Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Community of Big-Hearted Scribes

No. This isn't heaven. Or Iowa. It's the Killer Fiction Writers' blog. And the picture to the right features five-sixths of our criminally creative cast of characters. From left to right are Deadly DeLeon, Bullet Hole Bacus, Trigger Happy Halliday, Leslie 'The Assassin' Langtry, Farrah Rochon (fellow Dorchester author), and Crime Scene Christie (pretty in pink). The picture was taken this past July in Dallas, Texas, during the Romance Writers of America annual National Conference. It was the first opportunity most of us had to meet in person--although we'd communicated on-line and our joint website/blog was born out of that auspicious--and hilarious--meeting.
The story relating to fellow author Dawn Thompson's medical emergency and the ensuing medical bills Gemma posted about yesterday--and the outpouring of assistance--got me thinking about how really unique the writing community is--and how amazingly big-hearted. Yet, it doesn't surprise me that authors, agents, booksellers, and agents are coming together to help an author out in her time of need. It's what I've come to expect from a guild of professional writers who in a very real sense educate and mentor their own competition. Think about it for a second. Can you imagine an athlete in a professional sport telling a walk-on, "Hey, rookie, I'll teach you everything I know so you can compete against me for that spot on the starting roster." Or a lawyer telling opposing counsel, "See, this is how I would try this case if I were you?" Or a famous chef giving away the secrets to his award-winning souffle? Or a Cover Girl model giving beauty and diet tips to America's next top model?

Yet writers do that every day. From giving workshops, writing how-to articles, providing recommendations to agents and editors, to critiquing and judging contests, writers and authors give of themselves until it hurts. Maybe literally.

It's an amazing dichotomy. And typical of the comraderie that exists in the writing realm which operates under the credo that there will always be room for great stories.

So today I'd like to salute my fellow authors and writers who so selflessly give of themselves to others--only to find their proteges grab a coveted slot from under their nose--and ask that you take advantage of the terrific opportunities Gemma mentioned. Pass the word along to fellow writers, as well, so they can take advantage of the splendid opportunities for critiques from publishing professionals. You'll be helping a terrific author at the same time.

So long for this time,

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Help a Fantastic Author get Back on her Feet!

A friend and fellow Dorchester author, Dawn Thompson, has had a bad fall. With some work, she’ll okay, but she’s in the hospital right now and facing huge medical bills. One of the downsides of being an author is the lack of medical insurance, so when something like this happens, it's especially difficult. Some fantastic Dorchester authors have banded together to raise funds to help her get back on her feet.

The first fundraiser is a GREAT one. Bookisle is donating 5% of all their books sales made with the special TREATS FOR DAWN order form between Oct 30 and Nov 6th. Bookisle has fantastic prices on romances and mysteries, so if you’ve been looking for a good book, this is a great opportunity. Just don’t forget to use their special order form! (Located on their homepage)

SHARE THE NEWS and make your order count for even more!
give 6% Donation?
give 7% Donation?
give 8% Donation?
give 9% Donation
give 10% Donation?

2212 Division Street [Bus Hwy 51]
Stevens Point, WI 54481
715-341-8817 Open: 10 to 6 M-F ~ Sat. 10-3
eFAX: 425-952-1337

The second fundraiser is Deborah MacGillivray’s Editor Auction. If you’re a writer – this one is a must!

Tired of submitting to slush piles and getting rejected before
the editors even see it?

Want a chance to get your book before a print editor???
Want a guaranteed that the editor actually reads it?
You don't ever get that request for a FULL manuscript??

Well here is your chance!!

Win a chance to have your completed or nearly completed
manuscript read and receive a one page critique from

Hilary Sares
Kensington editor
(Debut, Brava, Approdisia lines)

FIFTEEN people will win this amazing opportunity.

Yes, 15 people will have their full or nearly completed
manuscripts read and will receive a one page
critique from editor Hilary Sares.

How do you win this amazing chance??

RAFFLE -- $100 per entry.
Enter as many times as you want.
(all money is going to a worthy cause)

~~~~~~~~~ Rules: ~~~~~~~~~

You may enter as many times as you want at $100 a "ticket".
The more times you enter, the better your chances are.

Winners will be randomly selected from a drawing of names.
December 21st, 2007

~~~~~~~~ What do you get? ~~~~~~~~

15 people with completed or nearly completed manuscripts (any genre!) will have their manuscript read by Hilary Sares
(Impress her and she could even want to buy you if you are what she's looking for!)
All 15 will get a one page critique of their manuscript.

But that is not all....

RUNNERS up will get....

2nd place Runners up.... (16 and 17 winners)

Chris Keeslar
Senior Editor, Dorchester Publishing
(Leisure Books and Love Spell)
~~ will read and critique 100 pages ~~
you get to put a proposal of 100 pages before
Dorchester's editor, and receive 1 page critique.
Again, he will consider buying if you impress him!
(Historical Romances, Magna, Contemporary, Paranormal)

Leah Hultenschmidt
Editor for Dorchester Publishing
(Leisure Books and Love Spell)

~~ will read and critique a 100 pages ~!
you get to put a proposal of 100 pages before Dorchester's editor,
and receive 1 page critique.
Again, she will consider buying if you impress her!
(Historical Romances, Contemporary, Paranormal)

3rd place Runners up (18, 19, 20 and 21 winners)

Leanne Burroughs
Publisher/Editor of Highland Press, will read and
critique 4 full manuscripts -the publisher/owner of
Highland Press
will read and giveeach a 1 page critique.
Again, she will consider buying.

(Historical Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary,
Mainstreams YA, Childrens)Trade size PRINT Books


The raffle runs through midnight EST December 15, 2007

The random drawing will be held on:
December 21, 2007

so 21 people will have a very Merry Christmas!!!
winners will be notified by phone and email on that day.

All drawings will be final. No Refunds

Any questions about the contest
Deborah Macgillivray
Kensington, Dorchester, & Highland Press author

To enter


email address (working email addy for you will be billed $100 through Paypal):
Penname, if any:

Your full address:

Your Phone number:

The Title of your manuscript:

The genre of your manuscript:

Is your manuscript completed? YES NO

If no - expected completion date

Once your email application is received
you will be sent a "ticket" bill through
Paypal at $100.00 for each entry.
You pay enter has many times as you want to increase your odds.

You will be helping a fellow writer get back on her feet
after trauma, and you finally get that GUARATEED
chance to be read by some top print editors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Memories

Okay…it’s that time of year—ghost and goblins, Frankenstein, floozies and toilet paper. Oh, the Halloween memories.

My parents didn’t have a lot of money, so our costumes were mostly homemade. And by that I mean, fifteen minutes before we left with our pillowcases in hand to collect our candy, Mom would get creative. I remember once being a mummy. The toilet paper fell off after the first few houses, but no problem, my mom brought a couple of extra rolls and every few houses, she would roll me up again. That worked until it started raining.

One year, I was an angel, wings and halo made out of aluminum foil and a coat hanger. No surprise that I lost my halo pretty quickly.

Then there was the year mom was obviously low on creative juices, because she teased my hair, and slapped some makeup on my face and announced I was ready.

“What am I?” I asked her.

I remember her hesitating before answering. “A floozy.”

I didn’t even know what a floozy was, but I was proud of being one and to my six-year-old mind, I looked like an adult . . . just like mom. So that’s what I told everyone that night. “I’m a floozy just like my mom.”

Amazingly, the next year, I got one of those costumes from the store.

Mom and sometimes dad would follow us in their car as we knocked on the door of every house in the neighborhood. When we got home, we always had to empty our stash on the table for dad to inspect it for poison or razor blades. I was always impressed with his talent. He’d study it carefully and pick the suspicious pieces out. Funny thing, it was always his favorite type of candy that looked suspicious.

I quickly outgrew trick-or-treating, or I should say, I traded it in for rolling yards. I know some of you are going to argue that it’s called T-P’ing or toilet papering yards, but in Alabama, we “rolled” yards. We rolled cars. If someone stood still long enough we’d roll them too—making them instant mommies.

As I’m writing this, I suddenly got curious. Where did this tradition come from? (Probably the toilet paper industry, right?) So I did a far-reaching research on it. Yeah, I googled it.

Much to my dismay, no one really knows who was the first person to come up with the brilliant idea of tossing toilet paper up in trees. Tis’ a sad fact that some history has been lost to us. Then again, you’ve gotta admit, that had to be one weird dude.

Anyway, while I came up dry on the tradition of rolling yards, I did find some interesting trivia on toilet paper. Hey, you never know when you might need this info.

The first person ever to use toilet paper was the Emperor of China in 1391. Definitely a man born before his time. In 1857, Joseph C. Gayetty produced America's first packaged toilet paper. I personally think he deserves to have his face on a coin. In 1890, Scott introduces toilet paper on a roll, which in my mind is just one step up from the invention of the wheel. And in 1942 . . . all hail two-ply! But it wasn’t until 1955 that toilet paper was PC enough to run an ad on television.

