Inspiration – where I get my ideas from…

We’re thrilled to welcome Emma Fraser to ‘Love is the Best Medicine’ today.  Writing as Anne Fraser, Emma has delighted us with her Medical Romances, and now writes historical fiction.  Over to you, Emma…

As an author one of the questions I’m asked most often is where do I get my ideas from?

Some of you will know that I used to write Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon. As an ex-nurse ideas for those books were never a problem. But I have always been fascinated with the past – perhaps being Scottish has something to do with it. In Scotland, evidence of by gone lives is never more than a few feet away.

For my first historical When the Dawn Breaks, I started off researching the first women doctors. Almost immediately the name Elsie Inglis came up. When I trained as a nurse in Edinburgh there used to be an Elsie Inglis Hospital but I never knew why it was called that. It turns out that amongst other things Elsie Inglis was the driving force behind the establishment of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals – an all women unit that went out to Serbia, France and Greece during WW1. (The British Government refused their help so Dr Inglis went straight to the Serbian and French governments and offered to help them instead. They accepted with alacrity and within months, the Scottish Women’s Hospital was serving close to the front lines in these countries.)

When I discovered the story I knew I had to write about it and the kind of women who would have the courage and determination to not only become doctors and nurses at a time when it was still very difficult for women to qualify but who would have the courage and determination to volunteer to work close to the front line.

For my second historical, We Shall Remember, my daughter told me about two Polish doctors who had found away of mimicking a false positive for Typhus and they used this discovery to save thousands of Polish lives during WW2. The real event turned out to have only a small part in my story but it led to the creation of my Polish heroine, Irene.

So real events are one place I find inspiration but so too are places. In When the Dawn Breaks I knew I wanted it set partly on Skye. I worked there for a while when I was a teenager and still think it one of the most magical places in the world. Co-incidentally my first ever published piece – an article for the school magazine when I was seven – was a story about Dunvegan castle and it’s dungeon. One of the scenes in When the Dawn Breaks is set around this dungeon.

In both books I was also inspired by the thought – what would I do if I had been forced to trek over frozen Montenegrin mountains in the dead of winter (When the Dawn Breaks) or been asked to go back to a country to spy knowing I could be facing death at any moment? (We Shall Remember.) I doubt I would have been as brave as either of my heroines!

My third book, The Shipbuilder’s Daughter was partly inspired by mother who was a Green Lady (a midwife and health visitor) and who worked in one of the poorest areas in Glasgow during the fifties. This is a photo of the syringe she would have used on home visits.

The Shipbuilder’s Daughter is set in the late twenties and thirties but many of the problems of over crowding and poverty were as bad in the fifties as in the twenties and thirties. Glasgow was famous for its ship building industry – but while the owners of the shipyards lived in luxury, their workers often lived just above the breadline. My grandfather worked in the shipyards after serving in world war one but the incessant smog that afflicted Glasgow at that time, spurred him to return to the place of his birth – North Uist – a place I spent many happy childhood holidays. And North Uist is where my heroine goes to work as a doctor when she is forced to flee Glasgow.

I feel so lucky to live in a country steeped in history with some of the most stunning landscape in the world and all three books are at least partly based in Scotland.

But ultimately my stories are about people and their relationships. A place or an event might start me thinking about the book, but it is the characters and their story that really matter.

Are there any places in Scotland that you have visited and been inspired by or that you’d like to visit and why?

Thanks to my medical author friends for inviting me on to this blog!

‘When the Dawn Breaks’ and ‘We Shall Remember’ are both available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

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Cheeky Boasters

When I volunteered to fill in on the blog today, I found a good-hearted challenge in my inbox.  ‘Why don’t you brag about yourself?’  So I thought I might give it a go…

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Mission Accomplished?  This is a lot harder than it sounds.

Why is it so difficult to brag about ourselves?  It isn’t that I’m not proud of things I’ve worked hard to achieve.  And it isn’t that I’ve ever lacked encouragement.  One of the things which has shaped my life, is that I’ve always had the good fortune to have people around me who tell me that they’re proud of me.  There just isn’t anything which springs readily to mind.

But, since I’ve already said I would, I’m going to close my eyes, concentrate hard and give it another try.  What am I most proud of today?

I’m proud that my fifteenth book was accepted last week.  And that the editors have already given it a gorgeous title ‘The Doctor’s Diamond Proposal’.

I’m proud that so far I’ve walked over 360 miles of the ‘1,000 miles in 2016’ challenge that I took on in January.  A little slowed down by blisters in the last couple of weeks, but I’m not giving up.

