Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lori Wilde and Christie Craig - Three Question Interview

Winners, Will, Traveler, Bbosquez, Loretta, Monica, Mary Lou, Julz, Sabrina Roberts, Na, Kara, C..  Please contact me at Christie(at)christie(-)Craig.com  Please tell me if you want an electronic copy of Lori's book.  The copy of Blame it on Texas will have to be in print.  Thanks everyone for posting!!!

Contest!  Contest!  Today, ten people will win a copy of Lori’s new book, The Cowboy and the Princess, as well as an early copy of Blame it on Texas.  That’s right, ten people will win two books today.  So make sure you leave a comment.  And come back tomorrow morning to see the winning names listed on top of the blog.  And now for the blog…

Today I have a real treat for you guys!!!  I’ve done a three-question interview with Lori Wilde and because I’m a firm believer that I can never ask a question I won’t answer, I’ve answered the same questions.  But first let me tell you about Lori Wilde.  She’s an amazing writer, and someone I’m proud to call a friend.  She’s a Texan, though we don’t live in the same city.  We met at writing conferences years ago.   We both had our first books released by Silhouette the same year in 1994.  And there hasn’t been a time since when we didn’t run into to each other than we didn’t connect like ol’ friends, or distant relatives—the kind that you actually like.  And if you read the answers to these questions, I think you’ll see a lot of similarities in our answers.  We are very like-minded.  Even the tone of our books are similar.  We both write sexy, humorous books with a lot of heart.   Yet, for all the ways we are alike, Lori and I are different.

Lori is . . . tall.  Five feet and nine inches to be exact, and I think the girl even wears heels, and I’m jealous of every inch.  You see, I’m . . . short.  (Some people call it petite, but they’re just being nice; let’s face it, I’m short.  I’m 4 feet and a whopping eleven inches. 

Lori is . . . brunette.  Thick, beautiful hair and it has a bit of a wave to it.  I’m blonde.  Wispy blonde, which is another nice way of saying it’s thin and straight.  Any wave I have in my hair is due to a curling iron and mousse. Lots of mousse.

Lori could be described as glamorous.  Tall, thin—yeah, glamorous fits her to a T.  I’m . . . I’m what people call cute.  I’ve always wanted to grow up and be glamorous.  But I never did—never grew up or became glamorous.  LOL.  I’m stuck with cute. 

Okay, so now let’s look at Lori’s answers to the questions, and then compare them to mine.

1. You told us your hero Brady Talmadge's five unbreakable rules in the back cover blurb of The Cowboy and the Princess. What are your five unbreakable rules?

LW: You ask the most intriguing questions. Let's assume you mean other than the 10 commandment rules. Here's my five unbreakable rules.

1) Never, ever miss a deadline
2) Tell my husband I love him every single day
3) Clean the house at least once a year
4) Always have animals in my life
5) Don't spit into the wind (Okay, I couldn't really think of a good fifth one.)

CC: Yeah, let’s skip over the 10 commandments.  I think I broke a few of them.  Good thing I’m cute, huh?

1)    Never, ever let anyone steal your joy or passion for writing. 
2)    Don’t forget to show the people in your life that you love and appreciate them.
3)    Have someone clean the house every now and then.  (I guess glamorous people have more energy than cute people.)
4)    Slow down long enough to enjoy the simple things in life—a good book, a glass of wine, a beautiful sunset, a day with my grandchild, and time with my fur babies.
5)    Never sleep with my dog when she’s eaten broccoli.  (And I think my fifth answer is a good one.  And so would you, if you experienced it.)

2. What's the most embarrassing thing Anabella says or does in your book, The Cowboy and the Princess?

LW:  She tries to seduce Brady when she has no idea what she's doing. (She's a virginal princess after all.) It doesn't go so well.

CC: Oh, I love seduction plans gone wrong scenes.  They are so funny. 

Poor Zoe Adams in Blame it on Texas, gets caught naked jumping up and down on the hero’s bed.  And she doesn’t just get caught by Tyler, the hero, who hasn’t seen her with her clothes off yet, but by Tyler and his two best friends.  Ahh, but Zoe had a good reason for it to have happened.

You see, Zoe loves her cat Lucky, a three-legged rescue kitty.  She and Lucky are staying at the apartment that is connected to the office of the Only in Texas Detective Agency.  Zoe was in the shower when she hears some serious barking and feline hissing.  Knowing that one of the detectives brings a dog with him to work, she bolts out of the shower, wet and naked, to rescue Lucky from the dog who are both jumping around on top of the bed.  She ends up jumping with them, and feels quite unlucky when the three men come in to help her with the rescue.

3. As a writer what's the one thing you want your readers to walk away with after reading one of your books?

LW: A smile on their faces.

CC:  A silly grin on their lips and the knowledge that as long as there’s love in the world, everything can’t be all that bad.

Brady Talmadge was a cowboy with five unbreakable rules:
1) Never pick up a pretty hitchhiker
2) Avoid damsels in distress
3) Never order chili at a truck stop
4) Always trust your gut
5) Never tell a lie . . .

This is what happened when he broke all his rules . . . and got into a whole lot of trouble!
On the run from an arranged marriage, Princess Annabella of Monesta dons the guise of a hitchhiking cowgirl. But when she finds herself drenched, alone, and hungry, she has no choice but to trust the tall Texas horse whisperer who offers her a ride. He's like no one she's ever known—a strong sexy man who says just what he thinks. And when one wild kiss leaves her breathless, she quickly realizes she'll give up everything to spend a lifetime of night times in his arms. But how can there be happily-ever-after with palace guards hot on her trail?

