Thursday, October 20, 2016

Writer's Wednesday -- Taking Research Too Far

Anne McAllister has just started a new book.  She has taken research too far.

I love research.  It is generally the most fun part of the whole writing process.  I get to meet interesting people, do things I've never done before, fit them into my plot, and write about them.  What's not to like?

Well, a couple of things . . .

Two weeks ago I was invited to participate in  four-book series with three other authors whom I admire very much indeed.  It was a little like being invited to act with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith or to play tennis with Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafa Nidal.

I said, "Yes.  Please."  (All the 'Oh, goody! You want me?' bits were reasonably well-controlled.)

And then we started collaborating on our four inter-woven stories.  I don't generally do a lot of thinking ahead outside of bare sketchy outlines.  But this time I made more of an effort because of, well, you know . . .Andre and Roger and Rafa. . .

So there's a part in the book where Something Disastrous befalls one of my characters.  Not disastrous for other people, though inconvenient, but for this guy, Big Problem.  He breaks his wrist.  I've broken my ankle four times.  I can extrapolate.  I can write this.

Except now I don't need to because last Friday I broke my left wrist.

My character is not a writer.  But it turns out writers (at least this one) need two hands to type.  And even if I hand wrote everything, can you say, "left-handed?"

So,  I've typed this all one-handed.  I know how my hero feels.  Well, except for the dislocated shoulder, and I'm having second thought about that.  Why tempt fate?

If you are a user of voice recognition software, I'd love to hear about your experience.
meanwhile I'm catching up on my reading.  Thank heavens for silver linings.

Three of Anne's first cowboys have recently been reprinted.  Look for Cowboys Don't Cry, Cowboys Don't Quit and Cowboys Don't Stay at various online booksellers in both print and e-book formats.  Coming after the first of the year are The Cowboy and the Kid  (RT's Series Book of the Year) and RITA-winner, Cowboy Pride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday Talk: Why I Love Romance

Pink Heart Society columnist Kristina Knight talks about why romance novels hold a special place in her heart. 

Last week, an author friend of mine mentioned that someone - a friend - had told her that she would never read her books because romance novels give women 'unrealistic expectations' about romance and relationships. 

I'm not going to lie, I've gotten my share of these comments, and 9 times out of 10, the comments aren't is response to something I've asked or is just offered as if there is something wrong with romance novels. As if romances should be hidden away or covered with old paper grocery bags. I remember a meme, and a lot of comments when e-readers first came into vogue, that the readers would make it easier for women to read romances, but to pretend that they were reading something more 'worthy' of their time and energies. I remember being frustrated by that thought, and a little angry. I've never been ashamed or even embarrassed by reading romances, and I'm not ashamed that I write them, either. I love romances and I'll tell you why: they give me realistic expectations of what I want my life to be like. 

Did romances make me think I would marry a billionaire? No. Did they make me think I should only date cowboys? No, but, really, I've known a lot of cowboys in my life, and if I'd fallen in love with one, I would be a happy woman, let me tell you.These are just a few of the expectations that romance novels have given me:

1) Good men (and women) are kind to the people around them, especially the people who they might have 'power' over - the cleaning staff, waitresses, puppies and kittens. 

2) How to ask for what I want - in bed and out of it. Because, really, who wants to live a life eating only bologna-and-mustard sandwiches when there is a smorgasbord of steak and chicken and pumpkin pie? Same goes for sex. Who wants to always be in Position A when there are fifty other options to try?

3) Consent is the key to, well, a good relationship. Real men don't manhandle women without consent. Real women don't manhandle men without consent. Consent might be the sexiest thing in romance novels - and in life. 

4) Sexual pleasure isn't a dirty thing. It is a beautiful, compassionate and passionate event. Women have been repressed for centuries, and men, too, to some extent. Letting go of those inhibitions and hangups is a glorious thing. 

5) Women come in all shapes and sizes and the right man (or woman) will see beauty in our flaws. 

6) Everyone deserves to have that one person who is always there, who will stand by them, lift them up, and carry them back home. Love is deserved, by everyone, and working to find and hold on to love is worth every obstacle we have to climb to get to it. 

7)  'Happily Ever After' is only the beginning. So the hero and heroine have declared their love...that isn't where the story ends, and that is why I love, love, love series books. Getting those small glimpses into how my favorite heroine and hero are navigating life after 'I love you' while their friends and struggling just to get to the 'I love you' is a beautiful thing - and it reminds me to keep working on my own relationship. 

