Guest Blogs, Origin Stories

Life is What You Make it

Today we welcome Harlequin Special Edition author Nina Crespo to our Origin Stories feature.

Visit Nina’s Harlequin page to see all her books!

Life is what you make it—write your own story.

I was recently asked in an interview, “What would be the first song on the soundtrack to your life?” My answer, “La Vida es un Carnival” (Life is a Carnival) by Celia Cruz.

I can truly relate to the song, especially this part (translation from Spanish to English):

All those who believe life is unfair, needs to know that’s not the case. That life is beautiful, we have to live it! Anyone that thinks they are alone and that it’s unfulfilling, needs to know that’s not the case. That in life, no one is alone; there’s always someone!

https://lyricstranslate.com

Those lyrics are even more relevant to me now that I’m packing my life into boxes. Again. I’ve made over a dozen major moves in my adult life—from the southwest to the northeast to attend college, military PCS (permanent change of station) moves to installations in the States and overseas, a few cross-state transfers causing us to live in two homes to accommodate my and my husband’s careers, and cross-town relocations to new homes. Moving is as familiar to me as breathing. Sometimes, it’s been stressful, overwhelming, or even sad. But like the lyrics of the song, it’s also been beautiful. I’ve discovered new places and created spaces that felt like home and made new friends. Each experience is like starting the first chapter in a book.

My love of reading comes from my mother who was also a military spouse. She viewed every move as wonderful adventure (I’d post a picture of her, but all of my photo albums are packed away, and I don’t have any good ones of her on my phone). She was a teacher who chose to become a stay-at-home mom. Some of my earliest memories are of her engrossed in the local newspaper, Ebony magazine, a book, or an encyclopedia, reading about places around the world. She also read me bedtime stories, but as soon as I was able, she had me read my books aloud to her. Cinderella, The Tortoise and The Hare, Little Red Riding Hood, and Stone Soup—I not only learned to love words but also the escape a book could provide.

Eventually, I graduated to Nancy Drew Mysteries, but things completely changed for me while putting away my older sister’s laundry a.k.a snooping through her bedroom. She had a couple of Harlequin romance novels in her dresser drawer. I “borrowed” one and read it. From there, I was hooked. Enemies to lovers, marriages of convenience, love against the odds, as well as unforgettable adventures, loyal friends, and family saga dramas, all in places I’d yet to visit. Romance books were one of the things that inspired me to leave home and travel.

Very important box!

Back then, I certainly didn’t envision moving over a dozen times. I also never imagined I would pack a box of Harlequin romance novels with my name on them. But Mom and Celia Cruz are right—moving is an adventure, life is beautiful, and as my husband and I move into our new place, I’m looking forward to starting another chapter in our lives and writing my next book.

***

Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing.

Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel.

Nina’s sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales satisfy a reader’s craving for love, romance, and happily ever after. Her work has been published by Harlequin, Pocket Books, Kensington, and Entangled Publishing.

Stay connected with Nina on InstagramFacebookTwitter or through her newsletter.

Guest Blogs, Origin Stories, The Writing Life

My Hero Origin Story

(Today we welcome guest USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone, talking about where she gets the inspiration for her heroes)

Very recently, my mother-in-love (not mother-in-law, ‘cause I luvs me some her!) asked me a question: Do you read anything besides romance? And let me put this out there, she wasn’t asking it to be ugly. Because my mom-in-love has read every single one of my books, owns almost all the print copies and they occupy a special place on her bookshelf. She was genuinely curious. I answered her honestly. I do read some mystery thrillers—Lisa Gardner is the ish!—but for the most part, I’m a romance reader. There’s so much variety in romance that I can find it all there. Comedy. Suspense. Sci-fi. Historical. Horror. Contemporary. Paranormal. And of course. Love.

I freely admit it. I’m in love with love.

From the time my mother read me my first fairy tale, I’ve been completely enamored with love and everything it entails. The falling into it. The pitfalls of it. The dysfunction of it. The joys and pain of it. The edification and complications of it. The heroines and heroes.

Especially those heroes.

Because the heroes are my romance origin story.

Now, I have a confession. My first books and stories? Horrible. Like, hide in a chest, lock it, bury it and order three viciously horned dragons and a puzzle-wielding Sphinx to guard it, horrible. Yeah. That bad. LOL! But the heroes in them shaped the ones I write now. Who were these heroes? So glad you asked.

