New Releases, Reading, Women's Business

New Books Just for You!

HI, Everyone,

You may have noticed that my last medical romance came out in 2019 and there hasn’t been once since. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. In fact, since 2016, I’ve written four best-selling, Australia set, meaty women’s fiction novels about family and community, featuring many of medical romances favourite themes. Across those four books I’ve featured a female surgeon, a GP and a community health nurse along with women across the generations.

I love these books because at their heart they are stories about women and relationships, just like MedRoms but I’ve been able to tell more than one person’s story in each book.

So why have only Australian and New Zealanders heard about these books? There is a complicated thing in publishing called ‘territorial rights.’ The good news is, these books are now being published for readers outside of AUS/NZ in print and eBook so YAY!!! Do the covers entice you?  (Available in audio too with the AUS covers).

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I am excited to present to you:

  • Daughter of Mine : One family and a tangled web of secrets and lies. OUT NOW 
  • Birthright: an inheritance and a family behaving very badly     OUT July 27th 2020

and then to follow

  • Home Fires : one wildfire, three scorched marriages and an inflammatory secret that rocks a town.   OUT September 14th 2020
  • Just an Ordinary Family : Friendship, lies and betrayal. Out October 12th  2020  

As Daughter of Mine is out, I’ll chat about it today 🙂

Talking BooksDaugher of Mine was the first one I wrote and its story came from me visiting an historic mansion about 100km from where I live ,in an area that was once incredibly wealthy from wool. I found myself walking the halls saying, ‘what stories would these walls tell if they could talk.’

The blurb says,

What can you believe in if the past is a lie? 

Harriett Chirnwell has a perfect life—a husband who loves her, a successful career and a daughter who is destined to become a doctor just like her.

Xara has always lived in Harriet’s shadow; her chaotic life with her family on their sheep farm falls far short of her older sister’s standards of perfection and prestige.

Georgie is the youngest and the only one of the three sisters to have left small-town Billawarre. But is she happy?

All three sisters have a different and often strained bond with their mother. When Edwina arrives at her milestone birthday party on the arm of someone new, the lives of the sisters are changed forever. Who is this man?

Suddenly there are criminal accusations, daughters in crisis and tangled secrets. Will old secrets shatter the perfect facade of this prominent family? When your world falls apart the only person you can depend on is your sister.

Lowe wields a deft hand creating utterly addictive storytelling that will have you questioning your own perceptions of what family is. 

Does that tweek your interest? If so you can read a sample here, you can look at photos of the district that inspired the novel hereand you can buy it at

For information about all four books have a play on my website at fionalowe.com

Thanks for reading and I do hope you take a punt on these best-selling Australian novels and enjoy spending some time down under . Fiona xx

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Reading, The Writing Life, Women's Business

What Makes A Strong Woman Strong?

Hello, again!

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 So, I’ve been thinking about what my blog should be today, and I kept coming back to an autumn theme. Joel and I have been doing a lot of autumn things lately – picking apples, buying pumpkins, photographing the turning leaves. Next week we’re going to take a fall foliage train excursion and we’re also going to an out-of-state park where 1100 carved jack-o-lanterns will be on display in the evening. So, autumn did seem like the logical choice for today. Then I looked at the date this blog was assigned – October 14 – my grandmother’s birthday, 127 years after the day she was born. And the topic of strong women came to mine. Priscilla Dosler Copp White was a strong woman, and probably the most influential woman in my life.

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She was a little German lady, born of German-English heritage. Raised in a tiny Pennsylvania Dutch community, she didn’t have much opportunity to become educated. Her schooling ended with 3rd grade, around age 8. She hadn’t learned math yet, but she taught herself in later years. And she hadn’t learned to write either, but again, she taught herself. She also taught herself to spell and to read because she valued education. Which is why, in later years, she took in laundry, scrubbed other people’s floors, did sewing—anything to save money to put each of her five children through college at a time this country’s economy had crashed.

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Nana, as I called her, married young. She was 17, but that was expected of young girls in 1906. Marry young, have children, cook, clean—that was pretty much their lot in life back then. Nana did all that. Plus, she was a mid-wife. No, she didn’t have any formal training, but all the pregnant ladies in her tiny town turned to her to help them through pregnancy and childbirth. Or when they had the flu. Or needed stitches. Even when I was a kid and someone in our neighborhood had a medical crisis, they came to Nana.

