Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Made In Dagenham

PHS Editor Michelle Styles explains why everyone should make the effort and see Made in Dagenham.
Made in Dagenham is an uplifting feel-good film about the struggle for equal pay in the UK in the late 1960s.

Unlike in the US, thanks in large part to the efforts of the machinists at the Ford Factory in Dagenham, the UK has an equal pay law.
The film is a Must Watch film for anyone who interested in women's rights and how women can make a difference or who simply likes good entertainment. Bob Hoskins as the shop steward who inspires the women to fight because his mother was widowed and paid 40% of a man's wage shows why he is a National Treasure. Miranda Richardson does a star as Barbara Castle who in an age before Margaret Thatcher showed that women did have nerves of steel.  Sally Hawkins is great as the reluctant leader of the women but I really enjoyed Rusamund Pike who played the wife of the Ford UK boss and who despite her Cambridge University History degree was forced to serve canapes and be treated with derision by the Ford US boss... As she said to the Sally Hawkins character, sometimes you want to see history being made. It was the casual male chauvnistic attitudes that really showed how far women had come. Neither the Union bosses nor the Ford executives come off well. The film does point out at the end, that Ford is now a very good employer for women and a strong supporter of equality.
It is SO easy to forget the patronising attitudes that were present in the 1960s. I can remember the story of my father getting a promotion where my parents both happened to work at the time, and my father being paid 50 cents more than my mother so that he could say he was the breadwinner.
And it was good to see emphasis on some of the later struggles as too often people forget that there was more at stake rather than votes for women or women getting into the professions. It is important.

The film makes the point that people should be paid based on the job they do, not on what sex they happen to be born.
Oh and the music really captures the era and is great to listen to. So if you haven't seen it (I don't know if it has been out in the US yet) do try to.

Michelle Styles writes historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Her latest books was repleased in March 2011 -- Breaking the Governess's Rules and her next book comes out in the UK in July 2011 To Marry A Matchmaker
You can read more about Michelle's books on her website

Friday, April 22, 2011

Must Watch Friday: Gearing up for Summer Viewing

PHS editor Donna Alward looks ahead to the summer months and what shows she'll be watching when "regular" seasons end...

I claim I don't watch a lot of TV, and then I end up saying "did you watch this?" over and over again. I guess the truth is, I don't watch a lot of network, regular weekly programming. And I've gone gaga over Netflix, where I can watch entire seasons back to back. For example, this winter I've watched seasons 1-7 of MI5 (Spooks). It's been BLISS. My regular programming is 3 shows a week: Castle, NCIS and NCIS LA. That's it. Every now and then I'll grab an episode of Big Bang Theory (hilarious!) and Hot in Cleveland (Oh Betty White, you slay me!). But it's the three shows that are set up on my DVR.

So what happens in May, when season finales hit? I look at On Demand, get caught up on what's been on or...look forward to those series that are actually IN season during the OFF season.

Here's what I'm looking forward to this summer:

HUNG. Thomas Jane and 30 min episodes. Love it. It makes me laugh. I have to admit Tonya drives me insane, but I keep watching anyway. I've heard it described as "awkward", and "touching and sweet" and I'd agree with that 100%.

TRUE BLOOD. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder. BUT there are things to consider. Like Eric. And Alcide. And how weird it is. It's a blast. God, he is SO rockin' the plaid.

SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA. We've watched the first episode, but it's been so busy we haven't watched more. It's good - I mean there's no Andy Whitfield or I would have watched it all a couple of times by now. So we're planning on watching the rest of the episodes over the summer.

CALIFORNICATION. We watched the first few epis of this season, and haven't watched the rest. I know we will, but I wasn't dying to see the next episode. Part of it is because Hank's growth arc is like...non existent. He's still pulling the same...ahem....and not learning anything. So four seasons in, I found it a bit same old and boring.

I'm guessing that'll pretty much hold us...and if I run out of that there's always SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL, DEADWOOD, and GAME OF THRONES.

What are you looking forward to watching?

