Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leslie Langtry Rides Again...

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay... I'm finally gonna do it..................
By this time next week, THE ADULTERER'S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO FAMILY VACATIONS will be up for sale at all the usual places. I'm hoping to have it available in paperback form in a month.

And I'm a nervous wreck.

This is my first, non-Bombay book. And it's a totally different book than my Bombay books. First of all, it's very naughty. There's a lot of explicit sex in it. This means that no relative of mine (possibly including people at work I'd have to look at every day) can never read it. Really, I'll be misinterpreting snickers at family gatherings for the next year.

Second - it's a bit controversial. I know, I know, the Bombay books were considered controversial too. But this one is different. Two married people have an affair on a family vacation. Three out of my four early readers loved it. One hated it. I don't NEED to be loved by all my readers. And I tend to laugh at the wacky reviews on Amazon. But this person HATED it. That scares me a little.

Third - I'm just a nervous wreck. I'm just that way. Every time one of my books came out, I cringed. Reviewers always liked them but that didn't matter.

But this time is different. I'm doing it myself. There's no editor to say I can't have a reference to bear sodomy or that it's blonde not blond (which, by the way, I still don't get). It's 100% risk and it's all on me if it flops.

So we will see what happens. I'll give you an update. Once I come out from under the couch, that is...

The Assassin

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Place Where the Magic Happens

Hey, y'all. Come on in. This is my office, the place where I write all my Christie Craig and Shadow Falls novels. Or, as I like to think of it, it's the place where the magic happens. And before Hubby comes running in here, thinking I'm sharing too much with you guys again, I need to clarify something. I don’t mean that kind of magic. I’m talking book-writing magic. And my magic happens here in my office. Well, sometimes it happens in the shower. And I’m still talking about book-writing magic.

Yes, this is where I write my books. It's where I clear my mind, become one with the world, and use my creative intellect to brainstorm things like tampons being used as guns, and heroines grabbing plungers and toilet lids and wielding them as weapons. It's where I came up with all those things I did to poor Jose in Shut Up and Kiss Me. (Well, except for the ones I based on crazy things Hubby did.) Yup, a lot of whacky crap has been born in this room. Now, sure, it looks like a normal office. You'll see my cat Bob taking a snooze. Bob loves his cat naps. And then there's our dog, the free junkyard dog, Lady, (who by the way is up to costing us $1,200) sitting on the sofa and looking so cute I just want to hug her. (And at $1,200, she’d darn well better look cute!) Not that she ever stays still for that long. Usually, she'll jump off the sofa and wake up Bob because she just knows he wants to play with her. (Um…just in case there are any other clueless dogs out there, here's some good info for you to have: Cats don't like to be awakened from a cat nap. Ever. And they really don't like it when they wake up to find a dog with their nose in some unwanted place, saying “Let’s play.”) Nope. Just so not gonna happen. But what does happen is Bob hisses, takes a few paw swipes, bolts out of the chair, and Lady shrugs it off as Bob’s way of playing, and they go ripping through my study, knocking everything left and right.

But don't worry about the animals. Come on in and take a closer look at my office. Check out the bookcases. Do you see a few statues here and there, among all my books? Well, just like the books, they have a story to tell. Like my collection of angel figurines who I like to think keep watch over me. And considering that I think up some pretty scary plots, I like knowing someone is watching over me. Of course sometimes it makes me paranoid and I have to turn them around to face the other direction. And then there is the Fairy Godmother figurine that a friend gave me to remind me that magic is real. Just look at her face. Wouldn't you get inspired if you looked over at your bookcase and saw her staring back at you with that funny little expression that seems to say, Write or I’ll whack you on the head?

Then there’s the moon pie candle. Does anyone know why a reader would give me a moon pie candle?

Some of the items just make me smile, like the strange orange critter my son gave me. I love it, and when I feel like I'm having a bad day, I can look over at it and think…hey, I don’t look as if my day is as bad as his, and I feel a bit better.

Yup, somehow the things that surround me remind me to let my mind go and imagine anything and everything. Like dead people in Porta-Potties, and dogs peeing on a hero’s shoe. Nothing really crazy, just your every day, normal stuff.

So, that's my office and all the crazy, wonderful things I like to keep in it. Now it's your turn. Tell me, what do you surround yourself with? What does your personal space hold? Do you collect anything?


Monday, February 27, 2012

SEX AND TAXES - by Diane Kelly

It’s almost spring. The temperatures are rising, the trees are filling out with green leaves, the flowers are beginning to blossom. The birds and the bees are flitting about, doing what birds and bees do best. And we all know what that is, don’t we? Wink-wink.

Of course spring also means it’s tax season. People, too, are flitting about, rounding up their financial records and filling out forms, hoping to get their tax returns filed on time.

The birds and bees may seem to have nothing in common with taxes, but there are a surprising number of similarities between the two. Yep, in many ways, doing your taxes can be a lot like making love. For instance . . .

1. You can do it alone, but you get more benefits if you do it with someone else.
2. If you aren’t quite ready when the time comes, you can ask for an extension.
3. It’s sometimes complicated and messy.
4. The rules are constantly changing.
5. The more you give, the more you get in return.
6. You feel great when you finish.
7. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can consult an expert.
8. You can do it on a bed, a table, or a desk.
9. Advance planning can prevent surprises.
10. If you don’t want to do it the old-fashioned way, you can do it electronically.

Can you think of any other similarities between sex and taxes? Share them with us! (Thanks to Christie Craig for suggesting this funny blog topic! Gotta give credit where credit is due!)

DEATH, TAXES, AND A SKINNY NO-WHIP LATTE, book #2 in Diane Kelly's Death & Taxes series, releases March 1st! If you haven't read book #1, DEATH, TAXES, AND A FRENCH MANICURE, you can get it now in electronic format for only $2.99! Visit Diane at,, and

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Guest blogger: Mari Mancusi


I still remember the day my company dragged us all into the conference room on Friday afternoon—pay day—and announced there would be no pay checks distributed at the end of the day. Not today—and not ever again. We were summarily dismissed and suddenly found ourselves unemployed--with no way to make up the money that was owed to us. It was devastating, to say the least. I feel powerless and weak and alone.

