Friday, July 31, 2009

Romance Reader Statistics

This week I’ve been pulling together my promotion efforts for my upcoming fall book, Scandal Sheet. And since this is the first book in a brand new series, I really wanted to make sure I’m doing the promo up right. To that end, I’ve been doing some research about where best to spend my promo dollars. Specifically, research about romance readers. Who are they, where are they, how do I find them? (Or, more accurately, how do I make sure they find my book?) I came across some really interesting statistics on the RWA (Romance Writer’s of America) website, that I thought I’d share here. RWA commissioned an independent analysis company to create, implement, and analyze a survey of romance readers in 2008, these are the results they came up with:

74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008.

That’s roughly 1/4 of the entire population of the United States!

The core of the romance fiction market is 29 million regular readers.

That's a lot. A whole lot. Like the entire population of both the states of Texas and Louisiana combined.

The mean age of romance readers is 44.6, the median 44.9.

Impulse purchases outnumber planned romance novel purchases.

I thought this was very interesting from a promotional standpoint. Apparently more people will buy my book because it looks pretty on the shelf as they pass by than they will because I sent them a postcard letting them know the book is out and available for purchase. I’ve always heard how romance readers will often take a list of book to the store with them, but I guess they are actually in the minority. Wadda ya’ know?

Most critical purchase influences:
As a reader, I have to agree with this. I have my list of auto-buy authors.

Description of the book

Again, makes good sense. I always read back covers.

Word from friends/acquaintances

I’m actually surprised this one is further down the list than the description of the book. Another myth I’ve heard is that romance readers rely heavily on word of mouth. But, apparently, they’re browsing shelves, impulsively looking at back cover blurbs.

The most popular resource romance readers use to learn about new/upcoming romance titles is a romance novel. Readers learn about new romance titles most often by reading the advertisements for other books contained in the books they are currently reading.

Veeeery interesting. This is something I really hadn’t given much thought to. Generally, authors try to get their book reviewed in magazines, newspapers, websites thinking that puts the word out to readers. Or take out adds. Or do blog tours. But, it turns out, they’re mostly just reading the books. Huh. I’m suddenly twice as happy that Dorchester routinely puts info about their upcoming books in the back of their releases.

Type of Retailer Used Most to Acquire New (Not Used) Romance Novels

· Mass merchandiser: 50.1 percent
· Book superstore: 48.8 percent
· Freestanding, independent bookstore: 31.1 percent
· Online book merchant: 26.4 percent
· Grocery store: 24.3 percent
· Warehouse clubs: 21.7 percent
· Mall bookstore: 21.3 percent
· Drug store: 16.1 percent
· Book club: 12.4 percent
· Mail order: 10.5 percent
· Other online: 9.6 percent
· Airport bookstore: 9.4 percent
· Convenience store: 8.1 percent
· Department store: 7.7 percent
· Other: 13.9 percent

Now this I found particularly helpful from a promo standpoint, as I always like to send out something to bookstore owners. But… which bookstore owners? There are SO many it can be overwhelming. This was a really helpful tool in narrowing down which types of stores might be most helpful. Most surprising to me was how many readers got their books from independent bookstores.

29 percent of romance readers usually carry a romance novel with them.

Now I know what’s in all those big purses I see women carrying!

Romance readers typically begin and finish a romance novel within 7 days.

No wonder they are such prolific readers! Just from my own very unscientific polling of friends and family that are NOT romance readers, most other genre fans take much longer than this to finish a book.

Mass-market paperbacks are currently the most preferred romance novel format.

Well, if they’re carrying them around with them, I can totally see why. Though, I have a feeling that in the coming years, ebooks may start gaining in popularity for just this portable reason.

88 percent are open to trying new authors.

This statistic made my little heart happy. J As authors, we’re always thrilled to pick up new readers. And, it’s heartening to know that the majority of readers are thrilled to pick pup new authors as well.

So, what do you guys think? Agree with the statistics? Anything here surprise you? Any great promo tips you’d like to share?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rental Recommendations

I'm still scraping, caulking, priming, and painting here, guys. The weather has cooperated big time. We've only hit 90 degrees once during the entire month of July and today's high is expected to be in the mid-70s. In other words, perfect exterior painting weather. So far I'm liking the color although I gotta say 'herbal wash' isn't exactly something one can overlook as hair highlights but it's definitely better than the country brown.

Anyway, I've been doing double duty for like ever and haven't rented a DVD in ages. If it's been released in the last six months on DVD, I probably haven't seen it. So I decided that once I finish up my painting tasks for the day today, I'm going to order a pizza and rent a movie. Trouble is, I want a sure-fire entertaining one. I like romantic comedies and thrillers but have a low tolerance for 'dumb' movies (I hated Dumb and Dumber). So do me a favor and give me some suggestions on movies you've seen and liked so I can pick a winner when I make my selection.

Thanks folks!

Now back to painting...


~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shaving the Dog, Or Stupid Stuff I Thought I Could Do

"Have you ever shaved a dog?" I found myself asking a co-worker last week. As she scuttled away in the opposite direction, mumbling excuses for having to get back to work, it occured to me that 1) I don't work with any dog groomers and 2) I really should think before talking most days.

You guys have seen my new dog, Muppet. A small, four lb. mix with long, fine hair. Hair that drags in brambles, twigs, leaves, and the occaisional stray hobo from the yard. I'd had a dog like that when I was a kid. I remember we got her shaved every summer. I also remember that she cowered in humiliation under my bed for days afterward, but the idea was there and it was taking root.

Problem is, I've done nearly everything you can do to a dog (don't ask) except shave one.

"How hard can it be?" I asked a friend. She laughed hysterically and backed away, muttering something about how she had to lance a boil or something.

I went to Walgreens and asked the clerk about electric clippers.

"For your hair or personal grooming?"

"Personal grooming?" I asked too quickly.

"You know, like for nostril and ear hair." The man said as if I asked where the milk was.

"Oh. For hair. I need to shave my dog."

He blinked at me for about two minutes. Eventually, he managed to get past his immediate concern for my dog and sold me a nice set of clippers.

I asked my friends online. Nikki said she shaved her collie once. "Just be sure you use a guard so you don't shave her bald," she said.

"I can do that?"

"Oh yeah. You don't want a bald dog," she assures me. "They get sunburned."

Armed with all this sage advice, I took my new clippers home and put the dog on the table. Jack, my nine-year old offered to help me. This lasted all of four minutes because Jack decided that it hurt HIM every time I trimmed some hair.

After realizing that it would be easier to shave the dog once I used scissors to shorten her hair, I managed to make some progress. She looked like she'd been groomed by a near-sighted heroin addict.

I brought on the clippers. I did a little better with those. And by that I mean that I didn't kill her. Although it might be possible for her to die of embarrasment. I did make her a promise that I wouldn't show her photo here and that I would never, ever try this again.

In the end, it turned out okay. Her hair is technically shorter. She doesn't drag in foliage, brush or the homeless anymore. She just looks like she lives with a demented person who doesn't know how to shave a dog.

I can live with that.

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are You a Hugger?

Are you a hugger? Do you embrace embracing? I’ll admit it, I’m a full-fledged hugger. Not that I don’t occasionally find myself in awkward hugging situations. And yes, I suppose I, like most people, have my own set of hugging rules. For example, I don’t hug strangers. Well, unless we’ve somehow made an emotional connection, and then a handshake just doesn’t feel right, and a hug is just . . . well, perfect.

I don’t have a timer that beeps aloud when the appropriate amount of hugging time passes, but I do seem to have one internally. And when a person is a hanger-on’er hugger,(meaning the hug hangs on too long) I suddenly start feeling the need to pull away.

I have come in contact with over-eager huggers, people who seem to just want to hug everyone and most of the time they are also the hanger-on’ers and the too-tight-squeezers and the gotcha huggers. Gotcha huggers are the people who didn’t give you a pre-hug warning and then bam--there you are, with your body pressed tightly against someone, and if you’re really unfortunate, you’re wondering who they are, and why their hands are moving toward your ass.

Yup, especially in my younger days, I’ve come across quite a few opportunist huggers. Most opportunist huggers are of the male variety, and right after their arms wrap around you, you sense they are simply using the hug as a guise to cop a feel.

Unfortunately, when you open yourself up to the wonderful pleasure of hugging, you are prime bait for dirty ol’ men, or dirty young men. But I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s still worth the risk. Nevertheless, I’ve often found myself wishing I could call the hugging police.

Needless to say, I’ve never come across the huggers’ handbook, dictating the hugging etiquette, or the number to the hugging police.

Frankly, after enduring the smothering hugs of one of my great aunts as a child, it’s amazing I didn’t grow up to be an anti-hugger.

This aunt had boobs, huge boobs, and when she pulled me to her, I would somehow always get caught between Lucy and Ethel, and let me tell you, breathing while buried between Lucy and Ethel was not easy. Death seemed imminent. Now some men will tell you that’s the way to go. I’m not a man and I totally disagreed. To make the situation worse, the aunt was a hanger-on’er hugger and a squeezer. So whenever I’d see her coming, I’d always take a deep breath as if I was about to swim across the pool underwater, because once you found yourself between Lucy and Ethel, there was no telling when you’d come up for air.

