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, Hot Docs!, Travels Around the World

Paper, cotton, leather… china.

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Traditional or modern wedding anniversary gifts? What would you choose?

When my husband and I got married we agreed to take the traditional option for anniversary gifts which tend to be much more low-key than the modern equivalent, for example, I have to wait 60 years for diamonds in the traditional list versus ten if we went the modern route. My husband was confident we’d last the distance and he was right as we’ve just celebrated 20 years of marriage.

To make up for the fact that years 16 to 19 were gift free  I decided we didn’t need china (the traditional gift) but would take a trip instead. We went SCUBA diving on our honeymoon so instead of exchanging gifts we went diving in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. I will admit that the dive sites weren’t the best we’ve seen and apparently the Vietnamese call it the East Sea  but we did have an amazing trip. We had some fantastic experiences, survived the crazy traffic (which despite first impressions seems to work), ate delicious food, shopped, relaxed and met fabulous people. As always it still felt like we’d only scratched the surface and we’d both go back again in a heartbeat.

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The food was sensational, there is a definite French influence (the croissants and cinnamon donuts were delicious), but there is also a distinctive flavour to the food introduced by herbs and spices and the food is incredibly fresh….

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even though it was sometimes best not to think about where it was coming from!

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There were interesting combinations of architecture from modern skyscrapers to ancient temples, the bright colours from the Chinese to the pure symmetry of the French buildings, particularly in Saigon, the Paris of the Orient.

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The scenery was incredible – the juxtaposition of old and new in the cities, traditional farming scenes, the old town of Hoi An and, my favourite, Ha Long Bay.

So, which one are you– a traditionalist or a modernist? I’d love to hear about the best anniversary gift you’ve ever given or received.

Next up, I’m celebrating the release of my Tempted & Tamed trilogy which is the first time my stories about the three Anderson sisters, Scarlett, Ruby and Rose, are being released together. Out in August!

Tempted and Tamed, August 17

And if you enjoyed the most recent blog about  our Hot Single Dads they are now on sale at Google Play. Enjoy!

 

Guest Blogs, Travels Around the World

Persistent courage, under unrelenting fire – by Charlotte Nash

Today, Charlotte Nash makes a very welcome return to ‘Love is the Best Medicine’.  Charlotte will be joining us again next Wednesday, with an excerpt from her new release ‘The Paris Wedding’.

Charlotte Nash - Author

Recently, I drove 3600 km across America in the name of research for my next novel. Before I left, everyone was asking if I was excited, with that hopeful (perhaps vicarious) gleam in their smile that I hated disappointing. Because sure, I was excited, but I held more than a little trepidation, and I didn’t mind saying so. The trip was going to be tight. I had to learn to drive on the other side of the road. In Los Angeles. And I was leaving my little boy at home with no knowing how he would handle the time without me.

I thought it would be a kind of character research, because my protagonist is making the trip against her will, being forced to exhibit a courage under fire she’s never had to find before. And that’s the kind of character we write about, right? Romantic stories are as much about how people negotiate their lives, and survive their circumstances, as they are about relationships. Maybe the surviving circumstances is really the core of it, the protagonists the embodiment of a bigger idea.

This book won’t be out until next year, but I think every character I’ve written is like that. In my current book, The Paris Wedding (out this month), Rachael is having to face the love of her life marrying someone else in Paris. She goes only because she sees she had no choice: it’s that, or be hung up on him and their imagined life forever. She thinks the decision to go is the easy part, the courageous part. Muhahahaha … of course it isn’t.

Same thing with my trip. I wrote a blog in the early days of the trip about the mild culture shock of America. “Mild” belies the effect of it, because it creates a huge background anxiety. Just thinking about driving on the right, of flicking light switches up not down, of paying before pumping gas, of saying pumping “gas” not “fuel”, was enough to make me want to curl up in my cheap hotel room, watch endless TV and not venture out anywhere.

