Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Virtual Tour of Jasper

Lockdown. Travel restrictions. It suuuuuuucks.

Next week I was supposed to be packing and heading to Texas for my first ever Romance Author Mastermind run by Skye Warren. I was SO stoked to travel to Houston. I always wanted to go to Texas and I was doubly excited to attend RAM, which I had heard amazing things about.

Then 2020 happened. Thankfully, RAM is going to be online and I get to attend my third virtual conference of the year.

It got me thinking about travelling though. I kind of miss it.

Even parts of Canada are restricted. Each province has their own particular rules, including mine (Ontario).

I was hoping this past summer I could’ve gone back out west and taken fresh pictures of one of my favourite National Parks, Jasper, which is also the setting of my newest release A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family.

I was hoping for fresh pictures so I could do this blog post, but we’re going to have to stick with pictures of my last trip there in 2012. And these pictures represent places my characters have been!

So this is heading away from Hinton, Alberta and into the park. I never did get a good gate shot of the park entrance, but we’re just past the entrance. Along the river bank is where Candice and Jimmy would have parties with their friends when they were younger and it was along one of these shoulders that Candice and Jimmy delivered that wee baby.

I just thought this was a funny shot of my kids when they were MUCH younger. That little girl is going off to University next year and possibly way up north, so I had to throw in a shot of them so young. My eldest boy is also taller than me at 6 feet and the youngest is a preteen now. Time flies, but this was a shot taken from downtown Jasper. It’s Jasper the bear!

Waiting at the lower station at Whistler’s to take the tram up over Jasper, Alberta.
The campground at the base of this tram way is where there was some “bear” disturbances that Candice and Jimmy had to attend to. Also where Candice sprained her ankle.

This is a view from the top of Whistlers Peak. It was my first time up this mountain.

This is heading down the Maligne Lake road. The first time Candice and Jimmy worked together was at the Maligne Canyon with a wayward rock climber!
This is also where I saw my first grizzly bear off to the side of the road!

These are the rapids from Medicine lake that flow through the canyon. Their cold, fast and dangerous.







This is Medicine Lake, which I mention in the book. It’s right before Maligne Lake. Medicine Lake actually isn’t a lake, but a river. And it fills up during the melt (we were there in early July so it was still draining). The idea is like it’s a bathtub that filled too quickly and is draining slowly.
I thought it was beautiful, but I would like to see it drained when it returns to just a small trickle of a river.

It’s off this road to and near Maligne Lake where Candice and Jimmy start their hike up into the mountains. I never did that hike when I was there in 2012 because I had small kids and I wasn’t physically able to do it (It takes several days). My goal is to go back one day and do it!

Making sure I have lots of bear spray!

We shall see!

I hope you enjoyed my small virtual tour of Jasper, Alberta. I have way more photos, but not enough space to share them all!

Keep safe and healthy! ❤

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

‘You Better Learn How to Type’

How a touch typist temp became a romance novelist…

My typewriter at home…

These were the wise, wise words of my grandmother when I told her I was going to be an actress when I grew up. ‘You better learn how to type.’ I did. And she was right. More than she ever could have known.

The original plan, of course, was to be an immensely famous actress for half of the year. By the age of twenty-one I had planned to be swanning around the world like Meryl Streep and only doing roles with exotic and hard to tackle accents. Natch. The other half of the year I was going to teach literature at America’s Gaulladet University – a centre of learning for deaf and hard of hearing student as its youngest and most passionate professor of English Literature. (I had learned sign language in a play and was DETERMINED to use it to spread my love of books. That should’ve been the first clue that I was destined to become a writer.

The second should’ve been the ten years I spent working for Associated Press as a news producer, writer and cameraman. Where, it should be noted, I was originally hired because of my very speedy typing. I transcribed a gazillion soundbites from the raw footage our crews sent in before graduating to the more glamorous job of inserting them into scripts and, eventually, going out into the field and filming stories.

