Broken Backs and The Doctor

I have a new book out this month…yay! The heroine is an equine therapist…double yay. Why am I so happy about that? Because I love horses and ride them often. I sneak them into many of my books, but this is the first one where the horses have been center stage. BUT as a funny twist of irony, the book has come out just as I’m recovering from a fractured vertebra as a result of…wait for it…a riding accident. Here’s a picture of my new and not-so-improved L-2 vertebra (if you’re squeamish, you might want to cover the image with your hand).

MRI of Tina's back

MRI of Tina’s back

Anyway, as you’ll see, the vertebrae all look like blocks stacked on top of one another. All except that one in the middle–that pesky L-2, which now looks like the tip of a spear (and kind of feels like one too).

So, I saw various doctors who poked and prodded and took lots of x-rays and pictures. But I have to tell you, I absolutely fell in love with one of the doctors. Yes, I stared at him for hours on end. Night after night. Sometimes I stared at him with my husband. Sometimes with my daughter (who just left for Japan). Sometimes my whole family would sit there and gaze lovingly at his image. That’s because it wasn’t just any doctor. It was The Doctor. Yes, I’d discovered Dr. Who. Since I couldn’t do much except lie on a couch and watch TV, my daughter talked me into watching an episode of Dr. Who that featured weeping angels. Uh oh. Scary. In more ways than one, because I was hooked. Hooked on a show that I’d heard about but had never seen. I devoured them. And I just finished the last episode of the last season three days ago and am squirming with anticipation of seeing what the newest iteration of The Doctor will do. And I do admit, I have a favorite. “Who” you might ask? ;) Well, because I’m a shallow girl, I think David Tennant made a dreamy Doctor.

My advice to you is to not fracture anything. Because he (The Doctor) might just hook you too! Here’s the clip from the weeping angel episode that was my downfall. Whatever you do…Do. Not. Blink.: 

For those of you who already watch Dr. Who, inquiring minds want to know. Who is your favorite Doctor? (This post is filled with the word “who,” did you notice? It’s everywhere!)

Oh, and here’s my equine therapist. Isn’t she pretty?

His Girl from Nowhere

His Girl from Nowhere

Conference Shenanigans! by Amy Andrews

Conference season is over for another year. Sad face….. So I thought I’d give you some of the RWAustralia conference highlights which was in Sydney this year.

Firstly up – the fabulous Cherry Adair was our keynote and she gave and gave and gave of her time and was wonderfully funny and fabulously generous with love, cheers, support and advice!cherry

 

 

Secondly – there was wine.vino

Thirdly – The lights in the function room at night were all baby pink which added a lovely soft glow to the room but left us all VERY pink in the pictures! Here is myself with Denise Rossetti and Christina Brookes at the Award’s Dinner on Saturday night. This was the same dinner where our fabulous Lucy Clark won the Ruby for her wonderful medical – One Life Changing Moment. Sooooo thrilling to be there when the name was read out!

awards dinner

Fourth – being asked to sign a tin of Milo at the book signing by Brooke Del-Sewell was a delightful first. Why you may ask? All I can say is grab a copy of my current release -The Heat Of The Night and you’ll know why!!

milo

And….keeping the best to last – meeting up with some of the wonderful medical authors! I managed to get one pic with a few of us together. This is myself with Louisa George and Sue Mackay (both Kiwis) and new kid on the block Susan Hampton who is very glamorous and artistic and so very nice with it too!

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Sadly, there are no more conferences until next year now which means I have to get back to writing writing writing if I have any hope of convincing my husband to let me go to New York next year……

Do you have an event you look forward to ALL year??

 

 

 

I Know You’ve Got One…

It is oft said to be a good author, you should also be a good reader. I have to confess to a life of very eclectic – but nonstop – reading. I will go through a phase of only biographies, or books by one author (and then you inevitably end up mimicking their style for a bit. Don’t you? Just a little) – or thrillers, romances, travel books, foodie memoirs, tragic-childhood memoirs, magazines, epic tomes, short stories…. You get the drift.

