Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Writer 911: “Help, my character’s fallen and can’t get up.” (And Book Giveaway!!)

Good morning, Julie here, and I will be the first to admit that the last time I watched a medical drama was when I had a crush on Dr. Kildare. And yes, I am well aware that I am dating myself here with the younger set who have no clue who Richard Chamberlain even is. Nonetheless, there are two wonderful writers who are rapidly changing my clinical perception of medical romance—the Seekers’ very own Deb Giusti, of course, and … Candace Calvert.
Former ER nurse Candace Calvert gives readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine. Her new Mercy Hospital Series for Tyndale House (CRITICAL CARE, June 2009, DISASTER STATUS, April 2010) offers charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and an encouraging prescription for hope. Think “Grey’s Anatomy finds its soul.”

Trust me, when a book makes you tear up three times in the first 38 pages like Critical Care did to me, that’s a book you don’t want to miss. With true-life medical drama, magical prose and enough romantic tension to spike a high-grade fever, Critical Care is one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. So leave a comment or question and you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy and see for yourself. Without further ado, it’s my pleasure to give you … Candace Calvert.
In my three decades as an ER nurse, I answered countless questions and gave advice regarding illness and injury, often seasonally inspired: a sure sign of spring was the first lawnmower vs. toe incident (“I was wearing sandals. Do I need stitches?”). Lazy days of summer brought beestings and firework mishaps (“I got them from this buddy who sneaked them in from Mexico, and. . .”), followed shortly by autumn’s pumpkin carving trauma and acute turkey day indigestion (“Do you think it’s from that second helping of cornbread stuffing?”) Then, just when the first carols were sung, there was always that inevitable panicky and breathless phone call: “My baby ate a Christmas tree ornament! What should I do?”
Wear scrubs. Give advice. Answer questions. It was all part of the job.
And now, five years after retiring from the ER, I’m still doing those things, but in an entirely different capacity. I’m pulling on sassy red scrubs to sign copies of my new medical drama Critical Care (first in the Mercy Hospital series, Tyndale House), and the questions now often come from fellow writers: “I’ve got this character that I need put in a coma— a week would be helpful. Could you tell me how to do that?” Or, “My hero fell down a cliff. If I break his leg, how long until he could ride a horse?”
It seems that after striving all those years to control chaos and save lives, I’m now helping people stab, shoot, bludgeon and poison, give their characters heart attacks, strokes, asthma, pneumonia and recently . . . cholera. In truth, some days I feel like a hit man. But I’m glad to offer assistance and advice because the fact is that as writers we often have to deal with medical scenarios. And, thanks to TV shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, and House, our readers are becoming far more medically savvy. They expect details, and we need to get them right. It doesn’t mean that you’ll offer them from the focused POV of a medical professional, like in this opening snippet from Critical Care:
Don’t die, little girl.
Dr. Logan Caldwell pressed the heel of his hand against Amy Hester’s chest, taking over heart compressions in a last attempt to save the child’s life. Her small sternum hollowed and recoiled under his palm at a rate of one hundred times per minute, the best he could do to mimic her natural heartbeat. A respiratory therapist forced air into her lungs. Don’t die. Logan glanced up at the ER resuscitation clock, ticking on without mercy. Twenty-seven minutes since they’d begun the code. No heartbeat. Not once. Time to quit, but--he turned to his charge nurse, Erin Quinn, very aware of the insistent wail of sirens in the distance. “Last dose of epi?”
“Three minutes ago.”
“Give another.”
It’s more likely that your stories will have brief mentions of medical (or basic anatomical) material, from the POV of a lay person. Still, mistakes are made.
Like these very common flaws:
1) Describing blood vessels: emotional scenes where, “A vein in his forehead pulsed” (or throbbed). FLAW: Veins can’t pulse! Arteries carry the “pulse” from each heart beat. They are deep vessels, not easily visible. Describe instead, “A vein stood out on his forehead.”
2) Internal injuries: adding vague “internal injuries” to a character’s problems, as in “He had a sprained wrist and some internal injuries.” FLAW: True internal injuries are commonly a result of trauma to vital organs or large vessels. These can cause a person to bleed to death very quickly and require immediate surgery. Your character won’t be ready for a love scene the next day!
3) Skeletal injuries: writing “Thank goodness it was just a fracture not a break.” FLAW: A fracture and break are one in the same. And all require at least 6 weeks healing. Riding a horse would be tough.
4) Lapse of consciousness: giving your character a “convenient” extended period of unconsciousness for hours, days or weeks to aid in the story plot. “She fell and hit her head and when she awakened the next day, she found that her husband had cleared out the house and run away with her best friend.” FLAW: A prolonged loss of consciousness indicates a serious brain problem, often with a less than ideal outcome. Usual time expectation for loss of consciousness:
· Fainting (from emotional upset): sudden slowing of pulse/ drop in blood pressure robs brain of blood flow and person faints--lying down “cures” him and he is awake in less than one minute. Fainting from blood loss--person will regain consciousness lying down, but may need fluid resuscitation.
· Blow to head--concussion, brain ricochets against inside of skull--loss of consciousness is brief (few minutes) but person may be mildly disoriented, nauseous, for hours and have headache for days.
· Coma--prolonged unresponsiveness to voice, stimuli--indicates critical problem from head injury or disease process.
·Amnesia: Sorry, but true amnesia (though very handy plot-wise) is actually quite rare.
5) Pronouncement of death at trauma scene (seen often on TV shows where a young cop is shot and dies in fellow officer’s arms). FLAW: Everyone assumes death and no one tries to resuscitate! Someone should at least check for pulse, breathing and call 911. If transported to a trauma center (even under CPR) there may be a chance for survival. Don’t let your characters assume death unless the victim is cold and stiff, with vultures circling-- and out in the middle of a desert! Have someone call for help!
Medical Imagery
Even if you’ve never worked in a hospital, the sights, sounds, scents of that world are familiar to most people. Integrate brief passages of imagery to put your reader in the scene:
“The essence of Sierra Mercy ER hit Claire’s senses like an assault. Sounds: anxious chatter, a burst from the overhead PA speakers, beeping of electronic monitors, inconsolable crying, and painful screams. Smells: nervous perspiration, stale coffee, surgical soap, bandaging adhesive, the scorched scent of sterile surgical packs . . .
She took a slow breath and walked farther into the room, searching among the eddy of staff in multi-colored scrubs— technicians, nurses, and registration clerks. She forced herself to note the glassed-in Code Room, a small central nurses’ station and its large dry-erase assignment board, the semi-circular arrangement of curtained exam cubicles with wall-mounted equipment at the head of each gurney, and huge surgical exam lights overhead.
She tried desperately to avoid the anxious faces of the family members huddled close to the tiny victims. Because she knew intimately how much they were suffering. No, much worse than that. I feel it. I still feel it.
When she’d agreed to do this for Merlene, Claire had hoped this smaller ER, miles from the Sacramento trauma center and nearly two years later, would be somehow different, but nothing had changed.
So where can you go to find information that will enhance your medical scenes if you “don’t speak medical”? There are several basic information sites that I use:
1) Webmd Easy to understand, loaded with information:
2) Wikipedia Don’t discount this very familiar source, great stuff there.
3) Physician and medical suspense author CJ Lyons has a good reference page.
4) RWA medical romance chapter HeartBeat has information and members who are glad to share.
5) If your character’s “fallen and can’t get up,” you can always drop me a note via my website. I’ll be happy to answer your question or point you in the right direction.
Medical characters
Lastly, I thank you for not using stereotypes as medical personnel, even for your “walk on” characters. It’s so tempting to re-create a “Nurse Ratched,” snarky “Dr. House,” or M*A*S*H’s “Hot Lips Houlihan,” but those personality types are few and far between in these caring professions. Trust me; I know firsthand how many prayers are sent up from hospitals—by staff, too. As shown in this scene:
Claire’s stomach sank and she nodded, understanding all at once the source of her patient’s pain. She exhaled softly, then rested her hand on Jada’s shoulder . . .
“I was young and scared, and I made an awful mistake . . .” Jada’s tears spilled over, her dark eyes searching Claire’s. “Would you pray with me, Claire? It’s not against hospital rules, is it?”
“No,” Claire whispered as best she could around the lump in her throat. “Not against any rules at all.” She smiled and patted Jada’s shoulder. “And better than any medicine we have.” She glanced quickly at the drip chamber of the IV, feeling completely humbled; this moment had nothing to do with clinical skills. Yet it had everything—everything—to do with care and healing. Thank you, Lord.
And now your turn, please.
Have you included medical detail in your stories? Do you find the idea intriguing, intimidating? Do you have additional resources to share in this area? I’d also love to know how those of you who write historical fiction find the necessary information to describe medical care from past eras. Do tell.
And everyone who leaves a comment or question will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Critical Care, so be sure to sign in … STAT!


