Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Girlfriends Part 2 by Ellen Hartman

This week, Deb Salonen, Ellen Hartman, and Jeannie Watt combined their blog days into a threesome...welcome to Day 2 of the Girlfriends interviews.

Tuesday: Deb explains what prompted her to write a 9-book series set in a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I mean, seriously, girlfriend, how many people even know where South Dakota is?

Wednesday: Ellen answers those hard questions Really? You decide to write a sports-theme book and you choose hockey?

Thursday: Jeannie is quizzed about rattlesnakes and marathon running because...well, neither Deb nor Ellen get the running thing, but they're dying to hear some rattlesnake stories. (Who isn't?)

Jeannie: You are a hockey mom and your October book, Calling the Shots, involved hockey parents. Please tell us how much your fictional hockey world and real hockey world overlapped.

Ellen: While I was writing the book, I spent a lot of time standing around the rink complaining about how much I'd rather be home writing romance novels. Does that count as overlap?

Actually, I got the first nugget of the book when I noticed that the girls on my son's 5th grade team came to practice with their dads and then disappeared into the ladies room to put their gear on while the boys suited up in the locker room. When they were younger, the kids all got dressed together. I started wondering what that shift felt like for the girls and for their dads and from there, the book took on its own life.

Jeannie: I loved the scene where your hero gave the kids hockey tips. Are you a hockey expert? And is it true that Slap Shot is the best hockey movie ever made?

Ellen: First, you are correct. Slapshot is the best hockey movie ever made. (Insert dreamy sigh over Paul Newman.) (Insert warning about foul language and locker room scenes.) (Insert second dreamy sigh over Paul Newman in a hockey uniform.)

As for my hockey expertise? Let's just say no one is going to pay me to coach their future all-star. I wrote Bryan's hockey tips after watching a YouTube video which was made by an actual hockey expert.

Debra: You are by trade a technical writer. How has this affected your fiction writing?

Ellen: I still remember the editorial note I got to add exclamation points to sentences that needed them. I was SHOCKED!!! (Exclamation points are 100% outlawed in the documentation world.)

Debra: Do you feel a great freedom when you write fiction and can use adjectives as often as you desire or do you have to fight the tendency to stick to the facts and progress in an orderly fashion?

Ellen: I'm not much of an adjective person. I use them, but I don't love them. My love of order does come into play when I write romance. The most common reason I bog down in a book is because I can't make it logical. I know the fictional characters are in love and emotional, they're on the verge and prone to rash choices. I get that their lives are in a state of extreme change. But I need them to make sense.

It's all well and good to explain the motivation behind sensible, well-thought out decisions like saving for retirement and saying yes when offered a red velvet cupcake, but when we're talking secret babies, engagements of convenience, and sex in places other than a nice, clean bed...the logic can be difficult to find. It's worth struggling through because I think it's even more emotionally satisfying to read about characters who make well-motivated, but less logical, more dangerous decisions. You can really see how much risk they're taking for their love.

Jeannie: How much research did you do for the Drunken Breakdown scene in Plan B: Boyfriend? Have you ever taken part in this ritual?

Ellen: Did I research a scene in which the characters go out to a sketchy bar, drink too much draft beer, and say rude things about the cheating ex? my mom reading this thing? Would you believe me if I repeated the hockey tips answer and said I watched a YouTube video?

The real answer is I've never done exactly what Hailey, Charlie, and JT do for Sarah, but I have said plenty of rude things about my friends' exes. That's part of our job as friends, right? The tricky bit is making sure the ex is absolutely out of the picture before saying the rude things. It's kind of hard to "take back" a comment like "his eyes reminded me of a snake" if the couple gets back together.

Debra: Would you recommend this breakdown ritual to others? Are there alternatives for teetotalers?

Ellen: I definitely recommend the Drunken Breakdown, especially if you can end the night dancing with a guy like Charlie McNulty. Nothing wrong with that. For teetotallers? I'd prescribe a night out with friends, rude jokes about the ex, dancing with a handsome guy, and liberal doses of chocolate, ice cream, french fries or all three. My friends and I have said rude things about exes over sushi. The company is what makes the ritual work.

Jeannie: Your road to publication was a little different than that most of us follow. Would you tell us a little about how your first book, Wanted Man, came to be?