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On Sundays, Nana played the piano at the local Lutheran church. She also made all the choir robes and laundered them, directed the choir, arranged flowers for the altar, swept the floors, made sure the hymnals were in proper repair, fixed Sunday dinner for the pastor and his family, and called on people in her congregation who were ill. Every day of the week, she fed the “hobos” as she called them, telling me that her fence post was marked so anyone who needed a meal knew to stop by her house. She always had a pot of beans on cooking for down-and-out strangers who needed to eat. And she fixed daily meals for a number of shut-ins in her neighborhood. Sometimes she cooked for as many as five different families, as well as her own. She lived with us when I was growing up, and put the best German meals on the table you could ever want. In fact, she was still cooking right up until her death. Feeding her family was one of the great joys of her life.

Nana sewed, too. Beautifully. I was the best-dressed kid anywhere. But she didn’t just sew for me. She sewed for what she called “the poor people.” If she needed two yards of fabric for a dress, she’d buy four, make two dresses, and donate one. She darned socks because one hole didn’t mean it should be thrown away. Made curtains, bedspreads and tablecloths because the prices you paid for them in the stores were disgraceful. She re-upholstered furniture because why throw out a perfectly good chair when it wore out when you could just put new fabric on it? And she turned any and everything into lamps, or storage containers, or tables. The little table sitting next to my office chair was part of a kitchen set we had when I was a kid. She cut off the back, upholstered it and added ball fringe (her trademark). It’s been a functional piece of furniture in my life more years than I’ll admit.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 And, a spotless house—oh, my gosh, was she a housekeeper! I remember when I first left home, I wasn’t so tidy about my own apartment. But Nana would walk to my apartment several times a week (she never learned to drive) just to clean for me, do my laundry, stock my fridge, and do all the things she’d done for me my entire life. This was quite a chore for someone in her 80s, but that was Nana. Always busy. Always taking care of the people she loved. It was her love, not just for her family but for everyone she knew, that made her so strong, I believe.

Nana never held a regular job. She was a happily-married homemaker for 53 years, and after my grandfather died, she moved in with my family to take care of us. Quite honestly, I don’t remember a time in my young life when Nana wasn’t there. Of course, there were those big, explosive times when she was there too much—as in, she was one heck of a disciplinarian. Nana didn’t speak German around the house, even though she was raised in a German-speaking home herself. But when I got in trouble and heard the words – Gott im Himmel! – coming from her, it was time to run. I was in deep, deep trouble and there’s nothing scarier than a 93 pound, feisty German woman who is on the warpath.

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Reminiscing aside, Nana had one accomplishment in her life, other than her family, she was most proud of. My tiny little grandmother was a suffragette. She started her march for women’s right to vote in 1915, and kept on marching until 1919, when women in the United States were given that right. Her first ballot was cast in 1920, and she never missed voting in an election after that. She told me she’d worked too hard, for too long, to be considered equal, to throw it all away. To me, that made her more than my grandmother. It made her my hero. I think it made her a hero to women in general, too, because women like her made it possible for women like us to be us—women who are able to choose our destinies, whether it be staying at home to take care of our families, writing books, heading up international corporations or running for political office.

So today, on Nana’s birthday, I think about who I am, and about who so many other women are because of people like my grandmother. She had her place in this world. It was in her home, taking care of other people. Maybe that’s why I became a nurse. It was in her church, playing the piano. Maybe that’s why I became a musician. It was in teaching herself, by the light of an oil lamp, how to read and write. Maybe that’s why I became a writer. It was in marching for something she believed in. Maybe that’s why I became an advocate for equality.

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Happy Birthday, Nana!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World, Women's Business

A Waft of Scent, Dark and Dangerous

The title of this blog is a straight pinch from an as-yet-unpublished manuscript of mine, but it sums up my attitude to perfume. I absolutely love it, in case you’re in any doubt.

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Some of my Murano glass perfume bottles

I’m thinking about perfume at the moment for various reasons.

