Sunday, September 30, 2007

He Said, Hero said...


The quintessential differences between the men we love and the men about whom we love to write and read.

Why did you put the empty carton back in the fridge?

Hero said: To remind myself to buy more milk when I go grocery shopping. You’ve had a long week so I figured I’d take care of it this weekend.

He said: To remind you we need more milk.

Does this [insert comically unflattering article of clothing/shade of makeup/style of hair] make my [insert least favorite body part or feature] look [too big/too small/fat/slopey/droopy/dull/flat/frizzy/like that woman across the street/actress I hate/frenemy from the junior league]?

Hero said: Not at all. Even if it did, you are perfect in your imperfections and that is why I love you.

He said: Ummm...yeah. I mean...I mean...kinda.

I don’t know…should I have the filet or the lobster?

Hero said: I’ll order the filet, you order the lobster; we’ll have both.

He said: Is the salad an option?

30! 3.0. Ugh!

Hero said: Think of it this way -- you’re beyond all the gross insecurities and uncertainty that plagued your late teens and twenties. You’re at an age where you’re coming into yourself. Aware and finally ready to enjoy life.

He said: Yep, it’s all down hill from here.

How do I look?

Hero said: Great/beautiful/sexy/gorgeous/Wow. Just…wow!

He said: Fine.

*sniffle* *weep* *cry*

Hero said: Want a hug?

He said: That time of the month?

We need to talk.

Hero said: Of course. Let’s talk.

He said: [audible sigh] Again?

Wanna snuggle?

Hero said: Seriously? Love to.

He said: Seriously? Is it Sunday? Already?


Oh, and abs. Heroes have six packs, Honeys have kegs. More to love, right?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Author Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

We have a very special guest blogger today, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga! Her debut book, Midori by Moonlight, just came out and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve read it. It rocks. It’s about a young Japanese woman lost in translation in San Francisco as she finds herself and her American dream. Not only is Wendy an awesome author, but she is also such a sweetheart that she’s giving away a signed copy of her book Midori by Moonlight today! All you have to do to be entered to win is post a comment today. So, without further ado… here’s Wendy…

What's In a Name?
By Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

It happened again. I just got an agreement letter from my publisher that allows me to extend the deadline for turning in my second book from January1, 2008, to March 1, 2008 (Yay! Every bit of extra time helps!) and my name is spelled incorrectly in three places, including where I have to write my signature: Wendy Nelson Tokunga. Tokunga, with a crucial missing "a," and which sounds to me like the name of a small African nation, instead ofTOKUNAGA.

I know this is my fault; I was the one who wanted to change my name to myJapanese husband's when we got married, even though he warned me that it would bring nothing but misunderstandings, mispronunciations, and misspellings. "Nelson is so easy. Why would you want to change it?" he asked.

It made sense. But I always figured I'd change my name when I got married. It had nothing to do with being "one" with my husband or being a traditionalist as opposed to a feminist. I think women should do whatever they want as far as changing or not changing their names when they tie the knot. It should be their choice to keep their "maiden" name (that term really does sound so old fashioned, but "pre-marriage" name doesn't sound so great either), hyphenate, or change to their husband's. And there are also women who may use their maiden name for business purposes since they were already established in their career under that name, but use their husband's name in their personal life. Or not. Then there's the whole thing when couples have kids and if you have a different name from your husband's you may have to give an extra explanation: "I'm Jane Smith, Jennifer Henderson's mother."

But for me changing my name seemed glamorous, like show business, when a Norma Jean Mortenson could turn into a Marilyn Monroe. I also like the trick it plays on people to see a blonde, American Caucasian woman with a Japanese name. Since my marriage I have always gone by Wendy Tokunaga (and surprised many a job interviewer who expected to meet a Japanese-American). But my agent advised me to use Wendy Nelson Tokunaga for my debut novel, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT, so there wouldn't be any confusion about my ethnicity, especially since the book is about a Japanese woman who escapes the confines of Japan and comes to San Francisco to pursue her American dream. Still, people get confused anyway.

My husband was correct, though. Having a name that is hard to pronounce and doesn't go with your face is a double whammy. It always presents a problem with the checkers at Safeway who are trained to address their customers by name without fail via their "Club Card" in a policy of forced "neighborliness."

"Thank you, Mrs.- " Very long pause with face scrunched up. "Ah, ah,TAKANUGA? TOKUNGA?"

"Don't worry about it," I say, as someone who doesn't like to spend any more time than she has to at the grocery store.

"Sorry! But you sure don't look Samoan!"

Winner Number Five!

We have out last winner of a prize pack of Killer Fiction books today. I know you’re all on pins and needles (I am!), so, I won’t pull a Ryan Seacrest and drag this out. Here she is, our fifth winner… danetteb! Congrats Danette! Email me with your mailing address and I’ll get your prize to you ASAP!
gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com

And for anyone who didn’t win, don’t despair. Our own Crime Scene Christie is cooking up another great contest coming to you soon. So stay tuned!

~Trigger Happy Halliday and the Killer Fiction Gang

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Dating Diaries: Vol 2

Despite many false starts (And I mean MANY - The Bicycle Thief, Mr. Married and Dating, Harry a.k.a Hairy, and most recently BB Musician) I have for some insane reason made a date for this weekend. A blind date. Yeah, I know. Pray for me.

But, I have to admit, that I’m actually kind of excited about this one. On paper he sounds darn near perfect for me – 30’s, single dad, owns a nightclub downtown, and from the pictures I’ve seen has biceps the size of regulation basketballs. We’ve emailed a few times and I tried to play the patient gal, waiting for him to ask me out. Subtly hinting that I finished my latest book, ergo, I’ll be free this weekend. Casually mentioning that I have no plans on Saturday. Blatantly pointing out that after my stint in the deadline cave, I need a night out on the town. Finally, I gave up on patient. I’m so not the patient kind of girl. Instead, I took my imaginary cahones in my hands and asked him out myself. I suggested a movie, in my opinion the perfect blind date activity. If the in-person image measures up and I actually like him, there’s nothing sweeter than holding hands in a dark movie theater. And if it doesn’t, at least I get a good movie out of the deal and I’m saved having to make inane conversation for an hour over dinner. A little jadded, I know (see list of failed dates above), but it works. So, without beating around the bush, I came out and asked if he’d like to go see a movie with me this weekend. And, he said yes! (I love it when they do that.)

So, in preparation for my blind date, I decided I wanted to look my best. A little waxing here, a little nail polish there. Then I came to my hair. It’s naturally a goldy blonde color, but after a summer of sunshine and pool water, it’s started to turn a super platinum pale that’s bordering on Casper colored. Not great. So, I decided to try to darken it a shade back to my real color. Only the salon couldn’t get me in until next week. Too late. I needed fabulousness now. So, I bought a great coloring kit at the drugstore, figuring, how hard can it be, right? I brought it home, followed the directions, rinsed and dried my hair and looked in the mirror. Oh. My. God. For some odd reason the “Golden Natural Blonde” dye had turned my hair green. Green!
I freaked, shampooing my hair like a mad woman. I think I emptied an entire bottle of shampoo in two days before I realized a) it was not going to wash out and b) the weekend was fast approaching. So, back to the drugstore I go, pick up a “Very Light Natural Blonde” box and try to bleach out some of the green. Another 25 minutes with the ammonia smell on my head and I do the rinse, dry, look in the mirror thing again. Thank God, I was no longer a Martian. BUT, my usually curly hair was now a thin, limp, curtain of frizz. The bleaching had completely damaged my hair! More freaking, even a few tears this time. I frantically call the salon – nope, still no openings until next week. Their best advise, wear a hat. Lots of tears at this point. I frantically search the internet for damaged hair solutions. Immediately dismissing the mayonnaise head thing (ewwww!) I doused my hair in castor oil last night. It’s a little better today but still looking very, very sad. And not a curl in sight. So not the kind of hair that will win over a hot nightclub owner with basketball sized biceps. I’m envisioning me now going on his list of failed dates as Miss Frizz. Please tell me one of you has a miracle hair remedy? Help!


