Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky and sparkly

Happy Halloween! This past week, our house has been  a costumer's dream (or nightmare, depending on how organized you like things). Right now, we have a red sparkly devil's fork drying on newspaper by the kitchen sink (who says devil girls can't sparkle?). We have a pair of red glitter shoes hiding in my office (otherwise, they wouldn't make it until the big day). Oh and three shrunken heads over by the apple bowl. Those are for my son, the voodoo ninja.

I blame my father. He was an artist and loved Halloween. Store bought costumes had no place in his house. Instead, we'd decide what we wanted to be, and then we'd make it. My brother and his friends went as a rock band one year - complete with custom-made instruments created from basement odds-and-ends. I was a robot, a wizard and then a "mom" about three times in a row when I realized that dressing my dog as my "baby" and taking him around was worth double the candy.

The best costume had to be the year my mom joked and said she wanted to go out for Halloween in a canoe. My dad built a canoe for two, with built-in beer holders. How's that for romance?

So now we're carrying on the tradition in our house. My normally GQ husband is going as KISS rocker Gene Simmons, and I'll be a biker witch, complete with a biker dog (our poodle, Moxie).

Oh and the winner of my last giveaway, a copy of My Zombie Valentine, is Reneec23! Drop me a line at angie@ angie and I'll mail that book out to you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preparing For Frankenstorm

By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

I’m no stranger to bad weather. Hell, I spent over ten years living in Florida and lived through countless tornados and hurricanes. I rode out a hurricane on Long Island—I think it might have been Gloria. We were in the Hamptons and then moved inland when we were evacuated. The house on the ocean was fine but the roof of the hotel we stayed in blew off.

In Maryland we’ve been through blizzards (several), ice storms, hurricane Irene, and spent many weeks becoming one with our generator (as well as becoming good friends with our neighbors without power). I’ve shopped before storms—I’ve seen Costco with empty shelves, witnessed fist-fights over batteries, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that can compare with the insanity of the people readying themselves for Frankenstorm. I swear there’s not a gallon of milk, water, or a roll of toilet paper to be had in the tri-state area. My friend who works at a liquor store told me they did more business on Saturday than they usually did the Saturday before New Year’s. I guess if you have to be stuck in a house without power, it’s good to have booze.

If you’re wondering what I do to prepare for the storm of the century, I’d have to say, not much other than cook. What else are you going to do when you have two teenagers under the same roof and just enough power to run the microwave and the freezer except eat? Now, if we didn’t have the teenagers, I’m sure my husband and I would find plenty to do—which, come to think of it, is probably why we have teenagers. <grin>

So yesterday I made slow-cooked chicken with lentils for dinner and then I turned the leftovers into soup. I got up early this morning and, while my husband moved our wicker porch furniture into the shed and made sure the generator was in working order, I threw together a 20-quart pot of spaghetti sauce with sausage and meatballs before going to my critique meeting. See, I do plan ahead. I even thought to put the blog up early, just in case we’re without internet access tomorrow. So, if you don’t see me comment on the blog, know I’m hunkered down riding out the storm of the century and will come out of it just fine, though I’ll probably gain a few pounds.

So, what do you do to get ready for storms? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Day Has Arrived

I always dreamed of the day but never really thought it would happen. But it has.


I've resigned from my day job and starting next Monday, will be a full-time fiction author.

It has taken 10 years, thousands of hours, lots of shortened holidays, lost weekends, no vacations and limited time for friends and family, but all that hard work will finally pay off.

I can't be more excited. I have so many ideas that I haven't had the time to work on. Not that you can write fiction for 10 hours a day, but still. No more getting dressed for the office. No more commuting through 50 school zones with 20 bored cops. No more office politics.

It's a dream come true.

So what about you? Do you have a dream? If you weren't slaving away for "the man" or wiping noses and bottoms, what would you want to be doing?

And for all our friends on the east coast, please keep safe!!!!!!

Deadly (Dreamin') DeLeon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Red State, Blue State

With the election only 11 days away, you can't escape the constant barrage of commercials, robocalls, and signage. Obviously the entire country is voting in the presidential and House elections, and some states also have a Senator to vote for. And maybe you even have state legislators and municipal elections thrown in there at the same time.

If your town looks anything like mine, the streets are decorated with red and blue campaign posters. (And yellow and green -- Virginia state law forbids printing party affiliation on the ballot for local elections. With so many federal employees living in the DC area -- who are not allowed to affiliate publicly with a particular party for fear of violating the Hatch Act -- you'd never have enough people for City Council or the school board if you were limited to Dem or Repub.)

But this post isn't about who to vote for. No way. It's about dating.

