Friday, May 31, 2013

How do you know you're a writer?

You might be a writer if:

…your internet search history would probably raise a red flag at the FBI.

…you go to the store specifically to take advantage of a sale on spiral notebooks.

…you buy printer paper by the case for your home.

…you don’t send out an e-mail until you’ve edited it. Twice.

…you don’t consider the phrase ‘good rejection’ to be an oxymoron.

Your turn.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do You Have a Green Thumb?

It's Water a Flower Day.  Do you have a green thumb or do plants shrivel up and die at the sight of you?

CLARICE: I've always had a brown thumb, but my goal is to someday have a real garden. I started last year by planting green beans in a pot on the deck [I can't grow anything in the yard because we have ravenous squirrels and ground hogs around here]. I grew a nice but tiny crop of green beans and I was happy. This year I bought a little greenhouse and I'm going to try again. I won't give up until my thumb is completely green. PS: My favorite flower is lilac.

JB: I'm okay with plants, not great. I've been in mourning since Hurricane Sandy knocked out the power and heat to my place for a week. Some of my houseplants died and the ones that survived STILL aren't back to their fighting weight and it's been six months. :-(

I love dandelions (yeah, I know a weed, but you know Spring has arrived when they sprout up) carnations (the cinnamon-clove smell = nirvana) and sunflowers.

B.E.:  I've always loved plants.  Inside, outside - it doesn't matter to me.  And if I can encourage them to grow?  Even better.  Right now, I'm without inside plants.  Moving them 700 miles would've been tragic, so I gave my plants to a neighbor.  This new house is in the woods, so I'm not sure if I could make indoor plants work - not enough light.  But I have enough outside plants to make it all good.  I can't wait until next spring when I can really get the flower beds in.  =o)

I don't know if they're my favorite, but the one I hope I'll be able to fill the yard with are peonies.  I've missed having peonies ever since I moved out of my childhood home. 

Tell us Killer Friends: What's YOUR favorite flower?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From the publicist who introduced the world to Fifty Shades of Grey -- Plan a successful blog tour while keeping your sanity

A note from JB: 

I'm very excited to tell you about a new guide for writers from Donna Huber who runs Girl Who Reads Publicity

In today's publishing world, writers are expected to do it all, but to paraphrase Doctor McCoy from the old Star Trek series, "Dammit! I'm a writer, not a publicist!" That's where Donna's SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL BLOG TOUR comes in.

I've used Donna for my own book tours (I'm using her for one right now. Check it out and enter to win!) and I've always been impressed by her knowledge and professionalism. She's not only good at her job, but she's an enthusiastic reader.  Even if you don't need information on book tours right now, I recommend following her for thoughtful reviews and lots of helpful tips.

Plan a successful blog tour while keeping your sanity

From the publicist who introduced the world to Fifty Shades of Grey, Donna Huber is now revealing her secrets to successful blog tours. She shares tips and tricks learned through organizing over 30 tours, blasts, and promotional events for nearly 50 independently and traditionally published titles.

Secrets revealed in this quick read include,

Planning stage decisions
Different types of tours
Recruiting bloggers and keeping requests organized
Best practice communication tips
Tricks to making a great guest appearance
How to organize a fun (and legal) giveaway
Actions to take during the tour
Next steps once the tour is complete
Virtual tour and other promotional opportunities
When to hire a professional

In this easy to follow manual, Donna does not stop there. She spills even more of her blog tour secrets to help authors get the most out of their events by providing,

Tour checklist
Tour invite tips
Step-by-step guide to creating tour graphics
10 broad guest post topics
25 sample interview questions

I highly recommend this book for authors about to release their first or their fiftieth book!
~Alison Deluca, author of the Crown Phoenix series

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads where, in addition to book reviews and author appearances, she writes the popular blogging advice series, Tips on Thursday. She has worked as a freelance publicist since 2010 assisting publishers and authors with their marketing and publicity needs. Most notably, she was the publicist for The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House edition of Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James.

When she is not doling out blogging advice or promoting the next bestseller, she can be found spending time with family (particularly the four legged, furry members), rewatching Downton Abbey and Harry Potter, or trying to make a dent in her never ending to-be-read pile.

Social Media Links:

Don't forget to check out my giveaway.  Details on Donna's blog!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Jaded in June

Book 6 of my Series officially releases on June 1st - but you can get it now!

Samantha Wilton never imagined she’d want to get serious about casual sex, but holding out for a commitment has gotten her nothing but long, lonely nights.

Aiden Cole has been looking for a woman who isn’t desperate to say ‘I do’, so when Sam agrees to be ‘friends with benefits’ he’s sure he’s found a soul mate.

