Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Stuff Making Me Happy by Amy Andrews

Its been a while since I’ve done one of these posts so its about time, yeah?

Adult children making their way in the world, even if it’s actually on the other side of the planet to their worry wart mama! I’m so proud of my independent babies 🙂

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Being an aunty. These are the two youngest members of our family and you can bet your last cent I spoil all the nieces and nephews cos I don’t have to parent them, right? All I have to do is be the cool aunty – hence these tutus! 😉

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Amazing spring sunshine in Europe! Lucky to have holidayed in France just recently 🙂

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Amazing ocean view from our new place overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Not regretting our sea change one iota!

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Old friends are the best!

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What’s making you happy?

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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, 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

Looking back and forward…

FIRST OFF- HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone! I hope 2014 brings you much love and happiness.

Apparently today is officially the most depressing day of the year as people return to work after a few weeks off. So, to counter this I wanted to look back and think about the BEST things that happened to us all in 2013… and the things we’re looking forward to in this fresh, shiny new start.

They say the best things in life aren’t things… and I have to agree, I may have enjoyed buying yet another black dress (what can I say? I’m a dress-aholic…) and I’ve had to have my new christmas kindle prised out of my sticky hands a couple of times, but all my favorite memories of last year are not shopping-based, but are the times I spent with my family and friends. Priceless. I haven’t many resolutions this year, but one of them is to connect with people more and spend good, fun times with them.

Highlights for last year include;

1. Spending four days away with my husband (the first time we’d been away on our own for longer than one night in 17 years!) and thankfully finding things we wanted to talk and laugh about

dirty walking2. Getting filthy dirty and laughing so hard at getting stuck in quicksand with friends!

3. Cheering my sons and husband over the line as they completed the Auckland half marathon

 

 

4. Dancing at a ceilidh with my husband’s work mates, tripping over our feet and stomping to great music

Susan Carlisle, ex Medical author Wendy S Marcus and me at the Harlequin party!
Susan Carlisle, ex Medical author Wendy S Marcus and me at the Harlequin party!

5. Catching up with writing friends and editors, and making new friends at conferences in Atlanta and Wellington

6. Spending this last Christmas with my sister, her husband and four year old son, which was absolute pure joy

Oh- and seeing in this new year at a hat party (if you’re ever thinking of a fun cheap fancy dress theme, this is a great one! I’m at the front in the witch’s hat!)

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Things I have to look forward to: the rest of the school summer break with my kids (4 more weeks-a blessing and a curse!). A camping holiday with mates. Hopefully, a trip to England to see my Mum, my family and my UK-based writing pals! I can’t wait.

So tell me- what made you smile last year and what are you looking forward to most in the next 365 days?

 

 

Foods We Love, Quirky Stories, Travels Around the World

Acquiring a taste for…

It’s an acquired taste.

How many times have we heard that expression? When I say it, it’s usually in reference to something I don’t much care for (like beets). Sometimes you really are able to acquire a taste for something, and sometimes not. I’m still working on the beets!

I was reminded of this the other day when I was piling green peppers onto a fajita, and my husband commented that he remembered when I couldn’t stand the smell of peppers. It’s true. My best friend from childhood lived with us for a while when my husband was in graduate school. She used to try to sneak little bits of green pepper into the meals she cooked. The second I walked into the house, I would smell those suckers and cringe. Yet I credit her with desensitizing me to peppers, which I now love. So yes, for me, green peppers were an acquired taste. Judging from the ratio of peppers to meat in my fajitas, I’m now a fan. Taste acquired.

Living in a country other than my own has been a learning experience. We once hosted

Acquiring a taste for tacos!
Acquiring a taste for tacos!

a Mexican-style meal for a group of dear Brazilian friends. If you look closely at the picture, you can see little note cards on the wall that tell how to construct a taco, burrito or a fajita and explains what guacamole and sour cream are (things that Brazilians don’t normally eat). In fact, guacamole was a very different taste for our friends, who normally eat avocados in sweet dishes. One of our friends told me she likes to sprinkle sugar on a slice of ripe avocado and eat it for breakfast. So to have them mashed and served in a savory dish took some getting used to—just like eating them in desserts has been new for me.

