Wednesday, July 31, 2013

3 Prizes! 5 Chicks! 500 posts!

It's a bit of a milestone here at Killer Chicks. Today is our 500th post!!!

Since we're all about books, I've invited ALL of the Killer Chicks (past & present) to weigh in on their Top Five of all time. (And because they're all such terrific pals, they all said yes! -- Thanks, gals!)

And because we're all about you, the reader, we're giving away books to three lucky readers.
One reader will get an ebook copy of one of Jennifer Hillier's books, one will get a book from Clarice Wynter's Spring River Valley series, and one will get any book of mine they like!

Killer Chicks started as an idea tossed back and forth between myself and talented thriller writer Jennifer Hillier, author of CREEP and FREAK. (Both will keep you up at night!)

Here are Jenny's Top 5 books and thoughts:

My 5 favorite books are:

IT by Stephen King
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Paranoia by Joseph Finder
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Stephen King, but probably more so his earlier work when he really was all about the horror. IT is a book I reread once every couple of years, partly because I love those characters (there are seven child protagonists) and I'm always fascinated by King's ability to give them all such distinct voices. They never, ever blend into one another and each kid contributes in a big, important way to the story. I also put Pet Sematary on the list because it is genuinely terrifying book that did gave me nightmares when I first read it at the age of 11 or 12.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green made my list because it moved me, and then lingered with me for a few months after I read it. Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club represents the kind of book that says so much while using so few words. It's a short novel, probably under 60,000 words, but it somehow still manages to overflow with good story. Plus it's so quotable.

Lastly, I love Paranoia by Joseph Finder. It's an extremely well-plotted thriller, and right up till the end I still didn't know who the bad guy was. I hope the upcoming movie starring Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford does it justice.

Awesome YA thriller writer Joann Swanson rounded out our original threesome. Here are her Top 5 books:

The Book Thief
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Stand
The Sparrow
Children of God

These books all affected me deeply and have influenced my own writing greatly. 

Busy romantic Jennifer Colgan (aka Clarice Wynter AND Bernadette Gardner....see, I told ya she's busy!) brought a Happily Ever After vibe to Killer Chicks while she was here. Check out her Top 5.

This is a tough question…I’m including series as well as single books. In no particular order… and I think it’s cruel to limit us to just 5. ;)

1.       Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series – including the first of her new series, ICED
2.       Harry Potter series
3.       Imzadi by Peter David
4.       All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
5.       A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Writer of suspense, speculative fiction AND urban fantasy (why tackle just one?!) B.E. Sanderson, my current fellow Chick, is always posting something fabulous here. Here's her list:

These are the top five books that made a difference in my life.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The World According to Garp by John Irving
The Stand by Stephen King
Feed by Mira Grant
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

When JB first asked me to become a Killer Chicks, I was all like "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy".  I've had tremendous respect for all the Killer Chicks over the years and I totally never thought I'd be good enough to become one of them.  That JB asked me... ME... omgomgomg... was and is a great honor.  I just hope I can live up to the example set by those who were here before me.  Thanks for all you did over the years, ladies.  And let's give JB a hand.  She's the backbone here.  I'm just the wingman.  ;o)

I consider myself so lucky to have shared this space with all these lovely ladies and with YOU, our lovely Killer Friends. Thank you to you all!

My list (in no particular order -- and I must admit my list changes daily, depending on my mood)

Thank You for Smoking -- Christopher Buckley
Horse of Two Colors -- Glenn Balch
The Source -- by James Michener
Kiss the Girls -- James Patterson 
Me Talk Pretty One Day -- David Sedaris

Interestingly, my Top 10 list would include IT, RACING IN THE RAIN, and ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW.

Want to win of our books? Share YOUR favorite books in the comments ALONG WITH YOUR EMAIL before 12:01 a.m. 8/6/13. Three winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog 8/7/13.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday's Random Fandom

Okay.  I'll be the first to admit that I haven't read Karin Tabke's latest book THE DARE.  But I have read pretty much everything else she's written.  And this woman can write.

Take her Blood Swords Legacy books.  Hot Templar knights fighting the good fight and falling in love with the women they are foreseen to be with.  Yowza.

And her Blood Law Trilogy.  Spicy paranormal with Lycans.  Rawr.

