Friday, August 31, 2007

Gemma Goes Hollywood

My third High Heels book just hit the shelves this week, and, not to play favorites, but I think I had more fun writing this one than any of the others! Undercover in High Heels finds Maddie back in L.A., Hollywood to be exact, where she goes undercover as the new wardrobe assistant on the set of TV’s hottest prime time soap, Magnolia Lane. Which sounds like a dream job until a beautiful young starlet winds up dead on the set. Now it’s up to Maddie to catch a killer as she sifts through a leading lady with a secret, an actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a sexy cyber scandal, and one tabloid reporter who'll stop at nothing to get the story of the century. Not to mention the case's familiar lead detective, Jack Ramirez, whose patience with Maddie is wearing thin, maybe for good this time.

One of the things that made writing this book so much fun was that I got to revisit my Hollywood days. When I was a teenager, I moved to L.A. to peruse acting and what an amazing experience that was! I got to meet so many neat people (even a few celebrities) and spent most of my days on the set of movies and TV shows. I had a few regular roles on shows like Sweet Valley High (anyone remember the Wakefield twins? God, I loved those books as a kid!) and Beverly Hills 90210 (Brandon! Dillon! Sigh.), as well as some minor background roles in feature films and commercials. (Ten points to anyone who can spot Gemma in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion!)

But my favorite studio set to visit was the one that I modeled my fictional Sunset Studios in Undercover in High Heels after - Universal Studios. No matter what we were shooting, it was like walking into an alternate reality the second you set foot on the lot. Universal is so big that it’s like a little city unto itself, complete with police force, restaurants, gardens, and even it’s own theme park! My favorite part of working there was that as the theme park’s studio tour would go by, we’d get to wave at the tourist taking our pictures like they’d just spotted Angelia Jolie. I have no idea how many vacation home videos I’ve ended up in, but I’m guessing it’s a lot!

The other thing that made Universal Studios so unique was the different complete neighborhoods they’d built onto the lot. They’ve got one street made to look like a typical New York city neighborhood, complete with brownstones and two story walk ups, but as soon as you turn the corner, you’re suddenly on Main Street USA, filled with mom and pop stores and the local diner. They’ve got an Old West street that you’d swear leads right to the OK corral, and a tree lined Leave it to Beaver style suburb. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to get your bearings when you’re walking through these disjointed neighborhoods. I’ll admit, just like Maddie does in Undercover in High Heels, I found myself lost once on the Universal lot, aimless wandering through the New York streets looking for my trailer. Thankfully, unlike Maddie, I didn’t have a crazed killer chasing after me.

So, in honor of my Hollywood theme release, I’m opening the floor to some serious celebrity gossiping today. Who is your favorite actress? Which hot leading man makes you drool? What is your can’t-live-without TV show? I’ll start: fav actor – Johnny Depp. In addition to being hugely talented, I just can’t watch the man without getting tingly all over.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, August 30, 2007

School 'Daze'

I feel like a zombie. One of the living dead. I look like one, too. There’s good reason. Beyond my usual hectic life. You see, just like Tressa Jayne in my fourth Calamity Caper, I dropped back into college this week. And after more years away from academia than I care to admit to you nice folks, it isn’t a pretty sight.

Unlike Bethany’s poignant recounting of her son’s first day at kindergarten rich with emotions that tear at your heartstrings and, perhaps, take you back to a time when you had to see your baby or grandchild off on a big, yellow bus or wave goodbye to them at the classroom door, my own version of ‘Kathy Goes to College--Part II’ evokes few warm, fuzzy thoughts or deep, shaky ‘ah’ sighs. The sighs associated with my academic re-entry are more along the lines of a gasp for air followed by ‘Ohmigosh, what have I done?’ or the long, deep, sigh of relief when I fall into bed at night--‘fall’ being the operative word here.

So what would compel the middle-aged mother of four teenagers who holds down a full-time job and has writing deadlines looming to sharpen her pencils, purchase a five subject notebook, pricey textbooks, pull on a book bag and take a seat in a classroom with classmates her children’s ages? Well, besides masochism, that is.

In a word? Goals.

I’m a bit anal when it comes to goal-setting and goal-reaching. Once I place something on my goals grid, there are only two ways to see it disappear. One. I meet that goal. Two. I die before I meet that goal. Little Mary Sunshine here, huh? Like I said, I’m pretty OCD about this stuff.

This was the year I finally got sick of seeing the goal line stating: ‘Finish criminal justice degree.’ You see, I’m ‘this’ close to a degree in criminal justice. ‘This’ close! So I also decided this was going to be the last year that goal would vex me. And since I really prefer meeting that goal to kicking the bucket, I registered for classes two nights a week.

But this morning when the alarm had the audacity to go off at its customary five a.m. I wanted to throw my big, heavy, criminology textbook at it. I lay there wondering who the hell the smart ass who thought up the phrase ‘life long learner’ and in the dark of the pre-dawn morning I speculated on some interesting ways to do ‘em in.

Literarily, of course.

I was so dead tired I shuffled to the bathroom like a sleepwalker. What I saw in the mirror made me flinch. Halloween had arrived early. I looked like I was already made up for a role in a George Romero zombie flick. My hair was all stuck up like the Bride of Frankenstein and my eyes were bloodshot and red like Dracula’s eyes just before he bites the big one. (i.e. the jugular) Yikes! Someone should’ve warned me higher education could be hazardous to my health. And more importantly--to my hair!!!

Yet in those same moments I also thought about how many women I knew who, like me, were heads of their households, and held down jobs, wrote books, volunteered their time and talents, and still managed to pursue their dreams. Achieve goals. Kick butt and take names.

I lifted my chin and gave my reflection my best Dirty Harry look. I hadn’t managed to get both eyes open at the same time so I looked more like Popeye but you get the point. I can do this, I told myself, humming the ‘Gonna Fly Now’ music from Rocky. I can compete with kids half my age. I can work fourteen hour days. I can keep up this grueling pace. I am woman. Hear me roar. I almost dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back. I felt like freakin’ Joan of Arc--well, until I remembered I’d only survived two night classes so far.

So much for Bullet Hole Bacus, Warrior Collegian. Still, having pursued by dream of writing for publication ten years before realizing it should win me bonus points for endurance and stamina. Right? Then again, it could all be due to good ole Iowa stubbornness.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I beg to differ. It’s totally possible to teach an old dog new tricks. If you manage to keep the old dog awake long enough to teach her…

So, what elusive dreams are you chasing? What goals are proving elusive? And, if you have any sure fire tips for success--short of pharmaceutical aids, of course--as Kathy Goes to College: The Sequel plays out in real time, send them my way. Any sage advice or words of wisdom or atta girls as I limp through the hallowed halls of academia would be greatly appreciated.

Hoping to ‘make the grade’ -- or die trying,

~Kathy the Coed a/k/a Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Go Ahead, Punk. Make My Day.

