Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Domestic Gods

I realized today that while I’ve been blogging here for a month or so, I really haven’t talked about what I write. I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to my books.

Romeo, Romeo, Too Hot to Handle, Breakfast in Bed, and Yours for the Taking (coming out in January) are the books in my Domestic Gods Series.

When I tell people that I write about Domestic Gods, everyone assumes I write paranormal romance. I don’t—I write contemporary romantic comedy. Though I must admit that some people who have read the series tell me they consider my books fantasy—maybe because real men like my Domestic God heroes are few and far between. But rest assured, ladies, since I’ve been married to one for twenty-one years, I can prove the existence of at least one Domestic God.

The best way I know of to describe my brand of hero is to share my favorite Top Ten list:

Top Ten Reasons Why Women Love 
Domestic Gods

10. Domestic Gods know how to separate laundry and are man enough to buy and care for fine washables.

9. Domestic Gods like more power...in their women, their cars, their vacuums, and their household cleaners.

8. Domestic Gods do manly things - like lift the couch with one hand to vacuum under it.

7. Domestic Gods don't question their sexuality -- being a good cook and knowing how to clean doesn't make them effeminate. It makes them independent.

6. A Domestic God knows the way to a woman's heart is to show he's capable of killing bugs, scrubbing toilets, washing windows, keeping her well fed and satisfied in bed.

5. A Domestic God knows there's nothing sexier than a man cleaning the bathtub for the woman in his life and then joining her in it.

4. Domestic Gods don't expect their woman to be a maid unless said woman is into playing dress-up. Then, they prefer the French variety--feather duster included.

3. Domestic Gods can fix your car and fix you a five-course meal.

2. Domestic Gods not only respect women, they care for and about them.

And the number one reason women love Domestic Gods is...

Drum roll please….

Domestic Gods are as good in the kitchen as they are in the bedroom.

So tell me, do you know any Domestic Gods? Are they really as rare as most assume? And if you were to add something to my list, what would it be?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday - Cyber Monday

So did you "deal" on Friday? I must admit to sneaking out to one store for the madness sale. Normally, I lock my doors and keep my blinds closed on Black Friday because well, there's PEOPLE all over the place. I'm not overly fond of people, especially large collections of people who live in their own bubble and think the world exists for them.

Like the people who drive in the fast lane 20 miles below the speed limit. Move over! And if you're on the one-lane farm roads between mine and my parents house and you can't do the speed limit - don't drive. Seriously, some people could have walked faster than they were driving. If you are busy talking on your cell phone and reaching back to hit your kid and you continually pull into oncoming traffic (complete with 18-wheeler) and someone else has to lay on the horn to keep you from dying - don't drive! (true story and I was praying the stupid witch heard my weak horn)

Shopping manners: If you have five kids and a husband, leave them all at home. If you insist on going shopping with all of them like you're touring France or something, walk in single file lines, not across entire rows or collected in walkways like cattle. If you stop to talk to someone, do NOT do it in the entrance to a store or in the only walkway available for people to pass. If you are NOT interested in buying something, do NOT interrupt people getting a demonstration who are. If you even suspect you might be broke, check you available balance on all your cards before getting in line to pay.

So the one store I made it to was Bed Bath & Beyond. Does anyone else love that store as much as me? I don't shop there often because I always want to spend money, but on Friday, they had 20% off your entire purchase if you made it in before 10am. I'd had my eye on a $100 knife set that was on sale for $40 to begin with, so another $8 off for a total cost of $32. Not bad. But the biggie was the Tassimo single serve coffee machine. It's normally $170 and I've been eyeing them for years, but couldn't get myself to cough up the money. Well, with the 20% off and a $50 rebate, I paid $85 for it! Merry Christmas to me! I also picked up a game thingie for my niece for the Wii. So an overall savings of over $100. It was probably worth the annoying people.

What about you? Any good deals? Are you done with your shopping or are you an online shopper? Or maybe you're the wait-till-the-last-minute-buy-at-Walgreens shopper?

Deadly "Deal-Maker" DeLeon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful For The Craziness

Thanksgiving is a time when we are all reminded of what we have to be thankful for. It's also a time when we are reminded that our families are a little bit crazy. Every single year when I return to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner my attention is drawn to a bunch of little eccentricities that I have spent the last eleven months forgetting about.

For instance, each time I come back home I am given my mother's home office to use as a bedroom. Every year the key to that office is on the same pegboard. Every time I'm here I put the key back on that pegboard. Every year I'm told that I didn't put the key back on the precisely correct peg. I'm always a few centimeters off. This is a huge source of frustration for my mother. As far as I'm concerned all eight pegs on this rather small pegboard look the same and I can't even begin to imagine how you could miss a key that is less than an inch away from the peg that it's apparently supposed to be on. It's not like there are a lot of other keys on the board and furthermore the key in question is on a very large, very bright orange keychain. You simply can't miss it.  And yet my mother is sure that if the key is on the wrong peg she will never find it again...even though she's always the one who immediately notices it being in the wrong place which means that she DID find it...but I digress. My mother also is the most disciplined eater (and has the smallest appetite) of anyone I know. Last year I had to spend an enormous amount of time convincing her that one yam was not enough for 7 people.

And then there's my stepfather who is...not handy. Actually that's an understatement. Today when I called to see if my parents had any D batteries in the house for a certain remote control toy my son was bringing over my stepfather was the one to answer the phone. My mother has kept the batteries in the same place for the last 30 years, it's a place my stepfather of twenty years was apparently completely unaware of until today's phone call. Once he knew where to locate them he excused himself for a moment to see if there were any left. He came back to the phone a minute later to tell me that yes, there were indeed batteries in the house. "Are they D batteries?" I asked again. He paused before saying hesitantly, "They're Duracell."  

