Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories

Reunited By Their Pregnancy Surprise

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I decided to write Reunited By Their Pregnancy Surprise for a very special reason. It uses the amnesia trope and some of you may already know, that my own parents had their very own amnesia story.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to write such a story. It had such personal significance to me, but I also knew a lot of people don’t actually like amnesia stories!

So, it was a risk. But one I wanted to take.

Years and years ago, when my Mum and Dad were engaged to be married, my Dad was in the army, the Sherwood Foresters (no prizes for guessing which city I was made in!) He got stationed abroad a lot – Malaysia, Cyprus, Ireland. But it was in Singapore, when he was driving a water truck through the jungle, that it overturned and he received a significant head injury.

Dad woke up in hospital, not knowing his name, how old he was, who he was or even where he was. The padre in the hospital went through his uniform pockets and found a love letter that my Mum had written to him, just the week before. So the padre then wrote to my Mum, telling her what had happened and that my Dad would be flown back to England and she and his family would have the job of re-educating my Dad.

I’m sure you can imagine my Mum’s distress. She and my Dad had fallen in love, but he now didn’t know who she was! Could she get him to fall in love with her all over again?

Happily (and obviously, because I am alive) she managed this task. My parents have now been married 53 years, have four children and five grandchildren and to this day, my Dad still doesn’t have any memories of his childhood.

It was hard to come up with a completely different story, whilst also documenting the angst the grief of such an accident and how it can affect two people and those around them. That it DOES happen. It’s a trope, for a reason.

I do hope you’ll be able to check it out. It has a lot of my heart in it.

So tell me your favourite trope and WHY?

Louisa Heaton’s next title is out in July, Their Double Baby Gift9780373215423

Can two and two – really make four?

Widower Corporal Matt Galloway came to London Grace Hospital for his tiny daughter. But he finds himself facing a barrel of emotions on meeting beautiful Dr Brooke Bailey—his late wife’s best friend and single mum to her own baby girl.

Brooke can’t believe Matt is her new boss. But the feelings she has for him are even more troublesome. Brooke swore to raise her baby alone, but loving father Matt melts her heart and Brooke starts to hope…could they really make one big happy family, after all?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Make a Date…

The Harlequin ‘Make a Date’ and ‘Romance When You Need It’ videos have been around for a while now, but we loved them so much we think they’re worth a second look.  And if you haven’t seen them yet, please sit down, and put any hot drinks out of reach… 🙂

Make a Date with Harlequin – Viking!

Make a Date with Harlequin – Cowboy!

Romance When You Need It

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Waiting, by Scarlet Wilson

Today I am waiting.  And that wait seems to go on forever.

Waiting is not my best skill.  When we were queueing for qualities, someone forgot to tell me about the patience queue.  I have none – and it’s a thing we all need.  Strange thing is, when I worked in the hospital I had it in abundance for my patients.  Home?  Children?  Myself?  Not so much.

Anyway, today I’d hoped to show you the cover for my new YA title which goes to press at the end of April and hits the shelves in July.  Unfortunately, I can’t.   After having a cover I really did quite like, they’ve decided to change it.  That’s fine.  Apparently the original might not appear to the target audience.  Since marketing isn’t on my skill list either, I have to accept that and wait…..

In the meantime, they’ve sent my book out for others to read.  Because this is a Young Adult book, that means they send books out to children.

So instead of showing you my cover, I’ll show you first piece of fan mail I’ve received as a Young Adult author.

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I love it.  The girl read the book, loved it, sent me a letter and drew me a picture of what she thinks the cover should look like.  I won’t publish the letter because it has her details on it, I’ll only say her name is Megan and I am so happy she’s read it and enjoyed to it.

It sent a tingle all the way down to my toes!  Shouldn’t that only happen in romance novels…..
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Southern Secrets

By Susan Carlisle

I’m doing a little horn tooting today. I hope you’ll indulge my pride.

My first Indy published book will be out tomorrow. I was invited to join 19 other authors to put out a novella a day for the twenty days before the RT Convention in Atlanta in May. Ten of us wrote sweet books while the other ten wrote books with sizzle in them. Mine is a sizzler.

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The only thing required was that the book take place in Atlanta. Not hard for me since I live only about an hour away.

