Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Bit of a milestone by Kate Hardy

Kate HardySo my last few blog posts have been about my run for cancer research. I kind of hope you’d like to hear the last one in that – I did it! Sunday May 12. It was hot, some of the route was on a camber (so I walked that bit – otherwise there would have been a trip and a wrecked ankle), and I hate running outside. (I hate running, full stop. But outside is much worse than the gym.) 10k – or six miles – is a very, very long way. But, clad in my T-shirt and hat and tutu (!), and with my tech sorted out so I actually had music (I could NOT have done it without that), I did it. Took me 89 minutes (I have short legs so I’m slow), but I did it. And I raised £1325, so a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me. But the big takehome? I was listening to Coldplay’s Up&Up as I crossed the finishing line, in fact to the very last words of the song. And they were very, very appropriate: NEVER GIVE UP.

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So even if something feels like a challenge (and, as I’m not a runner, a 10k run was a huge challenge for me), don’t give up. Believe in yourself and keep trying.

As well as that, I’ve been busy with other things – learning ballet! I’ve rather fallen in love with ballet, and my local theatre sent me an email after Swan Lake asking me if I wanted to join their adult beginners’ class. Absolutely! I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous music, or the fact I have to concentrate on the teacher’s instructions, but after class I feel totally chilled out. (And then there’s the obligatory coffee and scone with my classmates afterwards…)

imageI’ve also been working hard, and I’ve reached another writing milestone this month with the publication of my my 85th M&B! A Nurse and a Pup to Heal Him does what it says on the tin 😉 It’s about a GP, a nurse and her PAT (pets as therapy) dog, and it’s set in my part of the world; and, although the dog on the cover is gorgoeous, the dog between the covers owes more to this one… 😉

 

 

 

And this picture was taken at the weekend in ‘Great Crowmell’ (aka Wells-next-the-Sea, my mash-up Norfolk seaside village). This is very much our happy place – the beach stretches for miles. The sky looks a bit dramatic, but it was actually a gorgeous afternoon and very warm.

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Where’s your happy place?

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases, Pets, Quirky Stories, Reading, The Writing Life

Of Pit Bulls & Romance Novels

Hi Everybody!

I have a new dog named Lili. She was a stray looking for a home, and in a sense, I was a stray looking for a dog. When we met it was love at first sight and Lili came to live with me. No regrets because she is a smart, funny, affectionate girl who loves her humans as much as they love her. April MB blog 1

Sadly, some people have a preconceived notion about Lili. She’s mean. She’ll turn on you. Eat your face off. Kill your cat. Yep, she’s an American Pit Bull and her breed has been branded as a breed that should be killed. Why? Rumors. Innuendo. Bad press. Lili has gained a reputation for something she’s never done and never will. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome people see her for what she is—a sweet dog full of love. Others see her for what they expect her to be—mean and viscous. Much the way so many people expect romance novels to be boring or stupid.

I show antiques at the state fair every year, and the lady in charge of the antiques division is a well-educated biology teacher. When she asked me what I write, and I told her, she couldn’t contain the sour expression on her face. “I’ve never figured out why anybody would write that garbage let alone read it,” she said to me. I wanted to ask her why anyone would be so critical of another person’s career, or even their reading choices, but I didn’t because people like her don’t listen. They fix on a notion and will not wander away from it. She also went on to tell me that if I have any writing talent at all I should put it to good use and write something that will make a difference. When I told her romance novels do make a difference, she laughed at me. That’s right—she laughed out loud then walked away, smug in her knowledge that she was right.April MB blog 3

Certainly, Mary, as I’m calling her, is entitled to her opinion. But when opinion crosses the line and turns into insult, that’s when someone needs to make an assessment of what they’re saying, and to whom. At a flea market recently, I encountered a woman who was making frilly seat covers for various model cars. They weren’t to my taste, but I’d never dream of approaching her and saying anything negative about what she has chosen to sell. Quite honestly, my mother taught me better. And, I’d never be the one to tell a pit bull owner all the bad things that have been reported about that breed. Yet, that has happened to me. “Do you really let that dog go around people?” one person asked. The answer is yes. She’s allowed to be around people, to sit on their laps if they want her, to lick their faces if that’s acceptable. And no, she would never eat the face she licks.

