Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unusual Texas Laws

I’m not a Texan. Well, not born or bred here, but I do live in this fine state and I’m Texas proud. Yup, proud to be a part of a community of law-abiding, blue-bonnet loving, cowboy-boot wearing citizens. And I try to follow the laws of this fine state. But admittedly, I have slipped up. And on occasion, I will just check and make sure I’m following the regulations. Recently, during my search of Texas law, I came across some interesting and shall I say unusual laws. And I just thought I’d share. I mean, in case you ever come to Texas, you need to know these things.

Some Unusual Texas Laws:

1) It’s illegal to sell one’s eyes. (Now, I don’t much see a problem with this law, do you? But how the heck did it ever become a law? Did someone post their baby blues on Craig's list?)

2) It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. (But if you sit down it’s okay, right?)

3) Up to a felony charge can be levied for promoting the use of, or owning more than six dildos. (Hmmm? How do they know if someone owns more than six? Do they need to be registered? Are permits required?)

4) It is illegal for one to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. (Damn, I didn’t know that. But you can bet the next time I see a buffalo out of a second story hotel building I won't try to shoot it.)

5) It is illegal to milk another person’s cow. (Oh, crappers, I hope they don’t come after me.)

6) A recently passed anticrime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed. (Are you kidding me? Can’t we change it to 36 hours?)

7) It is illegal to idle or loiter anyplace within the corporate limits of the city for the purpose of flirting or mashing. (Mashing what? Potatoes…mosquitoes?)

8) It is illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster. (This one plum stumps me.)

9) One needs permission from the director of parks and recreation before getting drunk in any city park. (Hmmm. If permission is received, can a person then drink three sips of beer at a time while standing up?)

10) No person shall throw trash from an airplane. (Wow, I'll be careful next time I'm in a plane not to just toss my peanut or prezel bag out the window.)

11) Beer may not be purchased after midnight on a Sunday, but it may be purchased on Monday. (I think someone had too many beers when he wrote that one.)

12) It is illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday. (Stumped again. But maybe it has something to do with law number 16.)

13) It is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts. (This is why I wish I’d been raised in Texas.)

14) Any person who sits on a sidewalk may be fined up to $500. (Does it count if the person just trips and falls?)

15) It is now illegal to place a “for sale” sign on a car if it visible from the street. (Say what? I mean, if it’s not seen from the street, why would you put the sign on there?)

16) In Port Arthur, obnoxious odors may not be emitted while in an elevator. (Can anyone tell me who I need to see about getting this law put into effect in all of Texas?)

Okay…so there you have it. Just in case you visit my fine state of Texas, I want you to know how you should behave. So, any fine laws in your community? Have you broken any these above laws? I have broken at least four, but I’m not telling which ones.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It Comes Around So Fast

Monday, that is. Do you guys feel the same? I just get grooving on everything and think I'm making strides and then it's already Sunday night. Ugh Had a busy weekend with freelance writing projects, some web-building (I officially hate Photoshop), and working on my next Harlequin Intrigue.

I also managed time to watch Shutter Island, which I missed at the theater and am just getting around to. I have to say that I figured out the twist early on, but overall, the movie was well written, well acted and had that overwhelming feeling of gloom that I look for in those kinds of stories. I recommend it to anyone who likes movies with a gothic feel and mental bend.

Also watched the first three episodes of Dexter Season 4 - thank you Netflix! I am not near as impressed with this season so far as the others. I am losing respect for the serial killer who will not put his stupid wife in place. Maybe in an interesting twist, she can be his victim at the end of the season!

I have been keeping up with America's Got Talent and still like Michael Grimm, but I love Prince Poppycock! What an artist that guy is, and not just in one area. He's a great singer, creates fabulous characters but his costumes, set design and makeup are right up there with any professional. Surely that guy has a huge career on Broadway ahead of him.

Here's a link to last week, when he took on Freddy Mercury, of all people:

Well, off to work for me, then the post office, then the doctor, then work again. A busy Monday. Have a great week all!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, August 27, 2010

Living with Men

The Man and I have been cohabiting for almost exactly a year now, so I thought I’d share the top five things that I have learned since living with a guy:

1. Goatee stubble is hard to clean out of tile grout.

2. I snore. (Huh. Really? I never noticed…)

3. I am totally turned on by a guy doing my laundry.

4. Nothing drags you out a deep sleep quickly like the guy next to you in bed shouting nonsense in his sleep.

5. There is never a time of year when you can’t find either baseball or football on TV.

Okay, your turn. What have you learned since meeting your significant other?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Today was the release day of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins! I'm a HUGE fan of the Hunger Games trilogy and have beey dying to read this. It's going to be my reward tonight for writing this blog and calling all my girl scouts about a meeting Saturday (which, by the way, I'd rather have a facial with a diamond sander than do).

If you haven't read The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, drop everything and do it.

Go ahead. I'll wait. It's okay.

Forget work...I'll write you a pass. The kids can feed themselves. And if your pets are like mine, they can live off their own body fat for a while.

I loved Harry Potter (and loathed Twilight) but this is better. I think I read the whole first book in one sitting, then recommended it to my friends who have now all become addicted (It is not necessary to thank me...you know who you are).

But I was never this way with a series before. If my city had a midnight release party, I would've been there in costume, with face paint, dragging my bow. And I would've been there with all the other 40-something women I saw today as I raced across town over my lunch hour to get the book.

I WASTED AWAY waiting for Catching Fire, finished it in one night and thought I was actually going to DIE waiting for Mockingjay. But now it's here. And I am happy. Unless Michele finishes it before me. Then I'll be seriously bummed.

I will not get any sleep tonight.

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Author - Faye Hughes

Winner! Winner!

