Beginning January 1, 2013

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

Marriage…and Life Distractions

My day job is fiction editor. I often meet authors in later stages of life; kids grown, careers developed, financially settled. It’s then they wonder what they’ll do with their time. That’s what happened with me. My kids were grown. I was into my second marriage. (My first left me alone and broke. I’d been a stay-at-home mom for twenty-odd years.)

My new husband was encouraging. “If something happens to me, I want you to have something to fall back on. Pick something you want to do. Go back to school if you want.”

“I always wanted to be a writer,” I said and enrolled in a journalism course. I graduated and got a job with a local magazine. After eight years, I decided fiction was the place to be. Again my oh-so-supportive husband sent me back to school, a novel writing class. First novel, 35,000 words, Submitted. Rejected. Surprise! I honed my craft and produced 92,000 words. Accepted. Published and total shock. Stores didn’t want it…no distributor. First royalty check $17.00—for two years work.

Another novel published. New publisher, better distribution. But these books weren’t ‘returnable.’ Another year down the tubes.

What did I learn? Writing is tremendous fun. It’s emotionally rewarding. It gets great attention and accolades from friends and neighbors.

The moral? If you’re looking for a life-career, pick one that makes money.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

People Watching

I love watching people: young lovers at the mall, people arguing, children playing. I am fascinated with the way they walk, laugh, talk with their hands. The way they shop: the one who touches every item, the one who calculates each price per ounce, the one who recites brands into a cell phone.

Yesterday I was watching "The First 48" on television. (For those not familiar, it’s a show that counts down the first forty-eight hours after a crime and details the process of following clues.) The detective had family members (6 people) in a room and was announcing that he’d closed the case. “I brought you all here to tell you,” long pause, “we have arrested someone for,” another pause, “killing your father.” Six completely different reactions. All etched in my brain for future use.

My latest book, Final Masquerade, is a result of people watching. There’s a woman, about fifty, lives alone, in a car, on a piece of wooded land a few miles from town. She bikes through road slush with groceries strapped to the back. I’ve always wondered what circumstances caused her to live this way. I assume it’s by choice because she owns the land.

I attended a workshop where a detective outlined how our characters could evade people looking for them—by changing everything about themself. If they drove a Mercedes, drive an Escort. If they ate hamburger, switch to escargot. I imagined the woman from above—how she might’ve changed her life to end up living the way she did. The result is my character, Paige Carmichael. Age twenty, born to shop. She witnesses a murder and runs from the killer. She changes everything about herself. She doesn’t end up in such drastic straits but…

Well, someday I should stop the woman on the bike and tell her what a profound effect she’s had on me, and my character.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

Write What You Know

I started my first novel when I was nine (won’t mention the year, smile). The title was Murder in Egypt. It took place at an archaeological dig in the desert. It had a great cast of characters, twisty plot. I never finished the story though it captivated me for months.

In 1999, at a writer’s workshop I first heard “write what you know.” What the heck did that mean? I was a wife and mother; I knew plenty. But apparently not enough. Rejection after rejection came in. I blamed the publishers/editors for their lack of vision.

It was about this time another thought hit—okay, exploded—into my head. Could I have stumbled upon the reason for the unfinished Egypt manuscript? Could the fact that I’d never been out of Massachusetts have anything to do with not finishing a novel set thousands of miles away?

Throughout high school, the mention of reports and term papers brought sweat from every pore. I was bored silly by research. What got turned in was unemotional rote.

I got hired by a local magazine in 1998 and received my first assignment, to research a long-abandoned town at the end of a road that got more overgrown every year. “Damn, more research,” I groused. The librarian pointed me to, rather than the research section, a man who’d lived during that era. From that moment, the word research took on a whole new meaning. Everything in the world is there, you just have to look and learn, so you can…write what you know.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kate’s Christmas Miracle

by Allison Knight


Kate hated Christmas. Three long years ago, a week before Christmas, she’d wished her fiancĂ© Godspeed and sent him off to war. Last year, a few days before the holiday, her father had taken ill and joined her mother who had died before Kate had reached her second birthday.

Nor had she heard from Philip. Almost two years had passed since she’d received a letter. She had no choice but to move into Aunt Sophia’s house. Now that the War Between the States was over, everyone seemed happier.

However, it mattered not how she felt or why. Today she had too much to do. Aunt Sophia made that clear only this morning when she announced the house had to be immaculate for her soiree. Kate wondered if Aunt Sophia even knew what a soiree was, because no one in Albany, New York, held soirees.

