Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life

A Family’s Legacy

Mt NeboI’ve had a hard time this month deciding the topic of my blog. First, because it’s autumn where I live, I thought something about the season might be in order. You know, insert a pumpkin recipe or how to make cinnamon applesauce. Maybe something about a trip to the apple orchard. This is my favorite time of the year and blogging about it would be a natural for me. But, I’ve blogged IMAG0410autumn in the past, so I bypassed that topic. Then, I thought about word choices…why we use the often-odd configuration of words we do. For example, I saw a sign offering horseback riding lessons. At first, it seemed innocent enough. But then my mind started whirling with things like why call it horseback riding? Seriously, does anybody 20170812_151024_resizedever ride the chest of a horse? Next thing I knew, I was in the mental middle of a Michael McIntyre-ish comedy routine. Could almost picture myself pacing back and forth across the stage with him.

Sadly, the real topic came to me at a family funeral. My father-in-law was buried just over a week ago, and the Despain family gathered from places near and far to pay tribute.  It was a nice service done with full military accolades, and I’ll admit I korean-war-memorial-1809436__340[1]got a little choked up at the rifle salute and the playing of Taps. The weather was perfect, the people in attendance all respectful. As funeral services go, this was a very nice one. But, it wasn’t the funeral that caught my interest. It was the family stories that came afterwards, in the wee hours, sitting at the kitchen table, and at breakfast, and other odd times when the family was gathered. The stories were funny and sad, and they captured the essence of a man no one there knew in his entirety. What struck me was that the stories were only circulated among the older members of the family. The younger ones didn’t care.  They weren’t there. They didn’t listen.  And, I think that’s typical. As generations pass, so do the things that maybe only a generation ago were important.

I think about my grandmothers. One was a suffragette. I’m proud of that fact. In a lot of ways, knowing what my grandmother did has defined me. But, I don’t know the stories of her marches. Don’t know what made her want to get involved, or why my grandfather would have allowed it. I don’t even know where she marched. And, that’s my loss. My other grandmother told me of the times she and her family would covered-wagon-1675111__340[1]go on vacation in a covered wagon. They would be flanked by Native Americans as they were wandering outside the established United States in the early part of the 20th century, into one of the territories. And, my grandmother would sneak off and play with the Native American children who would come along to, what was essentially, escort, my grandmother’s family to a place where most people of the time didn’t dare go. I certainly know that story, but I don’t know why my grandmother’s family vacationed where they did, I have no idea what their covered wagon looked like, or why she knew and played with the children of the Natives sent out to flank them. Again, my loss.

Certainly, the old always gives way to the new. I understand that. But when I look at the photograph of my suffragette grandmother and see how much MacKenzie (who would be her great-great granddaughter) resembles her, I realize that my loss goes far beyond me. I can’t tell MacKenzie the stories of who her great-great grandmother was because, in a large sense I don’t know. I never took the time to ask.

And when I listened to the stories of my father-in-law, many of which were new to the majority of his six children, I wondered if anything of his life other than a few photos would be passed down, or whether those odd moments, when only the oldest of the family gathered around, would be the end of a legacy.

As a writer, I’m all for capturing those moments, writing them down – or, at least, the highlight of them. But I haven’t done that. Why? Because I never asked, and now the people I would have asked are gone, as is most of their legacy. Is a family legacy important? To the outside world—no. To the family—in some instances, yes. Overall, I don’t really know, but I hope it is. Because, for me, in another generation or two, I’d like to think that my family might sit around the still-life-379858__340[1]kitchen table where someone would say, “Dianne…yes, I remember hearing about her. Wasn’t she the one who wrote some books?”

R.I.P. Richard Steele Despain. You are missed.

No books coming out this month, but look for me in January, when both REUNITED WITH HER ARMY DOC and HEALING HER BOSS’S HEART will be out!

As always, wishing you health & happiness. And maybe a little bit of family history. 

Dianne

 

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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, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life

The Blessings We Love to Curse

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It’s been a crazy two weeks for me. Joel and I have been on an entertainment binge.    Been to a hockey game,  a Broadway tour of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ the musical ‘Cabaret,’ a Joe Bonamassa concert and a festival of Christmas carols.