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I must admit that doing a novella was a challenge for me. Writing shorter isn’t my cup of tea but after a good editing and a little more direction I came away with a product I’m proud to call all mine.

Below is a little snippet from Southern Secrets. I hope you enjoy.

Carrie Rodgers headed on unsteady heels across the floor of her Atlanta apartment to answer the door. As an elementary school teacher, she spent most of her days in flat shoes. Even scarier than her evening footwear was the fact she was replacing her twin sister on a date without the man knowing. She wasn’t sure which she might regret more, letting Cathie talk her into the date or the heels.

With a flutter of her heart and her hands trembling, Carrie reached for the door knob. This date was a bad idea on several levels, yet she’d agreed to help Cathie out of a jam. She wouldn’t let her down. Never had and wouldn’t start now. That’s what sisters did. Or at least that was what her mother had told her over and over when Cathie had been so sick. Besides, it was too late to back out.

Taking a deep breath, Carrie let it out slowly. She didn’t know this guy. Hadn’t even laid eyes on him and was expected to act as if they were acquainted. The chime sounded again. Apparently, Rick Marshall was an impatient man. The big question was how perceptive was he? Would he realize she wasn’t Cathie?

For most of their lives, Carrie had been the level-headed, studious sister who stayed in the background while Cathie had been the fashion plate, flighty, look-at-me one.

Much of that started when Cathie developed childhood asthma. After she was hospitalized a couple of times, their parents’ worries focused on Cathie. From then on Carrie heard, “be careful with Cathie, don’t let her run too much, watch out for her.” Carrie became more self-sufficient and dependable, always the person who took care of her sister. As they grew older Cathie continued turning to Carrie to fix things.  

She didn’t mind. She loved Cathie. And Cathie loved the attention. She was so fond of it she made the most of the spotlight even into adulthood.

They might have been different in personalities but they were similar in looks. More than once Carrie had gotten Cathie out of a scrap by pretending she was her. Now Carrie had been pulled into doing it again.  

“Cath, I’m not doing it!” Carrie had told her hours earlier. “High school is long gone. We’ve out grown the changing places game.”

Her sister put on her puppy-dog pleading look, dropped a shoulder and said in a whinny tone, “Aw, come on Care Bear, just this once. Rock finally asked me to go away with him for a weekend. I’ve been hoping for this forever.”

“You do know the right thing to do is to tell Rock you can’t go or as least be up front with the other guy.” Carrie couldn’t believe her twin’s rudeness.

“I can’t break the date. Rick is my boss’s biggest client. It’s too late for that.”

At least she was showing some concern for the guy. Yet, this idea was so Cathie. She liked getting her way with no concern for how it might affect others’ lives. “Why did you even agree to go in the first place?”

Cathie shrugged. “What’s not fun about dressing up and going to a party?”

“Cathie, what if this guy really likes you?” Carrie couldn’t believe how callous Cathie was about someone’s feelings.    

“He’s an alright guy, but he’s not Rock. You don’t want to stand in the way of true love, do you?”

Carrie didn’t even try to stop the roll of her eyes. Like she understood love. After what had happened between her and Brian, Carrie wasn’t sure she’d ever really known anything about it. In any case, she and Cathie had different ideas about love. At least Cathie had a love life. Carrie didn’t. Her sister went out regularly but rarely with the same man twice. Carrie was more careful. She was holding out for Mr. Right. For a time, she had believed Brian was him. Too bad he hadn’t thought the same.

“Come on, Care. This gala at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion is to raise money for the children’s hospital. It’s right up your alley.”

It was. Cathie knew all the right buttons to push. Being employed in a private disabilities school, Carrie was easily persuaded where children were concerned. Still she balked. “I don’t have any money to donate. So what difference would it make if I went or not?”

“If this guy doesn’t have a date, he might not attend. He has big bucks so the hospital could miss out on his contribution, you wouldn’t want that, would you?” Cathie gave her the ‘look’. The one that always made Carrie agree to what Cathie wanted.

This argument was getting more twisted by the minute. Carrie stood.

“Come on, Carrie.” Cathie put her arms out in a pleading manner. “Help me out just this one time. I’ll never ask again.” She’d taken Carrie’s hands, looking earnestly into her eyes. “Please. For once in your life take a risk. Live a little, all while helping out your sister.” Her smile was like a used car salesman’s closing a deal.