She gazed at the pile of split logs nestled in the snow. They had to be stacked beside the fireplaces or the women would freeze to death in their ball gowns. She grabbed the hem of her long skirt and huddled into her woolen cloak. The sooner she got the wood inside the faster she’d get warm.

As she toted wood into the house, she grimaced. Aunt Sophia had declared she could attend this evening’s entertainment, but Kate had nothing to wear.

Sophia’s youngest daughter had offered one of her own gowns, but the two women were too different in size for the gown to fit properly. No, Kate wouldn’t be attending this party.

After lunch, she grabbed her scrub brush and pail of water. The foyer floor needed a good cleaning then she could retreat to the kitchen to help cook.

Long before the guests arrived, she’d prepare some warm soup, escape to her room and read one of her penny novels.

With part of the floor cleaned, she leaned back to rest. She threw the brush into the pail and rubbed the perspiration from her forehead. Much to her disgust, some hair from her bun had loosened. She twisted the strand back into the knot at the back of her head.

It reminded her of the times Philip had run his hands through her long curls. Now there was no time to fix her hair into curls. Nor was there any need, for she had no place to go.

She sighed and her heart felt heavy. This war had robbed so many women of their men. Of course, she and Philip never had the chance to marry. Perhaps if they had, her life would be different now.

With no effort at all, she could still imagine his smiling face, hear his deep laugh, picture his twinkling eyes as he described the escapades of the young soldiers under his command. She wondered if he’d known of her father’s death or if, because she was alone, she’d had to move to Aunt Sophia’s house.

“Oh, Philip, I miss you so,” she whispered and whisked the moisture from her eyes with her apron.

This won’t do, she told herself and grabbed for the scrub brush. Mooning over what might have been accomplished nothing.

She had almost finished when the front door knocker sounded. With nothing but a dirt path to the porch, whoever sought entrance would track mud and slush across the floor she’d just cleaned. Some unladylike words came to mind.

She looked a sight, certainly in no condition to admit her aunt’s caller. With escape her only option, she wiped at her damp hands, grabbed her pail, and ran for the kitchen. Polly was close at hand and could answer the door.

“I’ve nearly finished, but there’s a visitor at the door,” she said, when Cook glanced up from a pot of cinnamon apples with a questioning look. “I’ll have to finish later. Now, what can I do to help you?” Kate asked, putting away the brush and pail she’d emptied off the back porch.

“You don’t have time to help anyone,” Polly announced from the door to the kitchen. “The visitor wants to see you.”

A swell of fear clogged Kate’s throat. She knew it had to be someone coming to tell her where and how Philip had died. She’d rather the message go to another in the family. Of course, she was being cowardly, but with her afternoon memories still so fresh in her mind, hearing about Philip now would hurt all the more.

“Can you ask the visitor to leave a message?” Kate asked.

“No I can’t. He is demanding to speak to you. I told him to wait in the parlor. But you’d best tidy up a bit.” Polly giggled. “You look like a scullery maid.” She trotted away before Kate could object.

“Go on, child.” Cook nodded toward the back stairs.

Kate took an inordinate amount of time to repair her appearance. She didn’t want to do this, but when her aunt’s voice echoed through the stairwell, Kate knew she could delay no longer.

When she reached the main floor her aunt was waiting.

“In the parlor.” Aunt Sophia looked unhappy.

With her heart in her mouth, her steps dragging, she made her way to the parlor, now adorned in all its Christmas finery.

A tall man stood at the window, his face hidden in the afternoon shadows.

“I couldn’t find you. Why are you here?” he asked.

“Oh, Philip, is it really you?” She hurried forward and reached up to touch his face. “I thought you had died. I didn’t hear from you forever and then Father passed on. I had no other place to go.”

“I thought you had married someone else.”

“Only you,” she whispered.

“Then how does a Christmas wedding sound?” he asked as he pulled her into his arms.

“Like a miracle,” Kate said and laid her head against his shoulder. “A Christmas miracle.”


About the Author: Allison read a book she didn’t like. Despite occasional digs from her children, she wrote a romance. A retired teacher, she and her husband moved to the Deep South and when she isn’t watching for hurricanes, she creates heroes and heroines, then finds ways to make their lives miserable. http://www.allisonknight.com/

Author Interview: Lyn Mangold

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to have Lyn Mangold with us. Lyn’s first book, Warrior Woman, was released in print this year. She shared with me that it actually came about because of a dream. “It was just one of those dreams that stick with you long after you wake up,” she said. “Initially, I was just going to record it in my journal, but after I started writing it, I realized it might make a good novel. Of course, it changed quite a bit from the original dream, but that is basically how Warrior Woman came to be. It’s a fantasy about a woman struggling not only to find herself, but also falling in love for the first time.”

