Sunday, December 26, 2010

Unexpected Joys

Tiny hands, itty-bitty pink rolling pin, BIG excitement: our grand daughter, Ashland Skye, making her very first gingerbread cookies. Grandma CeCe (that's moi) laughed out loud after Mom peeled away the extra pieces of spice-fragrant dough, and our little flour-coated baker squealed, "There's a MAN!"

It was a wonderful day, with giggles, frosting smears, candy sprinkles (more on her face than on the cookies), and precious firsts. First cookie bake with grandma, first Christmas in our new California home. And, for me, an unexpected moment of joy: teaching Ashland to use her tiny rolling pin by demonstrating with my heavy marble one--a gift from my mother many years ago. It almost felt like she was there with us, Bebe (her Grandma name) CeCe, and Ashland, our eager third generation cookie baker. Huge lump in my throat, and big, big blessing. It was the perfect start to a wonderful Christmas celebration. And better than any costly, ribbon-wrapped present.

Were you gifted with an unexpected joy this Christmas?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Congratulations

I've SO enjoyed reading all of your comments--and especially the fact that you made gratitude "contagious" here on RX: Hope by sharing your thankful moments. A few minutes ago I put all of your names in the pretty red-rimmed Christmas bowl that was a gift from my publisher. I stirred them around, breathed a prayer, and . . . we have a winner:

Congratulations, Becca!

Becca will receive a copy of Critical Care, Disaster Status, and Code Triage, signed and personalized for keeping or gift-giving.

Again, thank you all--you are a blessing to me. And remember, if you'd like signed bookplates for your copies of my books, just let me know and I'll get them out to you. If they are for gift books, let me know by December 15th, so that I'll have time to mail the personalized book plates to you. You can e-mail me at : candace(at)candacecalvert(dot)com.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Thankful- for- YOU Giveaway

It's Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. Sales, crowds, folks lining up in their pajamas to be the first in line when the stores open. I admit that I have never done this--pajama shopping, nor any kind of shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Unless I run out of coffee creamer or oatmeal and am forced to drive to the grocery store. (Can't put leftover gravy in your coffee mug or green bean and onion casserole in your cereal bowl.)

But hitting the uber-crowded mall? Not my idea of fun. I'd rather stay home and continue to be thankful for my blessings. One of which is that I no longer have to work on Thanksgiving. I did that countless times as an ER nurse, grabbing quick bites of pressed, cold turkey roll while attempting to identify true cardiac patients versus victims of acute pumpkin pie overdose. Not always easy, trust me.

I'm thankful too (and still pinching myself) that we've moved back home to northern California, closer to our children and grandchildren, and that we were able find a house that (to quote Goldilocks) is "just right" for us.

And grateful that despite the hustle-bustle of moving cross country (and twice in 4 months' time) that the release of Disaster Status and Code Triage happened without a hitch--if you don't count the accidental "Merry Christmas" message that appeared in the March newsletter I sent from a Marriott along the way!

And last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful for YOU. My readers. For your kind and newsy notes, your thoughtful reviews, your willingness to pass the word (and bookmarks!) to family and friends . . . for the warm encouragement that makes me want to continue writing stories of hope. You are a blessing, indeed.
Today is Black Friday, and instead of going shopping I'm going to offer a Thankful-for-You Giveaway. Right here, right now: a chance to win the complete Mercy Hospital book series, Critical Care, Disaster Status, and Code Triage. Personalized and signed as you like. (Keep the books for your own collection or give them as a special gift!)

I'll randomly draw one winning name on Friday December 3rd and post it here.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below telling us one thing that you are grateful for this year. Let's share in each others' blessings . . . and make gratitude contagious.

*Please include your e-mail address in this example format: candace(at)candacecalvert(dot)com

Best of luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's Cookin'?








Under the trio of handsome cover guys is a snapshot in my new kitchen--a photo I tend to call "Cooking with Nick." Appropriate, I think, since the hero of Code Triage is chef-turned-San Francisco police officer, Nick Stathos. His wife liked to tease that he was a "tough cop with a whisk in his holster." And I . . . well I just like the way he looks in my kitchen. I also like the look of the top photo posted above: all three Mercy Hospital novels side-by-side. The photo represents eighteen months' of writing and--with the recent release of Code Triage-- the completion of my first inspirational fiction series. Such a great feeling!

I've been delighted to hear from so many readers. From those who have just finished Code Triage to folks who have only recently "discovered" Critical Care, and are eagerly "scrubbing in" for the adventure. Like this new Canadian reader:

"I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this . . . CRITICAL CARE is one of the best books I have ever read! The only good thing about me waiting so long to pick up one of Candace Calvert's novels is that I can now rush out and read both the second and third in the Mercy Hospital series."

I'm pleased, too, to see that online book sites are offering my books at discounted prices, perfect for "catching up" or for gift-giving. ChristianBook.com has the entire 3-book series priced at 33% off the shelf price, a huge savings! And, though I personally love to hang out in real-live "brick and mortar" bookstores, in this tough economy books are stocked in smaller and smaller quantities. I've heard your frustration at being unable to find favorite authors' books at retail stores. Having your local bookstore special-order the books is an option, of course. But if you'd rather avoid driving, crowds, disappointment--and have the luxury of shopping in your pajamas-- then online bookstores may be just what the doctor ordered.

If you have readers on your holiday gift list and are considering giving a Mercy Hospital book, I'm very happy to send personalized bookplates, pretty gold "signed by author" stickers, bookmarks and a hand-written note to accompany your package. Just contact me through my website and let me know what you need by December 15th.

And speaking of gifts: don't miss my Black Friday blog post! I'll be offering a chance at a special pre-holiday book giveway: one lucky blog visitor will win copies of Critical Care, Disaster Status, AND Code Triage . . . each personalize and signed. The entire Mercy Hospital series just for you, or to surprise a friend or family member. Look for details right here on Friday, November 26th.

Meanwhile, be sure you've signed up for my November newsletter (going out today!). I'm sharing three (easy but impressive) recipes, perfect for the holidays. And taste-tasted right here in my new kitchen . . . with Nick standing by.

We're loving the change of colors here in northern California, and the nip in the air as temperatures drop. What's cookin' out your way? Drop me a note, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Congratulations to my winners!

Thank you all for your enthusiastic interest in CODE TRIAGE. It was great hearing from you. The following names were drawn as winners via a random number selector. I'll be signing copies of this newest medical drama for: Kelly B., Rita P., Deb F., Roseanna C., and Jackie S.
You'll all receive an official e-mail from me. CONGRATULATIONS!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

AUTHOR BUZZ drawing November 7th

A big welcome to all my Author Buzz visitors--it's great to connect with you! The drawing for 5 signed copies of Code Triage will be held on Sunday November 7th. Winners will be notified by e-mail and names will be posted here. Thank you for "scrubbing in" with the Mercy Hospital series. And best of luck!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good Company Giveaway!

