I recently watched the DVD of “P.S. I Love You.” The movie was sad but sweet, heartbreaking but hopeful. The themes were honest and mature, showing a wisdom surely learned through decades of life on this unpredictable planet of ours. The fact that the movie starred Harry Connick, Jr., Gerard Butler, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan didn’t hurt none, either.
I enjoyed every second of it.
Well, almost every second.
When the movie was over and I’d wiped the tear from my eye, I noticed a bonus feature option displayed on my TV screen - “Interview with the Author, Cecelia Ahern.” I clicked on the feature, fully prepared to hear the middle-aged (or likely older) author discuss how she’d spent years working on the novel, how the hard knocks she’d suffered through her life helped her create this meaningful work.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, an adorable, barely legal blonde Irishwoman popped up on the screen. She went on to say that she’d written the novel at age twenty-one, just for fun. She’d shown chapters to her mother, who encouraged her to submit the manuscript to publishers. But Cecelia protested. Her writing was just a hobby. “It’s only a little story for me,” she’d said.
I nearly burst into flames.
This young woman – oh, let’s be honest, this girl! – had completed a novel at such a tender age, got her manuscript published, achieved international bestseller status, and then got a movie deal, too?
It took me a decade of hard work, dozens of workshops and writing classes, thousands of dollars in conference and contest fees, and years of revision to land my first book deal. And I was twice this woman’s age when it happened!
I know that the type of instantaneous success Cecelia Ahern achieved, especially at such a young age, is extremely rare. But still, it rankles. If I ever happen to meet this Cecelia Ahern, I’ve got a bitch slap reserved for her. Then I’ll ask for her autograph.
Diane Kelly’s debut novel will be released by St. Martin’s Press in September 2011. Look for her new website at www.dianekelly.com.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I recently watched the DVD of “P.S. I Love You.” The movie was sad but sweet, heartbreaking but hopeful. The themes were honest and mature, showing a wisdom surely learned through decades of life on this unpredictable planet of ours. The fact that the movie starred Harry Connick, Jr., Gerard Butler, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan didn’t hurt none, either.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I'm a simple human. I have simple needs and wants. Is it so wrong to want to be spoonfed Godiva Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream by my own, personal pool boy? No!
Here then, is my humble bucket list:
1) Learn to play bassoon. I love the bassoon. And it wouldn't be much, really. I just would love to be able to play the Pink Panther theme. On a bassoon.
2) Eating Tour of Italy. No one loves pasta as much as me. Of course, after a week of gorging on fettucine in a quest for the perfect alfredo sauce, I would need to follow up with 5 sessions of liposuction. But it would be worth it, right?
3) Shopping Tour of Italy. Nothing much...just hitting the basics like PRADA, Gucci and Ferragamo. I'd leave enough for the rest of you...
4) Girl's weekend with Tina Fey. Of course, she would have to wear a fat suit to make me feel better about myself...but she would do this because she'd see immediately that we are soul sisters.
5) Play with capybaras. Honestly, doesn't this just explain itself?
6) Wake up at noon to a spotless house, loving children and Mr. Assassin in a g-string holding a bottle of Grey Goose and an enormous, triple chocolate cake. What? It could happen, right?
7) Spa weekend getaway with you guys, my lovely minions. In Italy. With shoes and pasta.
What's on your list?
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 6:29 AM
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Winner! Tess, you are the winner. Send me your snail mail address at christie (at) christie-craig.com
Recently, Faye Hughes, my non-fiction writing partner, and I ran a contest on our joint website to celebrate the release of our book, Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re in a Romance Novel. (To learn more about our book, check out this article Marie Claire Magazine did about it: Article.) We asked people to send us their most memorable romantic disaster and boy, howdy, did people respond!
Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny; others had us clutching our hearts in sympathy. It was hard but we came up with a winner and two runner-ups. I’d like to share those winning entries with you guys this morning.
Winner: Meagan Spooner
I was never a very romantically successful girl. I used to think there was something wrong with me, because everyone else had a boyfriend. After college I decided to take matters into my own hands and went on more dates in the next couple of years than I’d been on my whole life. Some of the guys I met were just not my type, but some were absolutely NUTS. One brought a gun on the first date and showed it to me with this manic light in his eyes, saying that he would protect me if we were attacked. Another, when he sensed mid-date that I was perhaps not interested, broke down and started wailing, “WHY DON’T WOMEN LIKE ME?!”
I could say I learned something about how I should stop trying so hard (because I did learn that) or that there are just as many desperate guys out there (because I learned that too). But I think the biggest thing I learned was there isn’t anything wrong with me at all. It’ll happen. In the meantime? Keep reading. Keep writing. Have fun.
Honorable Mention - Michele Benard
Young 21 year old(me) goes out with friend to a bar meet what seems like a nice guy over a period of weeks they talk he never asks her out on a date but seems interested. Girl (me) broke off a long distant relationship so was done with men at the time, lived in a navy town so it was like a meat market anytime you went out. Girl (me) meets a different boy who caught her interest he seemed interested some other times was into his friends he becomes a challenge girl likes challenge she was dating lots ( a girl has to eat) fast forward weeks becomes more interested in boy number 2 which makes boy number 1 very mad calling girls house every five minutes making comments like are u babysitting boy number 2 younger then boy number 1 finally calling girl up asking for her to just go to dinner with him once when she says no he hangs up on her then calls right back and calls her a b&%$#. Finally girl is at work a salon in the mall when mall security calls and says she needs to go to her car where the back window has been smashed out.
Boy number 1 got a way with it but never called again it cost girl 500.00 to repair and she ended up marrying boy number 2. I learned be careful who you talk to people aren’t always what they seem.
