Thursday, June 30, 2011

Squeezing another batch of lemonade...

Recently I've had a lot of lemonades hurled at me. From flooding basements to automobile breakdowns, to scary wind and electrical storms, it's been a wild couple of weeks. I've had a handyman in and out of the house the last two weeks trying to get some things done. When I'm not working, I'm priming, painting, weed killing, and decluttering--which put me way behind schedule on my writing. Earlier this week I decided that--come hell or high water--(pun ever so much intended) I was going to sit my fanny down in my office chair in front of the computer and get my next proposal finished up and sent out.

I had originally hoped to have it mailed off before the Romance Writers of America's National Conference so as not to have to compete with mountains of requested submissions making their way to editors' desks after the conference ends. Well, I almost made it. I sent the proposal material out yesterday. Now the real fun begins: the interminable wait for a response.

Quite frankly, I figured since the last ten days have been so incredibly crappy (those lemons) I had to have something positive to counteract the negative (the lemonade). So, I wrote and rewrote and polished and edited and had my English major kid proof the proposal before I mailed it out.

Okay. On one level I know that I could get beaned by another lemon if my proposal doesn't pass muster. However, until such time as that may or may not occur, I'm going to enjoy the satisfaction of having taken a sucky week and made something sweet instead.

On the suckiness scale, how has life treated you lately? Here's your chance to rant, opine, or boast--or all of the aforementioned.

Me? I plan to have a nice cold glass of lemonade.

Oh, and happy Independence Day! Be safe when you celebrate!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Opening Lines

Last night was one of those nights where I was desperate to read something, but couldn’t figure out what. I ended up over by the keeper shelf. Still, I don’t know what it was – I couldn’t even settle on a favorite. I did, however, read a lot of absolutely fantastic opening lines.

“Looking back, I guess my first mistake was to assume that a rookie reporter could pursue both a hot story and a hot sex life.”
Bubbles Ablaze by Sarah Strohmeyer

“The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.”

Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

“The blackened shell of the house still stands on the edge of the moor.”
Greygallows by Barbara Michaels

“My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day.”
Dark Fever by Karen Marie Moning

“Two blocks from the restaurant, Zoe Tarleton knew she was screwed.”
Gone with the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson

“Captain Crosbie came out of the bank with the pleased air of one who has cashed a cheque and has discovered that there is just a little more in his account than he though there was.”
They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

“Falling out of Heaven is the easy part. It’s landing that’s difficult.”
Angel with Attitude by Michelle Rowen

“Sometimes, it seems like all I ever do is lie.”
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

There were even more, but darned if I’m going to type them all. It was fun to get drawn into my favorite books all over again. So what about you? Do you have any favorite opening lines? Post yours and you’re entered to win a brand spanking new copy of any of the books above. Winner’s choice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coming Home

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

For those of you who don’t know, The Romance Writers of America’s National Conference starts today in New York and for me, it’s a homecoming.

I was born in Brooklyn and yesterday, my critique partners, my husband, and my youngest daughter packed up the SUV and went to explore my hometown. Of course, the first thing we did when we got to Brooklyn was eat. We went to L & B Spumoni Gardens and had great Italian food—and for me to say it was great is really saying something.

Then we were off to the Kensington section and Minna Street—my childhood home where my family lived for over fifty years. My grandparents’ house was on the end of the short street—only a few blocks long. Even the sections of the street had names. Our section is called old Minna. I looked at the two streetlights that formed the boundary of my little world as a young child, the place I could play stoop ball, kick the can, ride my trike or bike, and skate with one skate. Okay, I guess the one skate thing requires an explanation. My grandmother would allow me to only use one skate, which would be on the street, while my sneekered foot would be on the curb pushing me along. That way my sister and I could skate at the same time without falling—much. We were allowed to play between the lampposts at the far side of my house and the end of the row of homes my grandparents’ lived in. I realized the distance was only about 100 yards—I remember stepping beyond the lamppost wondering if lightening would strike me dead—it didn’t, but then I didn’t spend much time testing the theory. For a woman who was five foot two and one hundred nineteen pounds, my nanny could be pretty scary—she knew how to wield a broom like no one I’ve ever seen.

The planter my great-grandfather made still stands proudly out front of my grandparents’ house—not that there is any choice in the matter, the darn thing probably weighs a ton—literally. What I would give to go to the door and buy it from the new owners. I’m just not sure how I’d get it home. My husband figured it would take eight men just to move it.

After driving through Kensington and Park Slope we were off to Red Hook—the area where my next series will take place.

Red Hook, at one time not all that long ago, was the crack capital of the world. It houses the largest public housing project in Brooklyn—the Red Hook Houses. Ten years ago I wouldn’t walk through Red Hook in broad daylight. Now, the area is going through resurgence. It’s still gritty, but Ikea moved in—bringing folks across the river from lower Manhattan on a free ferry to shop. The Fairway Market—the world’s most awesome grocery store took over one of the old docks—condos were built above it with views of Lady Liberty (which faces Red Hook), Governors Island, the Verrazano Bridge, and the Manhattan sky line. Restaurants and art galleries are springing up, and the waterfront is coming alive.

After hanging out at the Fairview and buying more food—okay, we eat a lot. Who can resist miniature connoli cake? We got back into the car for a ride to Brooklyn Heights where we walked around looking at all the great brownstones and worked up an appetite.

After yet another nosh at the Height Restaurant and Bar, we walked the Promenade—a long park that runs the length of Brooklyn Heights all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge--and took in the Manhattan skyline at night.

The conference begins today, and for the rest of the week I’ll be working non-stop. I’m so glad that I went home yesterday and had one of the first relaxing days I’ve had in a long time. Whenever I go home to Brooklyn, I’m at peace in a way I am nowhere else. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to show my daughter her roots, to get a picture of her by the lamppost where four generations have now been photographed and to share the place I’ve never forgotten.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Writing Process: Ever Evolving? Or Back to Basics?

For those interested in writing for Intrigue, I did a blog post for Harlequin a bit ago that talks about writing spooky. Check it out if you're interested.

It's another fabulous Monday morning and today I have a special treat for readers - a guest post by extraordinary Harlequin Intrigue author, Julie Miller. If you read the Intrigue line or have even scanned the books in a grocery store, I'm sure you recognize Julie's name. She's been so kind to provide us with an inside look at a piece of her writing process.

The more I write, the more I learn about writing. I've always believed that as a teacher, and I'm seeing it firsthand as my writing career progresses. Whether published or not, there's always something to learn from completing a writing project.

I recently finished revisions and updates for the first novel I ever had published--IMMORTAL HEART, a paranormal romantic suspense--that has been reissued as an ebook this month. That was 40+ novels ago. And wow, what an interesting trip down memory lane to read through that ms again. There were some obvious updates content-wise after 15 years that I needed to address--giving my techno-wiz heroine a cell phone, changing her videotape collection to DVD's, using flash drives instead of (groan) floppy disks.

But I discovered that my writing style has changed over the years, too. I discovered a few cliches in the ms--maybe they were fresh back then, but they've been overused now. I discovered that I must have had a favorite word back then because I used it a LOT in that ms (I've changed several of them, played with different phrasing in the new version so it doesn't jump out at the reader the way it kept jumping out at me). Plus, I think I'm a tighter writer now (ooh, that rhymes). For example, I can see that I took fewer chances with breaking the rules of grammar and sentence structure. Some sentences--dialogue, especially--I wanted to snap in half so that the pacing moved faster and it sounded more realistic to those characters. Of course, I was still teaching English full-time when I first wrote that story, so maybe all those rules I insisted my students use were stuck in my head, influencing my style. I hope I've given the story the contemporary, fast-paced tone I use now to go along with (what I'm pleased to discover) the same deep characterization that I still have today.