As you may know, I've just returned from a long weekend in Indianapolis--well, actually it's been 6 days and I'm still playing "catch-up." And blaming jet lag for as much as I can. Yet despite the yawns, jam-packed e-mail inbox, and bottomless laundry basket, I'm still smiling. Big time. Because even though I didn't fly home with a Carol Award tucked into my suitcase, the 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers' conference was such a winning experience. Beyond the valuable writing workshops, great hotel, good food, soul-filling group worship, the best part of the weekend was the opportunity to be in such good company. Like:


1) Meeting with my agent Natasha Kern, Tyndale House Acquiring Editor Jan Stob and Fiction Editor Sarah Mason. It's always wonderful to meet with Natasha, and this was my first face-to-face meeting with the talented editors, though we'd worked closely together and chatted on the phone several times. It was such a neat sense of "team" to be able to sit down with these three publishing professionals and talk not only about the Mercy Hospital series, but to also brainstorm ideas for new, upcoming projects. Good company indeed!
Natasha Kern, Candace, Jan Stob, Sarah Mason

2) Hanging out (laughing, staying up way too late!) with dear friend, critique partner and fellow writer (watch for her fabulous historical romance) Nan Herriman. She's in Ohio, I'm in California, and though we connect daily via keyboard and monitor, hadn't had any "face time" for 3 years. You can bet we did some talkin'! You know that kind of friendship: conversation picks up right where you left off. Such a blessing. Good, good, company.

Candace, historical romance writer Nan Herriman at awards banquet

3) Re-connecting at the book signing with Rosie, a reader and aspiring writer I'd first met in 2009 at bookstore signing in Texas. How great to see her now as a member of ACFW, following her dream toward publication! The opportunity to meet and encourage fellow writers is one of the biggest blessings of this conference, for sure.
Rosie and Candace

Speaking of reconnecting: Last year I met Dr. Richard Mabry at the conference--while down on our knees offering aid to another writer. We learned afterward that we were fellow authors as well as medical professionals--and that we were both writing inspirational medical fiction! (Smile) Had to be part of a bigger plan. Since then, we've each hosted the other on our blogs and kept in touch regarding our book releases. It was good to meet again this year, share a friendly hug, and then learn that: Our books were packaged together in the conference bookstore for a special sale. His debut medical suspense, Code Blue, and my first medical romance, Critical Care. Tied together with a yellow ribbon and offered as a "Bargain Bundle." We couldn't have been more pleased!

It's great to share a readership with this good doctor--folks "scrubbing in" for our medical dramas in "double shifts." Plus, I just plain like the look of our books together, like this photo snapped by reader/writer/blogger Carol Moncado. See what her UPS man delivered all in the same day:






To celebrate a great conference and such good company, we thought we'd "bundle up" again.

Offer two sets of books at the biggest bargain price there is: a Free Giveaway!

Bundle One: Code Blue and (your choice) Disaster Status or Critical Care.

Bundle Two: Medical Error and Code Triage.

I'll pick two winning names (via random selector) on Monday, October 4th at 9:00 AM Pacific time. *No need to choose a specific book bundle*

Simply leave a comment here saying why you'd like to win these books, and your name will be entered.

Good luck, my friends, and please know that you are always "good company" to me!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meet you in Indianapolis

Today I pulled suitcases down from the cupboards in our new garage--packing again, but not with strapping tape and cardboards boxes as we have done twice in recent months. This time it's for the annual ACFW conference being held in Indianapolis. And instead of wrapping dishes in paper, cramming office supplies into sacks, and lugging hubby's purple bowling ball, I'll be packing clothes suitable for workshops, my book-signing materials. And the recently purchased evening gown, of course. Still pinching myself that my debut medical drama, Critical Care, has been nominated for a Carol Award that honors "the highest achievement for published authors of Christian fiction." Goose-bumps on goosebumps here.

But the annual conference is about so much more than awards. It's an opportunity for writers (published authors, aspiring authors, beginning writers) to gather together, learn, network--socialize, support each other. Writing is for the most part a solitary (and lonely) endeavor, butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard--with the occasional foray into Twitter or Facebook when the walls close in. For the 4 or 5 days at conference, we do a 180 turn--non-stop talking, laughs, hugs, reunions, new friendships, brainstorming. Dizzying, exciting, inspiring--exhausting, but wonderful. I remember(way back when) at my first writers' conference feeling like I'd finally landed on a planet where everyone spoke my language! And being completely hoarse on the last day. As I am every time since.

So what sort of planned activities will be going on at the Hyatt? Great stuff like:

Keynote Addresses by best-selling author of the "Bug Man" series, Tim Downs.

Early bird session by stellar author, James Scott Bell: "6 Critical Success Factors in Fiction."

Editor and Agent panels--and opportunities for writers to "pitch" their current work in progress to these industry professionals!

Mentoring of writers by published authors.

Workshops on subjects like: "Creating a Believable Fantasy Storyworld," "It's Not a Dirty Word--Theme," "This Ain't Sweet Valley High--writing Young Adult Fiction," "Turning Rejection into Redirection," "Amish 101," "Feeding the Muse". . . and many more.

A bookstore, with scheduled signings by authors--OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. I'll be signing copies of all three Mercy Hospital books at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday morning, September 18th from 8:45 to 9:15 AM. Come on by!

The ACFW Awards Banquet (hence the evening gown) on Sunday night--a glitzy and glamorous dinner event run much like the Oscars. I'll be sitting with my agent Natasha Kern, and our wonderful "family" of clients, NINE of whom have been nominated for Carol Awards in various categories!

This year, there will be a LIVE BLOG FEED from the awards ceremony--tune in and catch the excitement!

One of my very favorite parts of this conference is something that sets it apart from so many other writing conferences: opportunities for worship as a group. Individual devotions offered by attendees, a member choir that leads songs of praise. Reminders that, as Christian fiction writers (and other industry professionals) we are all "on the same page" when it comes to our work. Awesome indeed. That, and the opportunity to encourage new writers, make this event the best of the best.

So . . . back to packing. Decisions to be made: Pearls or glitter with the evening gown? Bring the Kinko's poster of Code Triage in case the hot-off-the-press books don't arrive? Wear the red scrubs for the signing?

And what about the bookmarks? Last year I got patted down by airport security after the box went through the scanner . . .

