Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Redux

Awww...the kiss! So did everyone else love the Duchess of Cambridge's dress as much as I did?

I suspect that Fergie's daughters may have been protesting their mother's exclusion from today's festivities by wearing the most atrocious things they could find on the top of their head. But that's neither here nor there.

Sorry Gemma, I know we've agreed to an arranged marriage between our kids, but if Kate and William have a son within the next year, I'm going to have to enroll Amber in junior year study abroad at the University of St. Andrews, since the prince will likely just be starting his freshman year...oh, about 19 years from now. You understand, right?

And did you know that the obession with All Things Princess can begin as early as 16 months old? As we were driving to daycare this morning, I asked Amber if she saw a princess on TV this morning. Her response? "Yesh." I then asked if she thought the princess was pretty? She giggled and nodded.

Switching topics slightly from today's Royal Wedding, I released a book last week! Yay! Have you gotten your copy of Codename: Dancer yet?

~~ Amanda "Baby Face" Brice

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping The Love Alive

Several years ago I saw a documentary titled, Women Of Mystery: Three Writers Who Forever Changed Detective Fiction. It featured authors Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller.   Grafton spoke of a time when she realized that she was no longer fully in tune with or connected to her main character, Kinsey Millhone.  She corrected that problem by spending days walking around the house swearing like a sailor the way Kinsey might.  In doing so she successfully channeled...or to be more accurate, re-channeled, her character. Clearly this is her method and it works spectacularly well for her. I can't tell you how much I respect that. But I can tell you right now, that wouldn't f**cking work for me.

And yet it's a problem that I'm familiar with.  When you have a series featuring the same characters you are always in danger of having those characters become tired. You see it in television series all the time. Viewers will love a series for the first few seasons but by season three or four the whole thing feels stale. The only way to keep a series alive is to keep the vitality of the characters alive and to make sure that they have emotional a VERY slow rate. The last thing you want to do is solve all their problems before the series has come to a close. Usually when a character viewers/readers have come to love becomes...well, boring, it's because the writer (be that an author or a TV writer) is bored with him/her.  It's an occupational hazard. After all, writers, like other people who work within creative fields, tend to crave novelty.  So if you're writing for the same characters year after year you need to find a way to stay connected to them and, most importantly, interested in them. I'll admit that after I wrote my fifth Sophie book, Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress I became worried that I was in danger of that happening to me. Writing Vows was fun but could I keep my Sophie and her friends vibrant and fresh for a sixth book?  I wasn't sure.

Sex, Murder and a Double LatteAnd then Lifetime contracted me to write a pilot for a Sophie series. The process of creating Sophie for a new medium totally revitalized her for me.  It was like a remarriage.  There I was with my characters passionately renewing my vows.  Like a new bride the whole process made me giddy and suddenly I realized that Sophie is as beautiful to me as she was on the first day we met.  I hadn't necessarily anticipated that happening but it makes sense. If you crave novelty but need to write for the same characters the best way to keep things exciting is to play with the format. That way when you go back to the old format you do so with a new perspective and energy.  I have no idea if Lifetime will want to shoot the pilot or not but I do know that writing it will make the next Sophie book that much better for both me and my readers. If the series doesn't get picked up I'll look into different ways to keep Sophie cutting-edge and exciting for me. Perhaps I should write a short story about her and her friends between books.  The story wouldn't even have to be a mystery, it could just be about an adventure she has with her friends.  I actually have several other ideas as well and over time I'll try them all out.  But for now there's no rush. Sophie  has recaptured my heart and I really believe that ours is a lasting love.

Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm Not Sure I Can Do This...

I know, that's a strange thing for me to say. I'm the woman who once had a six-foot long pet iguana named Cedric...who rescued a crow who's feet were frozen and took care of him until he was okay...who rescued mice from my cats at the old farmhouse we lived in...who thinks praying mantids are the most awesome creatures out there...who tried to find a live dung beetle for my girl scout troop's Egypt presentation...who has told her girl scouts for years that the various snakes, bats and mice they encountered at camp were babies (they weren't) rendering them suddenly "adorable"...who attached dozens of locust carapaces to a friend's (who must not be named) screen door when they were out of town...

But this might be the one thing I can't do.

Margaret turns 13 Sunday. And she wants a tarantula. A Chilean Rose tarantula like the one we all held at the bug museum in Denver last winter.

Remember, this is the kid who also wants a capybara (world's largest rodent) and a miniature anteater - why? Because we saw stuff on youtube.

This is also the kid who has 3 dogs, 2 cats and 2 guinea pigs. She's actually a lot like me.

I used to have arachnaphobia. Spiders terrified me. It wasn't until I had a bizarre, psychedellic situation with a pregnant wolf spider at 3am that I stopped fearing them. (Alcohol with a denial chaser really helped.)

I ordered a book on the Care and Feeding of Tarantulas. It didn't help. Did you know that tarantulas have OHMYGOD HUGE FANGS??? Oh sure, they rarely bite. That's what they all say, but I've seen enough movies from the 1950's where, when exposed to radiation, giant tarantuals roam the countryside, eating tall, fabulous redheads.

And a tarantula in captivity can live for 20 years??? My husband says, "Oh, good. She can take it to college with her." I don't believe for one minute that my daughter will do that. Then I'm stuck with a hairy spider until I turn 64. Insert shudder here.

And then, well, I should be more mature than this but tarantualas are ugly. I know, it's not their fault and I shouldn't blame them. But I'm me, and I do.

As the day draws closer (and my husband is out of town) I wonder if I can suck it up and do it. I feel my arachnaphobia coming back...

The Assassin

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Faye Hughes

Happy Tuesday! Today, I’m pleased to present my non-fiction writing partner Faye Hughes as our guest blogger at Killer Fiction. Faye is also one of critique partners, and partners in crime. She knows most of all my sins and my weaknesses, and likes me anyway. She’s one of my cheerleaders, and the type of person who gives me a good kick in the pants when I need it. And today she’s blogging about meeting goals and she just might give you a good kick in the pants.

Also, today at I have a guest blogger. Our own Amanda Brice and she's giving away a copy of her YA. To sweeten the deal I'll be giving away a copy of Born at Midnight as well. So make sure you pop over.

And now . . . get ready to for agood swift kick in the pants about goals. Take it away Faye!!!


Okay, quick question—do you have a goal that you’d like to attain? And by “goal,” I mean something that you can actually achieve through hard work and dedication, rather than through a combination of blind luck, blackmail and the right alignment of the planets. Hey, I’m a huge fan of both blind luck and astrology. (I’m keeping mum on the subject of blackmail.) But saying you want to write a book that will land on the New York Times’ best seller list or go on a date George Clooney . . . well, they’re all laudable quests but they’re not the kind of realistic goals over which we have sole control. And this blog is about reaching our realistic goals.

Now, as some of you may know, Christie and I are faithful practitioners of the Make It Happen philosophy. We believe that we can achieve any attainable goal—writing a book, losing weight, getting more balance in our lives—as long as we put in the work needed to achieve success. In short, we have to . . . Make. It. Happen.