Will their deepening attraction forge a match made in heaven or just complicate a no-strings-attached summer romance and leave them both longing for a love that will last forever?


Chapter One

“You may want to ask Dr. Croft about that drooling problem.” Gillian nudged Samantha as she walked by, nodding toward the lone patient sitting in the Veterinary Clinic’s waiting room.
Sam shook herself out of her daydream and transferred her gaze to her coworker. “Are you talking about the Basset Hound scheduled for four thirty?”
“No.” Gillian smirked and lowered her voice to a whisper. “I’m talking about you. You haven’t taken your eyes off Barkley’s dad since they walked in. I was about to get the mop so I’ll be ready when you melt into a puddle of goo.”
Cheeks flaming, Sam turned her attention back to her computer screen. The other receptionist was right. She had been a bit slack-jawed since Aiden Cole had come in with his Golden Retriever for the dog’s yearly check-up. Barkley was a gorgeous dog, but Aiden, broad-shouldered and athletic, with sun-streaked blond hair that didn’t quite match his darker eyebrows and intense green eyes the shade of summer mint, had her weak in the knees. She would have died before admitting she’d been lost in a naughty fantasy in which he had her pressed up against the wall and was running his strong, capable hands up and down her body. She needed a cup of cold water—preferably to pour over her head—but the watercooler was out in the waiting room, and she’d have to pass right by him to get a drink. “I’m perfectly solid, thank you.”
Gillian snickered. “I’m not judging. In fact, if I weren’t an old married lady, I’d be asking you to take this outside so we could settle our claim. He’s one hot property.”
“Gillian.” Sam hissed her co-worker’s name through clenched teeth, though she was secretly grateful the other woman was, in fact, happily married. She had no doubt there was plenty of competition for the attentions of Mr. Cole outside the Clinic. She wouldn’t want to have her office mate as a rival. Not that it mattered. At the moment, Aiden only had eyes for Barkley, who also stared at him adoringly, and for the television set playing in the waiting room to keep the human patients entertained while they waited for Dr. Croft.
“Go out there and talk to him,” Gillian whispered, holding a file folder in front of her face as a screen. “Tell him you’re available.”
“That’s unethical.”
Gillian rolled her eyes. “It’s only unethical if want to date the dog. I can’t understand why a pretty girl like you is so shy. If I looked like you…” Gillian sighed. At fifty-six she had the sweet, softened features of middle age, with laugh lines and a few strands of gray in her dark brown hair. “Well, I did once, and I used it to my advantage to snag a man. Get out there and make your move.”
Sam wanted nothing more than to go for it, but was it really proper to hit on a clinic patient? Okay, so it was a veterinary clinic. The human companions weren’t technically patients. And Dr. Croft didn’t have a no-fraternizing policy. She could just casually jot her phone number on Barkley’s bill when the visit was over. That seemed much safer and less…brazen.
“When we come back from the break, our next guest, Dr. Eliza Fraser, will be asking the question, can you make a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship work for you?”
Sam turned to glare at Gillian who had just turned up the volume on the television. “What have you got on out there?”
“It’s the talk show with that psychologist—you know, the guy who’s always asking people…oh, what’s his catchphrase? How’d that turn out? I love him. His next guest is a sex therapist who thinks it’s okay to have casual sex. She says it’s actually good for people. I have to hear this interview.”
Sam glanced at Aiden who hadn’t seemed to notice the change in volume. He was scratching Barkley’s ears, and the dog was yawning in that way dogs did when they were actually more nervous than tired. The goldie shivered a little, but be was behaving remarkably well, considering he was definitely smart enough to know he was in for a shot in the rump before the day was over.
Gathering her courage, Sam rose from her seat and headed into the waiting area. She snagged a sturdy canvas toy from a basket she kept under the counter, having found that agitated pets sometimes calmed down if they had something to chew on. Despite her wobbly knees, she strode over to Aiden and held out the toy. “Hey…Barkley looks a little anxious. Would he like something to play with while he waits?”
Those green eyes flicked upward to meet hers, and she could have sworn her heart stopped. Up close, with a five-o’clock shadow darkening his square jaw and his muscles bulging beneath a Spring River Valley Athletic Club T-shirt, he was devastating. “Thanks.” He reached for the toy, and his fingertips brushed hers. “He’s more of a wreck than usual today. I think he can’t wait to go outside and play.”
Barkley whined, pleading for attention with big brown eyes. She knelt down and buried her fingers in the dog’s mane-like fur. He bowed his head and wagged his wispy tail. “Well, he can keep that for later. We found that some of the bigger dogs have a much easier time if they have something to concentrate on.”
