Sexy Vets by Amy Andrews

When thinking about this blog subject today I was trying to come up with something medical. Yes, I know, we don’t have to have a medical focus but I try to keep on message.

The thing is, I don’t really have a medical out at the moment. I do, however, have a book where the hero is a vet – my hot new Brazen, No More Mr. Nice Guy.

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Subsequently we have scenes with animals – a male Cashmere Lop rabbit called Charlie and a sulphur crested cockatoo called Shakespeare, in particular. And another one that I won’t really talk about but let’s just say it makes me cry every time I read it!

And then there’s Mack. Who is a very sexy vet!

Add to that a drunken night of fruity cocktails, a sex list and two people who need rebound sex in the worse kind of way and you get a whole other book :-)

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But my point is….Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes…my point is – like doctors, vets can also be very sexy men. And women. I wrote a female vet in my novella, The Billionaire Claims His Wife, a few years back and who can forget Sharon Archer’s fabulous vet heroine, Caitlin, in her debut novel?

I also have a confession to make. I had the teeniest little crush on James Herriot from the All Creatures Great Small TV series when I was a girl. He was definite hero material to me! A man who’s good with animals? How can that not melt your heart (and your underwear) ?!

So now I want to know, vets, yes or no? Do they make good heroes or are they too “soft” and “wholesome” for those of you who like a bit of a badass hero?

Unexpected Consequences

One of the things I love the most about writing medical romances is the research. I’m a sucker for all of those not-so-common ailments and spend far more time than I should perusing medical sites and my trusty Physicians’ Desk Reference.

There are a couple of problems with research, though. One is that I’m not squeamish. At all. And my filter for knowing what others might find icky seems to let all kinds of things slip through. I have a friend who just had surgery on her foot. She has a long line of stitches on the side of her big toe, another line on the bottom of her foot (where a neuroma was removed) and more stitches on three of her smaller toes. Well, she posted pictures of the stitches on Facebook. I studied them, commenting about how good they looked–not much redness or puffiness–and only realized later that other people were writing things like “Ack!!” “Frankenstein’s foot!” and other similar comments. Yep. No ick filter.

Tina and Dolly

Tina and Dolly stretching their legs on a rainy day.

There’s another side of research, though, that involves the heart and not the mind. About a year and a half ago, I began writing a story about a hippotherapist (a therapist who uses horses to treat cognitive and physical challenges). I’ve been around horses for many years and have always loved them. In fact, several of my books have horses mentioned in them. But a strange thing happened as I was researching this newest book. It engaged something deep inside of me. So when I went with my husband to his (mumble mumble) high school reunion a couple of months ago, we were chatting with one of his friends, and hubby mentioned my love of horses. The friend stopped in her tracks. “You’ve been around horses?” It turned out she works at a nearby equine therapy stable, and they desperately needed volunteers–as in they might have to cancel one of their classes if they couldn’t find a few more people to help out. Coincidence, anyone? It was the perfect storm–in the best sense of the term. I jumped at the opportunity! So now I’m a side-walker for a precious little girl who stares longingly at the horses as they’re led into the arena. An expression of love that I recognize from my own childhood days.

Research. Sometimes it has unexpected consequences, of the best possible kind.

Have you ever read (or written) a book where the subject matter touched you deeply or made you want to get involved in some way? I’d love to hear about it! Oh, and here’s the cover of the book that started my journey:

His Girl from Nowhere

His Girl from Nowhere

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My first Halloween party!

In just over two weeks I will host my first Halloween party with a haunted house theme… not one drawn to anything too ghoulish or overtly scary I’m going for the Munsters or Dark Shadows feel.  My costume is ready, complete with long red wig and black jeweled crown, I have the scary menu (Including spider decorated eggs) and now enough decorations to turn the house into a something that Lilly or Morticia would find aesthetically pleasing.  I did  think of foregoing the dusting for few weeks to give my home a level of authenticity (and give me a break from housework)  but it would more than likely just result in asthma for the entire family.  So I shall hang the fake cobwebs, light the red candles in the antique silver candelabra and enjoy a tradition that my daughter, Orianthi (below dressed as a vampire) and her American friends have been celebrating for many years.

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Of course what party would be complete without a playlist …so I headed to iTunes and bought Halloween party songs including dance hits like the Monster Mash, Purple People Eater and the theme from Psycho!  How could the party not be a huge success with this classic music, gratuitous fake blood and bad wigs?

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What surprises me most is that it’s taken me this long to get into the scary spirit and throw my first Halloween party.  And it can’t be my last because true to form, I got carried away and I now have enough tacky decorations to fill at least one wing of a Westfield Mall!

