Dr. Jess Young plans to use her time on the small Scottish island of Thorney to figure out how she can rebuild her shattered life, after a recent blow that has stolen the future she dreamed of. Only Dr. Adam Campbell is a complication she didn’t expect! Handsome but hurting too, Jess sees a kindred spirit in Adam. Will he heal her already fragile heart…
I often get asked how I come up with ideas for my stories, so I thought I’d go through the thought processes of how I created my January release, Risking Her Heart on the Trauma Doc.
I love to write stories that take place on an island (because I live on an island and I like the community feel you get, where everyone knows one another.) Next to Hayling is an island called Thorney, but most of it is taken up by an army base. You’re allowed to walk the coastal walk, but that’s about it. Well, I liked the name, Thorney and decided that Thorney would be the great name for an island up in Scotland where I wanted to have a setting.
So, initially, that was all I had – a place, so then I had to think about what kind of medical establishments would be on this island. Would the island be big enough to sustain an entire hospital and the people to staff it? Or would there only be a GP surgery? With people going to the mainland for surgeries/emergencies, etc?
I preferred the intimacy of a small GP practice, with doctors that took on many different responsibilities and I knew there would have to be a resident doctor to be either my hero or heroine, with a new doctor arriving to play the other part.
Originally, I had my heroine, Dr Jess Young having arrived on the island to take over the hero’s job. She had already established herself there and was great friends with the hero’s family. His parents loved her and she had fallen in love with the stories they constantly told about him, the way he looked in photos and basically had developed a crush on a man she had never actually met (the reason for this crush on a man out of reach will be revealed later) The hero would then return from Afghanistan with PTSD and wouldn’t function well, however, my editor suggested that the hero could still have PTSD, but that he needed to very much be a fully functioning member of the medical team and that my heroine be the one arriving as a newbie and that we be there to watch her fall in love as they worked together.
So I went with that. But then I had to research PTSD and all the ways it could affect someone and how those issues might play into my story. Would there be night terrors, would he be affected by sights, or sounds? I decided that sound and night terrors would play into the story better, as I wanted my hero and heroine to be living in the same block of flats and that proximity would help for more scenes that would establish their burgeoning relationship.
So I knew what problems my hero had, but what about my heroine?
I wanted Jess to be as equally damaged as the hero, but how and why? Where Adam’s problems were mostly mental, I wanted hers to be physical and so I gave her a life-limiting disease. One that had killed her father, leaving her with slight Daddy issues and going after men that were never available to her emotionally.
Well, the Daddy issues were deleted! Mills and Boon like there to be strong heroines and Jess needed to be strong, to cope with her condition and also, to help Adam with his. I knew then, that Jess would be this incredibly caring individual, who put other people first, before herself and that this need to care, to deflect her concern onto other people, rather than herself, would be the key issue towards her and Adam falling in love and being vulnerable with each other.
Once I had all of that information, I began to write. A revised synopsis to send to my editor, and then a detailed chapter plan, exploring what would happen in each scene, before I wrote it. The chapter plan was six pages of single spaced work and as I wrote the book, became six pages of incredibly messy work, as I scribbled all over it and changed things as I went, as new things always occur to me, as I write.
I had this grand idea for a Black Moment at the end of the book, that took place in the pouring rain. You know that screen shot from The Notebook of the hero and heroine kissing in the rain, absolutely drenched? I wanted something like that, my characters arguing with each other, but only because they’re so frustrated and then they end up kissing and realising they can’t bare to be apart, but that idea was nixed by my editor (who suggested a different moment and I sadly placed my rain-drenched characters into a separate folder to be used in another story, at some point.)
So, there you have it. The thought process to starting a book.
It’s not actually as simple as it reads. It comes across that these Aha! moments come to you quickly and easily, but I promise you there were many days of head-scratching, hair pulling and biting of nails as I worked out various bits and pieces. There may even be lots of scrawled up bits of paper lying in rubbish tips with my notes still on them. Or maybe seagulls have used them to help line their nests? Who knows?
If you’ve got any writing questions, then please don’t hesitate to ask them below. I’m always happy to answer them.
Hope your February is going well. Since it’s currently -3 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -19 in my little corner of the world, I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt from my upcoming duet for the Medicals line, First Response in Florida.
These books take place, as you can guess from the title, in sunny, warm Key West and feature two adopted brothers–EMT Jackson Durand and ER doc Luis Durand–on their journeys to find happily ever afters, all while battling a fierce hurricane to save their community.
In this excerpt from book one of the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero, we meet Jackson Durand as he’s finishing up a busy shift as a paramedic at Key West General Hospital and rushing to finish his paperwork before a big meeting of the emergency response team ahead of Hurricane Mathilda’s arrival. He’s not looking for love. In fact, he’s a bit of a playboy. At least until a certain neuro-divergent veterinarian asks him for directions…
Disasters usually had most people running away from danger. EMT Jackson Durand wasn’t most people.
His rig stopped outside the ambulance bay doors at Key West General ER and Jackson hopped out the back, followed closely by his EMT partner, Ned. Jackson’s adopted brother, Dr. Luis Durand, met them at the entrance ready to take on the case.
“Forty-one-year-old firefighter with Key West FD,” Jackson said as he and Ned lowered the gurney from the back of the rig down to the ground. “Riding his motorcycle and thrown from the bike, no loss of consciousness on scene. Obvious open left femur fracture.”
The patient on the gurney moaned loud and tried to get up, but Jackson held him in place with a hand on his chest as they wheeled him into the ER and down a brightly lit hall to an available trauma bay, picking up nurses and techs as they went.
