Saturday, September 03, 2011


Harlequin Presents Extra author Mira Lyn Kelly shares a little about THE S BEFORE EX and why reunion stories are so much fun…

I love reunion stories. Love, love, love them. LOVE!

But what is it about throwing two people who couldn’t get it right the first time back together that’s so appealing?

Sure, there’s a shared history to build from. A bond to play with. But really, for whatever reason, this couple has decided to go their separate ways and move on with their lives…maybe they even think they already have.

Only this is romance, and these two are special. Which means they get a second chance. Whether they want one or not. And if they don’t happen to see it coming…all the better!

"Oh, my God, isn't that your husband?"

Claire Brady stiffened at the urgent whisper. An instant before, she'd been basking in the afterglow of a deal that, now struck, concluded her business for the next week—mostly. The gallery was too much a part of who she was to ever truly be put aside, even for a single day. But in that moment, her phone had been quiet, her mind at peace, her senses drifting with the gentle breeze as she'd absorbed the bustle and beauty of Rome's Piazza Navona while light circles, courtesy of a dishy Italian seated to her right, stroked over her palm.

It felt good. She felt good. And she'd wondered if maybe this time…

Well, so much for that.

She shook her head apologetically at Paulo, the dishy Italian under consideration, and then shot Sally, her best friend, assistant and perpetual alarmist, an emphatic no.

She'd known sharing the secret of her ex would come back to bite her, but balanced against the isolation of holding herself apart for so many years, Sally's occasional false alarm was a price she'd been more than willing to pay. Still, this was the third "Ryan sighting" this month alone.

"The man lives in California. The United States. Besides, if he were traveling abroad, we'd already know it," she promised with a nod toward the newsstand at the corner of the piazza.

When all else failed, fell short or slipped away, there was one thing in her marriage to Ryan Brady that Claire could count on. And that was the media keeping her abreast of every sordid detail of his liaisons, financial conquests and daily adventures. No waiting by the door with a cocktail at five for her. She had the world news to tell her how his day had been and with whom he'd spent the night. And in this case, she had it on reliable authority that as of fifteen hours ago, Ryan Brady had been meeting with his lawyer in downtown L.A.

The thing about reunion stories is, no matter the time or distance that’s separated the hero and heroine, the connection that stretches between then can’t be severed.

Claire cast a quick glance over her shoulder toward Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi where its Egyptian obelisk needled the washed-blue sky above—not so much looking for Ryan in the crush of milling tourists, as perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of this stranger who resembled him. Though as quickly as the thought processed, she pushed it back.

Seated in the shadow of the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, amid the splendor of baroque Roman sculpture and architecture, the last thing she should have been looking for was a man who reminded her of her estranged husband. It wasn't a healthy pastime. In fact, it fell only one rung below "looking for men who resembled Ryan and were toting babies with them" on the ladder of exceptionally bad and self-destructive ideas.

She'd moved on. Long ago. Really.

And yet she couldn't resist one last sweeping glance across the piazza. Chalk it up to morbid curiosity, but she wanted a look.

Her gaze tripped from one lacking male physique to another without need to stop—not one of them could even remotely pass for Ryan.


Of course it’s never as easy as just throwing our people back into the same space. Because regardless of the chemistry that sizzles between them… they both know just how badly loss hurts. How long it takes to heal. That this time around the stakes will be higher.

But even knowing all that, they still can’t resist.

"Hey, kitten. Remember me?"

Oh, God. Sally hadn't been wrong at all.

The air leaked from her chest in a groan, pushing the name poised at her lips free. "Ryan."

"Try to contain your excitement. You're making me blush." His gruff laugh, deep and darkly confident, sounded at her ear an instant before his lips brushed the tender skin beneath.

Claire jolted at the affront—definitely not from the tingling sensation skirting her skin—and instinctively grabbed for Paulo's hand as her defenses slapped up around her.

Where did he get off?

Twisting around in her chair—too uncertain of her legs' ability to support her to risk standing, she gasped, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm not letting you blow me off like you've been doing for the past nine years."

THE S BEFORE EX is available in eBook format from eHarlequin now, and will be available in print next month.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fill the Well Friday: Revisit the Structure

Harlequin Historical Author Michelle Styles takes a look at how knowing your routine can benefit your creativity in this month's column of Fill the Well Friday.
As my eldest pointed out to me when he came home from a summer working in one of Washington DC's hottest new restaurants --Virtue Feed and Grain, the reason a restaurant works is that everyone knows their job. There is a routine to follow. The same is true with creativity. It works better if you have an established routine, if the muse knows when to show up or what causes the muse to show up. The girls in the basement can be a lazy lot. If you wait for them, you can miss your deadline. Or feeling like you are permanently out to lunch.
In The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp points out that she has an established ritual before she gets down to work.  Bob Mayer in Write It Forward also extols the virtues the virtues of Standard Operating Procedures to encourage maximum performance.
It is not what you do, but how  you get ready to do it that help alert the muse that it is time to preform. Sometimes, if you are feeling stuck or like the girls in the basement are on off on a spa day, it can be time to revisit your routine.
So how to revisit your structure.
1. Keep an activity diary for several days without comment, but note down what you do and how many words you write. Now put it away in a drawer. Don't look at it.
2. Figure out when you are most productive. Are you a morning person or a night person? What time do you need?
3. Look at your props and prompts. Remember they are your props and prompts. Some people might need to check their email. Other people might need a cup of something warm by their side, or others still like historical author Blythe Gifford might need to light candles.  Some people like a timer. Other people freeze with such things.Some people need 1k1hr on twitter. Other people slow down. Has your ritual become extreme or does it not seem to exist?
4. Write down all the things you think you need.
5. Look back at your activity diary. When were you most productive? Did you follow your routine then? If not, what did you do? How did the muse know to show up? Can that be repeated?
6. Write down a list of things you did just before your most productive surge.
7. Write down a list of things you did just before your least productive surge. What was different?
8. Compare them with the earlier list. Are your prompts and props different than what you thought? If so, see if you can change your routine. Has something become a crutch? Is something sucking out creativity rather than adding to it?
You can now forget about it, except when you start to get stuck and feel like you are wasting time. Get out the list. Look at your routine and follow it. You will be sending a signal to the girls in the basement to stop filing their nails and get a move on.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide variety of periods. Visit her website at Her latest book To Marry A Matchmaker is out now (September 2011) in Australia and New Zealand as part of a Three in One. It is also available as an ebook wherever UK released ebooks are sold.

Thursday 13 :: You Know You Love It

Let's get the conversation started! Straight from The Pink Heart Society editors desk...which recurring themes at the blogazine are your favorites? Which leave you cold and which get you hot and bothered?

  1. Male On Monday :: I know, we don't even really need to ask!
  2. Pink Heart Picks :: Our very own book club. Have you had a chance to read next month's installment, THE HEART OF A HERO by Barbara Wallace?
  3. Fill The Well Friday:: Pink Heart Society editor Michelle Styles brings tips to keep the creativity flowing
  4. Writers Wednesday :: Writing advice and journeys from The Pink Heart Society authors.
  5. Romance Review Roundup with Marilyn's Romance Reviews
  6. Must-Watch Friday :: Movies and TV and movies on TV
  7. Crafty Corner :: Who knew we were such a craftastic bunch?
  8. Deadline Recipes :: Easy recipes for when you're up against it.
  9. Industry Spotlights :: The tips for the New Voices contest is not to be missed
  10. Call Stories :: Who doesn't love hearing about a dream come true?
  11. Date With Kate :: The Pink Heart Society's very own master class on writing
  12. Author Spotlights :: Really getting to know your favorite writers. Pink Heart Society editor Mira Lyn Kelly has really worked hard on these this year.
  13. Thursday 13 anyone?
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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Finishing

Brigid Coady confesses to her personality flaws and shows how she overcame them. Well, sort of overcame them. It is a work in progress. And yes, some days no matter what she does she doesn't finish stuff. We are all human though aren't we?

There are personality type tests you can take which many companies use to make sure that they have the correct mix of personalities in a team for it to be successful. I used to work at a company that used the Myers-Briggs tests and it was always intriguing to see where you stood in terms of personality types. Were you a ‘chairman’ or a ‘plant’? Every one wanted to be the ‘plant’ because they seemed like the wild child of the team, the disruptive creative one who would think outside the box but could get annoying.

I always scored highly as a ‘team worker’ and ‘resource identifier’ – I always saw the ‘resource identifier’ as the gossip of the group. They are the ones who go off and find out information from the wider world. But there was one part that I always scored lowest on. In fact I think I took it once at the beginning of my career and I scored zero, that part was as ‘completer/finisher’. You always need someone who can carry things through to the end but I am not that person. I never have been.

My childhood was littered with half finished craft projects, sports and activities started and then faded away. I sometimes think I only finished my education because legally you had to and with University I was more scared of my mother than of finishing.

