Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to Snort Coffee 101

You always hear that saying that truth is stranger than fiction, and being from Louisiana, I can definitely say that's true. At least, if I tried to write things I'd seen into one of my books, I'm fairly certain my editor would email me with a "no one is going to believe this" comment. Then, given that she knows me well, the next comment would probably be "but did it really happen?"

I spend a lot of time explaining to people one of two things: Your life story is not interesting enough to be a book, no matter how interesting it might be to you (which I try to do politely), or No one would believe your story even though it is funny/interesting/different/entertaining. So the other morning, I got a great reminder of the second explanation.

It was our local writer chapter's Saturday meeting, and I was hooking up with one of my best friends and critique partner, Cari, for breakfast before the meeting. We meet at a local diner that both of us frequent, and fairly early so we can have tons of coffee, shoot the breeze, and do some writing work if we need to. So we got onto the subject of history and decided that neither of us had enjoyed it in school, although we do like the specials on the History Channel. Then I made the comment that I think that's why I'm not into the whole family tree thing because I don't really care where I came from as it has nothing to do with what I need to do today and every day from now on. Not to mention that I don't exactly associate with much of my family now and that's by choice - why in the world would I want to go find more?

So we laughed about that and a guy who was sitting in the booth behind us rose to leave. He's older, maybe late 50's, a regular, and I'd spoken to him before about my books and writing in general. He stopped at our table and this is the story he told:

"I don't mean to interrupt you, but I have to share a story with you. Several years ago, my wife got into the whole family tree thing and did all that online researching. She got to the point where some of the records she needed weren't online, so she traveled around the country to courthouses getting paper copies. Well, she finally located a bunch of family in Arkansas and went up there one weekend to meet them. Then she came home and left me to marry her cousin."

Have you ever snorted coffee up your nose? Well, let me tell you, it doesn't taste near as good that way. But could I help it? Oh my god, that is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. And yes, while also tragic, I'm guessing since 'ole boy stood there giggling after that delivery that he's well over any trauma it might have caused.

Still, try and work that tale into a novel. Yeah, right. For starters, it sounds like one of those made-up scripts for the Jerry Springer show - I mean, really, can we put more stereotypes into a four-sentence story? I have to admit, though, I am still smiling while writing this and that was two weeks ago. Let's face it, some stories are just priceless, especially when they come from unexpected places and at unexpected times.

Deadly DeLeon


Okay, I pulled a name out of my hat. Oh crappers! Two names came out. Well, darn, I guess that means two people get prizes. RachealinNJ and Wendy, shoot me an email with your address at christie (at)

Congrats and thank you guys for playing. Oh, make sure you come back Tuesday for my contest and links to two other places I'm guest blogging and giving away prizes. CC


Today Toni McGee Causey is giving away a $25 gift certificate to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon (your choice) and a couple of south Louisiana goodies (some Community coffee gift bags) to one of the commenters who tell us what fun thing they're going to do this summer?

Have you ever met someone and instantly liked them? That's what happened when I met Toni McGee Causey. She's so easy to like and easy to talk to. (Hey . . . I think she's cajun, that probably explains it.) And lucky for you guys, I've been chatting with her this week and she just mentioned that she would love to do a contest over at KF. So to celebrate her releases... the first book in the series, CHARMED AND DANGEROUS now available in mass market--June 2nd! Followed by book 2, GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN at the end of June and book 3, WHEN A MAN LOVES HIS WEAPON in August.

This is some fabulous summer reading, so make sure you run out and snatch these great beach reads. I'll be in line myself. Below is the book blurb.


Bobbie Faye is looking forward to the Lake Charles Contraband Days Festival with balloons, booze and babies in pirate costumes. Instead, her trailer's flooded, her no-good brother's been kidnapped, and the criminals are demanding her mom's tiara as ransom. Soon Bobbie Faye is committing (unintentional) bank robbery and (fully intentional) carjacking to retrieve her family heirloom. Along comes the hard-muscled, impossibly sexy Trevor, the guy whose truck she just took hostage. Luckily, Bobbie Faye knows how to outsmart angry bears, drive a speedboat, and handle a gun. As for handling Trevor? No gun-shyness there. Now, if only that pesky state police detective, who also happens to be a pissed-off ex-boyfriend, would stay out of her way...

Toni's bio:
A former screenwriter and now indie film producer, Toni McGee Causey’s critically acclaimed Bobbie Faye series will be out, back-to-back, this summer. The owner of a civil construction business with her husband, she’s used to averting disasters and trouble-shooting problems—skills that came in very handy when writing her take-no-prisoners southern-fried Cajun heroine, Bobbie Faye. She lives in south Louisiana with her family, and she can be found blogging regularly on Murderati and Murder She Writes or Twitter via . Toni would love for you to visit her and Bobbie Faye at

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Please join me in welcoming the very talented and witty J.J. Hebert, author of the upcoming book, Unconventional. The book is tones of fun, and his so is his story of publication. So, take it away, J.J…

You know that guy, the one collecting the garbage? The one mopping the floors at your school? The one who makes the toilets sparkle? Yeah, well, that used to be me. I was that guy. But now “that guy” is James Frost, the main character from my soon-to-be-released novel, Unconventional. Lately, I’ve been referring to the book as Good Will Hunting meets The Pursuit of Happyness essentially because my novel features a janitor (with a gift outside of janitorial work), and he’s willing to do anything—and I mean anything—to fulfill his dream of becoming a published author. A janitor/writer—certainly an unconventional fellow, don’t you think? James Frost stands as proof that no matter your circumstances, now is always the time to reach for your dreams!

, available July 2009, has already been praised by your very own award-winning Gemma Halliday as “a wonderful story full of heart, humor, and what it means to truly be successful. An A+ novel for the keeper shelf." So you know it must be good! Or . . . I paid her off.

Now that that’s out of the way, I want to tell you a little bit about my journey . . .

I’m only twenty-five-years-old. Yeah, I know, I’m a “kid.” I began writing seriously back in—um, when was it?—somewhere around 2003, when I could also be found mopping floors and scrubbing toilets with an oversized toothbrush. My first novel, Defiance Rising, went on to win many awards, one of my favorites being The Sit-In-My-Drawer-And-Never-Get-Sold Award and also, my least favorite, The Write-Seven-Drafts-And-Scrap-It Award. You should see the trophies; my mantel can’t contain them! Okay, so you get it; Defiance went nowhere. Then I wrote Unconventional. And, thankfully, I’m no longer a janitor.

In 2007, my writing career could be summarized as follows: Write, write, write, query, query, query, rejection, rejection, rejection.

In 2008, my writing career could be summarized as follows: Query, query, query, query, query, an endless amount of querying, manuscript requested by agents, hooray!, the former agent of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti decides to become my agent! Celebrations galore!

But by the beginning of 2009, I parted ways with my agent (for reasons I won’t mention in my report here). Then, in mid-January, I decided to go with Mindstir Media, publisher of mind-stirring books, to release my infant I mean book to the world. I can’t wait until July. You’ll have to tell me how you like my book, all right? It’ll be available in trade paperback (at bookstores,, and and also as a free audiobook (downloadable via,, and iTunes) narrated by award-winning voice over artist Jeffrey Kafer (

Just to clarify, I’m not James Frost and James Frost is not me. Sure, he and I are a lot alike but—Oh. My. Goodness.—he went through much more than I. Mostly because I’m a sadistic individual and I enjoy watching my characters suffer. Well, not really. I just think conflict sells—and there’s lots of conflict in Unconventional. I hope my scheme works in the end . . . If not, I might have to go back to sweeping and mopping floors for a living. Please spread the word about Unconventional and keep me away from those mucky toilets!

To learn more about me, J. J. Hebert, and to download a three-chapter excerpt of UNCONVENTIONAL, please visit (while you’re there, why not sign up for my newsletter as well?). You can also find me on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Name that baby!

Today I'm doing one more round of network TV pitches before baby-in-the-belly gets too big for travel. So, I apologize for the fly-by posting while I steal a few minutes of down time at a Starbucks between networks. Literally. Between USA in Studio City and ABC Family in Burbank there must be about 102 Starbucks. I had a really hard time choosing the perfect one to plop myself down at.