The first romance I wrote starred Ralph Tresvant, lead singer of the boy band New Edition. Soft voice, romantic and obviously sensitive. I mean, he serenaded women, sooo… And though I nearly killed him off in my book (hey, didn’t I warn you it was terrible?!), my kiss did bring him out of that coma, so it all worked out in the end!

Naima’s notebooks

The next short story featured Oliver from Oliver Twist. He was so cute with his tortured past. Kid has abandonment issues written all over him. And yes, yes, I know, he has a happy ending, but seriously. You know he has serious emotional baggage. And I live for the tortured hero he’s destined to become!

I followed him up with Duke from G.I. Joe. Alpha, strong, honorable, man in control Duke. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the action and excitement and the whole good vs. evil of the cartoon. But I also obsessively watched for Duke and Scarlett. To see when, and if, they would ever get together. And since they didn’t to my satisfaction, I wrote their story. Over and over again.

Then there was Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block. Oh Donnie. *sigh* Bad boy. Rebel. A little wild. And from the way he could dance, you know he could…move. Whether he was a member of a boy band or a famous producer, or later, a millionaire, he provided the hero for several of my books and short stories. Including the one the first book I sold.

Naima’s first published novel

Though my writing has evolved—thank goodness!—the leading men in my books are all an amalgamation of my first heroes, my origin heroes. The core of honor, strength and alpha maleness of Duke. The sensitivity of Ralph. The tortured pain and hurt of Oliver. The bad boy wildness of Donnie. Their backgrounds, appearances and stories may change, but the heart of them remain the same.

Author bio:

Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.”

She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Interviews

Introducing Nicki Edwards

Amongst our other new features in 2016, we’ve made some room in our schedule for guest bloggers.  Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Nicki Edwards, who writes medical romance for Momentum, the digital first imprint of Pan Macmillan.  Take it away Nicki!

G’day everyone. Thanks for having me here on the blog as a guest today. I thought because I’m still a newbie and most of you won’t have heard of me, I’d tell you a bit about me and why I love to read (and now write) medical romance.

Geelong Private Nursing copyWhen I was growing up I wanted to be a mounted policewoman. Or a nurse. Or a journalist. You get the picture. I really had no idea, so after school I travelled to the UK and worked as a nanny, then returned to Australia and worked a number of administrative jobs in different fields including hospitality, legal, accounting and human resources. I left work at 24 to have our first child and subsequently lost the rest of the 1990’s to pregnancies, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums. It wasn’t until our youngest started school in 2006 that I decided to become a nurse. Plan B was teaching, but lucky for students everywhere, I fell in love with being a nurse.

In my short career I’ve been lucky enough to work in many different areas including aged care, general surgical, rehab, General Practice nursing and even school nursing.

I’ve also delivered a baby in a hospital in Vanuatu and been featured on the side of a bus advertising nursing as a career option!

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Buses

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward ten years and I’m now a Critical Care Registered Nurse and work in both ICU and ED and I love it! The sicker the patient, and the more equipment required, the better my day is. (Is it bad to admit that?)

ED Nursing copy   2015-03-27 17.33.26

At the end of 2013 I was contemplating further study but decided to enjoy Christmas and January before making any big career decisions. I received a Dymocks gift voucher for Christmas and although I’d always loved reading and have incredibly eclectic tastes, I’d never tried Australian rural romance – because I’d never heard of it. There was a small selection at the book shop and I chose one book by Rachael Johns and another by Fiona McArthur. I was hooked from the first page of both books and a sleeping giant was awakened.

From that moment on, I knew I wanted to write – combining my two loves – small country towns and medical dramas.

Embarrassingly, when someone told me that medical romance was a genre all of its own, I presumed the books would be about (male) doctor heroes falling in love with (female) handmaiden-like nurses. I had no idea how wrong I was. Imagine my delight at finding hundreds of heart-warming (and at times heart-breaking) medical romances from the sweet (which I enjoy, and which I write) to the very spicy. How awesome that there’s something for everyone.

The other awesome thing I’ve discovered about medical romances is they don’t portray nurses, and the profession of nursing, in a bad light. In today’s medical romances, nurses aren’t typified as incompetent sex objects who need a doctor to give them an order ‘stat’. Instead, nurses are characterised as capable, caring and compassionate individuals; as autonomous, intelligent, articulate women (and men) who are impacted by the medical situations they face. There’s nothing stereotypical about the characters in these books – not all of them feature a female nurse as the heroine – although in my stories, I have. In fact, one of my favourite books featured a female doctor who works for the Royal Australian Flying Doctors. I guess what I love is the variety of heroes and heroines as well as getting that behind-the-scenes glimpse into the medical world I have fallen in love with. Adding a touch of sweet romance just makes everything so much better.