  1. I know who Richard Chamberlain is, and I'm only 20. (But I'm one of those costume drama nuts, so I know lots of those obscure (usually British) actors that no one else knows about. ;-) )

    And no Hugh Laurie-character in a medical novel??? How tragic!!! Surely, couldn't we write a VERY VEILED character so we can get him matched up FINALLY with someone and heal his broken heart???? (Ok. I confess to being a HUGE HL fan.)

    Anyway. Great post. I think that the medical genre is great! Very excited!

  2. Uh...I'm more likely to be searching for information about dealing with a death/crime scene than providing TLC.

    And, yes, I remember Dr. Kildare. There was a time when I watched him regularly.

    But, Candace, your books sound like something I would really enjoy reading.


  3. Hi Candance--great post! Your series sounds wonderful and a real boost to the medical romance genre!

    My first stab at writing was a medical romance--but in my nursing speciality, medical research. That was before I realized I had more of a heart for writing historical romance fiction.

    Blessings for your series--I'd love to read them all!

  4. I have a "medical" scene in in 2 of my books, and I gotta be honest. I tried to keep the details as vague as possible (but still accurate) because I, in now way, am a medical expert!!

  5. Good morning, all, and my apologies for sleeping in this morning. I'm making up for it with raspberry-cheese or peach-cheese blintzes, banana-chocolate chip muffins and blueberry French toast (notice the fruit theme? My sad attempt at healthy!). And, of course, plenty of fresh, hot cinnamon-hazelnut coffee or orange-spice tea.

    Welcome, Candace!! Sooo great to have you here, but let me apologize right off the bat for the various font sizes in the post. Being the anal type I am, I worked for hours to try to get Blogger to display only one size font, but since Blogger and I don't always see eye to eye on things, I'm afraid it won. And, yes, I say this with a tic in my eye!

    I challenge any Seeker who is more techno-savvy than me (which is ALL of them!) to attempt to fix it if they know how. Until then, my apologies once again for the mish-mash.


  6. Hi Candace,

    Thanks for the excellent information. I love reading medical fiction - please enter my name!

  7. Candace,

    Thanks for the great rundown on some basic medical terminology. I haven't used anything medical in my stories, yet :)

    However, many years ago, my grandma told me that when she was young, her mother took her brother to the doctor. Some "minor" surgery was recommended. I thought it was to remove his tonsils. Maybe it was his appendix (can you tell I'm not medically inclined ha).

    She was born about 1888, so this would have been the early 1900's. She had an excellent memory until she passed away at 100. Anyway, she said the doctor said he would operate on her young brother but her mother would have to hold his hands and keep him down during it because he didn't have any way of numbing it or putting him under.

