Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Quirky Stories, Travels Around the World

The Ten Monsters of Christmas

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I would love to bring you good tidings of Christmas this year but instead, I’m bringing you a fun little background of The Ten Monsters of Christmas. Yes, even the nicest of all holidays, the one where we wish everyone peace and joy, has its dark side. Talk about a way to ruin a jolly holiday.

krampus-1085000__340So first, there’s KRAMPUS. Yes, we’ve all heard about him in recent years. He is the evil anti-Santa who walks around carrying a stick, looking for people to beat, especially children who haven’t been obedient. He’s a predominantly European Christmas monster, originating in Austria, but popular celebrations centered around this demon are popping up everywhere, and celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day.

Next comes the merry old JÓLAKÖTTURINN, an evil Icelandic Yule Cat who lurks about the countryside at Christmastime, ready to eat people who haven’t received new Christmas clothes to wear. Apparently, this cat monster is tied to an Icelandic tradition where those who finish all their work on time receive new Christmas clothes, thus making them immune from getting eaten. Like Krampus, the Yule cat is used as a threat to motivate children to work and keep them in line. “You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry…”or you’ll be eaten by the Yule Cat, kiddies.

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  Then there is FRAU PERCHTA an ugly Christmas witch who hangs out around Austria and Germany during the 12 days of Christmas with the express the-witch-641232__340purpose of punishing the sinful by ripping out their internal organs and replacing them with garbage. Now, that’s a lovely Christmas tradition if ever I’ve heard one. 

Not to be outdone by all the other Christmas child punishers, BELSNICKEL, who made it from Germany to live amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch in the U.S. carries a switch to punish the bad children at Christmas. But he does have a good side, as he carries candy to reward the good ones. Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are also monsters from German folklore who get their holiday jollies by beating children.

Another in the line of the traditional Christmastime children haters is HANS TRAPP from France, who, disguised as a scarecrow, punishes bad children by eating them. Even though he was reportedly killed, it’s said he still visits young children before Christmas to scare them into good behavior.creepy-1217174__340

And, to make matters worse, there’s the evil French butcher PERE FOUETTARD, who, with his wife, lured children into his butcher shop, where he killed, carved, salted and ate them. St. Nicholas did come to the rescue in this story, by taking Pere Fouettard captive and turning him into a servant whose job it was to dole out punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.

Not to be left out, the JÓLASNENIR, or Yule Lads, 13 Icelandic trolls, stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so as one might expect, their purpose in life was to scare children into behaving. Somewhere along the way, they met the benevolent Norwegian Julenisse (Santa Claus) and decided to try a little kindness like he showed, by leaving gifts in the shoes of good children. But if you were a bad kid, your shoes were left empty which was a much kinder fate than eaten by the Icelandic Yule Cat.norwegian-troll-210334__340

However, if you get by the Yule Lads, there’s another Icelandic monster to deal with at Christmas –  GRYLA, their mother, and let’s just say, she’s not in line for a Mother of the Year award because she encounters bad children at Christmas, especially the ones who don’t obey their parents, then kidnaps, cooks, and eats them. And, to make matter worse, her precious pet is the dreaded Yule Cat. Talk about the traditions of a family at Christmas.

So, in my family, Christmas has always been about the children. We even have a brand new one, Westin, to welcome into our tradition. He’s going to grow up in a family where Christmas is about love and peace on earth and all the good things associated with the holiday. My wish for him is that there will never be any monsters in his world. And this is my Christmas wish for you…

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations

The Medical Romance Team are proud to present…Hope Children’s Hospital!

When it comes to Christmas you can never be too prepared! And the Medical Romance Team certainly weren’t wasting any time when it came to planning Hope Children’s Hospital, our Christmas continuity for 2018. We started brainstorming last October (yes, we were that excited…!). It’s always a huge amount of fun coming up with ideas, and this year’s continuity was no different. In fact, it may be one of our favourites, so we wanted to give you a sneak peak of what goes on behind the scenes, and share all the festive fun with you…

But first, what do we mean when we say ‘continuity’?

A ‘continuity’ is the Mills & Boon team’s term for a miniseries of linked books which are written by different authors and which the editors come up with the overall story theme and individual plot outlines for. We normally brainstorm four romances for these…so naturally they’re a highlight of our year!

And how did Hope Children’s Hospital come to life?