Then, one day it hit me. I didn’t want to film the story. I wanted to WRITE the story. Luckily for me, I had a friend who dared me to try and write a Mills & Boon in a weekend. (We both wrote very quickly, had just written a play that had done well at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival and thought we were so WONDROUSLY TALENTED, surely we could each write a book in a weekend.

Well.

You can imagine how that went. (cue: wannnh-wonnnnh!)

Time passed. More jobs came and went. I filmed animals AND children. I worked for MTV for a spell and felt very, very old even though I was only thirty-five. My going away present there was a gorgeous stack of books. Everyone protested. ‘What? Books!?!?’ They cried. ‘Yes,’ said my dear friend Steven. ‘Have you not met her?’

I couldn’t let the writing bug go. I don’t like to fail. I also love to write. And then I found my magic ingredient. I fell head over heels in love with romance. I was taking inspiration from everything everywhere. (See above). And then…I actually fell in love with a tall blonde Scotsman. I didn’t even like blondes and I fell in love with him, dear reader! And in two weeks, I wrote my very first Mills & Boon. Which they rejected. But they also wrote an incredibly detailed and very encouraging letter back. So I tried again. And one more time. And then, after I’d taken a couple of years off and learned how to raise pigs and cows and bees…I tried one more time. And Lo and behold! The Surgeon’s Christmas Wish was born.

Is my first book my best? Who knows? It’s definitely one of my favourites. It’s definitely one of my favourite covers. I LOVE IT! My favourite favourite is probably The Nightshift Before Christmas. No. My ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE is whichever one I’m writing. Right now I’m writing one set in Hawaii with the working title, Aloha to Amour. I love it the most, too. And before that I loved the one with dogs the most. (Are you sensing a trend?)

So that’s it my little munchkins. The very, very long and winding road that finally led me to become a published author. And what a joyous arrival it has been. Tell me, what’s inspired you to do something you love?

xx Annie O’

The Writing Life

Finding Happiness in New (or Revisited) Projects

This year has been hard in so many ways. But several months ago I decided I needed to draw my happiness from what I have rather than dwell on things I’m missing out on. So, I took on more writing projects than I normally would have (I’m actually working on revisions that are due on Monday morning). I’m also adding a twist to hobbies I already have.

  1. I’m still gardening, but I tried growing something different this year. Brussels Sprouts. Yes…really. Because, well, I love them. And they’re super cool to watch grow. I wasn’t sure how well they would do, but they’ve actually surprised me. I grew six plants and despite the recent freezes, they haven’t died off, and there are more sprouts still to harvest. Yum!
  2. I’m also a quilter and have always done my quilting by hand. But several months ago, I blogged about my foray into the world of machine quilting (free motion quilting). I’ve loved it. So much so that I bought a new sewing machine to use just for this purpose. I also bought a quilting frame to put it on. So now, rather than pushing my fabric around under my machine, I pull my machine over my fabric. It is a wonderful improvement, and I’m having fun just playing.
  3. I’m also trying to be a better chicken mom. Well, my chickens already have a pretty nice life, but I felt like they needed a new coop in which to shelter over the winter. It’s not quite done, but it’s shaping up, and I think my little egg-layers are going to love it!

What about you? Any new or revisited hobbies or projects you’ve been working on this year? I would love to hear about them!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

What to Watch – and Read! – Next: Hospital Playlist

Hello! It’s Hannah, here. I’m the Assistant Editor, for the Harlequin Medical Romance team. It’s great to be back, on Love is the Best Medicine. I can’t wait, today, to wax lyrical about my favourite topic: K-Dramas (a.k.a. Korean dramas)! Or, more specifically, the Medical K-Drama you have to add to your to-watch list…

What’s the Medical K-Drama I have to watch, I hear you ask? Drum roll, please! It’s time to talk all things Hospital Playlist!

OK, time for a quick plot run-down! Hospital Playlist tells the story of doctors and nurses working at Yulje Medical Center. It focuses on five doctors who have been friends since they entered medical school in 1999.

