Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Bit of a milestone by Kate Hardy

Kate HardySo my last few blog posts have been about my run for cancer research. I kind of hope you’d like to hear the last one in that – I did it! Sunday May 12. It was hot, some of the route was on a camber (so I walked that bit – otherwise there would have been a trip and a wrecked ankle), and I hate running outside. (I hate running, full stop. But outside is much worse than the gym.) 10k – or six miles – is a very, very long way. But, clad in my T-shirt and hat and tutu (!), and with my tech sorted out so I actually had music (I could NOT have done it without that), I did it. Took me 89 minutes (I have short legs so I’m slow), but I did it. And I raised £1325, so a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me. But the big takehome? I was listening to Coldplay’s Up&Up as I crossed the finishing line, in fact to the very last words of the song. And they were very, very appropriate: NEVER GIVE UP.

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So even if something feels like a challenge (and, as I’m not a runner, a 10k run was a huge challenge for me), don’t give up. Believe in yourself and keep trying.

As well as that, I’ve been busy with other things – learning ballet! I’ve rather fallen in love with ballet, and my local theatre sent me an email after Swan Lake asking me if I wanted to join their adult beginners’ class. Absolutely! I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous music, or the fact I have to concentrate on the teacher’s instructions, but after class I feel totally chilled out. (And then there’s the obligatory coffee and scone with my classmates afterwards…)

imageI’ve also been working hard, and I’ve reached another writing milestone this month with the publication of my my 85th M&B! A Nurse and a Pup to Heal Him does what it says on the tin 😉 It’s about a GP, a nurse and her PAT (pets as therapy) dog, and it’s set in my part of the world; and, although the dog on the cover is gorgoeous, the dog between the covers owes more to this one… 😉

 

 

 

And this picture was taken at the weekend in ‘Great Crowmell’ (aka Wells-next-the-Sea, my mash-up Norfolk seaside village). This is very much our happy place – the beach stretches for miles. The sky looks a bit dramatic, but it was actually a gorgeous afternoon and very warm.

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Where’s your happy place?

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Taking A Break

So, I’m currently in a year’s break from writing Medicals. I asked for a year off, from my fabulous editor, as there was a lot going on personally, stuff that I won’t go into here, but I asked for a break because I just felt like my writing brain needed one. Some time off to just chill, to not have to be endlessly coming up with plot ideas and twists and conflicts.

And so far, it’s going great!

Filling the Well, was a saying I heard the first time, from my great friend Kate Hardy. It was something she advocated for strongly and at the beginning of my writing journey I didn’t understand it, because I was so full of ideas and joy and enthusiasm. Only, as time wore on and I’d got my first fourteen books under my belt, I felt the need to take a break.

(Not me)

So I began reading. I began soaking things in. I binge-watched whatever I wanted to (The Haunting of Hill House was the first thing and currently it’s Game of Thrones) I walked the dogs on long, looooong walks, I breathed in nature, I listened to music, danced to music, did some cardio, some yoga. Took a masterclass. Anything and everything that took my fancy. And throughout it all, without fail, my brain kept returning to the thought that I needed to write.

(Also not me)

Plots arrived. Characters began speaking. Scenes formed in my head, like mini-movies. It seemed no matter how hard I tried to relax, the writing was always there. Simmering away, even if I didn’t try. I put my fingers to the keyboard three months into my break and the ideas in my head, didn’t match the words on the screen and I got frightened that I’d taken such a big break and I couldn’t write again.

But slowly but surely, and with lots of stubborn determination and practice, the words are better again. They match what’s in my head and I’m back in the habit. I’m writing something new. Away from the genre of romance and I think that was part of the problem. I was trying something new. Something exciting. Something that wasn’t guaranteed to be published and fear was in there.

Fear of failure.

I still have that fear, but I can put it to one side now. The words are what’s important, the STORY is what’s important and I don’t have to get it right first time. That’s what revisions are for, after all! What matters is enjoying the WRITING.

(Not my pen)

I’m enjoying it again. It feels fresh. Filling the well, was what I needed to get some perspective, to think about what I want to be doing, that will make ME happy, as happy was sadly lacking last year, due to many personal things going on. Losing my beloved dog, Daisy, was one and things like that make you realise your own mortality and what you do with your own life and how you make yourself happy.

So, I’d like to hear from you guys. What do you do when YOU need to fill the well? What do you do to make yourself happy? What brings you joy? Perhaps there’s something you do, that someone else could learn from. You could inspire joy!

And I’m all about the joy right now.

Louisa x


Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Happy FriYAY!

I got into the habit of calling my Fridays…FRIYAYs, especially since I do my Core class usually on Friday and the instructor is very positive and calls the workouts FriYAYs. Although, truth be told, by the end of it, I’m not feeling so YAY. More like pain.

