Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TIWITO (Things I Wish I'd Thought Of)

The Internet - Wish I'd thought of that. What's more fun than spending an entire day looking for naked pictures of Johnny Depp online (when you're supposed to be writing your book)? FINDING naked pictures of Johnny Depp online. BTW - if you find any, please let me know.

Threatening Your Customers - Wish I'd thought of that. Why, my troop's girl scout cookie sales would triple if I just showed up to sell them holding oily rags and accelerant and wiggling my eyebrows. Sopranos be damned. Nothing is creepier than dangerous little girls. Look at The Ring, the twins in The Shining, The Bad Seed...I'm right and you know it. Maybe I could get permission to print this on t-shirts...

Zombies - I wish I'd thought of that. They're enjoying a resurge lately, what with Jane Austen incorporating them into her books, YA zombie fic, and the new movie Zombieland. I wish I'd known the potential sexiness of decaying flesh with limbs falling off randomly. Leprosy is still out but zombie romance is here to stay.

What is it you wish YOU had thought of???

The Assassin

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do Real Men Shop for Hallmark Cards?

Winner, Winner & Winners!

Okay, since I had such a great response, pulling just one winner was hard. But . . . because I only have one ARC to spare at this time, I decided to pick one winner of the ARC and then offer 5 second place winners which can choose from my past releases.

The BIG WINNER—not in pant size—is: PAM.

The four second places winners are: Mary Ann Christian, Liz Kreger, Lois, Sabine G, and Beth Watson.

Please contact me at christie (at) christie-craig (dot) com. Second places winners email me which book you would like to receive.

And just for your FYI, I will be giving away three “early copies” ( in November) of Divorced, Desperate and Deceived to three people who belong to my newsletter group. So pop over to my website( and join my newsletter group for a chance to win.

P.S. I only send out a newsletters when a book is about to be released.

Congrats and thank you everyone who posted. It was fun hearing about your thoughts on men and cards


I just got my ARCs, advanced reader copies, of my November 24th release of Divorced, Desperate and Deceived and today one lucky commenter will win a copy. So don’t forget to post a comment!

Do Real Men Shop for Hallmark Cards? You noticed I wrote, “shop for” and not buy, right? Why? Because honestly, I’ve gotten some heart-tugging, couldn’t-be-more-perfect Hallmark cards from my hubby. So I know he’s capable of buying them, I’m just questioning if he really shopped for them.

Or did he walk into the store, go to the cheaper card section, spot the one that had the least amount of cards left in the little slot, meaning it had to contain the best sentimental mush that could fit more people’s lives, and he slapped down his two bucks. (Yeah, he’s frugal on cards.) Nevertheless, the man got lucky and the card’s message was just sentimental enough that I was convinced that he stood for hours in front of the card stand, shopping like a woman, looking for the card that said just the right thing.

You may be wondering what brought on my sudden doubt. Yup, hubby messed up again. Last week was my son-in-law’s birthday. Now, like all women, I had to figure out what we were going to get this much loved new family member. And I’ll be honest with you, I cheat on whole “surprise” kind of gifts. You see, my daughter and son-in-law are new parents and new home-owners and money’s tight for them. So instead of buying him a complete surprise gift, I pick up the phone and talk to my daughter and ask. “What does he want?”

I mean, when times are tough you always have things you really want and getting some weird shirt that your mother-in-law bought you that you can’t take back because it might hurt her feelings is just not right. So I’ve learned to ask.

I was told he wanted a gift certificate to a kayak place. Now, I got the gift certificate, but not wanting to just give a piece of paper, I went out and bought a nice bottle of red wine, which I know he likes, two different kinds of chocolate, which I know he likes, a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, which I know he likes, and a seventy-six pack of diapers. Hey, I think he really liked them, too, because we all know how expensive it can get buying diapers. But it was funny seeing his face when he opened them.

Needless to say, as my hubby and I left the store with all the gifts, I realized I hadn’t picked up a card. So, I turned to hubby and said, “When you pick up the French bread tomorrow, you can grab a card.”

You’d have thought I’d just asked him to rip off one of his boys and feed to it to a stray cat. “Oh, hell no! I’m not shopping for a card.” We argued a bit, but he was adamant and informed me, “I would rather give him a five dollar bill than have to buy a card.” Knowing how hard it is for my frugal hubby to let go of his five dollar bills, I said, “Fine. Don’t buy the card, but if you come home tomorrow without one, I’ll just put your five dollar bill in an envelope and give it to him.”

I was slightly shocked when the next morning, hubby returned from the store with French bread and whipped out the five dollar bill. So I did just what I said, I put the five dollar bill in an envelope and before my son-in-law opened it, I explained my hubby’s male abhorrence to shopping for cards. Much to my dismay, instead of being insulted that his father-in-law thought so little of him, he made him promise to always be the one shopping for his birthday card. I was tempted to take back my diapers.

What is it with men? Where is their sentimental spirit? Do they have none? Is showing a little love in the way of words so hard? I’ll admit I was concerned, but then hubby managed to get himself of the dog house.

Yesterday, hubby and I were sitting at the car dealership waiting for them to bring around my car that had needed a few things repaired. Hubby was talking about some guy at work, complaining about his wife and then he stopped mid-sentence and said, “You know, I seldom have to complain about you.”
My first thought was . . . Seldom?
He studied me for a minute and said, “Have I told you I love you lately? Sometimes I think I take you for granted.”

My heart did one of those big sighs. It wasn’t fancy words, or poetry. It didn’t cost him a buck ninety-nine; it wasn’t five dollars in an envelope and didn’t require he risk his masculinity by shopping for the right words, he didn't lose a testicle in the process, but I knew right then, this was better than a Hallmark card.

Men, they really may be from Mars, ladies, but sometimes, every blue moon, just when we are about to give up on them, they do manage to say or do the right thing at the craziest of moments.

So tell me, does your man shop for Hallmark cards? What has he said or done lately that made your heart sigh? How does he say I love you, without using those fancy words? Is it taking out the trash? Filling your car with gas? And have you told him you love him lately? Go ahead and try it, if nothing else, it may make them wonder what you’re up to.

Remember, one lucky commenter is going to win an early copy of my book, Divorced, Desperate and Deceived. Comment away.

Crime Scene Christie

Monday, September 28, 2009

MISCHIEF is here!!!!

Tomorrow's the official release day, but copies of MISCHIEF are springing up in bookstores all over the country. And how can you not love this cover?!?! Dorchester cover artists are the absolute best!

Mischief is Sabine's story. If you love complicated mystery with many twists and turns, then MISCHIEF is for you. Here's the back cover-copy:

Everyone in Mudbug, Louisiana, knows that when Helena Henry shows up, no good will come of it. Especially now that Helena is dead. And more meddlesome than ever.

Sabine LeVeche needs to locate a blood relative fast - her life depends on it. Her only ally is the smart-mouthed ghost of Helena Henry. Until Beau Villeneuve agrees to take the case. The super-sexy PI is a master at finding missing persons - and all the spots that make Sabine weak in the knees. But as they start to uncover the truth about the past, it becomes clear that someone out there wants to bury Sabine along with all her parents' secrets. And she realizes what they say is true: family really can be the death of you.

The final Ghost-in-Law book, SHOWDOWN IN MUDBUG, is coming July 2010! And I'm off to work on it now. Have a great week, everyone!

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Comedy: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Please join me in welcoming the very cool, very funny, very fabulous Lucy Woodhull to our humble blog. Take it away, Lucy...

I feel terribly humbled to be blogging on behalf of Gemma today, like a rookie who is batting in the majors for the first time! If I can get through the post without being whalloped in the head by a fast ball, so much the better. And so endeth the baseball metaphors.

When I said to myself, "Self, whatsoever shall I blog about?" And Self replied, "Verily, Lucy, write what thou knowest." (Apparently when I speak to myself it sounds like Peter O'Toole.) I am a comical girl, not a tragical one, so I shall expound upon a subject near and dear to my heart: the funny, as it relates to writing. A lot of us find humor innately, but I think it's incredibly helpful to study why something works the way it does. Because I am a nerd.

I come from an acting background. The first time I was taught, formally, about humor was in a comedy-specific acting class. That was when I learned one of the basics of humor: incongruity.

Incongruous: adjective
1. out of keeping or place; inappropriate; unbecoming: an incongruous effect; incongruous behavior.
2. inconsistent: actions that were incongruous with their professed principles.

Basically: behavior that is unexpected, opposite, inconsistent.

