New Year's Resolution

Do you make new year's resolutions?  I do... I can't help it.

For 2011, my resolution is to live a fuller life and be a better person to the people who love me.  As much as I love writing, it's had a starring role in my life for the past few years and I need to put the people I love back to front and center.  Which doesn't mean I won't be writing (hell yeah, I'll be writing! I have a whole new book to revise!), but it does mean that I'll be trying to enrich the parts of my life that don't involve writing, as well. 

Pretty simple resolution, yes?  But oh so complicated.

And to demonstrate just how committed I am to doing this, I'm off to Toronto for the holidays (for the first time in three years).  Words can't express how much I've missed spending Christmas with my family and my bestest friends, and I can't imagine I'll ever allow another Christmas to go by without them just because plane tickets are expensive and life is crazy busy.  We can always make more money... but after losing three people I loved in the last eighteen months, I've learned that what we can't get back is TIME.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and I'll see you back here in the new year!  I'll only be blogging part-time in 2011, but I promise I'll do my best to make it count.

In the meantime, what's YOUR New Year's Resolution?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Highs and lows

I'm discussing writerly highs and lows today at Killer Chicks, so be sure to stop by and share your best and worst experiences!

Holiday remakes, Killer Chicks style

Today at Killer Chicks we're turning holiday movies into thrillers.  It's sick, twisted, and totally fun!  Come on over (but don't say I didn't warn you).

A bright conversation in an otherwise dull day...

Mom:  So I read your blog yesterday.  I liked your top ten list.  You used 'bum-fuck' in your book?

Me:  Uh, yeah.

Mom:  You know, I had coffee with your uncle before we left for Florida.  He wanted to know what your book was about.  I told him.  He wants to know why you write stuff like this.

Me:  I... well, what did you tell him?

Mom:  I told him I don't know.

Me:  That's probably a good answer.

Mom:  So listen, what is cameltoe?

Me:  (momentary silence)  You don't know what cameltoe is?

Mom:  No.  But thanks to your blog, I do know it's one word.

Me:  It's when... it's when a woman is wearing a pair of really tight jeans, and you can see... you know, you can see... she has... you can see the outline of her... of her labia.

Mom:  The outline of her what?

Me:  Her labia.  Her... you know, crotch.

Mom:  Oh.  (another momentary silence)  That's really in your book?

Me:  Yeah.

Mom:  Oh.  (silence number three)  Why do you write stuff like this?

Me:  I don't know.

Mom:  That's probably a good answer.

Nothing is more awesome than having to explain to your mother what cameltoe is.  Really.  Nothing.

Gooey old love

I am discussing LOVE at Killer Chicks today. Don't roll your eyes... you know you're curious.

Copy edits done! And, a top ten list.

Every inch between my neck and my tailbone is mad at me.  Four 14-hour days. 


And of course it didn't help that I had all kinds of annoying little timeline/chronology issues that had to be addressed.  I thought I'd addressed them all in THE PREVIOUS TEN DRAFTS... but I guess not.  Thank God for copy editors.  This process has totally been a crash course in writing. 

And so now, without further ado, here are the top ten things I learned this past weekend:

10.  The difference between further and farther.  (Gee, I suspected there was a difference, but since nobody's ever called me on it, I never bothered to learn what that difference was... till now.)

9.  Cameltoe is one word. (And should you decide to click on this link to Urban Dictionary because you don't know what cameltoe is, just know that this Jenny does NOT have cameltoe with her new leather pants!)

8.  Jello should be written as Jell-O.  (And I have to say, I was alarmed to see that I had used this word three times... in a story that has nothing whatsoever to do with gelatin-based food products.)

7.  Italics are not the enemy.

6.  "Excess dialogue tags are," he said.

5.  You cannot partially make up a college football Bowl game that took place in 1980.  You either make it up all the way, or you stay true to what really happened.  Because your copy editor will LOOK IT UP and NAIL YOU ON IT, including notes on the actual players' names and the final score.

4.  There is no Nike Cup at USC Irvine.  It's at UC Irvine.

3.  Bum-fuck has a hyphen.

2.  Batshit does not.

1.  The same character cannot wake up in a bed AND a leather chair at the same time.

Like I said, copy editors rule.

I'm baaaaack!

Ah, there's nothing quite like leaving the cloudless skies of Cabo and 80-degree temperatures (that's mid-20's in Celsius for my non-American friends) to come home to rain.  And cold.  And Christmas music.

But I came back relaxed!  And refreshed!  And ready to tackle my copy edits, which fell right into my inbox early Friday afternoon as I was sifting through my 268 emails (that's 9 days' worth... and so wrong).  I was given until Tuesday to get the copy edits back.  Yes, this Tuesday.  According to the memo attached with the manuscript, it seems as if I was supposed to have been sent the copy edits at the end of November, though I'm not sure.  (But it's totally okay.  I wouldn't have needed three weeks to do the edits, and I wouldn't have been home, anyway.)

So that's what I've been working on all weekend.  I'm not quite done, but I'm close, and I anticipate having everything back to my editor by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.  I'm really enjoying this part of process.  I have no idea who my copy editor is (I need to find out), but he/she is one savvy cookie.  For the past three days, I feel like I've been taking a crash course in grammar (which is really good thing).

As for my vacation, I had a wonderful time. I saw friends I hadn't seen in months, I ate really well (maybe a little too well), drank way too many blueberry mojitos, got a great tan (which is already fading), and laughed a lot.  Vacations are good for the soul.

Oh, and I have no idea when exactly this happened, but CREEP is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters Indigo (Canada).  How unbelievably cool is that?  Not that I expect anyone to order it seven months in advance, but it's there!  Woo hoo!

How's everybody been?  I'm going to do my best to catch up on everyone's blogs this week once my copy edits are returned.  Hope you've all been doing well!

I'm still not here.

But once again, through the technological wonder of early scheduling, you can find me at Killer Chicks, where I'm discussing the awfulness otherwise known as Writer's Brain.

If you have a cure for this, I would surely be grateful. Please stop by and commiserate with me.

I'm not here.

I'm lying by the pool in Cabo sipping margaritas and reading my Kindle.

BUT! Thanks to the magic of pre-scheduled posts, I am at Killer Chicks today, discussing the Six-Week Marinate.

So stop by and tell me if you think the King and I are full of crap.

What I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  This will be my last post here for the next THREE WEEKS. I've got one of my bestest friends coming to visit me this week for Thanksgiving, and right after she leaves, I'm heading to Cabo San Lucas for my usual December trip.

