Wednesday, August 31, 2011

He's Funnier Than Me...

Todd was Tom's Stand-in for Jack's Pinewood Derby When Tom Was In Iraq.

So, my pal, Todd Welvaert goes black powder shooting with my husband and kids. And this was his post on Facebook:

"Shot a .50 caliber black powder flintlock rifle for the first time. I would encourage anyone who is a fan of history to do this. Amazing, thanks Tom. It goes like this. Aim, pull the trigger and try not to scream like a girl when the flint drops into the powder tray and produces a mammoth fireball about 2 inches in front of your face. Count two, feel the rifle kick and (when the smoke clears) see you've missed your target by about 6 inches. Be stupid happy you hit anything at all. Think about what it must of have been like to face a British charge with this in your hands. Be amazed our founding fathers could hear anything over their huge, clanging brass balls."

He's funnier than me. He's also a better writer, but he won't finish his book. I've known Todd and his wife Lisa for 24 years now. He's known my husband since cub scouts.

Todd's the guy who took my author head shot and the guy I used for this squib, Chapter 13 of STAND BY YOUR HITMAN:

"If I ran for a position of leadership in this town, my platform would be, 'A howler monkey in every home,' because nothing says community like a whole mess of howler monkeys."

See, he's funnier than me. And I wish he'd finish his damned book. My husband has threatened to just show up at his house with duct tape and a shotgun, to drive him to some remote hotel and keep him locked up until he finished it.

Ever have a friend like this? Someone you know actually has a good book inside them, but refuses to finish it? It's a pain in the ass, because there are so many out there who will finish a book, who SHOULDN'T finish a book.

If you have any ideas on motivating this guy, let me know. You think my books are funny - this guy would blow your mind.

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Release Day - Don't Mess with Texas

Well, release day came and release day went. And I’m pooped. Seriously, stick a fork in me, guys, I’m done.

Yesterday, after my launch party at Katy Budget Books, aka one of the best bookstores in the entire world, I was feeling pretty tuckered out. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw my cat, Skitter, and I think he was toying with me by imitating me.

Anyway, I grabbed my camera and caught his antics in action because I knew nobody would believe me unless the could see it for themselves.

So here is what my cat says I look like after a release day.

Pretty accurate, huh?

And below are some reviews that are flowing in on Don’t Mess With Texas:

Night Owl Suspense:

Don't Mess With Texas was a fabulously great read. I absolutely loved the characters. If you are looking for a fun romance that keeps you guessing this is it. There's a happy ending and I can't wait for the next one in the series.

* * *

WTF? Book Reviews:

Don’t Mess With Texas is whole lot of book for a great price!!! DMWT has a cast of characters to keep you laughing and chompin' at the bit for the next two books.

* * *

Minding Spot Blog:

Don’t Mess with Texas is a delightful suspense-filled mystery with a sparkling cast of characters. The romance is spicy, the dialogue entertaining and there are some hilarious moments.

* * *

Book Loons Blog:

Craig kicks off another series set in Texas, revolving around three ex-cops framed for murder and now running their own PI agency. Christie Craig always delivers enjoyable light romantic mysteries - add Don't Mess With Texas to the list.

* * *

Top Romance Novels:

Christie Craig seems to have a real knack for writing fun little romantic romps with a bit of steam to them. If you are looking for a fun romp, Texas style, be sure to check out Don’t Mess with Texas.

* * *

Huntress Book Reviews:

Christie Craig blends humor, romance, and homicide to create an intriguing and off-the-wall-type of mystery for her readers. This is a fast paced story that brings together an eccentric cast of characters, each with his own set of quirks, to the party. The result is unmitigated chaos that succeeded in capturing my attention quickly and holding it tightly until the very end. I loved every minute that I spent with my nose stuck in the book and I am looking forward to the next PI's story.

* * *

The Mystery Gazette Blog:

This is a fun Texas investigative romance that in some ways feels like a throwback to the madcap comedies of the 1930s. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine vomits and never slows down as her knight in shining armor tries to prove her innocence while falling in love with "Leon's leftover". Fans will appreciate this terrific Texas two-step.

* * *

Write by Bethany Blog:

This is laugh out loud humorous fun! A heroine who pukes on the hero, a no-nonsense Nana (loved her! Nana needs her own story, she's just that funny), a strong defend-and-protect type hero--mix it all together and you've got a novel jammed pack with Christie’s humor, romance, mystery, suspense and everything else she could think of including an English Bulldog sleeping in a coffin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back Cover Blurbs by Guest Blogger Cindy Kirk

It's my great pleasure to host fellow author Cindy Kirk on our blog today. Cindy's one heck of a gal. She knows her way around New York City like a native and wears the most fabulous jewelry. With no further adieu, here's Cindy! - Diane Kelly

If you’re like me, when I’m shopping for a book, I read the back cover copy first. If the story idea interests me, then I move to the first two or three pages of the book. If I want to keep reading I buy the book. If I don’t really care, I put the book back on the shelf.

That’s why I was, well, disappointed last year when I read the back cover copy of my Harlequin Special Edition, The Christmas Proposition (December 2010). The editor told me they thought it might be fun to do the back cover copy to the tune of a Christmas song. I said, hey, okay, sounds cute.

I’ll only give you the first paragraph because you’ll quickly get the message:

(To The Tune of Jingle Bells)
Dashing through Jackson Hole
A handsome stranger’s come to town
He’s an ex-baseball star by trade
But a broken engagement’s got him down


I told my editor that if they decided to do this again, please give someone else the privilege. She said they wouldn’t be doing it again 

After reading that back cover copy, I was seriously tempted to ask my editor to put something in my file (if they even have a file) that mentioned that back cover copy. Thankfully I didn’t ask because I got my first royalty statement and was VERY pleased.

But now, I’m concerned. I really like the back cover copy on my book that is on the shelves now—IF THE RING FITS (book 4 in my RX for Love mini-series)—but now I’m wondering if it’d sell better if the back cover copy was as good (wink, wink) as The Christmas Proposition.

This week tell me how much you rely on the back cover copy of a book to guide your buying decisions and I’ll enter you into a drawing to win a copy of The Christmas Proposition (with that fabulous back cover copy).

And thanks so much to my buddy Diane Kelly for inviting me to blog!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm on the case and I WILL find you

The good news: we found a house!  It’s perfect for us, we can *almost* afford it, and we’re moving next week.  (Yikes.  I guess I should be packing, huh?)  Amazingly I saw a listing pop on Craigslist and was the first person to call.  Woohoo!  I’ll post pics as soon as we get there.  Oh, the best part about the new house (other than NOT being the ghetto we currently live in): I will have my very own office!  Squee!!

So, that’s the good news this week.  Now for the bad news: unfortunately we didn’t get out of the ghetto quite quickly enough, as my wallet was stolen last week.  From my house!  Some creep just walked into our house and took it.  I suspect it was one of the neighborhood kids, since they’re always coming to the door to ask if they can borrow something of my son’s.  My guess?  While my son’s back was turned, some kid helped himself to my wallet.  Is it wrong to call a minor an a-hole?   

Even worse was the fact that my entire life was in my wallet.  Of course some cash, though thankfully not a lot!  My driver’s license, insurance info, credit cards, gift cards, receipts, coupons, loyalty cards… it was a very big wallet and it was packed.  After spending 6 hours in line at the DMV and a week on the phone explaining the situation to a million people to get replacement cards, I’m finally almost back to the land of the living now. 

But my saddest loss of all that stuff was my Starbucks cards.  I had two of them that I had just loaded up with over $70.  I was whining about this to my favorite barista yesterday, and she asked, “Did you register the cards online?”  Actually, I had just done that the day before they were stolen.  Good timing, huh?  “In that case,” she told me, “you can call Starbucks and they can send you new gift cards for the balance.”  Awesome!  I knew there was a reason I’m a loyal Starbucks drinker.