But, then, I was there for a purpose I couldn’t escape. I had one shot at the research. A lot of people thought what I was doing was crazy, but it was really, really important to me. So I had to drag my unwilling self up and to the local diner. And strike up conversations. And ask questions. Man, it was uncomfortable. For at least the first half of the trip, I was constantly self-conscious, sure everyone could tell that I was a stranger in a strange land. And it dawned on me that my characters go through the exact same thing. They, too, have one shot at this situation they’re in. Big consequences if they fail to act. Uncomfortable as hell, in their own version of a culture shock: out of the comfort of what came before. And in the acting, in the persistent pursuit of this once in a lifetime chance, no matter how wrong it seems to be going, they earn the courage they need to get through it. Ergo, persistent courage under unrelenting fire.

On my trip, I began to find I didn’t care about being the American n00b. That people were in general hospitable, generous, proud of where they came from and glad to share it with me. I could tell the moment my attitude changed because I started to meet interesting people in all kinds of places: a group of exuberant schoolteachers in a park in Fort Smith AR, a veteran pilot in a Starbucks in Nashville TN, a TV personality in Katz’s Deli in New York. Things that just seem to happen once I got over feeling I couldn’t do it.

I’m fortunate that my trip did not have the “all is lost”, darkest-hour moment that stories require. It’s not that I couldn’t imagine what that would look like: lost down some Dixie Alley back road with a broken-down car and a tornado roaring through. But there came a point where I was all in: I’d made it this far, and I was sure I could make it through something like that. And I guess that’s where I want my characters to be at the end of the story: with the courage that comes from having survived something big. I was very glad to come home, but I’m not the same as when I left, not quite. Stories should be about things like that. I want to go again.

FINAL COVER_PARIS WEDDING_800x519Charlotte Nash grew up obsessed with horses and good stories, and is now a bestselling author of contemporary romantic novels. She came to writing after an eclectic past in engineering and medicine, and loves writing about brave women in testing circumstances, finding love and themselves. She lives in a cosy Brisbane cottage with her family. The Paris Wedding is her fifth novel, released 27 June 2017. 

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorCharlotteNash/
Twitter: @CharlotteNash79
Website: http://www.charlottenash.net/

Pre-order The Paris Wedding from:-
iBooks,  Kobo,  Google Play (Charlotte Nash Author Page),  Amazon AU,  Booktopia

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

A Cornucopia of rambling thoughts by Fiona Lowe

18339146_1826881800964104_534464569_oI’m taking a mini break cum writing retreat cum visit with my eldest son and escaping to our island state for the week :-) For those of you not familiar with Australian history, the British, who in 1788 were a naval force to be reckoned with, kept skirmishing with France and Spain and they  needed flax for sails and straight, strong trees for masts. Captain Cook had reported both these things grew in abundance on a little island off Australia, they’d named Norfolk.  Of course, they wanted to keep that information on the down low so the Spanish and French didn’t get there first, so they hid their plans behind a secondary problem; what the heck did they do with the ever-expanding prison population? They sent 7 ships, full of convicts to Australia; many of them with 7 year sentences. The moment they had offloaded the contents of a couple of ships, they shot across to Norfolk Island only to discover that the pines were soft wood so useless for masts and the flax wasn’t any good for sails. Damn!

Meanwhile, when you get a group of convicts together, stuff happens, and soon they needed aIMG_2841 second tier goal/jail.  They settled the island of Tasmania and some of the worst treatment of human beings…both of the convicts and the Aborigines…. began. But that’s a  whole other story as is islands and refugees today…. Fast foward 200 odd years and my son was ‘transported’ to Tasmania for 7 years to study medicine at the University of Tasmania. Today, it is a glorious place to live and I doubt we’ll ever get him back to the mainland.

IMG_2880Fellow author, Melanie Milburne lives down in Tasmania and she has a holiday house, or ‘shack’ as the locals call it. If I can stop staring at the view, I might get some writing done on my next medical romance.  At the end of my four days of ‘enforced writing’ I am heading back to Hobart to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my eldest son.  Given that the youngest is in Italy, Tassie was closer 🙂

I am not a big fan of Mother’s Day…a day that can be fraught with heartache and disappointment unless handled right… and the fact I am down in Tassie for the day is more of a coincidence than planning. It was the only weekend I wasn’t doing book signings for Daughter of Mine. So, in this reflective mood,  I offer you my  amassed knowledge of 22 years of motherhood and say, ‘if you want a happy day next Sunday, stage manage it so 18238928_10155268263202090_1775623558389478762_oyou get what you deserve.’   I was signing books at a department store on Saturday and as I handed over books to kids, I said, ‘Now you know that you’re not only giving Mum the book, you have to give her the time to read it.’ I got a few confused looks 😉

