Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World

A VISIT TO THE MOTHERSHIP

new officesMany of you already know that Harlequin Mills & Boon United Kingdom recently moved from Richmond to London proper into the Shard London Bridge area. They are now part of Harper-Collins UK and have one large section of the 16th of 17 floors. The new building is very modern and high-tech looking with windows instead of walls. As you can imagine, the view is spectacular!

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After my editor Flo Nicoll got clearance for me to enter the building, I was given a temporary ID card that I had to wear until I left and turned it back in. They don’t mess around with security, do they? Flo came to greet me downstairs and together we took the elevator to the 16th floor where Harlequin Mills & Boon has found its new home. Due to the gloriously sunny day, all of the window shades were automatically down so I didn’t get to actually see the above view. Still, the office is one big room with rows and rows of editor, assistant editor, and editorial assistant’s etc. desks.

The back lighting from the sun made my pictures all turn out dark, so I’ve tweaked them and though they aren’t the best, they’ll give you an idea of the setup.

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Left to right:  Flo Nicoll, Nicola Caws, Kathryn Cheshire, Sarah Packford (PA to Jo Grant), Pippa Roscoe.

I nearly broke into tears when I saw the group of happy faces waiting to meet me. Bubbly and non-bubbly was lined up for a lovely greeting toast, and Flo Nicoll was absolutely the most wonderful hostess, taking me out to lunch. I felt far more special than I deserved, but it sure was great.

Left to right:  Carly Byrne, Megan Haslam, Bryony Green, Izzy Gormenzano Marks (Great name!!!), Laura McCallum, Sheila Hodgson, Becky Wicks (Social Media), and Tilda McDonald.

They even posted one of my most recent Medical Romance book covers, number 19. Flo is so considerate, she put up Hot-Shot Doc, Secret Dad, since I supposed she knew that I wasn’t a fan of the UK cover for Father for her Newborn Baby, which is my 20th book. (Long story, read about it here)

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Sheila and Flo made me feel welcomed and totally appreciated, and I will never forget how wonderful that was. Writing twenty books means something to the editorial team, and I’m happy to say I am currently working on twenty-three. Look out twenty-five here I come!

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I got to sit at Bryony Green’s desk for this photo.  Flo’s is right beside Bryony’s.  Yes, that’s where all the heartache begins when we submit our books and wait for those revisions.

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Flo and Bryony – The Romance line editors. See what I mean about high tech atmosphere.  This is truly the 21st century, folks.

So that was my very special day in London back on September 23rd. The next day was equally special spent with three fabulous M&B authors. But you’ve already read about that with this blog.

Here are the books I got all the fuss about from my wonderful publisher on the day of my visit. They are both out now as a duet in the UK and separate titles in NA, and are my first time ever writing cowboy type heroes. I hope you’ll check them out, if you haven’t already.

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Ten years ago, little did I know that I was just about to get THE CALL.

That’s my hook, and yes I’m leaving you with it. I’ll be blogging about the most exciting day of my life (after getting married and having my children, of course) as a writer at my own blog at http://www.lynnemarshall.com  November 4th titled – The Day I Missed THE CALL.

Yes, another hook…it’s what I’m paid to do.

PLEASE SHARE A SPECIAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE WITH US IN COMMENTS.

Thanks for reading!

Lynne

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Foods We Love

My Two Favorite Summer Movies, 2014

by Lynne Marshall
I realize that summer is the time for blockbusters in the USA, but I basically skipped all of them after the second Captain America movie back in May. I did see a few unmemorable movies this summer, some very interesting stories in other movies, but I can’t quite say I loved them, and then two movies that I adored.
Chef and The Hundred-Foot Journey

Chef_2014The_Hundred_Foot_Journey_(film)_poster

 

 

 

 

 

 
Interesting that both movies involve food and have a romance. Two of my favorite things! And yes, the cooking scenes were inspirational, but what impressed me the most was the passion for cooking shared by both of the main characters in these movies. Like being an artist takes a certain kind of brain and training, world-class cooking not only requires a chef devoted to his craft, but one also possessing a natural knack for flavors and tastes that enhance each other, along with the nerve to take risks and push culinary limits.

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The characters in both of these movies seemed to live and breathe food and all of its possibilities. I believed completely that both of them would die if cooking was taken away from them. The need to create exquisite dishes came from their souls.
If you haven’t seen either of these movies yet, I highly recommend them.

Now it’s your turn – what movie would you recommend for me?
I love just about every kind of movie including comedies, dramas, adventures and Science Fiction. However, I draw the line at raunchy immature humor – i.e. every movie Seth Rogan has ever been in.