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 We have another few things lined up to get us up to Christmas. And tickets to these were so easy to purchase – zip into a website online, pull up a seating chart, plug in the credit card and—voila, ticket on my phone. And when I say phone, I don’t mean the old-fashioned kind like the one that hung on my parents’ kitchen wall, but the one that gives me instant access to the world via the internet, keeps track of my grocery list, wakes me up on time, sends me reminders from my dentist and brings me a delightful good-morning message, every morning, from my sister-in-law who lives 1000 miles away. imag0973_1

Did I say internet? The vehicle that let me have a chat with a friend in India the other day, research the most prominent kind of pine tree in Montana for one of my books, and served as the device for a majority of my Christmas shopping this year? The same vehicle through which I bought a new washer three weeks ago and a brand new car two weeks ago? The place where I pay my bills, check the weather and watch movies, British television and Broadways plays?

It wasn’t that long ago that my husband dragged home this clunker of a computer, one with no internal storage and everything went to large floppy disks. “This is the future,” he told me. I didn’t believe him, but since he’d spent a lot of money on the thing and told me it was mine to use, I used it. Then upgraded, upgraded, upgraded. Got a laptop, a phone with way more capabilities than my first computer, and a tablet which my 4-year-old niece uses to watch her movies.imag0967

                My car is computerized. It has all kinds of neat little gadgets I’ve yet to explore. It syncs with my phone, gives me a rear-view back-up and I’m not sure, but I think it makes coffee. My television is hooked up to a speaker system that’s probably better than the speaker system of any movie theater I went to when I was a kid. And my refrigerator—don’t even get me started on what it can do. Yes, I remember the one that simply froze water and meat, and chilled food. But mine will sing me a lullaby if I let it.

 Yet, we are a discontented society as a whole. Nothing is ever fast enough. Nothing ever has quite the right amount of capabilities. In fact, the online response time on my computer had bogged down to a whopping 5 seconds, and I was pretty darned frustrated by how slow it was. I wanted that pine tree information, and I wanted it NOW! So, I called my internet service provider and complained that their service was too slow, it was wasting my time. They pressed a switch on their end, upped my band width and gave me a 2 second response time. I was so happy. Makes me wonder how happy I would have been in the old days when I’d have gone to the library just to research that one little fact. Back then, I thought it was amazing that so much was available to me in any number of books I could check out and take home. The other day, I thought it was downright awesome that I was given back 3 whole seconds.

This is the time of year when everybody is more mindful of their blessings. Friends, family, pets, good fortune in our lives, health. We do have so many things to be grateful for, and I am. But when I got home from a Christmas tree display (which I’d found online) I got a message from a friend I rarely see because she lives so far away, I turned on my computer to write this blog instead of trying to do it on a typewriter imag0925(because I can’t type on a typewriter) and I sent a lovely picture of a Christmas tree made from books to all the people who follow me on Facebook – a picture taken on my phone. And you know what? These are blessing, too. Maybe not the ones that complete us and make us better as individuals, but the ones that make our lives easier, and quicker and more convenient. I’ll admiimag0923t, I’m the first one to get angry when my computer slows up or my phone has to be rebooted. It’s frustrating when I can’t click right into Acorn and get my fix of ‘Doc Martin’ because something isn’t feeding properly at that precise moment. And heaven forbid I should be delayed from my Broadway streaming when I want to see ‘Les Miserables’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ But last night, when I took a picture of MacKenzie, didn’t have to wait for a day to see it developed, and was able to send it to everyone in my family within minutes, I was grateful for that phone. It allowed me something I wouldn’t have had so very long ago—the chance to share the best moments of my life with the people I love. That’s what this season is about—sharing those moments. And sure, they may take you an extra 3 seconds if your computer is bogged down, but when I look at the tin type of my grandmother from 1889, and consider the amount of time her family had to wait for that photo, and the one minute it took for me to snap MacKenzie’s picture and send it to my aunt 2000 miles away, imag0960_2I know that something we love to curse is really a blessing that enhances our lives every day, in little ways, and in big ones. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.” (Oscar Wilde)

From my family to yours, I hope you have a lovely  holiday season.

And, wishing you health & happiness

Dianne Drake (www.Dianne-Drake.com)

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                                                                     Out February, 2017.

 

 

 

 

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

What Makes A Strong Woman Strong?

Hello, again!

maisey

 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

Half an empty nest by Kate Hardy

The middle of August saw a key date for us: A level results day, which would tell us whether our eldest was off to university or not.

I’m thrilled to say Chris got his place at Nottingham Trent University for a four-year Masters degree in chemistry.

But that means that at the end of September, he left home. And that in turn means we only have one teen left: and it’s quite odd to get used to the household being smaller.