The other day, I was idly gazing at the (enormous) stack of books beside the bed and decided I needed a bit of a clear up. Instead of reading all of the unread books by the bed – I kept acquiring new ones (everyone goes into the bookstore and comes out with more than they planned, right?). So I’ve rearranged it so that I can tackle it anew. Then I thought – I’d love to see everyone’s bedside pile. Or sofa side – or wherever you read. I tend to have a bed pile, a book in the handbag, a book by the stove and a few stuffed under the table by the sofa (which turns into a stack ON the table once it is officially Light a Fire Every Day Season).

So here it is – my bedside stack:P1140622I am in the throes of Butcher’s Crossing and absolutely love it – LOVE it.The double-whammy Medical Romance from Carol Marinelli has already been read and enjoyed. The Portrait of a Lady is next on the list – I’ve had it for ages and it’s been one of those books I was sure I had read – and then it turned out it wasn’t true. It is also on a recent list I read – Top 100 Romance Novels. Ever. Ditto to Norweigan Wood.

Now – here’s the pile that will slow down finishing of above pile:P1140619This one’s a bit of a misnomer as the middle two are my husband’s. This is the Beside the Sofa pile. Silas Marner - again – one that sounds like I should have read it – but haven’t. The Little Stranger - now…I started that one in the winter – got side-tracked by -uhhh – other books (and spring and summer)- and now that’s it’s beginning to be crank up the fireplace season – I am back into finishing it when I’m in the right room.

P1140623Here’s the pile Behind The Bedside Pile:

I’ve shown you mine….show me yours? 

What a wonderful few days … with so many firsts!

I never planned at my age on experiencing a first, let alone multiple firsts in such a small space of time. The time for notching up firsts, I naively imagined was over, until I made the decision to register for Romance Writers of Australia’s Romance Rocks Conference and then a few months later board a plane bound for Sydney. Said plane was a little heavier due to my overweight luggage filled with everything that I might need over the four days ….and then a few more reserve pairs of shoes and earrings… and an extra scarf or three.

As I mentioned my first first was attending the conference. Although I had often planned to attend, registration had always closed before I had made a firm decision. Now after thoroughly and completely enjoying the 2014 conference, I will not miss another conference without a damn fine reason. The event was huge in vision and even grander in delivery. The committee have set such a high bar with their attention to detail, variety of speakers, abundance of delicious food at every turn and functions designed to make ‘newbies’ like myself feel so welcome. I feel that I have made new friends and look forward to many more conferences and one day being able to offer advice to a ‘newbie’ the way it was so generously given to me.

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The second first was my ‘first sale’ ribbon presented to me by the RWA and proudly worn on my super handy conference ID pouch. This blue ribbon will find a home in a small, elegant frame and sit on my bookshelf for everyone to admire.

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My third first was being a part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing event. What an amazing hour, to sit with my two Mills & Boon Medical Romance releases, poised pen, chocolates to entice readers and all in the same room as the most gifted and wonderful romance writers in the world. The romance readers and reviewers I met were so lovely and encouraging and I felt very fortunate to be a part of this event and very grateful for the support I have received from ARRA. IMG_0944

My fourth first, and by no means the least of my firsts was meeting my first Mills & Boon editor, the gorgeous Flo Nicoll. She is so sweet and just as encouraging in person as over the telephone and in email. I am very proud to be a part of the Medical Romance family. 1407413377902

I had initially only remembered four firsts until images of the waiters’ biceps came rushing at me just as I was about to hit publish on my blog.   The Harlequin Author Dinner saw our drinks poured by men naked from the waist up and it was definitely another first. Generally when dining my waiters are fully dressed, most times quite conservatively, and it was a refreshing change …although I suspect a little chilly for them in the cool evening air.