This does leave me with something of a handicap when it comes to writing. Luckily through work I have learnt to become a better ‘completer/finisher’ but it is not a natural thing for me to do. Which is why when it comes to writing I have to trick myself into finishing things, it means it takes me longer to do things but this way they do get done. It is a question I think of building your stamina. I am a rush at things sort of a person and that means I have lots of energy at the beginning but when the hard slog starts I have worn myself out.  One of the ways I have learnt to get around this is to take time to plan. I let myself have the wild crazy run at a writing project but as I can feel myself run out of steam I sit back and start making a plan of where it will go. Suddenly the energy returns when I can see a glimmer and off I go again.

Other times I stop myself from running full pelt at a new idea and force myself to look at it carefully and see if it can be finished. Some stories aren’t long enough for a book. I learnt this the hard way.

But mostly I have learnt that if you want to be published you’ve got to learn to sit down and finish. Even if that first draft is a pile of something unpleasant. And once you’ve finished once you know you can do it again. Doesn’t make it any easier but at least you know you can do it. Of course finishing a first draft doesn’t mean you are actually finished. There is the editing, the re-writing and the polishing. That is when you bribe yourself with food, drink and DVDs. It is amazing what a good TV box set can do when used as a carrot.

How hard do you find finishing things? Or are you the type that has to have everything tied up in neat bows before they can move on?

Brigid is currently finishing revisions and NOT, I repeat NOT getting distracted by the shiny new idea she has had. She really isn't. Much.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CRAFTY CORNER : Craftastic Blogs

There are mornings where Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke wakes up and wishes she were crafty. Since she doesn't own a hot glue gun, she makes do with crafty websites that promise it's easy. And then she either tries a few projects, or decides to channel her creativity into writing, because you don't have to clean up afterwards.

I love art and creative projects. I love taking something standard and plain and personalizing it. But I can look at a blank canvas or white dresser and have no idea how to get from ordinary to fabulous. Hence, my habit of surfing for things I might actually be able to make.

Eighteen25 is a favorite blog of mine. Three sisters share their ideas for crafts, parties, and outings with their kiddos. I want to make the circle punch photo collage, and I even have the circle punch, but I need to remember to print the photos in black and white, and get a frame, and maybe a star punch...or would having a single picture in color have a similar effect without having to buy a punch? Hmmm...

If you're short on time, Tater Tots & Jello is a great one-stop since it features projects from other blogs. They did a great round up of back-to-school ideas. Now if only I can remember to put together something before the first day. I'd really like the throw a back-to-school party for the boys and their friends, but by the time I organize it the princess will be in kindergarten...which is actually an idea I should file away.

Sprik Space actually got me started on this craft blog binge. The graphic design super-mom does a collection of the blog finds she'd like to try called Brief Bits. After a few of these, I had my own collection of places to look for crafty inspiration. Plus, she has free printables and postable -- including lunchbox jokes. Perfect for back-to-school time.

I got a lot of great ideas for the diva's bedroom on blogs. Martha Stewart suggested decopaging fabric on furniture. She had this classy thing going on. I decided a quilt-like effect was more small girl. I even got how-to's for hanging the letters of her name!

Who has a favorite place for finding craftastic inspirations?

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Male on Monday: Channing Tatum

Harlequin Romance Author Soraya Lane explains how Channing Tatum inspired her latest hero!

Every time I start work on a new story, I cast my hero, and my current work in progress is no exception. I’ve written about a few soldiers now, but never a Navy SEAL, and for some reason that made it harder to cast my latest hero – Tom Cartwright. And then one day I sat down to re-watch the Nicholas Sparks movie Dear John, swooning as I watched my favorite soldier on the screen, and I suddenly realized who my inspiration for Tom was …

Enter Channing Tatum! He was a smoking hot soldier in Dear John, had all the moves in the dance movie Step it Up, and he was also pretty darn impressive as a boxer in Fighting. What do I love about him, I hear you say? I like that he is strong and masculine, looks like he could protect a girl if she needed it, and that he genuinely looks like he could be a marine or a Navy SEAL.

atum is happily married, having met his wife on the set of Step it Up and I like him for that even more. So that’s my male on Monday – the delectable, the delicious, the divine Mr Channing Tatum!

Tell me what you like about Tatum or which movie of his you enjoyed the most, and I’ll enter you in the draw to win a copy of my latest book, The Army Ranger’s Return. And if you’ve never heard of him before (poor you!) just comment anyway for a chance to win!

I’m also giving away 5 copies of The Army Ranger’s Return on Facebook when I reach 100 followers, so if you “like” me on Facebook you can go in the draw to win there too! Visit me at