But Fridays I do reflection on my week. At my FitClub we do Monday Goals and Friday reflection. I like the accountability with other members and I like that no one is perfect. Not even the coaches. That means a lot. It’s real and honest. It’s also made a huge impact in my life for the better.

It’s been 7 months since I started my FitClub journey and this is the longest I’ve consecutively worked out.

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Photo on left is when I started my journey. Photo on right is January 2019.

It’s been a pretty amazing journey and that 7 months has helped my writing in ways I can’t even begin to tell you.

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Didn’t think I would be able to do this. My Coach proved me wrong and I felt so amazing.

On top of consistent working out, I took two courses. Becca Syme’s Write Better Faster, which completely opened my eyes to my strengths and how to utilize that in my business and her more focused Strengths for Writers, which talked about my Top strengths and how to use those strengths to create a plan. Three of my top 5 were working against each other and I was stagnating. Strategic could see where my book needed to go, the whole thing laid out in my head, but Context wouldn’t let me move forward until I knew WHO the characters were, but strategic was like “Please, we work the characters out in the story” and context was like NO. Empathy was sitting there sucking in everyone’s emotions.

All around. Empathy was draining me completely dry.

So I learned to step away from drama and toxic people. I put my family first and my health as well, so that means putting myself first and working out. Consistently.

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Every Minute on the Minute. 2 Rounds. I almost died.

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Hmm. It would be easier to stay at home, but I’m here so I guess I’ll go in.

And all of this has made a huge world of difference.

Before my Mom passed away in June last year I had started a partial for another project. Got feedback from my agent and then Mom passed and I stagnated. Completely. I struggled through my next two contracted books.

It was SO hard to write The Surgeon’s Convenient Husband (May 2019) and Royal Doc’s Secret Heir (August 2019).

Then, with the mindset coaching, physical coaching and Becca Syme’s courses, something happened and that partial was finished in 48hrs. I read through it four times, made changes and I was possessed.

I sent it to my agent and waited for his feedback. He’s great for feedback and I trust his opinion completely. He replied that it was great and we talked about submitting it.

So, that’s why I wanted to talk about FriYAY! It’s been a long, hard journey and I’m getting there. There are things to be grateful for and I think FriYAYs should be celebrated more often. 🙂

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Out in May 2019. This book, was the first I wrote after Mom passed and it was a hard fought book I’m proud of.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Mysteries of Book Covers

Shuffling through my books the other day, I marveled at the way some of the covers are so different from each other, while others carry some of the same elements. I will admit that I know next to nothing about what goes into the making of a book cover, but I definitely have my favorites.

So it made me curious. What is it about a book cover that grabs your attention? Is it a hunky hero? A hero and heroine gazing into each other’s eyes? A fun and flirty image? Or do you  prefer teacups and doilies with nary a person in sight?

Anyway, I’m going to share a couple of my favorite book covers: one of my Harlequins and one of my indie published books (with special thanks to Fiona Lowe’s uber-talented son for his help with that one).  And then I’d like your input on what draws you to a cover!

First up is a book cover from all the way back in 2013. It’s one of the older style covers, but I truly love the image on it. The hero is just how I envisioned him and the cover reflects the title, to me. book cover 1

Next is one of my indie books. On this cover, I love the way the hero appears to be whispering something in the heroine’s ear. Maybe something naughty? Maybe something nice? book cover 2
So now it’s your turn. What do you like to see on a cover? What don’t you like to see? Or do you never judge a book by its cover? 🙂

The Writing Life

How do you do it?

So, when I first started writing and then was published and even now after turning in book #20 to my editor I get asked: “How do you do it?”

Or: “I could never do it?”

Or: “How can one place inspire a whole book?”

The last question was my brother’s after he found out that I decided to write a series of books for a Kindle World set in and around Yellowknife, after I visited him this summer.

My question back to that is “How do you not?”

I guess I just don’t get not having an imagination, of having voices constantly in your head nattering at you to WRITE. My daughter who is very logical and very math/science oriented doesn’t get how I can sit down some days and write 8,000 words.

She finds writing painful. I find Math painful.creative-writing-final-meme

Ssshhh, she also gets annoyed because I’m fairly good at predicting movies. I was completely right about The Last Jedi. Not that it ruined it for me (Hello Reylo shipper here), I just did a fist pump and my daughter glared at me in the theatre. When a movie surprises me I love it all the more. Rogue One was the last movie that surprised me and I adore it.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I was asked by my daughter’s school to attend a career night and talk about the whys and hows of becoming a writer. And it got me thinking way back to when I was a teenager, sitting in a guidance counsellor’s office and getting asked what I wanted to do with my life.

“I want to be a writer.”