Fast forward 10 years and bring on the déjà vu when I opened my mailbox to find a royalty statement from my long time, traditional publisher. While the statement clearly stated I was owed thousands of dollars, there was no check inside. The publisher was having financial difficulties, just like my and chose not to pay what it owed its employees.

But this time, I wasn’t going to just lay down and die. Maybe I’d never see a dime from that publisher, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t make a dollar on my own. And so, as my agent worked tirelessly to get the rights back to my books, I started researching how to publish these backlist titles on my own.

Skater Boy is the first of these books to breathe new life online. My very first YA—contemporary romance--and a book that’s always been close to my heart. (God, I loved those skater boys back in the day!) I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to see it up for sale on Amazon, B&N, and the rest--and know, without a doubt, I’ll get paid for each and every download. I love that I got to choose my own cover. I love that it will never go “out of print.” And the fact that I can offer it for half the price the publisher was charging—total bonus!

I know I will never get that last check from my company. And there will never be a royalty check in the mail from my old publisher. But you know what? Their failure is not mine. I’m determined to make the best of a bad situation and not only make back what was stolen from me—but then some! And whether I succeed or fail, well, at least I know I never gave up. I never surrendered.

About Skater Boy
Dawn Miller is sick of being good. Her parents have scheduled her to within an inch of her life and her popular friends can only think of hooking up and shopping. She's ready for a serious boyfriend, and it's definitely not the obnoxious rich boy everyone wants her to date.

Then she meets Starr, the headmaster's rebellious daughter who refuses to play by the rules. The differences between them are night and day but Dawn is fascinated. Starr introduces her to a world she didn't even know existed: indy record stores, all night raves, and cute skateboarders who hang out underneath a parking deck downtown.

Skateboarders like the gorgeous Sean, who's sweet, smart, and curiously serious --everything Dawn's always wanted in a boyfriend. Soon she finds herself head over heels and doing the unthinkable, lying to her parents and friends. Deep down she knows her parents will never approve of this boy from the wrong side of town...and her secret life is finally catching up to her. Will Dawn be forced to choose between the girl she was and the girl she is meant to be? And if she chooses, will she lose her skater boy forever?

Two time Emmy award winner Mari Mancusi used to wish she could be a vampire back in high school. But she ended up in another bloodsucking profession--journalism--instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens, including the award winning Blood Coven Vampire series published by Penguin Books. When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching cheesy horror movie and her favorite guilty pleasure--videogames. A graduate of Boston University, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob, daughter Avalon and dog Mesquite. You can find her online at







Twitter: marimancusi

Friday, February 24, 2012


Don’t tell my editors, but I’ve been playing hooky all week. I’ve been up in snow country visiting my sister and her family. We’ve had a weirdly warm year here (much like Bullet Hole’s), so there wasn’t a whole lot of snow, but there was enough to make the ground white, which was a total novelty for California people like us. My 11 year old got to try snowboarding (on manufactured snow at the resort) for the first time (along with my brother, who ended up limping and groaning for Advil the entire rest of the trip), and Baby Boy say snow for the first time in his life. Oddly enough, thanks to cartoons, he knew exactly what it was. He even laid down in the most pathetic little pile of slush ever (more mud than snow really) and moved his arms and legs up and down saying “Angels!”. Slush angels? Then he decided he was going to make a snowman. A very teeny tiny snowman. (I guess they look smaller on TV.)

Then we went sledding. It was a hit at first, until Baby Boy thought it would be more fun to pull Mommy in the sled than have Mommy pull him. He’s two and I’m pregnant. As you can imagine, we didn’t go very fast after that.

Next, Big Boy had to have a snowball fight. Here he is crafting the perfect snowball to pelt his mother with. (Luckily, I have good reflexes. I ducked. Unfortunately, my poor boyfriend was behind me. What ensued was an all out snowball war.)

After I couldn’t take the cold anymore (and I won’t say how embarrassingly short an amount of time that was), we went inside the lodge and played pool. This is probably my fav picture of the entire trip. My sister cleaning up at pool with her 6 month old strapped to her in a kangaroo pouch. The child has a total future as a pool shark.

So how was your week? Anyone else getting snow in their part of the country?

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Where's winter?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about this winter--or lack thereof. In fact, I'm almost giddy that we've made it to the last week of February and not once have I had a white-knuckle commute to work or back home. Not one.

Okay. I'm probably going to jinx myself and next week we'll end up with the worst blizzard on record. But until then, I'm going to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and ground cover that is your basic brown rather than blinding white.

I had to run my Jimmy up to the garage for the fifth time for an oil leak. (Amazing isn't it how every time it's something else that's leaking and has to be fixed??) Anyway, on the walk back home as I made my way up the front driveway--observant person that I am--I noticed several spots of green sticking out from the wood mulch. Upon closer observation I discovered that the green in question happened to be the tulips and crocuses I have on the south side of the house.

Now I'm no plant expert. Far from it. But isn't it a wee bit early for these guys to be poking up out of the ground?

What's up with this weather? What has your winter been like? Are you seeing signs of spring at your place? If winter took a holiday where you live, did you miss it?

Next week is our girls' state basketball tournament. And historically we have LOUSY weather. I'm gonna knock on wood that old man winter is on a white sand beach somewhere enjoying a beverage that comes with a cute little umbrella.

~Bullet Hole~

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger and Debut Author Cynthia D'Alba!

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to introduce my friend Cynthia D'Alba to everyone here at Killer Fiction. Cyndi and I met six years ago at a conference in Florida and have been meeting up at conferences ever since--she's one of my all-time favorite people. Please make her feel welcome, she's such a doll, I knew she'd fit right in! I can't wait to read Texas Two Step so I'm off to preorder it right now.

This post is proudly a stop on the TEXAS TWO STEP Blog Tour. For a complete listing of all stops on this tour, please visit here. All contests are for U.S. residents only unless otherwise noted. Comments left on this blog will be counted toward the Texas Two Step Faithful Follower Gift Certificate. To see a complete listing of Blog Tour Prizes, click here. Be sure to check out the freebies. Yours for the asking as long as they last.

Thanks and BIG HUGS to Robin Kaye for hosting me today. I met Robin way back in 2006 when we were both unpublished. Since that time, I’ve watched Robin become a major contemporary author and I get to say…I knew her when! ☺ Thanks Robin.

Today marks the seven-day countdown to the release of my debut, Texas Two Step. If this is the first time you’ve stumbled across my OMG-I-HAVE-A-BOOK-BEING-PUBLISHED tour, I’m glad to see you! For the past week, I’ve been posting installments of Texas Two Step-The Prequel. In today’s episode we continue The First Date. Click here if you want to read today’s episode and for links to earlier installments.

Mitch and Olivia (my hero and heroine from Texas Two Step) meet and date during college so I thought today we should talk about college dating. It can be brutal, can’t it?

When I was a freshman at the University of Arkansas, all the girls were required to live in dorms and could not pledge sororities until their sophomore year. Freshman guys could pledge fraternities, so there was no lack of fraternity parties to attend and lots of pledges needing dates. The freshman class came from all over the state. Sure, some people knew others in the class but mostly we were strangers to each other. Honestly I didn’t make that many friends in classes I took. I was pre-nursing so classes with guys were limited. When it came to dating, blind dates were commonplace. But remember, we didn’t know each other so how did we link up for the date?

The dorm I lived in was four stories. Guys weren’t allowed in our rooms except for certain times of the day or week. (I don’t remember the criteria that governed boys in our rooms but yes, it was a long time ago!) When a guy came to pick up his date, he would call her room to tell her he was downstairs. Since the vast majority of these dates were for frat parties, the lobby would be packed with guys picking up dates. But remember, lots of these were blind dates. We didn’t have a clue what the date looked like. So you’d hear lots of clothes descriptions. “I’m wearing a yellow shirt and a pair of khaki pants”, then the girl would describe what she was wearing, “I’m in a denim skirt and tan top.” So when she hit the lobby, she’d be searching for a yellow shirt and khaki while he was looking for a girl in a tan top and jean skirt. They’d connect and off they’d go.

However, it was not unheard of for the guy to lie about what he was wearing. He wasn’t in a yellow shirt and khaki pants but he knew what she wore to look for her. Why would they do this? Can you guess? The guy was checking her out FIRST. If she wasn’t to his liking, he wouldn’t “claim” his date and could sneak out the door! Seriously. Here’s this girl wandering around looking for a guy in an outfit that didn’t exist. Horrors!
Luckily this never happened to me. But I know plenty of guys who used this ruse to slip out on a date. Cads, don’t you think?

So what was the worst date you went on or heard about? Make us laugh. Or Cringe. Or go hunt up some guy from college who left you standing in the lobby as he sneaked out.

Today’s TTS Blog Tour Prize
Many guest bloggers can offer a copy of a backlist book to be given away as a potential prize for a blog commenter. As a debut author, I don’t have a backlist. But I do have some awesome author friends who have stepped forward and offered one of their books as a prize.

Today’s TTS Blog Tour Author Sponsor is Indie Press Author Margery Scott. Margery is offering her book, Devil’s Harvest, to one lucky person who leaves a comment. To find out more about today’s Blog Tour Sponsor, you can visit her Website, Twitter or Facebook.

To learn more about me check out these links:

Website , Facebook, Twitter, Group Blog, and Personal Blog
And if those aren’t enough, sign up for inside scoops and special contests by receiving the newsletter I share with my blog buddies.

Remember! Leave a comment for a chance to win Margery’s books!

Texas Two Step is available for preordering at Samhain, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

I will be forever in your debt if you would buy it!

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Romance University talking about finding names for your characters. The Prequel will continue on Thursday. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: Aimee Thurlo

Today, fabulous mystery writer, Aimee Thurlo is guest blogging and will tell us all a bit about her work and her process. Aimee writes for Harlequin Intrigue as well as single title mystery series, some of which have been optioned for television. I have to apologize up front, because despite my best attempts, blogger is insisting on putting too many spaces between paragraphs. I finally gave up and had a glass of wine. :)

Take it away, Aimee!

We've had some crazy weather here. Cloudy and gloomy but it's a great time to hunker in and write.

Right now we're working on the last few drafts of Secrets of the Lynx, next year's summer release. It's book three of our Copper Canyon series, and I've got to say, I particularly enjoy Paul Grayhorse. He's relentless, and passionate, and well, you get the idea. His spiritual connection to Lynx, a discerner of secrets, makes him the perfect former lawman and romantic hero.

Our current book - Power of the Raven is one of my all time favorites. That was a story that came to my co-writer and husband, David, and me when we were walking around Old Town in Albuquerque and saw a small, beautifully carved fetish in a storefront window and stopped to admire it. According to tradition, a fetish is more than just a carving. It's a symbol that is said to capture the essence of the animal and impart those qualities to its owner.

Out of that moment came a storyline about a hataalii, a Navajo medicine man, Hosteen (mister) Silver, who fosters troubled Navajo boys, giving them a new life and future. On their sixteen birthday, each of the boys receives a gift - a special fetish carved for them. Gene Redhouse, the hero of Power of the Raven, carries a bear fetish. A bear fits Gene because bear's power is made strong in solitude. Though Bear has a dark side, he also stands for confidence and inner stillness.

“Power of the Raven” centers around Gene, now a man, on a path that will test the limits of his courage.

I've always had a special affinity for animals, and the lore that surrounds each fetish is something I find particularly fascinating. One of my favorites is Raven.Raven's magic brings the power needed to take your dreams, give them time to form, then make them a reality. Raven belongs to the inner world, that place where we protect the part of us that's often injured by the sting of rejection. Raven becomes a powerful ally who encourages us to embrace the shadows because they're also part of who we are.

