When to Consult a Medical Expert

female doctor in ICUAlthough I’ve always helped authors along the way with medical questions, it’s been one of my primary focuses for the last three years since the invention of Redwood’s Medical Edge—my medical blog for authors.

The reason for creating my blog was the multitude of published works I read that were loaded with medical inaccuracies. Not just a few here and there. Time after time, errors caught my eye.

In a pod-cast interview, the interviewer asked if these medical mistakes would be enough for the average reader to pick up. To be honest, I’m probably more sensitive to these errors after spending 20 years in nursing but some are mind-numbingly obvious. Such as saying the spleen is on the right side. Such as calling a collar bone a shoulder blade. You don’t have to have a medical degree in anything to pick up on these missed anatomy issues.

Writers, I think, are confused as to when it’s beneficial to consider consulting a medical expert. And I actually mean more than asking Uncle Joe who has worked as a dentist when you need information about delivering an infant.

Not the best option.

An author who is also a medical expert is your best bet. They know what will overload the reader, they know what is too medically complex for a non-medical author to pull off, and can help you with the nuances (the language and the interactions) since they’ve worked in the field.

But when is it best to consider plucking down a few hard earned dollars to work with a medical consultant?

Here are my thoughts.

  1. You need a medical condition that fits a certain set of symptoms. I often get queries from authors along these lines and perhaps they’ve tried to find something on their own but just cannot decipher the medical language to know, for certain, if it fits: “I need a fatal condition for a child that won’t be immediately obvious but could put the child in peril around three months of age.” Believe it or not, a metabolic disorder fits this criteria.
  2. You have a medical scenario in mind but aren’t sure if it’s reasonable. This happens frequently and is probably the most dangerous position to work from. Let’s take a look at the following example: “My character has been in a car accident. The car has rolled three times. The injured character was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown 100 yards into a swift moving river, where he almost drowned. He was rescued and required only a minute of CPR to revive him. I need him home from the hospital that night.” Or the opposite is true. “I have a character that fell down the stairs and I need him to be in the ICU for three days.”

Both of these situations set up implausible medical scenarios. The car accident victim is going to be too injured to go home that day. Someone who requires CPR after nearly drowning is going to be watched, at a minimum, overnight. In order to get admitted into the ICU a patient has to be pretty sick so the simple fall down the stairs is likely not going to injure the character sufficiently.

  1. Come with an open mind but with a needed result for your character. What I prefer to know is your end game with an open mind to the medical scenario. “I need a character to suffer an injury from a fall that would land them in the hospital for a few days in the ICU and I’m fine with a few extra days in the hospital but I don’t want them to have any residual injuries.” For you, I would pick an epidural hematoma.
  2. You have a pivotal medical scene. I consulted once for an author who had a child in the Pediatric ICU, dying from leukemia. This is something you want to flow nicely for the reader. If at any moment they pause, look away from the page, and think about the accuracy of what you’ve written, you’ve taken them out of the story bubble and perhaps their trust in you has fallen. Perhaps you’ve even lost a reader.

I once read a review from a fan of historical fiction that skewered an author for writing a completely inaccurate historical scenario in the third book of the series. This reader then doubted the previous two books and swore off reading anything else from the author.

Don’t let this happen to you. Consult a medical expert if you find yourself writing these scenarios. It’s likely not as expensive as you think.

What about you? Any medical inaccuracies you’ve found in a novel?

How to Maximize Your Social Media Time

Early in my wanting-to-pursue-publication journey, I heard a woman give a talk about maximizing your time. She said, “Nothing you do should go to waste. If I see a movie, I’ll figure out a way to use it in my writing. I’ll write something about it.”

Social media conceptHonestly, at first, I did kind of give a big eye roll. Really? Nothing could be sacred, private, and free? Couldn’t my mind ever just have a void where I didn’t have to think about marketing?

Now, I might have changed my opinion on that somewhat.