The first thing I do when I get home is call Starbucks and tell them the cards were stolen.  Sadly, the woman on the phone looks them up and then tells me that the cards have already been drained of all funds.  Whoever took my wallet has been seriously chugging the lattes.  The little caffeinated a-hole.  So I ask her if there is any way she can tell where they were used – thinking that might give me a clue as to who took them.  “I can do better than that,” she tells me.  “All of our stores have video surveillance.  If you file a police report, we can release the footage and exact times the card was used.”  Oh em gee – double awesome!

So, I call the police department and they send out Officer Hottie (seriously, he was so adorable) who takes my statement and opens a case.  He’s really excited about the Starbucks lead, and says he’ll let me know as soon as they get the footage.  I can’t wait!  I hope I get to go down to the station to view it!  I’m so psyched to have an actual clue to an actual crime.  Seriously, don’t steal from a mystery writer.  ;) 

I’ll definitely let you guys know how it plays out.  In the meantime… back to packing… 

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer reading

Every so often I like to touch on what books I'm currently reading or have just finished. This summer has been a busy one and hasn't left much time for one of my favorite leisure activities, but I have managed to get some reading done. And yes, I'm one of those people who read more than one book at a time. Most of the time one is fiction and one is nonfiction. This summer, it's been fiction all the way.

First off, with the release of the final Harry Potter film I decided to start reading the J.K. Rowling series about the young wizard Harry Potter all the way through. I had read the first several books aloud to my children, but had never finished all of them collectively. So, I've been working my way through the series and am enjoying it immensely.

Then a coworker recommended The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I started reading it and couldn't stop until I'd read the next two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Terrific books all three. I hear they're making a movie of The Hunger Games due out next year. I can't wait!

Then, my daughter brought home The Help by Kathryn Stockett. She'd enjoyed it very much and knew I liked to read a book before seeing the movie version. I started the book last night and can't wait to get back to it. It's that good.

Now it's your turn. What books heated up your summer and left a lasting impression? Any you particularly want to recommend? What books are in your to-be-read pile?

And now, as much as I like visiting with you all, I really must get back to The Help so I can see the movie this weekend.

Enjoy these final days of summer!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't mess with our books

I'd like to take today's post to congratulate Christie Craig on her new release, Don't Mess With Texas. It's been getting fabulous reviews and let's face it, who doesn't love the idea of a hot Texas cop turned PI doing some under cover work with the heroine? It's classic Christie.

It's also getting some heat from the state of Texas, the Transportation Department to be exact (TDot). You see, TDot has been using the Don't Mess With Texas slogan on, well, everything. And other people have been using the line on, well, everything as well. It's become a saying, like What Happens in Vegas...

Only TDot has decided to sue Christie, her publisher and even Barnes & Noble booksellers over the title of the book. They go on to say in their press release that because Christie's book contains elements of a romance novel, it will cause "irreparable harm." Let me repeat that, "irreparable harm." From a romance novel.

I, for one, am glad to see the state of Texas protect its citizens from romance novels. That has got to be the biggest issue facing taxpayers. Except for budget shortfalls, a failing infrastructure, severe cuts in education... but, as soon as we take care of those sassy books, all of our other pressing problems will go away. Right?

And while they're attacking romance, maybe TDot should stop at think about Newsweek, Rock The Vote and belt buckle manufacturers. It seems those folks don't want people to mess with Texas, either.

Maybe the city of Las Vegas needs to get busy suing the makers of the movie What Happens in Vegas. I hear there might be s-e-x in that one, too.

Then the citizens of both Nevada and Texas can rest easier at night, knowing their tax dollars are being put to good use. In the mean time, I'm going to buy a copy of Christie Craig's new book. In fact, I hope this added publicity puts this one on the New York Times list. Christie certainly deserves it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

School Days or is it School Daze

By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

I don’t know about you, but for me, the best day of the year is always the first day of school even though each child comes home with an inch-thick stack of forms to fill out. By the time I finish filling out the forms, I’ve got a major case of writer’s cramp but even that doesn’t diminish my happiness.

After enduring a full summer of kids whining about being bored, fighting about one or another of them hogging the TV, or standing in front of the refrigerator complaining that there’s nothing to eat but ingredients, I’m subjected to my definition of hell. School shopping.

There’s nothing worse than walking through Walmart with three lists of school supplies among one-hundred other frazzled parents, each with their 1.5 children begging for a Dora the Explorer backpack and having temper tantrums when the kids hear the word no. Hell is trying to find two-pocket folders with the metal fasteners in six different colors, and six packs of three different size post it notes while pushing a cart full of $150 of other supplies while not taking your hand off said cart because, lets face it, everyone else’s cart looks exactly the same and you don’t want to start the process over again. I hang onto my cart like my life depends upon it, and the way I feel when I’m finished, it probably does.

At 7:05 in the morning, after giving my youngest a hug and a kiss goodbye, and saying the words I say every school day “Make it a good day, Sweetie. The decision is yours.” I watch her climb the steps of her beautiful yellow school bus and I feel a sense of freedom. I want to do my own version of the Snoopy Happy Dance, but not only is it 7:05 in the morning, I haven’t had time to finish my first cup of coffee, and there’s a line of cars waiting behind the school bus who witness the show and probably call 911 thinking I was having some sort of seizure. So every year I walk sedately back up the slowly deteriorating concrete steps that make the steep hill from my front door to the street somewhat manageable with my coffee in hand. I step through the front door and am greeted by my very happy dog who is free to do the Snoopy Happy Dance, since, like Snoopy, she’s a dog and cares nothing about humans thinking they’re insane or epileptic. She’s just thrilled to be rid of her competition for Mom’s attention. I finish my coffee, clean up what’s left of the disaster of the kitchen, and participate in a ritual I’ve had since the first day my youngest child started first grade and all three kids were going to full-day school.

A very good friend of mine sent me a one-pound box of Sea’s Chocolate and a bottle of wine with instructions to open both, run a nice bubble bath, and indulge. After the bath, most of the chocolate (if you haven’t eaten Sea’s Chocolate you haven’t lived) and about a half-bottle of wine, we had an on-line party, which is a necessity since Kay lives in Seattle and I’m in Maryland. We Skype and celebrate our newfound freedom while ingesting a week’s worth of calories and catching a nice buzz. I’ve done this for seven years. The first day of school, I’ll fill out all those forms under-the-influence of my lovely Shiraz, which makes the writers cramp tolerable.

Next Tuesday is my first day of freedom. So think of me taking a lovely bubble bath, stuffing my face with chocolate, and washing it down with a fabulous Shiraz and then having an on-line party. Let me know if you want to join me, and tell me what you do to celebrate freedom, or what you would do, if you have a day all to yourself with out kids. Curious minds want to know.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Memorium

This past weekend, Silhouette Desire author, Sandra Hyatt, passed away while attending the New Zealand Romance Writers conference. Attendees have reported the cause of death was a massive brain bleed. Such a sudden and tragic end to one so young (45) is an impossible thing to wrap one's mind around.

Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Sandra's friends and family, especially her husband and children.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What a deal!

Here I was, under the very mistaken illusion that the $2 discount on my e-book on Amazon was a great deal. 67% off!

Apparently Daily Cheap Reads, Jr. Edition thought so, too, since they featured it yesterday:

But alas, $2 off is nothing. $2? Pshaw. I have now seen the light, and want to just say a big giant "thank you" to Amazon for giving us a $1558 discount on a Kindle book.

OK, granted, it's only 20% off, which isn't all that impressive as a percentage of the list price, but still, keeping the price well under $7000 was a brilliant move on Amazon's part. You can see exactly why they're the leading online book retailer. And it sure beats the alternative of coughing up the roughly $40,000 per year for four years to get a degree at MIT.

