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

Taking the Waters by Kate Hardy

 

Kate HardyBack in the nineteenth century, people used to go to a spa town and ‘take the waters’ to cure themselves of anything from skin complaints to leprosy…

And this weekend I fulfilled a long-time wish to go and see the Roman spa and baths at Bath. (If you’ve read Unlocking the Italian Doc’s Heart, my last Medical, you might have noticed the reference to the Roman Baths in London  – this is a continuation!)

The hot springs in Bath bubble up into three springs at the rate of 1.17 million litres a day, at a temperature of 46 degrees C.

In Celtic times the goddess Sulis was worshipped there (hence the town’s Roman name, Aquae Sulis) and then in Roman times the bath complex was built in about 60AD and Minerva was worshipped. There are remnants of a temple here as well as the bath house, changing rooms and saunas; and a really stunning survival is the lead curse tablets. Citizens who were unhappy about something would write it down on a lead tablet, roll it up or fold it into an ‘envelope’, and throw it into the spring to let the goddess deal with it. One of the curse tablets is written in Celtic – it’s the ONLY known piece of Celtic writing. Anywhere. In the world. (It’s untranslatable, but I was very excited about it.)

Piccies: the Great Bath.

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The head of Minerva.

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Curse tablets (one Roman, one folded over, one Celtic – you might be able to make out the diagonal downstroke of the letter L). Plus Roman remains and a middle-aged medical author…

 

Originally people bathed in the waters for a cure (anything from skin ailments to leprosy), and from the 17th century people drank it. You can actually try the waters here in a little paper cone. As a Medical author, I knew my duty was clear. As an English graduate, I knew Dickens had mentioned the waters in The Pickwick Papers – Sam says, ‘I thought they’d a wery [sic] strong flavour of warm flat irons.’

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I was expecting it to be vile (because the biggest component of the 43 minerals is sulphate), but I wasn’t expecting it to be warm (despite what I said about the temperature above!). And, actually, it wasn’t that bad. ‘Interesting’ is probably the right word. It didn’t restore me on a very hot day (that was the iced coffee I had later!). But it was interesting…

imageKate’s latest book, Carrying the Single Dad’s Baby, is out later in August. If you like Notting Hill, astronomy and cute children, this one’s for you 🙂

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

It’s a Jungle (of corn) Out There!

Maybe you can weigh in on a debate my son and I have been having for the last month: soybeans or corn? When we moved to the country a little over a year ago, there were soybeans planted all around our house. We could see the neighbors’ homes in the distance and watch fireflies dance across the fields in late June and July. It was beautiful. Magical. Well, I didn’t realize it then, but farmers rotate their crops in our area, planting soybeans one year and corn the next.

It’s a corn year. And those stalks enclose us, leaving only the lane that leads to our house. Who knew that corn grew that tall? Knee high by the fourth of July, goes the saying. Well by July fourth it was well past my knee and was as tall as I am!

Here is where the debate comes in. I LOVE the corn. I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of my own private oasis with not another person for miles and miles. The fireflies still dance, but they’re in our yard now, and it’s not the thousands of twinkle lights like last year. But I love it. It’s beautiful and watching the corn form those ears that have gotten fatter and fatter has been fascinating. My son disagrees. He says it feels claustrophobic (even though we’re sitting on five acres), and he doesn’t like not being able to see past it. That reminded me of when we lived in Florida. We had a visitor from another state–a state where you could see for miles and miles. She said driving on the Florida interstate really bothered her…she felt claustrophobic (like my son) and said that having the trees on either side of her was BORING.

What? Boring? I couldn’t even fathom that.

Which made me wonder if there really are two distinct preferences: being able see outside of one’s own little spot, or the cozy sense of privacy that vegetation affords. So here is my informal piece of research. Soybeans or corn? Do you like feeling hemmed in on all sides by greenery? Or do you like wide open spaces where you can see the world around you?

I really want to know. And maybe next year (soybean year), I’ll be able to see the other side’s perspective.

