Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Rockville 8 Welcomes Author Kathy Altman

Kathy Altman writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and the occasional ode to chocolate. Her work has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Daphne du Maurier. She’s also a regular contributor to USA Today’s “Happy Ever After” blog.

When Kathy’s not writing, reading or putting in her forty hours a week as a computer programmer for the Air Force, she enjoys baking, watching the CiarĂ¡n Hinds version of Persuasion, and making other people feel superior by letting them win at Scrabble.

She lives in rural Virginia with a crowd of cats and her sweetie, who’s a fellow book addict and an avid fly fisherman. Kathy lives in hope that one day he’ll actually agree to use their passports (before they expire again).

Kathy is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Washington Romance Writers (WRW). You can find her online at, or email her at—she’d enjoy hearing from you!

The Rockville 8 would like to give Kathy a warm welcome!


Every June, I spend a fortune on strawberries. I buy them in 3-quart flats from a local berry farm, and those 3 quarts don’t even last me a week.

Usually I enjoy them plain, but I have been known to toss a few into a blender (just to keep the rum and/or ice cream company). And every now and then I’ll top a bowl of the berries with fresh whipped cream and toffee bits. Yum! Anyway, by the end of the season (and of course it is already the end of the season), I’ll have spent easily a couple hundred dollars on strawberries. And I spend another six weeks loudly lamenting that the strawberry season is far too short.

So why don’t I just grow my own? I’ll show you. This is one of my flowerbeds.

Need I say more? Yep. I’m a full-blown tragedy in the garden. Perennials quiver, tomato plants titter, and weeds greet me like old family friends whenever I venture outside. When God was handing out green thumbs, I thought He said “demon rum”, so I politely refused. I’m making up for it now, though. Take another look at that picture—can you blame me?!

This is why I chose to live vicariously through my heroine Parker Dean. She nurtures not only three greenhouses worth of thriving plants, but uses her strawberry brilliance to produce juicy red morsels of home-grown joy. If I want strawberries from my own yard, I’m stuck with the wild kind—the kind that god-knows-what-critter has peed on. (It’s also called the mock strawberry—and yes, I choose to take that personally.)

I also gave my heroine gorgeous red hair, and her very own Army soldier to play with. Alas, two things we don’t have in common. But we both share less-than-stellar fashion sense, and our steadfast belief that a stack of chocolate chip pancakes contains a lot of happy.

Why haven’t I figured this out before, that I can live vicariously through my heroines? Besides pairing her with my current Hollywood crush, I mean? I’ve always been so concerned with making sure a reader could identify with my protagonist that until The Other Soldier I completely missed the opportunity to endow my heroine with one of the many skills I’ve fantasized about cultivating. (Obviously I’m a late bloomer—and of course I use the word “bloom” very loosely.)

Earn a helicopter pilot’s license? My heroine could do that. Learn Arabic? No sweat—heck, she could learn that and Mandarin at the same time! Master the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira? Done. Hang glide off a Hawaiian volcano? She is so there. Become a firearms expert? Pastry chef? Private investigator? Check, check and check. Guess I’d better get busy dreaming up some plots to showcase all of those talents!

So if you’re a writer, what super special skill have you bestowed on your hero or heroine? Have you ever read or written a character that inspired you to learn how to do something in particular? (Writing about Parker and her strawberries has definitely made me determined to try growing my own again—though this time I’ll make sure I have supervision. And my hero Reid knows how to rappel—that’s a definite addition to my bucket list.)

Have you ever written a character with whom you have nothing in common? Huh—is that even possible?

I have a copy of The Other Soldier I’d love to share with someone, so please leave a comment. Once I’m done teaching my heroine how to pick a lock I’ll pick a winner.  :-)

Many thanks to everyone for stopping in today! And a very special thanks to all of the lovely and gifted Rockville 8 ladies for inviting me to blog! You never fail to entertain and educate here—thank you for letting me be part of the fun!


Corporal Reid Macfarland has one mission: to make amends for the mistake he lives with every day. That friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan that killed a fellow soldier haunts him. Maybe if he can help the widow, he'll find some peace.

But amends are easier said than done. Just one meeting with the independent and engaging Parker Dean makes it clear that forgiveness is a little more complicated than offering money or an apology. If he really wants to help, Reid has to stick around for a while. The more their daily lives intertwine, the more he realizes her forgiveness isn't the only thing he needs—he needs her.


  1. Mmmm...Strawberries...

    Oh! Sorry! Got distracted. Congratulations, Kathy, on your determination to try growing strawberries again, and on your release THE OTHER SOLDIER!

    You're so right in that a character needs a skill. Everyone is good at something. (No really!) We admire friends and strangers for that special thing they do. A character who can do something very well makes can really come to life for readers. And as a reader, I know I can't wait for an author's next book when her characters read like old friends.