Honorable Mention - Jennifer Lee
Several years ago, a friend of mine told me that her husband's best friend was visiting for the weekend. They were planning on making a trip downtown to a local dance club, and she asked if I wanted to meet up with them. I didn't have any plans, so I agreed. But, being the scaredy-cat that I am about being alone at night in a downtown urban area, I brought along a tough, scary guy friend....to what was apparently a blind date.
A month later, I approached him. I emailed him and invited him to see a local DJ play. The DJ had called me earlier in the day to let me know the showtime and venue, and I was happy to support local talent.
When my date and I arrived, the DJ instantly gave me the cold shoulder. Turns out, he'd invited me as his date, and I'd brought a man along with me.
It's been almost 8 years, and my former blind date is now my fiance. Now I just have to figure out who I should ask as my date to the wedding....
When reading these entries I thought back on some of my own romantic disasters. Oh, I remember this one guy who was so nervous when we first started dating, that he slammed my hand in his car door, pulled a chair out from under me in a restaurant (and made me land on my butt on the floor,) and even accidentally managed to bust my daughter’s lips while playing with her under a table. (Talk about a klutz!) What did I do? I married him. Thankfully, he stopped being so nervous. As for the klutzy part . . . yeah, well, it gives me good fodder for blog posts. Hey . . . some romantic disasters turn out not to be so disastrous.
So, what about you guys? Do you have any romantic disaster stories to share? Come on, don’t be shy. Nothing dulls the pain of a romantic disaster more than sharing it. And for one lucky commenter, I’ll give away a copy of the book that started it all—Wild, Wicked & Wanton.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Last week, I had one of those beyond exasperating experiences with doctors. Between insurance BS and malpractice lawsuits, it is darned near impossible to get medical treatment in this country any more. Lord knows, if I'm not going to die, I put off going to the doctor until it's just overdue and I've put this off for months (probably more like a year), so last week I decided to give it a go. The entire issue is about skin tags. They're these little hanging pieces of skin that can develop on your body. They're benign, but unsightly, and in the winter, they tend to catch on sweaters and that can hurt a bit. I had a couple of my body and one next to the outside corner of my eye that I wanted to have removed. I've had skin tags removed from the same places before as they tend to return - like most unpleasant things in life.
So I go to my regular GP, who removed them last time and here is the conversation that ensued:
Me: I want the skin tags removed.
GP: I can't remove them.
Me: Why not? You did it last time.
GP: Yes, but at least one of them should be sent to the lab for testing.
Me: Okay. You send stuff to the lab all the time.
GP: Yes, but that's in different packaging.
He wouldn't budge. Apparently, using the right envelop to contain the skin tag is a requirement for it to be tested....? So he told me to see a dermatologist. I found a dermatologist who would get me in and this is the conversation that ensued:
Me: I want the skin tags removed.
Derm: I can do the ones on your body but not the one near your eye.
Me: Why not? It's not on or in my eye.
Derm: But it's close to your eye.
Me: Is it a "special" skin tag?
Derm: No. But it's near your eye.
So I have the skin tags on my body removed and the dermatologist calls an opthomologist who agrees to see me that same day. So the nurse at the optho begins giving me an eye exam - I'm talking an eye exam for glasses prescription exam. The following conversation ensues:
Me: Why are we doing an eye exam? My eyes are not why I'm here.
Nurse: We have to do the exam.
Me: But why? The skin tag is not on or in my eye.
Nurse: Your insurance pays for it.
(Apparently, this is supposed to mean I don't care)
So she does a complete eye exam, for which I do NOT receive a prescription for glasses, I might add, and then she dilates my eyes and sticks me in a dark room to wait. So I wait and wait and wait and finally I go back to a room and the optho comes in. The following conversation ensues:
Optho: Your eyes are in excellent shape.
Me (grumbling): Thank you. (like I care since I'm not there for my friggin' eyes!)
Optho: The surgery is very simple and will only take about ten minutes, no sedation required at all. I'll have the front desk schedule you in for it in a couple of weeks.
Me: You can't do it today?
Optho: No. I don't have time today, but it will only take ten minutes in two weeks.
Sure it will. AFTER he conveniently bills my insurance company for another office visit. BTW, the eye exam that I didn't need created a bill to my insurance company for a little over $500.
So I drive home, frustrated beyond belief, half-blind since my eyes are dilated, $75 in doctor copays poorer and the damned skin tag still next to my eye. Mind you, of all the ones I wanted removed, that was "the" one. The only one that bothers me. Of course.
And that is why we will all die young and clutching a medical bill. Because everyone is a specialist and no one knows anything about the human body beyond their six-inch range. If they do, they're not admitting it because they're afraid of being sued. What ever happened to the country doctor who fixed a case of the doodies and could set a broken leg?
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 7:51 PM
Friday, September 24, 2010
This week is the big premier week for most networks, and I am so excited to see scripted TV show making a comeback this season! Don’t get me wrong, I love me some trashy reality TV. But, being a writer, it’s always a little scary when you realize half the shows on TV no longer require writers. Not so this season! Not only are new scripted show popping up on every network, but most of them are crime dramas! I’m in heaven. I haven’t yet had a chance to preview them all (though my DVR is loaded and just waiting for Baby T to take a nap so I can dig in…), but so far there a couple new ones I’m digging:
LOVED it! Jim Belushi is perfect as sorts cool/sorta shcmucky/totally clever attorney, and Jerry O’Connell makes a great sidekick. The plot was clever, the setting sexy (Vegas, baby!), and the writing pretty impressive. I will definitely be watching this one again.
Since this one was on at the same time as The Defenders (oh, the dilemma!) I have it DVR’ed. But I have to say this was the one show I was looking forward to the most, having been a L&O loyal for years. Criminal Intent was my absolute fav show on TV for years, so I’m hoping some of that vibes plays out in L.A. too. Anyone else see it yet? Like it? love it?
