Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and One More Inside Review


Well, we survived Turkey Day. A lot more than I can say for the turkey. (sigh)

I actually got out of having to cook the full dinner. This year, we went over to my sister-in-law’s house. I cooked some fresh green beans and a chocolate pecan pie. (No cleaning the gizzards out of the turkey this year for me.) The pie was a big hit. Seriously yummy. And it was really easy and relative cheap to make, too. Here’s the link to the recipe if you’re interested in cooking one for Christmas: http://southernfood.about.com/od/pecanpies/r/bln385.htm Anyone else, have a great recipe you’d like to share?

I also wanted to post one more inside review on Divorced, Desperate and Dating. This one is from a special family member. My grandpuppy and one of the stars of the book.




“I’m a star. I’m a star. Hey, that’s me on the back of the cover. It’s really me!”




“I’m not really a crotch sniffer. Okay, maybe I’ve sniffed a few crotches in my day, but I don’t make a habit of it! In spite of that error, this is a must read.”



Oh, make sure you post on Tuesday to get your name entered in the drawing for the pooping snowman (Hey, it’s a candy dispenser) and other prizes.

Crime Scene Christie


Friday, November 28, 2008

Stuffed (and I'm not talking about the turkey)

Hope every had a fabulous Thanksgiving yesterday! Personally, I stuffed myself so full I probably don’t need to eat again until Christmas. On the menu: pesto torte, garlic mashed potatoes, rosemary stuffing, green beans with shallots, mushroom gravy, cranberry bread, gingersnap cookies, Mexican hot chocolate, and homemade apple pie. (And, of course, there was a very large turkey, but, being a vegetarian, I gave it a wide berth.) So you can see why I now resemble that blueberry kid from Willie Wonka. Seriously, I think someone had to roll me to bed last night. But totally worth it. (One guess what I’m having for lunch today? Aren’t leftovers the best?!)

After thoroughly gorging myself yesterday, I’m on to the next holiday tradition: Black Friday Christmas shopping. No, I was not one of you brave people in line outside the department stores at 4am. (Though, kudos if you were! You people are my heroes!) I’m doing strictly online shopping deals this year. Hey, why leave my fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa if I don’t have to? Plus, as I may have mentioned here before, I’m kinda in love with Amazon’s gift organizer, so I’m letting Amazon do the shopping for me this year. (That way if anyone doesn’t like their presents, I can blame Amazon!)

So, while I’m surfing the web for super bargains, I thought I’d kick off the Christmas season here with a free holiday short story I've written called Christmas in High Heels! It’s kinda long to fit in one blog post, so I’ll post the beginning to get your started and you can read the rest by visiting my website and downloading it for free: www.gemmahalliday.com




Christmas in High Heels

    “Maddie, what is that?” a deep voice asked behind me.
I looked up at the green sprig I was currently pinning to the ceiling of my boyfriend’s living room.
    “Mistletoe.”
    “Mistletoe?”
    “Yeah, you know, you’re supposed to kiss under it.”
    I felt a pair of large, warm hands at my waist as I strained forward on my stepladder. “I know what it’s for. I just don’t get why you’re risking life and limb to stick it to my ceiling. Whoa, careful,” he added, grabbing my hips as I teetered to the left.
    “Use your imagination, big guy,” I responded, stepping down to face him.
    “Hmmmm.” He looked up. We were standing directly underneath the green sprig. “Good point.”
    He leaned in close, his warm breath hitting my lips just a second before his mouth did. He tasted like coffee and the rocky road ice cream we’d had for dessert. Yum. I kissed him back. Hard. With tongue.
    “So,” he said when we finally came up for air. “What’s on the agenda tonight?”
    I nipped at his lower lip. “Use your imagination, big guy,” I repeated with a grin.
    Tonight was Christmas Eve. Our first together. Not that it was the first Christmas Eve that had passed since we’d started dating, but it was the first one we’d spent together. In fact, it was the first holiday of any kind that we’d really spent together.
    Jack Ramirez was tall, dark, and handsome with a capital H-O-T. He was also a homicide detective with a captain who tended to call at all the wrong times. Like on my birthday when our opera tickets had gone to waste over a double homicide in the West Hills. And last Valentine’s Day when he’d made reservations at this romantic, little Italian bistro with drippy candles and everything. Then had to cancel when some stockbroker got hopped up on one too many triple lattes and shot his partner in their office downtown. And then there was Halloween. My best friend, Dana, had thrown this huge costume party, and Ramirez and I were supposed to go as two-person horse. An outfit that doesn’t work so well when the front half gets called to a triple homicide near the airport.
    So, when Ramirez had sworn on his grandmother’s grave that his captain was not only not calling him in this Christmas but was also in Vancouver visiting his mother, I immediately made the agenda for our evening. Ramirez, me, and a nice romantic evening at home. Quiet. Alone.
    Possibly even naked.
    And from the look in Ramirez’s eyes, I’d say he was totally on board with that plan.
    He leaned in close again, doing a sort of deep growl thing in the back of his throat, before his hands snaked up my sides, pulling me taut against a six-pack Budweiser would kill for.
    I planted my lips squarely on his, nibbling again until we both started panting like Dobermans.
    But just as his fingers began flirting with the button fly of my jeans, the “William Tell Overture” rang out from my purse.
    Ramirez groaned.
    “Hold that thought,” I told him, quickly locating the offending cell and hitting the on button.
    “Hello?”
    “Merry Christmas, Maddie,” my mom’s voice sang out from the other end.
    “And Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Yule, too!” I heard Faux Dad (as I’d affectionately dubbed my stepfather) add in the background.
    “Thanks, same to you guys, too.”
    “We’re heading to your cousin Molly’s right now,” Mom said.     “Are you there yet?”
    “Uh, no.” I glanced across the room to where Ramirez was folding up the stepladder, while conspicuously standing just beneath my mistletoe. “We’re actually staying in tonight.”
    There was a pause. Then Mom’s voice rose two octaves. “What do you mean staying in tonight? Don’t you know it’s Christmas Eve?!”
    “Yes…” I hedged.
    “A holiday.”
    “Yes…”
    “A day for spending with family.”
    “Mom, I swear I will be at your house for turkey dinner tomorrow. But, Ramirez and I wanted to spend our first Christmas Eve together with just a nice, romantic, quiet evening at home.”
    “I never promised to be quiet,” Ramirez teased, grabbing my butt as he walked past with the ladder.
    I gave him a playful swat.
    “All right,” Mom said with a long-suffering sigh that only those who have given birth can master. “Spend the evening at home. You can catch up with us at Midnight Mass with your grandmother.”
    “Um, actually…”
    “Don’t say it, Maddie,” Mom warned.
    “Well, I kinda…”
    “If you love me at all, don’t tell me you’re not going to Midnight Mass with your grandmother.”
    I bit my lip. “Okay. I won’t say it.”
    Expectant silence hung on the other end.
    “Maddie, how could you!” Mom screeched.
    I pulled the phone away from my ear.
    “I’m sorry?” I said. Though it came out more as a question.
    “Your grandmother is Irish Catholic. Your grandmother lives for the church. Christmas Eve is maybe the most important day in the church. I just know you would not make you own mother, who loved you through every scraped knee and over-pierced adolescent boyfriend, tell your grandmother that you’re not coming to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve because you’re having a quiet evening at home!”
    I bit my lip again. Then said, “No, I wouldn’t.”
    Mom let out a sigh.
    Then I added. “Make Faux Dad do it.”
    “Maddie…” she warned.
    “Loveyou,MerryChristmas,you’rethebest,” I slurred together and quickly hung up the phone.
    Then dropped it in my purse again as if it were a time bomb waiting to go off.
    Yes, I know it was mean to leave Mom alone with Grandma. But I was pretty sure that I had years of dealing with my own mother’s eccentricities left, so it was only right to let her do her time with hers.
    “Did she blow up?” Ramirez came up behind me, wrapping both arms around my middle.
    “Like a hurricane on a trailer park.”
    “She’ll get over it.”
    “Maybe. Or maybe she’ll poison the cranberry sauce tomorrow night.”
    “Still worth it,” he mumbled, his lips nuzzling against my neck. His hands slid down to frame my hips, his mouth nibbling just at my pulse.
    I sighed. Yes. Yes, it was.


... and to read the rest, visit: www.gemmahalliday.com



~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for...

Those of us who are of a 'certain age' might recall writing assignments given to us by our teachers just before Thanksgiving break. We were asked to write a list of things we were thankful for that year. Of course, now in our state of separation of church and state run amok political correctness, I very much doubt public school teachers give this assignment to their students. Nevertheless, I think it's appropriate--even necessary--for all of us to take some time to sit and acknowledge those things in our lives we are grateful for. Now admittedly this year it might take more than the usual, uh, creativity, to come up with a respectable 'gratitude list', yet I feel confident we can all dig deep and do it.

I'll go first.

I am thankful for...

  • my faith, my family, my friends, and my country
  • wonderful weather for traveling
  • great books, good books, bad books--ah, heck--just books!
  • a job I love
  • four days off from the job I love
  • leftovers
  • READERS!
I could go on and on. I have much to be thankful for. As do we all, I suspect. Even in tough times.

And now, duty calls. I am cooking the 'feast' and Young Tom needs basting. Previous turkey attempts resulted in:
  • an exploding roasting bag
  • leaving the oven on 'time bake'
  • roasting the turkey upside down (although I have since learned Rachel Ray recommends this so nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)
Only time will tell if this year's efforts will be a success...

So what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving, 2008?

To you and yours a safe, happy, and yummy Thanksgiving.

~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Am I The Only One Who Finds This Creepy?



I ask because, well, I wonder about myself sometimes. Truth be told, it is just a female kitten with an E collar on so she will quit rubbing the fur off of her chin.


But try coming home to find her sitting in the corner a-la The Blair Witch Project. She doesn't move or even react to you or any noise you make. shudder...


Now I know, it's not her fault. It's my problem, really. Hell, I was weirded out by Holly Hobby in the 70's. Remember her? She didn't have a face!!! Well, some would argue with me that she did, indeed have a face, but for years all we saw was her sideways pose, no face just all Little-House-On-The-Prairie haberdashery. She gave me the willies.


Before her was the Casual Observer. This was another faceless little girl who always seemed to quietly watch life from the sidelines - never speaking - just WATCHING! I had nightmares about that thing for years.


Anyway, I've taken the collar off for the night. I don't want to get up in the dark to get a drink (of water...duh) and find her in the basement corner, luring me to some horrifying, scary ending.


That would totally suck.


Happy Thanksgiving.


The Casual Assassin

Oh, Those Reviews!

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Caffey, you are the big winner of one of my books and the other prizes. However, hubby pulled four other names out of my hat and said I needed to send them a pack of note cards and a pen, so . . . Brandy, Caroline, RK, and Terrio. Please send me your snail mail addresses to Christie (@) christie-craig.com so I can get those items in the mail.

CC

Well, today is the day. And to celebrate it, I’ve giving away a copy of Divorced, Desperate and Dating, a pack of note cards, and a “silly” Christie Craig pen that will remind you to keep smiling. So make sure you post, and also pop over to Dorchester’s website, at http://www.dorchesterpub.com/ and check out another contest where you might win a $20 gift certificate for Amazon.com.


My baby, my book, Divorced, Desperate and Dating, is off and running. The reviews are finally rolling in. It’s been a trying few weeks. Why? Well, some of you may not know this, but for the most part, writers are insecure little twits. Okay, I can’t speak for all writers, but the ones I know personally, won’t deny it. We wait, hold our breaths and pray our readers, fans, and the reviewers will love our babies as much as we do. Will they giggle in places we intended them to giggle? Will they sigh in those scenes we meant for them to sigh? Will they sniffle and have to blink away a tear in those passages that brought tears to our own eyes? Will they fall in love with our characters?

Yup, basically, we’re insecure little twits.

Anyway, today I thought I’d give you a peek at what some of reviewers are saying and you can also read my first thoughts after reading those reviews.

Fresh Fiction:

I really, really liked this story. It's fast-paced and extremely clever with a really good plot. Christie Craig's characters are very real, emotional people. You have to love Jason with his complicated background and admire him for becoming the man he is. You'll also love Sue's quirky mom and her "Elvis" boyfriend. Plan to put aside enough time to finish this book at one sitting. It's really hard to put aside! I look forward to more of Ms. Craig's fiction.

Christie’s first thought: She likes me and I don’t even know her. At least I don’t think I know her. Mama, did you go get a job at Fresh Fiction? Mama, is that you? Thank you, Fresh Fiction!

Romantic Times:

Four Stars and HOT. This sequel to Craig's Divorced, Desperate and Delicious is another delightfully entertaining novel with an intriguing mystery. Peopled with interesting new characters and familiar old ones, it also has its share of animal friends that add a lot of humor and warmth to the story.

Christie’s first thought: Who do I mail the check to? I’ll mail it as soon as I stop jumping up and down with joy. Love you RT!

Chey, Bookseller, at A Novel Place in Osseo, MN:

I loved Divorced, Desperate and Dating, by Christie Craig. I loved the characters Craig gathered to entertain us with and how she brought back the characters from Divorced, Desperate and Delicious into the new story so we can catch up on how they are doing. The humorous yet dysfunctional family is something we all can relate to.

Christie’s first thought: Dysfunctional? I thought they were pretty normal folks. I mean, I modeled them after my own family. You want to see dysfunctional? I’ll give you dysfunctional in the next book. J Thank you, Chey!!!!

Then there’s the inside reviews from the Craig household:

Bob Craig:

“You’ll stay up way too late reading it. But it’s purrrrfect. Now will you move the dog-gone book, so I can get comfortable?”



Louetta Craig:

“The pacing might be a little fast, but what do I know? I’m a
turtle.”





Mama Socks Craig:

“I loved everything about the book, but the crotch-smelling dog. Can I have my treat now?”




Skitter Craig:

“I laughed so hard I hacked up a hairball.”





Mr. Raton Craig:

“I thought someone said the book was a comedy. That was my uncle who bit the dust in the first chapter! And hey, that line right there is kind of cheesy, isn’t it?”





Oh Henry Craig:

“I hacked up a hairball, too. And it tasted like dead rat. Sorry about that, Mr. Raton, but no one insults my mama’s writing!”



Floppy Skivvies Craig:

“Someone said they were doing something like rabbits. I don’t understand.”



Okay…I hope I’ve given you a chuckle. And here’s what I want from you. Can you think of better captions for these pictures? Or post any comment for a chance to win.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, November 24, 2008

12/21/12 - Doomsday or Just Another Friday Beer Night?

If you've been watching television, movies, upcoming book releases at all, you've probably seen a 2012 trend. So what is the fascination with December 21, 2012? Well, some believe it's the date the Maya calendar ends (essentially, the completion of the 13th cycle), and that there will then be dramatic changes to the world as we know it.

Some say a meteor will strike earth, killing everything upon it, some say a new world order will begin (perhaps with aliens as our leaders), some say Christ will return, some think that a new age of enlightenment will come over earth. Then some others think options 2 & 3 are the same effort. I sometimes wonder if 1, 2, &3 wouldn't create 4, but then I've been accused of being a cynic.

So since no one knows for sure what the 2012 date actually means, no one can say what will really happen. I personally, have my doubts that anything more than getting off work and getting stuck in Friday evening traffic is going to occur since everyone will probably be getting off early for the Christmas holiday that falls on Monday.

What I DO know is that if I really believed that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012, there are some things I'd definitely change and some things I flat out wouldn't do.

1. I would immediately stop all contributions to my 401K.
2. I would cease and desist all purchases of anti-aging creams.
3. I would buy a tanning bed and tan year round.
4. I would not care at all if the Republicans couldn't come up with a better candidate in 2012.
5. I would not refinance my house on a 15-year note.
6. Beginning January 1, 2011, I would claim 10 dependents on my tax withholding form at work - hey, it 'll take them a year to catch up with me anyway.
7. In keeping with step 5, I'm not paying ANY taxes on my advances or royalties.
8. In reference to step 6., a multi-book contract for 2013 is probably a really stupid idea - collect royalties and take the year off.
9. Mid-year 2012, max out all credit cards and apply for all "no payments for six months" offers, even if I don't want the stuff they're selling.
10. Mid-year 2012, throw the diet out the window and lease the most expensive car I can qualify for.

So what about you....anything you'd do differently for the end of the world?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why I’m glad I threw my back out… kinda...

So, this week I’m at Starbucks, my favorite writing haunt, working out a particularly sticky plot situation for the book I’m working on. And it’s not happening. No matter how I try to look at the situation (or how many lattes I down), it’s not working for me. It’s like the solution is on the tip of my brain, but just out of reach. I decide I need some inspiration. Shopping break.

I pack up the laptop and jump in the car, pointing it toward the mall. Only, as I race down the freeway (at perfectly legal speeds, if any CHP are reading this…) it happens. That amazing moment where suddenly the fog lifts, everything is clear, and the characters start chattering in your brain. (Yes, I realize this sounds a little crazy, but bear with me…) It’s as if I can see a movie playing in my head, only the scenes aren’t in order, they’re all over the place. As I bounce from scene to scene, snippets of dialogue are thrown out, plot points magically appear, the entire book is almost all laid out before me in a sequence of pictures. It is the single coolest thing in the entire world.

Only I’m speeding down the freeway and can’t do anything about it.

So, I pull off at the next exit, screech into the parking lot, cutting off a perfectly lovely woman as I steal her parking place (Sorry, lady, but this is an emergency! My characters are talking!) and pull out my laptop. I’ve got minimal charge left. But I’m so using it. I slide my seat back as far as it will go, scrunch my laptop up against the steering wheel and start typing, getting down as much of the movie in my head as I can before it fades away.

Twenty pages and half an hour later, I am on a high that I’ve only seen chocolate martini’s rival. The plot works, the dialogue rocks, the characters are suddenly clear as day. I love it when books write themselves. In celebration I decide I will get out of the car and go buy something pretty at the store whose parking lot I’ve jut crashed. I set my laptop down, open the door, unfold myself from the front seat…

…and cry out in pain.

Shoving my body into the twisted, cramped space, I’ve totally thrown my back out. Change of plans, no shopping. I can hardly move, let alone walk into a store. Instead, I use a sweater to prop behind my back and carefully drive myself home without moving my upper torso. Then collapse spread eagle on my bed. And call the chiropractor.

That was three days ago. I’m just now able to sit at my desk again. But, despite the pain pills, chiropractor bills, and countless hours laying flat on my back counting ceiling tiles… it was totally worth it. I love this new book!


~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reading Recommendations...A/K/A It's getting close to final exam time.

The end of this college term is just two weeks away. That means final term papers and semester examinations. Once this term is over I'll just be two courses away from my degree! Whoo hoo! Since I really could use the time to cram, today's blog post will be short and sweet.

Last week I blogged about the economy and how a serious downturn might affect book sales and the publishing industry in general. Publishers (and writers) are understandably trying to figure out what their readers will be looking for between the pages of a good book. Humorous versus hard-boiled. Simple and uncomplicated versus complex and multi-layered. Light versus dark.

So, in that vein, nosy-Nellie here would like to know what you're reading at present. Is the book satisfying? Or, if you've recently read a book you'd like to rave about and recommend to the rest of us, go for it!

I'll go first. I'm reading an oldie but a goodie, NINE COACHES WAITING by Mary Stewart. I love the way Mary Stewart writes. Her books are perfect for curling up with a blanket and a cup of hot cider on a cold, blustery day. I also just started Rick Warren's A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. This is the third time I've read it. It's always inspirational and uplifting.

Okay. You guys next. What are you reading/enjoying in both the fiction and nonfiction realms? Any one read a book to die for lately? Do tell!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Shot You Babe...

I'm on a tight deadline, so this will be brief.

I was somewhere, mentioning the new title of the book, and someone (I forget a lot...Hashimoto's!) suggested coming up with a Bombay song based on the title.

So here it is guys, your moment of zen. I'll start the damned thing, but you have to contribute a verse. Let's see what we come up with!


I Shot You Babe (sung to the tune of I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher)

Bombays are killers, you know that's true,
The key is to shoot before I get shot by you...

Babe... I shot you babe... I shot you babe...



Alright guys, hit me with your best shot...Fire away!

The Assassin

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who Are You?


WINNERS, WINNERS!

Amy S. won the pizza cutter and Mary M. won the free book and goodies.

Amy has already contacted me, but Mary M., please send me your snail mail address at christie (@) christie-craig . com.

Thank you everyone for posting and visiting Killer Fiction.

CC






I just wanted to remind everyone to make sure you come back to see who wins tomorrow. Also...for those of you who like entering contests, pop over to http://www.dorchesterpub.com/ and check out my contest there that could win you a $20 gift certificate to amazon.com.


It finally happened. Slap one of those tight little white jackets on my butt and call me insane. I know some of you, those who have read my books or my blogs and even a few who know me, are thinking that I lost it a long time ago. Probably when the elephant felt me up in the zoo, or maybe when I tried to sneak out of the operating room because I was certain the doctors had misdiagnosed a bout of broccoli-induced gas with an appendicitis. I mean any writer who creates a whole character around the art of throwing up, has to have crossed the insane line a long time ago, right?

Okay, you guys may have a point, but hear me out.

You see, I was having a mundane lunch with a friend. We were chatting about my husband’s refusal to eat corn on the cob. Or rather, his refusal to eat “corn off the cob”. He loves fresh corn, but the idea of eating the vegetable off the cob is too much for him. I mean, who doesn’t like to sink their teeth into a corn cob? That’s part of the fun of eating the sweet buttered vegetable, right? Like I said, mundane stuff. But then it happened. I hear this voice in my head.

Some people, non-writers, would think just hearing a voice in their heads is a good enough reason to check into the local Looney-Toon retreat for an extended vacation. Ah, but you writers understand it completely. Right?

I mean, writers love it when our characters talk to us. We invite them to come on in. Oh, and please tell us how the night went with the hunk you met when they discovered the dead body in the back alley. We want the juicy details. You non-writers may be rolling your eyes about now, but don’t judge us too harshly, you love reading those juicy details, too.

Nevertheless, it’s not the voice’s appearance that bothered me. It was that I recognized the voice—I knew without a doubt that the voice was one of my heroines, someone I’d created, but I couldn’t put a face or name on the voice.

It’s sort of like seeing someone at the grocery store and recognizing them, but not being able to place them. Like the time I saw the man trying to decide between chicken noodle and chicken rice soup. I knew him, but couldn’t remember from where. With the two soups in his hands, he smiled. I mentally tried to place him sitting in one of my writer’s workshop. But I wasn’t so sure that was it. I tried to picture him as teaching a class I’d taken at one of my writing conferences. I wasn’t so sure that was it either. Maybe he’d worked with my husband and tried to see him at a Christmas party drinking too many margaritas. But still, I wasn’t sure.

That’s when it hit me that I was wearing my old workout clothes, no makeup, and a layer or two of sweat. The mystery man smiles, “I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Now, I’m not only embarrassed that I look like something that crawled out of the gutter and should have crawled into a shower, but that he recognizes me and I don’t remember him. I manage to smile and wave at my clothes. “Yeah, I guess you saw the better side of me last time, huh?”

I was hoping he’d give me a clue to where we knew each other, instead he looks surprised and says, “I guess.” Clinging to both cans of soup, he said good bye and walked away.

It wasn’t until hours later that I realized the last time I’d seen the guy, he’d had his head between my thighs . . . doing my pap smear. Yep, he was my gynecologist. (Was being an important word.) My point is that the whole not recognizing someone is frustrating. Even when it’s just a voice in your head.

All the voice said was, “Hey, remember that one scene? I figured out why I didn’t like it, and you were wrong.”

Now, I don’t like to be told I was wrong by a character. I mean, I created her and got her hitched up with a hot looking hero, the least she can do is go along with the plot. But, as so often happens, characters think they have a say in their roles. I’ll even admit their insights often have merit. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that I can’t figure out who she is or what scene she’s referring to. So I start asking questions. (Yes, we do talk back to our characters.) “Are you Lacy, the character who used the singing fish to clobber the man who later handcuffed you to the bed, and then you allowed him to eat a cat-food sandwich, but later you married him?” Divorced, Desperate and Delicious – December 2007

Nothing.

“Katie? Are you the nervous puker who met the sympathetic puker who was a PI, and whom you later ended up playing strip tease with while doing the dishes, all the while you hid from a serial killer?” Weddings Can Be Murder—June 2008

Nothing.

“Hey, Sue? Are you the one who received a dead rat from a stalker and when you tossed it up in the air it landed on your mom’s boobs and she tossed it back up and then your mom’s dog and your cat ate the evidence. And the drop-dead gorgeous detective who shows up at your house is the same man who kissed you senseless a few months back and didn’t even call you?” Divorced, Desperate and Dating – November 25, 2008

Nothing.

“Macy? Are you the pizza delivery girl one who ran into the casket, complete with corpse, on the highway while trying to outrun an escaped convict? Gotcha – May 25, 2009

Nothing.

“Kathy? Are you the third divorced friend, in my Divorced and Desperate Series, who fell for the plumber? Only to discover that your plumber isn’t really a plumber. Divorced, Desperate and Deceived – Nov. 2009

Nothing.

“Wait? Are you the photographer, whom I haven’t named yet, who accidentally takes a picture of . . .”

The problem is that I’m getting to the stage in my career (a good stage, so I’m not whining, I’m just trying to learn to deal with it) that I’m having to promote the books that I’ve published that are still on the bookshelves, work on promoting the books that have sold but have yet to be published, finish the books that are sold, but not yet submitted, and come up with ideas to pitch for future books. So I have all these quirky characters running around my head. When one speaks up, it’s not easy to figure out who they are, who they’re sleeping with, and who wants whom dead.

So . . . any suggestions on keeping myself sane during this very busy time in my career? Any of you want to share your experiences with the voices in your head? Or maybe share with me an experience of running into someone at the grocery store? Or does anyone else have an aversion to eating corn off the cob?

Hey, I’m open to discussing just about anything. I’m crazy remember?

Today I’m giving away a pack of Christie Craig note cards, a silly pen (to remind you to keep laughing) one book, either one of my previously published books, (or if you have both of them I’ll off you a friend’s book) and a pizza cutter with my logo. Why a pizza cutter? Well, the answer can be found in this blog, and I’ll give a pizza cutter to the first person who can answer that question too.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Today's topic - spontaneous human combustion.

Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) refers to the belief that the human body sometimes burns without an external source of ignition. As it is an unproven natural phenomenon, there is much speculation and controversy regarding SHC.

There are three possible explanations for this phenomenon that no one can prove has actually occurred (which I find rather interesting in itself:

1. The "wick effect" - the clothing of the victim soaks up melted human fat and acts like the wick of a candle. Another possibility is that the clothing is caused to burn by a discharge of static electricity.

2. It's supernatural.

3. SHC victims are lonely people who fall into a trance immediately before their incineration. A psychosomatic process in such emotionally-distressed people can trigger off a chain reaction by freeing hydrogen and oxygen within the body and setting off a chain reaction of mitochondrial explosions.

Now, of course, there is no basis in scientific fact for any of these, but then there's sorta no basis in fact for the supernatural...hence the name. :)

Some argue that SHC is not possible at all due to the large amounts of water that comprise our body's makeup, but here's a case with eyewitnesses:

In September 1985, a young woman named Debbie Clark was walking home when she noticed an occasional flash of blue light:

“It was me. I was lighting up the driveway every couple of steps. As we got into the garden I thought it was funny at that point. I was walking around in circles saying: 'look at this, mum, look!' She started screaming and my brother came to the door and started screaming and shouting 'Have you never heard of spontaneous human combustion?'”

Debbie's mother, Dianne Clark:

“I screamed at her to get her shoes off and it [the flashes] kept going so I hassled her through and got her into the bath. I thought that the bath is wired to earth. It was a blue light you know what they call electric blue. She thought it was fun, she was laughing."

There are many other reported incidents with witnesses and no apparent explanation for what happened. Some resulted in death, some merely scared the crap out of those around.

So what do you think...reality or the basis for a great movie with a young, scary Drew Barrymore????

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Author Jax Cassidy

And our completely drawn at random winner of Jax Cassidy’s Art of Sensuality is… refhater! Refhater, send me an email with your snail mail address to: gemmasreadermail@gmail.com and we’ll get you r prize out to you ASAP! Congrats!!!

I’m super happy to have one of my very best friends, Jax Cassidy, come play with us today. She is the coolest chick you’ll ever meet as well as one of my personal fav authors. And her first solo print book, Art of Sensuality, is out tomorrow!!!! Here's a little info about her book:

ART OF SENSUALITY
Release date: November 17th
ISBN: 978-1-6004-3044-2
Publisher: Parker Publishing
Art was not only a passion of Machiko Barrett, but also a destiny- a way of life she has known since her talent was discovered at 3-years-old. Caught in a turbulent storm of celebrity, scandal, and corruption, she disappeared from the art world only to re-emerge 15 years later. Her sheltered existence is disrupted when she is lured back to her one true passion: painting.

While she struggles to discover her own identity through her art, she encounters a man who opens her eyes to the art of sensuality, and awakens the woman buried deep inside the broken girl.

I know I will be first in line to get mine. If you want a sensual, smart read that will leave you doing that satisfied “awwww” at the end, I’d suggest you join me. ;) Jax is so cool, she's giving away a signed copy of Art of Sensuality to one lucky poster today! Just post a comment to be entered. Okay, take it away, Jax…


* * *

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

We are constantly surrounded by reminders that we can achieve success through the power of positive thinking. Whether we see these inspirational quotes in catalogues sent to our mail, in a magazine at the check-out aisle, or hanging in those oversized picture frames in those corporate offices, there is an underlying optimism that we can achieve all that is promised if we believe. Maybe I’m a sucker when it comes to these things but I must admit, over the years, I’ve held a love/hate relationship with these words of wisdoms. On days when I was skeptical that the sun would never shine again, I have held tight to those silly little quotes plastered along the border of my computer screen. Somehow, the corniest of sayings is just enough to help me get through that rough patch.

For me, the road to publication has been a challenging one, although most would believe beginner’s luck played a heavy part in publishing less than six months after writing my first romance. Yet, in my own personal journey I have been at this trade for well over twenty years. In the beginning, I started out with a desire to be a hard-hitting journalist, along the way I discovered that my love of storytelling and entertainment could be applied to screenwriting, and then came the overwhelming desire to be a novelist. Through these twist and turns of life I’ve managed to apply what I’ve learned within the different areas, I’ve never looked back. Writing is like breathing. Without it I would be lost without knowing what my future would become.

Where do the quotes come in? Well, I’ve had more than enough time to dissect these nuggets of inspiration so I will happily share my thoughts with you. I’m no authority by any means, but I know at least someone out there will agree to my observations.

Over the years I’ve discovered that success is in the eye of the beholder. To succeed does not necessarily mean monetary gain or celebrity status, it means different things to different people. On the surface I may look like any healthy person, but inside I have been battling a physical and neurological illness since 1998. Some days I can’t seem to get myself out of bed, and on others, I wonder if I would ever have the strength to continue on this course. Although I may be in the early stages of my writing career, I realize I have already succeeded far more than I would ever conceive. Today I am living a normal life again. When doctors once told me I may never recover, I have proven that the mind has the power to heal if one believes hard enough. Nothing beats a person down more than having to learn your motor skills again, or trying to remember simple phrases and words that have always been engrained in you since childhood, or recognizing that the essence of who you are is still locked deep inside and someday they may resurface again.

Without experiencing these personal hardships, I don’t think I would have been able to see my own definition of success. Nor would I have the material to create convincing stories that will entertain readers. My success is defined by the power of overcoming personal obstacles on my own terms. The rest is just a bonus for me.

One of my favorite sayings is:

Every artist was first an amateur.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I realize this is so simplistic but it’s true, and it applies to any artist of any medium. We aren’t all born prodigies, but we first start life a bit clueless. We must learn in order to shape our own vision of who we are as an artist. With education, interaction with those more experienced than us, and through hands-on training in the professional world, we are given opportunities to grow and improve if we open our eyes to the life lessons. Whether they are hidden or blatant learning opportunities, these situations provide a pivotal tool that we need to recognize. If you don’t try you will never grow. If you don’t grow you won’t succeed. What does it hurt to try? It’s a win-win because either way you are learning and growing from those mistakes or accidental achievements.

Looking back I see that my journalism helped me to be technical and precise. My screenwriting helped me to create beyond the limitations of ‘just the facts’. My novel writing helped me to delve deep into my soul to provide a sense of realism to my stories that would grab the readers on an emotional level. We all start out as a blank canvas and with time and experience; we layer on those elements, one by one, that will eventually shape and form a fully cohesive painting filled with depth and emotion. We become an individual masterpiece that we should be proud of and can embrace.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
—Socrates

Socrates was dead-on with this quote. I’m a big believer that a persona or an image can make or break a career. Most writers often forget that what we show to the public is what the public will perceive of us. I’ve seen on many occasions when an author reveal too much of themselves, are too vocal, or lash out before they have fully thought out a response which can essentially destroy their image in one fail swoop.

On the one hand, we want our friends and readers to get to know us better. On the other hand, we may cross boundaries by airing all our dirty laundry without realizing it. To have an effective persona, we must keep quiet when the situation calls and we must turn the other cheek so we don’t dig our own graves. I’m too busy carving a future so I try not to read blogs or websites that focus on the negative or tearing others apart for pure enjoyment. Frankly, I find it a waste of energy spent stewing when I could be focusing on producing more work. When an author helps to prolong those flame wars via the eUniverse, years from now they will not escape or undo the proof of their one moment of lapse in judgment.

Writers need to remember that they are representing themselves and unprofessionalism can easily attract the publishing industry. All eyes are on you but it may not be for the reasons you’d like. Who knows when an agent, editor or publisher is watching and listening in so it’s safe to say that staying out of those dangerous situation and fueling your professionalism in the writing industry may be the best recourse. Okay, I won’t lie, I’ve seen my fair share of authors crashing and burning even before they made it out of the gate. As an author, I want a long-term career and if it means continuing to be consistent and professionally savvy, I’m going to make every second count.

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
—Francis Bacon

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
—Theodore Roosevelt

Writers have so many resources available to them these days. The World Wide Web has made it possible to reach a wider audience and whether you’re published or unpublished, you can jumpstart your career by getting your name out there. The more active and visible you are, the more opportunities you will find available to you. The writing community is immense and you don’t want to be one out of thousands fighting your way to get recognized. Why not build your image now so that when opportunity knocks, you’ll be prepared. Go to conferences, join your national and local chapters, volunteer when you can and when you gather enough contacts and friends, you’ll see those doors slowly opening for you with a chance to reach your goals faster. Initiating some kind of progress instead of laying low will get you farther in this industry.

Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.
—Benjamin Franklin

Life has a way with throwing a monkey wrench into your plans, but positive thinking does sooth more than hurt. I’m not saying that you’re not entitled to be depressed, sulk, or feel sorry for yourself but none of those things are going to help you overcome the situation at hand. When I feel like giving up, I think about all the progress I’ve made, all the words I’ve written, all the time I’ve invested into this dream—then I try to figure out a way to keep my spirits up in order to get back into that writing frame of mind. Whether it’s finding another outlet to be creative or spending one day alone to regroup, you’ll discover that the problems will still remain, yet you are making an effort to cope. By accepting those situations you can’t control, you are rising above the issues. You taking charge of your own mental state may help you move on with a renewed outlook. Issues will work itself out one way or another, so don’t allow those outside forces to trap you in a perpetual bubble. You’ll find those solutions and baby steps will get you back on track in no time at all.

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
—Frank Loyd Wright

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
—Henry David Thoreau

A dear friend of mine once told me that YOU have the power to make things HAPPEN. If you believe you’ll reach publication, superstardom, or the New York Times, it will happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but if you keep at it long enough, you will see the fruits of your labor. Look around you, there are so many creative people out there. Heck, some may even be better than you but the longer you’re at it, you’ll see that many of these same talented people will have dropped off and gone in different directions. When you look even closer, the last one standing is the one that has overcome all those hurdles that may appear too difficult to conquer. Look even closer and you will find that you may be the last one standing. When you’ve endured the most difficult of tasks, you will see spread out before you the endless miles of your own success.

Let’s face it; the power of positive thinking is energy. This truth has been around for about as long as the world has been created. When you send out those positive signals to the Universe, you are receiving those energies back in ways you might not have ever noticed. Don’t shut yourself off from glimpsing the smallest of energies because it might be enough for you to hang onto. I used to be one of those people who complained about all the negative things in my life. Then one day I woke up and discovered that negativity draws more negativity. Staying positive makes the world a brighter place and staying positive gives you more clarity to make wiser choices. We tend to make poor choices when we are suffering mentally with the heaviness of all the chaos around us. Take a deep breath, get yourself into the right frame of mind and you can turn the situation around. All it takes is a few minutes and you can save yourself from a lifetime of regret.

So, the next time you scoff at one of those silly sayings in a fortune cookie or in a catalogue, ask yourself: How do YOU define SUCCESS?

Be sure to ask yourself that question again and again on a regular basis and you may discover that those tiny things that may often seem obsolete are actually small measures of success. Don’t over think the question. Just recognize that if you have tried anything at least once in your life, you have already succeeded!



~Jax


Jax Cassidy is a multi-published author and has written under the pen name Cassidy Kent. She is Co-Founder of Romance Divas, an award winning romance writer's website and discussion forum. In between skydiving for charity and campaigning against human trafficking, she enjoys the company of close friends and indulges her caffeine fix at the nearest cafe. An avid traveler and an adventurous spirit, Jax has drawn inspiration from her experiences and often blends the exotic mix of Eastern and Western lifestyles into her writing. When she isn't locked up in her office penning her latest manuscript, Jax can be found creating abstract paintings for future art shows, or dividing her time between California, Texas, and Florida.
For more information on Jax, visit her website at www.jaxcassidy.com or blog at www.jaxadora.blogspot.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Tis the season…

Show of hands… who has started their Christmas shopping already? (*Gemma raising hand*) Yes, I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who wishes the Christmas season lasted 6 months instead of just one. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, it’s early still. But as soon as Starbucks rolls out the egg nog lattes and red cups with little snowflakes and reindeer on them, it’s the holiday season in my world. I already have my Amazon.com cart full of Christmas presents. And this year my editor extraordinaire turned me on to a new Amazon feature – the gift organizer. It is the coolest thing ever!! I can make specific profiles for everyone on my Christmas list, put in info about them, and Amazon actually gives me ideas based on what I input. Even better, once I start adding items to each person’s gift list, Amazon uses those to further hone their suggestions. I’ve ordered three things base on Amazon’s wisdom alone so far. Seriously, if you are into no-brainer shopping, you must check this out. (And Amazon isn’t even paying me to say this! Ha! Hmm… though if they did, I could order a lot more… hint, hint Amazon guys…) So, thanks to the wonders of Amazon, I have ideas for everyone on my Christmas list.

Except one person.

Mr. Big.

So, we’re at that delicate 6 month mark where we’re not seeing anyone else, and I’d safely call him my “boyfriend” (to anyone except my grandfather who has been on groom watch since I hit puberty), but the wrong present could easily push things into too serious too soon territory. I want to say, “I really dig you” but avoid saying “I’m branding you as mine for ever and ever”, know what I mean? Originally I had this great, perfectly neutral, yet still sweet gift all picked out and in my Amazon cart. But…

Last week, I went out of town. Between that and Big’s work schedule lately, by the time I finally got home it had been almost two weeks since we’d seen each other. Too long in my book. So, the next night I went to his house and we ordered pizza and watched some football. Fun, low key evening. Awesome. Towards the end of the night, he starts rummaging around in a closet. I ask what he’s looking for and he says, “Something for you.” Yay! I love things for me. And it must have shown how excited I was, because he tempered it with, “It’s just a little something.” Oh. Okay, well, that’s fine, I love little things too. So, he finally finds his little something and hands it to me.

It’s a handbag. A designer Coach handbag. For anyone not familiar with the price of Coach handbags, go google it. (Seriously, I’ll wait. Google it.) Okay, now that we’re all on the same page… holy crap!!! If this is his idea of a “little something” I’m totally going out of town more often. I’m floored. And ecstatic. And a little bit in love. (With the purse, though he’s coming in a real close second at this point.) This is by far the coolest gift any guy has ever given me.

So… you see how my neutral-yet-still-sweet gift idea suddenly went down the toilet. After that “little something” I need a huge, great, awesome, amazing gift idea that still manages to delicately avoid that branding territory. Yes, I know this is a near impossible task. Which is why I need your help. Help!!! Any ideas?


~Trigger (and Handbag) Happy Halliday

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Book Bucks' Or 'Fiction Forecast'...

Things are tough all over. With the exception of Walmart--which reported a 10% rise in profits--businesses are hurting. With credit drying up, job claims at a seven year high, a million foreclosed homes expected to be dumped onto the real estate market by next year, and food and energy costs going up while wages remain stagnant, the economy is on everyone's mind. While economic and financial experts with twenty page resumes and a whole lot more letters behind their names than I have try to figure out solutions to the nation's economic crisis, individual business people-- including authors whose livelihoods and careers depend on consumer discretionary income--hunker down and try to ride out the storm. But just what is the 'fiction forecast' for these turbulent times? How will the book-buying public adjust their spending habits? And how will that affect the purchasing practices of publishers? (Sorry. A little heavy on the alliteration there, wasn't I?)

Opinions differ on how readers will respond to a possible budget crunch--as does speculation on what business decisions publishers make relative to an uncertain economic outlook. A recent New York Times article indicated that the timing for debut authors may be bad--with less attention (i.e. 'moolah') devoted to these new authors. As publishers cut costs, the article points out, more focus is being put on name authors and 'celebrity' newbies.

But not everything is as bleak as it might seem in the book realm. While net sales of books this past spring fell 3.5 percent, adult mass-market sales were up 4.7 percent during the same time period so there is cause for optimism.

Books are a tremendous value. Where else can you get away from the stress and uncertainty of 'real life' and escape to a place filled with laughter, intrigue, angst, and misadventure and all for the price of two jumbo Starbuck's mocha lattes or a small one-topping pizza?

So what's Bullet Hole's magnificent business plan to steer through the ups and downs of challenging economic times?

Keep my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard and write the best book I can. My advice to other writers out there? Do likewise.

Readers, how are your book buying habits changing? What types of books will you be reading during tough belt-tightening times? And writers--will this economic climate alter what you write and how you write? Share some collective pearls of wisdom.

Personally, I've got to believe there will always be a market for a damned good book.

So, what do you think?

~Bullet Hole determined to be optimistic~

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thyroid Gland...Thyroid Gland...Friendly, Neighborhood-Sized Thyroid Gland!

This isn't going to sound like a funny story at first, but somehow I factually found a lot of humor in it. I know you're surprised.

I got a clean bill of health from my Endocrinologist this week. Yay me! You see, I'd had a second biopsy of my thyroid. Seems the first one wasn't painful...I mean conclusive enough. So, no thyroid cancer, just a whopping big thyroid. Like the size a Tyranosaurus Rex would have...if dinosaurs had thyroid glands that is.

Here's how it went down.

Last June I went to see my doctor with a sinus infection. When I spoke, I swallowed - as all people do, right? She stopped and stared at my throat (which freaked me out considerably) and asked me to do it again. Then she gave me a cup of water and had me swallow. Apparently, I had practically sprouted an Adam's apple. Actually, my thyroid had gone Godzilla on me.

So, I had to go get an ultrasound. Now, I'd only ever had one of these done when pregnant. It's weird when it's on your neck. Seriously, having warm goo squirted onto your throat...it's a bit obscene. Anyhow, they said I'd hear back. And I did, while in San Francisco during the RWA conference. The nurse told me I had three nodes inside my thyroid on the left side and two on the right. (Doesn't anyone care about symmetry anymore?) So scheduled me for a visit to an Endocrinologist in September.

Of course, I worried right through August. I couldn't even pronounce Endocrinologist. I can write it, but I can't say it (it's like Steve Martin with "abominable," remember that?). The morning of my appointment, I began signing this song in the shower (it's based on "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than have a frontal lobotomy...")

"I'd rather be a war crimes apologist, than see an Endocrinologist."

I don't know where that came from. Obviously it isn't politicially correct but do you know how hard it is to rhyme with Endocrinologist???

On the way there, Mr. Assassin accidentally turned too soon and we ended up at the Hospice Center. I (rather frostily) told him I didn't think I was quite ready for that yet. He apologized and we made it to the E. center. It was pouring down rain but I was so ready to get this damned thing I'd been worrying about over with I didn't care. In fact, I was so ready that the receptionist informed me that I'd arrived a day too early for my appointment.

We went back the next day (after consulting my datebook and realizing I really did go one day early) and they showed us in. The doctor was fabulous. I loved that she had a little toy thyroid gland (I might have to knit one) on her desk - how cool is that? Anyway, she explained that she wanted to do a needle aspiration biopsy that day and told me that it was okay because, "Thyroid cancer is the cancer everyone wants to get because it's so slow-acting."

I asked her, "There's a cancer everyone wants to get?" Really? I had no idea.

So we go into this other room and she asks if I'm okay with needles. I assure her that I am - I mean I give blood all the time and everything. The doctor says they use really fine needles but I'm not worried because like I said - needles don't bother me. I lay down on the table with a pillow under my shoulders and hyper-extend my throat by tilting my head back (which, by the way, is very uncomfortable). She does the ultrasound thingy and using the computer screen (which I think is a dubious way of doing things - but maybe that's just me), and inserts the needle gently into my neck.

They had to peel me off the ceiling. I kid you not.

Anyway, they did this four more times, which was just as much fun every single, damn time. I went home with a ring of bandaids circling my throat. It looked like I'd seriously botched slitting my own throat - which is something I would never do. I had bruising the next day. We had to walk around telling everyone that no, Mr. Assassin did not attempt to strangle me and no, I wasn't playing the choking game either.

After five agonizing days, the good doc calls and says the nodes on the right showed I have Hashimoto's disease and are benign. However, on the left the tests were inconclusive. I'll need to come back and DO IT AGAIN!

So I spend the next month waiting and reading about Hashimoto's disease. This is cool because it's not fatal. In fact, one of the side effects is forgetfullness! I KNEW it. Or rather, I didn't, because I forgot! Mr. Assassin was not amused when we had this conversation;

M.A.: Did you run by the bank?
Me: Um, no.
M.A.: You forgot...again???
Me: (maybe a little too cheerfully) It's that damned Hashimoto's!
M.A. :You can't use that as an excuse.
Me: Uh, yes I can! The doctor said I could! (I followed this with a little end zone dance while my husband tells me again that I can't use this as an excuse. But he was there! He heard the doctor say that! Woo hoo!)

So we went back in again last week. The doctor put me through the paces and this time I ripped my fingernails through my palms to distract myself. It didn't help when she said, "I don't know how we missed that last time. These nodes are so big. I mean they are HUGE."

To make a long story short - I don't have cancer. Just an enormous thyroid that probably makes me look like a female impersonator with nodes you could choke a hippo with.

But on the bright side, I have a get-out-of-jail-free card for the rest of my life with this Hashimoto's thing. And that's a pretty fair trade as far as I'm concerned.

The Assassin

Where Are You From?

Winners, Winners, Winners,

First, I want to say thank you so much to everyone for playing and posting. Because I had so many posts, I decided to give away two prizes for the humorous sayings. And two for just commenting.

MSHELLION,VIRGINIA, REFHATER, and JOYE please contact me, via my website address at christie @ christie- craig. com (no spaces)

You guys have won, a book, either Divorced, Desperate and Delicious or Weddings Can Be Murder. (If you have both of those, I'm giving away one of my friends/writing buddies books, either Real Vampires Live Large by Gerry Bartlett, or Like a Charm by Candace Havens. From come, first serve on those two books.) A pack of my very own "pet" note cards and "silly" pen to help remind you the importance of smiling. So contact me and give me your snail mail address and selection.

Thanks again everyone. You guys made my day.

CC



Okay…this ain’t no secret. Most of you have probably figured it out by reading my posts, or better yet, by reading my books. In two weeks from today, Divorced, Desperate and Dating hits the stands, and you can bet your boots, that you’d be able to figure it out by reading that tall tale.

For those of you who have met me personally, you didn’t have to read squat. You pretty much figured it out when I opened my mouth. And since I seldom keep the trap closed, it’s a no-brainer conclusion to make.

What am I’m talking about? Hold your horses, I’m fixin’ to tell ya’.

I’m talking about talk, southern talk. I’m talking about being southern. The language of the south, the twangs, the drawls, the word choices, clich├ęs, and . . . the mannerisms. And then there’s the manners. Honey, in these here stomping grounds we were raised to mind our manners. I mean, even if we’re telling people how the cow ate the cabbage, we do it in such slow, soft-spoken words, that it’s sweater than a glass of Aunt Bertha’s tea. Southerners are known to be polite and friendly. Why, here in Texas we have road signs that say, “Drive friendly.” My Californian step-dad asked me if that meant he had to wave at everyone as he drove past.

If a southerner says something that’s less than kind, we back it up with those famous words, “Bless his/her heart.” For example, “He couldn’t pour spit out of a boot if the instructions were written on his heel. Bless his heart.” Now we just called some poor fella dumber than dirt, but the blessing more than makes up it.

I remember moving to Los Angeles back in the early eighties. I’d no more open my mouth when I’d get the question: “Where are you from?” Now, I’ll have to confess, it annoyed the crappers out of me. I simply didn’t cotton to the fact that everyone knew right off the bat that I wasn’t from hereabouts. What I had to say wasn’t important, those folks just wanted to listen to me yarn some words together. Not that I didn’t like to talk, mind you, but this southern gal talked to be heard not to entertain.

Sometimes people didn’t even understand what I was saying. Once having a conversation with a neighbor, she told me her husband had said she needed to get breast implants.

I quickly told her that her husband obviously didn’t know diddley. Her response was, “Neither do I. What’s Diddley’s last name?”

I’ll admit, I even tried to learn to talk like the women on the six o’clock news. In case you’re wondering, it didn’t work out too well. The ya’lls, ain’ts, and pretty pleases, just kept slipping out. As a matter of fact, one of my best jobs in the big city was granted to me because of my southern drawl. I got paid a purty penny to get the big wigs of companies on the phone to answer a few market research questions. Oh, they liked hearing me talk.

Yup, I’ve learned to embrace my southerness both in my spoken words and in my written tales. You might be surprised at how many people have defined my writing voice as: southern sass and southern humor. And I guess, when I think about it, it’s true. My characters are mostly southern, they talk southern, and so far all my stories have taken place in the south. And I guess you could call my heroines a bit sassy since they have a special way of dealing with men who chap their hides or people who set out to put a burr under their saddles. As for the humor, well, we do like to laugh in the south.

Yup, I have a hankering for good southern phrases. Most of them I get from just listening to people around me.

My dad, an Alabamian as the day is long, is always giving me great verbal jewels for my books. One that my heroine Sue uses in the book, Divorced, Desperate and Dating is, “Fine as frog’s hair.” Now, I’ll be honest with you. I’m not all together certain that frogs have hair. Or if it’s fine or coarse. But in the south, we never let logic get in the way of a good saying. For example, take the words I heard my mama use all her life. “If you don’t behave, I’m gonna pinch cha’ head off.”

Now, while that creates a rather disturbing visual, let me tell you, that she also used those same words in a positive affirmation, too. “I love you so much that I could pinch cha’ head off.”

So you see, pinching your head off could be a good or a bad thing. Who knew?

Another one I’ve heard, “You’re so sweet, I could serve you up with biscuits and peach preserves.” Not sure I ever wanted to be served up for breakfast, but it was a good thing.

So, here’s what I want from you today. Give some verbal jewels. I don’t even care if they’re southern. I want some quirky or unique phrases. Think back on what your grandparents used to say. I’m gonna be giving away two prizes today. One for the best saying, and one of just a random drawing from a poster from today’s posts and last Saturday and Sundays. So post away and win some free loot.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Joys of Jury Duty

Hi guys! Sorry I'm late posting today. I had jury duty this morning and it threw my entire schedule off. BUT, I did learn something interesting (that I'd be willing to bet Christie already knew), you can actually have fun at jury duty! I was part of a jury pool on a DUI case. Check out these quotes from the jury selection questioning portion of the morning:

Prosecuting attorney: Legally intoxicated means that your behavior is impaired beyond normal functioning. This means normal for the average individual, not for this particular individual. Can the police be expected to know what is normal for a particular inidividual?
Mr. Miller: Depends on the size of the town.

Defense attorney: So, Mrs. Smith, could you put your prejudices aside in order to make a fair judgment?
Mrs. Smith: I have to do that?

Prosecuting attorney: Anyone with a friend/relative that got arrested for DUI and you didn't agree with the arrest?
Mr. Jones: My buddy got a DUI and he'd only drank one beer. How is that possible?
Another juror: How big was the beer?

Prosecuting attorney: Ms. Thomas, when asked to rank your local police department on a scale of one to ten, you selected one. Why"
Ms. Thomas: Because you didn't give me the option of zero.

Defense attorney: Do any of you have religious beliefs that prohibit drinking?
(I raise my hand)
Defense attorney: Ms. DeLeon - what religion are you?
Me: Southern Baptist
Defense attorney: So you don't drink?
Me: I didn't say that - I'm just acknowledging that my religion prohibits it.
Defense attorney: So you DO drink?
Me: All southern baptists drink. Just not in front of other southern baptists.

And finally - a mystery solved: Why I never get selected for jury duty.

Defense attorney: Does anyone here have friends/relatives who are law enforcement or otherwise associate with law enforcement?
(I raise my hand)
Me: I am a published mystery author. I consult regularly with all branches of law enforcement, forensic specialists, and members of the court systems.
Defense attorney: If selected, you cannot bring personal knowledge into deliberation. You must make a decision only on the facts presented and not on any other knowledge you might have from your research. Do you understand what this means?
Me: Yes. It means I might have to pretend that I don't know you are wrong.

The good news - I handed out a ton of bookmarks! :)

So have any of you ever gotten selected?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Keep On Keeping On

First I’d like to thank Christie for inviting me to come in today. I’m glad to be here and happy to share my thoughts on overcoming doubt and how I keep moving forward.

The very biggest, largest, hugest, oh-my-gosh-keep-this-in-mind thing that keeps me going is…DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINION GET TO YOU! I can’t say that enough and can’t even possibly begin to convey how important that is and how much I live by that saying.

I never want to find out what it’s like to sit at the computer and question every sentence I put down. I figured out long ago that no matter how much I tinker, it will never, ever be perfect to everyone. What I write, I write for myself, to make myself happy. What I hope to happen is to find somebody else (mainly somebody who can send my book to the shelves) who loves my story just as much as me. I’ve never chased trends or tried to write something I don’t enjoy reading. Writing what I love keeps me happy about what I’m doing. It pushes me to reach publication to find those readers who will fall in love with my story.

It’s not easy sometimes. Especially when you get that honest to god contest feedback. I’ve been told not once, but twice by contest judges that they don’t think English is my first language. I’ve also been told I string sentences together awkwardly and I’ve got my *insert grammar word that I don’t understand* in the wrong place and mixed with *insert another grammar word that I don’t understand*. I’ve been told I should invest in a grammar book (think there might be some truth to that suggestion?). Apparently I use my words wrong and no editor or agent would read past the first couple pages until I start using words properly.

I don’t let those things—those opinions, bother me. You shouldn’t either. Look at your critiques for they are—suggestions to help your story. If the suggestion rings with me and makes me want to slap my forehead, then I make the change. Every critique you get should come with some positive feedback. If it doesn’t, ignore that critique. If they didn’t have anything nice to say, then they just didn’t like your story. And that’s okay, because that just happens sometimes. Do you like every story you’ve came up against? Heck no, so why put that demand on yourself? Want an example? I entered the same story (with no changes made to the entry) in two different contests. Contest A I completely and utterly bombed in. When I say bombed, I was in the bottom of half of 40 or so entrants. Contest B, I’m a finalist and my entry is sitting with Berkley right now.

This is why you can’t let other’s opinions get to you. Because it’s just an opinion. And that’s it. It all goes back to that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Doubting is one slippery slope. Don’t look at that road. Don’t think about that road. I wouldn’t touch that road with a 100 foot pole. You get on that road and it’s one heck of a climb to come off. It’s full of rocks, thorns, deadly snakes, and the nastiest, creepiest bugs you could ever imagine. Like I said, I wouldn’t go near that road.

Publishing is hard enough as it is right now, don’t make it worse by becoming a Doubter. Before you even think about sending your work out, go grab you an extra suit of skin (don’t forget those big girl panties!), put it on, and then get busy with your writing career. Just sitting at the computer and typing won’t get you anywhere but a drawer full of manuscripts. Put yourself out there. Submit your work. Be prepared to learn. I write fairly fast, and I typically write two stories at once, so it seems like I’m always involved with the query process. I send out five or so queries, wait for what comes back and then send out another five or so. I have specific agents I target first and after I’ve exhausted that list, I start looking at publishers.

If you want to get somewhere in this business (and I do), you got to bust your backside. You got to want it and you got to want it bad, buddy. When one rejection rolls in, start looking at where you want the next submission to go. After that, get on that next chapter of that next story. Don’t stop. Don’t give yourself a moment to eat a gallon of ice cream and have yourself thinking, maybe this isn’t the place for me.

Publishing if full of rejection. As an unpublished writer, I face that rejection every day and I know that it will never end even after I’m published. If it’s not an agent or editor rejecting my work, then it’s going to be a reader crapping all over my book. Be prepared to take whatever might come back. If you don’t think you can handle someone calling your baby ugly just yet, then you might want to hold off on sending that work out.

Don’t let someone’s comment crush your dream. NOBODY has that the right to do that. I’ve always carried the thought that if you reach for the stars, you just might land on the moon. And getting on the moon would pretty freaking cool to me.

Keri Ford has been actively chasing her publishing dream for 3 ½ years. She maintains a website (www.keriford.com) and you can catch her at her new blog, www.EverybodyNeedsALittleRomance.com –be sure to stop by in December for prizes!! She also participates with RomanticInks (www.romanticinks.com/blog) on Sunday.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Divorcing Doubt

Today I decided to post a blog I wrote as a guest blog for: http://www.writingplayground.blogspot.com/. It's a great site, so pop over there and check it out. While my subject is about writing, the message can be applied to everyday life. And tomorrow, I've invited another writer, Keri Ford, who will post her thoughts on overcoming doubt in her writing career. So . . . I hope you all will enjoy these two posts. Drop a comment on these two posts and I'll include your name to next week's prize drawing.

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Why am I trying to write? I wouldn’t know a good sentence if it jumped up and tattooed itself on my butt! I’m tired of having to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. If I was any good, I’d get it right the first time. How many rejections does it take for the message to sink in?

They arrive in droves. One will hit me, then before I have a chance to recover there’s comes another. BAM! Oh those negative, piercing, painful thoughts. And sometimes they’re not even just about writing. How about the ones that attack the size of our thighs? Or start criticizing the lines around our eyes? Self doubt can sting.

Have you ever dealt with it? If you’ve never suffered from this problem, you have my permission to stop reading right now. Go scrub a toilet or do something equally important. But if you, too, have been smacked around a time or two by the villainous self-doubt, then listen up.

