Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wildcard Weekend - The cutest thing ever?


Today Fiona Harper is going to let pictures do the talking, in the form of YouTube clip of a surprise wedding.


I'm not a big one for sitting on YouTube clicking on link after link of funny/amusing/cute clips, but I followed a link to this one the other day and just had to post about it. The groom has been dubbed 'the most romantic guy in the world' after the stunt he pulled, where he planned a secret wedding for almost a year and then proposed to his girlfriend and married her later that day! Enough of me telling you about it - just watch the clip:




How cute is that?

But what I want to ask is: would you like your groom-to-be to plan your wedding?

The control-freak side of me has a mere tantrum at the thought of it, but the fact the groom went to such lengths to give his bride the wedding she wanted just melts my heart.

Seriously, if I wrote a story like this I'd get stick for being unrealistic, because guys just don't do that sort of thing! Well, obviously they do. My advice to the bride? Hang on to this one, love, becuase I think he's a keeper. Any man who can wholeheartedly throw himself into giving the woman he loves exactly what she wants and needs is a romantic hero in my book!

But what about everyone else? What do you think? Romantic or cheesy? Sweet or scary?


Fiona's latest book,
Swept Off Her Stillettos, will be out in August in the UK (Mills & Boon RIVA) and September in North America (Harlequin Romance)

Clothing connoisseur Coreen Fraser's film-star style never leaves her wanting for male attention! But sourcing for a 1930s murder-mystery weekend stops being fun when she discovers she has to wear a tweed suit and sensible shoes!

Meanwhile Coreen's best friend Adam Conrad has his own plans for the weekend... And one moonlit kiss later Coreen's blinkers fall from her eyes. Adam is the only man who knows the girl underneath the skyscraper heels and scarlet lipstick. But is she brave enough to invite him to kiss it off any time he likes...?


Friday, August 19, 2011

A Date with Kate - Reworking –Honouring or Stealing?

My newest novel,  The Return of The Stranger, out on September 2nd, is one of a four book mini-series, The Powerful and the Pure.   These books are by four different Modern authors, myself, Sharon Kendrick, Kate Hewitt, Cathy Williams, and the  series description  was  on the ‘concept page’ in the books:

The Powerful and The Pure
When Beauty Tames the Brooding Beast
From Mr Darcy to Heathcliff, the best romantic heroes have always been tall,  dark, and dangerously irresistible.
This year, indulge yourself as Modern Romance brings you four formidable men – the ultimate heroes.
Untameable .  . .or so they think.

The original idea for this series was that  the authors should produce novels inspired by the classics of romantic  fiction – the novels that everyone thinks of when talking about the all-time greats. So the books  are Jane Eyre (The Forbidden Innocent), Pride and Prejudice (In Want of a Wife), Emma (Mr and Mischief) and my own The  Return of The Stranger  which is inspired by Wuthering Heights.

The Return of The Stranger is already on sale on the Mills & Boon site  where it's been at #1 on their bestseller list for two weeks, and has earned a great review – which I’m going to quote here. Not just because it’s so complimentary but because of the very first sentence that brings up the point I want to look at here:

"I'm not altogether sure that I agree with the premise of re-working the plot of all time classic novels. This is the last in the Series and is based on Wuthering Heights. Moreover I never really liked Heathcliffe seeing him as rather cruel. However Mrs Walker triumphantly produces a powerful and intense novel which involves your emotions from start to finish. Heath is a super hero full of brooding passion and the delightful Katherine evokes your sympathy. Not to be missed - as they say they saved the best till last."
Now I’m going to have to admit that I winced as I always do – at that ‘Heathcliffe’. Emily Bronte’s hero never had that extra ‘e’ on his name. I should know.  I just about grew up with  Wuthering Heights, living just a few short miles away from Haworth where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote, reading the book again and again, watching endless film and TV adaptations, studying it for my first degree and finally writing about it and comparing it not only to Charlotte’s  adult novels,  but also to the sisters' juvenile works where they created the imaginary  lands of Angria and Gondal in stories they wrote as children. That was for my MA thesis.  And  the man’s name is Heathcliff – no e – Heath + Cliff – a very appropriate name for such a powerful unyielding and, yes, often very cruel hero.

