Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bummed out and not afraid to admit it...

I'm bummed. Really bummed. I knew I would be. I just thought it wouldn't be this bad. Reading 'The Assassin's' post for yesterday painted me a particularly unflattering shade of snot green. I am SO jealous. I wanna be in the city by the bay at RWA National! I want to show off my lizard lounge act. I want to hang out with the other Deadly Divas from Dorchester and gripe about deadline crunches, and revision letters from hell, and reviewers who don't 'get' me.

Instead I'm back in the soggy heartland biting my nails over whether the roofer will get here today and have the job done by the time it rains again.


As you can see, I'm not the most congenial of company this week.

I badly need something to cheer me up, but there's just so much you can do while you're waiting for someone to come tear the roof off your house.

So, here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Weed pulling. No. I don't enjoy this pastime, but it sure lets me work out my angst.

2. Walking/biking. Uh, with dew points that rival the body temperature (just a teensy exaggeration) and temps in the 90's, this would be punishment rather than pleasure.

3. Shopping? (Mental head slap here) New roof equals no 'fun money'.

4. Reading? A big no 'cause it reminds me I should be seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.

5. Writing? See #4 above.

6. Hitting the bottle? Negatory. I'd probably start throwing darts at the covers of Jana's, Les's, Gemma's--and Christie's--books.

So, any ideas how I can cheer myself up and try to forget that my fellow Killer Fiction authors are having a blast in San Francisco while I'm stuck emptying my dehumidifier every two hours and waiting for the sound of tromping feet on the roof that so don't belong to reindeer? Feel free to chime in--if there's anyone out there who isn't at RWA National, that is. Grrr.

I feel another jealousy pang coming on.

Good thing I stocked up for just such an emergency. There's a giant-sized dark chocolate bar hidden in the back of my drawer and it's got 'Bullet Hole's' name written all over it.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Wanna Go Back To My City By The Bayayayay...

Cheers from San Francisco! I'm here with Gemma, Christie and Jana for the annual Romance Writers of America's Lounge Lizards '08 Tour. Before I go any further, I just got a message from my editor, Lovely Leah, where she shares with me - and I share with you (because I'm ALLLLLLL about the Sesame Street) my latest Romantic Times Magazine review for STAND BY YOUR HITMAN! Are you ready? Here it is;

Langtry takes reality shows to hilarious extremes in her newest Bombay family romp. This wildly-over-the-top series about a family of assassins is populated with offbeat characters and wacky scenarios, all of which lead to a hilarious read. When it comes to assassin-filled comedy, Langtry has cornered the market!

Woo hoo! I've cornered the assassin-filled comedy market!!! And she used "hilarious!" TWICE!
And in an unbelievable moment, my doctor called this morning to tell me my bloodwork is back and my cholesterol is excellent - which is a miracle because I eat like an Iowa farmer - gravy, cheese, bacon and of course, cake. Lots of cake.

It's gonna be a good conference, I think.

So we got in yesterday and walked through Chinatown to North Beach to pay our respects at my Mecca - City Lights books. After wandering the shelves in a reverent daze for a couple of hours, we went next door to my favorite bar on the planet - Vesuvio. This is where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti hung out. Tom and I felt it only fitting (at 1 in the afternoon no less) to have Jack Kerouac's favorite drink, a concoction including fruit juice, tequilla and rum. Of course, it was so good we had to have three more. Let's just say I don't remember making it back to the hotel. I do remember throwing my arms around Kim in the lobby and hugging her, but other than that it's a blur. (Kim, I apologize right now for anything and everything I might have said, done, or thought about - Mea Culpa!)

Today the conference begins and I'm really looking forward to seeing all my friends again!

Hope all is well with you wherever you are!

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up, Up & Away: On My Way To a Writer's Conference

By the time you are reading this, I’m probably at the airport standing in line, trying to prove I am who I say I am, trying to figure out what keeps making the metal detector beep, (the underwire bra maybe?) And if that man passes that wand over my boob one more time, I’m going to have to call it “first base”, and he hasn’t even offered to buy me a drink. Then, when I finally get into my assigned seat, I just know I’m going to be sitting next to some guy who had onions with his breakfast, and who thinks because he’s male (owner of his own joy stick) and bigger than I am, he gets my arm rest and part of my leg room. (Gotta have room for his joy stick and his boys.) Then he’ll fall asleep on my shoulder and snore to the tune of Jingle Bells. And when I arrive, my luggage will be on a plane to Calcutta and I’ll have to borrow clothes from Nora Roberts or Jennifer Cruise. Hey, I hope they don’t mind if I have to get them hemmed.

I know, I know, I’m doing some negative visualization here, but can you tell I’ve flown before? And all of the above situations have happened to me. Well, with the exception to borrowing clothes from Nora or Jennifer. And it wasn’t because I didn’t try, but they got back to their room before I was able to pick the lock of their hotel door.

Oh yeah, I’ve done my share of flying and had my share of flying disasters. When I was doing travel articles regularly, I did two to three trips a month. In all fairness, I’ve had plenty of good flights and met plenty of really great people on flights. Ahh, but it’s the bad flights I remember the most. And the ones that are the funniest.

For example, there was the time I was flying in from Virginia. I’m in the plane and in the middle seat in the row in front of me is a nice-looking man in his late forties. Then comes a woman and says, “Excuse me,” and pushes past him, sliding her bottom across his lap as she scoots into the window seat. “Ohhh, so sorry,” she coos in a sexy voice. “Didn’t mean to brush up against sensitive parts.”

As a romance writer, always looking for a little motivation, my ears perk up. Then she pats him on his arm and says, “Good thing we know each other.”

I smile and think how sweet. Sweet gets a bit sexier as they whisper in each other’s ear, and I’m leaning forward to hear all the sexy tidbits. Hey, this is research. Unfortunately, sweet and sexy didn’t last too long. We ran into some really bad weather, and they started ordering scotch. I swear to you, they went from, “Do you know what I’m going to do you when we get to our hotel room,” (in a good way) to “You are such f&^king A-hole.” But the slurs weren’t the highlight.

Nope. The highlight came when she took the phone out of the seat in front of her and started beating her husband in the head with it. And what happened next was the real eye opener. The flight attendant came over and moved her to first class away from her man she’d just assaulted. I mean, I thought I already knew all the ways to get bumped to first class. I might try it next time the guy sitting next to me starts snoring.

Of course, like I said I shouldn’t be thinking negatively, so let me try to visualize a positive situation. Hmm, I know. I get past the metal detector without my boobs being wanded, I sit next to a woman (hey, I’m a married woman or it would be a hot male cover model) who is pleasant and then pulls out a novel titled, Weddings Can Be Murder and she starts to read. She’s enthralled, she’s giggling and sighing in all the right places. She loves it. Then she flips to the back to see the author’s picture and in total amazement she turns to me and says, “Oh my goodness, you look so much younger and thinner than your picture.” (Hey, this is my fantasy.) Of course, she gets me to sign it and promises to tell everyone she knows about this great author she met on the plane.

Okay…so that’s my flying fantasy…and that’s my blog. What about you guys? Any flying stories to tell? Come on, share a few. And remember, it might be later tonight before I get to the hotel room and am able to respond to your comments.

Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hard Questions - Impossible Answers

Once you've had a book published, a strange thing happens; people assume you know the secret handshake/password/12-step program to getting a book published and further assume that you can explain it in 50 words or less. Now, asking an author "how do I get a book published" is pretty much like asking a pastor "how was Christianity invented." I mean, sure, there's the short answer:

Christianity comes from Christ. Yeah, well, there's sorta a lot missing in that explanation, so I'm kinda thinking it would work as well as:

Write a book worth publishing.

But then what is the answer? And the problem with that is what is the real question? Sometimes what you think people want to know is not really what they want to know. Take this story for instance:

When I was working at my previous job, I was out-of-town for a week doing a software conversion at one of my properties. After work one evening, I walked over to the restuarant next to the hotel and sat down for some supper and some editing on a friend's manuscript that was due to her editor soon. I was a few pages in when a waitress stopped and asked if I was a teacher. I told her I was a writer and this is how the conversation went from there:

Waitress: Is that your book?
Me: No, it's a friend’s.
Waitress: So how do you get a book published?

Well, hell, we could stop right there. The restaurant didn't have enough food (and definitely not enough drinks) for me to stay and answer that one. But I'm always one to encourage people if they want to try something, so I give it a whirl:

Me: Well, what are you writing?
Waitress: It's a story about a family.
Me: Romance, Women's fiction, Family Saga - what genre?
Waitress: What's genre?
Me: The kind of book.
Waitress: It's a story about a family.

(okay, time for a different line of questioning)

Me: You need to find a local writer's group. That's the best way to learn about the industry.
Waitress: Okay. Do I look in the Yellow Pages?
Me: No, you need to look online.
Waitress: On what line?
Me: On the internet. Do you know someone with a computer?

So we proceed to struggle through five more minutes of completely unenlightening conversation before the waitress finally hits me with the one question that had apparently been burning this entire time:

Waitress: "What I really want to know is how many pages she has, because I only have fifteen?"


