Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Thoughts on writing romance novels about real ‘live’ people…

It was about youAs a writer Id like to be able to subscribe to certain peoples WhatsApp conversations, you know?

I think theyd be great character studies. Imagine if you could spy on relationships, especially romantic ones, from the sensual/ suggestive sexting to the sad point at which youve sunk so low youre actually revelling in your own passive aggression, writing snarky one-liners, totally misusing grammar and emojis thanks to the pathetic tears clouding your eyes.

I wonder if I could start an app of my own for this. Imagine, if you break up with someone, you donateyour digital relationship to a romance writer looking for inspiration – someone who can dredge the life and love back out of it, wrap it all up in a happy ending and use it as a gift to set you both (and others) free.

Maybe it would be a paid service for those whove been scorned, and the buyerwould get a say in how their own story should play out in the romanticised version of their shoddy excuse for a relationship.

Together we could shame a thousand exes in a million different ways.

Did Mark send you an Im just not ready for a relationship right nowtext, and then bail? Well, sucks for you Mark, cos you know whats happening in my next Mills & Boon…

You know the surprise ranch that was left to you by your millionaire uncle, Mark? Well, his big blue shiny tractors gonna roll right over your smug, chiselled, fictionally-embellished face (that still sounds a lot like you, Mark), right before the prized bull you loved so much tramples on whats left of your commitment-phobic carcass.

And that delicious woman whose soul you drank from and dismissed like a teabag? Shes not even crying at your funeral, Mark, dont flatter yourself. Shes too busy having sex with your hot best friend in the wine cellar, writhing in a sticky pool of gratuitously-poured Chateau Margaux, which you would have been framed for stealing, had you still been alive.

How do you feel about dumping people by text message now, Mark?

EVERYONE knows that book is about you.

I think Id need investors for this. And lawyers. And money. And more of a business plan. And no morals. And quite possibly, therapy. But hey, it’s something to think about in lockdown none-the-less.

I should tell you, there is no Mark. He is simply every weak man there ever was who broke a heart. My own man is quite lovely, thankfully.

But if YOU have a Mark, and words you wish you’d said but didn’t, do let me know. I’m always looking for inspiration. Conflict is key after all.

Alternatively, (because love is lovely too) perhaps you have a story about an exceptional man-person you wish to see hunked up/praised in a spirit-lifting, not-so-literarynovel? Holla my way, ladies. I am at your service.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The horse whispering hero who saved me in lockdown

Becky

My latest shiny book babies have arrived! And they’re not just any copies of Falling Again for the Animal Whisperer. They’re LARGER PRINT. So you can stand reeeeeeally far away and keep your book at a proper social distance from your face while you read it. Good, huh? You can never be too careful these days.

This one was my favourite to write so far.  Not just because I love Dorset, where it’s set, but because my hero, sexy horse whisperer and talented vet Cole Crawford helped me through lockdown in the later part of last year. The world went on, masked up and moving in slow mo around me while I holed up with him, bringing him to life in my head, hearing his words and imagining his sexy ass in the saddle of a horse. Aaaah, the fantasy man, every woman has to have one right?

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

I’m glad you asked. After inheriting half of her late uncle’s veterinary practice in the Dorset countryside, single mom Jodie is horrified to learn her ex Cole Crawford has inherited the other half. What the heck was her uncle thinking? He knew their intense love affair exploded into flames 12 years ago and the pair haven’t spoken since! Cole wants to prove he’s changed, but Jodie must protect her heart, and her daughter Emmie. The thing is… you know when you know, right? Cole’s the one and he always has been. But he’s hiding something about their break up….

EXCERPT

‘Paracetamol… Asprin… I need something.’ Her nerves were shot. ‘Cole, where do you keep your medicine?’ She knew he couldn’t hear her, he was in the shower. 

She pulled open the middle drawer, the top drawer, the bottom drawer… Nothing but cutlery, pens, cables, dog treats. He hadn’t told her where it was. He’d insisted he was fine, but she knew he’d be in pain soon enough, if he wasn’t already. 

They’d ridden the horses back slowly, with Blaze beside them. Cole was bleeding under his jacket, she’d seen it when she’d peeled it off him as soon as they’d reached the cabin, but he’d brushed off his injury. ‘Go shower, get warm,’ he’d told her.