Okay, this one isn’t totally new this week, since it was around all summer, but it has to be my absolute favorite new show. It is so funny! Honestly, it’s like someone took one of Christi’s books and put it on TV. The characters are totally wacky, the situations crazy, and the dialogue perfect. I also love that the show follows a skewed timeline, starting with an explosion or bank robbery or some great action, then flashing back to hours earlier to explain what happened. It keeps me on my toes.
Anyone else have reviews of new shows to report in on? What great new gems am I missing that I should be setting to high priority on my DVR?
~Trigger Happy Halliday
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 1:00 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2010
When I first told my husband that I was going to take a stab at writing romantic comedies, he raised a skeptical brow. Not about the comedy part – he knew I was a goofball since our first date when I somehow managed to splash salsa all over his shirt. But romance? From me? The least romantic woman in the world?
It’s true that I’m down-to-earth. Practical. Pragmatic. Not a sappy cell in my body. (Okay, maybe one or two, but they rarely assert themselves.) Traditional romantic things fall flat with me. A bouquet of flowers? They’re pretty, sure, but after a few days the stems grow moldy in the vase and dried petals litter the tabletop and have to be cleaned up. Chocolate? Bring it on! But my selfish refusal to share kills the mood. Jewelry? I’m just as happy with cheap costume stuff. Chances are I’ll leave it on the coffee table and the dog will eat it anyway. And maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never quite understood the oft-seen reference in romance novel love scenes to a woman’s “perfect breasts.” What, exactly, would a “perfect” breast look like? Would it be voluptuous, round, and symmetrical? Petite and perky? A pointy torpedo-shaped ta-ta a la Madonna in her “Vogue” video? And why is there never a reference to a “perfect testicle?”
I feared I was the only woman on earth who felt this way. But I’ve since learned I’m not the only one who gets turned on when her guy does the dishes or mops the kitchen floor. Foreplay? Try vacuuming, baby. And gifts? Don’t waste your money on expensive trinkets or baubles. Get us something that makes our lives easier, like one of those under-the-bed shoe organizers or a lamp that turns on with a hand clap.
Nope, women in general aren’t nearly as complicated as men seem to think we are. Just help us out on occasion, show us some attention once in a while, and stand behind us, not in our way. That’s true romance.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Where do these things go? In most cases, it is swallowed whole by the evil sectional of doom. I really hate that couch. We had the carpets and furniture cleaned once and they took it apart. No one has EVER been able to put that thing back together.
Anyway, logic dictates (at least to me, in my head, with a voice that sounds like Patrick Warburton for some reason) that whatever is missing will be found there. And here is how most conversations about that go:
Jack: Mom, I can't find my cell phone/Game Boy/Nintendo/Dead hooker.
Me: Look in the sectional.
Jack: I DID! I stuck my hand in the cracks and everything!
Me: Get a flashlight and look again - it's always there.
Jack: BUT I DID AND IT'S NOT THERE!
Me: (yelling) Margaret! Come help your brother find his cell phone/Game Boy/Nintendo/Dead hooker!
In the end, here is what happens. I...that is ME...I get the flashlight and pull apart the sectional while lying on my stomach, chin deep in Pug hair. Last night I found a pair of Jack's dirty underwear, one of Jack's dirty socks, (what does that boy DO in the family room?), a gallon baggie full of Lucky Charms and a full but opened on one end Pixie Stix (which Jack held up to look in and poured sugar in his eye - BTW - not as painful as salt, apparently).
We found the phone forty-three minutes and two seconds later. It was right where I said it was. It was right where he'd looked. I'm having it surgically implanted in his hip.
Please tell me this stuff happens to you.
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 4:53 AM
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Howdy, Killer Fiction readers. Today I have a treat for you. We had a new Killer on board at Killer Fiction. Diane Kelly is a neat person. I met her years ago at my Romance Writers of America meeting. We were having someone come and talk about taxes. Yeah…taxes. I mean, how boring is that? (Can you hear me snore?) But…because I needed some tax advice I pumped myself up with caffeine and went to suffer through a long, tedious talk. Boy, howdy was I surprised. The speaker wasn’t at all boring. She managed to make a talk about taxes interesting and funny as heck on wheels. Yup, Diane is one neat, funny lady. So . . . when I found out she sold her series to St. Martin’s Press and we were sister Saints. (Don’t you just love that? Sister saints? Like I could ever be a real saint!) Well, I kindly and graciously held her up at gunpoint until she agreed to come join our team of killers. And now I’d like to present you with an interview with our newest killer. So get ready to be entertained. Here’s Diane Kelly.
1) "How did you come up with the idea for your series?"
A few years ago, I sat in the back of a crowded, stuffy room on the final day of an excruciating three-day tax seminar. The morning’s speaker had spent hours detailing the minutiae of partnership taxation, and I was fighting desperately to stay awake. Just as I’d decided to give in, hide under the table, and take a snooze, a criminal defense attorney took the podium. He told fascinating war stories of defending tax evaders, naughty people who engaged in fraud, money laundering, and intricate financial scams and who thought – most often wrongfully - that they could outsmart Uncle Sam. I never knew taxes could be so interesting! And when the attorney talked about the savvy special agents at the IRS, I was intrigued. I’d never known these “tax cops” existed!
I subsequently researched IRS special agents and was shocked to find that some had been killed in the line of duty. Their jobs require complex financial know-how combined with law enforcement and weapon skills. Very few people have this unique skill set. I figured a special agent would make a unique, interesting heroine and apparently I was right. My manuscript “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure,” which stars a female IRS agent, won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award in 2009, and won or placed in over a dozen RWA chapter contests as well. The judges invariably commented on my fun and feisty heroine. I was thrilled when St. Martin’s bought the manuscript and that the concept will be expanded into a series.