So anyone got a good answer for this? I mean how do I condense years of mentoring, reading, studying and gossiping into a ten-minute answer for these people. I'd love to help, but I simply don't know where to start.

Deadly DeLeon

YouTube Sunday!

This week’s video is awesome, and a totally true story. (You can get the long version of it here: Thanks so much to Terry for sending it in!

Next week I’ll be giving away another pack of hot, hot, HOT Ellora’s Cave playing cards, so send me your videos!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Author Jenna Black - The Suspense Isn’t Killing Me

Please join me in welcoming our awesome guest blogger, Jenna Black. Not only is she a great writer, and a really fun gal to hang out with, she’s also does paranormal creepiness mixed with hot romance better than anyone I know. Her new book, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, will be in stores July 29th, and I highly recommend it! So, take it away, Jenna…

I went to see a movie (which shall remain nameless in the effort to avoid spoilers) last month that cemented my opinion that sometimes, you just have to forego the temptation to keep viewers (or readers) in suspense. In this movie, there’s a scene where a new character is introduced. From the first moment he appeared, I knew that this character was going to turn out to be the “secret baby.” I’m not sure why it was obvious to me so quickly, but it was—and probably was for other viewers as well.

I had no problem with the idea of this “secret baby.” What I had a problem with is that the writers seemed to think the viewers wouldn’t figure this out on their own. They kept dropping “subtle” hints of this character’s identity, but pretending it was a secret from the audience. I know we were supposed to be surprised when the truth was revealed, but I doubt there was a person in the theater who hadn’t guessed it already.

Now, there was no reason for the father to guess that this character was his son, so his surprise, I could deal with. But I wished the writers hadn’t acted like the audience wouldn’t figure it out. I think if they hadn’t bothered to keep it a secret, the story would have been just as effective—actually, more so, because I, for one, would not have been rolling my eyes at every hammer-to-the-head clue that was dropped.

It has long been my policy in my own books that if I think the reader is likely to guess something, I don’t bother trying to keep that something hidden. As an example, I’ll point to Gabriel, the hero of SHADOWS ON THE SOUL, who was first introduced in SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS. He’s a “secret baby” himself, and when I was writing SECRETS, my first instinct was to keep his true identity hidden for as long as possible. I thought that the big revelation would be the midpoint of the book, or might even happen around the black moment.

But as I was writing the first couple of scenes with Gabriel, I knew I had to drop a clue here or there so that the revelation wouldn’t come out of nowhere. And as soon as I dropped those clues, I realized there were going to be a significant number of readers who would guess the truth. I was badly stuck for a while, trying to figure out how to get myself out of this corner—until I realized that I didn’t have to keep the secret. If people were going to guess anyway, why not just come out and reveal who Gabriel’s father is as soon as the clues might possibly give it away?

I ended up revealing Gabriel’s identity in the third scene in which he appeared—obviously, way earlier than I’d originally planned. And looking back now, I feel certain I made the right decision. Yes, sometimes it’s fun as a reader to be able to guess where the story is going ahead of time—but it’s one thing to guess, and another thing to feel certain and then want to roll your eyes during the big revelation. So my advice to writers out there is to use suspense carefully and in moderation, and remember that there are ways to keep secrets from your characters without keeping them from your readers.


Hungers of the Heart, available now!
The Devil You Know, coming July 29 from Dell Spectra

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rejection… Good For a Laugh?

A couple months back I mentioned the guy I met who has a wife in a coma. (Yes, seriously. Only me…) Well, the coffee meeting went okay, so we parted on that ever vague let’s-get-together-again-sometime note. At the time, I honestly meant it. Sure, he was married to a woman in a coma, but he was an awesome dad to his two girls, decent looking, stable, seemed like genuinely a nice guy. But, between him being a single dad to two and me being… well, me… our schedules were both crazy. And then along came Mr. Big, and, well, it just never quite happened between Coma Dad and I.

So, Coma Dad emails me this week. He asks if I still want to try to get together sometime or if I wasn’t really all that interested to begin with. I felt bad. But, the truth is, if either of us had really been feeling it, we would have made the time to see each other. You do if you’re really into someone. So, I write a nice note back, telling him that I really did enjoy meeting him, but that it’s obvious neither of us was gaga over the other or we would have made it happen. I end by saying he’s an awesome guy, we have a lot in common, please keep in touch.

His response?

It pops into my inbox five minutes later. “No, I don’t think I will keep in touch. But send me one of your books.”


My response…(putting on my best Soup Nazi voice)… “No books for you!”

Oh, but my day got better.

Before I go any further, I must admit something to all the dog lover among us. I am allergic to your darlings. Highly. As in throat closing up territory here. Not that I don’t love dogs – I do. I just love breathing more.

So, this fellow writes to me a few weeks ago from an online service. Ironically he’s also a firefighter. He seems like a nice guy, former military (gotta love a man in uniform), cute smile. I write back. We exchange a few pleasant emails, but nothing really develops.

Fast forward to present. I’m out with Suze, having a few drinks, and my phone rings. Not a number I know, but what they heck, I’m in a good mood. I pick it up.

“Hi, this is Charlie. How are you?”

Charlie… Charlie… do I know a Charlie? But, he obviously knows me, so I play along. He keeps talking and I keep wracking my brain (granted, it was a little martini soaked at that point…) trying to pick up a clue who this guy is. He’s so sorry it’s taken him a while to call me, he’s at work, but has a few minutes to chat, how’s my hamster doing, he’s been called to those wildfires… ah ha. Fires. It clicks. Though, I totally didn’t remember giving this Charlie guy my number, apparently I did. So, ten minutes into the conversation, I finally remember who he is. (Hey, I had more than one martini!) So, I pick up the slack on my end of the conversation now that I know who I’m talking to. And, since he asked about Rosie the Wonder Hamster, I ask if he has any pets. Yep. One. His baby. The love of his life. His dog.

Uh oh. So, I confess that, while I may love his baby, too, I probably won’t be cuddling up to her anytime soon if I want to keep breathing.

And he says, “Then I won’t waste anymore of your time.” Click. That’s right, he just hung up on me. No, “We can work that out.” No, “Are there medications you can take?” Just a dial tone.

I stare at the phone in my hand for a beat. Then bust up laughing. Suze and I raised a toast that night, hoping Must Love Dogs and his St. Bernard are very happy together.

You would think my day ended there. But no. It gets better.

After I get home, I check my email. There’s a message there from a Mr. Hot Stuff. (No joke, that’s his online handle.) I read it. And realize why. He’s a firefighter. (K, I’m starting to think my phone number is written on a bathroom wall in a firehouse somewhere.) As I’m reading the email, I remember that this guy has written to me before. Apparently he didn’t remember because he’s introducing himself anew. So, never one to pass up an opportunity to mess with the boys a little, I send him a note telling him, “Hey, you’re sending me reruns.” He write back right away. Now he remembers, so sorry, how come we never got together?

Honestly, his pictures weren’t that attractive. Not bad, not hideous… but didn’t make my heart go pitter patter either. And lately, well, I’ve been kind of digging Mr. Big. So, yeah, not that into Firefighter #3.

But, he writes again and asks if I’ve met anyone interesting from online. Hmm… you could say that. He goes on to say he’s just had the worst date in history. I can’t help it. I write back and tell him there is no way any dating story he has can outdo mine.

So, we start spitting bad date stories back and forth. Of course, I kick his butt. (Though, he had some pretty nasty ones, I’ll give him that.) Finally, it comes down to the sudden death round. His deal – loser buys the other coffee. Okay, so he’s not that attractive, but he’s been fun and who can’t use more friends for coffee, right? So, I agree. And I hit him with the Fighter and the Body in the Closet story. No contest, I win hands down. I’m doing a little victory dance in my chair… when he shoots me another email.

He’s just looked at my profile again and noticed that I want kids in the future. He already has three. Doesn’t want anymore. Sorry, he can’t meet me for coffee. And he logs off.

I’m left sitting there, yelling at the little “user has logged off” icon that there was no chance in Hades that we were going to be in position to make babies anyway – I was just in this for coffee! – when it hits me: I’ve been rejected three times in one day. By three guys I didn’t even want to go out with!

I was left with two choices – cry or laugh.

I opted for laughter. And another martini.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Tearful Bon Voyage

It's been one of 'those' weeks. In the midst of dealing with 'storm stuff' (the fallout in my slice of Iowa real estate being much less severe than what The Assassin experienced) I received my galley for ANCHORS AWEIGH. This is a biggie, folks. It's my final (for now) Tressa Jayne Turner mystery. The series finale. The last roundup. And one tear-jerker of an edit.

You see, I love the quirky characters that inhabit good ole Grandville, Iowa. They've become a part of me. When I walk down the street and see something amusing or interesting, sometimes I think what Tressa orJoe or Hannah or Rick would have to say about it. It's hard to let go of family, folks.

So that's why I procrastinated in going over the galley. Why I put it off as long as I could. I didn't want to have to say goodbye. I knew how hard it would be. How much it would hurt.

Or so I thought.

When I finally got to the point I couldn't put it off any longer (these kinds of things tend to be time sensitive) I picked the galley up, removed the rubber bands binding the material, squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, and plunged in.

And, I have to admit it. I got emotional. People who know me in 'real life' know that I'm one of those gals who rarely shed a tear at movies other women go through a purse-sized pack of tissues at and leave the theater looking like they had an allergic reaction. It's probably a cop thing. You learn to keep a fairly tight rein on the old emotions and train your facial patterns to mimic those of Joe Friday. It's a job requirement.

So, I was surprised to find my eyes misting over my galley.

"I love you guys," I said out loud as I read.

"We know, Mom," my daughter responded.

"Oh. I wasn't referring to you guys," I replied. "I meant Tressa and Rick and Joe and Manny--"I stopped to wipe a tear. "And Gaammmy!" I blubbered.

"Mom, are you okay?" my son asked, walking in on my unaccustomed emotional jag.

"She'll be fine," my daughter said.

"It's just saying goodbye is so hard to do," I sniffed.

"That's okay, Mom. We're not leaving for college yet," he pointed out.

"Uh, she's not talking about us, doofus. She's talking about Calamity and Company," my daughter pointed out.

"Oh. Right." My son said. "Uh, you are gonna be okay when we go to college this fall. Right, Mom?" he asked.

"I'll be fine. I'll have my writing," I assured them.

And that might just be the time to resurrect that serial killer story. Get it out. Blow the dust off it. And take a little walk on the dark side.

I finished the galley this morning and have it ready to pop in the mail. It was the cleanest galley I've ever received. And going through it was one of those pleasure-pain experiences.

It's done. Ready to send out.

I'm still a bit emotional. A little weepy. A lot nostalgic.

Hmm. I think it's time to open that serial killer file and get to work. Let's see. Who should I have my serial killer off next and what diabolical means should he/she use?

Bon voyage, Calamity Jayne! It was fun while it lasted!


~Bullet Hole Bacus who is really not from the planet Vulcan after all. Sniffle. Sniffle.~

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Snow Day in July

I'm not sure if many of you heard (I'll bet Bullet Hole did) but we had a weird, freak storm Monday morning. It sounded like the house was going through a car wash (something I'd personally like to see sometime). All power was off. This was followed by a very loud CRACK, which was obediently followed by a crash and the earth shaking.

Leaping out of bed (using my cat-like reflexes of course) Tom and I ran to the windows in the living room. Not only was it raining sideways, but the three-story tall cedar tree was now lying on the sidewalk in front of the house. There was so much lightening I wouldn't go outside to see the carnage. Tom did - but we have life insurance on him (that's right - I can never die).

While he was out, I checked the other windows and found what looked like half a maple tree on our roof around back. That was a fun discovery. Then I noticed that the power lines, phone and cable lines (NOT THE CABLE! NOOOOOOOOOO...) were on the ground in my neighbor's yard with a tree lying on them.


The storm passed through quickly and soon I was outside in my Maleficent jammies, with the neighbors in their jammies, staring at the tree out front. I couldn't believe it. The cedar tree had snapped off about 20 feet up and instead of landing on the house, the fence or the cars across the street, it fell paralell to the fence on the sidewalk (putting a huge dent in the pavement). No one was hurt. Nothing was injured (well, except for the sidewalk but I didn't feel that badly since it eats kids on a regular basis).

It was 7am. My neighbor, Sara, had a radio and told us we had 97 mile-an-hour winds and that the whole city was out of power.

Have you ever heard of 97 mph winds? WTF???

So, I started to drag sappy pine branches off the road so people could drive. Tom and I dressed and began cleaning up. Throughout the day friends and family stopped by and helped (a huge thanks to Uncle Steve and Biker Bernie for their chainsaws). We forced the kids into slave labor (Oliver Wendell Holmes be damned) and got to work.

We spent twelve hours working on the front and back yard. There was no power anywhere and the radio was telling people not to go out because of downed powerlines and no working streetlights. We heard ambulances all day long and virtually every business was closed. It was like a snow day - except it was 80 degrees, sunny, and of course - no snow.

What surprised me most was the gawkers. We don't get a lot of traffic on our street but on Monday it was like a motorcade as people drove slowly by and pointed. People I'd never seen before were out walking their dogs. One woman as she walked by said to her husband, "Honey! Doesn't that pine smell wonderful! I love it!" It took all I had not to say, "Oh yeah? Why don't you come over here and smell me after working all day?"

Pulling the tree branches off the back of the house posed several complications. Everytime you'd pull one branch off, two more seemed to spring - like the heads of the hydra - in it's place. It was sort of like a clown car effect.

As dusk began to settle, we grilled all the meat in our freezer so it wouldn't rot. By some Christmas miracle, the power came back on and I was able to take a hot shower. Unfortunately, we were in the severe minority. It's Wednesday and still most of the city is out of power.

Everything has been cleared, chopped and dealt with. We have a 4 foot high fence of debris lining the curb in front of the house for the city to take away (hopefully before the grass dies).

And you may not believe it, but the damned space plant is not only still standing, but has sprouted four more phallic-shaped cones. How that thing didn't blow down is a mystery.

I guess we were just lucky.

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dr. Ruth/Love Guru...I'm not...or am I?

Okay…I have this problem. Everyone who knows me can attest that I have more than just one problem, but the quandary I wish to whine…I mean blog about today is about people coming to me to for “love” advice. And if not for advice, they just want me to listen to their “love” confessions.

Now, let me clear something up, it’s not as if I really mind this. Okay sometimes I even like it because 1) I might be able to use it in one of my books (hey, I figure it’s fair game, they know I’m a writer when they start confessing) and 2) It gives me ammunition when someone tells me that my fiction is unbelievable. Seriously, my fiction is down-right tame compared to some of the stuff I’ve heard.

Mostly my problem with the Dr. Ruth situations rests in the fact that at times these people expect me to just squint my eyes, grunt, and produce a golden-egg piece of wisdom that is going to solve all their issues. Or they expect to drop some confession on me, something a bit whacky, and they think I’m NOT supposed to react. And pleeaase, how am I not supposed to appear shocked when a person I thought was semi-normal turns nuttzo—and since my idea of normal is already skewed, when I say nuttzo, I don’t mean they just dance to a different beat, I mean they are at least a dozen fries short of a Happy Meal.

Let me give you an example. A while back a neighbor, who’d read Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, and obviously related to Hunky, the flirtatious FedEx guy in the book, met me by the mailbox and casually—as if something like this could even be given casually—informed me that she’d once sent herself a FedEx package and when Mr. FedEx showed up, she answered the door wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.

Now, just exactly how did she expect me to react? I mean, first of all, I really didn’t know this neighbor too well, and second I now had this image being tattooed in my head. Let’s just say, I was hoping the incident had happened several years back, because if not, it would have taken the extra-clingy plastic wrap, and a lot of it, to keep things lifted and residing in the presumed spot of origin. (Hey, things naturally go south.) And if that image wasn’t bad enough, my mind went on overload trying to figure out how the FedEx guy might have unwrapped the package if he’d so desired to do so.

I won’t lie to you, while I was both shocked and overloaded, I was still curious to know how things turned out. And when I finally was able to stop laughing and asked, she actually looked at me as if I was some kind of a pervert. Was I not supposed to laugh? Or was I not supposed to be curious?

Then there’s my third cousin. (I’ll call him Billy, and yes I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.) For some reason Billy thinks that because I write romance novels, I’m his go-to person for “love” advice.

Now, Billy only calls me when he’s having woman troubles—which means he calls a lot. Let me be honest with you, this guy is no catch. (He’s not the guy for you, Gemma!) His idea of wining and dining a woman is picking up three beers, not even a six pack, and a dozen hot wings—if he has a coupon. I swear, for his second’s wife’s first, and last, anniversary, he had a wild pig he’d shot on his latest hunt, stuffed and mounted for her present. (Hey, what says I love you more than a stuffed pig?) But as lacking as Billy is, his choice in women is even worse.

And when Billy calls me up, broken hearted, and asks, “Why does every woman I love leave me?”I try to explain to Billy that married women, women who work in establishments that require clothes removal—and I don’t mean a career in runway modeling—women’s whose arrest records require more than one single-spaced page, women who have borrowed money for bail, or women who have a hard time remembering if it was their second or third husband who accused her of shooting him, well, these women might be a factor in his terminal relationships.

Of course, my neighbor and Billy aren’t the only ones wanting me to offer insight into the world of romance and relationships. And after several years of loaning a shoulder, trying to react accordingly, and offering up bits of wisdom, I began to wonder. Does writing romance novels make me savvy on the subject?

Hmm, I don’t know. But this I do know: if people put as much time plotting their relationships as I do in plotting a novel, I think people would have better relationships. Sure, people can change, and bad stuff can happen, but mostly I think bad relationships are about bad choices. Bad choices in people we entangle ourselves with, bad choices in how we deal with problems, bad and hurtful choices in how we treat the people we love, and oh, let’s not forget, really bad choices for anniversary gifts.

So here’s my question to you: Do people come to you for advice? And since most of you are readers, and some writers, of romance, do you think romance novels gives you insight into the world of “love”? Maybe you can share a bad anniversary gift you received. And if you’re brave and want to tell us about the craziest thing you’ve ever done to catch a man’s eye, go ahead. But please, no more Saran Wrap stories. I’m still trying to get that vision out of my head.

Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting It Right

I went to the movies this weekend and saw THE DARK KNIGHT, second in the latest and greatest Batman series. I have to say that I am beyond pleased with the past couple of years "take" on old themes. Now, don't get me wrong, I liked the other Batman movies okay, especially the one with Val Kilmer as Batman (mainly b/c of the Val Kilmer part), but they were essentially fluff. But THE DARK KNIGHT and the first in the new series, BATMAN BEGINS, got it RIGHT! Batman is supposed to be dark and tortured and conflicted - not happy and comical and metrosexual. Some are complaining that the movie is graphic and violent - well, yeah, and so were the comic books and guess what - NONE OF THEM WERE MEANT FOR YOUNG KIDS. Hello, parents out there - not everything in the world is designed for your little darlings and isn't supposed to be. There are movies/books/sitcoms/etc. that are designed for adults for adults to enjoy.

Another great release this year was IRON MAN. Absolutely brilliant performance from Robert Downey Jr. And I do mean brilliant (but then it IS RBJ we're talking about here). This is another movie that "got it right."

The best redo in the getting it right list - Casino Royale w/Daniel Craig. Again, I love all the old James Bond movies and have most of them on DVD. BUT, what those movies fail to depict is the duality of Bond. James Bond is a very complex man. One side of him wants justice and the other side is a killer (who sometimes just wants revenge). He has fabulous internal conflict and an enormous dark side that has never been portrayed on film as Ian Fleming wrote him - until Casino Royale and Daniel Craig (the absolute sexiest Bond EVER). The latest in the Bond releases is due to release shortly and you can bet I will be there on opening weekend, hoping the writers/directors continued this fabulous new twist of getting an old story right.

So what about you? See any remakes lately that you think got it right? Or maybe the opposite - did someone get it completely wrong?

Deadly DeLeon

YouTube Sunday!

This week's super funny video comes from Minna and stars one of my fav comedians, Rowan Atkinson. Congrats, Minna, you're getting an ARC of Eve Kenin's Hidden!

Coincidentally… Eve will be presenting a workshop – The Hype About Hybrids – at the RWA national conference along with Jana, Leslie, Christie, myself and the lovely and talent Dorchester editor, Leah Hultenschmidt. If you’ll be at the conference, please come see us at 8:30 am Saturday for this fun workshop!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dating Pays Off

Earlier this week I got a call on my cell from a number I didn’t recognize. Naturally, I didn’t pick up, letting it go to voicemail instead where I picked up the message later. Turns out it’s this guy with a lovely British accent (which has nothing to do with my story, I just like British accents) who tells me I won a contest on some dating site. He named a site I vaguely remember visiting at one point, but not lately, and not often. So right off, I’m a little skeptical. I’ve gotten those calls where you’ve “won” a vacation package and all you have to do is sit through a timeshare lecture. Or that I’ve “won” some gift card and all I have to do is sign up for five of their partners’ free trial offers to claim it in 8 to 12 weeks. I’m not totally buying it.

So, I don’t call the guy back.

The next day I get another call, different area code, this one is from a woman. She says they’re ready to mail out my prize, all they need is my address. Again, skeptical. But, they’re persistent. And that little bit of hope in the back of my mind that maybe I have randomly won some cash prize niggles at me… until finally I call back. Of course, the woman’s left the office for the day by then, and I leave a message with my address with the nit-wit receptionist (I have nothing against receptionists, but this one was a total ditz. Me: “Can I leave a message?” Her: (deep sigh) “If you really have to. Hold on. I guess I have to get a pen now.” )

A day goes by. Then the weekend. Nothing Monday. At this point, I figure I’ve been duped. I’ve just given my address to a spammer who will be sending junk mailing to my house on into eternity. Great.

Then I open my inbox that morning and there’s an email from the dating site. See, what did I tell you? Spam city already. But, out of curiosity I open it.

Across the top of the email are the words, “Announcing the Winners of our Best Pick-up Line Contest”. I scroll down and… guess what? There’s my name! I had totally forgotten entering, but it’s coming back to me that there was a section on their site that said enter your best pick-up line. So, I guess I figured, “Why not?” and did. And it won second place!

For a moment, I did a little happy dance in my chair. I really was getting prize money!! And then it hit me. This email was going out to ALL the members of the dating site. With my name on it. I am now known as the second best pick-up artist to every single guy on the site. Honestly, not sure if I wanted that much exposure as a dating pro. You know, not that I’m turning down the prize or anything… ;)

So, how should I spend my $150 dating prize?

~Trigger Happy (Pick-Up Artist) Halliday

P.S. My corny line: I write romance novels for a living. Wanna help me with some research?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Desperately seeking fuel efficiency!

I mentioned last week that I'm starting a new job. What I may not have mentioned is that I'm commuting approximately 35 miles both to and from my job each day. Now, it's been some time since I've been a commuter. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love to drive. As a trooper I often put on 300+ miles per shift driving from one end of the district to the other. But there's one significant difference between those days and now: I wasn't paying for the petrol then.

At first I didn't think too much of it. I work longer shifts resulting in fewer days per week so I figured my GMC Jimmy and I would get along just fine. Besides being the coolest little SUV ever, there is another very endearing quality my Jimmy has. It's paid for. That's a very attractive characteristic.

I'd had Jimmy tuned up for the big commute. Clean oil. New air filter. Plugs and points checked out. So this week Jimmy and I head off at dawn like many other commuters. And I'm watching the fuel gauge with a critical eye. Then, a disbelieving eye. Then with a slightly bilious demeanor. The fuel was disappearing faster than Sour Cream and Onion Pringles do in my pantry. At four bucks a pop, the fuel costs will wipe out my book buying budget altogether.

So I happen to let the salesman who just sold us my son's car know that I might be in the market for something more fuel efficient for the commute to the city and keep the Jimmy for winter driving--or when Congress gets off their duffs and start looking for ways to boost the domestic production of oil. (Note to blog reader: I won't be holding my breath in the interim.)

The salesman calls yesterday.

"I think I have the car," he says. "It's being cleaned up as we speak."

"Cool," I reply, not getting too excited. I've been through this before.

"It's a Chevy Cavalier," he tells me.

Domestically built. Always nice to support the home team.

"Sounds good," I say noncommittally.

"It's a two door, bright red with a spoiler," he goes on.

"Go ahead," I prompt, thinking it sounds cute as a bug's ear, but reminding myself there's usually a catch.

"It's very fuel economical," he adds.

"And?" I query.

"It's got a stick shift," he mumbles.

"Uh, what was that?" I ask. "Come again."

"It's got a manual transmission," he repeats.

"Four on the floor," I mutter. The perfect car for my commute and it has four on the floor.

Now, don't get me wrong. I can drive a stick shift. In fact, I bought a vehicle with a manual transmission before I knew how to drive one and ended up attending Bullet Hole Bacus's School of Driving. That was back when my nickname was Parnelli--so named for a famous race car driver, Parnelli Jones. Yeah. I kinda had a bit of a need for speed back then.

I can drive a standard transmission. I just don't like doing it anymore. I enjoy the freedom and convenience of having one hand free to chat on the phone, sip a cup of coffee, or eat a slice of breakfast pizza on my morning commute. (All right. All three at the same time. Don't tell the authorities!) And the idea of driving in heavy traffic and constantly downshifting? Not my idea of a nice quiet drive before a busy work day--or at the end of a long shift.

But for curiosity sake I drive by the car lot on my way home from class last evening and there it is: a shiny red cute as can be car with cool wheels and that nifty spoiler.

I stare at it and picture myself behind the wheel. Okay, so I admit this is a little hard to do considering I have legs that go on for freakin' ever and this car looks like it was designed for Thumbelina. But in my mind's eye, I looked very cool in that car. Manual transmission or not.

So, I'm going out to look at the car later today to kick the tires--and kick the salesman for getting my hopes up only to burst my bubble with a stick shift and four on the floor. I may even take a test drive and try to convince myself driving a stick is like riding a bicycle. On second thought, in view of my recent experiences on two wheels, strike that comparison.

So how many of you drive cars with standard transmissions? Did you learn in driver's ed, teach yourself, or did some kind soul take pity on you and instruct you?

My children say I should go for it and get the Cavalier and I can teach them how to drive a stick, as well.

Hmm. Another strike against the little 'cherry'.

You know. It figures. Trigger Happy Halliday is on the hunt for the perfect guy. And me? I'm desperately seeking fuel economy.

It occurs to me that there is something very very wrong with this picture.

'Til next week, kick those tires and light those fires!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Momma, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Hitmen...

When my son, Jack, was three (five years ago...aka - a lifetime) we had this conversation in the car on the way to preschool:

Jack: Mom?

Me (driving the car): What?

Jack (with a sigh that made him seem much older - as if he'd conquered potty-training years before...which he hadn't): It's okay if you die.

Me (swerving for no apparent reason): WHAT?

Jack: It's okay if you die. I'll take care of Margaret.

(It should be noted that Margaret wisely says nothing at this point.)

Me: Um, why is it okay if I die? (Note - this is one of the things one never expects - let alone wants - to hear from their child.)

Jack: Well, Margaret can get a job as a rock star and I can support us by being a superhero Jedi.

Me (after thinking about it. there are worse things he could aspire to, after all): You get dental with that?

It was one of those precious conversations you always remember - kind of a Hallmark/Far Side moment. Now fast forward to present day, or, as it is known, the day before yesterday.

Jack: Mom. I know what I'm gonna be when I grow up.

Me (Trying to put dishes away while feeding two dogs and a guinea pig simultaneously): Oh? You aren't going to be a four-star general then become president like Eisenhower? (Oh by the way, long story that. My son is obsessed with WWII to the point he knows as much as a Ph.D in history. Mental note - monitor his viewing of the History Channel more closely.)

Jack (shaking his head with a sigh as if he's talking to a child): I'm going to be an assassin - like in your books.

Me (dropping dishes and dog food on the floor): What?

Jack: Well, you write about assassins and I'm in your next book as Jackson Bombay, so I've decided that's what I will do.

Me: Um, Jack, it's fiction. Mommy writes fiction. There is no Bombay clan and you are not going to be an assassin. You are going to college.

Jack: What do you mean - fiction?

(It's amazing that my son can pick out a King Tiger German tank from, say, your average, everyday, kitchen-sink sort of tank. He can tell you every rank in the military and what weapons they use. But he doesn't know what fiction is. That's probably my bad.)

Me: I made it all up. There is no Bombay Family. And as far as I'm concerned, there won't be one in real life.

Jack (pondering this for a moment): You mean, you write lies?

Me: No! I write fiction - stuff that isn't true - I make things up and put them in my books.

Jack (pointing a very accusing finger at me): You're a liar! How come you don't get punished for that?

Me: It's not lying. It's imagination. And actually, I get paid to do that.

Jack: You're right Mom. I don't want to be an assassin. I want to be a paid liar like you.

Somehow, in a weird way, this satisfies me.

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

During a Crisis

When we are in a crisis, our true personalities emerge. Suddenly, what is most important to us instantly becomes clear. While it’s interesting to take brief peeks at our true selves, no one honestly wants to be caught in those intense, panic-filled situations. Which explains why I’m nervous about my upcoming trip to San Francisco for the RWA national conference.

I’ve already been tested under fire, not once, but twice, yet I have this distinct feeling, another crisis may be upon me soon. I’m not looking forward to it, either. Seriously, I’ve been there, done that, heard the sirens and smelled the smoke.

And heck, I already know what I deemed most important: My bra.

That’s right . . . my bra. Not my purse, my credit cards, or my new shoes. Nope, my bra.

Some of you know about my good friend/writing partner on my non-fiction projects, Faye Hughes. Well, if you ask her, she’ll swear these crises are my fault. Don’t believe her. You see, Faye sort of has an allergy to … exercise. I’m a power-walker, I try to get in at least three miles a day. Sure, I may give Faye a hard time about getting those muscles moving, but I’m not guilty.

Faye and I went to the PASIC conference in New York a little over a year ago. We had a nice hotel room on the sixtieth floor. It was just around five o’clock, we’d just finished a day of conferencing, and were changing clothes and trying to decide about dinner. Then we hear it, a man’s voice. Since we’re in a hotel room, and Faye swore she hadn’t hidden a man under her bed or in the bathroom, suddenly hearing a man talking was a bit of a shock, especially when you consider I’m standing there half out of my bra. It wasn’t just the voice and my near nakedness, it was what he was saying, which was: “This is an emergency warning. Please stay calm, stay in your rooms until we further investigate the emergency.”

Now, I don’t know about you, when anyone tells me to stay calm, I just about always figure there’s a reason to panic. The first thing I did was make a joke, and refasten my bra. Then I hear it. Fire trucks. Lots and lots of fire trucks. I rush to the window and sure as heck, pulling into the parking below are at least four of those suckers, sirens cranking. My heart tries to play catch up with my pulse and believe me, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that there probably a couple dozen good-looking firemen attached to those trucks.

Faye, looking a bit alarmed, goes and sits down on the edge of the bed. I look at her as if she’s lost her marbles. “What are you doing?”

“I’m doing what they said to do. Staying calm.” She can be such a smart-aleck at times.

I shake my head. “Faye we can’t stay in here.”

“Why not?”

Because I’m sure the elevators aren’t working right now. Which means we’re going to have to take the stairs.”

“Stairs? Oh heck no! They said for us to stay in our rooms.”

I try to stay calm, but I’m failing big time. “That’s what they told the people in the twin towers on 9-11.”

Faye rushes to the window and pulls back the curtain. “On 9-11, there was a plane sticking out of the building. Do you see a plane?”

Right then another fire truck arrives.

So down the stairs we go. There are others doing the same thing that confirms I’m not an idiot. But of course that doesn’t stop Faye from shooting me the evil eye. After we make it about ten flights (amazingly I’m not in as good of shape as I thought I was) we run into a maid going up the stairs. Yup, up! Faye, in all her glory, asks, “Are we on fire?” And she wasn’t’ talking about the muscles in our legs either. Then she looks at me and I know if that woman says no, I’m probably gonna get my butt kicked.

The maid starts laughing. “Oh, no, honey.”

“But the fire trucks and the man’s voice,” I say.

“Oh, they do this all the time. If this place was on fire, I’d be pushing your butts out of the way to get down first.”

The man’s voice comes back on. “Everything is fine.” The laughing maid leaves me with a pissed off friend.

You wouldn’t believe the crap I had to listen to from Faye (for trying to save her life, I might add.) Then she actually accused me of tripping the alarm to motivate her to get some exercise.

Now, fast forward, to our next conference, in a hotel in Dallas--ninth floor. It’s one a.m. and Faye, I, and Teri Thackston are asleep. And darn if that man doesn’t start talking again. Only this time he’s not telling us to stay in our rooms. Basically, he saying, “Get your butts out of bed, find the emergency exit, and get out. Fast.”

The first thing I say is, “I didn’t do it.” And I start laughing. I always go for humor when panicked, but let me assure you, Faye doesn’t have that problem.

She’s a cussing up a storm, as she attempts to find her phone. She is NOT leaving without her phone. I mention her lap top and she stares at me like I’m nuts. “It’s belongs to my work. Let it burn!”

It takes me forever to convince a sleeping Teri that we have to leave. (But the smell of smoke helps.) I’m thinking she’ll want to change out of her Christmas PJs, (I might have teasingly suggested it, (hey, it is July, snowmen aren’t in fashion) but nope she goes in a frenzy searching for her pearls. She’s NOT leaving without her pearls.

Me, while I’m normally a little more modest, I’m cracking jokes and stripping off my PJs, in front of God and everyone, looking for my . . . bra.

Hey, “the girls” aren’t as perky as they used to be, as Teri and Faye can attest to, and if I’m going to be in Dallas with nothing but what’s on my back, that back is gonna include a bra.

We leave the room, Faye, still a cussing, clinging to her phone, Teri in her snowman PJs and pearls, me, with my hair uncombed, still giggling, but my girls are supported. So we start down the nine flights of stairs, with a couple of hundred other people in all states of undress. Some are putting on their makeup as they go, and I swear another lady had her toothbrush in her hand. But Faye really started cussing when we arrived at the hotel lobby/bar and saw everyone calmly sitting around in their business suits having late night cocktails eyeing us strangely. Apparently only two floors had to evacuate due to an electrical fire.

Anyway, Faye and I will be heading off to the RWA conference in San Francisco soon. It won’t happen again, right? Just in case, I’m asking for a room on the lowest floor available and I’m sleeping in my bra.

So what about you? If you were in a hotel room, and you had to evacuate, what item would you grab? What would you take the time to do? How do you react during a crisis?

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Breakdown in Communication

You know, you'd think I'd know how to communicate. After all, I'm a writer and I've held high level executive positions in Corporate America. For goodness sakes, I was a corporate TRAINER before I started writing the documentation for TRAINING. My entire job for the last two years has been nothing but how to communicate effectively.

But sometimes, things are just so far out there for incredibly stupid...that I can't wrap my mind around it fast enough to communicate on the spot. Take the other night for instance. I had received a copy of my first book RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU as released by a Dutch publisher. Pretty cool, right? And of course, I wanted to share the cover with people, but figured I'd never get a great scan of the cover with my regular person scanner I had at home. So a trip to a professional was in order.

So after work one night, I drive to Kinkos and hop inside with my book, and here is the conversation:

Me: Hi. I'd like to get a high quality scan of this book cover.
Kinkos Baby Hitler: I can't do that.
Me: (dumbfounded) Why not?
KBH: Because the publisher owns the rights to that cover.
Me: But it's MY book. I'm sure the publisher wouldn't mind.
KBH: You'd have to have their permission.
Me: (still enormously confused) So you're telling me I can't get a copy of the cover of my own book?
KBH: Nope.
Me: Fine. I'll just go to Staples where they have no problem with things like this.
KBH: Well, if they want to break the law over there, that's their business.

So I stalk out of the store and get into my car, wondering how the heck this went wrong so quickly. What do you mean I can't get a copy of the cover of my book. Then it occurred to me...did he think by saying it was MY book that I meant I had bought it over at B&N and now wanted a copy? Surely, not. But doubt set in so I walked back inside, license ready and started again:

Me: I think there's been a misunderstanding. When I say this is MY book, I mean it. I wrote it. See the name on the front, see the copyright - see my license. No publisher in their right mind is going to have a problem with my advertising my own work.
KBH: (Looks at book cover and at license, then at me) Well, that's a whole different story. But then how many times does that happen?
Me: I don't know. How many times do people come in here wanting to make a copy of someone else's book.
KBH: All the time.

Excuse me??????? Can someone please explain this to me, because that's clearly where I got lost in the process. Why would someone want a copy of another person's book cover? I mean, I could see another author maybe wanting a copy of a friend author if they were putting together joint advertising or something, but then your author friend would already have a jpeg of her covers. the mystery author in me is burning with curiosity. Anyone have any idea what nefarious reasons people are copying others book covers?????

By the way - check out my hard-won jpeg.

Deadly (somewhat Dumbfounded) DeLeon

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Write What You Know

I'd like to welcome Terri Molina with us today. She's smart, witty, and one heck of a writer. On top of that, I just adore this cover. One of my top requirements for a hero is he has to be a good kisser. And just look at this guy and tell me if you don't think he couldn't kiss the clothes right off of you.
Take it away Terri!
* * *
First off I’d like to thank Christie for inviting me to guest on her blog…of course she obviously hasn’t read my other attempts at blogging. Haha
To be honest, I’m not really much of a blogger…and I have three of them. Go figure.
The problem isn’t that I don’t want to blog it’s that I can’t ever think of something to blog about that won’t have the reader’s eyes glazing over. Oh, and there’s also the whole…gotta have a title that’s also a song lyric thing before I start writing. (You’d have to read my other blog to get that) ;-)
So, for the past week or so I’ve been sitting at my computer trying to think about something to blog about. Yeah, I know, I’m a writer. I’m supposed to know what to write about, but really, it’s not as easy as you might think. Writing not only takes talent, it takes patience and a very active imagination. Hey, two out of three ain’t bad. And, there’s my song!! Haha
Anyway when I first started training myself to write, one of the first pieces of advice I saw was you should “write what you know”. Now if I’d taken that advice literally I’d have never written anything interesting, much less salable. The first book I wrote was about a serial killer…nope, I’ve never been one of those. The second book was about a woman whose ex is stalking her using black magic….okay, that one is loosely based on an ex whom my friend claimed was into black magic (which is where the very active imagination came in). But, for the most part I had to learn how to research in order to get in the know. Lucky for me, I have an uncle who believes in that witchcraft stuff…he doesn’t practice it of course, just believes its real (no offense to anyone out there who believes as well). His crazy stories helped build several of the scenes.
Now, when I wrote my novella Her Will His Way I actually had to dig into what I knew…which was nothing. By that I mean, my character Anita is Mexican but knows nothing about her heritage or how to speak Spanish….I could definitely relate to that. I was raised to think that since I was born in the US I had to give up that part of who I am. Heck, even half the people who’ve met me don’t believe I’m full blooded Mexican….must be that Texas accent that throws them off.
There are times I regret not being able to speak Spanish (especially when someone assumes I can and starts chattering away thinking I know what the heck they’re saying). But, as Anita in Her Will His Way says to Antonio, “just because I don’t speak Spanish doesn’t mean I’m any less a Mexican.”
I have to say though, writing this book was also quite a step out of my comfort zone. The editor who had originally requested it had three stipulations. (1) The story had to be contemporary. I generally like to kill people in my books. (2) The story had to be erotic. *gulp* I can write a hot love scene…but boy howdy did that active imagination come in handy here! And (3) the story couldn’t be more than 65 pages. Yeah, that may sound like a lot….but when you’re used to writing 350+ pages….boiling it all down into 1/3 of that ain’t easy! I somehow managed to do it all though and I’m pretty proud of the results. Of course, now my husband and I are starting to get those funny looks from readers who think I’ve written what I know. ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scene Stealer

Most of you guys kind of know that I have a thing for Johnny Depp. Well, it’s not just Johnny. Give me a good-looking sexy pirate and I’m pretty much mush in his hands. And speaking of pirates. . . I’d like to introduce you guys to another of Dorchester’s fabulous writers, Emily Bryan. Her upcoming release, PLEASURING THE PIRATE, is on my must-read list, and I swear it has nothing to do with the hot pirate on her cover. Okay...I'm lying.

Take it away Emily.

* * *

Back when I was singing professional opera, occasionally one of the supernumeraries (spear carriers, we used to call them) would do something to upstage the main characters. (Dare I confess to doing it myself sometimes when I was spear carrier?) It’s not always planned, but it happens.

It happens in fiction too. An unsuspecting writer creates a secondary character to fill a need in the hero or heroine’s life and all of a sudden, the bit part refuses to stand quietly holding the spear. It happened to me when I created my heroine’s mother for PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my July 29th release from Leisure Books.

Meet Isabella Wren, better known as ‘La Belle Wren’ in demimonde circles. That’s right. She’s a courtesan and she’s good at it. She moves in the most exalted circles. As the 18th century counts celebrity, she’s a rock star. She’s bone-deep beautiful, wickedly sensual and calculatingly clever. She’s used to being the center of attention.

Why did I ever think she’d fade into the background until she was needed?

First she began poking her way into the story through my heroine’s memory. Isabella sent Jacquelyn to the finest schools, but couldn’t leave her education totally to the headmistress and her minions. She sent her distant daughter detailed letters schooling her in the art of love. “Ignorance is not always conducive to bliss,” she says.

When I turned in the initial manuscript for PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my editor said, “I love Isabella! She’s outrageous, but she sucks all the air out of the room. You have to tone her down.”

She was right. When ‘La Belle Wren’ made her entrance, the rest of the cast faded a bit. Isabella knows how to ‘take stage.’ But instead of toning her down, I opted for ratcheting my heroine up to meet her. I gave Jacquelyn an extra dollop of her mother’s spine, courage and wit. When the two of them join forces, my formidable pirate hero doesn’t stand a chance.

Isabella was too much fun to let go once PLEASURING THE PIRATE was finished, so she makes an encore appearance in my next book, VEXING THE VISCOUNT, due out March 2009. If you’d like to read an excerpt of both stories, please visit

Thanks, KillerFiction, for giving me a chance to share with your readers about my newest release, PLEASURING THE PIRATE!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The "L" Word

Okay, kids, I have a serious question I need help with today – at what point in a relationship do you say the “L” word. No, I’m not talking about “love”. (Things are way too new for that.) I’m talking about the other “L” word – like. Sure, it’s cool to “like” his car, to “like” the restaurant we went out to, to “like” (or, heck, even love) the movie we just saw. But when applied to the guy you’re out with “like” can be a scary word. Granted, he just sat through The Happening (so freaky – don’t go see it unless you have a lap to jump into during certain scenes) and hardly even flinched, but I can just imagine the terror in his eyes if I bust out with the “L” word.

On the other hand… I’m really starting to like Mr. Big. I found myself thinking about him in the middle of the day yesterday for no reason at all. And had a big goofy grin on my face. It’s to the point where, when I describe him to friends, I’m no longer focusing on his cut abs and gorgeous eyes, but on the way he gets this sort of crooked little half smile thing before it grows into a full-on teeth smile that’s so cute, or the way I melt every time he calls me sweetie. Yep, I’m definitely falling in like.

Which always bring up the big question – does he like me? Honestly? It’s hard to tell. We always have a good time together, he’s very sweet, very much the door-opening, insisting-on-paying-for-everything, holding-my-hand perfect kind of guy. But when we talk it’s more about the real estate deals he’s got going on or the conferences I have coming up or how the Giants are doing this week. Everyday stuff. Not how we may be feeling about each other stuff. No, that kind of talk is danced around very carefully. The word “like” has not entered our vocabulary yet. Ditto that just as scary “R” word – relationship.

And there’s one other thing about Mr. Big. He’s… well… Mr. Big. It took Carrie 7 seasons and one movie of Sex & the City to get her guy. While I’m hoping my Mr. Big isn’t quite that bad, I get the distinct impression he’s not been the settle-down type so far. He knows all the hottest nightclubs in town, can order wine like nobody’s business, has a network of single fun-guy friends he hangs out with. Never married, no kids, no ties. Declined an invitation to meet my family his week - which I was honestly a little bummed about. Every time we’re together, the date screams “fun”… which is great, who doesn’t like fun, right?… but, I don’t see a real inclination toward lasting relationships.

So, while like is growing stronger all the time on my part, I so don’t want to be the George Constanza sitting there professing his true feeling to the zookeeper gal while she retaliates with, “I’m hungry, let’s go eat.” (Can you tell I’ve been doing a lot of small screen research for my TV writing lately?) As Jerry so aptly put it, “What if she doesn’t say she loves you back? That’s a big matzo ball hanging out there.”

I need your collective wisdom on this one, gals. How soon is too soon to say the “L” word?

~Trigger Happy (and sorta smitten) Halliday

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm gonna need a bigger boat!

Okay. I'm late. Tardy. Running behind. Overdue. Forgetful. Hey. Wait a minute. How'd that get in there? But I pinky swear that once you've heard the story behind my laxness at posting today, all will be forgiven and by the end of this post you'll be in awe at my ability to sit at a computer and type a coherent sentence. All right. Semi-coherent.

You see Monday I accepted a job offer with the State. The job is pretty much designed for me. Writer friendly hours. Cool uniform so no stressing about what to wear, what to wear. Doing very classified stuff. As in, if I told you, I'd have to off you.

And it was time to celebrate!

But I had night class Monday night so no chance to Snoopy Dance.
So my daughter and I are driving back from class at 11 P.M. (she's taking a psych class) and we drive right into the middle of one of the worst thunderstorms I'd witnessed and for sure the worst my daughter had ever seen judging from her screams. The lightning was almost non stop and lit up the sky for incredible periods of time. In some respects, I was thankful because the lightning provided the only means of seeing the highway through the torrential downpour. We arrived home safe and sound, but a little freaked out.

And still it rained.

And it rained.

And it rained.

And it rained.

Now you all have heard about the flooding in my neck of the woods. Right? Billions of dollars worth of damage in one of our biggest cities. Well, in the past I've had some not-nice experiences with basement flooding so I kept an anxious vigil over the basement--until about 3 A.M. when I conked.

At 6 the next morning, you could do a backstroke in my basement. Yeah. Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but if you'd had my history with two parts of Hydrogen and one part Oxygen you'd classify 4 inches of water all through the basement as being an Olympic sized swimming pool, too.

Now, I'd had big plans for Tuesday. I was going to celebrate the new job with a nice meal out. Take my kid to see this real cool car we'd seen the day before. Go to the cemetery and collect dead people data for my night class. Finish up a Power Point for another. And write.

Instead, I spent a good portion of the day sucking water out of the basement. You're asking why the heck doesn't she get a sump pump, right? Uh. 'cuz the water ain't groundwater, folks. It's from--the other place. That's right. The sewer.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that it was the water coming into the sewer (i.e. unflushed) pouring into my basement as opposed to the water going out and, therefore, relatively clean.

But I wasn't feelin' lucky.

While the pump was doing its thing I called the car salesman about the car. You know. The car that was being sold to someone else while I was sticking a garden hose through my basement window screen and pointing it down the driveway. That car.

I spent the rest of the day pumping and wet-dry vacuuming until I remembered I didn't have the tombstone data for my lab which was due the next day. I needed at least 200 samplings for my lab. So, my son and I take our clipboards and data sheets to the graveyard that evening and started jotting down birth and death info. It was a good thing nobody else came to the cemetery while I was there. I'm sure as scary as I looked they would have thought it was a remake of the Living Dead.

'I'm coming for you, Barbara.'

Bone dead--uh, let's change that to 'weary', I showered and dropped into bed too tired to do anything with my data of the dead. Wednesday morning rolls around. I have an appointment with a plumber and hours of lab stuff to do before 5.

And a return visit to the wildlife refuge to look forward to.

The same refuge I'd visited three weeks earlier with some unpleasant parting gifts. When I say I had chiggers up the whazoo, folks, I mean it. Too much info? Sorry.

But this week? This week I was determine to best the fiendish parasites. I showered off any trace of my vanilla butter creme body splash, doused myself from head to toe with Deet, and stuck great big rubber bands on the bottom of each pants leg to keep unwanted pests out.
You shoulda heard the snickers when my fellow students got a look at me. But was I ever glad I had taken precautions. I was up to my armpit in prairie plants. You name it. I fought my way through it. I knew just how those early pioneers felt hacking their way through the thick vegetation on their trek across the Great Plains.

But Marquette and Joliet I ain't.

I dragged my rear home and showered again and hit the sheets.

Fast forward to today. I have a hair appointment at 8. A trip to the car dealership at 9:30. I need to mow the lawn before the city Waste Water guys show up right after lunch to show me where my sewer line runs. (I'm a lucky, lucky woman.) I have car insurance to change--my son found a car he liked--plus another trip to the cell phone store to get a new cell phone, mine having gained entry into this country via the Mayflower.

And I haven't bought new underwear for the new job yet! Which is like required for the first day of anything. Right?

So, there you have it. All the reasons why I totally spaced off my blog day until now.

Am I forgiven?

Is there anything crazy going on in your life right now? Any trials and tribulations you'd like to share? Drought? Wild fire? Bed bugs? Any crisis not averted?

Please. Share.

I could use a little cheering up.

~Bullet Hole who has no idea why the spacing is all screwed up here and is too tired to give a rip~

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Suddenly Seymour...

And now, for an update on previous posts, we turn to Leslie Langtry, who, just minutes before was standing next to this plant in her back yard!

By the way, my husband accidentally cut the top off the stalk in the photo - yes Virginia, it really is longer now.

Well, the mystery is solved. Having dinner last night with friends Faye and Kay, Faye told me what this plant is. May I have a drumroll please? Um, a drumroll? HELLO! Oh, whatever.

This is the Great Mullein plant! Ta-da! Aren't you impressed? Originally native to Europe and Asia, the Great Mullein was brought to the U.S. in the 1700's as a medicinal herb for humans, but can also paralyze fish and give rats Parkinson's. How much would you pay? $25? 50? But wait! There's more!

I guess it prefers sandy, loose soil, and full sun - which is weird because it is growing in full shade, between a couple of boulders in midwestern common dirt. Go figure.

It's a two year plant and now that I think of it, we thought it was a hosta last year. In the second year it can shoot up to 10 feet tall, releases it's flowers and dies. Cool huh? And get this, it can cause internal bleeding in humans if 20 pounds or so of the seeds are ingested.

That made me smile. At least it's somewhat fatal. How fitting it should grow in my yard.

I've decided to name it Seymour.
The Assassin

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

He's Cheating On Me!

Yup. Hubby’s cheating. I caught him. In my own bed. I was floored, stunned. I mean, I’d gotten up to run downstairs to check my email. Yeah, I’m addicted to email, and I’ve made this confession before. Not that it means I deserved this to happen. And seriously, I’d only left him a lone for . . . what? Twenty minutes?

And when I snuck out of the bedroom he’d looked content, no signs of any problem. He was relaxed, happy, reading a book on some dead president. But when I came back, and slipped into the room, there he was . . . a big happy smile on his face with Rachel Gibson in his hands. Well, her book in his hands. Then I see it. Resting beside him was Colleen Thompson’s book, as if cheating on me with one author wasn’t bad enough. And I mean, I’m friends with Colleen. How could he do this?

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He gazed up. He didn’t even have the decency to look guilty. “Uh . . . I’m reading.”

“You don’t read romances,” I insisted.

“I read yours.”

Yeah, he did read mine. But only mine. I mean, his tastes run more in line with dead presidents and the ancient Mayan civilization. Honestly, he only started reading mine so he wouldn’t feel so guilty about reading and depositing my checks.

He squirmed a little in the bed. Good, he was finally accepting his guilt.

“What happened to your president?” I pointed to his book left abandoned on his bedside table.

More guilt flashed in his eyes. “Uhh, he died.”

“And that was a surprise?” I asked. “You should have known that when you bought the book, the title The Sixteen President should have clued you in. Besides, someone is going to die in Colleen’s book. They always die and it’s never pretty.”

His gaze shot to Colleen’s book with longing and desire. “Really?”

I snatched Colleen’s book from the bed and put it back on my night stand. His gaze darted back to Rachel’s book. “What about that one.”

“They could die . . . Maybe. She sometimes kills people. But she’s not scary like Colleen.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“Which one?” I asked. Was I jealous? Heck yeah. He’s only supposed to read my romance novels.

“Both,” he confessed.

I sent him “The Look.” You know the one wives have been giving husbands for years.

“You got something in your eye?” he asked.

I hate it when he doesn’t get the look. “You would do this?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Well, you haven’t given me one of your books in a long time.”

Isn’t that just like a man to think of his own needs. “It takes me at least two to three months to write one.”

“So what am I supposed to do? Do without until you have something to hand over?”

“Fine,” I said, “Read them.” I tossed him Colleen’s book, and Rachel’s. “And here, try T.J. Bennett.” I dug into my to-be read stack. “I’ll bet you might enjoy Nina Bangs, Gerry Bartlett, Teri Thackston, Gemma Halliday, Leslie Langtry, Kathy Bacus and wait, give this one a going over.” And I toss him Jana Deleon’s latest.”

He grabbed the books and stacked them around him as if they were his harem. Then he looked at me with a smile and said, “Hon’, I’m sure they’ll not mean near as much to me as your books.”

“Because I’m special to you, right?” Hey, I needed some assurance.

“No,” he said. “Because I’m not going to get to cash their royalty checks.”


So…what books are on your night stand? If you’re a writer, does your husband read your books? Does he cheat on you with other authors? Should I be honored that I made a romance reader out of him?