She knew she wanted to be a writer one day when her seventh grade English teacher required the class to write in journals weekly. Lyn discovered that she really enjoyed writing. While at college, her creative writing professor encouraged her to submit her works to Progeny, the college literary magazine. She had a couple of satires, a short story, and a poem published in it and, eventually, became an associate editor.

Lyn is a woman after my own heart—she told me she would describe her writing desk as “comfortably cluttered” and she likes to have her favorite CDs on hand so she can listen to music as she works.

“It’s not a standard form of organization,” she admitted, “but it works for me. Most of the clutter comes from little scraps of paper with notes and plot points scribbled on them. Whenever I get an idea for the story that I’m working on, I grab a pen and jot it down before I forget it. I like to leave the notes on my desk so that I can see them and, consequently, think about them while I work.”

It’s no surprise Lyn’s first book was a fantasy, because she told me that’s one of her favorite genres to read. “Books about vampires are my favorites,” she told me. “I’ve just finished reading Undead and Uneasy by Mary Janice Davidson and Just One Bite by Kimberly Raye.”

At the time of our interview, however, she was reading in a far different genre: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Lyn confessed to me that she’s very much a morning person. “I like sitting with a cup of coffee watching the news (or cartoons) as the sun rises,” she said. “That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy sleeping in occasionally, but I prefer not to sleep in too late. Otherwise I feel as if I’ve missed a huge part of the day.”

One question I enjoy asking authors, since they spend so much of their time typing, is if they have any strange handwriting habits.

“I tend to go back and forth between cursive and print when I’m writing,” Lyn shared. “I first noticed this when I was in college and taking notes all the time. Even within the same word I’ll switch. I might start writing in print, but I always end up in cursive. I suppose it’s because cursive writing has been ingrained in my brain ever since it was mandatory in the 2nd grade. Also, there are some capital letters that I just don’t like the way they look in cursive, such as T, G, Q, F, and X. I always write those capital letters in print, even if the rest of the sentence is in cursive.”

In person, Lyn is very quiet and shy. She told me, “In my experience, a lot of people tend to lump being shy and being a snob in the same category, which is not fair. I really just don’t talk much. I’m more of a watcher, though if I have something to say, I will. I just like to think about what I’m going to say before I say it.”

Lyn has two dogs that keep her busy and she told me a bit about them.

“Jelly Bean is a six year old Rat Terrier with way too much energy,” she said. “Snickers is the latest addition to the family. She is a one year old pug, and she’s still that curious puppy stage. Fortunately I have lots of bones and other toys to keep her occupied.”

On a more personal note, Lyn shared with me that movies have made her cry since she was a kid, and she doesn’t reserve her crying in movies for times when she’s home and alone. “When I was in high school,” she confessed, “I went and saw ‘The Patriot’ (the one with Mel Gibson). I was practically sobbing when Heath Ledger’s character lost his wife and then died himself. I guess I’m just one of those people who get emotionally involved with whatever they are watching/reading.” She also told me that no matter times how many times she’s seen it, “Braveheart” always makes her cry at the end.

When Lyn’s not writing, she can be found reading, baking, gardening, and playing the piano (as well as the occasional computer game).

You can keep up with Lyn on her MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/lynmangold.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beyond Elodie’s Dream

by April Hollands


Elodie chopped some carrots opposite Thomas, who patiently listened to her talking about her plans for the future.

“I’ve found a place to live in the Alps, Thomas,” she said, smiling warmly at Thomas.

“But why would you want to move there when there is so much on offer in Paris?” he asked.

Thomas wanted Elodie to stay, but he knew she had to follow her dreams.

“I love the snow,” she said, “and I love the way the sun burns off the morning mist to reveal the green valleys below. I’ve enjoyed my apprenticeship here, but in a month’s time when I’m qualified, I want more than Paris has to offer. I want a restaurant in a pretty village, and it must be made of wood.”

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and said, “You've told me this a hundred times, but what about the things that Paris offers that you can’t get in the Alps?"

"Thomas, you don't understand. Have you seen snow falling and sparkling in the trees? Have you felt the tranquility of the mountains?"

Thomas frowned. "I've never been to the Alps."

