Gilbert resident and author Lisa Heartman is a finalist for the 2019 Golden Heart Award from the Romance Writers of America.

Heartman’s manuscript, “High Heels and Handguns,” was a finalist in the romantic suspense category. The annual Golden Heart Award recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

The Golden Heart winner will be announced at the RWA National Convention in July in New York.

Heartman is a member of the Phoenix-based RWA chapter, Desert Rose.

The following is a question and answer with Heartman by Gilbert Sun News.

To find out the release date for her book that she is doing final edits on, sign up at or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram @heartmanlisa.

Question: How long have you lived in Gilbert and tell us about your family?

Answer: My husband and I have been living in Gilbert since the summer of 2009. It’s just the two of us and a crazy cat that thinks she owns the place (and she kind of does).

Q: When did you start writing books?

A: I didn’t start writing seriously until about five years ago. I’ve written three books, although the first two will never see the light of day. A former critique partner told me I should bring them in the backyard and set them on fire. Advice I did not take for fear of burning down the neighborhood.

I’ve made every writing mistake in those first two books, and that is how I’ve learned what not to do. By the time I’m done editing my current book, High Heels and Handguns, it will be about a year and a half total I’ll be working on it.

Q: Why did you pick this genre, what is it that attracts you to romance writing?

A: Pick up a newspaper or watch the news for 10 minutes and it’s easy to get lost in all the negative. With all the ugliness going on in our world, I like to remember that people fall in love every day.

Matter of fact, someone somewhere probably just fell in love. When I pick up a romance novel, I know that no matter what awful things these characters are going through, they will find their happily ever after.

Q: Tell us a bit about “High Heels and Handguns.”

A: Personal security expert Kate Howard relies solely on her intuition, ingenuity and trusty 9mm, Ziggy, to keep her clients safe in rapid-response situations. Escorting a state senator to his re-election gala was the highest profile client she’d landed yet, but when it’s brought to an explosive halt, Kate is forced to work side-by-side with the one man she’d avoided for 12 years.

The one man she ever loved. The one man she almost got killed. Paxton Banks, her former captain-turned-FBI agent.

Q: Because you like to develop characters, which one is your favorite and why?

A: I really enjoy writing my main character, Kate Howard. When you say the word bodyguard, most people think big, muscular dudes in black suits and sunglasses. That’s the complete opposite of Kate. She’s average height, average build, and she uses it to her advantage.

She’s a no-nonsense woman who’s developed her bodyguard business by hiding in plain sight. She can walk into a room on the arm of a senator or a CEO and no one would think she’s there to protect him. People overlook her, they underestimate her, and she’s got no problem proving them all wrong.

Q:  How has your writing evolved since you began this?

A: When I started writing, I was focused on contemporary romance, but my voice never really fit the genre. Now I write romantic suspense, and it just feels right. I wanted to be an FBI agent as a kid, so having an FBI agent (also the love interest) in my book has been amazing.

I’ve spent time interviewing female soldiers, ATF and FBI agents, as well as participated in Cop for the Day where we toured a precinct, sat down with dispatch to hear 9-1-1 calls coming in, toured the crime lab, participated in a virtual reality scenario drill and even took a helicopter ride with the police air support unit.

I’ve had a blast doing research for this book. I really enjoy finding those little clues to bury deep in the story for readers to discover. It’s hard but exciting, and I hope readers will love it as much as I do.

Q: What is the subject of your next book?

A: The next book is just a mush of random “what if” scenarios floating around my head right now, but it will be a continuation of Kate’s story.

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

A: 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 your tribe. 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.