First, we must realize that self doubt plagues most of us. It’s especially true for us wacky people who call ourselves writers. Yup, we’re prone to be a bit manic depressive. I don’t mean for you to run off to the doctor and sign up for meds. What I’m saying is that that most of us live on highs and lows. We make a sale, write a good scene, discover a new market, and we’re on Cloud Nine. We get a rejection, someone butchers one of our pieces, or we go too long without hearing anything back on our manuscripts and we, like the drama queens and kings that we are, go to the edge of our cloud, close our eyes, release all our negative voices, and commit emotional suicide.

I said it might be normal, but I didn’t say it was okay—because it’s not okay.
Especially if, after you hit rock bottom, you don’t pick yourself up, wipe up the blood, sweat and tears, (you don’t want to leave the mess around for anyone else to pick up) and go in search of a ladder. Heck! You’ve got clouds to climb. Markets to research, manuscripts to write. You’ve got to make it up to Cloud Nine so you can jump off again!

My point is that, in this business, as there is with most things, there’s going to be highs and lows. And most every published author will tell you that it doesn’t stop when you get that call, or the first contract, or the tenth, or twentieth contract. Self doubt plagues all of us.

You need to accept and know you’re not alone in the crazy ups and downs. Most of us experience it, live with it, deal with it, most of us even survive it. We divorce it. We usually have to keep divorcing it, because just like a bad penny, or a bad (but sexy) man, the moment we let down our guards, it sneaks its way back into our creative souls. The way we deal with it is to start enjoying the climb up the ladder as much as possible. Being on top is fun, Cloud Nine is a nice place to be, so milk it for all it’s worth. But more important is to find ways to enjoy your work—to enjoy the climb, the steps, even the baby steps. Hey, remember writing when you loved it. When it was all about the passion of getting that story on paper? Yeah, that’s where you need to be again.

To help control and divorce doubts, I offer these tips: (Most are writing related, but the majority of them can be applied to any situation.)

Seek out positive people. Negativity is like a bad stomach virus. All you need to do is be in the room with someone who has it, and you’re gonna get it. And generally, it ain’t pretty.

Get into a competition with another writer. A healthy competition. See who can complete a proposal first.

Allow yourself to dream, picture yourself getting the call, the contract! Or that positive review.

Make it fun by dangling a carrot out in front of yourself. A completed chapter warrants a lunch out with a friend, or even a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Relieve stress by keeping your focus. Set a schedule and stick to it, you’ll not be near as hard on yourself if you are working on that goal than if you are procrastinating.

Come up with some positive affirmations to offset the negative self-doubt stuff. Go around singing, “I’m good. I’m really good.” Sounds crazy? Of course it does. It will also sound crazy to anyone hearing you, but it does help. Besides, everyone who knows you already knows you’re a fruitcake.

Play positive music while you write.

Keep proof of your successes in front of you when you write—a contest certificate, a positive critique, anything that reminds you that you can do it.

Never put all your eggs in one basket. Start a new book after the first one has been submitted.
Laugh at yourself. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Laugh at your mistakes. We all make them, we might as well have some fun with them.
Remember: if we don’t learn from our mistakes, there’s no use in making them! Yeah, laughing at them is fine, but you still have to learn from them.

Take time to play. There can be a fine line between dedicated and obsessed. Make sure you’re on the right side of the line. Skipping baths and letting fuzzy stuff grow on your teeth just because you need to finish a scene, this might mean you’re a little obsessed. But just a little, cause we’ve all done it.

Try writing something totally different. Sometimes we just need to try a new approach or a new genre to get our creative juices flowing and to chase away those negative feelings.

Allow yourself to feel challenged. Boredom quickly leads to failure. A quick fix to boredom is to accept a challenge, to try something new, something new encourages you to learn, to push yourself, to grow. And I don’t mean in pant sizes. Watch those calories.

Face your fear and slap it around a little. Go ahead; admit what you’re really afraid of. Admit it, and then figure out how you will deal with it, how you’ll overcome it, how you’ll smack it around. Show fear that you are no one to be messed with.

Try meditating. You know why all those good ideas come to us when we’re driving or in the shower? It’s because you’ve allowed your mind to rest. So give your mind a rest, even it means standing in the shower for an extra ten minutes every day.

Oh, you’ll still be doing belly flops and nosedives off a few clouds—life and the publishing business almost guarantees it—but hopefully you’ll be spending less time on rock bottom, and more time happily tagging clouds as you make your climb onward and upward to make your dreams come true.

So any of you want to share about your own doubts? Come on. You can do it.

CC

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tequila ate my homework

Today I’m posting at you live (almost) from Los Angeles! So, if I’m not around to comment a ton it’s probably because I’m either a) schmoozing with network execs to get my latest show on TV, or b) doing something really touristy and taking lots of pictures of it which I will post on the blog next week. :) But in the meantime… let me tell you the sad tale of why I did not met my page count last week.

Last week Mr. Big got a nice contract at work, so we decided to go out to celebrate. It being a weekday (and me wanting to make some headway on my latest book), I really didn’t want to be out too late. He suggested a movie, so I checked online for one that a) did start too late and b) wasn’t too long. Found one that would get me home before midnight. Perfect.

Only Big calls me back all excited that he just saw a musician he likes is playing tonight over in Santa Cruz. Wanna do that instead? I’m looking at the clock. The concert starts at 9, even with travel time, I might still be home by 12:30. A little late… but it sounds like fun, so I’m in.

I think I may have mentioned before on this blog how freaky the town of Santa Cruz is. Remember the restaurant with the cooks who all wore hot pink wigs and sang? That was in Santa Cruz. And it’s pretty typical. It’s an eclectic little beach town where hippies mingle with Goths who mingle with punks in leather and spikes who mingle with yuppies in their weekend Birkenstocks. It’s a fun place. Perfect for a concert.

So, we drive over the hill and get there a few minutes early. The place we’re going is actually pretty small as concert venues go. More of nightclub than a stadium. Standing outside are a pair of ladies in leather pants and fur crop tops (Seriously? I didn’t even know they made those in fur!), two guys in waist long dreds, and a handful of teenagers smoking dope. This is going to be an experience, I can feel it already.

We get the tickets, then go across the street to this restaurant to order a little something to eat before the show. We sit at the bar and Mr. Big immediately orders beers and tequila shots.

Tequila shots. On a Wednesday. My first thought is that I need to write ten pages in the morning – I cannot do shots. But, as Mr. Big pointed out, it is a rock concert. What’s one shot? So, I down it. (Yeah, I'm really hard to convince.) My new plan, I drag myself to Starbucks and down lattes as I write in the morning. Caffeine cancels out tequila, right? No worries, I’ll still get my homework done.

So, we have our couple drinks, get nice and happy, then go back to the club for the concert. Where the guy at the door checks my ID and give me not one, but two huge wrists stamps. Even though I know I’m totally going to have to wear long sleeves to hide the club whore stamps from the soccer moms when I take the kid to school tomorrow, I’m getting a kick out of it.

Mr. Big orders us a couple more drinks (for anyone keeping track, that’s four a piece now) and I only get a chance to take one sip before some big guy wearing a Jason mask (Isn’t Halloween over?) bumps into me and spills it all over my sleeve. Yeah, it’s that kind of concert. The good news? Mr. Big immediately steps in and puts a protective arm around me. And it stays there the entire night. (Have I mentioned how much I like this guy?)

Once the music starts, the crowd goes totally wild - screaming, yelling, dancing, doing that devil horn thing with their fingers and pounding their fists into the air. It was so loud the floors and walls were vibrating with the noise. (Bonus foot massage!) But I knew it was a good concert when halfway through we saw security grab the guy in front of us and search him for illegal substances. When they found some, they said, “Just smoke it discreetly.” Ha! (Even though I was trying to take really shallow breaths, I swear when we moved to the upper balcony level I was getting a contact high from all the ‘discrete’ smokers.)

A few hours and a few drinks later we stumbled home, I slunk into bed way later than I intended (though, I’m pretty sure the sun wasn’t up yet… pretty sure…) and pulled the covers over my head. Until the kid woke me up two hours later making me take him to school. I tried to get him to let me sleep in, saying he could take a ‘vacation day’ from school, but no such luck. He insisted on being driven to school. On time even. (How I got such a responsible kid, I have no idea.) So, I dragged myself out of bed and drove him to school (I even fed him first. I think I get mom points for that.), then staggered home again and promptly fell back into bed.

Drinks: 6
Club Whore stamps: 2
Pages written: 0
Night of rocking until dawn: Priceless


~Trigger (and Tequila) Happy Halliday