I think my favorite part about being a published author is the fan mail. I still can't believe that people like the book and actually take time to tell me about it. How freakin' awesome is that?

On Monday, my Brownie troop became a Junior troop and at the ceremony, one of the grandmothers of the scouts pulled me aside to tell me how much she liked the book. (Hey! I've got inter generational appeal.) Last night at a friend's house (thanks, Michelle, for letting me spend all that money on Pampered Chef stuff) a friend who's also a Cub Scout leader, told me, "I loved your book, but I'm afraid of your Girl Scout troop." (Who isn't?)

Another writer e-mailed me to say, "Your book satisfies the bloodthirsty in me." (That was my goal.) My favorite is from a reader who said she was in a tough staff meeting and stepped back to ask herself, "What Would Gin Do?" (I'm picturing WWGD bandoliers made out of black goretex.)

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if you love a book, you should definitely let the author know. Writing is a solitary enterprise. Hearing from fans is one of the things that keep us going (and in some cases, actually out of our pajamas and into the shower once in a while). So keep the fan mail coming to all of us here at Killer Fiction. We can't get enough of it and your note - no matter how simple, makes our day.

Another writer once told me that the best fan letter she ever got contained only two words. It said, "Write faster." I think that says it all.

Cheers and thanks,
Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not My Fault

My grandfather once gave me the lecture on the importance of friends. Love em’, appreciate ‘em. Then he told me to be careful. “If your friends get into trouble, you will likely get involved.” Wisdom radiating from his deep voice as he continued, “Stay away from people who enjoy trouble.”

Boy, was my grandfather right.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t listen to him.

Now, I don’t mean the bad kind of trouble, just the kind of trouble that makes life . . . interesting. The particular situation I’m referring to was basically harmless . . . even if it did involve rope, a gun, a pair of handcuffs, a few agents, a handful of authors on a mission, a shower cap and a seaweed facial mask.

Now, don’t go judging me. I mean, name a writer who hasn’t dreamed once of twice of finding a sure-fire way to get an agent’s undivided attention. And even if you do judge me, before you condemn me, let me explain that it wasn’t my fault. You see, I have this friend.

Yep, it’s all Faye Hughes’ fault.

Okay…okay, maybe it’s not all her fault. Faye and I, well, we’re kind of dangerous together. If we’d grown up in the same town, gone to the same school, we’d have been the friends who not only didn’t get to sit together, we wouldn’t have been allowed to be in the same classroom. Why? Because when we’re together, one of us gets some crazy notion, the idea gets ping-ponged back and forth until what sounded like the talk of two lunatics suddenly begins to sound like a downright brilliant plan.

That’s how the I got into my last bit of trouble. Faye and I were in Dallas at the RWA national convention. We were talking about our workshop, “The Great Agent Hunt,” which we’re giving at the Romantic Times Convention next April in Pittsburgh. We wanted to do something different for the workshop, and the word “hunt” sort of set us off. The next thing I know, we were asking Ruth—another friend who doesn’t run from trouble and had a car—to make an emergency run to the nearest Wal*Mart to pick up a few supplies. God, I love Ruth, she didn’t even question why we might need a gun, a rope or some aqua-green seaweed facial mask.

The hard part was getting the agents into the room. Amazingly, our friends were all lined up to help carry out our plan. Their willingness had nothing to do with their being rejected by numerous agents and ready for revenge, either. Oh no, it was all due to the amazing thing called friendship and friends who…well, friends who don’t run from a little trouble.

Now, the agents had some reservations at first, but being outnumbered—they were sort of roped into the plan. We were set to go. We had the three agents, Kim Lionetti, Jessica Faust and Caren Johnson, on board. By this, I mean we had the rope, the gun, the seaweed facial mask and the hotel shower cap, but Teri, another friendly co-conspirator, refused to crawl under the bed. (Something about bed bugs. Crazy right? I mean, we’re tying agents to hotel chairs—among other indignities—and she’s worried about bed bugs!) Anyway, the point is, I needed another pair of hands and an under-the-bed person.

I thought about asking Teri to run get Suzan. (Yep, another friend. But Faye, who was in charge of taking care of the gun, reminded me that Suzan, a lawyer, had warned us that the less she knew about the details, the better we’d be if we needed her to defend us. Alison, another schemer in our plan, was already at her post, which was hiding in the closet. So, I sent Teri across the hall to get Jody.

Jody, oblivious to what was going on, came barreling across hall with more gusto than someone who weighs so little could possibly barrel, and said, “What do you need?”

I was standing there with the rope in my hands and my agent, Kim, fidgeting in a chair, Faye was toting the gun, Ruth was mixing up the seed weed mask and opening the shower cap, Jessica was handcuffed to the nightstand, (in all fairness, I have to state that the handcuffs were both Jessica’s idea and supplied by her,) Caren, who is feistier than she appears, was waiting, with her scowl in place, for us, in the bathroom. I told Jody to tie Kim up and then get under the bed.

Without even blinking, Jody grabbed the rope and proceeded to tie a slightly concerned-looking Kim to her chair. Halfway through the process, Jody turned to me and said, “Christie, you should get your camera out.”

Kim started getting really nervous, and I lost it and started laughing. “Jody, what do you think we’re doing? The reason we’re tying her up is to take pictures. We’re making a video for our workshop.”

Jody shrugged. “Hey. You guys are friends, you say tie her up, I tie her up. Real friends don’t ask questions.” She glanced at Kim and smiled. “I bury bodies, too.” That’s when I took the first picture. The look on Kim’s face was priceless.

And that is why I’m glad that I didn’t listen to my granddaddy. You see, all my friends are the type of characters who . . . well, enjoy a little bit of trouble.

While the real video won’t be debuted until the Romantic Times conference, Faye and I have done a teaser video that will give you an idea of the trouble we got into at the RWA conference. Go take a look and remember, it really is Faye’s fault.

So what about you guys? Do you have some friends who get you in trouble? Friends who would help you bury the bodies?

--Crime Scene Christie

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

I'd always heard that statement my entire life and wondered why it was so - until I became a writer. Then I realized that fiction had to make more sense than real life....had to be more believable. The characters had to have proper motivation for their actions, even the ones that were silly or stupid. That's why it's so hard to use real people as a basis for characters in a book.

Now, have I done it - sure. I've used people I've known as a loose basis for characters - some of their more interesting behavoirs, perhaps their professions. But it's never exactly the same and so far, I've never been able to do it with the hero/heroine. Strange, out-of-the-ordinary secondary characters seem to fit the bill much better. While critiquing my next release, UNLUCKY, one of my cp's remarked that I had the most fun characters and she simply didn't know how I came up with them. Then she went on to say that Father Thomas (whom I hope you'll all be reading about in Oct/Nov) was one of them. I just laughed and said "Oh, I used to play golf with Father Thomas." Of course, he wasn't called Father Thomas, and he wasn't Catholic (like in my book), but he was a lot like the character in question, and his outrageous behavoir stuck in my mind all these years and he became a secondary character in my books.