Before I go, I’d like to share the cover for the Christmas anthology I’ll be in at M&B, isn’t it pretty?

Christmas by Request

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A change of career?

When I was growing up I went through all the usual choices of career. First of all I wanted to be a vet. That ambition lasted until I discovered that I would have to put very sick animals to sleep and I underwent a massive change of heart. My next choice was to be a teacher, then an air hostess (yes, that was what it was called back then – flight attendant definitely didn’t have the glamour!) I ran through umpteen different ideas before I finally settled on being a librarian, and no, that didn’t seem glamorous but it did mean – or so I thought! – that I’d get to read lots of wonderful books.

I loved my job and never got bored of doing it. I only gave it up when I decided to write full-time. And since then I have never looked back. I love writing and feel extremely lucky that I can spend my days doing a job I adore. So why would I even consider a change of career? Because this week I have realised just how brilliant doctors and nurses really are.

I was in a coffee shop in town on Monday afternoon, listening in to someone else’s conversation -one of the perks of my job – when a man at the next table collapsed. One minute he was drfinking a cappuccino and the next he was on the floor, gasping for breath. The two ladies I’d been listening to sprang into action. They checked his pulse and breathing then started CPR. By the time the paramedics arrived, he was stable all thanks to them. As they returned to their table, and their cold coffee, I complimented them on their speed and ability but they shrugged it off. They were both doctors at the local hospital, they explained. It was all part of their job.

Deeply impressed, I carried on with my day which included a visit to the hospital. Whilst I was there, another patient suffered a bad reaction to the drugs she was receiving and went into cardiac arrest. Once again, people sprang into action and yet another tragedy was averted. Once again I was impressed.

So if I had my time over again would I choose to be a doctor or a nurse? I’d like to think I would but I’m not sure if I’d be any good at it. You need to be a particular type of person to cope with life and death situations, don’t you? Although I am not someone who panics, I once did a First Aid course and it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. Waiting for the light on that dummy to flash and prove I was performing the chest compressions effectively really freaked me out!

My admiration for those who spend their lives caring for others is immense. It’s why I think doctors and nurses are the perfect heroes and why I choose to write Medical Romances. But even though I admire them so much, I don’t think I shall be making a career change in the forseable future. I know my limits!

882451_10151483220715909_2083063058_oRight, as a little light relief from a basically important subject, here is a photo of my granddaughter Isobel dressed up for World Book Day as Ariel. Enjoy!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Hot Docs!, Travels Around the World

My Ode to Boston by Lynne Marshall

My Ode to Boston by Lynne Marshall

Four years ago my daughter and son-in-law loaded up a rental truck and headed three-thousand miles back east to live. Emily would be attending graduate school for Nurse Practitioner and Anthony would begin Medical School. They found a place to live and learned their way around on public transportation and embraced their new city with open arms. Nothing could prepare these California kids for their first winter in Boston.

My husband is also from Massachusetts, though he lived forty miles southeast from the big city, so we were no strangers to Boston. However, we only knew Boston from the airport on our every-other-year visits back to his home State and relatives. Occasionally we’d venture up into the city to walk the Freedom trail with our teens, or to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, but we’d never gotten to know the city the way Emily and Anthony now had.

Once my daughter moved to Boston, our visits became more frequent. In fact, I finished writing The Boss and Nurse Albright while visiting with Em and Ant one spring in 2009. Since my daughter and SIL were in school, I had to learn my way around town by myself. Emily went so far as to write out instructions by rote for the bus and Boston MTA (metropolitan transit authority). Of course, the first time I got on the train I went in the wrong direction! Somehow, after the initial mistake, I managed to get around pretty darn well and visited museums and stores all by myself. It was a fun adventure. The more I got to know about the city of Boston, the more I loved.

Last year, when my husband and I were back visiting, I got the bright idea to place Dr. Tall, Dark…and Dangerous? in Boston, and the small Everett Clinic took root. I’m not going to lie, because I totally used my daughter and SIL’s duplex apartment for Kasey’s abode. Plus, I got to remember all the fun things I had grown to love so much about this gorgeous city by the Charles River.

I hope if you read Jared Finch and Kasey McGowan’s love story you’ll get a sense for the city, as I tried to incorporate a realistic approach to living and loving in Boston in Dr. Tall, Dark…and Dangerous?

Have you ever been to Boston? If not – is there one particular big city in the world you’d love to visit? We here at Love is the Best Medicine would like to know!

P.S. Emily and Anthony have both finished their studies in Boston and have now moved back home to California. Boston will always be a little more special for me because they lived there.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

What is Romance?

