Thank you for having me here on Manic Readers!
Thank you for taking the time to visit.
Did you write at all (fiction) during those years in health care delivery and research or was it going into academia that spurred that voice again?
During the early years, I was a newlywed working 80 hour weeks, visiting my husband, a surgical resident, in the ER when he worked 24 hour shifts and the ICU when he worked 48 hour shifts. I hardly had time to breathe, much less write. When we moved to Chicago, I tried to stay home and get pregnant, to no avail. We had been trying for five years. Of course, as soon as I gave up and took a job in downtown Chicago, I became pregnant. God laughs at our plans, remember that. I worked full time, commuting over an hour one way to work, had a little boy, and a husband who worked 12-14 hour days–and I started my PhD program. Still no time to breathe. When we moved to Baltimore, I was able to press the pause button to work on my dissertation for my PhD. It was my 40th birthday gift to me. My family was thrilled that I didn’t want to go to law school after that. Academia, contrary to what many think, did not allow me to slow down. It did, however, allow me to commute a shorter time to work. I completed a post-doc in kids mental health services at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene, worked in pediatric research for 2 years after that, then took an assistant professorship at a state university, where I worked my tail off to get published or perish for tenure and promotion. At age 52, I was a tenured full professor. I loved my job, but that itch to write fiction hit me. My mid-life crisis, if you will, was running away to our second home in Florida to write my first novel. I haven’t stopped writing fiction since then.
Wow. I can definitely see why you waited.
Why deep sea fishing? Is it the appeal of being on that vast expanse of water or the challenge?
Fishing is hours of boredom interspersed with minutes of an adrenaline rush when you catch a fish. Bringing a fish to the boat can be physically challenging, especially if it’s a sting ray, a shark, a cobia, or as happened the last time we went fishing, an alligator gar. We catch and release, by the way, we do not kill the fish. I’ve had bruises on my belly from the rod when the big guys fight. In the slow, drowsy time, my imagination likes to come out to play. I’ve learned to keep a pad and pen with me on the boat to write down my ideas before the fish distract me. It’s amazing what will come to you when you’re not too focused on writing.
Have you considered writing spoofy horror, a romantic comedy or humorous mystery? Is there a genre you’d like to delve into but haven’t?
I actually started out writing mystery and horror short stories. I won a couple of small awards in those genres. I try to inject humor into all of my stories, to give me and the reader a relief from the relentless tension and suspense. In DESIRE AND DECEPTION, one of my favorite comic relief characters is Gert, the elderly mother-in-law of one of my main characters. Modeled after my own mother-in-law, right down to her gold lamé pants, Gert is a brassy New Yorker who cuts through crap and tells it like it is. In KILLER KISSES, for example, in AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, in the midst of emotionally wrenching scenes, I interjected little boys to break the tension. Little boys have no internal censors; they just say whatever comes to their minds. The hero in the story picks up on the fact that the heroine seems to collect naughty little boys, including himself. I like to use the young and old to play these parts because they have wisdom, innocence and humor to offer to the stories.
Really? Gold lamé pants? Too funny…
The one genre that I’d like to try my hand at (some day) is Young Adult. I’m reading more YA now. The genre is growing in number of authors, books produced, popularity, and range of topics. What was once taboo for YA is now acceptable for a given age range. We have a lot of creative, innovative writers producing astonishing tales that take my breath away. I am in awe of them.
Can you tell us about KILLER KISSES?
I started writing these stories in 2006 and published the first one, CATASTROPHE, in 2007. About one came out each year until 2010. About that time, I asked for the seven stories to be put together in an anthology, but for business reasons, the publisher declined. I really wanted a collection of my short stories, so when my contracts expired, I asked for my rights back so I could re-issue them under one cover. The stories range from short, short to novella length and from contemporary and chaste to paranormal and spicy.
In Cat Nips: Catastrophe, a crazy cat lady is evicted by her drunken landlord and the lives of her cats are at stake. Will she and her rescues wind up on the street? Or will a secret admirer find a better home for everyone?
In Hot Lips: Lake Placid Cure, a woman finds her husband in a compromising position–again. Looking to recover her dignity, she sets out for a medi-spa, encounters a murder mystery and discovers that miracles still happen inLake Placid.
In French Kiss:Pigmalion, a speech pathology graduate student needs one more subject for her research project to graduate. She runs into a hot guy with a heavy accent and tries to recruit him into her study. Will she teach him the language of love?
In Sizzling Smooch: Bonded for Life , a Mexican artist runs for her life to hide in the little town where she graduated from high school. She’s convinced no one will find her there. But a boy with a high school crush on her grew up to be a hunky cop–and he has her in his cross hairs.
In Delectable and Delicious: An Inn Decent Proposal, a chef and a hotelier join forces at a foreclosure auction on an old inn and outbid a small time hood. The thug doesn’t like being on the losing end of the deal. Things heat up outside and in the bedroom. Can the couple make a go of it? Or will the hood destroy their dream?
In Release Your Inner Wild Women: Kiss of the Silver Wolf, a young woman searches for the truth about her brother’s debilitating disease. An intriguing man with silver hair and a penchant for long night runs insists she’s his life mate. How does this sexy man figure into her family secrets?
DESIRE AND DECEPTION?
This book is a good example of the power of fishing. The captain in the story is real, as is the fishing scene, right up until the heroine pulls up the bloated corpse of her boss.
Here’s the story behind the story. Having been in higher education for close to two decades, I was always amused by the perception we professors who worked within the ivory tower were staid, pedantic, yes, dull, dull, dull as dirt. While admittedly, there are some who do fit that bill and have died on the job and just don’t know it yet, there are lots of professors who defy that stereotype.
