Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Man, Woman,Earth Wind and Sky + Giveaway


The Pink Heart Society is delighted to welcome award winning Special Edition Author Kathleen Eagle and she is doing a Giveaway!

UPDATE: Kathleen's winner has been drawn and Alison (pageturner 45) was first out of the hat.



Ah, Pink Hearts Society.  A group after my own heart. 



Thank you for inviting me over for a visit!  I want to tell you all about my new book and send out a prize to one of our visitors, but let me extend an invitation to come Riding With The Top Down with my friends and me whenever you feel like getting a little wind in your hair.
Now, about writing the kind of book we all love to read...
The Dakotas are made for Romance. 



The landscape is all powerful.  Like love, it is at once fearsome and fantastic.  It can make you, it can break you, but it cannot be ignored.   I remember the first time I drove—or was driven—from the airport, through Bismarck and down the two-lane highway that followed the Missouri River onto the prairie.  The town ended abruptly.  I was used to Western New England, where towns butt up against each other, one after another.  But out there on the Great Plains, suddenly there was nothing but grass and sky as far as I could see.  It took my breath away.  Every friend and relative who came from the East to visit me over the years had the same experience.  So this is what they mean by wide open spaces.  Suddenly, you’re not surrounded.  You’re barely sheltered. 
Suddenly, you’re not a cog in a wheel or an ant in an enormous colony.  You are part of something bigger.  The landscape is a major character in your journey.



Most of my stories are set in the Dakotas.  Most of my heroes are either cowboys or Indians or both, and many of my heroines have come to this land from somewhere else.  It’s an experience I know well.  My husband is Lakota, and he was a cowboy when I met him.  Like the horse and the coyote and the hawk—but unlike any other man I’d ever met—that man was a beautiful extension of his surroundings. 

My next book, ONE BRAVE COWBOY (September 20 release, Harlequin Special Edition), is the story of courageous people harboring shy hearts.  This is basically the way the book’s back cover sets it up:





The name’s Cougar.  Just Cougar.  One name is enough.



Behind the bravado is a complex man.  Indian cowboy, war hero, walking wounded in search of answers.  Cougar needs to build a new life, and he’ll start with what he loves most.  Horses.  Which brings him to the Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary and into the lives of ranch volunteer Celia Banyon and her very special son.
The boy suffered an unspeakable accident, and his mother feels equally unspeakable guilt.  But maybe a man like Cougar can her back from the brink with the offer of a chance to feel like a woman again.  Now, suddenly, one name isn’t enough for what they might have—healing, love, family, forever.  The risks are great, but the possibilities are endless.

The vast prairie setting helps bring this emotional story to life.  Everything in Celia’s life is in need of repair.  She’s moved into an isolated farmhouse that’s very much a fixer-upper, and Cougar, like all cowboys, carries a well-stocked toolbox in his pickup.  And like all cowboys, he likes to roam.  But he needs a home, preferably one with a place to keep a horse and an unrestricted view of the sky.  In the Dakotas, the night sky is full of all kinds of possibilities.  Setting a scene under the stars invites the characters to imagine, to remember, to share secrets and dreams in the dark.  Setting a scene during a sudden storm—the kind that rolls across the prairie like an angry lover—tosses characters together in whatever shelter they can find while the weather has its way.  Wind and rain on the outside easily redouble intimacy inside. There’s an old car in Celia’s barn—a 1966 Ford Fairlane left behind by a previous owner—and when the rafters start rattling, that cozy back seat is pretty inviting.




ONE BRAVE COWBOY is the fifth book I’ve linked to the Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary and Mustang Sally’s Wild Horse Training Competition.  It’s a setting I often dream about and a collection of characters I’ve truly come to love.  I hope you will, too.  Tell me about your favorite romantic settings.  I’ll send an autographed copy of one of the first books in the series—your choice—to one of our visitors who posts a question or comment today.  One Brave Cowboy is currently available in bookshops and online -- both in print and as an e-book, including at Amazon.com



ONE BRAVE COWBOY will be a featured alternate for the Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs.  Kathleen is thrilled to announce that seven of her most popular novels will soon be available in digital format and trade paperback through Bell Bridge Books.  You can check up on Kathleen and read excerpts from her books at kathleeneagle.com


Friday, September 09, 2011

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: Cowboys & Aliens

Riva/Harlequin Presents Extra author Heidi Rice gets all mashed up over the new Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford multiplex blockbuster.

These days it's very hard to get my 13-year-old son to attend a movie with his parents, because he thinks it's super uncool. So you've gotta love a movie that has something not just to tempt him, but also the rest of us as well... And this clever concept genre mash-up did that in spades for my little troop. Here was a movie that promised a surfete of alien SFX for the too-cool-for-school son, lots of rugged cowboy action for my husband and best of all vintage tottie Harrison Ford and hottie tottie Daniel Craig looking sexy on horseback for me!!