Jam-packed with high-stakes drama, tear-jerking emotion and stay-with-you relationships, Hospital Playlist has it all. What’s more? It’s filled with every trope that a Harlequin Medical Romance fan could wish for!

Trope #1? Meet single dad Ik-joon! Lead character, Ik-joon’s relationship with his son, Woo-joo melts my heart… We have, at Harlequin Medical Romance, a single dad of our own, to melt your heart: Carter, the hero of The Single Dad’s Holiday Wish by Susan Carlisle.

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Trope #2? This is a spoiler-free zone. So, I hope I’m not giving anything away, by saying that Ik-Joon and Song-hwa’s slooow-burn, will-they won’t-they romance had me on tenterhooks! If you’re looking for a second chance romance, just like Ik-Joon and Song-hwa’s, then It Started with a Winter Kiss by Tina Beckett and A Reunion, a Wedding, a Family by Amy Ruttan are for you!

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Trope #3? My favourite part about Medical Dramas, full stop, is watching a team work – and bond –together. I just loved watching the doctors and nurses, at Yulje Medical Center, interact and grow closer! If you’re fascinated, by the way a hospital team works, then the Royal Christmas at Seattle General miniseries will be a treat. Featuring Falling for the Secret Prince by Alison Roberts, Neurosurgeon’s Christmas to Remember by Traci Douglass, The Bodyguard’s Christmas Proposal by Charlotte Hawkes and The Princess’s Christmas Baby, Royal Christmas at Seattle General is the perfect festive read!

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With word that Season 2 of Hospital Playlist will begin filming, this year, it’s the perfect time to fall in love with Season 1. If you do watch, or read any of my recommendations, I’d love to hear what you think!

In the meantime… Happy watching and reading!

With love,

Hannah

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The GP’s Secret Baby Wish

Copies of my 36th mills & Boon Medical Romance arrived on Friday and it was as exciting to hold as my very first one , Their Marriage Miracle, was ten years ago.

Scary how fast the time has gone, and here’s to the next ten years and loads more stories.

Today I sent in the second in a three book series I’m writing based around search and Rescue in the Central Otago Lakes District with Queenstown as the centre for my heroes and heroines. With the mountains, dense bush and lakes there’s plenty of scenarios for accidents and our medical saviours to do their bit.

Before starting book 3 I’m taking a couple of days off to attack the overgrown raspberry patch and get the house ready for a paint job. If the weather plays ball, that is. We’ve not had a wonderful spring so fingers crossed summer does a better job.

Have you got any jobs around the house that need attacking?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Small Early Christmas Gift–Under The Kissing Ball

Hello everyone. I wanted to share a little bit of my Christmas novella Under The Kissing Ball. It is out now for only $.99.

A Christmas kiss between friends is simple, until it isn’t… Clarissa Chalmers Simmons’ world is in turmoil. After fleeing an abusive marriage and her divorce, all she wants is to heal and create a calm, safe environment for her children. She’s returned to her ancestral home and the comfort of family, which includes a trusted childhood friend, Roger. She finds him handsome and sweet, but too set in his ways for her taste. With Roger’s encouragement and help, Clarissa takes on a new position in the family business and gains personal satisfaction she’s never known. What she doesn’t plan on is her and Roger’s ‘under the mistletoe ball’ kiss rocking her world. Roger Clarke, is the easy-going estate manager at Hartley Castle and a confirmed bachelor. He has always been there in Clarissa’s background but recently has become her rock-steady confidant. Despite his long-held secret feelings for the flighty, beautiful and willful Clarissa, he has never acted on them. He’s not a suitable match for her. After all he is an employee of his best friend and her brother, Lord Hartley. Even if given the chance, Roger has no desire to become the rebound guy. Despite that, if he doesn’t act on Clarissa’s passionate reaction to his kiss, he might lose his chance of having the only woman who’s ever stirred his heart. This book is a part of the Modern Masters of Their Castle Series.