*  *  *

Zoe Adams has always been content with her quiet nights at home, watching TV alone-until her life turns into a real-life episode of Unsolved Mystery Hunters. The story of a kidnapped girl triggers unexplained memories, and Zoe is dead-set on figuring out why. Her search leads her to one of the Lone Star State's richest families-and to sexy PI Tyler Lopez.

Tyler has sworn off women, especially redheads with killer curves who poke their noses into his clients' private lives. Still, he can't deny the attraction any more than he can deny that some of Zoe's crazy story makes sense. But when she becomes a hit man's target, this cold case starts heating up. Suddenly, Tyler will do anything to protect Zoe-even risk his heart.

*  *  *

Just for fun, I want to know one of your unbreakable rules.  So leave me a comment about one of your unbreakable rules and you'll be entered to be one of the ten people to win a copy of both Lori’s and my book.

Monday, July 30, 2012

WEEE! by Diane Kelly

When I was young, I read several books set in New York in which the characters went to Coney Island. An amusement park on the beach was something very foreign to me given that I grew up in the landlocked realms of central Texas. I romanticized Coney Island in my mind, and hoped some day to be able to ride the historic and famous Cyclone roller coaster ridden by the characters in the stories.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Coney Island and dragged my teenaged son along with me. Was the roller coaster the fun, nostalgic summertime experience I had eagerly anticipated and dreamed about?  Not at all!  The 85-year-old ride was about as much fun as being beat with a baseball bat.  The padding on the seat was smushed flat from years of butts in the seats.  Our spines were jarred each time we slammed back into the seat after becoming airborne at the top of the hills, and the lap bar bruised my elbows as they banged down each time we bottomed out.  

Still, I'm happy to have had the chance to see Coney Island, even if it didn't live up to my expectations and left me bruised and battered.  When I later read reviews on the place, many people who had visited it as a child and then again as an adult commented that it was not the same place they remembered.  This got me thinking, do these places really change, or do we?  Do our memories become warped or glorified with time?

Have you ever revisited a favorite childhood site?  Was it how you remembered or was it different?  If it seemed different, was it the place that changed or was it you?


Friday, July 27, 2012

Strolling down Memory Lane

Baby Halliday is finally here!  The little guy made his appearance on Friday the 13th, which we're taking as a very lucky sign.  In fact, The Man suggested we call him "Lucky".  Which was promptly vetoed.  Instead, we're going with Zachary William.  So, say hi to Baby Zac...

While I'm busy enjoying my new baby time, the lovely and talented Maria Grazia Swan will be filling in for me for the next few weeks.  Plese give her a warm welcome and enjoy her posts!

*  *  *

When I decided to write about growing up in Italy, I had no idea I would be revisiting nooks and crannies I had mentally boarded up a long time ago.

One happy story was my first paying gig. I was in kindergarten, so I must have been five. We didn’t have phones, television, movies, heck, I don’t remember if we had cars back then. We had a tram, an electric tram for going from town to town. The rest of the time we traveled by bicycle. Our town had a magnificent theater, courtesy of Count Marzotto and family. The nobility title was bought, but the Marzottos owned most of the town. The rest was owned by the Catholic Diocese.

Every year we had opera season. The talented opera company came from Milan.

On this ordinary kindergarten day, we were all summoned into the main hall, girls separated from the boys. Next, the girls formed a line facing a small group of people consisting of a short, chubby man who kept smiling, a plain youngish woman, and a  blonde lady who reminded me of the women I saw in the True Stories magazines my mother read. She was tall, blonde (back then I didn’t know the difference between real blonde and bleached hair) red lips, a tight suit, and a cigarette. I was hooked.

The blonde vamp started to walk up and down our line, looking and smiling. She pulled me out of the line along with another girl with marvelous blond, curly locks. My hair was long and straight and black. Where I come from, blond and curly trumps straight and black any given day. The rest of the kids were sent back to class while Goldilocks and I stood there, clueless.

The trio of guests confabulated in low voices under the attentive eyes of Mother Superior. The younger woman ran her fingers through the curly locks of the other girl. Then it was the vamp’s turn to walk up to me, gently lifting my chin and pointing to something in my face. I was pretty sure she was saying something about my eyes. More talking, and then it was over. We went back to class.


At dinner time there was an air of unspoken words hanging over the table. Both my parents worked at the Marzotto’s factory. We lived in an apartment owned by the Marzottos. You get the drift. My father said the director of the opera company wanted to hire me to play Madame Butterfly’s child in the opera. Would I be okay with that?

            “They are going to give us money?” I remember asking. Money was always an important factor in our household. I was told yes, but no one mentioned amounts, and the money was paid to my parents.

I went to rehearsals. I had the cutest long straight dress with gold sequins. I remember the sequins because I had to sit on Madame Butterfly’s lap—my opera mother—and she kept complaining that the sequins scratched her skin through the flimsy silk of her kimono. I was given a blonde, curly wig that made my head itch, but it was worth it. My opera name was Dolores—Sorrow in English and no, I did not sing.

