Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Wrap Up

This year we decided to use the last day of the year as a kind of look back at what happened during 2013...

JB:  Usually I do a review of the goals I posted in January, but not this year, because, frankly I wiped out on almost all of them. There were a myriad of reasons for my failure, just a few were:
           
Self-publishing, while an exciting adventure, is harder than I’d expected
It was an emotionally challenging year
I was physically ill for an extended period of time
I had to deal with some life-changing personal issues
I moved to another state


But before you go thinking the year was a total wash for me, some great things happened too.

I published

And NEARLY DEPARTED was published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

(While I didn’t reach my goals, four books in a year isn’t too shabby.)

I hit the Amazon Best Seller lists multiple times with multiple books, which was SUCH a thrill.

A television writer/producer approached me about pitching The Neurotic Hitwoman books as a TV series. What a ride THAT’S been.

I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some amazing fans.

I’ll be sure to post my goals for 2014 in January. Now that my personal life is in a different place, I’m hoping I can concentrate on my professional goals and have an amazing year.

B.E.:  I don't usually do these kinds of wrap-ups.  Whatever happens in the twelve months prior has happened.  But since this was my idea, I suppose I should take a moment to figure out what the heck happened in 2013.

Let's see...  Long stories short, here's my year in review:

-  January: Hubs announces his retirement and the home search begins in earnest.
-  February: First two house inspections comes back horrible.  We move the Kid to Michigan. I start writing a new book.
-  March: Third house comes back clean, but after some difficulties with a realtor, we back out.  Fourth house is the charm.  Loads of packing, cleaning, and goodbyes.
-  April: We move from CO to MO, and begin getting our home in order.
-  May:  Settled in, I get back to work, deciding against finishing new book and opting to edit a forgotten manuscript for publication.  Landscaping begins.
-  June: Editing, landscaping, more settling in.
-  July: blur of heavy-duty landscaping work in the summer heat.
-  August: Familial drama abounds.  I finish editing and decide not to pursue publication.
-  September: blur
-  October: More landscaping
-  November: NaNoWriMo
-  December: I'm sitting here trying to figure out where my career is headed and what 2014 will bring.

I wish I had some publication news for all y'all.  I wish I could say I won the lottery, too, but that was some other lucky saps.

ETA: JB reminded me that I forgot to say anything about my submission process with Harper Voyager.  I submitted along with 4800+ other people in October of 2012, and as of December 2013, I'm one of the last 298 still alive in the process.

How did 2013 treat all of you?  Have any good news to share?  Or was it all just a blur?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Experimenting in the Lab

...or my kitchen.  Hey, it's the holiday season.  And since I'm not using my creative efforts to write, I figure creating things in the kitchen is better than nothing. 

So, here's what I created over the weekend out of ingredients I had laying around the cupboards. 

Gooey Fudgy Layer Bars

1 packet of chocolate graham crackers (crushed)
1 stick butter or margarine (1/2 cup)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup honey graham cracker crumbs
3/4 bag of mini-marshmallows
1/2 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F.  Using the stick of butter, liberally butter a 9 x 13" pan.  Take the rest of the stick and melt it in the microwave.  In a small bowl, pour the melted butter into the chocolate graham cracker crumbs.  Stir until combined.  Pour into cake pan and press flat so the crumb mixture covered the bottom of the pan.  Cover the layer with the shredded coconut.  Pour the condensed milk over the coconut.  Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the condensed milk.  Sprinkle half the honey graham crumbs over that layer.  Cover the whole thing with mini-marshmallows (it's okay if some of the last layer peeks through, but not too much.  Sprinkle the semi-sweet chips over the marshmallows.  Sprinkle the remainder of the honey graham crumbs over it all.  (You can also sprinkle a little extra coconut here for color and crunch, if you like.)  Throw it in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the marshmallows are puffy and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes.  Run a knife all the way around the pan to loosen the marshmallow goo from the sides.  Let sit until it's room temperature, cut it into whatever sized bars you like and serve. 

Very rich and gooey stuff. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fab Photo Friday





This is Mrs. Cardinal, stopping by the feeder on a snowy morning.  (The white flecks are blowing snow.)  We ended up with about a half-inch that day. 

Wherever you are, stay warm and safe. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Did You Get?