It’s a powerful concept.

What’s more, it works.

The key is to do something each and every day that will bring you closer to reaching that goal.

For example, say your goal is to lose 20 pounds before you leave for your summer vacation. If you’re like most people, you’ll develop a diet that you’ll follow—either your own or one through Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or some other weight loss program. You’ll go grocery shopping for the “right” foods and make sure you get rid of all the “wrong” foods in your pantry. You’ll decide to incorporate some form of exercise into your weight loss plan. Ditto for drinking plenty of water.

Now, those are all great but they’re more “big picture.” And reaching any goal is all about the small steps you take every day. Small steps like . . . taking a 10-minute walk break at work. Or parking a little farther away from the entrance whenever you go shopping. They may seem insignificant at first glance but, trust me, each of these small steps will bring you closer to achieving that goal of losing 20 pounds.

And the same principle holds true for other goals, too.

For writers, the goal may be starting or finishing a book and then submitting it to editors and agents. There are lots of small steps we can take to Make It Happen, too. We can make a commitment to write a certain number of words a day, or write for a certain amount of time. We can read a how-to book. We can take a writing class. We can attend a writer’s retreat, or even just go to a monthly meeting with other writers. There are lots of small steps we can take.

Right now, I’m working on a new book and one of my small steps toward finishing the book, aka Making It Happen, is to teach an online writing class. The class is called Recipe for Success: Cooking up a Great First Chapter, and it’ll be held at NEORWA, the North East Ohio RWA chapter, beginning on Monday, May 2nd. (For info on the class, go here.) It’s an online class that Christie and I have done jointly, and it incorporates much of the advice we offered in our book, The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel, along with our thoughts, some inspirational videos and other special content. Christie is locked in her deadline cave so I’ll be doing this one solo.

And I’m so excited.

Because while I know the students in the class will (hopefully) get some insight into how to make their first chapters better, I will be getting inspiration to finish my WIP.

Sure, it’s a small step.

But sometimes, taking those small steps each day is all we need.

So, what about you? What realistic goals do you have? And what are you going to do today to achieve them?

Monday, April 25, 2011

There Goes Peter Cottontail! by Diane Kelly

No matter what your religious persuasion, I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend!

Easter weekend got me thinking. Well, actually, it got me singing. The hubby and kids weren’t too amused by my nonstop rendition of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” Yep, I’m tone deaf. But hey, I figure having to listen to my awful singing is payback for the fact that all of them got to sleep in on the Good Friday holiday and I had to get up at six a.m. to let the dogs out. Grrr….

At any rate, singing about Peter Cottontail got me thinking about the Easter Bunny, which got me thinking about beliefs and believability. While on my journey to publication, I entered many contests and worked with a couple of agents. While the vast majority of those who read my work loved the humor and crazy antics of my heroine, IRS Criminal Investigator Tara Holloway, occasionally I’d run across someone who noted that, although they enjoyed the story, things could never happen exactly as presented in my book.

My response? Of course they couldn’t!

Reality is dull. Boring. Predictable. People generally behave in the real world, restrain themselves from saying what they truly feel and hold back from doing risky, crazy things.

But where’s the fun in that?

When I got my first revision letter from my editor, she said how much she enjoyed my over-the-top humorous scenes and asked for more of them. I squealed in delight. She’d given me free rein to put in lots more funny scenarios! There’s nothing I love more than writing a totally wacky scene. And since my books are intended as pure entertainment, not a literary life-changing event, plausibility can take a back seat to fun.

That said, I have watched movies and read books where reality was suspended a bit too much for me and I just couldn’t buy into the story. I was a bit disappointed when the movie “The Firm” was released. Though the book followed proper legal procedures, as an attorney I was bothered by some of the legal inaccuracies in the film. My husband, who is a biochemist, didn’t enjoy “Jurassic Park” as much as I did because he had a hard time buying the alleged process by which the dinosaur DNA was extracted from insects preserved in tree sap and grown into actual animals.

For those of you looking for an entertaining read, I hope you’ll find my debut novel to be one. In book #1 – “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure” – you’ll meet my heroine, Tara Holloway, a special agent for IRS Criminal Investigations. For her third birthday, her dad presented her with a BB gun. Being a daddy’s girl and having a gun nut for a father, Tara naturally became an expert marksman. She’s able to shoot with drop-dead accuracy, a skill that comes in handy several times throughout the story.

Is my story 100% believable? Probably not. But is it fun? People tell me it is.

Here’s a question for us to ponder: How plausible does a story have to be in order to engage a reader?

Diane Kelly’s debut novel, “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure,” will be released on November 1st and is available for preorder now at the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders websites.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Téa Trelawny

Hi, Guys, and Happy Saturday! I am so pleased to welcome my good friend and critique partner, Téa Trelawny to Killer Fiction today. Téa, take it away!



Many of you may not realize that my friend and Killer Fiction member Christie Craig is a world-class photographer in addition to being a great writer. But I’m sure that none of her photography subjects have ever asked her to do a boudoir portrait for them. You know the kind of portrait I’m talking about: skimpy clothes, sexy setting, and a photograph that is meant for only one other pair of eyes. Are you daring enough to have one of these photo sessions?

The heroine of my latest story finds the courage. Julie Monroe is determined to seduce Jason Redner, the photographer who’s been taking pictures out at her country inn for a marketing brochure. But all of her previous attempts to establish a personal relationship have failed, so she decides to tackle him on his own ground: his photography studio.

Arriving at his studio one autumn night wearing nothing but a skimpy teddy under her trench coat, she asks the sexy photographer for a ‘special’ portrait session. Then she proceeds to seduce him through the lens of his camera. Jason resists at first, believing she wants the photo for another male friend. When he realizes what she really intends, the seduction turns super steamy on both sides of the camera. The result is an intimate photography session that really rocks.

Because this is an erotic romance, I can only give you a little taste here of what you’ll find in ‘Exposure’. Come on over to to discover all the details of what could happen in such an intimate photography session…if you dare.

She tried to follow his directions, but the pose felt awkward and she couldn’t figure out exactly what he wanted her to do with her hands. After a moment, he sighed and stepped from behind the camera. As he approached her, her pulse quickened. Then he gripped her shoulders and turned her so that the middle of her back was against the bedpost. The wood felt cool against her skin where it was bare above the teddy…or maybe it was because of the heat inside her.

But his hands—on her bare shoulders his hands certainly didn’t feel cool. Hot, actually, and a little damp, as if his hands were sweating. Surely that was an encouraging sign.

Sliding his hands down her arms, he caught her wrists and positioned her hands behind her back. The pose had her thrusting her breasts forward just enough to graze the front of his shirt.

“There,” he said, backing off quickly. Returning to the camera, he peered through the viewfinder. A moment passed. “Very nice,” he said, his voice cracking slightly on the last word. He coughed awkwardly and snapped a couple of shots.

“Oh, no,” Julie said, encouraged by his apparent discomfort. “This isn’t nearly sexy enough.”