Ahh, but even those oxygen-deprived hugs didn’t deter me from becoming a hugger. There is just something so comforting to wrap your arms around someone and squeeze. You are giving, you are taking, you are sharing.

Now I will have to tell you that like my aunt, I’ve been cursed with my own Lucy and Ethel pair. However, because I’m so short, few people are going without oxygen due to a hug from yours truly.

Nevertheless, the girls often do get in the way of hugging. Which can and has at times made hugging an awkward experience.

For people who know me, they mostly ignore my dynamic duo pair, but for those people who know me well enough that a handshake no longer fits the bill, but the relationship is new to the hugging stage, they tend to worry about bumping into the girls.

In addition to the boob issue, I’m short and that too can create awkward hugging if someone doesn’t want to lean down. I mean, my tiptoes only go up so high. Oh, and I often find myself with another hugging handicap. My hat.

You see, I wear hats at almost every writing conference, where I meet a lot of friends and therefore do a lot of hugging, and it almost never fails that when hugging I’ll get my hat knocked off. Ahh, but believe me, a good hug is always worth the scoop down to pick up the hat. And I always hope the lean down to hug my neck for my tall friends is worth the effort.

Now, while I totally believe in hugs, I know a lot of people who are simply hugging impaired or anti-huggers. I try not to judge these people. I even try not to push my hugs on them, because well, my hubby is one of them.

Hubby will never turn down a hug from me or the kids, but let anyone else open up their arms and come at him and he goes on all-panic mode. He becomes stiff, chest pulled in, butt out, and he stops breathing—and he’s not even worried about get stuck between Lucy and Ethel. It’s just down right terror of the impending hug.

I’ve only seen him turn down a few hugs, but watching him receive one from someone is downright comical because he comes off as about as warm as a concrete post in the Antarctic during a cold spell. And unfortunate for hubby, I’m not the only one who finds his awkward hugging skills funny.

We, hubby, daughter and I, were going out of town for a getaway weekend with my husband’s boss and his wife. When we arrived at the hotel, the lobby was packed with what appeared to be bikers--long haired, bearded, tattooed individuals. And oddly enough, they were all running around hugging each other. Not just one or two of them, but dozens of hugging bikers. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, but I’ll admit it looked rather odd. My hubby and his boss, whom I assume was also an anti-hugger, were more than perplexed. They even asked the hotel clerk what was up with the huggers. We were informed that a conference, “Hugs Not Drugs” was happening at the hotel.

Anyway, we get our hotel keys, get in the elevator and our daughter, only six at the time, leans up against the jeaned leg of what she thought was her daddy and . . . hugs it. Only problem was she was hugging the wrong jeans-covered leg. The biker dude just smiled down at our daughter. She looked up, and the man said, “Hi, I’m Steve.”

Embarrassed, she pulled away and then looked at her daddy and said, “He’s Steve, too.”

Hubby, being polite, held out his hand to introduce himself. The man, with a beard down to his chest and a snake tattoo on his forearms, looked at my husband’s outstretched hand, bypassed it, and gave him a big, an all encompassing bear hug. And you should know the guy was a hanger-on’er hugger and a squeezer, too. So there my hubby was, frozen with panic, butt held out, chest caved in, while being embraced tightly in an elevator in front of his boss. Hubby’s boss started coughing to cover his heehaws of laughter and even I had to bite back my giggles.

Poor hubby, not just because we laughed at him, but because he just doesn’t know what he’s missing. Below are some facts I found on the internet about hugging.

Hug for a healthy heart~ Hugging increases Oxytocin (a heart healthy hormone) and decreases the stress hormone Cortisol (the hormone that leads to high blood pressure and heart disease).

Hugs lead to a lowered heart rate~ Hugs also provide a calming effect. Those hugged are shown to have heartbeats five to ten beats slower per minute than those who are not hugging.

Hugs are good for blood pressure~ Hugging reduces blood pressure (good news for those with hypertension).

Full body hugs stimulate the nervous system~ Full body hugs have been shown to increase nervous system stimulation. This has been used as a physical therapy technique by some professionals.

Hugs release beneficial natural chemicals~ Who needs an artificial high when a hug has been shown to release dopamine—a natural “feel good” brain chemical.

In addition to the physiological benefits of hugs, hugs are purported to lessen loneliness, combat fear, increase self-esteem (Someone wants to hug me!), affirm relationships, diffuse tension, and convey appreciation.

So there are my thoughts, and my story on hugging. Are you a hugger? Do you have hugging rules? Have you hugged anyone lately? If not, do yourself a favor and go find someone to hug. It feels so good. And if you don’t have anyone around, consider yourself cyber hugged by me. Oh, and don’t worry about the girls.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dressing for Success

I read this article on Yahoo talking about things you shouldn't wear to work. I have to admit a sigh of relief that apparently the writer was at least born this century. If I see one more article telling me to toss the slack, put on a skirt, and panty-hose and enclosed-toe shoes, I might scream.

There are some basic realities of business and some companies have gotten it right - mine is one of them. Those of us that are not client-facing get to dress casual. That means all the way down to jeans, polo shirt, sandals/tennis shoes. And I couldn't be happier. For one, your clothes cost goes WAY done. And there's no dry-cleaning to speak of unless you've gotten some tops that need it. And since I sit in a chair all day with headphones on creating e-learning course and generally not speaking to people unless I want to, I think my being comfortable is a huge advantage to my efficiency and output level. Yeah, team!

Every year when RWA conference comes around (that's ROMANCE WRITER'S OF AMERICA), people start whipping out advice about "dressing professional" in case an editor might "see" them in an elevator and ask them what they write, etc. Now, with 2000-2500 writers in one place, this is possible, but let's be honest. If you have an idea for the next Harry Potter - and can actually write - I don't care if an editor catches you wearing your bathrobe. She's still going to be interested. So I am definitely not one of those that advocates the business wardrobe of my mother's era (and mind you, I'm not exactly young) for those speaking to editors. Especially when you consider that many of the people who attend conference don't work at all so they would have to go purchase those items - for what, one wear? Pointless. Be clean, neat, and not a psycho and everything will be fine.

Every so many years the conference is in Dallas, and for whatever reason it seems to correspond with the Mary Kay convention. For whatever reason we sometimes find ourselves in the same hotel. Yikes. Now, one would think that the MK women would take advantage of that many potential clients in one place, but they mostly look upon us with disdain, since they're still required to dress like a scene from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. You got it - hose, enclosed-toe shoes, skirts (PAST the knee), etc. And to make it even more sickening, they have a different color every day and they're all required to walk around looking like a bunch of twinkies.

So one day an author (who shall remain nameless - but a well-published category lady) was speaking at a workshop and had the misfortune to bring a pantsuit that was the same color the MK women were wearing that day. So she's walking down the hallway in the hotel, and one of the MK old men (they bring their husband's with them to "police" the way others dress) runs up to her and says "You're not wearing a skirt, hose, or enclosed toe shoes and I'm reporting you to your district manager."

She leaned over and said "I'm not wearing underwear, either."

Classic! I wish I could have seen it firsthand. He must have had a coronary, especially since he'd been spending his entire life in the 1940's.

Wonder what he'd think of thongs?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Author Greg Logsted

Don’t you just love lazy Sundays? If every day of the week could be Sunday, I’d be a happy gal. Not very productive… but happy. Anyway, happy Sunday to all, and please join me in welcoming our special Sunday guest, Greg Logsted! He’s the author of the fabulous teen book for BOYS (a rare breed of book that we boy mamas need more of), called ALIBI JUNIOR HIGH. He’s also co-authored the Sisters 8 series for kids, which is just adorable. If you haven’t checked these books out, I highly recommend them, especially if you have kids. (Or are a big kid yourself!) So, take it away, Greg…

First of all thank you, Gemma, for letting me be a part of this blog.

I thought that today, since it’s summer and really nice outside, not to mention I just got back from the pool, I’d talk about the summer vacation novel. You know, the book you take with you on vacation. Picking out a vacation read sounds simple enough, right? But it’s not. This book requires a great deal of thought. It’s not something you just grab on the way out the door like an old umbrella. No, this is something you have to agonize about. Books can set a tone and, hey, this is your vacation, you want to make sure you have just the right tone.

Here are a few things to take into consideration. First of all, and this is a simple point but very important point indeed, it HAS to be a paperback (blatant product placement warning: unless of course you want to read my latest novel, ALIBI JUNIOR HIGH; that would be just about the only time it’s acceptable, even preferable, to read a hardcover during your summer vacation).

The paperback is perfect for vacations because vacations are supposed to be carefree. So go ahead, beat it up, turn down the corners, crack the spine, let the sun fade the cover, write down phone numbers and email addresses and doodle across the pages. By the end of your vacation it should look as relaxed as you feel.

Next you have to pick the right book, another task that requires the utmost care and consideration. It should be something fun. A vacation isn’t the time to read about someone’s breakup, a death in the family, missing children or war crimes. You want something light but deep enough to hold your attention. Ideally the novel should be something you can relate to; you want to be able to step into the shoes of your lead character.

