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

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

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, vector concept

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…

9781335641588

 

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 🙂

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

With the Swipe of a Pen

There are two questions I’m always asked. The first is: Are you still writing? I know people mean well, but it would be the same as if I were to approach my doctor and ask: Are you still practicing? Or my plumber: Are you still plumbing?MB 1 Blog Feb

Writing is what I do. I get up in the morning, go through my normal routines, then go to work. That work happens to be writing. Honestly, the question does annoy me as it implies that writing isn’t work, or that I can do it as a whim. And while I’d like to answer with something like that, I’m always very polite to say: Yes, I’m still writing.

The other question: Where do you get your ideas? That’s one all writers get, and it may be one of the hardest questions to answer concerning my career because I’m not always sure where my ideas come from. Sometimes they’re simply rattling around in my head, origin unknown. Maybe they come from an article I’ve read, or something I’ve seen on television. I listen to conversations around me (I prefer not MB 2 Blog Febto call it eavesdropping) and hear wonderful tidbits of stories that might expand into a scene or even a full book. I heard one just a few days ago in a restaurant. Then man sitting with his family, behind me, was explaining to them why he wasn’t going to fix spaghetti in 2019. If I wrote comedy, I’d have my plot. It was a funny story that could have been developed. (OK, when he fixes it, then serves it, there’s not enough left for him because his family is grabby and he’s slow to get to the table.) It might have turned into a very sad story, too, like a father not eating so he can afford to put a meal on the table for his family.  Or something thoughtful, possibly memories of his mother’s spaghetti. From one little snippet of conversation came so many possibilities.MB 3 Blog Feb

Another place I find my ideas—the people in my life. I just finished a book New York Doc, Thailand Proposal, which will be out later this year. The inspiration for the story was a dear friend, a doctor who took his practice on the road and practiced out of the back of his Jeep. His parents did the same. They did this on Indian reservations here, in the US, but I set my book in Thailand and used my friend as the inspiration.  Also, in my nursing career, I worked with military doctors and the stories I heard and things I saw… Most of my books are based on someone or something I’ve known, known about, or watched because, in the end, when you look at reality, there’s usually a brilliant, adaptable story attached.MB 4 Blog Feb

Here’s a little poem I read years ago. I believe it sums up quite nicely  the whole process of finding the idea (with maybe a little larceny thrown in).

THE THIEF

by Nance Hill

Beyond your perception, I’m full of deception; 

From you, I will loot, filch and forage,

I’ll approach with a smile, and steal all the while; 

The stash goes in notebooks for storage.

 

I’ll pilfer your grin, or the last place you’ve been,

Or your habit of slapping your knees,

The puns that you sprinkle, your lips as they crinkle;

Whatever I fancy, I’ll seize.

 

Perhaps I’ll abscond with a faux pas you’ve spawned,

Or a client you met on the job,

Your wild-patterned tie, the half-tear in your eye;

With a swipe of the pen, I will rob.

 

Then I’ll gather my plunder and rend it asunder,

Revise ‘til there’s only a hint.

You won’t know what I’ve taken until you’re quite shaken

                                       To see that I fenced it in print.MB 5 Blog Feb

 

OK, so maybe my taste in poetry isn’t sophisticated, but this little poem is oh-so true. If you’re a writer, admit it. Have you done some of that? I freely admit I have. And if you’re not a writer, better look out. We’re always looking for good ideas. You could be that idea!

As always, wishing you health & happiness!

Dianne

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Setting up a challenge by Kate Hardy

Kate HardyThis is the year I’ve set myself a challenge. One that I have a sneaking suspicion might actually be a little bit much for me, but I’m still going to try. Wait for it. Wait for it… I’m going to run the 10km Race for Life (for Cancer Research) in May.

Now, I’m not a runner. Give me a three-hour dance aerobics class or HIIT session, and I’d do it happily. But the idea of having to run for about 75 minutes… Um. That’s hard. I’ve never done that before. When I did the 5k, six years ago, it was half walk, half jog.

But it’s for a really good cause. Someone I love very much is going through chemo at the moment, and although I offered to shave my hair in solidarity she banned me from doing that 🙂 So this was my alternative solution: raising money for cancer research by doing something I am really, really not good at. To be honest, I’m terrified that I’m going to fall flat on my face and hurt myself. Especially as I already have a dodgy knee and a frozen shoulder.