“Sir,” Luis said, stepping in beside Jackson. “Can you tell me your name?”
The patient bucked as they transferred him from the gurney to the hospital bed and one of the nurses lifted the sheet covering his lower body to look at the wound. “Reed,” the man on the gurney said. “What’s wrong with my leg? It hurts so bad.”
“Your leg is broken, sir,” Luis placed his stethoscope on the man’s chest and listened before continuing. “Pretty badly, I’m afraid. But we’re going to take good care of you.” He nodded to Jackson then took over his brother’s position at the patient’s bedside. “Okay, we’ve got a good airway here. Good breath sounds bilaterally. Sir, can you open your eyes again for me? Looks like you’re getting drowsy. Reed, can you wiggle your left toes for me?”
The patient screamed then, writhing on the bed. “Arrgh! It hurts, it hurts. I can’t. I can’t. My leg hurts so bad.”
“Blood pressure?” Luis asked the nurse across the table.
Jackson hid his wince, barely. He felt for the guy. With an open compound fracture of the femur like that, it had to be sheer agony, but they couldn’t risk giving him any pain meds for fear of his blood pressure dropping even lower, which would cause even more problems, including death if he stopped breathing.
“Right,” Luis said. “Let’s give him six units of blood stat.”
Jackson and Ned cleared the area to allow the staff more room to work. While Ned took the gurney back to the rig, Jackson headed down the hall to stock up on supplies before his shift ended. Along the way, he greeted staff as the passed. He knew just about everyone here and had a well-earned reputation as the go-to guy when it came to EMT services in the Keys. He liked being the man with the plan and the popularity that went with it. Mainly though, he liked the control. Hopefully his rep would earn him a coveted promotion soon; he just needed a chance to prove himself.
He entered the supply room and began to fill his kit with fresh gauze packs, elastic bandages, syringes, gloves, and Steri-strips. The neatly ordered shelves were a perfect reflection on his brother Luis, who was the head of this department. Thoughtful, quiet, efficient. Everything in its place and a place for everything. All equal. Yep. That was Luis Durand to a T. The complete opposite of Jackson, who thrived on chaos, quick decisions, and excitement. Always better to keep moving, keep going, because those who fell behind got left behind.
He’d learned that lesson the hard way.
“Hey,” a nurse said, coming around the corner of the aisle where he stood. She was dressed in pink scrubs with a jacket covered in cartoon babies. OB floor. Jackson’s gaze flicked to her face then back to the supplies he was sorting through. She was cute, maybe late-twenties, Asian. He didn’t remember her name, but from the expectant smile on her face, she obviously remembered his. Probably because they’d gone out, had a good time, maybe more. He had a reputation outside of the medical field too.
“Hey,” he said, not meeting her gaze. He wasn’t embarrassed about his flings. He only slept with women who knew the score. No strings, no complications. If they’d been together, then she’d gone into it with her eyes open too. He grabbed a handful of alcohol wipes and shoved them into the outer pocket of his pack, ignoring the hot prickle of her stare on the side of his face.
When he didn’t say anything more, she stepped closer and smiled, shaking her head. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“Of course, I do,” he said, concentrating on the zipper of his pack, and thinking maybe it was time to get out of the game. Not settle down, because he didn’t do relationships—get in too deep and all you ended up with was heartbreak and disappointment—but his thirtieth birthday was coming up soon and frankly he was getting too old for this crap. Maybe he’d get a dog or something to live on the houseboat with him. He hazarded a side glance at the nametag on her jacket. “How could I forget you, Susie?”
Her snort rang loud in the quiet supply room. “And that proves my point. I’m Amy. Borrowed this jacket earlier because I was cold.” Heat crept up his neck as he straightened, hiding his wince. “But don’t worry. I’m not offended,” she said, jovially. “We hooked up at the St. Patrick’s Day party at Durand’s earlier this year. The night’s pretty blurry for me too, since we’d both had way too much to drink. It’s all good.”
His adopted parents owned one of the most popular bars in the touristy section of Key West, Durand’s Duck Bill Pub. He’d had a lot of good times at that bar, a lot of forgotten nights too. He flashed her a slow smile, hoping his charm might get him out of another sticky situation. “Ah. Yes, right. I do remember you now, Amy. You won the green beer contest and hung a T-shirt from the rafters.”
She shook he head and laughed. “I lost the whiskey duel and ended up having to kiss that gross leprechaun statue near the entrance. Nice try though.”
“Thanks.” He winked and sidled past her. “Gotta go.”
“Of course, you do,” she called as he walked out of the supply room fast. “Thanks for the memories.”
“Bye, Amy,” he called back, glad to be out of the firing line. By the time he returned to the bustle of the ER, his brother was at the nurses’ station barking orders into the phone to what Jackson assumed was the OR.
“Yes. Fireman thrown from his motorcycle with a known bad femur fracture. Suspected pelvic fracture. I’m also worried he may have an as yet undiagnosed solid organ injury, perhaps liver or spleen that’s adding to the loss of blood. We’ll need ortho to assist for the leg, but my primary concern right now is saving his life. Okay. Yes. I’ll be up ASAP. Thank you.”
“Another busy day in the neighborhood, huh?” Jackson moved in beside him at the counter and placed his refilled equipment pack at his feet. “You think he’s going to make it?”
