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

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases, Reading, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World

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.

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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?

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

Hero, hero, who loves a hero?

I am getting ready to write a new book, which is always an exciting prospect! One of a quad. And I am stoked. Because I’d already written a quad with the same fabulously talented authors, under the Hot Latin Docs! umbrella. We had a blast planning those books. And we’re already having fun figuring out how we’re going to link these new books, and most importantly…our heroes–hunky firefighters and paramedics who work out of the same station house. They also shared the same foster home growing up.

Did I mention how excited I am?

So, in planning my particular hero, Deakin Patera, I am having to figure out what makes this guy tick. Who is Deakin Patera? I’m discovering him little by little. And that makes me curious about what kind of heroes readers connect with.

I write a lot of playboys, but one of my favorite types of heroes is the angsty, broody, wounded, damaged, scarred–you get the picture–hero. Sometimes I dive so deep into the angst, though, that my hero has a hard time holding his breath long enough to reach the surface and retrieve his happily-ever-after. So this time, I will plan carefully (famous last words!).

Do you like angsty heroes? Or are you more of a fan of a hero with witty comebacks? Swashbucklers? Playboys? Bad boys? What kind of hero makes you go weak in the knees? I really want to know!

In the meantime, here are the covers from our Hot Latin Docs! quad, written by Annie O’Neill, Amy Ruttan, me, and Amalie Berlin. It was hard to leave those heroes behind, but I know I’m going to love this new cast of characters just as much!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Reading, The Writing Life, Women's Business

What Makes A Strong Woman Strong?

Hello, again!

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 So, I’ve been thinking about what my blog should be today, and I kept coming back to an autumn theme. Joel and I have been doing a lot of autumn things lately – picking apples, buying pumpkins, photographing the turning leaves. Next week we’re going to take a fall foliage train excursion and we’re also going to an out-of-state park where 1100 carved jack-o-lanterns will be on display in the evening. So, autumn did seem like the logical choice for today. Then I looked at the date this blog was assigned – October 14 – my grandmother’s birthday, 127 years after the day she was born. And the topic of strong women came to mine. Priscilla Dosler Copp White was a strong woman, and probably the most influential woman in my life.

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She was a little German lady, born of German-English heritage. Raised in a tiny Pennsylvania Dutch community, she didn’t have much opportunity to become educated. Her schooling ended with 3rd grade, around age 8. She hadn’t learned math yet, but she taught herself in later years. And she hadn’t learned to write either, but again, she taught herself. She also taught herself to spell and to read because she valued education. Which is why, in later years, she took in laundry, scrubbed other people’s floors, did sewing—anything to save money to put each of her five children through college at a time this country’s economy had crashed.

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Nana, as I called her, married young. She was 17, but that was expected of young girls in 1906. Marry young, have children, cook, clean—that was pretty much their lot in life back then. Nana did all that. Plus, she was a mid-wife. No, she didn’t have any formal training, but all the pregnant ladies in her tiny town turned to her to help them through pregnancy and childbirth. Or when they had the flu. Or needed stitches. Even when I was a kid and someone in our neighborhood had a medical crisis, they came to Nana.

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On Sundays, Nana played the piano at the local Lutheran church. She also made all the choir robes and laundered them, directed the choir, arranged flowers for the altar, swept the floors, made sure the hymnals were in proper repair, fixed Sunday dinner for the pastor and his family, and called on people in her congregation who were ill. Every day of the week, she fed the “hobos” as she called them, telling me that her fence post was marked so anyone who needed a meal knew to stop by her house. She always had a pot of beans on cooking for down-and-out strangers who needed to eat. And she fixed daily meals for a number of shut-ins in her neighborhood. Sometimes she cooked for as many as five different families, as well as her own. She lived with us when I was growing up, and put the best German meals on the table you could ever want. In fact, she was still cooking right up until her death. Feeding her family was one of the great joys of her life.

Nana sewed, too. Beautifully. I was the best-dressed kid anywhere. But she didn’t just sew for me. She sewed for what she called “the poor people.” If she needed two yards of fabric for a dress, she’d buy four, make two dresses, and donate one. She darned socks because one hole didn’t mean it should be thrown away. Made curtains, bedspreads and tablecloths because the prices you paid for them in the stores were disgraceful. She re-upholstered furniture because why throw out a perfectly good chair when it wore out when you could just put new fabric on it? And she turned any and everything into lamps, or storage containers, or tables. The little table sitting next to my office chair was part of a kitchen set we had when I was a kid. She cut off the back, upholstered it and added ball fringe (her trademark). It’s been a functional piece of furniture in my life more years than I’ll admit.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 And, a spotless house—oh, my gosh, was she a housekeeper! I remember when I first left home, I wasn’t so tidy about my own apartment. But Nana would walk to my apartment several times a week (she never learned to drive) just to clean for me, do my laundry, stock my fridge, and do all the things she’d done for me my entire life. This was quite a chore for someone in her 80s, but that was Nana. Always busy. Always taking care of the people she loved. It was her love, not just for her family but for everyone she knew, that made her so strong, I believe.

