Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mutt's Day

Today is Mutt's Day, so we're celebrating the mutts we know and love.  Come on, tell us a story of your favorite mutt.

JB: How can I pick just one?? I've loved a lot of mutts in my time.  I'll just talk about the ones I currently share my life with.

There's Teddy:

He's a Bichon Frise mix who was adopted directly from my former vet when he was five….that was nine years ago!

and then there's Smudge:

A new addition, she's a Terrier/Schnauzer mix.

B.E.:  I don't think I've ever owned a pure breed anything.  My favorite mutt was the dog we had when I was growing up.  The story goes that one parent was a purebred German Shepherd and the other was a purebred Golden Retriever.  The male jumped the fence to visit the female and Voila! a litter of puppies was born.  He was the best dog ever.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Give You Permission to Quit

When you’ve been writing and seeking publication for as long as I have, you meet a lot of other writers along your journey.  Some of them will be more successful than you. Some will be less successful than you. Some will stick it with it doggedly until their dying breath. And some will quit.

Some that quit will have been pretty successful by other writers’ standards. Some will quit because they had a romanticized notion of what being a writer is all about. (Don’t we all?) Some will quit because they don’t achieve what they set out to do. And some will quit because they realize that their energies are better spent elsewhere.

All of those are valid reasons to quit.

Not that anyone needs me to tell them that…or maybe they do.

We live in a culture where quitting (unless it’s smoking or drugs or alcohol) is frowned upon. We’ve always got to “win!” (whatever the hell that means).

So I’m telling you now: It’s okay to quit WHATEVER your reason may be.

(And it’s okay to quit just about ANYTHING, not just writing: a hobby you’ve outgrown, a relationship, a job…anything.)

Also keep in mind that most quitting isn’t necessarily permanent. You may return to it down the road when your life circumstances have changed.

On the flip side, I find it impossible to tell someone they could think about quitting even though I’m absolutely positive they’re never going to find the success they’re after.

Again, not just writers… everybody to dieters, to people in abusive relationships, to Girl Scout Leaders. (But hey, if you’re a Girl Scout Leader who’s considering quitting, could you wait until after you’ve scored some Thin Mints for me?)

I happen to call a number of quitters my friend and here’s the secret side of quitting that no one ever talks about:

When you quit pouring your energy into what isn’t right for you, you free up the energy to figure out what IS right for you.

Here’s an example:  When I first met my friend L. twenty years ago, she thought she wanted to be a writer. After a couple of years she quit writing and is now an AMAZING photographer.

When she quit, she won.

Tell me Killer Friends: What do you think of quitting? Do you know anyone who’s won by quitting?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Old Stuff

Since I can't leave a teaser on my new super secret project, and any teaser I leave for the book I'm rewriting would have spoilers, I thought I'd step into the wayback machine and drop a bit from my second book - the 2006 'Final' draft (which ended up being not so final).  This Prologue is one I really liked, but also one that I decided to snip away.  (Although, I did have an agent read this and ask me if I ever considered writing non-fiction - which was the nicest thing he had to say since the rest of his rejection letter called my book 'improbible'*.)

Anyway, here's the beginning of Nature of Destruction...