So just in case anyone has been putting off getting their own copy of "Nuclear Energy," here's your chance! The Kindle edition is currently on sale for the low, low price of just $6,232! I'm surprised Paula at Daily Cheap Reads hasn't picked up on this mega sale!!!

In all seriousness though, check out the "reviews." HILARIOUS!

But please don't try to sample this book. I wouldn't want you to hit "one click" by mistake. If I did that and Mr. Brice found out, you better believe it would be a nuclear disaster in my house sure to lead to WWIII.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why More Authors Are Turning To Amazon

Last Sunday the New York Times ran an article about Amazon's latest attempt to woo authors over to their imprints. They will be sharing numbers with them. Not only will they tell them how many books they sold over a period of time but they'll tell them how many they sold in each location around the country. The New York Times article suggests that this will do nothing more than make authors more neurotic or obsessed about their sales then they already are.

To me that's kind of insulting. I have never been given numbers on my sales from my publisher without asking for them. I have to wait a year before I find out what percentage of my sales are ebooks, what percentage are paperbacks and what percentage are audio. And until I read that article I didn't even know it was possible to find out what areas of the country my books sell best in. I don't think it makes me neurotic to want to know this information. After all, it's my career. But to be honest, my main motivation for wanting those numbers is because it would make self-promotion so much easier! 

Every publisher expects their authors to promote their own works. Even Jennifer Weiner has to design, buy and place her own ads in the New York Times and whatnot and only celebrity authors and A-listers get sent on tours these days. The reason for that is that publishers don't believe that tours work for authors. I don't think they necessarily believe that ads work either. That may be true in some cases but I really think it depends on the individual situation, book and author.

For instance, publishers will always tell you that at any Author event a large percentage of attendees will leave without buying a book. Okay, I believe that's the norm. It's never actually happened to me because if nothing else I'm really good at connecting with my audience. I have sold out of books at more than one event. I've never had more than one or two people leave a book event without buying a book excluding those who bought the book shortly before the signing. The problem for me when it comes to public readings has nothing to do with getting those who attend to buy a book. My problem is figuring out which locations I should tour to that will give me the biggest turnout. For instance, I toured in Denver and didn't get much of a turnout at all. I toured Orlando and people drove up from Miami and Fort Lauderdale just to see me. Apparently I have a big following in Florida. If I had known that I would have scheduled tours there for other books. But I don't know. So I've spent my money touring around to places hoping that maybe this is a location where my sales have been strong. I always inform my publisher of what my publicity plans are and they have never stepped forward and said, "Oh, that's great! Here's some info that might be helpful to you!" This by the way is in no reflection of my editor who has always been incredibly supportive and as helpful as he can be. But honestly, I don't think even he has the numbers as to how my ebooks are selling or where my paperbacks are most popular. That's all with another department that can't be bothered.

There's currently a TV show in development that's based loosely on my books. That enables me to shop my next book to several different publishers. However after sitting down with my agent and talking to her about Amazon it's hard to argue that their imprint might not be the best place to go. In addition to being able to access numbers, authors are presented with marketing plans before they sign the contract. So you know exactly what Amazon is going to do for you and what they won't. I defy you to find me an author who has ever gotten such a deal from one of the New York publishers. Sure, after they sign you they'll tell you they plan to publicize your work...assuming there is a plan which is rarely the case. But again, sometimes there is and if you're really lucky they may even contract a publicist to work with you. But the publicity and marketing is not a contractual obligation. If you think their plan is ineffective it's unlikely you'll be able to sway them in another direction and there's always the very likely chance that the entire plan will fall through without being fully executed.

I know the publishing houses hate Amazon. I know that they do have a few very valid reasons for that. But I also know that if Amazon continues to focus on the business angle of book-selling, focusing on marketing directly to consumers while publishers continue to focus all their marketing efforts on booksellers then more and more bestselling authors will go to Amazon.

Because it's not just about the art of writing. It's also about making a living.

Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Son of Langtry

This is my son. And our kitten. Some of you have seen this before on my facebook page. Anyway, I was unloading groceries and turned around to see this on the stairs.

He also created this:

He's 11 years old. And he may be funnier than I am. And smarter - he wouldn't let me embed the video here - insisting the link would drive viewers to the youtube site so he could increase his numbers. Where does he get this stuff?

You see, I turned 45 Monday. So I'm almost halfway through my life. And he comes up with this stuff at 11. It's pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Of course, I am a bit biased.

He's been doing these Lego stop-action movies all summer. He just decided to do it and figured it out. There are longer videos. And I'm can I harness his talent for evi...I mean good?

Maybe he could do some Gin Bombay videos using Lego stop-action? And would he do the work for Sour Skittles? These are the questions that haunt me (mainly because I'd really rather pay him in candy. Don't judge me).

This could turn into a paying gig for him. I have an author friend who laments that her teen daughters create websites and facebook pages for her hipster neighbors. They make so much money, they would never dream of getting the usual teen job of waiting tables or (like I did) detasseling corn. Why should they get their hands dirty if they can sit in their room and rake it in hand over fist?

I suggest she take a percentage out for rent, utilities - you know...overhead. That's what I'm going to do when the stop-action Lego film industry explodes.

Yeah...I'm definintely going to do that.

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Contest Winner!! Angela MacIntyre!

Angela, contat me at christie (at) to claim your prize.

Where there's smoke, there's fire.You know that statement really isn’t true. Sometimes there’s smoke. but no fire. Sometime there’s even sparks, and no fire. But it’s almost a guarantee that when there’s smoke, sparks, and flames, there’s gonna be a fire. I know what I’m talking about. You see, hubby has taken up welding.

Now many of you have read the blog about his plumbing attempts. To summarize: The destruction of numerous sheetrock walls, only to realize that it was a leaky faucet. Yeah, I’m not letting him forget that one.

Anyway, I’m here to tell you that he’s not quite as good of a welder as he is a plumber.

Let me set this story up a bit. My office has French doors and two large French windows that face the garage. And my desk faces the French doors. So I can see my dear hubby as he tinkers around in his garage. His recent tinkering involves his new toy: A welder.

Now, you’ve also heard me mention that my husband is a very frugal man. (And this will come into play again in this story later on.) This new toy was going to save him money. He bought the welder, in lieu of paying someone to weld in the floorboards to his much loved antique Falcon that he’s restoring. Personally, I have this image of him driving down the freeway when the floorboard literally falls off. But that is another matter, and possibly a great blog later on.

Anyway, I’m working at my desk, writing some really hot, smoldering scene and all the sudden I’m seeing sparks. Literally. I jump up to check on hubby. He’s down on his knees resting on a three-foot by three-foot piece of thick form padding.

“It’s nothing,” he assures me. “It’s normal.” Sparks are supposed to dance around him like flies on speed as he welds.

“Don’t they burn you?” I ask.

“Not much,” he answers as I see the little brown soldering spots on his shirt.

Now it took some getting used to, seeing the sparks, and occasionally seeing the smoke. But I trained my eye not to focus on it. After a few hours, I’m back into my story and out of the corner of my eye, I see sparks, I see smoke, but this time, I also spot some flames. Then I see hubby high-stepping it out of the garage, holding his foam knee supporter out as far as his arms can reach, as the flames shoot up a good two feet higher than his six foot frame. He tosses it on the concrete and runs for the water hose.

I step out and say, “I suppose that’s normal, too.”

“It’s nothing,” he assures me. “Happens all the time to welders.”

I just send him an evil eye.

Two days later, I’m back at work and we’ve avoided fires, so I’m feeling pretty confident.

I see hubby on the concrete without his foam knee pad, welding on the lawnmower. Now, I thought he was welding his floorboards. I step out and he tells me that his $89.99 lawnmower that he bought two years ago has lost another wheel. (Yes, this is where the whole frugal issue comes in.)

“Why don’t you just go out and buy another one?” Now, we’re not rich by no means, but I can guarantee you, we can afford a new lawnmower, especially the cheap-ass kind he’s going to buy.