That as-yet-unpublished manuscript is the first reason – because the heroine has a huge store of perfumes she matches to her mood (which of course intrigues the hero).

The second reason is that it’s that time of year when romance writers start thinking about attending conferences. After a year of isolation, we catch up face-to-face with our colleagues, meet with and/or pitch stories to editors and agents, and listen to a range of experts on a fascinating array of subjects covering the craft or writing, the business of publishing, marketing and promotion, and trends in romance, and we eat and drink and party.

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My most exotic bottles where I keep my oils from Egypt and India

There’s only one thing we don’t do – and that’s wear perfume.

That’s because the thing that sets romance conferences apart from other conferences is that the very vast majority of attendees are women, and if all of those hundreds of women (or thousands, depending on which conference you’re attending) decided to wear a spritz of their favourite scent (as so many women are wont to do), all those little spritzes would become one big cloud of warring smells. That spells ‘migraine’ – even for those who tolerate strong aromas. And for those with an allergy? Unbearable.

Much as I adore perfume, I understand that. The scents I bought while living in the Middle East, for example, may make me feel like an exotic Arabian phenomenon just walking down the street, but they’re so heavy on the oud, they can twitch a nostril from a mile away. I’m afraid this makes them the problem children of my collection, so they’re not allowed out on the prowl all that often.

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The top of one of my favourite perfumes – Niki de St Phalle

Which brings me to my third reason for this blog.

Perfumes are always on the prowl in my books. I almost always give my heroines a signature scent. My heroes too, even if it’s soap! So I finally decided to give my passion its ultimate outlet and made my next heroine (currently underway) a perfumer. Boy, has that involved some fun research. And just so you know, the hero’s scent in this one is Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef & Arpels, because the first time I sniffed it on a guy, I almost melted into a puddle. Although of course, there’s something under it that’s going to drive my heroine crazy as she tries to isolate it in her lab.

I suspect she’s going to have trouble with that, because it’s all about pheromones! Something Evie Parker in Wanting Mr Wrong could tell her all about!

Meanwhile, here’s a little perfume making video I found on YouTube for anyone else who shares my perfume addiction.

I’d love to hear what perfumes you love…or hate!

Wanting Mr Wrong hi res coverEvie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees.

Hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her.

Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.

Please come and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

A Day of Mixed Emotions

Here Downmothers-day-reminder-from-mom-funny-ecard-hofUnder, it’s Monday and we celebrated Mothers’ Day yesterday. My UK mates did it back in March but my USA and Canadian friends are celebrating as I type.

Mothers’ Day is  one of those days, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, where we can load a day with far too many expectations and come out feeling let down. Or we can be beset by a multitude of emotions if our mother who, for whatever reason, is no longer in our life.

Me? I come from pragmatic stock. Granted, I am fortunate to still have a loving mother in my life but Mothers’ Day has never been a huge event in our family. I send a card, buy a gift that costs less than $25 and on the years when the planets align, spend the a day with her on or around the date. But as I chat with her 3x a week anyway, it’s not that hugely different.

It took me 7 years to conceive my first child and during those seven years, the advertising 6 months parkdale 001photos in the run up to Mothers’Day got to me now and then and I confess to being rather excited about my first MD. We’d recently moved to Wisconsin, and my husband minded the baby while I took myself off to see an Australian film, Muriel’s Wedding. We’d only been in the country 6 weeks, not nearly long enough to become used to all the differences, and after 2 hours of being surrounded by Australian accents in the movie, I came out onto the street totally discombobulated, thinking I was home in Australia.  I nearly got run over as the traffic drove on the right hand side and I had forgotten.

There have been 20 more Mothers’ Days since and I learned early on after one disastrous day,  that if I wanted to have an enjoyable day doing something I wanted to do, then I needed to stage manage it. If the weather is sunny, we picnic or bike ride. If it’s wet, we go to a movie. I don’t cook and I don’t clean and I read in bed for an hour in the morning.

DSCF5451For the last few years, however, my MD has been hijacked in a quite delightful way by my sons’ school. Both boys have done Jazz Studies in their last two years of school. On Mother’s Day there is a lunch …this year it was high tea…and the jazz bands perform. The students are required so by default, the mothers are required unless they don’t want to see their kid perform and WHOA the mother guilt on that one 😉

Yesterday was my fourth and final Mothers’Day jazz concert, unless of course I just decide IMG_20151115_150242to go … the music is always fantastic. The Lad, now almost 22,  remembered without prompting to post a card so it arrived from Tasmania on time so I am taking that for the win! Boy Wonder heated me up a croissant, although I did have to put the jam on myself 😉  All in all it was a very plesant day and I’m seeing my mother on Thursday.

So, if you’re reading this and feeling let down by your family, remember my tip- next year, set things up so you get to do what you want. This may be a walk along the beach on your own, it might be a warm bath in peace with a good book but whatever it is, make sure you do it because you feel so much better than stewing in a sea of disappointment. My husband and sons love me even if they are not great on getting organised  for MD.  I know that love by the  things they do on the other 364 days of the year. I focus on that.

How did you spend the day?

Writing News!

I’m THRILLED to annouce I have sold a multigenerational women’s fiction to Harlequin Mira (Aus/NZ).  Set very close to where I live in southern Victoria,  Daughter of Mine will be out in March 2017 🙂

I’m currently writing a medical romance, which will be part of a new series in 2017. Set in London, I have having so much fun being virtual tourist as I write.

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As you know, all 28 of my published novels are available as eBooks and many in print. For a full printable list, head on over to my website.

Happy reading!

Fiona x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

SEA CHANGE by guest author Fiona McArthur

Waving madly from Oz to old friends and new. It’s lovely to be invited back by Amy Andrews to visit with the medical romance readers and authors, and thanks so much to Annie Claydon for posting this blog. So many wonderful books have been published by the authors since I was here last and huge congratulations for awards won and nominated.

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I’ve been on a sea change, reading lots of fabulous books – more than I’ve read in years – and writing over at Penguin Australia. The writing themes are similar to my romance books, which means my next medical romance for Harlequin doesn’t come out until next year – but more on that later.

My big Penguin books have doctors and midwives and babies and men who discover just how amazing women can be, though in much longer format, with outback Australian settings. Sound familiar?

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RED SAND SUNRISE, has three sisters setting up a midwifery service in central Queensland, and in THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS we meet 5 women aged from 16 to 80 who formed their own family on a drought stricken sheep station in far western New South Wales. I’ve been thrilled with the sales and feedback because I’ve loved writing these books with their different criteria.

But the sea change doesn’t stop there. My latest writing adventure with Penguin, AUSSIE MIDWIVES, is a non-fiction anthology of TRUE stories collated from the midwives themselves. What fabulous fun that’s been. It was so exciting to be asked to make this book happen.

A lot of the real midwives who appear in the book are those I’ve met through weekends all over Australia where we all get down and practice to improve and make maternity a safer place for women and babies. After more than 25 of those weekends you get to admire people and boy do I admire these women. I loved helping them share their amazing lives.

Aussie MidwivesWhere I work as a midwife it’s rural, quiet, and deals mostly with low risk women and babies – with the occasional high drama. So it’s exciting that on the cover of AUSSIE MIDWIVES is Broni, one of our gorgeous graduate midwives and inside is Michael, the only male midwife in the book, from my hospital. Even the newborn baby whom Broni is holding on the cover, Theo, is the son of one of our theatre nurses, and the photographer who took the cover shot is from our small country town getting her work out there all over the world.

But to entice you to look inside the cover let me tell you a little of the content –I flew up to Thursday Island to interview one of the midwives who works on an island just 2km from Papua New Guinea right up on the tip of Queensland in Torres Strait. While the ladies from Annie’s island mostly make it to Thursday Island to have their babies, the village women from Papua don’t hesitate to jump in a dingy if they feel frightened and worry they will need Annie’s help when their time comes. She never knows who is going to arrive and does an incredible job. I think you’ll love her story.

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Then there’s Kate, who meets mums and babies who have to fight for their happy ending, and Glenda who travels more than a thousand kilometers a week to visit pregnant women in Aboriginal communities. And there are fifteen more. To combine my love of writing and being able to meet and share stories with 18 women and one man in AUSSIE MIDWIVES was an absolute privilege and I believe it gives the reader a fascinating window into a world you don’t normally see. So I do hope you’ll have a browse. Find all the books at FionaMcArthurAuthor.com, Amazon and Book Depository.