Here is a perfect representation of incongruous humor - a still from Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles:

Our hero Bart the Sheriff rides through the sage brush in this Western movie parody, the music swelling in the background to thrilling effect! Then, he passes Count Basie and his orchestra… who are actually sitting in the desert, playing his soundtrack live. Classic and silly and perfect. That is incongruous humor. Brooks is a pro at it; so is Monty Python.

How can you apply this to your writing to make it new and fresh? By defying expectations. Say your hero is desperately trying to impress his beautiful, proper, demure paramour. He wines her, he dines her, he blows an entire paycheck attempting to impress her because she is the hoitest toit in town. During dinner, through which the hero sweats buckets, she accidentally dribbles salad dressing on her thousand dollar silk dress... and proceeds to cuss like a drunken sailor, scream banshee-style at the wait staff, and destroy the restaurant’s prized collection of risqué antique bar glass. Incongruous, and, potentially, awesome. It's all about setting up an expectation then destroying it utterly.

In my comedy class, one of our assignments was to create a Commedia Del Arte character. I became Yoplait, a silly French maid who would continually get English words wrong in a ludicrous accent. My improvised scene might go something like this:

Il Capitano: Yoplait, silly girl! Where is my butler?
Yoplait: Oh, yez, Le Capitain! He eez in your... what is zee word? He eez in your wife! No, zat's not eet. He eez in your woom! No, I make miztake... he eez een your wife's woom! Yez!

1) First, Yoplait tells the captain the butler is in his wife. Wink wink.

2) Then she tells him the butler is in his "room" (it sounds like "womb" with the terrible accent) but the captain interprets it as his own bedroom. It sounds as if Yoplait has corrected herself and she never meant anything dirty in the first place.
3) Then she tells him, no, his butler really IS in his wife's womb, except this time it's a double entendre, meaning a) his wife's bedroom and b) her womb.

This is another of my favorite tricks - the threes. 1,2 are the setup - 3 is the punch line. But basically it's incongruity rearing its silly head - building an scenario then turning the tables.

I do this 1, 2, 3 a lot - here's an example from my rom-com sci-fi novella* Ragnar and Juliet:

“The more time that passed, the lower Juliet’s stomach dropped into her dirty feet. To know that, at midnight, she would no longer be in control of her own mind was the most horrifying thing that had ever befallen her, and that included battles with ex-boyfriends, battles with evil aliens, and the last season of Battle of the Network Stars.”

1 is bad, 2 is worse, 3 is a catastrophically bad show full of reality TV stars! A fate worse than death, that.

*I especially enjoy sci-fi for comedy. From Star Trek to comic books it has a wonderful history of poking fun at itself.

Sometimes you must break the rules to get the comedy done. For example, the rule that you're never allowed to repeat words. If I substituted "fights" and "conflicts" for two of the three uses of the word "battles" above, the joke is ruined.

Another thing to consider in a rom-com: running themes/ jokes. You can establish a theme for laughs just as you can establish one for emotion or any of the other great building blocks of romance writing. And every time you wield it, your reader will not only get a chuckle, but feel happy that they "got it."

The pinnacle of running joke-dom was the late, lamented (but soon to be a movie!) TV show Arrested Development. If you want a Comedy 101 class, please rent these DVDs. One of the best was the "I've made a huge mistake" joke, wielded by just about every character at the perfect time when they realized they have contributed to their own downfall. For example:

Steve Holt: I've made a huge mistake.
Gob: I know the feeling. I had you. I'm your father, Steve Holt. I can't hide from it any more.
Steve Holt: I won't forget this... Dad.
Gob: [swallows roofie] I will. I will.

One of the best parts of this joke was that we, as the audience, know way before the character that they are doomed (so to speak). The validation of the character coming to realize what we already understood is very satisfying. A comedy version of the Ah-HA! moment.

Elizabeth Peters does the running joke to wonderful effect in her Amelia Peabody books: “Another shirt ruined!” cries Amelia every time her husband’s shirt is destroyed by an errant mummy or an evil Egyptologist. Bad enough Emerson almost gets killed – but his wardrobe suffers most grievously, too.

Now, lest you think that comedy is a terrible thing only good for witty banter and writers who can’t “write serious”… well, that’s poppycock! Comedy is a fantastic way to make social commentary without being heavy handed. I used Blazing Saddles as an example above – the movie, which is very silly, is about the terrible plague of racism.

In my parody Love’s Bountiful Bulge (in edits now, co-written with Fellatia Langley) we use comedy a lot to play up social ills, such as equality…

(A male character says) “Her virginity, and therefore her entire worth as a person, is in peril! Well, I mean if women were people, which they’re not, but you know what I mean.”

Obviously we mean “sexism is totes bad, yo”, but there are better, more fun ways to say it.

Even when you’re not going for a belly laugh, turning the tables on the reader makes for a fun and lively read. Comedy is your friend in more ways than one!

What are your tricks for bringing the LULZ?

~Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull has a background as an actress and producer as well as writer. She loves to laugh and to make others laugh, especially at her own expense. Red lipstick and vintage clothing are amongst her favorite things, as well as a shameful enjoyment of the teenage angst show Gossip Girl. Her favorite non-shameful authors include Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry and Alexander McCall Smith. In her spare time Lucy enjoys out-punning her friends and inspiring her wonderful husband to call her “weird”. She owns a cat. A very fat, rather bitchy, cat.

She is finishing edits, together with her writing partner Fellatia Langley, on her first complete novel, a romance parody called Love’s Bountiful Bulge. Recently she completed a sci-fi rom com novella, Ragnar and Juliet, which she would love to sell you. Learn more at or her blog,

Friday, September 25, 2009

In a Universe Far, Far Away

Since I'm waiting for little mini-me to make his appearance any day now, I've asked one of my good friends and fellow authors to come blog in my place today. (Trust me, at this point all I have to say is, "Get him out, get him out, get him out!" I'm so not fun.) Melissa Blue writes super cool, super snarky contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press. And, if you haven't yet, totally check out her website - it's one of the cutest I've ever seen. Love the colors! Okay, take it away, Melissa...

I was once a Romantic Suspense author. I researched serial killers. I logged in hours, I mean hours of CSI and Cold Case to create not only a smart killer, but one that would inevitably get caught. The only problem... I couldn't solve the murder even knowing who the killer was.

Since this novel will ever see the light of day, I feel safe in telling you the ending. Though I should give you examples of what would make a good ending to a romantic suspense novel:

1.The killer is defeated by his/her own weakness. Let's say the killer loves animals. While a dead body is in the back of the trunk he/she pulls over to rescue an animal. A cop pulls up, smells something funny and voila, the killer is caught.

2.The killer is defeated by a innocuous mistake, because they are desperate to feed their need for killing. Let's say a special anniversary is coming up for the killer. Their first kill. The first time their mother beat them with a brush? What? You didn't know? All serial killers were abused by their mother? They have to kill to silence the voices. In a rage or eager to fulfill the urge, they kill someone and forget to be careful. The hero and heroine pick up on this mistake and catch the killer.

3.The all-time favorite of romantic suspense novels-- No one catches the killer. The killer seeks out the hero and/or heroine and they defeat him/her by getting the cops there to catch him/her or killing them in self-defense.

Since I know the make-up of a romantic suspense, how did I end my own?

The killer knows the hero, a cop, is hot on his tail; the killer decides to confront the heroine. He will make her pay. He enters her house. She puts up a brave front, while thinking of how much she loves the hero. How she wishes she would have told him how much she loved him while death is staring her in the face. And then she gets an idea that will defeat the serial killer. A man who has murdered six women and gotten away with it. A man who is now pointing a gun at her heart to get rid of his pesky problem.

The heroine throws a coffee mug at him and knocks him out cold.

Yes, you read that right. My heroine defeats a master-mind serial killer with a coffee mug to the head. Thus the beginning and the end of my romantic-suspense novelist career. I could quote the Thomas Edison quote here, something about finding 2,000 ways a light bulb didn't work to find the one right way. Or I could just say my short-lived career writing heart-thumping, a killer is on the loose-fiction was not for me.

I think I'll settle on this quote. It makes as much since to this post as defeating a serial killer with a coffee cup: "It's a sad day when you find out that it's not accident or fortune but just yourself that kept things from you." ~ Lillian Hellman

p.s. I discovered contemporary romance and succeeded.

What have you failed horribly at? Today is the day for confessions. Do so in the comments.

~Melissa Blue and I'm out~

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lovin' it in Translation!

