Monday, March 31, 2008

Tell Me Why

And if you want to sing that title to the Backstreet Boys song, feel free. Yes, I admit it - I love the Backstreet Boys and even have their latest cd which is fab. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about today - actually, it's more like a complaint. You see, there's something else I really love - shopping - and clothes designers are not making things easy.

So since my big life changing event, I have lost some weight - like 2-3 pants sizes in weight depending on the designer. Good news, right? Yeah, until you try to find something to wear. Now, since I'm one of those people that keep all my smaller clothes because I figured one day I'd get back in them, I DO have a decent wardrobe in four different sizes - of course I'm already past two of them but hey - progress. So I don't need all new stuff but I need a couple of simple tops to compliment the capris I already have.

So for the past two weekends, I have made passes by stores in search of some simple, inexpensive tops. The new trend this year (and quite frankly most of last) is the baby doll tops like the one pictured above. Cute, huh? Yeah, I thought so too, but there's one big problem I've found with these tops. First off, they come in two types of material - a light breezy cotton or a cotton/spandex blend that makes me sweat just thinking about it. So the light breezy cotton is definitely the top for me. But the light breezy cotton doesn't "give" so an exact fit is required. And that's where the problem comes in.

Can someone please tell me why in this age of vanity and affordable breast implants, all tops are made to house ten-year olds in the bust??????? Sorry, folks, but I'm built like a woman - boobs, hips, you know the drill. And even if I lost more weight, the girls still wouldn't fit in one of those tops because I'd just have to go down another size and I'm figuring the boob area doesn't get bigger as the top gets smaller. So in order to fit my boobs in one of these tops, I'd have to buy it bigger than I need. Sometimes this is a doable thing, but take a good look at that top again. See how it's fitted under the boobs then blouses out over the tummy (which is a great idea for hiding a little too much tummy), well the bigger the top, the bigger the tummy area - so by the time I'm in one that fits my boobs, I look like I'm pregnant with an elephant that's been gestating for four years.

By the way - I have the same boob problem with bathing suits, but since the whole topic of bathing suits is subject to moaning and crying (mostly by me) we're going to skip that for today.

Second complaint - length of pants. I'm 5'8" - not an Amazon, but not the average height for women either. And damned if I can find pants long enough. Ever once and a while I can locate a Tall but for the most part they all skim the tops of my ankles, giving me the whole "high-waters" look that I think was popular before I was born. And let's just go ahead and say a small prayer of thanks that I HAVE lost some weight and left women's sizes behind. Because apparently, if you are fat, you MUST be 4 foot 2.

Summer is much easier for me to manage - capris are still "in" (thank God) and I don't have to search the ends of the earth looking for 32 length pants.

So after two weekends of searching for my prey, I am still topless. Well, you know what I mean. :)

So what's your fashion complaint?

Deadly (DD) DeLeon

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Naughty Bits

Please let me introduce you to a very neat lady. TJ and I met almost two years ago when both of us were on the verge of signing contracts. Both of us had stars in our eyes, holding tight to our dreams of publication. And we can tell you, dreams do come true. I've read some of TJ's work and well . . . wow. Don't wait. Order her book now.

In anticipation of the upcoming release of her Reformation Germany-set historical, The Legacy, she's running her first contest in conjunction with her guest blogging tours (see below). She will be guest hosting four wonderful blogs between Mar 29 and April 7. Anyone who visits and posts a comment on at least two of the blogs will be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of The Legacy and either a $40 Barnes & Noble gift certificate or a $40 e-certificate for, a Texas-based German food store where customers can order everything from a spaetzle-press to apple strudel imported straight from Germany! If anyone has ever wanted to sample German food on someone else's Euro, now is the chance (or, of course, if books are preferred, the winner can choose the B&N gift certificate instead). For rules and information go to her

Take it away TJ.

I've been asked to be a guest blogger here on Killer Fiction, and since every dog must have her day, today is apparently mine. Not that I'm a dog, mind you, but I think you get my point.

What was my point?

Oh, yes, guest blogger. So, I've chosen as my subject husbands. I know, I know, it's hard to top Crime Scene Christie's husband posts, but bear with me. What I really want is advice.

So, husbands. I've got one, and he's a peach. Love the guy. Best thing that ever happened to me, most days. Other days, I'd like to shoot him, but even in Texas, where we live, the legal foundations for that are shaky. ("But, Officer, he forgot to reload the toilet paper roll, again. He needed killin'!")

Anyway, these days, hubby is on my "good guy" list because he's promoting my debut novel amongst his friends and co-workers and trying to market me to everyone he knows. My book, The Legacy, a historical romance set in 1525 Reformation Germany, will be available on April 1st everywhere (yes, that's April Fool's Day, let's get the jokes out of your system now. Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Done? Okay, back to the topic at hand, which is husbands. Mine, the peach, thinks I'm the best writer who ever walked. He's proud of me, having finally adjusted to the idea of his wife being a historical romance author. The adjustment was necessary when he finally thought to ask me, six years after my novel was completed and nine months before it was due to be released, if it had any S-E-X in it.

"Yes," I answered, wondering where this conversation was taking us but having a feeling I already knew.

"You actually describe ... it?" he asked, whispering the last word and darting a hunted look over his shoulder like David Janssen in The Fugitive.

I nodded. "Yep."

"But you don't describe it in detail. With body parts and everything. We're talking PG-13, right?"

I bit my lip. "R-rated, I'm afraid. Not the whole book, just certain ... parts of it."

Long pause. Another hunted look. "What parts?"

I smiled secretively. "I guess you'll just have to buy the book."

In a few days, of course, he can do just that, because even though he thinks I'm the best thing walking (see above), he's never actually read any of my romances before (and no, I'm not giving him a free copy. He can get in line like everyone else). Gotta love that blind faith, though. Still, now it means I'm biting my nails. My husband's a conservative guy. What will he think when he gets to that part? The R-rated one, I mean. Well, both of them. Okay, all three of them. Hubby is a romantic artist, he's a Picasso in the bedroom, but hey, I write Romance with a capital R, and we have to exaggerate in fiction, don't we? Will he wonder if I'm making comparisons? Will he wonder where I learned that stuff? Will he wonder why we don't get to do that stuff at home? Or if I expect him to? Do that stuff at home, that is?

I've got a good answer for that. Tell me what you think.

"Honey," he'll ask me, aghast, "is that what you really expect from a man in bed?"

"Sweetie," I'll answer, "that man is just a fantasy. A figment of my imagination."

"But isn't that what women really want? The fantasy?" His lower lip will tremble slightly, but then he'll firm it up, like the real man he is.

"Sugar," I'll answer, while laying my head on his broad chest and fluttering my eyelashes rapidly, "that guy might be my fantasy, but you're my dream come true."

What do you think? Will it work? Or, like a certain red-headed Lucy, will I have some 'splaining to do?

Any other writers out there who ever worry what your family might think when they read the naughty bits in your books?

TJ Bennett

Friday, March 28, 2008

Speed Dating

Oh. My. God. Speed dating was so freaking fun! I had a total blast. It was really fast paced, in a totally cool club, and there were actually a lot of really interesting people there. Did I make a love connection? Well, the jury is still out on that one. But, I did meet a lot of cool guys, had a really fun night, and would totally do it again! Even the guys I weeded out right away as no-goes for me were generally nice guys and pleasant to talk to for the few minutes we had together.

Okay, so here’s my play-by-play rundown of the night:

Even though I left on time, there was traffic, and I got to the event a little bit later that I intended. For three reasons. It was held at this club in downtown, which, of course, meant (reason number one) no parking. So, I circled forever and finally ended up lot-stalking this one guy coming out of the GAP until he finally found his car and gave me his space. Then, just as I was pulling in (reason number two) it started raining and I had to dig through my trunk praying I had an emergency umbrella with me. It was completely clear when I left the house. I was so not dressed for rain – a see-through flowy black top (thin – brr!) and opened toed sparkly silver heels (wet – brrr!), but I braved my way through downtown toward the club anyway. That is until I spotted (reason number three) the biggest used bookstore I had ever seen. I told myself to just keep walking. I even got past the front door… but then I turned around and ducked inside, telling myself I’d only be there a minute. They had a HUGE mystery section and, even cooler, I found four copies of my books there! So, of course, I had to go meet the manager and sign them for him and, well, by the time I left I was feeling really late. So, I quickly walk/jogged the remaining couple blocks to the club and ducked inside.

