Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writing Amidst Chaos or How to Avoid Avoidance

Take a look at the headlines. If you dare.

A tanking economy. Job losses at historic highs. Pirates pillaging. Mothers killing their children. Fathers killing in front of their children. Floods. Tornadoes. Wildfires. And now the swine flu.

In the midst of all this real life drama, angst, and worry it’s a challenge to keep focused on the task at hand—whether it be work, college, or writing.

I’ll be the first to admit it. Lately it’s been difficult for me to maintain the strict, disciplined schedule required to produce the pages necessary to meet writing deadlines and commitments.

A new job. College courses. Family responsibilities. A possible pig pandemic. Just what the aspiring author needs to create a positive, affirming, emotionally and creatively inspirational work environment, right?


It doesn’t help matters (especially when one is prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder) that winter just won’t give way to spring and the days are cold, rainy, and depressing as you know what. Add to that the fact that—generally speaking—it helps to be in a ‘happy place’ when you write comedy, and you have the classic setting for activity avoidance—the activity in question being writing of a humorous nature, of course. It’s hard to be funny when you’re grumpy.

A couple of days ago a co-worker was inquiring about my writing process. The conversation went something like this:

Coworker: So, when do you actually write? Do you go home after work and write?

Me: That depends.

Translation: (If I can drag myself away from Nancy Grace and Greta Van Susteren, I might actually do some writing.)
Coworker: What are you working on?

Me: That depends.

Translation: (If I’m in a good mood, I’ll work on the funny stuff. If I’m in a dark place, I’ll whip out the serial killer/stalker/slice ‘n dice story.)
Coworker: So how’s that working for you?

Me: Great! Just great!

Translation: Why are you badgering me?
Coworker: So. When will you finish the next book?

Me: Soon. Very soon.

Translation: Why do you hate me?
And so it went.

Fortunately, as a former state trooper who made it through four months of the Quasi-Military Style Public Safety Academy I am confident the strict self-discipline I adopted and ascribe to and the various tools I enlist to aid me in my endeavors will see me safely through the current maze of trials, temptations, and distractions that threaten to derail my writing progress.

Translation: Now I am going to make a big pot of coffee to enjoy with a rather large slice of double chocolate fudge cake, open my work in progress file and try to be funny despite the cold, wet, yucky weather outside my office window.
Tell me. What works for you? What is your writing process like? Do you set daily/weekly page quotas? How do you keep focused on and committed to the craft of writing when the world around you is spinning out of control? Do you—like me—have different stories for different moods? Rewards for goals met? Any tips for getting—and staying—in the ‘writing zone’? Between work and writing, how do you find time for family—and for you?

Well, my coffee’s done brewing and that cake is waiting. Oh, yeah. So is my writing project. So I’m off to put words on the page.

Translation: If I don’t finish this project, my agent may engage in some slicin’ and dicin’ of her own.
Talk about writing motivation!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look What Happens When You Take 3 Different Cold Medicines...At Once...

Did you ever "Nyquil-goggle" and think that Sudafed on the counter is looking pretty good? Did you ever think, "Hell, what harm can come from taking those together?" Did you ever follow that sentiment with a Tylenol Nighttime Cold Chaser?

A few observations during the last two days of severe head cold-induced hallucinations:

1) Kids don't differentiate between, "What part of 'Mommy is dying' do you not understand?" and "Brush your teeth." In their minds, there is no difference (or importance) between the two.

2) I want to see the baby who could fit his head into this bag and suffocate. I could make some money with that baby.

3) They say that the way your lipstick wears and the shape that results says a lot about you. I wonder if it applies to other makeup? This is what my Brow-Zing by Benefit has worn down to. I see ovaries and a uterus. What does that mean?

4) In the "Why didn't I think of this?" files, why didn't I think of this?

Have you read this yet? Here's the opening line,

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

Seriously, why didn't I think of that?

How is your week going?

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RTed Out!

I did it. I spent 4 super busy, intense days and nights at the Romantic Times Convention. Before I went, I got the news that Gotcha! is a Top Pick, 4 ½ stars for the month of June. Wow. Oh, and they said I was Hot. Okay…maybe they aren’t really talking about me, but my book, but it’s connected to my name and I’ll take it anyway I can get it.

I’ll post that review next week, because I’ve got more important things to talk about. RT was fantastic. For those of you who don’t know what RT is . . . it is Romantic Times Book Review Convention. They host it once a year. It is attended by readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, and publishing professionals, as in editors and reviewers and such. Oh . . . and I think it was also attended by a bunch of hunks . . . cover models and wanna-be cover models. Yeah, I sort of remember them.

I gave two workshops (with Faye Hughes) met up with old friends, made new friends, got to laugh with lots of booksellers. (Did I tell you I love booksellers?) There were a couple of booksellers who actually stopped me when I was walking out of the conference building and said, “Wow, we just love your books!” I dropped my purse, screamed, and gave them both a bear hug. I was afraid they were going to call for security, but I couldn’t help myself. Sure, I’ve heard the ol’ “I love your books” speech before, and I appreciate mama saying it all the time, but hey, this was like . . . real.

Another bookseller from Australia, told me, (imagine a beautiful accent) “Booksellers read authors and try to figure out what they will be like. A lot of times, we are totally wrong. But you are just like we thought you’d be.” Hmm…I guess all my potty humor gave me away, huh? Next book I write, I’m going to try to make myself appear taller, thinner, and better looking. Seriously. . . I loved every one of the booksellers and as every writer knows, booksellers are crucial to our success.

Then I met reviewers. They didn’t run from me when they saw me, so that was good news. Okay, there was that one lady. I think she’d heard about my obsessive hugging. But don’t reviewers know that writers are like wild animals, the act of running stimulates our chase instinct?

There were also the readers. One lady came up to me and said, “I loved your puke scene in Weddings.” Now let me ask you, is that not a heck of a thing to be remembered for? But what’s scary is that I was tickled pink and I hugged her too.

I can’t talk about RT without mentioning the pre-published writers. Writers there holding on to the dream, some of them holding on by a thread, wondering if the time will ever come that they will see their own books in print. When I see these people, I see myself only a few years ago. I know how hard it is to fight the fight, to believe in yourself when it feels as if no one else does, but like I told them, and I’ll tell you, if I can do this, you can do this. Yes, you might still need to learn, (Hey, I’m still learning) it may not be easy, because it wasn’t for me, but you CAN do it. Never, ever, give up.

Anyway, I signed over a 100 books. My hands were cramping, but I would have given it a go with my toes before I refused to sign. I loved it.

I know, most of you are thinking . . . can she just get to the good stuff. And by good stuff, I know you mean the very hot, good-looking men.

Yes, I have a vague memory of seeing those hard rippled abs, bedroom smiles, muscled arms and chests that just begged to be cuddled against. Yup, I think there might have been one or two. Or a dozen or two. And yes, I can appreciate it, but I’m sorry, I’m a mom of a boy who is probably only about five years younger than those hunks. And let’s just say I would have felt a bit like a cougar if I’d given any of them a second glance. (Okay maybe a third glance would have induced that feeling, the second one I couldn’t help.) And yes…I’m going to post some of my pictures below!

In a nut shell, I had a blast. Dorchester had parties. Wine, chocolate, the Mr. Romance contest and dancing! I didn’t partake in the wine too heavily, I don’t care what that waitress at the bar says. Now . . . as for indulging in the chocolate . . .? I couldn’t. I had to set a good example for my roommates. I had two big bags of chocolate to pass out at the Bookseller’s workshop. And my roommates, Faye Hughes and Teri Thackston, kept getting into it. I swear, I’d go to the bathroom and come back in the room and they’d be sitting in the beds, their mouths full and trying to look innocent. But duh, they forget to get rid of the brightly colored and sparkly wrappers littered all around them. I mean, please! At least I made sure my wrappers were hidden in the bathroom trash can.

