Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas this year!  I had a fabulous time.  Lots of family, lots of food, lots of gifts.  The Man and I went a little bit overboard with presents for the kids this year, but it was totally worth it on Christmas morning.  This was the first year that we let my 11 year old be an “honorary elf”, and he loved the job.  My 2 year old now adds “Merry Miss-mas” to the end of everything he says.  I have a feeling we’ll be hearing it well into June.   

In addition to the items Santa left under the tree for me this year, we also got another amazing gift… we found out that we’ll be welcoming a new baby into the family soon!  I’m due in July, so anyone who has baby names suggestions, lay em on me.  (We’re so bad at names.  My 2 year old was “little buddy” for the first week of his life before we settled on something.) 

In light of our upcoming addition, I’ve been sitting down and composing my list of New Year’s resolutions.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. Say “no” more often.  This year I calculated that I’ve spent at least two whole months working on writing related “extras” (guest blogs, promo activities, interviews, etc.), and not working on my next book.  This year I know I’m going to be shorter on time than usual… at least after July…  which means I’m going to have to use it wisely when I have it.  As much as I love doing all the extras, I’m going to make myself say no more often.

2. Keep a clean office!  I am not one of those people that can write in a messy space.  When my surroundings are unorganized, my thoughts get unorganized, too.  And for the last four months my office has been in a constant state of disarray.  At the moment, it’s a dumping ground for discarded furniture from throughout the house and unpacked moving boxes.   Come January, cleaning it up is my first project, and keeping it clean will be my challenge.   

3. Make sleep a priority.  I know, I can hear some of you laughing at me already.  “She’s having a new baby and expects to get more sleep?”   But the truth is that everything else in my life seems to come before sleep for me.  I’ll short myself on sleep to sneak in more writing time, or to sneak in more alone time with The Man after the kids go to bed, or to have a few minutes to myself before the kids get up.  But the truth is, I’m always exhausted and never quite getting enough sleep.  I read a study once that said the people who live the longest get an average of 9 hours of sleep a night.  If that’s true, I’m so screwed.  So, I’m vowing to get more sleep whenever I can.
    4. Don’t worry , be happy.  Yes, I totally stole that from Bobby McFerrin, but it’s going to be my no-stress motto this year.    I learned some very valuable lessons in 2011.  Like, I can extend a book deadline by 6 months, and the world doesn’t actually come to an end.  I can experiment with different genres, and my readership won’t instantly abandon my en masse.  I can even forget to blog one day (sorry, ladies!), and the wrath of the writing gods does not rain down upon me.  Really, there’s nothing all that important that’s it worth the mental and physical stress we tend to put on ourselves about it.  So I’m going to try to worry less and be happy with whatever the outcome is more.          
      Anyone else have some resolutions that they’d like to publicly announce?  (Because once you write it here, I will hold you to it!)  Any fun New Year’s plans?  Whatever they are, I hope enjoy saying good-bye to 2011 and welcoming in 2012!  See you all next year…

      ~Trigger Happy Halliday

      P.S. Don’t forget to come join us for our super spectacular New Year’s bash here next week as we’ll be giving away prizes every day, plus a fabulous ereader grand prize!  Details are on the sidebar à

      Thursday, December 29, 2011

      Mad for Mad Men

      Between my day job, writing, and the demands of family, I don't often get much time to watch TV. Most of my television viewing comes from DVDs. So, when my daughter asked me to pick up copies of the Mad Men seasons for her when they went on sale, I took a peek at Season One and decided to put it in and watch it while I was sorting and shredding papers.

      Big mistake.

      I got hooked.

      I love the fashions of the sixties. And while I would never give up my jeans and hoodies, seeing the women in Mad Men dressed to the nines made me a bit nostalgic--and yearning for a more glamorous time. The fabrics are colorful, the designs smart and classy. And it got me wondering if I could pull off these fashions like the women in the show do. Unfortunately--or maybe fortunately--we'll never know.

      As a writer, I am also impressed by the quality of the writing. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a line of dialogue and thought, "Oh, wow! That writer nailed it!"

      The acting isn't bad either.

      I've finished Season Four. And while there have been times I've wanted to toss something at one of the characters on the TV screen, I am still very glad I put that first DVD in the player.

      What TV show is a must-see for you? Any show you can't miss or is a must DVR?

      While I have you here, may I take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year filled with wonderful books and incredible stories!

      They say what you do on New Year's, you do the year-round. I plan to make certain I find some time to write.

      ~Bullet Hole~

      Wednesday, December 28, 2011

      I thought I could do it

      They say you learn something new every day. Well recently, I learned I'm not a plumber. Now some of you may have already realized that. I sure wish I had.

      Case in point: I'd been after my husband for several weeks to fix a running toilet. It's a waste of water, it's annoying and worst of all, when the house is quiet at the end of the day, it becomes that niggling thing that makes me feel like we haven't quite gotten enough done.

      So the other night, when the house was quiet and all I could hear was the blasted toilet running, I decided to do something about it. It's just plumbing, right? Pipes and ball plungers are logical. They follow the rules of physics. I can reason my way through it (or so I tell myself). And just because it's 11:50 p.m. doesn't mean I can't start a new project.

      I went and got tools from the basement, I put on a baseball hat (not sure how that was supposed to help, but I did it), I lifted the back lid and started fiddling. Now I am proud to say I figured out the problem. The little tube with the ball on the end needed to be out of the water and the water would stop running. But that's where my expertise ended. How to get the little ball to stay out of the water? Holding it up all night wasn't an option. See? Logical.

      While figuring out what to do next, I bent the little tube back, just to see how far it could go. I was curious. Don't you want to know how far it can go? No, you don't. Snap! The tube broke. Then the one attached broke. Water shot up to the ceiling. It was like a geyser. Water shot out toward me, in case I wasn't soaked enough. My husband was out of town (or else he would have talked me out of this at the baseball cap stage). I call him to ask him how the heck I was supposed to shut off the water. He told me about the valve on the side of the commode (proving yet again that I'm not a plumber).

      The bathroom is filling with water faster than the Titanic. I'm on my hands and knees, trying to turn the knob, only it will not budge (no doubt fastened by someone much stronger than me). I'm reduced to begging a toilet knob to turn while scrambling through my mental rolodex to decide which neighbor to wake at midnight in order to turn the knob in a bathroom that now has at least a half an inch of water on the floor.