    Does anyone know if this could have been correct? Well, her mother refused to do it. This has haunted me so maybe this is my chance to learn the truth. :)



  8. Oops. I would love to win the book.

    By the way, Julie, you made up for tardiness with the great spread. Yum!

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  9. Hi Candace! Great post. I'm glad I checked Twitter this a.m. Vast wealth of info and resource references for those writing this kind of novel. Thanks; and blessings on your book!

    I'm thrilled for you!

  10. ALEXADRA ... Bless you, you sweet YOUNG thing, you!! Knowing who Richard Chamberlain at the age of 20 is balm to my aged soul, costume drama nut or no!

    HELEN ... ah, another Dr. Kildare fan -- I'm feeling better all the time ... that is until the first young whelp comes along who says Dr. Kill-Who?

    PATTY ... historical romance won out, eh? Hey, has anybody ever written a historical medical romance? I guess you could consider Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series somewhat of a historical medical romance since the heroine is first a nurse, and then a doctor in a time-travel story that begins in the 1940s and travels back into the 1600s. :)

    KRISTA ... Oh, man, I know what you mean!! I have TONS of medical situations in book 1 of my next series, A Hope Undaunted, which is Katie O'Connor's story. Fortunately for me, I have a daughter-in-law who is an OB-GYN, so I ran ALL medical situations/terminology past her, which felt pretty good when my editor questioned them, let me tell ya!

    A NOTE TO ALL WHO LEAVE COMMENTS FOR THE BOOK GIVEAWAY: Please leave your e-mail address in a phishing-safe way such as julieatcharterdotnet or check in with the Seeker Weekend Edition for winner's name.

    Good luck to all ... you're gonna LOVE this book!!


  11. Good morning, everyone! I've got my (half-caff) cinnamon hazelnut in hand and am looking forward to connecting with you here.
    Julie, no worries about the fonts--you probably caught that from me and, besides, banana chocolate chip muffins are a known cure! Thank you for the kind introduction and the praise for Critical Care; I'm so beyond honored that you enjoyed it. As for Dr. Kildare, I absolutely remember him. Though I was a rabid fan of Ben Casey MD, to the point of wearing one of those white doctor tunics to grammar school (with one button open, just like his)!
    Here . . . let me pour you a cup of coffee while I start reading comments. :-)

  12. Alexandra, LOL about Hugh Laurie--I watch him too, with complete fascination. And agree, for sure, that the biggest draw is that we hope to finally see him happy and emotionally connected. I love flawed characters (aren't we all?) and know that those flaws make for the finest of growth arcs . . . but doubt my characters will ever be quite that edgy! Although I did write a fascinating "dark" character in Disaster Status . . .
    Thank you for stopping by! :-)

  13. Helen, death and crime scene--fascinating and hugely popular. Where do you go for research?

  14. Patty, thanks for stopping by. Here's a toast (or blintz?) to a fellow nurse!

  15. Krista, great to "see" you here!
    One of the great things about writing from the point of view of a non-medical character, is that you can be more vague on technical detail. And there is always a fine line between giving the reader enough to put him "in the scene" and overwhelming him. This, from moi who admits to peeking through my fingers at CSI scenes sometimes! ;-)

  16. Hi Candace, What a great post full of info. I don't write medical, but its wonderful to know of the resources to get info in case I need some.

    Thanks for joining us here in Seekerville.

    And Julie the spread is wonderful. Glad you woke up and I have to laugh. You do have one seeker less computer savvy than you and that is me. LOLl Thank goodness for Tina. But I liked all the different fonts. Thought you girls had done that on purpose.

  17. Hi Edwina--glad you're a medical fiction fan. And you're entered!

  18. Wow, I really, truly, deeply dug your column. Thanks for the good reminders and links for writers. I will be checking those out!

    One of my main characters is a frontier doctor. So far I've used library books and the internet for research.

    One of my co-workers is taking college classes to become a medical assistant. We had a great time between burger flipping, looking through her anatomy book. I needed to see sternum, ribs, heart, lungs and aorta to nearly kill a character who's kicked in the chest by a horse.

    I don't know if I will ever feel I've researched well enough.

    Back to my frontier doctor. I'm sobered to read WebMD (my favorite)and think about the time frame and subtract options for our hero. No X-rays, no antibiotics, no pain meds other than opium products, no antiseptic or anesthesia, even ether, because the story is set earlier than that. No power tools for amputations or dental work.

    Then again, when I included a scene where he's trying to determine whether a sick child has small pox or not -- how thankful I am for modern medicine.

    For contrast to his educated approach, I checked out "Hoosier Home Remedies" by Purdue pharmacy professor Varo Tyler.

    Like DH's grandmothers, Dr. Tyler found evidence from the pioneers that onions are darn near a cure-all ;-)

  19. Wow, Cathy, interesting memory! I'm guessing that in those days they only used ether (dropped onto a mask)? I'd be interested in knowing for sure, too--anyone ever checked into that?

  20. Cheryl, thanks for hopping over from Twitter. :-)

  21. What an informative post! My first manuscript has a lot of medical detail in it, and I spent tons of time researching university websites, medical studies, and talking to doctor friends. As far as the stereotypes of medical workers, I drew from my experiences with recent hospital visits when I pulled nurse personalities, etc.

  22. Hi, Candace! How do you get any writing done with all your fellow writers asking you medical questions?! LOL

    I've used lots of medical stuff in my books. My Merck Manual comes in very handy! And for my historical doctoring needs, the internet is wonderful. You'd be surprised at the historical medicine sites you can find, including what people used to sew up gashes in the 1300's and the kinds of herbs to treat a fever or to keep away fleas!

    I have a question about how I could keep my hero in and out of consciousness and semi-delirious for several days, up to a week. He has the flu and he gets hit over the head. Would that do it?

