When I last posted, things were in a bit of a state of flux. We were waiting for exam results, and I’m thrilled to say our daughter got in to her first-choice uni (though I miss her horribly – she’s five hours away!). But now things are settling down, with our son back home from uni and our daughter moved away to uni, and I’m getting used to a whole new set of routines – and so is the dog!
The biggest change is to the mornings. Our son has a six-month chemistry job, which is wonderful (very good experience, plus time hopefully to get through his driving test, so applying for a permanent job next year will be easier) – but it means I need to drop him at the train station at 6.15. In turn, that means the dog is getting a rather earlier walk! We’ve been lucky to see some amazing sunrises. (And we won’t talk about the flooding this weekend, when we got two inches of rain on Sunday and a few major roads became impassable…)
I’m back at the point of being able to organise myself again. So I have my diary and two small whiteboards – one on the fridge so I can organise meals for the week/see appointments and everyone’s work shifts at a glance (which also makes it easier to do the grocery shopping list), and one propped on the piano so I know what I’m doing each day re work projects and exercise routine. It’s all very nerdy, but if I don’t tick things off then things just get missed.
How do you organise yourself? What’s your top tip?
Kate Hardy has two new releases coming up: The Soldier Prince’s Secret Baby Gift in October (if you like snow, Father Christmas and royal romances, this will be up your street) and Mistletoe Proposal on the Children’s Ward (which you’ll enjoy if you like Christmassy things and ballet).
Since losing his leg on a mission, soldier Zeke Jackson has worked hard and come a long way; now a multi-millionaire he’s also committed to helping others. Yet nothing can prepare him for the moment his wife, army doctor Tia Farringdale, walks back into his life and reminds him just how powerful their connection still is… And Tia isn’t alone — she’s brought his son with her!
In this SOS Docs story, the last person pediatrician Ethan Reid expects to see on board the rescue boat during his latest humanitarian mission is nurse Claire Durand. The woman he shared an electrifying, anonymous encounter with is now his newest colleague! Life’s taught Ethan to keep everyone at arm’s length, but Claire’s bombshell changes everything. Because Ethan’s no longer alone — Claire’s pregnant, with his baby!
In this SOS Docs story, haunted by the fact he couldn’t save his best friend, brooding surgeon Chase Barrington dedicates himself to saving lives. He won’t get close to anyone again, but is blindsided by a passionate kiss with stunning ex-army doc Kristina Morton. Suddenly Chase is on a rollercoaster of emotions, but can he leave the past behind and embrace a future with Kristina?
Turning her life around after a crushing loss, medical student Ellie Jones is shocked to discover her new mentor is Dr. Logan Riley—who broke her heart years earlier! Single dad Logan’s hands are full raising his autistic daughter, but Ellie finds herself more drawn to him than ever. And when the family losses they’ve both experienced bring them closer, reigniting their old flame, it leads to an unplanned surprise…
Nurse Taylor Hall is finally putting her life back together post-divorce. And a fling with sexy playboy Dr. Jack Morgan, when they’re both working at a music festival, is the perfect way to move on. Their chemistry is electric, but Taylor isn’t looking for commitment and besides Jack’s leaving town soon… Unless their deep unexpected bond can convince Taylor to fight for a second chance at forever…
After losing his wife and baby to his best friend, guarded GP Ben Mitchell’s sworn off love. But nurse Toni Butler and her adorable therapy dog Archie are drawing him out of his shell. When a romantic weekend in Vienna leads to an unexpected pregnancy, Ben’s painfully reminded of the family he lost. What will it take for Ben to believe this family’s for keeps?
In my last post, I talked about the challenge I’ve set myself this year: running the 10k Race for Life on May 12th to raise money for cancer research. Race day is only six weeks away – and it’s definitely a challenge still! I’m come to terms with the fact I won’t be able to run the whole thing from start to finish. But what I can do is intervals: so that’s a couple of minutes running and a minute fast walking. I’m going for endurance now and adding 5 minutes to each session until I hit 10k.
This is me, this morning, at the gym: red-faced and sweaty after clocking up an hour on the treadmill. And here are my Fitbit stats – because, being me, I have techy stuff to support me.