Well, first off, the Medical Romance Team got comfortable and settled into a meeting room (with copious amounts of tea and treats, of course!) to begin thinking about what we wanted the continuity to be about. Quickly deciding that we wanted something centred around the hope and joy of Christmas on a children’s ward, it was time to invite the rest of the M&B Team to join the party (sorry…the meeting).

And with the help of a few mince pies to get the ideas flowing, we discussed everything! From the type of hospital and what fabulous location it would be set in, to who the heroes and heroines would be – this was such fun! Then, and maybe most importantly, we talked about how each of the romances would interweave and interact with one another so that readers could fully immerse themselves in the magical world of Hope Children’s Hospital.

Next, it was time to hand over to our fabulously talented authors and let them loose on their individual stories (they’re the expert storytellers, after all!). And luckily they loved the continuity just as much as we did! They were excited to get collaborating themselves – with 4 stories, 4 authors and 4 editors, communication was key! – and turn the outlines into pulse-racing love stories with a huge helping of medical drama and festive spirit!

And, now, one year later, here we are! The first two books have already hit the shelves, the final two won’t be far behind, and it’s time to cuddle up with a hot beverage of your choice and dive into this year’s Medical Romance Christmas continuity.

Here’s what you can look forward to in…

Hope Children’s Hospital
Christmas magic on the children’s ward!

It’s a time of miracles and magic – and as Hope Children’s Hospital prepares to celebrate its first Christmas in the historic city of Cambridge, England, the staff will do everything they can to make their little patients’ wishes come true.

Billionaire CEO Theo Hawkwood leads a world-renowned handpicked medical team who strive to give the best treatment to their precious charges, and hope to all who come through the doors. This Christmas, they’ll discover that miracles can be found in the most unexpected of places – and love will prove to be the greatest gift of all!

Their Newborn Baby Gift
by Alison Roberts

One Night, One Unexpected Miracle
by Caroline Anderson

Available November 2018!

 

The Army Doc’s Christmas Angel
by Annie O’Neil

The Billionaire’s Christmas Wish
by Tina Beckett

Available December 2018!

 

 

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

Another Year…

 

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I hardly feel 34, but I’m all that and then some. What’s 34 in my life, though, is my marriage. I don’t come from a family of hugely successful marriages, and those that did make it as long as mine has were bumpy. But then, all marriages have bumps. Mine certainly does. Eating is one of them. I’m as picky as it gets when it comes to food. Joel will eat anything that’s put in front of him with the exception of liver. Funny thing is, I love liver. But I gave it up when I got married because what’s the point in cooking something nobody in the family likes? It wasn’t a big compromise. I mean, liver is just liver. Right? pexels-photo-925330

The bigger thing here is the compromise. Occasionally, Joel will take me to a restaurant that serves liver if I promise never, ever to cook it again. That’s what 34 years gets you—a nice restaurant meal of beef liver while your husband sits at another table so as not to gag over your food choice.

But, 34 years is about more than a culinary compromise. It’s about ignoring the quirks. Joel overlooks my little OCD compulsions, like needing to have everything around me put in its proper place, while I overlook the fact that, after 34 years, he still can’t find his car keys. Or his phone. Or his glasses. “Dianne, do you know where I put my…” Funny thing is, I usually do know. pexels-photo-256273His inconsistency is part of my consistency. It’s not the theme of the love stories I write, but I’ll bet if you could project 34 years into any one of my happily-ever-afters, there will be a few “Do you know where I put my glasses, keys, wallet, dentures, watch, phone, pants, shoes or whatever?” That’s also what 34 years gets you. And it’s not a bad thing, to be honest. Especially in my family, where 34 years is almost an impossibility.

34 years also brings with it the peace of mind that the future isn’t so imposing or unknown when your husband, wife, partner or companion is taking that journey with you. Your likes are much more the same after so many years. Or, at least, if they’re not, you’ve learned to smile and endure. Your goals are more aligned. Your expectations have turned into a parallel journey, rather then two separate ones struggling to meet somewhere along the way. And, there’s comfort. Knowing that if you forget to take your twenty pills every night before you go to bed he will bring them to you is comforting. So is the snore that wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you he’s there. pexels-photo-212269

