FAQs, Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Quirky Stories

The Truth About Pumpkins

10-12 blog top photoOnce upon a time, there was this cute, somewhat round orange thing attached to a vine, sitting out in the field. Then later, it became the craze, and even the madness of certain segments of society. But, that’s moving too far ahead in the story. So, let’s take it back to 1584, when French explorer Jacques Cartier, who was skipping his way merrily through the St. Lawrence region of North America (aka Canada), reported finding fields of gros melons which, in the English language, translates to big melons. This is when the story gets a little tricky and Google Translate gets confused. The name pumpkin actually originated from the Greek word for large melon which is pepon. Pepon was changed by the French into pompon (who knows why?) then the English changed pompon to pumpion (again, who knows why?) Anyway, after the name was bandied about for a while, American colonists had to get in on the act, so they changed the perfectly good pumpion into pumpkin.

10-12 blog1By that time, the poor little orange thing said, “Enough!” So, what was thought to be an exclusive North American or Canadian or Upper New York vine that sprouted orange globes (even though seeds were discovered that could have put the pepon-pumpion-pumpkin in Mexico as early as 7000 B.C.) was finally, and somewhat unfirmly, established as a North American fruit. Or, squash. Or, melon. Or, placemats (as the indigenous North American populations used them.)

This is where I could skip ahead to where pumpkins turned into latte and the stuffing for certain popular sandwich cookies, but that leaves out a lot of history. Like the origins of the pumpkin pie, when the early colonists sliced off the pumpkin 10-12 blog carvingtop, removed the seeds, and then filled the hollow cavity with milk, spices and honey then baked it in the hot ashes of a dying fire. Or how the traditional turnip and potato jack-o-lanterns gave way to the big orange thing when Stingy Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could pay for his drinks at the local pub.

The Devil, being who he was, liked that type of shenanigan, so he did what Jack asked of him. But Jack decided to keep the money for himself and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Score one for Jack. Except, being basically a stupid man, he eventually freed the Devil, 10-12 blog vintage devilunder the condition that Mr. D would leave Jack alone for a year, and in that year, not claim Jack’s soul if he died. Well, that turned out pretty good for Jack, so in another year he decided to try more trickery on the big D, who was, apparently too dumb to know better when Jack asked him to climb a tree and pick him some fruit. But while the D guy was up that tree picking away, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree so that the D dude couldn’t come down until he promised Jack he wouldn’t  bother him for ten more years.10-12 blog devil umpkin

Sadly, Jack died shortly after his deal, but he wasn’t allowed into heaven because he was judged to be as unsavory as his D buddy was. But, Jack’s D buddy wouldn’t let him go to the warm place either, and instead banished him into the dark of night with only a burning coal, otherwise known as an emblem of hellfire, to light his way. But because that coal was too hot to handle, 10-12 blog coalJack put it in a carved-out turnip (or potato if that’s your carb of choice. Or, if you’re British, the ever-popular beet was also Jack-approved) and he’s been wandering the Earth with his root vegetable ever since, at first calling himself, Jack of the Lantern. But as many of us do, he took on a pseudonym –  Jack O’ Lantern.10-12 blog turnip

Then, of course, when he reached America carrying his rather small tool, the Americans, as only they would do, decided that larger was definitely better. And that’s how Jack went from toting around a fairly lightweight turnip/potato/beet to a rather heavy and awkward pumpkin. 

10-12 blog vintage hlloween pumpkin

Now that we know the absolute truth about the origins of the pumpkin and the Jack O’ Lantern, let’s look at what years of research has taught us about the pumpkin:

– Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini.
– Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
– The heaviest pumpkin in its original form weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz.10-12 blog pumpkin flower
– Pumpkin flowers are edible.
– The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
– The pumpkin spice latte drink made popular by a certain famous coffee chain 10-12 blog pumpkin lattedidn’t contain actual pumpkin pulp until 2015, but now it boasts the exact measure of a tad bit of pulp. Also, in a good year, this drink generates $80 million in sales. Oh, and those sought-after sandwich cookies with tasty pumpkin spice filling – no pumpkin in those whatsoever.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. My new book, SECOND CHANCE WITH HER ARMY DOC, out now, has no pumpkin in it either. Not in reference, not in a sample of the actual fruit, vegetable or whatever the heck it is. Why? Because this author doesn’t like pumpkin. But, I like my book, so please have a look at a story about what it takes for a lost love to be found again. And I don’t mean pumpkin love.

As always, wishing you health and happiness, and a recipe for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds if that’s your thing:10-12 blog seeds
– 1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
– 2 teaspoons melted butter
– 1 pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees  F (150 degrees C).
2. Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.
3. Makes 6 servings. Nutrition per serving: 83 calories; 4.5 g fat; 8.6 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 4 mg cholesterol; 12 mg sodium.

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FAQs, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Questions and Answers

A couple of months ago, we asked if there were any questions for the Medical Romance Authors.   And in response, you gave us some great topics to get our teeth into.

We set the survey up so that all of the questions were submitted anonymously, so this is our opportunity to say a big thank you if this was your question.  The forum’s now open to anyone who would like to discuss the topic raised a bit further, or ask any supplementary questions.  To get the ball rolling, three of our Medical Romance Authors have given us their thoughts.

But first, here’s the question.

How hard is it to think of medical situations that will flow really well and bring out emotions between heroes and heroines and the readers? I read a lot of medicals and love them and I love them because of the emotions and the medical issues that are covered.