The first thing the Fitbit – I love it because I can see how I perform during a workout and where I need to tweak things (in my normal training, to make it harder, but here it’s to see where I’m flagging and what I can do to get myself over the humps and keep going). I know money is tight, but if you’d like to sponsor me 50p or even the price of a cup of coffee, all donations are really welcome and the link is here. (But some rah-rah cheering would be equally appreciated!)
The other thing is something called a Compilot – it basically streams my phone to my hearing aids (because my hearing is so poor that I can’t use headphones like normal people do). You have to wear it round your neck for it to stream the signal, so I needed to find a way of attaching it to my running shirt. I was going to make a little padded bag and use safety pins, but I thought I’d check the running shops first to see if anyone had something that proper runners use to keep their keys in etc. What I found is a ‘running buddy’ which works with magnets. Utterly brilliant. You can get bigger ones which would fit a phone as well, but this is just the right size to clip onto my neckline. It’s wonderful to be able to hear music again. I’m putting my playlist together and basically what works for me is short songs with a strong beat (about 125 beats per minute) that I can ‘sing’ along to. What works for me is a mix of Wham’s Freedom, Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of 69’ – all suggestions welcome!
Kate’s latest book is Finding Mr Right in Florence – if you like art, you’ve ever enjoyed the TV programme ‘Fake or Fortune’ or you just love Florence, this book has your name on it…!
Welcome to February medical romance fans. A great line up for you this month!
Carrying The Surgeon’s Baby by Amy Ruttan
What happened in Vegas…has life-changing consequences!
An impulsive Las Vegas encounter that left practical Dr Emily West married to world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr Ryan Gary should have simply been a lesson learned – except now she’s pregnant with his baby!
When Ryan arrives at Emily’s Seattle hospital to assist on a case, they’re reunited and their powerful spark reignites. But can working side-by-side with Emily convince lone-wolf Ryan he’ll be the perfect dad, now and always?
Heart Surgeon, Prince…Husband! by Kate Hardy
A convenient proposal…an inconvenient attraction!
Prince Luciano Bianchi is a top heart surgeon – but as a future king, he’s expected to rule, not operate! To convince his family saving lives is where his heart lies, he proposes a temporary convenient marriage to his new colleague, workaholic cardiologist Kelly Phillips.
Of course, there’s no risk of either of them falling in love – until their whirlwind ‘romance’ starts to feel tantalisingly real!
Island Doctor To Royal Bride by Scarlet Wilson
Working side by side…With a secret prince!
In desperate need of staff for her small clinic on a beautiful Malaysian island, Dr. Arissa Cotter accepts the help of tourist Dr. Philippe Aronaz, little knowing her knight in shining armor is also a prince! But when he sweeps her away to his Mediterranean kingdom, she discovers Philippe faces battles of his own.
Arissa has always hidden herself away—dare she step into the spotlight and stand by her prince’s side?
Nurse To Forever Mom by Susan Carlisle (Single Dad Docs)
Could a temporary arrival…Lead to a forever mommy?
In this Single Dad Docs story, Maple Island Clinic founder Dr. Cody Brennan is committed to protecting himself and his two little girls from any more heartbreak. But vibrant temp nurse Stacey Ryder challenges him and their emotional connection slips past his defenses.
As Stacey’s time at the clinic draws to an end, can Cody and his daughters convince her she’s the one they’ve been waiting for?
The Baby They Longed For by Marion Lennox
One night in the surgeon’s arms…one miraculous surprise!
Obstetrician Addie and surgeon Noah’s relationship has always been complicated since he broke the news that her fiance had jilted her. Years later, finding themselves working and living together, they both agree to keep things professional. Until one intense day leads to one magical night, resulting in the miracle neither ever believed possible!
Now they must put the past behind them if they want to build a future…together.
The Single Dad’s Proposal by Karin Baine (Single Dad Docs)
Will their newfound love…Lead to an island wedding?
In this Single Dad Docs story, aristocratic surgeon Rafael Valdez might be the heartthrob of Maple Island, but he has eyes for only one girl—his daughter, Gracie! Until child life specialist Summer Ryan helps Rafael realize he doesn’t have to cope with the special care Gracie needs alone.
Can he convince Summer there’s room in his life—and his heart—for her, too?