Marketing is hard work. Author Richard Mabry once said to me, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And this is the truth. When your book releases, there is usually a flurry of activity to launch your baby. But, there comes a time when you need to begin to focus on the next book while still keeping your other marketing activities going. This may be less about your book and more about growing your platform and social media presence.

Consider all your activities: can they aid in growing your social media? Can they give you a blog topic? Can something you do for fun give you a possible return on your time investment?

I recently read the book Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner. I wanted to read this book. Lisa is a favorite author of mine so I put most other books aside to enjoy her new releases.

On the marketing side, this is how I used my leisure time to help my social media.

1. I wrote a Goodreads review on the novel. This is good for authors. It gives people an example of your writing style and can help readers find you. After all, you likely write what you like to read.

2. I pinned it to Pinterest. Some readers/followers are more visual and I do find people repinning books from my boards.

3. I blogged about it– in two different places. My main blog is Redwood’s Medical Edge and it deals with medical accuracy in fiction. Fear Nothing had a character with congenital insensitivity to pain so not only did I blog about this particular medical disorder but I also did a post that was a review of the novel and some of its medical aspects. And now, I’m here blogging about how to use one activity to foster multiple marketing efforts. So, I guess that’s three blog posts.

Your activities should become the ultimate wardrobe, where all pieces can be mixed with one another. Ultimately, a book I read for fun ended up being used to build my platform (a medical nerd who writes suspense novels) and, hopefully, keep up interest in my social media.

What about you? In what ways have you used fun activities to maximize marketing efforts?

Are Your Margins Too Thin?

sad businesswomanA curious thing happened as I was trolling Facebook one day–a fellow author had posted about what she wasn’t doing for Christmas. “I’m not baking the seven different types of cookies that I normally do and I’m giving you permission to do the same. What is it you would like to give up this Christmas so you can spend more time with family?”

Whenever the first of the year rolls around it’s always time for the dreaded excitement of planning your (cue the music) New Year’s Resolutions. Often, these resolutions and goal setting add more to our plate rather than simplify our lives.

We should absolutely make goals–I’m a big believer in them. But how can we make them reasonable, doable, and achievable?

You might have heard about margins. Leave one inch margins around your written page. This used to be so there would be room for others to make comments. It’s morphed into leaving room in your life for the important things. You might have also heard people call this work/life balance.

But how do you know if your margins are too thin? What might some of the symptoms be?

1. You can’t say no. This means you don’t have boundaries. It’s really not healthy to be the go-to person for everything. You can’t always be at another person’s beck and call. I think volunteer work is important but pick ONE thing you’re passionate about and make sure the hours are reasonable.

2. You’re always running late. This can be symptomatic of two conditions. One, it’s just the kind of person you are. You’ve always been late and continue to be late. But if you used to be on time for everything and now you’re always just a few minutes (or more) late, then you’re probably over-scheduled. Why is it you can’t make it on time? Too many appointments or it’s something you don’t want to do? You’ve lost passion for your job, perhaps? Maybe never had any? Can you change that?

3. Your children/family/significant other don’t recognize you anymore. I remember when my girls were infants that I’d bring them into the bathroom while I was taking a bath and set them on the floor with some toys so I could keep an eye on them. The first time their eyes witnessed me dunk my head and come up with my hair slicked back, their quivering lips indicated that they thought I was not their mom anymore. I spoke to them and reassured them it was okay. If your family is coming in dead last then definitely some re-prioritizing needs to happen. What can you change about your current schedule that would make more room?

NewYearDaySince it is the first of the year, I do still think that it’s a good time to analyze and focus, but maybe with these tenets in mind. The goal has to be reasonable to make it fun and achievable; otherwise it’s doomed to fail from the start.

So, instead of the goal being I’m going to write THREE great American novels when you’ve never attempted one, attend a local writers conference to see if writing is suited for you.