I needed a pick-me-up this week. First off, my two day garage roofing project took twice that long and it now looks like a tiny lofted home with a monster roof and peaks that need to be painted and primed that I can't (and won't) attempt to paint myself. Then I end up with three nails from said roofing project in the Jimmy's tire. And Tuesday my daughter calls me at work to report the out-of-control pear tree with heavy, inedible fruit has split down the middle of the trunk due to the weight of the tasteless pears and one-third of it has toppled over. The good news? It missed my new garage roof by mere inches. The bad news? I have to hire a tree service to take the rest of the tree down.

As I said, I could use a little something to brighten my week. And I got it.

A few days ago I received copies of my first German translation sale for my paranormal rom-com, FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS!

I must admit it was somewhat weird seeing my name on the cover with all the German words. And on the back cover copy, the only words I recognized were 'Doris Day' and 'Rock Hudson'. Hehe.

Below is a reminder of how the book was packaged here in the states.

A wee bit different, huh? So, whatdya think? Like or no like?
I really love this book and I'm just thrilled readers in Germany and points beyond will have an opportunity to hopefully enjoy it.
Coming next week: photos of the back yard/garage debacle...
Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shhhh...The Trees Are Watching...

Two weekends ago, I followed up my Girl Scout camping trip with Webelos in the Woods. I was pre-menstral (i.e., "angry"), sleeping in a tent, and cooking over a hot fire while male leaders (men who still play dress up and wish they were still boy scouts - a very creepy thing) patted me on the head and made condescending comments about women.

You can probably see where this is going, can't you?

The boys were good. Nobody broke a finger or got their first period, which made this trip a bit more relaxing than the previous trip. Instead of baskets of potpourri and posters, the boys brought Bakugan um, thingys - which was equally as annoying.

No, this trip was decidedly different.

You've all heard how girls are better communicators than boys. This is absolutely true. Girls would never say the things our Webelos said to me.

"Mrs. Langtry...what are you, 1,000 pounds?"

"Mrs. Langtry, you are really old and you're not prouncing "Bakugan" right."

Yes, they really said those things. No, miraculously enough, I didn't kill anyone. Not even once. Okay, I thought about it. But that's not a it? Seriously, you'd let me know...right?

It was fun watching boys scream like toddlers when they saw snakes and spiders. I had a great time teaching Jack how to sew up a leather wallet. And the banana boats...sigh...I LOVE banana boats...bananas, chocolate chips and marshmallows - WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE???

But I think my favorite part was when we packed up and came home. I was exhausted, glazed in a fog of bugspray and sweat, and I had beer at home. Cold beer.

That and this picture of the tree with eyeballs. I'll always have that photo.

The Assassin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who Does What at the Craig House Part 2

Okay, I told you guys that I was going to do more job allocations this week. Maybe you have all had a chance to think about some of your own job titles.


This is a rather new job in the Craig household. It was just brought to my attention last week. I’m in my office, probably either writing a blog or a novel, and I hear hubby yell out. “Baby, you gotta come see this!” Although, that is one of his favorite “come on” lines, this wasn’t about sex. I met him in the kitchen and he held out his arm for my inspection. Now, it’s a nice arm, but I’m not overly impressed until I see the little pea-size fuzz ball moving up his forearm.

I lean in to check out the moving fuzz ball and hubby asks, “What is it?”

I look up at him and then down at the traveling wooly insect and I say, “I don’t know, but it appears to have a tiny stinger coming out of its little fuzzy butt and if I was you, I’d get it off now.”

Hubby, thinking he’s just discovered some new species, says, “But it’s so cute.”

A second later, it stopped being so cute, when the “Fuzzy SOB” stung him with the stinger that I had already pointed out. Although, I will admit I was not able to identify the bug, I was smart enough to identify a stinger, and I had a good laugh, too. Hubby had a nice little welt on his arm, but lived “not” to tell about it. Because telling about things, is definitely my job.


Now, while I can get nose to nose with most insects, I have a rather negative attitude of two insect type creatures. For good reason, of course. I’m allergic to bees and spiders. Bees make swell up like a balloon, including the swelling of airways, and it makes breathing kind of difficult. And hey, breathing is important.

Spiders have an even more profound and faster effect on me. They don’t even have to bite me, all I have to do is see one and bam! I’m pissing in my pants from fear. It’s something about those eight legs.

So when the sound of buzzing arrives, hubby takes over in all “shooing” duties. When a spider arrives, hubby becomes my super hero saving his woman from having to change her pants.


Now, what do snakes not have? Legs. Honey, I’ll take anything that slithers on its belly over something that creeps along on eight legs any day of the week. Now, I’m not saying I like them, but I’m just saying that my pants don’t need changing when I see one. And if one shows up inside, which they do two or three times a year, I can take over the role of snake catcher. If Junior, who holds the official “human” Snake Catcher title, isn’t around, or one of the “feline” snake catchers hasn’t already done the job, I can step up to the plate.

Now, Junior has such a reputation that he even gets calls from neighbors to come remove the slithering creatures from their homes. They generally pay him $10 for the job. I know most of you think it’s a bargain, too.

Just last week, I hear some ruckus going on in the kitchen. Considering I’m alone in the house, with the exception of the felines, I went to see what had my cats bumping into things.

Right away, I see Old Henry, prancing around the kitchen with a three foot Ribbon snake dangling from his mouth, both sides wiggling and one side trying to bite him. Old Henry sees me and comes over to show me his latest toy. Now I start doing the high step dance, trying to prevent the snake from biting me. Hey, at least my pants are still dry.

Finally the cat drops the snake, and I herd all four cats out of the room, and get my tools: the broom and the dustpan. The poor snake, relieved to no longer be acting as the cat’s play toy, practically climb on top of the dustpan. I let him go in the back yard where I swear he blew snake kisses at me as he slithered away.


Now, I seriously don’t know why I’ve been given this job. Since when is it my job to find everything they lose? “Mom, have you seen my shoes?”

My answer, “The last time I wore them was . . . wait, I haven’t ever wore them!”

“Hey, hon’ have you seen my keys?”

“The last time I used them . . oh, wait, I haven’t used them.”

“Hey, hon’ have you seen my sunglasses.”

“Well, the last time I wore them was . . . wait, are they not on top of your head?”

It’s not that I’m really good at this, it’s that they are that bad at it.


What is it about having breasts that makes men think you have a medical license? I never, not once, considered working in the health care field. I don’t like blood. I don’t even like being around sick people. Sure, I admit I slapped a few band aids on boo-boos when the kids were small, (they were cute then) but does that have to mark me for life? Not too long ago I found my nineteen-year-old son in my bed hacking and with a fever and he says something like, “Can you rub my head? And get me some soup?”

I’m like, “Do NOT cough on my pillow and get your fever-laden butt out of my bed!” I did bring him some soup, in his bed.

Now, hubby is just as bad. Several years ago, he got a really bad staph infection in his knee. We’re talking hospitalized, and an IV tube for antibiotics put straight into his heart to prevent the infection from spreading to his ticker. After three days in the hospital, (Which by the way my husband detests) the doctor says, “I can let you go home if you have someone we can train to flush out your IV tube two times a day and then you can come to the hospital to get your antibiotics every evening.

Now, while I’m a sitting there wondering who we could get to train to flush out hubby’s IV, he volunteers moi. Did I tell you that it went to his heart? Did I tell you I had to, like, wear rubber gloves after scrubbing myself down with anti-germ soap? I nearly passed out every time I had to flush out said tube.

The kicker was when after doing this for four days, hubby looks up at me and asks, “Do you enjoy doing this?”

Enjoy it? Was he freaking nuts? Okay, sure I had been hiding my repulsion (much like I hid my repulsion of delivering chickens soup to my son when he had the flu.) And while flushing out my hubby’s heart tube, I had managed not to pass out from fear that I might do something wrong and kill the man, but where in his messed up mind did he think I enjoyed it.

Oh, but I pulled my big girl panties up, did the right thing, smiled and said, “I’d do anything for you.”

“Really?” he asked. “That’s sweet, but I don’t think I could do this for you!”

I almost kicked him in his bad knee.

Yup. But you see I have breasts, so that just means all nurse-related issues are my job.

Okay, there you have it. A few more chore/assignments. So do share a bit. What chores to you really hate? What chores do you like?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Morning Rush

I have a doctor's appointment this morning and have to fly out the door, so this will be a short post.

First off - The chicken catcher won America's Got Talent! I was sorta happy to see it happen. He seems like a genuinely good guy, and I honestly don't know that he'll make it in the industry. But winning the prize money and getting some endorsements will probably set him for life, so I'm glad. The other contestants got plenty of exposure and I have no doubt they'll move on to great careers.

HOUSE starts again tonight!!!!!! For all you HOUSE fans, he's back tonight, and I for one can't wait. This is what happens when you get caught up with Dexter and have nothing to watch.

So You Think You Can Dance is back in full swing, too! I love that show. I think it's because I'm fascinated by things I can't do - hence my also loving Hell's Kitchen.

We are having mega-rain here in Dallas lately. 89 today but a front comes in tonight and puts us in the 70's. Whoohoo! I'm tired of the heat. How's everyone else's weather?

Deadly (Rushing) DeLeon

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What memory?

Yes, it’s true, I totally forgot to blog yesterday. I suck. But, in my defense, somehow pregnancy hormones have made me forget just about everything. Seriously – everything. I’ve become that lady who stands there with her keys in her hand looking all over the house for her keys.

And it’s even worse when it comes to writing. My current manuscript is full of blank lines where I’ve totally forgotten characters’ names, where they live, the kind of car they’re driving. I know I should write this stuff down to keep it all straight… but I keep forgetting to do that. Yesterday I was right in the middle of a scene when I totally forgot what the point of the scene was. I know I had one. And it might even have been good. But it’s gone now. Oh, and remembering who-done-it? Forget about it. I think it changes from chapter to chapter. Right along with motive.
Yep, this book is going to be a really fun one to edit.

So, if anyone has any good memory tricks, I’m all ears!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Tis the Season: A New Fall TV Lineup--or What the heck do I DVR?

The 2009 Fall TV Season is upon us. I've been trying to figure out my 'can't miss' shows so I can get them programmed into my DVR. This year I will have to be more discriminating about my viewing choices. I just don't have all that much time to watch TV. I won't tell you how long it's been since I went to a movie theater to watch a flick and how far behind I am in renting or watching recent DVD releases at the Video store. For a lover of movies, the truth is rather embarrassing.

Anyway, I checked out the new fall TV lineup--along with the returning series offerings--and it may not be as difficult to select programs to record and watch later as I suspected. First off, there are too-too many reality TV shows in the lineup. We have, to name a few, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, The Biggest Loser, Survivor Samoa, Supernanny, America's Next Top Model, The Amazing Race, and Cops. Since I'm not a huge fan of Reality TV, I'll probably pass on DVRing any of these shows and try to catch Amazing Race when I can.

CBS's Tuesday lineup looks promising with the stellar NCIS followed by a new knockoff, NCIS:Los Angeles and The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth which is worth checking out.

I will, of course be setting my DVR to include Criminal Minds, a long-time favorite of mine, and I'll give Grey's Anatomy a try even though the Izzy/Dead Denny story line was rather creepy.

Other favorites include 48 Hours Mystery, Dateline NBC, and all three of the Law and Order series. Since I will be in deep writing mode this fall and winter, I've had to be brutal about my choices. No more House, Numbers, or Cold Case. Sigh.
So, what shows--new or returning--are you looking forward to sitting down with a hot beverage and snack and watching this fall and winter? What are your 'can't miss' shows? Anything new you've heard about you think we all might enjoy taking a look at? Let us know.
~Bullet Hole~
P.S. Hope your household is on the mend soon, Les!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Assassin Is Out of The Office Today...

Sorry Guys! Just a quick note to say I've got a sick kid and no time. If it's Swine Flu, she must've gotten it from the evil guinea pigs of doom.

I promise a really great blog next week and a contest!

The Assassin

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Does What At The Craig House

Like any well-run operation, be it a Fortune 500 company, or in this case, your above-average screwed-up household, job delegation is required to keep things running in an orderly, or seemingly orderly, fashion. Everyone has to pull their own weight, do their chores; slackers are not tolerated.

Now, before you read on, I’m gonna warn ya’ that after discovering how helpful Mr. Craig is around the house, many of you are going to want to steal him. And frankly, I’m not going to deny it, he’s a gym. But before you make any rash decisions about claiming him for yourself, I’d like to remind you of the pothole, the plumbing, the Burger King during labor, and the molested by an elephant while hubby laughed his ass off blogs. My point is, with all his good qualities, he’s not without his faults.

Vile Substance Remover:

There was a time hubby tried to initiate the rule of, the person who sees it first, cleans it first. And by “it” I mean anything vile. However, some of you have read my book, Weddings Can Be Murder, which was a romance between a nervous puker and a sympathetic puker. You know how they say we write what we know. Well, I’m not either of those, but I have a terrible gag reflex. I come by it naturally. My daddy would lose his lunch if someone mixed up their mashed potatoes with their peas at the dinner table. Like my dad, the first glimpse of any vile substance, and double that if vile substance has an odor, my gag reflex kicks in.

My gag-impaired issue offers me instant reprieve from cleaning any vile substances. This includes: kitty boxes, hairball removal, and stomach flu clean up. Even cleaning the refrigerator, if said Tupperware bowl has taken up residence longer than it should have behind the milk jug. Junior, unfortunately, took after his mama and grandfather, and is gag-handicapped. Therefore, all vile substance removal is delegated to hubby. It’s not a job he’s particularly happy with, but one he takes upon himself with pride and a bottle of Lysol.


I’ve never been territorial about my kitchen. If you wanna cook, you got my blessings. My problem exists when hubby and junior expect moi to eat the half-brained experimental thing they call dinner. Remember my gag reflex issue, guys?

Now, hubby, being a modern man and not afraid to let his feminine side come out to play, has even created a few recipes. One that he’s particularly proud of is his, Ketchuped Chicken. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing his recipe. It’s rather simple. It’s ingredients include: Oil—lots of oil, chicken—cut up in various sizes to assure some will burn and some will remain raw, and ketchup—lots of ketchup. Preparing it is also fairly simply, heat lots of oil, toss in unevenly chopped chicken. When some pieces have burned sufficiently, while making sure some are still raw, add ketchup—lots of ketchup. The oil and ketchup sort of globs together to create an oily paste and hides all the evidence of the raw meat. Yum. (Remember my gag reflex?)

So needless to say, with exception to mama’s-on-a-deadline-cook-for-yourself nights, moi does most of the cooking.

Kitchen Cleaner:

Now, I’ll have to admit, this is where hubby’s talent really shines—well, right behind his vile substance removing skills. Mama cooks, daddy cleans. Wait, I do have a couple of issues. He claims he cleans the kitchen, I claim he puts the dishes in the dishwasher.

You see, it’s the oddest thing, the man can scoop poop, collect hairballs, and clean up any bodily functions left by our four cats, but he refuses, can not bring himself to touch a dish cloth—which he is certain, is full of germs. He will walk out of a kitchen, deem it clean, and there’ll be enough food on the stove and cabinets to feed another family of three.

So hubby and I share the kitchen cleaning duty.

Bad food detector:

Now, considering both my guys know about my gag weakness, bad food detecting should fall to someone else. But nope. It’s still, “smell this, taste that.” I mostly refuse to comply. Needless to say, there is another bad food detector related issue that is equally disturbing. It’s the ABC bad food detector. i.e. We all went out for dinner. All enjoyed shrimp. Later, one of my men come to me and say, “Ugg, I’m feeling really sick. Do you think it was the shrimp?”

Now, isn’t that a stupid question? If I had thought the shrimp was bad, do they think I’d have eaten it? And now that I know one of them thinks the shrimp was bad, it only makes sense that I’ll start waiting, expecting, and perhaps imagining bad shrimp roiling around in my stomach. (Remember my gag issue?) Ahh, but bad food detecting continues to be my job.

Clothes Checker and Sniffer:

Now, I’m not talking laundry here. Nope, laundry in the Craig house is every man for himself. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but my hubby and son do their own clothes. (I personally believe it is to keep me from blogging about the condition of their underwear.) I’ll even confess and tell you that my hubby, not son, is better about washing, drying and putting away than moi. Me, I’ll wash, I’ll dry, and that laundry basket can stay filled with clothes for a week—or until I wear them.

Nevertheless, duty of Clothes Checker and Sniffer is not laundry. This is where the man says, “Hey, smell this, is it still clean enough to wear?” Now, I personally think this is one of the huge differences in the genders and I think someone pointed this one out in my rule blog. But if a woman thinks there might even be a chance that an article of clothing smells, she will not adorn herself in such clothing. Now, my men, if their toes do not curl, if mama’s gag reflexes don’t act up when the piece of clothing is forcibly placed under my nose, then they proudly wear it.

The clothes “checking” part of this job is also allocated to moi. Now, I’ve been told by hubby that while it remains my job, I have not excelled in this duty. According to him, I have allowed him to go to work with holes in his shirt, buttons fastened unevenly, and the worse crime happened just a few weeks ago. He wore one black and one brown shoe to work.