This is the year I’ve set myself a challenge. One that I have a sneaking suspicion might actually be a little bit much for me, but I’m still going to try. Wait for it. Wait for it… I’m going to run the 10km Race for Life (for Cancer Research) in May.
Now, I’m not a runner. Give me a three-hour dance aerobics class or HIIT session, and I’d do it happily. But the idea of having to run for about 75 minutes… Um. That’s hard. I’ve never done that before. When I did the 5k, six years ago, it was half walk, half jog.
But it’s for a really good cause. Someone I love very much is going through chemo at the moment, and although I offered to shave my hair in solidarity she banned me from doing that 🙂 So this was my alternative solution: raising money for cancer research by doing something I am really, really not good at. To be honest, I’m terrified that I’m going to fall flat on my face and hurt myself. Especially as I already have a dodgy knee and a frozen shoulder.
So the next step was seeing a physiotherapist. (Knee fixed and has the green light for my training plan of couch to 5K, then add three minutes to every run after that until I hit 10k. Shoulder is going to take a bit longer.)
It would be lovely to be able to listen to music while I run. (I train at the gym, on the treadmill, when I’d much rather be bouncing about with a step and dumb-bells and a skipping rope.) But I can’t use headphones – without my hearing aids, I’d need my phone on full volume, which would obviously do more damage. I am however going to see the local deaf association’s assistance clinic this week, because they might be able to set me up with a gizmo that works with my phone and streams the music to my hearing aids. That would be immensely cool and I have my fingers crossed.
So. Challenge there. Mountain to conquer. And if anyone would like to sponsor me even 50p (because I know money is tight), or just wish me luck, I’d really appreciate it. My fundraising page is here (opens in a new page) and if anyone has great ideas for good music to run to, I’m all ears!
Kate’s latest book is Heart Surgeon Prince… HUSBAND!
Luciano Bianchi is a top heart surgeon—but as a future king he’s expected to rule, not operate! To convince his family that saving lives is where his heart lies, he proposes a temporary convenient marriage to his new colleague, workaholic cardiologist Kelly Phillips. Of course there’s no risk of either of them falling in love—until their whirlwind ‘romance’ starts to feel tantalisingly real!
December’s a bit of a tough month for me. I know it’s the one where everyone’s looking forward to Christmas, and it’s all glitter and tinsel and lovely stuff… But it’s also the month where I lost both my parents. My dad’s anniversary is today (where have the last eight years gone?) and my mum’s is just before Christmas. So this is the month where I find it hard to be my usual disgustingly happy, exuberant self. I want to celebrate my lovely memories rather than brood (both my parents would be absolutely furious with me), but there’s this big dark cloud that just seems to hang over me.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles at this time of year. For me it’s about getting through the days between now and Christmas and making myself smile, even when I don’t feel like it. Which means taking care of myself properly (aka cramming every moment so I don’t have to think). My tips for self-care:
Move – it stimulates endorphins. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog-walk, dancing yourself silly, hitting the gym, swimming – whatever you enjoy. Just move. You’ll feel better.
Get outside – again, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a pretty spot having a coffee, or going for a walk: just get some sunlight. (Ironic, as it’s tipping down with rain here as I write this – but it’s one of the reasons why I go out with the dog just before dawn, so I get the pretty bits of the sky. This is our favourite spot at the beginning/end of the walk, where we catch the early sun reflected in the water. How lucky are we to have this on our doorstep?)
Connect – tell someone you love them. Think about what you appreciate about the people in your life and tell them – in person, by text/email/a daft notecard. Arrange to meet up with a family member or friend for lunch/coffee/theatre.
Do something you enjoy – for me, that’s a trip to the theatre or a gig, watching a film, or playing the guitar or piano (not to a high standard, but I don’t do it for other people – I do it for me), or a museum or pottering around old churches. Or, at this time of year, Christmas lights. (This is Somerset House from last weekend – I didn’t go skating, but I’d gone to London to see an exhibition at the British Library and also Antony & Cleopatra with my best friend, and we took a walk round the South Bank after the performance.)
