Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Congratulations to "Colleen C.", the winner in Lisa's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize.

I’m not really good about stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s not that I’m opposed to change or new experiences, it’s just, well, uncomfortable. But as the great Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

When I started writing, I was focused on contemporary romance. It was my favorite to read so naturally I thought it would be the easiest to write. It was in my comfort zone, and I was happy with that. It took me two years to write my first contemporary romance. I was so proud of myself I decided to take it a step further and dip my toe into the unknown by letting others read it. I entered contests, submitted to agents and editors, and consulted with critique partners. It was my first real step out of my comfort zone as a writer. Unfortunately, it was an ugly step, met with rejection and contest judge comments that were sometimes less than kind.

I could have bottled up all of that negativity and stopped writing, but I didn’t. I’m a little stubborn that way. Instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results, I read the rejection letters, critique reviews, and judge comments over and over ad nauseum. I gleaned any bit of knowledge out of them I could to determine my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Armed with this data, I took classes, attended conferences, and wrote a lot to improve my weaknesses.

When I started on my second contemporary romance with my new-found knowledge, I knew this book would be different. Not even a month into writing it, a new character came to me that would not let me focus. Her thoughts, stories, opinions, and ideas were strong, and they kept coming back to me. It was a real distraction to my writing so I decided to get her out of my head and on to paper so I could get back to my real story.

Those random thoughts and character descriptions flowed out of me like none of my other writing. My notes went from bullet points to four chapters of a romantic suspense novel in less than two weeks. I was shocked and so far out of my comfort zone, I didn’t know which way was up. Yes, I had read romantic suspense novels and enjoyed them, but I knew nothing about the genre. So how could I be writing romantic suspense? I thought the writing was good, but what do I know? I thought the same about my first book too. On a whim, I sent it to my critique partners to give me their thoughts and to my surprise, they loved it and told me this was the story I had to tell. That is how High Heels and Handguns was born.

High Heels and Handguns is my debut novel and the first book in the Kate Howard series. The books follow Kate’s life as a personal protection agent, and the unique challenges and prejudices female bodyguards experience. Kate lives outside her comfort zone, often doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, balancing her own fears and doubts while protecting others.

In this first novel, Kate is protecting her most influential client to date. After an explosive and deadly end to her client’s reelection fundraiser, which left his young son in critical condition, Kate must accept help from an unwanted source: the soldier she loved and left in Afghanistan, bloody, broken, and barely alive.

Special Forces Officer Paxton Banks, Kate’s former captain—now an FBI agent—is assigned to investigate the attempt on her client’s life. After ten years, old emotions and new threats whip Kate's world into complicated chaos. But when other elected officials are threatened, Kate and Paxton must tamp down their fiery feelings and work together to catch a madman hell-bent on revenge.

So cheers to stepping out of your comfort zone! I hope you love Kate as much as I do in this excerpt from High Heels and Handguns:

To most women, high heels and handguns didn’t complement couture, but for Kate Howard, personal security expert, they went together like hummus and pita. In T-minus-thirty minutes, she could mark Senator Thomas’s reelection campaign fundraiser a success punctuated by a hot bath and a cold beer. No seedy characters. No suspicious packages. No assassination attempts.
She studied the guests and waitstaff as the senator weaved her through a few tables and past the dance floor of the downtown Phoenix hotel. Keeping clients within constant arm’s distance was an exhausting game. Too close, and your picture ended up in the paper. Too far, and your client ended up in the morgue.
Of all the private security events Kate had worked, this one took the booby prize. Literally. She checked to make sure her breasts were still securely smashed into the sequined evening gown the senator insisted she wear. The perfect red to match his tie for the evening but a bit too small. That would be the last time she’d accept a gift from a client.
Kate shifted her clutch under her arm. The weight of Ziggy, her Sig Sauer P938 pistol, was a comforting addition to her dare-it-all attire. Some girls didn’t leave home without their lip gloss. Kate didn’t leave home without Ziggy.
The senator stopped to shake hands with the one-hundredth benefactor of the evening, giving Kate a moment to scan the ballroom stage, bar, and buffet tables for unusual activity. The kind of trouble she was there to prevent.
Senator Thomas placed his hand where the backless gown met the top of her ass to lead her away. As soon as they were out of earshot, Kate whispered, “If you’d like to keep that hand, you’d better move it.”
“Kate.” The way he said her name made her feel dirty, but she wasn’t the pay-to-play kind of girl. “If people are going to believe we’re together”—he slid his hand up her spine—“I need to show a little affection.”
“Senator.” She spoke soft and slow and sexy, caressing the side of his neck. “With the right amount of force on the vagus nerve”—she pressed her thumb into the soft flesh of the pressure point—“I can stop the blood flow to your brain. Killing you. Instantly.” She gave him an I-dare-you smile. “Do we understand each other?”

High Heels and Handguns is available in ebook and paperback on February 7, 2020

Meet the Author:
Lisa Heartman is a coffee-swilling, sass-spewing romance writer who believes love is messy and magnificent. She writes things she wishes she had said, and some she wishes she hadn’t, delighting readers with exhilarating stories and swoon-worthy characters in a world where danger and desire collide©. High Heels and Handguns has been nominated for numerous romantic suspense awards, including the Golden Heart®, Fabulous Five, Orange Rose, Diamonds in the Desert, The Maggies, Hot Prospects, and the Joyce Henderson contest.

Newsletter: for author news and a free prequel sample download.

Giveaway Time!

What’s one time you stepped out of your comfort zone and the results surprised you? 

Giveaway on JRS ends at midnight February 7th. One contestant entering the drawing by leaving a comment on Just Romantic Suspense will receive a $5 Amazon gift card. Don’t forget to check back to see who won! The winner will be selected randomly by JRS.


  1. Well, I always try to challenge myself by reading trope that is not my comfort zone. I always think that historical romance is not for me. But one time I tried to read historical romance by way of Tessa Dare and now I'm hooked!

  2. Accepted a job I didn't think I'd like, but ended up loving it.

  3. I usually stay on my comfort zone. Like things to stay the same. I did step out and take a job in government/building services, that I knew nothing about and I love it. It has been 3 years and I still learn something new everyday.

  4. Replies
    1. Ugh, statistics. Been there. NOT a good class to take at 8am.

  5. I am a picky eater and I surprised myself by trying something I never thought I would like... it was actually pretty good.

    1. My husband is a picky eater too. I try to get him to taste my dinner when we go out, and a few times he's really liked it.

  6. I'm not very good at stepping out of my comfort zone. I can't remember the last time I did.

    1. Maybe tomorrow you will try something just for the heck of it...

  7. Suspense, history, and non-fiction were my first loves. It took a long time before I tried romance (I was in my 50's) but once I started reading historical romance, there was no turning back.
    For really stepping out of my comfort zone, it would be what I did after college. Small town girl who went to the local college and lived at home the entire time. Three weeks after graduation I left for the Peace Corps and flew to the other side of the world. Everything was new and different. Foods were eaten that most Americans wouldn't consider. There were many wonderful experiences. I got to explore places I had only read about and really become my own person.
    Congratulations on your book. It sounds like HIGH HEELS AND HANDGUNS is the beginning of a good series. I hope the release is very successful.


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