Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

 Lego Writer says...

Have a fun and safe Halloween! 

And then get back to work!  ;o)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Devil's Night

Tonight is Devil's Night, so it's only appropriate we talk about villains today.

Who's your favorite fictional villain?  Why?

JB: Would it be terrible to say that my favorite fictional villain is one of my own? I've got Ivan Vogler rolling around in my head all the time and I'm a bit obsessed with him.

But seriously, I love a good villain and can't choose among my favorites, but they include, but aren't limited to: Moriarty, Voldemort, The Deaf Man (from the 87th Precinct books), Annie Wilkes,  and  Dolores Umbridge

B.E.:I'm with JB.  My favorite villains are my own creations - maybe because I know them so well. I hope someday to share them all with you.

Of the ones created by others, I enjoy hating The Surgeon (created by Tess Gerritsen) and The Player (from Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series).  Allison Brennan makes some really awesome villains that are really easy to hate.  Of course, there's Dolores Umbridge - the most hated women in literature, I think.  And Cruella deVil.  Voldemort is a brilliant baddie.  Oh, and I almost forgot - Akasha from Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned.  So very vicious.  Of course, there are more.  The best books all have someone to hate.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cover Reveal -- THE HITWOMAN AND THE POISONED APPLE

THE HITWOMAN AND THE POISONED APPLE will be out November 7th, so I thought it was time to reveal the cover.


I can't believe that this is the eighth story in the CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series.

I'm so grateful that so many people have enjoyed the adventures of Maggie and the gang.  I'm already writing book 9!


This weekend I attended the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. It was so cool to be in the company of enthusiastic readers of all ages. (But I MAY have enjoyed the kids who were so excited to see R.L. Stine the most.)

Tell me Killer Friends: If you could meet ANY writer, who would it be?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Cauldron Full of Goodbyes -- Teaser Tuesday

I am SO excited to feature this week's teaser from my good friend Cynthia Valero.  Her novella, A CAULDRON FULL OF GOODBYES is part of REHAB FOR WITCHES which will be released on Halloween!


A CAULDRON FULL OF GOODBYES


Trista Burns has no plan to enter witch rehab as ordered by the high council. She believes in an eye for an eye and will instead purge her magick and live an ordinary life. It will be Hell, but one she deserves for acting the unwitting minion for the worst witch of all, The Irish Terror.

Angus McCutty, the Terror's son, has his own plan for Trista and, among his lies, reveals the terrifying truth that Trista has not quite escaped the Terror's grasp.

Two witches with shameful pasts, Trista and Angus must find a way to save what means most to them, but first they must learn to trust each other—and themselves—as witches.




I've read this story and loved it! Here's a quick taste:


She untied her cauldron, set it on a stump. As she opened the spring water, she asked Angus, “Are you a witch?”
“You can’t tell?”
“I can feel your magick, but not which kind.”
“How do you feel magick?”
She blushed as she poured the water into her cauldron and then tucked the half-empty bottle back into her jacket. “My elbows. They get a fluttery feeling.”
His mouth quirked.
She narrowed her eyes. “How can you tell I’m a witch?”
“I can smell it on you.”
She flushed deeper. “What does it smell like?”
The ghost of a grin. “A blend of vanilla and wood smoke. There is always a hint of smoke to a witch. Perhaps it has something to do with our ancestry.”
“And the vanilla?”
He leaned close and drew a breath below her ear. “The vanilla is you. It hints at something sweet yet exotic.”

  


Cynthia Valero is an award-winning author of three paranormal romance novels and two anthologies written with Beth Ciotta as CB Scott. Her newest solo novella, A Cauldron Full of Goodbyes, is one of six dark and edgy stories in the anthology, Rehab is for Witches. A student of Natalie Goldberg, Zoetrope All-Story, and The Writers Studio, Cynthia is currently writing a novel entitled, Fox + Stagg, a rich tale of forbidden love and deadly feuds set off the coast of 1904 America. You can visit her on Facebook at Cynthia Valero Books or at cynthiavalero.com.



Monday, October 27, 2014

NaNo is Almost Upon Us

Last night while I was chatting with the Kid about what she should be for Halloween, I made a joke that she should go as a writer pre-NaNo.  You know the look - a pencil in one hand, a harried look on the face, messy hair, comfy clothes. 

I don't know if she'll do it, but it got me thinking.  What would a writer the night before NaNo look like?  I know if I was doing it for the first time, I'd probably look like a basket case. 

Nowadays, I'm an old pro at NaNo.  For those of you not familiar with NaNo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's the month where some of the writing populace commit to writing 50K words in a month.  I've committed to it privately and publicly through the site, and sometimes committed to it even though it wasn't November, for the past seven years or so.  Given the right gumption, I can bang out 50K cogent words in a month.  Whether they ever go anywhere from there?  Well, sometimes they turn into a shopable novel.  Sometimes, they need a ton of work and I get distracted by a shiny idea elsewhere.  Sometimes, I just stop.

Last year, I just stopped.  My YA fantasy novel - a total break from anything I wrote before - moulders on my harddrive.  I don't know if I'll ever finish it.  Maybe someday.

