Writing About What You Know.

Writing About What You Know.

That’s one of the recommendations you get from writing teachers, editors, friends. My first book was an American Historical. Set in my own country’s history, I had a good idea about life back then, but had to research a lot. When I switched over to writing The Surrender of Lacy Morgan, I didn’t really tap into my own experience, but definitely into some fantasies. (TMI? Oh well, now you know.)

So what experience did I use to write the Romantic Suspense books? I’ve never been KIDNAPPED or HUNTED by a hitman.

Setting: Both books take place in my home town of Columbus, Ohio. I know the city and surrounding area well, having lived my first three decades there. And besides, NY Publishers have said more than once, “Don’t set your book in the Midwest. No one wants to read about central Ohio.” Uhm, I do! Lots of interesting things go on there and bad stuff happens everywhere, not just in major metropolitan areas. Heck some of the creepiest serial killers came out of the Midwest. (Dommer is from NE Ohio.)

Heroine: The heroines for both books are nurses, people I know inside and out. Raised by a nurse, taught by nurses and thirty-four years as an Obstetrics nurse gives me insight into what makes good nurses tick—their strengths, their flaws. While I wrote a fairly kick-ass type heroine in Katie Myers from HUNTED, that really isn’t my usual heroine. Someone who thinks clearly and quickly in emergency situations, even if it’s outside her normal comfort zone, that’s my heroine.

Hero: I like them big, confident, slightly arrogant, smart, but not overbearing. Handsome is always good. This is what I like in my fantasy man. I get to spend more time with them than anyone, they should be the kind I like to read about in books or watch on TV. Having a son who had numerous friends hanging out in our house over the years, I’ve also listened to their good-natured banter. I want to show that they use this to show how they come to respect, tease and love each other. My heroes will do whatever it takes to protect the heroine, but understand when she is part of the team and capable of giving as good as she gets, in bed, in conversation, in a battle.

The human experience: Like I said above, working years as a nurse, I’ve dealt with people in their worst moments. Pain, fear, grief all have a way of getting a person down to their core emotions and reactions. I like to think this is where the heart of my romance stories live. Bringing those reactions and emotions to the written page through the plot, setting, characters, I take an everyday heroine and thrust her into a situation that forces her to use all her internal and occasionally external skills to survive and help her hero save the day or each other or both.

Seized Front Only final for Barnes and NobleSo, when it came time to write SEIZED, the novella for the Edgars’ family RS series, I already had a basic blueprint for the book.

Setting: Columbus, of course. This time, however, I took setting one step further. Most of the book takes place in a hospital operating room. My mom was an operating room nurse for many years and regaled us with stories over the years about odd things that happened. In obstetrics, you become quite familiar with your own time spent in the operating room doing cesarean sections or other procedures. It’s a comfort zone for me. There were things I didn’t know, though, in particular the use of the anesthesia machine and medications used by anesthesia. Until I started writing this book, those weren’t things I needed to know.

*Big shout out* Since I needed specialized information, I went to the experts, my friends Colleen, Carole and Keith, three of the best nurse anesthetists I’ve ever worked with. They gave me the ins and outs of the equipment they use, what to do in emergencies and the medications available to my heroine. Love these guys and their enthusiasm for helping me write a book. Oh, and if you’ve ever had a labor epidural or had any kind of anesthesia in L&D, it was more than likely done by a nurse anesthetist, so you should love them as much as I do!

Heroine: Once again, my heroine, Judy Edgars is a nurse. This time she is an operating room nurse. Now these nurses have usually just a few minutes with their patient before they are asleep for the procedure, unless of course the patient is awake for the case for some reason, (new mom having a cesarean section). More often than not, especially in scheduled procedures, things go smoothly except for the occasional arrogant surgeon or new resident who gives her a hard time.

But there are times when those nurses are called on to deal with horrific cases, (i.e. gunshot victims, car accidents, etc.). Massive amounts of blood loss have their own unique complications and then there’s the unknown damage until the docs are in the middle of the case. Here’s where these nurses have to think quickly on their feet and yet stay calm. Y’all would be amazed how these men and women do their jobs!