What's not to like?

We'd seen the trailer, and were expecting something fast and furious and action packed but with enough character development to keep us oldies entertained, too (ie, we were more than happy to let our teenage son go to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon with his mates!). And boy, were we not disappointed.

Everything Cowboys & Aliens promised it delivered.

All wrapped up in an atmospheric aliens-invade-the-old-west story that came complete with Harrison Ford doing a great turn as a nasty cattle baron who gets an even nastier wake-up call when his spoilt rotten son gets whisked into the wild blue yonder by 'demons'; Daniel Craig doing the strong, silent and solitary gunslinger thang to a tee as the stranger who arrives in town with a strange mechanical device on his wrist and no recollection of who he is or why he's there (move over Clint, there's a new Man with No Name in town); enigmatic beauty Olivia Wilde who has a really big surprise in store for everyone (including the audience); cowboys, injuns, some show-stopping shoot outs and a cast of grizzled supporting characters who'd do any John Wayne film proud. And then there's that rip-roaring plot which throws them all together into a seemingly impossible quest to destroy something with more speed, more fire-power and a lot less scruples than even the most degenerate cowboy.

There was also a nice line in wry humour which Harrison made the most of during a campfire scene that had me laughing out loud and harked back nicely to his Indiana Jones days. And even a hint of rugged romance between Dan and Liv.

However, if I had one complaint at the end of the two-hour plus bums-glued-to-seats movie extravaganza it was that there could have been a mite more kissing (only one real smackeroo in the whole thing)...





But guess what my 13-year-old son's verdict was: "Cool, but what was with all that kissing?" So I guess that means he won't be coming to see One Day with me next week! Shame!

Heidi's next Riva/Harlequin Presents Extra, On the First Night of Christmas..., is out in November in the UK and the US. She'll be running a comp on her blog to win a copy and doing a Goodreads giveaway mighty soon. So watch that space and check out the two tempting covers. You can contact her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter (@HeidiRomRice) and on her website.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What are you Reading Thursday - Barbara Wallace

Harlequin Romance Author Barbara Wallace confesses to addicition to Self Help Books.

It’s true. I’m one of those people with a perverse addiction to self-help and psychology literature. I’m not sure, but I think I might have been a psychiatrist in a previous life. Either that or I was Rochester’s wife.

Anyway, that said, when I see a new self help book on the shelves, I can’t help but flip through to see if the author has provided any new information. What I’ve discovered over the years is that this obsession has actually made me a better writer. Or perhaps I should say reading them has helped me navigate the choppy waters of my writing career.
I mean let’s face it; we writers spend a lot of time in our heads. Way too much sometimes. We spend a lot of time slaving on our craft alone. And then when our work is finished, we subject ourselves – willingly I might add – to judgment by others. If ever a group was tailor made for pop psychology, it’s the creative world.

Two of the self-help books I tackled this summer were What to Say when You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter and Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff. (Judith also wrote the book Positive Energy, a book that gave me a great deal of insight into the idea you can hold on to a dream too tightly.) Like any self-help book, there was advice I found too simplistic. If changing your life was as simple as following the steps in a guide book, we’d all be completely happy human beings. But I did read a few pieces of information that made me pause, such as “Your brain believes what it is programmed to believe. To truly change your thinking, you have to undo years of programming.” And so now I have a sign up on my mirror that I read every day that will help reprogram my belief about writing productivity. From Orloff, I relearned the value of meditation and how to listen to my subconscious when dealing with a stressful situation. So now I try to remember to deep breathe a few times a day when I’m racing towards a fast approaching deadline.
The list goes on and on. Fact is I’ve learned – and relearned – dozens of tidbits from these books, all of which I’ve something and I honestly believe these tiny pieces of information are what helped me find writing success. At the very least, I’ve helped keep a whole bunch of other authors in business by buying their books.

I’m curious now. I know I’m not the only one with a love of these books. What’s your favorite self-help book and how did it help you with your writing career? Who knows? Maybe I’ll find another one to add to my library!
Barb Wallace’s latest Harlequin Romance fits right in with her self-help book obsession. Her heroine Zoe Hamilton is an advice columnist. This summer Zoe’s headed to the New England coast to lick her divorce wounds. She promises herself she won’t get involved with trying to “save” her reclusive neighbor, ex Army officer Jake Meyers. But Jake’s green eyes are so haunted, Zoe soon finds she can’t help but try and heal The Heart of a Hero. The question is, in doing so, will she lose her own? To learn more about Barbara Wallace and her books, visit her website http://www.barbarawallace.com/. Her latest The Heart of Hero is available now for purchase at all good bookstores and online, including E-harlequin and Amazon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Writer's Wednesday - Productivity Tricks

This week PHS editor Donna Alward shares a few tricks for increasing your productivity - and meeting that deadline stress-free.

Last year Michelle Styles introduced me to chunk writing. The idea is brilliant in its simplicity - you sit down and you don't get up until you've written 750 words. Then you take a break and then sit down and write another chunk. Three chunks a day produces a very respectable 2250 words.

This really worked for me. Some days I would struggle to get 750 and I'd be watching my word count on the bottom of my document, just WAITING to get to 750 so I could step away. Other times I'd get in the groove and zoom right by the 750 mark before taking a break. It broke the manuscript down into smaller, manageable parts followed by a reward. Simple. Genius.

This year I've found something that works in a similar way that I love as well. While Twitter can be a total timesuck, I did find this one really great thing that I can hold up and say "but you see? Twitter IS good for writing and not just procrastination!"

It's called #1k1hr.

That's the hashtag and someone who is ready to sit down and get to it will put out a call - usually 15 minutes or so before they're ready to go. So a tweet of "I'm doing #1k1hr on the :15. Going to heat up coffee first. Any takers?" starts the ball rolling. Then you can join in. You start at the :15 and you end on the :15 and then report back to the participants how you did.

It's still chunk writing, only a chunk of time rather than words. Yes, the goal is one thousand words in an hour. You might get more. You might get less. BUT it achieves several things:

  • You commit to putting your butt in the chair and writing for an hour. No distractions.
  • You are in a group - you're in it together, and it can spur you on
  • You report back, and if you're competitive at all, you don't want to be the person saying "I only managed 150 words"
  • You cheer each other on, making it a really fun, positive thing
Then most people take a break and go back. The call will go out again, and you can join or not. When it comes to editing, I look at pages revised rather than word count. The word goal can be secondary - what is most important, at least for me, is the commitment to sitting down and focusing for an hour without distraction. The words come as the result automatically.

#1k1hr totally saved my bacon during my last deadline and I'm using it again as I get closer and closer to finishing my current WIP!




Donna's October release, HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART, is already available on eharlequin. You can read an excerpt and more at her site, www.donnaalward.com

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Deadline Recipes :: KISS!

The Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke is not here today to talk about Gene Simmons' band or his impending marriage. Instead, she's going to show you what's for dinner.

I love cookbooks. I read them the way I do novels, front to back, cover to cover. My favorite recipes to read are the ones I know I'll never make. Beef Wellington? When am I ever going to have that kind of time?

As much as I love new recipes and exotic tastes, there is a risk involved in new recipes. And I don't really want to put all that effort into a flub! New recipes are for post-book time, when I try to make up to my family all the nights I hid away in my office.

So, when I'm in the home stretch or nearing a deadline, I stick with what I know works, is fast and easy. I rely on ingredients to make the meal, not skill.

Take lunch...after a morning in the garden, the tomatoes were looking especially delicious. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Yum. I sauteed the chicken in olive oil and herbs from the garden. Fresh pepper and kosher salt...delicious!

Proscuitto & melon with mache lettuce (dressed in lemon and olive oil) with garlic toasts?  It is as good as it looks.


Baby lettuce salad made better with white balsamic vinaigrette, fresh berries, and goat cheese (found everything at the farmers market). Fantastic, plus I felt all green since everything was sourced locally.

When time gets tight, nothing works better than Keep It Simple Silly! The fewer ingredients, the less preparation...the happier you'll be!

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, September 05, 2011

Male on Monday - Men Who Dance



Today Fiona Harper tells us why men who twirl and skip and jump make her heart skip a beat...


My love affair with men who dance started young, with black-and-white films on the television on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Watching some of the big Hollywood musicals, I was swept away into a world of romance, and I grew to love any film that featured Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. And then Grease came along, and I added John Travolta to my list. And since then they have been so many wonderful men dancing on both the big and small screen.


Current favourite is Adam Garcia, cheeky Aussie tapper, who I could just eat up with a spoon. Not just because he's a great dancer, but after having seen him judge on UK TV is got to dance, I discovered he was really funny to. Dancing and humour? In my book, that's a killer combination! And look at the pic on the right... Told you he was cheeky!

And let's face it, there's a definite romantic fantasy element to a man who hasn't got two left feet. I'm not quite sure what it is. Maybe it's about the display of masculine power. Maybe it's the sensual idea of moving in harmony with a member of the opposite sex. Perhaps it's the fact that dancing often shows a unspoken emotions, and we know how easy men find that ! To be honest, I'm not sure I really care why. I just like to have a ring-side seat.

So what about you? Who's your favourite dancing heartthob, and why?


Fiona's latest book, Swept Off Her Stillettos, is out this week in North America (Harlequin Romance) and is available in the UK too (Mills & Boon RIVA)

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...?