Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goals for 2016 #amwriting!!!!

Last week I reflected back on what I'd accomplished in 2015.

This week I'm looking forward to what I'm hoping to accomplish in 2015.

But what I'm going to talk about today is the next three months, because his year, I'm using this as my planner and the author recommends the "Power of 3".  I kind of like the idea, since a year can get overwhelming.



(BTW this doesn't mean that I haven't sketched out a business plan for the entire year.  I have. But I'm choosing to try to focus on just three months at a time.)

So what's on tap?

In addition to my goals, I'm going to be working on instilling new habits (small habits).

January  

HABITS

20 oz of water before any coffee in the morning (this may kill me....)

Accountability

Sing scales -- Singing is good for you and I enjoy it.


GOALS


--  Publish THE HITWOMAN AND THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB

(If you're not signed up for my newsletter, do so now so that you'll know when it's available for pre-order)

-- Finish writing THE HITWOMAN AND THE CHUBBY CHERUB

February 

HABITS

Water

Accountability

Singing

Night time routine



GOALS


-- Publish Chubby Cherub

-- Start writing another book. What book?  I don't know. According to the business plan it "should" be the sequel to Until Proven Innocent but I have this other idea for a funny mystery series.....

March

Habits

Water

Accountability

Singing

Morning and Night time routines

Goals

-- Finish writing XXX

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you have big plans for next year? Small plans? What are they?


Monday, December 28, 2015

Goals and Gratitude


I feel like the days between Christmas and New Years were invented for hibernation. You're recovering from the chaos, you rest, relax, eat leftover chocolates. You take a few minutes to relish the fact you survived and then it's strategy time.

As 2016 approaches I'm indulging in some Monday morning quarterbacking. In a writerly kind of way. What I've learned. What I'd do differently. What worked and what failed.

At the beginning of 2015 I had visions of stepping up my promotional efforts. I made a small amount of headway but in most aspects I failed to achieve a consistent or cohesive system. I lacked a strategy.

Goal #1: Develop a social media content calendar.

I've always liked the idea of a theme word for the year. I like discipline as 2016's word. After making organization 2015's word and achieving a reasonable measure of success I feel like I've laid the groundwork and am ready to work on tweaking my process.

Goal #2: Schedule writing time. Respect and enforce it.

I love my comfort zone. It's very...well, comfortable. I tend to resist change. At the same time I find myself uninspired by the tried and true. Hence my quote for the year...
"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." Fred Diveto
Goal #3: Research and pick three as of yet untried promotional ideas.



Last but certainly not least, Thank You! Thanks for stopping by and checking what we at the Killer Chicks had to say, promote and giveaway in 2015. There is sure to more book news, more laughs and more confessions in the coming year.

What about you? What goals are you setting? What's one thing you're going to do differently in 2016?





Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Year in Review (mostly in pictures)

I'll admit that 2015 (and 2014 and 2013 and yeah, a lot of 2012) sort of felt like this:




BUT

I've also sort of adopted this as one of my personal theme songs.
(If you need a laugh watch the video for the cheesy 80's fashion and choreography.)



So here's some of what I accomplished in 2015.

-- Got my beloved mutt certified as a therapy dog and started volunteering with her.



-- Led a workshop at the Florida Creativity Weekend (met some awesome people!).

-- Took an improvisational comedy class (and didn't die!!!).

-- Learned to swim with my face in the water. (Trust me, if you didn't learn as a kid, this is challenging.)

-- Attended the Novelists Inc. conference (met some more awesome people!).

-- Developed my gratitude practice (one of the BEST things I think I've ever done)

-- Published a couple of books:















Tell me Killer Friends: What did you accomplish this year?  What would your personal theme song sound like?  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Puzzles! Games! Apps! Oh My!

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it's only five days away. The end of 2015 not long after. Time marches on, as the saying goes. Whether we're ready or not. I wrote out a To-Do List. It's got a few more items on there then I expected to have to accomplish.