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he does,” Luis said, heading toward the stairwell up to the third floor only to be cut off by the man’s family and fire crew. Jackson concentrated on filling out the requisition forms for his supplies while his brother did his best to put the new arrivals at ease. “Yes. Reed has got a bad leg fracture from the accident and we’re taking him to surgery now to repair it and also to make sure there’s not more bleeding internally. If you have a seat in the waiting room, I’ll be down as soon as I can with an update. I…”
His brother’s voice trailed off and Jackson glanced up to see what had cause the rare occurrence. Luis was always well-spoken, always prepared, always on top of things. He had a mild case of Asperger’s, so that kept him constantly thinking, constantly working through problems in his head that usually spilled out of his mouth as well. So, him going speechless was quite an event. But all Jackson saw were the same people as before. A middle-aged woman sobbing on the shoulder of a teenaged boy and girl, who he assumed were the patient’s wife and kids. Behind them was Reed’s fire crew in their uniforms, their fire truck parked outside the doors beside the ambulance, lights still blazing. Jackson recognized the firefighters as they often went on the same runs as EMS, since many of them were trained as first responders as well. Bud Landry, John Cheeves, and Stacy Williams. Luis definitely wasn’t gay, so the guys were out as the source of Luis’ sudden silence. Which left Stacy.
Blonde, twenty-seven or twenty-eight maybe. Pretty, in a natural, wholesome, beach bunny sort of way. Curvy and cute, and more than capable in the field and courageous as hell. Looks could definitely be deceiving in her case. Luis was staring at her like he’d seen a ghost.
Huh. Interesting. Maybe he’d been bitten by the love bug at last.
An overachiever in nearly every facet of his life except the personal, Luis pushed himself hard. Always working, always helping, always growing. He’d told Jackson once it was because his parents had died bring him to the US from Cuba, sacrificing everything to give their son a better life. Luis felt obligated to live up to the legacy they’d given him, one of bravery and selflessness, even if doing so was to his own detriment. It was the one area he and Jackson had in common, but for very different reasons.
Luis’s past was rooted in affirmation and acceptance. Jackson’s in abandonment.
His mother had left him behind at four years old with no explanation and no word since.
He had no idea why she’d given him, just that she’d left him and deep down he knew he probably deserved it.
The nearby elevators dinged and broke Jackson out of his thoughts. Seemed to break Luis out of whatever spell he’d fallen under too. He excused himself and shoved into the stairwell like his butt was on fire. Jackson went back to finishing up his blasted paperwork, pushing the painful past away.
Of all the aspects of his job, the bureaucracy was his least favorite. He much preferred being out on runs, saving lives, helping others, protecting those who needed it. In fact, protection was his calling, his reason for being. Plus, being an EMT meant he got in, got out, got on with the next patient, never getting too attached to any one person or case. Attachment—that’s where you really got in trouble.
Because everyone left, sooner or later, once they saw the real, unworthy, you.
“Dude, I’m going to take off,” Ned said, clapping him on the shoulder as he walked by, jarring Jackson out of his thoughts. “You need anything from the rig before I go?”
“Nah, man. Thanks.” Jackson planned to use the staff locker room downstairs to shower and change after his shift before heading to the latest meeting of the local Emergency Response Team in the hospital conference room. He was Incident Commander for this one and if things went well it could lead to him landing the recently vacated regional director spot for the local ambulance authority.
“Oh, wait,” Jackson said, initialing and signing on the dotted lines. “You can take this full pack back with you if want.”
“Will do. I’m going to run down to the cafeteria and get a soda real quick first, then I’ll be back to get it. Sure you don’t want anything?” Ned asked as he walked over the elevators.
“No. Thanks, man. Have a good rest of your shift.” Jackson smiled over at his partner. If he got in and out of the showers fast enough, he’d grab a bite himself before the meeting. Coming off a twelve-hour rotation, he needed time to wind down though before thinking about a meal. “Take your time.”
Jackson flipped to yet another sheet on his clipboard and started on the next form, only half-listening to the drone of the TV in the waiting room behind him.
“…Tropical Storm Mathilda is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane by the time it reaches the gulf early next week. As of right now, projections are still vague as to exactly where the eyewall will make landfall, but we do expect it to at least brush the Keys on its way toward mainland USA.”
Jackson sighed. Another early August day in southern Florida. They’d been having meetings off and on since the start of the hurricane season in May. Each week a few new faces appeared in the conference room, and the team was rounded out as conditions changed. The Incident Commander’s job was to coordinate all the different team members into a cohesive whole and direct their resources to the areas that needed them most during the crisis. Considering he’d worked as an EMT in Key West since leaving the Coast Guard six years ago, and had pretty much seen and heard it all, it was a task he was well prepared for. Plus, he loved what he did. But he also had more to contribute and being named regional director would give him that opportunity.
Jackson dotted the last I and crossed the last T on his paperwork then handed it back to the nurse behind the desk, just as a female voice behind him asked, “Excuse me. Can you tell me where the conference room is please? I’m here for the ERT meeting.”
He turned to see a petite, dark-haired woman with a huge, panting golden retriever at her side. The dog was almost as big as she was, with a goofy doggo grin on its face, tongue lolling, and a red therapy vest on its back. Jackson couldn’t resist crouching to scratch the pup behind the ears. “Who’s a good boy, huh?”
“His name is Sam and he’s working,” the woman said, her tone edged with annoyance this time. “Directions, please? I don’t want to be late.”
Jackson glanced back up into her anxious dark eyes. He straightened and gave her a polite smile. “Sorry. I should’ve asked to pet him first. Come on. I’ll show you the way.” He stowed the pack for Ned with the nurse behind the desk then gestured for the woman to follow him. “You’re way too early though. Meeting doesn’t start until three. It’s only two now.”