I leave on Friday and I'm excited! If you're going to conference, I'll see you there (if we haven't met, please don't be shy. Introduce yourself; I'd love the chance to get to know you).

If you're not going this year, I promise to post pictures when I return. Hoarse, tired--and inspired.

Whoo hoo, Indy bound!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Interview & Book Giveaway: Sandra Robbins

Today it's my delight to welcome Sandra Robbins. She's a former elementary school principal turned mystery author--her tag line says it beautifully: "Mystery and Romance--A Deadly Combination." Sandra's work, both exciting and faith-affirming, has been honored with a Holt Merit Award, a Daphne DuMaurier final, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence final, and a Romantic Times 4-Star review. Most recently, her novel Final Warning was named as a finalist in American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol Award.

Sandra will share insights into the writing life, tips for aspiring authors, and a tantalizing peek at her newest work. Plus, she's graciously offered a signed book to one lucky reader--details to follow. But first I must share the amazing story of how we met.

It was nearly a year ago, at the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers' conference in Denver, Colorado--elevation 5,280 feet. I mention that dizzying height because it was the catalyst for our introduction. Which actually happened . . . on the floor. You see, Sandra was unexpectedly overcome by a bout of altitude sickness at our conference breakfast. And I (always an ER nurse) and several other writers sprinted to her aid. I accompanied Sandra to the hospital and we had an opportunity to get to know each other. We discovered we shared (among other things) a literary agent--Sandra had just signed with Natasha Kern. We were already "family!" In the end, Sandra recovered nicely . . . and we'd each made a new friend. I couldn't be more delighted. And now, let's chat . . .

CC: Welcome, Sandra! I love discovering an author’s non-writing passions. Your college major was in piano and that passion for music has continued throughout your life—even as conductor of an adult handbell choir! Music and writing, artistic endeavors that are both disciplined and expressive. May I challenge you, then, to find some similarities between playing a challenging piano piece and writing a novel?

SR: There are two similarities that pop into my mind right away.

I began taking piano lessons when I was six years old. One of the things I learned at that young age was that if you wanted to play the piano well you had to practice. I have often wondered how many hours I’ve spent in my lifetime sitting on a piano bench and practicing. The same is true of writing. To write a book, you have to plant yourself in a chair and spend hours writing and rewriting. My first three books didn’t sell, so I considered them my practice time as I learned the craft of writing. However, you never get through practicing. I realize that every time my agent tells me what I need to do to improve a story I’ve written.

Another similarity I see has to do with emotion. Musical compositions have words, phrases, symbols, etc. to mark how the piece is to be played. The performer responds to these instructions in order to produce the emotion the composer envisioned in the piece, and the audience in turn responds to the performer’s interpretation. A writer wants the same response from her reader. Her means of doing that is by choosing words, settings, descriptions, characters with conflict and goals, and dialogue that paint vivid pictures and produce the reader’s reaction to the world the writer has created.


CC: I love that emotional connection. Writing romantic suspense (or mystery) requires development of two plots, the “whodunit” and the love story. Your books also include a faith journey. How difficult is it to successfully interweave these three distinct elements? Any tips for beginning writers in that regard?

SR: The word “romantic” is very important for authors who want to write romantic suspense. In this genre, the romance and the suspense must share equally in the story. Sometimes the suspense will be pulling the story along, and at others the writer has to focus on the romance. In the inspirational market there also has to be that faith journey. In romantic suspense you have a hero and heroine who are in pursuit of a villain. Their romance happens naturally as they share the dangerous journey toward reaching their goal. To me it seems so natural to incorporate the faith element into the situation they face.

For beginning writers, I would advise them to read authors who write romantic suspense to see how it differs from a romance or a suspense novel. The goal is to combine the two into one work that will please readers of both genres.

CC: I know that when I was writing mysteries, my mind often wandered down strange paths: weapons, poisons and all manners of mayhem. I would occasionally ask my husband to assist in “choreographing” action scenes. How does your husband, Guy, handle being married to a “dangerous woman”?

SR: I suppose he’s gotten used to it by now. Our son is a policeman, and our conversations often leave my husband shaking his head. I run ideas by him and often read passages aloud to get his reaction. He is my greatest supporter, and I appreciate him so much.


CC: Nice to have that support--and a law enforcement resource in the family! Your grand children have a special place in your heart. And I loved the funny story on your website about how your mother got her special “grandma name.” What do your grandchildren call you? Any budding writers there?

SR: My grandchildren call me Sissy. It’s the name my younger brother gave me when we were children. It became my family name through the years, and now I’m Sissy to my grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and even friends of my children.

My daughter is a writer of screenplays, but she put it aside to concentrate on raising her children. Now that they are older she is getting back into it.

CC: (Smiling) Okay then, Sissy, I’m imagining myself as a dinner guest, sitting at your lovely table (and near your amazing china collections!). What are you serving?

SR: I love to cook, but I don’t entertain as much as I used to. I suppose it’s because I’m tied to a computer so much of the time. At this time of year, you’d get lots of fresh vegetables, like squash, okra, tomatoes, green beans, and corn. My family likes the poppy seed chicken I make. And of course, you can’t have a meal with fresh vegetables in the South unless you have cornbread and lots of iced tea.

When it comes to dessert, pies are my specialty. In fact my French coconut pie was the hit of a church dinner last week.

CC: French Coconut Pie? We'd better move on before I start to drool! I loved your current release, Mountain Peril. Will you please tell my readers about it?



SR: Mountain Peril released in April of this year. Here’s the back cover blurb:

According to an anonymous message, a young woman is going to be murdered in the North Carolina mountains. When a body is found, Danielle Tyler is shocked to learn it’s her student—the third person in her life to meet an untimely death. Is she next? From disturbing notes and roses left in her office to cold-blooded murder, someone means deadly business. Detective Jack Denton—the stalwart lawman who makes her pulse race—vows to find the deranged madman, but Danielle doesn’t dare let him too close. Especially when death seems to be the destiny of anyone she cares about. . .

CC: What’s next on the writing horizon?

SR: The Columns of Cottonwood, a historical romance, releases in Barbour’s Heartsong Presents Romance line in September, and it will be followed by two more in the series next year. These novels are set along the banks of the Alabama River just after the Civil War.

Yuletide Defender, a romantic suspense from Steeple Hill, releases in December. It is a story about a newspaper reporter and a police detective who try to stop a vigilante who is trying to spark a gang war in their city.

At present I am working on the first romantic suspense in a series set on Ocracoke Island, a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. I vacationed there a few years ago and thought the setting perfect for a book. I’m excited about this series.