So, start thinking and planning now… you have a few days… and let me know what you are doing so you ensure a part of your day is for YOU. 🙂

31011Talking books.Daughter of Mine is available for all the Aussie and New Zealanders. Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon, book 2 in the Paddington Children’s Hospital series is out now. I hope you enjoy Claire and Alistair’s story as they finally work out the important things in life.  I also have a backlist of 22 medical romances, ripe for reading:-) For the full list click HERE. They are all available digitally. Happy Reading!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, 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

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

Fall

So coming up next week the DH and I are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. You can say it was love at first sight, because it really was. We met New Years 1999, when it was  turning into 2000. We didn’t start really dating until spring 2001 and we were engaged in August 2001.

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Me and my DH, his sisters and grandmother.

October 2002 on Canadian Thanksgiving (because I love turkey) we were married.

My DH proposed to me at one of my most favourite places in the world. North Bay, Ontario. I know that doesn’t seem glamorous, but I spent many happy summers and falls in North Bay, Ontario. My father’s family is from the north and I love the north.

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The beach at Sunset Inn North Bay, Ontario. Where the DH proposed. The lake is Lake Nipissing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, 14 years later we’re going back to the north, not quite North Bay though. We’re going to Algonquin Park.

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The famous Fall colours of Algonquin.

In all my travels to the north I’ve never actually been to Algonquin Park, which is sort of a travesty. My paternal grandfather (who was quite venerable when my father was born so I never knew him) worked in the park in 1917, building railroads and knew famous Group of Seven artist Tom Thomson and remembers distinctly when the artist was murdered, though this disputed I believe.

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My paternal grandfather. He was born in April 1885 and helped build the rail way to northern Ontario, including the Polar Bear Express.

My father said his father always stated that Tom was murdered. My grandfather was friends with him.

Algonquin is also famous for the fall colours. I’ve always wanted to see them. So, this year my DH said “Let’s go!” And booked us in at a resort only for couples outside the east gate of the park.

I’m SO excited, but slightly nervous as this is Moose rutting season and they like to hang out on the roads.

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You don’t want to mess with these guys!

I’m also nervous because I’m going to be totally unplugged and I’m right in the throes of a deadline for my fifteenth book. So right now I’m trying to get in as many words as I can so I can enjoy my three days away from everything (which is why I was late posting here today).

To all my Canadian friends HAPPY THANKSGIVING! And to everyone else, what’s your favourite part of Autumn?

You can find out more about Amy here. Or Tweet her @ruttanamy.

 

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

Bucket list stuff by Kate Hardy

As you might have gathered from previous posts, this is my Year of Having Fun, and last week I ticked quite a few things off my bucket list.

Ever since I was really small and first read Nordic mythology, I’ve wanted to visit Iceland. Last week, I finally made it to Reykjavic.

And it was AMAZING.

The midnight sun means just that. Look at this sunset!

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This was getting on for 11pm – but it didn’t actually get dark. I woke at 1am and it was still light. And at 3am. And I saw the sun rise at 5am.

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We went to the Thingvellir National Park and saw the tectonic plates splitting.

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We saw amazing waterfalls with rainbows. (This is Gullfoss.)

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We visited the Geyir area and saw a geyser erupting (it’s really interesting because you can see the water boiling at the bottom and the cooler water at the top making a ‘lid’, and then you can see the pressure get too much and it blows).

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We saw humpback whales breaching in the wild (that was so incredible – really humbling).

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We saw black sandy beaches. (This is the Dyrholaey promontory.)

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We got up close to a glacier. (Solheimajokull.)

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And we walked behind a waterfall at Seljalandsfoss.

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It was an incredible few days, and the best thing of all was sharing it with the people I love most in the world.

And, to top it all, today marks the release of my 70th M&B (it’s a Cherish/Romance rather than a Medical, but I hope you won’t mind me sharing here) and it’s my 24th wedding anniversary!

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So have you visited anywhere that took your breath away?