Thursday, August 30, 2012

Laughter With A Side Of Darkness


I am constantly thinking of new fun ways to kill people. It's not that I'm an angry or violent person, but after writing six murder mysteries it's impossible not to at least consider the many possibilities. For instance, in my second book, Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights my protagonist considers killing her cheating brother-in-law by rigging an inflatable sex doll with explosives. Memorable, right? Or how about this...a small percentage of people (including me) have abnormally high levels of magnetism/static electricity in our bodies/skin. What that means is that if I wear a watch for a month or so it will stop, the battery will die and no other battery will ever work in that device again. If I wear an iphone against my skin (with like one of those sport-armband deals) it will also stop working.

So what if someone like me purposely had sex with a rich guy with a pacemaker? Could such a woman even be prosecuted? She would just have to be sure to spend a lot of time snuggling afterwards but it could work! 

Oh, and when I'm hiking I'm always wondering if one could hide body nearby. 

When I read warning labels that instruct me to get immediate medical attention if accidental ingestion occurs I think...what if someone didn't get medical help. How would they die? What would that look like?

And I've found myself in rather dark conversations due to my profession too, particularly when I'm doing research.  Like the time I spoke to a corrections officer and asked him what kind of marks would be left on a man's neck after he tried to hang himself but was cut down before death. He paused and then said, "I'm not sure. All the people I've cut down from self-made nooses have been dead."

It's at moments like that when I realize that although I may sometimes think I've become desensitized I haven't been. I am still innocent enough to be shocked by the idea of having to cut down a dead body from a noose on more than one occasion. 

But for a murder mystery novelist those dark moments are important. Particularly if you write mysteries like mine, books that are encased in pretty covers, with tongue-in-cheek titles and filled with humor.  Because even in those kinds of books you need to remember that you're writing about the end of human life. You're writing about  brutality and every once in a while you need to jerk your protagonist (and your reader) out of the laughter, romance and excitement and remind them of the darkness. The contrast between the light and the dark can be jarring, as it should be. Just a tiny taste of hate and cruelty to remind us why we crave joie de vivre.

It's a reminder that we can laugh about the explosives in the sex doll without guilt. We have not been desensitized. On the contrary, we're so sensitive that when it comes to our entertainment we take our darkness in small dosages...and then we work through it and find our way to the pages that makes us smile again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So, I was interviewed on tv...






I'd been putting this off for a year.  The local PBS station wanted to interview me, in my home, about my writing.  My carpet has needed replacing for a year now.  And I have this weird aversion to cleaning...

I am not saying that my house could appear on hoarders.  I'm just saying that it doesn't look like houses on tv.  I can be interesting and write books, or I can have a spotless house.  I cannot do both.

So anyway, they really, really, really want to do the interview and I acquiesce.  I wonder briefly aloud whether or not we can have the carpet ripped up and replaced with ceramic tile in 48 hours.

My husband's head explodes.

I work over the weekend - getting the living room/dining room ready and blocking off any other rooms.  And I'm nervous.  Now, I've done interviews on tv, radio, etc. for the various nonprofits and causes I support - no sweat.  Those don't give me one moment's pause - I'm totally comfortable with that.

It's just promoting me - that's where the problem begins.  I think it comes from being a woman and told most of your life, "Don't brag dear...it's rude and alarms people."

So, twenty minutes before they arrive, Mr. Assassin traps the cats and basset hound in the basement and puts the guinea pigs in Meg's room with the birds.  The other animals are to be put into my room just before the cameradude arrives.

Five minutes before, the cats are throwing themselves bodily at the basement door and hissing.  The bassett is whining weirdly and the sound travels from the basement like we have a really sad ghost with hemhorioids.

New plan - all dogs go outside and I close the curtains to the sliding glass door.  The cats are liberated - they would probably just hide anyway.

Two minutes before they arrive and I spot several stray eyebrow hairs in the mirror by the door.  I manage to run upstairs and grab the tweezers, plucking to the point I start bleeding.  Great.  Blood is running down my eyes.  I stash the tweezers in the basket where the keys go and mop up the blood with a crumpled up newspaper.

The doorbell rings.  The cameradude comes in and suddenly, my super shy - never around cats come out of nowhere like the children of the corn and start climbing all over him. 

I inform him that he is not allowed to film the carpet.