      Finally, it turns. The water ceases. I'm soaked to the bone and the toilet is way, way broken. I clean everything up, thank my frantic husband, take a shower and ponder just why I thought I was a plumber in the first place.

      Want to know my theory? I think it has something to do with the fact that writers are curious people. The same thing that makes me want to ride with Harley bikers and their dogs is the same thing that made me want to explore the intricacies of toilet maintenance. If the tube hadn't snapped, I might have succeeded (Don't tell my husband I said that. He's still a bit horrified.)

      And while things didn't work out the other night, I don't think I want to change. Well, until the next home crisis.

      Monday, December 26, 2011

      Preparing for War

      Or the new year - same thing.

      2012 is upon us in a week. Are you a goals person? Do you make charts and spreadsheets plotting your mini-destinations during the year? I do. I will be making up my work schedule for 2012 this week, trying to fit in all the things I need to do and some of the things I want to do. It's going to be a very busy 2012, but hopefully, a lot will get done.

      Something I started working on last week is using a novel-writing software. I've been thinking I need to try something to see if I can better organize my fiction writing, especially writing series books. Flipping through every page of a document to find the color of car someone was driving is simply not the most efficient method to write.

      So I downloaded a trial of Scrivener for PC. And I have to say, that I'm really enjoying it. It's simple to use the basic things and as long as I do the work of taking proper notes, it will allow me to have all my research and info right there on the same screen I'm writing the document on. Scrivener also allows you to break up your work into chunks - like chapters or even scenes. As I sometimes write books out of order, that's really cool. I can write a random scene and then drag and drop it later on where I want it to fit in the book. It also has a corkboard (printable) with little stickies that have a synopsis of each chapter written on them. So you can see your book at a glance.

      Are you planning on incorporating any productivity tools into your new year? If so, what are they? I may want them, too. :)

      Deadly DeLeon

      Saturday, December 24, 2011

      Murder, Mayhem and Mama, my new ebook, is now up and available exclusively at Barnes and Noble. It won't be available elsewhere until February. So go to Barnes and Noble to get it now!

      I am also running a Twitter contest with a chance to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. Just look for the hashtag #Christie_Craig and retweet the message. You could be a winner!! Then check back here at Killer Fiction on January 6 when I announce the winner.

      Friday, December 23, 2011

      Guest Blog: Barbra Annino

      Happy holidays! My gift to you is a great guest blog from author Barbra Annino. She's giving away 3 copies of her e-book, so be sure to leave a comment and you're entered to win!

      Take it away, Barbra!


      I spent a great deal of time with my Irish grandmother and her sisters when I was young. Anyone familiar with the culture of the Emerald Isle knows it is steeped in superstition and supernatural phenomenon. Ghost stories weren't told around a dim campfire at our house. They were shared over coffee, cake and Marlboros. They were passed along like a saltshaker, not to be feared--"because the dead cannot hurt you, only the living can"--but to be revered as tiny lessons gifted to us by the dearly departed.

      I used to watch the women in my family share recipes and swap stories that would scare the pants off my friends, but these women weren't fazed by the shocking tales they told. Often I would imagine--listening to them wax on about the prom date that disappeared through the cemetery bars as they whipped up batches of fresh baked bread--that they were witches implementing spells into their food.

      And perhaps they were. Because I believe there's a little bit of witch in every woman. Although the potions may only be as exotic as a Cabernet and the spell may come in the form of a kind ear and chocolate layer cake, still, there is strength within us that can transcend any problem. There's something magical about that.

      I wanted to create a character who had that kind of strength and that special form of magic. Stacy Justice, the protagonist in my gemstone series, is a strong woman who worries more about her family than her boyfriend. She's more interested in excelling at work than the latest shoe sale and above all, she tries to do the right thing. Which isn't always easy when your family is driving you crazy, your grandmother insists you are witch with a high calling and oh yeah, someone is trying to kill you.

      The series is laugh-out-loud fun with a mix of mystery, magic and paranormal fantasy all rolled into one. You can learn more at my website: Or visit my Facebook page Barbra Annino.

      Opal Fire, Stacy Justice Book One
      Reporter Stacy Justice did not expect to be set on fire that night, but being raised by witches prepares one for life's little surprises. In fact, she isn't the least bit shocked when her cousin is accused of arson, or when her divorced grandparents sign up for a marriage retreat, or even when her own boyfriend hauls her off to jail. But when a decades-old corpse is discovered within the walls of her cousin's bar, even Stacy is rattled. Now, someone wants her dead and she finds herself dodging angry motorists, exploding chickens and a very creepy man who lurks around every corner. As she begins to unearth long-buried secrets, Stacy learns that even those closest to her have something to hide- and she's about to discover a destiny she never imagined.

      As a special gift to readers of this blog, I'm offering three copies FREE. Just leave a comment and will choose the winners. Delivery of ebooks via a Smashwords coupon.

      Barbra Annino

      Thursday, December 22, 2011

      Hanukkah - A Small Holiday That's A Big Deal

      This week my son and I are celebrating Hanukkah. We make a big deal out of it. We collect menorahs (ever year since he was two we've gotten a new one), we play dreidel, we decorate the house, I make latkes and blintzes, he gets a gift every night and we try to do something special every day of the 8 day holiday.

      Most people would say that as Jewish holidays go, Hanukkah is a pretty minor one and the only reason to make a big deal out of it is because you feel the need to compete with Christmas.  They would also say that Hanukkah is a celebration of "The miracle of the light." See (as the story goes) back in the day some bad guys destroyed our temple and when we got it back we started to get it together again and inside that temple there was this sacred lamp that only had enough oil left to last 1 day but it was going to take 8 days to make more oil for it and then, miracle of miracles the oil that should have only lasted 1 day lasted for 8. That's why we light a candle on the menorah every night for 8 nights.

