Sunday, January 30, 2011

Books vs. Movies by Diane Kelly

As a novelist, perhaps it shouldn’t have been so surprising to me to have the recent epiphany that, hey, I’m now part of the “entertainment industry.” Duh, huh? Although I’ve been writing for years (and years and years!), it wasn’t until my first sale last July that I began to foray into the business side of writing.

I’m working on a book trailer for my debut novel now and it’s been both fun and eye opening. Unfortunately, I’m not the most technically savvy gal. I don’t mind using technology, as long as it works right, but I don’t want to have to understand how it does what it does or why. But, fortunately, I have a son who thinks computers rock and is more literate in computer language than English. He’s agreed to help me - for ten bucks an hour. Never mind that I’ve yet to charge him for laundry, cooking, and taxi services! Grrr… But he knows he holds all the cards and I’d be lost without him. Having a smart kid stinks sometimes.

A book trailer, like a movie trailer, is a short encapsulation of the story, and is designed to make readers want to rush out and buy the book. It’s been fun searching online for stock photos to use in the trailer, and developing a “script.” But one thing that has struck me is how difficult it is to find character photos that match up precisely to the mental images I’ve created in my mind of my novel’s cast. Which got me to thinking how movies provide a direct image, while with books the reader is given the task of creating their own mental picture - with the author’s guidance, of course.

Both books and movies can make the consumer feel and/or think, but a book provides much more mental exercise because a reader must form mental images. Surely this extra exercise is good for the brain. Too bad it doesn’t burn calories!

When a book is made into a movie, the result can be either spot on with the mental image the book provided or not. Have you had any experiences where a movie developed from a book has been surprising in some way? Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat about it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A new High Heels story!

Killer Fiction has not heard from the following winners of the Killer Fiction New Year's Contest:



Pat Cochran - $25 egift card
Cherie J. - choice of Christie Craig book
Oregon Sunshine - $25 egift card
Cassy Campbell - $25 egift card


Please contact Jana DeLeon through her author website to find out how to collect your prize.








Writing can be a very solitary job - me, a laptop, a latte. When I’m working on a book, sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are other people out there that are going to read it at some point. Which is why I love reader mail. Hearing from people that my characters are funny, or relatable, or whatever is great validation that I’m not just writing stories in a bubble.

But once in awhile, I get reader mail that gives me pause. This happened recently when I got an email from a woman - whom we shall call “Jane”, though that isn’t her real name - who was unhappy that I stopped writing the High Heels books. She was angry (yes, she used that word) that she never got o see Maddie’s honeymoon, because she was sure it was a “doozy” with Ramirez on board. She was also sure that Maddie solved some great mystery while on her honeymoon, and Jane missed out on reading about it! Clearly we’re straddling a fine line between reality and fictional characters at this point, but Jane isn’t the only reader who has asked me for more Maddie., In fact, since I put my backlist of the five High Heels books up for sale as ebooks on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I’ve been getting several emails a day asking 1) why I stopped writing them 2) if I would please reconsider and write more and 3) what happens to Maddie next.

So, as a fun treat (for me as much as readers, if I’m being honest), I decided to answer that last question. I just published an ebook short story called SWEETHEART IN HIGH HEELS, on Amazon.com and BN.com, that features Maddie and Ramirez on their first anniversary, which just happens to fall on the most romantic of all holidays, Valentine’s Day.

Maddie is finding that being the wife of a cop isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when dead bodies keep ruining her romantic dinner plans. But she’s determined that her husband’s latest case, dubbed the “Sex Shop Murder”, will not keep him from celebrating their first anniversary together. She’s ready to do whatever it takes to make this night special and distraction-free - even if it means solving his case herself!

You can read a short excerpt of SWEETHEART IN HIGH HEELS on my website, and it’s available for download as an ebook (to read either on your ebook reading device or right on your computer) at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.


Happy reading!


~ Trigger Happy Halliday


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Digital Debut

Killer Fiction has not heard from the following winners of the Killer Fiction New Year's Contest:

Pat Cochran - $25 egift card
Cherie J. - choice of Christie Craig book
Brandy - choice of Christie Craig book
Oregon Sunshine - $25 egift card
Cassy Campbell - $25 egift card

Please contact Jana DeLeon through her author website to find out how to collect your prize.
http://janadeleon.net/?page_id=8
----------------------------------------------------------------
As many of you may know, a number of my fellow Dorchester authors recently had rights to their backlists revert to them. I'm one of those authors. I am currently in the process of prepping my six Calamity Jayne books for digital release as ebooks. The process is taking long than I anticipated. Mainly because I'm not technically savvy. But I'm learning.

The first thing I had to do was design new cover art. You may recall all of my 'Calamity' featured the same cover model with the lower part of her face covered by something pertaining to the story line.

Now here's the cover for the upcoming digital release for Calamity Jayne designed with a wee bit of help from my son:


I'm in the process of tweaking the covers for the five remaining books in the series, as well as my romantic-comedy, FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS and will post more of the covers next week. In the meantime, I'd love to know what you think of the first cover.
Do tell.
~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Wii or Not to Wii

As I write this today, I'm sitting with my feet propped up on our Wii Fit Board. Now I'm assuming it wasn't designed as a foot rest, but it sure makes a comfy one. Which brings me to the next issue. Is it a failed new year's resolution if you haven't started yet?

You see, our family got a Wii for Christmas and courtesy of an amazing Black Friday deal, the Fit Board came along with it. That was cool because I've been wanting one for awhile. I hear they're really neat and a great way to keep track of your progress. Of course that is the problem too - according to multiple reviews on Amazon, your little computer trainer is so good at monitoring your exercise habits that he actually taunts you.

So basically I'm afraid of the Wii.

I can't get myself to start because I wonder what the little guy will have to say about my weight. Will he berate me for my cheese and cracker habit? I need those to write. There's no category on the Wii for, "is an author and this is part of the creative process so leave it alone already." I checked the manual.

The fit board also tests for balance and tells you just how clumsy you are. I'm a Fox. Our entire family is full of klutzes. Do I need to be reminded? My uncle ran over our neighbor's mailbox on Christmas eve and it's still sitting next to a broken post out there. I tripped this morning on the dog dish and tossed an entire basket of (formerly) folded laundry all over the kitchen. I'd say I have enough reminders that I'm not exactly Kerry Strug.

And what if I skip a few days? I have things to do. The computer trainer doesn't. He's just twiddling his thumbs, thinking of new ways to taunt me.

So I wait. I prefer to think of it as more than procrastination. It's a standoff. And for now, I get a pretty nifty footrest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Character Interview Gone Awry



By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye with a little help from Hunter Kincaid....

Hunter Kincaid sat at the bar in Humpin’ Hannah’s and looked through the front window waiting for his cousin, Ben and his wife, Gina.

“Another beer?”

He turned and faced his sister and favorite bartender, Karma. “Might as well.” He nudged his mug across the polished bar. Karma picked up his glass and held it under the tap while he watched. “God only knows when Ben and Gina will show up. When those two land in Idaho, it’s like the honeymoon starts all over again. You’d think they’d be through with that phase of their relationship by now.”

“I think it’s romantic. It gives us all hope that maybe someday…” Her words trailed off as she lost herself in a daydream. Watching Ben go through the ups and downs of true love had been enough for Hunter to handle without having the whole little sister thing to deal with. If anyone broke Karma’s heart—even temporarily, well, Hunter would have to hurt the guy, and Hunter was of a lover, not a fighter.

Karma over-filled his mug, catching it just a second too late as the foam slid off the top into the drain. “Here you go and there they are.”

Hunter turned to see Gina flounce through the door, stopping to let her eyes adjust to the dimness of the bar. He smiled at her purple, Sex-in-the-City meets Durango outfit. You can take the girl out of Spanish Harlem, but you can’t take the Spanish Harlem out of the girl. The fringe hanging off her short, purple jacket was over-the-top, but looked great over her tight black, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” T-shirt. Stiletto-heeled matching cowboy boots and a tight, black short skirt rounded out the ensemble and had every person with a Y chromosome wishing he were Ben.