I find that especially beautiful, because as authors we have to dig into memories of pain as well as triumphs to make our characters come alive. The process can be difficult and leaves you feeling vulnerable at a time when you most need to protect yourself. Not everyone will see what you want to do in the story you create and the words you use to do it. There will be harsh comments, and judgments. You have to be able to take the blows, smile, and keep going. It can hurt - badly - but like a famous teacher once said, 'It doesn't matter how many times you fall down - only how many times you get back up."

Each of the Copper Canyon stories will feature a hero and heroine who has, or will receive, a very special fetish in the course of the book. As the characters learn about their new spiritual brother, the reader will go on their journey with them, and maybe some will find their own fetish - an animal carving that will remind you of your own uniqueness, and the power that resides in each of us.

To celebrate its publicaton we're having a very special giveaway - a handcarved raven fetish signed by the artist, Amos Pooacha. Mr. Pooacha is confined to a wheelchair and makes his living carving these very special fetishes.

Please comment here, then write me at specify you want to enter our drawing, then Feb. 29th we will have the drawing. The winner be immediately notified by e-mail and will be listed on our web page.

Thanks again to Jana, for letting us guest blog. And make sure to check her latest, The Lost Girls of Johnson's Bayou.

And a huge thanks to Aimee for blogging on Killer Fiction! Have a great week, everyone!

Deadly DeLeon

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Guest blogger: Stephanie Queen, author of The Throwbacks!

Stephanie Queen Interviews David Young, the not-so-young hero of The
Throwbacks, a romantic comedy mystery.

SQ: So tell me…

David: What’s with that “not so young” crack anyway?

SQ: Let’s face it, you’re middle-aged.

David: No need to belabor the point. You have me spending the entire novel trying
to face that fact.

SQ: It’s important since you’re trying to romance a much younger woman.

David: You mean she’s trying to romance me, don’t you? Hey, maybe you should go
back and read the book again.

SQ: Nonsense. What’s wrong with Grace romancing you?

David: You mean aside from the fact that I’d have to fight off every young buck that
lays eyes on her and she has this notion about raising a swarm of children, living in
the suburbs and having me retire from my crime-fighting career?

SQ: Yes, aside from all that. And aren’t you too old and too serious to be playing

David: I thought I was supposed to be the dashing crime-fighting hero of this story?

SQ: Yes, but you’re the dashing, yet long-suffering with a self-deprecating wit type
of hero.

David: Great. How many books are in this series?

SQ: Tell me about the Scotland Yard disgrace?

David: You’re full of fun questions aren’t you?

SQ: Stop your whining. Let’s hear some of that self-deprecating wit.

David: [Long-suffering sigh] If I must. I went rogue and murdered a bad guy, but
since I had good reason, the Commission took pity and exiled me to the one place on
earth I could go back to and call home. Boston.

SQ: That wasn’t very witty.

David: Where I met the one woman who was like kryptonite to my career and my
well-being. Grace. She was not simply a charmingly clueless knockout, but possessed
a disarming genuineness, and was naturally and unselfconsciously sensual. In short,
she was the most dangerous human being in the world for me. She had to be a
good twenty or so years my junior, and not the sort of woman I could enjoy a nice
comfortable, tidy, uneventful semi-retirement with, calmly relaxing and gliding
through my golden years.
No. She would give me a heart attack—after torturing me with her energy and
enthusiasm while I try to keep up with her. She wouldn’t understand a thing about
me—and I would know nothing of the youthful generation she came from.
We had nothing in common.
Except mutual excitement

SQ: I see. Sounds dire.

David: Oh, don’t worry. In the end…

SQ: Stop! Have you never heard the word SPOILER? Interview over.

Please leave a comment on your thoughts about May-December romances and why
they work or don’t work. Include your e-mail address and you could win a free e-
copy of The Throwbacks!

Author Stephanie Queen writes romance novels while lying on a pink velvet divan
popping chocolates all day. (Well, not really, but I love the visual.) For more
information check out her website at

Friday, February 17, 2012

Me and my buddy Carolyn Keene

As I ever-so-often do, I was Googling myself yesterday. (cue the chorus telling me to set up a Google Alert for my pen name)

I was actually looking for some new reviews, but instead I came across something that I think is way cooler than a review.

Diesel E-bookstore lists Codename: Dancer as one of two books in the "More From This Category" on the listing for The Secret of the Old Clock! Yes, THAT Secret of the Old in the very first Nancy Drew book EVER!

Raise your hand if you've read this one. (I should see all hands in the air...if you haven't, you should definitely do so, since it's a classic. I think it should be required reading as a young girl for all women who grow up to read or write mysteries.)

Needless to say, my jaw dropped when I saw that. Seriously? WOW! Now, I happen to think that my heroine Dani is a little hipper than Nancy and that the books would appeal to a slightly older age group, but if you write mysteries for teens, you can't really do much better than to be compared to Nancy Drew. Whoohoo!

As we all know, the author responsible for the Nancy Drew franchise is not actually any one author, but rather a number of authors ghostwriting under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired writers, beginning with Mildred Wirt (later Mildred Wirt Benson), to write the manuscripts for the Nancy Drew books. The writers initially were paid $125 for each book and were required by their contract to give up all rights to the work and to maintain confidentiality. Benson and Harriet Adams (Stratemeyer's daughter) are often credited as the primary writers of Nancy Drew books under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, but many others have used the pseudonym as well.

Over the years Nancy has undergone many changes and updates. Originally she was 16 years old (although a high school graduate), then in later years her age was changed to 18. Different series over the years have included the original books ("The Nancy Drew Mystery Series"), as well as "The Nancy Drew Files," "Girl Detective," "Nancy Drew on Campus" (where she finally goes away to college and breaks up with Ned) and "Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew" (which is the chapter book version aimed at 7-year-olds).