~Trigger Happy Halliday

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Circle the bandwagons--here we go again!



How are book release dates like stop signs for bicyclists?

Answer: Both are frequently ignored--albeit with differing results. A stop sign is disregarded to the detriment of the cyclist (think human hood ornament here) and a release date to the detriment of the author.

Here’s the deal. The ‘official’ release date for my fifth Calamity Jayne caper, Calamity Jayne Heads West, is October 2nd. You know. As in approximately a week from now. ‘Officially.’ Unofficially, however, the book has been available for purchase on-line for two weeks. While this appears to be pretty much business as usual it’s got me to wondering if this practice can negatively impact an author and, if so, in what ways? Hmm. Let’s think about that.

Correct me if I’m wrong (and, believe me, my children assure me this happens routinely) but don’t sales from that crucial week or two of a title’s release count heavily towards various bestseller lists? Therefore, if outlets make a title available well in advance of the release date, won’t those sales tend to reduce a title’s chance of making bestseller lists much the same way as a delay in ‘lay down’ of a title can impact those numbers? And with two or so chances to achieve a ‘bestseller’ status each year (unless your name is Nora, of course) you want the best odds going in.

And then there’s promotion to consider. I send an e:newsletter to readers to remind them of the release date of my upcoming title. It can be confusing when I tell them a title will go on sale on such and such date and it’s actually available two to three weeks prior to that. The same holds true for advertising. One carefully times an ad to coincide nicely with the book’s release. The ad tells when the book will be available. And what happens? The book beats the ad out, diminishing the effectiveness of said pricey ad. I gotta tell you. It makes me wonder if folks think I’ve put an overworked Tressa Jayne in charge of my P.R.

So, why are on-line purchases possible so far in advance of a book’s supposed release date? What can you do--or what do you do--to offset difficulties related to willy-nilly release dates? Pray you become the next J.K. Rowling and your books are kept under lock and key until the stroke of midnight when revelry and merry-making ensue as the boxes are opened and your books brought forth to the masses? Suck it up and just be thankful you have a book out and it’s available?

A friend just emailed to say she received her copy of Calamity Jayne Heads West from Amazon so I’ll close this week simply by letting you know Calamity Jayne Heads West is available NOW even though the official release date is October 2nd. (Either way, folks, it’s another ‘Calamity Classic.’)

And me?

I’m still waiting for my author copies…!

Have a great rest of the week and a super weekend. See you next Thursday .

‘Bullet Hole’ Bacus

Real Writers Don't Diet (When On a Deadline)

I've convinced myself of two things;

1) Excercise would undo all the inspiration that comes from my muses; Hershey, Hostess (I could kill for a Ding Dong right about now), Dove, Ben and of course - Jerry;

2) Taking a break from writing to, say, walk around the block, would interrupt my train of thought. Sure, I'd have great legs, but I'll never get back those ten minutes of complete artistic frustration now would I?

Therefore, I've determined it's in my best interest to avoid excercise and eat more chocolate (especially when frustrated - which happens a lot, actually). I'm going to remove the fascist shackles of diet and exercise and embrace my chocolate martinis one...by one...by one. I will join the dark (chocolate) side and sell my soul for 10,000 more words (and a gooey cinnamon roll).

I guess it's pretty obvious I'm on a deadline right now...huh?
Until my blood sugar returns to normal,.

Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Career Hazards: Writing is a Dangerous Business



I know…I know, I don’t run into burning buildings. I don’t try to decide if it’s the red or blue wire that needs to be snipped while the seconds are counting down before the building blows. But hey…over the years, I’ve learned that every career has its’ own hazards.

When I first decided to pen stories, I never dreamed that there would be risks to this career. I mean…come on, I sit in a chair all day for pete’s sake. How dangerous could that be? Oh, sure, I’d heard about carpel tunnel, and shoulder pain, and the oh-so-dreadful condition called asshideous—when certain body parts grow to hideous proportions.

Okay, I’ll admit, my wrists tingle some times, my shoulders hurt on occasion, and my backside is larger than I care to admit, (although, I’m working on getting it smaller.) Nevertheless, this isn’t the hazards I’m talking about.

I’m talking about researchits—the condition in which research leads a writer into embarrassing, relationship damning, and some times dangerous predicaments. Case in point: I have a writer friend who is writing about a character who is a glider. Now, Colleen did one glider flight several months ago and is about to go on another. No offense to Colleen, but is she an idiot or what? (“What” being that she’s brave.) There is no freaking way I’m going to be pulled up in the air like a kite in a flimsy fiberglass faux airplane with makeshift bird wings attached. Not even to give a scene in my WIP that feel of authenticity. And her response to my remark was… “But you’re strapped in and you’re in a seat.” My reply… “Oh, great, so when they come to scrape up what’s left of the fiberglass, the bird wings, and the seat, my body will obviously be underneath?” Uh huh, not me. (Okay, just rack this up to another one of my deep, dark secrets you’ve uncovered, I’m basically a coward.)

So my researchitis condition leans more to the embarrassing and relationship damning issues. Have you ever dialed poison control and asked exactly how much Liquid Drano it would take to kill a medium-size man? Well, I don’t recommend it, unless you would like to speak to the large-sized chief of police, who by the way had no sense of humor! (I’m killing him in my next book.) Have you ever lost a maid because they didn’t like your chosen reading material? 101 Ways to Kill Someone and Getting Away With Murder. I guess the fact that my son stepped on his tube of Halloween-appropriate fake blood and squirted it across the kitchen before he went to school that morning didn’t help. But come on … like I would have killed her! Heck, I loved her, she cleaned my house.

How about trying to explain to your husband the message left on your message machine from a local “Find Your Love Connection” manager that says, “Christie, I’m so excited that you want to know more about our dating services. Please call, and I’m sure I can answer all your questions. This is going to be so much fun.”

Duh, it was research and Ms. Love Connection knew I was a writer just wanting info for a book’s possible plotline. That was why it was going to be so much fun.

But I think my favorite research story happened a few years after the dating guru message came in. My husband, who admittedly is slow at catching on to the whole research process, got another message. This one from a degreed marriage counselor/relationship fixerupper. “Ms. Craig, I got your message and wanted you to know that I checked my schedule and I’m open the day you wanted me to come and talk about marital relationship dysfunctions. I generally charge a $200 fee per hour. However, from what you’ve told me, there seems to be a lot you’ll need covered, and I have a feeling this might take longer than an hour. ”

Of course, I had called to get the good doctor to come talk to my Romance Writers Group about relationship issues between men and women. But when I got home that night after an all-day critique group I had a very worried hubby. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was the whole marital dysfunction issue or the $200 dollar charge that spurred him on. Either way, they were nice roses.

Okay, so there you have it. The dangers of writing. What do you do to keep the wolves off the front porch? Do you face career hazards or at least have some funny situations arise at work? And working at home, motherhood, and housework counts. Come on . . . share.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, September 24, 2007

Terrorist in Denver

Have you all been waiting patiently since last week for my terrorist story???????

Well, I'm a little late posting this morning, but technically this is my last day of vacation so I'm tired and sunburned, so I get a break on the late start. So without further ado: How I Was Suspected of Being a Terrorist at the Denver Airport!

I told you last week that I'm a corporate trainer and travel a lot. In fact, I just finished logging over 100k flight miles with American Airlines for the past 14 months. I usually fly American because I'm based out of Dallas (that's their hub), so I get the most flights to the most places. And there's simply no use in spreading out your mileage points among airlines or you'll never, ever get anything free. And the ONLY perk to traveling this much is free trips.

