Arizona author Lisa Heartman has published her first romantic suspense novel, High Heels and Handguns. Book one in a series about bodyguard Kate Howard, the story involves a high stakes FBI investigation of an explosion at a downtown Phoenix hotel and a race to prevent more mass casualties across the Valley.

Heartman, who lives in Gilbert and works in corporate marketing for a Scottsdale based company, began pursuing her dream of becoming a published author five years ago. She says the journey to High Heels and Handguns has been a true learning process. After her first book attempt was met with less than favorable reviews, Heartman committed herself to doing everything she could to get it right. This involved a series of writing classes, critique groups, and in-depth research on everything from guns to military life to the FBI. In the end, the author says she wrote the book she was always meant to write. 

“This has been the hardest and most fun thing I have ever done,” says Heartman. “Once Kate Howard came into my mind, something just clicked, and her story came pouring out. Now that I’m sharing Kate, and the other characters I created in the book, it feels like I’m putting a little piece of myself out into the world.” 

With the demands of a full-time job, Heartman says this novel has been a true labor of love. Heartman answered some other questions for

What is your favorite part of writing a story?

Lisa Heartman: I really enjoy developing characters. I like delving into their lives, figuring out who they are and how they will react to the situation I’ve plunked them into. Just like all of us, these fictional characters have quirks and likes and life experiences (if only on paper) that make their reactions unique to them. They do the right thing or what they think is the right thing (which can be the wrong thing), and then they have to face the consequences of those decisions.

What is your least favorite part of writing at story?

Lisa Heartman: My least favorite is probably all the work that goes into the story before there is a story. Before I start writing the first chapter, I research topics that I will be touching on and plotting where in the story to drop clues, along with what those clues will be. Research and plotting are important aspects of storytelling, but it can be time consuming when all I really want to do is put words on the page.

What do you love about telling stories?

Lisa Heartman: What I love about telling stories is the same thing as I love about reading them. For me, it’s about being taken on a journey, experiencing new things, meeting new “people” and understanding how very different and the same we all are. It’s the emotional rollercoaster, adventure at a safe distance, and lessons learned that I just can’t get enough of.

How do you come up with your stories?

Lisa Heartman: It depends on the story. Sometimes I get a character stuck in my head and I want to know who they are and how they got here. Other times, it’s more of a “what if” scenario that pops into my head. Either way, the story is what helps me answer those questions.

When did you start writing?

Lisa Heartman: When I was young, maybe eight or nine, I asked Santa for a typewriter for Christmas. I guess I knew back then, but I didn’t pursue it until much later in life. I started writing seriously in 2015.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Lisa Heartman: My first piece of advice would be to tell them to go for it. If you want to write, do it. I didn’t write for a long time, because I didn’t think I was any good. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if what you write is good or not, first drafts are supposed to be awful, it’s what you do with the draft that makes you proud. My second piece of advice I would give is find like-minded people. There are writing groups all over the country. Some meet in person and some are only online, but find a group that you are comfortable with and join. For me, that was Romance Writers of America®. Writing is a lonely job. Having a community of like-minded individuals to talk to, run ideas by, discuss challenges, and celebrate wins is important.

How much time do you spend writing each week?

Lisa Heartman: I work a full-time job, so I write mostly in the evenings and on weekends. I clock an average of 14-20 hours a week on my writing business. It’s not all writing time, but the majority of it is putting words on the page. The rest of the time I’m editing, brainstorming, plotting future chapters, researching, marketing, answering emails, and working with various vendors. 

About Lisa Heartman and ‘High Heels and Handguns’

For Kate Howard, former Army Special Forces Sergeant, life as a one-woman personal protection detail comes with challenges. Wearing civilian camouflage while guarding high-profile clients is a dangerous game of rock, paper, hollow point. 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 to catch a madman hell-bent on revenge.

High Heels and Handguns is available at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers in paperback and ebook format. Purchasing information available at Details on a book signing event to be released later this month.