But more importantly, - I want to go back over that first sentence - I'm not altogether sure that I agree with the premise of re-working the plot of all time classic novels.

Huh? From time immemorial writers have been reworking plots, telling the same stories in different way, with a new slant, a new twist.  Prior to the 18th century, writers borrowed freely from each other without shame or punishment. (The Latin word plagaria referred only to the act of physical kidnapping.) Shakespeare borrowed passages from Plutarch and contemporaries. Books were copied by hand prior to the rise of the printing press, and amanuenses were given liberty to rework texts. England passed the first copyright laws in 1709, as mechanical reproduction of works and new ideas about individuality became widespread. These laws provided legal remedies for authors--writers and composers mainly--who believed their works had been unfairly lifted. The U.S. Constitution required Congress to pass similar copyright laws.

But plagiarism  means just that-   lifting another person’s words, copying their story, adding nothing new or different and above all never acknowledging the debt to the original. What romance  writer has never written her personal version of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty,  The Taming of The Shrew, Pride and Prejudice . .  .   Even if she hasn’t followed the path of the original story, the memories of it, the themes  and plot lines are there in our collective story-telling imaginations and they will come out to a greater or lesser degree in each story we tell.   If I meet any  writer of romantic fiction who tells me that she had never  ever touched on any of the classics  then I’m unlikely to believe her. Where  do the wonderful alpha heroes we all know and love (or hate  as the case may be) come from if not from these classic stories?

And Charlotte and Emily  probably weren’t so starkly original as they might seem. When I did my thesis, I hunted back through the books that they had read or might have  read, the stories in poems of Byron, the ‘Gothic’ novels like the Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, all of which have possible echoes in the Brontes’ stories. Every author is  the result of who she is, what she has read, what she has experienced, all combined in her imagination.

Novelists are not the ony ones - there are films, TV series - what about Clueless? Or the brilliant Sparkhouse which turns the Cathy/Heathcliff relationship upside down - and also stars a young just-making-his-name Richard Armitage.
But some readers are up in arms, declaring these reworkings of the classics as plagiarism, some have even decided that the authors involved should be reported for  ‘stealing’ from the greats.    Now, some months back I was part of another mini series where the books took  some other Classics  - this time Classic Greek Myths – and reworked them.  No one got their knickers in a twist over that. Perhaps they didn’t  realise  where these stories originated from, perhaps they didn’t care. Because isn’t that why these wonderful classic romantic books have become such classics – because we care so much about them.? We love the heroes, empathise with the heroines (OK – some have difficulties with Cathy and Heathcliff, but I’ll be dealing with that on my own blog soon).  I know I do. And I was honoured to be asked to be part of this series. To create a brand new 21st century Mills & Boon novel  inspired by the 19th century novel Wuthering Heights.

Because that’s what  I and the other writers have  done – we’ve been  inspired by the spirit and the characters of the originals and then as authors ourselves, we created a brand new story as a result.  Of course it touches on the original – it couldn’t be an honouring of the original if we didn’t – but we’ve each written it in our own way, in the way that still delivers the promise that a romance novel gives to its readers.  The story I’ve created may work for some – it may not appeal at all to others – just like the originals. But it’s not ‘Wuthering Heights II’ or even Wuthering Heights Lite – it’s a story that I hope has the atmosphere and  some of intensity of the original. And it’s a story that you can read on its own, with no knowledge of the original, or recognise the references that honour the inspiration of that original.  And it’s not stealing  - or plagiarism.

Plagiarism is defined as:
•to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
•to use (another's production) without crediting the source
•to commit literary theft
And as academic Laura Vivanco  from the fascinating site Teach Me Tonight  - Musings on Romantic Fiction from An Academic Perspective -  said on my blog some weeks back when I talked about this book for the first time –
Yes, and there's only a problem with this sort of thing if

* there's unacknowledged use and/or use that cannot reasonably have been intended to be recognised by readers, of many elements of the original author's plot/characterisation (see, for example, the controversy over the similarities between Colleen McCullough's The Ladies of Missalonghi and L. M. Mongomery's original, The Blue Castle, as discussed here)

* use of entire phrases or close paraphrases of longer segments of text, unless the words are used in quotations or an obvious, acknowledged reworking.

