featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Catherine E. McLean’s short stories have appeared in hardcopy and online anthologies and magazines. Her latest novel is Hearts Akilter, a lighthearted fantasy/sci-fi romance. Catherine also gives writing workshops, both online and in-person. Learn more about Catherine and her books at her website.

Catherine will be giving away a $50 gift card at her release party August 5th. Visit her website for more information.

Heart Attack Symptoms: Believability in Fiction

Robots can have heart attacks, too. At least, that is what I had to deal with when Henry, the robot in my forthcoming release, popped into my head saying he was suffering from one.

Because believability is a primary factor in writing fiction, I wanted to make certain what the medical robot (Henry) would tell Marlee (who repairs robots) when he described the unusual "pain" he felt. But because Henry is a robot, his "pain" was current that went from his upper left chest and down his left arm. Henry was experiencing a short circuit, which was caused by a bomb that had been placed inside him. But in real life, heart attack symptoms can be similar.

Here are the common symptoms of a heart attack:

Chest pain: While this seems like a vague term, it is used to cover a variety of feelings of discomfort in the chest area. Sometimes called tightness or heaviness, such symptoms may last for a few minutes and then go away.

Other areas of pain: Pain is often reported in the neck, jaw, left shoulder, arms, and even the stomach.

Difficulty breathing: Shortness of breath is common when having a heart attack.

Sweating: Often referred to as a “cold sweat,” perspiration is a common symptom of a heart attack.

Nausea: It is not uncommon to vomit when experiencing a heart attack.

Rapid or irregular heart beats and lightheadedness: Due to the stress the heart undergoes when experiencing a heart attack, the heart will jerk into a rapid or irregular heart beat, and the body experiences an overall wave of weakness, which is often described as lightheadedness.

Two things to keep in mind:

Indigestion or heartburn is often confused with a heart attack. Every day, people are rushed to the hospital because they assume or believe they are experiencing a heart attack, and it turns out it’s just abdominal distress.

Heart attack symptoms in women may differ. In medical studies, women reported having much more vague feelings when it came to cardiac distress, often including a feeling of fatigue for several days.

And like with Henry-the-robot who is dealing with a ticking bomb, the best advice I can give is to reiterate what the experts say: When in doubt, always seek emergency care.

Hearts Akilter
Love, vengeance, attempted murder, and a bomb...No reason to panic.

When a medical robot insists he's having a heart attack, Marlee Evans, a pragmatic maintenance technician, has every reason to panic. There's a bomb inside him. Since Marlee can't risk the bomber discovering she's found the device, her only option is to kidnap Deacon Black, an unflappable bomb expert, and secretly convince him to disarm it. Things go slightly awry when Deacon sets a trap for someone who is trying to kill him, and inadvertently captures Marlee instead. Instantly intrigued by her refreshingly forthright and gutsy attitude, he's smitten. Unfortunately for Deacon, Marlee recently hardened her heart and swore off men, especially handsome ones with boy-next-door grins. But as Marlee and Deacon attempt to identify and prevent the bomber from detonating the device, they discover that love may be the most explosive force of all. 


Catherine said...

I really like the name of your blog. The "crafty killers" part resonates with me because I had to be so crafty in coming up with a robot who thought he was having a heart attack. LOL All kidding aside, I'm also a crafter (sewing all kinds of things but not quilts or upholstery). Now, I'll go back to scrolling down to see what other interesting posts are here.

Lois Winston said...

Catherine, any time you'd like to return and do a post on your crafts, I'd be happy to host you again.

Catherine said...

Thank you for the invitation to come back. That would be so cool. I'll keep in touch.

Charmaine Gordon said...

Charming beyond words. Thanks to both of you for a terrific blog and a lot of chuckles and information.

Catherine said...

You're very welcome!

Norma Huss said...

Hi Catherine, glad to see you here with Lois! Didn't expect to see a fellow Pennwriter. Your story sounds like a must-read.

I'll tell you a funny story. I was feeling weird one day in a quite unexplainable way. The nurse sent me to the hospital in an ambulance. They checked out my heart and about everything else they could check out (and I later had a stress test-with no heart problem). One thing they did find. A tick on my neck that I hadn't seen. (I mean, mirrors don't show everything.) Did you know the best way to remove a tick is with a wet sudsy paper towel?