The vamp was the soprano playing Madame Butterfly, and the chubby director was her husband. They liked me so much, they paid my parents for me to go on tour with the opera company. I traveled through major Italian cities, stayed in hotels with the singer. The best part was when young opera lovers asked for my autograph. Of course, I didn’t know how to write, but it felt great.

This could have been the end of my story, but it wasn’t. The next year they hired me to travel with them and be an extra in Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. I was aware they didn’t really need me. I was allowed to wear my hair down the back, straight and black, I also wore my own Sunday dress. On the third and last year, I went on tour as an extra for Boheme. By then I knew how to sign my autograph.

At the end of the tour they asked my parents if they would allow them to adopt me.  My parents said no and broke three hearts. I never forgave my parents, but that’s another story.

I leave you with Madame Butterfly’s song of hope  Un bel di vedremo…”  On a fine day we’ll see….

Maria Grazia Swan

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Underground romance

Being a severe book lover, I belong to several reader loops. They're great for recommendations and to make friends who don't think you're crazy for staying up all night to finish the latest Laurell K Hamilton. I mean who really needs more than three hours of sleep anyway, right?

We've always taken comfort in our book-obsessed oddness, so you can imagine my surprise when a member outed her husband. It seems she'd been missing a copy of her favorite paranormal romance. She assumed she'd accidentally packed it in with her wad-o-books for the used bookstore. She resigned herself to the fact that it was gone forever…until she went into her husband's dresser drawer a few weeks later.

She'd been looking for stamps and found her romance. Hmm…When confronted with the evidence, he admitted he wanted to see what the fuss was about and, well, now he likes paranormal romance. She laughed. Very hard. In fact, everyone on the loop got a kick out of it. Why? Because there's nothing wrong with a man liking romance. In fact, it's pretty nice that he wants to read a great story about a couple who fall in love.

I've had several men at my signings, sci fi fans mostly, who enjoy the paranormal elements in The Accidental Demon Slayer series. Of course, most of them are quick to point out that they saw the book at the front of Barnes & Noble and didn't realize it was a romance at the time.

But still, I have to question a stigma where an entire group of people are somehow forbidden to enjoy a good story. It's like men somehow being forbidden to enjoy chocolate because it's a "girl thing." So what do you think? Do you know any men who read romance? And if not, I wonder what we can do to show them that it really is okay.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Here! It's Here!

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

Can you tell I'm a little excited? 

Call Me Wild   

She doesn't know a single thing about relationships...
Unemployed sportswriter Jessie James plans to make a killing writing a bestselling romance novel. She's never read one, but really, how hard can it be? Moving cross-country to a borrowed house in Idaho, Jessie starts her research with the first gorgeous guy she runs into...

Luckily, he knows everything...
Sports doctor Fisher Kincaid notices Jessie right away--the transplanted Easterner sticks out like a sore thumb in the small town. When he discovers she's researching attraction and romance, he graciously offers himself as a test subject. That's when everything starts to go wrong, and they both find out how much they need a few good lessons in love...

Okay, it's not officially out until August 1, but it's been spotted in stores already so it counts, doesn't it? 

Either way, it's getting awesome reviews! 

Sarah Eisenbraunoh at RT gave it 4-Stars:

"Kaye’s latest is smart and entertaining, especially for contemporary romance fans who love athletics and healthy living. Jessie’s sporty persona adds an original spin to the typical female romance protagonist. (She even uses RT Book Reviews as a research source for her novel, so how can we not love her?) As the leading man, Fisher is more than hot, and his sexy bond with Jessie will keep readers glued until the last page. Fans of Kaye’s past work and contemporary romance readers alike will definitely enjoy their time with this novel."

PW says:

"The frothy, fun plot and intriguing secondary characters provide ample support for this opposites-attract romance."

Shelley Mosley at Booklist says: 

"Kaye’s fast-paced and funny tale will appeal to readers who like their romance novels side-splitting and sexy."

I'm giving away a signed copy of Call Me Wild--To Enter, just leave a comment and tell me what Andrew's nickname for Jessie is, and leave your email address. You might want to write it all out. You know, like Robin at RobinKayeWrites dot com so no one starts sending you spam.
The answer is in Chapter One which I posted on my website. Enjoy!

Oh, and if that isn't exciting enough. I just received the cover of my next book!

 Back To You

The first book in my Bad Boys of Red Hook Series! 

So, what do you think? Isn't it gorgeous?

It would take a miracle for Storm Decker to return to Red Hook--or a tragedy. The neighborhood holds too many painful memories of his troubled childhood, including the mistake that sent him running from  the ex-cop he'd come to consider his father. But when Pete suddenly falls ill, Storm is called home to face the past he tried to leave behind long ago....

Breanna Collins never expected to see Storm again after he left town without a word, breaking her heart. She's angry that he can't seem to appreciate the changes in their neighborhood. But she still feels a powerful connection to her old flame. And unless she can remind him of all the reasons to stay, she knows he'll never stick around long enough to give their romance the second chance it deserves....

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Return of Deadly DeLeon

As I grew up in Louisiana and spent a lot of time on the bayou, I learned to shoot a gun at a fairly young age. I continued my fun with firearms through high school, shooting with my friends. I was a huge tomboy, and usually hung out with guys. We liked to spend Friday nights picking spent 22 bullets off a 2X4 with a 22 rifle.

There's not a lot to do in small towns.

