The Writing Life

Please welcome guest author Sharon Calvin to the Cafe!

One of the great joys I discovered when I began writing my current series, Gulf Coast Rescue, is the need for focused research. I love learning new things (could be why my day job is in training development) and working on this series forces me to target specific areas to learn more about the US Coast Guard.

What I know about came from a lot of research, including brainstorming with some great ex-Coasties. Early on I decided to concentrate on aircrews of the medium range helicopter called a Jayhawk. Similar in looks and capabilities to the Army’s Blackhawk, the Navy’s Seahawk, and the Air Force’s Pavehawk, its primary mission is conducting offshore search and rescues. From my research I know the speed (170 knots), range (300 nautical miles before refueling is needed), typical crew (four), and what air stations they are based at (I write about the one in Clearwater, Florida since I live just across the state).

Typically, my stories start with a character and a “what if” statement. What if…a rescue situation turns into a desperate fight to save a child swept overboard during a hurricane? (A Dangerous Leap). Or what if…a series of false Maydays are used by a terrorist looking for the perfect crew to hijack? (Jayhawk Down).

With my general story idea, and a basic hero and heroine in mind, I begin searching the Internet. Of course the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you can find darn near everything you could wish for about a specific topic. And the curse is that you can find darn near everything you could wish for about a specific topic and spend so much time you don’t get your daily writing done!

Cat sleeping on deskYes, I have a daily writing schedule. Do I stick to it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Besides writing, I have two jobs, a husband, and a demanding cat. But for me, being an author means writing every day. It might be only a scene outline or character note, but forward progress is essential. And because of the stories I tell, I’m always checking facts and figures. I’m on distribution lists for Coast Guard YouTube videos where I get to see actual footage of recues, I have copies of crew manuals and search and rescue (SAR) protocols. It has been a fun experience with lots of “what ifs” to keep me writing for years—especially if I don’t get seduced by more research on the Internet!

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A Dangerous Leap

Book one of Gulf Coast Rescue

A Dangerous Leap coverRaised by navy parents, Kelly Bishop learned how to pack light and say goodbye at an early age. She’s earned her Coast Guard rescue swimmer stripes in some of the toughest waters out there, outperforming men along the way. Now she’s ready for a new start in Florida, eager to prove herself as the best of the best.

What she isn’t ready for is the spark between her and fellow Coastie Ian Razzamenti.

Ian knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. And what he’s always wanted is a stay-at-home wife—someone who can take care of their children while he’s out on missions. The attraction he feels for Kelly is intense, but is it worth giving up his big-family dreams?

Life-or-death situations leave little time for distraction—or doubt. When a tropical storm becomes a hurricane and a dangerous enemy reveals himself, their air station springs into action, and Kelly and Ian may not have the chance to decide whether they want to take the leap…

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Sharon Calvin author photoSharon Calvin has been a winner and finalist in numerous Romance Writers of America writing contests including the Molly, Suzannah, the Beacon, and the Golden Heart, she is currently writing a romantic suspense series (Gulf Coast Rescue) about the men and women of the US Coast Guard for Carina Press. Her first two books, A Dangerous Leap, and Jayhawk Down, were released in April and August of 2015.

Her life experiences fuel her imagination and help her breathe life into her characters. Over the years Sharon has worked in an Oregon saw mill, been a telephone exchange repairman (until she failed pole climbing), fired a Thompson submachine gun (Tommy Gun) at the FBI firing range, and won second place in an off-road hill climb in her Jeep CJ-5. Last year she took an intro flight in a helicopter to better understand her heroine in her Coast Guard series.

She competed in cross-country riding events for almost 10 years before swapping in her horse for a Ninja 500 sport bike. Trading Midwestern ice storms and tornadoes for hurricanes and perpetual summers, Sharon now lives on an island in Florida with her husband and a Maine Coon cat with attitude.

You can learn more about her at or her web site at and follow her on Twitter



The Writing Life — 8 Comments

  1. I laughed when I read this:

    The blessing is that you can find darn near everything you could wish for about a specific topic. And the curse is that you can find darn near everything you could wish for about a specific topic and spend so much time you don’t get your daily writing done!

    Isn’t that the truth! I’d have such a hard time staying on task with all of that fascinating footage to comb through. But I know it must make for a very exciting and authentic story.

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