If I kept thinking I am sure more firsts would jump onto the page….just when I thought I was on the dull side of fifty, I am starting to throw that idea out of the window and think this side has just as many firsts with a lot less angst! Have you experienced any firsts recently?

Prague by Kate Hardy

It’s difficult to know what to talk about today. The fact that 100 years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany; or the fact that in about six hours’ time from when I write this, I’m having a peripheral iridotomy and am ever so slightly nervous about it; or… no, I’ll talk about what I did last week, as that’s much nicer!

We went to Prague for a very long weekend (aka a research trip, as I’m planning to set a future romance novel here). It’s a beautiful city; the people are lovely and the food is excellent. I could bore you silly, here, as I have more than 400 photographs. But. Prague felt very ‘Central Europe’ and reminded us a lot of both Vienna and Paris. We loved the castle and the cathedral, and thoroughly enjoyed our river trip.

Prague is full of Art Deco buildings, and we really loved the Municipal House (it’s a concert hall and cafes).

prague day 2 008 municipal house It’s known as the City of a Thousand Spires for a very good reason (the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn)

prague day 2 013 our lady at tyn

And of course there’s the River Vltava flowing through it (just to prove that I *was* there…)

prague day 2 021 vltava pam

We had a wonderful view of the castle from the river bank.

prague day 2 022 castle and river

And we walked over the famous (and crowded) Charles Bridge:

prague day 2 027 charles bridge

The oldest (still working) astronomical clock in the world is in the middle of the old town square:

prague day 2 039 astronomical clock

Sadly the National Museum’s main building was closed for renovations:

prague day 2 041 national museum

But we visited the Cathedral of St Vitus:

prague day 3 005 cathedral

And had amazing views from the castle:

prague day 3 028 view

And the old castle was gorgeous inside (they held jousting in this hall – how cool is that?)

prague day 3 037 vladislav hall

We climbed 275 steps up to the top of the bell tower (yes, I’m hot and sweaty, but I climbed the lot in one go)

prague day 3 059 st vitus cathedral

We also visited the Czech equivalent of the Eiffel Tower (that was a bit scary, because it swayed in the wind at the top!)prague day 3 066 towerOne of my favourite bits of modern architecture was the Dancing House (which does indeed look like a dancing couple).

prague day 4 001 dancing house

And we did get to the bit of the museum that was open – and I found a surgeon’s instrument case from World War One (I thought that was appropriate for a medical authors’ blog, particularly today).

prague day 5 006 museum

We’d love to go back again in winter, because we think it would be really, really romantic then :) And I’m all in favour of romance!

CPPB coverMy latest romance, ‘Crown Prince, Pregnant Bride’, is set in a fictional European capital – though, like Prague, it has a castle and a cathedral and very pretty streets. Where would you love to see a romance set?

 

 

A Day Off

This is my second attempt at writing a blog today. That’s because I’m a little dazed and confused at the moment. I got to the end of my first set of ramblings, decided that I must have a book out this month, and when I’d got to the point of remembering which one and what it was about, realized that I’d just been doing something that the hero of the book gives the heroine something of a hard time for doing.

So I’ll start again. :)  This morning I woke up in the small hours with stars in my eyes. Not good ones, because the flashing lights were also accompanied by the suspicion that someone had driven a knife through my right temple while I slept, and the knowledge that I was going to be very sick any minute now.

I’m over the worst of it now, apart from feeling a bit wooly around the edges.  I’ve had migraine for most of my life, so I know exactly what to do.  I steer clear of things that trigger it – but the hot summer days and storms we’ve been having here recently are one thing I can’t avoid.  The main thing is, though, that I know I can take the Pink Pills, drink water and lie down somewhere cool and dark and I’ll be feeling better tomorrow.  That’s a gift I’m enormously thankful for.