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

The joy of research by Kate Hardy

Kate HardyI think my favourite part of writing a book is the research. The book I’m finishing writing right now is a cardiac book, and learning about the cutting edge treatment has been so interesting; my mum was a specialist cardiac nurse, so this one kind of feels special (and I brainstormed it in the British Library with lovely Annie O’Neil, so that was an extra bonus).

My next book is going to be set partly in Florence – so you can guess where we ended up 🙂 There were certain iconic places I wanted to visit (and I have to confess to becoming addicted to ‘Medici: Masters of Florence’ on Netflix since coming home – we’re dying for the next season to come out). And one of them was a certain art gallery. My research team balked at the idea of going to a modern art gallery; but this is Florence, so ‘modern’ actually means ‘1750 onwards’, which is his favourite sort of art. (I’ve tried to appreciate modern art, but…) So we enjoyed the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi and the Accademia; we also enjoyed visiting a number of palaces and churches, but my two big highlights of the trip were climbing inside the Duomo and visiting the library at San Lorenzo. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

And we had a bonus at the end – we were flying from Pisa airport. We were pretty sure that tickets to climb the leaning tower would be like the Duomo, i.e. you need to book days in advance, but I was in the queue to buy a ticket for the cathedral when I discovered we could visit the tower in 20 minutes’ time. That has to be one of the weirdest experiences of my life – you can really feel the ‘lean’ of the tower, and as you climb the spiral staircase you straighten up and then lean in the opposite direction. The steps are worn in a spiral rather than in a straight line! And I was very glad of the safety railing at the top 🙂

What’s been your strangest experience when visiting somewhere?

imageKate’s latest is Unlocking the Italian Doc’s Heart (set partly in Verona and written there last year!), out in UK/Aus shops now and online at the usual places 🙂 For more information, see her website.

 

Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Heritage Lost

I rely on the internet for information. A lot. More than I should. That was brought home to me when I opened a cabinet door I rarely use and saw a familiar sight: my mom’s handwriting peeking out of an old wooden recipe box.

I pulled the box down and opened the lid, and I was swept away on a wave of nostalgia. My mom has been gone for almost sixteen years and yet seeing her handwriting was so…her. I recognized it immediately. And it made me think. Have I done that for my children? Will they be able to one day look at something like a recipe and see the essence of who I was? recipes

I don’t know. And that makes me sad. If I want to find a recipe nowadays, my first instinct isn’t to go to that treasured box. Instead, I go online and try to find the best of the best of that recipe. How many positive reviews has it gotten? What hints do the reviewers give for making the recipe even better?

And once I’ve made that recipe, I’d be hard-pressed to be able to find it again. How have I come to this point and why? Maybe because I think it’s faster. But what about future generations of my family? Am I losing something in the process?

It could be that it’s time for me to slow down and leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that my children can find their way back to me. Don’t they deserve the same bits and pieces like the ones my mom left me?

I think they do. So I’m going to start thinking a little more about the way I do things. And hopefully one day, my kids will find a treasured recipe or a journal or a photo album that contains my handwriting.

Do you have a special way of passing something down to your kids or relatives? I would love to hear it. Or maybe there’s a special recipe you’d like to share. This is the perfect place! I’m taking notes.

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, The Writing Life

A year of culture…

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxTwo years ago, I turned 50 and designated it a Year of Having Fun. I had lots of little birthday celebrations with people, I ate way too much cake, and I burned the candle at both ends.

Last year, I thought that it should be the Year of Carpe Diem – so between those two years I managed to see all three of my favourite musicians (Robert Plant, Radiohead and David Gilmour), and it was our 25th wedding anniversary so we ended up in Verona, which was lovely.

This year is going to be the Year of Culture.

Let’s start with the medical authors’ special giveaway, because you’re reading this blog because you love medical romance 🙂  You can find the entry form here!

So, my Year of Culture. I’m overdoing things just a tad for my birthday fortnight. So I have Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend (and a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace), Hamilton in London next week, and Jeremy Irons in ‘A Long Day’s Journey into Night’ the weekend after. Add in a visit to a stately home (that’s research), afternoon tea in Norwich’s Assembly House (aka super-historic) twice, and an evening at Phill Jupitus’ show (where he does his own support act and reads poetry) – yep, it’s going to be good.

