I attended the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference last week in San Diego. What a great opportunity to meet with my agent, editors, and my friends. The highlight of the week was learning that my novel “Untrue Colors” won the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award for Romantic Suspense.
I also did a book signing there with over 400 other authors including many of my favorites. If you are near the Orlando area next July, come on out. It’s such fun and all sales are donated to support literacy.
Welcome to Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Tour. A.S. Fenichel provided our topic for the week! What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of “researching a book?”
I’ve been fairly active all my life. I can ride a horse, shoot a gun, ski down mountains, and have gone scuba diving with sharks. I loved sailing as a kid, prefer hiking outside to the Stairmaster at the gym, and have finished 2 triathlons. I’ve worked on a road crew, as a loader at UPS, as a waitress, at the Massachusetts Statehouse, at the United Nations in Geneva, and in tall skyscrapers for huge corporations. My experiences help me with my writing, but most of them came long before I’d decided to be a writer. I’ve never decided to climb a mountain for a book.
I’m very efficient at computer research, but when it comes to locations, I prefer visiting. There is nothing like taking in not only the sights and sounds of a foreign culture, but also the attitudes of the people. The physical push of a crowd on the Champs Elysee in Paris, the smell of spilled beer at a beer garden in Munich, the style of the people of Tokyo, and the tranquility of the Fiji Islands.
There are very few locations I’ve written about that were not described straight from my memory. One place I never visited, however, is North Korea. My novel True Deceptions has a significant amount of scenes in the countryside there. I do not have a desire to visit North Korea, especially having published a book where businessmen are executed by the North Korean military. My research came from articles, photographs, and a study of Google maps to plan my hero and heroine’s escape.
The second location I wrote extensively about without having visited was Columbia. I set the location of the third and final novel in the True Lies series on the property of a drug cartel in the Andes Mountains. I researched the area again by Google, but I also found many documentaries about harvesting opium for heroin. The films provided some knowledge of the sights, smells, and dangers of living in such a place.
Future locations I’d love to visit include China, Russia, and India. I can imagine entirely new environments to explore. New tastes to discover, new sights to see, and new people to understand.
Where would you go if you had the opportunity?
Travel to J.J. Devine http://
Welcome to Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop!
If you’ve come from Kristi Rose, welcome!! Her book is sale- just an FYI!!!!
This week Jeanne McDonald provided the topic this week.
Outside of writing, what is your day job?
My career as an attorney had a bumpy start. A new graduate of law school, I couldn’t find a legal based job in the middle of a recession that had a few of the largest laws firms in Boston crashing down. Instead, I volunteered at Legal Assistance and helped clients who couldn’t afford legal services. Within a year, I had opened a small law firm and also became a court appointed attorney representing parents who had lost or were at risk of losing their children for abuse or neglect. The learning curve was huge and the stakes were high. I loved it, yet the constant pressure to not mess up and ruin someone’s life hovered over me constantly.
And then I moved to a new state for my husband’s medical training and found a job with an accounting firm doing tax law. I became an international corporate tax specialist. Working with some of the wealthiest corporations in the world had amazing perks. Instead of visiting the poorest homes in the area, I was dining at the best restaurants. I received an assignment to work in the London office complete with a furnished two bedroom flat a few blocks south of Big Ben. The hours were grueling at times, but I enjoyed the challenge.
And then, almost a decade after becoming a tax attorney, I moved to a new state for my husband’s career. This time, I had two children in tow and the long hours at the office didn’t seem so satisfying. I homeschooled the kids to keep their lives more stable while we moved yet again.
When the kids went to school, I began writing and I love it. It’s the job I was meant to do, and yet something was missing. There are so many people in the world who don’t have access to decent legal assistance. I’ve seen how huge corporations spend enormous amounts of money to maneuver through regulations for their own financial gain, while people who have done nothing wrong but been born poor have to fight a system rigged against them. And I have a law degree that has value to those people.
So I’m reentering the legal profession not in the corporate world, but back to my legal assistance days. I have a part time practice that represents children and their parents in abuse and neglect cases. The pay isn’t great, but the impact is huge.
I’m currently writing a legal thriller and having my characters head into a courtroom for a murder trial. It’s been fun mixing my two lives together.
Head on over to Jami Denise and see what she does when not writing amazing books.
One of the best reasons for going to writers conferences is meeting some of my favorite authors. At this conference, I was honored to speak with Eloisa James, Jane Porter, Terri Brisbin, Rebecca York and Kathy Kulig.
These women are not only amazing writers, they are amazing people. Perhaps that’s what makes them amazing writers.
I love my job!
by Veronica Forand
This is a picture of a seal. Actually, it’s an attempt by me to immortalize the seal in a photograph. I failed. Seals are tricky. They evade the camera as much as they evade capture from the great white sharks circling the area.
I stayed calm and waited for the exact right moment. Patience is my middle name, after Delusional and Quirky. The dark blob of the ocean floated toward the boat. And I waited. The seal lifted his head above the water, winked, and then descended before I had a chance to shoot it. IPhones are not made for action shots.
Everyone else on the boat returned to their seats. Not me. I stayed in the bow and watched, waited, swore a few times, and kept tapping the screen of my phone to prevent it from shutting down.
“Come on you slippery little mammal. One shot. Is that so much to ask?”
The boat started motoring away and I dropped my head in defeat, wiping a tear from my eye. On the horizon, the floating rodent popped up and, if the engine on the boat hadn’t created background noise, I would have heard the seal’s laughter.
But I had the last laugh. I hit the camera button and shot the mocking beast.
Don’t mess with me. I always get my man (or seal).
Next time, I’m taking a video. They can’t hold their breath forever.