Aiden kept his gaze on Samantha’s. “I appreciate it. Sorry about all the shedding.”
She waved a hand. “They all do that when they’re nervous. Poor Barkley…you’re a good boy. You can go home soon.” The dog gave her his paw, and she dutifully shook it. “He’s a sweetheart.”
“And we’re back with Dr. Eliza Fraser who’s here to tell us why you need a friend with benefits relationship in your life. Dr. Fraser is the author of Getting Serious about Casual Sex—” Applause interrupted the host of the talk show, which Gillian must have turned up even louder because it seemed to echo in the small waiting room.
Sam gulped and glared over her shoulder at the screen. “I’m sorry about that. Gillian’s watching it.” She hoped the heat crawling up from the neckline of her scrubs shirt wouldn’t set fire to her clothes.
Aiden laughed, a deep, genuine sound. “Getting Serious about Casual Sex? Sounds like something a guy would write.”
“Yeah…” Sam couldn’t look at him. Were they really having this conversation in the clinic waiting room? Thank God there were no other patients on hand to witness her embarrassment. “I’ll tell her to turn it off.”
“No, that’s okay. I can’t say I don’t like the idea.”
She snuck a peek at his face while pretending to be very interested in Barkley’s left ear. “Ha. Typical guy opinion.” Oh God, there you go, Sam. Insult him.
“Yeah, but listen to her. She’s making some sense.”
Sam struggled to hear Dr. Fraser’s words over the pounding of her heart. The woman spoke with the conviction of someone whose opinions made her a lot of money. “We’ve been conditioned to think sex equals commitment, and generations ago, that was important because pregnancy was almost inevitable, so having an emotional connection with your partner meant you had a chance to create a lasting family. Now, things are different, and women can finally admit that sometimes they crave the physical release of sex without the emotional burdens.” Applause drowned out the doctor’s next sentence, and she sat with the show’s host, smiling politely while he tried to calm the audience reaction down to a dull roar.
“We really should turn this off,” Sam raised her voice so Gillian would hear, but her co-worker was busy with the last patient who was settling up his bill before leaving the office.
“So the idea of casual sex makes you uncomfortable?” Aiden asked. His expression was guarded, like maybe he was interested in her answer but afraid she might be insulted by the question.
She fought to keep herself from shivering at the thought of casual sex with him. Hmmm. “Um…no. Actually, I think she’s got a point. Women…uh…have needs just like men, and we aren’t always ready for commitment. Why shouldn’t we enjoy…you know…and not scare a guy off because he assumes once he’s slept with you you’re already planning the wedding?”
His eyes widened. “Seriously? I haven’t met too many women who really feel that way.”
Sam leapt for the bandwagon. “Seriously. Sex can be just for fun, like going to the movies or skiing.”
“You’re putting me on. You actually believe in sex with no strings attached?”
“Sure, why not?” Had he noticed her voice shake a little? No-strings-attached sex with Aiden would still be sex with Aiden, which…oh God…had to be delicious. “I’m twenty-four. I’m not looking to settle down yet, so what’s wrong with having fun? Safe sex, of course…but I would love to meet a guy who isn’t going to get all weird and assume I’m hauling out my hidden stash of bridal magazines the moment he goes to take a shower. I’m so not.”
The sparkle in his eyes made her stomach do a little flip. He looked like he was just about to say something when Dr. Croft came out of the exam room. “Hey, Aiden…and Barkley, why don’t you guys come on in?”
Aiden’s darkening gaze lingered on Sam for a second, but whatever his response might have been to her wanton confession, he never voiced it. He rose, a half grin on his lips, and tugged on Barkley’s leash. “Come on, boy, let’s go see the doctor. Um…thanks for the toy. I’m sure he’ll chew the hell out of it when we get home.”
“Yeah, sure…” Sam made a beeline back to her desk and flung herself into her seat as Aiden and his dog disappeared into the exam room with Dr. Croft. She dropped her head into her hands and moaned. “I can’t believe I just did that.”
“What? Did you ask him out?” Gillian hovered at her shoulder, her grin reflected in Sam’s computer screen like a Cheshire cat’s.
“No. Thanks to your sex talk show, I just basically told him I’m a horny slut.”
“So you just made yourself irresistible to him.” Gillian laughed and put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I’ve been married for thirty years, hon. And I’ve been very happy, but I don’t think I would have been if I hadn’t had a little fun beforehand…and that was back when having that kind of fun wasn’t as easy as it is today. Live a little.”
Samantha fanned herself with a file folder. “Live? I just about died out there. I’ve never been so embarrassed. My brain had no idea what my mouth was doing.”
Gillian shrugged. “Trust me, I was watching. That young man knew exactly what your mouth was doing, and he was loving every naughty word you said.”

