member of the Black Beret demolition squad.

* After the Army he earned his business degree...and started modeling. He spent five years modeling and traveling, exploring the world.

* He's divorced, but "I'm one of those guys who needs a good woman in his life," Vanous says. And that's not all. "I want kids so bad, it's a problem."

* Plus he loves animals - he has a parrot, Zeke, a dog, Taz, and a Clydesdale...that he uses with kids from the Best Buddies program for mentally challenged kids

* He now owns his own restaurant, Lucky Devil



Lucky has everything a romance lover needs - complicated backstory, a compassionate soul, a drive to succeed...and let's face it. We'renot going to kick him out of bead for eating cookies.




Hope you enjoyed you weekly shot of Monday morning hunkiness! Happy week!!

Jenna Bayley-Burke is a best-selling author recently featured on Good Morning America. Kinda. Compromising Positions made the best seller list for Kindle for a few weeks, and GMA did their daily top ten list of Kindle bestselling ebooks and Compromising Positions made the list. But doesn't it sound better the first way? Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.