So the next step was seeing a physiotherapist. (Knee fixed and has the green light for my training plan of couch to 5K, then add three minutes to every run after that until I hit 10k. Shoulder is going to take a bit longer.)

It would be lovely to be able to listen to music while I run. (I train at the gym, on the treadmill, when I’d much rather be bouncing about with a step and dumb-bells and a skipping rope.) But I can’t use headphones – without my hearing aids, I’d need my phone on full volume, which would obviously do more damage. I am however going to see the local deaf association’s assistance clinic this week, because they might be able to set me up with a gizmo that works with my phone and streams the music to my hearing aids. That would be immensely cool and I have my fingers crossed.

So. Challenge there. Mountain to conquer. And if anyone would like to sponsor me even 50p (because I know money is tight), or just wish me luck, I’d really appreciate it. My fundraising page is here (opens in a new page) and if anyone has great ideas for good music to run to, I’m all ears!

imageKate’s latest book is Heart Surgeon Prince… HUSBAND!

Luciano Bianchi is a top heart surgeon—but as a future king he’s expected to rule, not operate! To convince his family that saving lives is where his heart lies, he proposes a temporary convenient marriage to his new colleague, workaholic cardiologist Kelly Phillips. Of course there’s no risk of either of them falling in love—until their whirlwind ‘romance’ starts to feel tantalisingly real!

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, The Writing Life

The dark days of December and the art of self-care by Kate Hardy

Kate HardyDecember’s a bit of a tough month for me. I know it’s the one where everyone’s looking forward to Christmas, and it’s all glitter and tinsel and lovely stuff… But it’s also the month where I lost both my parents. My dad’s anniversary is today (where have the last eight years gone?) and my mum’s is just before Christmas. So this is the month where I find it hard to be my usual disgustingly happy, exuberant self. I want to celebrate my lovely memories rather than brood (both my parents would be absolutely furious with me), but there’s this big dark cloud that just seems to hang over me.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles at this time of year. For me it’s about getting through the days between now and Christmas and making myself smile, even when I don’t feel like it. Which means taking care of myself properly (aka cramming every moment so I don’t have to think). My tips for self-care:

  • Move – it stimulates endorphins. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog-walk, dancing yourself silly, hitting the gym, swimming – whatever you enjoy. Just move. You’ll feel better.
  • Get outside – again, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a pretty spot having a coffee, or going for a walk: just get some sunlight. (Ironic, as it’s tipping down with rain here as I write this – but it’s one of the reasons why I go out with the dog just before dawn, so I get the pretty bits of the sky. This is our favourite spot at the beginning/end of the walk, where we catch the early sun reflected in the water. How lucky are we to have this on our doorstep?)
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  • Connect – tell someone you love them. Think about what you appreciate about the people in your life and tell them – in person, by text/email/a daft notecard. Arrange to meet up with a family member or friend for lunch/coffee/theatre.
  • Do something you enjoy – for me, that’s a trip to the theatre or a gig, watching a film, or playing the guitar or piano (not to a high standard, but I don’t do it for other people – I do it for me), or a museum or pottering around old churches. Or, at this time of year, Christmas lights. (This is Somerset House from last weekend – I didn’t go skating, but I’d gone to London to see an exhibition at the British Library and also Antony & Cleopatra with my best friend, and we took a walk round the South Bank after the performance.)
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  • Nourish – make sure you’re eating well. When you’re miserable, it’s tempting to stuff your face with something sugary, but it’s going to make you crash. (And this is why I’ve recently rejoined WeightWatchers – very impressed by their new attitude, and it’s making me rethink my choices so I enjoy what I eat and I don’t have to feel deprived.)
  • Create – if drawing or painting makes you feel happy, do it! (I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, so my ‘create’ is pottering about in the kitchen, creating something nice.)

I think the key here is being as kind to yourself as you are to other people. May December be kind to you – and be kind to yourselves.

imageKate’s latest book, A Diamond in the Snow, is a True Love rather than a Medical – but if you like Christmas decorations and lights, you like stately homes and ballrooms and all things Regency – oh, and dogs, then this has your name on it…

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 🙂

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.