CC: You've been busy, my friend! Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

SR: Thank you for having me as a guest. I appreciate the opportunity to let your readers know more about me. I am so thankful that God has brought me to a place in my life that I can fulfill my life-long dream of writing. As I’ve said so often, my prayer is that the words of hope and love He gives me will scatter like seeds and be planted in the hearts of readers.

CC: Hope and love--I agree completely. Thank you SO much for stopping to chat with us, Sandra. I look forward to seeing you at the ACFW conference in September (Indianapolis, elevation 750 feet. That's more like it!)

For additional information, please visit Sandra Robbins' website and blog.

To have your name entered in my book giveaway drawing for a signed copy of Mountain Peril, please post a comment below.

I'll draw the winning name on Tuesday, August 10th.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Moving Experience


In the past several weeks my blogging time has been spent assembling cardboard boxes (book-size, crystal-cell, wardrobe tall) to the zzzippp-riiiip tune of strapping tape coming off of the roll. Accompanied by grunts, groans, and the inevitable muttering of, "Do you know where the (fill in the blank) is?" And the occasional pointed quip: "Mmm hmmm, purple bowling ball from the 70's. Sure, sweetie, I understand . . . "

We have moved. Again. Which makes twice in 4 months. Probably no big deal by military standards, but sure feels like a bunch o' work to me. From Texas to the northern California lease house. Then to the new home we purchased MUCH more quickly than we'd planned . . . but is just perfect for us. Perfect, meaning that it meets our combined criteria: Killer Kitchen for me. Three Car Garage for hubby. Though there are plenty of other bonuses, the coolest (in my opinion) is that all of the streets in this particular community are named after famous authors! As in, "Turn right at Michener, pass Stevenson, hang a left at Dr. Seuss . . . " I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture. It's delightful and a little like being surrounded by old friends. Speaking of surrounded:

The new house also has a wonderfully lush and private backyard. With a pond, waterfalls. And teeny little frogs that hop down from the trees. To sit on the edge of the hot tub and stare at us, their throats vibrating like eensy green-speckled balloons. I like to think they are warming up to say something warm and charming. Like, "Welcome back home, California girl."

On the other hand, they could be about to squeak, "Duck, dummy, my big brother's about to land on your head!"

It's been an adventure, for sure. And though we're pooped, there have already been SO many blessings associated with being back to "our roots" --like being there when our baby grand daughter took her first steps. And being close enough now that our children and other 5 grandchildren can visit by way of a drive or short flight. Wonderful!

In the short while we've been here, we've been able to host a first annual Easter Egg Hunt, attend several laugh-filled gatherings with old friends, a touching Celebration of Life service for a nurse friend who passed away unexpectedly, as well as "be there" for dear friends going through a very difficult time. I have no doubts that moving back West was in God's great plan for our lives.

We've moved. And this time we're staying put. Anybody need any packing boxes? Strapping tape? Purple bowling ball . . . oops.

So, question: I heard recently that more than 50% of people live within 5 miles of where they were born. I'm home again. How about YOU?


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Congratulations Newsletter Winners!
















In anticipation of summer, my June e-mail newsletter offered a challenge: share the name of your favorite suntan product and, if you like, a memory that evokes.
I started the ball rolling by offering SEA & SKI. The scent of that lotion transports me immediately back to my teen years at Lake Tahoe, California.

Your responses were great: Hawaiian Tropic, Sea & Ski, even baby oil (I remember those times before we knew the letters SPF). But by far, the most mentioned brand of suntan lotion was Coppertone. And, in fact, all three names drawn for my book giveaway mentioned Coppertone.

The winners of a signed copy of Disaster Status go to:

ALIZA A.

REBECCA B. (memories of Kerr Lake in Henderson, NC--boating and cookouts!)

LAURA G. (The scent of Coppertone Water Babies reminds her of being a 5-yr. old splashing in the water at Lake Erie).

Thank you all for sharing summer sun memories. And congratulations to our winners!

Stay tuned to my quarterly newsletter for updates on the summer release of Code Triage and for more chances at book giveaways.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We have a winner!

Congratulations to "kykitty" --you are my drawing winner. Please let me know which book you'd like, Critical Care or Disaster Status, and an e-mail address. :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nurses' Week: A Salute & Book Giveaway

Nurses: The woman in the red scrubs is me . . . saluting YOU. Because, as you likely know . . .

National Nurses' Week begins May 6th and ends May 12--Florence Nightingale's birthday. In my opinion, appreciation for who you are, what you do (day in and day out, shift after double shift, through joy, tragedy and everything in between) should be celebrated 24/7 for 365 days a year. That you are there, that you care, is incredibly important. Ask your team mates and every patient and family member who has counted on your skill and compassion in a time of need. In my 30-plus years in the ER, I know what a blessing each and every one of you are.

So, to help celebrate your week, YOU, I'd like to offer a chance to take a break, put those tired feet up and escape: with a free, signed copy of one of two novels in the exciting new Mercy Hospital series. If your name is drawn in my book giveaway, you'll have your choice of CRITICAL CARE or DISASTER STATUS. You'll "scrub in" for pulse-quickening medical drama, suspense, humor and a heartwarming romance--with an encouraging prescription for hope.


The giveaway is open to all nurses. I'll draw names on May 12th, and notify the winner by e-mail. For a chance at a signed copy of Critical Care or Disaster Status, simply post a brief note below, telling me how long you've been a nurse and what type of nursing you do (or did, if retired).

I look forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile enjoy your week and your much deserved kudos. Here's to YOU. I'm raising my stethoscope in a salute to say: Thank you for for caring.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Meet Officer Nick Stathos . . .



From the back cover:


Dr. Leigh Stathos likes her ER shifts fast, furious and adrenaline-infused, “Treat ‘em and street ‘em” with no emotional complications. Life’s taught her a soul-rending lesson: nothing lasts forever, including marriage. The clock is ticking toward the end of hers. Then an unwelcome confrontation with “the other woman” begins a whole new set of lessons.

San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos never gives up, whether protecting his patrol neighborhood, holding fast to faith—or trying to save his marriage. Seven days is all he has to reach Leigh’s heart. But when a desperate act of violence slams Golden Gate Mercy Hospital into lockdown, it starts a chain of events that will change lives forever.