So I tell you all of this because on my flight out of Denver, I couldn't get an American Airlines flight. I had to fly United. Now, don't get me wrong - I've flown United before and I have a membership number, etc, so it's not like they don't "know" me as a passenger. I am also a very light packer (curteosy of a VERY long baggage wait in Orlando - another story), and can do a five day training with a carry-on bag, just so I don't have to bother with checking anything. So I finished class early that day and headed to the airport, hoping to get on an earlier flight. There was one, and it had seats, so it was a possibility.

I walk up to the kiosk to get my boarding pass (because we do all flight arranging electronically) and I'm super-duper happy that I'm not checking a bag because it's spring break and there are at least 4 billion kids in line with skiis. Well, I put in my record locater and the kiosk doesn't find my record. So I pick up the phone and tell the attendant the problem. Then the following conversation ensues:

Me: "The kiosk can't find my record."

Her: "No, we found your record, but someone needs to check your id."

Me: "OK. So send someone over to check it."

Her: "I'm sorry, m'aam, but you're going to have to stand in line for that."

Me: "Are you kidding me? It's spring break here. Have you seen the lines?"

(additional arguing and griping but to no avail and another attendant comes to escort me to the line)

So I wait in the line for over an hour only to get to the counter and have the attendant tell me I'm in the wrong line. (more under breath cussing ensues) So I get escorted to yet ANOTHER line where I wait an additional 45 minutes and by that time all seats on the earlier flight are gone and I get to now wait 4 hours for my flight. The attendant barely even looks at my id before issuing the ticket, and I can't take it anymore, so the following conversation ensues: (mind you, you can't just kill or threaten the flight Nazis or you won't get to fly at all, so I'm breathing deep to control my outrage and blood pressure)

Me: "So what exactly is the problem? Why did I have to go through all this when I'm registered with United as a frequent flyer?"

Att: "You have the same birthdate as a terrorist and they're trying to catch him. It's a 39 year-old middle-eastern man."

Me: (staring in disbelief) "Well, I can see where the problem might come in. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, German women with Double D's are always confused for middle-eastern men."

(blank look from attendant)

Me: (leaning in over counter) "Do you really think the terrorist would have waited in line?"

(blank look from attendant shifting ever so slightly to "hey, maybe she's on to something)

Me: "Never mind."

I take my ticket and huff off where I get to wait 4 hours in the only damned terminal in the Denver airport without an internet connection. I officially hate United airlines.

Now let me tell you how I think that scenario should have played out - and I would have been perfectly okay with that:

I should have entered my record locater in the kiosk. A couple of seconds later, a hidden panel door should have flung open and 4 or 5 guys should have rushed out, thrown me to the ground and THEN id'd me. THAT'S catching a terrorist!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Five Books That Changed My Life (and What They Taught Me)


Raise your hand if you're kind of sick of all the lists of books that you "must read!" before you die. You know, the ones that begin with Joyce and end with Rand and have all matters of men in between. I’ve read most of them. And, yes, tightly written and profound and important and blah blah blah…

However.

When I sit down to think about the books that I’ve read no fewer than 50 times, the books that I will pass down to my child(ren), the books that I can recommend to every girl born in this country? Well, fewer make the cut.

…and they aren’t what you’d think.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Judith Viorst

The original is always the best, no? Perpetually disgruntled Alexander helped me understand at a very young age that a day that begins with bad hair is presage of a day filled with unfortunate events. These days when I wake up with most uncooperative hair, I hide under the blankets. Life lesson: Yes, some days just suck the life out of you. And hooray to Judy for not being afraid to let a five year old know that. But more importantly? Eventually those days end and, as if by necessary, there is a better one to follow.

However, when I look at my Discover card billing statement sometimes I think I should have read Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday a few more times.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Beverly Cleary

What little girl can’t identify with Ramona? Constantly in the shadow of the savvy of my big sister or upstaged by the adorableness of my little sister, I wholly identified with Ramona. And being 8 is wonderful. It is the first time in her life that a little girl feels…knowing. I could read novel length books now (the Ramona series being my favorite). I knew enough math to buy stuff at the grocery store by myself. It is the earliest age I can remember making my own decisions. Which doll I wanted, what clothes I thought were cool, what televisions shows I liked. There’s just an awareness and discovery that happens in the ‘tweens that is grossly underrated compared to one’s teens.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Judy Blume

I still revisit this book at least once a year. I’ve been 5 year old Alexander. I’ve been 8 year old Ramona. But to some extent I think I’m still 12 year old Margaret. Also raised in a religiously divided household, to this day there are questions that challenge my mores and when they do I can’t think of a more perfect way to address them than as did Margaret. Just ask.

Beyond that, as with most Blume books, we are given a realistic and charming picture of the coming of age for a young girl: buying the first bra, waiting and waiting and waiting and anticipating and waiting for your period, how…different you feel when you finally get it – and, an odd conundrum, how you don’t feel that different at all, and, of course, boys! Lovely, lovely, lovely boys.

Anything by William Faulkner.

Okay. So I cheated; this isn’t one book. I can’t name just one and I can’t say that just one is right for every person. I can only say that the man was a master storyteller. While he might have greater appeal to Southern readers and writers, I’d argue that in some way, shape or form all of us were raised in a Yoknapatawpha County; be it a multi floor tenant building in the heart of Harlem, a small town in the middle of amber waves, or a pristine Bel Air neighborhood surrounded by glitterati and gates. Faulkner peels back the blanket and closely examines the every socio-political stretch mark that rippled our nation as it grew. As I’ve made my way through is catalog (several times over now) I’ve come to realize that they aren’t just scars, they are beauty marks.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Jacobs

The harsh realities of living as a slave and the triumph of escaping. It is a tale I’ve heard told, certainly. But that one woman had the courage to write it down is amazing in and of itself. Every now and then when I’m hosting a Bethany Pity Party, I need read only a few pages to remind myself just how fortunate I am in all that I have. This narrative is a legacy for all women and if you don’t buy, beg or borrow any other book on my list, please enjoy this one.

Now it’s your turn: What books changed your life?


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Winners, winners everywhere

Last weekend I was in L.A., soaking up some of the southern Cali atmosphere before I start in on my next Heels adventure, and didn’t get a chance to post our weekly winner of a prize pack of Killer Fiction books. So, this week we get two winners! Without further ado… our first winner is… Tori Lennox! Congrats, lady!
Okay, rummaging in my hat for name number two… and the second winner is… Babe King! Woohoo, Babe!
Both of you can contact me with your mailing addresses and I’ll get your prizes to you ASAP.
gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com

There is one more week left to win our fantastic prize pack of book including Remember the Alimony, and ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy, plus advanced reader copies of Calamity Jayne Heads West, Unlucky, Undercover In High Heels, and Divorced, Desperate and Delicious! All you have to do to enter is post a comment to any of the posts on our blog. The more times you comment, the more times you’re entered. So, if you haven’t won yet, don’t despair, just keep posting! Good luck!

~Trigger Happy Halliday & and the Killer Fiction gang

Friday, September 21, 2007

Multiple Personalities

Like many authors, I chose to write under a pen name. In the publishing world, this has never presented a problem. In the dating world, however, it’s another story. I’ve found that no matter how hard I may try, there’s no way to keep my professional and personal lives separate. For instance, at a writing conference last year some of my authors pals and I went to a karaoke bar after hours. This adorable guy started chatting me up and (single gal that I am) I’m loving it. He asks my name and I gave him my real one. Of course I completely forget I’m still wearing my conference name badge that reads “Gemma Halliday”. He shakes my hand, looks down at my badge and gets a disgusted look on his face. Then says, “Wow, I can’t believe you just gave me a fake name, Gemma.” And walks away. Picture me staring forlornly after Mr. Hottie stuttering that I’d actually given him my real name, the badge was a fake!