Luckily they hadn’t started yet. The host for the evening (a totally nice, totally pretty gal. I was very glad she was not one of my competition that night. Lol!) stuck a name badge on me with my first name and a number, then handed me a scorecard with a bunch of other numbers on it. All the women sat at stations throughout the club and every five minutes the guys would rotate through to the next station. We’d then circle the little Y or N next to their numbers on our scorecards – Y meaning “hook us up!” and N meaning “no chance in hell”.

So, I grab a drink and sit down at the nearest station. Our host blows her whistle and the guys play this game of musical chairs, each one scrambling for a girl until she blow the whistle again signaling our five minute “date” has begun. And the dates (in no particular order because it was all pretty much a blur) were:

1) Older guy. Probably forgot to read the age limit before the event. Reminds me of my dad. Ick.
2) Mr. Geek Chic. Works at a computer company and proud of it. Said he forgets to date until Valentine’s Day rolls around and kicks him in the pants. Goes out a lot in March.
3) Single Dad, very down to earth, polite, well groomed, even had a good job. (Big ‘ol Y circled for him.)
4) Pilot slash former fire fighter. (Hot!) Seemed a little nervous, kept telling me how brave I was to have come to the event alone. When the gal blew her whistle again I was too distracted by how cute he was, and totally forgot to write down his name tag number. Crap. Luckily…
5) His friend came by my station and rescued me from a total blonde moment by giving me the Pilot’s number. (Yay!) My rescuer surprised me by asking questions no one else had yet that night. Wanted to know all about my “passions”. Hmmm… I gave him a Y. Maybe we’ll get a chance to explore those passions later. ;)
6) Next up was a very cute guy who told a sad story of being best man at a wedding twice last year. (Always a best man never a groom?)
7) K, gotta lump 7, 8, 9 and 10 all together because at that point in the evening they were staring to blur into one big mess. Suffice to say, while they were all nice guys, none stood out for me.
11) Movie producer. Hilarious, total character. While the spark wasn’t there, I totally wanted more than 5 minutes with this guy. Hoping he won’t take it personally if I email him later to pursue a friendship.
12) I broke policy with Number 12. While I usually don’t give out info about my books to guys I haven’t been on at least three dates with (‘cause, duh, they’ll find this blog! Ack!) he was so sweet and the clincher was when he told me his mother loves to read mysteries. I gave in and told him some titles to look for. Hope mom loves the books!
13) VERY tall lawyer who sort of loomed over me even when we were sitting down. Then he told me he’d rather be with a “nice” woman than a “smart” woman. He said if he needed intellection stimulation, he could always hang out with his friends, but he wanted a woman who was “nice.” After he walked away it sunk in… was my intelligence just insulted? Hmmm… don’t piss off the blonde. She gets way less nice.

After the last whistle was blown (and not a moment too soon – I was starting to lose my voice!) our host instructed us to take our scorecards with us and log our results onto the website that night. Which, I dutifully did. So, over the next week out “Y” matches should start trickling in. I’ll let you know if any of them pan out!

In the meantime… got some fun plans for the weekend involving a very built, very sweet ultimate fighter. (Yes, I’m a total sucker for big muscles.) Anyone else got fun weekend plans?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Breathe in, breathe out: A birthday in the life of Bullet Hole Bacus

My birthday was this week. I'm basically beyond the point where I acknowledge this auspicious event. Instead I do my best to ignore the fact that I'm turning another year older. Yep. That's me. Bullet Hole Bacus, the Midwest's version of the Queen of Denial. Every year since I turned-- a certain age--I've greeted each subsequent birthday with my head down and teeth clenched, determined to plow through the day with a minimum of fanfare and a modicum of dignity.

That so didn't happen this year.

First off, as you all recall, several weeks back I decided I needed to shake things up a bit. A makeover, if you will. Something drastic. Radical. So, I start off with the hair. Okay. So I chickened out on dying it brown at the last minute and went with a perm and highlights. Sue me.

And let me tell you, I looked FINE. My hair was bouncy, wavy, and loaded with perky highlights. That is, until I washed it and in a matter of minutes I turned into a freaking poodle right before my eyes. Tell me. Why is it that the stylist (who happens to be my sis-in-law) can style my hair and I look pretty darned good for a woman who has celebrated her last birthday, but when I do it, I look like I should be wearing a big red nose and clown-sized feet and making balloon animals? Bozo's orange frizz has nothing on me. I look like a throwback to the seventies. (Okay, so I am a throwback to the seventies.) For the last several days I've been walking around wearing my Old Navy cap garnering some weird looks.

Happy birthday, frizz ball.

You'd think I'd wave the white flag. Give up my notion of making this a defining year in terms of health and fitness (after all, I've already given up soda and caffeine) and say 'maybe next year' to that new and improved me.

Uh, I'm blonde, remember? I'm not that smart.

The next phase of my jumpstart to good health took me to the Fitness Center. One of my daughters talked me into joining a 24 Hour Fitness Club. Initially, I was excited about our joint plan to get in shape. It was something we could do together. Just the two of us. So, it was with this gung-ho attitude that the former state trooper entered the gym for the first time in a very long time to go through the equipment check out. Okay, so I was a little nervous. You see, I'd made a solemn pledge to never ever run again unless I was forced to chase a bad guy after I endured four months of running my guts out during the Patrol Academy. (Puking while running in formation does not endear one to the sport of running.) As you might imagine, the idea of running anywhere--even on a treadmill equipped with a cute little TV--was not high on my list of things I couldn't wait to do. But there was that stupid pledge to improve myself dogging my tail. So, chin up, I stepped up on the treadmill.

The trainer went over the operation of the treadmill. It seems you have to answer questions for the treadmill before it will let you begin walking or running. Personal questions. Private questions. Impertinent questions like, 'What is your weight?' Now get real. If I haven't acknowledged my age for almost a decade do you really think I'm going to punch in my weight in big red display numbers for the world to see?

Next up was the elliptical machine. It didn't look too hard so I got on and started stepping. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until all the display lights on the machine suddenly went off. I looked over at my daughter.

"What did I do?" I asked. "What happened?"

"You're going backwards," she said, with an evil grin.

I blinked. "They have a reverse on this thing?" I asked.

She rolled her eyes and moved to a machine some distance away and acted like she didn't know me. Smart girl.

The weight machines came next. Thanks to my ridiculously long legs, I had to change the adjustment on every machine before I tried it out. By the time I made it through the orientation, I was pitted out, my hair was bigger than a medicine ball, and I felt as if I'd already had my workout. I hobbled over to change back into my street shoes.

"Where are you going? Aren't you going to work out?" my daughter asked.

"Didn't we just do that?" I asked. "'Cause I'm feeling some soreness," I told her.

"That's because you insist on locking your joints up when you're not supposed to," little Miss All of a Sudden Expert pointed out.

"Like I had a choice," I grumbled. "After all these years my joints kinda have a will of their own."

"Can we come back later?" my daughter asked.

"That depends," I replied.

"On what?" she asked.

"On whether I walk in here and discover someone I know. If so, I'm outta here, big hair and all," I told her.


Oh well. They sure as heck beat the alternative.

So, any of you have workout advice to share? Routines to recommend? Ways to avoid guilt when you don't work out? Sure fire frizz-fighting cures? Do tell.

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

So, about a month ago, I had this brilliant idea. (Please roll your eyes here) Since we had Spring Break coming up, I dragged (kicking and screaming) an old event from my past into the light. Did any of you ever have a Kidnap Breakfast when you were younger? If so, you'll have fond memories of being dragged out of bed at an ungodly hour of the morning by your girl scout troop/high school band/sorority/or members of your local terrorist sleeper cell (and if that was the case - you experienced something slightly different) and were frog-marched out to a public breakfast in your jammies.

So, this morning at 5a.m. (sadly, a mere four hours after going to sleep) I forced my eyes open and sat slumped in the kitchen waiting for someone to cheer me on for being such a great Scout Leader or to bitch-slap me for being a total git. The night before, one of my co-leaders called to ask if it was daylight at 6a.m. I assured her that it must be.

It wasn't.

By 6 a.m. I was quietly slipping into my co-leader's house (and feeling a little creepy about the whole thing) to surprise our sleeping daughters into waking up and running off into the darkness with us in their pajamas. Let's just say they weren't very interested. I lifted Margaret to her feet and she stood there, vertical, wondering how in the hell she'd just gotten that way. After much good-natured cajoling (that eventually turned into threats) we wrestled them into coats and shoes and made it to the car.

We had barely explained what we were about to do (and convince ourselves that we were, in fact, planning to wake up and kidnap 14 fourth grade girls from their beds. Hannah and Margaret got into it by the time we reached the first house.

