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, New Releases, Reading, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World

A WRITER’S IMPACT ~ by Dianne Drake

typewriter (2)

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.

Nigeria

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, 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.

chrisandme
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.

sunsetbeach
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.

algonquin-fall
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.

mygrandpa
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.

algonquinmoose2
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!

iceland day 2 073 RK sunset

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.

iceland day 2 000 sunrise

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

iceland day 2 013 gct thingvellir

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

iceland day 2 025 gct gullfoss

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).

iceland day 2 46a geysir

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

iceland day 3 026 RK whales

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

iceland day 4 035 sit Dyrhólaey

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

iceland day 4 045 sit Solheimjokull

And we walked behind a waterfall at Seljalandsfoss.

iceland day 4 053 sit Seljalandsfos

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!

FFTSM

So have you visited anywhere that took your breath away?

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

Bucket Lists

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Just recently on Facebook, there have been a whole sheaf of bucket lists appearing where you either tick or place a heart next to the things that you have done. To me, these mass bucket lists are bit weird. Some of them have things like, see a dead body; watch someone die; fired a gun.

???

Odd, really. None of those should be on a bucket list! These lists are about aspirational things, surely?

I have a few things on my bucket list.

  1. Visit Canada.
  2. Visit New Zealand.
  3. Visit Australia.
  4. Go on safari in Africa.
  5. Swim with wild dolphins.
  6. Write a bestseller! (of course! lol)
  7. Be a passenger in an off road rally car.

But there’s one place I really want to go. A place I want to wander around for weeks, just absorbing the atmosphere and soaking up the nature and that place, is Yellowstone Park.

If ever there is a documentary about this place, then I watch it. If I come across someone else’s account of being there, I read it. Avidly. I stare at pictures on Pinterest, I dream, I wish, I wonder…

And so I decided to set a book there. Seven Nights With Her Ex. I figured that if I was going to write a book there, then I ought to go there (at least) and research it properly. I told my husband, who was thrilled at the idea and then we mentioned it to the kids.

Big mistake! My eldest son suffers from really bad anxiety, panic attacks and OCD and part of his OCD and anxiety are the thoughts that something really bad will happen to us. So when we mentioned we were thinking of planning a research trip to a majestical spot that just so happens to have a giant super volcano underneath it (that’s apparently due to go off at any moment, but its late, like a woman with a dodgy menstrual cycle) he told us, in no uncertain terms that we were not allowed to go!

So, I had to make do with my trusty, well-thumbed, Lonely Planet guide to Yellowstone and Teton parks. Oh, and my Pinterest board!

Sigh.

Seven Nights With Her Ex will be out September 1st, here are the pre-order/book buy links below. And do tell me what’s on your Bucket List!

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

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

Home Again… by Carol Marinelli

“Youth,” he replied, “is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”

George Bernard Shaw

I have two homes, and so I hope you’ll understand when I say that I have just got back home to Australia after visiting home in England 🙂 Actually, I have three homes because I spent many holidays and most of my childhood summers in Scotland.

When it comes to writing I feel very lucky as I have several backdrops that I can readily tap into, though, I admit, even after more than two decades in Australia, the UK comes as a more natural setting for me.

On this visit home, I headed to Scotland to visit some of the places that used to be my playgrounds growing up.

I didn’t have much time so I decided to do a tour (www.discoverdunfermline.com) and cram in as much as I could, and I certainly achieved that! I’ve attached a few photos so you can see just how much my writing well has been filled!

Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Dunfermline Abbey
Dunfermline Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As children, we used to go to pantomimes at Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie. I love Dunfermline Abbey but never fully appreciated it’s rich history, and so it was wonderful to be properly shown around. We drove to Culross where Outlander was filmed, and it brought it to life for me.

Culross Market Square
Culross Market Square
Culross
Culross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was on to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Currently, I am writing a medical continuity, and my hero is from there, so it was lovely to reacquaint myself with such a magical place and to see where Dominic (my hero) grew up! It was a very misty day so the castle doesn’t show up in these photos but occasionally I got a glimpse, and you could always feel it’s magnificent presence.

Anyway, I am home from home now 🙂 My well is truly filled and I cannot wait to get back to my writing which I hope is all the better for such a wonderful trip down memory lane.

I hope you enjoy some of my photos, and I shall let you know when Dominic’s book comes out!

Happy reading

Carol xxx