Saturday, February 04, 2012

Writer's Workspace: Barbara White Daille

PHS is delighted to have a sneak peek into where Harlequin American Romance author Barbara White Daille creates her books


Hi.  I'm happy to be here today to share a little bit about my writing space.
Growing up in a family of six, I sometimes found the only way to get time alone for reading or homework was to go into my bedroom and close the door.  While that helped me develop good study habits, it sure didn't do much to strengthen my powers of concentration!
Often, having too many "things" around can distract me. 

When my husband and I moved from an apartment to a new home, I grabbed the extra small bedroom all to myself to make into an office.  Time alone.  Peace and quiet. 

But...

To keep the room looking nice, we bought a computer armoire.  It's a beautiful piece of furniture.  The best thing about it is, when you're done working for the day, you can close the doors on top and fold in the desk and file cabinet on the bottom, and you're back to your nice piece of furniture.



The other great advantage to the armoire is that the upper doors hide a dozen shelves that you can fill with books and manuals and knickknacks.


The key word in that previous paragraph is "hide."  I wouldn't dare show you the contents of all my shelves at one time.  Or maybe ever.  LOL  But I will share the shelf I like best.  See if you can tell why it's my favorite.  (smile)

Usually, I can deal with all the "stuff" around me, but when my mind is very full—when I'm in the middle of a manuscript, for example—it doesn't take a lot for me to long for quiet, peaceful surroundings again.
When things get to that point, I move here:


And when that still seems busy—too close to the Internet, you know (smile)—I go here:

All of the above places work for me, just at different times.  I'm sure the locations you've chosen work for you, too.



No matter what kinds of projects you're involved in—writing, scrapbooking, organizing the weekly menu, and everything else—what do you crave around you?  A lot of "stuff" to excite your creativity or to serve as visual memory aids?  Or a space filled with peace and quiet?


All my best,

Barbara


To read more about the books Barbara White Daille creates visit Barbara's website http://barbarawhitedaille.com/  Be sure to look out for her recent release. The Rodeo Man's Daughter.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A Date With Kate - What is A Hero?

On Wednesday evening  the Babe Magnet and I braved freezing temperatures and miserable sleety rain to watch a show.   A dance show. Brendan Cole –  the ‘bad boy’ dancer from Strictly Come Dancing – has  a solo tour and we had  tickets.  It was the perfect evening for a romance novelist – perfect  research – drama,  passion, elegance, glamour  - romance  . .. oodles of romance even if it was deliberately planned, carefully staged, practiced again and again until it was so skilfully executed.

And if you wanted to consider the male physique - it was very difficult not to! – there were  lean, toned bodies,  powerful legs, muscular arms – all displayed to great effect in fitted trousers, sleeveless vests or the elegance of a perfectly fitted tailcoat.  All the things we ask of our heroes when we write.

But we are told  (It’s not a ‘rule’ – I don’t believe in rules, but it is often emphasised) that  male dancers don’t work as heroes.  They are a ‘hard sell’. Along with other artists  - painters , writers, musicians. It’s not any  feeling that a dancer might be gay -  Mr Cole  himself,   Mikhail Baryshnikov and so many others make a nonsense of this.  So why , I wondered  as  we drove home from the show  - why is it that these  talents  - talents that I personally would find extremely attractive in a man -  are considered difficult  to  ‘sell’ as part of a hero’s make up.

There’s no doubt about the appeal of the Mediterranean lover, the sheikh, the billionaire, the Prince. Or if you prefer your heroes rather less  of a fantasy – the cowboy, the doctor, the architect.  But the creative arts are still underrepresented in the  world of romance.  I once had an argument with an editor who had object ted to  the  fact that my hero was a music producer – not a rock star or  concert pianist   but a  Simon Cowell type figure who managed   the careers of  singers, and other musicians.    This was some years ago so I wonder what would happen now if I tried to give my hero the same background and occupation.

 Are we in danger of limiting our heroes too much?   Are we at risk of creating  ‘hero’ templates that are all too much the same – the sheikh, the  cowboy – the billionaire who sometimes doesn’t even reveal how he actually made his money – he just has it!   Personally I’m all for more individuality, more scope, more ‘talents’ in the heroes I read about   - and write about.