As writers, I believe we're always on the lookout for great secondary character - that person whose mind just works in a different direction than most but for reasons quite obviously logical to them. They are a gold mine. The trick is figuring out how to incorporate them into your story. Take this true story for a minute of a guy I ran into on a flight from Houston to Dallas. Mind you, this is a short hop - the in flight time is less than an hour.

I was sitting in that row of three seats that faces backwards, looking at another row of three seats. Five of us were already in place (I had the window seat) and the seat next to me was the only empty one. I was chatting with the girl across from me, who was also from Dallas, and was very nice and pleasant. The man next to her was reading and the one on the end was pretending to sleep. At the last minute, this guy runs down the aisle and plops into the seat next to me, frantically moving to get his seatbelt on. He's youngish, probably mid-thirties and fairly thin - a completely normal looking guy......until he opened his mouth.

After we took off, not-normal guy ordered a Jack and Coke and a beer (remember this is not even a one-hour flight). The attendant told him they didn't serve beer, so he chose two Jack and Coke. Instead of pulling out the tray like a normal human, he perched his mini-bar in his lap and proceeded to mix drinks. The other girl and I stared for a moment then looked at each other with that raised eyebrow expression. We went on to talk about traveling and motorcyles and I told her about my fairly recent crash where I totalled my crotch rocket (really fast street bike). I broke my foot, several toes, sprained my ankle and lost about 30% of the skin off my body from my chest down. It was not pretty.

Mini-bar jumps into the conversation telling about HIS motorcycle wreck where he sprained his ankle and ended up addicted to oxycoton (not sure of the spelling there - but it's that Rush Limbaugh fiasco drug). So I stare because my injuries were serious and I never got any oxycoton. Then he goes on to say how he had to check into a treatment facility by court order for thirty days to get off the drugs and how it was really putting a kink in his business of roofing houses (this guy is on top of houses - scary, right?) So me and the other girl try not to comment because this guy has just dumped a bunch of really uncomfortable personal business on a crowded airplane and we don't even want to go there. So we change the subject to flight delays. The girl had a flight cancelled earlier and had waited several hours for another available flight. Apparently, that wasn't a safe subject either.

Mini-bar perks up and says something like this "I'm such a bonehead. My flight was last night but I missed it because I had the wrong time. The people from the treatment facility have to take me to the plane, so I had to check back in overnight and get another flight out today."

'Ole girl and I just stared, and even though I knew I shouldn't ask, I couldn't help it. So I say "You just got out of a treatment facility and you're drinking? Aren't you supposed to avoid that sort of thing for a while?"

'Ole girl leaned in, the guy next to her lowered his paper and looked over it, the sleeping man opened one eye. I know it was a plane, but I swear you could have heard a pin drop.

Mini-bar just looks at me and says - serious as a heart attack - "but I don't have a problem with alcohol."

I just nodded and said. "Of course you don't."

As Larry the Cable guy would say "I don't care who you are, that's funny." Now, if you put a character in a book that behaved like mini-bar, you'd have to have a good reason for his belief system and his behavoir, but what do you want to bet that mini-bar just toodles along and never gives a second thought to the things he does. Heck, I'm not even certain a first thought was in there.

I haven't had an opportunity yet to use him in a book, but I can tell you that he's always stayed in the back of my mind - especially when I was looking for roof repairs. :)

- Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, August 26, 2007

He Goes to School; I Grow Up

As I mentioned, last week was the first week of school for my son. The high(low?)lights:

Kindergarten Assessment. After sitting on tiny plastic chairs for an hour and a half, the teacher finally called my son’s name, along with another little girl. Per typical my son, he eagerly jumped up, told me not to worry and that he would be right back. The little girl was not as eager to leave her parent’s side. She cried and pulled away from the teacher; every mother in the hall ooohed and awwwed and the other little kids nodded or gave sympathetic eyes. All except mine. He told her to grow up and said if she didn’t live in a castle, she shouldn’t act like a princess. He added a “Right, Mommy?” for good measure.

Chivalry is dead.

And my son killed it.

Open House. The tiny plastic chairs are even tinier in the kindergarten classroom. The room smelled antiseptically clean from the antibac hand sanitizers stationed around the room coupled with the faint bouquet of dry erase marker. There are no chalkboards. Not one. It was crowded with parents and stepparents – 38 of us to our 15 children. We were introduced to the philosophies and ideals of his new teacher and the elementary school in general, followed by question and answer, followed by a trip to the school cafeteria for him to be fingerprinted. That is how we and he will pay for lunches. We can deposit as much as we want in his meal account and when he chooses to eat at school, they’ll scan his thumb and…voila! Chalkboards have been replaced by computers, most of the kids have three or four parents, some have one, only a few have two, and buying hot lunches is something straight out of Mission: Impossible.

The First Day. Remember last week's post? Yeah? I cried. A lot. I tried to hold back the tears. I really did. I didn’t want him to get freaked out and think there was something to fear. But watching him hang up his backpack (five years old! with a backpack!) then scurry to his seat with absolutely no assistance from me? Well, it all kind of hit me at once: he’s a big kid.

“Why are you crying, Mommy?”

“I’m not,” I lied.

“Then why are your eyes shiny? Those are tears.”

I didn’t know how to answer.

“You’re crying because I’m all big?”

I nodded.

Then in a bizarre role reversal he grabbed my face, kissed my cheeks, hugged me and patted me on the back. “It’s okay, Mommy. I’m still your little boy. And even when I grow up it means I can take care of you then. So you should be happy, okay? Feel better?”

Sigh…I did feel better.

Chivalry is not dead.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

And the winner is…

As promised, we are giving away a prize pack of our books every week for five weeks to one lucky blog commenter. It includes copies of Remember the Alimony, ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy, and advanced reader copies of Calamity Jayne Heads West, Unlucky and Undercover In High Heels! Plus a signed cover flat and teaser for the upcoming novel Divorced, Desperate and Delicious! So, without further ado, the winner of our first prize pack is… Meljprincess! Meljprincess, email me privately with your contact info and we’ll get your prize off to you ASAP. (P.S. Still love the guy that brought you cat food for a snack. Oy vey!)

gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com

Remember the more times you comment, the more times you’re entered to win, so keep the comments coming. Four more prize packs to win!