I’m rather proud of my photograph!  I’m not the world’s greatest photographer so it’s always a bit of a surprise when my photos come out even slightly well.  This is one that I’ve taken for my new website, which I’m working on at the moment and is due to be unveiled next month.

I’m so proud that I’m about to be published in Hungary for the first time!  Next month sees the release of the Hungarian version of ‘The Enigmatic Surgeon’ and there are two more titles to be released later on in 2016.

So that’s my bragging done for the day, and I have to say that I rather enjoyed it.  I’d love it if you’d join me.  Take a deep breath, blow your own trumpet as loudly as you can, and make me proud!

Annie x

Good Words

by Susan Carlisle

For some reason good words have been on my mind lately. So today I going to share some words that I think standout above others.

LOVE   We all need it, hunt for it, desire it. Without it the world would no longer exist.

FREE   We all like something for free. Just ask a group of woman at a conference. My husband says, “If it’s free, it’s for me.”

SWIM   I love to swim. It is my exercise of choice. I swim at least four days a week.

HELLO   Everyone likes to be spoken to. A simple hello can change a person’s day.

THANKS Kindest is never underrated. Appreciating someone is important

SUNSET    Enjoying beautiful sunset always makes the day end better. Sharing it with someone you love is even better.

THE END  Okay, this is two words but they are a writer’s favorite. There is nothing better than writing the end on a page

FRIENDS Friends are important. It is said that if a person has five good friends they are rich. Few have more than one. Always be a good friend.

VACTION/HOLIDAY   Days off are the best. We look forward to them, count on them, and cherish them.

BOOKS   I can’t imagine life without books. I love books and live to read a great one.

FAMILY   My husband, children, grandchildren, mother and brother mean everything to me. They are the reason I live and enjoy life.

 

Those are some of my favorite words. What are yours?

 

I have a new book out this month. Married for the Boss’s Baby

An unexpected baby…51aKeWdgBtL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_

When successful surgeon Grant Smythe’s baby half sister is orphaned, Grant is determined to be there for little Lily—unlike his own father.

A convenient proposal…

But a challenge for custody means Grant needs a wife, too! New nanny Sara Marcum is the ideal candidate…

A wife forever?

It might be temporary, but soon warmhearted Sara completes more than just Grant’s family. Can he convince his bride-for-now to become his forever wife?

Fall in Love with Medical Romance this Summer!

After a week of beautiful days filled with sunshine here in London there is only one thing on the minds of the Medical Romance team—summer holidays! From sandy beaches in exotic locations to city breaks in bustling capitals east and west to cosy country getaways here on the British Isles there’s been no end of discussion about how to make the most of the long days, warm nights and bright promise the summer season brings.

So, what is your trusty Medical Romance Editorial Team up to this summer?

Laura:

Though I’ve just returned from a week in Paris with a sojourn to the Loire Valley to go chateau-hopping (because why not?!) I’m already busy planning my next great adventure…to California for the RWA conference! It’s my first visit to the west coast and so I’m planning to make the most of it and will be enjoying the conference—and the opportunity to visit with some of my North American authors. Yay!—before heading off on a two-week road-trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. The wind in the hair, the sun on my skin—I can already feel the sense of total bliss!

Laura in the Loire Valley

Laura in the Loire Valley

Laura Outside the Louvre

Laura outside The Louvre

Sheila:

I’ve also just been to France—it’s on our doorstep and yet a world away. It’s a place where many of our Medical readers live, French ladies just love our authors’ romances and so I feel completely at home! In May good weather is never guaranteed, so we simply drove south until we hit some sunshine and found ourselves amidst the old world charm of Bordeaux and the delights of the Dordogne. What a place to feast on natural beauty and bounty – of course we had to visit the wine route! This summer I’m looking forward to the Romance Writers of America Conference, with the lovely Laura and some other colleagues, and catching up with both authors and readers around the world. Beyond that, well who knows, the Mediterranean is too good to miss in the summer, and my mind always turns to those gorgeous Italian doctor heroes that our authors write about – so Italy is next on my hit list!