It was actually pretty hilarious. The parents knew in advance and were waiting for us. The girls' faces as they awoke in the dark to find their entire troop at the foot of their bed was priceless. And I took pictures of every single one.

At 7:30 we invaded the local donut shop - delighting the women behind the counter who thought the girls with their bedhead and pajamas were adorable - and scaring the hell out of the old men who thought they finally had a chance to discuss their chronic diarhea with their pals. I was the last one out to the car (duh, because I was paying) and as the other leaders drove off I realized I was four girls shy of a load.

Emily sat by herself in the car, claiming she had no idea where the other girls were. I handled it well. I panicked. For four minutes. Then I heard the giggling. It's always giggling. The four girls had crammed themselves into my trunk. And after I stopped hyperventilating, I agreed that they really had me.

The rest of the morning was a little spa day of sorts. We did each other's hair, nails, had a group compliment session and played games. By the time the parents came it was noon and the three of us leaders were still in their jammies. We ordered pizza. We thought about drinking, but our daughters were still present and decided that might not be a good thing. But boy did we think

about it.

So, that's my Wednesday. What did you do?

The Assassin

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pet Peeves

According to Mr. Webster, a pet peeve is a subject of frequent complaint. Now, I don’t want to question Mr. Webster. I’m sure the fellow has been around a little longer than I have and knows more than I do. (I mean, it probably didn’t take him about 15 years to get his book published like it did me, and that book of his has been out quite a while and has returned for numerous reprints and updates.) But even knowing all that, I gotta say I think he’s selling pet peeves short. Either that or he’s lived in a padded room all his life with nothing more to annoy him than his own slowly growing toenails. And considering how boring his book is, that might be true. I mean, do you know anyone who has actually read the whole thing in one sitting?

Now, in my opinion, pet peeves aren’t just “subjects of frequent complaint.” To the contrary, they are things that pick away at our sanity, gnaw away at our last nerve, chew a little on our mental health, and down right just piss us off to no end.

Now, I admit. This may just be my personal opinion, but some pet peeves are justified. Sort of like homicide. I mean, right now there is one former state official, of one certain state, that if his wife decided to pull his plug, and I accidentally found my way onto her jury, I would be hard pressed not to give her TIME.


I can see all of you women out there, and a few men, starting to get red around the ears. Hear me out before you pass judgment. I would be hard pressed not to give her time, time as in a couple of months in a nice spa where she would be rewarded and pampered for doing a much-needed service. (I guess you might have figured out that one of my pet peeves is cheaters.)

Anyway, the justified pet peeves generally involve some form of lack of intelligence in other people. Like the math-impaired folks of the world. Now, don’t go overreacting again. I failed algebra too. I’m talking about a specific kind of math impairment, like the kind you find in the grocery store. You know what I mean. It’s when the person in front of you in the twelve-or-less checkout line has enough items in their basket to feed a family of twelve, when all you have is a gallon of quickly melting ice cream. Yeah, that type of math impairment.

Then, there’s the cutters and the cutter sympathizers. By cutters, I mean line cutters, not people with knives. Though, now that I think about it, I don’t care about not-so-nice people with knives, either. (It goes back to the Pizza Hut incident.) And yes, line-cutters includes people in cars, too.

Please! Is it just me, or do you hate the people who zip past you at amazing speeds in the right lane even when the sign clearly says . . . “Right Lane Closed?” I mean, you did the right thing and got in the left lane, but you are moving at a pace that wouldn’t impress a one-legged, elderly snail walking the green mile because someone up the way, (namely . . . the cutter sympathizers) are letting all the cutters in.

Yup, those are what I call justified pet peeves. And then there’s the other kind.

You know where am I’m going, don’t you?

The other pet peeves are just . . . stupid, idiotic things that for no good reason drive us bonkers. Most of us have them, too. And just to prove it, I’m gonna share mine.

I have a big aversion to, meaning I seriously loath . . . lemon seeds. Oh, I love lemon juice. As a matter of fact, I won’t drink water unless it has a good squirt of lemon juice in it. But I will spend a good ten minutes picking out those little slimly seed suckers before I give it the squirt. Hubby used to make a habit of showing me all the seeds in his glass. Of course, he stopped, because I don’t kiss him for a week. And without kisses, I’m not bedroom friendly if you know what I mean.

Okay, my other off-the-wall pet peeve is maybe even a little stranger than the seed aversion. It’s . . . water in my shoes. I love pretty sandals, but I’m down-right phobic about wearing them because . . . what if it rains? (And trust me, living in Houston, just because the sky is clear and blue, doesn’t mean it won’t be raining ten minutes from now.) What if my sandals get wet? You know, those water shoes people wear into the swimming pool and at the beach. I’m pretty sure Satan invented them.

Now, I have no reason why lemon seeds makes me want to toss my cookies, or why I’d rather walk across hot coals than walk in a pair of wet shoes, but that’s the thing about these type of pet peeves. They don’t always make sense, they don’t even have to. They aren’t justified, and for the most part in normal circumstances we wouldn’t share these things, but since when have we at Killer Fiction been normal?

So . . . come on, let’s share all our bizarre pet peeves. Hey, I shared with you.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, March 24, 2008

Things You Should Never See in Church

I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter! I know I did - grilled chicken, baked beans, and four-layer pie - Yum!

I'm going to kick your Monday morning off with a great visual of things you should never see in church. Now, I'm a southern Baptist girl from a small town in Louisiana, so the church was a small one and most of the congregation could speak on the Old Testament from personal experience. And by the way - all names in this story have been changed (per my mom's request) to protect the guilty, even though almost all of them are dead now.

I'm not sure why things seem so much funnier in church but I'm thinking it has something to do with church being one of those places you're just not supposed to laugh. You're supposed to be serious and contemplative of your relationship with God and treat the institution with the proper respect. And sometimes that's just impossible.

For instance, one year my grandma's friend, we'll call her Mrs. Dooley, was preparing for Week of Prayer, which she always took charge of. Week of Prayer is exactly what it sounds like - an entire week of church. During the week, this means in the evening. Mrs. Dooley asked me, as she did every year, to play the violin, so one Tuesday night I headed over to church with my grandma and my sheet music.

Now, Mrs. Dooley had a daughter, we'll call her Peggy Sue, who was what they called back then a little "slow." Peggy Sue could read and write and had graduated high school, but she still lived at home even though she was probably well into her late forties at the time of this incident. Mrs. Dooley and Peggy Sue were always the first to arrive at church and they sat in the second pew on the right hand side every time. This was non-negotiable.

So when my grandma and I got there, Mrs. Dooley and Peggy Sue were already entrenched in their spots. The pastor came in and did his introductions, etc. and then we stood to sing the first hymn. And that's when I got a view I never wanted - you see, apparently Peggy Sue had been to the ladies' room before sitting down and had her entire skirt tucked into her panty hose.

Did I mention that Peggy Sue was a very large women - I mean really large. As in it was a full moon at church.

Of course, I nearly choked and bent double over the pew in front of me alternating trying not to laugh with looking out the window to see if God was going to strike me dead with lightening for laughing. How in the world she couldn't feel a skirt that was the size of a tent and supposed to hang to her ankles all bunched up in her hose, I have no idea. One would have thought there would at least be a draft problem back there.

My grandma, the epitomy of decorem frowned through the hymn and waited until we bowed our heads to pray to walk up behind her and pull the skirt from her hose. I was just praying that I could breathe properly again before I had to play.

So what about you - ever desperately wanted to laugh at the absolute wrong time?

Deadly (mooned) DeLeon

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Melissa Blue's Secret to getting published

Hey ladies! I promised Melissa Blue to you all yesterday, but, well… let’s just say it’s been a wild weekend at Gemma’s house. So, I’m a day late, but I promise you this gal is worth the wait. Her books are awesome and her attitude is nothing short of a fab fiction diva. So, here’s Melissa…

Today I’m going to share the secret to getting published. I’m sure you’ve been wondering what’s the trick? How do I get the coveted contract that will get my book on a shelf and off my hardrive?

Luck and timing.

Feel free to go WTF? I’ll give you a moment…..

So, how do I know it’s really luck and timing that gets you published (of course along with a really good book), because this time last year I was in a writing rut. I wrote like I had Literary Tourettes. Something like this: iterarygeniusboymeetsgirlTHEEND.

See my point? So, back to me being in a rut—I wasn’t really writing, because I’d become discouraged. I read at least a hundred How to Books and my brain was muddled on what to write and what not to write, how to write it, what kind of characters to use, words that are absolute DON’TS, how to start your book, how to end each chapter, what really makes a romance, what disqualifies your book from certain genres, so on and so forth until my head exploded. At this point I’d penned three novels and I knew what I was up against: writers who knew the rules of grammar, writers who could pen a story ten times better than me, writers who already knew the things these books were talking about. Who was I kidding with thinking I could actually sell a book?