And let's not forget my brother who spent a lot of time last year texting me while I was eating my Thanksgiving dinner. That in and of itself isn't a big deal...except we were sitting next to each other at the same table while he was sending the texts. And of course there's my son who is so picky that the only part of the Thanksgiving meal that he usually ends up eating are the bread-rolls and the fruit salad (assuming there are no melons of any kind in the fruit salad and no seeds on the rolls). I'm sure I have plenty of quirks that drive the people at our family table crazy too...but like the rest of those in my brood I choose to be in denial over any and all of my abnormalities.

And yet I love coming home for the holidays. I enjoy and to a degree even admire my mother's perfectionism and my stepfather's conversation (which is always focused on people and society and never on technology or gadgets). My brother's texts make me smile, the very fact that he can't stop sending them makes me laugh. My son's refusal to eat the food served at our Thanksgiving meal means that there's more for the rest of us...which is good because there's probably only going to be one yam.

I'm grateful for my family's brand of crazy. I wouldn't want them to be totally normal. I wouldn't want to be the only one of my friends who didn't have a wacky-family-Thanksgiving story to share. And the mischievous kid inside me gets a kick out of the way my mother stomps her foot when I put the key on the wrong peg. These are the things that make Thanksgiving fun.

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is filled with love, laughter and just enough insanity to keep things interesting.

-Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I Am Thankful For...

My kids went to Disneyland this past weekend and this is their favorite picture;

I am thankful for Dove dark chocolates and believe the creators should win a Nobel Peace Prize. I know that eating those have given many, many idiots one more (no matter how underserving) chance at life.

I am thankful that there are people on this earth who think I am funny. I'd rather make people laugh than cry. Seriously...once they start weeping, it's really really hard to get a laugh.

I am thankful for basset hounds. It doesn't matter how bad a day you have, one look at a basset hound's face and you forget your troubles. That's because they look so guilty you have to go and check the garbage or catbox. And then your anger pretty much cancels everything else out.

I am thankful for the wonderful, funny women who write, read and comment on this blog - you guys crack me up. YOU GUYS ROCK!

Oh yeah, and I'm thankful for my kids, Mr. Assassin and stuff.

Happy Thanksgiving My Friends!

The Assassin

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Contest! Contest! See below how you can win an ARC for the first book in my Shadow Falls Series, Born at Midnight.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

But I don’t want to. Nope, I’m not crying. As crazy as it sounds, birthdays don’t bother me. Well, not much anyway. No, I don’t like getting older, but as the cliché says, it beats the heck out of the alternative. Dying young just doesn’t appeal to me.

Besides . . . I don’t feel old. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few aches and pains that I didn’t have before. Body parts aren’t as perky as they once were, and there’s a few lines around my eyes that I didn’t have years ago, but I still don’t feel old. Not mentally.

I still want and love a lot of the same things I wanted and loved when I was in my twenties. I want to look better in a pair of jeans. I want a good bra. I want to laugh and lunch with girlfriends. I want my hubby to want to be beside me, to occasionally rock my world, and to enjoy spending time with me as much I enjoy spending time with him. I want my home to be comfortable and a good place to live. I want to have enough money to fulfill the needs and a few wants of myself and those I love. I want the people I love to be healthy and successful. I want to feel accomplished in my own career, and still experience the buzz that comes from being challenged. I want a good book to read with a happy ending.

Now I agree, that as I’ve aged, I’ve found myself wanting some things that maybe I didn’t think were so important when I was young. For example: Comfortable shoes. The younger Christie would have bought a pair of shoes on looks alone. If they matched an outfit perfectly, they were coming home with me. Now, I still want my shoes to look good, but honey, there is nobody I want to impress so badly that I’ll wear shoes that will hurt my tootsies.

And that bra that I wanted in my twenties? I used to want it to put the girls out there, now I want it to keep the girls up there. And speaking of the girls, and something I didn’t think about wanting in my twenties, I want someone to come up with an alternative method of doing a mammogram. I still believe if they had to put men’s boys in a vice grip and smash ‘em to check for testicular cancer, there would be an alternate method of annual exams. Yup, my birthday week included a mammogram. My tatas are good for another year. Have you gotten your mammogram?

I also agree that as we age, we acquire some wisdom. Here are a few things that I wish the younger Christie had known.

Don’t spend so much time obsessing about that extra five pounds, and spend more time appreciating and caring for the body you have. Chances are, you’ll look back and wish you looked that good again.

Be particular who you allow into your life. Some people don’t deserve you.

Don’t be afraid of change, instead be scared shitless of becoming stagnate.

Don’t let anyone make you a victim; it can take years to see yourself as anything but one if you do.

Don’t beat yourself up about the mistakes you make, but always learn from them.

No matter how worn out you feel as a new mom, savor those moments because they will turn out to be some of your favorite memories.

When your kids hit the teen years, just remember this too will pass.

Spend time talking with your older relatives; once they’re gone, you’ll wish you did.

Whenever you think you’re too old for something, think again. You’ll never get any younger.

If you can do the splits and cartwheels, don’t stop doing them just because. You’ll wish you could still do them in fifteen years.

Okay…so there you have it, my thoughts on birthdays, aging, along with some bits of wisdom. What about you guys? Any bits of wisdom you’d like to share? Complaints about mammograms or getting older? Come on, let’s have some fun today.

Now about that contest? To win a copy of Born at Midnight, pop over to http://www.cchunterbooks.com/ and join my newsletter and then post a comment on my blog. On December 1st, I’ll be giving away an ARC, an advanced reader copy of the book. And then come back in two weeks, on December 7th, to Killer Fiction because I’m going to host another contest and give away another ARC.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taxes Can Be Fun!

Who says taxes can’t be fun? Take my fun Tax Test and see what you know – or don’t know – about federal income taxes!

1) In 1913, which state ratified the 16th Amendment which gave Congress the authority to effectuate an income tax system?

a. Wyoming.

b. Hawaii

c. The 16th Amendment was never properly ratified and the entire tax system
is illegal! We must ban together and revolt against such tyranny!

2) The highest individual income tax rate was:

a. 77% in 1918 to finance World War I

b. 94% in 1944 to finance World War II

c. 99% in 1981 to fund Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Defense System, with over
half the funds used to purchase light sabers for the U.S. Army

3) The original name of the Internal Revenue Service was:

a. The War Finance Administration

b. The Bureau of Internal Revenue

c. Taxes Я Us

4) The heroine in Diane’s debut novel, to be released in September 2001, is:

a. funny and feisty

b. smart and sassy

c. all of the above

5) The hero in Diane’s debut novel is:

a. smart, sexy, and successful

b. yummy

c. all of the above

Correct answers: 1 – a, 2 - b, 3 - b, 4 - c, 5 - c

If you scored:

4 or 5 – Congratulations! You’re an honorary tax nerd!

2 or 3 – You’re not a tax nerd. Congratulations!

0 or 1 – You’ve had too many margaritas. Hand over the keys.

Fun stuff on the IRS website (in case you’ve got too much time on your hands):

The first personal income tax return form:

Tax maze:

Tax word search:

Look for the first novel in Diane’s Death and Taxes series in September 2011 from St. Martin’s Press!

Friday, November 19, 2010

What I'm Thankful For

I know this post is a little early for Thanksgiving, but since I won’t be blogging again until next Friday, I thought I’d post my thankful list this week. So, this year I am thankful for:

1. My family.
They are the best. Seriously.  I could not ask for a more fun, more supportive, more loving bunch. The economy has touched everyone in my family this year, but even through the worst of times, we can get together and have a nice meal (even if it sometimes comes from the fast food taco stand… on sale… with a coupon), a nice glass of wine (Two-buck Chuck anyone?), and a good laugh.

2. My healthy, happy kids.
This past year my son had to have minor oral surgery. While the surgery itself was a very simple procedure, it did require several pre-procedure visits to the children’s hospital. Every time we went we would see kids in wheelchairs, kids who were sick, kids whose hair had fallen out from chemo. I felt so bad for those kids that it almost brought me - and my ten year old son! - to tears more than once. I felt extremely lucky that my son was there for something so minor. Healthy children is definitely not something I’m taking for granted this year.

3. My friends.
And, yes, this includes all of you. :) It’s been a stressful year around our house in many ways (Oh, Baby T, how I love thee!), but any time I felt overwhelmed I knew a pep talk from a good friend was just a phone call (or email) away. Through all the deadlines, I had wonderful writer friends cheering me on, pushing me forward, and kicking my butt when I felt like giving up. Throughout all the changes at my former publisher, and the challenges this presented, the Killers have been an amazing support group that I am eternally grateful for. Everyone should have as many good friends as I’ve had this year.

4. Work.
Deadlines have been, as I mentioned, crazy overwhelming.  Juggling writing for multiple publishers has been hectic, and learning the ins and outs of digital self-publishing has had a huge learning curve for me. But, I have work. Doing what I love, no less. I’m supporting my family with my passion. And that is truly something to be thankful for.

Anyone else have their list ready yet? What are you guys thankful for this year?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. Oh, and one more…

5. Whole Foods.com
Because without them, I would have no idea how to cook gluten-free stuffing (for The Man), mashed sweet potatoes (for Baby T), or be able to buy frozen organic burritos (for Big Boy, who is boycotting Thanksgiving altogether and insisting he will only eat Mexican food that day… tweens are so much fun…).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Under the Hood and Outta Luck

I'm a former trooper. And I know just enough about cars to be dangerous. With four cars in our family (none of them new) it seems like one is always in the garage. So, it wasn't that big of a deal when the water pump went out on my daughter's car. Even with daily medical appointments scheduled, I figured we could still make it work. What I didn't bank on was pulling out of my garage yesterday afternoon, putting my Jimmy in drive, and hearing an ominous cracking, popping sound followed by an ungodly vibration that almost loosened my fillings.

"This is not good," I said to my daughter. I slow-moed the vehicle to the repair shop two blocks away and popped the hood, and looked inside. Even for an amateur, I knew it wasn't good. Maybe it was the large crack in the plastic that covers the cooling fan that clued me in. Perhaps it was the fact that several fan blades were missing. Or the anti-freeze pooling beneath the car. Or it could be the 'oh geez' that came out of the mechanic's mouth when he walked over and looked in that told me I wasn't gonna be driving my Jimmy that day--or any time soon.

"Water pump," the mechanic said.

I pointed to the mayhem beneath my hood. "A water pump did that?"

He shrugged. "It happens."

With car number three away at college, that left only my other daughter's car. My brother (he's a saint, honest to god) picked us up and dropped us off at her work place. I grabbed the key to her car and ran to the car. And then I checked the gas tank.

"I've told you kids a thousand times not to let your fuel go below half a tank!" I railed to the daughter who didn't belong to the car. Which, of course, she pointed out.

I won't say I broke any traffic laws, but I will tell you I pulled into the medical center parking lot a mere three minutes after our designated appointment time.

And I get to do it all over again today. And tomorrow. And Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday.

And next Thursday? I'll be down on my knee giving thanks for a day without driving.

Have you had a day when everything seems to go wrong? What do you do to pull yourself out of a funk? Oh. And does anyone know of a good reliable 4 Wheel Drive vehicle for sale at a reasonable price? ;)

To you and yours, please have a super, safe, warm and wonderful Thanksgiving. And may you get over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house without needing AAA, a tow truck or Mr. Goodwrench.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So I Married a Demon Slayer...

Good morning! I'm just getting ready to sit down to write the ending to What Slays in Vegas. It's the story of the one demon that Lizzie didn't annihilate in The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers.

Whoops. You didn't know she missed one? Neither does Lizzie. But that's okay because Shiloh is only a half-succubus and she has plenty of problems without Lizzie and the biker witches on her tail.

It's been a really fun story to write. Last spring, an editor at Kensington approached and asked if I'd be interested in writing a novella for the So I Married a Demon Slayer anthology. Of course I said yes because who wouldn't want to write about demon slayers? I wanted to do something related to my Accidental Demon Slayer books, but not necessarily a direct tie, so Shiloh came into being.

