Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Betty Crocker's Laser Light Cakestravaganza

Before I get started, note the photo above. It's Sin (the ravishing brunette on my right) and Hellion (the fiery redhead on my left)! We were all at the Spring Fling conference in Chicago last weekend and shared many cocktails, laughs and one author-related cootie catcher. Hey Girls!

So, here’s my week:

Tuesday – Talent Show Rehearsal – requires lugging two amps, two guitars and a tambourine up to school and sitting through hours of elementary-quality “talent” and two seriously creepy showbiz moms (who can't understand why we aren't providing a smoke machine and lazer light show for their kids). Later that evening was the Boy Scout Cake Auction – required baking and decorating a cake that would (hopefully) look like a crystal ball and then bidding on it and leaving paying 200% more than it cost to make. Eat expensive-but-for-a-good-cause cake and collapse. (Above is the only photo in existence of me, wearing an apron. Get an eyeful cuz you'll never see one again in my lifetime.)

Wednesday – Girl Scout meeting – which requires sewing newest merit badges (3) and newest fun patches (4) on uniform, organizing meeting (always act like you know what you are doing – even…no, especially if you don’t) and then actually running said meeting. Pick up spouse at airport, eat cake with vodka chaser and collapse.

Thursday – Margaret’s 10th birthday, which means I have to have 3 dozen treats for her to take to school, drop off spouse at airport, clean the house for the family to come over, have all presents purchased and actually wrapped, celebrate, eat cake with ice cream chaser and collapse.

Friday – At 4pm, my friend Beth and I are driving our daughters, two sons and six other screaming, squirming girls to the Amanas (an hour away) for an evening at the indoor waterpark where the motif is based on Amish butterchurning (seriously). This serves as Margaret and Hannah’s party for friends since they are one day apart and would just invite the same girls anyway. I won’t even go into detail since it’s too exhausting to even think about. At some point though, I will eat cake and collapse.

Saturday – Once we get home from the aforementioned birthday party about noon, I’ll be scrambling to get ready. I’m emceeing Wince (look up Cringe) Readings at Venus Envy - an arts festival celebrating women visual, musical and literary artists. This will basically be an hour or two of women reading embarrassing love notes, prose, poetry or diary entries from their teenage years. Which means I have to find something to read since I’m starting it. The whole event takes place in the Bucktown Artscenter and apparently the Wince thingy is sharing a room with two women doing performance art in the nude. And they are both thin. There’s nothing in my closet to compete with that. After 11pm, I’ll have several martinis with a cake chaser and collapse.

Sunday – Feel extreme regret for all that cake binging…eat cake and collapse.

So. What are you guys up to?

The Assassin Who Really Wishes She Was Right Now

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Girlfriends, Broken Hearts, Tampon Aisles & Hidden Sardines

I was sitting here, trying to figure out what to blog about, running out of time. Searching deep, needing a topic.

Then the phone rang. At first, all I heard was heavy breathing, and I had it down for one of “those” calls. I should have hung up, but you know, some of “those” calls can be inspiration for my novels, and maybe even a blog, so I held on and waited. Then I heard her.

“He’s here.”

I recognized the voice of one of my girlfriends. (She will remain anonymous to protect the guilty.)

“Who’s there?” I asked her.

“You know who.” There was total contempt in her voice and I knew immediately who she meant. Girlfriends just know those kind of things.

Yeah, she meant her ex. “Where are you?” I said.

“Grocery store. What do I do?” Panic echoed in her voice. She hadn’t seen him over a year, but as you can guess, the memories were still fresh. Still painful.

I thought quickly. “Go to the Kotex/tampon aisle. He’ll never go down that aisle.”

“Good idea,” she muttered and I heard her on the move. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I heard her saying and then she said, “Oh, gawd. I nearly ran over a little old lady buying cat food.”

“Take some deep breaths,” I told her. “You can’t kill someone’s grandma. Especially one that loves cats.”

Still whispering, she asked, “How did he get out?”

In case you are wondering, she didn’t mean prison. She meant the compost pile. It’s where we, my friends and I, mentally bury people when they tick us off. (Hey, when you have a good imagination, visualizing this stuff makes you feel better. You might be surprised who is in my compost pile.)

“I don’t know,” I told her. “He might have slipped out when I buried the Weight Watchers attendant.”

She chuckled and then I heard her inhale deeply. “Why am I so afraid to see him?”

I knew why. It had everything to do with her having her heart broken and about the scumbag cheating on her. But she didn’t want to hear that, not right then, so I dug a little deeper. “Probably because you’re afraid he figured out who left the fish in the trunk of his car.”

When in doubt, I always use humor. And that whole fish thing had been really funny.

“They were sardines,” she said and laughed. “And he deserved it.”

“I know.” I laughed with her. “I personally thought it was very inventive.”

“You should,” she said sarcastically. “It was your idea.”

We both laughed again. But in all honesty, I never thought she’d do it. Of course, of all the ideas I gave her, that was the one least likely to land her in jail. Which is probably why my hubby swears he’ll never cheat on me.

Fifteen minutes later, she was reading tampon and Kotex boxes to me and we were laughing about the craziest girl kind of stuff.

“You know,” I said, finally stating the obvious, “I realize you feel safe, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to leave the women’s protection aisle.” Sooner or later, she was going to move past the anger, the hurt, and get on with her life. But I’d been there a long time ago, with hubby one, and I knew sometimes it just took time.

“What if he’s still there?” she asked.

“Okay,” I said, “Just leave your groceries and sneak out the door.”

“I can’t.”

“Because you don’t have makeup on and are afraid he’ll see you?” I asked.

“No! Because I’m out of coffee.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “So you’d rather run into him than run out of coffee?”

“You know what I’m like without caffeine,” she insisted and laughed.

I realized then that she might be moving past heartbreak better than I thought.

I stayed on the phone with her until she got out of the grocery store, her coffee in tow, and my blog still unwritten.

Before she hung up, I got the idea and I asked her, “Can I blog about this?”

She said it was okay, as long I didn’t deny that the sardines were my idea and I didn’t use her name. So there you have it—my crazy blog about girlfriends helping girlfriends, about broken hearts, about the need to move on and how hard it can be to do it. About how important coffee is and about how badly a few sardines hidden in a trunk of a car can smell and how hard they can be to find, especially if you hide them under the carpet where the spare tire is kept.

So, what about you, got any girlfriend stories to share? Moving on stories?

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Diet Wars

For any of you who spent your Sunday enjoying the fantastic weather (or freezing your buns off depending on where you live), please scroll down and read yesterday's interview with mystery writer, Wendy Roberts. Great information from a great author!

So if you've been reading the blog for a while, you know I've been on the big lose weight push. Lots of people struggle with weight loss and I'm no different - I've been fighting weight since my early 20's. It seems about the time I started taking hormone, even air put weight on me. Before that, I was a disgusting 100 pounds or so in high school - at 5'8" - and could outeat my entire household at one sitting. Then WHAM - it all changed and eating as I knew it was never the same.

A while back, I came across something I wrote for a company newsletter about 18 years ago, and I thought you might enjoy it. So without further ado -

DIARY OF A 3-HOUR DIETER (Monday morning)

8:00 Tell Ellen that I'm starting a diet and plan to lose 5 pounds by next week.
8:15 Have breakfast - 3 grapes and a cracker.
8:30 Budget variance meeting is disrupted when my stomach decides to speak up in protest of shortened due dates. Everyone stares.
8:32 Try killing hunger pains with a piece of cardboard disguised as a rice cake.
8:50 Stan stops by to say that my dress is getting too tight.
9:00 Sneak into breakroom and add a dash of aloe vera juice to Stan's bottled water stash.
9:15 Find myself licking Sweet-n-Low packages as I refill my coffee.
9:45 Can't take it any more, I have to have chocolate. Quickly transfer change from my purse to my pocket. Sneak around through the Regulatory Department and into the vending room. Buy M&M's. Dash into the bathroom in Stall #3. Pour the M&M's in my mouth and swallow them whole. Flush the incriminating evidence and leave before the subsequent flood gets my shoes wet. Dash back to my desk. Glance around at my workmates. I don't think anyone's noticed.
10:20 That bitty Ellen calls to see how the diet is going and to tell me the bathroom is closed until further notice.
10:45 Norma stops in to say that 150 pounds of her 200 pounds is the baby, and she will lose it all at the birth, restoring her weight to its original 50 pounds.
11:00 Throw in the towel and call Ellen. "What's for lunch."