But… tada…right now I’m excitedly working on my next medical romance for London office set in a small town on the eastern coastline of Australia. My hot shot doc is not used to the quiet or being bowled over by the very independent midwife who runs the tiny hospital. This book keeps me smiling as I listen to them fight the attraction with the crash of the waves in the background. I’m cheering them on.

But I’m reading too and want to hear what others are enjoying. I’ve read dozens of medical romances, loved the Jojo Moyes books, wow, and the new Meg and Tom Keneally series – first book, The Soldiers Curse, and have finished the Kate Daniels series from Iona Andrews and desperately waiting for more. And the The Little Paris Bookshop. Loving them all. So now, until next time I drop in, can I ask what you’re reading this week because I have my finger poised over my kindle search page?

Warmest wishes for a great week

Xx Fi     (Fiona McArthur)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Travels Around the World, Women's Business

Summer in Australia & a new release by Fiona Lowe

IMG_0749It’s the first week of January and we’re in the middle of the summer holidays/vacation 🙂

Next week, I’m off camping at the beach for two weeks of doing nothing more than reading, sleeping, surfing, sailing, canoeing and bike riding. Bliss!  I love this easy time when I get to recharge for the new school year and routine.  The biggest decision is what’s for dinner?

Mind you, I do get a bit grumpy P1020497now and then about the ice and the Esky (cooler). It seems I am the only one who can pack it so things don’t float in the melting ice. Thank goodness for Tupperware!

Do you have a holiday/vacation planned somewhere this January? Are you escaping the cold? If not, tell me where you’d like to go if you could. I love learning about new holiday/vacation destinations!

plusThis January I also have two books out. A Daddy for Baby Zoe? is a Harlequin medical romance. It’s set in summer on a coastal island so perfect reading for those of you enjoying summer and those of you dreaming about it from a frosty winter 🙂

I have longed to write this book for many years after reading a news item. that sparked an idea. The situation was so traumatic that I wondered how the woman would cope. But like so many women, there is a inner strength that surfaces when it needs too and I enjoyed writing Meredith’s story,  giving her hope during a very dark time.

Meredith and Raf are both dealing with loss, families who interfere with the best of, but misguided, intentions and lives that are far removed from the way they’d envisaged. It’s a book about taking chances and not letting the past rule your future. Books & Spoons  say,

A story full of life, the good, the bad, and the unbearable. It pulls you into the web of  sorrow, and brings you out, filled with the joy of new possibilities, new life, and a large family of the heart.
~ Four Spoons and a teaspoon on the side

The blurb says, Weeks away from giving birth, Dr. Meredith Dennison finds herself with no husband and few funds. Retreating to Shearwater Island, she just wants to hide from the world…until she meets her gorgeous, caring neighbor, multimillionaire Raf Camilleri. Meredith is the last woman Raf should fall for. He’s no more ready for her and newborn baby Zoe than Meredith is for him! But they so need his support, and their tender pull makes it impossible for Raf to stay away…

If that grabs your interest, please read an excerpt here. See photos that IMG_1049inspired the story of the setting here and for all the buy links, click here.

It’s available as an eBook at your favourite eBook store as well as in print where Harlequin books are sold. I hope you enjoy this uplifting read.photos that inspired the story of the setting here and for all the buy links, click here. It’s available as an eBook at your favourite eBook store as well as in print where Harlequin books are sold. I hope you enjoy this uplifting read.

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Down Dustykelly

For something completely different, I have written a sexy outback short story as part of the Secret Confessions Down & Dusty series published by Escape Publishing. Set in outback Queensland, my story is titled KELLY and is the third in the series. It features a marriage struggling under the enslaught of the drought. Read an excerpt here.

There are nine stand alone short stories in the series and all are set in the same town. The first one, Casey by Rachael Johns is released on January 3rd, followed by Lucky by Cate Ellink on January 10th and mine, Kelly on January 17th. Retailing at $1.20, it’s a quick, fun read. All are up for preorder now.

Of course, all my other 27 novels are still available as eBooks. For a printable copy of my complete backlist, click here.