Yeah, that sucked. But, nothing compares to the email I received last week. Through the wonders of MySpace (I love that site – totally addictive!) I started chatting with this totally cute Bad Boy Musician type. He’s the host of a local music TV station (think regional MTV) - cool guy, cool job (backstage perks!), and fun to talk to. So, we exchange a few emails, pretty standard getting-to-know-you stuff. Then the inevitable question comes up: What do you do for a living? So, I tell B.B. Musician I’m an author, that I write under a pen name, and then send him to my website to check out my books. I don’t hear back.

But, Gemma does. Through my website he sends an email to “Gemma” and tells her that there’s this chick he’s been emailing with on MySpace who is impersonating her. He even gives “Gemma” my MySpace ID so that she can report me and forwards her an email I sent him as proof that I’ve been stealing her identity. I open this email and ohmigod! I can’t believe it. This guy seriously has the cohones to go behind my back and warned me about me!?

Of course, I respond right away to tell him that, duh, it’s still me here, dunderbutt, and boy did you blow it with both of us. On the one hand, “Gemma” was kind of flattered that this guy thought she was such a big deal someone would steal her identity to get dates. On the other, “Real Me” was pretty dang miffed because, well, he thought I was lame enough to steal someone’s identity to get dates. Sigh. The sad thing is, I couldn’t even make this stuff up.

Anyone else ever had multiple personality issues? Mistaken identity? Betrayal by a B.B. Musician?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, September 20, 2007

From the reader's POV



Take a good look at the photo to the left. Uh, in case you haven't figured it out, that's me on the right--the one with a serious case of the frizzies. (Hey, it was summer in Iowa, whatdya expect?) I bet you more easily recognized the classy red-head sitting next to me. Yep. That's the incomparable Janet Evanovich, author of the spectacularly successful Stephanie Plum series. I--along with a gazillion other readers and fans--had the opportunity to hear Evanovich speak at an author event last summer.
You know how you get an idea in your head about what the author of a favorite book must be like? Well, in the case of Evanovich, I wasn't disappointed. She was exactly what I'd expect the person who penned the Plum books to be like: Witty. Snarky. A bit irreverent. And hilarious. I keep the photo of Janet and yours truly in a frame in my office and last week when reorganizing (okay, organizing) I picked up the framed photo and got to wondering about what my readers think the author of the Calamity Jayne series must be like. Scary, huh?
I have the best readers in the world. I know. Every author says that. We owe everything to the collective group of devoted readers who go out and buy our books each time they are released, who rave about them to friends and pass them on and recruit more readers. And this was never more clear to me than yesterday. The dismissal bell at school had just rung and, as usual, I turned on my cell phone. Generally this is the time I hear from one of my three children still at home inquiring a) if they can hang out with friends, b) what we're having for dinner, or c) was I planning to fix so and so for dinner because they ate it. Sure enough, my phone chirped but the number displayed an area code for northern and eastern portions of the state.
"This is Kathy," I said answering and I heard a breathless "Ohmigosh! I didn't think I'd actually get you!" from the female on the other end of the line. Turns out the call was from a reader in northern Iowa who had borrowed her niece's signed copies of my books and the dog had ripped one to shreds. This woman should be a detective. Or maybe a bounty hunter. She tracked me down through connections in the state legislature and to a bookseller who has my contact information. All that time and energy just to find out if she could send books to me so I could sign them and she could replace the one that had been chewed up by the pooch! Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a reader! And a darned nice aunt to boot.
So today's post is dedicated to all my wonderful readers out there who go to great lengths to pick up (or replace) my books! You are the absolute best part of this writing gig--and I don't ever plan to forget it!
See you next week!
~Kathy 'Bullet Hole' Bacus~

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Of Deep Fried Rattlesnake, Bison Kabobs and Prickly Pear Margharitas.


My husband and I just got back from a long weekend in Arizona. We were there for a wedding, but my ultimate goal was to see the Grand Canyon. Well, I'm sad to report we didn't make it. Things came up, yadda, yadda, yadda, and blah, blah, blah, but our concierge redeemed herself by setting us up for a day trip to Sedona.


This was my first visit to the Southwest. Phoenix was interesting, and I got to have breakfast with one of my favorite writers Tina Gerow (aka Cassie Ryan). The mountains were beautiful and I was doing okay with the dying of thirst all the time thing. They weren't kidding with the dry heat. I kept wondering how my 7-year old would handle it. He's always making all the spitting sounds that go with his invisible sword/gun/laser/webslinging/whatever. He wouldn't last five seconds before his saliva dried up. Actually, that's not a bad idea...


Anyway - the trip to Sedona was fascinating. It's amazing how much the terrain changes - from brown, desert with huge Saguaro cacti to green, hilly canyons of red rock with short, prickly pear cactus. We took the Pink Jeep off road tour of the Broken Arrow trail and it was awesome. I want that as my retirement job. We spent two hours driving over boulders and seeing some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet.
Anyway - it got me thinking about how something you don't expect can surprise you. I expected all of AZ to resemble Pahonix (I love that commercial), but I was wrong. I thought I'd be disappointed missing the GC and that I was settling for Sedona - wrong again. It turned out to be one of the most awe-inspiring trips I'd ever taken.
Afterwards we went down into town and had dinner at the Cowboy Club - a place that actors from the 40's and 50's used to frequent. We had rattlesnake, buffalo and cactus fries. Hell, I even had a margarita made from the juice of the prickly pear cactus. It was veeeeeeerrrrryy sweet. As we drove back to Scottsdale, the sun was setting over the red rock canyons and I have to say that ranks right up there with some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen (right behind my first book cover - of course.)

So, take some time out of your day to surprise yourself. Get off the beaten path. Eat some things you wouldn't normally eat. (Be sure to have the venom and needles removed first - and deep-fat frying helps.) You just may be amazed by what you find.


Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Animal Instincts On Reducing Stress



In this fast pace lifestyle, I often find myself overbooked, wound up, feeling catty, and ready to pop like a shaken can of Diet Dr. Pepper. So how do I cope?

Well, I’ve taken to listening to my furred, feathered and finned friends. I’m not talking about the benefits of owning a pet. Although those are great, I’m talking about the examples my pets have taught me. (Hey, they are cheaper than therapy.) Below are some stress-busters and joy-inducers that we at the Craig house try…try to live by.

Doggone Stress

* Speak up: It’s a simple trick, but one canines think humans could practice more often. It appears that we do a lot more rolling over than speaking up.

* Latch your teeth into what you want: When we’re ready to bite someone because our wants and desires are falling by the wayside, our canines advise that we latch onto our goals like a dog with a bone and refuse to give up.

* Demand a walk a day: We all know how seriously our canines take their walks. While a brisk stroll around the block may not offer the same relief to us that it gives to man’s best friend, (at least we hope not) it can work wonders on reducing stress

* Use your nose: Our dogs may prefer the smell of old shoes, but this is still one great piece of canine-derived advice. Aroma therapy isn’t just some new age hocus-pocus, so light a smell-good candle and sniff your way to being happy.

Cheep Therapy

* Eat like a bird. Unlike our feathered friends, study after study has proven that we overeat when stressed. Then if you’re like me, you get stressed because you know that bag of Hershey kisses isn’t going to fit into your Weight Watchers plan.

* Sing. When a situation has us ready to screech, try singing instead. It’s amazing what a course of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” even in September, can do for a case of the blues. (Warning, don’t do this is public.)

* Don’t be afraid to ruffle a few feathers: We can’t go around “pecking” on people, but oftentimes we don’t stand up for ourselves because we’re afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings.

* Spread your wings: How long has it been since we’ve tried something completely new? Whether it’s learning to belly dance (No, I haven’t done that yet) or taking a cooking class, widening our fields of interest is a way to chase away those empty feelings.