Ellen: I owe my career to Susan Gable and the North Texas Romance Writers. I had been working on my manuscript, Painted Love, (I still laugh every time I type that) and was pretty sure it was ready for professional feedback. I bought a critique in an online auction from Super author Susan Gable. She provided me with a tip that changed the opening of the book from fine to a bona fide hook! I entered it in the Great Expectations contest (North Texas RWA) and it came in first, winning $25, a lovely certificate, and a read from a Super editor.

I got a request to send the full manuscript in to Super. While the editor had my book, my life went crazy. My husband got sick, we sold our house and bought another in a chaotic transaction, my husband got sicker, I went back to work outside the home, my husband got sicker, and so on. Finally, about eight months later, my husband was on the mend, we were settled in our new place, my job was stable, and I got a revision letter from Laura Shin at Super. She apologized for the delayed response but if I'd gotten that letter any earlier, I wouldn't have had the time or energy to deal with it.

I revised the book (again!) and Laura said she'd like to publish it. I'd recently found an agent on the playground at the elementary school so basically my whole career is based on coincidence and serendipity of the type I'd be asked to edit out if I dared to write it in a book.

Lightning Round

Favorite romance author?

Tough question! I think I'll go with the romance authors I reread most often instead. This includes Mary Balogh, Julia Quinn, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Favorite non-romance author?

Gosh, I read all the time and in all different genres, so this is tough. Um...Larry McMurtry? Guy Gavriel Kay? Cormac McCarthy?

Idol or Dancing with the Stars?

Neither. Oops. That lie was a pathetic attempt to conceal my pop culture addictions. The true answer is both. But I don't watch them. I read recaps and watch some clips the next day. My only true TV love is Supernatural.

Something we'd be surprised to find out about you?

I won a bronze medal in the McDonald's Employee Olympics. (Competition for best cooking, cleaning, and counter service.) I got points taken off for this fancy flourish move I perfected where I could flip 12 toasted bun lids onto 12 waiting hamburgers in one slick swoop. This break from the standard protocol cost me the silver medal. I've always thought I should have gotten extra credit for style. (I don't have a photo of my McDonald's days. This is from my next job, waitressing midnight to six at Mr. Donut.)

Don't forget...ask a question or answer one of the Lightning Round questions to be entered in the drawing for a $15 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon.


Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen! You never told us you were Molly Ringwald's long lost sister! Everyone agrees with me, right? She look like Molly?

Jeannie Watt said...

Now that I'm over twin shock, I have to admit that I think you were robbed in the Employee Olympics. I mean, when Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas executed an unusual flare on the pommel horse, the move was named after him--the Thomas Flare. So this move should have been called the (Insert Maiden Surname) Flare.

Is it too late to file an appeal to the judges?

sheandeen said...

If you are a fan of Mary Balogh and Julia Quinn have you read any of Eloisa James and Connie Brockway? They are two more of my favorites (along with MB and JQ).

Kaelee said...

Thank you Susan Gable and North Texas RWA. I know Ellen would have made it without you but thanks for the boost.
I love the picture Ellen but midnight to six must have been a killer shift. I did waitress but only in non-chain places. Earliest was five in the morning and latest was two in the morning. The things guys do!!!
The most fun thing I ever did as a waitress was put together a dill pickle split and watch the guy eat it. Think Banana Split but with a dill pickle, ketchup, mustard and relish with a piece of tomato for garnish. The owner of the cafe made the guys pay for it before I made it. Needless to say they were intoxicated although we did not serve booze in the cafe. He ate it with relish. LOL. I think the rest of the guys were more upset than he was. He came in the following day and ordered one on his own. He said he liked them and made a lot of money by betting he could eat them without throwing up. All it took was practice.

Kaelee said...

Oops ~ The things guys do should have come at the end of my above post not in the middle. I'm not awake yet.

Virginia C said...

Did you ever encounter The Hamburgerler? Do you have a "clown phobia"--did Ronald creep you out? Do you still eat at Micky D's? If so, what is your favorite menu item?

Rula Sinara said...

OMG, Jeannie is right! You look like Molly Ringwald in that photo! (Making sure to slip some exclamation marks in there ;))

With all that experience behind you, do you make homemade donuts for your kids?