And Karin writing under the last name of Harlow? She nailed it again with her L.O.S.T. series of Paranormal Romantic Suspense. 

Plus, she's got a whole bunch of stories in anthologies and several single title romances, too.

Suffice it to say, this chick rocks.

But let's talk about her latest release a bit.  THE DARE is the first in her Chronicles of Katrina serial.  And it's something Karin has chosen to publish herself.  It's bold and it's brave - just like its author.  From the snippet she's got posted on her site (just follow the above link), it's super spicy.

As if that wasn't enough, Karin's also a long-standing member of Murder She Writes, plus she owns her own business, is the matriarch of a big family, and still manages to help out her fellow writers whenever she can. Karin kicks ass.

So, if you want to read the work of a kick ass author who writes hot cops, hot knights and hot supernatural characters, try reading Karin - Tabke or Harlow (either way you can't go wrong).

(And in case you missed it, check out her post over at The Guide where she's out there encouraging us all to "Keep Swimming".)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Talk Movies

I don't know about all y'all but I'm a big fan of watching movies - on TV.  I haven't been to an actual movie theater since I saw Master and Commander: Far Side of the World.  Yeah, it's been a while.  Hell, I don't even have the premium channels on my satellite (well, not since the '1st three months free' promo deal expired).  This, however, doesn't mean I don't love movies.  I just prefer watching them on my television screen - complete with snacks of my choice and all the Mtn. Dew I can consume for one low price. 

I also prefer older movies.  Back in the day, that meant movies from my parents' time.  Nowadays, it means movies from 10+ years ago.

And I like watching movies I've already seen.  It drives my husband nuts.  If he's watched something once, he doesn't want to watch it again.  Lucky for me, he never watched much TV or went to the movies often, so there's a whole slew of movies I can introduce him to.

The other day, we watched V.I. Warshawski, for instance.  Great movie.  Yesterday, it was DAVE.  Today, I sat down and caught part of Guarding Tess.  Older movies, but still pretty good ones.  And now I'm good on those two for another few years.  But I will watch them again.  They just aren't my go-to, 'watch at least once a year' flicks.

Like Princess Bride.  Or Sixteen Candles.  Or Armageddon.  And Die Hard movies 1-4.  (The fifth hasn't hit Basic Satellite yet.)  Plus, Ground Hog Day - which is kind of ironic, watching a movie over and over about a guy who lives the same day over and over.  ;o)

Plus, there are movies I love that the don't hardly ever show.  Ever seen the suspense with Sigourney Weaver and Harry Connick, Jr.?  Copycat.  Totally awesome and Harry plays an excellent creepy dude.  Or the romantic comedy Green Card?  Who knew Gerard Depardieu could make 'annoying French guy' so damn romantic?

How about you?  Can you watch a movie over and over, or is once enough for you?  What are your go-to movies?  What's one movie you love that they never show on TV?

Oh, and if you're in the neighborhood, stop by The Unpublished Writer's Guide to Survival .  My guest poster is none other than the most fabulous Karin Tabke (aka Harlow).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fabulous Photo Friday -- Hey Dog Lovers!

I've started volunteering with ELEVENTH HOUR RESCUE, the organization we adopted Dog 2 through.

I met these great dogs yesterday, but I forgot to take their pictures so I'm "borrowing" them from the organization's site and including links to their pages so you can learn more about them!

This is Brady. He had kisses for everybody.

Kitten (what a terrible name for a dog!) is an older girl who was such a lady on a leash.

Whoever gets to bring home fun-loving Shamrock will be lucky indeed!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's Culinarians Day!

Do you cook? Do you prefer to make reservations?  Tell us the best and/or worst meals you've ever prepared.

JB:   The "worst" meal I ever made was a leg of lamb. I spent HOURS preparing it and my husband walked in the door, sniffed the air and said, "What died in here?" (At the time we were newlyweds. Now I'm well-acquainted with his aversion to gamey meat.)

The best meal I ever had was in Seattle. Melt-in-your-mouth scallops cooked in Amaretto. O.M.G.

