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.

HarryRevising

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.

rainy days and Mondays
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!

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

The Blessings We Love to Curse

red-berries

It’s been a crazy two weeks for me. Joel and I have been on an entertainment binge.    Been to a hockey game,  a Broadway tour of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ the musical ‘Cabaret,’ a Joe Bonamassa concert and a festival of Christmas carols.

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 We have another few things lined up to get us up to Christmas. And tickets to these were so easy to purchase – zip into a website online, pull up a seating chart, plug in the credit card and—voila, ticket on my phone. And when I say phone, I don’t mean the old-fashioned kind like the one that hung on my parents’ kitchen wall, but the one that gives me instant access to the world via the internet, keeps track of my grocery list, wakes me up on time, sends me reminders from my dentist and brings me a delightful good-morning message, every morning, from my sister-in-law who lives 1000 miles away. imag0973_1

Did I say internet? The vehicle that let me have a chat with a friend in India the other day, research the most prominent kind of pine tree in Montana for one of my books, and served as the device for a majority of my Christmas shopping this year? The same vehicle through which I bought a new washer three weeks ago and a brand new car two weeks ago? The place where I pay my bills, check the weather and watch movies, British television and Broadways plays?

It wasn’t that long ago that my husband dragged home this clunker of a computer, one with no internal storage and everything went to large floppy disks. “This is the future,” he told me. I didn’t believe him, but since he’d spent a lot of money on the thing and told me it was mine to use, I used it. Then upgraded, upgraded, upgraded. Got a laptop, a phone with way more capabilities than my first computer, and a tablet which my 4-year-old niece uses to watch her movies.imag0967

                My car is computerized. It has all kinds of neat little gadgets I’ve yet to explore. It syncs with my phone, gives me a rear-view back-up and I’m not sure, but I think it makes coffee. My television is hooked up to a speaker system that’s probably better than the speaker system of any movie theater I went to when I was a kid. And my refrigerator—don’t even get me started on what it can do. Yes, I remember the one that simply froze water and meat, and chilled food. But mine will sing me a lullaby if I let it.

 Yet, we are a discontented society as a whole. Nothing is ever fast enough. Nothing ever has quite the right amount of capabilities. In fact, the online response time on my computer had bogged down to a whopping 5 seconds, and I was pretty darned frustrated by how slow it was. I wanted that pine tree information, and I wanted it NOW! So, I called my internet service provider and complained that their service was too slow, it was wasting my time. They pressed a switch on their end, upped my band width and gave me a 2 second response time. I was so happy. Makes me wonder how happy I would have been in the old days when I’d have gone to the library just to research that one little fact. Back then, I thought it was amazing that so much was available to me in any number of books I could check out and take home. The other day, I thought it was downright awesome that I was given back 3 whole seconds.

This is the time of year when everybody is more mindful of their blessings. Friends, family, pets, good fortune in our lives, health. We do have so many things to be grateful for, and I am. But when I got home from a Christmas tree display (which I’d found online) I got a message from a friend I rarely see because she lives so far away, I turned on my computer to write this blog instead of trying to do it on a typewriter imag0925(because I can’t type on a typewriter) and I sent a lovely picture of a Christmas tree made from books to all the people who follow me on Facebook – a picture taken on my phone. And you know what? These are blessing, too. Maybe not the ones that complete us and make us better as individuals, but the ones that make our lives easier, and quicker and more convenient. I’ll admiimag0923t, I’m the first one to get angry when my computer slows up or my phone has to be rebooted. It’s frustrating when I can’t click right into Acorn and get my fix of ‘Doc Martin’ because something isn’t feeding properly at that precise moment. And heaven forbid I should be delayed from my Broadway streaming when I want to see ‘Les Miserables’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ But last night, when I took a picture of MacKenzie, didn’t have to wait for a day to see it developed, and was able to send it to everyone in my family within minutes, I was grateful for that phone. It allowed me something I wouldn’t have had so very long ago—the chance to share the best moments of my life with the people I love. That’s what this season is about—sharing those moments. And sure, they may take you an extra 3 seconds if your computer is bogged down, but when I look at the tin type of my grandmother from 1889, and consider the amount of time her family had to wait for that photo, and the one minute it took for me to snap MacKenzie’s picture and send it to my aunt 2000 miles away, imag0960_2I know that something we love to curse is really a blessing that enhances our lives every day, in little ways, and in big ones. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.” (Oscar Wilde)

From my family to yours, I hope you have a lovely  holiday season.

And, wishing you health & happiness

Dianne Drake (www.Dianne-Drake.com)

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                                                                     Out February, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Playlists & Such

I hear a lot of writers say that they need complete silence to write. No distractions. NOTHING but them and the voices in their head. I can write this way too, grudgingly, but I prefer music or at least something I’ve seen a million times playing in the background on the television as I write.

As book 15 was just accepted a week or so ago, I though I would share some of the music which was played repeatedly while I worked on various titles. Due to the beauty of Apple iTunes Music (Hooray because my memory can be sketchy on the best of days) it lets me know which songs on any given playlist that I listened to a lot.

It drives my DH a bit bonkers if I don’t have my headphones on and I’m listening to a song on repeat. 😉

Since book 15 was accepted, I thought I would start with the book that started it all, SAFE IN HIS HANDS. This was before I subscribed to Apple Music, but I do remember the song that inspired the book.

safeinhishands   The song that inspired this book was Adele’s Someone Like You. Safe in His Hands was a reunion romance. A second chance at marriage and love.