By Susan Carlisle

www.SusanCarlisle.com

Having tea in London with me

I recently received a questionnaire from Harlequin requesting I answer some questions for media proposes. I’m not a good questionnaire ‘filler outer.‘ I mess up on almost all medical forms in doctors’ offices. They always end up with big black marked out places on them. I’m not much better with IRS forms. Anyway, I wanted to do a good job this time.I filled in the pertinent info of who, what, when , where and why with no problem but the questions that stumped me were the personal ones about romance. I told my husband he was going to have to help me answer them. Now, before your mind goes to the gutter, that’s not what I was talking about. The question I was having the most difficulty with was this one: What is the most romantic thing ever done for you?

When I asked my husband what he thought was the most romantic thing he’d ever done for me, he just looked at me. The question hung in the air between us. Neither of us could remember anything. I finally came up with the time he cooked pheasant in wine sauce and dressing for me while we were dating. Not bad, but that was over thirty years ago!

Now, before you think how sad is that? I need to clarify. I’ve been married almost thirty years. We have four children. We’ve lived through some hair rising events together. We’ve traveled all over US and Europe together and still enjoy each other’s company. My husband still makes me laugh and I actually like him better now than when I married him. We understand each other. He lets me be me. I find that particularly romantic.

My book The Nurse He Shouldn’t Notice which is coming out in August is dedicated to my husband.  It reads:  To Andy, the Mr. Romance in my life. After what you’ve just learn you can understand why is a running joke in our house and between our friends.

After trying to remember the most romantic time in my life, I decide that I just have a different definition than the traditional one of roses, candlelight and fancy dinners. Romance to me is being supported and loved even when it is hard to do. It’s long term. Years and years worth. Romance is give and take, compromising and caring about the other person more than yourself. Romance is a man that will clean the baths because he knows you hate to do it.

Do you have a nontraditional definition of romance?  What do you find romantic?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Friendship

Yesterday, I met my friend Charlotte in town for lunch. We meet up every few weeks and spend a couple of hours together, catching up on all our news. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came home feeling relaxed and happy.

Good friends are one of life’s gifts and I am fortunate to have some of the very best friends possible, people who have been there for me through the bad times as well as the good. I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without my friends and don’t want to try.

I was thinking about that on the drive home when it struck me that one of the reasons why I love writing Medical Romances so much is because the heroes and heroines are “allowed” to have friends. In fact, the secondary characters in a medical romance play an integral part in the story and that, to my mind, adds an extra dimension to the books.

This is the point where I must hold up my hands and confess that I prefer my romances firmly rooted in reality. I like to write – and read! -about the sort of people I would hope to meet in everyday life. OK, so maybe the heroes are a tad more charismatic and handsome, and the heroines slightly more feisty, but basically they are “real” people, people I would want to get to know, people I would like as my friends. 

Obviously, everyone’s taste differs. Many readers love the idea of being swept off their feet by a handsome hero and carried off into the desert, and why not? I enjoy books like that myself at times but my first love is always a book that feels real, a book with characters I can relate to. 

So how do you feel? Do you prefer escapism? Or do you enjoy reading about people who could be your friends? I’d love to hear your views.

Jennifer.

Gina’s Little Secret: available as an ebook from amazon.co.uk  

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life, Women's Business

How I Write

Hello, and welcome to our new blog…

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from someone who’d just read one of my books, and had a question to ask me. “How do you write?” At first, it seems simple. The way I write is… The thing is, it’s not simple, and I’m not sure anybody would understand it because in trying to analyze it, I’m not sure I understand it. So, before I answered her question, I decided to look into various writing styles of some of the greats. Like John Cheever, who wrote in his underwear. Why? He claimed he owned only one suit so why mess it up when he could produce his desired results in his skivvies. The man won a Pulitzer Prize, so maybe there’s something to dressing way down to write, but to me, it would be embarrassing, if not distracting. I like comfort, though. Cotton jersey slacks, t-shirt. And I always write bare-footed. Don’t know why, but I can’t remember writing anything in my career with shoes on my feet.

But I don’t lounge on a chaise like Dame Barbara Cartland did. It was rumored that she gowned-up, maybe even donned her tiara, and reclined in style, dictating those 200 or so novels of hers to her troop of secretaries and stenographers who wrote down her words and put them into novel form. Can’t say I’d like the formal wear, but dictating to a troop of secretaries-a writer can dream. Actually, for me, dictating my novel wouldn’t work because I’m not too good verbally. Out of my mouth, I have a functional vocabulary that comes close to hitting negative numbers, yet my fingers have a vocabulary that amazes me. I’ve never tried dictating whilst reclining on a chaise, so maybe I’m underestimating myself.