Before I unplug – and in the spirit of the holiday – here are ten things I'm thankful for:

10. My new computer, which so far has no bugs, glitches, or anything else wrong with it.

9. Supportive fellow bloggers and writers, who make this writing journey fun and rewarding. You guys rock.

8. My writing room, which is a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful place to work.

7. My Kindle, which lets me carry whole worlds around in one compact device.

6. The typing class I took in high school, which helps me to write almost as fast as I think.

5. My cats, the small bundles of fur who soak up all my angst and neurotic fears, and only ever want belly rubs and kisses in return.

4. My agent and editor, who are making my writing dreams come true.

3. My warm house, the food in my fridge, my big bed, and a car that always has gas in it.

2. My family and friends, who always the know the right thing to say and the right time to say it.

1. My amazing husband and partner, who lets me write as much as I want to, who's always interested in hearing about what I worked on each day, who understands my moods and crazy work hours, who leaves me alone when I need to be left alone, who always holds my hand when we're out, and who never tells me I look bad even when my hair is frizzy and I'm tired.
What are you thankful for? Tell me here, or tell me at Killer Chicks. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it), and I'll see you back here on Monday, December 13! 

First Line Friday: Cherub edition

Before I get going on this week's edition of First Line Friday, I'd like to send a shout-out to Julie Geistfeld, who just sent me the most amazing Teavana gift pack for being one of the winners of her Tea & Sympathy contest. Thanks, Julie! You rock!

Okay, here's today's picture. Tell me what this angel is thinking.

"I hate it when Mom is late. I can't wait till I'm big enough to fly home all by myself."

Now you go! Remember, no critiquing. Just have fun!

(And don't forget to swing by Killer Chicks, where we're asking what question you would ask your favorite author if you could.

Have a great weekend!

Big dreams

Just about every response to my Champagne wishes and caviar dreams post yesterday at Killer Chicks made me smile.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who dreams big.  Because really, what's wrong with wanting it all?  What's wrong with imagining the impossible?  What's wrong with putting just a little bit of that creative energy – the same energy that fuels our work – into allowing ourselves to imagine What If?

It was two years and three months ago (August 2008) when I was staring at the first 10,000 words of my story.  I was overwhelmed.  I had a million ideas and wasn't sure I could pull it off... but what if I could?  What if I actually finished this story?  Five months later, I had a completed first draft.

Then I dreamed of having a polished manuscript.  How great would it be to have a book that was finished All The Way?  What if I could have a version of this novel with no typos, no messy plot lines, and decent character development?  Even if it never got published, what a tremendous accomplishment it would be to have written, revised and polished a novel.  Six revisions and ten months later, I had a clean manuscript.

And then I thought, I don't think this book completely sucks.  In fact, what if it's actually pretty good?  Maybe if I query it, I'll get an agent.  Three months later, I got The Call.

And even though I knew what the odds were of this novel selling, I thought, what if it does sell?  What if, despite the crappy economy, despite my agent's warnings that fiction is a tough market, and despite being an unknown, a publisher actually wants to buy it?  So I allowed myself to imagine it.  I imagined getting a call from my agent telling me I was getting published.  I imagined myself as a debut novelist.

And guess what... that happened, too.

I think we should always dream big.  We might never get the mansion and the personal cabana boy and Angelina Jolie on speed dial, but it's cool to dream about it.  Because even if that dream never materializes, what does happen is usually more than good enough.

What's your writing dream?

Mine's really, really big. Is yours?

Don't tell me here, tell me at Killer Chicks, where I'm writing about champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Click HERE and see you there!

Ten reasons to love AMC's The Walking Dead

10. It's about zombies.

9. It's on right after Dexter (on a different channel), which makes for a perfect Sunday evening of TV-watching.

8. With only six episodes this season, a lot happens in an hour.

7. It's appropriately gory. You can't have a series about zombies – who EAT people – and always fade to black during the eatin' parts!

6. It stars Andrew Lincoln, who's from one of my all-time favorite movies, Love Actually.

5. It's character-driven.

4. There's a love triangle.

3. It explores issues like race, infidelity, friendship, survival, betrayal, spousal abuse, and gender roles.

2. It's surprisingly funny. "The world ended. Didn't you get the memo?"

1. If you get addicted (which you will), no worries. It's coming back for a second season!

Do you watch THE WALKING DEAD? Do you enjoy it as much as I do?

(Psst... my blog buddy Caitlin Darrell is having a Magical Giveaway! Click HERE for your chance to win a free book!)

First Line Friday: A cow's life

Thanks so much to Alexia Chamberlynn for the Magical Blogger Award!  You're amazing, Alexia!

I'd also like to take a moment to say how grateful I am for all the support I've received here and at Killer Chicks, and how much I've enjoyed following you guys on your journeys as well.

Let's keep on keeping on!

It's First Line Friday!  What comes to mind when you look at this picture?  It can be the first line of a story, a caption, anything... just let your imaginations go.

Here's mine:
It really was a pleasant life in the meadow... except for the creepy guy with the camera.

Now you go!  Remember, no critiquing.  Just have fun.

Have a great weekend!

Hey Ya!

Today is my day to blog at Killer Chicks.

What do Outkast's song Hey Ya! and the soap opera The Young & the Restless have in common?

Click HERE to find out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Honest scrap award

I'm so honored to receive the Honest Scrap Award from Jessica Hill!  Quite fitting, since it's Tuesday, and I don't yet have a top ten post, AND the award means I should share ten things about myself.

Here I go...

10.  I have an artificial light box shining on my face right now.  I don't think I could survive the Northwest winters without it.

9.  I talk to my cats as if they're people.

8.  My favorite TV shows at the moment are True Blood, Dexter, and The Walking Dead. Yeah, clearly I'm a fan of the horror genre!

7.  I spook easily.

6.  I own a sewing machine.  I can hem shirts and pants and sew buttons, but that's about it.

5.  I'm much rather shop online than shop in stores.

4.  I like baking brownies.

3.  I can think up a Princess Bride quote for almost any occasion.  Let me explain... no, there is too much.  Let me sum up...

2.  I hate making small talk.  It hurts my brain to think of "small" things to say.

1.  I'm addicted to sticking GelaSkins on my electronic devices.  I tell myself it's to protect them, but really, I just think they look funky.

And now, I'll pass this award onto Milo James Fowler, Joann Swanson, and Jennie Bailey!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Jennie Bailey is having a contest!

Don't miss out!  In celebration of reaching 100 followers, Jennie Bailey at Garden Full of Lily is having a contest!


First Line Friday: For the birds

Before I do anything else, I've been really lucky to have won three different contests in the past few weeks, and I wanted to give shout-outs to the fabulous blogger peeps who've been so generous:

Thank you, Jennie Bailey, for the Starbucks gift card!