He raised his head to look at her over the camera. “How sexy do you want it?”

“I want it to look so sexy that my man can’t help but get hard when he looks at the picture.”

Jason went very still, and Julie felt his gaze boring into her. She had never spoken to a man like this before and she found that she liked it.

‘Exposure’ by Téa Trelawny is available now in ebook for the Kindle at . If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can download a free Kindle reading app for your PC, MAC or iPad at —just click a few keys and you’ll be reading in under a minute.

And keep up with me at or on Facebook, MySpace…all the usual places! Happy reading, everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

My PubIt! Interview

This week I was asked by Barnes & Noble to do a promotional Q&A video for their PubIt! program. I have several of my books available on the BN site through PubIt!, and my experience with them so far has been fantastic, so I happily said yes.

First snag: the film crew wanted to come shoot the video at my house.

My house is small, filled with baby toys (not to mention a precocious baby!), and, while I try to keep it tidy, my recent deadlines have meant I’ve left the cleaning up to the boys. (You can imagine how that has gone.) Luckily, my mom lives nearby and graciously offered to have the film crew come to her house instead. She even had her house cleaned the day before. Score!

Second snag: BN set the date for my shoot while I was on vacation in San Diego. I was planning to return home on Sunday… and they scheduled the shoot for Monday.

Big Scary Lights

Gah! One morning to get camera-ready? I have two small kids. I usually need more time than that to get standing-in-line-at-Starbucks-ready. Luckily, I do have my PhD in Power Shopping. I told the man he was on kid duty and hit the nail salon first thing in the morning. Got a killer manicure, ran to the beauty supply store for fab on-camera make-up, ran to the drug store for a 2 hour teeth whitening kit, then hit the mall (with Whitestrips in place) for a new outfit. Unfortuntely, I didn’t stop at home for my coupons, so ended up paying a really horribly high full price amount for the outfit, but so worth it. (Business expense, right?)

I then packed all my stuff up and headed to Mom’s where I spent the next hour practicing my interview answers to myself over and over and over and over…

More Scary Lights
 The film crew arrived early, and they were fantastic! They set up all their stuff in the living room, including some very large, very intimidating lights. (gulp) We did a quick sound check (I felt so Hollywood!), then the interviewer told me to go ahead and do my introduction.

Third snag: Introduction?! I didn’t know I had to do one of those! I had nothing prepared! I stared dumbly at the interviewer and asked, “Um, what introduction?”

“Just tell us about you and your books.”

Right. Sure. I know who I am and what I write, right?

Only it was really hard to remember with those big lights shining down on me and that camera staring me in the face, film rolling, recording my every tongue trip. Three flubbed attempts later, I think I finally got the name of my High Heels series right. (“Spy Heels… wait no, In High Heels… no, I mean High Heels Mysteries. What kind of series? It’s the romantic comedic… I mean romantic comedy mysterious… um, do all of those lights have to be on?”)

Finally we got to the questions that I actually recognized and actually had answers for, and things went a little more smoothly. For all the freaking out I did, the interview only took 20 minutes, and then the film crew was packing up. They were just taking all their evil lights out to their car again when…

Bird in a Box

Fourth snag: … a bird flew in the door. Right in the front door! It flew into the living room and slammed its little bird-brained head into the back windows. Then slammed into the front windows. Back to the back windows again. We all freaked, grabbed brooms, paper, a couple cardboard boxes and me (in super high heels, mind you), my mom, the interviewer, and the cameraman all chased the bird around the living room, trying to coax it outside again. Finally it slammed into a window hard enough to stun itself and we were able to scoop it off the floor, into a box, and set it outside. (Luckily, the box was empty when we checked again a few minutes later, so he did recover and fly away. I’m pretty sure he’s blogging to his bird friends right now about what a crazy experience it was.)

But even with all the snags, I’m told the footage actually came out okay. I’m not sure yet when the interview will be live on the Barnes &Noble site, but I’ll be sure to link it when it is!

~ Trigger Happy Halliday

P.S. SPYING IN HIGH HEELS is currently the #1 bestselling free Kindle book in the UK! Does that make me an “international bestseller?”  ;)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Title Trials

Like most authors, I have my own writing process. I utilize a plotting method that incorporates elements of seat-of-the-pants plotting, as well as story board visuals and chapter outlines. My method isn't pretty, but I get the job done.

And, again, like most authors, I have my idiosyncracies. And one of them is wreaking havoc with my writing productivity. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I'm working on a new proposal for Harlequin Intrigue. I'm doing the requisite character work, plot development, and am getting close to having the necessary word count for the proposal. The only thing I don't have is...a title.

Now this might not seem all that dire. I'm sure many perfectly wonderful manuscripts have been written with the word UNTITLED in the header.

Just not mine.

I've always had a working title for all my books.

Until now.

And it really irked me just looking at the bloody word in the header.


I became so frustrated that I spent one afternoon trying to come up with a suitable title that wouldn't embarrass me when I submitted the proposal to Allison Lyons.

No luck.

I finally enlisted the help of my son. I gave him a somewhat abbreviated version of the storyline and we began a list of possible titles.

After about an hour we came up with one that works on two levels. The working title of my Harlequin Intrigue is MILES FROM HOME. (And if you guessed that one of the characters is named 'Miles' you earn a gold star.)

If you're a writer, I'd love to hear how you go about finding a title for your story. Are you like me and can't stand the sight of UNTITLED in the header and you sit and stew each time you open that document, or are you content to wait until the book is done and worry about the title then? As a reader, how important is the title of a book to you? Are there things you like to see in a book title or things that turn you off?

And now, I have absolutely no excuse not to finish that proposal. So off I go!

Have a super Thursday!

~Bullet Hole~

Tasted any good books lately?

By Jackie Gamber

BookTasting is my favorite way to merge my two highest passions: books and tea. After all, what is better than reading, except reading along with an ideal cuppa? That’s what BookTasting is all about: finding the perfect tea companion to enhance or complement a book for the best overall reading experience.

A fascinating element of tea drinking is the varieties that have evolved to create such a palette of choices from a single plant (Camellia Sinensis)--depending on the region, harvest season, and the fermentation process. Add to that the blends of herbs, flowers, or other flavors, and tea choices become almost endless! It can be serious fun to explore them.

And talk about fun! Angie Fox’s Accidental Demon Slayer starts off rollicking and never quits. Her main character, Lizzie Brown, meets her biological grandma for the first time on her thirtieth birthday. Not just any grandma--this one is a Harley-riding witch who seems to know more about Lizzie’s special powers than Lizzie herself. Lizzie has to learn quick, though! Because Hell itself knows about Lizzie’s powers, too, and is bent on taking her out.

I’ve chosen an oolong tea as companion, because oolong has a particularly loamy sort of scent, and, depending on fermentation, can even lean a little toward brackish – just the kind of thing you might get a whiff of from Grandma’s witch brew (kept conveniently in a Smuckers jar for easy hurtling). But don’t let the scent of oolong put you off tea drinking! The color tends toward pale, and the taste is mild and earthy-soothing. And Teavana manages to put some fun into their Yumberry Wulong blend, with big chunks of fruit and palate-pleasing berry. It even brews a fun pink color! I add a little bit of sweetener to soften the tea’s tannins.