Hero: Dave Edgars is the oldest brother in the Edgars clan. (Think Jason Statham here.)

He’s been telling people what to do for years. While he is quick to assess a situation and lead by example, he’s patient and understanding. He was a cop when he met Judy and has been on a SWAT team for years. He’s often explained to Judy or his brothers and sister how he’s learned to deal with criminals or crazy people he’s encountered on the job. He’s only ever loved one woman and respects Judy both as his wife and as a nurse.

The human experience: So now, let’s complicate things.  :-)

Like I said, Judy is an operating room nurse. She’s seen some horrific things. Imagine her fear when her husband, a SWAT team member, was shot. Now it’s six months later. He’s all healed, but she can’t get over her fear for him every time he walks out the door for work. She decides to show him her anger rather than admit what a coward she is. Dave, her husband is losing his patience with her.

What if we turn the tables?

Let’s put Judy in danger and Dave has to face his fear of losing her. She has to find ways to deal with a crazed gunman. What if the reality of losing each other forces them to remember their love for each other?

So, that’s SEIZED, a roller coaster of emotions and danger. Hope you enjoy it!!

EXCERPT:

 The guys were just settling up the betting and reorganizing the room when Dave’s phone vibrated on the table.

 “Oh, man, the woman is psychic. Probably wants to remind us to wrap the leftovers and not to spill any beer on her brand new carpeting,” Luke said.

“Too late. You already did that,” Matt said, shoving their youngest brother sideways.

Dave gave his brothers a warning glare. “Hey, babe,” he said as he held the phone to his ear. “What’s up—?”

“Listen carefully, Lydia” she said, as if talking to someone else.

“Lydia? Did you dial the wrong numb—”

“Dr. Hodges is dead. That’s the gunshot you heard.”

“Gunshot?”

All the men in the room froze. Dave hit the speaker button on his phone and set it on the counter of the bar so they could all hear. Gripping the counter with both hands, he willed the sudden rush of fear to ease its stranglehold around his heart.

“The rest of our team, all four of us are okay and the patient is stable. Mr. Wilkes is in charge and he’s wired a bomb to the doors. If anyone…and he means anyone…tries to come in, all three entrances will blow.”

His knees wobbled when he heard the word bomb. “You’re telling me there’s someone holding you hostage? In the OR?”

A deep voice spoke off in the background, too muffled to make out his words.

“Paul says you have ninety minutes to clear the patients out of the hospital.”

 

Okay, it’s your turn. 1. What are you bringing to the party? Let’s make it a cookout! 2. If you could write a book about what you know, what would it be? What would you title it?

I’ll be giving away two print copies of SEIZED to readers today!!

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Comments

61 thoughts on “Writing About What You Know.

  1. 1
    Helen says:

    Is he coming to my place

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 1.1

      Helen, congratulations on nabbing the GR!

      I do have to apologize, there was a glitch and the blog posted the first draft of my blog instead of the completed one…so I updated it and there are some questions above. Dang it!

      • 1.1.1
        Helen says:

        Suz

        1. What are you bringing to the party? Let’s make it a cookout!

        How about some prime rump steak to throw on the barbie

        2. If you could write a book about what you know, what would it be? What would you title it?

        I could write about working in the hospitality industry and yep I have seen some very big romances over the years some good some not so good LOL as for what title I would give it I might have to think on this one

        Have Fun
        Helen

        • 1.1.1.1

          Oooo Steak, now that’s a great start to a cookout!

          LOL, I just bet you have some great stories to tell! I imagine people aren’t always as discreet as they should be, huh?

  2. 2
    Helen says:

    Suz

    I have loved all of your stories I kinda fall into them and the characters are so real to me, I love romantic suspense and your stories about the Edgars and the small town of Weston, I could never write a book and I am in awe of the work you authors put into these stories to keep us readers with a smile on our faces hot romance with suspense back in time into the future. I read across all the genres nowadays there was a time when I only read historical not anymore. I still just need more time to read LOL.
    Thanks for the background on your writing very interesting :)

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 2.1

      Thanks, Helen!