So she had, and now she was back. How could she leave him? 

You could have lost him. He could have drowned. 

The thought was a knife wound to her heaving chest as the tears threatened to consume her.

Her eyes caught on something under the bench covered in jackets, by the door.

Dropping to her knees in her track pants she pulled out the bright red medicine kit and flipped the latch under the huge white cross. Paracetamol. That would have to do. 

She slid the box back, but it was stuck now, jammed halfway out. Reaching behind it her hands landed on something smooth, made of glass. She pulled out a photo frame covered in dust and swept a hand across it.

Her and Cole, sitting on Mustang, bareback. 

She fell to her bottom, holding it. 

There was another box, she noticed now – the box his stetson had arrived in. She slid it out from under the bench and sifted through photos from their summers together. He’d kept all these? 

One fell out.

There was Cole, looking up at her from the floor, leaning with his arms crossed and his leg kicked back against a red tractor. She was behind him in the photo, grinning from the driver’s seat. It must have been taken the first summer they’d met. 

Another photo. Her and Cole at twelve or thirteen. She recognised Chesil Beach; this must have been the day they’d gone on a fossil hunt. She held it closer, studying his tanned hand wrapped tight around hers on their bucket of treasures. That was around the time that parts of her had started tingling in anticipation of his touch. Just his hand, hauling her up to a rock for a photo, had felt like another moment in heaven.

Another photo. Her and Cole at fourteen. Cole was even more tanned in this one, holding a pitchfork like a guitar out in the stables. He’d been skinny before but now he was filling out. He had muscles from labouring with hay bales and farming equipment, and a wild mop of curls. This was right before he’d taught her to ride bareback, solo, she remembered with a smile. 

This was the summer she’d thought Cole was finally going to kiss her… but he didn’t. The kiss came at fifteen. There was no photo from that year, but she could see it clear as day. They’d been wild-swimming in the river, looking for kingfishers. Cole had swum right up to her beneath the wrought-iron bridge. 

She thought he’d been about to dunk her; she’d been laughing and splashing him in his new blue board shorts. She’d been self-conscious of her new womanly body, and awed by his new broad chest and the thick, dark hair in places he hadn’t had hair before. But his hands had found her waist under the water. Without a word, he had pulled her into the shadows under the bridge and kissed her. Her first kiss. Cole had been her first everything.

Jodie pressed her bare feet to the cold tile floor, clutching the photos to her heart. They’d had their disagreements and spent the last twelve years apart but if anything happened to him she knew she would die herself, even after all this time.

By the time Cole stepped from the bathroom, running a towel over his hair in nothing but clean jeans, she was stoking the fire, trying to dry her eyes, as well as her wet hair and damp tank top.

‘How are you feeling?’,’ he asked her, dropping to the leather couch, then wincing at the pain to his shoulder. 

‘Better than you, I think,’ she said, still fighting to gain control of her shaky voice and limbs. He was here, he was OK, but he wasn’t hers anymore, and she had to pull herself together… 

Super excited for this story to be out on Kindle from February 18. It’s already up for pre-order on Amazon!

Till next time folks, thanks for reading, stay safe out there!

Becky x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Ghosts of Christmases Past…

Dear Readers,

It’s less than a month till Christmas. Can you believe that? LESS. THAN. A. MONTH. It still feels like I fell asleep in March and woke up in November and somehow missed the summer. But I guess we all feel a bit like 2020 was snatched from under our noses by the Grinch. 

Christmas was always one of my favourite holidays growing up in the UK. I remember when mum and dad would come home with the tree, and the Radio Times, and my brother and I would fight over the latter, both desperate to circle all the shows we were planning to watch. A new French and Saunders Christmas Special? Sign me up! Mary Poppins for the millionth time? Yes please! Jim’ll Fix It, the Christmas Edition! Wahey… oh… wait. Hmm. Best forget that one. Noel Edmonds is still OK to recall though, right? All his funky sweaters? 

I remember the year me and my brother both got Care Bears, and that was it for me. My life was complete. Oh, those simple, bliss-lined days when I truly believed bears slid down rainbows in the sky.