Instead of losing ALL the weight you need to lose in the first three weeks of the year, shoot for a small piece of the whole. I want to lose 2 pounds in January. Once you’ve done that, set the next goal.

Goals are about focus, but they need to be achievable. You’ll still need to live your life. Keep those personal relationships strong. That’s what ultimately sustains you.

What are your reasonable and achievable goals for 2014? Will they maintain your life/work balance?

What Are You Putting on Hold?

dont do it!I have worked out with a personal trainer for a number of years. No, this doesn’t mean I’m wealthy or a single digit size (though I still would like to be!). One day as I concluded my training session and was attempting to pull myself up off the floor, I overheard a woman talking to one of the other trainers. She said, “I’d really like to start training with you but I need to get in shape first.” Which caused my own trainer to stroke out and he shouted across the room. “That’s exactly why you should start now!”

And it struck me how much this thought pattern applies to other areas of our lives.

We shouldn’t have children until we’re financially set.

I can’t start my novel because I don’t have enough time . . . (insert variety of other excuses here).

I can’t go to church because my life is too screwed up from (insert various life trouble, sexual indiscretion, alcohol or drug addiction, general pride, greediness, etc . . . here).

I can’t pray because I don’t know the right words to say.

I think when we have thoughts like this, what we’re avoiding is the one thing we probably should be doing. Getting with a personal trainer might help us achieve our fitness goals faster or, at the very least, keep us from further gaining weight to the point where we think the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is skinny. Writing that novel might be a perfect outlet for the reasons we’re avoiding church. Church can be the place where we find a group of fellow travelers who are struggling just as we are and are learning how God won’t solve the consequences of our choices but will help us manage them when we come into relationship with Him.

I know many who have issue with *The Church*. And perhaps they have reason to. I’ll be the first to say that, as a result of our human failings, even we in the church try and put up a front that our lives, home, and church are better than they are. What I’ve boiled it down to is that no church is going to be perfect and if it’s not for you, try another one.

This is just another excuse and you don’t need a destination brick-and-mortar structure to work out, write your book, or discover how meaningful a relationship with God can be.

I’m a say-it-like-it-is kind of girl, which my husband claims is my best and worst quality, but I’m going to torture you with it for a moment. Let’s analyze ourselves.

Tell me–what are you putting on hold, why are you putting it on hold, and what will you do to finally get started?

May you be blessed this coming year.

The Loss of Words

Fountain pen over Script1 John: 1-5. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I have to confess, I’m fascinated by words. How we use them. How we use them against each other. Pro-life. Pro-abortion. Pro-choice. Each of these words casts the same issue in a totally different light.

I also have great wonder about how God chose to communicate with us, which I believe happens in two ways–through the written word and through creation. Whether or not you believe that is a whole other discussion.

When I write a book, I choose words carefully. I imagine God being the same way. Not wasting anything. The words, phrases, paragraphs, and chapters of the Bible have multiple layers of meaning. Enough layers to satisfy a reader for longer than one human lifetime.

This Christmas, I find myself pondering 1John and how Jesus Christ was referred to as the Word. I think of how words bring enlightenment. Then I think about how the use of our words is changing.

As an author, I’ve been concerned about the loss of words, even though there seems to be more words than ever before. Texts. FB posts. Blog posts. The number of books that are now available through publishing (in all formats) is greater than at any time in history.

But are they meaningful words? Do they have the same impact as the Bible passage above?

We don’t write anymore. Not in the form of handwritten notes, anyway. And what we do write is abbreviated with little context. I wonder what our children will show their grandchildren. Once e-mail accounts are deleted, those messages are lost. Do you print out e-mails, texts, etc., and archive them?

I know I don’t.

So I wonder, a lot, about the meaning and context of our words and what will be lost in this technological age. Handwritten love letters. Diaries. Journals. I doubt even this blog post will survive me.

Often, we don’t think about the impact of a loved one, a job, or an event until it is gone. I’m amazed how people strive to communicate even when they can’t physically speak. Sign language. Speaking with the use of computers.