      You and our other Bandit Buddies are such good fans and supporters of all of us in the Lair.

      I love the fact that you “fall into” the stories. It makes me smile. That’s what I do with my favorite books, too!!

  3. 3
    Helen says:

    Well it is still raining here and cold but the shopping has been done so the Tim Tams are in good supply so the GR should be happy

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 3.1

      Okay, here’s my story about Tim Tams:

      Me and my mom are walking through the groceries on my recent visit home. We pass the cookie aisle…

      Mom: “Do you know they don’t sell Tim Tams here.”

      Me: “Yes. I believe those are pretty much an Australian thing.”

      Mom: “Well, dang. Those girls on the blog are always talking about them and I thought I ought to try them.”

      Me….laughing all the way out the store!

  4. 4
    fedora says:

    Boy, this sounds great, Suz! I think that stories that are written from the authors’ hearts and passions really speak most clearly to readers. Looking forward to your latest!

  5. 5
    Anna Sugden says:

    LOL Suz – I don’t think it’s any surprise what I’d write about – the surprise was that after being told for years that no-one would buy a hockey book Harlequin Supers have bought 4 from me!

    I’ve always had a hankering to write a WW2 love story – who knows, maybe one day I will!

    Oh, for the cook-out, I’m bringing my famous and much-requested (at least in the family *g*) burgers.

    • 5.1

      Hey Anna!!

      See? Write about what you know, do it well and the books will win over fans, readers and publishers! We’re all so excited for you and can’t wait for these books to come out! Yippee!!

      A secret burger recipe? Now my mouth’s wateringl Wonder if the neighbors would think it odd if I fire up the grill at 3:30 am?

    • 5.2

      Anna, I think doors are cracking, slightly, maybe, for sports stories. I’m so excited for you and looking forward to seeing this story between covers.

      • 5.2.1

        You know, sports stars really do lend themselves to romance stories. The guys usually are a little bit larger than life both physically and socially. They make good hero or hero-in-need-of-a-good-woman material.

  6. 6

    Okay… what I’m bringing to the party:

    1. White Sangria full of fresh berries, apples and Chardonnay

    2. My famous macaroni salad

    3. Grilled halibut…(we have a freezer full this week, gotta start cooking it!)

  7. 7
    Teresa Hughes says:

    This sounds like a great book!

    Having worked in an ER I can only imagine how the life experiences can enhance your writing. I just recently wrote a children’s book about children with special needs that I am trying to get published. It came to be because I have a son with special needs and I work with special needs adults.

    I will be looking forward to checking this book out! Have a great day!

    • 7.1

      Hey Teresa!

      Yep, we’ve seen some interesting life experiences, huh?

      I think your children’s book sounds wonderful! Good luck pursuing publication for it!

  8. 8
    Nell says:

    Okay…. gal to be ALEAST 6ft; hero taller (like about 6’7″, so that she can wear killer high-helled shoes and not tower over the hero). Oh, her shoe size can be greater than size 11. (It is hard to find size 12 and greater..) Just a thought/suggestion, because I CAN RELATE TO THIS.

    • 8.1

      Nell, I’m not as tall as your heroine, but at 5’9″, I can relate!

    • 8.2

      Hey Nell!!!

      Welcome to the Bandit Lair.

      LOL, you know the heroine for my next book is close to six feet. For research I stood on a chair to talk to my son and his friends, most over 6 feet tall. (Just for you Nell!) Things certainly looked different up there!

  9. 9

    Suz, congrats on your new release! That’s a great excerpt! And Lyndsey, as usual, produced a fabbo cover.

    I’ll bring my summer standard, fruit salad, heavy on the watermelon.

    I did write a book about what I know. *g* I wrote a small town like the one I grew up in.

    • 9.1

      LOL, Nancy, Lyndsey had the cover almost finished weeks before I was done writing it! Her excitement was so funny, “And Mom…it’s green!!!”

      Love fruit salad. Nothing like a grilled burger and lots of side dishes!

      Yes, your paranormal books set in a small town are definitely “what you know”!