  23. Sandra, thank you for the welcome. It's an honor to be here!

    Ann: your book sounds fabulous, and your research (including burger flipping and curative onions! LOL!)so interesting. I completely admire historical writers--such a lot of work; has to be a labor of love. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Candace,
    Thank you for all the info. I will be sure to check out the sites. And I might have some questions for you, too. I am working on a book where the hero's parents are both doctors and I have no idea what I'm doing! I've been trying just to work my way around the medical scenes but it hasn't been working...

    I would love to read your book. Please enter me in the drawing! violin-girl-2 at yahoo dot com

  25. Hi Candance! What a wonderful, and informative, blog post. In my novel, my MC has amnesia for most of the story. It was fun, and interesting, doing some research to make sure everything was legit. :)

    I'd love to read Critical Care! Sign me up!

  26. Sarah, thanks for a leaving a comment. It sounds like you indeed did your research, right down to observing health care workers in "action." Did you submit, publish, that particular manuscript? It always puzzled me that while medical drama is so very popular on TV, that it hasn't translated widely into American fiction. The UK has long loved medical fiction. And I'm SO glad that Tyndale House decided to "scrub in" with my series idea.

  27. No Dr. House? Who wouldn't love reading a character like that?

    I wasn't a big Dr. Kildare fan, or Richard Chamberlain for that matter.

    Great information. The average reader probably doesn't realize the things you've pointed out are wrong, because they're not wrong enough to be unbelievable. But the entire medical community would be put off, for sure. That's how I feel when I read books with settings/occupations/general knowledge that I know something about, and it doesn't quite match up to what I know.

    No writer can get everything right, or even identify everything they need to research, but thankfully the Internet makes such research easier.

    pwriter1 [at] yahoo

  28. Lots of great info! I would love to win this book, but even if I don't it's going on my wish list!


  29. Hi Melanie!

    Is your hero contemporary? The reason I ask, is that any altered level of consciousness is explored, treated vigorously these days--labs, CT scans, MRI, etc.

    To keep him "delerious" and "in and out of consciousness" for several days would put him at risk for a serious medical problem. The head injury would have to be a bad one. And, from viral illness, you'd only see this extent of problem with meningitis or, these days, from complications of H1N1? You could, I suppose, have him febrile, spiking high fevers that make him "delerious." But, again, it's not likely this would go on more than a day without rigorous medical intervention. Unless he's somewhere without access/transportation.
    The problem is, you likely want him to bounce back quickly and that's not realistic if he was this sick (or injured). Tough call!

    But if your hero isn't contemporary, you could get away with more . . .

  30. Oops, sorry, I should have said that it is 1886, a rural area with the nearest doctor many miles away.

    No, I don't want any serious complications that linger past a week or two.

  31. Melanie, that does make it easier. I'd probably go with a head injury--he could have a small bleed (subdural hematoma)that slowly absorbs. It would render him unconscious initially, then he'd have headaches, confusion, visual disturbance (and light senstivity), dizziness,gait disturbance, nausea, sleepiness, perhaps some fever, for several days or even a week. It should slowly improve. Your resources should have some good info on that.

  32. All I have to say is you had me at the book cover...hmmm very nice lol!

    That was a fun post!

  33. Ralene, Victoria--glad you're including medical detail. Thanks for stopping by!

    Patricia--you're so right about the Internet; we'd be trekking to the library a lot more! And I agree wholeheartedly that House is amazingly unique, but not all what you normally see within the hospital setting. Perhaps a quirk or two (including grumbling and sarcasm!)but not the whole package. I was signing books for a nurse the other day and she said she loves House, and her husband (a physician!) said "That guy would be fired on the first day!"
    True . . . but where's the entertainment in that? ;-)

  34. Candace:

    You asked where I go for research.

    I use the internet a lot, but for most things 'sciency' I call my daughter. She's a college science instructor, and a high ratio of her students are nursing students.


  35. Welcome to Seekerville, Candace! Thanks for the practical, fascinating post. I'm glad we hooked up in the PAN lounge a couple years ago at RWA. Critical Care sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read it!

    I handled the medical aspects of Courting the Doctor's Daughter by not giving my characters a serious condition. LOL To make sure the home remedy my hero was peddling had value, I researched herbs. I have a replica of a 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalogue with a pharmacy section. Fun reading.

    Julie, thanks for the fabulous spread this morning! The peach-cheese blintzes are amazing!


  36. YAY Candace!

    I enjoyed your post! Great job! Your expertise is greatly needed! It irks me when a character in a book I am reading awakens from a coma, and instantly, he or she is just as they were before, fully awake and aware of what's going on. It's just not realistic.

    Anyway, you are appreciated!

    your facebook friend Denise

    I am going to enter my cousin's name in the drawing. True story: She was in a coma a few years ago due to complications of a surgery. Her family was advised to terminate life support and let her go. They did, and she pulled through! She has some brain damage, but she is still wonderful! An odd side effect: she has become a voracious reader, and cannot get enough Christian fiction. It's true! God is so amazing how He works it all out for the good. Her email address:

  37. Hi Candace,

    Great informaiton! Man, I'm glad I stopped by here today. Your insight was so helpful and timely. Oh my goodness did I learn a lot.

    Thank you, my dear, and also thanks to Julie and Seekerville,

    Sharon Ball

  38. Your series sounds wonderful and I thought this post was very helpful and informative. My current WIP has some medical aspects to it. I did research on the web and then interviewed a doctor who is helping me be as accurate as possible.

    I agree that the people in the medical profession are friendly, helpful and many I've been around have also been believers. The doctor I asked to help me turned out to be a big reader and is excited about being involved in this part of the process.

    Thank you again for sharing.