~Trigger Happy & the Killer Fiction Gang

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Date

Okay, as promised, here is the recap of my date with Lawyer Boy. I was scheduled to meet him for coffee on Sunday afternoon. Saturday, I went with some friends to a botanical garden. Very cool place, lots of flowers, trees, and other growy things. Had a great time, smelled tons of flowers. Sunday morning I wake up, roll out of bed, slip into my fuzzy leopard print slippers and shuffle to the kitchen for coffee. I pass a mirror in the hallway. I do a double take. Then scream. My entire face has swollen to almost twice its size! Apparently I’m highly allergic to one of the lovely flowers I sniffed yesterday. I look like a cartoon bee sting victim – my eyes are swollen shut, my nose looks like Marcia Brady’s after being hit by a football, and my lips, well, okay, my lips look like Angelina Jolie’s, which isn’t altogether a bad thing. But put all together and I look like Quasimoto. On a bad day. I forget the coffee, instead running upstairs for the medicine cabinet and downing a couple of antihistamine pills. I dump allergy drop sin my eyes, grab an ice pack and lay down, trying not to cry, because I know this will only make the swelling worse, as I weigh my options. Option #1: I can call Lawyer Boy and cancel, hoping he doesn’t think I’m blowing him off, and spend the afternoon in the emergency room with all the other people unlucky enough to get sick on a Sunday. Option #2: Throw on some distractingly high heels and thick eye make-up and go on the date anyway.

I get up and look in the mirror. The swelling is going down. Slightly. It’s not likely to get any worse and there’s no constriction to my airways. Medically speaking, I’m probably okay, just hideously disfigured while the allergen works it’s way out of my system. Okay, I can do this. I’m going on the date. Allergic reactions are a great ice-breaker, right?

Fast forward three hours (and many antihistamine pills) later. I arrive at the coffee shop early, apply another layer of mascara and find a dark-ish table to sit at while I wait for him to show up. He does. And he’s such a nice guy he doesn’t even mention my still slightly swollen face. Amazingly, he’s clean, well kept, intelligent. Very cute eyes – dark brown, lots of lashes. But, my attention is immediately riveted to his hair. And I’m not talking about the hair on his head. I’m talking body hair. Lots of it. Thick, black arm hair, leg hair, and (the factor that puts my squick radar on high alert) back hair peeking out the collar of his shirt. And I can’t help staring. I have to force myself to concentrate on what he’s saying because the hair is so distracting. As much as he seems like a nice guy, all I can think about is how he probably has to blow-dry his entire body every morning when he gets out of the shower.

The irony is not lost on me that I’ve spent the entire day worrying about looking like Stay Puff woman, only to be unable to get past his looks. But, there you have it. As much as I want to (and, trust me, I want to - he’s an intelligent successful attorney for crying out loud, how much more of a catch could he be?) I just can’t get past the hair. Generally, I don’t think of myself as a terribly shallow person, but after spending an entire day focused first on my looks, then on his, I’m starting to wonder. Please tell me I’m not the only one who would walk away from Lawyer Boy. One a scale of one to ten, when it comes to the opposite sex, how important are looks to you? Sadly, I'm ashamed to say it, but I think I'm hitting a nine.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Corn Dogs, Critters & Clowns, oh my!!!

Last week was the Iowa State Fair. As in the 'our state fair is a great state fair' fair. We win the fair competition, hands down. Nobody does it better. I love the fair. So much so that I set my second Tressa Jayne Turner mystery, Calamity Jayne Rides Again, at the state fair.

I have a long term relationship with fairs. As a child I used to spend time (and my meager allowance) at the fair watching the horse shows, eating taffy and caramel apples and funnel cakes, and getting sick on rides like the octopus and the tea cups and the tilt-a-whirl--or the tilt-a-hurl as it was known once I vacated the ride. I can handle the roller coasters, but put me in a tight, fast spinning object and I'm guaranteed to do the 'ralph' routine. But did that stop me? What do you think?

I was also a big fan of the midway games. I don't think I ever won anything other than a goldfish--which was floating on the top of the water and already stinky by the time I got home--and a lame plastic booby prize despite the amount of moolah I invested. When my cousin won the great big purple snake I had lusted after for years I was devastated. (Picture me fantasizing about wrapping said snake around her neck and tightening.) I take my carney games very seriously.

My attachment to the fair carried on into adulthood. My very first year as a state trooper I was assigned fair duty for the two week run of the fair. Never a fan of clowns it was at the state fair as a 'green' brown shirt that I had a run-in with a dunk tank clown with a death wish that was inspiration for a memorable moment in my book.

As a rookie trooper you are assigned a field training officer for the first several months. My FTO always worked the fair so my second month on the patrol found me patroling the fairgrounds in golf carts and on foot. It was during one of the foot patrols on the midway that the infamous clown caper took place. I was walking with my partner down through the various games when we walked by The Great Bobo. Sitting behind the traditional chain-link enclosure in his garish makeup, propped on the seat above a tank of water, the caustic clown hurled insults at fair goers as they walked by courtesy of microphone and speakers that broadcast his hurtful comments in surround sound.

I shook my head as he inquired of one stout fair goer if he was going to enter the biggest boar contest that year, dismissing the bozo as I strolled on by, yet thankful that I wasn't fodder for his Bobo barbs. After all, I was a peace officer. A state trooper. I was in uniform. I was protecting and serving the public. I was off limits to the verbal abuse. Or so I thought. Rookie.

"Hey, lady trooper! You look like someone trooped over your face!" Blared out over the loudspeakers on either side of the clown cage. "Hey lady trooper! You got your bullet in your pocket?"

I stopped and stared at the made up maniac. He couldn't be talking to me.

"Is he talking to me?" I asked my FTO who nodded. "Is he nuts?" I asked. He shrugged.

He must be. He had to be. Because the insults continued. I won't recite them all here. It's too painful. But with each insult I got madder and madder.

Didn't he realize I was packing a 357 Magnum (with six rounds and two speed loaders on my gunbelt) and knew how to use it? Didn't he see the gold badge on my shirt? The handcuffs on my belt? The mace? I pulled my sunglasses off my face and gave him my best, 'back off, bozo' stare. He didn't miss a beat. And the crowd was loving it.

I took several 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore' steps towards The Great Bobo when out of the corner of my eye I saw a rather large group of brown shirted troopers assembled. And they were all laughing their asses off and pointing at me.

"Gotcha!" My training officer announced. "Call it your state fair initiation."

You know, I really think he saved a clown's life in that moment. I wish I could say the same about Trooper 88 here saving face. Still I must confess I rather enjoyed conspiring to spring the same clown caper on the newest state fair 'virgin' the following summer.

This year's fair was tame in comparison but it wasn't without its memorable moments. There was Big Red, the Big Boar, weighing in at 1203 pounds and Lazer, the Big Bull, hitting the scales at a whopping 3300 pounds. And the butter sculpture of Harry Potter (that's Harry on the right at the top of the page) was really cool--no pun intended.

And there was the food. Can't forget that. Tressa would never forgive me. From beef sundaes to gargantuan turkey legs, deep fried Oreos and Snicker bars, and meatballs on a stick to the traditional cotton candy, caramel apples, and lemonade. Fair fare is worth the extra time on the treadmill once you get home.

So, do any of you have clown encounters to share? Embarrassing moments to confess? Fair stories to impart? I've got a million of 'em. Uh, did I mention I competed in demolition derbies???

