Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Of Cats and Other Things

Meet the love of my life.

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His formal name is Akira Purrosawa, after one of my favorite film directors. His informal names include Hobbes, Hobbsey-Wobbsie, Widdle Kitty Widdershins, His Nibs, and Wee Baby. Among others.

Mostly, we call him Kitty.

Kitty is probably the handsomest member of my family. He definitely has the most charisma. I’ve never seen him get self-conscious when he walks into a room, which is more than I can say for myself.

But he’s getting on in years, and so three days ago, I bought him an expensive water fountain to help him stay hydrated. If you have a cat of your own, then you already know that the amount of money one spends on an item for a cat is inversely related to how much the cat actually uses that item. I believe this is Newton’s Third Law of Cats. It’s not a total loss: he adores the box the fountain came in.

I’ve tried changing the water settings. I’ve tried putting treats near the fountain. I’ve tried getting down on all fours to show him how the fountain is supposed to work (I will not be sharing pictures of this). But no dice. Kitty is not interested. He doesn’t care that this fountain is better for his health. All he knows is that there is a Strange Thing in his Territory, and he didn’t ask for it to be put there, and he can’t make it go away.

As frustrated as I am with trying to get him to drink from this fountain, I also get it. I’m tired of change, too.

I began working from home in March, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do my job online. But at the time, making the change from going to an office every day to working out of a corner of my bedroom was terrifying. I didn’t know that everything was going to be all right, or that some things might even be better now that I was online. All I knew was that a Strange Thing was happening, and I didn’t ask for it, and I couldn’t make it go away.

I think that’s the hardest part about change: you can’t control it. And a lot of the time, that’s ok. Sometimes it’s actually better not to have control, because things end up working out better than expected. But I know that I usually appreciate that most in hindsight, rather than while I’m going through a change.

When I have the advantage of hindsight, maybe I’ll be able to appreciate how I’ve spent significantly more time with my partner over the past few months. Or how I’ve had more time to write, now that I’m not commuting. Or how my values have become clearer to me during a time of much-needed social change.

Or perhaps, instead of waiting for hindsight, I can simply accept the changes and appreciate those things now.

After all, that’s essentially what I’m asking my cat to do. A fountain may seem like a small thing, but he’s such a habitual creature that it’s a huge alteration to his world. And yet I’ve caught him taking tentative laps a couple of times, before skittering off to hide from the Scary Thing that Gives Water. This is better for you, I want to tell him. This is just a change. It’s normal. It’s part of life.

I try to remember that, too, while working from home. It’s just change. It’s normal. It’s part of life.

So Kitty and I are both working on coping with change. I’m not sure which of us has it easier at the moment. Probably Kitty: at least he doesn’t have any writing deadlines. But if anyone has ideas about how to make a cat fountain more appealing, I know that Kitty would love some tips.

Update: SUCCESS! About an hour after I finished writing this post, I noticed Kitty staring at his fountain. I stood next to him and he just hunkered down against my leg for about 5 minutes. looking at the fountain and then back at me. Then he slooowly began to paw at the water, and ended up taking a long drink. And I realized something that I completely forgot as I was writing my post, which is that change is far easier to handle when you have a friend around.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Deadlines

We all have them, right…these things called deadlines? Whether it’s for work, or school, or even turning in an application for a conference, there’s a date by which something has to be completed.

Well I have a deadline right now. My newest manuscript is due in my editor’s inbox first thing Monday morning, and I’ve got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach (that I always get) that I’m never going to finish it on time. Most of the time I somehow manage to. A few times, I’ve had to ask for an extension–like the time I fractured a vertebra in my back. Well, there are no broken bones this time, so I’m doing my best to write my way to completion. As I type this blog post, I am sitting on my sofa, with the very tempting view of a sunny day just beyond my windows. deadlinesBut I’m resisting the urge to give in and go dig in my garden, even though there are so many things out there that need weeded or watered or enjoyed.

But once I send my characters out into the world, I’m going to rejoin it myself! At least until my next deadline starts creeping up on me.

What about you? Any interesting deadlines headed your way? I’m hoping I’m not the only one in panic mode!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Hot Docs!

5 frequently asked questions of a medical romance writer…

1) Are your books full of medical detail/gore/unpronounceable conditions? (AKA: Do I need a medical background to understand them)?

Given the medical settings (hospitals, GP surgeries, ER, OR, clinics, cruise ships, rescue boats, veterinary clinics, even the White House!! and many, many, many more) the stories certainly do contain some medical details, some interesting conditions and medical dilemmas but by no means are they gory or difficult to understand!

When we’re tackling a particular issue and there is often a lot of research required we work hard to make sure we’ve got the facts right.

