Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Sad Day at The Craig House

“I’m sorry.” I told my upset nineteen-year-old son standing at the edge of my desk. “Losing someone is never easy. Death is the ultimate price of loving.” Seeing the grief in my son’s eyes broke my heart. Seriously, I really did feel bad. However, there was no doubt about it, my son felt the blunt of this grief.

Probably because he was the one to discover the body curled up in the hammock. As far as we know, the passing was of natural causes and not a homicide. Although, I’ll admit, the cats were acting very suspicious.

Mr. Raton, God rest his soul, was not on our four cats’ favorite lists. Okay, I’ll admit it. He wasn’t on my fav’ list either. It was his bald tail. If he’d just had little fur on it, I think I could have gotten past my prejudices. I could have pretended he was a gerbil or a hamster. But my lack of affection for the dearly departed wasn’t important, I knew my son’s feelings were real.

“I’m really sorry.”

“He was the best nine dollars I ever spent,” he said. “Thank goodness I still have his brother.”

I had to bite my tongue not to remind him that his nine dollars was money he hadn’t asked to spend. He’d never gotten permission to bring home the two rats. Imagine my surprise when one day, a week or so after they’d been sneaked into my home, I went to toss the dirty socks he’d left in my living room into his bedroom (Hey, I always left them by his pillow so he’d learn a lesson-not that it worked, but it made me feel better) and saw the two pink-eyed creatures staring at me from the cage. I tossed the socks up in the air and screamed bloody murder. I was also tempted to leave his door open and let the kitties in for a visit. You know their paws were small enough to reach into that cage.

When he arrived home that day from school, I insisted he take them back. He called the pet store, but their no return policy stood strong. I insisted he find another home for them. Amazingly, much to my son’s shock, not one of his friend’s parents would welcome a couple of rats into their home. Duh!

I was forced to either cruelly insist he toss the creatures into our cat friendly neighborhood, or accept them into the family. Call me a sucker, but I accepted them. I’m not saying I loved them. Acceptance is a far cry from loving.

So that’s how Mr. Raton and his brother arrived at the Craig house and here’s the story of how he left.

“What do I do with the body?” my son asked, still standing at the edge of my desk.

I thought a minute. “My mom flushed my goldfish down the toilet.” (Hey, I wasn’t trying to be ugly, it was just the first thing that popped into my head.)

“You haven’t seen him lately, have you?” my son asked, his tone accusing.

“I didn’t know I had mandatory visitations.”

“He’s not so little anymore. Too many Cheetos, I guess.”

“You fed him Cheetos?”

“He loved them. He used to sit on my shoulder and eat them.”

I sigh. “Then I guess you’ll need to bury him.”

My son goes and finds his dad, I’m sure hoping his dad will show him more sympathy.

“Dad is going to help me bury it,” my son said when he returned.

“That’s good,” I said and glanced back at my computer, eager to get in my obligated ten pages of writing.

“Do you want to come say good bye?” he asked.

“No!” I know most of you won’t agree, but for some reason seeing a dead rat seemed freakier than seeing a live one.

His dad appeared in my study, a shovel in hand. “You ready?”

“What about a casket?” my son asked. Yup, he really asked that.

When neither hubby or I answered, son continued. “We can’t just put him in the dirt.”

I wanted to ask why not, but I refrained and found a box and offered it to my son.

“Mom, how would you like to be buried in a used Chinese takeout box that smelled like Kung Pao that was pulled out of the garbage?”

I didn’t answer. Hubby snickered.

“Besides,” Son says, “He won’t fit.”

“Can you just smash him a little bit?” his dad asked.

Son looked appalled and then he too snickered. I went in search of another box. The box my business cards came in is the perfect size for a rotund Cheeto-loving rat.

Mr. Raton was tucked away in his makeshift casket, lovingly wrapped in paper towels, resting beside a . . . a Cheeto (so I’m told, I still wouldn’t look at him) and son and hubby went in the backyard.

I, of course, excuse myself from attending the funeral, but I did watch from my French doors, accompanied by the four still suspicious-appearing cats, as my two men buried the rat and said their final good byes.

Afterwards, my son returned in my office. “I know you think I’m crazy, but I really did love that guy.”

I looked at my son. “I know you did.” I got up and hugged him really tight and I remembered when I was ten and being heart broke when my Iguana died. “I’m really sorry.”

And I guess the moral of this blog is . . . love really is blind. So here’s to you, Mr. Raton. May the afterlife bring you lots of Cheetos.

So that’s my sad day at the Craig house. What’s going on in everyone else’s life? Hey…what book are you reading? I’m about to make a run to Barnes & Noble, so does anyone have any recommendations?

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stupid Things That Just Shouldn't Be

Sometimes you see things so stupid, they just shouldn't be. I thought I'd wake you up (and gross you out) with a few examples, first thing this Monday morning.

1. Women who have bellies and back hair, wearing belly shirts. Gross. And they really shouldn't wear them to the mall. And they really, REALLY shouldn't wear them in front of me when I've just taken a huge sip of my frulatti.

2. Tags that read "One size fits all." Uh, no????? I'm not exactly slight on all, but I've seen a lot of people that I couldn't share a T-shirt with. Comedian Buddy Hacket describes this best when asking for a XXX hospital gown and was told one size fits all. He said "well, it covered my all, but my a%@ was hanging out the back." I'm thinking "One size fits many" might be a better way to go - if only just to discourage the worst offenders.

3. Religious bumper stickers. If you're going to drive like you're the only person on the road, then please don't display a sermon on your vehicle. Driving 80 mph off the exit ramp, cutting off four lanes of traffic (almost causing a wreck) then screeching around a red light (as the light is turning red), while flipping off the one guy who had the audacity to honk at you is most likely NOT what Jesus would do.

4. People being allowed to have children or buy power tools without passing some kind of proficiency exam. Enough said.

5. Now this one is really stupid - I mean the most stupid thing I've seen in forever: Scheduling Presidential addresses on American Idol night!!!!!!!!!!!! C'mon, Obama, can we get real for a moment. More people voted for the American Idol finale last year than president. Take a back seat to your superiors. No one wants to hear about how bad the economy is screwed up from a guy wearing a suit that could feed our families for a year. WE already know. What we don't know is the final five.

Okay, I'm off for coffee and a shower. It's early and I'm still trying to wake up. That's probably another thing that just shouldn't be - Mondays.

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tales from the dressing room

This week, fed up with wearing yoga pants and sweats all the time, I finally broke down and went maternity shopping. Let me tell you, shopping for clothes that make you look like you’re smuggling an alien under your shirt while being on a hormonal cocktail is not something any woman should have to go through and be expected to keep her cool.

The first bit of horror that came my way was hen my best friend informed me, “You know, you can’t wear heels when pregnant,” Um… what?! No one told me that! But, I googled it, and she’s right. It’s a total no-no. With the changing weight, your balance is constantly just slightly off, so stilts are forbidden. Crap. I look in my closet. All the summer shoes I have are heels. And I do mean all. I do not own one single pair of flats. Sigh.

So, off to the mall I go – in search of maternity tents and flats. Yay.

The first problem I encounter is that I have no idea what size to even try on. Normally, I’m a small/medium. But, considering I’m only in month 4 of alien growing, it turns out I’m an extra small in pregnancy clothes. Okay, I admit, buying an extra small anything was kinda fun. But then I tried the clothes on and they fit perfectly. Just enough give all around to be comfortable. Which means they’re probably going to continue fitting for all of two weeks. So, I went up a size. I pulled the pants up. They promptly fell around my knees. Whimper. I ended up buying both sizes, figuring I’m gonna grow into the bigger ones and can wear the smaller ones now.

Then I look at he price tags. Holy maxed out credit cards! I had no idea that those few inches of extra fabric would make maternity clothes so expensive. Which, I think, is really unfair, because it’s not like we have a choice weather to buy them or not. Seriously, I’ll be spending my savings on truckloads of diapers, you’d think they could give me a little break in the clothing department.

No such luck.

So, with my credit card wincing, I take both pairs of pants up to the gal at the counter. Who, incidentally is about 20 and a stick figure. I hate her already. She starts ringing up my clothes and tells me that I’ve made a mistake and bought two different sizes. I tell her one is for now, one is for when I grow later. She shakes her perky little head. “No,” she tells me. “These clothes are made so the belly panel grows with you. You’re supposed to get the same size you normally are in regular clothes and it wilt fit the whole time.”

Clearly, she never grown an alien inside her.