But what do we do when the going gets tough? I don't know about you, but I decided to avoid responsibility and try my hand at some puzzles. At this point, I should interject a disclaimer: I am not a puzzle person. This is clearly a last ditch desperate effort to avoid The List.

It started with a discussion on cellphones at my sainted momma's 75th birthday supper. My brother lobbed a subtle hint at his wife to buy him an tablet for Christmas. Apparently,  his phone is too small to play Alphabetty on. Too which I innocently asked, "What's Alphabetty?" It was all downhill from there. Now I have Alpha(stupid)betty, Words With (effing) Friends, and Word (this is way to hard for me) Crack calling to me from my phone.

Saturday morning it was the crossword puzzle in the paper. Thank goodness they include the answers. I was exhausted after filling in one little corner that required way to much cheating and therefore caused a dip in my self-confidence. Next? Word Search. Because how hard can it be to circle the letters to words? They give you the list of words and everything. Good grief. Naive, much? No one should have to find a word written upside down and diagonally. Seriously.

Sudoko? That involves numbers, so...no.

But I'm going to give the crossword  in tomorrow's paper a go. See if I can do any better. And Alphabetty? I see more of it in my future.

What puzzles or games to you play?


Friday, December 18, 2015

One Week Left

I don't know if all y'all celebrate Christmas.  If you don't, cool.  You get the side-benefits of all us Christmas people - sales!  And sparkly lights to look at.  And an extra profusion of chocolate - because who doesn't like chocolate? 

If you do celebrate, you have a week to get everything done you need to get done.  Now, now, don't shoot the messenger.  I'm just stating a fact.  I don't set the time frames. 

I'm done.  Then again, it's easy for me.  I only have three people to buy for - Mom, Mom-in-Law, and the Kid - and all of those prezzies have to be shipped, so I'd better be done by now or someone ain't getting their Christmas Joy from me. 

Of course, there are bobbles, even for me.  The gift I sent my Mom - one I also ordered for myself - ended up being gross.  Luckily, I know a catalog company that would get her a new present by Christmas, guaranteed delivery if I ordered it by midnight yesterday.  I did.  I hope this one isn't yucky.

I also have the advantage of Hubs and I making the decision not to get each other anything this year.  We have everything we need and there's nothing we want.  We'll eat ham like the pigs it's made from and then flop around, groaning about overeating.  Ah, the good life.

Now, there's one thing I still have to shop for - Christmas dinner.  Ham (bone in so I can make soup afterwards) with pineapple slices and coated in a brown sugar glaze.  Mashed potatoes.  Rolls.  Corn.  :drool:  I'll also make a pumpkin cheesecake again because I bought more ingredients than I needed at Thanksgiving, so it's already all there for me to whip together.

I'm not making cookies this year.  Or fudge.  There's only the two of us to eat all that, and it's not like we don't have tons of other Christmas chocolates to consume.  Plus, the Kid said she was sending us a box of baked goods for our prezzie, so we've got it covered. 

What do you have left to do before next Friday?  What'll be on your plate for the holiday?  If you don't celebrate, how will you be enjoying the day (which is most likely a day off anyway)?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sneak Peek at THE HITWOMAN AND THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB

To be honest, I forgot it was my day to blog and I'm drawing a blank, so here's an UNEDITED snippet of Hitwoman 12. Are you caught up on the rest of the series?  


The shaman pantomimed the act of violently snapping the bird’s neck. The action raised the hem of his sweatshirt.

I averted my eyes, afraid to even look in his direction.

The chicken squawked nervously.

“No.” I backed up a step. “I won’t do it.”

“No?” Armani  shrieked. “Why not?”

“I promised I wouldn’t hurt her,” I mumbled.

Armani gave me the same look people often give my mother who resides in a mental institution.  “Are you a vegetarian now or something? Because if you are, your Aunt Susan is going to be very unhappy with you.”

“Of course I’m not. I’m just keeping a promise. And I promised this bird,” I smoothed its feathers, “that I wouldn’t hurt her.”

“You must kill it,” the shaman insisted.

The poor bird trembled in my arms.