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I remember, when I got a little older and started globe trotting, Christmas would always be spent in a different place. Once in Bali I dated a scuba diver who promised to dress up and watch Elf with me on Christmas Eve. He bailed. He abandoned me by the giant projector on the beach, leaving me to cry into a mince-pie flavour cocktail, hiding behind a fake beard. Not my finest hour. (I soon perked up though – someone else had a guitar, some vodka and a hotel room).

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With no Radio Times to circle I would Skype my family from these places afar, just to see what they were watching on telly. Just to feel involved. Sometimes it was lonely, being away, but I always told myself I should be grateful. ‘One day Becky, you might not be able to do all this travelling anymore!’ (Sheesh, how right I was).

An ‘Orphan’s Christmas’ was a big thing, in other places. In Dubai, where I lived as a copywriter for two sandy years, my expat friends and I would all cook and play a DVD of a crackling fire, before drinking merrily and roasting ourselves like a bunch of chestnuts around a rooftop swimming pool. Once we left the sauna on by mistake and almost burned the building down – also not my finest hour.

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Another year in New York I was a poor intern with no money to fly home for the holidays. I was promptly adopted by an American friend who whisked me away to his family “upstate”, where I was treated to so much turkey, merriment and SNOW, that it could’ve been mistaken for a Hallmark movie set. In fact, there was so much snow that we couldn’t get back to Manhattan. I ended up missing work, and getting fired. Apparently ‘I’m snowed in and I literally can’t get to work’ is not a good enough excuse in New York. I think you actually have to die before you’re excused from work in New York.

Which brings me to today my friends. In Amsterdam, where my boyfriend and I just put up our tree. We plan to stare at it, and go nowhere, and do nothing. After all those Christmases away, that actually sounds pretty damn dreamy to me. 

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What are you all doing for the holidays this year? Send me your best recipes please! I’m always looking to cook up a storm over here… but no mince pie cocktails please. I’m done with those forever.

Stay safe, lovers. And remember, wherever you are can be brilliant, if you’re drunk enough.

Becky x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Isolation Escape Tactics

knight

My boyfriend goes all out for this COVID-19 protection thing, as you can see from the above.

Just kidding, there was no one in that knight’s armour but my imaginary Heath Ledger circa 2001, but honestly, if we don’t laugh at our current dystopian situation, people….

That little iron man was in a cute restaurant on one of our day trips lately.

Aside from working like a demon on my new medical romance, which is based in Amsterdam and due even sooner than I care to admit, considering the word count still pending, I have been making more of an effort to do things away from my desk in the day time.

Any medical M&B writer will tell you, we can lose not only hours, but entire DAYS with our heads down, lost in our scribbles, or entering deep, dark rabbit holes on YouTube, filled with scary life-threatening situations and sombre doctors performing emergency procedures.

Tea breaks, and general time to breathe elsewhere, are essential.

Having a dog will get you out there, especially mine, who likes to get her cute little nose up in everything. Oh my, how Ziggy has grown since the last time we spoke, folks! Here she is doing her very best ‘bear’ impression in some lovely woodland my knight and I like to visit, north of Amsterdam. We had a gorgeous walk there the other day, not another human in sight, masked or otherwise:

ziggy

I’ve also been furnishing my home, which is an ongoing project as I’m the kind of person who likes many different things and can’t seem to settle on a theme. Among the trinkets in my living room, (much to boyfriend’s despair) I have photos of golden kings performing acts of karma sutra, bronze camels that double as candle-holders from Dubai, giant hand-woven dream catchers from Bali, and now…. Brace yourself….

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A silver, reflective pouffe! It matches absolutely nothing, except everything my heart desires from a footstool. Some idiot was throwing it away, I mean, that’s the work of a fool right there. Luckily I came along on one of my tea breaks and rescued it, and it now has a second lease of life by the sofa.

Sometimes, when I write with my laptop on my knees and my feet on this pouffe, I feel nothing of the woes in this broken world. I feel truly blessed.

I also somehow managed to get out for more than a cup of tea and a footstool, and took my writing projects to Sicily with a friend.

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It was a week of eating, digesting what we’d eaten, eating some more, and repeat. Honestly, I’ve never been anywhere with food that good, ever. Just take a moment to examine that deli platter. Have you ever seen anything like it? Actually, I think I’m still digesting it.

