An Informal Introduction (Informal Romance)
by Heather Gray
Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Ladybug Lit
Publication date: May 2, 2016
Number of pages: 229
Lily Ziminski is an ICU nurse near the nation's capital where politics are a regular part of hospital policy. Assigned a series of high-profile patients, she finds herself an unwilling focus of the media. Lily would much rather do without all the attention... except where one cowboy-hat-wearing state trooper is concerned.
Caleb Graham runs into the same captivating nurse twice in one day, and he's not a man who believes in coincidence. When problems at a local impound lot force him into the middle of a bizarre case that threatens Lily, Caleb will stop at nothing to protect her.
From a stranger in a parking garage to Secret Service agents, surprise chases Lily around every corner. In the midst of the chaos, she has two constants - her longtime faith in God and her growing attraction for a silver-eyed trooper.
Other Books in the Series
About the Author
Heather Gray loves coffee, God, and her family – not necessarily in that order! She enjoys people who embrace God even when life is hard and who aren't afraid to laugh out loud. Like her, the characters she writes are flawed…but loved anyway.
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How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
“You should think about writing. That eulogy you wrote was something else.”
It was the week after my daughter’s memorial service, and I was having lunch with a friend. My world had been turned upside down and sideways, and I was walking around in a fog of confusion and pain.
Those words, though, they resonated deep down in my soul. Writing had been my friend for as long as I could remember. Sorting through emotions – messy or otherwise – was always easier with a pen in my hand. Fiction wouldn’t be that different…right?
I went home and started writing that very afternoon.
Five months later, I had my first book contract.
I know that’s not a normal story. People don’t just one day decide to become a writer, and nobody gets a contract as quickly as I did.
All I can say is that it’s from God. It’s as though God Himself wrapped it up in paper, tied a bow on it, and handed it to me. “Here. This is going to help you.” Writing will always be this spectacular gift that God gave me during a very dark and difficult time in my life. I hope I always treasure it as much as I do right now and that, in everything I write, I remember the Giver of this gift and that I honor Him with every word I write.
What writing project are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
An Informal Date will be out in September as part of the Falling In Love box set, and An Informal Affair will see publication in March 2017. That one’s also going to be in a box set, but we’re still working on a name for that set.
In An Informal Date, we run into Dr. Owen Pratt. He had a small part in An Informal Christmas, and now we get to step into his world and get to know him better. He’s a medical researcher with a very by-the-books personality – which lends itself to a chuckle or two when he starts to fall for Kimi, a bohemian artist who works at a coffee kiosk. Of course, there’s a lot more to Kimi than meets the eye, but I don’t want to give the whole story away… ;)
An Informal Affair involves an ER nurse, an IT guy, and an online dating experience for the books. Or maybe the newspaper. Definitely the newspaper – in the comics section, of course.
What authors inspire your writing?
That’s such a tricky question! I almost feel like I’m going to insult somebody by not naming them. Of course, I could prevent that by only naming classical authors who are long-since dead. I admit - I do like Geoffrey Chaucer.
However, when it comes to modern writing, my inspirations are mostly contemporary.
I love the way Karen Kingsbury develops her characters. It’s subtle and yet oh-so-intricate. I aspire to master character development like she has.
I enjoy Steven James and the natural rhythm of life that his characters experience. His plots unfold at a pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat but still feels entirely natural. He keeps the tension high without making his readers tense, and that, too, is a skill I admire.
When it comes to humor, I think of Rene Gutteridge. She doesn’t publish as much as she used to, but she’s fantastic at bringing the hilarity of everyday life to the printed page.
What period of history interests you the most? Does this influence your writing?
Is this a good time to admit that I minored in history in college? Honestly, I really do enjoy most periods in history, but my favorite is the medieval period. Oddly enough, I’ve not written anything that takes place in medieval times, and I have no plans to do so in the future. I can’t say why exactly. I’ve written western romances and regency romances, but medieval…I’m not sure. I don’t see a direct influence of history on my contemporary fiction-writing, but I will say this: The ideals that we like in history are the same ideals that we embrace in our world today. Honor, hard work, defense and protection of the weak and innocent. In days of old that might have looked like a knight on a horse, but in today’s world those same ideals can show up in a police officer, a doctor, or a homeless person. Gallantry is a bit part of what shapes modern romance novels, and I do think that can be traced back in literature all the way to the medieval period.