So, beyond TV show pitches the thing foremost on my mind lately… baby boy names. Why is it I could easily pick out a dozen great girl names I was in love with, but when it comes to boy names, they all inspire a “meh” response from me? Plus, between my family and Mr. Big's there is a long list of names we can’t use because they’re already taken. Not to mention all my male characters. Sorry, there’s just something too weird about naming my son the same thing I named that drool worthy guy in book #6, ya’ know? And, to make matters worse, Mr. Big and I are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to names. He likes modern, cool sounding ones, I like classic, cuddly ones. Help! We need a name we can compromise on before we run through the entire alphabet doing this back and forth “auto veto” thing.

"Ha ha. Very funny. And by the way... veto.")

If it helps any, we’ve decide the middle name is going to be William, as it’s a family name on both sides. Any grand ideas for a first name to go with that? So far he’s either “Little Buddy” or “Dude!” depending on how hard he’s kicking me. I don’t think we want to stick with either.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Decisions, decisions...or electric VS gas

I need assistance. I had hoped to embark on a kitchen redo this year (mine having been constructed and decorated in June Cleaver's hay day.) Unfortunately, a leaking garage roof took precedence this summer so my kitchen project has been, shall we say, put on the back burner. I had hoped my ancient appliances could handle another year of my cooking (that didn't come out as I intended, did it?) but unfortunately I'd been noticing some black specks on my baked goods (more than the usual charcoaled edges) that raised a red flag. When one of the back coil burners became hot when the oven was on but the burner wasn't, I knew the old oven was 'toast'.

Although I couldn't justify the expense of new cabinetry right now with a double car garage roof needing to be replaced, I knew I couldn't put a nice, new stove in my June Cleaver kitchen without some--alterations. So, I quickly went to work pulling down a stubborn border, primed and painted the walls (they were originally a terrifying combo of mauve and blue sponged on white walls that looked way too much like spider and varicose veins for my peace of mind). Once the walls were painted I simply couldn't abide the horrible GREEN flooring so it had to go and I'm replacing it with a reasonably-priced laminate product that I'm going to try and lay myself--with my son's help. (Lucky kid.) I also purchased new hardware for the cabinets to spruce them up.
My current dilemma? Should I replace the electric stove with another electric stove--or should I go with a gas range? I can easily have a gas line run from my basement to the kitchen. If I do go with electric should I go with coil or smooth top? White or stainless steel? Should I buy a cheaper one for now as I might replace it with some built-ins when I do get to redo the kitchen?

As I said. Decisions, decisions. So. Any recommendations? I've heard the smooth-top is hard to keep clean--and I do have a tendency to be a bit of a distracted cook at times resulting in some major boil overs. Another salesperson told me some folks don't like the way a gas oven bakes. True or false? What about cost? Should I go with a stove just good enough to get us by for now just in case I do incorporate built-in appliances with the redo?

Any thoughts? Do share. I'm stove shopping this Saturday.

~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Christie's Top Three Deep, Dark Secrets


Okay…I’m back in Houston. And I’d like to formally invite all of you to Faye Hughes’ wake. Her final resting place will be in my compost pile. Gotta love friends like that, don’t cha?

And the winner of the GOTCHA book is . . .
vicariousrising. Please email me at christie(at) christie -

Okay, first, pay no attention to what the “Posted By” thingy says this morning on the Killer Fiction blog. Christie didn’t write today’s entry. I did. (With “I” being Faye Hughes, Christie’s non-fiction writing partner.) Christie’s not here –she’s in Alabama visiting her daddy and will be flying back today. She hasn’t even read the blog entry and won’t see the comments until much later tonight.

Cue all the Evil music.

I mean, silly Christie. Giving me access to her blog and asking me to “write something funny” in her absence. Why, I told her when we were in Orlando for RT and she started pointing and laughing at me when I accidentally ripped a seam in my brand-new PJ bottoms (Hint: Items marked down for a quick sale may have been marked down for a reason) that she would be sorry one day.

And today is most definitely that day.

Christie Craig’s Top Three Deepest, and Darkest, Secrets:

1. Christie has an unnatural affection for her bra.

I’m not joking. The woman is practically obsessed with it. During the RWA national conference in Dallas a couple of years ago, the fire alarm went off and woke everyone on our floor. Teri Thackston, our other roommate, and I were getting dressed and grabbing our most important items. (For me, that was my phone; for Teri, it was her pearls.) I pulled on some pants, grabbed some shoes and was ready to go. Ditto Teri.

Not so for Christie.

She couldn’t find her bra.

What’s more, she wasn’t leaving the room without it.

I told her to forget it, to grab her purse and let’s go. She looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you crazy?” she said, just confirming that my interpretation of the look she’d given me was dead-on. “I’m not going anywhere without my bra!”

Now, tell the truth: Isn’t that kinda strange?

2. Christie has an unnatural affection for hats.

Okay, this one is even weirder than the bra. Everybody knows that Christie wears her hats when she is at a writers’ conference but did you know she wears them even when she’s not? Trips to the supermarket, lunch with friends and you’ll find Christie wearing one of her hats. Better than that, she even wore them when she was a kid. Don’t believe me, take a look at the evidence.

Psst . . . I’ve written her mom and asked for baby shots to see how long this hat obsession has been going on. I’ll keep you posted on what I discover.

3. Christie’s books are more fact than fiction—all of that whacky, over the top stuff she writes about actually happens to her.

Okay, I know she’s shared a lot of her funny experiences with you guys here at the blog, like the time she got felt up by the elephant at the zoo or the real reason the Craig household has hardwood floors. What you may not realize is that she wasn’t exaggerating any of it.

Take what happened the first time I roomed with her at a writing conference. We were in New York City and around 7:00 in the morning, there was this loud pounding on our door. I got up just as this man dressed in a black business suit inserted the master key card into our door and came inside. He saw me and said . . . and I’m not making this chit up . . . “Security, ma’am. This is your 7:00 am wakeup call.”

I kinda nodded – what the heck else could I do? I was in my PJs and half-asleep – and then he turned and left the room.

Christie jumps up and grabs her bra. “What just happened?”

“Beats me.”

“Did he come into the room?”

“Yep,” I said, still half-asleep. “But I don’t remember asking for a wakeup call.”

And we hadn’t. What’s more, the front desk said that “Security” never delivered personal wake-up calls.

Weird, huh? I guess there is a reason they call her Crime Scene Christie.

So, there you have it. Christie’s top three deepest and darkest secrets. Now, I probably will be taking a little vacation after today but in the time I have left, I’d love to hear from you guys. If you were told to evacuate your hotel room, would you grab your bra? What do you think the real reason Christie wears all those hats? Have you ever had “Security” give you a morning wake-up call? And best of all, do you think Christie is going to kill me for sharing her secrets?

Oh, and one final thing. Christie is giving away a copy of GOTCHA!, her new release from Dorchester this week. I was lucky enough to read GOTCHA! as she was writing it and it is my favorite book of hers - so far, anyway. (Just wait till DD&Deceived comes out this winter! Oh, man! What a hoot!!) Be sure you come back next week. Christie is giving away some goodies to celebrate the release of GOTCHA!, not only here but at a lot of blogs and places. She'll have links and info in next week's post.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!!!!!!!! I hope you're all off from work and going to do something fun....or nothing at all! I have lawn work to attend to and would like to re-arrange things in my garage so I can more easily find them. And there's always catching a movie if I can fit it in. So many good movies start to release just as the school year is ending.

I have a mystery for you guys today, and I'm hoping someone can tell me what the heck is going on. Here's the situation: I live in a small town outside of a large town (but still with small-town mentality). The police force appears to be a bunch of boobs or buttheads, and they are always making news for being crappy. Sometimes I carpool with another girl from work and we meet in a parking lot. On Friday, she pulled into the parking lot with one of these lovely cops escorting her. Apparently, she had neglected to put on her seat belt and it was "Click it or ticket" weekend.

The cop asked her a couple of questions I don't understand in the least, and I'm hoping someone on here can clear it up for me. The first question was how old was her car? Now, the cop had her insurance information, so we can already assume the cop is not the brightest bulb in the shed as that information was in her hand to begin with, but what difference does it make how old her car is if she has an inspection sticker and proper tags. The second question is even better - she asked her how much she weighed???????? Of course, my friend lied. :)

The cop gave my friend a ticket, and my friend asked how much the ticket would cost. The cop said $20-$200. Okkkkaaaaayyyyyyyyyy, so does the ticket cost more if she's fat? Or if her car is old? Can anyone tell me why I should have to provide my weight for not wearing my seatbelt?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summertime Recipies

I got the coolest thing in the mail last night. A cookbook!