Sicily was beautiful, have you ever been? I was expecting to meet more of the mafia but I made do with a nice Godfather magnet, which also matches nothing else in my house.

I stuffed the rest of my suitcase with Sicilian garlic granules, a rock from Mount Etna, salted capers and sundried tomatoes, so my boyfriend, who is an AMAZING cook, can keep feeding me Sicilian specialties while I get back to work on my book. (Don’t tell him I’m expecting this, or he won’t do it).

Oh, the sunsets there were magical! Might have to set another romance there soon. Which reminds me, tea break blogging now over… I must add more words to that word count.

See you on the other side, and don’t forget to breathe, guys.

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Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

How the truth in foreign places inspires fiction in a lockdown

Lockdown might be over in some places, but hasn’t it been a long stretch stuck in our living rooms, unable to go anywhere further than the supermarket?

Thankfully we have books and stories (and puppy dogs – that’s my little Cockapoo fur-baby Ziggy in the photo below. She’s a prized new addition to our household!)

Becky

As well as picking up poop and yelling “please don’t eat that” across the kitchen, I’ve been scribbling away at a new story set in the veterinary world. I’ve been so lost in it that I almost forgot I have another book coming out next month! I’m posting a sneaky excerpt from ENTICED BY HER ISLAND BILLIONAIRE below, to tease you into Mila and Dr Sebastian Becker’s world.

She’s an ex Army doc, working out on a remote Indonesian island, assisting Sebastian in his pioneering scar tissue surgery at his exclusive clinic. The thing is, he’s met her before, hasn’t he? Mila is quite sure he hasn’t. Could he really be remembering her dead twin sister?!

I set this book on an Indonesian island because it’s very close to my heart. I was lucky enough to live and work out in Bali for a couple of years in my mid-30s, writing a travel book called Balilicious, so I got to know and love the land, and the people.

In fact, random places and adventurous strangers from my time as a travel writer/author have inspired a lot of my fiction. My first Mills & Boon medical TEMPTED BY HER HOT-SHOT DOC was set in the Amazon, where the Spanish-speaking locals were some of the most gentle, kind souls I’ve ever met… though I had to leave out the week I spent with a shaman drinking hallucinogenic tree sap (aka ayahuasca).

My second, FROM DOCTOR TO DADDY was inspired by the time I was lucky enough to board a cruise ship for 10 days in Australia. While the book is set in the Caribbean, I was able to draw on my experiences on the ship. The staff were very accommodating, especially the amorous chef who chased me round the ship asking for a kiss one night after too many drinks in the bar, (I managed to escape).

The world is a big, big place full of beauty and stories waiting to be told, even if we chop, twist and edit them sometimes. I experienced so many acts of kindness from strangers on my travels, in all corners of the world. There was also the time I got mugged in a back alley in Bogota and had to bribe getting my phone back by buying a bottle of vodka for the perpetrator, but that’s another story… most people are shining stars of humanity.

Maybe I’ll share a few more tales of how travelling, and people of different origins and cultures have inspired me over the years. (If you’d like?) But for now, please do enjoy this little excerpt set in Indonesia….

 

EXCERPT FROM ENTICED BY HER ISLAND BILLIONAIRE

A rush of air-conditioning blasted Mila’s face as the door swung open to admit Dr Becker. ‘Agung, how’s she doing?’

He was pulling on a coat, arm by long, bulked-up arm, striding towards the bed in black sport’s sandals. He was every bit as striking in a white coat as he was in a wetsuit.

He made to pass her, stopped, placed a hand on her shoulder. ’Thank you for what you just did.’

‘You’re welcome.’ The words came out smoothly, calm like she’d intended, but she didn’t feel calm. The way he was looking at her now had suspicion all over it. He only looked away from her when the anaesthetist entered the room.

‘Put this on,’ he told her now, throwing her a white coat from a hook on the wall. ‘Nurse Viv is with another patient, so I hope you don’t mind staying a bit longer here. I just need you to cut the suit,’ he said, motioning to a pair of scissors on the tray.

Mila snipped carefully at the girl’s wetsuit, and discarded the flimsy material. She was following commands, where she’d usually be giving them but that was OK. She wasn’t a hundred miles from base in Ghazni. No one had been blasted by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade, there were no wounded soldiers crying out for attention. There was only this one girl, right here, right now.