Nourish – make sure you’re eating well. When you’re miserable, it’s tempting to stuff your face with something sugary, but it’s going to make you crash. (And this is why I’ve recently rejoined WeightWatchers – very impressed by their new attitude, and it’s making me rethink my choices so I enjoy what I eat and I don’t have to feel deprived.)
Create – if drawing or painting makes you feel happy, do it! (I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, so my ‘create’ is pottering about in the kitchen, creating something nice.)
I think the key here is being as kind to yourself as you are to other people. May December be kind to you – and be kind to yourselves.
Kate’s latest book, A Diamond in the Snow, is a True Love rather than a Medical – but if you like Christmas decorations and lights, you like stately homes and ballrooms and all things Regency – oh, and dogs, then this has your name on it…
We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend. Margaret Barker, author of over 60 titles for Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance, passed away earlier this year. Writers Kate Hardy and Caroline Anderson, and Senior Editor Sheila Hodgson share their memories of Margaret, and Kate has also shared three photographs (Kate is the lady behind the lens in the first two).
I first met Margaret in the early 1990s as my first book hit the shelves, after I’d been asked to do an interview on local radio with Mary Lyons, who had been writing romances for Mills & Boon for some time. It was a hilarious interview, and afterwards Mary invited me to lunch in Colchester with another author, Margaret Barker, who also wrote Medicals. It was a fabulous lunch, and Margaret then invited me to her house for an author ‘do’. What a great introduction to life as a real author! We had a marvellous lunch cooked for us by Margaret’s charming husband John, and it was a great day. I saw Margaret frequently after that, at theirs, or at Mills & Boon functions, and it was always a joy to see her and John who often accompanied her. On one occasion Margaret and I did a library talk somewhere near St Albans. We dragged our husbands along, too, which of course involved lunch as well, which I began to realise seems to be a feature of author get-togethers!
Margaret came to London every year for our annual Author lunch, usually accompanied by John until his untimely death in 2006, and then she continued to come alone, still every bit as vibrant and elegant and funny as ever. Then bit by bit she herself became more frail, until her osteoporosis was so bad she was unable to make the journey alone.
She had countless fractures but brushed them aside and carried on, and it never dimmed her spirit, she never lost her sense of humour, her charm, her wicked twinkle, her elegance or glamour. She’ll be sorely missed, not least by her large and very close family of whom she was always so proud.
Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to John. I’m glad you’re together again at last.
I was Margaret Barker’s editor for many years, and she was always a lady of style and glamour, the soul of any party, spirited, a little naughty (loved bubbles) but always so wonderfully genuine and charming with it. But it was just part of the wonderful exuberance and joy of life that was essentially Margaret. She approached every turn with positivity and grace. She was never afraid of doing something different, she loved travel, lived in France, and did everything from nursing, teaching, writing and was also a mother of three, her family, including her many grandchildren were at the heart of everything for Margaret.
I remember she used to love to meet me for lunch at the Royal Overseas League, where she would relish chatting about her next storyline, she would jump on every idea we discussed and make it into something wonderful. And I’ll never forget the first time I met her after the death of her husband, she talked about him with such love, and such joy but she also was looking forward to what came next, her next book, her next venture, she particularly touched me that day. And she never allowed any health issue of her own to stop her from doing anything. Margaret always found a way.
She was such a wonderful lady, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh in her presence, and her belief that everything would turn out fine and that there was always more of life to be enjoyed was an inspiration, both to me, and of course it was the essence of her romance writing. I will miss her hugely, and I know that her readers will too.
I first met Margaret Barker in the late 1990s at an East Anglia RNA lunch. She was the first M&B author I’d ever met and she was INCREDIBLY glamorous! Very charming, very funny, and great company. She used to head the RNA chapter back then, and persuaded me to organise a couple of lunches. I do remember her trying to persuade me to take over the RNA chapter – but I had to decline as I’d discovered earlier that week I was expecting my youngest.
She was always a delight to be with at M&B and RNA lunches, full of wonderful tales of her travels in India, and she was always very kind. She always greeted me with a hug (a gentle one in later years when her osteoporosis took hold) – and to be honest the M&B author lunch this year is going to put a lump in my throat because it won’t feel the same without her and Sara Craven.
When I think of diamonds and champagne, I’ll always think of Margaret Barker, with a very big smile.