Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Release Day To Me


Alibi in High Heels is out now! (Picture me happy dancing around the room with margarita in one hand and a copy of Alibi in the other.) This is the fourth adventure in the life of Maddie Springer, fashion designer turned crime fighter, and by far the most fun for me to write. In this one, Maddie is invited to show at Paris Fashion Week, but, when a top model is murdered, she suddenly finds herself the prime suspect, sending her on an international adventure across Europe to prove her innocence. And, of course, her usual cast of eclectic friends and family are there to help along the way, including her over-sexed best friend Dana, her fashion challenged mom, the overweight Jewish psychic Mrs. Rosenblatt, everyone’s favorite tabloid reporter, Felix, and her hot-tempered hot-tamale, Detective Ramirez. And, from the few reader’s that have already got their hands on a copy, I’ve heard this one ends with quite a bang. ;)

Here’s a sneak peak at the beginning:

***

Jean Luc Le Croix, the hottest new European fashion designer, asked me, little ‘ol me, to come show my shoes in his fall runway collection at Paris Fashion Week.
Paris!

I had died and gone to heaven.

Not surprisingly, I first had a mild heart attack, then did an imitation of the six-year-old-Ritalin-addict.

What was surprising, however, was my boyfriend, Ramirez's, reaction to my news of the century.

“You’re going where?” he asked.

“Paris.” I sighed the word, visions of the Eiffel Tower dancing in my head.

Ramirez rolled over in bed to face me, his dark eyebrows drawn together. “What do you want to go to Paris for?”

“Are you kidding?” I sat up, covering my bare self with a sheet. Even though we’d been dating off and on for over a year now, I still had my modest moments around Ramirez. Probably due to the fact that I never quite knew what was going on behind those hooded eyes of his.

Detective Jack Ramirez was a homicide detective with a very big gun, a very big attitude, and a very big… well, let's just say that certain parts of his anatomy weren't entirely lacking in the size department either. He was tall, with a compact build that was all tight muscles and hard angles. Dark hair, dark brown eyes, and a dark intense look about him that made men wary and women drool. One white scar cut through his left eyebrow and he had a black panther tattooed on his bicep, the sleek, powerful lines of its back rippling along Ramirez's arm as he propped his head up on one hand, waiting for my answer.

“Why wouldn't I want to go to Paris? It's the fashion capital of the world! The home of haute couture, Chanel, Dior. The Eiffel Tower!”

“Where will you be staying?”

“Jean Luc has set up rooms for all of us involved with the show. We’ll be at the Plaza Atheneé. It’s all taken care of.”

“Do you even speak French?”

I waved him off. “I know how to ask where the bathroom is and, 'How much do those shoes cost?' I'll be fine."

"Hmph." Ramirez grunted, then shifted his weight, his half of the bed sheet slipping down his bare torso, exposing a six pack to make Budweiser jealous.
For a moment I completely forgot what we were talking about.

“How long?”

“What?” I snapped my eyes back up to meet his.

“How long will you be gone?”

“Oh. Uh, a couple of weeks. Three at the most. Jean Luc wants me there to help set up, and then of course I’ll be there for the full Fashion Week. Maybe a few days after to help him pack up.”

Ramirez shook his head. “I’m not thrilled about this.”

“Come on, Jack. Why not?” Had he not heard the Paris part?

“Maddie, I don’t like the idea of a woman being in a foreign country all by herself.”

If the statement hadn't been so blatantly chauvinistic, I might have been touched by his concern.

“I won’t be all by myself. There are tons of people involved with the show. Models, producers, designers. Besides, most of the time I’ll be with Jean Luc.”

“Jean Luc.” Ramirez mulled over the name. “I’m not sure that makes me feel any better.”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous?” I asked coyly, reaching one finger out and tracing a line down Ramirez's granite chest.

He grinned. “Of a guy named Jean Luc? You’re kidding, right?”

I gave him a playful swat. “Well, don’t be. You have no idea what kind of work goes into Fashion Week. I’ll be lucky if I have time to sleep, let alone ogle the male models.”

Ramirez narrowed his eyes at me. “Male models? Now you are trying to make me jealous.”

I swatted him again. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”

“And, what about me?” He gave my sheet a teasing tug.

“What about you?”

“I’m not sure I’ll be fine. Two weeks is a long time for a guy like me to be alone.”

“I’m sure you’ll manage.”

“I don't know." He traced a finger down my bare arm, leaving a trail of goosebumps. "I’m getting kind of lonely just thinking about it.”

"You're a big baby, you know that?"

His grin widened. "All right. I give in. I'll survive while you go make your shoes and visit the Eiffel Tower."

"Really?" I squeaked. Okay, fine, so I was totally going to go anyway. I mean, come on, it's Paris! But, it was nice to know he wasn't going to fight me on it.

"Really." He paused. "Under one condition."

I arched an eyebrow at him. "One condition?"

Ramirez let his gaze stray down to the thin, white sheet covering my barely B's. He gave it one of those long, X-ray vision stares. "Uh huh." He nodded. Then, broke into his patented Big Bad Wolf smile – all big teeth like he was going to eat me up any second. "Tonight, you're all mine."

A shiver hopped down my spine, ending somewhere south of my belly button. I did a dry gulp. Then nodded.

And dropped the sheet.

***

I hope you enjoy Alibi in High Heels!
As for me, I’m off to work already on Maddie’s next adventure…

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Past due for a new 'do'...Bullet Hole Needs a Makeover!

There are some real 'girly girls' here at Killer Fiction. I'm not mentioning any names. They know who they are. These fashion mavens know just what to wear and when to wear it, how to accessorize without looking like a walking flea market, and instinctively know just what hairstyles suit them. I hate girly girls. Okay, so that may be a bit harsh. I don't really hate them (most of the time). In fact, I'm rather envious. You see, I have the glamour sense of Joan of Arc.

You've heard that song, I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool? That described me throughout high school. Blue jeans. Cowboy boots. Even ruffled western shirts. Heck. My horse, Waco, didn't care if I looked like a feminized version of Roy Rogers.

All hope was not lost, however, as I headed off to college. College was where you 'found yourself'. Discovered who you were and developed an individualized style. Unfortunately, since the style was still blue jeans (this time paired with tennis shoes and t-shirts) I made very little progress towards finding that elusive style.

Next came the time period I refer to as the dark age of dress. My years as a state trooper. I loved the job--was so proud to wear that uniform. But at a time where I should be learning how to put outfits together in a way that didn't scream 'clueless!", it was all done for me. The only input I had was my bra, panties, and brand of white t-shirt. (J.C. Penney's carried the best quality white t-shirts, by the way--the collars didn't stretch out like the cheaper brands.)

And there were the hair and jewelry issues to contend with. As you can see, in the picture my hair touches my collar. A no-no on duty. So, I had to either wear my hair 'butch' short--(I looked like a boy the first year) or pull it up under my Smokey Bear hat and go around with 'flat top' whenever I took my hat off. Ultimately, however, 'flat top' won out over 'butch'. But with someone else dressing me for success each day, I had little opportunity to work on this important skill.

Next came my job as an investigator with the Attorney General's Office where I finally got to try my hand at putting together the complete package of a professional woman (sans brown shirt and gun belt accessories). And then I got pregnant and my clothes selections were limited to what I could purchase off the rack at Des Moines Tent and Awning. And so it went.

Then, I sold some books. And had to look like someone who wrote books. And be able to get up in front of people and talk about those books. And attend writing conferences and workshops. And--OMG--wear a formal dress! I'd worn two long dresses in my entire life up to this point. One, in high school where I dropped a meatball on the top of my off-white ruffle and it rolled down the length of my dress leaving a trail of red sauce in its wake. And two, my wedding dress. And we won't go there. So, the idea of actually picking out a formal dress and jewelry to go with it and actually wear the thing almost paralyzed me. Still, I managed (with the help of good friends) not to embarrass myself too much at those events that called for a bit of sophistication and some glamour. Okay, so glamour may be stretching it.

But lately I've been feeling like ol' Bullet Hole here needs a big change. Maybe it has to do the gray hair I can no longer get away with referring to as 'natural highlights'. Maybe it has to do with being sick to death of winter and wanting something to perk me up. Maybe it's because I'm just sick and tired of looking at the same face in the mirror day in, day out. So, I've decided I need a radical change. I've worn my hair the same way since--well, since that trooper photo was taken. I'm just a little apprehensive. Several years ago I tried this. I told the stylist I wanted something different. Exotic. I left looking like a zebra who'd done the fork in the toaster number. So not what I meant when I suggested something 'exotic'.

But that won't dissuade me. For my birthday next month, I'm giving myself a makeover. I'm determined to try something new and dramatic. Make a statement that says, Bullet Hole's breaking out of her funk!

I just need one thing from you guys.

PLEASE! FOR GOD'S SAKE! TALK ME OUT OF IT!

~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Spring Fever: Babysitting Fifi

I've never met a cat I couldn't learn to love, but I have met a few that the learning process took a lot more effort. Fifi was one of those.

With her elegant grace, she reminded me of a feline version of Marilyn Monroe. Just as Marilyn's ethics were, and still are, often in question, Fifi has raised a few eyebrows herself.

It's hard to admit being outwitted, outsmarted and plain old outdone by a house cat, but to pretend anything different would only make me look worse.

