Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Brave Are You?


I pulled three names out of the hat. Linda, Kima, and TerriO. So guys...email me at christie(at)christie(-)craig.com. Give me your address and your size. T-shirt runs small.


Quick question — how brave are you? Now, I don’t mean, would you go rushing into a burning building to save your neighbor’s cat. Nor do I mean, would you grab a flashlight and head off to the attic at the stroke of midnight when you hear some strange noises that could only mean one of two things — your attic is haunted or there’s a family of antisocial raccoons living up there. Nope. Both of those things require bravery but it’s not the kind I’m talking about. I’m talking about being brave enough to be true to yourself, even when it may result in other people’s disapproval. Brave enough to do what feels natural to you, even when everybody else may think your choices are weird.

Now, I come from a long line of Southern women who’ve displayed that kind of bravery. I think I told you guys about my great-grandmother Plummer Bronson, who was a healer and used to talk the burn out of people. This all happened a little before my time but I’m sure my great-granny experienced her share of stares from people who just didn’t understand. Not that it ever stopped her from doing what felt right to her. She had the kind of wisdom that only comes with age, with having lived a life to the fullest.

I admire those kinds of women — Women who are brave enough to follow their hearts and be true to themselves. Women who continue to nurture their spirits, who don’t stop growing, exploring. Living. If you’ve read any of my books, you’ve seen this type of women in my stories. Remember Nana in Don’t Mess With Texas? An older wise woman who spoke her mind and did things her way.

And that’s why today I’m going to tell you guys about a lady who exemplifies all of that and more. Her name is Pat Richardson. I met Pat through my writing career. She’s the Managing Reviews Editor for Fresh Fiction and she owns a bookstore. Just my kind of lady. But Pat’s more than just a lady, she’s a lady with spunk. And I like spunk. She’s also a great-grandmother. So what makes her so brave? Well, last summer, she marched herself into a tattoo parlor and got herself a tattoo. And as soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to interview her for our Killer Fiction readers. I mean, come on, how many great-grandmas do you know who just got their first tattoo?

CC: When did you get the tattoo?

PR: I got the tattoo in August. I’m attaching the picture. It was taken the same day so the leg is a little bit swollen around the edges.

CC: What inspired you to get it?

PR: I just decided it was a funky thing to do but it took two years to convince my husband, even though he has one. My kids could not understand why I had to have his permission, being the old lady that I am. I have an online bookstore called PatCat Books – http://www.patcat.net/ - so I had designed this in my head a long time ago. I wanted a book with a cat on top of it. Of course, my tattoo in my mind was a lot smaller than what I ended up getting. And I still look down and think, wow, I did this.

CC: How old were you when you got it? You are a great grandmother, right?

PR: I am 67 and, yes, I have 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

CC: Okay, I gotta ask this — Did people think you were crazy when you did it?

PR: Some did. It appeared on Facebook before I even had it done and one of my daughters just about had a fit, but the other one cheered me on. But of course, she has three tattoos of her own.
CC: Did you think you were crazy?

PR: LOL. After I got it done, I thought, Dear God, what did I do? But then, I thought, Yay me! I did something I never thought I would do.

CC: What are some funny anecdotes about getting it? I know one of your grandchildren thought you were mad at grandpa. Can you tell me about that and any other funny ones?

PR: As I said, the tattoo was on Facebook before I even had it finished. My family knew my hubby and I had been having a disagreement about something else and they didn’t know I had talked about it before I had it done so they thought it was a spur of the moment thing. Within ten minutes of my having it done, my oldest grandson called his momma and said "Boy, Mimi must be really pissed at Papa to do this." LOL. A half an hour later, everyone in my family knew about it and a whole lot of friends — both mine and the friends of my kids and grandkids — knew about it, too. The power of Facebook is really amazing.

One of my sisters thought I had totally lost my mind and the other one said, “You go, girl!” My husband had been up at our lake cabin when I did this and I never said a thing to him about it. After about three days, he finally asked if I was ever going to tell him. I said, “Nope.” I told him that if he didn't notice it on his own, I wasn't going to show him. My Momma didn't raise no dummy. LOL. The next day I went to our book club tea and it took about 15 minutes for everyone there to notice my tattoo. One of the ladies told me I was now a tat slut but if I got more than one, I would be a tat ho. Guess I will stay a slut because one is enough.

CC: Oh, that’s too funny! Have you had any reactions from strangers to your tattoo?

PR: A few weeks after I got it, I was at a thrift store looking at books when one of the workers said "Oh, look at the kitty." I immediately looked under the rack, hunting for a little kitty. I told her, I didn't see it and she said, “I meant the one on your leg.” Talk about feeling like a big dummy.

CC: Any regrets?

PR: No, not at all. I figured I am old enough to know my own mind and I also figured at my age what is going to droop has already done so, so at least the tat will not stretch out too far. I had one lady show me hers after I had mine done. It was a rose and she said after all these years it was now a long stem rose.

I told you guys Pat is an amazing woman, didn’t I? So what about you? Have you ever been as brave as Pat? Have you ever done anything that other people may have disapproved of, but you knew in your heart it was right for you? If so, I’d love for you to share your experiences. And today, in honor of Pat, I’m going to give away a Shadow Falls T-shirt to one lucky poster. So make sure you post your comments.

As for me, well, I don’t see a tattoo in my future, but I’m sure I’ll raise some eyebrows as I continue to write my books, with humor, heart and heat. Hey…I don’t think we ever grow too old to enjoy some romance.


Monday, January 30, 2012

MAN THEORY - by Guest Blogger Vicki Batman (hosted by Killer Fictionista Diane Kelly)

I am thrilled to host one of my writing buddies, Vicki Batman, here at Killer Fiction today! Vicki's a hoot - you'll love her. Read on to find out her theories about some strange and wonderful creatures - men.

MAN THEORY by Vicki Batman

I showed the cover to my new short story collection to my men and they died laughing. I knew the title was funny, but that funny? They asked, "What do you know about men?"

A lot more than they think.

I come from a family of four girls. So, yeah, I didn't really-really know men. But lots of water has passed under the bridge, and here's some things I have observed over the years:

- men talk short
- snakes--what's the problem?
- smell good after a shower
- cars = speed
- shopping is for food and guns, athletic stuff, computer
- clean house???
- wash clothes when out of clean underwear
- meat, meat, meat
- what's wrong with what I'm wearing?
- love their pets
- action movie vs. romance -- uh, no contest
- socks are an accessory
- sleeves are for nose wiping

My quick short story, Man Theory, is about a geek who espouses his theory about love. Here's a fun excerpt:

"I have a theory about love.”

Ethan's statement knocked me from the proverbial mountain top. Eyeing him, I clapped my hand across my mouth to stifle a giggle.