“I know.” She moved around him and the dog trotted obediently at her side. “I’d rather be early. I always like to be prepared.”
They walked out of the ER and into a quiet corridor leading to the administrative wing. He gave her a side glance, their shoes squeaking on the shiny linoleum and the dog’s leash jangling in time to the clatter of its nails on the floor. Trying to ease the awkward with humor, he joked, “Isn’t that the boy scout motto? Always be prepared.”
“Could be. I really wouldn’t know.” She stared straight ahead, her steps evenly measured to avoid all the cracks between tiles. Hmm. Her cheeks were pink too, and he couldn’t tell if it was because it was hot outside—almost ninety today—or if she was still mad he’d pet her dog. Either way, it was clear she wanted nothing to do with him.
At the end of the hall they reached a doorway marked with a gold plaque that read ‘Conference Room A’. She gave a curt nod and finally faced him, though she kept her gaze fixed on the dog. “Thank you.”
“Uh, sure.” He slowly backed away, more intrigued than he cared to admit. People liked him. Women liked him a lot. Except for this one. She posed a puzzling challenge, and he did love a challenge. The list of new team members ran through his head as he tried to pinpoint her identity. “I’ll see you later then.”
Confusion flickered across her pretty features and she frowned. “Why?”
“I’ll be in the ERT meeting too. Jackson Durand, by the way. That’s my name.”
He waited for her to tell him hers, but she didn’t. Just led her big old dog into the conference room then closed the door behind her.
Want to read more? My First Response in Florida Duet will be out June 2021. However, you can pre-order now, so they’ll show up as soon as they’re available! Links are below and until next time, Happy Reading! ❤️
~ Traci 😊
First Response in Florida Duet:
The Vet’s Unexpected Hero
In the midst of the hurricane… …will she find safety in his arms?
Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…
Her One-Night Secret
A return, a reunion… …A shocking revelation!
Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…
As an author, I get asked a lot about when I first knew I wanted to be a writer. I wish I had a sweet story about knowing from childhood authorship was my destiny.
My journey, however, isn’t that tidy or straightforward. In fact, it’s a bit more like this:
I’ve had a lot of different jobs before becoming a published author: cashier, bank teller, certified medical assistant, college teacher and program head, risk management specialist, professional ballroom dancer, call center worker, and retail merchandiser.
In fact, up until I wrote my first book at the end of 2011 (after I had a dream that wouldn’t go away until I put it on paper), it never occurred to me to be an author. Now, that’s not to say I wasn’t a storyteller. I was an introverted only child, who always got along better with people twice my age than other kids, so making up tales to keep myself entertained was a daily occurrence. I just never thought to write any of them down.
Honestly, though, given my family history, I probably should have known I’d end up in some kind of creative field. After all, it is in my blood. Both my parents were artists. My mother was a graphic designer and my father was an interior decorator and visual merchandiser. My mom was also a dancer before she married my dad and she was a Rockette back in the 1950s and toured the country with the June Taylor Dancers.
Plus, my maternal grandparents were part of a trapeze/high wire act back in the 1920s and 1930s. The Flying Deislers worked for several major circus organizers in the US, including Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. They also performed for the Roosevelts at the White House and my grandmother was friends with Ginger Rogers. How cool is that?!?
So yeah. I guess a little of my ancestors’ creative drive was passed down to me, even though I can’t draw at all and you won’t find me swinging high in the air without a net. Nope.
Like I said earlier, I had a dream in 2011 that was basically the plot of my first published book in 2013, Seal of Destiny, a paranormal romance. My mom lived long enough to see it in print and was one of my first beta readers. I dedicated it to her and that story will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤️
I’m an Australian and I live in the state of Victoria. Down here it’s a month away from the official start of summer and after 12 weeks of being locked down harder than any other state in our nation, we are celebrating nine days in a row of 0 cases of Covid and 0 deaths. Track back to July (winter) and we had community transmission. I am so proud of our community. It hasn’t been easy. Not every one was happy and not everyone wanted to row the boat towards achieving this epic situation. Fear brought out the worst aspects of people’s personalities as well as the best. Victorians became the pariahs of Australia. Borders are still closed to us. I haven’t seen my eldest son IRL in 11 months, my sister in a year and my elderly parents since June. I feel so blessed that we have technology to ‘see’ them and often think of my grandmother who didn’t see her family for 30 years!
BUT in the midst of all this pandemic, good things continue to happen and I embraced the good things. I crocheted hero bears, plague bears and a baby Yoda for relaxation. We even made a video…
Spring came and with it warmer weather, which helps kick Covid to the curb. The gardens are a riot of colour. Readers reach out daily, telling me that they might be locked down but my books were helping. Canadians are discovering my big family and community sagas. Yay! I’ve always considered Canadians to be like cousins, cos you know, we’re in the Commonwealth and they have the Queen on the money too 😉 Big mushy kiss, Canada! And then on Monday, my eldest son announced his engagement. How excited are we! Now, the junk mail is arriving and apparently Christmas is on its way and again we will find a way to celebrate. Hopefully by then we will be allowed to have some visitors to our home.
If you love a Christmas read and you never caught up with A NEWBORN BABY FOR CHRISTMAS you can still grab it as an ebook. It is a modern retelling of the Christmas story with a big Australian flavor…Christmas in summer. It’s available wherever you buy your eBooks.
If you want to gift a great read to friends and family or treat yourself, all four of my ‘make ’em laugh, make ’em cry’ family and community sagas, are available in print, ebook and audio, everywhere. At At 450-500 pages, Daughter of Mine, Birthright, Home Fires and Just an Ordinary Family are a great escape for a keen reader.
