Do You Touch Yourself?

Apologies for the startling opener. But its an important question and seems very appropriate here on this medical authors blog especially as many of our books have tackled the issue of cancer including breast cancer.

A year ago today Chrissy Amphlett, Aussie rock legend, front-woman of the Divynls died from breast cancer. It was her dying wish that her iconic song empowering female sexuality – I Touch Myself – be re-purposed to encourage women everywhere to check themselves for cancer and, even more, to be “in touch” with themselves.

The I Touch Myself Project launches today. You can find out more about it from their website http://www.itouchmyself.org (which is great btw!) but please take a moment to watch this amazing capella version of Chrissy’s song by 10 strong female Aussie music icons and hear the message it promotes – be vigilant, listen to your body, take care of your body.

Where do you find your zen?

Fiona Lowe wrote a great post a few days ago on which we prefer…beach or desert. It made me think about how we each find different ways to recharge our batteries. I like to call it finding my zen…a location that calls out to that calm place within me, where all my cares seem to drift away.

Like the whole introvert/extrovert thing, we each find comfort in certain types of interactions with people. I think that carries over to other parts of our lives as well. Some are drawn toward all things “inside” and others are drawn toward “outside.” I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m a huge introvert. I gain my energy when I’m alone or in a small group. My husband, on the other hand, draws his energy from interacting with others–the more the merrier, as they say. He can come home from a party full of life and be ready for more, while I just want to light some candles and melt into my clawfoot tub–alone.

Tina's pond

Tina’s pond and fish

So, you would think I’d prefer to spend my free time “inside”…as in inside my home–since I’m an innnntrovert (get it?). Nope. I’m an outdoor girl all the way. Oh, I love to sit and read, and I like my house to be a welcoming place, but if you ask me what I want to do with my free time, my answer will be camping, hiking, running, horseback riding, gardening, working on my tiny pond, cooking on the grill. Not an indoor activity among my top choices. Weird, huh? I’m guessing that the “in” and “ex” of introvert and extrovert have to do more with the way we process things than with our inner or outer child.

Am I confusing you? Hmmm…well, I’m a bit confused myself. So I’m taking an informal poll to see if there’s any correlation between personality type and activity preferences. I’m hoping you’ll answer three questions for me. First, would you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? Second, are you an innie or an outie (not your bellybutton type, but are you an indoor or outdoor person)? And lastly, what do you like to do with your free time?

RTHC Book CoverAnd to kick off my newest release, a short story that celebrates both the great outdoors and second-chance love, I’m giving away a digital copy of Return to Hart’s Cove to one commenter. Here’s the blurb:

To Cade Rivers, the word home conjures up images of small town dances, nosy neighbors and walls that close in around you. So when he’s offered a once-in-a-lifetime position as a sports medicine doctor in Atlanta, he jumps at the chance. There’s only one catch—his childhood sweetheart, who breaks his heart by refusing to leave her hometown. A year later, a manila envelope arrives with papers that say she no longer wants to be his wife. Does Cade dare return to Hart’s Cove, Wyoming in an effort to change her mind? Or will that only result in more heartache for both of them?

Dr. Mirabella Rivers can hardly believe her eyes. There on her examination table—barely covered by one of his mama’s blue-flowered towels—is the finest set of buns this side of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, they belong to her almost-ex husband. And from the look in his eyes, he wants nothing more than to take the “ex” right out of the equation. But can Mira trust him to not walk away just when she needs him the most?

Fiona Lowe’s Weddings; an anthology of four novels.

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I have this thing about weddings…I love them. I’m always the one to notice a wedding car driving along the road, or a bridal party having photos taken. I embarrass my family by calling out my congratulations to the couple and I did so last year in France, although I think I ran into a cultural difference as I called out, “Bonne Chance” which reduced the locals to bemused looks and lots of head shaking and laughter and “Marriage? Chance?”  as if I was assuming the couple were doomed from the start…not my intention at all!

Anyway, what with my love of weddings, and having written four single-title novels all about weddings,  I’m super excited that Harlequin are republishing four of my medical romances which have never been available in the USA before but are now! YAY!  (It will be out in Australia in July as an eBook and in the  UK in print in August).