In writing DESIRE AND DECEPTION, I wanted to tell a sexy suspenseful tale about smart, powerful women and the men who love them. I wrote about society’s expectations of what a woman should be versus what a woman wants to be. And since the standing advice to writers is to “write what you know,” I then placed these characters into the setting of a rigidly hierarchical academic world where tenure and promotion are the duo brass rings. With Isabel and Sarah chattering at me the entire time, DESIRE AND DECEPTION is an erotic romantic suspense tale that practically wrote itself.
The only problem I had with the book was getting an agent, editor or publisher to give it a read because it had “too much sex” in it.
“Seriously?” I asked, “Too much sex?” I couldn’t take it out. The sex was integral to the telling of the tale. Isabel is a man eating sex goddess on the prowl and Sarah is a newlywed trying to get pregnant. Hello? Sex, anyone? I was not taking it out. Then at the suggestion of another romance writer and friend, I attended the Red Sage Publishing session at Romance Writers of America.
After the session, I introduced myself to Alexandria Kendall, CEO, of Red Sage, and said, “I have this book–but everyone tells me it has too much sex.”
Alexandria’s eyes lit up and she said, “Send it to me!” The funny part is when I was offered a contract, it was contingent on–ready for this? Adding more sex. There wasn’t enough for an erotic reading audience. Well, heck, I could do that! And I did.
I am delighted that Red Sage gave my story a chance and that Isabel, Sarah, Sean, Dan and all the other characters finally had home. Someone else liked the story, because DESIRE AND DECEPTION was an RT Nominee for Best Erotic Fiction in 2011.
Will you stop writing the non-fiction health care based books or do they satisfy a different creative urge?
I like to tell people that both sides of my brain need to have their time out to play. My logical, scientific side needs an opportunity to contribute to the health care discipline. And, the voices make me do the novels. Just kidding! I use my scientific side a lot in my novels and my creative side in my non-fiction work. In one of my recent blogs, This is Your Brain on Fiction: Why Teaching with Case Studies Works, I argue that we need to be more like creative writers in our non-fiction case studies, to pull the student into the experience and give her the opportunity to live in that world. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s about living in the other world, the story world. This spring, my new text, CASES IN HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT, written along with Nancy H. Shanks and my husband,DaleBuchbinder, will be released with 101 cases, short stories, ready to engage students in the world of health care management.
Does your muse require anything to come and hang around for a while?
My muse sometimes taunts me in my sleep, knowing full well that I have a pen and pad in my nightstand. She will wake me up and force me to jot stuff down, story fixes, outrageous titles, sexy scenes. She is a naughty minx who likes to catch me when my guard is down, like when I’m fishing. She also requires me to sit in the chair and write, even if it’s garbage. Words on a page can be fixed. My last book, OBSESSION, flew out of my fingers when I was locked in a hotel room on a business trip with my husband. He went to meetings, I wrote. I probably need to be locked in a hotel room at least once a book.
Do you dream up plots and characters while golfing or concentrate wholly on the game?
I am a terrible golfer. Mostly, I’m a good sport who rides along and makes my friends look like golf pros. Like fishing, golf has long pauses between adrenaline rushes. I keep a pen and pad with me on the golf cart, too.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
You are asking me to choose between my children. I love the research (seriously, ask me about Mexican drug cartels and religious cults, please!) and I love the world building. I also love the words, playing with them, creating scenes, bringing my characters to life, and giving them depth. And, I like revisions, but only after I haven’t seen the story for a bit. Then I go back and say, “Oh, did I write that?” Or, “Mmm. No. That isn’t working.” Or, “I need more internal dialogue here.” And I love getting feedback from my alpha and beta readers. That is the time when the rubber hits the road and I get to see if the story works. My husband is my alpha reader and my writing peeps are my beta readers. Of course I love it when my work is accepted and I’m offered a contract.
Being in the middle of a great scene, fingers on fire and realizing I have to go or do something else. The good news is that actually motivates me to get back to the story sooner, because I want to see how the scene works out.
Waiting, waiting, waiting for feedback at any point in the process. I know some writers say they hate rejections, but I’ve learned to embrace them as part of the process. It is feedback. A good rejection is when you get a response that details why they didn’t want your work. Then you know what you have to adjust either the story or the target market.
The research. Now with the Internet, what would have required me to travel to remote locations to get details of say, Chihuahua, Mexico, I can go online and find photos, maps, tours, videos, food, plants, and anything else you could want for the setting. Likewise, finding valid written and video resources for obscure topics is a zillion times easier than it was when I was growing up in the Stone Age. Hooray for technology and the Internet, the writer’s best friend.
What can readers look forward to next?
I have a 3rd book under review with a publisher (fingers crossed). It is a paranormal romance. In OBSESSION, a recovering addict must work with a Mexican drug lord to rescue her one-year old son from the clutches of a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One.
And, I’ve written 8,000 words for KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN, the sequel to KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF. KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN is the story of the epic romance the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the impact of their relationship on their descendant, Eliana Solomon. It will be a paranormal romance; it will also be my magnum opus. I’ve been researching this story for 2 years. This baby wants to be born now.
The Queen of Sheba & King Solomon? Gracious, that does sound amazing. Love those kind of books & those two people have always fascinated me. Loved when I read they’d found proof that they had a child. Something genetic in a certain area, don’t recall all the details.
Thanks again, Sharon. I’ve enjoyed it!