“But I can make it last through the summer”, he says and I see the challenge in his eye. “My welder is paying for itself.” Not that he paid a lot for it; it was just like the lawnmower, the cheapest one he could find.

I step back inside and relax. I’m just about submersed back into my story when I see more flames. At first, I worry that the big ball of fire is my husband. But nope, it’s just lawnmower.

Now, I know my husband. He was a safety engineer and surely he wouldn’t weld on a lawnmower that still had gas in it? Would he?

I run to get a box of baking soda. Of course, I look pretty silly running out with tiny box of soda when an entire lawnmower’s on fire.

“Get back,” he yells at me. That pretty much tells me that he hadn’t removed the gas.

He shoots the water hose on the lawnmower and puts out the fire before we have to call 911 or before the dang thing explodes.

I wish I could tell you that’s the end of the story, but oh, no. It gets better. After the lawnmower cooled off, he finishes his welding job and with pride, he takes the charred cheap-ass lawnmower and mows the lawn. I wonder what my neighbors think? You gotta’ love this man.

Now in my next book, I don’t know how fire is going to come into play, but you can bet it’ll show up somewhere.

So how are things going at your home front? Any excitement? Is your hubby frugal? Are you? What do you do to save a buck that might make me feel my hubby isn’t so bad? Don’t forget that today I’m giving away an ARC of Don’t Mess With Texas and a DMWT-inspired necklace to one lucky commenter. So make sure you leave a comment.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Endings! by Diane Kelly

As both a writer and a reader, I love a story that has a happy ending. And real life happy endings are even better! It’s my privilege and pleasure to share one with you today.

Two years ago, two young women left the safety and comfort of the US to perform mission work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yep, the country that’s been embroiled in violent civil war for some time now. One of the young women was Christina, the daughter of my BFF and writing buddy Angela Cavener. The other was her good friend, Brittany.

In the DRC, these two young women women faced immense challenges ranging from malaria, to an ebola scare, to prejudice against whites, who have historically exploited the DRC’s resources and people and are viewed with distrust. Despite the constant challenges, the two made incredible strides and vastly improved the lives of the boys at the orphanage where they performed their mission work. Not only were they a source of spiritual comfort with their bright smiles and beautiful singing voices, but they were also able to obtain mosquito nets and soccer uniforms for the boys on top of performing their daily duties.

One of the boys at the orphanage had severely deformed legs and was unable to function properly. Getting Emmanuel a pair of prosthetic legs became Christina and Brittany’s goal, no easy feat in a country where many people live in abject poverty, lacking basic necessities. It took a year to get the funding and obtain the prosthetics, but they did it! This summer they were able to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and see Emmanuel fitted with his legs and start to learn to walk.

No doubt getting this young boy his legs has earned these two earth angels their wings!

Emmanuel is just one of many children who could benefit from some help. To learn more about Christina and Brittany’s mission work, visit their website at Donations to their work can be made by mailing a check contribution made out to Greenland Hills United Methodist Church with “PROJECT EMMANUEL” in the memo line to:

P.O. Box. 110495
Carrollton, Texas 75011

Hooray for happy endings! Let’s hope there are many more to come for these kids!

Post a comment today and you could win an ARC of my debut novel Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure! The winner's name will be posted at 9:00 PM Central time. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guest Author Maggie Jaimeson

I am THRILLED to have my good friend and critique partner, Maggie Jaimeson, come guest with us today.  Her new book EXPENDABLE just came out and I am so excited!  I've known Maggie for years and had the pleasure of reading several of her works, but his one is her gem.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romantic suspense.  She's giving away a signed copy of EXPENDABLE to one poster today, so show her some Killer Fiction love, ladies!  Take it away, Maggie...

Middle Age is the Beginning of Life...Again

by Maggie Jaimeson

As a child, and as a teen, I had lots of lofty dreams. I spent plenty of time imagining myself as a singer, an actress, and even an astronaut. As a child I carried a staff book with me, wrote music in my head as I walked along the street and then tried to notate it before I got home so I could play it on the piano. As a teen I was in theater, performed in plays and musicals. As a young adult I went to college and tried to balance my creative side with music and my "realistic" side with a degree in psychology. I continued that balance into my late twenties and early thirties with a lot of creative writing balanced by work in psychology as a family counselor. For five years I attempted to balance the passions of my youth with the practicality of having an adult career. I regularly published short stories in SF and Romance. I performed in summer stock theater when I could squeeze it in between counseling clients. When I decided to leave counseling, I even enjoyed being cast in a couple B movie parts which paid my bills for several months.

Then one day (at about age 34 years old) I woke and said: "It's time to put away childish dreams and become a 100% adult." AAACCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!!!

For the next twenty years, I did a reasonable facsimile of acting like a 100% adult. I got a series of good jobs, worked my way up the corporate ladder, became a manager, took on corporate leadership roles, made a good salary. I obeyed all the rules, did all the practical things. When I decided the corporate world was to black and white, I decided to enter Academia. in my late forties, I returned to college to get a doctorate degree and joined the professoriat and then college management and again worked my way up the ladder. It's a great career and I've developed a passion for good education.

For the most part life was fine and dandy--a couple health scares, a divorce, a new marriage--nothing I couldn't handle. I did everything right. Everyone was proud of me and my accomplishments. I was proud of me. I was passionate about my work in education. I was happy on a daily basis. I had no complaints, except ... something was missing.

I know, I know. I wasn't supposed to want more. I had everything most people dream of--a career, a great family, financial stability. It's just downright selfish to want more. But I did and I couldn't let the feeling go.

The problem was I had invested all my creativity into my profession and my passion for education. But a part of my soul had taken an extended vacation when I "put away childish things." For twenty years I no longer made time to write, to act, to play music. Every moment was filled with work or family. I was satisfied with life, but I still yearned for something that was missing. Honestly, for the longest time I didn't know what it was because I'd very successfully suppressed those "childish" things.

During my fiftieth year I woke and said: "How did I get to be this age and never make time for those dreams that were part of my foundation?" That's when I returned to writing. At the ripe young age of 50 I went back to my roots. Back to creativity without an agenda or an expected end product. Back to my true soul--the soul I knew in my youth. And it has been renewing on a spiritual level I thought I had lost.

I'm still an "adult." I still work a day job, make good money, and help people get an education. But I've also integrated my "youth" into my day-to-day to life. My soul has renewed its vigor by no longer ignoring the other side--the passionate, imagineering, no rules side. The side that creates the world in an image that is interesting and empowering. A world where the good guys struggle but always prevail in the end. My youthful side is not jaded or distrustful. My youthful side is still filled with idealism and the true belief that love will prevail. It's a great journey to make. Now I'm happy for both sides of me--the adult and the young person. I've learned to embrace them into one me.

In my book, EXPENDABLE, Reed Adler has lived a life defined by duty--the duty of a Marine with Special Operations training. After retiring from the military, Reed finds himself in a middle age journey--one frought with bouts of PTSD and wondering what he should do next, what kind of man he is and how that differs from the man he wants to be. Then he meets Jenna Mosier, a woman who has given up hope for family, for love, for anything beyond her business and career. When Jenna learns of her estranged sister's death, she is brought face-to-face with her past and needs to determine how much of that past will shape her future. Yes, there is murder and evil science masquerading as life changing help. But at its foundation, EXPENDABLE is about finding one's way both in childhood and adulthood. It's about determining what is important, what you can give up, and what you can't accept no matter how hard you try. It is a difficult journey, but one that in the end renews life.

What makes your soul sing? What takes you back to the passions of your youth? What do you want to be sure to bring forward as an adult? Make the time to nourish your soul.


After a bitter fight, Jenna Mosier's pregnant sister ran away. Now ten years later, Tanya is dead—murdered. A bloody note clutched in her hand pleads for someone to rescue her baby—a child Jenna must find to make up for not saving her sister.