This year I had planned to jump into NaNo will full abandon, writing a gritty urban fantasy that's been niggling at the back of my head.  But then I had a conversation with the Hubs, and he reminded me that I am ass deep in unfinished, semi-finished, and barely edited manuscripts, and perhaps I should finish one of those before I rush headlong into a new book. 

He's quite right, ya know.  So, I have the rest of this week to decide.  Work on something totally new or finish something I already started.  To that end, I've loaded a partially finished suspense I gave up on years ago when I lost faith in my ability to write suspense.  In the words of Monty Python, "I got better."  Unfortunately, after my faith got restored, I never went back to finish this damn book.  Now would be the perfect time - that is, if I think this manuscript is still viable or at least fixable.  We'll see. 

Who knows, I may still write the new idea next month.  Or I might go back and finish that quirky mystery I never finished.  Or I could just knuckle down and finish editing these things I never edited. 

Time will tell. 

Have you ever tried NaNo? 

Friday, October 24, 2014

My desk -- Fab Photo Friday

I went about almost a year without a desk. I missed having a defined work space terribly.

Finally I found an old wicker desk. It took a while to refurbish it, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cookie Month

According to Holiday Insights, October is Cookie Month.  Time to talk cookies!

What's your favorite cookie?  Do you bake or do you buy?

JB: If I bake it's oatmeal or butter cookies.
If I buy it's Mint Milanos. (NOT Pumpkin Spice…tried 'em and was disappointed)

B.E.: I love making cookies.  I just wish I had someone to give the majority of them away to.  My favorites to make and eat are my coconut chocolate chip cookies, my peanut butter bars, and my layer bars.  Of course, a lot of the time, I'm too lazy to bake, so I just snag some from the store - or mug a girl scout.  Thin mints... mmmm.  And those peanut butter ones covered in chocolate...  (You can buy knock offs of Girl Scout cookies now, though, which is good because I live in a retirement community and Girl Scouts are scarce.)  Also, Pepperidge Farms macadamia white chocolate chunk.  And now I'm hungry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm okay with you thinking my books are fluffy escapism

I've been told that my books are "fluff" and "mindless entertainment". While I know that the people who've said those things meant them as insults, I take them as compliments. There are times we just need our spirits lifted or our minds taken off our troubles. 

Sometimes people take the time to write to let me know how much they've enjoyed the momentary escape from their problems and struggles.

I enjoy and appreciate EVERY single fan letter I receive. What can be better than knowing that  complete stranger enjoyed your work? Every letter is a gift I treasure.

With that said, there are some letters that touch me more profoundly than others. I received one of those this weekend. It's the kind of letter that, even though it's short, I was crying before I reached the end. I asked the writer if I could share it and she graciously agreed.

"Just a word of thanks...I suggested that my daughter read your "Hitwoman " series. She is 40 years old and diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer, sad one day, angry the next. I thought your laugh out loud humor would be of help. Your books helped her to escape the moment and to prepare her forward to a year of fighting cancer with surgery followed by chemo. Again, thanks."


Are you weepy too? 

Tell me Killer Friends: What books do YOU enjoy escaping with?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Dying Embers

Here's a snippet from my suspense novel - Dying Embers...



Pushing off from the dock’s edge, Jace Douglas struck out across the lake, measuring the water one arm-length after another.  Even under the hot July sun, the water was cold and clear, making her relish each solitary stroke.  As she felt the surface tension pull along her skin, she could also feel the stress slipping away from her.  Twelve acres of solitude and reflection—twelve acres she only saw between assignments—but it was hers.  Still, if she had her own way, she wouldn’t be at home; she’d be at the office going over the same case for the millionth time. 
Swimming alone with nothing but the wind to distract her, she had to admit Graham was probably right.  It always did take some coaxing for her to admit she needed time away, if only for perspective, and out on her tiny ranch in the Piney Woods, she could finally admit her need. 
“If they find another…” she thought as she pulled herself through the calm water. “Not if, when they find another body I won’t have much time to breathe, let alone think.” 
The thought of her case pulled her from the single-mindedness of exercise.  Her strokes faltered and then stopped.  She tried to get back into the rhythm, but it was hopeless.  Too many unanswered questions assaulted her serenity.  Rolling onto her back, she allowed the gentle fluid to hold her up and her work to fill her once more.
She wouldn’t have let it go at all if it hadn’t been for her boss.
“Jace, you need a break,” he’d said right before he told her to leave the building and not come back until she could learn to relax.
At the time, she thought, “One day, and then I’ll go back.”  She’d fake it if she had to.  There was a killer out there somewhere and she had to catch him.  Before she knew it, her one day had stretched to three.
In retrospect, she knew she’d left her boss no choice.  She knew her ends would’ve been better served if she hadn’t blown up at her co-workers.  Six months on any case was enough to test the calm of anyone, especially when the case only provided more bodies without providing any more evidence.  But this case niggled at her in a way she hadn’t allowed herself to experience since before she joined the Serial Crimes Unit—maybe since that hot summer night when she was a teen.
Even with the tightest reins, sometimes you can’t control a beast as unruly as your past.
Just the thought of going down that path tightened every muscle in Jace’s body and she sank beneath the rippled surface.  She came up sputtering.  Another moment’s peace ruined.
Striking back toward the shore, she focused on putting one arm in front of the other until her dock was within reach.  As she began to pull herself up, she almost shrieked when a hand reached out for her.