Hunter wasn’t even going to go there—not that he didn’t enjoy giving his cousin a hard time. He stood and waved them to a round table across from the bar. “Hey, you two. Let’s sit over here where we can have some privacy. Karma, bring us a pitcher and Gina’s usual when you get a minute.”

Karma waved him away as he accepted a hug from Gina, practically having to kneel down, she was so short.

Ben pulled a bar stool close to his own and waited for Gina to climb on before he sat. “Okay, what’s this all about?”

Hunter pulled out his phone and scrolled to the app that was a recorder. He didn’t want to miss a thing. “Robin Kaye called and asked if I’d interview you two for her blog.”

Karma brought over a pitcher, a mug, and a Grey Goose Dirty Martini for Gina. She set them down and smiled. “Oh, sounds like fun. Are you going to interview me too? You know I had a hand in getting these two lovebirds together.”

Hunter rolled his eyes. “If I were to interview the people responsible, I’d have to interview Grampa Joe and no one wants to do that.”

Karma laughed. “You’re just afraid he’ll get the idea to set you up.”

“Exactly.” Hunter watched Ben and Gina gazing at each other and stifled a groan. God, they were disgusting.

Ben leaned against the back of his barstool and threw his arm around Gina who smiled up at him. “I never thought I’d say this, but marriage was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Gina poked an elbow into his side. “Our second marriage. The first wasn’t so great, and then there was the divorce, which was pretty fun. But the second marriage is definitely the best thing.

Ben pulled her closer. “Oh come on, you have to admit the first marriage did have it’s high points. That’s when we fell in love.”

“It was okay after I figured out you weren’t gay and before you did your impression of a horse’s ass.”

Hunter choked on the beer he’d been drinking. Ben threw Gina a hard look and if Hunter wasn’t mistaken, Ben was blushing. “You thought Ben was gay?”

“Why do you think I married him? He said he had a business proposal, so I met him at his apartment over his art gallery. He told me he’d decorated the apartment himself, he dressed like a metro-sexual New York model, and treated me to a five-course gourmet meal that he cooked. Of course I thought he was gay. How did I know the second he crossed the Great Divide he went all alpha cowboy?”

Hunter waited for Ben to take a long sip of beer and finally meet his gaze.

“Fine. When Gina mentioned she thought I was gay, I went along with it. It almost killed me. And don’t you say a word, Hunter. I haven’t beaten you up in a few years but that doesn’t mean I still can’t.”

Hunter smiled and puffed out his chest. “I’d like to see you try.”

Gina rolled her eyes. “Would you two cut it out?”

Ben set his beer down with a little more force than necessary. “Fine.” He shot Hunter a look that was probably supposed to scare him—it didn’t. He couldn’t wait to tell Trapper and Fisher. He could only imagine the fun they’d have torturing Ben. He’d never live it down.

Shrugging and staring into his beer, Ben continued. “I didn’t want Gina to go and do something stupid like fall in love with me. Karma warned me it might happen. She pointed out the only hole in my plan when I proposed to her.”

“You proposed to Karma too?”

“Well, yeah. It’s not like we’re really related. Growing up like cousins doesn’t mean we are. I was just going to marry her to keep Gramps from selling the ranch. I wasn’t going to touch her—I swear.”

Karma passed by carrying another pitcher. “As if I’d let him. Ewww!”

Hunter sat back and folded his arms. “And you thought Grampa Joe would fall for that?”

Ben hung his head. “I was desperate, it was either marry Karma, or marry a complete stranger. Hell, if I’d known Gina was so incredible, I’d have married her sooner.”

“Yeah, but she wasn’t interested in marrying you.” Hunter turned to Gina. “Why was that? Well, aside from the fact that you thought Ben was a Brokeback Mountain cowboy.”

Gina shrugged. “Aside from the whole gay thing, there was the whole marriage thing. I never thought I was the marriage type. I’m too selfish, demanding, and I don’t play well with others. Marriage was the one thing I never wanted to experience.”

Ben tightened his hold on his wife. “She’s the most unselfish person I know. Still, I got her to change her mind.”

Hunter couldn’t help but laugh. He noticed Ben didn’t mention the demanding part of her personality or the problem with playing with others…though he seemed to have taught her a thing or two in that department. “So how’d you get her to change her mind?”

“It was my inescapable charm.”

Gina laughed. “It was inescapable only because he took me to the ranch which for those of you who don’t know it, is in the middle of nowhere. Believe me, for a city girl who doesn’t drive, it wasn’t only his charm that was inescapable.

“So Gina, how’d he manage to woo you?”

She turned to Ben. “Do people actually say that—well, other than Hunter?”

Ben shrugged. “There are those who talk about wooing, and those of use whose wooing is best demonstrated behind a closed bedroom door, on satin sheets, when there’s nothing else on the agenda for hours and hours.”

They exchanged a look that would incinerate petrified stone, leaving Hunter to admit—to himself only, of course—that on Ben and Gina, marriage didn’t look bad. In fact, on Ben and Gina, marriage looked pretty damned good.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Contest Winners and Guest Blogger, Joss Ware

And now, for the big Killer Fiction Contest Winner announcement.

The winner of the Kindle is JODY FALTYS!!!!!!

Jody did a fabulous job of spreading the word about the Killer Fiction Contest and we're delighted that someone who worked so hard was drawn from the huge stack of entries!

The daily winners are as follows:
Mon, Jan 10th Pat Cochran
Tues, Jan 11th Gwynlyn MacKenzie
Wed, Jan 12th Cassy Campbell
Thu, Jan 13th Oregon Sunshine
Fri, Jan 14th Cathie Caffey
Sat, Jan 15th Estella
Mon, Jan 17th Judy who posted at 4:25 PM
Tues, Jan 18th Susan Mo
Wed, Jan 19th Terri Osburn
Thu, Jan 20th Terri Osburn
Fri, Jan 21st Cricket

Additional giveaways for Tues. Jan 18th for the following posters: Margay, Cherie J., Brandy
Choose any one book from Christie Craig's backlist. See her website for information on all her books.

All daily winners and Christie Craig additional winners, please contact Jana DeLeon through her author website and provide the email address at which you wish to receive your e-gift card and select amazon or barnes and noble for your e-gift card type.

Additional information is needed for the following:

Gwynlyn MacKenzie - please choose a copy of ROMEO, ROMEO, TOO HOT TO HANDLE or BREAKFAST IN BED and provide a mailing address with your contact information.

Estella - please provide a mailing address to receive your copy of BLOOD OF THE ROSE.

All Christie Craig additional winners - please provide your choice of backlist book and a mailing address.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks so much to everyone who made our New Year's contest such a fun and exciting event!

And now - introducing the author of an exciting new series, Joss Ware!


Joss says:

About a year ago, I found a book written by a hospice doctor that was a collection of his experiences with death and the dying. The stories and incidents were fascinating, and only added to stories I’d heard from other people—another hospice doctor whom I know personally, along with others who’ve worked or volunteered, or otherwise been present in situations when someone is dying.

There are countless examples of people who’ve seen or experienced unusual things while with a person who’s dying. Angelic guides, waiting to help someone leave their corporal body and move onto the next phase. Dying people who see visions and gain sudden knowledge and understanding. Situations where a person who is seemingly unconscious and unresponsive “waits” to die until they’re given permission, or until a loved one arrives to say farewell. Over and over, people have told me that they learned so much from someone who is near death or dying.

And it takes a special kind of person to work with families and patients in hospice, who face death day after day after day.

So when I began to work on the fourth book in my paranormal romance series, the Envy Chronicles, I was thinking about these things. I also had left a character fatally shot at the end of the previous book (Abandon the Night), and I thought…what an interesting thing to include in my new project.