The winner of the autographed copy of Wild, Wicked & Wanton that Faye Hughes gave away is . . . Abigail Beat. Abigail, please contact me through my website - http://www.Christie-Craig.com - and give me your mailing address.

Thanks again to Faye for blogging this week!


Hi, everyone,

I'm in Alabama this week visiting my daddy, so I asked my non-fiction writing partner Faye Hughes to step in and blog for me.

She's giving away a copy of our book Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You're in a Romance Novel, so make sure you leave a comment. And I'll be back next week!


* * * *

Thanks, Christie! A couple of years ago, Christie and I did a series of blogs entitled "Why Can't Life Be Like a Romance Novel" and I've pulled out one of mine that I'd like to share. Hope you enjoy!

Why Can’t Life Be Like a Romance Novel?

I have a confession to make.

It’s nothing dramatic, so don’t get too excited, but it is kind of telling about me as a person. So here it goes: When I was younger, I used to be ashamed to tell people I read romance novels. Now, I’ll admit that when I was in my twenties, I was all about impressing other people. Maybe that’s why I shoved those dog-eared paperbacks under the sofa cushions whenever anyone came over to visit. Maybe that’s also why I made sure I sprinkled my conversations with lots of references to Faulkner and Wilde. (The dead author I chose depended on who was visiting, naturally.) But all that changed when I hit my thirties.

That’s when I got serious about my writing and actually wrote a book and got it published. And guess what. It was a romance novel.

Only I never used the words, “romance novel” when I described my work to other people. Nope. I wrote fiction, damn it. When pressed to describe the kind of fiction I wrote, I mumble something about women’s fiction. Or, my personal favorite here, light-hearted escapist fiction for a female demographic. The thing is, I called it anything but what it was. Namely, romance.

Now, did I mention that I was an idiot when I was a lot younger?

Yeah, well, I was, or how else can I explain all those bad relationship choices? And now? Well, now I’m a few years older and I like to think, a whole lot wiser. Now,I can admit it. I read romance novels. Wanna know what else? I also write romance novels. And—oh, this is probably the best part—I’m here to tell you that a woman can learn a hell of a lot from reading a romance novel, too.

Five Things I’ve Learned From Reading Romance Novels:

  1. Never go to the basement/attic/cemetery/abandoned warehouse after midnight. Trust me. Bad things happen to stupid people who break this rule.
  2. Be very careful about foolish declarations that begin with “I will never…” Again, trust me on this one. When romance heroines make those “I will never . . .” statements in Chapter 1, it’s guaranteed she’ll end up eating those words over in Chapter 10.
  3. If you get locked out of your hotel room with nothing on but a towel, it’s a given you’ll meet a hot guy. Okay, I actually know women who do this sort of thing just so they can meet hot guys!
  4. If you suddenly find yourself becoming the object of desire by a lot of really hot guys—and that isn’t the kind of thing that usually happens to you—you’ve probably just inherited a fortune. That means it wasn’t that new perfume you picked up at Neiman-Marcus.
  5. No matter how hopeless things may appear, you have to keep believing in that happy ending. Okay, fine. Call me an idealist. It’s okay—I learned that from reading romance novels, tool.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Someone Pays You for This?

I've been recording two new show lately, Fact or Faked and Destination Truth, because they purport to investigate unsolved mysteries and find answers. Sorta like a real life X-Files. Well, I have to tell you that the subject matter of their investigations is good, but the investigations are a joke. They visit these places for a day or two, collect some spots on infrared cameras and spend a WHOLE lot of time creating their own drama and scaring themselves.

They also say things like "the lake is infested with crocodiles" - there was ONE crocodile, hardly an infestation. Or they go into a cave at night, then freak out because bugs and bats move. Or the classic, they're in or on water and then say "something moved in the water." Really? Seriously?

So what could have been a really interesting set of shows is wasted on amateur investigating and better fiction-writing in their scripted drama that I put in my books. In fact, I was thinking about sending them a resume to see if they had an opening for that weak dialogue they write.

Even worse, one of the shows clearly has an agreement with some companies for advertising during the show, so they'll be in the middle of an explanation and say "For our investigation, we would travel south to (wherever), so I logged onto Orbitz.com...." Yeah, that flowed. No one caught on that you were clunking in an advert for Orbitz or anything. If the shows maintains any sort of ratings, I'm afraid that the future might hold even worse dialogue like "We traveled with our Louis Vutton luggage by American Airlines to (wherever), where we rented Land Rovers while wearing Doc Martin hiking boots and eating Snickers bars."

I'm thinking the only group NOT interested in advertising will be MENSA.

I always get frustrated when I see a great concept wasted on foolishness. Then I always wonder how the heck people get investors for this sort of thing. Which inevitably leads me to wonder why no one will make my books into movies. Then I want to drink a beer, because really, at least one of my books WAS infested with alligators, which is far scarier than anything I've seen on those shows.

Any shows frustrating you? Anything you're looking forward to for the Fall season line up? I'm looking forward to HOUSE. Love that show!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Perfect Shot

My latest book, The Perfect Shot (Hollywood Headlines), is officially out in ebook format on Tuesday!
Because of some recent restructuring at my publisher, the print format won’t yet be available until May 2011, but you can download the ebook now. If you’re like me, and don’t yet own an ebook reader, you can still purchase the ebook and read it on your computer.

So, in honor of my first digital only release, here’s an excerpt of THE PERFECT SHOT:

* * *

“Come on, baby, just an inch to the left…” I shifted, feeling my feet go numb.

“That’s it,” I coaxed. “Right there, that’s the spot… yes!”

My finger hit the shutter, and I popped off five shots in rapid succession before my subject ducked back behind the curtain of magnolia trees shading his property. I lifted myself up onto my elbows, checking the digital window to see my handiwork. Hot. I’d caught Trace Brody shirtless, a beer in hand. I was too far away, even with my telephoto lens, to make out the label on the bottle, but I knew he always drank beer when the temp rose above 90. He was too manly for those fruity wines, not pretentious enough to drink the trendy martinis his other Malibu neighbors enjoyed.

I’d been watching Trace for weeks now, ever since his publicist had finally confirmed rumors that the hot young actor was engaged to American’s sweetheart, Jamie Lee Lancaster. Think Angelina and Brad… without the tattoos and horde of kids. You’d be close. Then imagine if they suddenly announced they were going to have a blowout wedding on a cliff above the Malibu coastline. The press about peed their collective pants. My boss, Felix Dunn, editor in chief of the L.A. Informer, included. He’d pulled me from Britney watch and immediately put me to work documenting Trace’s every move between now and the big day.

Not that I minded. I’m much rather spend my days laid out on the hillside above Trace’s multi-million dollar spread in Richie-Rich-ville than chasing Britt on her latest Starbucks run. At least here I got the shirtless view.

I stretched out again on the grass, ignoring the way it tickled the exposed skin at my midriff between my too-low jeans and my too-high T-shirt. (The curse of being a nearly six-foot-tall woman - nothing was ever long enough). I wiped a bead of sweat from my upper lip and put the lens to my eye again, slowly sweeping the tree line for another glimpse of my subject.

“Come on, Trace. Play nice.”

Miraculously, he walked right into my line of vision. I could swear sometimes he actually heard me.

“That’s my boy. Now turn this way, give me a smile, honey.”

I watched him set his beer down on a table. He reached both arms up to the sky, stretching, letting out a catlike yawn.

“Tired? Being a movie star must be such tough work, huh?” I clicked off a couple shots.

Trace moved his head side-to-side, working out the kinks in his neck. I lost him for a moment as he crossed the patio toward his Olympic-sized swimming pool, complete with faux rock waterfall and hot tub painted to look like a bubbling lagoon. But my lens caught up with him again as he approached the diving board.

“Fancy a little swim?” I asked the deserted hillside.

As if in answer, Trace dipped a toe into the water. Apparently satisfied with the temperature, he shrugged and walked out onto the diving board.

I hit the shutter, taking three quick shots. He bounced a little, staring down into the crystal clear blue water. But he didn’t jump. Instead his hands strayed to the waistband of his trunks and, in one swift movement, they fell round his ankles.

I froze. My eyes glued to the lens, a small bead of sweat trickling down between my breasts. I think I might have even forgotten to breath. The only part of me that seemed to still be working was my trigger finger, clicking off shots like mad. Felix would have a heart attack when he saw these.

Then give me a raise.

Trace kicked his shorts away, then walked his gloriously naked self out to the edge of the diving board.

“Good God, you’re beautiful,” I whispered. Not that I expected anything less. He was, after all, a movie star. But this was one man who needed no airbrushing. How he managed to avoid that white-butt-tanned-torso thing, I had no idea. Lord knows I would have known by now if he were a nude sunbather. But he was a smooth, warm, honey color from his perfectly hardened six-pack abs to his perfectly hardened… other parts.

“Jaime Lee must be one happy women, huh, Trace?”

He ignored me. Of course. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was weird to talk to him out loud. Almost worse than talking to myself. But I couldn’t help it. He had no idea I existed, but he’d been my constant companion for the past six weeks. At a safe distance, of course. If I ever actually came face to face with the movie star, I’d probably wet my pants. With a telephoto lens and a football field between us, I was cool as a cucumber at a day spa. In person? Well, let’s just say I’ve never been one of those people-persons. I liked people fine, but my gift has never been an ability to carry on clever conversations with the opposite sex while looking suave and sophisticated. My conversations with guys usually included lots of blushing and really smart comments that came to me only after the cute guy had moved on to the sophisticated brunette at the next table.

So, some people talked to their plants, I talked to movie stars who didn’t know I existed.

Naked ones, currently.

I watched as he reached above his head, bounced once on the diving board, then cut cleanly into the pristine, blue water with hardly a splash.

Sweat slid down my spine, and I could almost feel the sweet, cool water washing over my own skin. I shivered, goose bumps breaking out on my arms as I popped off a few more shots of Trace resurfacing.

“Baby, that was amazing,” I told him, suddenly feeling like I needed a cigarette.
I watched as he pulled himself from the water, shimmering droplets clinging to his gym-sculpted body, and wrapped a towel around his waist before picking up his beer again and heading inside.

I sat up and peeled the lens from my eye. The distance between my secluded hillside and his fancy pool was immediately apparent, and I let out a long breath as his French doors shut behind him.

I’m not sure how long I watched his closed doors, reliving my glimpse of Trace au-natural, before my phone rang from my pocket. Shifting in the grass, I slipped it out.

“Cameron Dakota,” I answered.

“Cam,” came my boss’s voice. “Where are you?”

“Malibu. Why?”

“We got a tip that Jamie Lee’s trying on wedding dresses in Beverly Hills,” he said, his British accent giving his words a lilting rhythm. “How fast can you get there?”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “If I get caught speeding, will the paper cover the ticket?”

I could hear Felix’s wallet squeaking in the silence in the other end. Finally he relented. “Yes.”

“Give me twenty minutes.”

Felix rattled off the address of the boutique where Jamie Lee had been spotted. Then he added, “If she settles on a dress today, I want to be the first to run with a photo, got it?”

“Aye, aye, chief.”

“And Cam?”


“You get any good pics of Trace today?”

I pulled up my view screen again, checking out the series of nude shots that even a tabloid like the Informer would have to censor parts of. I couldn’t help a grin.
“Did I ever.”

What can I say? Being the paparazzi’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.


~Trigger (and ebook!) Happy Halliday

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hey . . . make sure you guys pop over to http://jauntyquills.com/ today where I'm guest blogging. I'm giving away three copies of my books. The blog is about Streeeetch . . . .ing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leslie Langtry is an Idiot.

I saw on the news today that this symbol, from your car's dashboard is considered Idiot Proof - translation: Any Idiot can look at this and know immediately what is wrong with their car. And I didn't come up with the phrase "Idiot Proof." The automobile industry did.

I now consider myself lower than an Idiot - because I had to look it up.

To me, this whatever-the-hell-it-is could be anything. Here's what I think it looks like:
  • Your belly is exclaiming! See how the bottom looks like boxer shorts and the curves upward of the tummy? The exclamation point means danger by diarhea, gas or impending disembowelment by Nazi zombies in Norway. (BTW - saw a funny movie this weekend about Nazi zombies in Norway...) When you see this light, pull over and find a bathroom or chain saw.

  • Your steering wheel is about to explode. Now, I didn't realize that steering wheels could explode, but the closest thing this symbol looks like in my car, is the steering wheel. So that must mean it is filled with explosives. If you see this light, just jump out of the car. Aiming it at a lake or something safe would be nice.

  • The vase is trembling because some bitchy soprano is hitting the high notes. To me, this one seems like the most logical answer. If you see this light, throw the soprano out of the car. If this glass-shattering sound is coming from your cd player...well, even I can't help you there.

  • The plumber's ass-crack is exposed. Sort of along the same lines as the boxer shorts in the first theory, only on the other side. And he's hula dancing at the same time - as demostrated by the broken lines on either side. Now, I don't really know why a plumber would be bending over inside your car. But if one is, you don't need a light to tell you something is wrong.

I think I've proven that the auto industry should go back to the drawing board on this one. What is it?

It means your tire pressure is low. No, seriously, that's what the news said. I know. I KNOW, right?

What do you think it looks like?

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Butterflies and Hairballs

Hey . . . make sure you guys pop over to http://jauntyquills.com/ on Thursday where I'll be guest blogging. I'm giving away like three copies of my book. The blog is about Streeeetch . . . .ing.

Oh, the lessons you can learn from a seventeen month old. Recently while at my daughter’s house I really became a wiser woman. My little grandbaby taught me a valuable lesson of . . . avoidance, or you might call it deterrence. Yup, who knew a seventeen month old could be this smart?

You see, we were visiting my daughter and whenever my daughter would scold my precious little seventeenth-month-old granddaughter, she would first get this very sad look on her face and then she would look up at the ceiling and with wide expressive eyes she would say. . . “Butterflies.” She would even point her little finger up as if to say, look around, I’m sure I just spotted one.

My daughter wasn’t born yesterday and she already had a pretty good idea of what Lily was up to, but nevertheless, it was so cute, it brought all of us to laughter each and every time. And each and every time my granddaughter got exactly what she wanted from us, too. The scolding was over, the negative moment was gone and life was good again.

Let’s fast forward two weeks. I’m sitting at my desk. Hubby comes storming in the office in a snit. (You know what a snit is, don’t you?) Anyway he was fit to be tied with chains, not just rope, and he looked at me and asked, “Do you know that YOUR CAT left a very unpleasant surprise in our bed while I was napping?” In hubby’s defense, my cat is the only one I allow in our bedroom. And yes, Skitter can leave some serious hairballs on the bed and nothing is as unpleasant as rolling over, being half asleep, and finding yourself nose to nose with a hairball resting on your pillow. Hubby continued, “I simply do not get why this cat is allowed in the bedroom when he does things even worse than the others cat.” Okay, I’ll admit this, too. Skitter is the hairball king. He’s my one and only long-haired feline.

But to answer hubby’s question. Well, Skitter is special. He was/is feral, and he doesn’t get along with people or even the other animals. He only loves me and occasionally when hubby is in a good mood, he will tolerate hubby—even if it is only to leave a hairball on his pillow. However, my hubby knew this answer. I’d explained this numerous times, he was just angry at finding himself nose to nose with a hairball again.

So I did it.

While hubby was going full rant about hairballs on the pillow, I looked up at the ceiling and in total Lily fashion, I said, “Butterflies.”

Hubby stopped cold and burst out laughing. And I joined in, as well. And just like Lily, I was completely content. Hey . . . I’d avoided the rant session and we were laughing. What was so bad about that?

Anyway, I encourage you guys to try it, though I’m not sure if it will work on anyone who hasn’t watched Lily pull her precious little avoidance act. Nevertheless, it worked for me and from now on when the shit hits the fan, or when the hairballs hit the pillows at the Craig house, you will hear me . . . “Butterflies.”
So what lessons have you learned from a child? Any avoidance tactics you could share? I'm sure "Butterflies" won't last forever.

Monday, August 16, 2010

You Gotta Love Texas

I live in a rural farming community outside of Dallas. The nearest "city" is McKinney, Texas, which manages to have a Best Buy, Sams, Walmart, Lowes, etc. but not a single bookstore. (sigh) So I take a trip to Lowes yesterday and there's a building in the same strip center that used to be a Peter Piper Pizza, but closed down about a year ago. Apparently, people in McKinney do not think yucky pizza and overpriced video games are a good buy, but a new store opened up and I was shocked to see the parking lot full to the brim. So, wondering what kind of store was causing all the traffic in 100-degree heat on a Sunday afternoon and here's what I saw:

This is just sooooooo Texas. I laughed out loud, then of course, took a picture with my phone so that I could share. :)

Went to see The Expendables this weekend and enjoyed it. No, it doesn't have much of a plot. Yes, it is predictable. But if you want to see an ensemble cast of all the great 80's and 90's action heroes in one movie, it's lots of fun. Besides, it's got Jet Li. How can you not love Jet Li?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guest Blogger Maria Grazia Swan

Please welcome back one of my fav guest bloggers, Maria Grazia Swan!  Take it away, Maria...

I like tall men. I don’t mean Shaq tall, I mean about 5’10 to 6’. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m short. I’m about 5’1, and that’s only if I fluff my hair, otherwise my height drops below 5’.

This obsession with men’s height goes back to my teen years. It has to do with crowds. You see, if I walk in a crowd alone or with a short man, I feel like I’m suffocating, smothered, and above all, unnoticed. But walk through that crowd with a tall guy and voila, it’s like the parting of the Red Sea. I like that feeling a lot, so before going on a blind date I always inquire about height.

This blind date happened in a very unexpected way. I was shopping with my best friend Jen and as usual, she checks the racks of clothes with one hand while the other hand is busy texting. I hate that habit of hers. I had no idea who she was ‘conversing with’ but she had a big grin on her face so I figured it had to be a man. When she turned around and winked at me, I knew she was up to no good. Now I’m paying attention, I’m actually elbowing her and mouthing, “Who are you talking to?”

She is totally ignoring me while her fingers are tapping so fast I expect smoke to rise from that phone any minute now. Jen waits until we get to the car before telling me the news, we have a date for that evening; “Smile girl,” she says, “we are going to double date.”

Now, like I said, Jen is my best friend but that doesn’t mean we share the same taste when it comes to men. I remind her of that, but she isn’t letting go, she is on a mission. “You owe me one,” she says, “remember that time I told your mom you were spending the night at my house?” That was twenty five years ago and I want to forget so I agree, but I want to know how tall my date is. I’m keeping my eyes on the road and my hands on the steering wheel and I hear Jen sighing, then her fingers are tapping away on that phone again. “5’11,” she says, I sense a hint of arrogant satisfaction in her voice.

That evening I’m wearing my brand new platform shoes and my gauzy dress, and I sit and wait for Jen to pick me up with our dates. Time goes by, no Jen. My cell buzz and I know is Jen. “ It’s me, look I’m sorry, I need to stay home and watch my sister’s kid, my mother had to go back to work. I’m sending Skip to pick you up and we can hang around here until my mom gets back then we’ll catch a movie or something, okay?”

It’s not okay, but she already disconnected and I know she won’t answer if I call back. I’m fuming! Who the hell is Skip? Now there is a text message on my phone, “Skip is your date, take your time, I’m headed that way with Charles.”

Shit, that’s Jen for you. I hear an engine by the drive way and I peek from the mini blinds. A red Audi is parked by the house, I don’t see anyone in the car, then a car door slams, I wait, nothing. OMYGOD! A child like person walks around the car, coming toward my front door. He takes little steps, what else can he do with such short legs. Then it hits me, damn you Jen. That’s why she isn’t here; she knows I’ll kill her. I’m still standing by the window, frozen, what now? The doorbell chimes. I’m not moving, I’m holding my breath, afraid he’ll hear me breathing. This is a scene worth of a funny commercial, I’m surprise the little man can reach the door bell, maybe he carries a folding stool. He rings the doorbell again. I’m feeling like a miserable coward. I quietly remove my platform shoes, tiptoe to my bedroom and close the door. I don’t know when he finally gave up and left, but I turned off my cell phone and didn’t speak to Jen for a whole week.

~ Maria Grazia Swan

Maria Grazia Swan is an author and motivational speaker who shares relationship advice and guidance for women re-entering the social/dating scene. Maria empowers and encourages single women to be bold, fearless, and sexy in their pursuit of life and love after age 45. An award recipient from the Women’s National Book Association, Swan is the author of Boomer Babes: True Tales of Love and Lust in the Later Years (Leisure Books). Visit

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mothers, Daughters & Shoes

Hey . . . Here's an essay I wrote several years back. I thought you guys might enjoy it.

They had to be the ugliest pair of shoes I'd ever seen. I reached down into the box and picked one up. Black and brown speckled, pointed toes, flat squatty heels, and, to add insult to injury, they had a black spandex strap across the top. I turned it over in my hand and stared at the gold label telling me this item was genuine leather. Mother had actually paid good money for these.

I found the letter beneath the other surprises, candy for my husband and a stuffed valentine bear for my year old daughter. The sweet-scented candles, like the shoes, were marked for me. The letter explained that she'd bought the shoes for herself, but found them too narrow and hoped I'd like them. I felt a little better to learn they hadn't been chosen for me.

I placed the shoes on the kitchen island. As I finished dinner that night I wondered what I would tell her when I made my weekly long distance call. I debated over several polite thank-you-I-love-thems, then I decided to go with my first choice. "Yes, they're great. But they're the kind of shoes that have to be worn with that perfect outfit." It sounded good, and it was true, even though I would never look for that outfit. If I ever ran across it, it would be my mother's style, which meant I'd never be caught dead in it. Of course I wouldn't tell her that. Not that I hadn't told her this, or worse in my earlier years. We had never seen eye to eye on styles or much else.

My husband walked in from work and the first thing he saw were those shoes. He picked them up, shook his head and laughed. It was a subtle reminder that at least we had the same taste, but then it also reminded me that he didn't appreciate my mother's taste. "I hope you didn't pay good money for these," he said.

I frowned at him. "Mother sent them."

"Oh." His mouth clamped shut and he knew better than to say another word. I knew he couldn't say a thing I hadn't already thought and frankly he liked my mother. Yet as far as I was concerned, he enjoyed laughing a little too much at the idiosyncrasies that made her "her".

"I know a lot of people who admire her eccentricities," I told this to my husband in her defense. And in reality it was true. Most of the time no one other than myself and my husband seemed to notice her choice of clothes or trendy hair styles. And I often wondered if he would have noticed if I hadn't pointed them out. But then again, he had reacted to the shoes. That evening I took them up to my closet where I figured they'd be forgotten in a matter of days.

Imagine our surprise the next morning when we found our daughter doing one of her many cute firsts. She'd gotten in our closet and was attempting to walk in grown-up shoes. I'm sure I don't have to tell you which pair she'd chosen.

We both brushed it off as coincidence. In a few days I offered her my old pair of bright red pumps, but she would have nothing to do with them.

For months I would drag the shoes from her toy box back to my closet, where she would eventually find them. The years passed and Mother sent and brought gifts regularly, many of them shoes. I would shake my head, and my daughter would shriek in delight. In time we grew to accept that our daughter shared a common thread with her grandmother.

It was just a few weeks ago when I was going through my closet getting ready for a big garage sale. The shoes my daughter had finally lost interest in were tucked way in the back. I tossed them in the bag of "definite goes", but then I stopped and retrieved them.

Oddly they no longer seemed so ugly. Yes, they were different and still not my style, yet it wasn't just how they looked or didn't look, or the memory of my daughter stumbling around playing grown-up that affected me. They meant something. They symbolized my mother and my daughter; they stood for the differences in the three of us. They stood for our love and the bond that would always unite us. They were like a memorial of our acceptance of each other as individuals.

I put the shoes back on the shelf and I knew I would never part with them. I wondered then and I wonder now if someday my daughter will see me as an eccentric old lady who has a strange sense of taste. Or will I always be shaking my head at her choice of styles? I can only hope that she will tolerate, accept and admire our differences as I have grown to do with my mother. And who knows, maybe one day I'll find that perfect outfit to match those shoes. If I'm lucky, it will be in my daughter's size.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

STIFF - It's Not What You Think...

So, I'm reading this book by science writer, Mary Roach, called Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers. I know, so predictable...

It is a very funny and engaging book. Roach writes about the different uses of human cadavers, from medical research, to organ donation, to testing the effects of weapons or landmines on human body parts. By the way - not pleasant - in case you were wondering.

It got me thinking about what I want to do with my remains. Of course, I am an organ donor. No point in me keeping them considering how I won't be using them anymore. But once they've harvested myliver, heart, eyes (I'm donating my glasses too), spleen and pancreas, what to do with the overall carcass when done?

Now, I know I'd always said I'd be taxidermied so Mr. A could prop me in the corner with a huge grin and a wave. We even talked about motorizing me with my other hand up holding a tray to offer martinis to guests.

Now, that has changed. I see now that I could serve a more useful purpose for all mankind. So here are my options:

  • Use my carcass as a crash test dummy. I would have to insist on testing in a Porsche - as it might be my only chance to ever drive one. And I insist on wearing a formal Armani gown at the time. Do I even need to mention the Jimmy Choo shoes? Would it be possible to have liposuction beforehand? I don't think that's too much to ask.

  • Testing for nonlethal weapons. I would prefer the nonlethal weapons used in Mystery Men - like the Blame Thrower (I'm dead, so how much blame would I take?) or the Shrinker (like I'd feel that wedgie). Even as a carcass I don't want to try the beanbag shooter. I saw Jackass. That bruise didn't go away for weeks.

  • I think there should be something where the dead have to try on designer clothing - something where it would make fashion safer for the living. (It might be my only opportunity to wear a Pucci gown and I think I'd need to hold an Oscar to make it real.) They need cadavers to do that, right?

Under NO circumstances are they to practice plastic surgery on me. They use cadaver heads to practice various techniques. If I didn't get it in life, no one gives it to me in death. There's only so much you can do to leave a pretty corpse. I don't want to look better after I'm dead than I did in life.

What would you do?

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who the heck is C.C. Hunter? And why am I posting her cover on my blog? Well, I could tell you that I think she’s a pretty decent writer. I could tell you how she’s a fairly nice person, and a total babe, but not only would I be stretching the babe part, but I’m southern and was trained not to say nice things about myself. Yup, C.C. Hunter is the name I’m using for my paranormal young adult series Shadow Falls. The first book, Born at Midnight, is scheduled to release in April 2011.

So what is Born at Midnight about? Glad you asked. It’s about a teenage girl who has spent sixteen years trying to figure out her destiny, attempting to discover who she is, only to realize she doesn’t even know what she is. Below is my short blurb.
* * *

Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her parents are getting a divorce. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. Her grandmother died and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who seems to be able to see the stalker. And that gets her sent to a psychologist’s sofa.

The kooky psychologist gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

It’s a camp of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape shifters. And if she believes the camp leader, Kylie is one of them, too.

Just because she’s seeing ghosts, just because she was born at midnight, does that really mean she’s not human? And if so, what is she? Not even the other supernaturals can tell her.

As Kylie attempts to cope with the realization that these creatures actually exist, and that she might even be one of them, the ever present stalker/ghost appears to have secrets that could unravel the mystery of Kylie’s identity and her destiny.

But getting a ghost to open up is as hard as getting a guy to talk about his feelings.

As Kylie struggles to find answers, two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vie for her attention. However, Kylie’s determined that before she lets her heart discover a new love, she needs to solve her indentify crisis and unearth the truth of her destiny.

* * *

I just finished the second book in the series and I’m having a blast with these characters. The plot is a tad darker than my adult romances, but as you might imagine, it still has my humor. I just can’t stop the wisecracks from appearing on the page.

While Kylie is young, she’s dealing with something I think most of us deal with throughout our lives. Self discovery: Who are we? How do we fit in? And are we fulfilling our destinies? Are we on the right path?

When St. Martin’s Press came to me and asked if I would write a young adult series, I came so close to saying no. I was afraid to try something new, to take a chance on a new genre, a new publisher, and a new editor. Now I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am that I didn’t allow my fears to stop me from traveling down this new path.

Don’t worry, I’m still writing my crazy humorous romantic suspense novels, but by taking a chance I’m now writing crazy paranormal young adult novels. And yes, I do believe it was part of my destiny.

So here’s what I’d like to hear from you guys today. How are you doing on the road to your own self discovery? Do you know what you wanna be when you grow up? Even more important, are you still growing, learning, opening yourself up to all life has to offer? And I don’t care how old you are, you know what I mean. Are you doing what makes you happy, or are you holding off waiting for something to change before you take a chance on yourself? When opportunity knocks, are you answering the door? Or are you running to the bathroom, claiming you ate bad chicken, and not answering that knock?

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Foot Saga

Before I launch into the foot saga, just wanted to share with you that our friend Antoine is officially viral on the Internet. He now has a t-shirt line and a ringtone. There's also a rap version of his interview on YouTube. Just search "Antoine" and you can find that and a post-interview interview.

So the foot. Well, remember I had that ganglion cyst drained on my foot - it came back. And with a vengence, so repeat of process. But this time, the entire foot was swollen and it wouldn't go down. So I'm trying anti-inflammatories and soaking it and wrapping it and propping it up, but nothing. Finally had to get a steroid shot because I could barely even put on a flip flop. So I'm standing outside, mostly on one leg, last Thursday night to water my trees. It's hot as heck here and the trees need more water as they're fairly new. Bogey, the Sheltie was outside with me, doing his running/jumping routine that only a dog descended from agility champions can do. He hasn't been outside much lately because of the heat, but I let him play some in the hose.

We go back inside and then an hour later, he's limping. By the morning, he wouldn't even step off the patio to go pee. So I had to limp into the vet with my limping dog on Friday morning. $200 later, I leave with anti-inflammatories for the dog because he sprained his toe. Seriously. A sprained toe. I don't think it was a sympathy sprain, but it's certainly odd timing.

Here's a pic of him sleeping off the great pain of the toe:

In case you can't quite figure it out, he's upside down in the chair with his head hanging off the seat. You can just make out the tip of his nose. In his non-injured-toe days, he also likes to sleep in odd ways:

As a parting gift - you've seen those motivational posters, right? The ones on Success, Positive Thinking, etc. And my guess is many of you have seen the de-motivational posters - especially, the epic Fail posters. Here's one to share that we can all appreciate:

That's all I've got this morning - have a great week!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, August 06, 2010

My New Website

I'm deep in the middle of revisions on my first ever young adult book (I'm so totally, like, loving being able to write like a teen and get away with it 'n' stuff!), so this is going to be a total fly-by posting today.  But, I had to share... the brand new and improved www.GemmaHalliday.com is up and running!  I've been burning up my Photoshop program trying to get it done by the time my next book, THE PERFECT SHOT, comes out (Aug 24th!!!), and I think she's there.  You guys are the first ones getting a look at it so PLEASE tell me if you see any wonky formatting (it's so hard to get code that works all the time on all browsers and settings) or links that go nowhere.

Lemme know what you think!

'k, back to my revision cave...

~Trigger (and Photoshop) Happy Halliday


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thursday Movie Review

Save your money. That's the most polite thing I can say about Dinner For Schmucks. Seriously. And save your time. Unless you enjoy incredibly poor writing and a plot that is completely NOT possible along with overacting by Steve Carell.

The premise of the movie is that to play with the big boys at his company, Paul Rudd has to invite an idiot to a corporate dinner. Everyone brings an idiot so that the employees can laugh behind their back and the employee with the biggest idiot wins. So Rudd wants a promotion to impress his girlfriend and enter Steve Carell, who creates shadow boxes and large-scale scenes with dressed dead rats. See, you're laughing already - not.

Here's my problem as a writer with this plot. It uses the comedy of errors mechanism to start the trouble, but the trouble does not grow from one inciting incident as it should. In a true comedy of errors, one person starts something that runs like dominos and the other character has to deal with it. In crappy writing, one person (Steve Carell) continually creates drama because there is not enough cohesion or plot to continue the story without it. Every drama he creates could also be solved with a single sentence explanation or a call to the police. I can suspend disbelief, but not for over an hour and a half of a two-hour movie.

I am afraid that Steve Carell has become the new Jim Carey of Hollywood in that people think he is funny enough to carry anything. He's not. Jim Carey wasn't either. Without a good script, they are NOT funny. Making faces is not funny. Overacting is not funny.

The only funny part was the actual dinner scene, which was about 10 minutes at the end of the movie.

This was a huge disappointment and another head-shaker for me. All the great books out there with fabulous plots and this is what gets a movie. Really?

Deadly (Disappointed) DeLeon

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

They're Baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Remember two years ago when I had that weird space plant? I named him Bob. You guys helped me figure out that he was a 7 ft. tall great mullein plant.

There are more. Bob has been very busy.

There are twelve. Well, not anymore. I had to take them down. But there were twelve. And it was impressive. Like our own little space jungle in the back yard where humans are hunted by alien bounty hunters. Over rocks. In the dry creekbed measuring 9ft by 4ft.

The great mullein was brought over from Europe in the seventeenth century. It's leaves were boiled to make medicinal tea or smoked for, um, other reasons. It's seeds are microscopic and can cause severe neurological disorders in guinea pigs. (Did you know I have two guinea pigs?)

The plant sprouts one year and then shoots up 6 or 7 feet the next. And no, I haven't made tea or smoked the plants. One of my uncles took a couple of leaves to, um, try but I haven't heard back from him on the, um, subject.

Most of my friends and family think I'm nuts for keeping them as pets, naming them and refusing to take them down. Well, I guess I did finally take them down - but that's just nitpicking.

Oh well, I tell them. I can have a neat, well-manicured lawn or I can be interesting. (BTW this is the same philosophy I have for a clean house, Gold honor roll kids and a car that doesn't smell like rotting french fries with a picant hint of dead body.)

You can't have both.

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Conference Daze

You know that look you see in someone’s eyes? The one that says, lights are on but nobody is home and they may not be back for a long, long time? The look that when you say something to someone they don’t just stare at you as if they don’t speak English, they stare right through you, as if you aren’t even real. Well, I got that look. Seriously people, stick a fork in me, I’m done. Well, done until tomorrow.

Ahh, but I had a blast! We’re talking rooming with two writing buddies, laughing and chatting into the wee hours of the morning. Do you know everything seems funny at one in the morning? One of those roommates was a Golden Heart Finalist. Even though she didn’t win the GH, I just know she’s gonna sell that book.

Conferences are the best place to meet and mingle. I’m talking lunch with old friends, lunch with new friends and fans. Thank you, Kara, a teacher from Arkansas, who came to see several writers at the book signing. Also in the picture is Faye Hughes, the woman who stole my pillow!

The conference was filled with good times, as in ice cream with writing buddies—Caramel cappuccino with hot fudge—buddies who talked with funny accents and who had close relationship with their cheese fries. (Meaning, don’t try and steal one off the plate if you want to keep your fingers.) But hey, they did share their onion rings. However, I’m not going to say much about their accents, or love of cheese fries, because they are my witnesses that I did NOT pull the fire alarm. I know, you’ve all heard that Faye thinks I do this just to get her to exercise by walking down the stairs, but even if our floor was the only floor that got evacuated, I swear I was innocent and Stacy and Donna should be able to vouch for me—in funny accents, of course.

Oh, I also went to parties. We’re talking sushi and karaoke with my agent and her other clients. No raw fish for me, thank you, I made sure my appetizers were cooked. You see, I’m from Alabama and my people invented fire for a reason. And I’m told on the same day we invented Crisco. I mean, we’ll eat anything deep fried. Why, back home I was schooled on how to make any living thing--snake, squirrel, and pigeon taste like chicken. However, I enjoyed the BookEnds party and most of the appetizers. I enjoyed the edamame, but I would have enjoyed them more if someone had told me I wasn’t supposed to eat the pod. Let’s just say I got plenty of fiber and leave it at that. Ahh, but I wasn’t the only one. The writer sitting across from me did the same thing. You should have seen the looks we were trying not to give each other as we managed to swallow those pods.

Now, I didn’t sing. After you swallow an edamame pod, the throat is a little scratchy. Ahh, but seriously, I love to sing, unfortunately not very many people love to hear me sing. Have you ever been thrown out of a church choir? I have.

Nevertheless, my agent, Kim Lionetti, and Jessica Faust were two brave souls and they had their turn at the microphone. I’m sure they will be receiving voice contracts soon. Even if they don’t roll in, I didn’t see my ol’ choir director having a chat with them.

Faye and I with the help of agent Kim Lionetti and editor Rose Hilliard, did a workshop. I think we did okay. I told everyone the mattress story, I got a few giggles, and at the end I gave everyone a peek at my thousands of rejections. Well, all of them except the ones that my cat tiddled on. I keep them in a separate envelope. Funny thing was, I left Houston and forgot to bring those rejections with me, even though our workshop was about surviving rejections. I had to pay to get those suckers overnighted to Disney. Seriously people, I didn’t like receiving those rejections the first go round, and paying to receive them a second time just felt wrong. Ahh, but I did it because I really think other writers need to know that we’re all rejected and we should never give up. Even when it seems tough, when you think you’ll never accomplish it. That’s sort of how I felt when I was trying to chew up that edamame pod.

Then there’s the roll thief. At one of the luncheons my writing partner was having lunch at a table with other writers. She was feeling rather ravenous, and had just buttered her roll up, the last roll in the basket, and had only eaten a few bites, when the woman sitting beside her reached over and took the roll off Faye’s bread plate and proceeded to eat it. I’m so proud of Faye for not calling the woman on the roll thievery. She’s a better person than I am, because I didn’t let her get by with stealing my pillow. However, you should have seen her at all the rest of the dinners, she kept as close an eye on her roll as some people did their cheese fries. I’m joking about the cheese fries, I’ll bet Donna would have shared if I’d asked, but the way she was holding her fork sort of scared me. I think it was the same look I gave Faye when she stole my pillow!

I woke up every morning at the conference in a state of wonder. I wondered what pair of shoes I was going to allow the pleasure of torturing my feet that day. Can you say Band-Aids? Personally, I think they should sell knee-highs make out of Band-Aids. Hey…don’t anyone steal that idea, I invented it first.

Ahh, but guys, the conference was so wonderful. I got to thank Susan Andersen in person for her wonderful book quote that Dorchester put on the cover of Shut Up and Kiss Me. I got to shake hands with Christie Ridgway and Susan Elisabeth Phillips. Do you think some of their talent will rub off on me? Linda Howard and Beverly Barton, Alabama gals who I’m sure can also deep fry anything and make it taste like Chicken too, actually gave me a hug. I’m sure I became a better writer instantly.

I partied it up with Ruth Kenjura at my chapter’s annual Friday night wine and cheese get-together. Met a lot of great gals, too. Overall, the conference was a big success. Had a lot of laughs, got a lot of hugs, and shook a lot of great writers’ hands. So here’s to the writing buddies, and to friendships.

So what did you do this week? Any news to share? Books that can’t be missed? Come on share a little.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Worst Antagonist - Best Secondary Character

So a fellow writer caught this on the evening news, searched the net, and sure enough the clip was available online. This has got to be one of the funniest things I have seen in forever. Not just because it's real but because the villain has got to be the dumbest human being in the world and the (almost) victim's brother, Antoine, is THE secondary character we all want for our humor books. Take a peek and just try not to laugh - I dare you:

Click Here!

I understand that Antoine has already begun his viral reign of the Internet and clips are making their way around YouTube. I personally think Antoine should get his own five-minute spot each night on the local news to tell us the "real" story about what's going on in Lincoln Park.

Deadly (Highly Entertained) DeLeon