Carrie couldn’t resist Cathie. Helping her out was too ingrained in her. Maybe Carrie had been too careful in life. After all, Brian had broken up with her because he said she wasn’t bold enough, too set in her ways. This was a chance to have an adventure, to prove to herself that Brian was wrong. She could let go. It would only be for a couple of hours. What could go wrong? She’d go, have a good time and never see the man again. Cathie would get what she wanted: her weekend with Rock and Carrie would have an adventure. “Okay, but I want your word that you’ll never ask me to do this again.”

Cathie hugged her tight. “Great. Now let’s get you dressed to kill.”

Each time Carrie had taken Cathie’s place she’d put away her simple classic style to take on the more flamboyant appearance of her sister. Tonight, was no exception. She wore eye makeup, which Carrie rarely did, including false eyelashes that had her working to lift her eyelids. Her hair, normally worn in a simple ponytail or down, was pulled back into an up do where it was teased in front, gathered, and pulled to the side so that a long curl fell over her shoulder.

Carrie might admire a dress her sister had chosen but would never dare wear it.  Cathie had insisted she did. It was made of aqua chiffon and dipped in a V almost as far down in the front as it did in the back. Carrie couldn’t remember feeling more exposed. At the waist, it was pleated so it flowed around her legs and skimmed the floor. 

So here she stood dressed for a fancy party with her nerves strung tight as a child’s rope during a tug-of-war. Surely she could be Cinderella for a perfect stranger, for a few hours, couldn’t she?              

Opening the door, Carrie had to control the urge to gasp. The sketchy facts Cathie had given her about her date flew out of her head. Before Carrie stood the most handsome man she had ever seen.

Her mouth went dry. So this was uh…Rick Marshall.

Why in the world would Cathie want to spend the weekend with that muscle bound, idiot Rock when she could enjoy an evening with this guy?

Rick’s short, black hair was cut into the latest fashion. He had high cheekbones and a closely shorn beard covering a strong jaw that gave him a devilish look. A twinkle of a dare shown in his brown eyes. A shiver ran down her spine. She might be in over her head.

Standing at least a foot taller than her five-foot-two and with broad shoulders, he filled the door frame. The tuxedo he wore fit as if tailored for him. All in all, he was an overwhelming package.

His gaze remained on her. Was he seeing more than she wanted him to? There was an air about him that made her believe she’d have to work harder than ever before to convince him she was Cathie. His full lips formed a smile that made her middle ebb and flow as if a storm was coming.

 

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Excerpt from Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon by Fiona Lowe

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Being invited to be part of the Paddington Children’s Hospital series was an honour and it was great to work closely with a group of medical romance authors. Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon is the second book in the series and there’s a nice twist. I have an uptight Australian female surgeon matched against a laid-back British neurosurgeon. Claire and Alistair are chalk and cheese but they have valid reasons for their different approaches to life, but that doesn’t stop them from rubbing each other up the wrong way.  I hope you enjoy getting to know the two of them. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Three.

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Alistair high-fived Tristan Lewis-Smith. ‘Way to go, Tris,’ he said with a grin.

The kid had just whooped him at virtual tennis— twice— but he didn’t care. He was too busy rejoicing in the fact that the ten-year-old had been seizure free for a week. That hadn’t happened in two years and it was moments like these that reminded him that what he did each day mattered. Hell, it reinforced his mantra that each day mattered and life should be lived to the full.

He’d almost lost the opportunity to do that and when he’d woken up in the coronary care unit, he’d vowed never to forget how life could change in a heartbeat— or the lack of one as the case may be— and how close he’d come to death. He’d been blessed with a second chance and he never took it for granted. He was thrilled to be able to give Tristan a second chance at a normal life.

‘Right-oh, mate.’ He pulled down the sheet and patted the centre of the bed. ‘Time to tuck in and pretend to read or the night sister will have my guts for garters.’

Full of beans and far from quiet, Tristan bounced onto the bed. ‘You’re just saying that because you’re scared if you play another game I’ll beat you. Again.’

‘There is that,’ Alistair said with a grin. ‘Hurry up, I’ve got somewhere I need to be.’

