Summer Memories #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

Group Of Girls Playing In Outdoor Swimming Pool

Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Leslie Hachtel’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!

This week the authors of Romance Writers’ Weekly are talking about about Summer, and the warm memories that make us feel good all year round.

Ah, Summer memories! The ones where the sun is always shining, my body is always beach ready (whatever the hell that means) and there’s always something delicious cooking on the barbecue.

Um, yeah, sorry, I’m confusing memories with fantasies. My bad.

I should probably caveat this with explaining that here in the UK summer can be as short as one day. And if on that one day you happen to be at work, doing something indoors, or catching up on some sleep, then too bad. Hope you like the rain!

Okay, I’m kidding. Well kind of. But summers here in England really are a hit and miss affair. I only realized how bad we had it when I lived in Virginia, USA for a few years, and got to experience what real summers are like. In my case they were hot, humid and were mostly spent around a pool. Yep, hard times. But the thing that really separated the US summers from our UK ones was consistency. Apart from the rare thunderstorm (which was always over quickly and then the sun came out again) I wouldn’t need to check the weather forecast to see how warm it was going to be the next day. Because it was always going to be hot.

Of course, this had it’s downsides. My hair, for one, didn’t like the humidity. I’d go from sleek straightness to crazy frizz as soon as I stepped outside the door in Virginia. Ponytails became my friend. It was also too hot to do much (I’m laughing at this right now). I tended to go from my air-conditioned house into my air-conditioned garage where I’d get into my air-conditioned car. Then I’d arrive at the air conditioned building, and still manage to work up a sweat in the five or so steps it would take me to get in there.

Apart from days in the pool, we rarely spent a lot of time outside in the Virginia summer. As the sun went down and the air cooled, that’s when the insects would come out. And these guys weren’t run-of-the-mill midges we’re used to in the UK. No, they were the Arnold Schwarzenegger of mosquitos. A few seconds outside in the evening would mean a nighttime of scratching and cursing. Even the strongest insect repellent wasn’t enough to stave off those beasts.

Even so, those were some of the happiest days of my life. My kids were little, and they absolutely adored swimming in the pool. We made a lot of friends at the pool, too, and we’d sit with our legs dangling in the water while the kids splashed around, shooting the breeze (not that there was any breeze) and laughing. We’d all take our lunches there, big freezer boxes filled with sandwiches and sodas, fresh fruit and treats. And at lunchtime we’d sit at the covered tables, trying to stop the kids from running back into the water, so the poor lifeguard could have his break, too.

Then in the evening – in spite of the insects – we discovered the best side effect of the pool was the way the kids would be out like a light by eight, their bodies heavy with the exhaustion that only a day at the pool could give. That’s when my husband and I would sit in our netted lanaii – no mosquitos allowed – and stare out at the fireflies that nestled in the trees, lighting them up like it was Christmas. I think that’s the memory of summer I’ll always carry around with me. And even now – in the cold, English weather – it’s warming me up.

I don’t miss those insects, though!

Now let’s hop over to Kathryn Reynard’s blog to get some more mouthwatering recipes. And don’t forget to check out her book, Sidelined!

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Let’s share barbecue recipes! #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!

This week the authors of Romance Writers’ Weekly are sharing recipes. We’re posting our favourite barbecue food – just in time for the sun to come out 🙂

Before I start, can I just say that I LOVE barbecues. There’s something about lighting that grill that makes me smile every time. We have a gas grill, the pride and joy of Mr Elks, and it’s a thing of beauty. So whenever I get the chance I’ll shove some food in the fridge to marinade, toss a salad together and we’ll eat al-fresco. If I can pour a cheeky glass of Prosecco to go with it, I’m pretty much in heaven. And this recipe is one of my faves. It’s loved by all the family – the kids included. Hopefully I don’t have to put a huge disclaimer, but obviously if you, or anybody you’re cooking for, has a nut allergy, then SKIP THIS ONE!