The two Warragurra Books are set in the Australian Outback…a land of blazing summer heat and bitter winter cold, a place that lurches from severe drought to raging, flooded rivers.  Populated by people who live on hope and faith and have been frequently battered by the elements, it is a tough, harsh life in a tough, harsh land. Despite all of that, amidst it all, there’s love in the most unexpected places.

In Wedding In Warragurrra, Dr. Baden Tremont, committed to raising his tween daughter, never expected love to strike twice. Sarah Lawson thought she’d loved once before but living in a town who blames her for the death of the local sports hero , she’s not prepared to love again. Slowly, they find their way forward by honouring the past and embracing the future.

In book two of the Warragurra books, red dust meets city smog. Emily Tippet with her pink hair, baggy clothes and an ability to hot-wire a car or tractor, brand cattle and shoot a mean game of pool, is an enigma to Sydney playboy doctor, Linton Gregory. He’s never met anyone like her or her close and loving family. With her four brothers and a father, dating Emily  is like having to deal with five fathers. I had so much fun getting dust on Linton’s Italian loafers and forcing Emily out of her comfort clothes and revealing her true self to the world.

The Surgeon’s Chosen Wife is set in tropical Queensland, the absolute opposite of the dry inland with its lush bougainvillaea, mango-laden trees, sweltering humidity and massive rainfall. I love the old Queenslander homesteads on their stilts and in this novel, the house became a character in its own right as Ryan Harrison, former surgeon, returns unhappily to Yakkaburra to recuperate from a near-death experience.  His neighbour is Sarah Rigby, single mum and the town’s GP who’d gone to school with him. megRyan can’t fathom why she didn’t run screaming from town years ago like he did. I love this story with the theme of healing both physically and emotionally, plus I got to include a gorgeous dog, a kelpie-bordercollie cross, who was based on the wonderful Meg, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago.

 

The final book in the anthology is a novel that had the working title, “The Vietnam Book.” Now titled, A Woman To Belong To,  it is set all over the beautiful country of Vietnam. Dr Tom Bracken was a ‘cardboard box baby, flown out of Vietnam at Saigon fell in 1975. Now he’s working in Hanoi and trying to find his birth mother, believing his life cannot start until the missing part of it is found. The arrival of Bec Monahan at his door, offering to ‘help the children’ starts him on another journey entirely. Bec has been left a lot of money but to her it’s tarnished and is a constant reminder of her troubled childhood. Together, she and Tom challenge their beliefs about each other as Vietnam weaves her magic over them both, but is magic enough?

FionaLowesWeddings

As I said before, these books have never been released in the USA and  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them. For photos, excerpts and the back ground story behind each of the novels, please pop by my website

These books are set around Australia and around the world and it made me think, which do I prefer… the beach or the desert and why? I’ve visited Arizona and Nevada as well as the glorious beaches of Florida and the east coast of the USA and I’m torn! They both have their own unique beauty. What about you? Beach or desert?

Fiona Lowe’s Weddings can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Harlequin USA, iBooks, and all  USA eBook retailers.

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin , Carina Press and in 2015, Berkley USA. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love. When she’s not writing stories, she’s a weekend wife, mother of two ‘ginger’ teenage boys, guardian of 80 rose bushes and often found collapsed on the couch with wine. You can find her at her website, facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 

Deadline, school hols, exciting times in London, research trip…

Amy had it dead right in her last post about screaming deadlines. I’m on one at the moment. (This is my sports medicine book – the follow-up to Plague Squirrels… though obviously I didn’t tell my ed about my working title until a week after she’d accepted the book! And I’m expecting revisions back on my Christmas book this week, too…)

And it’s school holidays, so I don’t know what day it is (and that’s why I’m late with this post. Kate Tardy. I’m so sorry).

And it’s coming up to my son’s A levels, so I need to be super-calm, getting him to revise effectively and take proper breaks, and listening when he has a confidence wobble and reassuring him. (Exams are definitely worse when your children are taking them. I’m one of those weird people who actually like doing exams so I’m not really nervous, but I’m a total wreck on behalf of the kids!)

So what would be the worst thing I could do right now? Book a research trip. Where I get all excited and I start looking up stuff. And getting even more excited.