I've always wondered how a couple could survive if they're on two different sides of the battle lines at this time of year. My friend Laurie is a Jewish northeastern a Southern Baptist conservative Republican. This is their second presidential election together, so it obviously hasn't ruined the relationship yet. And don't forget Mary Matalin and James Carville.

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's wife has moved to the right over the twelve years they've been married, but she was a rising star Democratic lobbyist from a prominent Oklahoma political family when she first started dating the brand-new Republican Congressman. (If I recall correctly, they met at the gym.)

To me, this is fascinating. But I could never imagine experiencing it myself.

Heck, the only time I ever dated someone who was my polar opposite politically, it ended badly. I knew he and I didn't see eye to eye on most political issues as soon as I heard what Senator he worked for. But I still agreed to go out with him because he was hot. (Hey, I was 22...)

I suppose in retrospect I didn't bother to tell him outright my political philosophy. It didn't seem applicable at the time. But I guess he must have figured it out through conversations, because he stood me up on our very next date. He called me up and told me that the Marine Corps Ball (his boss was on the Armed Services Committee, so he got tickets) had been cancelled.

I was already dressed in my brand new floor-length gown, and was in the process of doing a twist to my hair.

Really? Cancelled? Dude, grow a pair and just tell me you don't want to see me anymore.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Good Ol' Days

A few hours ago the fabulous Timoria McQueen contacted me via Twitter. I met Timoria at the launch party for my second novel, Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights. It was June 2006 and my party was at The Star Room in the Hamptons. The whole thing was paid for by my publisher and planned by the publicist contracted by them on my behalf. A month before my event Eminem had a party at the same club. Timoria was hired to do women's make-up at the party. At the time she was the National Make-Up artist for Shu Uemura but she's also a fixture at New York Fashion Week and she frequently does the make-up featured in the layouts of Elle, InStyle and so on. She was a great "get."
But to be honest I had mixed feelings about the party. Sure, every girl likes the idea of being the Belle Of The Ball but I couldn't figure out how this was going to help me sell books. The publicist assured me that the party would lead to great press. They would make sure there were celebrities in attendance, it would make the gossip magazines, I would be a star and then everyone would be flocking to buy the new Sophie Katz novel from the woman they saw in the pages of OK!.

I didn't buy it. If Eminem and other people of comparable fame were having parties at this club why wouldn't the Paparazzi be covering those events. They didn't need to cover the party of a little known author. If people did know about me it was because of Susan Schwartzman, the woman I hired (with my own money) to do the publicity for my first novel, Sex, Murder And A Double Latte. Susan had gotten me into Cosmo, The New York Times, The Washington Post, regional television shows across the country, the list goes on and on.  In fact she had done such a good job I had assumed that my publisher would contract her to do the publicity for my second book but because of some "in-house" politics that didn't happen. So I hired Susan to essentially supplement what the publisher-hired-publicist was doing. But I only gave Susan a small stipened. It just didn't seem pragmatic to have two publicists doing two full blown campaigns. Plus I had heard (off the record...oops) that my publisher had contributed less to the campaign for my first book because I had hired a publicist for myself. I essentially saved them money by taking initiative. So I put away my checkbook and put my faith in this new publicity strategy. These people were professionals, they had to know what they were doing.

But they didn't. I have no doubt that the woman contracted by my publisher is a fantastic publicist. She knew how to boost celebrity profiles and she knew how to pimp the hell out of fashion designers, she just didn't know how to market books. My publisher spent close to thirty thousand dollars on that campaign, the majority of that money went into that party. When I got to The Hamptons and got a better idea of what was going on I began to get a little panicky. I knew I had to build on the success of my first novel and I could see that what was planned wasn't going to do that. My only hope was that A) the fantastic reviews my second book was getting would generate buzz and B) my editor, who told me flat out she saw the problem, would be able to fix things. Unfortunately by the time she was given more input into author publicity it was too late for my campaign to be redirected and the fall out of bad book publicity is low book sales and nothing protects an author from that. But that was all information I got in the days and months after my launch party. Before my launch party all I really knew was that my publisher was showering me with attention, they were throwing me a party in the Hamptons and that meant something even if the party didn't serve the purpose it was supposed to serve.

So I shelved any budding feelings of panic and went to The Star Room in a dress loaned to me by the renowned designer, Shoshanna. My editor was by my side listening to my every concern, my publicist was making sure I was red-carpet ready and they led me to Timoria who did my make-up and introduced me to the fabulousness of false eyelashes. It was in that moment, while I was wearing the designer loaner, being done up by a nationally renowned make-up artist, surrounded by my readers and others in a club fashioned for the stars that I completely gave into the glamour of it all. So what if the campaign was somewhat ill conceived?  So what if I wasn't yet on the NY Times bestsellers list? I was clearly going places! 