Without further ado, I present my recipe for Chicken Satay Skewers. Hope you enjoy it!

BARBECUE CHICKEN SATAY SKEWERS (feeds 4)

Ingredients

1 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy – I use both)

4 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp Curry powder

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp hot sauce

4 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch chunks

8 Wooden skewers (pre-soaked)

 

Method

Mix the first 6 ingedients together into a satay sauce. Add the chicken pieces, and stir until all are covered with sauce. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I find the longer you marinate them, the better they taste. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook, thread the chicken pieces onto the pre-soaked skewers. Warm the barbecue up and then grill for around 5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

I like to serve with some boiled rice and an asian salad, but you can also eat these with wraps, grilled vegetables, or just on their own.

Now let’s hop over to Xio Axelrod’s blog to get some more mouthwatering recipes. And after that, be sure to check out some of her books!

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Feeling Rejected… #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!

This week’s topic comes from author Leslie Hachtel – and we’re talking rejection letters (boo!!)

Wooden rubber stamp with “Rejected” impress isolated on white background.

Credit: Depositphotos

When I saw this topic I jumped at the chance to answer it. It coincided with going out to lunch with a lovely group of writers from my local RNA chapter where we talked about writing for magazines in the old days. I’d completely forgotten about this stage in my writing career (blame old age) but boy did it bring back memories. At that time I was working around the clock (it was in my pre-mummy days) and dashing home every evening to write short stories on a very old, clunky laptop which sounded as if it had little men inside, stoking the engines.
This was back in the days when the internet was a wild west frontier, and companies put you on a training course to work out how to use it. Dial up connections at home were rare, and broadband just a dream. On the plus side, I seemed to have a lot more time on my hands back then.
Anyway, so back to rejections. As I said, I wrote a lot of short stories back then, which I submitted to magazines. They were well-paid gigs, around £350 for 1500 words, which wasn’t something to sniff at. So I wrote, I printed, and I sent off sheafs of paper (pre-internet, remember?), and waited for an offer letter to come back through the door.
Instead, what I got was these:
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A few of my rejection letters, ’90s style!

So these were my first rejection letters. And thank goodness they came, because I re-read some of those short stories yesterday and they were truly terrible. They’ve been filed away in a box under my bed for the last seventeen years, and that’s where they’ll be staying!
I can laugh about it now, of course, because time is happiness’ friend, and it can give you a perspective like no other. But the first time I got a rejection letter it really hurt. I think it’s because I had been writing alone for so long, I thought I was really good. I thought I was going to take the world by storm. These are pretty much the same feelings I always get whenever I launch a new book. This time, everybody’s going to see inside to my real genius.
And yeah, that feeling usually lasts for five minutes, until I double over and laugh at myself uproariously. But that’s the thing about writing. You put yourself out there for rejection over and over again, in small hope that somebody — anybody — might find something they like about your words. It doesn’t have to be a lot of people, it doesn’t have to be an agent or publisher, you just want your story to touch somebody’s heart. And when they do, it’s as though all your Christmases have come at once, and it spurs you on to write more.
So I’m happy to keep on getting the rejection letters (or emails are they more often are nowadays), because the communication I can’t live without is from my readers. A Facebook message, a comment on an Instagram post, or like yesterday, a tweet where somebody says they loved my book. These are the things that make my day.
Long may they last!
Now let’s hop over to the lady herself, Brenda Margriet’s blog to see what she thinks about rejection. And don’t forget to check out her fabulous new release, When Time Falls Still.

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Watching X Files with no lights on… #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week we’re talking TV and movies:

Fiona Riplee wants to find out some insights into the psyche of our minds by learning about what movie or Network series that we LOVE to watch. What do we think the show says about our creative personalities?

Close up of a hand holding a remote control with a television concept.