I'm grateful for these generous quotes from stellar authors:

"Talk about fiction first aid! Nobody writes a prescription for heart-pounding medical drama/romance like Candace Calvert. A gritty glimpse into the heart and soul of Mercy ER and its men and women in the trenches, Code Triage is an adrenalin high with professional realism ripped from today’s headlines and enough romantic tension to spike your pulse. An ER (exciting read!) experience you will never forget ... I loved it!"
--Julie Lessman, the Daughters of Boston series

"Candace Calvert paints medical scenes that ring with authenticity and drama, while giving us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of the people behind the stethoscope. This is great writing that’s full of faith and hope."
--Richard Mabry M.D. author of Code Blue

"If you need an infusion of hospital drama, Code Triage is just the prescription!"
-- Irene Hannon, bestselling author, Heroes of Quantico series


So there you have it, my official unveiling of the cover image, back cover copy, and first (gracious) reviews of Code Triage, the third book in my Mercy Hospital series. To my surprise, it's already available as a pre-order via ChristianBook. Since these things have a way of developing momentum very fast, I thought I'd better get crackin' if I wanted to let you folks have the first glimpse of this newest cover.

For those of you who have already read Disaster Status, it's no surprise that the hero and heroine of Code Triage are Nick and Leigh Stathos--you "met" them in that second book. But if you haven't yet gotten your hands on a copy of Disaster Status: no worries--you're not "behind." It's barely out of the chute after all, and Code Triage isn't scheduled for release until September 1st. So you have plenty of time to read the second book--and Critical Care is still available as well.
Three exciting medical dramas--a trio of hunky heroes. How's that for a summer reading line up?

A big thank you to authors (and first readers) Julie Lessman, Richard Mabry and
Irene Hannon for your kindness in reading early copies of this book.

Kudos to very talented Tyndale House cover designer Mark Anthony Lane II--you've done it again!

And to my readers: I can't wait to share this story with you!

So . . . Nick Stathos. What do you think?


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Congratulations, Linda!

A hearty congratulations to our book giveaway winner: Linda!
I know that you're going to enjoy your signed copy of Dr. Richard Mabry's debut medical suspense, CODE BLUE. Thank you all so much for stopping by to read his interview and leave a comment.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Interview & Book Giveaway : Dr. Richard Mabry

I met Dr. Richard Mabry at a conference last fall when--quite unexpectedly-- we teamed up to offer emergency medical assistance to a fellow attendee. Doctor and nurse side-by-side in much the same way we had done in our respective medical careers. I liked him right away. And though neither of us knew the writing journey of the other, just six short months later we've come to share a readership. Our books, Disaster Status and Code Blue released within scant weeks of each other as will our upcoming autumn releases, Code Triage and Medical Error. Two new series for fans of medical fiction--I couldn't be more delighted.

Today I'm excited to host an interview with Richard and offer a chance at a signed copy of his exciting debut medical suspense, CODE BLUE.

Before we start, here's a brief bio:

"After his retirement from a distinguished career as a physician and medical educator, Richard turned his talents to non-medical writing.Code Blue is his debut novel, the first of the Prescription For Trouble series, featuring "medical suspense with heart." Richard and his wife, Kay, make their home in North Texas, where he continues his struggles to master golf and be the world’s most perfect grandfather."

And a short summary of his newly released novel:


"Code Blue means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergencies she faces. It describes her mental state when she finds that returning to her hometown hasn’t brought her the peace she so desperately needs. Now two men compete for her affection; the town doctors resent the fact that she’s a woman and a newcomer; and the potentially fatal heart problem that results from one of her prescriptions may mean the end of her practice. But a killer doesn’t just want to run her out of town—they want her dead."


Now, I'm happy to introduce Dr. Richard Mabry.

CC: Welcome, Richard! I’m particularly fascinated with the passions of writers that extend beyond the computer keyboard. I've recently discovered an author who fly fishes and one who is an accomplished dancer. I understand that you are a golf enthusiast. That you’ve played at least weekly with the same partner for a decade—much the way writers often team up with a loyal critique partner.

May I challenge you then, to find some similarities between golf and writing a novel?

RM: Although golf is played in the company of others, in the end it’s a solo sport—you against that nemesis “par.” I feel sorry for authors who feel they have to outdo other writers for publicity, sales, even dollars, when they should be striving for their own personal best, no matter what their colleagues are doing.

Despite the seriousness with which some people take it, in the end a round of golf should be fun and provide a sense of accomplishment. Remember the good shots, forget the bad ones, and look forward to the next round. Likewise, an author should try to enjoy writing. Sure, sometimes we want to bang our heads on the desk as we fight deadlines and writer’s block, but getting past that can give you just as much of a lift as hitting a crisp 5-iron dead on the pin.

CC: Great analogy! I find it interesting that you chose to write your debut medical suspense from the point of view of Dr. Cathy Sewell. Any particular reason why you chose a female point of view? Were there challenges in telling your story a woman’s viewpoint? How did you handle them?

My first three novels were written from the viewpoint of a male protagonist. None of them sold. I did a little research and discovered that I had a better chance to get a story published if the protagonist was a female. It’s no coincidence that all three of the lead characters in the Prescription For Trouble series are women.
Was it a challenge? Absolutely. That’s why I give so much credit to my wife, who is my first reader. On a number of occasions, she’s said, “A woman wouldn’t react that way. Here’s what she’d say.”

CC: Your first published book, The Tender Scar, has been a source of comfort and inspiration for thousands of people struggling with grief and loss. I’m sure you hope that the Prescription for Trouble series both entertains and encourages—and reaches a multitude of readers! If, however, the underlying spiritual theme in Code Blue could positively affect (change the life) of just one reader, can you describe who you’d most want that person to be? What insight would you want that reader to gain from reading this book?

Early in my writing, Kay gave me this bit of wisdom from Christine Tangvald: Every story needs a one-word summation, a focus. For Code Blue, that word is “deliverance.” Even though Dr. Cathy Sewell tried to run away from the things that she thought had ruined her life, she couldn’t run away from God. And when she needed Him, He was there to deliver her.

CC: Put yourself back in a medical setting for these quick questions:

What hospital potluck goodie or nurses’ station snack is simply too tempting to pass by?

RM: Chocolate chip cookies. It’s almost impossible to ruin them.

CC: (Smiling) You would have loved mine--I was the official Cookie Queen of my ER.
Now, how about this question: You have scant minutes between patient exams: Hospital coffee (age undetermined)—risk it? Black, cream, sugar?

RM: Bad coffee is better than no coffee (although sometimes just barely). The older the coffee, the more cream and sugar. Fresh coffee? Just Sweet N Low.

CC: Do you have a favorite medical thriller movie?

I don’t watch medical movies or TV shows. I got enough of the real thing for almost four decades. As for movies in general, I like comedies and musicals, mostly classics that Kay and I watch on NetFlix.