B.E.: The running gag in my family (with my sisters at least) is that I can't cook.  Of course, when I was younger, it wasn't that I couldn't cook, it was that I didn't want to.  Now I love to cook.  I like to try new things - experiment a little.  I know over the years I've made some real horrific mistakes in the kitchen - like boiling the water right out of the pan and turning the potatoes into charcoal briquets.  Or the time I was making a BBQ beef roast and like the third time I went to baste I grabbed the teriyaki sauce instead of the BBQ sauce.  Honey BBQ and teriyaki over beef = Not a great flavor combo. 

The best meal I make is probably my meat loaf or my homemade ham and bean soup.  The best meal I ever ate... Steak and crab legs at Bob Chin's Crabhouse in Wheaton, IL.  OMG, yum. 

Tell us Killer Friends: What's your "go to" meal in YOUR kitchen?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The plane is burning! Do YOU grab your purse?

Last week a friend (who does A LOT of international travel for her job) asked me, "If you're on a burning plane, would you grab your purse before getting off?"

My knee-jerk response was, "No. I'd be too busy crawling over to get out."

She was shocked since she'd decided she WOULD grab her purse.

Then, as I do with most things, I thought about some of my characters. What would they do?

I decided that Maggie from CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN would reach for her purse ONLY if God was inside, demanding to be rescued. 

Then I started wondering whether most of the choices my characters make are the same as I would.

The short answer is: They're not. 

Maggie likes to climb. I'm terrified of heights.

Maggie is WAY more patient than I'll ever be. She put up with ALL of Alice's bridezilla moments in FURTHER CONFESSIONS. I would have told her what to do with the fish-colored dress.

I would NEVER stick a lizard in my bra, like Maggie does in THE HITWOMAN GETS LUCKY.

There are however some things Maggie and I have in common. We both eat an inordinate amount of peanut butter. We both talk to our pets (tho' hers talk back). We're both smitten with Patrick.

That's the beauty of fiction, we can pick and choose what traits our characters will possess. In real life we're stuck with our short tempers, shortcomings and we eat too many short stacks.

Tell me Killer Friends: Would YOU grab your purse? Do you tend to gravitate toward characters you have more or less in common with? How do you feel about peanut butter?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - BREAKING GLASS by Lisa Amowitz

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, hes not sure whether theyre real or if hes losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.

