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

Rainy Days and Mondays

Well, today isn’t Monday, but as I was writing this blog post, it was. And it was definitely raining. Most of the day, in fact. But, unlike the song, those kinds of days don’t “get me down.” I tend to like the rain. And sleeping to the sound of thunder is just bliss.

What wasn’t so blissful was the cold that went along with the rain, since we’re headed into winter, and the days are getting shorter. But what does make me happy is that I just got my story bible for the continuity I’ll be writing. And it’s a Christmas story. One of my favorite kinds of books to write! Did the editors plan it that way, hoping the festive lights and tinsel would light my muse’s fire? I don’t know, but I think it’s going to work. I’m very excited about the plot I’ve been given, and on Monday, I was busy setting up my chapters in Scrivener (the writing program I use). So, right now, it’s literally a series of twelve chapter headings and an expanse of empty pages. My imagination is running wild with how I can make this story my own.

Monday’s rain just added to my momentum, since I couldn’t get out and do anything. In fact, I drove to a nearby supermarket parking lot to get some peace and quiet, pushed back the seat as far as it would go and listened to the rain while I got my program set up. It was wonderful. Just me, the warmth of the car heater, and my still-to-be-written book.

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The view from my car on a rainy Monday

And I can’t wait to start! I just came off a frenetic writing schedule and finally had time to stop and recharge my batteries. So just like the rain that was washing the thin layer of dust from my car, it cleared the cobwebs from my mind too. I’m ready to write.

I’m in love. With my characters. My story. My life. Even on a rainy, Monday morning!

To add to my joy, I just received the cover for my latest book. I love that too!

How about you? Do you like rainy days?

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

A Family’s Legacy

Mt NeboI’ve had a hard time this month deciding the topic of my blog. First, because it’s autumn where I live, I thought something about the season might be in order. You know, insert a pumpkin recipe or how to make cinnamon applesauce. Maybe something about a trip to the apple orchard. This is my favorite time of the year and blogging about it would be a natural for me. But, I’ve blogged IMAG0410autumn in the past, so I bypassed that topic. Then, I thought about word choices…why we use the often-odd configuration of words we do. For example, I saw a sign offering horseback riding lessons. At first, it seemed innocent enough. But then my mind started whirling with things like why call it horseback riding? Seriously, does anybody 20170812_151024_resizedever ride the chest of a horse? Next thing I knew, I was in the mental middle of a Michael McIntyre-ish comedy routine. Could almost picture myself pacing back and forth across the stage with him.

Sadly, the real topic came to me at a family funeral. My father-in-law was buried just over a week ago, and the Despain family gathered from places near and far to pay tribute.  It was a nice service done with full military accolades, and I’ll admit I korean-war-memorial-1809436__340[1]got a little choked up at the rifle salute and the playing of Taps. The weather was perfect, the people in attendance all respectful. As funeral services go, this was a very nice one. But, it wasn’t the funeral that caught my interest. It was the family stories that came afterwards, in the wee hours, sitting at the kitchen table, and at breakfast, and other odd times when the family was gathered. The stories were funny and sad, and they captured the essence of a man no one there knew in his entirety. What struck me was that the stories were only circulated among the older members of the family. The younger ones didn’t care.  They weren’t there. They didn’t listen.  And, I think that’s typical. As generations pass, so do the things that maybe only a generation ago were important.

I think about my grandmothers. One was a suffragette. I’m proud of that fact. In a lot of ways, knowing what my grandmother did has defined me. But, I don’t know the stories of her marches. Don’t know what made her want to get involved, or why my grandfather would have allowed it. I don’t even know where she marched. And, that’s my loss. My other grandmother told me of the times she and her family would covered-wagon-1675111__340[1]go on vacation in a covered wagon. They would be flanked by Native Americans as they were wandering outside the established United States in the early part of the 20th century, into one of the territories. And, my grandmother would sneak off and play with the Native American children who would come along to, what was essentially, escort, my grandmother’s family to a place where most people of the time didn’t dare go. I certainly know that story, but I don’t know why my grandmother’s family vacationed where they did, I have no idea what their covered wagon looked like, or why she knew and played with the children of the Natives sent out to flank them. Again, my loss.

Certainly, the old always gives way to the new. I understand that. But when I look at the photograph of my suffragette grandmother and see how much MacKenzie (who would be her great-great granddaughter) resembles her, I realize that my loss goes far beyond me. I can’t tell MacKenzie the stories of who her great-great grandmother was because, in a large sense I don’t know. I never took the time to ask.