I calmly tell her, “That might work if I only grew in the belly. But that doesn’t happen. Everything from about your knees up to your neck expands both front to back and side to side when you’re pregnant.”
(Or, as I had to explain to my son the other day, “Mommy’s butt grow in order to balance out her growing tummy so she doesn’t fall forward.”)

So, Stick Figure wrinkles her nose in an “eww, gross” gesture. Then the wise little twit informs me, “Well, your butt isn’t supposed to grow.”

I’m amazed that no big butted, hormonal pregnant woman has strangled the life out of this thing yet.

I hand her my credit card, tell her to shut up if she values her life and ring up the pants, then make a bee-lie for the nearest Mrs. Fields and calm my self down with a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Then wish ten children on stick figure girl. Preferably all twins. Bwahahahaha!

On the upside, I did manage to buy a bunch of cute outfits. As expensive as they were, I found it’s actually not a myth that pregnancy fashions have gotten better in the last few years. So, here are my buys that managed to be cute, comfortable, go with flats, and still expand with the alien growth:

These pants with this top, perfect for summer! Plus, the pants can go either full length or capri, so they work even on those breezy evenings.

Adorable top and a maternity min skirt. Yes, I may be pregnant, and I may have to give up my heels - but I'm still wearing a mini-skirt!

And the shoes. Oddly enough, there are some really pretty flats out there. Who knew?

~Trigger (and flats!) Happy Halliday

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Birthday in the Life of Bullet Hole

My birthday was Tuesday. Now, I usually try to put my head down and stoically bulldog my way through the day. Little fanfare. Little fuss. That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Oh, I appreciate the emails and cards and best wishes, but for the most part I just want to get it behind me with as little emotional trauma and morbid thoughts of mortality as possible. But one does hope for some decent luck and a bit of cheer on one’s special day.
So let me tell you about my birthday.

Thunderboomers, lightning, heavy rain and battering winds woke me around one A.M. And those of you who recall my annual spring fling history of wading in basement water knee-deep will understand my inability to get back to sleep as I lie there listening to buckets of rain dumping on already saturated ground. At half past three I give up, check the basement again, and stumble to my office and read about other people’s sleep disorders in my Abnormal Psych textbook.

By 5:30 I’m on my way to work. It’s still pouring and some moron is riding the Jimmy’s tail with his or her bright lights on, literally obliterating any sign of the road ahead of me. I finally reduce my speed to a crawl and the dummy goes around me. And yes. For just a teensy moment, I was tempted to speed up, click my brights on and return the favor. But since I really didn’t want to risk a case of road rage on my ‘special day’, I resisted the urge.

I arrive at work. It’s still dark. It’s still pouring. The wind is still ripping away. I grab my umbrella, exit the car, and realize I’ve left my thermos of coffee at home. I can’t stress the importance of my coffee thermos filled with my lovely dark, strong, black with no cream or sugar caffeinated beverage. It’s the difference between a semi -comatose state and the ability to recognize a security threat when I see it—which, of course requires eyes that are open. And focusing.

So, I grumbled a bit (cheapskate that I am) resigned to the fact that I would have to purchase my caffeine fix from the cafeteria. It’s not as strong as mine, but better than nothing. I exit my vehicle in the monsoon-like rain and head in the direction of the closest entrance. I got about ten meters when the wind caught my umbrella. You know what happened next. Yep. My umbrella did one of those embarrassing inside out moves. I could only be thankful it was still dark and no one was around to laugh at the spectacle I made. I ended up running to the entrance, my bag held overhead as a makeshift umbrella.

I get inside and shake off like a mongrel (and probably smelling like one) to begin a ten hour shift. I’d decided that it might be nice to have a few hours of unstructured time to relax and vej out to celebrate my birthday. We had sufficient staff. Why not take off a couple hours early? I report to my work station, go 10-41--and find out we’re short due to illness and expect a huge number of folks through security. My free time fantasy went poof!

The day is busy, but uneventful. Until my sister comes to have lunch with me on my birthday and bearing a big tray of cupcakes for me to hand out. I was touched. It was so thoughtful. My sister and I are both incredibly busy people and rarely have opportunities to see each other so this was truly a gift.

I’m relieved for lunch at my work station. I grab the plastic tray of cupcakes to take them to the security break area. I’m eating with my sister and happen to look down at my uniform and discover somehow I’ve gotten white cupcake frosting up one sleeve and down the front of my dress uniform. Even my breast patch is covered with gooey frosting. I stare at my sister. She stares back.

“How did you manage that?” she asked.

I shook my head.

“It’s another gift that keeps on giving,” I replied with a wince.

Fortunately, for some bizarre reason I a spare jacket in my vehicle. So, with borrowed umbrella in hand, I ran out to switch uniforms.

It’s still pouring.

At the end of my shift, I hit the door running.

I get home. The basement is still dry. I change out of my uniform into comfy sweats and collapse onto the couch.

My daughter calls from work.

“Anything you need me to pick up on my way home?” she asks.

I don’t miss a beat.

“Chocolate,” I responded. “Lots and lots of chocolate.”

Hmm. Maybe next year I’ll take the day off.

In advance.

Any less than stellar birthday memories (besides the reality of getting another year older) you’d like to share? How about best birthdays? Do you make a big deal out of the anniversary of your birth or, like me, do you basically let it pass without much hoopla?

~Bullet Hole who is such a party animal she’s celebrating with a trip to the dentist later today~

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Southern Gal Goes to New York

I just got back from attending the PASIC Power Conference in New York. What a treat. What a time. What a learning experience. Here are fifteen lessons I learned in the big city.

1. When people engaged me in conversation it wasn’t that they liked me, they just wanted to hear me talk and say ya’ll. Next time, I’m going to bring a tin cup and ask for donations.

2. When a taxi driver asks if he can turn at the next right, he’s really getting permission to rip you off.

3. When you say, “I’ll just take the special” to the waiter in some nice restaurant in Times Square, you need to warn your credit card company in advance and take out another mortgage on your home to pay for it.

4. Before leaving for the big city, brush up on all the different kinds of seasonings, fancy cheeses and cooking phrases that you might not know. This way when the 100% Angus tartar beef comes out, you won’t be thinking you just ordered a really good grilled smothered steak and ask why the heck the meat isn’t cooked and where’s the tartar cheese.

5. When a smiling, slightly sleazy man approaches you wearing a dark and over-sized trench coat, don’t look! No matter how tempting, don’t look. Why? You might like the watches he has penned to the inside of his coat. (Yeah, I thought he was up to something else and was a tad disappointed too! Hey, it would have a made a much better blog.)

6. It’s okay to wear tennis shoes in New York as long as you have your 12-inch heels tucked away in your back pack or Gucci purse—which may or may not be the same Gucci purses the guy down the corner of the street is selling. (Which, by the way, are real. He swears on his mother’s grave.)

7. Don’t go to New York unless you look good in black. Any other color attracts dark-colored trench-coat wearing people.

8. Apparently, New York doesn’t get the weather memos that announce the first day of spring. I’m talking about the white, icy stuff falling from the sky that looked a lot like snow.

9. Short people should never go out on Times Square at six in the evening and attempt to follow someone unless you can recognize them by their butt. (P.S. Some butts do look alike.)

10. Short people should never stand behind anyone in Times Square at six in the evening who is wearing a back pack. Especially if it’s a woman carrying her 12-inch heels.

11. You are just as likely to be run over by a bicycle in Manhattan as a taxi. It hurts less but the tire tracks on your brand new tennis shoes can be permanent.

12. Manhattan taxi drivers do not like bicyclists and apparently they get points for every one they run off the road. Bicyclists can obviously retrieve those points by banging their fist on the side of the taxi and scaring the tourists in the cab to the point of nearly peeing in their pants.

13. Road rage isn’t something you need to see a doctor about, it just means you were meant to become a Manhattan taxi driver or a bicyclist.

14. Ordering iced tea or iced water in a restaurant doesn’t mean you’ll actually get the ice. P.S. When a southerner pronounces ice, it sometimes sounds like “ass” to a New York waiter and can bring on some very interesting conversations that start with, “You want what kind of water?”

15. Never, ever pass up the opportunity to go to New York. The people, even the road-raging taxi drivers and bicyclists, trench-coat wearing venders, and anti-ice or “anti-ass” bringing waiters, are a sight to behold and an experience to cherish. I loved every moment of it. Thank you, New York for putting up with this country bumpkin.
So, have you ever been to New York? Have you gone somewhere that you felt as if you were in a completely different world? Hey, have some of you big city folks ever visited south and felt as if the world was off its kilter?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Plain Stupid

I'm been sharing "stupid" stories with you, but this one doesn't fall into any particular category, unless you just wanted to call it REALLY stupid. A writer friend of mine relayed this story at a meeting one day, told by her brother, a paramedic.