What if you couldn’t speak anymore? What if there never had been the Bible? How do you think God would have communicated with creation about Himself?

Glenn Beck is a polarizing character. I totally get that. I’m not a fan of everything he says but this is a powerful message to ponder. It’s a written monologue delivered on large postcards because, for a period of time, Glenn couldn’t speak and it caused him to think of what he had spoken in the past. If you want to avoid his political message, you can stop viewing the video after about 3 minutes.

But consider the loss of words and what you can do to maintain an actual pen-to-paper history. Remember this Christmas the impact of how God chose to communicate with us–with words.

John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Every day, I think about losing our written words. Do you?

Have a Merry Christmas.

Kismet

I have a confession to make. I’m a control freak. Not just the neat and tidy, either. More the type who gave my daughter a lecture when she rearranged some Christmas decorations and I told her she couldn’t because she wasn’t paying the mortgage.

Frauenhände sortieren Kettfäden am WebstuhlYes, that did happen. I could say that there were other things going on at the time stress-wise to cause such a reaction but . . . sigh.

So, now we’ve established I’m a bad mother and a control freak! And yes, I’m saving up for her future counseling sessions. As a person of faith, I do believe God has a plan for my life but my hands are clenched just as tightly as they can be around the steering wheel.

My nature lends itself to the job I do. Every day, I bring calm control to chaos as a pediatric ER nurse. It’s expected of me. However, as a Christian, I’m supposed to “Let go and let God.”

Easier said than done.

However, I have noticed that when I do surrender to His little nudges, things seem to work infinitely better. But I still have that cold-dead-hands grip on my life.

I’ve always loved to write. In high school, I wrote countless short stories, scenes, and even a couple of novellas. I didn’t always write things that were honoring to God. I did want to be published but my parents said I needed to go to college and get a real job.

So I went to nursing school. I really wanted to be a flight nurse and that became my sole drive for the next ten plus years. I stopped writing during pursuit of this one goal.

And that goal didn’t happen. Out of my frustration, I started putting pen to paper again. I sought input to see if anyone thought those words strung together were good or just the dismal musings of a person dissatisfied with her life.

I don’t believe God wastes anything. During pursuit of my unrealized dream, God used several interactions to speak to my heart about what I was writing. Now, I wasn’t a closet Fifty Shades of Grey writer, but by writing wouldn’t necessarily point people to God.

Maybe it would even pull them away.

I thought that if I put words out there, I’d be responsible for the effect they have on people. Did I want to explain to God why some people stopped believing because of something I wrote?

From then on I began to write with a Christian worldview in mind.

My stories partly reflect what I struggle with. Peril, my latest release, is about Morgan’s struggle with controlling her own life when everything is out of control. She’s suffered a horrible loss she feels she should have prevented, her health is in decline, and her marriage is breaking apart. This control freak is thrown into a hurricane. The novel is about her learning to relinquish the grip she has on the steering wheel.

My hope is if I write it enough, perhaps I can do the same.

What’s amazing is how God uses kismet or fate to weave these threads over the years, in order to reach one person at the right moment.

I got this note from a reader (the best thing as an author!) that Peril helped her realize she needed to “Let go and let God.” I shared my own struggle with her about being a control freak and this was her response:

“You see, before the foundations of the world began, God knew I’d be going through something on September 30, 2013 and He also knew He would give you the words to write and also give me the book and I would be reading just that passage at just this time. Wow. What an awesome God we serve.”

He truly is. Think about it. The years. The people. Those little moments that led up to that moment of inspiration for one person.

I think those moments are designed.

What about you? As we begin to turn our focus to the Christmas Season, consider the predictions made about Christ in the Bible. Were they designed, too?

This post first appeared at Everyone’s Story. Hope you’ll check out Elaine’s blog.