Visit Spring River Valley

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Utah Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park, Bluffdale, UT - March 2004

As the Monday Killer Chick, I get the honor of doing the Memorial Day post.

Except Memorial Day for me has kind of expanded to encompass not only soldiers, but all the loved ones who've passed from our lives - especially those who've made America great in their own way.

I remember my dad on this day.  He was a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam.  He served in the Air Force for 11 years - from 1954 to 1965 (if my memory and my math are correct).  In both of those wars, he didn't see action - which works for me because I was born after and if he'd actually been sent to either war zone, I might not be here.

We lost Dad in 2002.  On May 6th.  He was almost 66.  Not old enough to die, but way older than he should've been considering how sick he was and for how long.  If he'd lived, he would be 77 next week.

On May 6th a few years later, we attended the funeral service for my husband's best friend, Phil.  I still miss that ornery cuss.  He was the one person I could go and bitch to when things got crappy with my husband's job.  He understood.  And leave it to him to die right before the anniversary of my dad's death.  I cried more at his funeral than I would've because both those losses combined tore me up.  Phil was way too young to die, too, but cancer does that.  It takes people before their time.

I remember those men because they impacted my life.  I don't even know if Phil was a veteran* - but I know he fought the good fight for as long as he could.  Both Phil and my dad knew what this country stood for and each battled against the enemies of this country in whatever way they could - even if it was just speaking out against stupidity and injustice.  Even when it was just with a snarky remark or a witty comeback.

In their own way, they were soldiers even when they didn't wear uniforms.

So, not to take anything away from the military who serve our country - I appreciate every one of them - but there are heroes of another sort who've fought hard to keep America free, too.

Who are you remembering today?  If they're still alive, for petesakes, hug them and let them know they're appreciated.  And give them a shout-out here.

*My husband told me that Phil was in the Air Force - like my dad.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Day of Writing

A day of writing – in my brain:

9:00 AM – At my computer, raring to go. I wrote over 6000 words yesterday, so today my goal is 1 million!

9:15 AM – I need a break.

10:25 AM – Taught that scene a lesson! Stick a fork in it, it’s done. I rock.

10:35 AM – It contradicts everything I wrote in Chapter 2. Delete this mess!

10:36 AM – I hate myself. I need a break.

10:50 AM – Back to work. I have a better idea and I can fix everything.

11:58 AM – Best 13 words I ever wrote.

11:59 AM – Lunch time!!

12:40 PM – I can do this. I’m invincible. Another 1000 words before I quit for the day.

12:45 PM – I’m a talentless hack.

12:46 PM – I need a break.

12:59 PM – Oh, yes! I know how I can fill that plot hole. I’m a genius!

1: 42 PM – I’m on such a roll. This scene makes the whole story. I love my brain!

1:44 PM – I’m a poser. I should just quit this now while I still have a shred of my sanity.

1:50 PM – No, I HAVE to carry on. I have fans! All two of them are counting on me.

2:14 PM – And in Chapter Four the heroes eyes were BROWN. So this entire paragraph about how sexy his blue eyes are is NO GOOD!

2:16 PM – A whole paragraph about eye color? What is this my first day as a writer? Get real. Back on track. Delete, delete, delete.

2:30 PM – I have 30 minutes left to make a decent word count for the day. Write, write, write, write.

2:35 PM – Forget it, I have to print everything out and edit from page 1.

2:45 PM – I’m out of toner.

2:50 PM – Changed toner. Print, print, print.

2:55 PM – Now all I need is my red pen and I can fix EVERYTHING!

3:00 PM – Damn, just when things start getting good, I have to go pick up the kids. If only I had more time to write…

What's your writing day like?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lucky Penny

Today is Lucky Penny Day.

See a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck.

Or is that only if it's heads up??

Do you pick up money? Do you avoid the paths of black cats? Do you throw salt over your shoulder?

CLARICE: I will only pick up pennies that are heads up [but I'm not superstitious, honestly.] I can't avoid the paths of black cats - I generally wake up with one on my head so I suppose I'm doomed. And if throw salt over my shoulder, I'm the one who has to clean it up, so why bother?