  2. I make a mean chocolate-dipped strawberry. Just saying'.

    I have your book (love it!) but I'll comment anyway:

    My heroines have paranormal talents. They're not always reliable talents, and they make life interesting for her and the hero. As I kid I thought it would be cool to be psychic - telepathy and teleportation were my main wishes. No such luck. But in my books...well, I'm not specifically using those two talents, it's fun to live vicariously through my charters.

  3. Kathy! I finished The Other Soldier on the treadmill this morning with tears in my eyes. The good kind of tears in my eyes, the kind you're supposed to get at the end of a good Superromance. :-) And man, The Other Soldier IS a good one.

    But as for living vicariously through my characters . . . my problem is I give my characters interesting jobs that I have no clue about. The sheer amount of research has stalled me out on more than one occasion! LOL.

    You had me living vicariously through Parker, in TOS, right up until the slugfest. Right there, me and my lack of plant skills were outta there. :-)

  4. Thank you so much, ladies! I'm so sorry I'm late to the party!! For some reason Blogger has picked today of all days to be grumpy to me. Hopefully by now it has gotten over itself. :-)

  5. Nichole! Thank you so very much for your congratulations! On the books and on the strawberry agenda. :-) I can only hope the book fares better than I fear the strawberry plants will, but you never know, right?!

    And you're spot on about admiring people with skills! And maybe there's a touch of jealousy there, too, on our behalf? My sister and one of my brothers inherited the family gene for crafting things with yarn--they make beautiful crocheted afghans and scarves and hats and such--and it seems my talent lies only in enjoying them. Hmm. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, after all! :-) Thank you again so much for your encouragement!!

  6. Oooh, Willa, you have my undivided attention, LOL!

    And fun, cool fact about your characters! I knew that you wrote Scottish historicals but the paranormal part didn't register. Even better!! :-) That's a terrific example of giving your characters abilities we can only fantasize about--I bet you DO have fun with that! And I look forward to reading all about it!

    I'm so glad you took the time to coment, Willa--it's always a great pleasure to see you!

  7. Yvonne, I double <3 you!! :-) I can't tell you how much your kind words mean to me, and I am so, so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed my book. I'm also jealous of your discipline in getting on the treadmill. :-) *Really* need to pay some attention to mine.

    LOL on giving your characters obscure jobs you need to research! I hadn't thought about that--the higher the cool factor, the more the research required. Definitely something to consider when we're handing out occupations. But that could work to our advantage, if we make our hero something along the lines of a male cover model...

    And I agree, Parker is braver than I am! The things we put our characters through!

    Thank you so much again for hosting me this week, and for your generous support! The Rockville 8 rocks!! :-)

  8. Hey Kathy! So happy to have you on the R8 this week!

    The one skill I seem to give my characters consistently is the ability to fight, mano-a-mano. Guess that tells me something about myself!

    I'm working on a short story now and you've got me thinking of how to shade my h/h with a skill other than "beats crap out of bad guys." Maybe one of them is a champion whistler? Or decorates a mean Christmas cookie? Hmm...Options! I love options!

  9. LOL, Keely! Champion whistler, huh?! Definitely a unique talent! And that IS interesting about consistently giving your characters a particular quality--I do like how that reflects on the writer. I'll have to research what my heroines have in common. Therapy through character study--I like it!! Thank you for the warm welcome, Keely! :-)

  10. Speaking of whistlers. I am not a champion, but I am a damn good whistler (if I say so myself) and that's one personal attribute I passed on to my shero.

    And hello Kathy and thanks for that great blog. My mouth waters for strawberries but I will make do with fat, juicy blackberries.

    I always think I know everything my heroine needs to know or how to do. I know just enough to get started and then I think: "Oh, I'll just brush up on that nuclear physicist thing one evening before I write that scene." Being a research junkie, I then end up spending days on a subject that is just back drop.

    Sigh. I'm easily distracted. The one thing I want all my sheros to do, which I have not always done successfully, is pick the right guy. The guy that will love her, honor her, rub her feet, bring home the bacon, change diapers and who understands the importance of tiny velvet boxes with big price tags.

    Thanks for sharing...

  11. Hi, Shellie! Blackberries will do the trick nicely, as well! Especially over ice cream. :-)

    I love your term "shero!" Believe it or not, I've never heard that before. But I look forward to the chance to use it, now that I know it!

    Yes, research is so important, but it's also such a time suck. :-) I like your wish list for your sheros (there! I did it!)--in fact, I'd like to have those things for myself. ;-) My current shero (did it again!) has an office job, so I'd like to give her a talent that's a little more unique than handling campaigns for clients.

    Thank you so much for commenting, Shellie! Good luck with your story!