C.C.’s comment: See, even she thought any talk of taxes was going to be . . . boooorrring.
2) "I understand that you interviewed several special agents as part of your research for your upcoming series. What were the agents like? And if male, were they hot?"
The special agents I met with were all Type-A personalities – in a good way. Each one of them was extremely intelligent, intensely focused, and, as opposed to the stereotypical nerdy IRS agent image, very attractive and physically fit. Imagine the cast of “Friends,” but with brains and purpose.
C.C.’s comment. Okay, I’m trying really hard to imagine Joey as having brains. Not happening.
3) "There's quite a bit of gun play in your debut novel, and your heroine is an expert marksman. How well can you handle a gun?"
Do water guns count? ‘Cause I’ve taken down three adolescent boys in two seconds flat with a Blastmaster 2000. As far as real guns go, my experience is somewhat limited. I tried to shoot skeet once with a shotgun, but could barely lift the gun high enough not to shoot off my toes. I have the upper body strength of an earthworm. I’ve also shot a few rounds on a .22 rifle and was surprisingly accurate.
C.C.’s comment: Okay, I’m not going to piss you off. I don’t want to be the target that you aim at, especially since I now know you’re surprisingly accurate!
4) "Are you anything like your heroine?"
I suppose it’s impossible for a writer not to put a bit of herself in her heroine. Like Tara, I have an innate sense of justice and would like for the world to be more fair and to see bad guys get their due. Tara and I both have a slightly warped sense of humor and a pragmatic, cut-the-crap attitude. Oh, and we both wear a 32A bra. But perhaps that’s more than anyone needed to know.
C.C.’s comment: Sorry, I’m not telling my bra size, I don’t care if you told me yours or not. To me, that’s right up there with telling someone my weight.
5) "What was the hardest part of writing your book?"
Creating my hero! It’s like building the perfect man from scratch. It sounds great, but where do you start? What traits should he have? What makes a man truly attractive and sexy? It’s much more difficult than it sounds. Plus, he can’t really be totally perfect. Otherwise he wouldn’t be realistic. So making him believable yet lovable and enticing was a challenge.
I had a crush on Aaron Eckhart at the time, so my hero tends to resemble him. And, of course, my hero is successful. At the risk of setting the women’s movement back decades, there’s nothing sexier than a man who knows how to take care of his woman. Not that we can’t take care of ourselves, but it’s nice to know our men have our backs (and vice versa). My hero is classy, but not pretentious. I fell in love with him myself. Good thing he’s fictitious since divorces are so messy and expensive!
Thanks so much for the interview, Diane.
And now what I’d like to hear from you is: how do you feel about taxes? Hey, if you wanna share your bra size, go ahead. And as a thank you for welcoming Diane here today, I’m running a contest. One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re In a Romance Novel.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Ever once and a while in life, you hear about something that is simply a thing of beauty. It's like all stars aligned perfectly for something to happen. But rarely do you get to see it yourself. Well, I got to witness one of those things last week driving to work. And best of all, it was a thing of beauty in a negative karma coming back on you way.
So I'm driving to work on the freeway in the left lane. It's two lanes both ways with a full center lane for turning (completely open - no barriers). So I'm about 30 yards behind a huge pickup truck in the right lane and its tire comes completely off the front driver's side. Well, the truck hits the ground and the driver immediately makes for the shoulder. The tire continues at 60mph in the lane in front of me, so I slow down and motion outside my window to the 18-wheeler behind me, hoping he's paying attention. The 18-wheeler flashed his lights that he understood and pulled into the center median, hitting his brakes.
So we're both driving slow, behind the tire, which shows no signs of leaving the highway or stopping, when a guy that was in a car behind the 18-wheeler pulls up behind me and I can see him bitching and cussing. So he swings to the right and looks down the freeway, see the tire, but apparently decides it's a good idea to pass it. So he honks his horn and give me and the 18-wheeler driver the finger and rushed down the freeway.
As he pulls abreast of the tire, the tire decides to make a 180-degree turn right into the front of his car, which sends him off in the ditch - and it had POURED down rain the night before, so mud and water splashed everywhere. He jumps out, arms waving and cussing, and the darn tire just bounces out from under his car and continues back down the freeway. The 18-wheeler guy and I just kept driving. So I look over at the trucker, who is now in the right lane beside me and he's looking down at me just shaking his head and laughing, his face beet red. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. That darn tire rolled at least another fifty yards before hitting the ditch. Then continued in the ditch forever, so neither one of use would pass it. Finally it went off into the corn field and we got to speed up and continue with our day.
So what are the odds? I mean, a million things had to occur to make that all happen. If I could have video-taped it, it would be viral on YouTube! So I figure, aside from giving me the rod, that idiot-tire-passing-guy must have done something to send karma back on him.
Once I could breath properly again without collapsing into laughter and tears, I called my brother and told him about it. He said "you should have stopped so that the idiot who tried to pass the tire can't blame the guy who lost the tire for the wreck, since it could have easily been avoided."
To which I replied "He'd have to prove the tire caused the wreck to begin with, and the tire fled the scene."
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 9:32 AM
Friday, September 17, 2010
Baby is eleven months old now, just starting to walk, and getting into EVERYTHING. Case in point, my week with Baby:
Baby digs in trash and finds a used pinto bean can. He cuts his finger on the top of can. Blood everywhere - on him, on me, all over the kitchen floor. I freak, contemplate the emergency room, but instead wrap his tiny finger in three band aids. Baby chews off all three. Blood spurts all over his toys, the living room carpet, and sofa. I rebandage. Baby chews if off. More blood. Older boy suggest putting a cone around his head like a dog. I briefly contemplate this, then bandage the finger again.