That's so another story...!

'Til next time,

~Kathy a/k/a 'Bullet Hole' Bacus~

I Am Kaiser Sohze.

So, I'm watching The Usual Suspects as I sort and label the kids' school supplies. Damn, it's a good movie. Jana wrote earlier about writing humor - and I've got to agree with her. I think it's too hard to explain or do a workshop on because I can't figure out what makes me funny - it's just how I write.

But plotting a really tight mystery is one workshop I'd love to attend. I admire that gift above all others. I've had a lot of people tell me they were surprised by who the bad guy was in my book (no spoilers here - I swear) and I marvel at the fact I was able to keep them guessing because I'm still not sure how I did it (or if I did it).

I love to read a book where I have no idea what's going on until the end - or where there's a twist so twisted your head hurts for days. I'm thinking Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; a movie like The Usual Suspects or The Village or Memento; the old tv series Mission Impossible, stuff like that. I love getting blown away - especially if it rends me speechless for hours after. (My family likes that too. Let's just say I can be a bit of an excessive chatter.)

With my second book - I felt a lot of pressure to keep the mystery up to snuff. It doesn't get any easier as you go - in fact, I think it gets harder. What I wouldn't give to be an awesome plotter like Christie or M. Night Shamalyan (sp?). Unfortunately, on my part - it takes a lot of work and I'm learning a little more with each book.

So, I watch movies, read books, etc. trying to learn more and I write, trying to get better. Eventually someone will come up with some magic software that will do this for you, but for now - it's all about putting in the work.

And until then, I'd better get back to the movie so I can do some more research.

Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why This Writer Has Wood Floors: Just another Day at the Craig House

If you did a quick tour of my home, you might notice the absence of carpet. No, there’s not one bit of fiber-weaved flooring in my suburban Houston, Texas home. I don’t even own an indoor rug.

Other than the Italian tile in my kitchen, baths, and entryway, all you’ll find is wood—beautiful, 5-inch wide, 100% hard yellow pine. Each flank of wood was lovingly, if not slightly begrudgingly, put into place by my husband.

The golden hues of wood and the natural imperfections blend harmoniously and add appeal to my mix of not-so-fine antiques and contemporary furniture. The overall style is what I call demure eclectic. In case you’re wondering, “demure eclectic” is one of the latest, the hottest trends in design. I know this because when I’m not writing about murder and mayhem, I specialize in writing interior design articles and naming the latest trends. (Not that I know anything about interior design, mind you, but the magazine needed someone and hey, I know how to write fiction, so...) Anyway, this might automatically lead you to assume that the ambiance factor is why I have wood floors.

Well, you know what that say about assuming.

Nope. That’s not why wood floors grace my home.

Some people who have noted the absence of carpet, asked if one of the Craigs suffered from allergies. Other than my being seriously allergic to exercise, in which it leads to me breaking out … in a sweat . . . the Craigs are allergy-free.

The reason I have wood floors happened several years back. It involves a dog, Bosco, a Boston terrier whom we also dubbed the dog from hell. The story of Bosco is a blog unto itself, but I’ll save that for later. My point is that he was a very expressive canine. To express himself, he’d leave little “surprises” in the house when things didn’t go his way. (And, yes, I do mean those kind of “surprises.”)

At this time, my son was ten, and it never failed that he always found those surprises and helped distribute them throughout the house. Now, I know, you are probably thinking that this is why I have wood floors. However, I said it involved Bosco, but by no means, is he the reason.

On this particular day, I had been scheduled to do an author’s talk at a library about 30 miles from my home. My original plan had been to wing it. Seriously, just how many people would show up to hear little ol’ me?

Remember what I said about assuming?

Well, the morning of the talk, I’d gotten a call from a friend who said she’d heard about the appearance on the radio. An hour later, another friend called to say she’d heard the announcement on the local television. I panicked. I needed handouts, a speech, and I needed it fast.

My husband arrived home, a little late by the way, to take me to the all-important meeting. As we started out the door, my son screamed he’d forgotten his electronic game and could not, would not, leave without it. I mean, he was going to be in a library, where thousands of books lined the shelves, what else could he do there, other than play games?

He ran upstairs, next to the last room down the hall, grabs his Gameboy, ran back down the hall, down the stairs, and into the entryway. You guessed it. Unbeknownst to my son, he’d found Bosco’s opinion about us leaving . . . and tracked it from the upstairs to the downstairs.

Hubby, seeing my near panic, jumped in to save the day. He grabbed a different pair of shoes for my son, promised to help me clean when we got back, and ushered us all out the door. Before getting in the car, hubby told my son to remove the shoes and toss them in the trunk. Do I need to mention that the trunk is where I’d put my handouts?

Now, the talk went fine, without the handouts. When we arrived home, I went straight for the supplies. My hubby, still on my good side at the time, told me, “You do the stairs and entryway, I’ll do the hall.” Seemed like a fair deal, and I remember thinking . . . this is why I love that man.

However, while I was working on the steps, my husband appeared at the top, gazing down at me. “I don’t think this is salvageable,” he said.

I looked up and sent him the look wives have been sending husbands since Eve realized she’d been conned by Adam to eat the apple. (The whole snake reference is a symbol. Ask Freud.)

“Baby, I explained. “It’s called spot removal. The supplies are under the sink.”

Like a good husband, he came down the stairs to get his supplies. After I finished my chores, I went for the wine and sat in the dark trying to de-stress. Thirty minutes later, mellowed by the Merlot, I started upstairs. I crossed the clean entryway, made my way up the clean stairs, but when I turned into the hall I stopped dead in my tracks.

A little in shock, I made my way down the hall to stand in the doorway of the master suite.

Hubby and the dog from hell were stretched out on the bed. Hubby held a newspaper in his hands. Reading the obituaries I’m sure, due to his thinking he’d be appearing there soon. Slowly, he lowered the paper, looked me right in the eyes, and in a voice that showed little fear considering the situation, said. “I did what you asked.”

And he had. But he hadn’t used the pet stain remover or a scrub brush. He’d used an exacto knife. Yep. Every one of my son’s foot prints had been precisely cut out and removed from the carpet. Spot removal, Craig style.

And that, my dear readers, is the reason why this writer has wood floors . . . put in lovingly, if not slightly begrudgingly, by my husband.

Okay…that’s my wood floor/husband story. Do any of you have funny husband stories? Or funny pet stories? Or fun. . . Hey, do you hear that? I think it’s sirens. I kind of ran into some trouble a while back involving rope, guns and agents, (my next blog) and I might be on the run for a while, but please post your comments—don’t forget the contest we’re running here at Killer Fiction—and I’ll be checking in when the sirens have stopped.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Know Funny

After I sold my first book and people found out it was humorous, I got a lot of "you should do a workshop on writing humor." Okay, I replied, and you'll be very happy about it because it will last about two minutes then we'll all go for lunch and beer. I'd get this strange look and the inevitable "why." Because here's the workshop, I would reply: "Are you funny? No........then you can't write humor."