From Day One at our new jobs at Prime Designs, Ethan and I had forged a friendship. I was the artsy-heartsy, emotional gal. Him--the technical, by-the-book pal. We ate an occasional dinner, watched a movie, whatever. Traded small gifts like coffee, a magazine, music. However, Ethan had never made an overture toward me.

Translated: Nothing intimate.

I'd said to myself, "Rats."

For work, we'd traveled to Colorado Springs to attend a workshop on web design innovations. After check-in, I'd joined him at the bridge crossing the lake to decide about lunch before the meetings commenced.

My six-one geek wearing rimless glasses, leaned against the railing, and stared into the sparkling blue waters of the high mountain lake, and the feathered fowl paddling by.

Have his feelings changed? I asked in disbelief, "R-really? A theory...about love?"

What have you discovered about your man/men?

When you add to the list, your name will be added in a drawing for a free ebook (be sure to include your email).

Vicki Batman is kicking back with a diet Coke and torturing a new set of characters by playing "what if?" Find her at: http://vickibatman.blogspot.com OR at: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com

Man Theory and Other Stories will be available February 1 thru Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Morning (Afternoon and Evening) Sick

For anyone looking for a good read, my third Hollywood Headlines book, HOLLYWOOD CONFESSIONS is now free on Amazon.com!  

Just follow the link below, or go to Amazon.com and search for the title.  (Just be sure to click the formats book for the totally free version, not the version only free to Prime members.)  If you don’t have a Kindle device, you can still read the free book by downloading  the free Kindle app for your MAC, PC, ipad, iphone, android, blackberry, or other smart phone devices.

 This month I’ve been really slacking on the writing.  What to know why?  Two words: morning sickness.  Though why it is called morning is beyond me since, as most women who have been pregnant know, it’s morning, noon, and night.   For example, yesterday I got a call from a woman at the “advanced age mother’s program” at my insurance company.  (Thanks.  Now I feel better about myself.  I mean, I know I’m not 20 anymore, but do we really have to call it “advanced age”?  Couldn’t we call it “more prepared” or “more experienced”?  We are highly hormonal, you know.  People have been killed for saying less about pregnant woman at this stage.)  The woman asked me a series of questions about how my pregnancy was gogin so far.  When she got to the one about morning sickness, I had to laugh at her.  “How many of the last 24 hours would you say you have experienced any nausea?”

“Um, all of them?”

“And of the last 48 hours?”

“All of them.”

“And of the last-“

“Let me just save you some time here.   Whatever time frame you’re giving me, the answer is all of them.”

She then went on to ask what kinds of foods I was eating.  Did she not just hear me?  24/7 nausea.  I’m not eating food.  Okay, *chewing and swallowing* - toast.  Digesting - none.  Unless water counts as a food.   

Anyway, as you can imagine, it makes it a little bit hard to write.  Love scenes are DEFINITELY out at the moment.  (Why would I want to write about what put me in this position in the first place?!  Let me tell you, there would be a lot of condoms involved.)   My characters have not eaten a meal since the beginning of the book.  No food scenes whatsoever.   No humor scenes either.  It’s hard to think funny when you’re constantly running to pray to the porcelain gods.  Which basically leaves me with shooting scenes.  I’ve been shooting a LOT of people lately.  (See hormonal reference above.)  This book is going to be chock full of action.    

The one nice side effect of being newly pregnant?  My memory is totally shot.  I’ve completely forgotten when my deadline for this book is.  Convenient, right?  ;)

Okay, if anyone has any remedies for morning sickness, lay ‘em on me.  So far MetroMint peppermint water is my best friend, but I’m so open to suggestions!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Okay. I blew it. Today was my day to blog. And I knew it was my day to blog because I saw the reminder email that one of my fellow Killer Fiction bloggers set up to send to all of us to remind us when it's our turn.

But that was before I came down with a respiratory crud that came on fast and is still hanging on. Chills. Body aches. Cough. Fatigue. So, in spite of not being able to use the old "dog ate my homework" story I do have a legitimate reason to be posting this late.

And if being sick wasn't excuse enough, I'm also days away from my tax prep appointment. Seriously? The creeping crud and taxes in the same week? Tell me I've earned a pass this week.

On a happier note, I've finished the manuscript an editor requested the full of and it is on that editor's desk. Not one to sit on pins and needles while I wait, I've immersed myself in my next Calamity Jayne mystery and I must say, it's a joy to be back writing this series. I've really missed Tressa Jayne and the Grandville gang.

So, apologies to all for being late to the blog today. If anyone wants to make me feel better by sharing an example of the last time they spaced off something, chime in.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I have three teenagers and two of them are driving, so if you live in the state of Maryland, you might want to make sure you stay far away from any Blue Priuses.

Yes, child number one received his driver’s license on Friday and child number two is driving me and everyone else crazy since she received her learner’s permit.

Having mobile teens is good and bad. My son is now able to drive to school so I don’t have to pick him up after his JROTC duties. It’s also handy when I need a few things from the grocery store while I’m in the midst of cooking a meal.

On the down side, he thinks that since he’s able to drive, my car should be available to him at all times. He received his first lesson on that today when I said “No.” Of course I had to repeat it two more times just to make sure he got it into his head. And that was before he explained that I should allow him to drive the Sequoia to school since he’d get teased for driving a prissy Prius. That statement was met with a “Hell No!” after which I explained that if he was too embarrassed to drive the Prius, he was more than welcome to drive any other car he wanted—he’d just have to buy it first. Needless to say, he kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love you, Mom,” which is what he always says when he’s headed to the doghouse. Smart boy.

I don’t know about you, but I still have nightmares about driving with my parents. I’ll never forget the first time my father took me out to teach me to drive a stick shift. We lived on The Main Line of Philadelphia—think rolling hills—and Dad decided I should drive to Sears with him. Now my father, God love him, has never been the calm and retiring type—he’s the exact opposite. He spent the entire drive screaming at me and teaching me interesting combinations of curse words. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was about to lose my lunch. I never wanted to be that parent so I had my husband, the calmest man I’ve ever known, teach the kids to drive—problem solved, right? Wrong.

My son knows me well enough to never drive with me. I’m not a good passenger on my best day. He’s like his dad—he's missing the loudmouth Italian gene and doesn’t tolerate screaming well. I think he’s secretly relieved he’ll never have to drive me anywhere while I’m conscious. My daughter, however, is a legend in her own mind. Twinkle Toes, never lacking in confidence, thinks she’s the best driver the lord ever put on four wheels and has never been fazed by my loudmouth Italian tendencies. The other day she begged me to let her drive home from the Starbucks. I figured, what the hell. We were only a mile away from the house, the car wouldn’t go above 30 miles per hour, and if I screamed at her, she really wouldn’t care. I did okay until we hit the driveway. Our driveway has a big hump in the middle and the Prius bottoms out on if you try to straddle it, so you have to drive with one tire on the hump, and the other very close to the grass, which then runs up a very steep hill. Twinkle Toes wasn’t sure of how far over she needed to be and the next thing I know, we’re off roading, which would have been fine in the Sequoia or the Jeep, but the Prius? I'm talking we're were at a 40-degree angle! I was screaming, which didn't faze her, but then neither did the fact we were off-roading. She looked over at me and gave me the teenage eye roll. if I didn't have my hand wrapped around the Oh-Shit-I'm-gonna-die handle, I would have smacked her.