Last year I read Replay by Ken Grimwood, an excellent time travel adventure. It’s sitting on my desk now and it LOOKS LIKE SUMMER, all beat up and weathered like my favorite pair of old jeans. The year before I read Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen; it was a fun and quirky little adventure. I still remember, years ago, reading the hilarious A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole at a bamboo beach bar in Puerto Rico (try saying that five times fast).

August is almost upon us and once again it will soon be time for me to pick out my own summer vacation read. What will it be? As of right now I really don’t have a clue but I’ve started the agonizing process so here’s my opportunity to ask you all a question:


Let me know. Like I said I’m on the lookout for a good vacation book.

Greg Logsted

Saturday, July 25, 2009

‘These Are A Few of My Favorite Things’

Please help me welcome Donna Marie Rogers to Killer Fiction. She's new friend I've come across on the world wide web. Take it away Donna!!!

To celebrate the release of Meant To Be, second book in my Jamison series, I decided to make a list of some of my favorite things, since everybody has favorite things. My heroine, Jessica, loves a perfectly cooked burger. And Garrett loves his family. He also loves being a cop, even thought he’s not sure he deserves to keep his badge, but more on that later. I’ve also included one of my favorite recipes for using up the oodles of zucchini I end up with every year.

Favorite Ice Cream – Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food...Chocolate ice cream, gooey marshmallow, swirls of caramel, yummy little chocolate fishies....ahhhh, it doesn’t get much better than that! I also recommend Chocolate Macadamia, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chubby Hubby & S’mores.

Favorite Fruit – Strawberries ‘n’ Cream...Okay, the cream isn’t technically ‘fruit’, but I can’t eat strawberries without it.

**Mix well one 8 ounce cream cheese with one 7 -7 ½ ounce jar Marshmallow fluff and chill.

Favorite Vegetable – Zucchini...I love it baked with a savory mix of bread crumbs, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese. But nothing beats chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini bread. Here’s the recipe – enjoy!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Mix together: 3 cups flour1 ½ teaspoons baking powder½ cup sugar1 teaspoon baking soda2/3 cup brown sugar1 teaspoon salt1/3 to ½ unsweetened cocoa powder Then add: 3 beaten eggs2 cups shredded zucchini¾ cup vegetable oil2 teaspoons vanilla1 cup chocolate chips

Mix well, divide between two greased bread pans, and bake at 325 for about an hour.

Favorite Soups – Croation & Cream of Potato...Nothing makes my family happier than a bowl of homemade Cream of Potato Soup. The key is the leeks. ;-) But our all-time favorite soup is Croation, which my husband’s aunt used to make for special occasions when he was a kid. His mother got the recipe years later, and I’ve even been known to make it (though it never tastes as good as his mom’s...LOL). Chicken wings & gizzards, dumplings, and a rich tomato broth full of green peppers & onions. I know, I know, gizzards? But honest to God, it’s one yummy soup! The only problem is, now I have to fight my daughters for the gizzards.

Favorite Meal – Swedish Meatballs, and not the Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup kind! I like them over white rice, I like them over noodles, but nothing is yummier than Swedish Meatballs over mashed potatoes, baby!

Favorite Take-Out Food – I love Chinese food! Sesame Chicken, Beef Chop Suey, Shrimp & Lobster Sauce, Fried Dumplings, Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls...sigh...Great, now I’m hungry!

Favorite Beverage – Iced Tea! I swear, I drink it by the gallon. It’s weird, I seriously can’t get enough of it....LOL And now my older daughter likes it to, so I have to share. *pout*

Favorite Dessert – Chocolate Dreams...Which is exactly what they are, literally, since Piggly Wiggly’s bakery no longer carries them...:::sniff:::... Moist Chocolate cake, a huge dollop of real whipped cream, covered in a thick blanket of chocolate ganache. I miss you, my little darlings!

Favorite TV Series (past) – Little House on the Prairie...No one tugged at the heartstrings like Michael Landon in Little House on the Prairie. *sigh* And those episodes were written with such emotion...something I try to incorporate in my own stories. I’ve seen each episode numerous times, yet if I’m flipping through the channels and I come across one, I can’t help but stop and watch.

Favorite TV Series (present) – Bones & House

The only thing I’d ever seen Hugh Laurie in before House was the Stuart Little movies, so I wasn’t sure if this series would interest me. Boy, was I wrong! Hugh Laurie is not only funnier than I ever imagined he could be, but each episode manages to grab & hold my interest until the very end. I sure hope House has several more seasons in its future! I hate saying goodbye!

Bones is another favorite of mine. Yes, I love me some David Boreanaz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer was second to Little House On the Prairie), but the whole cast is awesome. And the chemistry between Booth and Bones is undeniably hot!

Favorite Soap Operas – All My Children & One Life To Live.

Favorite Sitcom – Two & A Half Men...LOL Funny! I swear, some episodes I have to sit with my legs crossed I laugh so hard!

Favorite Season – Fall! Perfect weather, gorgeous foliage, pumpkin pie, and Halloween!

Favorite Holiday – *See Favorite Season*

Favorite Way To Relax – Reading a great book in a steaming hot bubble bath!

Favorite Movie Genres – Horror & Comedy...some of my all-time favorites, just to name a few:

Horror: The Changeling, Dracula (1979), The Amityville Horror (1979), Phantasm (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979—what can I say, it was a good year), The Ring, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen, Christine, Carrie, My Bloody Valentine,, I could go on forever!

Comedy: Arthur, Just One of the Guys, Easy Money, Stir Crazy, Back To School, Porky’s, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Bachelor Party, National Lampoon’s Vacation (Okay, so I’m stuck in the 80s. LOL)

Favorite Gangster Movies – Goodfellas & Scarface (I can’t decide!)

Favorite Song – All Right Now by Free (Yep, I’m a rocker!)

Favorite Sports – Football & Figure Skating...Yeah, I know, weird, right? LOL

Favorite Stooge – Curly! It’s not even a competition!

Favorite Vampires – The Black Dagger Brotherhood! What a sexy bunch of ass-kickin’ blood suckers...Thank you, J.R. Ward!

Favorite Authors (past & present, in no particular order) – Lori Foster, J.R. Ward, Lara Adrian, Janet Evanovich, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, Judith McNaught, Dorothy Garlock, Rebecca Paisley, Julie Garwood, Christie Craig, Catherine Hart, Johanna Lindsey, Karen Robards, Mary Jo Putney, Norah Hess, Catherine Coulter, Katherine Sutcliffe, Elizabeth Lowell...I could go on and on and on....

Favorite (or just plain memorable) Books – A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught, Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney, A Fire in the Heart by Katherine Sutcliffe, Island Flame by Karen Robards, Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood, Cry No More by Linda Howard, Say No To Joe? by Lori Foster, Hawke’s Pride by Norah Hess, Angel by Johanna Lindsey, Angel In Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde, Nightrose, Wild, Sweet Wilderness, Annie Lash, Midnight Blue, and the River and Wind Trilogies by Dorothy Garlock, and anything written by Rebecca Paisley.

Favorite Anthology – Welcome To Redemption by Donna Marie Rogers & Stacey Joy NetzelJ

Favorite Stephanie Plum Book – Hard Eight, and all you Ranger fans will know why...LOL

Favorite Heroes – Joe Winston (Say No To Joe? by Lori Foster), Royce Westmoreland/The Wolf (A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught), Ricardo Carlos Manoso aka Ranger (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich).

Favorite Heroines – Lady Madelyne (Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood), Jennifer Merrick (A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Peachy McGee (Midnight & Magnolias by Rebecca Paisley).

Favorite Excerpt (and a blurb) from my newest release, Meant To Be –
She's running from her past, he's unsure about his future. Maybe together they can figure out what was Meant To Be.Officer Garrett Jamison is at the lowest point in his life. He's lost faith in his ability as a police officer after unwittingly setting his sister up with a dirty cop. Garrett ended up getting shot, and his sister's son kidnapped right out of his own bed. He takes a leave from the force, in need of some time to make a decision about his future. Too bad he can't get a decent night's sleep thanks to his sexy new neighbor and her howling cat. Jessica McGovern moves halfway across the country to start a new life in Green Bay, Wisconsin after her ex-husband is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their young son. Her new neighbor is as infuriating as he is handsome, but when her ex is released from prison early and shows up in town, Jessica discovers she's never needed anyone more...

* * *

"Come here, Miss Crabbypants."

Jessica resisted, but it was no use. The big oaf outweighed her by a ton. "Look, I just want to finish my tea and relax. Today's my last day off for almost two weeks."

He leaned back and frowned down at her. "Why are you working so many hours?"

She rolled her eyes. "Um, I have bills to pay...?"

His gaze became pensive as he massaged the back of her neck. Slowly, she relaxed until she was leaning into his broad chest, eyes closed, inhaling his spicy masculine scent. He always smelled so good...Damn, the man was a magician; she'd already forgotten why she was mad at him...Wait, oh yeah. "So what's with all that hammering?"

"We're building a doghouse."

His busy fingers moved to her shoulders wringing a groan of ecstasy from her. Oh, God, was she drooling on his shirt? Then his words registered. Jessica leaned back and swiped her mouth with the back of her wrist. "A doghouse? But you don't have a you?"