The other day I attended the grand opening of the American Women Writers National Museum, a new museum that is opening in Washington DC to honor our nation's most distinguished women writers. As the president of Washington Romance Writers, I was asked to introduce myself and name my favorite American woman writer. I always hate that question. It's like asking you to pick your favorite child. But being a mystery writer I decided I had to go with Carolyn Keene, which elicited a sigh of agreement from many of the people in attendence.

The founder of the museum is most excited about her "50 State Project" where she features a different state each week. When I mentioned I would be blogging about the opening, she asked if I could ask my readers to nominate women writers from their states to be showcased.

So who would you nominate? Leave a comment by 9 pm EST on Sunday and you'll be entered to win an e-book copy of both The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene and Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Preparing For My Self-Publishing Adventure!

Last time I posted here I mentioned that I was getting ready to release my first self-published novel. I'm scared and excited and overwhelmed. I have six books published to date, all by the traditional means. This is my first time doing this completely on my own.  Taking ownership of this project feels akin to taking ownership of my life. If this fails it will be completely on me. If it succeeds it will be my success. I won't be able to blame anyone else for a bad cover or bad promotion or bad editing.

And that's what I want. I want to feel in control of my life. I don't want anyone to hand me anything or prop me up.  Next to my son, this book has become my primary focus.  As a single mom who works at home I tend to crave social interaction with other adults but lately I've been turning down invitations left and right so I can spend more time with my characters.

Oh, and I've stopped dating. That may not sound like a big deal but it is for me. I've come to realize that I frequently use dating in the same way other people use drugs and alcohol. When I'm wrapped up in a budding romance that involves trying to figure some guy out and stressing over  my nails, my hair, my make-up, my waxings and so on, I'm not thinking about the things that scare launching my own book. It's probably why I've always been so fond of "transition men," too. When I leave a relationship that means something to me I tend to look for someone who can distract me from that pain...just like an alcoholic who tries to fix a hangover with a Bloody Mary.  So no dating until I get this thing released. Not only will the temporary absence of men make me more productive but it will ensure that when I do go out with the next guy I'll know that I'm with him because I genuinely like him, not because I'm using him as a means of not dealing with other issues in my life.

So men of LA? You're going to have to look elsewhere for a while, at the very least until March 2nd. That's the day I'll be launching my next book: Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend In Vegas. I've been playing with the title but I'm going to be sticking with this one. I like it and it was a collaborative effort between me and my twelve year old.  I'll give him a cut of the revenues...which is to say that I'll pay for his private school tuition...which is to say I'll be spending all the revenues on him.

To date my top selling book has sold 70,000 copies (some of those being paperbacks & hardcovers, others being ebooks and audiobooks). My goal is to sell at least half of that this time around. It's actually a huge goal for a self-published novel but if I'm going to do this I might as well aim for the stars.

If you haven't checked the book out yet, go to The Vanity, Vengeance And A Weekend In Vegas Blog Site and read the prologue and chapter 1 and 2. On Friday the 17th I'll be releasing chapter 3 on that same site and then on Friday 24th, chapter 4. If you like what you read I hope you'll share it with your friends (if you don't like it, shh!).

And then, as I stated earlier, on Friday the 2nd the book will be available in its entirety. I plan to spend that day hiding under my covers and praying.  Obviously I only want you to buy the book if you like the first few chapters...but still, you should probably keep in mind that if you don't buy my book you might be pushing me into another bad relationship with the first random idiot who offers me dinner. You don't want that on your conscience, do you?

--Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Leslie Langtry, Trophy Author

My one and only trophy, 1992 Women's Winter League, 2nd Place

Our mantle is bursting with trophies. Oh, not mine. My kids have trophies, medals, etc. My husband even has a bunch in the basement - and that was back in the day before everyone got a trophy. But I only have one. This one.

It's fun when my son's friends come over and scream, "COOL GUN TROPHY (11yr old boys always speak in all caps)! Is that your dad's?" I get a special thrill when Jack shakes his head and says, "No, it's Mom's." You should see their faces. It really is precious.

I used to shoot handguns competitively. I lost out on first place to a female cop - and I don't feel too bad about that. The leader of our group was an elderly woman who was retired Secret Service - which was very cool.

Yesterday, I found out I won Blogger of the Year at The Book Boost. That is very cool. This gun trophy is lonely. It needs a friend. While I wait, I trolled the internet looking for the coolest trophies ever.

We have to begin with the classic, cartoon bomb trophy. This would be a good trophy for the Bombay Family - Best Use Of An Explosive Device In An Assassination. I'd like to think Gin has a shelf full of them in her secret Death Lab.

This trophy just screams AWESOMENESS. I don't know what it's for, and apparently it's a composite of mixed, mythical metaphors - which means AWESOMENESS. I'd like to see this trophy used for something unexpected - like BEST RHUBARB PIE or CUTEST KNITTED UNDERWEAR.

I guess this award would go to the guy who takes bites out of donuts in the break room, then puts them back when he discovers they are filled with a purple, viscous fluid. And if you work in an office with a break room, you know this guy. And yeah, he'd deserve a mouthful of purple viscous fluid.

This is my favorite. This trophy says, BEST SUPERHERO DISGUISED AS A WEREWOLF. What wouldn't you use this trophy for, right?

Now THIS one is my favorite. This trophy says, "I shot it, and I killed and I mounted it, but I have no f%#*!ing idea what it is." Now isn't that what winning is really all about?

The Assassin

Valentine's Day Contest Winners!

The first place winner of my Valentine’s Day Contest is Corrie! You have your choice of a Kindle Touch or a $99 Amazon gift card. Please contact me christie(at)christie(-) with your preference and mailing address. Congratulations!

But wait! You may be a second place winner so keep reading!

Congratulations to the five second place winners: Kristi, Brandie, Nooreensbooks, Anneliese, and Bodaisy. They all have a choice of an e-copy of Born at Midnight, the first book in my young adult paranormal Shadow Falls series or a cool Shadow Falls t-shirt. Email me at christie(at)christie(-) with your preference and mailing address. You must live in the US or Canada.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Contest! Contest! Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, I am, but I’m also talking about picking a winner for my Valentine’s Day contest. That’s right. Celebrating the release of Murder, Mayhem and Mama at Amazon, I’m giving away a Kindle Touch or a $99 Amazon gift card. I will post the winner at the top of this blog tomorrow. So make sure you come back to see if you won. I’m also giving away this really cool Shadow Fall's t-shirt!