What inspired the idea for An Informal Introduction?
I attended a writing conference in 2014. As I drove home, my radio kept dropping stations (because I’d driven out of range) and picking up new ones (because I’d driven into range). It seemed like every time a new station filled the air waves, it played the same song. I must have heard Dierks Bentley and “I Hold On” a dozen times on that fourteen-hour drive. I don’t even normally listen to country music, but that song captured my imagination and got me to wondering.
Could I write a hero who was steadfast, loyal, and solid like that? Could he be all those things and not be boring? (After all, nobody wants a too-perfect hero.) What would his romance story look like if she didn’t swoon at his feet the first time they met? How would he convince her they were meant for one another?
By the time I made it home from that conference, I knew my hero inside and out. It took a few more months before I started to get an inkling of who my heroine might be, though. She was a little more complicated. She needed to be someone who wanted to follow God but who was having a hard time hearing Him in this situation, and she needed to have spunk so her personality wouldn’t get swallowed up by the hero’s.
Eventually, An Informal Introduction made its way onto paper (or the computer screen). They were a fun couple to write, and I enjoyed being able to bring their story to life.
What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Ha! Who has time for anything else?
I homeschool a teenager, but his classes are primarily online now, so I’ve been relegated to supervision and moral support.
I volunteer at a couple different activities, such as my church’s community food pantry.
I read, I play Sudoku, and I’m great at bossing people around. (Now if I could just get them all to listen and do what I say…) ;)
Life is busy and full, and I’m content. Plus, I don’t think I could squeeze anything else into my schedule, so there’s that, too. ^_^
As if the flashing lights in her rearview mirror weren’t enough, the trooper turned on the siren, too. Lily cringed and slid down in her seat like a teenager hiding from prying eyes. Of course, her teen years were long behind her, and any eyes intent on prying would need night vision goggles to see her. The sun hadn’t yet kissed the eastern horizon.
She slowed and sought a place to pull over, no small feat on this narrow stretch of Lee Highway. Spotting a patch of grass to her right, she steered her silver two-door sedan as far over as she could and cut the engine. Her fingers drummed a rhythmless beat on the steering wheel as she waited for the trooper. He was probably busy checking with dispatch to make sure she wasn’t a mass murderer. Because, clearly, rampaging homicidal maniacs drove nondescript cars on the way to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning.
In all her years traversing this road, Lily had never seen a state trooper on this particular stretch. Until today. Good thing she’d left early for work.
Thank you, God, for getting me up and out the door when You did.
The trooper climbed out of his cruiser and approached her parked vehicle. She hit the button and listened to the almost imperceptible hum as her window slid down. The grey of his uniform would have blended into the night were it not for the illumination of his headlights and his car-mounted spotlight. As it happened, they blinded her enough that she couldn’t catch much more than the color of his clothes and a hint of his shape.
“License and registration, please.” The voice was impatient. Tired, too. He was probably at the end of his shift, which meant she had little chance of winning the argument, but she wouldn’t let that stop her from trying.
“I wasn’t speeding.”
“License and registration, please.”
So much for the serve part of public service.
“Can you at least tell me why you pulled me over?”
“Give me your license and registration, ma’am.”
Heat swept through Lily. It’s not like she’d asked a difficult question. “How do I even know you’re a state trooper and not some crazed rapist who’s trying to get my address so he can break into my home?”
The trooper’s shadowed mouth hinted at a smile, and his eyes morphed from intense pinpoints to… Hm. Eyes couldn’t be huggable, could they?
Who was she kidding? She couldn’t even see his eyes. Her imagination had to be on overdrive.
“Well, ma’am, most people consider those flashing red and blue lights as proof enough that I’m one of the good guys, but if it would make you feel better, I’d be happy to go turn the siren back on, too. I doubt crazed rapists announce themselves with police sirens.” Now that he was speaking in actual sentences, Lily picked up a hint of honeyed Southern drawl dancing along the edge of his words. She never could resist Southern charm — real or imagined.