The poor thing is under a terrible demon boss. Nobody respects her and she couldn't even get slayed the last time because she has too much good in her. Nevertheless, she's doing her best to channel her inner demon. In fact, she's helping to re-take Las Vegas for the succubi when she has a wild night with a guy who has a few secrets of his own. Their powers mesh in a bad way and she wakes up the next morning, married to a demon slayer. Talk about one heck of a hangover.

Now he won't give her an annulment (and a release of her powers) until she helps him take down her boss, who happens to be the demon ruler of Las Vegas. It's been a blast to write and I'm almost sad to think I might finish it today. It makes me want to go back to Las Vegas in a bad way, even if there are a few demons wandering around.

Off to write. Wish me luck. And watch out for those demons in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Wanna Run Away, Gotta Get Away...

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

Do you ever want to run away? I do—and usually on a daily basis when I’m in deadline hell like I am right now.

Yesterday I was holed up in my office with the door closed writing a highly emotional love scene—much more emotion than sex, although there was definitely sex. I was deep in concentration mode. Do you think my friends and family would get the hint? I mean the freakin’ door was closed.

Not only did I have my family to contend with, but my neighbor and her two kids. And that’s only if we’re not counting the dog, the cat, and the fact that my husband chose yesterday to wash the windows. I know, I should be happy my husband decides of his own volition to wash windows. But really, does he have to do it while I’m writing? Then, my neighbor interrupted to ask if we could all have dinner together, I told her to talk to my husband. What did she do? She walked across my office, opened the damn window he was washing and began a three-way conversation.

In the time it took me to write the last two paragraphs, I’ve been interrupted twice—it’s a way of life for me. A kid, a husband, or a neighbor pokes their head in and I’m pulled out of my story so fast, I end up with mental whiplash. They think nothing of it, after all, they just had to ask you a simple question—it only took thirty seconds. In this case it was “What’s for dinner?” That jerked me away from my work and derailed my train of thought—either that or the dang train kept running along the track without me.

Anyone who has ever suffered from whiplash knows it takes a while to get back to what you were doing before the injury. Since I have so much experience with this, I thought I’d tell you how I handle it.

I do my best to get past the mad. I hate being interrupted. If you’re not bleeding from an arterial vein, then you should know to leave me alone when I’m working—especially when I’m on deadline. If you’re too dense, then you get to suffer the consequences—I yell. It’s a great way to vent frustration. If I sit and stew about it, it just takes me longer to get my writing hat back on and get down to business. I’d like to say that yelling keeps the interruptions from reoccurring, but that would be a lie.

I get up and do a few things. After all, the train’s either been derailed or way the heck down the tracks. Since I’ve already been interrupted, I might as well get something cold to drink, or a nice cup of coffee, and visit the rest room, (so I don’t have to do it later, thus pulling myself out of my writing again). On the way, tell everyone I see that I’m working, and would really appreciate them respecting my “don’t knock, don’t tell” policy.

I ask my husband to take care of dinner. He’s not the best cook in the world, but hey, as he always says, he hasn’t killed anyone yet.

I put on music. If everyone is home and I have Harry Potter blaring on the TV on one side of my office and a battle from Call of Duty in the room on the other, I listen to something that will drown both out. If I’m agitated, I try something soothing. Anything to keep that one part of my mind occupied so I can catch my train of thought—hopefully where I left off.

I turn off the email and my Internet. I’m distracted enough by things I can’t control. I don’t need to be distracted by things I do have control over. I just have to remind myself that I lived for a very long time without ever checking my email. I can live for a few hours before I check it again.

I only allow myself to re-read the last paragraph. I don’t know about you, but I love to read—even my own books. I will go back and reread the book instead of writing. I allow myself one paragraph, or if I really have no self-control, I’ll read from the beginning of the scene. That’s it. Read and get back to writing.

My husband just came home from work and interrupted me again. When he asked what I was doing, I read him the above. He laughed at me then told me it was a good thing I didn’t work in an office environment. He deals with the same problem every day and that I’m not so special. I didn’t get any poor baby’s from him.

I rolled my eyes and pulled the fiction-writer card. He shook his head. Nope, he writes code for computer programs—along with managing a department and all the perks and problems that go along with it. Getting pulled out of his work is a nightmare for him too. “So, what do you do to avoid that?” I asked. My dear, sweet, lovable husband told me that he makes sure his office is not conducive to conversation. He’s basically anti-social—at least at work. People really have to need him in order to have the guts to bother him. He went on to tell me that I’m just too social, too available, and well, there’s no reason not to bother me. “But I yell!” I said. He laughed, kissed me, and went off to start dinner. Told you the yelling isn’t a deterrent. At least I’m right about something.

So tell me, what do you do when you get interrupted from writing…or whatever it is that you’re usually doing? How do you get back into your work?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Finally Arrives

Sorta. I mean fall in Texas, which includes at least one drowning thunderstorm and a temperature drop out of the 80s. Unfortunately, fall in Texas also signifies the time change which means every evening at about 6:30, I think it's 10:00 pm and time to go to bed.

In the past couple of weeks, I've received a rash of email from readers who are upset that they can't find my books anywhere. I updated my website to include an explanation, but for those that follow this blog, here's the skinny. My publisher is experiencing financial difficulties and copies of my books will no longer ship. Bookstores cannot get them unless they had some already in stock. You can still locate used copies on the Internet and I have heard from readers that some libraries did get a copy of SHOWDOWN IN MUDBUG, so check with your local library if you need to finish the Ghost-in-Law series.

Because of the situation, I have received all rights back to my books. While print publishing for a single individual is cost-prohibitive, I have made all the books available in digital download at amazon and bn and at significantly reduced prices. You do NOT have to own a digital reader to read a digital book as amazon and bn both offer free ereader software for your pc. It's small in memory requirements and will not honk up your other applications. I know digital reading is not optimum for everyone, and for that, I'm truly sorry. But this is the only way I can make the books available at an affordable price for you.