As I begin my next writing project (the first of a new Precinct miniseries for Harlequin Intrigue, tentatively titled THE MARINE NEXT DOOR), I'm keeping in mind the evolution of my writing style. No more 'darlin's' unless that hero is from Texas, and even then, probably not. And really, 'galvanized' is a cool word, but I think using it once in a ms is plenty since it's so unique. I'm giving myself permission to play with those grammar rules. My ms will still be clean and easy to read, but I will break some rules intentionally for certain effects in my story.
And there's something else in that first novel that I want to get back to in my writing. That truly was a book of my heart (in fact, the whole trilogy I wrote featuring that group of IMMORTAL HEART characters was a books of the heart project). While I know there are certain requirements in writing now--right tone for the line, required length, certain level of heat, hooks that readers like, etc.--I don't want to limit myself creatively. I want to dream more, let my imagination go, allow myself to feel the joy of writing that I felt back then. I want to revisit favorite characters who are near and dear to my heart, and create new ones who sweep my imagination off its feet. For example, in the first book of this Precinct miniseries, I'm already thinking of some tweaks I want to give my hero, John Murdock. Deepen the angst and conflict. Incorporate some things that have touched me in real life recently. And so on. As I write this 45th book, I want to try to recapture that book of the heart feeling. The ptb at Harlequin say that readers are looking for something a little unpredictable and fresh in their books, while still being able to bank on the promise of a particular line. I'm hoping to pull that unpredictability into my story by trusting my instincts and playing a little more.

So that's where I am in my process--reflecting back on how far I've come while giving myself permission to break a few more of those rules I didn't know about back then that I know now. I'm looking forward to writing my next slate of projects with this new attitude. That'll keep it fresh and exciting for me as a writer, as well as for the readers. I hope!

I've got a backlist title or copy of my upcoming August Intrigue, PROTECTING THE PREGNANT WITNESS, to give away to one lucky poster. Ask a question about writing or upcoming projects. Share what you would consider fresh or unpredictable in the Intrigues/Harlequins you read. Or just share what you've been reminiscing about lately.

Happy Reading!
Julie Miller

Please include an email address in your post so Julie has a way to contact you. Thanks so much for guest blogging, Julie! I loved your post.

Have a great week, everyone!

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Laughing, Swooning, and Dying. In That Order.

And now for something totally different... when my friend and fellow Romance Diva, Mima, first talked about her new releases, my first thought was "Ohmigod, how cool!  And brilliant!"   I only wish I'd thought of this idea first. Tell me you don't have that reaction, too, after reading about her unique take on the romance genre...   

*   *   *

I understand the mandate of this blog is to laugh, swoon, and viciously kill fictional baddies. I’m thrilled to have been invited to Killer Fiction and would like to try to fit in. Recently, I had three choose your own adventure-style interactive books release. I call the series Take Control. Get it? Readers click on a choice they prefer and the heroine’s life takes a nose dive. Or a pumpkin coach. It’s kismet ala YOU. So let’s see if I meet the mandate enough to enjoy this real estate.

Laughing. In the contemporary western, Lauren, Riding Off Trail, a city girl has lots of awkward moments on a classy dude ranch. But perhaps the most classic is a near-death petit-mort. While enjoying an energetic cowboy, there is a slight mishap in a hayloft resulting in a falling bale and shocked square dancers. There is Lauren, in all her glory, framed at the top of the barn. Oops!

Swooning. The scifi has the most guys. Becca, Reporting for Duty is a space opera full of wild twists. Becca’s Captain is an experienced man with gorgeous eyes and a mobster past. Her Senior Chief is a lothario with a penchant for whiskey. He’s charming, but threatening. Then there’s the cook, who has a tail. He helps her discover her first zero-gravity planet swing. The ambassador with wings thinks she has what it takes to be a concubine, and two of her ex-con dock workers compete for her attention. And don’t forget the frozen guy. He’s waiting for his moment too. In the shower, in a narrow bunk, on silken sheets, on a table, against a cold cargo bay wall, or hidden in a crawl-space, Becca gets busy. Her guys are risky, mysterious, buff, and dangerous. Every single one. Watch those choices. They could kill you.

Speaking of death... In the paranormal Charlotte, Prowling for Enchantment, our heroine discovers she’s a foxfire. That’s a kind of fairy that uses moon and water magic. Charlotte happens to be on a Caribbean cruise, where there’s lots of both. The ruling Elder of the fantastical gathering on ship is a cruel Fairy Queen. Willing to use torture,drugs, and blackmail, she is accompanied by two formidable guards, Willow and Winter. She needs to be taken out. Find the right path and it’s a glorious (violent) smackdown.

I love books that blend humor, heat, and hijinks, and I hope readers will like that combination in the Take Control series. Try to thread your way through several of the choices to the perfect fairy tale ending. It’s fun.


Visit Mima at her webpage, to read excerpts and reviews of Take Control or any of her other 15 erotic romances. Comment here on your own experience (or lack thereof) reading an interactive fiction book and be entered in a chance to win one of the Take Control books!  Winner announced tomorrow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Not going to RWA?

Not Going to Conference?

Attend Romance Divas' Annual Not Going to Conference Conference June 28-July 1

Romance Divas' annual virtual conference features workshops, publisher spotlights, pitch-your-book opportunities, fabulous doorprize giveaways and more.

It's FREE!

And nobody says you can't wear fabulous shoes while you're recharging your writer batteries from home.

LIKE the NGTCC on Facebook for future updates in 2012 and beyond.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Shopping, A Lot Of Justifying

My birthday is coming up at the end of August and lately I've been thinking a lot about what that means to my skin. When I was younger my only skincare concerns revolved around my occasional breakouts. But now 40 no longer seems like just an idea. At this moment my skin still looks pretty good but there are little things that are bugging me. Subtle fine lines have taken residence on my forehead. My skin looks a little duller than it used to and it takes a little more concealer to hide the dark circles under my eyes.

L'Occitane Creme Mains (Shea Butter Hand Cream), 1-Ounce TubeClarisonic Mia Sonic Cleansing System - BlueThese are now the issues that weigh on me and then, in a sudden and rare fit of indulgence, I decided I was going to do something about it. I went out and splurged on a lot of different skincare products. I mean a lot, a lot, a lot.  I got the Clarisonic Mia (an exfoliator made by the people who make Sonicare toothbrush), Skinceuticals Renew Overnight OilyNeocutis Lumière Bio-restoritive eye cream Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick and L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream.

None of these products are cheap but something came over me and I just had to have all of them. I got most of them online from various sites (chosen based on who had the best-price/free-gift/free-shipping) so they were delivered to my door on different days. The whole of last week was sort of like Hanukkah with eight days of presents. The only difference is that instead of praying to God and lighting a menorah before opening each one I sent up a silent "Thank You!" to the skincare-lab-technitions of the world and kissed my InStyle magazine.

But of course I couldn't help but feel a little guilty. My son goes to a very expensive special education private school which I can barely afford and I'm splurging on luxury skincare? I needed to be reassured. I dialed up my friend M who picked up despite being on the treadmill.

"I spent a bundle on skincare," I moaned.

"That's good! It's an investment!" M chirped.

"Yes," I said, immediately warming to this idea. "And I did a lot of research before I bought each product. I found out who had the best price and who had free shipping!"

"That's smart," she said sagely. "Shipping can get pricey."

"I think if I don't take care of my skin now I'll want plastic surgery later!"I added.

"And that's really expensive!" she pointed out. "You're saving yourself a ton of money! If you think about it, this really isn't any different from spending money on medicine!"