      There is some truth to all that. Hanukkah isn't close to being a High Holiday and all the fuss about Christmas is...inspiring. But that's not my main motivation for making Hanukkah one of the most important holidays of the year within my household. It's also true that while the Holiday is nicknamed the, "Festival Of Light," that piece of the story is really a very small part of what we're celebrating and when rabbis talk about the holiday they usually only spend a few minutes talking about the oil.  The greater message of the holiday is what makes me love it so much. Much like with Passover the overall themes of Hanukkah are as follows:

      1) Survival
      2) Perseverance
      3) Freedom
      4) Standing up for what's right

      However unlike with the story of Passover there isn't a lot less divine intervention within the story of Hanukkah. This time, God doesn't give a Jewish leader assurances of success or tell him or her what the right thing to do is and yet the heroes of the story do it anyway. In the beginning of the Hanukkah we learn that the Jews were living as a minority group within a society that was completely tolerant of their religion and allowed them to take an active part of public life. And then there was a regime change and the practice of Judaism was outlawed. The Jews fought back and although they were greatly outnumbered they defeated the mighty and seeming superior army of our suppressors.  Jews don't celebrate war which I think is why there is so much focus on the lamp but realistically we are celebrating a victory. A victory of right over wrong. The implication of the story is that societies should allow everyone to practice the religion they want to practice assuming it's not physically hurting anyone. We're told that even when we know that the odds are against us we should stand up for that right. And we celebrate the survival of the Jewish people.

      I like that. So yes, we go all out for Hanukkah, so much so that I may have one of the few Jewish children who doesn't envy Christmas. But he also understands the message of the holiday and regardless of how religious or secular you are it's hard not to see how Hanukkah is kinda a big deal.

      --Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

      Wednesday, December 21, 2011

      Merry Holidays!

      It's just a few days until Christmas. Is my shopping done? No. Am I at all organized? Not really. Does it bother me? Meh. I can wing it. I've never really been one of those people who gets worked up over the holidays. Maybe it's my low blood pressure...perhaps it's my laid back attitude...or maybe it's the vodka.

      Christmas will happen and everything will be where it's supposed to be. My kids will be happy with what Santa brings them. My mom will love the mittens and hat I'm knitting her. We don't have overlapping schedules of things to do and places to be. All is right with the world.

      I even got my present early. I got a dead tree removed. Oh, I didn't ask for that. It was something we were always going to do. The cedar tree had been hit by lightning a few summers ago. The top was sheared off and has long since been sliced up and burned in our fireplace. But the bottom half of the tree, the jagged, dead wood that loomed 40 feet over the house, that was still there, threatening to fall on every adorable elementary school kid who walks by our house twice a day.

      A week ago, I was home with my son - who was sick. This guy rings the doorbell and introduces himself as "Spider." Spider was in the neighborhood - he motioned to the flatbed out front loaded with logs. He noticed our tree and said he'd give us a good quote. I gave the card to Mr. Assassin.

      Who called me yesterday and said, "Oh yeah, and Spider is coming over to take down the tree for $300 today." I was pulling out of the driveway on a stealth mission to buy my daughter's presents (I said I had to go get tampons - she didn't want to go with me after that). Spider walks up to the car with a grin.

      Spider is probably in his thirties, and weighs maybe 98 lbs. He's got long, stringy hair, a huge slurpee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

      Him: "Hey, man! I'm here to do the tree thing."
      Me: "I can see that. Give me a minute to tell the kids (to lock the doors) not to let the dogs out (find their cell phones and take the safety off the flamethrower)."
      Him: "That's cool."

      I went in to make sure the kids were okay with a dude named Spider cutting down the tree in the yard with me gone. They assured me they were and locked up as I left. Meg, the teenager, insisted I go get "you know...that weird stuff," as she wiggled her eyebrows meaningfully.

      The tree is down, just like Spider said. The kids were fine. They didn't even realize he was out there. And I got some of my shopping done. That is my Christmas miracle. At least, that's how I see it.

      The Assassin

      Tuesday, December 20, 2011

      Does Mama Know Best?

      Does your mother tell you who to date? Does she meddle in your life? Has she embarrassed you in front of your friends? Has she ever made you feel . . . crazy? Believe me, I know all about mom’s sticking their noses in one’s life. Everyone’s love life. You see, I’d jumped on a plane heading to my mom’s in California to escape a bad divorce. I’d been in the sunny state for less than eight hours when Mom has this tall handsome fellow show up on her doorstep. Can you believe that the day before she’d actually whipped out my old wedding photos to show this man my picture? But holy moly, the last thing I wanted was another man in my life. Ahh, but all I can say is, thank goodness, this handsome fellow was patient, and oh, yes, I’m forever grateful that in this one instance, my mama did know best. You see, this handsome fellow, Steve Craig, turned out to be a keeper. Not that all of my mama’s advice worked out so well. She liked the first husband, too. And there was the dye job she gave me that couldn’t be reversed and led to me wearing a hat for two months. And I can remember the fashion advice that, thank goodness, I was smart enough to avoid.

      But, no matter how bad my mother is, or yours for that matter, she can’t begin to compete with Cali’s mom in Murder, Mayhem and Mama, my book being released electronically today. Cali’s mother wins all the meddling-mom awards. You see, Cali’s mom actually comes back from the dead to play match maker and to well… try to prevent her daughter’s dead-beat ex from hurting Cali. No, Cali’s mom’s not appearing in a puff of smoke wearing chains, but she does appear chain smoking in Cali’s dreams. And those dreams seem just a bit too real.

      And yes, Cali’s mom is right about her ex-boyfriend being a weasel, and her mom’s desire to neuter the man, isn’t too far from what Cali would like to do herself. But now, her dead mom is pushing Cali toward the sexy detective, a very annoying sexy detective who thinks Cali still has a thing for the ex. Never mind that she learns the ex is now being accused of murder. Why would Cali want anything more to do with that guy? She would have never gotten involved with the man if she hadn’t been so stressed out about her mom’s dying. And why would Cali start falling for the cop who can be a bit of jerk? Surely, Mama doesn’t know best.

      Or does she?

      Now most mothers aren’t that bad. They may offer advice that lands you with perm that makes you look like a girl in the sixties, or a color that looks like it belongs in box of crayons and not on your head. They might fix you up with a guy they like because he has a nice career, but is short on personality and hair. But they don’t try to run your life—especially from the great beyond. But maybe there are exceptions. Has your mother, dead or alive, ever tried to play match maker for you? Has she tried to break up your relationship with a guy because he had one too many tattoos? (Granted in Cali’s case, her mother had her reasons!) So, I want to know, does your mother meddle in your life? Tell me a mother meddling story, good or bad, and I’ll chose one poster to win a $25 gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

      Check out the book trailer for Murder, Mayhem and Mama at,

      Monday, December 19, 2011

      SCROOGE AND MARLEY by Diane Kelly

      When I watch one or another movie version of A Christmas Carol, I’m always struck by the fact that Ebenezer Scrooge hasn’t taken the time to change the sign for his business from “Scrooge & Marley” despite the fact that his business partner, Jacob Marley, has been dead for years. Although the failure to change the sign is a subtle indicator of Scrooge’s penny-pinching ways, it’s still creepy to have a long-dead man’s name hanging over the door of the business.