Quotations, allusions, parodies, sequels and reworkings of/from well-known and/or acknowledged sources, though, are entirely legitimate.

I’m openly acknowledging my debt of inspiration to Emily Bronte’s great novel Wuthering Heights. I make no secret about it. In fact, The Bronte Society has asked me to speak at their Festival of Women’s Writing, to talk about the joys and difficulties involved in taking the essence of Wuthering Heights and  recreating it as a romance novel.  There are references to the original,  but there are not great sections of text that are copied, and as Laura says,  Quotations, allusions, parodies, sequels and reworkings of/from well-known and/or acknowledged sources, though, are entirely legitimate.

I find the controversy about this interesting as I‘m reminded how in 1992 David Lodge accused a writer of Mills and Boon romances, Pauline Harris (writing as Rachel Ford) , of stealing central elements from his novel Nice Work in a book called The Iron Master. Harris stated that she had never read Nice Work and successfully sued for libel. Lodge eventually pronounced his rival "completely innocent of plagiarism".  In fact both novels drew for their inspiration on Mrs Gaskell's North and South.  (This story is fully told here)
They had  both ‘ reworked the plot of an all time classic novel.’

Interestingly, as an  afterthought to this, I was originally asked to use that same novel, North and South as my inspiration for my contribution to the The Powerful and the Pure mini series,  clearly as a result of the magnificent dramatisation of it starring Richard Armitage (any excuse to post another photo of such hero inspiration!)  but I questioned whether some readers in America might  think  N&S meant the Civil War novel by John Jakes and starring Patrick Swayze.

All fiction is full of echoes and reflections that writers play with their predecessors. The Russian critic Vladimir Propp has even  proposed that all stories could be  made up of one of seven archetypes, that cover the whole of fiction for all time. No matter what amazingly unique idea you might come up with for your new novel, chances are it's already been used hundreds, possibly even thousands, of times before. You can’t copyright an idea. Plagiarism is wrong – but plagiarism is reproducing  verbatim without the author's prior consent.   That’s not what’s happening in this mini-series. The authors have  taken themes and certain elements from the classics and played with them  to create something new which, as Anne McAllister says  ‘is your own story with a tip of the hat to Wuthering Heights’(or any of the other classics).  I for one would never ever make any claim that my story even reaches half the power and the glory of Emily Bronte’s book that I’ve just read again for the umpteenth time and found something new and different in it each time. But if it stands up as a romance novel  and delivers on the promise that the Presents/Modern romance makes to its readers., and if readers like the reviewer above enjoy it as “ a powerful and intense novel which involves your emotions from start to finish. . . Not to be missed. . ." Then I’m happy. 

And if while doing so I ‘tip my hat’ to the amazing novel Emily Bronte wrote and  acknowledge the huge part that book has played in my life, then I’ve done what I set out to do.
PS (added on  Wednesday )

I wrote this blog at the weekend,  but I just had to add this note
a. Because I'm excited by it
and
b. Because it sort of backs up my argument really.

Because I've been asked to speak about Return of The Stranger at the Bronte Festival, I sent them an advance copy of the book so they could see it. Today I received an email from the  Collections Manager of the Bronte Parsonage Museum. She thanked me for sending n the book and said -


We are really pleased to be able to add this to our collection of Bronte-inspired fiction in the research library at the Parsonage.

Not half as pleased - and proud -  as I am to know it's going to be in that collection for ever. But did you see those words - our collection of Bronte-inspired fiction - they have a collection  of books like this. That's because they know they're honouring  the originals, not stealing from them or plagiarising them!



Kate's book, The Return of the Stranger  is available now on the Mills & Boon site where it's been the #1 bestseller for a week . It's out in the bookshops the UK on September 2nd, and in Presents EXTRA on October 4th.
Oh - and she's thrilled to be able to confirm that her next one after that has now had her chosen title The Devil and Miss Jones confirmed.  The Devil and Miss  jones will be out in March 2012 in Modern Romance.


You can read all her most up to date news on her web site and her blog

Thursday, August 18, 2011

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Julie Miller

In the spotlight this month... Harlequin Intrigue author Julie Miller.