One taste I have definitely acquired is bacalhau (a variety of dishes made from dried

Tina with friends at the "House of Bacalhau" restaurant in Brazil
Tina with friends at the “House of Bacalhau” restaurant in Brazil

salted codfish), which I learned to eat and prepare while living in Portugal. Brazilians also serve bacalhau from time to time, especially at Easter. The first time I tried a bite, I detested it. It’s salty and tastes strongly of fish. It’s said the Portuguese have 365 ways to prepare bacalhau, one for each day of the year. It’s true. I have a cookbook to prove it! The second time I tried bacalhau, it wasn’t as terrible as I remembered. But the day I helped a dear friend prepare it was the day I fell in love with bacalhau. It’s a long, labor-intensive process which involves soaking the fish for a couple of days in the refrigerator in order to rehydrate it and remove the excess salt. And you don’t just shove it in the fridge and forget about it. You have to change out the water several times. Then you boil the fish. Then you let it cool and take off the skin and pick out hundreds of bones (some of which are tiny—and are incredibly hard to remove, since your hands become slippery within minutes). Finally the bacalhau is ready to use in whatever dish you’re making. You have to truly love someone to make bacalhau for them. I still fix a small casserole dish of Bacalhau com Natas (codfish in cream sauce) every Christmas. And I still love it. Taste acquired!

What about you? Are there any tastes you’ve acquired over the years? It might not even be for a certain food, it could be a book. Is there a genre you didn’t expect to like but now can’t devour fast enough? I’m currently having a love affair with YA (young adult) books that are written in first-person. One of my daughters has gotten me hooked on Meg Cabot. In fact, this particular daughter is coming home from college in a few days, and she called and said, “Guess what? I’m bringing a new Meg Cabot book with me. We can fight over it.” 😉 Taste acquired!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations

How do you like to spend the holidays?

Bridal LuncheonThe last couple of weeks on different blogs and during the Harlequin Community Open House all things Christmas were discussed. Traditions, decorations, to what is new in our holiday plans were shared. I had planned to do more of the same but something a little deeper caught my attention while watching the morning news and talk shows the last couple of weeks.
I noticed that the same question kept cropping up and surprisingly everyone was giving the same answer. All the hosts and celebrities when asked, “How do you like to spend the holidays?” respond, “With my family and friends.”
None of the answers consisted of great travel plans, wonderful presents or things they hoped to receive. My answer to the question isn’t any different. For my family the holidays are about family and friends also. That led me to ponder if I had the largest table in the world and all the food I could provide who would I want to have sharing that table with me.
Of course, I’d invite my immediate family of four children, son-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, the boy’s girlfriends and of course my new twin (perfect) grandchildren along with my nieces and nephews.
But if I branched out further, I’d ask my friends that live hours away but care and love my like they are my next door neighbors.
I’d invite those people who are in my everyday life that I take for granted but surprise me when I least expect it.
I’d want that friend who drove an hour home from work, picked up a cot and drove an hour back to the city just to make sure my husband didn’t have to sleep on the floor of a hospital room and drove home again all in the same day.
I’d ask the guy who brought a load of firework to me for no reason at all.
I’d want the friend who couldn’t be there in person who sent her daughter to take her place just so that I would know that my friend would be there if she could.
I’d invite my cyber friends who, even though they may not have met me in person, can still manage to make me feel their warm hugs and caring from far-flung places around the world.
My table would be full and for that I’m grateful. Despite the food, presents and fun who we share them with is really what the season is all about.
From me and my family we wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years.
How would you answer the question: How do you spend the holidays?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Friendship

Yesterday, I met my friend Charlotte in town for lunch. We meet up every few weeks and spend a couple of hours together, catching up on all our news. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came home feeling relaxed and happy.

Good friends are one of life’s gifts and I am fortunate to have some of the very best friends possible, people who have been there for me through the bad times as well as the good. I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without my friends and don’t want to try.

I was thinking about that on the drive home when it struck me that one of the reasons why I love writing Medical Romances so much is because the heroes and heroines are “allowed” to have friends. In fact, the secondary characters in a medical romance play an integral part in the story and that, to my mind, adds an extra dimension to the books.

This is the point where I must hold up my hands and confess that I prefer my romances firmly rooted in reality. I like to write – and read! -about the sort of people I would hope to meet in everyday life. OK, so maybe the heroes are a tad more charismatic and handsome, and the heroines slightly more feisty, but basically they are “real” people, people I would want to get to know, people I would like as my friends. 

Obviously, everyone’s taste differs. Many readers love the idea of being swept off their feet by a handsome hero and carried off into the desert, and why not? I enjoy books like that myself at times but my first love is always a book that feels real, a book with characters I can relate to. 

So how do you feel? Do you prefer escapism? Or do you enjoy reading about people who could be your friends? I’d love to hear your views.

Jennifer.

Gina’s Little Secret: available as an ebook from amazon.co.uk  

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net