The world of the Envy Chronicles is one of a post-apocalyptic environment, fifty years after the earth has been decimated and most of the human population has been destroyed. Don’t think of Mad Max or Bladerunner…think of Life Without People or even LOST or Walking Dead. The cities are overgrown jungles, and there are pockets of civilization, not unlike that of the Old West.

And there are lots of hot men. Trust me. It wouldn’t be a romance series without them!

Envy is actually the largest bastion of humanity—and its name comes from its previous life: Vegas, or in this case, they call it New Vegas. N.V., or…Envy.

Selena is known as The Death Lady, because she’s the closest thing to a hospice doctor or nurse in this new world that has lost the technology, infrastructure, and communication that we used to have. But Selena has a gift with the dying, along with a special calling to help another part of humankind as well…the zombies who roam the earth now that it’s been destroyed.

When Theo Waxnicki is brought to Selena, he’s dying. She can always tell when someone’s about to expire…and there’s no turning back. Once she sees their death cloud, she’s never had anyone survive. She’s never had a patient live.

But…Theo is different. And in the end, Selena manages to help him…and once he recovers, sparks fly. She’s got secrets, and so does he. She’s been burned in the past, and he’s suffering from a broken heart.

He’s a computer geek in this world where computers and technology must be kept underground and secret, and she has a dangerous mission where she must go out and mingle with the zombies in the midst of their flesh-starved frenzy.

And…there’s part of an old, abandoned, overgrown amusement park that’s the setting for more than a few scenes. (Notice the Ferris wheel on the cover!)

Night Betrayed, the fourth book in the series, is out this week. I hope you have a chance to check out Theo and Selena’s story, and get to meet the other characters in the dystopian world of Envy.

Because I was inspired not only by those stories of hospice, but also by the people who work in that health field, helping us and our loved ones to die with as much dignity and comfort as possible, I’ve dedicated the book to hospice workers all over the world.

If you know someone who works or volunteers in that field, I hope that you’ll think of them and express your appreciation for what they do. Death is the great equalizer, and in the end, those tireless people are the ones who so often are there to ease our way and that of those we love.

I’d love to answer questions if you have any…or if you have a story about death or dying that you’d like to share. I’ll be giving away one of the first three books in the Envy Chronicles to a relevant commenter.

In addition, beginning January 26, the first two ebooks in the Envy Chronicles will be offered at a special promotional price (through February 7). Look for the ebooks of Beyond the Night or Embrace the Night Eternal to be offered at special low prices!

You can find more information about the books at my website: josswarebooks.com.

Thanks to Joss for guest posting on Killer Fiction. You should check out her books as they are fabulous! Please post for your chance to win, and have a great week, everyone!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snowbound!

We had 27 inches of snow last week, more after that and last night about 4 inches more. I'm not even going to go there!

So, I'm posting a teeny, tiny except of my work in progress for those of you who also might be snowbound and for those in sunny climates--you lucky kids you!!!!

Here ya go:

WIKTORIA’S SECRET

One

“Er...um...oh, yeah. Bless me father for I have sinned—” I leaned forward in the darkened confessional, a place I’d feared since second grade when Sister Mary Margaret made me stay in one for hours for not bringing my rosary to school on the first Friday of the month—when all good Catholic children went to Mass and confession. How many sins could a seven year old have anyway?

“Are you there my dear?” the disembodied voice of Father Nawrocki said.

Gulp.

Father Nawrocki. Since high school all my friends and I had a crush on the tall, brown-eyed priest. Priest! I should add that to my list of sins right now. Ogling a priest.

“Um...yes, I am.” I managed a few fake coughs and despite knocking on the door of hell by lying to a priest in the confessional no less, I coughed again. I ran through the first part of the confession format, which I’d learned rote in Saint Stanislaus Catholic school from the nuns who told us we didn’t need to know the reason for learning things, we just had to memorize them.

Now the priest coughed.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was real and continued, “my last confession was—” Good Lord. Did he really need to know that? And when was it? Second grade? Did it not count if I wasn’t accurate? “—well, it was...awhile so I’ll wing it.”

“Wing it, Wiktoria?”

Oh geez. The only thing worse than having to go to confession and spit out your sins was when the priest knew who you were through the supposedly camouflaged screen! And, no one, no one, called me by my Polish name since grammar school other than my mother when she scolded me. “You know, Father, I think I’ll just tell it like it is.”

“I would assume you would anyway. It is confession.”

Was it getting hot in here or was the trapdoor to hell and beyond opening up? I forced a laugh, knowing he couldn’t see my face and the pained look it must have on it. Or could he? Damn it. Oops. I had to get out of here if I ever wanted to scurry through the Pearly Gates to all eternity someday. Because right now I thought I caught a glimpse of fiery flames coming from beneath the hand-crocheted throw rug near the kneeler. “Yes, well. Look, Father N, I really didn’t come here to confess anything.”

“Excuse me?”

“I know. I know. I’m holding up the line.” And what a line it was on the first Friday of the month at Saint Stanislaus Church in the cozy town of New Bochenia, named for the hometown of the Polish immigrants founded it. Over the years it was Americanized to New Boch, pronounced New Boc by non-Poles and the rest of the world. Anyway, in a town like New Boch you could count on a long line of Polish Catholic women snaked around the pews and nearly out the door. Only males were the priest and a few from the over eighty crowd.

“Okay, Father N, I am going to level with you.” I leaned forward as if that would draw his attention to the confessional screen where I knelt, sweating and waiting for the devil to yank me out of here, which at the moment didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

“Level, Tori.”

Phew. He’d lightened up or at least wanted to get this over with as fast as I did. “Okay. My last confession seems like eons ago, but you know me. I am a good girl—” I could imagine him rolling his eyes. After all he’d been hearing my confessions throughout the teen years. Gulp again. There was that night with Ricky Rinaski...never mind. “I really am, a good girl that is, so consequently, I don’t have any sins to confess at the moment.”

I heard him sigh, rather loudly for a man of the cloth.

“Really. When I was fifteen I used to make some up to give you something to do. Er...never mind. The reason I am here is more to ask a question to see if I need to confess something. You know, clarify something I can’t Google.” I giggled.

He didn’t.

“Perhaps we can talk in my office after confession is over, Miss Gansecki?”

Lord no! Then we’d be face to face. It was one thing to be hidden behind the confessional haze, even though he knew who I was, but to be face to face with a priest sent shivers down my Catholic School induced conscience’s spine—as if I really was a bad girl.

Ricky and I only made it to second base.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The City Of Angels Is Significantly More Pleasant Than Hell

There's nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we'd like to thank all of our readers for a fabulous 2010 and for helping us kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with a contest. All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read the rules and make sure you're entered to win. One grand prize winner will win a Kindle. IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn at the end of the contest. So, if you didn't hear about the contest right away, don't despair - you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter. I’m giving away a $25 gift card to BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com - winner's choice AND an autographed copy of the first book in the Sophie Katz mystery series, Sex, Murder And A Double Latte! Winners will be notified at the end of the contest period.

Three years ago when I told people in and around my Bay Area home that I was moving to LA the most popular response was, "oh."

Sure, they told me they'd miss me and made me promise to come back to visit as much as possible but what really threw them was the fact that I was moving to a city that they considered to be akin to Dante's Inferno....or at least a version of Dante's Inferno in which the "dark woods" is replaced by a smog laden wasteland and the three beasts were not a lion, a leopard and a she-wolf but an unscrupulous agent, a coked-up-famous-for-being-famous reality star and a she-wolf....a she-wolf with plastic boobs, bright pink yoga pants and a botoxed forehead.


See Northern Californians are trained to hate LA.  In elementary school we're taught reading, writing, and disdain for our Southern neighbors.  In first grade when California was going through a drought my teacher told the class that our water supply was short because we had to share our natural rainfall with Southern Californians.  In middle school we learned about the causes of air pollution and Los Angeles was used as a cautionary tale.  In high school and college where we all draped ourselves in denim and various shades of black and earth-tones the Southern Californian tourists would blind us with their bright pink Juicy Couture t-shirts and horrify us with their spandex-lycra-blend-mini-skirts.