They went on a call of a car wreck at a huge overpass in Dallas - one of those that swirls around top and bottom like petals on a flower and allows everyone to take a different direction. Well, apparently some guy moving thought it would be a good idea to pile his truck up beyond capacity then put a mattress on top of all the stuff to "hold it down." Even worse, since he didn't have any rope at all, it was decided that his buddy would ride on top of the mattress to hold the mattress down.

Now, really, one does not need a degree in physics to know where this one is going.

So they took off down the interstate, yes, they thought the interstate would be the place to do this, and when going over one of those big overpasses, a huge gust of wind hit the mattress and it took off the truck, man and all, and went hurtling into the interstate lane below. Now, the remarkable part is that even though the mattress twirled around and around, it landed upright with the buddy still on it - sliding right in the middle of a lane of oncoming traffic.

Traffic scattered everywhere and it's a miracle that no one even wrecked their car. God must really look after the stupid. Because honestly, if I'd have wrecked my car because of something that stupid, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten out of my car and strangled them both until they died.

It took the paramedics three rounds of sedatives and some hand tools to pry the man's fingers off the mattress. I'm not even going to ask if anyone did his laundry. I think that's one of those cases where you probably just throw the clothes away.

So anyone want to chime it - hear about anything that stupid?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, March 20, 2009

The How to Blog Blog

My “I Love Your Blog” award goes to the Fictionistas, a group of young adult authors (including Kristen Painter, Rhonda Stapleton, Mel Francis, Amanda Brice, Gwen Hayes, and Chrissy Olinger) that are funny, clever, and always fun to read. Even if you are not a young adult, I’d definitely recommend checking these ladies out. ;)

In light of our week about our favorite blogs, I stumbled across an interesting article about how to write a successful blog post that I thought I’d share. Here are the ten tips I found on ProBlogger on writing the perfect blog post:

1. Make your opinion known
People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.
(Totally agree with this one. My fav blog posts are ones that give me personal insight into the writer. I’m nosy that way.)

2. Link like crazy.
Support your post with links to other web pages that are contextual to your post.
(Not sure about this one. I get distracted easily, so tons of links steal my focus from content. But, maybe other people have better attention spans.)

3. Write Less
Give the maximum amount of information with the least amount of words. Time is finite and people are infinitely busy. Blast your knowledge into the reader at the speed of sound.
(I have to agree, I remember the short and sweet posts the most. Though, a series of mega short two liners posts makes me lose interest in a blog fast.)

4. 250 is enough
A long post is easier to forget and harder to get into. A short post is the opposite.
(Ditto above.)

5. Make Headlines snappy
Contain your whole argument in your headline. Check out National newspapers to see how they do it.
(I love cute headlines! Though, like book titles, I know how hard they ar to come up with.)

6. Include bullet point lists
We all love lists, it structures the info in an easily digestible format.
(Depends on what the list is. Top ten fav hot hunks… I’d be totally into those bullet points.)

7. Make your posts easy to scan
Every few paragraphs insert a sub heading. Make sentences and headlines short and to the point.
(I guess if you’re writing a post that’s more article-ish than personal narrative, it might work well.)

8. Be consistent with your style
People like to know what to expect, once you have settled on a style for your audience stick to it.
(Totally agree! I love that any day of the week here at KF, I know what sort of style to expect from the posts.)

9. Litter the post with Keywords.
Think about what keywords people would use to search for your post and include them in the body text and headers. make sure the keyword placement is natural and does not seem out of place.
(Again, if I were trying to get hits to a non-fiction sort of article, this makes sense.)

10. Edit your post
Good writing is in the editing. Before you hit the submit button, re-read your post and cut out the stuff that you don’t need.
(Very good advice. And now I’m going back to re-read this for any typos…)

So, anyone else have tips for good blogging?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stare deep into the crystal ball...what do YOU see?

My selection for Juli Fennell's 'I Love Your Blog Award' goes to The Seekers, an awesome group of writers who hang out in Seekerville http://seekerville.blogspot.com. Chuck full of timely information, tons of encouragement, lots of guests--and lots of laughs, Seekerville is a must for your list of favorites! Stop by and tell 'em Bullet Hole sent you!

Now to today's blog.

As many of you know, I'm at a crossroads in my writing career. With my Calamity Jayne series on hiatus (sadly despite the daily emails I get from readers begging me to continue the series) I'm branching out in several directions--and all at the same time. (Think the literary version of Twister here. So not a pretty picture.) I'm retooling a western historical romance, the very first book I wrote. I'm doing rewrites on a hard-boiled, police procedural/women's fiction series opener. I'm writing a two stand alone romantic mysteries. I'm waiting for a YA editor at Penguin-Putnam to read my Young Adult Middle Level book. And I'm working on a children's book series with my kid.

How do you say diversify?

When I got to thinking about it, writing strategy isn't all that different from investment strategies. Our financial gurus are constantly preaching the wisdom of broad asset allocation and cautioning against putting all our eggs in one basket. So, maybe the same theory holds true for selling in today's increasingly competitive writing market. Look for new and promising opportunities and get in on the ground floor. So to speak.

In publishing, the million dollar contract question, has always been how do you predict what the next exciting trend in publishing will be. What genre(s) will be best represented on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists two year down the road. What type of fiction will capture the rapt attention of multitudes of readers? Will paranormals crash and burn? Will rom-com make a comeback? Will historicals reign supreme?

So many questions...so few answers.

Hence the crystal ball and seer at the top of the page.

There is some evidence that all is not doom and gloom for those of us who write romance or many of its sub-genres. Recently Jay Leno observed that while book sales may be down due to the tough economy, there is one exception: Romance!

It makes sense. Historically during difficult times in our nation's history, there is a renewed sense of family and more focus on the simple pleasures to be found in loving relationships.

There's no doubt folks are hurting in America. And it's likely to get worse before it gets better. But we all know there's no greater escape from our troubles to be found than on the pages of a good book. But escape to WHERE?

So, grab your crystal ball, tarot cards, oracle bones, or use the wisdom and savvy you've acquired by writing and reading (or both) stacks and stacks of books and weigh in with your prediction about what readers will be looking for most in the stories they select or buy.

I'll go first. All-knowing and all-seeing Psychic Kathleen (snort) predicts that inspirational romances will see a jump in sales, as well as historical romances as readers will seek an experience that takes them away from the trials of contemporary life. I also predict a new, less restrictive sub-genre of inspirational stories that includes fewer taboos and more contemporary implications and applications will emerge. Perhaps surprising, I also see a re-emergence of political thrillers, as well as mysteries, on the publishing horizon.

Now it's your turn, seers of seers. Prognosticators of prognosticators. Make your predictions on the future trends of publishing. What's in. What's out. What's hot. What's not.

Okay. You're wondering whether Psychic Kathleen sees any more Calamity Jayne stories in the future? Right?

Wait just a second.

Shake. Shake.

Okay, Bullet Hole's Magic 8 Ball says, 'Reply hazy. Try again.'

Stay tuned...

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stuff You Wish You'd Forgotten Already...

The winner of my favorite blog is Wendi Aarons of wendi-aarons.blogspot.com. This is the woman who wrote the famous letter to Proctor & Gamble, thanking them for giving Always maxi pads wings. This woman is too funny. Check her out!

And now, back to our original blog...

I was going through my fabulous iPod Nano (in orange no less) and the following idea hit me:

Ahem. Songs you will never see people singing to audition for American Idol:

  • Louie Louie - I believe it's a rule that if you don't know the lyrics, Simon gets angry. You won't like him when he's angry. Or is that the Hulk? I get them mixed up.

  • Convoy – C.W. McCall - Great song but try to audition with it keeping a straight face saying, "This here's the Rubber Duck. We gonna let them truckers roll, 10-4!" It is impossible and defies the laws of physics.

  • The Ballad of the Green Berets – Sgt. Barry Sadler - Such a corny song I'd almost pay someone to try it.

  • Run, Joey Run, Joey Run - "Daddy please don't! It wasn't his fault! He means so much to me! Daddy please don't! We're gonna get married! Just you wait and see!" Ahhh...a timeless classic.

  • Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult - Can be achieved if actually dressed as Godzilla stomping on a model of Tokyo.

  • 99 Luftballoons - Nena - Come on, I know you thought about it. "Noneenon shooshtluft balones..." Or something like it.

  • I Wanna Be A Cowboy – Boys Don’t Cry - "Riding on the chuckwagon...following my man. His name is Ted...do you believe that?" Sheer poetry on a stick.

  • One Step Beyond – Madness - These three words are the only lyrics but this is a salute to one of the very first videos on MTV.

  • Day-O – Harry Belafonte - To do this right, you have to do the actions as seen in Beetlejuice.

  • In a Gadda Devita – Iron Butterfly - See Louie Louie. Same rule applies. No exceptions.

  • King Tut – Steve Martin - Not only is this on my iPod, I know all the words.

  • Mah Nah, Mah Nah - Some Muppets - This is my favorite. Nuff said.

I have a small confession. Not only are all these songs really on my iPod, I actually know all the words to all of them.

Don't judge me. What's on your iPod?

The Assassin

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Southern Fried Chicken Dilemma

It’s no secret that here in the south we take our fried chicken seriously. Recently, I discovered how seriously. To be honest, I’d learned the lesson about ten years ago when according to my family, I dishonored my heritage and was accused of “chicken counterfeiting.” I won’t deny it, I pled guilty and was practically disowned. (Hey, I couldn’t lie my way out of it, the proof had been caught on film.)

To this day, if fried chicken is brought up at a family gathering--and duh, it always is because the world would end if the Hunt bunch got together and didn’t have the finger-licking, artery-clogging pieces of meat as an offering—I get snickered at and reminded of my failings.

You must know, I learned how to cook fowl about the same time I was potty trained. As a matter of fact, I think there’s one of those pictures of me wearing a diaper, appropriately showing a bit of plumber’s crack, (I am my daddy’s daughter) standing on a chair watching grandma cook Sunday dinner. According to my grandmother, every southern gal should know how to fry a mean bird.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that my generation got off easy. My grandma, even my mother, didn’t have to just know how to fry the mean bird, they got to know the mean part up close and personal. They had to catch that bird, ring its neck, de-feather it, and cut the bird up into recognizable pieces of meat. Today Swanson takes care of all that for us. Between you and I, if I had to kill something to eat it, I wouldn’t have to belong to Weight Watchers.

I can remember watching my grandma drop the flour-coated pieces of meat into the cast iron skillet. It was that memory and the guilt brought on by the reminiscence that lead to my crime. You see, I realized that I’d failed my family responsibility and not taught my then teenage daughter the fine art of bird frying. I had good reasons. I had been brained washed by the Surgeon General into believing the southern “Crisco-is-a-food-group” way of thinking was a crime. I had even tossed away my “bacon grease/seasoning for every dish” drippings bowl that had been centered on my stove.

So, to make up for this failing, I decided to teach the frying chicken art to my daughter and to even write a heart-felt essay about passing down family recipes. I wrote it and it was beautiful. I sold it, and I beamed with pride. The magazine contacted me and asked if I could supply photos to accompany the feature article. That was when I learned a very important lesson—always throw away the evidence!

You see, after all the non-frying years in which I fit into my size five jeans, I could still fry a mean bird. Oh, it tasted finger-licking, so bad-for-you good. My only problem was . . . my mean bird wasn’t photo pretty. After the second frying failed to provide the Kodak moment I needed, I cratered. I went to a good friend of mine for help.

Colonel Sanders with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I dusted myself and my daughter up with a few sprays of flour, popped my KFC into a skillet, set up the tripod and got the images I needed. No one ever needed to know. And they wouldn’t have if I hadn’t forgotten to remove the red and white bucket from the kitchen that was caught on film in the background.

Now the magazine was kind enough to cut the edge of the photo out, but I’d made the huge mistake of providing my family copies of the photos and article before it appeared.

Needless to say, my hubby supported me against the onslaught of remarks for bringing shame to my grandmother’s recipe. It wasn’t easy for my husband, because southern men have deep emotional ties to all things southern-fried. And recently I discovered just how deep my husband’s ties are for fried chicken. As a matter of fact, I’m worried about him.

Here in Texas we have a cafeteria called Luby’s. Luby’s is practically a Texas tradition. Well, recently during some of these hard economic times, Luby’s was sold to another restaurant group. Now they raised the prices, for which my oh-so frugal husband threw a fit about. But that fit was nothing to what happened last week.

The fact it was Sunday made the crime much more hideous. We were in line and my husband started picking out his menu selection. He didn’t see the fried chicken, but he assumed they were frying up a fresh batch. So when he told the man behind the counter what he wanted, and this poor man made the terrible mistake of looking my husband in the eyes and saying, “We don’t have fried chicken today,” and stared at my husband who had eaten fried chicken at Luby’s for last forty years, as if he had the audacity to expect fried chicken on Sunday. Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.

According to my husband, it is un-American and a sin against mankind for Luby’s not to serve fried chicken any day of the week, but on Sundays? He stood there in the middle of that cafeteria line and announced, “Fried chicken is the backbone upon which Luby’s name was built.” And he said it with such passion and devotion that I took my heart-healthy-weight-watcher-approved grilled fish, scooted away, and pretended I didn’t know him.
He asked to speak to the manager, and the man made his second mistake of saying, “You’re talking to him.”

Hubby ended up eating a vegetable plate, but he wasn’t happy. And there wasn’t one person in the restaurant who didn’t know it. Yup, hubby is like me in that he doesn’t mind talking to strangers. Even as we walked to our car, he informed everyone going inside, “You might as well turn around. They don’t have fried chicken.” Much to my surprise, a few couples actually got in their cars and left.

Anyway, my husband has researched the location of the Luby’s Corporation, and next week he’ll be knocking on their door. And while I’m gonna be busy that day, I did crater and do as he asked and blog about it. Not sure this is exactly what he had in mind, but it’s the best I could do.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m guilty of having a piece of fried chicken on occasion. However, if my hubby doesn’t let this go, I’m thinking about starting a Fried Chicken Anonymous group and checking on having him detoxed.

So what about you? What’s on your menu for supper tonight? Any family recipes to share? I will post my grandmother’s chicken recipe in the comments section. Just remember, it’s so good, it’s bad for you, but it ain’t pretty.

Crime Scene Christie—the Chicken Counterfeiter
Oh...and for the blog I love . . . oh, I wish I could pick two or three. I read different blogs for different reasons. But I guess I'll have to name my Bookends blog as one of the best for information on and about the market.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blog Loving Monday

Gemma posted on Friday that we were bestowed with an "I Love Your Blog" award, so this week we will each be choosing a blog to pass that honor on to. For my choice, I am picking my agent's blog - Pub Rants. My agent is Kristin Nelson and I love her blog. She gives industry information that is accurate, useful, and interesting, and she never pulls any punches. If you want the lowdown on the publishing biz from someone who lives it everyday, then check out Pub Rants!

I had another selection of blogs that I love, but the problem is it can't be narrowed to just one. I really, REALLY love techno-geek blogs! You know why? Because no matter how screwed up the manufacturer has made a product, there is someone out there smarter than the guy who built it that can tell you how to fix it, and he has a blog. Some of you may remember my horror story about opening the Office 2007 box. Well, my latest problem was with my Sony Reader.

My new laptop has Vista (God help us all), and it's been a challenge to put things politely to get certain software to function. However, I'd managed them all except my Sony Reader software - which incidentally is sorta like iTunes for the reader, in that without it, you can't buy new books or transfer them to your reader, leaving you with a really expensive doorstop.

So I did everything Sony said to do to update my reader software to work with Vista. I loaded it on the new computer, downloaded and installed the patch, blah, blah, blah. And it always looked like it worked, but then when I rebooted my computer (which is required) a quarter of the reader software screen disappeared. And great for me - it was the left side - the side with all the menus. This might be a problem. Ha! Might as well have no software at all. So of course, I emailed Sony and I am still waiting on an answer - that was six months ago. Finally, I got fed up and called (spent four hours on hold), for them to say that there software didn't work with Vista yet. Hello? Your website says it does.

So I ask why a computer manufacturer who was actually privy to advance release copies of operating systems didn't anticipate a problem with Vista. Are they really that stupid? The Sony guy whispered "Apparently they are. Do you have any idea how many of these phone calls I take a day?" I replied "Probably as many as the number of resumes you sent out this morning." He agreed.