Daring Dialogue

I have to confess that dialogue is one of my favorite things to write. It also is the easiest for me. Often times when I start a scene, I’ll just lay out the dialogue first.

CoupleFightingMy love of dialogue likely stems from my real life job as a pediatric ER nurse. Communication in the ER is very quick and to the point. Cutting at times. There is little room for fluffing up someone’s feathers emotionally when you’re trying to save a life.

At the most recent ACFW conference in Indianapolis, I was fortunate to take James Scott Bell’s class called Quantum Story where he touched on several different areas to take your novel to the next level. Jim is a great teacher and I highly recommend any of his classes or books on writing (of which there are many).

One area Jim discussed was his eight essentials of dialogue and I’m going to list them here. Remember, these come from a master teacher and storyteller and not little ole me who is still learning a lot about writing.

Good dialogue:

1. Is essential to the story. Fictional dialogue should never sound like “real life,” where lots of mundane facts are often communicated. “Hi.” “How are you?” “I’m fine—how are you?” It should communicate something inherently necessary to the story.

2. It flows from one character to the other.

3. It should have conflict or tension. There is the overall story conflict but then there is also microtension. I first heard this term from Donald Maass and he explains it as the tension amond words, sentences, and paragraphs that propels the reader to keep turning pages.

4. Just the right tone.

5. Just right for each character. All your story peeps should not sound the same. How can you differentiate between them so the reader can identify them? The best example I’ve seen of this type of characterization is Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Each chapter is in a different character’s POV but she never is obvious about it—like putting the character’s name as a chapter heading (which I have seen done). The characterization/dialogue is so unique in differing POVs that you don’t need extra help to identify the character.

6. Unpredictable.

7. Compressed. Characters shouldn’t talk for paragraphs at length. Give the reader some white space as relief.

8. There should be subtext.

Here is one of my favorite exchanges in Peril, my latest medical thriller. The lead heroine, Morgan Adams, is not sure she’s all that capable of holding onto this life. Her husband, Tyler, worries about her committing suicide and he’s just come home and found a bloodied knife on the counter. This section occurs just after she’s found alive.

  “You can’t scare me like that again. You are killing me with this thoughtlessness you have for your life.”

  “You found the knife?”

  “Yes, I found it! And the blood dripping down the counter.” He grabbed each of her hands and caressed his thumbs over her pulse points of uncut skin.

   “It’s not my blood.”

   “Then whose is it?”

   “Our neighbor’s.”

   “And if I ask her?”

   “You don’t believe me?”

    He combed his fingers through his hair. “Morgan, it’s as if you’re holding on to the cliff with one hand and lifting your fingers up one at a time.”

   She brushed past him and headed into the master bedroom. “I wouldn’t have done anything today.”

   And just like that, all the tightness in his chest returned.

What do you think? What are some techniques you incorporate to write powerful dialogue?

This post first appeared on the ACFW blog. Hope you’ll check it out for more great posts about writing.

Give Me A Hint: The Use of Foreshadowing

I was at work discussing books with a physician who is an avid reader as well of Robin Cook’s novels. Cook could be considered the grandfather of the medical thriller with his ground breaking The Year of the Intern, which highlighted the training physicians go through.

Cook, for me, delved into what a medical thriller should be. Take something medical in nature (like organ donation) and put a twist on it (genetically engineered individuals being used for spare body parts). That novel was Chromosome 6. What my physician friend said was, “The great thing about Robin Cook was he grounded you in the science before he took that leap, so when he did go over the cliff with his theory you were able to buy it hook, line, and sinker.”

Book #3 Bloodline Trilogy

Book #3 Bloodline Trilogy

This conversation got me thinking a lot about my third novel, Peril, which just released. I’m asking the reader to take a big (HUGE really) theoretical leap, but had I spent time grounding them in how this medical theory could really play out?

That question led me to rewrite the first third of my novel.