Purrfectly Calm

*Catnaps: While our feline buddies are always working on their Z’s, studies show that we are getting less sleep. While napping will not make up for sleep deprivation and we might be less catty after a bit of shuteye.

*Sunbathe: Thousands of people suffer from light deprivation commonly called, Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially in the winter months. We’re not talking about working on a tan. I haven’t ever seen a cat with a bikini line, but they do bask in the sun regularly on window sills. A few minutes enjoying a spray of sunshine can brighten our moods.

*The art of avoidance: When the door bell rings and our cat’s sixth sense tells him it’s probably our neighbor’s tail-grabbing kid, he takes a flying leap off whatever furniture he’s not supposed to be resting on and makes a mad dash under the bed. While avoidance isn’t the recommended cure for situations when standing up is a better option, there are times that we could elude stress by avoiding a situation.

*Snuggle up with someone you love: Once a cat has judged us trustworthy, he very well may be one of those felines that demand snuggling time. We shouldn’t push our cats or our significant others away. Welcome them with open arms, encourage them, follow them around and jump into their laps. Snuggling is good for the soul.

Fishing for Peace

*Water therapy: Whenever we feel like we’re drowning in our sorrows, why not try a bath? Put on some low music, add scented oils to your water or light a candle, then sink into the tub and let the soothing begin.

*Stay in schools: Schooling doesn’t even have to take place in an academic building. You can school yourself. The key is to keep learning. As Deepak Chopra, a famous stress-reducing guru and writer says, “We don’t grow old, we get old when we stop growing.”

Okay, so there are my lessons my animal buddies have taught me. What lessons have your animals taught you? Or…do you have some ideas of dealing with stress you’d like to share? Come on, don’t be shy. The contest is still going, ya know!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stupid Laws

I'm sure there are many, many stupid laws (rules) out there, but I want to talk about the travel industry for a moment. For those of you who don't know me that well yet, I'm a corporate trainer by day and travel all over the US trying to bring people up to speed on software. And let me say that the travel industry has got to be one of the most foolish on the face of the earth. Let's just take one item for example:

On every plane there is at least one (possibly more) "exit rows." These are the rows of seats that happen to be placed where the emergency door exit to the airplane is. There are certain responsibilities that passengers sitting in that row are required to agree to - namely, opening the door in case of emergency. Now this is a matter of policy, people. If you are seated in an exit row (as I was Friday night), the flight attendant will question each person directly if they are able to perform the duties. I was the only person in the exit row, so I said my yes, then promptly lay down across the row of seats right after take off and went to sleep. And this is why I think the "exit row" questions are really stupid rules.

1. If there is an emergency on a jet, we will probably all die and the exit door won't be any more distinguishable than any other piece of the plane. So I figure no one's going to call me out on not performing my "duty."

2. If there is an emergency and we don't die, everyone will probably be leaving the plane by the nearest available option - most likely a gaping hole in the roof. I don't think they'll be waiting patiently in line for me to open a door, which at that point would probably take the jaws of life to move.

3. Assuming the best of situations and we're all alive and the door is intact, then why in the world wouldn't I want to open it? Hell, I'm going to be the first person off!

And if you think this is stupid, wait until next week when I tell you the story about how I was a suspected terrorist at the Denver airport.

- Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Things I Love About Autumn...


County fairs and cotton candy and creepy carnies. Football and tailgating. Sweatshirts with hoods. Caramel apples and apple pies. Changing leaves. Smell of wood burning fireplaces. Driving with my top down and heat on. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Fewer bad hair days. Chili in bread bowls. Tights and fishnets. Autumnal displays on porches. Hay rides with horses. Toasted marshmallows. Sisterhood and pink at October Breast Cancer Awareness events. Knee socks. Rainy Sundays on the couch. High school bonfires. The comfortable weight of a heavy quilt. Mums. October brews. Candy corn candles. Sunny but cool. Remembering why I love him. White pumpkins. Flannel sheets. Reading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret...AGAIN. Toe socks. Saturdays at the pumpkin patch. Friday night town high school games. Voting. Buying a new compact of face powder. New jeans.

Just to name a few.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lt. D.R. “Duke” Atkins: Crime Scene Christie’s Cop in her Pocket.


You know as writers we need our resources. As a romantic suspense writer, I’ve found myself with lots of questions about police procedures. (Unlike Kathy, I never worked in law enforcement.) So I had questions like: “Is this legal?” (For my book, and not me personally.) “Would my hero cop not just shoot the jerk now?” Important stuff that makes romantic suspense novels read true. And I’ve found it really helps to have a . . . well, a cop in my pocket. I’m not sure Duke likes being in my pocket, but so far he’s never refused to help. (I found he can’t stand it when a woman cries.)

I knew Duke was the man for the job the first time I spoke with him on the phone. I mean, I didn’t know this man, and he was already insulting me and it was funny stuff.

Anyway, I’ve roped Duke into being our guest blogger today. He’s agreed to answer questions about police work. Now, I’ve told him that the only person he can insult here is me, which basically makes me an open target, but he’s promised to behave and not to report any of our comments or questions to the authorities.

So go ahead, pick his brain. (Duke, doesn’t that sound painful?)

My Life with Christie Craig
Or How I became an official police advisor


My name is Lt. D.R. “Duke” Atkins and I work (well, I may have used to work after this gets out) for the Houston Police Department. In police work, I’ve had the opportunity to see human interaction (that’s interACTION) at both its finest and its most depraved. I have seen great acts of compassion and great acts of atrocity, both enacted with equal amounts of zeal.

One of the major things that you think I would have learned is how the decisions you make greatly influence your life. The decision to become a police officer was the best thing I ever did short of marrying my wife, having our son, and knowing God. Then, there have been other decisions. Such as the time I wanted to see what it was like to cut human hair with scissors, you know those little rounded-end ones from elementary school? One big snip from each eyebrow! Did I mention that school pictures were taken 2 days later? That image still looks down on me in my own home today.

One of those other big decisions that I look back on with a bit of trepidation is the day I got a call from a lady named Christie Craig. She was working on story about my Cowboy Action Shooting club, the Texas Historical Shootist Society (THSS) for a state-wide law-enforcement magazine. She wanted to show that police officers had lives outside of law enforcement, kind of like normal folks. (Normal? That’s where she went wrong.)

This little interview/photo session led to a story filled with numerous quotes from then Sergeant “Duke” Atkins. Most of this was because I kept talking when I should have kept me mouth shut. Apparently, I must have said something wrong, because Christie began to spell my name as “Adkins”. This little error thus dashed my chances of being the guy who would be the so-called face of the department who would get to travel around the world while representing the department at events and important stuff. I think this was all because they couldn’t find a sergeant named Adkins in the system. Another opportunity lost.

After a few months, I get another call from Christie. She explained that in addition to writing articles and misspelling people’s names, she also wrote humorous romantic fiction. And she wanted me to talk to her group of writers. I was impressed that anyone wanted my opinion about anything. But romance? She told me that I, along with a few other officers, could bring guns and talk about them. I was as good as there.

Interesting bunch of folks at that meeting—they actually asked some questions about guns. The one question that sticks in my mind was directed to the female detective who worked at another agency, “What did the detective hate to see most when reading a book?” I knew that answer and replied first, “Big words”. Thought I was going to have to shoot my way out past the detective, who didn’t think it was as funny as the rest of the room did as they lay on the floor laughing. Hmm, I don’t get invited over to that agency much anymore.

Now, I’m convinced that every officer in law enforcement failed the psychology test. I think it’s practically a requirement. I mean, you bring in a normal guy, nice guy, and send him out to work in the cesspool of life for 20 years or so and then see what you have caused. He is on his fourth or fifth wife, with three to nine children, not all from the various wives, paying so much in monthly “fines” for making bad life decisions that they nearly have to live in the station locker room. As one officer put it years ago, “every four or five years, I’m just going to walk up to some girl and buy her a house, it’s what I’m doing now and it would save me the marrying and divorce part”. But, heck, if they only take the ones who fail the tests, at the end of those 20 years the department can honestly say, “Hey, that’s not our fault; he was already screwed up when he came in”.