So back to no software. I fall back to my failsafe - the internet. So I Google, Sony Reader+Vista+missing part of screen - and guess what, answers! I find a blog where a techno geek tells me that there's a registry file that must be deleted or Vista keeps the software from displaying properly. That's it. One friggin' file. Of course, this should have been a five-second event, but there's this whole administrator login issue with Vista that makes me want to run screaming into traffic. But I'll save that story for a morning where I can stay at home and drink.

So after wrestling with the administrator login, I manage to delete the file and lo and behold, techo geek - who is still in college - has fixed my problem that Sony - the MANUFACTURER of the product, didn't have a clue about.

So in collection - I Love All Techo-Geek Blogs!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, March 13, 2009


I’ve spent the past week pounding out the last few chapters of the first book in my new Hollywood Headlines series. And, I’m *this* close to having it finished. I’m hoping that by Monday I’ll be typing those most favorite of all words, “the end.” I have to say, I am having so much fun writing this one. I actually giggled out loud while writing today. Yes, I cracked myself up. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or kinda pathetic, but I’m enjoying myself.

So, in light of my total focus on finishing the book, I didn’t leave much time for blog writing today. Doh. But, the boy reminded me that it’s Friday the 13th, so, in honor of this very creepy non-holiday holiday, I’m brining you a top 13 of superstitions:

1. A rabbit's foot brings good luck.
(Sorry, Bugs!)

2. If you walk under a ladder, you will have bad luck.
(Especially if a paint bucket then falls on you.)

3. If a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck.
(I am allergic to cats, so this always holds true. I sneeze. Every time.)

4. To break a mirror will bring you seven years bad luck.
(Sometimes my bed-head is scary enough to break a mirror… but I’ve yet to actually do this.)

5. To find a horseshoe brings good luck.
(I totally don’t get this one since this likely means there’s a horse out there wearing only three shoes. How can that be good?)

6. A cricket in the house brings good luck.
(Because they eat other bugs?)

7. To find a penny heads up brings good luck.
(Personally, I’d rather find a $20 bill.)

8. Clothes worn inside out will bring good luck.
(And make all your friends pretend they don’t know you.)

9. Garlic protects from evil spirits and vampires.
(Which proves there are no Italian vampires.)

10. To open an umbrella in the house is to bring bad luck.
(Especially if you poke someone in the eye while doing it. Not that I’ve done this… often.)

11. An itchy palm means money will come your way.
(Okay, raise your hand if you palm started itching the second you read that?)

12. Crossing your fingers helps to avoid bad luck and helps a wish come true.
(And, as my son says, it is also known as “crossies” and gives you a free pass to tell a lie. But, he added, of course not to your mom.)

13. If you blow out all of the candles on your birthday cake with the first breath you will get whatever you wish for.
(I love this one. But, I don’t think it’s fair that it gets harder and harder to do the older you get.)

So, anyone else have any fun superstitions to share?


P.S. Judi Fennell has bestowed upon Killer Fiction the "I Love Your Blog" award! Thanks so much, Judi! So, it's now our job to pass it on to five blogs we love. Which works out perfectly, considering there are five of us. So, come hang with us all next week as we share the love with our favorite blogs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An office makeover...now no more excuses

As many of you know, I've been on a bit of a home improvement binge lately. Painting, carpeting, chair rail and moulding. You name it and I've done it. Several weeks ago I blogged about getting a 'wild hair' one Sunday afternoon when I decided to switch my bedroom and office around. Since then, little by little, I've been trying to sort through stacks of paperwork, old files (both paper and computer) and organize my new office into an efficient working/writing environment. While I'm not quite there yet, I figured it was safe enough to show you what I've been up to.

I have to admit, I love having more space to spread out in. Between college courses and writing, I spend a considerable amount of time in my office so having an area where I can remain relatively organized (somewhat of a challenge for yours truly) and where I comfortably sit and read or edit hard copy was something I really wanted to try and incorporate into my new digs.

You'll notice while I do have a CD player in my office, I don't have a TV there. In fact, the only room I watch TV in is the living room. There's a reason for that: Less temptation and less distraction that way.
Alas, now I find myself with no more excuses for not writing up a storm. Well, it's not as easy to find excuses now.

So yesterday once I finished a paper for class, I decided to get down to business--the businesss of writing. And with the new office environment, came a new energy and enthusiasm. It's a good thing, too. I'm working on FOUR different projects at present with no idea which one (or ones!) will take off next. Yesterday I spent the day retooling a manuscript I wrote many years ago and didn't get to bed until 2:30 this morning. (The reason I'm late posting.) Today I plan to work on the children's book my son and I are collaborating on. Tomorrow I work, but Saturday I'll be tackling final revisions on my hard-boiled series.

And there is that Power Point presentation for Ethics class to work on.

Good thing I don't have any more excuses for not being productive.

So, what do you of the new digs? I still need to get more pictures put up and find something to stick in that sad little empty corner by the window. Any ideas? (No plant suggestions, please--I SO don't have a green thumb.)

And you probably can't see it in the picture, but there is a Cadbury Creme Egg sitting on the base of my computer monitor.

It's called your basic 'motivation'...

Have a wonderful rest of the week, ya'll!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stupid #!@# I Did This Week...

My Avatar isn't so smart either. Here she is in a skirt, riding a horse made out of ice. That's right.

In the last week I:

Got bashed in the head with the door knob while bending over to pick up the paper as the very heavy door was swinging shut

Ate Lucky Charms for lunch once… okay, twice… ALRIGHT, dammit! Two bowls each time! God!

Ate a whole sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting (well, um, five or six times)

Purchased, took home and installed a Wii over my lunch hour – allowing me no time to eat and resulting in one of the Thin Mint binges mentioned above

Humiliated myself in front of my kids trying to play the easiest game on aforementioned Wii

Ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie while watching Joan Rivers sell cupcakes on the Apprentice (Oh, right...like you haven’t done that!)

Abused nighttime cold medicine to the point that I now hide my addiction

Kept eating Dove Dark chocolates (they’re medicinal!) until I found a message I liked. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

Dealt with a bizarre, guinea pig incontinence issue (do NOT ask!)

Actually considered getting a Mastiff or two zebra finches (I have no explanation for this)

Told my children if they didn’t stop fighting over the Wii, I would beat them to death with a rake. Yeah, they didn’t buy it either.

Actually considered lapsing into a coma as a way to finally get some rest.

What did you do?

The Assassin

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What A Woman Really Wants in Romance


Okay...my hubby reached into the hat of names and pulled out more than one. So . . . here's my winners:





Email me at christie (@) christie (-) craig.com and give me your snail mail address and I'll get you an ARC of Gotcha. By the way...this ARC is extra special. It's written by Christie Graig. GRAIG! Yup...they got my name wrong in the header of the book. Let's hope it's fixed in the real book.

Thanks to everyone who played along and visited Barbara Vey's party. The party is still going on, too. So pop over there. And I swear...some of you really know how to party. I won't name names, but there was someone frisking all the guys. Hmmm?

Today’s the day I’m giving away an ARC, an advanced reader copy, of Gotcha! my June release. So make sure you post a comment. Plus read below about an opportunity to win other great books over at Barbara Vey’s anniversary party going on all week long.

What a Woman Really Wants in Romance

(Previously published as a guest blog over at TJ Bennett’s blog land.)

I remember being in first grade and coming home and asking my mom if she’d put my hair up in pigtails the next day for school. She rolled her eyes at me in disbelief because that very morning I’d thrown a hissy fit because I hadn’t wanted to wear my hair up in pigtails. But I had good reasons for my change of heart. And you can bet it involved matters of the heart, too. You see, I’d watched a neighborhood boy named Calvin, whom I liked, pull on the pigtails of another little girl named Mary. Surely, if I wore my hair like hers, he would pull my pigtails instead of Mary’s.

At age six, I didn’t care if that boy had a six pack or a sexy gait. His toothless smile and freckles made my stomach flutter. I didn’t care that his mode of transportation, an old paint-chipped bike that had belonged to his brother, wasn’t the hottest on the block. Frankly, I didn’t really care, or even want, to get my hair pulled, either. What I wanted was . . . his attention.

As I grew older, like most girls, what I looked for in a man changed a bit. Don’t judge me, but I’ll confess, I got to that place where I preferred my men with teeth. And when I got to high school, freckles weren’t a plus either. And yes, in time I started noticing six packs and sexy bad-boy smiles, and I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t have been happy with a man whose mode of transportation was a paint-chipped bike.