By the way - I had a home gym installed on Saturday. :)

So did anyone else ever take a stab at writing short shorts for anything? Do any comedy? Well, if you did, I'd love to see it. In fact, I'd love to see it so much that I'm offering signed copies of RUMBLE and UNLUCKY for the best submission.

So email your brilliance to killercontest (at) gmail (dot) com.

Winner announced in a couple of weeks!

Deadly (dieting) DeLeon

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An Interview With Mystery Writer, Wendy Roberts

Today, Killer Fiction has a special guest – mystery author, Wendy Roberts.

Wendy is the author of the GHOST DUSTERS mystery series published by Penguin, and boy, do I love the concept. I get asked all the time to explain high concept, well, here it is. Wendy’s heroine is a forensic cleaner who can see the dead. And she manages to get mixed up in a murder or two or three while trying to help the dead get to rest.

The first book of the series, THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD, is available now and the second in the series, THE DEVIL MAY RIDE, will be available December 2008.

If you have any questions for Wendy, go ahead and ask. She is on vacation this weekend, but will follow up on any questions as internet connectivity allows.

So please, everyone, help me welcome mystery author, Wendy Roberts!!!!!!!! (much clapping, screaming and fanfare)

(Wendy) First, thanks to Jana and all the ladies of Killer Fiction for allowing me to be a guest!

We’re happy to have you! It’s always interesting getting an inside look at the minds of authors – scary sometimes, but always interesting. So let’s see what might interest our blog readers.

First question - where do you get your ideas………..Ha! I’m just joking! Seriously, your series has a bit of a dark side to it, so I was wondering what your influences are. Do you like horror movies, read Agatha Christie growing up, etc.?

I’m a huge mystery fan! I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon mysteries growing up. I have a complete Stephen King collection that is on a shelf next to my almost complete Nora Roberts collection. I don’t enjoy horror movies as much as I used to as a teen, but give me a good paranormal suspense movie like Sixth Sense and I’m hooked!

A girl after my own heart! I still have my Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drews.

So, you started your writing career targeting the romance genre, but had your first sell (DATING CAN BE DEADLY – Red Dress Ink) with chick-lit mystery. Now, you’re writing a mystery series. Do you find there are differences in writing a mystery versus a romance and if so, what have you had to change in your writing style to accommodate them?

Even when I was targeting romance, I mostly zoomed in on the romantic suspense lines like Harlequin Intrigue. Mystery, crime and mayhem have always wormed their way between my love scenes so I haven’t had to change my writing. In my last book, THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD, the main character’s romantic relationship with a coworker was still important even if it did play second fiddle to the mystery. I like my characters to have complete lives that go beyond both their love life and whatever murder is keeping them awake at night.

Well, you know you’re in good company with the ladies of Killer Fiction. We all love a little murder mixed in with a hot hero!

After making your first sale, chick lit kinda went by the wayside and you had to re-invent yourself in a new genre. Sometimes, new writers don’t realize just how hard that second sale can be. And lots of times, through no fault of the writer (as in your case) you find yourself without a home. There was quite a bit of time between your first and second sales. Tell us a little about how you approached rebranding yourself and how you overcame the fear and disappointment of thinking you had your foot in the door with chick lit mystery only to find yourself essentially starting over.

I got the call that sold my first book (Dating Can Be Deadly) in August 2003 and didn’t make another sale until October 2006. Those were three lean, mean, hungry years! After I made that first sale, I pounded the keyboard desperately but I was fighting the swirling flush of chick lit as it circled the toilet bowl LOL! Between 2003 and October 2006, I wrote four new manuscripts. When I finally stopped chasing the market and wrote a story because the premise caught my attention, I sold a three-book mystery series to Penguin Books.

Although my first sale was chick lit, it still had a mystery element with a paranormal edge and what I’m currently writing also has those same three elements (mystery, paranormal & romance) so the rebranding wasn’t difficult. Because there were so many years between the sales though, it was very much like starting over.

Wow! Two very important pieces of information in that answer – don’t chase the market and writer’s write. If you had given up, we wouldn’t have this fabulous new series to enjoy. (are you taking notes, guys?)

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I’m currently reading Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub. Next in my pile is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri and Karen Robards’ Guilty. I’ll read just about anything in fiction!

Great selections!

If you could write anything else, what would it be?

The next book! My mind only works in terms of that very next manuscript, the one calling seductively to me while I’m in the midst of writing my current one.

Ah, the dreaded seductive call. Yep, heard that a time or two myself.

What is the most satisfying thing about writing to you?

Killing people on paper and changing the names to protect the guilty! Seriously. Don’t piss me off.

I’m definitely buying the drinks the next time I see you.

Tell us one interesting thing about yourself that we probably don’t know (and I don’t count) J

Ah but Jana you ARE the most interesting friend I’ve got! One thing you may not know about me is that I have a love/hate relationship with the Poppit internet game where you pop cyber balloons for points. Other than that, I’m mostly a boring mom. J Thanks again for inviting me to play on Killer Fiction!

Thanks for the interview, Wendy!


Wendy Roberts is a fan of all things mysterious but a huge chicken at heart. She is the author of the Ghost Dusters mystery series for Penguin books which is about a woman who cleans crime scenes for a living and also talks to the ghosts of the dead. The Remains of the Dead is the first book in the series and it’s out now. Look for book two, The Devil May Ride, to be in stores December 2008. Wendy lives with her husband and four children in British Columbia where she’s hard at work on her next novel. You can visit her on the web at


UPDATE: The winner of a signed copy of Nancy's LA VIDA VAMPIRE is Ruth!! Ruth, email me with your address and we'll get your prize out to you ASAP. gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com. Congrats!!

I am so excited about Nancy Haddock’s new book, La Vida Vampire. Not only is this her debut book (I just love debuts!!), it’s all about a too cool vampire surfer chick named, Cesca, who teams up with a sexy ex-slayer to solve a murder mystery. How is that not a good time? And, because Nancy is just that cool, she’s giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter today! So, let’s give a killer welcome to Nancy…

What an honor to be blogging at Killer Fiction today! Killer Fiction authors are awesome, and they’re wonderful women, too. Thank you, Gemma, for inviting me, and waves to all of you!

Uh, excuse me a moment while I nudge my cohort and the star of La Vida Vampire, Cesca Marinelli, to join me.

I edge down the hall. You hear a whispered exchange.

“Cesca, we’re on. It’s time to talk about the book,” I say.

But Cesca can sure dig in her, uh, heels.

“You must be on something stronger than triple shot Starbucks if you think you’re getting me out there,” she replies.

“Why? Our hostesses are nice people. What’s the problem?”

Cesca peers out at Maddie Springer’s shoes and bites her lip - sans fangs – before she turns back to me.

“We can’t wear shorts and flip flops to this party. These ladies are fashionable right down to their killer heels, and so are their characters. I do read over your shoulder, you know.”

“Yeah, I figured that wasn’t Adrian Paul breathing down my neck, but why is high fashion suddenly a hang up? St. Augustine is one of the Casual Capitals of the entire world. You like casual.”

“I like,” she sniffs, “being properly dressed for the occasion. After all, it’s simple good manners.”

“Okay, then, change, but make it snappy. Wear the red number Saber likes.”

Cesca blushes, but through the miracle of technology - and a touch of vamp speed - she’s now wearing her power red skirt outfit and even sporting –

“Where did you get stilettos?” I cry now that she’s four inches taller and really towering over me.

Cesca smirks. “They’re on loan from Maddie. Sexy, huh?”

I eye her wobbling ankles and give thanks she’s a vampire. I have the feeling she’s hooked, and deadlines just don’t wait for broken bones to heal.