"No, but Ethan's been begging for a puppy for a couple years now. I guess he finally wore Sara down. And Mike's still in the ‘buy-Ethan-anything-he-wants' phase." Garrett glanced down at his T-shirt and chuckled. He reached out and recaptured the back of her neck. "Liked that, did you? You do seem a little tense—"

"Oh, no you don't." She ducked out of his reach and took a few steps back. He started to follow but she held up both hands. "You stay right where you are."

He propped his hands on his hips. "So do I have a date tonight or what?"

"Or what."

He grinned. "Wear something sexy," he said with a wink before strolling out the back door. The jackass even had the nerve to whistle.

Jessica walked over and slammed the door with a muttered, "Nutjob." Then she headed into the bedroom to search through her closet.


So now I'd like to hear about some of your favorite things. And I plan to draw a winner of a signed copy of my latest release, Meant To Be, from everyone who comments, so please leave your email addy as well. J

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fun with YouTube

My son’s current obsession this summer is YouTube. He spends all day filming new videos, taking my camera around the neighborhood, editing on his computer. I cannot tell you how many times I have tripped over his tripod in the living room. I even got to provide commentary for one of his videos. He promised he’d make me famous. I’m a little worried.

So, with YouTube being THE thing this summer in our house, I enlisted the boy's help to find a couple fun videos to share with my KF ladies. And, yes, there is a baby theme to them. What can I say? I've got babies on the brain at the moment.

Women – the great communicators

Men – easily amused

And… I just happen to have one more video up my sleeve. It’s the trailer for my upcoming book SCANDAL SHEET. (Yay!) What do you think?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I 'Think' I Can, I 'Think' I Can...

First off, thanks to those of you who weighed in last week on possible color combinations for my exterior paint job. When you know you're going to be stuck with the color for at least five years, you really want to end up with something you don't wince at every time you drive by. Ultimately, I decided to go with Terry S's idea of a light sage green with ivory trim (Thanks, Terry!) as there was just a touch of light green in the brickwork and I wanted something that stood out in the neighborhood as being a bit apart from the traditional whites and tans that seem to dominate the neighborhood. It's actually called 'herbal wash' but it is very light and sort of gives the house a bit of a cottage effect. My accent color will be terra cotta which I think will work well. Again, thanks to everyone for their input and suggestions. I spent yesterday washing the siding and caulking and hope to be able to slap some paint on by the weekend!

Meanwhile, I am trying not to think ill of those individuals who were fortunate enough to spend last week in D.C. at the RWA National Conference. I console myself with the fact that I put the conference fees and expenses to good use and will have a new roof (pitched this time rather than flat) erected on my garage office where I can escape without fear of our incessant rain dripping on me or my computer. But next July? I'll be at National in Nashville for sure.

Since I'm in the process of rewriting rather than writing at present (adding about 5K words to one manuscript and having to cut another by almost three times that much!) I find myself somewhat nostalgic about the writing process in general. In my opinion, polishing a finished manuscript is about the most fun a writer can have sitting down. The heavy lifting is done. You have a completed story. Now you get to tweak, primp, experiment, and spitshine that puppy to your heart's content--or until you must hand it over to your editor. Writing the book in the first place is where most of the blood is let (mostly only figuratively or on the pages themselves if you write darker material or are having a particularly bad day) but where you don't have to be OCD about every word. In some ways, however, the first draft process can be liberating in that you don't have to obsess about anything other than the story itself--its tempo and pacing and logic.

But adding or deleting additional material to a completed manuscript? It falls in a very different category of the writing craft--located somewhere adjacent to the seventh circle of HELL! I haven't yet figured out which is harder: deleting stuff I've written and kind of like or trying to stick additional scenes into a book that is good but too darned short for the target genre. Which is why I catch myself clicking on the file of a 'new' project from time to time when I should be nipping and tucking or, alternatively, 'beefing up'--material that my agent has been waiting to see for some time now. It's a wonder I don't get confused and start adding to the 108K manuscript and snip-snipping the 80K.

You've heard it before but it's worth repeating. WRITING IS NOT FOR WIMPS!

What about you? What part of the writing process gets your motor running? Are you a research fiend? A storyboard devotee? Or are you a pantser who thinks if you write an outline or synopsis, you've written the book so where's the fun in that? Any tips you have on adding scenes to a completed book or deleting an equal number in another? I gotta tell you, I'm experiencing a bit of 'revision confusion' here so any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. After all, I'm painting an entire house based on your 'sage' advice, folks, so you know I trust ya.

Off to grab my first cup of coffee for the morning so I can have a steady hand for the caulking gun...

Have a super day!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Happens In The Capitol, Stays In The Capitol!

With Naughty Nikki - the First Person I Didn't Know Who Bought My Book at 1st Signing

With My Fabu Critique Partner, Janene & Jessa & Joey (where's Betty?) Our Friends From Portland

Triplets - According to Cherry Adair and Jordan Dane, You Can't Tell the 3 of Us Apart

I Get to Pose With the Amazing Terrio!

Two Million Pounds of Sushi With My Agent & Her Clients at The Sake Club

Me with the Amazing and Fabulous Simone Elkeles!

Susan Harden wins the Bombay set with her Coney Island Lemonade! E-mail me at!

Just got back from the Romance Writers of America national conference in Washington DC and had a great time. Ate a lot of sushi and didn't break too many laws, that I know of.

Had a few times where I played a little hooky, like when Simone Elkeles and I served as protection for Ally Carter at Politics & Prose signing and then later accompanied her to do some research at the Spy Museum. I don't think I'll ever forget the petite and lovely Ally as she hiked up her skirt and pink jacket and climbed into the ducts to spy on the other visitors.

And a huge thanks to Simone when I forgot my room key and she let me crash in her room. Why does she put up with me?

I don't know how much sushi I ate at the Sake Club, but it was enough to make me mainline Pepcid for a week. A huge thanks to the gals from Portland who found Janene and I wandering lost in the Marriott Wardman the first night and invited us to take the metro to Dupont Circle for a drink.

Thanks to Cherry Adair for entertaining us all during a fire alarm situation with the speech for the RITA she hoped she wouldn't have to give. I was rooting for her. And then there was Naughty Nikki and Joyful Joy who kept us up all night drinking and tormenting a guy who was trying to con us.

So now, I'm back. Away from the glamorous world of the romance writer and back to reality. I did get to share a second night of sushi with my friend Becca, whose husband Josh is deployed with Mr. Assassin. And I spent one incredible night with my baby brother, Nathan, Kay and Callie and a very enthusiastic pup named Tangles. Cake was involved. Need I say more?

Now, back to work...

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Conference

Please join me over at Fresh Fiction

I sit at my desk this Monday morning, barefoot, in a haze. I just returned from conferencing it up in Washington D.C. at the RWA’s big shindig. My feet are still calling me names that I didn’t know my blister-worn feet knew. (Where do they learn those words? Are they reading my manuscripts?) My mind is trying to recall all the high points, all the new faces, all the bits and pieces of wisdom I learned. My stomach is still trying to digest some of the yummy food I ate, and my metabolism and I are in a battle to the death. Seriously, calories don’t count at a conference. Did my metabolism not get that memo?

As I try to come up with a subject matter for this piece, (I told you I’m still in a conference haze) I brainstormed a few topics: the people, the pain, the fashion police, my editors’ hair, and fire alarms.

The people were fabulous. I met so many amazing authors and publishing professionals. Their creative energy was contagious. I sat in the audience in awe and listened to Janet Evanovich and had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting AMEN SISTER!! Linda Howard’s talk about her nutty family had me in stitches and I’m gonna have to check and make sure that we aren’t related, because I swear our families come from the same dysfunctional Alabama DNA strain.

There were the writers and people who stopped me in the halls making me feel so important. Of course, most of them just wanted directions to the bathroom, and for some reason I looked like the person with potty knowledge. (Where do they get that idea? Have they read my books?) Ahh, but I still loved chatting with other writers. The most memorable one was when one young lady said, “I lived down the street from you years ago.” My knees started knocking. Oh, the things she could tell! I keep thinking about the time my dog escaped out the door at the crack of dawn. Yeah, I looked like a real romance author out there, running through people's yards, threatening everything including neutering, to a misbehaving Lhasa Apso, while wearing footed, snoopy pajamas. (Hey, my daughter bought them for me for Christmas.) Then there was the day the fire trucks showed up at my house one hot August afternoon because smoke was bellowing out my chimney. “Who in their right mind has a fire in the fireplace in August? Or a Christmas tree fully decorated?” asked the fireman, accompanied by the neighbor who called them.

“Uhh, a writer who had turned the air down to fifty, and was writing Christmas stories and needed the ambience.”

I had some readers come to the autographing and tell me they drove all the way from Virginia to see me. WOW! I mean, I don’t care if it’s fifteen minutes on the other side of Washington, they still drove across state lines to see me. Of course, they probably only wanted directions to the bathroom. One bookseller brought her husband to the autographing and told me she read him my book while on a road trip. And then when they stopped for the night, he watched some sports event on TV and she finished my book. The next day, back in the car, he made her reread aloud, the last of the book. I told him how honored I was, then I scolded him for choosing a game over my book. LOL. Men! You always know where you rate with them—meaning I rated before the boredom, but not before sports. I was still thrilled.