She's fine, I, unfortunately, have yet to recover.

So who taught you how to drive? And are you brave enough and calm enough to teach your own kids? Any helpful hints?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running shoes? Check. Zombies? Wait...

Something happened last week that still has me grinning every time I think about it. "The Run for Your Lives" Zombie-infested 5K is coming to St. Louis.

Now I've been stalking this race for awhile. They've been doing it in lots of other cities for the past few years. And the website cracks me up.

Basically, this is a 5K obstacle course where zombies try to "eat" you. Now this not being the actual end of civilization as we know it, the zombie threat is more to your ego. Each runner is given a race belt with flags. And similar to flag football, the flags can be torn off until none are left. At that point, you are a zombie. You can still run the race because, you know, it takes a bit for the virus to transform you. But you have to admit, it will call for a lifestyle change.

Someone took a chest-camera video of the race in Baltimore last year. Cracks me up every time I watch it (which is too much according to my daughter).

So if you're a runner or if you think you might be chased by zombies some day, check it out. And if anybody wants to run from zombies with me, we're getting a team together for the 3:00 p.m. wave on August 18 in St. Louis. Sign up for Team Fox. We'll be plotting our survival strategy and getting some cool t-shirts. I'll also bring a box of Twinkies for the end (Zombieland fans will know we need them).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Confusion Central

Cricket and Stacie won the copies of my upcoming Intrigue. I'll be in touch, ladies! Thanks for posting!

I spent the weekend trying to get all the Christmas decor packed, labeled and stored so that it's not still stacked in my living room. Yes, I said Christmas decor. Don't rush me; I'm busy. :) And besides, this is not, by far, the worst year. The worst year was the one where my brother came by to visit and carried my entire tree, decorations and all, into the garage....in May.

So I was doing some catch-up shopping also as you can tell I'm behind on everything and I've decided I am quite confused. By toilet paper. Whatever happened to those big packs you could get at Walgreens 2 for $10? Yes, I know, inflation and all that and technically, they've got you over a barrell, because well, toilet paper is sorta necessary for most folks.

But now, it's like selecting the best piece of confetti out of a trash bag full of it.

I can even narrow it down by brand - I've always liked Charmin - but that doesn't get me any closer to the best bargain for the money. They have all this used car salesman stuff going on - 36 double rolls equals 72 rolls, 20 extra padded rolls equals 32 regular rolls, and on and on and on.

I look at the packaging and try to figure out the logic of breaking the price down by roll and there's not any. Sometimes, it appear that the exact same roll of toilet paper may differ in price by a dollar. WTH?

So I'm making a suggestion to toilet paper manufacturers - price toilet paper by the foot. Feet are easily compared. And no one foot equals two foot plus a club foot nonsense. Just tell me how many feet of toilet paper I get in a package and let me do simple math.

Anyone who hasn't Liked my Facebook author page, please do so. I'm going to do giveaways there and want all my readers to have chances to win.

Today, I'm going to give away two copies of my upcoming February Harlequin Intrigue release to two blog posters. So post a comment with your email for a chance to win a copy of THE LOST GIRLS OF JOHNSON'S BAYOU.

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Modern Families by Maria Grazia Swan

I have this thing about my teeth. When I was growing up, our town didn’t have a real dentist. The young man performing dental work had learned from his father. Whatever he did was always without anesthetic, no laughing gas, no Novocain...he strapped you in, and you got to exercise your vocal cords.

When I came to The States and discovered the way it is supposed to work, I was ecstatic. You’ll never hear me complain about going to the dentist. Because of the experiences from my youth, I’m a little obsessed with prevention. At some point I was getting my teeth cleaned every four months. I didn’t see the dentist often but got very chummy with the hygienist. One day, the dentist called me into his office and explained that, while they would happily take my money every four months, it wasn’t necessary, six months between cleaning would be fine. Now I see the hygienist every six months, and that means we have to talk faster to catch up with all that happened in between cleanings. She does the talking, I can’t. My mouth must stay open with that sucking thing hanging on one side of the lips, but I’ve learn to express my dis/approval through my eyes. We get along royally.

My last visit was just before Christmas. Tracy had a happy glow about her, the one pregnant women often exude. I knew that wasn’t the case, because she already has 4 kids and, last time I asked, no husband. Okay, I know, you can have more than 4 kids and you don’t need a husband.  

She tells me ‘they’ just purchased a big old house for everyone to live happily together. I assumed she was talking about her mom. Yes, and no.

Here is the story, Tracy got married. She married the gay man she met one morning when she ran out of gas on her way to work. Now they all live together, Tracy, her mom, the four kids, Tracy’s new husband, his partner and, occasionally, Tracy’s former husband when he comes to town to see his doctor. I wanted to ask questions so bad I accidently bit the sucking thingy.

“There must be something I’m missing.” I managed to say before a new sucking tool was inserted into my mouth.

“I needed medical insurance,” Tracy said. “My husband has a fantastic medical plan, and now my kids and I are insured. I was able to get the surgery I needed and had been postponing. I feel like he saved my life”

I motioned I needed time off, “I understand what you are getting out it, how about him?”

            “He always wanted a family, now he has one. He adores my kids, helps them with homework, this is the most stable home life they’ve had in years. And both my husband and his partner cook. I mean, really cook! I love to see people’s faces when he introduces me as his wife and then introduces his partner. Priceless.”

Tracy has a screwy sense of humor.

While setting up my next appointment, she asked, “Are you going to use my happy story in one of your books?”

I thought about it for a minute or two, “Nah, no one would believe it.”

~ Maria

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Practical Romance

Tonight it was suggested to me that when a woman starts dating a man the first thing she’s thinking about is how that man makes her feel. If it’s good her focus is on that giddy feeling.

I don’t think it works that way. At least it doesn’t for me, not anymore. I think on a whole, women are much more pragmatic about their relationships in the beginning. If they’re interested in something more than just a fling what they’re initially thinking about is not how this guy makes them feel. Instead they’re focused on the following questions: “Is this someone I can respect?” “Do we have enough in common?” “Could I trust this person with my kids?” (assuming there are kids) “How would I feel introducing this person to my friends?” “Is he stable?” “Do we share the same values?” and so on and so forth.

I think that this is the main reason most of us want to wait before having sex. It’s not that we’re worried that the guy we’re with will stop respecting us if we put out too early, it’s that we know we won’t even be able to fully enjoy the experience unless we feel more settled about the above questions. In other words, the giddiness can come but only after our brains have decided that this is someone worth getting giddy about.