The day after Xmas is not an official holiday or anything, but it should be - like Whadja Get Day or something.  Did you get anything good over the holiday season?  What's your favorite prezzie of all time?  Are you returning anything?

B.E.:  Since Hubs and I bought each other a house this year, we went minimalist for gift-giving at the holidays.  I got some books and a Swiffer Wetjet.  Hubs got three new pairs of jeans.  Not exciting, but it suited us. 

JB: Like B.E. it wasn't an exciting year gift-wise. Since I recently moved into a new home, I received quite a few small appliances and housewares. Practical, but appreciated.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

It occurred to me this morning that today was my day to post a teaser.  Well, I got nothing, so I'll just wish you all a Happy Day-Before and let the teaser be wondering what you're going to get from Santa tonight.

I already got my prezzies.  =op

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reading Goals

As we approach the end of another year, it's time to think about what we've accomplished in the year gone by.  When the year started Hubs and I had already planned to make a major shift in our situation, so when the time came to set a reading goal for myself, I aimed low.  Initially I planned on reading 50 books in 2013.

Those plans came to fruition, but the idea that I wouldn't have much time to read didn't pan out the way I feared.  By mid year, I was upping my goal to 75 books.  Then I upped it again to 100.  As 100 approached, I upped it again to 110. 

As of last night, I'm 4 books away from the last goal.  With eight days to go, it should be a slam dunk.  But since I only read 90 books last year, I'm ahead either way. 

I think part of the reason I had an easier time achieving my goal than I thought was my Kindle.  That sucker made reading so much easier. Of the 106 books I've read so far, only 28 of them were hardcopies.  That's a major shift from printed material for me.  Which is kinda sad in a way.  But happy in a way because I get to read more books.

Do you set reading goals?  How's yours look this year?  Do you read more print books or ebooks?

Oh, and if you keep track of your books on Goodreads, feel free to friend me.  =o)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Go Caroling Day

Tomorrow is 'Go Caroling Day'.  Ever been caroling?  What's your favorite carol?  And if you don't celebrate Christmas, what's your favorite song to sing out loud?

JB: I've never been caroling. I'm a big fan of Handel's Messiah (I guess because a high school choir teacher made us sing it.) and I love a good rendition of Carol of the Bells.

B.E.: I've never gone caroling or even had carolers show up at my place.  Growing up out in the country made that problematic. Gads, do people even go caroling anymore?  I love Silent Night and O Holy Night the best, but most of the old favorites will do.  And I love to sing out loud - but only in my house.  ;o)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Things I learned in 2013

We're doing an End of Year Wrap Up here later this month, but I've been thinking about the past year a lot so I thought I'd share some things I learned. Most of these aren't "new" but, like most lessons I need to learn them again and again.

1) My friends are awesome.

Sure I already knew that, but this year, when I really and truly needed their love and support and laughter, they came through in ways I'd never have imagined. (While I'm not going to list them here and put them on the spot, I do want to send out a special thank you to B.E. who picked up the slack for me here a TON of times. She's a great blogging partner!) I'm so grateful to them all!

2) Do what scares the living crap out of you.

In 2013 that was entering the self-publishing world. It terrified me. It still does. But now that I've done it, I'm glad that I'm here.

3) Pay attention and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. I had a couple of major opportunities this year.

One was the chance to have NEARLY DEPARTED published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. My process for ending up there, was a roundabout route…which I only started down because I paid attention to something former Killer Chick Jennifer Colgan told me about. (Thanks, Jen!)

Another major opportunity arose when a television writer/producer expressed in interest in bringing the Neurotic Hitwoman Series to television. (We're still working on it and I'd love to share the latest exciting development, but then Maggie would have to kill you…or Patrick…or Mags & Patrick.)

4) Fans are fantastic!  (MY fans are the most fantasticest!)

You guys, especially the ones who take time out of your busy days to tell me you've enjoyed the latest book or just take a moment to interact on Facebook or Twitter, make my life!  You don't know the joy you bring me and there's no way to thank you for it, but I'll say THANK YOU!!!!! anyway.  ;-)

5) Your gut is rarely wrong.

I admit it, there were times in the past year I ignored what my gut was telling me. I let fear override my instincts and I regret every instance.