Tristan scrambled under the covers. ‘Nurse Saunders said you couldn’t stay long because you’ve got a hot date.’

‘Did she now?’ Funny that Lindsay appeared to know more about this hot date than he did. He found himself automatically tucking the sheet around the little boy only this time an odd feeling of something akin to emptiness accompanied it.

He immediately shook off the feeling. He had no reason what so ever to feel empty or lonely. Life was good. He had a job he loved and a spacious and light-filled apartment just off the Portobello Road that he’d filled with curios from his world travels. Three years ago, he’d added to his property portfolio and bought a pretty stone cottage surrounded by fields of lavender in Provence. When he was there, he revelled in the sensory delights of sunshine, hearty Mediterranean food and great wine. He visited at least once a month either alone or with companionship depending on whether or not the woman he was dating was still focussed on having fun. The moment a woman started dropping hints about “taking things to the next level” she was no longer welcome in France. Or in Notting Hill for that matter.

He loved women but he didn’t do next levels. It was better to break a heart in the early days, well before things got serious, than to risk shattering a life, or worse, lives. His childhood was a case in point and on top of that devastation no one ever knew precisely the duration of a second chance.

Surprised by the unexpected direction his musings had taken him— he didn’t do dark thoughts and he certainly wasn’t known for them— he left Tristan’s room and contemplated the hour. It wasn’t quite eight. As it was a Thursday night there’d be a sizeable hospital crowd at the Frog and Peach and he’d be welcomed with open arms for his dart skills. Oddly, the thought didn’t entice. He had an overwhelming urge to do something completely different. Something wild that would make him feel alive.

Parkouring in the dark?

    Alive not dead, thank you very much.

    Still, parkouring in daylight this coming weekend was worth investigating. He pulled out his phone and had just brought up a browser when he heard, ‘G’day, Alistair.’

Astonished, he spun around at the sound of the broad Australian accent. Although he’d heard Claire Mitchell use the informal Aussie greeting with other people, she’d always been far more circumspect with him. Well, with the exception of one or two lapses. In general, he knew she tried to be polite with him and that she found it a struggle. Did it make him a bad person that he enjoyed watching her keep herself in check? The woman was always buttoned up so tightly it wasn’t surprising she cracked every now and then.

Now she stood in front of him with her hands pressed deep into the pockets of her once starched, but now very end-of-day limp, doctor’s coat. Her hair was pulled back into its functional ponytail and a hot pink stethoscope was slung around her neck. A tiny koala clung to her security lanyard along with a small pen on retractable elastic. Her utilitarian white blouse and medium length black skirt were unremarkable except that the skirt revealed those long shapely legs that taunted him.

Her feet were tucked into bright red shoes with a wide strap that crossed her instep just below her ankle and culminated in a large red button that drew the eye. He suddenly understood completely why Victorian Gentlemen had waxed lyrical over a fleeting glimpse of a fine ankle.

He scanned her face, looking for clues as to why she was suddenly attempting a colloquial greeting with him. ‘G’day, yourself,’ he intoned back with a fair crack at an Aussie accent.

Behind her sexy-librarian style glasses, her eyes did that milk and dark chocolate swirly thing he always enjoyed and— Good Lord. Was she blushing?

‘Do you have a minute?’ she asked, quickly pushing her glasses up her nose as they continued walking toward the lifts.

‘Always. Problem?’

‘Um,’ she surreptitiously glanced along the corridor taking in the nurses’ station that was teaming with staff. She suddenly veered left into the treatment room.

Utterly intrigued by this uncharacteristic behaviour, he followed. ‘Shall I close the door?’

She tugged hard at some stray strands of her hair before pushing them behind her ears. ‘Thanks.’

He closed the door and flicked the blinds to the closed position before leaning back against the wide bench. Claire stood a metre or more away, her plump lips deliciously red. He shifted his gaze and— Damn it! His eyes caught on a fluttering pulse beating at the base of her throat. She really had the most gloriously long, smooth neck that just begged to be explored.

That as may be, but remember most of the time she’s a pain in the ass. Not to mention, she’s your trainee.

‘Alistair,’ she started purposefully and then stopped.

‘Claire.’ He couldn’t help teasing back. He’d never seen her at a loss before and it was deliciously refreshing.