Thank you, Julie Geistfeld, for the Happy Bunny planner!

Thank you, VR Barkowski, for the Edit & Pitch book package!

You guys make it SO MUCH FUN to be a fellow blogger.

And speaking of contests, don't forget to swing by Killer Chicks for the WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT!  Three lucky readers have won Amazon gift cards... could one of them be you? 

And now it's time for First Line Friday!

What are these birds talking about?  Give me the first line!

"Gwenda, I didn't say you looked fat, I said you looked fuzzy."

Now you go.  Remember, no critiquing!  Just have fun.

A few updates on CREEP

Hey.  Let's take a break from obsessing about the current WIP and talk about the book that's actually getting published.  (Poor little CREEP.  I didn't mean to neglect you, but the new baby needed lots of attention.)

I finally received my editorial notes last week.  Mind you, I'm not sure if you can even call it that.  I've been reading about authors receiving giant, complicated editorial letters that took them weeks to get through, but my manuscript came back with only 15 or so tiny little things to fix.  A repeated phrase here and there, a few things that needed more emphasis, that type of thing.  I was genuinely surprised!  It only took me about 90 minutes to make sure everything was perfect (and it probably would have taken no more than an hour had I not been so anal), and then I emailed the manuscript back to my editor.  I'm told this fulfills the "delivery and acceptance" part of my contract, so I can expect my second check from S&S fairly soon.  Woo hoo!

Then a couple of days ago I wrote my Dedication and Acknowledgments pages.  Holy moly, was this ever hard!  It's not easy to think up different ways to thank people without sounding totally repetitive.  Took me a whole afternoon to write a few really short paragraphs and get the wording just right. 

I also got confirmation that the book will be available in Canada.  I was kinda worried about this – you just never know how it's going to be marketed, and what a bummer it would have been if my family and long-time friends weren't able to head over to the local bookstore and get a copy.  But that's not going to be the case!  This news made me really happy.

My editor also mentioned the possibility of there being a reading guide at the back of my book.  I don't know if this is going to happen for sure, but HOW GREAT WOULD THAT BE!  My book could be a book club book!  Imagine that!  She said the book has a lot of interesting issues (like sex addiction) that could make for some thoughtful discussions.

Not sure what's next in the process, but I'll bet it'll be just as exciting – and fun! – as everything else has been up to this point.  Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with my editor and agent.  They're both really supportive and really positive.

Everyone should be so lucky.

The art of selecting a book

It's my day to post at Killer Chicks, and I'm talking about my book-buying thought process.

Read my post HERE and let me know what goes through your mind when choosing a book!

What I feel after a first draft

10. Giddiness. "Yay, I'm done!" (happy dance happy dance booty shake)

9. Relief. "So glad I finished." (slump back into chair)

8. Fatigue. "Wow, I'm tired." (yawn)

7. More fatigue. "My brain's totally fried." (go lie down somewhere)

6. Even more fatigue. "I don't think I can move." (continue to lie like a slug)

5. Anxiety. "The draft is shitty. What if I can't fix it?" (sit straight up in alarm)

4. Panic. "Of course it's shitty. And I'm not going to be able to fix it." (heart palpitations)

3. Fear. "I can't even look at it." (back on the computer, on the verge of tears)

2. Loathing. "I hate this book. It's terrible." (contemplate deleting it)

1. Uncertainty. "Maybe it's not so bad." (read over a decent passage, feel a glimmer of hope)

It's a writer's life. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. Would you?

(p.s. Are you Nano-ing? JB Lynn is discussing plotters, pantsers, and paradigm-ers at Killer Chicks!)

The end is really just the beginning

I finally finished the first draft of my current novel. 98,255 words and 366 pages.  YAY!  It happened late Friday night after what I call a "PUSH PUSH PUSH!" session.  Sometimes writing is inspired, sometimes it's sweat, and sometimes it's just running on fumes.

The main thing I feel is relief.  There was a moment or two of giddiness, and then... relief.

The story ended well (I think), but there are so many things that need to be fixed, so I can't leave the draft to marinate just yet.  While the story has a beginning, middle and an end, it's far from perfect, and I'm talking about big things, not little things.  It'll probably take most of November to get the manuscript structured properly, so while many of you are in the depths of NaNoWriMo, I'll be fixing and shifting and restructuring and fleshing out.

Speaking of which, happy first day of NaNo to those who are taking the plunge!  I'll be checking in on all of you and rotting rooting you on! 

Be sure to check in at Killer Chicks today to let us know what you've got going on this week.  And, THANKS TO ALL who entered our first contest!  We got some fabulous flash fiction entries, which you can read HERE.  The contest is now closed and we'll announce the winner this Friday!

First Line Friday: Halloween edition

This is my last Halloween-related post of the year.  I know, you're devastated.

It's First Line Friday!  What comes to mind when you see this picture?

Here's mine:

Wyatt the Witch's throbbing groin was a painful reminder of why one should always wear a protective cup when flying a broom. 

Now you go!  Remember, no critiquing.  Just have fun.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Be safe, and don't forget to submit a flash fiction story for the Killer Chicks contest.  The deadline is this Sunday!

How do you really feel about Halloween?

I needed an excuse to try out this poll feature I saw on someone else's blog, so here's a timely question for you:

After you vote, head over to Killer Chicks.  Today Joann is discussing torture porn, misogyny, and animal cruelty in writing, and why we shouldn't let ourselves become Easy Writers.

Author interview with Alice Loweecey

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means.  It's my day to post over at Killer Chicks!  Today I'm doing an author interview (which is always a lot of fun). 

Alice Loweecey is a debut mystery novelist who just happens to be an ex-nun. Why is this relevant?  Because her debut novel, Force of Habit (February 2011, Midnight Ink), stars an ex-nun turned private investigator. 

I know, right?  TOTALLY COOL.

She dishes a little about her convent days, a lot about her road to publication, and why she loves a good scare.

Click HERE for the interview, and I'll see you there!

Ten things I love about Halloween

10.  Halloween parties.  Doesn't matter that we're grown-ups, Halloween gives everybody an excuse to be a kid again.  It's fun to dress up.  Which leads me to...

9.  The costumes.  Especially the ones that are gory.  Bring on the zombies, the vampires, and the severed limbs!  If your costume makes me gag, so much the better.  Speaking of gagging, I also love...

8.  Halloween-inspired food.  Cookies shaped like spiders, or jello that looks like brains.  Someday I'd love to bake a huge cake in the shape of a person, and underneath the flesh-toned icing would be layers of red velvet cake with pockets of red-tinted vanilla custard that oozes.  Imagine cutting into that sucker!  And on a similar note...