Now (November 17th)
Outside the dinner theater lobby, the glow of street lamps barely penetrates the thick mist that shrouds the parking lot. It’s the kind of night that Jack the Ripper might have prowled the cobblestoned streets of London searching for victims.
In the lobby, fresh from the standing ovation he’s received as Tony in our production of West Side Story, my best friend Ryan Morgan is surrounded by a crush of people. For two weeks running, his performance has been drawing crowds from all over Westchester County.
I glance around furtively, but no one notices the lighting guy. Truth is, my heart’s not in theater. I’m only working weekends to pad my college applications, and my wallet. So, I take a minute to study the latest text from Susannah Durban, Ryan’s girlfriend of three years. Heat creeps into my cheeks.
For the past year, Susannah’s been inexplicably texting me with YouTube links to her haunting stop-action animations. I watch her body drift across the screen draped with filmy gauze, her dark bronze hair and golden skin amid floating leaves, graveyards, ballet dancers, Indian goddesses, and scattered words in Hebrew and English, most of which make no sense.
But other than telling me the link is private and to keep it our little secret, Susannah never mentions them when I see her. Neither do I.
Yet if I could dive into my iPhone and swim beside her, an exotic fish in her private world, I would do it and never look back.
And Ryan would kill me. Best friends don’t want to do their best friend’s girlfriend. I think that’s written somewhere. So is not cheating on your girlfriend. And so is not ratting him out.
I glance behind me. Ryan is intertwined with Claudia Herman, the community college girl who plays Maria. Claudia’s hot. And she’s slept with our whole track team. I think of Susannah, mercifully out of town on a college visit.
My phone vibrates. Susannah again. This time it’s an actual text.
I clench my jaw and look away from Ryan and his latest fling, sworn to silence by the Guy Code of Honor.
Jeremy! guess what. i’m here! got n earlier flight
I peer out into night, then glance at Ryan again.
Claudia has one leg coiled around Ryan’s tall frame, like a boa constrictor. I fumble with my phone. Texting under pressure has never been my strong suit.
Heart pounding, I gulp in air and think of my water bottle, nestled in the glove compartment of my car. I can feel my lips pressed to its cool rim, imagining the warmth of its contents sliding down the back of my throat.
But no. I have to stay sharp. I’m sensible, I tell myself. Sensible Jeremy Glass.
Besides, there’s no time. Susannah emerges from the parking lot mist carrying a single red rose. A circuit flips on inside me; a familiar volt of current sizzles through my core like heat lightning. I stuff the phone in my pocket and try to position myself to block Ryan from view. My palms are slick. At first, I identify the heaviness behind my eyeballs as guilt. Only as Susannah pushes through the glass doors, droplets beaded on her hair like diamond chips, do I recognize the cold hollow thing that claws up into my throat for what it really is.
Panic cramps my insides. The silver water bottle beckons.
“Jeremy!” Susannah hugs me, smelling of rain and vanilla. She flashes a smile, her clear eyes bright, but at the temples her deep golden skin is almost transparent, stretched just a bit too tight. And her raincoat hangs loose. “I thought I should be here for the big night, so I booked an earlier flight,” she says. “Surprised?”
“A little. I know Ryan certainly will be.” I’m buzzing like I’ve just downed a fifth of Absolut, the damp ache inside me incinerated to ash. The idiotic smile still frozen on my face, I notice a scarlet string around her wrist. Buying time, I ask, “What’s that?”
Susannah shrugs her bronze curls behind her shoulders. She takes a step closer and tilts her head toward me in a way that causes a shudder to run up my legs.
“It’s a souvenir from the Kabbalah fair I stumbled onto this weekend. Can you believe it?” She gazes at me as if this bit of information should hold some significance. We are both part Jewish, at least in lineage, though Susannah has always been more into the occult. I keep the Magic 8 Ball she gave me for my tenth birthday in a place of honor with the first track medal I won. For me, her fascination with the spiritual realm has always added to her mystique and made me want her all the more. “Oh, the trendy spiritual stuff,” I say, stalling for time. “Isn’t Madonna into that?”
Susannah narrows her eyes. My heart stutters. The way she looks at me sometimes, I wonder if she sees through the placid mask I’ve worn all these years. With my hands-on experience, I figure I’m probably a more accomplished actor than Ryan is by now, so I should be able to hide how I really feel.
But Susannah smiles, roots around in her giant handbag, and hands me a pen with a clear top and a little floating carousel horse inside. “Since you made such a stink about Rhode Island having the oldest carousel still in use in America.”
“The Flying Horse Carousel. Wow. Thanks, Suze.” I pocket the pen and wipe the dampness from my palms. “I love it.” I don’t mention that I will probably rearrange my shelves to find a special place for it among the historic relics, personal and otherwise, I collect the way birds gather twigs. My shelves are crammed with artifacts people bring me from their travels: old baseballs, gravestone rubbings, arrowheads, even chunks of brick from buildings where significant events took place.
You don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen with history.
Because it already happened.
Then it dawns on me. I’d been so wrapped up in the details I’d missed the main point. “What happened with your portfolio review at Rhode Island School of Design, Suze? Isn’t that why you went in the first place?”
Susannah looks away. “I can’t afford that place.”
“Can you say scholarship? Your art is amazing,” I offer, avoiding mention of her strange but genius animations.
“With my grades?” She smiles and meets my gaze, emotions I can’t read flickering in her green eyes. Her smile falls away. “Besides. I’d never fit in there.”
