Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

A year of culture…

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxTwo years ago, I turned 50 and designated it a Year of Having Fun. I had lots of little birthday celebrations with people, I ate way too much cake, and I burned the candle at both ends.

Last year, I thought that it should be the Year of Carpe Diem – so between those two years I managed to see all three of my favourite musicians (Robert Plant, Radiohead and David Gilmour), and it was our 25th wedding anniversary so we ended up in Verona, which was lovely.

This year is going to be the Year of Culture.

Let’s start with the medical authors’ special giveaway, because you’re reading this blog because you love medical romance 🙂  You can find the entry form here!

So, my Year of Culture. I’m overdoing things just a tad for my birthday fortnight. So I have Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend (and a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace), Hamilton in London next week, and Jeremy Irons in ‘A Long Day’s Journey into Night’ the weekend after. Add in a visit to a stately home (that’s research), afternoon tea in Norwich’s Assembly House (aka super-historic) twice, and an evening at Phill Jupitus’ show (where he does his own support act and reads poetry) – yep, it’s going to be good.

Did I mention tickets for three different Shakespeare productions at the Globe? (Othello, Shrew (that’s my daughter’s A level text, which is why I’m squeezing it in the day before we go to Florence and I’ll have to drive both ways), and the Two Noble Kinsmen). Oh, and another Stratford trip to see Macbeth. And a lot more stand-up – Jon Richardson (twice, because he’s my daughter’s favourite comedian), Tim Vine, Bill Bailey and Danny Baker. Musically, I have tickets booked for Scott Matthew, Sheridan Smith, Joe Bonamassa and Def Leppard. And I’m waiting for the Tate Gallery to announce booking details for their Burne-Jones exhibition (my favourite artist – I’ve been waiting rather impatiently since last October, but it opens this October so surely they can’t keep us waiting much longer?). Plus of course Florence, where I finally get to see the Uffizi, the Duomo and the Accademia 🙂

It’s going to be a good year. Do you enjoy theatre and art exhibitions? What have you seen recently, or can’t wait to see?

 

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories

Moon madness by Kate Hardy

kate hardy sept 2015 1200pxSome of you may have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with the moon. There’s usually a moonlight scene in my books (my favourite is one of my Modern Heats, taking place on a volcano – because, well, that’s two obsessions at once). Apparently my parents used to have to shine a torch outside my window when I was tiny so I could say goodnight to the moon, otherwise I wouldn’t go to sleep!

Last night was the supermoon. It was too cloudy to see it last night, but this morning it was just glorious. I had to take my daughter into college really early for a sixth form trip to London, and the first thing I noticed when I walked into the kitchen was the bright light streaming in…

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It lit our way into the city, and this beautiful enormous moon was in front of me all the way home. I usually take the dog out before sunrise anyway, but this time I took my proper camera rather than just the phone and hopped over a ditch or two (poor dog thought I’d gone barmy). And I got the shot I was hoping for, reflected in the trout lake.

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As the sun started to rise, the moon turned pink. Now, I’ve always wanted to do one of those massive moon shots but have never quite managed it before. Today I ended up with two shots I’m so, so pleased with. (That streak across the moon is a cloud, by the way.)

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The book I’m writing now is set in the summer, so I’m not quite going to be able to get away with using these in a scene. But watch out for future books 😉

Did you see the supermoon? Do you have a pic to share? I’d love to see it!

 

 

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

Inspiration – where I get my ideas from…

We’re thrilled to welcome Emma Fraser to ‘Love is the Best Medicine’ today.  Writing as Anne Fraser, Emma has delighted us with her Medical Romances, and now writes historical fiction.  Over to you, Emma…

As an author one of the questions I’m asked most often is where do I get my ideas from?

Some of you will know that I used to write Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon. As an ex-nurse ideas for those books were never a problem. But I have always been fascinated with the past – perhaps being Scottish has something to do with it. In Scotland, evidence of by gone lives is never more than a few feet away.

For my first historical When the Dawn Breaks, I started off researching the first women doctors. Almost immediately the name Elsie Inglis came up. When I trained as a nurse in Edinburgh there used to be an Elsie Inglis Hospital but I never knew why it was called that. It turns out that amongst other things Elsie Inglis was the driving force behind the establishment of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals – an all women unit that went out to Serbia, France and Greece during WW1. (The British Government refused their help so Dr Inglis went straight to the Serbian and French governments and offered to help them instead. They accepted with alacrity and within months, the Scottish Women’s Hospital was serving close to the front lines in these countries.)

When I discovered the story I knew I had to write about it and the kind of women who would have the courage and determination to not only become doctors and nurses at a time when it was still very difficult for women to qualify but who would have the courage and determination to volunteer to work close to the front line.

For my second historical, We Shall Remember, my daughter told me about two Polish doctors who had found away of mimicking a false positive for Typhus and they used this discovery to save thousands of Polish lives during WW2. The real event turned out to have only a small part in my story but it led to the creation of my Polish heroine, Irene.

So real events are one place I find inspiration but so too are places. In When the Dawn Breaks I knew I wanted it set partly on Skye. I worked there for a while when I was a teenager and still think it one of the most magical places in the world. Co-incidentally my first ever published piece – an article for the school magazine when I was seven – was a story about Dunvegan castle and it’s dungeon. One of the scenes in When the Dawn Breaks is set around this dungeon.

In both books I was also inspired by the thought – what would I do if I had been forced to trek over frozen Montenegrin mountains in the dead of winter (When the Dawn Breaks) or been asked to go back to a country to spy knowing I could be facing death at any moment? (We Shall Remember.) I doubt I would have been as brave as either of my heroines!

My third book, The Shipbuilder’s Daughter was partly inspired by mother who was a Green Lady (a midwife and health visitor) and who worked in one of the poorest areas in Glasgow during the fifties. This is a photo of the syringe she would have used on home visits.

The Shipbuilder’s Daughter is set in the late twenties and thirties but many of the problems of over crowding and poverty were as bad in the fifties as in the twenties and thirties. Glasgow was famous for its ship building industry – but while the owners of the shipyards lived in luxury, their workers often lived just above the breadline. My grandfather worked in the shipyards after serving in world war one but the incessant smog that afflicted Glasgow at that time, spurred him to return to the place of his birth – North Uist – a place I spent many happy childhood holidays. And North Uist is where my heroine goes to work as a doctor when she is forced to flee Glasgow.

I feel so lucky to live in a country steeped in history with some of the most stunning landscape in the world and all three books are at least partly based in Scotland.

But ultimately my stories are about people and their relationships. A place or an event might start me thinking about the book, but it is the characters and their story that really matter.

Are there any places in Scotland that you have visited and been inspired by or that you’d like to visit and why?

Thanks to my medical author friends for inviting me on to this blog!

‘When the Dawn Breaks’ and ‘We Shall Remember’ are both available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

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