About Julie...
Julie Miller is an award-winning, nationally bestselling author of breathtaking romantic suspense--with a National Readers Choice Award and a Daphne du Maurier among other prizes. In 2009 she earned a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Suspense. Many of her nearly 50 books have appeared on the USA Today, Borders and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists.

Julie thank you so much for joining us today! Can you tell us a little about your latest release?
My current Harlequin Intrigue release, PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS, wraps up my Precinct: SWAT trilogy. And rest assured, for all you readers who’ve been speculating on the identity of the Rich Girl serial Killer with me on www.eharlequin.com and Facebook, all will be revealed. And, as an added bonus, my editor enjoyed my SWAT Team 1 characters so much that she asked me to write a fourth, stand-alone Precinct: SWAT book. Look for NANNY 911 in December of this year. It will feature the team’s lady SWAT cop, Miranda Murdock, and elusive security company billionaire Quinn Gallagher. Plus, for all those readers asking when Holden Kincaid will come back from paternity leave to rejoin the team, here’s your chance. Holden is a hero once again as he plays a key role in Quinn and Miranda’s story.

PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS sounds great- how about a blurb?
A ruthless killer…an expectant mother…one determined cop.

Rafe Delgado had been there for Josie Nichols her entire life. So when he turned to her one night, emotionally drained thanks to a heartbreaking case, her longtime crush on the brooding cop reached a whole new level. But afterward, Rafe went back to being untouchable and Josie didn't know how to break through his shell…even to tell him she was pregnant.

Everything Rafe did was by the book and so his moment of weakness could never be repeated. He didn't deserve someone like Josie…even if it was a daily struggle to keep his hands off her. But learning she could ID a cold-blooded killer changed everything. Now she was in his protective custody and caring about her only made his job harder. And learning about his unborn child made it nearly impossible.


What are your favorite genres? Least favorites?
I’m a true romantic suspense fan. It’s my go-to when I want to read, and it’s what I love to write. It appeals to so many aspects of my personality. The intellectual in me loves a good mystery. The adventurer in me loves the action and suspense. And the romantic in me loves a good love story. I started reading Harlequin Intrigues back in college when the very first one (THE KEY by Rebecca Flanders) came out. I’ve been a fan of Intrigues ever since—they’re quick enough reads that I don’t get frustrated when my busy schedule limits my reading time, yet they’re denser, complete, mainstreamy stories that give me everything I want—thrills, chills, romance, heroes to fall in love with and heroines who I’m either cheering for or I’m imagining in their place. I also love series stories that create a community of characters—ones who might play a supporting role in one story and shine as the hero or heroine in another, characters who I get to know more in-depth over the course of several books. I read a lot of Series Romance—Intrigues, Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Blaze are my favorites. I also do a lot of YA reading, to keep current on my teaching, and because there are just some awesome YA books out there.

My least favorites are probably inspirational romance (I tend to like a more sensual, sexual romance story, though not erotic) and historical. I’ve read some historicals that are on my keeper shelf (Cheryl St. John is a fave), but I usually like a contemporary setting, and characters with more modern sensibilities. The historicals I’ve loved usually have a heroine who’s ahead of her time.

What’s in your TBR pile and why?
Right now I’m on a new author (or new-to-me author) kick. I just finished Jana DeLeon’s SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU from Intrigue—loved the spooky atmosphere that lurked in the background or took center stage in every scene. And I’ve got several favorite authors waiting for my next reading binge (that’s how I celebrate completing a deadline): Rachel Lee, Jessica Andersen, Delores Fossen, Elle James, Jo Leigh, Sherry James, J.K. Rowling (I’ve got a hankering to read THE DEATHLY HALLOWS again).