I shook my head. “I won’t do it.”

The shaman squinted at me. “There is no other way.”

The lizard squeaked.

I knew what he was saying.  “There’s always another way.”

Bending over, I put the bird down.

“Go,” I made a shooing motion as it scratched the ground by my feet. “Fly away! Save yourself!”

The bird clucked, beat its wings, and fluttered awkwardly, landing with an ungraceful wobble a few yards away.

Disappointment glittered in Armani’s gaze.

A slow, three-tooth smile spread across the shaman’s face.

I cringed inwardly wondering what he’d have me do next.  Raising my chin, I put my hands on my hips and waited.

“You have a kind heart,” he declared.

I blinked, surprised. I doubted he’d say that if he knew I’d killed people. For money.

He considered me shrewdly. “You keep your promises.”

“I try.”

“Resonance,” he said.

“Residence?” Armani asked, clearly as confused as me.

“Resonance,” he corrected. “Find the right resonance and you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

“She wants to talk to animals,” Armani interrupted.

The shaman pointed to the chicken, indicating I’d communicated with the bird. Then he held out his hand, palm up.

I stared at him blankly.

“Pay the man,” Armani prompted.

I frowned. “For what?”

Armani shook her head and gave me a look that told me I was embarrassing her.  “Pay him. He told you what you need.”

“Resonance?” I didn’t bother to disguise my skepticism.

The shaman kept his hand outstretched.

“How much?” I asked grudgingly.

“Whatever you think is fair,” the shaman replied softly.

That wasn’t helpful. I looked to Armani for guidance, but all she offered was a shrug. So I made the logical choice. I looked to the chicken for advice.

“How much?” I asked the bird.

She cocked her head to the side as though considering my question.

“You’re asking the bird?” Armani asked incredulously.

“It’s not like you helped,” I snapped.

The chicken bawked loudly.

“Twenty. Just give him twenty,” Armani offered.

The chicken ran up to me and pecked at my feet.

“Ow!” I stumbled away, trying to keep my sneakers out of reach of the bird’s beak.

She squawked.

The lizard squeaked.

Even though I couldn’t understand them, I knew they were telling me something.

I watched the bird as I pulled a wad of bills from back pocket, trying to figure out what she wanted.

She looked back at me pitifully and I could tell she was still trembling. 

I looked from the bird to the shaman and sighed, knowing what it was she was asking.

“I’ll give you twenty for your....,” I almost choked getting out the word, “help”.  I sighed before adding, “And another twenty for her.”

Armani groaned.

The shaman grinned again. “Deal.”

Handing over two twenty dollar bills, I scooped up the bird, who now let me pick her up without running around like a fool, and stalked out of the yard.

Armani limped after me. “You’re not putting that thing in my car.”

“Good thing I drove then,” I growled.

Monday, December 14, 2015

On My Twelfth Day of Editing...

It's beginning to look like Christmas is coming. The snow is falling. The carols are playing. We've bought our tree and now it's time to decorate. There's also writing to be done.


On My Twelfth Day Of Editing

My muse sent to me:
12 hours of solid sleep (Because I don't know what I'm doing anymore.)
11 tissue packets (Why can't I stop crying?)
Ten Reasons to keep writing
Nine Ladies Dancing (Clearly the hallucinations are escalating.)
Eight Inches worth of unrealistic expectation
Seven Synonyms for 'sigh' (But I love that word!)
Six Rippling ab references 
Five Cups of tea (She should have sent Vicadin.)
Four Books on craft (Because apparently scores of 'ly' words are annoyingly cliche.)
Three Bottles of Advil ('Cuz it's going to be a long 12 days.)
Two red pens
and the most epic idea in all history. (Because apparently we're starting over. Again.)

Besides Christmas, because December is about more than that, I'm thinking about what I want to accomplish with my writing in 2016. I know one thing, it'll start with a month long writing challenge in January. The best part? I won't be doing it alone. I'll be writing along side other members in my writing group. 