When I write about my Army Docs or Navy Docs, I always have to have Skillet’s Hero added to my playlist.

TamingHerNavyDoc

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And for my latest release Unwrapped by the Duke, even though it’s a Christmas themed book I didn’t listen to many Christmas songs, but instead went for something a bit sexier. Only fitting for that gorgeous hero.

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And the song that was on repeat for this book was Salted Wound from Sia.

Writers, do you listen to music while you write?

Readers, do the songs fit the books? Or did you envision something else when reading it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Bucket Lists

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Just recently on Facebook, there have been a whole sheaf of bucket lists appearing where you either tick or place a heart next to the things that you have done. To me, these mass bucket lists are bit weird. Some of them have things like, see a dead body; watch someone die; fired a gun.

???

Odd, really. None of those should be on a bucket list! These lists are about aspirational things, surely?

I have a few things on my bucket list.

  1. Visit Canada.
  2. Visit New Zealand.
  3. Visit Australia.
  4. Go on safari in Africa.
  5. Swim with wild dolphins.
  6. Write a bestseller! (of course! lol)
  7. Be a passenger in an off road rally car.

But there’s one place I really want to go. A place I want to wander around for weeks, just absorbing the atmosphere and soaking up the nature and that place, is Yellowstone Park.

If ever there is a documentary about this place, then I watch it. If I come across someone else’s account of being there, I read it. Avidly. I stare at pictures on Pinterest, I dream, I wish, I wonder…

And so I decided to set a book there. Seven Nights With Her Ex. I figured that if I was going to write a book there, then I ought to go there (at least) and research it properly. I told my husband, who was thrilled at the idea and then we mentioned it to the kids.

Big mistake! My eldest son suffers from really bad anxiety, panic attacks and OCD and part of his OCD and anxiety are the thoughts that something really bad will happen to us. So when we mentioned we were thinking of planning a research trip to a majestical spot that just so happens to have a giant super volcano underneath it (that’s apparently due to go off at any moment, but its late, like a woman with a dodgy menstrual cycle) he told us, in no uncertain terms that we were not allowed to go!

So, I had to make do with my trusty, well-thumbed, Lonely Planet guide to Yellowstone and Teton parks. Oh, and my Pinterest board!

Sigh.

Seven Nights With Her Ex will be out September 1st, here are the pre-order/book buy links below. And do tell me what’s on your Bucket List!

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

WAITING…

WaitingWaiting has always been the most difficult part about writing for me. It begins early in the process: Waiting for critique partners to read your pages; for contest entry results; for responses from agents after you’ve risked sending your baby out into the world.

Fifteen years ago, when I first started this crazy journey, agents would actually send rejection letters, most often form letters, but occasionally one would be written especially for the author, making a suggestion or two about how to improve on the manuscript. This was a rejection worth waiting for. These days, most agencies don’t even bother to respond. The new normal seems to be – no news means no. How rude, right?iStock_000077653867_Double.jpg

Harlequin is one of the only publishers willing to take un-agented manuscripts, which is great, but the wait time can feel endless! Waiting for “the call” doesn’t seem to compute with authors because no one ever suspects that call, do they? It always seems to take folks completely by surprise. And such a sweet surprise it is.

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Even after getting published “waiting” remains a huge part of the process. Waiting for the editorial revision letter, then waiting for the reaction to your post revision manuscript. If the book is accepted there is more waiting to do – for the copy edits, for the publication date, then, for the cover, the author copies of the book, release day! After that, the scariest waiting period of all comes – waiting for reactions and reviews for the book. Inevitably, a silent unease sets in as the waiting begins for the offer of another book contract.

Never a day goes by without some form of waiting.Woman in business suit looks on the hand of the clock close up

Why am I lamenting about waiting, you ask? Because I am deep in the process of waiting for word on a proposal for a trilogy for another line at Harlequin. After over 17,000 words in the form of the first three chapters, and another 11,000 in three thorough synopses for all of the books, I’ve yet to make the hurdle of getting past my own editor. Once that is done I will wait for the thoughts/comments/rejection (?) from the senior editor of the other line.

So these days, waiting is first and foremost on my mind. Thankfully, I have another contracted Medical Romance to concentrate on, but it is hard to move forward with my subconscious pulling me back to the waiting game for that other proposal.

At least I don’t have to wait for the gorgeous cover for my next book. Isn’t she a beaut? This is book #6 in the Hollywood Hills Clinic continuity that I was lucky to take part in.

HIS PREGNANT SLEEPING BEAUTY will be out in June (though currently available for pre-order!)

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512HRpHFjwL__SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Here’s the blurb:

Rescuing the runaway

When paramedic Joseph Matthews rescues a vulnerable pregnant woman left in a coma, he vows to be there for his sleeping beauty. Even though, after his ex-wife’s betrayal, everything about innocent Carey Spencer evokes bittersweet memories…mixed with unexpected desire.

As Joseph helps gorgeous Carey recover and build a safe new future for her unborn baby, can he gather his courage to give them the happy-ever-after they deserve?

PLEASE DON’T KEEP ME WAITING: LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT SOMETHING YOU’VE HAD TO WAIT FOR AND DON’T LEAVE OUT THE PART ABOUT HOW HARD IT WAS. OR, JUST SAY HI. WE LOVE IT WHEN BLOG READERS CHECK IN TO LET US KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE.

Until next time, make it a great one!

Lynne