Being that southern Louisiana is hunting country, I spent most of my time with rifles or shotguns, not so much with pistols. But given that my new mystery series is about a CIA assassin, I figured I needed to get back in the saddle so that my descriptions could be accurate. So my husband and I headed to the gun range.

I tried out several pistols, including a Baby Eagle (which I didn't like), but the winner was a Glock 19. And I'm thrilled to say, I've still got it. Deadly DeLeon is indeed deadly with a 9, just like her heroine.

The following is my target at 21 feet.

In other news, we saw The Dark Knight Rises on Saturday and it was fabulous! Totally great script and acting, action, etc. Christopher Nolan should be personally responsible for making all dark superhero movies. He's definitely cornered the market on it.

So what did you do this weekend? And are you deadly with anything - bow and arrow? knitting needles?

Deadly (I Still Got It) DeLeon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bullying is NEVER okay

Bullying -- /ˈbʊliɪŋ/ a noun meaning "behavior that frightens or hurts someone smaller or weaker"

I'm working on a couple of projects at the moment, one of which is a novella for the Behind Barres anthology. This story is a spin-off of my Dani Spevak Mystery Series, and it features my heroine's friend Analisa. The story is at-yet untitled, but it focuses on cyber stalking and online bullying (among other issues).

I'm not going to get into the details, but several years ago I was the victim of a cyberstalker. It was terrifying and I felt powerless. So it's extremely troubling to me to read about a website aimed at naming and shaming so-called Goodreads "bullies." Writing anonymously, the site exists solely to punish reviewers who write snarky or negative book reviews by posting their handles, real names, locations, and photos in one place. The authors of this website assert that these reviewers are "bullies," yet they're the ones doing the ganging up and shaming.

Bullying is NOT synonymous with criticizing someone's book, no matter how much you might disagree with their critique or how sad it might make you feel. Even if it ends up hurting your income, that's not bullying.

Bullying IS using your power to bring someone someone else or frighten them into submission. We here at Killer Fiction deplore these tactics.

And bullying is NEVER okay.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Do Pink Covered Mysteries & Erotica Have In Common? Self-Righteous Critics!

As many of you know, I'm trying my hand at erotic fiction. This is a switch from writing amateur sleuth novels and yet I'm not entirely surprised that an editor at Simon & Schuster suggested it. There's a lot of sex in several of my mystery novels (the two page sex scene in Passion, Betrayal & Killer Highlights was even reprinted in Cosmo). So I'm not entirely out of my element.
Taken From Post Secret!

But the other thing that gives this exercise a familiar feel is that the genre of so called "chick-lit" murder mysteries and erotic fiction have one major common denominator: they both take an enormous amount of abuse from literary elitists.

Just look at some of the comments on Anne Browning Walker's Huffington Post's article: Why Intelligent Women Read Romance Novels.  Here's just a sample:
Each to his own, but romance novels are just soft porn, women like porn as much as men do but can't admit that, so this is the socially acceptable outlet. Repressed women love romance novels because they are bodice rippers with ridiculous plots, just like the porn men like.
This just sounds like a great way for a woman who thinks she's a smart woman to justify the fact that she reads crappy romance novels with raised lettering on the cover. It's not actually true.[that smart women read these books]
Is there anything stupider than women who constantly and neurotically (and egotistically) feel the need to label themselves "smart women"?
Especially, when they are about to describe one or more of the very insipid things they do...
My response to that last comment is yes, people who use their free time reading articles they know they're going to hate just so they can make insulting comments anonymously are infinitely stupider.
It all reminds me of the outrage of the literary critics when Bridget Jones opened the floodgates for  books featuring young, single female protagonists who occasionally like to shop. The authors of these books (myself included) were supposedly bringing great literature to its knees, robbing more serious authors of the attention they deserved and assaulting the book shelves with our unforgivably pink covers! It was an outrage! Maureen Dowd actually wrote a whole column in which she named my first book, Sex, Murder And A Double Latte, as one that was helping to undermine the elegance of the entire murder mystery genre (I was given the privilege of responding to Ms. Dowd on Beatrice.com). On the flip side, a group called American Decency Association (I could NOT make that name up) used my sex scene that was excerpted in Cosmo as proof that Cosmo shouldn't be allowed to be sold in "decent-family oriented stores," you know, like CVS and Safeway. There is nothing like having a paragraph where you describe an orgasm being reprinted and lambasted a hundred times over on the Christian Wire News Service. 

So I, and every other author like me, was getting it from both sides. In fact that photo on the very top of this blog? That was taken from Post Secret. Dowd and the Morality people freaked one of my readers out so much that my book became their dirty little secret! I mean Post Secret is where people confess to hating their mothers and fantasizing about having sex with Catholic Saints for God's sake! 

But I digress...

Undoubtedly I will face the same kinda thing when my erotic fiction is published and if I'm REALLY lucky another bigwig like Dowd will take me to task and I'll be invited to respond in a public forum (really, it was a lot of fun). And American Decency Association? Please, please, PLEASE put me on your hit list again. It was one of the greatest honors of my career.  

But as fun as it is to have enemies I do have a problem with critics who judge an entire genre of books by their covers.  What makes a book good is not the cover but it's also not the genre. It's how it's written. I heard so many people complain about how the protagonists in "chick lit" are all obsessed with finding a man, obsessed with shopping and obsessed with their weight.