I’m sitting at my computer, writing. I hear in the background “splash, splash, splash”. Uh oh. Where is Baby? He’s splashing in the toilet bowl, of course. I disinfect Baby, put him down to watch TV. He chews off bandage. More blood.
I’m attempt to write again. Baby, meanwhile, crawls into the kitchen where he knocks over recycling a bin, grabs an empty wine bottle out of it and uses the wine bottle to smash a ballpoint pen on the kitchen floor. The pen shatters, little pieces of plastic and globs of blue ink flying everywhere. I just finish cleaning this up (and relocating the recycle bin outside) when I hear “splash, splash, PLOP” Oh. No. Baby is again at the toilet, this time dropping my cordless mouse into the water. Fab. I disinfect Baby and the mouse, then give a stern lecture to the other members of my family on lowering the lid and shutting the bathroom door when they’re done.
I give up on writing, instead taking Baby to the grocery store where everyone comments on how cute and well behaved his is. (Ha!) We get home, and I put him down on the front lawn while I bring the groceries into the house. He eats a handful of grass. I grab it out of his mouth. He eats an acorn. I grab it out of his mouth. He reaches for a snail, and luckily I get there just before he can sample his first escargot.
I decide to take Baby to my mom's house for a change of scenery. He makes a bee-line for her open dishwasher and takes all her clean silverware out, throwing it on the kitchen floor. While I'm rinsing them off and putting them away again, he wanders into the bathroom. (Where the toilet lid is down. Ha! One step ahead of you, pal!). As soon as I finish with the silverware, I go into the bathroom and find him… "cleaning" the tile floor with Grandma’s toilet brush. Ew. I disinfect him, put the brush up high, and clean the floor.
I take him home, set him in front of “The Wiggles”, and check my email for five minuets. (Just five, I swear!) And then I realized it’s quiet. Too quite. I look over at Baby. He has figured how to take his own diaper off… and has gone number two all over the living room carpet. All I can say is this is one time I’m thankful for the ugly brown color of our renter’s carpet.
I give Baby a bath, wash his clothes, shampoo the rug, then collapse on the sofa.
Where he chews off his bandage and bleeds all over my lap.
While I’ve been writing this, Baby has thrown a pen, a rubber ball, and a pair of iPod ear buds into the toilet. As soon as I disinfect them all, I’m driving to Babies R Us and getting toilet seat locks. And more band aids.
|And he looks so innocent...|
~Trigger Happy Halliday
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 1:00 AM
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Recently, as I was judging entries in a writing contest, it dawned on me that the “rules” for creating a compelling fictional story also apply as we create our real life stories.
Rule #1: The story should feature an interesting-but flawed-lead character.
We are the lead characters in the story of our lives. We should strive to be interesting, but accept-even embrace-our flaws. There’s no such thing as perfection, and it’s our flaws that enable others to relate to us. Takes the pressure off, huh? Besides, every flaw has an upside. Case in point: I'm impatient as heck, but because of this impatience I rarely procrastinate.
Rule #2: Don’t complicate the story with too many subplots.
The less important things often try to take over the story of our lives, distracting us from the primary plotlines. We should focus on what’s really important and eliminate any “subplots” that don't bring something of value to our life story. For instance, I ignore the subplots of laundry, dishes, and dusting in favor of writing, playing keeno with friends, and goofing off with the hubby and kids.
Rule #3: Eliminate secondary characters that don’t serve a meaningful purpose.
As hard as it may be, cutting out “characters” who serve no meaningful purpose in the story of our lives will streamline our stories and give us more time to focus on the characters who really matter to us. Of course, for various reasons, it's impossible to eliminate some secondary characters, no matter how much we'd like to. Put those ones in the footnotes.
Rule #4: Lots of conflict makes for a great story.
We shouldn't fear conflict. It’s only when we stand up for what we believe in-and ourselves!-that our life story can really move forward. And, just like our flaws, conflict can have an upside. Sometimes a good kick in the pants can work wonders.
Rule #5: Keep up the pace.
"Scenes" drawn out longer than necessary can bog our life stories down and make them boring. Wrapping up our “scenes” efficiently will keep our stories moving forward at a good pace.
Rule #6: Develop a high-stakes plot.
To make sure our life stories really matter, we'll have to take some big risks along the way. This may mean taking a chance on a new career, moving across country and leaving behind the people and places we've grown up with, or having the courage to chase our dreams no matter how high the odds are stacked against us. No wimps allowed!
I hope that the story of your life will be exciting, compelling, and fulfilling, and that it ends with a happily ever after!
Diane Kelly’s debut novel will be released September 2011 by St. Martin’s Press.
Visit Diane at www.dianeobrienkelly.com
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Okay, not exactly what you were looking for. What did you think you'd find?
My wrist has a lump. Or maybe it's a hump...like Igor. Anyway, my doctor is referring me to an orthopedic doctor. X-rays have shown that it is NOT:
- Broken bone. Really? My doctor thought maybe I hadn't noticed that I'd broken my wrist and was actually capable of ignoring the pain that would be involved. Please! I faint when I pluck my eyebrows. (FYI - it takes me a loooooooong time to pluck my eyebrows)
- A ganglion cyst. That's too bad. I was hoping it was (and not just because it's really, really fun to say). I googled ganglion cysts and they look pretty cool. I could put it in a jar and name it Poopsie.
- A tiny human operating the controls that make Leslie Langtry function. Psych! That person lives in my pancreas. Her name is Lola and she speaks Urdu and plays the bassoon. She is particularly fond of vodka.
- My wrist is giving me attitude by thrusting it's, um, hip out provocatively. If that is the case, it will be punished. I already have a 12 yr-old daughter. I don't need to be provoked by my appendages.
