Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

Ahhh…the New Year. That time in our lives when we make promises to be more effective, less addicted, debt free, skinnier, smarter, and better people. It will last until just around mid February when we skip the gym in hopes of making it to the Valentine’s sales at the mall, when we buy 18 boxes of Thin Mints and Samoas only because it’s a good cause, when we step on a Lego brick in *that* spot on the arch foot and we yell “Shit!” instead of “Sugar!”

I know. Pointless, right?


I make resolutions every year. Yeah it’s kinda ridiculous to make life changing proclamations based on the season but *fortunately* I’m consistent in my madness: I clean in the spring though my house could certainly benefit from it more often. I pummel my body into better shape for the summer though I chastise myself for not maintaining the discipline year round. In autumn I can vegetables though, thanks to the miracle of modern science, they are available [relatively] fresh or frozen all year long. So it only makes sense that I make resolutions to welcome in the new year though I should make a concerted effort to improve myself whenever I find myself lacking regardless of the earth’s orientation to the sun.

Without further ado, My New Year’s Resolutions:

Write. Write well and more, sure but in the end: just write.

That’s all. Overall, I’m fairly happy with my life. I eat well and exercise. I floss. I rarely exceed the speed limit and I swear I’m gonna vote.*

So…yeah, write. That’s it. The end.

*If I can’t find a candidate I’d marry [sometimes the ultimate deciduous factor] I’d be happy settling for one I don’t want to bury.

Celebrate responsibly and I'll see ya' next year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Coffee with the Surfer

I hope all of you killer ladies out there had a great Christmas. Mine was fantastic! I got tons of great presents, including an adorable diamond “Gemma” necklace just like the “Carrie” necklace from Sex and the City. Too cool! Also a Barnes & Noble gift card I will be putting to good use, some blinged out bracelets, and an Andy Warhol “shoes” mouse pad. Love it all! Of course, Santa did overlook my request to have Johnny Depp tied up au naturale with a bow under my tree, but I guess I’ll just have to work on being an even better girl in 2008 for that gift. I did spend the day with family and friends, playing with all our new toys, and, instead of doing the hand up the turkey’s you-know-what that Christie braved (you are my hero, girl), we had Christmas pizzas with red and green peppers on top. And Irish cream martinis – yum, to die for!

With all the merry making over, I’ve turned my sights to the new year and one of my favorite things about this season – New Year's resolutions. I have a few this year, some professional, some personal. But there is one stand out for me this year: My best friend Suze and I have both resolved to find Mr. Right in 2008, even if it means we have to go through the entire west coast supply of single men in the process. So, look out – you all will be getting my bad date recaps in spades this year!

So, to get a jump-start… I have a coffee date this afternoon. A thirty-something computer guru ($) slash surfer (anyone else having flashbacks of Keanu Reeves circa Point Break?). Mr. Surfer is a single dad of two little munchkins (responsible!), lives near the beach (location, location, location) and loves to go out dancing (never a bad thing to have a man that knows how to move). We’re meeting at 1pm, so I’ll add an update here post-date. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, anyone else have 2008 resolutions they want to share?

There are days I hate being a woman. WARNING: This is not for the faint of heart. If you are male, read no further. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

So, I put on my cute outfit, pair of earrings, fluff the hair up a little. I work out my emergency plan with Suze. (“If he’s awful, I go in the bathroom, text you 911, and you call me back in two minutes to say the house is on fire.”) Then, I brave the drizzly weather, hop in my little car and get to the coffee place a few minutes early. (You know, ‘cause it’s always good to scope out possible escape routes ahead of time.) I grab a latte and settle into a table near the window with the latest JD Robb book to wait for Mr. Wonderful to arrive.

But, here’s the thing. Something about the anticipation of a blind date makes me incredibly nervous. Which in turn makes me have to pee. So, I get up and go visit the ladies’ room. Guess what I find? (Yeah, this is the part that will squick the guys out.) Aunt Flo has come for an early visit. Two minutes before Mr. Wonderful is due to arrive! I frantically dig in my purse before remembering I used my last emergency goody at the mall last month and forgot to replenish the purse. I’ve got nothing. And, this being a little neighborhood coffee house, they don’t have any of those handy throw-in-a-quarter-get-out-a-goody machines either. I’m sunk. So, I do the only thing I can. I grab a handful of paper towels and pull my stretchy shirt down way over my butt so no tell-tale bulge is visible. Okay, so very little tell-tale bulge is visible. I figure I can quickly slink back to my table, grab my book, hightail it home for goodies, then get back here only marginally late for the date.

So, feeling like I’m wearing some sort of funky diaper, I waddle my way back to my table. Just as… (you guessed it)… Mr. Wonderful walks in the door. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s adorable in person. Sigh. I quickly sit down at the table (lest he notice my bulgy butt) and let the little hamster in my head run a marathon as I try to figure out what to do next. I can go back to the bathroom, text Suze, and wait for her emergency call. The only problem with this is that he will definitely get a great view of bulgy butt as I walk across the room again. Not to mention, he’s really cute! The last thing I want is for him to think I’m ditching him.

I briefly contemplate plan B, telling him the truth, but realize if I go with that plan he’ll be the one calling his phone-a-friend for a fake emergency escape route.

Which leaves me only one more option. I cross my legs, hold my breath, and pray he doesn’t notice as I nod, smile and try to make witty small talk. (Call me a multi-tasker.)

And apparently, even with Aunt Flo looming over me, I succeed. He asked if I'd like to go out again sometime. To which I readily agreed. Only, this time, I will definitely make sure I have an emergency stash on hand. Never leave home without them, girls!

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Snowed' more ways than one

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. My family had a terrific one filled with the usual traditions--and the usual overeating. We're still waiting to have Christmas with my folks and that side of the family. Due to heavy and blowing snow, we had to postpone getting together.
I'm sure you've already guessed this, but I'm not a fan of snow. In fact, if I never saw another snowflake I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. No, I don't require snow to put me in the Christmas spirit. In fact, I'm more likely to become a humbug if it starts to snow when I know family, friends, or yours truly have to be on the roads. I've seen enough snow to last me a lifetime. But when you live in a plain state, you resign yourself to the fact that it will inevitably snow at some point during the winter. But this winter so far has been a snow-grinch's worst nightmare.

It seems every weekend we get hit with a winter storm of some variety. I've already posted pictures of the ice storm that hit our area several weeks ago. Our community still looks like a disaster area with limbs stacked on the curbs or broken ones still dangling from trees. In fact, our county--among many others--has been proclaimed a federal disaster area as a result of the ice damage.

Then on the heels of Mr. Iceman's tantrum, we get hit by several snowstorms a week apart--with my lucky community having the dubious distinction of receiving the largest amount of snowfall. The latest winter weather event occurred the weekend before Christmas. Great timing, Mother Nature.

As a result, I seem to be spending a heckuva lot of time shoveling snow. Nope. No snowblower here. I guess I should admit to being somewhat, uh, thrifty. I calculated the cost of four shovels (one per member of household) and decided who needed a snowblower? After all, how many snowstorms could we get at most?

Little did I suspect that this year would see record-breaking snowfall amounts double what we normally receive. As a result, I'm thinking I should probably have included a snowblower in my letter to St. Nick of a week ago. Sigh.

And the added time commitment to shoveling couldn't come at a worse time. With revisions behind me, I was determined to use the additional time at home to get a jump-start (okay START) my next Calamity Jayne mystery, ANCHORS AWEIGH. I had it all planned out. How many pages I would write each day. How I'd have the first draft all written by the first of the year. (I do love setting goals, don't you?) Well, I hadn't factored lumberjack duties and snow removal into my schedule. So, I'm waaay behind. How behind? Behind as in I have to generate cover ideas for the book and send them in by January 3rd and Tressa still hasn't officially set sail yet! It's enough to shiver me timbers, mates!
So, I'm psyching myself up to make a big charge over the next five days and get a big chunk of the first draft of this book written. I've got my Pirates of the Caribbean CDs to inspire me and pics of Captain Jack Sparrow and William Turner to keep me company. The spirit is willing...
And Bullet Hole's muse?
She may require a kick in the seat to get going if we get the snow forecasted for this evening and tomorrow.
Hmm. I wonder if it's too early to ask Ho Ho for a snowblower for next Christmas--and request a very early delivery?
So how was your Christmas? Any funny stories to share? What did Santa bring you this year? Any gag gifts you can share here? Do tell.
~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Once More Into The Breach, Dear Friends, Once More; Or Close The Wall Up With Our Lego Dead!

Okay. So I'm a total Shakespeare geek. But there's something about Henry V and Agincourt that rings true about Christmas at our house. No, we didn't battle the French for dominance (although that might have been fun), and no, no actual Legos were harmed (seriously - their heads just pop back on) in the making of this photo.

What actually did happen was that I learned something while Tom and I stayed up until 2 a.m. putting together Jack's #$%$#*!!! Lego castle. Number one - Hannah Montana's Stage is much easier to put together. And two - Lego has achieved god-like status (at least in my eyes) when putting together those instruction books.

I say books, because the word "booklet" doesn't even come close to describing what the Lego company has put together. There, in full color, gooey, glossy goodness is a 5,000 page, step-by-step tome on how to put each of the 25 million pieces together. It's a wonder of printing. I think the manual cost more than the actual toy. . .that, um, Santa brought.

So, for four hours, my husband and I swore up a blue streak, talked to ourselves like madmen, hissed at each other when an errant hand invaded our carefully organized set, and scrambled for pieces as they fell on the floor as if they were priceless diamonds. Meanwhile, Jack and his cousin Gavin ran into the dining room every five minutes asking if we were done.

When we finally finished it - Tom and I toyed with hosing it down with super glue and forbidding the kids from ever, ever, ever playing with it.

We didn't actually do that. How do you give a shrieking seven-year old a toy then tell him he can't play with it? I DARE you to try it. (And if it works - could you call me?)
You know, it's too bad writing doesn't come with a step-by-step manual - with nouns, verbs and adjectives in clear, plastic bags with large numbers on them. These would be color-coded according to character development, plot points and of course - the dreaded black moment.

Interestingly enough, I do considerably less swearing when I write. And no one runs into my office every five minutes to ask if I'm done yet (well, no one who wants to stay ALIVE would do that). So, I guess it all evens out in the end.

We got the Lego castle done (which I thought should be A LOT bigger after all that work). It was a Hallmark Channel-worthy Christmas miracle (where I would be played by Angelina Jolie, of course).

Happy Holidays!

The Assassin

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Craig House!

It’s Christmas and I’m up early.

There’s a job here at the Craig house that I get stuck with every year. You know, sometimes people assume that once an author actually publishes, that their world changes—that their creative talent, suddenly valued by editors, agents, reviewers and readers across the nation, changes things ever so slightly. Some people would think that this step up, that this achieved goal automatically offers authors a reprieve from the mundane chores of life.

Yeah, well, would someone please explain this to my family? I mean, at least tell them that I’m not the only one who assumed that my accomplishment might have given me an out on some of the more . . . repulsive chores. But nope, there are jobs with my name stamped on them and my family won’t hear my but-I’m-published debate. So I guess, Nora and Sandra get stuck with the grubby jobs as well. Laundry has to be done. Toilets need to be scrubbed. (But those aren’t what this blog is about.) And there’s Christmas chores. Someone has to decorate the tree. Someone has to wrap Santa’s gifts.

Now, I don’t mind tree decorating or gift wrapping, though I am a bit wrapping impaired. But that isn’t the job I woke up dreading on this Christmas morning, or the one that makes my skin crawl as I head to the kitchen—the kitchen where the Christmas meal must be prepared.

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mind cooking. I don’t mind checking the thermometer of the cooking fowl, or even carving the poultry, but I’ve never, ever, enjoyed sticking my hand up the turkey’s backside and pulling out its innards. I mean some places are just not meant to be explored.

But I’ll do it, because it’s Christmas. Because I love my family. But I’m gonna blog about it. Because this is one place I can whine.

And because . . . well, it’s sort of funny. And because I’m hoping I can at least give you a small chuckle on this wonderful day.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and if you, too, are the one sticking your hand up a turkey’s backside, well, you need to know you’re in good company.

Oh, remember the Craig tradition of writing clues on our Christmas gifts? After we open them I’ll post what they were in the comment section of this blog.

Merry Christmas!

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Cheer

Here's a little holiday cheer from some of the DeLeon family.

This is our firstborn, Dana, an Australian Cattle Dog (or blue heeler).

This one above is my very metrosexual Maine Coon, Vinnie.

To the left is my Sheltie, Bogey, who enjoys anything as long as he's getting attention.

Merry Christmas, everyone! - Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I'm Sick. Still.

Gemma is a stronger woman than I.

I've spent the last ten days battling what I'm sure will go down as the worst cold in my history. I won't bore you with the gore of green oozing out of every cranial orifice. But I do wonder: HOW LONG IS THIS SUPPOSED TO LAST?

I've asked my doctor for antibiotics and he tells me they won't work. I've asked my friend in the medical field about Airborne and Cold Eeze but she tells me I had to start taking it before I got sick. My dad gave me some Zicam and I swear the tabs and the swabs mocked me as I tried to gulp down the "virtually" tasteless cold syrup. Why is it I can't taste applewood cured bacon or Christmas fudge or freshly brewed coffee or anything but the bitter burn of "virtually" tasteless cold medicine? Yeah, I taste that just fine.

There are some good things about being sick. I've discovered SudaCare Shower Soothers and Vapor-Plugs. The eucalyptus did little to clear the viscous sludge in my sinus cavities and chest but the faint fragrance while I slept was like my mother's gentle hand rubbing my back.

The fever is gone though the chills linger and I'm still coughing up stuff that looks like it belongs in the New York City sewer lines. But I'm no longer hearing voices in my Alka Seltzer fizz. Nor am I witnessing the discarded tissues on my bedroom floor perform The Nutcracker's Snowflake ballet. However, that could be because I'm out of cough syrup.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Am Cursed

I am cursed. Seriously. It’s true. Remember last month when I was going to go speed dating? I got laryngitis and had to cancel. Hard to make a great impression when you can’t speak. Then Saturday I was supposed to go on a blind date. I was really psyched for it, too. Only Saturday morning I woke up with a runny nose, stuffy head, chills, and a fever. Whimper. So, I had to call Mr. BD and cancel. At first, I’m not sure he believed me that I was really sick and not just trying to back out of a blind date. But once I convinced him (or, rather, my pathetically nasally voice did) he was very sweet about it, telling me to get better, get rest, and we’d get together when I felt better. So, I went to bed, drank my hot tea and dreamed abut Mr. Hottie. (Yeah, he got hotter after he was sweet.)

Two days later I was feeling much better, so I asked Mr. Hottie if he wanted to try again on Thursday. I happily began picking out a first date outfit, picturing the seamlessly perfect conversations we’d have over dinner and a movie.

I should have known my luck wasn’t that good. (This is where the cursed part comes in.)

Wednesday night I was still battling the tiniest bit of post cold sniffles. I blew my nose and, graceful thing that I am, somehow in the process managed to slice the tip of my nose with my freshly-manicured-for-my-date fingernail. It was just the teeniest of cuts, but, man, is the nose a sensitive place! After letting out a few choice expletives, I checked my schnoz in the mirror. I could hardly see the cut. Right on, date as planned.

Fast forward to Thursday morning. I get up and my nose is throbbing. Stinging. It hurts with a capital H. I go look in the mirror. And gasp. If Rudolph had a sister, I’d be it. Somehow during the night the very last of my cold germs infected the teeny tiny cut and my nose is hugely swollen. And red. Really, really red. More whimpering.

So, I called Mr. Hottie (who at this point probably thinks I’m flakier than a pie crust) and canceled yet again.


My early resolution for the new year is to take mass amounts of vitamin C, Echinacea, and Airborne daily. If I ever get another chance to go out with Mr. Hottie again, I am SO not going to be sick.

~ Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday (Sniffling all the way to the doctor's office where I’m buying antibiotics in bulk this time!)

P.S. Check out the new book out this week, Time To Write, by the awesome Kelly L. Stone. It’s all about how authors find time between kids, husbands, day jobs, and destructive pets to actually go about the business of writing. It includes interviews with over 100 authors, including yours truly!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is...

I know Christmas isn't about receiving. As the mother of four teenagers, I know this. As the mother of multiples who received a pair of socks the year I gave birth to triplets I get it. Really I do. Christmas is not about material things. If you gauge your holiday cheer by the quantity and quality of the haul you bring in at the end of the day, you're bound to be disappointed. Christmas is about something bigger. Something that has nothing to do with Nintendo Wii, Iphones, or Ipods.

But every once in a while I like to sit down and write out a list for the jolly ol' elf with the long white beard--just for fun--and just for the heck of it. So, here goes.

Dear Santa:

I've been a very good girl this year. (Okay, so 'girl' is probably pushing it. All right, fine. So the 'good' part is open for debate, too. I write fiction, after all.)

First off, Santa baby, this year I'd really like a car that actually starts when you put the key in it and turn it. Or alternatively, for mechanics to figure out why I've gone through three car batteries in three years. It's getting to the point that as soon as I jump in my vehicle I say a couple of 'Hail Marys' and perform the sign of the cross--and I'm not even Catholic.

Secondly, Ho Ho, I really could have used a nice, lightweight chainsaw this week (or a great-looking lumberjack type who works cheap). I went out to tackle the limbs in the front yard armed with nothing but a trusty tree saw. I ended up breaking the 'untrusty' tree saw in the first ten minutes and spent the rest of the morning breaking off limbs (tree variety) through sheer brute strength (and aided by overt, seething rage). By evening I was so sore I couldn't raise my hands above chest-height without screaming in pain. I collapsed on the living room sofa and spent the evening moaning.

Next, St. Nick, I could use a nice, long vacation somewhere that never, ever sees snow! After plowing through a revision request that made me want to poke my eyes out, losing power in the middle of the process, and busting my keester to get the revisions out ahead of schedule only to have them delivered two days late, ( I bet you wouldn't have been late!) has made me a little--testy. So a lovely white sand beach somewhere wouldn't go amiss.

Also, Kris, there's the little niggling issue of that next Calamity Jayne book due March 1st. You know the one. The one being downright stubborn and refusing to write itself. Bend over, would you, Santa, and take a looky see in that bag of yours and see if there's a go-getter muse in there with Bullet Hole's name on it.

A glowing Publishers Weekly review for my April book would be nice, as well, Santa. Feel free to throw in super sales, and the odd movie rights option.

And no one would believe this was my list, Santa, if I didn't include a request for a set of adult-sized cuddleduds and a thick pair of wool socks.

But most important of all, Mr. Claus, I really, really, really want health, happiness, joy, peace, and love for my family and friends this year.

So, what is on YOUR Christmas list this year?

~Bullet Hole Bacus wishing you all a very, merry Christmas~

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blessed Are the Animials Who Will Screw Up Your Christmas...

Jingle, The Naughty Xmas Cat

Twas the week before Christmas

And all through the house

Not a bassett was stirring

Of course, neither was my spouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

In hopes that (if I ever got my shopping done)

St. Nicholas would be there.

And I with my laptop

Secure on my lap

Had no ideas to write with

Not even a scrap.

When all of the sudden I heard such a clatter

I felt relieved to have an excuse to be rid of the matter.

The kids had not put away the cookies

And even left some, which was weird

And the pug looked really guilty

With smeared Oreos in her beard.

The black cat named Jingle (yes, that's his real name)

Threw up on the floor

And my stuffed Kris Kringle

Was torn up by the door.

My husband was snoring - not a care in the world

As I got out the Spot Bot to clean up where the cat (and soon after, dog) hurled (#!$%#!!!)

And what to my wondering eyes should appear

But a chewed up miniature toy sleigh

with only five (gulp!) reindeer.

I spent the night cleaning

Instead of writing a word

And if you were my pets

Many not-very-Christmasy expletives you heard.

The kids were all snuggled up safe in their beds

While visions of Guitar Hero III danced in their heads.

After yelling at the cat and chastising the dog

I sat back down to my laptop to write this here blog.

With so much to do

And so much more to clean

It would take a military (and possibly, verrrrrry bloody) coup

To make Christmas keen.

I decided instead to compose my Christmas list

Just in case Santa

Was reading all this.

My Dearest, Darling Santa

Only one thing I ask

For George Clooney as my butler

Cleaning not being his only task ;)

Upon composing my list

I went up to bed

With visions of Georgie (that's what I'd call him) in a g-string (sigh!)

Cleaning toilets (that would be soooo hot!). . .in my head.

*<; { > Happy Holidays! May Santa bring you what you REALLY want.

The Assassin

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lap Dancing and Sexy Santa Underwear

The winner of the T-shirt, the book, the chocolate, and the DD&D T-shirt is Lucy. Contact me Lucy.

Okay, I will confess. Every year about this time—during the naughty and nice season—I throw caution to the December winds and become a bit of a lap dancer. Give me a lap and I’m on it. I even have pictures to prove it. Heck, I’ve even written about my lap dancing events and sold them to national magazines, pictures included!

Just last weekend, on my way to my autographing, I spotted a real animal of a man—you could even say he was prime stock—he was literally begging for a lap dance and well, I couldn’t resist. My husband was with me and when he saw me light up, he simply rolled his eyes.

I’m so passionate about my seasonally-enhanced obsession, that I’ve encouraged many people to try it themselves. My favorite follower into the world of December lap dancing was my eighty-year-old grandma.

That’s right, in all her years on earth, she had never done it before, but I encouraged her and well, she practically glowed with joy afterward. And so did the man whose lap she sat on.

Santa actually gave her an extra wink and a candy cane as I recall.

You see, I believe in Santa, or at least I believe in the magic of the season. And from the year I married my hubby, we’ve sought Santa out and warmed his lap and got pictures taken with the jolly old soul. In the photo selection on my mantle every year, there are 22 images. There is one of my son’s first Christmas, one where he is still warm and snug in the womb and I’m about as round as I am tall. There are the years that my daughter calls her awkward, had-pimple years. There are my fat and thin years. Oh, then there’s the bad perm year. My hair was almost as big as I was. Ugg. (Don’t worry, I’m sparing you that one.)

Included in the pictures are the family members who came to visit during the holiday season. Our numerous visitors included my mom, one with my dad accompanied by one of my uncles, who passed away only a week after his visit.

One of my favorite lap-dancing memories and photos is when I took my grandma to the mall and Santa’s lap-placer positioned my grandma on Santa’s lap for the shot. When we walked away, Grandma looked at me with a merry twinkle in her eye and said, “You know, that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever sat on Santa’s lap.” Who knew, I’d get the opportunity to witness one of my grandma’s firsts?

Every year, the photos are part of my seasonal decorations. You would be amazed at how many people take the time to check out our yearly tradition, too. Sure, I know what they are thinking…gosh…look how old Christie’s gotten, or even worse…look at that perm, but hey, I’m proud of each image, because each Polaroid tells a story—fat, thin, bad hair-dos and all—they tell a story of a family.

Anyway, seasonal lap dancing and getting photos to commemorate the occasion are one of my family traditions. Another thing we do is write clues on the gifts under the tree. The receiver has to read the clue and try to guess what’s in the package. We sometimes spends hours coming up with clues that no one can guess. i.e. To my loving husband, who inspired this gift by being jolly but yet hole-y.

Can you guess what it is?

I have a gift under the tree right now from my husband with the note that says… “Because shit happens.”

So help me out here. What do you think it could be? I swear, if it’s another toilet brush I’m returning his sexy Santa underwear (a gift inspired by him being both jolly and hole-y—you know how hard men are on their underwear) that I anticipate he’s gonna love.

So…what are some of your family’s holiday traditions? Come on, share.

Happy Holidays

Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Characters - Aisle 2

One of the questions I get asked most often is where I "get" my characters. That's easy - they're on aisle two at Home Depot. :) Okay, so maybe not on aisle two, but I bet plenty of my characters have graced a Home Depot in their day, even though they might not necessarily be waiting for me to discover them there. Sometimes this question isn't such a hard one. For instance, in the case of my hero/heroine, they are born out of the plot. I have to pick the perfect person to be put in the situation I've dreamed up - usually the worst person possible for the worst situation possible. That's what makes for good conflict.

Secondary characters, though, are a whole different ball game. Sometimes, secondary characters are simply born out of the story like the hero and heroine. Sometimes they're the surprise at the bottom of your cereal box. Ha, got ya. They're not really in the cereal box, but sometimes they will surprise you by just being there in your mind. And I promise, I really don't have a clue how they get there, but I'm glad they do. Then every once and a while, a character is born out of someone you knew. I know, I know, the books always say that any similiarity, blah, blah, blah, but come could we possibly write a book with a character that bears no similarity at all to someone that exists on this planet.

Now, for those of you who've read RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, I'm very happy to report that Maylene is totally a figment of my imagination. That whole thing with the Saran wrap would have scarred me for life if I'd actually witnessed it firsthand. But in the case of UNLUCKY, a version of Father Thomas does (did?) walk this earth (not sure if he's still alive). Thomas wasn't his name and he was Episcopal, not Catholic, but Father T had some definite similarities to the other Father.

Of course, the real problem with using real people for books is not the legal liability. God knows people almost never see themselves as others do, so you're probably safe on that end. No, the problem is that "real" people do things far more ridiculous than we're allowed to do with story people. Story people have to have motivation and that motivation has to translate to actions that make sense - even if only to that character. "Real" people? Well, that's a whole other story.

Take this situation for instance - which is a true story, related to me by my brother, a volunteer fireman in a small town. Volunteer fireman (at least here in my area) are also EMT's and if you're in a small town then you get more runs than the hospital paramedics simply because you're closer, so they have a good relationship with the local hospital paramedics and like to exchange war stories. So my brother's paramedic buddy went on a call that turns out something like this:

Two brothers were sitting at a bonfire outside of their house, drinking beer...apparently WAY too much beer. And one brother decides that he's going to pull the boil off his brother's butt with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. The other brother, being equally as drunk, thinks this is a fine idea. Now, for those of you who don't know, boils are not surface level items - they have roots. So when Bro 1 pulled the boil, he also removed a hunk of Bro 2's butt. So an emergency call ensues.

Now when the ambulance arrives, Bro 2 is bleeding profusely and has a hole in his butt (well, another hole), so they want to transport him to the hospital immediately. Bro 2 refuses the transport. And do you want to know why???????????

Because they weren't going to let him smoke in the ambulance.

I'm telling you, even writers can't make some of these people up.

Deadly (slightly disgusted) DeLeon

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Day in the Life

Hey everyone, please join me in welcoming our guest blogger this week, the fabulous bestselling author Gena Showalter! Not only is she a fantastic author but also one of the most prolific writers I know, writing in paranormal, contemporary romance, young adult, let’s see is there anything she doesn’t write…? She’s also insanely pretty but such a sweetheart I can’t even hate her for it. :) Her new book, Savor me Slowly, the third in her Alien Huntress series, is out next month and I can not wait to read it!
So, take it away Gena…

1 am – Wake up and put puppy out to pee. Try to go back to sleep.
4 am – Wake up and put puppy out to pee. Try to go back to sleep.
7 am – Wake up and put puppy out to pee. Check email. Wish for coffee – remember doctor said it’s a no-no. Surf the Internet.
8 am – Crack down and get to work. Write. Write some more. (Sometimes 5 pages, sometimes 10)
11 am – Go for a walk, think about what has been written and what needs to be written.
11:30 am – Eat lunch. (Usually something terribly fatty, greasy, and wrong.)
12 – Write some more. And some more. Until set number of pages is done. (Usually 5 pages)

As you can see, there’s nothing really glamorous about my writing schedule. I just write. When I don’t want to, when I’m sick, when there’s absolutely no inspiration, I force myself to write anyway. With the rough draft, my goal is simply to get the bare bones on paper. Everything else can be layered in later. What do I mean by layering? Here’s an example taken from Savor Me Slowly:

First Draft (a bit of the language changed for the purposes of this blog):

“Think you can walk?” she asked him.
“Who are you?”
“I’m your new best friend.” She freed him. “Your boss sent me.”
He hissed, bent one leg at the knee. “Broken,” he grunted.
She glanced down. “Gonna make me carry you out, then?”
“Screw you,” he said. At least, that’s what she thought he said. Hard to tell.
Her gaze slid over the rest of him. Could she carry him? She was strong. Her creators had made sure of that, but. . .

Second Draft:

“Think you can walk?” she asked him.
“Who are you?”
His words were slurred, barely understandable. Anger, confusion and uncertainty pulsed from him. “I’m your new best friend, honey.” Within seconds, she had his ankles and wrists free and was jerking him to his feet. “Your boss sent me.” Kind of.
A hiss of agony escaped him, and he quickly bent one leg at the knee, keeping his foot elevated. “Broken,” he grunted.
She glanced down. . . down. . .damn, he was tall. Finally she saw the ankle in question and winced. Broken, yes. Ravaged, most definitely. That ankle was going to make her job more difficult. “Gonna make me carry you out, then?” A challenge meant to goad him into hopping out if he had to.
“Screw you,” he said. At least, that’s what she thought he said. Hard to tell.
Her gaze slid over the rest of him. He was well over six feet of pure muscle and brawn. Could she carry him? She was strong. Her creators had made sure of that, but. . .

First Draft:

“Wh – what do you want?”
“I’ll tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want you to leave.”
Affirmative, the chip informed her.
“I must.”
“Kiss me first.”
“Do not tell me what to do. Ever.”
“That was not a command. Damn it, it was a plea.”
“A kiss won’t change anything. I still have to leave.”
“I don’t care, all right? Since the first moment I saw you, I’ve wondered what you taste like. I have to know.”

Second Draft:

“Wh – what do you want?” Stuttering Le’Ace? You’re a cold-blooded killer.
“I’ll tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want you to leave.”
Affirmative, the chip informed her.
She blinked in surprise. “I must.”
His grip tightened, his fingers digging deep. “Kiss me first.”
While she yearned to obey, commands were not something she would tolerate. Not from him. “Do not tell me what to do. Ever.”
His eyes blazed, an inferno staring up at her. “That was not a command. Damn it, it was a plea.”
Everything inside her softened. “A kiss won’t change anything,” she replied on a wispy catch of breath. “I still have to leave.”
“I don’t care, all right? Since the first moment I saw you, I’ve wondered what you taste like. I have to know.”

To me, the second drafts convey much more emotion and a deeper glimpse into who these people are. (Although I do realize that in posting these some people will actually prefer the first draft version) But there you have it. My writing process. I wanted to post something brilliant, but going without sleep is kicking my butt. I'm off to nap.


Gena's website:
Gena's Blog:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gemma has a blind date

Christie reminded me this week that it’s been awhile since I posted any of my dating exploits. She’s right. Mostly because I haven’t had any. What is it about the cold weather that makes guys hibernate? I swear it’s been so quiet out there on the singles front that I almost flirted with Santa when I sat on his lap at the mall. (Almost.)

But… I am pleased to announce that I have a date this weekend. A blind date. You heard me right. Yeah, I’m that brave. A blind date. As in, sight unseen. As in, he could be anything from Carey Grant to the Guinness Book’s wolf man. Okay, so I have seen pictures of BD Guy. I mean, I’m not that brave. But with the many copies of Photoshop for Dummies floating around, photos can only tell you so much. So, here’s what I know so far:
a) Rides a motorcycle (a little dangerous, but who doesn’t love a bad boy, right?)
b) Very artistic (read, good with his hands. Wink, wink)
c) Great voice (info gleaned through many a phone conversation… oh, which reminds me…)
d) Good conversationalist (very important. Especially if he ends up looking like wolf man.)

So far so good, right? We’re meeting for coffee tomorrow, so I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the dirt next week. I’m just crossing my fingers and praying to the Good Date Gods that he won’t turn out to be a hairy backed wookie (see archived posts – shudder!), a bicycle thief (more archived posts - more shuddering) or married (I just realized what a sad collection my archived posts must be. Oy vey.) .

So, until next week’s episode in Gemma’s date book, here’s one of my finer blind date moments from guys past. It was a couple years ago and I was getting ready to go to a movie with this guy I’d been emailing with for a few weeks. He seemed really nice, down to earth, sweet as can be, and from the few pics he sent even kind of cute. So I had hope. I went over to my best friend’s place to get ready for the date. After we did my hair, nails, selected the right outfit and shoe combo, I was pretty confident that I looked hot. If the date was a bust, it wouldn’t be on my part.

My best friend has a son who was a little guy at the time and, completely uninterested in the girlie stuff going on, had fallen asleep on BFF’s bed. Which is when BFF realized she was out of overnight diapers and, if left unremedied, her bed would resemble Niagara falls in the morning. In a panic, she begged me to pick up some diapers for her while I was out. I tried to get out of it – going on a Pampers run isn’t exactly a huge turn on for single hot guys. But, since BFF had done my hair, I promised her I’d pick something up on my way home.

Luckily for me, the traffic on the way to the theater was really light. So, I got there about fifteen minutes early. And right next door was a grocery store. Woohoo! I could snag the Pampers, stash them in my trunk and my date would be none the wiser. I quickly slipped into the store and scanned the aisles for diapers. Found them, grabbed a pack and headed to the check out line. As I’m walking toward it, I see this guy walking from the other end of the store toward the line, too. And, as he approaches, I get this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yep, you guessed it. It was my date. I looked wildly for somewhere to stash the Pampers, but it was too late. I was caught diaper handed.

“Gemma?” he asked, looking a little unsure, his gaze straying to the diapers. “What are you doing here?”

What could I do? So, I told him about BFF and her little fire hose of a son, trying not to turn bright red as I talked to the hot guy, my baby butt covers in one hand. Let me tell you, I was pretty sure I was topping out on the embarrassment scale.

That is, until I spied the emergency pre-date purchase in his hands.

Anyone have a guess?


Mental forehead smack. So, it turned out to be a very good thing BFF made me go on that diaper run. Otherwise, who knows how long it would have taken me to realize I was out with One Night Stand Guy.

Let’s hope tomorrow goes better.

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh--and boy does his timing suck!

Everyone who lives in the Midwest thinks their state is the one who coined the phrase, 'If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes 'cause it'll change.' But really, it's Iowa, folks. Trust me on this one. And it's never more true than at this time of year. You blink and you go from an Indian summer sweat to shivering in your thermals. And somehow, some way, Mother Nature seems to know when it would be most inconvenient or disruptive or generally most annoying to reach in her bag of weather tricks and conjur up a bit of atmospheric mischief. And she seems to be getting more extreme with each event. Hmmm. Maybe it's her way of getting back at us for global warming...?

Last week I got my revision request from my editor for my May, 2008, release FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS. You may remember the cover. I unveiled it here a few weeks back.

This was the third book I'd written. Since I've written seven--or is it eight--books since this one, there were 'issues' with the book that required significant rewrites. And, as every author knows, the time-frame for revisions is tight. Tummy tucker tight. As in two weeks tight. So, here I am--Christmas time and finals week in my college courses--and the early Christmas present from my editor arrives: a revision letter longer than my college term paper. And revisions must be 'in-house' within two weeks to guarantee ARCs and a Publishers Weekly review op. I slump in my chair. Pout. Email my agent and grumble. Pace the house. Kick the kids a couple times. (Just kidding. They kick back.) Then I sit myself down and give myself a pep talk. "You can do this, Kathy! Why, you're Bullet Hole Bacus, ex-state trooper, mother of multiples, educator of middle schoolers. Heck, you cuffed and stuffed people into squad cars for a living! You're fearless! A sixty-one item revision list? That's nothing. A piece of cake. You'll hardly even break a sweat.

So I email my agent that--barring a natural disaster--I'll make the revision delivery date. Come hell or high water. I imagine you can guess what happens next. One of those, if I was writing it in a book, no one would believe it scenarios. Your basic natural disaster, of course. And a mother of one, at that.

You may have heard of the 'ice event' that hit the plains states earlier this week, bringing with it falling trees, falling power lines, and massive loss of power. They say pictures paint a thousand words. I agree. Unfortunately, in this case, many of those words aren't appropriate for me to include here. Feast your eyes on Mother Nature's artistry:

These were taken from my back yard. The tree
is an apple tree that used to provide shade for my patio. Now it's sitting on my house. The ice-covered line below is a cable line and shows the general condition of my neighborhood. It's pretty much the same across the Midwest where the ice storm hit. In other words, it looks like a war zone. Limbs were cracking and falling to the ground around us. Everything was covered in ice an inch thick.

Now, the idea of a winter storm isn't all that unappealing if you can curl up indoors, warm and toasty, with a glass of hot cider and watch a DVD or read a good book. But when you have extensive revisions due--and trees are falling on your house--and suddenly the power goes off, well, you shift into panic mode. When you spy that three foot long icicle hanging so delicately from the side of the garage, all you can think about is breaking it off and hunting Mother Nature down and beating her over the head with it until it melts.
So, this is the view from my little slice of Heaven today. On the upside, we do have our power back on. The down side? I'll be burning the midnight oil to get these revisions in the mail.
Uh, did I mention that our Post Office is still without power and I'll have to skate to a nearby town to mail my revisions? Where the @#*! is Santa and his sleigh when you need them?
So, to all those folks out there slip-sliding away, I feel your pain. Hmmm. Maybe we should take a contract out on Mother Nature...
After all, we've got an A Number One Assassin right here at Killer Fiction. Sounds like a plan to me.
~Bullet Hole Bacus slip-sliding back into revision hell~

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle Gym, We've Got Fun & Games...

As most of you know, I am a girl scout leader and have been for five years. It is an exceptional organization or I would have nothing to do with it. My only beef with them is the constant level of caution regarding everyday things.

I was looking through the organization's safety manual because I'm thinking of taking my troop abroad when they turn 14 (which makes me practically a terrorist in the Council's eyes). I came across a section devoted to playground safety. And let me tell you - I couldn't make this crap up.

"Girls should not use playground equipment without adult supervision." Okay, I guess that's reasonable if it's a troop event - but most of my playground days were decidedly un-supervised. In fact - I'd find it creepy to be under constant surveillance by an adult at a playground. Aren't there laws about people like that?

"Leaders must teach girls to use equipment properly, safely, and as intended." Um, does that mean I have to demonstrate each piece of equipment for them? I haven't been able to fit my big old but on those teeny slides since I was old enough to play on a playground. Can you picture an adult leading girls from piece to piece, lecturing them on how to use it? I don't know if you've been to a playground recently, but there are a whole lot of thingys there I can't figure out. Fortunately, my kids don't need me to show them as they are ingrained with such knowledge.

"Girls should not run on the playground." Huh? Is it even possible for kids to be at a playground and not run? These days, they can't run at school, recess, the pool, etc. Hell, tag is banned from some schools to avoid injury. TAG?! If you can't run on the playground - where can you run???

"Clothing should be snug-fitting or tucked in to avoid snagging or tangling in any of the playground equipment. Wearing clothing with drawstrings on a hood or around the neck is not permitted." THEY HAVE DRESS CODES FOR PLAYGROUNDS NOW???

"Physical activities are separate from more passive or quiet activities; areas for play equipment, open fields, and sandboxes are in different sections of the playground." Sure, I'll just re-arrange that for you...can you give me a hand lifting this swingset?

"Traffic patterns are clearly separate for individual pieces of equipment." I don't even know what this means!

"The playground does not have rocks, roots, and any other protrusions from the ground that may cause the girls to trip." Are you serious? First I have to demonstrate, then re-arrange the equipment, now I have to overhaul the landscaping? Where the hell were these people when I would skate down my sidewalk (in metal skates requiring a key, nonetheless) and hit a pebble - launching me airborne until I came to a skin shredding stop on the pavement?

Believe it or not, these are only a few of the regulations regarding playground usage for girl scouts. I just didn't want to take up three or four pages. But I think you get my point.

Thank the Nine Muses we don't have that many restrictions in this business. Can you imagine writing without taking any risk? My characters get shot at, attacked by bears, and use circular knitting needles to garrote people.

Hmmm...I wonder what the girl scout council would say about that?
By the way, the photo is of my troop having three-legged the camp. That's right. We live on the edge.

The Assassin

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Friends, Family, Being Likable, & Saying Thank You

This last two weeks, I’ve been amazed by the support of my family, and friends, both the ones I know and the ones who only know me through my book. I feel like Sally Field when she accepted her Oscar speech. “They like me, they really, really like me.”

Sure, I’m a likable person. That is if you use my measuring stick to judge “likable.” And my measuring stick is to judge likability by how a person treats animals.

I’m good to canines. Not only, do I not kick dogs, heck, my husband says he comes second to the real man in my life, my dog Jake. Of course, I denied it, but then hubby pointed out that Jake appears with me in my photo in the back of the book and not him. What could I say to that? Jake wasn’t the one who drove me through the Burger King drive through while I was in labor, or cut holes in my carpet. (See older blogs for those stories)

I’m good to felines. I share my pillow with my favorite cat—but I love all four of the rescued felines. The only reason Bob, my second-favorite feline can’t share my pillow is because he still thinks I’m hiding his mama’s breasts beneath my hair, and at night he sets out to find them. This leads to some very bad hair days, so I force Bob to sleep in the cat room. (Okay, I admit it, I might be a tad vain. Bad hair days set me off. Take off one likable point.)

I’m even good to undomesticated animals. I brake for squirrels. I’m real sorry the car behind me was too close and had to pay to have my bumper replaced, but I'm sure the squirrel was grateful. I even feed possums and coons. (How was I to guess Aunt Sharron’s fruit cake was lethal? But at least we gave the guy a proper burial. That might cost me another point.) I even fed a Great Blue Heron. Inadvertently, anyway. It was sad that it was Goldie, and Freckles, our pet gold fish, that the Blue Heron fed on when he mistook our water garden as an all-you-can-sushi buffet, but I’m working on forgiving the fish-breathed-pet-eating bird. And in spite of my trouble with elephants at the zoo, I don’t slander the big, thick-skinned, perverted, breasts-grabbing bullies, too much. (You can read that story on a past blog, too.)

So…I’m likable if you use the good-to-animals as a measuring stick, but the point is that a lot of my readers don’t know about my animal-loving side. And when strangers started emailing me and telling how they liked my book, well I just assumed the obvious.

The obvious being that some of my kin folks and friends were taking up pseudonyms and pretending to be other people. And yup, those friends and family have been great.

My dad, who is recovering wonderfully and is shown in the picture above, told all his visiting friends and nurses while in the hospital about my book. (And with the hospital gown and all, you'd better be glad I didn't take the picture from the rear.) One of his friends even brought me some pecans as a trade for an autographed copy. Hey, bartering in Alabama is a way of life.

During my autographing in my hometown, my dad’s girlfriend, Faye, worked the streets in downtown Gadsden. While she did look really hot in her pink leather jacket, what she was selling was my book as she herded potential book buyers into the store. I think she even bartered one of my books for some Kettle Corn.

My friend Terry Jennings, owner of Little Face’s Doll Shop in Gadsden, is the one who set up the autographing and made me feel like a hometown celebrity. What a friend!

Then there was a new friend I met at the Houston airport as we both boarded a plane to Alabama. She just happened to be reading Janet Evanovich and I may have mentioned my book and the autographing. (Okay, I gave her my cards, cornered her and wouldn’t let her get on the plane until she agreed to attend my autographing.) What amazed me was that she showed up. Surely, she knew I wouldn’t carry through with my threat to send her my aunt’s fruitcake. Then, there was my jury-duty buddies (another story on my past blog) who showed up at my last Houston autographing.

Yup. I feel well-liked. And I just want to take the time to say thank you. I don’t even care if you really are just all my distant relatives pretending to be fans. I’m so grateful that you are reading my book and my blogs. And please take the time to post a comment. Tell me how you measure likability in a person. Or tell me about someone who made you feel special. We don’t say “thank you” near enough. Oh, and I’m in charge of the gift this time—a nice little thank you from the Dorchester divas here at Killer Fiction. You’ll love all the goodies, too. Also check out Dorchester’s site for a contest for another of my T-shirts.

And again, because we just don't say it enough. Thank you!

Crime Scene Christie

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Christmas Hero

I am married to my very own hero. Of course I thought that even before my husband's eventful Sunday, but I wanted to share with you what happened to him for two reasons. The first (of course) is to brag on how great he is.

He went to a local store, planning to find a new video game to play. He pulled into the parking lot at the same time as an Asian couple in an SUV. The couple hopped out and went into the store while he finished listening to the current song on the radio and then proceeded to disconnect his ipod from the car plug so that he could carry it inside with him. When he was ready to leave the car, he noticed a guy standing next to the Asian couple's SUV, pretending to open the door. He looked around and saw another guy standing across the aisle from SUV guy and yet another standing a couple of cars down the parking lot.

Because my husband's car has very dark tinted windows, none of the men had noticed him sitting there, but he knew they were up to no good. The SUV guy looked over at the guy across the aisle and nodded. My husband looked up the aisle and saw a woman walking down the lot towards her car. My husband knew right then that they were planning on jumping the lady for her purse or whatever they could get and even though he figured he'd get his butt kicked since it was one against three, he had to do something. He jumped out of his car, surprising SUV guy and walked toward him, pretending to ask for directions.

SUV guy tried to get rid of him, but my husband stepped closer pretending to try to show him a piece of paper with directions. At that instant, my husband heard the lady scream and he grabbed SUV guy, face-planted him to the ground and twisted his arm behind his back so that he couldn't move. (My husband has quite a bit of martial arts training). He looked up in time to see the third guy, who he'd thought was a bad guy, pull a gun out, identify himself as a cop and order the guy who'd started to attack the woman onto the ground.

The cop restrained the attacker and headed over to my husband, not really sure what to make of the situation. My husband convinced him that he was a good guy and the cop gave him some zip ties to secure SUV guy. My husband secured SUV guy, the woman was just fine and now two bad guys are going to jail.

The cops were thankful for my husband, but also cautioned him against getting involved in that sort of thing. Hey, it's a double-edged sword, right? But I'm glad he prevented that woman from being terrorized at Christmas.

Which leads me to the second reason for this post and the most important one - This attack happened in broad daylight (3:00 pm) in a crowded parking lot in a nicer area of town. Ladies, please, please do not go anywhere at this time of the year by yourself. Unsavory people are now desperate and the combination of desperation and a single lady is not a good one for the lady. There is safety in numbers and if you can get your husband or a guy friend to go with you, even better. Also, pay close attention to what is happening around you. Make sure you're not followed and watch closely anyone who seems to take more than just a passing interest in your actions.

Stay safe and make this a great holiday season.

Deadly (but married to deadlier) DeLeon

Cool Gift Ideas

Okay, so there is always the toy of the season. And by mid March that toy is usually broken or ignored. Let’s share gift ideas that will stand the test of time!

For the spouse and parents: A DVD montage of photographs you’ve taken throughout the year set to the background of songs that you love or express an sentiment.

For siblings: Did they ever not get a certain toy from holidays past? Shop victoriously on ebay and find them that special gift. Nothing can match the joy of getting a 1980s Holly Hobbie record player -- even if you don't have any vinyl records!

For your kids: Yes, I guess with the kids so you are obliged to get them at least one things the whirs, hums, dings or sings. But I also like to gift something that they’ll still be interested in by the time the ice starts to melt. This year we are investing in a nice big map of the United States. We are going to push pin the places we’ve visited and plan our upcoming family vacations. It is not only educational but hopefully something he will keep up until he goes to college, when it will be full of pins and wonderful memories.

My other favorites this year The Daring Book for Girls and The Dangerous Book for Boys.

From your kids: A handful of hearts. The choice this year come from Sundance. One heart to each grandparent, aunt, uncle and so on, with a hand written note about why he loves them.

For the new parents: If you scrapbook you can pre-make several pages for the baby’s first year with empty places for photos. If you sew or knit a quilt or blanket is a lifetime heirloom.

Share some of your lasting, heartfelt gift ideas.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Leavening with Levity by Colleen Thompson

Please join us in welcoming our very special guest blogger, Colleen Thompson, to KillerFiction!

Take it away, Colleen!

* * * * * *

When Christie Craig initially invited me to stop by the Killer Fiction Blog, I panicked. I’ve read these ladies, and they’re all a riot. But me, I mostly just scare people. Take my brand new release, The Salt Maiden (Leisure, Dec. 2007). It’s the story of a woman's quest to save her missing sister in one of the most desolate corners of the country. With the life of a child hanging in the balance and every second critical, Dana Vanover refuses to let anything stop her, from rattlesnakes to small town hostility to her desert-hot attraction to the sheriff determined to run her out of town. So you see my point. A dying little girl, a deadly desert, and a host of scary poisonous critters are not exactly the components of a day-long laugh-fest, are they?

Even the book’s epigraph, taking from Stephen Crane’s “The Black Riders,” is not exactly a testament to my sense of humor. See what I mean?

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it…

So the book is the three hundred-plus page metaphorical clubbing of a baby seal, right?

Well, no. Not exactly. Because then who on earth would read it? Besides, I’ve found that the darker and more suspenseful my books become, the more they need touches of humor to relieve the tension. Which leads me to thank the muses for the secondary characters that pop up (in real life as well as fiction) in tiny Texas towns. And the animals (including the occasional alcoholic Chihuahua). And most especially, those sexy heroes (oh, yeah) with their smart-ass comments.

I’m far from the first “dark romantic suspense” author who’s figured out it’s fun linking the scariest of thrill rides to the unexpected light moment. Linda Howard is a master of it. Nora Robert/J.D. Robb also does a great job.

Does anyone hear have a favorite example of a book where unexpected laugh-out-loud moments are used to break the tension?

Colleen Thompson

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gramma, Grampa, and the "S" word

Jana’s post this week about her Grandma Heyes made me think a little about my grandparents. My Gramma (we don’t believe in over annunciating in our family) passed away last year, very suddenly. And not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. Of all the people in my family, I think I’m probably most like her, at least I certainly aspire to be. She was also my biggest fan as an unpublished writer, the only other person in the family who ever read romance. When she heard that my first romance book had been purchased, she was absolutely thrilled, hugged me so tight I could hardly breathe. The last conversation I had with her was about my first book, then soon to be published. It was just after Christmas and she was about to head back home to Las Vegas. Just as she was leaving, she gave me a big hug and asked, “When Spying in High Heels comes out, can I read it?”

“Of course!” I said.

She kind of paused. Then pursed her lips together. “No, I mean, should I read it?”

“Of course!” I said again.

She turned pink, then asked. “I mean, will you be embarrassed if I read it?”

My first reaction was, ‘Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.’ But then I saw her turn from pink to puce to positively magenta.

“What I mean is… is there anything… would it be inappropriate… I mean if I read some parts…”

And then it dawned on me. Mental forehead smack.

“No, Gramma. There’s no sex in it.”

After turning burgundy, she did a little sigh of relief, hugged me again, and said she couldn’t wait to read it.

One of my biggest regrets was that she passed before she had the chance. But, I did dedicate that book to her, and I swear I could feel her with me at every single signing I did that year.

My Grampa, however, surprised me by being the first to read Spying when it came out.

I was worried.

It was one thing to have Gramma – a seasoned romance reader – read the scenes between my hero and heroine. Okay, so I didn’t lie, there’s no sex on the page. But boy do the characters talk about it. A lot. And Gramps is not the sexy read kind. Like Gramma, I don’t think he can even say the word ‘sex’ out loud. Know Ward Clever? That’s Gramps. Cardigans, twin beds, when he’s really upset about something says ‘Golly darn!’. This man was going to read my book that opened with a possible unplanned pregnancy, dealt with adultery, porn studios, strip clubs, and murders with condom wrapper clues?

I was very worried.

The first thing I did was yell at Mom for giving him a copy. The second was hold my breath. For two long days I waited for the call telling me I was disowned for even knowing language like that, let alone publishing it. I gnawed my manicure to stubs.

Finally, Grampa came over with book in hand. He said, “I read your book.” Deep pause. He stared at me. His face impassive. His eyes unreadable. It was the longest two second of my life. Then, finally he said, “I had no idea you were so funny.”

I’m pretty sure Leslie and Kathy heard my sigh of relief all the way in Iowa.

Since then, Gramps has bought a dozen of each of my books, and read each one in record time. He’s one of my biggest promoters, buying cases of books, distributing them to family, friends, his barber, the dentist. I’m pretty sure there’s not a person left in town who hasn’t heard of ‘Chuck’s granddaughter’s book’. I’m thinking of putting him on the payroll.

So, this Christmas, I am very thankful for my supportive family and for the fact that, despite many nudges, I have not, in fact, let my characters get any hot sex.

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Seinfeld's about absolutely nothing.

Okay. I admit it. I totally forgot this was my day to blog. Somehow, somewhere, I lost a day this week. Maybe it's due to the fact that this is final exam week in many of my college courses and I'm up to here with term papers, PowerPoint presentations, essay questions and studying in general. Or it could be the fact that I received a revision email from my editor that rivaled my kids' Christmas Wish Lists in terms of length. Such a lovely, unexpected Yuletide surprise... Chris, you really shouldn't have...

Or maybe it was my inability to find a copy of my birth certificate that sent me scurrying to a distant county courthouse to secure said documentation before a snowstorm hit. Or it could be the general malaise that descends on me as the snowflakes (and temperature) falls. Just call me Boo Boo. When winter rolls around, I want to hibernate. Cold weather and I don't mesh. And every year it seems to get worse. I become a human popsicle. A grumpy one.

As I'm typing this Seinfeld blog (it really is about nothing, isn't it?) I'm wearing a set of long underwear, two pairs of woolly socks, jeans, a turtle neck and a hooded sweater. And yeah, the hood is on my head to keep my body heat in. In my effort to keep warm during the long cold winter,
I typically don my longjohns in October and don't take them off (well, except for laundering, of course) until spring. I suppose I should also admit to sitting on a heating pad to keep the ol' posterior toasty warm. On occasion I've even worn those gloves with holes in the ends of the fingers to type. Don't get me wrong. It's not that my house is cold--it's just me. Which accounts for the looks my kids and their friends give me when they see me curled up on the couch, blanket and my laptop to keep me warm.

Earlier this week I went for my yearly well woman exam.

"Are you experiencing any hot flashes yet?" my doctor asked and I stared at him.

"No," I shook my head. "Can you prescribe some for me?" I asked.

Well, folks, it's time to brave the elements and head to class.

Have I mentioned I hate snow?!?

~Bullet Hole Bacus shivering away in Ioway~

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'll Show You Mine if You'll Show Me Yours - Part Deaux

I get enough questions about the books I wrote before I sold to humiliate myself here, on this very blog. As I've learned in this business - very few people sell their first or second books. I sold my fourth complete manuscript - which my agent says is totally average. That's right. I'm totally average. I can handle it. Just as long as my first three manuscripts never, ever, see publication.

Because it might help someone - I will tell you about my first, embarrassing attempts at publication.

Number one - Blackheart. Yes. I tried to write a serious, historical pirate book. Mostly this was because I love historical fiction and have a serious thing for pirates. So, thinking it would be really easy, I tried to pull it off. I made many, many mistakes with Blackheart. First of all, I decided to put the book in Georgian England - a time when piracy was pretty much over. Then, I made my hero a swarthy, bald Frenchman. This is due to a fixation with Yul Brynner and a guy who was in my philosophy of art class in grad school. There was this guy (bald) who had a soft, foreign accent. My friends and I imagined him to be an agent in the Mossad, a displaced Italian Count, something like that. At the end of the year, we were very disappointed to discover his name was Nelson and he was the Venezuelan boy toy of one of the professors. That - and we saw his knees for the first time. He had chicken knees - I'm totally serious - and I don't even know what that means.

Another big mistake I made, was that the first half of the book is virtually all description - and the second half is all dialog. And then there was the question of plot...

I thought I would turn that into the first in a trilogy with the second book taking place in Africa. The hero was a missionary - you heard me right - who was fighting the slave trade. The heroine was the daughter of the slave trader. Uh huh. A Georgian book set in Africa. Riiiiiiiiiiggghhhht. It was going to be Darkheart.

Anyway - after several rejections (for which I am eternally grateful now) I decided to try something else. Silhouette had launched a line of adventure books called Bombshell. They claimed they wanted to put ordinary women in extraordinary situations. So I went with a girl scout leader hiking with two teen scouts in the mountains of Idaho where they have a deadly run-in with white supremacists who are planning to gas the NAACP conference in Boise. Needless to say - it was better than book 1, but still pretty awful. And it turned out that the most successful books in the line were not about ordinary women - but about FBI and CIA agents, etc. More rejections followed suit. The name of this train wreck was My Own Deadly Idaho.

My third book was when I first experimented with comedy. The Adulterer's Unofficial Guide to Disney World (I still think it's a great title) came closer to my true voice. Unfortunately, I'd made several mistakes - the biggest one was that both my hero and heroine were married and having a blistering affair at Disney World. You can just smell the rejections.

Even though no one will ever see these books, they were very important to my learning curve. I learned that I can't write something just because I like to read it. I also learned how to write what I wanted to see, instead of what I THOUGHT other people wanted to see.

So there you have it - the sordid truth behind my success. What's in YOUR closet?

"The Assassin"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Crossing The Line

I’m a writer, and most writers share one common trait. We are in one way or the other willing to take a chance, risk failure, and cross a few lines. Now, I admit, I’m a bit of a line crosser—both in my writing and in my life. It’s just how I’m wired.

My faulty wiring has occasionally landed me in some strange situations. Some good strange, where I got lucky…not that kind of lucky! And some not so good strange like the time I ended up being chased down Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles) by a half-naked drunk man. (But I’ll save that story for another blog.)

Anyway, for this blog, I wanted to tell you about a crossing-the-line/good-day/got-lucky experience. Not that kind of lucky! Well, not exactly that kind of lucky. It did involve some smoldering hot men—yowzy—and there were clothes being removed, but before you jump to any conclusions, remember I’m a southern, very married lady, so let me explain.

My hubby, (see hubby was with me) and I had gone to Galveston, Texas for a seafood dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant, we noticed they were filming Good Morning Houston across the street. That was interesting, but what caught my eye, was the fire truck filled with some very hot men. (And I don’t mean there was a fire around either.) They were almost too yummy to be your average fight-a-fire-Joe. And I just so happened to have my camera with me. So, I thought…hey, I could snap a few shots. Of course, you understand, I was doing it for you, not for myself.

Anyway, I . . . well, I crossed the line. I mean both figuratively and literally. You see they had sort of taped off this section to keep the average public out. But since when did I consider myself average? So I did it. I crossed the line. And then standing on that side of the line, I put my camera up to my eye and snapped a few shots.
Oddly, the strangest thing happened. One of the firemen spotted me. He pointed me out to the other men, and then . . . this is when things got weird . . . all the guys started taking off their clothes.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? I know, I couldn’t believe it either. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed this bizarre occurrence, but no one seemed to think it was strange. So I did what any decent, married, southern lady would have done. I put the camera back to my eye and kept taking pictures. (For you guys…of course.)

My husband, standing on the other side the line started yelling. In all fairness, I didn’t blame him. If the shoe was on the other foot, and he’d been taking pictures of women removing their clothes, I’d have yelled, too. But amazingly, my hubby, being the hubby he is, wasn’t yelling at me to stop, he was yelling to make sure I had enough film. Of course, he knew I was doing it for my blog readers. Gotta love that man.

Anyway, I was snapping shots of firemen undressing and a gentleman came up and interrupted me and wanted to peek at my press pass. You see, the firemen, were part of the 2008 Galveston Firemen Calendar, and they had been expecting a photographer to come out to snap some “sexy” shots. And seeing that I looked professional, and knew my way around a camera, they thought the show was on.

Let me tell you, it was a nice show. And since I was doing all of it for you guys anyway, and considering all the proceeds of the calendar would go to support a children’s fund, well, I thought I’d share.

For more information about the calendar you can check out:

So, there’s one of my cross the line stories. Have you ever crossed a line? Come on, I tell you guys my stuff! And don’t forget, by posting, you will get your name entered in our contest. Did I mention that on December 15th, I’ll be giving away the prize? You will win a Sexy, Suspenseful and Seriously Funny night-shirt, an autographed copy of my book, some humorous note cards, graced with my own Christie Craig pet photography, and a Divorced, Desperate and Delicious mug filled with chocolate. So get busy posting!

For another chance to win a DD&D T-shirt, go to and check out the contest there. And if you still haven’t gotten a copy of Divorced, Desperate and Delicious check out . Read the interview she did of yours truly and enter your name for a chance to win a free book.

Crime Scene Christie