Monday, February 8, 2010

Juggling Chainsaws

What's your writing beverage of choice?

I've been dreading this question because I just know I'm going to let you all down by busting the stereotype of a hard-boiled thriller writer.

My main drink? Water. I know, I know, boooooring!

Since I usually start my day writing and I can use all the anti-oxidant boost I can get, I also drink a cup of tea brewed with a special recipe given to me by the incredible Margie Lawson when I visited her house in the Rocky Mountains.

It's organic, light, chocolate soy milk with Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Carmel Chai. May not sound like much, but it's a great wake-me-upper and good for me, too!

Unfortunately, Celestial Seasonings have stopped making this flavor, so once I finish my stash....well, I don't know what I'll do. Anyone with a suggestion, please give a holler!

Here's why I don't drink much alcohol. First off, I'm a lightweight—or a cheap date, depending on how you look at it

Second, as a former ER doc, I never mix drinking and driving, which makes me the designated driver for most of my outings with friends.

Third, my tastes in alcoholic beverages are expensive (just ask Shane who has bought me drinks at conferences). If it's Irish, I prefer Black Bush; if it's Scotch, I prefer Oban or Glen Morangie; if it's wine, I like Chateau Neuf de Pape, if it's cognac, Hennessy XO…..

But the last and most important reason why I don't drink and write: I'm juggling four-freakin-story lines in my teeny-tiny brain!!!

Writing four main characters means separating four points of view, four voices, four distinct personalities….there's barely room left over for my own, much less adding a touch of alcohol-induced-fogginess.

And for this upcoming Berkley book, I've also been writing the book BACKWARDS!!!

You see, this book takes place in an abbreviated time line—it should take the average reader the same amount of time to read the book as the events occur. Which means down to the second timing in all four of my plotlines.

Think Die Hard in a hospital.

So, since I knew where everyone ended up, I began at the end and worked my way forward. It's been a fun juggling process—kind of like juggling with chainsaws!

I just finished the draft and am pretty pleased. Maybe I'll go have a drink…..

Oh, and a quick update:

When I announced my Buy a Book, Make a Difference program to raise money for Doctors Without Borders two weeks ago, I never dreamed of the fantastic response I'd get!

I had initially set my fund raising goal at $1,000 but with three more weeks left in the month, we've already surpassed $800!!!

I'll be increasing that goal to $2,000--remember all of my proceeds from four of my Kindle titles (NERVES OF STEEL, BORROWED TIME, CHASING SHADOWS, and LOST IN SHADOWS) sold before Feb 29 will be going to Doctors Without Borders to help in their humanitarian efforts.

Thank you all for your support and for helping to spread the word!!!

For more information, go to

As always, thanks for reading!

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. Her newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to


Sophie Littlefield said...

hey CJ - got to hunt down that chai stuff. I can't remember the last time I started a day with something that was "good for me." Usually I start out with coffee and a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate chips...

CJ Lyons said...

Hey, don't knock Ghirardelli--chocolate is health food around here!

Never got the coffee habit, not even during med school. Probably a good thing, I'm hyper enough without caffeine....

Terry said...

Too bad about the chai. There's always Nesquik but I suppose that's not really health food.

I can't imagine dealing with four main characters or writing backwards. It's trouble enough writing forwards.

CJ Lyons said...

LOL! It was actually alot of fun writing backwards--seems like I always have to do everything the hard way, lol!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Maybe you should write your next novel upside down?

My beverage of choice is soy chai too, so tomorrow I'll look around the house and list off all my chai brands for you to try, CJ!

(You might not drink a lot, but you don't sound like a cheap date with your alcohol choices)

Mysti Lou said...

Another Black Bush fan! Yay! I can't remember the name of the last fabulous scotch I tried that *literally* evaporated off my tongue (always thought that was a metaphor), which is my subconscious's way of protecting my wallet, I think :)

Thanks for the reminder about DwoB, going there now, and to your site to buy a book for the cause.

Your "real time" book sounds fascinating, can't wait to read it!

I'm back in training, so only one medicinal dose of caffeine a day for me! And .5 oz or so of darkest chocolate. Amazing how satisfying a 1/16th of a big ole dark dark dark chocolate bar is at the end of the day (my husband has the intestinal fortitude to manage the dosing--left to my own devices I'd inhale the whole bar!)...

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Becky! I'm not actually a big tee drinker, but who could resist a tea with "chocolate caramel" in its name???

CJ Lyons said...

Mysti Lou, you have much more discipline than I do--training for what???

Shane Gericke said...

"Organic, light, chocolate soy milk with Celestial Seasonings Chocolate Carmel Chai ..."

A shiver went through my manly body when I read that.

But then you followed with Black Bush, Oban and Glen Morangie.

Ahhhhhhh. Sweet. I'll buy you drinks any time, CJ. And just cause you're you, even a chai ...

And hey, your fundraising thing is amazing. I hope you break 2k and keep going. DWB is a terrific organization, and one that I give to proudly. Are you going to go to Haiti yourself?

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Shane!, can't go to Haiti myself, was seriously tempted, though!

PK the Bookeemonster said...

General Foods International Coffees used to make a Cream Tea (not the chai) that I really really liked so of course they discontinued it. Oh and a great line of soups that came in a box (Aunt Patsy's) that made this huge vat a soup that I used to just live on when I was single. There's got to be websites that offer those products that aren't available through the main stores. Someone must know.

CJ Lyons said...

Good idea, PK, I'll take a look. Thanks!

Meredith Cole said...

I love the sound of your next book--Die Hard in a hospital!

And many thanks for all you're doing to help the people of Haiti. The suffering there is so heartbreaking.

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Meredith! What can I say, I'm a big time movie buff, so the chance to pay homage to many of my favs (Die Hard, Terminator 1 and 2, Rear View Window and more) was too much fun to ignore!

And thanks to everyone for supporting DWB--remember, you don't have to buy my books to help out, if you want to donate directly instead, go to:

Kelli Stanley said...

Ceej, you are so awesome. Wonderful news about your fund-raising!!!

I love chai ... also love cheap diner coffee. And Fortnum and Mason English Breakfast. My tastes tend to run to the expensive, like CJs and the plebian, like Maxwell House.

But at the launch party last week, the "official" drink was Eagle Rare bourbon, aged ten years, single barrel. And yummy stuff it is. :)

I'll look for soy chai when I'm home from the tour, since you and Becks both like it!!


CJ Lyons said...

Sounds like a great launch, Kelli! Wish I could have been there!!!

Joshua Corin said...

Chocolate *is* health food. It's vitamins for the endorphins!

Seriously, though, congratulations on all the fundraising success! That's really selfless of you to do and fantastic that so many people supported the worthy cause.