  39. I LOVE medical mysteries. And if I recall, Dr.Harry Kraus applauded your novel. That cinches it for me.

    Please enter me. Thank you

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  40. If I mention I once had a crush on Dr Kildare, too, that rather dates me, doesn't it. Anyone remember Ben Casey? The very hairy Ben Casey--I can only imagine if the show was on now they would wax all the body hair off him. But I digress.

    Webmd and Wikipedia are sources I've used--the advantage is reliable info in terms non-medical people can understand. I also use text books.

  41. My sister is a doctor and she said the first time she was working in an emergency ward, during her internship, and the madness began, someone heart attack or something...she was just practically run over. everyone moves, everyone knows exactly what to do. The doctor shouting orders, everyone understanding and grabbing whatever he/she called for.
    After a bit she figured it out and had her own place in that flurry, but to capture that overwhelmed fear is tricky and usually a medical scene is written through the eyes of a friend of the victim, so that impression would stand.

    Great post, Candice and Julie.

    I just finished Debby's Christmas book, a short one in with a novella by Margaret Daley called Christmas Peril and I'm so impressed with all that Debby knows.

    The experiences you've had, Candace, give great depth and authenticity to your work

  42. Split another banana chocolate chip muffin, anyone? What a spread!
    I'm smiling at all the mentions of Dr. House, especially because I remember one very generous review of CRITICAL CARE actually comparing the hero, Dr. Logan Caldwell (aka "McSnarly") to Gregory House. She said something like, "He could be a cousin." LOL! What do you think, Julie? The gorgeous man does indeed have some rough edges and is definitely in need of an attitude adjustment . . . House genes? ;-)

  43. Colleen, thanks for stopping by and for your interest!

    Kerri, I so agree with the cover image of "Dr. McSnarly." I keep telling the editors that I'm gathering a bus-load of readers who want to drive out and meet that guy!
    They tell me my cover guys have caused quite a stir in the pub office too--with first-time (selfless) offers from employees to help the art department find the next cover model! They may have outdone themselves on fire captain Scott McKenna of Disaster Status--you can check it out on my website!

  44. Helen, how great to have a science expert in the family!

    Janet, I always enjoy talking with you! And I'm totally grinning about your great "find" in the Sears catalog--what a fabulously unexpected resource!

  45. Denise, so good to see you here--I always enjoy our interactions. :-)
    Amazing story about your cousin--our God is an awesome God! Thank you for sharing, and entering her name!

  46. Sharon, you're entirely welcome to anything! So good to see you here. :-)

    Lee, how wonderful! I have a doctor (still working in my old ER) who volunteers to read my scenes, too. I love it when they are so enthusiastic about helping--a writer's world is intriguing to them as well. All the best to you!

  47. Linda, thanks for your interest. And, yes, I'm so blessed that Dr. Harry Kraus' endorsement appears on the front cover of Critical Care.

    Ben Casey--yes, he was my fave! With Dr. Zorba and Maggie, and . . . see? Offer me a muffin and I'll spill my guts, regardless of how "vintage" that makes me. :-)

  48. Had to come in and grab another muffin...I need something do soak up that extra cup of java...

    And McSnarly???? House cousin? Whew-ee!!! I am going to read this now! ;-) And I was going to mention that he's very handsome as well!!! What is it w/doctors? ;-)

  49. Mary, your sister captured it straight-on for sure: it's all about controlling chaos, finding the spot where you are a cog in the wheel that makes that happen. Alternately terrifying, frustrating, tragically sad,ridiculously humorous, and overall completely rewarding.I have seen God's hand at work so many times--a huge blessing, indeed.

    Thank you for your welcome! :-)

  50. I have read and enjoyed your book and have my order in for the second. Thanks for a very informative post.

    Regarding Amnesia, I just watched the old movie "Random Harvest" with Greer Garson about amnesia of a wounded soldier and their romance. It was based on a book by James Hilton author of "Lost Horizons".

  51. Hi Barbara--I'm so glad you enjoyed Critical Care, and I'm eager to share Disaster Status with everyone.

    I'll have to check out that movie; sounds intriguing. Amnesia is always a fascinating concept, and so very tempting to use in novels. But still, doesn't happen easily. Though if the story is captivating enough, I'd bet readers would let that fact slide. :-)

  52. This book sounds wonderful!!!


  53. So nice to have you in Seekerville, Candace! Can't remember if we were formally introduced, but I sort of met you at Natasha's table at the ACFW awards. I was sitting next to Julie.

    I almost always have some kind of medical situation in my books. Thankfully my current crit partner is a retired nurse, and I'm acquainted with a few other medical professionals who share their expertise. I love the online sources you mentioned, too. If you go to reliable sites, you can find scads of helpful and very detailed info! And sometimes, to get a personal perspective, I visit some of the forums and chat boards about conditions I need to know about.

  54. CANDACE SAID: I remember one very generous review of CRITICAL CARE actually comparing the hero, Dr. Logan Caldwell (aka "McSnarly") to Gregory House. She said something like, "He could be a cousin." LOL! What do you think, Julie?

    Oh yeah, Candace, definitely! Except way, way, WAY more pulse palpitating ... :)


  55. Julie--You mean that McSnarly's right up there in your esteem with . . . Dr. Kildare? ;-)

    Myra, so glad to see you again--and meet officially. There was so much going on at the ACFW awards dinner (with Natasha's table FULL of finalists!) that I think we merely smiled and nodded. And shared our star-spangled Julie!

    What a great idea to go to chat sites/forum for certain medical conditions. I imagine that would give you not only technical information, but good insight into the emotions of the patients. So very important.

  56. What a great post, Candy! I enjoyed meeting you at the FHL luncheon a few years ago--I think it was when RWA was in Atlanta. I believe you had just sold your first medical book. The book sounds fantastic!

    I loved all the info you gave today! I come from a medical background also, though I haven't put any of it in my writing yet. I've always thought it would be fun to attempt a medical thriller. (I'm a former microbiolgist with worst-case-scenario-itis.) :)

    Thanks so much for being with us today! I'm tucking away all the ER info to keep on hand for when I'm writing. Thanks for sharing!

