Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blast From the Past

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I was one of those youngsters (practically a baby, really) who raced home from school each afternoon to catch the last twenty minutes of Dark Shadows. From Barnabas, the Collins family vampire, to Quentin the werewolf, Angelique, the witch, and assorted ghosts and warlocks, Dark Shadows was a campy gothic horror soap opera that, at times, provided unintended comic relief when a prop malfunctioned or an actor forgot his or her lines--which happened frequently.
Dark Shadows was the catalyst for my first fledgling forays into the writing realm with stories of a ghostly (and, yes, ghastly) nature.

Dark Shadows has always held a special place in my childhood memories.I introduced my kids to Dark Shadows via Netflix. They loved the corniness of the show as much as I did. So, it was with some misgivings that I decided to go see the new film starring Johnny Depp.
Don't get me wrong. I like Johnny Depp. What's not to like, right? And even though I couldn't really see Depp as Barnabas Collins, I was determined to keep an open mind. So, I took two of my kids and one of their friends to see the film this past weekend. The family friend had never seen the original Dark Shadows so that person wouldn't be influenced by expectations based on the original series.

We went. We saw. We all disliked the movie--in varying degrees and for various reasons. We wondered who the filmmakers were trying to hook. The fans of the 70s soap, we decided, wouldn't like the fact that the story strayed so far from the original--(I won't disclose any spoilers, but suffice to say much literary license was taken) and new viewers unfamiliar with the storyline and characters of the original would find little to enchant them, either in terms of story or characterization. Me? I'm still wondering how Barnabas and Victoria managed to fall in love considering they spent hardly any time together on screen.

So. There you have it. I'm glad I saw it, but wish I'd waited for the DVD release.

Have you seen Dark Shadows yet? What did you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down or so-so? What else have you seen in the theater lately?

The previews for Snow White and The Huntsman looked fantastic--especially the special effects--so I'm planning to see that movie this weekend.

Hoping I'm not disappointed.

And this has been a week at the movies with Bullet Hole Bacus!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wo(men) in black

A few days ago, I got a call from the US Government. Not totally unusual, since every few years, they do a background check on a good friend of mine. She works for the diplomatic service and is always at one embassy or another. I'm one of her "links" to the United States.

As far as links go, I'm a pretty good one. We've known each other since freshman year of high school. They seated us alphabetically in homeroom. She was Crowe. And since we had a small school (and very few "D" and "E" names), I (Fox) was seated right behind her. We got to be friends and the rest is history.

Very detailed history.

You see, when the federal agents want to know things, they want facts and plenty of them. And I should know lots of things because, well, I still see my friend whenever she's in the states. We talk all the time and I visit her in whatever country she's in (a little less now with kids and book contracts). Unfortunately, I am not a real detail person. As evidenced every time the agents knock on my door to talk about my friend.

Agent: How well do you know this person?
Me: Very well. I met her in high school and she was even the maid of honor at my wedding.
Agent: You knew her in high school.
Me: Yes.
Agent: Where did she work in high school?
Me: You've got to be kidding.
Agent: You know this person?

Who remembers where their friends worked in high school? Not me. I did manage to stumble out something about a summer camp where my friend taught gymnastics. Naturally, the agent wanted to know the name of the camp. Err...Gymnastics-R-Us? Really, who keeps track of these things? (Note: If you're one of those people who does keep track of things, you can pipe down right now.)

They also had questions about my job.

Agent: What do you do for a living?
Me: I write books.
Agent: That people read?
Me: Not all the time, no.

I thought that was pretty funny. Turns out, federal agents have no sense of humor.

Luckily, (and probably despite me) my friend has managed to keep her security clearance. So far. Good thing, because she really is great at what she does. After all, she kept me from getting arrested in Mexico City over a slight misunderstanding with la policia. They wanted a bribe. I wanted to see how well I could get by on high school Spanish (Hint: not that well).

And as far as I'm concerned, friendship is more than remembering the address of my friend's place in grad school. Instead, I remember crashing on the couch of said place. Oh, and the time she visited St. Louis and her grandmother took her to the store to buy batteries for her alarm clock. Aileen is legally deaf, so she has one of those alarm clocks that shakes instead of buzzes (hard to hear a buzz when your hearing aids are out). So naturally, her grandmother asked the sales clerk for "batteries for her granddaughter's vibrator."

But do the agents ask about that?


