My name is Scarlet and I’m a bookaholic

It’s official.  I have a serious problem.  I can’t stop buying books.  At the beginning of every month I tell myself I can’t buy any books at all.  For this month?  I’ve bought another thirteen.  Here is the evidence.

I just can’t stop.  This photo doesn’t even include the series romance books which are under the bed.  At one point I had a few hundred.  I’m now down to around 25.

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I’ll put my hands up and say I am a very quick reader.  I can read a series romance book in around one and a half hours.  An ordinary fiction book in just under three.  I was on a train journey recently between London and Glasgow, it takes four and a half hours and I read three books on the way there and four books on the way back (two were novellas).

It also goes without saying that we are not going to discuss my kindle purchases.  What you can’t see – you can’t give me into trouble for.

I can also read anywhere and on anything.  I read on my phone in the car while I’m waiting to pick up my kids from a variety of venues.  I read on my kindle and my iPad whenever I find five minutes and I generally have more than one book on the go at once.

I’m a big reader of YA books and am absolutely loving what’s out there right now.  So forgive me if I give you some recommendations: The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey (this guy writes marvel comics, this is one of the most original books I’ve ever read and the writer wrote the screenplay for the film at the same time as the book), Waiting for April by Jaime Loren, a kind of timeslip YA and Pieces of You by Ella Harper, this one isn’t a YA but just won the contemporary romance at the RNA awards.  I wept for on the train when reading this one and think I terrified the man sitting next to me.

So, I’m scared to ask but does anyone have any book recommendations?

Accents

The most recent Time Out Global Dating Survey questioned over 11,000 people in 24 cities around the world and asked them, ‘What is the most romantic accent?’ The resounding and overriding answer was the British accent.

Now, it wasn’t made clear as to which British accent they referred, but I’m assuming they meant the traditional RP (Received pronunciation) that you hear in movies, usually voiced by the British villain of the piece. Refined, classic, educated. Think Tom Hiddleston as Loki (Avengers Assemble). Alan Rickman as Snape (Harry Potter). Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan (Star Trek:Into Darkness). Look at this lovely advert, The Art of Villainy by Jaguar:

But, as we all know, there are many UK accents, as discussed in this clip below (QI) The discussion about the perception of accents begins about 4:15 but the whole thing is funny if you want to have a laugh. (Hosted by Stephen Fry, Guests Alan Davies, David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig and Rob Brydon)

The poor Brummies (Birmingham) don’t come out of it very well! I like lots of different UK accents. And worldwide, too.

In our romance stories, we often have heroes with pronounced accents – sheikhs, Italians, Greeks always seem to be on the shelves. So what do you think? What is your favourite accent? UK or otherwise?

Louisa Heaton’s most recent release is His Perfect Bride? (Out now)

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I Am In the Depths of Despair by Amy Andrews (via L M Montgomery)

Yesterday the world learned the news that Jonathan Crombie, the man who was Gilbert Blythe to so many of us died a few days ago aged 48! from a brain haemorrhage.

The news saddened me. So young to die. Just a few years older than me. His family must be reeling. So terribly, terribly tragic. I don’t even have words for that….

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I do want to say though that he leaves behind a wonderful legacy.

Gilbert Blythe was my first literary crush and IMHO the original beta hero and Jonathan Crombie seemed to personify the very spirit of the boy Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote all those years ago. When she gave us Gilbert, she ruined many of us for all other men and Jonathan brought him to life so perfectly.

Today I feel like I’ve lost a friend. A little piece of my childhood.

Jonathan Crombie was a talented actor who went on to do many things but it is for Gilbert Blythe that he will be remembered most.

He will always be Gilbert to me.

RIP.

Spring Flowers and the Pug of Doom

I love spring. I love kneeling in the sun and digging in the warm soil. I love planting flowers. Oh how I love those flowers.

We have a pug who loves the very same things as I do.

Measuring our planters

Measuring our planters

Only we call him the Pug of Doom. Because with him around, those flowers don’t stand a chance. It’s not that he has a black thumb (if dogs had thumbs), rather that everything he…erm…“touches” will soon wilt and die. We’ve tried everything. We planted hardier flowers. They succumbed within weeks. We put up a cute little wire fence to protect them. The Pug of Doom hopped right over it. But now…yes, now (insert evil laugh), we think we’ve finally outsmarted him.

Looks about right...

Looks about right…

As you can see from the pictures, we decided to build some planter boxes out of concrete

Nope, can't reach from here...

Nope, can’t reach from here…

stepping stones, carefully measuring to make sure the flowers would be higher than he could reach. And it seems we may have succeeded. We think. Except, you can almost see the wheels in his head turning. Can I reach them from here?

What is the formula for trajectory again?

What is the formula for trajectory again?

How about here? What was that formula for trajectory anyway? Must go do some calculations.

I’ll let you know who wins this latest battle. But for now, the flowers appear safe, sound, and happy. All is right with the world.

Did I mention that I love spring? I do!

Do you have any pets? If so, do you ever have to outsmart them?

And because this is the Harlequin Medical authors’ blog, here’s the book I have out this month: The Soldier She could Never Forget

The importance of pacing …..

As I grow wiser in years, I have discovered that true happiness is reliant on choosing your own sustainable pace.  Pace at which you live, love and work.  Over the years I have been guilty of taking on too much.  It’s a woman thing.  We all do it.  We don’t want to decline requests upon our time.  These requests come from many directions – partners, children, friends, work colleagues and the simple need to get something done. We take on just one more thing. Sometimes even with the imminent risk of breaking the camel’s (our) back, we still do it.  The movie ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ starring Sarah Jessica Parker, and adapted from the best selling book by Allison Pearson, sums it up beautifully.