"So what you're saying," I said excitedly, "is that it would have been financially irresponsible for me not to have spent this money on myself!"

"Of course it would have been! Now tell me about everything you bought."

And so of course I did. I've only been using the products for a week but I can honestly say that all of them are living up to my expectations (the Neocutis Lumière eye cream has surpassed them). So I'm happy I splurged. But mostly I'm happy that I have wonderful friends like M. Friends who understand that to be a true friend you have to know how to do more than just listen and talk and empathize (although those things are all essential).

You have to know how and when to justify your girlfriend's shopping spree. Thank you M :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Dove Wrappers Are Inappropriate, Part Deux...

It's that time again! My Dove wrappers have been talking to me, and saying the strangest things. So, I thought I'd share these with you:

  • "It's OK to be fabulous AND flawed!" So - this justifies the fact that I'm a goddess who turns into stark raving lunatic once a month at that time of the month? Awesome! Mr. Assassin is sooooo screwed!

  • "Take advantage of every free moment you have!" Ok, that's just mean. With Mr. Assassin off at terrorist school, I'm a single mom of two with a day job, books to write, and a cat litter box that won't clean itself (DAMMIT!). And if I had a free moment, the instant I tried to take advantage of it, it would be over! Why? Cuz it's only a MOMENT!

  • "Indulge your sense of amusement." Would this little scrap of foil be admissable in court? Because what I consider indulging my sense of amusement might be illegal in most states. I'm not sure that luring a certain co-worker (blindfolded, naturalmente!) into a busy intersection would go over big.

  • "Chocolate won't let you down." Oh yeah? Maybe not my taste buds (which seem to have an unnatural addiction for the stuff), but chocolate certainly has let down my mid-section...and my ability to produce insulin.

  • "Don't settle for a spark...light a fire instead!" I'm sorry, Your Honor. My Dove Dark Chocolate foil wrapper told me to burn down Paris Hilton's house. It really wasn't my fault."

  • "Sing out loud! Who cares what you sound like?" I've seen enough opening seasons of American Idol to respond, "DON'T. Please don't. I have been known to indulge my sense of amusement and I do have matches."

  • "Unrap, Breathe, Enjoy." Un Unh. I fell for this once, Mr. Assassin! I won't fall for it again.

  • "Your smile is your best accessory." Don't let THAT get out. I've been telling Mr. A for years that my PRADA handbag (which, by the way, he DID NOT buy under duress on my 40th birthday) is my best accessory. Maybe he won't read this.

  • "You're delicious." Proof that Dove writers are zombies or cannibals. Or both.

What do your wrappers tell you?

The Assassin

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Have to See This!

WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!!! The Winner of Suzan Hardens and my contest posted Sunday is.... Mia Marlowe. And I pulled two names out of the hat accidentally so I decided to go with both of them: Staceyapurcell and MsHellion. Email me at christie (@) christie - Craig .com

Thank you to everyone who played along.


Contest! Contest!

“You have to see this!”

When someone says that to me, there’s always this flutter of excitement in my chest. My mind starts to try and figure out what the heck it is that I HAVE to see. As a person who loves nature and is lured toward sunsets, beautiful landscapes, rainbows, and cute animals, I always hurry with anticipation to fill my eyes with some new bit of wonder.

I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous bits of nature--things that inspire me and leave me awestruck. Things that, just from looking at them, starts chills running up my spine; and for some reason, I hear a small voice deep inside my head whispering some fortune-cookie message, or at the least, the perfect caption for that particular piece of visual candy.

Coincidentally, when someone tells me “you gotta see this” my fingers immediately start to itch for the feel of my camera. Whatever “this” is that someone is certain that I HAVE to see, I feel driven to capture it on film, or in digital pixels. I feel it even before I fix my gaze on what it is that I must see. My gut tells me that if it’s worthy of that kind of excitement, I don’t want to just see it once, I want to see again and again. And I want to share it. Below are just a few of my past gotta-see-‘em images.

Inspiring, right? Ahh, but this particular gotta-see-this experience was a tad different than most of my others. Don’t get me wrong, I got chills dancing up my spine, and I heard that whispery voice offering up caption-type messages playing in my head. But I wasn’t so awestruck as I was . . . shocked. Maybe horrified. Not that it stopped my fingers from itching for my camera. And yes, I managed to capture the image in digital pixels. (Where is the image? Be patient, it’s coming.)

Now, one might worry about the person, a neighbor, who anxiously dragged me out onto her patio to see “this.” In her defense, there was wine involved. I suppose the most disturbing fact was that she thought I would be thrilled to see it. What kind of person does she think I am? Wait, that’s not the most disturbing fact. The most disturbing fact is that she was right. I had to see it. I mean, I’m blogging about it, aren’t I? Hey…I’m a writer and you guys know that gives me a license to be weird.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering…yes, my photo subject did meet his maker. Also, I would like to state that my neighbor, or I, played no part in the demise of this creature. It was in lizard heaven when she found the poor soul. She can’t, however, say the same for Winston, her feline, whose favorite pastime is running lizard patrol in her backyard.

And because I’m feeling generous, I’m offering a copy of Born at Midnight, the first book in my Shadow Falls series, as a prize to the best caption for this gotta-see-it image. And to play fair, I’m going to give you two that came to mind:

1) You think you had a bad day!

2) Be careful when taking a leap of faith.

So there you have it, my crazy captions. So come on, get your thinking caps on, give your funny bone a workout, and get creative. The winner will be posted tomorrow at the beginning of this blog, so make sure you pop over to see if you are the winner.


By the way, don't forget about the contest still going on from Sunday's blog. Check it out. Suzan Harden and I are giving away more prizes and the winner of that contest and the one being help today will be announced first thing in the morning at the top of this blog.

Monday, June 20, 2011

THE WAR IS ON! by Diane Kelly

Summer in north Texas. Ugh. Surely hell can’t be any hotter than this!

Yep, we’ve been battling the heat. But unlike the Dallas Mavericks, who successfully battled the Miami Heat for the national championship (neener-neener, Lebron!), we are losing this war.

Battle number one involved the upstairs air conditioning unit. The system developed a leak three years ago, but despite a dozen visits to our house, fluorescent fluid run through the unit, and a virtual dismantling of the entire system, the tech was unable to find this elusive leak. The A/C was recharged several times with coolant, and we’d eke through another month or so. The only upside of this problem was that the upstairs space includes the game room and two bedrooms, all of which are used exclusively by our teenaged son and daughter. The warm upstairs temperature lulled them into a droopy-eyed lethargy, so at least they lacked the energy to give us the usual teenage rebellion and drama. We recently replaced the entire system, including the ductwork, and now, nearly eight-thousand dollars later, the upstairs is tolerable. Not cool. Tolerable. Apparently, even a brand-new two-ton unit is no match for day after day of 100-plus temperatures.

The soaring temperatures are also causing problems with our water heater. For some reason, the architect who designed our house placed the water heater in the attic. I guess he thought it would be a hoot if the thing leaked and came crashing through our ceiling. At any rate, after an extreme hailstorm a couple years ago, we had to get the roof replaced. The roofing company rep convinced us it would be a good idea to place air vents along the angles of the roof to help air circulation in the attic. He assured us the vents would keep the attic cooler and lower our electric bills. We’ve seen no reduction in our bills, but what we have experienced is the vents providing the perfect amount of airflow to blow out the pilot light on our water heater. Before we take a shower, we have to test the water to see if it’s hot and, if not, make a trip up into the attic to reignite the darn pilot light.