What's your favorite hockey team? If you write another hockey based romance, do you think you could get into their locker room on the grounds of doing research? It would beat youtube research :).

Julie Hilton Steele said...

We are big Carolina Hurricane fans down here so I had to buy Calling the Shots. Great book. Hockey is one of those sports I love because it is fast paced! So reading about hockey and romance is a perfect combo for me.

What ideas are in your head for future books?

Marcie said...

OMG she is Molly's twin! How was your 16th birthday in comparison to Molly's? Did a boy show your underwear to the masses?

A lot of your 'research' seems to come from experience - tell us about your June book and did you watch YouTube for wedding planning? Or did you watch Jennifer Lopez in the movie "The Wedding Planner"?

Ellen Hartman said...

You guys are killing me. Such great questions and funny stories!! <--Note the double exclamation point usage. On the Internet, it's punctuation anarchy.

I'm heading into a meeting at work but I will be back! I'm really looking forward to a day of fun with everyone.

P.S. Jeannie--I always had a thing for Andrew McCarthy. Molly and I had more than red hair in common. ;-)

EllenToo said...

Thank you Susan Gable and North Texas RWA!!!!
I loved the Hockey book ~ actually I have loved all of Ellen's books!!! We have an ice hockey team locally but I've only been to watch them once!!! I kept hiding my eyes!!! It's too violent a game for me!!! I see you have a new book coming out in June ~ Do you have any coming out after that????

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen,

I had a thing for Andrew McCarthy too! Painted Love is funny. I hear Soft Cell in the background singing Painted Love instead of Tainted Love.

I just finished His Secret Past last night. That was a very emotional story. Did you use a real rock group as your inspiration for Mason's group?

Jackie S. said...

I agree....don't watch Idol or DWS either....there are way too many great books to read!!! And blogs like this to read!!!

Ellen Hartman said...

Jeannie--Sing it, sister. I was sooo robbed in the McD's Olympics. Especially because the prize was monetary. I won a nickel raise for my bronze medal--who knows what the silver would have netted? (My winnings put me at $3.40 per hour. Can you imagine?)

Sheandeen--I love historicals. Really love them. I like Eloisa James a lot. I got a bunch of her books at the RWA conference a few years ago and my mom and I fought over who got to read them first. Meredith Duran is a new favorite of mine. I credit Mary Balogh's old Signet Regencies with turning me into a romance reader. She converted me from Louis L'Amour westerns. :-)

PatriciaW said...

Do you have a post-employment, alumnus type affinity for Mickey D's? Or, having watched Super Size Me, do you avoid them like the plague but still eat other fast food as if it's somehow more pure? (I do. Love BK, one of my first jobs, and Wendy's.)

How's that for lacking logic? :)

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Kaelee--I meant to mention yesterday that I have great memories of that first RWA Super Online party. I'm glad you do, too.

The dill pickle sundae sounds awful, but I can imagine the guy's delight in grossing people out every time he ate one. That's definitely the kind of stuff people got up to in my various food service jobs. :-)

I was doing the midnight to six job because I had a day job I loved that summer--teaching creative writing to at-risk 5th graders. I needed to make a certain amount of money to help pay for college and the teaching wouldn't cover it so I added Mr. Donut.

P.S. I hope my sons don't stumble across this thing and decide to try the pickle sundae. They're the right age (and gender) to find that hilarious! ;-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Virginia--I not only encountered the Hamburglar, I dressed up as the Hamburglar.

When kids had parties at our store, one of the highlights was a visit from the Hamburglar. (I don't know why we didn't have a Ronald costume. We just had this one, ratty Hamburglar outfit.) My friend loved wearing the costume, but I only did it once.

I don't like hamburgers, so when I worked there, my "free lunch" usually consisted of french fries or a milk shake. I used to love McDonald's chocolate shakes.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Rula--thanks for the exclamation points!!! (hee)

I was just the donut seller, not the donut maker. Actually the donut maker was one of the best things about that job. He was a cop-in-training and just the nicest guy. Cute, smart, brave, and gifted with the donut batter. What more could a girl ask for in a co-worker?

My favorite team is the Cornell Big Red!!

Okay--back to work! I'll be around again during my lunch break.

liztalley said...