I’ve shoe-horned myself off the sofa now though, because I’ve got a blog to write and a book to finish. In common with the vast army of parents of young children, carers and the self-employed, (and writers with a deadline :) ) time off sick with relatively minor ailments doesn’t feature in the calendar. And since I’m among friends I know you’ll forgive me if I lose my thread, because I’ve got the attention span of a goldfish at the moment.

Of course, there are many people who are an inspiration to us, persevering through serious illness and disability to reach their goals.  But that’s not the same as being so wedded to your work that you feel you can’t take a day off.  We all know people who turn up at work running a fever, sneezing violently and complaining loudly, and the only thing they accomplish in the day is to give whatever they’ve got to everyone else.  On the other hand, I’m in favour of peeling myself out of bed as soon as I can – I reckon it makes for a faster recovery if I can reach for my laptop and write a few pages.  And when it comes to writing romance, I sometimes think that a slight fever actually helps a bit  :)

I do know my limits, though.  You’d be forgiven for thinking I was a little drunk right after I’ve had a migraine, slurred speech, inability to concentrate, a tendency to fall asleep mid-sentence… So I won’t be signing anything, or climbing any ladders this evening.  And since I’m having a bit of trouble formulating my ‘end of blog’ question, please feel free to tell me what you think about absolutely anything.

Oh, and here’s the book.  It’s a close run thing, but I think my favourite this time is the US cover.  Sam’s been known to sit at her computer screen with dark glasses on before now (and no, I’m not admitting to having done that. Ever…). And Euan is just the man to drag her away from her work :)

A doctor to heal her heart

A doctor to heal her heart UK

New Kid in Town

Greetings from (slightly overcast) Sussex from yet another in the flock of newcomers to the Medical Romance fold. I feel a bit like I am signing up to a dating site: a bit shy, a bit nervous and terrifically excited all at the same time. Which was EXACTLY how I felt this February when i was wandering back from the cow barn, covered in poop and my phone rang with a number from London. It was an editor from Paradise Road: That’s right, Mills & Boon were on the line.

I received ‘my call’ after a rather fractured series of attempts to join the wonderful world of Mills & Boon. (Cue: bowl of cherries = life)

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My (writing) story began some time ago when a friend idly wondered aloud if a Mills & Boon couldn’t be written in a weekend. I decided to haul myself off to Death Valley and give it a go. (I know – a little weird – but I ended up going on a hike with a hot dentist and finding some fool’s gold….he didn’t call, I gave the ‘gold’ to a friend). The hotel room was cowboy themed, the air con barely worked and fudgesicles were 25 centsat the gas station across the road (and it was THIS century). Long story short – it takes longer than a weekend (particularly with the distraction of a widowed dentist from San Francisco pulling you away from your keyboard). I made it to somewhere in the neighbourhood of chapter five and -

Life ensued. I was transferred back to the UK after three years working in Los Angeles, had a nosedive of a relationship (a real turkey – he swore I’d never finish one of my writing projects. Ha! Take that you party pooper!). Then I got a new job, met and fell in love with my own Highlander (oh sweet heavens – just keep rolling those r’s for me honey) and, on a two week break between jobs wrote and finished my first real romance. It is a combination of exotic, magical and not entirely terrific (it’s called The Doctor’s Princess, is written by my even more exotic alter ego: Tabitha Fife: Yes. It’s self-published on amazon) and caught the eye of the Mills & Boon editors. Their interest was piqued– but they weren’t head over heels with Tabitha’s work and thought I should give it another go in the form of a contest – which I duly joined. Thus was born – The Surgeon’s Christmas Wish – the story that finally gave me the proverbial writing legs I’d been longing for and pole vaulted me to a three book contract. I love it – every single pulse-racing, nail-biting, lip-locked moment of it. Writing about falling in love every day? I was made for it and am incredibly grateful to be a part of this fabulous group of story weavers. Lovely to meet you all and see you again soon – Annie O’Neil (@annieoneilbooks and http://www.annieo’neilbooks.com)