Well my mysteries were often called chick-lit-mysteries and my protagonist was never obsessed with finding a man (she does end up with an on-again-off-agan love interest but she's clearly cool with being single), isn't a big shopper and never freaks out about her weight. That's not to say there aren't some great books written about women who are worried-about/obsessed-with these things. I'm just saying you can't assume you know what's going to be in a book just because it has a cover that fits into the pastel color palette. 

To be honest I think this erotic fiction I'm writing might be the best thing I've written to date. I posted an excerpt online and one Twitter reader told me it reminded her of Sidney Sheldon.

Sidney Sheldon! That's the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life! But I'm sure there will be those who dismiss it as unreadable smut simply because its erotica just as there are those who dismissed my mysteries because of the color of their covers. Those people who like to write ugly comments on Huffington Post will always have the time to post ugly comments attacking anything they're uncomfortable with but mostly ignorant about.

I'm just hoping the silent majority will give it a shot. And maybe, just maybe, the intelligent people who like to read books that the book police tell us we shouldn't read will become increasingly willing to tell those particular coppers to either take the time to read what they're criticizing or shut the hell up.

Although it is pretty clear that the American Decency Association read my sex scene. I have to remember to send them a thank you letter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Not Sure I Have Anything To Add Here...

So, I ran across this old ad.  Basically, if your husband has withdrawn from you intimately, "instead of blaming him....she should question herself."

That's right - because Peggy doesn't douche with Lysol, Dave has lost all interest in sex.  This of course means:

1) Dave has a weird, antiseptic aromatherapy fetish,
2) Back then, people really, really, really, had no idea how Lysol was supposed to be used,
3)The Lysol label had 'simple directions' on how much to douche with,
4) Apparently, 'many doctors advise their patients to douche regularly with Lysol brand disinfectant.

I've decided what to do with my time machine.  And if I can't get a time machine, I'll just have to kill off some men in my next book.

The Assassin

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Street Dancing with a Pit Bull

Street Dancing with a Pit Bull
(Warning:  Long post, but it will be worth it!)

Winners!! Today's winners for the Blame it on Texas ARC are:  Cheryl and Michele.  And one person, Terriosburn wins a bound copy of Whispers at Moonrise.  Please email your addresses at christie@christie(-)craig(dot)com.

*BOGO Update*:  Mega congrats to Pat, Alison, Christine and Jennifer!!  Ladies, check your inbox for details about your prize.

UPDATE:  I'm giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter.  Plus, if you get a moment, go check out my post at this great new website, Gimme a Little Kiss

Contest!  Contest!  Today I’m giving away two copies of Blame it on Texas.  Winner will be posted on top of this blog tomorrow.  Make sure you come back and check.

BOGO Update!!  I'll be announcing the winners of the BOGO contest later today on this blog, so swing by this evening for the news!

Hubby did it again!!  Yeah, what would I blog about if I wasn’t married to that man?  Here’s another question. Why isn’t he permanently in the dog house?  Wait, I know the answer to that one.  It’s because he somehow manages to come out of every situation looking . . . not-so-bad . . . and here's the kicker . . . almost heroic.  But oh . . . there are moments he’s gotta be glad I don’t pack heat, because he’d be a goner.  And in this instance, so would the pit bull.  Here’s what happened.

I walk an hour a day, about five days a week, with a friend who lives a few blocks from me.  And as soon as Lady, the Craig’s fourteen hundred dollar junkyard dog, learned what I was doing when I left each morning, she decided it was her duty to come with me.  But we all know walking a dog and walking to get your heart rate up and to relieve stress due to living with my hubby, are two different things.  So Hubby started coming with me each morning for a few blocks; and when we met up with my friend Susan, he would turn back around and take Lady home.

That morning was like most; Lady was full of pep, I was half asleep, and hubby was just waiting for an opportunity to do something that would get him blogged about.  As we cut down one block, I have lady’s leash.  I see Susan walking toward us a couple blocks down the street.  I guess I was watching her and I didn’t see the pit bull. 

Let me tell you, I’m not afraid of dogs, but when a beady-eyed, un-neutered, dangerous-looking pit charges you and the beloved pet you’ve already spent fourteen hundred dollars on, it’s pee-in-your pants scary and you discover dance moves that you didn’t even know you had.  You even discover vocal chords you’ve never used. 

So try to imagine it.  Me, screaming, dancing, Lady on a leash desperately trying to evade the dog, leash getting caught between my legs while dancing and screaming, all the while the pit bull continues to chase.  Pit bull darts left, I dart right, Lady darts between my legs.  I nearly fall on my face with the leash wrapped around my knees.

Oh . . . you may be wondering what Hubby was doing during all this.  It was the question that went through my freaking mind!  So somewhere in between gasping for breath and doing the dance moves, I spied Hubby from the corner of my eye.  He was just standing there, arms crossed over his chest, watching.  WATCHING!

I screamed at him, using my newly discovered vocal chords, “Do something, damn it!”

"One question" he said.  Yes, he literally thought that was the time for questions.  “Is this the dog that came at you before?”

Now . . . it wasn’t the same dog, but how the hell is that important?  It was the dog who was coming at me now.  So I screamed again, “Do something, damn it!”  Hey . . . when a writer finds a good piece of dialogue that works, she can reuse it.