She isn't my cat, thank God for small favors. She belongs to my neighbors, but I did, however, get roped into caring for her while her owners were out of town. I was also to feed Granddaddy, the goldfish. Of course, thanks to Fifi, the job was cut in half.

In Fifi's defense, her owners would like for me to state that none of the following incidents were actually Fifi's fault. She suffered from an affliction called spring fever. This fever, I am told, leads to variable degrees of erratic and naughty behavior. The result of the affliction, kittens, is what her owners wanted to avoid.

In my own defense, I'd like to state that her owners failed to warn me of the severity of Fifi's problem. Oh sure, they requested that I not let their baby go outside. They didn't tell me that Fifi, a natural escape artist, made Houdini look like an amateur. They never mentioned her weird behaviors could result in the demise of other household pets, or that she was capable of scheming breakout-plans that could be sold to the inmates at high-security penitentiaries.

The first week I'd go over twice a day to disperse food and attention between the feline and Granddaddy. The fish was always happy to see me. Fifi not so much.

The next few days her cold-shoulder routine turned into something a tad less becoming--howling. I know cats aren't supposed to howl, but believe me, Fifi did a grand job of it. I proceeded to inform her that such yowling was not lady-like behavior. However, I soon learned that Fifi was no lady.

Remembering how my neighbors warned about Fifi's attempts to slip outside, I would always open the door just the needed crack so I could turn sideways and squeeze in. Much to my insult, the cat learned that my needed squeeze-in space was larger than her needed slip-out space. The cat waited until I painfully reduced my bust-size a notch as I squeezed inside, and then she made her get away.

I made a mad dash after her. Fifi headed straight for the tree. Throwing caution and good sense to the wind, I climbed after her.

I'd almost reached her when she decided to jump. I decided to follow. I forgot the theory about cats always landing on their feet, or rather, I forgot that humans don't possess the trait. My pants leg caught on a limb and I belly-flopped on a very thin cushion of new spring grass. My breast size was once again reduced a notch.

While I gasped for air, Fifi ran to the edge of a wooded lot where two toms awaited her arrival. She glanced back at me. The wind picked up her long fur and blew it across her face, she wiggled her tail, sending tempting signals to her admirers. At that moment, I felt certain she wasn't just a feline version of Marilyn Monroe, she was the reincarnation, and one, if not both, of those toms were Kennedys.

Fifi returned later wearing a contented glow. That evening Fifi and I had a talk. Frustrated at her lack of interest, I took her to the fish bowl, pressed her nose against the tank and told her she should take a few behavioral lessons from Granddaddy.

Looking back, I probably shouldn't have done that. Because the next day Granddaddy had disappeared. That night I found him buried face down in the kitty litter. While I gave him a three-flush-salute burial, I wondered how I was going to explain this to my neighbors. I just hoped that Fifi's adventure didn't need to be explained.

Little did I know, the adventures weren't over. One morning while changing the litter box I opened the window. Now it was an upstairs window and had a sturdy screen. After turning my back for a few moments I found the screen ripped apart and Fifi missing. Worried the land-on-your-feet rule might have failed her, as it had me, I made a mad dash down the stairs. Just as I yanked opened the door, a conniving Fifi, who hadn't jumped, skittered from beneath a chair and flew outside to meet the awaiting Kennedy brothers.

Her next ploy was the old play-deathly-ill trick. Draped off the sofa, she could hardly raise her head, barely breathe. Realizing I already had to explain the demise of one pet, not wanting to make it two, I wrapped her in a blanket to rush her to a vet. The moment I was outside Fifi suddenly regained her strength and rejoined the political party.

Through the next few weeks she brilliantly managed to escape the cat carrier, rip open several more screens, reduce my bust-size a few more notches, and play mind games with my head.

By the time her owners returned I'd thrown in the towel and was simply opening the door and letting her out. Let's face it, we'd had a battle of wits and she'd won. Somewhere along the line, I'd even begun to admire her intelligence.

I'm sure you can guess the outcome. Fifi was pregnant...again. Anyway, consider this my good deed for the week. If you have kitties, get them fixed, it will save you, Fifi, and perhaps anyone you ask to pet sit, a whole heck of a lot of trouble.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gemma’s Oscar wrap up

Show of hands – who watched the Oscars last night? Me, I was glued to the TV from 3pm when Ryan Seacrest was standing in the shrubs beside an empty red carpet to the moment Barbara Walters finished her last post-show celebrity interview. The excitement, the drama, the fashions – I loved it all! My best friend Suze and have compiled a list of a few of the evening’s highlights and lowlights:

Highlight:
The dresses! OMG – they were all fabulous. Color was definitely in this year, did you see all those red dresses? Jewelry tended to be understated, (except Nicole Kidman who looked like she robbed an entire jewelry store before going on stage) but the one-shoulder was the look of the evening. I was not totally crazy about the “butt huge-ing dresses” (as Suze and I dubbed them) that seemed to have an extra layer of fabric right around the derriere. Cameron Diaz – a toothpick skinny gal – was one of the butt huge-ing victims last night. Not uber flattering, girl. But, I absolutely loved Marion Cotillard’s mermaid dress, and Katherine Heigl looked so old Hollywood chic I sighed out loud. One of my favs, Helen Mirren’s gorgeous red gown – glamorous, blingy, but perfectly appropriate and simply elegant.



The worst of the bunch was a tie between Daniel Day Lewis’s wife (Those silly red bow straps and that gawdy jeweled looking thing on the front of her dress. Honey, it’s the Oscars, splurge for a stylist next time!) and Tilda Swinton (a gorgeous woman who showed up in a black shiny potato sack with one arm cut off. As Suze said: Kudos on the Oscar – maybe now you can afford the other sleeve!)



Lowlight:
Music cutting into acceptance speeches! Is it just me, or did it seem like they cut the speeches of all ‘non-important’ winners this year? Whatever happened to giving people their 15 minutes of fame? At fifteen seconds the most important moment in their careers was cut short with swelling elevator music. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone puts a hit out on the orchestra. Huge kudos to Jon Stewart for bringing Marketa Irglova (Original Song winner) back out on the stage to give the acceptance the orchestra robbed her of.

Highlight:
That a tattooed former exotic dancer really can win an Oscar. And in leopard print no less! Diablo Cody for best original screenplay with Juno. (Now, tell me that’s not a great stripper name?)

Lowlight:
What the heck was on the floor that everyone kept slipping on? Love the way Colin Farrell played it off, but seriously, couldn’t someone have mopped up first?



Highlight:
Best presenter of the evening – Miley Cyrus. There is no way that girl is fifteen. I think she came out of the womb performing. Serious seasoned veteran.

Lowlight:
Worst presenters – a tie between Jennifer Hudson (more deer in the headlights than Bambi) and Katherine Heigl (love her as I do, never start out a speech by saying ‘Wow, I’m probably gonna blow this one’).

Highlight:
The flashbacks to previous Oscar years. I loved reliving some of my favorite past Oscar moments and seeing the legendary ones that came before my time. Didn’t Shirley Temple look adorable? I think the Oscar statue was bigger than she was!

Lowlight:
No Oscar (again!) for Johnny Depp. And didn’t he look hot sitting there with his little goatee and glasses? Sweeney Todd was one of my favorite movies last year and I was yelling at the screen when he didn’t go home with a shiny gold guy. Is it just me, or does the academy tend to snub all the films that I’ve actually heard of? Suze’s take: An Oscar is a consolation prize for the actors and movies that don’t make any money.

Highlight:
Best couple: Steve Carell and Nancy Wells. Not only did they look spectacular, they have red carpet banter down to a science and actually looked like they were having a great time together.



Lowlight:
Worst couple – George Clooney and his Barbie doll. Don’t get me wrong, George is a good looking man at any age. But there’s a point where dating a women that much younger than you just starts to look silly. As Suze so aptly put it, “Wasn’t it nice of him to bring his granddaughter to the Oscars?”

One more note – neither high or low – but I found odd. Not one of the acceptance speeches I heard (granted, I was yelling at the screen during some (poor Johnny!), so I may have missed a few lines) thanked God last night. Not that I’m telling people who to thank, but he’s usually the first one in the speeches, right before Mom and their seventh grade drama teacher. Apparently God has become lass fashionable this year.

Okay, that’s my snarkalicious Oscar wrap. Dish gals, what was your favorite or most screen-yelling moment of the show?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Pirates I Have Dated

Yes, I have dated pirates. Plural.

Of course there was the one legged man who, before completely blowing me off, instantly made me think of peg legs and salty seas. But, short limbed as he was, I’ll admit, he wasn’t really a pirate.

Then there was this actor that I used to see who was actually in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. He rubbed dirty elbows with Johnny Depp for weeks, pillaging and plundering the set until the extras all swooned. And, while his acting was top notch, I have to be honest. He wasn’t a real pirate either. (Yep, that’s really him. Trust me, totally hottie before wardrobe and make-up got to him!)

But, there is a another pirate.

This guy writes to me online. His pictures and profile are so atrocious that I blow him off. He writes again. And again. Finally he catches me in a weak (and caffeine deprived) moment and I agree to meet him for coffee. I get there, get my latte, and wait for him to arrive. He’s late, he got lost, calls me for directions. Sigh. I talk him in and finally he walks in the door. And, wow, am I sorry I spent days blowing him off. He’s adorable! Beautiful blue eyes (you girls know what a sucker I am for those), great smile, and fit. I mean super fit. He looks like he likes the gym way more than I do. I’m getting kind of excited now.

The date goes well, and – miracle of miracles – he actually calls the next day! He’s free that night, do I wanna go out to a movie? Normally, I like at least one day’s notice so I can go buy a cute new pair of shoes for a hot date, but since I really want that second date with him, I agree. He shows up looking yummy, smells great, whisks me off to a movie where he holds my hand the whole time. (Hear that? That’s my little heart going pitter patter.) I’m really starting to like this guy.

After the movie instead of going straight home, we sit and talk for awhile. A long while. Like, deep soul searching talk. (Ohmigod, he’s cute and he has a soul! Score!) I’m starting to get excited. I’m picturing kisses at sunset, long nights holding hands under the stars, white tulle, lace, and baby’s breath bridal bouquets. (What can I say, I have a vivid imagination.) And just when I’m picturing how beautiful our blue-eyed children would be… the bomb drops.

As we’re sitting in the semi-darkness, total romantic mood simmering in the air, he turns to me, stares deep into my eyes and tells me… he’s a pirate.

A what, now?

At first, I’m thinking he’s kidding. Like, “Oh, watch out me lady, or I’ll plunder ya’.” I giggle.

But he’s got that deadpanned face. He’s totally serious.
He tells me, “No, I was actually a modern day pirate.”

Me, I’m still a little sure he’s kidding. (Seriously, he’s so cute. Please tell me he’s kidding!) I say, “So, did you have a parrot?” Haha.

He shakes his head. Still deadpanned. “No. I had guard dogs.” He proceeds to tell me about his days on the ocean, living in his boat with his two viscous dogs. About how he would sail up to yachts on the open sea and board them, guns drawn, then steal whatever he wanted and sail away. Oh. My. Freaking. God. He really is a pirate!

At this point, all pitter pattering has silenced, the only thing running through my head, “Help!Help!Help!” I do big exaggerated yawn. (Wow, is getting late or are you just a PIRATE?!) and beg off further confessions with a “got an early morning ahead”. Thankfully, Captain Sparrow gets the hint and takes me home.

If I don’t post next week, you know he came back, kidnapped me, and has made me his wench.

Pass the rum.

~Trigger Happy Halliday


P.S. Michele L. – You’ve won last week’s signed copy of Dreams & Desires Vol. 1! Email me with your mailing address and I’ll get it out to you ASAP. gemmahalliday at gmail dot com.

P.P.S. – Check out my new interview at Romance Novel TV: http://romancenovel.tv

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Fine Art of Writing Humor...No Matter What

Imagine this. You’re an actor. You’re up for a serious role. You’ve researched the part. You know the plot inside and out. You’re prepared. Confident. You get up to audition. And someone passes gas in an unusually loud manner and you begin to laugh. And you laugh and you laugh and you laugh. And you can’t even stop long enough to deliver the lines you have studied so diligently. Can’t perform your audition. Can’t engage in your craft. You leave the audition telling yourself, “If only it had been a comedy…”

Sometimes as a writer of humor, I feel that way. Only in reverse. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing stories with a comedic tone. But we all know real life is rift with moments that are far from fun. Or funny. Yet, in spite of the slings and arrows life shoots, comedy and humor writers still have to think--and write--funny. No matter what.

For example. I had great hopes of finishing the last fifty pages of my latest Calamity Jayne caper this past weekend. What happened? Oh come on. By now, you all should know the answer to that question. That’s right. SNOW! Heavy, wet, back-breaking SNOW. Now, for someone who has forgotten what it feels like not to wear a set of thermals beneath her clothing, who has had to shovel snow off the roof in a freaking blizzard, and who is already openly at war with Mother Nature, another snow event tends to make that person rather grumpy.

So Sunday afternoon I donned my Michael Myers coveralls once again, went out and shoveled my guts out, came back in overheated, my hair plastered to my head, my lips muttering some not-nice things about Iowa. In my office, Tressa Turner called out via an open Word file, “Get in here and help me solve this bloody mystery!” I made an about face and headed to the kitchen to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Monday morning I awoke, determined to make up for lost time. I had just made a cup of decaf coffee and sat down at the computer when one of my daughters tracked me down.

“I can’t get into my car,” she said. “The doors are frozen shut.”

“All four of them?” I asked.

She nodded.

I pull on the old coveralls (it’s like -25 wind chill) and grab a great big honking screwdriver and go out to break into a car. Unfortunately, I discover not only have the doors frozen shut, but the locks, as well. Two hours later I managed to get the car unlocked, pried open one of the doors, got in and turned the key, and--you guessed it. Nothing.


I went back into the house. Tressa Jayne was still nagging me to write a funny, romantic scene for her and Ranger Rick. Meanwhile, I looked out the front door and discovered the city snow plow had buried my sidewalk under chunks of heavy ice and snow. Again. (See photographic proof)

I took my shovel and went back out and clear what I’d cleared before, shaking my shovel rather than a fist at the city snow plow operator as he drove by on the other side of the street burying my neighbors’ walks this time around.

Still fifty pages from ‘the end’ I sat down at the computer.

“Well?” Tressa said. “I’m waiting.”

“Me, too,” I told her.

“For what?” Tressa asked.

“To feel funny,” I said.

“Get over it,” Tressa ordered. “I want my friggin’ love scene. Get to it or I’ll snarf your Godiva chocolate and hide your cuddle duds.”

Now that’s what you call motivation.

So, when life is giving you a hard time, what tips do you have to help lighten the mood?

Chocolate is a given…

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now Is The Winter Of Our !@#$#*!!! Discontent...

I'm sooo sick of advisories; snow advisories, wind advisories; flood advisories, low temp advisories, Godzilla attack advisories - and these are just the ones in February and the !@#$%$# month ain't over yet! Damn Groundhog.

My husband, in an attempt to distract me from constantly bitching about the weather, saw fit to get me a new phone. I'd been asking for the new nV for a while now because the man has a thing for sending me long winded text messages from the road on his keyboard outfitted blackberry. Normally on my old phone, it took me half an hour to reply back with a one-word expletive and the demand that he call me instead.

So, I got my phone. It's great having the keyboard - makes texting easier the aforementioned expletive and demand that he call me much easier. The only problem is, when I was going through the phone numbers to delete old ones, I noticed two for people I didn't seem to know.

Which is weird, because I'm so lazy about technology that I usually don't enter a number unless a)it's my mother's or even more importantly - my hairdresser's or b) someone is holding a gun to my head (you know who you are). So why do I have two numbers from people I don't even know?

My first impulse was to ask my husband if he knew who "Brad" and "Janet" (not the real names - I don't want to look like a total ass in case whoever the hell they are read this) are. He had no clue. The numbers didn't even look familiar except for the fact they are local. Okay, so when Bernie and Michelle were over to watch NASCAR on Sunday (as part of their evil plan to hook me on the sport - nice job, by the way) I asked them if I knew who Brad and Janet were. After looking at me funny, they said they didn't know. The next night, I had dinner with Mom and Steve, so I asked them. I mean, come on - Mom oughta know, right?

Turns out, my mother doesn't know me as well as I think she should. I'm devising a quiz to take care of that and if she gets the first one right I won't even hook her up to the rusty car battery for the rest of the questions.

So, I'm stuck with Brad and Janet (dammit) on my cell phone. The last resort would be to call them, but what exactly would I say? "Hello. Who are you and how do I know you?" Doesn't seem like a good idea if it's someone important. I guess I could just leave them in there - but it's driving me mad (mwah hah hah!) that I don't know who it is.

I may need to be institutionalized over this - somewhere in Hawaii or someplace without abominable snowman advisories. I'd bet it's nice and quiet there. Well, except for all the damned text messages my husband would send me.

The Assassin

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Springtime: Mating Season

It’s almost spring here in Houston. (Sorry about that, Bullet Hole.) I know this because as I sit down at my desk to figure out what I’m going to blog about, something scuttling across the French doors catches my eye. It catches my cat’s eye, too, who is sitting on my desk. It takes a minute for me to identify the object. It’s a lizard. One of those lime green lizards who, when horny, puff out their bright red throats to catch the attention of all the hot-looking female lizards. (Males of all sorts do resort to cheap tricks, don’t they?) Yep, it’s almost spring.

And thinking about spring, and about horny lizards, well, I . . . I think about . . . men (scaly creatures that they are) and about what happened a couple of years ago on one fine spring morning. I was working, writing a tender, sweet love scene. The kind I always write, one that is brilliant and would bring a tear to your eye, when my husband, who is in the backyard doing his annual spring backyard cleaning, yells out, “Come here! Right now! Hurry! Bring your camera!” (Yup, this is another blog about my husband. So put down any drinks and pizza you may have in your hands.)

Now, my hubby is all into nature. He’s one of those sweet men who notices beauty, who appreciates beauty. (Hey, he married me, didn’t he?) Why, it’s not uncommon at all for him to stop the car, just to get a look at some beautiful wild flowers blooming on the side of the highway. He’s constantly pointing out birds, or even the color in the spring leaves. (I do love this about that man.)

So, when he called to me on that beautiful spring morning to bring my camera, I imagined a beautiful Monarch fluttering its wings on a bright yellow flower in our backyard, or maybe a red-headed wood pecker clinging to the bark of one our pine trees.

Unfortunately, on this particular day, my husband wasn’t in his sweet all-about-nature-frame-of-mind. Oh, no. On this day he was thinking more like…well, more like most men think. His mind was in the gutter. (I like to call it, thinking below the belt.) Ah, but I was oblivious to this at that time.

Camera in hand, I rush outside. “Where is it?” I asked in a low voice, not wanting to send the butterfly, or bird into flight.

He points to the back of the house. “There.” And he brushes up close to me.

I look around, I don’t see a butterfly, a bird, I don’t even see any bright colored flowers. And at this point, I don’t read anything into the close brushing of his shoulder against mine. “Where?”

He points again. I move in, sure I’ll see the awe-inspiring photo op that I’m sure I can use in my gardening articles, and I’m totally appreciating that I have a husband who recognizes beauty when he sees it. Ah, jezz, I love this man!

Then I see it! Oh ,boy, do I see it.

He hadn’t called me out to capture some beautiful piece of nature. He’d called me out to photograph lizard porn!

I swing around and give him the LOOK. (You know the look, don’t you? The look we females give men when we wonder if perhaps men and women aren’t actually from two different species and shouldn’t belong on the same planet, much less be procreating.)

And that’s when I notice the all-telling twinkle in my husband’s eye. (You know the twinkle, don’t you? The twinkle that has gotten women in trouble since Adam winked at Eve when he wanted her to get the apple.)

But hey, women have come a long way since Eve. Especially when said woman is worried about her hubby being twinkled-induced by the sight of a couple of lizards doing the deed.

I roll my eyes. “Let me get this straight. You actually want me to take a picture of that?”

“Among other things,” he says and his twinkle increases. (I personally think spring does something to all the male species. Like encourages mating season.)

I shake my head. “Sweetheart, I hate to let you down, but unless you can puff out your neck and it be some gorgeous bright red color and totally change my mind, there’s no way I’m climbing up the side of the house and trying to one-up a couple of four-legged reptiles making whoopy.”

I’m not going to tell you how that day ended (I told you there were some things I wouldn’t share) but as you can see, I did take the picture. But on a final note, let me say we shouldn’t be too hard on Eve, those damn twinkles can be as convincing as. . . as a bright red puffed out neck.

While that should be the end of that story, there’s more. My hubby, being the man he is, came up with the bright idea. (You’ve heard about some of his bright ideas, right?) Well, this one was a doozy. He decided it would be funny to send a faux blackmail letter to the . . . the Geico lizard. He copied the picture and sent a note to our Geico representative that stated, “Hey, Bloke, do you know what your wife was doing last weekend?”

The next week our insurance got canceled. And that’s when it was confirmed. Men really are a different species, they shouldn’t be on the same planet, and twinkle or no twinkle, we shouldn’t be procreating.

So…any funny men stories you’d like to share? Come on, we might have to live with them, but we can still poke fun at ‘em. Oh, and my husband does occasionally read my blogs and I don’t want him to believe I’m the only one who has something to say about men. So, help a girl out, I need your support.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Are You Reading?





Today, I would really like to hear from all you readers out there. I want to know…what are you reading? What are you loving? (And I mean books. I don’t want to hear about your new boyfriend’s six pack. Okay…let me take that back, I do want to hear about his six pack. But I also want to hear about your reading habits.) What’s on your must-read stack? And what encourages you to read a book? Is it the cover, the blurb, the author, the word of mouth, or is it the reviews? Oh and one last question. How many books do you read a month?

Right now, I’m judging the RITAS. For those of you who don’t know, this is a contest sponsored by RWA. It’s a contest of published books with a copyright date of 2007. I have eight books. And they are from all different genres. I have some steamy hot books, a few novellas, and several paranormals. I enjoy judging the RITAs because it introduces me not only to other genres but to new authors. Last year, I found an author I’d never read, Christie Ridgeway, and I have since bought several of her books.

Now, as for what’s on my to-be read stack? Well, let’s see. I have Nina Bangs, One Bite Stand. I have Kerrelyn Sparks, The Undead Next Door, I have Natale Stenzel, Pandora’s Box, and I have Lori Wilde’s, Once Smitten, Twice Shy, Jenny Gardiner, Sleeping Ward Cleaver, and also have Real Vampires Have Curves, by Gerry Bartlett.
And what encourages me to read a book? Well, I’ll be honest. I have so many friends who are writers that I do tend to read them because I like them and because I like their books, but then I think my second reason to read a book is word of mouth. If someone I know recommends a book, I will usually go pick it up.

And how many books do I read a month. Hmm… I would say I read 4 to 6 books a month.

So come on, play along. Let’s hear from you.

Crime Scene Christie

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dreams & Desires Vol. 2 authors!

Michele L., you are the winner of a signed copy of Dreams & Deires Vol. 1! Email your mailing address to me and I'll get your book out to you ASAP! gemmahalliday at gmail dot com.

I am uber excited today to have some of the fabulous authors from the Dreams & Desires Vol. 2 anthology here to chat with us today! As I may have mentioned a time or two, all proceeds from this anthology are going to a shelter for victims of domestic violence. A really great cause and an awesome read! To celebrate the release of this second volume, I’ve asked a few of the lovely ladies to tell us a little about their contributions and why they’ve donated. They’ve also agreed to hang out and take questions, so feel free to chat, comment, and ask away!

I'll be giving away a signed copy of Dreams & Desires Vol. 1 to one lucky reader. All you have to do to win is post here between now and Monday!

Ladies, take it away...

***

I was so pleased to be invited to be a part of Dreams & Desires volumes 1 and 2. Not only are we benefiting a wonderful cause, but the stories in these books are fantastic.

My story in D&D2 is called “Evening in Paris.” It’s a romance about a young woman who may have found her perfect guy, but she’s scared to trust her heart. There’s a voice in her head that’s always criticizing her, making her doubt herself. Over the course of a dinner with her guy, they work out where that voice came from, and . . . well, I won’t spoil the ending!

The inspiration for the story came from a very special childhood memory. My mom had a lovely case of tiny vials of perfume, each with a colored bead at the tip. The vials were color-coded and – yes, you guessed it – one was Evening in Paris. When she and my dad went out somewhere special, I’d watch her get ready, doing all those special, grown-up, feminine things.

And then, to put it my heroine Leslie’s words, “The very last thing was the perfume. We’d debate the choices then she’d let me break off the bright glass bead. She’d put her finger to the end of the vial then touch her pulse points, even the backs of her knees – isn’t that sexy? Then she’d dab a little on my wrists and behind my ears. I’d be sitting on the end of my parents’ bed in my flannelette jammies, with my stubby nails painted, smelling like a sophisticated woman.”

It was a special time for me, with a special woman. And that sense of “special” formed the foundation of my story.

Susan Lyons
www.susanlyons.ca

***

Ever think what you’d wish for if someone handed you a magic lantern and a genie popped out? I have.

Wish No. 1 -- To Rule the World.
If I ruled the world, there would be no hate, no wars, no poverty, no violence or crime of any kind. But the chances of me getting elected Queen of the Universe are pretty slim.

Wish No. 2 -- To Have Lots of Money.
Bill Gates or Warren Buffet type money. Not because I want a yacht or lots of bling or a penthouse in Manhattan (okay, being a diehard city girl, I’d really like a penthouse in Manhattan but there’s no way that’s ever going to happen, given the price of NY real estate!) No, I want lots of money so I can give it away to people in need. Unfortunately, very few of us authors make enough money to quit our day jobs, let alone have discretionary income to donate anything substantial to worthy causes.

Wish No. 3 -- To Make a Difference.
Which brings me to the reason for this blog. When I come across something I can do that doesn’t involve writing a check so small my contribution seems meaningless, I jump at the chance. Which is why I contributed to last year’s Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales and why I’m honored to have been asked to contribute to this year’s Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance Tales, Volume 2.
By doing something I do all the time -- writing -- I MADE A DIFFERENCE. Wish No. 3 came true. Maybe the money raised only helped one person break the cycle of abuse, but that’s one less abused person, and that’s a huge achievement. And now maybe another person’s life will be changed for the better because caring people purchase Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance Tales, Volume 2.

I am thrilled that Freya’s Bower has given me the opportunity to help people in this way. The story I’ve contributed is called Portrait of Love. Here’s a blurb:
In a last ditch effort to stave off foreclosure of her home, Amelia Gordon puts all her hope -- not to mention most of her dwindling funds -- into a plan that relies on the kindness of one particular stranger. However, Rick “Colesteen” Hewitt is no knight in shining armor. Or is he?

I hope you’ll purchase a copy of Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance Tales, Volume 2 and help change someone’s life for the better.

Lois Winston
www.loiswinston.com

***

In "Ashes to Ashes", a widower finds new value and hope in protecting a stand of old growth forest--with a little unwanted help from his rabidly green sister, a green-tinged workmate, and a jar of unknown ashes.

This story deals with a local issue, yet its ramifications are worldwide. Tasmania (where I live) has some of the oldest forests on earth, and the world’s tallest flowering plant, the Mountain Ash. These magnificent trees are constantly under threat from the clear-felling slash and burn. While I accept our need for timber, I fear we’ll only regret our current practices too late to save these ancients. It’s time for us to care on a personal level, and in doing so we’ll mend our own hearts.
Why does an Australian writer get involved in Dreams and Desires 2008 anthology when all money raised goes to an American battered women’s shelter? Because the treatment of women is also a global issue and I’ve always believed in the power of group action. Women everywhere deserve the right to be safe and whole. We are our sister’s keeper, or in this case liberator, and it warms my heart to support the extended hand of help. I hope you will dig deep and get behind this worthy project.

Babe King
http://babekingweb.com/

***

“Maze Bright” is a short gay romance story about two graduate students
with very different personalities. Shy Jerome is attracted to Ben but
never thought he could truly have the man of his dreams. This story is
about the limitations we can place on ourselves by not daring to follow
our desires.

I enjoyed being part of Dreams and Desires I and suspect I gained more
from the experience of taking part in this anthology with all these
great authors than I would from any royalties.

Emily veinglory
www.veinglory.com

***

“Dancing Cheek to Cheek”

Kelley grew up watching 1940s Hollywood musicals, so it's not surprising she teaches ballroom dance lessons. Unfortunately, most of the guys in her dance world are either gay or in their seventies, so her dreams of being swept off her feet on the dance floor are fading fast.

Amanda Brice
www.amandabrice.com

***

What a great collection, huh? And these are only a few of the 19 different stories - from sweet to hot, historical to contemporary, paranormal to suspense, and everything in between - that are in the Dreams & Desires Vol. 2 anthology. If you haven't picked one up yet, I highly recommend it. And if you have, well, what did you think? Got a review for us? ;)

~Trigger Happy Halliday

St. Valentine’s Curse

There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs in the lives of single women the week before Valentine’s Day. Their phones stop ringing. Completely stop. Not a peep from anyone of the male species. Apparently there was one girl out there that gave us all a bad rep by becoming overly affectionate one fateful Valentine’s Day, and every man since then has passed down the urban legend that if you have any contact whatsoever with a woman on Valentine’s Day, she will stalk you until there’s a four carat, emerald cut diamond sparkling on her left ring finger.

Or so it would seem.

Not one measly phone call have I received. Since Monday!

Remember cute Personal Trainer Guy? Nothing. Mr. Wonderful? Silent. Even a guy I met for coffee this past week (whom I will be blogging about in depth in the future!) didn’t have the cajones to text a simple little “Happy Vday” to me.

Now, I might think this is just coincidence. That maybe things were just fizzling out with Mr. Wonderful, that maybe the romance in the air made Personal Trainer Guy realize we just weren’t a good match after all. But, this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced St. Valentine’s curse.

Last year I’d been seeing two different eligible bachelors for a couple months each when Valentine’s Day rolled around. I awoke hopeful, sure that by noon I’d have at least one offer of dinner and a movie for the evening.

Hopes that soared even higher when, as I poured my morning coffee, I saw a flower delivery truck pull up. I raced downstairs, opened the front door… and saw the delivery guy walk up to my neighbor’s front door. Okay, so maybe expecting roses was a little much at this point. Things were still new with both guys. No exclusive relationship yet, probably too early to look for roses. Fine, no biggie.

Instead, I took my coffee upstairs and got to work writing (making sure that my phone was on and within arm’s reach). So deep into Maddie’s latest adventure was I that it wasn’t until I broke for lunch when I realized I still hadn’t received any calls. A little worrisome. But, I didn’t give up hope. It was still early… ish.

Around three that afternoon the mailman drove up in his little truck and I watched from my window as he slipped a bright red envelop into my mailbox. Red on a day like today could only mean one thing! Doing a little squee of delight, I again raced downstairs to see which of my suitors had sent me a card.

Neither. It was from my step-mother. Sigh.

By dinnertime it became readily apparent that I was not being wined and dined that night. But, I still had hopes that at least one of my potential Mr. Rights would call before the night was over to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day. Surely they would at least do that, right?

So, as I watched “A Charlie Brown Valentine” I also watched my silent phone like a hawk. And watched. And watched. By the time I’d finished off an entire box of heart shaped chocolates and the very un-Valentiney movie “Love Stinks”, it became clear that I was not going to be wished a Happy Valentine’s Day. Secretly hoping they both choked on candied sweethearts, I went to bed.

Sad, yes. But, it gets better.

The next day, after I’d drawn little devil horns and blacked out teeth on both their pictures, my phone rings. It’s Guy Number One. Thinking he’s got an awful lot of nerve calling now after the stony silence yesterday, I pick up with a chilly, “What?”

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he says.

“Day late and a dollar short, pal.”

He’s quiet. Then, “What do you mean?”

“Valentine’s Day was yesterday.”

More silence. Then, “Really? Are you sure it’s not today?”

Mental forehead smack.

Please tell me some of you out there had better Valentine’s Days this year?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The times they are a changin'--for which I am eternally grateful...!

Since it’s Valentine’s Day I suppose I should wish all of you lucky people out there with spouses and sweethearts (or both!) happy Valentine’s Day. It’s probably the right thing to do. But when you think about it, since you already have someone to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, someone who will, no doubt, shower you with flowers, or candy, or other tokens of their affection, I’m thinking why the heck do you need me to wish you one, as well? By rights, I should be wishing those people (uh, yeah, like me) who don’t have a significant other in their lives right now Happy Valentine’s Day. We’re the ones who need the good wishes. We’re the ones who need to be remembered. Right? As far as I’m concerned, the only people who have permission to whine today are those who have a significant other in their lives and still don’t receive a Happy Valentine’s Day greeting. That’s rough.

Now that the obligatory Valentine’s Day wishes are out of the way, I want to share something that had me shaking my head and had my daughter going, “This has got to be a joke!” when I showed it to her. The object of my scorn and her shock? 'The Good Wife’s Guide', published in Housekeeping Monthly back on May 13, 1955. Yep. That’s right. Nineteen double nickels. It was part of a class discussion in a class I’m taking. And boy, is there fodder for discussion. Due to the length of the ‘good’ wife’s guide (who knew there was so much to remember?) I’ll post the ‘tips’ that are most noteworthy. Editorial comments are in red (for Valentine’s Day!)

Tip One: Have a delicious meal ready for your husband on his return. This is a way of letting him know you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed. (Hello. Aren’t like most people hungry at dinner time?)

Tip Two: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. (Oh, yeah? And she’s been with a pack of snotty-nosed, whiney kids all day. Let’s see if he looks fresh after a day with the crumb-crunching midgets!)

Tip Three: Be a little gay (I’m not touching this one) and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties (duty??) is to provide it. (Tell me the last time cooking, cleaning, laundry, and child care qualified as ‘interesting’.)
Tip Four: Clear away the clutter. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers, etc., and run a dustcloth over the furniture. (In my house this would be more along the lines of blazing a trail.)


Tip Five: Over the cooler months, you should prepare and light a fire for your husband to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction. (Shoot me! Shoot me now!)

Tip Six: Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces, comb their hair, and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. (Talk about children should be seen and not heard. Oh, right. Only when ‘daddy’s home’. Until then, they’re free to wail like banshees. Jeesch.)
Tip Seven: Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. (What is your will, my lord and master? -- See tip twelve.)
Tip Eight: Listen to him. Let him talk first--remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours. (What? Poopy diapers, vomit, and toilet bowl brushes don’t make for scintillating conversation?)
Tip Nine: Never complain if he comes home late, or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Don’t complain if he’s late getting home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. (If my dh stayed out all night, what he had gone through that day would be minor compared to what he experienced when he got home!)

Tip Ten: Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low soothing, and pleasant voice. (No way. Not even with odor-eaters!)
And finally:

Tip Eleven: Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. A GOOD WIFE ALWAYS KNOWS HER PLACE. (I know. I know. The kitchen and the bedroom!!!! )
And there you have it. Housekeeping Monthly’s Good Wife’s Guide circa May, 13, 1955. My daughter thought I made this up. I replied nobody could make this kind of stuff up. Not even the dangerous divas at Killer Fiction.

Happy Valentine’s Day again! And feel free to share all those romantic gifts and loving gestures you received with us at Killer Fiction. And I promise I won’t hate you.

Too much.

~Bullet Hole Bacus who is SO glad she wasn’t a woman of the fifties~

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Truthiness


I'll be the first person to admit, I'm a black belt word nerd. I love to see how people use them and misuse them. The other day, I was at a bookstore reading cover copy when I spotted this gem: "he would rather pay attention to blah blah blah (I can't remember exactly) than to his elegant balls." Of course, that made me wonder what elegant balls look like. Are they well-groomed and dressed for the occaision? Do they prefer a certain cologne? And exactly how elegant are his balls? What's the standard on judging this type of thing? I mean, it would have to be really subjective, right? One man's elegant balls may be another's neo-conservative balls. Then I realized that we weren't talking about testicles, but galas, fetes, that kind of thing. Well, that's just false advertising now isn't it?

Another case of false advertising came up at our Super Bowl party. I don't really follow sports so my friends were curious what team I'd root for. I didn't know anything about the Giants and Patriots but I told them that I would root for the Patriots. After the boos and hisses died down, I was asked why. I said the Giants were liars. It's fraud really, to claim they are giants when none of them are as big as Hagrid (and technically, he's only half-giant). If you're going to claim to be Giants - you should be a lot taller - I think. But that's only me. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

That's probably why I'm back to eating real butter. I got so confused with the names they use on margarine these days. For example, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." So we're supposed to take someone's word for it that this crap tastes just like butter, but obviously according to the title isn't? And why is this person anonymous? Wouldn't it make sense to say if it's Oprah, that Oprah Can't Believe It's Not Butter? Which leaves me to believe that it's not Oprah, but some guy's second cousin who lives in his parent's basement - and he wasn't credible enough to proclaim that he thought it tasted just like butter - even though it isn't - so they just left it up to our imagination - and this is what someone like me comes up with. How screwed up is that?

I used to eat Shedd's Spread. But what the hell is that? Sure, they finally gave us a surname to pin it on, but I don't know of anyone famous named Shedd - unless it's the guy from Shedd Aquarium. Or maybe it's something they spread in a shedd. Okay, what do you find in a shedd? Tools? Chickens? Potting soil? Why would I want to eat something you spread on that? And the word "spread" doesn't even remotely imply any buttery goodness.

These are the thoughts that stream randomly through my brain as I begin to plot out the next book in the Bombay Series. And you just thought the books were strange...

The Assassin

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Big Secret

((News: CatsLady and Jeanette, you two gals won a pack of note cards, from my "Name the Plumber Contest" Please shoot me your snail mail address at christie@christie-craig.com.))


((More News: I just found out that I was nominated for two awards from All About Romance in their Annual Reader Poll. I'm tickled pink!
I'm listed in: Favorite Funny and in the Best Cabin Romance. They are open for votes. Go check it out and vote for your favorites. The current standing of votes (final before last vote):
http://www.likesbooks.com/interim2007_2008.html (scroll down to last poll of 2/4/08)
Link to Vote: http://www.likesbooks.com/ballotannualpoll.html))


And now...


It’s time. Time to unveil my big secret.
But wait. Don’t jump to any conclusions about the topic. There are some things I won’t tell. Stuff that you don’t want to know. This secret does not include personal data. Oh, like I haven’t told you personal data, before.



However, now that I think about personal data, I remember I promised to tell you about the time I was caught by six of LAPD’s finest, guns drawn, in a Pizza Hut with lots of cash strewn around me on a bad hair day. (The bad hair is just an added little detail that some wouldn’t consider important, but hey, let’s face it, if all eyes, all attention, guns included, are going to be focused on you, don’t you want your hair to look its best?) As it happens, the money/gun event was just the beginning of a bad day, because believe it or not, it went downhill after that.


I worked at Pizza Hut--shift leader, in the big city of Los Angeles. I had also just gotten a new perm. Let’s just say the hairdresser could have uncurled me about an hour earlier than she did. I woke up late on said day, and instead of getting dressed in my uniform, I pulled on a pair of shorts under my huge T-shirt that read “Bad Girl” that I substituted as a nightshirt, and headed to work with my hair literally looking like I’d just stuck my at least four fingers in an electric outlet--four from the same hand because one side was curlier than the other.


Anyway, I’m at work, a southern gal in the big city, and other than getting dressed and taking a pee break, the only thing I have left to do is count out the register drawer. Only when I open the thirty-minute safe, I see tons of unorganized money stuffed into the safe. The weekend manager had failed to make deposits, so I had thousands of dollars to count and deposits to fill out. I’m furious. I’m pissed. I toss the money in the middle of the Pizza Hut floor, and start trying to make heads and tails out of the cash register receipts. I’m still trying to count when I hear a tap on the window to my right.


I look up and the first thing I see is a gun. Now, I’ve never had a gun pointed at me in my entire life, so I’m not taking this too well. Then I see the man behind the gun. He’s wearing a police uniform, so I relax a smidgeon, but then I hear another tap. On the window to my left is another officer, with another gun. Let’s just say, there were several more taps before I was: 1) motioned to get up, 2) hold my hands in the air, 3) go answer the ringing phone. (Have you ever tried to answer a phone with hands in the air?)


Turned out, my cook, working in the back, had accidentally set off the alarm. The alarm company calls in the police. The police saw a crazy woman in shorts and a slept-in “Bad Girl” T-shirt with one-sided electric-styled hair, sitting in the middle of the store, slinging money and they assumed the worst.



After motioning me to the phone and after a ten-minute conversation trying to convince them I actually worked there, I was removed from gunpoint and left to return to work. Their farewell warning: I didn’t have an alarm until the alarm company came and reset it. Fine, I said. I had bigger problems, I’d peed in my pants when I saw the first gun and really needed to change clothes.


Anyway, it was after the lunch crowd, empty restaurant and time for a quick bathroom break, when a man came in and wanted his credit card that my manager had made him leave due to his lack of cash the week before. We didn’t take credit cards. However, it just so happened that I’d called to see if the card was stolen. Surprise. It was. And if I cut it in half and sent it in, I would receive a two hundred dollar reward. Cool, right?


Wrong.


This guy wanted his stolen card back. I didn’t’ want to explain that I was waiting for my two hundred dollar reward, so instead I did what most of you would have done. I lied. I said the card was in the safe, and I pointed to the sign that stated I had a thirty-minute safe, and that he would have to wait until it opened. He wasn’t happy, but agreed to wait. Then as if to make his “not-happy” point clear, he pulled out a huge, really huge, hunting knife and proceeded to clean his nails. So, I did what any normal woman with bad hair would have done. I smiled, pretended not to be panicked by his oversized fingernail cleaner, peed my pants again, and hit the silent alarm. But opps…the alarm didn’t work, remember?


So I went to the phone and pretended to answer an order, with my back to the armed credit card thief, (imagine me thinking he was right behind me with knife ready to plunge) and called 911. They gave me a great piece of advice. Hit the alarm.


Then the operator asked one question. Was anyone in the restaurant? I told him no and he said to get my cook, who was in the back of the restaurant making dough, and run out the back door. I was about to do that when a woman came in with a baby and seated herself in one of the booths. Now, I’ve always been the “save yourself” kind of person, especially when I blamed the woman for not noticing the man cleaning his nails with a knife big enough to skin Bambi, but . . . there was the baby.


I walked to the booth and in a very low voice asked her to leave through the emergency door. I turned around to get the cook and run out the back when two guys walked in. They looked kind of shady. For a second, I thought they were with the credit card thief. But nope, one of the two men came sauntering toward me and the other headed toward the bathroom--which reminded me that I needed to go too.


I was prepared to explain that we were . . . out of dough or needed to close the restaurant for mold inspection, anything to get them to leave so I could escape the big knife. Didn’t happen. Instead, the shady looking man pulled out a big gun (yep, another honest to goodness real gun which I’d never seen one close up until that day.) Then in an equally shady voice, he told me to get behind the counter. (See what I mean about it being a bad day?)


I promptly made up my mind. If I lived through this, and I seriously didn’t think I would, my pizza and perm days were over and I was buying stock in big-people diapers. I ran behind the counter, babbling something about a thirty-minute safe. The second lucky man, who appeared to have gone to the bathroom, (yeah, I was actually envious of him for making the bathroom in time) came charging around the corner with his gun drawn, and then they both turned their guns on the knife-wielding credit card thief. Yup, they just happened to be undercover cops.



I proceeded to drop to the floor, bad hair and all, and had myself a good long, very long cry.


Looking back, I think the whole bad-hair, knife, and gun experience was the catalyst for my writing humorous romantic suspense. Not that I thought it was all that funny then.



However, this brings me back to my big secret. It’s time to unveil my new book. Yep, Weddings Can Be Murder is scheduled to be released May 27. Here is the cover and my book video.


Katie Ray, my heroine in Weddings, has a very bad day in the book, but you know, I liked her too much to give her bad hair. So what about you guys? Ever had a really sucky day? Ever had a gun pointed at you?


Monday, February 11, 2008

Don’t Fence Me In - R.G. Alexander

Today we’re lucky to have fabulous debut author R.G. Alexander as a guest! Her first release Who Wants to Date a Superhero? about a futuristic game show where women via for a date with a real live superhero, is out now! I cannot wait to read this one – I mean, really, who doesn’t want a shot at Batman, right? ;) So, take it away, R.G….

I have always been surprised by the way people view me. In my head I was a mysterious, Lara Croft-esque adventurer with sex appeal and savvy. Yet, people persisted in seeing me as a short, rather curvy cutie-pie. A sweetheart. Naïve. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. Couldn’t possibly write erotic romance without blushing and having the hero turn off the lights. Being patted on the head and dismissed wasn’t exactly flattering…but at least I was under the radar.

This view would never have been tarnished if my older sister, who has always reveled in her talent for shock and awe, hadn’t decided to tell everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life about my website, my recent book releases and their content.
“Romance,” they said. “Oh that sounds like our R.G.—ever the romantic.”
“Um, no,” my sister chuckled. “Romance…with sex. Graphic sex. Have you ever watched porn?”

Sigh. Great. So now I’m a closet porn writer. Not the comparison I would have used. Usually I just say something like, “You know when you watch a romantic movie and the couple’s kiss, you can see the bed in the background and then the scene fades out?”
“Yes?”
“I don’t.”
“Don’t what?”
“Don’t fade out.”

But the cat’s out of the bag and I can tell exactly what they are all thinking.
“She was so sweet. Where did we go wrong? What’s next—streetwalking?”

Don’t get me wrong, I have a very supportive group of family and friends. They may cringe when they see the man nipple on my covers, but they are still counting down the days with me, approaching strangers in lingerie stores and at bus stops to tell them about my upcoming releases. You gotta love family.

Though I think my mother is still hoping this is a gateway genre, and that someday I will find my way to an Oprah booklist with an important work of fiction that will change the world, I’m perfectly content to make my little corner of the planet blush and smile.

But since everything relates to writing (of course), this situation reminded me of archetypes. The innocent Miss and the Vamp. Films in the twenties differentiated these two with incredibly specific hair styles and fashion. But you can look at most ancient mythology, folklore, even present day advertising and you will find these two very different women…begging the question—is it really either/or?

An archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior. Often an over exaggerated model. Modern women wear so many hats, maiden, mother and crone—as well as businesswoman, scientist, writer…that the normal stereotypes no longer seem to apply.

I happen to know envelope pushing erotica authors whose normal day to day life sounds like an episode of Donna Reed. I think that’s wonderful. I also know people who write YA and Chick Lit who could teach me a thing or two about Vamping it up. You really can’t—or shouldn’t—judge a book by its cover.

So people who knew me before they knew what I was writing look at me sideways, waiting for me to shorten my skirts, don dark red lipstick and start behaving as the Vamp I have become.
But I am still me. I still prefer fuzzy socks to stockings, I’m still short and too curvy and maybe a bit naïve. It’s only that now, I’m this too. At least through my characters.

Have any of you ever experienced this? That people expect you to behave in a particular way because of your writing style and/or job?

~R.G. Alexander
www.rgalexander.com

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Most Romantic Thing He's Ever Done

We were friends before we started dating. I had an unrequited crush on him. He was smart and funny and kind – a combo that is in short order on most college campuses.

One night we went to a party as friends but I spent too long fretting over which outfit was perfect while he waited in quiet frustration for me to get ready. After we finally arrived we kind of split off in our own directions. Later that evening he spontaneously decided to sing with some of his friends. He wasn’t much of an attention seeker, the kind of guy that more enjoyed sitting in the audience instead of standing before one. They played a couple of upbeat songs by whoever was top forties at the time. Then they decided to slow the pace.

After just three or four notes I recognized the song as Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight.

It's late in the evening; she's wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long black hair.

It gave me pause. Didn’t the lyrics go “long blonde hair”?

They kept singing and as they neared the end of the song he made direct eye contact with me from the stage and sang the final verse directly to me.

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize how much I love you.

And I knew at that moment he was singing to me. It was the first time he had indicated that he liked me for anything more than a friend and even though it was public and something I would probably normally abhor, it was as if it was our private moment.

I think that goes down as the most romantic moment of us.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s share romantic stories.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Abiola Abrams' Scandalosity

Please join me in welcoming the most fabulous Abiola Abrams! Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, but she’s an amazingly talented media personality and, most recently, an author! (Don’t you love her book cover?!)


Hey loves,
Nice meeting you here via Gemma’s blog!

My debut novel is named Dare. Dare is the story of a sociologist who becomes a rapper only to find that she much prefers her new bad girl lifestyle to her own. The book is also chocked with affirmations and fun as Maya sets off on an adventure to find true love and self esteem. In other words, Dare, like Abiola is about love, inspiration & scandalosity.

Unsure of what scandalosity is? Read on…

My best work is done at night. Whether I've been out somewhere partying or not I am usually up writing or yapping on the phone until at least 3AM, so I do not take kindly to being woken up at 6. The phone rang and it was one of my friends telling me to go to my computer. My inbox was exploded with email forwards from gossip sites leaking that a fallen celeb I knew was in a facility. Some press reported it to be a rehab and others reported it to be a looney bin. One wondered if it was prison again. All of them took care to note that she was/ is a hot mess in the Winehouse/ Britney vein. The reason folks were sending this to I was collaborating on an upcoming project with said fallen starlet. I had spoken to her the day before and was actually SUPER proud of her for getting help for her issues so I kinda chose not to respond, except to say, yes I know. This did not satiate my friends who were hungry for the dramatic inside scoop.

The fact is yes, this young woman was a hot damn mess, but on the wrong day, so am I, and truth be told, so are you. And your mama too. ;-D You might not be a Hollywood bad girl that E! or Perez Hilton are talking about, but maybe around the water cooler or the family reunion folks can't keep your scandalosity off their puckered lips.
Don't get me wrong. I am SO not anti-gossip by any stretch of the imagination. I looove a good scandal. It just bothered me at this minute because it was someone that I was concerned about. But I guess that all gossip is about somebody that someone somewhere cares about.

Hmmm….

So… Because I am unwilling to give up my daily fix of gossip and entertainment news, I hereby decree that gossip is ok IF we earn our right to gossip. In other words, if you are not willing to put your own sh*t out there, then back off of anybody else's.
A couple of months ago I was interviewing folks at the premiere of the film Dirty Laundry. Dirty Laundry is about a chic NYC gay African-American dude about town who discovers he has a son and has to go back to his humble hometown. As I watched the hilarious film, I remembered when I shot my documentary Knives in My Throat about a multi-talented, bi-polar young woman dealing with many of the same demons that Britney Spears and my fallen starlet friend are battling. Several black folks including mentors of mine who saw the film disapproved of me airing what they called "dirty laundry." They said that it was a time for airing only positive images of black folks, and that Taqiyya (my doc's subject) and her dramas needed to stay in the closet. I said then as I say now, it's a time for airing real images. For all of us. Open the closets and clean them. Dirty laundry just stinks up the house!
The reason other people's scandals and dramas draw us in is pure entertainment and distraction from our own garbage. It makes us feel temporarily good to look down on someone else because of all of our own insecurities. It's a temp fix like any drug. You might turn away from a train wreck, but if you're human, you're gonna at least peek. I know that I will!

So how do we earn our right to gossip?

Ahaaaa….

Here’s the deal: Abiola Rule #37. Reveal 3 scandalous things about yourself—only if you're willing to air your sh*t can you air somebody else's.
Come on—this is this week’s homework!!!

So (deep breath) here is my personal dirty laundry that I am putting out there just so that I can keep on running my mouth About OPB –Other People's Business. Of course, you can and should TAKE THE HIGH ROAD and give up gossip all together. After all, it always hurts someone. I'm just not that evolved yet.

So here's Abiola's scandalosity.

1. I only had one boyfriend my whole adult life. He was the same person I had a crush on in 6th grade. We started dating when I was in college and then just kept going out. At some point everyone thought that we should be married. So we got married in a lavish ceremony Summer 2004 at a Ritz Carlton in the Islands. It was gorgeous and everyone we loved was there. But then he cheated practically as soon as we returned from our honeymoon, and through my devastation I realized that I probably was in no shape to be married anyway. So we had an annulment quicker than Lindsey Lohan can say DUI. Damn. So now I am learning how to date for the first time in my life. (http://www.philosophersguild.com/index.lasso?page_mode=Product_Detail&item=0128 Hence my new novel DARE about a woman recovering from a broken heart! (http://www.daretogetalife.com)

Wow—YOU STILL WANT MORE?! That was like 3 scandals in one!! OK—lol. Earning my right to gossip.

2. I hate your kids. Maybe hate is too strong a word. Ok. I can't stand your kids. If you know me and ask me, wow Abiola, my kids too? I will lie and say no, not your darlings. I will tell the truth about anything else you ask me – if your jeans are too tight, breath stinks or you talk too much, but I will not admit that your kids are frigging brats that make me wanna rush out and get my tubes tied every time I encounter them!! Save your letters telling me how sweet your lil Missy and Timmy are, because I've seen them at the mall, running everybody ragged! Who I am talking to? YOU! Lol. (Until I have my own screaming brats, then I reserve the right to change my mind!!!)

3. On my site, you can find me at Rachel Kramer Bussel’s In the Flesh erotica event reading the most scandalous scene in Dare. OK—I know that I am wrapping a scandal and shameless self-promotion into one! Um, is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Haahahaaaaha.

Hmmm. That actually felt good.

So—EARN YOUR RIGHT TO GOSSIP—either tell me 3 scandalous things about you or just 3 funny/ weird things. OR LEAVE O.P.B. ALONE! ;-) Where's Chris Crocker when you need him? Go ahead... Share!!!

OR tell me that you're taking the high road…

YOUR 3 SCANDALOUS THINGS ARE?
-------------

Let me know here, and then you can buy Dare on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or wherever you buy books. Find more love, films, unsolicited advice, dareitude and scandalosity at www.daretogetalife.com or www.abiolaabrams.com .

xo,
abiola

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Day at the Races

Here are the completely-picked-at-random winners of an ARC of Fiancé at Her Fingertips and These Boots Were Made for Strutting from Leah’s Monday post. Shelli Stevens and Jeanette J! Congrats, gals! Email me your addresses and we’ll get the books out to you ASAP. gemmahalliday@gmail.com
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog…



I’m not much of a gambler. I figure relying on the publishing industry to keep me in heels and martinis is gamble enough. Once in a while I’ll feed the nickel slots in Vegas, but even then it’s just because I like all the shiny lights.

But, this week I tried something new. I went to the horse races.

Mr. Wonderful was looking to buy one of the horses racing on opening day at the track and asked me if I wanted to go. Heck yeah! Not only had I never been before, but it was an excellent excuse to procrastinate- Uh, I mean, excellent research for my next book.

Anyway, the track was very cool. A huge art deco building put up in the 1930’s decorated with lots of old photos of men in suits and fedoras cheering at the railing, women in hats and gloves in the stands. Very old Hollywood feeling, like I was suddenly stepping into a Fred Astair movie.

Since it was cold out (though nothing like the horror of Iowa. Brrr!) we hiked up a ton of stairs to this section called the Turf Club, where we could watch the horses run from indoors. Once we were settled by the windows, Mr. Wonderful bought a racing form and tried to teach me how to read it. Anyone ever seen one of these things? Good lord! Miles upon miles of figures that looked like total gibberish to me. Stats, numbers, abbreviations all over the place. I gave it a cursory glance, my eyes kind of glazing over… then set it aside and instead picked the horse in the first race that had the cutest name. Golden Michelle. Pretty, huh? And, Michelle happens to be my sister’s name, so I figured that was lucky, right?