He thought they would make the perfect couple, but he loved the fast pace of Paris, and he knew that the mountains could never satisfy him. Besides, he didn’t know if she thought of him in any other way than the sous chef she worked with.

"Will you come to visit me in the Alps?" she asked.

"Of course. You can teach me how to ski." Thomas smiled, imagining his arms around Elodie's waist as they skied down in tandem. Elodie smiled back.

The month passed quickly for Thomas, who struggled not to tell Elodie how he felt. Elodie and her workmates celebrated her last day with champagne in a bar after work. Within a few hours, the other chefs had left, and Thomas and Elodie were alone. They flirted and laughed between glasses of champagne. Eventually, Elodie reluctantly announced that she had to go: she had a long drive ahead of her the next day. Slowly, they put their jackets on and ambled towards the door.

"Can we share a taxi?" Thomas asked.

"No, I live just a few blocks away," she said.

"Well let me walk you home."

Elodie smiled and thanked Thomas, and they walked arm in arm to her house. When they reached the door, he took an envelope out of his pocket.

"This is for you," he said. "Don't open it until the morning."

He kissed her on both cheeks, finding it hard to resist her lips, then gave her a hug goodbye.

The next morning, she opened the envelope. In it was a hand-written letter that said:

Elodie,

I've wanted to talk to you for so long, but the moment never felt right. I'm writing this letter with no plans of giving it to you, but I will take it with me tonight when I see you and maybe I'll take a chance and hand it to you.

I've loved you from the day I met you. My feelings have grown since then, and I will be lonely at work without you. I'm always lonely at home without you. I couldn't burden you with my love while I've been working with you because I know you have to follow your dreams. I would never want to stop you from opening your own restaurant in the Alps, and I hope I can still come and visit you. Just to be with you again would feel amazing, and I think you would like that too.

Take care of yourself and no matter what happens, you'll always be in my heart.

All my love,

Thomas


Elodie didn't know whether to be relieved that she hadn't imagined the feelings between them, or angry that he hadn't told her sooner. She packed the letter safely into her car with her other belongings and hit the road. On her way to the Alps, she thought about the letter and wondered if she should have stayed. She imagined them as a couple, then remembered her plans for a restaurant. If only he could share her dream!

Five months later, Elodie had settled into a small village with pretty views. She was excited that Thomas had agreed to visit her for a week. They had spoken about the letter over the phone, and they both wanted to see each other again. In fact, they had spent hours talking on the phone, and Elodie felt as if she had already started a relationship with him even though they had never kissed. She counted down the days until he was due to arrive.

A car engine stopped outside Elodie's house and she checked if it was Thomas. From her window, she saw him open his car door. She skipped to meet him and he gave her a long hug.

"Elodie, this place is beautiful," he said, "and so are you."

Elodie smiled at him and held his hands in hers.

"Are you hungry?" she asked.

"I'm starving."

After dinner, Thomas put his arms around Elodie's waist and said, "Elodie, I've waited so long to kiss you…"

She turned to him and he kissed her – the first of many that week.

At the end of the week, Thomas took Elodie in his arms.

"Elodie, I can see why you love it here. I love it here too. I love the mountains and the crisp air and the snow. And I love you."

"Don't go then," Elodie whispered.

"I'm not going anywhere."

Six months later, Elodie looked out the window of a restaurant kitchen, then turned to Thomas. "It's everything I dreamed," she said.

Thomas kissed her softly. "Let's make it ours."

About the author: April was born in Australia, where she began her career writing technical manuals. Itchy feet took her to England, then France, where she continued to write for a living, moving into journalism and using her spare time to write fiction. She is a chocolate-lover, who has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics, as well as a keen interest in observing cultures and human nature. www.lefrancophoney.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Author Interview: Sarita Leone

The Long and the Short of It is very happy to interview Sarita Leone, whose newest work Sandswept is available from Whiskey Creek Press. Sandswept is the second installment in Sarita’s Chincoteague Island Mystery series. “I’ve got to admit,” she said, “it’s much darker than anything I’ve had published before.”

I asked her to share a little about the book with us.

Sarita said, “Sandswept is the story of a woman who believes she will never find happiness, love, contentment, peace—all the things we hold dear—again. Kelley has been through a horrific ordeal and, years later, still carries around the burden of her experience. She doesn’t feel she deserves any pleasure from life but although she would rather just lie down and die, she can’t. Wishing herself dead doesn’t make it so. With little else to do, Kelley goes on with her life as best she can. When she meets a handsome stranger on a windy, barren beach her life begins to look up—but only in small measure. I guess everyone knows that happiness can’t come from the external world, but must be cultivated internally. That’s a fact that Kelley will have to learn for herself—the hard way.”