B.E.: Has to be heads up or it's not lucky.  Them's the rules.  In all honesty, though, I don't really believe pennies can be lucky or cracks to be unlucky.  It's just an old habit.  Like not walking under a ladder - which aside from the superstition is just common sense.  I mean, what if you were walking under a ladder when someone on the ladder dropped a hammer?  Is that bad luck or just an ill-advised path?  Did my window washer pump thingie die the same day as my computer monitor because I had bad luck, or was it a mix of cat hair and dust in the monitor and a 13 year old pump?  The world may never know.  (I'm still picking up the pennies, though.)

JB: I'm more likely to pick up trash or dog poop than a penny.  'Cuz really, what good is a penny? Unless of course you need it to scratch off a lottery ticket...

I don't avoid black cats. Don't throw salt. DO avoid ladders (but like B.E. that's just a common sense thing)

Tell us Killer Friends: Do you think it's lucky to find a penny? Or do you think taking the initiative to bend down is what brings good fortune your way?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rituals & Soundtracks

My fabulous former creativity coach forwarded me this interesting article on writers and their rituals, which got me to thinking about my own rituals.  When things are flowing smoothly, I don't rely much on rituals, but when they're not.....

Ritual 1 -- I pace. I'm a compulsive pacer. It helps me think.

Ritual 2 -- I write by hand with purple ink. It's got to be purple!

Ritual 3 -- I listen to the same song (the song can change each day) on an endless loop. (very annoying for anyone in the vicinity) Usually it's a song from a soundtrack (my faves include Clubbed to Death from The Matrix and The Doctor in Utah from Doctor Who) but I've also gone thru classical periods (Moonlight Sonata and Pachelbel Canon in D).  I suspect I'm somehow soothing my brain waves since these are such repetitive tunes. Most of the time I go lyric-free, but if I'm really stressed I rely on Bowie's Under Pressure.

Since I did a half-marathon relay this past weekend (boring race reports here and here)  I started thinking about how music is part of my running ritual too.

Then I got to thinking that since Janet had a race this past weekend too, I thought it would be fun to share our dueling playlists. Make sure to head over to her blog to see the music that motivated her.

I have a really odd playlist. The music is chosen not because of a driving beat, but because I need a constant reminder to not take myself to seriously.

Here are my 10 Most Played songs from my Running Playlist from this week's race:

1985 -- Bowling for Soup  

Axel F -- from Beverly Hills Cop

Walking on Sunshine -- Katrina in the Waves

Rock Me Amadeus -- Falco

Weapon of Choice -- Fatboy Slim (loved the Christopher Walken dancing video)

Safety Dance -- the remake from Glee (which I don't even watch)

Sexy and I Know It -- LMFAO (because it's the funniest video I've seen and I smile at the memory)

U Can't Touch This -- MC Hammer (it was played incessantly on our honeymoon...not by us)

Signed, Sealed, Delivered  -- the new Straight No Chaser version

Most Played:  Praan -- Gary Schyman -- because I LOVE the "Where the Hell is Matt?" videos. Go watch one. Now. I bet it leaves you smiling.

Okay, I'm popping over to read Janet' playlist to see if it's as odd as mine. ;-)

Tell me Killer Friends: What are your reading, writing or running rituals?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Dying Embers - B.E.

Here's a little snippet from the beginning of my suspense novel - Dying Embers.  It's the book I'm currently sending queries for, and since most of the eastern seaboard either has gotten the first 3-5 pages (the first chapters, the first three chapters, the first 50 pages) or will be soon, I thought it'd be okay to share it will all of you, too.

I hope you enjoy.