“You have to kiss. You’re standing under the kissing ball!” Clarissa Simmons’s children Jonathan and Margaret called in unison as they looked away from the video game they had been playing to point at the mistletoe.  

Their uncle’s fiancé, Allison Moore had just explained at dinner the reason she’d hung the ball-shaped mass of greenery in the doorway of the Hartley Castle library, in Hartshire, England.  

Clarissa looked up at the orb and then to Roger Clarke, the estate manager who stood beside her. He’d been her friend, and her brother Ian’s best friend, for almost a lifetime. Roger’s handsome brown brows rose in question. Was he asking if he could or if she would?

It had been over a year since she’d last kissed a man. Her horrible marriage, ugly divorce and impossible ex-husband had soured her on anything related to kissing. Still Roger had been a friend who made no demands. She’d be participating in a tradition for the kids. What could be the big deal about a friendly kiss?

She gave Roger a direct look as if to say “you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Her eyes widened as he stepped forward. His fingertips lightly touched her waist. Her body heated. That response she hadn’t anticipated.

Her gaze locked with his as his mouth lowered. Her eyes fluttered closed. She had no idea what to expect because she’d never thought of kissing Roger. But the feather brush of his full, firm lips stole her breath and sent her heartbeat flying.

Seconds later his mouth settled over hers and took possession. His fingers gripped tighter at her waist, yet he maintained his distance. Roger’s lips planted themselves on hers as if they belonged there. Her ears roared. She moaned and leaned toward him.

Then his mouth was no longer there, along with the heat that had washed through her. Roger was gone. He had stepped back, creating space between them. 

Clarissa shivered as cool air surrounded her. She took an unsteady step, struggling to keep her knees from buckling. Through a daze, she looked at Roger. His emerald eyes held a yellow flame of fire before he blinked, smothering it. Her gaze moved to his mouth. She licked her lower lip to ease the tingle lingering there. She quaked. What a kiss.

Jonathan and Margaret’s squeals of delight then giggles had her regaining her composure.

She glanced at the kissing ball as if it had some kind of magical powers. Who knew the straitlaced, always focused on business, and in her opinion rather dull, Roger Clarke could kiss like a top-dollar gigolo?

            Her brother Ian Chalmers, Lord Hartley, hand in hand with Allison took that moment to enter the room.

            “What’s all the commotion?” Allison looked to the children.

            “Uncle Roger had to kiss Mum because they were under the kissing ball,” Jonathan offered with a grin.

            Still stunned, Clarissa flickered a look at Roger who moved to the fireplace. He looked into it a moment before he turned and placed his hands behind his back as if warming them. He watched her as if what had passed between them had not impacted him one way or the other. Not even his eyes held any emotion. The audacity of the man. She wanted to kick him. Here she was barely standing with her nerves still shaking as if they were salt in a shaker.

            Allison looked at the kids with a teasing grin. “I told you what would happen if you stood under it.”

            Ian seized the moment to pull Allison into his arms. “You only hung it because you would manufacture any excuse to kiss me.” He gave Allison a quick kiss on the lips.

            Allison giggled. “With you I don’t have to get the kids involved to get a kiss.”

            He chuckled.

            Clarissa enjoyed seeing her brother so happy yet was envious she’d not found that same love and companionship in her life. It had always eluded her. With knees still trembling, she made her way over and joined her children on the sofa. At least with her sitting she didn’t have to worry about collapsing. 

            “Mum, when do we get to open our Christmas presents?” Margaret looked at her with longing, her five-year-old’s patience being stretched thin as seven-year-old Jonathan watched for her response.

            Clarissa looked to the beautifully decorated tree in the far corner of the room. “I’ve already total you, honey. We’ll do that on Christmas Day.”

            “How long to Christmas Day?” Margaret asked.  

            Daring a glance at Roger, she found him watching her. Her heart tripped. His look held hers for a second before it flickered away. What had that kiss been about? She still didn’t understand what had happened in those brief moments. Her world had tipped sideways. Didn’t she have enough turmoil in her life already after the move to Hartley Castle and the divorce?