Oh, and we giggled like a group of school girls—yes there were a couple of nights we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning snickering so hard that I swear all of us were in danger of peeing in our pants.

I can’t share with you exactly what the laughter was about, because what happens at RT, stays at RT! But it was something about the bottoms of someone’s pajamas splitting when they tried to move a suitcase. I swear it was just like in the movies. The tearing noise . . . the “Oh my goodness” scream and then the hoots of laughter. What was bad was this person had also accidentally put her top on inside out. See what all that chocolate will do to you?

Oh, not to brag are anything, but I did get propositioned. How cool is it that I can actually say I was hit on at RT. So what if it wasn’t by a cover model, but a waiter, old enough to be my dad, who asked if I’d kiss his bald head. The things people will do for tips!

There were also some lessons to be learned from attending the conference. If you are going to bring the girls out to play . . . (and there’s nothing wrong with it. I can guarantee you that the cover boys enjoyed it immensely) but just go ahead and introduce them. “Hello, this Lucy and this is Ethel and they wanted to say hi.” It would have made the situation less awkward. Because when you meet someone and their girls are just standing there—well some of them were more like lying there—you feel sort of awkward. A quick introduction will put everyone at ease. Okay . . . maybe I’m just jealous, not because I don’t have the girls, but mine are so darn shy and haven’t seen the light of day since I lost my bathing suit top while going off the high dive at a public pool. Yup, some of those girls and their girls were looking good and proud of it while my girls hid behind their minamizer.

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week. What have you guys done? Any news to share? Lessons learned? Did you get asked to kiss an elderly waiter’s bald head? Oh, come on, someone out there can top that, right? And here are the images for everyone to enjoy.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ugh - Monday Morning

Well, it's Monday morning and I can't breathe. Yeah, allergies! I guess I didn't really need my nose, right? And since I have a round of edits to finish for my fabulous editor, Leah, this is going to be a short post. So today, I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite YouTube videos. This guy auditioned for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, and although he didn't make the cut, those of you who were dancing in the 80's are sure to get a big charge out of him. So without further ado - Dancing Clown.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Name that baby!

I am a dork. I totally thought today was Thursday, then just now had the epiphany that it was Friday and… hello, Gemma? Blog?

I’m totally blaming pregnancy brain. In fact, I’ve decided that everything in my life can now be blamed on pregnancy. It’s kind handy. Take out the trash? Can’t, pregnant, too much strain. Get up early? Can’t, baby needs sleep. Did I devour that entire pizza myself? Yep, baby was hungry. I could get used to this.

So, for anyone who’s counting I’m about 17 weeks along now, which means I can find out the sex of the baby at any time. Yay! I’m trying to hold out for 20 weeks, as that’s when I’ve been told is the very best time to catch baby being all developed and stuff, but we’ll see how long I can hold off buying hordes of pink outfits.

And, next to pink outfits, the other thing I’m waiting on gender to decide is name! I’m terrible with names. The hardest part of writing any book for me is always coming up with names for characters. I’m so bad that I started having “Name a character in my book” contests, not for the promo, but so that I didn’t have to name them myself. So, the task of coming up with a name that I won’t mind shouting fifteen times a day for the next eighteen years is daunting at best. Help! I need your baby name ideas. Anyone have any good ones?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Reality Check for Authors--and Nosy Nellies

I don’t know of a writer who doesn’t dream of hitting it big. You know. Like J.K. or Janet or Nora. We write, of course, because we must. It’s wired into our psyche. An addiction. We can’t NOT write. But we all harbor hopes of starting that next big trend, being the talk of the publishing industry, getting that movie option, hitting those lists. Making tons of money and being able to make a living from our writing.

When you first start out in this business, you dare to dream. And dream big. As a pre-pub you indulge in all those motivational, get-psyched representations of imagined future success. You design a book cover with your name on it and tape it over someone else’s book. You superimpose your head on a RITA winner’s body. You replace J.K.’s name with yours at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. All in the name of chasing down and lassoing that dream.
But as most authors quickly learn that actually ‘livin’ the dream’ is much harder than pursuing it. A heckuva lot harder.

Even for New York Times Bestselling authors.

Exhibit A? A recent blog post by Lynn Viehl, located at If you haven’t already read this post, I encourage you to read it. It is quite illuminating.

And, sadly, depressing as hell.

This author had made a promise to her writer friends if she ever made the top ten of the New York Times list, she’d share information and statistics about this accomplishment so other writers could glean truth from fiction when it comes to discovering what goes into making a list and the benefits derived from same.

If you thought a book entitled TWILIGHT FALL would be chilling, waituntil you read this blog post.

All writers want to know what it takes to make ‘The Lists’ and what it means in terms of the cold, hard bottom line. The author does a great service to fellow writers in debunking some popular myths relating to what it takes to hit a list.

Myth 1: You must have a 100K plus initial print run.

Reality: We’ve all heard in order to make the lists you have to have an initial print run of 100 –150K. Not true. TWILIGHT FALL had an initial print run of 88.5K with an initial ship of 69K.

Myth 2: You must pimp your books at multiple writing conferences.

Reality: This author hasn’t attended a writing conference since 2003.

Myth 3: There are certain bookstores that report sales data to the ‘Lists’ and you must arrange to have a large number of your books sold there.

Reality: This author does not do book signings, does not order uber amounts of her own books from those ‘top secret’ stores. She never was approached by anyone offering to ‘get her on the Times list’ or pointed in the direction of persons who might be of assistance to her in making the list—if such people do exist, that is.

Myth 4: You must have substantial publisher support in terms of promotion and marketing.

Reality: As a ‘high, mid-list’ author the author suspects she didn’t rate a marketing campaign, however she did receive some publisher provided blog ads for the previous book in the series.

Myth 5: You must spend considerable time and money on self-promotion.

Reality: The author here admits she does little in the way of promotion. For TWILIGHT FALL she gave away some ARCs and mailed some author copies to selected reviewers and readers and that was about it.

Myth 6: Once you hit the ‘Lists’ you are raking in the dough.

Reality: The numbers for TWILIGHT FALL are roughly as follows:

  • Advance: $50,000 (with one-third withheld until the book hit bookstore shelves) minus agent’s 15 percent ($7,500), taxes ($15,000), and expenses with a net advance of $26,000.
  • Initial Royalties: $40,484 with $13,512 withheld as a reserve against return of books by booksellers
  • Actual earnings for first royalty period: $0. (Net earnings of $27K deducted from advance of $50K equals -$23,000 or amount left to ‘earn out’ advance)
And let’s not forget the first royalty statement isn’t received until the book has been out for twelve months—or longer—so an author waits an entire year to receive any royalties earned over and above the initial advance.
So much for rollin’ in the dough, huh?
There you have it. The cold, hard facts and figures of the publishing industry. Which is why when someone asks me how much I’ve made off my seven books generally implying it’s a healthy amount (you’d be surprised at how often this happens) I just smile and respond with, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Works for me.
What was the most important info I gleaned from Viehl's remarkably forthright post?
Viehl's truth-sharing reinforced what I've known all along. The best mechanism you can employ to become a successful writer is to write the best damned, cutting edge, page turner story you can write--and do it before the next equally determined guy or gal.
Are you surprised at this author's experience? How does this information--or does this information alter or change the way you view your writing aspirations or your favorite authors? What other myths about hitting the 'Lists' have you heard or heard debunked?
I’m off to rake bags and bags of leaves, but I’ll check back often to hear your thoughts on Myths VS Reality in publishing.
~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If You Can Dodge A Wrench, You Can Dodge A Ball...