As she approached the twisted Mercedes’ wreckage, its cracked side mirror winked at her as if they shared some unspeakable secret.  The wind blowing through her mousy-brown hair made the leaves of the grand old trees waver and the moonlight dance across the pine straw.  All around her whispered the soft hush of the forest and faint noises from the road.  So peaceful.  She could almost forget what she’d done, if not for the sickly, wet gurgle.
Standing beneath a tree a few yards above, she couldn’t tell if the sound emanated from the vital fluids dripping out of the engine, or from her husband and his mistress.  Maybe it was the tree as its sap oozed from a wide gash where the metal had ripped away the bark.  The car was dead.  The other three would die soon enough. 
She only felt sorry for the tree.
Her intention had only been to send them down the embankment to the gully below.  If she’d known a tree would stop them partway down, she would’ve planned the whole thing better.  If she’d planned the thing at all, this would’ve gone so much smoother. 
Whatever Will had done, the tree didn’t deserve to pay for it. 
“Hello?” a harsh voice rasped in the night air.  It was filled with pain and the wet sound of too much spit or too much blood.  The noise was so soft anyone else wouldn’t have been able to tell who survived the impact, but she knew the cadence deep inside her, even before her brain had time to register it consciously.
“Hello, Will,” she whispered back.  With a slow deliberateness, she nudged a rock down the steep hillside.  It bounced off one of its many brethren with a loud clack, and her smile widened.  Except for the poor tree, she picked the perfect spot. 
“Hello?” he said louder, his terror filling the air and echoing off the jagged crags.  “Is someone there?” 
Her lips curled into a sneer as she bent to pick up a rock.  With a deftness born of many summer softball games, she tested the weight of it in her hand and then hurled it against the one unbroken pane of glass left.  
The sound of its shattering came only an instant before Will screamed like a little girl.  Or maybe it was his cheap hussy. 
If she was lucky, they were both alive.  Their heartbeats would mean her plan hadn’t completely failed after all.  Oh, she wanted them dead, but not too quickly.  If she was going to spend the rest of her life suffering from their betrayal, the least they could do was spend a little time suffering themselves.
Above them on the road, a semi chugged its way up the hill and she froze.  Everything would be ruined if they were discovered now.  Truck drivers could see too much from their perches, and she needed time for her tormentors to die.  In the morning, the skid marks would be visible on the asphalt, or the sun would glint off the car’s mirrors, and they would be found. 
Too late.
“Whoever you are, please help us.  My wife is bleeding badly, and she’s having trouble breathing.”
The smile left her face.  His wife?  His wife?  So the lies were to continue even unto death.  Bastard. 
“She’s not your wife,” she said into the darkness, each word drawn from her like splinters from a stake in her heart.  Step by merciless step, she crept toward the vehicle; each one bringing her closer to her goal. 
“She never was your wife.”  With each step, another millimeter of her perfect white teeth glowed in the moonlight.  She was snarling by the time she slid the last few feet.  
“And she never will be.”  When she reached the back bumper, loose rocks slid beneath her feet, lurching her against the trunk.  The car wobbled precariously. 
Good.  Better than she hoped for, actually.  If the car tumbled into the ravine, days could pass before anyone found the bodies.

Monday, May 20, 2013

In Like but Not In Love

Way back when, I had a friend.  His name was Marvin.  I knew Marvin liked-me, liked me, but when we first met, I was dating someone else.  He was a really super nice guy.  We had a lot in common.  So when I was single and he was single, he would ask me to go do things with him.  I don't know if he thought they were dates, but I never looked at them that way.  We hung out together because we were friends.  Then one night, we ended up back at his place and had one disastrous kiss. 

I think it was disastrous because I never felt that way about him.  From where I was, I was in like, but not in love. 

I think it must be kind of this way when an agent rejects some manuscripts.  Recently I got a rejection from a requested full manuscript I'd sent.  She said she was 'in like' with it, but it wasn't love, so she had to pass.  She told me the story was fun and dark.  I think she said something about liking the writing. 

It all amounted to "I really enjoy your company, but I don't feel THAT way about you."  Which was basically what I ended up telling poor Marvin. 

As nice as you say it, it doesn't hurt any less. 

I've been on the other end of that equation myself, so I'm pretty sure I can guess how Marvin felt when the relationship didn't go where he wanted it to go.  There was this one boy in high school.  I totally thought I was in love with him, and I hoped it would lead to hearts and flowers and all things good.  He thought I was nice enough to hang out with, but he ended up taking the little red-haired girl to prom.  (Yeah, it really was a little red-haired girl.)  I was crushed.  But he was 'in like' with me.

I love my manuscripts.  Total love.  But they're not feeling the love from others out there in the world.  They're getting a lot of like from the industry, but the love just ain't there.  Yet.  Eventually I found the love of my life and what I felt for that boy in high school is a pale shadow of what I feel for my husband.  Eventually, my manuscripts will find someone who loves them as much as I do.

And I hope eventually Marvin found the one he was supposed to be with.

How about you?  Have you ever been 'in like' with someone?  Have you ever been in love with someone who only liked you back? 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Workin' it

I took three days off from my day job this week to write. I've got deadlines I have to meet, and the stress of not getting much done was really getting to me. Fortunately I had some vacation time I could take, so I set up a mini-ri-mo for myself.

Wednesday I didn't get much done, since I had also scheduled maintenance on the sprinkler system which ended up taking a lot longer than normal. My total word count for the day was 2360, which, if you figure my average word count had fallen to about 5, is pretty dern good.

Thursday my word count rose to 6380. I attribute that to a lot of things, the first being no interruptions, the second being I was working on a different story. I had to put one of the novellas aside because I was just getting nowhere. I don't like doing that, but I couldn't face spending the day feeling blocked. I also bought this book: 2k to 10k: How to Write Faster, Write Better and Write More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. At $0.99 you can't go wrong, and while I don't know if her methods will work for everyone, I took one very important piece of advice from her.