Oh, wait – first – I haven’t bounced and fizzed on here about how brilliant last month was! Please indulge me here for some immense showing-off (it’s not boasting, more that I’m so thrilled that I can’t stop talking about it – though someone’s going to stick gaffer tape over my mouth, one of these days, to shut me up!). Basically I had a fab day in London, had lunch with Caroline Anderson and Liz Fielding and Louise Allen and our eds, and then went to the RNA Awards. Darcey Bussell was presenting the RoNA Rose award, and I happened to have two books listed. Nobody who’s ever had two books listed has ever won, so I was all prepared to cheer someone else.

But then this happened. (Picture courtesy of the RNA.)

Darcey Bussell presenting the RNA Award to Kate Hardy

(And yes, I am wearing a dress. First time since my wedding day. And a tiara.) (There’s also me giving my acceptance speech, totally overcome and close to tears – courtesy of lovely Fiona Harper – over at the Mills and Boon website - http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/rona-kate-hardy-acceptance-speech)

And this. (I am so thrilled with this. I’ve never had a trophy to keep before. It’s got my name on it!)

RNA 2014 22 star

And I also got a cheque. Which means we can afford a holiday this year (don’t believe what you hear about authors rolling in money – it’s a bell-shaped distribution curve, and sadly it’s strongly slanted towards the peanuts end rather than the ‘let’s buy matching Ferraris’ end). So we’re having a research trip to Prague.

So excited. The city of a thousand spires and lots of bridges. It’s going to be so romantic and wonderful. For anyone who’s visited Prague, is there anything we really must see, or a place with really wonderful food (particularly ice cream) that we can’t miss? Very happy to hear all recommendations!

Deadlines & Obsessions

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I found they don’t mix.

I’m on a screaming deadline ( I think author Kate Hardy said that once in an email & it’s SO fitting).

Add into that and a couple of weeks ago I succumbed to gastroenteritis. It was horrible.

The new Grey’s Anatomy tonight has a clip of Dr. Shepherd dealing with his own “bug”. Yeah buddy, that’s how I felt. The roles were reversed, my husband was telling me not to sit at the computer, to rest. I was snapping back that I had a deadline. I didn’t win.

 

So as I was trying to recover I decided to start watching Once Upon a Time. BIG MISTAKE. Damn you Netflix. I watched 2 Seasons (over 40 episodes) in a week.

HookLove

Then I caught up on Season 3 (which is currently running). I would pace myself. I wouldn’t allow myself an episode until I did so many words.

I’m so hooked No pun intended towards Killian Jones (aka Hook).

So that’s where I currently am. Trying to finish my fifth book and not think about Once Upon a Time, which is hard since my 10-year-old daughter is now currently hooked on it.

Do you have any current television/book/movie obsessions, or am the only crazy one here?

Anyways, I better get back to my WIP and listen to Ryan Gosling on this one.

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You can find out more about Amy at her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

And if you’re in the New Orleans area Amy will be at the Romantic Times Convention.

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RITA and Gold Heart Madness!

This year is the first year I’ve participated in either of these contests. When I was unpublished, while still a member of Romance Writers of America, I just didn’t have the confidence to enter the Golden Heart. Which is really kind of dumb because the only way I could get that confidence was to sell my first book, thus rendering me ineligible for the GH. (Like I said, dumb).

So with last year being my first sale, and with my one and only book at the time, I entered. Tuesday night was like Christmas Eve for me. I couldn’t sleep. SO EXCITED. I finally drifted off around dawn, and then got up a couple hours later to gape at Twitter, madly refresh the RWA website, glare at anyone who touched the phone, and about have a stroke every time it rang.

I’m telling myself that this is normal behavior for a grown woman too, and that every other writer who entered–regardless of how many times they had entered–was doing the exact same thing. In my sleep-deprived yet oddly hyperactive brain, the idea kept rolling around about romance writers and Cinderella, and that metaphor appealed to me yesterday.