There were times when I went with my gut, embraced it, did exactly what it said (otherwise there'd be only two Hitwoman books) and the payoff has been tremendous.

Don't listen to fear. Listen to your gut.


I'd love to say that I'll never have to revisit these life lessons, but I know it isn't true. I'll still end up taking my friends for granted, I'll do something because it's "safe" instead of scary, I'll miss opportunities because I'm not paying attention, I'll think my fans don't like me anymore, and I'll ignore my gut. Hopefully I'll just relearn my lesson quicker next time around.

Tell me Killer Friends: What did YOU learn (or relearn) in 2013?


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stealing Justice Cover Reveal

Today's sneak peak comes to us courtesy of USA Today Best Selling Authors Misty Evans and Adrienne Giordano.

 
If you love Scandal, you’ll love Stealing Justice.

Justice “Grey” Greystone was fired from the FBI for insubordination. Now the FBI wants him to use his renegade skills to take down a serial killer who’s above the law. To trap the Lion, Grey will need to send the perfect woman undercover.

Sydney Banfield runs a women’s shelter and bends the law daily to help victims of abuse escape their painful lives. Three of the women she’s recruited for government jobs have become victims of the Lion. If Syd has her way, the vicious killer will never touch another woman again.

Grey and Sydney set a trap—with Sydney as the sexy bait—but the Lion adds a complex twist to his homicidal agenda. With Sydney’s life on the line, Grey must race against the clock to catch a killer who’s as unstoppable as he is evil.

Monday, December 16, 2013

You Know... That One Book... With the Statue on the Cover?

Not too awfully long ago, I discovered the Facebook place where you can keep track of the books you've read (and the movies you've watched and the TV shows...)  It's been a lot of fun inputting all the books I've read, but I know I've read way more than the 941 I've got listed there now.

There's no way in blazes I'm going to remember any of the romance titles I've read through the course of my life.  Most of them didn't stick with me long enough to even describe the book to the internet so I could come up with a title to input.  (Which reminds me, I need to input all of Janet Dailey's Americana series - because I know I read all those.)

Sometimes the books FB suggests based on other books I've read helps.  Sometimes, though, I know I read a book but for the life of me I can't remember the title or the author or the main character names.  Bits of it stuck with me, but using bits to try and coax a title out of the world wide web is hit and miss.

For instance, when I was a teen, I read this fantasy series.  The cover of one of the books had two women on it - one cowering a little and the other standing proudly before a big ugly statue.  I don't remember enough of the books otherwise to give me any clue as to which book it was.  :shrug:

I know I read them, dammit, but I can't add them to my list. 

How about you?  Ever read a book that stuck in your head but you couldn't remember the title to save yourself?  Ever tried to do a list of all the books you've read in your life? 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fab Photo Friday - Snow Birds

Hi all!

This photo is from last Friday when this whole area was getting slammed with a winter storm.  You know, I always feel bad for the critters when crappy weather hits.  I know they're built for it, but still...  Lucky for these two, the humans who live here remembered to fill the bird feeder before the storm hit. 

White-throated sparrow and female cardinal

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Brief Statement From KC

Hello.  This is the Killer Chicks blog - you can call me KC.  I don't know what is up with those two ladies.  They got busy and totally forgot about me today.  Life intervenes, or some such nonsense.  Maybe they'll get their acts together by the end of the year.  I know I'm ready to kick 2013 to the curb.

What about you?  Looking forward to 2014 or not quite ready for it yet?


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Revisiting Lost Passions

Last weekend I attended a craft fair and spent a good deal of time admiring some pottery. When the artist walked over, I told him his work was beautiful.

 His response was, "It's getting there." 

It wasn't the answer I was expecting and it caught me off-guard.

Because the potter had to be at least 70.

 Intrigued, I asked him how long he'd been at it.

 His answer kind of blew me away, which is why I'm sharing it here. He told me that he'd first taken it up in the 60's and then he'd become a teacher and a husband and a dad and gotten too busy for it. A few years ago he retired and started up again and found he still loves it. How cool is that?

  Tell me Killer Friends: Have you ever revisited a lost passion? How did it turn out? Is there something in your past you'd like to revisit?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spring River Valley: A Year of Romance

I have to confess. I like epilogues. I always enjoy that
little glimpse into the future at the end of a book that shows you what happens
to the characters later on – it sort of reinforces that all the trials and
tribulations you’ve been through with them during the course of their story
weren’t for nothing, and happy-at-the-end-of-the-book really does turn into
happily ever after.


You might be wondering what this has to do with my 12-book
contemporary series,
Spring River Valley: A Year of Romance, since none of
those stories has an epilogue…but in essence, one of the reasons I wanted to
write a series set in a small town where characters from one book would be
popping up in others, was to create a epilogue feel with the subsequent stories
so readers can get that glimpse into the future that I love.

If you read all 12 stories in the series, [and I hope you
do!] you’ll run into couples from other books and get a peek into how they’re
doing after their unique love story begins. I’m hoping to carry that feeling
through next year when one lucky couple will walk down the aisle in Book 13: A
WEDDING IN DECEMBER. Right now, even I don’t know which couple that will be –
I’m asking readers to tell me by voting in
the poll on my website. So if you
love epilogues as much as I do, you’ll actually have a chance to choose whose
love story you want to see continued in a full-length novel.



 



the Spring River Valley Series

is available at these retailers:











Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Cards

As I sit here Sunday morning, my freshly-printed Christmas card list stares at me from its spot on the corner of my desk.  This year, I have thirty-two names.  The first fifteen are family members.  My mom, his mom, my siblings, his siblings, the nieces and nephews, and my remaining aunt and uncle (Mom's brother and sister - Dad's are all gone now).

The next section are people I've never met in person, but who I love well enough to send cards to at this time of year.

Then comes the list of new acquaintances - neighbors in our new world.  And finally, the list of people in our old world who still have meaning to our lives.

Over the years, the list changes.  I used to send cards to my cousins - until I realized I wasn't getting cards back from them, so why bother.  Old friends drop away; new friends jump on.  I had a friend in Michigan I sent cards to faithfully over the years.  He stopped sending them first, so I followed suit. I used to send one to my favorite doctor from back in the accident days (a holiday neutral one because he's Jewish, but his staff celebrate Christmas).  I might still send him one this year because he might like to know that all his hard work paid off and I'm still alive.

This year, I've been wondering if I should send one to my estranged brother who I only recently started contact again with via Facebook.  (And whether the act of carding him will tick off my sister who was already ticked off that I accepted his friend request.)  I sometimes wonder if I should gather all the addresses of my father's side of the family (who stopped contacting my mom after he died) and carpet bomb them with holiday cheer.  These were the people of my childhood.  I remember good times with them.  It's just been decades since I saw any of them, and however-many years since they fell out of contact.

I like sending Christmas cards.  The thought that somewhere someone will open a piece of mail I chose for them, and maybe smile a little.  Hang it on their wall with the other cards where it can bring a little cheer.  It makes me feel good.  Sure, it can be a bit of a pain in the buns signing 30+ cards, addressing them all, and trotting them down to the post office.  But in the end, it's worth it, I think.

And then, I get cards coming back to me that I can open and smile and hang on my wall where they will bring me a little cheer.  The circle of holiday goodness.  =o)

What about you?  Do you send cards? Who's on your list?  If you could send a card to anyone who's not on your list, who would you send one to?

Lastly, here's a challenge for you.  Pick one person you haven't sent a card to in years, and send them one.  Just cuz.


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Picture OR a thousand words

I'm setting this post up on Thursday night and getting ready to watch at least some of the live version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Since I'm feeling nostalgic, I thought I'd share the image that pops into my mind whenever I hear any of the songs.
That's the album we had when I was a kid. Did you watch the remake? Do you remember record album covers?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

National Brownie Day

Sunday is National Brownie Day and we're curious Killer Friends, how do you prefer your brownies?

With or without nuts? With or without caramel? With or without cheesecake? With or without chocolate chunks?

Tell us:

JB: I prefer mine warm and gooey, right out of the oven. No extra chocolate, nuts are okay, but not necessary, and a dash of chili pepper can make them sublime.

B.E.:  OMG, brownies...  I underbake mine a little so they're perfectly gooey.  No cake brownies for me.  And extra chocolately, please.  No nuts, no frosting, no nothin'.  Even better if they're warm and I can slap some ice cream on top.  With hot fudge.  And caramel sauce...  :drool:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Do you have a Mission Statement?

I know you probably imagine that I've been lounging in bed and eating bonbons as I've celebrated the release of NEARLY DEPARTED (huge thank you to those that helped it hit those best seller lists!) but I've actually been working on my business plan for 2014.

As part of that, I've been trying to come up with is a Mission Statement.

Just to be clear, here's how Wikipedia (THE most definitive site ever...excuse me while I have my tongue removed from my cheek) defines a Mission Statement:


"A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a companyorganization or person, its reason for existing.
The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides "the framework or context within which the company's strategies are formulated." It's like a goal for what the company wants to do for the world."



This is what I've currently got:


I write entertaining, fast reads full of humor and unexpected twists…or really twisted bad guys.

Whatchya think?

I thought it was pretty accurate and succinct. 

But then I made the mistake of researching Mission Statements and read those of Ben & Jerry's and Starbuck's. I quit after reading those two, because for one thing I felt inadequate and for another I was getting hungry.

So I went to Sharpen the Saw or something like that and looked at Stephen Covey's advice about writing a personal mission statement.  But frankly I haven't read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in like 20 years and all of the terminology gave me a headache (nothing some B&J and Starbuck's couldn't cure.)

Then it occurred to me, I should ask YOU.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you have a personal mission statement (or maybe a mantra?) Does your family have one? Do you have a business plan? Do you have a favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor? What do you think of my statement?  Have you read Nearly Departed yet?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Christmas Moon by Silver James

Okay, I've read this book and it is totally awesome.  The latest in the Moonstruck series, Silver James gives us her latest installment for the holidays: Christmas Moon.  The Wolves are hard at work doing a hostage rescue from some really nasty drug dealers, while their ladies are trying to plan Christmas for the kids.  And when the guys get into more trouble than maybe than can handle, the celebration has to get put on hold.  Their Wolves need them. 

With military precision, the Wolves marked a landing zone on a cleared area with enough room for rotors to miss buildings and wires. The first chopper landed in a downdraft that scattered dust and rocks as a team of eight soldiers disembarked. The Wolves tried to put all the wives and kids on board. Each woman refused unless accompanied by her mate. None of the Wolves wanted to be first.

“Danny! On board with Sally and Grace Marie. That’s an order.” Hannah had her Major Bitch face on and the younger Wolf wasn’t about to argue. Rudy, Izzy, Antoine, Jacey, and Nate followed. Captain Valentine signaled the craft to take off.

Two of the soldiers headed inside the church to relieve Lightfoot in the tower. A few moments later, he joined the group next to the LZ.

Once the first bird cleared, a second chopper landed and eight more soldiers hit the ground. Mac cast a questioning look in Valentine’s direction. The Blackhawks usually carried a crew of four with an additional eleven assault troops.

“It’s Christmas Eve. We didn’t bring full crews.” The captain had to shout over the noise of the rotors.

Mac motioned everyone to climb on board. Sean helped Annie and Cody in, and then turned to assist Liz while Lightfoot held their toddler. Once she was settled, Michael passed Micah to her and climbed in, closely followed by Sean. Amy and Harjo boarded while Mac gave Liam a boost up.
Hannah followed her son and Valentine motioned for Mac to climb in. The two men boarded almost side-by-side. As soon as everyone was strapped in, the captain gave the go order. One of the crew passed earphones to everyone, Sean and Mac first.

The chopper banked sharply and for a moment, they got a bird’s eye view of the one-sided battle.

Liam nudged his dad's leg. "It's like a Die Hard movie."

It's tense and action packed while being warm and touching.  Definitely a must-read for the holidays, and keeper on my Kindle.  =o)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Ambushed Me

Monday?? Ack!  Where did Monday come from all of a sudden?  Holy cow.  Came at me out of nowhere.  Ambushed me. 

I got nothin' today.  Nada, bubkus, zilch.  No pretty pictures.  No recipes.  No witty words.  No wisdoms.  The well... as they say... is empty. 

So, do a girl a solid, and tell me what you would write about if you had a blog post to do at the last minute?   If you're empty, too, then just commiserate with me in the comments.