But, after 34 years, is there still excitement? Sure. Maybe it’s not always the breathless anticipation you felt when you were a newlywed, but there’s something to be said about the excitement of stumbling upon a winery you’ve never hear of and discovering it has a wine you both love or finding that secret little patch of morel mushrooms and making plans to return to that very same spot next year. basket-515186_1280What 34 years brings you is the hope that, at 35 years, your morels will still be your little secret, and that your kids will all come home every Wednesday night for dinner. And for those among your family or friends who didn’t work hard to achieve 34—and yes, it’s hard work—they’ll never know what they’ve missed. So, as Joel and I head into 35, we’ll celebrate by having dinner at the same restaurant we’ve had our anniversary dinner at for at least the past decade. I’ll order the same thing (not liver) I always order, and he’ll complain because they discontinued his favorite beer the way he complains about that every year. beer-2695358__340[1]34 years is good. It’s not one of the “special” numbers you celebrate. No one will throw you a party. But then, who needs a party anyway? In all the ways that count, 34 years has been the real party.

Happy anniversary, Joel! The first 34 have been great!

DD

By the way, I have a book coming out in August. It’s all about a couple who will definitely make it to 34 years, and go beyond that. Check it out!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life

WINTER & RUTS & CHANGES (or not)

I admit thi2-9-18 blog 1s freely—I HATE winter. Hate snow. Hate cold weather. Hate gray skies and Indiana is practically always gray during the winter. I stay here because my family is here, my husband owns a business here and we have a good life here. Except for when it gets cold. And, to me, cold is anything under 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). Well, maybe I’m not quite that bad, but my family does know me to be a little eccentric on the numbers of layers I wear, and the lengths to which I’ll go to stay warm.

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As winters go, this one hasn’t been amongst the worst. Still, I don’t go out much. But I do have a very nice window in my office that gives me my winter view of the world. Sure, I go a little crazy staying inside as much as I do, but not because of the cold so much as that when I coop myself up, I start noticing things in my house I don’t normally notice.

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Now, here’s another true confession. I’m a creature of habit. I don’t move furniture around in my house, don’t even re-arrange the books on my shelves. Had you walked into my house 14 years ago, when we bought it, you’d have seen the same things in the places they are now. When I bought a new sofa a couple years ago, it went in the exact same place the old one did. And the books on my shelves—don’t even go there, because if I look up from my office chair and see one that’s not where it’s supposed to be, I move it back. Immediately. Let me tell you, my kids had fun with this idiosyncrasy of mine when they were young. Even today, grown and married, they can’t resist switching a couple books around, or moving the rocking chair in the living room a foot in one direction or the other.2-9-18 blog 4

So, anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time staring out my window this winter, as well as staring at the surroundings in my house. But, inspiration hit. I decided it was time to make some changes. Out of the blue, I was prompted to move my 100+ dictionaries from the bookcase on the left to the one on the right. (My office has 12 bookcases.) More than that, I decided to take my paperbacks and move them to the bottom shelf and put my trade paperbacks on the top. Then—rearrange the objects on my desk.

Two days of intermittent work, and my office was finally different. Now, the average eye might not discern the differences. But to me, it’s like I’m in a whole new setting and honestly, I’m not fond of it yet. I’ve toyed with the idea of moving things back, given some thought to moving only half of everything back to see if that doesn’t bother me so much. Looked at this situation every way I can, and I came to a disturbing conclusion…I like being in my rut. It’s my comfort zone. It’s where I live and where I function best.

I remembering watching one of the singing contest shows, feeling sorry for the poor contestants who just didn’t quite get it—according to the judges. There was always constant criticism from them telling the singers to change the song, shake it up, make it their own. That was their advice, over and over. And it got me thinking about my office, my rut, and if I really need to shake it up. Then, I asked myself: if I’m comfortable in my rut, what’s wrong with that? If the competing singer liked singing the song without changing it, what’s wrong with that?

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Sometimes, I think we tend to change things simply for the sake of changing them. My office, for example. I’m happy there. Happy with my 100+ dictionaries on the left bookshelf. But I shook it up, and there was no reason to do that. It’s like that in my writing, too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people ask me if I get tired writing what I write, and should I try something else? The answer is…no. I’m where I want to be on so many different levels, and that includes my writing. It includes my dictionaries, too. Which is why, after I post this blog, I’m going to shake it up, make it my own, and change things by moving them back the way they were. Why? Because that’s where they belong. That’s where I belong.

In a world that’s going crazy around us right now, where we feel like we’re losing more and more control, I find my ruts a very nice place in which to dwell, especially on a cold, winter’s day. So, tell me. Do you have ruts in which you’re happy to exist?