And when I listened to the stories of my father-in-law, many of which were new to the majority of his six children, I wondered if anything of his life other than a few photos would be passed down, or whether those odd moments, when only the oldest of the family gathered around, would be the end of a legacy.

As a writer, I’m all for capturing those moments, writing them down – or, at least, the highlight of them. But I haven’t done that. Why? Because I never asked, and now the people I would have asked are gone, as is most of their legacy. Is a family legacy important? To the outside world—no. To the family—in some instances, yes. Overall, I don’t really know, but I hope it is. Because, for me, in another generation or two, I’d like to think that my family might sit around the still-life-379858__340[1]kitchen table where someone would say, “Dianne…yes, I remember hearing about her. Wasn’t she the one who wrote some books?”

R.I.P. Richard Steele Despain. You are missed.

No books coming out this month, but look for me in January, when both REUNITED WITH HER ARMY DOC and HEALING HER BOSS’S HEART will be out!

As always, wishing you health & happiness. And maybe a little bit of family history. 

Dianne

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

A heartfelt thanks by Kate Hardy

The highlight of my calendar is the annual M&B authors’ lunch and party. It means I get to see my author friends in person – including, if I’m lucky, some of those visiting from other countries – and the editorial team. And at the party the editors present milestone awards to the authors – this year it was to Michelle Styles (Historical) for her 25th, me for my 75th, and Carol Marinelli for her amazing 100th!

I think the easiest way to show what it’s like is by photographs. So here I am with Sheila Hodgson, senior Medicals ed (she edits my Medicals)

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And in the M&B offices where Sheila said some very nice things indeed about my books and almost made me cry.

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Carol Marinelli making her speech

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Oh, and did I mention the amazing view from the top floor of the News International building?

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The party in full swing:

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Me with Carol (and it’s not going to be another 10 years before we meet up again!)

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With my other editor, Megan Haslam (who edits my Cherish/Romance books)

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And my milestone award for my 75th book – this gorgeous Tiffany keyring 🙂

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But one thing I said in my speech I’d like to share here: authors don’t write their books in a vacuum. I’m incredibly blessed to have the most wonderful friends (officially colleagues and editors, but definitely friends) – people you can talk to when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and they’ll brainstorm ideas of how to get you out again; people who understand what it’s like when you get ‘tiny tweaks’ revisions (which are nothing of the kind!!); people who celebrate the good times with you and are there for you in the tough times (and it definitely goes both ways). And I’m also privileged to have wonderful readers – without you, I wouldn’t be able to do the job I love. So I want to say a very big thank you to you all, from the bottom of my heart xxx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Choices

We’ve been thinking a lot about choices in the Heaton household just lately and how important they are. How saying yes to one thing can take you down a completely different road to saying no, how saying this is what I want to do, can change everything completely and forever.

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Choices and change can be frightening. Choices can sometimes be made easily and sometimes, require a lot of forethought.

This year, I’ve had three teenagers receive their GCSE results. They had to make the choice as to whether they were going to put the work in, in class, whether they were going to revise and whether they were going to give their all in their exams. The results were mixed, but I know they did their very best and now my three teenagers have choices ahead of them.

Which college to go to?

Which courses are they allowed to do?

What do they want to do in life? What are their goals and ambitions?

These last questions are ones I frequently consider when thinking up a new story. What do I already know about my characters, but what do I think they want from life? What is it in their past history that might be holding them back? What are their goals, ambitions and values? What do they want more than anything?

Because once I make those choices for them, that is the road upon which they will travel. There may be bumps in the road, diversions. They may even do a complete about turn and make another choice, due to circumstances.

But there are always choices. There are always options, no matter how cornered or hopeless everything may seem.

medical3In Their Double Baby Gift, Dr Brooke Bailey makes the choice to return to work after having her baby girl. The hero, Major Matt Galloway makes the choice to take over his wife’s old post and uphold the promise his wife made to Brooke, before she died. Their lives could have been so different if neither of them made those choices.

Matt soldiers on through life despite his PTSD, putting on a brave face and creating a mask for everyone else, but what would his life be like if he gave into the fear and the terrors and flashbacks?

They would both be completely different people.