  10. 10
    pearl says:

    Wonderful post which interests me greatly. The locale and the book are captivating.

  11. 11
    ellie says:

    I will bring bruschetta and cantelope filled with blueberries. Perfect for our heat wave. Loved hearing about this compelling novel. Wishing you the best of success and happiness.

    • 11.1

      Hey Ellie!

      One of my favorite things is steak bruschetta with sun dried tomatoes and shaved Parmesan and a balsamic drizzle. Yummo!! And the cantaloupe and blueberries sound divine!

      Thanks for the best wishes for SEIZED. It’s doing well, so far!

  12. 12
    catslady says:

    Somehow I would have to at least have some cats in my story lol. How about some shrimp with dipping sauce and chocolate covered strawberries.

    • 12.1

      Oh ho, Catslady, why doesn’t that surprise me? You know I’ve written two books that had dogs in them.

      Mmm, I love both your items for the picnic! I can see we’re all going to have quite a feast!

  13. 13
    Diane Sallans says:

    I’d bring a salad and a dessert. One year my Mom volunteered me to make Strawberry Crepes for her church ladies picnic – that was 50 crepes! But they are yummy!

    I’d write a story set in the area I live – not far away is an area with mansions built in the 19th to early 20th century – I always thought they would make a great setting for a murder mystery.

    • 13.1

      Oh, Diane, those crepes sound yummy! Did you have to make them fresh at the picnic?

      I’d write a story set in the area I live – not far away is an area with mansions built in the 19th to early 20th century – I always thought they would make a great setting for a murder mystery.

      Oooo, that sounds good. You could give the houses secret passageways!!

  14. 14
    Diane says:

    Your post interests me very much for the book, your setting and your experience as well. this sounds amazing and special. I have my picnic basket packed with tuna salad, cherries and lemonade.

    • 14.1

      Thanks, Diane!

      You sound like you plan for an entire picnic. Love some good tuna salad and lemonade!

      I had fun writing SEIZED, and the time line is so tight, it feels like an action/adventure movie!

  15. 15
    Sandy Bartles says:

    1. I will bring the potato salad!
    2. The Joy of Nieces and Nephews

  16. 16
    Minna says:

    I will bring coconut-vanilla-chocolate chip cookies.

  17. 17
    Cassondra says:

    OMGOSH, Suz that excerpt is FANTASTIC! I was on the edge of my seat reading that.

    Lessee I’ll bring watermelon. It’s that time of year and I haven’t had a good sweet watermelon so far.

    Right now if I wrote about what I know it would be dog hair balls the size of tumbleweeds (they’re both shedding) a deck that needs washed and restained, and a house that desperately needs cleaning. Hmmm….wonder what I could do with that? Sexy handyman…Hmmmm…

    • 17.1

      OMGOSH, Suz that excerpt is FANTASTIC! I was on the edge of my seat reading that. Thanks Cassondra! That’s about where I left Lyndsey hanging while I was writing it. She wasn’t too happy with me at the time. hehehe

      I love good sweet watermelon. We’ve had a couple this year.

      A handyman hero who is allergic to dog hair? :)

  18. 18
    Sandyg265 says:

    I’d bring fruit salad and a blueberry pie.

  19. 19

    I’ll bring corn for corn on the cob.

    I’d heard that “write what you know” so many times that I did. The book sold right after I sold my first historical, but came out before because NY is that slow. The book, In a Heartbeat, is written under the name Donna Richards so as not to confuse it with my historicals. It’s a suspense about a CPA in my small town in Ohio… that’s the part I knew. I had occasion to pull that book off the shelf recently and surprised myself to see that I’d even named the dog after my own dog – now deceased.

    Great excerpt, Suz.

    • 19.1

      Mmm, Donna, love some midwest corn on the cob! Nothing tastes better. We’ll leave it in the husk throw in some butter and slap them on the grill!

      You know, those Donna Richard’s books may just be a collector item one day! :) And what a cool way to let the memory of your dog live on!