It has happened before.
Six hundred thousand years ago, death and destruction rained from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, from the plains of Saskatchewan to the Gulf of Mexico.  Seventy-five thousand years ago the sun disappeared beneath a haze of ash, killing the majority of the human race in the ensuing global winter.  Fifteen hundred years ago, the most notorious of human eras—The Dark Ages—began in a shroud of gray volcanic dust.
Early in the 19th century, the center of a tiny island in the Dutch West Indies swelled and trembled and burst.  Fiery boulders fell from the sky; ash blanketed both land and ocean for hundreds of miles as it spewed into the atmosphere.  More than ninety thousand people died as the sky became clogged with soot—soot so thick that the year of 1816 was to become known as ‘The Year Without a Summer’. 
Later in that same century, a mountain rising from the depths of the East Indies exploded and then collapsed. The sea rose twelve feet that day, pushed up suddenly as tons of rock dropped into its murky depths.  Thundering walls of water swept toward Java, Sumatra, Bali; tens of thousands drown as the ocean broke over their homes and villages. 
In each instance a caldera has erupted, and in each instance the world has born the brunt of its destruction.
So far, many of these types of events occurred before the ascension of man; so far, they have all occurred in sparsely populated areas.  In the scheme of human disaster, these events remain insignificant.  In perspective, the death toll has been minimal.  But still, the tiny native children who shivered in fear as Tambora thundered down upon them thought it more than minimal.  The tribal women who screamed their last breaths as Krakatau choked the sound away considered it from a different perspective.  The peasants who endured The Dark Age’s endless years of starvation and suffering certainly thought it significant.
They all must have prayed for whatever god they knew to make it stop.  They must have offered sacrifices and tributes to appease the wrath that cascaded upon them.  But even amidst their fruitless prayers and hopeless offerings, they must have believed in their hearts that nothing could stop nature. 
In the mountains of western Wyoming, a caldera lays in a fitful sleep—churning and gurgling and smoking like some great evil dragon—and mankind dances around it as if it has been caged for their amusement.  The sparkling geysers and the boiling mud are merely an interesting diversion right now, but the dragon is bound by no man’s chains and it has overslept by twenty thousand years.  When it awakens, no man will think it amusing, and no man with think of it as a mere diversion.
Pompeii was a firecracker.  Mount Saint Helens, a birthday candle.  When Yellowstone makes up its mind to blow, the people in its path will wish they’d been at Hiroshima instead.
Will they be praying on some sprawling ranch in Montana?  Will they be screaming in some sparkling penthouse in Denver?  Will they be choking under a layer of ash on the bustling streets of Houston?
Perhaps nothing can be done to stop nature.  Or perhaps, just maybe, something can.
It has happened before.  Perhaps it doesn’t have to happen again.

Okay, so not necessarily my best work, but remember, this is from 8 years ago.  I've learned a lot since then.  ;o)

* the spelling error was his but it still amuses me after 8 years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Self-Published Books

Okay, Killer Friends, I'd like to do a little research today, if you'll bear with me. 

If you're here, I assume you like to read.  Since you like to read, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that some of you have read at least some self-published books.  My question today is about your perception of self-published books in general, and your experience with self-published books specifically.

Do you think self-published stories, in general, are just as good as traditionally published stories?  Are they worse in general?  Better?  (Not talking here about the printing quality or the proofreading quality - just the quality of the stories.)

Now, talk to me about the quality of the printing and proofing (if they're hardcopy) or the editing and proofing (if they're ebooks). 

Does your perception of a self-published book go up if you have to pay for it or go down if it's free?  Or do you tend to treat those books you pay more for with a harsher eye - like if a book's got typos, are you more irritated if you paid 7.99 for it than you would be if it was free?

Since my book budget went to hell, I've been reading more free books than paid-for books, and of the paid-for books, about half of those have been ebooks vs hardcopy.  (With ebooks being half self and half traditional and hardcopy being about 90% traditional.)  Having said that, I'm really not finding the quality of the stories to be any different for self than traditional - most are good, some are dogs (which is the nature of reading, I guess.) 

As for the quality of the actual book on a self-published hardcopy versus a traditional hardcopy, I've found that I'm more likely to get a book with flaws from a traditional publisher.  As in, I've bought 'published' novels where the cover fell off while I was reading it the first time or the print was lighter on some pages than others or there was a big glob of ink in the middle of a page or, in one case, ten pages were missing out of the middle.  I haven't encountered that yet with self-published hardcopies yet. 

Now with editing... well, you can tell which self-published books haven't been seen by an editor and which have - pretty much within the first chapter.  I do run into those more frequently with self-publishing than with traditional publishing - usually when the author is someone I'm totally not familiar with and one that hasn't been recommended to me.  It's really rare these days, but it does happen.  On the other side of the chasm, traditional publishing isn't immune from typos, misspellings, and mistakes either.

I admit it.  I have a higher level of expectation when I have to shell out good money for a book.  And yes, I do hold traditional publishing to a higher standard.  They're the ones with the editors and copyeditors, etc.  I also tend to expect more from a self-published book I've paid for than one I got for free.  Not that I still don't get irritated with a bad self-published free novel, but again, it's rare.

Well, those are my opinions on the subject.  What are yours?  (And please, no specifics.  I'm not trying to call people out here.  I'm just trying to get a feel for the industry from the people who know - as in you, the readers.) 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fab Photo Friday - Funny Fawn

Is it just me or is he all like "Hey, Mom!  Sniff my toes!"


Thursday, July 24, 2014

National Anti-Boredom Month

Yep, July is National Anti-Boredom Month.  What do you do for fun?  (Since we're pretty much all readers here, we'll make that a given for all comments - unless you really want to talk about reading.)