            Roger said, “What you need is a calendar so you can mark off the days. That’s what my Mum used to use. Have your Mum bring you to my office tomorrow and I’ll let you use a big one I have. You can even mark it off yourself. How will that work?”

            “Can I Mum?” Margaret’s eyes widened with an eager look.

            “Me too?” Jonathan asked leaning toward her.

            Roger stepped away from the fire adjusting his sweater as if he had warmed himself enough. “Of course you may, but Margaret gets to do the marking.”

            “That’s very nice of you, Roger.” Clarissa offered him what she hoped looked like a full-on appreciative smile while not chancing direct eye contact. She’d just managed to get her heart to settle down.

            Fifteen minutes later, Roger excused himself, needing to check on some work before he departed for his cottage.

Clarissa watched his broad back as his long strides took him toward the door. Just a few years older than Ian, he had a few silver hairs intermingled within his dark waves. They gave him a distinguished look that added to his charm.

 She shook her head dumbfounded by the realization she found him attractive. Roger had been in her life for as long as she could remember. His father had been the estate manager before Roger. When his father passed away, Roger had stepped into the role. He was Ian’s right-hand man. She’d followed them around as a little girl. Where Ian had acted irritated to have her there, Roger showed compassion to the girl with no other play companions during her holidays at the castle. Since moving to the castle permanently, their friendship had grown, and he’d become her valued confidant.

She couldn’t get over her reaction to Roger’s kiss? Why had it affected her? Was it because it had been so long since she’d been kissed? Maybe it had been an abnormal occurrence. Her eyes widened. Or had it been because she’d kissed Roger?

*

Mid-morning the next day, Roger checked his emails in his office in the castle without much interest. He groaned. The evening before he’d had to make an excuse to leave the library before he acted on his impulse to tug Clarissa under the kissing ball again. How many times had he thought about kissing her over the last few months? Too many to count.  

At Jonathan’s and Margaret’s insistence he kiss Clarissa, he’d taken his chance. His fascination with her had become as much a part of him as his skin.  

When she’d run away and married he hadn’t been surprised. She’d always been a free spirit, pushing against the structure of the rigid social world Ian had accepted. She tagged along behind him and Ian when they were boys. Younger than them, more than once he had to defend her against Ian who didn’t always want his sister around. Yet Roger liked the joy Clarissa found in life. His seemed so gray in comparison. He found her invigorating.  

As she became a young woman he watched as men visited her at the castle. Just as mesmerizing as the other young men found her, Roger had too. He wanted the same attention she gave them while knowing it wasn’t to be. He was an employee of the family, not of the same position.

He heard footsteps in the hallway. Clarissa and her children were on their way to his office door. Jonathan and Margaret rushed to him without hesitation coming straight to his desk. Clarissa lingered at the door with an unsure look in her eyes.

Had he scared her last night? He believed he’d kept his feelings for her well covered.  Their relationship had always been an easy one. He had no desire for that to change. His gaze met hers as he gave her a reassuring smile. The children stood on either side of his desk chair. They’d been coming to his office at one time or another since they had come to live at the castle months earlier. He lifted Margaret onto his knee as Jonathan moved in close enough that his shoulder pressed against Roger’s arm.   

“Uncle Roger, we’re ready to look at the calendar. What’s a calendar?” Margaret looked at him as if he had all the answers to life.

Roger chuckled. Clarissa’s soft laugh washed through him like warm honey. When she’d first returned to the castle she been subdued and had lost some of that spirit he’d always enjoyed. Slowly it had started to return. Her friendship with Allison had helped. Yet shadows filled Clarissa’s eyes when she believed no one watched her.

“A calendar tells us the months and the days of a year.” He pushed some papers to the side so his large desk calendar could be clearly seen. “This is my big calendar.” He pointed to a square. “This is today.”

“Right there’s Christmas Eve.” Jonathan’s voice rose with excitement as he pointed at another box.

“That’s right. And Christmas Day is the next day.” Roger pointed to the next square.