 I’m running a workshop on writing romance  for Valentine’s Day. One of the exercises I  do  for building characters is to project a large image of a handsome man  (Hugh Jackman always works wonderfully)  on a screen and ask the students to tell me  who he – as their hero –  is. What is his name? Age?  Occupation?  Family background?  Interests?  I’ve used this  a lot and when it works well, it shows that  everyone has their own ideas of what makes  this man 'hero material' - putting in ideas from their own personal preferences and beliefs.   But recently I’ve noticed that, sadly, the answers that come back are becoming more and more from people who are thinking of ‘what makes a Mills &  Boon/Harlequin hero?’ rather that what makes a hero.

So – going back to basics, I was wondering  just what makes a hero for you?  Is it his  nationality –  does the Latin Lover  always win out against the ‘home grown’  Brit or  Aussie? Is it vital for him to have a huge fortune  - and are the current set of financial  crises going to strip the Greek  billionaire of his role of leader of the pack ?   Do you find  artistic talents appealing or a turn off? What about sportsmen?  There was a recent continuity  featuring rugby players but would that have worked as well with soccer stars or  athletes?

What are you prepared to  accept  - and where are you just not prepared to compromise?  For me  it’s not what  a man does – how he makes a living -  that makes him a hero  but the man himself.  I’ve always said that a hero has to be a man of honour, a man I can respect.  He may make mistakes and act wrongly  as a result of those mistakes  but  those mistakes need to come out of the sense of honour that drives him. I can’t  see a cheat , someone who is deliberately cruel without  justification (even if wrong) as a hero. I can cope with a man who has a problem with the particular heroine I set him up against  -  a man who thinks, because of evidence that seems to show that’s what she is  - that she is nothing but a cheat and a gold-digger.  But a man who  thinks that all women are like that? Who is  actually   a misogynist at heart – but will make an exception for this one woman?  He’s never going to appeal to me.  And I love  competence – someone who is really good at what they do. Which brings me back to Brendan Cole again.   I could quite easily  build a hero on  him – that bad boy reputation  would be  great, the physique, the success . . . but would  I get away with actually having a dancer as a hero? What do you think?

OK  - I admit it – I’m trying to pick your brains here. As well as that Valentine’s Day workshop, I’m running the  Romance Writing Course for the  Fishguard Writing Weekend in a couple of weeks’ time too.  I’ll be talking there about what makes a great romantic hero - And I do feel that some of the ideas of just what makes a hero  are  in a state of flux and possible change right now. But are these superficial  changes  rather than  the real foundations of a real hero?  

I’d love to know what you think. What makes a hero for you ? What are you happy to see in a romantic hero – and what would  turn you right off?  Are there some things you can cope with , no matter how  bad, provided they are well  written and  the characters truly developed? Or are there some things that are absolute, total no-noes, something you  could never ever accept  in  any man  who is a hero for you?

Kate's latest hero is Carlos Diablo in the upcoming The Devil and Miss Jones which is out in Mills & Boon Modern in  the UK in March, and in  USA  in Presents Extra in April

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Introducing... Island Nights trilogy by Kira SInclair

Blaze Author Kira Sinclair introduces her latest trilogy Island Nights


Who doesn’t love a tropical paradise?  Aside from my propensity to burn, I can’t imagine anything better than sitting in a hammock on a beach somewhere, a book in my hands and a cold drink stuck in the sand.  Especially if that paradise comes with a sexy man to share the sunshine and steamy nights!


So none of the heroines in my upcoming Island Nights trilogy start out with a man at their beck and call...I can promise you they end up with a devoted hero who would do anything to make them happy.  And in the meantime they get to enjoy the amenities available to them at Escape, an exclusive adults-only resort set on a private Caribbean island.

The island has a bit of a tumultuous history.  Not to mention a local legend that says anyone who visits finds their heart’s desire...even if it isn’t what they came looking for.