In the end I fully enjoyed that night and I'm so glad I did because otherwise it would have been a bit of a waste of time. The party wasn't even featured in a local paper, let alone a national tabloid. The new book got very little press. Despite the superior reviews Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights didn't sell as well as Sex, Murder And Double Latte and that led to smaller orders from bookstores for my third book (which my publisher didn't do any publicity for at all).

When Timoria contacted me I was immediately swarmed with fond memories...and then I felt incredibly sad because they are memories. It's ridiculous to feel sorry for yourself just because no one is throwing you parties in the Hamptons anymore and it probably wouldn't bother me at all if I wasn't struggling financially at the moment. It was just a oh-how-the-mighty-have-fallen kind of melancholy and I allowed myself to indulge the fear that my career is and will continue to move in the wrong direction.

And then I listened to some P!NK and some Macklemore and danced around my bedroom a bit to snap myself out of it (yeah, I do that) and I thought, If I've fallen then why can't I just pick myself back up? My books aren't selling as well as my first novel did but they are selling. I still have my fan base, I have a contract with Simon & Schuster for an erotica trilogy, I'm a member of the WGA (Writer's Guild Of America, the union for television and film writers). I've had meetings with top TV executives, I sold a pilot script to Lifetime...I mean, any of those things could lead to even better days...maybe better years, years so good that I might even have enough money to pay for my son's ridiculously expensive tuition without living off of rice and beans. And there is no reason to feel like my future can't be sprinkled with the occasional moments of glamour.

Oh, and if I do have another red-carpet party thrown in my honor you better believe that I'll be running to Timoria asking her to do my make-up. I really did love my glamour lashes.

Bestselling Author of: 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

By The Power of Grayskull! A Blast from the Past - October 2008

(I decided that, in honor of Halloween, I'd revive my favorite Halloween blog here at KF.  Your welcome.)
So what did I end up going as? Well, I was pretty sure I couldn't pull off Jennifer Beals. But just before the party I had a flash of inspiration. I went as a 42-year old, disgruntled Strawberry Shortcake. Here I am in costume with my friend Michele, who went as a Ghostbuster. Don't I look disgruntled? Doesn't she look adorable with a vacuum hose in her son's backpack?

It was great. I had a whole backstory and everything. Basically, in the late '80's I was down-sized due to a three-rock a day crack habit and a scandal at Studio 34 involving 3 circus clowns, a gallon of everclear and a bicycle lock. 
I married He-Man in the early '90's and divorced him (mainly because Mr. Assassin refused to go as a middle-aged, disgruntled He-Man) in the late '90's because I got sick of hearing "By the power of Greyskull" by the so-called "Master of the Universe" in bed - all the time. Well, that and he was cheating on me with Jem AND the Holograms (those whores).

I kicked drugs shortly after and am now just your average, garden-variety alcoholic. I hate the smell of strawberry, which sucks because my hair smells like that all the time, no matter what I do. These days I work a few kids parties and as an occaisional "escort" just to keep vodka on the table.

By the way, my friends thought it was weird that I had a developed back-story. Non-writers, eh?

(This was my editor's favorite blog of mine.  Hope you enjoyed it!)
The Assassin 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boo! Kylie and Jillian Talk Ghosts . . . and Bras

CONTEST!  CONTEST!  Giving away six books today . . . stay tuned for details!

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I’d introduce you to Susan Muller, her heroine Jillian Whitmeyer, and Jillian’s dead sister, Heather.  Yeah, I said dead.  Actually, we’ve written up a short piece that involves Susan’s characters and a few of my Shadow Falls characters, both live and dead.

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

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

Shadow Falls Camp is back in session with the most explosive installment yet.  A shocking new threat will rock Shadow Falls—changing it forever and altering Kylie’s journey in ways she never imagined.

Even at a camp for supernatural teens, Kylie Galen has never been normal. Not only can she see ghosts, but she doesn’t seem to belong to any one species—she exhibits traits from them all. As Kylie struggles to unlock the secrets of her identity, she begins to worry that Lucas will never be able to accept her for what she is, and what she isn’t…a werewolf.  With his pack standing in their way, Kylie finds herself turning more and more to Derek, the only person in her life who’s willing to accept the impossible.

As if life isn’t hard enough, she starts getting visits from the ghost of Holiday, her closest confidante.  Trouble is, Holiday isn’t dead…not yet anyway.  Now Kylie must race to save one of her own from an unseen danger before it’s too late—all while trying to stop her relationship with Lucas from slipping away forever.   In a world of constant confusion, there’s only one thing Kylie knows for sure.  Change is inevitable and all things must come to an end…maybe even her time at Shadow Falls.