7.  The candy.  I get so ridiculously excited when I see those bags filled with miniature chocolate bars at the grocery store.  What is it about food in miniature size that makes it seem so much tastier?  And the kids appreciate it too, especially when they're...

6.  Trick-or-treating.  Man, I wish I was little again so I could go door-to-door for free candy.  Nothing quite like it, is there?  And I always knew which houses gave out the best stuff, because of their...

5.  Decorations.  This year, we have cobwebs, a spider, a yowling battery-operated black cat (who scares the crap out of our living, breathing cats), and a few electric pumpkins.  Okay, so plug-in pumpkins are cheating, but not everybody is good at creating...

4.  Jack-o-lanterns.  I'm amazed how good some people are at carving jack-o-lanterns.  It really takes skill!  Then again, how does one get good at carving ANYTHING?  It makes one wonder.  Besides, all that work would make me crave...

3.  Pumpkin spice lattes.  Perhaps this is more of a Fall thing and not so much of a Halloween thing, but who cares?  They're so yummy they belong on this list.  As do...

2.  Horror movies.  I love a good scare anytime of year, but horror movies are especially fun at Halloween, no?  A few of my faves:  The Exorcist, Candyman, and Carrie. Too bad none of these movies have my all-time favorite Halloween song included in the soundtrack, which just happens to be...

1.  The Monster Mash.  This song is only played for a few days out of every year, and it never fails to put me in the Halloween spirit!

What do YOU love about Halloween?

And speaking of Halloween, there's still time to enter our 3-3-3 contest over at Killer Chicks, where we're challenging you to write a flash fiction story using the words killer, chicks, and Halloween.  A $50 Amazon gift card could be yours!

Also be sure to check out JB Lynn's post about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which starts in November) at Killer Chicks right now!

My first check from Simon & Schuster!

I accidentally published this on Friday already, so some of you might have already seen this coming, but it's okay.  I am a paid fiction writer!  I got my first check in the mail, and boy, nothing perks you up like getting a check in the mail... for writing.

Need I say more?  Oh, wait, there is one more thing...


I think the use of five exclamation marks is entirely appropriate today.

(It's Status Check Monday at Killer Chicks!  Let us know what's going on in your world!  And don't forget to check out the flash fiction entries for the 3-3-3 Contest, and maybe enter one of your own!)

First Line Friday!

We tried this a couple of weeks ago, and I was just so pleased with the variety of first lines you guys came up with!  You guys have amazing imaginations.  Here's this week's picture.  Remember, you're writing a story where this pic is your inspiration.

What's your first line?

The smell emanating from the mouth of the ancient sequoia was too hard to resist. 

Now you go!  Remember, no critiquing.  Just let your imagination run.

(And if you have fun doing this, why not take it a step further and write a flash fiction story?  You could win a $50 Amazon gift card if you post one over at Killer Chicks!  Need more inspiration?  Check out OUR attempts at flash fiction RIGHT NOW!)

Have a great weekend!

What a difference a letter makes

You mess up one little letter and the whole message changes...

Hi Sweatie, how's your day going?

I'll be rotting for you!

Are you trying to butted me up?

Party popper.

I'm so glad we're fiends.

See, this is why text messages make me laugh.  Have you ever received one that's made you chuckle?

Don't forget to check in on Joann's post at Killer Chicks!  In fiction, how dark is too dark?  And while you're there, enter our contest!

The book that will not end


I'm sitting at over 90k and the book is SO CLOSE.  But as I was plugging away last Sunday (and I never write on Sundays – that's how excited I was to be on the home stretch), my villain went and did something totally fabulous unexpected and the book took a detour.

Not a big detour, but big enough that I needed about three extra scenes I hadn't anticipated.  And now that those three scenes are written, I need about three more to wrap it all up.  AND there's a key "thing" (for lack of a better word) that I need to figure out before I can write those scenes and bring the story home.

Unfortunately, it's just not going to happen by tomorrow.  I've written 10k words in the past three days (which is a huge amount for me, I never write that much) and I am FRIED.

And guess what?  Today is my anniversary.  18 years since I started dating Steve.

And guess what else?  This Friday is also my anniversary.  10 years since we've been married.

So, even though I didn't finish my book today (big fat bummer), I'm giving myself – and Steve! – an anniversary present and UNPLUGGING for the next FIVE days.  That's right.  I'm gone till Monday.  I've got my posts here and at Killer Chicks all written and scheduled and ready to go, and I may pop in for a comment or two, but otherwise I'm offline. 

I need to be.  So I can come back on Monday fresh and happy, and be able to give my book the strong ending it deserves.

In the meantime, today is my usual day to post at Killer Chicks, and guess what I'm talking about?  Villain clich├ęs!  Meet me over there, and don't forget to enter our CONTEST!

Top 10 reasons why you should enter the contest at KILLER CHICKS

10.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

9.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

8.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

7.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

6.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

5.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

4.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

3.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

2.  Because it's easy and you could win a gift card.

1.  Because we really want more followers and what better way to entice you to follow us than to offer you the chance to win prizes and there really isn't much involved and did I mention that it's easy and you could win a gift card?

(And by the way, JB Lynn has posted a very cool Q&A with NYT bestselling author Laura Griffin over at Killer Chicks.  There's also a BOOK GIVEAWAY!  You DO NOT want to miss it!)


Not here, at Killer Chicks! In celebration of our blog and also because we love Halloween (of course we love Halloween), we've got not one, not two, but THREE contests running for the next two weeks. And we're awarding...

Even if you're not a regular reader of Killer Chicks and only stop in once in a while, the contest is still for you!

If you've never read Killer Chicks (for shame!) and have never stopped in ever (for shame again!), we are not above rewarding you for your newfound (and possibly fleeting) interest.

Guys, the contests are so easy I could cry.

(Okay, seriously, I've been writing the word "contest" so much the past few days that the word is beginning to look funny to me. Has this ever happened to you? But I digress.)

A $25 Amazon gift card for doing Hardly Anything
(i.e. be a Killer Chicks blog follower).


A $25 Amazon gift card for doing Mostly Nothing
(i.e. follow Killer Chicks on Twitter).


A $50 Amazon gift card for writing a very, very short story
(flash fiction, 150 words or less)
which only requires a tiny bit more effort than doing Hardly Anything or Mostly Nothing.
(Dude, 150 words! You guys post comments longer than that!)

And yes, you can enter all three contests. For more details and to participate (which of course you will, because it involves doing Very Little)...