      The people in our lives bring out different aspects of our personality. Some bring out the best in us, others the worst. Given that Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley wearing a long, heavy chain forged through a life of exploitation and greed, I imagine that Scrooge and Marley were of the latter variety, feeding off each other’s greed and insensitivity, together creating an evil, selfish synergy.

      I can’t help but wonder - might Ebenezer have been a better man if he’d had a different business partner? What if Scrooge’s partner had been a different Marley?

      Bob Marley would have made the perfect business partner. While he might have smoked the profits, he’d have happily shared a spliff with the uptight Ebenezer and perhaps gotten the old coot to loosen up a bit.

      The golden lab from Marley and Me would’ve made a great partner for Scrooge, too. Hard to stay in a crabby mood with an adorable puppy bounding around and licking your toes.

      I'm lucky to have a wonderful husband who brings out my goofy side and makes me feel anything is possible. I also have some wonderful friends who inspire my creativity and imagination. Who brings out the best in you? Let's chat about it!

      Have a wonderful holiday season!

      Diane Kelly is the author of the Death and Taxes humorous mystery series. Visit Diane at

      Sunday, December 18, 2011


      The winner of the free e-book and a copy of any of my backlist is Jbrayweber. Email Jbrayweber at Christie (at) christie(-)craig(.)com

      Saturday, December 17, 2011

      Contest! Contest! Contest!

      Today, Susan Muller is giving away an e-copy of her book, The Secret on Forest Bend. And to make it even better, I’m also giving the winner a copy of any of my backlist. So make sure you leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Susan’s and any of my books. It can be my romances or my YAs.

      I have a treat for you guys today. I would like to introduce you to a dear friend and another writer who’s friendship is proof of just how small our world has become. It’s also proof that when the universe wants you to meet someone, it will keep throwing you together until you finally connect.

      Susan Muller is my walking buddy, who isn’t walking right now. (You’ll read more about that in her blog.) Susan and I met at my local chapter’s Romance Writers of America meeting. Well, that’s where I thought we met. Shortly later, she informed me that we’d met earlier. That we had waved and spoken while I was walking in her/my neighborhood. Cool, we lived in the same neighborhood. I had to apologize and told that when I walk, I’m in my own little world and seldom recognize anyone.

      We shortly learned that she lived on the street back behind my house. However, little did we know at the time, we had other connections. I was in her backyard and peeked through her fence and said, “Damn! That’s my backyard.” We’d shared backyard fences for almost 20 years and didn’t know it. Yup, now we can put a ladder against the fence and have a conversation. We’ve actually passed manuscripts, oranges, crawfish, and fresh grown tomatoes over that fence. Ahh, but it gets even stranger. Because not too long after we started walking, she introduced me to her dog. Right then, I knew Susan’s version of how we first met was as wrong my had been. The woman, didn’t just live behind me, she’d been in my house. I’d saved her from a heartache and she didn’t even know it.

      Years earlier, while I was walking, a black lap who looked just like my black lab--even had the gray snout and everything--came up to me on my walk. For a second, I thought it was my Jake. But he was a tad bigger than my ol’ boy. Nevertheless, the dog decided I was a sucker and he followed me home. Not wanting the animal to continue to the main road that had a lot of traffic, I took him into my house. I looked at Jake and the other dog side by side, and darn if other than a few extra pounds on her dog, the two dogs were identical. I called the number on the tag. The owner quickly came to pick up the dog. While I didn’t recognize Susan as the dog owner, I recognized her dog. So actually, our lives were connected even before we knew it. Who knew she was also a writer? Well, all I can say is that it’s a small world. And I’m glad after several times of having our paths cross, we finally took the message the universe was telling us and became friends. So here’s Susan, and a bit about her book.


      I’ve been thinking a lot about walking lately. Mostly because I can’t. Several weeks ago I developed a stress fracture in my foot. The doctor instructed me to stay off my feet and wear a lovely black boot with Velcro straps that cost as much as a pair of Jimmy Choos. The next week was my high school reunion. Show of hands here, how many think I wore the black boot to my reunion? Of course I didn’t. Which may be why I still can’t walk without limping.

      But limping isn’t my problem, walking is. For years, I’ve worked out plot holes and writers block while walking my dog around the neighborhood. Buster is a 120 pound black lab, and he was well into middle age when I found him five years ago. At first we walked about forty-five minutes, but as he aged we cut it down to thirty minutes, then fifteen. The last time I took him around the block, I had to sit on the curb and let him rest.

      Luckily, on one walk about a year and a half ago, I passed Christie, walking the other way. Shortly later, we’ve walked together four or five days a week. We walk twice as long and twice as far and I’m half as tired, because Christie can tell a good story. You knew that, right? After all, she writes three to four books a year. You’ve probably heard her mattress story, and the one where her husband set the lawnmower on fire. Those are just the stories she can tell in public. We brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other and she’s improved my writing 110%. Since I’ve been sitting with my foot propped up, my writing output has slowed to a trickle. I may never get this next book finished. I miss walking with Christie.

      Buster’s way too old to go for power walks these days, but he does love a ride in the car. When Buster got too old to jump in the back of our Explorer, and too fat for us to lift him, my husband bought a smaller car. Oh, he’ll tell you that he bought the car for better gas mileage, but I’ve known the man for many years, and he bought it for the dog. Even with the smaller car, we have to back up to the curb and help Buster in.

      In my novel The Secrets on Forest Bend, the hero, Adam, has a yellow cat named Rover. Rover was the terror of the neighborhood when he decided to adopt Adam seven years ago. He’s bigger than most dogs and twice as mean. Lately, Rover has developed diabetes and Adam must give him a shot twice a day, something that’s not always convenient. Adam’s a big, tough police detective, and he claims Rover is just his roommate, but you read the following excerpt and tell me, if this isn’t love, what is?

      The sky was still dark when Adam rose on one elbow and nuzzled Jillian’s ear. “You’re going to hate me, but I have to go.” He nibbled her shoulder and felt himself come awake again.

      She turned to face him, sleepy-eyed. “Go? Can’t you leave for work from here?”

      How bad would it be if Rover missed one round of medication? He lifted the sheet and gazed at her body. Damn he wanted to stay longer, but if he didn’t leave soon he wouldn’t be able to stand up. “No. I have to give my cat a shot.”