Donna's newest release is HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER, out in May but available now at eharlequin and Mills and Boon Australia. In the meantime,  she's planning on losing herself in a few miniseries beginning this month - Upstairs Downstairs and The Kennedy's.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Library: Susan Meier

Susan Meiers asks the Pink heart Society what they’re reading…

Right now I’m finishing up the fourth book in the Nora Roberts Brides Quartet. This is my luck…I had waited until all four books were out before I began reading. Then, just when I finished book three, my RITA entries arrived! Ack! I had to put off reading Parker’s Story until I’d read my RITAs! Then, the book for the Daphne (the published contest from the Kiss of Death RWA Chapter) arrived!

But it was worth the wait. I love Parker and Mal’s story. Parker is the leader of the pack. Four friends who have been together through thick and thin since childhood. She takes care of everybody else so much that reading the first three stories I wondered if she’d ever relax enough to find her own hero. But she does – in someone readers would never suspect. This pedigreed socialite falls for a mechanic. True, he owns his own shop. And also true he’s had an amazing life. So they’re a good fit. But it takes a while for them to realize it!

It was the kind of great story we expect from Nora Roberts!

Actually, I loved all four books. The cast of characters was brilliant. But that’s why I love Nora Roberts’ books. She does people right!

So that’s the book I’m reading now. Next up on my to be read pile is…HUNGER GAMES. Yes! I finally got the trilogy and those are the books I will read once I finish HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

So what are you reading? Anybody reading the first book in my BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM series, THE BABY PROJECT? I loved writing this book. It was a bit of a departure for me because the heroine was super tragic. But I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel for her and that was how I could write through some of the very dramatic scenes in the beginning of the book. It was pure joy to bring some happiness into Whitney’s life, and once I got started the whole thing fell together. It’s a story I’m very proud of – But I do go on! LOL

What are you reading?

susan meier

THE BABY PROJECT, SECOND CHANCE BABY, A BABY ON THE RANCH, the BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM mini-series for Harlequin Romance, April, May and June 2011

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Self-Editing to make a manuscript shine

SELF-EDITING.... with Nocturne Author Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Making our manuscript shine.

Hi there Pink Heart readers. I’m taking a break form my deadlines with Harlequin Nocturne to give a brief rundown on the self-editing process, and share about how important it is to get manuscripts in that are as close to perfect as we can make them. Because editing, and the appearance of our manuscripts, can make or break the sale of our novels, short stories, etc, when they cross an editor’s desk.

With so many people writing, and trying to break into the market (and then stay there), the old days of an editor seeing "promise" in a manuscript ---and then being willing to take on an author whose work needs a ton of editing - are gone.

These days, with publishing houses buying fewer and fewer books, and companies buying up other companies, it's pretty much a given that editors won't look past obvious mistakes in writing, or sometimes even small ones.

Yes — yes..... a writer has to have talent in order get an editor to read anything beyond the first paragraph of a novel. And sometimes editors will read only the first couple of lines - because they have so much work to do and so little time to do it.

So -let's assume that we have talent, our books are finished, and we want to send the manuscript to a publisher.

I’m putting up a short list here that might help make our manuscripts stand out... and lead editors to recognize us as professionals are serious, and have who have done our homework.

“SELF-EDITING” means making surface-level changes in your work, so that your writing is gramatically correct. To be skilled at this process, we need to know what to look for when we read over our work.

Here is a basic handy-dandy check list for organizing and finding mistakes or problems in our work:

Things to check and double check:


___Fragments (parts of sentences) Too many?

___Run-ons (two sentences incorrectly joined)

Spelling: Punctuation:

___Missing letters

___Extra letters __Missing commas

___Transposed letters __Missing quotation marks

___Incorrect plurals __Misused semi-colons and colons

___Errors in homonyms (such as their/there/they're) __Misused apostrophes

Usage: Capitalization:

___Errors in pronouns (such as who/whom) __Proper nouns and adjectives

___Wrong verb tense __Errors in titles

___Double negatives

___Misplaced modifiers

___Unnecessary words

___Misused adjectives and adverbs - or too many!

___Incorrect voice (active vs passive)

If we keep this list on hand, and read for errors, we’re going to be one-up on polishing our work to perfection.