What are your thoughts on social networking? Do you get your chatty on…or are you more about necessary updates?
Depends on where I am on my deadlines. Being a shy person by nature, communicating online has been a boon for me when it comes to interacting with readers and networking with other publishing professionals. I love that I can do it any time of day or night, I can think through what I want to say before I type it in, and so on. I can fritter away entire mornings catching up on emails or updating Facebook and Tweeting, checking favorite blogs (Pink Heart Society, Intrigue Authors and The Writing Playground are some of my faves) or adding to my favorite discussions on eHarlequin. It’s fun to rediscover friends from high-school and college that I’ve lost track of while we’ve been busy raising families and establishing careers, or to communicate more often than a Christmas card once a year. And it’s fun, interesting, and rewarding to get almost instant feedback from readers who have questions or who want to see something different in my books or hope to see a supporting character they love get a story of his/her own. But, when I’m feeling deadline pressure, then networking can become a chore—people seem to worry when I drop off the grid to focus on my book or family business. I know I need to stay out there, to keep my name in front of readers and friends, but sometimes I do need to prioritize, and the social networking goes way down the list. And there are deadlines for the Intrigue newsletter, blog posts, website updates, etc., that can make social networking as stressful as completing a book. Readers can find me on my Facebook Fan page, on the www.eharlequin.com boards, on GoodReads, Kindle Boards, Shelfari, and on Twitter at @JulieMillerAuth.

How do you pick your story settings?
Generally I write what I know and love. If I’m going to spend several weeks (or years!) there with my characters, I want to be in a place that I connect with. Kansas City, obviously, for my Precinct stories. KC is my old stomping grounds, and I still have a lot of family there, so I visit the area often. I love showcasing my favorite city with all its laid-back charm, cultural offerings, beautiful scenery and big-city diversity. The mountains are another favorite setting of mine. I love the majesty and splendor of God’s work there. I feel humble and peaceful there, yet inspired and invigorated at the same time. I’ve set books in the Tetons of Wyoming, in the Rockies of Montana, and in my own Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas, as well.

How long have you been writing and what prompted you to begin?
My first novel was published in 1997; my first Harlequin Intrigue in 2000. But I’ve been a writer all my life. I was a shy child, but I was never bored. As far back as I can remember, I created stories in my head to entertain myself. Barbie and G.I. Joe had some awesome Indiana Jones-type adventures, and I solved mysteries right along with Miss Marple and Encyclopedia Brown. Shyness made adolescence particularly difficult, but I was encouraged to do lots of journaling, and to communicate via notes when I couldn’t get the words and emotions out of my mouth. That truly gave me an understanding of how to get emotions down on the page, a must for any romance writer.
I wrote my first complete romance novel back in college, a definite learning experience, but not a manuscript that will ever see the light of day. Then I got busy with my teaching career. When we moved to Nebraska, and my son was still a toddler, I had the opportunity to stay at home with him for a year. While I was blessed to have that opportunity, I discovered I still needed a creative outlet. So, while he napped, I began writing down some of those stories inside my head, just to see if I could do it. Then, a friend introduced me to RWA and suggested we and a couple of other friends start our own chapter (Prairieland Romance Writers). That’s how I learned the business. I had to go back to teaching full-time when my husband got laid off, but I continued to write and learn and submit. I was in the middle of corralling/teaching the class from h*ll when I got the phone call that my first book had sold! I used to be a full-time teacher who wrote part-time. Then it became two full-time jobs with little sleep and lots of stress. Not fun. My health (and a request for more books a year from my editor) forced me to choose careers. Now, I’m a full-time writer who teaches part-time. And I’m currently writing my 45th book!

Wow! 45--that's incredible!! Was there a defining moment when you decided to pursue writing as a career?
Yes. When my health gave out after 2-3 years of trying to teach and write full-time, as well as raise my family. I ended up getting very sick. When my editor said they’d like to have more books a year from me, my hubby and I discussed it, and I took the plunge into writing full-time. It was a scary transition at first. He was newly out of grad school and starting his second career as a teacher. I was giving up my insurance and benefits. But we managed. I am blessed to have a family who encouraged me to follow my heart—if this is what I wanted to do, then go for it. Work hard. I loved teaching (working with the students at any rate—that’s one reason I still sub and tutor), but writing is the dream career for me. It’s requires a lot of hard work and self-discipline, and the adjustments haven’t always been easy. But I love it!

When you write, how many projects do you generally have going at once?
One. I’m a very linear writer. I’ve tried writing several projects at once, but I found it screwed with my sense of continuity and character development. It was a challenge to keep each story focused in my head and to get them written. But, that just means I can’t WRITE more than one story at a time. If I get an idea for a future story, or something else I have under contract, I jot down the note or the dialogue or whatever the brainstorm is that comes to me. I will also do research on other stories. But then I have to file that info away so the new idea doesn’t block the words I need to be writing. I’m also what my friend Delores Fossen calls a “cooker”, meaning I think a lot about my characters and story before I write it. So it’s actually helpful to me to let characters and story ideas and plot twists percolate for a while before I start writing.