Workshop over.

Humor isn't something you can create in your mind like suspense or love or terror. It's organic and has to spring out of the story and the characters or it simply sounds forced and isn't funny. I tend to have this cynical view of the world and a sarcastic way of putting things that other people find funny. That's the way I write. It's improv, really. When I'm writing dialogue, I am playing every character - saying what I would say if I were them and there were no limitations like real life. But the only reason I can do this in writing is because I do it in real life and I have always been that way.

I remember a story my mom told me about a time when I was in elementary school and I'd brought home a report card with my usual straight A's. My mom fused over it, of course, and when my dad got home from work, I showed it to him. He smiled and puffed his chest a bit and said "I think Jana gets her brains from me." To which I immediately replied, "Probably so, mom still has hers." See......already a smart alec and not even in middle school yet.

Let's face it, there are two types of people in this world:

1. The kind that walks away from a situation and slaps themselves on the head a minute later because they just thought of something brilliant they should have said.

2. (Me) The kind that walks away from a situation and slaps themselves on the head because they probably shouldn't have said that.

The hardest thing about writing humor is that there's no where to go get it if you're out. There's no movie you can watch, wine you can drink or music you can put on to get you in the "funny" mode. That's where humor writers have to make an incredible leap of faith. We have to believe that every time we sit down at the computer, that something funny with come out of our minds, even if we have no prior knowledge of a single humorous thing before writing. And the really strange part is - it works.

Back a few years ago, I used to get people who would ask "I need a funny line here - give me a funny line." Uh, no?????? I think now everyone has figured out (by me explaining it a thousand times) that it just doesn't work that way. Or worst case scenario, they think I'm a real bitch and am sitting on all the good lines, saving them for myself. It's not standup, folks. I promise, I don't have a Jerry Seinfield list of one-liners in my wallet just waiting for my next book.

The second hardest thing about humor is that it's subjective. Let's face it, we've all met people with the personality of a rock and other people with a chip on their shoulder the size of the rock. They don't think anything is funny and they never will. I'm a software instructor, and I always go into a class thinking I will try to entertain them and have some fun while we learn. Sometimes, I have a good group and I can. Sometimes, I'm convinced Chris Rock couldn't get a smile out of them and I simply give up and teach dry technology for days on end.

I'm also a big fan of funny T-shirts, mostly because they offend those chip on the shoulder people. I have two current favorites. The first reads "I'll try to be nicer if you try to be smarter." God, I'd pay money to wear that one to some of my classes! The next one reads "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite." You don't even want to see the glares I get on that one. Of course, I usually wear it to I-Hop on Sunday morning, just to get the full effect, but that's just how I am. Mind you, I was raised and am still Southern Baptist, so this is not an anti-religious thing at all. I just saw it and thought it was darned funny.

So my ultimate point of all this jabbering is to say that as writers you always hear one of the cardinal rules "write what you know." Now this doesn't mean I have to write about accountants or software trainers, although I certainly know those things. I know beer and brownies, too, but that in itself wouldn't carry an entire book - maybe an anthology......hmmmmmm. But I digress. Writing what you know means writing what's a part of you. Your emotions - funny, sad, happy, sexual, frightened........the list goes on and on.

Humor writers write funny because we don't have any other choice. It's what we know.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I spend a lot of time crying.

Last week my son, Ethan, was away for an end of summer “boys only” week long bash. Normally I could handle it alright but this year is a different. This year he is five years old and this week he will start school. Without him here last week, I had 194 tear filled hours (give or take one) to flip through the pages of his life, pictures of him and by him: a documentary of a boy. My boy.

I owe my writing to Ethan and apples. You see, few years ago I was trapped in a miserable job working sixty hours a week. I didn’t have enough time with him and the little time I had I was too tired to enjoy. Late one night I was watching him play in the middle of the room. He was reading simple words and adding: “Two plus two is four. Four apples. Two plus three is five. Five apples. Mommy! I count apples.”

Apples? He can count apples? Foggy and sleepy and confused I thought “When did he learn to do that?” I was sleepless that night thinking of all the things I was missing out on in his life, trying to recount the last time I had giggled for no reason, hating myself for turning into a corporate drone. He was only three at the time but since his birth I tried to impress on him the importance of finding his passion and pursuing it.

But what about me? Writing is my passion but for practical reasons I never seriously thought to pursue it. Utilities, medical, 401Ks, 529s, shoes…argh! I had myself convinced all those things meant working ten hours a day even if I was miserable. Then I thought of the gleam in his big, brown eyes when he announced he could count apples. I wanted him live every day looking at the world with that glimmer in his eyes. If I wanted Ethan to live that life, I would have to lead by example. When the sun came up the next day (I hadn’t slept so “waking up” isn’t exactly accurate) I made changes the smart way: immediately and without thought. I quit my job and took a significant pay cut to work in a field more creatively challenging. With my extra time, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

And cried. A lot.

I cried sad tears when I got my first paycheck – I hadn’t thought the pay cut would be that drastic. I cried tired tears through my first NaNoWriMo. I cried a few celebratory tears when I finished my first manuscript and many many more a few months later when I found out my manuscript had sold. I cried happy tears when my book hit the shelves of a bookstore – a real bookstore, a big one with a cafe and couches and everything.

One day when we were scoping out my book, watching to see how many people would buy it (don’t pretend like you haven’t or wouldn’t do the same thing). Ethan announced to a stranger who selected it “My mommy wrote that!” The pride in his voice could not go unnoticed.

So what did I do? I was happy, pursuing my passion and my son was proud of me. So I didn’t cry, I smiled.

How do you like them apples?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Single in The City

As I may have mentioned, I’m a single gal. Which means I date a fair amount. Not obsessively, but when I start talking to my critique partners about how hot my latest fictional hero is, I know it’s time to get out of the house. And, as anyone who has dated lately knows, there are a lot of frogs out there. But, being the romance writer that I am, I still believe that if I kiss the right one, he’ll magically turn into my prince charming and sweep me off to his enchanted castle to live happily ever after.

Which brings me to this weekend’s new guy. He’s an attorney in The City, kayaks with humpback whales, and so far, seems rather normal. I’m afraid. It’s the normal seeming ones that always have that deal-breaker skeleton lurking in the closet. For example, my last blind date (Oh, did I mention that this weekend is also a blind date? Pray for me.) seemed normal enough on the phone. Great guy, steady job, raising a couple of adorable kids all on his own . (Tell me that doesn’t melt your heart!) Fast forward to the actual date. He shows up… and he’s hot. And I mean HAWT! I think his muscles even had muscles. Everything was peachy keen (i.e. Gemma is picking out china patterns) when Muscle Man lets slip one little fact that he’d failed to mention on the phone. He’s still married. (Picture Gemma politely excusing herself for the lady’s room, then slipping out the back door and making a mental note to check all men for tan lines on the left ring finger from now on.)