Me with three of the vanquished

It's that time again! That wonderful time of year when our local Girl Scout Service Unit holds its annual Leader-Daughter Event! A chance to spend time with the girl who is the reason I became a leader. Just me and Margaret and a chance to make some memories that no one can ever take away from us. A time when she doesn't have to share me with the whole troop. A time when I can hand her complete and crushing defeat and do a humiliating victory dance all over her prepubescent pride.

Yes! It's time for the Leader-Daughter Dodgeball Tournament! I know I blogged on this last year, but the smell of victory is so sweet I simply must re-live the rush!

A little strutting goes a long way in terrifying your enemies

You see, I always sucked at dodgeball. I hated the game. We called it Bombardo but it was the same thing. A chance for the bullies to cream us into weeping submission while being cheered on by a crew-cut weilding psychopath...oh, sorry, I mean gym teacher. Miss "Smith," (it was ALWAYS a Miss) thought the game built character. And even if it only served to cruelly crush the self-esteem of a pimply and well-read few, at least it managed to teach the bigger, dumber kids that for a short time in their lives, they would be stars. She wore that crew-cut very well, too, I might add.

El Conquistador - as I now wish to be known by my troop - expert ball handler...oh...wait...

Arguments relating Dodgeball to unfair and bloody tribute in Roman colisseums fell on deaf ears as these dictators of P.E. got high from watching kids humiliate each other - just like they did in their youth.

Ah, but I digress. Back to the present.

Noooooooooooooo! I can't be out! Oh the humanity!

The Leaders went into this match with last year's slaughter (we won 7 to 0 - but are too mature to remind them) ringing in our ears as our arteries hardened with placque. Middle-aged and a tad heavier than last year, there were only five of us to their ten. The odds were against us. And the way we were breathing heavily after walking down seven steps to the gym floor gave us cause for concern. These girls were several inches taller and one year older than last year. They played dodgeball all the time. Things didn't look good for our weary band.

We few...we happy few...we out-of-shape Band of Leaders...

We smeared 'em, 3 to 2.

I suppose we should've felt bad about the smack talk as we wheezed back up into the church common room for ice cream. We probably should have said something wise and memorable to set it all straight. We certainly should have displayed good sportsmanship. At least, in hindsight it seems like it would have been a good idea to do so. It might have been a smidge over the top to do that endzone dance and make the "Losers" put everything away.

And as our aching muscles whined and joints creaked as we eased slowly into our minivan-chariots and drove off into that good night. We few...we happy and victorious few... felt pretty damned good.

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The First Time

Ahh, the first time. What “first time” am I talking about? What do you think I’m talking about? Yeah, I knew you’d think I was talking about that.

Truth is, I’m sort of talking about that and more. I’m talking about the many firsts that we face as women. Think about it, most anything we do as a first timer is generally marked as memorable. Even if we’d rather some of them be forgettable.

Yup, most of our first times end up in our memory banks as mental keepsakes. And yes, some of them we never speak about because they would make good blackmail material. But sharing is so much fun and sometimes so funny. And just by reading someone else's memories, it very well may trigger your own trip down memory lane. So I'll go first:

Here are just a few of my own first times.

The first day of school. I remember holding my mom’s hand, being scared and yet somehow excited at the same time. To this day, I can smell that wood floor wax that the janitor used to push around on his monster broom. He scared me.

I remember my first crush on a boy. He sat in the back of the class carving his name into the desk. I’m pretty sure he’s spent some time in jail as an adult. What can I say? I’ve always had a weak spot for bad boys.

Oh, goodness, my first “real” kiss. Let me tell you, one should never have that memory involve a bad case of hiccups and the first shocking experience of seeing your granddaddy in his tighty-whities. But it’s a memory that will stay with me.

The first period. Yowzy. I remember being a tad grossed out and yet feeling sort of grown up, as if I’d just crossed some big milestone.

Oh, then there’s the first time I accidentally lost my bathing suit top by jumping off the diving board at the community pool. If you like me at all, you’d better not be laughing. That was a very, very bad day.

The first heartbreak. I swear it was a real pain. I think I cried every night for a month.

The first . . . FIRST time. I’m not going to go there. Except to say it was sort of like my first period. I remember being a bit grossed out and yet feeling sort of grown up. Funny how some things change, huh?

How about the first time you really saw a man naked. Did you, like me, think . . . I’d hate to have something like that hanging off of me? I mean, what do they do with it in their underwear? Seriously, that's what I thought.

Oh, how about my first wedding . . . which led me to my first (and only—I pray) divorce. Oh, yeah, if I ever have to get rid of any of my first-time memory data, those two would be moved into the delete pile.

How about the first time you realized you were pregnant? I remember putting my hand low on my abdomen and thinking . . . wow.

How about the first time you realized that your boobs weren’t perky anymore? I remember putting my hand low on my abdomen, right beside the boob, and thinking . . . damn!

Hmm…first grandbaby? Ahh, that one is still giving me a high. I’ll post more pictures later.

Oh, I remember the first time I saw one of my books on a bookshelf. Seeing my name and knowing a lifelong dream had come true. And thinking about that first, brings me to the “first time” that inspired this blog.

A few days ago, I got to experience another first time. My very first Publisher’s Weekly Review. For those of you who don’t know, this is a pretty big first for a writer. While I know that in all honesty we should never place too much value in the opinion of others, and reviews are just opinions, but I can’t help it. These last few days I feel a bit like Sally Fields, running around and saying…”They like me. They really really like me.” See it below:

Christie Craig. Dorchester/Love Spell, $6.99
(336p) ISBN 978-0-505-52797-4
Craig (Divorced, Desperate and Delicious) fills her new romantic thriller with a playful tone and quick banter. Law student and pizza delivery girl Macy Tucker becomes the special project of detective Jake Baldwin after her sweet but unreliable brother, Billy, escapes from jail on the heels of suspected killer David Tanks. Jake starts out focused on recapturing Tanks, his nemesis, but soon begins to feel very protective towards Macy. Unpleasant experiences
with her dying grandfather, abusive father and cheating ex-husband have
left her with little trust, so Macy has sworn off men, but Jake is persistent and
attractive, and their families quickly begin encouraging the match. Supporting characters like Macy’s sexy, yoga teaching grandmother are engaging and funny without being caricatures, and the mystery and romance plots fit seamlessly into a witty and fast-paced novel that’s easy to read and satisfying to the heart. (June)

Okay…there you have it . . . a few of my notable firsts. What about you guys? Anyone care to share some “first time” moments. Oh, come on, we could use a few laughs, or a few sighs.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Movie Review

Sorry for the posting delay today. Had a power outage this morning in my area so I'm completely off my normal schedule. Let's face it, there's nothing like using the john with a flashlight. You don't even want to know what my hair looks like.

I love to see movies (who doesn't, right) and I have a particular affinity for horror. I'll see them all - A, B, C, or Z - doesn't matter. And for horror I have different ranking standards than for other genres. Horror gets a vote for plot/character dev - the usual - but it also gets the additional rating for "creep factor." A movie with a horrid plot and no character dev at all (think asian horror like The Ring) can still score high in the creep factor category.

