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Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Joan Swan

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Hello Readers! Today I bring you romance author Joan Swan. Joan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist.  Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, released February 28, 2012.  Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.
In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.
Joan is here today to talk about how her every day life influences her writing. In addition, Joan is offering one (1) copy of her recent release, Fever, to a lucky commenter. Details for GIVEAWAY are below.
Please help me welcome Joan to That’s What I’m Talking About. Take it away Joan…
How daily life filters into my writing
We all see life through unique points of view.  I call these filters and they could be explained as sunglass for your perspective on life.  We usually have several shades of filters, but one that colors just about everything in our lives.  
I’ve noticed my writing is heavily influenced by the filter which is colored by my work.  By day, I’m a sonographer…a.k.a. I do ultrasound exams.  Doesn’t sound too  extreme, right? Normally, no.  But I work at UCSF Medical Center, a teaching hospital ranked the 7th best hospital in the nation.  Working at this type of facility is intense.  Really, beyond intense.  More like one of those things you have to experience to understand.
From assisting in the operating room with organ transplants to searching for bleeds in premature infants’ brains to checking for blood clots in the veins of drug addicts fresh off the street and still high, we see it all—child abuse, spousal abuse, rape victims, miscarriages, violent trauma, incredibly abnormal pregnancies and tons and tons of transplants.  I’ve had to tell parents their unborn child’s heart is not beating too many times to count.   I’ve had both infants and adults code while I’m scanning them.  I’ve had transplant surgeons ask me if they can close a patient.
Our patients are suffering, angry, scared, mentally imbalanced and often experiencing the side effects of medications.  Generally speaking, they’re not happy campers, and sonographers are not usually their favorite people.  Our studies are long and sometimes uncomfortable for those in pain.  If I’m not coaxing a sick patient into doing what I need them to do for an exam, I’m telling them to do it. 
Combative patients are not uncommon. Neither are hallucinations. Or abusive swearing.  Or death threats.  I’ve been pushed, slapped, hit, kicked and spit on.  The only reason I haven’t been bitten is because I got away first.
So…how does all this affect my writing?
I write real.  I write real language, real people, real flaws. I write high stakes, high pressure.  I understand tension and life and death decisions.  I know how people in those situations cope and function and compensate…or don’t.  
I also have a deep appreciation of health.  Of life.  Of family.  And I find myself deeply grateful on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I understand the fear and insecurity and anxiety of long term illness and I’ve witnessed the pain of death.  My characters tend to have the same respect for life’s fragility. And the range of emotion I experience through my work definitely transfers to my writing.
And then there are the people.  I meet some real characters, from the woman with dementia casting evil curses on me in a foreign language (I only know because her interpreter was there) to the man who told me of the ghosts who sit in his room and walk outside his window—on the ninth floor.  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
My “gritty-side” filter tends to make me unexcitable, good under pressure, easy going and confident.  But it also pushes me toward the jaded side, and I often find myself distrustful and impatient in many situations.
What is one of the main filters you view life through?  Unconditional love…stress…serenity…financial hardship…?  How do you think it affects your life?
More about Fever
Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…
But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.
A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…
Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.
GIVEAWAY:  Thank you Joan for stopping by That’s What I’m Talking About.  Joan is graciously giving away one (1) copy of Fever. To enter, leave a comment answering Joan’s questions about viewing life (above). Please leave your comments for Joan by Thursday March 15, 2012, at 9:00 PM EDT to be eligible for the contest. One entry per person, the winner will be selected from eligible entries using random.org. Contest is open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only; please leave your email address so the author can send you the book. In addition, all comments are eligible for tour grand prize of either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE. More details and entry HERE. Thank you to Joan for this wonderful giveaway!
You can find Joan online at:
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GOODREADS
Be sure to stop back later today to read my review of Fever!

  • I try to view life positively – otherwise life can seem a little bleak sometimes.

  • Positivity is amazingly powerful, Becky! I’ve seen the benefits first hand!

  • I have a gritty filter too and sometimes, I try really hard to turn it off.