If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.

Now, I'm not saying this was my problem, per se, but the idea shook me up and made me remember that I became a writer because because I LOVED to write. Nothing makes writing into torture like having to write - and setting hard and fast deadlines for my books sucked a lot of the joy out of writing for me. So I sat down on Thursday with the idea that I was going to enjoy the story I was writing. Ultimately I enjoyed writing 6380 words. I don't know if I'll really enjoy the story until it's done and I don't have to worry about finishing it anymore.

Are you enjoying the story you're writing? If not, why not?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lost Sock Memorial Day

Did you celebrate Lost Sock Memorial Day last week? Where do YOU think those missing socks go?

CLARICE: In my house we had the reverse problem. When my son was little he used to go to bed with a sock on each little foot and when he woke up there would be three socks in the bed. We told him the extra sock migrated from the dryer during the night, but we knew the truth. Now that he's older, we've told him where socks come from, but I'm starting to think it might be immaculate conception, since all of his socks are holey.

JB: The socks in our house aren't lost. They're stolen. Given the chance BOTH dogs will steal socks. If you ever stop by uninvited, chances are you'll spot a stray sock in the living room.

B.E.:  Alas, I forgot about Lost Sock Memorial Day.  Those poor forgotten socks... forgotten again.  I shall lay a rose upon their tomb... If I can find it.  Seriously, though, I'm pretty sure lost socks travel to another dimension where many footed creatures are walking about clad in a variety of colors and textures.  Too bad for them there are no lost shoes to go with them.  Lost shoes end up on the sides of highways for some reason.  Maybe those are trying to find the lost sock dimension.  ;o)

Tell us Killer Friends: Do you lose socks? Where do you think they've ended up?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Which comes first: the title or the book?

I was recently asked if I come up with the title and then build the book around it.

Ummm, no.

In fact the possibility never even occurred to me. The question actually left me dumbfounded for a long, uncomfortable moment.

I could see how non-fiction writers could pull something like that off. After all, they're expounding on a certain subject. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (great book!) is about happiness.

But I couldn't imagine writing fiction like that. (Unless it's satire, say something like 50 Shades of Burnt Umber.)

I need to have a pretty good idea of what my book is going to be about before I even try to come up with a title.

THE FIRST VICTIM was the title the publisher had wanted. I'd called it Her Nightmare and Stolen as I wrote and queried it.

I'm proud to say I came up with CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN but I wasn't thrilled with the sequel title FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN that the publisher came up with. I'd wanted to call it THE HITWOMAN AT TWO WEDDINGS.

The amazing Jennifer Colgan suggested THE HITWOMAN GETS LUCKY and I've come up with THE HITWOMAN AND THE NEUROTIC WITNESS for the next book in the series.

One of my favorite titles of all time is ROOM (amazing book!) by Emma Donoghue. Not only is it simple, but it so perfectly describes the world of the protagonist.

Even though I disliked the book, I must admit that Eat, Pray, Love was a pretty good title.

I also love the title of Jennifer Colgan's INTERVIEW WITH A GARGOYLE.

And you've got to love the simplicity of Jennifer Hillier's CREEP and FREAK titles.

Tell me Killer Friends: If you're a writer, do you come up with your titles before your books? And readers, how important is a title to you? What are some of your favorite titles?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I haven't even read this over yet to see if it even makes sense, so please know this is a ROUGH teaser from my upcoming novel THE HITWOMAN AND THE NEUROTIC WITNESS.  Forgive me for the mess and enjoy!

You know it’s going to be a bad day when you’ve got Piss on your chest, Doomsday staring you in the eye, and God singing, “Staying Alive” out of tune.

My name is Maggie Lee. Through a bizarre series of events (include a head injury that left me with the ability to talk to animals) I’ve become a hitwoman.

I wasn’t sure if either of those things was the reason my apartment had just been blown to smithereens. But there I was, sprawled out in the parking lot, every cell in my body aching, with a dog panting in my face, a one-eyed cat kneading my chest, and a snarky anole lizard singing off-key “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive, stayin alive.”

“Doing what?” asked Doomsday (my grammatically-challenged Doberman, who prefers to be called DeeDee because it’s more feminine).

Thankfully the reptile stopped singing long enough to haughtily inform the dog, “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation.”

The dog cocked her head to the side. “What?”

“CPR, you ignoramus,” the lizard shouted. “We’re trying to save her life.”

“Song?” DeeDee asked.