The result? Teavana’s Yumberry Wulong brews a cup that hints toward dark depths of danger, but meets its match with charming berry attitude. Just what I enjoyed with Angie’s The Accidental Demon Slayer.

And the bonus is—the tea blend looks great in a Smuckers jar.

I’d love to hear your comments! You could win a jelly jar full of Teavana’s Yumberry Wulong, perfect aside Angie’s book. To enter, post your comment about your favorite book companion drink (hot or cold), and be sure to include a valid email. I’ll choose a name at random, and be in touch.

And swing by my website, for more BookTastings and giveaways (and to find out the perfect tea with my own fantasy novel Redheart). Say hello there too, for a chance to win a copy of my novel.

Jackie Gamber is an award-winning freelance editor, as well as award-winning author of the fantasy novel Redheart, available now through Seventh Star Press( A veteran of the USAF, she is now, among other things, a rosarian, a professional BookTaster, and an avid believer in imagination. Visit Jackie and her BookTastings on the world wide web at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Friended by Old Friends

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

This past weekend I was procrastinating. I know, hard to believe, huh? I went on Facebook and found that a friend from high school had posted on my high school’s Facebook page. I commented and then looked at the other graduates who liked the page, wondering if I could find my old friend Ed. Ed had graduated from the same school several years before me and came to mind last month while I was driving through the town where Ed had gone to college .

Ed hadn’t liked our high school’s page, but I typed in his name and sure enough, a guy who looked like him popped up. Wow! I messaged him and asked if he was the same Ed I called a friend all those years ago. Sure enough, the next day I was friended by him and received an email catching up on 25 years in five paragraphs. It was amazing. After that, I was on a roll. I tracked down his stepbrother, Steve, the same way. More emails, more OMGs, and more catching up. It was wonderful!

I’m now back in touch with old friends I thought were lost to me forever. I was thrilled to find that the three of us are all happily married, we all have great careers, beautiful families, and even after all the hell we raised together way back when, we turned out just fine.

I also discovered that after all these years, we’ve changed very little. Steve still sports that same boyish grin/smirk—one photo and I was tossed back to the summer between my junior and senior year in high school and could hear his voice in my head spouting a New York accent and a smart-ass remark. Ed still plays guitar, and wore the same look he wore while playing the lead on a Crosby, Stills & Nash song.

The best thing is that our friendship is still there. Both emails mentioned shared memories that were ours alone—my father’s penchant for threatening to shoot them in the kneecaps if anything happened to his precious daughter—moi. The road trip to the beach where we were trapped inside for an entire rainy weekend with no TV, the seemingly endless string of summer days sitting by my pool and drinking all my dad’s beer. I can still hear Steve greeting my father when he came home, “Have a beer, Mr. Williams. It’s the last one. We saved it for you.” They mentioned the years we spent together, supporting each other, being each others’ bullshit meters, helping each other through rough relationships and broken hearts. It feels as if we’re back where we began, except with different families and jobs. Life is good and finding my friends again just made it all the more better.

So what about you? Have you rediscovered old friends on Facebook or MySpace? Did you feel the same absence of change?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make Me Scream.....4?

Of course, being a horror buff, I could not let the weekend pass without seeing Scream 4. I was not disappointed. It's not great cinema and the plot was easy to figure out - especially someone who tends to write murder for a living, but the original cast was back - the ones that lived through the first three Screams anyway. That's always a huge plus. The theme was still the movie motiff, but light on the movie trivia, which was somewhat disappointing. Also lost were some opportunities for real bitchy comments by character Gail Weathers. Overall, a good movie and really good for #4 in a slasher series. Still all in good fun.

Now, if you want to know what makes me scream, it's the staff at Taco Bueno. They are the biggest representative case of failure to listen since politicians. Every time I go there, I get the same thing. I order. They ask if I want hot sauce. I say no. Then I pull up to the window. The girl takes my money and asks if I want hot sauce. I say no. Then the girl hands me my bag of food and it contains no less than six packages of hot sauce. Mind you, I can't get a packet of ketchup from McDonalds without threatening to rob them and a napkin...forget it! You have to be the Grim Reaper to get napkins. But hot sauce at Taco Bueno is plentiful and apparently toxic at the rate they force it out of the store.

So what about you? Done any screaming lately?

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest Author Janne Lewis

Please join me in welcoming sexy, sassy guest author Janne Lewis!  Take it away, Janne...

I was delighted when Gemma asked me to contribute a guest post to Killer Fiction. Though all my romances feature sexy heroes and savvy heroines, they have different casts of characters and settings, even time periods. Recently when I was taking my dog for a walk and thinking about what I was going to write next, I had this funny revelation about my stories. All of them have something in common—all of them have a character that loves being near the ocean. Of course, this revelation came to me as I was walking on the beach, smelling the salty tang carried on the breeze, listening to the rush of the water and the cries of the seagulls, watching the color of the sea change from blue to green to gray with the change in the color of the sky.

Some people find comfort in the desert, some in the mountains, some gazing at the glass-like surface of a lake. I love the sea. Years ago when my husband and I took our children on a trip through the western part of the United States, we agreed that as beautiful as the desert was, we missed the ocean—the sound and smell and look of it.

The recent news has been full of the deadly results of the tsunami in Japan. I don’t want to suggest in any way that the victims of that awful event are to blame for their suffering. Yet, every person who makes his or her home within sight of the ocean knows there is some element of risk. Those waters that barely move one day, with waves rising and falling like the flank of a sleeping animal, can the next day turn into a ferocious, raging destructive beast that will smash wood, fracture concrete, twist steel, grind rocks into gravel. I remember when the “Perfect Storm” made famous in the book and movie swept along this coast and altered some of our local real estate. All along the New England coast there are houses perched near the Atlantic. When I see those houses, I shudder at the risk their owners take, but envy their view.

The threat of this danger is part of the ocean’s allure. Want to see a crowd of people on the beach in a blizzard? Tell them there’s a danger of flooding at high tide. Despite the cold and snow, a crowd will gather to watch the water. When the waves rise high up and crash with a boom over the sea wall and spill unchecked into the street, people shout and share their excitement.

Maybe this love for the sea is like the romance heroine’s love for the so-called bad boy. After all, the original Siren lured sailors onto rocks with her singing. I love to write about passionate bad boy heroes who have their tender vulnerable sides, like the hero in my recent release for Ellora’s Cave’s “Ahoy!” series—“Pleasuring a Pirate.” And I love to write about heroes and heroines who have heard the Siren’s call and feel some connection to the sea.

I’m not a sailor, though I do venture out onto the water in a kayak when the air is still and the waves are low. I get seasick when the waves get high, but I never get sick of the sea. What about you? Have you fallen victim to the Sirens’ call, or are you a lake lover or desert dreamer?