Love it!

That's a great pic, and you so do look like Molly! LOL. Fabulous. (Notice all my exclamation points!)

Our journey to Supers sounds so similar. Mine started with a critique purchased from Joanne Rock and then went from there. And oddly enough, I love all three of your fave romance authors. But, sadly, I know nothing of hockey.

Great interview and now I'm hungry for red velvet cupcakes all over again. Darn this carb-free diet!

Debra Salonen said...

Ellen, my sister from another mother! I worked at McDonald's, too. Sadly, this was in South Dakota and they never heard of the McD Olympics. I'm sure I could have held my own, but it never would have occurred to me to do a combo flip of that magnitude. My cap is off to you!!! (If one exclamation mark is good, three must be awesome, right?)

Life really piles it on at times, doesn't it? So glad the timing worked in your favor.

I loved the hockey book, too--even if I didn't have a clue about the plays.


Anonymous said...

Molly, er, I mean Ellen, I never would've guessed you were a redhead in your youth! And did I see curls? Love it. I finally managed to get to the Super blog and I kick myself for missing out on the fun. But better late than never, right?
Hmm, to answer the question, I used to dance with the clothes hanging in my closet. It was quite the competition which outfit would be chosen for the next school day. And let me tell you, some of those blouses were cutthroat competitors and not above a little bribery and flattery! (Teehee!)

Susan Gable said...

#1 - The Drunken Breakdown was totally a favorite scene of mine! Loved it. Fun and funny!

#2 - I love how I am responsible for your career, and yet, I never make the list of your favorite romance authors. We need to talk. And it might involve checking you into the boards. (And now I have exhausted my hockey vocabulary! lol.)

I worked at Burger King when I was in high school/college. I think everyone should have to do one of those jobs at least once in their lives -- because it gives you a little more compassion for the folks behind the counter when your order has been screwed up yet AGAIN. lol.

Mary Brady said...

Ellen, I love the picture of you in uniform. It's so--um--so... Like Jeannie said, Ringwald.

My only experience with hockey is it's darned cold watching a high school game.

And add another dreamy sigh for Paul Newman.
Great post!

Chelle Sandell said...

Yeppers, I have to agree with Susan on the drunken breakdown scene. But ya know what you said about comparing the ex's eyes to a snake? I can so see you if the ex walks back in the picture, doing the cobra sting signal with your hand and making a hissing sound when he's around. ;)

Ellen Hartman said...

Julie--I'm so happy you liked Calling the Shots. I've watched a lot of hockey but haven't played, so I'm glad a hockey fan enjoyed it!

My next book is about a wedding planner and a senator's son. It's coming out in June. After that, I have connected books about a pair of brothers--one a basketball coach and one a basketball player! I seem to enjoy writing the former athlete as hero. ;-)

Marcie--In fact, I had a surprise 16th birthday party, someone gave me underwear, and my sister HELD THEM UP! Sigh. Sisters...

I did do some fascinating research for the wedding planner book. When I got married, my husband's cousin was 12 and she was a bridesmaid. She got married this summer. She's about Deb's age now--28 or so. She reenacted her cake tasting so I could see how they're done. The cake was delicious and the scene in the book came out cool. (I think.)


Ellen Hartman said...

EllenToo!!!!! So good to see you abusing the punctuation marks!! Anarchy on the Internet!

I can share with the group that EllenToo made the first ever comment on my first ever promotional Internet thing. I was featured on eHarlequin and she came by and chatted with me. What a wonderful, warm first encounter for a nervous newbie novelist. (On the Internet we can overuse alliteration AND exclamation points!!!)

Tammy--I'm delighted you enjoyed His Secret Past. I have a big soft spot for that book because it was the first one I worked on with Victoria.

I didn't have a particular band in mind for Mason. I watched a documentary about Metallica which got me thinking about the personal impact on a person who is asked to leave a successful band, but my real interest in Mason was his role as a dad.

I was driving with my kids one night and the scene when Mason tells his son that he can't drop out of high school to go on the road with his band came to me. I pulled over and scribbled it down and the book grew from there.