Okay, readers, what have romance novels taught you? Share in the comments!

Kristina Knight's latest release, What the Gambler Risks, released October 3 from 

Crimson Romance:

Twenty-something ice queen Sabrina Smith enjoys fame and fortune writing about her life of celibacy. The fact she's the Oldest Living (Supposed) Virgin in Vegas? Just keeps her readers interested in how she juggles dating, working and friendships in Sin City. 

Jase Reeves knows Sabrina's secret – that she's not nearly as cold as she would like people to think – and he's through keeping it. He didn't intend to have a one night stand with the Vegas Virgin but he can't get her out of his head. 

When Jase returns to Vegas, Sabrina has one goal: stay away from the handsome gambler before he melts her career – and her heart.

Amazon  B&N  KOBO  iBooks 

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Monday, October 17, 2016

Male on Monday by Melinda Curtis

I was at a book signing a week ago where I was asked to speak and of course one of the questions was where do you get your ideas?

Sometimes I get so busy that I want to say, I don't know.

But I didn't. I said I get inspired from snippets of real life, like my brother's ex-girlfriend. She battled breast cancer while they were dating, went into early menopause, stopped using birth control, and a few weeks after they broke up, she realized she was pregnant. Hello, secret baby story! (Yes, that's my work in progress)

But I should have taken a page from some of my fellow authors. They often say they have a love affair with an actor. So I thought today I'd post some attractive men who represent the types of heroes I write (tall, dark, sometimes with an edge - as in I might not be able to handle him). And along the way, I'll blurt out ideas for a romance. Feel free to play along and post your own ideas in the comment section.

Hhhmmm. This guy looks a little intense. Do you know what would be fun (as in an author's idea of fun - making a character suffer)? Trap him in a marriage of convenience!

This guy is so not serious. Maybe a paranormal YA story? Does he really seem like a hero. Maybe he's the token extra who gets eaten by the dragon.

Cumberbatch! Definitely a romantic suspense. The heroine would need to keep on her toes.

What is it about this guy's eyes that make me want to put him in a sexy story? I used to love reading the Blaze "Wrong Bed" series. Or maybe a best friends to lovers story?

Rock Hudson. I can't tell you how many times my mom watched Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. I'd put a heroine in heels for him (since I don't like to wear heels, I hate to force them on my heroines either). This would definitely be a rom-com!

Scruffy seems more approachable. This hero could fit anywhere - urban, small town. What about the pretend fiance?

Which hero would you choose and what type of romance would you put him in?

Happy Monday!

Melinda Curtis is an award winning, USA Today bestselling author of both sweet and sexy romances. Her latest romances are:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Think To Write

Well…of course you’ve got to think to write, but that’s not exactly what I mean here. It’s Wednesday- Writer’s Wednesday here at the Pink Heart Society Blog. Today is a time for sharing advice, tips, etc. with our fellow writers on what works in this wonderfully mad game we call the writing life. Today, I decided to share what has for me, become a writing habit that actually doesn’t require any writing at all. I honestly believe this habit of mine is one most writers have, but perhaps many of us don’t stop to think about how we might utilize it more effectively.

I used to apply this ‘technique’ at the beginning stages of my writing process. Before starting any new titles, I spent weeks-quite a few months at times- just thinking about the project ahead. Specifically, I spent this time conjuring my characters for the upcoming story. Who are they? What is their mindset? What’s their name? How’d they get such a name? What do they look like? What are their secrets? People often ask if my stories are character or plot driven. For me, those aspects go hand in hand, but I always say ‘character driven’. If characters don’t draw me in then it’s very difficult for me to continue the story no matter how dynamic the plot might be.

So, as I said, I used to apply this technique at the beginning stages of a project. Lately, I’ve started to rely on this habit even more. That could be because I’m now up before dawn regularly as my son’s bus arrives before 6:30am in the morning. Once he’s had breakfast and I’m convinced that he’s actually getting ready and not wasting time, I head downstairs to enjoy a hot cup of my Awake tea and enjoy the view from my living room windows. I keep the lights off and just enjoy the glow from the neighborhood lampposts. It’s a nice, quiet time with only the occasional vehicle or morning jogger moving past.