Thanks again to all the members of Killer Fiction for inviting me to post!


Janne Lewis’s most recent release is “Pleasuring a Pirate” an erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave. Here’s the blurb for the book:

When Jenny Miller’s widowed mother becomes engaged to the father of Jenny’s ex-lover, Jenny is torn. She knows a renewal of her affair with Robert, her soon-to-be stepbrother, could jeopardize her mother’s marriage. But Robert was the sexiest, most commanding lover Jenny has had, and though he has a reputation as a heartbreaker, she yearns to get him back in bed.

When Robert plays the role of Pirate Blackwell in a video production, and Jenny plays the pirate’s wife, Robert’s passionate on-camera kiss sends Jenny’s libido into overdrive. Jenny is a dedicated lawyer who has prided herself on her self-control. But resisting the irresistible Robert? That’s a whole other case.

Want to read more? Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:

Jenny Miller clutched the fabric of her long dress as she carefully walked down the steep stairs from her second-floor apartment. She was determined to get through this day without disaster, despite the too tight costume and the uncomfortable shoes and the awkwardness that lay ahead. She reached the door to the street, opened it, stepped onto the sidewalk, let the door slam shut behind her and realized she was stuck. She looked behind—a clump of fabric at the back of her dress was trapped by the now locked door.

“Damn!” She rummaged through her shoulder bag until she found her key ring, took it out of her bag and promptly dropped it. She bent to pick up her keys, her breasts nearly popping out of the low-cut dress. “I must look like an idiot,” she muttered. She fumbled with the keys until she found the one she needed. She inserted the key, but it wouldn’t turn in the lock. Was there something wrong with the lock? That was all she needed this morning. She pulled out the key. She was using the wrong one. She took a deep breath, inserted the right key, unlocked the door, freed her dress and turned once again to face the day. Relax, she told herself. Everything is going to be fine. You will not make a fool of yourself in front of him.

The sun shone in a cloudless blue sky. The leaves on the maple trees that lined the cobblestoned length of King Street glowed greenly in the bright spring light. She had planned to drive the mile from her apartment to the beach at Perkins Cove, thinking she would feel ridiculous walking through town in her 18th century costume. Now she reconsidered. She could use the walk to steady her nerves. She needed to be in control of all her emotions if she was going to get through this day without embarrassing herself. She set off down the street.

At the corner of King and State Street, Agnes Hopewell came out of her antiques store. In her hand she held one end of a leash, the other end of which was attached to the collar on Jo-Jo, her pony-sized black Newfoundland. “Hi, Jenny!” Agnes said. “Where are you off to, dressed like that?”

“I’m acting in a promotional video for the Chamber of Commerce.” Jenny stepped off the sidewalk to the street. She wanted to protect her costume from the string of slobber hanging from Jo-Jo’s enormous mouth. “We’re doing the Pirate Blackwell story.”

Agnes snorted. “I don’t care what the History of Stoneyport says—it’s a made-up myth. There may have been a privateer named Blackwell in the seventeen hundreds, but he didn’t bury gold here!” She followed Jenny into the street. Jo-Jo trotted behind.

“I’ll be sure to tell our director that,” Jenny said.

“Who’s the director?”

“Susan Goodman.”

“How nice!” Agnes said. “Your mom must be pleased you two have become friendly. I know how hard Susan took it when her mother died. It must be tough for Susan to have her dad engaged to your mom. Though Carol is a real sweetheart. Caring for your dad all those years. A real angel.”

Jenny picked up her pace. Agnes’ business was selling antiques but her hobby was gossip. Sometimes Agnes’ gossip hit painfully close to home—Susan deeply resented her father for marrying Jenny’s mother.

“I can bet who Susan got to play the pirate,” Agnes continued, undeterred by having to jog to keep pace with Jenny. “That bad boy brother of hers. Jimmy Chang told me Robert is back in town. Saw him at the Barnacle last night. He’s quite a character but handsome as they come. Probably left a string of broken hearts all over the world. Have you met him yet?”

Ouch! Direct hit! “Got to hurry! Don’t want to be late for my film debut!” Jenny started to run. Fortunately Jo-Jo spotted a cat and took off in the other direction, dragging Agnes with him.

Jenny hurried up the steep hill as fast as she could. When she reached the top, she stopped. She gasped for breath. She glanced behind. Agnes had not followed. Jenny’s breasts ballooned over the top of her bodice. Why on earth had Susan picked this costume for the pirate’s wife? It made Jenny look like an 18th century hooker. She yanked the top of the bodice as high as she could.

Damn Agnes! She’d named the very source for Jenny’s anxiety that morning—her soon-to-be stepbrother and one-time lover Robert Goodman. For weeks Jenny had been dreading seeing Robert at her mother’s wedding. Last night, Susan had called to instruct Jenny one more time about the shoot and casually mentioned that Robert would now be playing the part of Pirate Blackwell. The guy Susan had asked to play the part had broken his arm and Robert had offered to come home early and help her out. Jenny had to disguise her shock at the news with a fit of coughing. Susan, of course, did not know about Jenny’s fling with Robert. Nor did Susan’s father or Jenny’s mother.

Down below, at the base of the hill, several people were walking along the paved path that led between 18th century row houses to Perkins Cove. Jenny was still too far to decipher faces, but even after more than nine months of not seeing him, she would know Robert’s body.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sneak Peak of Codename: Dancer!

I'm seriously deliriously excited that my debut novel is going to be released next week! It's hard to believe it's almost here. I feel like I've been working forever. And now in just a few short days, I'll be releasing Codename: Dancer out into the wild to see what readers think.

Here's what Killer Fiction's own Gemma Halliday thought:

“Fans of Pretty Little Liars and Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls will love Codename: Dancer. Sparks fly, tutus twirl, and a clever mystery unravels in what is sure to become a favorite among teens and tweens everywhere. Amanda Brice’s debut is a must read for every girl who ever danced – or ever wanted to!”

So I present to you now the first chapter! Enjoy!

My first hint that the devil was wearing Prada earmuffs and a Burberry scarf should’ve been when my parents gave in and let me go to the Mountain Shadows Academy of the Arts. After all, they’d sworn up and down it would be a cold day in Hades before they let me go away for high school.

I definitely didn’t inherit my Grandma Rose’s ESP — she’s what she calls ‘fey’ and my dad calls ‘crazy’ — or I would have realized my world was about to be turned upside down.

But I guess it’s not surprising I’d missed the signs. I mean, there’s not exactly much use for earmuffs and a scarf in Arizona. I forgot to mention. That’s where I would be for the next four years. I was a freshman dance major at Mountain Shadows Academy in Scottsdale, an arts high school founded by Anna Manning Devereaux.

Yes, that Anna Devereaux. You may not remember her movies, but I’m sure you’ve heard of her many marriages. She was this famous starlet in the ‘50s who made a bunch of old movie musicals with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Anyway, after Hubby Number Eight passed away, she got nostalgic for the Hollywood she once knew and decided to start an arts school to train the next generation. I guess Katy Perry and Snooki didn’t exactly inspire much confidence in her.