And then there’s the guy I dated before that, the Bicycle Thief. Aptly named because on our second date he actually stole someone’s bicycle. Seriously. Just took it. (Ever been torn between giving your date a kiss goodnight and calling the cops?) Sadly, I even paused for a moment to think about whether I really cared if my boyfriend was a felon or not. What can I say? He was a great kisser for a thief.

Which is why I approach this weekend’s tryst with Lawyer Boy with a bit of trepidation. So far he sounds nice, educated, and, from the one teeny tiny slightly fuzzy picture I’ve seen, looks like he has a killer smile. So, my inner romantic is selectively forgetting the likes of Muscle Man (a.k.a Married and Dating) and the Bicycle Thief and crossing her fingers that this frog may have potential. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

In the meantime, anyone out there care to share some of their more memorable toad encounters?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taking Care of Business by Taking Care of YOU!

This won’t be a particularly fun afternoon. Today is my yearly mammogram. And having your boobs flattened to flap-jack proportions by means of a vice-like machine is hardly my idea of a good time--even if the technician does turn out to look like Fabio--which I hope to God is not the case. After four kids the ‘girls’ aren’t what they used to be.

I said ‘yearly’ mammogram. But I misspoke. Somehow the time between my examinations grew to eighteen months. I ponder how the lapse could have occurred as if this circumstance was the result of some targeted conspiracy or a baffling puzzle rather than the result of business as usual--a pattern of conduct I suspect I share with many other women. Come on. Fess up. How many of you have gone too long between physicals, not visited a physician when you should have, gone without medication or skipped doses to make it last longer, or passed on the aerobic class because the kids had karate or dance or tennis…? How many of you have shrugged off aches and pains or got up off your sick bed when you had the flu to take care of children and family? Or went to work? Or both?

I started to think of those all too frequent occasions--whether from lack of time or lack of money--I put my needs on the back burner (okay, so I took them off the stove altogether) for what I perceived as the ‘greater good’. Mothers are notoriously guilty of this--‘guilt’ being the operative word here. However, women in general seem to struggle with giving themselves permission to take proper care of themselves--whether from some super mom notion, resource issues, or time considerations. We put everyone else’s needs first. It’s how we’re wired. How we’re expected to behave. We don’t know any different.

How does this relate to writing? More than you may think. Writing is a business. As in any business venture, its success--or failure--is based on the dynamic, energetic, creative force that fuels that business. In the business of writing that means you and me. We’re the CEO of the company. We’re the researcher, the marketing director, the accountant, and the final product inspector. We need to bring the best, brightest, most creative ‘employee’ to the company we can. Just as we need to bring the best and brightest mom to our family. Or teacher to our school. Or doctor to our patients.

Well, today--six months late for an appointment that could mean life or death--I’ve finally realized that the greatest gift I can give my loved ones, my readers, my employer is a healthy, happy me! Okay, so it’s taken a while for me to come to this point. I’m a living, breathing example of the adage, ‘you’re never too old to learn.’

And this all begins with giving ourselves permission to take as good a care of ourselves as we do others in our lives. Writers spend a heck of a lot of time with their behinds in chairs. Many of us have regular jobs and families to care for. How do you make time for you? Do you make time for you? What kind of exercise/yoga/meditation regime works for you? How do you keep all the balls in the air and still manage to find time to take care of your needs and nurture the writer inside?

In closing I’m posting a list of symptoms of a heart attack in women. The symptoms differ from those of men and often women have very few early warning signs before the onset of a heart attack or cardiac episode. Knowledge is power!

· Chest pain-may also include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms.
· Breathlessness and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up.
· Clammy sweating.
· Dizziness--unexplained lightheadedness, possible blackouts.
· Anxiety--unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom.
· Edema--fluid retention and swelling usually of the ankles or lower legs.
· Fluttering--rapid heartbeats, palpitations.
· Nausea--gastric upset.
· Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like chest pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder.
‘Til next time,

~Bullet Hole Bacus who plans to visit the state fair and write a completely nonsensical blog entry about the biggest boar next week~

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy #@%@$!! Birthday!

Okay, I realize that sounds harsh. I can laugh about it now. And I apologize for taking so long to post. Today is, in fact, my birthday (I'm seventy-two - or at least it feels like that) and I've spent the last two days fighting a losing battle with my old and new routers. I love/hate technology. I wouldn't want to live without it - which means I can't live without it - which means I want to kill something or someone if I have to live without it - which is what I've had to do (live without it that is - I didn't actually lay a deadly ambush for the Geek Squad) for the past 48 hours.

(Insert deep, cleansing breath here) Actually - it wasn't such a bad birthday. I started out registering the kids for school in an unairconditioned school gym. It was hot. Africa hot. Then we ran all over town looking for everything on a 2nd and 4th graders' lists. Why can't you just go to one place for this? Why do they need several thousand reams of wide ruled, 3-ring binder paper but don't need a 3-ring binder? And WHO came up with the brilliant idea of giving 9-year-olds Sharpies? I'd pretty much decided long ago that Sharpies required post-graduate work in order to use one in my house.

Anyway - I did manage to buy myself a really cool lemon quartz (have you ever heard of that?) ring, order a tungsten ring with little skulls engraved on them (did you know you can't scratch or even size tungsten?) and found an uber-cool Cole Haan bag. My husband will probably make sure he never leaves town again on my birthday.

At last the internet is working, the kids are in bed, I have a Grey Goose & tonic, and am settling down to do some work on my book #2 edits. Ahhhh. Bliss.

May you have many wonderful birthdays to come!
Leslie Langtry

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm an Artist

When I sat down to write this blog, not sure how to introduce myself, I was startled. My cat, in a save-yourself run, flew out of my study. His fear echoed in his howl. I pushed my glasses back on my nose, hoping to identify what had set the feline into panic. Then, doing the sign of the cross over my heart, I prayed that whatever it was, wouldn’t send me running in the feline’s wake.

Now, I don’t know why I do the cross gesture, I’m not Catholic, but it’s always impressed me, and I figured I could be convinced to convert if the situation called for it.

Anyway, with my glasses firmly in place, my feet no longer resting on the floor, and Catholicism always an option, I saw . . . “it.” I didn’t panic. Calmly, I stood up, not completely happy, and went for the broom. Broom firmly in hand, I did what I had to do.

I start sweeping.

It was the rule. My own rule.

You see, the object of my cat’s horror wasn’t a rat, a snake, or one of Texas’ famous flying cockroaches, it was a dust bunny. Something even this Southern Baptist could handle.

And the rule? It’s pretty simple. I will only allow housework to pull me away from my writing when the dust bunnies grow large enough to scare my cats.

You’re probably questioning my sanity for making such a rule. But in my defense, I seriously didn’t know dust bunnies could ever grow that big, or I’d have never made it. True, there was a time when I wouldn’t have been so forthcoming about my lack of Martha Stewart DNA, but that was before I sold my first book.