This past weekend, I saw A Haunting in Conneticut, which is supposed to be based on a true story of one family's experience with an old house that used to be a funeral parlor. Now, first off I'd like to say that I liked the movie. It had plot, it had a complete backstory, and it had compelling characters that you could root for. But it also had the one thing I can't stand that seems to be the staple of all horror movies - the "huh?" factor.

For instance, in this movie the spirits were scaring the crap out of one kid primarily, but the rest of the family had started to experience odd things. So no one was unaware that the house had issues. But yet they still all slept with the lights off in their separate bedrooms - huh? Okay, not for nothing, but if ghosts or demons or whatever were haunting my house and scaring the poop out of me, the next day, we'd be moving mattresses into the largest downstairs room and preferably the one connected to the front door. Why lock yourself away upstairs where you can be trapped by fire or something worse?

Stupid, right? And not very realistic. I really don't understand why it had to be that way as they could easily have written it the way I said and had the spirits/demons separate them in other ways. But anyway, I digress.

So what's your stupid movie pet peeve?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, April 17, 2009

My new baby

It’s here. My new baby! Okay, no, not that baby – she/he still has a good six months of cooking left (will post bump pics next week!). The baby I'm talking about is my latest book cover! And it’s hot. I’m talking steamy. I had to light a metal cigarette after looking at it. You wanna see?

You sure?


Here goes…

Ta da!

I’m in love just a little bit. :)

Scandal Sheet
is the first book in my brand spakin’ new Hollywood Headlines series, hitting bookstores in November. The series revolves around the L.A. Informer, Hollywood’s most infamous tabloid, the various reporters who work there, and the stars they stalk. Scandal Sheet belongs to Tina Bender, the Informer’s gossip columnist extraordinary. She know everything about everyone who’s anyone and she’s not afraid to print it. That is until she begins receiving death threats, telling her to “stop writing about me!” And when her overzealous boss, Felix Dunn (who some readers may remember from the High Heels series), hires her one buff bodyguard, Tina’s life starts to spiral out of control – both professionally and personally.

Anyone want to read an excerpt? Well in case you do, I just happen to have on handy. This is one I haven’t even posted on my website yet, so it’s the first sneak peak at Scandal Sheet. Okay, now I’m off to go spend the rest of the day playing with pictures and making a fun book trailer. Wish me luck!

Scandal Sheet

* * *


I swiveled in my chair to face my boss, Felix Dunn, standing in the doorway to his office, hands on hips.
“Swear Pig.”
I pursed my lips together. “That doesn’t count.”
“I just heard you say ‘shit.’”
“It was computer related. Everyone knows computer related swearing doesn’t count.”
He narrowed his eyes. Clearly my argument wasn’t cutting it.
“It’s your own fault, you know,” I protested, changing tactics. I looked down at my computer. I’d been working on a juicy tidbit about the It teen actress who’d been caught with a joint in her hand at last night’s afterparty when my backspace button stuck, taking out one very cleverly worded line, even if I did say so myself. “I mean, how many centuries old are these things anyway?” I went on. “Would it kill you to buy some new hardware once in a awhile?”
He shook his head. “Swear Pig, Bender,” he repeated. Then disappeared back into his office.
“I heard that!”
I stuck my tongue out at his door and dropped two quarters into the purple piggy bank on my desk. Somehow our newly appointed editor in chief was under the impression that yours truly swore too much. I have no fucking idea where he got that impression. But, he’d set up the Swear Pig as a way to break my bad habit. Personally, I was fine with my bad habit. It’s not like I was shooting heroin or anything, ya know?
Which brought me back to my story.
I swiveled around, pushing my glasses back up onto my nose and put my fingers to keyboard, recreating my perfect line.


I sat back in my chair, surveying my work. Okay, so it was a little mean. But, seriously, she played a perky cheerleader in a tween cable show. This was tabloid gold.
I hit “send” letting my daily gossip column zip through the L.A. Infomer’s network to Felix’s inbox, then gave my knuckles a satisfying crack.
I glanced at the clock. Quitting time. And somewhere there was a big beefy burrito dinner with my name on it. I grabbed my Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox that doubled as my purse and made for the exit.
Unfortunately, not before Eagle Eyes Dunn could catch me.
I thought a dirty word and turned around. “Did you want something, chief?”
“You finished up that Wood piece yet?” he asked, leaning against the doorframe of his office.
“Just emailed it to you.” I loved it when I was one step ahead of the boss.
“What about Pines?”
“Pines?” Edward Pines was the director who’d recently been arrested when, after a routine traffic stop, a stack of pornography had been found under the seat of his car. Not that naked bodies were a novelty in Hollywood, but these particular magazines had included photos of thirteen year old boys in the buff. I don’t care how much his last action pic grossed, that guy was total Hollywood road kill now. “What about him?” I asked.
“Being arraigned today. It’s your story, right?”
Damned straight. My headline the morning after Pine’s arrest had read: PINES PINES AFTER PINT-SIZED PRE-TEENS. What can I say? I had a thing for alliterations.
But as much as I was relishing the story, I wasn’t thrilled with the timing.
“He’s being arraigned now?” I asked, my stomach growling. “It’s dinner time.”
“The news waits for no one, love. Cam’s meeting you at the courthouse,” he said, ducking back into his office.
So much for my burrito. “Shit.”
“I know, I know. ” I reached into Strawberry Shortcake and pulled out another quarter, dropping it in the ceramic pig on my way out.
At this rate, I’d be broke by Christmas.

* * *

What do you guys think? Feedback? Early reviews?

~Trigger (and cover!) Happy Halliday

For any of you writers out there, I’m conducting a series of workshops on my website this summer. The first one, the New Author’s Survival Guide, will be next month. So, if any of you are newly/about-to-be published or planning ahead for when that call does come, check it out!

*****Permission to Forward*****

Online workshop: New Author’s Survival Guide

A practical guide for the newly published. Whether you’ve just signed your first print contract with New York, are dipping your toes into the arena of e-publishing for the first time, or preparing in advance for when that first call comes, this course will take you on a step-by-step journey from contract to bookshelves with everything a new author needs to know to survive in the competitive marketplace. In this one week online course, we’ll go over:

- Contracts – what to avoid and what to fight for
- Rights – what to do with your TV/Film, Foreign, Electronic, and Audio rights
- Editor/agent relations – who do you turn to, how often, what makes you vigilant and what makes you a pest
- Revisions and Galleys – what to expect, what to watch for
- Promotion – how to tailor a promo campaign for you, make the most of your promo dollars, and getting your publisher behind your book
- Cover art/blurbs – your input and options
- Cover quotes – how to get them, which ones are most effective
- Contact info for reviewers, vendors, booksellers

May 4th - May 11th Cost $20
For more information or to register for class, please go to:

Instructor Bio:
Gemma Halliday is the author of the High Heels Mysteries, as well as this fall’s upcoming Hollywood Headlines romantic mystery series. Gemma’s books have won a multitude of awards, including a Golden Heart, a National Reader’s Choice award and two RITA nominations. She’s sold foreign rights for two of her novels, and optioned television rights for her debut book, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top Ten Temptations Currently Most Likely to Turn My Attention Away From Writing

I’ve blogged before about the diversions most likely to lure me away from writing but recently these ‘tantalizing teasers’ have been especially hard to resist. From time to time it behooves one, I think, to reassess those activities in one's life that tend to encourage a person to stray from the task at hand. So, in the tradition of recognizing a problem exists and identifying that problem, I present Bullet Hole’s Top Ten Temptations most likely to keep me from writing.