A hint of a floral smell caught Roger’s attention. Raising his head, he saw that Clarissa now stood on the other side of the desk. He filled his nose with the enticing scent.

She wore a gentle smile, her eyes indulgent.

He returned his attention to the children. “I put out a special pen so you could mark the days with it.” He pulled off the top of the pen and handed it to Margaret. “You can draw an X across today.”

Margaret carefully made a squiggly mark.

Roger pointed to the square with December 19th in it then to Christmas Day. “Now see here, this is how long it is until you can open presents. Jonathan, why don’t you count the days for us?”

The boy stood taller in his importance. Roger grinned as he listened to Jonathan count off the days.  

Clarissa had shifted around the desk as if she were making an effort to see better. He looked at her to find a proud smile on her face. His chest swelled with pleasure as he watched her. He had to admit she had great kids despite their loser dad. Clarissa had done a good job raising them. His focus returned to Margaret. Lifting her off his knee, he sat her on her feet beside him. “Tomorrow, come back and we’ll mark off another day. Before you know, it will be time to open presents.”

Clarissa waved a hand. “Come on kids, we’ve taken up enough of Uncle Roger’s time. I’m sure he has other things he needs to do.”

 “It’s nice to have a break.” Roger stood. That was an understatement. Managing the estate and the additional duties Ian had given him with his new venture of the environmental studio had taken its toll. They had already talked about hiring more help after the new year but it couldn’t happen soon enough for Roger. He’d been drowning in paperwork lately. Add in overseeing the greenhouse construction and Ian’s absence, the stress had started getting to him. Yet he had no intention of letting on. “I’ll see you at dinner, okay?”

Clarissa placed a hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and gave him a nudge toward the door. Margaret followed. Clarissa turned to leave but looked at Roger once more. “Thanks. I appreciate that. This Christmas isn’t going to be anything like the others and it’s nice to see both of them smile. You’re wonderful with them.”

Roger moved closer to her. “It’s not a problem. They’re great kids. I enjoy having them around. I needed the break.”

She glanced at his desktop where stacks of folders and papers were strewn about. “You do look busier than normal.”

“A little. Uh…about that kiss last night.”

Clarissa’s eyes took on a caged animal wildness before she looked away. A hint of pink rested on her cheeks as her eyes darted around. “I’m the one who’s sorry. The kids shouldn’t have put you in that position.” She waved a hand as she headed toward the door. “It was no big deal really. I’ll let you get back to work.”

Roger swallowed hard. His heart dropped. No big deal, she says.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Friday the Thirteenth

Today is that most uncomfortable of days, Friday 13th.  When every kind of calamity is supposed to happen, and after dark…  we just won’t talk about what happens after dark on Friday 13th…

But I’d like to take a different view.  Welcome to this Friday 13th!  I hope you have a great day!  Because Friday 13th is my lucky day.

It hasn’t always been. I adopted this rather unlikely tradition after a discussion with a friend at work – we saw eye to eye on most things but Friday 13th was the exception to the rule.  My friend was convinced that Friday 13th would bring her every bad thing that she could think of, along with a few that she couldn’t. To me, it was just another day.

So one Friday 13th, we decided on a little experiment. We’d start at 8.30 in the morning, when we arrived at work, and write lists. My list would contain all the good things that had happened that day, and my friend’s would contain all the bad things. We were each quietly confident that our own list would prove the longest and settle the question for good.

We stayed late after work, and compared notes (we couldn’t go to the pub or a coffee bar and do it in comfort, because my friend was sure that unnecessary travel would prompt all kinds of catastrophe). The lists were both long and detailed, and while I don’t remember exactly who had the most entries, it was more or less a tie. My friend continued in her dread of the date, and it became my lucky day.

x500_a49f5ff2-667d-40bf-998d-be86c1aa0c7a_360xSo, it’s without any trepidation at all, that I bring you the cover of my latest book, which is released this month. Cal and Andrea are hoping to make their friends’ wedding day perfect, but they meet with their share of bad luck, including a particularly distressing accident with the cake!  Somehow they manage to get through it all – and maybe that’s the whole point of my Friday the 13th story.  That having our friends and loved ones stand by us, through both good luck and bad, makes everything better.

