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

Moving and Cornfields and…Snakes? Oh My!

We are in the process of moving into a new house in the country. On five glorious acres. Okay, so it’s not a vast estate by most standards, but when your old house has a garden the size of a postage stamp, it seems huge. And exciting. And like a scene out of The Sound of Music.

So a funny thing happened on my way to the country. This girl didn’t think things through completely. I mean, I am so thrilled to be able to have real egg-laying chickens. But then a friend cautioned me to make sure the chicken coop was secure against predators.

Okay sure. Predators. Like foxes and raccoons and other poultry-loving critters, right? No big deal.

But there are a few other creatures that evidently like to munch on eggs. I mean, they really like eggs. So if you know me, you know that I am not afraid of most animals and insects. I mean a grizzly bear might stop me in my tracks, but spiders? Or bees? Nope. Not afraid.

Until someone said the word sssssssssssnnnnnaaaa… <clears throat> Okay, let’s try that again. Until someone said the word sn…sn…sna… Snake! There, I said it.

I am terrified of things that squirm around on their bellies and lie in wait behind logs. Our new house has a huge barn (for the horses, right?). And it’s surrounded by acres and acres of the most beautiful cornfields imaginable. When this friend first used the dreaded “s” word (which I won’t attempt to say again), it was in reference to those cornfields. Because my husband mentioned wanting a pool. And this dear friend warned him that we might find things floating in the pool. Because of the cornfields, which you can see in the picture below.

back of house
The back of the house with its adjacent cornfield

Snakes. Why didn’t I think of this possibility before we signed on the dotted line? Because the place is beautiful and private, with a long gravel lane leading to the house. And green pastures on either side of it. So I will do my best to remember that those belly surfers are more afraid of me than I am of them. Oh wait. That’s not true. Because the very thought of them paralyzes me.

So that’s my sad tale. Don’t get me wrong, this house is a dream come true. Really, I can’t wait to move in and make it home. Every dream has its hiccup, right? So that’s my hiccup. Is there something that scares the bejeebers out of you? Sharks? Slugs? Things that go bump in the night? I’d love to hear what makes you squirm and shudder. Just so I know I’m not alone!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Half an empty nest by Kate Hardy

The middle of August saw a key date for us: A level results day, which would tell us whether our eldest was off to university or not.

I’m thrilled to say Chris got his place at Nottingham Trent University for a four-year Masters degree in chemistry.

But that means that at the end of September, he left home. And that in turn means we only have one teen left: and it’s quite odd to get used to the household being smaller.

I wasn’t sure that I was going to cope too well, so I planned a bucket list thing for the day before we dropped him off (going to see David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall – and it was worth waiting 35 years to see him because it was the best concert of my entire life and I loved every second). And I also planned extreme deadline pileup so I’d be too busy to think.

2016 sept gilmour.jpg


Then it was drop-off day. We followed a bunch of lovely students who were there to held the newbies, through the new block.


2016 nottm sept 2.JPG

We got to his flat.

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We did a quick supermarket run while he was unpacking, then said goodbye so he could settle in.

2016 sept chris.JPG

Though I was good. I didn’t embarrass him by crying when we left. (I might admit to crying all the way home, but I was wearing sunglasses and I can cry very quietly.)

And then all the Mum-worries popped into my head. Would he get on with his flatmates? Would he eat properly? (Thankfully he’s self-catering so he won’t have to contend with what we referred to in halls in my first year as ‘badger pie’ – a green pastry casing containing lumpy mashed potato and corned beef, and it tasted worse than it sounds.) Would he get homesick? What if he didn’t get on with his tutor or his tutor group? What if he didn’t settle in and really hated it? What if he was so busy that he forgot to stay in touch (I remember the lads in my own student days being rubbish at keeping in touch at home) and I just worried and worried and worried about him?

But I’m thankful to report that he has been BRILLIANT about texting us, and calling home a couple of times a week. His flat is really nice (better than in my day, which is what I wanted – we saw some truly awful places elsewhere!), he’s getting on well with his flatmates, he’s cooking proper food (and I get the odd text asking me about oven temperature and timings), and he likes his tutor and tutorial group.

Today is his first day ‘proper’, and he has a fairly hefty workload (about five times as many contact hours as I did, what with labs and group work as well as tutorials and lectures – my English degree meant a lot of self-study). But I’m so glad that he seems to have settled in.

I’m gradually getting used to prepping the right amount of vegetables for dinner (for three instead of four). And because he calls/texts us, we don’t miss him as badly as we thought we would (it feels as if he’s still around). The one who really misses him, though, is the dog; Byron’s quite deaf now, so he can’t pick up Chris’s voice on speakerphone. Last night, at dinner, he sat and looked mournfully at Chris’s empty chair, and you could just see ‘where has my boy gone?’ in his little doggy expression. But I think there will be a joyful reunion in December.

For those of you in the same position – what did you miss most about yours while they were away? How did you cope with the changes in your house?

Women's Business

Holding out for a hero? Or a heroine?

The Abbey at Royaumont

The above photo is Royaumont Abbey- temporary home to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals during the first world war.

I’m hoping that Amy Andrews will forgive me for using part of the fab title of one of her wonderful books for the title of my blog.

I know we all love a hero- but what about our fictional heroines? Do we want them to be like us? Or do we want to recognise that our heroines can be as brave, if not braver, than our heros. My current release The Wife He never Forgot, was inspired after I watched a documentary set in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. It showed footage of a nurse, I forget whether she was NHS or full time military, in the back of a Chinook as it flew in, under fire, to rescue an injured soldier. I couldn’t get over her bravery. I would have been terrified. My book therefore is as much of a tribute to the women who work close or at the front lines, taking an equal share of the risks, and yet not flinching. I honestly take my hat off to you.

Perhaps it is partly this fascination with female heroines that led me to write my first historical When the Dawn Breaks published by Sphere and written under the name Emma Fraser. When I read about the women who, as soon the first world war started, upped sticks and left for France and Serbia to work in female only units close to the front lines. As I describe in my book, they had to flee from the enemy over mountainous terrain in the middle of winter. Some stayed behind with their patients and were arrested. All of them had to endure at some time during their time with the SWH terrible hardship and difficult conditions while caring for young men with the most appalling injuries.

And perhaps it is the same fascination with female heroines (particularly medical ones) that led me to my second historical We Shall Remember also published by Sphere and under the name Emma Fraser.(To be published sometime next year) In this book I have a Polish medical student who while her country is occupied risks her life in many ways to save the lives of others. While also a work of fiction much of my heroine’s story is based on real life events, including a brilliant, but little known, idea two Polish doctors devised that saved thousands of lives.

Enough about my heroines. What about yours? Do you like the female characters in the books you read to be exeptional (or as I would say in my heroines’ cases ordinary women thrust into extra-ordinary circumstances) or women like ourselves- jogging along with our brief but bright moments of heroism?

I’d love to know what you think.

Anne x