Monday, October 16, 2006

Introducing... ATIII Finalist Kimberley Howe!

Today, we have a special treat. Honorary drunk writer, Kimberley Howe, who is a finalist in the American Title III contest. Kim is an amazing writer, “on the verge” and her romantic suspense manuscripts have finalled in multiple contests, including last year’s Golden Heart.

We’re all rooting for Kim in ATIII and hope you’ll vote for her too!

She’s done some serious research for her romantic suspense novels—how many writers do you know who’ve done a course in Advanced Tactical Training!—so we thought she might share some of her research tips with us today.

Welcome, Kim!

Thanks to Molly, Maureen, and Sinead for asking me to stop by Drunk Writers. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the fascinating world of research. Perhaps the invitation stemmed from the fact that the words, “drunken oblivion,” can be found in the first sentence of my novel, ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS. :-)

Ed note: Use of the word “drunken” in the first line of the book certainly helped! But we’d have asked her to blog, even if her characters always remained sober.

When I decided to set my romantic suspense about a former Army sniper in St. Lucia, I had never been to St. Lucia, and I had never shot a gun. That’s what is so exciting about writing—the process of discovery, the opportunity to learn. I figure that if you’re willing to commit several months of your life to a project, you had better grow as a person during that time.

A writer’s life is disciplined, not unlike a sniper’s. Heck, we both get shot up when we falter in our work. Precision is crucial and we need to get our facts right. That’s why I’ll let Kenya—the heroine of ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS—take point on our mission of discovery, allowing us to delve into research and low-crawl in the trenches.

Reconnoiter. Scout out your target. Learn everything you can about your subject before you speak to any experts. Use the internet—an invaluable tool. The library also offers excellent resources if you have a sniper’s patience. Be creative. Out-of-print books about a variety of subjects can be found at or I purchased videos and books from Palladin Press, a company that specializes in material about sniping and guns. The History Channel had a series on snipers. I ordered the DVDs and learned that in Stalingrad, 2,000 women snipers participated in the battle and only 500 of those women survived. One of these heroines became Kenya’s grandmother, the person who first taught her how to shoot.

Infiltrate. The best way to get the facts about a subject is to spend time in the middle of the action. Now, to clarify, by no means did I join a mercenary group and travel to Sierra Leone, but I did visit a gun range where I had the opportunity to fire the exact rifle Kenya uses in the novel. I also took a course in Advanced Tactical Training and participated in simulated combat with a bunch of guys. FYI, Prada has nothing on Camo Wear.

Ambush. Okay, maybe ambushing is more Kenya’s style, but you can go for the subtler approach and ask questions without a full frontal attack. Experts are usually quite willing to share their knowledge if you do your homework first. For example, Kenya runs a dive charter in St. Lucia and the hero approaches her about assisting in the recovery of a sunken Russian satellite. Although I’m an avid scuba diver, I’ve never had the chance to use trimix, the mixture of gases that allows you to dive deep with fewer side effects. My eye doctor travels the world on diving vacations, so I dropped by his office to ask if he knew much about trimix. He introduced me to an instructor who specializes in it. The man called me from a deep diving expedition off the coast of Ireland. I had more details than I had dreamed about. And discovering the waters of St. Lucia was definitely the highlight of the research.

The lesson in all of this is to immerse yourself in research. Be fearless like Kenya when pursuing the facts. Also be open to double-checking. My mentor at Seton Hill University was a former New York homicide detective and a Vietnam sniper. When he read the book, I was proud that he didn’t find any technical errors. No matter what subject you’re tackling in your novels, zero in on your target.

If you have two minutes to spare, please log onto and vote for ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS in the American Title III Contest. Kenya would be most grateful, and a sniper is always a good friend to have.

Thanks Kim! We'd love to have you back, anytime.

I think we should all vote for Kim. She’s right. It’s better to have snipers as friends than enemies! To vote, simply send an e-mail to with the words, ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS in the subject line. Vote from every e-mail address you have. Tell your friends to, too!

To see all the contestants and their opening lines, check out this link.

Good luck to Kimberley Howe!


Sinead M said...

Wow! amazing research, Kim. That authenticity must have added such a great extra element to your novel.
Which is probably one of the reasons it's winning so many contests.

heidi ruby miller said...

Great advice, Kim! I love the ideas in your novel.

Good luck with the contest.

And, tell Kenya I'm voting for her. ;)

Christine said...

Awesome Kim. Good luck with ATIII! You have m vote.

Kim Howe said...

Thanks for your support! I'll do my best to make the drunk writers proud in ATIII!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Hey guys! Great interview -- Kim! Way to spice up an interview. We're all voting for you!!

Michele Ann Young said...

Kim, great to see you here. Good company and lots of great chat over a bevvy of your choice.
Great interview. I am so looking forward to reading this book.

tcastleb said...

Oooh, what a creative way to make research fun! Good to see you over here too, and best of luck. I voted for ya!

K.C. Wright said...

Fantastic interview! Can't wait to see the book on the shelves.

Kimber said...

Love St. Lucia, one of my favorite places. Green and lush. Very exotic and sexy.
Cheering for you Kim!
Keep us posted as to when we need to vote!

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