But a lot of men don’t realize women think that way. Sure, they complain about gold diggers but when you press them further they seem to imagine us to be much more romantic about it all, even going so far as to suggest that we are guided completely by our emotions.  And maybe we are...when we’re in our teens and early 20s.

But by the time the 30s come around women have become pragmatists and it’s the men who are the romantics, being led around by their feelings of excitement over this or that person, barely noticing the warning signs until they’re either slapped in the face with them or their excitement has died down. So why is it that women are still seen as the emotional ones when it comes to relationships?

I think we fiction writers are partially to blame. See, the fun thing about movies and books, particularly those written purely to entertain, is that everyone is guided by their emotions and that’s doubly true when it comes to female characters and romance. Take Scarlett O’Hara and Catherine (of Catherine and Heathcliff fame). Both were completely impractical when it came to love and when they did make pragmatic decisions they usually ended up regretting them because those decisions didn’t fulfill their hearts the way giving into their true soulmates might have. And when it comes to modern literature...well really, does anyone think it’s pragmatic to date a vampire?

But secretly (or maybe not that secretly) we all want to be able to be controlled by our emotions. We want to do what feels right rather than what logically seems right. We want to trust that our hearts really will lead us in the right direction. So people like me create emotionally driven characters and we joyfully live vicariously through the romance of it all.

And then we go out on our dates and we temporarily shelve the let's-get-giddy instinct and cling to our pragmatism.

Because really, being led around purely by our emotions? That only works for fictional women and maybe a few not-so-fictional grown-up boys.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


What WOULD Betty White Do?

It's Betty's 90th birthday! Happy Birthday Betty...on the off (off, off, off) chance that she reads this blog. Betty was among the first funny ladies in Hollywood. And she just gets funnier (like I will, naturally) with age.

Betty's genius has gone largely unnoticed for years until recently. But she had me with The Golden Girls. In fact, I imagine that's how the killerfiction babes will end up - all of us in a house in Boca - with me as Bea Arthur. I'm not going to speculate who would be the others - you know who you are.

In celebration, I thought I'd share a few of Betty's funniest quotes:

On aging:

"Oh, I don't need sleep. I just went to my hotel and had a cold hot dog and a vodka on the rocks."

I'm making this our regular Wednesday night family dinner.

On the battle of the sexes:

"Why do people say 'grow some balls'? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding."

Betty White vs. Chuck Norris - who's with me?

On natural history:

"All creatures must learn to coexist. That's why the brown bear and the field mouse can share their lives in harmony. Of course, they can't mate or the mouse would explode."

I have never heard a scientist say this, and I wonder why because it's totally true.

Happy Birthday Betty!

The Assassin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writers are Funny People

WINNER! WINNERS!! The winner of the $5 giftcard is Kristi. But I've chosen two other winners to recieve some swag: Theresa N. and Blackrose 37at yahool.com please all three of you email me at Christie(at)Christie-craig(dot)com

Contest! Contest! Win a $5 gift card to either B&N or Amazon.

Writers are funny people. Not funny-funny, although some of us can be. I’m talking more funny-strange. Yeah, I know that probably sounds like a weird confession to make, since I am a writer, but go with me on this for a minute or two. Not only do writers create imaginary people who are as real to us as our own families are, we also get all wrapped up in feeling the same emotions that our characters feel. I’m talking joy. Sorrow. Exhilaration. Heartache. And even grief. We feel each emotion as intensely as our story people do. This ability to connect with our characters’ emotions helps us to create characters and write scenes that strike an emotional chord with readers.

Now, when I describe it that way, it sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? I mean, you’d never think about sending me away for a month-long vacation in the local psych ward or anything, would you? Well, could someone please explain that to my hubby? Because sometimes I do see that look in his eyes. The looks that says, I’m a frog’s hair away from strange men in lab coats walking in and fitting me for some nice, new white, very tight jacket. Oh, sure, he denies it but when he asks, “Who were you talking to?” and I tell him, “My characters,” this look of concern crosses his face. I know what he’s thinking—Christie’s finally gone and lost her mind. Hey, it’s not easy being a writer.

And it’s probably even harder being married to one.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about how writers connect with their characters is because I had a new book out December 20th. This is one of those books that authors refer to as “the book of my heart.” Now, all of our books are special but some are just more special to us than others. That’s the case with Murder, Mayhem and Mama.

You see, this book was actually the first book I sold when I broke my long dry spell back in 2007. I’d sold four books that day—three were humorous romantic suspense novels to Dorchester. The other one was Murder, Mayhem and Mama, and my agent sold that to a small publisher who was going to release it as an e-book first and then out in print a year later. I was walking on air back then. Four of my babies were going to be published! But as often happens in this business, the publisher went under and Murder, Mayhem and Mama went back to living only in my imagination after a much too brief foray into the world.

But one great thing about the publishing industry is this: Things never remain stagnant. And now I’m beside myself with happiness that my baby is getting another chance.

Murder, Mayhem and Mama was released in digital form for Barnes and Noble’s Nook. On Feb. 10th, it will release at Amazon and other e-retailers. And I’m feeling just as excited about it this time as I was the first time.

So, what’s MM&M about? Well, it has all the hallmarks of a Christie Craig novel. By that, I mean, it has a hot romance between a yummy cop hero, Brit, and a quirky heroine, Cali, who are the perfect fit for each other (even if they don’t realize it.) There’s a mystery for them to solve and some dangerous bad guys who are threatening the heroine, plus a feisty Mama cat and her kittens who are determined to turn the hero into a cat person. By the way, the cat succeeds big time.

And then there’s Mama. And, no, this one isn’t a cat. She’s the heroine’s mama and she’s, well, dead. But still chain-smoking and offering her advice in my heroine’s very realistic dreams. Which is pretty much freaking out Cali. As a matter of fact, the look I see on her face is the same look I see on my hubby’s when he finds me having long conversations with my characters. She’s worried she might just be losing it. Nevertheless, Cali’s mom wants to make sure her baby girl is safe, and she also wants to see her baby girl find true love, so she’s not above a little other worldly match-making.

Here’s the cover for the book:

And here’s the blurb:

Being a mama is hard. But the job's even tougher when you're dead.

Cali McKay's mama isn't ready to pass over to the "other side" yet. Her
unlucky-in-love daughter needs her now more than ever. Before Mama can
chain-smoke her way to heaven, she's gotta make sure Cali's deadbeat
ex-boyfriend doesn't get her daughter killed.

Grief Sucks. Love Heals.

Cali lost her mom to cancer. Detective Brit Lowell lost his partner to
murder. Now he's in the mood to take down some dirtbags and Cali's ex just
happens to be a dirtbag leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him. Can
Brit trust this beautiful woman to help take down her ex? Can Cali look
past this sexy cop's hard exterior to trust him with her heart? Can life
get any crazier when Mama starts meddling from the grave? Only one thing’s
for sure—none of it will matter, unless they catch a killer before the
killer catches them.