In contrast Southern Californians seem to have a soft spot for Northern California and always seem a little surprised when they learn that there's a one-way rivalry going on.

Anyway, when I threw my life in a U-Haul and headed down the 101 most of my friends pitied me.  I pitied myself a bit too.  How could I not be a tad apprehensive about moving to Malibu-Barbie-hell?

But then I discovered something truly shocking. I discovered that LA isn't that bad. In fact it's actually (dare I say it?) a fun place to live.  There are street fairs aplenty. There's some really inspiring museums, awesome hiking trails, fun restaurants, cool lounges, a plethora of kid-friendly activities for my son and the weather is to die for.  And when you have a city that attracts people from all over the world who want to make a living within the entertainment industry you end up with a city of extroverts.  It is insanely easy to meet people in LA.  My first week here I ended up going to a country club with a woman I met earlier that day at a bakery and then later my son and I went out to dinner with her and her husband.  A few weeks after that I met a woman while checking out the Halloween decorations in her neighborhood.  We chatted for less than five minutes before she suggested we meet up for coffee and scones.  A month after my neighbor moved in she sent me an invitation to her housewarming/passion party.  While it's not uncommon for people to go to bars and clubs in hopes of meeting someone you can also meet guys in places like Starbucks and Trader Joe's.  They'll just start chatting with you while in line or when they happen to sit at the next table, just as if starting up a conversation with a total stranger is the most natural thing in the world.

And...okay, I know my San Francisco friends will never forgive me for this, but I also really like Disneyland.  Maybe it doesn't hold quite the same level of charm for me that it did when I first moved here but still there's no denying that they have one of the most spectacular fireworks displays on earth and they set them off every flippin' weekend! Once in the land of the Mouse you are so thoroughly removed from reality that I can't help but think the experience is comparable to having a really good acid trip.  Seriously, you have cheery music, singing princesses and giant, happy dancing rodents all around you and just when you think things couldn't get any more surreal someone puts a light saber in your son's hand and invites him to defeat Darth Vader.  Tell me that doesn't have a Lucy-In-the-Sky-With-Diamonds-meets-Age-Of-Aquarius quality to it?

As for the materialism and the smog, it's there but it's not anywhere near as pervasive as I was lead to believe it would be. The air in parts of LA (Santa Monica, Long Beach and what-have-you) isn't bad at all and there are actually a lot of people who feel little too no need to acquire the excessive trappings of wealth (although most people here will skimp on groceries in order to budget in appointments with their esthetician and/or waxer).  

So now there are lots of days when I find myself wondering what exactly it is about this city that my Northern Californian friends take such offense to.

And then the other day I was in spin class and my instructor walked in with her black spandex pants, hot pink sports bra/half-top and bleach blonde hair.  Half way through the class she called out "hover!" We all immediately lifted ourselves off our seats and proceeded to "hover" as it is defined in Spin.  My instructor made a failed attempt to crease her botoxed forehead and snapped, "Ok you guys, when I say hover you're supposed to say whoo! Let's try it again." And at that moment I remembered exactly why Northern Californians continue to harbor their disdain for the City of Angels.   But of course fluorescent  pink sports bras are only part of LA's story.  Did I mention that we have hiking trails with real live coyotes roaming around? And art and theater and friendly people too??  And when you're in the mood to drive down to the OC we even have happy, dancing rodents. There are no hidden Mickeys in Dante's Inferno. So while my new home might not be utopian it's significantly better than Hell.

See ya at Disneyland.

--Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Living My Dream





There's nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we'd like to thank all of our readers for a fabulous 2010 and for helping us kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with a contest. All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read the rules and make sure you're entered to win. One grand prize winner will win a Kindle. IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn at the end of the contest. So, if you didn't hear about the contest right away, don't despair - you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter. I’m giving away a $25 gift card to BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com - winner's choice. Winners will be notified at the end of the contest period.

Living My Dream (And no, I did not copy Diane’s post from yesterday, I wrote this before I read her post. I swear!)

I’ve been busy lately, very busy. I’m talking fifteen-hour-workdays busy. I’ve missed some of my favorite television shows. (What’s going on with Castle? Has Agent Booth got rid of the girlfriend yet on Bones?) I’ve eaten a bit too much of my husband’s cooking. I still stay clear of his famous, Ketchuped Chicken, but he’s learned to grill yard bird pretty darn good. I did take down the Christmas tree, but I still have all the St. Nick decorations out around the house. But hey…they’re red and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Santa could mean love and snowmen are sort of a symbol of passion. (I know I’m pushing it, but give me a break.) Oh, I even found a couple of Christmas presents in my closet that I forgot to wrap. Oh, well, there’s always next year. You don’t think they’ll mind a 2011 Calendar, do you?


Yup, I’ve been busy. However, busy isn’t always a bad thing. I mean, I’m busy because I have a lot in my life: friends, family, career, hobbies. And yes, I wish I could put more into a day, have more time to give to all the things I love—wish I never had to miss an episode of Bones.

The problem is I love it all and wouldn’t let go of any of it. I just spent the night at my daughter’s house babysitting my little granddaughter. I brought my computer, determined to write this blog while I was there, as I watched her run around. Instead, I was told by a very adamant 22-month-old to, “Sit down. Right here.” So, instead of writing, I sat on the carpet, crawled around on the floor and had circle time with her and about sixteen stuffed animals and dolls, while hubby read us Green Eggs and Ham.

Right now, I’m writing my blog as hubby drives us home. You know, when travel time is used to catch up on work, that’s pretty darn busy. But am I too busy? Okay, I’ll admit it. I could use just a bit of a slow down, but as we all know, most careers put demands on our time and come with requirements and commitments.

However, when your career is a passion, when reaching certain levels in your career has been a life long goal, you do what you can to balance all those demands. Balance . . . while still giving precedence to the people you hold close to your heart. Balance and making adjustments to make sure you are there for them when they really need you. Like helping hubby find his keys for the sixth time, or giving my daughter and son-in-law a date night, or listening to my son’s bad day dilemmas, and making time for circle time with my granddaughter.

Balancing career and life isn’t always easy. But even as I deal with the struggles, I wouldn’t change it. I’m living my dream--launching two new series, for two new publishing houses. It’s scary, exciting, and requires a huge time commitment. Every now and then when I get hit with a moment of stress, and I wonder about the wisdom of wanting it all, I stop and think about my grandmother.

Born 1913, she was the smartest person I’ve known. For one thing, she was probably one of a few number of women of her age who had a college degree. She also had a genius IQ. The woman could remember dates, addresses, and telephone numbers—when they got a phone--of every house she ever lived in. It might not sound like a big deal, but she lived in 46 homes in her life. Trust me, she was scary smart.

She had so much to offer this world. Unfortunately, the world wasn’t ready for her. And not because she had really over-the-top forward thinking ideas. She didn’t want to burn bras before bras were burned, or wear short skirts, I’m don’t think she longed to be sexually promiscuous. I don’t think she even cared she was expected to shoulder most of the responsibilities of raising her six kids, or keeping the house clean and preparing all the food that went into her family’s mouths. Not that the food she put into their mouths was all that great. She was sort of like my hubby in the cooking department. But one thing was for sure, she longed to be more than a wife, mother, and grandmother.

And that’s why I think she really should have been born about fifty years later. You see, she had a career dream. One she never accomplished. Like me, she wanted to be a writer. She had the job offer to go to work at a newspaper. But according to her older brother, who paid the bills in the household and ruled the roust, being a reporter was no job for a lady.

She had two choices: teacher, or nurse.

She became a teacher. A fine one she was, too. And when she married and was expected to give it all up, she didn’t. She juggled the expectations of homemaker with her career when women were looked down on for juggling. And she was my biggest cheerleader as I struggled to go from unpublished writer to published. But I can’t help but think about what all she missed out on, and what the world missed out on, because she was unable to follow her real dream.