Right after my novel’s release, my sister-in-law, with a friend in tow, dropped by my house—unannounced—for a meet-a-real-author event. It was August, in Houston, during a heat wave, but no way were they coming inside. I’m talking dirty laundry on the floor, including underwear, some half-folded clean laundry on the sofa, last night’s dinner dishes in the sink, and unbeknownst to me—until I went to the door—a strategically placed hair ball right in the middle of the entryway. Outside entertaining was fine. Besides, glistening is supposed to be good for Southern skin, right?

Only after the friend neared a heat stoke, did I crater and allow them inside. I did the polite Southern thing, I fixed them tea, and while blushing appropriately I profusely apologized for my dirty house and my cat’s little surprise.

An hour after they’d left, I hadn’t stopped berating myself when my sister-in-law called to tell me that her friend had been ecstatic to see a real artist’s house. According to said “friend”, all real artists didn’t worry about insignificant things such as house cleaning.

All I can say is that I must not have been too mortified after all, because that’s when the dust-bunny/cat rule of housecleaning came into being. And since the hair-ball experience, I’ve hired someone to clean every two weeks. So that’s my introduction to you guys. I’m a writer, a cat lover, and not a house cleaner. I write humorous romantic suspense novels, some of them even have a few hair-balling experiences in them.

My first single title romance, Divorced, Desperate & Delicious, will be out in December through Dorchester. I hope you’ll enjoy visiting the website and getting to know all the dirty little secrets of six writers who love murder, love romance, and love to laugh. And while I have your attention, do you have any bad housekeeping stories? I’d love to know that I’m not alone.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hello and Welcome

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Killer Fiction Writer's Blog. Home to combinations of chicklit, romance, mystery and humor.

My name is Jana DeLeon (aka Deadly DeLeon) and my debut release from Dorchester was RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU. I write humorous, contemporary, romance-mystery hybrids all set in southern Louisiana, which is where I am originally from. If you want a good dose of the funny side of small-town mentality, as well as the dirty little secrets they keep, then pick up my book. My next release, UNLUCKY, is due out October 30th.

We have a great line-up of writers contributing to this blog and plans for guest-bloggers and contests. Please come visit us again and see what happens when six women plot murder all day.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kiss Me, Kill You...

I love the alliteration in Bullet Hole's post. Leslie Langtry (aka The Assassin) here and along with my fellow co-conspirators; Kathy, Gemma, Bethany, Jana & Christie - WELCOME! We're all very excited to have your attention! Please peruse the posts periodically! (I'm an alliteration junkie. I know...tres exciting.)

As for me - my career paths haven't been as wonderfully wacky as Gemma's or decidedly dangerous as Kathy's. I was a literary arts administrator (did you know there's actually a master's degree in that?) before I finally decided to pursue my age-old dream of selling a book for publication.

Like Bacus, I'm from a small town in Iowa originally and now live in the Quad Cities area. I write full-time; spend time with my husband, 2 kids and 4 pets; lead a Girl Scout troop where I'm creating future pyromaniacs (seriously, those girls love starting fires) and still manage to meet my friends for drinks now and then. I'm also certified internationally to teach Level One Archery, knit like a junkie mainlining expensive yarn, try to make it to the indoor pistol range once a week for some relaxing target shooting, own many fabulous shoes and handbags, and watch waaaaaaay too much tv.

And most importantly - I've read these women's books (they're all excellent) and am honored to be part of this group!

I hope you enjoy reading us!

Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Dangerous Divas Debut!

Following 'Trigger Happy' Halliday here with a big welcome to everyone stopping by to check us out here and a wave to my fellow Killer Fiction bloggers: Crime Scene Christie, Deadly DeLeon, Trigger Happy Halliday, The Assassin, and Bang Bang Bethany. I'm thrilled to be among such fabulous authors. I write the Calamity Jayne series of homegrown whodunnits from Dorchester Publishing. The fifth book in the series, CALAMITY JAYNE HEADS WEST, a southwestern scavenger hunt with more strings attached than a dreamcatcher, will be out October 3rd. Here at our Killer Fiction blog we hope you will find some information, insight and--okay--a little bit of insanity thrown in to keep things interesting.

A former Iowa State Patrol Trooper and Iowa Department of Justice investigator I fill my days currently working with middle school students, taking college classes, keeping track of triplet teenagers at home (I could so write a book--oh, wait! I did!) and having a blast creating each new 'calamity' for Tressa Jayne and the Grandville gang. I live in smalltown Iowa where the weather is a frequent topic of conversation and where the people are the salt of the earth. In my 'spare' time I attempt to reduce a to-be-read book stack that dwarfs Shaquille O'Neal, (and somehow manage to replenish it as quickly as I deplete it--sigh) spend time with the younguns, enjoy movies and keep an eye on current events. I am such a news junkie.

I recently took a writing detour on the dark side and penned my first paranormal psychological thriller that is a serious departure from the hometown humorous fare I usually serve up and had a great time doing it. I'm also dipping my toe in the waters of Young Adult middle level fiction. More on all this later.

Make sure to enter Trigger Happy Halliday's lead-off Killer Fiction contest for a chance to win an advanced reader's copy of her fabulous upcoming release Undercover in High Heels by spreading the word about our terrific new website and blog!

'Til next time,

Be here--or else!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Welcome to the Killer Fiction blog!

We’re six romantic mystery writers who like our murders with a generous dose of laughter: Kathleen Bacus, Christie Craig, Jana DeLeon, Gemma Halliday (moi!), Leslie Langtry, and Bethany True. You can check out our brand new spiffy website at: to learn more about us. We’re really excited about this new blog and plan to offer lots of fun posts, guest bloggers, contests, and insights into the minds of women who spend their days planning the perfect murder.

A little about me: I’m Gemma Halliday and I write the High Heels Mysteries about L.A. shoe designer turned amateur sleuth, Maddie Springer and her lustfully hot LAPD Detective boyfriend, Jack Ramirez. My past books have included Spying In High Heels, Killer In High Heels, and my latest coming out at the end of this month, Undercover In High Heels. (See a theme here? Yeah, I’ve got kind of a thing for shoes.) I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I spend my non-writing hours watching way too much reality TV, reading way too many books poolside, buying way too many pairs of heels, and dating way too few hot California men. (Know any? Send 'em my way!)

As a celebration of our new blog, I’m ponying up the prize for our very first contest. So, without further ado… I’m giving away an advanced reader copy of my latest book Undercover In High Heels to one lucky winner! How do you enter? Easy, just blog about Killer Fiction. Tell people how cool we are, what kind of books we write, that you love the shade of pink on our website – say anything you want, just make sure that you mention a ) our website: and b) our blog: Then come back here and put the link to your post in a comment. The contest ends August 24th, so hop to it!

~Gemma “Trigger Happy” Halliday