JB: I daydream. A lot. I people watch. A lot. I play with my dogs. A lot. I'm a fan of music and movies. I'm big on long walks, quick bike rides, and watching the sun rise and set. I'm really big on dreaming dreams and making lists of how to accomplish them.

B.E.:  I don't know how much fun I'm having, but I know life is rarely boring.  I watch nature for the most part when I'm not reading or writing.  The birds, the bugs, the deer.  I also garden and work on improving our home.  I'm pretty excited this week because the crepe myrtle I thought I'd killed is getting ready to bloom. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Choosing a title

I'm currently struggling with coming up with a title of my second Matchmaker Mystery.

As a rule, titles are not something I excel at.

I DID come up with Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman and couldn't believe it when the publisher let me keep it.

I didn't come up with Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman…that was their idea.

I also didn't name The First Victim. (I called it Her Nightmare.)

I did name The Mutt and the Matchmaker.

Titles are important. Like book covers, a good title should convey the tone of a book and entice readers to check it out.

My process is to brainstorm a list of words that might work in a title. Then I make up a list of possible titles. Then I cut the list down to the best possibilities. Finally I send my list out to my trusted advisors (one MUST have trusted advisors).

Like writing a book, coming up with a title is a complicated process, but coming up with a good one is worth it.

Tell me Killer Friends: What are some of your favorite titles?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Excerpt

I'm so disgusted with my current WIP that I can't even mine a scene from it, instead I'll share this one from FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN

You just know it’s going to be a bad day when you’re stuck at a red light and Doomsday is breathing down your neck.
In this particular instance Doomsday happens to be a seventy-pound Doberman pinscher. Instead of having the voice of doom, she sounds an awful lot like an air-headed, bimbo-y blonde. “Way that! Way that!”
Did I mention that Doomsday has really lousy grammar?
“Not that way,” Severus Snape drawled from the front passenger seat. Okay, not really Snape, but God … zilla, a talking brown anole lizard with an attitude to match his namesake.
Have you followed all this so far? The superior talking lizard is in the front passenger seat, the breathy Doberman is in the back, and I, Maggie Lee, am in the driver’s seat, even though it doesn’t feel as though I’m in control of this wild ride we’re on.
I know this whole thing sounds crazy. I know animals can’t talk, but ever since I was in a terrible car accident a month ago, I can understand them. Of course I haven’t mentioned this little side effect to anyone, because I’m afraid they’ll lock up my crazy ass in the nuthouse (hell, with my luck, they’d probably make me room with my mom, who’s a long-term resident), and I’ve just got too much to do to let that happen.
Which brings me to why God and Doomsday were arguing about which direction we were headed. I needed to kill someone at a wedding.
It’s a toss-up which I hate more: killing people or weddings.
Unfortunately, I’m getting pretty good at both.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Killed a Man Last Night

Okay, so we actually took the weekend off from working on the house

I mean, it wasn't like I spent the weekend laying around eating bonbons.  I didn't take the weekend off writing, just manual labor.  To that end, I killed a man last night.  Sure, I'd killed him before.  Heck, I've probably killed him at least three times by now.  He wasn't a good man, but he wasn't evil.  He was just stuck in bad situation of his own making and I guess karma caught up with him.  I feel sorry for his family, but since they never make an appearance in the book, I guess they really don't matter.  They only exist to make him somewhat sympathetic anyway.  Making him an old bachelor wouldn't have had the same impact.  Ya know?

Sometimes I kill a character off and it's somewhat cathartic for me.  Sort of a 'take THAT, stress and daily woes!' thing.  Last night's murder wasn't like that.  I guess I only really get that when I kill off bad guys.  Not that this dude didn't deserve what he got.  He was a dirty cop.  He was on the lam, living under an assumed identity after killing a man in suburban Detroit twenty-some years ago.  But he was trying to live a good life now.  (Hence, the wife and kids.)  And he did feel bad for what he'd done in the previous scenes.

Too bad for him, the people he did it for didn't appreciate his work.  So I had them kill him.  They had to.  They're bad dudes.  I'm still not quite sure who they work for, but trust me, they're bad.

So, tell me, Killer Friends, what makes you care whether a character gets murdered?  What makes you hate the ones who did it?

Friday, July 18, 2014

She's lucky she's cute

I shouldn't have named her Smudge.  DESTROYER would have been a better fit.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How do you take your dog?