Wrong. She came in at the back of the pack. So much for my beginners luck.

So, in the next race I changed my strategy. I’d bet colors. Each horse has a different colored saddlecloth in order to easily tell which horse is which as they zip around the track. I picked the pink one. Hey, when you’re dressed cute, you feel better, right? And, surely when you feel better, you run better. Pink was a sure thing.

Yeah, right. Not even in the top 5.

O-kay. So, considering this was real money we were betting, I figured maybe I’d better buckle down and read that racing form after all. I swear to you I studied that sucker like I was taking a mid-term on it afterward. Checking the horses’ performance on dirt tracks, mud tracks, this track, other tracks, their trainers’ records, their standings in previous races, their odds in the current race, who the jockeys were, did they sprint right out of the gate, or like to come up from behind. I was cross-eyed by the time I made a decision. But, this time, it was an informed one.

Apparently, I shouldn’t quit my day job, because I was no better at being informed than I was a guessing. That horse lost, too. Dang it!

All in all I think we bet on about 6 or 7 horses, including my favorite, Red Hot Romance. (How could I not pick that one?) Unfortunately, we lost every race. Not only that, but Mr. Wonderful didn’t get to buy his horse either. When more than one person wants the horse, they put all the names into a hat and pull one out. And, since we were on such a winning streak, his wasn’t the lucky name they pulled.

Moral of the story – I should stick to playing the slots.

On the upside, I did get some great fodder for Maddie’s latest adventure. Already plotting out a few scenes at the track…

So, anyone else here a gambler? Anyone luckier than I am?

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Calgon, take me away!


I sit here before you today a broken woman and at the point of surrender. In fact, I'd raise the white flag right now--if I could elevate my arms above my head without excrutiating pain, that is. I'm defeated. Beaten down by frozen flakes of water. B#*ch-slapped by Mother Nature. Again.

And yes, that's my SUV to the left as it appeared yesterday morning in my driveway. Imagine my delight when I opened the door and looked out into a winter freakin' wonderland where only a week ago all signs of winter had gloriously melted away. Sigh. The kids were ecstatic. No school, they celebrated, claiming they would rather shovel a few hours than spend the day in classes. That sentiment quickly evaporated when they saw the depth of the snow to be scooped.

Determined to face my frozen foe, I donned my Michael Myers insulated coveralls, hiking boots, Thinsulate gloves, and stuck a hat on my head. How bad could it really be? I thought as I stepped outside the front door and into three foot drift of snow. That bad. "Wow, come look at the roof, Mom!" my daughter said and I walked out to the end of the driveway and looked back at the house. Big mistake. Why? Here's what I saw:


I stared at the roof for a few minutes before it dawned on me that someone was going to have get up on the roof and shovel the snow off or risk having the roof collapse due to the weight. It took me a couple more minutes before I realized that someone was going to be me.

What the picture doesn't accurately reflect is the fact that it was still snowing and blowing at this time. Now, I'm not a fan of climbing a ladder and crawling onto the roof at any time, but doing it in the middle of winter in the middle of a blizzard with snow up the whazoo--well, you can about imagine the level of my affection for Ma Nature right about then.

But trooper that I am--or rather was--I got the ladder out, got someone to hold it and up I went. And the higher I went, the higher my anxiety got. What if my added weight actually made the roof collapse? What if I slipped off the roof and bashed my skull on the driveway? Did the kids know where my will was? So, instead, I climbed to the top step of the ladder and awkwardly scooped shovel after shovel off the roof.

"HEY!" My son who was holding the ladder yelled. I looked down. He looked like a tall, skinny, white-haired Frosty the Snowman.

I winced. "Sorry," I said.

I scooped until my scooper was pooped out. I descended the ladder and looked at the driveway that was once again full of snow. Two hours later we finished the shoveling out front and had cleared out the garage, sidewalk, and one parking space in the back. When I went back into the house, I had so many icicles hanging from my hair I looked like I had dreadlocks.

Three hours later I went back out for round two of shoveling.

"How's the writing going?" the kids asked as I was flopped on the couch with my blanket in the late afternoon.

If I'd had the strength to throw something at them, I would have.

Score so far? Mother Nature: forty plus inches of snow since December. Bullet Hole: 250 pages written since December. It's a race to the March 15th finish for sure. And there's that obsessive competitive streak of mine to consider. So, I toss my white flag aside.

Surrender? Nah. A trooper never surrenders.

Bring it on, Ma Nature. Bring it on!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Super Tuesday!


As I sit here in my Maleficent jammies, sipping green tea and staring at the nine inches of snow I'll be shovelling soon, I think about how "great" it is to be an adult. It's a snow day here - actually, the cities have declared a "snow emergency" (what does that mean? That conditions are favorable for a savage takeover by bloodthirsty snowmen?) so of course, the kids decide not to sleep in (which I think should qualify for institutionalization, but that's just me) - instead grabbing the new package of Oreos I bought yesterday (ironically, they are Spring Colors - like psychotically-colored lard peeps crushed between two cookies) and five juice bags (five? I only have two kids) and disappearing into the play room to play guitar hero for hours.


Where was I? Oh, right, how supposedly, allegedly, awesome it is to be an adult. As you know, yesterday was Super Tuesday and Illinois was one of the states voting. My friend - uber mom, Michelle (I say that with the utmost respect because she's amazing) tells me she's taking her kids with her to see how the voting process works.


I thought that was a good idea. After all, I have my undergrad degree in political science and my father taught American Government, and I did my master's thesis on what I thought newly elected president Clinton would do for the arts - so why not? The sleet had been crashing to earth for about an hour by the time the kids got out of school, but I still decided to give it a run. Margaret and Jack were less than enthusiastic.


Me: Guess what we get to do?


Kids (in unison for some creepy reason) : Go to the toy store!!! (Hmmm. Mental note, go through receipts and see how many times we actually go since that's their first reaction.)


Me: No! (and because I'm a glutton for punishment) Guess again!


Kids (looking at each other and using some sort of telepathy): Ice cream?


Me: No. We're going to vote!


Margaret: BORING!


Jack: I'm tired! I need to stay home and play video games!


Me: C'mon! It'll be really cool! This is something you can't even do yet!


Kids: Fine.


We arrive at the polling place, spinning our tires most of the way while I fill them in on the history of voting, the electoral college, and what voting in a primary means. And then I realize, they're right. It is pretty boring. But dammit! It's one of the great things about being an adult!


We walk into the church (which I always thought was an ironic place to vote - but that's just me) and I sign in, get my paper ballot and a sharpie and move to a little, barely partitioned off table.


(Spoiler alert - Because of the nature of this blog - you WILL find out who I voted for. Sorry if it's a shock.)


Me: Here's the ballot, kids.


Margaret: That's it? They give you a piece of paper and a marker?


Me: Well, yeah? Why?


Jack: Where are the lazers?


Me: Lazers? I, um, don't...


Margaret: And where's the giant electronic robot? Don't you have to have one of those?


Me: What? No! Where did you...


Jack: At least tell us there's a tube you send it in - like at the bank!


Me: (Starting to worry about what they're teaching at school.) It's just this. And believe me, I've voted using the machines and other stuff and this is far better. Now, (not letting them ask about the machine part) we have the ballot for the Democratic Party and the first thing we vote for is our choice for presidential candidate. I'm marking Hilary Clinton.


Margaret: She's my choice too!


Me: (Hopefully): Really? Why?


Margaret: Because her last name is Clinton and I was born in Clinton, Iowa!


Jack: Where was I born?


Me: Okay, that is not a good reason to vote for a candidate but let's move on.


I go through all the options. We get to the race for Coroner and I see there's an opportunity here.


Me: There are three candidates for Coroner. I don't know anything about them, so why don't you guys pick?


Margaret: What does Coroner do?


Me: Well, they determine the cause of death of a person.


Jack: So there's blood and stuff?


Me: I, er, suppose. But that's not the point.


Margaret: That's so cool! Let's vote for this one!


Jack (agreeing with her choice): Yeah! Him!


Me: Good. (I color in the oval with the sharpie - which always gives me the sweats remembering the Iowa Basic Skills Test as a kid. Can you have post-traumatic stress from all the testing they do to you as a kid?) Why did you choose him?


Jack: Because he has a good name for someone who deals with dead bodies.


Margaret (nodding): Yeah, and he seems like the kind of guy who could shoot them in the head when they become zombies.


Me (shrugging): Actually, those sound like good reasons.


We finish and the geriatric official pastes "I Voted" stickers on all three of us - which the kids think is cool, since they were breaking the law and voting before being legal. I let Margaret feed the ballot into the machine and we head outside to find Michelle, Conor and Ian coming in.


Margaret: We got to vote for the guy who kills zombies!


Michelle: (raising her eyebrows, justifiably so) How about that?


Jack (to the boys): They got free cookies in there!


Boys: AWESOME! (They run in)


There's a lesson here - maybe voting would be more fun if we looked at it from the eyes of a child. And for voting officials - consider adding chocolate martinis to the freebies given out and it wouldn't hurt to label the candidates in a way that's more fun - like "Slayer of the Undead" instead of "Coroner."


But that may just be me.


The Assassin