Lena Fuller just wants some peace and quiet after the future she envisioned falls apart at the altar.  What she doesn’t expect is to fall for her longtime best friend, Colt Douglas, who accompanies her on the honeymoon in her ex-fiancé’s place.  Sometimes it takes getting out of your comfort zone to recognize the things right in front of your face.  



Elle Monroe wants to recover the painting stolen from her several years ago.  Instead she finds a difficult, sexy head of security who thwarts her efforts at every turn. Although being under constant surveillance definitely has its perks...



Marcy McKinney was looking for a job and an escape from scandal when she came to work at Escape.  What she found was an exasperating boss in owner Simon Reeves. They’ve shot sparks off each other for two years...who knew pushing Marcy to the breaking point could transform all that simmering tension into bedroom fireworks?



What would the island give to you if you visited Escape?  What’s your heart’s desire?



Kira



Kira Sinclair’s first foray into writing romance was for a high school English assignment and not even being forced to read the Scotland set historical aloud to the class could dampen her enthusiasm…although it definitely made her blush.  She sold her first book to Harlequin Blaze in 2007 and hasn’t looked back.  Her upcoming Island Nights trilogy begins in February with the release of Bring It On, followed by Take It Down in March and Rub It In in April.  She loves to hear from readers! You can contact her through her website www.KiraSinclair.com or directly at Kira@KiraSinclair.com. 

  

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Jacqueline Diamond on Writing

Prolific Harlequin American Author Jacqueline Diamond shares some of her top tips for writing a series romance
Those of us who write series or category romances sometimes run into people who’ve never read our books and who assume that the clichés must be true. Surely we “churn” out these stories, using simple formulas and flowery prose.
As a writing teacher and as an author who’s learned from every one of my 90 published novels, I only wish it were that easy. Not by a long shot!
The heart of any romance is the deep emotional bond between hero and heroine. This translates into a connection to the reader as well. If I don’t feel the emotions, you won’t either. There are no short cuts or tricks. Moreover, there must be real differences that divide these people, not simple misunderstandings or petty jealousy, but issues of trust and character that could drive people apart in real life, too.
In a way, I’m lucky when it comes to arguing with people who look down on category. Having also sold mysteries (Danger Music, The Eyes of a Stranger), a thriller (Echoes) and a fantasy novel (Shadowlight), I can honestly say that the short romances aren’t easier. They’re just different.
The research must be genuine, too. For my Safe Harbor Medical miniseries, I look into the latest developments in fertility treatments. In addition, a close friend who’s a nurse reviews my medical scenes. The Detective’s Accidental Baby also draws on my news experience reporting on police, and was read by a friend who’s a retired sheriff’s investigator.
But when you sit down with one of my books, my behind-the-scenes work should simply vanish. My goal is for you to get lost in a story and fall in love along with the characters. I like to think that the doubters and naysayers would do the same. Wouldn’t that surprise them?
 
The author of 90 novels—75 of them for Harlequin—Jacqueline Diamond has also issued a book of tips for writers called How to Write a Novel in One (Not-so-easy) Lesson, available for e-readers such as Nook and Kindle. Her February Harlequin American Romance, The Detective’s Accidental Baby, is the seventh book in her Safe Harbor Medical miniseries. Jackie has received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times Magazine and has twice finaled for the Rita Award. She is a former Associated Press reporter in Los Angeles.
Synopsis of The Detective’s Accidental Baby:Nurse Erica Benford may work with fertility patients, but she has no interest in babies. Then an impulsive affair with a detective leads to an unplanned pregnancy – along with the discovery that the man she trusted was secretly investigating her. The Detective's Accidental Baby is available wherever good boks or ebooks are sold.
To learn more about Jacqueline and her books visit her website  www.jacquelinediamond.com
 or follow @jacquediamond (Twitter) for writing tips

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deadline Recipe: Four Layer Pie

Harlequin Intrigue Author Jana DeLeon shares one of her favourite pies -- 4 Layer Pie.
Being from Louisiana, holiday celebrations with my family always provide an array of delicious food. But the one common denominator is always the 4-layer pie. By the time we’re done consuming the meal, we’re all usually stuffed, but if someone breaks out the pie, everyone has a piece for fear of it all being gone later.