She put a gentle hand to Gabby’s leg still and soothed her as the meds kicked in.

Agung’s radio made a sound. ‘Excuse me Doctor Becker, Doctor Mila.’ he said. He left the room and instantly the air grew thicker. Sebastian was appraising her again.

’Mila?’ he said in a surprised voice, as soon as it was only the two of them. He stepped towards her.

‘She looks much better,’ she told him, looking up to see his eyes narrow. ‘I think we got to this bite just in time. She just needs to sleep it off now.’

He folded his arms, towering over her. He must have been at least six foot two inches to her five foot three. ’Why Mila? I thought your name was Annabel?’

All the breath left her body.

’I couldn’t remember at first, back there, it was at least six or seven  years ago, right? Before this Clinic, or the MAC existed,’ he said. ‘You were late to our snorkelling party, you’d had too much to drink remember?’ He grinned, laughing at a memory that wasn’t hers.

Tears stung her eyes. She still could have wrestled him to the ground when he reached for her wrists, but his long, tanned fingers ran gently over her scars and she felt bolted to the floor.

He was turning her arms in the harsh overhead light, studying the faint, silvery lines like they were clues to a mystery game. ‘You didn’t have these before,’ he said, frowning. ‘What happened to you?’

She bit her cheeks as the tears threatened to spill over. He’d met Annabel. This must be the same guy her sister had come back talking about, all those years ago. Sebastian. It all made sense now. Doctor Sebastian Becker was Bas. All of this, and she had to work with him?

She had to set him straight, it was unbearable.

‘I’m not… who you think I am,’ she managed. The room felt suddenly way-too-small. She took a step back, pulling her arms away. ’Doctor Becker, I’m Doctor Mila Ricci. I’ve come to work at the MAC for a while and learn your techniques. I would have met you earlier but I missed my transfer, I apologise for the confusion.’

She watched him rake a hand through his hair as she struggled for composure. He paced the room, then stopped. ‘Am I going crazy here? I met you before, didn’t I? Did you change your name?’

‘I’m not Annabel,’ she said through a tight throat. ‘Annabel was my twin sister. She’s dead, Sebastian. She died three years ago. It was her you met, not me.’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Puppy is for life, not just for Quarantine

Ziggy-4-weeks-first-viewing2Meet Ziggy Pickle!  She’s a Cockapoo puppy and she’s about to be the love of my life.  Don’t tell my boyfriend.

Ziggy Pickle and her siblings entered the world on March 31st 2020.  She’s a real COVID-Cockapoo!  Cockapoos are the best.  They’re a sociable, friendly, cuddly curious breed, relatively easy to train (so we’re told) and best of all, they’re hypoallergenic.  They do not shed.  No nasty dog hair-covered cushions, or floors, or clothing here!

I know, I know, we’re getting a puppy in strange, unprecedented times.  Are we prepared?  Do we know a puppy is for life, not just for quarantine?

The truth is we’ve been planning this little addition to our household for a long time now.  Maybe almost half a year.  The timing is purely a coincidence and I’ve long been surrounded by puppy toys, and playing dog training videos on loop, and getting excited about things like likimats (a lickable silicone thing that’s meant to stop them biting) and scented dog shampoos.  Send help!

We go pick her up on June 6th, so I’m guessing by the time I next blog, things will have changed a lot around here.  Did I mention we are also moving house?

Nothing like shaking things up in a crisis!

I’m excited to have a little fur baby in my life, who will sit quietly at my side while I write my romance novels… sssssh, I know, I’m dreaming.  As anyone with a dog will tell you, they demand a lot of your attention and even more of your time.  Maybe I’ll get less writing done for a while, but oh, the stories she will inspire.  The long sunshiny walks we will take as I soak in mother nature’s glory with Ziggy at my side.  (Still dreaming, I’ve not been further than the shop in a while.)

Actually, the name Ziggy came from the last Harlequin novel I worked on.  I’ve moved in a different ‘medical’ direction and written about a vet this time.  He’s also a horse whisperer, but more on that soon, because more importantly my hero’s dog is a Border Collie called Ziggy.

We were trying to come up with a name for our own puppy, when I realised our perfect name had been staring me in the face for the last six weeks.