Fittingly, July is National Hot Dog month.

We're wondering how you like yours:

B.E.: My ultimate hot dog is a Koegel Vienna.  Ah, the snapper (cuz they snap when you bite into them).  Unfortunately, you can pretty much only get them in Michigan or via mail order - which is totally too expensive.  As for toppings, my husband and I have been having this debate since we met.  He thinks hotdogs should never EVER have ketchup.  Mustard only with maybe relish, but never ketchup.  Says it's un-American.  But I like ketchup on my dogs.  And mustard.  And relish.  Sometimes cheese.  And every rare once in a while, Miracle Whip.  (But never on a Koegels.  That's sacrilege.)

JB: I'm pretty close to being a purist. Grilled hot dog in a bun with spicy brown mustard. (NOT yellow mustard. No sauerkraut. No relish. No catsup. No chili.)  Now I'm craving a hot dog (not a frankfurter, corn dog or soy dog)

So, Killer Friends, how do you take your dog?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jennifer Hillier author of THE BUTCHER kills me

I "met" Jennifer Hillier over four years ago (maybe five) when we both had the same agent and neither of us had yet sold a book.  We (along with the talented Joann Swanson, TIN LILY ) started Killer Chicks almost four years ago.

Back then we had grand plans for where our writing paths will take us. Jenny's has pretty much stayed the path. Her agent sold CREEP and she was off and running. That was followed by FREAK and her third book, THE BUTCHER was released yesterday. (Go, Jenny!)

I, on the other hand, have taken a totally different path. I'm no longer with that agent and instead of the dark thrillers I thought I was going to write, I've found a niche of sorts writing comedic crime novels with a touch of romance.  (I still dabble with dark thrillers, but I'm taking forever to finish one. My current agent is extraordinarily patient with me.)

So much in our lives has changed in the time we've known each other and yet we both keep plugging along. We both keep putting out books. We both marvel at the paths we've taken. We're both still chasing writing-related dreams.  We're even attending a writing conference together later this year. Funny how life works out.

From the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Creep and Freak and whom Jeffery Deaver has praised as a “top of the line thriller writer,” TheButcher is a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Former Killer Chick Joann Swanson tells us about her new release TIN LILY

It's a big release week for our former Killer Chicks: Yesterday Joann Swanson's TIN LILY was released and today Jennifer Hillier's THE BUTCHER is out.  Power to the chicks!

Hello, Killer Chicks Community! I’m Joann Swanson, a Killer Chick from long ago. It’s great to be back after so many years and I can’t thank Jen and B.E. enough for having me over.

I’ve just spent a little time looking at some of my old posts and this little snippet from December, 2010 caught my attention: “Everyone who pursues publication has a different path. Everyone. Mine may be meandering, but I suspect it isn’t any less satisfying than someone who travels a straighter, faster road. I learn at each delicious curve and isn’t that the point?”


When I wrote that, I had an agent, Tin Lily was on submission, and I was working with an editor at a publishing house to shape the book up for a potential acquisition.

Since then I have parted ways with my agent, created my own publishing company, and published the novel myself.

My path has definitely been a meandering one, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I don’t want to steal my own thunder, so I’m going to end the typing there and hand it over to a short video I created to commemorate Lily’s release.

Thanks for having me here at KC and if you like psychological thrillers, please check out Tin Lily!

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Admit It. I'm Boring.

I don't go clubbing.  I don't skydive.  I don't solve mysteries in my spare time in a small New England village.  I don't fight fires or tame tigers or find ancient artifacts while being chased by the Nazis. 

I read.  I work around the house.  I go for walks.  I birdwatch and spend time on the internet identifying bugs or trees or plants.

I've never searched for the cure for anything.  I've never studied meteorology or vulcanism or astronomy.  I have no background in engineering or physics or forensic science or... well, any of the hard sciences.

Yep.  Pretty boring gal here.

Know what that means, though?  It means my brain takes that boredom and occupies itself creating un-boring things. 

Because I don't do much of anything, I have the time to write those creations down.  I have the time to research the things I don't actually do so I can offer the world stories as believable as possible.

And of course, the things others find boring, I find pretty exciting.  Cuz that's how I roll.  ;o)

Are you boring?  What kinds of boring things do you do?  Where do you find your excitement?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fab Photo Friday

Hey all.  Well, it's summer and that means projects here at Sanderson Acre.  Let's just say we've been busy beavers here this year.  Tomorrow we'll finally get a chance to tackle this:

It's the mountain of pea gravel I've had in my driveway since April - long enough that tiny plants are starting to sprout on the mountainside.  This will be going underneath the deck and sun porch, and then in a border around the back of the house.