Have you ever thrown a Halloween party, been a guest at one or would you rather forget this trick or treat tradition?

The Space in Which We Write

My writing life is hectic. My husband and I run a small business out of our house – we manage about 300 properties. And because I’m technically in charge of that business and have to answer questions and emails from time to time I won’t give up and surrender the business to a real office because I write at home in the comfort of my own office. But every morning at 8:30 the crews show up for their work assignments and troop into the second office which just happens to adjoin mine. By the time they turn in their assignment from the day before and go over the details with my husband, and get their new work load for the day, it’s anywhere from 9:30 to 10:00. Then the company secretary shows up, followed three days a week by a part-time office worker. And phone calls…one after the other.

And I’m expected to write through all this, which I actually manage to do. But to be honest, I’m always amazed when I get a book completed.

I have a nice, comfortable office, custom built for my needs and I love it. Wish it was separated from my house, even though that’s not possible. But I love the days when I have the house all to myself, no one’s there, no one comes in, the phone doesn’t ring. All is quite and my creative juices can flow freely. That’s a rare occurrence, however. So I’ve learned to adapt. I write with all the activity going on around me. Shut it out, pretend I am alone, and tell people to go away or be quiet if they’re bothering me. Otherwise, I can’t write. I’ve asked my husband to build me a nice, heavy, sound-proof door that I can shut and maybe that will do the trick. I hope so anyway. Because I especially need my quiet solitude when deadlines are pressing down on me.

So what do you do to avoid the distractions? Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. Maybe most people write through them better than I do. But I must admit, the older I get and the busier I am the more they bug me. Any ideas or suggestions?”

DD

SIXTY TODAY! aka where has the time gone? by Kate Hardy

I should probably start by saying I’m not sixty years old – this is a different sixty I’m celebrating. So please forgive me for being a bit self-indulgent. (And blame my editor. She’s the one who said I had to do something about it. Which is why there’s a Facebook party going on today as well – there will be a link so, please go and say hello to my lovely author friends!

The story starts back in 2000, when I had a newborn and a very lively toddler, and I really, really wanted to write for Mills and Boon. I’d tried in my twenties and got nowhere (ahem – I now realise that a long letter encouraging you is, um, something you should pay attention to rather than assume it means ‘go away and stop annoying us’ – but back then I was a little more clueless).

And then, a couple of days before Christmas, Chloe was six weeks old and coughing. I was writing an article for one of the baby magazines on bronchiolitis and wondering, am I being paranoid or is she showing all the symptoms of bronchiolitis rather than just a nasty cold? I had a bad feeling about it, so I took her to see my GP – who immediately wrote a letter and handed it to me, and told me to take her straight to hospital.

So. One baby in hospital with bronchiolitis, on oxygen therapy, for a whole week, and this included her first Christmas. One panicky mum who knew too much for comfort. And the only way I could get through it was to sit at her bedside and start writing my first Medical romance.

My agent loved it, Mills and Boon loved it, and A BABY OF HER OWN was accepted on Chloe’s first birthday and published on her second birthday (and Ottakar’s in Norwich gave me a fabulous launch party – you can’t see them in this pic, but there were balloons and flowers and I felt like a total superstar!).

booklaunch 3I had to get a new name – because I was writing medical non-fiction, my editor wanted a split between my fiction and non-fiction. She asked me fro ‘something classic and English’. So I sat down with Chloe’s godmothers. Thomas Hardy was my specialist subject in the third year, and the most popular name in our year was Kate. So I became Kate Hardy.

And I was thrilled to discover that my books were translated into foreign languages! (Here’s the very first one with all its translations – English hardback and paperback, French, Japanese, English reprint, Italian, Finnish and Swedish.)

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One of the best thrills was having a Manga (Japenese cartoon edition). This is THE DOCTOR’S ROYAL LOVE CHILD – and I love the fact that they kept Dragan’s glasses, and the dog!

jan manga backOver the years I’ve made some wonderful friends (some of whom are sadly no longer with us – I particularly miss Medical authors Maggie Kingsley, Margaret McDonagh and Sheila Danton). Some of the friends are worldwide, and the nicest thing is that if I meet one of my author mates from New Zealand (waves to Louisa George, my blog twin) or Australia (waves to Amy Andrews and Carol Marinelli) for the very first time, they’re as lovely in person as they are online. (I’m not ignoring the US contingent here. I’m meeting Barbara Wallace in London this Thursday with some of the Cherish authors, and I know it’s going to be as great as when we met up with Michelle Douglas all the way from Aus last year.) I really can’t believe how lucky I am to count such talented people as my friends – they’re not just my colleagues, and there aren’t many jobs where you can say that.