For our Northern Hemisphere readers, Covid-19 loves cold weather and the next few months will be challenging. Please know we are thinking of you.
These are difficult times. Stuck in this pandemic, trying to get through this second wave and here in the UK, puzzling over the different rules for different tiers and for me in particular, trying to make my mother adhere to the rules especially as she is in Nottingham (an area of the country with some of the highest Covid infection rates) and who is starting down the terribly rocky road of Dementia.
Put simply, she lives alone, now that Dad has died and she forgets that there is a pandemic. We do what we can from 200 miles away. She has signs on the doors reminding her to put on her mask before she goes out (even though we tell her she shouldn’t be going out) and other reminders throughout her flat to wash her hands and to sanitise and to try not to touch her face.
It’s difficult. Especially when I receive calls from one of my brothers to say that he went to take her some groceries, found her flat empty and tracked her down in someone else’s flat, without a mask, laughing and joking!
So, despite all of this, despite the fact that I am still trying to get over the death of my father, I have been trying to find things that make me happy. Trying to find things to occupy my mind, that fill the well, that gives me ideas, that allows me to learn new things, to always try and make my writing as good as it can be. So I thought I’d share a few things I’m doing, a few things I’m reading, to maybe give you all some ideas, or even to just spark a light in these weary times.
Books I’ve Read
What if you had a second chance with the one who got away?
Ben’s always loved December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old flame Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?
He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.
Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?
I adored this book. A cross between One Fine Day and A Christmas Carol. Definitely high on my list of recommended reads and it’s perfect with Christmas coming up!
She must marry the knight .
By order of the king!
Widow Eleanor of Tallany Castle knows her people are broken by the taxes demanded by King John. So when she’s ordered to marry Hugh de Villiers, a knight loyal to the king, she’s furious—even if he is handsome! As gallant Hugh begins to heal the scars of Eleanor’s abusive first marriage, she’s even more determined to keep her secret: she is the outlaw the king wants to send to the gallows!
This book won the Joan Hessayon Award and rightly so! It’s a wonderful delve into the past with the Lady Eleanor who is passionate about protecting the people of Tallany from the severe taxes placed upon them by King John, being forced to marry Sir Hugh de Villiers who is the king’s man, determined to find the outlaw who is stealing all the taxes back! Very Robin Hood, I must say!
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
This was perfect! Wonderfully eccentric in that British way, with dabs of humour sprinkled throughout as Joyce and her friends try to solve a murder from their retirement home! I zoomed through this one and enjoyed every single page and shall definitely read more from this author.
Taking Risks As A Writer (with Julie Cohen, Novel nights)
Julie Cohen chats to Novel Nights about taking risks in a writing career, overcoming writer’s block and challenging the status quo. Her award-winning novels have sold over a million copies worldwide and she’s twice been selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Julie runs an oversubscribed literary consultancy which has helped many writers get published. She is a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, founder of the RNA Rainbow Chapter, and a Patron of literacy charity ABC To Read. Her latest novel, Spirited was published in July 2020. This author talk and Q&A is hosted by David Lloyd.
By the time you read this blog, I will have taken this class. I love listening to other authors and hearing about what they’ve done, how they work and seeing if I can apply anything to my own writing.
I think it’s always worth continuing to learn, always striving to do better.
Building A Successful Partnership With Your Editor (Harlequin)
This will be a chat for Harlequin authors with Stephanie Doig (editor, Carina Press), Flo Nicoll (senior editor Harlequin presents), Johanna Raisanen (editor Harlequin Heartwarming) Ruby Barrett (author), Sasha Summers (author) and Maisey yates (author). The panel will discuss the ins and outs of editorial partnerships and share tips on building a successful author-editor relationship.
Now, I have a lovely relationship with my editor, don’t get me wrong! But, like I said, it’s always worth finding out more.
Sometimes when I take classes, I find that I know a lot of the information that is presented, but there are always one or two nuggets that I can add or incorporate to my own experience. It’s about being willing to be open to new ideas.
I’m currently into blackwork embroidery and I’m LOVING it! There’s something very peaceful and calming to the mind about it and it’s also an opportunity (when the pattern isn’t too complicated) to think about my story and characters and plot out scenes!
I’m currently working on a pattern called – Save The Stitches.
You can find this FREE PATTERN at Blackwork Journey if you want to take a look at it.
But I have plans to do so many more! The problem is seeing all the wonderful patterns I want to get started on, but know that if I do too many at once, some may get neglected, or they all will, if I get too overwhelmed with projects, so I’m trying to stick to this one, right now.
But, oh dearie me, it’s difficult!
So, what about you, dear reader? What have you been up to? What have you been reading? Doing? Learning? Have you taken up a new hobby? Have you tackled all those DIY projects that have been waiting in the wings? I’d love to hear from you!
Their passionate fling… Has given them a gift to last a lifetime!
When pediatrician Merry Bell turns up at his hospital in Iceland, Dr. Kristjan Gunnarrson’s quiet Christmas is shaken up. After a hot fling together in Hawaii, they both agreed to walk away. But now Merry has brought him life-changing news – she’s pregnant! Commitment phobic Kristjan will not waver from his responsibility, but is his bruised heart ready for a family?
Halloween is still two weeks away here in the US, but my next release comes out November 1st and is part of the Royal Christmas at Seattle General holiday continuity this year! Stay tuned because we’ll have much more on this amazing four-book series over the next several weeks, but…
To whet your appetite, I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt from my book with you today, because yeah. It’s 2020 and who can’t use a bit more holiday magic in their lives right now, eh?