But Snooki’s a novelist, you say. Yeah, and she’s read two whole books, too.

When I first moved in, I thought for sure I’d made a huge mistake. My roommate Bev was a complete waste of space. I thought living with an art student would be great. If nothing else, she’d know how to transform the stark white dorm room into something fun and fabulous. Plus she’s a sophomore, so she could show me around. But man, was she ever BOR-ING! I wasn’t sure she was even capable of answering questions with anything more than one syllable.

I left my friends back home for this?

I plopped down onto my bed and tried to make small talk with the tall girl in black. “So, this is your second year here?”

Bev didn’t even turn away from her computer game. “Yes.”

“Do you like it?”

“Yeah.” She tucked a chunk of dyed black hair behind her ear, revealing more piercings than should be legal.

A root canal would be easier. “And you’re an art student?”


I tried another tactic. “The dining hall opens at five?”

She typed furiously for a minute. “Yeah.”

“Wanna go?”


I was stuck with her for the next year. How was I going to make it? I sneaked a peak over her shoulder at the time in the bottom corner of her screen. 4:55. Suddenly, my tummy was growling worse than Chewbaca in a firefight with a couple dozen Imperial Stormtroopers chasing him down.

“Okay, well, see ya later!” I said, grabbing my sunglasses and slipping my feet into my new sparkly black flip-flops. A few seconds later, I was out the door.

I’d wanted to shower and change first — what if I met a really hot guy while standing in the salad bar line? — but I didn’t think I’d last much longer in that room without some fresh air. Fortunately I wasn’t too sweaty from moving in, and anyway, what were the chances of meeting my soul mate on my first night?

I got my food as quickly as possible, which really wasn’t all that quick. The buffet was a thousand times better than the one at Golden Corral, and I’d thought that one was huge! Station after station overflowing with food options tempted me, and I found myself barely able to make a decision.


Not that it mattered. I had leotards to fit into, so I had to watch my weight. I placed a salad, bottled water, and a small dish of sugar-free raspberry Jell-O onto my tray, although I eyed the tiramisu.

As I made my way through the crowded room, I noticed all the other kids seemed to be hunched over a flyer. Their whispering permeated the air like my mom’s Eternity. Was it an invitation to a super secret party or something? My older sister Whitney told me all about the secret societies at her college. Did we even have that kind of stuff here?

Seeing all the kids huddled together suddenly made me homesick for my old middle school. I never had to worry about where to sit at lunch back at home. We were supposed to eat three meals a day in the caf, but I didn’t know anyone, so where was I going to sit?

Deep breath.

Three girls sat at the table in front of me, whispering. Every now and then they looked up from the flyer and scanned the room. Then they laughed and huddled up again. Finally one girl caught my gaze. She had shiny long blonde hair straight out of a shampoo commercial and was wearing a dress suspiciously similar to the one Leighton Meester wore on last night’s Gossip Girl.

I had to ask where she got it. Not that I could afford it if it was real.
I walked over and placed my tray on the table. “Hi, I’m Dani. Can I si—”

The blonde sneered. “You’re kidding me, right?”

As if on cue, Queen Bee’s friends started laughing. All three gathered up their trays and moved to sit with a group of guys at the next table over, occasionally turning back to look at me and laugh.

Did I have something on my shirt? (I was wearing a shirt at least.) Maybe I wasn’t wearing the right one. Or even worse, maybe a huge zit erupted on my nose?

I was surrounded by a sea of people, bobbing along on the waves and forced to sink or swim. What would it be? I clutched my tray just like a life raft.

I’d never felt so alone. So small.

So … nothing.

I considered bringing dinner back to Ames Hall to eat in my room — even spending time with Bev had to be better than letting everyone think I was a loser who ate alone — when I saw a tall girl wearing a pink tank top with rhinestones across the chest waving in my direction.

For a second there I thought she meant someone else, but apparently not, because she strode over to me. “Don’t let them bother you. They just think they’re too cool for school. Whatev. You’re the new freshman in Bev’s room, right?” When I nodded, she stuck her hand out for me to shake. “I’m Maya.”

My hands were full holding my tray, so I did an elaborate balancing act with one hand and my hip and stuck out my right hand. “Dani.”

Maya motioned for me to follow her to where she was sitting with a group of guys and girls. “What program are you in?”

“Dance.” Wow. I was about as talkative as my goth-girl roommate. What was wrong with me?

“Me too.” Maya’s cocoa-colored eyes shone. “So, what do you think of Bev?”

“Uh—” I stammered.

She held up a finger to silence me. “Don’t worry. I don’t like her either. She hates dancers. Total freak show.”

We finally approached Maya’s friends’ table. They, too, were huddled over a colorful flyer.

“Hey,” Maya said and caught their attention. “This is Dani. She lives with Bev Marcus.” The kids shot me a sympathetic look. “Dani, everyone.” Maya plopped herself down in between a short Hispanic girl and a guy who quite frankly put the Sparta boys to shame. Whoa.

Hmm ... looked like I was gonna like it here!

I placed my tray down at the empty spot next to a cute guy with spiky blond hair, dressed in a black T-shirt and ripped jeans. “What’s that?” I pointed at the flyer.

The Hispanic girl pushed the piece of paper over to me. “They chose our school for the next season of Teen Celebrity Dance-off!”

“It’s not fair that the auditions are only open to dance students,” Blond Spiky Boy said. “And let me guess, Analisa won’t be auditioning anyway because it’ll take away from your serious dance career?”

“Well, yes, it’s not ballet. That’s true,” the Hispanic girl said. “But as long as we still make our regular classes and rehearsals, it could only help.”

“So you are gonna try out?”

“Whatever, Kyle. You know you can’t dance anyway,” Maya said, dismissing him with her hand.

“Ladies, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” A tall guy with dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes the color of the Caribbean extended his hand and let it linger. Contacts? Had to be. Nobody had eyes that blue naturally. “Hi, I’m Craig,” he said, smiling and revealing the most adorable set of dimples I’d ever seen. He looked like he walked straight out of the pages of the Abercrombie catalog. Since Mountain Shadows didn’t teach modeling, I guessed ‘actor.’

“Dani,” I squeaked.

I was forced to rethink my decision not to shower. I mentally cursed myself for being anxious to get away from Bev.

Maya smacked Craig’s hand away as if he were a mosquito. “Don’t let him bother you.”

“He’s not bothering me.”

Maya sighed. “Whatever. I wanna hear more about the show.”

What were the chances I’d get on, especially against the senior girls? But still, I had a shot. Maybe not a good one, since my training was mostly limited to the classics, but I could still try. Man, this school was so cool. Much better than Sparta High.

“Who’s on the show?” I asked.

Analisa consulted the flyer. “So far, they’ve confirmed Daronn Williams, and John Michael Cooper, but rumor has it Prince Harry and Daniel Radcliffe are in negotiations.”

I giggled. “Prince Harry and Harry Potter?”