Of course, there are so many MORE things to do, like revisions, etc. But this is a start.

When I turn something in, I have done all of this.... and my new book for Nocturne, out this month and titled “GOLDEN VAMPIRE” needed little help from my editor and copyeditor! I have had an editor from Kensington drop a line to thank me for turning in clean manuscripts!

This is a writer’s craft day. So If you have any questions - just holler.

I’m here today to help, to chat, and to support the Pink Heart Society, who do a lot for supporting me, as well as other authors who write series books.

Cheers for now- I’m all ears!


“GOLDEN VAMPIRE” - Nocturne - available now!

“VAMPIRE LOVER” - Nocturne Bite (ebook novella-) available now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Deadline Recipes - Oven-baked Fish with tomatoes & lime

Today Fiona Harper tells us why Deadline Recipes is very pertinent for her at the moment and shares a recipe for those who just can't afford to expand any further by mainlining the normal deadline comfort food - chocolate.

I am on a deadline. I have less than two weeks to go, and I will probably by scribbling away all through Easter and the Royal Wedding - although, I may have to have the television on in the background that day, for research purposes, of course. Just in case I decide to write a 'royal' romance myself.

Anyway, any writer worth her salt will tell you that when D-day looms, her thoughts inevitably turn to ice cream and chocolate. Or cookies. Or cake.

Unfortunately, eating that sort of deadline comfort food is exactly why I am battling my ever-expanding "writers' butt", so this deadline I am sharing a healthy, quick supper that can assuage the guilt of the pre-deadline splurge, if not the manuscript avoidance and procrastination techniques I also fall prey to in the final weeks.

Oven-baked fish with tomatoes, carrot & lime
serves 2
This recipe also works well with salmon or trout fillets.

2 pieces skinless white fish, about 175g (6oz) each
2 small tomatoes, chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and cut on the diagonal
1 red chilli, deseeded and shredded
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into julienne strips
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
a few sprigs of fresh coriander

Heat the oven to 230°C, fan 210°C, gas 8. Place each fish fillet on a sheet of kitchen foil and put both on a large baking tray.

Scatter half the tomatoes, spring onions, chilli and carrot over each fillet. Drizzle half the lime juice and soy sauce over each and wrap each fish fillet in the foil to make a parcel.

Bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and cooked through.

Serve with the coriander scattered on top. Rice is a great accompaniment, as you can drizzle all the juices from the fish over the top.

Fiona's latest release, Three Weddings And A Baby is available at Mills and Boon's website. You can even have a sneaky peak at the first chapter! The North American Version, Millionaire's Baby Bombshell, is also availble on eHarlequin now.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Jennie Hunter and Alex Dangerfield did, and they married just a few weeks after they met! But when Alex disappeared on their wedding night Jennie was left alone – and angry – in her honeymoon suite. A month later, and Jennie has given up hope of ever seeing her runaway husband again. Then Alex returns – with his toddler in tow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Male On Monday - Private Property

It seems Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke has a bit of an obsession with hot, hunky handymen. And it seems she indulges this obsession annually with a Male on Monday ode to the men of HGTV!

It's such a delicious pleasure. I can watch HGTV, learn practical advice about home improvement, get design ideas, and candy. Multi-tasking at its best!

I know a huge part of their allure is the ability to complete a project. There are no hammers left out for the toddler to grab and run away with, no paint touch-ups meant to be taken care of on the weekend - two years ago. Heck, they go from disaster to perfection in under an hour! And it doesn't take any beer, or weekends spent keeping the kids away from that one friend who does not understand little ears heat EVERYTHING.