We have become so judgmental that simple, decent kindness is slipping away. My grandmother had a hat she wore to church. It was red, big and basically hideous. But no April MB blog 4one ever said that to her. Instead, they were kind—told her she looked glowing or radiant, told her she brightened the room. Those were the kind things to say and they were so simple. They also made an old lady quite happy. Now, when I smile at strangers, which I do all the time, some are suspicious but more often than not my smile is returned with a smile. It’s a small thing, but I hope that someone, somewhere needs a simple smile to make then feel better. Maybe my smile will be the one they need.April MB blog 5

So now, I get quizzical looks when I tell people I write romance novels, but my response is always much kinder than their intent. Same goes for my pittie. Insult my dog either directly or in a round-about way and I pop out my phone and show them all the cute pictures of her. In either case, kindness is free, and it’s a gift so few people remember to give these days. Those opportunities come to us in so many ways and it’s up to us how we use them. Personally, I believe life is too short to go around criticizing pit bulls and romance novels, but that’s just me. I’d much rather spend my life looking at the bright side. It’s a nice place to be.

My next book, HER SECRET MIRACLE, will be out in June. You’ll be able to find it in all the usual places. 

As always, wishing you health and happiness (and puppies and romance novels.)

DD

3.285183.512.9781335641632[1]
Available June, 2019

 

 

 

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, Reading, The Writing Life

Busy, Busy, Busy… plus, Galentine’s Day!

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I don’t know about you, but 2019 has flown by for me so far.

With a book deadline on January 18th, the first few weeks were filled with all the words and getting the manuscript in shape to send in to my Medicals editor. I’m really excited about this third Medical Romance book, which will be a small-town Christmas story scheduled to release later this year. More on that later…

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Then we had the polar vortex to contend with two or so weeks ago. Here my little corner of the Midwestern US the actual temps dropped to -20 and the wind chills were -50. Definite BRRR weather!

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Plus, this Thursday is Valentine’s Day. As a current singleton, the holiday is bittersweet for me. I don’t mind being alone, for the most part, and enjoy my freedom and spending time with my dog Clara. But all the media attention and sappy commercials push it in your face all. the. time. LOL. So, I tend to go for a more Galentine’s type of day. What’s Galentine’s Day, you ask? No one describes it better than Parks & Recreation’s Leslie Knope:

So yes. Busy start to 2019 and hearts and flowers. What have you all been up to? Do you have plans for Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Also, my next release with Medicals–Finding Her Forever Family–is set for May 1st, 2019 and follows the story of Nurse Wendy from One Night With The Army Doc. The paperback is up for pre-order now on Amazon US, with the digital version and more retailers to come!

Check out the gorgeous cover and blurb below…

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A nurse to heal his heart…

…and complete his family.

After losing her mother to a hereditary illness, trauma nurse Wendy Smith vowed never to risk having a family of her own. So acting on her instant attraction to sexy single dad Dr. Tom Faber is a definite no! But through her unexpected connection with his daughter, Wendy grows closer to Tom and their chemistry intensifies…along with her longing for her own family—with him!

Pre-order Link: https://amzn.to/2TDmaJ5

 

 

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Traci 🙂

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Beauty and the Beast (aka Winter)

Winter has finally hit where I live. Up until now, it just teased us with periodic glimpses of chilly temperatures, but last weekend it decided to show us what it was really made of. We got snow. And there’s more snow forecasted for this weekend. And while I do normally love that fluffy white stuff, there are some less-than-pleasant things that go along with it:

  • Grocery stores that are crowded with those stocking up for what will surely be the next Snowmageddon. And yes, I was there among them, so I’m just as guilty.
  • Black ice that turns roads and sidewalks into skating rinks (usually ending with me landing on my backside).
  • Scraping the snow off my windshield and shoveling the sidewalks.
  • Cold slushy puddles that seep through your shoes and chills you to the bone.