10 American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars featuring fellow Iowan and Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson, Criminal Minds…

9 New (and multiple) voices in my head urging me to tell ‘their’ stories—voices I have no business listening to until I’ve met my page quota on my current wip

8 Naps

7 Junk food runs for caramel sundaes, flavored coffees, bakery items, and Chinese Cuisine (and prior to Easter, Cadbury Crème Eggs)

6 Movies and DVDs

5 Home improvement madness run amok

4 Online news sources that feed my political junkie habit and goad me to write emails and letters to my elected representatives rather than the next scene of my wip

3 Long overdue warm spring-like days that encourage me to play hooky by taking long walks in the park and my favorite haunt--the cemetery.

2 Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell (sensational, yet riveting real life crime stories) and Greta Van Susteren (Fox News)

1 Uber tall stack of to-be-read books that promise hours of entertainment and escapismOkay, that’s the latest list of leisure time activities that prevent me from being as productive as I should be. Care to weigh in with your own Top Ten Temptations? What currently keeps you from focusing on the job at hand--whether it be writing-related, work-related, schoolwork, housework, etc.?

Now that I got that off my chest, I feel SO much better--confession being good for the soul, you know.

So, off I go to write…just as soon as I grab a cappuccino and a breakfast sandwich, check out the latest headlines, and take a short walk to clear my head of those voices I make reference to in Number 9 of my Top Ten Temptations.

Have a good one!

~Bullet Hole~

To Mr. Assassin, With Looooove...

This won't be much today. I'm out of town with the kids, seeing Mr. Assassin off on his new adventure. My husband's Reserve Unit has been called up. In two days he boards a bus to Ft. Dix in New Jersey. Then, in July, he heads off to Iraq until May 2010.

So this won't be a typical post because technically, I'm sort of on a vacation. I won't really be able to check in much since we are going to have briefings, a barbecue and the kids will get to play with real, automatic weapons.

He will be deployed with a Special Operations force as part of a Psy Ops unit. One of the crests of his units is "Win With Words." At least that makes me smile.

Until next week, when I promise, I'll be funny again.

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interesting (or Stupid) Facts, Quotes, and Truths I’ve Read

Okay…I’m on deadline. So this week I decided to just share with you some very intriguing, interesting, or weird things I’ve read. Some of them make me laugh, some of them just make me think.

· Making love burns the same number of calories as climbing two flights of stairs.

· In Laos, it is illegal for a woman to show her toes.

· When a woman is pregnant, her uterus expands to 500 times its normal size. (See why we’re the superior sex?)

· While a woman is menstruating, her middle finger’s sensitivity is lessened. (And how did they learn this?)

· The modern tampon was invented in 1933 by a male gynecologist.

· Never marry a man who refers to the rehearsal dinner as “The Last Supper.”

· A woman’s magazine asked whether you would rather have sex or chocolate. Seventy percent of those responding preferred chocolate.

· Women are far less likely to drink juice or milk straight out of a milk or juice container. (Like this took a scientists to prove.)

· Nipple piercing was a hot fad in women in the 1800s. (Ouch!)

· Most arguments in the home take place in the kitchen.

· A woman can tell just by looking at man if he wants sex. That’s because, whenever a woman looks at a man, he wants sex.

· Women who read romance novels have sex twice as much as women who don’t. (If your husband ever complains about the money spent on books, tell him this one!)

· The Victorian cure for flabby breasts was a bath in fresh strawberries.

· Twice as many women as men can touch their tongues to their noses. (Hmm.)

· In Los Angles in 1976, a woman legally married a rock with 20 guests attending. (Hey, don’t you think we’ve all dated her husband once?)

· Don’t try to meet guys in bars. It’s like window shopping. Looking at fancy clothes on a bunch of dummies.

· Men carry their brains lower than women do, so when they’re scratching their crotches, they’re not being gross . . . they’re just thinking.

· Men are born with an innate ability to fold a map. But you can’t train them to fold towels, napkins, or fitted sheets.

Okay…anyone read anything unusual or interesting lately? Come on, I need a laugh.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Care and Feeding of Hypocrites

Hypocrites are one type of person I have a lot of trouble dealing with. I'm a shoot-straight kind of gal and I don't like dancing around and definitely not flat-out lying. I just don't see the point. Lord knows, I'm creative enough to lie, but then I'd have to put in all the additional effort to remember the lie and who I told it to and why I told it in the first place, and you get the idea. Then it becomes a full-time job. If everyone just said things straight out then a lot of people might not be happy but they'd darn sure be working with reality.

So yesterday I did Easter at my parents with my brother/sis-in-law and my niece, who is four. She goes to a mothers-day-out program at her church once or twice during the week and was showing me her folder of stuff from school. There was one page with stickers for things done well every day, and her mother informed me that they also get stickers for doing things wrong. So I asked if she had any of those. She said yes, and the tale unfolded:

The kids were all out on the playground and my niece picked up a piece of trash and threw it in the trashcan. A little boy went behind her and pulled the trash out of the can (and apparently there was no argument that this object was indeed trash). So my niece took it away from him (they're the same age) and threw it away again, telling him it was trash and to leave it in the can. He didn't. He reached back into the can and took the trash out again, so my niece shoved him down to the ground. Hence the naughty sticker.

So her mother says "that poor little boy and he was wearing glasses. That wasn't very nice. She even made him cry." She looks over at my niece and says. "But you apologized, didn't you?"

My niece looks up, and completely matter-of-fact says "I apologized, but I didn't mean it."

My mom and I instantly had coughing fits that required the use of napkins over lower half of face. I know you're not supposed to encourage unwanted behavior by laughing but c'mon. You have to admit it's funny. The girl knows that you're not supposed to play with trash and by darn she was going to get her point across. Not only that, she couldn't understand apologizing for something she wasn't sorry for doing. You gotta love kids.

And the irony of the whole thing made me wonder exactly what we are teaching them sometimes. I guess they can't run mannerless in society but well, I don't know. My niece can apparently find any angle to get her way and can also argue her points quite convincingly given her age. I figure if all else fails, she can be a politician.

So what do you think? Any funny stories of kids telling it like it is? Any theories on teaching hypocrisy? Are they too young to understand?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hoppy Easter!!!

Only two more days until the bunny comes hopping down the trail, leaving colored eggs and chocolates in his/her wake. Requests from the young(ish) ones in my house for bunny offerings? My son (8yr old) is hoping for candy. Chocolate. Preferably in the shape of a bunny. And life sized. My brother (20 yr old) said he’d like a basket filled with fake grass, jelly beans, and beer. My kind of basket.

One Easter tradition that we have in our house is that the bunny always brings at least one Easter book in my son’s basket. The boy’s favorite so far has been The Golden Egg by A.J. Wood. It’s a really cute rhyming pop-up book with lots of gold, silver, and sparkly foil inside so it kinda shimmers like real golden eggs.

My fav Easter story – or really anytime story – is by far Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward. This book is about how one little girl bunny, who always wanted to be an Easter bunny, was told by the big men bunnies she was just a girl, she could never make it. So, she grew up, had a bunch of kids, and being “only a mom” thought she’d never get her chance to fulfill her dream of being an Easter bunny. That is until her amazing skills honed by motherhood proved to be far superior to those of the big men bunnies. ;) (Girl-bunny power!)

This year, a little bunny told me the boy is getting The Tale of Despereaux (Okay, it's about a mouse, not a bunny, but his ears are very big for a mouse.) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (This one is a bunny!) both by Kate DiCamillo.