The rules are simple. You tweet or Facebook about the release of Murder, Mayhem and Mama at Amazon; Twitter users must include the hashtag #Christie-Craig@Amazon, and then leave a comment on this blog telling me you Facebooked or tweeted about MM&M’s Kindle release, and then answer one of my five questions about romance. (The questions are below.) By the way, I answered all those questions myself. And I’m still blushing about some of my answer, too.)

1. What draws a woman to a man?

As a woman and as a romance writer I’ve given this a lot of thought. What contributes to that indefinable lure that draws one person to another? I know I like a man with wide shoulders, a sexy grin and eyes . . . eyes that twinkle with humor and heat. I remember the first time I met my hubby; what’s more, I remember the exact instant that his blue eyes met mine. My mom was trying to set us up, but I had just walked away from a bad marriage and I didn’t want to be set up. I didn’t want a man in my life--period. However, there was a little jolt of something when my gaze met his. Something that made me want to look longer, but almost a sense of rawness that demanded I look away. It’s as if I knew he could see too much in my gaze, that with just that one glance, he’d know what I felt and what I thought. And what I felt and thought was . . . Wow. I don’t want this, but if I did . . . Wow. You can guess that wow eventually won over.

2. What’s the most romantic thing a man has done for you?

I guess for my hubby’s sake, I should use him as the example, huh? Honestly, I got lucky in love—the second go round. I could name numerous things my hubby, aka my true life hero, has done over the years. I moved to California to escape an abusive relationship from my-then-soon-to-be-ex. The only thing I brought with me was a five-year-old and a duffle bag of possessions. Less than two months after I met Steve, I found a brand new car parked in my parking spot at my apartment. It was a gift from him, because he deemed the clunker car I was driving unsafe for me and my daughter.

Then there was the honeymoon cabin he rented with a fireplace in the bedroom because I’d once said that making love in front of a fireplace would be so romantic. We had to crank down the air conditioner to light that fireplace on our wedding night, but I was right. It was amazing.
However, I think the most romantic gesture he’s ever done was something he said about seventeen years after we were married. Though I have to admit that at the moment he said it, I didn’t think it was going to be so romantic. I thought . . . well, let me just tell you.

We were out having dinner and he’d been a little quiet, and then he looked at me and said, “You are not the same woman I married.” My heart stopped, I felt blindsided, and didn’t think I was going to like where this conversation was headed. I knew I’d put on a few pounds. And I’d put a lot of time in on my writing career. Had it hurt my marriage? Fear nearly had me choking on my egg roll.

With a serious look in his eyes he continued, “I married a young woman; she was a little vulnerable and a lot scared to trust anyone. She was practically a girl who didn’t really know what she wanted out of life. And look at you now. You’re a writer who has a passion for what you do, one who has faced more rejection, who has shown more courage to chase her dream, than anyone I know. I’m so proud of you.” See why I love this man? You know, I may not have given my fictional heroes my hubby’s abs (Sorry, babe), but I gave each and every one of them his heart, his sense of humor, and his ability to make a woman feel loved.

3. What’s the worse date/romantic disaster you’ve ever had?

Okay…this is about hubby, too. You see, as much of a hero as he is, when we were first dating, he was trying too hard. And you know what happens when you try too hard, don’t you? You mess up. Well, we hadn’t been dating long and he took me to his place. We were going to cook dinner together and have a quiet evening. At that time he was still doing the gentlemanly thing of opening and closing doors for me. I had a bag of groceries in my hand and when I went to get out of the car, he was already opening the passenger door for me. I stepped out and he closed the car door with a solid thud. A solid and painful thud.

I looked at him and calmly asked if he would open the door.

He calmly asked, “Did you forget something?”

I calmly nodded my head even thought I was gritting my teeth.

“What did you forget?” he asked.

Wincing, and no longer able to handle the pain, I said rather loudly. “My hand.”

He’d shut my hand in the car door. Our quiet evening was spent with an ice on my fingers.

And yeah, in spite of that, I still married him. And I would do again in a heartbeat.

4. If you’ve been married for a while, what sweet things does your spouse do that makes you fall in love with him all over again?

Hubby doesn’t drink coffee, never has. But every night he grinds my fresh coffee beans and sets up my coffee to brew at 6:30. He even sets out a cup, a spoon and my creamer. One morning I woke up and there wasn’t any coffee made. He’d forgotten. I started grinding my coffee beans and I hear him running down the stairs. “I’m sorry,” he called out as hit the bottom of the steps. He made me stop making the coffee and he did it for me.

“You know I can make it,” I told him.

“I know,” he said. “But I like spoiling you.”

And he has and does. I personally think it’s because I forgave him for slamming my hand in the car door. LOL.

5. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your Valentine?

Yes, I’ve done the sexy nightgowns. The whipped cream. (Hey, it was research for a scene.) I’ve baked pies that he loves, cooked his favorite foods. But as crazy as it seems, I think the most romantic thing was that whenever he would go away on a trip, I would put love notes in his pockets and hidden in his luggage. One time, he called me a few days into a trip. “You didn’t put notes in my luggage,” he said, sounding hurt.

I knew then that those silly notes had meant something to him. The funny thing was that I had put them in his luggage, but just not in both suitcases. He’d come in while I’d been hiding them, and I didn’t get to put as many of the little love notes in there as I normally did. So I told him to look in the other suitcase. He did.

Ahh, love, it’s funny how the little things can mean so much.