Do you have a particular charm, or routine, to bring you luck?  I’d like to think that I’m not very superstitious, but then I do always cross my fingers when a new book makes its way out into the world…

EDIT – And I’ve just seen that Harlequin have a Friday 13th offer, to bring us some good fortune today!  If you buy 4 books or more then you save 40% on your order – the offer runs from 12.00am to 11.59pm ET on Friday 13th November.  Here’s the link!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Learning to Like Lemonade

I should be packing for a trip to Key West right now, only for the second month in a row I’ve had to reschedule the trip due to the tropical storms and hurricanes this year. Though I live in Florida, I’m over 700 miles from the keys and while our weather has been warm the water at the beach is getting cold so I was looking forward to some time on the southern beaches. Also I’d planned on doing some research for a future book set around a Key West helicopter rescue crew that I’m really excited about writing.

At first I was really disappointed, both me and my husband had managed to coordinate our schedules for the time off which doesn’t happen very often. Except for weekend camping trips, this was to be our first trip together in five years. And that’s when it hit me. Our last trip had been to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains where we’d spent hours on the back porch enjoying the views.

Fifteen minutes later I’d made last minute reservations at the only cabin I could find available that promised seclusion and amazing views.

The next day I was talking to my youngest daughter about the changes in our plans and she was telling me how much she is over this year, as we all are I’m sure. She challenged me to find a way to look at this last year with some type of optimism and to share it with her. I told her I would, but to be honest I’m not sure there’s enough sugar in the world to sweeten all the lemons we’ve been given this year. It’s been a rough one. I’ve finally decided that instead of looking at this time as a whole, we just need to make the most of all the little things that have brought us pleasure this year and the small moments we’ve had to enjoy being with our loved ones even if it hasn’t all been in person.

So I’m putting away my bathing suit today and pulling out my winter clothes. This trip wasn’t what I had planned, but I’m determined to make the best of it. I’m even considering writing a romantic Christmas novella about a new divorcee and her hot neighbor whose a park ranger in the Smokies. And with views like this I’m sure I’ll find the inspiration I need.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The world might be chaotic but we can still find joy!

I’m an Australian and I live in the state of Victoria. Down here it’s a month away from the official start of summer and after 12 weeks of being locked down harder than any other state in our nation, we are celebrating nine days in a row of 0 cases of Covid and 0 deaths. Track back to July (winter) and we had community transmission. I am so proud of our community. It hasn’t been easy. Not every one was happy and not everyone wanted to row the boat towards achieving this epic situation. Fear brought out the worst aspects of people’s personalities as well as the best. Victorians became the pariahs of Australia. Borders are still closed to us. I haven’t seen my eldest son IRL in 11 months, my sister in a year and my elderly parents since June. I feel so blessed that we have technology to ‘see’ them and often think of my grandmother who didn’t see her family for 30 years!

BUT in the midst of all this pandemic, good things continue to happen and I embraced the good things. I crocheted hero bears, plague bears and a baby Yoda for relaxation. We even made a video…

Spring came and with it warmer weather, which helps kick Covid to the curb. The gardens are a riot of colour. Readers reach out daily, telling me that they might be locked down but my books were helping. Canadians are discovering my big family and community sagas. Yay! I’ve always considered Canadians to be like cousins, cos you know, we’re in the Commonwealth and they have the Queen on the money too 😉 Big mushy kiss, Canada! And then on Monday, my eldest son announced his engagement. How excited are we! Now, the junk mail is arriving and apparently Christmas is on its way and again we will find a way to celebrate. Hopefully by then we will be allowed to have some visitors to our home.

If you love a Christmas read and you never caught up with A NEWBORN BABY FOR CHRISTMAS you can still grab it as an ebook. It is a modern retelling of the Christmas story with a big Australian flavor…Christmas in summer. It’s available wherever you buy your eBooks.