They don't ask the important things. Not that I would tell them anyway. Some things are better left to friends.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Day After Memorial Day

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

Memorial Day weekend is a big one in our house. Not only because we have so many of our family who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, but because it’s also my youngest daughter’s birthday.

Ever since we lost our dog, a yellow Lab named Sambuca a few years ago, Mini-Me has been without her cuddly constant companion. ‘Buca was 110-pounder who thought he was a lap dog. Mini-Me took his death pretty hard.

Our other dog, Jasmine is a love, but she’s not cuddly.

Last week Mini-Me called me when she got home from school and asked if she could have a puppy for her birthday. I said the same thing I’ve said every time the question comes up—“Ask your Dad.”

I’m a dog lover—my husband, not so much. He thinks they’re okay, but with the busy household we have, he sees a puppy as just another thing to take care of. A few years ago he rendered his edict—No more carbon based life forms--and I’d seen nothing to make me think he’d change his mind. Still, Mini-Me wasn’t the only one who would kill for a puppy so I thought I’d do my part to help out.

Mini-Me really deserved a special birthday present, she’s a great kid, has been working hard in school, and as she told me, she’s never asked for much. She wanted a dog small enough for her to handle and walk on her own, and with her disabilities, she decided she on a Puggle—a designer breed that’s a cross between a Pug and a Beagle.

Now I’m not a little dog person. If it were up to me, we’d have St. Bernards, Mastiffs, and Great Pyrenees running around the back yard. The smallest dog I’ve ever had was a Cocker Spaniel. I’ve never had a dog I was afraid I’d step on. But this was for Mini-Me so I did some research on Puggles and had to admit they sounded like the perfect dog for her. So, while I was at it, I found a breeder who had a few females available.

Mini-Me made her case and my dear husband succumbed. (Next time I try talking DH into remodeling the kitchen, I’m just going to put Mini-Me on the job!) Friday night we went to PetSmart and bought all the necessary accouterments for a Puggle Puppy (including Puppy Training Classes) and took off early Saturday morning for the breeder. We began the holiday weekend buying Mini-Me her birthday present. Meet our Puggle Puppy Pepper (say that five times fast!)

Pepper is 14 weeks old and weighs all of 6 pounds! She’s wearing a cat collar because they don’t make dog collars that small. It was love at first sight between Mini-Me and Pepper. 

We’ve taken her everywhere: Starbucks (of course)

The Westminister, Maryland Memorial Day Parade--the longest running Memorial Day Parade in the United States. My son marched with his JROTC Raiders Team (he's in the second row, far right with the glasses)

We hit the local Pet Store on the way home for some chew toys. (Pepper has really sharp little teeth!) and to Mini-Me’s birthday party.

It was a great weekend and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my youngest happier!

So, what did you do this weekend?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Holiday

The best kind of holidays are when they fall on a Monday. I absolutely loathe Mondays. It's the worst day of the week for me. If I had 52 sick days, I'd call in sick every Monday. But today is a holiday, so yea! I plan to write, write, write and sleep on my float in the pool. You can't get any better than that!

Saw a couple of movies this weekend: The Chernobyl Diaries and MIB 3. The Chernobyl Diaries was disappointing, following a long list of disappointing horror movies that I've seen in the past couple of years. Why can't someone make a decent horror movie? Someone? Anyone?

MIB 3 was great! And you actually found out some of K and J's backstory, which I thought added a lot of depth to the plot. Very nice job and some laugh out loud parts that you always get.

So what are your plans? Anything fun?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Real-Life High Heels Mystery

No, Gemma isn't writing today's post. But maybe I'll need to call in her heroine Maddie Springer for some help.

First a little backstory.

Six months ago this coming Monday I went to work in the morning and didn't come home until Thursday. You see, when I left for my OB appointment that afternoon, I thought it was a routine non-stress test where I'd lie down in a lounge chair for an hour with a monitor strapped to my belly. I'd just read and then go back to work.

But Baby Boy had other plans, and the doctor informed me she was sending me "upstairs." Yeah, to Labor & Delivery. Which shouldn't really have been a problem because I'd already made it to 38 weeks (his sister was much more impatiuent and made her debut at 34 weeks), but nevertheless, I wasn't ready.