How do you manage your ideas for new stories before you’re able to really sit down and work on them?
I’m the queen of sticky notes! Jot it down fast and file it away.

Plot or Pants?
Cooker. (see above) I can’t outline a story from beginning to end because then my brain feels like I’ve written the story already, and I’m not excited to tell it anymore. But I do think a lot about my characters before I ever start a manuscript. And, I envision 2 or 3 key scenes that will happen in the book—usually the climactic confrontation and a tense romantic moment. But how I get to those scenes? What happens in between? I trust my gut—and my characters—to take the story where it needs to go.

Julie, thank you so much for stopping by today, it's been great getting to know you better. Anything else you'd like to share with us?
On a personal note, PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS is the first story I wrote after losing my dad last year, and the book is dedicated to him. It was a particularly tough story to write at the time because my emotions weren’t always in a good place. But now I see the book as a celebration—an homage to my dad, if you will. Whether he was serving in the Marine Corps, teaching, coaching, working in the business world, doing his beloved carpentry work or just being my dad, he was a man who always got the job done. And he expected us to meet our responsibilities, too. Keeping that lesson in mind, I found the determination to complete the book and go on with my writing. I hope you’ll enjoy PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS, and any of my books you might read…and keep a good thought in mind for the man who was my first hero, the man who inspired me to achieve.

I’ll give away a copy of PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS or an early-bird copy of NANNY 911 (when my author copies arrive in the fall) to one lucky poster who leaves a question or comment here on the Pink Heart blog today.

Happy Reading!
Julie Miller

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writer's Wednesday with Mindy Klasky

A big Pink Heart welcome to Mindy Klasky, who joins us for Writer's Wednesday to chat about what happens when a story just won't let go...


Once upon a time, I wrote down stories and hoped to become a published author.  I wrote stories like the ones I loved to read – traditional fantasy novels in the style of The Lord of the Rings, with larger than life heroes, and adventure, and action.



Then, I went to college, where my writing time was severely curtailed.  I still managed to make reading time, even beyond the four novels a week I put away as an English major.  In fact, I worked in a bookstore, barely getting a paycheck home, because of all the purchases that I made. 



Every single month, I stocked the shelves, putting out new books, taking away the old ones.  In that store, I discovered category romance – fun, short, readable stories full of emotion, a complete escape from the heavy literature that was central to my academic studies.

And I decided that I wanted to write a category romance.

The decision didn’t stick, at first.  Oh, I wrote a category.  I thought it was brilliant – at least as good as the ones that I’d read.  Alas, the publishers didn’t think so.  They didn’t think the next one was publishable either.  The third one had more hope – they asked me to revise it – but I ultimately moved on to other writing ventures.

In fact, I returned to my traditional fantasy stories.  Eventually, I sold a half dozen of those novels.  And I melded my two literary loves, writing light paranormal romances – fantasy “chicklit”. 

But I still wanted to write a category romance good enough to see publication.  So, I went back into a bookstore, and I bought all the romances in one line for that month.  And another month.  And a third. 

I drafted my romance, coming up with the perfect title – The Mogul’s Maybe Marriage.  I sent it to my editor, and I chewed my fingernails, and I worried, and I hoped.

In the end, my category was rejected.  But that was not the end of the line.  My editor loved the book – just not for the line that I’d written for.  She wanted to see a few tweaks here.  A couple of changes in emphasis there.  Another 10,000 words overall.

And so, I sold my first category romance.  It’s my thirteenth published novel, over all.  It occupies a completely different segment of literary “real estate” from my earlier works.  Some of my readers have been surprised to find my name on one of “those” books.

But I could not possibly be happier!  And I hope that you’ll enjoy reading Mogul as much as I enjoyed writing it – even if the writing took over twenty-five years (in a manner of counting!)