Hope you enjoyed it.  =o)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tips for the Not-so Serious Dieter

1) A cupcake eaten before noon counts as a muffin.

2) Broken cookies have no calories.
  2a) Unless you break the cookie on purpose, then you've doubled the calories.

3) Fat free dressing negates the fat content of salad toppings.

4) Technically, all food is 'organic'.  If it was inorganic, we couldn't eat it.

5) Having a burger with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles counts as having a salad.  If you make it a cheeseburger, you've had milk with your meal like a good girl.

6) Ketchup is a vegetable*. (Hey, if schools can count it as a veggie, so can I.)

7) Therefore, chips are also a vegetable. 

8) And Starbursts are a fruit.

9) Pizza, with the right toppings, contains all four food groups, so it's good for you.

10) Half a piece of pie contains 50% less calories than a regular piece of pie, so have two.

What are some not-so serious diet rules you've used or heard of or follow religiously?

* Well, technically, ketchup is a fruit.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dictionary Day

Today is the day set aside to honor Noah Webster - the Father of the American Dictionary.

Being writers, we owe a lot to Mr. Webster.  

So, tell us, Killer Friends... How often do you use a dictionary?  Online version or hardcopy or CD?  And for a bit of fun, go to the dictionary of your choice and find a random word that starts with the first letter of your last name, and tell us what it is in the comments.

JB: My hard copies of my dictionary and my thesaurus were left behind when I moved and I miss them terribly. Using an online version just isn't the same.

LYART -- streaked with gray


B.E.: I actually don't use a dictionary all that often anymore, even though I'm surrounded by them.  I have a 2-volume set on the shelf on my desk, a red Websters on the reference shelf, the Encyclopedia of Dictionaries my parents gave me for high-school graduation...  When I need one, though, I usually hit Merriam-Webster Online or just Google the word and 'define'.

STIBINE -- a colorless, poisonous gas.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sneak Peek!!! A Match Made in Mystery

Only a couple of days until the release of A MATCH MADE IN MYSTERY the second Matchmaker Mystery.

Here's a sneak peak of the heroine, Amy, in action:

The rain beat relentlessly on her umbrella and she wished shed worn a raincoat. Her purse, which contained the twenty year-old note, hung heavily on her shoulder, its weight almost too much to bear, despite the fact shed only added the one piece of paper to its usual contents.
She couldnt do it. Not today. Hadnt Mr. Leeves said he was delivering the envelope six months early? Maybe she was supposed to wait until then to find out what its contents meant.
She was still in mourning over the loss of Bea. She didnt need to invite even more stress into her life.
This didnt feel right. She had to go home.
Turning to head back to the bus stop, she caught a flurry of movement out of the corner of her eye. She tilted her umbrella to get a better look.
An older woman and a young man were engaged in a tug-of-war over the womans pocketbook.
Hey! Amy yelled, instinctively changing course to help the old lady. Stop that!
The strap on the pocketbook snapped, sending the woman tumbling backward to the ground and leaving the thief holding the bag. Standing over the woman, the thief rifled through its contents.
Dropping her umbrella, Amy fumbled in her bag for her pepper spray, as she broke into a run toward the fallen woman. Get away from her. Get away.
The thief looked right at her as she stumbled to a stop in front of him, a cold malevolence gleaming in his gaze.
Give it back to her, Amy demanded, pepper spray in one hand, the handle of her own purse in the other.
A superior sneer spread across his face. You gonna make me?
Amy studied his face and neck taking a mental inventory. No tattoos probably meant he wasnt with a gang. No visible scars meant he wasnt much for violence. He probably only preyed on little old ladies.
Give it back to her, Amy repeated in a measured tone, tightening her grip on the strap of her own purse.
Or what? Whos gonna make me? You or Grandma? He looked down at the fallen woman and blew her a kiss.
Amy swung.
Her purse, which contained three books, was heavy. It arced through the air and caught Mr. Tough Guy squarely in the face.
Crying out in pain, he dropped the stolen pocketbook, as he cradled his nose in his hands. Blood gushed.
Amy swung her purse again, catching him in shoulder with a resounding thud. The blow knocked him to her knees.
She moved in for the kill.
You bitch! he screamed, dropping his hands from his bloodied face. You broke my nose.
She sprayed the pepper spray into his eyes.
He screamed.
She scooped up the stolen pocketbook.
Without taking her eyes off him, Amy bent to help the old woman to her feet. Are you hurt?
Only my pride, dear, she murmured.

I bet yours isnt nearly as dented as his.  Wrapping an arm around the frail womans shoulders, Amy heaved her to her feet as the thief stumbled away.