I reach for her hand. “I thought you said your filthy rich half-brother was going to pay. Suze, you can’t just—” I start to say. Until I remember what’s happening right now, about twenty feet behind us. I’m afraid to look.
“I never went to the interview,” she mutters, sniffing the rose.
“Are you kidding?”
Susannah scans the crowd for Ryan. For the past two years, RISD was all Susannah talked about.  She’d trudge every weekend to that portfolio class in the city, just to get ready for it.
“So was he awesome?” she asks brightly.
I swallow hard and try to answer, but my mouth is dry as pavement. Even though it’s ripping my insides apart, I’m still covering for Ryan.
“Bet you were great on the lights, Jeremy,” Susannah adds quickly. She cranes her neck, trying to spot Ryan in the crowd. “So where is he?”
Heart pounding, my mind hiccups through its storehouse of facts. I reposition myself to block her view. There’s no time to try texting Ryan a warning.
I could tell Susannah. Tell her how Ryan has been sneaking around behind her back for over a year, even hooking up with two college juniors in a motel room during one of our out-of-town meets. But defying the Morgan machine by pointing this out would take too much energy. Instead I blurt, “Did you know the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill was once part of a traveling carnival?”
She laughs and shakes her head. “What? Jeremy, sometimes you can be such a—”
But her voice trails off as her gaze wanders past mine, her smile crumpling like a paper bag. I follow her line of sight and I know this is it. The crowd has thinned around Ryan, enough for her to see him with his mouth smashed against Claudia’s.
“Oh, man,” I gasp. I turn to comfort Susannah, but she is already gone.
I stand, dithering, wanting to run after her and apologize for letting her walk into this ambush.
But, no. This is something Ryan needs to take care of. I might have signed on to sweep his mess under the rug, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to clean up after him. I push through the crowd to get to him.
“What? She what? Did you know she was coming back early?”
I feel my face heat. “No.”
Ryan pushes a pouting Claudia off him, his stage makeup still glistening and thick, traces of Claudia’s lipstick smeared on his lips. “Good job, Jeremy. You could have at least texted me.”
My hand curls into a fist. I stuff it in my jacket pocket. “She ran out,” I say. “Maybe you can catch her.”
Ryan shrugs, and without a coat, stalks out of the theater into the night. I wait a few minutes, then follow. Susannah’s car is gone, and so is Ryan’s. I try to call Susannah, but she doesn’t pick up.
I get in my car and focus on resisting the water bottle’s siren call, panicked glimpses of my waking nightmare crashing through the floodgates, the terrifying memories swept through with it. The rain and the torrents of water sweeping past, draining into the Gorge, forcing me to remember. To relive it. No. Not now. I need to stay clear.
Since eighth grade, when I discovered that liquor dulls my terrors, I have been a master thief and spy.
Not even Ryan knows.
Just a sip to calm my shaky nerves. One tiny sip to beat back the rising waters that threaten to drown me. I can do it. I pride myself on my steely self-control and my ability to remain stone-cold sober, even when the track team holds a victory keg party. They call me Jeremy the Teetotaler, Jeremy the History Nerd, who never partakes.
I snap open the glove compartment. The innocuous silver bottle is shoved behind the owner’s manual, gas receipts, and a collection of PowerBar wrappers. I raise it to my lips and gulp once, twice, three times, the cold liquid igniting as it hits my throat. It takes two, three more gulps to slow my heart to normal speed. The bottle is nearly empty. I cap it and return it to the compartment, warmth flowing to my cold fingers. I’d need to drink three times as much as that to lose focus.
Swerving through the deserted black roads, slick with rain over the ice, I follow my usual running circuit. This is familiar turf. Practically my backyard.
Yes. I can do this. Susannah knows my route, so I hope she’s come this way and parked, knowing I’d find her. She wants me to find her. To comfort her. I’ll tell her everything. How I’m sorry for lying to her. For letting Ryan hurt her. And maybe, at last, she’ll accept that it’s not Ryan she wants, but me.
But there’s no sign of her.
After driving and searching fruitlessly, my mind churning with outcomes, the now-driving rain blurring my windshield, I can’t stand it anymore. My heart is racing. Just one last sip to fortify myself is all I need.
When I round the next hairpin curve, my headlights flash on Ryan’s car parked behind Susannah’s, both engines running. I squint through the rain and mist and spot them behind the guardrail, illuminated in the headlamps’ cone of light. There’s no shoulder on this side of the road, so I pull over when I can, about twenty yards past them.
When I finally get out of the car, I can hear her shouts over the racket the rain makes. My head is buzzing, but my thoughts are clear.
In fact, they’ve never been clearer, as the roots that entangle me fall away.
The damp air smells like freedom.
Susannah screams, and pounds at Ryan’s chest with her fists. He shoves her hard and she falls backward. I don’t see her get up again. Raucous arguments are nothing new between Susannah and Ryan, but I’ve never seen him hit her before.
There’s a steep decline into the woods where they’ve chosen to have their argument, and I worry Susannah could have gotten hurt. Ryan disappears now, too. What the hell are they doing?
I begin to run at full tilt. I still have some distance to cover, but that’s no problem for me, even with the Absolut pumping heat through my veins. But my boot heel catches on a wet leaf and slides out from under me.
I’m flying, but I land softly.
I should have worn my running shoes, I think crazily, then scramble to my feet.
There are blinding lights. The squeal of brakes. Breaking glass.
I don’t make it to the other side.