A few months ago I was contacted by someone at the King County Library system about contributing to a cookbook full of recipes from authors – “Literary Feast: The Famous Author’s Cookbook”. All the proceeds from the book would go to the local library. I thought it was a great idea, and was very flattered to be considered one of the “famous authors” invited. The only snag? I can’t cook.

So, after racking my brain for anything resembling an original recipe that I’ve ever made… and didn’t burn, over-salt, under-sugar, or otherwise render inedible… I finally came up with one thing I am good at making. Guacamole. Hey, you can’t be born and raised in California without knowing how to make that staple.

After making a couple test batches to get the amounts of the ingredients right (I never measure when I make at home), I wrote it all down, added a little bonus margarita recipe to go along with it, and off it went. And, yesterday, I got the finished product – a 200 page cookbook of TONS of great authors’ recipes. Not only is it super cool to see my own in there (who ever thought a non-cook like me would be in a cookbook?!), but now I can’t wait to try out the others as well.

And, since my recipe is so appropriate for summer, and this Memorial Day weekend is the unofficially start of summer, I thought I’d share here:

Good Time Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
¼ onion chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro leaves
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 limes
tortilla chips

Chop the avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop the insides of the avocado into a small bowl. Add the tomato, onion, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro, being careful to wash your hands after handling the peppers as jalapeño juice can sting your skin and eyes! Stir in garlic powder, salt and pepper. Slice the limes in half and squeeze juice over the guacamole. Serve with tortilla chips, or, for a low-fat alternative, flaky pita chips.

Muy Buenas Margaritas
Cracked ice
Grand Marnier
Lime Juice
Coarse salt

In a shaker (or blender if you prefer a frostier drink) add the cracked ice, 2 parts tequila, 1 part Grand Marnier, and 1 part lime juice. Shake thoroughly, letting the ice melt a bit. Take a clean glass and rub lime juice on the rim. Pour your salt onto a plate, and dip the glass upside down in the salt, making sure it covers the wet rim. Fill the glass with ice, then pour in your margarita. Garnish with a slice of lime and enjoy!

If you’d like to check out some of the other recipes, you can purchase the book here:

Anyone else have some great recipes they’d like to share for the long weekend?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

I'm offering another online workshop this month, this time on writing query letters and synopses...

You’ve written an amazing manuscript – now what? How do you get editors and agents to read it? With a kick booty query letter and synopsis! This two week, hands-on course will polish and shine your pitch into an invaluable tool for getting your foot in the door. We’ll be honing your individual queries and synopses, so bring them to the class! Don’t have them written yet? You’ll write them during the course of the two weeks and have a polished finished product by the end. Don’t have the book written yet? Not a problem. Many published authors often sell based on their synopsis alone, so learning to write one before the book is done is not only good practice, it’s a necessary skill!

Say goodbye to form rejections!

Everyone enrolled will get *individual critiques* of their query and synopsis as well as lessons on what to include, what to leave out, how to let your voice shine through, and how to follow up without being a pest.

June 1st - June 12th Cost $20
For more information or to register for class, please go to:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bargain Shopping Out of Control? You decide.

I came home the other day with eight boxes of shoes. That's right. EIGHT. The looks on my kids' faces when I had to make two trips back to the Jimmy to get them all in rivaled the look on the clerk's face when I checked out with a shopping cart full of boxes of shoes. You can imagine her puzzlement when she discovered I'd purchased three pairs of the same black shoe, two pair of another ipair identical to the first except white in color, and three different pairs of hiking or winter footware.
You'd have thought I was buying a cartful of condoms.
Then she noted the price.

"These shoes are all TEN DOLLARS?" she asked and I nodded.

"Regularly forty-nine-ninety-five," I replied. "I got eight pairs for less than the price of two pair. And they're all steel-toed," I added with an 'I'm good' smile. (Steel-toed footwear is important to me because I am on my feet or walking a lot at work and with a history of foot problems, I need a good, sturdy work shoe or boot.)

"Wow," the clerk responded. "I'll have to get back there on break and check it out."

I nodded, knowing if she wore size 8 1/2 she'd was so outta luck. I'd cleared the shelves of every eight and a half (okay, and a couple of nines) they had marked down.

At the time I thought I had made a pretty smart investment. It was only when I noted the kids' reaction as I stacked my shoeboxes on the dining room table that I began to wonder if I hadn't gone a little overboard on the shoe splurge. I usually go through a pair of shoes every year or so. At this rate, I have enough shoes to last for four years!
Which might be a tad extreme.

Which got me to remembering the time I'd found clearance quilted jackets for five bucks and I'd purchased one in every color. Or the time I purchased two formal dresses for RWA's RITA and Golden Heart banquet because they were both such 'good deals'--and ended up not wearing either dress. And the time the local supermarket had cakes on special for $3.88 and I bought five. (Okay, so the cakes were consumed, but still did we really need that much CAKE?!)

I could go on and on. I have this tendency for overkill when it comes to what I perceive as a good bargain.

So tell me. And be honest. I can take it.

Is purchasing eight pairs of shoes at one time an indication of some deeper issue--Or am I just being a really frugal individual who can't pass up a 'good deal'?

What do you think? And how about you? Are you a 'stocker upper'? Have you gone a little 'OCD' at times when you've spotted a bargain? What type of 'deal' is likely to get you to succumb to the 'take two, they're small' or 'better by the dozen' outlook on purchasing power? Any screamin' deals you'd care to crow about that will put my five buck a foot bargain story to shame? Have at it.

And me?

I'll be trying to find some room in my closet to stick eight boxes of shoes. Knowing me, I'll probably forget they're there when it comes time to switch shoes.

Good thing I have my kids around to remind me (and frequently) about the time I came home with eight pairs of shoes.

I'm a lucky, lucky woman.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Things I Have Considered Dinner," For 600 Alex...

Here are some of the Complete Dinners I've had in the last month:

  • Four bowls of Lucky Charms with a Hershey bar chaser (I cleaned three closets in 15 minutes immediately following);

  • 7 Mini Snickers candy bars and an orange (I believe the fruit cancels out the candy...right?);

  • 2 Bananas and a Ho-Ho with grape juice (yeah, it doesn't taste great together);

  • McDonald's french fries (What? It's a vegetable!);

  • An entire sleeve of Thin Mints (you can't eat just one...);

  • An entire tube of Pringles (see above...I think I might have a problem);

  • Despair (the lowest calorie one on the list);

  • Spaghetti with garlic bread and a salad (I didn't want you to think I was a total loser);

  • Lucky Charms with a banana and Pringles (See? I mix it up sometimes!).
I KNOW I'm not the only one who does this! Right? Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!

The Assassin

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Am I Psychic or Just Plumb Crazy?

WINNER WINNER!!! BECKY LEJEUNE you have won the free copy of GOTCHA! and the promo items. Please email me at christie (@) christie -

P.S. Make sure you guys pop over to novel thoughts, see link below, for another chance to win a copy of Gotcha!!!



Just a little note: Tomorrow I’m going to be guest blogging at Novel Thoughts and giving away another signed copy of Gotcha! as well some other next items. So make sure you pop over and have a good laugh about some of my brushes with the law. Yup, I’ve had a few.

It’s almost time . . . (May 26th to be exact) time for GOTCHA! to be released. And to celebrate this event I’m giving away a prize. Yup, all you have to do is post a comment to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of GOTCHA!, as well as a personalized Christie Craig pen and flip notebook. So don’t forget to post a comment. Now for the blog:

* * *

I recently got this question from a reader: Do you ever think that the ability to create characters out of thin air is a little mystical? That it could somehow be tied to a sixth sense?

Hmm. Basically what they were asking was, did I think of myself as gifted in the psychic sense? It was an intriguing question and one that got me thinking and . . . reminiscing.