The final battle involves varmints. Ants, desperate to find water, keeping finding their way into the house. We’ve sprayed so much Raid and Black Flag around the house it smells like a chemistry lab. So pleasant. Of course the chemical smell is sometimes overpowered by the musty stench of wet dog. Our Dalmation-mix dog has decided that taking a dip in our backyard pond is the perfect way to cool off. And what better way to spread the joy then running back inside and shaking muddy water all over the place?

I have found one good way to cool off, though. It involves a lime-flavored concoction in a salt-rimmed glass.

Help! How do you beat the summer heat? Post your suggestion here, then email your mailing address to and I’ll send you a fun swag bag!

Diane Kelly's debut novel, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, will be released on November 1st and is available for pre-order now at online booksellers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My LIfe is So Much More Worse Than Yours

Contest! Contest! Today I have a special treat for you guys. My good buddy and critique partner, Suzan Harden and I came together for some cross promotion. Suzan writes, well, whacky and fun urban fantasies and starting today we’re offering a contest that will run until midnight, Tuesday, June 21st. All you have to do is read the post and leave a comment telling us who you think has worse problems, Kylie or Sam. Okay…You got the floor, Suzan!!!


New writers are constantly worried about other folks stealing their ideas. Well, Christie and I can tell you the truth: Take the same basic concept—young blonde woman gets embroiled in supernatural shenanigans and has to deal with the resulting chaos in her life, not to mention freaked-out family members—and two different writers are going to come up with two very different books.

Meet Kylie Galen from Christie’s alter ego C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series and Samantha “Sam” Ridgeway from my, Suzan Harden’s, Bloodlines series. We brought them to Panera Bread, our favorite meeting spot, for their own little conversation.

Take it away, ladies!



Kylie: “So, you’re, um, a reporter, right?”

Sam: “I used to be. I work for a vampire now. A guy named Burnett called him about talking to you. Something about you not being sure what you are.”

Kylie: “Oh. Well, I’m not. Not sure I mean. All the other supernaturals look at me like I’m a freak.” *Glances up at Sam with puzzlement* “He said you sort of have the same problem.”

Sam: “ Sort of. So, is anything specific happening with you? Sprouting hair certain times of the month? A desire to drink liquids you don’t normally drink?

Kylie: *blushes* “Well, I. . .”

Sam: “Like the taste of blood?”

Kylie: “Yeah.”

Sam: *grabs Kylie’s wrist and holds it to her nose*

Kylie: *jerks hand back* “I’m not a snack!”

Sam: *shrugs* “It’s the fastest way to find out what you are. . .”

Kylie: “How would you know?”

Sam: “Trust me. I know.”

Kylie: *almost comes out of her seat* “So what am I?”

Sam: *touches her nose* “Good question. I’ve never smelled anything like you before. But you do smell yummy.”

Kylie: *scoots her chair back* “Good grief! What are you? A were-bloodhound?”

Sam: “Hey, keep your voice down. There’s too many Normals in here.”

Kylie: “Normals?”

Sam: “Yeah, regular people.”

Kylie: “I liked it a lot better when I thought I was normal. Then I just had my mom and dad’s divorce to deal with. And my grandmother’s death, and boy troubles, and best friend going off the deep end, and oh, I was seeing ghosts then, too. I just didn’t know they were ghosts. Oh, heck, maybe my life sucked when I thought I was normal, too.”

Sam: “Have you talked to your parents about this supernatural stuff?

Kylie: *shakes head* “Look, I just found out my dad's really my stepdad. My biological dad is the one who’s some kind of supernatural being. He's not sure what he is, and to top it off, he's dead. And is running out of earth time.”

Sam: “Of course, he’s running out of time. He’s not supposed to be here.”

Kylie: “But I want a chance to know him.”

Sam: “You are getting to know him even if it’s not how you want, so quit whining. At least you weren’t someone's science experiment. You were born this way." *slaps head* "Oh god, now I'm quoting Lady Gaga songs. I wonder if that meat dress she wore was real meat.” *looks around* “Does this place have something more substantial than soup and bread? I'm really hungry. Is there some place I can get a hamburger?" *stomach growls* “Or a dozen?”

Kylie: *leans away from the table* “What are you?”

Sam: “What do you mean?”

Kylie: “You’re not human. You mentioned an experiment. Did someone do something to you? Your brain pattern is. . .weird.”

Sam: “Cut it out with the brain jokes.”

Kylie: “I wasn’t joking. What’s wrong with you?”

Sam: *stomach growls again* “I’ll be right back.” *comes back with six quiches* “Okay, where were we?”

Kylie: “What kind of an experiment did they do to you? Enlarge your stomach?”

Sam: “Ha-ha. These scientists were trying to replicate the pluses of vampirism without all the side effects. They were not nice people. I was kidnapped and used as a guinea pig.”

Kylie: “You’re eating real food. Most vamps don’t really care for food.”

Sam: “I’m also kind of dead, thanks to those ass—ur—jerks.”

Kylie: “You can’t be dead. Look, I’m not saying I’m the hottest French fry in the pack, but there’s one thing I know something about, and it’s ghosts. You’re not really dead. Well, not dead like the dead I have to deal with.”

Sam: *shrugs* “My witch doctor is looking into it.”

Kylie: “Witch doctor?”

Sam: “She’s a witch with an M.D. But every other witch confirms my aura is black, which means I’m dead.”

Kylie: “My friend Miranda is a witch. She might be—“

Sam: “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve been poked, prodded and spelled enough.”

Kylie: *Looks embarrassed to ask.* “I kind of overheard someone say you were a zombie. Is that right?”

Sam: *glares at Kylie while eating the last quiche*

Kylie: “Well, you said you’re sort of dead and you eat a lot, right?”

Sam: “Do you see any body parts falling off?”

Kylie: “No, but—”

Sam: “If we’re going to discuss embarrassing sh-shtuff, let’s talk about why I smell two guys all over you.”

Kylie: *turns red* “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sam: *breathes deeply* “The werewolf and the fairy.”

Kylie: “Derek’s only half fairy.”

Sam: “Half-smalf. Kid, take it from me. Fairies are nothing but trouble.”

Kylie: “What’s that supposed to mean? Derek’s always been sweet, and kind, and—”

Sam: “And he likes to mess with your mind?”

Kylie: “He only does it when I’m upset.”

Sam: “Uh-huh. What’s the were’s name?”

Kylie: “Lucas.”

Sam: “Trust me. Stick with the canine. They’re a lot more faithful.”

Kylie: “And how many werewolves have you dated?”

Sam: “None, but—”

Kylie: “Do you even have a boyfriend?”

Sam: “Yes, but—”

Kylie: “And what is he?”

Sam: “A vampire, but—”

Kylie: “So you have no idea of what it’s like to decide between two guys.” *looks out window* “Look, I appreciate your advice, but this is something I have to decide on my own.”

Sam: “Hey, just remember dog equals loyalty.”

Kylie: *look down at Sam’s empty plates* “Do you not worry about getting fat?”

Sam: *Rolls her eyes* “Nope. My metabolism changed with my appetite.”

Kylie: “So you’re lucky, huh?”

Sam: *frowns* “You call this lucky?”

Kylie: “Luckier than me?”

Sam: “Just because you see dead people, you think you have it worse?”

Kylie: “It’s not as easy as it sounds. I mean, right now there’s a dead guy standing next to you with his throat slashed, and he wants me to help him and he might not even know he’s dead.”

Sam: *looks around and frowns* “Well, try having the appetite of the entire Rams’ offensive line, and if I don’t eat every couple of hours, bad things happen. Do you know how hard it is to go to family dinners now?”