So, after immersing myself in medical romance and discovering many wonderful new authors, I forgot all about further study. I started writing, joined RWA, went to my first conference, met some fabulous people and fumbled my way to my first publishing contract with Momentum, the digital first imprint of Pan Macmillan.

Like most authors, inspiration for my books comes from many different sources. I particularly get inspired by the incredible team of doctors and nurses I work with and of course the patients and family members I have the privilege of caring for. Many of my patient’s stories (with their permission and details changed) have ended up in my books. My hope is that people will read my books, fall in love with my characters, shed a tear or two along the way and feel uplifted with a lovely, sweet, happy ever after ending.

My first book, Intensive Care, (book #1 in the ‘Escape the Country’ series) came out in January 2015 and since then I’ve been busy juggling full time work, four kids and writing. I released Emergency Response in October 2015 then a Christmas novella, Operation White Christmas.

The third book in the series, Life Support comes out today!

4 books

Here’s the blurb for Life Support:

A piece of you will always be left at home.

When emergency nurse Emma Chirnside’s husband dies unexpectedly, she finds herself tangled in lies and secrets. The last thing she expected to receive from him was a heritage listed mansion in her home town of Birrangulla, but with her in-laws causing chaos, she flees to the country, hoping to rebuild her life. Fleeing, it turns out, creates new complications. The estate manager is none other than her teenage crush Tom Henderson.

Tom hasn’t thought about Emma since high school. They’d always been friendly – like Emma, Tom knows how it feels to care for a sick mother from a young age – but as far as Tom was aware, they were nothing more than friends. He had no idea of Emma’s feelings for him, or the way he’d once broken her heart.

When their worlds collide again, Emma realizes the depth of her feelings for Tom, and wonders if she’s been given another chance to find true love. But Tom has demons of his own.

Will Tom’s secrets drive them apart and break her heart again? Or will they both get their happy ever after?

The fourth book in the series comes out later in the year and all my books are now available in paperback too.

PepProject_FinalOn May 31st I have a single title, The Peppercorn Project, coming out in traditional print. This book is more of a straight rural romance than a medical romance, but it does feature a nurse who works in a GP clinic as well as some tense life and death moments.

Thanks again for having me. I love to hear from readers, so please touch base with me via social media.

www.nickiedwards.com.au is my website for more information.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Some news for 2016 (includes a giveaway)

First things first – Happy New Year everyone!

We’re making some changes at Love Is the Best Medicine in 2016, which we’re all pretty excited about!  All of our regular bloggers will still be posting, and in addition we’ll be running some great new features.  In order to fit all of that in, from next week we’ll be posting three times a week instead of two, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

So what’s new?  In addition to her regular blog spot, Amy Andrews is masterminding the first Wednesday of each month, and will bring you news of the six new Medical Romance releases.  We’ll also be using some of our new calendar spots to welcome guest bloggers, some of whom have blogged with us before, and some new faces.

We’re already planning a Valentine’s Day giveaway, which will be on the 10th of February.  And we want you to have your say as well – we had lots of interesting answers to the survey that we ran last year, and since we still have quite a few burning questions that we’d like to hear your views about, we’ll be running more surveys in 2016.

And – drum roll please – we’re thrilled to welcome our editors!  The Harlequin Mills and Boon Medical Romance Editorial team will be bringing us their news, views and insights, in a regular spot once every two months.  Their first blog will be on the 25th January, so that’s definitely a date to watch!

I’ve saved the best, and most important part of our blog until last.  Because the many words and pictures, the organisation and the calendar tweaking is done with just one person in mind.  You, our reader.  We all wish you a happy and healthy New Year, and thank you for all of your support.  We’re looking forward to hearing from you in 2016!

Now some of my own news – I’ve a new book out and once again the cover fairies have been good to me.  My hero and heroine take part in a fun-run along the banks of the Thames, and I think both these covers reflect that theme perfectly!  And, starting as I mean to go on, I’d like to send a signed copy of the book to one reader, so please leave your comment during the next two days to be included in the draw.

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9781474037204

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a childhood spent in foster care, art therapist Corrine Evans knows how important first impressions are. So when her enigmatic new boss Dr Tom Riley questions the impact her work can make Cori is intent on proving her value!

But as Cori gets to know this devoted doc she realises there’s a dark shadow haunting Tom’s past. And as he begins to let her in Cori discovers there’s so much more to Dr Riley than she ever dared dream…