Mason was a great character to write. So wounded but earnest. :-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Jackie--you're right about the books vs. TV balance. I pick books every time! Glad you're enjoying the blog. :-)

Patricia--If I'm going to eat fast food, I prefer Burger King. (Ronald doesn't deserve my loyalty after robbing me of the Silver medal.) I like your logic--you've got the motivation down and that's all that really matters! :-)


Amanda Gardner said...

Ellen, it seems like you have had an interesting career going from McDonald's and Mr. Donut to a technical and romance writer.

- - - - - - -
Favorite romance author?

I have too many to list.

Favorite non-romance author?

John Grisham when I am not reading romance which isn't that often.

Idol or Dancing with the Stars?

Both. I haven't seen all the seasons of Idol since I have been watching the show (fifth season)because of certain singers or judges being on the show.

Ellen Hartman said...

Liz and Deb--I hope the Super Blog doesn't run out of exclamation points today. We are abusing them so shamelessly. ;-)

Liz--you better do something about that carb-free business before I see you in NYC this summer for the RWA conference. I'm counting on cupcakes with you!

Deb--I can't believe you were also a McDonald's employee. We truly were meant to be friends. Did they let girls cook in your store? I had to ask special permission to be trained as a cook and they really only let me because of the Olympics thing.

As is the case with most of the weird things I learned in my youth, I perfected the burger bun flip to impress a boy. Sigh. I'd like to say it was because I wanted to be the best burger flipper ever, but it was really because I wanted the respect of Mark Paradise. He was my super cute McDonald's manager and had the best name ever. My unrequited love for him was huge.

Susan Gable said...

PS In a more serious post, I should say that ELLEN is the only one responsible for her career. I offered an opinion, and she listened to what I had to say. :-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Kim--well, there you are, my friend. Glad you've found us! Yes, you do see curls, brought to you courtesy of my enormous 80's permanent wave. ;-)

I love the image of you and your clothes. Too much fun!

Hey look, Susan "My Favorite Author" Gable is here, too! And she's making hockey threats! The Super Blog is never going to be the same. ;-)

Snookie said...

Ellen, I've really enjoyed your books too. I still have to get a couple of back books to complete reading all of them. I liked really liked your hockey dad book. Not because of the hockey (I know nil about hockey except what was in your book), but because of the way your characters were protrayed. The characters were so real to me!!!

Julia Quinn and Eloisa James are auto-buy authors for me! I hardly watch TV but Eloisa's book out now seems to be patterened after a TV dr. I'm reading When Beauty Tamed the Beast. It so reminds me of that TV show House. The hero appears to be Dr. House (including the cane) almost 200 yrs ago!!! I'm only 1/4 of the way through it but it has had me smiling and laughing so far.

Ellen Hartman said...

Mary--I saw Deb's photo yesterday with the knee socks and the long blond hair and I knew I had to do my part. Glad the picture is entertaining. :-)

Chelle--you cracked me right up. Although I have no idea what you're talking about. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my friends' exes and have never made any type of gesture behind anyone's back. Honest. ;-)

Ellen Hartman said...

Amanda--I haven't read all of Grisham's stuff, but a few of his books are on my list of good novels. I also have really enjoyed several of the movies based on his books.

Some of the Idol contestants have struck a chord with me over the years. In the 3rd season, I loved watching Jon Peter Lewis. He did this crazy performance to win the audience vote slot to get into the top 12. I still love that clip.

runner10 said...

I love James Patterson. He always has a new book.

I can't wait for DWTS to start next week. I am a fan.

Debra Salonen said...

Ellen, I need to ask: how technical is technical writing? Do you KNOW everything you're writing or are you making someone else's words make sense? I ask because I just read a page of a book about analogs and wave lengths and a whole bunch of stuff that made my head hurt. I'd cry if I had to deal with that on a regular basis.

Cupcakes are my fave.

What a treat to see Susan G. and Kim here!


Debra Salonen said...

Snookie, the trailer for the next episode of House has him getting married. To a hooker, I think. Ooh, shades of one of my books. ;-)


Ellen Hartman said...

Snookie--glad you've enjoyed the books. I'm so tickled that you mentioned the characters. I love making these people up, giving them lines, and I always hope they seem real. Thank you!

I haven't seen House, but I'm hoping to read that book. Sounds like a good one!