So you know what? I accepted the fact I wasn’t going to get published any time soon and I started to write because I loved it again. I can’t tell you the weight that was lifted off my keyboard. I wrote a blog post about how it should be all about the writing and three days later my pub wanted a partial.

Back to the thesis of this post, I wasn’t doing anything special. I wasn’t sending out a million and one submissions (which truly doesn’t hurt your odds if you do. Out of a million submissions there has to be one yes) all I did was send a Q &S . Might I add, the same Q & S had been sent to another publisher that sent me back a form letter. Same. Exact. One.

What was different?

Those three chapters ended up with an editor who loved my book, hell my voice, at a time that the publisher was seeking out authors, new blood so to speak, and Mars was in retrograde, I’d thrown salt over my shoulder and turned in a circle three times before I sent it out, avoided all black cats and wore the same socks every day until I got the email she wanted to contract my book.

Now that you know what really gets you published go write a damn good book.

If you liked the snark provided in this post you can find more of it here: If you are feeling extremely generous you can buy my book here.

Melissa Blue and I’m out.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring is in the air...

Spring is officially here! And, as Gemma’s quest to find Mr. Right marches through it’s third month, I’m starting to think the weirdoes that have been hibernating all winter are thawing out and crawling from their caves. And right into the dating world. I would think it’s just me, but my best friend Suze has been getting them lately, too. Not only the wildly inappropriate (I got hit on by a 53 year old man in Arkansas who owns a chicken farm! :O ), but also the dork-o-licious (A guy in suspenders and a sweater vest tried to pick up Suze) and the just plain wrong (married guy twenty years older than me who has an 8 month old baby at home and is looking for a ‘playmate’ because his wife is too busy to pay attention to him. I almost put a contract out on him.).

So, this week, I’ve invited Suze to pick out her favorite spring weirdo and come share with all of you...

Thanks, Gemma. (Hi Killer Fictionistas!)
Okay, so here’s my worst date lately. We’re going to call him The Greek. Why? Because he reminded me of a certain Greek God. Read on, you’ll figure out which one by the end...

First off, I have to admit that I was doing this online dating thing way before Gemma. I’ve been a single, internet savvy gal for the last... ahem… years. And, while I haven’t been actively dating all that time, I’m a bit of an online veteran. So, there’s this guy, The Greek, who has been on this one site forever. I’ve always thought he was kinda cute, but for some reason – timing I guess – we’d never actually met in person. And, while I know for a fact those picture of him aren’t recent because they’ve been on the site ever since I’ve been there, I figured I’d give him a shot. So, I did. I write to him. And, after a few introductory emails, The Greek suggests drinks at a local wine bar. Classy. I’m into it.

I dress to kill. (Seriously, ask Gemma. I looked hawt.) I show up and he’s looked pretty not bad himself. Yeah, definitely about ten years younger than his pictures, but still, pretty well preserved. I’m digging it. We sit and, at his suggestion, order some bubbly. He pays. Niiiice. And we get to talking about ourselves. Well, actually, he talks about himself. Which is okay. I want to get to know the guy, right? So, I listen. Then, at an appropriate point, I interject some info about me. Or, I should say I try to interject it. He cuts me off, and turns the convo back to him. Okay. Fine. I can groove with this, he’s probably just nervous. I let it go. And a few minutes later, try again, telling him some tidbit about my life. No dice. He cuts me off. Again. K, less endearing this time. But, I’m drinking nice champagne, I’m out with a decent looking guy, I’m trying to mellow with it.

Then, he redeems him self a bit. He says “So, tell me, what do you do?”
Right on. He is interested in me! So, I say, “Well, I run my own business doing-”
“Excuse me. I have to go to the restroom.”

Well, I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.
So, after cutting me off mid-sentence, he gets up from the table.

But, here’s the kicker. Instead of going to the bathrooms, he saunters over to the bar and engages some guy standing there in conversation for a full ten minutes (!) before making his way to the restroom. (He didn’t have to GO that BADLY, now DID he????)

Yeah, by then I’m about done with The Greek. I finish my bubbles (and order one more glass – hey, he’s paying, right?) then down that one as I wait for him to return. Finally, he does. And I quickly end the evening. He tells me he’ll call, that he’d love to see me again. Which, frankly, surprises me as he still knows zero, zip, nada about me at this point. So, we part way with him saying, “I’ll call you!” and me thinking, “I’m changing my number!”

Imagine my surprise when I get an email from him two days later. No, not asking me out for that promised second date. Instead it says he’s sorry, he’s changed his mind. He doesn’t think we have enough common.

My question – how the HELL would he know? He cut me off every time I tried to talk about me! But, on some level, I have to agree, we don’t have enough in common. He’s in love with him... and... well... I’m so not.

Figured out which Greek god he reminded me of yet?
Narcissus, God of having fallen in love with himself
“Narcissus, having come to a pool to quench his thirst, saw his reflection in its smooth surface, and fell in love with it. And since he could not obtain the object of his love, he died of sorrow by the same pool.”

Yikes! Be sure to flag his profile for me, k, Suze?
Me, I’m sure I’ll have a great spring fling story to tell next week as... I’m going speed dating!!! Yep, 10-15 guys in one night, five minutes a piece. Tell me that’s not a fun night. Hey if I’m gonna go on 15 bad dates, they may as well all be at once.

Wish me luck.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Killer Fiction Welcomes Guest Blogger Jordan Dane with Yet Another Great Shoe Story!

The dangerous divas at Killer Fiction are so very excited to welcome Avon HarperCollins debut author, Jordan Dane, as our guest blogger today!! Trigger Happy Halliday and I first met Jordan back in 2005 when all three of us happened to be Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalists. I knew back then great things were in store for the talented Ms. Dane, and boy howdy was I right! Jordan's hit the trifecta with three powerfully intense back-to-back releases beginning March 25th with the release of Jordan's debut, NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM, followed by NO ONE LEFT TO TELL, and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER.

Take it away, Jordan!

Yet Another Great Shoe Story
By Jordan Dane

Do you remember little Dorothy Gale? She was a terribly naïve teen from Kansas with questionable taste in fashion who owned a scruffy little dog named Toto. Dorothy used to daydream about traveling “over the rainbow.” (During the 60s, anyone might have accused her of partaking in one too many shrooms—but for the sake of this post—work with me.)
Before I sold, Dorothy and I had a lot in common, but like her, a looming cataclysmic event would change my future.

Avon HarperCollins purchased my debut series in auction and is about to launch an aggressive back to back release event for all three books April through June 2008. By the time my releases happen, I have no doubt my experience will be comparable to little Dorothy’s. She’d been swept away by a tornado from her black and white world into the cosmic rainbow colored realm of Oz with its Munchkins, Emerald City, and enchanted ruby red slippers.

Getting published in this manner can be exhilarating and frightening at the same time, like being sucked into a life-changing vortex and whisked away to a distant and strange land. Here’s my take on it.

Selling felt like it had taken an Act of God. But now that I have embraced a full-time writing life, there are days it feels like winged primates are dive-bombing my head with deadlines, copy edits, and promotion. And whenever insecurity creeps up like bad underwear—when I ask myself, “My God, what were you thinking?”—I pray my good witch Glinda (my agent) will swoop down and reassure me that I had the power all along. And that my bodacious red slippers, that I’d worn from day one, had indeed helped me weather the storm. The similarities are astounding. Don’t you think? And for a chance at finding charming reader companions like Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man, my future journey down yellow brick road may be fraught with wicked naysayer witches and indifferent review wizards.

Are you beginning to see the parallels like I did? (Pass the shrooms. It might help.)

I believe that if you squint real hard and get your head wrapped around this concept, getting published can feel like being blown Into an alternative universe where snappy red slippers are not just a fashion statement. Depleting hourglasses, flying chimps, burning scarecrows, and witches who melt when doused by H2O can be daunting unless you know how to wield the power of a good pair of shoes.

So my question is—if you could possess magic ruby red slippers, what powers would they have and how would you use them?

No Confessions By The Leslie Today

Sorry guys. No blog today. I'm sick as a dog today. Isn't that weird? Shouldn't it be sick as a cat? At least, that's how it is around my house - even with the hairball medicated diet. Of course, I've surpassed the cat today. Anyway - I'd better go. I'll have a brilliant blog next week. I promise.