Wishing you a pleasant January that gives you plenty of time for reading.

Fiona x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

Women; Old Friends, Young Hearts

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I was given this tea-towel last week when I caught up with a ‘girl’  I met way back in Year 7/Seventh Grade. We went through high school together, then we studied nursing together and later midwifery. We had our ups and downs like all friendships do when you grow up and want different things at different times, we’ve lived in different countries and we now live in different towns, but here we are *cough* years later and we still catch up once or twice a year.

I still have the crazy letters we wrote each other each summer when I was down at the beach for 6 weeks and she was back in town. She would come for a week, which was fun but always a bit fraught as she had olive skin, tanned and loved the heat and I had red hair, white skin and would burn. I spent a lot of time wrapped up in towels 😉

Have we been silly together? Yes. There is something about a long shared history that makes that very easy. And you always have those adolescent memories of being boy crazy and the disasters that befell you as you tried to get the attention of one of the many school boys on the train.  Not to mention the summer, outdoor cinema. We shared our very first and my last cigarette, and that was pretty funny as we spluttered and coughed and then spent ten minutes blowing tic tac breath at each other to make sure our breath didn’t smell of cigarettes. Never occured to us that our clothes would have reeked…. !

Good friends in romance novels are a popular thing and I think it’s because women can relate to that closeness and the sharing. Do you like to read books about female friendships? If you do, please share the titles you’ve enjoyed.  Do you have a friendship that dates back a long way?

Book News:  My next Harlequin medical romance, A Daddy for Baby Zoe? will be out on January 1st. It’s is up for preorder at Amazon UK. Other sites will follow soon, I hope, as well as a cover.

Fiona Lowe ARRA adMy Medicine River series, of Montana Actually and Truly Madly Montana, where neither of my heriones have a best friend (;-) ), is out in ebook and print. If you love sexy doctors, hunky cowboys and teh stunning mountain scenary of Montana, then you might like to check them out.

New to my books or have missed some? I have a backlist of 26 novels and the complete list is here. All my medical romances are now available as eBooks including the very popular, Fiona Lowe’s Weddings.

Happy reading! Fiona x

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life, Women's Business

Squeaky Gears & Well-Oiled Machines

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OK, I took the plunge.  My health insurance (which was a government program) terminated me 3 months prior to the new “affordable” health care system coming into place.  No explanation for being fired.  They took my money though, even though I was officially kicked out in September.  Although I could say that’s the government for you and leave it at that.  But I happen to know that other countries have a better way of running their health care systems.  Maybe we should follow one of the better examples.

Of course, I’m going through the same thing with a new publisher.  2013 was the year when a whole bunch of new publishers came to me and asked me to work for them.  I picked a few never ever intending on giving up Harlequin, but because it was nice to be wanted.  The thing is, I’ve been with Harlequin a long, long time now and I like the way they operate.  They are literally the well-oiled machine in an industry with gears that can get awfully squeaky. As it turns out, one of my new publishers has a very squeaky gear.  So much so I’m buying hair dye like it’s going out of style.  Oh, I’ll get through and at the end of the process be glad with what I turned out.  But the squeaky gear gives me a new and better appreciation for Harlequin and the way it has managed its authors for so many years.  It’s got to be doing something right and I am so glad to be part of it.

As for the healthcare insurance situation, it is definitely a squeaky gear that I hope will fine tune over time.  If it doesn’t, I don’t really have and answer for what will happen.  All I can say is that, perhaps it’s time the government looks at a successful business model like Harlequin and get it figured out.  After all, if you put hundreds of “romance” heads together, the outcome is bound to be good.  Maybe even great!

Until next time, wishing you health, happiness and well-oiled machines!

DD

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

A Stitch in Time

AllyPally1Earlier this month I took a trip to Alexandra Palace (affectionately known to most Londoners as Ally Pally). Situated on high ground in North London, Ally Pally is also called ‘The People’s Palace’ because it was one of the grand Victorian constructions which was intended as a recreational centre for the people of London.