It's Friday...

And I'm not here because I'm trying to finish my book.  I'm soooo close.

PLEASE wish me luck.  I can't tell you much I need to be finished this first draft. 

If I finish the book by Wednesday (my personal deadline), champagne for everyone!  Er, okay, not really.  But I will go around posting super sappy comments on everyone's blogs.  Promise.  It's worth it to see me sappy.  I do sappy really well.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

So close

Shhh.  Come closer.

I don't want to jinx myself, but...

I'm very, very close to the end of my first draft.

It's wrapping up a lot faster than I thought, and thank God for that.  Though I can't get too excited since I'm going to have to go back through the book and fill in a bunch of plot holes.  But the good news is I'm about a week away from having a beginning, middle and end of a Whole New Book.  A sudden plot turn (which came in the form of a genuine Aha! moment earlier this week) tied a lot of things up, and I'm so grateful for that rare bit of inspiration that seemed to fall from the sky at just the right time. I blogged about this yesterday on Killer Chicks, and I can definitely say that this book has been 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Mind you, sudden inspiration comes with a lot of baggage, which means to sell this new plot twist (and avoid the dreaded deux ex machina), I'm going to have start weaving it in earlier.  And that's a lot of work.

I cannot tell you how relieved I am.  Nothing quite matches the panic I feel the entire time I'm writing a first draft.  It's like I'm racing against myself, and trust me, I lose more than I win.

Anyway, enough about me.  Guess who Joann is interviewing at Killer Chicks today?

For reals.  See you there!

The Monster you could smell like

Thanks to my friend Joy for sending this to me.  She knows what a huge fan I am of the Old Spice Guy (click here for the original commercial).  Hope it makes you laugh!

Today's Wednesday!  I'm posting at Killer Chicks, and the question I'm asking is, how much of your writing is inspiration vs. perspiration?

Top ten random things that bug me right now

It's been awhile since I complained about something, so I have some catching up to do.  Here are the top ten random things that are bugging me at the moment:

10.  Wimpy hugs.  You want to give me a hug?  Then HUG ME.  None of this "I'll put my arms around you but not actually touch you" or any kind of one-armed crap.  HUG ME.  If we're friends or related, I'll enjoy the hug.  If we're neither, then there's a good chance I'll punch you (if Steve doesn't do it first).  If you're not sure what we are, then the safe bet is to shake my hand... but first, proceed to #9.

9.  Wimpy handshakes.  Girls, I'm specifically talking to you.  Don't give me your hand like you want me to kiss it.  This is not sixty years ago, and I'm not a dude.  Grip my hand.  Firmly.  Look me in the eye.  Otherwise I might squeeze extra hard just so I can see the pained look on your face.

8.  Not wearing deodorant.  I don't care how much of a tree hugging, deodorant-is-unnatural-I-love-my-natural-scent person you are, you stink.  Go to WalMart, buy the cheapest brand you find, and use it generously.

7.  Wearing too much perfume/cologne.  I know you think you smell great.  You don't.  You're making my eyes water and that makes me hate you, so please, tone it down.

6.  Cigarette smoke.  It's a free country, and sure, you can smoke (in designated smoking areas only, of course).  But just know that you really really stink, even though you don't think you do, and even though nobody's ever said anything to you.  I can smell the smoke on you, and being around you makes ME stink.  Which is totally unacceptable.

5.  Chewing with your mouth open.  Do I really need to elaborate on this one?  Close your mouth if there's food in it it.  I don't need to know what a burger, fries, and strawberry milkshake look like all mashed up together.

4.  One-sided conversations.  Please know that you talking on your cell phone at a volume that's 85% louder than normal and me not being able to hear the other person's responses is so annoying, it makes me want to stab you in the neck with my fork just so you'll get off the damn phone. 

3.  Telling me you don't have time to read.  Of course you're entitled to never make time for reading, but why tell ME that?  Obviously you're trying to hint that you're not going to read my book, and trust me, that's totally cool.  But telling me that you don't read AT ALL?  That just makes you seem like the opposite of cool.

2.  Telling me I look tired.  Especially when I'm not.  Nobody likes to hear they look they tired, even if it's true, so it's best not to say anything at all.

1.  Making it obvious you don't like my cats.  You probably don't like my cats, and I can almost guarantee they don't like you, but for the sake of keeping the peace, just act like you think they're cute.  It's the polite thing to do.

What's bugging you these days?

(You know what DOESN'T bug me?  Success stories!  Read how JB Lynn got her book deal!  She tells all at Killer Chicks!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have the Monday blues.  Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, which means all of our friends and family in Toronto are getting together and eating big turkey dinners with all the trimmings... and guess what, We're Not There.

I just want to wish my family and friends (who are most certainly not reading this blog because they have better things to do right now than be on the internet) a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  When you're bloated and sleepy from too much turkey (or ham), and needing to change into your fat pants and let out a really good belch, please think of me.

And on another note, I must send out a big, fat, hearty congratulations to my writing pal and blog partner JB Lynn, who has some very, very exciting news to share over at Killer Chicks!  Be sure to pop by and woohoo her!  (Hint:  I'm not the only Chick with a book coming out next summer!)

Introducing: First Line Fridays!

JB Lynn had a terrific post about famous first lines on Tuesday, and it sparked a fun idea.  Play along!

If this photo was the cover of a novel, what would the first line of the story be?

Here's my first line:
The statue turned his head toward the sound of the laughter and readied his sword.

Now YOU go!  Use your imagination!  And no critiquing!

(Don't forget to check out Killer Chicks today, where we're discussing our favorite series characters.)

I think I left my brain in Portland

I'm having one of those weeks where I really don't feel like doing shit.  I want to sleep, watch TV, eat bon bons, and basically be a lazy ass.

Of course, what I want to do and what I'm actually doing are two different things.  I'm writing (I've written a respectable 7k words in the past 3 days, putting me at close to 68k for the WIP).  I'm blogging.  I'm reading.  I'm keeping the house clean.  I'm even shopping (I bought the cutest shoes yesterday).  But I feel like I'm doing it all on auto-pilot.

Do you ever feel like you're on auto-pilot?  Or is it just me?  All the coffee in the world can't seem to snap me out of it.

Somebody slap me.

(Ooh... Joann is blogging about cheating and unfaithfulness at Killer Chicks today.  That might wake me up!  See you over there.)

Meet my agent, Victoria Skurnick

But not here!  I've published an interview with her over at Killer Chicks, so be sure to head there for her advice on query letters, her take on the current fiction market, and what songs she'd sing in a karaoke bar (yes, seriously).