The Assassin

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Faulty Wiring

This isn’t another blog about my husband trying his hand at home repairs. No, after a couple of heart-jolting near misses, he now hires an electrician.

Of course, one of those heart-stopping near misses included the time he fried my hot tub’s motor and shot himself half way across the backyard. But like I said, this isn’t about that kind of wiring, I’m talking brain wiring.

And my own faulty connections. However, I am gonna mess with my husband. (Hey, he deserves it. It’s his fault that I’m sitting here at two in the morning with a strange man snoring in my ear, his bald head now resting on my shoulder, and one of his hands tucked inside the front of his pants, all the while my husband is sleeping on the other side of me as I write this blog.)

Okay, back to my wiring. I’m dyslexic. Seriously. Dyslexia basically means faulty wiring in the brain. And mine is faulty. My husband says that this explains a lot. I let him say it, too. However, I occasionally get even by blogging about him. Paybacks are hell, especially now as I see the bald guy has begun to drool as well as snore!

The severity of dyslexia and the symptoms of this condition vary from person to person, and usually depend on how badly the wiring is screwed up. I know a lot of people whose wiring is trickier than mine. I’m an avid reader, but I didn’t learn to read until the third grade. Even today, pronouncing some words can be a challenge. And there’s the issue with the written word.

The evidence of my condition is apparent in my writing mishaps. You’ve probably seen a few symptoms in my blogs--missing words, typos, and wrong word choices. Yup, I know the difference between two and too, you’re and your, but my right side of the brain can’t see the difference. And to jump start my left side of the brain takes a lot of juice. Probably as much as my husband felt when he fried my hot tub and shot across the yard.

Unfortunately, butchering words isn’t the only dyslexic symptom. You’ve heard of directionally impaired, right? Well, I’m directionally broken. The whole left/right stuff doesn’t make sense to me. Honest, I pick up a pen and start writing with my left hand, see it’s a little messy and realize that I’m using the wrong hand. Oh, addressing an envelope always gives me pause. Which side does the stamp go on?

When in school, I dreaded doing the pledge of allegiance because I could never figure out where my heart was or which hand to place over it.

My directional impairment doesn’t stop with left and right, it involves the whole north, east, south and west thing.

Seriously, who came up with this concept? I mean, okay, when the sun rises, (like I’ve been up a lot at that time) I know that it’s the east. And thanks to my son for teaching me the whole “never eat slimy worms” trick, I can use the big fire ball in the sky to figure out what direction is what. Why? Because, unlike the heart, you can see it! And when the big fire ball in the sky sets, I can tell you where west is. But how the hell do you know on a cloudy day or at night? Or midday when you don’t know which direction the sun traveled to get where it is. It’s not as if it leaves little arrows pointing its way.

All this directional left/right impairment makes getting around hard. Like when I’m driving and first pull out on the street. It takes me a while to know which side of the road I’m supposed to be driving on. I did find a trick for that one. If a car is coming straight at me, I usually know I’m on the wrong side. However, I’m in bad shape if I meet another dyslexic while driving.

Getting around, I use a lot of landmarks. Like a pink mailbox or a vasectomy billboard. (God help me if someone decides to paint their mail box or if men stop having vasectomies.)

Another thing this condition makes difficult is filling out forms. When I look at a page with a lot of information, I go on overload. The worse is trying to fill out forms on the computer.

But I have found some great compensation methods. I mean, I married my husband for a reason, right? And he does a good job.

Most of the time.

Yup, paybacks are hell.

You see, as I write this I’m on my way back from California. I’ve been there doing workshops for Orange County RWA and San Diego RWA. (Waving to all my new Ca. friends.) Mid-trip, Hubby flew to Los Angles to drive me to San Diego. (He’d heard vasectomies and pink mail boxes were on the decline out west, and California wasn’t forgiving to dyslexic women driving on the wrong side of the Interstate 405.) And because I hate doing forms and such on the computer, he also went online to make our flight reservations.

Gotta’ love him, right?

Yeah, I do.

And I even praised him. I praised him right up until Saturday night when my writing partner called me in San Diego to inform me that I’d gotten an email from my airline confirming our flight. Luckily, she’d noticed that yes, we were scheduled for a 12:50 departure as I had told her, however, it wasn’t p.m., but a.m.. I guess, I’m not the only one with dyslexic tendencies.

We slung everything into our suitcases, checked out of the $200 hotel that we’d been in for less than an hour, and drove like maniacs out of San Diego to get to LAX.

As we were being seated in the sold-out airplane, at one in the morning, my husband asked, “Do you think everyone in here is as big of an idiot as I am and just booked the wrong flight?”

I just smiled. Some things husbands should be allowed to figure out themselves.

“You aren’t too mad at me, are you?” he asked.

I smiled again. He gets a suspicious look in his eye. “You aren’t going to blog about this, are you?”

“Would I do that?” I ask.

Convinced, Hubby leans back and goes to sleep. As the bald guy starts snoring, I start working on my blog. Hey, I didn't say I wasn't going to blog about it. Like I said, some things husbands need to figure out themselves.

So, anyone else directionally impaired? Can anyone explain why men always think they get the arm rest on planes? Why is it that some men can’t sleep if one hand isn’t in their pants? Can anyone tell me how I can politely tell Mr. Bald Guy to stop drooling on me?

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why I Am A Technical Writer

Those of you who've followed my career passages on my personal blog already know that I used to be a CFO who stepped down from that stressful, long-hours position in order to pursue my writing career. Now, since I haven't won the lottery, I still need a day job, but I'd always liked the software side of my job more than the accounting, so I decided to see if I could find a job more towards the software side of things. And what better place to start my search than the company whose software I'd been using for 18 years?

So I went to their website and low and behold, they were looking for a Corporate Trainer - but not just any corporate trainer - this trainer needed to also be an accountant at an executive level and they preferred industry experience and a lot list of other items that I had completely covered. So I applied - was hired - and everyone was thrilled. So I embarked on my corporate training career in June 2006. I lasted until October 2007.

Why, you ask - well part of it was the travel which was brutal. Sometimes I was in 5 different cities in one month. I've racked up enough airline points to STILL have 3 more round trip tickets available even though I used two last year. And the airlines were always delayed or cancelled or just down right stupid. So travel was definitely part of it.

But the main reason I had to leave training is because of people. I'm just not a people person. And client training is the worst. My best and worst example of what you might deal with as a trainer is Leroy.

Leroy was 85 if he was a day - half blind and mostly deaf - mind you this is software training. He also typed with two fingers. After the first hour of trying to lead class from the front of the room on the projector, I finally gave up yelling and conducted the remainder of the class that day standing behind Leroy so that I could point and wouldn't have to yell quite as loud. After all, it was a three day class and I needed my voice for another 2 days. Not only was Leroy a painfully slow typist, but as he typed, he had to say everything he was typing out loud. Now, remember, Leroy was mostly deaf, so his idea of saying things out loud was yelling - "1 - 3 - 3 - West - Main - Street - Tab - Tab - Tab....." Anyway, you get the idea.

The rest of the class alternated between trying not to laugh and wondering what the hell an employer was thinking spending money sending this man to class. Leroy also would leave in the middle of class to go to the restroom. Now, we have scheduled breaks and the problem with leaving during class is that all the exercises build on each other. So if someone leaves during class, and they're not too quick on the draw, guess what - that's right - I have to stop the class or they will never catch up.

As if all that wasn't bad enough - on the last day of class, Leroy got gas.

I was back at the podium, yelling since it was the last day, when I got a whiff of something awful. I look up at the frightened face of a girl in the first row (Leroy was behind her). She had that deer-in-the-headlights look. Then she mouths "is that him" and makes a motion behind her. Her manager is sitting on the other side of the room and giving her the evil eye for disrupting class. The girl motions with her head behind her to Leroy then holds her nose and fans her face. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.

So I figure we might as well take a break a little early. The room needed to be fumigated and there was the strong possibility that Leroy needed to clean his drawers. I was hoping it was a one-time event.

I was wrong.

The entire afternoon Leroy polluted the classroom to a level that the EPA would have taken notice of. The front row girl had gotten room deodarizer from her manager on break and finally took to spraying it directly on Leroy. But it didn't slow him down one bit. When everyone started to turn green, I speed up the text, skipped all the remaining exercises and dismissed class early. Everyone raced outside.

Shortly after that, I was at a user conference and speaking with the Manager of Documentation, who was looking for another Technical Writer to write training documentation. I perked up. Hey, no people, no classroom, no travel - NO LEROY!

It took a couple of months to work out the paperwork and get me transferred but that is how I made the journey from CFO to Technical Writer, where I feel I have finally found my perfect place to be.

Deadly (but not as deadly as Leroy) DeLeon

Saturday, March 15, 2008

True Lies: Writing Fiction About Real People

Hi Guys,

Here at Killer Fiction we celebrate all kinds of fiction. And today, I want to introduce you to Laura Joh Rowland our guest blogger. Personally, I admire Laura for choosing to write a fictional story about a real person. Call me a coward, for I've found it's easier to even use fictional towns. That way, no one can question my research. So, please help me welcome Laura who was up to a challenge and did an amazing job.

Take it away, Laura.

Creating fictional characters from scratch is no piece of cake. You have to blend together physical, intellectual, and emotional traits, then breathe life into the result. It's an act of magic.

Using real people instead might seem easier. They've created themselves. And if they're famous, they come with readymade biographies. A little research, and you're good to go. Right?


When I set out to write my novel, The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte, I learned that putting real characters into fiction comes with unique challenges. Unless you're writing a fictionalized biography, at some point you will have to depart from the facts of the character's life. You must create a story into which the character can fit.

I did this by inserting a fictional episode into the framework of Charlotte Bronte's history. I chose a time in her life (1848, after Jane Eyre became a scandalous bestseller) and an experience she had (her trip to London with her sister Anne) as a starting point for a great adventure that she must, for various reasons, keep a secret. I incorporated real people from Charlotte's life, including her family and her publisher. I set scenes in her hometown of Haworth, Yorkshire. But the story is a product of my imagination. Charlotte witnesses a murder and becomes embroiled in a hunt for a villain who is plotting the downfall of the British Empire.

These were dangerous waters for me, the author, as well as for Charlotte, the heroine. When you cast a real person in the role of fictional protagonist, you will inevitably have her do things she never did in life. These may be things that she would not have condoned, that seeing her do would have upset her family and friends. You may lay yourself wide open to charges of slander and libel.

Fortunately, in my case, I don't have to worry about lawsuits. Charlotte Bronte is long dead, and she left no descendents. But that doesn't mean there's no one to object if I showed her involved in situations she never actually encountered and taking actions never described in her biography (such as going undercover in the household of Queen Victoria and making love to a dashing spy for the Crown). The image of a historical figure is often based less on fact than on hearsay and misrepresentations. I learned this when I began submitting the manuscript of The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte to publishers.

I collected 30-plus rejections, many due to the discrepancy between how I see Charlotte and how the editors perceive her. I portrayed Charlotte as an adventurous spirit who craves new experiences and passionate romance. Her biographies describe how she traveled far and wide for a woman of her background, dared to write a book, became a national celebrity, and fell passionately in love at least once. Although I took considerable liberties with her character, my version of Charlotte is grounded in emotional if not technical truth.

But the editors who rejected my book said, "That's not how I envision Charlotte," and "I can't picture her outside of Haworth." My search for a publisher was a matter of finding an editor who saw eye to eye with me regarding Charlotte. I was lucky to find that editor in Juliet Grames at Overlook Press.

Now I wait to hear what readers think of The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte. I can hardly expect to match everyone's notions of who Charlotte was and what she would or wouldn't have done. But I hope that most readers will think that my rendition of her contains at least a grain of truth.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Doing my part to recycle

I’m on one of those online dating services where you can check out other people’s profiles, write to any fellows that catch your eye without divulging your real email address, and browse through men by location, age, eye color, political affiliation, income level and about a hundred other qualifications. It’s kind of like ordering from a menu, which, I’ll admit, feels a little silly. (I’ll take a brunette who makes six figures and has blue eyes, please.) But, one thing I do like about this site is that I can see who is viewing my profile. Kind of like having a girlfriend with you when you go out to let you know which guys are checking you out behind your back.

The other day I was going through the list of guys who had viewed me, and I came across one that looked interesting. A little younger than I am, but that can be fun. Dark hair, kinda angsty looking in a very Johnny Depp way. I clicked on his profile. Hello. Nice pics. Looked like party boy for sure – lots of them taken at bars and restaurants – but definitely built. But the one pic that got me was of him in a kilt, holding a baby. Is there anything hotter than a cute guy holding a baby? Yes! Put him in a kilt! (Okay, my family’s Scottish, so I may be a little biased on this one. But seriously, Braveheart – tell me that wasn’t hot!)

So, even though I’m trying to steer clear of the young party boys at this point in my life, somehow my fingers acted all on their own, typing out a friendly hello message to him. (Fine, I’m not trying that hard.) Half an hour later I see he’s replied. Wow, that was quick. I open the message.

And freeze.

Not only did he write back, but he addressed me by my last name. I have a moment of shear gut wrenching panic wondering how on earth he found out my last name. This is supposed to be a secure dating site. Is he some sort of hacker? Does the site have a glitch? What other sort of personal information can these guys see about me? So, with my heart doing it’s imitation of a jackhammer, I read the rest of the note. Where he goes on to say how great it is to *see* his old L.A. roomie again. Roomie? What the…? I click on his picture again, cocking my head to the side as I study it.

When I was in my early twenties I lived in L.A. working as an actress. Money was tight, so lived in this big house with a bunch of other actor slash somethings. Actor slash waiters, actor slash security guards, actor slash tattoo artists… you get the point. And, since acting isn’t the most stable profession, roommates were always coming and going. At any given point there were anywhere from 4 to 8 of us living under the same roof. Think Friends but without the fancy loft and we're all Joey. (And, yes, for anyone who’s read my books, the Actor’s Duplex where Dana lives is totally modeled after this experience.)

So, as I stare at this guy’s picture it all comes flooding back, and in a total forehead smacking moment I realize I know him. He’s Actor Slash Personal Trainer! How could I forget? Not only do I know him, but I lived with the man for six months. I’ve seen in him in nothing but his boxers, making morning coffee.

It’s official. I’ve gone through all the men and am now recycling the old ones.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Today is the one year anniversary of another fabulous blog – Beyond Her Book by Barabra Vey. Barbara Vey works as a blogger for Publisher's Weekly, a book industry magazine that's pretty much the "gold standard" of the business. (It’s the Vogue of our world.) Barbara is unique in that she LOVES romance novels and frequently talks about them on her blog, not only giving us great tips about new authors to pick up, but also adding validity to our genre. Her blog is currently up for review by the Publisher’s Weekly big wigs, so she’s asking that anyone who can, please visit her blog today so she can wow them with record numbers of readers and keep blogging about the genre we all love.
To help her out, just go to

Whoops! I did it again!

Whoo hoo! I finished writing my latest book! It's par-teee time!

While I always get an immense amount of satisfaction (not to mention relief!) when I finish a book, I also feel a certain degree of the surreal when it comes to my writing. It's still hard to believe I actually get to do something I love so much, have thousands of people read what I've written--and get paid for it! The other day I got to thinking about those days when I sold my first book, Calamity Jayne. What an incredibly exciting time. And where the hard work truly begins. Since 2005, I've written eight books. EIGHT BOOKS! I'm still trying to get my head around that. It seems like every time I finish another book, I'm stunned that I've actually done it again. I wonder if I'll still feel that way on book 12 or book 20?

In a week that has had its ups and downs (more downs than ups unfortunately due to a scary vehicle mishap) it's been nice to be able to point to something real (such as a 400 page book) and say, "See, Kathy, you did it! You did it again!"

I wish I had time to celebrate. Take a day off and do absolutely nothing but rent a stack of DVDs and vej out on the couch with Cadbury Creme Eggs, Coke, and Doritos or curl up with a couple of books from my 'to be read' stack and my favorite blanky. But, no can do. I gave up soda back in August of last year, cut down on sodium, and have limited my caffeine intake to the occasional hunk of dark chocolate. Plus, I've got a 'Kathy do' list a mile long that I've put off attending to for months. Real fun things like housecleaning, cleaning out the winter grunge from my vehicle, painting projects, pictures to hang, carpets to shampoo, and, now that the snow is finally melting, yard work. Only problem is in this business you can't let any grass grow under your feet or you'll be pushing up daisies. (I'm pining away for summer. Can you tell?) So, I'm also moving on to the next book, with a new character whispering (okay, shouting) in my ear to hurry up and write their story already.

In addition to finishing my latest CJ caper, next week is spring break. No classes. Temperatures warming up. How do I plan to spend it? Trying to finish a book I started three years ago and is only half done. Two hundred pages. Ten days. You do the math. Sigh.

Guess those dust bunnies will be around for awhile after all. Oh, well, it's Easter time. Bunnies are kind of expected, right?

