Love, like life, is not without risk.
I’m so excited to post my first ever interview on A Time to Love today. And what better way to celebrate a first than with one of my Lyrical sisters, Calisa Rhose? Calisa’s a wonderful author and a generous promotor and supporter of other people’s work. I’m so glad to have met her this past year. Welcome Calisa!
CR: Hi Jessi! I’m thrilled to be here answering questions about my second book, my first with our publisher, Lyrical Press.
JG: Congrats on Risk Factors! I’ve read it and loved it. It’s a sweet ride with lots of excellently-researched setting. I especially love the focus you put on Viv and Connors very exciting jobs. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Can you start by sharing the blurb for Risk Factors?
CR: Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps. Now Connor, a patient’s owner, is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for.
Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again.
Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?
WARNING: Happy-ever-after mixed with four-legged friends.
JG: Your heroine in Risk Factors, Vivian, is a veterinarian. What made you want to write about a veterinarian, and what challenges did that bring?
CR: This book was intended as a medical so I needed a heroine or hero in the field and veterinary medicine is all I know the slightest thing about. LOL I had to research a lot for Connor’s job because of that. My main challenge for Viv was to keep her professional and soft at the same time. That was possible by giving her an adorable clumsy quality.
JG: Tell me more about the challenges of writing Connor. How did you balance his career with his personality?
CR: Man, I learned rescue people are more standoffish and keep in their own bubble more than anything and I tend to write outgoing, speak-their-mind men. I had to constantly remind myself Connor is no chatty Kathy, but more internal with emotions.
JG: Much of the romantic tension in Risk Factors comes from Connor’s reluctance to risk his daughter’s happiness for a potential relationship with Vivian. What is one risk you’re glad you’ve taken?
CR: Mailing my first submission in 2006. It really broke the ice for me to just close my eyes and mail that first one away.
JG: I’ve been stalking you on your blog, Pen of the Dreamer, and I see that you wrote Risk Factors in 2.5 months. But you did some rewriting later on. In total, how long has Risk Factors been in the works, and how many versions of it have there been? Do you typically “fast draft” or was Risk Factors an exception?
CR: Thanks for stalking me! 😉 Yes, I wrote the majority of the book in two and a half months, but technically I began dry in late August 2010 and wrote the first three chapters by Oct 5. It was the other nine or so chapters I wrote between Oct and Nov 30th. Then it went through two weeks of self-edits a month with the M&B editor reading it and back to me for eight months of edits, and getting, seemingly, nowhere, before I took it back in August 2011 and did one last round of edits before I subbed to Piper and LPI. It’s only been the last year that I went through submission, edits and publication. All in all- start to completion- it’s been just over two years.
JG: One of my favorite writing topics is point of view, and as a fellow Lyrical author, I know you’re familiar with “deep point of view” (bringing the reader as deeply into the character’s head as possible). Is Risk Factors first or third person? How did you decide on which point(s) of view to write, and what were the biggest challenges in making your point(s) of view “deep”?
CR: I pretty much only write in third person, Jessi. Mainly because I need to have the hero’s pov and that’s tough to do gracefully in first person without yanking readers from the story, which I hate to do. It’s not too hard for me to go into deep pov as a rule, or I don’t think it is hard, but staying is a different thing all together. Things that happen is I get so involved in a scene I realize afterward I ‘told’ it and the segment is inundated with hads and wases and things like ‘she felt,’ ‘he thought,’ and so on. Things that pull a reader from deep pov, experiencing what the characters do, to telling simply in a character’s pov, not deep at all. It takes a lot of line edits to weed through all the telling and convert it to show sometimes.
JG: You’ve got some interesting secondary characters in Risk Factors, including some of the four-legged variety. How and when did you decide these characters were essential to Viv and Connor’s journey? Were they easy or hard to write?