So, what is it? No idea. My doc is recommending an MRI. She is flummoxed. That can't be good.
I'm asking for a second opinion. Yours. What do you think, my minions?
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 1:17 AM
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Hey…today I’d love to introduce you guys to a fellow writer and friend. (Hey…she’s short like me, I’ve gotta love her!) I’ve already bought my copy of Cattitude (Don’t you love that title) and I can’t wait to read it.
Oh, one other thing. Tomorrow I’m guest blogging at Borders’ True Romance about, thinking like a man, sort of . . . men behaving badly, and I would love it if you could pop over and leave a comment. I’m giving away two books.
Desperately yearning for a romantic comedy
A big thank you to the fabulous Christie Craig for having me as her guest today. I love books and movies, and lately I’ve been reading a lot of great books but not seeing a lot of great movies. Especially movies my husband and I can both enjoy. What happened to smart and funny and sometimes touching romantic comedies? To name a few: When Harry Met Sally (best ever!), Jerry Maguire, Two Weeks Notice, Dave, The American President, Ms. Congeniality, Bull Durham, Something’s Gotta Give, Legally Blonde, Letters to Julia.
I could name more, but for the most part I’m seeing a lot of dumb guy movies in which a man who isn’t likely to be confused with Brad Pitt or Stephen Hawking ends up with a smart and gorgeous woman. I’ve read that most movies are made to appeal to the male viewers because a woman will go with their man to see a movie and not vice-versa.
Does that mean movies have to be bad to be funny? My husband doesn’t agree. He’d rather watch an NCIS rerun than a Will Ferrell comedy. He wouldn’t see the Sex and the City movie with me, either. But all those romantic comedies I listed in the first paragraph? He likes them. A lot.
We own videos or DVDs of Dave, Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality and a few others. My office is upstairs, and a couple times this last year when I came downstairs he was watching a video of Love Actually. That’s the kind of movie that you can watch again and again and still see something new. It’s funny and poignant with great writing, characters, and acting.
There aren’t enough movies like that. These last two weekends, I wanted to see a show, but there wasn’t anything out we thought would be good. I yearn for a great romantic comedy, but the industry isn’t putting enough out.
I have suggestions for movie makers. Read Christie Craig books! They’re funny, with a terrific plot, a great heroine and hero, a mystery, and a romance. Perfect for movies. And read Jennifer Crusie books! More movie perfection. I see on Gemma Halliday’s September 3rd blog that she published Viva Las Vegas as a digital book. She says it’s a cross between Sex and the City and Eat, Pray, Love. Some smart producer should snap that up!
Or they could snap up my e-book, Cattitude, about a cat that changes bodies with a woman and thinks anything a human can do, a cat can do better.
In all these books, neither the hero nor the heroine is portrayed as stupid, even if they sometimes do stupid things. That’s something the dumbed down movies don’t get.
What books do you think would be great movies?
Fine final thing: Edie is giving away one free download to a lucky commenter, so make sure you leave a comment!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Spent Sunday doing edits on my first official Harlequin Intrigue. The edits weren't bad at all, but they do everything by HAND. Have you seen my handwriting? Even "I" can't read my handwriting. So it was a complicated mess of writing "see attached" then attaching printed pages of the document with the changes highlighted, etc. And of course, since I'm an accountant it all had to be coordinated and individually paperclipped, so my editor will either love me or want to have me psychologically tested. But she was happy with the book, and the edits were very minor, so all is well.
Lately, I've been working on a new project - a website for writers. I am on different writing forums and get asked a lot of questions about fiction writing, the publishing industry and most of all, taxes. So I decided it would be easier to have a website where I could make that information available and just send people there by link. Of course, it's not full of information yet - that will happen over time, but the first step was building the darn site.
Yes, I decided I needed to learn how to build websites. I searched around and finally decided on WordPress for a platform. Mainly because you can update it from anywhere and if I screw something up, I can probably high any 10-year old to fix it for me. So I searched and found good html code-building software and all was good. Well, except for the banner part. I didn't want a stock banner that 42,000 other people were using. I wanted something custom. But the problem is, I am NO artist.
So I decided to purchase some graphics and go about creating my own banner using Photoshop. Now, I want to preface this by saying that I am not sure if I have a mental block on the Photoshop software or if it's just that hard to use, but it just about killed me! It's simply NOT intuitive. Mind you, my full-time job is documenting software and I've literally done hundreds of software conversions, but Photoshop is an entirely different animal. I needed to figure out how to cut one piece of a graphic away from the others, then make it transparent, then add it to the banner and change colors. No problem, right? HA! I swear, I would get something to work and then have no idea how I made it happen.
I started working last Saturday at 6 A.M. and finally got it finished at 8 P.M. Then I increased the third-quarter stock at Coors and went to bed exhausted. But finally, but Monday, I launched my official site for writers. Check it out and if you have a question you'd like to see answered, please post it.
Have a great week, all!
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 8:33 PM
Friday, September 10, 2010
Please welcome my fabulous guest blogger, Maria Grazia Swan...
Some American first names are very confusing to me. Take Pat for example, it is short for Patricia or Patrick? Then, do you know if it is he/Pat or she/Pat? Patricia can also be shortened to Patty or Trish or Tricia or even Patsy. In those cases, it is clearly a she/Pat, right? Then there is Toni or Tony. Yes, for a native that’s self explanatory, for somebody like me who learned to spell with an alphabet of 21 letters, it is a little more difficult. I finally asked a friend who kindly explained the difference between the two endings, “i” for the female version and “y” for the male version as a nickname for Anthony. You see, now, to me, Anthony is the simple one. Consider for a moment Miki, Mickey, or Micky. Where did the “y” come from in this case? What about Sam? And Blair, Morgan, Jaime, Marion, and dare I ask? Paris. Are these boy’s or girl’s names?