I wasn’t sure that I was going to cope too well, so I planned a bucket list thing for the day before we dropped him off (going to see David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall – and it was worth waiting 35 years to see him because it was the best concert of my entire life and I loved every second). And I also planned extreme deadline pileup so I’d be too busy to think.

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Then it was drop-off day. We followed a bunch of lovely students who were there to held the newbies, through the new block.

 

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We got to his flat.

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We did a quick supermarket run while he was unpacking, then said goodbye so he could settle in.

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Though I was good. I didn’t embarrass him by crying when we left. (I might admit to crying all the way home, but I was wearing sunglasses and I can cry very quietly.)

And then all the Mum-worries popped into my head. Would he get on with his flatmates? Would he eat properly? (Thankfully he’s self-catering so he won’t have to contend with what we referred to in halls in my first year as ‘badger pie’ – a green pastry casing containing lumpy mashed potato and corned beef, and it tasted worse than it sounds.) Would he get homesick? What if he didn’t get on with his tutor or his tutor group? What if he didn’t settle in and really hated it? What if he was so busy that he forgot to stay in touch (I remember the lads in my own student days being rubbish at keeping in touch at home) and I just worried and worried and worried about him?

But I’m thankful to report that he has been BRILLIANT about texting us, and calling home a couple of times a week. His flat is really nice (better than in my day, which is what I wanted – we saw some truly awful places elsewhere!), he’s getting on well with his flatmates, he’s cooking proper food (and I get the odd text asking me about oven temperature and timings), and he likes his tutor and tutorial group.

Today is his first day ‘proper’, and he has a fairly hefty workload (about five times as many contact hours as I did, what with labs and group work as well as tutorials and lectures – my English degree meant a lot of self-study). But I’m so glad that he seems to have settled in.

I’m gradually getting used to prepping the right amount of vegetables for dinner (for three instead of four). And because he calls/texts us, we don’t miss him as badly as we thought we would (it feels as if he’s still around). The one who really misses him, though, is the dog; Byron’s quite deaf now, so he can’t pick up Chris’s voice on speakerphone. Last night, at dinner, he sat and looked mournfully at Chris’s empty chair, and you could just see ‘where has my boy gone?’ in his little doggy expression. But I think there will be a joyful reunion in December.

For those of you in the same position – what did you miss most about yours while they were away? How did you cope with the changes in your house?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Things Making Me Happy by Amy Andrews

Thought it was time for another things making me happy post!

  1. Our Lucy has had a medical shortlisted in the Ruby (Romantic book of the year) award here in Australia! So thrilled to see readers rewarding Lucy’s talents and appreciating the breadth of stories the Medical line has to offer!lucyclark

2. This fabulous invitation to the Harlequin author party in San Diego. I can’t go but it never gets old to be invited!

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3 Being in this anthology with 3 of my fav Aussie authors!

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4.  Family. This pic of my sister, my neice and my daughter made me smile all day!

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5. Daughter is coming home today and have already booked 2 seats on the couch to binge watch the lastest sesason of Orange is the New Black.

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Whats making you happy?

 

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Projects in the midst of The Project

So I am scrambling to get some major writing time in, since I have a book due in just a few short days and still have a LOT of words to get on the page. So I was thinking about how my life is constantly swirling around whichever book I’m in the middle of writing. But while my mind feels consumed with The Project, there are other (lower case) projects going on around me, so I thought I would simply share some pictures with you in the interest of saving my words for my book. 😉

First we have my husband, who is an absolute champ. He’s not the project I’m talking about, however. But while I was working at the equine therapy barn one night, I came home to find him making a barn door.

My husband building a barn door from scratch
My husband building a barn door from scratch

Not for a barn, but for our bathroom (which we are remodeling from the ground up…pictures on that later, when it’s all done). I’ve always wanted a barn door, and the old door to that particular bathroom didn’t work. We tried having it swing out into the kitchen (we have a 1900’s era house so the bathrooms are in odd places) and then we switched the hinges around so that it swung into the bathroom. Neither option seemed to work well. So a sliding door was the answer.

Barn door installed
Barn door installed

Here is the “after” shot of the new door with a coat of stain and installed on its runners. I love it. It was the perfect solution for that space. Oh, and see the pots hanging from the ceiling? Hubby made the pot rack out of a scrolled metal porch support that he bought at the hardware store for $20.00. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure.

So what about you? Any projects you’re currently embroiled in? I’d love to hear about them!