One and one-half hours later - it's over.  I survived it.  I don't really remember it except for one question they asked, "What was the hardest lesson you had to learn in life, ever."  I think I said, "When I realized I couldn't fly."  Not sure that's what they were looking for, but how can you answer that question?

One bottle of wine (and twelve minutes) later - I feel fine.  In fact, I'll let you know how it goes when it airs, sometime in October.

Maybe by then I'll have forgotten about it.

Maybe...

The Assassin 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!  Here are the winners.  Please send me your snail mail addresses to christie(at)christie(-)craig(.)com  If you have the book I have chosen for you, let me know.  I don't know if I can change it, but I will try.  If you won a shirt, please tell me your size.  Winners have one week to collect prizes!  After September 4th, the prizes will be awarded to someone else!!!



·      Grand PRICE at Rochelle@familyoflooneys
  • MORE THAN HE EXPECTED BY ANDREA LAURENCEAnn Strelow
  • ARC FOR THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS BY MELISSA CUTLERLucy
  • BEDDING LORD NED BY SALLY MACKENZIE Mariehahn13
  • SHADOW PLAY BY ERIN KELLISON  Lieha
  • THE REASON IS YOU BY SHARLA LOVELACE Megan Buringame
  • THE SPY WHO LEFT ME AND DIAMONDS ARE TRULY FOREVER BY GINA ROBINSON Alison
  • FOREVER AND A DAY BY JILL SHALVIS Quilt Lady
  • HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS BY JANE GRAVES  MicheleL
  • HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE BY VICKY DREILING  Chey
  • MOONGLOW BY KRISTEN CALLIHAN Amy R
  • AIN'T MISBEHAVING BY MOLLY CANNON Kristi
  • ARC OF HUNK FOR THE HOLIDAYS BY KATIE LANE Lori Schantner
  • A SIGNED COPY OF THIEF OF SHADOWS BY ELIZABETH HOYT Francyne
  • Born at Midnight and a Shadow Falls Shirt  Trish J
  • Whispers at Moonrise and a Shadow Falls Shirt Kathleen O
·         Any backlist title of Christie Craig and a Shadow Falls Shirt ErinT
·         Any backlist title of Christie Craig and a Shadow Falls Shirt Pamela
Contest!  Contest!  That’s right, it’s another contest, but this one is a doozy.  Today I’m giving away either a Kindle Touch or a Nook Simple Touch—winner’s choice.  But that’s not all. I’m giving away a total of sixteen prizes.  See the list at the bottom of the post, and make sure you leave a comment to be entered.


Sweet Sixteen!  Let’s party.


No, it’s not my birthday.  It’s especially not my sixteenth birthday.  I hopped, skipped, and jumped past that a number of years ago.  It’s not even a birthday celebration.  Sweet Sixteen is in honor of my sixteenth book published.   Yup, Blame it on Texas is my sixteenth release.  I have to tell you, it doesn’t get old--not the excitement of seeing another book wiggle its way into  readers’ hands, and not the creating or crafting of another story, either.  I still feel the passion for writing.  And not just the passionate scenes.  I’m talking about that sensation of success when I complete a good, sigh-inducing scene, or when the dialogue just flows and makes me giggle. 

And I giggled and sighed a lot when writing Tyler and Zoe’s story.  For some crazy reason, these two had instant chemistry.  Now you would think that in a fictional story the chemistry is simply a product of the words a writer puts on paper.  And maybe it is to some degree.

However, it’s never that simple.  Creating chemistry is so complex that it’s hard to explain how it happens.  Sure, you make the hero and heroine aware of each other, and then you make them need something from the other person, but even with all those things in place, sometimes that chemistry explodes and other times it just simmers.  Fictional chemistry is sometimes just as mysterious as the real thing.  Why do two people meeting for the first time instantly find themselves completely attracted to each other?  Especially when their last ten dates left them feeling completely unenthusiastic.

No doubt about it, there’s plenty of enthusiasm in Blame it on Texas, but it’s not just the sizzle that had me up late at night pounding at my keyboard.  The mystery element in this book drove me to write even faster.

Imagine learning you aren’t who you thought you were.  Imagine realizing that you aren’t even sure how old you are.  Imagine discovering that you were kidnapped as a toddler.  That the people who raised you, loved you, and who are now deceased, had lied to you.  Zoe Adams’ entire life feels like a lie. It all begins when she sees a cold case show that flashes a picture of her when she was three years old and then the reporter covers the kidnapping story of a child who belonged to a Texas millionaire family.  Imagine hearing all this when you’ve always had odd memories and nightmares that didn’t make sense. 

The other slightly upsetting thing for Zoe about that show was when the reporter states that the child’s body was found only weeks after her kidnapping.  Zoe’s downright baffled, yet she’s certain of two things: that was her picture, and she’s not dead.

Not that she’s been doing much living since her fiancĂ© ran off with that no-good stripper.  But maybe it’s past time she fixes that.  Packing up the only thing that really matters to her, her disabled cat, she hightails it to Texas to find answers.  And this is where things really start to get interesting. Her search lands her in the lap of -- or more precisely, under the desk of -- one sexy private investigator, Tyler Lopez.  And yup, that’s when all that chemistry starts.

Of course, when she tells him she thinks she's the kidnapped heiress -- whose family just so happens to be one of his richest clients -- Tyler's pretty sure this gorgeous redhead is a few eggs short of a grand slam breakfast.
 
But when someone starts using Zoe as target practice, Tyler starts to question if Zoe’s insane story isn’t sane after all.  Funny thing is, even as the bullets are flying, and even when one of them hit their mark, that chemistry still doesn’t let up.  Here’s an excerpt:

 He inched closer to her lips. 
She wasn’t a hundred percent positive, but the moment felt like that part in the movies when romantic music started playing and someone was about to get kissed.
Something told her that giving in to that temptation wouldn’t be a good idea.
She jumped up. Fast. Toppled over the chair in the process, too. It hit the frayed carpet with a thud.
Unsure what to say, she reached down to her knee and faked a moan. “Leg cramp.”
Doubt filled his eyes. Faking had never been her strong point.
She heard an odd kind of crack and then a strange clunk. The crack came again, only this time it was followed by some peculiar pings.
“Shit! Get down!” Tyler yelled.
He bolted from the chair and charged right at her. She landed, flat on her back, so hard that the impact knocked the wind out of her lungs. And when he landed on top of her, what little air she had left spilled out her lips in a rush.
She tried to push him off.
“Stop! Someone is shooting at you!” he growled.
Another crack sounded, followed by more crunch-like noises. His words hadn’t completely sunk in when Zoe saw a puff of dusty white Sheetrock rain down from the wall, leaving a round hole in the drywall.
Sheer panic prevented her from moving. Someone was shooting at her. A scream lodged in her throat.
She managed to suck air into her lungs. “Shit!” The one word eked out.
“I already said that.” He looked back at the table. “I’m going for my gun. Stay down.”
“No!” She flung her arms around him, pulled his chest flush against hers, and even locked one leg around his waist. “I don’t like that idea. Come up with another one.”
He frowned. “You’re safe if you stay down.”
“But what about you?” She flung her other leg around his waist, tightening her thighs around him.
He stared into her eyes. “Careful or I’m gonna think you like this position.”
She scowled at him. “Seriously? You can think about sex right now?”
“I guess I like the position, too.” He bounced off her and ran for the gun, just as more cracking noises filled the air.
* * *
Tyler heard the shots and got two steps away from his gun when something hit. Not a damn bullet but a five-foot-five redhead. Some part of her made a direct hit on the back of his knee, and he fell. On his way down, he turned and grabbed her to get her away from the window. When he hit the floor, she came down on top of him. Hard.
“I told you to stay down!” he growled.
She raised her head. “And I told you I didn’t like that idea!” Her voice quavered, and she had tears in her eyes.
It was the tears that took the edge off his anger. Growing up with sisters, he should be immune to feminine tears, but something about hers cut right to his emotional quick.
“I need to get my gun,” he said.
“No,” she snapped. “Because then you’re gonna want to look out the window—and in the movies, that’s when someone always gets shot.”
“I’m not going to get shot,” he said calmly.  He could feel her shaking, but she tightened her grip on him. As much as he wished he could patiently talk her down from the panic ledge, he didn’t have time. So he’d have to try another tactic to get her to release him.
“I like this position, too.” His words encouraged her to loosen her hold on him. But when he considered she might get up, he came up with Plan B. He rolled her over, closer to the table, and, while pinning her to the floor, he reached for his gun. Once he had it in his hands, he felt better.
Brushing a thick curtain of dark red hair from her eyes, he looked at her. “Now, stay down. You understand?”
She nodded. But when he went to move, she tightened her arms around him again. “Zoe, let go or I swear to God I’m going to kiss you.” He wasn’t exactly sure how he knew it would work, but the fact that she’d jumped halfway across the room and faked a leg cramp when he’d gotten close to her face probably clued him in.
She let go. He crawled over to the window and peered out. The screech of a car speeding off sounded nearby.
“Damn,” he muttered. By the time he got out front, they’d be gone. His best hope was that someone had seen the car.
On automatic, forgetting he’d taken off his shoulder holster, he tried to put away his gun. That’s when he saw the blood.
Blood?
He did a quick mental search for pain in his body and found none. He even pulled up his T-shirt to make sure. Nothing. It wasn’t his blood. He remembered her shaking earlier.  “Shit.”
He turned to a bleeding and shot Zoe.
 
Now that I’ve shared with you my accomplishment of hitting sweet sixteen, tell me one of your accomplishments.  I don’t care if it’s that you managed not to burn your frozen dinner, that you graduated college, or that you finally cleaned out your closet—which is huge, because my closet is in bad shape. What I’m saying is that small successes count, too.  Face it, we need to give ourselves a few pats on the back sometimes.  And hey…you might just be one of my sixteen winners.

Prizes:  (Due to mailing cost only USA residents may apply please) 
  • A Kindle Touch or a Nook Simple Touch
  • A copy of Born at Midnight—the first novel in the Shadow Falls Series—and a Shadow Falls T-shirt
  • An ARC of Whispers at Moonrise—the forth novel in the Shadow Falls Series—and a Shadow Falls T-shirt


And. . .  some awesome books donated by BookEnds Inc. and Grand Central Publishing. (Thank you, guys!)



  • MORE THAN HE EXPECTED BY ANDREA LAURENCE
  • ARC FOR THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS BY MELISSA CUTLER
  • BEDDING LORD NED BY SALLY MACKENZIE
  • SHADOW PLAY BY ERIN KELLISON
  • THE REASON IS YOU BY SHARLA LOVELACE
  • THE SPY WHO LEFT ME AND DIAMONDS ARE TRULY FOREVER BY GINA ROBINSON
  • FOREVER AND A DAY BY JILL SHALVIS
  • HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS BY JANE GRAVES
  • HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE BY VICKY DREILING
  • MOONGLOW BY KRISTEN CALLIHAN
  • AIN'T MISBEHAVING BY MOLLY CANNON
  • ARC OF HUNK FOR THE HOLIDAYS BY KATIE LANE
  • A SIGNED COPY OF THIEF OF SHADOWS BY ELIZABETH HOYT 

Monday, August 27, 2012

REST IN PEACE, PHYLLIS! by Diane Kelly



I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Phyllis Diller, one of America’s iconic funny ladies.  But, heck, she lived to be 95!  That’s a lot of laughs!

I was always drawn to funny women as a girl, and Phyllis Diller is one of the funny women I remember from my childhood. I loved Erma Bombeck’s weekly column in the newspaper.  I loved Lucille Ball in her various shows.  I loved watching Ruth Buzzi, Jo Anne Worley, and Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In.  Lily Tomlin sitting in the oversized rocking chair as Edith Ann was a hoot and a half. The hilarious sketches and unusual costumes on the Carol Burnett Show are the stuff of legend.

Looking back is bittersweet, but it also makes me wonder, what was it about these women that I admired then and continue to admire today?

Most of all, I think I admired these women because they were brave.  While many Hollywood starlets are admired for their beauty and grace, these women dared to be different.  It’s not that these women weren’t physically attractive, because many of them were, but they dared to defy the rules of decorum and weren’t constrained by some outdated notion of how women were supposed to behave.

These women offered their fans some levity, a much-needed break from the drudgery of everyday life.  They didn’t mind acting goofy if it would bring a smile to someone’s face.   Their shows gave us all something to look forward to, a time to set aside our troubles even if only for half an hour or so.

I admired their creativity, too.  They could take a mundane topic or an ordinary event and show the humor in it.  That’s not always easy to do.

These women showed us how to cope, taught us not to take life too seriously.  It’s only life, after all.

Rest in peace, Phyllis.

Do you have any special memories of funny women from television or movies?  What do you admire about these types of women?  What did you learn from them?