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I had two books come out in January. They’re available to purchase in all the usual places. And, especially good to read if you’re caught up in a cold winter like I am and prefer to stay cozy inside.

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 VALENTINE’S DAY GIVEAWAY! 
Don’t miss our VALENTINE’S DAY GIVEAWAY which is running until the 13th February 2018. More details at:

https://loveisthebestmedicine.wordpress.com/valentines-day-giveaway-2018

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As always, wishing you health & happiness & comfortable ruts…

Dianne

http://www.Dianne-Drake.comDianneDrake@earthlink.net * @DianneDrake http://www.facebook.com/DianneDrakeAuthor

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Hot Docs!

I wish you a Merry Christmas…

All I Want for Christmas, emilyforbes-72dpi-1500x2000

I love Christmas and I love summer and, in Australia, two of my favourite things combine but I would love to experience a white Christmas. We watch it in the movies and sing about it in our Christmas carols -which is hilarious as Christmas Day Down Under can often be 100°F/ 39°C – while we are drinking chilled Champagne and eating seafood, fresh berries and pavlova (basically a big meringue but better  🙂 )followed by a swim in the pool.

What I would love to know is if anyone in the northern hemisphere dreams of a hot Christmas or is it a southern hemisphere thing?

Wherever you are and however you are celebrating I wish you a very Merry Christmas with love, laughter, friends and family. And if you haven’t finished (or started!) your shopping here are some suggestions gathered from around the globe.

From left to right, top to bottom:

UK, USA, Canada ; Germany; USA & Canada; Sweden

Australia; Italy; France

Italy; Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland; France; South Africa.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2018,

Emily xx

 

 

 

Guest Blogs, Holiday Celebrations, New Releases

Thanksgiving in US and the Holidays to Come!

Hello LIBM! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, though I frequently stop by to read the wonderful posts by my favorite Medical Romance authors.  Though I’m writing for a different Harlequin line now, and a new small press, I still love to write doctors and nurses as main characters. My last Medical was out May 2017, Miracle for the Neurosurgeon, but I still feel part of this lovely group of authors.

Happy Thanksgiving beautiful turkey card

For USA readers, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Gobble gobble. We all have much to be thankful for, and it is nice to take time to think about those blessings, even if hanging out with “certain” relatives tests our patience. 😉

Now, since LIBM is an International website, I’d like to talk about some of my upcoming books for 2018 with Harlequin.

The Delaneys of Sandpiper beach

ForeverAFatherUK51Ttym-AGEL
I’m excited to say that in 2018 I will have a trilogy out (Harlequin Special Edition in US and True Love line in UK, as well as Cherish line in Australia). FOREVER A FATHER, is book #1, where the hero is a Physical Medicine doctor. Here are the US and UK book covers. And yes, it is also (finally!) my twenty-fifth book with Harlequin.

 

 

 

 

However, I come with an ulterior motive today, to talk about my current release.

THEIR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE from Tule Publishing

take two for christmas

Tracy Blevin is an RN, so there is that. 😉
I set out to write a Christmas book with a G rating for TULE Publishing, for those who want to enjoy a story that isn’t loaded down with angst during the holidays. Also for those who have friends and family who may not want to read hot romances, so they can share the book with them, too. The first draft was a little too breezy, and my Tule editor pointed out the ways I needed to dig deeper. I took her advice!

Here’s an ad lib snapshot of the story, though the final paragraph is right from the book blurb:

Hunter Wood is a good guy, just trying to make a living while venturing out with his own café. But life has a curve ball heading his way.

Tracy Blevin is still carrying around a grudge from her childhood, and really needs to let it go and move on, so she can finally see the great guy standing in front of her.

When a Montana winter car crash leaves a baby an orphan, Godfather Hunter, lives up to his promise, taking in the ten-month old. With the season of miracles upon them, Hunter can no longer deny his strong attraction towards Tracy. Is her life-long wish for her own family finally being answered this Christmas?

Available in Digital format only at these vendors:
Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
iBooks
Kobo
Google Play
Amazon Kindle UK

You can read the full blurb at any of the digital venues above or at my website. If you read the book, I hope it adds a little extra something to your holidays this year. Hopefully it will put a smile on your face. Above all, that was my goal this Christmas.

NEWS FLASH:
I have a BookBub ad scheduled for tomorrow, November 23rd, USA Thanksgiving Day, for the first book in the Charity, Montana series: Her Baby, His Love. Get it free and tell your friends!

Thanks for having me back!
Love,
Lynne Marshall