Gemma Halliday and Leslie Langtry also received rights back to books. Gemma has already posted her books for sale digitally and Leslie is working hard on the conversion right now. Other authors may be receiving their rights back as well, so more ebooks may be on the way.

And for those that haven't even tried an ereader, I suggest you take a look at one as the prices have really dropped and Christmas is approaching. (wink) I bought the first generation Sony reader years ago and upgraded to a Nook this year. I loved both. There's nothing like carrying 100 books in your purse to make an avid reader happy. Not to mention purchasing a book at midnight while sitting on your couch because you can't wait to see what happens next in a series. The readers are electronic paper which means they don't strain your eyes like a computer screen can and you can adjust the size of the print ( for those of us who, uhem, are getting a little older).

All the digital books have new covers as the publisher owns the originals, so things will definitely look different. As I am not a cover artist in the least, I can claim a bald spot and a depletion of Coors Light from working with Photoshop. :) Check out my author website for more information, the new covers and links to buy.

And thanks so much to all of the loyal readers who have supported us here at Killer Fiction. We appreciate you more than you'll ever know!

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why we write

Latley, I have been stuck under a deadline of the worst kind. I'm working on my first hardcover mystery novel, and it's hard. Hecka hard. First off the words "break out book" have been thrown around, which is exciting... and totally terrifying. It's also my first mystery that will not be shelved in romance, which means as I'm writing it I'm constantly worried that I'm putting too much romance in... wait, now it has not enough... hold on, is that too much again? Yeah, I'm second guessing all over the place. And this is also the first book for a new publisher, and I really, really want to make a good first impression. All of this adds to pressure which adds to me staring at a blank screen with the words "looming deadline" running through my head. Not the best way to pump out a stellar book.

A good friend of mine, who is also a writer on a deadline that's been messing with her muse as well, recently sent me a link to a blog post called "Comfort Reading". I almost never send people off this blog with links to other blogs, but this post really spoke to me. Suddenly my writing wasn’t about making a good impression or the percentage of romance vs. mystery. It was about the readers. Who am I writing for? Why? What do I want to say to them?

The post is by Toni McGee Causey and was originally printed on the Murder She Writes blog. You can (and I highly suggest!) read the entire thing here: http://www.murdershewrites.com/tag/comfort-reading/

Here's an excerpt of my favorite part:

"Somewhere, there is a man, sitting in a hospital room. His wife has cancer, and he’s been there, every day, before and after work. Except now, he can be there full-time, since he’s lost his job. He’s spent days seeking help, trying to find a way to keep her there, to make sure she has the care she needs, when all of his benefits are gone. He’s filled out more paperwork in this one week than he’s done in a lifetime, and only barely understands half of what they’ve told him, if that.

"He’ll try to get a second mortgage for the house. Sell off the second car, trade his in for something cheaper. The savings–such as it is, there’s not much with two kids–is gone. The retirement will go next, and that might last a month, at this rate. They don’t qualify yet for any sort of Medicare or help. His sister is at his house, boxing up stuff to sell. Doing it while the kids are at school, so they don’t see."

"He’ll slump down in the God-awful chair they have in the room, punching a pillow that one of the orderlies found for him, and he’ll crack open that favorite paperback he grabbed on his way out the house this morning. For a little while, he gets to be a hero. He gets to fight crime or solve problems, save the world or save the girl. For a little while, he gets to have hope.

"Write a story for him."

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Go Ahead, Get Angry

Recently I got an email from a woman who had read So Much For My Happy EndingSo Much For My Happy Ending.  She wanted to thank me for “writing her life.” Like my protagonist (April) this reader had been married to a man who is bipolar and refusing treatment.  People who have this particular disorder who refuse treatment can quite literally destroy the lives of the people they love and are usually emotionally and/or physically abusive (although frequently not intentionally). She felt that the book helped her understand that it was okay to be angry at her ex even though she also felt some compassion for him and that she was not obligated to stay with him.

I’ve gotten other emails like hers about So Much For My Happy Ending.  It seems like there are a lot of “Aprils” out there. But what struck me about her email was the part about it being “okay” to be angry.  I would take it a step further.  It’s not only okay to be angry, it’s necessary.  People don’t leave abusive relationships unless they get angry.  Fear keeps people in their place and if all you feel is sorry for your abuser then you’ll try to be a martyr. Only anger will actually get you out the door.  

In fact anger is frequently the agent of change. America wouldn’t even be a country if a bunch of angry settlers didn’t decide that they’d had it up to here with the Brits taxing them without offering them representation.  To this day the most reliable voters are angry voters.  I have mixed feelings about that as I wrote about here but that doesn’t make it less true.  Anger has a bad wrap but on a whole it can be an awesome motivator.

But of course the key is to keep the anger controlled.  It’s okay to be angered into taking action but you don’t want to allow your anger to make you completely reckless and you really don’t want it to make you illogical.  People who know how to manage their anger (and managing anger isn’t the same thing as dismissing it or repressing it) know that living well is the best revenge. People who don’t know how to manage their anger get taken to small claims court for slashing their cheating boyfriend’s tires.

And of course once the anger has moved you to take necessary action, once you’ve effected the change you craved and you are on the path to living a better life and once you’re truly secure with the decisions you’ve made, then you can let the anger go.  When the anger has served its purpose you won’t need it anymore and you’ll know when that moment comes.  But don’t chastise yourself for being angry when you’ve been mistreated or someone has messed with your life, even if that wasn’t their intent. If the anger is moving your life in a better direction, if it’s keeping you from getting depressed and it’s motivating you to take needed risks that you were too afraid to take before then embrace it and yes, control it, but don’t deny it and don’t feel ashamed of it.  

Just be sure you take the living-well revenge-path rather than the tire-slashing one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hump? What Hump...

Well...hellllllllo there!

I am actually writing this on Sunday. Monday, my hump goes under the knife. That's right, the ganglion cyst that has taken up residence on my right wrist, is outta here. It's huge - about 1.5 inches in diameter and the bastard hurts (obviously, my ganglion cyst is male).