Some books are light on medical details, some a bit more involved, but you can always expect life-saving drama and an intense ride, all with a heavy dose of romance.

2) Is there a secret formula for writing them that the editors give you?

I wish!! The only one sure given in a medical romance (or any romance for that matter) is that there is a satisfactory happy ending for the heroine and hero. The rest of the story is down to pure wizadry and the writing genius of the author 😉

3) Are the hero and heroine always doctors and nurses?

Not at all. Sure, we have a fair few doctors and nurses, but we also have other health care professionals such as paramedics, physiotherapists and allied professionals such as firefighters, police, vets etc. Sometimes they’re even royals working incognito!

4) Is the sex in the books based on your own sex life?  (Followed by a wink wink, then nudge nudge the husband)

I get this question a lot! And the answer is a very definite no! (I’ve been married for 27 years, what do you think?? LOL)  It is all made up in my head and always part of the emotional journey of the two main characters. Oh, and the love scenes generally tend to complicate things for them too!

Medical romances have a variety of heat levels and always a lot of sensuality and emotion.

5) Just how awesome are they on a scale from 1- 10 (1 being not very awesome, 10 being the most awesome books ever)

50,000,000 ++++ worth of awesome!

Medical romance books are stupendously awesome! If you haven’t read any then definitely give one a chance. We have six new titles every month and a very long backlist that will keep you entertained for years!

Writers: Any FAQs I’ve missed?

Readers: what do you love best about medical romances?

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(My most recent med rom from December 2019, featuring a GP, a vet, a very cute homeless puppy and Christmas…what’s not to love?)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

After the Happily Ever-After

Romance is the only genre that guarantees a happily-ever-after. That warm fuzzy feeling that everything will be alright is baked in. If that premise isn’t met, then the book is not a romance, despite the multitude of lists that routinely tout non-happily ever afters as the “Greatest Romance.” Looking at you, Wuthering Heights and Great Gatsby!

What we never really get to see is the “after” story. Sure, we may get a brief epilogue a few months or a few years later. Usually, it’s a snapshot showing that the couple is still happy and often starting or growing their family. But then what?

The truth is that what happens next looks a lot less exciting to the outside world. It doesn’t have the tension of will they or won’t they to keep the story going. If I included it in my novels, I know my lovely editor would tell me that it might be better on the cutting room floor.

But it’s the simple bits after the grand declarations that make a great love story. On Tuesday, my husband and I will celebrate thirteen years of marriage. Our day to day life is routine now. We’re raising two girls, going to the office, making dinner, and binge-watching Netflix. He’s on his tablet as I type these words. It is not the stuff that lands between the covers of my books.

But it is what my books are based on. That feeling that love can last forever. That years into the future, two people can look past the gray hairs and smile lines and wonder how did I get so lucky?

My husband still gets up and shovels the snow off my car, even when he doesn’t have to be at work until much later than me. He always starts the electric kettle so I can pour hot water over my coffee grounds as soon as I come downstairs. Though that may be self-preservation – I am a nightmare before caffeine! And he’s shouldered more than his fair share of housework, homework, and carpooling when I am on a tight deadline.

These are the moments that make a real happily ever after. And I want my readers to believe my characters are still doing these things for their partner long after the epilogue has ended. Because no matter who you are or who you love, we are all worthy of someone who treasures us – years after the vows have been said.

Happy early anniversary to my hero. Thanks for the inspiration.

Juliette Hyland_Wedding

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Beauty and the Beast (aka Winter)

Winter has finally hit where I live. Up until now, it just teased us with periodic glimpses of chilly temperatures, but last weekend it decided to show us what it was really made of. We got snow. And there’s more snow forecasted for this weekend. And while I do normally love that fluffy white stuff, there are some less-than-pleasant things that go along with it:

  • Grocery stores that are crowded with those stocking up for what will surely be the next Snowmageddon. And yes, I was there among them, so I’m just as guilty.
  • Black ice that turns roads and sidewalks into skating rinks (usually ending with me landing on my backside).
  • Scraping the snow off my windshield and shoveling the sidewalks.
  • Cold slushy puddles that seep through your shoes and chills you to the bone.

But then there are days when I peer outside and there is this breathtaking blanket of white draped across every surface. Days when I relish making those first footprints with my dog as I head out to the barn to feed my horses. Days when the air is still and crisp and icy cold as it fills my lungs. winter 4winter 3

We recently had one such morning. The night before, we’d driven home through patches of dense freezing fog, and I remarked to my husband that I thought we might have hoarfrost the next morning. (It’s one of my favorite sights.) And sure enough, when I woke up, our trees and fences looked like someone had showered them with silvery fairy dust. I just stood there and stared for the longest time. My picture doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.winter 1

So yes, winter definitely has its beastlier moments, but then it turns right around and redeems itself, wrapping itself in a beautiful white cloak and making everything go still. At least for a few minutes. It’s what I love most about this season.