CC: Because Code Blue is the first novel in your first series, you’ve undoubtedly been juggling publishing related tasks STAT—marketing the first book, editing a second, writing a third and (grin) answering interview questions like these. What aspect of being a newly published novelist do you find most challenging? Any unexpected surprises?

The whole process is challenging, just in different ways. And you’ve described the problems quite well—marketing while editing while writing while trying to have a life. Tough to keep all those balls in the air. I think what surprised me most was the need for an author to be so involved in publicity and marketing of a book. The publisher’s marketing specialist may have half a dozen books on his/her plate at any one time, while you’re totally focused on your project alone, so it stands to reason you’re going to be in the middle of the process. Unfortunately, this is an area with which most of us are totally unfamiliar, so there’s a steep learning curve to be endured.

CC: You wrote 4 novels and faced 40 rejections before final getting “the call” that heralded publication. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors struggling along that same path?

Don’t keep rewriting the same book a dozen times. If a book gets turned down repeatedly, take a moment to shed a tear, then consign it to a folder on your hard drive and start another. I’ve been told several times that it takes writing at least three books before an author begins to “get it.” Keep practicing your craft. It only takes one project accepted by agent and pitched to one editor to make it all come together.

CC: Care to share a favorite Scripture?

I tease that my life verse is Ecclesiastes 12:12 (“of the making of many books there is no end”) but truthfully I’ve come to fall back time and again on a Scripture that reminds me that, whatever happens, God is still sovereign and in control: “Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.” (Ps 115:3, NLT).

CC: When will Medical Error release? Will you share the storyline, please?

Medical Error is slated to release September 1, the second novel in the three-book Prescription For Trouble series. Here’s the storyline:

"Dr. Anna McIntyre’s life was going along just fine until someone else started living it. Her patient died because of an identity mix-up, her medical career is in jeopardy because of forged prescriptions, and her credit is in ruins. She thought things couldn’t get worse, but that was before she opened the envelope and saw a positive HIV test with her name on it.
Her allies are two men who are also competing for her affection. Dr. Nick Valentine is a cynic who carries a load of guilt. Attorney Ross Donovan is a recovering alcoholic. The deeper Anna digs to discover who’s behind the identity thefts, the higher the stakes. Finally, when her life is on the line, Anna finds that her determination to clear her name might have been a prescription for trouble."






CC: Sounds intriguing! Thank you, Richard, it’s been great having you here at “RX: Hope”. Before we end, is there anything else that you’d like our readers to know?

Candace, it’s an honor to be here with such an excellent writer of medical fiction. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share the story of my own journey. When I retired from medicine eight years ago, I had no idea what lay ahead of me, but God already had a plan in place. I can hardly wait to see what He has in store next.

Richard Mabry links:


I hope you've enjoyed getting to know more about Richard Mabry and his exciting "Prescription for Trouble" series. Don't forget to leave a comment below to be included in the drawing for a signed copy of CODE BLUE. I'll draw the winning name on Sunday April 25th, noon Pacific time and post the name here. Best of luck!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview & Book Giveaway : Leanna Ellis

Today, I'm delighted to share an interview with one of my very favorite authors. Here's a snippet of background before we get started:

"Winner of the Reader’s Choice Award and the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for her mainstream novels, Leanna Ellis’ first inspirational fiction release was the wonderful, wacky, heartfelt novel titled Elvis Takes A Back Seat. A former teacher, she now homeschools her own children. With her husband, two children and wide assortment of pets, she makes her home in Texas."

Her newest novel, Once in a Blue Moon has recently released to rave reviews:

The day Armstrong stepped on the moon has special memories for most Americans, but not for Bryn Seymour. It’s the day her mother died. Despite death defying feats, guilt has always pulled Bryn down time and again. But a perfect love shows her taking a leap of faith is the first step to soaring. But it only happens … once in a blue moon.

And now, it's time to meet our guest of honor.

CC: Welcome Leanna! I’m always intrigued to learn about an author’s non-writing passions, maybe find a connection between the two. Leanna, you were a dancer and even considered that as a major in college. Can you tell us a bit about that time in your life and how writing a novel (and pitching it to an editor) might be similar to dancing, perhaps a dancing audition?

LE : Hi, Candace! Thanks for having me here today! Such an interesting question. When I was a kid and teen, dancing was my passion. But honestly, performance was not. I was shy and very much an introvert. I much preferred creating a dance or show, doing the choreography. Choreography is telling a story through movement. I didn’t know anything, just did things instinctively. But I loved it. I remember when I would choose a song for class I was teaching I loved the music. But by the time I’d mapped out the song, choreographed the dance, and taught it to the class I was sick of the music. The same is often true of the writing process. When I begin a project, I love the story idea and the characters. Then throughout the writing process and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, I grow sick of the story and characters. I lose perspective on the story. But then after I send it in to my editor, often months will go by before I have to look at it again for line edits. Reading it again, I fall in love with those characters and feel the excitement of the story once more. I will say that with auditions, you are always nervous. If you’re not nervous then you don’t care enough. And the same is true with pitching to agents and editors. But as with everything you do, the more you do it the more comfortable you become with it. You still get nervous, but your confidence grows as you get better.

CC: May we take that dance analogy a few steps further?

Absolutely!

CC: I challenge you to visualize this scenario: You’re a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and you’re asked to choreograph four dances that will give us the feel of these four of your novels. How would you perform them?

What a fascinating question!

Elvis Takes a Back Seat
Well, of course, Elvis music! Love Me Tender as a waltz.
Lookin’ Back Texas
One of the songs that inspired me for that book was ‘let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon and Willie and the boys…’ and of course that would be a two-step with a lift or two for surprise that the judges would say, “Hey! You can’t do that!”
Ruby’s Slippers
On the Run by Pink Floyd (Dark side of the Moon cd) with the lindy hop. Might be a very bizarre but fun dance. Len would probably hate it! Bruno would applaud our innovativeness!
Once in a Blue Moon
Oh, Moondance as a quick-step would be romantic and fun filled with lots of twists and turns and surprises.

CC: Love it! I’m crazy about the quirky characters and dialogue in your novels—the way you balance poignant and heart-tugging emotion with great comedic moments. What (to whom) do you give credit as a source for your lively sense of humor?

Uh…God. I’m serious. Honestly, I don’t know really where it comes from. God reveals things to me about the characters, especially in deepening, poignant moments. I have tried to learn ‘less is more’ in those moments. In Elvis Takes a Back Seat, I didn’t know how a widow would feel in certain situations but He showed me. Amazingly, widows have read the book and said my heroine’s reactions and actions were very true to life. Humor for me often comes in the rewrite. I don’t think I’m naturally funny but I like to laugh (as you know when we get together, Candace!) and I like the levity it provides when dealing with difficult or painful subjects. It’s definitely a balancing act and I’m afraid I don’t analyze it too much but do things more intuitively. Going back to that dance analogy, it’s feeling the music of the story as I go along.