How about you? Are thoughts of what's on the agenda for 2016 slowly taking root?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't Quit

Don't Quit
by Edgar A. Guest


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit - rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about
when he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow - you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And when you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit - it's when things seem worst, you must not quit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gifts for Writers

It's that time of year. The time where you're scrambling to find the perfect gift for the writer in your life (or a gift for yourself...always good to treat the muse).

Here are some suggestions:

For the writer who gets her/his best ideas in the shower -  



For the writer who gets hand cramps --




For the writer who likes a bit of bling, Etsy has a lot of options like this:



For the writer who needs to organize her/his brilliant ideas:

(people swear by Scrivener, but I've never used it)



For the writer who needs caffeine with her writing --

this mug is pretty awesome


For the writer looking to improve her/his craft, you can't go with  King, but any book will do!


For the writer you don't know what to buy for, gift cards are ALWAYS appreciated --


as are e-cards  
no wrapping, no shipping, no waiting!!!




And don't forget that writers like to read -- 
it's easy to gift an ebook from any of the Killer Chicks!




Tell me Killer Friends, what suggestions would you add to the gift list?

Monday, December 7, 2015

My Five Favourite Action Movies From The 80s and 90s!

We're going retro today!


Grab yourself some tea or coffee, juice if you prefer, and let's say a toast to the 80s and 90s action movie. Big explosions. Hard muscles. Crazy stakes. I love action movies no matter the decade, but I have to say the '80s and '90s did right by the action flick. Does that make me sound old? Don't answer that.

Today we're going to talk about my favourites. (In chronological order, in case anyone cares.)

* Also possible spoiler alerts in the descriptions!

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark - A man who's smart, sexy, and finds trouble like nobody's business. There isn't a second that's not entertaining. He's a little bit grumpy which makes his character even more delightful. (1981)



Die Hard - You're going to crash my wife's plane? Over my dead body! It's a Hollywood miracle he survived. But seriously who wouldn't want Bruce Willis on their side? (1988)



Road House - Dancer. Fighter. Does it even matter? Because not in his town! The man had some serious moves! And who doesn't love a movie with Sam Elliott in it. Rise your hand up if one of your fantasies involves Sam reading you a bedtime story? (1989)



Point Break - I mean, sometimes it's so ridiculous you can't not love it. Surfing. Bank robberies. Why they go together like Dirty and Dancing. Or Bill and Ted. (1991)



Speed - This is one of my all time favourite movies of ALL TIME! Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are one of my favourite movie couples. Even though they're not really a couple couple. It's a race against time and the villain. And it has an excellent one! Get Ready For Rush Hour! (1994)



Feel free to list your favourites in the comments. And, God help me, if you weren't born yet pick one from an appropriate decade.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Natural Remedies

I'm big into taking care of things myself.  Not that I have anything against pharmaceuticals.  What I have is a thing against going to the doctor.  So, I thought I'd share a few tidbits I've learned over the years.

Olive Oil.  Topically, it's awesome for treating head lice.  Suffocates the little buggers.  Internally, it's good for constipation.  It's also good for treating minor skin complaints in cats and it helps with hairballs.

Yogurt.  Great for yeast infections and way cheaper than any prescribed treatment.  Also, good for keeping the intestines in working order.  (And no, you don't have to buy the name brand super special stuff.  Regular works just fine.  As long as it has active cultures.)

Cranberry Juice.  Keeps the plumbing in good working order.

Baking Soda.  Mixed with a glass of water and consumed, it helps with indigestion.  Mixed with a little water, it makes a paste that can be applied to bee stings, poison ivy, etc.  (It's also wonderful for cleaning out slow drains. Dump some in your sink, follow that up with vinegar, and watch the show.)

Plantains - not the weird banana things, but the leafy weed that grows in many of our yards.  Get a bug bite while you're out and about? Pull a leaf or two and rub it on the bite.  Itch-B-Gone.


Got any home remedies you use?


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Specific AND universal??? Near-impossible writing tasks

Yesterday someone pulled up a copy of one of my books on his phone and gave it to someone to read.

A few minutes later the woman laughed out loud.