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, July 07, 2008

Adults Say The Darndest Things

For some reason, over the weekend, I starting remembering times when adults said funny things - or sometimes not funny things and I was mulling over how humor is very subjective and situational humor seems to be funnier than just telling jokes. Take these examples:

In high school, I had a friend whose dad had remarried to a MUCH younger woman. The woman got pregnant and my grandma heard about it at church. So I was at grandma's house and the conversation went something like this:

Grandma: Myrtle told me today at church that new wife of John Brown's is pregnant.
Me: Yep.
Grandma: What in the world is John Brown thinking, having another kid at his age? Why I was shocked when I heard it.
Me: So was John. He had a vasectomy years ago.

See - that's funny. Well, maybe not for John, but the expression on grandma's face was priceless.

Then take this one:

At one of my former jobs, I worked for fundamentalist christians - and huge hypocrites. These people most likely thought I was going to hell for having a tattoo and riding a motorcycle, but immediately after forwarding Bible versus to me, they'd ask me to do something like pirate software. Well, one day we were having staff lunch and the subject of the then newly released BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN came up. Of course, the Christians were appalled. So the secretary (who was from up north) decides she's going to try and be funny and says "You know John Wayne was gay too."

Uh, no. Not funny. This is Texas and even the Christians are pretty sure John Wayne is sitting at the right-hand side of God.

My comeback: "You know, saying John Wayne was gay is like saying Billy Graham isn't a Christian."

That's funny. Work at it people.

Then there's those times that are just priceless, like when I worked with this woman who was mega-petite, but nine months pregnant and alllllllllllll stomach. So a new girl started at work and we were standing in the breakroom talking and she asked pregnant girl when she was due. Pregnant girl stared at her with this dirty look and said "what are you talking about?"


Or if all of you want to try one, and can keep a straight face, use this one on someone today.

Fix your hair up different and as soon as someone says "Your hair looks really good today." Shoot back with "What was wrong with it yesterday?" Then watch them stutter.

Anyone else have a great one-liner or joke they like to play on people?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, July 06, 2008

YouTube Sunday!

Got some great videos this week, but the winner by far is this awesome one sent in from Marc. It's called "Where The Hell Is Matt?" and it's even got its own website here: Maybe not gut-busting funny, but WAY cool. And even a little inspiring.

And, I just had to post this from Matt's site. It's under his "Less Frequently Asked Questions" section:

Q. Why is the world so screwed up?
A. Men.
Q.How do we fix it?

I like Matt. :)

Next week I'm giving away an advanced reader copy of Eve Kenin's Hidden to the person who sends me the best YouTube video, so send them over!

Friday, July 04, 2008


The coolest thing ever happened to me this week.

As some of you may know, California has been inundated with wildfires this season. Generally we have a few – hey, it’s really hot and dry here in the summers – but this year, we’ve had non-stop fire everywhere. At one point there were 1,100 separate fires burning in Northern California alone. And a lot of those have been near where I live. Luckily, I’m only near the fire zone, and not in it, so my house has been relatively safe. But the smoke has been like a thick, gray cloud hanging over us for days. It makes for a really eerie sci-fi like yellow hue over everything with a blood red sun in the middle. Very surreal. Very stinky. Very bad for breathing.

Because of our seriously out of control fire situation, Governor Schwarzenegger has asked people to reconsider their fireworks use this forth of July. On the one hand, I totally agree. The last thing we need are more amateur firebugs setting the hills ablaze. But, on the other hand, the professional displays are generally very safe and… they’re pretty! As much as I’m for anything that helps get rid of the constant smoke layer, it will not be July 4th for me without fireworks.

So, I went on a mission to find one place in the area that is still having their annual display tonight.

Usually I go to the amusement park where they have a really killer professional display every year. Nope – this year, canceled. I checked over in Santa Cruz – fireworks on the beach, awesome. Nope – canceled this year, too. I was beginning to hate that Terminator guy. After checking every place in town I found that the Giants were doing a fireworks display after the baseball game… but it was on Wed, the 2nd instead of actually on the fourth. Hmmm… close. But I wasn’t sure they would carry over two days to give me my Independence Day fix.

I was just about to give up and go buy a handful of little sparklers instead, when I tried one last place and found the perfect display. An outdoor concert venue near the bay where they were having a symphony play patriotic music along with a gigantic fireworks display. Yes! I went to their website, clicked through the process to buy tickets, and… sold out. Noooooo!

So (after hitting the back button and trying two more times just in case they really did have tickets left but I was just ordering them wrong. Nope. Still sold out.) I fired up Google and went searching for anyone who might be scalping them online. Yeah, I’m not above that. I found one guy with two tickets who wanted $250 for the pair. Originally, they were $25 a piece. And I needed four. Ouch. I kept looking.

Then, miracle of miracles, I found a listing on Craig’s List of a guy with 4 tickets to get rid of. Score! The only catch… he didn’t want to sell them for cash, he wanted to trade.

I stared at the listing, trying to figure out just what kind of trade he was looking for. Was this code for something? What exactly did he want? (Briefly I wondered if he took a ladies size seven shoe… ) But, out of other options, I emailed him anyway.

The next morning I woke up to find a response in my inbox. Yay! I clicked it open and saw he’d sent two emails. The first said he was looking to trade anything valuable for the tickets – gift cards, other event tickets, merchandise – “Make me an offer,” he said. My eyes strayed around my room. Did I have anything valuable enough to trade for these sold-out, scalpable tickets? A spare lamp? A chipped vase? An old used cell phone? (Wow, I really need to redecorate in here.)

Realizing I had nothing of value to trade, I’d pretty much given up hope of seeing fireworks as I clicked open his second email.

And could hardly believe my eyes. Apparently he’d seen my website addy in the signature line of my email and been to my website, because he said, “Tell you what, I’ll trade you the tickets for a signed book.” I blinked, re-reading it. Then immediately wrote back, “sold!”

So, thanks to a couple signed copies of Undercover in High Heels, I’m going to see fireworks tonight! Woohoo! It’s moments like these that make all those painful hours hunkered over the keyboard worth it. Who knew I could trade books for concert tickets? This opens up a world of possibilities… I wonder if there are any readers out there with spare Bon Jovi tickets…

Happy Independence Day everyone!!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Thanks for the tickets, Howard! You rock!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I’m just back from my stroll around the cemetery. I’m walking longer distances now and doing it at a faster clip. Plus I’m not gasping for breath like I did when I started a month ago. So, progress.

I’m not a fan of bathroom scales. In fact, I don’t even own one. I’ve had the same weight on my driver’s license for twenty-five years and as far as I could tell, the driver’s license clerks weren’t poking each other in the ribs and chuckling or doing eye rolls every time I replied, “No” when they asked if height or weight had changed. And negative. I don’t plan to divulge what weight is on my driver’s license, but thanks for asking.

As far as managing my weight, I generally know it’s time to cut back on the junk food when I need a wire coat hanger to get my jeans’ zipper up. Barring that, I’m good to go.

This week I was antsy and in the mood to put something--anything--in my life in order so I decided to declutter my bedroom closet. I love my closet. Big, but not too big, with built in storage areas along the entire wall. I grab my step stool, climb up, and survey one of the storage areas where I keep my jeans and slacks. I love jeans. And I tend to hold on to them longer than I should--as evidenced by the number of straight legs jeans I found stowed away in my closet. I hauled the clothes down and put them on my bed and decided to try each pair of jeans on before I decided whether to keep them or toss ‘em. Well, with the exception of the straight leg jeans. I basically gave them the heave-ho. I don’t care that people say they’re coming back in style. It’s boot cut or flare for this gal--or nothing at all.

It was when I started trying on jeans that the fun began. I tried the first pair on and frowned. They were too big. Strange. I tried another pair on. Same thing. If I cinched a belt tight enough to keep my pants in place, I’d have ‘jean pucker’ around my waist. I went through the whole stack of jeans and found about five that fit.

Since it had been awhile since I weighed myself, (think years) I pulled out my daughter’s scale, made sure it was adjusted correctly, took a deep breath, and stepped up. Since I rarely weigh myself, I took the precaution of peering through my fingers to view the number. I couldn’t believe it! I’d lost TEN pounds.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much when you see the dramatic ‘Biggest Loser’ weight losses and transformations, but for me it’s huge! I’d undertaken my ‘shape up’ program with the objective of getting ‘heart healthy’ and toning and firming--not dropping pounds so it was an unexpected bonus. And positive proof that walking is great exercise for those of us ‘of a certain age’.

And I couldn’t close this post without acknowledging the fact that tomorrow is our nation’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!

Other than my customary walk or bike ride, I have no big plans. This year will be somewhat different. One daughter is visiting friends out of state and one son is working. Normally we go to my brother’s house or cook out and watch the fireworks from our front yard. It’ll be strange this year, but that’s what happens when the younguns grow up.

‘Things change, Kathy,’ I remind myself. ‘And you have to adapt. It’ll give you time to write. Or read.’

I’m not sure I like this ‘growing up’ stuff. I thought I would. Now I’m not so sure.

What plans have you made to celebrate Independence Day? Any traditions you hold to each year? Any special place you are planning to travel?

Be safe, be happy, and celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on earth!

Have a wonderful 4th!

~Bullet Hole~