Kylie: *smiles* “We could probably stay here all day and try to one up each other. But I see my mom is here. I gotta go.”

Sam: *Nods head and smiles* “Nice meeting you.”

Kylie: * scurries for the door*

Sam: *shakes head* “What a strange kid.”

Kylie: *glances back one more time* “What a strange woman.”


There you have it, folks. In the comments, let us know who has the worse problems, Kylie or Sam, and why.

And since it’s me and Christie, you know we’re having a contest. I’m giving away Sam’s e-book debut, Zombie Love, and the first Bloodlines novel, Blood Magick. Christie is throwing in a signed copy of Born at Midnight and some swag. A commenter will be randomly selected to win our goodies.


Suzan Harden grew up on a working farm in Ohio Amish country, though she’s not Amish. Mucking out pig stalls gives a girl lots of time to make up stories, but with a practical family, writing wasn’t considered a practical employment option. However, according to her Career Line on her palm, she’ll have three primary careers in her life. Writing is the last one. She currently lives in southeastern Texas with a husband who believes writing is a practical career option, a kid who thinks she’s too enamored with zombies, and a beagle who wants his belly scratched.

Both Zombie Love and Blood Magick, book 1 of her Bloodlines series, are available for Kindle at Amazon. For more information on Suzan, visit her blog,

Friday, June 17, 2011

Romance Trading Cards

Have you guys seen these yet? Oh-em-gee, they are fun! Okay, I’ve been a little bit out of the loop lately having not been to a writing conference since Baby Boy was born. So, I’m sure some of you are going, “Uh, Gemma? Old news, honey.” But I just saw my first set of RTC’s (as the cool kids call them), and the collector in me suddenly perked up at full attention.
For anyone else out of the loop like me, Romance Trading Cards are like baseball cards for romance novels. Authors print up sets with the book cover on the front and some sort of stats/info about characters from the book on the back. Almost anything goes, so I’ve seen a variety of different designs and formats.
So, recently I did an event at a Barnes & Noble store, and BN was fabulous enough to print up some cards for me. They went so fast! Readers really liked them and, I’ll admit, so did I. Then the other author I did the event with, Bella Andre, whipped out a batch of glossy, colorful RTCs she’d had printed up herself, and oh my were they purty. Bella directed me to, a free site that displays RTC’s available. I fell in love. I want one of each! Lol! It’s so fun gathering up full collections of cards from my fav books. I haerd a rumor that even more authors will have cards at RWA. I’m hoping to get my friend to snag some for me!

So, spurred one by this new dangerously addicting collection hobby, I spent the entire weekend gleefully putting together some RTC’s of my own. The result? The High Heels Romance Trading Card collection!

What do you guys think? I have five covers and five characters in all.  Throughout the summer I'll be giving them away free on my website, but each card will only be available for a limited time! Right now, you can get Card #1: SPYING IN HIGH HEELS. Check out the details on my website.

In the meantime, I’m giving away a full set to one commenter today! So, post in the comments section what other series/books you’d love to see an RTC for, and you’ll be entered to win

Happy trading!

~Trigger (and RTC!) Happy Halliday

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here We Go Again

It's spring in Iowa. And that has come to mean monsoon season. And...flooding. And this spring, unfortunately, is no exception. While my personal little battle against rising water pales in comparison to the devastating flooding and possible impending flooding on the western borders of our state due to the Missouri river leaving its banks, nevertheless, this past week I've felt like I've been on the front lines of flood defense.

First, a little backstory. As you may recall, I recently put my home up for sale in order to relocate closer to my job. As you might also recall, I have had severe basement flooding the past several years due to 'five hundred year' floods we seem to get every spring and sometimes even in the fall. So, I invested thousands of dollars in 'fixes' to stop the water from finding its way into my basement. Two check valves and a gargantuan exterior sump pump pit and sump--along with considerable green later--we thought we could finally thumb our noses at Mother Nature the next time she decided to throw another water event at us.

You SO don't want to screw with Mother Nature.

Thursday night our town received 5.56 inches of rain. It started around midnight and rained so hard I couldn't see the street out front. But I figured, hey, I'm good. I'm protected this time around. Still, I couldn't shake that feeling of dread that usually came over me as I stood at the top of the basement stairs and switched on the light.

No water lapped at the bottom of the stairs. This was surely a good sign. Right? I decide to check just to make sure everything is high and dry and descend the stairs. At the bottom step I hear this ominous gurgling sound. So. Not. Good.

You're protected, I tell myself. Two check valves. A monster of a sump pump. What could co wrong?

As it turns out, everything.

No sooner had I heaved a sigh of relief when I checked out one of the floor drains. You know. The drain that the check valve was supposed to prevent water from coming back through. And as I looked on, water began to pour out of the drain and into the basement laundry room. Yep. Somehow that damned water had found its way in.

At 2:30 in the morning, my son and I are back in our flood fighting mode, pulling out the portable sump pumps, hooking the hoses back up and sticking them out the basement windows once again. In between I was on the phone to the city and the contractor who installed the 'fixes'. Yes. At two-thirty in the A.M. That's how ticked off I was.

But it gets better. In three out of four nights we ended up getting more heavy rain and from Thursday night through Tuesday night our rain totals came to over twelve inches. And the storms hit each night right about bedtime and lasted most of the night. My son and I were up all night three out of four nights. By yesterday morning, I could've gotten a part as a zombie on The Walking Dead without the need for any makeup. And my mood? Well, let's just say if a scene if the aforementioned zombie flick required ripping someone's head off or going for the jugular, I'm your zombie.

It, instead of a badly needed vacation this summer, it looks like I'll get to invest in a second sump pump pit and sump pump this summer to keep the water from the city storm sewers from entering my basement. I'm a lucky, lucky woman.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that I had intended to use this past week in order to get my Harlequin Intrigue submission sent out before the editor is inundated with post RWA National Conference submissions.

So, I'm watching the weather and praying that it dries up long enough for me to get my proposal sent out and the second pump installed.

Until then, nobody better look at me cross-eyed. Just sayin'.

And how was your week?

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So I Married a Demon Slayer winner

Also, I'm still trying to reach Kristi. She's won the advanced reading copy of So I Married a Demon Slayer. Kristi, if you're out there, you can email me with you snail mail (angie @ angie and I'll get that out to you.

Book lovers unite!

All of us who love books have had to deal with overloaded bookshelves from time to time (or in my case: all the time). I keep hearing from the e-reader crowd, who say that electronic is the way to go. But I'm old fashioned. I love the feel, the smell, of paper books. And now I've found a great way to share the love.

There is a project called Operation Paperback. They supply novels to our troops serving overseas. These men and women are in places where it is obviously hard to find the latest book, or even a good book. I found out about it yesterday and signed up. It's really neat. You basically key in which genres you have on your shelf. The website generates the contact information for a service member who has specifically asked for those types of books. You package them up and send them via media mail.

Right now, I have three packages on the dining room table, ready to go out to service members. They contain novels that I never would have parted with otherwise. I've sure enjoyed them. But it feels good knowing these books are going to go to people who will enjoy them, readers who need the kind of pick-me-up that you get from sinking into a great story.

So if you get a chance, check out Operation Paperback. I'm sure glad I did.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wild Thing

Well what do you all think of my new book cover? I love it, and I'm so excited to have it to show off. I've been looking forward to getting Wild Thing out for so long now, getting the cover makes it seem real--heck, it's even up for presale on and now too.

Here's a little sneak peek...

Chapter 1

Toni Russo stood on the porch of the Sawtooth Inn ignoring the mountains cutting the bright blue sky, concentrating instead on Hunter Kincaid’s very confused, very green eyes. She recognized him from the photos on the River Runners’ website. They didn’t do him justice, probably because there was no way to transmit the pheromones rolling off the man onto an image.