Sitting there with my tea and the atmosphere, inspires the best thoughts. Of course, I devote time to plotting out the day ahead, but the real purpose is to spend time with my story and characters. Because I’m up every morning around 5am and in my living room with my tea no later than 5:45, this thinking time has become a ritual. Even on the weekends or when my son has a day off from school, 
I’m up using that time to choreograph a new scene or review the scenes for the chapters I intend to complete that day. 

I find this to be an inspiring time that really wakes up my creativity. I encourage you to try it even if it’s only a couple of days a week. I’m sure that once you’re in front of your computer or; if you’re like me, have your pen in hand, you may find that your work is singing a little more brightly than usual.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Talk: Cliches That Need to Disappear

This month, PHS columnist Barbara Wallace talks about cliches she'd like to see disappear.

We've all read them, books so riddled cliches or stereotypes we practically pull a muscle from rolling our eyes.  At their minimum, they are the hallmark of predictable writing. Of lazy writing. Of average writing.   At their worst, they reinforce negative images.

Granted, sometimes they're inadvertent - a writer creates a well-rounded, thoughtful character that still hits some people as stereotypical.  And sometimes we don't realize we are using a cliche or stereotype because let's face it: stereotypes exist because they are widely held beliefs within our circle.

But mostly, writers lean on cliches because they're easier.  Under deadline pressure, we go for the easiest plot solution, or cut corners on secondary characters.  Thinking of a new twist on the familiar takes time and effort, and frankly, when your editor is breathing down your neck because your book needs to be finished in a week, your effort is busy putting out words to worry about whether your plot twist has been done before.

Even so, that's no excuse.  The best books are the ones that surprise us and move beyond the cliche.  Lately I've been creating a list of cliches I'd like to see benched for a while.  They include:

* Sassy black best friends
* Evil right-wing family values politicians
* "Fabulous" gay best friends
*Evil other women/ex-wives, etc.
* Heroines who believe what the evil other woman says without question
* Insta-lust

This isn't to say every book that uses these is automatically bad.  It simply means the writer has to work harder to keep me on the edge of the seat.  I also should point out that when I talk about cliches, I'm not talking about popular romance hooks.  I know readers have their favorite types of stories.  Some love Christmas romances, some like secret babies. Me? Give me a broken hero and I'm hooked.

But, let's face it, no matter how popular a story hook, a book loses something when it features cookie cutter characters and/or plots.  For example, if you can tell from page one that the super super staunch family values politician is going to be a hypocritical bad guy, the book loses some of its suspense.   But if the villain instead turns out to be the happy-go-lucky guy who runs the local homeless shelter?  Well then, that's a plot twist!

Therefore, my fellow writers, let's all promise to seek fresh twists on these time worn plots and characters, and give our readers not just average books, but great ones.

What about you? What romance cliches are you sick of reading?  Join in the conversation by commenting below

Barbara Wallace's latest book, CHRISTMAS BABY FOR THE PRINCESS features a lot of familiar romance hooks, hopefully with an original fresh fashion.  

Rescuing the pregnant princess! 
Faced with a royal scandal, pregnant princess Arianna fled to New York. But when a pickpocket leaves her penniless, she must turn to handsome restauranteur Max Brown for help… 
Max can't resist rescuing this enchanting stranger, even if her mysterious past makes him wary. But as his newest (and worst!) waitress brings festive sparkle into his solitary life, can he hope Arianna is here for life…not just for Christmas?

Available for Pre-Order Now (for November 1).

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Weekend Wildcard: That Dam Domme!

I’m shopping around for a new agent. To make some headway on that, I recently pitched the idea for the novel I’m already working on to a few agents I met at a writing conference. The main character is a Domme who gets involved with a non-kinky Alpha male type. This is the point where the agent I’m speaking with stops me cold. She says: “No one will buy that story. Women have enough weak men in their lives that they want to read about a take-charge man when they’re looking for an escape from reality.”

What this agent said completely blew my mind, and disappointed the hell out of me. The story I’ve been working on – for too long now – is really close to my heart for a few reasons and I want it to get out into the world, and I want it to do well. Plus, it’s sexy as hell. IMHO, obvs. But is that enough?