“Now what do you want me to talk about?” she asks, still eyeing the shoes with something akin to worship.

“You can start by telling people how we met and began our collaboration on La Vida Vampire.”


“And move on to your training as a ghost tour guide and how you learned to surf.”


“Then you can brag on what a fabulous writer and champion surfer I am, and how Saber wanted me but settled for you.”

“In your dreams,” she says, and I know I have her attention again. “You’re a champion faller.”

Can’t argue with that.

“Tell you what, Nance. You go talk about the book. I’m gonna see what Saber thinks of these shoes.”

“Wait a minute. What happened to simple good manners?”

“Oh, I think these ladies will understand if I duck out to show Saber these babies. I’ve read the blogs.”

Grrrr. “Fine, and if Saber likes the stilettos?”

“Then you get to take me shopping.”

I sigh. “Go, but when you come up for air, return Maddie’s shoes and get ready for revisions. We have a second book to deliver.”

Characters. A writer can’t live without ‘em, but it’s ever so much easier when they cooperate.

How about your characters? Do they promptly come out to play when you call? Do you have special coaxing – or coping – mechanisms when they don’t? Do you take your characters shopping, or is it just me? Inquiring minds want to turn the tables on Cesca, so sing out!

Nancy Haddock

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Heart Readers

One of the things I absolutely love is getting reader mail. When other people write to me and talk about my characters as if they’re real people, it just tickles me to no end. Whenever I’m having a particularly uncreative day (read: banging my head against the keyboard, asking myself, “But why does he kill her? There must be a motive, Gemma, think, girl!”) a note from a reader telling me they laughed so hard at Maddie’s latest misadventure that strangers stopped and stared at them, always inspires me to write more.

But, this week, I got one of my favorite reader letters yet.

It came via snail mail (odd in itself, as most of my readers send email) to my PO Box with no return address listed. But, seeing as it was hand addressed (always a sign something more interesting than a bill is inside!) I tore it open. And found an actual handwritten note inside. Cool!

Lovely Reader started off by saying how much she (I’m assuming it is a she) has loved my Heels books, and how funny Maddie is. Aw. I like her already. But then I read down to the next sentence and see the words “your last book” and “disappointed.”

Uh oh.

Honestly, this is every writer’s worst nightmare. That her last book doesn’t stand up against the earlier ones. That someone plunked down their hard earned $6.99 for one of my books and felt let down when she got to the end. I pause. I take a deep breath. I almost set the note aside, but the masochist in me comes out and urges me to continue reading.

So, I do.

In my last book, Alibi in High Heels, Maddie is torn between her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ramirez, and her admirer and sometimes-pain-in-the-butt friend, Felix. While Ramirez has always been Maddie’s hero, Felix has lately been finding his way into her life and into her heart. And, if you haven’t read Alibi, I won’t spoil it, but I’ll just say that in the end, Maddie has a big decision to make.

Lovely Reader has obviously read Alibi. She tells me that she has loved Ramirez from the start and can not believe that Maddie would even entertain romantic thoughts about Felix. “Stupid Felix” (as she calls him) doesn’t even know how to dress! Can’t even get a decent haircut! And he’s a tabloid reporter for crying out loud! Ramirez, on the other hand, is what she sees as a real hero. The bad boy with the heart of gold that we all love. She tells me he’s so much more right for Maddie, what a perfect fit they are together, what a great guy he is – he even followed her to Paris! Ramirez is the Ricky to Maddie’s Lucy. They belong together. She ends by begging me to please, please keep them together and keep Maddie away from Felix.

At this point I’ve stopped cringing and am trying really hard not to laugh. Not because I don’t share some of Lovely Reader’s sentiments (While I love Felix dearly, he is, I’ll admit, an atrocious dresser.), but because I do believe these are real people in her world. The tone and urgency of her letter is as if I’m Maddie, on the verge of choosing the wrong guy and ruining my life forever.

So, as much as I’m not sure if this was really a "fan" letter, it is one of my favorites. Anyone who gets that into my characters is awesome in my book. Unfortunately she didn’t sign her name, so I have no way of responding. So, Lovely Reader, if you’re out there I just want to assure you I got your note, and, trust me, I am so aware of all of Ramirez’s fab attributes. ‘Cause I gave them to him. ;) And I will be taking your plea to heart as I finish up Maddie’s last book.

And speaking of Maddie’s last book…

Yes, the book I’m working on right now, Mayhem in High Heels, will be Maddie’s swan song. I’ve had a great run with this series and really enjoyed writing it, but it’s time for something new for me. Wanna know what it is?

This week I “officially” agreed to write a new series for Dorchester, called the Hollywood Mysteries. The stories will center around the L.A. Informer, Los Angeles’s premier tabloid magazine, reporting on all the latest celebrity gossip, scandals and dirt. They’re not above a little sensational exaggeration and have even been known, on occasion, to bend the law in pursuit of a hot story. Their ace reporter, Felix Dunn (Mr. Bad Dresser himself), has just been promoted to managing editor. Now, he’s got his work cut out for him keeping the magazine running smoothly while keeping his staff in line, because each book in the series will follow a different one of the Informer's reporters as she investigates a story, unravels a mystery, and falls for her own fabulous hero. The first book, tentatively titled Hollywood Lies, should be out in late 2009.

What do you ladies think? Sound gun?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Don't forget to enter my contest to win a ARC of THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR STRUTTING... see the last post below for details!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


UPDATE: After putting all your names into a hat, the random winner is... Sin! Sin, email me with your addy and I'll send you ARC out ASAP! Congrats! gemmahalliday (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’ve got a signed Advanced Reader Copy of THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR STRUTTING to give away! All you have to do to be entered to win it is mention this blog somewhere between now and May 2nd. Mention it on your blog, your website, your myspace, an online forum or message board – anywhere online! Then, come back here and post a comment with a link to your mention, and you’re entered!

Good luck!

Bullet Hole's Got a Six Pack!

Bullet Hole’s officially got a ‘six-pack’

Before you become overly impressed by that blog title, let me assure you it has nothing whatsoever to do with my lackluster workouts at the 24 Hour Fitness Center. Still, I have every intention of becoming a lean, mean, fighting machine by the end of the summer. It’s just that’s it taking a little longer than I anticipated--and taking way more effort on my part than I bargained for. But I’ll get there! Honest!

Actually, the blog title refers to the fact that I ‘officially’ have six books in print. That’s what I’m calling my very own ‘six pack’. You see, while my latest book, FIANCÉ AT HER FINGERTIPS, wasn’t supposed to be out until April 29th, it’s already available at most of the usual on-line outlets--and has been for almost a week. (So much for release dates.) Yes. I know. I’ve whined about this before. Worry not. I won’t vent about it today. But its ‘unofficial official’ release makes me the author of an even half-dozen books, which is way beyond surreal. In fact, if you’d told me three years ago that I’d have six books published a mere thirty six months later, I’d have sworn you required some intensive therapy and strong pharmaceuticals.

No. Today is a day of celebration. Introspection. In this dog-eat-dog business where publishing houses are merging, lines are closing, slots are shrinking, and competition is at an all time high, hitting the half-dozen book mark is an accomplishment I’m rather proud of. But, like many other authors I think, I don’t take the time to mark these kinds of occasions as I should. To reflect. To look back at what I have accomplished and lift a glass to myself. It’s always on to the next story.

So today I just want to take some time, kick back, and enjoy my little ‘six pack’. It’s not going to be easy, you know. It’s so not my nature to stop and smell the roses. But I’m really going to try. Pinky swear.

What? Oh, dang. That’s right. My agent is waiting on a new proposal. Hmm. Yeah? Oh, crap. I forgot. This is finals week in my night classes and I have a paper to finish. Say what? It’s that time of the month? Oh. Bill-paying and bank statement reconciling. Gotcha.

Okay, so maybe the ‘atta girl’ moments will have wait for a wee bit while I free up some time on my schedule to kick back and savor the success. Let’s see. Let me take a look at my calendar here. Hmm. Looks like I might be able to pencil in some time for rose sniffing the first week of November. Uh oh. Wait a minute. That’s when ANCHORS AWEIGH sets sail.