  57. Hi Missy! I remember meeting you: it was FHL Dallas, I believe. And Natasha was just beginning to query editors for my book. I met so many of the CBA writers and KNEW it was where I "belonged." :-)

    I know what you mean about medical thrillers, tempting isn't it? And always a favorite with readers.

    So great to see you here!

  58. Well, bummer. I KNOW I posted this morning, but now I can't find it. So I'm back. Certainly don't want to miss out on this drawing!

    I was in love with Dr. Kildare. Went to nursing school to meet him. But met a cute drug rep instead. With many years of nursing in many specialties and several years working in medical transcription, I should be able to weave in some medical stuff. ;)

    Great post. Thanks!

  59. Candace! You are too awesome for words! I tend to give all my characters an injury of some sort. Not torturous, you understand, but they have to suffer...

    Thanks for clarifying the details that so often get tripped up, by the writer and the reader : ) Okay, arteries throb, veins don't...

    Thanks too for the references. Sometimes I have questions that are too stupid even for my fellow Seekers : )

    It's great having you here and I hope you come back soon!!

  60. Hi Candace:

    I read “Critical Care” when it first came out and loved it. I just re-read my review and I was of the opinion at the time that your hero made Dr. House look like a choir boy. From my review:

    “The hero is the grumpy ER doctor from hell. He had a bad childhood and never saw any of his prayers answered. He is now a non-believer. He is so bad that he had to leave his last hospital because he was driving so many nurses to quit and file formal complaints against him.”

    I think anyone who likes the TV show House, will love “Critical Care”. Also from my review I appreciated the way you delivered on all three aspects of an inspirational, medical, romance.

    “Critical Care” provides it all! The author, a former ER nurse, delivers the medical details so essential to fans of the medical story. Medical ‘junkies’ will love this story. The inspiration story is totally integrated into the plot and worthy of a stand-alone inspirational novel. The romance is genuine and rich enough to stand out as a series romance.”

    I actually have a physician/physicist and two physician assistants in my WIP but it is not a medical book per se.

    I do have two questions: How would you rank medical personnel from highest, most prestigious to lesser status.

    Specialties of MDs
    Licensed Practical Nurse
    Physician’s Assistant

    Also in a historical novel should you use the then used name for a disease even if the reader will not know what you are talking about? For example 'Consumption' for 'TB' or ‘The Falling Disease” for 'epilepsy'?


  61. When I saw you were going to be coming, CAndace, I literally did a happy dance!! I have only read one "medical" book that didn't have much medical "stuff" in it. It was only a LI book, so I wasn't expecting it. However, I watch Grey's, PP, and House, but Grey's stands supreme!!! Lol...sorry other show fans!

    I haven't read your book, but loooooooovvvvvvveeeee medical shows, so I'm very interested in reading books too. Your whole post kept me very interested. Sorry, I don't know who Richard Chamberlain is(I'm only 17! Lol....)...

    A bit off topic, but do any of you watch/have watched ER? I have been looking at it a lot and am not sure if I wanna try it. Someone posted the first 20-ish minutes of the first episode of season 1 on YouTube and I watched that and thought it was pretty good. In store I can buy season 1 for $25 or online seasons 1 and 2 together for $25. It seems like a bit of a no brainer to me which option I would choose, but I'm looking for suggestions from people who've seen it. If any of you have, it would be a HUGE help, thanks!!!

    Okay, back to you Candace, you had me hooked by "think Grey's Anatomy found it's soul"! I'm for sure gonna check out your book! Where can I find it?

    Thanks and please stop by often!!
    P.S. We had a snowday today. When we measured 2 hours ago-ish, we had gotten 8 inches since this morning and it's still snowing like crazy! Lol...this really stinks though because it means we have to make up the day BEFORE Xmas break. So, we'll have school Monday the 21. Arghhhhhh!

  62. Sandra, so glad you posted--saw your comment and FB and was hoping you'd stop by! Love it that you're a nurse and found your "cute drug rep"! :-)

    Sounds like with your clinical background and transcription experience, you'd have both action and "lingo" down! Good luck to you!

  63. Vince, long time no see--and LOL, you caught McSnarly dead-to-rights; he so wasn't easy, was he? Good thing he's got those blue eyes to cushion the blow--and that God's grace is there for the asking. :-)

    Again, I so appreciate your kind words regarding my work; I'm sure everyone here would agree that encouragement is so important to us "newbies"--and the veterans as well.
    You'll get me in trouble "ranking" med staff. So many egos, so many differences regardless of education. But I'd say, "by the book" status it might go this way:
    MD specialist (and they will ALL argue they are most important, so I won't go there!)
    MD Resident
    MD Intern (though experienced nurses will lift an eyebrow)
    Physician's Assistants (Ditto on the nurse, here too)
    RN's (and we "specialize" too--ask an ER nurse and ICU nurse to compare their skills. And stand back!)

    As for your question on the historical medical terms: I don't write historical, but several here do. Weigh in, anyone?

    I hear you're almost finished with your book, congratulations Vince!
    And, again, thanks for stopping by. Look for a Disaster Status review copy in the near future. :-)

  64. Audra, LOL--love it: "I tend to give all my characters an injury . . ." You could join me as a "hit man." ;-)

    Thank you for the kind welcome, and I'd love to be invited back one day!

  65. Hi Hannah--I completely love your enthusiasm! :-)

    And I'm so glad you enjoyed the post--my guess is that the Mercy Hospital series would be right up your alley if you like Grey's. Lots of adrenalin-inducing action, some humor, suspense, and plenty of relationships--with the exception that my storylines are more of a "hope opera." :-)
    You can find the books online at Amazon, B&N, CBD and more. Also in many Christian bookstores as well as other big stores--ask them to order it if its not on the shelf! Also, Critical Care is in many libraries.