She took in such a deep breath that her breasts rose, stressing the button he was pretty certain sat just above her bra line. Was it delicate sheer lace or plainly utilitarian? It was his experience plain women often wore the sexiest underwear.

With that mouth, she’s hardly plain.

As if on cue, the tip of her tongue peeked out, flicking the bow of her top lip.

His blood leapt.

She cleared her throat. ‘I hope you won’t take this the wrong way but…’

Trying to look utterly unaffected by her, he cocked one brow and reminded himself of the times she’d been critical of him. ‘My sensibilities haven’t stopped you from giving me your opinion before.’

This time she definitely blushed but somehow she managed to wrestle her embarrassment under control with dignity. ‘True, but that was work. This doesn’t exactly fall into that category. Although I suppose it does technically if you—’

‘You’re babbling,’ he said hoping it would force her to focus. At the same time, he had an absurd and unexpected need to rescue her from herself.

Her head jerked up so fast he was worried her neck might snap but then she hit him with a gimlet stare. He forced himself not to squirm as an unsettling feeling trickled through him. Did she see straight through the man he liked to show the world? Had she glimpsed the corner edge of the bubbling mess he kept securely sealed away?

‘As the head of the department of neurosurgery,’ she said tightly, ‘I think it’s important you lead by example and attend the Spring Fling.’

The Spring Fling? Surely he’d misheard. ‘You mean the neurosurgery spring symposium?’

She shook her head and once again the blush bloomed on her cheeks. She swallowed and that damn tongue of hers darted out to moisten her lips. This time as the zip of heat hit him, he pushed off the bench to try and shake it off.

‘I mean the fundraising ball,’ she said slowly as if the words were being reluctantly pulled out of her.

He couldn’t resist. ‘Are you inviting me to the ball?’

Her eyes widened in consternation. ‘No!’ For a moment, indignation spun around her before fading with a sigh and a fall of her shoulders. ‘I mean perhaps. Yes. In a manner of speaking.’

His mouth twitched. ‘It’s good to know you’re so decisive.’

Her chin shot up jabbing the air. ‘You can tease me all you like, Mr— Alistair, but you know as well as I do that at the bare minimum there should a neurosurgery staff table at the ball.’

Damn it to hell. She was absolutely right but how had she found out he wasn’t going? He’d been keeping that bit of information on the down low more out of embarrassment than anything else. A couple of months ago, just before Claire had arrived, he’d had a particularly tough day. He’d lost a patient— a two year-old boy with a brainstem glioma— and for some reason he’d avoided the sympathetic eyes of his staff at the Frog and Peach. He’d hit a trendy bar in Soho instead and in retrospect, he’d consumed one whiskey too many.

It had been enough to scramble his usually accurate crazy-woman detector. As a result, he’d allowed himself to be tempted by the Amazonian features of Lela. The thirty year-old was a fitness instructor as well as being a part-time security guard. They’d had a lot of fun together until he’d realised her possessive streak wasn’t limited to bedroom games.

He knew the ball committee had flagged the idea of auctioning off the chairs next to eligible bachelors. Usually he’d have been fine with the concept and embraced it, but he’d been worried Lela might turn up and cause a nasty public spectacle. Or worse, buy the ticket. To save himself and the hospital embarrassment he’d decided not to attend the ball but to make a sizeable donation to the cause instead. The only person he’d mentioned this plan to was Dominic.

Stupid! Stupid, Stupid. The paediatric trauma surgeon had obviously broken the bro-code and told Victoria. What was it about a man in love that made him prepared to throw his mate under the bus just to stay in sweet with his lady? Now the i-dotting and t-crossing Claire Mitchell was calling him out on a perceived lack of social etiquette.

He ploughed his hand through his hair. God, he’d been raised on etiquette and the irony that an Australian with their supposedly class-less society was reminding him of his social responsibilities almost made him laugh. Perhaps he could turn this whole Lela-and-the-ball mess around and use it to his advantage.

‘Let me get this straight,’ he said with a lazy smile. ‘You’re prepared to spend an evening with me just to make sure I do the right thing?’

This time she was the one to raise an eyebrow. ‘As your 2IC, I can’t expect you to attend the ball if I’m not prepared to attend.’