      What about you? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for an animal?

      Check out more about Susan on her Web site:

      And here’s here back cover blurb. It’s an excellent read, guys. So make sure you snag your own copy.

      Another day . . . another dead body.

      When Detective Adam Campbell learns that a WWII gun is connected to several murders he’s investigating, he hopes that tracking down the killer will be as easy as tracing the gun’s history. When he meets Jillian Whitmeyer, the last known owner of the weapon, the case becomes anything but simple.

      Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

      Adam soon learns that people who get close to Jillian have a bad habit of turning up dead. Jillian claims that the spirit of her sister, accidentally killed with that same gun, is responsible for the deaths. She warns Adam that he is likely to become the next victim. Adam’s been a lousy judge of women in the past and this one’s obviously a nut case. Or is she? How does a just-the-facts detective deal with a ghostly serial killer and the sexy-as-hell sister she won’t set free?

      Friday, December 16, 2011

      Self-Publishing – what works, what doesn't

      First off, I have to share some super exciting news… my latest self-published book FEARLESS IN HIGH HEELS hit #2 on the Barnes & Noble Bestseller list!  I'm absolutely thrilled, as this is the greatest “bestseller” achievement I’ve ever had.  You can bet that High Heels book #7 is totally in the works for next year now!
      (P.S.  The book will be available on December 26th in all other outlets, including Kindle and print versions!  Be sure to sign up for my newsletter on my website as I'll be sending special offers to subscribers soon!)
      Okay, now on to the real blog post…
      For the last few posts I’ve been talking about self-publishing and what sort of numbers I’ve seen from this.  So, today I want to talk about what I’ve done that’s worked (or not worked) to get those sales numbers!

      1.     The number one thing that I believe has helped my sales grow has been having a backlist of books.  As I mentioned in my last post, when I had only a couple of short works available for sale, my sales were moderate – enough that I was interested in doing more – but they didn’t really explode until I had a backlist of several books available.  I know this probably sounds a little discouraging to authors who only have one book ready to self-publish, but my advice in that situation is that you NOT spend a lot of time on promo.  Instead, take all that time and put it into writing the next book.  I guarantee it will go further toward getting you more sales.
      But even if you only have one book out…
      2.    Make it look professional!  I cannot stress enough how important hiring a proofread or editor is.  Readers will not be more forgiving of self-published books having typos than they will of publisher produced ones.  I’ve gotten an email from a reader before who claimed my book was “riddled with typos”.  When I politely asked her if she could point them out, she pointed out… two.  Two typos in the whole book.   Which to me doesn’t sound too bad.  But to a reader, that is a big deal!  Even one is a big deal and says “amateur” to a reader.  So make sure that you have someone to watch your back in this area, and make sure that they are good at what they do.  Ask around for recommendations, and I would always ask a proofer to do a few sample pages for you first, so that you can be sure they are actually going to catch everything.
      3.    Disclose word count!  If you’re writing a full length novel, and it is comparable to a print length (generally 80-100K ), you can get away with not telling reader the word count.  But if you’re writing a novella, novelette, or short story, disclose your word count right in the product description.  There are so many full length books being sold for $.99 now that readers sometimes feel cheated when they pay $.99 and then find out they’ve bought a short story.  Or in other cases some readers have a different idea of what “short” is than the author.  This is one place where bad reviews happen to me all the time – not for story issues, but because the reader wanted a longer piece.  So definitely make sure that you give readers as much info up front about length as possible.  And speaking of reviews…
      4.    Good reviews are like gold!  Especially if you are a new author or only have one or two books available, reviews equal sales.  Readers really do read them and really do judge a book by its star rating.  I see sales plummet when my star ratings go down on my books.  This is a tough area for most authors, because bad reviews will happen, no matter how good your book is, and there is nothing you can do about it.  (Though, if you do get inappropriate reviews or spoiler reviews, you can report them and often BN or Amazon will remove them.)  But you can do something about getting more good reviews!  There are tons of bloggers out there that review self-published books now, and even the ones that don’t have large followings on their blogs will often agree to post their review on BN or Amazon when they write it.  I would contact as many of these as possible!  Especially reviewers that are just starting out or maybe don’t have huge followings yet, as they will be most likely to want to a) review you book well (because they want to develop good relationship with authors, right?) and b) have time to review books from newer authors.  One thing I would NOT recommend doing is having all of your family members give you reviews.  It becomes obvious quickly, and that can be a real turn off to readers. 
      5.    Price your books right!  Pricing is a really interesting issue.  Some authors swear by the $.99 rule and others are flirting with $6 now.  My experience with this is that I usually get more sales at $.99… but I make a lot more money at $3.99.  My personal take on pricing is that if you start out too low, you have nowhere to go.  I’d err on the side of being too high, as you can always lower your prices and readers won’t mind.  If you start out at $.99 then suddenly decide you want to go to $3.99, readers are going to be a little less happy about that sort of change.  I honestly think for a full length novel, $3.99-$5.99 is an appropriate price range.  This is still lower than most published produced books, which is a nice discount for the reader, but not so low that it a) smells of desperation or b) cuts into your profits.  I do regularly put my books on sale for a limited time at lower price points.  But the purpose of that is to gain some visibility, and I generally end up losing money on those sales vs. what I could have been making at the $3.99 price.   
      For example: the first book in my High Heels series, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS, is the book that I put on sale the most, in order to hook readers into the series.  I’ve sold almost 200,000 copies of that book alone.  By contrast, the second book in my series, KILLER IN HIGH HEELS, is one that I almost never put on sale.  It’s almost always priced at $3.99.  I’ve sold roughly 50,000 copies of this book, but this book has made me at least three times as much as book #1 in terms of income.           

      Since I won’t be blogging again until after the holiday, Merry Christmas to all the Killers out there!  I hope you all get exactly what you want for Christmas!  (I’ve got my eye on a Kindle Fire, just in case Santa is listening…)

      ~ Trigger Happy Halliday

      Tuesday, December 13, 2011

      Shopping Anyone? Another Wild Thing Give Away

      By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

      I hate to shop. I really do. The only store I enjoy going to is the Apple Store--I mean, it's like an FAO Schwarz for adults. Just the thought of going to the mall between Thanksgiving and President's Day is enough to make my ass twitch--after all my mother has been dragging me through stores and shopping malls all my life.

