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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hello all Mariannes and Marianne-o-philes! The positive thing about being the last to blog is that I got to read everyone else first. You ladies are hard acts to follow, lemme tell ya!

I am Marianne Strnad and yes, the surname is spelled correctly. When I was single I had a lovely Italian last name bursting with vowels and syllables. I gave all that up when I married my husband who is Czech by ethnicity. “Strnad” is an actual word in Czech, meaning “yellow bird”, as in a bunting. Quite a different meaning from from my maiden name “Nicoletto”, which means “small bed”.

How ironic that I should marry someone with an avian surname like that of my mother’s maiden name, “Tortorici”, which means “one who raises turtledoves”. Perhaps it means that no matter where I came from or where I go, I’ll always be “flighty”!

But, I digress. By day I’m a mild-mannered medical technologist who works in the chemistry lab of a VA hospital in the Pacific Northwest. By night I am a fledgling author penning her first book, a young adult paranormal novel set in the lab. One day I experienced an epiphany while working at the urine bench. Out of a frustrating microscopic examination of a slide containing the sediment of a spun urine sample, the idea for a novel was born. I’m betting not too many novels begin that way!

I love reading paranormal romances and I can thank The Twilight saga for that! I have all the books, and in hardback no less. I’ve read them all several times. When that became old, I searched for adult versions of similar stories, and there I met my favorite authors. After noticing a very sexy man on the cover of Kerrelyn Sparks’ book “Secret Life of a Vampire” I became a huge fan of her “Love At Stake” series when I bought the book which was already number six in her series. I loved the fun humor, well-developed characters, and the world she built in her series. Most of the rest of her books landed on my Kindle, and now I have several print versions signed by Kerrelyn herself. I finally got to meet her at RWA in Orlando this year, and it was a HUGE moment for me!

The great thing about owning a Kindle is all the available free books out there. Soon after receiving the e-reader, I was cruising the Amazon website for paranormal romance books. I had been devouring books in record speed and kept searching for new ones whose authors I had not yet read. One freebie was “Kiss of Midnight” by Lara Adrian. That book was like “literary crack” to me! I was amazed by the fresh new take on the vampire world Lara created, and her characters were utterly irresistible to me. Fortunately, that book was the first in her series and I got to read the rest in chronological order. Lara was the one who recommended that I join RWA to fast-forward my writing dreams. I am so glad that I took her advice because RWA turned out to be everything that she said it would and a whole lot more. I haven’t met Lara yet, but I am hoping that I will in 2011.

So why write young adult when I love adult paranormal so much? Because my field of work is experiencing a huge personnel loss and brain drain. Everyone knows what nurses and doctors do, but few can explain what transpires in a laboratory. Information that a laboratory provides can contribute to as much as 70% to medical decisions, yet the lab can comprise only 5% of a hospital’s budget. That’s a LOT of bang for the buck! Culturally, labs were known only as “the place where blood samples got lost or mixed up”, no thanks to many TV shows and movies. It’s only been since the advent of “CSI” that we finally got our due props! However, real life in the lab is much more mundane than what is presented by Hollywood, but it’s no less important; heck-even Bill Gates needs to know his cholesterol level! Since fewer young adults are entering the field, many measures have been taken to increase our visibility. My professional colleagues are doing what they can to increase our numbers, I’m just taking a different approach. My book will combine romance with just enough science to make it sound awesome, and humor to keep it light and entertaining. That’s my plan and I sure hope it works out!

You can read more at my personal blog at:
Thanks for spending time with me here!


  1. Hi Marianne!

    Your blog struck a chord because it discusses your love for the Twilight books and for your Kindle. My eldest is a sophomore at UCF in Orlando (majoring in mechanical engineering). He's a huge fan of the Twilight books and likes to travel with them - all of them and in hardback. Boy they are heavy suckers.

    I'm thinking of getting him an ereader for Christmas. I own a Sony and love it. My favorite thing is that I can check out ebooks from my library via the computer. They stay on my device for 14 days and then return themselves. But I've been torn about what device to get Zack.

    I've thought of a Nook b/c they also have the library capability and I think B&N runs the UCF bookstore. He might be able to get textbooks for his ereader. The problem? He's a very traditional kid. I don't know that he would get e-textbooks.

    I've also thought of getting him a Kindle. It doesn't have the library function that I'm aware of, but I understand that the selection of free books on Amazon is pretty large. He's a big SF/F fan and I bet there is a bunch out there.

    If you were buying an ereader for your college kid, which one would you buy?