Credit: Depositphotos

From the first moment I saw this question, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about the answer. Some of that comes from the fact that I’ve been watching the latest series of the X-Files (and being simultaneously horrified and gratified that Mulder and Scully have aged in the same way I have since the ’90s). But it also comes from the special place that the X-Files holds in my heart. I started watching it as a 21-year-old young woman, working in my first professional job. It was back in the days before the internet, before ebooks, and before all those other things like kids and family took my energy and attention. I was living in a shared house in Liverpool with other young professionals, and when the X-Files came on we’d all gather around the TV and keep quiet for a full hour. That in itself was a minor miracle!
So what was it (or is it) about the X Files that made me fall in love with it? I guess first of all it was the subject matter. I’ve always been crazy about the unexplained, and the fact there was a whole TV series about these types of phenomena stole my attention from the start. It was like watching Charles Fort but on the small screen.
But it wasn’t simply the science-fiction storylines that kept me glued to my seat every Tuesday night. It was the characterisation that made me come back for more. Mulder — like me — wanted to believe, and every time his theories were proved right I found myself giving him a silent cheer. Through the series arc we learned why it was he needed to believe – about his sister’s disappearance, about his father’s involvement in the conspiracy. It made the viewer both empathetic and understanding of his sometimes-wild suppositions.
On the other side of the sceptical fence, Scully viewed Mulder’s enthusiasms with a scientific eye, pulling him back when he was getting too fantastical, raising a single eyebrow when he went too far. But then something happened — or rather lots of things — and we saw Scully’s eyes slowly being opened to the reality of the phenomena they were investigating. She came to believe, too.
Of course the romantic in me also loved the dynamic between the two. I was desperate for them to get together, but also desperate for the UST to remain. In the end I think the writers did an amazing job of skating that line, giving us just enough to fill our desires, while leaving us questioning ‘will they or won’t they’. If I could replicate that in my books I’d be a very happy romance writer.
So to answer Fiona’s final question – what does this love of the X-Files say about my creative personality – I guess it’s that I want to believe. I want to believe in Love, in Happily Ever After and in two souls scouring the world until they come together. And I can’t see much wrong with that 🙂
Now let’s hop over to the lady herself, Fiona Riplee’s blog to discover her TV poison. And don’t forget to check out her story, Love’s Light, in the anthology The Hope Chest.

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Let’s Talk Location #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Teresa Keefer’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week I got to set the question:

How do you choose the location for you books? Do you pick somewhere you’ve already been, or do you research creatively, using Google and other methods to find the perfect spot?

Attractive brunette young woman in futuristic interface sitting in front of world map with glowing hot points location and connection lines.

Oh, the power!

In some of the best books I’ve read, the location is like an extra character, adding a flavour and edge to a scene that allows the reader to close their eyes and picture the scene, allowing it to play out in their mind as if it’s a movie. Without really having to think hard about it, I can remember my favorite books that do this — including Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Cornwall), Wuthering Heights (Yorkshire) by Emily Bronte, and of course, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkein (The magnificently made up Middle Earth).
When I try to imagine any of these books taking place in a different location, it’s almost impossible to do. The setting is woven through the narrative like a silken thread. To pull it out would unravel the whole tapestry.
When it came to my own books, I chose the location very carefully. At first I stuck to what I knew well. Fix You takes place (for the most part) in London and New York, two cities I had spent a lot of time in. Of course I still needed to do research, to find the best part of the city for some of the action to take place, or to find the perfect restaurant or bar for a scene to be set in. But for the most part, luckily for me, I could use my own memory.
With my Love in London series, for the majority of the stories they take part in that city. London is a big place, however, and runs the gamut from very rich locations to extremely poor ones. In this respect I tended to choose the exact location to suit the characters. It would seem very strange for a poor character to be living in Mayfair, but equally weird for a wealthy one to be living in one of the poorer parts of East London.