Hunter stared at her the whole way from his old Land Cruiser to the porch. He stopped, tipped his baseball cap back, and then put his hands on his hips. “You’re not who I expected to see.”

Well, no shit. “Yeah, I guess you’ll have to learn to live with the disappointment. I know I have.”

“Toni?” A look of relief flashed across his face then a smile ticked up the right side of his mouth as he made a slow perusal of her from head to feet and back again.

She waited, knowing it would take awhile. Ever since she’d landed in Boise, she’d experienced the same thing. No one quite knew what to make of her. Holding her clipboard to her chest, she wondered if it would have been better to have spent her time in Boise shopping for less interesting clothes. She mentally shook her head and knew it would never have worked. You could put her in a sack, and she’d do something to stand out. She’d long since given up trying to rein herself in. As Catherine Aird said, “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” So far, it had worked for her.

Blowing her bangs out of her eyes, Toni looked down at her outfit. The short, red plaid kilt wasn’t too offensive. She pulled her clipboard away to see she had on her Stay Away T-shirt. Maybe he had something against the collage of pistols, brass knuckles, knives, and bullets. But really, he didn’t look like a pacifist, not that she wasn’t—it was a T-shirt for goodness sake, not a personal manifesto. The kitty-face Mary Janes and red skull-and-crossbones knee-socks were a bit busy. Okay, Hunter’s thirty seconds were up. She fingered the D-ring on the studded collar around her neck and cleared her throat. “Do you mind?”

Hunter took a sip of whatever was in the travel cup he held. “Not at all—just wondering if you were going for that naughty-schoolgirl-fantasy look.”

“No, I was going for my not-quite-sure-what-to-wear-for-a-meeting-with-Davy-Crocket look. How’s it working for you?”

Hunter’s mouth worked its way into a full smile. Great teeth. She had a thing for nice teeth, and yeah, his mouth was full of them.

“Really well, thanks. Over the phone, it sounded as if you wouldn’t be caught dead out here. When Bianca came to scout for photo shoot locations, she said something about you having a phobia. What changed your mind?”

Toni took in the rustic porch wrapping around the log cabin lodge and decided to sit on a rocking chair. There was nothing else to sit on except the steps, and they needed a good sweeping. “You asked Bianca about me?”

Hunter leaned against the rough-hewn post holding up the corner of the porch. “I didn’t know it was a federal offense.”

“Bianca was involved in negotiating a big deal so she sent me.” Toni placed her clipboard on her lap and clicked her pen a few times in rapid succession. “I had no choice.”

Hunter’s big hiking boots filled her line of sight. Her gaze wandered up to where neatly rolled, rag-wool socks met hard, tanned calf muscle with just the right splattering of leg hair—not so much you’d be tempted to take a brush to it, and not so little you’d wonder if he routinely waxed. He wore khaki shorts low around the hips, his green River Runners T-shirt pulled tight against his chest and abs. She’d seen him without a shirt thanks to the picture on the website, so she knew if she poked him it would feel like poking a brick wall. She’d bet dollars to doughnuts he didn’t get that hard body in a gym.

When her eyes hit his stubbled chin, she encountered another full-toothed grin. Damn, she hadn’t meant to be so obvious.

The slap of an old-fashioned screen door broke the tension. “Sorry.” James, Bianca’s right-hand man, appeared with two cups of coffee. He handed Toni hers. “That’s decaf. Maybe you’ll be able to sleep tonight.”

Not likely. The woods seemed to inch closer and closer to the lodge. God only knew what roamed out there. She took a sip of bad coffee as James, an ex-model and now her partner in managing the series of shoots, shook Hunter’s offered hand. James’s dark hair glittered with silver at the temples, his bright blue eyes were full of intelligence and humor, and his build was still trim and muscular, but not like Hunter’s. Hunter’s muscles were brought about by his life’s work, James’s by a trainer, weight machines, and a strict diet.

“James, this is Hunter Kincaid. Hunter, James Ness.”

“Hunter, good to see you again. Do you want coffee?”

“No, thanks, I brought my own.” Hunter’s handshake turned into a guy hug, which was weird considering James’s sexual preference was in direct opposition to the one Hunter oozed.

Toni caught James’s eye with a raised brow. A quick shake of his head confirmed Hunter was, in fact, straight. She’d forgotten James had accompanied Bianca on the scouting trip. The guys had obviously bonded.

Hunter set his travel cup on the table and sat. She finally saw what was written on the side of the cup: “The Way to a Fisherman’s Heart is Through His Fly” along with a picture of what looked like an insect with a hook up its butt. Nice.

“I was surprised to find Toni here,” Hunter said as he eased back on the chair.

James let out a laugh that grated on her nerves. “No more than she, I presume. Bianca didn’t give her much notice. Or should I call it warning? Still, Toni can run the show with one hand cuffed behind her back. We won’t have a problem.”

“I wasn’t worried.” Hunter watched her over the rim of his cup as he sipped his coffee, no decaf for him. He slept like a baby every night, no matter how late he drank coffee, but he wouldn’t mind spending a few sleepless nights with a beautiful woman.

He’d wondered what Toni looked like since the first day she’d called River Runners in January. Her deep, husky, raspingly sexy voice brought to mind an unbidden picture of a young, blonde, long-legged Kathleen Turner. The New York accent was all wrong, but that do-me voice was right on. Man, was he ever way off base. He found himself eye-to-eye with the polar opposite of the woman he’d pictured. Toni wore her jet black, shoulder-length hair in pigtails. Instead of making her look like a schoolgirl, it made him wonder what kind of underwear she wore, if she was into bondage, or just dug the whole collar-and-cuff thing for fashion’s sake, and had him searching all exposed skin for ink. When he didn’t see any, he thought about putting himself in the position to do a full body search.

Checking his dive watch, Hunter looked around for the models he’d promised his brothers they’d be working with when they signed on as guides. That was an ingenious idea if he did say so himself. By bringing Trapper and Fisher along, he not only got free guides and someone to distract Bianca, who, on their week-long outing, had been determined to share a sleeping bag with him, but supplied a physician and legal help if necessary. Since his brothers had plenty of vacation time racked up, they jumped at the chance to spend a week escorting ten models through the mountains and down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Recreation Area. Hunter could have gotten his brothers to pay for the privilege, but he hadn’t pushed it since Bianca Ferrari, the owner of Action Models, had paid top dollar for his services. “My guides, Trapper and Fisher, will be here any minute for the barbeque and to meet your group.”

Toni flipped through the pages stuck in her skull-and-crossbones stenciled clipboard, which, if he wasn’t mistaken, was shaped like a coffin. The clasp was a bat forged from what looked like pewter with onyx stones for eyes. “I’ve called a 9:00 a.m. meeting tomorrow then the models can spend the rest of the day getting acclimated.”

Hunter stopped staring at the clipboard and shrugged, trying not to envision what that bat would look like tattooed on Toni’s lower back, its wings spanning her small waist. “We can take a short rafting trip and have a picnic down by my cabin. Bianca had planned a shoot there. There’s a nice beach with plenty of space for sunbathing and a regulation sand volleyball court. It’ll be an easy trip and will give your group a chance to have a lesson on the rafts.”

James nodded. “That sounds great. I’ll make arrangements to have a lunch packed for everyone. It’s gorgeous, Toni. You’re going to love it.”

Toni paled, which was hard to do since the girl without makeup was pale enough to qualify for a vampire casting call. She was definitely a candidate for skin cancer. Hunter made a mental note to make sure she wore plenty of sunscreen—he’d be happy to help with the hard to reach spots.