Hi Runner10--James Patterson can scare me! I only read his stuff once in a long while because I'm easily terrified.

I'm looking forward to Dancing with the Stars, too. I think Donny Osmond has been my favorite star so far.

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Deb--When I interview for tech writing jobs, I usually mention that on some level, the work is similar to translation. I can understand the geek speak and can present it in ordinary human terms. Do I understand everything I write about? Far from it. Hee.

I do love learning new things, though. I think that's essential for a technical writer. If someone can explain it to me, I'm willing to listen and ask questions and then write about it.

In my current job, I get to write about online security topics from time to time. I enjoy that because it's not only finding out the new technologies, but working out what the bad guys are trying to do and why people might fall for their schemes. Fascinating.

So are you going to tell us why you've been reading about wave lengths? Planning a trip to a new galaxy or something?

ClaudiaGC said...

Hi Ellen, I loved Calling the Shots! I'm a big fan of hockey and always love to read a romance book about it (even though my boyfriend keeps saying that's not lifelike, but hey, what does he know, right?) ;)
I've got one funny fact for you: You've got exactly the same name (I'm writing from Germany, btw) as our neighbour down the road. She's a midwife, so there's a bit romance in it, too. :)
Can't wait for your June book!

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Claudia--So pleased that you enjoyed Calling the Shots. I would definitely write another hockey-theme book if I get a chance in the future. I agree with you, there's lots of room for romance in the hockey world. ;-)

I must tell my son about the German Ellen. He's taking German in school and loves to speak it at home. I don't speak German, but I've picked up a bit from my son. (When I say "a bit," I mean about 7 words.) :-)


Victoria Curran said...

I cannot even see Ellen Hartman in that picture!!!! Wow.

Just wanted to say, yeah, Mark Paradise is a good name (I can see why you had to impress him). But so is Karina Bliss, eh? I had to convince employees at Harlequin that it wasn't a pen name....

Waving to you hysterically!!!!


Ellen Hartman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen Hartman said...

{I had to delete my previous comment because it had a typo that was going to bug me. Here it is again--without any typos, I hope.)

Hi Victoria!

(I love that you also abuse the exclamation points on the Internet. Nice.)

My maiden name is Burns. I always thought that would make a nice pen name for a romance writer...Ellen Burns...but the .com was taken when I sold my first book.

Karina is definitely doing the perfect job. Plus, she does it so very well!

Thanks for dropping by.

P.S. My curly perm was quite the sight. Good thing it's mostly under the cap in that photo.

Jane said...

Hey Ellen,
A bronze medal is cool. My favorite romance authors include Julie Garwood and Julia Ross. Agatha Christie is my favorite non romance author.

The Scarf Princess said...

Since I currently feel like I have the plague, I so hope I win the Starbucks gift card. I could sure use a gallon of hot tea with lemon right about now.

And the question I chose was...Favorite romance author?

I adore Julia Quinn, Rachel Gibson, JR Ward, and Kresley Cole. I pre-order their new releases months in advance because I'm so excited.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Debra Salonen said...

Ellen, the gentleman whose cabin my hubby is remodeling noticed in our correspondence that I "wrote well." This morning I accidentally left my personal sig line in an email. That solved his puzzlement, and he sent me a link to his book--one about wave lengths and stuff. Turns out he's an electrical engineer. The book is a textbook for advanced degrees, I gather.

The only way I'm going off-planet is by alien abduction. Sigh.

BTW, the book with the ex-hooker heroine is Back In Kansas. It was my third release.


Ellen Hartman said...

Jane--thanks for stopping by! That bronze medal was pretty cool. ;-)

Hi Joder--my goodness, it's probably wrong to root for someone in the random drawing, but if a gift card from my blog cured the plague...well, that would be very cool, too. Seriously, I hope you feel better soon!

Deb--Thanks for the title. Now I can go back to my TBR list and replace "Deb's Ex-Hooker Book" with Back to Kansas.

Alien're funny. ;-)

Donya Pedigo said...

Ok.. Jeannie, Rula, and the others are so right.. Ellen you will be known to me now as Molly Ellen.. LOL

As for Calling the Shots.. I loved it. In your writing I love the humor you sprinkle in. With CTS seemed to be more serious, which I wasn't expecting, but I think you accomplished it in a SUPER way!! Cheezy I know but so had to say it!!
As for the exclamation marks. I couldn't live without them!!!!!!!!!!!