Available now at Amazon and B&N!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Monday

Before I get too into stuff today, let me mention that I have Travis Erwin as a guest poster today at The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival.  If you haven't read his books or his blog, you're missing out. 

As for the rest of Monday, I'm tapped.  I've been going gangbusters on this thing I'm rewriting, but I kinda fell down these past few days.  I could blame the heat (but we have AC).  I could blame the fact that we got rain for the first time in over a month, but I don't go outside much.  I could even blame my husband, who's been working diligently in our office all weekend, and the fact that he likes the overhead lights on while I like the dimness of my torch lamp...

But those are all just excuses.  Meh.

I hate making excuses.  I mean, as much as I do it, you'd think I loved excuses.  But once I realize what I'm doing, I hate that I've been doing it.  Yeah, it's easier to make excuses than to do the work, but excuses never put food on the table or words on a page. 

Anyway, enough about me and my lameness.  Tell me about something you did.  Maybe your accomplishments will shame me into making some of my own.

Or are you like me?  

Mr. Turtle Judges You

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fabulous Photo Friday

Hi All!  It's me again with another pretty pic for your enjoyment. 

These are wild white roses (Rosa multiflora).  Which just goes to prove that even something classified as an invasive species can brighten your day.

Have a bright day and a beautiful weekend, Killer Friends!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Embrace Your Geekness

Last Saturday was Embrace Your Geekness Day.

What makes YOU a geek?  Geek being defined as: A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest.

Don't be shy. You're among Killer Friends here.

JB: I'm a Whovian. If you don't know what that means, you're not a Doctor Who geek. I'm still dreaming of the day K9 arrives on my doorstep to be my forever companion. I think bow ties are cool. Weeping Angels scare the crap out of me.

I also geek out over purple ink, black jelly beans, crime scene terrariums, the perfect slice of key lime pie, spiral notebooks, my dogs, the color fuchsia, Yellowstone, houseplants, my Rubz ball (pain be gone!) and of course, BOOKS!

B.E.:  Seriously, that's the definition?  I always just thought it was synonymous with nerd.  That is to say, someone who engages in unpopular or brainy pursuits.  I guess by either definition, I'm a bird-nerd.  I spent time yesterday afternoon with a camera in my lap, waiting for birds to arrive at my feeder so I could snap a pic of each one.  I got some really awesome blue jay shots, a chickadee, a cardinal, a couple tufted titmice, a few grackles and a downy woodpecker.  The pileated woodpecker didn't show then, but he'll be back. 

And like JB, there's the books.  I've been collecting old books since I was in high school, but really just about any books will do.  It about killed me when I had to leave so many of my babies behind in Colorado - but moving upwards of 2K books is a bear.  (Even a geek like me has to be reasonable about her passions sometimes.  ;o)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Pain and Suffering of Running and Writing

I had what I could almost call an "enjoyable" run this past Saturday.  Which is a very, VERY strange thing for me to say....because I HATE running. (Seriously, most of the runners I know claim to "love" running...or at least have loved it in the past. I have NEVER felt that...and doubt I ever will.)

But I didn't hate this particular run. About halfway through I actually said, "I'm not hating this!" The dog, my running partner for the day, looked back at me through the POURING rain, like I was nuts.

I didn't hate the run for a couple of reasons.

1) The rain. Here's the thing about running in NJ in the Summer. If you go early enough to beat the sun, which we do, the humidity level starts out around 90% and if we're lucky it's down to 80% by the time we're done. With temps between 70 and  90 degrees, that translates to disgusting conditions. So Saturday's rain was a gift. Sure it poured, but it actually made things cooler.

2) Because I didn't want the dog to overheat (how's THAT for a convenient excuse?) I took it even slower than my usual tortoise pace...which meant I wasn't gasping for breath the whole time. Breathing is GOOD.

3) It didn't hurt much. My knees, for the first time EVER while running, didn't hurt. Not once. (I'm positive this is a direct result of my "knee exercise streak".

The reason I'm babbling about this run is that I often feel the same way about writing.

As Dorothy Parker said, "I hate writing, I love having written."

Most of my writing sessions aren't what I'd term "enjoyable".  I tend to identify with what George Fowler said: "Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

But there are days when I think, "I'm not hating this!"

Maybe it's because I'm not bleeding from my forehead, or simply that I can catch my breath. Or maybe it's just that it doesn't hurt.

While I've never experienced runner's high, I do believe in writer's high....that space where you're in flow, energized by your creativity. In those moments you believe you can reach ANY finish line you set your mind to...which is usually typing "THE END".

Tell me Killer Friends: What do YOU keep doing that you "hate"? Why do you keep at it?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

If It's Tuesday, It's Time for Random Fandom

Since it's my Tuesday for teasin' and I really don't have any of my own stuff to talk about, you all get to hear about another of my fangirl pleasures.

Today, it's Kristen Painter

Kristen was one of the first people I 'met' on my maiden steps into the blogosphere.  She was always kind and supportive, with a side dish of ass-whoopin' when I needed it.  Now she's a busy gal with a popular series, and I'm so happy for her I could pop. 

Anyway, Kristen is filled with awesomeness.  Her 'House of Comarre' series really should be getting more acclaim than it does.  I mean, a not too-too distant future setting with supernatural hotties, spicy romance, characters you can connect with and particularly wicked villains?  What's not to love?  I particularly love the interplay between the tormented hero, Mal, and the gutsy heroine, Chrysabelle.  Or the interplay between the ghost, Fiona, and the varcolai (werecat) she loves, Doc. 

And the world-building?  OMG, this woman can build worlds.

Plus, Ms. Painter really knows how to weave the romance together with the action and the suspense to make a rich tapestry of a novel... Hell, of a whole series of novels. 

I regret that while I bought her last book, Out For Blood, back in October, I didn't read it until this past weekend.  It was AWE-SOME.  On the upside, though, I only have to wait until the end of the month for her next book, Last Blood

If you like the paranormal with a definite 'not your mama's vampire' vibe... If you're willing to set aside a lot of what you thought you knew about popular supernatural species... If you're into spicy and thoughtful and kickass novels... Go get yourself copies of all of these books today, and then wait impatiently for July 30th.  I know I'll be waiting for that sucker to hit my Kindle.

Monday, July 15, 2013

City, Country, Mountains, Flatlands, Dry, Steamy...

I've lived and traveled pretty much all over this awesome country of ours.  It's pretty huge and incredibly varied.  Right now, I live in the woods...

The view off my deck
 But I've lived in big cities like Flint, Tallahassee and Salt Lake City.  I've also lived in small cities like Grand Blanc, MI and smaller cities like Yuma, CO. 

In Utah, I lived with an awesome view of the Wasatch Mountains.

View off our apartment's deck - South Jordan, UT - complete with rainbow and Kid
I grew up in the lush farmlands of Michigan.  In Colorado, I lived in the flatlands.  In Florida, I lived about a half hour from the ocean.

Me at Cape San Blas, FL 2002
I've been in places so dry I was constantly battling dust, and in places so wet I'd walk outside and feel drenched on a sunny day.

I've seen urban sprawl where it feels like you drive for hours amidst buildings and homes.  I've actually driven for hours where it felt like I'd never see a home or a building again.  (Can ya say Wyoming?  Knew ya could.)  I've been to Vegas and Atlantic City, New Orleans and NYC, Atlanta and St. Louis.  I've also seen Danbury, CT and Rockford, IL and a bunch of other towns you've probably never heard of.  Hell, I've been to Transylvania, Louisiana for petesakes.  (Hell, I've been to Hell, MI.)

All that and I've only ever been out of the country once - and never off the continent.  But then again, with everything there is to see and experience here, I don't really feel the need.

