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...

WOOOO HOOOO!!!!!

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?


Mine:
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

Dammit.

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!)

Announcing...



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).

OR...

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

OR...

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).


Enjoy!

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.

WHOA!

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?