Louisa Heaton  Sometimes it is quite hard to bring a broad range of medical situations into the stories, depending upon what sort of department the story is set in, of course. You want stuff that would really happen on a day to day basis (keeping it real!) and occasionally something that’s a little bit different and that little bit different usually requires a bit more in-depth research. Then you have to think about how that case will affect your characters. Will it be something that chimes a bell within their own lives? Or not? You want your medical professional to be focused on their patient and not too much on how that case affects them personally, because then you run the risk of that character not coming across as a professional. Also, you have to consider the cases you’ve used in previous books and try not to use them again, as certain medical cases, can be wonderful catalysts for certain emotions!

Susan Carlisle  For me, it isn’t difficult to come up with medicial situations. First, I think about the doctor’s speciality and find an injury that works in their field. For other scenes I just go with what could happen in everyday life, like sprained ankles, cuts, falls. The emotion comes from the characters working together. About how they interact, what they learn about each other. A sure thing on a medical scene is the male doctor caring for a child or older person. It gets the heart strings everytime.

Annie O’Neil  I do sometimes find it difficult to put the hero and heroine together in medical situations if their jobs don’t automatically put them together on a regular basis. I’ve just finished a book with an assistance dog trainer and a surgeon and really struggled to highlight working moments that would bring them together. What I ultimately concluded was that people drawn to the medical profession are in it to help people – and as such – any situation that would require them to unite energies to help someone would be a chance to explore their relationship further. Especially if their approaches vary dramatically. More sparks!

FAQs, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

You asked… we answer!

Last week, we invited questions for the Medical Romance team.  We’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone who responded with their queries, all of which gave us food for thought!

If you’d like to ask us something, there’s still time and you can find the form here.  We’ll be answering all of your questions over the coming months, and today we’re getting started with the first.

Have all the writers worked in medicine?

The short answer to that is no – although many of us have.  And by way of a longer answer, we’ve asked some of our writers to give the low-down on their ‘other’ careers…

Amy Andrews
I was a nurse for 27 years and loved it from the very moment I first pulled my uniform on. Back when I first started we were still doing hospital based training and I went in as a fresh-faced 17 year old! I’ve worked both in the UK and Australia in the ICU setting and, until retiring in 2015, I’d worked in PICU for 21 years. Aside from my family, friends and writing, nursing has been my one great love.  (Amy’s photos are from the first day of her training and the last day of her training.)

nursey

Emily Forbes
Depending on which day of the week it is Emily Forbes can be found at her writing desk or at her other job as a physiotherapist. She works part-time in a large private practice with physios, doctors, nurses, psychologists, audiologists and exercise physiologists which is great for checking facts but it’s her patients that provide some of the best ideas for medical drama. She usually warns them that anything they say may end up in a book 🙂

Annie O’Neil
My history is more of a ….contributor to the need for health professionals. A lifetime of clutziness ensured many a doctor, nurse and emergency medical professional were kept gainfully employed. That, and the lion taming of course.

Fiona Lowe
fiona
When Fiona Lowe started her career as a nurse she wore a white starched apron, collar and cuffs. By the time she hung up her registration, she’d been a midwife, a maternal and child health nurse, a family planning nurse practitioner, a community health promotion officer and a teenage sexual health counsellor, and there wasn’t a starched anything in sight! A diverse career under the umbrella of nursing, it’s given her lots of ideas for books!

 

 

 

Annie Claydon
Before turning my hand to writing I worked in IT, where I brought databases into the world, undertook emergency surgery on them, and tried to make digital technologies sound like fun (the last with varying degrees of success).  Writing medical romance has its challenges in terms of getting all the medical details right, but the research is a fascinating part of the process for me, involving libraries, the internet, and most importantly talking to people and asking questions about the practical things.  I’m lucky to have had two careers which I love, and if anyone finds me chatting quietly to my computer screen, then put it down to nostalgia.

Louisa George
louisa

I worked for 22 years as a Registered Nurse in England and New Zealand, on wards, in research and in the community. It was a brilliant career, very varied and challenging, but I absolutely loved it and was very torn when the time came for me to focus on my writing. Oh, and I’m living proof that Mills and Boon Medicals are not all fantasy, as I met my husband (a doctor) on a ward where we were both working.

 

 

 

Louisa Heaton
Louisa Heaton has worked a variety of jobs in medicine, including time as a healthcare assistant in a large NHS hospital, a nurse in a private hospital where she got to assist in minor operations removing facial cancers and four years spent volunteering as a First Responder, answering 999 calls and providing emergency life support on scene.

Sue Mackay
Sue MacKay trained as a medical laboratoy technician, specialising in haematology. She loved the science and especially the diagnostic side of her work staring down a microscope. Boring for many people which might say something about her!! But she also trained as an ambulance officer so does also enjoy the cutting edge of medicine.

Susan Carlisle
susan
I was a homemaker for 10 years until my youngest son started school. Then I became a substitute teacher and did that for 20 years. I have no real medical training outside of raising four children. One of them does have a heart transplant so I learned a lot of cardiac care.

FAQs, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Any Questions?

The Medical Romance authors have been thinking about new features to include here on the blog and here’s one of the ideas that was suggested.  We’re inviting you to ask us any question you like, and we’ll do our best to answer.

Your questions can be for the Medical Romance writers, the editors – or for both.  Although we’ll try to get your question answered by the most appropriate person, we can’t guarantee who that will be.  So if you have a question for one or more particular writers, please feel free to mention names, on the understanding that we can’t promise that any one person will be on hand to answer.  And, as always, we’re happy to give general advice and encouragement to aspiring Medical Romance writers.

We don’t plan to answer any questions in this blog post, but we’ll be running a series of blogs with our answers over the next couple of months.  You can hover over the ‘Features’ entry in the menu, and click ‘FAQs’ to see this post and all subsequent posts which answer your questions.

You can ask as many questions as you want, and whatever you want – a fun question or something a little more serious.  So if there’s something you’ve always wondered about, now’s the time to get us working on those answers!