So, is Spring Break a big deal for any of you? Anybody have special plans or get to travel? Go ahead and share if you do. I promise I won't say that many naughty things about you if you are lucky enough to be getting away.

And next Thursday you want to make sure you don't miss stopping by. Guest-blogging for Killer Fiction will be incredibly gifted Harper Collins debut author Jordan Dane marking the release of her first book No One Heard Her Scream March 25th.
Jordan's hit the trifecta with three books released back to back with No One Left To Tell and No One Lives Forever hitting bookstore shelves in April and May respectively. Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to pick the brain of a dynamite debut author who is truly living the dream! Visit Jordan's website at .
Hate to blog and run but 'Kathy's to-dos' call!
~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leslie Langtry; Army of One

Many people might be surprised to know that I have more handguns than my husband. They would be equally shocked (and maybe somewhat concerned about knowing me) if they knew that several of my guns are more expensive than his (by the way, the same is true for my shoes and handbags. Not that he carries handbags that is.).

You may think that strange considering that he actually uses them in his work. But if you were aware of my self-destructive urges for all things PRADA and GUCCI, it makes perfect sense.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Scaring the hell out of my gentle readers. Except for the pirates. (This will affect my application to join the crew positively, right Hellion?). My interest in guns goes back probably to my adolescent love of all things pulp. My comic book heroes fought bad guys who had big, steel semi-automatics and some of my heroes used them - usually with one in each hand (which looked soooo awesome in primary colors!).

My father had a toy gun of his from the '40's. It was a huge .45 replica and it was heavy and looked totally real. I loved that thing. However, growing up in a liberal household also meant we had political cartoons around the house in favor of gun control on the fridge (I think my parents thought that confusing their children was somehow educational and not at all cruel). I was a bit of an anomaly (which sounds so much nicer than "fantasy-deluded geek" ). But I grew up thinking that if there were no guns, there'd be no violence. Kumblahyah blah blah.

Then, I met Tom. When Tom got out of the Army and moved all of his stuff into our apartment, I was a bit surprised to see duffel after duffel of amunition and armaments streaming through the front door. Had I married into a militaristic sleeper cell? Was I destined to see my life played out by Lindsey Wagner in a Hallmark tv special? I expressed my self-righteous, liberal horror. He decided I needed an education.

We were living in Lynchburg, Virginia (which has as their town hero a guy known as "The Lame Lion of Lynchburg," which is funny on it's own but for another time, perhaps) and Tom took me to a gun show (where you could smoke and they even gave out tobacco samples). He bought me a 9mm semiautomatic and decided to begin my education the next day at a shooting club in Roanoke.

Let me tell you why this did not work. First of all, a semiauto is very complicated and if you've never racked a slide before...okay, since I'd never racked a slide before, I found I couldn't. It was too heavy and I not only had wimpy little T-Rex arms, but also wimpy little fingers. Tom bought me a gun for a guy who's handled guns. The bastard.

The gun club had the answer. They recommended I start with a revolver and at the time, Smith and Wesson was making guns for women - it's Ladysmith line. My first real gun was a lovely .38 that was smaller to fit my hand, and it had a beautiful, handcarved mahogany grip. The club also had a class just for women taught by a retired female Secret Service agent. I signed up.

Tom then bought me the book, Armed & Female, by Paxton Quigley. I used to read it on airplanes (this was back in the early '90's). It kept the lecherous assholes who assumed I was a slutty college chick from talking to me. Sigh. I loved that. Well, not the part about being a slutty college chick, but the part about intimidating rednecks. MOM - SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH. Okay, I actually liked the slutty college chick thingy too.

The class was amazing. Over nine weeks, we learned the history and parts of a gun, how to take it apart and put it back together, and finally, how to shoot. We shot everything with a firing pin. Police Officers were frequent visitors to the class and told us over and over that 1) they would rather teach women than men anyday and 2) women were far more terrifying to them than men in a life and death situation. (I think we all knew that, didn't we?)

Oh yeah. The class ended with a Practical Pistol Shooting competition. I came in second to a female police officer. The trophy sits in the playroom and the kids get a kick out of telling their friends it's not their dad's trophy - it's mom's.

I still shoot - not competitively anymore. We have a nice little range here at home I use. It's a phenomenal stress reliever. After about fifty shots dead center to a paper target and I feel better than I do after an entire box of homicidal-urge-erasing Midol.

And don't worry about me. I'm still a total bleeding-heart liberal...a well-armed one, but a liberal nonetheless.

The Assassin

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Out of The Mouth of Babes

Anyone who has had kids or been around one very long knows that kids can say the funniest, the most embarrassing and sometimes even the most thought-provoking things. Well, through the years, I’ve written up some of my kids’ “funny things.” Some of them I’ve actually sold to magazines, others I’ve written up to embarrass them. Hey…paybacks can be hell! Enjoy.

Same Thing, Different Word

While having dinner with my new neighbors, my four-year-old son piped up and announced that he had "pooted." Thoroughly embarrassed, I leaned over and whispered that such words were not nice, especially at the dinner table.

He considered it a few minutes and then apologized.

Shortly later he broke into the conversation and announced proudly, "Hey, guys. I just burped in my pants."

Smart, But Not That Smart

Nina, my three-year-old daughter, began learning her letters at a very remarkable age. I must admit to feeling proud when we went to the county fair and stood in front of the soda booth and she started pointing to the Pepsi emblem and naming off the letters. "That's remarkable," a lady replied. "Do you know how to read, too?"

Nina's answer came quick, "Yes." I was too filled with pride to rebuke her claim.

"What does that say?" the lady asked, pointing back to the Pepsi emblem.

Nina smiled and answered with remarkable confidence, "It says, Coke."

All Grown Up…Almost

Much to my surprise, my seven-year-old daughter came home from first grade talking about college. "I can't wait. It sounds so exciting. I can choose the subjects I like. So you know I'll make all A's. I can make my own schedule. Go to the bathroom anytime I want. The teachers won’t treat me like a kid."

She sounded more seventeen than seven and I was quite proud of my grown-up little girl. Then her young brow wrinkled in puzzlement. And she turned to me with real concern in her eyes, "But Mama, will we still get to go out and play at recess?"


One night at dinner, my four-year-old son dropped the last of his pizza on his plate and requested his dessert.

"First you have to finish your dinner," I said.

He glanced down at his pizza crust and innocently replied, "I did. I ate everything but the handle."

He got his dessert.

Color Blindness

One day, my son had a friend, eight-year-old Andrew, over to play. My husband and I were taking the boys out for hamburgers when Andrew announced that last weekend he and his family had taken a trip to New Orleans to attend his aunt’s wedding.

Making casual conversation I turned to him and asked, “Was it your mother’s sister or your dad’s sister?”

Little Andrew’s brow crinkled together in thought and then a little embarrassed he admitted, “I’m not really sure.”

It took a few minutes for my husband and I to realize the beautiful significance of his ignorance. You see, Andrew is a bi-racial child, his father African-American and his mother White. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all could be so color blind?

All Boy

I was driving my six-year-old son to school when he popped out with an unusual question. "Mom, are there more girls in the world than there are boys?"

I turned to glance at him. "Well, as a matter of fact, there are more girls than boys.”

"Then that explains it!" he blurts out as if he'd just found an answer to a long-asked question.”

"Explains what?" I queried.
"Why everywhere I go, I always notice the girls but I never notice the boys."

Too Much Boy

While having dinner with my husband’s boss and his wife, my three-year-old son decided he wanted to add to the conversation. And in his excited little boy voice, he says, “My dad has a big Pee-Pee. And when I grow up, I’m going to have one, too!”

My husband’s boss simply chuckled and said, “And I’m sure your mom is really thrilled.”

Way Too Much Boy

Once, while getting dressed to take my three-year-old son to Mother’s Day Out, my son came into the room. When I turned around, he was staring at me. “You know mom, I kind 'a like looking at you naked.”

And that was the last time he did, too!

Okay…come on, do some sharing. Let me hear some of your kids, grandkids or nieces and nephew’s funny/thought-provoking sayings. I’ll be giving away a few set of note cards to one chosen blogger.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, March 10, 2008


Okay, I'll admit it - I loved the X-Files. In fact, it's probably my favorite all-time series. And since I own all of the seasons on dvd, I decided on Sunday to start something I've been wanting to do for a long time - watch the entire show back to back in a huge X-Files marathon. Why, you ask? Well, one because it's cool! And two, I think I'd get the whole conspiracy plot better if I watched them all without a six month break in between seasons.

So I started on Sunday with season one and am loving it.