When we asked what she was laughing at, she kept giggling as she explained, "Inner Chiquita. I have a friend that says that to me....well, not "chiquita" but something like that."

(I believe the woman is Polish. Sadly, I didn't think to ask her what the equivalent of "inner chiquita" is in Polish.)

Her amusement and connection made my day.  Armani Vasquez is one of my more popular characters and I suspect one of the reasons is that we all have (or have had) a friend who is constantly trying to push us out of our comfort zones.

I try very hard to create specific characters who have universal qualities that readers can identify with.


I can't tell you how many people have told me that someone in their family is just like one of the aunts in my CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series.

And I'm always amazed at how many people say they want to be Maggie's best friend....or Armani's.

Here's an example of Armani's well-meaning pushiness from Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman.

“What’s wrong with you? “ Armani asked sharply, jolting me out of my morose musings.
         I couldn’t tell her the truth, that my future might hold a murder. “I dunno. My sister’s dead. My niece is in a coma. Excuse me if I’m not going to win Little Miss Sunshine today.”
         “Today, my amiga, you are not even in the running.”
         “So go sit somewhere else if you don’t like my company.”
         She ignored that as she started rummaging in her purse. “What you need is to channel your inner Chiquita.”
         “You want me to channel my inner banana?” I knew what she meant, but I liked teasing her. For as long as I’ve known Armani, she’s been trying to get me to set my “true self” free. I was too bottled up for her taste. I didn’t tell her that my reserve was something I’d carefully constructed over the years. The ability to control my emotions, to lock them up and refuse to express them, was a conscious choice. It was what separated me from my crazy mother. I wasn’t about to let loose any time soon…or ever, if I could help it.
Still, Armani kept trying to get me to let go by calling it different things: “Let the world see the real you” and “Be your bitch self” were just two of the previous campaigns she’d waged. She’d dropped it right after the accident, but apparently she’d decided I’d been my mopier-than-usual self for long enough.

         “Let that cute, smart, passionate girl that’s inside you out, Chiquita.[LJ1]  You have a big heart stuck in that petite persona you show to the world.” She pulled a bottle out of her purse and spritzed my arm with some Glow by J Lo  perfume. “You’ve gotta get your glow on.”

Tell me Killer Friends: What characters do you identify most with?


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Purse Confessions

Purse. Handbag. Pocketbook. Satchel. Wallet. Whatever you call the thing you carry around with you containing all the essentials. Unless you're one of those people who stuff things in pockets on the fly out the door, you own one.

Me? I love my purse. I've carried one around for forever. And here you have it, the contents of my purse.

A wallet.
Perscription sunglasses.
Cellphone.
Book swag.
Pen.
Keys.
Crumpled receipts.
Hand cream. 
Two lipsticks. 
Lipgloss. 
Toothbrush.
Dental floss.
Ibuprofen.
One bandaid.

What kind of writer doesn't carry a notebook? I do have Evernote on my phone. I'm feeling pretty righteous about toting around only two tubes of lipstick and one tube of lipgloss. In the past there have been many more. I have a thing for lipstick.

I thought it would be fun to give you a hint of what my current heroine carries around with her. This work-in-progress is the third book in my Aspen Lake series. My heroine's name is Grace Bighill. Her life's kind of a mess right now. Okay, it's been a mess for awhile, going way, way back. And if you've lived in a small town you know there always seems to be families that see more than their share of drama. When folks gossip, they're usually the source. Some of it true, most of it not. In my small town of Aspen Lake that family is the Bighill family.

What's in your wallet?

In this scene Grace Bighill,  her sister Hope, and Constable Micheal Davenport are at a town hall meeting.