In my defense, he leaves for work before I have sucked down my required five cups of cinnamon stick coffee. Needless to say, I’m working on improving on this duty.

Okay, I have loads more job allocations, from snake catcher and bug identifier, to fever checker, but I’ll save them for next week’s blog. But what about your guys? Who does what at your house? What household chore do you hate? Love? Come on, share a little.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monitor Issues

About a month ago, I had an issue with my flat-screen monitor. One of those smoke coming out of the top issues. Well, it was still under manufacturer's warranty, so Best Buy (where I bought it) said they'd be happy to ship it back to them for repair. So I dropped it off at Best Buy and asked about how long. They thought a couple of weeks. Yeah, right. Everything I read on the Internet about that company said kiss it goodbye or you'll be drawing social security. So I had Best Buy gift cards from airline mile trading and the flat panels have dropped in price since I bought the first one, so I bought another. I love running dual monitors anyway.

Well lo and behold, a week later Best Buy tells me my monitor is ready. Really? So I go pick it up on a Sunday. I go through this entire ridiculous process to hook up both monitors but can never get the old one to come on. So I disconnect everything - again - and hook up only the old monitor (yeah, I should have done that first - I don't want to hear it) and of course, it doesn't work. I was so irritated because it's obviously no one bothered to test it before shipping it back. A black screen hardly equals a working monitor. So I was too mad to take it back to Best Buy that same day or I'd end up saying the right thing to the wrong people. So I took it back the next weekend.

The guy from Best Buy takes it out of the box to test it himself and when he flips it over, you can hear things rolling inside. He looks at me and shakes his head. I just shrug. So another week goes by and I get an email that I need to call the store about the monitor. Turns out the manufacturer has apparently decided their monitor is so bad they can't even repair it. To top it off, Best Buy has decided the monitor was so bad, they don't even carry that company any more. So I got to go pick a new monitor.

Normally, they would discount the original purchase price to depreciate the cost for the time I owned it, but as my luck (finally) would have it, their depreciation system was down so I got the full price in trade. So now I am set with two monitors to launch satellites from space. :) It's a little fuzzy (taken with my iphone, but check out the pic:

For Terry - my fav from the semi-finals of America's Got Talent last week.

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Author Kissa Starling

In honor of Grandparents' Day, please welcome author Kiss Starling! She writes super wonderful, sweet contemporary romance which, sometimes, just happens to involve older (gasp!) heroes and heroines. So, before I give too much away about her latest read, heeeeere's Kissa...

I’m an old people lover- there I said it. I so enjoy talking to people who have been around this big wide world for more than seventy years or so. They can recount stories that otherwise I could only read about and we all know that details get left out in translation. I want to know about smells, sounds, and sights from way back when.

I love to compare today to yesterday and older people are a great resource for this type of meandering. They can tell me what things used to look like. How the broadcast sounded when Kennedy was shot, how American’s felt during WWII, and they even give me forgotten recipes- another one of my passions.

Old people need lovin’ too!

So many people think about love in reference to their own age. Well more and more people are living into their 80’s and 90’s these days. Many of them lose good friends, family, and even spouses during this twilight time of their lives. Everyone needs a reason for living and sometimes finding love at an older age is that reason. It can be every bit as beautiful as relationships between two younger persons. The authors at Red Rose Publishing took heed and created the Forever Young Anthology.
My story, Kismet, will be released sometime in September as an individual ebook at Red Rose Publishing. At some later date the stories may be compiled into a print edition.

Here’s a blurb from Kismet:
Harold and Bea met and fell in love in 1940. Both enlisted to fight in WWII and then came home to marry other people. Now, seventy years later, they agree to attend a high school reunion. Neither of them know if the other will show or what happened so many years ago. These two find that a broken proposal is hard to forgive but when you're almost ninety you don't have time for regrets.

By K. Starling, my sweeter side…

Read an excerpt here:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Celebrity Gawker

I am a celebrity addict. There. I admitted it. It’s not totally my fault, though. I started haunting TMZ while doing research for my new Hollywood Headlines series that revolves around a tabloid magazine, the L.A. Informer. The website rocks and on the TV show, the dynamic of Harvey and his crew in the newsroom totally fit what I was going for with my series. (Except my Harvey is a Felix, and he’s way hotter.) So, while doing my “research”, I watched all kinds of horrible clips of beach cellulite, Kardashian girl hijinx, and drunken clips of everyone from Paris Hilton to Keifer Sutherland.

And totally got hooked.

What is it about celebrities that is so fascinating? Is it a voyeurism thing? A “wow, I wish I was that cool” thing? An “even though you’re famous, I can still make fun of you” thing? I don’t know. But I’m woman enough to admit, I am a total celebrity gawker at this point. Let me tell you how bad it’s gotten…

To promote my new series, I created a new website, solely devoted to the L.A. Informer. It’s filled with news stories about the characters in the book, bios of the tabloid’s staff, book recommendations, and – of course – real celebrity gossip feeds. You guys are among the first to see it, so check it out and let me know what you think:

So, the other day I was putting the finishing touches on the website when a story on the page caught my eye about Jon Gosslin. (Yes, I know it’s the lowest of low, but I have been watching this story like a hawk. The best juicy divorce since Trump!) So, I clicked on the link to read the full story. An HOUR later, I had been fully caught up on Jon and Kate, read the latest on the custody of Michael Jackson’s kids, and gotten ten tips for reducing cellulite. That’s when I realize how bad my celebrity addiction has gotten. I was sucked in by my own website!

Are there twelve step programs for this? Please tell me I am not the only one. Anyone else have celebrity gawking issues?

~Trigger (and Celebrity) Happy Halliday

P.S. Since Baby Halliday is about to make his appearance any day now, I’ve recruited a few of my very coolest author friends to come blog on Fridays for me for the next few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll still me checking in and will definitely post pics of baby once he gets here, but in the meantime, I have a feeling you’re going to love chatting with some of these new authors.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Warning: Spontaneity Can Be Hazardous to One's Health!

If asked to describe myself with a list of adjectives, it's a safe bet that 'spontaneous' would probably not be found among said list of descriptors. As I've indicated before, I'm not a 'spur of the moment' kind of gal and never have been. Don't ask me why, but I've always been somewhat, er, anal when it comes to planning ahead. If it ain't on the schedule, it's a safe bet you won't find me among attendees.

Well, this Labor Day as I was...laboring...atop the aluminum step ladder that has become my frequent perch this summer applying Country Brown trim, my son roughly an hour away at college called. His gal pal roommate's mum was coming up to visit and go for a bike ride, he told me and I caught an unmistakable trace of 'I wish I could see you guys' homesickness in his voice.

I ended the cell call when a possibility occurred to me. Why not throw the portable grill in the Jimmy, pack some hot dogs, brats, chips and cookies and drive up to surprise the college boy?

Why not, indeed?

It was doable. It was mid-morning. Plenty of time to finish up the trim board I was working on, shower and clean up, pack the ice chest and grill, fill the car up and go. Easy-peasy, right?

If only.

I used my cell phone to call the two girls in the house (hey, if you'd been up and down that ladder as many times as I had, you'd use these shortcuts) and alerted them to the change in plans, advised them to shower while I was finishing up outdoors, and be ready to leave in an hour.

Now, if you know many 19 year-old-girls, you know it generally takes more than an hour to get them to the point where they pronounce themselves ready for public perusal so I felt encouraged that both had actually showered by the time I'd cleaned my paint brushes and put away the ladder and paint--until I jumped in the shower and discovered tepid water due to the girls' hot water excesses.

The rosy glow of anticipation at 'dropping in' on my son faded a bit.

I showered, put on enough makeup not to scare the university students, grabbed the ice chest and filled it with a bag of ice, condiments, etc. and yelled at the girls that we were leaving in five minutes.

Ten minutes later I'm sitting in the garage in the Jimmy waiting.

We head to gas the car up, stop at the store for food essentials, and head out of town when one of the girls asks, "Uh, Mom. Where's the grill?"

I looked at her in the rear view mirror.

"Back home. In the garage," I responded, whipping off at the next exit to head back home for the grill.

Ten minutes later we're back on the road. I'm driving down the road, trying to convince myself this was really a good idea when I hit a particularly deep pothole. Several minutes later I notice a small hairline crack appear above the passenger side windshield wiper where a small round chink in the glass had been. As I drove, it begin to criss-cross its way across the windshield.

I began to get a not-good feeling about the trip.