Can you believe that? Especially when now you can’t watch TV without hearing about yeast infections, penile dysfunction, and who doesn’t know what do if an erection lasts longer than four hours?

Ahh, things have changed. Even Halloween. Sure, I bought some candy, and I’ll have it waiting by the door, I might even dress up as a floozy, but chances are I’ll only get one or two lone trick or treaters.

Anyway, do you have any Halloween stories to share? Does anyone know where the tradition of rolling yards came from? Or what was your favorite costume? The contest is still up and running. Post a comment and maybe you’ll be the lucky winner.

Happy Halloween!
Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Need An Oil Change - I'm Your Girl

I promised another story this week about my somewhat masculine affinity for engines and working with power tools. The reality is, I have a pretty darned good set of power tools and can do some decent work with wood. I'm not a fan of sheetrock and wouldn't want to tape and bed an entire room, but in a pinch, I can do a patch that you probably wouldn't notice unless you're looking for it. But where I've really used my skills is with engines.

You see, my husband and I met at a motorcycle shop (he sold me my gear and told me he came with it - turns out he was right). We raced motocross for a lot of years, then shifted to competition watercraft, shifter karts and crotch rockets. All the while we did our own wrenching and I have to say, I'm not half bad. In fact, one evening I picked up my husband's new after market pipe for his crotch rocket and did the install myself because he had to work late and wanted to ride the motorcycle (with new pipe) to work the next day. My husband was thrilled and he got huge kudos from the other guys at his job (he works in the auto industry) for marrying such a handy woman.

But the story I want to tell is one from the beginning of our relationship and it points out how two people raised in the same household, who have the same parents, can be totally different. So here we go:

I had been dating my husband, Rene, for a month of so when I was getting ready to make a trip back home to Louisiana to visit my parents (we live in Dallas). So I was packing to leave the next day after work when I realized that I had meant to change the oil in my truck before I left. So the following conversation ensued:

Me: Darn it, I meant to change the oil in my truck before my trip home.

Rene: I'm off work tomorrow - I can do it. Who does your oil change?

Me: Me.

Rene: (looking at me suspiciously) Well, I'm not going to do it personally, but I can definitely have it done.

Me: Okay, but you HAVE to get the OEM filter from the dealership and you HAVE to use Mobil 1 synthetic.

Rene: (now looking impressed) Okay, no problem.

Now this might seem strange to some, but my dad is a petroleum engineer. I got my first motorcycle when I was five and have been lectured on the value of synthetic oils since I was a kid. I listened - I learned - I gave my vehicles (and other extreme sports equipment) no less than the absolute best. Not so my brother.

Flash forward four or five years later and Rene is at my brother's house and my brother is preparing to sell his truck. It's one of those small-sized ones and he's literally almost run it to death. Standing in front of the truck, the following conversation ensues:

My brother: It was a pretty good truck. I got 120,ooo miles out of it and only changed the oil three times.

Rene: Really? How many miles do you think you would have gotten out of it if you'd changed it four times?

So Rene comes home, walks straight in the house and says "you and your brother cannot possibly have the same father."

We still laugh about it today. So what about you? Any siblings? If so, are you different is some of the oddest ways?

In celebration of release week - yep, that's right, UNLUCKY officially releases tomorrow - I am giving away a signed copy of the book in addition to the gift basket drawing that will happen tomorrow! Just post on the blog any time today and you'll be entered to win. Happy Halloween!

- Deadly (with a wrench) DeLeon

I Have a Plot!

It would seem so obvious, wouldn’t it? That if you are going to write a novel, you should have a plot?

That’s how it is supposed to work. But for me? That is too much like right. So in the past each time I’ve sat down to write a novel, it started with a scene or a character or a quirky gimmick to which I attached myself. I start writing and 90K words later I’m no closer to a cohesive plot or the end than I was when I finished that first scene. And I don’t know how to finish them so I try to forget about them by moving on to my next disaster. I have three mostly completed manuscripts that are disasters like that.

So this time I decided that I should try to write a novel like a grown up. I’ve actually sat down and sketched out a plot. As is a good idea in this sub-genre, I know who get whacked and why and who does the whacking. As other writers have used I made a poster board to hang over my workspace. It’s a crafty thing that displays bits and pieces of my story as I envision it and I’ll hang it over my workspace this month for inspiration.

I’m not married to every tiny detail, there is plenty of room for me to breathe and breed but I feel much more confident about actually finishing this one.

Anyone feel like sharing their plotting strategy?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Playing Hooky

As you read this I’m in L.A. at the Screenwriting Expo pitching a screenplay to big shot Hollywood producers. (Cross your fingers for me!!) I wrote it based off one of my unsold novels that actually won the RWA Golden Heart award in 2005. Shortly afterward I sold Spying In High Heels, and this book kind of fell to the wayside. So, I thought it would be fun to resurrect it for the big screen. It’s about four best friends living in Las Vegas, dealing with love, loss and lust in their forties. Sound fun? Here’s hoping a fabulous producer thinks so!

Since I’m away playing hooky today, I figured I might as well go all the way and post something completely not written by me at all. (I know, I’m so bad.) It’s my favorite poem, written by my great-great grandfather, William Halliday. He was a turn of the century Scottish immigrant, an artist and a true romantic. Oh, and he loved his Scotch. ;) Let me know what you think. And, if you feel so inspired, post some snippets of your favorite poems or humorous rhymes, too.

Liquor Lengthens Life

The Horse and Mule live thirty years,
And know nothing of wines and beers.
The Goat and Sheep at twenty die
And never taste of Scotch or Rye.

The Cows drink water by the Ton,
And at eighteen are mostly done.
The Dog at fifteen cashes in,
Without the aid of Rum or Gin.

The Cat in Milk and Water soaks,
And then at twelve short years it croaks.
The modest, sober bone dry Hen
Lays eggs for Men then dies at ten.

All Animals are strictly dry.
They sinless live and swiftly die.
But sinful, Ginful, Rum Soaked Men
They live for three score years and Ten.

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wanted: Handy Man/House Husband: Must Love Books

I’m not quite sure when it first appeared in my subconscious. Maybe it started to appear about the same time I was trying to teach the triplets how to drive. Bullet Hole’s Curb-Climbing School of Driving. As I found myself grabbing the steering wheel, jamming my foot against the floorboards searching in vain for a non-existent brake and extracting my fingernails from the dashboard in triplicate, the first glimmers of ‘I sure could use a man around the house’ sentiments began. I shrugged it off. Well, as best I could wearing a cervical collar. This, too, shall pass, I told myself. And I moved on.

Then it came time to buy cars for those licensed drivers and it happened again. I found my head beneath the hood of a 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis looking at the engine components with no clue what I should be looking for. Or at. If there isn’t a puddle of oil or some neon green liquid beneath the car that wasn’t there when I parked it, I’m pretty much good to go. “It’s only got 53,000 miles on it,” the salesperson told me. “It belonged to the great-aunt of the owner of the lot and she hasn’t driven it in years.” Later, after I bought the car, I was to discover why. As I wrote out a check for valve cover gaskets, new brakes, a water pump, and a new oil pan, I had to wonder if I’d have been ripped off if I’d had a male with me. Car dealers so like to screw with women. Well, you know what I mean.

Maybe it would be nice to have a man around the house.

Then, the floods of 2007 hit and I was up to my knees in cold water, going through my basement in hip waders and the thought occurred to me again--among a lot of other not-so-nice thoughts. I sure could use a man around this house. I sucked it up--both the water and my nerve--and reminded myself I was too set in my ways after all these years to consider bringing a man into the mix at this late date. With an independent streak so wide they can see it from the space shuttle, the idea of being accountable to someone other than the Big Guy upstairs didn’t sit well.

At the time of my divorce many years ago now, I promised myself I’d devote my time and energy to raising my four kids and focus on their needs. And frankly, after my first ride on the marriage mobile, the last thing I wanted was another go round. I was still reeling from the last one. Plus there was the ratio of parent to child thing to consider. There just wasn’t enough ‘me’ to go around as it was. And that fact that the only guy who would take on a divorced mother and four children would probably turn out to be a pedophile I’d have to hurt real bad also factored into my decision to go it solo.

Still a series of elements had me reconsidering. Like the leaves that are hanging out of the gutters taunting me day in, day out. And the dead tree in the back yard that I know someone who is competent with a chain saw (so not me) could make short order of. And the dining room that needs new laminate. Or the kitchen that needs new everything. Or the lawn mower that refuses to start.

Hmm. Maybe I could use a man around here.