Any dog lovers out there?  Any training tips for me?  I’m a first time dog mama, so any guidance through this brave new world will be greatly appreciated!  Be warned, there are more puppy photos ahead!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Love in the Time of Corona

Woweeee, what a time to be alive! And what a time to be a writer. I feel a little weird saying that quarantine doesn’t feel too unlike my regular existence at the moment. Maybe boredom hasn’t entirely sunk in yet. I admit, the daily gym routine in our household is helping us stay motivated and energised!

Most writers are used to solitude. The aliens could land outside and we’d be oblivious. We’d be hunched over our desks, deep in a romantic fantasy, humming along to Mozart, showering our keyboards with Hobnob crumbs.

But I consider hunkering down with my fantasy hunks, essential right now. Isn’t it our job to whisk you away from reality as best we can, by writing you some delicious escape routes?

OK so healthcare workers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, farmers and supermarket employees are maybe more important…. (definitely more important). But it all comes down to one thing. The world needs more love in the time of Corona.

Of course, it’s a battle to stay positive sometimes. I look up from my scribbles and a pair of star-crossed ex-lovers embroiled in veterinary emergencies  (trying something new!) only to realise yet again that the world is in the middle of the biggest emergency I’ve personally seen in my lifetime.

When our grandparents went off to war, they went on their ways without knowing if they’d even see each other again. Many of us are just concerned we won’t see toilet paper for a few weeks.

With climate change causing untold catastrophes, and Coronavirus clogging up lungs, left right and centre, we might be experiencing a few truth bombs from Mother Earth right now. But at the least the grenades aren’t raining down.

Talking of simple joys, I got huuuuuge LOLs, a lot of ‘awwwws’ and a whole lot of smiles this week from THIS! Beauty and the Beast, anyone?

 

Let’s stay positive, friends. Dance with your loved ones. Read more. Play more. This too shall pass. We have love all around us. Xox

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reflections on Turning 40

75116702_10162932493815160_3379963752408416256_nI’ve been in Bali for the last month. Some of the time I’ve spent alone, writing. Some I’ve spent with my boyfriend and one of my besties. Mostly I’ve been contemplating life, love and nasi goreng in a place I came to call home after living here from 2011 to 2013! I came back, because last week I turned 40. Why do it in the rain when the Balinese skies are blue, and the sun is always blazing?

So this is 40, folks. Only 40 though? To be honest, it feels like I’ve led 1000 lives.

At 15 I asked my English teacher if she had an email address and she asked me “what’s an email?” I still remember what it’s like to hear a phone ring and not know who’s calling. I used to record songs off the radio on my ghetto blaster; too skint to go out and buy the real cassette tapes. I used to think the world was black and white before I was born, because all my mum’s old photos were.

271413_10150703494010160_3797468_oAs a kid I read books whilst walking down the street – I was never quite content with being where I actually was. I’ve worked in six different countries, been hired and fired more times than I can count. Once I was fired for working too fast and showing up my boss. Another time I was fired from McDonalds because my friend called them up drunk and told them I died.

I’ve laughed till I’ve wet my knickers (it’s always been an issue). I’ve cowered in my darkest shadows at the mercy of mother ayahuasca. I’ve been chased down hills by monkeys; heard a man get shot in the knees from a bus in Peru, and been rescued by the fire brigade after a dog locked me out of my NYC apartment. (Yes, a dog). I’ve felt invincible, powerful, brave, jealous, hateful, spiteful, naive. I’ve let vulnerability inspire me. I’ve also a let fear steal everything away from time to time.

I’ve lost friends and family members too soon. I’ve recognised real love too late. I’ve puked on my shoe on a first date. I’ve adopted a cat, only to give it away after it pooped on my bed. I’ve done things I’m not proud of.

To thrive and feel alive I always had to be somewhere different. I packed bags and boxes and bags and boxes and bags and more boxes (some of which are still in someone’s loft in Australia) because in my 20s and 30s, life was not about accumulating stuff, it was about collecting experiences.

I broke hearts and had mine broken. But the ones you love and leave along the way are never “left” anywhere. Sometimes they ring your new doorbell and sleep on your new couch and drink all your wine and then “they” leave, and sometimes it’s sad, and sometimes you’re like, why did I tell her she could stay after we only met once, drunk, at a hostel?!