(Oh, and if you’d like to pick up a copy, it’s available for pre-order at the link below.)
Excerpt (Ayanna’s just finished giving Max a tour of her childhood home after Thanksgiving dinner):
“That’s basically it, I’m afraid.” They went back out to the loft and sat on the loveseat against the wall. It was cozy nook, far enough back from the railing that it couldn’t be seen from below. Ayanna toed off her shoes and tucked one stockinged foot beneath her, resting her elbow against the back cushion to face him. “There’s a deck out back, but since it’s raining now, we should probably wait on that.”
“Agreed.” He stifled a yawn. Between all the food he’d eaten and the ease of being around Ayanna and her family today, he felt sleepy. After pushing himself non-stop for the past two years since his wife’s death, it was a welcome, unexpected relief. “Thank you for the tour.”
“Thank you for coming.” She’d gone with jeans and a sweater, the same as him, though hers was a light pink color and fuzzy. He wondered if it felt as soft as it looked and damn if that didn’t set the blood singing in his veins again. Guard down and unable to resist, he reached over and took her hand, the way he’d been wanting to for what felt like forever. Her dark eyes widened and her lips parted slightly as he leaned in once more until her warm breath fanned his face. Max wasn’t sure what he was doing, only that it felt necessary, like if he didn’t kiss her right then, he’d be missing out on something precious. All the guilt, all the anger, all the darkness that had haunted him disappeared in that moment until there was only now, only them, only this kiss.
He half expected her to pull away again, but this time she didn’t. Time seemed to slow. Then his lips brushed hers and the rest of the world fell away. Her breath caught and he pulled back. A dull voice in the back of his head warned him to be careful, to slow down, this was all too much too soon. But then Max saw those soft lips of hers parted and ready and he was lost.
His mouth brushed hers again and Ayanna groaned low in her throat. Her hand slid into the hair at the nape of his neck, holding him close, pulling him tighter against her as if she felt the same rush, the same urgency. She gasped and he took advantage, sweeping his tongue inside to taste her—cinnamon from the sweet potatoes and decadent temptation—and he couldn’t get enough. It had been too long since he’d held someone close, since he’d felt their heart race alongside his, since he’d heard their tiny mewls of need, since…
The sound of a clearing throat had them springing apart fast.
“Don’t miss out on this sweet,funny, passionate romance that will have you feeling all warm and cozy.” ~ Clara A., Goodreads
Their passionate fling… Has given them a gift to last a lifetime!
When pediatrician Merry Bell turns up at his hospital in Iceland, Dr. Kristjan Gunnarrson’s quiet Christmas is shaken up. After a hot fling together in Hawaii, they both agreed to walk away. But now Merry has brought him life-changing news – she’s pregnant! Commitment phobic Kristjan will not waver from his responsibility, but is his bruised heart ready for a family?
I’d always wanted to set a book in Iceland, after we had an unexpected visit there many moons ago.
In the January after the 9/11 disasters, my husband and I had a flight booked with our eldest son (then 14 months) to go to Clearwater in Florida. We boarded the plane (my first ever flight!) and set off. Six hours into the journey, we discover, we’re turning around and being rerouted to Keflavik airport in Iceland, as there was a bomb threat on our plane. Out of the windows we saw two fighter jets escorting us out of American airspace.
We landed at Keflavik and were told to deplane and we came down the stairs we noticed guards armed with sub-machine guns. We were freezing, only wearing tee shirts and jeans, having expected warm weather at Florida, rather than the freezing January cold of almost midnight in Iceland!
They fed us, made each of us do a handwriting sample (the bomb threat had been left on a toilet airplane mirror that Osama Bin Laden was a hero and we all deserved to die, so it was someone on the plane that had written it.) At 3am, we were finally allowed to hotels, with a new flight set for the morning at 9am.
We arrived at the airport, only to be told that we were going to be put on the same plane and that no-one had been arrested yet. Well, neither my husband nor I wanted to get back onto a flight with a suspected bomber, no matter how unlikely a threat there was of a bomb, or not, so whilst everyone else chose to fly on to Florida, me, my husband and our fourteen month old son, stayed an extra two days in Iceland, whilst we waited for a London flight.
Iceland was constantly in the dark, except for maybe two hours of semi-daylight between two and four pm, but we explored when we could and tried to enjoy ourselves. It was expensive, the food was lovely and the showers smelt of sulphur as the water came up through volcanic rock.
All the Icelandic people were kind and generous and spoilt us rotten, knowing how we’d ended up there and I knew that one day, I wanted to set a story in such a beautiful country where at least one of my characters gets stranded on Iceland for different reasons, of course!
I waited a long time for the right story to come along and when it did, Dr Kristjan Gunnarsson appeared in my head, looking exactly like Lasse Matberg. You can see a picture of him here on Pinterest. I hoped my cover hero would look as close to Lasse as they could get!
The Icelandic Doc’s Baby Surpise is due out this September. I hope you enjoy his story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Buy/Pre-order links are below.
Hello everyone. Today I thought I’d share an excerpt of my new release, Healed By His Secret Baby. This was the first book I wrote after having a year off, due to various reasons and this story came to me almost fully formed.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt!
Hey, you. So, this is it. My final wish. And I’m sorry I’m asking you to do this, but I truly have no one else. You’re the only one I trust, and you’ve always been there for me, and now I’m asking you to be there again. But this time it’s for Tori and that way you can’t say no! I never told her father. You know why, and it was the right thing to do at the time, but as I get closer to going, I can’t help but think of my darling little girl having no one in the world she’s related to. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And it’s a lonely place. She’ll have you, her godmother, but…she has a father out there and he could be amazing! So, I’m tasking you with this. Find him. His name is Cole Branagh and he’s a doctor. A GP. And if he’s a doctor then surely he cares about people? I’m hoping he has a good heart. I’m hoping he can be everything she needs. I want you to find him, and if you think he’s a good man then let him know about Tori. I need you to find her daddy. I know you’ll make the right decisions. Much love to you, always and for ever, Skye xxx
LANE PUT DOWN the note and exclaimed, ‘Why are you making me do this?’ She went to scrunch it up in frustration but then stopped, thought better of it, and instead stared with defeat at the Liberty Point Surgery, a small general practice nestled in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. As if just staring at the building long enough would make this whole sorry mess disappear. He was in there. Cole Branagh. Dr Cole Branagh. The man who’d slept with her best friend when he really ought to have known better than to take advantage of a woman whose inhibitions were in question because of her alcohol intake. Lane knew exactly what type of man he’d be. A charmer. A user of women. The type to hang around in bars looking for lonely easy pickings. This Cole Branagh bloke had got exactly what he wanted from Skye and nothing more. Just like Simon. And here she was, sitting in her car, feeling trepidation about going in there because a man like that wouldn’t want to know about his dead one-night stands, or babies they didn’t know they’d fathered. Men like that didn’t care. Lane had uprooted her own life just to find this slime ball and have her theories proved right! Surely this was going to be a waste of time? Skye had told Lane all she needed to know about this Cole Branagh! It had been quite easy to find him on the internet. Liberty Point Surgery’s website helpfully had a staff page with a smiling photo of each member of staff and a short paragraph explaining a bit about who they were. Probably to make them seem human. Who would want to have a go at medical receptionist Mary when they knew she knitted hats for the preemie babies up at St Luke’s? Cole was the only one who had no photo and his paragraph was missing. There was just his name and a list of his qualifications.
Dr Cole Branagh, BM, MRCGP, DGM, DFFP, DRCOG
Such an impressive array of letters. She’d had to look them up to see what they meant. Bachelor of Medicine. Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Diploma in Geriatric Medicine. Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning. Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists… She’d laughed cynically at those last two. This man who knew so much about the best way to have a baby, was a man who had no idea he had an eight-month-old daughter. Wasn’t that ironic? Sighing with irritation, she folded Skye’s letter and slipped it back into her bag as she stared once more at the surgery building, delaying for just a few more moments. It looked quite nice, as surgeries went. Modern. Redbrick. It even had hanging baskets filled with flowers in glorious pinks and greens. She’d been lucky they’d needed a temporary healthcare assistant. Lane had registered with an agency in order to get the post there and her mum had stepped in to babysit Tori whilst she discovered if this Dr Branagh could be trusted to know that he had a child. She flipped down the visor to see the photo she’d tucked there. It was of her and Skye. Tori’s mother was blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, with one arm around Lane, wearing a silly paper party hat. It had been taken just one year away from a diagnosis that would change everything. ‘I can’t believe you’re making me do this, Skye,’ she said out loud. ‘Who am I to be judge and jury?’ You’re Tori’s legal guardian, that’s who. It was as if Skye’s voice came to her. You made me a promise. On my deathbed. You can’t break it! She could almost hear the devilish chuckle in her friend’s voice. No. She wouldn’t break it. She’d sworn it, holding Skye’s hands, squeezing them tight as her best friend in the whole wide world had taken her final breaths. She’d almost lost herself afterwards. The intense grief had pulled her towards an unimaginable darkness. She and Skye had been friends for ever. Since infants’ school. Skye had seemed strange to Lane at first. Someone without a mum? Or a dad? But they had bonded instantly and stuck by each other’s side through everything. Until the very end. Only baby Tori had kept Lane going. Going through the courts to get official guardianship. The little girl laughed and smiled just like her mummy! Tori was all she had left of Skye. And now she had to decide if some man—whom she didn’t even know!—could be a father to that precious little girl. That some sleazeball from a bar would have to be in their lives. It wasn’t fair. She hated him already. But Skye, bless her heart, had thought that he deserved a chance to know his daughter. That he deserved a chance to show that he could be a good man and a good father. ‘He’d better be some kind of unbelievable saint,’ she said out loud to the photo. ‘That’s all I’m saying.’ Five minutes later, she was walking inside the surgery, headache brewing, with her backpack over her shoulder, trying to look as if she wasn’t an undercover spy on a secret mission, but just an ordinary agency healthcare assistant, ready to start her new posting. But when she got inside, she saw a crowd of people huddled around a person lying on the floor, and her instincts immediately kicked in. She dropped her bag. ‘Let me through! I can help!’ she said as she barged her way through, pushing and shoving, desperate to give assistance. Only she burst through to the front of them to see a woman lying on the floor, looking up at her with curiosity, whilst kneeling beside her was a very handsome man who had clearly been in the middle of some kind of demonstration. ‘Hi,’ he said, one eyebrow raised in question. Lane glanced again at the ‘patient’. A woman who seemed to be totally unhurt, with a big smile on her face. A woman who was conscious. Breathing. Absolutely fine. She could only blush as around her one or two people chuckled. ‘What—what’s going on?’ she stammered. The man smiled. ‘First aid demo. I’m showing our patients how to put someone into the recovery position.’ He pointed at one of the walls. ‘There are posters.’ She followed his finger and noticed that every wall, and even the door through which she’d walked, had a large poster on it, stating that all were welcome to attend an emergency first aid demo to be held at the surgery today. A demo that would be run by Dr Cole Branagh. How had she not noticed? Had she been so absorbed in trying to look normal? Lane swallowed hard and turned back to face the man who had now taken the hand of the ‘patient’ and was helping her gently to her feet. Tori has his eyes. He didn’t look anything like the charming Lothario weasel she’d pictured in her head. Annoyingly, he had the audacity to be extremely handsome, and she could understand how Skye might have fallen for his charms. The females all around him seemed to be gazing at him with appreciative eyes and he clearly thrived on their attention. Their adulation. He was probably used to having women throw themselves at his feet. Well, not me, Dr Branagh. ‘Right. Okay. Sorry I interrupted.’ She grimaced and turned away, trying to control the heat flaming in her cheeks, and pushed back through the assembled throng to get to the reception desk, where she introduced herself in a low, embarrassed voice. ‘Lane Carter…agency HCA.’ The woman on Reception was Mary, knitter of preemie hats—she recognised her from her research—and she smiled at her. ‘Oh, yes, we’ve been expecting you. You’re in Treatment Room Two. This is your card for the computer.’ She passed over a temporary locum ID card that hung from an NHS lanyard. ‘Let me show you where everything is.’
An unexpected baby made him a father…
But she’ll make them a family
GP Cole Branagh’s cozy Cotswolds surgery is all he wants and needs. Which is why he’s determined to help beautiful new nursing assistant Lane Carter get settled quickly! Until she rocks his world by introducing him to her baby goddaughter, who she’s caring for…and reveals he’s the father. Cole knows he’ll need Lane’s help navigating unexpected parenthood—he’d just never planned on needing her, too…
I’ll be honest. There are days when I’d like to declare, “I’m staying in bed for two weeks.” Then, amply supplied with food and snacks, books and some feel-good movies (Dirty Dancing, or Bride and Prejudice anyone?) I’d hunker down, hoping when I emerge from my self-imposed exile, everything will be better.
Of course, I can’t do any such thing. Although over the years I’ve battle anxiety, and gone a few rounds with depression, what I end up doing is coping. It isn’t always pretty but, somehow, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, until I make it through to the other side.
And during those hard times, I learn a lot: about myself, and about others, and that helps me when I sit down to write. Because, in the end, we authors really are writing tales of how people cope with life, their pasts, and their hopes and dreams for the future. In the case of romance writers, we try to figure out how our characters cope with all those things so as to find their way to love.
And one of the things I constantly remind myself is that I can’t fix everything. I fact, there’s very little I can fix beyond my attitude toward, and the resolve with which I face obstacles and problems. Growing up, I had a great example of how to handle whatever life throws at you with grace, style, and determination: my Granduncle, Dr. William “Billy” Aird.
Uncle Billy was our family doctor, and delivered all three of my mother’s children. He had a storied career, including being the head of Kingston, Jamaica’s only psychiatric hospital for a while. But by the time I knew him, he was in private practice, and it never occurred to me at the time how unusual it was to have a doctor with only one arm.
You see, one night, Uncle Billy was driving home from work in his huge old boat of a car, and passed too close to a parked truck. His arm was sheared off just above the elbow. The way I heard the story, he pulled to the side of the road, took off his tie, and made it into a tourniquet. He then drove himself to the hospital. Once there, he was rushed into surgery but, before that, he was joking with the nurses, trying to cheer them up because they were all crying at seeing him in that condition.
It seemed to me that Uncle Billy’s continued success in life came from his refusal to lie down and give up, just because of his circumstances. Of course, not everyone has that ability, and I don’t know what agonies of spirit he went through privately, after his accident. All I know is that he only retired because of old age, many years later, not because of his amputation.
His story is, obliquely, the inspiration for my July release, Best Friend to Doctor Right. I found myself wondering (as we writers do) what it might have been like for Uncle Billy had he been practicing today rather than fifty years ago, and came to the conclusion that he would have found a way to keep on going. He’d have probably been right there on the frontlines, doing whatever was necessary to help.
And that’s the kind of determination we all need right now.
No matter our circumstances, our impediments or situations, we can all make a difference.
Realizing her world is dramatically falling apart, surgeon Mina’s childhood friend Kiah offers her a fresh start on the beautiful Caribbean island he calls home. She’s beyond grateful for his help in regaining the spirit and purpose she feared she’d lost. But when a long-denied attraction spills into their friendship, they must decide whether to risk everything on the breathtaking passion that’s quickly unraveling between them!
And the wonderful Honey Magnolia PR is hosting a Blitz for my release on July 1st, 2020. There’s a giveaway too!
After years of planning (and I mean that literally!) I am finally off to New York City!!! I’m not leaving today, or even soon, but if you’ve been before I want to pick your brains. PLEASE tell me your top 3 things to do, see or eat so I can possibly add them to my list!
Our accommodation is booked so I’m just looking for suggestions for shows, restaurants, bars, shops, museums, sights, tours – anything and everything else basically.
We will have 9 days in NYC – hopefully a reasonable amount of time – and no kids – so your suggestions can be obscure or popular – whatever has stuck in your mind.
We will be there in late August – I know – it’s months away but I’m a little bit excited and I imagine there will be some things I’ll need to book in advance.
My next book is not officially out until March but is available in the UK, USA and here from Feb 24 in Australia. It is Book 3 in the London Hospital Midwives Series (Books 1 & 2 are out now – see below).
BUT I will happily give away a copy to the person who comes up with a trip suggestion for me that I haven’t heard of and/ or considered until now!!
Comment here on the blog or you can view my post on Facebook and I’ll pick a winner.