Anyway, the surgery will be followed by a blissful, Vicodin-induced coma till Thursday. Wait...Mr. A tells me it won't actually be a coma - that these are just pain pills.

He's wrong. It's all in how you abuse them that matters. That is the secret to a good coma.

So on Friday, the doctor's office calls with the following instructions:
  • Stop eating by 7am that morning - something I'm not at all sure is possible to do. I can guarantee you I'll be eating everything in the kitchen at 6:45am.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing - I don't get this one. I could understand not wearing long sleeves, but I wasn't planning on showing up to the surgery dressed like one of the People of Walmart. Makes me wonder what they have seen to make up a rule like that.

  • No jewelry whatsoever - I asked about earrings - no, a necklace - no, my tongue stud, no (okay, so I don't have tongue stud, but I was rather curious).

What exactly is going to happen to me that I need to wear a mumu and no jewelry, I wonder. Apparently I will swell up the size of a Macy's parade float.

And I really don't care as long as I lose the hump and get 36hours of sleep and hopefully, a pain pill addiction.

I'll check in on the blog Wednesday, but I have to warn you that I won't be responsible for anything I say.
Could be interesting.

The Assassin

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

He doesn’t need me anymore. Or so he says.

Well, I never thought I’d hear these words from my husband’s mouth, but he said them. I was working in my office, trying to make my deadline when he walked in. He stopped in front of my desk, looked me right in the eyes and said, “I don’t need you anymore.”

I stopped writing, stared up at him through my lashes. Now, I’ll admit my chest tightened just a little bit. “Really,” I asked. Then I saw the evidence on his cheek, and I knew exactly what led to this conversation. And it wasn’t lipstick from another woman, either.

“Hmm…” I said. “So your fried chicken turned out that good, huh?”

“Yup, it’s awesome.” He had a little flour smeared on his face, his smile was chockfull of male ego, a smile he reserves for special occasions when he thinks he’s accomplished something really extraordinary. (He can be good at extraordinary, too, but that’s a different blog.)

“I guess I don’t get any credit that I told you how to cook it, huh?” I asked.

“Nope, you should never share your recipes, because all that matters is that now I can cook it for myself. Which means you are no longer indispensible. ”

“You know. . . ” I grinned and offered him my sassy look. “I do more around here than just cook. You sure you don’t need me? And hey, how about we do some bartering.”

He hesitated, but, what can I say, he must have been really hungry, because he told me. “I don’t know. It’s finger-licking good. ”

Feeling slightly rejected, I wasn’t taking his word about his grand accomplishment. I popped up from my desk and went to sample this piece of fried meat that had led to my husband’s flour-smudged face and hurtful words.

Men, can you believe them? I mean, I tell this man how to do it. Explain the pitfalls—make sure the grease is hot enough, make sure the chicken is coated really well--and he manages to fry up a couple of breasts and he thinks he doesn’t need me anymore. And here’s the really terrible thing. His assessment of his accomplishment was dead-on. It was darn good fried chicken. And to be honest, he’d recently mastered rice, cream potatoes, and jiffy cake topped with homemade icing.

Yup, Mr. Craig has turned into Mr. Mom. Why, you may ask? Well, since I’m writing two series, pulling at least ten hours a day, at least six days a week, he’s stepped up to the plate. Or rather, he stepped up to prepare the stuff that fills the plates.

Now, while I’ll admit that he’s mastered some fine Southern cuisine, I’m still working on some of the other Mr. Mom job requirements. Funny thing is that later that day, his Mr. Mom status dropped a notch. I gave him the duty of washing the bed sheets. Now, he’s no stranger to working the washing machine, so I couldn’t see how he could fail. But that evening, when I crawled into bed and I reached for my pillow . . . well, I noticed that my pillow had arms.

Mr. Mom had accidentally put one of his white T-shirts on the pillow instead of a pillow case. “How could you not see it was a T-shirt?” I asked chuckling.

His answer was even funnier than the pillow. “I must have been too busy watching Oprah.“

We both lay in bed laughing and right then, I reminded him of something else he needed me for. And don’t go assuming anything here. I mean, he needed me and, I’ll even admit it, I need him, for the laughter. Oh, the other stuff is nice too, but there is nothing like having a good ol’ fashioned laugh-until-you-hurt session with someone you love. We’re coming up on our twenty-six year anniversary and let me tell you, we can still make each other laugh. And that’s even better than fried chicken.

So what’s going on in your world lately? What crazy thing has someone in your life done? Are you laughing enough? Are you enjoying the company of someone you love? I hope-- even if you’re like me and working too many hours--that you can say you love what you’re doing. I hope that you still find the time to count your blessings, to laugh, to occasionally indulge in good food, have a little wine, and even better, some great company.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Banned and Burned – Books People Love to Hate

I’ve read books that seemed to serve no purpose other than to enrage, insult, or disgust the reader. I’d never call for these books to be banned – freedom of speech is a precious right! – but I have questioned what the author hoped to accomplish by spewing such worthless crap. I recently read an article in the Texas Library Journal about “challenged” books – books that people have called on to be banned in schools and libraries and some of which people have publicly burned. Among them were two novels that I’d read and re-read during my adolescent years, both by author Judy Blume.

The first – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – featured a pubescent heroine of mixed-religion parents learning about spirituality, boys, menstruation, and life in general. In other words, the character goes through the exact same things every adolescent girl does – PUBERTY. Oooh, scary! Ban it now!

The other – Forever – is admittedly on a different scale. The main character in that novel, a teenaged girl, loses her virginity to her boyfriend on a colorful rug. Teen sex – yikes! I can’t for the life of me remember the main character’s name, but I remember the boyfriend’s name was Michael. But what struck me then, and has stuck with me to this day, was that the couple eventually broke up and when the heroine later ran into Michael again she felt very apart from him, the closeness gone. If anything, the lesson of the book is that a girl shouldn’t give up her virginity easily because the boy who means everything to her today may be only a vague memory later on.

Fear seems to drive people to cry for censorship. But isn’t it better to open a dialogue and confront the controversial issues head on? It’s only by openly talking about them that information can be shared.

As I ease into my forties, I’m hoping to find out that Judy Blume has written a book about a woman going through menopause. I don’t think I can go through it without her!

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Mouths of Babes

My son has always had a knack for saying the right thing at the wrong time. For example, his first week of pre-school, the teacher told all the kids it was time to clean up the blocks and get ready for quiet time. Did my son clean up quietly? No. I picked up a block, threw it on the floor and yelled, “Dammit!” Which of course, prompted every other three-year old within ear shot to start a chorus of “dammit”s. Sigh. I told his teacher I was so sorry, I had no idea where he’d learned such language, probably from his grandmother. (Sorry, Mom!)

But things have gotten only more fun with age.

Fast forward several years… Every morning I drive my son the ten minutes from our house to his school. Usually, I’m still in a caffeine deprived state at that time, me and early mornings not having the healthiest of relationships. Such was the case this past week when we were stopped at a red light on the way to school, and The Boy looks up at the building on the right and asks, “What’s an Elks Lodge?”

Me: I dunno. Some charity organization for retired men.
The Boy: Like, old men?
Me: Sure.
The Boy: So, what do the old men do there?
Me: I dunno. Sit around and talk about their prostates?

As you can tell, I’m kinda snarky pre-caffeine.
So, a couple days later I’m in the car with The Boy and my mom on the way to do some shopping. We pass by the same route, and The Boy pipes up from the backseat, “Look, Grandma, it’s the Elks Lodge, where old men sit around and talk about their prostitutes!”

Um, yeah. Guess I can’t blame that one on grandma, huh?

Okay, lay it on me - what crazy embarrassing things have your kids said?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Catching Up and Moving Ahead

I really hate to post a picture of myself at the beginning of my 'Comeback Blog' but I kind of wanted to remind you all what I look like. It's been a while. And I'm thrilled to be back. But I need to play a bit of catch-up.

First off--as all writers like to do--permit me to set the scene. I'm sitting in my rather cold office having frugally set the furnace to come on at 60 degrees. I've got my Iowa State University sweatshirt on (two offspring attending that fine institution) and a warm pair of sweatpants. My office window curtains are open and I'm looking out over a fall scene complete with blue skies, sunshine, and falling leaves. I have Christmas music on in the background (Silver Bells at the moment) and a nice hot cup of vanilla tea to warm me. I'm also blowing my nose every ten seconds from the crud I just caught. Glamourous, huh?

Now for the catching up part.

This spring our family was one of many families who received the devastating, heart-stopping diagnosis of cancer. And it pretty much stopped me in my tracks--especially in the writing realm--as all my energy and time was directed into helping and supporting my family member as she courageously battled cancer as well as helping my entire family through this difficult time. When I wasn't at the hospital or providing medical support, I was working extra hours to build up compensatory time to use for medical appointments. It's been a long, difficult journey, but several weeks ago we got the incredible news that the cancer is in full remission! In fact, last weekend we had a 'Cancer Cure Costume Gala' to celebrate the awesome news. I even dressed up!

If you couldn't guess who I'm dressed as, I'll tell you. It's 'Mrs. White' from the movie version of Clue. It was great fun--all the more so because of why we were celebrating. While we won't finish up treatment for another three weeks, I felt it was time to get myself back in the swing of things and get headed ahead on another long, difficult trek: the writing journey. Since we've been fortunate to add such wonderful, talented authors to our roster here at Killer Fiction, blogging every other Thursday is now going to be very doable for me. And, as I said before, I'm just thrilled to be back.

Moving Ahead

As some of you may recall, in March of this year I began the Great Agent Hunt, having terminated my agreement with my former agent. That hunt, however, had to be put on the back burner while we dealt with medical issues. However, I am beginning that search anew. For those of you wondering when/if another Calamity Jayne book will be out, the answer is 'I hope so.' Events relating to my former publisher are still in flux and I should know more in the next couple of weeks about the future of this series. Meanwhile, with the help of fellow Killer Fiction author turned mentor Jana DeLeon (a/k/a 'Deadly DeLeon) I am getting ready to submit a project to Harlequin Intrigue. While it has taken me awhile to get used to the shorter, tighter story structure, I am enjoying the challenge and the opportunity to explore a different direction with my writing. More on that soon, I hope.

Meanwhile, I continue to work full-time in legislative and judicial security and enjoy the oppportunity to see state government at work up close and personal. And. Yeah. The stories I'll tell...;)

So. I'm grateful today. I'm grateful for beautiful autumn days, jazz music, and flavored tea. I'm grateful for the opportunity to once again do something I love so much and have missed so dearly. I'm grateful to God for His care and strength and healing. And I'm grateful for caring friends and loving family.

Boy Howdy! It's great to be back in the saddle again!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Confessions of a book addict

They say the first step to curing an addiction is admitting you have a problem. So okay - I’ll say it. My bookshelves are out of control.

It’s not like anything has changed recently. I’ve always been a book addict. But it used to be that whenever I’d need more room, I bought more shelves. But then the shelves in our bedroom were full. So I moved some books into boxes in my son’s room. That worked out (mostly) unless I absolutely needed to read Pride and Prejudice at eleven o’clock at night, at which point I’d be shuffling through my sleeping son’s closet with the teeny tiny key light that I got for free five years ago at a festival and it *still* works (go AT&T for your choice in flimsy plastic key lights).

Anyhow, I have no more room in my son’s closet (even a four-year-old needs room for a wardrobe) so I moved onto my daughter’s closet. She has these high shelves that she can’t reach anyway. We don’t want them to go to waste, right? Really, I was just being economical by stacking about a hundred or so books on her shelf. Forget that I didn’t go through them for content. My bad, since last week I caught six-year-old Maddie “reading” an Ellora’s Cave title called Manaconda. And yes, the cover had a sexy guy backside with a big snake curled around it. Maddie claimed it was her “favorite” book about snakes. I was just glad she’s still on basic spelling, words like “ran” and “saw.”

So what is a book addict to do? Short of letting go? What do you do when your bookshelves get out of control?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My Favorite Thing About Writing...

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I love being a writer…I mean, what’s not to love? I get to sit at my computer all day wearing my pajamas and eating bonbons whilst playing spider solitaire in between writing sessions. How many other people can use the word whist and come off as witty and not pretentious? Let’s face it, you pretty much have to be a writer in order to pull that off.

One of my favorite things about writing is research. Now, if you’re picturing me in some dark and dusty library, you’re way off base. No, I have my own form of research. I like to immerse myself in it 100%.

A little over a month ago I sat in my office trying to work. It was a Sunday morning and the whole family—three teenagers, the dog, my three-legged cat, my husband and even my daughter’s best friend and our neighbor— saw fit to join me. I typed away, writing my book and doing my best to ignore the fact that everyone was doing the utmost to make it an impossible endeavor, my husband piped up. “I have this plane ticket to use by the 12th or we’ll lose it. Robin, maybe you should take a weekend trip to Boise.” My head peeked up over my monitor. “Really?” I asked. My fingers flew across the keyboard, bringing up the airline’s website. One quick call to my best friend in Boise and a ticket was purchased for the weekend two weeks hence. After all, I had a conference that next weekend, and really, the only thing better than a conference weekend is a research weekend.

My next series of books, Domestic Gods Gone Wild take place in and around Boise, so I really did have research to do, so off to Boise I flew. My friend picked me up at the airport and we headed down Capital Boulevard toward downtown. It was a beautiful fall evening and everyone was out and about enjoying First Thursday. We ate a delightful meal outside the Bitter Creek Ale House, drinking in the beer…um I mean atmosphere. When my friend asked what I wanted to do during my stay. I told her that I had to go to Humpin’ Hannah’s—the real bar my fictional favorite character, Karma Kincaid owns in my books. This was work, you know. I did my best to look put upon as I watched the people come and go. I breathed the fresh dry air and thought I never wanted to leave.

A few months before, I had been going over my copy edits for Yours for the Taking, and it occurred to me that since I planned to have Karma own Humpin’ Hannah’s—the absolute coolest bar in Boise—I might need the permission of the owners. I called my editor and sure enough, she confirmed my fear. I racked my brain to come up with another name for the bar I loved so much, but they all paled in comparison. You gotta’ admit that Humpin’ Hannah’s is a pretty amazing name. So, I picked up the phone and called the bar to ask the owners if I could have permission to use the bar’s name in the book.

Darcy, Todd, and Dick, the owners of Humpin’ Hannah’s, were wonderful and gave me permission, thus putting my editor’s mind at ease. I promised I’d send them a box of books, and buy some of the Humpin’ Hannah’s t-shirts to give away on my blog tour. Todd sent a release to my editor and made me promise to stop in the next time I was in town.

That very next day, my friend and I headed to Hannah’s to fulfill my promise. I had an advanced readers copy of Yours for the Taking in which Humpin’ Hannah’s was featured and containing my thanks for the use of their wonderful bar in the acknowledgements. I walked under the Humpin’ Hannah’s flag I remembered so well, and into the brick front bar on Main Street—one of my favorite places in Boise. I went right up to the bar and asked if Todd was there. A nice looking-guy smiled and shook his head. “No, Todd’s not working today.” I was bummed. I mean, there I was all the way from Maryland and the first time up at base I struck out. I put the book down on the bar. “I’m Robin Kaye, the author, and I’m in town for a few days…” The man turned beat red. “Oh my God.” He said. “I’m Todd. I thought you were here to sell me something. I almost told you my name was Ernie, he’s our janitor.”

Todd, Dick, and Darcy, were all in attendance that afternoon which was an oddity.

I took pictures, had a few drinks with the regulars, and even scored hockey tickets to a Stealhead game! The Stealheads won 5 – 3, there were a lot of good fights (the sign of a great hockey game) and even few gushers which was awesome because we had seats in the second row on the center line just above the players so we saw everything.

I rounded out the weekend driving through Boise, looking longingly at the foothills and wishing I had a few more days to take a trip in the mountains. We watched the Boise State Bronco’s annihilate Toledo 57-14 in Bronco Stadium—the stadium my husband built,
ate at Goldy’s and Bar Gernika in the Basque area, and I longed to move back.

Like after all great research trips, I came home with a lot of new ideas, a bunch of T-shirts to give away on my blog tour which begins next month, and a renewed sense that I am truly doing what I’m meant to be doing; writing in my pajamas and dreaming of other places I want to research. Next Stop: Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Girl's Writer's Weekend

Nine years ago when I started writing, I met two girls at the local romance writing group and we become critique partners and best friends. Thus ensued many, many years of getting together at a hotel the night before the romance writer's meeting and spending the night drinking wine and talking shop. It was incredible fun. Then one of the girls moved out of state. Yeah, I'm happy that her husband got a better job, and the family's quality of life improved, and the grandkids are near their grandparents, but I still mourn the loss of our Friday nights.

So last week, the out-of-town girlfriend came to visit for girl's writer's weekend. The other girlfriend had purchased a lake house and we headed out there on Friday for our writing retreat. Here's a shot of the deck where we spent much time:
So just the three of us and three glorious days of no responsibilities, no chores, no husbands and kids. (pets were optional) We had plenty of time to drink coffee, sip wine, watch movies, and most importantly, catch up on each others lives and talk about writing!

Because we were all in the same place and had one person's rough draft to critique, I suggested we critique openly with discussion of the sticking points we'd run into. That turned out to be a fabulous learning experience as we fed off each other to not only identify the problems with the rough draft, but come up with fabulous solutions. If only we were all in the same state and could do that weekly!

We had such a good time that we're going to try and do a writer's trip at least once a year. We've already come up with a list of places we'd like to go. The only downside of the weekend was that it ended far too quickly. :(

So how was your weekend? Do you have girl's getogethers?

Deadly DeLeon