Ally Pally was destroyed by fire just sixteen days after its opening, in 1873.  Astonishingly, it was rebuilt within only two years, AllyPally3and in 1935 the eastern part of the building was leased by the BBC, and became the centre for the first public TV transmissions in 1936.  The building was again gutted by fire in 1980, but once more it was restored, and it’s now a venue for exhibitions, music and sports events.  Set in 7 acres of parkland, it’s also a great place for walking and enjoying the spectacular views.  My picture doesn’t do them justice, but from here you can see the Millenium Dome, Docklands, and The Shard, along with most of North, West and central London.

But I wasn’t there to take in the scenery.  Every October, Ally Pally is host to The Knitting and Stitching show and the enormous Great Hall, and several other smaller halls are full of colour.  Wool, fabric, buttons, beads, needles, embroidery silks, thread… you name it, it’s there.  There are also workshops and galleries of artists’ work.  And from the number of people who were flooding into the exhibition areas, the gentle art of sewing is still very popular!

For me, sewing’s always been an odd mix of practicality and sentiment.  As a child, I loved sorting through my mother’s sewing box, and better still, her button box.  I was taught how to knit, crochet and embroider and I started to collect the tools I needed.  Threads, hooks, needles, scissors, odd buttons and pieces of fabric and ribbon, a thimble and a tape measure.  They’re still in my sewing box today, along with new treasures that I’ve added over the years.  And there are some other trinkets which aren’t anything to do with sewing, but somehow don’t seem to belong anywhere else – an old penny, a farthing, a hat pin which belonged to my grandmother and my Girl Guide and Cycling Proficiency badges.

And although I neither knit or sew as much as I used to, I do still find it relaxing.  Perhaps because you can’t hope to finish most projects in an evening or two, and so it’s a matter of doing something for the sake of it – for the journey and not the result.  Perhaps because it’s got a kind of continuity about it – it’s something I’ve always done, and often shared with friends and family.  Or perhaps it’s because the fabrics, yarns and threads, along with the tools to work them, are just so pretty.

Whatever the reason, the contents of my sewing box always make me smile.  Do you feel the same?  Or do pins, needles and pieces of unravelled thread drive you crazy!

Annie x

coverP.S.  And talking of pretty things – here’s my new cover!  ‘Once Upon a Christmas Night…’ is available in November/December.

Women's Business

Holding out for a hero? Or a heroine?

The Abbey at Royaumont

The above photo is Royaumont Abbey- temporary home to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals during the first world war.

I’m hoping that Amy Andrews will forgive me for using part of the fab title of one of her wonderful books for the title of my blog.

I know we all love a hero- but what about our fictional heroines? Do we want them to be like us? Or do we want to recognise that our heroines can be as brave, if not braver, than our heros. My current release The Wife He never Forgot, was inspired after I watched a documentary set in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. It showed footage of a nurse, I forget whether she was NHS or full time military, in the back of a Chinook as it flew in, under fire, to rescue an injured soldier. I couldn’t get over her bravery. I would have been terrified. My book therefore is as much of a tribute to the women who work close or at the front lines, taking an equal share of the risks, and yet not flinching. I honestly take my hat off to you.

Perhaps it is partly this fascination with female heroines that led me to write my first historical When the Dawn Breaks published by Sphere and written under the name Emma Fraser. When I read about the women who, as soon the first world war started, upped sticks and left for France and Serbia to work in female only units close to the front lines. As I describe in my book, they had to flee from the enemy over mountainous terrain in the middle of winter. Some stayed behind with their patients and were arrested. All of them had to endure at some time during their time with the SWH terrible hardship and difficult conditions while caring for young men with the most appalling injuries.

And perhaps it is the same fascination with female heroines (particularly medical ones) that led me to my second historical We Shall Remember also published by Sphere and under the name Emma Fraser.(To be published sometime next year) In this book I have a Polish medical student who while her country is occupied risks her life in many ways to save the lives of others. While also a work of fiction much of my heroine’s story is based on real life events, including a brilliant, but little known, idea two Polish doctors devised that saved thousands of lives.

Enough about my heroines. What about yours? Do you like the female characters in the books you read to be exeptional (or as I would say in my heroines’ cases ordinary women thrust into extra-ordinary circumstances) or women like ourselves- jogging along with our brief but bright moments of heroism?

I’d love to know what you think.

Anne x