She shook her twin ponytails as her lips drew into a deep frown. “I’m sure you’ll have fun. I’m going to stick close to my cabin. I brought plenty of reading material.”

Hunter crossed his arms. “You really need the lesson on the raft, and the only way to do that is to get you on the river.”

Still shaking her head, Toni backed away. Not a good sign.

“If you want to get out of the sun and hang out in my cabin and read, you’re more than welcome to. Put your book in a Ziploc, and bring it along.”

Toni held her clipboard tight against her chest. “I won’t be joining you.”

Hunter moved toward her like he would a spooked horse. “You’re not going to supervise the photo shoots?”

“Of course I will. That’s my job.”

It took him a moment to compute what she’d said since she’d spoken so fast. He tried his most encouraging smile. “Then you’ll want to come tomorrow. If not, you’re not going to be able to do at least two of the shoots Bianca planned.”

Toni stared at James as if she expected him to jump in and save her.

Hunter watched the silent argument going on between them. When no words were spoken, he cleared his throat. “It’s perfectly safe. Everyone wears PFDs and even lightweight helmets. We teach you everything you need to know in case you fall in. We show you how to get back into the raft, how to paddle, and what to do if we get stuck. We’ll be running down a lazy part of the river tomorrow. I promise there will be no class-five rapids.”

When James did nothing more than shrug, she tossed her clipboard on the table and turned on Hunter with both hands on her hips. “What the hell is a PFD?”

“A personal flotation device.”

“And why would I need a helmet?”

“The helmet protects you in the rare instance you should fall and hit your head on a rock in the river.”

Toni blinked twice and looked as if she needed to sit down and put her head between her legs.

“Are you okay?”

She didn’t answer. She just stood there, wide-eyed, looking as if she wasn’t breathing. Really not good.

The purr of Trapper’s Sequoia broke the silence. The engine died as doors opened and shut. Hunter looked for help from James who suddenly found his shoes very interesting. Great.

When boots hit the steps, Hunter turned. “Trapper and Fisher, this is James Ness. He’s working with Toni Russo, the manager of Action Models in New York.” Hunter turned back toward Toni only to find she’d disappeared, coffin clipboard and all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monday Madness

So much going on right now. All the new television shows started up, it went from 70 to 100 overnight here in Texas, I'm working on another Intrigue, and my second releases in a couple of weeks. Just in time for July 4th reading!

I have to say, I am thoroughly enjoying television right now. So You Think You Can Dance, Master Chef and America's Got Talent are all entertaining the heck out of me. I think SYTYCD may be my all time favorite reality show. Well, maybe Hell's Kitchen, but it's a close race. I love watching the people dance. It's fascinating to me to see the fluid movement when I know it's taking so much strength and technique. Yet they appear as if they're floating. And I love seeing the street dancers catch on to the different disciplines despite not having the years of teaching behind them. It always reminds me how a certain level of talent is just in the bones.

With a new contract and new release, and an idea simmering for a proposal of a completely different genre, I have found more and more need to make the most of my writing time. So when one of my best friends was telling me how bad her focus was and how she fixed it, I was all ears. She tried this soundwave thingie (that's the official explanation). It's an audio file that is supposed to mimic the rhythm of brain waves when you're focusing. So by listening to it, your brain will shift into focus mode.

I asked for the link, paid the $40 and gave it a whirl.

I have to say, for me, it actually works. It actually works really, really well. So well, in fact, that my pulse rate and blood pressure go up when I'm listening to it. And my output for an hour of writing literally doubles. So for me, it's the best $40 I've spent lately.

It works for my friend, but without the physical side effects. It put a co-worker to sleep - NOT the desire effect. But it just goes to show that all our bodies are different and different things work on different people.

So for anyone who's interested in this sort of thing, here's a link. It's called Laser Focus.

So what are you guys up to for the summer? Watching any of the new lineup of reality shows?

Deadly (Newly Focused) DeLeon

Friday, June 10, 2011

Win a Kindle for Your Kid!

Did you know that according joint study by Bowker/PubTrack and the Association of Booksellers for Children, more than 80% of teens have never read an e-book? With how wired kids are today, that seems hard to believe, but the fact remains that e-readers just aren't widespread amongst the younger set.

Does your preteen or teen want a Kindle, but you're hesitant to spend the money on yet another easily-lost electronic gadget in this economy? Or maybe your teen keeps borrowing your Kindle so often that you never get a chance to use it.

How would you like to WIN a Kindle for your kid? Of course you would!

Just go to no later than July 3 to enter to win a brand-new Kindle, preloaded with 17 of the hottest indie MG and YA titles. Runners-up with win free e-books.

But don't stop there! The website also lists all the various ways to earn additional entries, such as by sending Twitter messages, "liking" the event on Facebook, or submitting honest reviews of any (or all) of the books involved in the promotion. There's no limit to the number of times you can enter, so start today!

What types of tweets count? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s some sample tweets you can send:

Want a free Kindle? #KindleINDIEpendence

Visit the #KindleINDIEpendence day blog to learn more ways to win a free Kindle.

I just put Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice on my TBR pile! #kindleINDIEpendence

Love the cover of Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois! #kindleINDIEpendence

Those are just some examples. Use your imagination, but be sure to use the #kindleINDIEpendence hashtag so we can count it.

So come earn your Kindle INDIEpdendence! DEADLINE: July 3!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

My Son's 12 And I Don't Miss The Baby Years AT. ALL.

When my son was a baby people would come up to me in stores or in restaurants, bend down to look into my son's seemingly innocent blue eyes, gaze at his big blonde curls and say, "Oh, I miss this stage!" And I would smile sweetly and think to myself, "They must not remember what it's really like."

I like babies but I'm not a "baby person." I also learned during the mom's group that I attended during his infancy that, compared to his peers, mine was not an "easy baby."

"He's spirited!" The maternity nurse said as my son screamed like a banshee in her arms. "He's out spoken!" His daycare provider explained. My all time favorite quote was from one of his preschool teachers who told me, "He lacks a certain subtly of emotion." And yet he really was cute, and very smart and, when he wasn't screaming like a banshee, very charming which made me wonder, would I too miss this stage when he outgrew it?

My son just turned 12 on Tuesday and I think I have my answer: No.

For one thing he's still cute smart and charming but the screaming-like-a-banshee-thing didn't stand the test of time. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't have fond memories and those baby/toddler years provided me with tons of wonderful stories but still, I don't miss those years. The fact is I really, really like who he is now.  Yes, I know he's an adolescent and that this can also be a challenging stage.  He reenforces that point whenever I try to take him clothes shopping (for those of you who have younger boys, be forewarned; once your child hits the double digits he will no longer indulge you while you window shop at the mall).

But although he certainly has moments of "hating me" so far those moments don't last any longer than they did when he was younger and they haven't increased in frequency.  He shows no sign of being embarrassed by me at all.  If anything he seems rather proud to call me mom. As for being less affectionate...well this morning he came into my room to give me a hug because he thought a hug would be a good way for me to start my day so that's a bridge I don't have to cross yet.

And is (and continues to develop into) a really cool individual.  So many of his observations about society and our world are not only spot on but are incredibly insightful.

And he hasn't lost his sense of wonder at all despite the fact that he once worried that he would.

See, shortly after his fourth birthday I took him to a Natural History museum (one of his favorite things to do). He had a great time but once we left he got very quiet, then teary. Finally he told me what had him upset. "What if, when I get older, I forget how wonderful dinosaurs are. What if I just don't feel it anymore?"