While I’m not sure my storytelling talent stems from any sixth sense, more than likely it stems from me just being plumb crazy. Hey, I create characters, throw a bunch of problems at them and then have fun watching them get themselves out of trouble.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that I do see myself as a bit . . . intuitive. And frankly, I could go one step further and tell you that this intuitiveness may even be inherited. Yup, to this day, I remember her.

She was old--always old in my childhood memories. I don’t know exactly how old she was, but I’m betting she was in her seventies or early eighties. That doesn’t seem so old now, but when you’re six, seventy seems ancient.

Like myself, she was small in statue, probably not even five feet tall. Then again, maybe she just looked short. As far back as I can remember, she walked hunched over, sort of how a child envisions a wicked witch would look. Complete with the coarse gray hair, pointed chin, and crooked fingers. This witchy-looking character was my great-grandma and she lived with my grandmother, Nana.

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I never saw Granny—that’s what we all called her—as wicked. But the witch part, well, I was young and had an overactive imagination. Ahh, but looking back, I still have to wonder. I wonder a lot. Because as wild as my imagination was, there was a lot of it based on facts.

I remember hiding right behind the dining room door, listening and occasionally getting brave enough to peek inside to watch her performing her . . . “magic.” She read people’s fortune. She would mix some weird ashes with tea, she’d have the person having their fortune read, sip from the cup, then she’d have the person turn the cup over on the saucer and twirl it around. While it twirled, my great-granny would repeat some strange words I didn’t recognize. Then she would turn that cup back over, look inside at the patterns made by the tea and ashes and she read the person’s fortune. Sometimes, I’d even see the people leave her money before they left.

She wasn’t a gypsy. There was no sign hanging in my Nana’s yard, advertizing Granny’s fortune telling or palm reading, but somehow the people knew and they came. When she wasn’t reading people’s fortunes, she sat in her chair in the living room, watching daytime soaps and spitting in her spittoon. Yup, she dipped snuff. You’d sometimes see a little brown juice at the side of her bottom lip.

When ever she was spitting, I stayed away, I didn’t like the sound of that black juice hitting the bottom of that tin spittoon. Sppss . . . ding. Sppss . . .ding.

But she wasn’t always spitting, and while I might have been half afraid of her, I was more in awe of her. I remember occasionally watching her aged, crooked fingers make doll beds that she sold to bring in extra money. (I guess fortune telling wasn’t that lucrative of a business.) She’d take cigar boxes and those old-fashioned clothes pens and with lace, material, and pillow stuffing, she’d make the cutest doll beds, complete the little dolls all snug under their tiny blankets, their heads resting on tiny homemade pillows that she’d sewn by hand and with her pedal sewing machine.

Yup, Granny was unique and to say the least, she was mysterious. I was told, and my daddy still stands by it, that when she was younger, she was often called to the hospital to talk the “burn” out of burn victims. A healer, they’d called her.

You know how some smells are associated with people you’ve known? Well, to this day the smell of cedar and peppermint instantly brings back her memory. Because sometimes she’d take me into her bedroom, lift open her old cedar chest, pull out her huge two-foot long stick of peppermint that people would give her for Christmas, then she’d pull out an old hammer, the kind that looked homemade out of cast iron, and she’d whack off a piece of that candy for me.

The funny thing was, I seldom could eat that candy. You see, Granny was a widow. She was a widow times five. Yup, she’d buried five husbands in her life. While I was told to never ask about them, and it makes perfect sense that she probably loved them all, and it hurt her to talk about their short lives, my overactive imagination couldn’t help but to make me wonder what else Granny had whacked with that hammer of hers. Of course, if Granny had been a witch, she wouldn’t have had to use a hammer, but just put a spell on them.

Nevertheless, every now and then when I find myself “knowing” something will happen, like knowing that the phone is about to ring, and then I’m proved right, I always think about Granny. I wonder if perhaps, I don’t have a few mysterious gifts. Not that I think my crazy, quirky stories are a result of any of those gifts. Nope, I think they are just a sign of my whacky sense of humor and a little disturbed mind.

What about you? Do you ever think you have a little bit of intuitiveness? Do you have some odd family relative that made your own childhood imagination go a little wild?

Don’t forget to post a comment for a chance to win a copy of Gotcha! and some neat other prizes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dreaded Audio

Some of you might recall that I am a technical writer for a software company. I write training manuals. Well, lately we've been on a big push to convert our instructor-led training to e-learning, so it's been a zoo. Four new softwares to learn, a whole different perspective on learning/etc. And then last week, the most dreaded moment of all - recording audio.

I am one of those people who absolutely HATES hearing my recorded voice. I am also one of those people who will swear and be damn that I do NOT really sound like that. So what if my company spent a million dollars building a recording studio, and the microphone alone cost more than I make in a month.....that's still not how I sound, I swear!

So I head to one of the sound booths on recording day, ready to just get it over with. That wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. First off, my allergies are simply horrid right now and they give me asthma. So I was in the sound booth with coffee and chapstick. Also, I found that standing straight gives me more air in more lungs, but standing for a long time leaves me just as short of breath. Some of the audio sounded like an x-rated phone call.

Then there was the group of people who thought the RECORDING STUDIO was a great place to have a staff meeting - a loud staff meeting. Yeah, the fact that none of them had card access and that the room was labeled RECORDING STUDIO shouldn't have filled them in on the fact that hey, maybe, just maybe, someone was RECORDING! Idiots. I had to go get the audio guru to change all my settings to screen them out.

But then hammer guy started. Yeah, they're doing build-out on the floor above me. What are the odds, right? And of course, dude started hammering every single time I was in the middle of a long paragraph. And not just hammering - hammering each nail at least five times - right above my head. C'mon, people. This is a corporate building. It's made of steel and sheetrock and cheap cabinetry. No one should take five hits to get a nail into sheetrock or cheap cabinets. Heck, my cat can pull a nail out of sheetrock with her paw and she doesn't even have claws. So I'd tried recording the same slide five times and almost got done when hammering dude started again. I lost it and yelled "get a nail gun, you weakling."

The people having the meeting were amused. Hammer dude probably wasn't, but I don't care.

So what about you like your voice on tape?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Tori Lennox you are the winner of Angie's book, THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DEMON SLAYERS.

Shoot me your snail mail addres at my website email, christie (at)

Lucky you!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Went Where?

Angie is back!!! Please help me welcome New York Times Best Selling author, Angie Fox. And guys, remember to jump over and take Angie's "Are You Part Demon Slayer" quiz and post your score in the comment section for a chance to win a free book. Here's the link: and here's Angie.
You went where?
And did what?
With who?

Okay, so that was my mom’s reaction to the writing of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. And I have to give her a break. She is a mom. Besides, research for The Dangerous Book was, well, slightly unusual.

It’s not my fault. Honest. I mean what would you do if you had to research Las Vegas from the point of view of a bunch of biker witches? Oh and a preschool teacher turned demon slayer.

See, when I was writing the end of my first book, The Accidental Demon Slayer, this joke about Las Vegas popped into my head and I thought, “why not?” Lizzie is just about to kiss her man when she’s interrupted and told she and the gang have to head to Las Vegas to save her long lost uncle from marrying a succubus. Kind of fun. At least it made me smile. I was an unpublished writer at the time.

But then the book sold. Better still, The Accidental Demon Slayer hit the New York Times bestseller list. All of the sudden, I had this big responsibility to get it right. Good thing I like odd adventures. And my friends do too.

One in particular – my friend Aileen – is a sucker for anything strange and unusual. So I talked her into a long weekend and we headed to Vegas to see and experience the biker witch version of Sin City. We stayed in the cheesiest hotels we could find. We ate at Bob’s Big Boy. We even visited a dude ranch with armadillos, a boar and several very old chickens.

We were able to talk our way into some behind-the-scenes places as well. The climax of The Accidental Demon Slayer takes place inside the Hoover Dam, and we were lucky enough to be invited to see first-hand what I’d be writing about. A guide took us far down into the inspection tunnels they used in the 1930’s and 40’s, when the cement was still curing. It was amazing to see the notes these inspectors made on the walls, to hear the stories of those that didn’t quite make it out and to walk the same old metal steps that they did. All of that made it into The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, along with lots of things I had a blast making up (this is fiction after all).

To continue the fun, I’ve developed a highly un-scientific Are You Part Demon Slayer? quiz. Post your score below and enter to win a copy of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Junk Food TV

I have a confession to make – I’m a reality show addict. I blame the Writer’s Guild strike. Last year during the hiatus of all my favorite scripted shows, I succumbed to the allure of junk-food TV, casually watching an episode of a reality show here and there… until I realized you can’t casually watch reality shows. You tune in one week, and the next week you can’t not know what’s happening. Did Melissa Rivers finally get fired? Was Adam’s song good enough to get voted through? Who will Brett Michaels sleep with this week? I have to know!

This week was the finale of one of my favorite reality shows (yes, it’s so bad that I’m addicted to several at this point), The Biggest Loser. I tell myself this is a show about helping people, so it’s okay to watch this one. Even though I know 90% is schmaltsy violin music and milking every last ounce of emotion out of the poor overweight contestants. But, I digress… the finale! In case you missed it, (which, I know some of you did because American Idol was on at the same time), the sixty-four year old Jerry, the oldest contestant ever, won the at home prize, losing an amazing 177 pounds, and the 48 year old Helen won the overall title of Biggest Loser, coming out looking like a svelte 22 year old. And I seriously covet that hot pink dress she was wearing. Not that I could get into the itty bitty thing at the moment anyway…

But, as I was watching the uber long, 3 hour finale (complete with commercial breaks every five seconds), I started to thinking back to seasons past and wondered what has happened to some of the past reality show contestants. Have their lives really changed for the better after the cameras stopped rolling? So, after a little googling, here’s what I found out…

Survivor: Richard Hatch

Richard Hatch was the first Survivor winner, back on the season when they really didn’t feed anyone and they really did just drop these people in the jungle and see what happens. It was a reality show phenomenon at the time, and millions tuned it to watch Richard Hatch collect his million dollar prize in the end.

Today, Richard Hatch is in prison. Yep, that’s right. Prison. It turns out he didn’t pay any taxes on his million dollar winnings and ended up with a 51 month jail sentence and almost 500k owed to the IRS in back taxes. So much for the prize money changing his life for the better, huh?

Richard claims that during the filming of Survivor, he caught producers smuggling food to some of the contestants. When he called them out about the cheating, the producers promised to pay his taxes on the winnings for him should he win. So, he claims he assumed the taxes were taken care of by CBS. So far, the court ain’t buying it. He’s currently scheduled to be released in Oct. 2009.

The Biggest Loser: Erik Chopin

Erik Chopin was a deli owner from Long Island who went on to win the third season of The Biggest Loser, losing an amazing 124 pounds. After the show, he even underwent radical body lift surgery to removed an additional 10 pounds of extra skin from losing the weight so quickly. Unfortunately, once the show was over and Erik was out of the public eye, he says he fell into a depression and started gaining weight back, ballooning up to over 300 pounds once again.



Way After

The Bachelorette: Trista Sutter

Trista Sutter was the first runner up on The Bachelor TV show in 2001 (meaning, the loser), and got a second chance at love when she became The Bachelorette in 2002. She chose Ryan as her prince charming at the end of the show, and the couple were married in 2003 in a huge blowout TV wedding show. Amazingly, in real life the couple are the same happy couple the play on TV. Trista and Ryan had a son in 2007 and just this year welcomed a baby girl into their family. So, I guess sometimes there is some reality in reality TV after all.

Anyone else have any reality TV favorites? Updates to share? Dish on upcoming reality shows I should add to my calendar?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow....

You know how you get those courtesy reminders in the mail or via email. The ones that remind you that your car is due for an oil change, you are due for a dental checkup, you virus protection is about to expire, and you only have two more weeks to protest your tax assessment. I hate to admit that, sometimes, I set these little reminders off to the side and then proceed to space them off entirely until my father asks me when I last changed the oil in the Jimmy, a tooth begins to ache, or my computer repeatedly reminds me that I only have one more day left on my virus protection subscription. At this point I am generally moved to action.

The other day I was going through old papers and discovered my yearly ‘Well Woman’ appointment reminder. It was dated August, 2007. Yikes!

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the importance of these yearly treks to the doctor. You know. The ones that involve cold, steel speculums, stirrups, and vice-like mechanisms that, if used on men, would qualify as enhanced torture devices. It’s not that I consciously put off scheduling the annual fun-filled afternoon of disrobing, wincing, and wishing I had Miss California’s bod and she had a feather so we’d both be tickled. I just kept putting if off to a more..convenient…time.

Yeah. Right. Like a pelvic exam or mammogram could ever be deemed convenient.

Once I discovered the tardiness of this unpleasant, but crucial, annual task, I grabbed my calendar and picked up the phone to make an appointment.

Just my luck. The only day I could get in was smack dab in the middle of a mini vacation I’d planned for over Memorial Day.

But the fact that I’m over two years tardy with my ‘well woman’ appointment has prompted me to make a list of tasks that need to be done on a periodic basis and which I may or may not have neglected to attend to in a timely manner.

Here’s the list so far:

  • Replace batteries on smoke detectors.
  • Change out furnace filter.
  • Go through closets and get rid of unnecessary items.
  • Wash and wax the Jimmy.
  • Clean the gutters.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the outdoors bench.
  • Wash the windows.
  • Tighten clothesline wires.
  • Hose out garbage cans.
  • Apply weed killer to my yard.
  • Etc., etc.
What kinds of tasks do you find it easiest to ‘put off until tomorrow’? What is the longest period of time you’ve gone between regular check ups? Any task peculiarly onerous that you just keep letting slide?
It’s time to air our dirty laundry and get ready for spring clean up!
~Bullet Hole wishing in vain one of her ‘to-dos’ involved chocolate~

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can You Canoe?

I haven't picked a winner from last week yet. I will do that by next week. It's just too hard. I promise to make up my mind by next week.

Let me tell you about last Saturday. As some of you know, I am certified to facilitate canoeing, archery, low ropes course and zip line at my local Girl Scout camp. In fact, the low ropes course and zip line out there were the setting for a scene in STAND BY YOUR HITMAN.

Anyway - as part of the certification process, I volunteer to spend a weekend or two in the Spring and again in the Fall, helping other troops go through these things. This Saturday, I ran canoeing. For ten hours. By myself. I estimate that I put 87 girls in the water between 8a.m and 6p.m. And here is what I learned:

1) Ten and eleven-year old girls know how to swear and their vocabulary is very impressive.

2) A tiny, dead and dried out leech on the dock is still incredibly terrifying to tweens.

3) When you tell girls that there is one area they should not go near because it is too windy and they will get trapped (forcing me to rescue them, of course) - 35% of these girls will make that location their first destination.

4) You really can get sick of hearing children calling your name over, and over, and over, and over...

5) There is no way a canoe can go straight when you have a 150lb. girl in the back and a 55lb. girl in the front. And there is no kind way to tell them they should choose a partner who is their own size.

6) If you stand up in a canoe to dig yourself out of being beached - even if you warn the girls not to follow your example - 100% of them will stand up anyway because you did.

7) It doesn't matter what kind of fish you see in a lake in Iowa, to kids, they will always be pirhanna. Always.

8) I can, by myself in a canoe made for 3 people, tow six girls in 2 canoes across a lake in a strong wind. (I do not recommend this. My arms still feel like they were stepped on by inconsiderate rhinos wearing cleats.)

9) There will always be that one canoe of girls who will get all the way across the lake, put their paddles down and refuse to row back because they are tired.

10) Conversely, there is always that one canoe full of girls who won't stop canoeing, no matter how many threats you hurl at them. Okay, so maybe that's where they got the idea there were pirhanna in the lake.

11) The incredible joy you feel when you realize you can toss huge canoes around like origami boats will invariably be destroyed by the searing pain you feel in all extremeties for the next week. Seriously, it hurts to lift a piece of paper.

12) Kneeling in an aluminum canoe in the middle of a lake on a sunny day creates the weirdest sunburns. I think I have a red silhouette of the S.S. Enterprise on the back of my right thigh.

So what have I learned? Nothing really. Because if they asked me, I would probably do it all again. I'm kind of not smart that way.

The Assassin

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are Your Dreams Booby-trapped?

I was twelve, short, and a heck of a lot curvier than most girls in seventh grade. It was never more apparent, or more embarrassing than when all the girls in my class dressed in the mandatory gym outfit for PE.

I wasn’t particularly good at any sport. Hey, my nick name was “Little Peewee.” But my height or lack of athletic abilities didn’t bother me—not that much. I didn’t want to run faster, or get the most points in the basketball game. But there was one thing I did want.

I wanted to become a member of gymnastic team. I’d seen the Olympics on television a year or so before. Like me, a lot of those girls were “peewees” and I’d started dreaming and practicing.

And when I got to Jr. High and saw the gymnastic team do their routines during the pep rallies, I felt a calling. For the first time in my life, I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would do cartwheels and flips and someday I’d appear on TV.

I knew that the mandatory requirements to get into the gymnastics’ team were to do the splits, a cartwheel, a backbend, and a backwards flip that we called a backwards walkover. For weeks, I practiced endlessly. For weeks, I watched the gym team perform. And little by little I watched my dream slip away. I had a huge disadvantage. Two of them, actually.

Boobs. Yup, unlike the girls performing at those pep rallies, I had boobs. Big boobs. I hated them! You see, I’d started developing early and kids had made fun of me. And when I realized the girls jumping up and down on the gym team didn’t have boobs bouncing to and fro like mine, I pretty much accepted that I wouldn’t make the team.

Oh, I still tried out, but my name wasn’t called at the end of the class. The failure stung like the dickens. The death of a dream hurts, even when you’re twelve. I ran home that day, locked my door to my bedroom and had myself one good, long pity cry. As sad as it is, because of that failure, I never tried out for anything ever again in school.

No one said I didn’t make the team because of my boobs, but deep down I believed it. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t so much because having size C-cup ta-tas made me less aerodynamic, (which I seriously thought back then) it was because I wouldn’t run as fast as I needed to, or bounce as high as the other girls for fear people might be looking at my boobs.

Ahh, but this blog isn’t about boobs, bouncing or otherwise. It’s about dreams, it’s about the hurdles we face and have to overcome to make those dreams come true. It just so happens that my hurdles at the young age of twelve were my boobs.

I can tell you that the only other dream I wanted so badly as becoming a gymnast was the one that came years later: to become a writer. Thankfully, my boobs were not in anyway going to hold me back. But I still had hurdles. I had the same hurdles, freaking big hurdles (bigger than C-cups) that every writer faces.

The hurdle of learning craft, applying craft, getting an agent and editor to believe in you. And the biggest hurdle all writers face . . . dealing with rejection. How do you continue to believe in yourself when those rejections start knocking on your door? One by one, they arrive, each threatening to tear down the little self-confidence you managed to build.

Then on top of those hurdles I had another. While I had a wild imagination, I was diagnosed as learning disabled in the third grade. For me, just getting words on paper wasn’t as easy as most.

Maybe because I was older, maybe because I wanted it more, maybe because my determination had finally managed to catch up with my boobs, but I faced my hurdles a little differently. I learned to take chances, to put myself out there, to stop worrying what other might think and to just follow my heart.

On May 26th, my fourth novel with Dorchester, Gotcha!, will hit the stands. And I just finished my fifth novel, Divorced, Desperate and Deceived, which is due out in November 09.

Recently, a non-writing friend who knew how hard I’d worked to make these dreams come true asked me, “How did you know you would make it?”

I looked at her and answered honestly, “I didn’t know.”

It was true. I didn’t know I would make it. Oh, hell yes, there was a lot of blind faith driving me. Still, down deep, I knew there were never any guarantees. But what I did know with certainty was that I wasn’t quitting. I wasn’t going to half-ass this dream the way I’d half-assed my attempt at the tryouts for the gymnastic team. No embarrassment of boobs, no fear of failure, no lack of trying, was going to hold me back.

Recently, Toni McGee Causey, ( ). a wonderful writer of the humorous Bobbie Faye series from St. Martins wrote a blog about giving up on your dreams, and I quote her, “You quit when you want something else more. You quit when you have another dream that means more to you.”

During all the rejections, all the years of near misses, I never found another dream I wanted as badly as I wanted to be a writer. You can bet that I still locked myself in my bedroom and had a few pity cries. But when I’d cried myself out, I pulled my big girl panties up and went back at it.

Amazingly, I never stopped loving writing? I wonder if this isn’t part of the key to being successful at accomplishing our dreams: finding something you are so passionate about that you just won’t stop.

What is your dream? What is it that you want to accomplish? Do you love doing it? Are you working at it? Or are you half-assing it?

Is your lack of enthusiasm due to fear of failure, or a lack of self-confidence? Or is it that you are dreaming of something different? I hope all of you are working toward your dreams and I hope none of you will let something as insignificant as a little booby-trap stop you from going after what you want.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring Stuff

I'm happy to report that MISCHIEF IN MUDBUG is off to production - yeah! For those of you that read TROUBLE IN MUDBUG, Sabine's story will be available in October this year. And Helena is back, just as obnoxious, and has figured out how to change clothes.

The past couple of weeks, I've been on "spring" stuff at my house. You know, shifting wardrobes because not just one fits in your closet. Wardrobe shifting is a real pain in Dallas because the weather is so flaky. It would be 90 degrees one day, then down in the 30's the next. Hard to find an outfit that works with both of those besides jeans and a polo shirt - which is pretty much what I shifted too. Then either tennis shoes or sandals depending on the temp.

Then there's the lawn work. Let me just say - ugh. I live in a new subdivision that is surrounded by corn fields. So it doesn't matter how hard you try, all sorts of weed pollen is always blowing in your yard. In fact, I had to start mowing this year because the weeds were getting to high, not the grass. The back yard is the worst as it butts right up to one of those corn fields and the owner doesn't bother to weedeat his land up against the fence. So there's six foot high weeds, just on the other side of those board, all creeping across my bermuda. The bermuda is losing the battle. I can see I'm going to have to either make the whole lawn a patio or plant a thick row of hedges to try and stop the attack.

And then there's this low point on one side. As I've been installing a retaining wall around my deck, I've been putting the dirt in that low point to try and build it up, but it's been raining like mad here lately, so I have sorta a small pond in one corner of the yard. And I don't mean kinda raining. I mean 4 inches in one day then still raining another six days. This has been going on for weeks. I'm pretty sure when I looked outside last week that two of every animal was forming a line around the block. And me without an arc in sight.

I got a new tree put in the front to replace the one that didn't make it through the tornado, and I've gotten my flowers in up front. And I have to say that everything is looking quite pretty - assuming I can keep it living. I don't exactly have a green thumb. It's not black or anything, but definitely not green. I usually stick to things I can handle, like periwinkles.

So what about you? Any spring housekeeping to do? Are you planting or is it too early where you are? Do you live in a high-rise and think anyone with a lawn is wasting a good Sunday? (it's occurred to me before)

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Simple Plan

I'd love to introduce you to one fabulous and funny lady. I met Phyllis Williams at the PASIC conference in March. Just sharing a table with her over dinner convinced me I liked this person. She'd funny, witty, and a great writer to boot.

Take it away Phillis.

There’s nothing I love more than a string of good writing days. Unfortunately, as the pages stack up so do the pounds.

To combat the weight gain that comes along with endless hours of sitting in an office chair, I came up with a simple plan:

1. Choke down an apple a day.

2. Drink one glass of water per six-pack of Diet Coke.

3. Walk 30 minutes a day (laps around Target count).

4. Go to bed hungry.

Strict adherence to these rules has rewarded me with a not-so-fat ass I can squeeze into non-elasticized jeans. Not great, but I figured it was good enough for a woman in her mid-forties.

Until now.

First, our fortysomething First Lady shrugged off her prim cardigan to reveal sculpted arms reminiscent an Olympic gold medalist.

Then a favorite actress from my childhood took it to a new level by posing on the cover of People magazine in a skimpy bikini at 48-years-old.

Geez, what’s with these women and their buff bods? Didn’t they get the middle-aged lady memo? Our forties are a time to relax and feel good in our own cellulite-covered skin, not look better than women two decades younger.

I told myself it didn’t matter. Just because Michelle Obama and Valerie Bertinelli are turning heads doesn’t mean I have too.


But just like high school I succumbed to pressure of my peers.

So nowadays, instead of spending my precious non-writing time stretched out on the sofa watching King of the Hill reruns, I’m hitting the gym (you know, that place where you show up once a year to pay your dues, then disappear). I’ve gone from running to the refrigerator to running on the treadmill and lifting dumbbells instead of Pringles cans.

I’m still waiting to experience the rush of feel good endorphins that are supposed to accompany exercise. Meanwhile, I’m actually looking forward to my fifties, where hopefully women my age will be content to just let themselves go.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Ultrasound

Yesterday I had my first ultrasound of the baby. Oh my God, so fun! The tech was super nice, gave me a nice table to lay on, rubbed the gook on my belly, and – voila – a baby appeared on the screen! Modern technology is the coolest. While he checked all the vital organ stuff, I cooed and awed over every fuzzy little image. Ultrasounds have come a long way since I lat did this! I could actually see what I was looking at this time around. I swear, at one point, Little Bump actually waved at me. The boy was totally enthralled and kept coming over to rub my belly and say “hi” back. The tech recorded everything on a dvd for us, so you know what I’ll be watching over and over and over…

Finally all the vitals checked out (sigh of relief), the due date was confirmed (marking it on my calendar in red now), and the tech reassured us that there was indeed only one baby cooking in there (HUGE sigh of relief). Then came the all-important question: did we want to know the sex of the baby?

Oh, buddy, do we ever. Luckily Little Bump decided to be cooperative and gave us a very clear view. And the results...’s a boy! (No, that's not a pic of his little thingie, it's his head. I thought this end was better for public display. :) )

Okay, I know I was telling everyone to think pink, but as soon as he said “baby boy”, I was thrilled. And now that we have a color, let the baby shopping commence!

~Trigger (and blue) Happy Halliday

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Happy Dancin’ in the Heartland: School’s Out!

I’m 'CELEBRATING LARGE’ as Crime Christie has been known to say. Yesterday I finished my final final—that is, the last exam in the final class I need to finish my Criminal Justice degree. I can at long last experience a sense of immense satisfaction at accomplishing a long-term goal—and, maybe more noteworthy, savor the sweet taste of FREEDOM! It’s been quite the challenge. But I’m done!

So now what?

Well, first, of course, is the obligatory happy dance. I’m no Shawn Johnson ala Dancing With the Stars (okay, so Cloris Leachman puts me to shame tripping the light fantastic) but this good ol’ cowgirl still knows how to kick up her heels when the occasion calls for it. And believe me, this is one occasion worth risking a hip dislocation for.

I suspect I’ll have a little spring in my step for some time to come.

So what else am I looking forward to doing now that I’ve finished classes?


Time to write. Time to read. Time to walk. Time to garden. Time to relax. Time to watch a movie or catch up on my favorite programs via reruns. Time to chill.

Oh. I forgot. I’ve got a couple of projects to do this summer. Like a new garage roof and siding project. Major backyard landscaping. A bathroom renovation. Lower level decluttering and rehab. And a heckuva garage sale to organize during the Sprint Car Nationals.

Suddenly the thrill of victory is turning into the agony of ‘de feet’ as I contemplate the list of ‘to-dos’ I’ve let languish in pursuit of an enhanced resume and credentials.

Still, I’m determined to enjoy the fruits of my labors and take advantage of some long overdue unstructured time. Today I’m taking the girls shoe shopping, yours truly book shopping, and then I’m off to the greenhouse to treat myself to some flowers, plants, and shrubs.

It’s ‘toot your horn day’ at Killer Fiction. What goals have you set for yourself and what did you do to celebrate reaching your goal? What accolades (such as a 4 ½ Stars Top Pick RT Review, ay, Christie?) have you received or what kudos came your way that you can boast about? Any new goals you care to share?

My goal for today? Simply enjoy a ‘girls day out’ with my daughters. Now that’s what I call ‘celebrating large’!

Have a great day!

~Bullet Hole~

Not For The Timid...What We REALLY Want For Mother's Day.

Ah, the rotten smelling Corpse Plant...rarely given on Mother's Day

Okay, so it's been an insanely rough couple of weeks. And now I find out I'll be teaching canoeing to girl scouts for TEN HOURS on Saturday. And what comes after Saturday? Well, duh, Sunday. Not just any Sunday, but Mother's Day.

Ah, the big MD. A day where I have to get up early, dress up and run like a madwoman to please all the mothers in my life, go broke getting presents, drag tired and cranky kids to places of torture called "museums" and "brunches" and return home exhausted to a hovel that seems to have been sacked by filthy Visigoths.

So I've decided that we are going to play a little game called "My Fantasy Mother's Day!" For this game, you and I will come up with what we REALLY want to do on that special day. No saying the "right" or PC thing. I want to know what how you, my evil minions, truly want to celebrate that day.

And the winner gets a signed copy of I SHOT YOU BABE (as soon as I get my author's copies, that is).

What does it take to win, you may ask? Two things in your answer: 1) Creativity and 2) Guts.

I'll even start you off. Ahem.

My PERFECT Mother's Day is all about me. First, I would sleep in. And I don't mean until 9 or 10. I'm talking P.M. Breakfast would consist of Lucky Charms, little chocolate donuts and mimosas (the orange juice evens the whole thing out - of course). Super Nanny and a legion of obsessive/compulsive maids would arrive around 2 or 3. They would insist on cleaning the house (even getting those weird, unexplained stains off the walls), the kids and pets.

At this point, since Mr. A is now government property, sigh, Stephen Colbert and Alec Baldwin would step in to take me to see a double-feature of "Wolverine - Origins" and "Star Trek." They would have bought out the entire theatre for my viewing pleasure and it would be all the Milk Duds I could eat.

After the movies, Stevie and Al would drop me off at my newly cleaned house, where my children would have boquets of lilacs strewn throughout the house. Their gifts to me would be the invention of clear cat food (have I mentioned my seething hatred of cat vomit?), and sessions of liposuction until they get it right. I would fall into my freshly cleaned sheets with a good book, and just before falling asleep would recieve a text from my boss telling me to take Monday off with full pay.

What? It is SO totally doable!

Your turn,

The Assassin

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Kodak Moments

Recently, my publisher had me sifting through old photographs to find a picture of me when I was young. And if you want to try to win a bunch of books, go to Dorchester editor Leah Hultenschmidt’s blog and see if you can match the baby pictures with present pictures of some of Dorchester’s authors. Can you figure out which one is me? Oh, please, I pretty much made it easy for you guys. Hint. Hint.

Anyway, this request required some searching through boxes of old photos, boxes of memories. Yes, boxes. I know . . . I bad! I haven’t gotten around to organizing my photos yet. I swear I’m going to do it . . . one of these days. When I don’t have a book due, or an idea to try to flesh out, or a blog to write, or emails to answer. Yeah, I’ll probably never do it.

Anyway, sifting through some of those photos was like taking a trip down memory lane. Some images took me back to places so vivid in my mind that I could remember the exact moment someone said “smile.” But some of those images were . . . well, vague.

Have you ever looked at old pictures of yourself and wondered who the hell you were back then? I mean, I know it’s me—but something about the image is a mystery. Like why the hell would I have worn my hair like that? Did I really think it looked good?

I stumbled across one school photo of me when I was a teen. I had this secret smile on my face. I know what that smile means. But I can’t figure out what that smile meant when the picture was taken. Was the photographer really good looking, or was I thinking about whatever boy had captured my heart at the time.

I found some pictures of me when I was three or four years old. And PLEEESE, why would my mama have dressed me in that? Did she go out of her way to dress me funny?

I found some of me as a child standing in a crowd of . . . strangers. Who the heck were those people? Family I don’t remember? Friends of my parents who were there one summer and gone the next? Of course, my imagination goes wild and I wonder if perhaps these people are my real parents and I was kidnapped as a child. (Hey, it could have happened.)

I found a few pictures of me when I was in an unhealthy marriage. I saw the lingering sadness in my eyes. Where was my smile? And if there was one on my face, could it have looked anymore fake? I almost wanted to throw those pictures out, but I knew they were a part of my story. I am who I am because what I have lived.

Yup, looking at old photographs of myself was a real trip. Some of them stirred up great memories, some brought on questions, and several brought on a few lessons.

· Live in the present.
· Dress like someone might take your picture.
· Create more moments that you’d like to see images of in the future.
· Don’t dress your kids funny.
· When I thought I was fat in my twenties, I wasn’t. I really looked pretty darn good.
· Think before you get your hair permed.
· Don’t let your mama take a picture of you when she’s highlighting your hair and pulling it through that rubber hat.
· There’s a reason you’re supposed to eat with your mouth closed.
· Don’t ever let anyone take a picture of you from behind. There’s really is a reason we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads.

Okay . . . anyone have a Kodak moment to share? A lesson sparked by an image? Hey . . . what plans do you have for Mother’s Day? Oh . . . below is my review from RT. GOTCHA! also got a great review by Booklist. I’m smiling now. Can someone take my picture?

4 ½ Stars
Top Pick!

Filled with plenty of action, delightfully quirky characters, a mean villain and a rocky road to romance, Craig’s novel is an entertaining tale that holds the interest from the first sentence to the final word. The hero’s family dynamics and the brother’s travails add to a great story.


Macy Tucker vows not to get mixed up with a man again. The death of her beloved grandfather, the desertion of her father and the betrayal of her ex-husband have put her off men entirely.

But when Macy’s younger brother Billy lands in prison for a dumb mistake and escapes because of threats against his sister and new girlfriend, Macy winds up involved with Jake Baldwin, the detective Billy’s girlfriend call for help. As the danger escalates, Jake becomes convinced that Billy just may be a good guy who needs his help—as much as Macy needs his protection.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Reality Check

I have to admit, I love reality shows. Not all of them, of course. Heck, if I watched them all I wouldn't have time to produce a pair of clean underwear, much less work a full-time job, write books, and keep a Sheltie entertained. But there are several that I really like.

It's all American Idol's fault, as that's where it started. Now, I didn't watch the first season. It just didn't call my attention until I saw clips of Simon letting the contestants have it. Then I thought "THIS could be interesting." And interesting it is. Sometimes people at work talk about AI and some can't stand Simon. They think he is "mean." I just look at them and say "If those kids can't take what Simon is telling them, then they have NO business pursuing any artistic career." Do people really think that all agents, editors, song producers, movie producers, art gallery owners, etc. are kind (mostly do to the drugs) like Paula Abdul? Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of very nice people in those industries, I'm sure. But there are also a lot of very busy people who don't want to waste your time and don't want you to waste theirs. Nothing wrong with that. The last thing I think professionals ought to do is encourage someone who is nowhere near ready for public consumption. Does that mean people will quit - some will, and probably they needed to. But others will just work harder to get better, and that's what it would have taken anyway.

I love Hell's Kitchen and So You Think You Can Dance, too. And I find those choices very interesting as they all represent something I can't really do. I mean, I can sing in my car with the best of them, but I only do it while I'm alone. I often say I play an instrument because I do NOT sing. I can't carry a tune and know it. As for cooking....yeah. Let me just say that given a detailed recipe, I can prepare food very well. But as for creating in the kitchen, uh, no. Creating a mess, maybe.

And the quote Jeff Foxworthy "I ustacould." Not sure what happened. Weight gain, age, joints that I wore out on motocross. All I know is that I got one of those exercise videos that's Latin Dance to try out. Those women have great abs and legs and they're not rail thin, so I thought THAT'S what I want to look like. I immediately found out why Latin dance looks so different than other dance - it moves your upper and lower body in the exact opposite directions of what would otherwise be normal. I have NO idea what I was doing to that video, but I'm certain of two things: it wasn't dancing, and I scared the dog. If anyone had a video of that scene, they could extort money from me until the Alzheimer's kicked in.

So what about you? Any favorites in the reality show realm? Everyone has to have a few, right?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Winner! Winner! Winner!

Thanks to everyone who visited with Nancy. The winner of the copy of Nancy's book, LAST VAMPIRE STANDING is: Rachael from NJ!! me.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

Please allow me to introduce a fellow writer and friend. Nancy Haddock is one of those writers who is easy to like and very enjoyable to read. And make sure you post a comment, for she is giving away a copy of Last Vampire Standing. Take it away Nancy!

I live in St. Augustine, Florida, billed as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States, a town of European charm. The billing is true, yet that description doesn’t do justice to the deeper spirit of the historic downtown. It sure doesn’t describe the laid back energy of “the island” – specifically Anastasia Island, the beach community “extension” of St. Augustine.

I first clapped eyes on St. Augustine in 1989 when I accepted an invitation to an intimate writing conference. I’d only been in Florida once before that time, and had heard little of St. Augustine, but I’m a sucker for palm trees, and a new adventure beckoned.

The trip, quite simply, changed my life. As soon as I saw the downtown district, I felt like I’d been there in another time, another incarnation. I felt like I’d come home. Then I saw the beaches, and I tumbled all the way into love with the place. Oceanside, California had been my dream location to live (okay, apart from Tahiti), but I instantly knew that someday I had to live in St. Augustine.

Thirteen years and many repeat visits later, we relocated at last. It was torture to leave my “home” RWA chapter, all my dear friends, and my family living in Oklahoma and Texas, yet I knew in my soul it was the right decision. We downsized, so I spent almost a year overseeing repairs, furnishing, and decorating our new home. When I returned to writing in earnest, I knew something was off. After venting to hubby one day, he helped me figure out the problem.

My WIPs held the energy of the Dallas area. Of my experiences and perceptions, yes, my ruts. I was unconsciously hanging on to that energy in my writing, but I wasn’t that woman any longer. Hubby suggested that I embrace the energy of St. Augustine, of the town, of the beach, of my new life. Talk about a whap upside the head!

Less than an hour later, I’d brainstormed a mystery series idea – still unsold, but it feels solidly right. Then, wham, I realized the screenplay idea I’d played with would take place right down the beach. Next I misheard a peanut butter commercial that led to writing my light vampire series, a mix of mystery and romance, of historical and contemporary aspects set in – you guessed it – St. Augustine.

Better still, the ideas kept rolling in, and still are. Moving to a new location had shifted my energy, had opened me to ideas and characters I hadn’t imagined writing, had helped me truly free my voice. I flew high on my new attitude!

I’ll tell anyone who’ll stand still that relocating contributed to making my first sale, but there are a zillion ways to gain new perspectives without moving halfway across the country. And, of course, the first task is to recognize ruts.

Your rut might be clutter, as mine too often is. It might be rushing from work to home without thinking about anything but making dinner, or whatever you have to do next. A rut might be anything, but ruts almost always involve some aspect of looking without seeing. Acting without being. Being awake but not aware.

Whether you identify a specific rut or not, we can all use new perspectives, and here are a few exercises I recommend.

1. Take a vacation to either a favorite place that feeds your creative soul, or adventure to a new destination! Absorb the change of scenery, the people, the personality of the place.

2. Can’t afford a full-blown vacation? Take a mini-vacation – go somewhere within a few hours’ driving distance and experience what the location has to offer. What new things do you see, and how does that change your perspective?

3. Don’t have the time or wherewithal to travel at all? Drive to a part of town you’ve never seen. Take a different route to and from work – or the drug store or grocery or the children’s school. Allow yourself to notice neighborhoods, architecture, gardens. What kinds of people do you imagine live in the area?

4. If nothing else, change your perspective of your own home, yard, neighborhood. Take a walk and pay attention to the trees and flowers in bloom. Sit in a different chair at the dining table. Lay on the floor of any room to see it from a different perspective. Walk around your yard and see it from a new point of view. Be present in the moment and ask yourself this question: If I were to write about the people who live here, what would I know of them? What are their consistencies and inconsistencies? Does the place evoke a mood? Do their belongings whisper stories?

Sometimes a new attitude is about letting go of the blahs, or refusing to live in fear. Other times, it’s simply about perspective.

Make sure you post a comment. Nancy is giving away a copy of Last Vampire Standing. So post away!!!

* * *
Nancy Haddock’s debut book, La Vida Vampire, launched a new series from Berkley, and made her a national bestselling author. Her second book, Last Vampire Standing is slated for release on May 5, 2009 and is garnering high marks from reviewers.

In writing paranormal romantic mystery, Nancy drew on her long experience with things-that-go-bump, and on the historic wealth of St. Augustine, Florida. She writes full-time, and is a dedicated resident-tourist who never gets tired of exploring the sights of her new hometown.
Visit Nancy at and participate in her Where’s Cesca contests on the Beach Party page.