Where have you been?  Where are you now?  Where would you like to go?   Where do you like best?  And what's the weirdest named town you've been to?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fabulous Photo Friday -- Turtle Crossing

Last year, in the middle of the Atlantic City Half Marathon, I stopped to snap this pic.

I'm super-slow. I'm always what's called a "back of the pack" racer, but according to Long Suffering, who was waiting a quarter of a mile or so from the start to snap my pic as I started the race, I started that particular 13.1 mile trek dead last. (Since I'd spent most of my training for that race injured, I started last so as not to get in anyone's way....well that and the fact I have a fear of being stampeded to death...)

When I saw this halfway through the race, I decided it was a sign I should pick up my pace. :-)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheer up, lonely people!

Today is Cheer Up the Lonely day.  Even if you're not lonely, we'd be happy to cheer you....just tell us what you'd like to hear.

What cheers you up?

JB: Coffee, my pets, and really bad 80's music are the things that really cheer me up. (But a nice review or a great piece of fan mail have been known to make my day!)

B.E.: Funny pictures cheer me up... Baby animals, pretty birds... a really awesome book.  Snuggling with my honey.  Talking with my mom.  Goofing off with my kid (although it's been a long time since we could do that - what with her living all the way up in MI).  I'm a pretty happy person most of the time, I guess.

And if none of that works, try this:

Hard to be unhappy and lonely when you can look at really cute bunnies.

Tell us Killer Friends: Are you lonely? Do you need cheering? What cheers YOU up?

(did the bunny work?)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Relationship With Readers

Yesterday a reader thanked me for "entertaining the world" which was a very nice thing for her to say.

It also got me thinking about the worries I have as a writer: Am I holding the reader's interest? Is this entertaining? Will this make a reader laugh/cry/be scared?

I can't speak for other writers, but I feel that I owe it to readers to keep them entertained. Before you go thinking I'm being all altruistic, let me make it clear that I expect the same from the writers I read. That's the relationship between readers and writers and when the balance gets thrown off, it turns into a bad relationship...the kind where you walk away and never speak again. Or in this case, the kind where a reader puts a book down and never reads anything by the author again.

I've been holding up my end of the relationship as a reader for way longer than I have as a writer. I entered into a covenant with everyone from Maurice Sendak to L. Frank Baum to Judy Blume and they consistently held up their end of our unspoken bargain.

As I got older, I looked for different things from these relationships: glimpses of other worlds, peeks into  psyches, emotional truths I wasn't brave enough to embrace myself. I lived vicariously through characters, soaking in their life lessons until they became my own.

Now that I'm a writer, those are the very things I worry about. Am I delivering these experiences to my readers? Am I keeping them entertained?

Most of the time I'll never know, but I'm grateful for those who take the time to write and let me know I'm keeping them entertained.

Tell me Killer Friends: Who are your most satisfying reading relationships with?

Right now I'd say mine are with the likes of  Sedaris, Lutz, Gladwell, Stevens.... the list just goes on and on.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Today's Tuesday Teaser is a cover and blurb (which I haven't yet finalized) 

(If you're keeping track, this is the fifth story in the Neurotic Hitwoman series!)

When her apartment building is blown to smithereens, bumbling hitwoman Maggie Lee is forced to move back into the Bed & Breakfast she grew up in.

Living with her three meddling aunts is bad enough, but it just so happens that the B&B is also occupied by a U.S. Marshal, an FBI agent, her old friend Zeke who’s on a mysterious mission, and a woman who claims she can see dead people. These aren’t the kinds of roomies Maggie wants to spend time with, considering that in order to pay for her niece’s medical care she supplements her income by killing people.

Maggie avoids arrest and deals with a crazier-than-usual home life while trying to track down exactly who is blowing up the holdings of various crime families. To make matters worse, she’s walking a precarious tightrope between keeping her mobster bosses happy and protecting her murder mentor (and almost lover) Patrick Mulligan.

Aided by the warped predictions of her semi-psychic friend; her sarcastic, demanding, talking lizard; and an always ravenous, dyslexic Doberman; Maggie juggles keeping secrets, unraveling riddles and protecting those she loves.

Can she do it all? Or will she suffer yet another unspeakable loss?

Tell me Killer Friends: Have you ever had a roomie from hell? Do you have favorite character from the Hitwoman series that you'd like to room with?