And my guidance counsellor told me that was not a logical choice. I would never make anything of it and I should probably think about becoming a legal secretary or something. No hate for legal secretaries, I was one for many years, but still all those stories played in my head. I was a day dreamer and I didn’t to do that.

I wrote and drew every day. And when I wasn’t doing that, my head was buried in a book.

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I applied for Art College, because I did do drawing and painting all through high school and the Art College interviewer looking at my portfolio smiled and said “Do you write?”

I blushed and said, “Yes.”

“I would love to see it. Don’t give up.”

I ended up not going to that school because of financial reasons. My parents did try and I ended up going to a college to learn legal secretary work, but that interviewer was the first person beyond my father, who thought I could do it.

I guess the purpose of this rambling post on a snowy groundhog day it to tell all of those who are thinking of writing DON’T GIVE UP! Even if you get rejections, we all get those!

Don’t give up.

If you love it, keep trying. Everyone’s path on this publication journey is so different and that’s okay …what’s not okay is not trying.

And believe me, sometimes writing a book is like pulling teeth. My 20th was hard to write, but revising is going well. LOL So, you just keep going.

Now, for some fun stuff. We’re having a Valentine’s giveaway. You can enter here and the winner will be announced on February 14, 2018.

Also, if you’re in the Sarnia, Ontario/Port Huron, MI area I will be running a Harlequin Romance Trivia at the Coles in the Lambton Mall in Sarnia on February 10 from 6-8 p.m. Copies of Navy Doc on her Christmas List and the Surgeon King’s Secret Baby will be with me, plus Harlequin is providing a BUNCH of prizes and really fun game. I’d love to see you there.

You can find more about Amy here

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, New Releases, The Writing Life

Rainy Days and Mondays

Well, today isn’t Monday, but as I was writing this blog post, it was. And it was definitely raining. Most of the day, in fact. But, unlike the song, those kinds of days don’t “get me down.” I tend to like the rain. And sleeping to the sound of thunder is just bliss.

What wasn’t so blissful was the cold that went along with the rain, since we’re headed into winter, and the days are getting shorter. But what does make me happy is that I just got my story bible for the continuity I’ll be writing. And it’s a Christmas story. One of my favorite kinds of books to write! Did the editors plan it that way, hoping the festive lights and tinsel would light my muse’s fire? I don’t know, but I think it’s going to work. I’m very excited about the plot I’ve been given, and on Monday, I was busy setting up my chapters in Scrivener (the writing program I use). So, right now, it’s literally a series of twelve chapter headings and an expanse of empty pages. My imagination is running wild with how I can make this story my own.

Monday’s rain just added to my momentum, since I couldn’t get out and do anything. In fact, I drove to a nearby supermarket parking lot to get some peace and quiet, pushed back the seat as far as it would go and listened to the rain while I got my program set up. It was wonderful. Just me, the warmth of the car heater, and my still-to-be-written book.

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The view from my car on a rainy Monday

And I can’t wait to start! I just came off a frenetic writing schedule and finally had time to stop and recharge my batteries. So just like the rain that was washing the thin layer of dust from my car, it cleared the cobwebs from my mind too. I’m ready to write.

I’m in love. With my characters. My story. My life. Even on a rainy, Monday morning!

To add to my joy, I just received the cover for my latest book. I love that too!

How about you? Do you like rainy days?

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

Hero, hero, who loves a hero?

I am getting ready to write a new book, which is always an exciting prospect! One of a quad. And I am stoked. Because I’d already written a quad with the same fabulously talented authors, under the Hot Latin Docs! umbrella. We had a blast planning those books. And we’re already having fun figuring out how we’re going to link these new books, and most importantly…our heroes–hunky firefighters and paramedics who work out of the same station house. They also shared the same foster home growing up.

Did I mention how excited I am?

So, in planning my particular hero, Deakin Patera, I am having to figure out what makes this guy tick. Who is Deakin Patera? I’m discovering him little by little. And that makes me curious about what kind of heroes readers connect with.

I write a lot of playboys, but one of my favorite types of heroes is the angsty, broody, wounded, damaged, scarred–you get the picture–hero. Sometimes I dive so deep into the angst, though, that my hero has a hard time holding his breath long enough to reach the surface and retrieve his happily-ever-after. So this time, I will plan carefully (famous last words!).

Do you like angsty heroes? Or are you more of a fan of a hero with witty comebacks? Swashbucklers? Playboys? Bad boys? What kind of hero makes you go weak in the knees? I really want to know!

In the meantime, here are the covers from our Hot Latin Docs! quad, written by Annie O’Neill, Amy Ruttan, me, and Amalie Berlin. It was hard to leave those heroes behind, but I know I’m going to love this new cast of characters just as much!