But then there are days when I peer outside and there is this breathtaking blanket of white draped across every surface. Days when I relish making those first footprints with my dog as I head out to the barn to feed my horses. Days when the air is still and crisp and icy cold as it fills my lungs. winter 4winter 3

We recently had one such morning. The night before, we’d driven home through patches of dense freezing fog, and I remarked to my husband that I thought we might have hoarfrost the next morning. (It’s one of my favorite sights.) And sure enough, when I woke up, our trees and fences looked like someone had showered them with silvery fairy dust. I just stood there and stared for the longest time. My picture doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.winter 1

So yes, winter definitely has its beastlier moments, but then it turns right around and redeems itself, wrapping itself in a beautiful white cloak and making everything go still. At least for a few minutes. It’s what I love most about this season.

What about you? Are you a lover of all things winter? Or are you more suited to tropical realms where frost and snow are forever banished? I’d love to hear what you like best (or least) about this very chilly time of year. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your sunny days now, because winter will soon be headed your way!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Being Grateful

I’m all about finding the joy right now. In such a troubling, terrifying world, I think we all owe it to ourselves to look for the bright moments, the joy, the happiness, no matter how small they may be.

The last time I wrote for this blog, we’d lost our beloved dog, Daisy, but now, almost three IMG_1290months later, we have a new pooch, Lexi. A rescue German Shepherd. She is bringing joy back into our lives again and somebody new to love. She gets on brilliantly with our resident dog, Mango and all the cats – though initially, they weren’t overly thrilled with her arrival!

Another thing I’m grateful for is my middle son passing his Theory Test first time, which was great news for us and today, he is going to pick up his very first car. I can hardly believe I have a child that is old enough to drive, but I do! In fact, I have three of them!

I’m grateful that my youngest son, who has always struggled with autism, is doing brilliantly in his new school. We had a long fight to get him the support we needed (which was ridiculous) but he has it now for the first time. Stability. Happiness and he, himself, is finding the joy in learning for the first time.

I’m grateful that I can write and I’ve had two books published since I last blogged – A Child To Heal Them and Saving The Single Dad Doc. I’m thrilled to pieces that I get to do the best job in the entire world, every single day!

 

There are other things going off in my life, that aren’t brilliant. Family members with significant illnesses for one, that we can’t do a damn thing about, but I am trying to find as much time as I can to be with them and create happy memories, before we’re unable to. Each joke, each smile, is something to be treasured.

I’m enjoying the warm, sunny days. The days I get to walk along the beach barefoot. The days I get to sit with my children around the dinner table and laugh. Small things, but wonderful things.

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey wrote about the importance of having a Gratitude Journal and I believe in that totally, because when you force yourself to look for the good, every single day, you find your focus shifting in life. You don’t concentrate so much on all the stuff that goes wrong, all the stuff that’s out of your hands that you can’t change, and instead you focus on what made you smile – whether it was a particularly beautiful flower you saw that day, or an old couple still holding hands, or just the fact that you enjoyed a particularly lovely cup of tea!

Try it and see. There are some lovely Gratitude Journals on the market. Or you can just pick up a pretty notebook and make your own.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read a story about hope and possibility and love, then check out Saving The Single Dad Doc! And remember to look for the joy and the beauty and enjoy your life in lots of small, little ways. Why not tell me below about what you are grateful for today? Try and find three things and share! I can’t wait to read them.

Louisa xxx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Love and Loss

(WARNING – This hurt me to write. I apologise if it upsets anyone, but I felt the need to tell the story)

Ten years ago, when our youngest son was four years old, we were struggling to reach him and communicate effectively. His speech was minimal and the words he did say, were often unintelligible, except to me and his Dad.

Back then he hadn’t been diagnosed, though we strongly suspected autism was the case. I was researching autism, trying to find other parents like me, struggling to reach their child and I came across two families, that had brought a dog into their home to try and make a break-through. We’d always had dogs in the house, but hadn’t for a while, after the death of our previous dog, Lucy, a golden labrador.

So we decided the time was right for another.  And bought a fluffy white bundle that looked like a baby polar bear.

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Her name was Daisy and she was a golden retriever.

Goldens are renowned for their gentle spirit, intelligence and capacity for patience and love and we knew that she’d need it. Jack could be furious and physical, lashing out in frustration at not being able to convey his feelings.

Until Daisy and Jack met.