In  The Mogul’s Maybe Marriage, Ethan Hartwell has been given an ultimatum: he must marry by the end of the year, or he will lose control of the company that is his life. But when Ethan searches for the only woman he’s never quite forgotten, he finds a two-for-one — Sloane Davenport is carrying his child! Now, Ethan has to decide whether to tell Sloane his darkest secret, and chance losing her forever…

As a foster kid, Sloane has always dreamed of giving her own child a perfect family. Now, pregnant and — outrageously! — fired from her job, she is struggling to keep her independence. She isn’t about to marry for anything but respect and partnership and love. So what will it take to transform Sloane’s “maybe” into “yes”?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DEADLINE RECIPES: Shortcut Chicken Chimis

Presents Extra author and Pink Heart Society editor Mira Lyn Kelly shares a favorite shortcut for a meal her family loves...

You don't have to have a book due to know what it's like to be stretched thin, out of time, and empty on culinary inspiration. Sooner or later it happens to everyone, and all of us have a favorite fall back meal that gets dinner on the table in a pinch. The problem for my family is, when I've got a deadline breathing down my neck, I tend to burn through my pinch meals one after another for about a week straight. Frozen Pizza, Hot dogs and baked beans, Pancakes and bacon, spaghetti, refried bean chili -- all quick and easy to make with my regular freezer and pantry stock, but occasionally over served.

Eventually, the family starts to look a little nervous when they ask what's for dinner...that's when I know it's past time to turn out something they can really sink their teeth into. Something that makes them feel like it's special...but doesn't take a whole lot of time. (The book is still due, after all!!)

Time for Shortcut Chicken Chimis (or burritos if you don't want to deep fry)

This is a crowd pleasing, super tasty meal that mostly gets cooked ahead and only requires your attention for the last steps.

You need:
1lb chicken breasts (raw)
1 Onion diced
1 Red bell pepper diced
1 4oz Can of diced green chiles
1 10oz container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme (Santa Fe Flavor)
12 flour tortillas
6oz grated Monterey Jack cheese

Dump chicken, onion, pepper, and chiles in a crock pot and turn on low. 5ish hours later, stir to break up chicken and mix together. An hour after that, turn off heat and drain the mixture. Pour in cooking creme and mix to combine.

Working 1 at a time, spoon a few tablespoons of filling along a line through center of each tortilla and burrito wrap. *If the book is due the next day, just line them up snug in a tray, cover with shredded cheese and bake at 375 about 15 min until the cheese is bubbly and serve as burritos. OTHERWISE...

Deep fry chimichangas one a a time until crisp and golden in color. Drain and then line up on cookie sheet, topping with grated cheese when all are done. Run under the broiler to melt cheese and serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.

Enjoy!!
:-) Mira

www.miralynkelly.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Male on Monday :: Josh Lucas (Encore!)

Five years ago, Pink Heart Society founding member Nicola Marsh featured Josh Lucas. Current PHS editor Jenna Bayley-Burke has decided you can't have too much of a good thing!

I fell in love with Josh Lucas when he played Jake in Sweet Home Alabama. A man's man with the soul of an artist...who can resist?

I remember some things from Nicola's first homage - like his given name is Joshua Lucas Easy Dent Maurer, because he was born on an Indian reservation and when he was born he came out so easily he dented his head on a bed post!

Since my crush began, Josh has delighted women everwhere with more heroic roles -- like the sheriff in the Jennifer Lopez/Robert Redford movie An Unfinished Life, Coach Haskins in Glory Road, and Ted inThe Lincoln Lawyer with fellow male on Monday alum Matthew McConaughey.

He was even in the Katie O'Grady movie Management...okay, so he was barely in it and Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn starred in the movie, but I went to high school with Katie, so to everyone from Medford, that's Katie O'Grady'd movie :D

Most recently, he stole my heart again in Life As We Know It - The Katherine Heigl/Josh Duhamel movie. You know the one....The Odd Couple inherits a baby? That one. Josh played the perfect man - handsome, patient, thoughtful pediatrician who knew enough about Holly to see she was in love with Messer, even if she didn't want to admit it.

Honestly, the whole performance made me want to write a happy ending for Sam...hmmm....

Jenna's juggling the last few weeks of having the taller kiddos home for the summer, getting the small one ready for preschool, and finishing the road trip book right now. Until it's ready, be sure to check out her latest. Private Scandal is ripe with secrets, sass, and sensational sex. Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog