Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'd like to welcome Emily Bryan to Killer Fiction again. Today, Emily is blogging about something I think every writer and woman deals with: self doubt. She also telling you bit about her new book. Oh, and she's also giving away a book to one lucky poster. So make sure you post! Take it away Emily.

Kill the editor!

No, no, I’m not talking about my editor at Leisure Books. Leah is sharp, insightful and a jewel to work with.

I’m talking about the cast iron witch who makes me doubt my every idea, who whispers that my premise is unworkable, who tells me to tear up what I wrote yesterday, redo the secondary plot and while I’m at it, why not turn the whole story into a paranormal/chicklit/suspense/category/erotic inspirational because they’re so darn hot right now?

See why I’m homicidal? That’s right. I want to kill the editor who lives in my head.

She’s never satisfied. She makes me rethink every sentence, every word choice, because there’s always a better way to tell the story. The infuriating thing is, she’s usually right, but my internal editor’s constant interference slows my writing to a crawl. Sometimes, a backward crawl.

It probably doesn’t help that I was catching up with a writing friend last week who told me she recently had a 70 page writing day! While I was scraping my chin from the floor, she went on to say that she finished her entire 400 page manuscript in 16 mortal days!

Any day I exceed 10 pages, it’s time to alert the media.

It’s a good thing she’s my friend or I’d snatch her bald-headed.

Do I suffer from writer’s block? No, I don’t think so. I know my characters. I know my plot points. I know what needs to happen next. The story is there, locked safely in my head in all its glory.

I think I suffer from “word constipation.” For some writers (like my highly prolific friend), words flow like water from a tap, gushing freely. I, on the other hand, get stuck priming the rusty pump, because my internal editor pulls me back to correct or re-write or slash and burn.

I know it’s possible to quiet the editor. I’ve had a few days when I was “in the zone.” I filled pages with ease. I couldn’t put a word wrong. But those times have been few and even then, 16 pages in a day is my personal best.

If I’m honest, I’ll admit I don’t really want to kill my internal editor. I need her when it’s time for polishing. But how do I get her to kick back and have a mojito while I’m trying to push the story forward?

And now I’d like to share a few early reviews about one of my stories that’s finished (yeah, yeah, thanks in large part to my irritating internal editor!). VEXING THE VISCOUNT will hit the bookstore shelves on February 24th!

“Emily Bryan has done it yet again. Vexing the Viscount is a grand romp that anyone that loves a fun romance will not want to miss! Daisy Drake is not your conventional young English Miss, and after all who would be when one was raised by Pirates! Now if that alone doesn’t wet your appetite, throw in the hunt for an ancient Roman treasure and a masquerade as a famous French Courtesan, and a darkly handsome Viscount and how could one possibly pass this one up?”
~NightOwl Romance Reviews Top Pick!

“Emily Bryan's Vexing the Viscount is not your ordinary historical romance. It's fresh, well written and chalked full of the unexpected, the spectacular, and the intriguing. If you're not drawn in by the heroine and her fiesty nature in the first few pages, you're obviously not a true historical romance fan.”

“One of the most wickedly fun reads I have had in quite some time. Terrific!”
~Detra Fitch—Huntress Reviews

Thanks so much for having me here at KillerFiction! I love this blog and all the wildly inventive authors who are regular contributors (especially Christie Craig, who recently tried to help me bust my stitches after my December surgery by sending me her insanely funny DIVORCED, DESPERATE & DATING!) I appreciate the chance to visit with your readers. And I’d also like to give away a copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT to someone who leaves a comment or question here today. And please check back tomorrow to see if YOU are the winner.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Useless Knowledge

As you read this, I am currently on my way to Vegas for a weekend in Sin City with Mr. Big. (insert eyebrow wiggle) I'll give you all the lovely details when we get back. In the meantime…

This week some writer friends of mine at Romance Divas started a very interesting discussion. Being writers, we tend to do a lot of research. And, often, it’s the little details that we’re after to make our fictional situations believable. I know I’ve spent hours getting lost in Google tangents trying to get that one little nugget of info that makes my scene complete. And often in our research, we stumble upon the oddest things. So, we started making a list of the useless knowledge that we’ve all acquired. Here are just a few:

Tarantulas are not deadly. All the 60's B horror movies lied to you.

Female great white sharks give live birth, usually to just one offspring because the baby sharks will eat each other in the womb.

It is impossible for a human being to lick their own elbow.

Termites can't digest wood. They have a bacteria in their digestive system that eats the wood for them.

Washing your hair in gunpowder will make it shine with red highlights.

A roach is the only living creature that can use salt as an actual food source

Your shadow always points to the center of a rainbow's arc.

A koala bear sleeps an average of 22 hours a day and it doesn't need water - it gets all the moisture it needs from the leaves it eats.

The male duck-billed platypus is the world's only poisonous mammal.

Nancy Regan was two months pregnant when she married Ronald.

The first known use of biological warfare was in the dark ages when forces laying siege to a castle or city would hurl diseased bodies over the fortifications via catapult in an effort to spread disease.

Your arm span is equivalent to your height.

Hugh Heffner worked as a circulation manager for Children's Activities magazine while raising money to start Playboy.

If you drop a carrot in the average kitchen sink, and in a toilet, the one from the sink will have more germs.

Horses can't throw up.

Louis Farrakhan used to be a calypso singer under the name "The Charmer."

Most cats do not have eyelashes.

The little plastic bit on the end of a shoelace is called an "aglet."

(And my favorite…)

Those tight little pants that football players wear are called shiggers.

So, any of you have any tidbits of useless information to share? Bring it on.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Our auction to help out Katy, the homeless teen, raised over $3600! Thank you so much to everyone who donated and bid!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's 'That' Time of the Year...

I suspect based on the image appearing above you can guess why I'm late posting today. (No, a hot male-type didn't keep me up all night...unless you count Mr. Coffee.) I'm making my way through that delightful sojourn known as tax filing preparation. And this year it ain't pretty.

Typically, I'm semi-organized--somewhere between hanging file folders with printed labels and shoe boxes crammed with receipts and designated 'Tax Stuff'. I do have a hanging file system. I just haven't filed anything since July.

With my tax appointment this Saturday afternoon, you can imagine how much fun I'm having--and how much fun I am to be around this week. I just got back from picking up pharmacy and prescription print outs--along with a used loveseat. Loveseat? Ah, let me explain.

You see, Sunday I had a brainstorm. (My children have other, less complimentary words for this particular lightbulb moment, but we won't go there.) Anyway, I woke up grumpy because we had four inches of snow to shovel. Most of you know I like snow about as much as, well, doing my taxes. I go out and shovel and while I'm shoveling, I'm thinking. Yes, I've been told I at my most lethal when I'm using my cognitive abilities.

I have a problem. (Don't even think it.) I'm just not putting in the 'home office' hours writing I need to be. You see, winters are always bad for me in terms of productivity. I tend to want to join the bear population and hibernate. And as I'm pondering a solution to my winter writing doldrums, I decide that perhaps a change of writing environment is just the thing. Since I can't afford Southern California or Florida, I have to be creative here.

My office, being on the northeast side of the house, is notoriously the coldest room in the house. I have to wear those gloves with the fingers cut out to type on the computer. (Okay, so perhaps this is a slight exaggeration.) My bedroom, on the other hand, has great big windows on the south that let in oodles of nice, warm sunshine--when the sun is shining, that is. It's also somewhat larger than my office. So I figure, since I spend so little time in my bedroom (another sigh) and most of that time I'm wearing flannel (more sighs) why not pull a little switcharoo.

When we come in from shoveing I announce my inspired plan to the two kids still unfortunate enough to be at home.

"I'm moving my office into my bedroom," I announce. They give each other the 'what is she up to now' look.

I explain my rationale. Now they look downright scared.

"I'm excited about this project," I say. "How about you, guys? Are you on board?"

"That depends," my cheeky son said.

"On what?" I asked.

"On whether we have the option of abandoning ship," he said.


So, with full knowledge aforethought that I should really be working on taxes, I started moving the office furniture into the living room. Then, with the help of my reluctant 'crew' I began to transfer my bedroom furniture into the former office. By late afternoon, I was ready to begin the process of moving the office furniture into my former bedroom.

By this time my mates had taken their leaves (it's the first time I've seen my son leave for work early) and I was left to my own devices.

You can see how this is gonna end, can't you?

I manage to do okay with the book cases, desk, and filing cabinets. But when I get to the large (and heavy) work table, the difficulties begin. The bloody thing simply will not fit through the door. I'd forgotten that my bedroom has a wall on both sides of the door whereas the office only had a wall on one side. In other words, no freakin' way was that table going through that door in one piece.

I get my tool box out. (I can tell you're cringing right about now.) I select the approprite sized wrench and decide to remove one set of legs. Now, this table is not a traditional table. It's entirely made of wood, with two square wooden sections the size of a small tree trunk attached to the table top and cross pieces on the bottom. With the assistance of WD-40 and sheer brute force I manage to loosen the nuts from the bolts (8 in all) and remove one of these leg sections. I then proceed to move the table into the new office.

Then it came time to reassemble the leg.

Now, I knew it had to fit back on there, because it came off there not five minutes earlier, but do you think I could get it back togeher?

It took me another hour, a balpeen hammer, and some harsh words to get that chunk of wood back on and the nuts tightened up. I arrange the furniture just so. By this time, it's nearing eleven P.M. so I call it a night.

The next morning I get up and mosey into my 'new' office. I open the curtains to let the sun shine in and bask in the warm rays. I turn on the computer, sit down, and instantly go blind. The sun is directly in my face. I not only can't see the computer screen, I can't see anything period.

Chalk up another blond moment for me.

This morning, in addition to running tax errands, I stop in at the local thrift shop and find the 'perfect' used loveseat for the corner of my office. It's presently wedged in the back of the Jimmy. My kids will be thrilled when they get home this evening and find out they get to help bring it in.

And now, dear friends, without further ado, I must return to my receipts, my print outs, my calculator, and Excel and leave it to another time to ponder the complex question of why I am so over-the-top OCD lately.

(And if anyone mentions menopause, I'll hunt you down.)

Since I will, no doubt, require regular breaks today, chime in with what's new with you. How are things in your world? Are you done with taxes? Putting them off until the last minute. (Sadly, not an option when you have kids filing for financial aid.) Have you seen a great movie lately you can recommend? I have a feeling come Saturday evening, I'll be in the mood for something light and comedic in tone.

With tons of buttered popcorn, Coke, and M&Ms!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We Are Family! I Got Ethelred the Unready in Me!

Grandpa Unready - Smiley Family Photo Album

I have this thing for history. No, let me get it right. I have this THING for history. While some people dream of retirement on a sandy beach somewhere doing crossword puzzles and drinking magharitas, I dream of retiring to a university town, on a beach, doing crossword puzzles, auditing classes on the 15th century sacking of Kiev and drinking martinis. Okay, so my dream isn't too different from other people's.


I've been doing some family tree research over the past...well, since I could read. My family always thought it was funny, "Oh look at Leslie. She likes pictures of old dead people." Sometimes they threw rocks at me and... well, okay, they didn't throw rocks at me. But sometimes they made fun of my hair and called me a "goddamned bleeding heart liberal."

Anyhow, I was looking up something after a long day over the keypad, when I found...well, it would be more honest to say I sorta stumbled into...some really cool stuff (that other people had spent the time, money and travel researching)that made my year.

Through my mother's (the Smiley's - isn't that damned precious?) family tree, I found that I am (and this means you too, Wendy) a direct descendent of some of history's more interesting historical figures. You see, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a little odd. Where most people might long to be descendents of Queen Elizabeth, I'd rather come from Rasputin or some guy who invented the spork. That kind of thing.

Imagine my extreme and total bliss to find that I may be (pending DNA testing, of course) the great, great, great, great, (you get the idea) granddaughter of Ehtelred the Unready! And Lady Godiva! And that dude they think is the originial Old King Cole! That's right! Eat it, Mean, Rotten Uncle Terry. (Oh, and I should say that is actually his name - Wendy will back me up here.)

So back to history and relatives who are not alive and living in Indiana, Ethlered the Unready! How cool a name is that? It sums up his reign and insults him simultaneously! And Old King Cole WAS, after all, a merry old soul - who didn't want to hang with that guy? He had Fiddlers Three! I want Fiddlers Three! Just to follow me around and, um, fiddle whenever I want!

And there really was a Lady Godiva! I had to explain to my 21-yr. old niece that no, she's not the Chocolate Lady but a real noblewoman who rode naked through the streets to protest her husband's unfair taxation of the peasants (she was less impressed than if Godiva had been the Chocolate Lady) I ate an entire box of bon bons. Then I threw up. Apparently, you shouldn't eat the WHOLE box in one sitting. (In my defense, they should put warnings on those things.)

Sigh. I'll have to do some more work on this. To be continued...

(Anyone interesting/strange/possibly demented in your family tree?)

From now on:
HRH, The Assassin

A Gift To Remember

A Gift to Remember

Okay…it happened again. My hubby did it. He did something so--bloggable. Anyway, I’ve decided to share.

It doesn’t matter that he got that panicked look on his face after he’d committed “said” crime, and pleaded, “You’re can’t blog about this. Tell me you’re not gonna blog about this.” And then he immediately went into the act of . . . “But I was just joking. Really, I was.” And after seeing my smile, he said, “Fine, if you have to blog about it, you gotta tell them that I said I was joking.” I’m not convinced I believe him, but as promised, I agreed to tell you he said it.

Nevertheless, joke or not, it was too late when he made his no-blog plea. The blog was already half written in my mind.

Let me give you the background, so you’ll understand the “crime.” Hubby’s work sent him to Chicago for two weeks. Any of you who live up north, or anyone who has read Kathy’s snow blogs, knows that it wasn’t the best time to visit the area.

Now for a southern person that beautiful white flakey stuff that falls from the sky is pretty. Pretty when we watch it on television, gorgeous on captured in film on Christmas cards, and a miracle to experience it in person. (At least for a while.)

And while he got to experience this winter miracle, I got phone calls. Daily--long, drawn-out, detailed phone calls. Supposedly it was in my marriage contract. I must have missed the clause that stated a wife is also required to listen to hours upon hours of weather complaints from her hubby.

It wasn’t just about the weather. It was about . . . how hubby’s Uncle Jimmy and his boys had disappeared like turtles between his legs, about how falling icicles could take him out, (he’d even seen a show about it) about how any uncovered piece of human flesh would fall off your body if it was left insufficiently uncovered for the slightest amount of time. (Which explained his wearing two pairs of Hanes.) About how the white crap, AKA: snow, (it had stopped being a miracle after the second day) fell on his rental car every night and had to be removed before he could drive. And then there was the complaint of how the car rental company had not included a brush or some sort of device to remove “said” white crap from the car.

Phone call, after phone call, after phone call, I listened to his weather-related reports. I also heard how he respected the will to live, the courage, and the fortitude of every northerner alive. They were, as he put it, “a bigger person than himself.” Of course, after a couple more days, he also questioned the IQ of anyone who chose to live under such calamitous, ominous, dire conditions. Amazing, how a ten-drop in temperature can alter one’s opinion. Let’s just say we won’t be moving up north anytime soon.

But let’s get back to hubby’s crime. He had arrived back in Houston, reveling in the fact that his uncle and boys had resurfaced unharmed. We were already in bed, when I asked the question he and my son always ask me when I return from a trip. “Did you bring me anything?”

Surely, the hours of listening to weather reports and updates on Uncle Jim and his boys
conditions would rate me something. Much to my delight, hubby got a gleam in his eyes.

“I do have you a little something.” He jumped out of bed and ran to his yet-to-be-unpacked suitcase. I was a little more than surprised. Have I mentioned my hubby is rather frugal? Okay he’s cheap. Still, I had hinted at my desire for another pair of silver earrings. And that was little. I leaned up on my elbow and watched him, hoping it was a small box he pulled out.

Much to my dismay, shock, and disbelief, the man pulled a toilet brush from his suitcase. I swear, I’m not joking. To his credit, it’s a pretty, bright yellow color.

“You . . . you brought me a toilet brush?” I imagined him stealing it from the hotel . . . gross! I stared horrified at the gift, thinking I so would have preferred earrings.

He seemed to read my mind, at least part of it. “It’s never been used…well, not for toilet cleaning.

My mouth dropped open. Are you as curious as I was to know exactly what the brush has been used for? I stared at him and waited for the explanation. And believe me, I was determined to get one. Curious minds have to know!

He finally spoke up. “I bought it to get the snow off my car.”

“You bought it for what?” I asked.

“Remember, they didn’t put a snow brush in the rental car,” he said as if that explained everything.

“But that’s a toilet brush,” I said, worried my husband had been hit in the head with a falling icicle. I mean, he was normally a semi-intelligent person. The semi part apparent due to his offering me a toilet brush as a gift.

“Yeah, but they were out of snow brushes and . . .(And that is where it all finally made sense to me) and this was the cheapest brush that had a handle on it.” See what I mean about him being cheap?

Now, I haven’t seen anything yet, but I swear I know that on some blog is a northerner writing about seeing a weak, cold-hating idiot southerner, using a bright yellow toilet brush to remove the snow from his car.

So, there you have another hubby story. Have you ever gotten a less than desirable gift from someone? Come on, make me feel better about my toilet brush. And as you all know, Valentine’s Day is coming up? Got any ideas of what I can give hubby?

~Crime Scene Christie

Monday, January 26, 2009

Family Can Be The Death Of You

Well, it finally arrived. It felt like forever, then all of sudden it was here and as usual, I've thought of 50 things I needed to do (should have done) and didn't think of. What am I talking about - my new book release, of course!

Tomorrow (officially) TROUBLE IN MUDBUG hits the shelves (although I've already caught it lurking at B&N, Borders, and Walmart). TROUBLE is the first in a mystery/romance series each of which will have its own hero/heroine with their own mystery, but there is also the overarching mystery of who killed one of the major secondary characters. That character just happens to be a ghost.

TROUBLE opens with Maryse Robicheaux being haunted by her dead mother-in-law, and Maryse just thought the woman was a terror when she was alive. The ghost has given dead a whole new life. Here's the back cover copy:

Maryse Robicheaux can't help heaving a sigh of relief at the news that her not-so-beloved mother-in-law has kicked the bucket. The woman was rude, manipulative and loved lording over everyone as the richest citizen of Mudbug, Louisiana. Unfortunately, death doesn't slow Helena down one bit.

Being haunted - or more like harried - by Helena's ghost isn't even the worst of Maryse's problems. Close to making a huge medical breakthrough, she's suddenly been given an officemate, and the only thing bigger than Luc LeJeune's ego is his sex appeal. Maryse would bet her life the hot half-Creole is hiding something. Especially because it seems someone's out to kill her. But getting Luc to spill his secrets while avoiding Helena's histronics and staying alive herself will be the ultimate bayou balancing act.

Are you wondering yet - you know, how I managed to write a romance with a married heroine and a hero that's not her husband.........well, you're going to have to read the book to see how I pulled it off. :)

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Author Gwen Hayes

Please join me in welcoming the fabulous and talented author, Gwen Hayes, to Killer Fiction. In addition to being just a super cool chick, Gwen has been my guru of all thing YA as I’ve branching out into this newer, younger genre. If there is anything about teenager lit out there to be known, Gwen knows it. Her funny paranormal romance book Oh, Goddess, about a thousand year old goddess stuck in a human body, comes out next week and I highly recommend it. So, take it away Gwen…

Thanks to the lovely writers at Killer Fiction for letting me crash the party today. I'm working up a case of nerves for my latest release from Samhain Publishing next week, so staying busy is great. I took on a little extra angst because all author and editor proceeds are being donated to the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, and now I'm concerned that I'll be sending them a check for $10 or something. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help fight this insideous disease, please visit . To learn more about my short story for the cause, Oh Goddess, please visit

So, how have I been filling my time?

Last weekend, I watched "When Harry Met Sally" for the umpteenth time total and the second time in a month. I have no idea what compelled me to watch it again after such a short interval--but if pressed I will call it research as I tend to write romantic comedy and Nora Ephron is pretty much a deity for the genre. On the down low--I find it comforting and easier on my hips than chocolate chip cookies.

I noticed something different about the film every time I watch it, but what occurred to me this time is how differently I see the heroine, Sally, played by Meg Ryan, now that I am closer to Sally's age in the movie. When the flick hit theaters in 1989, I was 19 years old. Of course, I knew everything then and I knew that Sally was totally justified in her anger at Harry for the way things happened after they fell into bed. (I usually try to discuss these things spoiler free, but the movie is 20-years-old now. It's like getting mad at people for saying "Luke, I am your father.")

Now, I'm a little more compelled to tell Sally to quit acting like one of "those" girls. The ones that say one thing to men when they mean another, but then get mad at men for not being able to figure it out. She said "It was a mistake" and he agreed with her. They both decided not to let it ruin their friendship and then she proceeded to shut him completely out of her life while telling him what a jerk he was.


So--what classic movies do you see differently now than when you first watched them? Do you now look at Andi in "Pretty in Pink" and wonder why she held out for the rich boy with no personality when she could have had Ducky? Do you see "The Outsiders" as a bunch of pretty boy punks now? Is "Red Dawn" no longer the scariest thing you can imagine happening?

Let's dish--keep me from thinking about Tuesday.

Gwen Hayes...saving the world one love story at at time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Resolution Check In

So, it’s almost the end of January… how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? (Come on, fess up.) For my part, I think I’ve done the opposite of everything I resolved to do so far this year. Yikes! In my defense, I’ve been in the middle of both book-release-chaos-ness and deadline-ville, so chocolate has been a necessity. Hopefully things will die down soon and I can get serious about my resolutions. Maybe February will be the new January for me.

Though, I am pretty darned happy with how my resolution from last year turned out. Anyone remember what it was? I had resolved to find Mr. Right. In hindsight, my mistake was in wording it “I will find Mr. Right even if I have to date every man on the west coast to do it.” I counted the other day. Last year I met 43 different men. :O Yeah, and that doesn’t even count the ones I blew off after talking on the phone to them. No wonder I didn’t get much writing done! Granted many of those were quick coffee dates to nowhere, but I had a few repeat daters as well. And, one winner. :) Okay, so I’m not picking out china patterns yet, but… I’m pretty smitten with Mr. Big. So, I call that mission accomplished.

And, after watching my year of dating ups and downs, guess who made a resolution of her own this year to find a new man? Mom! Yep, my lovely mother has re-entered the dating scene, and has agreed to let me blog about her adventures in the land of baby boomer dating. She’s already been on a couple so far, but the one she went on last week is by far my favorite.

Mom had been corresponding with this guy that she found on an online dating site for a couple weeks. He seemed nice, decent enough job, kids grown, looking for someone to spend his retirement with. Finally, they decided to meet for a glass of wine. Mom wears a miniskirt, tights, high heeled books, and a black leather jacket. She looks hot. The guy shows up in jeans and a goofy windbreaker. He does not. But, she sits down and starts talking to him anyway. He begins right away by telling her how his wife left him recently because she said “something was missing” with him. Not the best first date form to mention the ex, but Mom lets it slide.

Now, Mom’s an avid tennis player. The perfect guy would be someone who could play doubles with her. So, she asks Mr. Something’s Missing if he plays. He says he used to, but can’t anymore. “Oh, because of your arthritis?” she asks.

“No. I have no depth perception, because I only have one eye.”

Mom pauses. Blinks. Tries to look at ANYTHING else in the restaurant other than the guy’s eye. Which, she realizes now is glass. Or plastic. Or something other than human because it doesn’t really move. Not that she’s looking at it. Nope.

Even though at this point it’s pretty clear she’s not interested (windbreaker, ex-talk, fake body parts – three strikes, pal.), Mom politely finishes her glass of wine anyway and thanks him for a lovely evening.

The next morning, Mom gets an email from One Eyed Jack. He tells her it’s not going to work out between them. He feels that there’s just no connection. Yep, rejected by a one eyed man. (I told her not to take it too personally – he probably just couldn't see how hot she was!)

In response, Mom wrote this little poem:

Ode To Guy With One Eye

I met a guy,
He had one eye,
I said, “Oh my!”

“I didn’t even notice.”

He said you’ll see
If you get close enough.
But he’ll never get that close to me.

He said his depth perception was poor.
I turned him toward the door.
He wasn’t sure how far to go,
So I said, “Just keep walking.” So.

The next day he writes,
Says we had “no connection.”
I said, “Well that bites,
Dumped by the guy with no direction.”

“Yes, I reply, there’ll be no kissing,
Because there’s something missing.”

Your eyeball.

All I can say is boomer men everywhere better look out this year. ;)

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Don't forget to check out the charity auction to benefit a homeless teen. It's going on now through the 26th!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Okay. Help me out here ‘cause I must be missing something. Those of us who write—whether published or not—understand the odds against making enough to support ourselves solely from our writing aren’t that encouraging. Who among us hasn’t dreamed we’ll be the next Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, or Stephen King and be offered a hefty advance for that ‘break out book’.

And written a nice long list of just what we’ll do when we hit it big.

We dare to dream. And dream big. That’s what writers do.

But in addition to the dreaming, writers put in the work—the hard work—of learning the craft of writing. They pay their dues. Writing courses, workshops, conferences, contests, drafts one through ninety-nine, query letters, synopses, rejections, new projects, more rejections.

It’s brutal, baby.

And after all that work and sacrifice and dedication, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you might just win that contest, or receive a request for a full from an agent or editor, or nab an agent, or receive a publishing contract offer.

If you’re lucky…

And it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a LONG time. It took seven years for me to finally get published. Seven very long years.

So, it was with a certain feeling of—shall we say—consternation (I love that word!) that I received the recent news about Joe the Plumber being offered a book contract to pen his memoir, ‘Joe the Plumber, Fighting for the American Dream.’

American Dream? Uh, he’s a plumber. Or not. Depending on who you listen to.

Now ‘Joe’ might very well be a wonderful writer. I have no way of knowing one way or the other, but it’s a pretty safe bet he hasn’t paid his dues (no, not the plumbers’ union dues) as detailed above. With so many writers working day jobs, writing at night, and caring for a family (uh, yeah, that would be me, Joe) and after an endless erray of short nights, big sacrifices, and jarring disappointments, the idea that ‘Joe’ can bring something to the table relating to the struggle to achieve the ‘American Dream’ that many of us who write and write faithfully haven’t experienced firsthand let alone present it in a compelling way on the printed page leaves me a bit, uh, skeptical.

Still, he'll almost certainly be paid for his literary efforts.

All I can say is, WHAT A COUNTRY!

It gets even better. This evening I turned on the TV only to learn that Britney Spears has signed her own book contract. Her deal? FOURTEEN MILLION DOLLARS for THREE BOOKS.
That’s right. $14,000,000.00! Britney plans to pen her tomes from her journals.

Does that scare you as much as it scares me?

Laura Bush recently shopped her memoir around and Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, acquired the as-yet-untitled project. Although financial terms were not disclosed, it’s believed that the former First Lady will receive a sum similar to Hillary Clinton’s pay day for her book, or a paltry $8,000,000.00.

At least I feel confident that Laura Bush, a former teacher with a Master’s Degree in Library Science, is capable of writing a pretty decent book.

Maybe it’s just me, but with the publishing industry hitting hard financial times and facing tough business decisions, with publishing houses reorganizing and reshuffling, advances shrinking, lists shrinking, and less resources to go around, I tend to get a little irritated when I hear about these beaucoup buck publishing deals offered to non-writer celebs while thousands of dedicated, intensely committed, highly driven and focused writers will never get ‘the call’ and, regrettably, eventually give up. Or mid-list authors’ already low advances will drop even lower. Or co-op bucks will dry up even more.

It’s hard not to get down, isn’t it?

Still the constants that don’t change--outrageous pop culture book deals notwithstanding--are the deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment all writers feel when the words are flowing and result is satisfying and the sense of community we share with fellow writers--writers who understand the compulsion to create worlds and characters and stories and who are willing—even eager—to pay their dues in order to ‘live the dream’. That's a high the well-paid celeb 'authors' probably won't experience.

Still, I suppose depositing that advance check is probably some consolation.

Now, what do you all think of the huge advances still being paid to ‘celebrities’? Are they appropriate or outrageous? As a writer, how do you stay focused, upbeat, and keep putting words on the page when the industry is beset by economic woes that affect your ability to sell or earn a reasonable amount for your efforts? Are publishing houses being irresponsible with these gy-normous advances or just conducting business as usual? Weigh in!

Oh, and in the interest of full transparency here, if any publishing houses out there are thinking of offering me one of those hefty advances…I’d sign on the dotted line in a heartbeat.

As Tressa Jayne would say, “My momma didn’t raise no dummy.”

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So, Whaddaya Think?

Okay, technically speaking, I shouldn't even be writing this. I should be camped out in a locked room with five thousand donuts, a gallon of Diet Coke, freebasing Midol and finishing what will forever be known as "that damned book."

But I can't let my Killer Divas down AND I do have a decision I need help with. The Magnificent-Sometimes-Malevolent Todd Welvaert, award-winning journalist and editor and author of the squib on Chapter 13 of HITMAN, is also a professional photographer. With my originial photo being hopelessly outdated, he rose to the challenge and took my picture last weekend. His lovely wife and fabulous assistant, Lisa, along with my equally adorable friend Michele, were on hand to make sure my sweater wasn't bunched up in all the wrong places, there were no weird wrinkles in my neck, or that my dog wasn't licking his balls in the background.

The problem is, there are two I like. And I don't know which one I like best. So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me. And tell me why you like the one you do.

I'm serious, dammit. The decision you make could save thousands of lives. Okay, so they're all named Phil and exist in my head...but you never know.

The Assassin

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not Just Another Love Story

Just a reminder to go check out Gemma's auction. She has some really great stuff over there. Oh, but don't outbid me. I've got my eye on a few things. (Smile)


((I’m under deadline…so here’s a blog I wrote for Novel Thoughts in December. Enjoy!))

November 17th was my wedding anniversary. Somehow hubby and I have managed to laugh our way through 24 years of ups and downs. I’ll be the first to tell you that there’s been more ups than downs. Not that he’s perfect. But he’s darn near perfect for me, which basically means that his flaws don’t drive me crazy, or too crazy anyway.

There was the morning after our wedding. We were in a cozy cabin in Ventura, California. The fireplace still had a few burning embers, the champagne was still cool in the ice bucket. He leaned in, kissed my cheek, and asked, “Do you want me to go get you some coffee and croissants, Jackie?”

I gazed at him. “That’s awful sweet of you. Only problem is, my name isn’t Jackie. But I just happen to know that it is your ex-wife’s name.”

You gotta know I’ve given him hell for that ever since. Poor man will go to his grave paying for that one. In good humor, of course.

Ahh, but the truth is that I know what I’ve got in my hubby. Because I’ve had a bad one. I’ve got ex-husband stories that could outwit, out beat most of yours. How many of you can say your ex appeared on an FBI wanted list? I’m serious.

And while I don’t wish bad marriages on anyone, I have to tell you that it was those experiences that inspired the Divorced & Desperate series. You see, like all three of my heroines in these three books, I know how hard it is to move past that pain, to trust again.

As a matter of fact, that pain almost prevented me and hubby from hitching up.

I’d just arrived in California and my mother, playing cupid, had targeted a Mr. Steve Craig. I was certain she was bat-shit crazy. With my heart still wearing band aids, the last thing I wanted was a man. And unfortunately, I pretty much let Mr. Craig in on that little secret.

Mr. Craig was a friend of my youngest uncle. Both divorced, every weekend, they went bar hopping. I actually met Mr. Craig the first night in California. It was like one of those awkward meets in a romantic comedy. He came in and everyone sat down, leaving only the small spot next to me open on the sofa. When he sat down, the cushion made this farting sound, and I wanted to sink like an unwanted penny between the sofa cushions.

The next weekend, my uncle said he wanted to take me out. What he’d neglected to tell me was that his friend was coming. When my uncle pulled up in his MG, a two seater, and expected me to crawl into Mr. Craig’s lap, I laid down the law. “I don’t sit in men’s laps that I don’t know.” I knew that car was gonna bump around and I wasn’t the type to give lap dances to strangers. More importantly, I’d had my heart gnawed on by one man and didn’t want to go there again.

My uncle let Mr. Craig drive so I could sit in his lap.

At the bar, Womphoppers, (a local meat market) we were sitting by the entrance watching as lonely people seeking company walked inside. I looked at my uncle checking out the hot babes. “Do you see anything that interests you?”

“A few,” he said. “What about you?”

I saw Mr. Craig lean in, all ears. It was time to nip this right in the bud.

“Nope. There’s nothing, nothing here that interests me.”

Mr. Craig raised his glass to me in a silent toast, and he and his drink went strolling through the bar to find someone “interested.”

Hours later, Mr. Craig, with a sexily-dressed redhead hanging all over him, walks up to my uncle and me. He introduced me to his new friend, and then asked me to convince her to join us for pizza at this great Italian place right down the hill. Being the friendly sort, I did my “southern” best to talk that woman into joining us. She declined, saying she was with friends.

As my uncle, Mr. Craig and I walked outside to head to dinner, my uncle’s ex-girlfriend came up. They took off to go discuss some unresolved issues, leaving Mr. Craig and I alone. For over an hour we stood by the locked car. It was chilly and Mr. Craig gave me his jacket. Somewhere in that hour, Mr. Craig became Steve. We chatted about everything from my five year old daughter to his dogs. I learned he was trying to get past his own divorce.

“Sorry I couldn’t talk the red head into joining us,” I told him.

He shrugged. “No big deal, she wasn’t my type.”

“Yeah, probably the perfect body and hair,” I teased.

He just laughed. And he had a good laugh.

When my unhappy uncle came back and got in the driver’s seat, Steve asked me if I wanted him to insist my uncle let him drive. I said no, I thought, now that I knew him better, I could sit in his lap. Yup, that was my first mistake. J

But the story doesn’t end there. It ends when we got to the restaurant and the sexy redhead jumped up and met Steve.

Steve told her he hoped she enjoyed her pizza then he picked up his drink and asked me if he could help me carry my tray.

I’m not going to say I fell in love with him then, it took some time to get those band aids off my heart, but he impressed me. And to this day when I give him a hard time about calling me by his ex-wife’s name, he accuses me of preventing him from getting lucky with some hot redhead.

So that’s a little about my hubby and about how we met. Do you have any “cute meets” in your past? Any funny hubbies or not-so-funny ex-hubby stories. No names please.
Crime Scene Christie

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why Fantasy Is Fun

I get a lot of jokes forwarded to me by friends/family/etc. Most of them I scan through and delete, but every once and a while one hits a nerve. One I read Saturday morning hit my funny nerve. In fact, a keyboard cleaning event was in order since I happened to have a mouth full of coffee when I got to the punch line, which, I might add, I never saw coming. I think that's the two things I like best about humor - when it's real or when it goes somewhere you never imagined. And since this joke is all about someone making up a story to entertain themselves, I thought I'd share:

Yesterday I was at my local Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant?

So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's butt and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Wal-Mart won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

So, have you ever made up a crazy story to pacify a nosy (or silly) person?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Come Bid on Cool Sutff!!!!

Hey everyone, don’t forget to stop by the Gamble on Love charity auction! We’re auctioning off critiques by agents, published authors, and professional proofreaders, jewelry, hand made quilts, artwork, web design services, tarot card readings, rare and autographed books, and tons more! I’m auctioning off the chance to name a character in my next book, SCANDAL SHEET, after the person of the winner’s choice! And my fabulous editor, Leah Hultenschmidt is auctioning a 1/2 hour phone call to pitch or ask her anything about publishing that you want! How cool is that?!

The auction runs from January 19th (tomorrow!!!) to Jan 26th. To bid, just go to

ALL proceeds from the auction will go to benefit Katy, a sixteen year old avid reader and aspiring author and illustrator who has won local awards for her artwork. Just before Christmas, Katy and her mother became homeless. They were evicted from their apartment and have been living in hotel rooms (when they've been lucky) or their car (when they've not been so lucky) since then. Katy has been blogging about life on the streets, and you can read all about how this incredibly sweet mother and daughter ended up in this situation here: As
Katy states on her blog, "Homelessness has many faces. And sometimes it happens to have a computer." Both Katy and her mother seem to have very positive outlooks, but it's clear they're in some real trouble.

So, feel free to blog about the auction, tell your friends, spread the word, and come bid generously on a ton of really cool stuff!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Golden Globes Recap

Last Sunday was the 66th annual Golden Globe Awards. Did anyone else watch it? I'll admit, I'm a total awards show junkie. Any excuse to watch stars on the red carpet, and I'm totally there. In my world the Oscars are on par with the Superbowl. So, I guess that makes the Golden Globes sort of like my play-off games? And I was not disappointed last weekend. Couture, champagne, and stars as far as the eye could see! So, here’s my Golden Globe recap:

Embarrassing moment I wanted to watch over and over again

Brad and Angelina completely ignoring Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet.

Now, I like Ryan as much as the next gal. In fact, I used to listen to him everyday on L.A. radio back when he was a nobody DJ doing “Ryan and Lisa for the drive home”. But, seeing the pair of A+ listers gracefully tune out Ryan as he fairly begs for their attention… “Brad! Brad, Angelina! Over here! It’s Ryan… Ryan Seacrest…?”… clearly illustrated the divide between real celebs and a guy with a microphone.

Embarrassing moment that made me cringe

Rumor Willis being caught “hunching” by Demi Moore.

Every year the Golden Globes picks a second generation Hollywood-ite to be their Miss Golden Globes. This year it was Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’s daughter, Rumor Willis. She was lovely. A definite beauty and possible star in the making herself. Until her Mom came out on stage to present and said, she needed to be a Mom for a moment. “Ru, I’m very proud of you and I love you. And don’t hunch. Shoulders back!” Which might have been funny if Rumor hadn’t, indeed, been doing a horrible slouch thing. And had her mother not had perfect posture. And a much more gorgeous gown. And a hotter bod. And a husband closer to Rumor’s age than her own. Being chastised by Mom on a program seen in more than 150 countries around the world, super fun for a 20 year old. Add this to the fact that her parents named her after gossip, and anyone else see a Mommy Dearest book coming from Rumor in the future?

Best speech
Tina Fey
That woman can do no wrong this year. In a speech that was funny, and more importantly SHORT, Tina poked fun at herself, while also graciously acknowledging how grateful she’s been for the amazing opportunities she’s had this year. Way to go, Tina!

Worst Speech

All the rest of them

Note to Hollywood: if your thank you speech is longer than the script you’ve just won for, stop. Just. Stop. Seriously, no one cares about your middle school drama teacher or your make-up artists’ make-up artists. And no one really believes that you think your fellow nominees deserved that just as much as you do. You know you’re going to leave someone out, just thank the Hollywood foreign press, the generic cast and crew, and get the heck out of dodge.

Celebs who looked like stars
Anne Hathaway
If her poise over the past year’s boyfriend debacle didn’t convince me she was an Audrey Hepburn in the making, her grace on the red carpet did. Kudos to her stylists!

Eva Longoria
Okay, so it’s pretty clear that she can’t bend at the waist to sit, let alone breathe, but there’s no doubt Eva looks hawt in this red dress! It’s a big “take that!” to everyone who called her fat at the beginning of the Desperate housewives season.

Celebs who looked like homeless people
Drew Barrymore
This is horribly sad because she’s actually one of my favs, and the dress was such a nice, light, flowy thing. But the hair… honey, they’re called combs, learn to use them. The frizzy, sprayed stiff, poof ball hairdo did not do her justice at all.

Robert Downey Jr.
Again, someone whose work I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this past year. But who clearly went way overboard with the gel and could use a color touch up and a shave. And a mirror. Are we sure he’s still sober?

Mickey Rourke
Showers are our friends. ‘Nuff said.

And to end on a high note…

Best overall Golden Globe moment

Heath Ledger winning Best Supporting actor for his role of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Bittersweet, deserving, and moving, I’m pretty sure that wherever Heath is now, he heard that standing ovation. A wonderful tribute to a very talented actor taken way too soon.

So, what were your favorite moments? Any big Oscar predictions? My money's on another Kate Winslet sweep.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Come check out my auction starting Monday on the Romantic Inks website to help get a homeless teen back on her feet!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

If you're looking for some upbeat, 'Little Mary Sunshine' thoughts here today, I suggest you grab that mouse and click out of this page ASAP. There will be no warm fuzzy sentiments shared by Bullet Hole Bacus at Killer Fiction this day. In fact, I'm still in the process of thawing my fingers out from sub zero temperatures that have blanketed the Midwest courtesy of an Arctic Clipper that barreled down on us a day and a half ago. This morning's temperature was -17 degrees. Add in the windchill factor and it feels like MINUS THIRTY-SEVEN! Some areas in our state reached negative fifty degrees windchill.

You know it's bad when Alaska actually looks balmy to you.

After last winter's record snowfall, I didn't think it was possible we could see a repeat performance of the winter from hell, but so far we're 8 inches ahead in snowfall and we haven't seen temperatures this cold in well over a decade.

Global warming? HA!

If you've followed my blog at all, you know I'm not a fan of snow and cold weather. But recently it's gotten so bad I've taken to searching for potential job opportunities in locales that don't see snow or ice.

Unfortunately, it's not a good time to relocate.

I've got a terrific job I love with writer-friendly hours.

I'm finishing my degree.

And the economy is tanking big-time.

So much for timing...and my great escape to warmer climes.

I figure if I can't actually make a move at present, at least I can dream and occupy my free time with thoughts of sultry sunshine, warm ocean currents, and the only white you see anywhere is due to the sand between your toes.

The other day I was so sun-starved I opened the living room curtains on the south when the sun was making an appearance and I sprawled out on the rug and closed my eyes and pretended I was on a beach towel in the Bahamas. I've got it bad.

Last night, attired in a set of thermal underwear, a fleece-lined sweatshirt and slippers, and heavy sweatpants,and wrapped in a warm blanket, and sipping hot tea, I 'planned' my 'fantasy spring break getaway' online.

Today I'm shivering and procrastinating about going out and filling my Jimmy up for the commute to work tomorrow.

How do you battle winter fatigue when spring is still two long, cold months away? Any tips for improving your mental outlook and fighting the urge to hibernate each evening besides taping a picture of Al Gore to a punching bag and pummeling it? How do those of you who live in colder climates deal with long, harsh winters?

Anybody planning a spring vacation?

Want company?

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coney, Coney! T-t-t-ta Tease Me!


Just spent the last SEVERAL hours dealing with far more drama than I thought one ten-year old girl could drum up! But now, four parents, four girls, one secret pre-teen blog (that is actually funnier than mine) and three Excedrin with a Beck's beer chaser later, I am too freaked out to post anything original.
So, I thought it was about time I gave you a sneak peak into the next book. That's the cover, up there. So enjoy and let me know what you think. I'm going to bed. At 8pm.

Oh, and Hellion, there's a little something for you. Not quite all you wanted, but I'm working on that:

Chapter 1

“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”

-Mark Twain

Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A pro football player walks into a bar. He falls to the floor clutching his head in pain and says, “I didn’t see that coming.” True story. Although maybe, just maybe it would be more accurate to say the iron rod walked into the football player, but I’m telling it my way.

I managed to kick him in the ribs as he tried to get up before one of his enormous hands (which, I assume, can only have made him good at his sport) grabbed my ankle and pulled me down to join him on the floor. It was at this point he seemed to gain the upper hand. The lumbering side-o-beef with legs climbed on top of me, bouncing my head off the cement twice. This did nothing for my self-esteem in the fight and probably wasn’t good for the “rugged attractiveness” women told me I had. Did you know you actually do see stars when your head is pummeled against something so unyielding as concrete? I know, it seems too cartoonish, but then, there it is.

I distracted my target by biting his forearm. I’m not fond of biting, but in this business, you have to think quickly. As he screamed, I punched him in the throat, causing him to crumple over like a stack of dimes. With Vic face down, I climbed on top and began my chokehold. Frankly, I was tired of using a chokehold. So over done anymore and not terribly elegant.

Vic struggled to free himself from my grip but unfortunately for him, he was losing the flow of both oxygen and blood to his brain and this weakened him. To my surprise, he got lucky and managed to flail out, catching me (quite to his surprise) in the gut with his elbow. I dropped him and he scrambled backwards until he hit the wall.

I walked toward him slowly (yes, for dramatic effect of course). The bastard wasn’t going anywhere. Stupid athlete. They always think they can handle themselves in a fight. The fact is that he is much larger than me. But it is also true that because of this fact, he’s never really had to fight a day in his whole life. Ironically, for his first actual battle, he was truly fighting for his life. A brilliant irony I thought would likely be wasted on him.

My fist hit him square in the face and he slid down the wall. Through the gurgling blood coursing from his nose into his mouth just seconds before I sent the broken shards of his nose piercing into his brain, he asked, “Who are you?”
Bombay. Coney Island Bombay. Actually, you can call me Cy. I only go by Coney when I’m working as a carney. Most of the time I prefer eliminating the middle three letters from my name. It’s kind of like what I really do, which is eliminating bad people.

That might sound a bit simplistic. Sorry about that. But there really is no point in analyzing it any further. I know this because I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and it has driven me to distraction most of my life. It is possible to over think things now and then. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This, however, isn’t one of those times. This time, the cigar is more than it seems. The rather ugly, large cigar of which I speak (who now lies lifeless on his basement floor) is a popular sports figure who runs an illegal white slave trade on the side. I’ve never been much of a sports fan. It seems wrong to me that professional athletes make millions of dollars when scientists trying to cure cancer and teachers educating children live from check to check. This gig was my own small contribution to evening things out. You know. The old yin-yang thing.

My Vic was a professional football player who invested in an Eastern European slaver. The slaver sent young women all over the world to work as prostitutes. I say “sent,” because I took care of that bastard a couple of days ago. The athlete was quick to join him. It wasn’t pretty. And honestly, I don’t feel too badly about that.

Most of the Bombays tend to maintain a low profile when it comes to work. Making murder look like an accident seems to make them feel better. I don’t really go that route. My preferred modus operandi is to actually make it appear to be foul play. And if you knew how bad these people were, you’d probably agree with me.
Two days later, the police and media seemed to think the Russian mafia was at work here and when the evidence I left behind revealed his crimes, Vic’s jersey and status were yanked from the Football Hall of Fame. My mother and the rest of the Bombay Council were pleased. Dad, an Aussie, had to call to remind me that technically, my Vic didn’t play real football. But that’s Pop, always splitting hairs.

My family history is interesting, in a bloodthirsty sort of way. The Bombays have cornered the market on international assassination for hire since ancient Greece. Every infant born into Bombay blood becomes a killer. We begin training at age five and progress from there. There is no way out. Once you are born a Bombay, your fate is sealed. No one rebels unless they have a suicide wish. Occasionally, one does. What can I say? Every family has at least one idiot. Doesn’t yours?

The job took place in Chicago and a few days later I was in Omaha. The alarm went off at six a.m. and I sat up on the edge of my bed, running my hands through my hair. You might think I’m a morning person. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m actually more of a discipline guy. I get up to make myself functional. The exercise that follows is simply for masochistic purposes. I’ve been told I’m in excellent shape. It’s the discipline thing.

Wheek! Wheek! Came the brain-splitting cry of my guinea pig, Sartre. The minute I wake up, she reminds me that it’s time for breakfast. She’s affectionate and sweet, but I’ve always suspected that she considers me to be little more than a servant.
“Here you are,” I say as I place a small dish of strawberries, collard greens and baby carrots in front of her. Sartre grunts and begins her feast. I walk to the door of my trailer to get the paper.

I always park in Wal-Mart parking lots. They seem to have an RV cult following. Every one I’ve stayed at leaves a newspaper at my door every morning and has fresh coffee ready before the shoppers arrive. I like that. It’s a nice touch.

Opening the door revealed a bright, late August day in the Wal-Mart trailer and RV park. I scooped up the paper and nodded to the older woman standing in the parking lot, across from me. It was then I realized that I hadn’t put any clothes on. Huh. I shut the door behind me (but not before winking at the lady) and after tossing the paper on a chair, threw on some running clothes. Ten minutes later, I opened the door to find her and several other women standing in the same place. I don’t know what they hoped to see, but clearly my having clothes on had been a bit of a buzz kill. Just for fun I grinned and shouted “G’day ladies” with an Australian accent (something I inherited from Dad). That seemed to do the trick. I believe one of them actually fainted.

A good jog always helped clear my head. With my Bombay-appointed duty over for the year and the carnival season coming to an end, it was time to make my plans for fall. I was pretty sure it was time for a sabbatical. I needed a break from my day job.

Back at the trailer, there were only a few women standing by my door. I thought I heard one of them shout, “Are you going to take a shower?”

I couldn’t resist, so in my faux, clipped, Aussie accent said , “Yes. Can you do my back?”

Four hands shot up into the air. I smiled, “Sorry Luv. It’s just a trailer and you won’t all fit. Maybe tomorrow.”

Sartre squeaked indignantly and I scooped her up as I flipped on the television to listen while I threw breakfast together. Sartre wiggled in the crook of my left arm before sprawling out luxuriously. I found an orange and made some toast while the little pig ran up and down the table. There wasn’t much on in the news, as usual. I had a gig coming up in rural Nebraska. Just a county fair. Then the season would be over for me. Sartre nibbled on an orange peel, never taking her eyes off me. Huh. It’s sad when your own pet doesn’t entirely trust you. But that’s the nature of an assassin pet owner I guess. I gave her some of the fruit and she devoured it. An ad for Disney World came on and somehow managed to get my attention.

I clicked off the tv and pulled open my laptop. After a morning of research, I decided I knew what to do for my sabbatical. Disney World would be a welcome break. I had a few connections there – a couple of my carney brethren that had gone legit. I flipped open my cell phone and dialed. Within moments I had a job lined up from Fall to Spring. After that, who knows what I’d do? I was unattached. A loner, to be cliché - but it suited me.

Besides, I already have a career. I have travel, adventure, five middle-aged women in the parking lot who want to loofah my back and the love of a good, elitist rodent. What else could I possibly need?

The Assassin

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Doctor Called . . .

It was four days before Christmas and several weeks after my comprehensive doctor’s check up. You know, the check up where they take enough blood from you that could feed a whole family of vampires and a couple of vampire pets, and an occasional drop-in vampire visitor—who’s really hungry? Yup, when you’re in your forties, they like to put you through the ringer—I swear there’s a blood test for everything from hormones to hemorrhoids.

Hubby and I were in the grocery store doing a pre-holiday shopping trip when the call came in. He was making fun of me because I couldn’t reach the plastic bag dispenser and singing that Short People song.

“What do you do when I’m not here?” he teased reaching for his phone.

“I find someone nice enough to reach it, generally it’s someone who doesn’t poke fun at me.”

You know, the short jokes get old around here. He finally opens his phone, but the call had already gone to voice mail. He pushes some buttons to hear the message. I’m busy finding the perfect crown of broccoli, but when I glance up, I see hubby’s expression lose its teasing glint.

“What’s your new doctor’s name?” he asked.

“Why?” I toss some broccoli into my buggy.

“A Dr. Burns is trying to reach you.” Hubby hands me his cell phone and I listen to the message.

“This is Dr. Burns’ office, we’re trying to reach Christie Craig. Can you please have her return our call as soon as possible?” My mind starts naming off the different type of tests I’d had. The “what if” scenarios start forming. You know, the what if scenarios you don’t like thinking about, especially when you’re standing in the middle of the produce aisle in the grocery store and Jingle Bells is playing over the loud speaker.

Nevertheless, you know what I did, don’t you? I immediately hit redial. “Hi, this is Christie Craig, I’m Dr. Burns’ patient and I was asked to call.”

I’m asked to hold, assuming they’re pulling my chart. It seemed like forever, I watched a little ol’ lady go through the green beans, one at a time. Time. Precious time, I think. Another couple of younger ladies were comparing cucumbers and giggling. Cucumbers. Precious cucumbers. (Hey, when nervous, I get all sentimental about my salad favorite fixings.)

Hubby is staring at me, waiting, so concerned that he’s totally missing the humor at the cucumber section. And you know how men love cucumber humor.

Suddenly, I feel this isn’t the place to have this conversation with my doctor. And by “not the place” I’m not talking the grocery store, I’m talking about the particular aisle. So I motion to my hubby and push our cart to the candy aisle. Hey, if I’m gonna get bad news, I want chocolate close by.

I keep the phone tight to my ear, and stare at the Truffles and those specialty M&Ms. My heart is pumping. I envision the nurse reading over my charts and trying to figure out how to give me the bad news. Hey, writers are known for our overactive imaginations—and so are writer’s husbands if the look on his face is accurate. But forget him, heck, I’m already prepared to ask how much time I have left.

I roll my eyes and tell myself I’m being silly. I mean, how bad could the news be? Probably no worse than I finally came down with Diabetes. The gene runs rampant in our family. (Okay, maybe the candy aisle is the wrong place to be.)

I stare back at my husband who is staring at me. Then the nurse comes on the line. I listen carefully and shut the phone. Then I reach for a big bag of peanut M&Ms.

“What is it?” hubby asked. (Remember, he was giving me a hard time about being short.)

“The doctor needs me to come by her office.”

“Now?” he asked.

“No, but definitely before Christmas,” I tell him, sounding somber.

“Did she tell you what it was about?”

I nod, but don’t offer particulars. I only made him suffer for a couple of seconds, by then I couldn’t stop myself. I grinned, seriously I was giddy. I mean, who knew a call from my doctor could make my day. I was so envisioning bad news and instead . . .

“What’s it about?” my hubby demanded.

Smiling, I tell him. “The doctor bought a couple of my books to give away as Christmas gifts and wants me to autograph them.”

Hubby just stared and then he took away my peanut M&Ms. I never got them back, either.

Okay…that’s my call from my doctor. So . . . how is your New Year panning out? Are you holding tight to your New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t been really bad, but I could be better. So… I’m about to do my time on the torture machine. Anyone else having issues staying on track with the resolutions? Let me hear from you so I don’t think I’m talking to myself.

P.S. Thanks, Dr. Burns, for giving me a blog and for a way to get even with my hubby for his short jokes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

UFO's - Real or Science Fiction

Today, I figured I'd talk about one of the most controversial paranormal subjects - UFO's. There are so many theories on UFO's that they couldn't all be covered in 10,000 blog posts but I'm going to cover some of my basic thoughts on the subject.

1. There IS something out there.
2. It's an awfully big waste of space if we're the only ones in it.
3. Although I believe aliens exist, I don't think they've been here.

Okay, so point one. Too many people have seen things for me to think there's not something going on - no smoke without a fire. And what about the photos and videos? This is probably the most documented and ignored paranormal phenomenon on earth. Makes me wonder why. Now, is everything unidentified an alien ship - no. Look at all the photos over the past decade that lo and behold look just like the Aurora that the military released somewhat recently. Obviously a lot of people got a glimpse of new technology and yes, it IS unidentified but not alien.

Then there's the abductees. Do I think people have been taken - yeah, probably. Again - no smoke without a fire. But then I also have some conspiracy theory tendencies and someone tell me what better way to do illegal testing on your own people but to kidnap them and convince them is was aliens? Everyone will think they're crazy and then your government just got away with everything, hiding under the biggest lie ever told.

Point two. Are we really so vain that we think this vast universe was created simply as our playground? Personally, I don't think it was at all. If you believe in a God that created everything, then why would he stop with earth as the only place with intelligent life? If you think it was all a combination of particles and a following explosion, then why couldn't it have happened somewhere else on another galaxy?

Point three. This one threw you didn't it? Here I am yelling no smoke without a fire and don't be vain and then I go say that I believe they're THERE but not HERE. I used to think they were coming here, but this is why I changed my mind. Logic always wins with me and very few people on this earth could be considered as logical as Stephen Hawking. For those that don't know the man, Hawking is an Oxford educated theoretical physicist who is considered by many to be the most brilliant person of the 21st century. Hawking is most famous for his work on black holes although almost all his work involves cosmology as he believes our future lies in space.

I was watching an interview one day and someone asked him about aliens. This is essentially what he had to say - yes, he thought there could definitely be other intelligent life out there but that they had no come to earth. And that if they did, it wouldn't be in peace. Then he pointed out that historically, any time a more advanced civilization came upon a more primitive civilization, they either enslaved them or slaughtered them. Obviously if another culture can travel through galaxies and time to find the earth, they would be more advanced than we are. Not good for the home team, according to Hawking.

Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

So, if I think there's something out there, and I do think there's aliens, but I don't think they've been here - what the heck do I think all those people are seeing that don't fall under the heading of drunk and disorderly or new military equipment? Well, I don't pretend to understand any more than just the barest minimum of the time -space continuum, but essentially there is a theory than space and time can overlap. I think that is what happens and what those people see is us, but a future us with future technology and perhaps even evolution. Maybe the earth undergoes a catastrophic event - meteor, earthquake, or even nuclear war, and mankind as we know it has to evolve to survive.

What about you? What's your theory?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hi Guys,

I’ve spent the morning with a cup of coffee in hand watching videos. Barbara Vey posted my book video for Divorced, Desperate and Dating on her Sunday Matinee.

(Thanks Barbara!) After I watched all those wonderful videos, I followed the link that Gemma posted to Katy’s blog and the news video about her and her mom being homeless. Scroll down to read Gemma’s Blog if you haven’t checked it out.

I think what Gemma is doing is beyond fabulous. I hope everyone will pop over to the auction and bid on the prizes. I’ll be donating a decorative tin filled with candles, chocolate, and a copy of my last three novels. Plus, as separate items, I’ll be donating two of my nonfiction books. The Everything Guide to Writing Romance Novel by Faye Hughes and myself. And a new Chicken Soup book, Chicken Soup for Dad’s and Daughters, which has two of my previously published Chicken Soup stories.

So, everyone make sure you check out this auction. It’s for a very worthy cause.


Friday, January 09, 2009

A Reader in Need

If there is one thing that any writer loves, it’s her readers. Without readers, we’d be nothing.

Last summer I did a series of library talks, and during one of these I had the pleasure of meeting a super sweet, sixteen-year-old reader named Katy. She said she and her mother, Elizabeth, had read all my books and were huge fans. I liked her immediately. :) Katy is an aspiring author and illustrator, and even brought me the cutest laminated drawing of Maddie, the main character in my High Heels books! Isn’t she adorable?

Since then, I’ve seen a few more of Katy’s drawings, and she is incredibly talented! I’m seriously jealous, nothing I’ve ever drawn is half as cool as her stuff. Here’s a poster she did for a contest at the local library (She won!):

And here’s a drawing she did last week when she and her mom were forced to sleep in their car:

Yep, you read that right – Katy and her mom are homeless. They were evicted from their apartment just before Christmas and have been living in hotel rooms (when they’ve been lucky) or their car (when they’ve not been so lucky) since then. Katy has been blogging about life on the streets, and you can read all about how this incredibly sweet mother and daughter ended up in this situation here:
As Katy states on her blog, "Homelessness has many faces. And sometimes it happens to have a computer." Both Katy and her mother seem to have very positive outlooks, but it’s clear they’re in some real trouble.

Which is where we come in. I’m putting together an auction to help get Katy and her mom back on their feet. So far we’ve gotten donations of agent critiques, editor pitches, website design, tarot readings, artwork, jewelry, handmade quilts, and tons and tons of autographed books. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far!! And if any of you would like to donate something, it would be amazingly appreciated. We’ve set up a special email address to take donations at:

The auction will run January 19-26th and will be hosted on the Romantic Inks website at, so please come by and bid once we’re up and running!

If you’d like to help spread the word about the auction, feel free to paste the banner or announcement below onto your website, myspace, or blog.

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A huge thanks to everyone for your help, and I will keep you updated on how Katy and her mom are doing!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, January 08, 2009

'Tis the Season for Decluttering!

It's 'that' time of year again. With my annual tax appointment postcard reminder from my tax guy, also comes the reality that I have once again lost the battle against clutter for yet another year.

And it's worse than usual this year.

With three new college attendees and yours truly also enrolled in classes, the amount of paper alone has tripled.

It ain't pretty.

So, generally this time of year as I wade through stacks and boxes of paperwork for Uncle Sam, I also try to tackle the stacks of paper that seem to be taking over. This year has been particularly challenging with oodles of manuscript hard copy drafts to be shredded and disposed of. And since I've never met a shredder built that could take the volume I shred, I generally hand shred the stuff--and recruit the triplets to lend a hand.

Or six.

You can imagine how thrilled they are when I bring out a new stack of manuscript pages.

THE KIDS: Uh, what is this?

ME: It's a hard copy of ANCHORS AWEIGH.

KIDS: We shredded that the other day.

ME: That was draft two. This is draft three.

KIDS: How many drafts are there?

ME: Do you want the number I tell my editor and agent or the real number?

KIDS: What's the difference?

ME: An extra digit.

That's when the kids start remembering previous appointments.

Invariably this decluttering extends to other areas of the home. This morning I opened my closet and tried to find a pair of shoes. I needed a fork lift to sift through the contents. I have shoes in my closet that despite their being totally cool, I've never been able to wear without intense pain and recurring toe cramps since I broke my foot two years back-not that such discomfort necessarily prevents women from making a fashion statement, wincing or not.

So, I tackled my bedroom closet this morning armed with a box for Goodwill and a plastic bin for the 'I'll give it one more year' footwear.