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Juggling becomes a way of life and sleep is a distant memory … well it was, but not any more.  I have taken my own advice and learnt to say no more often.  Still not as much as I should but a lot more than I ever did.  I now take time out and head to the movies with my girlfriends, read a book or go shopping with my mobile phone turned OFF.  The rest just has to wait somedays.  And it will.  Most demands aren’t going anyway… but the difference is … I am!  I am going wherever I want to… within reason… and sometimes it’s just to the sofa.  Even if my dogs bark for their dinner during my favorite television show, I no longer run to the refrigerator during the ad break.   They are now learning to wait … they are not good at it yet but I am sure in time I will be able to hear Ridge and Brooke and not have to lip read over the woofs.

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Pacing is important in writing too… you need the story to unfold at a pace that allows readers to get to know and understand your characters.  The best books set a pace that leads you into the story then takes you on an exciting ride but now and then slows enough to let you catch your breath.

Well now to pace my evening …. I am off to soak in a tub…..

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well I was …but the doorbell just rang and we have visitors for Greek Easter … so it looks like I will pace myself tomorrow.

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The Value of Some Mental R & R

Chris is getting ready to zipline

Chris is getting ready to zipline

On a mountain vacation a little while ago I did absolutely nothing but lounge and gaze at the scenery, I’m not ready to get back to work. But isn’t that always the way? You need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

So, what’s the point of going in the first place? Honestly, no matter how long your little escape turns out to be, it’s never long enough. Please, give me just one more day. Then there’s the exhaustion factor, that dead weight that just keeps hanging on and on and on days or weeks afterwards, even if you haven’t so much as lifted your little finger during your time off. Could somebody lift that margarita to my lips? Oh, and the overwhelming feeling that if only you could live in vacation mode for the rest of your life, your life would be perfect. Oh, the good life… It’s so nice for a few days, even for a week or two, then it’s back to the same ol’ grind you left behind and, trust me, nothing inside that grind has changed.

So, let me repeat myself. What’s the point? Well, for me, the point was to spend quality time with family. Let me tell you right now that vacationing with adult kids isn’t much different from vacationing with little kids. They still get hungry and whine for snacks, they still get bored and want to know when they can go play, they still want mom to pick up their dirty clothes. And the trip there – thank God for the Angry Birds app on my phone and my Kindle, or I’ll swear I’d have had a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds beating up each other in the back seat.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Nobody wanted my Kindle. They wanted my computer games. The thing is, we had quality time, all of it coming in different levels and forms. I claimed the early mornings on the deck, watching the sun come up over the mountains, all by myself. I did some writing – not as much as I’d promised myself I’d do. And I did even more thinking (while they slept in). The neat thing was, we were under the same roof, and that consumed my thoughts probably more than anything else. What I realized was that, as a family, we haven’t changed substantially, except for the addition of some people – spouses and extended members. The really neat things was, we’d had this vacation before, probably twenty years ago and, in some ways, it was like we simply stepped right back into it. We went to the same places, sought out the same restaurants, indulged in many of the same experiences we did way back when. In fact, we were so busy seeking out the old we hardly got around to anything new. Except, in a way, we were all new. Older, wiser, gone on to other ventures and adventures in our lives. Still, in so many ways, we were that same family.

And that was the real point of our vacation, something I pondered one of those morning on the deck when the rest of them were still sleeping. We were there to remind us of who we are, not so much as individuals, but as a family. We’re all adults, we have separate ways, but on the last night, when we dined at the restaurant that was literally built over a mountain stream – the restaurant we dined at on our last night there 20 years ago – that’s when I realized that the tie that bound us as a family all those years ago still binds. Sure, it’s different now. We have Angry Birds, electronic books and computer games, we all have careers, we all can’t fit comfortably into the same car. But those things don’t matter. Thomas Wolfe might have said you can’t go home again, and maybe, in some ways, you can’t. But you can sure vacation again and, in a very important way, that’s part of home. So important, in fact, that we’ve just booked the same cabin for another , same place, same activities. I’ll swear, though, that if I ever hear another one of those insidious laughs from Angry Birds…

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Please feel free to visit my website at http://www.Dianne-Drake.com, and connect there to my Facebook page or Twitter/

As always, wishing you health and happiness!

DD

April is national poetry month

Do you like poetry?

My mum is a great lover of poetry and always has a book of poems close to hand- she thinks it’s a great way of reading something short yet complete- and usually very cleverly constructed. Most of all, I think, she likes the rhythm of the words. She used to read Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc to me as a child- and I laughed and loved the stories of the naughty kids who got their comeuppance!

When I was younger we used to have to memorise and recite poems at school, which I absolutely hated to do: although I still remember (good old William Wordsworth):

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vale and hill

When all at once I met a crowd

A host of golden daffodils

Beside the lake, beneath the trees

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

When I was 16 we had to study the war poets and that was a huge eye opener for me- reading the first hand trials of what soldiers had to endure in the first world war brought beauty and brutality to the page.

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I even had a go myself – it’s certainly not as easy as it looks (I won’t be giving any woeful examples!!). I guess I think poems are under-rated, people assume they’re all about loss and tragedy and misunderstanding:

You and I by Roger McGough

I explain quietly.

You hear me shouting.

You try a new tack.

I feel old wounds reopen.

You see both sides.

I see your blinkers.

I am placatory.

You sense a new selfishness.

I am a dove.

You recognize the hawk.

You offer an olive branch.

I feel the thorns.

You bleed.

I see crocodile tears. I withdraw.

You reel from the impact.

But there are many uplifting celebratory ones.

Hope Is the Thing With Feathers- by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me

Do you like poetry? Any favourites? Care to share?