  • We–Okay, I spend a lot of time dressed in a way not fit for company(Like Cinderella, man). I have clothes on. Yes, technically, they’re pajamas, but I didn’t sleep in them! This-is-my-lounge-around-comfortably-and-writeWEAR.
  • Writing is hard work. Maybe you don’t end up covered in soot and cinders while doing it–unless you’re totally into your research and need to know how to describe the smear of soot on skin in some kind of crazy detail–but even if you start out looking normal, like with your hair fixed and your makeup on? By the end of a particularly hard writing session, you might look like you’ve spent the last twelve hours scrubbing floors and toilets. Some scenes put you through the wringer.
  • You secretly really want to go to the ball, but you’re never entirely sure whether you’re actually Cinderella… or an Ugly Stepsister.
That last one is where my metaphor breaks down. And where I surprised myself. I didn’t expect my little single entry to get anywhere, but none of the books I read got through either. And one of them seriously made me a fangirl for life with just that one book, which btw, taught me a lesson about covers. I hated the cover of it, even though it was professional and fit the book(all the bright primary yellows and reds put me off). So, when I got my pack and sorted my books, I put it in my pile of books I didn’t really want to read and made myself read before the ones I really wanted to read(aka: the carrot books). And it turned out being my absolute favorite(I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover… BUT USUALLY YOU CAN.).
In the wake of my RITA-virginity-losing contest experience, that’s the only thing that I’m actually sad about: that one book(with the terrible cover) that was so so good and didn’t make it through. I want to tell you what it was, I want to tell everyone that they should read it(It was even kind of a medical romance, though it was single title and not category), but I don’t know if I am allowed!
Instead, I am wondering if you judged the RITA’s this year, if you had any books you were sure would get through and didn’t(You don’t have to name them, unless we’re allowed! In that case, tell me so I can sing the praises of this one book!)? Or did you have some you were sure would and DID? And if you didn’t judge the RITA’s, do you have any books you read last year that you loved beyond belief and want to recommend(Since you can)? :)
And because I always forget to mention my own books (with yet another take on Cinderella), my March release: Uncovering Her Secrets
Uncovering Her Secrets -- March 2014A chance to make amends…
Hiring her ex, the irresistible Dr. Preston Monroe, is Dr. Dasha Hardin’s secret atonement for her unforgiveable past. A plan suddenly complicated by his touch, which still makes her heart zing! Preston must reluctantly trust Dasha and soon wants to discover more about this new feisty, vulnerable woman—the only woman with the strength to fight for his irredeemable soul….

 

Things I am not very good at…

Well I’m not going to give you a list, because we’ll be here all day. Lets just say that, like most people, I’m good at some things and not very good at others.

Some things aren’t a matter of choice.  I have a very poor sense of direction, and I’m always getting lost.  There doesn’t seem to be much that I can do about it, apart from factor in a little extra time if I’m going somewhere new and make up my mind to enjoy finding a few unexpected places along the way.

Other things should get easier with practise.  You’d think that a grown woman could follow a simple set of instructions, but cake making just isn’t my forte. They don’t rise, or they spill out over the top of the tin. The fruit sinks, the fruit rises to the top. They’re soggy or they’re burnt to a crisp. Goodness only knows how I manage it, but I can count the number of successes that I’ve had with cake on the fingers of one hand. I do keep trying – someone will give me a recipe and I’ll always give it a go, even if the sound of something disastrous thudding (or sometimes squelching) into the bin is the most usual outcome.

So why do it? Isn’t there something to be said for sticking with the things you’re good at? Isn’t it just a little perverse to persist with something that’s probably going to turn into a disaster? For the most part, I’d agree. Being able to find the things you’re good at is one of the most precious gifts that life gives us, and making the most of those things brings enormous satisfaction.

But, just sometimes, there’s a freedom in not being very good at something. A lack of expectation, which allows you to simply go along for the ride.  And there’s no rule that says you have to be good at something in order to enjoy it.  Half way through a year-long course in Maths with the Open University, I found that Maths really isn’t what I was born to do.  But I loved the concepts involved, and enjoyed the course immensely.  At the end of the year I scraped a pass, which I’m enormously proud of because I know how hard I had to work for it.  (Did I do another Maths course the following year?  No.  Once was an achievement, but it was also quite enough.)

What do you think?  Do the things that we’re not very good at sometimes make life interesting?  Or should we stick with what we do best?

And finally – one of the highlights of last year for me, was to work with the seven other medical authors who worked on the 200 Harley Street continuity.  It’s off to a fabulous start in April, so don’t forget to get your copies of the first two stories!

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