It’s been a wild ride so far.  Like many of the Gypsy hearts I’ve connected with along the way, I no longer really need to keep packing bags and boxes… or moving along as much. I write about the places I’ve been and seen in my romance novels, for Harlequin (my next is set right here in Bali!)

I’ve lived in Amsterdam for the last 3 years but it’s taken me longer to learn that Home has always been “here” – wherever my heart feels calm and content. Wherever I let the love in. I’m also just getting lazy and running out of visa options.

But the thrill of not knowing what’s next is still just as exciting. The wrinkles round my eyes are signs of a life spent wetting my knickers, squinting into the bottom of wine glasses, and always choosing to chase the sun.  If it all ended now, I’d have no regrets (apart from taking that bus in Peru, and maybe giving the poopy cat away. Poor kitty).

Here’s to another 40 years!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A whole new kind of procrastination

The-Batman-Casting-Process-Robert-PattinsonLast night, from my porch here in Amsterdam, I took a break from my writing/deleting/wishing Trump would stop Tweeting, and watched a bat flit and flap across the sky. I got lost in a dream about how maybe he was Batman.

Maybe he was pooping and swooping towards the Red Light District, on a mission unknown to mortal humans. Maybe he’d transform before a tourist about to get steamrolled by a tram, or stabbed over a stroopwafel.

But then I thought… hang on, shouldn’t there be more than one bat?

Where are the flock? (Or is it a colony? What’s an abundance of bats called, why don’t I know this?!)

Did the brotherhood all perish, because the insects are declining?

It’s a strange thing,  isn’t it, when you actually care that there aren’t as many flies, mosquitos and moths clogging up your atmosphere as there used to be?  With more than 40% of insect species declining and a third endangered, these are troubling times for bats. Well, around my flat at least.

Then I started reading the Action Plan for the Conservation of All Bat Species in the European Union 2018 – 2024. I know a lot about bats now. I think they’re going to be OK. I’m not sure about the insects, I have further research to do.

I’m not sure about myself either – none of my other work is getting done.

Is this pro-batstination?

What do you find yourself dreaming about or Googling in those moments of wifi-assisted wanderlust?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Falling in love for the first time (with a dog)…

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I’ve always been a cat person. Growing up, we had two beautiful Burmese felines called Kelly and Misty and they were super smart. I know this because one time, when Kelly was sick, she jumped onto the counter and vommed in the sink. Instead of freaking out, I remember mum went over and petted her and said in a proud, pleased voice, good girl. Because I guess she could have vommed on the carpet?

Cats are smarter than dogs, surely? Cats are quiet, they keep themselves to themselves, they don’t pester you to do much. Dogs, I always thought, were far too needy: ‘Take me out, give me a treat, give me your food, pick up my poop.’ Who needs that from a dumb dog?, I thought. Not I.

Till now.

I have recently spent a lot of time with a white cockerpoo called Salty. Look at his face, I mean LOOK AT HIS FACE.

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He belongs to my boyfriend and he is, like my boyfriend, practically impossible not to love. And as this is a blog about love, what else could I write about this time, because now all I think about is Salty!

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When he’s not here, I miss him. Maybe more than my boyfriend (ssh). I miss the way he leaps on my ass in the biggest photo bomb ever, in the most scenic location ever, and still just makes it better (see above).

I miss those big brown eyes looking up at me from the floor when I’m eating a bacon sandwich. The old me would have been all like, ‘Eff off mate, nothing gets between me and my bacon,’ but now, I would willingly live a bacon-free morning, even on a British seafront, to give him the lot. Just to make him happy. Because his happiness is my happiness, you see? (And yes, we got him that special doggy ice-cream up there, because how could we not? He deserves it. He’s a magical being who brings joy and happiness, and beings like that are what ice-cream was made for).

Good god, this dog has changed me. Cats might be smart, but there’s a reason GOD is DOG spelled backwards.

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People always say you don’t know unrequited love till you have a dog. I get it now. I don’t have kids, and in my late-30s I’m not sure I ever will, but can’t a woman choose a different paradigm in which to display her motherly capacities? Can my maternal instincts not be redirected into feeding bits of bacon and special pots of ice-cream to a fluffy white Cockerpoo?

If not, well stop the world, because I want to get off… and play with my new best friend.