My point isn’t that love, or our search for it, is superficial. I think the whole attraction thing is somewhat physiological. We are instinctively looking for a mate with good genes, and how he fits into his jeans is sure to catch our eyes. We are looking for a mate who can help us feed and clothe ourselves and our children and that paint-chipped bike may lead us to believe he won’t be a good provider.

But you know, when I look deep into romance, at what a woman really wants and what my romance heroine’s want, I can tell you that some things are the same as they were on that playground years ago. Women want to know that of all the girls pumping their legs on the swing set, going up and down on the seesaw, that you are the one he wants. It’s your pigtails he wants to pull. Women want a man’s full attention; they want to be the thing he’ll do anything to attain--even if it means spending his whole recess chasing you around the school’s backyard.

As I write my novels, I try to remember this about romance. Sure, I add plenty of hard abs and bedroom smiles. Hey, sex is part of a good romance. And you can bet your bottom dollar that my heroes have all their teeth. Nevertheless, these two people get together because there just isn’t anyone else whom they would choose to share their lives with. Like most romances, my characters may not know this in the beginning, but while playing on life’s playground, (which for my heroine in my book, Divorced, Desperate and Dating, means avoiding a killer, resisting a bad-boy’s charm, and using a tampon to defend herself) they suddenly realize that this other person is the one.

Today, after twenty-four years of marriage, when I look over at my husband, I’m kind of glad I didn’t hook up with Calvin. I won’t lie, my hubby no longer has a six pack—not that it’s all gone to pot, mind you. His bedroom smile still makes my stomach flutter, and of course he still has all his teeth. But more importantly, he still somehow makes me feel like the prettiest girl on the playground.

And isn’t that what a woman really wants? To be made to feel beautiful and desirable—to know you are his one and only.

So now it’s your turn. How do you define romance? What is it that you really want? The garbage taken out, roses, or a sexy bad-boy smile. Or how about all of the above?

Remember…post a comment to be entered in my drawing for an autographed copy of Gotcha! And . . . if you want your name entered twice for my drawing, all you have to do is jump over to Barbara’s Vey’s blog and say you read about her blog at Killer Fiction. Plus, this week Barbara is giving away over 200 books, one of which is a copy of Gotcha!, as well as copies of my other novels and two copies of The Everything Guide to Writing A Romance Novel. So make sure you post. See ya at the party!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Stupid Service

Sorry for the delay, guys. Time change got the best of me. :)

Today, I'm going to talk about stupid service, meaning stupid things said or done by a service professional. Now, before I start, I want you to know that I have nothing against waitresses, in fact, I have a really good friend that is one, but two stories that came to mind just happened to fall in that profession.

The first was at one of those Mexican restuarants where you do buffet and the server brings you drinks and sophapillas. So she stops at the table, takes the drink orders then the following conversation ensues:

Server: Would you like the sophapillas now or after your meal?
Me: After the meal for me. I like them when they're hot.
Server: They're hot now.
Me: (eye blink) After will be fine.

Second, I was in a restuarant in a small Texas town, traveling for business, and reading for one of my author friends. The waitress stops and asks if I am a teacher. I explain I am a writer and I'm reading a friend's work. She then proceeds to tell me that she is writing a book. The following conversation ensues:

Me: What kind of book is it?
Her: It's a story about a girl.
Me: Okkkkkaaaayyyyy. What genre?
Her: (blank stare)
Me: You know, horror, fantasy, romance, science fiction.....
Her: (white light dawning) Oh. (light dims) It's a story about a girl.
Me: (don't have a word to say)
Her: So how do I get it published?
Me: First thing you need to do is find a writer's group to join because that's a huge question and being in a writer's group allows you to ask them as they arise.
Her: So I should look in the Yellow Pages?
Me: Probably not. Try looking online.
Her: On what line?
Me: The internet.
Her: Oh, I don't know how to do that. I don't even have a computer. I'm writing mine in a notebook.
Me: Well, that's a good place to start. All publishing is done with computers now, so start thinking of a way you can get one and learn how to use it.
Her: (long pause) What I really want to know is how many pages your friend has. I've got three.
Me: (wishing I wasn't in a family restuarant, in a dry town, but knowing there's a CVS next door and it probably has cough medicine)

Any stories you'd like to share?

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Are You a Lefty or a Righty?

Hey...there's a party going on over at Barbara Vey's blog. She's giving away lots and lots of prizes this week. Pop over!


LuAnn, you are the winner of Tracy's Madison book, A Taste of Magic!

Please email your snail mail address, at christie (@) christie-craig . com (no spaces)



Help me welcome Tracy to Killer Fiction again. And I don't care if she's a lefty or righty, she's a great writer.

And make sure you leave a comment because she's giving away a copy of A Taste of Magic to one lucky person.


I bet, when you read the header, you thought I was talking about whether you're left or right handed, huh? Nope! What I'm talking about today is brains.

Yep. You read that right--BRAINS. They say that right brained people are more creative than left brain people, but that left are more analytical than right. So, do you know if you're mainly a right brain individual or a left?

Don't feel bad if you don't, I'm still not sure, but here's a little info to help you make that decision:

The standard theory is that two different sides of the brain control two different forms of thinking, and that each of us generally tends to prefer one form over the other. Things like "Oh, HE'S really practical/analytical/etc," or "SHE'S really emotional/intuitive/etc." And of course, the "he" and the "she" are completely interchangeable.

Though, let's be honest--most men (on average!) fall into the practical/analytical side, while women tend to be more on the emotional/intuitive side. At least in my personal experience. But yes, I know emotional men and analytical women exist--heck, some of them are my friends.

Anyway, moving on! Now I don't want to get to technical here, because that wouldn't be nearly as interesting, but suffice it to say that there are some GENERAL thinking characteristics that make up each side of the brain.

They are:

The LEFT BRAIN thinking style tends to be:
Looks At Parts

While the RIGHT BRAIN thinking style tends to be:
Looks At Wholes

Okay, if you're anything like me, that list kind of made me scratch my head, because I tend to fall a bit into both, so then I did some more searching and I found a nifty chart of right brain and left brain characteristics.

Recreated here, they are:


Responds to verbal instruction.
Problem solves by logically and sequentially looking at the parts of things.
Looks at differences.
Is planned and structured.
Prefers talking and writing.
Prefers multiple choice tests.
Controls feelings.
Prefers ranked authority structures.
Draws on previously accumulated, organized information.

A-Ha! Sounds like most men I've ever met in my life...


Responds to demonstrated instructions.
Problem solves with hunches, looking for patterns and configurations.
Looks at similarities.
Is fluid and spontaneous.
Prefers elusive, uncertain information.
Prefers drawing and manipulating objects.
Prefers open ended questions.
Free with feelings.
Prefers collegial authority structures.
Draws on unbounded qualitative patterns that are not organized into sequences, but that cluster around images.

So, again, this list is more like the females in my life than the men. But, I was still a little confused, because again, I have areas in both that are me. I tend to plan, and I like things somewhat structured within MY own schedule (MY plan, though, not someone else's), but I also problem solve with hunches (intuition/emotions) often. Also, I definitely love to talk and write, but I'm also free with my feelings.

I went hunting the Internet again, and found--to my utter delight--a QUIZ! Yes, a quiz to help you determine if you're right brained or left brained.

Go. Now. Take this VERY COOL QUIZ and then come back--I'll wait.

Back? Cool. So what'd it say about you? Mine said:

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance:
Right Brain Dominance:
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

So it appears I'm mainly a right brain sort of gal, which really doesn't surprise me. With this information, I searched some more and found this really cool video that, depending on the way the girl is spinning, tells you if you're a RIGHTY or a LEFTY.

Because I'm not smart enough to figure out how to imbed the actual video in this post, you'll have to GO HERE to see it. If you see her spinning clockwise, you're a RIGHTY, but if she's going counter-clockwise, then you're a LEFTY.

I'm a little weird, I think. Or maybe just quirky. Yes, let's go with quirky. Because when I first look at her she's going clockwise, and then as I continue to watch, her movement changes to counter, but after a while, back to clockwise.

So--what about you? Are you a LEFTY or a RIGHTY? And what way does the lady spin for you?

By the way, I am absolutely sure that my right brain tendencies are why I have such a hard time writing synopses. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Tomorrow I am, sadly, going to the memorial service of a wonderful friend. Her name was Lucy, and she passed away last week due to cancer. Like so many horrible cancer stories that I’ve heard, Lucy felt perfectly healthy until just a couple weeks ago when she went to the doctor with a minor complaint and learned she had cancer. She tried treatments, but it quickly became apparent that the best the doctors could do for her was make her last days comfortable. Which, I’m happy to report, her family and friends did. She held “court” every day while dozens of visitors came by to see her, bringing flowers, cookies, meals, and every assortment of well wishes you can imagine.