    As for your question about the series ER. I used to follow it regularly when it first came out, and to tell you the truth it was SO very realistic that I found myself tensing and second-guessing as if I were wading in on a real Code Blue. It felt like I was working another shift! So, yes, quite realistic and I think the storylines were more humanistic than Grey's IMO. I saw the series finale (first episode I'd watched in years) and was impressed. Plus, good grief, you get George Clooney in his youth!
    I think you'd like it.

    Stay warm! And thanks for checking in. :-)

  66. Lol Candace! Thanks for the great info! As far as your book is concerned, I think I might check at the [very] small library in town first. Then I'll check at the only used bookstore around. If they don't have it in store, I will ask them to order it. My mom likes that better than ordering it on her credit card : D

    As for ER, I think I might try it. George Clooney : O Mmhmm...I have to agree! you watch Grey's? Because, I personally think that looks might be one reason I like Grey's more. I mean, the doctors in Grey's and PP are sooo much better than House! I'm sorry, I know that's terrible to say, but they really are. Shondra really know how to pick her doctors! *wink* One of my faves *tear* was Dr. george O'Malley. : ) Very cute!
    Okay, off to put candles in windows! Thanks again!!
    P.S. I know I asked this earlier on Myra's post, but I'll ask here. Has anyone read The Coffeehouse Mystery series?

  67. Hannah, I do watch Grey's and agree about the actors. So sad to lose George. My goal in this book series is to offer all the excitement and emotion of the TV dramas, but with "more"--meaning the hope that comes with faith. It bothers me that TV dramas almost always leave this out, when IMO (and especially in these challenging times) faith is the "best medicine" of all. :-)

  68. Great post! I love medical fiction books and would love to read this one. Please enter me. Thanks!

  69. Oh, thank you so much, Candace, for the great subdural hematoma info!!! That sounds perfect. :-)

    And your books sound great. I hope to get one soon!

  70. HI Candace,

    I loved your posting today...I have read many excellent reviews of your masterpiece...It's definately on my 'wish list.'

    I enjoyed reading your 'dictionary' of medical terminology in relation to novel writing. It does put a certain spin on things, doesn't it?

    Please add my name to this fabulous book giveaway.



    PS: to Julie...Do you remember watching Dr Joe Gannon from "Medical Center" and Marcus Welby MD?

  71. Karen, thank you for the kind words. And I don't know about Julie, but I definitely remember Dr. Welby and Dr. Gannon! :-)

  72. Hey Julie and Candace! Loved the post, and Critical Care sounds awesome! Love to cover too!

    I just started Debby Giusti's Yule Die. Wow! Talk about fast-paced. Wonderful!

    I haven't had time to read all the comments, but speaking of historical medical books, Elizabeth White has a Love Inspired Historical set in New Orleans called "Crescent City Courtship"....Abigail Neal dreams of escaping her life in the slums of New Orleans someday. But how could a woman alone and unprotected ever fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor?

    Check Beth out here:

  73. Pam, both books sound great--I've read their work. :-)

    Thank you for stopping by.

  74. What an awesome, awesome post. I am a former Oncology Certified R.N. Sooooo appreciated your post.

    BTW, apologies for being late to today's post. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    Gorgeous cover on your book!!!!

  75. Tina, hi--great to meet you here!
    I'm so delighted to have been invited to post and get to connect with all of you. Including some fellow nurses. Thank you. :-)

  76. Well, Candace, I was going to put up our Christmas tree this weekend, but I've got one of those babies who'd probably eat an ornament. And a hook. Now I'm nervous!

    I've had some trauma scenes in one of my books, and I did talk to a nurse about the injuries. I was glad I did--I would have totally gotten it wrong otherwise. What a shock. :)

  77. This series sounds wonderful. I love reading medical novels.

    Yes, I know who Dr Kildare (Richard Chamberlin) is so am aging myself as well.

    Please enter my name.


  78. Hi Candace,
    Oh, I'm so glad you've visited Seekerville. It's a great place to be :-)
    Thanks for the post and all the wonderful info.
    The only medical scene I've placed in one of my novels is one of my secondary characters getting a TBI from a car accident. Mild TBI at that. - though the character has residual short term memory loss, word finding trouble, and difficulty sustaining attention for a little while afterwards.

    In my wip, my heroine sustains a concussion from a car accident, but is only unconscious for a few minutes and wakes up nauseous and disoriented - so gee, got that one right ;-) Her responses to her situation are slow as well - (she's trapped in a car that is slowly filling with water,is unable to move her leg (broken) and her seatbelt is jammed)

    Btw, Alexandra - I love Hugh Laurie in House. HIlarious character.

    Thanks so much Candace.

  79. SANDRA!!! NO ... your pic looks WAY to young to remember Dr. Kildare. What, do you watch reruns with your grandma or something???

    VINCE ... excellent review, as always. And dead on about McSnarley.

    KAREN ... Yes, I DO remember watching Dr. Joe Gannon ... another hottie in scrubs, for sure. You have good taste, sweetie. Just wait till you get a load of McSnarley in Critical Care ... YUM!!

    And, YES, CANDACE, McSnarley is definitely in the ranks with Dr. Kildare, truly. Thanks so much for guest blogging today -- you did a FABULOUS job and most importantly, got the Seeker readers realllllly excited about your work, which is good. Grin ... just WAIT to they read it -- talk about EXCITEMENT!! :)


  80. Oh, Julie! I LOVE you! But I AM the grandma.

    I'm so excited about having found this site.

    Now I have to go see if I can find Dr. Kildare on You Tube . . .

  81. Oh, Julie! I LOVE you! But I AM the grandma.

    I'm so excited about having found this site.

