Keep Writing and Dreaming

So . . . this happened! Taken Hostage WON the Contemporary Romance Writers Stiletto competition at the Romance Writers of America conference last week.

People read this blog for different reasons, but many of you are writers and each of us is on this very windy, twisty road regardless of what avenue you’re pursuing.

In 2006, I was sitting at one of the back tables at an ACFW conference at what would now be called the Carol Awards. This award is given to published authors of inspirational fiction.

At my table were all unpublished writers at the time and I can say I remember each of them to this day. Catherine West, Anne Love, and Peg Brantley. One other woman who sat with us is currently unpublished, but agented. Eighty percent of us became published, but each has taken a different path.

Was I lucky to sit at a table with such odds? No— I just sat with a bunch of women who were determined to never give up and keep writing.

I’ve heard many times that it takes TEN years to learn a craft. I think many believe writing a novel is easy because we write all the time— putting these words into sentences and paragraphs. Writing fiction is a craft and that’s about how long it took me from taking my writing seriously to a publishing contract. Then it took me countless contest submissions, finaling eight times for various awards before I actually won— another five years.

In writing, if you are serious about learning the craft, serious about learning from rejection, critiques and bad reviews, and serious about writing words every day (or whatever works for you) you can achieve publication (whether indie or traditional).

It. Is. Possible.

If I had any worthy advice it would be this— keep writing, keep honing your craft, and always— keep dreaming. And when that dream is realized— dream another.

The Christmas Season

Hello Redwood’s Fans!

Everyone getting ready to get their Christmas on? I know I definitely am. We already have our Christmas trees (yes, three!) up. Christmas cookie baking is on the horizon. There’s really not much I don’t love about the season.

I’ll be on a blog break until after the first of the year. I’ll actually be working on revising and updating many of these posts. I am still answering your medical questions (that are writing related) and you can reach me at

So, until next year– Merry Christmas!!

C.J. Lyons Interview: Part 2/2

Today, I’m concluding my two-part interview with New York Time’s bestselling author C.J. Lyons. If you’re a fan of medical thrillers and haven’t read C.J.’s books, now is the time to start. The focus of today’s questions is on aspects of the writing craft.

Jordyn:  After reading through several of your past interviews, I discovered we’re really kindred spirits. I, too, started writing at a very young age. Do you still have these stories? Have you adapted any of them into your current novels?

CJ: LOL! No, they’ll never see the light of day. My stories when I was young usually involved a girl and her horse off fighting some form of injustice in history (I was fascinated by history as a kid, so my stories were set in the Wild West or Civil War or American Revolution).
Jordyn:  I think you’re one author who has successfully navigated both traditional and e-book publishing. What would you say are the best three ways to market a novel?
CJ:  Know your reader, know your story, know your strengths. Write a story your reader will love and use your strengths to connect with them and let them know it’s out there. Really, it’s that simple. Marketing is making a promise to your readers and keeping it. How you do that depends on where your strengths lie.
Jordyn:  Your novels are character driven. What are some strategies you use to develop imperfect heroes and sympathetic villains?
CJ:  It all starts with my character’s default action at the start of the story. What they think is their greatest strength on page one, I slowly make their greatest weakness by the end of the story until they sacrifice that old default action and learn a new one. Villains are on their own hero’s journey (no one wakes up one day deciding to be the bad guy, we all think we’re heroes of our own lives) so I do the same with them, only in the end they don’t make that sacrifice and learn from their mistakes, allowing the hero to defeat them.
Jordyn:  I was sad to learn of the tragic murder of a friend of yours during your residency. How did writing serve to help manage the chaos in your life during that time?
CJ:  After Jeff’s death I wrote my first crime fiction story, Borrowed Time. I think I needed to switch from the SF/F I had been writing before then because suddenly I needed to know that justice could be served and that good guys could win, despite the forces rallied against them. I’ve been writing thrillers ever since.
Jordyn:  What was it like co-authoring a novel with Erin Brockovich? How did you divvy up the writing?   
CJ:  Erin and I have never actually met in person—her travel and work schedule is crazy! We spoke on the phone and via email. It was so amazing to work with a personal hero of mine and I love it that we were able to create a character that embodies the philosophy that both she and I share: that heroes are born everyday.
As a pediatric ER doctor, New York Times Bestseller CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.  
CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).
Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at