      I had my first panic attack at Macy's in Herald Square. I walked very young, and my older sister didn't. My sister was in the stroller, and I was walking when my mom pushed us into the elevator at Macy's. It was winter, and back then all the men wore long wool coats and hats. I got stuffed into the corner, surrounded by wool and I didn't know where my mom was. I was maybe two years old at the time... I haven't liked crowded elevators since. Then there was that time mom had me sitting on the moving belt you're supposed to hold on to on the escalator. She must have reached for my sister and let go of me. I went flying over the side and landed on the jewelry case below. Yeah, I don't much care for escalators either...

      I thought it was only fair that since I'm in the middle of my blog tour for Wild Thing, I'd torture my hero, Hunter Kincaid, a little more and send him out Christmas shopping.

      All you have to do is comment to win one of two copies of Wild Thing! Be sure to write out your email address for me so I can let you know if you win.

      I hope you enjoy the shopping trip. It's the closest I've come to the mall since the last time I saw my mother in October.

      Hunter Kincaid’s definition of hell was going shopping with his sister, Karma. He liked shopping all right, as long as it was at Home Depot, REI, McU Sports, The Elephant’s Perch or just about any other home improvement or sporting good store. Yeah, there was nothing like shopping for building materials, crampons, climbing ropes, kayaks, rafts, hiking boots, skis, and mountain bike—all worth while things to buy.

      Hunter turned to his sister, Karma and dodged a pack of teenagers. “Tell me again why we’re in the mall?”

      Karma pushed past a family with strollers and ducked into a store called Hot Topic. “To buy your wife Christmas presents.”

      “What more can Toni want? I already bought her a set of skis, bindings, boots, poles, bibs, a powder jacket, and a parka.”

      Karma turned and rolled her eyes. “Toni doesn’t ski.”

      “Yet. “ He smiled and rocked back on his heels. “She just needs the right equipment and a me—she’s married to the best ski instructor around.”

      “Did you ever consider that maybe Toni doesn’t want to ski?”

      Karma couldn’t be serious. Who wouldn’t want to ski? “Nah, Toni is going to love skiing. What’s not to love?”

      “She’s still not at all comfortable being in the wilderness, and most ski resorts look like woods on mountains, remember?”

      “Don’t be ridiculous. Toni’s plenty comfortable at home, and our home is on a mountain beside a ski resort.”

      “Well, just in case she’s not overly excited about you forcing her to ski, I thought it might be helpful to diversify your gifts. Hot Topic is one of Toni’s favorite stores.”

      Hunter looked around and had to admit the place looked like the inside of Toni’s closet. It was like Goth heaven. He shrugged. “Okay, what does she want? It looks as if she’s got most of the store at home already.” At least now he knew where she shopped, not that he’d ever want to join her. There were just some things couple shouldn’t do together. Shopping for girl stuff was one of them. He looked around and saw a half dozen of graphic T-shirts Toni already owned. When he spotted the one she was wearing the first time he laid eyes on her, he couldn’t help but smile.

      He followed Karma into the shoe section where she picked up a pair of black stiletto boots that had to go above the knee. They were sexy as hell.

      Karma tried them on over her tight jeans. “Toni’s been drooling over these for months.”

      “You don’t think she’d wear them outside the bedroom do you?”

      Karma shrugged and giggled. “You know Toni.”

      “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.” He rubbed his hand over his face and shook his head. “Okay, I’ll buy them.” He’d just have to make sure she never wore them in public. Toni had no idea how hot she looked, and he didn’t want anyone else knowing it either. Good thing he had ways of distracting her. “What else?”

      Karma went around the store picking out hats, fingerless gloves, arm warmers, and stockings. God help him if Toni wore the fishnet stockings with the naughty-school-girl skirt Karma added to the pile, and those boots—he’d be a goner. He paid for the purchases and grabbed the bags. “Where to next?”

      Karma slid her arm through his and headed in the opposite direction of where they were parked. Not a good sign. “Victoria Secret.”

      “Kill me now.”

      “I know for a fact you like Toni wearing nice lingerie.”

      “Yeah, and I don’t even mind hand washing it. I just don’t want to buy it. Besides, the way I look at it, it’s more of a present for me than it is for her. Wouldn’t that be a little selfish of me? It would be like buying myself a Christmas present.”

      Karma rolled her eyes. “Aw come on, big brother. Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a few scraps of satin and lace.”

      “Not afraid, but damn, Karma. The last thing I want to do is shop for naughty lingerie with my little sister.”

      “Time to put your big-boy boxers on Hunter and get over yourself.”

      “I thought I did that when I bought the boots.”

      Karma just chuckled and led him right into what he was sure was the bowls of hell.

      So tell me, do you have a shopping phobia? Has anyone else taken a header off the belt of an old escalator and landed on a jewelry case? Am I the only one with a fear escalators and crowded Macy's elevators?

      Monday, December 12, 2011

      It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....

      You know how the song goes. The big question is, are you ready for it?

      I will admit to being partially ready. The house is looking good as I'm almost finished with Christmas decorations. I'd hoped to get an earlier start this year, but book deadlines and life put me off schedule. So now, I'll probably finish in time to start taking it all down. (sigh) Or maybe I'll just leave it up through winter. Hey, it is kinda pretty, and I did that one year when I was working a million hours a week as a contractor. Finally, my brother came over to my house in May and carried the entire tree, decorations and all, into the garage.

      So first up today, I'm going to share a couple of decor picture, because it's so pretty with my signature turquoise and a great Christmas silver. Here's the living room - and yes, it's actually cold enough in Dallas to have a fire!

      And this is the long counter that separates the kitchen from the living area/hallway.

      And the final thought I'll leave you with today with a letter from Santa that I got in a random email. I figured you'd all like it.

      Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate)!!!
      Deadly DeLeon

      Friday, December 09, 2011

      E is for Extra Large?

      I was supposed to have a guest blogger today for my blogging maternity leave, but in my dusorganized state, I can't remember who'd signed up for today. Mea culpa. So you're stuck with me.

      And I apologize for that, since this post may be somewhat less than coherent. You see, I'm tired. Ridiculously tired. And with good reason. I was discharged from the hospital a week ago today.

      Yes, that's right, Killer Readers. I had my new baby boy last Monday (November 28)! I was actually supposed to have a scheduled c-section this past Monday (Dec 5), but the little man apparently takes after his big sis and decided to make his debut just under 2 weeks before his due date (which was supposed to be tomorrow, actually). Although he's nowhere near as impatient as his sister, since she chose to be born 6 weeks early. He stuck around in there a full 4 weeks longer.