Finally, he stepped in.  He positioned himself between Lady and me and the pit bull.  But the dog did a fake left and got around him.  Hubby did a quick right, Lady darted between my legs again, and I, once again, discovered some new moves.  At one point, Lady and I were wrapped around a mailbox and then all of us, Hubby included, were back in the middle of the street.  But at least now I’m not the only one dancing in public making an idiot out of myself.

Hubby finally snagged the dog’s collar.  Lady and I took off down the street.  Now, I was a bit concerned about Hubby, so I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t getting mauled by the pit bull.   

Nope, pit bull and Hubby were just centered in the middle of the street, like old friends, watching Lady and me make our getaway.  “What do you want me to do?” he calls out.

“Wait until we get far enough away, and then let go of the damn dog collar and run like hell!” I screamed.

Now… I know people don’t believe this shit happens to me, but as I said, Susan was walking down the street and she witnessed the whole thing.  When I got to her, the look on her face said it all.  She was seriously concerned.  Oh, not about me, but about being friends with me.  I mean, since we’ve been friends, I've landed her in the hospital once and got her lost in our own neighborhood.  Not that either of them were my fault, mind you.

But being the kind person she is, she suggested we speed walk back to her house and she’d drive me and Lady back home before we went for our walk.  She got one scared dog and one scared friend in her leather-seated Jaguar, probably hoping Lady hadn’t peed on herself during the excitement (or me, for that matter) and she drove to my house.

Right as she pulled up into my drive, I got this weird feeling.  “Oh crap!” I said.

“What?” Susan asked. 

“I’ll bet my hubby brought that darn Pit Bull home with him.”

Susan, who is a dog lover and rather fond of my hubby, looked at me and what she said made me question being friends with her.  “Well, if the dog wasn’t vicious, what else could he have done?”

“I liked my idea better,” I told her.  “Let his collar go and run like hell!”   Anyway, Susan held Lady by the leash as I went inside and made sure the dog wasn’t there. 

So what do you think?  Do you think my hubby was out of his mind enough to bring a Pit Bull home?  How good would the story be if he didn’t, right?

Anyway, I walked in and called out.  “Hey?”

He called back. “Don’t be mad at me!”

Oh, I was beyond mad.  That’s when I would have shot him if I’d had a gun. 

He said, “He’s really not a bad dog.”

I said, “He charged at me and Lady.”

“I think he just wanted to check her out.  You know, cute female dog, studly male dog thing.”

“He’s a Pit Bull!” I insisted.

“No,” he said. “He’s just an English bull dog.  And he has a collar with the vet's number.  I’ve already called and got the number of the owner and left a message.”

“You better hope he calls,” I said, studying the dog, wanting to think he was an English bull dog, because that’s the kind of dog I have in my Hotter in Texas series, but I just couldn’t buy it.  Anyway, he locked the dog away and I brought in Lady.  Then I remembered, “Why did you take so damn long to help me back there?”

(This is another moment when I would have shot him if I’d been toting.)  He looked me right in the eyes and said, “I was brainstorming my mission statement.”

“MISSION STATEMENT?”  I found those new vocal chords again.

“Yeah, I didn’t know what I needed to do,” he said.  “Protect you.  Protect Lady.  Or protect myself.  Or if anyone needed protecting at all.  The dog wasn’t growling and the hair on his back wasn’t standing up.”

“No, but my hair was standing up!”  I took off for a walk before I started planning to skip buying a gun and just go for instant gratification and resort to using a knife on Hubby.

When I got back an hour later from my walk, Hubby informed me that the dog was sweet, hadn’t even growled once.  But the dog owner still hadn’t called and dog piss was all over my living room.  So I was pissed, not being sweet, and I started growling.

And let me just tell you right out, I was not charmed by the unwanted visitor.  He kept looking at me like . . . like I was lunch and he was hungry.  

Now . . . Hubby had an appointment he had to make, and he informed me that although it was too hot outside for man or beast, if I was uncomfortable, he’d put the English bull dog in the dog run in the backyard.  “Good idea,” I told him, I didn’t want to be alone with “whatever kind of dog it was,” and I didn’t want the two dogs to have another run-in.  I’d already done all the dancing I wanted to do in one day.

So Hubby put the dog,  a bowl of water and food in the dog run and went to get ready.  Twenty minutes later, I’m at my desk and I hear . . . “Pant, pant, pant" and "Grrr.”

I looked up from my computer screen to see a hot, pissed-off hungry Pit Bull in my study, (yes, I was back to calling him a Pit Bull) staring at me and my sweet dog, Lady.  The short muscled dog had broken out of the dog run and pushed open the backdoor.  Yeah, our backdoor can be pushed open if it’s not locked, (one of the many things on Hubby’s to-do list that hasn’t gotten done.)  I only thought I was finished with dancing for the day.

I commenced to do some fancy footwork to keep the two dogs apart and reconnected with my newly found vocal chords, hoping Hubby would hear and come to the rescue.  Much to Hubby’s credit, he came running.  While he got the dog locked in one room, because he said the dog was just too hot to be outside, I got busy finding which knife I wanted to use when I killed Hubby.

Hubby, smart man that he is, left rather quickly, and I was stuck listening to a Pit Bull locked in one room while waiting for a Pit Bull’s owner to call. 

My son arrived home and he let the dog out of the room and played with him, assuring me that he’s not a Pit Bull, and he’s just misunderstood.  Like I’m gonna buy that!