What kinds of projects are you working on this summer?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Your Turn to Vent

Since we're still in the midst of technical BS, we'll leave today for you all to talk.  Tell us about a time when you've head to deal with a technical difficulty.  Feel free to vent, but keep it clean and try not to defame anyone.  LOL

We'll add our own stuff when we get a chance.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


You caught having technical difficulties again. 

So let's just walk away like nothing happened.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Temporary Technical Difficulties

Today's Killer Chicks post has been delayed due to temporary technical difficulties.  Please enjoy this video of babies laughing at dogs while you wait for us to return to normal*.

*Or as normal as we ever are.

Monday, July 7, 2014

B.E.'s Guide to Internet Speak

Hey all!  I'm sure you've seen something like this at some during your internet travels, but I'd like to share what I mean when I use emoticons and acronyms...

=o) - I like that.
=oD - I like that a lot.
;o) - I got your meaning and I liked it.  OR I'm being sarcastic, joking around, or trying to be funny.

OMG - when I type this I am in fact thinking 'Oh my god'.  I am never thinking oh em gee.  In fact, people who say 'oh em gee' out loud are kind of a pet peeve of mine.

lol - you're a little funny
LOL - you're funny
ROFL - you're a lot funny
LMAO - I rarely use this because my butt is not any smaller.
ROFLMAO - You're killing me.

BTW - I forgot to tell you something or you should already know something (i.e. btw, your butt is on fire.)
FYI - hey, I thought you should take note of this
YMMV - I experienced this, but you may not have the same experience I did.
FWIW - I'm expressing an opinion you might not agree with or advice you might not take

brb - I need a cigarette or I have to feed the cat
bbl - I have to walk the cat or I have to cook dinner or something that make take more than a few minutes
brb ggp - I'll return shortly because I have to use the facilities

TTYL - talk to you later (probably in the same day)
TTYS - talk to you later but not sure exactly when (probably not the same day)
TTYT - not today, probably tomorrow

IMO - I'm voicing an opinion.  Please note some people put IMHO... I don't.  My opinions generally aren't humble.  This entire post is totally IMO, BTW.

What are some internet speak terms you use and what do they mean to you?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Do You Celebrate Independence Day?

Since tomorrow is the 4th of July, we'd like to know how our Killer Friends plan on celebrating.  Do you cookout?  Go on vacation?  Watch the fireworks?

B.E.:  We'll probably throw some meat on the grill and watch the fireworks on TV, then lay in bed until the wee hours listening to the neighbors shoot off their less-than-legal pyrotechnics.

JB:  My plan is to try to keep the dogs calm during fireworks. Exciting, right?  ;-)

Your turn... What's on your agenda for the holiday?

Oh, and for our readers in other countries, how do you typically celebrate your nation's independence?  Canada just had Canada Day.  If you're up there, how did you celebrate?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I've found love!!!

and her name is Smudge.

I hope to get some better pics of her once she's feeling a bit better. I adopted her from the local SPCA and, like so many shelter dogs has kennel cough and worms, but she's on meds and on the mend.

She's approximately 1.5 years old. We think she's a mini-schnauzer mix. Really, she's a purely lovable mutt.

Between being on deadline for the second in the Matchmaker Mystery series and taking care of the new family member, I'm a bit fried, so that's all I've got for the week.

Tell me Killer Friends: Who have YOU adopted?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Almost Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Since I was talking about this yesterday, I thought I'd post a snippet of Dying Embers - where they almost but don't get romantic...

Jace reached for the phone.  “I have to get the crew on this…”
“Not right now, you don’t.  For pete’s sake, it’s four o’clock in the morning Dallas time.  Your crew, if they’re smart, are home in bed, fast asleep.  Which, I might add, is where we both should be.”
His statement stopped her fingers on the number pad, but his last few words stopped her breath in her throat.  “What?”  Images of the two of them curled in each others’ arms, their breath coming slow and deep, made the blood rush to her face.
“Easy there, Gunga Din.  I meant you in your bed and me in mine.”  He stood and touched her cheek with one callused finger.  “Trust me, Jace.  When we decide we’re going to sleep together, we’ll need to be fully rested because there won’t be any actual sleeping involved.”