Former Marine Reed Adler thought he left danger behind when he retired from Special Ops command. But faced with a dead body and a terrified ten-year-old boy in his Backyard—and a mesmerizing woman who's tied to both—Reed finds himself pulled into his most complex mission yet.

Ensnared in a dangerous mystery involving biogenetics research and children with no identities, Jenna and Reed must rely on each other for survival. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become. The cost of saving her nephew may be their hearts...and their lives.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Guest Author Melissa Bourbon

Please join me in welcoming one of my own personal favorite authors (small fan girl squee!), Melissa Bourbon! (Who, by the way, also writes fantstic books as Misa Ramirez!)  She's just launching a new mystery series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on book #1.  So, take it away, Melissa...

It wasn’t until recently when I was writing the first book in A Magical Dressmaking mystery series that I began to think of my muse, or muses as the case may be, as something really tangible that I could summon at will, or that would betray me by being absent when I needed her/them most. In fact, I can’t say that I thought about my muses --because as I’m writing this, I’ve had an epiphany and do believe that I have more than one-- much at all.

But they’ve shown their true colors. I’d begun to think of them as fickle girls, but I’ve changed my tune. I’ll never look at them in quite the same way or take for granted the beauty of having them on the job, fully engaged in my creative process, or the power of their insight.

I have new respect for my muses and what they offer through song, practice, and memory.

It often takes a big shake up and the absence of something to really appreciate what you have. That’s how it happened for me. You know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder and all that? It worked. They left, I was melancholy, and they returned with a new light for me to follow.

How very poetic, I know.

I’m not a metaphysical girl. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Let me be clear, I don’t, like, sit around thinking about cliches and how they apply to my life. But cliches are cliches because there is truth in them and sometimes that truth is more palatable when taken in a pithy dose. The absence of my muses is what helped me recognize them in the first place. It also helped me appreciate the creative energy they bring into the my writing equation.

They deserted me several times while I was writing Pleating for Mercy, but it was through that desertion that I came to appreciate what they are to me and what they do. I can pinpoint exactly when they left, almost down to the very minute. My creativity had dried up. I had writer’s block. I was panicking, thinking I’d never finish this book, and if I did, it would suck.

But I can also look back and see when them returning--after I’d taken much needed time away from my project, had recharged, and had allowed my mind to open up, let fresh idea in, and see things in a new way.

What I realized was that those clever girls didn’t abandon me,. I’d temporarily shut them out. I was on overload and completely unable to feel their creative energy flow into me. And so they stepped aside and led me away from my writing and back into reality where I could and did regain perspective on my characters and plot by doing the opposite of what I always think I should do. I always think I should keep going, push through the writing pain, persevere and give myself permission to write crap and revise later (which I do whether I give myself permission or not). I never think that stopping and taking precious time away from my writing is the answer.

But it is! I’ve completely changed my thought process on this idea and it’s been so freeing. If only I’d listened to the girls in my head sooner I might have staved off some gray hairs and wrinkles and the divot in my forehead from banging it against the wall.

Better late than never, right?

So my muses, yet to be named (though Lola and Harlow come to mind), are alive and well, ever-present, and an important part of my creativity. Thank God I realized it!

How about you? Have you ever felt that your muse(s) has abandoned you? Did you have an epiphany like I did?

Here's a taste of Pleating for Mercy, the brand new book in A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series. The release date was August 2nd!


Visit Melissa at her website

Melissa on Twitter
Melissa on Facebook
And at Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together!


Chapter 1

Rumors about the Cassidy women and their magic swirled through Bliss, Texas like a gathering tornado. For 150 years, the family had managed to dodge most of the rumors, brushing off the idea that magic infused their handwork, and chalking up any unusual goings-on to coincidence.

But we all knew that the magic started the very day Butch Cassidy, my great-great-great grandfather, had turned his back to an ancient Argentinean fountain, dropped a gold coin into it, and made a wish. The Cassidy family legend says he asked for his firstborn child, and all who came after, to live a charmed life, the threads of good fortune, talent, and history flowing like magic from their fingertips.

That magic spilled from the Cassidy women’s hands into handmade tapestries and homespun wool, crewel embroidery and perfectly pieced and stitched quilts. And into my dressmaking. It connected us to our history, and to one another.

Butch hadn’t wanted his family to be outcasts as he and Cressida had been, and so his Argentinean wish also gifted his descendants with their own special charms. Whatever Meemaw, my great-grandmother, wanted, she got. My Grandmother, Nana, was a goat-whisperer. Mama’s green thumb could make anything grow.

None of understood how these charms were supposed to endear us to our neighbors. No matter how hard we tried to keep our magic on the down-low--so we wouldn’t wind up in our own contemporary Texas version of the Salem Witch Trials--people saw. And they talked.

The townsfolk came to Mama when their crops wouldn’t grow. They came to Nana when their goats wouldn’t mind. And they came to Meemaw when they wanted something so badly, they couldn’t see straight. I was seventeen when I finally realized that what Butch had really given the women in my family was a thread that connected them with others.

But Butch’s wish had apparently exhausted itself before I was born. I had no special charm, and I’d always felt as if a part of me was missing because of it.

Being back home in Bliss made the feeling stronger.

Meemaw had been gone five months now, but the old red farmhouse just off the square at 2112 Mockingbird Lane looked the same as it had when I was a girl. The steep pitch of the roof, the shuttered windows, the old pecan tree shading the left side of the house--it all sent me reeling back to my childhood and all the time I’d spent here with her.

I’d been back for five weeks and had worked nonstop, converting the downstairs of the house into my own designer dressmaking shop, calling it Buttons & Bows in honor of my great-great grandmother, Loretta Mae, but Bliss was not the same without her. Maybe that’s the part of me that was really missing.

What had been Loretta Mae’s dining room was now my cutting and work space. My five year old state of the art digital Pfaff sewing machine and Meemaw’s old Singer sat side by side on their respective sewing tables. An 8 foot long white-topped cutting table was in the center of the room, unused as of yet. Meemaw had one old dress form which I’d dragged down from the attic. I’d splurged and bought two more, anticipating a brisk dressmaking business which had yet to materialize.

I’d taken to talking to her during the dull spots in my days. “Meemaw,” I said now, sitting in my workroom, hemming a pair of pants, “it’s lonesome without you. I sure wish you were here.”

A breeze suddenly blew in through the screen, fluttering the butter yellow sheers that hung on either side of the window as if Meemaw could hear me from the spirit world. It was no secret that she’d wanted me back in Bliss. Was it so farfetched to think she’d be hanging around now that she’d finally gotten what she’d wanted?

I adjusted my square-framed glasses before pulling a needle through the pant leg. Gripping the thick synthetic fabric sent a shiver through me akin to fingernails scraping down a chalkboard. Bliss was not a mecca of fashion; so far I’d been asked to hem polyester pants, shorten the sleeves of polyester jackets, and repair countless other polyester garments. No one had hired me to design matching mother and daughter couture frocks, create a slinky dress for a night out on the town in Dallas, or anything else remotely challenging or interesting.

I kept the faith, though. Meemaw wouldn’t have brought me back home just to watch me fail.

As I finished the last stitch and tied off the thread, a flash of something outside caught my eye. I looked past the french doors that separated my work space from what had been Meemaw’s gathering room and was now the boutique portion of Buttons & Bows. The window gave a clear view of the front yard, the wisteria climbing up the sturdy trellis archway, and the street beyond. Just as I was about to dismiss it as my imagination, the bells I’d attached to a ribbon and hung from the knob danced in a jingling frenzy and the front door flung open. I jumped, startled, dropping the slacks, but clutching the needle.