So I hope all you guys with Nooks are giving my new baby a try. If you have a Kindle, be patient, it’s coming. And if you are solely a print book reader, well, I’m hoping someday to make that happen, too. But it may be a while.

Until then guys, stay happy. Keep laughing. And take my advice: avoid talking to yourself or your imaginary friends in front of people.

Today, I’ll give away a $5 gift card to either Amazon or B&N. All you have to do is leave a post. If you want to make it interesting, tell me about a time you felt someone looked at you as if you were a frog’s hair away from being locked up in a padded room.


Monday, January 16, 2012



We’ve had big fun here at Killer Fiction for the last two weeks as we’ve hosted our "Kick off the New Year contest!"

THE WINNER OF THE KINDLE FIRE OR NOOK COLOR (OR EQUIVALENT VALUE GIFTCARD IF YOU'VE ALREADY GOT AN E-READER) IS "PETITE!" Petite, please email me at diane@dianekelly.com so that we can make arrangements to get your prize to you.

Congrats to all of our winners and thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit us here at Killer Fiction!


Jan. 2 – Annie - $25 giftcard (not claimed yet! Annie, please email diane@dianekelly.com to claim your prize!)

Jan. 3 – Brandie - $25 giftcard

Jan. 4 – Kima - $25 giftcard

Jan. 6 - Sandy

Jan. 7 - the winners of Diana Layne's books were Rebekah E., StephanieJS, Virginia, and catslady

Jan. 9 – Alison - $25 giftcard; amf, Sarah S., Angela Bount – autographed copy of Jana DeLeon’s next Intrigue novel!

Jan. 10 - Barbara E. – $25 gift card and a copy of Robin Kaye's "Wild Thing"

Jan. 11 – Brandy - $25 giftcard

Jan. 12 – Glittergirl - $25 giftcard

Jan. 13 – RedPeril - $25 giftcard

Jan. 14 - Na - $25 giftcard

And now on to today’s blog.

It’s my pleasure to host suspense author Donnell Ann Bell here at Killer Fiction today! She touches on an issue that’s important to all writers – research. Authenticity is the key to creating a story that’s intriguing and compelling to readers. Read on to see how Donnell does it! And be sure to post a comment. Donnell will also be doing a $25 gift card giveaway today to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon (winner's choice).

Writing a Book Up Close and Personal

Hello Killer Fiction Bloggers! Don’t you love the “middle names” these brilliant authors christen themselves with? Let’s see, there’ “Trigger Happy” Halliday, “Crime Scene” Craig, “The Assassin” Langtry, “Bullet Hole, Bacus, “Killer” Kelly, the list goes on. Such creative killers! If I had to give me a middle name, it would be “Up Close and Personal” Bell. (I can do that because my last name is short ;).

The reason I say UC&P is because I’m a visual, tactile learner. As a former court reporter, I’m also a great listener. When I start writing, I often find myself typing along only to think, Wait, do I have that right? If I’m not sure. I’ve been known to stop a work in progress, pick up the phone and say to an expert, “Hey, can you meet with me?”

I’ve now met with police lieutenants, taken a Citizens Academy, volunteered for the sheriff’s office, and gone on numerous ridealongs. I go to lunch frequently with a coroner, my private eye friends are on speed dial, and just over the holidays, my daughter and I took an eight-hour gun course, complete with shooting range.
On-line classes are great, and I take them for an overview. But for me to get a true understanding, I go to the source. For instance, my volunteer assignments have helped me understand SWAT and police departments’ use of informants.

Thanks to the generosity of law enforcement and others, here’s a scene I wrote in “THE PAST CAME HUNTING.” Set up: My protagonist Melanie Norris has been kidnapped by my antagonist, rocking the world of her 15-year-old son who my cop hands over to his coach with instructions to keep the boy distracted. My police lieutenant, Joe Crandall, is coming to grips with how deeply in love he is with Mel and the guilt he feels that he wasn’t there to protect her. . .

“Very good, Mercer,” Joe said as the ex-convict ended the call. “If you ever decide to go straight, you should try acting.”

Along with several detectives, SWAT team members, the man nicknamed Skinny sat in a chair looking on. By his unrelenting glare, he didn’t appear happy that Mercer had agreed to wear a wire and cooperate with police. That was okay with Joe. Not only had Roscoe Mercer identified every member of the Chaos Bandits, the police had these men as accessories to felony kidnapping. Melvin “Skinny” Thomas wasn’t going to see the outside world anytime soon.

“Who’s got Skinny’s cell phone?” Joe asked.

A vice cop stepped forward. “I win that prize.”

“If it rings, keep your answers short. Don’t tip our hand.”

“Not a chance.”

Bruce Bennett entered as Joe and the other officer’s strapped on their Kevlar vests. “You understand what we want you to do, Mr. Mercer?” the D.A. asked.

Mercer reached for Luke’s practice jersey. Upon Joe’s request a patrolman had swung by Mel’s house and picked it up. “Walk in to Ramirez’s house and show ‘em this jersey.”

Joe lowered his head, hoping to God Mel could forgive him for using this tactic. They needed to establish her whereabouts before they swarmed the house. “Great,” Joe said. “Then what?”

“If the woman’s around I say, ‘What’s your name, pretty lady?’ If she’s not, I say, ‘Where’s the dame?’”

Pretty straightforward, Joe thought. Conceptually it should work, letting law enforcement know if it was safe to raid, using force. Too often, though, a kink found its way into the system.

Marksman Sam Ortega crossed the room. “We’re ready when you are, Lieutenant.”

Joe was pleased to see the man, who not too many weeks ago had been suspended for taking down a crazed meth dealer. Evidently, he’d been reinstated to active duty. Joe nodded. He directed an officer to take Skinny back to a holding cell.

Joe hadn’t even had to assign a group for this op. As soon as the callout went down, men stepped forward, the majority off duty, Ortega among them.

Clearing his throat, Joe said, “Thanks. Give me a second, then let’s do it.” He reached for the phone on his belt, walked to the window overlooking the lofts next door, then dialed Mel’s son.

Out of breath the boy answered after several rings. “Lt. Crandall?”

“Yeah, Luke, it’s me. Where are you?”

“I’m with Matt and Coach. We’re at school shooting baskets. What’s going on?”

“We believe we found your mom, and at this point, we think she’s okay. She’s being held against her will, and part of Maxwell’s scheme is to make her believe they have you.”

“What? That’s crazy. Why would―”

“Luke, listen to me. I hate to do this to you. Tell Coach to take you to his house and stay put and out of sight. I’m sure these people don’t travel in the same circles as any of you, but the media may be onto this kidnapping. If they see you out and about, or try to interview you when we’ve convinced them you’re being held someplace else, it could go bad for your mom.”