When I first moved back to my hometown, it was just before my son was born. I was a young, single mom, and I spent a lot of those first few months at the drugstore buying… you guessed it… diapers. Lucy worked the checkout counter at the drug store, and, unlike most of the clerks you’d find, Lucy LOVED her job. Seriously loved it. I never saw her without a smile and the amount of energy she had surpassed even that little pink bunny guy. She always stopped to chat with every customer and, even more amazing, knew everyone’s name. She quickly got to know me and my son, mostly because he had such a great set of lungs on him. More than once I came in there looking I’m sure like I’d gotten about two hours of sleep and wearing a rainbow of baby spit up on my clothes, toting along an infant screaming at the top of his lungs. Lucy always stopped to help me. Always. No matter if the line was out the door. Often times she’d have great advice for colic, diaper rash, anything that I could come at her with.

Later, when my little guy was a toddler, she would have little toys or treats to give him when we came in. The drug store became known as “the Lucy store” in our household.

As time went on, we needed fewer and fewer diapers, and our daily visits to the drug store became more like monthly ones. Still, Lucy always asked after my son by name, and I came to realize we weren’t the only ones. She knew the names of every child that came in that store. She knew their brothers, sisters, their pets, their favorite flavors of ice cream. What I wouldn’t have given for a memory like Lucy’s!

Lucy was one of the most exuberant people I’ve ever met. I’d often see her riding her bike to work – a super cool vintage beach comber – her long, dark hair flowing behind her, waving to everyone she knew along the way. She was always laughing, always joking, and more full of life than anyone I’ve ever met. She never thought of herself as “just a clerk” at a drug store, but as the ray of sunshine in every person’s day that crossed her path. And we all thought of her that way, too.

Her family has requested that her memorial service be a celebration of her life instead of a mourning of her passing. They are expecting hundreds of people, which doesn’t surprise me in the least, and have requested that everyone in attendance wear red, Lucy’s favorite color. So, tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be putting on my shiniest red heels, sparkliest red earrings, and biggest smile as I go pay tribute to my friend, Lucy.

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Confessions of a NON-SHOPAHOLIC

With the release of the movie based on Sophie Kinsella's book, this blog post is, I suppose, ill-timed. Those of you whose hearts beat fast and respiration rates increase at the words 'Nordstroms' and 'everything on sale' will no doubt have a hard time relating to my tale of 'woe is me', but I'm sure there are people out there like me who--dare I say it--hate to shop.

For as long as I can remember, I have never experienced that 'high' I've heard associated with shopping. Maybe because I had a hard enough time putting a roof over our heads and food on the table as a divorced mum of four with very little discretionary income left over that has something to do with my attitude towards shopping. I also have some pretty 'tight' roots in my family tree system that might account for my, uh, fiscally conservative ways, as well. (I'm learning in my Psych classes that so much of who we are and what we do finds its origins in our environment, experiences, AND genetics. Cool, huh?)

Anyway, I had been putting off a shopping excursion for some time, so yesterday I decided to 'face my fears' and tackle the beast that shopping represents. I badly needed gray work slacks since the permanent marker explosion in the dryer some weeks ago and two of my off-spring also required a trip to the city for various items not available in our small town, so yesterday was the day.

It was sunny and warm for early March and I would much rather have been walking through the cemetery (my normal pedestrian haunt) than walking the malls, but one does what one has to do.

I'm somewhat of an organized shopper. I'm very regimented and sequential. (First we go here for this and this, then we go here, for this and this, then here, then here, then HOME.) For those 'seat of the pantsers' who love shopping, but prefer a more leisurely shopping experience, I can guarantee a shopping experience that even you would hate.

We left at 11 when my daughter got off work and I drove her to the trendy, second-hand store she loves to shop at. I checked the racks for gray slacks, hopeful I might find what I needed there and my quest would be over, but the only gray slacks they had were clearly meant to be worn by an anorexic dwarf so I left her there, instructing her to 'take her time' while reminding her of the other places on my 'to-go-to' list. My son and I walked next door to Target. I browsed the books and checked out the clothes racks for gray slacks. No luck.

Once my daughter was done, (she found two pairs of black work pants, the smartee pants!) we headed to the next place on the list, the eyeglass establishment where my son's glasses were purchased. He had his glasses repaired and adjusted and we left there and headed to the mall. I immediately headed to the women's department and started going through the slack racks in search of the infamous gray slacks.

I should explain about the pants. I wear a uniform of sorts and the gray has to be just the right color of gray. Not too light. Not too dark. And while I don't consider myself overly picky about clothes, when you wear something for a ten hour shift in a job with high visibility, you want it to look nice--and be comfortable while you're at it.

My first challenge in buying pants or jeans is the length. I'm fairly tall and I have fairly long legs. And I don't like high water slacks or slacks that ride up mid-calve when you sit down. But I don't like treading on my slacks when I walk either. The next challenge is finding the right cut. I require slacks with belt loops as I need to carry a portable police radio and phone on my belt. I also have this 'thing' about anything being tight around my waist. So my ideal pants ride just below the waist and have large enough belt loops for a regular sized belt to go through. Nothing out of the ordinary. Right?

You'd thought I was looking for au couture.

First off, most women's dressy slacks don't even have belt loops. If they do, they are itsy-bitsy ones I can barely get my pinky finger through. And the ones that do have loops? They ride so high on the waist they almost come to the bottom of my bra.

So not a good look for me.

I spent precious time in the fitting room trying on one style and size after another. And what is it with women's sizes? Why is it I can wear a size 8 in one style and turn around and not be able to get even one leg in a size 8 of another style?

I was about ready to give up hope when I spotted a pair of gray slacks on the end of a sales rack. The slacks featured belt loops, although they were big and wide and looked a little too 'girly' for security purposes. I tried them on. They fit like a dream!

I checked the price tag. They were fifty percent off! I actually felt my heart flutter.

Sold to the tall, tightass, picky blonde with the two traumatized teens who will never again ask her to take them shopping.

Wow! A shopping day I actually didn't hate! Who knew?

To celebrate, I treated myself to a quick stop at the bookstore and then hopped over to check out the used bookstore. I was thrilled to find two Victoria Holt books to replace the ones from my collection lost in a flood last year.

You wanna know what time we got back home? Three-twenty P.M.

Now that is a true confession of one NON-SHOPAHOLIC.

So, anyone else out there have similar 'tudes about shopping? For those of you who can 'shop 'til you drop' how in the heck do you do it? What makes a shopping trip a success or, conversely, a failure? How often do you shop? Is the present economy having an effect on your shopping habits? If so, how are you coping? I

It's the day to dish on shopping addictions/phobias so dish away!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

P.S. Get well, Les!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thin Mints Be Damned!

I'm sick. My throat is sore, sinuses blocked, head aches and neck swollen. I know it's bad because I'm surrounded by Girl Scout cookies and am not even interested. I can't tell you how scary that is. Maybe the pod people took me. I wonder where I went? I hope someplace warm with the old-fashioned nyquil that had real alcohol in it.

So I must apologize for not being able to come up with anything other than mucus right now. Forgive me. I'll feel better next week. Until then, I'm gonna crawl back into bed and die.

The Dying Assassin

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Chunky Monkey Butt!

Let me tell you, I’ve hatched two little humans myself, and maybe it’s the pain a woman feels during the baby-delivery process but seeing it happen feels much more like a miracle than actually doing it. Don’t get me wrong, seeing my little girl, my daughter, in pain just about ripped my heart out. No matter how old your babies get, you never stop wanting to be the boo-boo fixer. But unlike when my girl was young and thought scrapping her knee was the end of the world, no Smurf band aid was going to fix this.

Once or twice I was tempted remove a few body parts from her husband for getting her pregnant. How could this be fair that men didn’t have to suffer, too? But then my son-in-law, a true hero, was so sweet to his wife/my little girl that I decided to spare him. “Here, squeeze my hand,” he told her.

She looked up at him, pain clouding her eyes. “I don’t want to squeeze your hand.”

“But I don’t care if you hurt me,” he insisted as if he wanted to feel some of her pain to make it right.

Gritting her teeth, she answered, “But hurting you isn’t going to make me feel better.”