‘Ah, yes, that sucker duty gets you every time.’

She stiffened. ‘But it seems you’re often immune.’

Ouch. Her words tried to scratch him like the sharp tip of a knife but he didn’t need to justify himself to her. He was very well aware of his duty. Ironically, duty had arrived in a rush just after he’d vowed to make the most of every new day that had been gifted to him. It was the juxtaposition of his life.

‘None of us are immune, Claire. It’s just I try to have a bit of fun with duty and not take it too seriously.’

She narrowed her eyes, ‘And you’re inferring that I don’t have fun?’

Not that I’ve seen. ‘Have you had any fun since arriving in London?’

She looked momentarily nonplussed. ‘I…um…yes. Of course.’

Liar. But he was planning on having some fun with her right now and killing two birds with one stone. ‘Excellent. I can certainly promise you fun at the ball. Especially considering how you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and bought the seat next to me.’

‘What?’ She paled, her expression momentarily aghast and then she rallied. ‘I don’t get paid enough for that.’

‘Brutal.’ He exaggeratedly slapped his chest in the general area of his heart, his long fingers grazing the lower edge of his pacemaker. ‘And here I was thinking I was your date. I tell you what. I’ll pay for both of our tickets.’

‘That won’t be necess—’

‘It’s the least I can do,’ he interrupted, waving away her protest. ‘I imagine it was Victoria who dropped you right in it.’

She grimaced. ‘You’re not wrong there.’

He made a huffing sound more at the absent Dominic than her. ‘The good thing is you’ll be saving me from having to play nice all evening.’

Effrontery streaked across her face. ‘Well, when you put it like that, I can hardly wait,’ she said drily.

Her sarcasm was unexpected and delightfully refreshing and he heard himself laugh. He wasn’t used to a woman viewing an evening with him as a trial. The women he dated erred on the appreciative side and often went to great lengths to make him happy. Not Claire Mitchell.

A streak of anticipation shot threw him. Without realizing, she’d just thrown down a challenge. He wasn’t totally convinced she was capable of having fun and he had a sudden urge to know what she looked like when she was in the midst of a good time.

She’d smile like she did when you let her operate solo. Remember how you felt then?

    He disregarded the warning that it was probably unwise to be looking forward to the ball quite this much.

‘So will you be picking me—’ His phone rang with the ICU ringtone and as he pulled it from his pocket, Claire’s pager beeped.

‘North,’ he said answering the call just as Claire mouthed to him ‘ICU?’

Listening to the nurse on the other end of the line, he nodded at Claire and opened the treatment room door. As she walked quickly past him, her crisp scent of the sea drifted back to him and he was suddenly back on Bondi Beach when his life had been simpler and with few restraints placed upon it.

‘We’re on our way,’ he told the worried nurse. Stepping out into the corridor, he followed Claire down the fire escape, taking the fastest way to ICU.

****

You can buy Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon and all the other books in the series at Mills & Boon UK, Harelquin USA and Mills & Boon Australia

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

And they said it wouldn’t last!

Hubby and I have just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. Here we are still crazy in love thanks to snapchat!

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I met Mark when I was 16. He was my friend’s brother’s friend. He came to my door to pick up my friend for her brother and BOOM!!! It was literally love at first sight (for me – took him a few more weeks 🙂 ). I knew the day I met him I was going to marry him. So I just smile and nod and pity people who tell me that I write “fairytales” because there’s no such as love at first sight because I live it everyday!

Our first wedding anniversary we spent in Liverpool, in England. 26 years later we stayed a little closer to home and decided to go away for the night, just to a local mountain lodge only about 15 minutes away. It was lovely…such a beautiful view.

 

And yes….pretty drinks  🙂

We were even spoilt with 2 beds!

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I won’t tell you what my husband’s suggestion was regarding our bed choices. I’m sure if you have a partner whose mind works in a similar way to mine, you’ll know….

So, now I want to know how long you’ve been with your husband/boyfriend/partner? Or what’s the longest you’ve been in a relationship? How did you meet and was it love at first sight? Or did things take a little longer?