      (Speaking of his big sis...please wish her a happy birthday. She turns 2 today! Time flies!)

      Anyway, even though I had a full month longer to plan and get things ready this time, invariably I ended up surprised and without anything done. Which was totally my fault, of course. I figured since I'd had a baby literally just 2 years ago (2 years ago today, actually!), there wasn't much I needed other than baby boy clothes. I had everything else -- carseat, crib, Pack n Play, bouncy seat, monitor, swing, etc.

      Easy peasy. I was set.

      What I didn't count on, however, was how much bigger my boobs would be this time. We're talking serious porn star range here. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the surgery I had last week included implants. Very, very large implants. If I can just lose this extra tummy fat I could probably do a centerfold in Playboy.


      I was totally caught off guard with this birth and hadn't even packed my bag yet. So I spent the next couple of days dictating a list of things for my husband to bring me from home. Of course, nursing bras were at the top of the list. But no biggie. He could just find them in my top dresser drawer.

      Except they no longer fit. Like, not at ALL. I stopped nursing this past March and they fit me just fine then. They'd fit me all throughout the nearly 15 months I nursed my daughter. But not with my son. I was a 38 C then.

      Not now.

      My old nursing bras fit me while I was still in the hospital, but gradually became tighter and tighter shortly after I got home, until finally I couldn't take it any longer.

      By Saturday night I was in sheer agony. What had once been a super comfy sleeping bra made from stretchy soft cotton had transformed overnight into a medieval torture device, binding me so tight I thought I would pass out. Corset? Pshaw. They have nothing on my old nursing bras.

      So I took off the offending garment and was rewarded within a few seconds by two large wet spots on the front of my shirt. Niiiiiiice.

      My mom offered to run out and get some new bras for me, but I couldn't even begin to guess what size I might be. No, I had to go to the store myself and try them on.

      But I couldn't bear to strap myself back into that horrid contraption. But I also couldn't go out in public dripping, either.

      So I came up with the brilliant solution of shoving a burp cloth under the front of my shirt. In my Percocet-ridden mind, it seemed ideal. It stopped the spreading dampness and provided camouflage from my enormous protruding nips. (I was afraid I was going to put someone's eye out with those things!)

      I walked into the kitchen to grab a drink of water before heading out and was immediately greeted by the same question three different times from three different people (my mom, my dad, and my husband). What the heck was that under my shirt?

      I proudly told them about my brilliant burp cloth idea. Fail. Even without hearing what each of the others had to say, Mom, Dad, and Mr. Brice all told me I looked like I was shoplifting. They begged me not to wear the burp cloth.

      Fine. I put a jacket on over my t-shirt and kept my arms crossed tightly the entire time inside the store. (Needless to say, I brought along a stash of nursing pads in my purse so I wouldn't ruin the bras I was trying on.)

      In the end, it was determined that I'm now a 38E. Mr. Brice is THRILLED.

      Thursday, December 08, 2011

      Outlines: How I've Learned Not To Hate Them

      I've done a lot of book signings over the years. Different people in different places ask different questions, but the one question that always comes up is: "Do you write outlines for your books."

      Outlines are funny things. I didn’t write one for Sex, Murder And A Double Latte but then why would I have? I started that book with the intention of just writing a short little story to help distract me from a difficult divorce (is there any other kind?). It wasn’t until I was half way through it that I decided to make it into a book and then I wrote out a general game plan as to how I wanted the story to go but I wouldn’t call it an outline.

      The 2nd book I wrote (and my 3rd book published) was So Much For My Happy Ending.  That was basically a highly fictionalized autobiography so I didn’t have to write an outline. I knew EXACTLY how that story went. I had already lived it. It poured out of my like a tidal wave of pent up emotion.

      But when I got to Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights (3rd book written, 2nd published) I decided I was going to be über professional about it and wrote a detailed outline. Everything was planned out. And then I started actually writing the book. Guess what? The outline didn’t hold up. Or it would have  held up if I had wanted to turn in a 200 page manuscript to my editor but I knew my editor would tell me that was too short.  Mitch Albom can get away with writing a 200 page hardcover, I can’t and although I had planned out each chapter in the outline things were moving at a much faster pace than I had anticipated. So I threw the outline out and proceeded without it. I tried writing an outline for Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate and although there was no problem with the length, its structure didn’t hold up once I tried to flesh it out in a manuscript so I threw that out too.

      It wasn’t until I was ready to write Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss that it finally dawned on me what my problem was:

      I hate writing outlines.

      Hate, hate, hate it. It’s right up there with one of my least favorite things to do as a writer, perhaps second to the last round of edits when I’m checking for missed spelling errors and somebody else’s typos. But that said, just like checking for spelling errors, writing an outline can be an important task. They help to add structure to a book and can really help keep the pacing and action strong.  But when I sit down at my computer knowing that I must start the process of creating a book by writing an outline I get an instant headache. It’s like telling a small child that he has to start his meal with brussel sprouts with only a vague promise that after he’s finished them he’ll get something better to eat.  True, that means he’s saving the best for last but it might be hard getting the kid to the table. And when I think I have to start a writing project with an outline it really is hard to get me to the table. Once I’m there I rush through the chore neglecting details by metaphorically tossing them to the dogs (or rabbit...we are talking about vegetables here) or shoving them under my plate so I can hurry up and get to the good part.

      But actually starting the book itself, introducing (or in the case of Sophie, reintroducing) myself to characters and a new storyline...well that’s my cocktail. I love that part.  I realized that if I could just start with THAT I would be rushing to the table whenever it was time to start a new project.
      So now I begin my books by writing about 15 pages without anything. Then I’ll stop long enough to write a 2 page synopsis which gives me a general direction. Once I get to 40 or 50 pages of manuscript that’s when I write an outline. I did this with both Lust, Loathing And A Little Black Dress and Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress. By the time I’m done with those first few chapters I know who my characters are, how long it will take them to do the things I want them to do and I know  how I want the story to go.  Perhaps more importantly, I am always excited about what I’m writing by the time I’m done with those pages which makes putting together an outline seem like less of a chore.  The promise of what’s to come after the brussel sprouts isn’t vague, it’s totally tangible and I’ll happily submit to the work of creating an outline in order to get to the main course.
      I realize this approach won’t work for everyone but if you have a hard time sticking to outlines you might want to try it. If nothing else you’ll get to have a cocktail before your veggies. 