My current crush is Scott McGillvray, the hands on host of Income Property. He's young, hot, and actually got the job showing people how to create or renovate an income suite because he made a living doing it. Starting in college, McGillvray started buying, renovating, and renting properties. He shares his experience and expertise with home owners and viewers. He can turn a scary basement into a bright inviting space. Truly amazing.

McGillvray also hosts American Handyman with fellow Canadian Mike Holmes, who leads Homes on Holmes, a show where he fixes problems created by other contractors. For anyone ever locked in renovation purgatory, THAT is a hero.  

And let's not forget Austrailian Jaime Durie, host of the Outdoor Room. Oh, to have a yard big enough for one of his creations. Imagine, a backyard project that actually gets completely finished before winter! Besides the sweet bliss that is a water fountain that actually runs (ahem), Durie is not hard to look at. In fact, women used to pay him to take his clothes off (twenty years ago he worked as a stripper). Now, he's a dedicated humanitarion, champoining causes that effect families and the environment.

Now, if only my neighbors landscapers looked like Durie, or if the plumber who came to fix the faucet the boys busted was as photogenic as Holmes' crew, or the guy who shows up to measure the kitchen countertops was as charming as  McGillvray...maybe then the women of America wouldn't hear the word remodel and cringe!

When Jenna shuts off the HGTV, she might remember that she as a book coming out tomorrow. Private Scandal is ripe with secrets, sass, and sensational sex. Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marilyn's Review Roundup

This week a lot of books read and still reviews to post on Heidi Rice's Cupcakes and Killer Heels, Jennifer Lewis - The Prince's Pregnant Bride and Trish Morey's, The Heir from Nowwhere.

Book Description:

The undressing of an innocent…

In theory, Ellery Dunant is the last woman you'd expect to find on world-renowned playboy Larenz de Luca's to-bed list. Ellery has met Larenz's type before. There's no way a stallion like him would be interested in a plain-Jane housekeeper like her….

So why does Larenz find himself risking his cool and dropping his guard to spend the night with her?

The undoing of the playboy…

Just one night…but for Larenz it doesn't turn out to be enough. Is his unworldly housekeeper going to be his undoing?

Review here

Book Description:

The huge imposing castle and the barren terrain of Merkazad are a far cry from the modest farm and the emerald fields that horsewoman Iseult calls home. Or used to, until Sheikh Nadim bought her family's stud farm. As part of the deal, she must work at his royal stables….

Nadim enrages Iseult…but he also inspires a more unwelcome, unfamiliar feeling: desire. Drawn into Nadim's sensual world, Iseult feels like a beautiful, confident woman for the first time.

But she must remember the sheikh's cast-iron rule….

Book Description:

Francesca D'Oro was just eighteen when darkly sexy Marcos Navarre swept her up the aisle—then fled before the ink on the marriage license had dried. Marcos might have given Francesca a jewel for her finger, but he stole another: the Devil's Heart, a dazzling yellow diamond he believed belonged to his family….

Years later, Francesca, no longer so youthfully naive, is determined to reclaim the precious gem! But she's forgotten that Marcos lives up to the treasure's name—and dealing with the devil is always dangerous

Review here

Book Description:

Cesario di Silvestri isn't just fast with women, he's supersonic. After mere minutes spent in his charismatic presence, many of Europe's most glamorous women tumble into his bed…

With the exception of one—shy vet Jessica Martin, who refuses to become his weekend plaything. But when Jess's flaky relatives steal from Halston Hall, Cesario's country retreat, he has all the ammunition he needs! For now he'll enjoy her creamy-skinned beauty, but in the future he'll need an heir….

Review here

Book Description:

Lucas Vieira needs a translator to seal a high-profile business deal, and a woman to pose as his girlfriend to fend off a colleague's overeager wife—so why not kill two birds with one stone?

Linguist Caroline Hamilton jumps at the chance to earn some decent money. However, when she meets her client, she realizes she may be out of her league. The powerful Brazilian seems to be interested in more than just her brains….

Is the price of this passion too high?

Review here

On another note, Kate Walker has done an interview and talks at The Proud Wife with a giveaway at Romance Author Buzz.