CC: The music of the story--great analogy. Your first published work was in the mainstream market. How difficult was it to make the change to writing Christian fiction? Were there specific challenges? Do you have advice for writers who feel called to make this same genre change?

I suppose it was difficult because it took me several years but that was most probably because I was on a journey and didn’t really know where God was taking me. I honestly didn’t set out to write in the Christian market. I wanted to write fiction with inspirational elements whether that was for the ABA (secular) or Christian market. God led me to the Christian market and opened the doors for me. It was all in His timing. I just tried to follow along and keep up. With Elvis Takes a Back Seat, my first in the inspirational market, I didn’t set out to write it for the Christian market but had spiritual elements threaded throughout the story. When God started pointing me toward the inspirational market, I tugged those threads more to the surface but they were always there.

For those who feel called to make a change, pray a lot. I prayed for about 3 years if God even wanted me to write anymore. When I had doubts and questions, I asked for confirmation. I still do that about projects. Remember, it’s not a destination but a journey.

CC: Great advice. You’re a popular and accomplished speaker and, in addition, offer writing workshops. I’m intrigued by the workshop called, “Me, Myself and I,” giving advice to writers on changing from 3rd person to 1st person point of view. Your recent books are all written in the first person. When did you make the change to writing in 1st person? Does crawling so deeply “inside a character’s head” ever make you, as an author, feel emotionally vulnerable? Was there one character in particular who was challenging to write in first person?

When I left the romance market to write ‘bigger books’ that weren’t necessarily focused on a romance, I wanted to grow my writing and stretch my wings. Since I had been writing category romance, which was in 3rd person, I did things that would get me out of the romance mode and one of those things was writing in 1st person. I had always loved 1st person. When I started writing, a writing teacher told me that writing would ruin my reading because I’d start analyzing everything. And of course, I did. But not 1st person books. They could sweep me away. So they still provided my escape reading. Many of the books I read in the secular market were 1st person. When I started writing in 1st person, present tense, that’s when I really found my voice. I still occasionally write 3rd person but I absolutely LOVE 1st. I suppose I’m so into the character that I don’t personally feel vulnerable. It’s usually after I’ve written a book that I figure out my personal connection to the story. For instance, after writing Ruby’s Slippers where my heroine has been ‘walking’ in her mother’s footsteps and her mother’s ‘shoes’ don’t fit her very well, I realized that I had actually done that myself. I became a teacher because I didn’t know what else to do (since my folks wouldn’t let me major in dance) and my mom said I was a good teacher. She had been a teacher. But teaching for a few years showed me it wasn’t my gift. I was capable but it wasn’t my passion. And I had to figure out what my passion was. And that’s very much what my character Dottie has to figure out as she walks down her yellow brick road.

CC: I love your blog, LeBlog. You share warm and humorous family stories, writing updates, recipes and book giveaways—great fun! Your recent Author-Pet interview was a complete hoot. We know you are an animal lover, so let’s turn the tables on you:
If I were interviewing your dog Hilo (aka “Hilo Monster”), how would she answer these questions about you?

What’s the one pet peeve about Leanna that (makes you press paw to forehead) and say: “You just can’t teach that lady new tricks”?

LE: Ah, thanks! I’m glad you like LeBlog. I have really enjoyed those author/pet interviews! And yours, Candace, was definitely a standout!

(Leanna's Dog) Hey! It’s my turn! She’s asking me! Me! Me! Let me answer! Why hasn’t she interviewed me on her blog? What’s she waiting for? I’m popular on her Facebook page. Everybody loves me, the Hilo Monster, as she calls me. I’ve done a good job training my friend. I poke her with my nose and she gets up to let me out. I jump on the dining room table and that gets her out of her chair pretty quick and away from her computer. I counter-surf and grab a letter or bill or even a pair of glasses and she’s up again. Or I get in the trash… She eventually gets me a rawhide bone. Frankly, she was easy to train.

CC: Speaking of tricks, what decadent snack would tempt your author friend to jump through a few hoops?

She likes peanut M&Ms. Anything chocolate. And I like chocolate too, even though she tells me I shouldn’t eat it. Says it’s bad for me. My daddy left some on the dining room table and I jumped up and sampled some myself. But I think I liked the chocolate Easter bunny better. And then there was half a turkey… Yummy! And the chicken wings I got.

CC: If you were part of Leanna’s caravan heading to kids’ activities, what would be your sport of choice? Would you pick her for your team?

I love to play basketball. I can steal the ball! She’s pretty good at dribbling and shooting. We play it in the backyard. But I can take the ball from her. She’s competitive so I’d definitely choose her!

CC: Yours is a Homeschool family—what class do you teach, Professor Hilo?

My job is character development and spiritual growth. They learn lots of biblical lessons from me like patience and forgiveness.

Oh, I love that. Thank you, Hilo! Now back to Leanna . . .

CC: Leanna, you’ve said how wonderful you feel when receiving letters from readers who have felt deeply touched by your books. If Once in a Blue Moon could positively affect the life of just one reader, can you describe who you’d want that to be? What message would you want that person to take to heart?

In Once in a Blue Moon, Bryn learns to take a step of faith. If one reader was encouraged to do that then that would be wonderful! I have already had wonderful letters from readers and that makes the writing process, difficult as it is, worth every step. When we take a step of faith, whether that’s committing our lives to God or stepping out in obedience or taking a risk, we often don’t know where that will lead. That’s why it takes faith, faith in God to catch us if we fall, to sustain us, to lift us up. And that little step of faith, which we often think will cause us to stumble or fall flat on our face, is actually the first step to soaring.

CC: An underlying theme of this book involves discovering the courage to “step out in faith.” Can you describe a recent situation in which you had to personally summon that strength?

Every book is a step of faith for me. I never know how I’m going to make the story work. I have faith that God will show me what I need to know. I’m taking that step this week as I plunge back into a book that I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it work. In my every day life, parenting is such a journey of faith too.

CC: Do you own an e-reader, Kindle, Nook, or . . . ? Why or why not?

I have a Kindle but I don’t use it as much as I thought I would. I like it for trips though. However, I took it to Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference a couple of weeks ago and go to the airport and the battery was low so it wasn’t useful at all. Frankly, I still like to hold a book, search through the pages, feel the weight in my hands, flip back to read another section again, put it on my bookshelf. If I’m not ever going to read a book again, then I don’t mind having it on my Kindle. But if I want to read a book again, then I want it in book form. But I will say, I played with an iPad the other day and it was very, very cool. Maybe one day.