    Kudos for your work in attracting tomorrow's medical technologists/scientists/forensic wizards. I wouldn't be surprised if your book did more to help the effort than any more traditional recruitment would ever accomplish.

    Mary Anne Graham
    Quacking Alone

  2. Looking forward to reading more about your first book. I have to say, of all the inspiration stories I've read, yours is a first! Very unusual!

    kkhaas at bellsouth dot net

  3. Hi Marianne!
    It was great to meet you in Orlando! The premise for your WIP is awesome! Wishing you the best!!! And you'll be glad to know that my daughter is studying chemistry in college, and she actually understands it!!! It is way beyond me...

    Hugs!!! See you in NYC??

  4. Hi Marianne! Nice to get to know you a little better.

  5. Hi Marianne,

    I loved reading your post and how you "discovered" paranormal romance. "Literary crack," definitely describes how I've felt about many authors, including Lara Adrian! A YA combining romance, science, and humor sounds awesome! :D

  6. Out of a frustrating microscopic examination of a slide containing the sediment of a spun urine sample, the idea for a novel was born. I’m betting not too many novels begin that way!

    HAHAHAHA... probably not.

    LOVED your "Will work for..." picture. ME, TOO!

    Have you read Lynsay Sands? She's absolutely fabulous as well.

  7. Hello everyone! I just got back from a week in California-sorry I couldn't reply sooner!
    To Mary Anne Graham: My short answer is "I don't know". I personally use my Kindle for "pleasure reading", and yes, there ARE a ton of free Kindle books out there, in his preferred genre as well. Do you prefer to gift Zack with something he can "work" with or "relax" with? Which would he prefer? I am very impressed with the fact that he loves the series too and carts the books around. I bet he also listens to "Imprint" podcasts by the folks who run the Twilight Source website. They have great literary discussions on the series, and many of them had me considering how to write my own book. Thanks for the kind words on my approach to increasing the number of folks in my field. It's untraditional to be sure but you never know!

    To Karen H: Thanks! NaNoWriMo is here, so I hope to really get that sucker going! Maybe I'll post snippets...hmm...

    To Kerrelyn: Hello! ***Big hugs*** Wow-I stand in awe of your daughter! I minored in chem in college and it's definitely not for wimps! If Roman doesn't snatch her up for Romatech Industries then he's a fool-lol! Thanks for visiting me here!

    To Paranormal Queen: Hey girl-thanks for finding me here-looking forward to your new book!

    To Virna: Hiya! Thanks so much for the encouragement-means a lot; thanks for stopping by! :)

    To Marianne: Hello "sis" - lol! I couldn't resist taking that pic of me at work. I want to take others too-so many ideas rolling around in my noodle, sigh...I have read Lyndsay Sands and I very much liked what I have read. I definitely want/need to increase my "Argeneau" quotient by reading more of her books!

  8. Hi Marianne,

    Loved your blog and calling the love for our favorite authors and this genre Literary crack!! I've been known to finish books by my favorite authors in one sitting! Nice to know I'm in like company!!

  9. Wow!!!! You all have such interesting lives beyond the writing chord we all share. I LOVE forensics and think working in a lab is more intriguing than you make it sound . . but then you should know! I applaud you for reaching out to the youngsters, giving them insight into the world of micro biology, something very important, like you so aptly pointed out. I bet your books are great.

    As for e-readers and kindles . . I guess I am far behind. I know they are the mode of things now but when I read a book and I like it, I like to keep it and a kindle can only hold so much so I haven't really invested in one yet. Maybe one day . . . Until then I'll keep going to Barnes & Noble, J.B. Dalton's and Borders.

  10. Hi Marianne W! One-sitting book reading is easy to do with a favorite author. Of course, you have to forego all else, sustenance, sleep, etc-worth it I'd say!

  11. Thanks Marianne! Lab work is very interesting, otherwise I wouldn't be there. However, as with other jobs, the more mundane stuff always has to be done, i.e., restocking, cleaning, documenting, QC requirements, yadda yadda yadda. That's why we love the unusual or downright bizarre stuff we come across, as in parasites not endemic to our area, rare blood types and cells, etc. Outsiders think we're ghoulish, but to us it's fascinating.
    As for my Kindle, I have over 100 books on it. When I delete them Amazon caches them somewhere so that they are never really gone, and from where one can always call them back. I also love mine because I now have arthritis and holding a paperback is just too strenuous on my aging joints. Although I'm not old as most folks consider "old" to be, I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disorder that has a large arthritic component to it, and anything that makes my life easier is a literal godsend. But I have to admit, I LOVE browsing through the very bookstores you mentioned, it just never gets old does it? :)


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