Who knew that the hardest part of being a multi-published author would be finding the time to enjoy it????

Huh? What did you say? What was that? just selected FIANCÉ AT HER FINGERTIPS as a Fresh Pick for the month of May? My book? A fresh pick? The first ‘funny’ book I ever wrote? The book that was a 2005 RWA Golden Heart Finalist? The book I had to literally take apart and put back together again within a two week period of time at the holidays? The book that changed everything? That book?

Oh buddy. Now that does deserve some celebrating. Any suggestions? (Reminder: I have four college-age offspring so any celebrating will be done on a budget thigh high hose tight.

Whoo hoo!

~Bullet Hole doing the Snoopy Happy Dance around her ergonomically designed office chair~

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rock of Reality 2

Last Friday I was watching tv and stumbled across a reality show on VH1 - Rock of Love 2. It was like watching Godzilla eat power lines - I couldn't look away even though I knew I should.

Some of you might be familiar with this show. It's kind of a The Bachelor for Poison lead singer Bret Michaels. Only instead of looking for marriage, he's looking for a "hot rocker chick to hang with and be his rock of love." I know. I threw up a little in my mouth just then too.

I think I might have actually had a Poison cassette tape 20 years ago. That would make BM what, 80? I can't even remember his music. Obviously he had a profound effect on my teenage years.

So, poor little BM needs a girlfriend. They fill his mansion with twenty strippers and Playmate rejects all in their 20's, of course. These girls out bimbo the Landers Sisters of the '80's. Remember them? No? Damn, I was trying to keep an '80's vibe happening.

These um, girls, have names like Daisee, Destiney, and Ambre (all misspelled - which makes me want to destroy Tokyo) and have careers like stripper, actress and model. Right.

Then there's BM - who is short, balding, paunchy, and 45. And they talk about his "lifestyle" on the road as a "rock star." I think the last time I heard Poison was performing nearby they played at Clinton Riverboat Days in Iowa. So I checked out his tour dates. He's playing restaurants, taverns, county fairs, and small casinos. Oh yeah. His life as a relevant superstar.

Okay, so I'd like to imagine a show called Rock of Reality, where instead of getting idiot 20-somethings to make out for him, ride the stripper pole in his living room, mudwrestle, etc. BM had to face a roomful of women his own age and choose one to be his Rock of Love. I think it might go a little like this;

BM: For today's challenge...

Samantha: Are you going to wear that bandana all the time? And those old are you again?

BM: This is part of my rockin' lifestyle, babes. Now for that challenge...

Carrie: Probably covering up a major bald spot.

BM: Um, I...

Charlotte: And what's with all the beer? Don't you have any wine or bottled water?

BM: Look! You are here to compete over who gets to be my hot rocker chick! Why are you all wearing expensive dresses? They don't show off your rack and we're going to be jello wrestling today.

Samantha: And ruin this manicure? Jello stains. And I'm serious, how old are you?

BM: You'll have to strip down to your underwear then. Now this will be a fight for who gets to share a brewski with me tonight.

Carrie: I don't think so. I paid $60 for my lingerie and you gross me out.

Charlotte: I don't want to fight them! I love these women! Why would I want to do that?

BM: Listen! You chicks are here to do whatever I ask you to do in order to become my off and on girlfriend while I tour the country as a rock star!

Samantha: About that, I checked Pollstar yesterday. You haven't been a rockstar in two decades. Now, I can help you out since I happen to be a publicist, but I'm not going to fight my friends in a pit of jello over you and you will pay my full fee.

Carrie: Listen Wannabe, you are not a catch. You don't have a lifestyle.

Charlotte: You obviously have issues.

Samantha: Not to mention (looking at his paunch) delusions of grandeur.

Carrie: Let's go, ladies. There are some adult men somewhere in this city.

Well, that's what I think it would really be like. What do you think?

The Assassin

Winner, Winner, Winner


In spite of the fact that you missed me at RT conference, your name is the one my hubby pulled out of the hat.

Congrats. You win a free T-shirt.

Please email me your snail mail addy on my website email address.


Crime Scene Christie

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

RT'd Out

Well, I arrived back from RT and I have to tell you, I’m RT’d out. Pooped. But boy, did I have a blast.

Going to RT was like going to a four-day party. There was plenty of red wine, dancing, hot guys, romance readers, editors, and booksellers. Oooh, la, la. Bring it on!

There was the best dressed, the worst dressed, the least dressed, the least dressed who looked good strutting it, and the least dressed who thought they looked good but didn’t. My RT fashion tips: Guys, back hair ain’t pretty. Females, when the girls can’t stand up by themselves, they shouldn’t come out and play in public anymore.

There was the gossip, the secrets, the staying up until past midnight giggling with my best friend. Oh yes, it was a blast. Did I mention the hot guys?

For any of you who are thinking . . . but she’s a married woman, I’m here to tell you that you need not worry. I turned all those cover models down. Broke their hearts, I did. You believe that, don’t you?

Hey, I only kissed one, but that was to let him down easy after he wrote his room number on my palm. And the only reason I’m owning up to that is because I’m certain someone out there has a picture of it, since it happened on stage during the Mr. Cover Contest.

And since I’m confessing to things, I also hugged another cover model. Okay, I hugged him twice, but that was only because he was my hero.

Seriously, he was my hero. His name is Fred Williams.

You’re probably wondering what I mean by “hero”? Well, I’d like to tell you some warm, heart-tugging story about how he saved a child from a burning a building, helped a little ol’ lady get away from a pit bull, or maybe stopped his car in a busy intersection to rescue a kitten. But nope, he’s not that kind of hero. Well, maybe he is, I’m not sure, but that’s not what I mean by my hero.

I could tell you that when I first arrived at RT, I was informed that this very hot looking contestant for the Mr. Romance Cover Model Contest was looking for me. For ME! Now, let me explain something in case you don’t get the importance of that fact. This conference is filled with over 2000 women--most of them fall in the “least dressed and looking good strutting it” category--and Mr. Hotty is wanting to see “moi.” Do you know what that does for a girl’s ego?

However, ego boost aside, this isn’t why, or what I mean by Fred being my hero. Nope.

Fred is literally my hero. (Is it Gemma who doesn’t like that word?) Okay, he’s not literally. But he played my hero, Carl Hades, in Weddings Can Be Murder. Yup, in front of a large audience Fred Williams acted out a skit, a sort of visual synopsis, of my book at the Mr. Romance Contest at Romantic Times.

Now, when I first found Fred at the Fairy Ball, on the dance floor, surrounded by a group of hero-hungry women, my first thought was . . . “Hey, he’s my man!” Second thought was, “Hey, he looks good. Real good.” My third thought was . . . “Hey, physically, he’s not actually a match for Carl.”

Carl is Italian, Fred is African American, Carl had a head full of dark hair, Fred has the sexy and bald look going for him. Ahh, but be still my heart, because the moment Fred walked on that stage Saturday night, looking hot and totally immersed in the Carl Hades persona, I knew that man was perfect.

Fred really should be in Hollywood or maybe New York. Without a doubt, he brought to life the humor, the sexy, and the suspenseful tone of my hero and of my book. I tip my hat to you, Fred!

While I was totally ticked off that Fred didn’t take first place, (the bodies of those judges will never be found) I wasn’t surprised that he took second, and I have no doubt that this man is destined for great things: modeling, acting, and wooing women. Ladies, Fred not only looks good, but he has talent.

Oh, and for your pleasure, I’m going to post a few of my favorite pictures--some of Fred, and a few of the other models. So enjoy, ladies.

At the Mr. Romance Contest, the subject discussed by our moderators, was . . . What a woman really wants. So I’m asking you guys, what is it that you want in your man, in your hero?

If you’re married, what did your hubby do to win your heart? If you’re single, what would it take for a man to sweep you off your feet? I can certainly tell you what my hubby did to sweep me off my feet. But I’ll save that story for another blog. It’s your time to share. Come on. Share.

Today, I will give a way a Sexy, Suspenseful and Seriously Funny promo t-shirt to one lucky poster. I’ll post the lucky person on top of this blog tomorrow. So Come on, post away!

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 21, 2008

Aggravation You Just Don't Need

So any of you who read this blog on a semi-regular basis probably know that I'm a tomboy and like power tools - have worked on engines and can build decks with the best of them. I am also a tech writer for a software company and in my previous job, one of my duties was to head up IT. So I have a fairly good background with computers - hardware and software.

Well, a week ago my laptop started to crap out. The screen was going and you guessed it, to replace the screen cost more than I'd paid for the entire laptop. So I figured I'd switch that laptop to run off a hub with a flat screen monitor and I'd have to get a new laptop. Laptop shopping - fun! I had simple requirements - I wanted something small, less than 14" and it had to have a simply fabulous keyboard. When you spend as much time typing as I do, the keyboard is key. So I looked and looked and there was a remarkably small selection in the smaller screens unless I wanted to do something illegal to afford them.

But finally I found an absolutely fantastic HP - it's 12.1" screen, fits in my big blue purse/briefcase and the keyboard is the best I've ever typed on in a laptop. Of course to get these two things I had to have, I ended up purchasing a bunch of stuff I might not ever use, but I have to admit, it's cool. The screen is touch activated and if you rotate it all the way around and close it, it becomes a tablet and you can write and draw. It also has some spiffy dvd burner thingie and a built-in webcam, fingerprint id to log in and god know what else that I haven't even discovered.

So I got home with the new laptop and got it running, then it was time for the software loading olympics. I had to buy a new copy of MS Office and was thrilled to find out that now you can buy the student/teacher addition retail. So no more $400 for a package of software when all I wanted was Excel and Word. So I decided I'd load the MS first then deal with the internet connection and load the virus software. But there was one problem with that idea.......

I couldn't open the box.

I know what you're thinking - huh? But unless you've seen the box, I don't think you'd get it. It's plastic and there is no discernable way to tell how to open it - it also doesn't come with directions. So I spent a good twenty minutes trying to figure it out and was just wondering if I ought to take it out to the garage and introduce it to my power tool collection, when I decided to go ahead and get the internet hooked up and google it.

I felt like an absolute fool googling "how do I open the MS Office 2007 box." After all, I am a reasonably intelligent person and I'm thinking "it's going to be something simple and you're going to have to hide yourself away in shame."

Boy was I wrong.

Here's just one article I found written on the subject of the horrid MS packaging. And here's a blog providing a link to online instructions, with photos on how to open the box. And that's just the beginning. If you take the time to read some of the comments on blogs, etc., you will find that people have called the box everything from "ridiculous piece of s*^%" to the anti-christ.

And even funnier is reading some of the stories about how people DID open the box. Some smashed it with hammers, some cut it with power saws and I found one guy who actually took a crowbar to it.

I felt instantly better.

Then I watched the tutorial on how to open the box and proceeded with my surgery. Ten minutes later the box was open and I popped in the disk to install the software. Now, since it's a new computer and ultra fast, and the office only has the two software packages, it loaded really fast - like two minutes fast.

So that put me at 32 minutes to get my office up and running - 2 minutes to actually install the software and 30 minutes to open the box.

This is aggravation we just don't need. Thank you Microsoft for wasting time in my life that I didn't have and can never get back.

Deadly (Disgusted) DeLeon

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The high cost of making memories...

A week ago I blogged on Prom Night. Last night was the prom. It was my last prom—my youngest, the triplets, being seniors. Yep. My babies are all grown up. Sniff. Sniff.
Now I knew the cost of financing a girl for prom was staggering. You have the tanning sessions, the hair, the dress, the makeup, but since my son had opted not to attend prom as a junior last year, I was totally unprepared for how much the cost of renting a tuxedo for three freaking hours would be. How much you ask? One hundred twenty five smackaroos! That’s how much! Give me a break! That’s like forty dollars an hour! Let's put that in terms folks here at Killer Fiction will appreciate:
  • That money investment represents 25 new mass market paperbacks I could add to my to-be-read pile.
  • Or an equal number of tall French Vanilla Cappuccinos.
  • Or a week’s worth of groceries (even considering the recent price hikes) or a week’s worth of eating out!!!
  • Two tanks of gas in my Jimmy.
  • Three months fitness club membership.
  • A premium car detailing.
  • A new push mower.
  • And finally, a night at a really nice hotel. (which is vastly appealing right about now)
My son, not surprisingly, has a different take on how that prom night moolah might have alternatively been spent:
  • Two new video game for Wii or Play Station 3.
  • Some really cool jeans.
  • One way air fare to Orlando.
  • A fancy new portfolio for his art work.
Still, a high school prom is a once in a lifetime experience. How can you place a price on that?
I’m wondering, though. If you had an extra hundred bucks to blow any way you like, how would you spend it?
Nosy Nellie here wants to know.
Have a great Sunday!
~Bullet Hole who thinks an afternoon nap sounds very appealing~

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The road to erotica is paved with...comedy

Oh, you all are in for a treat today. Please join me in welcoming Crystal Jordan, my lovely fab friend and conference roomie. Her books are hawt, fun, hawt, exciting, and… did I mention hawt?! Her book, Treasured, comes out Tuesday from Samhain Publishing and I highly recommend you all rush out and buy it. I know I will! So, take it away, Crystal...

I started out a chick lit writer two years ago. If anyone (all two of you) has read one of my currently published books, that might surprise you--because I am unrepentantly (I think I just made that word up) erotic in my writing now.

I came up with an amazingly fresh and wonderful new concept (or so I thought) of a paranormal chick lit novel about a 20-something witch in Manhattan. Witch lit--I liked it. Yeah. Then I read Candace Havens, MaryJanice Davidson, and Shanna Swendson.

Well, there really is no such thing as an original idea is there?

So, I stalled with that book and came up with another idea. This one was naughty. Titillating. Totally daring. And one I was never letting see the light of day, because, I, Crystal Jordan, was a chick lit author, thank you very much. That's just how I roll. But I needed something to kick start my writing while my witchy lit book percolated at the back of my twisted little mind. The wild hair up my you-know-what idea was erotic science fiction romance.

Keep in mind, I'd read maybe three or four erotic romance novels in my more-than-a-decade of romance readership. But I was never letting anyone see it anyway, so why not give it a try? It couldn't hurt. I didn't have to know anything about the genre if I wasn't going to do anything with the book, right? Right. Totally.

After I finished the first three chapters of that book, I went back and read what I, chick lit writer extraordinaire, had written. It was actually pretty good. Maybe even better than my witch lit. And I'd even kind of...liked it.

Oh, snap.

Now what was I going to do? I was a pornographic witch lit writer! A failure! A disgrace! (A minor mental meltdown combined with a slight identity crises ensued, but I've heard that's pretty normal for those still in the 20-somethings)

Yeah, then I slapped some sense into myself and started doing some research. This erotic thing was not a bad place to be in the market at that time, apparently. I wrote emotional, deep, a little dark...erotic romance.

And it sold.

On the first try.

Whoa, didn't see that coming.

Score! (Thus ensued a booty dance that registered on the Richter scale--I won't reenact. Trust me, it's for your own good.)

But...but...I loved my comedy. I missed it. Deep, dark, and emotionally contorted was all well and good, but there's nothing like a little snark to make the writing snap a bit. So, I sat down and wrote a viciously sarcastic heroine and her studly sex-muffin (and equally sarcastic) hero. They were dark, kinky, twisted, kinky, scarred, kinky, and funny as hell.

Ah, now that's that's what I'm talking about.

I can't say I'm always able to write funny, but there's always some humor in my books. It's like a nervous tick--I just can't help myself. Life is freaking ridiculous. And if the world is going to get a laugh at my expense, I might as well join in, right?

How else would I have ended up going from witch lit to erotica in two-point-five seconds?

That's just how I roll.

~Crystal Jordan

Friday, April 18, 2008

I am not a mystery novel heroine

People ask me a lot whether or not the dates I talk about on this blog are actually real. I guess some people have a hard time believing there are really that many off-the-wall guys out there. Let me assure you, there are, and I have dated them. Every single guy I have blogged about is totally real. I’m stating this for the record now because I had the weirdest experience of my life last weekend and, after telling Suze all about it, she said, “There’s no way you can post this date on your blog.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because no one would ever believe it really happened to you.”
Sadly, it did.

So, I’ve been seeing this guy for the past few weeks. At first, I wasn’t all that gung ho about it because, as I’ve mentioned here, I’m trying to find Mr. Forever. This guy had Mr. Right Now written all over him. He’s an ultimate fighter, for one thing. Yeah, as in he beats people up in those cage matches on TV for a living. Kinda scary. But, sucker for muscles that I am, once I met him, I started to dig him a little more. And, he was actually incredibly sweet. Way more than you’d think a guy that knocks people senseless all day would be.

Anyway, we went out a few times, had a good time. Then, last weekend I was supposed to meet him at his house to go to dinner. I was psyched ‘cause I just bought this really cute new outfit at the mall and was dying to show it off somewhere. So, even though I knew I’d be a little overdressed, I threw it on and added a pair of sparkly rhinestone studded silver heels to cap it off.

I get to his place exactly on time and knock on the door. Nothing. I spy the bell and ring that. I wait. And wait. Finally his roommate answers and lets me in. I go down the hall to his bedroom and see that the door is open. I kinda knock and push my way in with a, “Hello?” The TV is on, but Fight Boy’s not there. So, I make myself at home, sit down, pick up one of his books to read, figuring he's in the shower or bathroom or something. I wait a few minutes. No sign of him. I’m feeling a little odd hanging out in his bedroom like this. I mean, I don’t know him that well. So, I get up, kinda peek around the rest of the house. He's not in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or backyard. K, weird.

I go back to his bedroom and wait a few more minutes, grab the remote and change the channel (from Terminator to America's Next Top Model – hey , if I gotta wait around, I might as well be entertained doing it, right?). I watch TV for a few minutes. He still doesn't show. It's getting late now. Like, he's 20 minutes late. So that’s when I really start checking out his stuff. His keys are on the nightstand, so is his cell phone. He wouldn't leave the house without those, right?

I try texting him, thinking maybe he has a different cell he uses. Nope. My text shows up on that phone. K, so where the heck is he?

And that’s when things went from weird to freaky.

I hear a noise. From the closet. I look up and, I swear to heaven, a body part falls out.

A. Body. Part.

It looks like someone's knee. Or elbow. Definitely flesh-like. I freeze. Has someone been in the closet watching me this whole time? I get up and walk out of the room, totally casual like, pretending I didn't see anything. I'm thinking either a) he's been sitting here watching me from his closet (creepy!), b) he was doing something totally embarrassing when I walked in and hid in the closet (double creepy!) or c) there's a dead
body in there (beyond creepy.) I wait in the kitchen, letting my pulse return to normal (and giving anyone hiding in there a chance to get out and slink away), then slowly go back in his room.

Yup, the knee is still there. Sticking out of the closet. Not moving at all.

This is where I proved that I am no mystery novel heroine. A mystery novel heroine would have investigated. She would have peeked in the closet, found out who the knee was attached to, why they were there, if they were, in fact, alive.

Me? I grab my purse and bolt. Hit the front door, run to my car, lock the doors, peel out of there so fast I burn rubber, and drive straight home.

I know. I’m a chicken. But, as anyone who has read my books knows, when my heroines investigate, someone always gets hurt. Usually them.

Needless to say, that’s the end of me and Fight Boy. Honestly, there is no explanation that will ever make me go back there. The best I can think of is that he somehow passed out in his own closet. That's best case scenario. Worst case… my fingerprints are now all over a
crime scene.

Just when I think I've been on the worst date ever (bicycle thieves, hairy wookie men, pirates…) one more shows up to top them all off.

Anyone know a nice, safe convent I could go join?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Little Printer that Could...

As I blog today my ancient HP 5L printer is plugging away printing off a hard copy of my latest work in progress. ‘Homer,’ the name I gave my HP printer, came over on the Mayflower. His page per minute count is only marginally better than chiseling on a stone tablet, he’s missing a part here and there--thankfully non-essential ones--doesn’t care at all for Times New Roman font (I’m not a huge fan either) and refuses to let anything but 22 pound or heavier paper run through him without jamming unless I stroke his plastic casing and tell him what a strong, awesome workhorse of a printer he is as I manually feed the paper through. I constantly assure Homer I’m amazed at his stamina and endurance. Considering my experience with all things electronic or mechanical, the fact that Homer has survived this long is a testament to his creator’s mastery.

I can’t tell you how many VCRs, DVD players, televisions, computers, routers, vacuum cleaners, electric pencils sharpeners, can openers, blenders, toasters, and other assorted appliances I’ve gone through. Put anything electrical, mechanical, or designed to perform a specific function within my sphere of influence, stand back and wait for the implosion.

Now mowing season is almost upon us. Last year I bought an extra push mower just to make sure I’d have one that started. So what happens? I can’t get either one of them to start. The other day I sent out an SOS to my big brother.

“My mower won’t start,” I explained on the phone.

“Which one?” he asked.

“Both,” I responded.

“Did you check the gas?” he asked. (He must have taken lessons from Deadly Deleon’s electrician here.)

“Uh, roger that,” I said.

“Did you choke it?”

“Choke it? Hell. Yes. I wanted to strangle the mother,” I responded.

“No, the choke switch. Did you push it?”

“Only about a dozen times,” I said. I heard a loud sigh on the other end.

“I’ll be over,” my brother said.

So yesterday he stopped by to pick up the mowers.

“One of them doesn’t have gas in it,” I said. “I drained it out for the winter,” I lied. The truth was it had simply run out of gas at the end of the mowing season.

“Did you replace it with an additive to keep the gas line from freezing?” he asked and I frowned.

“You’re supposed to do that?” I asked.

H e shook his head.

“You should just have someone mow your yard,” my brother said.

“I do. I have three teenagers,” I told him. “But none of them can get the mowers to start either.”

We loaded the mowers into his pickup.

“No hurry,” I told him. “Just whenever you get to it. The grass isn’t that long. Yet.”

As he left my son came running out to the back yard.

“Mom, the washer is making a real weird noise,” he told me.

“Of course it is,” I replied.

“And the light in the bathroom is going all psycho.”


“And the wireless connection isn’t working.”

“So what else is new?”

A day in the life of Bullet Hole Bacus.

I walked back to my office and blew Homer a kiss.

Know what? As long as Homer, the little printer that could, cranks out pages, all is right with my world.

So, any appliance or electronic devise you’d swear the gremlins love having a field day with? Any chronic appliance issues that just won’t give up the ghost? Any major consumer complaints you’d like to share? If so, complain away!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Penultimate Interview

I've been doing some blog and media interviews lately and it's made me wonder what I would ask me if I were interviewing me. So, just for fun, here's how my dream interview would go:

Interviewer - Daniel Craig (completely nude, duh!): Oh, Leslie Langtry! You write the greatest books ever written and everyone wants to be just like you!

Me: (blushing) Oh, stop it, you!

Daniel: No! Really! Will you run away with me to the Riviera?

Me: I can't! I really can't! Well, okay. But after the interview. And I have to get back before the Girl Scout meeting.

Daniel: Yes, of course. My first question is, who are you wearing?

Me: Well, Daniel, I'm wearing PRADA at the moment. Do you like my shoes?

Daniel: (looks lovingly at brown, suede d'orsays) They're lovely - like you. My next question is, if you could be a fish, what kind of fish would you be and why?

Me: Hmmmm, I would have to be a bass.

Daniel: What a wonderful answer! Why a bass?

Me: Well, if you must know, a bass is thrown back into the water an average of 30 times before it is big enough to be caught for keeps. I like the odds.

Daniel: Sigh. Beautiful and smart too!

Me: Stop! You're embarrassing me!

Daniel: Alright, here's a tougher one. Tiffany's or Cartier?

Me: I'm on the fence on that one, Danny Boy. I love Tiffany's but would never turn down Cartier. At least, not on the first date.

Daniel: Excellent (writes it down) and paper or plastic?

Me: Neither. I prefer to use canvas tote bags. Green is the new pink, you know.

Daniel: Where have you been all my life? Well, I think that's all we have time for. Thank you to my guest and the future Mrs. Daniel Craig - Leslie Langtry - for the most inspired interview I have ever given.

Me: You're welcome.

Daniel: Can I put my clothes back on now? It's kind of cold here in the Midwest.

Me: No.

My challenge to you - who would your ideal interviewer be?

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

As a kid, I loved ghost stories. I don’t mean Casper. The scary stories. The ones that put me on super alert. My skin turned ultra sensitive, my ears became tuned to hear the slightest noise, a creak, a whisper. My lungs lacked oxygen for fear a small intake of air could be heard by some unearthly presence. My heart thumped in my chest and drummed in my ears. Thump. Thump. Thump. Raw, nerve-tingling fear.

I still love ghost stories. While they don’t scare me as much, they still make the back of my neck feel prickly.

My writing partner is addicted to this show on the SciFi Channel called Ghost Hunters, about a group of paranormal investigators, and since I’m going to be rooming with her at RT, I’m preparing myself for her wanting to watch an episode tomorrow night. Now, I love Faye and all but I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t tell you I believe in ghosts 100%. (Especially the ones on that show.) But I’m probably more of a believer than a non-believer. Especially after what happened to me, my husband, and his “boys.” Yup, I mean those “boys.”

It was several years ago. I write travel pieces and work with several PR firms that provide travel to press-worthy destinations. This one was in Fredericksburg, Texas. The event was the anniversary of WWII happening at the Nimitz Museum.

I’m not much on wars or war museums. But I’d received five “writing” assignments from magazines about the museum. So off I went, camera in hand, with a press group. When I stepped into the museum, I had the strangest mood-altering sense of sadness overcome me. And no, it wasn’t that time of month.

Everything in the museum tugged at my heart. The thought that ran through my mind was “War is so ugly.”

Then I came upon a blood-stained kimono on display. A sign stated that an American soldier had removed it from a dead woman, a victim of war. Tears filled my eyes. How sad. This war really was ugly.

Planning on writing this piece with lots of emotion, I pulled my camera to my eye and snapped. Oddly, my hand-held flash didn’t work.

It was fairly new, too, so I didn’t understand. Frustrated, I used all my mechanical knowledge to fix the problem. Which basically means, I turned it off and on. Still nothing.

Unhappy, I walked away, but as I did, I heard a soft but annoying noise. “EEEEE . . . .”

I stopped and listened, it sounded close. Too close. I pulled my camera to my ear. Nothing. I pulled my flash to my ear, and realized the noise came from it.

I made sure the flash was turned off. It was. But the noise continued. I started investigating. I opened the battery compartment and was shocked to find that several of my batteries had burst. This had never happened. The batteries were the expensive ones.

Okay . . . this was strange, right? But I figured it was probably just faulty batteries. Ahh, but I needed those pictures. Nevertheless, the press group was leaving. Frustrated, I left imageless. When I arrive home, I told my husband we would have to return to Fredericksburg to get pictures next month.

He loves war museums and was happy to go. The next month, several photo jobs later, and with a now functioning flash with new batteries, we head off for the weekend.

We arrived at the museum. The moment I stepped inside, I get the same heavy feeling deep in my chest. I didn’t like it. I wanted to get my images and leave. I snapped a few shots, walking quickly. I went to the kimono, to capture what I foresee as my leading picture. I pulled the camera to my eye, pushed the button, and . . . nothing.

I did my mechanical trick again. On . . . off . . . on. Nothing. My husband, totally immersed in reading the displays, stepped into this small room of the museum.

I turned to him. “I can’t believe it. My flash won’t work!”

“Probably need new batteries,” he muttered.

“They’re brand new,” I insisted, still standing by the kimono.

“So they were bad. Don’t you have some extra ones in the car?”

“I need these pictures,” I said in my help-me voice.

He took my camera--did his mechanical check. Which of course, is much more inept that mine. On . . . off. . . on. He frowned, then removed and slipped the batteries into his trouser pocket. “Let me finish looking and I’ll go get your batteries from the car.”

Feeling jittery, I considered waiting outside on him. I so didn’t like that museum, but I still didn’t see a connection. We took a few steps away from the kimono and that’s when I heard it. “Eeeeeeee . . .”

“What’s that?” Hubby asked.

“I don’t know.” Then it hit me. Chills ran up my spine to the base of my neck and then crawled down my arms.

I pulled the flash to my ear. Nothing. I relaxed—then remembered.

I looked at the front of my husband’s jeans to his crotch, which was growing darker as the noise grew louder. “I think you’d better go empty your pockets.”

“Why?” he asked, clueless.

“Because I don’t think “your boys” like battery acid.”

He looked down and shot off to the bathroom. Four of the six batteries had burst.

I looked at the kimono and felt it again—the strong emotion that I can only describe as the ugliness of war. “Okay,” I whispered, “I won’t include pictures of your dress.”

I wrote the articles, and kept my word; no pictures of the kimono appeared in the magazines. I simply don’t think it was meant to be.

So that’s it. The reason, I sort of believe in ghosts. Do you think I should share this story with Faye when she starts in about watching Ghost Hunters? And speaking of GH, how many of you out there watch it? What about Ghost Whisper? Or Medium? Do you believe? Sort of believe? Do you like books that have ghost themes?

Oh, by the way, I know you all are worried and wondering, my husband’s boys were okay.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pet Peeve - The Little Woman Syndrome

I'd reached the 60-day mark on my new house at the end of March, so it was time to turn in my "repair" list. Now, things are under warranty, but if it absolutely wasn't necessary, I figured I'd just wait and get it all done at the same time. I even managed to get the plumber and the electrician scheduled for the same day - bonus!

So the plumber came last Tuesday morning and did his job and was great - efficient, nice, in and out and didn't leave a mess. Things were going really, really well - and then came the electrician.

The electrician was there to fix the light above the kitchen sink. I was standing at the sink one day, doing some sink sort of kitchen business and the light bulb went "poof" like light bulbs do. So I figured the bulb went out - that would be a good guess. But when I replaced the bulb, it still didn't work. So hence, the electrician.

When I pointed out the non-working light to the electrician (who DID have a tool belt, Kathy, but you SO would not want him!) and then the butthead actually asked me if I'd tried another bulb. So I stared at him for a moment then said: "Yes, I tried a bulb from another light feature that I knew was working. When it didn't come on, I tested it with a voltage meter and it's not getting any juice. By the way, I turned the light switch on too."


What is it with some men that they think women only know cooking and sewing? Boy any man that wanted me for those reasons would be disappointed the rest of his life.

Then it gets better. So butthead goes about fixing the light and about an hour later I ask if he's figured out the problem. So he says that the light wasn't wired. So I ask how it's possible for a light to come unwired as it was working for about six weeks. And he tells me that's not possible.

Are you kidding me?????????

So what the heck was that light that was there before - a beam of light from heaven? Now I could be wrong, but I figure God's got more important things to tend to than illuminating my kitchen sink. Or maybe it was just my imagination that the light had been working for six weeks. Oh, and it's a collective illusion because my mom used that light too.

I've finally settled on one of two explanations:

1. There are aliens living in my attic and it was light from the mother ship.

2. The electrician is an idiot.

Now, 1 would make an interesting story, but I'm betting on 2.

Deadly (No Dummy) DeLeon

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Romantic Movies

I am a total sap. I cry at movies all the time. All. The. Time. For a while I tried to hide it. “There’s something in my eye.” “I just smelled onions.” “I’m tearing up because there’s popcorn stuck in my teeth.” Um, yeah, I never said I was a good liar. So, at some point, I decided to embrace my sappiness. “Hi, I’m Gemma and I cry at movies.” And it isn’t the heart wrenching dramas that get me either. It’s the love stories. I’m such a sucker for a happy ending. Tom Hanks plus Meg Ryan equals box of tissues in my world. For me, there is nothing more moving than that one perfect on-screen kiss that makes even the most jaded single gal who has just been on more dates than she can count believe in true love. So, in the spirit of renewing my love of love, here are some of my favorite romantic movies. (grabbing my tissue box…)

Love Actually
There are so many heartbreaking sweet moments in this movie, but the love story between Jamie and Aurelia has me in tears every time I see it.