Daisy settled into our home well. Making friends with everybody, including the rather unimpressed cats and our other children, tolerant of all the loud noises and the constant hands that wanted to pat her and stroke her. Jack often lay down on the floor, using her body as a pillow and she would follow him and the others around, making sure they were always in sight, always around.

Jack’s verbal abilities and temper became better. He helped us take Daisy for walks and they would play and run in the surf together and when Jack got tired (which wasn’t easy!) Daisy would continue to play in the water and chase seagulls and sticks and whatever you threw for her.

She became our family dog and entered our hearts so easily with her big, brown eyes and soft, white fur and the way she’d somehow manage to make you pet her, whilst you were watching television or a movie. The way she’d nuzzle her nose under your hand, so that you’d stroke her or give her a belly rub.

She loved physical contact.

She loved us.

You could see it, clearly in her eyes. In the wag of her tail. In the way she’d sit at the window whenever you left the house and stay there until you came back again. The greeting when you came through the door.

She had some funny quirks. She liked rolling in smelly stuff. She liked to dive into dirt just after you’d given her a bath. She liked to rub herself into the grass so hard, she’d give herself a grass bindi – a little green stain in the centre of her forehead. And after breakfast, lunch and dinner, with her belly full, she would roll onto her back and squirm about, as if she were getting a spinal massage, whilst groaning and moaning in joy.

She never barked. She never chewed something she shouldn’t. She often looked guilty for something the other animals had done, as if she were willing to take the blame, but she was always so happy for those cuddles and kisses to let her know that you weren’t mad.

And then, a week ago today, April 20th, I found her lying in the garden. I thought she was sunbathing. The weather was hot, but it was still early morning, so not too bad. But there was something about the way she was lying, that made my inner red flags go up.

As I got closer, I saw her breathing was off and so I immediately checked her gums and they were white. Not the healthy pink they should be and I knew she was either in shock from something, or was suffering internal blood loss. I called the vets and they asked me to rush her in.

The vet, Hannah, could feel a mass in her abdomen, but as they’re a small practice, they didn’t have an ultrasound machine and needed to send her to Portsmouth to get it done at their emergency surgery.

But she wasn’t strong enough for travel. They offered to put her on a drip and get some fluids into her and painkillers in case she was hurting anywhere. She couldn’t stand because her blood pressure had tanked.

They did a chest X-ray, but it only showed that her heart was enlarged. Now stabilised, they asked us if we wanted to see her before they took her to Portsmouth and we all went in and surrounded her with love and affection. Stroking her. Telling her that we loved her. That she had to fight, whatever it was. And then it was time to go.

We sat at home. Jumping every time the phone rang and believe you me the world and his wife suddenly wanted to talk. Random calls. Marketing calls. We tried to be polite, but were probably curt to get them off the phone.

Then the cardiologist rang. Daisy had fluid around her heart and it wasn’t beating properly. The mass in her abdomen was a build up of fluid that her system couldn’t shift. The fluid around her heart could be one of two things. Either a simple infection, in which they could operate to remove the pericardial sac and fluid and she’d be fine, OR, it could be a cancer, in which case, she wouldn’t survive.

We had to give her the chance to live, so we pinned our hopes on it being an infection and gave them permission to operate. The next hour was terrible as we waited. Our children were upset, no-one could eat, our stomachs felt painful and twisted. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Keep busy? We couldn’t concentrate on anything, except replaying everything that had happened.

And then the phone rang. The cardiologist had found a massive tumour running through her heart. There was no way she would survive. Did she have our permission to put her to sleep?

Hearts broken, we said yes. We’d wanted a last goodbye. To be there, when it happened, but it would have been too cruel to have woken her, in pain, just so that we could be there. So she was put to sleep.

Our world stopped. We all fell to pieces. There’s a big, Daisy shaped hole in our home. No dog lying in the doorway that we have to step over every time. No dog waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs when we come down in the morning. No-one lifting our hand with a  big, wet nose, for a cuddle.

The sight of her dog bowls in the kitchen had me in floods of tears. Finding her lead in the car, broke me again. Hearing my children sob in their rooms tore me asunder.

This is all so raw. So painful. But I know that we will, in time, be able to talk about her with a smile and bring up happier memories. We will be able to look at photographs of her and feel a good feeling.

She had a good life. She was the happiest dog I know.