I'd left everything unfinished at work. And left everything untouched in my office. I completely forgot that I had a few pairs of really cute heels under my desk that I kicked off one day when my swollen feet just couldn't take it anymore. And it wasn't like I'd be needing them for maternity leave. My mommy uniform pretty much consisted jeans and a t-shirt (or sweatshirt...or pj's) and sneakers (or flip flops or barefoot) for months there.

I forgot all about them. And even had forgotten about them when I returned to work earlier this month. It wasn't until I was switching offices the other day and packing that I discovered them again. Ooh, pretty!

So I moved them to the new office and planned out the outfits I'd wear this week to match both pairs. Yes!

I was talking to some people on my new hall, and they told me that apparently there'd been some theft in that wing and we were encouraged to lock up anything of value, so I knew I shouldn't just leave my purse out. No biggie.

The next day I came in, wearing a fabulous navy and cream wrap dress that would look spectacular with those hot cream patent leather open-toe slings I found. I slipped my feet under the desk to put on the gorgeous shoes.


No cream shoes. No awesome red peep-toe pumps. No black strappy sandals.

Where the hell did my shoes go? I immediately thought back to my new neighbors warning me about theft on the hall. Did somebody steal my shoes? But that didn't even make sense. I mean, they're really nice shoes and all, but ew. Who wants someone's used shoes?

But I'm beginning to think there are some freaks on this new hall. You see, now that I'm at work, I'm pumping during the day. And pumping SUCKS, so I know exactly how much milk is in that bottle when I stick it in the fridge.

And one day I put 8 ounces in the fridge, but when I went to retrieve it a couple of hours later, there was only 6 ounces.

So yeah.

Open message to the coworker who drank that really sweet coffee creamer...joke's on you, buddy. And if you took my shoes, give them back please.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Characters Belong To Their Readers, Not Their Authors

A while back I Tweeted/Facebooked that I had 28 reviews for my most recent book, Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend In Vegas (starring Sophie Katz) on Amazon and 27 of them were five stars. Obviously I was happy with that and my focus was on the 27 five star reviews, not the 1 three star review (which was posted by a "reader" who hadn't read the book yet but was upset that it wasn't in audio). But when my Facebook/Twitter readers saw that there was a three star review they were indignant, particularly since the reviewer literally hadn't given the book a chance. Immediately they started commenting on that one review and marking it as "unhelpful." By the end of the day that reviewer had gotten so much negative feedback she actually removed the entire review all together.  Now I have thirty-one reviews for Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend In Vegas and they're all five stars.

This whole incident gave me pause. As usual I had grossly underestimated the passion and loyalty of Sophie's fans. Furthermore, I had underestimated their protectiveness. It's tempting to say that it's me they're being protective of and I know that some of my readers feel personally connected to me through my blog and Facebook posts but for the most part I think they were being protective of Sophie. I spend so much time with Sophie and her friends, creating new adventures, new relationships, new sexually charged encounters and so on that I forget that this character doesn't just belong to me anymore. Thousands of readers see her as a friend.  A close friend.  One they can count on to be there for them, to make them laugh, to help them escape from the stressers of their every day life. And I'm moved by that. I'm touched that I've been able to give her to so many people and that she has brightened so many lives, even if it's only for the length of time it takes to read a book. It motivates me to keep writing her stories to star in. I don't want to take her away from anyone.

I would never want to take away somebody's friend.

Kyra Davis

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

World's Weirdest Roadtrip Thru Wisconsin

Patricia, Angela, Kris and Hellie – I’ve decided to give out four copies of ADULTERER’S GUIDE!  Please email me at with your addresses and the name you want on the inscription!

So, this past weekend, we went up to visit Mr. Assassin at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin – where he is taking military related classes on how to blow up stuff.  It was a four hour, winding trip through tiny towns.  I always forget how strange Wisconsin is.  And I like it.

You can’t visit Wisconsin without having cheese.  There’s a cheese shop every two miles, and weirdly enough, they almost all have a giant mouse statue out front.  In fact, this love of cheese translates into huge, foam wedges of cheese Wisconsonians wear on their heads – mostly at Green Bay Packers games and of course, to church.  It was refreshing to see that they’ve diversified their cheese-loving haberdashery.  This is Meg in a Cheese Sombrero and Jack, in a Cheese Fez.  He wore it the whole way home.  In fact, he’s wearing it right now.

Boscobel is the “Wild Turkey Hunting Capital of Wisconsin!”  They have signs proclaiming their prowess as hunters of large, flightless, delicious birds.  Just who decides you are the “wild turkey hunting capital of Wisconsin” anyway?  Is it based on sheer numbers of turkeys killed?  It would have to be – wouldn’t it?  Do you have to prove it by turning the town into a carcass counting graveyard every fall?  Well, then I have another question.  WHY WOULD TURKEYS EVER GO THERE? 

As we drove through Leon we noticed banners on every streetlight (there were five) that had a large alligator on them and said, “Home of Gator Fest!”  That’s right.  When I think of gators, I don’t even think of Louisiana.  I think of Wisconsin.  There’s nothing a cold-blooded reptile likes better than forty inches of snow and below zero temps three fourths of the year.   My guess is that there’s some guy in Leon, probably named Dave, who has a pet newt with an abnormal growth that looks like teeth, in a fish tank in his trailer.  When you consider the ratio of reptile to human there, they might actually outrank even Florida.

Sparta was our last stop before Fort McCoy and Mr. Assassin.   Of course, me and the kids kept yelling, “This is SPARTA!” out the window at startled pedestrians.  But the big news in Sparta is that it is not the home of battle-hardened men in sandals (something I found personally disappointing) – it is actually, and I quote, “The Bicycle Capitol of the World.”

That’s right.  You heard me.  Spartans have gone beyond the “Best In Wisconsin” theme and jumped straight for the world title.   

Apparently, they have some bike paths. 

Sparta, Wisconsin must have some serious connections to get this title.  In all honesty, besides the giant statue here (that Jack tries to kick over, shouting “This is SPARTA!”) we only saw two people on bicycles and that includes both times we went through town.

We really thought we'd seen it all - especially with the Uff Da Cafe in Westby.  But we were wrong.  Driving on a little, two-lane road from Sparta to Ft. McCoy, we rounded a corner and saw this:

The sign across the street says, CATARACT, WISCONSIN (I’m not kidding).  I think we might’ve found the Eye of Mordor.

What we’d actually found, was a graveyard of fiberglass sculptures that had at one time adorned water parks, putt putt courses, and possibly Satanic places of worship.  This place was delightfully creepy and a ragged sign encourages visitors not to touch sharp edges and to watch out for bees.  There’s a row of houses across the street.  What must it be like to wake up every morning and see a giant, bloodshot eyeball out your window?  It’s interesting to note that next to the eyeball is a giant cow, a giant bulldog and a huge fiberglass pheasant.  Yes, that’s exactly the combination I would’ve put together.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip.  I’m thinking someday we should do a Killer Fiction road trip there.  We can call it the “World’s Best Wisconsin Roadtrip.” 

I’ve got my eye on a cheese tophat.

Let’s go!

The Assassin

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Winner!  Winner!  We have a winner!!  Congrats to Brandy for winning an ARC for Blame it on Texas!  Contact me at Christie (at) Christie-Craig (dot) com to claim your prize.

A Fairytale, a Family Tradition, a Little Innocent Potty Humor, and a Three Year Old’s Laughter

Contest!  Contest!  Today, I’m giving away my first ARC to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

In a land far, far away, Prince Aa-choo searched for his princess, the love of his life.  Oh, how he longed to find that beautiful maiden who could laugh with him and who could love him in spite of his one BIG flaw— his frequent and extremely loud sneezes—sneezes so loud, the rest of the kingdom would run for cover, certain the sky would be falling soon.  Oh, he tried to keep the noise level of his sneezes down, but the need to sneeze would come on so fast, that he had no time to think of trying to quiet the noise.  Why, he barely had time to cover his nose.  Having a tissue in hands at all time was a must.

Prince Aa-choo met many beautiful maidens in his search for true love.  But after one sneeze too many, each girl would run from the castle complaining that his sneezes were downright frightening to hear and too much to bare.  It was almost enough to break the prince's heart.

Then after months of searching, of being lonely, he heard a wizard telling a story of a poor maiden in a land many miles from his kingdom.  What really intrigued Prince Aa-choos was that this maiden had been cursed with the inability to sneeze.   Oh, the inside of her nose would tickle and she could feel the sneeze at the tip of her nose, but then she just couldn’t follow through. 

Instantly, the prince had a thought.  What better person to understand his flaw than a princess who longed to sneeze?  So he packed his bags, readied his carriage, and off he went to find his sneeze-less maiden, whom he was certain would become his princess bride. 