This may have been somewhat the angle that Christie took when she sought me out in the first place. I mean, once my used-to-be-friends find out that I am listed as a “police advisor” in a humorous romantic novel, my goose is cooked. On the plus side, most of them don’t read much anyway; I might slide on this thing yet.

My real problems began when Christie began to call on a semi-regular basis and ask, “You have a minute, I’ve written myself into a corner.” My first inclination was to advise her to go write at a desk or a table and stay away from the darn corners. But feeling sorry for her, I tried to listen. I said, I tried! Where in the world does she dream up this material? I remember in the 60’s a lot of folks experimented with some stuff and they could imagine some pretty similar things as I recall.

She would want to know general procedures for going to a homicide scene, and then what would happen if someone was shot with this kind of gun. That one was easy. “They die.” Then, “Seriously, what if you got hit here?” My answer, “I’d probably shoot the idiot who shot me first, and then I’d die.” But of all Christie’s questions, my all time favorite was, “What kind of gun has a barrel about the same size as a super absorbent tampon?” No lie, she actually asked me that!!

Okay, I’ll admit, we’ve spent some enjoyable hours in discussions. (Some of which I taped for my own protection.) Not that she always explains why she needed such information. However, I have been assured that I will get autographed copies of all her books for my efforts as an official police advisor. Maybe then I can finally get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But if any of you have any questions, barring anything about tampons, I look forward to talking to you.

D. R. “Duke” Atkins


Thursday, September 13, 2007

What's in a Name? In a word...everything!


You’ve seen the titles. You know. The book titles that cause you to engage in serious head-slapping for not thinking of them first. Wonderfully clever book titles that make use of wicked word plays, delightful deviations on movie or song titles, or dynamite double meanings that compel you to pick the book up and read the back cover copy. Maybe you’ve even come up with more than a few of your own.

While a great cover can attract a shopper’s eye at the supermarket checkout or draw one’s attention to it among the shelves of books at your favorite bookstore, the importance of crafting a catchy, creative title to grab that prospective reader’s attention has never been greater.

Which brings me to my blog topic this week--and, sadly, to a weakness I must own up to. Most authors have areas they struggle with (and only their critiques partners know for sure). For some writers, it’s pacing. For others it’s point of view. Still others find writing sex scenes challenging. For me, it’s titles. For the most part I suck at titling books. And while I realize I’m not alone here, (I’ve seen some ‘gag-me’ titles that had me going ‘what were they thinking?’) this shortcoming frustrates me just the same.

The first ‘hairball’ title I produced still causes twitters among my children. A short category romance, I titled it Chance for a Lifetime. A little sappy but not too terribly bad -- until you found out the hero’s name was ‘Chance.’ See what I mean? Bleah. The next book I wrote--a romantic comedy with a divine touch--had what I thought was the perfect title. Apparently so did another author who gave her book the very same title. Unfortunately for me she managed to sell her book first. So it was back to the drawing board for a new ‘perfect’ title. It took me another year to come up with FiancĂ© at her Fingertips. I eventually learned to love the title. It’s a good thing, too, as this book recently sold and will be my first non-Calamity Jayne release for Dorchester Publishing.

And now we come to Calamity Jayne. First off, I love the title of the first book. It totally fits the story. You’ll like it more, too, when you hear my original working title for this project.

Ahem. Clang, clang! Hairball alert! Butt ugly title ahead!!

Okay, here goes. I originally called the book Ditz. That’s right. Ditz. Hey, I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. You see, when I’m writing, I must have a working title. Thankfully I lost this gem about four chapters into the book and never looked back. Next was Calamity Jayne Rides Again. That was my working title and I was okay with it. It fit the theme of the book and had the nickname recognition going for it. Then came, Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, a fitting, yet fun, title. Book four of the Tressa Jayne Turner series, Calamity Jayne Goes to College (a play on the old Ronald Reagan Bonzo Goes to College flick), brought back the now familiar Calamity Jayne moniker. And with Tressa and the Grandville Gang heading to the southwest in the upcoming fifth book in the series, I figured a working title of Calamity Jayne Heads West would work. It worked well enough I got to keep it but now I find myself wishing I had dug a little deeper to come up with something a bit more compelling. Less ho hum.

Which brings me to my sixth Calamity caper. It features a truly inspired title. Anchors Aweigh! Yep. That spelling is correct and the only other thing I’m saying is that it’s dead on, folks. Hehe.

After ten books you’d think I’d develop a knack (a trick even) for crafting cute, clever titles, wouldn’t you? I have been practicing though. The final Saturday of RWA National Conference this past summer after the Awards Gala I spent a number of hours in the Hyatt Regency Hotel lobby in Dallas with friends trying to come up with ideas for a series in development. Things got a little out of hand. Too little sleep combined with too much chocolate, I’m afraid and the results were--suspect. But what happens in Dallas, stays in Dallas. Right, ladies?

So what do you like in a title? For those of you who write, how do you all generate titles? Do you always have a working title for each project? How often are your titles keepers?

Looking down the road a piece my seventh Calamity Jayne book involves a cross country bicycle ride, a tandem bicycle, spandex --and, naturally, more than a few potholes.

I’m already experiencing title trauma.

Help!

~Kathy ‘Bullet Hole’ Bacus~

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Am Leslie's Brain

I'm sorry this is late. I'm packing for a trip to Arizona in the morning and we had Tom's parents over for dinner and I've had a few glasses of wine too many, but what the hell.

I'm excited for two reasons - 1) I'm finally going to see the Grand Canyon and 2) I figured out the ending of book three. What's weird is, the two rate just as highly with me.

Okay - so how does the world's largest hole in the ground equate with figuring out the ending of one of what may be many books? Because both are miraculous in nature. You already know why the Grand Canyon is cool, so I'll fill you in on the other.

You might think that being a writer, the plots of books come easily. We're creative types, right? This should be easy. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. In my case, the end of the book reveals itself when it's damned good and ready. I don't have any idea how it's all going to end when I come up with the idea for the book itself. The fact that my brain hides this info from me is bizarre, and a little scary (I mean - what else isn't it telling me???). Yet, that's how it happens. It just pops in there when I'm trying to sleep, helping the kids with homework, in the shower, or in this case -when I'm standing in the shower like a zombie - trying to remember if I got the kids off to school (or in extreme situations - did I even have kids?).

I hear people saying all the time that they'd like to know how the brain actually works. Not me. I'm perfectly happy letting my brain tell me what's what, when I need to know. I'm afraid if I ever did figure it all out - it would stop talking to me. And that is what I'm really afraid of.

Happy thoughts!.
Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Thing Every Woman Wants

A couple of years back, a friend of mine went to see a plastic surgeon. She had come upon some inheritance and decided to see how the money could buy her something she’d always wanted, something she’d dreamed of and longed for—something that would truly change her life. Now, I can’t condemn her for wanting it. I’m not immune to lusting after it myself.

Now, you might be thinking she went in search of a set of perky size Ds, or perhaps a cuter nose, lips like Angelina Jolie, and if you have a really naughty mind you might think she went in to get her very own . . . well, a sex operation. But nope, my friend is happy being female. But she was unhappy with her female self. What she really wanted was a better self image.

The good doctor gave her a blue magic marker and a few instructions. She was to strip butt naked, stand in front of the full-length mirror and mark everything on her body that she would like to change. Now, my friend is like most women I know in their early forties, meaning she hadn’t looked at herself naked in a full-length mirror since before Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman.