What about you? Are you a lover of all things winter? Or are you more suited to tropical realms where frost and snow are forever banished? I’d love to hear what you like best (or least) about this very chilly time of year. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your sunny days now, because winter will soon be headed your way!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Special People

Special people. We all have them in our lives. Those folks who have influenced, loved and spent hours upon hours with us. For me, those people were my grandparents. While I didn’t live with them, they took on a valuable role during a time when my life was scary and chaotic. They spirited me away for an entire summer just as I was starting high school and changed my life in ways that…well, looking back, my life could have turned out differently if I’d not had that time with them. They taught me so much about how to care for myself and what “family” truly meant.

And when I grew up, got married and had children of my own, they loved those kids just as deeply as they’d loved me.grandparents 2

There was always a box of goodies at Christmas and we spent almost every Thanksgiving and many, many Christmases at their home. And they did simple things with my kids that meant so much at the time. My grandmother and my oldest daughter made Easter hats together. grandparents 3They didn’t have a pool, so my grandfather got out a blow-up dinghy and filled it with water so they could have fun. grandparents (2)My grandmother was a fussy, meticulous housekeeper, and that, at times, annoyed me. But she was also one of the most hospital people I knew.

Only now do I appreciate the sacrifices they made for me and their other grandchildren and great grandchildren. I hope that one day I can do for my own grandchildren what they did for me.

What about you? Was there a special person in your life? I would love to hear about him, her or them!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

It’s a Jungle (of corn) Out There!

Maybe you can weigh in on a debate my son and I have been having for the last month: soybeans or corn? When we moved to the country a little over a year ago, there were soybeans planted all around our house. We could see the neighbors’ homes in the distance and watch fireflies dance across the fields in late June and July. It was beautiful. Magical. Well, I didn’t realize it then, but farmers rotate their crops in our area, planting soybeans one year and corn the next.

It’s a corn year. And those stalks enclose us, leaving only the lane that leads to our house. Who knew that corn grew that tall? Knee high by the fourth of July, goes the saying. Well by July fourth it was well past my knee and was as tall as I am!

Here is where the debate comes in. I LOVE the corn. I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of my own private oasis with not another person for miles and miles. The fireflies still dance, but they’re in our yard now, and it’s not the thousands of twinkle lights like last year. But I love it. It’s beautiful and watching the corn form those ears that have gotten fatter and fatter has been fascinating. My son disagrees. He says it feels claustrophobic (even though we’re sitting on five acres), and he doesn’t like not being able to see past it. That reminded me of when we lived in Florida. We had a visitor from another state–a state where you could see for miles and miles. She said driving on the Florida interstate really bothered her…she felt claustrophobic (like my son) and said that having the trees on either side of her was BORING.

What? Boring? I couldn’t even fathom that.

Which made me wonder if there really are two distinct preferences: being able see outside of one’s own little spot, or the cozy sense of privacy that vegetation affords. So here is my informal piece of research. Soybeans or corn? Do you like feeling hemmed in on all sides by greenery? Or do you like wide open spaces where you can see the world around you?

I really want to know. And maybe next year (soybean year), I’ll be able to see the other side’s perspective.

Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Heritage Lost

I rely on the internet for information. A lot. More than I should. That was brought home to me when I opened a cabinet door I rarely use and saw a familiar sight: my mom’s handwriting peeking out of an old wooden recipe box.

I pulled the box down and opened the lid, and I was swept away on a wave of nostalgia. My mom has been gone for almost sixteen years and yet seeing her handwriting was so…her. I recognized it immediately. And it made me think. Have I done that for my children? Will they be able to one day look at something like a recipe and see the essence of who I was? recipes

I don’t know. And that makes me sad. If I want to find a recipe nowadays, my first instinct isn’t to go to that treasured box. Instead, I go online and try to find the best of the best of that recipe. How many positive reviews has it gotten? What hints do the reviewers give for making the recipe even better?

And once I’ve made that recipe, I’d be hard-pressed to be able to find it again. How have I come to this point and why? Maybe because I think it’s faster. But what about future generations of my family? Am I losing something in the process?

It could be that it’s time for me to slow down and leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that my children can find their way back to me. Don’t they deserve the same bits and pieces like the ones my mom left me?

I think they do. So I’m going to start thinking a little more about the way I do things. And hopefully one day, my kids will find a treasured recipe or a journal or a photo album that contains my handwriting.

Do you have a special way of passing something down to your kids or relatives? I would love to hear it. Or maybe there’s a special recipe you’d like to share. This is the perfect place! I’m taking notes.

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?

 

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!