Hope nudged him. "Got any gum?"
Mike barely glanced at her mouthing the word, "No."
Another jab. "Ask Grace."
He didn't need to. She was already digging around in her oversized bag causing a ball of yarn to roll out. More furtive searching. From somewhere behind them came a warning shush.
"Crap. Hold this." Grace whispered the words into his ear, right before she dropped her wallet in his lap, along with knitting needles, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Followed by a pen, an earring, and her phone. Was that the top half of her bikini?
He stared down at the growing mountain of stuff trying not to think about the last item, or that purple palm trees were now his favourite thing. He had less personal clutter in his entire condo. Eventually she unearthed a tiny case of TicTacs. Because, of course, she would have to have the loudest option possible. She shoved them into his hand. "Here."
He bit his tongue and passed them on. Grace scooped up her things. He sat stoic and very, very still while her hands dived into his lap. One unfortunate brush over his fly and he shifted in his chair and held his breath. 
"Thanks, sweetie." Hope popped a couple in her mouth. "Want one?"




Friday, November 27, 2015

It's the Friday After Thanksgiving, What's up With You?

We were sitting around yesterday discussing today and trying to figure out when The Day After Thanksgiving morphed into Black Friday.  I'm thinking sometime in the mid to late '90s, but that could be my memory.  Before then it was Day After Thanksgiving Sales.  The women-folk of my family would get load into one or two cars and head off to the MALL - the one that had the Toys-R-Us across the street because we had many small children in the family.  It was a fun day.  We'd shop 'til we had our Christmas lists taken care of, eat a nice lunch out, and then go home. 

I imagine it wouldn't be like that these days.  I haven't been out on a Black Friday in years.  :shudder:

Today, like most Fridays (after Thanksgiving or otherwise), I'll be home.  The only difference is on other Fridays if I needed to go out, I would.  Today, I'm hiding.  I stocked up on everything like a blizzard was approaching, so I don't run out of anything before Monday.  The furor should've died down by then.

Today, I'll lay around like a fat dog because I gorged myself yesterday.

I didn't do a lick of work yesterday, so there's that, too.  I'm 20K into the reword on In Deep Wish and I said I'd have it to my editor by the end of next week.  Doable, but not if I take too many more days off.

The forecast for these parts is several days of torrential rain, so any other activities I'll be doing will be inside.  I only like going out in the rain if it's warm, and this is not warm.

So, for me, it's a quiet Friday hanging out with the Hubs. 

What's up with you today?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tis the day before Thanksgiving (in the US)





I thought it would be fun to ask (and answer) a few questions:


White meat or dark?

Either, I don't love or hate either.

Favorite side dish:

Mashed potatoes

Favorite dessert:

Cranberry apple pie or pumpkin pie

It's not Thanksgiving without____________:

Watching HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Parade?

Not me.

Football?  If so, who are you rooting for? If not, what do you do instead?

No football for me. I'll be reading B.E. Sanderson's latest release BloodFlow.



Wishing everyone who's celebrating a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bringing Your A Game and Other Cliches


If commercials and magazines are to be believed the upcoming season is all about bringing your A game. I don't have an A game when it comes to shopping, wrapping, or cooking. But I've got sit, read, and visit locked up. So...win!

We all know successful holiday management should be a team effort. There is no 'i' in team after all. So why do I feel so alone while making my holiday lists? You know what word has an 'i'?  Village, which is what it takes to pull this whole thing off. There's also an 'i' in insanity. And let's face it, the holidays are a slippery slope, my friends. Maintain your sanity at all costs.



But apparently the best defense is a good offense. But since I'm not a sports person I don't know what that means. Time to force the players to buy into the coach's system. And that's me - the holiday coach. And it's a must win game. So, the pressure's on.

Go big or go home, baby!

I'm just kidding, do whatever you want. Wear what you want, reindeer antlers go with everything. Eat want you want. Sing. Laugh. Take a nap.

Know where else you're supposed to bring your A game? The bedroom.

Eight purple passages are up for the prize every author dreads, the annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award. Can Erica Jong beat Morrissey to the sweetspot? 

The Guardian's Bad Sex Award 2015 contenders in quotes. Perhaps they should leave the writing of sex scenes to the professionals genre fiction authors.

* Using sports analogies in the bedroom can be hazardous to your...health.

Have a wonderful Monday! And remember: Put Your Game Face On.

What's your favourite sport's cliche?