But being the good patient, she did as he requested. Then, peering only through tightened eyelids, she grabbed the marker and uncapped it. She started down low, a scar on her calf where a dog bit her when she was a kid, her knees which according to her, had began to sag much like breasts do. (I’m afraid to check mine.) The thighs required much more ink. ( I would have run out ink by then.) And then the dreadful tummy. Of course, she admitted she’d never lost the pregnancy bulge. But the mid-drift. . . since when had that started to jiggle? Breasts…she didn’t even want to talk about them and neither do I.

She says that’s when she got a good glimpse of herself in the mirror and started bawling. Not just because she saw herself naked for first time in almost ten years. Not because she was looking a little like Papa Smurf. She sobbed because she knew her inheritance wasn’t large enough to fix everything. (Damn Aunt Bee for not being richer!)

Anyway, she got dressed and came running to my house with a bottle of wine. A large bottle. Some time between glasses three and four, we both had an epiphany. (I don’t get them often so this was a grand occasion.) I’m not even sure how we came to this bit of wisdom, but I think it was because each of us was shocked at everything we wanted to change about ourselves. I found a blue marker and we both put big dots on our foreheads. In our slightly inebriated states, this was supposed to mean that the first part of our bodies we needed to fix was our minds. Because our biggest problem with self-image was how WE saw ourselves.

When my husband came home that night, I had to explain the headache and the big blue dot on my forehead. Even still, I didn’t regret our mid-afternoon Merlot party, although I did regret that the dot on my forehead had been made with a permanent marker.

But even that was okay. It gave us both a few days of fading ink to think about the whole self-image problem. And something we realized is that this problem hadn’t started with the sagging forties, it had been present even in our earlier years. I remember wishing I had bouncier ponytails in kindergarten.

The end result of that day? My friend used most of her money to go on a cruise. She did get one nip and tuck, but she also joined a gym, and bought some books on loving and accepting herself.

Every now and then, I still get caught up the whole negative image trap. I hate my thin hair, I hate being short, I hate my big boobs. (Yeah, I know most of you don’t get that, but believe me, being short and chesty isn’t a good thing. If anyone needs to borrow a cup or two, I’ve got some to give away.) I hate the lines appearing around my eyes, and the extra 30 pounds. But then I try to remind myself, that most of what I see wrong with my appearance is exaggerated by own warped self-image. So I’m still working on changing the things I can change, and accepting the things I can’t. I’ve also gotten rid of all permanent markers. Oh, and I absolutely refuse to stand naked in front of full-length mirrors. That alone keeps me away from all plastic surgeons.

So, do tell, do you hate something about yourself? How are you dealing with negative image? Or, are my friend and I the only ones struggling with this ugly beast?

--Crime Scene Christie

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stating the Obvious

Sometimes in my writing, I get comments from others (cp's, agent, editor) that read something like "this is obvious, you don't need the rest of the ________." Usually, it's from dialogue explaining an emotion when I've already implied it with action or vice versa. I am working on a rewrite of a proposal right now and came across one of those type situations yesterday and it made me think that once again, fiction has to be more realistic than life. Because in life, people LOVE stating the obvious. People go OUT OF THEIR WAY to state the obvious.

Take my weight for instance. Okay, so I'm overweight and need to eat better and exercise (for like, fifty years). But it never fails that when I see someone I haven't seen in a long time, they inevitably say something like "Jana, you've gained weight."

Every time this happens, I am so tempted to widen my eyes, stare at them in horror, then start inspecting myself inch by inch and finally culminate in tears as I come to the fake realization that I'm fat. What do you think - sound like fun?

C'mon people. Overweight people know they're overweight. I'm hoping all of us bathe so that's a pretty good indication of body form. Then there's the drying off part and most bathrooms have a mirror. And if that one doesn't clue you in, there's always the ever increasing difficulty of painting your own toenails. For you skinny women out there just remember being pregnant and you get the idea.

Then there's the games that overweight people play - and they amuse me too. Like wearing black all the time. Once again, c'mon people. Black is indeed "slimming." I'm not going to disagree. But let me ask you this - if black takes off ten pounds, but you need to loose eighty, who are you fooling? I wear what I want to wear - bright colors, prints, sleeveless shirts. What the heck is the difference?

Ultimately, I need to drop my weight because I will feel better and have more energy - quite frankly, I need more energy so that I sleep less and can write more. Also, I love clothes shopping and it isn't as fun when you're big. Even worse, I turned the big 4 - 0 yesterday and I refuse to be fat in my 40's.

So today is the first day I attempt to eat right and give a little exercise a whirl. Nothing demanding, mind you - just a little walking to build up stamina. Maybe swim a couple of laps in the pool. The idea of skipping eggs and bacon and having fruit and cereal instead has already got me giddy with excitement. Oh, wait, that wasn't stating the obvious at all.......that would be lying, which I might cover in my next blog. :)

Have a great week, everyone!

- Deadly (Dieting) DeLeon

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hi, My Name is Bethany and I'm a Bath Fiend*.


Last week I had to decide between lunch and Lush.

My friends wanted to go to a brave bistro for an end of summer recap. It is the one restaurant I go to and I don’t even consider the caloric ramifications on my evening run. Everything they serve is deliciously prepared and beautifully presented and in that vein going is something of a treat. Being young thirty somethings with small children and big (for us) mortgages, we more lunch ladies than ladies who lunch. That being the case, when my friends invited me my brain wasn’t busy adding and subtracting calories and miles, it was more preoccupied with the right side of the menu, the prices.

You see that very morning I had used my last drop of Flying Fox shower gel, I blew up my last bath bomb the month before, and the tee tiny remaining sliver of Honey I Washed the Kids wasn’t enough to wash my kid. I logged on to my banks website and checked the balance of my “Just for Me” account, then winced. Maybe if I bought the smallest bottle of shower gel (more expensive per ounce, mind you), one bath bomb, and if I forewent the sweet vanilla and toffee so yummy I could bite him smell of my little boy fresh out of the bath…

Umm…no.

The very thought of scrimping on my bath indulgences sent me into a cold sweat and made me a slight nauseous. I couldn't even think about lunch much less eat and and enjoy it. There are many many many things to which I can just say no. Bath bubbles and bombs and lotions and oils are not among them.

My daily showers (yeah, plural) and bi-weekly baths are my respites. I’m best at creating stories when I’m sitting in a tub as the hot water turns tepid and billows of bubbles slowly pop and collapse. When I’m overtired and stressed a shower can rebound me more quickly than a power nap. No can of Oust or Febreze will freshen a home more quickly than the steamy, floral or fruity freshness that lingers after my bathing rituals.

So lunch was great conversation over a green salad and sparkling H2O with a splash of lemon. Dessert was a Lemon Drop Cupcake Solid Bath Oil.

Yum!

I’m always on the hunt for new bathing tchtokes to add to my wish lists. What are your favorite smell good finds? Feel free to forward any fun bath recommends my way.

*There is also the matter of a shoe addiction. From that I am still recovering.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

SPYING IN HIGH HEELS on TV


As some of you already know, my first book, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS, is in development for a TV show on the USA Network. I’m extremely excited about this, the whole experience has been a total whirlwind! Here’s the official blurb on the show:

SPYING IN HIGH HEELS follows shoe designer Maddie Springer, who realizes that her knack for fashion also serves another purpose: It makes her a great detective. Maddie's uniquely female perspective helps her pick up clues, using her designer's eye to discern tell tale shapes, colors and patterns, among other things. Along with her best friend Dana, an out-of-work actress, Maddie decides to open a detective agency operating out of her stepfather's hair salon. Producer is Larry Shuman and Executive Producer/Writer is Sara Endsley.

The production company I’ve been dealing with has been so fantastic – very into the story and wonderful about keeping me in the loop on everything. At the moment we’re waiting on script approval from the USA Network to start shooting a pilot. I haven’t read the script yet myself, but so far Maddie, Dana, and Ramirez are all apart of it, as well as a couple of fun new characters. I can’t wait to see them on the small screen!