CC: What’s the title of your next book? When does it release?

FACELIFT comes out October 2010. A ‘can do’ kind of woman, who runs her own business and raises her teenage daughter alone, takes into her home her ex-mother-in-law after a botched facelift. She turns Kaye’s world upside down. Kaye receives her own emotional facelift when she learns joy isn’t tacking on a happy face but relying on her sovereign God who has a plan for her life.




CC: And one last challenge, please:

You have a rare evening all to yourself and decide to curl up on the couch for a little escape TV—an oldie DVD. You make a bowl of popcorn, climb into your Snuggie and hit the remote: Your favorite laugh-out-loud “I Love Lucy” episode. Three questions:

What color is your Snuggie? RED! I love red!

What flavor of popcorn? Butter! I love butter almost as much as Hilo does. And yes, she’s eaten a couple of sticks of butter.

Which Lucy episode? We love I Love Lucy. My kids would probably choose Vitametavegimin (did I spell that right?), which I love too. Or they would choose Job Switching, which is the one where Lucy and Ethel work at the chocolate factory. I always laugh during both of those episodes. But since I’m home alone and it’s my choice--my ultimate favorite episode (and it’s actually two) is with John Wayne. When he arrives in Lucy and Ricky’s hotel room and Lucy’s in hair curlers and tries to cover her head with her handbag…well, it never fails to make me laugh. And then there’s the scene with Lucy and her foot stuck in a bucket of cement…hilarious!

CC: Ah, great reminders--that chocolate factory episode is one of my favorites, too! Thank you, Leanna for sharing these laughs and insights with my readers. I'm excited about gifting one of them with a signed copy of Once in a Blue Moon.

LE: Thanks, Candace, for having me here today! This was a lot of fun!

And now: enjoy this trailer for Once in a Blue Moon. Then remember to leave a comment below so that I can enter your name for the book giveaway. I'll draw the winning name on Saturday the 17th, noon Pacific time.


Leanna Ellis:



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Giveaway Winners!

Thank you again for your overwhelming response to my book giveaway and for sharing your favorite beaches. All names were put in a bowl, mixed well, and drawn with eyes closed. And here (tah dah!) are the names (and beaches) of the three newsletter subscribers who will receive signed copies of Disaster Status:

Terri H. --favorite beach is in Cozumel

Ann Marie--enjoyed Crescent Beach, Connecticut as a child

Sandra K--Lake Michigan (no jellyfish or stingrays)

Congratulations to you all!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sand in Our Shoes . . .


From Disaster Status:

The morning breeze smelled of seaweed, hosed asphalt, cotton candy and popcorn. Screeches from gulls blended with other sounds: laughing children, an electronic ding-boing, pow-pow-pow from the Casino arcade, the relentless whoosh and pull of ocean waves . . . and a continuing chorus of screams from the Giant Dipper roller coaster. If Erin kept her eyes shut a moment longer, it could be 1980 and she’d be perched atop her grandfather’s shoulders, her nose sun-crinkled, feet bare and sand speckled, fingers wonderfully sticky and tongue half numb from a frozen chocolate banana. Grandy’s rumbling laugh would blend with Nana’s, and Erin would throw her head back and add her own silly giggles. She’d be back in a time when she felt secure and loved, when life was simple and honest. Without threat of betrayal, heartache, death . . . or even poisonous disaster. But Scott’s voice hauled her back to the present, as effectively as if he’d thrown her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.

“Always the same.” He stared up at the towering Coconut Grove Casino, its neon-embellished fa├žade freshly painted in orange, gold and fuchsia. He clucked his tongue and looked back down, gray eyes giving no clue to whether he thought sameness was something good or bad. The breeze lifted a golden thatch of his hair, and Erin caught a subtle trace of citrus cologne. “Straight to the Dipper?”

“Sure,” she agreed, pulling up the hood on her zip front vest. The chug and clatter of the giant wooden roller coaster, and even the screams, would be a welcome distraction. Being with Scott McKenna was anything but simple . . .

Want to bet if any of those sensory details came right out this author's memory? You'd win--yes. Because though this book is a work of fiction, my recollections of Santa Cruz, California--its beaches and boardwalk (even the chocolate banana)--contributed to the writing of this scene. Some experiences evoke long-lasting memories. Beaches seem to be one of those.

So in my recent newsletter I asked my readers this simple question:

"What's your favorite beach?"

And I've been delighted with the responses truly surprised at the geographic diversity of beaches:

The Carolinas (North and South), New York, Oregon, British Columbia, Hawaii (Oahu, Hilo Hawaii, Kauai) Mexico (Cancun, Cozumel, Baja) South Africa, Guam, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, St. Maarten in the Carribean, California (North and South!). And LAKES, too: Lake Michigan, Lake Rebecca in Minnesota . . . and more--so many beaches shared!

And some of my wonderful readers shared more than the names of their favorite beaches. They, like my heroine in the Disaster Status scene above, have beach memories:

"There's something incredible about standing on the pebbled shore and looking across the frozen surface of the Lake."

". . . we were allowed to have fires on the beach . . ."

" . . . we would have a picnic with a lovely bottle of wine and watch the sunset. We have so many fantastic memories there. . . "

" . . . The Humpback whales frolic beyond the reef from December to May . . ."

" . . .we surfed with two manta rays, their big, black shadows gliding beneath us as we paddled furiously to catch the curl. . ."

". . .The sunrises in Durban over the sea are awesome . . ."

" . . . we were 'surf bunnies.' Love the boardwalk, the taffy and the old merry go round."

"Some of my best memories are on the beach with my grandpa. We would spend hours just walking the white sandy beach collecting shells . . . It was the best."

" . . . It is a peaceful place, a good place to walk, talk and relax. . ."

"I can still see the gorgeous white sand and blue water in my mind and it makes me smile."

" . . . has changed along with our family through the years, and given us a treasure chest full of precious memories."

" . . . Fresh water. No sharks. No jelly fish. No sting rays."

"I was five years old . . . made sand-angels one evening with the sun setting over the water and the white, powdery sand getting stuck in all the wrong places . . . "

"It is framed by swaying palm trees and swept with gentle trade winds . . . perfect for moonlit strolls."

And many, many more--I'm so very honored that you shared these memories with me!

And I'm excited to be sharing a book giveaway (signed copies of Disaster Status) with three of you:

I'll place all of the names from those of you who responded into my special glass bowl and draw three as winners tomorrow morning. I'll post the winning names here. Stay tuned.