Kylie Galen bumps into Jillian Whitmeyer for a discussion of all things dead.  Well, not all things, just people - ghosts.   

Kylie Galen stared down at the size C bra she held, studied the silky lacy pattern, eyed the hook on the front.  Stared really hard.   Ever since her boobs miraculously grew—from a B to a C cup, overnight mind you, Kylie hadn’t replenished her underwear collection.    
However, to be completely honest, her fascination with the bra wasn’t about the bra.  She stared at the undergarment so she wouldn’t have to stare at the woman standing in front of her waving a gun around and pointing it at the heads of the other women in the store line.
Kylie would simply prefer to fake interest in the bra rather than let the woman, the dead woman, that is, know that she could see her.  Normally, she didn’t ignore ghosts.  Being a ghost whisperer pretty much meant it was her job to take care of them.  However, this ghost wasn’t here for Kylie.  She appeared to be with the woman standing in front of her in line. Through her eyelashes, Kylie studied the tall, spiky-haired brunette with the hint of a tattoo peeking out from her tank top.  The fact that the woman did an in depth inspection of the bra she held in her hand as well told Kylie that the brunette could see the ghost, too.  
Suddenly, the spirit turned and pointed the gun, which looked like something from an old WWII movie, right at Kylie’s forehead. All her faked interest in the bra stopped and she looked up.  There was just something about having a gun pointed at you that couldn’t be ignored.  
“Stop it,” the spiked hair woman hissed and glared at the ghost. 
 The spirit shot a smile full of malice at the woman then gaped at Kylie.  “Shit…you can see me, can’t you?”  She glanced back at the woman again.  “Hey…she can see me.  How cool is that?”
Kylie didn’t wait for her answer.  “Not so cool.” She walked away and re-shelved the bra.  She’d buy underwear later.  Obviously her presence was aggravating the ghost.  She got about ten feet from the store when she heard footsteps chasing after her.  She turned to find the spiked-haired woman running toward her.   Kylie automatically did what all supernaturals did.  She tightened her eyes and studied the woman’s brain pattern to see what she was.  There were all sorts of species living on earth, from vampires to witches.  To whatever the hell Kylie was.  Yup, she was a mystery to even the supernatural world.  Much to Kylie’s surprise the woman’s pattern showed her to be human.   Very few normals could see ghosts.  What was up with that?
“Can I talk to you?” the spiked-haired woman asked.
Kylie frowned.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to this woman, but face it, the conversation was gonna be one of those weird ones.  Weird as in – ‘Hey, did you see that ghost?’
It wasn’t a conversation Kylie looked forward to having. 
“Just a few minutes.  I’ll buy you a soda.”  The woman pointed to a diner across the street.  “I’m desperate.”
Crap!  Desperate people always got to Kylie.