Analisa cleared her throat before continuing. “Well, I seriously doubt the prince will do it. Isn’t he in the Royal Marines or something? Personally, I’m hoping for Robert Pattinson.”

“Yeah, right.” Maya’s laughter sounded more like a snort. “Like he’d really do this. I think that’s illegal anyway. He’d have to dance with underage girls.”

Wow, all those stars were totally hot. Daronn’s debut hip-hop CD landed him at the top of the Billboards at just sixteen, and who wasn’t in love with JMC?

“Just guys?” I asked.

Analisa tossed back her curls. “Looks that way. I recognize most of them, but not Michael Cooper.”

I laughed. “You mean John Michael Cooper, right?”

Analisa blushed. “Oops, right.”

“You don’t know who JMC is?”

Analisa shrugged, twirling a strand of fettuccine with her fork. She wasn’t worried about carbs?

“Um, Great Expectations? Hello?” I asked.

“The book?”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “The band. They’re all over MTV.”

“Sorry, but I was never really allowed to listen to popular music,” Analisa explained. “My mom’s a ballet teacher. I only listened to music by dead white guys growing up.”

Maya shook her head slowly and whistled. “Girl, that’s some warped life you led.”
I felt my forehead scrunch up as I thought. “Why aren’t there any girls?”

“They were hoping to get Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, but there was this whole controversy about whether Miley was a good role model and Taylor was too expensive,” Kyle explained.

“Anyway, their target demographic is teenage girls, so it just makes sense to only have guy stars,” Analisa said.

“Taylor Swift, now that’s a chick I could get behind.” A smirk graced Craig’s well-chiseled face.

Maya turned towards him, exasperation darkening her expression. “Was anyone talking to you? I didn’t think so.”

“So, how’s it work?” I asked.

A third guy, a tall, skinny Asian kid who, up to now, had been quietly doodling anime figures in his sketch pad, said, “They’re gonna choose five dance students to be partners for the stars. But I really don’t think it’s fair that only dance students can audition.”

“What do you care whether it’s just dancers?” Maya asked.

“Because,” Craig answered slowly, dragging out his syllables, spelling it out as if for a bunch of infants. “It’s national TV. My big break.” His already incredible eyes flashed a bright, piercing blue, making me go weak in the knees. It was a good thing I was sitting.

Definitely an aspiring actor.

Analisa laughed. “They’re only choosing girls.”

“That’s just it,” Ryan said. “It’s discrimination. We should sue.”

“Big words.” Maya smirked. “Someone’s been reading his Constitution, huh?”

I cleared my throat. “Actually, I think it’s only discrimination if the government does it. So you can’t sue.” Everyone stared at me like I’d grown a second head. “My mom’s a lawyer.”

Craig smiled in my direction. “Guess we better listen to the new girl.”

Kyle fixed a hard stare on me. “I’m sure we could still sue.”

Maya shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Whatev. You trying out for Law & Order: Special High School Unit? Cut the act.” She stood up, lifting her tray with the regal air of a queen dismissing her subjects. “Gentlemen, it’s been real, but my girls and I gotta finish eating and get practicing.”

She marched away, and we followed her to a nearby table. I kept sneaking looks back at Craig and his friends, though.

“Why did we leave?” I asked. “They seemed really fun.”

“Tim’s pretty cool. Kyle has his moments,” Analisa admitted. “But Craig is a total jerk.”

I looked over my shoulder at the guys we’d just left sitting a few tables away. Craig definitely looked like the leader of the pack. “He seems pretty nice.”
Actually, he seemed really hot, but I wasn’t going to admit that to the girls just yet. Not when I barely even knew them. I’d start with nice. Nice was neutral. Nice was safe.

I could deal with nice.

“Girl, everyone in school thinks that, and it goes straight to his head,” Maya told me, a conspiratorial tone coloring her words. “Really arrogant. I don’t fall for that shit.”

“Yeah, don’t get any ideas. Everyone wants to date him,” Analisa said. “Anyway, I think he’s still with Hadley Taylor.”

“Who’s Hadley Taylor?”

Maya gestured over her shoulder. “You just met her.”


“He probably only likes her because she’s totally rich. One of the upper class girls’ dorms is named after her dad,” Maya continued. “Plus, she’s a junior and danced Sugar Plum her sophomore year.”

Shoot. Hadley Taylor was serious competition. Nobody ever got the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy that young. I was way out of my league. Better write Craig off.

I knew I wouldn’t meet the guy of my dreams tonight.

“What grade are they in?” I asked, motioning towards the table of guys.

“Seniors,” Maya and Analisa answered at the same time.

“Craig has an audition for the Yale Drama Program in two weeks, but it’s just a formality,” Analisa said. “Everyone knows he’s going there.”

“And if not there, then either UCLA or Northwestern.” Maya shrugged. “He’s a cocky jerk, but damn, the boy can act.”

I looked back at the other table. “So how do we try out?”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leather Pants

As a general rule, I won't repost ebay product descriptions on this blog. Particularly not for items that have already been auctioned off. But this post on ebay was brought to my attention by a friend some time back and I copied it because....well, when you read it you'll understand. Enjoy the saga of the Leather Pants:

You are bidding on a mistake.
We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.
And we buy leather pants.
I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I’m stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.
The relationship, probably for better, never materialized. The girl, whose name I can’t even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.
Ultimately the pants were placed in the closet where they have remained, unworn, for nearly a decade. I would like to emphasize that: Aside from trying these pants on, they have never, ever been worn. In public or private.
I have not worn these leather pants for the following reasons:
I am not a member of Queen.
I do not like motorcycles.
I am not Rod Stewart.
I am not French.
I do not cruise for transvestites in an expensive sports car.
These were not cheap leather pants. They are Donna Karan leather pants. They’re for men. Brave men, I would think. Perhaps tattooed, pierced men. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you either have to be very tough, very gay, or very famous to wear these pants and get away with it.
Again, they’re men’s pants, but they’d probably look great on the right lady. Ladies can get away with leather pants much more often than men can. It’s a sad fact that men who own leather pants will have to come to terms with.
They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.
These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.
Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.
Please buy these leather pants.

I sort of wish I had bid on them just so I could find a tattooed, pierced man (or Rod Stewart) to give them to.

--Kyra "Fashionista" Davis

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The First Ever - Never Seen Before - Excerpt of Paradise By the Rifle Sights!

And now, because you've all been such good little girls and boys, a sneak preview:

"Paris Bombay!" Alec the announcer shouted. I flinched inwardly. The rose they gave me still had thorns and I was sweating like a fat guy in a sauna in this tux under these stage lights.

"The time has come!" He continued. "Who are you going to chose? Cin, or Teri?" I felt a clock ticking inside my head and it made me think of the bombs my cousin Dak and I used to make as kids. How did I get into this mess? I never wanted to star on
The Single Bachelor: Bachelor No More - Ever. Great. Cin and Teri are looking at me thinking I'm about to make a decision. How do I tell them I can't?

It all started two months ago. And it was all my sister, Liv's, fault.


"I just finished a job!" I said to her.

"Well I can't do it! Alta has the state science fair and Woody is trying out for the Olympic Archery team! It's the finals!" Liv folded her arms over her chest and pouted. She actually pouted. And that's when I knew I was screwed.

"We're not supposed to do each other's assignments." I whined, even though I could feel myself giving in a little. And when I say "assignments," I mean contract killing...just to make that clear. I'm an assassin. So is my sister, my dad, my cousins and my grandmother. Well, actually, Grandma Mary is retired.

Liv threw her hands in the air - a gesture of futility she knew would work on her little brother.

"It's bad enough I can't do both of the kids' things! Todd and I have to split up to go! And I won't pick whether your adorable niece or nephew feels abandoned on their big day! I just won't do it!"

I sighed the sigh of capitulation. And Liv knew it. I have to give her credit for not gloating. I would've.

"Okay, fine." I walked over to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of chardonnay. "I'll do it." After uncorking the bottle, I handed my sister the first glass. Liv threw her arms around me and kissed my cheek. I saw that coming. It was what she did every time she needed me to cover for her. I could write a script on these situations. She always won and I always lost.

After she left (with a small, in-your-face victory dance), I opened another bottle and opened the envelope.

Chuck VanSpeybroek was a big time television producer who ran a human trafficking ring on the side. The problem? Chuck was a hermit. No one had taken a picture of him in twenty years. He didn't go to parties or awards ceremonies. Rumor had it he liked to spend all his time "playing" with his victims. Oh yeah, and he also threw money at television. He'd produced some real winners in the past; Orgy Island, Nuns in Vegas, and Scared Straight (which featured gay men being forced to live in trailers and buy their clothes at Goodwill - and lasted only two episodes due to a network boycott led by Lady Gaga).

I never watched reality tv. But something about Orgy Island made me think I should catch up.

I'd heard about Nuns in Vegas. It was the only show he'd done that didn't live up to its premise. Of course, it was a huge hit as a result. Chuck thought he had a "fish out of water" story here. Bring in ten nuns from Iowa - from an order that lived as humbly as a medievil peasant with leprosy - and plant them in a suite at the Bellagio - giving them each one million dollars to spend by the end of the season. Chuck was sure that these little, old ladies in habits would try to spend it all on charity.

What he didn't figure on, was that the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty were hardcore gamblers and professional alcoholics. They embarrassed a bevy of slutty Playboy Bunnies and made a Gangsta Rapper cry on the first episode, then poured money into male escorts and the roulette wheel on the other shows. The ratings were ridiculous. The nuns were excommunicated. And Chuck was an even richer bastard than before.

The problem would be getting to him. Chuck never left his compound except for auditions for his next show. Even then, he was in a private room, behind two-way mirrors, surrounded by bodyguards. I wondered how Liv thought she could handle that. But then, she's a soccer mom, so she's pretty good at multitasking.

But this was no longer her concern. It was mine. By now the house was dark. When did night fall? I flipped on the lights and turned off the Sinatra playlist on my iPod. Fumbling through the fridge I managed to find some brie and mango salsa. I added a Harvey Wallbanger to my dinner and headed into the living room.

I wasn't surprised to find that Netflix had all of Chuck's shows in their video streaming library. I went to the first episode of Orgy Island and hit "play."

I had no idea you could film such things and air them on prime time.

So, what do you think?
The Assassin

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Have You Ever Had An Identity Crisis?

Hi, Guys, and Happy Tuesday! Today I'm reprinting a blog I did recently for Barnes and Noble to celebrate the release of Born at Midnight. Hope you enjoy!

Have you ever stared at your reflection and wondered who the heck that person was? When I was young, I did this a lot. And rightly so. When we’re teens and even in our early twenties, we are just getting to know ourselves. We’re trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives, and who, if anyone, we want to spend it with.

Most of us go through some sort of an identity crisis when we’re young. And yet, finding those answers is easier for some than others. Some of us are way past our twenties, and we’re still seeking clues to the identity of the person staring back at us in the mirror. That or we’re wondering how the heck our mothers got in that reflection. Some of us are still trying to define what makes us tick personally and career wise.

I hear about writers having been born with a pen in their hands and how they worked on the second draft of their novel as they waited for their umbilical cord to fall off. I hear about women who go shopping and within seconds, know exactly what will complete their new look. I’ve been in awe of women who know after talking with a guy for a couple of minutes if he’s worthy of a first date, much less marrying him several months down the road. I hear about women who never picked up the hot hobby of the moment in order to fill a void in their lives because they don’t experience voids. Or about women who never tried a new hairstyle only to realize afterward that their ears were not their best feature. I envy people who were born with a keen sense of self, of style, and with an internal compass that never malfunctions. I envy them, because . . . I’m not one of them. Not yet, or at least, not in every way.

I didn’t have a pen in my hand at birth. And if I had, I wouldn’t have known which hand to hold it in, because I’m dyslexic and I still have left/right issues. I couldn’t spell the word “writer” when, at twenty-three, I admitted that I’d always wanted to see if my wild imagination could transfer onto paper. I’ve crossed-stitched to see if I could find myself and even divorced one man before I found the right one. I’ve made more spur of the moment shopping goofs and spent hours returning items that would be better suited for someone whose taste I would worry about if I hadn’t been the person who bought them. I’ve been permed, dyed, cut short, and left long, and I’m still searching for the hairstyle that defines me.

And if you’re wondering what this has to do with my book, well, Kylie, my sixteen-year-old character in Born at Midnight, book one in my paranormal romance series Shadow Falls written under my new pseudonym, C.C. Hunter, is going through a major identity crisis. She thinks her life is falling apart, and she’s right. Things are changing. Her parents are getting a divorce, her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out, and her best friend has taken a walk on the wild side. Her grandmother died and she’s started seeing ghosts. When Kylie learns about the existence of vampires, werewolves, faes, witches and shapeshifters, it’s mindboggling, but not as disturbing as learning she’s one of them. However, no one can tell Kylie exactly what she is. Talk about an identity crisis!

I chose Kylie’s internal issues because I can identify with her crisis and her woes. At sixteen, I dealt with my own parents’ divorce. I watched a good friend choose a not so wise path. . Honestly, I believe women of all ages can identify with Kylie. I think, unless you are one of those lucky ones born with some super sense of self, then you travel along this path called life and are constantly trying to get to know the woman in the mirror. And even after those formative years, often we’re assaulted by mini identity crises. We rethink our careers, our purposes in life, and question if we’re more suited to be a blonde or brunette.

I know, I’m still searching for the perfect hairstyle and I’m still returning outfits unsure what provoked that particular purchase. With each new stage of life, I find myself reevaluating. But one thing I’m sure about; I should have been born with a pen in my hand. Writing, putting my wild imagination down on paper, has not only turned out to be the career I love, it’s my own journey of self discovery. Each book I write, each character I create, I learn a little bit more about who I am, and I’m a step closer to becoming best buddies with the woman in the mirror.

So, what about you? How’s your internal compass working?