Sarita told me that she wanted to be two things when she grew up. She wanted to be happily married and she wanted to be an author. She said, “Not just a writer, because when I was a child I wrote in notebooks constantly so I considered myself a writer even then. But I wanted to be an ‘author’ because, in my child’s mind, having a book in a cover and available for others to enjoy was the sign that my scribblings were worthy of being read. I’m blessed to be able to say I accomplished both of my childhood ambitions.”

She writes every day so most of her days follow a pattern. “I’m a very early riser,” she told me, “so before the sun even peeks over the hills I’ve answered emails, posted on readers’ loops, and caught up on the day’s pressing business. Then, I write for three or four hours. When my husband wakes up, I walk away from my desk. I may get another couple of hours writing time in a few afternoons a week, but basically I’m done by breakfast.”

She also makes time for reading. Right now, she’s reading John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, “for the umpteenth time,” she told me. “It’s a redemption story and I love those. It’s good to see a character come to realize what’s really important about the holidays.”

Normally, she reads mostly holiday-themed books in December. In February, Valentine’s Day stories. And October? “That’s the time for Dracula,” she said. “I guess I just really like it when someone can scare the pants of me!”

Which leads us to her favorite author of all time—Stephen King. “I love the way he pulls me into a story,” she shared, “usually right from the first page. When I begin one of his novels, I am almost single-minded; all I want to do is sit down, open the book, and dive in. Every time he has a new release, I’m useless for the first few days.”

On more of a personal note, Sarita’s favorite pizza is cheese pizza smothered with fried peppers and onions with extra cheese and sauce made fresh from the garden. “My husband makes the most amazing pizza,” she told me. “I think he’s spoiled me for any besides his. He makes incredible calzones, as well.”

She’s a vegetarian—she said, “I don’t eat anything that had a face before it landed on a plate.” Then continued, “I’m actually very discerning (my husband would say fussy!) when it comes to food. If something looks weird, even though there’s no meat of fish in it? Count me out! Like I said, I’m very particular about what I put in my mouth. What I shove in my brother’s mouth? Now that’s another story.”

Of course, I wanted to know more. “I have never eaten a crayon,” Sarita confessed. “But, and please don’t tell anyone else this, I have fed them to my brother. Not in a long time, but I did feed him a crayon. Or two. Or six or seven. My brother is younger than I am and I guess I just wanted to see if he’d eat them. He did. Boy, was my mother shocked when she changed his diaper! So, no crayons for me. I’m saving them for my little brother.”

I also asked Sarita if she can unwrap a Starburst with her tongue. “I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I can’t,” she said. “I never put paper in my mouth. See? The whole picky eater thing again. But I can do some pretty amazing things with my toes. Does that count for anything?”

Finally, I asked Sarita how she felt about thunderstorms.

“I’m crazy about them!” she exclaimed. “I love the noise and the power of a good storm. Thunderstorms are a great reminder that even when we’re feeling our most empowered, we’re fairly inconsequential in the scheme of things.”

You can keep up with Sarita on her blog, http://saritaleone.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Author Interview: Patricia Bates

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Patricia Bates, whose novella Christmas for the Cowboy is being released this month.

Patricia told me she started reading her older sister’s Red, Green, Blue Readers when she was about four and, by the time she was in grade two she had advanced to reading Louis L’Amour and Nora Roberts. “Not only was I reading their work,” she confided, “I was beginning to copy it. I wrote my first full-length poem in Grade 3 and never looked back.”

Patricia’s debut novel is being released from Champagne books in March, and I asked her if she was working on anything at the present. “I’m working on three projects,” she told me. “Two historical westerns set during the late 19th century. As well I’m working on a submission to an Invitation only series through Blade called the Handyman series. It’s set during the mid 19th century in Spain and has given me a few challenges, but it’s a great deal of fun to write. I have another project in the planning stages, a prequel, if you will, to my debut novel Master’s Mistress.”

I asked Patricia how she developed her plots and characters. “Inspirations for my novels come from a lot of different sources,” she said. “Once I have it, I do a detailed outline—more like a point form synopsis of the first draft. The outline is done once and, more often than not, changes by the fourth or fifth chapter because I let the story flow—I don’t harness it in any fashion.”