After long days of traveling, he came upon her village.  It was late, but the prince could not wait until morning.  So he quietly climbed the tower to her room where she slept.  He walked over to her bed and gazed down at her. She was so beautiful he feared she could never love a sneezing man like himself.  But without thinking he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to her cheek.  The collar of his shirt was covered in fur, and as he kissed her, the fur brushed across the end of her nose, and she drew in a big breath and then . . . and then she did the impossible.  She sneezed.  What's more, she sneezed all over the prince!  Covered him in boogers.

She woke up, startled by the prince’s presence in her chambers, but so happy that she had actually sneezed, she hugged him, and when she did, she sneezed again.  Then the prince sneezed and it was so loud it shook the walls of her tower.   They both started laughing.  They lived happily ever after and had children who could always sneeze.  And could sneeze as loud as they needed to.

The End.

Okay…I know that was a stretch from my regular blogs, but you see, hubby and I had our three-year-old granddaughter staying with us this weekend.  And my granddaughter, knowing her grandmother is a storyteller, is always saying, “Mawmaw, tell me a story.  Please, just one more.” 

Funny thing is, I may be the first published writer in my family, but being from Alabama, part of that Southern culture and my heritage involves storytelling.  Oh, the stories my family would tell around the kitchen table.  I can still remember asking my grandfather to tell me about the mean rooster he accidentally killed with his sling shot. 

Part of me, when I’m telling crazy stories—stories that instill laughter from my fairytale-loving granddaughter—knows that I’m carrying on a family tradition.  One that I’m sure began even before my grandfather started talking about mean roosters.   

Oh, I know the story of Prince Aa-Choo may not be one of my best works, but you see, Pawpaw, my hubby, is a champion loud sneezer.  When his granddaughter heard him sneeze while he was downstairs, and she was upstairs, she found it very humorous.   And then that evening, when the Little Wonder insisted grandma tell her a story. . .  Well, the story of Prince Aa-Choo just came into being.

And no matter how silly it was, that Little Wonder laughed with delight at my story.  Her love of princesses, her love of grandpa and his loud, thunderous sneezes, and her inherited love of potty humor from her grandma, all came together in one story.  And I have a feeling that someday down the line, she’ll look at her own granddaughter and start a story that begins, “In a land far, far way . . .”

So, now you know what I did this weekend.  What did you guys do?  Any stories or fairytales to tell?  And today, in honor of my next release, Blame it on Texas, a story that has love, laughter, and a little potty humor, I’m giving away my first ARC.  So make sure you leave a comment.

Mawmaw . . . Or AKA, Crime Scene Christie


Monday, May 21, 2012

When One Chapter Ends, Another Begins by Diane Kelly

My daughter will graduate from high school in two weeks.  She had her last dance recital over the weekend, and I teared up when she completed the last step of her last dance. But when I saw her crying afterward I knew I had to be strong for her, so I did my best not to break down right along with her.  The show marked the end of a dozen years of dance practices and recitals, of colorful costumes, stage makeup, new routines and songs, and a never-ending supply of ballet, tap, and jazz shoes as her feet grew. Our entire social calendar revolved around her dance schedule, and I spent hundreds of hours at competitions and shows.  I enjoyed every second of it and would gladly do it all over again.  

She’ll be heading off to college in a few months.  She’ll miss the girls on her dance team, her dance instructors, and the competitions and recitals. She’ll miss goofing around with her friends.  She’ll miss having Mom and Dad at her beck and call should she need her tights washed, something picked up from the store, or advice on how to handle the curve balls life can sometimes throw.  I’ll miss shopping with her, going out for sushi together, having random discussions about the ironies of life. I'll miss our weekday morning routine of watching the preceding night's sitcoms on our ancient VCR as we sit side-by-side on the kitchen stools, me with my coffee and her with a bowl of cereal.

This summer will be a transition for all of us, one chapter of our lives ending and a new one beginning. Though I’m sad that the current chapter is coming to an end, I’m excited about what the new chapter will bring and am trying to focus on the positives.  With my daughter gone, our laundry will be cut by 90%.  My husband and son are happy to eat anything, so I won’t have to put as much thought into grocery shopping and cooking.  I’ll get to go visit my daughter down in Austin, which is a heck of a fun place. 

How well do you deal with change?  Were there chapters in your life you were sad to see end?  Were there ones you were happy were over?  Have you been surprised how easy or difficult certain changes in life have been?  Do you have any advice for making these types of transitions easier?  Please share!