So while I deal with the stresses, and juggle career, friends, family, life, and my favorite TV shows—which is always the first thing to go, I’m so thankful that doing so is my choice. And when I hit another benchmark in this career, there’s a little part of me that is doing it for her, too.

So, here’s to you, grandma. I know you are standing at the pearly gates, the last address you’ll have to memorize, watching me, and still cheering me on.

So today the question I have for you, is how busy are you? Are you making sure to keep your priorities straight? Are you working toward making your own dreams come true?

Remember to leave a comment. Today I’ll give away a $25 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, and one lucky commenter who had posted during our two-week contest will win a Kindle.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Have a Dream by Diane Kelly

As we celebrate Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he stood for, my mind reverberates with his “I Have a Dream” speech. Such a way with words, that guy. One could only dream of having his level of eloquence. The pen is mightier than the sword, and the power to move people with words is indeed a gift.

I am so thankful to be raising my children in a world that is becoming increasingly open minded and less prejudicial. It took brave people like Martin Luther King, Jr. to make this happen. Another brave soul was John Howard Griffin, the author of “Black Like Me.” If you haven’t read it, do. It’s a mind-opening, mind-blowing, mind-changing book.

In an effort to experience life as a black man in the pre-civil rights era, Mr. Griffin, a white man, took medication to darken his skin and also applied dye so that he could pass as a black person. He then traveled throughout the southern United States in a quest for knowledge and understanding. His book “Black Like Me” chronicles his experiences and provides intimate details about what he learned about race relations and the devastating impact racism has on all of us.

After the book was published, Mr. Griffin was hung in effigy in Mansfield, Texas, where he lived at the time of writing the book. I live in Mansfield, Texas today. Fortunately, it’s a much different place now.

Next month, an American Library Association Literary Landmark will be placed by the Friends of the Mansfield Public Library at the city library in honor of John Howard Griffin. As a member of the Friends, I am proud that we have been able to honor such a distinguished, courageous writer.

Just as our lives are enriched when we fill them with a diverse set of people, when I write I love to develop a diverse cast of characters. The heroine of my "Death and Taxes" series is a white country girl who received her first BB gun from her daddy for her third birthday. Now an IRS special agent in Dallas, she's partnered with a conservative black soccer dad. Despite their differences, the two make a kick-ass team. She also teams up with a Latina rookie DEA agent to pursue a mullet-wearing, tax-cheating drug dealer. For a little more fun, I tossed in a chain-smoking boss who dresses like a sixties go-go dancer. Yep, stories are a lot more interesting with a varied cast. So are our lives.

What writers do you most admire? What books have made an impact on you?

DON'T FORGET TO POST A COMMENT IF YOU'D LIKE A CHANCE TO WIN A $25 BARNES AND NOBLE GIFT CARD! YOU CAN GO BACK AND COMMENT ON EARLIER BLOGS POSTED DURING THE CONTEST DATES, TOO, FOR CHANCES TO WIN THE PRIZES FOR THOSE DAYS. All winners will be announced after the contest is over. The contest runs through January 21st. Details on the sidebar.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guest Author Stephanie Drey

There’s nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we’d like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with free stuff? All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you’re entered to win great prizes.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn’t hear about the contest right away, don’t despair—you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.


Today we have a special guest, Stephanie Drey, who is sponsoring a contest for aspiring authors, as well as giving away free prizes to those who join her newsletter. So, take it away, Stephanie…


Sex, Lies & Togas: The Secret Life of Augustus
By Stephanie Drey

My debut novel, Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra’s Daughter, is set in Late Republican Rome, one of my favorite time periods to write about. It was a unique era in which sex, politics, and family feuds came together to create the splashiest historical dramas of Western civilization. Much like the Tudor period, when King Henry VIII’s desire for a son turned an entire kingdom upside down, the Augustan Age revolved around a ruthless ruler whose family scandals rocked the empire.


In the aftermath of Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s suicides, Rome was led by Augustus, who preached a “return to traditional family values” but practiced anything but. The public face that Augustus showed to Rome was a strict but magnanimous paterfamilias who lived in simple virtue, enjoyed a marriage of more than forty years in duration, and passed morality laws to regulate sexual behavior and punish adultery.


Augustus reserved a special distaste for foreign cults and their mysterious fertility rites. He ordered a favorite freedman to commit suicide when it was revealed he’d been having sexual relations with Roman matrons[1]. He closely regulated the company his daughter kept, chastising her for wearing clothing that revealed too much skin. And after humbly submitting to marry three men of her father’s choosing in succession, when Julia was accused of having taken lovers outside of marriage, Augustus banished her to live out her days on a tiny island.


When it came to his own sexual behavior, however, Augustus was decidedly less strict. To begin with, his own marital history was not unblemished. Livia wasn’t his first wife, but his third, and the circumstances under which they wed were scandalous. When Augustus met Livia, he was already married and so was she. As the story goes, Rome’s first emperor was a dinner guest when he developed an attraction for his host’s wife. With uncharacteristic recklessness, Augustus allegedly carried the wife off to the bedroom before her husband’s eyes, then returned her to the dining room with her hair disheveled and her ears red.


Thereafter, it would be rumored that this scarlet-eared woman was Livia because Augustus soon asked Livia’s husband to give her up. Perhaps Livia’s husband was through with her or perhaps he was too afraid to refuse. Either way, Augustus divorced his wife on the very day that she gave birth to his daughter Julia. With their previous marriages dissolved, Augustus married a heavily pregnant Livia with such haste that they would be plagued ever after by the rumor that her unborn child was actually their bastard son.


That their marriage was long-lasting is remarkable insofar as Livia was unable to give Augustus a son to secure his dynastic plans. That their marriage was also apparently happy was probably due to Livia’s ability to be at peace with her husband’s sexual affairs. She wasn’t the only one who had to turn a blind eye; among the women Augustus took to bed was the beautiful Terentilla, wife of Maecenas, the emperor’s closest political advisor.



Antony once had charged that Augustus’ friends played pimp for him, but according to Suetonius, other sources claimed that it was Livia who procured innocent young girls for the emperor to debauch. Indeed, one of the emperor’s friends was so concerned about his womanizing that he disguised himself as a young woman in a carriage and leaped out with a knife in hand to show Augustus how vulnerable these liaisons made him.


In light of this kind of hypocrisy, it may not be surprising that, while Augustus gloried in having defeated that Egyptian whore who dared to think herself equal to men, he also promoted Cleopatra’s image with a zeal akin to obsession. This fixation would not have been lost on the dead queen’s young daughter, Cleopatra Selene, who came to Rome as a chained prisoner and was taken into the emperor’s household as his ward.

Yes, caught up in this milieu of depravity and deceit were all the children of Augustus’ household including his daughter, his grandchildren, his nieces and their children--many of whom would fall victim to conspiracy and scandal. Augustus would go on to arrange and re-arrange the marriages of his family members, meddling in their personal lives and banishing three of them.



The heroine of my novel, Cleopatra Selene, is one of the few children to have successfully and safely escaped the taint of these imperial intrigues, but her character was no doubt shaped by them, which is why Augustus made for such a delicious villain!


~Stephanie
http://www.stephaniedray.com/


Stephanie Dray is the author of a forthcoming trilogy of historical fiction novels set in the Augustan Age, starting with Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

She is currently sponsoring the Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women, the deadline for which is March 1, 2011, but join her newsletter now for updates and a chance to win a free copy of Lily of the Nile and additional prizes.




[1]See Anthony Everitt’s biographies on Livia and Augustus.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guest Author Kate Pearce

There’s nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we’d like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with free stuff? All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you’re entered to win great prizes.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn’t hear about the contest right away, don’t despair—you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.