*  *  *

Jillian Whitmeyer walked inside the diner that smelled like apple pie and studied the young girl.  She didn’t know her from Adam, didn’t have a clue what to say, but the fact that she could see Heather freaked her out.
“How about a piece of that pie that smells so good?” Jillian still didn’t know how to start this conversation, but teenagers were always hungry, weren’t they?
“A soda will be fine. I really need to get back.” The girl kept her head down, avoiding eye contact with Heather, who had grabbed a chair and joined them.
A waitress took their order and returned with two diet sodas before Jillian had time to plan the best way to approach the girl. She looked about sixteen, but her eyes said that she’d seen more than she should have.
“I’m Jillian and this is Heather.” Heather had changed from the low-cut, sequined cocktail dress and Jimmy Choo’s she wore in the lingerie shop into capris and jeweled sandals. Her idea of appropriate diner duds?
“Kylie,” the girl mumbled. “You know your ghost’s name?”
“Well, sure. She’s my sister. When you see ghosts, you don’t know who they are?”  Jillian took a chance with that question. If Kylie saw Heather, she probably saw other ghosts, too.
“No. They usually don’t remember their names. That makes it tough to solve their problems for them. Take the one over there,” Kylie nodded toward the back of the diner. “She’s really a pain in the ass.”
Jillian spun around and caught sight of a woman in a bloody dress, dragging a sword. No wonder the girl looked frightened. Jillian was pretty darn frightened herself. Could that sword actually harm someone? Someone living?
Kylie’s ghost swung the sword in a figure eight and drops of blood flew across the room, landing on Heather’s capris.
Heather jumped up, knocking her chair back. “That’s it. I was willing to overlook your obvious bad fashion sense, but now you’ve ruined my outfit and I have no intention of letting that slide.”
“What are you going to do?” Jillian whispered to Heather.
“Take her outside and teach her some manners.” Heather grabbed the other ghost’s arm and pulled her through the diner as if to take her to the back alley.
“Oh, good,” said Kylie’s ghost.  “I’ve been dying to use my sword on someone again.”
Jillian looked at Kylie.  “Should we do something?”
Kylie shrugged.  “What are they going to do?  Kill each other?  They’re already dead.”  Kylie sighed. “Is your sister always that mad? She had a gun in the store. What was that all about?”
“A lady walked through her and cut in line ahead of us. She doesn’t like to be disrespected.”  Jillian paused and then jumped right in. “You said ghosts ask you to solve their problems.  What does this one want you to do?” The more she could learn about handling ghosts, the better. And Kylie seemed to have experience.
“For me to kill someone.”
Jillian nearly choked on her soda.  “You’re not going to do it, are you?”
“I hope not.”  Kylie finished her soda and swirled the ice cubes. “But sometimes ghosts have a way of getting what they want.” 
“I know what you mean,” Jillian said.
Kylie frowned.  “What does Heather want?”
“Just my body. She wants to live my life for me because she doesn’t think I’m doing that great a job with it.” Jillian realized that Heather might be on the right track with that one.  She really wasn’t doing so hot these days.
“That sounds like a bummer. What would happen to you?”
“I have no idea, but I don’t intend to find out. I mean, would you trust her?” Her sister had made her life miserable for years, but now she was trying to hurt a cop.  More specifically, the really hot homicide detective Jillian really liked.
Kylie glanced at the back door. “Probably not. They’re not all nice, you know. Ghosts, I mean. I don’t know about your sister.” She looked back at Jillian.  “What do you plan to do?”
“I plan to get rid of her, just as soon as I figure out how,” she whispered, hoping Heather was too busy fighting in the alley to be listening.
“That’s sort of my plan, too,” Kylie said. “But while they’re busy, why don’t we run back across the street and buy those bras?”


Want to learn how Kylie and Jillian get rid of their pesky spirits and discover why both of them were buying sexy bras?   Read The Secrets on Forest Bend by Susan Muller and Whispers at Moonrise by C.C. Hunter, AKA Christie Craig

And to celebrate Halloween, three people will receive copies of both Whispers at Moonrise and The Secrets on Forest today.  So leave me a comment telling me about your plans on Halloween or, tell me if you believe in ghosts – if you dare!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

NOW THAT'S SCARY! by Diane Kelly

With Halloween on the horizon, our minds turn to scary things. Ghosts. Ghoblins. Running out of candy with a half dozen teenagers at the door wielding toilet paper and eggs.  Eeek!

As a girl, I was terrified by a poem in a creepy book my older sister owned.  A line in the poem read “Something lurks upon the stair, something that is – and isn’t – there.”  The idea of something bordering two worlds gave me the heebie jeebies! At a slumber party in 3rd grade one of my friends told a “true story” featuring a moth-man that landed on top of a moving car and peeked in through the windshield at the teenagers inside. That story scared me so much I had to leave the party and was deemed a wimp forever after. I was also frightened by a Starsky and Hutch episode in which a murderer killed a dancer. I was taking ballet lessons at the time and was sure I’d be the next victim.

As a teenager, I went through a horror movie phase and also read everything Stephen King had out at the time.  I then started college and realized that finals, dormitory food, and dating college boys were far more frightening than anything in a movie or book.

As an adult, I saw The Blair Witch Project and it scared the crap out of me! I woke up in the middle of the night and realized the ceiling fan hanging over my bed looked like those creepy things the kids in the movie found around their campsites. I had a hard time going back to sleep!

Not long ago I went to Marfa, Texas, a place known for its “Mystery Lights” that occasionally appear out of nowhere in the desert. Nobody has been able to determine their origin or predict their appearance. Though the lights didn’t appear the night I was there, I experienced a sudden and inexplicable sense of terror as we drove by the old jailhouse on the town square.  It felt as if a cinder block had been placed on my chest. That’s the one and only time I’ve had an experience like that. Were my nerves just on edge due to the mystical environment? Or was there more to it?

What scares you? Have you had any weird experiences that could not be explained?

Keep the scary things at bay with fresh laughs just in time for Halloween!  DEATH, TAXES, AND A SEQUINED CLUTCH, Diane Kelly’s first electronic-exclusive novella, releases on Oct. 30th for the low price of just $1.99!  Read an excerpt at: Excerpt

The book is available for pre-order now at:  

Barnes and Noble Nook Book 

Amazon Kindle