Still, the girls and I motored northward and made it to the apartment with no further problems. I park behind the kids' apartment at the laundromat. "The plan," I tell the girls, "is to ring his doorbell and yell surprise." We sneak around the side of the apartment building and through the gate into the small fenced courtyard that leads to his front door. We knock. Nothing. We knock again. Nothing. We look at each other.

"Did he have plans?" one of the girls asked me.

I shrugged. "He didn't say. He just sounded pathetic."

"His car is here," the other daughter pointed out. "So's his roomie's."

"But his roommate's mom's SUV isn't," I pointed out, speculating they had all probably gone out to lunch.

By this time it was after one and the girls and I were starving. So, we unpack the food and I get the grill going and throw on some cheese dogs.

"Should we call him?" the girls asked.

"What! And spoil the surprise?" I yelled.

"What if he doesn't come back for hours?" the two 'little Mary Sunshines' asked. "What then?"

Fortunately, he was back in half an hour. Unfortunately, he had just pigged out at a local buffet.
The girls and I consoled ourselves with hotdogs and cookies. Then I notice the garden tiller. And plants. And bags of mulch.The roommate's mom had taken them out to buy supplies to put in a flower bed.

Once the bed was tilled, plants planted, and mulch raked, my son suggested a trip to the School of Design so we could all see the design project (a passageway that reflected movement and motion made entirely of cardboard and twine) he was working on. We load the Jimmy up with the ice chest and grill and pile in. We get to the college. I park. I'm just getting out when I hear a terrible scream.

One of the girls has shut her finger in the car door and smashed it.

Remaining calm and utilizing the first responder first aid skills I acquired during my state trooper days, I examine the mangled finger. Using ice from the ice chest, I apply ice to the finger, drive to the nearest drug store for antiseptic, bandages, and Tylenol, bandage the injured digit, and drive back to the son's apartment, drop him off, gave him a big squeeze and a kiss and got back in the Jimmy and got the heck out of town.

This is what happens when Bullet Hole decides to be spontaneous...and why, future visits with the son will be done via webcam and Skype from the relative safety of my home office.

Have you had any spontaneous moments or surprises that have gone way bad? Are you a planner versus a pick up and goer? Any 'Murphy's Law' episodes to relate?

Oh. And just so you know, X-rays of the poor wittle finger don't show an actual break, so that is good news.

Me? I don't want to tempt fate.

I am so staying off that *#! ladder for a few days.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I Survived Girl Scout Camp 2009

I've blogged about this trip before, but in case you are new, let me sum up. Every year, I take my lovely G.S. troop camping over Labor Day weekend at the local G.S. camp. We've been doing this (sadistically) for six years.

Okay, back to the story...

This year we took a younger troop with us and they occupied the lodge while we took over the platform tents in the next site over. So I figured, Hell, this will be easy since the girls are in sixth grade now, right? Why, they will want to do all the cooking and cleaning, singing scout songs all the way...right?

Sixth Grade should be known as the Age of the Zombie Drama Queens. For example, seating arrangements just to get out there are extremely important. You don't want to sit, for the next 25 minutes, by just anybody.

Then there's the music. I thought the Jonas Bros. were pretty cool...I have them on my iPod to play for the girls in the car. I was wrong. Apparently the Jonas Bros. have a cool factor of zip with my girls. One of them made a playlist. It included every Taylor Swift song known to mankind. I tried not to suicidally steer my van into a big rig the whole way there. I'm like, totally serious.

Upon arrival, the girls decided they didn't want to schlep all the stuff they brought the 200 feet to their tents. Actually, I was surprised that most of the girls needed two suitcases. How long were we going to be here again? I looked at my one backpack and duffel and wondered.

Once we told them that if they didn't pick up their luggage and take it to their tents, the centipedes would lay eggs in their undies, they snatched the stuff up, rolling their eyes as they rolled their suitcases. Rolling suitcases? For camping?

On the bright side, the girls had already picked their tentmates, so that was a huge leap over two hour group freak-out with tears we had last year.

Once I got myself unpacked in the "Leader Tent" or as they called it "Geekville," I checked out what they were doing. I was shocked to find posters on the outside of the tents, posters inside the tents, and one enterprising Scout brought a lovely basket of potpourri. I didn't say anything...hoping an enterprising raccoon would do the talking for me later.

Potpourri. I know, right?

The evening went by without a hitch until after dinner and s'mores (the girls would make one for themselves, 32 for me). That's when one of them, trumpeted by heralds, informed us that she had broken her thumb. Of course, her parents had decided at the last minute to run off to Florida, leaving no one behind to deal with this, even though it's our one, hard and fast rule.

So, at 9:30 at night, one of my leaders decided to drive the girl to the Emergency Room and stay home that night. She looked really sad about it, but I suspected that leader was trying hard not to do backflips all the way to her van.

Once that was all done, I headed back toward our site, thinking of the accident report form I would have to fill out on this. Girl Scouts are all about the paperwork.

That's when one of the fifth grade girls stopped me.

"I just got my period for the first time." She said.

Well I didn't see that coming. My other co-leader and I kind of looked at each other blankly. Wow. I hadn't thought of that. These girls still strike me as little girls. We had nothing for this.

I took the girl down to the other campsite, praying silently that the leader of the younger troop, a troop to young to have this kind of thing happen, would have something. The gods were looking out for me. She did.

I stumbled awkwardly through an explanation to the girl but she just blinked. "My mom told me all about that stuff. I'm cool. I'm just worried about how she will handle it."

Did I mention the girl is 10?

Okay then, back to the campsite, where I was greeted by two other girls who informed me that "Broken Thumb's" (that would be her Navajo name if she had one) BFF was sobbing in her cabin. Great.

Upon arrival into the Potpourri tent, I found two girls laying on their bunks wailing as if I'd killed and eaten a puppy in front of them.

"I have nothing to say to you!" Said the BFF. "You wouldn't let me go to the Emergency room with my best friend! She needs me!"

"Yeah!" Sobbed girl number 2.

Two others from another tent were on hand to offer support. They nodded.

"I could just DIE! And you wouldn't care!" Cried the BFF.

"Well," I said. "You might as well die, then. I already have two accident reports to fill out. What's one more?"

The girls laughed at this. Talk about Mood Swings. I told them the two from the other cabin could sleep there that night.

That turned out to be a big mistake. I'd inadvertently put the two biggest troublemakers in the same tent.

No one slept that night. And I mean no one.

The "problem tent" partied all night, despite my repeated threats of dismemberment and duct tape. When I got up that morning. On the walk between my tent and the bathrooms - about 3 yards - every other girl managed to come up to me to complain.

So I killed them.

No, I didn't. But as a group we did come up with a suitable punishment. I won't give you the details but it involved the offenders being strapped to a target while the completely exhausted other girls fired arrows at them.

Wait, that was my fantasy. Scratch that.

Broken Thumb joined us later. She didn't have a broken thumb, just a contusion that became a "broken thumb" under article 357 of the Dramatic Diva guide.

By the end of the trip I was feeling very old. I also downloaded "Queen Bees and Wannabees" to my Kindle. I'd better get a jump on this diva thing.

The Assassin

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Journey

Contest, Contest. Want to win a free Kindle? Dorchester is giving one away. Check it out:

Dorchester's Contest

Okay, because last weeks blog wasn’t funny, I thought I should write up a funny one for today. But dadblast it, if my hubby hasn’t let me down. He hasn’t run into any potholes or tore the house up trying to fix a plumbing problem. So you guys are stuck with another inspirational piece.

Last week I blogged about passions, about nurturing one’s soul. So I thought I’d share with you an essay I wrote several years back about someone very special to me. The piece was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. The essay’s underlying message is about holding on to the essence of what makes you “you”, even when you give your heart to someone else.

I stood in the small kitchen as the Florida sunshine streamed through the curtains giving the room a golden glow. It should have been a lovely morning, but grief hung thick in the air. I watched my grandmother as she scurried back and forth from stove to sink, wiping, straightening...busy work. Any minute now I expected her to break down again, to lean against the counter and give in to tears. Two days before, her life, as she had known it, had come to an abrupt halt. My grandfather, B.B., her husband and the love of her life for 58 years, had died.

Suddenly my grandmother's quick movements slowed. I watched as she clutched the dishtowel in both hands, then she stood completely still. A knot formed in my throat and I prepared myself to go to her at the first sign of tears. She didn’t cry, however, she just stood there staring at the counter as if noticing something for the first time.