Today we have a special guest, Kate Pearce, who is giving away a copy of her book Blood of the Rose to one lucky commenter. So, take it away, Stephanie…



Why write Vampires?

by
Kate Pearce

I often get asked why I decided to write Vampires, especially Tudor Vampires, and the answer has nothing to do with my hopes of earning bazillions of dollars, ( I think several other authors have already got there before me.) :) Well, the bazillions would be nice, but there were other reasons why I enjoy writing paranormal.

I have three teenage boys.

And no, I didn’t write them for my boys. They abhor all things romantic and vampiric, and the thought that their own mother knows about sex, let alone writes about it is high on their horror factor. It’s more that my kids drive me crazy and apparently I’m not allowed to kill my own children. I find killing vampires in my books a safe outlet for those days when I just look at my boys and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Imaginary fighting is so much better to deal with and I can control the outcome. I also get to raise my inner geek-historian and write about Tudor history along with the vampire and druid lore. And I get to kill people, horrifically and I find I’m enjoying that far more than I probably should. (see above).

"Blood of the Rose" was particularly fun to write because the real life drama of Anne Boleyn lends itself so beautifully to a Vampire plot and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even in her own time period, Anne was accused of being a witch who had bespelled the king and consorted with her own brother. It’s nice when history collides with paranormal fiction in such a satisfying manner.

I’m giving away a copy of “Blood of the Rose” to one commenter and my question is: what do you escape from when you write or read fiction?

Best
Kate Pearce x
http://www.katepearce.com/

Friday, January 14, 2011

Inside Jokes

There's nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we'd like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the new year than with free stuff! All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you're entered to win great prizes.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn't hear about the contest right away, don't despair - you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.


* * * *
I’m giving away a $25 egift card to BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com - winner's choice!  Winners will be notified at the end of the contest period.
* * * *


Inside Jokes


One of the questions I get asked the most by readers is were I get my inspiration. My short answer: everywhere. I am a notorious real-life thief when it comes to my work. That’s not to say I steal stories - when it comes to the major plots of my books, that’s all fiction (thank God! I’m so not brave enough to stumble upon real dead bodies.). But the smaller details in my books generally come from my real life. I have my heroines visit the same places I regularly haunt, the characters are given names of people I’ve known, and I often kill off people that cheese me off as a cheap form of therapy. ;) (Changing the names to protect the guilty, of course.)

A lot of this life-stealing in my books comes from the old adage, “write what you know.” It’s so much easier for me to describe places I’ve been to and people I’ve known, and they usually have a more genuine feel to readers, too. Research on the internet can only get you so far, and until my research budget includes trips to Paris and Milan, I do my best to equate the setting and characters in my books to real ones from my own life.

 But there is another reason for my life-stealing. It’s fun. Honestly, I get a total kick out of putting my mom in my story as a minor character, or describing something that my best friend and I did, or (yes, I’ll admit it) even killing off an ex-boyfriend or two. I’ve even been known to giggle out loud while typing up familiar scenes, and the people I know usually giggle when they read them, too, enjoying our inside joke.


'Spying in High Heels' in Poland

Out of all the books that I’ve ever written, probably the most of my own real life was poured into my first book, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS. When my best friend first read it, she laughed and said, “You’ve written a book about yourself!” Without meaning to, I guess I kinda did. The main character, Maddie Springer, is a California blonde, like me, who is often underestimated as “too girlie.” (Something a five-foot tall romance writer who likes to wear pink never experiences. *cough, cough*) Maddie has a major shoe obsession, a minor cash flow problem, and a totally screwed up love life. (Check, check, and check!) Though, at the request of my mother, I have to point out that Maddie’s fashion-challenged and stuck-in-the-80’s mom is NOTHING like my chic mama. She is pure fiction.

In addition to the obvious similarities between some of the characters in the book and the characters in my real life, here are some of the other “inside jokes” that I put into SPYING IN HIGH HEELS:


1) While Maddie dreams of haute couture, she pays the bills by designing children’s shoes. Years ago, while working as a temporary tattoo artist, once of the other artist I worked with designed children’s shoes (most notably the Elmo toddler shoes that were super popular at Marshalls that season). This woman was an incredibly talented artist, and it stuck me as humorous at the time that instead of creating fine art, she was creating shoes to smear peanut butter and mud pies on. So, when I came to picking Maddie’s profession, this one jumped out at me from my memory banks as the perfect job.



'Spying in High Heels' in Germany

2) A porn studio is one of the locations that Maddie visits while investigating a murder. Sadly, this studio is a real place I actually visited. I used to work as film extra (after the tattoo artist job), and was accidentally sent to a porn shoot one time by my agent. Oops. Luckily, everyone realized the mistake before I saw anything that scarred me for life. But the experience left an impression!

3) The character of Maddie’s boyfriend, Richard, is based on an actual ex-boyfriend I once had. Note the word ex. Yeah, I had fun torturing this character. ;)

4) Mrs. Rosenblatt is a psychic friend of Maddie’s mom, who is based on my experience working for the Psychic Reader’s Network (between film gigs). Yes, I actually worked as a telephone psychic. And, let me tell you, it provided me with character fodder for years!

Okay, so you’re all in on all my inside jokes in SPYING IN HIGH HEELS now. So, it only seems fitting that I should make sure you all have a copy of your own to read. From now until Jan 21st you can download a free copy of SPYING IN HIGH HEELS from Smashwords.com in a variety of ebook formats, including ones easily viewed on your home computer. Just enter this coupon code: NJ67R

Happy reading! (And anyone should recognize themselves in one of my books… don’t’ say I didn’t warn ya’! ;) )


~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrate Good Times or It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To


There's nothing better than a contest to kick off the new year! Here at Killer Fiction we'd like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the new year than with free stuff? All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you're entered to win great prizes.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So, if you didn't hear about the contest right away, don't despair - you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.

* * * * *
I'll be giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble certificate to one lucky poster at the end of the contest period!
* * * * *
Monday was my first day as an 'empty nester'. For those of you new to the blog, I'm the mother of college-aged triplets. Up to this point, I've been an incremental empty nester. When the triplets graduated from high school, only Triplet Number One of them moved away to college. The other two opted to attend a community college. That left me two at home. Triplet Number Two transferred to a four-year college after the first year. That left me with Triplet Number Three at home. After her second year of college, the third and final chicky worked for a term and this past weekend she flew the coop. And now, for the first time, I'm experiencing what many parents commonly refer to as empty nest syndrome.

Since this was also my first time on my own for--oh--twenty four years or so, I was really looking forward to it. I could get up as early as I wanted and make as much noise as I liked. I could get my house ultra organized. I could write at all hours without bothering anybody. I could eat food that was bad for me and nobody would know.

But Sunday night when all the kids were gone, reality jumped up and bit me on the arse. As it has a habit of doing.

The house was quiet. Eerily quiet. I' found myself starting to make a comment or ask a question only to realize I was home alone. I roamed from room to room. Ate some cookie dough. Put in a DVD. Read for awhile. Surely it was time for bed. I looked at the clock. It was seven-thirty.

When bedtime mercifully arrived, I told myself the next day I'd really appreciate the 'me' time.

And so Monday rolled around. And my internet/email wouldn't work. I spent 45 minutes on hold waiting to speak with an ISP tech, another 45 minutes trying to figure out what the tech wanted me to do, was a miserable failure, and ultimately gave up. I did laundry, dishes, cleaning, and before bedtime I shoveled snow. I so know how to pamper myself, huh?

Then Tuesday, my second day as an empty nester, dawned bringing with it anoother crap load of snow. I went out three separate times to shovel and spent a total of five hours digging out-- after which I consumed more cookie dough.
Wednesday I worked a ten-plus hour shift with a lovely, snowy commute followed by some head-banging to try to figure out what to blog about during contest week. As you can see, I got nuthin'.