Sheila’s French Getaway

Sheila’s French Getaway

Sheila’s French Getaway

Tilda:

 My first trip of the summer may not get me any stamps on my passport (or a tan, if that were even possible), but it is getting me excited for what lies ahead! First I’m heading to Somerset for the hilly countryside and hopefully some lazing in a hot tub (even if it’s raining). But the main event of my summer is a week in Cyprus, the sunny isle whose name I’ve only just learned to spell…and I couldn’t be more excited about my first holiday there! Naturally my bikini is already purchased, but I’ll still be torn between decadent days in the pool and trying to watch as much of the Olympics as humanly possible…

 

London in the Sunshine

London in the sunshine

There’s no doubt that all this jet-setting is going to be brilliant inspiration—the possibilities for where we’ll set our next miniseries are endless! And, of course, we aren’t the only ones who are getting that itch to travel! Our Medical Romance authors will also be on the move which means we get the pleasure of seeing some of them here in London. In fact, we’ve already welcomed both Amy Andrews and Fiona McArthur to Romance HQ when they’ve been in town visiting from Australia! And there’s no doubt we’re looking forward to gathering with our authors at RWA in San Diego and meeting hopeful Medical authors too:)

Flowers in St James's Park London

Flowers in St James’s Park, London

Tokyo, South America, Africa, Australia, New York, London, New Zealand….the list of amazing settings in Medical Romance goes on and on! And even if you aren’t going away you know you can still be whisked away to exotic worlds because there are six entirely different gripping Medical Romances set in diverse, enticing cities and locales around the globe out every month! So whether you are lying on a beach or lounging in the garden, let our authors whisk you away to somewhere wonderful with a hot doc!

So, now that you know our plans we’re dying to know where this summer will find you and your favourite Medical Romance. Let us know in the comments below!

Last year in May our daughter turned thirty and our birthday present to her was a weekend away at a resort village a couple of hours away for her and her partner and we would go down to their home and look after their wee man. At the time our daughter was pregnant and didn’t cash in until last weekend when she’d be able to make the most of the time away – and we got another wee cutey to look after.

We were much in need of a change and boy, did we get it. The kids kept us on our toes every minute of every hour they were up but I loved every  moment of it. Came home shattered but very relaxed.

The kids were awesome, and so much fun. They both slept through Friday and Saturday nights, and of course, played up on Sunday night when mum and dad were back.

Bath time was hilarious. The week before our wee girl was introduced to the big bath and a moulded seat to sit in. I had to wipe down all the walls and the floor after bath time but it was worth it. I haven’t laughed so much for ages.

On Saturday night we also put on dinner for eight as we have friends in Christchurch we always catch up with when down there. Fortunately my man is a dab hand in the kitchen and did most of the cooking, though was ready for bed at 5.30pm! He isn’t in top shape at the moment, but found a second wind as everyone arrived.

I’ve put my hand up to do it all again. The weekend was the prefect tonic for a stressed out couple. Who’d have believed it? My new favourite way to spend a weekend. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Dogs and Cats and Pets – oh my!

Our houseguest this week is a cat lover, and while he was sweet and tolerant of our goofy bulldog, he enjoyed more the attentions of our unpredictable and not-always-nice older Siamese cat. It was another thing that made me think about what different kinds of pets (and do animals like horses count as pets?) mean to different people.

I grew up in a household that liked animals. Before my time, my great-grandmother had quite the blabbermouth of a parrot – I remember my grandmother talking about how angry she would get when she would sneak into a corner to read a book, and the parrot would screech, “Lucy! You’re reading again! Reading again! Reading again!” Then her mother would yell, and she’d shut her book to bang it against the parrot’s cage as she stormed away to do chores.:-) My great-grandmother also, I’m told, had a large tortoise that roamed the house, sadly meeting its demise when a rocking chair rolled over it (though honestly, I’ve always had a hard time visualizing how a rocking chair could kill a large tortoise…)

Anyway!  We had a menagerie of pets, but never a dog because we went camping a lot, and my parents didn’t want to worry about finding campsites that allowed dogs. Here I am as a young teen with my huge rabbit, Buffy, who lived in a big outdoor hutch. It once was invaded by an opossum who had her babies in the wooden box inside the hutch that Buffy slept in – I wonder how she felt about that!

MeWithBuffy

And our hedgehog, who was cute but prickly and sadly didn’t live long. 091

Over the years, we had turtles and hamsters and ducks and an adorable guinea pig who lived in a two story hutch we built in our family room, which I don’t think many parents would be enthused about!  But our most unusual (and most wonderful) pet was my raccoon, J.B. As an older teen, the boy I was dating lived on a farm and there were three orphaned baby raccoons, too small to have left the nest, roaming around the cow paddock. I bottle fed J.B. and raised him, and he knew I was his mother. Even when he weighed 25 pounds, if strangers came in the house he’d run up my body to my shoulders and peer around my head at them until he felt safe.:-)  He was smart and fun and I loved him so much, but when he was a year old, it became apparent he needed to go back to the wild. So we trained him to eat more natural foods (since sweet rolls were his favorite treat, and he probably wouldn’t find them in the woods). We released him in a state park where there would be lots of picnic trash to forage through. When I go there today, I like to think his offspring are still running around in those woods and fishing in the river.:-)

Me:JB

And speaking of unusual pets, a friend of mine has this hilarious goat as a pet – isn’t he awesome?