Look for Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray, book #3 in Diane's Death and Taxes series, coming June 26th!  Book #1, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, is only $2.99 in electronic format for a limited time. What a deal!

Friday, May 18, 2012

World Building on Earth with Chaeya

Please welcome a good friend and fabulous guest author Chaeya! 

She'll be giving away one free ebook copy and one free print copy of her latest release, Srae Iss-Ka-Mala, to two lucky commenters, so leave a comment to enter to win!

Most people hear the term "world-building" and they immediately think of other planets or dimensions. However, you don't have to be a fantasy or sci-fi buff to appreciate the art of world-building right here in third dimensional, planet Earth.

World-building occurs in every story regardless of the genre because it not only creates the setting and backdrop for your story, but it can also be used as a tool to further describe your characters. As people, we are all walking universes unto ourselves. Our world involves the city we live in, our workplace, the street our homes are located, and our home itself. Imagine your favorite movie and how the setting can seem almost a fantasy contained in its own world. Movies set in small towns have a knack of doing just this, and can sometimes seem the only place existing on Earth.

What we can learn from these movies is how authors can utilize the following elements to imbue more life into your stories and characters. A writer can relay much of the characters' personalities just by how they are placed in the scenery. So, in essence, building an effective world can participate in character development, resulting in less telling and more showing.

The City. I know we have continents, countries, and states, but to make it less complicated, I'll focus on cities. The city where your story takes place is the universe of your story. It is the cosmos of all those walking stars that populate it. Whether it be a small town or big city, the description will create the backdrop of your story. For instance, if you want a dark setting, you'd want to focus on the color gray and the mass of concrete, etc. If it's winter, you could describe the grit-covered snow in the gutters and parks filled with pale grass and leafless trees. Perhaps people pass by one another facing forward and not interacting. When they bump into someone, they don't pardon themselves. This sounds like a real hospitable place, doesn't it? NOT.

The Workplace and The Home. I would call a job or home the galaxy of your story, depending upon how much they feature in the setting and plot. Work tends to be a more popular setting than home. You can tell a lot about a character or characters simply from the d├ęcor of their office. I've worked in the corporate world for over 25 years, and I've been in many different types of offices. Is it a small dump filled with second-hand office furniture two decades late? This sounds like the firm is either cheap, or running on a shoestring budget. To describe a character's office as having rich, cherry wood panels, a big executive desk, and a wall filled with awards and degrees might portray a man as being successful, intelligent, and maybe a bit arrogant. One of the attorneys I work for has a row of little wind-up toys on his desk, signifying his playful nature; while another has a paper pile two feet deep on his desk and the floor surrounding it. He also has a sign taped to the wall for the cleaning crew that reads: Don't touch my mess! Everything I've written here can be used to describe a character's home, and applied in the same fashion.

Your Characters. Not many people mention characters as part of world-building, but they are an essential part of it. They are the suns, the planets, and the moons in your galaxy and your universe. Everything they wear, what they see, and how they interact with things and people around them participates in creating and completing the world you see that you wish to bring across to your readers. How does your heroine walk down the city's street? Does she look around at what's going on about her, or does she look down when she walks? If she looks down and walks slow, maybe she's depressed, or maybe she's an oddball who likes to see if she can find loose change on the ground. Does she fall in line with everyone else walking around her, or does she hang in the back, away from everyone else? These things can show the reader more about your characters' personalities.

It's true that people don't want to be bogged down with too much detail; however, all you need are a few sentences to get your point across. I’m sure many of you as writers know all of these elements and how to employ them; I only wish to give you another way of looking at world-building and some tricks on how to apply them to areas where you are challenged. By changing the way I looked at world-building and how to apply it to my own writing, I was able to be more patient in areas I wasn’t too fond of working on, such as time, place, and setting. It also allows me to plot better, when I decide to work on my universe or galaxy. However, let’s not forget the most important feature of world-building and that is: have fun.

Chaeya is a storyteller, songwriter, musician, poet, and all around daydream believer. When she isn't being domestic with her husband and two daughters, she fancies herself the Empress of Ev*A*Dream as the leader of the band "Chaeya and Her Dark Secret." She performs often around Southern California.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reconnecting With a Former Life

This past weekend I had an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and I took 2/3 of my triplets along for kicks. A family friend was being sworn into the National Guard so we drove up to the National base at Camp Dodge in Des Moines to witness the proud moment.