Top Ten Tuesday

JB Lynn has compiled a terrific list of famous first lines over at Killer Chicks.  So for your Top Ten Tuesday, head there!

(It's a great post, you won't be disappointed.)

Monday musings

I spent the last few days in Portland, Oregon, and you know there's no way I can be in Portland and not stop at Powell's.  The Kindle simply can't compete with an indie book store the size of a city block, and who doesn't love the smell of books?

Here's what I picked up:

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I was happy to see that they had a small section reserved for banned books, in celebration of  Banned Books Week.  Four out of my five purchases came from this section.  The other (I Am Not A Serial Killer) is a debut novel I found in the "serial killer" section. 

In related news, those two textbooks I ordered were waiting for me when I got home.  Of course the first thing I did was excitedly flip through one of them... only to see an actual full-color crime-scene photo complete with dead body and lots of blood.  I wasn't prepared – I still had my shoes on and my purse over my shoulder.  It's one thing to write about this stuff, and a whole other thing to actually see real-life murder.  The victim – well, I won't describe it, but let me just say she died in a horrible, horrible way at the hands of someone who wanted to make damn sure she suffered.  It just confirms what I've always suspected:  no story we fiction writers invent could ever be more gruesome than real life.

And on that note, Happy Monday.  What's everybody up to this week?  Be sure to stop by Killer Chicks to see what we've got going on, and to share your weekly goals.

Fall of Giants

I got an email from Barnes & Noble the other week telling me that Ken Follett's latest historical novel was available for pre-order.  I don't read much historical (okay, I hardly read any), but I did enjoy both The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, so I clicked over to read up on his new Fall of Giants.

The first thing I saw was the 1 1/2 star rating.  Um, what?  The book wasn't even out yet, and yet there were already 200+ reviews with an average rating of one star?  I skimmed over the reviews and it became very clear what the problem with the book was, and it had nothing to do with the actual story.

Readers – most of whom hadn't read the book because it wasn't released yet – thought the book was too damned expensive.  So they were giving the novel terrible reviews, I suppose because they're trying to make a point to both the publisher and the bookseller.

Fall of Giants' list price is $36.  B&N is discounting it 41% online, which gets the price down to $21.06 for the hardcover.  A bit expensive for me.  If I bought every book I wanted to read in hardcover, I wouldn't be able to afford very many books.  Then I glanced at the eBook price.

The eBook is priced at $19.99.


Would you pay this much for an eBook?  I wouldn't, and I'm a fan of eBooks.  Typically I never spend more than $13 on a book, in any format.  What can I say, that's my comfort zone.  I have paid more for books occasionally if I was simply unable to wait for the paperback, but I have to be a big, big fan of the author to drop more than $20.  I have a budget to stick to!

What about you?  How much are you willing to spend on books?

The Kite Runner: A Review

Today across the blogosphere, in support of Banned Books Week, hundreds and hundreds of bloggers are reviewing a banned or challenged book they've read.  Well, I've made no secret of the fact that I suck at reviews (in fact, I hate them – they remind me of doing book reports in school), but because this is an important week, I will contribute my two cents about my favorite challenged book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Every so often I read a book that makes me so emotional, I can't stop thinking about it for days afterward.  The Kite Runner is a book like this.  Set in the political and religious upheaval of Afghanistan in the 1970s, Amir is a young boy who knows all about the terrible thing that happened to his best friend Hassan.  But instead of speaking up about it, he keeps quiet.  This really bad choice sets him up for a lifetime of guilt and affects every decision he makes, long after Amir and his father flee Afghanistan for the States.  Years later, he's given the opportunity to right some of the past wrongs, but some things are so awful they can never be fixed.

The Kite Runner is a painful read.  It's not sunshine and rainbows, and if you're waiting for some massive, redemptive payoff at the end, you're probably not going to get it.  The one moment of pure joy in the book is marred by an act of extreme violence against one of the most lovable characters.  It made me want to throw the book across the room and stop reading.

Sound depressing?  Well, it is.  But it's also a story that needs telling, because violence against children happens every day, everywhere.  Political oppression is a reality for millions of people.  And at some point in our lives, we've all made terrible decisions we've had to live with.

The Kite Runner is a story about fathers and sons, friendship, choices, political tyranny, and a journey towards redemption.  Hosseini's prose is far from perfect, but his voice is unflinchingly honest.  It's one hell of a debut novel.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

We love Banned Books Week!

It's Wednesday and I'm having fun over at Killer Chicks, wondering what would happen if my book was someday banned.  What numerous offenses would CREEP be accused of?  What offenses would YOUR book be guilty of?

CLICK HERE and play along!

Banned books week

It's Banned Books Week, friends! What does this mean?  Here's an explanation from the American Library Association:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 25−October 2, 2010

(reposted from the website)
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

JB Lynn has a wonderful post over at Killer Chicks today, so come on over and tell us what banned book you loved.  Because talking about censorship is a good thing.  A really good thing. 

May every challenged/banned book earn a hundred gazillion dollars.

Kickin' it old school

You know you're a geek when you're no longer in school but you drop big bucks on two textbooks and can't wait for them to be delivered.

Check out what I ordered (and yes, I'm ridiculously anxious for them to get here):

Practical Homicide Investigation:  Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques

Synopsis:  Renowned for being THE definitive source of homicide investigation, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques is the recognized protocol used by investigative divisions of major police departments throughout the world.  It is also the text used in most police academies, including the prestigious FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  It emphasizes essential procedures, combines detailed techniques with instructive case studies, and outlines the foundation on which to build a solid, prosecutable case.

Serial Violence:  Analysis of Modus Operandi and Signature Characteristics of Killers

Synopsis:  Linking the murders of an alleged serial killer to successfully present a case in court involves a specific methodology that has been scrutinized by the judicial system but is largely absent in the current literature.  Serial Violence: Analysis of Modus Operandi and Signature Characteristics of Killers fully explains the process of finding the nexus between one violent crime and another for the purpose of pursuing the same offender at trial.

Written by renowned experts, this book focuses on analyzing crimes of violence to unveil common characteristics that might prove useful in the identification, apprehension, and conviction of murderers.

Somehow I think these two textbooks are going to be a lot more interesting than anything else I read in university.  They were recommended to me by a fellow writer at ThrillerFest last year, and I've been meaning to order them for a while.  Mind you, I didn't need them with CREEP, but the new WIP involves a lot more police procedural stuff.  I find I'm getting stuck on a lot of scenes because I just don't know a lot of really basic things about police investigation and dead bodies.  I know that I can't put too much trust in what I see on TV shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order, much as I love watching them.