It was such an odd and moving question (coming from a four year old) that it actually took me aback.  "That might not happen," I said. "Maybe you'll always love dinosaurs. Who knows? Maybe you'll become a paleontologist."

And I'll never forget the little smile that took form on his lips as he considered this. For about six years he insisted that yes, he would be a paleontologist.  Now he's not so sure but he is still impressed with dinosaurs. He still finds new new scientific studies, paleontological and archeological finds awe inspiring.  He is interested and...and awake enough to understand how fascinating our world is. The fact that he's been able to maintain that while maturing and becoming more independent...well it just thrills me.

So as much as I loved who he was I don't pine for those years.  I'm too excited about the now and next. What career will he choose? What college will he want to go to? How will he handle himself in high school? Will he still want to be part of his school's DC trip next year?

Will he give me a hug tomorrow morning?

So many possibilities...

Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Leslie Langtry Needs A New Camera

My camera sucks. Last night this awesome and amazing book club invited me out for pizza and beer, had a cake made with my first cover on it, gave me flowers, and actually read and LIKED my books! And this is the best picture it took.

I need a new camera, Mr. Assassin. I also need stronger biceps - the cake was heavy. I remember them telling me, "Don't drop the cake," and "Don't get frosting on your boobs."

Anyway, about the book club - they know my sister-in-law, Beth, and decided to read my books. They asked me to dinner at Bad Boyz Pizza (which was EXTREMELY appropriate!) and bought me beer! They made me a cake! CAKE IS MY FAVORITE!

I don't know about them but I had a great time! These women were smart, gorgeous and of course, funny. (HELLO! They liked my books!) And somewhere between reading Water for Elephants and The Help, they read Leslie Langtry.

It was a terrific ego boost (and sugar rush) and I thank these women from the bottom of my heart.

NEVER underestimate the power of cake, a cold beer, and adoring fans WHO FIND YOU INTERESTING after a long, hot day.

So do a local author a huge favor and read her books and invite her to dinner. She'll never forget it.

The Assassin

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

C.C. Hunter Sits Down with Her Character Kylie Galen

Winner! Cheryl you won the $10 gift card. Email me at christie @ christie (-)

Contest! ContestToday I’m giving away a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card and my new, Awake at Dawn, flashlight/pen, to one lucky person who leaves a comment. So make sure you leave a comment. The winner will be announced on top of this blogpost tomorrow. So don’t forget to come back and see if you won!

CC Hunter Sits Down with her Character, Kylie Galen

Post originally appeared at

“Hi, Kylie. Come on in and sit down,” I say when she appears at the door.

Kylie stops at the entrance and looks around. “What is this place?”

“It’s my mind,” I tell her.

“It’s eerie.” She shivers and looks at all the dark, shadowy nooks, places where I keep plot ideas, plots gone wrong, plots on hold, or pieces of scenes that I haven’t quite developed.

“It’s not always eerie,” I say. “But I guess a lot of stuff happens here.”

“Yeah! Eerie stuff.” She moves in and hugs herself. Sitting down on the large tan, butter-soft leather sofa, she stares off in one corner.

“Who’s that?” She nods to her right.

I follow her gaze. “Oh, that’s nobody. Just someone I killed. I thought I’d keep him for a while until I figure out exactly how he died.”

“You don’t know how he died? But you just said you killed him.”

“Well, I didn’t really kill him. I let someone else do it. I don’t like getting my hands bloody. But now I have to figure out how it happened.”

“Seriously?” She shakes her head. “Do you ever worry about yourself?”

I pause and think about it. “Sometimes. But hey…I always end a story on a happy note.”

She makes a face at me. “Really? He doesn’t look too happy.”

“True,” I admit and decide to think about that later.

“Why am I here?” she asks, still hugging herself.

“Because Reggie the blogger wanted me to interview you.” I try to get comfortable and ignore the dead guy, who is now seriously beginning to freak me out as well as Kylie.

“I don’t like being here too much,” she says.


“It reminds me of being on Dr. Day’s couch. The shrink my mom sent me to because I started seeing ghosts.”

“You didn’t like the doctor?” I ask.

“I thought she was a flake. Come to find out, she’s just a fairy.” Kylie continues to look around. “Can I ask you something?

I lean forward and my chair squeaks. “I think I’m the one who’s supposed to be asking you questions.”

“Humor me,” she says and when I nod, she continues. “What’s up with the eagle and snake thing that happened today?”

“Oh, that? Well, you’ll figure it out later. Besides, we can’t really talk about that right now.”

“Why not?” Kylie asks.

“Because that happens in book three, Taken at Dusk. And that book doesn’t come out until 2012, so we don’t want to spoil anything for the readers. We have to talk about things that happened in book one, Born at Midnight

“Okay,” she says, not sounding happy. “So what questions do you have?” Then she frowns. “Wait. You created me. Which means you know my answers. Why do you even have to ask me anything?”

“I don’t know all the answers,” I say and point to the dead body. “In a weird way, you’re like him. I haven’t figured you out yet. And even if I had, you don’t always do what I say. For example, what if I told you that tomorrow you’re going to kick both Lucas and Derek to the curb and start falling for Burnett or Perry.”

“Are you nuts?” Kylie asked. “Burnett? I mean, he’s totally hot, but he’s way too old for me. And you know sooner or later, he and Holiday are going to get over their pasts and hook up. As for Perry? Please, he is so not my type. Besides, I wouldn’t want to hurt Miranda, or tick her off. That pinky finger of hers can throw some pretty wild curses now that she’s gotten a better handle on her dyslexia. And what if she messes up? Don’t you remember what she did to Socks, my cat, in book two?”

I grin. “Yeah, that was pretty funny. But don’t you see my point? You don’t always do what I tell you. I might have created you, given you a past, and a basic belief system, but you don’t do everything I want you to do. Sometimes you tell me what going to happen next.”

“I do most of what you want. I only reject the stupid stuff, the stuff that doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s true,” I say. “As a character, you’re pretty easy to work with. But let’s get back to the questions. The one I know everyone wants me to ask you. Who do you want to end up with at the end of the series? Derek or Lucas?”

“That’s not a fair question,” Kylie insists. “I mean . . . right now, I’m really hurt by Derek and I like Lucas . . . a lot, but you know the thing that keeps me from totally falling for him.”

“What thing?” I ask.

“Don’t you remember what his grandmother told me?” Kylie suddenly jumps back. “Did you see that?” She waves at the dead guy. “He’s not dead. He just moved.”

I feel my heart drop as I look over in the corner. “He can’t be alive.” My breath catches as I watch the man I thought was dead stand up and glare at me.

“Yes, he is!” Kylie scoots down the sofa, farther away from my scene in process. “Please tell me you’re not going to put him in my book? I do not want him at Shadow Falls! Put him in one of those other books you write!”

“I haven’t decided what book he’s going in yet,” I tell her as the presumed dead guy walks away. I look back at Kylie. “You know what, I should probably go follow that man and see what’s happening.”

“Do I have to stay here?” she asks and looks around frowning, as if not liking my mind.

“Nah, you can back to your scene in chapter four.”

I start out and I hear her say…”By the way, I don’t like the whole eagle and snake thing.”

I look back over my shoulder. “Yeah, I know. And I’m sorry about that but it’s staying in the book. It’s what writers do. We create scenes that force our characters to deal with things they’d rather not deal with. It’s called conflict.” Then I rush out to catch up with my dead guy who isn’t dead. Hmm, I might be able to use this…could someone come back alive? However, I guess I’d better end this interview now.

So...what's your mind like? Do you have dead people lucking around in your thoughts? Cobwebs hanging from the ceiling? Or is it a cheery place with rainbows and lollypops? Make sure you post to be entered in the contest.