Then you have last names that are really first names. How confusing is that? There’s Lynn David, Andrew Lawrence, April Rose, Kim Lindsay, Tom Arnold, Billy Joe, Ricky Martin, Tina Louise, Marc Anthony, Marc Grace, Bruce Lee. I bet you could add a dozen more to my list.
When I was growing up in Italy, everybody had to have the name of a Saint.
There is a Saint’s name next to every calendar day and Italians like to celebrate their name day. There used to be a lot of girls and women named Maria’ It was Maria this and Maria that. Maria isn’t so common anymore. However, Italian first names are easy to distinguish because male names end in “o” like, Mario while female names end with an “a” like Maria. If I stopped writing right now, you’d probably all go on thinking how simple Italian names are for the purpose of knowing the sex of the name holder. But, there are exceptions. Quite a few actually, like Andrea; in the United States this is a girl’s name and since it ends with an ‘a’ you would assume the same of the Italian counterpart. You’d assume wrong. Andrea is a boy’s name.
And we have other exceptions. For instance, both boy’s and girl’s names ending with an “e”, like, Cesare, Dante, Davide, Beatrice, and Clarice, and what’s interesting is that these names don’t have a translation for the opposite sex.
I named my first-born in the Italian tradition, using the names of his two grandfathers: David, Augusto. I had hoped he would use these names proudly, but pretty soon he became just Dave, and at high school graduation, he bribed the announcer not to mention his middle name. So much for tradition. With the next boy I decided to find a name that couldn’t be abbreviated. Fat chance. Brian Swan quickly became BS, you all know the common meaning of that acronym.
As for myself, my given name was Maria Grazia. In a perfect world, it translates to Mary Grace, but we live in the United States of America, so, when I grew tired of people calling me Mary Thank You, I began to use Maria, just plain Maria for my first name. It’s hard to shorten or change that, I hope. If you have other ideas, I don’t want to know, leave me this small sense of security and comfort.
~ 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
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 10:35 AM
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Rick Ballentine resists his lust for Ariana. After all, it’s against NYPD policy for a cop to fraternize with a suspect. But when this hot fairy seduces him, his badge suddenly seems less important than satisfying his desires with her lush body.
Wood-Lovin’ Nymph by Téa Trelawny available Sept 9 at www.jasminejade.com
Posted by Christie Craig at 9:28 AM
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
As many of you know, every Labor Day Weekend, I take my girl scout troop camping for three days. We started when the girls were in 1st grade. Now, they are 6th,7th & 8th. And we always have a great time. Always.
This year, we had a couple of new girls. Here's how I know they had a good time.
Me: Did you two have fun?
New Girls: Yes! Your troop is hysterical and very dramatic.
Yes. We had drama. I was running the zip line when one girl came to me and said another was sobbing and I should come quick.
Me: I can't. I'm running the zip line and we have all these people waiting.
Her: You HAVE TO! It's a matter of LIFE & DEATH!
Me: I'm wearing a harness and have one girl dangling by a thread, two - stories up over there.
Her: OMG! (she actually said the letters OMG) She's CRYING!
Me: Well, have her come to me, then.
Her: No. She won't come here.
Me: Where is she?
Her: (points to a spot 5 yards away).
Me: There are two other leaders, you know. Two other leaders who aren't trying to keep girls from falling to their deaths - two completely capable leaders who could help.
Her: FINE! (Huffs away.)
What happened? Remember that game, telephone, where you whisper something to the next person, and they pass it on, etc. until the final phrase is unrecognizable or frighteningly offensive? Well, one girl said something. Another girl overheard it as an insult to another girl and took it upon herself to let said girl know.
They were best friends one hour later.
I am not kidding.
There were other moments of drama too. But that's just par for the course. I remember something we thought was life and death when I was that age in my girl scout troop. One of the girls ate with her mouth open and the rest of us spent weeks agonizing over how to tell her. Of course we handled it maturely - blurting it out during an argument.
You know what the offending girl said? She said, "Thanks for telling me. I never knew I did that."
All in all, everyone had a blast. I ate way too many s'mores (you can't have one girl offer to make one for you and turn down the 13 other girls! That would be just WRONG!). I lost my voice and got no sleep. But it was absolutely perfect. I can't wait for next year.
As for being hysterically funny and overly dramatic...I don't see how you could have one without the other.
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 1:39 AM
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Can I brag? Just for a few minutes, or at least for one blog. Please…
You see, I’m awfully proud. I know, I know you think I’m about to pull out my grandmama book and show you some pictures of my precious granddaughter and probably tell you how cute she is when she says, “I wuv you” or tell you how she’s learning to count. “one, two, nine!” Hey, who needs three through eight anyway? So fine, you can bet your best pair of panties that I’m over the moon proud of that little girl. But today, for these bragging rights, I’m not going into grandmother mode. Well, no more than I’ve already gone.
The person, actually two persons—and my granddaughter could count that—I’m braggin’ on is my granddaughter’s mommy and daddy. That’s right. Jason and Nina are two very talented individuals. And I’m not talking about Jason’s cooking abilities or Nina’s gift of walking on her tip toes. Neither do I mean their making-the-perfect-grandchild talent or their parenting skills. Nope, the talent I’m touting today is their artistic talent.
Some of you probably don’t know this, but my daughter is an artist. (Some of these are at the show and some of them are from older shows.) I wish I could tell you she got all her talent from me, but nope. While I can paint pictures in my head and put them down on paper with words, my little girl could draw better than her mommy by the time she was three. “Draw me an elephant?” she would ask me. I would try and she would look at me disappointed and say, “Mommy, that’s not an elephant, this is an elephant.” She’d draw one and darn it didn’t look like an elephant. But in my defense, I did put a trunk on the stick figure.