Fast forward eight hours.  Hubby’s back home, I haven’t gotten a phone call and there’s a little more piss in my living room.  While I had learned not to cringe when the dog looked at me, I was not letting my precious Lady dog around the beast.  And Hubby, like myself, was getting worried about not hearing from the misunderstood dog’s owner.

He called the vet back, got the address of the owner—which was odd because he lived about ten miles away--and then Hubby left his tenth message on the guy’s telephone.  Oh, yeah, he also asks the vet assistant.  “He’s an English Bulldog right?” 

The vet assistant said, “Uh, no, he’s a pit bull.”

Hubby, again, showing his intelligence, hid all the knives in the house.  Then desperate and thinking maybe someone was dog sitting, he calls the dog liaison in our neighborhood.   The woman immediately asked Hubby to hang on and puts him on a three-way call with a panicking dog owner who was in the middle of moving, and whose dog had been staying at his mother-in-law’s.  Hence the man didn’t get our phone messages and was already making signs about the dog.  Though, why he didn’t think to call the vet is beyond me.

“He’s a good dog,” the man kept saying.  “He’s not your normal Pit Bull.  He’s my pride and joy, please don’t hurt him.”

Hubby assured the concerned man that his beloved pet was fine and no harm had come to him.  Hubby even said, “’Most' of the family has fallen in love with him.”  And he cut his eyes to me. 

Right!  Like I should feel bad!  The man showed up, dog and owner share a sweet touching “together again” moment, like in one of those in a Lifetime movie, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.  The man offered a reward, which my hubby refused.  “It’s reward enough to just get a lost dog back with his owner,” he assured the man.

He shook our hands and told my husband.  “Not very many people would have done this.   You guys are special people.”

So okay, I wasn’t so special, and Hubby didn’t actually out me.  Hubby was the . . . hero, and maybe I overreacted just a bit, but not really.  The dog could have been as bad ass as he looked, and he did pee in my living room.  

I guess you could say the moral of the story is: all’s well that ends well.  But looking a little deeper, there are a few other lessons to be learned: You can’t judge a book by its cover, dogs by their breed, or people by their color or creed.

After the dog was gone, and my need to kill had lessened, I realized I was lucky to be married to a man who has a big enough heart to care about a stray dog—even one from a breed with a bad reputation.   See why I can’t put Hubby in the doghouse permanently?  Not that he doesn’t deserve to go there for a while!  Brainstorming his mission statement, my butt!!!

So how about you guys?  Any hubby stories you want to share?  Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win one of the two copies of Blame it on Texas.


Monday, July 16, 2012


One thing that's been interesting to me as a writer is learning how much readers equate authors with their primary character.  People have called me "Tara" on more than one occasion, and my sister told me that she has trouble reading the sex scenes in my books because she can't help but picture me and my husband.  Yikes!

Am I like IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway?  In some ways, yes.  We both tend to be a bit of a smart ass, and we're both the youngest child in our families.  We both use humor as a coping mechanism.  We both wear a 32A bra.  But that's where our similarities end.  Tara is a well-trained sharpshooter while I've only shot guns on one occasion (though I did have remarkable accuracy).  Tara grew up in a small town while I was raised in the suburbs.  And Tara is far braver than I could ever hope to be.

I admit that one thing I find difficult in being an author is the promotion aspect.  I realize authors have to promote their own work, but it feels a bit narcissistic to constantly be talking about myself and my books.  Frankly, I'm not all that interesting!  My writing is the most exciting thing I do.  It's my escape from my otherwise humdrum life.  I have tons of fun living vicariously through Tara.

I read an interesting article in the Delta Airlines magazine recently.  It was about advertising and it mentioned that the character Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials has her own Facebook page with tens of thousands of followers.  She's had marriage proposals online.  And she's not even real!

I realized I could do the same with Tara.  Tara's life is far more interesting than mine and I'd be much more comfortable speaking through her.  So I've set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for Tara.  I hope you'll "Friend" Tara on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SpecialAgentTaraHolloway  or follow her on Twitter at @SATaraHolloway.  (Hopefully these links will work.  I'm still working out some of the kinks with verifications, etc.)

What do you think about interacting with fictional characters on Twitter and Facebook?  Fun?  Ridiculous?  

Diane Kelly is the author of the humorous IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway romantic mystery series.  Read excerpts on the "Books" page at www.dianekelly.com.


Friday, July 13, 2012

I’m back!!!

Baby Boy Halliday is due any day now, so I'm off putting the finishing touches on the nursery and sleeping as much as possible (since I know that will be a treat of the past very soon!), and While I am off on maternity leave, I've got the lovely and talented Maria Grazia Swan coming to hang out with you guys every other Friday in my place. I'll be sure to pop in and post pics of Baby now and then, but in the meantime, please show Maria some love. Take it away Maria...

*  *  *

When Gemma asked if I’d like to cover Fridays while she takes some well deserved time off, I could hardly contain myself. I love to post on Killer Fiction and can’t wait to read the comments you wonderful people leave.

Then reality sets in and I ask myself, “What am I going to write about? Let’s see, Gemma is much younger, much prettier, definitely blonder, she has one son more than I do, and she sells zillions more books than me. Ah! What do I have that she doesn’t? I’m Italian. Wait, Gemma is an Italian name, it means jewel, there may be an Italian connection there. Okay, but even so, I have been Italian forever, I have a lot more Italian stories to tell.”