“The American Heart Association says it’s the perfect beat to use,” God replied, before singing again. “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive, stayin alive.”

If Piss, the one-eyed cat wasn’t pushing on my chest with her untrimmed claws, I might have been able to tell them that I was alive, but they were killing me.

Thankfully someone shooed her off of me.

My favorite mobster came into focus. Leaning over me, his diamond pinky ring sparkled like the North Star.  I blinked. Either I was seeing double, or strangely-named identical twins Tony and Anthony Delveccio were at my apartment complex.

That couldn’t be good.

Were they the ones who’d blown up my apartment? Were they here to finish the job?
    "Can you sit up?" The twin wearing an avocado green silk shirt unbuttoned to his belly button asked.
    Since the other one was wearing a tomato red shirt, I decided that avocado was Anthony and tomato was Tony.
    "Are you okay?" Tomato, a.k.a.Tony asked.
    "Imbeciles. Does she look okay?" God thundered indignantly. 
    Well, to me it sounded like he people who can't talk to animals it sounded like a high-pitched squeak.
    "What the hell is that?" Anthony looked around trying to locate the source of the squeaking.
    "It's the lizard she's always sneaking into the hospital that she think no one notices," Tony replied. "It's the kid's pet."
    "He's kind of cute," Anthony said, reaching for my reptilian friend.
    "Save me! Save me!" God screeched scampering away to hide behind Piss who was watching the mobsters suspiciously through her one good eye.
    "Touch don't."
    DeeDee's growled warning made both men freeze. Anthony snaked his hand around to the back of his belt.
    Afraid he was going to shoot my dog, I struggled into a sitting position. "Lie down," I ordered the dog.
    For once she did as I asked.
    "You okay?" Tony crouched down to look me in the eye. I could have sworn I saw actual concern in his gaze.
    I nodded. "What happened?"
    "You're lucky you got out," Anthony said.
    "We smelled gas."
    "We?" Anthony eyed the burning building. "You had someone in there with you?"
    "Just my pets."
    "Just?" God sniffed haughtily.
    Piss turned her one-eyed gaze on him, effectively shutting him up.
            “What are you doing here?” I asked.
            “We were checking in on a local business venture we have a stake in,” Anthony said a tad too smoothly.
I guessed that the strip club right around the corner was probably their “business venture”.
“We saw the flame and thought we’d do the Good Samaritan thing,” Anthony continued.
I had no idea what “Good Samaritan” means in a mobster’s vernacular, but I doubted anything good came out of it.
“Plus,” Tony confided, patting my shoulder, “we know you live here.”
“Thanks.” I offered the man in the red shirt a weak smile. I knew he’d meant the words kindly, but the idea that two deadly mobsters know where I  live was not particularly reassuring.
            “You did us a solid taking down Kowalski and causing a headache for the Dubrovsky family,” Anthony said gruffly.
            I nodded. I didn’t say that I’d almost died a couple times while just trying to keep my family safe. Let them think I’d done them a favor. Maybe they’d think twice about knocking me off now.
            “But you’re going to be taking some heat now,” Tony said. “People will be watching you. Cops. Feds. Other organizations.”
            I nodded knowing that he wasn’t talking about Kiwanis or Masons. He meant other crime organizations.
            “So we gotta distance ourselves from you until things cool down,” Tony said.
The idea seemed to sadden him, so I did my best to not reveal that the prospect left me overjoyed. “I understand.”
“It’s business,” Anthony muttered.
“I get that,” I assured them.
 Both men stiffened as sirens wailed in the distance.
    "Fire trucks," I reassured them.
    "Cops won't be far behind," Anthony muttered, turning away. "We gotta go." He hustled away toward a black sedan.
    "You sure you're okay?" Tony asked.
    I nodded.
    "You take care of yourself." He hurried toward the car as the sirens grew closer.
    I looked at my apartment building engulfed in flames. A quick scan of the area seemed to indicate that all my neighbors had made it out of the respective units. Some were crying. Some were in shock. Some looked pissed off.
            I looked at the smoldering hole where my apartment had been. I swallowed hard, trying not to cry. That place had been my home. It had been my place to escape from The Witches. Now it was gone.
            Sensing my distress, the animals gathered around me.
            “Sad no,” Dee said, resting her heavy head on my shoulder. I tilted my head, leaning it against hers.
            “It’ll be okay, Sugar,” Piss chimed in, nuzzling against my arm. I pet her distractedly
            “You are so screwed.” God opined.
            I shot him a dirty look.
He shrugged. “Can’t argue with the truth.”

For more information about Maggie and the gang, visit my website.