However, through trial and error I have come up with a few tips for empty nesters to-be that may help them get through those first tough days:

  • Do NOT decide to give up your DISH satellite on the eve of 'Empty Nest' Day because now you might actually have time to watch it.
  • Do NOT switch to high-speed internet access on the eve of 'Empty Nest' Day or you will be without internet for an undetermined period of time and you'll want to open a vein. Or two.
  • Do NOT consider yourself weird or unnatural if you find yourself talking to yourself--and rather enjoying the conversation.
  • Do NOT go through family albums, walk into empty bedrooms, or leave the outdoor light on 'just in case'.
But DO:
  • Stock up on cookie dough, Double Stuf Oreos, and a various assortment of chocolate.
  • Have your cell phone with you at all times, even in the loo.
  • Whenever you get 'emo', make yourself jump on the exercise bike or the treadmill.
  • Keep a box of Kleenex tissues handy.
  • And DO, remember that it was your job to raise responsible, independent, contributing adults.
Any life changes you've experienced? How did you handle your new reality? Any tips on how to navigate through the empty nester syndrome?
Do share!
~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Killer Fiction's Kick of the New Year Contest!!!

There’s nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we’d like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with free stuff? All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you’re entered to win great prizes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn’t hear about the contest right away, don’t despair—you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.

For my blog day, I’m giving away a $25 egift card to Amazon.com or BN.com—winner’s choice and a copy of my novella, Love Bites.

Now, for my official contest post…

When I set out to be a writer, I never imagined I’d be riding with Harley biker gangs, winding my way through the tunnels underneath Hoover Dam or rescuing an armadillo. But in the end, all of the (ahem) interesting adventures helped make the Accidental Demon Slayer books a blast to write.

Just for fun, I thought I’d jot down the ten most interesting moments…

10. Attending a Harley biker rally and trying to explain to the bikers that I needed to learn how to ride so that I could write a romance novel.

9. Heading down into the old maze of inspection tunnels deep inside Hoover Dam with a smart aleck engineer who would watch for the moment when I was really spooked and pick that time to turn out the lights.

8. Informing the Harley bikers that I not only needed to ride, I needed to figure out how to get a dog on a motorcycle. It was the start of biker dogs. Can you picture Bull Dogs and Pomeranians in motorcycle glasses? Read about it here.

7. Hitting the New York Times bestseller list with The Accidental Demon Slayer, prompting me to utter the words “Get out!” over and over to my agent before making her email me to make sure I wasn’t phone hallucinating.

6. Being told by a fancy schmance independent bookstore that they did not, and would never stock my books because paranormal romance does not sell – especially a romance about a demon slayer and a gang of biker witches.

5. The time a gang of Harley riders showed up for my Barnes & Noble signing. Hmm…perhaps the fancy schmance independent was just avoiding trouble.

4. Watching four Harley riders wander off to the romance section to see my books, “in the wild.” They met an awesome customer who started giving them recommendations, resulting in several rough looking guys buying romance “for their wives and girlfriends,” even though I’m 99.9% sure Stryker, who bought several Ellora’s Cave titles, lives alone with his English bulldog.

3. Visiting a dude ranch that, for some unknown reason, housed a boar, several very old chickens and an armadillo with an escape complex. Ever chased an armadillo? I have.

2. Hearing from readers, especially the ones that are falling over sideways because they read the books in the “wrong order.” It’s okay! Each is a stand-alone story. But the “reading in order” camp insists it’s a habit that’s impossible to break. I just love reader quirks.

1. Making up goofy fun quizzes around the books. In fact, I think you should take one right now.

Seriously. That’s what it takes to enter the contest today. Just take the What’s Your Biker Witch Name? quiz and post your biker witch name below.

Tweet your results, with a link to the What's Your Biker Witch Name? quiz, and you're entered to win a copy of My Zombie Valentine!

Also, anyone who grabs a copy of one of the demon slayer books this week will get a free copy of my novella Love Bites from The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2. It’s about Princess Katarina Volholme D’ Transylvania, an eight-hundred-and-seventy three-year-old vampire who decides to rebel. Too bad for her, she does it on International Undead TV.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Killer Fiction’s Kick off the New Year Contest!!!

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye


There’s nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we’d like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the New Year than with free stuff? All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you’re entered to win great prizes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn’t hear about the contest right away, don’t despair—you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.

For my blog day, I’m giving away a $25 egift card to Amazon.com or BN.com—winner’s choice and a copy of one of my books, I have Romeo, Romeo, Too Hot to Handle, or Breakfast in Bed--winner’s choice.

Now, for my official contest post…

I can’t believe I said that!

I don’t know about you but have you ever listened to someone and laugh about how an otherwise highly intelligent person could sometimes say or do the dumbest things?

My mother is one such intelligent person. Years ago, when I was going to college and she was getting her masters, she walked past my bedroom door on her way to the garage and told me she was checking her oil. I wondered why she was telling me this. Did she want me to alert the media? I smiled encouragingly and said, “That’s nice, Ma.”

About ten minutes later, she came back and said she was a quart low. I resisted the urge to make a joke, and nodded thinking nothing of it. I’m a girl who would crawl under her car and change her own oil regularly without a problem until I got married and put my DH in charge of all automobile maintenance. Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I want to. But that’s a topic for another post.

My mother returned to the garage and I returned to whatever I was doing. A good ten minutes went by and I looked up to find my mother standing in my doorway holding a dipstick. “All done?” I asked. She shook her head. “I can’t figure out how to get the oil in that teeny-tiny hole.

Needless to say I laughed so hard, I almost peed my pants. Back then, in my early twenties, I thought I was so far above ever doing something that ridiculous. I used to call what my mother did “pullin’ an Angi.” since her name is Angela.

Several years later, I was married, had a few kids who were, unfortunately, old enough to remember. My husband was driving down a road in Boise, ID that I traveled daily. I sat in the passenger seat and was looking over at a pasture where horses grazed. I did a double take because the horses looked strange. They were short. Their bodies looked to be about the average length, so I knew they weren’t miniature horses. Stupidly, I opened my mouth and pointed at the misshapen animals. “Honey,” I said. “look at those short horses.”

My husband took one look at me and laughed. “Rob,” he said, “They’re not short, they’re just standing in an irrigation ditch.” I laughed so hard, I cried. I still do every time I think about it. I had turned into my mother. I had pulled an Angi! At the time, I laughed too hard to be mortified. That came later and said mortification revisits me every time one of my kids brings up the short horse story.

So tell me, have you turned into one of your parents or ever said anything as inane as “Hey, look at those short horses!”?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Killer Fiction's Kick Off the New Year Contest!!!!


There's nothing better than a contest to kick off the year! Here at Killer Fiction, we'd like to thank all our readers for a fabulous 2010 and kick off 2011 in fine fashion. And what better way to kick off the new year than with free stuff! All the rules for the contest are on the sidebar, so read up and make sure you're entered to win great prizes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All contest winners will be drawn the weekend following the end of the contest. So if you didn't hear about the contest right away, don't despair - you can still go back to previous blog posts and enter.

For my blog day, I am giving away a $25 egift card to BN.com or amazon.com - winner's choice! I'm also offering a free download of TROUBLE IN MUDBUG, the first book in the Ghost-in-Law mystery/romance series, from Jan. 10th through the 21st. Just visit Smashwords, buy TROUBLE IN MUDBUG and enter coupon code BR76Y at checkout. You can select any digital format from Smashwords, even those that don't require an ereader or ereader software. Enjoy! To see all of my available backlist and read excerpts, please visit my author website. For those of you who have already visited in the last couple of months, you'll see a change - I have my original covers back for all the books except UNLUCKY! The cover artist tracked me down and offered me digital rights, so my fabulous covers are back in place. A very Happy New Year for me!

For my official contest blog post, I decided to share with you the story of my first ever reader review. I once told my critique partner that I wanted to be a writer because books had given me so much pleasure all my life, and that if I could give that feeling to even one person, I would be successful. And then I got my first review.

The review was from a professional reviewer on an advanced reader copy of RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU. The review was glowing and I was beside myself with happiness. Of course, I immediately emailed the reviewer to thank her for the wonderful review and that's when I got more than I bargained for.