Nana never held a regular job. She was a happily-married homemaker for 53 years, and after my grandfather died, she moved in with my family to take care of us. Quite honestly, I don’t remember a time in my young life when Nana wasn’t there. Of course, there were those big, explosive times when she was there too much—as in, she was one heck of a disciplinarian. Nana didn’t speak German around the house, even though she was raised in a German-speaking home herself. But when I got in trouble and heard the words – Gott im Himmel! – coming from her, it was time to run. I was in deep, deep trouble and there’s nothing scarier than a 93 pound, feisty German woman who is on the warpath.

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Reminiscing aside, Nana had one accomplishment in her life, other than her family, she was most proud of. My tiny little grandmother was a suffragette. She started her march for women’s right to vote in 1915, and kept on marching until 1919, when women in the United States were given that right. Her first ballot was cast in 1920, and she never missed voting in an election after that. She told me she’d worked too hard, for too long, to be considered equal, to throw it all away. To me, that made her more than my grandmother. It made her my hero. I think it made her a hero to women in general, too, because women like her made it possible for women like us to be us—women who are able to choose our destinies, whether it be staying at home to take care of our families, writing books, heading up international corporations or running for political office.

So today, on Nana’s birthday, I think about who I am, and about who so many other women are because of people like my grandmother. She had her place in this world. It was in her home, taking care of other people. Maybe that’s why I became a nurse. It was in her church, playing the piano. Maybe that’s why I became a musician. It was in teaching herself, by the light of an oil lamp, how to read and write. Maybe that’s why I became a writer. It was in marching for something she believed in. Maybe that’s why I became an advocate for equality.

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Happy Birthday, Nana!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Reading

Let’s have Bookclub! Books I’ve Read Recently by Fiona Lowe

I read books all sorts of ways…hardback, paperback, ebook and audio. Some people argue with me that listening to an audio book isn’t reading but I say pish to that. I tell you, I’d get no housework done if I didn’t have audio books to see me through the drudgery of it. Also, what’s not to love about being read a story.

You may or may not have read the last four books I’ve read but if you have please join in the discussion and if you haven’t, please tell me the last four books YOU have read.

3-wishesThe first two books I read are by Australian authors. Three Wishes was Liane Moriarty’s debut novel, written I think about six years ago. It’s about triplets in their 30s and it has the signature Moriarty style. I can see the roots that her writing has grown from. Although not my favourite of her all her books…What Alice Forgot currently holds that title for me…  I did enjoy this one.

dryThe Dry is a debut novel by Australian journalist, Jane Harper. It’s set in my home state in a small country town during a vicious drought. The heat and dust rise off the page. I am not a ‘who dunnit’ fan and this book is not usually my type of read but I enjoyed it. Easy to read with well drawn characters and plenty of secrets and lies. I gave it to my dad for his post-operative recovery and he read it in two days. If you like crime fiction, check this one out.

The next two books I listened to on audio books and were random picks for me from the Borrow Box app based on two separate criteria. The Donor was borrowed because it was instantly available and it sounded interesting. Vinegar Girl was a new release.

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I have been told for years, ‘you must read Anne Tyler’ but I am not sure this book was the one I should have started with. Although entertaining, it strayed a lot from The Taming of the Shrew and the caustic wit and repartee from that play were missing. Perhaps it is a tale that would suffer from a modern telling, which is why Tyler had the proposed husband  “release” Kate from her father and why Kate ran rings around the two men who were written as buffoons.

The Donor was a book I borrowed for the premise. Twin daughters both in kidney failure
and requiring a transplant. One father and a moral dilemma. Also no likeable donorcharacters in the book at all. I listened with increasing incredulity  to the antics of the cast and I should have put it down but I kept listening, because I was waiting for … I don’t know what I was waiting for except to tell you it didn’t come. My medical knowledge was a disadvantage in this book as I wasn’t able to suspend disbelief. I kept saying, ‘that wouldn’t happen.’

Right now I am reading The Lovely Bones, which I never got around to reading when it was a big hit back in the day.

I always post the books I read on Goodreads. So what are you reading?

BOOK NEWS!

I’ve just done the final proofs on Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon, which is book 2 in the Paddington Children’s Hospital series out next year 🙂 Today I start the final proofs on my women’s fiction/family saga, Daughter of Mine, out March 2017.

img_1662Right now in Australia, there is reprinting of Career Girl in The Country, my female surgeon fighting sexism in the outback. I love this cover. Of course,  if you don’t live in Australia, the book is available everywhere as an eBook 

I have 28 back-list books, so if you’ve missed any there is a printable list here.

Happy Reading!