As authors, we are always making choices for our characters and this for me, is the best part of story-telling. We might put our characters through some rough ups and downs occasionally, but we’re always nice to them in the end! And after the book finishes? Well, their story and their happy ever after is completely up to them, though I guess we all hope and assume they continue to love each other for the rest of their lives.

We all make choices each and every day as to what we’re going to put into our relationships with each other. Supporting a spouse, guiding a child, being there for a friend or neighbour.

As writers we make good art.

But as people, let’s make good choices, too. Choices that show our love and support of one another through tough times and the sometimes difficult and unfair world we live in today. Make good art. Make good choices. And everyone will be there to support you.

Louisa xxx

Book Awards, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Conference Roundup! with Amy Andrews

The Romance Writer’s of Australia annual conference was on a couple of weeks ago. It’s an intense few days of networking (I had a half dozen different business/industry related appointments) and craft and catching up. Which means a lot of talking and laughing and, yes, the odd trip to the bar or two – but who can resist a rooftop bar?

And then, at the awards gala on Saturday night, for two of Harl’s medical authors, this happened…

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In fact Avril went on to win another Ruby award for the overall best romance of the year so she ended up with two gorgeous iceberg statues!

 

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Neither of the awards were for medical romances (although mine does have quite a bit of medical stuff in it…) but we always celebrate our own here and both Avril and I are still proud medical authors no matter what other kind of books we also write.  If you’re curious about the books, they’re both available online and if you’re in the UK you can actually buy the paperback version of Numbered through Amazon UK now!

 

The best part was that Numbered was co-authored by my sister so we got to share the accolade and the spotlight together. I didn’t think anything could make us closer which goes to show you can get to 47 and still be clueless  🙂

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yes….we look nothing alike….

And, for your viewing pleasure, I spotted some other med authors over the weekend!

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Fiona Lowe (L), Fiona McArthur(R)
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The lovely Susanne Hampton and I dressed up in our “Bring Out The Animal in You” cocktail party garb!
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Marion Lennox at the award’s gala after receiving her life time achievement honour.

And last but not least – the two Ruby girls!!! Avril has the most sassy haircut now which I really love. She rocks the short and sexy 🙂

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And that’s it. I am utterly exhausted but so very grateful that this is my life and I get to share it with all you guys. Until next year…..

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World

Two milestones – by Kate Hardy

So August 1 saw two milestones for me – my 25th wedding anniversary and the official publication day of my 75th book for Mills and Boon.

We decided to celebrate our anniversary in the Italian Lakes – and where could be more romantic on the day itself than Verona?

August 1 1992 was a baking hot day.

August 1 2017 was even hotter, because Southern Europe was having a heatwave – 39 degrees (but felt like 44).

And I guess the day was very much like any marriage, because there were bumpy bits in the day, starting with the tour bus not picking us up, an hour trying to find out where they were and discovering that our booking hadn’t gone through even though they’d taken the money, and then making the best of it and catching the local bus to Verona and doing the ‘tour’ ourselves. We saw the Arena, Dante’s statue, amazing churches, pretty courtyards and majestic towers.

We visited Juliet’s balcony – after putting our names on the wall (on a band-aid, no less – well, a Medical Romance author would be prepared…)

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And over the rest of the week we saw some amazing sights. We caught a cable car to the top of the Dolomites.

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We saw the most romantic sunsets.

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We ate lots of pizza, pasta, fresh fish and ice cream (I think my dish of the week just had to be pasta with zucchini and scallops, in this lovely cream and saffron and tomato sauce). We tried local wines. We discovered just how nice Aperol spritz is – the local aperitif, basically 1 part bitter orange liqueur, 2 parts prosecco and 3 parts sparkling water, all served over ice.

And with our eldest about to start his second year at uni and our youngest about to start sixth form, it was probably our last family holiday – and definitely one to remember.

Plus there’s my 75th book milestone with M&B – which, coincidentally enough, is set on a fictional Italian island. The title – The Runaway Bride and the Billionaire – pretty much tells you what the book is about, and it’s part of the Summer at the Villa Rosa quartet which I wrote with Liz Fielding, Scarlet Wilson and Jessica Gilmore.

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So all in all it’s been a pretty overwhelming week. But milestones like these aren’t reached alone – and the support of my family and friends has been really appreciated over the last quarter of a century, plus my M&B readers and writing friends for the last 16 years. So I’d like to raise a glass (of Aperol, of course!) to you all to say thank you – and cheers!

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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