I thought about it long and hard. (Uh, that’s not meant to be a lewd reference, folks.) I thought about being able to come home from work and wash my face and get into grubbies and not have to deal with issues like, “Does this make me look fat?” Or, alternatively, “horribly unattractive?” And the fact that I can get by with just general maintenance when it comes to ‘body work’ rather than keeping the old chassis spit-shined and polished all the time. And the reality of all that ‘me’ time I’ll have when the kids leave the nest next fall.

Then I consulted a friend. “If something happened to your dear husband, you’d get married again, wouldn’t you?” I asked. She reached out and felt my forehead.

“Wouldn’t you?” I pressed.

She slapped me upside the head to make her point.

Message received.

Yesterday as I left to walk to work and I noticed a long, green trail of radiator coolant running down the driveway from my daughter’s car and into the road.

Hmm. Know any handy man types? Just in case I change my mind...

And remember. He must love books!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

One thing about kids no one told me – they can really make you feel old. Our Girl Scout troop participated in the Halloween Parade Sunday. The theme was 50th Anniversary – a very sad and pathetic theme by the way. So, we did a float featuring uniforms from the last fifty years of Scouting. The girls decided they would dress from the different decades – the 1950’s to the present.

My own daughter also dressed as a hippie (representing the 1% of the population in the ‘60s who actually were hippies). Anyway, we stopped at McDonald’s on the way to the parade to get something to eat. In the bathroom, my nine-year old daughter decided to be authentic and act like she was from the 1960’s. In an exaggerated and dramatic way, she asked, “What does this magical invention do?”

Me: “It’s a sink.”

Drama Queen Daughter: “A sink? Amazing! And you get water just from turning those things?

Me: “We had sinks in the 1960’s.”

DQD: “You did? Seriously?”

Me: “Yes. We also had tv, electricity, toasters and flush toilets.”

DQD feigning shock: “No way! Totally Groovy Dude.”

Me: “You’re mixing your slang. Totally is from the ‘80s. Dude is from the 90’s.”

DQD exuberantly: “That rocks!”

Me: “Stop doing that. You’re embarrassing yourself.”

DQD (valley-girl style): “Whatever, Superfreak.”

We met the rest of the girls at the parking lot. I was dressed from the ‘80s, as were three other girls in my troop.

Them: “Why aren’t you wearing a costume?”

Me: “I am. My IZOD polo collar is standing up, the jean jacket is my husband’s from 1983. I have tons of little pins from the ‘80s and I have huge, enormous hair. I’m even wearing my class ring from 1984.”

Them: “No. We’re dressed from the ‘80s. You just look normal.”

Me: “I’m actually wearing clothes and hair from the ‘80s. You’re just dressed like caricatures.”

Them: (All dressed in loud, bright colors and oversized t-shirts, all with leg-warmers and one side ponytail): “No, we’re dressed exactly like you did then.”

Me: “Actually, I dressed just like this back then. And no one dressed like you unless they were in a WHAM video.”

Them (rolling their robin-egg blue eyeshadowed lids as they walked away): “How can someone who lived in the ‘80’s NOT know how they dressed back then?”

“I know! She looks just like she did at our last meeting.”

“Who’s Wham?”

Okay, so maybe the clothes I wore then are similar to what I wear now. I’m not giving up hope that someone saw me and thought I was a walking advertisement for the Preppy Handbook.

Gag me with a spoon,
The Assassin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mammograms, Boobs & Stitches

Warning if you are male, scroll up to the top and hit the X. Get out while you can. This blog contains extreme female-oriented subjects that will be more than you ever cared to know.)

When I sat down to decide what I wanted to blog about, the first thing that came into my mind was that I should tell you that I got my stitches out. (Talk about embarrassing. The last thing you want to hear when a doctor is trying to take stitches out of your boob is, “Can you hold that thing to one side so I cut the stitches out?”) Then I realized that if I tell you about getting the stitches out, I’d have to explain how I got the stitches in. And as they say in the south, it ain’t purty. But I've warned you in my earlier blogs, I seldom spare you the details. Oh, no, the gory truth is always much more interesting and generally funnier than hell.

It all started when I went in for my annual mammogram a few weeks ago. You know, go in, have a stranger tape some BBs on your nipples and allow a said stranger to smash your boobs between two clear pieces of plastic. Well, that’s how this all started.

I’m there, naked from the waist up, the technician has just taped on my BBs. (These are to mark where everything ends on the x-ray.) I look down and see that the tape now comes in a pink flowery pattern. I start to ask if I can have a pair to take home to model for my husband, but the woman doesn’t seem the type to take a joke.

Of course, that has never stopped me before, and it didn’t then either. (By the way, she was very sorry, but they won’t let you take home an extra pair, but if you want, you can keep the pair that they have just placed on your nipples. She actually thought I was serious. Scary, huh?)

Anyway, said stranger starts arranging my boobs, one at a time, on a machine. I haven’t been felt up that thoroughly since…well since the elephant at the zoo. Anyway, she lowers the top piece of plastic and sandwiches my boob. (Have you ever looked down at your boob during a mammogram? If not, take my advice, don’t!) As she walks away to turn on the x-ray machine, my brain starts playing the “what if” game. What if the power goes off? Would I be stuck here in the dark? Brings a whole new meaning to booby-trap, doesn’t it?

Anyway, she takes the pictures and goes to check and see if they are clear. You wait, BBs still on--remember they’re not going to give you another pair--to see if they need to re-smoosh and re-shoot you. You stand there, pace, and pray, that when she comes back in the room that she doesn’t have a horrified look on her face that tells you that your world is about to be shaken.

Well . . . my world was shaken.

I’ve seen too many of my friends go though breast cancer, and thank God I haven’t lost one friend, so at that moment I don’t imagine myself dying. It’s the whole being bald thing, and not feeling good enough to write, and missing deadlines that shakes my world.

Of course, I start making lemonade out of lemons, aka, trying to look on the bright side of what was surely one of the darkest moments of my life. I tell myself that if it’s cancer, I can write an article about my writing humorous books, Laughing My Way through Cancer, and publish it at a lot of magazines. Oh, and if I am bald during my autographing, think how many sympathy buys I’ll get. And since I already wear hats, I won’t have to run out and get any.

Three days later, still working on that lemonade, I find myself, flat on my back, naked from the waist up in a surgeon’s office, and someone else is once again feeling me up. The doctor looks down at me and says, “What have eaten today?”

Now, let me tell you, there’s a lot of things you expect a man to say when he has his hand on your boob, but that’s not one of them. To make a long story short, instead of going home, I went straight to the hospital.

I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t scared waiting in the pre-surgery room. I was scared shitless. But I was so thrilled to get it over with, to get the answer…cancer or not cancer, going bald or not going bald, that I felt this strange kind of calm.

Then this nurse comes in and hands me a pen. “Which boob?” she asked.

I tell her and she says I need to put a big X on it and then sign it. Now let me tell you, I’ve been practicing my autograph for book signings, but this took the cake.

When they wheeled me into the operating room, it hit me that I’d had several other operations, but I’d never actually remembered being in an operating room. Hey, it’s scary in there. Sort of like a movie about being adducted by aliens. Big lights overhead. Scary looking instruments set out beside you. And then people, all wearing masks, start connecting all these things to your body—on your legs, your finger, on your chest.

I looked up at the nurse and asked, “Will I remember this?” And yeah, even a little scared, I’m thinking “wow,” I can use this in a book some day.

She looked at me and said, “You do seem awfully alert.”

Right then my anesthesiologist leans over and says, “I didn’t give you any thing to relax.”

“Why not?” I ask.

He shrugged. “You seemed so calm.”

“Oh, that’s because they had me gagged and in that tight white jacket,” I tell him.

Unlike the X-ray tech, who didn’t like my BB joke, this guy laughed. And hey, anytime I meet anyone whom I think likes humor, I ask the all-important question. “Do you read? You know, I have a funny book coming out on November 27th.”

Then he tells me that he’s putting something into my IV to put me to sleep. I feel it go in my wrist, a little sting and a lot cold, it runs up my arm, and I swear I feel it enter my brain and spider into every blood vessel. It got almost to my forehead and I’m thinking I might see God, and he’ll give me some bit of wisdom, on losing weight in ten days, or maybe just my next plot for my new book. But nope, the lights go out and that’s all I remember.

When I woke up in recovery, I did what I think all women do after going through this surgery. I felt to see if I still had my boob. It was there, autographed and everything, hurt like someone had stabbed it with a knife—probably because someone had.

A few minutes later, I was told my results. I’m not going to go bald. The mass in my left breast was benign. Thank God.

But did you know that October is Breasts Cancer Awareness month? My mother had breast cancer, early detection saved her life. My two friends whom have dealt with breasts cancer, were also saved as a result of early detection.

Having a mammogram ain’t purty, neither is having surgery, or losing your hair. But it beats the hell out of dying. If you are 35 or older, and maybe younger if Breast Cancer runs in your family, do yourself, and your family, a favor--go in and get your own set of BBs

Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not Your Basic Girl

I'm definitely not your basic girl. Sure, I have three stage foiled hair and acrylic nails (currently painted bright glittery pink), and I just bought a new pink phone and I definitely have more shoes than I probably need (not that shoes should EVER have anything to do with need), but when it comes right down to it, I'm just not your basic girl. Why, you ask? Well, we could start with I'm an incurable tomboy. I was (and still am) a tough girl. As a kid, I played with boys on their level (and scared a lot of them). I was never interested in cooking or cleaning or sewing, and Lord knows that hasn't changed.

So this week and next, I thought I'd share with you some snippets of non-basic girl behavoir that you might find amusing. The first involves cooking.

I was a teenage (maybe 16 or 17) when I came into the house one night and found my parents having a "discussion." Apparently the crux of the discussion is that my dad felt my mom should teach me how to cook. My mom was of the opinion that if I wanted to learn, I'd ask. My dad felt I needed to know whether I wanted to or not, so my mom asked if the same rules applied to my younger brother when he was my age.

I figured I'd fix the situation by voicing my opinion, so the ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: I don't want to learn how to cook.

Dad: Don't you think you're going to want to eat after you leave home?

Me (slightly confused): Yeah, but I thought that's why I was going to college - so I could eat out.

At that point, Dad gave up. And I want everyone to know that I am 40 years old and still don't cook. I have lived up to my words. I CAN cook, if I have a recipe and the desire. In fact, I'm not a bad cook at all so I guess all those years of living with or around great cooks let something seep in. But it's still not something I enjoy or something I have any desire to spend a lot of time at on even a semi-regular basis.

As for the other domestic chores, well, we pay someone to clean our house and don't feel guilty about it at all. C'mon, I DO have two full-time jobs. Do you think readers want me to personally scrub my toilet or to write another book? And I definitely don't sew. I recently bought one of those cool television special thingies that put buttons back on with these plastic hooks. It works fabulously! The weird thing is, I took up cross-stitching for a while (back when I had time) and actually enjoyed and was fairly good at it. But don't think that translates to regular sewing. If you show up at my cubicle with a hem unraveled on your skirt, I will most likely grab a stapler or duct tape to take care of the problem.

Next week, I'll talk about why I'm a great person to have around if you need someone to work on an engine or build a deck.

- Deadly (unDomestic) DeLeon

Fair Warning

November is National Novel Writing Month and I will write a novel. This past year or so has been challenging for me in the writing department. Family illness knocked me on my butt and I’ve been struggling to pick myself up hence. My mom was diagnosed with a rare but benign slow growing brain tumor that the people in scrubs tell us we won’t really have to worry about for another 10 to 15 years. Like I won’t think about it every day until then. My dad was diagnosed with cancer and just last week completed (hooray!) his treatment. My mind is mostly clear and I haven’t an “omigod my parents are mortal!” moment in about ten days. But they are well now and they are moving on with their lives so I know it's time for me to move forward with my own.

So I’m back to writing. Actual scheduled writing that I think about and not just typing a few words in between treatments or scribbling ideas on the back of Starbucks napkins. And most importantly: When people ask me what I don’t feel like pulling my turtleneck over my head. I’m excited about my project. I've missed the tickles in my stomach and being so eager to find out what happens next that I stay up to write about it. Writer's Trill, welcome back.

So this is fair warning: Next week’s and all of November’s posts will give all you a [sometimes scary] peek at my writing process: word count updates, triumphs, failures, cups of coffee ingested to keep me awake and minutes spent jogging to keep me sane, and number and kind of object broken when the jogging didn't work.

I hope some of you will join me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How I Sold My First Book -- Or Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned From George Costanza

I hope you are all having a great weekend! This week, Killer Fiction is very excited to feature Dorchester Debut Author, Angie Fox, as our guest blogger this weekend. I met Angie at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Dallas this past July. We happened to sit down at the same table at the Kiss of Death Mystery Suspense Chapter's Death by Chocolate Party where we were both finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence (Trigger Happy Halliday was a finalist, as well!) and became acquainted then, connecting off and on throughout the conference. I was thrilled to hear from Angie several months later that she had gone on to sell her first book and asked Angie to share her experience with us here at Killer Fiction. I remember my own 'The Call' story and will blog about that next week, but I still remember how stunned and excited I was that my dream was finally a reality. For those of you who are published, I suspect we never get tired of hearing these stories. As for those who are still waiting for that momentous call, I remember so many times before I was published that I just wanted to give up but would read someone's 'call' story and it would keep me plugging. So, without further adieu, I'm thrilled to welcome Angie Fox to Killer Fiction. Take it away, Angie!

~Bullet Hole~


How I sold my first book

Or: Everything I needed to know, I learned from George Costanza
I’ve always loved to read, so it was no surprise to anyone when I eventually decided to write a book of my own. When I did, I attacked it head on. I planned, I worked, I outlined more than any woman should. The end result? I wrote three mysteries that didn’t sell.

I don’t know how many of you watch Seinfeld, but there is a time in George’s life where he decides what he’s been doing hasn’t been working, so he decides to do the opposite. That’s what I did with my books. I’d been writing serious mysteries, with lots of science and research involved. They’d generated some interest, enough to almost, almost sell. But nothing quite happened.

To take my mind off the latest mystery making the rounds with agents, I decided to write something completely different, a funny paranormal romance where I could build my own world and make up my own rules. I fell in love with the idea of a preschool teacher who is forced to run off with a gang of geriatric biker witches and THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER was born.

Instead of a 20-page plot outline, I had a 5-page list of ideas, one of which included “but little did they know, all the Shoney’s are run by werewolves.” Instead of following the rules, I broke a few. Instead of painstakingly writing over the course of a year, I giggled my way through the book and had a complete manuscript in five months.

The opening chapters did well in contests and caught the eye of an editor, who asked to see the whole thing. That same editor bought the book less than a week after I finished it.

I still can’t believe THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER will be an August 2008 release. And just this afternoon, I was working on the sequel, laughing with the characters and having more fun than I should.

While I’m not sure Seinfeld is the best place to go for life lessons, I really do think there’s something to be said for following your instincts – in writing and in everything else. Can you think of a time you’ve taken a different path? Broken out of a pattern and started something new?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As some of you might know, October is Domestic Violence awareness month. Last year I donated a short story to an anthology put out by Freya’s Bower called Dreams & Desires, where 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book went to help victims of domestic violence. Before signing on to the project, I knew very little about it except that, well, it sucked and I didn’t want it to happen to me. But over the course of the past year I have been amazed at some of the information and statistics I’ve run across and want to share some of them with you today.

Nearly one third of all women in America have report having been physically or sexually abused by a significant other in their lifetime. One third! That is a huge number when you think it doesn’t account for violence at the hands of strangers – just boyfriends and spouses. I imagined my three best friends, chances are one of them will be victimized at the hands of a loved one during the course of her lifetime.

And these are just the stats on women who have reported being victimized. Estimates of how many women are actually injured by a spouse or partner go as high as 3 million per year. That’s the same number of people that are injured in car accidents every year. So, statistically speaking, a woman is just as likely to get whiplash from a fender bender this year as she is to be assaulted by a loved one. To me, that is incredibly scary. Every young girl knows to put on her seat belt when she gets in the car, but I’d venture to say that very few know how to spot a potentially abusive relationship.

What are the signs? Here is an excellent list taken from the forward of Dreams & Desires:

1. ‘Jeckel and Hyde behavior’: Your partner is wonderful and caring for a while and then will do an about face and be angry about things that they thought were fine at an earlier time. They switch back and forth between behaviors for no apparent reason.

2. ‘Life Would be so Good If’: You frequently think that your relationship would be perfect if not for his or her emotional storms. The storms seem to be coming more and more frequently. Between times, life is wonderful, but when a storm is coming, you can often tell by that ‘Walking on Eggs Feeling’.

3. ‘That Walking On Eggs Feeling’: You feel at times that any action on your part will cause your partner to erupt into anger. You try to do everything you can think of to avoid it, but the longer the feeling goes on, the more likely the blowup will happen, no matter what you do.

4. ‘I Can’t Stand You, But You Better Not Leave’: Your partner keeps telling you that you aren’t worth having a relationship with, but will not consider breaking off the relationship and acts more outrageously when he or she finds out you are attempting to leave the relationship.

5. ‘So Much, So Fast’: Your partner just met you and doesn’t know much about you, but he or she has to have you, so you must commit now.

6. ‘It’s You That’s the Problem’: Your partner never seems to consider his or her own part in your domestic disputes. You get blamed for all problems because of the most ridiculous things.

7. ‘This Happened to Me and It’s All Your Fault’: You are blamed for your partner’s problems even when it was his or her responsibility to not make mistakes. This could be things like him or her not getting to work on time and getting in trouble, not getting a job, not paying the bills in a timely manner, etc.

8. ‘It’s Their Fault’: Your partner is never the cause of his own problems; if it’s not your fault, it was somebody else’s.

9. ‘Overreacting’: Your partner overreacts to little irritations. Small offenses like leaving the cap off the toothpaste cause him or her to have huge anger scenes or act out in an outrageous manner.

10. ‘I Will Get You for That’: Your partner doesn’t try to negotiate a better relationship, but retaliates by doing something to you that he or she knows will hurt you emotionally.

11. ‘All the Fights are about What I Do Wrong’: You never seem to be able to talk about his or her wrong actions; the discussion always seems to be about what you did wrong, and there always seems to be something new that you did wrong.

12. ‘You are Worthless’: Your partner keeps telling you that all your problems are because you can’t manage to do anything right.

13. ‘Unrealistic Expectations’: Your partner is dependent on you for all his/her needs and expects you to be the perfect mate, lover and friend. You are expected to meet all of his/her needs.

14. ‘Blames Others for His/Her Feelings’: You are told, “You make me mad,”“you’re hurting me by not doing what I ask,” or “I can’t help being angry”.

15. ‘Intense Jealousy’: Your partner tells you that expressing jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity, not love. You are questioned about who you talk to and you may frequently receive calls or unexpected visits during the day.

16. ‘Isolation’: He or she has attempted to cut off your family, friends, and independent financial resources. Your friends and family are put down, and you are put down for socializing with them. You or they are accused of ridiculous motives.

While domestic violence is a widespread and growing epidemic, there are two things you can do today to help stop it.

1) Forward this list to a woman you care about. She may not need it today, but there’s a one in three chance that she’ll need it sometime in her life. Help her have the tools to spot an abusive relationship before it gets out of hand.

2) Purchase a copy of Dreams & Desires. During the month of October Freya’s Bower is discounting the volume in ebook, paperback, and hardcover in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month. Again, 100% of the proceeds go directly to victims who need help the most. In addition to myself, 18 other authors donated short stories including: Susan Lyons, Sasha White, Lois Winston, Candace Havens, Jackie Kessler, Richelle Mead, Rachelle Chase, Jenna Bayley-Burke, Rhonda Stapleton, Bebe Thomas, Debbie Mumford, Emily Veinglory, Amanda Brice, Kit Wylde, Zinnia Hope, Faith Bicknell-Brown, Shauna Wolf and Sela Carsen. So, in addition to doing something wonderful for a great cause, you’ll get an awesome read as well!

Freya’s Bower will also be publishing a Dreams & Desires Vol. 2 in February, 2008, and again, all proceeds will be donated to help victims of domestic violence. So, please, watch for it!

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Senior Discount, Anyone?

I deserve a senior discount. I really, really deserve one. Uh, hold on there a minute, folks. Don’t get the idea I’m announcing I’m now officially eligible for that cheaper cup of coffee or ten percent discount at the check outs on Wednesdays. Sadly, that day will come all too soon. (Some days I feel it’s just around the corner…!)

No, what I’m talking about is a high school senior discount. As some of you may know, I’m the mother of triplets who are currently high school seniors -- twelfth graders in the throes of ‘senioritis’ -- and all the lovely symptoms that come with the affliction. I mean condition.

Think about it for a minute. ACT, PSAT, FAFSA. All those acronyms in triplicate! Triple the college visits, triple the number of graduation announcements, triple the hormones and the ‘tudes. Like I said, I deserve a senior discount. (And a long vacation)

The other day senior pictures were scheduled. Times three, remember. I didn’t know who to feel sorrier for: me or the photographer. Me, for trying to get everyone ready and there on time. Makeup? Check. Brush and comb? Check. Different outfits? Check. Shoes for said outfits? Check. Directions to the photographer’s rustic country location? Yikes! Okay so I ended up getting lost. (The only reason we weren’t late was because I was judging the time from the clock in the car and it was off by more than thirty minutes.) The photogrpaher had it little better. He ended up toting his camera back and forth a gazillion times for the outdoor shots -- narrowly escaping head trauma from a bunch of walnuts dislodged and sent plummeting earthward by an inquisitive squirrel--and exhibited Job-like patience waiting for the various changes of apparel. And changes of mind about backgrounds. And props. Or whether to smile or not to smile. Or rest a chin in a hand or cross arms or sit, stand, lie, lean… All in triplicate, of course. Whew!

We were finishing up for the night and down to the last picture. “Join us, Mom, for the last picture,” the triplets urged as I sat slumped in the tall director’s chair prop. “Please!” They chorused.

I gave them a ‘get real’ look. I had on scruffy jeans and a hoodie. My forehead was raw from all the forehead rubbing. What little hair I had left was standing straight up. And I had a little ‘tude of my own.

“Maybe next time,” I said.

“But we’re only graduating once, Mom!” they reminded me.

I smiled then. Broadly. Warmly. Wickedly. Times three.

“Now that’s the smile we’re looking for!” the photographer exclaimed.

And know what? That senior discount is looking better and better all the time.

So, how do you feel about growing old? Or older? What about your children growing up and moving on? Looking forward to it? Or fighting it every step of the way?

Oh, before I sign off for today I want to congratulate Linda H for being the winner of our first Killer Fiction prize package. I’ll be sending the goodies out to Linda this weekend! Congrats again, Linda, and thanks for visiting our Killer Fiction Writers blog! Come back often!

And make sure you all drop in this Saturday. Our Killer Fiction guest blogger is Dorchester Debut author, Angie Fox. Angie’s first book, THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER, will be out in August, ’08. She’ll blog about her ‘sale’ story and 'the call' so make sure you stop in and check it out!

See you next week!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Furnace of the Damned

My furnace is out. Of course, this never happens except when my husband is out of town. I knew enough to tell that the pilot light wasn't lit. So, I did what any woman would do - I called the professionals.

Basically, the conversations I had with about 5 or 6 companies can be blended into this sample conversation:

Me: My pilot light is out. When can you come over and light it?

Him(it's always a him): Oh, honey, I'll bet it's more than that. Probably something's wrong with your thermocoupler or igniter. (Imagine him patting me on the head through the phone line)

Me: Maybe, but I need my pilot light lit.

Him: Well, we can take a look at it, then tell you what your problem is. But my guess is it's more than just the pilot being out.

Me: Okay, but I still need my pilot light lit. It's cold. I'm wearing a parka.

Him: I'd guess it's your thermocoupler. Or maybe your igniter. (apparently, he's convinced that throwing such big words around will impress me to do...what, exactly? Pay him now for a phone diagnosis?)

Me: When can you come out? That's what I need. Someone to come out. When? (hoping this will break his damned obsession with deducing the problem over the phone)

Him: Oh, it'll be a week or two. We're booked up.

Me: What? Your ad says 24-7, and full emergency services anytime!

Him: Yup. That's right. And it'll be a week or two until we can send someone out.

At this point I called my husband for other suggestions. Here's what he said - I kid you not:

Husband: Why don't I just talk you through it over the phone?

Me: You're joking. I've never done that before. The only thing I know about lighting a furnace's pilot light is that it is very dangerous and the house can blow up.

Husband: Only if the gas is on. Just shut off the gas and I'll talk you through it.

Me: I don't know how to shut off the gas.

Husband: We can figure that out.

Me: I don't want to "figure it out." It's dangerous and I'm not doing it.

Husband: Just put the kids outside if you're worried.

Me: And leave them motherless when I blow myself up? I don't think so.

Husband: I can talk you through it. Trust me.

Me: Have you ever lit the pilot on this particular furnace?

Husband: No.

Me: Do you know where I'm supposed to light it?

Husband: Not really - but they're all the same.

Me: So let me get this straight - you want to "talk" me through doing something you've never done before - and you don't know anything about this furnace. Is that right?

Husband: Sure.

My husband has now been home for three days and the pilot light is still out. He leaves tomorrow. So tonight I will hand him a box of matches and take the kids out for dinner. We'll see if the house is still standing when we get back.

The Assassin

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Face Was Red

Okay…I promised you guys another embarrassing story. This one, mind you, was actually published by Redbook Magazine. Yeah, I’m so good at putting my foot in my mouth and finding myself in those awkward situations that the big magazines help humiliate me.

Anyway . . . on to the story—after the birth of my son, and especially after the embarrassing pop-my-water in the drive-thru while Burger King employees watched, I had decided my birthing days were way past over. Now, unlike some people, I really did know what caused the birthing condition.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to practice making babies, but it was the pills and gadgets where gadgets didn’t belong that I minded. So, I sat my husband down for what I had expected to be a very long talk. But nope, when I casually slipped in the word vasectomy, he casually remembered that the oil in my car needed changing. Changed, right then, like it might blow up if the dirty oil stayed in that engine one more minute.

When I approached him after the oil job was done, he suddenly remembered the backyard fence needed painting. And God forbid someone see it was peeling. The next couple of days, he retouched up all the in trim in the living room, stopped a toilet from needing a constant jiggle, and re-bleached the grout in my kitchen. That’s when; I pretty much realized he was doing chores just to get out of our discussion. So, I did what most women would do in that kind of situation.

I took full advantage of it until I had every household chore I needed completed.

However, when he had started working on getting better television reception, which I knew had nothing to do with our wiring, and everything to do with our neighbor’s interest in CB radioing and his sky-high antenna, I put an end to my husband’s charade.

I cornered the man. Fully armed with ammunition, I let him have it. I gave him all the info about how it was just a tiny little snip for men, and I would have to have a major surgery. Hey, I could die. I threw in about how I’d already suffered through the pain and agony of giving him a son to carry on the Craig legacy. When reason, guilt, and family legacy didn’t flip him, I pulled out my big guns, sent him my sexy smile, and tossed in the fact that we could have much more spontaneous sex. Face it, we all know how men love spontaneous sex. (Basically, they think it means they get out of foreplay.)

I tell you, I never dreamed that spontaneous sex would lose out to a little snip-snip. Even if it did involve what he referred to as, “The Boys.”
But not to be deterred, I did what I had to do. I attacked his male ego. Did he know that our neighbor, the CB loving guy, who messed up all our phones, all our electronic equipment, including our television, was man enough and loved his wife enough to sign up for a vasectomy?

After my hubby spoke to my neighbor, he came back in, ego hanging around his knees, and relented. So, the next day, I signed him and his Boys up for a snip-snip appointment for the following month.

A couple weeks later, we were grilling burgers. As I cut the corner in our backyard, I hear my husband and the neighbor talking. I spot the neighbor, 50 feet in the air, putting up a new, larger antenna, sure to destroy reception for any electrical equipment I have in my house, especially in my bedroom because it backed up to the giant antenna.

“It works,” my neighbor called down to my husband.

Never one to keep my two cents to myself, I added, “For goodness sakes, it should work, it’s big enough. If it gets any bigger, I’m afraid it’s going to end up in my bedroom.”

The neighbor nearly fell off his pole. My husband burst out laughing.

When my husband finished his laughing jag, he explained, “We weren’t talking about his antenna, Christie. We were discussing his recovery from his . . . vasectomy.”

I promptly took myself and my two cents back inside.

So there you have it. My foot in my mouth vasectomy story. Now it’s your turn. And don’t you guys be shy. We've told you guys our dirty little secrets. And come November 1st, we’ll be picking another lucky person who posts on our site. So come on … let us hear from you.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, October 15, 2007

Contest Winner

Our 'Bring a Friend to Play' contest ended today and the winner is... LindaH! Congrats, Linda! You've won a prize pack from Kathleen Bacus. Just email me your address and we'll get it to you ASAP.
gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com

Stay tuned as tomorrow morning we'll be posting details of our next contest!

~Trigger Happy and the Killer Fiction Gang

Embarrassing Moments

Since I don’t want Christie to hog all the embarrassment glory, I thought I’d shared one of my less stellar moments with you today. This story still tickles me to the point of laughing until I cry because, well, quite frankly, it’s just as funny as it is embarrassing. Might as well laugh, right?

So the story goes like this – my husband is a body shop estimator. Basically, you wreck your car, he’s the guy that gets it fixed. He started a new job at a new dealership complete with new boss, and his new boss invited us over to his house to watch football. The new boss and his wife seemed all right so we ventured to their house for a Cowboys game.

New boss had built one of those custom homes in a fairly exclusive area of a nice suburb around Dallas. It was probably 4k or so square feet, vaulted ceilings, stone countertops, huge spiral staircase, etc. All the fixins’ of a fancier home. They had just moved in a month ago.

Their media room was upstairs, so we grabbed some drinks/snacks and headed upstairs for the football watching part. At halftime, we decided to venture back down for refills. Now this was a night game, so the house wasn’t lit up by sunlight. And downstairs the only lights on were in the kitchen so the huge spiral staircase was dimly lit.

Now, the entryway at the bottom of the stairs was all hardwood floor, and the builder of the house had talked New Boss into paying $800 for what he called a “designer step” – meaning the last step of the spiral staircase was the same hardwood as the floor at the bottom rather than carpeted like the rest of the stairs. Well, this is a wonderful thought, except that in dim light that last step blends in with the entryway floor.

Yeah, you see it coming, don’t you? So I take one large step onto what I think is the entryway floor and clip that last step with the back of my heel. Not good. I loose my balance and reach back to grab the railing to try and recover. I succeed only in grabbing a wrought iron spindle from the stairs and literally wrenched the entire thing out of the railing.

So I’m flinging to the ground, rolling with a wrought iron weapon as I fall. It must have been a glorious sight. I finally tumble to a stop against the entryway wall, still clutching a (supposedly permanent) piece of their brand-new house. New Boss’s wife was horrified that I had killed myself – hell, everyone was horrified until I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. I had single-handedly torn up their home in one disastrous step.

Once New Boss decided I was going to live, he went off in a tirade about the step. It went something like this:

“GD designer step. F’ing builder talked me into paying for that s*%$! $800 and you’re the third person who’s fallen off it. When I see him again, I’m shoving that entire last step right up his ____!”

Well, you get the idea.

- Deadly (to stair spindles) DeLeon

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mirror, Mirror on the wall; I am "that girl" after all

The girl who gets killed first in [insert scary movie title here]:
This Hollywood convention is the main reason I don’t watch scary movies at the theatre anymore. I can’t stop myself from yelling at the screen when the dumb buxom bimbo hears an obviously dangerous sound and decides that is the perfect opportunity to play junior detective.

Last night I was frightened awake from a deep sleep by the sound of glass breaking. Did I hit the panic button on our alarm system so they could alert the proper authorities? No. Did I dial 911 from the cell phone on the nightstand ½ a foot away so the skilled professionals from the police department could come investigate? No. I decided to investigate myself. I’m a decent shot so did I retrieve a firearm for protection? No. I grabbed my kid’s foam decorative baseball bat. To make matters even worse, I was wearing a tank top and boxer shorts, the “rape me, torture me, kill me” uniform.

As it turns out, in the battle against french door vs. drunken midnight golfer my door lost.

The girls from the Yaz commercial:
I hate hate hate watching any personal feminine product commercial that shows 2-4 women out having a good time and carrying on a conversation about said product. Never not once ever have I been trying on a pair of killer stilettos or having a big salad at an outdoor bistro or playing volleyball on the beach and thought "I wonder if Katie feels not so fresh. Let me ask her about this intimate detail right now!" Until recently.

Two friends and I were having drinks a couple of nights ago. It was one of those rare nights when we all looked great: our hair cooperated, our fashion coordinated. There was good live music and lots of fun people to meet. But we three were sitting at the table wholly engaged in a conversation about…you guessed it PMDD and Yaz birth control. I don't know how it got started. I don't know how long we were talking about it before I got the "weirdos" eye from a guy within ear shot. But lemme tell you, it wasn't just a few passing thoughts, it was an animated, dynamic, drawn out conversation.

Every time I see that commercial I yell at the television “Who does that? Who gets all dressed up, looks great, goes out and sits down over cocktails to talk about PMS and birth control. WHO DOES THAT?!?" Now, sadly, the answer is: me.

An Aniston movie? Seriously?:
Him (calm): If you wanted me to go to the PTA meeting then why, when I asked, didn’t you just say so?

Me (irrationally raising my voice): Because I didn’t want you to go to the PTA meeting. I wanted you to want to go to the PTA meeting.

Him (still calm, of course): Who wants to go to a PTA meeting?

Two hours later I was folding laundry and watching The Breakup despite hating any and every Aniston movie because I wanted to feel worse, I guess, and she says almost the exact same thing about dishes. I threw a pair of rolled socks at the television.

I'm not alone. You all know you’ve done it - that thing, whatever it is, that you despise in others. At what moments in your life have you been “that girl”?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Love makes us do crazy things. It’s one of the things we love about love, that feeling of giddiness, abandon, that we can do anything in the name of romance. But, a friend of mine recently made me wonder exactly where the fine line between crazy romantic and just plain crazy lies.

Mr. X is a hot, eligible bachelor with a heart of gold. But he’s what I’d call a serial dater. Not because he’s a womanizer (remember the heart of gold thing), but because he is determined to find The One even if he has to date every woman on the west coast to find her. He’s constantly calling to tell me about the perfect new girl he’s fallen for, only to find out later that she’s a pole dancer or religious zealot or gun enthusiast with an itchy trigger finger. (Sadly, I’m not making these up. And you though my dates were bad!) But, he’s always ready to shake the dust off and continue his search, ever hopeful that Miss Right is just around the corner.

Recently his quest paid off. Mr. X found love. A cute, mature, no-skeletons-lurking-in-her-closet (at least non involving felony warrants) great girl. The only catch was that Miss Perfect lived three thousand miles away. Undeterred, Mr. X pursued her, carrying on a whirlwind email courtship until, three months later, he called to tell me he was moving in with her and they had plans to get married.

Needles to say, I was a little floored. Yes, she sounded fantastic but, um, isn’t that rushing things just a little? I tried to talk a little sense into him, pointing out that he and Miss Perfect had never actually dated in person. But, incurable romantic that he is, he waved that aside as a tiny technicality. He was in love, that’s all there was to it.

At first I was pretty sure Mr. X had crossed that line into just-plain-crazy-ville. But, then I thought about it a little. I have to admit, there’s a certain part of me that admires Mr. X for taking such a leap of faith despite having been burned by love (and pole dancers) in the past. For following his heart despite all logic warning otherwise. And there’s something very sweet about falling in love long distance – very yesteryear. Makes a killer tell-your-grandkids story.

So, I found myself changing my tune. In fact, his crazy romantic gesture spurred me to do something a little crazy in the name of love myself. I signed up for a speed dating session. I know. “What is she thinking!?” “Hasn’t she seen The 40 Year Old Virgin?” Yeah, I have. And I’m honestly a little nervous. But, I figure if I’m going to go on 10 bad dates, might as well have them all in the same night and get it over with, right? And who knows, maybe my Mr. Perfect just might show up, hoping against hope there’s a non-felon, non-pole dancing lady in the crowd.

So, spill it, ladies – what’s the most crazy romantic thing that’s ever happened to you?

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The KoD Retreat--Or How I Spent My Weekend Up Close and Personal with an AK-47

I grew up with guns. My grandfather was a hunter and an exceptional trap-shooter with a collection of trophies that bore witness to his skill. My father, too, enjoyed these manly pursuits and my brother followed in their firearm footsteps, snagging more than a few trophies of his own. I’m familiar with firearms. As a trooper I qualified yearly on the firing line and in various training exercises involving both civilian and bad guy pop-up silhouette-types. Okay, so I offed an innocent bystander or two during my training tenure. Those ‘shoot-don’t shoot’ moments can be brutal. And, as it happens, deadly to poor little Johnny on the tactical course. Sorry, pal.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to mix and mingle with an outstanding group of mystery/thriller/romance writers and industry professionals at the RWA’s Kiss of Death Mystery Supense Chapter’s annual retreat. And there were a number of memorable moments, let me tell you.

The retreat started out with a bang. Relax. I’m talking figuratively here despite the subject line of my blog. You know Margie Lawson. Right? She’s the brilliant brainchild of the EDITS technique of self-editing, the empress of empowering your characters’ emotions, the dynamic diva of Defeating Your Self-Defeating Behaviors, the reigning queen of ratcheting up your rhetorical devices and all designed to take your writing straight to the level of bestseller. So, when I heard Margie was going to be in Omaha at the retreat, I was like, “I’m there.” I wasn’t disappointed. By the time Margie finished her crash course on Deep Editing for Suspense utilizing multi-colored highlighters, my wip was a veritable rainbow of colors. So were my fingers and hands and one pants leg but that’s another story for another day. (I was a tad bit careless with my highlighters the first time out, but I’ll get better.) I felt like I’d been empowered when the session winded down--way too soon for me. I had been given a terrific technique for editing and polishing that would complement my own tricks of the trade.

The weekend was off to a killer start. That night after introductions, we were treated to a ‘chilly’ reception from sensational romantic suspense author, E.C. Sheedy speaking on Writing the Cold Heart: The Chill of Romantic Suspense, followed by a decadent desert buffet where we had time to mingle with the other attendees.

Saturday morning featured the incredibly gifted author, Erica Spindler, who presented The Big Thrill: Taking your Novel to the Next Level of Suspense. I was absolutely riveted. The thrill was huge! Next up was Scott Eagen of Greyhouse Literary Agency and he gave us a refresher course in ‘keeping it real’ in romantic suspense. Then Scott teamed with agent Miriam Kriss, of the Irene Goodman Agency, in a cold read critique. All I can say is that I was verrrry glad I hadn’t submitted any pages. Talk about the brave souls who did. I pay homage to their courage.

Following lunch we presented a quick regional author panel and I was excited to be included along with fellow authors Kylie Brant, Pam Crooks, Cindy Kirk, and Roxanne Rustand. A book-signing followed the panel (I still can’t believe Erica Spindler bought a copy of MY book!! How incredibly cool is that????) and I took advantage of some free time before dinner and the evening session to explore Omaha’s Old Market section. Then it was back to the hotel and more food and Danny Agan’s, Anatomy of a Murder Investigation. Danny (pictured with yours truly and Ak-47 makes three at the top of the blog page) is a retired homicide lieutenant with the Atlanta Police Department. Danny was a wealth of information (and the supplier of a crime scene complete with mannequin stiff plus an assortment of deadly hardware to handle) as he took us through the initial call to a homicide with the responding or first officer at the scene, through the forensic procedure, interview and interrogation methods, legal requirements relating to searches, as well as general information relating to law enforcement. Danny answered a host of questions from each of us like a true southern gentleman. By the time we were through with him, I even think we had convinced him to write his own book. The stories he could tell… I came home with priceless Kodak moments, too. I’ll twist Trigger Happy Halliday’s arm to see if she’ll help get those posted on the ‘witness’ page of our website so you can enjoy them, as well. It’s not everyday you get a picture of a literary agent holding an AK-47.

Gee, I hope Miriam doesn’t see this…!

Sunday morning Danny finished his presentation and a speaker panel consisting of our wonderful workshop presenters gave us the chance to pick the brains of these professional writers and agents and lawmen. I met so many wonderful writers and fantastic folks!

I was so jazzed when I left the retreat I couldn’t wait to get home and write. Of course, ‘real life’ derailed my little literary locomotion. There was that stack of laundry to see to--the one so tall I mistook it for Shaquille O’Neal when I entered the laundry room. And the fact that I hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep. Plus the criminology homework I’d put off. And the term paper I really needed to work on. And the day job. And I suppose kids do need to be fed now and then. And there was the college take-home mid-term that turned out to be six essay questions from hell. (What on earth did I get myself into?) And two cars that needed attention, one book that REALLY, REALLY needs to be written, and now, thanks to Margie Lawson, a finished book that needs to be re-written. Sigh.

Can you tell I had a blast at the retreat? Oh, yeah, it was a chiller-thriller of a weekend for sure. Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to make the retreat a success and a big thanks to all the participants for being so danged nice. I loved meeting each and every one of you!

Next year? Portland, Maine or bust!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course...

I took my Girl Scout troop to a four-hour horse workshop last weekend at Camp Conestoga. We had a great time learning about feeding, grooming, saddling and riding horses. At the end of the day, I was sunburned and my butt was a bit sore (how in the hell did cowboys sit in those saddles - obviously designed by the Marquis de Sade - all day?).

One of the horses (see photo) has a stifle injury and can't be ridden, so his job is to stand there quietly while little girls attach post-its to him naming almost all his body parts. And did I mention his name is Outlaw? Oh, the humanity!

The instructor told us that Outlaw would always be around because he's a great workshop horse. They use him to demonstrate how they measure, weigh, groom and saddle. So even though he can't support a rider - he's still important to the equestrian center.

As I watched Outlaw calmly allow little girls to giggle and squeal as they tried their hand at horse care (and, unfortunately over the word "buttocks"), I couldn't help but admire him.

Okay - so if I ever have a brain injury and can't write - I still don't want Girl Scouts putting sticky notes all over me labelling my whithers and mane (and giggling over the word "buttocks"), but I saw that to the equestrian center - he was more than just a horse. He was, in a way, a teacher. Even though he can't do trail rides, he still has a lot to teach kids about horses.

I think that's neat. There's a lesson in there...somewhere.
Viva El Outlaw!

Yours Truly,
The Assassin

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Embarrassing Moments

We all have them. Yeah, I know . . . some of us are smarter and don’t post them on the Internet so everyone and their gerbil can read about them. But that’s the problem with being a writer. We have this compulsive need to tell and share our stories. And as you may have noted over the past weeks by reading my blogs, I don’t always paint myself in the best light in these posts. Nope, I write about the cold, hard truth and sometimes (as my grandpa would say) “The doggone truth ain’t always purty.”

It’s not just me. All the Divas here at Killer Fiction have shared some . . . let’s call it personal insight about themselves . . . things that a normal non-writer might have felt obliged to keep to herself. But not so with your average author—if we live it, if it makes us feel, think, if it tickled our funny bones, ticked us off, or bored us silly, we must . . . MUST share said experience with the world.

So, I was thinking about what personal incident I wanted to share with you this week. Okay, it’s not like last week’s elephant story wasn’t humiliating enough, but hey…there are plenty more where that came from.

And the one that popped into my mind? The time I was on the way to the hospital to give birth to my son. Hubby and daughter hadn’t had lunch so hubby got this fine idea to pull over at a Burger King drive thru. (In case you haven’t noticed by now, Hubby’s fine ideas don’t always work out.) Luck would have it that as the exact moment the nose-pierced teenager peered at us through the window, I had the sudden urge to push. Now, I don’t know how many of you have had a baby, but let me tell you, when you push, there’s also this overwhelming need to . . . scream. Not those nice sweet ladylike screams either. I mean, it sounds like something from the prehistoric ages giving Mother Nature a come to Jesus talk.

Needless to say, all my efforts (the scream and the push) didn’t go unrewarded. Because that’s when my water broke. Or a better description would be . . . when my water burst. Beneath the ear piercing sound of my own scream, I heard the nose-pierced window attendant say over the loud speaker, “Well, hells bells, I’ll be dadburn it if she ain’t having a baby.” (Hey, I was in Tomball, Texas.)

Anyway, when I looked up, a complete 20-second contraction later, I saw a human pyramid, ten to fifteen bodies stacked on top of each other, stuffed into a space that only could fit two or three normal-sized nose-pierced attendants, all eyes and nose jewelry winking at me from behind the glass window of the drive thru.

My sweet, dear husband, knowing I was awfully embarrassed immediately took control. He reached for my hand and cleared his throat. Then in a very calm voice he inquired if they could put a rush on those whoppers and then (this is when things went downhill) he commenced to add a couple of milk shakes to the order, asked if they could leave off the onions, and then looking at the wet seat, politely requested a couple of extra napkins.

Are you at all surprised that less than a year later, I sent my dear, sweet husband in for a vasectomy—no pain meds required.

Anyway, I’m going to skip the vasectomy portion of this story and save myself the embarrassment until the next blog. Meanwhile, here’s what I like for all you to do. Step up to the plate, pretend you’re a writer, or maybe you are a writer, either way, I want you to share some of your embarrassing moments. (Who knows, they might even show up in one of our books.)

It simply isn’t fair for the Killer Fiction Divas to have all the fun.

And remember the contest, guys. I’m so jealous I can’t win Kathy’s prize that I could scream. Of course, it would be much more of a ladylike scream than the one I gave the Burger King employees.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, October 08, 2007

Story Ideas - UNLUCKY

Lila N - you have now officially won something better than bad-tasting lip gloss (at least I hope my book is better). Please visit me at my website and use the Contact page to forward me your name, mailing address and your preference for autographing. And a huge CONGRATULATIONS for being luckier than me or my heroine. :)

I promised this week I'd tell you about how I got the story idea for UNLUCKY. I think you'll enjoy this one as it's sort of autobiographical. :)

My husband and I got married in 2000. At the time, I was working contract, making fabulous money on these long-term accounting clean-up projects. I had just ended a 13-month project and was taking the next 3 months off (I told you the money was fabulous) so I decided to plan our wedding and study up for the honeymoon. Ah ha, I got you there, didn't I? You were wondering what I was studying for and I bet all sorts of things that had nothing to do with Blackjack crossed your mind.

But Blackjack is exactly what I meant. You see, we were getting married in Vegas and I had plans to take the Blackjack world by storm. By birth, I'm the product of an accountant and an engineer so math is like breathing to me. I figured if anyone can learn to beat the house, it ought to be me. So I started studying. And I learned. Boy, did I learn.

I learned every single statistical combination of cards on the table and what I should play based on my hand versus the dealers. I learned to count cards and had mastered a fairly basic counting system for up to six decks of cards (which is what most houses use). I had beaten my software so soundly, I knew I was going to take the bank.

Then we got to Vegas and started playing. And that's where the ugly reality stepped in. I am horribly unlucky. I don't mean just a little unlucky. I mean so unlucky that not only can I not win at cards, but when I sit down at a table, everyone there starts losing. It was an anomoly I was not in the least bit prepared for. My husband (who plays combinations so ridiculous, he annoys the other players) is one of those lucky people who wins a lot of the time playing hands he should never have played. Me - no way. If I had 18 the dealer had 19. If I had 20 the dealer had 21. If I had 21 the dealer had 21. It was like a Twilight Zone episode.

So I gave up Blackjack and switched to video poker since I didn't want to lose more money than I had already contributed to the tables. My husband, of course, went on to play for 12 hours straight on $25.

At RWA conference in Reno a couple of years ago, my agent asked if I'd had any luck gambling and I told her the story about how I just don't play the tables. Not because I don't want to, but because it's just not worth it. She laughed and said "you know, there's a story in there somewhere." Well, I thought on it long and hard and came up with heroine, Mallory Devereaux, a girl so unlucky that her entire life is like living with a disability.

The interesting thing about it is, when I pitched the idea to some writer friends of mine, one of them said "make sure you work in the word 'cooler' in the proposal." I didn't want to sound uncool, so I had google it and low and behold, I find that cooler are a casino myth (or reality, depending on who you speak to). They're people so unlucky that the casino managers pay them to sit down at hot tables and shut them down.

So, if I ever decide to give up the three or so careers that I've covered since college, I guess I could always move to Vegas and become one of those mythical "coolers." Just like my heroine, Mallory.

Just to make sure that none of you have luck as bad as Mallory, one lucky blog poster today will when an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of UNLUCKY. So post away and check back at the top of this blog post tomorrow morning to see who the winner is!!!!

- Deadly (but not at cards) DeLeon

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I - 30: The Road to Maturity

Remember being 21 and getting put out and offended when the waiter no older than you at TGIFridays demanded to see your I.D? Well fast forward ten years: You are picking up a nice wine for the weekend and your favorite wine and spirits store. There are half a dozen signs posted around the register that inform you they will require identification on all patrons who don’t appear to be at least 30. It's fine. You heard about the sting that went down in your sleepy little town a few weeks ago and kids these days? Yeah, 15 year olds look 20 and 20 year olds looked 25 before they hit 18. So you wait for this ridiculously young fellow ringing your wine to ask you for your I.D.; your hand hovering expectantly over the plastic window shielding your driver’s license, itching with anticipation. But he doesn’t ask. He double bag wraps your bottle of wine, smiles as he reads your Gap graphic-T - some university that doesn't really exist that is home of the Cougars.

“Cougar. Heh, heh,” he winks. “Cool.”

You turn to leave, confused. Nobody guesses your age correctly. They always put you at 5-7 years younger so he should have asked to see your I.D. By the time your hand reaches the door to push out it is shaking. You are indignant, angrier today that this kid didn’t ask for your I.D. than you had been ten years ago when some kid had.

So aggrieved in fact, that you almost want to turn around and let him know exactly what you think about his blatant disregard for the store’s policy? Almost…? But you are! You are walking back to the counter. This is not you. You don’t confront people when they have actually wronged you much less when they are completely innocent victims of your random and unexpected age fury. Still, he needs to know that you could have been a secret shopper sent in by his boss…or an undercover cop…or even worse -- a specially hired and groomed agent/prodigy with the ATF who only looks like she might be 30 but is really 20 and…


It could happen.

As you walk back to the counter there is a spot where you are concealed by a big state mascot and beer display: your saving grace. You can hear them but they can’t see you.

“You’re gonna get your ass fired, Michael if you don’t start asking for I.Ds.”

“I asked everybody!” Michael defends.

“You didn’t ask that girl in the Cougar t-shirt. She wasn’t 30.”

Yeah, Michael. Take that!

“I helped her pick out that same wine two weeks ago. It woulda been rude if I asked her for her I.D. She woulda thought I forgot her. Besides she is over 30. She’s just hot.”

Oops…erm…umm…big sigh.

In my early twenties, I couldn’t wait to be thirty something. Because the women on Sex in the City were thirty (or pretending to be anyway) and being thirty meant being a savvy, successful, sexy, city woman. Now in my early thirties, I wish I could go back to be twenty something. Because the girls on Gossip Girl are twenty something (but pretending not to be) and they aren’t accountable for their behavior because, after all, they’re so young, what do you expect? Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to say something catty or roll my eyes or spread a little gossip and if I was twenty something, I’d have an excuse for such silly behavior right?

But I don’t…because I’m all grown up.