    I was a corrections officer and I see everyone’s angle, what they want from me or how they could hurt me before I see anything else about them. It tends to make me keep people at a distance. It also tends to make me a little overprotective with my kids.

    But like you said, it’s given me some great character insight. I write villains like no one else because I worked with serial killers, rapists, and other offenders on a daily basis. It’s also given me the ability to be cool under pressure. I’ve been in the position where I had to decide if I could take a man’s life. Once you’ve done that, most other stressors really aren’t so huge.

    But for all the dark things, I see the goodness, too. But I wouldn’t have been able to without all the other stuff.

    But that’s why I write romance. Because I want to give the world more sunshine after the storm. 😉

    What a great and thought provoking post.

  • I think a lot of people use a filter when looking at situations and especially people. I know I do as well. I take what I have learned in the past and apply it to what’s happening now.

    I too tend to keep people at a distance, but those who have gotten close are there for a reason. I agree…this post was terrific and very thought provoking! Can’t wait to read Fever!!!

  • I try to view life positively, but I am a worrier and sometimes I stress myself out. Romance novels are a great way to me to unwind after a bad day.

    ~Krista
    theangrypollo{ AT }yahoo{DOT }com

  • May

    I try to give unconditional love to my daughter. I was raised in a different generation where discipline was considered more important… While I do realize that my parents love me now, I don’t think kids always understand discipline…. Hopefully, it’ll give my daughter more confidence in life…

  • Since I had cancer I try to always view things in a positive light. It isn’t always easy. When politics come up I tend to nod my head and every once in a while say “em” and that keeps thing positive ;).
    But when I’m reading I want true emotion so no filter allowed :).

    vsloboda(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Hi Saranna! I do believe when you see that side of humanity, there is part of you that can’t turn it off — just like you can’t unsee something or unhear something. It’s reality. It’s there. Turning off that filter isn’t going to make that side of humanity go away.

    In a way, I’m envious of your exposure to villains and your ability to construct them, on the other, I know how the darkness can stick with you and shape your life. There’s always a pro and a con.

    Kudos for your work on behalf of other humans Saranna. We don’t hear that enough.

    Joan

  • Hi jlzaharia, I agree, people use their filter toward people more than in any other way.

    Hope you love Fever!

  • Hi Krista,

    Yes, romance is a fantastic way to absorb the wonderful elements of life.

  • Hi May,

    Your daughter is a lucky girl! That will benefit her in untold ways throughout her life.

  • Hi Victoria,

    A serious illness can definitely tint your filter toward life. In treating so many sick people, I’ve learned not to focus on the small stuff. Life you, when topics that don’t warrant the expenditure of negative emotion come up, I avoid engaging. It keeps life in perspective.

  • Na

    I veiw life through a positive attitude. I believe a healthy mind means a healthy body, at least in the sense you believe in yourself and strive to do the very best to care for your personal self. I learn from my mistakes but don’t let bitterness fester and shadow my world. I celebrate triumphs and focus on the good things.\

    In stories I want characters to grow and learn. No matter how hard their journey if they are positive then it’s one more weapon towards finding happiness.

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

  • Joan…Thanks for your candor about your job. I work at a community college where we train sonographers and I don’t think that many of them are adequately prepared for quite the environment that you describe.

    Like commenter Victoria, I’m a survivor–of leukemia (13 years post-BMT bone marrow transplant). That is a powerful filter through which I view almost everything. I don’t worry about the little things and it turns out that nearly all the day to day stuff is little. I respect & understand that those little things are important to SOMEONE, but I don’t have to take them on. They don’t have to be important to ME.

    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  • I have a very trusting nature. I don’t like lying so I am very honest with people and time and time again I am so surprised when I find out that they have lied to me. I also don’t judge people by what others tell me about them. I like to make up my own mind (although sometimes I really should listen to the people trying to warn me….lol). So, I guess my filter would be blind trust. For what ever reason I am a trusting and naive person, whether that is good or bad I am never quite sure.

    skyla11377(At)AOL(Dot)Com

  • I try to see a positive in everything. Life started a bit rough for me. I always knew if I gave everything my all it would eventually work itself out. It has. I have few complaints now. I am definitely a silver lining gal!
    Thanks for offering this great giveaway & sharing your other life with us. I always find it interesting when writers have other jobs & what they are.
    vanessa(at)thejeepdiva(dot)com

  • I try to look at the bright side of life otherwise I would be crying all the time. You know glass half full, or half empty!!! There are so many people out there with serious issues that I just live my life one day at a time and do the best I can.

  • Na, You’re inspiring! Truly. I too love my character to learn and grow and need to have a HEA as well. There is enough bad in the world, I want my fiction to end in good.

  • Hi Catherine,

    UC is an acquired taste. A few sonographers can come out of school and work there, but only because they trained there. It’s truly a unique environment, like nowhere I’ve ever worked, or will work. (Can’t wait to stop/retire)

    You and Victoria have fabulous attitudes, you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many cancer survivors see themselves as victims.

    Thanks for coming by.

  • Hi Raquel,

    I think it’s good for others, but can be rough on you. I know what you mean about being lied to…though now I’m far to jaded and rarely believe much. Which is unfortunate, though I’m insulated. Pros and cons.

  • Hi Vanessa, I aspire :). I’m always trying to stay positive and look for the good that comes out of every situation.

    Thanks for coming by!

  • Hi Diane,

    Awesome attitude!!

  • I try to view as an optimist. While I have to admit it can be tough. It has helped me though some things too.

  • My sister is a sonographer too (just graduated last semester!) and she just sent her first patient to surgery yesterday. She called me in tears. I’m studying to be an X-ray technologist and I’ve seen a few patients that won’t make it out of the hospital… Some of which were in the NICU. It’s not easy, but then there are the patients who leave smiling because I told a joke or I was nice to them after they waited in the ER for 5 hours. That makes it worth it. I try to live life with a positive attitude, always looking at the bright side of things even when it seems darkest.

    Mamakitty(at)mamakittyreviews(dot)com

  • I view life from a curious, wondering viewpoint. I teach fourth grade and spend my days with individuals who are all about the questions (especially those without concrete answers) and the wonders of life. They keep me young for sure. It is wonderful to follow a question and see where you end up–it is almost always a wonderful surprise. Plus, you end up with lots more questions along the way. I love reading books, romance in particular, and following the questions that the authors and characters are searching for the answers to.

  • I haven’t thought about this for a while. Mine used to be my job, but now I stay home with my little one, so I guess it has switched to my family. I think it takes a special person to do what you do, Joan, so thank you.
    Please do not enter me into the contest as I am awaiting my copy. Thank you.

  • I can’t even imagine how you deal with all of that on a consistent basis. I think sonographer and I think happy thoughts. But I suppose, after reading this post, there is a whole lot more to the job than happy sonograms.

    For me, I have to take things one day at a time and roll with the punches as they come. I could fret my way through each day when something bad happens, but ultimately it won’t help anything and I would miss all of the good things if I stayed in a negative mind set. And above all – I breathe. My favorite saying is “this too shall pass”. I use it a lot.

    Please don’t enter me as I already have a copy of this extraordinary book. Just wanted to pop in and visit. Best of luck to all entering. The book is phenomenal!
    Kendra

  • Great attitude Donna!

  • Hi Mamma Kitty,

    UCSF is definitely an acquired taste (or not, even many years later) and is an incredibly unique work environment. The intensity and level of required skill and dedication suits very few sonographers.

    Agreed a positive attitude really does pull you through the darker times.

  • Elain,

    How unique and fabulous for you!! I bet your days are filled with fun!

  • Hi Tina,

    Honestly, I know it takes a very special person to stay home with little ones too! And yours is just sooo adorable!! 🙂 Thanks for coming by, Tina!

  • Hi Kendra!

    I like your saying! I have far more jaded sayings…:)…like…no good deed goes unpunished…but I do save those for work :).

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