As a writer, the best advice to give - and follow – is “write what you love.” Write the stories that make your heart thrum with excitement, the stories that ignite your passion because nine times out of ten, the reader can sense your excitement and will happily follow you until the end of your story and on to the next. At the same time, as a writer who wants to make novel writing into a career, it’s almost a luxury to write what one wants and still sell well enough to successfully turn a passion into a living. It’s a chance you take with every new project – will my readers love it? Will it be worth my time? Will I love the final product? Questions whose answers vary according to the book that pops out.

As I go back and forth about my novel, thinking and re-thinking about markets and passion and everything else, I need something to keep me going. So, to provide a cheering section and inspiration for my fledgling story that will eventually see the light of day, I wanted to highlight some fab FemDom novels already out there in the world. Check them out and give them a read.

Beg for It by Megan Hart
A reunited lovers story that sizzles with hot sex, boss/employee dynamics, and a submissive alpha male who bends only for the right woman.

Natural Law by Joey W. Hill
An alpha male cop goes undercover as a submissive to find a killer. The only Domme he expects to find is the one responsible for the horrific murders, not the one who makes him fall willingly to his knees in submission.

Still by Ann Mayburn
A soldier suffering from PTSD meets a military doctor and Domme who has just what he needs to get him through the night, and through life.

Yes, Ma’am: Erotic stories of male submission
Brilliant and prolific anthologist, Rachel Kramer Bussel delivers a sexy collection of BDSM tales about men who say “yes, ma’am” and mean it.

**Let me know what you think: Is the idea of a man dropping to his knees for you a total turn-off – or would you order him to give you more?

Jamaican-born Lindsay Evans currently lives and writes in Atlanta, GA. A writer of sensual love stories and decadent erotica, she loves good food and romance and would happily travel to the ends of the earth for both.  Her latest book, BARE PLEASURES, will be available November 1st. Find out more about her books at  

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Tuesday Talk Time: Time Out, Time In

Pink Heart Society columnist and Harlequin Historical author Nicole Locke sings Time Out, Time In to the tune of Sunrise, Sunset.

There’s a lot in our daily life that keeps us busy. We’re pulled in so many directions by the clamouring voices of our family, our work, the news, politics, etc. In the case of a writer, we invite voices inside our head. The absolute verbal yanking of our attention can be vast, overwhelming.

Then there’s the physical demands of getting to work, the kids to school, the after school clubs, their homework which becomes yours (I’d like to ban cake sales – except, well, I eat the profits).  There are days when simply dressing and brushing my teeth are accomplishments. Too many times to count, I’ve left the house in a rush only to check that I’m not still in my pyjamas.
Because of that busyness we need Time Out. Close the doors, implement the cone of silence, turn on all the gadgets with headphones, go for walks, take holidays by ourselves, watch films. Zone out.

The problem is, at least with our family, we're struggling to Time In again.

We’re a close knit family. We do talk about our daily lives and what’s going on and what has to be done. I’m there when my daughter practices her violin; I’m torturing my older son by asking questions on his homework. I’m making sure that food is on the table, and that my children don’t go to school in their nightclothes. However, just because I’m covering the clamouring of daily life, it doesn’t mean I’ve Timed In.

My husband travels a lot. When he’s home, he’s SuperDad. But often, it’s just me. And I don’t think it’s fair to the kids or to me if I’m only thumping the homework drum or doing the dishes. Yet, how do I Time In and not go crazy with all the yanking in different directions? I don’t know.

Right now I’m trying something new. I’m multitasking Time In. With dinner, we’re playing board games. With homework, we’re on the tube travelling towards a museum or activity.
But I have a fear. I don’t know if it’s enough. Because I remember my own childhood, and I remember listening to my grandmother telling hers. I don’t know what my children’s memories are going to be or, maybe more importantly, what they want them to be.
Quite frankly, I fear we Time Out too much from the sheer exhaustion of daily life, and are forgetting to play…
--  Nicole :-)

Nicole's third book in the Lovers and Legends series, The Highland Laird's Bride, is out now!

He wants to amend the past. She wants to kill him.

Lioslath of Clan Fergusson has defended her clan and her orphaned siblings against countless enemies. So when Laird Colquhoun, the man responsible for the death of her father, arrives at the gates of her crumbling keep, she'll fight him all the way!

It's soon clear Bram's famed tactics of seduction and negotiation won't work on this guarded, beautiful woman. But when sparks between them turn to passion, and they're forced to wed, Bram must do whatever it takes to win over his new bride...
To find out more about Nicole Locke, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.