As Kathy mentioned yesterday, I know that for many people, the bunny years have passed, and this holiday's focus is largely a religious one. (By the way – my son is confused to no end about what a bunny and dyed eggs have to do with Jesus. Being a history buff, I tried to explain, but I think I lost him somewhere around the Pagan rites of spring.) So, for those of you who will be donning your finest dresses, wide brimmed hats, and fancy shoes for an Easter morning visit to church, here is a fun list I found in one of my research tangents on the web yesterday. They are lines from actual church bulletins published in 2008 around the country. Suddenly, I’m feeling like my typos aren’t all that bad… (P.S. Do NOT drink coffee while reading this!)

- The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

- The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

- Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

- Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

- The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

- Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.

- Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

- Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

- For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

- Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

- The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: 'Break Forth Into Joy.'

- Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

- A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

- At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.

- Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

- Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

- Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

- The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

- Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

- The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

- This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

- Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

- The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

- Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

- The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

- Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

- The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan: Last Sunday: ''I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours'

Hoppy Easter, all!!!!!

~Trigger (and bunny) Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's Easter again, Charlie Brown!

Easter is just days away. And while the focus of adults is, rightfully, on the spiritual significance of the events leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the secularized celebration represented by Easter bunnies and Easter Egg Hunts, colored baskets, chocolate candy, and other goodies is often eagerly anticipated by children.

As the mother of four, Easter was a holiday, much like Christmas, that commanded considerable prep time, resources--and thought. Easter baskets had to be individualized to each child, placing items each child particularly liked in their respective Easter basket. Additional care had to be made that no one received more candy or goodies than the next child, that there was an appropriate balance of nutritional versus junk food, and a similar proportion of fun items as opposed to educational. It was a daunting task.

Then there was the matter of the Easter clothes--suits for the boys and pretty dresses, shoes, and Easter 'bonnets' for the girls. Being the 'frugal' gal that I am, I generally tried to buy Easter outfits (aside from the footwear) a year ahead when they were marked down after Easter.

We made a big deal out of coloring our eggs and, living in the country, we had some really memorable Easter Egg hunts--one year particularly so. After we'd found the eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden, we'd take turns hiding the eggs. One year my daughter, Katie, did the honors. Try as we might, we couldn't find the final egg anywhere. And Katie couldn't remember where she'd hidden it. The next day when I went to start my automobile and it wouldn't start, I discovered the missing egg. It was sticking out of my tailpipe.

It's fun to look back at the photos of all those Easter holidays--yet also somewhat sad. My babies are all grown up. No more egg coloring parties. No more Easter Egg Hunts. No more frilly dresses, lacy socks, shiny shoes and Easter Hats.

Nowadays, we approach this holiday with an attitude of grateful praise and thankful humility for the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf.

But one thing remains constant: As always, Easter is a time for family and friends and fellowship.

And, of course, Cadbury Creme Eggs!

So, care to share any of your favorite Easter memories--or favorite Easter candy? Any Easter traditions you carry on from year to year? What about childhood Easter celebrations or events that stand out? Chime in!
And from my family to yours, have a wonderful (and warm!) Easter!
~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Platitudes...Misty, Watercolor Platitudes...

The Assassin actually ate the chocolate that used to live inside these wrappers.

This was a tough decision guys. You really stepped up last week with the whole, "What If..." thingy. But I had a whole week to think about it so there's no more beating around the bush.

The winner is Refhater with "What if I really wasn't switched at birth and this really is my family?"

The whole thing smacks of the Bombay clan, doesn't it? So Refhater, e-mail me at and we'll talk about your future writing for the greeting card company we should be starting with the rest of you. Oh, and one rule with the galley, no matter how much Hellion threatens.

And now, for something completely different...

If you are like me, (and if you are, we should talk) you have an addiction to Dove dark chocolates. I've tried everything to cut back - cold turkey (unfortunately there's a Walgreens one block away), promises (how many iPods does one person need for christsake?) and threats (but for some reason, I don't scare me).

Reality is, a dish full of the candy sits on my desk in a place of honor most people would reserve only for the Queen of England. Although, why anyone would want the Queen of England sitting on their desk is beyond me - but hey, to each her own.

I have convinced myself that the dark chocolate is medicinal and should be taken every five minutes. And it works. I do feel better. That is, until I read the little sayings they put inside on the wrapper. The folks at Dove don't have the talent YOU GUYS have when it comes to writing this crap.

Here are a few examples:

  • "For once, just let your heart rule your head." Oh yeah. Cuz that always turns out good in real life.

  • "Put up your feet and unwind" I tried this. And then my boss walked in and gave me one of those looks that says, "What the hell are we paying you to do?" It wasn't a good look. I don't recommend it.

  • "Live life large." Um, due to the consumption of chocolate, I really am. If I live it any larger, I'm gonna need new pants.

  • "Dance to the beat of life." Unfortunately, due to my enlarged state (see above) dancing could cause a heart attack at the worst and shortness of breath at best.

  • "Strength comes from within." Well it better. Because I don't excercise anymore and just sit around on my ass eating bon bons, my arms have the strength of a T-Rex's.

  • "Remind yourself that it's okay not to be perfect." Actually, I do this a lot. And it would be great advice if my boss/husband/children/publisher and ME weren't expecting perfect.
With our new Greeting Card company (if you don't know what I'm talking about you haven't been reading my blog dammit) I think we should also score the Dove chocolate contract. I think we would do a lot better writing these things.

  • "Letting your heart rule your head only works in romance novels. Think before leaving your husband for that so-called 'hunk/millionaire' you met on Facebook. Trust me on this one."
  • "Skinny is an optical illusion created by a fascist, supermodel conspiracy. Eat another one."
  • "You work too hard. This wrapper entitles the bearer to enslave her spouse/significant other/children to get things done around the house for a week. If they refuse, we will send VITO."

What would your wrapper say?

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Winner! Winner! Estella, you won a free copy of Kimberly 's book from last Saturday's post. Please send me your snail mail address at my website address christie (@) Christie-craig (.) com No spaces.

I’m sorry to tell you guys who live up north, but in Texas, spring has sprung. The robins have arrived, the mulberry tree in my front yard has dropped its fruit and the squirrels and birds are fighting over the purple berries. All the neighbor's outdoor cats are hiding under my car, hoping to get lucky—and I’m not talking about that kind of lucky—they’ll kill for a bird or a squirrel--literally. All day I have to listen to the chirping and squeaking noises, and the pathetic meows of the disappointed cats. Not to mention the upset female cats who don't take being ignored very well.

If that’s not bad enough, my entryway tile has the annual purple mulberry stains because son and hubby don’t know how to wipe their feet. My car and mailbox is covered in mulberry-colored bird poo because, obviously, mulberries have lots of fiber. Not that I still don’t love this time of year. I really do.

Oh, there is one other clue that spring is here. My son and hubby planted their garden. They do it almost every year. And to this day, when I see these two men out there working side by side, I remember their first garden. It was so sweet, that I even wrote about it. Below is my piece that was published in Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul years ago, reprinted in the latest edition of 101 of the Best Chicken Soup Stories, and recently picked up by Ideal Magazines.