    Now I have to go see if I can find Dr. Kildare on You Tube . . .

  82. Bummer. I don't know why that posted twice. Anyway, I found this:

    And we forgot Dr. Ben Casey. Man, woman, birth, death, infinity.

    I'm done now. ;)

  83. How does this sound, Candace:

    “Check him out, Ellen,” Berry said.
    Rudzinski touched his face, lifted one eyelid, then the other. She ran her hands down his arms, his legs. “Nothing’s broken. He’s got a slight concussion, and he’s probably in shock. He needs to be kept warm.”
    The commander stood. “Okay. Haul him off to his bunk. I’ve got to call in and report this.”
    “No.” Zinovy struggled to a sitting position, ignoring the fireworks going off in his head. “You must not report this to the base.”

  84. Hi Sally, so glad you stopped by.

    I share your concern: I have a new grand baby just beginning to crawl!

    Did your resource nurse get a kick out of helping you with your novel? I included an ER nurse friend in the Acknowledgments of Critical Care and she was really pleased.

  85. Jo--thank you for coming by. :-)

    Pepper, thank you for the welcome. Your medical details sound spot-on, and terrifying: trapped in a water-filled car, wow!
    Thank you for sharing!

  86. Sandra, my big brother was an artist and he drew a picture of Ben Casey on a sweatshirt for me, along with the symbols: man, woman, birth, death, infinity--you brought it all back with your comment! :)

  87. Oh, SANDRA, what a hoot!! I forgot that Richard Chamberlain could sing ... uh, I guess I was too busy looking at his lips to notice that sound was coming out ... :)

    And dear Lord ... either that's an old picture or you were a child bride ... say eight years old? :)


  88. Hi Ginny--your excerpt sounds well written. :-)
    I don't know the mechanism of injury (fall, explosion?), but assessments always begin with establishing consciousness, ABC (airway, breathing, circulation) and then move on down the body from head and neck to chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities.
    I particularly like, "fireworks going off in his head"--this sounds realistic from the POV of someone with a new head injury.

    Thank you for stopping by!

  89. JULIE, thank you again for inviting me here (and for the cyber goodies and coffee!). It was a pleasure to connect with your readers and several of the other Seekers--wonderful, wonderful group!
    I'm looking forward to signing a copy of CRITICAL CARE for the giveaway winner!



  90. Candace,

    Thanks so much for such an informative blog. I've written a time travel historical romance, and finding medical information was very difficult.

    Madame de Pompadour is a character in my book, and she had a vaginal disorder, migraines and chronic coughing and fatigue (which by later chroniclers was diagnosed as tuberculosis). Although she was seen by many court physicians, they didn't appear to keep notes. All of King Louis XV's mistress' maladies and cures seemed to be recorded in history by her principle lady in waiting, her brother, friends and the king himself. Very difficult to find other than annecdotal information. What fascinates me about her illnesses is that they changed history, and that's part of what my manuscript centers on.

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog. Look forward to reading your books!

  91. Candace, do you still have that sweatshirt?

    Julie, my 7-year-old granddaughter took the picture this fall. Let's just say I've gotten the senior coffee discount for several years at Micky D's. Oh, okay. We celebrated out 38th anniversary a week ago, and I will be 61 next month. So, no, not a child bride. :) It must have been my oily skin and all the teenage (and mature) zits. You'd think the rigors of the OR and ICU and public health and even a smoke-filled doctor's office (yes, honest) would have taken more of a toll! You are my favorite person today!

  92. Candace, I am late reading this but I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your post and the great information you give us. As you know I write medical romance too and am always worried about accuracy of medical details. I give credit to my daughter, a pediattrician, my sister, the psychiatrist, and nephew, surgeon, for reviewing the medical details and adding some of their professional jargon.

  93. Terrific blog, Candace! And thank you for all those websites you've recommended - I'm bookmarking the ones I haven't got as soon as I finish commenting!

    One of my favs is eMedicine so I thought I'd pass that on -

    The historical aspect of medical scenes fascinates me, too. When I was studying, I found it interesting lab pathology how often references were made to cooking and food for a way to describe signs and symptoms of disease. For instance "nutmeg liver" for the appearance of that organ in chronic congestion. Lots of others too... but just in case anyone is eating breakfast I'll stop! ;)

    And historical medical facts are really tricky. For instance, mouth to mouth resuscitation has just had it's 50th anniversary but I found it being used in an historical romance set in 1900. They'd probably have been trying to use the Sylvester method back then.

    I remember Dr Kildare too, Julie!

    Thanks for having Candace on Seekerville!


  94. Candace,
    Thanks for the information. Any genre could use some medical knowledge.
    Janet Kerr

  95. I haven't written any scenes set in a hospital ER, yet. but I enjoyed reading your post.

    Yes, I remember Richard Chamberlain. But, I didn't watch Dr. Kildare very often.

  96. Lana--wow, now that's research. And (LOL) why I wouldn't have the tenacity to write historical! I'm so glad to meet you here. :-)

    Sandra--I WISH I kept that sweatshirt. Ben Casey on the front and (my other love) George Maharis on the back. Remember Route 66?

  97. Mona, I own your critically acclaimed medical, "Babies in the Bargain"! How great that you have a family of experts to draw upon. :-)

    Thank you for dropping by.

    FYI to the rest of you: Mona is a member of HeartBeats RWA writers' group mentioned in my resources.

  98. Sharon--thanks for dropping by. And how interesting about food and historical medical descriptions--a perfect combo for a foodie author like me! ;-)

  99. Janet and "QuietSpirit," thank you so much for stopping by to comment--I've so enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with you all here. :-)

  100. Candace, loved your post! I also love that you show up at your booksignings in scrubs. As a nurse, that really made me smile and I though it really unique when I saw you pass by at the ACFW signing this year.

    Keep up the great work!