So what are you looking forward to this week?  Tell me here, or drop by Killer Chicks for Status Check Monday!

Long vs. short

I've had a really great writing week.  I shot right past my 10,000-word goal and am happy to say I'm sitting at 55k (or 198 pages).  Next week I'm going to focus on editing what I've got so far.  I've had a few Aha! moments as I've been writing, and now I need to go back and make those Aha! moments make sense.  I don't really have a choice – I won't be able to bring the story home if I don't clean up the first half.

Unfortunately, I think this draft is going to be really long.  I had hoped to wrap up around 80k, but based on the plotting I've done, I'm guessing I'll finish up somewhere around 110k or 115k, which means (big sigh) that I'll be cutting a lot of it during revisions.  Nobody likes a wordy thriller.  No sir.

So tell me, are your first drafts too long or too short?  Why is it I suspect most of you are in the too-short category, leaving me all by myself in Too-Long Land...? 

(Don't forget, it's Free-For-All Friday at Killer Chicks! Today's question for you to ponder:  What's your favorite true crime story?  I'll give you a hint of my answer – it involves a serial killing couple from my hometown in Ontario from the '90s.  Gruesome stuff.)

Dreams are evil

I had a dream last night that my cover for CREEP was pink.  Not hot pink, like our signature color on Killer Chicks, but pale pink.  Soft pink.  Girly pink.  I also dreamed it had curly letters that said CREEP: A NOVEL, and that there was a misty, blurry picture of a white flower (yes, flower).  My name was also in curly letters, but the font was so small it was barely readable.

It looked like a wedding invitation.

I woke up sweating.  Please God.  NO.

My subconscious mind is an evil, scary place, and clearly it's in overdrive at the moment to torment and terrorize me more than usual.  My editor at Gallery let me know last week that they were having a meeting to discuss the cover concept for my book, and of course that's all I've been thinking about lately.  Because cover art is really, really important.  I read somewhere that most buyers will purchase a book based on three things:  author recognition, the cover, and the back cover blurb.

As a debut novelist, clearly I don't have name recognition.  So the cover – front and back – really, really matters.  Now, I can't imagine that anyone who's read CREEP would imagine a flowery cover in baby pink... but you never know, do you?  You just never know what someone else's vision for your book will be.  A writer friend whose book comes out next year sent me a picture of his publisher's first attempt at his cover... and it was Not Good.  In fact, it was so Not Good that if it had been my cover, I would have curled up on the floor in a fetal position, sucking my thumb and wishing for the world to go away.  Luckily, they re-did the cover and now it's outstanding!  (Names withheld to protect the innocent.)

I can't imagine what it will feel like to see my cover for the first time.  I'm guessing it will make things feel more real.  Right now, even with all that's happened, things still feel sort of... surreal.

My favorite TV shows

Happy Top 10 Tuesday!  I stole this from Jennie Bailey's blog.  Here are my top 10 favorite TV shows of all time (some are still on the air, and some are long gone to TV heaven):

10.  Young & the Restless
Yes, I know.  This is nothing to be proud of.  But addiction is a disease.  I've been watching since I was 9 years old and I'll probably keep watching until the show goes off the air.

9.  Sons of Anarchy
An edgy, unapologetic look at life in a motorcycle club.  Sex, violence, drugs, guns, and bikes.  Add to that Stephen King's guest appearance sometime this season, and it's just about perfect.

8.  Without a Trace
An FBI team specializing in missing persons, headed by a hotheaded supervisor, solves cases in New York City.  I miss this show.  It was comfort food.  R.I.P.

7.  Grey's Anatomy
This alternates between gritty medical drama and soap opera, but I kind of think that's part of the appeal.  Ladies, make your choice:  McDreamy, McSteamy, or McKidd?  Or all three in a McAwesome McSandwich?  Oh, and there are interesting surgeries too.

6.  Criminal Minds
My blog is called The Serial Killer Files and this show is about FBI profiling and serial killers.  Need I say more?  Though I will say the show is missing a little something without the very intuitive Gideon.

5.  House
Super genius, super grumpy, super doctor.  Dr. Gregory House is a diagnostician, and it's positively gleeful to watch him berate his team into figuring out what strange disease the patient is suffering from.  Looking forward to seeing how his budding romance with Cuddy goes this season.

4.  Roseanne
There's only one comedy on here and it's ROSEANNE?  What can I say, the show was relatable for me (okay, maybe not the white trash part).  But their house was messy, they struggled financially, their issues were real, and they didn't look Barbie-perfect.  Not to mention, it was hella funny.  R.I.P.

3.  Law & Order and Law & Order SVU
Never thought I'd see the day when they'd cancel the original version of this show.  My favorite seasons were the ones with Logan & Briscoe (Chris Noth and the late Jerry Orbach).  R.I.P.  Thankfully I have SVU to keep me going.  Admist all the icky grit of solving sex crimes, we have the sizzling chemistry between Benson and Stabler.

2.  True Blood
Vampires, were-creatures and faeries, oh my!  You either love this show or don't get the hype.  I love this show.  It's bloody and funny and surprising.  Can't wait for next season.

1.  Dexter
No surprise here.  A serial killer who only kills other serial killers?  Genius!

Honorable mention goes to: Big Love
This didn't make my top ten list because last season was CRAP.  I'm really hoping the show will redeem itself this year, because the hook is irresistible:  Bill Henrickson is a polygamist.  He has three wives.  What else but chaos could possibly ensue? 

What are your favorite TV shows?

(When you're done telling me what entertains you on the boob tube, go hang out at Killer Chicks for a bit, where JB Lynn is talking about the original thrillers... children's bedtime stories!)

Dexter is delicious

To my great disappointment, I wasn't able to attend Jeff Lindsay's book signing at the extremely awesome Seattle Mystery Bookshop on Friday afternoon.  So I did the next best thing... I sent Steve instead.

Being the third person in line, my husband was able to snag this pic of the genius man who created Dexter:

And get me a signed copy of Jeff's latest book, DEXTER IS DELICIOUS:

Any fans of DEXTER out there?  I can't wait for Season 5 to start!

(Don't forget to stop by Killer Chicks and let us know what you've got going on this week.  It's Status Check Monday!)

Choose your weapon... for real this time

It's Free-For-All Friday at Killer Chicks, and the question of the day is:

If you were going to kill somebody, what weapon would you choose?

We're dying to know (pun intended).  So hop on over to Killer Chicks and tell us what your scary little mind is thinking.

On a more serious note...