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Varenna, Italy

It’s only recently that I’ve started choosing locations that I haven’t had the chance to visit. I’m writing a new series (more information on this soon), and the first book is set in a fictional small town in West Virginia, USA. The second book is set in Italy, in a small village called Varenna on the banks of Lake Como. Researching these locations was a really enjoyable part of the whole process. In fact I loved researching about Italy so much that we’ve now booked our summer vacation there. Which means I’ll get to visit the real Varenna, and see if it matches up to the village I’ve created from my research.
We now have a joke in my family that wherever I set the next book, we will have to visit. I’m currently deciding between Mauritius and Koh Samui. Not a bad choice to make, huh?
So that’s pretty much how I choose the location. Now let’s hop over to Leslie Hachtel’s blog to find out why she chooses the locations she does. And don’t forget to check out her fabulous books, The Defiant Bride, The Dream Dancer, Captain Captive and Texas Summer.
 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Why I *LOVE* to write romance! #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jenna Da Sie’s blog, hi, and thanks for joining me!
This week the fabulous Leslie Hachtel asks us this question:

How did you pick the genre you write? Or did it pick you?

Typewriter with Romance button, vintage style

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

It’s no secret that I love being a romance author. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day than writing about two flawed characters who fight against the attraction, trying to resist, yet find that the draw of love is too powerful to ignore. Even better when they hit bumps and dead-ends, leading to bigger problems that they have to overcome.
I didn’t always want to be a romance author, though.
Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Back when I was younger, I pretty much wanted to be Enid Blyton, and write about boarding schools and midnight feasts, and magic far away trees. Then as I got older I wanted to be JRR Tolkein, and write about rings and hobbits and epic journeys that became fights between good and evil.
It was only when I was in my 20s that I discovered romance, and even that was in a roundabout way. Being a voracious reader, I’d pretty much grab anything in my local library, devouring the pages like a starving man would grab hold of food.
I’d read thrillers and historical fiction, contemporary fiction and horror. As I said, pretty much anything I could find. But as I read them, I found myself looking for the same thing over and over again. Some kind of romantic pull between the main characters.
That was when I started to read romance, and I’ve never really stopped. From there it was a no-brainer to start to write the kind of stories I loved, and today I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I chose romance, and romance chose me; it was pretty much a mutual attraction! And neither of us are ready to let go of each other any time soon.
So that’s why I write romance. Now let’s hop over to Xio Axelrod’s blog to find out why she writes the things she does. And while you’re there, check out her book, Falling Stars – the first in her new series!

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 Until next time,

Carrie Pink

What do you Google? #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop – November 3 2015

Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jeanne McDonald’s blog, don’t forget to check out her fabulous book, Compass.

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This week we are answering the question: What did you Google?

The internet is an invaluable research tool for writers, but sometimes we google some searches that would raise more than a few eyebrows if seen out of context. We’ve all heard the tales of the thriller writer whose Google history has led to a visit from law enforcement, and the erotica writer whose searches have raised more than a few eyebrows. I bet if anybody (including non-writers) looked at their history they’d see a huge range of eclectic sites that are a mixture of the mundane and the embarrassing.

Nowadays it’s not only interesting facts that we Google, but anything and everything. I’d lay my hat on the fact that anybody going on a first date has almost certainly googled the other person before they meet them, and probably knows far more about them than is their date would want them to!

So what’s the last thing I Googled? Well I’m sad to say I can’t think of a single thing I’ve searched for that would either alarm the police, or my husband. So instead, let’s have a bit of fun.

What comes up if I Google “why is”…

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Um, I have no answer to that one. And I don’t think I want to see what Google has to say on this!

 

What comes up if I Google “can i m”…

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Great Advert for the UK there. By the way the answer is no!

Finally, what comes up if I Google “do q”…

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So there you have it. Google has an answer for everything, and it pretty much looks as though everything has been searched for. If you ever find yourself wanting to marry your cousin, but your poop turns green, perhaps a duck can help you.

Carrie Pink

Now we’ve sorted that out, let’s hop over to  Leslie Hachtel’s blog and find out her Google secrets. 

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