Some people view foreshadowing as the scary thing suspense novelists do to readers to get the hair to stand up on the back of their necks. Truly, this is part of it. The scary music cuing up before the axe falls on the victim.

More importantly, though, foreshadowing could be viewed as the details we plant for readers so that when the character does something unbelievable, the reader won’t be rolling their eyes in a jump-the-shark moment.

In my first novel, Proof, I needed there to be a instant in time where one character could place a lethal (or was it really?) shot to the villain. In order to do that, I had to paint a picture for the reader of the character being capable of doing it mentally and physically when that moment came.

Step One: Show that she is comfortable with weapons–and maybe a little too psychotic about her safety.

Step Two: Show that she is a good marksman. This scene included her taking a close friend to an indoor shooting gallery. Let’s just say that girl had some skill even with a little bit of alcohol on board. Plus, she had purchased another weapon, which increased the probability of one of them being used. Don’t give the character a weapon and then never have her use it.

Step Three: Show that she will use a weapon when in a dangerous situation. At one point in the book, the villain is giving chase and she fires at him from a moving vehicle.

Step Four: The ultimate showdown must take place. Don’t plant any seeds that aren’t eventually harvested.

Does anyone remember the Laura Croft Tomb Raider movies? In one, it dealt with her finding Pandora’s Box. The whole two hours is devoted to the adventure of discovering ancient clues that would lead her to the ultimate treasure. At the end of the movie, she has the box in her hands and . . . she doesn’t open it.

Huge let down.

What do you think about foreshadowing? How do you think it’s been used effectively or poorly in books and movies?

Promotional Items: The Good and Bad

I recently returned from the ACFW conference held in Indianapolis. This is an annual gathering of the largest membered group of Christian fiction authors. It’s a great time to connect with fellow writers and hope some of the writing genius from authors like Dan Walsh, Tosca Lee, James Scott Bell, and Frank Peretti infuses life into my writing cells.

Promo1Most conferences have a “freebie” table where writers are allowed to leave promotional items to get the word out about their product. This year I thought I’d give you my take on them. The good and the bad.

Think of a promotional item with a goal in mind. What do you want it to do for you? Consider the return on your investment and what you hope to achieve. I think most people view a promotional item as a chance for exposure. Most marketing types will tell you it takes six-ten exposures for someone to buy your product. So a good promotional item is something a person will keep and look at over and over.

I’ve determined that giving away bookmarks is not a good idea. EVERY author/writer does this and last year when I had bookmarks I ended up taking most of them home. They are not unusual enough anymore and with the advent of e-readers I think many do not need them anymore either.

One way bookmarks could work is if you are a very popular, well-known author and they are signed. But, sigh, that is not me. Yet.

RedwoodNewsletterQRMy goal was to get people to subscribe to my forthcoming newsletter. I gave out full-size Hershey Bars and packs of gum with the stickers you see on the first photo. The sticker includes this QR code that links to a newsletter sign-up form where I’m giving away a prize worth over $75.00. It includes all three books of my Bloodline trilogy, a $25.00 Amazon gift card, a $25.00 Starbucks gift card and some fun Halloween items (yes, this is still happening, so sign up!) and goes on until October 1st, 2013.

I brought 108 chocolate bars (okay, I did eat ONE) and 36 packs of gum. I didn’t have to bring any home, which was great. People were interested enough to pick them up but, thus far, I’ve only gotten about six new newsletter subscribers, making it a very expensive venture with few results. Perhaps the QR code is not intuitive for people yet.

Other promotional items and my thoughts.

promo2 promo3 promo4 promo5 promo6 promo71. Luggage Tag: This is a good idea because not only do you use it but also other people along the way can see it.

2. Small button flashlights for key chains: I’m iffy on these. The writing on one is hard to read and the light is weak. They are fun to have but I don’t know if I would use them.

3. Ribbon bookmark: I’m personally not a fan. I am a no-wrinkle-on-the-pages kind of girl and putting a large plastic paper clip on pages would wrinkle them. Plus, it was not very intuitive to me what it was at first because it was attached to a business card.