Have missed you gals and hope to catch up soon. HUGS...

Rogenna Brewer said...

Hi Ellen! My first "real" job was at a McDonalds :) I would have given you those style points for the Gold! The heck with Silver.

Read your answer to the "drunken breakdown" question to my coworkers today and shared a good belly laugh--thanks for making my day!

linda s said...

I probably said somewhere before, I loved Calling the Shots. I have a niece who is the goalie for a champion boys' team. Pulling her from even one game might cause a community meltdown. lol

Ellen Hartman said...

Donya!! We've missed you!!!!!!! :-) Glad you liked Calling the Shots. That's always so sweet to hear.

Ro--the Drunken Breakdown has that effect on people. ;-) I had such a good time writing that scene. P.S. We should start a special chapter of McDonald's alums in RWA.

Linda--I knew there were hockey fans out there who'd get just how awful it was that Bryan made his daughter sit out. :-) Goalie is a tough job. High five to your niece!

Jan said...

I loved Calling the Shots. The characters, the plot and the hockey were great as far as I was concerned! Our kids played soccer, but I could relate to a lot of the hockey mentality.

I have too many favorite romance authors to pick even a few, but some of my favorite non-romance authors are: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Margaret Maron, Sharon Shinn, Elizabeth Moon, Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman. I guess I have too many non-romance authors, too, because I can think of a dozen more to add!!

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Jan--you're right, some of the sports stuff is universal, isn't it? One of the things I think is positive about sports (and I hope this came across) is that if you and your kid both get a kick out of doing it, a sport is a great way to bond.

At one point in a draft, I'd written that Bryan's ex was also a hockey player, but my very wise editor (hello, Victoria!) asked if hockey could be Bryan's alone. He and Allie needed it to connect them.

I've always enjoyed the long drives that come from participating in NY State hockey. This winter we listened to Little Women on tape while driving through a ridiculous snow storm to a tournament. We were pretty cozy in the car.

I have too many favorite authors, myself. In this case, I think too many is "just right."


Mary Preston said...

Larry McMurtry wrote my favorite book - EVER. "Lonesome Dove" I"m thrilled you named him in your line-up.

Kay Stockham said...

Ellen, love the interview! And the pic! You and Molly must be tight. ;) Loved the drunken breakdown scene. I feel quite deprived now having never worked at McDs. Does my current addiction to Mocha Frappes count?

Ellen Hartman said...

Marybelle--It's nice to hear from another McMurtry fan. I love the way he writes dialogue, and his humor is just perfect. I think Lonesome Dove is my second-favorite of his. My top book is Texasville.

Hi Kay--That picture would have stayed buried in a drawer if Deb hadn't posted her photo on the dino's toe. I got such a kick out of hers, I thought I should reciprocate.

I think most of us would rather have a Frappe addiction than our McDonald's work experience. You're in good shape!

Susan Gable said...

The worst part about a fast-food job was coming home stinking of french fries. I like french fries, don't get me wrong, but I don't like my skin to feel like oil and have the smell stuck inmy uniform. Blech.

Karina Bliss said...

Ellen I know we're squeeed (!) over Larry McMurtry before. But I'm even more impressed by your McDonald's Olympic triumph. Bet it looked great on your C.V. I would hire you on that alone.

Laura Russell said...

For the lightening round on favorite romance authors, I agree on Mary Balogh and add Mary Jo Putney.

JV said...

Can't say too much for serendipity! I really enjoyed your hockey book (and Plan B:... and The Boyfriend's Back, as well). I think I mentioned once that I never cared a whit for hockey until reading Rachel Gibson's series of hockey books. Changed my whole perspective!

I have to agree that you were robbed of the silver medal. I'm thinking of staging a protest outside several different McDonalds locations asking them to retroactively award you the silver. Who's with me?

Autumn Macarthur said...

I'm in! That flip move had to be worth a gold, actually!

Ellen Hartman said...

You guys are very funny. The flip was pretty fantastic. After all these years, I'm finally experiencing the triumph I missed out on back then. I appreciate the support.

Very big high fives all around!

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