A Garden So Rich

I watched out the window as they started turning over the soil. Of course, my husband did most of the work while our five-year-old son spent most of his energy fingering through the dirt looking for worms. Still, the sight of the two of them "working" side by side, preparing the ground for a spring garden, brought a smile to my face.
For just a moment I considered joining them. Then I remembered the excitement I'd heard in my son's voice when he announced that Saturday morning, "Me and Daddy are going to plant a garden!"
I sipped my coffee, wondering if joining in on the fun would be interfering in a male-bonding project. Right then I heard my son call out, "Hey dad, bet you can't find a worm this fine.”
"Oh yeah? Look at this one," my husband countered.
I could see the two squirming creatures that dangled from their fingers in some sort of "fine" worm contest. For a second, I wondered how one went about qualifying a fine worm.
Cringing, I made up my mind. This was definitely their project. I'd leave it to them. Besides, it might be more fun to stand back and simply see what grows out of this garden.
I watched as they poked the seeds into the black top soil. They planted tomatoes, squash, and green beans. I watched as they carefully transplanted the tomato plants into the ground. I listened to the spurts of laughter, the dialogue that passed back and forth.
"When will they grow, Daddy?"
"Soon," my husband replied.
"Not that soon."
"Tomorrow?" my son asked.
"In a few days. The seeds have to sprout, then grow."
"Then we'll have vegetables?"
"No it takes a while."
"One day?" my son questioned.
"Longer," my husband replied.
"Two days?" his anxious young voice queried.
I saw the smile touch my husband's expression and at that moment I knew I was already seeing the first of many fruits the garden would bring.
My son would learn that some things in life weren't instant. My husband would learn how to better deal with a five-year-old's expectations and endless questions. Patience...what a wonderful fruit to grow.
In the evenings that followed they knelt to the ground and looked for signs of new life. The sight of them, so close and with common goals, warmed my heart and made me happy I'd decided to watch from afar.
More days passed and each afternoon I watched the two of them water their garden. My son always managed to get as wet as the garden and, more times than not, even my husband came in drenched. The laughter that followed them in made the muddy tracks and extra laundry tolerable. Well, almost tolerable.
Finally, the plants appeared. From the distance I enjoyed my son's look of glee, as well as, the look of wonder on my husband's face as he, too, watched our son. And like the tiny plants breaking through the earth, I saw fruit number two appear. Pride...what a wonderful fruit to grow.
The weeks passed; the garden grew. At the first fruit-bearing blossoms, I watched the two men in my life study and examine each plant. My son would ask questions and my husband would do his best to explain.
"Why do they call squash, squash?" the smallest and dirtiest gardener questioned.
"I don't know," came my husband's answer.
"I wonder how many worms live in this garden?" my son asked.
"I don't know," my husband replied.
"A million?"
"Probably," my husband said.
"Can we catch them?" Excitement radiated from his voice.
"I don't think so." My husband chuckled. "But look at this blossom."
"Will it really become a tomato?" Came yet another question.
"It will." My husband smiled.
I smiled, too. For just as plants grow, I knew I was watching a relationship take root--watching cherished moments being framed for future memories.
They continued to water, to weed, and to care for their small garden. And after all the work and effort they proudly produced ten tomatoes, several medium-size squash, and three pots of beans.
One hot afternoon, my husband stared out the window at the wilting plants and asked, "Was it all worth it?"
Our smiles met at the same time. There was no need to answer. Relationships, memories, patience and pride. Who knew a garden could bear so much?

So . . . is spring sprung in your neck of the woods? Do any of you plant gardens? Do you have any special spring memories? Hey, Easter is right around the corner. Any Easter memories to share?
Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 06, 2009

Holiday Traditions

Since I won't talk to you guys again before the weekend - Happy Easter! My Sheltie, Bogey, was kind enough to pose for an Easter photo for your enjoyment.

Most families have some sort of holiday tradition, but I think a lot of them center around Christmas. In my family, it was all about Easter. Back when we were all in the same state the whole family would get together for Easter at one house - usually one with acreage. We're talking maybe 50 people or more eating and having fun. Because you see, our Easter tradition was games!

The spoon race with raw eggs, raw egg toss, the three-legged race - we played them all. AND we had our own family tradition called the Egg Walk. If you were new to the family (as in married in - if you were just born you don't do the egg walk until you can actually walk) you were required to do the egg walk. This is how it goes:

A couple of people take a ton of the boiled, decorated eggs and scatter them across a pretty large section of the yard - you can watch while they're doing this. Then you are blindfolded, and spun around in a circle. Someone points you in the right direction and your objective is to walk through the eggs without breaking one.

Thing is, while you were being blindfolded and spun in a circle, we picked up all the eggs. Do you know what it looks like to see grown adults tiptoeing around nothing? And don't think you're doing this in absolute quiet - oh no - there is all sorts of heckling going on and the yelling of "watch out" and "not to the right" from the sidelines.

Now, THAT is a family who appreciates a good joke!

Any Easter traditions in your family?

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Welcome to Kimberly Lang

Before I start belting out Sweet Home Alabama, I'll turn you over to a very funny Bama gal who is making a name for herself in romance fiction.

Take it away Kimberly!

I’m tickled to be here today. ~waves to my Alabama Home Girl, Christie~

One of the coolest things about being a writer is the fact I can file a lot of stuff under “Research” or “Refilling the Well.” Going to Vegas for the weekend? Research. Reading the latest romance releases? Both Research and Refilling the Well. Watching movies? Surfing the net? A pedicure? I can apply the terms pretty broadly (it doesn’t take a lot of practice), and it means I can get away with a lot.

“Gee, Honey, I can’t wash the dishes right now. I know it looks like I’m just reading, but, really, it’s market research. Gotta stay on top of the market, you know.”

“The well is feeling a little empty at the moment. I’m thinking a Girls’ Night Out is needed. You watch the kid, okay, Sweetie? Bye!”

I should be very ashamed of myself, I know.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time recently avoiding, I mean, researching. Or maybe I mean filling the well. All I know is that I’ve been watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And by a lot, I mean the complete box set. (Don’t tell my editor, okay?)

I’m a huge Buffy fan. I’ll happily argue Angel vs. Spike.* I’m unashamed to admit my small Riley crush. I’ve often worn my hair like Willow, and I would love to kick some butt like a Slayer. I love the action, the dialog, the characters. It was an awesome show.

Thing is, I write for Presents/Modern Heat. No vampires, demons, witches, or werewolves allowed in my plots. Nothing supernatural or paranormal. My heroines can be perky and strong, but they don’t kick butt in the Buffy sense. Umm, maybe I can make a small argument on the whole Alpha-hero front, but even then, it’s a little weak even with my broad definition of research.

But sometimes the brain just shuts down and it needs mindless entertainment. Or mine does, at least, because somewhere around Season Six, the fog lifted. I became oddly motivated and my WIP didn’t seem like something I should continue to avoid. It seems Buffy slays all kinds of demons.

I coined a new term – I wasn’t refilling the well; I was “Rebooting the Brain.” I’ve decided it’s equally as important. When my computer locks up and won’t cooperate, everyone tells me to reboot. I think it works for the computer between my ears as well. Complete shutdown. Turn everything off and count to thirty before restarting.

Or in my case, watch six seasons of Buffy, then restart. Hey, I’m not one to question something when it works.

Am I the only one with this need to reboot? How do you reboot the brain? Alternatively, weigh in on the Spike/Angel argument. I’ll pick a one person from the comment tail to receive a copy of my book!


*And I always come down on Spike’s side.

I’m celebrating the release of TWO books this month! The Secret Mistress Arrangement makes its US debut (squee!) and The Millionaire’s Misbehaving Mistress is out in the UK (squee again!) Big blog party at the Writing Playground ( on April 7th to celebrate – and more chances to win! Please drop by!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Basketball Diaries

First off, I was totally going to name this post March Madness because it was just SO appropriate. I had it all written, then I logged into blogger to post it… and saw that Kathy’s post yesterday was titled March Madness. Whoa. Talk about great minds thinking alike. ;) So I improvised with a new one.

And, why, you ask, was March Madness so appropriate? Well, let me tell you about the sports fan my mom met on a blind date last week.

She met him online and he called himself Tennisdude. Right off the bat, Mom could tell he was a sports nut. Mom? Like me, she considers high heels an aerobic workout and shopping the next great Olympic sport. However, she does like to play a game of tennis now and then, and you’d think any guy who’s that into sports is probably in good shape right? (Yeah, you’d think…) So, Mom agrees to meet Tennisdude at a local brewery for drinks the next evening.

That night Mom’s work ran a little late, so she texts Tennisdude and tell shim she’s on her way, but running about ten minutes behind. He’s cool with it, says he’s at the bar.

Only, there’s some big basketball game on that night. (Yeah, see how big I am into sports? I’ve got no clue what game. All I know is that instead of Survivor, they had super tall guys in squeaky shoes on TV that night.) So, the bar is packed. Mostly with guys. All of them watching the TV set. When Mom walks in, not one head turns away from the TV.

Which is where she encounters a problem. Which of the many guys at the bar is her date? She’s seen a couple of his pictures online, but the thing Mom’s rapidly finding out about dating over 50 is that every man posts pictures of his “young at heart self” that are at least ten years old. Hence, he could be any one of these guys. In lieu of tapping each one on the shoulder to find out if he’s the one, she decides to sit in the only vacant seat at the bar and wait for him to notice her. (Mom’s pictures actually are recent and she does look just like them. I come from honest stock.)

So, Mom sits. She orders a glass of wine. She sits some more.

Clearly the game is more interesting as, still, all pairs of male eyes are glued to the TV. Not one has even glanced her way. So, Mom texts Tennisdude again. She tells him she’s at the bar, the blonde in the white jacket sipping the cabernet, and waits.

And waits.

And begins to wonder if she needs to put on a pair of Nikes to get noticed around here.

Finally the guy next to her strikes up a conversation. She tell shim she’s there meeting a blind date, but doesn’t know which guy it is. My guess is that BarFlyGuy has had a few at this point, because he immediately agrees to help her find her date. Before she can even protest, he’s out of his seat, rounding the bar, tapping every guy on the shoulder asking if he’s hear to meet a blonde from the internet.

Needless to say, Mom now has a zero low profile. Eyes start turning her way. Lots of them. Which might have been a good thing under different circumstances, but the way BarFlyGuy worded it, it sounds like someone just ordered her from ebay.

Finally BarFlyGuy taps the right guy on the shoulder and Tennisdude looks up. (And, surprisingly, he doesn’t look 10 years older than his pic. He looks 20.) With stooped shoulders and a slight limp (that speaks to the fact it’s been decades since he actually played sports) he shuffles over to where Mom is waiting. At this point, she’s wishing BarFlyGuy hadn’t been so helpful.

Tennisdude settles himself in the empty seat next to Mom. And promptly tells her, “I’ve been waiting here all night. Where have you been?!”

Moral of the story: Don’t date a sports fan during March Madness.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Stop by the Romancing a Cause auction!
Help friends from Romance Divas support a romance writer who is struggling. She and her husband have lost their home, both lost their jobs, and we don’t want them to lose hope. Be a diva and have a ball with loads of awesome books. A new auction every day!

Bid on a book from me in the “The Hyacinth Group” auction going today, April 3!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Madness

March Madness strikes again. No. I'm not talking about the NCAA tournament. I'm talking about the weather, of course. And my frame of mind. 'Mad' didn't even come close to what I felt when I looked out my window Saturday to find big, fat, fluffy, cold flakes falling on one of the last days of March--and this despite four weather forecasters assuring me that the snow would track south of us.


It's the Winter of My Discontent--The Sequel. And it sucks.

I want spring! And sunshine! And temperatures that let me wear T-shirts and capri pants and make me want to shave my legs again. I want to plant tomato plants upside down in my topsy turvy planters, grill a nice thick steak outside on the patio, take the chain saw to the dead tree in the back yard, and yes, even rake and bag leaves. But spring refuses to, well, spring!

I whined about the weather all day Saturday and into Sunday when I had to kick the thermostat up a notch to keep warm. It was either that or call and order one of those old lady snuggies from TV to wrap up in.

I whined Monday and Tuesday when I had to pull out the winter coat again.

And yesterday when the temperature was a balmy 32 degrees as I left for work, I whined some more. Things couldn't get worse.

Mid morning my cell phone began to vibrate. I checked my voice mail at lunch.

"I'm going to Tahiti. You want to go to Tahiti? Call me. We need to go to Tahiti."

Now, normally if I received a message like this on April Fool's Day I'd bet the farm it was a joke, but since the caller was a good friend of mine who's going through some challenging times--and who has been known to fly off somewhere fun and diverting on a moment's notice, I figured it was legit.

I stared outside the window at the wind whipping hats off men's heads and turning umbrellas inside out and sighed.

"Friggin' Tahiti." I muttered. "Tahiti. Can you believe it?"

"Excuse me?" The gentlemen next to me gave me a quizzical look.

I gave him a weak smile.

"My friend. She's going to Tahiti. Tahiti. Warm sand. Divine beaches. Drinks with tiny umbrellas that aren't inside out stuck in them. That Tahiti."

He suddenly developed a freakish interest in his tuna fish sandwich.

As I chewed my rabbit food lunch I pondered what it would feel like to be that spontaneous. To just decide you're flying off to some exotic locale (heck, flying off anywhere) and just doing it. But that's just not me. 'Spontaneous' is about the last word anyone would use to describe me. I'm somewhat anal about schedules and routines and planning ahead. Don't get me wrong. I've often wished I was one of those 'spur of the moment' people who pick up and pile out the door without prior planning. But I'm not.

If I was, I'd be on the phone to my friend telling her to 'count me in'. No April foolin'.

But I'm me. Good ol' predictable, (translate as boring) structured, level-headed, Bullet Hole. Someday I'm gonna surprise you all. Someday when there are no classes to finish coursework for, no lawmakers and judges to protect, no kids at home to ride herd on, no deadlines to ignore, er, meet--someday I'm going to do it. I'm going to unfold a map, close my eyes, and point to a spot, pack, and go.


You don't believe me?

You think I'm deluding myself?

You just wait. One Thursday you'll click on the Killer Fiction blog to find a new (and less uptight) Bullet Hole blogging from some surprise destination. Just you wait.

Of course, with my luck I'll end up in some place like Podunk City, USA.

Oh well. At least I'll have broken my cycle of 'Stick in the Muditis' when it comes to spontaneity.

So, tell me. When was the last time you picked up and went someplace or did something on impulse? What did you do or where did you go? How'd it work out? Or, if you're like me, what do you wish you could do totally out of the blue?

Maybe I should start today and decide to do something today out of character and unexpected.
Something that deviates from my norm.

Hmmm. What could I do?

I've got it! Maybe I'll brush my teeth BEFORE I take my shower rather than afterwards.

Oh, brudder. I'm in worse shape than I thought.

Now where the heck IS that map????

~Bullet Hole~

What if Spartacus Had A Piper Cub?

What if Jane Austen had a submachine gun for an arm and an interest in total, global domination?

What if what we think is reality is actually just some blog written by a dendraphobic, nudist albino named "Steve?"

What if spider monkeys were really made up of hundreds of monkey-shaped spiders?

What are YOUR "what ifs?"

The best answer (meaning the one that makes me laugh so hard I weep tears of vodka) wins a galley copy of I SHOT YOU BABE. So hit me with your best shot. Fire away.

The Assassin