It's been a really interesting week.  I ended up changing three characters' names in CREEP.  I know!  You'd think it'd be a little late for that, right?  But I got to thinking.  One character shares the last name of an entire family of Steve's relatives (I honestly didn't notice till I was re-reading my manuscript on the Kindle last weekend), another character shares the surname of an old friend (Steve caught this), and the third name references somebody famous (won't tell you who).  So I asked my editor about it, and while she didn't think it was anything to be super concerned about, we agreed that maybe name changes were in order just to be on the safe side.   

Surprisingly, the name changes don't bother me at all.  And I'm the Queen of Getting Really Attached To My Characters Just As I Originally Wrote Them.  Though I'll probably forget and refer to the characters by their old names and confuse people.

I also heard from my editor about other exciting things that are going on with the book... but I'll save that for Monday's Status Check on the Killer Chicks blog.

Another week full of WIN.  Surely this can't last.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Blast from the past

Recounting a conversation about sex and violence yesterday on the Killer Chicks blog took me right back to my video store clerk days.  I worked in a neighborhood store (a family-owned business, not a Blockbuster) for three years, and during that time, I made a lot of friends, made a few bucks, and watched a lot of movies.

It was mainly a weekend business – Fridays and Saturdays were crazy.  But during the week, one clerk was enough to handle the flow.  Tuesdays were always my "solo" day, which was cool, because on Tuesdays the New Releases would come out.  This meant that on Monday nights, after the shipments came in, we could bring home any new movies we wanted for free, so long as they were back in the store first thing the next morning.

If the store wasn't busy, I could sit at the counter and do my homework, read a book, or just watch movies.  We had TVs all over the store (tube, not flat screen) and we could watch anything we wanted, so long as they were rated PG.  My favorites?  Grease, The Princess Bride, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Grumpier Old Men.  If the store was really quiet, I might also watch Stand By Me or Dumb and Dumber, but these ones were riskier because Stand By Me had a dead body in it, and Dumb and Dumber had a diarrhea scene (tee hee hee).

Steve would come in for free rentals all the time (yes, we've been together that long).  I think he watched every straight-to-video action/kung-fu/horror movie ever made back then.  We were encouraged to watch everything (except the pornos) so we could recommend them to the customers.  We were even reimbursed for one movie ticket per week at the theater, so we could talk up the New Releases before they arrived in the store six months later.

Useless but interesting trivia:  Did you know that when Braveheart came out on VHS back in 1995, it cost $150 PER VIDEO?  New Releases were always expensive back then.  It took a long time for the store to make their money back.  A significant part of our revenue actually came from X-rated films.  In contrast, they cost about $30 per tape, and they'd rent for $5.99.

All told, the video store was a fun place to work.  The best part of the job?  Free movies!  The worst part?  Having to tell a customer he owed fifty bucks in late charges.  The most interesting part?  The customers who rented pornos.  They never looked like how you'd expect them to.

What was YOUR first job?

(Don't forget to pop over to Killer Chicks, where the fabulous Joann Swanson is discussing dark themes in young adult fiction.)

Choose your poison

It's WEDNESDAY!  You know what that means!  (Okay, maybe you don't, but that's why I'm reminding you.)

Today is my day to post on the Killer Chicks blog.  I'm discussing sex, violence, and my video store clerk days.  Intrigued?  Come on over.

As always, comments are most welcome.

(p.s.  For those of you with eagle eyes, yes, I did change the title of this post.  Choosing weapons is a topic for Killer Chicks on Friday!  This is what happens when you blog after midnight.  You stink up the place with brain farts.)

Top Ten Tuesday: A love letter to my Kindle

My dearest Kindle,

We only met three days ago.  You arrived in a nondescript cardboard box that was light as a feather.  I brought you home from the mailbox, eager to meet you.  After all, you were on backorder and I'd been waiting three whole weeks for you to arrive.  Ripping open your box was an exciting moment, and when I saw you for the first the time, you took my breath away.

Um, okay.  That's a lie.  Truth be told, there's nothing that interesting about the way you look AT ALL.

But don't be sad, looks aren't everything.  You're still a cool little dude and it's been wonderful getting to know you.  In the past three days, you've made me laugh, you've given me chills, and you've made my heart race.  So I might already have serious feelings for you.  And I'd like to share with you ten reasons why I think you might just be The One:

10.  You weigh nothing. 

9.  You "turn" the page faster than I could.

8.  When my eyes got tired last night, you let me make your font bigger.

7.  You displayed my own manuscript – originally written on Word – just like a real e-book.

6.  When my eyes got really tired, you read out loud to me.  (So what if your voice is a little robotic and you don't always pronounce the words right?) 

5.  You allowed me to download samples of books I'm interested in for free. 

4.  When I switched you back on this morning, you remembered exactly what page I was on the night before.

3.  You charged me a little bit less for books than the brick and mortar stores do.

2.  You took less than 60 seconds to download the books I bought.

1.  What you lack in color and style, you more than make up for in functionality.

So guess what?  I'm keeping you.  Welcome to the family!

(Are you keeping up with us at Killer Chicks? I sure as hell hope so, because today JB Lynn has a terrific post about the real-life Craigslist Killer that you do not want to miss.)

Spurts of excitement and long periods of nothing

That pretty much sums up the publishing game, at least in my experience.  Things can be vewwy vewwy quiet, as my old rabbit-hunter friend Elmer Fudd used to say... and then BAM!  Something totally exciting happens.

After a vewwy quiet July and August, I had a busy second week of September launching Killer Chicks with JB and Joann.  It's not as simple as you might think to launch a new site as a trio.  It involves a lot of conversation, flurries of email exchanges, conceptualizing, brainstorming, and discussions about branding, marketing, and promotion.  Don't get me wrong – it's FUN AS HELL.  But it's work, too.  Just ask the lovely Joann, our multi-media guru, who created our blog trailer (and if you haven't watched it yet, shame on you!  It rocks!).

Since the summer ended, I've also been writing the shit out of my current book.  The endeavor of writing a first draft always keeps me firmly rooted at the intersection of "I love my job!" and "Novel-writing is crazy!  What the hell am I doing?!", a special kind of insanity I'm sure all writers feel from time to time (at least I hope so – please God don't let me be the only one).  And right when I thought I had survived the week and had nothing to look forward to but hours of U.S. Open tennis, I get a BAM! right in my inbox.

My contract from Gallery finally arrived.  All eighteen pages of it.  I'm looking at it right now.  Here it is, folks, in black and white – actual PROOF that I am a writer.

So tell me.  What phase are you in?  Spurt of excitement, or long period of nothing?

(And be sure to check out what the other Killer Chicks are up to.  It's Status Check Monday on the blog!)