CR: Being raised on farms and in the country or with a constant four-legged companion all my life, animals are a natural part of life to me. It just felt right that this was true for both Connor and Viv as well. I think the main animal that influenced either of the characters was Connor’s faithful, and very first dog, Heidi. She presented a situation that made Connor have to face his own demons head-on. It was one of the hardest scenes I’ve written too. The other critters were just an added touch of fun for me 🙂
JG: Thank you for visiting A Time to Love today! My final questions: (1) Do you have an exceprt to share? (2) Where can readers buy Risk Factorsand where can they go to learn more about you and your works?
Excerpt of Risk Factors:
It was close to five o’clock and Viv wanted to go home. Winter hadn’t reached the Midwest yet, but from September through October the temperatures often dipped and dove sporadically, before diving for the long winter ahead. There’d been a slight chill in the air that morning and she hoped for a few more weeks of warmth before harsh weather moved in.
She looked forward to a hot soak in the bathtub, but Skittles was due for pick-up first. Connor had assured her he’d pick her up, or have his father get her before five. She glanced at her watch again. Four-fifty-six. She didn’t mind staying late if she needed to; it would be a shame to leave the nervous animal alone another night.
She opened the small closet to put the dust mop away.
With a start, she spun and her hand caught the broom handle on her way around. Gasping, she grabbed uselessly, horrified as the cleaning tool flew sideways from the closet. In slow motion she saw it shoot out against Connor’s shoulder and fall with a sharp snap onto the tile floor.
“Oh! I’m so–so sorry! Are you hurt?” Instant heat rushed up her neck and she bent to reclaim the errant broom to shove into the closet. She slammed the door and leaned against it on a sharp breath.
“I’m fine. You worried your killer broom might attack again? You might consider putting a lock on the door,” he said with a crooked smile.
Puzzled, Viv looked around and realized with total humiliation how it appeared she’d trapped the broom inside the closet–when in actuality, she wanted to climb through the door beside the instrument and hide.
“Of course not. That would be silly. I didn’t expect you right now.”
“It’s two minutes of five. I told you I’d be here for Skittles. Is it too late?”
Right. The skunk. “No. I’m sure she’s more than ready to go home. Do you have the pet carrier to put her in?” She probably didn’t need to ask when Connor stood empty-handed before her.
He lowered his head and she knew he’d forgotten it, fought back a smile at his forgetfulness. “Sorry. I drove straight from work and didn’t think about it.”
“No worry. I have one you can borrow.” Which meant he’d have to see her again. She’d definitely need to see him again.
“Thank you. I’ll bring it back tomorrow.”
“Oh, there’s no rush. I keep a few on hand for emergencies.” She led him back to the cage where the skunk still huddled, and got a carrier while he opened the cage to retrieve his daughter’s pet. As he lifted the black fur ball out, Viv set a pink case next to him.
He hissed under his breath and almost let the animal loose. Viv opened the cage and held it upright for him to lower the skunk down inside and shut the door. Once he stood with the pet taxi, she detected a smear of red on one finger.
“She bit you?” Skunk bite, rabies, germs…
“It’s fine. When she’s scared she tends to nip a warning like a cat.” Connor’s lack of care concerned Viv, however.
“I should clean it with antiseptic before you go.”
“I’ll tend it when I get home.”
“But, it may have germs…get infected.”
“It’s not the first time, and her rabies vaccination is current. Thank you, but it’s not necessary.”
Viv stopped by a cabinet on the way to the front reception area to grab ointment and a Band-Aid.
Also, Risk Factors is on Authorgraph! Get your copy signed.
Calisa Rhose is an Okie, born and bred, through and through, and proud of it. While growing up, when she wasn’t on the back of a horse, she could be found with pen and paper in hand. Her writing career began with poetry in her younger days. Then she discovered Rock-n-Roll and cute musicians. Poetry turned into stories of romance and dreams. These days she lives with the same man who convinced her to take a romantic journey with him almost 30 years ago. After raising three strong daughters she spends her days loving their granddaughters, hoping for a boy someday, and writing. When she’s not writing, you can find Calisa putting on her editor hat and working to help other published and aspiring writers.
She is working on more projects with her favored contemporary cowboys, first responders and firemen, as well as, the occasional ‘other’ heroes- and their sexy female counterparts, those sassy, stubborn heroines.
Find Calisa at her website/blog