For her characters, she knows them well through the use of detailed character profiles, because, as she said, “a flat character does no one any good.” So, her character sketches go from the basics to very detailed, in-depth topics. “I explore every aspect including their likes, stereotypes, sexual values to help me get in touch with the characters,” she told me. These profiles can include information such as religion, politics, favorite foods, colors, etc.

She shared with me that she’s been amazed time and again how her characters take over the book. “The old saying ‘the first hundred pages are the hardest’ is true,” she said. “I’ve found that with each book, each bit of learning I’ve done, the characters are starting to make their voices heard more and more clearly and sooner. I’ve got one project that’s been back benched because the characters won’t talk to me, and while this may seem a bit strange – I found that if I force myself to write when I hit a wall with something it comes out forced and flat – and not worth the read.”

When she reaches a point like that, or suffers from writers block, she tends to do a few simple things. “I try working on another project I have,” she told me. “Another story, research, or another creative project of some sort. If that doesn’t work I treat myself to an ‘author’s date’. I find somewhere that I can get in touch with my creative self again and take the time to wallow in that connection. It helps me to get back in touch with my creativity, and recharges my batteries for the rest of my life.”

Patricia laughed when I asked her if she were a multi-tasker. “Even when doing nothing I’m still doing something,” she said. “I’m usually writing, doing housework, and taking care of my son—all at the same time.”

On a more personal note:

Patricia’s favorite animal is the horse. “I’ve always loved their majesty and beauty,” she told me. “I miss owning my own a great deal.”

She admits to often crying during movies. “Whether tears of joy of sadness,” she shared with me, “I appreciate a movie that can bring me to tears. It shows the emotional connection that is so rarely made these days.”

When it comes to thunderstorms—she loves them. She told me, “The rumble and bang of the thunder, the streaks of light from the lightning—truly amazing and a beautiful reminder of what Mother Nature is capable of.”

And, finally, the strangest thing she’s ever eaten is chicken’s feet. “I must admit it’s an acquired taste,” she said. “I didn’t care for them at all, but in some cultures they’re considered a delicacy.”

You can keep up with Patricia on her website, http://www.patriciabates.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Author Interview: Kathleen Grieve

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Kathleen Grieve, author of “fun and sexy medical romance.” Kathleen’s debut novel, The Doctor’s Deception is available from The Wild Rose Press. She’s been an avid romance reader of all genres since she was thirteen and, in the summer of 2006, decided to turn her hand to writing her first novel. Taking the old adage to “write what you know” to heart, Kathleen’s books are in a medical profession setting—she has a good background for writing medical romance, because she works in a busy ICU as an RN.

I asked her to tell us a bit about The Doctor’s Deception. “It’s about a completely type-A heart surgeon who tells a little white lie to get the aid of a nurse to change his image,” Kathleen said. “My heroine is a quirky surgical intensive care nurse who worships chocolate. She wonders what it would take to ‘loosen’ the good doc up and has a great time finding out the answer!”

She is currently working on a new book, Dating 911, between a fireman and an ER nurse. She also has a sequel planned, called Dating Impossible.

Kathleen told me that in her writing, the characters definitely come first. “A scene will bug me over and over,” she explained, “with these two people in it until I write it down. Then I go over the details to get the scene right. After that, I think about the goals, motivations, and conflicts that will arise during the book. The sequel I have planned—I had to get that ‘scene’ out of my head before going back to 911.”

Her “day job” as a nurse plays into her answer for what invention she thinks scientists should invent. “Oh, I have lots of ideas about this one,” she said, laughing. “Mostly, they are all related to making my job as a nurse so much easier! So, to describe the inventions probably wouldn't make much sense to someone unless they were in the medical field. But top of my list is a portable device a nurse could dictate all her cares/notes into as she worked. Then she could place it in the downloader and VOILA! All her charting would be done! No more staying after work to chart after a busy night.”

Kathleen shared with me that she’s easily distracted by things going on around her. Consequently, she feels her most interesting writing quirk is that she has to have her I-pod belting out her favorite rock and roll music as she writes.

On a more personal note, I asked Kathleen what she thought when she looked in the mirror first thing in the morning. Her answer, “Another bad hair day! I have naturally curly hair and it is a mess!” When asked if she ever cried during a movie, she said, “Oh, my God! Yes! I’m very sappy that way.” And, an expression she uses a lot is “bummer!”

Finally, I asked Kathleen what advice she would share with a new writer who was just starting out. She told me, “Join a critique group and write as much as you can every week. It’s the only way to learn how to write well.”

You can keep up with Kathleen on her blog, http://kathleengrieve.blogspot.com