She didn’t say, “If it would help me, I’d kick your butt.” But it was pretty much implied.

For certain, I would have gladly taken the pain on if I could have saved her. But darn it, it doesn’t work that way. This was her time, her pain, her baby. But not for one minute did it mean she wasn’t still my little girl and for every pain she felt, my stomach knotted.

I stood by her side, brushing a hand over her brow, saying consoling words to comfort her, and spooning ice chips into her mouth. Once during a difficult contraction, her face pinched in pain, her eyes went wet with tears and she reared back her head and yelled out, “chunky, monkey butt!”

I swear that’s what she said. I waited for the pain to ease and then asked, “Baby, did you really just scream ‘chunky monkey butt’?”

“She doesn’t like to say bad words,” my son-in-law told the nurse who stood by monitoring her.

“I’m sorry,” I told my daughter, but I’m going to have to use that one in a book.” We all laughed. But I was serious, so you can guys can watch out for the words: chunky monkey butt to appear.

A good fifteen minutes later, things got serious. She reared back her head, and screamed, “Shit!”

Hmm…I guess chunky monkey butt, only covered mild contractions.

That’s when she got the epidural. Who ever invented those things needs a big award. My sweet daughter stretched back on the bed, got a goofy smile on her face and said, “Wow, this is great. I haven’t felt this good in nine months. It’s like two…no make that three . . . four margaritas.”

I really tried to get the doctor to give me one, but no cigar.

My hubby and my son, waiting in the family room, popped their head in every few minutes to wish her well. All the laughing stopped when a few hours later, doctor and nurse came scrambling into the room. I knew from their body language that something was wrong.

“Lay on your side,” they told my daughter.

“What’s wrong?” we all asked in unison and the seriousness in their eyes had my heart doing laps around my chest.

Air caught in my throat and fear swelled in my lungs as I waited for them to answer.

“Your baby’s heartbeat’s dropping,” the doctor explained. “I think the cord is around the neck. I’m thinking we’re going to have to do a C-section.”

My normally skittish daughter, the kind who would worry herself sick over getting blood drawn, proved to me right then that she was indeed a mother. She looked up at her husband, at me, and in the calmest of voices said. “I’m not afraid of surgery.” Then she looked the doctor in the eyes and said, “Take her now. Don’t wait. Get her out now. Please don’t wait. Don’t let anything happen to my baby.”

The doctor insisted they wait. My daughter, a smidgen away from panicking, kept staring at the monitor, tears glistening in her eyes; her husband, who never let go of her hand, kept murmuring words of encouragement. I stood close and prayed that whatever happened, my little girl and her little girl would be okay. I wanted so badly to cry, but I knew if any sign of weakness from me, and my daughter’s panic would increase three-fold. In a few minutes, all our prayers were answered when the heart beat went back to normal.

Hours passed. Finally, it was time. I hadn’t planned on being in the room when the baby was born, but the nurse gave me a job. Grab her leg. Her hubby had the other leg. There was counting, breath holding and a lot of pushing.

We’ve all heard it said that nothing is more beautiful than child birth. But let me correct that. It was amazing. It was a miracle. I’ve never seen anything so soul-shaking--so breathtaking. But it wasn’t beautiful. Nope.

My sweet adorable little girl who, thanks to her husband and me, had her legs held up beside her ears turned a bright purple with every intense push. Pushes in which her breath was held at counts of ten. There might have been a few more “chucky monkey butts,” screamed out. And I’ll admit it, I might even have been the one screaming it. You see, when she pushed, I pushed. When she held her breath, I held my breath. I’m lucky I didn’t mess my pants.

And then it happened, my granddaughter, Lily Dale, came into the world all covered in mush, drawing in her first breath, and letting everyone on the second floor of the hospital know that she was a force to be reckoned with. She weighed in at six pounds and six ounces, is 18 1/2 inches tall and has a set of lungs that don’t quit. She is perfect. My daughter is perfect. Life is amazing.

But the whole birth made me certain of one thing. You know how we all ooh and ahh over perfect heroes. Well, ladies we have it wrong. Women are indeed the superior gender. I mean, try to talk a man into opening up his body and pushing out another human being. Not happening, I tell you—especially if “said” entrance happened down by Uncle Jimmy and his boys.

So that’s the news at the Craig house.

Any birthing stories to share? Come on. Don’t be shy. I’d love to hear them.

Oh, I’m also giving you guys the heads up. Next week, I’m going to be giving away an ARC of Gotcha. That’s right you can get your hands on an early copy, with a few typos, of my June release. Also, next week Barbara Vey is celebrating her blog anniversary at: http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288.html and on Tuesday she’ll be giving away a copy of Gotcha! So plan to comment next Tuesday both here at Killer Fiction and Barbara’s Vey’s blog for a chance to win. And . . . on Thursday and Friday of next week Barbara Vey will be giving away a copy of The Everything Guide To Writing a Romance Novel.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, March 02, 2009

Stupid Stereotypes

We've all run into stereotyping. I'm a tall blonde with large boobs, so we don't even want to discuss all the things I've run into as we'd explode the blog. But lately I've run into a form of stereotyping that I find most annoying - it's a "woman" thing. Now, one would think since women have done every job in this country except President or VP that men would have figured out that there's little we can't do if we set our mind to it, but that is simply not the case with some things.

Right now I am doing some home improvement. I'm hanging crown molding in my living room, dining, office, and kitchen/breakfast nook areas. As well, I'm installing some chair rail and some picture frame molding in key locations. Now, I want to say two things up front:

1. I've never hung any form of molding before now and never actually paid attention to it being installed - but I have the right tools and can read.
2. My dad is an engineer and most things in my family were done by family, so it was not uncommon for me to be assisting with framing a building or roofing a house growing up. So I know how to use tools, I simply never got into "finish work."

So I figure I'm as qualified (or more so) than most to do my own trim work, and I head down to Home Depot to select my molding. Now, understand that if you're a woman in HD and standing in lawn and garden, or wallpaper, or lighting, and need some help, you might as well pack a lunch. And don't even go in there to have a key made - you'd probably spend less time changing the entire lock.

But if you're a woman standing in the lumber section, you're practically molested before you can get out of the store.

So I was there last week choosing molding and no less than five workers came by to ask if they could help me. I declined all of their offers and they didn't look convinced but went away. I was pulling the long molding down from the racks, placing it on the floor and looking for any imperfections or twists in the wood. Now, seeing me do this, one might "think" I knew what I was doing, but oh no, the Fabulous Five were just gearing up for round two.

When I started to cut wood, I thought they might have a coronary.

Now, mind you, it's not like they put out the good equipment for the customers. Can you imagine the liability of turning just anyone loose with a table saw? So when I say I'm cutting wood, I mean with a hack saw...by hand. I had about three pieces out of the thirteen I needed done when the last of the Fab Five came by to ask if I needed help. I finally gave up, and since this guy was old, I didn't want to give him a heart attack by refusing again. Here's how that conversation went:

Him (picking up one molding from floor): Do you know how much you need of this one?
Me: (pulling out a diagram of my rooms on graph paper): Yes, 11 feet, but I want it cut from the far end because the near end is bowed.
Him: (nods and puts wood on table - reaches for cheap HD tape measure that they leave at the table and frowns when tape measure won't extend - I watch out of the corner of my eye) I need to run get a better tape measure. This one's had it.
Me: (I pull my truly excellent tape measure off the band of my yoga pants) I brought my own. Use this one.
Him: (takes tape measure and raises his eyebrows before beginning to measure and cut) So what are you working on?
Me: I'm doing all the trim work in my house.
Him: (still skeptical, despite the truly excellent tape measure) How you planning on cutting this - miter box? (and he's meaning the manual type miter box - not a power saw)
Me: (shaking my head) God no! I have a laser cut compound miter box saw, a TrueAngle protractor, finish nailer (nail gun for those that don't know tools), and a portable air compressor.
Him: (eyebrows go into hairline - which is receding) You do contract work?
Me: (trying not to grin) No. I'm a romance author.
Him: (has no idea what to say at this point so cuts wood instead)

So my next project is building built-in cabinets and bookshelves for my office. I'm taking a cabinet-making class this coming weekend. What do you think is going to happen when I go to HD selecting the lumber for my cabinet panels? I shudder to think. Heck there might even be a call to the police or a straight-jacket involved.

But at least now I know...the next time I need a key made, I'm going to stand around the lumber aisle.

So what about you - ever run into stereotyping that you got to set straight?

Deadly (the Toolwoman) DeLeon