A moment’s silence occurred on the line before Luke said, “Got it.”

“Do I need to relay this information to your Coach?”

“No, sir. I’ll do it. Find my mom.”

“That’s the plan. Tell Matt I love him. Your father would be proud, Luke. I’m damn impressed as well. You boys be strong.”

Surrounded by patrol cars, Joe and the team walked to an unmarked van while Mercer slid into a blue Ford Focus. “Can you hear me?” the black man asked as he switched on the ignition.

“Copy,” the technician inside the van said.

“Just want you to know,” Mercer added. “If Ramirez and Maxwell smell a trap, you’ll never identify all my body parts. Take that up with the judge when you’re talking reduced sentence.”

“Will do, Mr. Mercer,” the D.A. replied. “Help us get Mrs. Norris out alive and it will buy you a great deal of leniency.”

Mrs. Norris alive. Taking slow, steady breaths, Joe entered the back of the vehicle and sat beside Bruce and the rest of the team.

The van started to move. The countdown was on.

I’m in complete admiration of someone who can sit down at a computer, write a book from start to finish, without ever leaving his or her keyboard. Talk about imagination and smarts. I merely know what I need to write a book.

Which brings me to you. What kind of learner are you? What do you put into your research? If you’re a writer, what do you do to ensure your scene’s authenticity? If you’re a reader, do you care if the author goes to such lengths? We’ll be drawing for a winner, either in digital or book form of THE PAST CAME HUNTING to a person who comments.

Thanks for having me as a guest on Killer Fiction!

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and debut author for Bell Bridge Books. She sold her second book, also a Golden Heart finaling manuscript, to BBB, as part of a two -book deal. Look for book two to be released late 2012, early 2013. To learn more about Donnell, check out her website at www.donnellannbell.com

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dreaming in Italian with Maria Grazia Swan

And the totally chosen at random winner of the $25 Starbucks or BN gift card (winner’s choice) is… Na!  Congrats, Na!  Email me at gemmasreadermail at gmail dot com with your contact info and we’ll get your prize out to you ASAP!

Please welcome our special guest blogger, Maria Grazia Swan! I've know Maria for years - ever since she published the hilarious BOOMER BABES, a non-fiction book about dating over 50. And now she has a fantastic mystery available in ebook that I highly recommend everyone check out.
Today Maria is giving away a $25 gift card to either Barnes & Noble or Starbucks (winner's choice). Just post a comment to be entered to win and check back tomorrow when the winner is announced.

I always wanted to be a writer. When I was a little girl I lived with my grandparents in a 3 story house my grandfather built. One rainy day I went up into the attic to look for something, not sure what. Keep in mind that was before phones, before TVs and certainly before computers. I found a wooden crate full of old books—Gialli, that’s what mysteries are called in Italy. The books had been left there by my uncle Agostino who migrated to Canada.
From then on I spent my weekends in the attic, reading. Agatha Christie, Rex Stout…I loved them all. In school my best grades were in Literature. My teachers liked my writing, often would read it out loud.
Then my parents moved to Belgium, and I said goodbye to my grandparents, the attic and the books. In Belgium I had to learn French, and I did. Soon my teachers liked my French essays.
I still dreamed of becoming a professional writer. By the time I was fourteen, not today’s fourteen, mind you, I entered a short story contest and won! A French newspaper published my story. Pretty good I guess, except, my parents didn’t read French, neither did my grandparent back in Italy. Still, I felt proud. It was a good start.
            Life has a way of playing tricks on our carefully planned tomorrows. So I met an American boy, fell in love, married and moved to the United States. I had to learn English. And I did. Didn’t have much time to write with kids, a career, Great Danes and a philandering husband. I managed to survive without writing. Then came the divorce, the kids moved out, the Great Danes went to dogs’ heaven, and I went back to write, in English, of course.
            I paid my dues, learned my craft and won an award, a national award! All right! By then my grandparents were dead, too late to make them proud,  but they always believed in me and that made it okay.
In 2001 my first book was released, a mystery, in English. Love Thy Sister was a late homage to the 3 story house, my Italian heritage, and my newly found American life.
           By then my parents were dead, but somehow I felt they always knew I would be a published writer.
            I wrote more stories, more columns, more blogs, and more books— all in English. But when I dream, I dream in Italian.
            2010 was a very bad year for me, in too many ways to even try to list them. I had to get back to writing, my true passion. That’s when a miracle happened, via Twitter. I swear, even as a writer, I can’t make this stuff up. I received an e-mail from an Italian publisher interested in the Italian rights of Love Thy Sister, my out-of-print mystery. I own all the rights, the paperback is no longer available. Of course I said yes!
The book will be released in Italy, October 2012. I’m saving my pennies to make it there for the launching! The 3 story house my grandfather built was sold after my mother died, but I still have 2 sisters and plenty of nieces and nephews and good friends to celebrate with me! I even have a growing number of Italian followers, how cool is that?
And for my non Italian speaking friends, Love Thy sister was just released as e-book in all the usual places. Okay, I’m not sure how that works, I hired Bookbaby.com to make it happen. Keeping my fingers crossed I may even get to see it in French some day.
Grazie a tutti.      

~ Maria

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Best Laid Plans


The totally chosen at random winner of the $25 gift card is RedPeril! RedPeril, email me at gemmasreadermail at gmail dot com with your mailing address and preference of Amazon, BN or iTunes.  Congrats!

Today I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes (winner’s choice).  Just comment below to be entered to win and check back tomorrow for an announcement of the winner!

I had the best laid plans for following my #1 New Year’s resolution – say no to anything that takes away from writing time.  Big Boy was going back to school on Monday, Baby Boy’s babysitter was all lined up to be there.  I had my new manuscript ready to start, a great idea for an opening scene brewing in my head.  I had my Starbucks gift card all ready to order a venti Pumpkin Spice latte and a slice of iced lemon pound cake (the ultimate creative fuel).  But did Monday morning find me writing?  No.  It most certainly did not.

Why?  Well, let me back up a little…

Last year Big Boy wanted a bike for Christmas.  He’d just learned to ride a two-wheeler and was ready for something bigger, sturdier, and less cartoon character themed.  So, The Man and I (with a little help from Santa) got him this:

He loved it.  Rode all over the neighborhood in it.  Unfortunately, during that riding around the neighborhood, one day he went to a friend’s house across the street, left his bike on the lawn overnight, and in the morning it was gone.  (This was when we lived in the neighborhood where anything that stood still for more than five minutes got stolen.)  He was, of course, upset.  But trooper that he is, he took up skateboarding as a means of transportation instead.     

Fast forward to this past Christmas.  My mom wanted to replace the bike that was stolen last year so that Big Boy could ride his bike to her house after school.  She had it wrapped up at her house, where we were planning to visit Christmas afternoon.  Big Boy opened his presents from Santa on Christmas morning, was thrilled with what he got from us, but then said in a kind of sad voice.  “You know, I still miss my bike from last year.”  Hehe!  It was all I could do to not spill the beans that he was about to get a new one. 

Once we got to my mom’s house, the first thing Big Boy saw was a large, bike-shaped present for him.  He immediately tore into it, then took off on his bike riding around the neighborhood for the rest of the evening.  Yay!

At this point you might be asking what this has to do with me not writing.  Good question. 

On New Year’s Day, Big Boy was out riding his new bike when The Man and I heard a scream.  Then more screaming.  And crying.  And Big Boy calling for Mommy.  (He’s 11.  If he’s calling for “mommy” it must be bad.)  We raced outside and found him at the bottom of the driveway (steep hill) in a crumpled pile tangled in his bike.  He’d fallen and hurt his elbow.  We rushed him inside, iced, checked to see that all the parts were still moving and nothing was swollen.  We debated the emergency room, but considering that everything looked in working order, went the ice route instead.  After a bit, Big Boy said he was feeling better and took off to play video games.

The next day he said his elbow felt a little better. Not great, but better.  Two days later, it was still hurting “some”.  Five days later he said, “You know.  This isn’t getting better very fast.  It still hurts a little when I straighten my arm.”

Uh oh. 

So I packed him into the car and we went to the emergency room to get a “just in case” x-ray.  Four hours later, the verdict came in – he’d been walking around for a week with a broken arm!  I felt horrible.  I told him that I owed him a big ice cream cone – maybe even triple scoop – as they bandaged his arm and put it in a temporary sling.
So, what was my Monday spent doing instead of writing?  Calling our insurance, our pediatrician, the orthopedist, and then the insurance again trying to get him an appointment to get a permanent cast put on his arm.  Then calling the E.R. to get a note from the attending doctor to get Big Boy out of PE class.  Then emailing all of his teachers to say he can’t write or take notes in their classes.  Then doing all his homework for him as he dictated.     

Some day I’ll get back to writing.  I swear it.  In the meantime, I’m just hoping that our bike luck doesn’t get any worse.

~Trigger (but not bike) Happy Halliday 

P.S. If anyone is looking for a good book, my entire Hollywood Headlines series will be available for FREE on Amazon.com this month.
free NOW through Jan 17 – Hollywood Scandals
free Jan 17-Jan 26 – Hollywood Secrets
free Jan 27 – Feb 5 – Hollywood Confessions

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The winter that wasn't? I wish...

BARBARA E is Robin Kaye's blog winner for yesterday. Email your contact information to Robin, Barbara E, so she can get your prize to you.


I'm not a fan of winter. Neither are my knees or joints. I don't ski or participate in snowboarding. I don't like snowball fights or erecting snowmen or snow forts. I managed to fake an enjoyment in winter activities long enough to give my four kids exposure to those timeless winter experiences that are part and parcel of growing up in one of the plains states. But believe me. I've never been one of those "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" devotees.

So after two brutal winters back to back here, it was with a weary sigh that I watched the calendar inch its way into November and December. And I did all those preparatory practices that veteran midwesterners do to prepare for the onset of winter weather.

I bought big bags of salt. I got the snowblower and my 4 Wheel Drive truck serviced and fueled up. I had the shovels and emergency kits at the ready. And as November ended and December began, I braced for the worst.

But something strange happened. Winter didn't arrive on time. In fact, we ended up with record breaking warm temperatures throughout December. Christmas Day was brown and beautiful.

I thought surely our luck would run out before the new year.

I was wrong. More warm temperatures followed. Lovely warm sunny days with dry roads and easy peasy commutes.

Which brings us to the day before yesterday: January 10. And a balmy SIXTY degrees! So, not wanting to gloat or anything, of course, I had my picture taken to commemorate the winter that wasn't.
I washed both of my vehicles and the house's windows. I put a load of towels on the clotheslines. I took a walk.

And...I jinxed us.

Today we're getting 45 mile an hour wind gusts, snow that has turned to ice on the pavements, and frigid temperatures to follow and I'll be slip-sliding to work in the wee hours this morning.

Oh, well. It was great while it lasted. Sometimes I really wish I lived some place where I didn't have to worry about snow, ice, and doing dipsy-doodles on my way to work.

Tell me. Are you a winter person or a summer person? What has your winter been like? If you wanted a white Christmas, did you get it? If you were able to live anywhere you wanted, where would you decide to call home and why?

I'm giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Certificate to one lucky commenter in the US or CAN only who leaves a comment on todays' blog.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life on ice


The other day, I took my daughter ice skating. Now there is nothing remarkable about that unless you consider that she has never been on ice skates and I have not been in the last 10+ years. It may be closer to 15 years since I tried to get on the ice. And when I did it last time, I was not good.

I remember the laughing of my friends, the polite smiles of those who had to skate around me when I wiped out and was laying there, spread-eagled on the ice. I remember those jerky little kids who would skirt around me, effortlessly, as they missed my head by about two inches and sprayed that fine icy snow.

Yes, I remembered.

So I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to stop by the ice rink. We never would have thought of it, except we were out to see the Science Center and it's in the middle of this big park. There are ball fields, archery ranges, tennis courts and, yes, an outdoor rink.

Then again, air was crisp, they had a big fire going outside the rink and it smelled amazing. Steinberg Rink is this 1920's-era building in the middle of this wide, old copse of trees.

We laced up with confidence. We headed out to watch the zamboni as it finished. My daughter was excited and so was I.

Then we stepped onto the ice. Boy, is that stuff slick. We both wiped out almost immediately, right where everyone else was getting on. I had flashbacks of the ice skating trips of my youth. We scrambled up as the little kids did swoopy things around us, leaving us in their ice dust. We made it half-way around, half-clinging to the rail, before my daughter realized. "We're really not good at this. Both of us." She seemed fairly surprised, as I have been in the past, when these type of things don't always work out. I was glad she'd gone in confident, and tried to talk her off the wall.

She was not so keen on that. She'd seen what happened to me most of the time I got too far from the side - wipeout. She asked me if she'd fall and I wanted to lie. But I told her: Yes, if you get off the wall, you will fall. But you don't get off the wall, you won't be able to skate.

She thought about that. And watched me wipe out shortly after. We made it the rest of the way around the rink. She never did get off the wall and that was okay. But on the way home, she had a thought that made the whole trip worth it. She said, "Skating is kind of like everything, right?" I wasn't sure what she'd meant, but said, yes, it was kind of like life. She agreed and said, "Next time, I'm going to get off the wall."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Married Mr. Fix-It

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

And that’s not a bad thing. Okay, some times it’s not great either—I’ve been living in a construction site for most of my marriage, but when it comes to fixing things, my man excels.

We live in a hundred year old Victorian farmhouse in Maryland, and when we bought it, I was in Idaho trying to sell our place. Stephen had already moved to Maryland to start his new job, so when I saw the ad for a Victorian, I had him go look at it.

Stephen called me right back all excited. “It needs some work,” he told me, “but nothing I can’t handle. It’s got great bones, ten-foot ceilings, and a turret with a big witches peak.”

To be fair, I probably stopped listening after the turret and the witches peak part. What romance writer doesn’t want to live in a house with a turret? When he started talking builerspeak I most likely zoned out.

The house had five bedrooms, two baths, and was on over a half-acre right on Main Street—perfect. It was also within our price range, which should have given me pause. But all I could see were the ten-foot ceilings and the turret—that is, until we moved in.

Yeah, mistake number one was letting my husband, a cross between “Tim The Tool Man” Taylor and Bob the Builder, buy a house before I saw it.

I had expected a fixer-upper but what this place needed was a can of gasoline and a match!

Stephen opened the door, and the smell of mold was so bad I immediately started wheezing—probably from the combination of mold and shock. He had told me the house needed a new roof, but what he failed to mention was that the roof on our hundred-year-old Victorian, like everything but the bathrooms, was original. When it rained, it rained in the house—literally. It’s pretty bad when the dog goes to the five-gallon buckets that are placed all over the house to catch the rainwater before he checks his own water bowl.

Thankfully, he cleaned the place up, and installed all new appliances in the week and a half I was in Florida picking up the kids. He even surprised me by buying a whole house water filter. I’d have been happy to have one that sat below the kitchen sink, but no, he got the big one. The water filter had to be connected to the plumbing—mistake number two.

When Stephen installed the water filter with more power, the pipe it was supposed to connect to broke because it was so old. He replaced that pipe only to have the next break also. On and on it went until, in the span of two weeks, we had all-new plumbing. The electrical system was the same way.

Now I know replacing all the plumbing and wiring in the house is a lot of work, but really, the lights worked before, and all the toilets flushed—usually. But all I could see was that I was still living in a house where, when it rained you needed an umbrella inside—and no, I’m not exaggerating.

Over the next nine years, we raised and replaced the roof, replaced the heating system, installed all new windows and siding, moved and built two new bathrooms, and remodeled three of the five bedrooms. But the turret, the one room I’d been dreaming about since day one, was left unfinished.

I don’t know how many times I suggested he tackle it, and every time he had an excuse not to—until the day his mother called. She told him she was giving us a bunch of family heirlooms and that he’d better get the turret finished. He started it the next day. I spent nine years begging for him to work on the turret, and all it took was one phone call from his mother.

I would complain, but really, I can’t. He did the most amazing job. He built a tray ceiling in a decagon that mirrored the windows, added a chandelier with an ornate medallion, and rebuilt and refinished the pocket door. The room is almost done except for the hardwood floors…maybe when I get my next royalty check. But I have to say that it’s almost worth it.

I wonder if I can get his mother to call about the kitchen and the dining room?

I'm giving away a copy of my latest book, Wild Thing and a $25 Amazon or Barnes And Noble Gift Certificate to a lucky commenter in the US or CAN only who answers the following questions... Are you handy or married to Mr. Fix it? Would you rather remodel a house or have one built?

Congratulations! Winners from Jana DeLeon's drawings are:
Alison - $25 gift card
amf, Sarah S., and Angela Bount have all won autographed copies of my next Intrigue.
Please contact me through my website and we'll work out the mailing/etc.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Off To A Slow Start

You ever had one of those days where if you were certain the dog wouldn't pee on the floor, you'd never have gotten out of bed? That's me today. I am a staggering comedy of errors.

It all began with a cold - seems everyone was sick around holiday time and I knew I'd end up with something eventually. I got a cold, which promptly turned into bronchitis as I am prone to all things respiratory. The bronchitis promptly set off my asthma so that breathing became an Olympic event. That means sleeping up right. Which means my back is now on fire. I have a chronic, inoperable back issue and the thing that irritates it worst is - wait for it - typing. Yeah, a writer with a back problem that's aggravated by typing. The thing that irritates it second worst is sleeping upright. So I finally had to take pain killers for the back in order to move and they have upset my stomach (I have an ulcer). I have to take medicine for allergies (to keep the respiratory situation from worsening) and those set off PVCs (an irregular heartbeat).

See, a staggering comedy of errors as the PVCs made me dizzy. So far this morning, I've already ran into two door frames and stubbed my foot on my desk. Then I filled the coffee maker with water and was about to turn it on when I realized there was no coffee in it. The dizziness also gives me a raging headache and as it's raining today, the Sheltie thinks he should bark every couple of minutes to warn me of the thunder.

Oh, and did I mention that I have to work today? Yeah, see my company, in their cheap wisdom, decided to cut our sick time in half, so now it only takes one major thing and it's all gone like the foot surgery I had last year - and yes, that's the foot I stubbed this morning). All I have to say is, they're getting pot luck and that's no one's fault but their own.

Despite the back/cold/breathing problems of the last two weeks, I've been working on my schedule for 2012. This year, I will release four books with Harlequin and at least one straight-to-digital, the first of a new humorous mystery series. All while still working full time. I know, I'm a glutton.

I've also decided that 2012 is the year of organization. We moved in a rush in July and things are just shoved into closets or boxes. I have got to pull everything out, judiciously donate things we don't need, and get everything else labeled and stored.

2012 is also the year of the social butterfly. Yes, I said it. I'm going to work harder staying in touch with you guys. For an introvert that hasn't paid much attention to social media, I'm sorta behind the curve. But I'll get there. I have a year, right? (BTW, when I first wrote this post, I said "behind the curse." Freudian slip, much?) :)

So now, I have homework for you: when you get a chance, please go Like my new Facebook Author Page. I will use that page to announce all coming books and for contests during the year. Here's a link:

Jana DeLeon Author Page

Last but not least, 2012 is the year I get into better shape, health-wise. I know, I said it. But the reality is, I'm not getting any younger, yet I want to work even harder. I have to be in good enough shape to do that. I'm not going to make drastic changes - just small changes along the way until I've created a way of life that is healthy and tolerable.

What about you? Any big plans for the new year? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to in 2011?

Write a post about your 2012 and you'll be entered to win a $25 gift card to bn/amazon - your choice. I am also giving away three copies of my February 2012 Intrigue release - so you can get it early, if you're selected. All posts enter you in the grand prize drawing for the Kindle or Nook.

Good luck!

Deadly - Draggin' - DeLeon

WINNER! Sandy, according to random.org, you're the winner of Amanda Brice's $25 gift card. Please email amandabrice (at) romancedivas (dot) com to claim it.

WINNERS!! Rebekah E. StephanieJS, Virginia, and catslady, according to random.org, you're the winners of Diana Layne's e-books. Please email dianalayne (at) yahoo (dot) com to claim them.