A woman sidled into the boutique. Her dark hair was pulled up in the back into a messy, but trendy, bun and I noticed that her eyes were red and tired looking despite the heavy makeup she wore. She had on jean shorts, a snap front top that she’d gathered and tied in a knot below her breastbone, and wedge-heeled shoes. With her thumbs crooked in her back pockets and the way she jiggled one foot back and forth, she reminded me of Daisy Duke--with a muffin top.

Except for the Gucci bag slung over her shoulder. That purse was the real deal and had cost more than two thousand dollars, or I wasn’t Harlow Jane Cassidy.

A deep frown tugged at the corners of her shimmering pink lips as she scanned the room. “Huh, this isn’t at all what I pictured.”

Not knowing what she’d pictured, I said, “Can I help you?”

“Just browsing,” she said with a dismissive wave. She sauntered over to the opposite side of the room where a matching olive green and gold paisley damask sofa and love seat snuggled in one corner. They’d been the nicest pieces of furniture Loretta Mae had owned and some of the few I’d kept. I’d added a plush red velvet settee and a coffee table to the grouping. It was the consultation area of the boutique--though I’d yet to use it.

The woman bypassed the sitting area and went straight for the one-of-a-kind Harlow Cassidy creations that hung on a portable garment rack. She gave a low whistle as she ran her hand from one side to the other, fanning the sleeves of the pieces. “Did you make all of these?”

“I sure did,” I said, preening just a tad. Buttons & Bows was a custom boutique, but I had a handful of items leftover from my time in L.A. and New York to display and I’d scrambled to create samples to showcase.

She turned, peering over her shoulder and giving me a once over. “You don’t look like a fashion designer.”

I pushed my glasses onto the top of my head so I could peer at her, which served to hold my curls away from my face. Well, she didn’t look like she could afford a real Gucci, I thought, but I didn’t say it. Meemaw had always taught me not to judge a book by its cover. If this woman dragged around an expensive designer purse in little ol’ Bliss, she very well might need a fancy gown for something, and be able to pay for it.

I balled my fists, jerking when I accidentally pricked my palm with the needle I still held. My smile tightened--from her attitude as well as from the lingering sting on my hand--as I caught a quick glimpse of myself in the freestanding oval mirror next to the garment rack. I looked comfortable and stylish, not an easy accomplishment. Designer jeans. White blouse and color-blocked black and white jacket--made by me. Two inch heeled sandals which probably cost more than this woman’s entire wardrobe. Not that I’d had to pay for them, mind you. Even a bottom-of-the-ladder fashion designer with Maximilian got to shop at the company’s end-of-season sales, which meant fabulous clothes and accessories at a steal, a perk I was going to sorely miss.

I kept my voice pleasant despite the bristling I felt creep up inside me. “Sorry to disappoint. What does a fashion designer look like?”

She shrugged, a new strand of hair falling from the clip at the back of her head and framing her face. “Guess I thought you’d look all done up, ya know? Or be a gay man,” she tittered.

Huh. She had a point about the gay man thing. “Are you looking for anything in particular? Buttons & Bows is a custom boutique. I design garments specifically for the customer. Other than those items,” I said, gesturing to the dresses she was flipping through, “it’s not an off-the-rack shop.”

Before she could respond, the bells on the front door jingled again and the door banged open, hitting the wall. I made a mental note to get a spring or doorstop. There were a million things to fix around the old farmhouse. The list was already as long as my arm.

A woman stood in the doorway, the bright light from outside sneaking in around her, creating her silhouette. “Harlow Cassidy,” she cried out. “I didn’t believe it could really be true, but it is! Oh, thank God! I need your help!”


“A seamless blend of mystery, magic, and dress-making, with a cast of masterfully tailored characters you’ll want to visit again and again.”~Nationally Bestselling Author, Jennie Bentley

“A crime-solving ghost and magical charms from the past make PLEATING FOR MERCY a sure winner! The Cassidy women are naturally drawn to mystery and mischief. You’ll love meeting them! ” —NYT Bestselling Author Maggie Sefton

Order Pleating for Mercy Now!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


It's "that" time again. Time for the triplets to head back to their campuses for another year of college. And once again time for their mother to go through her annual separation blues. I swear. Each time they move out it's harder than it was the last time. And each time I make plans as to how I'm going to cope with their departures.

First, of course, I vow to write my little heart out. Unfortunately, it's somewhat difficult to write "funny" when you're blubbering. Guess it's time to pull that serial killer story out again, huh?

Secondly, I begin a list of the various projects I need to finish around the house before winter. Some fun.

Thirdly, I plan a vacation I won't take because I can't get off work because everyone else has already scheduled time off.

And there's always the usual "lose weight, exercise more, eat better" promises I make myself, but rarely keep.

This year is different in one significant respect: It's the triplets' last year of college. And that means when they graduate, they will actually be looking for employment that could take them anywhere and they may never move back home again.

Oh, buddy. This is way too depressing to contemplate.

One thing I have decided to do is to start participating in writers' conferences more often. In fact, I've got two scheduled in the next two months and I'll be presenting with Lesley Langtry at a conference next month and I'm really looking forward to that.

I'm also thinking about starting an empty nester support group.

I'll supply the wine and tissues.

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The great Groupon debate

I've got to tell you I had the strangest morning yesterday. I blame Groupon.

About 500 years ago, there was this daily offer in my inbox for house cleaning. It was a great deal. And my fantasy - to have someone else clean up after my crazy family for once. But could I really invite strangers in to see the kind of dust we kick up? I'd click on the Groupon. Then I'd close it. Then I'd click on it. This went on all day.

Finally, I got up my nerve and I bought that fricking thing at about 11:00 p.m., right before the offer expired. So then I had this Groupon, but it seemed so indulgent. And it was kind of outside my comfort zone. And shouldn't I be doing my own cleaning anyway? So I buried it in my organizer to use, "when I really need it."

God, I'm such a dork.

Anyway, when we were on vacation last week, I started thinking of that Erma Bombeck essay that she wrote late in life about how she wished she would have relaxed more, and not put off so much and how she wishes she would have burned the candles that were too good to light but instead got put away in the closet to gather dust. That was my coupon. Oh I'd put it away, but I hadn't forgotten about it.

So I pulled out my little Groupon and scheduled the cleaners.

I wish I'd have been suave from that moment on, but baby steps, right? I cleaned the house last night, just to be ready for the maid service. We don't want them to see a crummy stove, right? Or dust on the window sills? Or...?

Gah. They arrived, bright and cheery yesterday morning and I tried to write and I tried to think of other things, but all I could think about was how wild it was to have them here. And that I wanted to see them scrub that front entry way, even though I didn't want them to see me seeing them scrub the front entryway. Finally, I spared all of us and left to run errands.

In the end, the house looks great. Better than I could have made it. And I hope I've grown a little bit. Maybe. Stepped outside the old comfort zone? At least I finally used the Groupon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

It's a beautiful thing...

By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

When technology finally catches up to our expectations.

Shortly after my very first book came out, back in November of 2008, a friend of mine from New York met me for lunch in Baltimore. She’d been one of my first writing friends; she shared my journey to publication and cheered me on for the seven years I’d known her. I was so excited to see her. While we were eating lunch, she asked me when my book was going to come out on Kindle. She had just purchased her Kindle and refused to buy another paperback—even mine. I was crushed—not because she wasn’t going to buy my book until it went on Kindle (heck, I offered to give her a paperback) but because I’d never get the chance to sign a book to her. She nicely refused my offer of a book because living in a studio apartment and being the voracious reader she was, she just didn’t have the room for books. Still, she assured me that she would buy my book as soon as it came out on the Kindle. I said something like, “Yeah, but what am I supposed to do? Sign your Kindle?”