What I’m trying to say is that I will post stories of my growing up Italian and some of what happened after I discovered America.

Do you know that Italians celebrate name day as much as birthdays?

When I was growing up, Catholicism was the only game in town, and all newborns had to have a name with a corresponding saint. That’s not a biggie since there is a saint for every day of the year. For example, Saint Gemma Galgani is celebrated on April 11th, so if your name is Gemma your name day would be April 11, and you get to have a party, and friends and relatives wish you ‘Buon Onomastico’—Happy name day.

Ah, Italy, the country with the most religious holidays! Italians find all kinds of excuses to celebrate, and then they need one more day to recuperate from the celebration. That’s why no one works the day after Christmas or the day after Easter, and so on. 

And while on the subject of Italy, if any of you is planning a trip there, don’t hesitate to ask me questions. If I don’t know the answer, I know where to get it.


Maria Grazia Swan

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Young Adult Debut!

Several weeks ago I blogged about completed writing projects I was pondering going the indie/self pub route with. One of those stories was TRADING SPACES, a middle school level "feel good" story about feuding twins, Jonas and Jillian Kragen, who undergo a "Freaky Friday" switcharoo just in time for cheerleading tryouts and the football season opener.

I took the plunge and the book is now available for digital download.

Here's a wee blurb:

Jonas Kragen and his twin sister, Jillian, have been going at it since before they were born: launching fierce kick-boxing matches in their mother’s womb, turning walkers into bumper cars, grade school recesses into blood sport, and puberty into pistols at ten paces.

Jillian thinks Jonas is Exhibit ‘A’ in the case for man’s evolution from the ape and what brains he has are all in his biceps. Jonas is convinced his sister is a shallow little drama queen with a gift for getting under his skin.

Fourteen and still feuding, this dueling duo is in for a rude awakening when they undergo a shocker of a switcharoo and discover they’ve inexplicably changed places! Jonas is suddenly sporting toe rings, and wearing gunky mascara and candy apple red nail polish. Jillian’s got Jonas’s hairy legs, humongous feet, and tidy whities.

And Jonas wants them back!

With cheerleading tryouts and the big football scrimmage coming up, these traumatized twins must find a way to peacefully coexist long enough to figure out how to reverse the surreal swap before someone discovers they’ve traded spaces.

It’s a battle of the sexes, sibling-style, where Freaky Friday is child’s play and “walk a mile in my shoes” takes on a whole new meaning.

How do you say gender gap?

And don't forget to grab a FREE digital copy of CALAMITY JAYNE at one of these vendors!

Hope your summer is full of great "beach reads"!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Combining two great loves: zombies and real estate

I'm all for preparedness, and for fiddling on Realtor.com. Have you ever played on that site? It's amazing. I love imagining where I'd live if I moved to New York, New Orleans, anywhere really (Does anyone else do this or is it just me?)

Anyhow, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when Realtor.com unveiled its Top 10 Anti-Zombie Strongholds. Best of all, they're on sale now. Well, if you have a few extra million, that is.

Details, details...

Still, check them out. Personally, if I had to choose, I'd go for the self-sustaining island with the double moat.

Or maybe, just maybe the wilderness missile silo. It has a jacuzzi, you know, for relaxing after taking out a few of the undead.

Either way, I simply must take along Norman Reedus (he plays Daryl Dixon, the bow and arrow toting bad ass on The Walking Dead and he happened to be right by this booksigning I was doing last weekend).

So what about you? Where would you go, and who would you bring, if you needed to head to your hideout?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours

I’m a music junkie. Always have been, always will be. I bought my first record when I was six and have yet to stop. I have over 15,000 songs in iTunes and feel naked unless I have my music with me. I used to manage bands, see all the concerts, and go to all the clubs. Then I got married and had kids.

Let’s just say there’s been a long dry spell, we’re talking probably twenty years. Now that my kids are older, ranging in age between 15 and 19 and they’re into music too. I thought it would be a great idea to buy the whole family Coldplay tickets for Christmas. We’ve been waiting for almost seven months and the day has finally arrived! We’re leaving to go to the Verizon Center in about a half hour. Here’s a panoramic shot of last nights show.

We bought these tickets in October or November—it’s been a while. Not that we’d forgotten about them, but couldn’t remember the exact date to save my life. I just knew it was sometime in July.

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to make a conscious effort to spend more time together without the kids. Go out, have dinner, see a show, and put a little more effort, time, and yes, money, into our relationship. I was all for it—I adore spending time with my husband especially since it was Stephen who would have to figure out how to pay for it.

A couple weeks ago I was working in my office when he turned to me and said, “I just got tickets to see the Bacon Brothers at Longwood Gardens.”

Awesome. I love the Bacon Brothers. I was practically bouncing on the exercise ball I use for a desk chair. “That’s great! When are we going?”

“July 10th.”

“Hmm… When’s that Coldplay concert,” I asked?

He scratched his head. “Let me look.” He pulled the tickets out of the very orderly file system he keeps. “July 9th.”

I haven’t seen a concert in years and now I’m seeing two in twenty-four hours. Not that I mind, but really, that’s pretty incredible even for me!

So what was the last concert you went to? And what do you and your significant other do on your dates?