I also had an ulterior motive. You see, I attended the Iowa Department of Public Safety Academy at Camp Dodge when I became a Iowa State Trooper. I'd never had the opportunity to take the kids to see where I went through my peace officer training way back when. You know. Brag a little bit. Show the offspring where I lived, where I ran in formation, (where I puked out of formation), where the obstacle course was located (the one with the wall from hell you had to get over in order to complete training, etc.) So we took some time to wander around and after I pointed out the landmarks associated with fourteen weeks of sheer unadulterated fear and profound discomfort, we found ourselves in the Gold Star Museum which houses, among tons of military artifacts and weaponry, a room dedicated to the men and women of the Iowa State Patrol.

Okay, so I don't remember any female troopers as tall as the one pictured with yours truly above, and my hair sure wasn't anywhere near this short, but I certainly remember wearing that uniform--and wearing it  proudly.

Often when we go back and revisit places that had a profound impact in our lives we go through "what if" moments:  What if I'd stayed on the patrol until I retired? What would my life have been like? Would my life have been better? Worse? Or maybe just.. different?

From the patrol I went to the Iowa Department of Justice and became a consumer fraud investigator. From there, I became the mother of triplets. And author. An author who has an awfully good time writing about horses and whodunnits, cowgirls, cops, and crime.

What's one of your most touching "memory lane moments"? What, if anything did you learn by looking back? 

Me? I learned that once a trooper always a trooper--in some form or another at least.

I still work in a related field. And I'm still proud as can be that I was--once upon a time--a brown shirt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Zone

So yesterday I had the coolest writing session - I basically forgot about everything but the story for hours. It doesn't always happen that way, to get in the zone, and it was a lot of fun. And it started me thinking about my brother and how when he runs, he gets into that same kind of rhythm, where you forget were you are and just focus on the moment. It's a neat place to be.

I only wish I could do it while running. My latest attempts at getting ready for the Run for Your Lives Zombie 5k basically consist of me, half-bent over and panting after the first mile, then making deals with myself to finish the next half-mile, then walking the rest. Afterward, I complain to my husband and tell him how hard it is and he tells me how he ran five miles every morning when he was in the army.

Show off.

But I do hear that with dedication, practice and love (that last one will never happen with me on a track), it is possible to find a running zone. Maybe some day it will all click. In the mean time, I'll stick to writing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Emptying the Nest...

By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

Last weekend my son, Tony went to his Senior Prom. I was at Starbucks working with my critique partners at Starbucks when my husband and one of our daughters joined us to meet up with my son and his date so I could see them and take pictures before they left for dinner and the prom.

Tony’s date looked beautiful, and my son looked so handsome and grown up, it almost made me cry. We waved goodbye to the kids and my husband took out his phone and started scrolling through Tony’s baby pictures he’d recently downloaded. Tony is almost nineteen and when I saw the pictures of him at a day old, I couldn’t believe he’d grown up so fast. I remembered when people would tell me he’d be grown and gone in a blink-of-an-eye. I didn’t believe it, but it’s true. How did that happen? Tony will graduate high school next month, and in early August we’ll make the trip from Maryland to Boise, Idaho where he’s going to college at Boise State. Go Broncos! Knowing Tony, except for a few holiday visits, he’ll never be back—not really.

I feel as if I’m living in a whirlwind and the summer that has yet to begin is already flying by. Between my writing deadlines—revisions, a graduation party to plan with family coming in from out-of-town, a book due a month from today, planning a family cross-country trip/vacation to Boise, and the thought of my oldest living 2,800 miles away from home, I’ve been feeling as grounded as a fart in the wind. There is too much to do, too much to plan, too much to worry about, and too much to savor before it ends.

I never thought I’d be one of those women with empty nest syndrome. I’d swear I’d be that mom on the commercial who tearfully waves her kid goodbye, goes back into the house, and is dancing for joy and redecorating his bedroom within minutes. Now I’m beginning to wonder. I guess it’s a good thing I still have two hormonal teenage girls to drop kick out of the nest. After dealing with them for the next three years, by the time my youngest goes, I’m sure my husband and I will be doing the Macarena and packing for a trip to somewhere spectacular just in case they decide to come back!

How about you? If you’ve already launched your children, was it difficult? And if you haven’t, how do you think you’ll react when it’s time to cut the apron strings? Any advice, words of comfort, encouragement?