Did I mention tickets for three different Shakespeare productions at the Globe? (Othello, Shrew (that’s my daughter’s A level text, which is why I’m squeezing it in the day before we go to Florence and I’ll have to drive both ways), and the Two Noble Kinsmen). Oh, and another Stratford trip to see Macbeth. And a lot more stand-up – Jon Richardson (twice, because he’s my daughter’s favourite comedian), Tim Vine, Bill Bailey and Danny Baker. Musically, I have tickets booked for Scott Matthew, Sheridan Smith, Joe Bonamassa and Def Leppard. And I’m waiting for the Tate Gallery to announce booking details for their Burne-Jones exhibition (my favourite artist – I’ve been waiting rather impatiently since last October, but it opens this October so surely they can’t keep us waiting much longer?). Plus of course Florence, where I finally get to see the Uffizi, the Duomo and the Accademia 🙂

It’s going to be a good year. Do you enjoy theatre and art exhibitions? What have you seen recently, or can’t wait to see?

 

The Writing Life

How do you do it?

So, when I first started writing and then was published and even now after turning in book #20 to my editor I get asked: “How do you do it?”

Or: “I could never do it?”

Or: “How can one place inspire a whole book?”

The last question was my brother’s after he found out that I decided to write a series of books for a Kindle World set in and around Yellowknife, after I visited him this summer.

My question back to that is “How do you not?”

I guess I just don’t get not having an imagination, of having voices constantly in your head nattering at you to WRITE. My daughter who is very logical and very math/science oriented doesn’t get how I can sit down some days and write 8,000 words.

She finds writing painful. I find Math painful.creative-writing-final-meme

Ssshhh, she also gets annoyed because I’m fairly good at predicting movies. I was completely right about The Last Jedi. Not that it ruined it for me (Hello Reylo shipper here), I just did a fist pump and my daughter glared at me in the theatre. When a movie surprises me I love it all the more. Rogue One was the last movie that surprised me and I adore it.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I was asked by my daughter’s school to attend a career night and talk about the whys and hows of becoming a writer. And it got me thinking way back to when I was a teenager, sitting in a guidance counsellor’s office and getting asked what I wanted to do with my life.

“I want to be a writer.”

And my guidance counsellor told me that was not a logical choice. I would never make anything of it and I should probably think about becoming a legal secretary or something. No hate for legal secretaries, I was one for many years, but still all those stories played in my head. I was a day dreamer and I didn’t to do that.

I wrote and drew every day. And when I wasn’t doing that, my head was buried in a book.

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I applied for Art College, because I did do drawing and painting all through high school and the Art College interviewer looking at my portfolio smiled and said “Do you write?”

I blushed and said, “Yes.”

“I would love to see it. Don’t give up.”

I ended up not going to that school because of financial reasons. My parents did try and I ended up going to a college to learn legal secretary work, but that interviewer was the first person beyond my father, who thought I could do it.

I guess the purpose of this rambling post on a snowy groundhog day it to tell all of those who are thinking of writing DON’T GIVE UP! Even if you get rejections, we all get those!

Don’t give up.

If you love it, keep trying. Everyone’s path on this publication journey is so different and that’s okay …what’s not okay is not trying.

And believe me, sometimes writing a book is like pulling teeth. My 20th was hard to write, but revising is going well. LOL So, you just keep going.

Now, for some fun stuff. We’re having a Valentine’s giveaway. You can enter here and the winner will be announced on February 14, 2018.

Also, if you’re in the Sarnia, Ontario/Port Huron, MI area I will be running a Harlequin Romance Trivia at the Coles in the Lambton Mall in Sarnia on February 10 from 6-8 p.m. Copies of Navy Doc on her Christmas List and the Surgeon King’s Secret Baby will be with me, plus Harlequin is providing a BUNCH of prizes and really fun game. I’d love to see you there.

You can find more about Amy here

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