I think the pie is the perfect dessert for me as it’s representative of how I write – adding layer by layer of delicious goodness, letting it sit for a bit, then polishing it off, and serving it up.



4-Layer Pie


1 stick melted butter

1 cup flour

¾ - 1 cup chopped pecans

 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup Cool Whip

2 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix*



* Two small boxes or if more pudding is desired, 1 large and 1 small box



Mix together the butter, flour and chopped nuts.

Press into bottom of a 9x9 pan.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, then allow to cool.

Mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar and Cool Whip, then spread the misture over the cooled crust.

Prepare the pudding mix according to the package directions.

Spread the pudding over the white layer

Chill the pie until cold.

Top the pie with cool whip.

Sprinkle with pecans or chocolate (if desired)

Refrigerate overnight then cut into squares.



Jana’s next book, The Lost Girls of Johnson’s Bayou, takes readers deep into the murky swamps and dark secrets in the bayous of Louisiana.

 Visit her website to find out more about Jana and her books. www.janadeleon.com




Monday, January 30, 2012

Male On Monday: Eddie Cibrain plus giveaway!

Harlequin Special Edition Author Cindy Kirk explains about why Eddie Cibrain really reflects her current hero and has 3 books up for grabs.

Thanks to the Pink Heart Society for allowing me to guest blog today.  I’m really excited because my latest Harlequin Special Edition, Jackson Hole Valentine, is my 25th book for Harlequin!  And, better yet, my vision of the hero of that book (which is on shelves now) is reflected on the cover.

First a little teaser about Jackson Hole Valentine so you can get a feel for who the hero is:

When Margaret Fisher’s friends were killed in a tragic accident, she suddenly found herself co-guardian of the couple’s six-year-old son.  Cole Lassiter was the last man she ever wanted to see again after he’d broken her heart in high school, but she’d do anything–even move into his house–to be a mother for Charlie.

Successful entrepreneur Cole still felt betrayed by Meg…and couldn’t imagine sharing anything with her, let alone a son.  But while adolescent wounds ran deep, so did their very grown-up attraction for one another.  And as they learned to be good parents to Charlie, the mismatched pair were also learning about forgiveness–and the power of forever love.

Like most authors, I’ve had covers where the hero looks NOTHING like I envisioned him.  Growing up I was an avid romance reader. (I started out reading Harlequin Presents)  I can’t tell you how much I hated it when the hero on the cover didn’t match the way I saw him in my head. Back then I thought the man on the cover was how the author saw the hero.  Now I know that’s not always the case.  J

Anyway, back to Cole Lassiter.  I love dark-haired leading men with blue eyes.  But while Cole may have blue eyes, the man who most accurately reflects my vision of Cole is Eddie Cibrian (who has brown eyes).  Still, I think the cover gods smiled on me this time.

Take a look at the cover of Jackson Hole Valentine:


Then, take a look at some photos of Eddie Cibrian:


Of course, it’s not an exact match but it’s close enough to make me happy. 

The thing about a hero is, although what’s on the outside fuels the initial attraction, it’s what he’s like on the inside that makes the heroine (and  us)  fall in love with him.  Cole is a great guy.  He’s a man who has overcome many obstacles to become a successful business owner.  He’s a person who knows what it’s like to struggle in school and feel stupid, even though he’s very intelligent.  Most importantly, he’s not afraid to look at where he’s fallen short in the past and attempt to make things right.

Out of the twenty-five books I’ve written for Harlequin, there are some leading men who hold a special place in my heart.   Cole Lassister is one of them.

In celebration of my 25th book for Harlequin, I’m giving away three copies of Jackson Hole Valentine.

All you need to do is comment on this post and tell me what quality you like to see in a hero to be entered into the drawing.

Let me also shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who’s bought my books and posted a good review.  I appreciate your support!

To read more about Cindy Kirk and her books, visit her website http://www.cindykirk.com/ . Jackson Hole Valentine is available wherever good books and ebooks are sold.