Fiona x

 

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

How Down and Dirty Do You Like It?

Now, now….minds out of the boudoir my friends (or the office desk, the hospital supplies room or the ridiculously large Egyptian cotton sheeted bed). This time I’m talking about our heroes and heroines and just how tortured their pasts are or aren’t. Romances are, at their heart, meant to be beautiful stories about falling in love and deep heated kisses that make your knees go all wobbly and learning valuable lessons about life, love, ourselves and perhaps even a thrilling new surgical technique in the course of the journey to a Happily Ever After.

My current book has the heroine going through a fair bit of torture that keeps making me burst into tears. I feel so AWFUL for her (and am prone to a bit of melodrama – quelle surprise!). Not really the stuff of romance, is it? But part of love is pain and heartbreak and asking the universe why – A THOUSAND TIMES, WHY? Right? Or is that just me? To counterbalance my heroines plight,  I’ve been fairy dusting a whole load of Christmas magic into the mix to make the teeter totter (see saw?) ride less of a heavy weighted misery trip. I think it works…but I guess the proof will be in the (rum-soaked) Christmas pudding, eh?

mqdefault.jpgWant to have a weep right now? Click HERE.I’m extremely curious about how dark and heavy you like things to go – as writers and as readers. Me? I love a good blub. Sometimes I actively seek out a film that I know will make me sob. When I went to see The Bridges of Madison County – I had to go sneak into a Jackass film afterwards so I’d look less like I’d just been dumped by my boyfriend in the middle of the film. No joke. Rabbit Proof Fence nearly took my sister out. Dehydrated her for a week!

I suppose what it boils down to is I will never – ever, in a million, zillion years – get enough of Triumph Over Adversity stories. I think the human spirit is a resounding powerhouse made of up love and full caps YESES and YOU BETS and It Will Get Betters. But how much can a person take before the turn-around happens? And do you really want it in heavy doses in your beautiful romance novel, or is just a little bit of hardship enough? Be honest – I can take it (and then triumph over adversity after I get all blotchy faced from a monster boo-hoo). Besides – this is why we have so many wonderful, different authors, no? Speak up – can’t wait.

And now for the exciting bit! I don’t have a book out this month (although please feel free to check out any of my three I do have out in the world) – and since I’m just finishing writing a holiday book (for next year) I thought I’d feature our very own Jennifer Taylor’s new book – the magnificently titled Miracle Under the Mistletoe !

’Tis the season for second chances?

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Two years ago A&E Consultant Sean Fitzgerald left Molly Daniels broken-hearted. Now he’s back, and the reception she gives him is frostier than the weather! But he’s determined to reveal the truth about his past…

Walking away from Molly was the hardest thing Sean’s ever done, but now she’s within his reach once more he never wants to let her go. Could one magical mistletoe kiss be all he needs to melt her heart and finally show Molly he’s here to stay?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Reading

Library blues

Today I spent a few minutes on the phone with a nice lady from the Library.  Not unusual, I’ve phoned the library before in search of books, but this time was different.  Apparently book buying has been ‘paused’ in most of Birmingham’s public libraries because of cuts in their funding, and so they are appealing for books published in the last year to be donated.  (Here’s a link to the BBC news report )

There was quite a furore when the news broke.  Although I understand the view that donating books may only serve to validate cuts in the long term, I can’t subscribe to it.  The library service has been a friend to me for a long time now, and at the moment it’s a friend in need.  If I can help out, I will.

Here in London it’s the same story.  Libraries are closing, and those which survive are struggling.  It’s a complicated issue.  Should volunteers be used, to replace trained librarians?  Should the way libraries operate be changed?  Should library services take precedence over other social services?

Well, politics isn’t in my remit.  But it makes me sad to see that some of the libraries that I used as a child are now threatened with closure.  They were, and still are, places that held a great deal of magic.  And in my opinion, they perform a vital public service.  It’s true that library borrowing has fallen in the last ten years, but surely the answer to that is to encourage people to use our libraries more, not close them down.

But in a world of internet access and e-books, are libraries really still needed?  I’d say yes.  In the UK in 2013 the E-Learning Foundation estimated that 750,000 children of school age didn’t have an internet connection at home.  That number dwindles yearly, but there will always be students who depend on the library for internet services and books.  There are many different sections of the community who rely on the library – those who need to read in large print format for example, or those who can’t afford to buy books.

And visiting the library is not just a matter of need.  I have internet access and am lucky enough to be able to buy books, but the library is still valuable to me.  A place where I can browse and enjoy, try new authors, or find specialist books.  And since I’ve become a writer I’ve had the immense privilege of seeing my own books in the library.  So I’ve joined the campaign to support my local libraries in whatever way I can.

I’ll end with an apology, because I imagine that anyone taking the time to read this blog really doesn’t need to be told how valuable our libraries are!  But please bear with me, because today, I really need to say this one thing.  I love my library.