The reviewer emailed back and said how much she'd enjoyed the book and that it had been a real surprise. Then she went on to say that she'd dreaded that month coming because her child had died that month the year before. But, she said, when she was reading my book, she forgot about everything for just a little while and even laughed.

Totally made me cry.

Words are powerful. Words CAN change someone's life, even if only to allow laughter for just a few fleeting moments.

So take as much time as you have to read a good book. And if you really enjoyed it, email the author and let them know. Anyone who knows much about the business of writing knows we're not in it for the money. We're in it because we love a good book and there's no greater high than producing one yourself.


Deadly DeLeon

Guest author Ed Lynskey

Please welcome back the fabulous mystery author, Ed Lynskey.  Take it away Ed...




The Far and Away Fathers Haunting Our Fiction


The absence of biological fathers as characters in fiction has intrigued me. Deceased fathers fall in a different category altogether. I’m speaking of the fathers who’ve deserted their families, usually at the early ages of their offspring. The clich├ęd image of the lazy deadbeat dads springs to mind, but my discussion centers more on the scarred fathers conflicted over what they’ve done by leaving.

They still feel an emotional bond or link with the loved ones they’ve abandoned, but for whatever the reason, they can’t resist the wanderlust itch and vanish from the scene. Since fiction writers are driven to seek out and exploit conflict in their narratives, the case of a far and away father haunts my new Appalachian noir, Lake Charles.

My protagonist Brendan Fishback is a twentysomething who lives in the fictitious small town of Umpire, Tennessee, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. The time is the 1970s. He works for a unionized press shop with his boyhood pal Cobb Kuzawa. Cobb is married to Brendan’s twin sister Edna, and Cobb’s father Mr. Kuzawa materializes halfway into the novel. He becomes almost a father figure since Angus Fishback, Brendan’s birth father, skied off when Brendan and Edna were still in diapers.

An introspective soul, Brendan often reflects on why Angus left them. His mother Mama Jo offers little help. She is understandably furious at her ex. She refuses to let his name be uttered under her roof. She has punched out his face in the photos mounted in the family album. In short, she’s pretty much shunted him out of their lives in retaliation for his having done the same thing to them. Nonetheless, Brendan, like many kids in his situation, remains curious. He feels the need to learn personal things.

I needed a place for Angus to go. He wasn’t really a drifter or a ne’er-do-well. He wasn’t headed pell-mell down a blind alley to meet his self-destruction. He wasn’t a bad or evil man. He was just restless. What I recalled from the 1970s was the talk (usually boasts) among my peers of their striking off to do rugged toil on the Alaskan Pipeline. Alaska was the happening spot. So, that’s where Angus ends up in Lake Charles. On occasion, he mails home scenic postcards with laconic messages (“I’m doing okay.” or “Be well.”) scribbled on the back. Brendan looks forward to receiving them.

He has the capacity to reach back into his memory to his babyhood and touch on the memory of his dad’s face. I don’t know anybody who is able to do that although I read or heard the writer Anne Tyler is so gifted. Brendan also has a fertile imagination and experiences vivid dreams. Going cold turkey on the pot he enjoyed smoking so much enlivens his dreams. Before long, he’s conversing with the dead Ashleigh, a young lady friend he’s accused of murdering. By sharp contrast to his father, her affluent father dotes on her, setting her up in a princess world of luxury and excess.

Lake Charles is a potboiler. Events escalate. Violence erupts. Bad things go down. But then our real lives sometimes shift into overdrive, and we’re propelled along by the rip tide. Such is the case for Brendan. Despite the strife towing him into deeper waters, he never lets his interest in tracking down Angus flag or lapse. Brendan dreams of packing his bags and driving up to Valdez where the Alaskan Pipeline offloads its transported crude oil to the tankers. It’s here where Cobb and Brendan will team up with Angus to create and run their own timbering outfit. They’ll raise Cane, prowling the saloons, caroling the drinking songs, and go carousing all night. A high, old time is theirs to be had in Valdez.

Mr. Kuzawa is a decorated Korean War vet, a vigorous warrior given to extreme if not radical actions when they’re called for as when Brendan phones him for help from Lake Charles. It’s a manmade (created by the reviled TVA) body of water. Early on, the reader comes to see how Lake Charles is cursed. The earthen dam is crumbling. A putrid green scum covers the water’s surface. Mr. Kuzawa arrives there, and Brendan picks up a valuable, trusted ally.

Since Brendan is a troubled young man lacking much guidance, I felt as if the story required an older, wiser mentor. Enter Mr. Kuzawa. He’s knocked around serving as a covert operative for Uncle Sam. He possesses the right skills and energy to push things to a resolution. Once Brendan has weathered the storm around Lake Charles, he views Mr. Kuzawa in a different light. At last, Brendan gets a letter (back when people still used that sort of communication) in the mail from Angus. He offers his son an explanation of the facts, and Brendan faces a life-altering choice: to stay at home in Umpire or go north to Valdez.

If I was put in Brendan’s shoes, I don’t which decision I’d make. His quest haunting him for a lifelong to go find his dad is a difficult tug to resist. The emotional ties that tether him to his native mountains seem almost as strong. Either way, the crossroads he’s reached at the end of Lake Charles mark his entry into adulthood.



About the author:
 Ed Lynskey is the author of the P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series (including The Zinc Zoo out in 2011) as well as a small town cozy mystery, Quiet Anchorage, also now out.

Read the first chapter Lake Charles to learn more about the book and author:
http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/254944-lake-charles

Lake Charles is up for pre-order sales at Amazon Books:
http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Charles-Mystery-Ed-Lynskey/dp/1434430464/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300115352&sr=1-7

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Publish Or Perish: When Research Gets Kinky

A few months back my neighbor told me about another friend of hers who is a published author.  This friend actually writes nonfiction and is a university professor who teaches human sexuality and has "researched" deviant sexual behavior.  His area of interest is where the line is between playful (and acceptable) kinky fun and actual dangerous sexual psychosis.  So of course he's written a book on the subject.  I don't know the title of the book and even if I did I'm not sure I'd mention it here.  I'm not a prude but what was described to me was enough to make me think this book might be in the WTF category of nonfiction work and I wouldn't want to list the name of an author that I'm about to make fun  of. 

So here's the thing: This guy hasn't just interviewed a bunch of fetish-loving folk, he's taken it upon himself to walk-the-walk.  "He made an appointment with a dominatrix named Mistress Kitty," my neighbor explained.  "She stripped him down, tied him up, spread eagle in a standing position, and then she attached clothespins to his testicles.  He said that made him nervous although apparently it didn't really hurt." 

I'll admit that I didn't know how to respond to this at first although I have found that the image she painted has stayed with me to this day.  "He has had to be really careful about how he writes about all this," my neighbor explained, "because he's sort of in danger of not being taken seriously by his colleagues in the world of academia."

"Really?" I asked trying (and failing) to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, "the other university professors might actually make fun of him just because he let Mistress Kitty put clothespins on his balls? How judgmental."

My neighbor nodded solemnly.  "Those people are really conservative." 

It occurred to me at that point that we were having one of those only-in-LA kind of conversations.  But hey, I was willing to roll with it.  "So," I said thoughtfully, "if all this is being used for research for books  and academic papers then all his visits to fetish clubs and appointments with dominatrixes...those are all tax deductible, right?" 

Again my neighbor nodded, this time with a smile.  "I know. He says he has the best job in the world!"

Personally I think that is a matter of opinion.  Not everybody enjoys having clothespins attached to their private parts.  But obviously if it works for him, more power to him.  As far as I'm concerned, as long as all parties involved are consenting adults then his behavior (and theirs) falls into the category of playful kink and he doesn't really pose any danger to society.  He may be a danger to his own career if he wants to both write about this stuff AND continue to teach at a university or any other establishment that isn't financed by the porn industry but that's not really my problem.

I just thought it was good blog material.

--Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis