Thursday, January 31, 2008

Looking for Mr. Goodwrench

Unlike Trigger Happy Halliday, I'm not actively looking for Mr. Right. Between kids, school, writing--and life in general--I don't know where I'd squeeze Mr. Right in if I did happen to find him. However, there are times when the idea of having a man around the house is mighty tempting and I find that those times are somewhat dependent on what's occurring in my hectic life at the moment.

For example, during the ice storm several months back when I had tree limbs breaking off and hurling down onto my house, yard, and electrical wires, I had a hankering for a fellow who knew how to handle a chain saw and had access to a wood chipper. Quite the romantic here, huh?
Then, a couple weeks later when my bathroom plumbing was being ornery, the idea of a mate who drove one of those big white vans with slogans on the side like, 'We Come So You Can Go' or 'Be There in a Flush' was majorly appealing.

A few days ago I wished for an in-residence computer whisperer to troubleshoot my wireless. (I'm such a sweet talker. ) I frequently pine for a fellow who is at home in the kitchen--and that includes cooking AND clean up, by the way. And when a fuse blew last week, I was ready for a nice, single electrician to come and check out my wiring.

This week, I'm looking for Mr. Goodwrench. You see, we're a four car family--but this week? We were down to one running vehicle. Here's the deal. When you have new drivers, you tend not to invest in pricey automobiles so that leaves you with 'reliable' used cars that won't cause you to rip your clothing or pull your hair out when 'someone' dings one of the cars. The first car I added to the triplet fleet was a 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis better known as The Blockbuster. With only 53,000 miles--it was supposedly your quintessential 'old lady only drove it to church' bona fide vehicle. It's nickled and dimed me to death. It also sucks to drive on icy roads and gets about eight feet to the gallon so I thought I'd be clever and suspend the insurance until spring. No biggie. We had three other vehicles to share. The next day amid the coldest temperatures we've had in years, my daughter's Buick died. Okay, we're down to two vehicles. Still manageable with a little cooperation and ride-sharing.

The very next day I'm sitting in my living room trying to talk myself out of watching Season Three of Grey's Anatomy when my daughter runs into the house.

"My car's stopped and it's sitting right in the middle of the street!" she says, breathless and red-faced.

"When you say the 'middle'--" I reply and her face gets even redder.

"My car is sideways in the middle of the street!" she yells. "Help!"

That got me moving. I ran to the front door and opened it and looked out. Sure enough, her bright red Chyrsler was taking its share of the road out of the middle. I ran out and jumped in the car and not only could I not get the car started, I couldn't even get it in neutral so we could push it.

"Go call the city P.D.!" I told my daughter. "And a tow truck operator!"

Now, I've had a lot of experience sitting in the middle of highways and interstates before but I always had red lights mounted on the top to turn on so people can like see me before they slam into me. Since I live on a fairly busy highway, I was wishing for those top lights, big time. Eventually the police arrived and the two truck got there and the car was towed off to the repair shop three blocks away. Cost? $40 for three blocks transport. Hmm. Maybe Mr. Right should drive a tow truck.

Now we're down to one vehicle: Mom's little old GMC Jimmy. Fed up, I pull on my Michael Myers coveralls and go out to diagnose the Buick's issues. I jump in the car, shove the seat back, stick the key in the ignition, wiggle the gear shift lever around, turn the key and what happens? The friggin' car starts! Just like that.

Back up to two vehicles. Earlier today we picked up my other daughter's car at the repair shop--and all for the grand, low price of $579.92.

And now you know why I'm looking for Mr. Goodwrench.

So how is your week going?

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now Is The Title Of Our Discontent...

I've had four different people ask me in the last two days how I come up with my titles. Granted, I can't tell if they are being complimentary or smart-assed, but I practice the religion known as Delusion - that way, it's always a compliment. Anyway, I thought I'd let you into my brilliant (or most likely deranged) mind and see the titles I submitted to my fabulous editor (she really is fabulous!) for the last manuscript. And yes, I really did send these to her. Buckle up friends - you're in for a bumpy ride;


(a variation could be; PEOPLE ARE TARGETS, WHEN YOU'RE A HITMAN)

HERE ON KILL AGAIN ISLE (a nod to bad tv themes. I also came up with THAT'S THE WAY THEY BECAME THE BOMBAY BUNCH)


ONE KILL MAKES YOU SMALLER (a little Jeff. Airplane/Starship/whatever)

I'VE GOT KILLS - THEY'RE MULTIPLYING (did you know GREASE is the top box office movie musical ever?)

HOMOCIDE IS PAINLESS (ok, a little obscure since most people didn't know M*A*S*H's theme song actually had words)



THE GUN WILL COME OUT, TOMORROW (a perversion of ANNIE - just because)

IT'S ANOTHER I'LL KILL YA SUNRISE (who doesn't love the EAGLES?)

SOMEONE TOOK THE HIT OUT IN THE RAIN (MacArthur's park...anyone? Anyone? Okay, I'm officially old.)


I KILLED HIM MY WAY (It's Frank's world - we just live in it.)

So there you have it - you've looked into the mind of a demented writer and lived to tell about it. Please restore your seats and tables to their upright position and have a nice day, wherever your final destination may be...

By the way - I'm always looking for new titles! Give me one I can use and I'll send you a signed copy of my latest book - GUNS WILL KEEP US TOGETHER!

The Assassin

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What the Heck is the Name of that Plumber, Anyway?

CatsLady, Jeanette, And Terry,

You three have won a set of note cards, please email me your addresses at,

Thanks for posting!

Crime Scene Christie

Contest…Contest: Do you know the name of the plumber?

Wait, after last week’s blog about the unnamed husband’s plumbing disaster, you might think there’s been more calamity going on here at the Craig house. But nope. Well, I take that back. There is always some kind of fiasco going on here.

Just this morning, my son forgot to tell me that he’d let his pet rats loose in his bathroom... “to stretch their legs,” he says. Like rats really need to have their legs stretched. Anyway, I opened the bathroom door to check out unnamed hubby’s caulking handiwork, and the Craig cat clan accidentally slipped into the bathroom.

A bit later, Son finds bathroom door open and all four cats hanging around the john with no sign of the pet rats. The Craig household goes on emergency-mode looking for the pet rodents. (Even the cats seem to get into it. Although, I’m worried they might know exactly where the rats are.) Anyway, it’s sort of like an Easter egg hunt but with live eggs…eggs with beady eyes, and a long bald tails. Okay, you might guess that I’ve never been a rat fan, so I’m not actually crying, or even participating too much in the hunt.

Ten minutes later, I’m with an upset son who is one rat shy of a pair. Then, upset son notices that one of our felines is looking contentedly lazy, licking her whiskers like she’d just devoured a full meal . . . sort of a feline-after-thanksgiving look.

Immediately, Son starts looking at me like I’m a rat killer. I start feeling like crap, not because I opened the door,(hey, he should have told me) but because, down deep, I’m secretly happy at the rat’s demise. Anyway, guilt-ridden, I went into full find-rat mode. I discover the missing rodent trying to become one with the toilet plunger in the bathroom. Smart rat, I mean, who would eat anything that had that kind of a relationship with a toilet plunger? Definitely, not one of my felines who are accustomed to their Fancy Feast served in their crystal bowls, mind you.

So, back to the plumber question and the contest. I’m not talking about just any plumber. I want the name of the plumber in my book, Divorced, Desperate and Delicious. Remember Lacy’s friend Kathy who stated the plumber was looking at her as if… “He wanted to clean out her pipes?” Yup, that plumber.

Now, here’s the reason for the question. You see, I’ve gotten numerous emails, wanting to know if I was going to write Jason and Sue’s story and if I was going to write Kathy’s and . . . “the plumber’s” story. My readers remember Jason’s name, they even remember the dog’s name…(Of course, Fabio is sort of memorable) but the plumber is shafted.

As it works out, I’m about to start working on his and Kathy’s story, and every time I picture Nameless Plumber in my mind, he’s standing there, arms crossed over his very nice looking chest, (imagine nice biceps muscles, a flat abdomen slightly rippled with muscles) but . . . he's looking at me like . . . much like my son did when he called me a rat killer. Then, because I always attempt to talk to my characters, I asked him what his problem was. Nameless Plumber says, “My problem? I’ll tell you my problem! You made me, and not only did you give me a crappy job of being a plumber, but you must have done a terrible job of creating me, because no one even remembers my name.“

Anyway, I’m trying to make it up to the poor, nice-looking fellow by running a contest. (I also promised him that I’d make sure he had some really hot sex in the book.) I’m giving away a pack of special note cards—not just any note cards, but cards with photographs taken by yours truly that showcase some of the Craig household pets—to the first person who can tell me the plumber’s name. Then I’ll do another drawing on Wednesday of anyone who posts a comment, and give a second set of cards away. So, go ahead, make the plumber’s and my day, and find me that plumbers name and post some comments.

Crime Scene Christie . . . who while doesn’t like rodents, is not a rat killer.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Forensic Psychopathologist

Please join me in welcoming our guest blogger today, Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark. Not only is she knock-em-dead gorgeous, but she’s spent years studying the criminal mind. So, she should fit right in here at Killer Fiction! Take it away Cynthia…

Thank you, Gemma. Hi, I’m Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark a Forensic Psychopathologist as well as a writer. Like many of you, I have done a myriad of jobs. The interesting thing is that sometimes one of those short term jobs aids me in Forensics. It’s cool because you never know what knowledge will be of use to you later.
Among the things I do as a Forensic Psychologist is profiling. Who is the mastermind behind the series of crimes? Who is robbing those banks? Who is that Judge
in your traffic Court and how can I win that ticket? Well you get the picture.
How do I or any profiler profile? Here are the basic steps:

We look at the crime Scene information:
Police reports
Location of body
is anything missing?
Is the scene neat or messy crime scene?

This information gives us some insight into the type of person we’re looking for. For example, if the scene is messy you may be looking for a disorganized killer or someone who acted in haste or passion. Now that is not always true, but you go with your initial impressions and then refine your profile as you obtain more information.

Next you check out the neighborhood composition
Rural or urban
Hidden or open body
Buried or out in open
in home, etc.
Composition of area (neighborhood)

This can tell us whether we are dealing with gangs, a serial killer, as well as more information as to who our killer is or who our “perp” is.

When the crime involves a death we ask to see the medical Autopsy for the
Mode of death

This tells us a lot of things. 30 stab wounds tell us rage, anger. Strangulation could tell us multiple things – rough sex, murder by hand, by an item in the home such as a belt or scarf. Or was it his belt? Or if killer a she, her belt? And in Gemma’s case, a high heel – these items could tell us that our vic disturbed a robbery in progress or maybe she was the target of a hit. We are still thinking of theories at this point.

We now look at the crime investigation:
Fingerprints, etc.

What did the CSIs find? DNA is great if found. Fingerprints are hard to find in real life. Many surfaces just do not hold them. Then we have to wait for processing which in the real world takes way longer than TV’s hour.

Once we have checked out the scene, evidence, death, we look at the victim or victims themselves. Who are they (were they). This helps us figure out in the case of a serial killer, his/her pattern. In the case of a single murderer, the why. Sometimes the why is not straight forward and we get the why to the best degree we can.
Who is/was our victim?
What are their physical traits:
Physical Description (height, weight, hair, eyes, etc.)
Clothing last worn

Clothing is important because it gives us a clue to what the victim had been doing just before the murder. Lack of clothes gives us more clues – sex crimes clues. Missing clothes gives us clues as well. What is missing – panties versus jacket.

Then we look at more personal information:
Marital Status:
Adjustment - happy, problems, etc.
Divorce, current or past
Friends, enemies

Marital status, because we look to the spouse current or divorce since so many do commit crimes against their partner. We check to see what people thought of them. This gives us more insight not because we want to think less of say a street walker but because a street walker could be killed by a john or pimp, a high class hooker could be killed by a rich john like a politician or pimp and we need a direction to look, We also need any known enemies, always a good place to start. A known stalker -- good suspect or good witness.
And we have to probe deeper into their life Style:
Alcohol, drugs
Normal daily activities
any recent changes

Drugs, obviously a deal gone badly. Alcohol, well she could be a victim of a GHB rape gone badly, things like that. And of course, if she went to the gym everyday, but a week ago stopped, I would want to know why. That becomes suspicious behavior not on her part but on her life and maybe someone at the gym.

Then we look at their interests

We learn more about our victim. Who they were. How/where their path crossed with their murderer.

Of course we need to check out their occupation:
Special training

More of who were they. But it also tells us if their work took them into gang territory, if they were a DA, or had a dangerous job, had been with the CIA, or some such. Frequently, that plays into the crime. But not always. Sometimes they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

How much education do they have?
Years in school
Schools attended
Intelligence (IQ)

This gives us a feel for them. Were they a Doctor or a secretary? Could they have met their killer in school?

Then we delve into their demographics:
Past residences
Neighborhood composite

What kind of neighborhood? Gangs? Problems with neighbors or landlords? There could be suspects here.

What is our victim’s medical history?

This gives us an overall picture of our victim. More of who they were. Any terminal conditions that might have led to suicide?

Who were they psycho sexually?
Sexual history

More information as well as clues to whether this is a sex crime.

We look at their court history if any:
Past court cases
Pending cases?

Again, any obvious enemies.

To the best that we can duplicate, what were the last activities of victim?

Where were they?
School? Home? Work? Shopping?
Route taken (if not home)?
Friends, acquaintances?
Social activities?
What does the residency look like?
Where is the crime scene?

With all of our victim information, we can profile our victim. With evidence, a feel for our victim, and a dash of intuition we can make our declarations on both the victim and the perpetrator.

Armed with this info and your basic characteristics we can profiler your criminal:
As to their:

Age range
possibly race, but not necessarily
Employment history and type can be surmised
Arrest record or whether they probably have one
Predicting whether "he" will strike again and possibly where or the
Type of location he/she will hit again
Sex of the offender
marital status
Sexual history
how and sometimes even where to catch him/her

I have made references to murder but the same process works for arson, burglary, stalking, or any crime. The process is the same.
Education, work experience, and intuition make for an excellent profiler. In the beginning of this Blog I mentioned that having a myriad of jobs can be helpful. True. As a former cocktail waitress I can talk booze with witnesses if need to get better information. As an EMT/Paramedic I know when someone is not telling me the truth medically, or enough to question something that does not make sense, or medications – what they are really given for versus what someone claims they take the meds for. Many of my jobs give me a place to just bond with someone and that bonding gives me more information than questions. But each case is different and each case is decided right then and there as to which direction of investigation will be used.
Profilers can use their expertise to profile any person as a study, as I mentioned in the beginning for example in court – to know how to present a case in a way more likely to win. How to choose a jury. To know if a person is telling the truth.

Forensic Psychology can also involve testing, evaluation, expert witnessing, suicide autopsies, life strategy, and child custody.
I have given expert testimony in a capitol case, been involved in cases with serial killers on death row, mass murderers too. I have been involved in cases to release two individuals from prison, who a) one should never in my opinion been there, and 2) had served a fair sentence and was now serving an overkill sentence. Both have been released!
I have conducted suicide autopsies, worked in child custody cases, and have indeed worked for defendants in traffic court!
Generally, I work to reinforce those who are on death row although I have taken some cases where I thought there had been a miscarriage of justice, I have also profiled serial killers as they were killing and their identity was unknown.
The one I had the most “fun” with was one who was getting ready to get caught. You can tell that by changes in the scene, sloppiness, etc, So, I predicted that he would be caught on a Tuesday, in a public way, daylight – I even went further to say around noon, and he would be he own undoing. Now, there were certain clues to some of that, but not all, not noon. He had killed 5 at that point. Then 2 more. And then it was Tuesday. Everyone looked to me. I said wait. And, at approximately, 8 minutes after noon he mooned a police station, threw out beer bottles and drove off. The police went in pursuit of the mooning drunk to catch out serial killer. Tuesday, around noon, in a public way and place.
Now when it comes to serial killers it’s not that easy usually. You have to factor in their pattern and their trigger. Their trigger -- that’s one for another day ;). But a trigger for a serial killer is an event that begins their rampage like the death of their mother or some such.
If you have any questions feel free to email me….
And if you attend this year’s RWA Conference in San Francisco, check out my Sociopaths vs. Psychopaths and Serial Killers seminar and say hi!


Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Details, details...

I'd like to welcome Jenyfer Matthews as our guest blogger today. You may recognize her name. She's a regular poster on Killer Fiction. Her wit and opinions have been so appreciated by all of us here at Killer Fiction. Jenyfer is also a writer. So take it away...Jenyfer!

From time to time I am asked what sort of research I do for my books. Honestly? The last time I did any serious book research I was writing a term paper on the Suez Canal Crisis for a political science class I took in college. I really prefer to rely on personal experiences embellished by my imagination. Fortunately for me, my interest lies in writing character driven stories in contemporary settings so I can get by with that.

It’s not that I’m totally lazy about doing research (though there is that). I like to think of research as a watercolour painting, where the research details provide brush strokes of color and atmosphere and the characters are the main focus. And as a rule, I find it much more fun to do my research firsthand when practical.

Since living abroad I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively and I’ve tried to be open to new experiences along the way - because you just never know what will inspire you later. I’d tell you about the time I ate “happy pizza” in Cambodia but I don’t want to incriminate myself (*) and…um…the details are a tad fuzzy. Instead I’ll tell you about a spa night I enjoyed this week with my friend.

Dedicated as I am, I accepted my friend’s invitation purely for the sake of research and my relentless pursuit of collecting realistic detail for my writing. (Hmmm…wonder if the IRS will buy that as a deduction?) Treatment of choice? Moroccan bath.

Moroccan baths are sometimes done communally, but this was a private event - well, just me and my attendant. Upon arrival at the spa, I was taken to a changing area where I traded all of my clothes and modesty for a towel and some flip flops – then sacrificed those ten steps later, inside the treatment room. It’s hard to maintain any dignity laying naked on a tile table, no matter how lovely the mosaic work is. After a short time in the steam, the attendant came back and slathered me from head to toe with gritty goo and then rinsed me off. She then began to scrub every inch of me with the loofah mitt I had purchased on arrival - between my fingers and toes, behind my ears and even my face (thankfully more gently!). It’s both gross and fascinating to see the rolls of gray, dead skin lying on the table. I might have politely ignored the detritus of the scrub but the attendant was quite proud of what she’d accomplished and insisted that I admire it too. Since she didn’t speak English and my Arabic vocabulary doesn’t extend to these sorts of situations the entire session was conducted with taps, pokes, hand gestures and facial expressions. She massaged me as she did the final soap down – and cracked all of the joints of my fingers and toes! She then washed my hair and once again showered me off. I began to feel as my own children must feel when I’m bathing them.

(Except that if I tried the loofah-mitt-knuckle-cracking routine on my children I’m sure that they would object. At top volume.)

Now, what exactly I’ll do with the details of this experience, I’m not sure. I may use it in my current WIP – my heroine is traveling and will be making a stop in Cairo. Steam, water, nudity - just think of the potential for fun in this scene! And surely kinder to my character than afflicting her with a case of the chicken pox, as my children afflicted me last summer. Though I am determined to use that experience sometime. I might as well get something out of that episode other than residual pock marks…

(*) Applicable laws vary by locale!


Friday, January 25, 2008

The one that got away… thank God.

One thing about dating is that it can be really hard on your ego. I’m a reasonably attractive person, have a pretty nice career going, pay attention to personal hygiene, floss regularly, wear killer shoes. Quite honestly, I thought I was a bit of a catch before venturing out into the world of men. But, once in awhile, I meet a guy that makes it hard for me not to take things personally.

For instance, this one guy who wrote to me through an online site. He could spell, used caps appropriately, had a nice headshot. I clicked on his profile. Turns out he’s a former extreme sports competitor turned film actor. Niiice. I’m a sucker for the artistic types (especially ones with extreme sports muscles!), so I’m getting a little excited. I’m wondering – why’s he still single? Articulate, cute, an actual working actor (with pics of himself with celebrities! Not bad!). I read on… and when I click on his full body shots I see the catch. He only has one leg. Just the one. I’ll admit, at first, it was a little jarring. But, after I really took a good look at his smile, I realized, so what? I’m a pretty open minded gal and true loves comes in all shapes, right? Minus one leg doesn’t mean he’s any less of a catch. And, as one of my critique partners pointed out, “He's kind of like a romantic pirate. And think of the benefits! Handicap parking at the mall! If he tries to get away, he can’t run very fast! He’ll never kick you!” Okay, so I think maybe she was half joking. But, I’m dead serious about this finding Mr. Right thing. And, honestly, one little leg is a pretty insignificant detail compared to maybe finding my soulmate, right? So, I clicked on the little “reply’ button and wrote back to him, sending him a cute little message and a couple pics of myself. And settled in to wait for his reply asking me out.
And wait.
And wait.
He never writes back.
Yes, gals, I was rejected by the One Legged Man.

But, I’m trying to stay positive and carry on in my quest for Mr. Right, semi-wounded ego and all. Last week I met a very cute personal trainer (cut!) with the most gorgeous pair of blue eyes you ever saw. Still waiting for that elusive second date, but I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and he has two legs!

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Thursday, January 24, 2008

To Read or Not to Read

I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. And if you are reading this blog, odds are you love to read, too. Doesn’t everyone love a good book, you’re asking? According to a number of pretty scary studies, apparently not.

So, just what do the studies show? Let’s take a look. But, be warned, it’s not a pretty sight.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a 99-page report titled To Read or Not to Read and the results are sobering.

Did you know that according to this study:

-- In 2002 barely half of Americans ages 18 to 24 read a book voluntarily.

-- From 1992 to 2003 the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees and “proficient in reading prose” dropped from 40% to 31%.

-- Since the 1990’s the number of 17 year-olds who “never or hardly ever” read for pleasure has doubled.

-- 72% of high school graduates are deemed deficient in writing in English.

-- Money spent on books dropped 14% from 1985 to 2005 and has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s.

I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Okay, it’s downright depressing. On so many levels. As a parent, student, author, and American, this data is scary.

There is some good news:

-- Reading comp scores for 9 year olds have risen since the 1990s.

-- The teen fiction market is expanding and growing, in part likely due to the success of Harry Potter.

We can only hope these young readers continue to find fun and entertainment in reading as they grow older.

And more good news…of a somewhat unrelated nature:

-- I finally figured out who the villain is in my latest Calamity Jayne book.

-- The temperature is supposed to get into the thirties by the weekend after hitting -25 wind chill this week.

-- I mailed my galley off today.

And—insert big whoo hoo here--I’m still decaffeinated! No caffeine. No soda pop. How on earth will I get this book done?

So, any good news (or bad news if you prefer) you’d like to share this week?

Gossip would work, too.

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't It Go To Show, You Never Know...

Well, the big day is almost here - my second book - GUNS WILL KEEP US TOGETHER - comes out Monday! There's something a little surreal about your second book. That's when it hits you that you have raised the bar too high for yourself to get over. . .ever. . .again.

Nice cover, eh? My publisher - Dorchester - totally rocks. Although the placement of the gun might cause a little distress should it misfire in his boxers. But that's a risk with Dak Bombay I'm willing to take.

That's right. Dakota Bombay is a real person to me (and apparently he has a really nice back, a hot little tribal tattoo, and very questionable taste in underwear) - as are all of the Bombay Family members. I know that may sound weird to non-writers, but it's true. We see our characters as real. If they took actual physical form, Gin would be one of my best friends and my Mom would be adept at throwing daggers. And she'd look adorable doing it in one of her little denim jumpers and a blouse with a peter pan collar.

I don't know about anyone else, but some of my characters are based on real people. Carolina Bombay is my mother and yes, she does buy me barrettes with my name on them. In fact, this xmas - I got a Pug purse from her. And no, I'm not twelve.

Romi is based on my own daughter - Margaret and Louis in the new book is completely stolen from my friends' son, Ian. Of course, in order to stop the incessant whining, I had to put my son, Jack in book three, along with Ian's brother, Conor, so it can get crowded in my head. Sometimes the real people bicker with the fictional folk. That's when I reach for a bottle of wine. (Red works best because white wine just causes fisticuffs.)

As for myself? Well, a lot of people assume I'm Gin Bombay, but that isn't necessarily true. Gin is kind of a conglomeration of a number of women I know and love. I suppose there's some of me in there. There's also a little bit of me in Diego, Dak, Liv and yes, even Coney Island. And no, I'm not schizophrenic. At least, I don't think I am. ("Yes! You are!" "No! You're not!" "Shut up all of you!!!")

Well, it's back to work for me. I hope you enjoy the second chapter in the Bombay Family's Greatest Hits series. I'm off to torture and torment the rest of the family.

"The Assassin"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Drip, Drip, Drip!

Things are a little crazy at the Craig house. I know, I know…things stay pretty crazy at the Craig house. But, you see, it’s raining. And I don’t mean outside, wait…it is raining outside. But it’s also raining in my living room.

Not a big downpour but a constant, steady, every increasing, drip…drip….drip, coming down from four, maybe five different spots.

It started nine days ago. Imagine me coming downstairs first thing in morning, looking totally put together, makeup on, dressed to kill, thirty pounds lighter. (Okay, I never look like that in the morning, but believe me, it’s a much better picture than the truth, and since you were imagining…) Anyway, as soon as I step into my living room, I see it. A small puddle of liquid between my sofa and the coffee table.

Now, you know, we have animals, right? So you can guess my first thought, can’t you? Someone tiddled. So I do what I’m sure you would do if you were in my situation. I yelled for my husband to come down and clean it up. He’s the one on tiddling duty. (We use to have the “who saw it first” rule. But I learned real quick that men never notice crap like that. So I made a new rule. I don’t clean up tiddle. I mean, I cook and write, therefore I don’t do tiddle or other unexpected surprises.

Anyway…before husband arrives on the crime scene, I hear it. Drip. Drip. Drip. It’s coming from the heating vent in the ceiling. Hmm…this isn’t just tiddle.

And I know I’m in for a world of trouble.

You see, my husband considers himself a Mr. Fix it. Don’t tell anyone but the truth is he can’t stand dishing out the bucks for someone to do a job that he’s certain he could do himself. And don’t get me wrong, my husband is a multi-talented man—at some things. Yes, he’s inspired a lot of my scenes in my romance novels, but can I just remind you about his carpet-cleaning talents?

So here’s sort of barebones overview of how things have gone and where we are at right now. P.S. It’s written in the third person to protect the guilty.

Day One: Unnamed Hubby claims what was once thought of as tiddle is just due to the wife’s son (notice how said son is only related to the wife whenever things aren’t good) because he took a shower without closing the shower doors. Sofa is moved, and a bowl is placed to catch drip.

Day Two: Drip…drip…drip. Wife claims that it has to be more than leftover shower spill. Hubby claims he’s in charge of drip duty and proceeds to move furniture and caulk bathroom tub.

Day Three: Drip…drip…drip. Faster drip. Drip morphs into two different drips coming from two different places of heating vent. Hubby, a very intelligent man, has an answer to that problem also: he puts another bowl on the floor and a plastic tarp to catch overflow drips. But wife does see concern on hubby’s face that maybe…just maybe he’s wrong. He’s really scared. Not of wife, but because he knows wife is taking notes and pictures for her blog.

Day Four: The worse thing happens. Drip continues and hubby admits he’s wrong. But does he call in a professional? Oh no. He sets out to investigate the cause of the drip. Bad…bad idea! His policy? Never let a little sheetrock come between him, a wanna-be plumber, and a leaky pipe. Hubby puts a hole through the wall of the son’s closet to see bathtub pipes. All is dry. Drip increases. What is wanna-be plumber’s fix to that problem? Another bowl is added to the living room floor.

Day Five: Wanna-be plumber puts a hole through sheetrock in guest bedroom’s closet to see master bathroom’s bathtub pipes. All is dry. Drip is dripping faster. Another bowl is added to floor and wife is given bowl duty during hubby’s work hours to empty containers of water.

Day Six: Three holes are made in living room ceiling to see if hubby can find where the leak is coming from. Hubby discovers there is a floor between the ceiling and the second story that prevents him from seeing exactly where the leak is coming from. Wife suggests hubby call in a professional…again. But no, wanna-be plumber is certain he has the answer.

Day Seven: Drip…drip…drip is increasing in tempo. Three additional holes are made in upstairs hallway to see if hubby can spot any signs of a leaking pipe. No leaking pipe. But Eureka, hubby finds a wet spot. (See ! He could be a plumber after all!) But it’s late and drip is increasing. Wanna-be plumber resorts to putting a large bucket on living room floor and decides to further investigate tomorrow night.

Day Eight: Bucket is full. Fifteen holes are made in sheetrock. Leaky pipe still not found. But wanna-be plumber is certain it will only take a few more holes before he finds the leaky pipe. Wanna-be plumber still refusing to call in a professional. Wife wonders who is going to replace sheetrock. Wanna-be plumber claims to know a thing or two about sheet rocking. In other words…more blogs to come.

So…that’s what’s going on at the Craig house. Any crazy stuff happening in your world? Anyone know a good plumber and sheetrock person in the Houston area? Hey, I’ve put my foot down, I’ve limited him to 20 holes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teri Thackston

Please help me welcome guest blogger, Teri Thackston—a darn good writer, and equally a warm person. Take it away Teri!

A reviewer once asked why so many romantic suspense books include a hero who’s some kind of cop. Good question. We do use law enforcement officers in our books quite a bit. Police detectives, Texas Rangers, FBI agents, Deputy U.S. Marshals (my personal favorite) seem to draw us as writers. But why?

I believe it’s because they draw us as women, as well. My theory is that as women we want a truly heroic type of man in our stories of love and suspense. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other occupations that are heroic (firemen, soldiers, wilderness rescue teams…is it getting hot in here?). Other heroic types include teachers and public defenders and paramedics. Such people—male and female—commit heroic acts every day in real life, and they populate many romantic suspense novels as well. But there does seem to be a high percentage of heroes who work in some branch of law enforcement.

I think that what many of us—as readers—really want in a hero is a man who lays his life on the line for the sole purpose of protecting or rescuing someone else. Who better than a cop? And when the someone else he’s saving is our heroine…well, what woman doesn’t dream of being rescued or protected by a sexy Deputy Marshal or FBI agent? The dream can be even better when the heroine rescues the hunky hero! What rousing—and arousing—good fun to lose ourselves in such fictional fantasies.

We want to create heroes who will catch the notice—and hearts—not only of our heroines, but of our readers, too. So, fellow readers and writers, what do you think? What makes a man heroic to you? What do you want your hero to do to earn his pay—as well as the heroine’s love?
Check out Teri's website:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

IN DEFENSE OF MYSTERIES, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Please join me in welcoming guest blogger Lauren Baratz-Logsted! She’s one of my sistahs at the Knight agency, and, in addition to being a complete sweetheart, her books are just plain fabulous! Seriously, not to miss. When I read the premise for her latest, Secrets of my Suburban Life, I snorted coffee all over my keyboard. It’s that good. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. (Making a trip to Borders today!) So, take it away, Lauren…


Seems like I’m always defending something. While pursuing my half-Master’s in Literature, I defending on separate occasions both Sir Philip Sydney and Maeve Binchy. (Make of that what you will.) And I’ve famously, or maybe infamously, defended Chick-Lit. Well, since the chain bookstores chose to classify my Victorian erotic suspense novel, VERTIGO, under “Mysteries and Thrillers,” and since my brand-spanking-new Young Adult novel, SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE, is what I would call a sort-of mystery, guess what I’ll be defending next?

(SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE, by the way, is about a teen named Ren D’Arc whose novelist mother is crushed to death by a stack of Harry Potter books. In the aftermath of this unique tragedy, Ren’s father moves her from NYC to Danbury, CT, where Ren becomes involved in a sort-of mystery centering on an online predator – OK, obligatory self-plug over!)

During the days I worked as a bookseller and buyer at Klein’s of Westport (1983-1994), there was a woman who used to come in, a little slip of a thing with a black helmet of hair and thick glasses, who used to buy paperback mysteries at the rate of ten a week. She was like a crack addict, always having me put her purchases quickly into a brown paper bag like she was buying a fifth of Jack Daniels. (Why, yes, I am mixing my substance-abuse metaphors.) Back then, at least in my early years there, reading mysteries was considered a somewhat shameful thing, a lesser literary pursuit. I’ve never been sure why it was that way, but that perception changed with the advent of the popularity of Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky and Patricia Cornwell; really, I’d say it was mostly the ladies who pulled the genre up.

The thing is, genre fiction, all sorts of genre fiction, has always suffered at the hands of the literary elite. You only need look at the fact that romance is the only genre not represented in the New York Times Book Review by having a regular column devoted to it to see how deep some of these prejudices still run.

And yet…and yet…what’s wrong with mystery and romance? Don’t we all want romance in our lives? Doesn’t mystery underlie everything in those lives? And don’t books, all books, contain a certain element of mystery to them – the compelling question driving the story, “And then what happened next? And then what happened next? And how is this all going to turn out???”

We humans, I think, often, all too often, deride the things we desire most and hold most dear. It’s a shame, really. It’s like if a thing is pleasurable to us, or talks to us deeply, we have to feel guilty about it, make fun of it.

So here’s today to all the women – and men! – who toil in the genres, particularly mysteries, despite the slings and arrows, providing their readers everywhere with both entertainment and enlightenment. And here’s to no more brown paper bags.

Now, everybody…go out and buy my book! (Sorry, but if I didn’t try to self-plug at least one more time, I would hate myself in the morning.)

Be well. Don’t forget to write.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot firmly inside of it…

In conjunction with the release of the Dreams & Desires Vol. 2 anthology (available February 1st!!), I’m sponsoring an online Bachelor Auction, where I’m auctioning off a virtual date with five uber hot cover models.

All proceeds from the auction will go directly to benefit victims of domestic violence, so please help support an amazing cause while winning yourself a handsome hunk!

The prize:
Each bachelor has put together a prize pack of personalized items to send to the winner, plus, if you win the auction, you will be invited to an exclusive online Valentine’s chat party, February 16th (Sat) at 1pm PST/3pm EST, where your bachelor will accompany you as your virtual date!

Here’s how the bidding works:
1. go to my website and pick out the perfect bachelor for you
2. send an email to with the word “Bachelor Auction Bid” in the subject line
2. In the body of the email tell me a) which bachelor you’re bidding on and b) how much your bid is
3. check back here to make sure you haven’t been outbid!

Bidding will run from Jan.15th – Jan.31st
Happy bidding and good luck!!

Now, considering it would be bad form to bid on my own auction, I’m still getting my dates the hard way. This week I met a new guy. Didn’t know much about him beforehand, but his pictures looked decent, he could string a few sentences together in a pleasing way, and he had a house on the beach. (Always a plus!) So, Beach Bum asked me out for coffee on Wednesday at this little place around the corner from my house. Perfect. Wednesday arrives, I do the hair and make-up thing and arrive at the coffee place a few minutes early. Always prepared, I pull out the Nora Roberts book I’m currently making my way through and settle in to read a few pages while I wait. Points for him that he didn’t leave me waiting long. He shows up, he’s actually better looking than his photos (that never happens!), sits down and apologizes for being late. More points. Wow, his score is rising rapidly. Then he takes a look at he book I’m reading and asks how it is. I respond with, “Good plot, but it’s a little slow going for me.”

He smirks.

Beach Bum: “Aren’t all those kind of books sort of like that?”

Me: “Those kind of books?”

Beach Bum (still smirking): “Yeah. She writes those really…” (scrunching his nose up like he’s smelled bad cheese) “… girly books, right?”

Me (trying to maintain a poker face): “ Those girly books?”

Beach Bum (thinking he’s so clever, smirking taking over entire face): "You know, those trashy romance kind.”

(Did you hear that? It was his stock plummeting lower than the recent Dow Jones.)

Me: “You know, before you go any further, you should probably know that I’m a romance writer. I write those kind of books for a living.”

Beach Bum laughs. Then sees my deadpan face.

Beach Bum: “Wait, you’re serious?”

Me: “Like a heat attack.”

Beach Bum goes red, smirk vanishes as he attempts to pull his size twelve boot out of his mouth.

Beach Bum: “Oh. Well, uh, that’s cool. That’s... wow, you write books. That’s great. That’s…” (picking up the Nora Roberts, examining it closely now) “…wow. That’s amazing, you’re an actual author. I’d love to read one.”

My turn to smirk.

Me (extracting Nora from his hands): “I don’t think so. You’re way too…” (I scrunch my nose like I’ve smelled his gym socks) “…guy for my books.”

Score one for the Girly Girls.

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday

Have red pen...Will use it!

I love reading. Always have. Always will. Ditto for writing. I've spent the last decade educating myself about the craft of writing, incorporating what I've learned, and enhancing the skills I do have, cognizant that there will always be so much more to learn. It's all good. Right? Knowledge is power. Right? Come on. You guys know there's always a catch.

What's Bullet Hole rambling about now, you're asking? Just this. As I've improved my writing skills and educated myself on various techniques, this acquired knowledge has taken a toll in another extremely important area of my life: reading. That's right. Reading. Well, that's where it started.

Yes, I know. I've got some 'splaining to do. It's like this. Before I began my decade long journey to publication I could pick up any book and generally finish it. If not enthralled by the content, I could, at least, get to the end. Now that I know about goal, motivation, conflict, inciting incidents, calls to adventure, black moments, layering, foreshadowing, etc., etc., etc., I am finding an increasing number of books I analyze rather than read. I find myself saying, "If I had written this book, I would have"...and so on.

But it doesn't stop at books. I find myself doing this during movies and TV shows, the in-house equivalent of Siskal and Ebert. Even worse, I start to make predictions as to what will happen next or share what I would have happen next. As you might imagine, I'm real popular with my family when I do this.

"I'm never watching another movie with you again!" my son said the other night after I'd blurted out what I thought was going to happen. "You can't help yourself!"

"I'll stop! I promise!" I swore--like I was trying to kick some chemical addiction.

"You say that every time," he reminded me. "You're incapable of changing."

At my age, he has a point.

Then there's Bullet Hole's infamous red pen. It seems I can't sit down and read a newspaper or magazine without a red pen handy to circle mistakes. As a result, I turned to the internet to get my news. Huge mistake. The boo boos are still there, staring me in the face, but I don't have the satisfaction of circling them with my trusty red pen which leaves me staring at them, powerless.

The other day my daughter brought home a copy of the high school newspaper. I had a few minutes to spare so I sat down to take a quick look. And almost had the big one. I was back on my feet in two seconds in search of my red pen. By the time I got to the end of the newspaper I was almost apoplectic. Here was a high school newspaper, the contents overseen by a high school teacher, and it was riddled with spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and word usage errors.

"What's wrong, Mom? You look funny," my daughter asked and I showed her the ten page newspaper I'd marked up.

"This is insane! What are they teaching you at that school? What are they NOT teaching you at that school?" I shouted.

"I'm not in that class, you know," she said.

"Lucky for you," I told her.

"You aren't going to contact the school about this. Are you, Mom?" she asked.

I shook my head. "No, sweetie," I promised. "I won't contact the school."

I'm thinking this is a matter for the school board. I'm also thinking my triplets will be so relieved when they graduate this spring.

So, writers out there: how has (or has) your writing affected your enjoyment of books, movies, TV, newspapers, etc. ? What's your biggest pet peeve when it comes to mistakes or missteps you find in books, movies, etc.?

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Not Tonight Dear...I Have Malaria...

In an effort to teach my kids that life exists beyond their technology-ridden, middle-class, midwest lifestyle, we've been watching the Travel Channel's program: Tribal Life - Meet the Namale. The Namale tribe lives on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The men wear only a penis sheath made of grass (called a nambas - if you're interested) attached to a g-string. The women are topless and wear grass skirts. And they live in - you guessed it - grass huts. They live off the land and the kids actually do consider sticks and frogs interactive toys (see last post) and they refuse to adopt a modern lifestyle.

My kids are fascinated with the show and I like it too. But I've learned that some things are universal. See the young man in the photo above? Well, he's married and for the first time, he and his bride were going to attend a all-tribal bash where the women and men dance (jumping up and down in itchy, grass skirts and penis sheaths). They spend seven years getting ready for this party. The groom was really excited to go. Unfortunately, his young bride had a bad headache. (No, this isn't the universal part yet.)

So, he went without her - expecting her to catch up later (I know it sounds familiar, but not yet...wait for it...). Unfortunately for the young woman, she developed a fever and had to be evacuated to a hospital where it turned out she had malaria.

Cut back to the party, where her husband has a sad face and he says, "My wife didn't get to see me dance. I wanted her to watch me dance." (This is it. Go ahead and say 'I knew it!')

Yup. That's right. His wife has #$#$%&*! MALARIA and all he can think about is that he won't be able to strut in front of her. Malaria! Unless I'm wrong - she'll suffer bouts of this illness on and off for the rest of her life! But no, our proud peacock of a husband cares only that she didn't have the chance to gaze at him in all his glory.

I think this is something that starts in men very young. My seven-year-old son, since he could talk, has said nothing but "look at me!" over and over and over and over...well, you get the idea. Either I have to watch him do the same sommersault in the living room twenty times, watch him swim in the pool ad nauseum, admire his video gaming skills or watch him to see how much he eats - it drives me nuts. My daughter isn't the same way. But for some reason, boys insist on being watched all the time, and unfortunately turn into husbands who insist on being watched all the time. What the hell is up with that?

And while it was good to know it happens everywhere, from the jungles of isolated islands to industrial nations - it isn't any less annoying. The only difference here, is that it's too damn cold to wear a grass penis sheath. And I think that's a good thing.

"The Assassin"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Electrifying Experiences and Retractions

Breaking NEWS!!!


Blackroze37, you have won a copy of Lori's book. Please email me your address to www.christie-craig.comCC
January 15, 2008 2:05 PM

NOTE: Please pop over to Rachael's blogspot, to read an interview and post a comment/question for a chance to win a autographed copy of my book. Also check out: where yours truly was interviewed.

This last Saturday, I got a real electrifying experience. I got the rare opportunity to come face to face with a Houston Police officer’s taser gun. Let’s just say, I nearly wet my pants. Before you jump to any conclusions, no I haven’t been arrested again. Well, not yet anyway. Though, take my advice, be careful about pissing off police officers.

In my case, it’s not just any police officer. It’s Duke Atkins. Remember my cop in a pocket who came and blogged for us? Yeah, he’s the one. He’s the badge-toting, taser-pointing officer I’m referring to. And I have . . . well, in his book, I’ve committed a crime. And since one of my crimes is a second offense, well, he’s out for blood. Guess I’m back to dodging the law again.

In my defense, well . . . Okay, I have no defense. Not for one of the crimes. Remember when he blogged? Remember how he spoke about me . . . misspelling his name? How my little typo inadvertently prevented him from being some super spokesperson for the HPD? Yeah, well, guess what. You know his name, Lt. Duke Adkins, appears in my acknowledgements page of Divorced, Desperate and Delicious? Yeah, I did it again. I put a “d” where the “t” was supposed to go.

He’s insisting on a retraction, but I did come up with an alternative. I mean, it’s only $100 to change your name, they might even give him a bargain since all he would only be changing is one letter. Heck, I’d even throw in ten or fifteen bucks to help pay for it.

He didn’t like that idea. (Did you know tasers make this gawd-awful noise?)

And now, my second crime. Well, Duke came out to speak at my autographing about women’s safety. He called me in advance and asked if he could use my purse for the demonstration. He explained that during this little show-and-tell, my purse’s contents would be spilled on the floor. Now, this is the crime I do feel I have a defense.

I mean, pluuueeese! He never should have trusted me. Never! You should have seen his face with the red bra, sexy panties, a pair of take-me-home red high heels, a few condoms, and an entire pack of loose tampons hit the floor in front the audience. What was funnier was seeing him pick them up and put them back in the purse. (Did you know that tasers don’t really have to be recharged for a second use?)

Anyway, under the influence of shock therapy, I’m offering Duke a retraction. (Or I guess I should say, under the threat of shock therapy, he took off the bullet thingy (see why I need him to write police stuff?) that actually sends out the electrical currents, before he showed us how the gun fired.) Anyway guys, this fine-example of a police officer’s name is Lt. Doke Atkins. Now, don’t get that messed up.

Crime Scene Christie

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Let Me Introduce You To Lori Wilde

Allow me to introduce Lori Wilde. But first, let me say the joke is on Lori this time. You see, she decided to blog about me, but what she didn’t know was that I can post my blog on top of hers. Ha! Turn about is fair play. So let me tell you about Lori.

As she says in her blog, we sold about the same time -- way back in the dark ages -- and while I failed to sell my second book in the following years, many, many following years, I watched her from afar as she went on to sell book after book to a variety of publishers. I remember the first time I saw her after what I perceived to be my failure and her success. A whirlwind of insecurities chased butterflies in my gut. Would Lori view me as someone who hadn’t stood the test of time?

The warmth that came from Lori’s smile was anything but judgmental, and through the years she has been a constant source of inspiration. Lori’s love and drive to constantly improve herself, her eagerness to offer a helping hand to any writer, including her top-rated classes and workshops, well, they not only make Lori a great person, but a wonderful writer.

I learned so much from Lori, both from workshops and reading her novels—studying them to see how she does it and devouring them for wonderful characters and unique plots. Lori is the author of 39 books for three major publishers. I haven’t picked up her latest book yet, Once Smitten, Twice Shy, but you can bet I’ll be picking it up this weekend. Check out Lori’s website at

On a side note, I'm guest-blogging at the Debutante Ball this weekend, so if you'd like to come over for a visit I'd love to see you! It's at

Also, don't forget to post a comment on this blog and let Lori know you would like to recieve a copy of her book. Today... one lucky poster will win a copy of Once Smitten, Twice Shy.

Thank you, Lori, for coming to play with us at Killer Fiction.

* * *

When Christie first asked me to blog on her website, I was honored. Then I thought, “what in the heck am I going to blog about?” Then it hit me. I’d blog about Christie.

Except that I know how humble she is and how she might be too embarrassed to post my blog. So if you’re reading this, you know I convinced Christie to take credit where credit was due. If you’re not reading it, at least Christie knows how I feel about her.

Christie and I first met at a conference in Houston in 1995. (Yipes, has it really been that long?) We both had our first books out from Silhouette Romance. We were green as green could be, eager and wide-eyed and so happy to have finally achieved our dreams of writing a novel. We thought we had the world by the tail.

Shows how ill prepared we were for the harsh reality of publishing.

Christie was already an accomplished nonfiction writer and photographer. I was a registered nurse. I was fortunate. I sold my second book six months after my first one. Christie was not so lucky.

It wasn’t from lack of trying. She did everything she knew how to sell that second work of fiction. Me? My luck held out for eleven books before Silhouette Romance politely told me to go away.

Then Christie’s nonfiction career took off in a big way—she’s written hundreds of articles for all kinds of magazines--but it also took her focus off fiction. However, she never stopped wanting to sell another novel.

At some point the nonfiction wasn’t satisfying her creative urges and she started writing fiction again. I would see her final in contest after contest after contest and she still couldn’t break back in. My heart ached for her. I knew it wasn’t from lack of trying or from lack of talent. The winds of publishing simply weren’t at her back.

And then Christie, who had been holding the faith for so long, broke through in a big way. She sold FOUR books in one day. You know the saying about when it rains, it pours? After a drought so long she thought she might need to buy stock in the Sahara Desert, the dam broke and Christie was showered with good luck.

Christie is a shining example of never give up, never surrender. She’s an inspiration. She’s perky and petite and persistent. Not only that, but she’s wickedly funny. If you ever have the honor of meeting her in person you’ve got to ask her to tell you the story about the cowboy and the mattress in the middle of Houston traffic. Warning…you might split a stitch laughing.

Her sense of humor and her kindness are reflected in her books. If you don’t yet own a copy of Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, what are you waiting for? Everyone needs a good laugh and Christie Craig provides it in spades. She went through a lot to get this story to you, don’t leave her hanging.

I'm giving away a copy of ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY. Randomly drawn from anyone who posts in the comment section that they want one. Drawing to be held on Monday and the winner announced in the comment section.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I’m in love!!

Yes, you heard that right. I’m in love… with my new niece! My little sister just had the most gorgeous red-headed baby girl yesterday afternoon. 8 pounds 1 ounce of perfect wiggling, warm, pinkness. She and mom are both doing just fine and hopefully coming home from the hospital today. In the meantime, I’m hanging out in their rustic (read: sketchy internet so I may be MIA the rest of the day) mountain town of Tahoe, freezing my keister off in the Sierra Nevada snow. Will post pics of the little bundle as soon as I can download them!

Until then, have a look at the video book trailer I was working on before I got the call and high-tailed it up to the mountains. It’s for my upcoming March release, Alibi in High Heels. Let me know what you think!

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday (the new Auntie!!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deadline Countdown and the Fine Art of Procrastination...

Okay. First off. Let's get real here. The above image is not an accurate depiction of my writing process or persona. Well, except for the overflowing wastebasket. I use a computer not a typewriter. And the last time I wore a skirt anywhere was--well, to tell you the truth I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt. I don't think I even own any skirts other than the denim ones I occasionally wear during summers. In fact, as I type this post I'm sitting in my rather cluttered office wearing a purple and neon green fuzzy fleece set that features the dwarf, Grumpy, on the pants and shirt. On my feet are hot pink and purple fuzzy slippers and I'm drinking my coffee (decaf, remember?) from a Winnie the Pooh mug. So much for the glamorous life of an author.

Authors always seem to be on a deadline. The alternative would be--well, unemployment--so most of us don't grumble about it. Mine is March 1st. It's my seventh book for Dorchester. Now generally I'm not a procrastinator. In fact, I turned in my previous six books ahead of schedule. Some well ahead of schedule. But I'm having difficulties getting the words on the pages this time around. And it's really not my fault. Honest. Let me explain and you can judge for yourselves. And bear in mind these are not 'the dog ate my homework' excuses. It's just the way it is. And the way I am.

First off, I've outed myself on this blog (and others) as a political junkie. I take the role of citizen/voter and Iowa's role in the nominating process very seriously. So, naturally, I do my homework. I check voting records and listen to candidates. That takes time. Time away from writing. I figure since I'm fortunate enough to live in a country that permits me to write and read what I like, I need to do my part to make sure we retain those rights and the many others we enjoy and often take for granted. The January 3rd Caucus came and went but then there was New Hampshire and now we have Michigan and there's South Carolina and Super Tuesday and... Okay, you get it. Note to Kathy: GET HELP!!!

Secondly, as I've also explained, I'm the HOH for my family. I have triplets who just turned eighteen. Enough said on this point.

Then there was the revision from you know where to complete on FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS.

Next up? A new college term. I'm what they call a 'returning student' who is attempting to beef up a resume and credentials and make some life changes and improvements. Now, the classwork is one thing. Since I'm sort of anal about this stuff, I tend to do every scrap of extra-credit available even if I don't need to. The classes, themselves, are another thing. I walked into a Technical Writing classroom the other night to find the professor looked about twelve. Most of the students were my kids' age. Or younger. Ouch. Then there's my favorite topic: winter weather. The other night the fog was so thick I couldn't see beyond the hood of my car. Tonight's forecast (and yeah, I have another class) SNOW!

Then there's life in general: illness, grocery shopping, house cleaning,(okay, quit laughing family and friends) and things that suck you in. Examples? I got side-tracked by an on-line discussion of plagiarism recently (and no, I'm not going to delve into that delicate issue here and now). I also made the mistake of picking up one of my Victoria Holt books (I wanted to be Victoria Holt when I was growing up. I still do!) and once I read one, I was hooked, so I've started reading them all again.

There are tons of things that tempt me away from my writing lately. And I'm usually so disciplined. Yesterday 'Saint Kathy' on my right shoulder had a heart to heart with me. 'Kathy,' St. Kathy said, 'you are not going to go to bed until you have written 30 new pages. No arguments and no procrastinations permitted. Deal with it.' So, I grumbled a bit (okay, more than a bit) and then thought, 'I'll show her.' And I did. I wrote two new chapters (and it wasn't crap!) and finished before the stroke of midnight.

And today? Well, today is a different story. You see, my daughter brought me her black work pants to have a button sewed on. It took me half an hour to find a suitable button, another half hour to find my sewing kit, another ten minutes to quit sneezing from the dust accumulated on the sewing box, (Dotty Domestic, I ain't) and another ten minutes to sew the button on. Then, of course, I had to blog.

And now? Now I have this strong craving for an angel food cake with funfetti frosting.

Think St. Kathy will cut me a break today?

I didn't think so either. I can't wait until this book is done and Sinner Kathy can come out to play.

What's at the top of your 'Tempt Me' list?

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back Then, I Had to Walk Ten Miles to School, In The Snow, Uphill Both Ways...

First off - Congratulations Ellie! You won the purse prize! Please contact me at and I'll ship it off to you!

During break, we took our kids to Chicago for a few days with friends and their kids to see the Star Wars exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry, the Sears Tower, etc. It was blisteringly cold in the Windy City, but a good time was had by all. Well, the kids had a good time. The adults were sleep-deprived and sore, but that's just splitting hairs, really.

Anyway, one of the exhibits in the Sears Tower (the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, thank you very much) really caught my eye. You can see from the photo above (click on it to make it larger): It says, "Interactive toys of 1793," and it features a stick, some frogs (badly photoshopped in, by the way) and a leaf or two.

Of course, the four worldly children, aged 7 to 9 were NOT impressed. They couldn't figure out why I was even taking a picture of it. They just went back to using my cell phone to call their friends and using their digital cameras to take pictures of the skyline. But I stood there and stared at that for several minutes. In fact, I was there so long my husband thought I was having a stroke - but that's beside the point.

On the way home, as my children texted each other from their Nintendo DS (while sitting next to each other) and talked about playing Guitar Hero III when they got home, it really hit me that A)My kids didn't appreciate history or B) I appreciated it a little too much.

Now, I didn't grow up with sticks and frogs as my only interactive toys (although there was that one time with the grasshopper that kept me amused for say, oh, minutes). We had Simon, Intellivision and Atari, Baby Alive (a very, creepy Terminator version where the metal skull seemed to press against the rubber skin and make mechanical gnashing sounds while she ate), banana-seat bicycles, etc. But toys were still dramatically different.

My mom's gonna read this and tell me how she just had a jumprope, and I'll bet you someone will e-mail me about being excited to get an orange and a lard sandwhich for Christmas, but I'm trying to put this all into perspective.

Of course toys change with technology and things are different than they were 200+ years ago. But all I can think about is some child back then getting as much joy out of that stick as my daughter got out of her Hannah Montana stage - complete with real light shows and music. It just made me wonder how my kids would fare in a third world country where they still play with those kinds of things. Then I realized that I would also have to be in that third world country with them and that kind of cancelled the idea out.

I don't really have any answers - just observations at this point. I think I'm gonna start dvr-ing National Geographic Channel's Tribal Life and forcing the kids ala-Clockwork Orange-style to watch it.

What do you think?
"The Assassin"

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What's Been Neddling Me

Last Saturday was my son’s 18th birthday. And at 12:01 a.m., he gave himself a gift…one of which that I have to admit, I wasn’t all too thrilled about. Now, you have to know, he’s my baby . . . all 200 pound of his six feet two inches, even down to his size-13 men’s shoe. So yeah, I know he’s not really a baby. He’s eighteen, a big boy.

A big boy when it comes to size, but not so big when it comes to needles. Seriously, I was holding his hand just a few months ago when he got a tetanus shot. “Is this going to hurt?” he asked me. “I hate shots, mama,” he said and blinked his scared, big brown eyes at me. It didn’t matter that he was big, my maternal instinct took hold and I squeezed his hand and wished I could take the shot for him. Yep, he hates needles. Which is why, I was just a bit surprised that he got a tattoo.

Now, he told me he wanted one. He’s been telling me he wanted one for years and I simple rolled my eyes and said, “Not until you’re eighteen, buster.”

Who knew eighteen would come around so soon? Who knew I wouldn’t be any more prepared to see my baby get a piece of art permanently placed on his body? Who knew that at eighteen, he’d still think it was a good idea? Not me. If I had, I would have said, “Not until your sixty, buster!”

And when he told me he was going to get one a few days before his birthday, I just laughed. I reminded him that getting a tattoo could be very painful, (yeah, I might have exaggerated a bit) that sharp needles were involved, and that it could kill him…hepatitis C, and all, and then I blew the whole idea off. Hey…mama wasn’t there to hold his hand…no way would he go through with it, right?


Now, it’s not that I’m anti-tattoo, but this is my baby. I can close my eyes and still see him running naked as a jay bird across the bedroom, laughing as I chased him down to put a diaper on him I can see every inch of his little, squirming body, every bit of sweet-smelling baby-powdered skin, unmarked, un-inked, and oh so perfect.

Just this morning, he was walking from the shower without a shirt. I couldn’t help but stare at his forearm with an eagle, part of a flag, and the word “Freedom” written underneath. Oh, he’d already shown it to me, and it’s not hideous or anything, and a T-shirt will cover it up, but seeing it unexpectedly for the first time took me by surprise.

I realize that part of my dislike of the piece of body art is that I had to come face to face with the realization that my baby was really on the threshold of becoming a man. (Not man enough to get a tetanus shot, mind you, but man enough to get a tattoo.) And right then, he even looked like a man, tall, strong, his tattoo accentuating his bicep muscles, and a certain “I’m eighteen” gleam in his eyes.

As I walked away a bit disgruntled, I remembered what my mother told me when I first asked to get my ears pierced. “If God wanted you to wear pierced earrings you would have been born with holes in your ears.”

My answer back was, “Mom, that argument doesn’t hold water, because I could say that if God wanted me to wear clothes, I wouldn’t have been born naked.”

Mom was so over protective, so ol’ fashioned. But of course, this whole tattoo thing is different. Completely, different. Right?

Okay…dang it, maybe it’s not so different. But don’t you think if that he had to get a tattoo, he could have at least had the words, “I love my mama,” put on his arm?

So…here’s my question to you. How do you guys feel about tattoos? Any of my readers have tattoos? Do you like them on your men? Any parenting advice for a mama who’s having a hard time letting go of her baby?

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Stories You Just Can't Make Up

First of all, I have to start today's post with a huge apology - I COMPLETELY forgot to post last Monday. My only excuse is that with all the holiday scheduling, I didn't even realize what day it was. In fact, I didn't realize I hadn't posted until Friday - so, sorry!

My brother (the volunteer fireman, for those who don't know) always gives me some interesting stories because he lives in a small town and spends a lot of time talking to police and paramedics. Here's a doozy from a couple of weeks ago.

A guy and his wife get in a huge fight. She decides to leave with the kids. In this couple's case, that means by foot. Apparently, she only got so far then decided to go back home. The husband decided to pull out his shotgun and fire off a few at her as she was coming up the driveway. The police were called and a four hour standoff ensued during which everyone well, stood. Then the worst thing possible happened - the husband ran out of beer. Well, there's only one thing left to do when you've been shooting at your wife, the cops have surrounded your trailer and you're out of beer - start shooting at the cops.

So the husband starts taking shots at the cop and finally, one of the cops gets him in the gut. The paramedic comes over as soon as the cops secure the husband's gun and inspects the husband who is laying half in/half out of the doorway. He looks at the husband's stomach and sees a single small shot. He asks the huband if it hurts and he says a little so the paramedic figures that it was a 22 pistol shot or something along those lines. Then the husband complains about his back and when he sits up the paramedic realizes that a huge hunk of the man's back is fairly gone. He yells for the proper equipment then looks over at the group of cops and says "what was he shot with?" To which one of the good 'ole boys with a badge steps up and says "that there would be a 308 deer rifle, boy."

I still have no idea if that is police issue or not, but it would be a great thing to call the department and ask.

So what do you think - if you read this in fiction could you suspend disbelief and think people would be this stupid????? Or happy about shooting a man with a deer rifle?

Deadly DeLeon

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Who Knew?

I've racked my brain all week trying to come up with an interesting topic.

Yeah...I got nothing. 'Cept a wicked case of blogger's block.

So I've compiled a list (directly from the pages of my journal) of 12 random things I learned last year for your edification and enlightenment (caution! segue) :

01.23.07 It's enlightenment. I've always articulated "enlightment." I am wrong.

02.28.07 Restaurant is the most commonly misspelled word in search engines. Restaurant of all words. How enlightning. (:-D

03.15.07 Nelson Mandela is dead. Seriously?

04.30.07 Kryptonite is REAL!

05.27.07 Adding milk to tea negates the healthy benefits. Bye bye chai!

06.01.07 The hotter it is the more difficult it is for a plane to take off. Such a thing to learn on a plane. When it's hot. Hooray!

07.04.07 Presidential election years are always leap years. How did I not know this?

08.08.07 Wait a minute: next year we will have an 08.08.08. And, hey! We've done so with January through July so far. Cool!*

09.03.07 In Ohio it is illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.

10.22.07 If all the Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end they would wrap around the Earth two and half times.

11.22.07 It takes a gallon of oil to make a fur coat! Nothing like politics to serve with your turkey.

12.25.07 Bill Gates does not own an iPod. 'Sokay. I'm willing to bet Steve Jobs doesn't use Windows!

*Okay, technically I knew this but it just hit me this year. I'm slow on the uptake.

What new stuff did y'all learn last year?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Let's Welcome Nina Bangs

Omigod! I prostrate myself in abject apology for not getting this in on time. My excuse? Uh, I thought I was supposed to blog on the sixth. But when I visited the blog, I checked out the schedule, and there I was, down for the fifth. And yes, Christie did remind me. My bad. I’m truly sorry, everyone.

So what to talk about. I’ve been avoiding message boards because of a deadline that doesn’t allow for things like eating, sleeping, or going online. But I happened to take a look at a discussion going on about which was more important: talent or persistence. Interesting topic.

Obviously you have to have a modicum of talent in order to write something that has a chance of being bought and published. That said, I think it comes down to persistence and more than a little luck. I wrote for over ten years before making my first sale. During that time, I saw very talented writers give up or publish one book and then disappear from the scene.

What does it take to keep going? I’d like to say that I write only for the love of writing. The purity of that motive brings tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, it would be a lie. I write out of stubbornness, desperation, a strong competitive nature, and a desire to tell stories that are different. That doesn’t make me sound like a very nice person, does it?

First, stubbornness. I invested years of hard work in the writing process. Up until 2003, I taught fulltime. I got up each morning at 3:30 AM so that I could write before getting ready for work. After I came home from school, ate, and then graded papers, I didn’t have a creative thought in my head. I was in bed by about nine every night so that I could get up the next morning. So when thoughts of quitting teased me (and they teased me a lot), I’d remember all those hours invested in my writing and decide that, hell no, I wasn’t quitting.

Desperation is a terrible thing. Other than teaching and my writing, I had no other marketable skills. I knew I wanted to retire, but I’d have a tough time living well on just my teacher’s retirement. And I did want to live well, even though I’ve heard that some of the new organic cat foods are quite tasty. If I didn’t succeed with my writing, I’d have to supplement my income by subbing. I enjoyed teaching children, but I’d had enough. That meant I had to make my writing pay.

I’m nothing if not competitive. When I was in my teens, my best friend and I would walk down the street, and I’d count how many guys looked at her first. I know, dumb. I brought some of that same attitude (only more mature, I hope) to my writing. I’ve belonged to the same critique group for over fifteen years. We’ve given each other tough love when it came to critiquing each other’s work, been there to cheer each other on, and offered shoulders to cry on when rejections rolled in. Kimberly Raye sold first. She’d written a wonderful paranormal romance which she sold to the Shadows line, and I was thrilled for her. But I wanted that same euphoric feeling that she was experiencing, so I tried a little harder. Even now, when I read an awesome book, it reinvigorates my own determination to write the best stories I can.

And of course, I love writing stories. Plain and simple. I suppose it all comes down to that truth. If I didn’t want to create stories that would resonate with readers, I could find other things to be stubborn, desperate, and competitive about.
Thanks a bunch, Christie, for inviting me to contribute to your blog, even if I showed up a little late.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 is looking up!

Recap of this week's search for Mr. Right:
Last weekend I met The Artist on the Motorcycle for a movie and drinks. We saw Sweeny Todd (Great , movie, loved it!), then went to a little neighborhood nightclub for drinks. Mr. A on M was adorable. Great smile, gorgeous blue eyes, total gentleman. Amazing, huh? I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and his big reveal that he was gay, married or both. But, it turns out he was just a nice normal guy, and we had a nice normal evening. (Maybe my New Year really is looking up!) I’ll admit, there weren’t fireworks of chemistry between us, but there’s definitely a great friendship brewing, if nothing else.

Mr. Coffee (a.k.a last Friday’s date where Aunt Flo decided to come along) did finally call me. (Happy dance!) The down side is we haven’t been able to find a good time for a second, or as he put it, “real” date yet. I’m hopeful next week our schedules will finally match up. There was mention of a sunset over the ocean and dinner. (Tre romantique!) We had a lot in common and he’s definitely in the running for fireworks chemistry. Will let you know how things progress.
(P.S. Mr. Coffee, if you’re reading this, I have no plans for tonight. Hint, hint.)

In the meantime, (switching gears here), my writing efforts of 2008 are off to a bang! My short story “Confessions of a Bombshell Bandit” (available in the Dreams and Desires charity anthology) is up for a Predators and Editors award for best Short Story. This is a unique contest in that anyone can be nominated, but it takes reader votes to win. That's where you come in. If any of you would like to vote for "Confessions of a Bombshell Bandit", I'd be eternally grateful. Here's the link to vote:

Just scroll down and click the little button next to "Confessions of a Bombshell Bandit", then enter your name and email address (they will toss the addy after the contest, so no spam) and hit "submit". They'll send you an confirmation email and all you have to do is click the link and, voila, you've voted for me!

And, for those of you that haven't read it yet, here's a quick excerpt of the story:

Confessions of a Bombshell Bandit

“You’re going to leave the car idling, then we loop around on Pico and take La Cienega straight down to the ten. No stopping,” I said.

Quinn nodded, her eyes shinning as her hot pink bangs bobbed up and down in the seat beside me.

“Here, Carrie.” Lynette reached her arm between the console and handed me a .22. I checked the chamber. Fully loaded.

Lynnie handed another gun to Quinn, who twirled hers like a wild west sharpshooter, almost dropping it on the upholstered seat of Lynnie's mini van.

“Ready, ladies?” Quinn asked.

Lynnie and I nodded as one.

Quinn pulled her Marilyn Monroe mask on. Lynette and I followed suit, becoming Mamie Van Doren and Jayne Mansfield. My vision instantly blurred as I tried to see out the tiny plastic eye holes.

“Just like we rehearsed,” Quinn instructed. “They’ll be so distracted, they won’t even know what hit them.”

“Right,” I said. Lynette nodded.

Then we all stripped down to the matching black and pink polka dotted bikinis we’d purchased at Wal-Mart the day before. We tore open the mini van doors, streaking across the parking lot of the Los Angeles Mutual Bank on Fairfax and Pico, guns drawn.

Quinn was the first to hit the front doors. She plowed in, her gun stuck out in front of her like an Al Pacino movie.

“Everybody on the ground, hands behind you heads! Nobody moves, and nobody gets hurt. I’m f***ing serious!” She waved her gun in the direction of a guy in a Jerry Garcia tie and Dockers who was making a move for his cell phone. He froze, dropping to the floor along with the other people in line on their lunch break.

Lynette came in a close second behind Quinn, aiming her gun at the security guard by the door who looked like he’d just started shaving yesterday. His wide eyed gaze bounced between Lynette's boobs, barely contained by the triangles of polka dotted fabric, and her gun, leveled at his chest, not sure if he should be scared or turned on.

I came in behind Lynette, making my way across the floor of stunned people to the third teller window on the left. I set my plastic, flowered beach tote on the counter and pulled it open.

The man behind the counter stared at me, his jaw stuck in the open position, eyes looking from the tote to my generous size C chest, the one thing I’d been happy to inherit from my mother.

“Hi, there” I said. “Empty the drawer into my bag, don’t even think of pushing your panic button, and keep your hands where I can see them. And,” I added as an afterthought, “stop staring at my tits.”

Score one for the Bombshell Bandits.


Thanks for the votes, everyone, and I’ll let you know the results as soon as I do!

~Gemma “Trigger Happy” Halliday