I followed her gaze to see what had caught her interest. The toaster? Perhaps she was staring at nothing, but then she reached behind the toaster and picked up a small vase of cheap plastic flowers.

She wiped them off with her towel, then turned and placed the faded arrangement on the tiny table. When her eyes met mine I saw in hers a mixture of grief and self-acknowledgment. “I can put my flowers anywhere I want now,” she said, then she shook her head as if surprised she’d said those words aloud.

Her brow creased with emotion and she quickly turned around and continued wiping the already clean counters. My heart swelled with emotion, not for my grandfather, or for my grandmother’s loss, but for the painful, yet awakening truth I’d seen briefly in her eyes as she stared at the simple vase of flowers.

Only days away from her eightieth birthday, she was about to embark on a mandated journey. One that would be painfully lonely for a while, but one that would lead her to discover the woman she’d left at the altar 58 years ago when she'd become my grandfather’s wife. No, my grandfather had not been some evil, selfish man, but he had been a man of his times. More importantly, my grandmother had been a woman of hers.

She had dressed to please her husband, she had supported his strong views on life and politics, she had lived to be the wife he wanted. He had not taken her identity, she had given it, along with her heart and soul. But now he was gone and she was left to discover who she was without him.

It has been four years since my grandfather passed away and since then I’ve watched and am amazed at the woman who took over my grandmother’s body. Oh, she is still kind, giving to a fault, but this journey has changed her. Her muted shades and small-print clothing have become bright and busy. Her house is now filled with colorful table cloths, flowers and feminine froufrou. She still watches the evening news, but is quick to turn it over to a game show or a sentimental show that my grandfather would have scoffed at. She laughs regularly, even enjoys silly jokes.

She has friends over, goes out to the movies -- romantic comedies are her favorite -- and she works crossword puzzles over the phone with girlfriends. She belongs to a pinochle group, has started her own scrabble club, and goes three miles a day with her walking buddies.

She still misses my grandfather. How could she not? He was the love of her life. Recently however she told me of a dream...

“I was at the bottom of this big hill. It was raining and there was a lot of mud. B.B. was ahead of me. He kept looking back and telling me to come along. He had built us a new house on top of the hill and was excited about me seeing it. I was trying to catch up with him when suddenly I saw a little girl standing there in the rain. I knew she was lost. I looked up at B.B. and back at the little girl. Then I told B.B, ‘You go ahead. I’ll be there soon, but first I=m going to take care of this little girl.’”

After she told me this, she glanced at me and asked, “I wonder who that little girl could be?”

I placed my hand on her shoulder. “It’s you Grandma. That little girl is you.”

She blinked away the moisture in her eyes. “I’d rather take care of him,” she said.

“I know,” I told her. “You didn’t want to lose him, but you did. Now you’re just doing what comes natural. Living.”

She hugged me and pulled away. “I’ll see you later. I’ve got a pinochle game to attend.”

As I watched her walk away, a lovely vision in her purple pants and flower-printed shirt, I realized how glad I was to have gotten to meet this woman, and I’m glad she’s staying around to take care of the little girl inside her. For her journey has taught me a lot about living, about loving other people, and even more about loving myself.
* * *

I will have to tell you that the day I saw my grandmother wiping her countertops, I came home and hugged my husband extra tight. And I told him, “If you go before me, I will miss you. I will be sad, but I will not be in a place where I do not know who I am. In other words, I will put my damn flowers anywhere I want.”

Unlike my grandfather, who was a man of his times, my hubby never told me I couldn’t put my flowers anywhere.
Nevertheless, I think as women when we become wives and mothers we sometimes let go of the small things that make us happy. Painters stop painting, museum goers stop going to museums, readers stop reading. Now I know that as our lives change we have to give and take, I just think too many of us forget the simple pleasures that make us smile, because we are so busy. Too busy to take care of the little girl inside of ourselves.

So . . . what have you done today that just made you smile? Are you allowing someone, or something, to prevent you from letting the real you shine? Do you have goals you have let slide because someone else doesn’t think they are special? Come on, let’s share a little.

P.S. Today my grandma is in Heaven, probably in that white house on the hill, and probably taking care of my granddad. I just hope she’s putting her own flowers where she hell she wants them to be.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Enjoy your day off!

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What Flavor Weird Is Your State?

Please join me in welcoming the wonderfully funny mystery author, Jess Lourey. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at her latest release in the Murder by Month Mysteries series, September Fair, and it had me in stitches. If you love a funny mystery with quirky characters and creepy villain - this should totally be in your TBR pile!

Minnesota--land of 10,000 lakes, hotdish, blue-eyed blondes who talk like Sarah Palin you betcha, lutefisk, niceness, cows, walleye, and 50 shades of weird. I think it's the combination of long winters and poor TV reception that creates so many "quirky" people here, but whatever the reason, I'm happy for it.

You see, I write the humorous Murder-by-Month series, set in the very real town of Battle Lake, Minnesota. The whip-change weather and oddball personalities of this beautiful burg provide limitless material. Twenty-four-foot fiberglass statue of an Indian chief in the town square? Check. Lazy-eyed restaurateur who responds to a different name depending which side of you he's sitting on? Check. Octogenarian who fishes off the roof of the nursing home, 1 mile from the nearest body of water? Check. White food, white people, and a thick layer of Minnesota Nice over a blood-red vein of untapped anger, resentment, and corrosive boredom? In spades.

September Fair, the fifth book in the series, hits shelves September 2009, and it's the first book to leave Battle Lake, though it doesn't go far. Seems that Battle Lake, Minnesota, has provided more Princess Kays of the Milky Way than any other town in Minnesota. Princess Kay is a wide-eyed beauty annually chosen to represent the Minnesota Dairy industry. Sounds standard, but pay attention, because this is Minnesota. Princess Kay's first official act is to get her head carved out of an 11-pound block of Grade A, unsalted butter on the opening day of the State Fair in a spinning, refrigerated, octagonal, glass-sided booth. (I wish I was making this up.)

Everyone in Minnesota knows who Princess Kay is, but not everyone knows that Battle Lake has cornered the market, so when I heard this bit of news, I thought, what a perfect setting for a murder. Princess Kay, perky and blonde, gets murdered on the opening day of the State Fair while rotating in a refrigerated booth in view of hundreds of spectators. It'd be the first locked-butter-booth mystery in history. I had to change the title of the winner, for copyright reasons (Milkfed Mary, Queen of the Dairy, anyone?), and add a healthy dose of intrigue, humor (it writes itself), and suspense, and voila! September Fair is born. At $14.95, it's a cheap trip to Minnesota, minus the mosquitoes. :)

But we're not the only weird ones out there, right? What weirdness happens in YOUR state?

Jess Lourey
Murder by Month Mysteries

Friday, September 04, 2009

I'm a melon!

When I first found out I was pregnant, I signed up at this cool baby site that sends you weekly emails to update you on your baby’s progress. I noticed about week seven that every week they would tell the baby’s size in terms of fruit or vegetables. It started out as a raisin, then an apricot, a head of cauliflower, etc. Well, this week, I finally hit the melon stage. I’m a Crenshaw melon! (I know, very specific. But I’m amazed they could come up with 40 different fruits and veggies at all.)

Also in this week’s update (I’m at 36 weeks for anyone who’s keeping track) was a list of first time parent follies. I laughed so hard at some of these that I almost peed my pants. (Okay, I almost pee my pants all the time now. But that’s beside the point…) So, here are a couple of my fav stories from poor sleep-deprived parents at

"The day my son, Mason, was born, my husband did his first-ever diaper change. He was so proud. But when he picked Mason up, our son urinated on him. The little cut-out in the front of the diaper for the belly button stump was too far down, and Mason's little pee-pee was sticking out. My husband was so embarrassed."
— Brandi

"In the first couple weeks after I had Zach, I was absolutely exhausted and trying to recover from a c-section. I was taking Percoset for the pain, which made me tired and a little loopy. So, one night it came time for his 2 a.m. feeding. I always change his diaper before feeding him, so I followed my routine as usual and went back to sleep. But when I got up the next morning to change him, I noticed he was wearing two diapers instead of one — his dirty one from the middle of the night and a clean one right on top of it."
— Amy

"When our son was 3 weeks old, we decided it was time to get out for a day with him. We packed bags all morning, trying to make sure we didn't forget anything. Extra formula, a whole bag of diapers (just in case) — you name it, we had it. We loaded everything up and trudged down the three flights of stairs to the car, but when we got to the bottom, we looked at each other and said, 'Where's the baby?!' We had left him in the apartment! We raced back up the stairs at 90 miles an hour — and found him sitting in the car carrier sound asleep. We laughed until it hurt, and never left him behind again."
— Sandy