      Wednesday, December 07, 2011

      I Did It.

      I just got impatient. I couldn't wait to see what was under all that dark, red hair I'd had for so long. So, on a Saturday, I texted my hairdresser to ask what setting I should set the dog trimmer to - and she graciously offered to cut it off Sunday morning. At her house. In her pajamas. I got donuts and went home and was reading the paper as my kids woke up and did the cartoon double-take when they saw me. They didn't know I was going to do it, but hey! Donuts! (Okay, so I ate four.)

      The next day, I went in to work. People who saw me before Thanksgiving break thought I'd come back with my chin-length, two tone hair. Several people thought I was a visitor and asked if I needed assistance.

      I went to an alumni mixer last week. A lot of people there hadn't seen me in a while. It was in a bar with black lights. My head glowed like a blazing, white beacon. They only recognized me by my voice.

      My friend Todd said I resemble a female Race Bannon. I guess before that, I looked like a female Dr. Benton Quest. At least I don't look like a female Bandit.

      The big shock I guess is that people always knew to look for the tall redhead in the crowd. I've confused them. And that's awesome. Now, I just have to get used to the cartoon double-take I do when I pass a mirror.

      The Assassin

      Tuesday, December 06, 2011

      My Christmas Confession

      Okay, I have a confession to make. And yeah, I know what you’re probably thinking. Saying that I have a confession to share makes it sound as though I’m about to confess to having buried a few (more) bodies in the compost heap in my backyard. But trust me, this confession is nothing bad—to the contrary, I think it’s fabulous news and I hope you will, too. So, what am I confessing? Only that my newest release is almost here, and I’m fifteen different shades of excited.

      I hope you will be excited, too.

      Okay, so enough teasing you. My latest release is called Murder, Mayhem and Mama, and it’s going live for Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook on Tuesday, December 20th. This book is really one of the “books of my heart,” and I’m so tickled that I get to share it with you. You see, MM&M is actually one of the four books I sold back in 2006 when I broke my long dry spell. Unfortunately, the company who bought the rights to publish my baby went under a short time later. Since I’d also sold my first humorous romantic suspense to Dorchester, and MM&M is a little, well, “different,” I shelved the book. Until now.

      So what’s different about this book? Well, first let me tell you what’s the same. Murder, Mayhem and Mama has got the humor. For sure, it has a hot romance and a tough cop hero. It has a heroine, with a good heart who can be a tad sassy. You’re gonna find my forever-present pet in there, too, because I think our pets make us better humans. The plot has plenty of heart. Yup, you might shed a tear. And you can bet you’ll find plenty of suspense and action to keep you turning pages.

      So what’s different? Well, Mama is different. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking—But Christie, you always have some whacky family member in your books so how is that different? Well, in this book, Mama is a little more than just whacky. Mostly because Mama is just a little bit dead. Okay, she’s more than a little bit. She’s 100% dead. But like all mamas, she feels it’s her responsibility to watch out for her daughter. And until she knows her daughter is going to be okay, Mama’s just not gonna take that big leap into the afterlife.

      Here’s the cover and blurb for Murder, Mayhem and Mama:

      Being a mama is hard. But the job's even tougher when you're dead.

      Cali McKay's mama isn't ready to pass over to the "other side" yet. Her
      unlucky-in-love daughter needs her now more than ever. Before Mama can
      chain-smoke her way to heaven, she's gotta make sure Cali's deadbeat
      ex-boyfriend doesn't get her daughter killed.

      Grief Sucks. Love Heals.

      Cali lost her mom to cancer. Detective Brit Lowell lost his partner to
      murder. Now he's in the mood to take down some dirtbags and Cali's ex just
      happens to be a dirtbag leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him. Can
      Brit trust this beautiful woman to help take down her ex? Can Cali look
      past this sexy cop's hard exterior to trust him with her heart? Can life
      get any crazier when Mama starts meddling from the grave? Only one thing is
      for sure--none of it will matter, unless they catch a killer before the
      killer catches them.

      Honestly, guys, this is the best Christmas gift I ever gave myself. And I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


      Monday, December 05, 2011

      Holiday Magic! by Diane Kelly

      This past Saturday, my husband, our kids, and I went to see our niece perform in the Nutcracker, a fun tradition we’ve carried on for five years now. Seeing our niece progress over the years from a tiny gingerbread girl wielding a wooden spoon, to an angel, a soldier, a Sugar Plum Fairy attendant, and now a party guest has been so fun. And, okay, I have to admit that the guy who danced in the Arabian coffee part was one hot latte – dark-skinned, muscular beyond belief, agile and athletically graceful. When my husband noticed me drooling, I told him it was because the dancer had a shaved head and I have a thing for bald guys (my husband being one himself). Good save, huh? I probably shouldn’t mention that my son renamed the show the “Buttcracker” after noticing a male dancer’s tights lodged firmly between the cheeks of his derriere. (Yep, we’re a classy bunch.)

      I love the theme of Holiday Magic in the story. The concept of a toy coming to life has been done over and over again in movies, but it’s one we never tire of - Pinocchio, Babes in Toyland, The Indian in the Cupboard, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Small Soldiers, Toy Story, and even the Chuckie movies – yikes!

      The idea got me thinking. If I could bring something in my house to life, what would it be?

      We have a sculpture of a solider that my daughter made out of clear strapping tape in an art class. If he came to life, he’d be able to crack the nuts of any intruder who posed a threat to my house or family. Still, I’m not sure how I’d feel about having a machine gun and hand grenades in the house. My family takes enough risks eating my leftovers.

      We have a miniature carved wood Tiki totem of a Rastafarian. If he came to life, he could entertain us with Bob Marley songs. But he’d probably grow ganja in my garden and smoke it on the patio. No sense risking the wrath of the homeowners association.

      I have a figurine of St. Francis of Assisi that a friend gave me as a housewarming gift years ago. It would be great if he came to life. He’d walk the dogs for me, clean out the litter boxes, keep our critters fed and brushed. And he could play doorman for the dogs, who want in, out, in, no-wait-I-changed-my-mind-I-want-back out at least a hundred times an hour.

      If you could bring something in your house to life, what would it be and why?

      One person who posts a comment today will receive a SWAG bag of fun goodies for Diane Kelly's Death and Taxes series. Check back around 9:00 PM central time to see if you've won! Book #1 in the Death and Taxes series is in bookstores and available at online booksellers now. Books #2 and #3 are available for per-order now. Visit Diane at