Walk the Line
What part of this movie doesn’t make me cry! Both Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix are just awesome in this, and that it’s a true story of enduring love makes it all the more inspiring. (Long clip, but my favorite part of the movie. Come on, get teary with me, you know you wanna.)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
For any girl that’s ever gone through an awkward phase, we all dream of a guy like Ian coming along and loving us anyway – even with our crazy families! (Clip’s not great quality, but I got choked up watching it anyway.)

and one of my favorite movie moments of all time from…
The Wedding Singer
I just love this song! It sums up everything I really want in a guy. If a man lets you hold the remote control, you know he’s truly in love.

So, what are your favorite romantic on-screen moments? (Don't worry, I'll share my tissues...)

~Trigger Happy (and a little sappy) Halliday

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Author Debbie Mumford

Please welcome a wonderful author and great friend of mine, Debbie Mumford. We were in the Dreams and Desires anthology together last year and her style of fantasy romance is reading escapism at its best! Take it away, Debbie…

I have an anthology coming out in the near future (Star Stepping) and it has me thinking about the difference in my style when I write short fiction as opposed to novels. You’d think it would be the same, wouldn’t you? I mean, both mediums tell a story, both have a beginning, middle and end, and both require plot and character arc. But there are some rather important differences.

When I’m writing novel-length fiction, I tend to write romance—fantasy or paranormal romance, but romance nonetheless. However, my short fiction veers more to straight fantasy or science fiction. This puzzled me for a while, but I’ve come to the conclusion that true romance, the story of a budding, intimate relationship, requires more space to breathe and grow than a typical short story can provide. Consequently, my short fiction tends to be more plot centered (what would result if such and such happened?), while my longer works are more character-driven (what happens if this personality type is thrown into such and such a situation and exposed to a hunk with these characteristics?).

And so I arrive at the writer’s version of the chicken-and-the-egg dilemma: which comes first, choice of medium (short story vs. novel), or choice of plot (episodic vs. character-driven)?

Now, this isn’t to suggest these are questions I actually ask and answer. On the contrary, they’re more of an after-the-fact analysis. And it’s not that the dichotomy always holds true. I’ve written (and published) flash fiction romances, but a romance in under a 1,000 words is more of a promise of things to come than a true “happily ever after.”

One of my most successful stories has been Sorcha’s Heart. Sorcha began as a short story written with the Writers of the Future contest in mind—a simple 5,000 word fantasy about a girl, a dragon, and an impossible love. By the time it was published, Sorcha’s Heart had grown into a 21,000 word novella and a fully realized romance. But it didn’t end there. I was offered a contract to write two additional novels to further the exploration of Sorcha’s world. Dragons’ Choice, the first of those novels, was released last November, and I’m currently writing the second, Dragons’ Flight.

Who would’ve guessed that 5,000 word story would generate such interest? Certainly not the writer! It never occurred to me when I wrote the original story that I was laying the foundation for so many works.

Sometimes, the story is more than the writer anticipated.

So my question to any writers who drop by is this: which comes first, the story problem or the character who will live it? And its corollary: when do you decide what length work you’re writing?

If any of the other writers featured in Star Stepping are out there, I’d love to hear about the genesis of your stories!

~~~Debbie Mumford
Flights of Fantasy (
Newsletter List (

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gemma's Mom seeks Mr. Right

My mom and I are super close. Not only do we look like sisters (Yep, that's her. Seriously, do we look alike or what?), but we share everything. Every date I go on, bad or good, I promptly tell her all about it, every gory detail. Which is why I was shocked when my sometimes… ahem, interesting… dating experiences prompted my mom to start dating again. (Did she not hear me say “Pirate”?!) But, I was actually a little bit proud of her. A few years ago she decided the world was populated with beautiful women and troll men and gave up on the whole dating scene. She’s been happily single ever since. But, recently she saw how much fun I was having and decided she was going to give it one more go at finding Mr. Right. (Or, at least as she put it, Mr. Has a Large Inheritance to Give Away and a Heart Condition. Mom is ever the practical one.) Only, this time around, Mom decided she was going to date on her terms. One reason I love her. She refuses to take any poo-poo from anyone. So, here is a coy of the profile Mom posted on one online dating site:


Hi! I'd like to meet someone strong and intelligent. It would be really nice if he's not in therapy, not a graduate of any twelve-step program or rehab facility, and lives in a dwelling attached to a foundation. We should start as friends first, and we shouldn't even meet if we have no intention of being friends. I don't kiss at a first meeting and won't be having sex on the second date. If that's what you're looking for, well now you know.

I'd like to meet someone who actually saw the Beatles live on Ed Sullivan, someone who remembers where he was when he first heard the news that Kennedy was shot. (Youngin's, I'm flattered, but it won't work!) Please don't be a member of an angry political group, or any other angry group, for that matter. Please be someone who thinks for himself and lives by no dogma.

Most of the older men expect to find a woman with no life who will just slip into their lives unnoticed. Is that possible? I don’t know. I probably won’t move to a cattle ranch and take up horseback riding. Also probably won’t move to someone’s wine vineyard, no matter how tempting. Nor will I be likely to leave home to roam the oceans in search of the Almighty “Adventure.” I have a life! I like my life. I don’t want to give it up. How about you give up yours and move into mine?

I don't camp, fish, hunt, ski, sail, scuba, watch football, ride on motorcycles, travel to “exotic places,” go on cruise ships, hang out in casinos, listen to jazz, or ever, ever sit through an opera. You are certainly free to do so, while I pursue my own interests. Or, you can join me! I'll be growing flowers and herbs, painting, shopping for bargains, cooking, reading, going to lectures or museums, playing tennis, working out, or out for a walk in the sun. I don't wear sunscreen. Or hats. An occasional light rock concert, movie or show can be fun.

My diet is primarily organic. It's colorful, full of veggies and truly whole foods, low on dairy, no sugar. Jack LaLanne is my hero. I shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, the Farmers' Market. I'd rather eat in than out. I drink wine daily because I love it. I have a girlish figure, with a waistline, probably from a fair dedication to life-long exercise.

I like being outdoors when it involves getting a tan. Did I mention, I don't wear sunscreen? I also don't take medications or line up for my yearly battery of invasive and risky medical tests. I think it's better to focus on building health and happiness.

I have my own business, own a nice home, drive a luxury car, and have a wonderful, expanding family. My children are mostly grown, the youngest graduating Stanford in June. My kids are great, and I'm sure yours are, too, but let's not talk each other's heads off about them.

Did I mention I drive a 2006 luxury car? I don't do "vintage." If I'm not wearing my Asics, I'm in heels and designer jeans. I style my own hair, do my own nails, shop with coupons. My home mortgage is my only debt, credit rating is excellent, and I have money in several banks as well as in stocks. (I don't need yours, but you should have some of your own.)

All that said, what’s really important is chemistry and character. Everything here is truthful, because if we’re hoping for an intimate relationship, full honesty is a must. My photos are recent. I think I look and feel hot for almost 59, and I want to stay active forever.

I'm looking for one special guy who's willing to take the time to make it real. I probably sound a little fed up. But, really, I’m almost always in a really good mood.


Can anyone guess where Gemma gets her snarky sense of humor? ;) I laughed so hard when she showed this to me. But – the best part! – she has gotten tons of responses from this profile! Who knew men loved sassy that much? After this, I’m thinking of changing my own online profile now: “Romance writer seeks Alpha Hero – pirates need not apply. No hairy guys or bicycle thieves either.” Okay, maybe not that specific. Anyone want to help me? What should I say when trying to make that first cyber impression on Mr. Right?

~Trigger Happy Halliday