Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wild Card Weekend : Writing Holiday Stories

Pink Heart Editor Donna Alward pops in on this November weekend to chat about getting in the holiday spirit - for writing special stories.

I love Christmas. You'd sometimes not know it, because there are times that all the rushing around drives me crazy. There is nothing calming and wonderful about feeling pulled in a dozen different directions while the day suddenly feels a few hours shorter than it should be. There's a lot of juggling that happens at Christmas time and sometimes it makes me a little crazy.

But I love Christmas anyway. I love the carols, the sappy movies, the hot cocoa, the cookies (oh yes, the cookies!) and the colours. I love shiny wrapping paper and bows and boughs of greenery and twinkly lights. I love the breath clouds that form in the chilly air, the rosy cheeks and snuggling under a blanket while the fire blazes.

So isn't it fortunate that I'm also writing a holiday story right now as well? There are carols, rosy-cheeked children, a moonlight sleigh ride and of course, cookies! And there's romance. A little sadness, but also some victories along the way.

And most of all there's the discovery of what is truly important - not the fancy wrappings and expensive trappings but simple beauty, generosity, and acceptance.

Sigh. If that doesn't give someone a dose of good cheer, I don't know what will!

Donna's latest release is HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART, out in Australia and New Zealand this month! For more info check out her site at www.donnaalward.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: Cedar Rapids

Riva/Presents Extra author Heidi Rice gets all warm and glowy about a naughty little gem of a movie - which has some terrific things to say about friendship.

Now, I had originally planned to do a post this month on the new Jane Eyre movie with the delicious Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester. And while that movie was a wonderfully evocative new version of Charlotte Bronte's gothic romance (and Michael was suitably brooding and delicious), I bet you've all already seen it, or are planning to see it. So instead I decided to point you all in the direction of a small, indie movie which most of you have probably never heard of.

On the surface Cedar Rapids is a film about the rather dull subject of insurance salesman — who, let's face it, genuinely get a pretty bad rap on the big screen (Double Indemnity anyone?) — but what it's really about is never judging people before you know them and the importance of true friendships. Which are pretty big subjects for such a small movie.

So to kick off, Ed Helms is the naive, straitlaced and rather po-faced small town salesman who genuinely believes in the product he's selling, but has always been in the shadow of his more charismatic colleague - the local office's top salesman who journey's every year to the industry's annual convention — dominated by a hopelessly pompous and moralistic big-wig who thinks that God is somehow intricately involved with the workings of the insurance industry. But then Ed's ultra-successful and clean-cut colleague meets a sudden (and surprisingly tawdry) end on the eve of the big convention and the naive Ed is packed off in his stead. Determined to do his best to win the coveted Gold Award, Ed is given strict instructions not to mess up, and most important of all not to befriend the crude, lewd and decidedly unstraitlaced John C Reilly.

Needless to say, Ed's big convention starts to go instantly awry once he's sharing a room with the incorrigible Reilly and gentle giant Isiah Whitlock Jr. Under Reilly, Whitlock Jr and the zany Anne Heche's tutelage pretty soon Ed's doing karaoke, getting plastered, skinny dipping in the hotel pool, having a one-night stand, befriending prostitutes, being beat-up by biker gangs in crack houses and generally discovering that making new friends can be awesome (if at times a little scary). Best of all Ed discovers the very important point that just because a person drinks too much, smokes too much, swears like a trooper and has the crudest sense of humour on the planet, it doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. And similarly, the more po-faced and vocally moralistic among us aren't necessarily good people either.



It's a sweet, smart and at times rauccously funny feel-good movie with a wonderfully soulful message (and a couple of good in-jokes for fans of The Wire, like Moi). I'd highly reccommend it, although if you don't like your dialogue fruity you may want to turn down the volume at times.

Heidi's latest book — the sweet, sexy and soulful festive romance On the First Night of Christmas — is out now in the UK and soon to hit shelves in the US. You can contact her on her blog, her facebook page, her website or on Twitter (@HeidiRomRice).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What I am Reading… On A Kindle High!



Brigid Coady admits to temptation of the electronic kind


I am now the proud owner of a Kindle. I might have mentioned this before and if I have I apologise. What I am loving about the Kindle is that as soon as I think of a book… BAM! It is there on my screen ready for my reading delight.

The sales of romance books in electronic format is incredibly high. We can all have different opinions on why this is the case but I think it means that the world loves a 'happy ever after'

I know I do!

I have been treating myself to some great Harlequin Mills & Boon that I missed the first time round plus more.




My first download was ‘Swept Off Her Stilettos’ by Fiona Harper. I know Fiona and heard her speak at the RNA Conference this year about this book so I HAD to get it. Was brilliant as usual.





After a flurry of Georgette Heyer downloads inspired by the RNA’s Regency Readers Day (was amazing) I downloaded yet more Fiona Harper in ‘Blind Dates and Other Disasters’ which she shares with Ally Blake and Barbara Hannay.









I am currently reading ‘My Fake Fiancee’ by Nancy Warren… phew! HOT!









I am looking forward to a mad time at work to be over so I can fill my Kindle with all my favourite category romances.

What would you download?

Brigid is currently in revision hinterland yet again... or will be once the day job calms down.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Deadline Recipe Tuesday: apple crumble

This is a really, really quick pudding to make (and it can bake while you’re eating the main course and, um, talking too much. At least, that’s what happens on Sunday lunchtimes in our house). I made it this weekend, with apples from our own tree. But I owe you a huge apology because I forgot to take a picture… (I got distracted by fireworks, but that's another story!)

What you need to serve 4:

4 large cooking apples
100g plain flour
50g butter
50g brown sugar
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon (or more to taste)
50g rolled oats

Method:
Prepare the apples: peel, core and slice, then layer in an ovenproof dish.

Make the crumble: rub the butter into the flour until the ‘breadcrumb’ stage, then stir in the sugar, cinnamon and oats.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the apples, then bake at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes.

Serve with – well, whatever takes your fancy. Custard, cream, ice cream?

Enjoy :)

In the US, Kate’s gelati book – A Moment on the Lips – is on shelves now, and you can still get it in the UK from the M&B website.
You can find out more about the books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)

Monday, November 07, 2011

MALE ON MONDAY: GARRETT HEDLUND

Elle Kennedy brings Garrett Hedlund to the Male On Monday party... and she's got a giveaway too!



Oh, Garrett Hedlund. Where do I begin? His chiseled good looks? The smoking hot body? His talent as an actor?


No.

For me, it's his voice. If you've seen Country Strong (and if you haven't, you really must) you probably know what I'm talking about. He can carry a tune like nobody's business. And that deep, sexy voice....LORD.

I have never heard anything like it.

And, okay, the looks don't hurt. I mean, I always thought he was a good looking guy, but it wasn't until I heard him sing that I really swooned.

What is it about a man with a guitar?


Clearly, he likes the beach.

And the beach likes him.

A lot.


Even in these ridiculous leopard pants, I still find him attractive.

You might also know the 27 year old actor from movies such as Troy, Four Brothers or Tron. That's right. He's versatile too. You'll also be able to catch him in the upcoming film, On the Road.

Tall, rugged, handsome, talented, with a voice that makes you weak-in-the-knees. That's Garrett Hedlund. And that's why I've selected him for this week's Male on Monday.


So tell me what you think of Mr. Hedlund and you'll be entered in a draw to win a copy of my latest book, Missing Mother-To-Be!