Right now is when the USA Network execs are deciding which shows that are being pitched will draw in the biggest audience. If any of you are also jazzed about the idea of seeing Maddie and Ramirez on the small screen, there are a couple of things that you can do to help get SPYING on the air.

1. Write to the USA Network and tell them you heard about SPYING IN HIGH HEELS and can’t wait to watch it. Or, if you’ve read the book and liked it, tell them that, too!

Here’s where you can contact the programming department at the USA Network: feedback@usanetwork.com

2. Blog about it! Tell your friends, family, co-workers to write to USA. Hey, it takes a village of writers to get a book on TV, right? ;)

If SPYING IN HIGH HEELS gets network approval, the next step is to shoot a pilot! Yay! Which, of course, involves the very fun task of casting. I’ve been wracking my little brain over who I’d like to see in the role of Maddie. Blonde, bubbly, fashionista, but toally smart, too. Any suggestions? How about the hot Latin lead, homicide detective Jack Ramirez?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. I’m heading out of town to speak at a writing conference in Kansas this morning, so I won’t have Internet access until Sunday. But, I’ll check back in on you all then!

Confessions of a Recovering Junkie -- Politically Speaking


I’m outing myself here. Baring my soul. Laying it before you.

You see. I’m a junkie. But I’m trying to reform. Honest. I’m just having a devil of a time doing it. No. I’m not addicted to alcohol or drugs or sex (sigh). I’m not a junk food junkie (although there have been times in the throes of deadline hell my chocolate intake has raised questions among my family -- along with my blood sugar) and I am not a shopaholic--well, except in bookstores, that is. Yet my ‘habit’ has as much capacity to disrupt my writing regimen as a gambling bug bite you’re compelled to scratch on the slot machines or at black jack tables.

I am a political junkie. There. I said it. And acknowledging the condition is the first step in curing it, right?

I should say I’m a recovering political junkie. I’ve been interested in politics since high school government class when we conducted a mock UN session. I was the ambassador from France. Let me tell you, I learned what the word ‘abstain’ meant in short order during my brief tenure as the French ambassador. Later in college, as an idealistic freshman, I was convinced a peanut farmer from Georgia had what it took to be the leader of the free world. My major was English--not political science--but coming from the heartland I figured if you can’t trust a farmer, who can you trust? I also thought Rosalyn Carter would make a really cool first lady.

Since that time I’ve become more up close and personal with the political arena. As a trooper I provided security at the governor’s residence (I got to know the governor’s pooch and his gastrointestinal habits very well) and at the state capitol where lawmakers convened yearly to draft legislation they would invariably end up having to correct at the next session. But I was fast becoming hooked by the spectacle that politics and politicians provide.

During the last decade I found myself spending way too much time consuming political blogs, watching CSPAN and debates that put other folks to sleep and hunched over newspaper articles. At the last election I volunteered to be a poll watcher though what I would have done if a hanging chad showed up, I haven’t the vaguest idea. Nevertheless, I was hooked.

Where’s the harm, you ask? You’re one of the informed electorate, Kathy, you assure me. What’s the big deal? The big deal is the thrall current events have over me. The harm is the lure of the political sphere--its capacity to pull me away from my writing for prolonged periods of time. Not particularly beneficial when you are on a deadline.

I hear you. Just walk away, you recommend. Go Cold Turkey. No radio, TV, newspaper or internet. Sounds simple enough. Except that I live in Iowa--traditionally home of the first caucus--and, it seems, new home to a score of politicians out pressing hands and kissing babies and delivering stump speeches. Hillary (and Bill), John (and Elizabeth), Obama, Mitt, Tom, the other John, Joe, Mike, among others have pitched their tents in our state in an effort to gain momentum from the first in the nation caucus heading into primary season.
But please, tell me. How does a citizen with a long term political addiction possibly resist such in-your-face temptation this close to home? It’s like having a chocolate addiction and being given the keys to the friggin’ Hershey Factory.

Now it appears another actor turned politician is poised to enter stage left and throw his hat in the ring. The formal announcement comes this week in Iowa’s capitol city. Hmm. I wonder if anyone would notice if I played hooky from school that day. Surely Mr. Thompson (or his security detail) won’t recognize me as the same person who climbed a rather large boulder to snap his picture at the Iowa State Fair several weeks back and nearly toppled over on him as he walked by.

Oh buddy, this is going to be a long political season…!

Do you have any addictions you struggled with, any ‘can’t miss’ shows or hobbies that steal your focus from time to time?

Uh, only the legal ones please, folks.

Until next week,

~Kathy 'Bullet Hole' Bacus~




Wednesday, September 05, 2007

American Survivor Blogzillas

Wow. Those Monday holidays really throw me off. Now that I've realized it's Wednesday (and not Tuesday - as my addled brain would have me believe...because it's evil) I'm barely posting on time. Technically, there are 3.5 hours still left in Wednesday - so maybe I'm okay.

I've been watching a lot of reality shows lately, from Bridezillas to American Princess - among others. And it made me realize that 1) I'm a sick and twisted person, and 2) reality shows aren't reality-based. I once watched an episode of Nick and Jessica and The Osbornes (not together - that would be beyond icky)- only to realize that these celebrities' lives are like mine - beyond mundane.

Now, I'm sure you think that we, the writers on this blog, as romance/mystery writers, live thrilling, exotic lives. That every day, we awaken to the scent of fresh roses on the nightstand, put on our tiaras and pick up our magnifying glasses to have an exciting day filled with romance and suspense.

Well, here's the reality. I hit the snooze button several times, to the fresh scent of Vick's vapo rub on the nightstand. At some point I realize that I only have 45 minutes to get the kids up, fed, dressed, lunches packed and out the door. I let my dogs out, feed the cats and scoop the litter box, and wake up children who either pretend they have suddenly lapsed into a coma or hurl threats at me. At this point, I'm dressed in one of my husband's old army t-shirts and some lounge pants. Eventually I get the kids out the door and settle, still in my pajamas, to check e-mail and hopefully, come up with some brilliant writing. Lunch consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, letting the dogs out again, maybe cleaning a bathroom or two, and then hopefully, back to work.

About two o'clock, I realize I'd better take a shower before the kids get home. Then we go through all the glamour of homework (where they feign lobotomies and act like they don't know what a pencil is for), dinner (where they try to convince me that McDonald's Happy Meals hit all the food groups), baths (where two sweaty kids try to tell me they don't need to bathe) and eventually, bedtime. After that, it's whatever needs to be done for the next day.

I know, I know. You're wondering why I told you this. Well, maybe it's because watching all these reality shows had made me realize that even when you're doing what you absolutely love, there are still deadlines, a personal life, and the basic mundane activity of just working.

It's my reality show. But I'm not stupid enough to sign a contract with the networks to let everyone see it. Because in my imagination, I'm wearing a tiara and drinking fresh squeezed orange juice made by happy woodland creatures. At least - that's how it looks to me.

Yours Truly,
Leslie "The Assassin" Langtry

Another winner!

Sorry I'm late announcing our prize pack winner this week, I've been out of town all weekend!

What am I talking about? Well, as you may have read in our sidebar, we are giving away a prize pack of our books every week for five weeks to one lucky blog commenter. The prize pack 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!

Our lucky winner for week number two is.... MsHellion! MsHellion email me privately with your contact info and we’ll get your prize off to you ASAP. (P.S. Love the thank you note in your profile. Ha!)

gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com

I'm still waiting to hear from our week number one winner, Meljprincess. If you're reading this, Meljprincess, email me and we'll get your prize off to you!

We still have three more prize packs to give away, so keep the awesome comments coming! Remember the more times you comment, the more times you’re entered to win.

~Trigger Happy & the Killer Fiction Gang