In fact… here are some of the Med authors at the Meridien last month. (LTR Scarlet Wilson, Caroline Anderson, Kate Hardy, Louisa George.)

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I’ve also had some wonderful editors – here I am with Senior Medicals Editor Sheila Hodgson in 2006 at the Savoy in London, when I was first shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize with my Medical Romance WHERE THE HEART IS.

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In fact, I still have same wonderful editor (but because I write for two lines, I have two editors) – this is in the Meridien in London last month with Charlotte Mursell and Sheila Hodgson.

amba sept 14 charlotte pam and sheila

The whole point of this was sixty – and this week my sixtieth Mills and Boon is being released! IT STARTED WITH NO STRINGS is set in a tropical medicine department, and it’s also known as ‘Plague Squirrels’ because of a certain medical case. (Certain people – who had better remain nameless – egged me on hugely. There might have been speculation about whether my editor’s revision letter would start with ‘lose the squirrel’. But, y’know, authors need to have fun as well…)

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Sixty books published in 12 years – where has the time gone?

A lot of my author mates are coming to celebrate with me in a worldwide party on Facebook on Monday 6 October (thank you, Lynne, for getting my dates right!) – the link is here, so please come over and talk to us. There are books on offer, and other things as well… ;)

But, most important, thank you to my readers, my editors and my fellow writers for making the last sixty books (and twelve years) so fantastic. I really appreciate you all.

Number Four!

I really can’t believe book #4 released yesterday, because honestly it feels like I just sold yesterday. However, that could be the left over sedation talking. I spent release day in the hospital having some invasive testing done. Not fun, but sadly necessary. Fitting that my fourth Harlequin Medical releases and I spend it with Doctors.

At least this time I didn’t tell the cute doctors that they were excellent hero potential.

Yep, I did that. Last year, during  a procedure.

D’oh.

I hope you all enjoy my 4th book. It’s related to my 1st. If you’ve read Safe in His Hands Dare She Date Again? is George’s story.

I better crawl back into bed and try to sleep off the effects of the meds. Have a fantastic day everyone! xoxoxo

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To love again…?

Single mom and paramedic Samantha Doxtator has been living with a broken heart after losing her husband years ago. Now she’s finally back on track and following her dream to become an air ambulance pilot…after training one last student—George Atavik!

Since nearly losing his life in a plane crash, George will not waste the second chance he’s been given, and he won’t deny the sparks flying between him and his new mentor. Does Samantha dare risk her own carefully guarded heart for another opportunity at happiness?

Summer Pastimes

Last week I went to see Julius Caesar at The Globe. As The Globe is one of my favourite places to spend a summer’s afternoon, it’s always a bit sad when the end of the season approaches, but I do have tickets for one more production. ‘Pitcairn’ is one of the plays by modern playwrights that The Globe puts on every year.

The Globe is Shakespeare’s ‘Wooden O’ – a new theatre which is a replica of the original theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. When you go to see a production at The Globe, there’s a real sense that the building itself is one of the characters in the play – Shakespeare wrote for a theatre like this and the plays make so much more sense there. It stands on the South Bank of the Thames, and is not one of the most comfortable theatres I’ve ever been in, but it’s definitely the most magical.

Over the years, I’ve been a regular attendee. When tickets go on sale in the spring, I choose the plays I want to see (mostly all of them), and send off for my tickets. That’s not as expensive an exercise as it sounds – although the seats are more costly, you can stand in the yard for £5, which is the equivalent of what ‘groundlings’ paid in Shakespeare’s time.

So I’m part of the rabble. Groundlings are likely to have water thrown at them, be moved out of the way by actors making their way to the stage, or asked to hold props which aren’t in use at the moment. We also clap and chant, wave our hands and stamp our feet. Actually the foot stamping is only carried out when strictly necessary – when you’re standing for three hours you learn to be economical with that kind of thing.

There’s a great view of the stage, and if you find that you can’t see over the person in front’s head, then you just move.  Spots around the edge of the yard, where you can lean against the barriers, are hotly contested but I prefer to stand closer to the stage.  When I went last week, the groundlings became part of the fickle Roman crowd. Processions wound through the yard and we were moved back by Roman soldiers.  We were encouraged to chant and cheer for Caesar and then for Brutus – and so when Mark Anthony said ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ we really felt that he was talking to us, and trying to sway our opinions.

For me, summer wouldn’t really be summer without The Globe. What makes your summer?