RIP Daisy. We will always miss you and will forever have a piece of our hearts.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, Quirky Stories, Reading, The Writing Life

My No Blog Blog

This is my “No Blog Because I Forgot to Blog” blog. It was on my calendar, I got the reminders, knew it was coming up. Yet, every time I saw one of those pop-up 49674273reminders, I thought to myself, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well, here it is, half-way through my blog day, and I still haven’t done it.

 

Why? Because I get distracted. Or, too busy. Because I have other things to do. Maybe I just want to take a nap, instead. Whatever the reason, here I am at the last minute, unprepared. But life is like that in a lot of ways, isn’t it? Insurance payment coming up and you know you need to pay it, but you’re not in the mood right now, so tomorrow… Oops, it’s five days later and you’re writing your “I Forgot to Pay” blog. Your father-in-law’s birthday is coming up and you keep putting off buying that card, then suddenly you’re writing that “Why my 01d6bb7057b53f54559383a6203e330fFather-In-Law Hates me” blog.

Life is full of distractions. Some we create for ourselves. Some are created for us. Of course, in my case, some are created by my cat at the exact moment I want to write. She knows. She always knows. But, I allow it, because I want to be distracted. I want that few minutes of purring in my ear, that few minutes of putting off what I know I need to do. I need that distraction. I really do, because life closes in. It surrounds us. We multi-task nowadays (even though some experts say there’s no such thing.) We let ourselves get caught up in things that waste our time. For me, Facebook. Sometimes up to an hour a day, complaining about it every second it holds me hostage. There used to be a time, in that spare hour, when I’d read, or play the piano, or even write (before I was a writer.) All pleasant things. Distractions, perhaps,  but ways to enrich me as I was being distracted.

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Now though, people accept their distractions for what most of them are – a time suck, a waste of true enjoyment or productivity. They count on their distractions to move them from place to place. In some cases, even motivate them. I’m bored—play a game. I’m sick of doing what I’m doing—go to social media of your choice. I need to call my mother—go eat a taco. In a way, we plan these distractions, and while there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, we let them consume us. And, not in a good way, especially when they start to take over.

For a writer, a distraction can be fatal for a deadline. For a doctor, it can be fatal for a patient. So, it makes me wonder, where has our attention span gone? I know where mine goes. Cats, research, chatting with friends. But, only in moderation (except for, apparently, when it comes to writing my blog). I plan distractions in my daily routine because the body, as well as the mind needs them. The truth is, you can’t stay focused all the time. Sometimes you have to let down. I get that. But what I don’t get is how our distractions have become almost as important as the task-at-hand. I shouldn’t let my cat anywhere near me when I’m writing. I know that, but I still do it. Then ask myself, why?

Personally, I think it’s because we’re losing the concept of self-discipline. The grandmother who raised me was all about that. In her iron-fisted, little German body, she had more self-discipline than any ten people (put together) I know today. But, she came from a different era, where a distraction for her meant a meal might not get served (and there was no calling out for pizza), or a bath might not get taken (because there was no hot tap water and a warm bath came from water heated on a wood stove.) For me, the worst that can happen if I get distracted is that I do call out for that pizza, or I just hop in the shower later on.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe the distractions we face are a generational thing. Perhaps earlier generation distractions had bigger consequences? I don’t know, but it makes sense. Especially on those nights when I invite all my grown kids to dinner and see them distracted from eating because they’re tied up with their phones. The consequences of that – cold food which can be reheated in the microwave.20170224_192732_resized

Maybe it’s time to measure our distractions. Get off the phone, read a book. Get off the social media, go outside and take a walk. Get off the game, call your mother. Distractions are allowed, but they need to be re-defined into something that benefits us. Talking on the phone throughout an entire family meal never has, and never will. It’s simple, really. Choose our distractions wisely. Choose them so they’re beneficial, not detrimental. That’s all I’m saying.

Except, cats. Cats can always be a distraction. Just ask my three. They’re the distraction experts.

My book, Saved by Doctor Dreamy, came out the first of June. It’s available in all the usual places. It’s all about the wild jungles in Costa Rica where the wrong distraction can cost you your life. Or, your true love.

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As always, wishing you health and happiness.

DD