  20. 20

    Hi Suz! Sorry I”m late to the party but it looks like you’ve saved me a margarita or two! Thank you. SEIZED sounds great – such a high stakes story! I hope it’s a huge hit. Actually Jenny Crusie almost always sets her stories in Ohio, so clearly it’s a site of major bestsellerdom! So there, naysayers!

    • 20.1

      Hey Anna C, this is the Bandit Lair, there’s always a few extra margaritas around the place!

      See, I think romance can and does happen anywhere…so why not Ohio?

  21. 21
    Allie Burton says:

    Suz, great excerpt! I will bring something chocolate! Since you were talking about hockey earlier, I’d write a book about NHL Hockey mascots. I spent several interesting days with half a dozen of them. Don’t ask!
    Allie

  22. 22

    Sorry I’ve been a little absent today in my hostess duties…I have a confession…

    I sneaked out with Jo Davis to see the new SUPERMAN with Henry Cavill.

    All I can say is….OH MY, he is something else!!

  23. 23
    Beth Andrews says:

    Congrats on your latest release, Suz! Can’t wait to read it – loved the excerpt *g*

    I often write what I know; small towns, families and kids/teenagers. Three of the Montesanos in my In Shady Grove series are carpenters just like my dad and brothers :-)

    I’ll bring vodka lemon slush to the picnic. It’s sweet and lemony with a nice little kick *g*

    • 23.1

      Thanks Beth!

      Love small town and family stories, but really like the carpenters as heroes! Something about a man who knows how to use his hands…:)

      Yum, cold, lemony with a kick!! What a great thing to add to a party!

  24. 24
    Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Suz! I love BOTH these books! Sooo good.

    BTW, I brought two platters of hot wings, which Sven already replattered b/c he didn’t like what I had them on. Ha! Of course, I think half of them are gone already so why did the platter matter?

    And what I know….dogs shows, funeral homes, cemeteries, marketing, selling stuff…libraries…I use a lot of this in what I write already. :> And more as I move forward *tease*.

    Titles? Ahhhh, you’ll have to wait on that one… Grins.

    • 24.1

      Hey Jeanne!

      Oh man! You know chicken wings don’t last long around the Lair…not with all those hunky men hanging out!

      Glad you like KIDNAPPED and HUNTED. Hope SEIZED lives up to them…although I got a complaint from my mom that it was too short! LOL

      dogs shows, funeral homes, cemeteries, marketing, selling stuff…libraries

      That is an interesting recipe for a book!!

  25. 25

    Suz, wow, what an excerpt! Way to hook us into the story. I want to know how the heck she gets out of there.

    As for writing what you know, I suppose I’d write something set in a legal firm or maybe a women’s fiction about family. I think you make an excellent point that the emotional core is the most important thing in your experience to draw from. There are so many experiences you can extrapolate to different backgrounds and situations.

    I think there’s also a challenge to writing what you know well, and that’s leaving out the bits that may be of interest to the person who knows that world but not to the reader. Have you found that to be a challenge? In suspense you need to be lean and mean, don’t you? Were there any parts of technical explanation you didn’t want to let go but you had to cut to keep the story streamlined?

    • 25.1

      Hey Christina!

      Glad you like the hook. There’s a few more like that in the book…or maybe more. :)

      It was interesting setting this so much in the hospital setting, I tried to make it feel real for the nurses I know will be reading it, but not so technical my other readers would get lost, bored or confused.

      I also drew on some specialty nursing with the nurse anesthetists I work with. They gave me lots of information, and I had to choose how to incorporate that with the plot and story line.

      The fact that the timeline is so tight for this and the word count only 30,000 words, well, I didn’t have the room to get too into the hospital jargon and world. I think that helped.

      • 25.1.1

        Suz, what a wealth of background knowledge to draw on. I’m sure you’ll get great feedback from your colleagues!

        • 25.1.1.1

          Yea, they were pretty excited to help and I dedicated the book to them and all the nurse anesthetists I’ve ever worked with. A group of unsung heroes if there ever were!

  26. 26
    Mary Preston says:

    I’d bring my Mother’s Potato Salad. People rave, but I’ve never been keen. You can have my share.

    I’d write about growing up in a large family.

    I could call it something like SOUTH OF SANITY.