4. Pack of sticky notes: This was given out by a publisher. Nice, as most authors love office supplies.

5. A bag of tea: This one I liked because I’m a tea lover. I think this would also be more economical than what I did, as mine ran about 50-60 cents apiece. I think it’s a good tie-in for some genres (romance, cozy mystery, historical set in England) but not so much for suspense. It might not work for my books.

6. Grippie lid opener: Someone can post in the comments what the real name of this is. I like this one for its durability. It’s something I’ll keep on hand and use and therefore will expose me to this author’s name multiple times.

7. Small composition notebook: This one I’m actually giving a gold star and I’ll tell you why. I still have the one from last year in my purse. Every time I pull it out, I see that author’s name. I actually looked into doing this myself but they run (at the cheapest) about $1.00 apiece and that was too spendy for me.

What about you? Which promotional items do you like? Which do you think you’d actually pick up and keep? What have you used as a promotional item and did you appreciate the return on investment?

Use of Humor in Thriller Novels

Don’t we need humor in life to make it through? Life is hard. I have two very serious jobs. I’m a real life pediatric ER RN and a suspense novelist. Those can be heavy days but they can also be fun days—by using a little humor to get through.

LaughterMarriage is no different, right? Humor is necessary. What are some of the funniest things that have happened between you and your spouse? To take a break from discussing serious subjects: like death, trauma, and writing suspense—I thought I’d take a humor break and share some funny highlights from my married life.

Do you find that opposites attract? That’s the truth with my husband and I. He’s the quiet introvert. I’m the more outspoken extrovert. He gets queasy at the site of blood. Obviously, I do not. What we have seems to work—as we’ve been married fifteen years.

During our dating years, we were set to see a movie. I drove to his place and let myself in—and then sat there fuming when he was nowhere to be found. This was before the age of everyone having a cell phone. Finally, his phone rings. I answer. He’s on the line. “Where are you?” He asks. “Where are you?” I ask right back. He says, “I’m at your place!”—“Well, I’m where you should be.”

Other funny moments? Let’s see—teaching kindergarten Sunday school with his ex-girlfriend. Well, we can laugh about that now.

My husband likes to trim his own hair. One day, he mistakenly forgot to put the spacer on the clippers and took a swipe. Without much introduction, he comes into the living room and asks me, “Can you fix this?” with one bald stripe down the middle of his head.

I burst out laughing so hard—I still crack up thinking about it. ER nurse, honey—not hairdresser extraordinaire.

Then, add kids to the mix and the potential for a good laugh multiplies. We have two daughters age 8 and 10. When my youngest was perhaps 4 y/o—she was just in one of these pestering type moods. After several attempts at redirection, I finally just say, “Please, just get out of my hair!” In her sweet, innocent voice, she says—“But, I’m not in your hair.”

Sometimes, readers need lighter moments to get them through serious subjects or intense novels, too. I have a very dry sense of humor. My debut medical thriller, Proof, dealt with some very serious subjects and I thought whilst writing the ms—I really do need some moments of levity.

Hence, the humorous pairing of my odd couple detectives, Nathan Long and Brett Sawyer. Nathan means business. He’s serious and organized—bordering on an undiagnosed case of OCD. A southern gentleman. Brett’s the laid back easy type—maybe plays a little bit loose with the rules to get the job done. Often, their interactions provide comic relief in Proof. Let me give one example: an elderly woman with some questionable underwear choices serving them tea with a heavy dose of liquor during an interview. You may think that would never happen. Well, just recently I had a 14y/o show up just in his skivvies—at the ER. That’s right—just the white cotton briefs. And let me say—he was not deathly ill. Plenty of time for that young man to get dressed.

What about you? What’s the most humorous thing that’s happened in your married/dating/writing life? I’d love to know—could end up in my next book.

Names withheld—of course.