But that little girl is all grown up now and her hubby, my favorite son-in-law (Shh, don’t tell him he’s my only one) is also an artist.
And this weekend they are part of a group show in Houston. So, if you are in the Houston area, and are into art, pop over to the show.
And now since I’ve bragged, I want to give you equal opportunity. Who are you proud of in your life? Who makes you smile? Who makes feel warm and gooey when you think about them? Come on, share a little.
Posted by Christie Craig at 3:15 AM
Monday, September 06, 2010
Don't you just love Monday holidays! In keeping with my "I hate Mondays" stance in life, I am willing to vote for a bill that moves every holiday to the nearest Monday. We can have everything observed - Christmas observed, Fourth of July observed. The actual day doesn't matter as long as it's a day off, right?
Well, sorta a day off. You know me. Always working. So today's a day off from the day job, but not a day off from working on the latest Harlequin Intrigue. I have to say though, that I am REALLY enjoying writing this format and these stories. I'm differing greatly from my norm as Intrigue does not publish humor and have delved into the arena of gothic romances. Not wildly paranormal, as Intrigue doesn't go much that direction either and neither do I, but just enough creepy to make you shiver - hopefully!
Here's a little teaser from the first book, THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU, coming March 2011.
Olivia Markham makes her living by renting haunted houses and writing about them, but when she rents laMalediction (the Curse), she realizes it's the house from her nightmares. A house she's never set foot in before now. Olivia's determined to figure out her connection to the mansion tucked deep in the Louisiana swamp, but someone is just as determined to see that she doesn't.
Is it just me that loves the idea of a spooky house, cut off from civilization? I love those kind of movies, too. The second book is a related to the first and will finish off an overarching mystery plot.
So what are you up to today? Work? Relaxation? Both?
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 7:33 AM
Friday, September 03, 2010
VIVA LAS VEGAS was a book I originally wrote before I wrote my first High Heels novel. It won several wards, including a Golden Heart award, but ultimately my editor decided she wanted to go in a different direction and bought my High Heels series instead of this book. So, even though it has been near and dear to my heart for years, it has never been published. Until now! VIVA LAS VEGAS is not a mystery, like most of my previous books, but more of a humorous women's fiction story - sort of a cross between Sex and the City and Eat, Pray, Love. Here's a short blurb and a video book trailer:
VIVA LAS VEGAS
The Queen of Hearts: Mary Halligan can't get over her ex-fiancee, can't get a date to her little sister's wedding, and can't help being faced with happily ever after everyday at the wedding chapel where she works for an Elvis impersonating reverend.
The Full House: Ella Campbell is a former showgirl turned minivan driving mom who can't quite figure out how it happened that she and her perfect husband are sleeping in separate rooms.
The Ace of Clubs: Kit (just Kit) is a magician's assistant who wishes she could make her attraction for her married boss disappear.
The Straight Flush: David Shepard is a flamboyant showboy with only one thing hotter than his dancing career - his lover’s jealous temper.
Four friends. Four different points of view. One story of love, loss and lust in the most decadent place on earth. The only question is, what are the odds of finding true love in the city of sin?
~Trigger Happy Halliday
(By the way... Kindle books are viewable not only on a Kindle device, but also on your iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, Mac, or PC.)
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 3:00 AM
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
My daughter, Margaret, started junior hi... I mean middle school three weeks ago. And while I'm correcting myself (which I find myself doing often now that she's reached this age - not by choice - I might add) I should call her Meg - which she suddenly prefers.
ANYWAY, Meg loves junior... I mean middle school. I'm serious. She loves it. On the first day, the eighth graders applauded the seventh grade as they entered the gym. She's even taking Home Ec... I mean Facts (whatever that means).
I feel like I'm seriously missing something here.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled it's working out for her. I'm just shocked, that's all. I've been preparing for this for a couple of years. Hell, I've even read Queen Bees and Wannabees in preparation for the terror and tears I thought would come.
Instead, Meg's experience is completely different than mine.
In the '70's, when I - ahem - went to what we then called Junior High - those two years were a nightmare. I actually tried to convince my parents to send me to an equestrian boarding school in Ohio.
Instead of applauding and supporting us, the eighth graders considered us "fresh meat" and couldn't wait to torment and torture us. There were no peer counselors, no week-long ice-breakers and fun. That kind of support was considered ridiculous. We were expected to suffer the same hazing they had. Even today, at 44, I shudder remembering the stress and strain. Now the school is made up of Stepford Kids.
And Home Ec was not a requirement. In fact, I took Art every semester to avoid that class. And I still have the bust of Inspector Clousseau to prove it. But now, it's called Life Skills or FACTS. FACTS? Well, she will be learning how to iron a shirt...so I guess that's something.
There are some "improvements" I don't like however. Back in the day, JH was where you were first exposed to a lot of team sports. Everyone made the team. Sure, your butt would be warming the bench if you sucked but you still made the team.
Now, the first two weeks are made up of auditions. And they're hard. You have to try out for the volleyball team, for example. And most girls don't make it. One of the few things you don't have to try out for is cross country track. Everyone makes the team. However, if you want to compete you have to be able to run 2 miles. 2 miles. You even have to fill out an application for the newspaper staff and there's no guarantee there. Hell, we probably won't even have newspapers when these kids graduate.
I guess it's a trade off. Middle school is a happier, emotionally (and apparently physically) safer place than it was when I was there. But it was your introduction to a lot of activities you didn't have in elementary school. Everybody could join.
So, I'm confused. But I guess if Meg is so happy, I shouldn't worry about it. I'll just open a bottle of vodka, and forget about the crap I went through. It's a new world.
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 6:30 AM