I met several of Killer Fiction’s blog followers. Waving at Terri! I got to hug and stand next to our very own Killer Fiction gal, Leslie Langtry. True, I felt just a tad scared of the woman who writes about assassins, and I also felt . . . short. Dang, girl, could you loan me an inch or two?

I got to put a face with the names of some Wisconsin writers whom I know from their chapter loop. (I joined their chapter when I entered their contest.) Howdy, ya’ll! I got to chat and even dine with some Alabama gals, who talk like me. I met with some ol’ friends, made new friends, and even got to speak to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. “Bathroom is right around the corner.” Do you think she’ll remember me? I eventually did let her leave the bathroom.

One of the hotel’s staff, who stood in the middle of the lobby offering directions, actually accused me of having too much spirit. I personally think she was just jealous that everyone was asking me about the bathroom locations instead of her.

You can’t talk about a conference without talking about the pain. This is all about the shoes, people. Now, I don’t wear those throw-your-back-out-but-boy-do-my-feet-look-hot shoes. I am, after all, the practical type of person. I wear the reasonable, non-slutty (okay boring) one to two inch get-real, blister-making, torture-inducing shoes. Could someone please tell me when did reasonable, semi-bland shoes get into the torture business? Funny thing is, I wasn’t the only person suffering from this condition. I think I saw more band-aided feet this weekend than I have in my life. Oh, and I swear you could almost tell what day it was at the conference by the shoes everyone was wearing. Shoe attire got less and less flashy and more and more comfy as the days went by. Even for us practical types. Of course, Gemma wasn’t there to set the standards.

If I’d run across the FP (fashion police) on Friday night, I would have been hauled in, arrested, and be doing ten to life.

You see, I bought this great looking brown suit. And a great-looking, non-slutty, practical pair of brown shoes. However, my earlier stint in the brown pumps proved that shoes don’t have to be sexy to be painful. I swear my toes were having muscles spasms. My roommate convinced me that happy feet were more important than making a fashion faux pas. So I did it. I wore my non-slutty (yes, boring) black shoes with my brown suit. I know, I know, it’s unforgivable. Never the less, I think the brown shoes had a powwow with their black buddies because even they got into the whole torture game. At one point I plopped down beside Publishers Weekly’s blogger extraordinaire, Barbara Vey, and said, “Can I pretend to sit here and visit with you so people won’t know that my non-matching black shoes have gone past the pinching-the-toes-numb stage and arrived at the toothache-throb-kind-of-pain stage?”

You know, when you are a speaker at a conference you have a lot of knowledge-seeking people come up and ask questions. This year was no different. (And I’m not talking about the directions to the bathroom either.) If I was asked once, I was asked a dozen times, “Christie, what’s up with Chris Keeslar cutting his hair? Where’s his pony tail?”

Yes, I’m lucky to have one of the few male romance editors. Some go so far to call him the God of romance. And while I like to think of Chris and I as having a good working relationship, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t get the memo about his hair change. Nor did the man feel the need to get my permission to cut his hair. But don’t worry, Chris and I discussed this problem at length.

Then there was this young, happy blonde who came up to me at the autographing and hugged me and said she was so excited to see me, and I looked at said blonde and replied. “I’m thrilled to see you, too. And who are you?”

Her answer, “Your new editor at St. Martins.” Oh, yes, I had chatted with Rose over dinner not too long ago, had even visited with her during cocktail parties, but in my defense she changed her hair. Hence, I’ve spoken with my agent to have a memo-of-hair clause put into all my future contracts.

Now, the last subject to be covered is fire alarms. Yup, it happened again. The alarm went off and people were ushered out of the building. I wasn’t even in the building when it went off. Much to my dismay, I was still accused by several folks, my agent included, of being responsible for this little problem.

Yes, I know it seems to happen a lot when I go to conferences, but I’m innocent, I tell you, innocent. I don’t care what my own fire department says in my old neighborhood. And believe me, I wouldn’t have pulled any alarm that would have caused me to have walk one more step than needed.

So what’s up in your world? Any conference, bad shoes, good shoes, hair, or fire alarm stories to share?

Come on, let’s share a bit.


Sunday, July 19, 2009


We all have 'em. And it seems that no matter where you live or how much you pay for your home, there's always that "one person." What is that? Why is there always someone who just won't conform, or be normal, or play nice?

In my new neighborhood, I have a couple of doozies, but I'm not going to talk about them here. Who knows, they may actually read this. But two neighborhood's back, I had a neighbor that was a true piece of work. He worked sometimes, claiming to be some sort of medical sales guy. I always wondered exactly what kind of "medical" products he was selling. His wife was a strange one. I would wave and she would jump in her car and pull away like I was chasing her. Whatever.

Then one night I hear sirens so I step outside and see my next-door neighbor, a real class act, standing in his front yard, looking down the street at the police cars and ambulance. So I ask what's going on. He says "I guess ________ done beat his wife again." Well, that explains a lot, I thought. The sunglasses at midnight. The long sleeves in the summer in Texas. The refusal to speak to anyone, even when spoken too.

Mind you, her husband did not have the same problem. He walked around the neighborhood, usually holding a drink, and talked everyone half to death. In fact, I think one day I actually went to church to get away from him. And the worst part is this guy was a complete idiot to top everything else off. He was one of those that liked to pretend he knew everything and only showed his stupidity.

So one day, I'm talking to my next-door neighbor (the class act) about some flower cuttings he was giving me and the other neighbor comes walking up the street past our houses. At the end of the road was a golf course, and even though this guy clearly had never played golf, I guess he'd decided that was the new, hip thing so he'd picked up a driver at a garage sale and was going to "sneak" on the course after hours and become the next Arnold Palmer. The class-act neighbor and I look up as he passes and realize he has his driver covered with a tube sock. OMG! We both burst out laughing until we cried. If I could have gone inside for a camera, I would have, but I couldn't move.

A tube sock!

So my first thought is "Idiot, there are special socks for golf clubs, and how could you not notice the difference?" And my second thought is "Someone still has tube socks?" And I mean one with a purple and yellow stripe around. Absolutely classic.

So what about you - got a neighbor with an odd bend?

A link for Terry S. - this is from last week on America's Got Talent. Absolutely amazing kid guitarist. (This was the best quality one I found, but you don't have to watch the whole thing) I think he could win the whole thing:

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Author Adelle Laudan

Happy weekend, everyone! Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented author Adelle Laudan to KF. I met Adelle on the Romance Divas website, where she's known as the "Motorcycle Mona Diva". I love it! (Don't even ask what I'm known as there...) So, take it away, Adelle...

Quite often I'm asked if I have a routine or a writing ritual. I don’t really, except for the fact I write all my rough drafts by hand. The words seem to flow better for me with pen in hand. Also, I need complete silence, so do the bulk of my writing when I’m home alone. If I have a deadline and my girls are around, I've been known to take out my hearing aids and get ‘er done lol

Curiosity drove me to find other authors writing habits…

Stephen King famously writes no less than ten pages a day, even on holidays.

The Da Vinci Code's Dan Brown keeps an hourglass on his desk and, on the hour, puts aside his manuscript to perform push-ups, sit-ups, and stretches.

Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, writes everything longhand and then literally cuts and pastes (with scissors and tape).

P.G. Wodehouse author of ‘The Inimitable Jeeves’ and many other works, used to pin the pages in undulating waves around the wall of his workroom. Pages he felt were working well would be pinned up high, and those that still needed work would be lower down the wall. His aim was to get the entire manuscript up to the picture rail before he handed it in.

Ernest Hemingway, “Papa” Hemingway wrote 500 words a day. That’s not bad, though. Hemingway woke early to write to avoid the heat and to write in peace and quiet. Interestingly, though Hemingway is famous for his alcoholism, he said he never wrote while drunk.

Truman Capote, the author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” claimed to be a “completely horizontal author.” He said he had to write lying down, in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. The coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis, as the day wore on. He wrote his first and second drafts in longhand, in pencil. And even his third draft, done on a typewriter, would be done in bed — with the typewriter balanced on his knees.

Danielle Steel works in concentrated marathon sessions, which affords her blocks of time she can devote to her large family. Unlike many of her heroines, Steel shies away from the limelight, refusing to do promotional tours, and lives a relatively quiet life that is frequently far from glamorous. When writing, she has been known to work eighteen-hour days, typing away on a 1948 metal-body Olympia in a flannel nightgown.

A typical day for one of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy, is breakfast (grapefruit and Irish soda bread and tea,) then upstairs to a big, bright workroom. They have one long desk: her husband (Gordon Snell) is at one end, and Maeve at the other. He writes his children's books, and she does her stories. They both try to be at their desks by 8:30 AM, and they work until 1:00 PM. This includes answering mail and filing. Then when work is over, they have lunch and play a game of chess. They play seven days a week and have been doing so for over thirty years, and both admit they are still hopeless at it, but love it to bits.

For fun I asked a few author friends on Twitter if they listen to music when they're writing.

NinaPierce No music. Nadda. When I'm in full concentration, music scrambles my wiring and I can't think through it. Seems more people plan music to their book. But that is so not me. Music definitely can spur my imagination, but wreaks havoc on my thoughts.

Johnny Ray or Sirjohn_writer listens to many kinds of music, including Russian. I have others on my computer, from relaxing to explosive, it depends on my mood.

mgbraden Music? I actually don't usually listen to any. I find it easier to hear the voices without it!

Stella Price or Eververse listens to alot of indie. I like The Faint, She Wants Revenge, GlassJaw and some old stuff like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. And LOVE Concrete Blonde.

SavannahChase listens to everything from Linkin Park, Matt Pokora, Incubus, Rob Thomas, Cinema Bizarre, Darren Hayes, The Midway State,BEP,Danny,Tommy Lee....I have a very eclectic taste..I am one of those author's who needs music while I write. I can't write in silence...Music inspires me and gives me the drive to let the story just flow through my fingers.

As you can see, the writing habits of all these authors, whether they be seasoned or new, is as diverse as the stories they tell. There is no right or wrong when it comes to settling in to write a story. The common bond I find with all authors, is their love of the written word—an insatiable need to tell a story.

Write on…or go insane.

I’m holding a contest for a kewl tshirt and hat over at Author Island. Contest ends August 15th. Pop on over and find out how you can win! Enter HERE

Do you Twitter?


My Blog

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goodies in the mail!

I got the most awesome thing in the mail this week. Look!

It’s an adorable baby quilt made by “Auntie” Jenyfer Mathews. Isn’t she talented? Baby is so lucky, because mommy can’t even sew a button on straight. Anyway, if you can’t see them, those are adorable little animals in the squares, saying stuff like “Quack, woof, neigh”. Super cute. And the bright blue is perfect! Jenyfer – you totally rock, girl!

Another thing that was tucked into my package from Jenyfer were two books – “Shoe Addicts Anonymous” and “The Yoga Mamas”. Yay! I was so psyched to see that little surprised as I’ve completely exhausted my TBR pile, something I never thought in a million years would happen. But, with all the down time I’ve been forced to take while growing the critter, I’ve been reading way more than normal. Which, I’m loving. But, I’m low on books now. Anyone have some good recommendations? I’m still waiting for Amazon to send me “I Shot You Babe”. (Stupid slow Amazon… what, did they sell out or something? Didn’t they anticipate the huge demand for this book? That’ll teach them to buy more next time…)

Needless to say, my favorite genres to read are mystery, comedy, or romantic suspense. But, I’m always open to new genres, too. So… read any good books lately? Written any good books lately? Gimme some recommendations for the weekend.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Okay, this is REALLY my final H.I.P. (Home Improvement Project)

Okay. I'm ready to embark on my final home improvement undertaking for this season. I know you've heard it before, but it's true. Pinky swear!

Anyway, this last 'H.I.P. Hurrah' involves--you guessed it--PAINT! I'm painting the exterior of my house (seen above) but I'd like your input before I make a final decision as to paint colors. As you can see, the previous owners painted the house light gray with dark gray trim--SO not a match to the tannish red shingles and red brick featured around the bottom and the ends of the house.

So, your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to suggest a color palette for my painting project. I've already tried a number of different 'samples' on cardboard but just for kicks, I'd like to get your input.

I'm out of town for the day, so weigh in and let me know what colors have the best curb appeal for yours truly.

I'm outta here!

~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's Talk About Press, Baby!

(I'm at RWA right now but I'll post the winner of last week's contest next Weds. I promise. I double-dog swear with a monkeybutt chaser.)

I had an interview last week that appeared in Sunday's local paper. I thought the interview went well. That should have tipped me off. I have done interviews for years on various subjects. And most of the time, they go pretty well. Sometimes, however, they suck outright.

The reporter asked me about social networking. I said that I didn't have enough time to do it all and I was in awe of people who could do it and not let it eat up there whole day, weekend, lifetime, leaving them feeling empty and craving the sweet taste of gunmetal... oh wait...what was I talking about? The article opened with;

"Leslie ________ (he used my real name? why not my address and bra size too?) 42 years old (REAL AGE??? He sealed his death warrant. I'm thinking something with honey, popsicles and morey eels) has no tolerance for people who use Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites."

Damn. He's got me. All those nights hunting those bastards armed with malt liquor and a baseball bat were wasted.

The reporter goes on to say, "Leslie is blunt and opinionated." Well that's nice. If they're gonna make stuff up, why not say that I have bubonic plague and use deviled ham as deoderant?

Then, as if he has a change of heart, he says that I'm "Witty and breezy." Oh yeah. That sums me up.

I guess it's possible to find better fiction in the newspaper than you can anywhere else.

I'm planning his death. Ideas?

The Assassin

Slaying the Closet Monster

Hey Guys,

I'm on my way to Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference. Post your comments and I'll answer them this evening.

Have a great day!

Do you remember when you were little, left alone in a dark room to sleep all by yourself? I do. I remember it so clearly. Lying in the bed, Wilber my stuffed pig tucked close to my side to keep me safe, and my imagination working overtime.

Mom had already checked under my bed, so I knew the monster hadn’t hidden there. There was only one place left for him to hide in waiting--waiting for me to fall asleep and then he would creep out of the shadows and attack. And yet for the life of me, I couldn’t make myself reach for the knob and open that door. Without a doubt, I knew, the monster lurked in my closet.

Amazingly, I grew up without that monster ever showing his face. I don’t think I actually forgot about him during my teen years. I’d lie in that dark room, my imagination working overtime. Ahh, but it wasn’t monsters I imagined. It was David Cassidy, AKA Keith Partridge. However, occasionally when I’d hear a thump in the night, I’d tuck Wilber a tad closer to my side to keep me safe. (Hey, I really liked Wilber)

Eventually, I grew up. Felt more confident, secure. I knew what was real and not so real. So I gave up David Cassidy, but Wilber got to stay.

Then I became a mom and I had to do the nightly checks under the bed. And one night, my daughter asked. “What about the closet?”

While what I wanted to tell her was, “Hey, I did the under-the-bed check, I’ve given you Wilber, don’t push your luck,” I tapped into my maternal instincts instead, pulled up my big girl panties, snatched up Wilber to go with me, and I opened the closet door to show her no monster lurked in the dark creepy shadows of her closet.

Fast forward twenty years. Wilber has gone to rest in stuffed animal heaven, where I’m sure he has gotten his angel wings, pissing off everyone who ever said, “I’ll do that when pigs fly.”

Luckily, I’m not one of those people. Nope, I seldom say “never, ever.” My flaw is saying, “I’ll do it when I get around to it.” My hubby even bought me a coined-shaped rock that has the word, “roundtoit” on it, so when I say, “I’m gonna clean the closets when I get a ‘round to it,’” he says, “You already have one. Do you think you might be a procrastinator?” Now, Wilber flying around heaven doesn’t bother me, but my husband saying that plum pisses me off.

Why? Because whenever a flaw has a name, it becomes so much more. Yup, when a flaw gains a title, it becomes a “condition.” Oh, it doesn’t stop at that stage, because conditions quickly become syndromes and mental illnesses for which doctor even offers pills. And in a blink of an eye, you’ll see yourself, or someone just like you, on a reality show.

So, I’m sort of coming out of the closet and admitting it. I’m a champion procrastinator. Wait, let me take that back, I’m not a procrastinator about everything. But when it comes to cleaning out closets, I’m the queen of procrastination and a clutter lover to boot.

Something about a closet just says, “Toss anything in here and you don’t have to ever worry about me ever again.” Adding clutter to a closet feels natural to me. It’s almost as if I’ve been brainwashed by the closet monster to feed him clutter.

Have you seen the show Clean House that Oprah talks about? If so, then you pretty much have an idea of what my walk-in, unwalkable closet looked like before I slapped my husband silly for his roundtoit comment, prayed to Wilber for protection, got Oprahfied, and pulled my big girl panties up and came to a conclusion. The conclusion being that I was NOT taking a pill for my flaw!!! And just in case Oprah showed up, I didn’t want to be the one who killed her for fear she’d peek into my closet and have an intervention show about some clutter-loving, closet-cleaning-impaired romance writer who believes in monsters. So I did it. I confronted the beast.

Now as an older, wiser woman in her forties, I’ve learned a lot about childhood fears and monster myths. And I’m here to tell you that the closet monster really exists. Who else could have made such a mess in there? Yup, I came face-to-face with that monster, too. He had the face of my flaws, of my fears, but I held strong and armed with my roundtoit rock and Wilber power, and I did it. I fought the monster.

It wasn’t easy. I found clothes that fit me six sizes ago! The monster roared its ugly head and tried to go after my self-esteem. I counter punched by insisting I was on a diet. I found styles that should have never come into being, or at least not in my closet. So when the monster attacked my sense of style, I blocked that blow by insisting we’re all allowed one or two fashion faux pas.

I found cat food cans, which my dog Bosco--who passed away only a year after Wilber—would steal from the bathroom garbage and horde in the closet to lick clean. The monster tried to stab at my sense of cleanliness. I stood up to that one by insisting they weren’t dirty. Bosco had licked them clean.

So, the closet monster went back to my clothes. I found outfits that went out of style with David Cassidy. I had no defense for that one. I took that blow full force. Embarrassingly, I found clothes that still had tags on them. I fought off the attack of being wasteful by blaming a friend who insisted the outfit looked great on me. She’s now an ex-friend because I realized she didn’t have my best interest at heart. Those outfits brought that fact home.

Now I have to tell you, cleaning out my closet gave me a sense of power. I have since cleaned out my downstairs hall closet, my upstairs hall closet, and my extra bedroom closet.

Slaying monsters can be addictive. I won’t go so far as to say that it was fun. I hated doing it. But I’m glad it’s done. I won’t go so far to say I’ll never allow them to get that way again. Because I know sooner or later, I’ll give in, fall prey to my flaw, my condition, my syndrome, and I’ll start feeding the monster again by tossing objects into the closet that should be tossed in the garbage.

But for now, I’m enjoying my victory. However, to this day, or I should say night, when I lay in bed and hear a slight noise, the first place my frightened gaze shoots is to the closet door. And if left open, I will get up and close it and with each step I’ll wish I had Wilber clutched close to my side. Hubby doesn’t like to follow me to the closet.

So what about you? How do your closets look? What are you afraid of? What were you afraid of as child? Do you procrastinate? Come on, let’s share a little.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Truth

For writers, the truth is a big deal. Not the story itself, of course. That's fiction. But the emotion, the heart, the soul of the book has got to be the truth - the author's truth - or it can lie flat on the page. Stephen King says of his work that he always told the truth, and I for one, believe that (and great market timing) are what made him the best-seller he is.

We've all seen someone perform - at anything, really - and they're technically perfect but they lack something. Some spark that makes the difference between you connecting with the performer or just admiring their technical perfection. I believe that something is "the truth."

I am big on reality talent shows. Call me a sucker, but I just love to see normal people get a shot at something great. So I'm watching America's Got Talent and a few weeks ago, there was a chicken catcher from Kentucky on there who blew me away. Check out the video. Sorry they didn't offer embedding, but the link works fine:

Chicken catcher video

People were amused when he came out. Amused at the accent, at his job, at his simpleness. But when he started singing, not only did he have everyone captivated, I'm fairly sure no one was breathing.

That's not just talent. That's a gift. The truth.

Deadly DeLeon

Folklore in Fiction

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday as much as I am. (I love summer! And the pool! And hot lifeguards!) To start the day off right, please join me in welcoming author R.F. Long to KF! She writes beautiful fantasy romance with just the right history mixed in. So, take it away, R.F...

People have always told each other stories. It's an ideal way of communicating, a method of passing information down through the generations. From the earliest times people gathered together and told each other stories. Some were funny, some were frightening, all of them served to pass on information, whether we recognise that information today or not. Like a game of Chinese whispers (where someone at the end of a line whispers something to the person next to them, who whispers it to the person after them, and son on until the original phrase is mangled and the last person must guess what the original was).

Coming from Ireland I grew up on folktales. Standing apart from myths and legends, separate from the story books, folktales abound here. They are the tales told to each other by the common people, the everyday folk (to borrow a phrase from a childhood TV program). People are inclined, not only to tell tales, but to elaborate on them, to add their own touches. Little flourishes, little hints to locate the story locally. Suddenly the stories happened to a friend of a friend, or my brother in law's cousin. They are stories that touch us, that resonate with us, so we make them our own.

Since the late 60s folklore acquired a new name - urban legends.

In using old folklore in fiction I find it key to keep this in mind. Though our folklore may have been written down hundreds of years ago, and kept alive orally for hundreds of years after that, these tales were the urban legends of their time (even if they didn't have an urban setting).

Folklore was always told as a true story. This happened, here, just over the hill, yesterday, a hundred years ago, in a land (or a galaxy) far, far away. But the belief in the story is never doubted. The storyteller is not saying - here is a fable to teach you to be patient. Instead the message is more likely to be - "Do you see that circle of stones over there? Never go there after dark and never, ever try to dig it up."

In my most recent release "Soul Fire" I've been blending the folktales of the Irish Daoine Sidhe with a modern setting. It's a rural village in England, surrounded by woodland. Rowan, the heroine, is second generation. Her grandmother left Ireland with a horde of folktales with which she entertained her orphaned grandchildren. Grams' stories prove vital when Rowan discovers that the Sidhe are not simply old stories, but very real. And very dangerous. Titbits of information regarding iron, milk and the changing seasons become vital clues to help her and her Sidhe lover Daire survive.

The Sidhe of Irish folklore are not the innocent fairies the Victorians loved so much. They are older, darker, and far more dangerous. Heartbreakingly beautiful, treacherous, noble, lost souls who do not really understand humankind. In these stories they have a tendency to treat people like animals - sometimes as a beloved pet, sometimes as something to catch and tame, sometimes as something to hunt. It depends on the individual Sidhe, and the individual human. I know people today who will admit that old beliefs die hard. They won't break a branch of a living hawthorn, or willingly cross a fairy ring. Our beliefs are part of us.

As mentioned above, folklore is not just ancient stories. When we children, in order to entertain us on long car journeys, my father made up a story about Fred the White Horse who looked after our family when we were travelling. He told it as he drove, and we all pressed up to the windows, watching fields go by, looking for a glimpse of him. Endless entertainment, and very quiet children. My sisters and I have grown up and have children of our own. My father is in his late 70s. Imagine his surprise when, unprompted, my 4 year old began to tell him that she say Fred on the way over. "Who's Fred?" he asked. "Oh, he's the magic horse that looks after us when we're travelling." Perhaps another piece of folklore has been born.

Working such a powerful sensation of "the other" into a novel is a challenge and a joy. I love research, which is just as well because there always seems to be another story or belief which can be incorporated. The trick of course is to pick enough, without overwhelming the reader. Elements of research need to add to the story rather than swamp it. In writing paranormal fiction, however, knowledge of folklore and beliefs, and their incorporation, can give a great depth to the background, a weight, not of history, but of tradition which helps carry a reader along. Whether it be Sidhe, vampires, or modern urban legends about serial killers and ghosts, touching on things buried deep in the reader's psyche, blending them with your own story, strengthens it.

And of course, adds a new layer to the ongoing folklore.

~R.F. Long

R.F. Long always had a thing for fantasy, romance and ancient mysteries. The combination was bound to cause trouble. In university she studied English Literature, History of Religions and Celtic Civilisation, which just compounded the problem.

Her latest novel "Soul Fire" is now available from Samhain Publishing. She is also the author of the fantasy novel "The Scroll Thief" and novella "The Wolf's Sister". You can find out more about her work on her website -

She lives in Wicklow, the Garden County of Ireland, and works in a specialized library of rare and unusual books.
But they don’t talk to her that often.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Well of Ideas

Happy weekend, everyone! Please join me in welcoming the insanely talented Grace Draven to KF! She writes really cool, otherworldly, paranormal books that I will let her tell you all about. So, take it away Grace...

First up, many thanks to Gemma Halliday and the rest of the Killer Fiction gang for having me on board for a guest shot today. I’m Grace Draven and currently write for Amber Quill Press. All the juicy details about me and my double life as a spy can be found here:

I’ve been reading romance since I was twelve years old. Living in Madrid, Spain and lamenting the lack of American TV (especially cartoons and afternoon specials – you never outgrow Scooby Doo), I discovered a new and addictive entertainment in reading romance fiction when I picked up The Black Lyon by Jude Devereaux. I still have that book by the way. Thirty years later, it’s looking a little dog-eared but the glue has held up, and I still love the original cover art.

The love of reading romance turned into a love of writing it. These days I write mostly fantasy romance. The marriage of the two genres has always been something I’ve wanted to read and write. World building, sorcerers and magic, newly made cultures, etc. all mixed in with the hero/heroine romance dynamic—what’s not to like?

Oh, and I like to see hot men on the covers. Why yes, I am all about the eye candy. In fact, here’s some eye candy I had licensed from two talented artists for promotional stuff (bookmarks, etc) on my latest book, Master of Crows:

Nice, eh? ~Ahem~ Where was I? Oh yes…

I’ve had non-writer friends ask me where I get ideas for my books. To their surprise, I often say I get my ideas from them. Seriously, and forgive the cliché, but people are odd ducks in general. There’s a reason people-watching is a popular sport. We say things, do things and get ourselves involved in situations that are so bizarre that seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. It’s great fodder for a story, even a story that takes place on another world, in another culture and with different races.

I have a work in progress centering on a grimalkin (a cat who is a witch’s familiar) who is actually an elf lord doing time for an ancient crime. My heroine is a single mom with an autistic child. I’m a married mom with the most beautiful, seven-year old, fascinating, autistic son ever born (I can say this. I’m his mom). Some of the stuff he does and the behaviors he exhibits are strange and puzzling, but also endearing and sometimes funny. One day I’ll have to tell you the story of how I caught him sneaking into the bathroom to dip his fish sticks into the toilet. Yeah, I gagged too when I found out.

There’s also the time when I worked as a bookseller to put myself through college and sold a stack of books to a young guy who sauntered into the store wearing pajamas, pink fuzzy bunny slippers and Spock ears. He was one of our more normal patrons. Trust me; bookstores are not sedate, boring places to work.
My spouse will likely never forgive me for ruining potential sales at a gun show. He had a side business selling medieval replica swords and knives, so we purchased a booth space for the weekend, set up our stuff next to the family selling hand-crafted angels (you’d be amazed at what’s sold at a gun show). As I was there for company and support, I let him do the sales pitch and sat back to read the book I brought with me.

I’ll pause here to say that while I write fiction, I read an enormous amount of non-fiction—especially for research. Anyway, my choice of reading material that day, combined with what my spouse was trying to sell, probably didn’t entice the purchasers. Most browsers stopped by, checked out the swords, looked my way, raised some eyebrows and hurried away. It wasn’t until the show was nearly over for the day that my husband took a good look at the cover of the book I was reading with its bold title and large letters—THE HISTORY OF HUMAN SACRIFICE—and nearly had a coronary.

These are just some things I’ve personally witnessed, and they’re relatively mild. Stories from some of my wilder, take-no-prisoner friends have left me slack-jawed with astonishment or doubled over with laughter. Thing is, it’s all great material for a tale, and I’ve mined from these life experiences with gusto, incorporating them into stories, sometimes altering them to fit a world or time period but always keeping the spirit of the moment intact.
If I ever write a bookseller heroine, I have a wealth of knowledge from which to pull and funky instances to incorporate into the story. Kids provide endless ideas with their remarks, antics and often their unfiltered wisdom and honesty. Friends, neighbors, relatives—all are seas of inspiration.

So when someone asks me where I get my ideas? Dudes, that’s easy. Everywhere.

~Grace Draven

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ducks and Bears and Dinosaurs… Oh my!

Only 82 more days to go until mini-me makes his appearance! And because some of you have been asking, I’m posting the latest bump picture. Though, bump is a very kind word at this point. I look like I swallowed a basketball. It’ more like a huge protrusion than a cute little bump. I’m at the stage where strangers are asking, “So, when are you due?”
“Ohmigod, you have that long? But you look enormous?!”
“You do know I’m hormonal and outweigh you by a good metric ton, right?”
Luckily, I’m really slow, so they can usually get away faster than I can strangle them at that point.

But, nosy strangers aside, I’m totally enjoying one of the most fun parts of having a baby –shopping. Every time I leave the house I seem to come back with at least one cute little baby item. Teeny-tiny Nikes, little blue blankies, more onsies than the kid can possibly ever wear. My only complaint is the selection of boy clothes.

Ducks. Bears. Dinosaurs.

Every store I go into has racks full of little blue outfits with these three things on them. Once in awhile, just for variety, they’ll throw in a truck. But the makers of little baby boy clothes seem to think that every child wants to grow up to be a truck driver, a paleontologist, or… a duck. Seriously, what do water fowl have to do with babies? For that matter, what do large, extinct reptiles? Don’t these people know that if dinosaurs were still around they’d be eating the babies for lunch?

Tons of racks of little girl clothes in adorable pink, purple, greens, all kinds of styles.

The one boy rack – ducks, dinosaurs, bears. Give the poor child some dignity, will you?

So, I’m searching for places that have cool boy clothes, minus any weird animal affiliations. Got any good websites?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's Q & A Time!

Since the release of my last Calamity Jayne book, ANCHORS AWEIGH, I've been inundated with questions and queries (and a few complaints) as to just what the heck I was doing--literarily speaking. Inasmuch as I had taken a self-imposed 'hiatus' to focus on obtaining my degree in Criminal Justice--and having achieved that particular goal--and with emails still coming in daily, I've decided to answer many of those questions here today.

Question 1:
Will there be any more Calamity Jayne books. (i.e. 'PLEASE don't stop the series!' 'PLEASE tell me there are more books coming!' 'I HAVE to know what happens with Taylor and P.D.' Readers MUST have a Calamity Jayne/Ranger Rick wedding!'...etc.)
Response: At this time there are no plans in the works for me to pen a seventh Calamity Jayne book. I'd love to continue the series at some point, but for now--for a variety of reasons, I'm moving on to other projects.
Question 2:
Will there be a sequel to FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS?
Response: Although there were plans for a sequel to 'Lawyer Logan' featuring 'CEO Clay' since I'm not under contract with Dorchester Publishing for any new projects at this time, plans for a second book have been placed on hold.
Question 3:
Just what the heck are you working on?
Quite honestly, I hadn't anticipated the heavy-duty time demands that came with the new job and increased classload coupled, of course, with those responsibilities that come with being the Head of the Household. I did not want any area of my life to be short-changed. All the aforementioned areas demand a high level of concentration, time commitment, and creativity. (Being 'creative' is a must when you are the mother of multiples.) And I SO didn't want to produce a project that, in my opinion, was not reflective of my best effort and abilities. Obviously something had to give. In this case, it was the writing. Now that my course work has ended and all future home improvement projects (with the exception of fall house painting) will be left to the professionals, I'm now back and focusing on my writing career with renewed energy and experiences that will, I think, only benefit and complement my writing endeavors from this point forward. To that end, I am working on a proposal for a new series which, I think, is very 'high concept' and has loads of potential. Since the project is still being developed and tweaked before it makes its way into the frenzied world of publishing, I won't elaborate. But it's the kind of project that has me waking in the night and grabbing my notepad and scribbling down ideas so that is a good sign.
Beyond this project, I am also returning my attention to a finished hard-boiled series that needs a bit of updating and some revision before it is shopped around. And, of course, I still have a completed Young Adult book sitting on the desk of a Penguin-Putnam editor waiting to be read.
I also have a American West historical romance I wrote ages ago that had promise but needs to be revamped, as well (you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl) that I'm tinkering with. So, much as with my 'home improvement' undertakings, I am not limiting myself to one writing option. In this business, you can't.
So there you have it: What's up with Bullet Hole. Or as much as I care to disclose in this venue. Hehe.
I'm off to the dentist this morning (yay) but if you have any other questions you'd like to ask, bring 'em on.
Oh, and if you have any advice on how to keep furry little pests from nibbling on my tomatoes, do tell. ('Possums are particularly pesky.) My kids seem to have a problem with me lying in wait for them with a slingshot. I tell 'em it could be worse. I am, after all, a former cop...
Off to get 'crowned' at the dentist's office.
Talk to you all later!
~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"I'll Have A Martini. Two At The Most. Three, I'm Under The Table...Four, I'm Under The Host."

A huge shout out to my girl, Dorothy Parker, for the title.

Last week's New Yorker Magazine had the best cartoon ever. And since there's probably no way I can get permission to show it here, I'll describe it.

It was called, "The Three Martini Breakfast." And the picture consisted of a man slumped over the breakfast table, a woman in a fetal position passed out under a chair, the breakfast on the stove was on fire, there were broken martini glasses and an empty bottle of vodka with a wide-eyed cat watching it all. Brilliant. Wish I'd thought of that.

So, just now my nine year old son is in the bathtub and he calls down, "Mom! Can you get me a glass of water?'

Me: I'm busy with my KF blog. Get it yourself.

Jack: I can't. You need to get it for me.

Me: Why?

Jack: I'm relaxing.

After grinding my teeth and counting to ten - an application that's usefulness goes WAY beyond the shaken baby syndrome years - I decide to ignore him completely and keep working on the blog. That's how important you guys are to me.

It's been a crazy week since I Shot You Babe came out and I've gotten a lot of e-mails from fans already (many of them who've read the book and are screaming, "NOOOOOOO," for some reason). I had a signing Saturday at the local Borders, an interview with the newspaper on Sunday and here and there have guest blogged on some great sites. I have another signing this Saturday at the Davenport, IA Barnes & Noble and a signing next week at the Romance Writers of America Conference in D.C.

In the meantime, I've got dishes in the dishwasher; laundry going so I can pack for my son's vacation with a friend (I can't believe he gets a #!%*! vacation!) and because I require clean underwear; am cleaning one catbox and two guinea pig cages; have bills to pay and today I put Sgt. Assassin on a plane to Iraq for the next year. That's him in the photo above. And yes, I know what he's looking at. And no, my head really isn't larger than his.

What you can't see is that he's now in great physical shape except for the broken ankle. He could probably wear my jeans if he wanted to. Life is so unfair.

As you can guess, I'm having a drink. A big one. With an orange umbrella (which looks weird sticking out of a beer bottle), ice cream sandwhiches (two...I'm not a total pig) and a complete lack of self-respect.

So this blog is unnaturally short. Blame Hellion. I was on the Romance Writers Revenge drinking virtual Bombay Bombers and a strange, smoking drink named Assassin's Last Call. And since I thought that was fun in a completely non-satisfying way (real alcohol is way better), I thought a little contest was in order.

Come up with a drink based on my series. You can base it on one of the characters, a scene or what have you. This weekend, I'll have some of my girlfriends over and we will test out these potions. Whichever one is best (meaning it tastes good and doesn't render us blind, fat or just plain pissed off) wins a complete set of the Bombay Series signed by moi.

Are you up to the challenge? I sure as hell hope so, because I could use a good amnesia-inducing drink. Let's see what you've got.

The Assassin