I never realized until today that I have a pair of running/walking shoes for each day of the week. And, yes, they're all like new.


Next up were my book bins. Okay. So, I never actually got rid of any books. Maybe next year I'll get down to one bookcase in my bedroom...

I guess it's time for some real change in the decluttering arena.

Any great advice out there for organizing and decluttering? Any tips that you use throughout the year to keep the stacks of paper from reaching armpit level?
Any really rocking storage products you use to assist you in making most of limited space? And most of all, any tried and true methods for keeping from being buried in paper by year's end? I'd be eternally grateful.

And now--back to the shredding...

~Bullet Hole Bacus who currently holds the record for most paper cuts~

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy Birthday Sami!

For those of you who don't know, this is my lovely sister Jenny. The character of the foul-mouthed but loveable electrician, Sami, in STAND BY YOUR HITMAN is based entirely on her. And she turned 40 today. Sweet.

This is the photo that appears on my phone when she calls or texts me. I took it at the family dinner table. At Easter. She was actually in one of her mellower moods.

Now, when I say that Sami is modeled on Jenny, what I'm really saying is that Sami IS Jenny. Mr. Assassin read HITMAN and the first thing he said (well, after he said my dialogue is improving) was that he was astounded by the way I put Jenny's words on paper exactly as she says them. Of course he understood that I had to hold back and censor myself somewhat. I don't think I can legally write everything she says.

Jenny loved the book. She texted me every five minutes while she read it (which made for a very, disruptive week last fall). She came to my signing and sat with me and took it to the IBEW local picnic this summer and told everyone about how she was in my book.

I've been waiting for a long time for Jenny to turn 40. Let's just say she really ENJOYED my 40th birthday. So this morning, like the good sister I am, I sent her a text. This is an exact transcript of what followed. I am not making this up.

Me: Happy Birthday Bitch! (I thought I should get into the spirit of things.)

Jen: Thanks Dumbass! (It should be noted that this is an improvement over my previous nickname of "Buttdart." It should also be noted that apparently I've gone up a notch in her eyes. After all, she calls Mom "Dumbass.")

Me: And how are you celebrating today?

Jen: Working, then taking my friend's dog 2 get cremated.

Me: Wow. How can I get in on that action?

Jen: Smartass. At least I have presents to open when I get home.

Me: I don't know. I'm not sure that can compete with cremating a dog.

Jen: Fuck off. See you tomorrow night!


Probably my favorite Jenny story (and there are many, many charming, Jane Austenesque stories), happened a couple of years ago. We were on the way to a family 4th of July thing. We were in the same car because I was the designated driver (it was eleven in the morning). Anyway, there had been a photo of me in the paper recently and Jenny told me that the guys at work were all talking about her lesbian nymphomaniac sister. This gave me pause. Nymphomaniac, I asked?

"Oh sure," she said. "Whenever the guys at work tell me how much fun I am, I tell them, 'You think I'm fun - you should meet my sister! She's a nymphomaniac!'"

"Um, you told them I was a nymphomaniac? WHY?"

"Dude! Because it's funny!" She laughed. "It's a funny thing to say!"

I then thought of an incident that happened a few months earlier, where I ran into two of her male, electrician co-workers and they were really, really, really, very friendly (which was weird because most of her friends tease me because I can read and can't open a beer bottle using my eye socket). I asked her about this and she laughed and said, "Oh yeah! They probably wanted to get into your pants."

When I asked her how many electricians in the Quad Cities she had told this to, she punched me in the arm and said, "All of them, Dumbfuck."

I turned to Mr. Assassin for support. He winked and said, "Oh yeah! Men think I'm married to a nympho/lesbian!" I left him alone to recalculate his now astronomical status in the caveman community and asked Jenny why they thought I was a lesbian.

"Cuz you got short hair!" She answered. It should be said she had long hair at this time. "Dumbshit! Everyone knows lesbians have short hair."

When we arrived at the party, I told Mom what Jenny had said about me. Mom frowned and looked at my sister...her youngest...her darling baby, and asked, "What did you tell them about me?"

Jenny laughed, "Nothing!"

Mom crossed her arms over her chest (wearing a cute little Mary Englebright jumper and ballet flats), "Why not?"

I had lunch with my cousin, Wendy two days later and told her the story. Wendy said, "There are a lot worse things than having several hundred area electricians think you are a nympho. And besides, I'm impressed. Nymphomaniac is a really big word for Jenny."

I still get winks and knowing grins when she introduces me to any guy she works with.

Oh well. Happy Birthday Jen! Love you!

The Assassin

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Twas the Day After Christmas and the Cops Came to the Craig House

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
It was about three in the morning when we were awoken with a bam-and-bang clatter.
We should have gotten up to go see what was the matter.
Instead, hubby and me both went to pee and stumbled back to bed.
Too early for there to be any sugar canes dancing in our heads.
But when daylight hit
I hear my son yell, “SHIT!”
And the bam and bang was suddenly explained.

(Okay, I’m gonna stop this rhyming stuff, because I’m bad at it.)

Here’s the unrhymed version:

The day after Christmas, at three in the morning my son’s truck, parked in front of our house, was hit. And hit hard. While the noise woke us up, we failed to investigate. But hey, it was three in the morning. When son went to leave the next morning, he found his damaged truck, with automobile parts, bumpers, grills and headlights and taillights, some from his truck and some not, littering the street.

You know, at age eighteen, having your truck (AKA: your hot-babe pick-up machine) damaged feels like the end of the world. It took me five minutes to convince my son–in his state of fury—that finding your truck wreaked in front of your house was not a 911 emergency. After talking the phone out of his hands (it was close, I swear he was about to call out the swat team) we called the police.

My son continued to rant. “How could this happen? Don’t you know I only carry liability insurance on this truck? Do you know how much it’s gonna cost to fix this? Why isn’t this considered an emergency?”

You know, I’m certain I’ve told my son that life isn’t always fair, that bad things sometimes happen to good people, but of course, teenagers never listen. Ahh, but my heart still bled for him and to prove it, I gave him my husband’s keys and let him drive his car for the day. (No my heart didn’t bleed so much that I’d give him my car.)

When the cop showed up, he crossed his arms over his ample chest and came to an amazing conclusion. “I’ll bet someone was drunk when he hit this.”

Duh, ya think?

I wish I could tell you that the cop was a total hunk, but nope, he sort of looked like the cop who shot Sue’s couch in my book, Divorced, Desperate and Dating. He looked more like Archie Bunker than he did any of my cop heroes.

Here’s how most of the conversation went.

Cop: They really plowed into that truck.
Hubby: Yup.
Cop: I’ll bet whoever hit this is sore and really pissed this morning.
Me: Not as sore or as pissed as my son is.
Cop: He’s only carrying liability insurance, huh?
Me: Yup.
Cop: Have you ever explained to him that life isn’t fair?
Hubby and I at the same time: Yup.
Cop: They never listen, do they?
Hubby and I: Nope.
Cop: I think some of these parts strewn everyone belongs to the vehicle that hit you.
Hubby: Yup.
Cop: I should take some of them to see if I can get a make of the car. Let me get a bag. (Cop gets a garbage bag out of his Black and White and starts picking up parts.)
Me: You aren’t wearing gloves.
Cop: Huh?
Me: You’re tainting the evidence.
Cop: Tainting it?
Me: Now they won’t be able to check for prints or DNA evidence. And it will be thrown out of court if they do find something.
Cop: (Realizing I’m either a smartass, crazy, or joking--little did he know it was all three.) Oh, damn! I must have left my gloves at home.
Me: (In my serious voice) I’ve heard of cops getting fired for less.
Cop: What are you like some crime-show or CSI freak?
Me: No, just a mystery writer.
Cop: I’m impressed.
Hubby: Don’t be. She makes up freaky crap and writes about it.
Cop: Laughs. (He’s looking and acting more and more like Archie Bunker—so is hubby for that matter!)
Hubby: (Half joking) You’re gonna call us by this afternoon with the name of the owner of the car, aren’t you?
Cop: Uhhh . . .
Me: Come on. It’s Christmas. Miracles sometimes happen.
Hubby: You aren’t ever going catch this guy, are you?
Cop: Not unless he walks into the police station and confesses.

(See, I told you, Son, sometimes life just isn’t fair.)

Now the real kicker came when the cop said that he had to go across the street and talk to our neighbors. No, they hadn’t had a car ran into, but someone had stolen one of their boys’ new bikes from the front yard, and . . . (this is where it gets weird) left a girl’s bike in its place. Would that make the thief a decent person or not? My question is: Is the bike swapper the same person who hit my son’s car?

Now I know you think I’m making this stuff up, but seriously, this kind of crap only happens in real life. And fiction is so much better, because if I was writing this, that cop would have been drop dead gorgeous, and I would have been 15 years younger, thinner, and single. Oh, and there probably would have been a body in my front yard.

So what about you? Any weird stuff to report? How’s your new year ringing in? Are you holding tight to those New Year’s resolutions? Come on, share a bit.