If you want to gift a great read to friends and family or treat yourself, all four of my ‘make ’em laugh, make ’em cry’ family and community sagas, are available in print, ebook and audio, everywhere. At At 450-500 pages, Daughter of Mine, Birthright, Home Fires and Just an Ordinary Family are a great escape for a keen reader.

http://www.fionalowe.com/index.php/sagas

For our Northern Hemisphere readers, Covid-19 loves cold weather and the next few months will be challenging. Please know we are thinking of you.

Fiona xx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

Do Something with Your Writing!

I do not remember a time when I was not a storyteller. It’s cliché, but the truth. I was in my early twenties before I realized that other people didn’t put themselves to sleep by telling themselves a story in their head. I am in my late thirties now, and this is still how my brain shuts itself off.

Characters have been popping into my head for as long as I can remember. Some stay for a few hours, others are still crackling around years later. I have a fantasy heroine named Annabelle that has perpetually dropped in over the last decade. One day I may have to tell her tale—though maybe she is here only for me.

My first story

I was in the second grade when I wrote my first book. Here is a very proud me holding the book in the picture. Mrs. Jones required all her students to “publish” at least one book by the end of the year. This consisted of a few pages with author drawn pictures that the parents laminated and bound. I loved it—well, the writing part. I have never enjoyed drawing and if I had known how to hire an illustrator, and found one willing to work for lollipops, I would have gone that route!

 In high school my English teacher challenged all of us to write a short story. I say challenged, but it was a graded assignment. There are few assignments that I remember, but my short story was called Homeward Bound. While it didn’t strictly follow the rules for a romance, it was a love story. My first! I don’t remember the actual grade, but at the top of my page were the words Do Something with Your Writing.

I treasured those words. I held them close with the belief that one day I might claim success. Then I took a college creative writing course. And it destroyed my burgeoning belief in my skill.

I am not so naïve as to believe that my early work deserved straight As or even Bs. But I do think they deserved more than the Nothing will come of this statement they received.

While I can’t prove it, and my memory is jaded by time and temper, I think my first foray into the world of romance turned off my professor. The belief that characters deserved a happily ever after, rather than an angsty end, was not welcome. The world does not reflect this—another line attached to a story I wrote. Which I still find interesting in a CREATIVE writing class.

Unfortunately, my professor was right. The world often doesn’t provide a happily ever after. But sometimes it does. And EVERYONE, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, deserves one.  A truth I will scream from the mountains until my final breath.

I wish I had been strong enough to tell my professor I thought he was wrong. To point out the countless romance writers who’d made careers out of happily ever afters, to state with conviction that romance is the bestselling genre and it’s not even close (though that was a piece of info I didn’t have).

Instead, I let my voice be stolen. I packed away my pens and did my best to ignore the flame within me. But those five little words scrawled on the top of a short story refused to disappear from my heart. It took many years, more than I wish to revisit even now, but eventually I burst one evening and told my husband I wanted to write. I needed to get stories out.

We’d been married for many years at that point, had two children not yet in grade school, were both working full time—basically not the perfect recipe for putting words on the page—but he looked at me and said okay. Then he followed through and let me go spend an hour or two at the library each week without complaint that there were other more pressing things at home (see real romance heroes exist).

It took one ridiculous fantasy novel (I’ve shown the opening to the writer’s group I run, so they can see how far you can come–it’s bad), a few false starts and a historical romance that I have finally admitted is just my proof I could write a romance novel but its characters will only live in my mind, to get to published status.

But all these years later, I can say I did something with my writing. I mailed my first book, Unlocking the Ex-Army Doc’s Heart, to my English teacher with a note of thanks. I did not mail it to my college professor (though I admit being tempted). 

I believe you should write what you want. And if that means angsty tragedies, go forth and conquer, but my stories will always leave you (and me) feeling happy. So tell the story growing on your heart, no matter what it is.