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?


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: