Friday, April 30, 2010

Lost in Translation

Please welcome special guest blogger Maria Grazia Swan! Take it away, Maria...

After 30 years in the States, I still have an Italian accent. When I go back to Italy the family tells me I have an American accent. Go figure. Even before the coming of caller ID, I couldn’t make anonymous phone calls. I would barely say “Hello,” and the person on the other end would say; “Oh, hi Maria, how are you?” And being a bit slow on the uptake, I would ask; “How did you know it was me?” Accents can be tricky because it’s easy to forget you have one.

When you meet new people, they will either love or hate your accent. It has nothing to do with you personally; it is strictly related to the understanding factor. If they understand you, they like the accent, if they don’t, well, they don’t.
Years ago, someone from my “English as a Second Language” class, told me that the only state you can pronounce without anyone guessing your accent is “Ohio.” So for months, while waiting in line at the DMV, or standing alone in the elevator, or sitting in public bathrooms, I would practice, “Ohio, Ohio.” Why, you ask? I have no idea. Maybe, you know, just in case I was on a plane being hijacked and I needed to convince a terrorist that I’m really American?

When my kids where in high school, on rainy days, if they had nothing to do, they’d haul home some of their friends and ask me to pronounce difficult words for their entertainment. Their favorites were “hurt” and “hearth,” and “beach” and…that word that rhymes with “witch.”

Just when I begin to think that I’m getting control of the accent thing, my computer provider outsources the technical help to India. The person I reach, who says his name is Brandon-yeah, like that’s his real name-can’t understand me and vice versa. So, in desperation, we are spelling. Here is how it goes:

“Swan, my last name is Swan, S as in Sam, w as in wedding, a as in apple, and n as in Nancy.”

Brandon says: “Okay I got that. S as in serpent, w as in wasabi, a as in alligator, n as in Nairobi.”

Somehow I don’t think Brandon is from sunny California.

Like I said, I’m so used to my own accent it hardly bothers me at all, unless I’m with some of my friends or family who came to America after me and yet have no accent at all. They make fun of me! The other day. I was grocery shopping with my grandson and I ran into my friend Joe, who has the distinctive Italian habit of expressing himself with his hands, but no verbal accent. I said to my grandson, “Why don’t you run and get me a cart instead of playing around.” He takes off, and I wait by the frozen food aisle and talk to Joe about his wife’s health. Time goes by. I’m getting very chilly. My lips are turning blue, and, my feet are falling asleep, and still the kid isn’t back. I’m about to go looking for him when he shows up, but he has no cart. He hands me a pack of playing cards with a big smile on his face. “Here Nonna, Boy, it was hard to find them!”
Joe’s roaring laughter cooled the atmosphere in the frozen food aisle by another few degrees.

I admit, I haven’t tried very hard to lose my accent: I haven’t tried to Americanize my speech-in fact, I wouldn’t even try to say the word “Americanize.” An accent is a great conversation starter, even if during the conversation I have to spell out the occasional word and a few ideas are lost in translation.

~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, April 29, 2010

No Fear: The Agent Search Continues!

Last week I embarked on my 'Great Agent Search' and shared a not-so-stellar moment in my pursuit of new literary representation. In short, I totally wasn't on my game when I had the chance to pitch to a super-dooper agent who shall remain nameless. At the time I wanted to pull my tongue out and hang myself with it. Now that some days have passed since my motor mouth went into overdrive, I've told myself it just wasn't meant to be. There are other fabulous agents out there just waiting to hear from me. In that vein, I sucked it up and decided to get back up on that 'hoss'.

And a more obstinate, stubborn, mule-headed horse you won't find.

The 'horse's' name?

Query, of course.

That's right. I decided to draft (and redraft) the infamous query letter. Since so many agents are going green and encouraging e:queries, I decided I'd better blow the dust off mine and get it ready for prime time. This is about as much fun as pulling the friggin' purple ivy known as Creeping Charlie out of my lawn by hand, clump by clump by clump.

I hate writing queries. And synopses. Since I was still smarting from my first try at casting my line for an agent and hooking myself in the rear in the process, I decided to devote my time to working on the perfect query.

I read over previous ones I'd written which had garnered book contracts. I looked at samples of other authors' queries. Read the query guidelines for the next agent on the list and came up with a succinct, but informative, query letter. It took me all week.

Here are a few things I've learned regarding the drafting of a query letter:

  1. Start with a catchy line if possible. The query for my book, FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS, I began with the line, "Who Are You Seeing?" It set a tone consistent with the project right off the bat.
  2. Be able to sum up your book's GMC in one sentence: Example: A ditzy wanabe reporter is out to solve a murder no one believes happened.
  3. Don't use a phrase like, 'In the tradition of' unless you can really back it up.
  4. Clearly convey in your query your knowledge of where your book fits (picture Kathy wincing here) and mention a line or lines you are targeting.
  5. If you have contest wins or finals, pick a few of the most prestigious to mention.
  6. Include why you are uniquely qualified to write what you write. (i.e. 'former state trooper and consumer protection investigator with a degree in criminal justice')
  7. Make every word count.
  8. Have lots and lots of chocolate on hand.
I emailed my revised, rewritten query off last week. So far, no response. Still, the agency's website indicates a response time of two weeks so there's still hope.
In the meantime, I do what every savvy writer hoping for 'the call' (or email) does at times like this. I move on to the next book
If you have any tips for writing a blockbuster query, please share. No telling how many of these puppies I'll have to send out.
Hope you're having a great week!
~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scare My Kid, Please...

Yes, I'm totally serious. I need help scaring my 12-yr old. I've tried Bill Cosby's Chicken Heart, The Thing (which the Boston Globe calls the scariest movie ever), Paranormal Activity, Alien, even The Ring. She yawned. And then she asked me why any of those things were scary.

When I was 14, we had a sleepover and watched Halloween. I didn't sleep for a month. When I was 8, I had this very strange fear of swallowing my tongue. (As I write this, I'm trying to see if I can.) When I was 9, I would check out every book from the library on vampires and sleep with three scarves around my throat, holding a crucifix my mom had on the wall (and no, I didn't burst into flame.)

And yet, my daughter, the one who sleeps with the light on...the one who freaked out when we came home and the screen was off the front window (due to one obese cat - not a psycho killer awaiting our return from trumpet lessons)...has yet to find a movie, book or tv show that scares her.

This is probably my fault. When the kids were toddlers, we would have Lord of the Ring movie marathons. The Orcs frightened me more than them. AND, they have no fear of clowns either (maybe I should try It?). My ex-brother-in-law feared clowns above all else. He had a t-shirt that said, "Can't Sleep...Clowns Will Eat Me..."

I'm open to your wise suggestions, my evil minions. Help me scare my kid.

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good Shopping Day--Bad Shopping Day

Tomorrow me, and my writing partner, Faye Hughes, are guest blogging over at the amazing Margie Lawson's blog. We'll be giving away a copy of the The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel. So pop on over tomorrow!
Margie's blog.

While you guys read this, I’m belted to my seat, sitting next to a stranger, probably trying to sell her a book. Yup, I’m jetting off to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Romantic Times Convention. Can you say PARTY? RT conventions are one big sun-up to sun-down party. I’m talking wine, chocolate martinis, hot shirtless cover models, and that’s before breakfast. The party doesn’t end until the wee hours of the morning after dancing, and more wine and martinis. And I’m good for about a day of it. I have no idea what I will do the other four days.

Of course, I have been in training this last week for the event. Serious, hard-on-the-body, rigorous training. It’s called shopping. And that gets me to the subject of this blog. I know, you’re probably thinking you prefer me to blog about the hot shirtless guys. Maybe I can cover that next week. I’ll even try to bring back a few pictures. It all depends on how many of those martinis I have.

Before I get into my shopping adventure, let me make a confession. I was born with a handicap. I was born without the shopping gene. Basically what I’m saying is that not only do I not like to shop, I dread it. I personally think what happened is that my mom sucked the gene out of my DNA when I was in her womb. She is a shopaholic to the max. The woman lives to shop. Just last week, I got a whole box of new clothes from her because she went shopping and didn’t need anything herself and decided to just shop for me instead. Hey . . . I didn’t complain. She actually sent several items I’m taking to RT with me.

Ahh, but I still had to do it. I had to leave the comfort of my office, had to explain to my characters that they were going to be stuck in a scene for a few days because I needed to venture out into very dangerous territory. So I left them kissing. I even gave them instructions of what to do if I didn’t come back. Hey . . . The Mall is very scary place for me.

Of course, I also had to set my very frugal hubby down to give him “the talk.” I explained what I was about to undergo. I reminded him how much I hated doing it. I reminded him how little I did it. Meaning, I needed a lot of stuff. I’m talking shoes, knee highs, underwear, pants, shirts, jackets, make up, make-up bags, and even some new luggage. Then I warned him--warned him that I hated shopping so much that I simply could not add to my burden by bargain shopping. If I saw it, if the item caught my eye or called my name, it was coming home with me even if I had to handcuff it and drag it, and I probably wouldn’t even check the price tag. After he regained consciousness, and had some time to think about it, he wished me luck. You gotta love this guy. Hey . . . he really is a keeper and looked kind of cute hog-tied to the chair while he contemplated the right thing to say.

So, I made a list, a very long list, and while I knew I was probably being optimistic, I hoped to get it all done in one day. Then knowing how stressful this whole event was going to be for me, I did the ultimate. I dangled a carrot out in front of me, hoping to inspire me to live through the event. I made a four o’clock appointment to get a massage.

Carrying a bundle of stress in my shoulders, I hit the pavement as soon as the doors opened. The first place I went I found exactly what I was looking for and in my size and on sale. Wow! The stress in my shoulders lessened. The second place didn’t have what I wanted, but I found a good alternative, again on sale. Oh, and the store clerks were all so friendly and helpful. Double wow!

I even stopped off and got a large diet Coke and a chicken sandwich. I moved from store to store, marking off items on my list as I went. Amazingly, I was having fun. Maybe, I wasn’t so handicapped as I thought, maybe I had just a bit of my mother in me after all. But I wasn’t half way through my list when I realized the time. I rushed away, bags hanging from my arms, my muscles slightly sore, and went to get my massage.

Ahh, heaven.

Then the next day arrived. I was optimistic that my luck would hold. Not so! It was the shopping day from hell. You know when you can’t find anything in the right color or size? When, there isn’t a person in the store to help you. And when you finally find someone, they’re on the phone chatting about their date last night. She really needs to drop that boyfriend!

Oh, and let me tell you, I will probably be the only woman at RT wearing a navy suit. How do I know this? Well, I ordered the suit online from Travel Smith (I love their clothes by the way) all I needed was a shell to wear under the jacket. Guess what? There isn’t a shell with navy in it in Houston. Navy’s not the in color this year. And finding a pair of navy shoes was like finding a decent guy in a titty bar. There just weren’t that many to be found. I don’t want to tell you about the search for my bras. I mean, at the prices they charge to support my girls, it looks like it would behoove them to have my size available. Three stores I had to go to get my girls the support they needed. Of course, they were on the opposite sides of the mall. And it’s a big mall, too. Then the ultimate happened. I forgot where I parked. Oh, and then I thought I’d lost my keys, because I’d accidentally put them in a different compartment of my purse. Ever had that happen?

By the time I got home from the second shopping event, no massage this time, my feet hurt like a bear, my head was pounding, I think I’d sprung a muscle in my calf, everything I’d bought that day suddenly didn’t look good, one was in the wrong size, and the knots the masseuse got out of my shoulders had all returned with a vengeance.

How could I have one perfect shopping day and then one screwed-up shopping-mare? Any experienced shoppers out there have a bit of wisdom to offer a shopping-impaired writer with big blisters on her feet? Do you guys love to shop? Am I the only shopping handicapped woman out there? Thank goodness I do conferences better than I shop. Hopefully, I’ll arrive in Columbus soon and get connected to internet and be able to respond to all your comments.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Idol Update

I've been lax, I know. We're down to six(?) contestants and I haven't yet done my Idol review. I think a lot of that might be because one person is clearly light years above the rest and all the rest are good enough to have won any other season before now. Let's face it, as time goes on, some of the early season finalists wouldn't have made it past the try-outs.

So my prediction is that Crystal Bowersoxs should win the entire thing. If she wins depends totally on whether or not America actually votes for the most talented or the one who seems the nicest or the cutest or the least gay or whatever ridiculous criteria people use to judge a SINGING competition.

I also really like Siobhan and Lee. Furthermore, I do not know why everyone gives Casey such a hard time. He can't help it if he's beautiful and he could be the next Stevie Ray Vaughn. He seems to have the guitar ability to pull it off and the same bluesy sound.

So are you watching? Who are your favs?

And in closing, I'll leave you with a link that I got the biggest kick out of. Apparently, this dude lives with his old, cranky father and started tweeting things his dad says. Well, it's so funny that's he's going to get a book deal out of it.

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ebooks - wadda ya think?

Last week I mentioned the Book of my Heart on this blog, VIVA LAS VEGAS. It’s the one that got away, the book I really loved writing, really has a lot of myself in it, and is closest to my heart. It’s also, unfortunately, still unpublished. For one reason or another it’s had bad luck, bad timing, and just doesn’t fall into a very marketable niche with publishers. Which, honestly, I totally understand. Hey, if they don’t think they can sell it well, I certainly don’t want them pouring a bunch of money into it. But, even so, I still love this book.

Which has got me thinking about non-traditional publishing.

A good friend of mine, Kristen Painter, decided this week to put one of her unpublished books, Heart of Fire, up for sale herself as an ebook. She put together a fabulous cover and uploaded the whole thing to Smashwords. She’s done it as half experiment, just to see how well ebooks are really selling and if that really is where the new market is at. (Kristen is also contracted with traditional NY publishers with other books, but this particular one, like VIVA LAS VEGAS, just hadn’t found a home.)

Coincidentally, I talked with another good friend of mine, J.R. Rain, this week, who is also into the ebook self-publishing. He has several titles available on Amazon in the Kindle format, and is incredibly pleased with his sales, especially since he’s not traditionally published, and this is his first go at building a readership.

So, here’s my question: are readers really using ebook devises? Do they love them? What are they willing to pay in terms of ebooks?

To that end, I’m doing an informal poll here today. Please vote and please feel free to pass this along to anyone else you can think of who might vote. (The more answers I get the better!) And if you have any thoughts about ebooks – good or bad, as a writer or reader – please comment!

Survey Results -

Get This - Survey Results -

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Writing is NOT for Wimps...or the Great Agent Search Begins

Okay. This is probably risky. Maybe career-killing. But what the heck. As Helen Keller said, 'Life is either a daring adventure or...nothing.' Let's hope my coin toss comes up 'daring adventure' rather than the sobering alternative.

I'm finally ready to officially begin my agent search. I tweaked the heck out of the three finished projects I've been working on. I've updated my Young Adult Middle Reader series. I've cut down my rom suspense series to fit category guidelines. And I've added over 15,000 words to my women's crime fiction series. So I'm good to go. And I may regret this, but in the next several weeks I'm going to be blogging about my search. The good, the not-so-good, and the downright ugly. Which brings me to my first foray into the hunt for new representation. The 'ugly' was all me--and it wasn't a pretty sight.

Now normally I don't get rattled or nervous when I talk to an industry professional. I was a state trooper. I read people their Miranda Rights, cuffed them and stuffed them into the back of my patrol car.

Chatting with a prospective agent?

Piece of cake.

Unfortunately, in the case of my initial agent contact, I might have been better off if I'd stuck said cake in my mouth so as to avoid the attack of diarrhea mouth I experienced during our phone conversation.

Permit me to set the stage. I'd done my homework. I'd researched agents, obtained recommendations, etc. So late last week I made contact with an agent high on my list of agents 'to-die-for'. I knew it was a long-shot. The agent typically doesn't represent Young Adult work, especially Middle Level projects. But, optimist that I am, I figured you can't hit the stars if you don't shoot for the moon. (I know. Lame.) So, I typed out a 'cheat sheet' with a short intro, proposal overviews, and questions and made contact with this Super Agent.

I'm sitting at my computer desk gnawing on a white chocolate bunny left over from Easter when my home phone rang. I stared at the caller ID, saw it was the Super Agent, and completely panicked.

I wasn't ready! I was in my grubby sweatpants. My breakfast consisted of Mr. Leftover Easter Bunny. And I'd misplaced my 'cheat sheet' notes.

Breathless--and nervous as he!!--I picked up the phone, struck almost immediately with the worst case of 'Diarrhea Mouth' ever documented.

I babbled. I repeated myself. I think my voice even cracked a time or two.

In short, I was a blithering idiot.

Here's a short sample of my 'performance':

Super Agent: What genre does your big book fit in?

Me: Well, you see, that's kind of hard to say because it's s really a melding of several genres. You know. A hybrid--

Super Agent: But where would it be shelved? In stores? What genre?

Me: That's hard to say. It's like, you know, um, crime fiction but with a strong women's fiction component.

Super Agent: I don't think I'm interested.

I must tell you Super Agent was a class act, the epitome of patience and understanding, thanking me for thinking of her before declining representation. (Imagine that!)

I thanked Super Agent for her time and ended the call---and proceeded to bite the damned head off that ridiculous white chocolate bunny.

Okay. So even ex Super Crimefighters can be intimidated by Super Agents sometimes.

Never one to give up in the face of adversity, it's time to pull myself up by my bootstraps and continue the search for the perfect agent.

Still, a little 'tea and sympathy' couldn't hurt. Sniff. Sniffle. Sniff.

Until next week, this is 'Diarrhea Mouth' signing off.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old Fashioned Lithographs...

Remember the '70's? Yeah, me too, sadly. Sigh. Anyway, I was talking to a colleague a few months ago and she was watching the air bubble slowly drift from top to bottom of a bottle of hand sanitizer (something, by the way, we did not have in the '70's). I said, "Hey! Remember those Prell commercials in the '70's? The one they dropped a pearl in and we watched it sink?"

She looked at me hard enough to give me a professional grade skin peel. "YOU think I was ALIVE in the 1970's???" She turned and stormed off in a diva-worthy way that would make Madonna feel like the protractor queen of middle school.

Oh. my. god. Not every adult remembers the polyester decade! My references to leisure suits, mood rings, pet rocks and Three's Company may not be hitting home like I thought! When did that happen?

Wait, you know, it does sort of make sense now that I think of it. No one seemed to get that Joe Namath wearing pantyhose reference I made the other day and my girl scouts did look completely blank when I mentioned Rosie Greer in "Free to Be You and Me."

Huh. I guess not everyone had a mom who had the Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug centerfold and not everyone's dad hid the Farrah Fawcett poster in his closet. I guess I'll just have to accept it.

Sigh. And I was going to try to find a mountain bike with a banana seat.

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Letter From My Editor & Caption Contest


Okay, I couldn't chose, so I made hubby do it. He said there was a tie. Refhater and Wildheart you are both winners. Email me your snail mail address and I'll get those gift cards to you. christie (at)

See caption contest at the end of blog!

Well, for today’s blog I decided to let you read what my fabulous, wonderful editor Chris Keeslar wrote about in the forward to my book Shut Up and Kiss Me. Do words like fabulous and wonderful sound a bit like sucking up? How about if I just say fabulous editor? Okay, I’ll stick with just editor, but that doesn’t make him any less fabulous. Seriously, how lucky was I to snag an editor who really gets my humor and believes in my books? Thank you, Chris, and thank you to all you readers who find my books an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. And here’s hoping you’ll find Shut Up and Kiss Me, a June release, but hitting the store shelves around May 25th, one of my best books yet.

* * *

Dear Reader,

There’s just something about a man in a pink bathrobe.

He put it on after the V8 bath. After the skunk sprayed him. After he crashed his car. After he was forced to return to the Podunk town where he left his one true love.

“Wait, WHAT?” I hear you say. Welcome to the world of Christie Craig. Not that Jose is our hero. Heck, Sky’s about three thousand times sexier—just ask Shala. But she would have fallen for Jose’s brother anyway, even if the Native American lawman wasn’t so hunky or protecting her from a killer. It was Fate.

That what you get in a Christie Craig novel: sexy guys in (and out of) uniform, wacky hijinks, and best of all, genuine emotion. There’s a reason why critics love her and she’s been compared to Janet Evanovich and Susan Andersen. Dorchester’s Publisher’s Pledge program is our way of indentifying particularly special books by giving readers a risk-free guarantee. We feel so strongly about Shut Up and Kiss Me, we’re willing to pay a full refund to anyone who doesn’t find it everything they want in a contemporary romance.

Christie’s got a backlist you might not have seen yet. And I’m betting her book and Frito Lay potato chips have something in common: you can’t stop at just one.

Happy Glomming!
Chris Keeslar
Senior Editor

* * *

Okay . . . I hope you guys had a good week. We have a couple of great guest bloggers coming up in a few weeks, so be looking for them. Also remember that as release day gets near, I’ll be hosting contests here and all over the web. Thanks again for all the support. And just to make things fun, I’m hosting a contest to the person who can give me the best caption for one of these pictures. The winner will win a $10 gift card to B&N.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmm

I write with the television on for the noise. I've trained myself to write in noise and now I can't seem to work in the quiet. So the first thing I do before sitting down to write is turn on the tv. I don't actually watch while I'm writing, but in between thoughts/sections/etc. I may look up and catch something that makes me hit the rewind on the PVR because I simply don't understand.

Here's one that I caught on a talk show last week. This video is both fascinating, impressive and somewhat disturbing, at the same time.

Then I caught a story on kids that stack plastic cups...really fast. Like shuffling a deck of cards fast. And while it's fascinating to watch, all I could think was three things:

1. How much time did they waste learning this?
2. What the hell are they going to use a skill like this for as an adult?
3. How many times have they gotten beat up on the schoolyard for being a nerd?

Does anyone really get the draw of marathon, lightning-speed cup stacking? I mean, I suppose they could go on to be a famous bartender because, well, there's like none of those, right? Or they could be the fastest dishwasher in the world, but it seems like a whole lot of effort for minimum wage. And God knows we don't need any more magicians. Unless they can shuffle tigers under those cups, who cares?

Anything that makes you go "hmmmmmmm?"

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Book of her Heart

Often people ask me which one of my books I like the best. That’s a really hard question for a writer to answer. To begin with, I’m the first to admit that I am a terrible judge of my own writing. The books I turn in to my editor that I think are perfect inevitable end up being the ones we do big revisions on. While the ones that I think need some work end up being perfect. Go figure. It’s only after the reviews start pouring in can I really tell whether I’ve written a star or a stinker.

Secondly, our books are kind of like our children. It feels wrong to rate one above another. We love them all equally.

But, having said that, I will say that most authors I know (myself included) do have a Book-of-our-Heart. This is the one that we just had to write. The story that had to be told. The message that was more distinctly personal to us than any other. For me, my Book-of-my-Heart is one that I wrote when I was unpublished, just before starting Spying in High Heels. It’s about four good friends living in Las Vegas, and, oddly enough, contains no mystery at all. It’s just about the intertwined experiences of four people trying to find themselves at different stages of their lives. Which sounds really heavy, but it’s actually written as a total comedy. This was my book that won the Golden Heart (the RWA award for unpublished writer), and, despite the fact that it was never published, I still just love it.

A friend of mine, and fellow Romance Diva, recently had the Book-of-her-Heart release. Jennifer Haymore’s, A Touch of Scandal, came out this past month. I know Jennifer was really excited about seeing this story finally hit the shelves, and, purely as a reader, I was, too! Unfortunately, tragedy hit Jennifer just as the book was about to release. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Craptastical timing. Not that there is ever at time when you want to hear the word “cancer”, but what should have been an exciting time of celebration has become a time of surgeries, treatments, and doctor visits.

Luckily, Jennifer has a great sense of humor, a great sense of strength, and she will get through this. (Hear that, Jennifer? You WILL!) So, while Jennifer is kicking cancer’s butt, all of her friends are going to be spreading the word about the Book-of-her-Heart, A Touch of Scandal. Read it, love it, and, if you have the time, drop Jennifer a line to let her know how the book of her heart touched yours.

Hugs, Jenn!!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Tax Day...

It's Tax Day! How many of you spent last night sifting through receipts, punching calculator numbers, or staring at a monitor wishing you'd started the process much sooner--and vowing NEXT YEAR, you'd be on top of things?

In observance of Tax Day, I'm sending you a lovely bouquet of tulips from my front yard.

And if you want to rant, cry, bitch and moan, or just need a hug, I'm here for you!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This may be the best, or worst sandwhich ever. It's the Double Down by KFC and instead of bread, it has two chicken breasts. One has to wonder what was going on in their heads when they created this.

I always thought the bread gave you something to hold onto while keeping your fingers relatively clean. Apparently, bread is not needed at all to make this sandwhich. You just need meat between meat with some cheese thrown in as a vegetable substitute.

Don't get me wrong...I am the worst eater you know. Growing up in the Midwest on red meat, butter and gravy does not make for a healthy lifestyle. My great grandfather judged a restaurant based on it's hot beef sandwhich. That is, a piece of white bread on a plate. Dump on slabs of roast beef, scoops of mashed potatoes and gravy and you have the midwestern version of filet mignon. By the way, it's the first thing I order if I see it on the menu.

I usually love stuff like this. When KFC came out with its Famous Bowls, Mr. Assassin and I downed dozens of them. And we still laughed when Patton Oswaldt called the Famous Bowl a Sadness Pile in a Failure Bowl. In fact, when KFC came out with the boneless chicken breast you could hold and eat, I was the first in line.

One time, Mr. A and I were in San Francisco for a week. The food was so lean that we found ourselves crawling into the Hard Rock Cafe begging for the greasiest burger they make. Back home, fettuchine alfredo sauce is so thick you could stand a fork up in it. In San Francisco - you got the equivalent of wet noodles.

Anyway, even with my hedonistic food cravings, this Double Down looks a bit too outrageous for me. And that bothers me. Hell, for the last few months I've been centering my lunchtime errands around Wendy's Black and Bleu burger and Hardee's Grilled Cheese Thickburger.

But the Double Down goes too far. I have to cut my arteries a break. I simply have to realize that I'm not five years old anymore. And that really hurts.

Next week, I get bifocals...the end is near.

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What My Hubby Gave Me For Easter

I know, Easter has come and gone, but this was too special not to share. Frankly, there’s been a quite a bit of sharing going on amongst the Craig clan lately. You see, the gift hubby so graciously gave me wasn’t a large Godiva chocolate Easter bunny. Nope. It wasn’t even a cheap chocolate bunny. It wasn’t an egg-shaped diamond necklace either. It was the MAN FLU.

Now, some of you gals out there, especially the unmarried ones, might not have heard of the MAN FLU. You’ve heard of the swine flu, the bird flu, but not the MAN FLU. Well, let me tell, the MAN FLU is by far the worst of all three. Just ask any man. Okay, us women know that the MAN FLU is just the flu, but when a man has it . . . Oh, it’s totally the worse thing in the world. It means possible death. It means pain, lots and lots of pain unlike anything, any mere, weak, little woman has ever, ever known. It means . . . “fluff my pillow, bring me some soup, and can you please rub my head.”

But before I tell you any more about the MAN FLU, let’s talk about the whole sharing aspect to this blog. We were all taught the fine art of sharing as children. Well, my daughter has done an excellent job teaching this to my granddaughter. Remember, I was staying with my daughter a couple of weeks ago? Well, Lily Dale decided to share with me the bug she caught at daycare. You know the bug I’m talking about? It’s doesn’t belong to any insect variety. It’s the one that makes you walk funny and really fast to go to the bathroom. Basically, it means your butt cheeks are squeezed so tight that you have to take very short, very fast steps to make it before the poop hits the fan, or in this case the poop hits the pants. Not that Lily Dale knows how to do that walk yet—but hey, she just learned to walk period, so I gave her break.

Because we live a couple hours away from my daughter, I was actually staying at my daughter’s house. Hubby, going home to an empty house, got a little lonely. So one evening after work he decided to drive up to stay the night. It was the night I was doing the funky no-shit chicken walk. He was sweet, patted me on my head and then went and slept on the sofa—claiming he just couldn’t sleep on the bed. You believe that, right?

Needless to say, a few days later I return home to hubby with a cough and a fever. He has the all-time terrible MAN FLU. Being the good wife that I am, do I go sleep on the sofa? Oh, I could have. He even suggested I do. But nope, I open him a can of soup, bring him his meds, take his temperature, and proving I’m the superior sex, I rub his head and hope my body warmth gives him comfort in the dark of the night. Then it happens and . . . it’s bad.

Hubby’s not just coughing, he’s doing the funky walk, too. He doesn’t just have the MAN FLU, he has a combo deal. He has the MAN STOMACH FLU, too. Oh, it’s not the same stuff I had, or that Lily Dale had, because we would have been dead, or so says my hubby. Now, I didn’t give him a hard time about his belief system because I figured having two things at once, gave him just a bit of wiggle room.

He got a bit more room when I ended up taking him to the emergency room where he was admitted and kept overnight due to dehydration. I bring him home the next day, nurse him back to health, and once again prove I’m the superior sex—until right after Easter I realize the gift he’d bestowed on me. Yup, he shared his MAN FLU.

Now you are probably wondering how it could be the MAN FLU if I’m not a man. No, I haven’t grown a pair overnight. But I figure because I know I caught it directly from a man, I have claiming rights. And how bad is the MAN FLU? Well, I’m pretty sure the thing I just coughed up is a lung. It’s still moving and jiggling and trying to breathe. Thank God I have two of them.

Yup, this MAN FLU is tough. I’m hyped up on cold meds, day time, night time, and drinking cough syrup like it’s tequila shots and I’m worm hungry. This thing might be hell, and it might have taken a lung, but it’s not taking my funny bone. My sense of humor is mine to keep. Nope, I will laugh in the face of MAN FLU. I will stand strong, I will survive. But could someone please bring me some soup, rub my head, and do something about that lung laying over there? Hubby would do it, he’s been very gracious, but he had to go to work.

So what about you guys? Anyone got any MAN FLU stories? Anyone ever had the MAN FLU? Come on, share a little. I’m sick and it’ll make me feel better.

P.S. I actually recovered and am feeling better now. Hubby is all well, too. There is a life after MAN FLU.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Blur

So my entire weekend was a blur. I wrote a ton of freelance articles for an education website - all about tax and accounting. I completed my tax return AND my calculation for quarterly tax estimate - ugh. And I did laundry - yea, no commando this week! I didn't have any assistance with the articles or the tax return, but I did have a laundry helper. He works for caramel Bugles, so he's cheap labor.

Here, we are separating solids and whites. He prefers solids.

Last week, I had a minor surgery. I have been taking hormone shots every three months for years - yes, I'm hormonal. So my doctor wants me off the shots and to try something new as she thinks it will help me loose weight. I tried to explain to her that if I'd put down the keyboard and the cheeseburger I'd probably loose weight, but she is convinced. So now, I have a hormone implant in the inside of my upper arm. Basically, it's a plastic rod shoved underneath my skin.

The actual insertion didn't hurt, just stung a little, but I have a high tolerance for pain, so no biggie. Driving to work the next day was a whole other issue. Do you have any idea how tender the inside of your arm is? And how many nerve ending there are? Or how much it hurts when a tiny plastic rod presses into the ugliest bruise on record?

The jiggling while driving would periodically send shooting pains in my arm. The kind that make you involuntarily go "aaaahhhh" but not yell. Then some butthead pulled right out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes. Well, brake-slamming is often accompanied with tensing one's body and yep, I am pretty strong, so my healthy biceps shoved that plastic rod directly into the bruised skin at a high rate of speed and pressure.

I let off a string of cussing that would have made sailors blush. Heck, I even made up a few words. I must have looked like I could kill, because the person who pulled out in front of me actually pulled off the shoulder of the road and gave me the "I'm sorry" wave. They probably thought I was going to shoot them. I have to admit, it's probably a good thing that the only weapon I was equipped with at the time was my mouth.

My boss was suitably horrified with the bruise and commiserated on the cussing. I should have put in a bid for open bar in our cubicles while I had her in my pocket, but I hadn't fully recovered from the braking yet.

So how about you? Any big accomplishments this weekend? Anyone have a weekend off? I've forgotten what a day off looks like. Anyone care to explain??????

Deadly (hormonally challenged) DeLeon

Friday, April 09, 2010

Just for today

I saw this posted on a writing forum this week, and, I’m ashamed to admit, I had tears streaming down my face afterward. Big Boy asked what was wrong with me. I told him that instead of doing his math, we were going to Target and I was buying him the large Icee this time without him even asking. I think he though I’d totally lost it. But I’ve never seen him put his shoes on so fast in his life. :) Hope all of you mothers out there enjoy this!

My Boys

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.

Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck and I will buy you one if he comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.

Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.

I will think about the mothers And fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore.

And when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask Him for nothing, except one more

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Freaky Weather

This was the scene outside my front window the day before yesterday. My daughter took this picture after she called to let me know we were getting golf ball sized hail, my first thought to get photographic evidence for the insurance claims' adjuster.

This is not the kind of spring I'd hoped for after the winter that wouldn't end. We've got from hauling snow to hauling our keesters to the basement when the tornado sirens go off.
I guess I'm fortunate our hail was just egg-sized and I didn't find any visible damage. Counties to the north of us received baseball sized whoppers. On one car lot every car on the lot (over a hundred vehicles) was damaged due to the hail.

If this is an early indication of what our severe storm season is going to be like, we're in deep doodoo.

Working the early shift today so I'll check in tonight!

Have a great day!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Forgot To Blog Today!

My bad! Mr. Assassin left and I crashed. I'm sorry. I have nothing! Give me a week and I'll be back to my dazzling, sparkling wit!

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Art of Jabbering

Contest! Make sure you pop over to Wild, Wicked & Wacky and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win an ARC of Shut Up and Kiss Me.

It’s getting closer. Almost here. Yup, it’s almost time for the release of Shut Up and Kiss Me. Sure, it’s not set to hit the store shelves until May 25th, but about two months before due date, I always start getting anxious. I start hearing from a few reviewers who are reading the book, or booksellers who have been sent a copy of the ARC, and it’s like having false labor pains.

Anyway, I thought today I’d give you just a tiny little peek into the book, into my heroine, and a bit about the title, Shut Up and Kiss Me. You see, Shala Winters, my heroine in Shut Up is a bit of a jabberer, and guess what my hero can’t stand? Yup, you got it. Sky Gomez can’t stand a jabbering woman. In the book he states: He would walk uphill naked and barefoot through the snow and a bed of porcupine needles to avoid a jabbering woman. I bet you can figure out just how that works out for him too, can’t you? There is no uphill path with snow or porcupine needles. He just has to put up with her. Oh, and learns to do it very well.

The crazy thing is that while Shut Up and Kiss Me is the perfect title for the book, I had originally given the title to an earlier book and another heroine who had a habit of talking a wee bit much. So I guess you could say, I have a tendency to write about heroines who aren’t afraid to talk, or who have a tendency to talk before she thinks. Now, why I have so much insight into this character trait is beyond me. I can hear everyone who knows me cracking up right now, and even see a few of you rolling your eyes.

So, fine! I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a talker, and the ol’ foot-in-the-mouth moment is something I’ve experienced once or twice, maybe a dozen times. Remember the blog about me stepping out into my backyard just in time to hear my next door neighbor, positioned on top of his CB radio antenna, yell down to my husband, “Hey, it works.” And I yelled back, “It should. It’s big enough.” Only to have my husband--after he finished laughing his butt off and after he picked his butt up from the ground--tell me they hadn’t been discussing the antenna, but my neighbor’s vasectomy. Yeah, I had my big toe stuck between my molars for a week on that one. And my neighbor walked a little taller every time he saw me, too. UGG!

Ahh, but when a jabberer isn’t picking her toenails from her teeth, the art of a socially-acceptable jabberer (meaning, they are also good listeners) is evident. Face it, jabberers know how to carry on a conversation and are talented in getting people to open up to them. You simply wouldn’t believe the stories people tell me. And to all you people who are rolling your eyes, you best remember I know a thing or two about your lifes, too. Sure, we’ve all heard the ol’ saying, silence is golden, but have you tried living through those awkward moments of silence? As a matter of fact, ask my hubby why he married me and he’ll tell you it’s because I was a talker. He actually loves my jabbering talent, and believe me when I say that Sky learns to love everything about Shala, too. And I mean, everything!

Oh, my friend and critique partner, Suzan Harden, is blogging/jabbering about Shut Up and Kiss Me at her blog today and I have agreed to give away an ARC of Shut Up to one lucky poster on her blog. So make sure you visit and leave a comment.

I also want to give you all the heads up. On May 18th to celebrate the release of both Shut Up and Kiss Me and Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You are in a Romance Novel, I’ll start holding weekly contests and giving away prizes to one lucky person who posts on my website. I will continue the contest until June 22. So make sure you mark your calendars.

So . . . what is your talent/gift/or bad habit? Are you known to jabber when nervous, upset, happy? Come on, share a little.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Happy Easter (a day late)

Had the big Easter do at my parents yesterday. It's not really a "big" do as there's only me, my parents, my bro and sil and my niece, but we sure do eat well - steaks, baked potato, salad, pie. Yum. My niece is five so we do the whole hide-the-eggs thing. Since her mom doesn't like her to eat a ton of candy, and I knew my mom would do the traditional Easter basket, I bought Easter shoes - two pairs of Skechers that feature a lot of pink. She really likes pink...and shoes. We're not related at all. :)

My brother knows some interesting people and usually has funny stories about them. He shared one yesterday that I thought I'd put "out there" as I can see people having some fun with this one - assuming they don't get arrested.

A guy had neighbors across the street with one of those portable basketball goals. They always left it in the street where it was difficult to get cars around or out of driveways. They played late into the night - loudly - and no amount of asking politely worked in toning it down. (sounds like most of the parents I know who don't care who their kids bother as long as it's not them - god forbid, the people who gave birth)

So the guy finally got fed up and listed the basketball goal on for free if someone would come pick it up. I know it's not right, but that is just funny. Unfortunately, the parents were there when the taker showed up and started loading the goal into his truck. They threatened to call the police, the taker showed them the craigslist ad, and the parents got the hint. Or they figured they won't always be at home, so they may need to actually parent their children or they might find their goal missing.

Same guy has a no soliciting sign on his house and came home one day to find a flier on his door. He was hacked because he has a sign, so he called the business (a cleaning business) and asked why they leave their garbage on his door when he clearly has a no soliciting sign. The woman got angry and told him off. So he hung up the phone, logged onto craigslist and posted an ad for "nude cleaning service" with all the woman's information.

I don't want to hack this guy off as he is quite happy with the craigslist trigger, but I still have to smile, especially after the SEVEN times my doorbell rang on Saturday when I was trying to work. It's SUPER aggravating.

If you like pranks on people - I have another link for you re. craigslist. This guy writes cl ad people and messes with them by email, then he posts the exchanges on his blog. Remember the old days when people did the phone pranks for radio stations? That's this guy with new technology. I get a charge out of him.

Emails from an A-hole

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, April 02, 2010

Must Like Dancing

Please welcome my fabulous friend and regular guest blogger, Maria Grazia Swan. Take it away, Maria...

Can you dance?

I’m not much of a dancer. Even in my younger years, I loved dancing cheek to cheek with whoever was the boy of the day (or night), but anything else, nope. Once I was married and stayed that way for 25 years, the dance subject meant nothing. Until lately. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Is there some kind of dance revival that I don’t know about? Is it because of Dancing with The Stars? Suddenly my friends are getting into dancing.

I’m still living in my huge house, the one I can no longer afford, but until it sells, I’m here. So, I invite friends to come and visit God knows where I’ll move to once this dream home is sold. Let’s enjoy while we can. I love people, and I love my friends even more. Until they ask me to take them dancing!
So a girlfriend visits from Texas. She is a little older than I am and she tells me she would like to go dancing on Saturday night. She even shows me the outfit, the shoes, the whole shebang she brought. I’m a little surprised, not in a good way, but before passing judgment, I decide I need more information.

“You wanna go dancing because you like to dance or because you hope to meet a man?”

“I love to dance,” she says, looking straight into my eyes. I’m guessing she is telling the truth. Now I’m stuck. Think, think.

While she is hanging up her clothes I grab “Calendar” an insert that comes weekly with the local paper. It carries a list of social events. I lock myself in the bathroom with my reading glasses and the Calendar. Thank God, I find something that sounds good and is on a decent side of town.

We spent most of Saturday shopping at local discounts stores, mostly at The Last Chance, Nordstrom’s ultimate outlet. It’s the only one of its kind in the states—that alone is worth a trip from Dallas. I’m secretly hoping she’ll be too tired to go dancing.


A little after 8, wearing our sparkly dresses, and enough bling bling to stock a hardware store, we get in my car and we go…dancing.

I could have been a total bitch and driven her to an Arthur Murray place. They dance there, don’t they? Instead I kept the illusion alive by taking her to a singles dance. I happen to know the organizer, not because I go the dances, but because as a Realtor, I represented the couple who bought his house. But my friend didn’t know that. We walk in and Mr. Organizer gave a big welcome and refused to take an entry fee from me or my friend. Score one! My Texas friend was totally impressed.

“You must be coming here often if they don’t even charge you for.”

“You said it.” See? I didn’t lie.

The rest of the evening was pure torture for me, but my friend had a ball.
She called last week and asked if she can come back to visit soon, if I haven’t sold my house, that is.

Need a house anyone?

~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, April 01, 2010

They Don't Call Me Bullet Hole for Nothing...

A couple weeks ago my son was home from college to visit. We both love a good bargain and like to hit the area thrift shops from time to time to see what new and different things they have to offer. We were browsing at a local place (me in the books section, the kid in the furniture) when the kid hurried over to me.

"I've found a picture I think you're really going to like," he said.

"Right. It's that scary clown picture up front, isn't it?" I responded. (In case you've forgotten, I despise clowns.) Anyway, the kid shook his head.

"No, it's not the clown. But trust me, you'll love it!"

I winced. The last time he said these words he was trying to get me to try sushi.

I permitted myself to be led to the picture 'gallery'. And there it was:

For a whopping $7.99 I am now the proud owner of an original art work depicting a good old fashioned, blood and guts shoot-out on the steps of the Mohave State Bank, Arizona,, circa 1874.
I LOVE it! It fits right in with my set of John Wayne 'Courage' mugs, the roping saddle, and collection of western DVDs.
Does my kid know me or what?
Hope your April Food's Day includes some 'unexpected treasure' in addition to the pranks!
~Bullet Hole~