ThomasinGarden

I haven’t been able to talk my husband into too many pets, though we did have rabbits in an outdoor hutch at one time.  Here’s my now-teen son when he was little holding our lop-eared rabbit Flopsy, and snoozing with our Siamese cat, who is quite cranky.

GeoWithFlopsy Geo(little):Obi

And since I’d never had a dog growing up, I forced my reluctant husband into getting a dog. Honestly, all you dog lovers may think I’m an awful person, but even though we love him, he probably wasn’t the best choice!  Bentley is stubborn and silly and everyone runs when he approaches with drool dripping from his mouth, but he’s part of the family now, for better or for worse:-)  His favorite pastime is chasing a Frisbee, then cooling off in the pool.  Here he is in what I call his hippo pose.

BentleyHippo

Tell me about the pets who’ve featured in your lives over the years – I’d love to hear about them!

I do have a new release coming out June 1st, The Prince and The Midwife.  It’s part of the Hollywood Hills Clinic continuity, and I’m so pleased to be part of such a great series with so many awesome authors!

Prince:Midwife cover

His Cinderella midwife 

Gabriella Cain prides herself on the exemplary service she provides to her celebrity moms-to-be. So she certainly doesn’t appreciate Dr. Rafael Moreno suddenly taking over her department…even if he is royalty—and gorgeous! 

But distrust soon turns to secrets shared as irresistible Rafe proves dangerously easy to fall for. With a painful past behind her, can Gabriella dare hope for a fairy-tale ending with her prince?

A Waft of Scent, Dark and Dangerous

The title of this blog is a straight pinch from an as-yet-unpublished manuscript of mine, but it sums up my attitude to perfume. I absolutely love it, in case you’re in any doubt.

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Some of my Murano glass perfume bottles

I’m thinking about perfume at the moment for various reasons.

That as-yet-unpublished manuscript is the first reason – because the heroine has a huge store of perfumes she matches to her mood (which of course intrigues the hero).

The second reason is that it’s that time of year when romance writers start thinking about attending conferences. After a year of isolation, we catch up face-to-face with our colleagues, meet with and/or pitch stories to editors and agents, and listen to a range of experts on a fascinating array of subjects covering the craft or writing, the business of publishing, marketing and promotion, and trends in romance, and we eat and drink and party.

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My most exotic bottles where I keep my oils from Egypt and India

There’s only one thing we don’t do – and that’s wear perfume.

That’s because the thing that sets romance conferences apart from other conferences is that the very vast majority of attendees are women, and if all of those hundreds of women (or thousands, depending on which conference you’re attending) decided to wear a spritz of their favourite scent (as so many women are wont to do), all those little spritzes would become one big cloud of warring smells. That spells ‘migraine’ – even for those who tolerate strong aromas. And for those with an allergy? Unbearable.

Much as I adore perfume, I understand that. The scents I bought while living in the Middle East, for example, may make me feel like an exotic Arabian phenomenon just walking down the street, but they’re so heavy on the oud, they can twitch a nostril from a mile away. I’m afraid this makes them the problem children of my collection, so they’re not allowed out on the prowl all that often.

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The top of one of my favourite perfumes – Niki de St Phalle

Which brings me to my third reason for this blog.

Perfumes are always on the prowl in my books. I almost always give my heroines a signature scent. My heroes too, even if it’s soap! So I finally decided to give my passion its ultimate outlet and made my next heroine (currently underway) a perfumer. Boy, has that involved some fun research. And just so you know, the hero’s scent in this one is Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef & Arpels, because the first time I sniffed it on a guy, I almost melted into a puddle. Although of course, there’s something under it that’s going to drive my heroine crazy as she tries to isolate it in her lab.

I suspect she’s going to have trouble with that, because it’s all about pheromones! Something Evie Parker in Wanting Mr Wrong could tell her all about!

Meanwhile, here’s a little perfume making video I found on YouTube for anyone else who shares my perfume addiction.

I’d love to hear what perfumes you love…or hate!

Wanting Mr Wrong hi res coverEvie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees.

Hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her.

Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.

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