Happy Valentine’s Day, guys! I wish all of you love and laughter. Go hug someone today—be it your spouse, a child, a parent, or just a friend. Let the people you love know it. And make sure you enter my contest and help me get the word out about latest baby, Murder, Mayhem and Mama, now out at Amazon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LOVE IS SCARY! by Diane Kelly

I was driving in Fort Worth the other day and happened to pass the Hangman’s House of Horrors, a former meatpacking plant that is turned into a haunted house each Halloween. The building sported a huge banner that read “Open for Valentine’s Day.” I found myself chuckling at the very idea. A haunted house on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year? Yeah, right. Because nothing says “love” like a traipse through an old factory full of dismembered body parts and crazy rednecks terrorizing you with a chainsaw.

But then I realized that maybe they were on to something. Love is actually scary, isn’t it? Love makes a person vulnerable. It’s terrifying to give our hearts to someone, to trust them not to toy with it or trample on it or betray it. And when it comes to settling down, to picking a partner for life, it can be frightening to wonder whether we are making the right choice.

When I think back to when my husband and I became serious about each other all those years ago, I recall the things that drew me to him. He seemed to understand me in a way no one else ever had, and he accepted me for who I am, tolerating my many flaws, irritating habits, and idiosyncrasies without suggesting I should work to change myself. He had a cat, which meant he was caring and compassionate, not a macho sh*thead. He had an understated but warped sense of humor, too, which I found to be a lot of fun. He drove a Toyota Tercel sporting a bumper sticker that read “You may not remember me, but I’m wearing your underwear.” How could I not fall for him?

But the biggest factor that told me back then that he was THE ONE was that the thought of spending the rest of my life with him didn’t cause me to suffer an anxiety attack. With my previous boyfriends, I knew deep in my heart that things could never last, at least not happily. I’d tire of them or they’d tire of me. There were things about them I couldn’t live with long term and/or things about me I knew they wouldn’t be able to live with.

Did any of you have the same experience? What made you know your partner was THE ONE? What is the most scary thing to you about falling in love?

DEATH, TAXES, AND A SKINNY NO-WHIP LATTE, book #2 in Diane's Death and Taxes Series, will be released on March 1st! Book #1, DEATH, TAXES, AND A FRENCH MANICURE, is in bookstores now and is currently only $2.99 in digit format!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roses are Red by guest author Maria Grazia Swan

They always traveled in the comfort of a refrigerated van, but today, February 13th they were so cramped and tightly squeezed together that they involuntarily poked each other.

            “Same ol, same ol,” said Bloom, the grand dame of them all and the number one whiner. “What’s so special about tomorrow? All those fools running out to buy flowers and candy. What for? Like bringing roses once a year is going to make a difference.”

            “Oh, you be quiet,” said Pinkie. The youngest and the sweetest, she was traveling with dozens of her sisters and found the adventure “awesome.”

            “I hope I end up with a first love,” sighed Ruby, the most colorful and romantic of them all.

Just then the van came to a screeching halt in front of a Flowerama shop, and all the traveling guests were transferred inside.

            Expert hands separated and assigned them to different spots in the store. Bloom and her followers took the place of honor, in the large window.

Pinkie and her siblings occupied the center of the room.

Ruby waited patiently for her assignment, but somehow she went unnoticed until closing time. The cleaning crew found her in the same spot she landed upon arrival and decided to move her to the storage room to keep her out of the way while they cleaned the place. She was still there after they turned out the lights and all went quiet. She called out to Bloom and Pinkie but they all had already left on assigned tasks. 

The next morning the ring of the phone and loud voices awakened her.

“Sorry, we are all out, but we have magnificent gladioli and sweet smelling carnations. Okay, very sorry.” The voice of the woman Ruby assumed was the boss.

“Can you imagine? Procrastinators! They always wait until the last minute. Good luck to them. We had a great day yesterday, and all our roses are gone.”

But I’m still here, thought Ruby from her involuntary hiding place. She remained there throughout the day, patiently waiting to fulfill her destiny. This day was what her whole existence had been about. The Valentine’s Day whisper had traveled the rumor mill of the green house for weeks. Only the best would be chosen. It was a great honor to go out in the world and make someone happy. It was all about love and giving.

During those cold February nights, the elders would tell tales of their best off- springs, and how photos of them, with the lucky recipients would make the front page of magazines, and year after year there would be stories celebrating that first romantic gift that led to splendid love stories and made legends out of ordinary blossoms. Ruby heard that some of the lucky ones even got conserved and stayed with the lovers forever and ever.

That was her dream, her reason for wanting to be a first love’s Valentine. Apparently she had failed as the day grew short and she waited alone in the cold storage. She could tell it was closing time because the two young helpers had left, and she could hear the boss lady counting the receipts of the day. When the front door slammed she assumed the owner had left, but then she heard a new voice. It sounded like a man…no, a boy.

“I only need one,” said the boy.

“I’m sorry, young man, we are sold out. And we are about to close. Why did you wait until now? Procrastinating is never good.”

“It’s not like that,” the boy’s voice, again. “I bought a box of chocolates, but then she came to school with braces. She got braces yesterday, and her mouth hurts so bad there is no way she can chew. I hid the chocolates; I didn’t want her to feel even more self conscious of the braces. I have enough money left for one rose, because your ad says, ‘$1.99 for a rose with a ribbon.’”

“I understand son. I would give you a rose for free, but I have none left. Let me see what else might work”

I’m here, get me! If only roses could be heard. And perhaps they can, because the owner came and glanced into the storage, and a slice of light landed on Ruby. She heard a small gasp. “Well, well, well. Where did you come from?”

And just like that, Ruby fulfilled her destiny and her dream. Somewhere, many years later, I’m sure Ruby is still in some young woman’s room, upright and proud having been carefully dried and preserved, and I bet she still gets affectionate glances from a lucky gal with straight teeth.

May you have a love-filled Valentine’s Day, and may all your roses be lucky in love.

~ Maria Grazia Swan            


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Mystery of Fried Okra with guest Melissa Bourbon

I am all about food.  Seriously.  I wanted to be a chef when I was in high school.  I was determined!  The Culinary Institute in Napa was on my radar.  But my dad said, “Why don’t you go to college for two years and then you can transfer?” 

Sneaky dad.  It was a question, sure, but it was really non-negotiable.  Two years later, I  said, “Two years are up, Napa here I come!”

To which he replied, “But you’re halfway there, why don’t you just finish?”

And so I did.  I met my husband, discovered a passion for teaching, and gave up my dream of being a chef.  Quite a few years, and five kids later, I discovered a new dream: writing.  But food is never far from what I write.

In the Lola Cruz mystery series (Bare-Naked Lola comes out in April), the Cruz family owns a Mexican restaurant.  And in my Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, Southern comfort abounds...quite often in the form of fried fare.

Fried Chicken

Fried Okra

Tex-Mex, which means ReFried Beans and Fried Tortillas

Peach Cobbler (okay, it’s not fried, but it might as well be!)

I could go on and on, but you get the gist.  While there aren’t many strictly foodie scenes, food plays a bit part in an awful lot of my books. 

From A Fitting End:

     In a daze, I wandered to the kitchen.  Cornbread.  I needed    some cornbread.  And fried okra.

From Deadly Patterns (coming October 2012):

     “Hmmm?”  Her attention never wavered from the kitchen where I could see the mess of okra I’d bought at the market spilled over the counter and Josie pouring half a box of cornmeal into a gallon-sized baggie.  I didn’t have fried okra, so she was going to make some.

     Made sense.


In case you’ve never tried fried okra, here’s how it’s done:

Wash a mess of okra and cut into bite size pieces.

Toss okra bits with mix of egg and tiny bit of water.

Now toss in a baggie filled with cornmeal.

Fried in frying pan, taking care to let okra brown on one side before turning...or... spray with olive oil cooking mist and bake at about 390 degrees, turning, until browned.

Eat this instead of popcorn!  Really.  It’s pretty tasty.

And there you have it.  My obsession with food.  I wasn’t even going to write about okra or give a recipe, but I couldn’t help myself.  I’m a foodie at heart!

 ~ Melissa Bourbon

Blurb:  A Fitting End

Former Manhattan fashion designer Harlow Jane Cassidy has a gift for creating beautiful dresses.  But when Harlow becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation, she’ll more than her sewing skills to unravel the mystery…

Business is booming at Harlow’s custom dressmaking boutique, Buttons & Bows, even with the presence of her great-grandmother’s ghost hanging around the shop.  But thanks to the fast approaching Margaret Moffette Lea Pageant and Ball, Harlow has her work cut out for her when Mrs. Zinnia James hires her to make her granddaughter’s pageant gown.

With the debutant ball getting the whole town of Bliss, Texas into a tizzy, Harlow knows her dress has to be perfect.  But when a local golf pro is found stabbed to death with dressmaking shears, the new deputy thinks Harlow and Mrs. James conspired to commit the crime.  Now Harlow has to finish the dress on time and clear her name before the next outfit she designs is a prison jumpsuit…

Read an excerpt


Amazon Print

Barnes & Noble

Praise for A Fitting End

“The second Dressmaker’s paranormal Mystery is a fun family affair… Fans will enjoy Harlow Jane’s amateur sleuthing with advice from her late great-grandma and the Texas posse while also seeking two degrees of Robert Redford.” ~ The Mystery Gazette

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hitting the Big Girl List

This week two very cool things happened to me. 

The first: As amanda was awesome enough to point out in her post, I hit the USA Today Bestseller list with my High Heels Mysteries Boxed set.  Woohoo!  Okay, to be more actuate, this week I learned that I had hit the list this week.  It turns out this title had actually been on it for 4 weeks without me knowing.  (insert me thunking head against desk here)  This is one downfall of self-publishing – you are totally on your own.  My agent didn’t think to look because she has no access to my sales numbers so had no idea how much this book was selling.  My publishers didn’t think to look because I don’t have any new release from either of them this month.  It was only because I mentioned something in a thread with other writers about how I hoped to “hit a big girl list” someday that someone was kind enough (Amanda) to point out to me that, “Uh, Gemma?  You already have hit a big girl list, dear.”  And while everyone was very nice about it, I’m sure they were all thinking how very blonde I am.  That’s okay.  I will take the teasing for the rest of my life.  I hit a list and that was all that mattered!
That same week, another indie published author, Catherine Bybee, announced that she hit the NY Times Bestseller List with her book Wife by Wednesday.  I was thrilled for her!  While I didn’t know her personally, I always get little goosebumps when I see an indie author hit the big lists.  While I love my publishers, there’s something cool about seeing an author do it all on her won.  So I email Catherine to congratulate her, and we chatted back and for in email about indie publishing in general.  Then when the NY Times List was published online, Catherine emailed me.
“Uh, Gemma… did you know that you’re on the list this week, too?”

Yes, my blondeness just hit a new high.  I had no idea.  But she as right.

I was on the New York Times Bestseller list! 

First, I refreshed the browser about fifteen times, making sure there was no mistake.  then I got my glasses, to make sure I was indeed seeing my name on the list.  Then I jumped up and down with sheer glee (silently, as my toddler was napping next to me).  I always thought I would cry when I hit the NY list, but honestly I was all smiles.  Big, ear to ear smiles.  ISee, ’m not what you’d call an overnight success.  This had been several long years in the making - several hours of tears and heartache over missed deadlines, lost editors, closed publishing houses, bad covers, and teeny tiny advances.  To say I was grateful was a huge understatement.  Like saying I’m only a little blonde.  ;)

Having hit two big lists in one week I had to celebrate.  Unfortunately, I’m still battling morning sickness, so dinner out was a no go.  No champagne for me either.  And I’m honestly too tired to go dancing or out to do anything physical lately.  Finally, I deiced on the one way to celebrate that could never let me down – shopping.  I went to Macy’s and bought the prettiest, coolest, best handbag in the store, making myself for once not even look at the price (which, for a thrifty Scottish girl like me is really saying something). 

Then I stopped by the jewelry department and bought a couple of sparkly things on clearance, too.   I couldn't help it. I had a coupon!  :)

~Trigger (and handbag!) Happy Halliday