"When Nicky was several weeks old, I was driving home from a hike with friends. I couldn't figure out why he was fussing in the car since he usually loved the motion. Finally, when I stopped at a red light, I turned around and saw the car seat on its side. I'd strapped him in, but not the seat! Everything turned out fine, but it was a definite 'Bad Mom Day' for me. I never made that mistake again."
— Mollie

Anyone else have some "doh!" parenting moments to share? I will admit here my worst was probably taking my son out for his first walk. We have a jogging trail near our house, so I bundled him into the stroller and set out for a nice relaxing walk. Or so I thought. About ten minutes into he started screaming. Those top-of-their-lings, the-world-is-going-to-end screams. I picked him up, and, thankfully, he stopped. After a few minutes, I put him back in the stroller – more screaming. Picked him up – fine. He would not be put down. And I couldn’t steer the stroller with one hand. I was stranded. So, I ended up sitting down at the side of the trail waiting a full hour until he fell asleep so that I could walk the ten minutes back home. This time around, I will definitely be sure to go walking with a buddy!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, September 03, 2009

No Wire Coat Hangers...or Organization is a Dirty Word

It's that time of year again. With temperatures trending downward and a definite fall crispness already in the air, it's time for the seasonal wardrobe evaluation and elimination. Just what I need. Another project to suck my 'free time' away.

My closet is worse than most. And NO! That is not my closet featured in the picture. If only that were so. My closets should be posted with an 'enter at your own risk' warning sign. Well, if you could manage to enter them, that is. My closets serve as multi-purpose storage. While I have a fair amount of storage space, I also have a fairer amount of items to store. I have work clothes, casual clothes, writing clothes, dress clothes, and hang out at home clothes. I have work shoes, snow shoes, boots, athletic shoes, summer shoes, and dress shoes. The problem is that most of my closet space goes for non apparel storage. Translate that into writing stuff.

The storage areas above all my closets hold research binders, work in progress binders, hard copies of various projects, and miscellaneous writing materials. Oh. And a couple old computer towers that came over on the Mayflower.

The extent of my closet chaos became apparent when I helped moved my son into his new apartment several weeks back. This kid is OCD organized. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place. He had hanging shoe bags and color-coded bins for everything. Socks, undies, wife beaters, etc. He had a cabinet with plastic drawers for toiletries, school supplies, and miscellanous items. His desk featured a tray for paper clips, pens, pencils and all the drafting supplies he needs. And in his closet his shirts and jeans were all hung up using the incredibly cool product known as the Wonder Hanger.

Once I got a look at his highly efficient organizational display, I felt like one of those out of control hoarders you see featured on Oprah.


Since I really don't function well in chaos, I've decided to tackle my closets this fall and utilize some of the organizational techniques and products that are out there. I made a good start at reducing the amount of clothing I had last year when I finally got rid of my old lady, high waisted, straight leg jeans. But now I need to be brutal about clothing selections. For example. How many 'little black dresses' do I really need at this point in my life? One short, cute cocktail dress for fun and a longer, serious one for funerals, right? And when will I ever wear a pink belt again? Or a sequined cardigan? Or a fanny pack!

It's time to get lean and mean in the closet. Are you with me?

What items are you chagrined to admit you still have hanging in your closet and just taking up space? What tried and true organizational tips or products have you had success with or, conversely, what hasn't or didn't work for you?

This week my mantra is 'Less IS more!'

Away with the red Chinese silk floor length dress that I haven't worn in four years (and probably can't get into if I wanted to) and it's off to Goodwill with the flowered swimsuit with the frilly skirt.

Thank goodness such donations remain anonymous...(to heck with the @#! charitable giving receipt!)

It's time to shed those dated, fashion offensive garments.

Hmmm. Maybe I better don protective eyeware before I go through my closet. I think I still have stuff in there from the 70s.


~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Just A Quickie...

"Friends help you move...
Real friends help you move bodies."

I wish I knew the artist who made this. He (or most likely, she) is a genius.

I'm taking 30 Girl Scouts camping in two days. I'm sure I'll have a long and bizarre blog next week.

Your REAL Friend,
The Assassin

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Passion, Hot, Soul Changing Passion

Passion—hot, soul-changing passion. I just finished my summer, 2010 release, Shut Up and Kiss Me, and there’s quite a bit of passion in that book. A couple of scenes, one taking place on a desktop, well, let’s just say I had to crank the air conditioner down when I wrote it.

I do love that kind of passion, but that’s not exactly the type of passion I’m blogging about. Yup, there are different kinds of passion. Most of them are powerful, most of them can be mind consuming, and most of them are a heck of a lot of fun. (My characters had fun on that desk top!)

But I’m talking about the things you do in your life that you enjoy . . . besides the things you have to get naked to do. I’m talking about hobbies, interest, things that just tickle your fancy, that makes you happy from the inside out.

The kind of something that when you do it, times flies by, you find yourself putting your worries and stresses on the back burner, the kind of thing that feels so good doing it, that you often feel guilty. And one more time, I’m not talking about sex!

I think it was Deepak Chopra who said, (and I’m paraphrasing) that to do what you love, what you’re passionate about, and get paid to do it, is true happiness. I think the man was on to something. Because let me tell you, one of my biggest passions is writing. And I consider myself very lucky to do it for a living. Don’t get me wrong, writing is still a job, there are deadlines, and stresses.

Duh, people want the writing to be grammatically correct and things spelled right. Being dyslexic makes that hard, and I don’t like hard, I just want to tell my stories. I’d rather clip a stranger’s toenails than polish and proof my work. But I do it. (Polish and proof my work, I’ve yet to clip a stranger’s toenails.) I’m polishing that June book now. Ahh, but when I’m in the creating part, when I’m getting that first draft down, I’m in heaven. Hours can go by and I’ll forget to pee, or eat, and I’ll find myself writing until three in the morning.

Now, I have other passions in my life that don’t provide regular income, or keep me up so late, and I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t indulge into them near enough. Some of my other passions include: slow walks in the woods or on the beach, sampling good wine, cooking, jigsaw puzzles, photography, reading, and traveling.

While my passions are rather sane, for a nutcase like myself, I know and have met some people whose passions are rather . . . bizarre. I knew and wrote about a guy whose passion was . . . skunks. His mission was not only to save them from negative opinions of the general public, but he rescued skunks from attics, under people’s beds and from the sides of the road. He nursed, cared for, and trained orphaned skunks to act like . . . big skunks so he could release them in the wild.

I knew someone else whose passion was riding wooden rollercoasters and someone who went goo-goo over painting mailboxes. Another person I knew went nutzo over weaving baskets--baskets that only stood an inch high.

Crazy? Maybe. But amazingly, when these people talked about these things, you could feel it. “It” being their excitement, their joy, their passion.

Now, some of you might say, that your passion is your children, or your spouse, maybe your family as a whole. And don’t get me wrong, I love my family, and having just now discovered grandmotherhood, I’m ecstatic at this new role. But through my years I’ve learned that it’s not always wise to let other people be your passion. I’m not saying don’t love them, I’m not even saying don’t place them first in your life. Hey, we’re women, we were meant to care.

What I’m saying is that as women we often forget that we need to take time for ourselves, time to explore things that make us genuinely happy, things that don’t necessarily involve emotions for another person.

Have we not all seen what happens to moms when their children are their lives and these children grow up and leave home? Suddenly these women are left not knowing who they are. Then there are the wives whose passion are their husbands. Women who devoted their entire beings to their spouse, men who suddenly decided they wanted a divorce.

A woman whom I care dearly about recently told me, “I would give anything if I had a passion in my life like the one you have with your writing.”

I immediately started questioning her about the things she loved to do, things that made her happy. Sadly enough, she didn’t know what made her happy. And she isn’t the only one. It made me remember that at one time I too had walked passionless though my days and years. Before I discovered writing, before I discovered the importance of nurturing one’s soul.

So I ask you, what is your passion? Is there a way you can incorporate it into part of your career? Or is it already a part of your career?

Or, are you someone who has neglected to take the time to nurture your soul, to find that something that when you do it, your worries slip away? If you are, I hope you will try to reconnect to something that inspires you, that you will relearn how to play. You’ll recognize your passion because when doing it, time ceases to exist, and you suddenly realize that you are starving and haven’t peed in hours. It might not be healthy for your bladder, but it’s heaven for your soul.

Today, I hope you will share your passions with me. Tell me what you love, what you need to do more of, tell me your plans to rediscover what it means to have fun.