Truman Capote reclined, though. He said of his writing habits, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping.” Reportedly, a lot of that sipping had something to do with sherry or martinis. A publicity photo I saw of Capote had him flat on his back on a rather lavish Victorian couch, wearing his trademark hat and a suit coat. No pants, no shoes. I get the no shoes part, maybe even the no pants, but flat on my back? Truman wrote with a pencil, I use a laptop and I’ll admit, I haven’t mastered the Capote flat-on-your-back technique. Personally, I usually fall asleep when I go supine, so when I write, I keep myself upright. Not on a chaise or Victorian couch, but in a recliner chair. Used to sit at a desk when I was a journalist. Still do when I’m writing an article or, recently, a non-fiction book. But turn the journalist Dianne DeSpain into the fiction novelist Dianne Drake, and it’s straight off to the recliner. Another of my writing quirks, like the shoe thing, is that I can’t write non-fiction from my recliner and I can’t writer fiction at my desk.

I do have an office, however – one without a chaise. Had it custom-built to suit me, with a huge desk that encompasses half the room. It has three sides, so when I slide my chair into the behemoth, I have desk to the front of me, and on both sides, with bookshelves built into my desk, aas well as a supply shelf for paper. And my desk has two 2-drawer file cabinets on each end. There are several floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and assorted other shelves in my office, all built to accommodate the space. Blue walls, blue desktop, everything else is white. Except my recliner, which sits next to my desk – it’s dark pink. I always write in my office. Anyplace else I get distracted. My office assistant, though – an accomplished, published playwright and aspiring novelist, writes at Starbucks, and he’s capable of knocking out a lot of manuscript pages in a public place.

Writing in a public place seems to have worked pretty well for an author by the name of J.K. Rowling. As soon as her daughter went to sleep, she’d dash off to the nearest café for a rendezvous with an odd little chap called Harry Potter.  Hemingway did fine in a coffeehouse, so did Fitzgerald. But Dianne Drake gets distracted by the people, the noise, the pastries…especially the pastries. So when she writes, she takes her phone off the hook, doesn’t answer the door, and ignores the distractions trooping in and out (sometimes called family members).

Nothing in that part of my routine changes. In fact, nothing in my writing routine changes. I write in the morning, edit in early afternoon, and like Stephen King, write every day, except holidays. King’s a little more diligent, writing on holidays. But unlike King, who sets a goal of ten pages a day, or Hemingway, whose goal was 500 words a day, I don’t write to a goal. I write until I can’t, then I stop. Some days I may barely meet Hemingway’s understated goal of 500 words, whilst other days I might succeed at achieving a King-like goal of 10 pages. But then, there are days when I’m definitely on a Drake fast track and might see King his 10 pages and raise him another ten. So I don’t limit myself, nor do I force myself. More like, I go with the flow, and it usually works out. I do love Hemingway’s infamous quote on his own flow: “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

So, how do I write? William Faulkner wrote with a bit of whiskey on board, I prefer tea. My dear friend, author Julie Rowe, likes to keep chocolate at arm’s length, and I go for the salty (as I’m writing this I have a can of dill pickle Pringles next to me). I write to music-classical, and without words or else I’m inclined to belt out that favorite aria when it spins to the top of my iPod queue (my first college degree was in music). I write in near-dark. Don’t turn on lights, don’t open curtains. I do allow my cats to climb all over my computers at will, but I don’t allow my dogs in the office when I’m writing. My office has three doors, two of them have to be shut, one has to stay open. I write in two-hour bursts then take a short walk. Oh, and I totally hit the wall at 3PM. No more writing, no more editing. That’s when I’m doing the social media thing I’m struggling to lean, answering e-mails, reading, researching.

There really isn’t a set way to describe how I write, except by saying – habit. I do it the same way every day. The way King does. The way Cheever, Cartland, Capote, Faulkner and Hemingway did. For me, same doors closed, same bare feet, same cats in, same dogs out. Habit is my writing comfort zone and I don’t have a desire to climb out of that rut. It works. And because it works, I get to write.

 So, if you’re a writer, tell me about your habits? How do you write? In fact, whether or not you’re a writer, what kinds of habits are vital to your day?

By the way, I’ll have another book out in May – The No.1 Dad in Texas.  No cover to post for it yet.  The book deals with a topic near and dear to my heart – Asperger’s Syndrome.  For more info, check http://www.DianneDrake.com.  Also, under the name Dianne DeSpain, I have a book out titled A Writer’s Guide to Getting Published in Magazines.  For more info, http://www.DianneDeSpain.com.

Until next time, wishing you health & happiness.

Dianne