Since then I’ve had people approach me at book signings asking me to sign book marks, mailing labels, and odd scraps of paper all because they were e-book readers. I gladly signed them but still it felt as if something were missing—like the book. Then, a few years ago, a wonderful young woman approached me at a book signing. She held out her Kindle and a sharpie and asked me to sign her Kindle. I was floored. She explained that she had a skin on it, but wanted only her favorite authors to sign it. I was honored, and I have to tell you, when I saw the company my signature was keeping, I was walking on air. But as cool as that was, there was something missing. The reader got a blanket signature, from each of her favorite authors, but not a signature or a personalized inscription for each of her books.

Technology had failed to keep up with my expectations of a personalized e-book signing until a few weeks ago. One day I was on one of my writer’s loops and saw a thread about signing Kindle books. I followed the link and was amazed to find out that finally, someone figured out how I, and all of my e-book reader friends can get our books signed. I found Kindle graph! A website where you can request personalized digital inscriptions for more than 4,0000 books from over 800 authors, and the author list is growing daily. I checked it out, and signed up. Now, every day I get an email telling me how many Kindle graph requests I have. And every morning I sit at my desk, in my pajamas, with my coffee and go to a virtual e-book signing. How cool is that? And the best part is, you don't even have to see me in my jammies!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Playing It Cool

Have you ever been watching someone and they fell down, then hopped up and continued on because they think no one saw? Or if you have cats or have been exposed to cats, have you ever seen them fall down and NOT land on their feet? They almost always sit down and start bathing as if busting their hiney was exactly what they intended and just part of their schedule. Cats do not handle embarassment well.

So last weekend, I'm working in the garage and the garage door for my neighbor across the alley goes up. He backs his car out and turns the wheel hard not ten feet out of the garage and runs straight into his fence. So I'm busy working, but watching out of the corner of my eye thinking "What in God's name was he thinking?" when he puts the car in drive, pulls back into the garage, gets out of the car, closes the garage and goes inside his house.

As if that's what he intended to do all along. I had a really good laugh at his expense. He totally reminded me of my very clumsy, 22-pound Maine coon.

Then there's me - the epitomy of calm under pressure. Last Monday, I was eating leftover steak at my desk at the day job and working on my next novel. I swallowed a bite too big and it got lodged in my throat. So I tried drinking to wash it down, but no go. Then I realized I couldn't breathe. So by this time, I'm making choking sounds, but by the time my co-workers realized what was happening and almost tore my cubicle down, I'd already given myself the Heimlich and was fine.

I think I gave several people a heart attack, and I'm certain more than a couple now think I'm a space alien since I wasn't in the least bit panicked. I tried to explain that panicking just used more air and if I hadn't been successful, I would have knocked on the next cubicle and made the universal choking sign, but I think I just reinforced that whole space alien theory even more.

Of course, my coworkers that I am good friends with and my friends outside of work just nodded when I told the story and laughed. And all of them said the same thing "Well, if it had been anyone else...."

But me, I insist on being unique. :)

Deadly Calm DeLeon

Friday, August 05, 2011

Genre 101

As you probably already know, I'm a big fan of the indie publishing movement. That's not to say I don't read traditionally-published books -- in fact, I read way more trad books than indie books -- or that I don't ever want a traditional contract. But I really like the freedom that authors are experiencing and the ability to control their product and profits.

It's also exciting as a reader, because backlist is coming back, and you're starting to see books that NY wouldn't take a chance on, even if they're really good books.

Of course, with the good also comes the bad. It's not secret that some indie books are, how shall I put this diplomatically? A bit lacking in the editorial department. Many indie authors hire freelance editors (often these are NY editors moonlighting on the side), but some simply finish typing THE END and then put it up without running it through a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes.

I'm not going to go into the blunders of poor editing, because that has been rehashed countless times before. Today I'm going to vent about something different, but still related to the issue of losing the gatekeepers: not classifying your book properly.

Nearly once a week, I have to explain to writers on what exactly constitutes "romance fiction." Seems lots of people want to call their book a romance (because that's a hot-selling genre) simply because their main characters have sex at some point in the book. I (and the other RWA members and romance fans) explain that for a novel to be considered a "romance," it must contain two basic elements: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

From the RWA website:

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally-Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

If your book does not have these two elements, it is not a romance novel. Period. It may or may not contain strong romantic elements (for example, my book Codename: Dancer would be categorized as a YA mystery with romantic elements -- the romance is a subplot that will follow the arc of the entire series and will not be resolved until the end of the series, but the mystery is what is primary in each book).

Another genre that some authors seem to have trouble defining is the Legal Thriller. I read a blurb yesterday for a book that the author (a lawyer in his day job) was touting as a legal thriller, but to me, the description just read as a novel where the main character just so happened to be a lawyer. Now, admittedly, he was having some trouble with his blurb, so it's entirely possible he didn't get the full premise across.

But that's a pet peeve of mine. Just because your book may have suspense elements and the main characters are lawyers, that doesn't make it a legal thriller. Don't call something a legal thriller simply because "thrillers" are hot on Kindle.

A legal thriller is a sub-genre of thriller and crime fiction in which the major characters are lawyers and their employees. It may or may not focus on a courtroom battele, but the justice system itself is always a major part of these books. In fact, one could almost argue that the law almost functions as one of the characters. The legal system provides the framework for the legal thriller in the same way that the the system of modern police work does for the police procedural. (You wouldn't call a novel a police procedural simply because the main character is a cop, would you?)

So what about you? Have you seen any books that you feel are improperly classified lately? Or have you read any books you just want to rave about?

What are you reading?

Since I mentioned Codename, I feel like giving away an e-book copy. Just a comment and you'll be entered to win! I'll draw the winner Sunday night, at 6 pm EST.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

My Own Personal Best Beauty Buy List

A while back I wrote that I went on a skincare shopping binge. Now that I've been using the products for a little over a month it seems only fair that I tell you what's worth splurging on and what isn't. I have to say some of the products are so awesome I, for the first time in YEARS, will now venture out of my home without makeup and like, you know, go places! So although this isn't a beauty blog I just have to share because I'm kinda becoming a skincare-geek. Besides, you know you wanna know.

Clarosonic Mia:  Totally worth it. It cleans clogged pores in a single bound! It exfoliates your skin and no matter WHAT products you're using they're going to be a lot more effective because they'll penetrate further into your skin. 

Neutrogena Healthy Defense: It does the job; as in it's no better or worse than all the other decent daytime moisturizers out there. It says it contains "superior anti-aging sun protection" otherwise know as...wait for it...basic sunscreen! If you're using Aveeno and you love it stick with that. If you're paying $50 for Lancôme's Primordiale-whatever, switch. 

Neutrogena On The Spot Acne Treatment: SO WORTH IT!  I can't believe I'm including an acne cream on my list but this stuff is like magic. It has a low level of benzolyl peroxide but for some magical reason it seems to QUICKLY clear up my occasional flareups of hormonal chin acne (doesn't that conjure up a lovely picture?) without drying out the surrounding skin. I'm not sure how they do it, pixie dust, bird poop...I don't know. I don't have the patience to read the full ingredient list but I know it works faster than anything else I've ever used with no drawbacks.

Perle Skin Brightening Cream by Neocutis:  If you have any uneven skin tone or hyper-pigmentation whip out the Visa because this stuff is pricey but oh-so-good and ooooh-so-addictive. Of all the products I bought this is one of my absolute favs. I saw a difference in a week!

Lumière by Neocutis:  Worth it (with a caveat). The skin around my eyes is now positively silky and my dark circles are diminished BUT if you're like me and your only noticeable eye problem are mild dark circles (and not fine lines) you can probably get the similar effect for cheaper.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup remover: So not worth it. This is supposed to be more effective than other eye makeup removers and gentler on the eyes. That's why it's 5xs more expensive than all the other eye makeup removers. Whatever. Stick with the $5 wipes you can buy at Trader Joes. You'll save money AND you'll get a free sample to munch on. Remember, they never give you free tasters of popcorn shrimp at the Lancôme counter

Skinceuticals Renew Overnight: Proof that there is a God and She loves us. Seriously this stuff has changed my face. I can now glow without doing anything drastic like, I don't know, dipping myself in radiation or getting pregnant. AND the fine lines on my forehead are barely noticeable now! I love, love, love this product. I think it might even be worth taking on a second job so you can afford it...well, okay maybe not. But if you DO have to take a second job this product will keep you from looking stressed about it ;-)

Okay, that's it. Hope you don't mind my taking over a literary blog with something this superficial. But what's the point of having a screenname like Kyra "fashionista fatale" Davis if you're not going to engage in the occasional superficial pleasure?  

--Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I'm Melting....melting...

It's hot. I'm hot. My basset looks like he's melted onto the kitchen floor. My kids haven't left the house in weeks - and I'm terrified to walk outside with eggs.

You can't buy milkshakes in this weather - even at a drive-thru. The second that shake hits the air, it doesn't melt, it evaporates as if I'd shot it with a lazer (which of course I wouldn't do, because hey! It's a milkshake!).

You can't let a black dog outside for more than a minute. Their little brains dissolve. I know this because I'm babysitting my friend Michele's black shitzu. I think she's forgotten she's a dog. And she keeps bogarting the a/c vents.

I don't leave anything in the car now. I left my cell in the car for an hour and when I got it, it went into a kind of Linda Blair activity with spinning icons and shutting on and off. Even leaving the windows open during the day doesn't help. In fact - it may be making things worse.

It sucks to walk out of the house, after a shower, only to be coated in a layer of enough sweat to put out a small housefire. Then you walk into an air-conditioned building and start shivering.

It was 113 degrees today. Clearly, Hell has opened up a strip mall in the midwest.

The worst thing ever just happened. I went to the fridge for an ice-cold Becks, only to find I didn't have any. I don't even want to go out and get one. Now that's pathetic. Leslie sad...

I hope you are doing better. Please tell me it's cool outside...somewhere...

The Assassin

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Another Day at the Craig Household

And the winner is..... BoDaisy! Bodaisy, email me at christie (at)

It’s Sunday and I sit here at my desk trying to decide how to approach this very real, personal-experience blog. This one is a little more difficult than most. Don’t worry, it’s not overly sad, so you won’t need a box of tissues. Although, I’m sure my son would love to know that you shed a tear for all his pain and suffering. And yes, there was a lot of that. Unfortunately, the chances are, any tears you may experience will be tears of mirth.

So what’s so difficult about writing this blog? Well, the first thing I always do when approaching a blog is to figure out the underlined message, the theme, or as my old sixth-grade English teacher would call it, the premise. And that’s a problem, because in my opinion this blog has four morals/messages/themes. And I’m not sure which one really is the main topic. So I’m going to ask for your help. After reading the post, tell me which one of the below themes best describe this story. Or even better, if you have a different one, let me know.

1. Warning: Never try this at home
2. Mama always knows best—when will they ever learn?
3. If you can laugh at it, you can live with it—or at least you can when the skin grows back.
4. Why the expression “Chapped Ass” has a whole new meaning now.

Now, before I really start the blog, I feel I should tell you that I only write this with my son’s permission. There just isn’t much he won’t tell you. And his sense of humor is no doubt in optimum working order. You’ve heard the acronym TMI, right? Well to my son (I’ll admit it, he may have inherited this trait—from his father, of course) he thinks it stands for: Tell Me Instantly.

Okay, now that I’ve built up your curiosity, let me explain. The story begins several months ago. My son had been experiencing some back pain. He found that heat helped soothe his sore muscles. One morning, I’m sipping my hot coffee, he walked into my office shirtless and wearing PJ bottoms. Now when I’m writing, it takes a good opening line to get my attention out of a story. And he had a pretty good one, “Mom, does this look bad?”

He turned around and I immediately saw a blister the size of a nickel on his back.

“What happened?”

“Heating pad,” he told me. “I fell asleep on it.” (Here is premise number one: Warning: Never try this at home.)

My mouth dropped open. “Good Lord, son. It has to be broken to get that hot. Throw it away!” (Premise number two: Mama knows best—will they ever learn?)

But did he listen to mom’s advice? Hell no. In his defense, it’s not all his fault. He was born with two serious ailments that led to this situation.

A: he’s a man. (This ailment is never going to change.)

B: he’s not quite out of the stage where he thinks everything his mom tells him is stupid, and some day mom will be forced to see this. (This ailment may change, but considering even this experience hasn’t made a load of difference, I’m not holding my breath.)

Anyway, back to the story. Let’s fast forward a week. I’m at my computer sipping my hot coffee and in walked my son, again shirtless and wearing PJ bottoms.

“Mom,” he said, “I hate to say it, but you might have been right.” Now this was an excellent opening line and I immediately gave him my full attention.

“About what?”

“The heating pad,” he said and frowned in what appeared to be pain.

I frowned back at him. “Turn around.”

He did and I didn’t see any nickel-sized blisters.

“I think you’re okay.”

He looked back at me over his shoulder. “I don’t think so. It’s not my back.” He reached his hand back and pointed downward.

Of course, I did what every loving, concerned parent would do. I started laughing. “You burnt your a$$?”

He nodded and smiled somewhat sheepishly. You gotta love that kid’s ability to smile in the face of pain.

Normally, I don’t ask to be mooned, but as I said, I’m a concerned parent. “Drop your drawers, buddy.”

Much to his credit, he flinched. “Do I have to?”

I give him the maternal stink eye.

“I’ve seen it before.”

He shot me the moms-are-idiots look and said, “You haven’t seen it in years. It might have changed. Gotten a lot prettier, of course.”

I rolled my eyes. “Just do it.”

He did it. Down came the PJ bottoms and I gave him my honest assessment and opinion, which was: “Holy Shit!” We’re not talking nickels anymore, people; we’re talking baseballs and both cheeks.

Now, for the sake of keeping this story from turning into a novel, let’s just jump forward to the emergency room.

“What’s the reason for your visit?” the attendant asked.

Hubby answered, “I’ve always said he was a pain the a$$, now he knows I’m right.” Yeah, hubby has a bit of a sense o f humor, too.

Now while there were some funny comments made about my son being unable to sit in the sitting room, let’s fast forward to when we actually see the good doctor whom I sure wished he’d called in sick that day.

Doctor said, “Pull your pants down.”

Son said, “Can I just open my mouth and say ‘Ahh?’”

Doctor said, “I have other patients.”

Son said, “Not like me you don’t. This one is going to be memorable—a highlight of your career. And by the way, it’s okay to laugh. My mom did.” He pulled down his pants, without succumbing to tears, which was amazing.

Doctor, a true professional, gave us a very intelligent assessment of the situation: “Holy shit!” (See, it wasn’t just me.)

Hubby said, “He’s a butt model, Doc. Please tell us his career isn’t over.” (Premise number 3: if you can laugh at it, you can live with it?)

The doc, obviously not a fan of the motto, said, “This is serious. Do you know what third degree burns mean?”

Son, who seldom does serious even when in extreme pain, and especially when he’s exposing his buttocks, said, “It means my mooning days are over ‘cause if I’m ever in lineup, they’ll know it was me.” That actually got a chuckle out of the doctor.

It also meant six weeks of wound therapy, and my son dropping his drawers to more women that he’d ever fantasized about.

It also meant my changing butt bandages for six weeks while desperately working on a deadline. So if my next book has a lot of a strange humor in it, you’ll know why.

And that concludes my story with the last underlined theme of: Why the expression “Chapped Ass” has a whole new meaning now.

So, what has been going on in your household? Anything exciting to share?

And today I have a very special contest. I’m giving away an ARC of Don’t Mess With Texas. That’s right, tell me which of the morals/messages/themes you feel better suited this story, or come up with a new one and one commenter will win an ARC of the first book in my Hotter in Texas series.