 

 

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A WRITER’S IMPACT ~ by Dianne Drake

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As writers, we never know who reads us, or what effect our writing may have on someone’s life. I get messages from readers who relate to certain aspects of my stories, who thank me for writing about an issue they’re facing in their life and allowing them to see another perspective, who identify with something I’ve written. It’s always gratifying to discover that someone I’ll probably never meet may be helped or cheered or comforted by my words. But when I started as a writer, that wasn’t the case for me. I didn’t think about who read me, didn’t consider that my words had impact. I wrote because I loved writing. But, I certainly didn’t think about the consequences. (I was writing non-fiction at the time).

Then one day, I received a letter from someone in Nigeria. It had been traveling the world for almost a year, trying to find me. Fate? Destiny? A winged messenger? To this day, I have no idea how it finally did get to me,th but truthfully, I think it was one of those meant-to-be moments. Over a year before the letter arrived, I’d written a magazine about a young man who’d been badly injured and disabled when he was 17. He’d been a normal kid, then a profoundly handicapped one. I’d taken care of him as a nurse immediately after his injury, then lost touch with him when he was sent to a neuro-rehab facility. Nearly five years later, I had a chance meeting with him again. I honestly didn’t remember him, but he remembered me. Anyway, we struck a friendship and I stepped in to help him through life from time to time, because his daily existence was very difficult.

Most people disregarded Randy because his speech was garbled and no one could understand him. But what I saw was a young man with so much potential, trapped in a practically useless body. Long story short, with a little help, Randy went on to be the one who was responsible for our city converting its mass transportation system to handicapped accessible – something that has benefited thousands upon thousands now, in the 30 years that he’s been gone. wheelchair-1230101__340Having a way to be independent was his goal, and I remember the day when the city passed the ordinance mandating that the buses here be equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. I also remember the day Randy became the very first person to board a bus in a wheelchair.

What he did was inspiring, and I wrote a story about it. Sadly, it wasn’t published until after his death. But the gist of what I wrote was that people of all capabilities can make a difference. Randy certainly did in his short, difficult life.

Nigeria

So, somehow that article made it to Nigeria. More than that, it made it to a family who was facing a crisis. Their 17 year-old son had been disabled in a car accident, much the way Randy had, and they were looking at quality-of-life issues for him. The doctors believed he should be put in a hospital for the rest of his life, since he would have little independent function. His parents were being told he would be a lifelong burden. Yet, they didn’t know what to do, and they were beside themselves with grief and worry over the decision they would have to make.

Then, they read my article. They didn’t speak English, so I’m assuming that someone translated it for them. Like I said, I have no idea how it got to them, how they read it, how their letter got to me. Anyway, they saw their son in Randy’s story. The injuries were similar. The disabilities almost identical. They also saw what Randy accomplished, even in his condition. Which is what helped them make their decision. They chose to not institutionalize their son but, rather, keep him at home and help him achieve the potential they knew to be there. Their letter to me, which was written by someone else who did speak English, stated that my article had changed their lives. It gave them hope that their son, in spite of his disabilities, could live the life Randy had lived. They thanked me for helping their family.

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I’d been getting published regularly for about two years when this travel-weary letter finally reached me and I can honestly say, it was the first time I’d ever considered that my words had impact. That people were reading me. That my responsibility was much greater than simply putting words on paper. It humbled me. Made me a different writer. Hopefully, a better one.

Years ago, I wrote a medical, No.1 Dad in Texas, that dealt with a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. For me, it’s been a reality for many years. But to so many people who reached out to me after the book came out, it was a positive look at something usually surrounded in negativity. I was touched by how so many people shared their stories with me, and by how they were grateful to see such a misunderstood and difficult condition treated with sensitivity and optimism. Again, I was humbled. Could I have written that book before I’d received that letter from the Nigerian family? I don’t know. I’d like to think I could have. But my article changed one family’s life, and their letter changed mine. So, who knows?

quote-Ernest-Hemingway (2)

We do touch lives in what we write. Sometimes we’ll discover how, most often we won’t. Still, it’s nice knowing we do. It’s also a huge responsibility–one that should humble every writer who puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. It does me.

I’ll have a new book out in June. Saved by Dr. Dreamy takes us back to one of my favorite places on earth – Costa Rica. Never can get enough of that place, which is why I return there every now and again for another book.

Until next time, wishing you health and happiness.

DD2

DD

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