I also have to say that Mulder is so totally the Hero I am looking for - believes in strange things and likes to investigate them. Plus he's got nerves of steel and quite frankly, I've always thought David Duchovny is hot. So if anyone knows a DD sort of FBI investigator around Dallas, let me know.

So what about you guys - what's your favorite television show - old or new - and why?

Friday, March 07, 2008

How to impress a mystery writer

This week I met a fire dancer. Yeah, he actually lights things on fire and dances with them. Cool, huh?

I’ll admit, physically he wasn’t really my type – blond, pale skin, kind of metro-sexual. Generally I go for the tall dark and ruggedly handsome type (though, since I’m only 5’2” ‘tall’ is a totally relative term), but after seeing pictures of him doing his fire dancing thing, how could I not meet him? That’s just cool!

So, we tried to meet for coffee, but Starbucks was closed for some sort of staff meeting. (Seriously, I’m there enough, I think I deserve the interoffice memos when this happens.) Instead, we hopped down the street to the Borders café to grab a cup of coffee and do the first date getting-to-know-you chit-chat. But honestly, it’s clear we’re not clicking. He likes sports, I like to read. He likes to travel, I’m thrilled to be staying home this year. He’s a chai tea, I’m a double latte. We both pretty much knew it was doomed. In an effort to save the date from totally crashing and burning, I suggested popping over to the romance section to check out my books. Which he seems to think is pretty cool, I mean how many dates end in a book signing, right?

Sadly, luck was not with me. No copies of Alibi in High Heels out in the store yet. Still in a crate in the back waiting to be unpacked. I think at this point Dances With Fire is starting to wonder if I’m was really an author or just faking to impress him. (Trust me, if I was gonna lie, I’d say I’m Nora Roberts.) To save face, I finally find one old copy of Killer in High Heels shoved in the back. Aha! See, I really do write stuff.

He takes the book, turns it over. Asks, “So, are you anything like your main character?”

I hate when people ask this. Because, um, yes, I am. Exactly like her. So, I kind of hedge, “Well, a little. But I swear I’ve never stumbled over any dead bodies.”

And then he says, “I have.”

Hello. Now things are getting interesting.

He tells me about a time when he went hiking a few years ago and walked into a clearing. There, hanging from a tree, was a body. He was all alone out there and, having just watched the Blair Witch Project, freaked out, hopped on his motorcycle, and sped the whole way home before calling the police. Unfortunately, the police couldn’t locate the body on their own, so he had to drive all the way back out to the woods and lead a team of law enforcement back to the clearing where, sure enough, the dead guy was still hanging there. He got to watch the ME arrive, the CSI people go over the clearing for any little bits of evidence, the entire crime scene procedure. I think he thought I was a little weird when I yelled, “Lucky! I’m so jealous!”

And when I asked him about the body, he gave me a funny look and said, “Uh, girls usually don’t want to hear about that. It was kind of, um, decomposing.”

I think it was the way my eyes lit up and I slid onto the edge of my seat to ask, “What stage of decomp was he in?” that had him ending the date early.

Moral of the story – you gotta have a strong stomach to date a mystery writer.

So, any of you ever had experiences with a crime before?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, March 06, 2008

All the News That Is...Seriously Whacked!

No, this is not a blog about Gerard Butler. I’m just sort of obsessed with the man. But now that I’ve got your attention...

I’m trying to finish up my latest CJ book. It’s weird. Some books just pour out of me and I can’t type fast enough. Others are like Chinese water torture. Drip. Drip. Drip. Delete. Drip. Drip. Drip. Delete. This book has been like that. Sigh.

And even though I’m nearing my deadline, I still find my attention wandering. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a political junkie (recovering variety), but with the tight Democratic race for the presidential nomination, I find it especially hard to tune out the drama. It’s better than an episode of Desperate Housewives. The other night as primary returns trickled in I sat at my computer listening to live-stream coverage while I wrote--which means I’ll have to be extra careful when I do my final editing next week. I’m thinking my editor would likely fall out of his chair if Tressa Jayne offered an opinion on, say, the differences between Clinton’s and Obama’s universal health care plans or speculated on who is really for NAFTA and who isn’t?

In addition to being a recovering political junkie, I’m also a news junkie. I can spend hours reading articles on the internet--which isn’t helpful when I’m trying to finish one stubborn book. So, I’ve had to strike a bargain with myself. Bullet Hole bangs out so many pages, she gets so many minutes for an internet break. A reasonable compromise, right? It would be if the darned headlines weren’t quite so intriguing. Take these headlines for instance:

~ Blind Man Regains Sight After Doctors Implant Son’s Tooth in His Eye
~ Twin Porn Actors Suspected in Dozens of Burglaries in Three States
~ Spanking May Lead to Sexual Problems Later in Life~ Professor Faces 180 Lashes for Having Coffee With Student~ Man Asks Friend to Shoot Him So He Can Skip Work
Tell me you could resist clicking on these headlines to read the articles.

I didn’t think so.

Then there was the headline, ‘When Pigs Fly? Letter Urges Deceased Potbelly to Vote’, the story of Princess Winston, a Winter Haven, Florida, potbelly pig who’s passed on but who received a letter from a D.C. voter registration organization urging Princess to register to vote. Two days later, Princess also received a phone call reminding her to register. I’ve heard about dead people voting, but a dead pig? Tell me that wasn’t worth reading.

Next came the compelling headline, ‘Cops: Florida Man Blames Gas Costs for Beating Ill Wife.’ Apparently a fellow was so upset at the high cost of gas used driving his wife to and from dialysis treatments, he beat her up. Beyond bizarre.

From there my attention was garnered by the headline, ‘South African Woman, 68, Scared to Death. Seriously, who’s going to see that bit of news and not check it out? Turns out, the poor woman was visiting a post office in South Africa when a security guard’s gun accidentally went off. The noise scared her so much she collapsed and quit breathing. Tragic--yet totally fascinating.

Next up? My personal favorites of the week. Headline number one: Big Breasts Win Verdict for Model.’ Did you hear about this? Some pin-up model in Japan successfully won an appeal of her conviction for destruction of property when she proved her pair of ‘forty-fours’ were too big for her to squeeze through the hole her accuser testified she used to gain entry to his room. 'If they don't fit, you can't convict.' Imagine. Not guilty by reason of cup size! Gotta be a first. Like, who could pass this story up?
And then we come to this attention-snaring headline: ‘Royal Opera House Yanks Ad After Actor Who Posed Nude Claims Genitals Were Airbrushed to Look Smaller’. (I personally prefer the headline, ‘Warning! Airbrushed Objects May Appear Smaller Than They Actually Are’) Anyway, seems some actor in the UK posed nude for London’s Royal Opera House some years ago. The photo was brought out of the archives recently, dusted off, and, apparently, airbrushed and used to promote a Verdi concert. The actor/model claims the ad doesn’t, um, do him justice, indicating a certain part of his anatomy was airbrushed so much, “it looked like he barely had one at all.” After the actor filed a complaint, the ad was pulled. On my best day, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Still I justify my news addiction by telling myself you never know where you’ll find a story idea. That’s what happened with Calamity Jayne. My mom gave me a newspaper clipping about a son-in-law who borrowed his in-laws’ car, took it to the mall and shopped, came out, drove it back to the in-laws, and then discovered he’d taken the wrong car. That little news item was the basis for my first Calamity Caper. You just never know when you might land a biggie when you go trolling for news.

So, any of you have funny headlines or news stories to share? Even though I’m in deadline hell, I’m always in the market for a ‘stranger than fiction’ quicky!


~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How I Finally Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Blog

First of all I must apologize. I'm on a deadline for final edits of STAND BY YOUR HITMAN so I don't have much. I know you are expecting some story where I tell you how I was easily outwitted by my girl scouts/children/mailman/cat/the Illuminati/etc. but all my creative energy is going into the book. That is why the title of this blog is longer than the actual blog.

You'd think that with two books under my belt (why do they say that? Who shoves books under their belts? It's so NOT slenderizing at all) I'd be less of a greenhorn (and how did they come up with that? Did incompetent people in the wild west have green horns growing out of their temples? Someone please look that up). But when my lovely (and she really is lovely!) editor writes "don't tell us that she thinks he's intelligent - show us," all I can think of is how to transcribe a quadratic equation or solve the mystery of cold fusion (I can't do either - by the way) in dialogue form. Oh well, I'll figure it out.

I do have this to share, though - one of my favorite fan letters ever. The woman went on and on (yay!) about how much she likes my books and ended with this shimmering spoonfull of wisdom:

"Your words made my day suck a little less."

I'm thinking of having that stenciled on my office walls.

I'll write more next week.

The Assassin